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though insignificant in the eyes of the world, and perhaps one who really speaks and acts in some respects indiscreetly, yet to make him the successful instrument of conveying his grace to many immortal souls.* His design is the same now, as in the days of the Apostles, that no flesh should glory in his presence: that all may see and acknowledge, respecting Christians, the truth of the Apostle's declaration-Of him, (that is, of God,) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
It is only the same divine grace that is efficacious
TO EDIFY THE CONVERTED MAN.
It is true that the ministry of the word is the means of edification. It is appointed of God for that purpose. Eph. iv, 11,12. He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors, and Teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
Yet it is but the means, and effectual only as the Holy Ghost makes it so. All our growth in piety is in proportion to the free grace of God, given according to his own infinite love and good pleasure. Eph. i, 5; Phil. ii, 13. The Apostle, in the case of the Thessalonians, puts this distinction very clearly and expressly. They
*The debate between an aged Christian of little humau learning, who had suffered in the persecutions, and an arrogant Philosopher, who derided the Clergy as ignorant, is very instructive. While many Christians were fearful as to the result, the Philosopher was so struck with the plain account of the creation; the incarnation, life, and death of Christ, and the future judgment, given by the Christian, that he owned himself vanquished, declaring that he was changed by a divine influence. See Sozomen, lib. i, ch. xvii; or Milner, vol. ii, p. 57.
were greatly edified by his preaching, and be shews why they were so; our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. It is this divine power that takes away prejudices, (2 Cor. x, 5.) and makes a lasting impression by writing the truth on our hearts. Jer. xxxi, 31; 2 Cor. iii, 3.
That the Holy Spirit is the only efficient cause of all spiritual edification, might easily be shewn at length, by going through all the graces of the advanced Christian, and marking how his faith, his repentance, humility, love to God, and deadness to the world are given him from above. One passage may suffice-the fruit of the Spirit, (not of our natural power and disposition, not of the talents of man, not of eloquence and learning,) the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
The experience of Christians corresponds with this statement. The same truths have a very different effect on our minds at different times, when we can assign no ordinary cause adequate to account for this difference. Sometimes when we read the Bible, or hear sermons, we feel dead and dull, wandering and distracted; we strive perhaps against it, and yet feel equally lifeless and incapable of raising our thoughts heavenward to God. At other times the word is quick and powerful, every part of it seems full of weighty and important truth, our hearts are softened and made tender, we receive the Gospel, we retain it, and are edified by those very truths which at a former season made no impression at all. The principles which we have maintained from the Holy Scriptures explain all this. In one case it pleases God justly to withhold that grace to which we
have no claim, and can only receive at any time, of unmerited mercy; and at another time, in boundless mercy and undeserved love, he worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The variety which we may observe among real Christians springs from one and the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will. A great difference may be seen among Christians. There are those of whose final acceptance with God we should be sorry to doubt, for they appear to be resting on the only sure foundation, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to be generally upright and sincere in their conduct; yet their tempers are but little subdued and sanctified, their conversation is generally on worldly things, or the mere externals of religion, and they manifestly enjoy little comfort in the ways of godliness.
But you sometimes see another character, a devoted Christian, whose heart is filled with love to Christ. There is a holy atmosphere, as it were, about him. Wherever he goes, he is a blessing. He is like a fragrant flower brought into a room, the refreshing odour of which diffuses itself among all the company.* His reception of the truth has made him meek and humble, kind and loving, holy and devout, cheerful and happy. He goes about doing good, a fair pattern of the great Redeemer, in whom he is trusting and rejoicing, in whose presence he lives, and whose glory he is daily advancing.
The whole of this difference is according as God the
A Hindoo convert recently expressed this sentiment to his Christian instructor thus beautifully, "May God's mercy be with you: for ever I bless him that I have seen you; as the Sandal tree communicates its fragrance to every thing that touches it, so may I retain the savour of your conversation."
Coly Spirit deals to every man the measure of grace. here is no Christian disposition of which he is not the uthor.
The lukewarm Christian seeks not, or seeks ot constantly, and earnestly, this aid. The devoted Christian quickened by the Spirit of Christ, has sought nd obtained a large supply of the Spirit, and he enters ully into the declaration, We are not sufficient of ourelves to think any thing as of ourselves, our sufficiency s of God.
Immediately connected with our edification are three mportant blessings, imparted by the Holy Spirit through hearing, which it may be profitable more particularly to consider: The knowledge of the glory of Christ--the consolation of the soul of the believer-and his sealing unto the day of redemption.
(1.) The Holy Spirit specially GLORIFIES CHRIST IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD. Our Lord speaking of the work of the Spirit says, (John xvi, 13, 14.) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. The Holy Ghost shews us unsearchable riches in Christ, suited to all our wants, and never to be exhausted. He discovers to us, efficaciously and experimentally, wisdom in Christ for our ignorance, righteousness for our guilt and condemnation, sanctification for our pollution, and full redemption from all our misery and ruin. We cannot discern this of ourselves. Our minds are covered with prejudice, and our hearts filled with the love of sin. The Holy Spirit removes our prejudices, purifies our affections, and enables us to discern the inexpressible value of Christ and his salvation. By
nature we see no form nor comeliness in Christ, no beauty in him that we should desire him. Hence the Apostle tells us, that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. When taught by this Spirit, the soul supremely values and eagerly thirsts after the knowledge of Christ, and feels and says with the Apostle, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I hav suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Phil. iii, 8. The atone ment and intercession of our Lord Christ, his love and grace, his tenderness, sympathy, and compassion, are discerned by us, and applied with power to our hearts through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, in the ministry of the word. Jesus Christ, and him crucified, is the very substance of a faithful ministry, and such preaching is in demonstration of the spirit and of power, and Christians can say of such truths, God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. 1 Cor. ii, 1-10. To preach Christ is the Minister's work; to hear Christ is the people's; but to reveal Christ is the express office of the Holy Ghost. If any of my readers have hitherto felt little value for Christ, and little love to him, and feeble desires after him, they may here see the true cause—a want of the special aid of the Holy Ghost. O let it be our great concern to obtain this inestimable benefit; let it be our great desire that the Holy Spirit may discover the glories of the Saviour, as exhibited in his word, that our hearts may be drawn to him.
(2.) The Holy Spirit makes THE WORD OF CHRIST
A SOURCE OF GREAT COMFORT AND GLADNESS.
This is one important part of the ministry. The blessed Spirit gives the direction to ministers, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem: