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“ on the earth; and it grieved him at his heart."“ God looked upon the earth, and behold it was “ corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon “the earth."” Accordingly he destroyed the whole depraved race, except righteous Noah and his family: yet directly after the deluge, he testified that “the imagination of man's heart is evil from “ his youth.” Undoubtedly then some vast change had taken place in the human character, since the time when “God created man in his own image," and pronounced him “ very good.” .
This change, this fallen state of human nature; this depravity, called in Scripture “ death in tres“ passes and sins,” made way for “the glorious “gospel of God our Saviour,” which was predicted in emphatical but obscure language immediately after the fall. For it pleased God to take occasion from man's apostacy, to glorify the riches of his mercy and grace, in harmony with his justice, holiness, and truth, in saving us poor miserable sinners. -Now the promise of the REDEEM ER (God manifest in the flesh), through whose person, righteousness, atonement, and mediation; redemption was made and salvation proclaimed, is the grand promise of the Old Testament. “The “ testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” In like manner, the atonement being made, the everlasting righteousness brought in, the Redeemer glorified, the way into the holiest mani,
* Gen. vi. 5-12,
fested, and the gospel published; the promise of the Holy Spirit may justly be considered as the grand and peculiar promise of the New Testament: for, in fact, what else is wanting to complete our recovery to God and holiness?—Thus, in our admirable litany, we have this morning been praying to the divine Saviour, . By the mystery of thy * Holy incarnation; by thy holy nativity and cir'cumcision; by thy baptism, fasting, and tempta
tion; by thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy "cross and passion; by thy precious death and
burial; by thy glorious resurrection and ascen‘sion; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost; Good Lord deliver us.'
I have lately called your attention, my brethren, to the scriptural doctrine of “repentance unto “ life;" to the evil and desert of sin, as committed against God; in order to evince that all men need to repent; and to the love of Christ towards all who do repent: so that the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Author and Giver of life, by whose influences alone either repentance, faith, or any other spiritual grace can be produced in our hearts, and practised in our lives, seems a proper close to the general subject. “Do not err, my beloved “ brethren, every good and every perfect gift is “ from above, and cometh down from the l'ather * of lights.” And, “if ye being evil, know how s to give good gifts unto your children; how
“ much more shall your heavenly Father give his “ Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
I. I purpose then to make some introductory remarks on the subject.
II. I shall endeavour to shew what is implied in this encouraging promise ;
III. Shew, in several particulars, how it suits our present condition, and the state of things in this evil world, and,
IV. Make some application of the subject.
I. I shall make some introductory remarks on the subject.
The Holy Spirit is in Scripture spoken of in language appropriate to a personal agent. He is represented as choosing, willing, commanding, and “ giving to every man, severally as he will:" and therefore it has in every age been customary to speak of him as a Person. The divine perfections and operations are also expressly ascribed to him: he is spoken of as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; Christians are temples of God, because the Spirit of God dwelleth in them; and in yarious ways, the incommunicable attributes of Deity are ascribed to him. Now there can be but
one God; and if three distinct personal agents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are constantly mentioned, in language which implies divine perfections; then, for want of some more adequate words, of which, in our present state, we are devoid; we say that there are three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot better express ourselves, though we do not comprehend the full import of our own words; and none, in any age of Christianity, have objected to these expressions, but they who have at length manifested an aversion to the mysterious doctrine taught by them, and to the other grand peculiarities of the sacred Scriptures.
This one God in three Persons, is the Object of the Christian's adoration: into this one“ name of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” we are all baptized: and the mystery which we cannot explain or comprehend, is yet kept in view, whenever we really exercise faith in the mercy of the Father, the redemption and mediation of the Son, or the grace of the Holy Spirit.—“ The Father " loved the world; and sent his only begotten Son " to be the propitiation for our sins.” The ascended Saviour sends the Holy Spirit, to communicate by his powerful agency, that redemption which he purchased on the cross. Thus the ‘Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the ' Son:' as St. John in vision saw "a pure River of
“ the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding “out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb.'”.
The gift of the Iloly Spirit, as stated in Scripture, is twofold: his immediate inspiration made men prophets; his regenerating and sanctifying influences, make men saints or holy persons.These are perfectly distinct endowments. The most of those who have been, and are, made holy persons, have had no prophetical or miraculous gifts bestowed on them: nor can any sober man suppose, that every one, who would pray for the Holy Spirit, should be made a prophet, or enabled to work miracles. On the other hand, some prophets were not saints: they received the Spirit of propbecy, for the use of others, but not that of sanctification to the saving of their own souls. We therefore entirely disclaim all pretensions to the Holy Spirit, in respect of his miraculous and prophetical gifts: we neither expect, nor teach others to expect, any such thing. In this sense the Iloly Spirit is not now given, or promised: and if any persons inadvertently use language capable of being understood as a claim of this kind, we would enter a protest against it, as inaccurate, and of bad tendency, however well meant,
We do not expect that the Holy Spirit will be given in answer to our prayers, to inform us impediately, as by a whisper, when either awake or
'Rey, xxii. d. 2 Matt, vii. 21, 22.