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prayers will be answered. And when these desires become fervent, and these expectations very lively, “the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and we pray “ with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Our longings and hopes are greater than any words can express ; while the language of the formalist vastly exceeds his real meaning.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all peace "and joy in believing, that ye may abound in “ hope by the power of the Holy Ghost." And "now abideth, faith, hope, and love; but the "greatest of these is love.2 ” If then these graces are to abide in the church, when miraculous gifts ceased ; surely we need the Holy Spirit to create and preserve them in our hearts, at least as much as the apostles and primitive Christians did. “The “ fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffer"ing, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tem“perance.” His “ fruit is in all goodness, and "righteousness and truth.” “The love of God is "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the "truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of “the brethren,” &c. “ If ye through the Spirit do "mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”What are we to understand by this language? Is it all little, or nothing, to us? Is it not necessary, that we should love God and one another? Are meekness and temperance no longer requisite? Or are our natures so much
Rom. xv. 13. ' 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
better than those of the primitive Christians, that we are of ourselves inclined and able to perform those things, which they even in an age of miracles could not attain to, except by the Holy Spirit? Let the character of modern Christians at large, compared with that of the ancient church, supply an answer to these questions.
In a word, “If any man have not the Spirit of “ Christ, he is none of his."”! All true believers are “ led by the Spirit;" “ live in the Spirit;"' “ walk in the Spirit;” and are “an habitation of “God through the Spirit.” “What, know ye “not, that ye are the temple of God; and that “ the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Certainly then you are very ignorant of real christianity, and strangers to the distinguishing experience of true Christians.
All genuine consolation likewise is conferred by the Holy Spirit, who is emphatically called “the Comforter.” As a Spirit of adoption, he “ wit“ nesses with our spirits, “ that we are the chil“ dren of God,” not by any immediate revelation, but by forming our hearts to all holy and filial affections towards God, and bringing reverence, confidence, love, gratitude, and zeal for his honour, into lively exercise. And in this view “the love of the Spirit,” in not only renewing our depraved nature, but coming to dwell in us as a Comforter, and a Spirit of adoption, and as the
* Rom. viii. 9.
Seal, Earnest, and First Fruits of our eternal inheritance, demands our highest admiration and most lively gratitude. “Thy Spirit is good; lead “me into the land of uprightness !""
Whatever “ strength in our souls” we need, in order to “all long-suffering with joyfulness;" to resist temptation, to overcome the world, and to meet death with cheerful hope, is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Nay, we have ground to think, that the felicity of heaven will not arise independently from external situation, or the state of our minds; but also from the immediate influences of this Holy Comforter. For our Lord, evidently speaking of the Holy Spirit, says, “ The water that I shall “ give him, shall be in him a well of water, spring“ing up into everlasting life.”
With these things in our view, let us return to the promise of the text. “ If ye, being evil, know how to “give good gifts unto your children; how “much more shall your heavenly Father give the :“ Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” God is far more ready to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than any parent is to give bread to a starving supplicating child! as much more ready, as his goodness transcends that of fallen man! as his riches exceed our poverty! Surely human language is incapable of expressing any thing more forcibly. Parents may be destitute of natural
Ps. cxliii. 10.
affection; paternal kindness may be wearied out by repeated provocations; and often a father must greatly deny himself, while he supplies the wants of his children: yet so strong are the feelings of a parent, that depraved as men are, few can bear to see their children in distress, without relieving them: “How much then more will your heavenly « Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask as him!” Our Lord illustrates his meaning in this promise, by his address to the woman of Samaria, at that time an immoral character: “ If thou « hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that e said unto thee, give me to drink; thou wouldst u have asked, and he would have given thee living « water.” Had she asked he would have given; and when she was further instructed, no doubt she asked and received. His words in another place further explain his meaning; as well as prove, when compared with the text, that “ He « and the Father are one.” “If any man thirst,
let him come unto me and drink. He that be«. lieveth on me, as the Scripture hath said, Out «c of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. « But this he spake of the Spirit, which they w that belive on him should receive.” And again he saith, “Let him that is athirst come, and who« soever will, let him take of the water of life “ freely.”—“How long, ye simple ones, will ye « love simplicity, and scorners delight in their es scorning, and fools hate knowledge ? Turn
"you at my reproof; I will pour out my Spirit “ unto you.”
This then is the promise, and these are the persons, who are instructed and invited to come and ask that they may have it fulfilled unto them. And what could the largest promises, which the greatest of men could make you, (even if to be depended on,) avail you, compared with this “exceeding “great and precious promise” of “God our “ Saviour?"
Conceive of a man most guilty, most depraved, most enslaved to bad habits, sunk in the grossest ignorance, or entangled in the most dangerous delusions, and under the greatest terrors and sufferings: yet suppose him to hear, and lay hold of, and plead, this promise, as one in earnest, and ready to follow the dictates of his conscience, as far as convinced, and, according to the evident doctrine of Scripture, which has been set before you; he would certainly be brought to repentance, to the knowledge of Christ and faith in him; to hope, rejoice, love, obey, and worship in spirit and truth; and at length to join the worshippers before the throne of God, in their exalted adorations, and ineffable felicity!
II. Then let us consider the suitableness of this promise to our condition, and the state of things in this evil world.
Considered without the gospel, in what adeplorable