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and, in short, his whole self is alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in him, because of the blindness of his heart. Where shall he find help, in such a state as this, but from the new-creating, the life-giving energy of the Holy Ghost?—of that Spirit, which alone can take of the things of Christ, and shew them to such a soul; discovering to it the fulness and the freeness of Salvation, the sufficiency of the Atonement, the completeness of the righteousness of the Redeemer. By whatever expressions the Scriptures describe the turning of a sinner's heart to God, we are always referred to one and the same Spirit, as the great first cause of the change. If the love of God has been shed abroad in his heart, it is by the Holy Ghost. If the kingdom of God is established within him, the righteousness and peace and joy of it are in the Holy Ghost. If he abounds in hope, it is through the power of the Holy Ghost. If he is saved with an everlasting salvation, it is by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. So that we may say, with the Apostle, All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit. So many of you as have experienced the blessed effects of which I am speaking, are living witnesses of the power of the Holy Ghost. You know that you were in utter darkness, until He enlightened your mind—shewed you your sin and danger—exhibited to you Jesus, in all His beauty and excellency—pointed you to Him, as the only refuge– wrought in you the desire to apply to Him for pardon, peace, and salvation: and, having thus become your Teacher and your Guide, became also your Sanctifier and Comforter—purifying your
hearts by faith—cheering them by a sense of divine love—pouring into them the consolations of the ea:ceeding great and precious promises—giving you occasional foretastes of the heavenly joy—and sealing you unto the day of redemption. You know, that, without His influence, all is still DARKNEss and DEATH in the soul: ye were sometimes darkness; but 3you hath he quickened.
What is thus declared of a single soul, is necessarily applicable to a family, or a tribe, or a nation, or a world. See, then, at once, the cause of all the darkness that covers the earth !
See, for instance, in the first place, the reason why the PROFEssl NG CHRISTIAN world AMong ourselves exhibit so little, comparatively, of the life and power of religion. With the name of Christ upon their lips, and His cross on their foreheads, and His vows on their consciences, Christians ought to be lights shining in a dark place. But what is the fact! Of how large a portion of professed Christians are we compelled to say, the light that is in them is darkness / How fearfully extensive, among the avowed followers of the Crucified Jesus, is that appalling designation, Having not THE SPIRIT To this it must be ascribed, that, in our own favoured land, we are so continually displaying a form of godliness without the power; and shewing to the world around us, in such a multitude of instances, a chR1st IANITY without christ! To this, also, we trace the lamentable fact, that we exemplify so little the description given of the Primitive Christians, who, because they were filled with the Holy Ghost, were of one heart and one soul.
If we pass on, to view the ANCIENT churches of cHRIST ABRoad, we find, in their withered and decayed state, a testimony to the truth, that where the Spirit is not poured out, all is barren, and dry, and dead. How have the Greek, the Syrian, the Coptic, the Armenian, and other Churches felt the want of that holy influence How do they now sit in the dust, while Ichabod seems written on their walls l In proof of their affecting condition, I need but to refer you to the Sermon preached before this Society, and to the Volume of Christian Researches, by its Representative in the Mediterranean ; and I may renew his appeal to you, in the words of his Text upon the occasion just referred to, and say, He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
And why is IsrAEL yet an outcast from the Lord? Why have they, as a people, the eyes that cannot see, and the ears that cannot hearken, and hearts that cannot understand, unto this day ? To what cause is it owing, that Jerusalem, at the present moment, is a desert, and Zion a desolation ? The Prophet Isaiah will answer—Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: because the palaces shall be forsaken, the multitude of the city shall be left, the forts and towers shall be for dens, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; UNTIL THE sPIRIT BE PourED UPoN Us FROM ON HIGH, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest: (Is. xxxii. 13–15.) Israel waits, in fact, the fulfilment of the promise in our Text. -
The desolations of the Holy Land have so deeply impressed the mind of that devoted servant of the Society whom I have just mentioned, on a visit from which he has lately returned ; and he has felt the affecting descriptions of what that country should become, contained in the prophecy of Jeremiah, so literally and exactly fulfilled; that he has urged the Society to print the Book of that Prophet, and to circulate it widely throughout the ancient scene of Israel's glory. But I hasten to that part of the subject, which
claims our more particular attention at this time. If we would see our need of the Spirit's influence, let us cast our eyes on the moral condition of the HEATHEN world. Why, but for want of that influence, are so many of the nations still sitting in darkness, and in the shadow of death 2 lt is true, the efforts of Christians to evangelize the nations have been blest, wherever they have been made. But to how small a portion of that moral desert does such an observation apply l—only to a few spots of the earth, which have been visited with the dew of heaven; bearing no greater proportion to the world at large, than Gideon's watered fleece did to the surrounding land. Here and there, a passing cloud has dropped a gracious rain upon the earth, and refreshed it when it was weary; but the exigencies of the case require a pouring out of the Spirit. God forbid that I should undervalue the labours of those, who, by the teaching of His own Spirit, have ministered the word of life to the Heathen, and yet do minister. No 1 I would unite with them in praise to Him, who has permitted us to cultivate ANY of that barren land, and that.He has condescended to water it from above. Still, we have had as yet but a spit INKLING of the promised blessing, some DRoPPINGs merely from the heavens. We wait the pouring out of the Spirit. The dark places of the earth have their cruel habitations still: the gods of the Heathen have their deluded worshippers still: nay, the Devil himself has his temples and his houses still ; and will keep them, as the strong man armed kept his palace and his goods, in peace, until the Spirit be poured out from on high. How obvious is it, then, that, in the further prosecution of our Missionary Labours, we need increased manifestations of this Divine Influence 1 Let us, however, but FEEL our need of this more abundant influence, the PRoM1s ED influence of the Spirit of the Lord—and let that conviction excite to earnest supplication—and immediately difficulties vanish. Natural improbabilities give way to divine certainties, while the ear of faith hearkens to the sure word of prophecy, which declares, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. When the Second Temple was building, under Joshua and Zerubbabel, the Prophet Zechariah had a vision which referred to the work that they had in hand, and is recorded in the Fourth Chapter of his Prophecies. He saw a candlestick of pure gold (representing the Church of God), which was supplied with oil in a supernatural manner; for he saw two olive-trees growing, one on each side of the bowl which was on the top of the candlestick; and a branch of each of them distilled, of its own accord, abundance of oil, through a golden pipe, into the bowl: thus intimating the out-pouring of the Divine Influence, independently of human