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snare of the devil, who takes sinners captive at his "will."
But beware also of a dead faith ; which may keep men in the way of instruction, but is wholly unavailing to salvation. The faith demanded by our Lord is a living active principle : it receives him for all those purposes, which he came into the world to effect; it applies to him, depends on him, and follows his directions : and “working by love,” “purifying the heart,” and“ overcoming the world,” it produces unreserved obedience to Christ, and careful imitation of his most perfect example.
The subject before us is peculiarly suited to the burdened conscience and desponding heart of those, who are “poor and of a contrite spirit, and tremble " at God's word.” Did the Son of God so love and pity proud obstinate rebels and enemies, as to give himself a sacrifice on the cross for their sins? And will he, now on his glorious throne, refuse to stretch forth his powerful arm, to rescue the humble penitent who earnestly supplicates his mercy ? No, my brethren, he delights to save. Come to him, wait on him, wait in the appointed means, and you shall soon know the power of his resurrection, the depth of his condescension, and the riches of his grace.
But if we have tasted that the Lord is gracious: and can rejoice in having such a Representative and Advocate, to manage our concerns in heaven: let us remember, that we are honoured to be his representatives on earth; to shew the excellency of his religion by our example; to be useful to his redeemed people, and to promote his cause in the world. Let
us then ask ourselves whether Paul, when constrained by the love of Christ, would have declined any service, as too mean, laborious, self-denying, expensive, or perilous, which the command and honour of his Lord called him to perform? And whether he would not have more fully improved even our talents and advantages, than we have hitherto done? Let us review our conduct, and consider what ability or opportunity we have of honouring Christ among men; let us reflect on our obligations and prospects; and see to it, that our lights be burning and our loins girded, that when he cometh we may be found watching, and employed in a proper manner.-And “ may “the God of peace, who brought again from the dead “ the great Shepherd of the sheep; through the blood “ of the everlasting covenant; make us perfect in
every good work to do his will; working in us “ that which is well-pleasing in his sight through Je. “ sus Christ. To whom be glory for ever and eyer. 66 Amen."
Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high. IN the beginning of this chapter, the evangelical prophet foretels the auspicious advent and benign government of the Messiah ; perhaps with some reference to Hezekiah's equitable and prosperous reign over Judab. He then denounces sentence on the careless, obstinate, and unbelieving Jews, in language aptly descriptive of their condition, ever since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans : and then he declares, that these desolations would endure, “ until the Spi“rit should be poured upon them from on high ;" the happy effects of which gracious dispensation he predicts in the most energetick language. This seems to be the prophetical meaning of the chapter ; the concluding verses of which have not hitherto received
* Preached on Whitsunday, 1794.
their accomplishment. But the present occasion fises our attention to the words of the text : and I shall endeavour from them,
I. To explain what is meant by “ the pouring “out of the Spirit from on high.”
II. To consider more particularly the nature and effects of this promised blessing.
III. To make some remarks on the emphatical word “ Until.”
IV. To point out some instructions more immediately arising from the subject. I. I would explain the words here used.
The apostle calls Christianity“ the ministration of " the Spirit:*” and it is certain, however it may be overlooked, that the promise of the Spirit pervades the New Testament, in the same manner as that of a Mes. siah does the Old. The language used concerning this subject, evidently implies the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit. He is represented as hearing, speak. ing, willing, commanding, forbiiding, and as receiv. ing, and executing, a commission : and this not in allegories and parables, but in histories, didactick discussions, laws, and grants, where precision is indis. pensably necessary, and a literal interpretation peculiarly suitable: yet beyond all doubt these are personal actions. At the same time divine perfections and ope. rations are ascribed to him. He is said to dwell in the hearts of all believers, as in his temple, to " search “the deep things of God,” to raise the dead, and to
2 Cor. iii. 8.
effect a new creation.--He is called, “ the Spirit of “holiness,” “ the Spirit of truth,” “the Spirit of life,” " the Spirit of power,” “ the Spirit of wisdom and "knowledge,” “ the eternal Spirit,” and “ the Com" forter.” If then the Holy Spirit be a Person possessing divine perfections, and performing divine operations; and if the same be true of the Father, and of the Son also: the ancient doctrine of the Trinity is evidently scriptural, though we can neither explain nor comprehend so deep a mystery.
If we further examine the subject, we shall find, that the scriptures uniformly ascribe all miraculous powers, prophecy, and inspiration to the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit: so that the wonderful works of Christ himself, and the exercise of his mediatorial offices on earth, are spoken of as performed by his anointing : “ The Holy Ghost was not given " by measure unto him :*" and St. Paul particularly describes the diversity of gifts communicated " by the same Spirit, dividing to every man severally
as he willed.t" The predictions of the prophets concerning the pouring out of the Spirit, in the days of the Messiah,$ as well as our Lord's promises to his disciples, may have a special reference to these extraordinary gifts and powers; and to that display of the ascended Redeemer's glory and majesty, which was made on the day of Pentecost : but it should also be noted, that effects were produced, at that important season, by the same divine Agent, which were
| Isai. xliv. 3.
* 1 John i. 34. Acts i. 2. x. 38. of 1 Cor. xii.
Joel ü. 28.