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there is your life hid in Christ, there are your true riches, and thither must you go to take care of them. You are dead to the world, and can no longer live to it; your life is spiritual and heavenly as is your life, such must be the actions which flow from it, the inclinations that attend it. Since therefore you are dead to the world, alive to Christ through the Spirit of holiness, you must act like members of Christ, and set your affections on things above, where Christ your life is ascended. Hence it is that St. Paul often exclaims against the absurdity of a Christian's living in sin. You may just as well say that all the actions of life may be performed in the grave, when a man is dead and buried, as say that a Christian may continue in sin: for the Christian has crucified and buried the body of sin. How then, as the Apostle cries out, shall we who are dead to sin continue any longer therein?' Sin is the only poison by which the life of Christ, which is in us, may be destroyed. It is a life which no man can take from you but yourself. Those who kill the body cannot reach it not all the powers of darkness, sin only excepted, can separate believers and our Lord. But every unmortified lust, every unsubdued vice, is a cancer that eats into our very vitals, and, if we do not cut them off, will in the end destroy us quite. Holiness is as necessary to our spiritual life, as eating and drinking are to our natural; and therefore the Apostle's conclusion in the text is just, 'If we be risen with Christ,' if we live with him, 'we must seek the things which are above.'
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE XLIV.
JAMES, CHAP. III.-VERSE 17.
THE gifts of the Holy Spirit are of two kinds; either extraordinary, and peculiar to certain times and persons, and given, not for the sanctification of those on whom they are bestowed, but for the edification of the church; or common to all times of the gospel, necessary to perfect the man of God in good works, and tendered to all Christians through Christ. Of the first were those gifts bestowed on the Apostles, to enable them to convince the world by signs and wonders of the truth of their mission. It is evident, from St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiii., that the gifts of this sort conveyed no sanctifying grace to the receiver; as he supposes that they may consist with a want of charity, i. e. without the moral qualifications of a Christian; and we are therefore warranted in concluding that they do not convey the sanctifying grace of the gospel, and that they are given, not for the sake of the receivers, but for those who through them are to be converted to the knowlege of the truth: and it was for this reason that they were given in the primitive church. It is manifest then that the Scripture ascribes a twofold operation to the Spirit of God. The first has been already described; and it remains to consider the second, in explaining the words of the text; viz. the affording assistance and strength to all Christians in the performance of the duties enjoined by the gospel. The wisdom mentioned in the text is the wisdom that is from above; and we are instructed how to obtain it by St. James, chap. i. ver. 5.; and in verse 17 he shows on what grounds his advice stands. The instruction given, that we
should ask this wisdom in faith; and the reason assigned to support this faith, that with God is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, sufficiently show that this wisdom is the grace promised under the gospel: for the declaration of God's purpose to give this wisdom, which is only to be found in the gospel, must be supposed, before the immutability of his purpose can be given as a ground of hope to obtain the good gift by the prayer of faith. The wisdom in the text, then, signifies the grace of God promised in the gospel; that principle of holiness by which the disciples are enabled to mortify the deeds of the flesh; and of which St. Paul has said, If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. This grace is called wisdom, as the fear of the Lord is said to be the beginning of wisdom; the wisdom of man consisting in obedience to God, and not in any degree of knowlege. The fruits ascribed to this wisdom in the text are not learning and knowlege, but all moral qualifications. A knowlege of mysteries and things sacred is mentioned by St. Paul among the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit; but he speaks of them as not necessarily inferring charity, and therefore as distinct from that grace or wisdom, which is pure, and peaceable, and full of mercy. The gifts of God are free, and we have no right to demand an equal distribution of them: if the gifts of the Spirit were granted only to some, we should not be obliged by the terms of our religion to render an account of God's proceeding herein. But the promise of the Spirit being given to all Christians, and represented as the purchase of Christ's obedience, it is evident that we cannot account for our being Christians, without showing a reason for the necessity of grace to render our hopes of salvation effectual. This is a great point of difference between the gospel and natural religion, particularly as regards the state of mankind before the gospel. If men were in that state of original purity in which we must suppose God to have created them, what grace was wanting? If they have fallen
from that state, we cannot dispute the grace of God unless we can show that it was impossible or improper for him to redeem the world. The fall of man being supposed, is it not more natural to think that God, to save the world, should destroy the power of sin, than that he should grant immortal happiness to unreformed sinners? The best argument against the necessity of grace would be a proof that the effects of the Spirit generally are or may be attained by the mere strength of nature. If men are naturally inclined to virtue and holiness, they will not want grace to make them so: but this has never yet been the case. The works of the Spirit are described in the text, and in many parts of Scripture: St. Paul, in Gal. v. 22. enumerates the fruits of the Spirit, and adds, they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. There is no one so little acquainted with human nature as to suppose that there exists a people who would answer to this description of St. Paul: but if we look in to the account which the same Apostle gives, Gal. v. 19., of the works of the flesh, we shall find too great a correspondence between them and the historical accounts of all nations. After considering the difference between the works of nature and of grace, does it appear unworthy of God to send his Spirit to make the difference? If we have not the Spirit already to produce these effects, natural reason will testify in favor of the gospel, by showing us how greatly its assistance is to be desired. It is shown that the grace of God could not be irresistible consistently with freewill; and that we can draw no argument against the promise of it, from a want of signs of it in some professors of Christianity: for we might as well conclude, from the unreasonable actions of the generality of men, that reason itself is a fiction. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, vii. 22., has taught us to solve this difficulty: he there acknowleges that the dictates of reason are right, but of use only in convincing us of our guilt; for there is another principle in our members warring against rea
son, which brings them under the slavery of sin: he therefore, seeing no help from reason, sought a refuge in Christ, who alone could redeem him from this captivity to sin. The Apostle founds the necessity of grace on the insufficiency of reason to overcome our natural inclinations to evil. The best evidence we can have that the grace of God is in us, is that we live up to the dictates of reason. By reason, we may know our duty; by grace we are enabled to perform it. The only evidence Christians can give that this grace of God dwelleth in them, must arise from their works of love and obedience. Our Saviour himself says, by their fruits shall ye know them; and St. John declares, This is the love of God, that ye keep his commandments. Our Saviour, in St. John chap. xv., speaks to the same effect. Every Christian is bound to answer for himself, or to quit his pretensions to the hopes and promises of the gospel, when unbelievers object to the want of evidence of the operation of the Spirit in the works of Christians. The confidence of some that they have the Spirit of God, though they have no good works to allege in proof of it, is a conceit not belonging to the gospel. If we would know whether the Spirit of God be in us, we must examine ourselves by the text. St. James speaks of two sorts of wisdom; the one earthly, sensual, devilish, the fruits of which are every evil work; the other heavenly, which is pure and peaceable: it is easy to distinguish to which class we belong. Our Saviour, in his discourse with Nicodemus, compares the influence of the Spirit to the blowing of the wind; and how the new birth and regeneration is performed, he only can tell who performs it : but its effects are visible to all. As the fruits of the Spirit are its only evidence, so its end is the production of these good fruits. The terms sanctification, regeneration, &c. signify to us that the Spirit is given to redeem us from sin. It is no small commendation, that those things in the gospel which seem most mysterious have the plainest use. The gifts of the Holy Spirit