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His gifts id?
sige; the end for which it is dure for es account ,
done and suffered to procure this sacri:
... meat and endearing. For this end,
cib of God, and thought it no robbery
ve made himself of no reputation, was i mnen, and became obedient unto death,
Te cross.' In the peace which Christians - rexeated with a perpetual memorial of these
n i bim, ' who thus in his flesh abolished the wie kies, preached, and became, ' peace to them
w jat, and to them who were nigh.' Whenever who zrenity of soul is enjoyed by us, we cannot
electing that with boundless benignity the Son La sess man ; lived a life of unceasing humiliation wenty died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended wwseit, and there intercedes for ever, that this blessing
What love can be compared to this? What mai ser was ever so lovely, so endearing, so peculiarly
is the peace of Christ also, this glorious possession asSuits & vew character of excellence and worth. In him this therediens was the result of consummate wisdom and supreme recMale; a divine harmony of perfect intelligence and immeawable love. It was a possession completely independent.
ste could give it; none could take it away. In the pure, Pelle eternal mind of the Saviour it dwelt of course, inseparable and for ever. It was the necessary and immortal offspring of immortal excellence : the co-eternal splendour of Nghe eternal. •Before the mountains were brought forth, or piver he had formed the earth and the world ; then was it by hinn as one brought up with him ; and was daily his delight, vejoicing alway before him : rejoicing (with. a divine prescipnoe) in the future habitable parts of the earth, and placing its delights in the sons of men.'
In his mediatorial residence among the children of apostate Adam, amid all his sorrows and labours, amid all the opposition, rejection, and persecution which he experienced, umid all the living anguish and dying agonies which he suf
I this celestial companion, this divine inmate of bis bosom,
perpetually sustained hiin ; and diffused fortitude and serenity around his sonl. Thus sustained, thus tranquillized, he smiled in agony and triumphed in death.
To us, as to him, it is peace passing all understanding ;' peace,' which the world cannot give, nor take away. Grace and Mercy descend first in the train of infinite blessings, from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ;' and Peace enters our doors immediately behind them. A guest fresh from heaven, and from the presence of God, Peace bears all the characteristics of the world from which she descends, of the region in which she was born, of the family to which she is allied, and of the Parent from whom she sprang. Gentle and serene, beautiful and lovely, she becomes a willing companion to every humble, faithful follower of the Lamb, to every genuine child of God. Her own angelic disposition she breathes insensibly into the soul, ber softness and gentleness she infuses into the heart and her living smiles she spreads over the aspect. At once the man is changed into a new creature. His soul, before the region of darkness and storm, is cleared at once of the clouds by which it was overcast. Its tempestuous passions cease to rage and ravage, and a heavenly sunshine illumines the world within. The universe, to him heretofore a vast kingdom of war and opposition, is converted into a delightful residence of quiet and harmony, in which an immense multitude of the inhabitants, such man can number,' are become his friends, and in which the hostilities of the rest will only work together for his good. God also, seen by him before in clouds and darkness,' which were ' very tempestuous round about him,' has unfolded to him the light of his countenance, and given him a lively and transporting earnest of serene, unclouded, everlasting day.
JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST,
FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT MEAT AND DRINK, BUT RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, AND JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST.
ROMANS XIV. 17.
On the last Sabbath, I considered the nature and importance of spiritual peace. I shall proceed to examine another consequence of regeneration ; viz. joy in the Holy Ghost.
In the text the apostle declares, that the kingdom of God? is formed of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' By this kingdom he intends plainly, not the kingdom of creation, nor the kingdom of providence, vor, in'a strict sense, what is usually called the kingdom of grace. The word kingdom is here used in a figurative manner; and denotes the effects of that secret, invisible, incomprehensible influence over the hearts of mankind, which is exerted by the Spirit of grace in the work of sanctification. This influence is the great engine of the divine government over the hearts of intelligent beings; and is often with the utmost propriety termed in the Gospel the kingdom of God. Of this influence,
righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,' are effects primarily important; and in the text are, figuratively, called by a name which, in simple language, would properly belong
to the cause of their existence. In a similar manner is the term used by Christ, Luke xvii. 20, · The kingdom of God cometh not with observation ; neither shall they say concerning it, Lo herè, or Lo there : for the kingdom of God is with
Of these three great effects of the energy of the Divine Spirit, the first, viz. righteousness, here used for holiness or evangelical virtue, is in the soul the cause of the two last. From righteousness, in this sense, spring of course the peace and joy of the spiritual character. * Joy in the Holy Ghost,' therefore, is obviously a consequence of regeneration. In the text, as well as in the order of nature, it is subjoined to peace; although we are ever to remember that they always exist together in the same mind, and at the same time.
In examining this subject, the following considerations have occurred to me, as particularly deserving the attention of a religious assembly.
I. The joy spoken of in the text is not a mere natural joy.
By natural joy, I intend the pleasure which is found by the mind in natural or physical good, whether possessed, or expected. Such is the pleasure which we experience in property, health, friends, food, and other gratifications of a similar nature, Such is the pleasure found in the contemplation of beauty, novelty, and greatness ; in the multitude, variety, and sublimity of the works of creation and providence; or in the skill, power, and wisdom displayed by their Author. Such also is the satisfaction experienced in the mere belief that God is reconciled to us, and become our friend and benefactor.
All these I acknowledge to be innocent and lawful enjoyments. I acknowledge them to be enjoyments which we are not merely permitted, but required to experience; and to be enjoyments also, in greater or less degrees, experienced by every sanctified mind. Still they may be possessed in a manner merely natural, and by a mind utterly destitute of the Evangelical character. When the Christian rejoices in these things, he rejoices virtuously, because he regards them with just views
But when a sinner rejoices in them, he regards them with erroneous views, and with emotions destitute of virtue. Evangelical joy in these things is one of the fruits of
the Spirit.' But nothing experienced by a sinner can be a peculiar characteristic of a Christian. Nor is any genuine fruit of the Spirit ever found in an unsanctified mind.
11. Joy in the Holy Ghost is, however, joy in God.
God is the only solid foundation of joy to the universe ; and is seen and acknowledged in this character by every virtuous being. In this most pleasing and magnificent manner he is everywhere exhibited in the Scriptures. Rejoice in the Lord, 0 ye righteous !' says the psalmist, Psal. xxxi. 1.
- Thou shalt rejoice in the Lord,' saith the prophet Isaiah, ' and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel, Isa. xli. 16.— • I will greatly rejoice in the Lord ; my soul shall be joyful in my God;' saith our Saviour, Isa. Ixi. 10.—— Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God,' saith Joel, chap. ii. 23.- Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall : yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation,' Hab. ii. 17, 18. The same language is adopted by the virgin Mary and by St. Paul in the New Testament; and is applied by Christ to the apostles, and to the whole body of Christians, either as an account of facts, or as a precept directing their duty.
To Revelation, reason joins her fullest testimony ; and easily discerns, when informed of the true character of God by Revelation, that in him the proper, rational, supreme, and eternal joy of his intelligent creatures must ultimately centre ; and that he is the object to be thus enjoyed, as well as the source whence this enjoyment flows. The eternal, unchangeable, almighty, all-knowing, the infinitely just, faithful, true, benevolent, and merciful mind is, in an infinite degree, a more beautiful, lovely, and glorious object in itself, than any or than all others. Of such a mind, all the conduct, all the manifestations, are accordant with its true and essential nature; are beautiful, glorious, and lovely, like itself. These amazing considerations are also enhanced, in a manner literally boundless, by the great fact, that from this mind sprang all the objects of admiration and delight which are found in the universe.