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who could be placed in a more awful predicament, or have before him the prospect of more certain and terrible destruction, than just to be permitted to have his own way uncontrolled by the Spirit of God. And it is precisely on this account, my friends, that a state of entire destitution of hope is spoken of in Scripture, as being left to ourselves. Thus, when the wickedness of man, antecedent to the flood, had reached the limit of Divine forbearance, God says, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” Soon after this most tremendous judicial punishment, that generation reached to such a pitch of impiety, that the waters of the deluge alone could wash the guilty race and their defilements from the world which God had created. Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone. He was let alone, and soon his ruin was accomplished. It was on this account that the Psalmist prayed so fervently—“Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”
Now, the individual engaged in the great work of religion, has the aid of the Holy Spirit to defend him from his worst enemy, himself, to keep down the stubbornness of his will; and if it were not so, I know not who could be saved. What is it that constitutes the dangerous condition of impenitent sinners? They have their own way. Who is Lord over us? We will not have this man to reign over
What is it that gives hope to the real Christian? The restraining grace of God, which, by motives such as make him choose the good and refuse the evil, acts on the determinations of his will. And while in the mysteriousness of its operation, known only to God himself, it leaves him freedom of choice, is yet spoken of in Scripture in such terms as these —“Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” This aid of the Holy Spirit comes in to help the real Christian on his difficult pilgrimage.
Again : The individual engaged in the great work of religion, has the aid of the Holy Spirit, gradually to fix his affections more intently on God and eternity
I hold it, my friends, as an axiom so fully stated in the word of God that it were useless to argue the case, that there does not exist in the heart of an unconverted person any holy and heavenly affections. Many persons are apt to mistake the mere instinctive feelings of kindness and benevolence towards men for love to God, whereas these may, and do exist when God is even despised and condemned. An atheist
may have these feelings of kindness and benevolence, and yet no one could contend that he had love to God. As it is the exclusive province of the Holy Spirit to kindle holy desires and affections in the soul, so the constant aid of the same Spirit is necessary to maintain and keep them there. As it is by the Holy Spirit that the love of God is said to be shed abroad in our heart, so, when shed abroad, the Holy Spirit alone can perpetuate the affection. The Scriptures are wonderfully explicit on this subject, so that they leave me comparatively little to say on this head. Thus: It is by the Holy Spirit we are enabled to approach God, and call him Abba, Father. It is by the aid of the Spirit we are said to know his words, to walk in his statutes, to mortify the deeds of the body, to pray, to believe, to obey, to be washed, to be sanctified. In short, all those qualities which are known by the name of spiritual ; that is, all the qualities which respect God the Saviour, the soul, and eternity; all these the Holy Spirit originally introduces into the heart converted by him, and when introduced, there perpetuates. He is their author and preserver. He sows the seed, and waters it with the dew of his blessing. He lights the flame, and supplies it with perpetual fuel; he lays the foundation, and erects upon it the goodly and the stable superstructure. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, charity. Of all the higher and purer qualities and graces of the Christian life—those which link us to heaven, associate us with the Son of God, constitute our glory in the eyes of angels, and prepare us for a blessed immortality, the Spirit, and the Spirit alone, is the living fountain, the beginning and the end. Are those really engaged in the work of religion, are enabled to love God with a pure heart fervently? It is because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given to them. Is Christ Jesus precious to them? It is because the Spirit hath taken of the things of Christ, and showed them unto them. Are they able to present themselves a living sacrifice to God, holy, acceptable in his sight? It is because they are transformed by the renewing of their mind. Are they desirous of an holy obedience to God? It is because God worketh in them of his good pleasure. Do they grow in their attachments to holy and heavenly things, daily set their affections on things above, and press towards the mark for the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus? It is because the Holy Spirit gives them the mighty aid of his own continual power; it is because he who alone is able to build them up, and present them faultless, in faith and love unfeigned, blesses them with the exhibitions of his continual assistance. Without it, love would grow cold, and the fire on the altar go entirely out. Like the man in the allegory of Bunyan, pouring water on the fire, the world, the flesh and the devil, are continually striving to put out the fire of love which is kindled in the Christian's heart, and it would be put out, was there not behind the wall One who poured oil upon the flame. Let the supply of oil be interrupted, and the fire must perish.
Once more. The individual truly engaged in the work of religion has the aid of the Spirit of God in his influence as a comforter. It was in this character especially, that the Holy Ghost was promised to believers—“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” And this is an office which, in the experience of believers, he has been found to maintain through all succeeding generations. Is the individual ever brought to a sense of the pardon of sin? It is because the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, has applied the healing balm to the wounded conscience. Was it not for this blessed influence, the man who is seeking the salvation of his soul would be ground to the very dust by the calamities he is compelled to encounter. The Spirit of the Most High God pours into the soul those consolations which make the afflictions of this life supportable, because He directs the believer to another and a better world, where there can be neither sorrow, nor sighs, nor tears. It is the Spirit of God which sheds over the life of the individual really engaged in the service
of God, the benignant aid of an influence omnipotent and divine, arming him with patience and fortitude amidst all the vicissitudes of life. It supports him in his warfare with the world, and comforts him under the deprivations incident to his mortal pilgrimage. But above all, it is the Spirit of God which can shed a ray of consolation on that dreary hour, when the world is fast receding, and the eye rests on the dark valley and the shadow of death. The soul would long to linger here, afraid, yet compelled to leap, were it not that the Spirit whispers, Be of good cheer, for I am with thee. Then, by the aid of this holy Comforter, death is robbed of his sting, and the grave despoiled of its victory
I have now, my friends, finished three of the leading divisions of my discourse, and have sought to impress upon your minds, by every variety of argument and illustration, the greatness of the work of religion. 1. From the greatness of its objects, the glory of God and the salvation of souls; 2, from its opponents; and 3, from its aids. I have represented the aids, as comprising, 1, the approbation of the great God; 2, the aid of God's ministering spirits ; 3, the aid of God's resources and his providential dealings; 4, the aid of all God's people; and 5, as in the present discourse, the aid of the Holy Spirit to crown the whole.
One word, and I have done. I have sought, my friends, to impress on your minds the greatness and infinite importance of this work of religion. I have faithfully sought to show you all the difficulties and obstacles which are in the way; and I know that I have presented to you a fearful and appalling cata