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into the kingdom of God.”* This means that we must seek the influences of God's Spirit, to make us feel that we are sinners, and wholly incapable of loving or serving him, unless raised from a death in sin, unto a new life in righteousness.
2ndly. As winds vary in their strength, so do the influences of the Spirit upon the heart.
the heart. Some persons when brought to the knowledge of Christ are made to feel very terribly that they are sinners before God, and are in a sense carried through hell before they have the least prospect of heaven. Some like Paul are powerfully operated on by the Spirit, while others like Nathaniel are sweetly and calmly drawn to Jesus; but in whatever way the blessed Spirit affects the
* John iii.
soul, he leaves such gracious impressions in it as make a wonderful difference in character and conduct.
3rdly. As mariners are sensible whenever it blows, that there is wind, so every sinner, when made to feel the power of the Spirit knows that there is a reality in religion, which must be felt to be truly enjoyed.
" The wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it goeth or whence it cometh, so is every one born of the Spirit.” * A converted soul is a sensible soul. Its language is, I speak that I do know, and testify that which I have felt. When a person who for years has walked in the ways of the world, hecomes converted to God, it is seen in the conduct, and evidenced by the con
* John iii. 8.
versation. The former is upright and of good report; the latter is chaste, and about heaven. Conversion is a great and glorious work, and commences in the heart; it makes a man a new creature, and leads him into such a way of thinking, and acting, as proves that he is born of God. The change is too obvious to escape notice. It leads old associates to cry out, he is filled with enthusiasm, become a fanatic, or gone mad; and they behave towards him as the persecuting Jews did to the man who recovered his sight from our Lord. The
blind man's gratitude impelled him to keep exclaiming, “once I was blind, but now I see;" and the
gratitude of a genuine Christian obliges him to say—the Lord has done great things for my
soul. But this does not please unconverted men; they therefore desire that nothing may be said on the subject: the fact is, they see a change, but will not believe that God is the author.
4thly. As winds propel a ship on her course, so the holy Spirit influences a Christian to advances in the divine life. True religion is not stationary, but leads its subjects to give all diligence in the road to heaven. A good man is not satisfied with being brought into acquaintance with Jesus Christ, but he makes it his prayer and humble aim to be like him. He is enjoined by Christ to be perfect, and feels it his duty to strive for perfection. An enterprizing mariner on hearing of a distant port, where great treasure is to be had, makes all proper sail to reach it; and a Christian hearing of the glorious blessings of salvation which are to be gained, presses forward to obtain them.
“ Brethren,” says St. Paul, “ this one thing I do; forgetting the things which are behind and pressing forward to those which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling which is of God in Christ Jesus
5thly. As mariners are never sure of fair winds, and always look out to improve what they enjoy, so a disciple of Christ must give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, and be deeply concerned to improve every impulse of the Spirit, for he will not always have clear evidences of his interest in eternal love. Though in the essential things connected with our everlasting welfare, a kind God takes all in his own hands, yet a Christian is called to do a great deal in order to
* Philipians iii. 14, 15.