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fail, the leaf must be green; and we shall bring forth fruit in old age, to shew that the Lord is upright, Psalm xcii. 14, 15.
My fears, therefore, from the above temptation, have for some years abated, about barrenness in my old age; for I verily believe that I have had more success these ten years past than I ever had in any ten years that have gone before since I have been in the ministry. Nor do I find God's workmanship by me inferior to others, but contrariwise; for, go where I will, or get into company with what professors I may, I find them in penetration superficial, in experience shallow, in judgment confused, in conversation muddy, fleshly, and unsavoury; they have a little momentary glee under the word, and this is left behind when the sermon is over, and all the rest of the week is spent in bondage, doubting and fearing, murmuring and complaining; and these are dead works, the fruits of a legal and self-righteous spirit kept under the power of unbelief. The way-side, the thorny, and the stony-ground hearers, are too common and too apparent every where: it is as our Lord says, “ They have no root,” no deepness of earth nor moisture, and therefore are soon scorched, and then wither away. A broken and contrite heart is the deep earth; with such God dwells; and this is the good ground alsó. Pardoping love shed abroad in the heart is the root, and the holy Spirit of life and his grace is the
moisture: and what is the most splendid profession without these things?
The highest stage, my dear son, and the surest standing in a militant state, is that of holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience. The mystery, which is the most sublime, and which is the object of spiritual faith, is the mystery of the three persons in the one God of Israel, or a trinity of
persons in the godhead. And, as these three are distinct in personality, so is their voice and testimony distinct in the consciences of all true believers.
Paul tells us that by faith we come to the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel, Heb. xii. 24. This voice speaks pardon, and perfect cleansing, from all sin; it speaks peace with God and conscience; it speaks reconciliation and friendship with the Almighty; and it speaks nearness and access to God with boldness, freedom, and familiarity. « The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God;" being made nigh by the blood of Christ, who were far from God by wicked works. Now faith is a coming to this Mediator, and to this blood of sprinkling, which sprinkles the heart from an evil conscience, and purges the conscience from dead works; for God purifies the heart by faith.
The voice of the Spirit, and his testimony in the conscience, are distinct also. To every one that receives Christ in faith and affection, to them gives he power to become the sons of God. And this power is the Holy Spirit, which produceth a birth that is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God; and, when this regenerating and renewing work is performed, the Spirit proclaims our sonship, and claims the parentage of heaven upon it; for, being predestinated to the adoption of children by Christ Jesus, we are called Christ's seed, Isa. xliv. 3; yea, we are called sons and daughters, Isa. xliii. 6, previous to our conversion by virtue of God's choice of us, and of his decree of predestinating us to the adoption of sons: because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, father,” Gal. iv. 6. This is the voice of the Holy Spirit, who is our inward helper, and an intercessor in our hearts, and whose cry is not from a foul stomach, nor does it savour of a stinking breath; not from an evil conscience, nor from a mind blinded by Satan and hardened in pride, like that of Balaam, Numb. xxii. 18; or like that of the pharisees, who said, “ We have one father, even God,” John viii. 41. All such claims spring from ignorance and arrogance, from insensibility and rash presumption, and therefore our Lord palms them upon another parent, being the seed of the serpent, and a generation of vipers; for
“ And, they were haters of Christ and of all his followers, which is the characteristic of the serpent's seed, the image of Satan, and the evident token of perdition.
A graceless profession generally stirs up the carnal enmity of the sinner's mind against the righteous; and where this works guilt sticks fast, and where sin remains the sentence of God falls; such are condemned already, John iii. 18; and where the sentence falls there the wrath of God abides, John iii. 36; and the shew of the countenances of such doth witness against them, Isa. jii. 9.
A fallen countenance is a sure sign of guilt and condemnation, Gen. iv. 6; and a desperate countenance an infallible index of a hard heart, a ruined state, and an inward war with the Almighty, Isa. xiii. 8; and it is easy to discern, even in the law, what is meant by the tokens of perdition and of salvation; and what is meant by the image of God, and the image that God despises; for - the ten commandments know of no other classes of men than haters and lovers of God:
Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me,” Exod. xx. 5, 6.
But our cry and claim upon God is not our own; the Holy Spirit is the spirit of promise to us, and the spirit of adoption in us, and is the fruit and effect of Christ's mediation, and of his
being accepted of the Father in his office of mediator, and in every other office he sustains, and is secured to us by an everlasting covenant; and as a comforter, and as the spirit of grace and of glory, he is to abide with us for evermore.
The cry of Abba, Father, by the Spirit is always owned and honoured, and is attended to both in heaven and earth. God owns it, and honours it, as in the case of the prodigal: “I will arise, and go to my father,” says he: “ This is my son,” says God: “Thou art the Lord my God,” says Ephraiın: “Is Ephraim my dear son?”
says God; "is he a pleasant child?” &c. God honours the faith that makes our sonship manifest, and he attends to the prayers that are put up to him in the name of a father, and under the Spirit's influence: and this by answering them. The Spirit not only cries, Abba, Father, but he witnesses to our adoption, and makes our own conscience do the same; “ He bears witness with our spirit,”
“ that we are the children of God;" and, by the sentence of justification passed in the conscience by the Spirit, he bears witness to the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us; and this righteousness without the law is witnessed both by the law and the prophets, Rom. iii. 21. This is justification in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, i Cor. vi. 11.
The cry and testimony of the Spirit is acknowledged upon earth also; the accusations and reproaches of Satan are silenced by the Spirit of