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they delighted in amplitude and hyperbole. obstruct the perception of three persons in the The Holy Spirit, employing the pen of the words we have read? Can they obstruct our sacred authors, did not change, but sanctify perceiving the Father, to whom all things betheir temperature. It was bis pleasure that long; the Son, who participates in all things they should speak in the language used in their which belong to the Father: the Holy Spirit, own time; and avail themselves of those forms who receives and reveals those things to the of speech, without which they would neither church? I ask again, whether by this propriehave been heard nor understood.
ty of thought, and precision of argument, we 2. Let us reduce the metaphor to precision, can understand an action of Providence, from and the figure to truth. But under a notion what is ascribed to the Holy Spirit? And wheof reducing it to truth, let us not enfeeble its ther, without offering violence to the laws of force; and wishful to reject imaginary inys- | language, one may substitute for the term teries, let us not destroy those which are real. spirit, the words action and Providence, and This second caution is requisite in order to thus paraphrase the whole passage; “I have supersede the false glosses which have been yet many things to say unto you, but ye canattached to the text. Two of these we ought not bear them now. Howbeit, when this acparticularly to reject;—the one on the word tion of Providence is come, even this action Spirit;—the other on the words, seal, unction of Providence, it will guide you into all the and earnest, which we have endeavoured to truth; for it shall not speak of itself; but explain.
whatsoever it shall hear, that shall it speak; Some divines have asserted, that the word for it shall receive of mine, and shall show Spirit, ought to be arranged in the class of them unto you." We frankly confess, my metaphors designed to express, not a person brethren, nothing but the reluctance we have of the Godhead, but an action of Providence; to subunit our notions to the decision of Suand that we should attach this sense to the preme Wisdom can excite an apprehension, term, not only in this text, but also in all those that a distinct person is not designated in the we adduce to prove, that there is a divine per- words we have cited. And, when it is once son distinct from the Father and the Son, call- admitted, that the Holy Spirit sent to the ed the Holy Spirit.
church is a divine person, can one, on compar. We have frequently, in this pulpit, avowed ing the words of our text with those we have our ignorance concerning the nature of the quoted, resist the conviction, that the same divine essence, if I may be allowed the expres- Spirit is intended in both these passages sion. We have often declared, that we can In the class of those, who, under a pretext determine nothing concerning God, except of not admitting imaginary mysteries, reject what we are obliged to know from the works such as are real, we arrange those divines, he has created, and from the truths he has re- who deny the agency of this adorable person vealed. We have more than once acknow- on the heart, in what the apostle calls, unction, ledged, that even those truths, which we trace seal, and earnest: those supralapsarian teachfrom reason and revelation, are as yet very ers, who suppose, that all the operation of the imperfect; and that the design of the Scrip- Holy Spirit on the regenerate, consists in entures, when speaking of God, is less to reveal abling him to preach; that he does not afford what he is, than the relation in which he them the slightest interior aid, to surmount stands to us. Hence I conceive, that the ut- those difficulties which naturally obstruct a most moderation, and deference of judgment; compliance with the grand design of preach. and, if I may so speak, the utmost pyrrhon- ing. The Scriptures assert, in so many places, ism, on this subject, is all that reasonable the inefficacy of preaching without those aids, men can expect, from the philosopher and the that no doubt can, in my opinion, be admissidivine.
ble upon the subject. But, if some divines When we find in the Scriptures, certain have degraded this branch of Christian the ideas of the Divinity;-ideas, which have not ology, by an incautious defence, to them the the slightest dissonance to those afforded by blame attaches, and not to those who have his works; ideas, moreover, clearly expressed established it upon solid proof. Those divines, and repeated in a variety of places, we admit who, by a mode of teaching much more calthem without hesitation, and condemn those, culated to confound, than defend, orthodox who, by a false notion concerning propriety opinions, have spoken of the unction of the of thought, and precision of argument, refuse Spirit, as though it annihilated the powers of their assent. Now, it seems to me, that they nature, and as though they made a jest;-yes, fall into this mistake who refuse to acknow- a jest, of the exhortations, promises, and threatledge, in the texts we adduce, a declaration of enings addressed to us in the Scriptures:a Divine Person.
Those divines, if there are such, shall give an I shall cite one single passage only from the account to God for the discord they have ocsixteenth chapter of the gospel by St. John; casioned in the church, and even for the here“When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he sies to which their mode of expounding the will guide you into all truth; for he shall not Scriptures has given birth. speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall You, however, brethren, embrace no dochear, that shall he speak: and he will show trines but those explicitly revealed in the you things to come. He shall glorify me; for Scriptures;-you, who admit the agency of the he shall receive of mine, and show it unto Holy Spirit on the heart, unsolicitous to define you.” I challenge here, this propriety of its nature. You, who say with Jesus Christ, thought, and precision of argument, of which “ the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou the persons we attack make a profession, I had hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell admost said a parade, to say whether these can I whence it cometh, and whither it goeth,” John
iii. 8. You, who especially admit, that the me to brevity? We shall, therefore, speak of
of the Spirit on the heart of good inen, requires
Apply now to the words of our text the consider the Holy Spirit in the work of regengeneral maxim we have laid down; you will eration as the omnipotent God, and the man recollect the ideas we have attached to the for whose conversion he exerts his agency, as terms used by the apostle, to express the a being purely physical: and to affirm that the agency of the Holy Spirit on the heart. We Holy Spirit acts solely by irresistible influence, have said that these terms, unction, seal, ear man being simply passive, is, in our opinion, a nest, excite three ideas. And we can never morality extremely corrupt. To consider the understand those Scriptures, which speak of Holy Spirit simply as a lawgiver, and man the operations of the Holy Spirit, unless those merely as a moral being, capable of vice and three effects of the divine agency are distin- virtue; and to affirm, that the Holy Spirit only guished. Every Christian hr ; not been confirm- proposes his precepts, and that man obeys ed by the Spirit of God in all those various them, unassisted by the divine energy attendways. All have not received the threefold ant on their promulgation, is to propagat unction, the threefold seal, the threefold ear- theology equally erroneous. But, to consider nest. To some the Holy Spirit has confirmed the Holy Spirit as the omnipotent God, and the first, availing himself of their ministry for legislator in the same character, and man as the achievement of miracles, or by causing a being both moral and physical, is to harmonthem to feel that a religion, in favour of which ize the laws moral and divine, and to avoid, on so many prodigios have been achieved, could a subject so exceedingly controverted, the two not be false. To others, the second confirma- equally dangerous rocks, against which so tion was added to the first; at the moment he many divines have cast themselves away. carried conviction to the mind, he sanctified The adoption of this last system (which is the heart. With regard to others, he com- here the wisest choice,) implies an acknowmunicated more; not only persuading them ledgment, that there are dispositions in man that a religion, which promises celestial feli- which retard, and dispositions which cherish, city, is true; not only enabling them to conform the successful agency of God on the heart. to the conditions on which this felicity is pro- What are these? They regard the three ways, mised, but he also gives them foretastes here in which we said the Holy Spirit confirms to below.
the soul the promises of “immortality and II. and III. I could better explain my sen- life.” These he confirms, first, by the persuatiments, did I dare engage, in discussing the sion he affords, concerning the truth of the second part of my subject, to illustrate the na- gospel; causing it to spring up in the heart on ture, and prove the reality of the Spirit's review of the miracles performed by the first agency on the heart. But how can I attempt Christians. Secondly, he confirms them by the discussion of so vast a subject in one dis- the inward work of sanctification. Thirdly, course, when so many considerations restrict he confirms them by foretastes of celestial de
light, communicated to some Christians, even stances of the miracles: whether it be true that here below. Each of these points we shall those miracles were performed in the most resume in its order.
public places, amid the greatest concourses of First, the gift of miracles was a seal, which people, in presence of Persians, of Medes, of God affixed to the ministry of the first heralds Parthians, of Elamites, of dwellers in Mesopoof the gospel. Miracles are called seals: such tamia, in Judea, in Cappadocia, in Lybia; is the import of those distinguished words of among Creles, Arabs, and Jews. Christ; " Labour not for the meat that perish “I wish to know, in what way these miraeth; but for that meat which endureth unto cles were foretold; whether it be true, that eternal life, which the Son of man shall give these were the characteristics of evangelical unto you, for him hath the Father sealed,” | preachers, which the prophets had traced so John vi. 27. The seal which distinguished Je- many ages before the evangelical period; and sus Christ, was the gift of miracles he had re- whether we may not give another interpretaceived of God, to demonstrate the divine au- tion to these distinguished predictions: • Yet thority of his mission: so he himself affirmed once, it is a little while, and I will shake the to the multitudes; “The works which the Fa- heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the ther hath given me to finish, the same works dry land. And I will shake all nations, and that I do, bear witness that the Father hath the desire of all nations shall come,' Hag. ii. sent me," John v. 36.
5, 6. I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; The inference, with regard to the Lord, is and your sons and your daughters shall proof equal force with regard to the disciples. phecy. Your old men shall dream dreams, The miraculous endowments, granted to them, your young men shall see visions. And I will sanctioned their mission; as the mission of the show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, Master was sanctioned by the miraculous pow- blood, fire, and pillars of smoke,” Joel ii. ers with which it was accompanied. What 28—30. seal more august could have been affixed to it? “I wish to know, how these miracles were What demonstrations more conclusive can we received; whether it be true, that the multiask of a religion which announces them to us, tudes, the myriads of proselytes, who had it than all these miracles which God performed in their power to investigate the authenticity for its confirmation? Could the Deity have of the facts, sacrificed their ease, their reputacommunicated his omnipotence to impostors? tion, their fortune, their life, and every comCould he even have wished to lead mankind fort which martyrs and confessors have been into mistake? Could he have allowed heaven accustomed to sacrifice: I wish to know, wheand earth, the sea and land to be shaken for ther the primitive Christians made these sacrithe sanction of lies
fices on embracing a religion chiefly founded As there are dispositions which retard the on a belief of miracles. agency of the Spirit, who comes to impress “ I wish to know, in what' way these mirathe heart with truth, so there are others which cles were opposed; whether it be true, that favour and cherish his work. With regard to there is this distinguished difference between those which retard, I would not only include the way in which these facts were attacked in infidelity of heart, whose principle is malice; the first centuries, and in the present. WheI would not only include here those eccentric ther it be true, that instead of saying, as our men, who resist the most palpable proofs, and infidels assert, that these facts were fabulous, evident demonsirations, and think they have the Celsuses, the Porphyrys, the Zosimuses, answered every argument by saying, “ It is who lived in the ages in which these facts were not true. I doubt, I deny.”—Men that seem recent, took other methods to evade their to have made a model of the Pharisees, who, force; attributing them to the powers of magic, when unable to deny the miracles of Christ, or confounding them with other pretended miand to elude their force, ascribed them to the racles.” devil. This is a fault so notorious, as to su This is the study to which we should propersede the necessity of argument. But Iceed; wo be to us if we regard it as a tedious would also convince you Christians, that the task, and excuse ourselves on inconsiderable neglect of studying the history of the miracles pretexts! Is there any thing on earth which we celebrate to-day, is an awful source of sub- should interest us more than those inportant version to the agency we are discussing. Cor- truths, announced by the apostles; and esperespond, by serious attention and profound re- cially those magnificent promises they have decollection, to the efforts of the Holy Spirit in livered in the name of God Mortal as we all demonstrating the truth of your religion. On are, merely appearing on the stage of life, festivals of this kind, a Christian should recol- most of us having already run the greater part lect and digest, if I may so speak, the distin- of our course, called every moment to enter guished proofs which God gave of the truth into the invisible world, destined there to deof Christianity on the day whose anniversary struction, or eternal existence, is there a queswe now celebrate. He should say to himself: tion more interesting than this? “Is it for “ I wish to know, whether advantage be taken destruction, or eternal existence, I am designaof my simplicity, or whether I ain addressed ted by my Maker? Are the notions I entertain as a rational being; when I am told, that the of immortality; of pleasures for evermore at first heralds of the gospel performed the mi- God's right hand; fulness of joy around his racles, attributed to their agency.”
throne; of intimate intercourse with the ado"I wish to know, whether the miracles of rable Being; of society with angels, with archthe apostles have been narrated, (Acts ii.) and angels, with cherubim and seraphim; for ages, inquire whether those holy men have named millions of ages, an eternity with the blessed the place, the time, the witnesses, and circum- God, are the notions I entertain, realities, or
chimeras?" No, my brethren, neither in a coun- marks of the love we describe;-a man who, cil of war, nor legislative assembly, nor philo- rapt up in his own sufficiency, and in the ideas sophical society, never were questions more im- he forms of his own grandeur, sees nothing portant discussed. A rational man should worthy of himself in the religion God has prehave nothing more at heart than their eluci- scribed, would, however, converse with his dation. Nothing whatever should afford him Maker, and receive his benefits, but who shuts greater satisfaction, than when engaged in re- his door against his neighbours, abandons them searches of this nature, in which he discovers in their poverty, trouble, and obscurity;—such some additional evidence of immortality; and a man, far from being a Christian, has not even when he finds stated with superior arguments, a notion of Christianity. At the moment he the demonstrations we have of the Holy Spi- congratulates himself with being distinguished rit's descent upon the apostles, the anniversary from the rest of mankind by the seal of God, of which we now celebrate.
he has only the seal of the devil, -inflexibility 2. If there are dispositions which retard, and pride. and cherish, the first agency of the Holy Spirit On these days I would, my brethrer, require on the heart, there are also dispositions which concerning charity, marks more noble, and retard and cherish the second. The Holy tests more infallible, than alms and good offices: Spirit, we have said in the second place, con- I would animate you with the laudable ambifirms to us the promises of the gospel, by com- tion of carrying charity as far as it was carried municating the grace of sanctification. What by Jesus Christ. To express myself in the lansuccess can be expected from his gracious ef- guage of Scripture, I would animate you to forts to purify the heart, while you oppose the love your neighbour as Jesus Christ has loved works. Why have those gracious efforts hither- you. In what way has Jesus Christ loved you? to produced, with regard to most of you, so What was the grand object of his love to man? little effect? Because you still oppose. Desi- It was salvation. So also should the salvation rous to make you conscious of the worth of of your neighbours be the object of your love. holiness, the Holy Spirit addresses you for that Be penetrated with the wretchedness of people purpose in the most pointed sermons. In pro- "without hope, without God in the world,” portion as the preacher addresses the ear, the Eph. ii. 12. Avail yourselves of the prosperity Holy Spirit inwardly addresses the heart, of your navigation and commerce, to send the alarming it by that declaration, “The unclean gospel into districts, where creatures made in shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” I Cor. the image of God, know not him that made vi. 10. But you have opposed his gracious them, but live in the grossest darkness of the work; you have abandoned the heart to irregu- pagan world. lar affection; you have pursued objects calcu Be likewise impressed with the wretchedness lated to inflame concupiscence, or enkindle it of those, who, amid the light of the gospel, with additional vigour.
have their eyes so veiled as to exclude its lusThe Holy Spirit, desirous to humble the tre. Employ for the great work of reformation, heart, exhibits the most mortifying portraits of not gibbets and tortures, not fire and fagot, but your weakness, your ignorance, your dissipa- persuasion, instruction, and every means best tion, your indigence, your mortality and cor- calculated for causing the truth to be known ruption,-a train of humiliating considerations and esteemed. in which your own character may be recognis Be touched with the miseries of people edued. But you have opposed his work; you have cated in our own communion, and who believe swelled your mind with every idea calculated what we believe; but who through the fear of to give plausibility to the sophisms of vanity; man, through worldly-mindedness, and astonyou have fattered yourselves with your birth, ishing hardness of heart, are obstructed from your titles, your dignities, your affected litera- following the light. Address to them the cloture, and imaginary virtues. Improve this sest exhortations. Offer them a participation thought, my brethren, confess your follies; of your abundance. Endeavour to move them yield to the operations of grace, which would towards the interests of their children. Pray reclaim you from the sins of the age, and for them; pray for the peace of Jerusalem; make you partakers of the divine purity, in or- pray that God would raise the ruins of our der to a participation of the divine felicity. temples: that he would gather the many scatPractise those virtues which the apostles so tered flocks; pray him to reinvigorate the Chrisstrongly enforced in their sermons, which they tian blood in these veins, which seems destitute so highly exemplified in their lives, and so of heat and circulation. Pray him, my fellowpowerfully pressed in their writings.
countrymen, that he would have pity on your Above all, my brethren, let us follow the country, in which one prejudice succeeds anemotions of thai virtue which is the true test, other. Be afflicted with the affliction of Joby which the Lord knows his own people, I seph, be mindful of your native land. mean charity: such are the words of Christ, 3. We have said lastly, that the Holy Spirit which we cannot too attentively regard; “ This confirms the promise of celestial felicity, by a is my commandment that ye love one another," communication of its foretastes here below to John xv. 12. When I speak of charity, I would highly-favoured souls. On this subject, I seem not only prompt you to share your superfluities suspended between the fear of giving countewith the indigent, and to do good offices for nance to enthusiasm, and of suppressing one of your neighbours. But a man, who, when
cele- the most consolatory truths of the Christian rebrating the anniversary of a day in which God's ligion. It is, however, a fact, that there are love was so abundantly shed upon the church, highly-favoured souls, to whom the Holy Spirit in which the Christians became united by ties confirms the promises of celestial happiness, by 80 tender, feels reluctance to afford these slight | a communication of its foretastes here on earth.
By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean which attracts the heart, and the heart of the the impression made on the mind of a Chris- best amongst us. tian, of the sincerest piety, by this consolatory Let us then love the world, seeing it has thought; “My soul is immortal: death, which pleased God to unite us to it by ties so tender. seems to terminate, only changes the mode of Let us endeavour to advance our families, to my existence: my body also shall participate add a little lustre to our name, and some conof eternal life; the dust shall be reanimated, sistency to what is denominated fortune. But and its scattered particles collected into a glo- 0! after all, let us regard these things in their rious form."
true light. Let us recollect that, upon earth, By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean, man can only have transient happiness. My the unshaken confidence a Christian feels, even fortune is not essential to my felicity; the lustre when assailed with doubts,—when oppressed of my name is not essential to my felicity; the with deep affliction, and surrounded with the establishment of my family is not essential to veil of death, which conceals the objects of his my felicity; and, since none of these things are hope: this assurance enables him to say, “I essential to my happiness, the great God, the know in whom I have believed, and I an per- Being supremely gracious, has without the suaded he is able to keep that which I have least violation of his goodness, left them in the committed unto him against that day,” 2 Tim. uncertainty and vicissitude of all sublunary i. 12. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and bliss. But my salvation, my salvation, is far that be shan stand at the latter day upon the above the vicissitudes of life. “The mountains earth. And though after my skin worms de- shall depart, and the hills be moved; but my stroy this bod yet in my flesh shall I see kindness shall not depart from thee, neither God," Job xix. 25, 26. "O God, though shall the covenant of my peace be removed," thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee. Though Isa. liv. 10. “Lift up your eyes to the heaI walk through the valley of the shadow of vens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the death, I will fear no evil,” Ps. xxii. 4. “I heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the have set the Lord always before me; because earth shall wax old like a garment; but my salhe is on my right hand, I shall not be moved,” vation shall be for ever, and my righteousness Ps. xvi. 8.
shall not be abolished,” Isa. li. 6. May God By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean, indulge our hope, and crown it with success. the delights of glorified saints in heaven, which Amen. some find while dwelling on earth; when far from the multitude, secluded from care, and
SERMON LXXXVII. conversing with the blessed God, they can express themselves in these words, “My soul is satisfied with marrow and fatness, when I re
THE FAMILY OF JESUS CHRIST. member thee upon my bed, and meditate upon thee in the night watches,” Ps. lxiii. 5, 6.
MATTHEW xii. 46-50. “Our conversation is in heaven,” Phil. iii. 20. By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean,
While he yet talked to the people, behold his mothe impatience which some of the faithful feel, ther, and his brethren stood without, desiring to to terminate a life of calamities and impertec speak with him. Then one said unto him, betions; and the satisfaction they receive every
hold, thy mother, and thy brethren stand withevening on reflecting that another day of their out, desiring to speak with thee. But he anpilgrimage is passed; that they are one step
swered and said unto him that told him, Who is nearer to eternity. “In this tabernacle we my mother? And who are my brethren? And groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon
he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, with our house which is from heaven," 2 Cor.
and said, Behold my mother, and my brethren. v. 2. “My desire is to depart, and to be with For whosoever shall do the will of my Father Christ,” Phil. i. 23. Why is his chariot so
which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and long in coming? Why do his coursers proceed
sister, and mother. 80 slow? “When shall I come and appear be HE “said unto his father and to his mother, fore God," Ps. xl. 2.
I have not seen him; neither did he acknowMy brethren, in what language have I been ledge his brethren, nor know his own children,” speaking? How few understand it! To how Deut. xxxiii. 9. So Moses said of the tribe of many does it seem an unknown tongue! But Levi. Was it to reproach, or applaud? Folwe have to blame ourselves alone if we are not lowing the first impression of this sentence, it anointed in this way, and sealed by the Holy contains undoubtedly a sharp rebuke, and a Ghost; and if we do not participate in these deep reproach. In what more unfavourable foretastes of eternity, which are the genuine light could we view the Levites: What became earnests of heaven. But ah! our taste is spoil- of their natural affection, on disowning the ed in the world. We have contracted the low persons to whom they were united by ties so habits of seeking happiness solely in the recrea- tender, on plunging their weapons in the breasts tions of the age. Most, even of those who con- of those who gave them birth? form to the precepts of piety, do it by con But raising the mind superior to flesh and straint. We obey God, merely because he is blood, if you consider the words as connected God. We feel not the unutterable sweetness with the occasion to which they refer, you will in these appellations of Father, Friend, and find an illustrious character of those ministers Benefactor, under which he is revealed by re- of the living God; and one of the finest paneligion. We do not conceive that his sole ob- gyrics which mortals ever received. ject, with regard to man, is to make him hap Nature and religion, it is admitted, require py. But the world,—the world, --is the object I us to love our neighbour, especially the mem