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Lord Jesus Christ. Well might the apostle say, How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious than that which it superseded, when such benefits are conferred by its means? And these are not to be done away, but to remain permanently, for the edification and consolation of the church and people of God. The fruit of the Spirit, which is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,is produced by those who partake of its benefits. And it is declared respecting them, There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.55
But the apostle speaks particularly of its being the ministration of the Spirit, with regard to the instruments which are employed in its promulgation. When he considered the importance of the office of the ministry of the gospel, he asked, Who is sufficient for these things? Who is fit, who is able to speak aright the word of God, when its ministers are as to all who hear it, to the one the savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of life unto life ?56 A deep sense of his own personal insufficiency for the work of the ministry filled the mind of St. Paul. He therefore replied to the question which he put, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. We must place our dependence upon Him alone, and seek His grace to enable us to think and speak and act aright.
53 1 Thess. v. 23. 54 Eph. v. 9. 55 Rom. viii. 1. 56 2 Cor. ii. 16.
That the apostle acted in this manner he intimates by saying, Such trust have we through Christ to Godward. His confidence was placed in God that Divine grace would be given him to fulfil the office of a minister of Christ, to which he had been appointed. It was to this grace he ascribed all the success which had attended his labours. He therefore said, Our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament, or rather, who hath enabled us to be such, who hath fitted or qualified us for the office, by giving to us His quickening Spirit; so that we are ministers, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The quickening influence of the Holy Spirit is needful to qualify the ministers of the new testament for their office, and to give them success in it. On His Divine influence and aid depends all success in the attempts of the servants of Christ to diffuse the sweet savour of the knowledge of His name; as well as all success in our spiritual warfare as Christians against the enemies of our souls.
As the Christian dispensation is the ministration of the Spirit who giveth life, we have every encouragement to seek for the help of His grace, and to, depend upon receiving it. Let us with humility and fervency implore this heavenly gift,
and it will not be denied to us. It is for want of prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit that the work of God at any time seems not to make progress either in the world, or in the hearts of believers. He has declared, I will for this be inquired of by My people to do it for them. If earnest prayer is restrained, there can be no reason to expect the promised blessing to be received. Let us then, each for ourselves, pray earnestly that the Spirit may be poured from on high upon us, and upon the whole church and people of God, for the promoting of His glory, and our own edification and comfort.
It is the glory of the Christian dispensation that it is the ministration of the Spirit. It is this which makes it exceed in glory the Mosaic dispensation in a peculiar manner. It is in consequence of this that glory redounds to God and peace to man. The great privilege and benefit which it-confers, are mentioned in the last verse of the chapter from which the Epistle for this day is taken. The apostle says, We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Communion with God and conformity to His holy image, are here pointed out to us as the great blessings to be partakers of by His grace. Let us seek to enjoy them, to our present happiness, and our eternal salvation.
THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
ALL UNDER SIN.
Galatians iii. 22.
BUT THE SCRIPTURE HATH CONCLUDED ALL
UNDER SIN, THAT THE PROMISE BY FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST MIGHT BE GIVEN TO THEM
That all mankind have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, or will fail of obtaining eternal happiness if they die in their sins, unrepented of and unpardoned, is an awful 'fact, which it becomes every one of us to lay seriously to heart; in order that being humbled under the mighty hand of God, as transgressors of His holy law, we may seek to be justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; and may obtain the promise of everlasting life, which is given to them that believe in His name.
In the chapter from which the text is taken, the apostle Paul argues that justification before God could not be obtained by means of the observance of the law of Moses, because it pronounces all those to be accursed who do not pay to it a perfect or sinless obedience. And he intimates that even under the Mosaical dispensation, the children of God looked through its types and shadows to Him who was to be the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth ; and did not expect justification by the law in the sight of God; in proof of which he quotes a passage
from the prophecy of Habakkuk, where it is said, The just shall live by faith. 57
The Epistle for this day commences with the observation, To Abraham and to his seed were the promises made. The apostle had before referred to a promise made to Abraham, In thee shall all nations be blessed.58 He here argues that this promise related to our Lord Jesus Christ, it being expressed in the singular number. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. There is no doubt, from this remark, that Abraham so understood the promise; it having been made to him on the offering up of his son Isaac in obedience to the command of God; an offering which typified that of our Lord Jesus Christ. When God called
57 Habakkuk ii. 4.
58 Galatians iii. 8.
59 James ii. 23.