Imatges de pàgina

“ It is the office of the Holy Ghost to assure us of the adoption of sons, to create in us a sense of the paternal love of God towards us, to give us an earnest of our everlasting inheritance. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the Sons of God. And because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father. For we have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear : but we have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. As, therefore, we are born again by the Spirit, and receive from him our regeneration, so we are also assured by the same Spirit of our adoption ; and because being sons, we are also heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, by the same Spirit we have the pledge, or rather the earnest of our inheritance. For he which established us in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and hath given us the earnest of his Spirit in our hearts ; so that we are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." ť

III. From the view which has been taken of this subject, it now remains, to derive some lessons of practical utility.

The vital importance of the Spirits internal witness, and its preeminent adaptation to promote the comfort and holiness of believers, entitle it to a distinguished place in the ministration of the word of God.

To the scheme of salvation, as unfolded in all its completeness in the gospel, this doctrine bears a relation, not less intimate and important, than the key-stone does to the arch that it holds together. It is the golden link that binds it to the throne of God. Unlike one of those less considerable appendages of the system, which may be thrown into the shade without materially affecting the whole, if it be not made to stand forth with due prominence, there cannot be exhibited a consistent and adequate view of the truth as it is in Jesus. Take this solitary doctrine away from the gospel, and all the stupendous discoveries that remain lose their mighty and saving energy, and become as void of coherency and meaning as the leaves which the Sybil strewed to the wind. Peculiarly potent too is the moral influence which when rightly apprehended, it is fitted to exert. From the general diffusion of accurate conceptions concerning it, the most valuable results could not fail to emanate. The subsidence of that prejudice with which it has at present to contend, would be among the humblest triumphs of such increase of knowledge: Christians would then take a brighter, and more

† Bishop Pearson's Exposition of the Creed.

expansive view of the hope of their high calling, and, yielding their hearts to hallowed and earnest aspirings after intimacy of communion with God before unfelt, they would approximate much nearer in the elevation of their enjoyments, and in the purity and simplicity of their lives, to the character of the primitive followers of our Lord. How incumbent then upon every christian teacher, who would be able with propriety to adopt the apostolic avowalI have not shunned to declare all the counsel of Godis the duty, of assigning to the witness of the Spirit, a conspicuous place in his ininistrations. Were it neccessary, my respected and beloved Fathers and Brethren in the Ministry, that in reference to a duty so imperative, your pure minds should be stirred up by way of remembrance, it would be repulsively indecorous in me to press such obligations. But the memento is uncalled for. You have not forgotten the monitory words of the venerated Wesley—“ It more nearly concerns the Methodists, so called, clearly to understand, explain, and defend this doctrine, because it is one grand part of the Testimony which God has given them to bear to all mankind. It is by his peculiar blessing upon them in searching the Scriptures, confirmed by the experience of his children, that this great evangelical truth has been recovered, which had been for many years well nigh lost and forgotten."

Under these vivid perceptions of the deep and awful responsibilities attached to the ministerial office. I would turn to all in this assembly, who are the professed disciples of Christ, and say-Let none rest without the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit's testimony. Remember, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his. Have you come, let me then enquire, have you come, self-condemned penitent, believing applicants to the throne of heavenly grace, and implored mercy, and obtained this Spirit? Has there descended upon your minds that rich and renewing unction from above, without which you cannot be Christians indeed? Do you wear enshrined in your breasts the living pledge of your Redeemer's love? Have

you the earnest of the Spirit, which can alone constitute you authorised expectants of the inheritance of the saints in light? Beware of a delusive peace. Let nothing satisfy you short of what the Bible teaches you to seek and expect, as absolutely indispensible to your salvationthe Spirit of adoption. But I address some I trust many, who walk not only in the fear of the Lord, but also in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, With you, brethren, is the secret of the Lord; the sense and evidence of his covenanted favor. Estimable treasure! It is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared unto it. Oh! my brethren, guard, by unremitting attention to every means, by a prompt compliance with every dictate of the Spirit, by an obedient subjec

tion to the will of God, and by vigilant circumspection in the whole of your deportment; thus guard, and keep unto the end, the heavenly treasure. Never obliterate by unfaithfulness, the hallowed impress which your hearts have received. Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto tke day of redemption.

FINALLY, Lct those who have hitherto lived without hope, and without God in the world, yield to a conviction of their wretchedness and danger, and seek the Lord while He may be found. Sinners! you have violated the law of God; and against you it speaks out its thunders. You have resisted the Holy Spirit: you have despised the the riches of redeeming love. And still, God is waiting to be gracious unto you. He has created, He hath redeemed you; and he willeth not your death. His long-suffering has been protracted to the present moment, that you might have space to seek him, and that his goodness might impel you to repentance. In language which strongly contrasts your moral turpitude with his unexhausted compassion, he continues to address you—Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life. Oh! what will ye do when earth's shadowy scenes are receding away from your view, and eternity-an awful eternity—is just about to disclose and throw around you its immeasurable scenes and unchanging realities, if unsupported then by the consolations of the Holy Spirit? Let the dread anticipation wake your dormant consciences, and excite you to flee from the coming wrath. Why these desires to linger in the devoted plains? Why these pleas for procrastination

Go thy way for this time : when I have a convenient season I will call for thee?—Why these seductive pleas, that disarm the power of our ministry, and cause its impressions to be so evanescent? Is not present happiness the object of your desires and pursuits? Oh! when will ye believe, that the celestial plant blooms only under the genial light and influence of the favor of God? If you would find rest to your weary spirits come to Christ who alone can give it. In vain do you seek it elsewhere. Here, and here alone are there, to be found the requisites of true and ever-during bliss. Here are the merciful announcements of pardon, to dispel the overwhelmings of conscious guilt; here is the blood of sprinkling ; here are the consolations of the peace of God that passeth all-understanding; here are the rapture-breathing promises of redeeming grace; here are the sublime enjoyments of communion with God; and here too, to crown the whole, are the expanding prospects of ineffable and unending glory!

66 And shall the victor now Boast the proud laurels on his painted brow? Religion! 0 thou Cherub! heavenly bright! O joys unmix'd and fathomless delight! Thou, thou art all!»

[ocr errors]





And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples : but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. Acts ix. 26.

The Conversion of a soul from sin to righteousness, from the service of Satan to the service of God, from being the enemy of God and man, to his becoming the friend of both; is a work so evidently above all human power, that none but confirmed infidels, or mere heathens, have ever supposed that anything less than the agency of God could effect it.

When therefore we see a man so transformed in his nature; so changed in his views, his passions and his habits; from being the persecutor and the murderer of an unoffending class of his fellowmen, as to become their admirer, their associate, their apologist, and their fellow-sufferer, it argues, allowing the man be one of ordinary wisdom and prudene, that the cause which he has espoused, has more than ordinary claims to the attention of every sober and reflecting mind; and that some powerful agency must have been employed in the disposing of his mind to such a change,

When, again it is considered, that, in submitting to such a change

views, he renounces all pre-conceived opinions; all former prejudices; and forsakes the associates of his youth, and of his former choice; gives up all hope of preferment, ease, wealth, and honor; and encounters shame, poverty, reproach, and the loss of all things, which men have been known to esteem in every age; for the sake of establishing a system, and of forming a sect, which shall not even have the honor of his name to perpetuate it; is it not a proof, either that the man is mad, or that the new cause which he has espoused is divine?

The conversion of Saui of Tarsus from Judaism to Christianity, and his labors and sufferings as an apostle of Christ---; including


also his conversion from sin to holiness, and an entire renovation of character, from that of a furious persecutor, to that of a most illustrious philanthropist and patient sufferer, are in themselves no inconsiderable proofs of the truth of the Christian religion. In discoursing on the text we have chosen, let us notice

I. The history of this extraordinary man.

The illustrious person whose conversion we are about to relatè, was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, and his parents were Hebrews. He was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and hence, was by birth a free citizen of Rome. His parents sent him in early life to Jerusalem, to study the Jewish law, under the direction of Gamaliel, the most famous doctor of that age.

He made great progress in his studies, and as a Jew, lived a very blameless life. He was of the sect of the Pharisees, and was beyond many, strict observer of the law of Moses. In those days a new sect arose, at first called Nazarenes, afterwards Christians, whom he thought it his duty, by every way he could devise to affront, and to oppose, to persecute, and to destroy; and thinking that his conduct herein was pleasing to God he was exceedingly mad against them.'

When Stephen the protomartyr was murdered by the mob, Saul, though not a very old sinner at that time, consented unto his death, and probably rejoiced at the deed; for he was very active in the persecution that followed. He entered the houses of the Christians, and hauled both men and women to prison.' He entered the synagogues where the Christians assembled themselves at any time, and caused them to be beaten with rods; yea so fiery was his zeal, that he compelled them to blaspheme; and persecuted them even unto strange cities. Not satisfied with what he had already done, but still breathing out threatnings and slaughter ' against the disciples of the Lord, he went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus, that if he found any of the new sect, whether men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.' Fine work indeed for a man of note, a gentleman and a scholar, to be engaged in; dragging men and women, fathers and mothers, from their families and their honest occupations for no other crime than worshipping the Lord their God! Fine business for a priest of the Most High God, to be making out credentials for such a blood-thirsty monster, authorising him to commit such outrages upon the peace of society- True priestcraft this! Admirable zeal for God, indeed! But mark the wisdom and mercy of God, wherein was fulfilled that ancient promise to his church, when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.' Whilst Saul was upon the road, and drawing near to Damascus, all on a sudden,

« AnteriorContinua »