Imatges de pÓgina

ceedingly careful that we grieve not this good Spirit, and to provoke him to withhold his gracious assistance from



2. The Holy Spirit carries on the work of sanctification by supplying believers with experience of the truth, reality, and excellency of the things believed. Experience is the food of all grace, which it grows and thrives upon. Every taste that faith obtains of divine love and grace, adds to its measure and stature. Hence God expostulates with the church, as to the weakness of her faith, after so much experience of his power and faithfulness: Hast thou not heard, hast thou not known?-How then sayest thou that God has forsaken three? And our apostle affirms, that the consolations he had experimentally received from God, enabled him to discharge his duty towards others in trouble; for herein we prove,' or really approve of, as being satisfied in, the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.' How often does David encourage his own faith and others, from his former experiences! which were also pleaded by Christ himself, to the same purpose, in his great distress. Now it is the Holy Ghost who gives us all our spiritual experiences; it is his office to administer consolation, as the great Comforter of the church; and he administers it, by giving to believers a spiritual, sensible experience of the reality and power of the things believed. Other means of spiritual consolation I know not; and I am sure this never fails. Give the soul a taste of the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus, and be its condition what it may, it cannot refuse to be comforted; and hereby he sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts," by which all graces are cherished and increased.

3. He doth it by working immediately an actual increase of these graces in us; as he first creates them, so he increases them. Hereby the feeble become as David' those whose graces were weak, whose faith was infirm, and whose love was languid, become, by the supplies of the Spirit, strong and vigorous.

Secondly. There are graces whose exercise is more occasional;it is not necessary that they should be always in actual exercise, as faith and love are to be. With respect to these, holiness is increased by the addition of one to another, till we are brought on several occasions to the



practice of them all; and the wise providence of God renders our relations, afflictions, temptations, enjoy. ments, and all occurrences subservient to this en. This is given us in charge, Besides all this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity.' 2 Pet. j. 5, 6, 7. To this purpose are the promises given, and a divine nature imparted. But will that suffice? or, Is nothing more required of us to that end? Yes,' saith the apostle, 'Use your utmost diligence to add the exercise of all graces one to another, as occasion requires;' and this addition is from the Holy Ghost; for he so orders our affairs, that the exercise of these graces shall become necessary. All the afflictions of the church have this design; hence the apostle James says, ' My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trial of your faith worketh pa tience but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. All our trials are under the direction of Christ, by his Spirit; and they are to this end, that faith may be exercised, patience employed, and one grace added to another. In this state of things, he effectually reminds us of our duty, and what graces ought to be exercised. We may dispute whether it be better to act faith, or to despond; to exercise patience under continued trials, or irregularly to seek deliverance then he causes us to hear a word behind us, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when we turn to the right hand, and when we turn to the left. When we are at a loss, and know not what to do, and are ready perhaps to consult with flesh and blood,' he speaks ef fectually to us, saying, 'No; that is not your way; but this is, namely, to act faith, patience, and submission to God.' Now this is the work of the Spirit, who not only bestows in regeneration a nature capable of growth, but affords actual supplies for its increase. I the Lord water it every moment; and the Spirit is this water. the Father takes upon him the care of his vineyard: 'I the Lord do keep it night and day.' The Lord Christ is Fountain of all supplies; and the Spirit is the efficause, communicating them to us from him. Hence



it is that any grace is kept alive one moment, that it is ever acted in a single duty, or that it ever receives the least increase. With respect to all these, our apostle says, 'I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' Spiritual life, in all the acts of it, is immediately from Christ.


There is no man who has any true grace, but the Spirit, by his care over it, and supplies of it, is able to preserve it, to free it from opposition, and to increase it to its full measure and perfection. Wherefore, let the hands that hang down be lifted up, and the feeble knees be strengthened: we have to do with him who will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax.' And on the other hand, no one has received such a measure of grace, that he can preserve it one moment, or act it in one instance, without the constant supplies of the Spirit; for 'without him we can do nothing.' Wherefore God has so ordered the dispensation of his grace to believers, that all of them living on the supplies of his Spirit, can have no cause on the one hand to faint, nor on the other to glory in themselves: there is ground of faith given to all, and occasion of presumption administered to none.

I shall close the discourse on this subject, with some consideration of that similitude by which the Scripture so frequently represents the gradual improvement of grace and holiness; and this is the growth of trees and plants. 'I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon: his branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon.' Hos. xiv. 5, 6. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring and they shall spring up as among the grass, as the willows by the water-courses. Isa. xliv. 3, 4.

(1.) These trees and plants have the principle of their growth in themselves. They do not grow immediately from external aid, but from their own seminal virtue. It is thus in the progress of holiness: it has a root, a seed, a principle of growth in the soul. All grace is immortal seed, and contains in it a living growing principle. That which has not in itself a life and power of growth, grace and therefore whatever duties men perform, as directed by mere natural light, if they proceed not from a principle of spiritual life in the heart, they are not Fruits of holiness. (2.) A tree or plant must be watered.

is not

from above, or it will not thrive by virtue of its own seminal power; if a drought come, it will wither or decay. Wherefore God ascribes this growth to his own watering:

I will be as the dew,' and I will pour water,' is the special cause of it: and this God does by the actual supplies of the Spirit. (3.) The growth of trees and plants is secret and imperceptible, and discerned only in the effects of it; the most watchful eye can discern little of its motion, and so it is in the progress of holiness. It is not immediately discernible either by those in whom it is, or by others who observe it, except by its fruits and effects. Some indeed, especially at times, de evidently thrive and grow, springing up like the willows by the watercourses;' though their growth in itself is indiscernible, yet it is plain they have grown. Such we ought all to be: and as some affirm that the growth of plants is by sudden gusts and motions (which may sometimes be discerned in the opening of buds and flowers) so the rowth of believers consists principally in some vigorous actings of grace on great occasions, as of faith, love, humility, and bounty. Again: There are trees and plants that have a principle of life in them, but yet are so withering and unthrifty, that you can only discern them to be alive: and so it is with too many believers; they are all trees planted in the garden of God; some thrive, some decay for a season; but the growth of the best is secret.


It is evident, therefore, that sanctification is a progressive work. It is not completed in us at once, as regeneration is, nor does it cease under any attainments. river, continually fed by a living fountain, may as soon end its streams before it come to the ocean, as a stop be put to the course of grace before it issue in glory; for

the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day :'-the morninglight may be clouded for a time, yet fails not till it arrive at perfection; and thus it is with their path who are led by the Spirit. And as the wisdom, patience, and power of the Spirit herein are unutterable, so they are constantly admired by those who are interested in them. Who is there that has made any diligent observation of his own heart, and what have been the workings of grace within, to bring him to his présent stature and measure, who does net admire the watchful care and powerful operations of

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the Spirit of God! The principle of holiness, as in us, is weak and infirm, because it is in us; this he preserves and cherishes, that it shall not be overpowered by corruptions and temptations. Among all the glorious works of God, next to that of redemption by Jesus Christ, my soul most admires this of the Spirit in preserving the principle of holiness in us, as a spark of living fire in the midst of the ocean, against all corruptions and temptations whereby it is opposed. Many breaches are made on the course of our obedience by the incursions of actual sins; these he cures and makes up, healing our backslidings and repairing our decays. He loses much of the comfort of a spiritual life, who does not diligently observe the means of its preservation; and it is no small part of our sin and folly when we are negligent herein.

All believers are, no doubt, in some measure convinced of this, both from Scripture and experience; and there is nothing from which they may more distinctly learn it than the workings of their minds in prayer. It is the Spirit of grace and supplication' who enables them to pray; he copies out and expresses what he works in them, as the Spirit of sanctification: and if we wisely consider his working in our hearts by prayer, we may understand much of his working upon our hearts by grace. Now how does the Holy Spirit teach us to pray? It is (1) By giving us a spiritual insight into the promises of God, and the grace of the covenant, whereby we know what to ask. (2.) By acquainting us with our wants, and giving us such a deep sense of them, as we cannot bear without relief. (3.) By stirring up desires in the new creature for its own preservation, increase, and improvement. Answerable to these things is his whole work of sanctification; for it is his effectual communication of the grace mercy prepared in the promises of the covenant, through Jesus Christ; hereby he supplies our spiritual wants, and sets the new creature in life and vigour. Thus are our prayers an extract or copy of the Spirit's work given us by himself. Now what is it that you chiefly labour about in prayer? Is it not that the body of sin' may be weakened, subdued, and at length destroyed? Is it not that all the graces of the Spirit may be daily renewed, increased, and strengthened? And what is all


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