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watch against the lusts of the heart and the temptations of Satan ; to obey the counsel of ministers
; to follow the light of conscience and the guidance of holy Scripture. Thus will Christ at length appear “full of grace and truth.” Already he has not rejected you. Already he has received you. Ere long he will console, as well as bless. Ere long he will so shine into your mind, and enable you so to read the scriptural" witness of the Spirit,” that you will go on your heavenly way in peace and hope. In the meantime, let it ever be engraven on your heart, that Christ in no wise casts out him that cometh unto him for the bread from heaven ; but is infinitely more willing to admit us, than we can be to come to him; and rejoices more in giving, than we can do in receiving the blessing of salvation.
But there is, in truth, one class of characters whom Christ will reject—and with this thought I conclude. He will cast them out at the last day, who refuse his invitations now. They who will not have Christ to reign over them, who reject his offers, despise his gospel, make light of the heavenly banquet, must abide the fearful consequences. He will hereafter say of them, “ As to those mine enemies who would not that I should reign over them, bring them out and slay them before me.” Deliberate therefore, I
pray you, now in time. Hear once again with serious attention the accents of grace. Come ere it be too late. Knock ere the door be closed for ever. Seek
the Lord, while he may be found, call ye upon him, while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abun, dantly pardon.”
JOHN xiv. 26.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom
the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your re
membrance, whatsoever † have said unto you. Man is in himself a comfortless, wandering, creature. This almost all feel and acknowledge; but few know that the sorrows of mankind are only the symptoms of a disease which lies deeper in the circumstances of a fallen world ; and that Christianity reveals the only effectual remedy for them in the sacrifice of our Lord, as applied by Him who bears the name, and executes the office of the Comforter.
If there be any thing which can demonstrate the tendency of the gospel to promote human happiness in every sense of the expression, it is this revelation of an inward Teacher and Comforter.
Three things, indeed, we manifestly want in order to regain the path of truth and peace. We need a clear and decisive revelation of the being and perfections of the one living and true God; we require a distinct direction as to the way of pardon and acceptance; and we want an inward principle of love to God and goodness; something to set the machinery of salvation, so to speak, in movement, and to give it internal force and success.
The two former requisites are met, as we have already seen, by the proclamation of the jubilee of the world,' by the great mystery of the gospel," by the doctrine of atonement, the call to repentance, and the encouragement to every penitent to come by faith to its divine Author.5
The third necessity we shall now find to be supplied by the doctrine of the Comforter, of whom our Lord discourses largely in the chapters connected with that from which the words are taken. We shall divide our observations into the two parts which the tenor of that discourse points out; and consider, first, the doctrine of this inward Comforter, as it respects the names and titles he bears; and, secondly, as it regards the blessed Savior, through whom he is vouchsafed.
May “the Lord the Spirit” vouchsafe to us his gracious presence, that by his “ holy inspiration we may,” on this subject of all others, “think those things that be good, and by his merciful guiding perform the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord !"
I. In considering the chief names and titles of the divine Author of grace, it will be sufficient to confine ourselves to four: The Holy Ghost, as the Spring of holiness; The Comforter, as the Source of consolation; The Spirit of Truth, as the Teacher of the heart; The Lord and Giver of Life, as implanting a new and heavenly Nature.
1. Together with the first title, The Holy Ghost, we consider various names of like import ; The Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of
1 Sermon I.
2 Sermon II.
3 Sermon III.
Christ, the Lord the Spirit; which are terms applied to him, because he is that self-existing and independent Spirit, possessed of all the infinite perfections of deity, who, “with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.”
The personality and deity of the Spirit involved In these titles is proved just as the atonement, preexistence, and deity of our Lord, or as the Fall of man, or any other of those main doctrines in which Christianity consists, are proved by the uniform language of holy Scripture in its plain, logical meaning.
In speaking of the blessed Spirit, the inspired penmen describe a self-subsisting, active, divine, and personal agent; one who “commands” and “sends;" who “ testifies" and " speaks ;" who “ wills” and “ chooses ;” who is capable of grief and joy ; who “strives” and “pleads” with men; who “ divides gifts to every one severally as he wills;" who “ ches the deep things of God;" against whom blasphemy is the sin irremissible; who dwelling in us makes us "temples of God;" concerning whom a lie uttered, is a lie “not unto men, but unto God ;" and to whom the most solemn acts of religious wor. ship are, equally with the Father and the Son, addressed; baptism and continual benediction“ Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost ;" “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.”
A detailed proof of the personality of the Holy Ghost is found in our Lord's discourse, of which our text is a part: “ The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name.” “I will pray the Father, and he shall send you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.”
He shall teach you
all things." "When the Comforter is come, he shall testify of me." "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
“ And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin,” &c. Here as an express promise of a divine visitant or agent; who should be another and second personal Comforter to the disciples, even as our Lord himself had been, during his abode on earth, the first : who should be sent, who should come, who should teach, who should bear witness and reprove the world, who should abide with the Church for ever.
Now if all these direct personal acts mean nothing more than the influence or power of God, the language is harsh and unnatural in the extreme, and contrary to all the fixed usages of human speech. Our Lord does not merely promise instruction, but one who should instruct, as one of my eminent predecessors observes ;not comfort, but a Comforter ; not knowledge, but the Spirit of truth; not conviction, but a reprover; not assistance, but one who should dwell and abide for ever. If this grave, unadorned, solemn language of our Lord in his last discourse with his disciples, be interpreted as a mere poetical figure, all the meaning of the Bible is thrown into doubt. Poetical figures are known by the manner of their introduction, their circumstances, and the whole context; and are as intelligible in their place as the most ordinary prose. But a man might as well attempt to explain away the precise language of an act of parliament by loosely talking of poetical figures, as this parting discourse of our Lord.
The doctrine is indeed mysterious—“the mystery, emphatically, "of godliness ;" for in what mode the three divine and co-equal subsistences exist in the unity of the one eternal and almighty Potentate, we know not, we pretend not to know. But the