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WAIT FOR THE SPIRIT. 479
nion of saints, which is commenced on earth, and consummated in heaven.
To conclude—since all true holiness in man is derived from the Spirit of Truth—since, when he forsakes us, we are left destitute of the very spring of virtue and piety—it surely becomes us not only to give that scriptural doctrine which has now been considered, a place in our creed, but earnestly to embrace it, and with full purpose of heart to avail ourselves of the promise of the Father, for our own personal edification and growth in grace.
Now, in order to this end, the mind of the Christian ought ever to be habituated to the attitude of expectation. "My soul, wait thou only upon God," said David, "for my expectation is from him:" Ps. lxii, 5. We cannot too much cultivate that just and wholesome sense of our own natural depravity, and of the boundless grace of the Supreme Being, towards his believing and dependent children, which will induce us, from day to day, and from hour to hour, (in whatsoever calling we may be engaged) to wait upon him; to fix upon him our warm and constant regards; and to expect his divine assistance; for it is thus that we shall be best prepared to receive those constant supplies of a celestial influence, which can alone purify our motives, chasten and sanctify our thoughts, and enable us to persevere with simplicity and sincerity in the path of Christian duty. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint:" Isa. xl, 31.
But the Christian, who is acquainted with the corruption of his own heart, and knows the unutterable
480 PRAY FOR THE SPIRIT.
value of a divine influence, will not only strive to attain to this waiting frame of mind—this habitual attitude of pious expectation—but will also often plead the promise of the Father in actual prayer. As the doty of prayer, in general, is largely enforced upon us in Scripture, so are we encouraged, in a very especial manner, and that by the Lord Jesus himself, to pray for the Holy Spirit. "If a son," said he to his disciples, " shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke xi, 11—13. And here I would remark, that, as the gift of the Holy Spirit is a pure, unmixed, unquestionable, good—since it must always tend, without the slightest variation or " shadow of turning," to our own essential happiness, and to the glory of God—it is a blessing for which we cannot pray too constantly or too fervently. In order to the attainment of such a blessing, we may safely give wings to our utmost desires, and, without reserve, pour forth our wannest petitions to a throne of grace. The influence of the Holy Spirit is precisely that one indispensable gift, for which " men ought always to pray and not to faint:" Luke xviii, 1.
Finally, we are exhorted by an apostle not to quench, and not to grieve, the Holy Spirit: Eph. iv, 30; I Thess. v, 19. Experience affords us many a melancholy proof, that merciful as are the designs of the eternal Spirit towards us, and infinite as is his power, he may soon be grieved by our pride, our impenitence, and our rebellion, and his gentle influ
OBEY THE SPIRIT. 481
ences quenched by the vain pleasures of the world, and the sinful indulgence of the flesh. It is said of the Israelites of old, (and very awful surely is the warning) that "they rebelled and vexed (the Lord's) Holy Spirit, and that, "therefore" God "was turned to be their enemy, and fought against them:" Isa. lxiii, 10. If we would avail ourselves of the privileges of the Gospel dispensation, and participate in the fellowship of the saints, and in the peace of God, we must not only wait and pray for the Holy Spirit—we must also yield to his influence, submit ourselves to his guidance, and obey his dictates. Thus, and thus only, shall we make an effectual progress in our Christian course, advance in the life of grace and holiness, and realize, in our own experience, the declaration of Solomon, that "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day:" Prov. iv, 18.
Having now considered the principal features of that glorious plan of love and wisdom which God has appointed for the redemption of mankind, we may revert to the inquiry which formed our introduction to the present essay. What could he the mighty and equivalent purposes for which that infinitely glorious Person, the Son of God, who is one with the Father in the divine nature, and is therefore himself Jehovah, should so marvellously condescend and humble himself, as to take our nature upon him; in that nature undergo every species of contumely and contradiction of sinners, and finally die" on the cross a cruel and shameful death?
To this inquiry, the scriptural statements, which
482 CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
have now passed under our review, afford a full and satisfactory answer. In his adorable mercy, in his almighty power, he came not only to reveal the truth, and to promulgate the law of God, but also to deliver mankind; to recover them from their lost condition; to save them from the dominion of Satan, and from everlasting destruction; to supply all their spiritual need; to reconcile them by his blood-shedding and mediation to the Father Almighty; to impart to them the merits of his own righteousness; to illuminate, regenerate, and sanctify them by his Holy Spirit; to bestow upon them both indemnity and cure; and thus to provide for them a boundless eternity of unsullied happiness. Here are unfolded purposes worthy of the Son of God, by whom all things were created " in heaven and in earth;" and worthy of the peculiar display of his love and condescension revealed to us in the Bible—purposes fully adequate to his divine dignity, and capable of being carried into effect only by Him, who, while he suffered in our suffering nature, was indeed Jehovah—personally participating in the wisdom, power, and essence, of the Only True God. Whether, indeed, we regard the human nature of Jesus Christ, in which he ministered to our necessities, died for our sins, rose for our justification, and now, in his priestly character, is tenderly touched with a feeling of our infirmities— or his divine nature, which imparts an infinite efficacy to all his gracious offices—we cannot but acknowledge, that between the spiritual wants of mankind on the one hand, and the sure mercies of the Messiah of God on the other, there subsists a nice, an accurate, a perfect, adaptation.
When we reflect on that adaptation — when we
ON REDEMPTION. 483
dwell at once on its comprehensiveness and its exactness, our minds become furnished with an experimental and conclusive proof—a proof which the cavils of infidelity can never materially weaken—that the message of the Gospel of Christ is no "cunningly devised fable," but irrefragable truth; and we are prepared to apprehend the declaration of the apostle—" He that hath The Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son Of God, hath not life:" I John v, 12. While, however, we accept the eternal Son of God, as the Saviour and Redeemer of men, our Resurrection and our Life, our only hope of Glory, we are always to remember, that herein are our strength and joy—that " through Him" we have " access by One Spirit, unto the Father:" Eph. ii, 18. Nothing, indeed, is so much calculated to fill the mind of the believer with wonder, admiration, and gratitude, as the joint and united love—the perfect harmony of design and operation—with which the Father decrees, the Son conducts, and the Spirit assists and completes, the mighty scheme of man's redemption. In contemplating so vast and awful a subject, we can surely do no less than bow down in abasement of soul before the Majesty of heaven, and exclaim, Glory be to God on high—glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, now and for ever!