صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

after all the efforts which are made to counteract it; even as poison retains its destructive efficacy, in whatever form it is administered. This will in great measure continue to be the case," until the "Spirit be poured upon us from on high," to renew men's hearts to the divine image in holy love: and then, they will delight in equity, goodness, mercy, and peace, after the example of our holy God; which will render human society as happy, as it is now too often miserable.

Again, the earth hath in every age been a field of blood; and the vast proportion of our race, which has perished by the sword, almost exceeds credibility or calculation: nor can the compassionate mind reflect on the subject without horror and amazement. The causes of this deplorable fact have been sought for in the different forms of government; and in the ambition of men distinguished by certain titles, or invested with authority in some peculiar manner. Yet the disposition "to delight in war" seems to have been common to governors of all descriptions: and the sacred writers, characterizing the ungodly, say, "Their "feet are swift to shed blood." Universal history is the best comment on this text: all the genius of mankind, however diversified, has combined to celebrate successful warriors. The original murderer has appeared in this respect especially to be the god of this world: Mars, Bellona, and even Minerva, (the poet's emblem of prudence in war,) are the names under which polite nations have worshipped him and unnumbered millions of human victims have been immolated at his shrine, by his renowned priests, who have emulated his

ambition and malignity, and shared the adoration which he received. Thus it will be in a great measure, "until the Spirit be poured upon us from

[ocr errors]

on high." Ambition, resentment, rapacity, and interfering interests will continue to excite mankind to war: and both the mighty and the mean will, in general, deem this one of the most honourable and desirable of employments; till those happy times arrive, which are predicted in the scriptures, when "the nations shall beat their swords into "plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; " and they shall learn war no more." But every degree of that sacred influence will, in the mean time, produce proportionably the same happy consequences.

It is likewise grievous to reflect on the severities, which are necessary to maintain peace and order in the community: on the numbers deprived of life, immured in dungeons, and banished to remote and desolate regions, that others may live in security while the silent ravages of licentiousness appear even still more dreadful, to those who have the opportunity, or are under the painful necessity, of investigating them. The wisdom and assiduity of men are well employed in attempting to abate these dire mischiefs: but no effectual remedy will be applied" until the Spirit be poured upon us "from on high." Then the divine law will be written in men's hearts; and justice, benevolence, and universal temperance, implanted in the soul, will infallibly rectify these disorders, which are incurable by all other means.

We cannot reflect on the condition in which the nations remain to this day, without lamenting that

so large a proportion of the earth is still covered with Pagan darkness, Mohammedan delusion, or Jewish incredulity. The ignorance, superstition, and wickedness of nominal Christians; the prevalence of antiscriptural tenets even in the protestant churches; and the rapid progress of impiety, infidelity and atheism; present a very gloomy prospect to the mind of a true believer. And, when we consider the immense difficulties of remedying these evils, and the inadequate effects of the most laudable efforts; we are ready to sit down in despair. We should, however, remember that every degree of success far more than counterbalances the expense or labour of our exertions; and that we must not expect to make very rapid progress, "until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high." But then "mountains will flow down" at the presence of the Lord; nations will be born in a day; a new creation will prepare men's hearts to welcome the gospel; all other difficulties will vanish or be surmounted; and "the earth will be filled with "the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover "the sea."

The various abuses, divisions, scandals, and false doctrines, which prevail among such as shew more regard to scriptural Christianity, will not be counteracted; nor will that revival of the power of godliness in our congregations, which every friend of evangelical truth must ardently desire, be effectually introduced, "till the Spirit be poured upon "us from on high." So that this is the only grand desideratum: the only adequate remedy for all the evils we witness or hear of, in the church and in the world. Till our prayers in this respect be an

swered, we shall see on every side most lamentable disorders, which we cannot rectify; and few in comparison will be found, who have ability or zeal for making such arduous attempts: but this expected event will raise up and qualify instruments for every kind of service; dispose the minds of multitudes cordially to unite in vigorous exertions; and render their endeavours rapidly and extensively successful. I proceed then,

IV. To point out some instructions more immeately arising from the subject.

How ignorant must they be, as to the very first principles of Christianity, who treat our professed dependence on the Holy Spirit, and experience of his sacred influences, with supercilious contempt ! A Jew of old would not have been more profanely absurd, in ridiculing the expectation of a Messiah as fanaticism. Even if uninspired men could, by their superior talents, improve upon the oracles of God, (as some of them seem arrogantly disposed to think they can,) this would no more supersede the necessity of divine influences, than modern improvements in agriculture render the fertilizing showers and the genial warmth of the sun unnecessary. Even the preaching of Him, " who spake as never "man spake," was rendered effectual by the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit; without which, Paul would have planted, and Apollos watered in vain. No wonder then, that such teachers as deny, deride, explain away, or even keep out of sight, the promised influences of the Holy Spirit, harangue the people in weekly lectures, from year to year, without witnessing or even expecting any great effect. While men depend on their own rationa

lity, ingenuity, or eloquence, and dishonour the divine Spirit; we may be sure that the Lord will frown upon the presumptuous attempt, and blast all their vain endeavours. Indeed no man is warranted to expect success, even in preaching the pure gospel of Christ, except as he simply relies on the Holy Spirit to assist and prosper his labours, uses the proper means of obtaining his powerful co-operation, and explicitly gives him all the glory.

"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is "none of his." Unless, therefore, we possess some evidence in our own hearts that we are " the tem

[ocr errors]

ples of the Holy Spirit," we cannot, without manifest presumption, expect that the Judge of the world will, at the last day, own us as his true disciples but this cannot be known to us, except by the effects produced on our views, dispositions, affections, and conduct. Humiliation for sin, faith, love of Christ and his people, compassion for sinners, a spiritual mind, and an habitual aim to glorify God and do good to men, are the genuine effects produced by the Spirit of God dwelling in


Can it then be rational to overlook those scriptures which speak on these subjects? or to expect the eternal felicity promised to Christians, while destitute of those things which are declared essential to Christianity?

Again, would we prosper in our own souls, or succeed in endeavouring to do good in our families, connexions, and situations; we must adhere to the doctrines and precepts of scripture; pray with fervent importunity for the influences of the Spirit ; and be very careful not to grieve him, or to quench

« السابقةمتابعة »