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Grieve him not by the indulgence of a worldly and carnal temper; quench not his light by any impure and sinful passions. Resist not, provoke not this blessed Comforter. But walk in the Spirit, and mind the things of the Spirit; for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
This doctrine is peculiar to revealed religion, and it is of daily and constant use. It teaches us man's utter insufficiency, and God's fulness, and all-sufficiency. Let it lead us to the life of faith and love; to a simple dependance on divine strength, given through a crucified Lord, to a constant application to him for the supply of all our need, and to fervent prayers for the outpouring of the Spirit on the whole world.
This chapter cannot be concluded more suitably, than with the prayer of the Martyr Ridley,—“ O heavenly Father, the author and fountain of all truth, the bottomless sea of all understanding; send down, we beseech thee, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, and lighten our understandings with the beams of thy heavenly grace. We ask this, O merciful Father, not in respect of our deserts, but for thy dear Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
The relative Situations and respective Duties of Ministers and of People.
THE New Testament makes it sufficiently clear, that from the beginning of the Gospel, there has ever been a peculiar body of men set apart for the instruction and edification of the church. The twelve apostles were first appointed, and the foundation of the christian ministry is the direction to them---Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matt. xxviii, 19, 20. The apostles went forth and preached every where; and, as the work grew and extended, they appointed others, with directions to ordain fresh teachers, as the church was enlarged. St. Paul says to Titus, For this cause left thee in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city as I had appointed thee: (Titus i, 5.) and he tells Timothy,-The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 2 Tim. ii, 2.
The necessity of this appointment for the salvation of men is strongly put by the apostle when shewing the connection of prayer with our salvation; he asks, How shall they call on him in whom they have not
nature we see no form nor comeliness in Christ, no beauty in him that we should desire him. Hence the Apostle tells us, that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. When taught by this Spirit, the soul supremely values and eagerly thirsts after the knowledge of Christ, and feels and says with the Apostle, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Phil. iii, 8. The atonement and intercession of our Lord Christ, his love and grace, his tenderness, sympathy, and compassion, are discerned by us, and applied with power to our hearts through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, in the ministry of the word. Jesus Christ, and him crucified, is the very substance of a faithful ministry, and such preaching is in demonstration of the spirit and of power, and Christians can say of such truths, God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. 1 Cor. ii, 1-10. To preach Christ is the Minister's work; to hear Christ is the people's; but to reveal Christ is the express office of the Holy Ghost. If any of my readers have hitherto felt little value for Christ, and little love to him, and feeble desires after him, they may here see the true cause—a want of the special aid of the Holy Ghost. O let it be our great concern to obtain this inestimable benefit; let it be our great desire that the Holy Spirit may discover the glories of the Saviour, as exhibited in his word, that our hearts may be drawn to him.
(2.) The Holy Spirit makes THE WORD OF CHRIST
A SOURCE OF GREAT COMFORT AND GLADNESS.
This is one important part of the ministry. The blessed Spirit gives the direction to ministers, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem:
he makes it their office to comfort them that mourn. But all their ministrations are only instrumental. It is the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, who teaches you all things, and brings all things to your remembrance. Therefore when the hearts of the disciples were troubled at the thoughts of losing their Lord, he dwells on the work of the Holy Spirit as a comforter-I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth: I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you. Indeed, all his purifying and sanctifying influences are calculated to produce this effect; the fruit of the Spirit being love, joy, and peace, must console and gladden. What a cheering and delightful effect of the Gospel is here! Christian reader, all your joy and peace in believing, and all your abounding in hope, is through the power of the Holy Ghost. He applies the blood of Christ, as shed for sinners, with power to your conscience; he gives you the full assurance of hope; he causes you to rejoice in the Lord. When you are burdened by sin, when you are desponding under a sense of your guilt and weakness, when you are ready to sink under your own unprofitableness and deadness, then the Holy Spirit can and does revive and console by some sweet promise, and cheer the heart by bringing before us the love of our Heavenly Father, and the bowels of compassion in our gracious Redeemer. Like the gentle and tender dove, the Holy Spirit comes down and lights upon us, and soothes, and tranquillizes, and gladdens. He kindles a holy fire, and yet fills us with inexpressible meekness, kindness, and gentleness. O the blessed state of that mind in which the Holy Ghost ever reigns, and which he ever replenishes!
(3.) The work of the Spirit through hearing, is also
compared to AN IMPRESSION MADE BY A SEAL. whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise: (Eph. i, 13.) sealed unto the day of redemption. The end of sealing is to mark for one's own, by stamping an impression similar to the seal. Thus God's children are by his Spirit made like him in holiness, and receive the assurance that they belong to God, and shall partake of the heavenly inheritance. Eph. i, 14. The blessed Spirit, when truly received, produces all holy dispositions. He humbles the proud heart. He makes the word powerful like a hammer, to break in pieces that which is hard. Jer. xxiii, 29. The great and exceeding precious promises received by faith, fill the heart with love to God, and love to man, and we become partakers of the divine nature. The same Spirit gives a cleansing and sanctifying power to the word, (Eph. v, 26.) and fills the believing hearer with full assurance of hope and joy in the Holy Ghost. The statutes become the rejoicing of the heart, and our heritage for ever. These, and similar holy and happy graces and tempers, are the marks of this Divine seal. O that every reader may be able to discern them in his own soul!
Such being the gracious character of the work of the Spirit, how invaluable is HEARING THE TRUTH AS
ONE OF THE ORDINARY AND APPOINTED MEANS BY WHICH GOD CONVEYS THIS INESTIMABLE
GIFT! This is the way in which God bestows his grace. We receive the promise of the Spirit by the hearing of faith; it is that divinely-instituted plan, with which God's power concurs. It has been observed by Maclaurin, that there are two great principles of