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is cf God loves the light, becomes the light, r.dorns the
III. The spirit of the world is a timid spirit; the spirit which is of God is a bold and manly spirit. Actuated by selfish principles, and, pursuing his own interest, the man of the earth is afraid to offend. He accommodates himself to the manners that prevail, and courts the favour ol the world by the most insinuating of all kinds of flattery, by following its example. He is a mere creature of the times: a mirror to reflect every vice of the vicious, and every vanity of the vain. His sole desire is to please. If he speak truths, they are pleasing truths. He dares not risk the disapprobation of a fool, and would rather offend against the laws of Heaven than give offence to his neighbour. To sinners he appears as a sinner; to saints he appears as a saint. In the literal sense he becomes all things to all men, without aspiring to that faith which would set him above the world, or to that spirit which would enable him to assert the dignity of the rational character. He is timid, because he has reason to be so. A\ ickedness, condemned by its own vileness, is timorous, and lorccasieth grievous things. There is a dignity in vii lit- which keeps turn at a distance; he feels how awful goodness is; and, in the presence of a virtuous man, he ini inks into his own insignificance.
On the other hand, the righteous is as bold as a lion. "I fear my God, and I have no other tear," is the language of his heart. With God tor his protector, and with innocence for his shield, he walks through the world with an erect posture, and with a face that looks upwards. He dt seises a fool, though tie were possessed of all the gold ot Ophir, and scorns a vile man, though a minister of state. The voice of the world is to him as a soundmg brass, or tinkling cj mbal. The applauses or the ctusures ot the high o the low atlect him not. Like distant thundei they vibrate 01. his ear, but come not to bis tieart. To nun bis own mind is the whole world. There sits the judge ol his actions, and he appeals to no other tribunal upon me earth. He possesses the spirit which rests upon itaeii. He walks by his own light, he determines upon bu ow ' i.in.s. fcnpporteo by the consciousness ot innocence, anu acting with ail the torce ol providence on his»iut, he ha* nothing to fear; knows that he can no more be hurt by the rumours of the idle, impious, and hypocritical, than the heavens can be set on fire by the sparkles that arises into the air, and that die in the moment they ascend. Animated with this spirit, the feeble become strong in the Lord Apostles, who on former occasions had been weak and timid, whom the voice of a woman frightened into apostacy, who deserted their Master in his deepest distress, and hid themselves from the fury of the multiude;—these Apostles no sooner felt the impulse of this Spirit, than they appeared openly in the midst of Jerusalem, published the resurrection of Jesus to those priests and elders who had condemned him to death, and discovered a boldness and magnanimity, a spirit and intrepidity, which shook the councils of the Jewish nation, and made the kings of the earth to tremble on their thrones.
IV. The spirit of the world is an interested spirit; the spirit which is of God is a generous spirit. The man of the earth has no feeling but for himself. His own interest is his only object; he never loses sight of this; this is his all; every line of his conduct centres in this point. He has a design in every thing he does. As the prophet Malachi says, "He will not shut the doors for nought." He deliberates not whether an action will do good, but whether it will do good to him. That generosity of sentiment which expands the soul; that charming sensibility of heart which makes us glow for the good and weep for the woes of others; that Christian charity which comprehends in its wide circle all our brethren of mankind; that diffusive benevolence, reduced to a principle of action, which makes the human nature approach to the Divine, he considers as the dreams of a visionary head, as the fictions of a romantic mind that knows not the world.
But the spirit which is of God is as generous as the spirit of the world is sordid. One of the chief duties in the spiritual life is to deny itself. Christianity is founded upon the most astonishing instance ot generosity and love that was ever exhibited to the world; and they have no pretensions to the Christian character who feel not the truth of what their Master said, " that it is more blessed to give than to receive." Thia is not comprehended by worldly men, and the more worldly and wicked they are, the more it is incomprehensible. "Does Job serve God for nought?" said the lirst accuser of the just. Yes, thou accursed spirit! he serves God for nought. Thy volarics serve tliee for lucre and profit and filthy mammon; but the children of God serve him from reverence and love. Rewarded indeed they shall he in heaven, while thine are to be tormented, and by thyself, in hell; but they account that to be a sufficient reward which they have even here in their own hearts,—the consciousness and the applause* of generosity.
LtKE xi. IS.
—How muck more shall your heavenly Father give Ike Holy Spirit to ihem that ask him.
TN the beginning of this chapter, our Lord prescribed to .* his disciples a pattern of prayer. He discovered the Deity to them under the tender name of a Father; and he taught them to approach the throne of grace with the affection and the confidence of children. To encourage them still more to the practice of this duty, he assuret them of success upon their perseverance in devotion; and to impress his instructions in the strongest manner upon their minds, he delivers a parable to them, which he concludes with these words: "Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth ; and be that sceketh, findeth; and to him that knocked), it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone it* 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? As if he had said, " 1 have told you that God is your Father; that his car is ever open to jour cry, and that hie hand is ever stretched out in your behalf. You thai are fathers can judge of the paternal affection. If you see a child in distress, will your bowel* of compassion be shut against him? When he utters the voice of sorrow, will you turn a deaf ear to his complaint? Will you refuse to stretch out the hand to save him from the pit, and instead of relieving him, push him down into destruction? There is no father so barbarous, and no heart so cruel. If you, then, evil and corrupted as you. are; if, clothed as you are with human frailties and infirmities, you know how to give good gifts unto your children ; if the workings of nature, and the yearning of paternal affection, prompt you to perform good offices, how much more will the infinite benevolence of the Deity prompt him to bless all his offspring, and open his bountiful hand to the whole famly of heaven and earth! As the Most High God, who inhabiteth eternity, excels his meanest creature, the being of a day, so far doth the infinite benignity and everlasting love of your Father in heaven exceed the fondest affection of an earthly parent.
In further discoursing to you upon this subject, I shall explain what is meant by giving the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps these words may refer to the extraordinary effusion of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, when they received the gift of tongues, and .were endowed with the power of working miracles. Though these words may include this meaning, -yet they chiefly refer to the ordinary influence of the divine Spirit, which extends to every generation; which is the principle of the spiritual life within us, and continues with the faithful in all ages. Reason and revelation concur in as-, suritig us, that the great Creator hath never withdrawn himself from his works. Above us, around ns, and within us, God is seen, God is felt. The vast universe is one great temple, which he fills with his presence. As he is ever present in the world, he is ever employed. The hand, that at first stretched out the heavens, still supports the pillars of the firmament. The breath which kindled the vital heat of nature, still keeps the flame alive and glowing; God still acts through all his works, preserving and upholding the whole system of things, and carrying forward the designs of infinite wisdom and goodness. His providence is a continued exertion of creating power. As he is employed in the material, he acts also upon the moral world. The Father of spirits communicates himself to holy men, enlightens their understandings with divine knowledge; by secret ways, at once strengthens and ravishes the mind, and 611s them with a conscious sense of his own presence. Hence the wisest among the heathens, guided only by the light of nature, acknowledged the necessity of supernatural aids, and taught that nothing great or good could be performed without the influence of a divine Spirit But, as this doctrine hath been by some denied altogether, and by others involved in mysticism and absurdity, it will be proper to give you that just and rational account of it, which the Scripture authorizes.
There is hardly any one thing of which mankind may be made more sensible from their own experience, than the necessity of divine aids. For, alas! the balance in human nature, between reason and appetite, between the powers of the mind, and the inclinations arising from the body, is in a great degree lost. There may be, and there once was, a more harmonious temperament in the human frame. The rational part of our nature was better enlightened and more vigorous; the passions and appetites of the animal part moved under its controul. But that state of innocence is no more. Our nature is now degenerated; we find a law in the members warring against the law of the mind. This disorder of our frame is more and more increased by those false notions of happiness which we are apt to imbibe, and by the many bad examples among which we pass our early years, insomuch, that by the time that we are grown up to the full power and exercise of reason, we find ourselves brought under the dominion of sensual and wicked inclinations. How then shall we recover our liberty? How shall we regain the original rectitude of our nature, and obtain a victory over the vices which war against the soul? Is nature, such as it now is, sufficient for these things? I» reason alone an equal match for the passions and desires of the heart, broke loose from all their restraints, authorized by custom, and inflamed by example? Can we cease to do evil and learn to well, purely of ourselves, and be able to turn the stream of our affections from sensible and earthly things, to objects worthy of the choice and pursuit of a reasonable nature? Can we, in short, convert ourselves by our own strength, and turn from the power of Satan unto the living God? Arc we sufficient far these things?
We are not. "When we would do good, evil is present