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The efficacy of the Spirit is to be judged of by its fruits. Its immediate effects are upon the disposition. A visible outward conduct will ensue; but the true seat of grace and of spiritual energy is in the heart and inward disposition. Whenever, therefore, we find religious carelessness succeeded within us by religious seriousness ; conscience, which was silent or unheard, now powerfully speaking and obeyed; sensuality and selfishness, the two grand enemies of salvation, the two great powers of darkness, which rule the natural man, when we find even these giving way to the inward accusing voice of conscience; when we find the thoughts of the mind drawing or drawn more and more towards heavenly things ; the value and interest of these expectations plainer to our view, a great deal more frequent than heretofore in our meditations, and more fully discerned; the care and safety of our souls rising gradually above concerns and anxieties about worldly affairs i when we find the force of temptation and of evil propensities, not extinct, but retreating before a sense of duty: self-government maintained; the interruptions of it immediately perceived, bitterly deplored, and soon recovered; sin rejected and repelled ; and this not so much with increase of confidence in our strength, as of reliance upon the assisting grace of God; when we find ourselves touched with the love of our Maker, taking satisfaction in his worship and service; when we feel a growing taste and relish for religious subjects, and religious exercises : above all, when we begin to rejoice in the comfort of the Holy Ghost; in the prospect of reaching heaven ; in the powerful aids and helps which are given us in accomplishing this great end, and the strength, and firmness, and resolution, which, so helped and aided, we experience in our progress ; when we feel these things, then may we, without either enthusiasm or superstition, humbly believe, that the Spirit of God hath been at work within us. External virtues, good actions will follow, as occasions may
draw them forth : but it is within that we must look for the change, which the inspiration of God's Spirit produces.
With respect to positive external good actions, we have said that they must depend in some measure upon occasions, and abilities, and opportunities, and that they must wait for opportunities ; but, observe, it is not so with the breaking off of our sins, be they what they will. That work must wait for nothing. Until that be effected no change is made. No man, going on in a known sin, has any right to say, that the Spirit of God has done its office within him. Either it has not been given to him, or, being given, it has been resisted, despised, or, at least, neglected. Such a person has either yet to obtain it by prayer, or, when obtained, to avail himself duly of its assistance. Let him understand this to be his condition.
The next duty, or rather disposition, which flows from the doctrine of spiritual influence, is humility. There never was a truer saying, than that pride is the adversary of religion, lowliness and humility the tempers for it. Now religious humility consists in the habit of referring every thing to God. From one end of the New Tes
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tament to the other, God is set forth and magnified in his agency and his operations. In the greatest of all businesses, the business of salvation, He is operating, and we co-operating with him. own salvation with fear and trembling;" and why ? “ for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do, according to his good pleasure.” He is not superseding our endeavours (the very contrary is implied by commanding us to exert them), but still nothing is done without him. If we have moral strength, we are strong in the inward might of the Holy Ghost: consequently all boasting, all vanity, all self-sufficiency, all despising of others, on the score of moral and religious inferiority, are excluded. Without the
Without the grace of God, we might have been as the worst of them. There is, in the nature of things, one train of sentiment belonging to him, who has achieved a work by his own might, and power, and prowess ; and another to him who had been fain to beg for succour and assistance, and by that assistance alone has been carried through difficulties, which were too great for his own strength and
faculties. This last is the true sentiment
It is not for a man, whose life has been saved in a shipwreck by the compassionate help of others; it is not for a man, so saved, to boast of his own alertness and vigour ; though it be true, that, unless he had exerted what power and strength he was possessed of, he would not have been saved at all.
Lastly, this doctrine shuts the door against a most general, a most specious, and a most deceiving excuse for our sins ; which excuse is, that we have striven against them, but are overpowered by our evil nature, by that nature which the Scriptures themselves represent as evil ; in a word, that we have done what we could. Now until, by supplication and prayer, we have called for the promised assistance of God's spirit, and with an earnestness, devotion, perseverance, and importunity, proportioned to the magnitude of the concern; until we have rendered ourselves objects of that influence, and yielded ourselves to it, it is not true, “ that we have done all that we can.' We must not rely
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