Page images

Spirit ; yet no person can rea- not doubted, that divine truths sonably doubt, that secret divine are necessary to be known, becom munications to the hearts fore we shall seek after salvation, of these worshippers, who and that the word is a most pow. then embraced the gospel, were erful instrument of conversion likewise foretold ; nor can any and holiness ; but yet it is not one doubt, that in this sense, efficacious of itself. And it is likewise, the prophecy was ful- exceedingly evident, from the filed.

general tenor of the New TestaThe Verv Testament, as might ment, as well as from particular have been expected from the na- passages, that spiritual comture of the Christian dispensa- munications are necessary to action, is more clear and copious company the word, in order to on this subject. Christ express- its producing the fruits of righly asserts, that no person can en teousness. The children of ter the kingdom of heaven, un- God are said to be chosen through less he experience a divine sanctification of the Spirit, and bebirth by the agency of God's lief of the truth. In this place Spirit. Except a man be born of the sanctification of the Spirit is water and the Spirit, he cannot mentioned in distinction from Bre the kingdom of God. And the word; and therefore it is imthe general progress of a Chris possible, that both should mean tian, as well as particular parts of the same thing. a Christian carriage, is attributed in the eighth chapter of the to divine grace. Persevering epistle to the Romans, the matbelievers are said to be kept by ter is placed beyond all reasonathe power of God through faith to ble doubt. If any words be sulvation. Christians are said to capable of proving a doctrine, be led by the Spirit. It is by the that of divine operation upon the Spirit that they mortify the deeds human mind is there proved. of the body.

Being led by the Spirit, and In opposition to this, it has by having the Spirit dwelling in us, some been objected, that by the is there stated to be indispensaSpirit is meant nothing more, ble to our religious security. than the word, which was given Ye are not in the fiesh, but in the by the inspiration of the Spirit. Spirit ; if so be, that the Spirit of Persons are said to be born of God dwell in you. Now, if any the Spirit, they tell us, when the man have not the Spirit of Christ, word of God has such influence he is none of his. As many as upon them, as to lead them to a are led by the Spirit, they are the holy life, although no divine sons of God. If the Spirit of him communications are made to the that raised up Jesus from the mind. To this it is replied, that dead, divell in you; he, that raised Paul does indeed say to the up Christ from the dead, shall also Corinthians, I have begotten you quicken your morial bodies by his through the gospel; and the Spirit, that dwelleth in you. If ye church is said to be clransed and live after tbe flesh, ye shall die ; sanctified by the word : but neith- but if through the Sfiirit ye da er of these expressions excludes morrify the deeds of the body, ye the agency of the Spirit. It is shall live. Unless the necessity of divine influences be here as establish his good resolutions serted, these strong declarations by bringing to his mind som must have little or no import. striking passages of Scripture, For it is here said, that they, who or some alarming ideas of God's are Christ's, have the Spirit of presence, or of the world to Christ; and that they, who are the come. He may excite him to a sons of God, are led by this Spir- religious activity by representing it ; i. e. directed and influenced to him the danger of sloth in the in a holy life ; and that those, business of salvation ; or may who live in Christian obedience, urge him to sobriety by repredo it by aid from above. It is senting to him the great solemthrough the Spirit, that they nity of the work, in which he is mortify the deeds of the body. engaged.

Goodness, righteousness, and Though the indwelling of the truth, are said to be fruits of the Spirit, or to be led by the Spirit, Spirit, (Eph. v. 9.) and so are is peculiar to the children of love, joy, peace, long suffering, God; yet there is reason to begentleness, faith, meekness, and lieve that all men under the gostemperance, (Gal. v. 22, 23.) pel receive something of divine

We know not the way of the communications. The ancient Spirit ; nor ought we to attempt Jews did always resist the Holy minuteness in describing the Ghost ; but they could not have manner, in which its effects are resisted the Holy Ghost, unless produced. God uses various he had been sent to them. Of instruments, and frequently ac- sinners it may, in general, be complishes the same purpose by said, as of the ancient Jews, that different means. At one time they will not submit to the sughe leads the mind to serious con- gestions and influence of divine templation of some weighty and grace ; they oppose and grieve alarming subject, and presents the Spirit of God. Whereas the that subject to the view, in a humble and contrite soul yields clear and striking light. He fix- to the grace of Christ, becomes es the attention of sinners on obedient to divine emotions, is those considerations, which most led by the Spirit, and through the evidently demonstrate their dan-, Spirit mortifies the deeds of the ger, and the certain ruin, to body. which they are approaching. As God has a perfect knowl. He directs the humble soul, the edge of all means, circumstanbroken and the contrite heart, to ces, events and combinations of those declarations of mercy, con- events ; it seems reasonable to tained in the covenant of grace ; suppose, what is in fact the case, and either communicates, or that he makes use of various withholds consolation, as his means in producing the fruits wisdom and goodness dictate. of holiness in the human heart.

As to directing the Christian's Sometimes loss of worldly sublife, God may, by an impercept stance, severe disappointments, ible impulse, preserve him from imminent danger, alarming sickviolent and overbearing tempta- ness, the examples, or the pritions ; or, whea temptations are vate admonitions of good men, presented, may invigorate and consideration of their triumphant Vol. II. No. 9.

death, or of the despairing death possibly deny them. Yet far of the ungodly, and the reading the more common and ordinary of pious books, are used by God, way of the Spirit's working is as means of conviction, serious less perceptible. The wind blowinquiry, and holiness. But the eth where it listeth ; and ye hear public ministration of the word, the sound thereof, but cannot tell as it is the great instrument of whence it cometh, and whither it God's own appointment, must goeth. Our blessed Saviour has be viewed as that, by which he said, so is the kingdom of heaven, usually, though not invariably, as if a man should cast seed into operates. That knowledge in the ground, and should sleep, and deed of the blessed gospel of rise night and day, and the seed Christ, which we obtain by read- should spring and grow up, he ing, by private and public in- knoweth not how ; first the blade, struction, is, in a certain degree, then the ear, after that the full instrumental in every conver- corn in the ear. To the opinion sion, and in promoting the piety of Dr. Watts on the subject of of every good man ; for it is un- regeneration and divine influder the impression of evangelical ences we do most cordially actruths, that our minds are excit- cede. “In the primitive days ed, alarmed, renewed, and led on of Christianity," saith he, “and. to holy obedience.

in the age of miracles, the Holy The strength of religious. im- Ghost attended the preachers of pressions, and the outward evi- the gospel, with his extraordinadence of the change, produced ry gifts of healing, of tongues, of by them, are not less variousprophecy, as well as with the than the means, by which these graces of conviction, sanctificaimpressions are made.. Some tion, and comfort ; and the sudpersons are exceedingly distress- denness, and the glory of the ed, and violently agitated una change that was wrought on sinder the fearful apprehensions of ners, carried with it an illustrious divine wrath ; and there have and uncontested proof of the been some very extraordinary presence and power of God, and and sudden changes in the bis Spirit. Nor has some faint tempers, pursuits, and lives of resemblance of such glorious mens There have been instances grace been altogether wanting in of men, whose lives had been later ages. There have been some wholly given up to dissipation most remarkable instances of and sinful, pleasure, suddenly ar- great sinners, converted at once rested in their dangerous career, by the gospel of Christ, and the and exhibiting, ever after, the demonstration of the Spirit. fruits of holiness, in a well order. “But in his more usual and ed life. For, although there are ordinary communications of many marvellous accounts of grace, he works so gently upon this nature, which, upon close ex- our nature, and in so sweet and amination, come to nothing ; yet connatural a manner, as not to there are others, supported on distinguish his agency, in a sensuch clear and weighty evidence, sible manner, from the motions that it is difficult to see, how any of our own souls ; for he never candid and reasonable man can disturbs our rational powers, nor

may therefore casily be imagin- There is one more trait in his ed that, with a sensibility pecu- character which must not be Jiar to himself, he affixed that ex- overlooked, and that is his pressive motto to his book, Temperance. Such a mastery "Ah!-little think the gay

he obtained over himsell, that a Whon pleasure, power, and affiuence little food, and that chiefly of the surround,

vegetable kind, satisfied the deHow many pine in want, and dun

mands of nature; and with one geon-glooms;

night's rest out of three he could, Shut from the common air."


for a long course of time, pursue

his journies. No consideration Here I might paint, but I shall could prevail on him to partake rather leave it to you to imagine, of the luxuries of the most ele. the extatic joy which many gant table, or to allow himself groaning under oppression felt, more rest than was absolutely at starting into life and happiness, necessary. Nor yet was he in. through the interposition of this flueuced, in this kind of discitheir generous Patron; and the pline he observed, by cvnical gratitude too, which even those austerity. He found tbis mode who justly suffered imprison- of living most agreeable lo his ment felt, for the alleviation of constitution, and best qualified their miscries by his kind offices. him for those active exertions,

His disinterestedness also in which were the pleasure of his these exertions for the good of life. mankind, is deserving of our Such were the moral endowparticular notice. For besides ments of this extraordinary the consideration of the fatigues man ; such his Fortitude, bis he endured, the dangers to which Humanity, bis Disinterestedness, he exposed his person, and the and Temperance. I go on now to expenses of various kinds he in- speak of his religious character. curred, he well knew the reports. He was a firm believer of dihe made to the public would af- vine revelation. Nor was he ford disgust rather than enter- ashamed of those truths he heard tainment, and so be read and re- stated, explained, and enforced garded by few. He wrote there in this place. He had made up fore not for the amusement of his mind, as he said, upon his the curious, and could expect no religious sentiments, and was not applause from the unfeeling to be moved from his stedfastness Indeed his object was the infor- by novel opinions obtruded on mation of Legislators, of wliom the world. Nor did he content he sought, and from whom, to himself with a bare profession of his great satisfaction, he obtain- these divine truths. He entered, the redress of many evils he ed into the spirit of the gospel, complained of. “As nothing, felt its power, and tasted its says he, but a consciousness of sweetness. You know, my duty could have enabled me to go friends, with what seriousness through all the disagreeable scenes and devotion he attended, for a which lay in my way, so I had the long course of years, on the happiness of being placed out of worship of God among us. It the reach of other incitements." would be scarce decent for me to repeat the affectionate things he benefactions. He well rememsays, in a letter written me from a bered what the benevolent Jesus remote part of the world, re. was used to say when on earth, specting the satisfaction and “It is more blessed to give than pleasure he had felt in the relig- to receive.” Few, who sought ious exercises of this place. I his assistance, were refused, and shall however be excused, if I many obtained it without seeko just observe, that his hours of ing it. The advancement of the religious retirement, whether on interests of truth and religion, land or at sea, were employed in was an object in his view most · reviewing the notes he had taken important. To the erecting of of sermons delivered here. And many a place of worship did he 6 chese, adds he, are my songs in liberally contribute. And with the house of my pilgrimage. Oh, what cheerfulness he assisted in Sir, how many Sabbaths have I building this house you need ardently longed to spend in Wild, not be told... He accounted it Street! God in Christ is my an honour, he said, to join his Rock, the portion of my soul .!" name with yours."

His candour, as might natu; Good men of every denomi. rally be expected in a man of nation he affectionately loved. his exemplary piety, was great. And while with a manly firm, As he steadily adhered to his ness he asserted and maintained religious principles, so he abhol- his own religious sentiments, red bigotry. Having met with agreeably to the sense he felt of difficulties in his inquiries after their importance ; he was a good truth, he knew how to make al: deal hurt at every approach, in lowance for those who met with his apprehension, towards a litthe same.

tle, narrow, contracted spirit in His acts of charity to the poor matters of religion. Yet he was were numerous. For though a Dissenter from the established

ny of them could not be conceal- he ashamed to have it known ed. Providence blessed him to all the world that this was his with affluence; but all who profession. He well understood knew him, know that nothing the grounds of his dissent, nor was more opposite to his dispo- could he on any consideration sition than heaping up wealth. think it his duty to take the saHis treasure was laid up in hea- cramental test as a qualification, ven. His neighbourhood in either for enjoying any place of Bedfordshire will bear witness honour and emolument, or serv. to his generosity; and many a ing any burdensome office in the poor family there will, I doubt state. Called upon, however, to not, feel deeply for the loss of the latter, he did not avail bimso kind a friend. Nor were his self of this just excuse for decharities confined to the circle clining the service; but resoof his own mansion. “He went lutely undertook it, at the hazard about,” like his divine Master, of incurring enormous pains and " doing good.” Compassion ex. penalties, from which nothing cited, prudence guided, and but a bill of indemnity could seobligingness accompanied his cure him,

« PreviousContinue »