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tion to ourselves, or to divide it vv^ith the Saviour ; — is a
disposition that robs him, in the mind of the person, who
cherishes it, of his peculiar honour, and which cannot be
the production of that Spirit, of whom Jesus said, "He
shall glorify me." Examine yourselves, then, by this test,
whether you " have the Spirit of Christ." Has Christ
the glory in your hearts, which is his due ? — the undivid-
ed glory of your salvation ? — is the foundation of your
hope what the Spirit has testified concerning Christ in the
Scriptures ? — Surely you cannot be considered as " hav-
ing tlie Spirit of Christ," if you are not joining issue, if I
may so express myself, with this Spirit, in glorifying
Christ ; — if you are not resting your hopes on that found-
ation which the Spirit has revealed, in the " testimony of
Jesus. '^

The Holy Spirit maintains the state of mind of which
I have just made mention, hy the laWf and by the cross. —
Those views which he imparts of the purity, spirituality,
extent, and reasonableness, of God's law, produce a deep-
er and deeper conviction of sin : — while the cross, con-
templated with the eye of a spiritually enlightened under-
standing, at once concurs with the law in impressing on
the heart a growing sense of the " exceeding sinfulness "
of transgression, and, at the same time, by the amazing
grace displayed in the expiation made by the sacrifice of
the Son of God, disposes the believer, under the impulse
of humble and fervent gratitude, cheerfully to exclude all
boasting, and to say with the apostle, " God forbid that I
should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ ;
by whom the world is ciiicified unto me, and I unto the
world !"*

This is the ground-work of all the subsequent opera-
* Gal. vi. 14.


lions of tlie Spirit of Christ. He rears on tliis fuuudatiou
the whole superstructure of holiness.

We saw formerly that while, in regeneration, he is the
Agent, the truth as it is in Jesus is the means by which he
eftects his gracious purpose. I now add, that the truth is
also the means by which he maintains, cames forward, and
completes, the good work which he has thus begun.

" Verily, verily, I say unto you,'' said Jesus to the
Jews, " he that hearcth my word, and believeth on him
that sent me, hath everlasting life ; and shall not come in-
to condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."* —
From a state of condemnation to death, he passes into a
state of acceptance, pardon, and life : — and at the same
time that, by an act of free justification, he thus passes
from death unto life in a forensic sense, or in the eye of
law ; he passes also from a state of spiritual death, of
death in trespasses and sins, into a state of new and spir-
itual life. Then commences his sanctijication. Those
ncAv principles of character are then implanted, which af-
terwards, Avith progressive influence, develop themselves,
in all the various and excellent fruits of a holy life.

The great distinction between what he now becomes
and what he formerly was, does not consist in entire de-
liverance from the power of sin ; but in the opposition, or,
as the apostle terms it, the warfare, which now has place
in his soul, between the predominant influence of those
holy afl'ections and desires which belong to " the new
man,'" and the principles of that corrupt nature — " the old
man," — of which he continues to partake, and of which
he feels and laments the operation : '^ I delight in the law
of God, after the inward man. Hut I see another law in
my members, warring against the law of my mind, and
bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my
members."t — ^^^^^ it i^, I apprehend, which constitutes
• Jolin V. 3J. t Kom. vii. 22, 23.


the essential difference between the renewed and the unre-
newed man. This is the characteristic distinction. For
by " the law of his mind/^ of which the apostle speaks, he
evidently intends something entirely different from tlie
mere decisions of judgment, or dictates of conscience,
against evil, and in favour of good. Natural men — men
who are living " according to the course of this world,'' and
in whom there appear no symptoms indicative of spiritual
life — unless their consciences have become " seared as
with a hot iron," know abundantly well what these are.
They are no strangers in their bosoms. They are
their very tormentors. Mucli secret misery do they
Occasion to them, and many a desperate struggle. But
alas ! their struggles are not directed against the sin of
which conscience accuses them, but against the admoni-
tions of the inward accuser itself. These they strive, by
every means in their power, to suppress, and to silence ;
all tlie inclinations, all the likings, of their hearts, still
continuing on the side of sin. There can hardly be con-
ceived two things more essentially distinct, than the con-
strained approbation of the judgment, and " delight in the
law of God after the inward man." This delight is seated
in the affections of the heart. It implies that the predomi-
nant inclination and desire of the renewed soul is to good 5
while all that is contrary to it is the subject of regret and
lamentation, of vigilant opposition, and of prayer for de-
liverance : — " O wretched man that I am ! who shall de-
liver me from this body of death ? I thank God, through
Jesus Christ our Lord."*

By what influence, I now inquire, is the power and
vigour of this )Tc.


quite as well with the preceding part of the verse. The
ordinary view makes the end of the verse an inference
from the flesh lusting against the Spirit. This view, on
the contrary, makes it expressive of the consequence, or
rather the purpose, of the Spirifs lusting against the
flesh. So far, therefore, as respects the connexion with
the former part of the verse, the one of these views is as
natural and reasonable as the otlier. In the third place,
the latter view agrees better than the former with the
scope of the context. For any attentive reader may per-
ceive, that by the illative particle "/o?'," the apostle in-
tended to introduce, as before noticed, either a reason of
what he had, in the preceding verse, affi,rmed, or an en-
couragement to what he had there enjoined. The general
sentiment expressed, according to this translation is, tliat
it is by the influence of the Holy Spirit, that the desires of
the flesh, or of corrujit nature, are kept in restraint, and
prevented from being carried into full operation. His
influence is in opposition to corruption. The two are
" contrary the one to the other," as sin and holiness, as
hell and heaven. It is by the Spirit that the dominion of
the old nature is first broken : and it is jjy the Spirit
dwelling in us, that its evil principles are ever after kept
under control, and in proper subordination to those high-
er and better principles, which are the produce of his own

The continued influence of the Holy Spirit, in the
hearts of believers, is evidently implied in the representa-
tions formerly referred to, of his ^' abiding with them,^^
and " dwelling in them.^^ Indeed liis abiding energy in
their souls, is one of the Divine promises in the New
Covenant. A " new hearV^ and a " new Spirit are evi-
dently blessings not of transient, but of permanent dura-
tion. And, in conformity with this, the persons, who were
to be thus " renewed in the spirit of their mind," were


thenceforward to " walk in God's statutes, and to keep his
judsjuients, and do them," under the power and guidance
of that Spirit, which he promises to " put within them."*
Their subsequent life of holy obedience was to be support-
ed and regulated by his unceasing inlluence. The same
thing is also strongly implied in the words of God by Jer-
emiah : ^* I will give them one heart, and one way, that
they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of
their children after them ; and I will make an everlasting
covenant Avith them, that I will not turn away from them
to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts,
that they shall not depart from me.'*t

I proceed to observe, that in many parts of Scripture,
general progress in holiness is most explicitly ascribed to
Divine infiuence. ^' Such were some of you : but ye are
washed, but ye are justified, but ye are sanctijied, in the
name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God .-"J
— ^* But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for
you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath,
from the beginning, chosen you to salvation through sanc-
tijication of the Spirit, and belief of the truth :"^ — " Be-
ing confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a
good work in you, icill perform it until the day of Jesus
Christ r'W — "Wherefore, my beloved — work out your
own salvation with fear and trembling : for it is God that
icorketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good pleas-

Of general holiness^ I have formerly had occasion to

* Ezek, xxxvi. 2fi, 27. f Jer. ixxii. 39, 40

\ 1 Cor. vi. 11. In this verse, " washiii^^^ seems to be used as a
;^eueral term, inclusive both o( justijicatiun, wliich is washing from
the guilt of sin, and of smwiijicatiuii, which is wasliing from ita pol-
lutiov. Tlie former is " in the name of the Lord Jesus j" and the
latter " by the Spirit of our God."
§ 2 Thesp. ii. 13. |l Phil. i. o. •! Phil. ii. 12, 13.


remark, the two great inward principles are, the /ear and
the love of God : — and both these, wherever they exist in
the heart, are the product of Divine influence. As to the
fear of God, this is most explicitly affirmed, in a passage
quoted a little ago, where God says, " I will give them
one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever ; —
I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not de-
part from me."* With regard to the love of God, the
same thing is declared, with equal precision, in the Di-
vine promise to Israel : " The Lord thy God will cir-
cumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the
Lord thy God icith all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that
thou mayest live.'*f And as this love is the great princi-
ple and spring of all obedience to the Divine will, and
may, in this respect, be viewed as '^ the fulfilling of the
law ;" this " circumcision of the heart" may be consider-
ed as equivalent to the promise, " I will write my laws in
their inward parts, and put them in their hearts. "|

Another great principle of the new nature, — of the char-
acter of the renewed man, is love to the brethren ; — that
is, love to them, as the disciples of Christ, — for Christ's
sake ; — not as men merely, but as good 7nen ; — the ^^ ex-
cellent of the earth," — born again, — children of God, —
members of the household of faith. This love Jesus him-
self specially enjoined, as his new commandment, and as
a distinguishing badge, — a characteristic mark, of his gen-
uine disciples : " A ncAV commandment I give unto you,
that ye love one another ; as I have loved you, that ye
also love one another. By this shall all men know tliat
ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."^ —
This love the apostle Paul includes in his enumeration of
the " fruits of the Spirit ;"|| and to tlie brethren at Thes-
salonica he says : *< Ye yourselves are taught of God to

* Jer. xxxii. 39, 40. t Deut. xxx. 6.

\ Jer. xxxi. 3.3, § John xiii. SJ, .35. || Gal. v. 22.


love one another.-'^ That this tpachins; is not mere out-
ward instruction, or information of duty, but implies a
Divine influence upon the heart, is evident from tlie man-
ner in which lie elsewhere prays for its increase : ^* And
the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one
toward another, and toward all, even as we do toward
you : to the end he may stablish your liearts unblamcablc
in holiness before God, even our Father^ at the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. "f The apos-
tle John, in like manner, pronounces this love to be a prin-
ciple of the new nature, produced and clierished by the
same Divine energy, which effects the regeneration of the
sinner : " Beloved, let us love one another : for love is of
God ; and every one that lovcth is born of God, and know-
etli God/'J

This leads me to observe, more generally, that all the
holy tempers, dispositions, and affections, of the renewed
soul, in all their variety, towards God, and towards men,
as well as all the personal virtues, when practised from
right motives, are represented as the " fruit of the Spirit,"
or the product of Divine influence : " The fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, good-
ness, faith, (or fidelity,) meekness, temperance : against
such there is no law. And they that arc Christ's have
crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. "^ Eve-
ry thing, in short, tliat is different from •• the works of the
flesh,'' — difterent, tliat is, from the thoughts and desires,
the words and actions of corrupt nature, — we are, in the
Scriptures, taught to consider as resulting from the holy
agency of the S|)irit of God : — so tliat wherever we find
the prevalent exercise of gracious and heavenly affections,
"we may at once affirm, that they are neither indigenous,
nor self-produced, but buplanted by his sacred energ}^

* 1 Thess. iv. 9. t 1 TLess. iii. 12, 13.

I 1 John iv. r. § Gal. v. 23—24.


I must now further remark, keeping in view the gene-
ral observation with which I set out,— that all these effects,
which constitute, by their combination, the " beauty of ho-
liness," are produced, in their progressive advancement,
by means of the truth, or word of God. '' Being born
again," says the apostle Peter, " not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and
abideth forever :" — ^" He that is born of God," says John,
" doth not commit (or practise) sin : for his seed remain-
eth in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is born of
God."* The seed, in both these passages, is the same —
the incorruptible seed of the word of God. And the same
word which, according to the one passage, is the means,
or principle, of regeneration, continues, according to the
other, by its residence in the heart, the great preventive of
sin, and the principle of progressive sanctification. The
Gospel, or " testimony of Jesus," is especially intended ;
for " this is the word," adds the apostle Peter, " which
by the gospel is preached unto you." At the same time,
the word of God in general, in all its variety and pleni-
tude of instruction, contributes to the same blessed effect.
The Scriptures of the Old Testament are denominated by
an inspired apostle (and certainly we may extend the ap-
pellation to those of the New) — " the Holy Scrijptures.^^-\
Such they are in their nature. '' The words of Jehovah
are pure words ; as silver tried in a furnace of earth,
purified seven times. "J And the more diligently a Chris-
tian studies their contents, under the teaching of the Spir-
it of truth, the more completely will his soul become im-
bued with the purity which pervades them. Christian ho-
liness has its origin in the spiritual discernment of Divine
truth, the light of moral purity springing from the light of
knowledge ; and it is commensurate, in its progress, with

* 1 Pet. i. 33, compared with 1 Joha iii. 9. t 3 Tim. iii. 15.

\ Psalm xii. r>.


the progi'css of such knowledge. It is, in no instance, an
unaccountable effect, which cannot be traced to a cause,
or whicli continues to exist unconnected with the opera-
tion of means. It has its foundation, all alon,^'. in enlight-
ened principle. " Sanctify them,*' said Jesus, in his in-
tercessory prayer for his disciples, ^^ Sanctify them thvouzh
thy truth: thy word is truth."* It is the man '* whose
delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates in
his laic day and night /^ tliat shall be " like the tree plant-
ed by the rivers of water, which briugeth forth fruit in its
season, and whose leaf never fades.''!

Besides the word of God, the Spirit operates, in pro-
moting holiness, by means of the various ordinances of
Christian fellowship ; and also, in a special manner, by
means of prayer. The former, indeed, might be consid-
ered as deriving their efficacy from the w ord of God ; for
they are just various means, appointed by Divine wisdom
and goodness, of exhibiting, illustrating, and impressing,
the truths and promises of that word. And with regard
to the latter, it may be observed, that it is at once the ex-
pression of holy affections and desires, and an instituted
means, or instrument, of their increase. It brings down
from above the necessary supplies of spiritual influence ;
and is itself, at the same time, ])rompted, directed, and
animated by the Holy Spirit. He is accordingly denom-
inated, " the Spirit of grace and of supplication :"J — and
tlie apostle Paul says concerning him : " Likewise the
Spirit also helpeth our infirmities : for we know not what
we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit itself
raaketh intercession for us, with groanings whicli cannot
be uttered. And he who searcheth the licarts knoweth
what is the mind of the Spirit; because he maketh inter-
cession for the saints according to the will of God."§»

♦ John xvii. IT. t Psalm i. 2, 3. | Zecli. xii. in.

§ Rom. viii. 26, 27.


Another important part of the work of the Spirit con-
sists in 7wai?2/aittm^ the inward peace f and comfort, and
joy, of believers in Christ.

The Gospel means, as all of you are aware, the good
tidings. Now it is of the very nature of good tidings,
that when understood and believed, they inspire the heart
with joy. — Of "the joy of God's salvation'' the Holy
Spirit is the original author, by imparting those views of
the truth, as a revelation of free mercy to the guilty and
the lost, by which it is at first produced in the soul. In
the very same way does he continue to maintain it. The
same remarks are applicable to this joy, which were made
respecting Christian holiness. It is not a mere senseless
unaccountable lightness of heart. It is not a joy, for
which no reasonable cause can be assigned. It is a ra-
tional joy ; — imparted in a way perfectly consistent with
the nature of man as a reasonable being, whose affections
are moved and supported by views presented to his mind,
such as are fitted to excite and maintain them.

The Holy Spirit is called " the Comforter :^^ — and he
fulfils the function which this appellation implies, by
*' taking of the things of Christ, and showing them to the
mindJ'^* — It is by the Spirit that we are enabled to view
God as a Father in Christ, and to enjoy the pure and ex-
quisite delight, which the thought of this relation is fitted
to inspire : — " Ye have not received the Spirit of bond-
age, again to fear ; but ye have received the spirit of
adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father :"f — '^ Because
ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.^J — It is by the Spirit
that a sense of Divine love — even of the favour of God,
whieli is " better than life,'^ — is produced and maintained
in the soul : — " Hope makcth not ashamed ; because the

* Compare John xiv. 16, with verse 36, and with xv. 11.
t Rom. viii. 15. \ Gal. iv. 6.



love of God is shed abroad in our liearts, by the Holy
Ghost which is given unto us.* The churches are des-
cribed as " walking in the comfort of the Holy Ghost."-\
— The Thessalouians received the gospel, when preached
to them by Paul and his fellow-labourers, '• with Jo// of the
Holy GhostJ^'X The kingdom of heaven is characterized
as "not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and
joy in the Holy Ghost.^^^ — Paul prays for the Christians
at Rome, that " the God of hope might fill them with all
joy and peace in believing, that they might abound in hope
through the power of the Holy Ghost.'' \\ — And for the E-
phesians, ^^ that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of
Avhom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
might gi'ant unto them, according to the riches jof his glo-
ry, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit, in the in-
ner man; that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith ;
that, being rooted and grounded in love, they might be
able to comprehend, ^^ith all saints, what is the depth and
height, and breadth and length, and to know the love of
Christ, which passeth know ledge ; that they might be
filled with all the fulness of God.'^TT

This joy ought to be permanent. It is not only describ-
ed as the believer's privilege, but enjoined upon him as
his duty. Without it, he will give to men a false and dis-
couraging, instead of a just and inviting, view of the na-
ture of the gospel. '' Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the
Lord :" — Rejoice in the Lord alvvay ; and again I say,
rejoice :" — " Rejoice evermore.'*** Nothing is command-
ed for which there is not assigned a good and sufficient rea-
son. It is impossible for us to rejoice, unless on account
of something, brought before our minds, that is fitted to
give pleasure. Now the causes of spiritual joy are always

* Rom. V. 5. t Acts ix. ;}l. | l Thess. i. 6.

§ Rom. xiv. 17. II Rom. xv. 13. 1[ Epli. iii. 14 — 19.

*• Pliil. ii. 1. 1, 6. 1 Thess. v. l(i.


tlie same : and they are all summed up in the expression,
'^ Rejoice in the Lord." This is a source of joy, al-
ways fuUj and always pure. Unlike the sources of earthly
pleasure, which alternately dry up and overflow — this is a
perennial fountain ; — " a spring of water,'' — of ' living
water,' — "whose waters fail not." And while the reasons
of joy remain unchanged, being all centered in Him, who
is " the same yesterday, to-day, and forever ;" — the Holy
Spirit, whose influence is necessary to maintain this joy,
is freely and faithfully promised " to them that aslc him.^^
'^ And I say unto you," (they are the words of Jesus him-
self, " the faithful witness") — " I say unto you, Ask, and

Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 28 of 36)