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en, where this sinful flesh will no more obstruct, nor worldly cares divert his spiritual exercises.
Thus the believer has in himself an earnest of the inheritance which is reserved for him, and an evidence of the divine original of the religion which he has received. The Apostle John says, "He who believeth on the Son, hath the witness in himself."
The Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession. possession. When we ac tually possess the inheritance, the earnest will no longer be needed. An earnest supposes the object to be unpossessed: This, enjoyed in its fulness, supersedes the earnest. "When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part will be done away. We who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body; for we are saved by hope! But hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait; and the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, and maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
1. Our subject teaches us, that all the operations of the divine Spirit on the minds of men, are of a holy nature and tendency.
The Spirit of promise, which works in believers, is called the holy and good Spirit, in distinction from the Spirit which works in the children of disobedience, and which is called an evil and unclean Spirit. If the Spirit is holy, we may conclude, that all his operations tend to holiness, and that the works which he produces are of a holy nature. By this mark we are to judge, whether we are led by the Spirit of God." They who are after the Spirit, mind the things of the Spirit. If we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lusts of the
flcsh."" They who are sensual have not the Spirit." The fruits of the Spirit and the works of the flesh, stand opposed to each other. We are never to ascribe to the divine Spirit any thing, but what is agreeable to the divine character. "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.""Do not err, my beloved brethren ; every good gift and every perfect gift, cometh down from above, from the Father of lights." Good we are to ascribe to him; but not evil, moral evil, This is contrary to his nature, and therefore is never the effect of his operation and influence, He is always the same Holy Being. "With him is no variableness, or shadow of turning."
If we would know by what Spirit we are guided, we must compare his operations with the precepts of the gospel. By the gospel we are called to meekness, humility, peaceableness, charity, sobriety, contentment, truth and righteousness: And these are the fruits of the Spirit. Now if we find, that the Spirit which is in us operates to passion, pride, contention, selfconfidence, uncharitableness and contempt of others, we may cer tainly conclude, that it is not the Spirit of God.
By this rule we are to judge of all impressions, excitations and impulses, which at any time we feel. If we find ourselves strongly impelled to a particular action, we are not at once to conclude, that the impulse is divine, and thence infer that the action is our duty. We are first to examine, whether the action itself is holy and virtuous; and we are to conclude the inward motion prompting us to it, to be from above, or from beneath, according as the conduct in question appears to agree, or disagree with the word of God. We are not to make our own feelings the standard of right and wrong, but to try our feelings by the sober sentiments of reason, and the sure dictates of divine revelation.
2. Our subject strongly encourages humble souls to apply to God for the needful influences of his grace.
The Spirit of God is called the holy Spirit of promise. It is one of those blessings, which God has promised to the church. It was promised under the Old Testament; but more fully under the gospel. This is a ministration of the Spirit. Where God sends his gospel, he gives the Spirit to accompany it; and "the Spirit is received in the hearing of faith."-"The Spirit is shed forth abundantly through Jesus Christ, that being justified by faith we may be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."" Ask and ye shall receive," says our Lord" for your heavenly Father will give the holy Spirit to them who ask him." On the foot of this promise, believers may come boldly to God's throne; and even sinners, under an awakening sense of their guilt and impotence, may come with humble hope to obtain his grace. This is the voice of divine wisdom," How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and ye scorners, delight in scorning? Turn ye at my reproof: Behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you: I will make known my words unto you." If God has already given them his Spirit to convince them of sin, they may thence collect hope, that he will grant his Spirit to carry their conviction into effect. "Whosoever hath," or improveth what he hath, "to him shall be given." Let none imagine, that the prayers, the reformations and endeavors of awakened sinners, are abomination to God; for he who hath wrought them to these things is God, who hath given them the convincing and awakening influences of his Spirit. And the work of his Spirit-the fruit of his operation To call it on the hearts of men, is not abomination. by this name is not to ascribe righteousness, but wickedness to our Maker.
3. It appears, that we can have no conclusive evidence of a title to heaven, without the experience of a holy temper.
The sealing of the Spirit is the work of sanctification in the soul. It is the impression of the divine image on the inward man. None therefore are sealed to the day of redemption, but those who are partakers of a divine nature. Whatever inward persuasions we may feel, that the heavenly inheritance is ours, if we have not within us a holy principle governing our hearts and lives, we are not meet to be partakers of the inheritance, and can shew no seal of our title to it. The seal of the Spirit is that holiness, which prepares for heaven; and this only is the sure evidence of our claim to it. This sealing is not an inward suggestion or revelation made to the mind, but it is a holy change wrought in the mind. If we are renewed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness, we have the first fruits of the Spirit, and may wait in hope for the day of redemption.
4. We see that Christians are under indispensable obligations to universal holiness.
Every sin is an injury and dishonor to God; but the sins of believers are, in a peculiar sense, a grief to the Spirit of God, who has sanctified and sealed them. The Apostle therefore improves this sealing as an argument against wickedness of every kind in the professors of the gospel. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouths, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind one to another."-" Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you; if any man defile this temple, him will God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye' are."
If God has given his Spirit to seal you, grieve not this Spirit. If ye run into the allowed practice of sin, or continue impenitent in any iniquity, into which ye have fallen, the Spirit is not then the earnest of your inheritance. You blot and obscure his seal on your
hearts. And the pollutions with which you have darkened and deformed it, must be washed off by the tears of repentance, before you can there read your title to the inheritance. You must keep your seal fair and bright by the constant exercise of faith, and practice of duty. You must preserve your hope by purifying your souls.-"Know ye not, brethren, that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Therefore glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits, which are God's."