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the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (u).” Let it not then be supposed that the business of religiou was completed, that eternal happiness was secured, the instant the understanding became convinced that Christ was “a teacher come from God (x),” “that Prophet that should come into the world (y).” Not only much remained to be done, but that which infinitely exceeded the naturál powers of men, weakened and corrupted as they were by the fall of Adam, and by long and inveterate habits of vice and wickedness. many as received him, to them
power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (m):” Bare belief therefore in Christ did not make them “ the sons of God," - this was to be the effect of “
power from on high (a)” given subsequent to belief. And accordingly we have just seen, that in the first attempt of the Apostles to propagate the religion of their Master, in the very first sermon they preached, after they were themselves inspired, the chief of them, the other eleven standing by his
(u) Eph. c. 4. V. 22 & 24. (x) John, c. 3. v. 2. (y) John, c. 6. v. 14. (2) John, c. 1, v. 12. (a) Luke, c. 24. V. 49.
side, expressly declared, that the promise of the Holy Ghost was to as many as the Lord our God shall call, (b);” that is, all who shall at any time embrace the Christian religion shall receive the aid of the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation. And this may be considered as an explanation of our Saviour's assurance to his disciples, that when he departed, the Father would give them another Comforter, who would abide with them for ever (c).” Nor was this all; Peter also upon the same occasion declared the appointed mode of communicating the Divine assistance, “ Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (d),” without which, your present belief cannot be improved into that true and lively faith which is essential to salvation. The rite of baptism was ordained by Christ himself; and its twofold office is here described by his Apostle, namely, that it washes away the guilt of former sins, and imparts the Holy Ghost to those who shall previously have repented and believed. It had been foretold by John the Baptist, that Christ should baptize with the Holy Ghost (e), meaning that the baptism instituted by Christ,
(b) Acts, c. 2. v. 39. (d) Acts, c. 2. v. 38.
(c) John, c. 14. v. 16.
and administered by his Apostles and their successors, should convey the supernatural assistance of the Spirit of God. This communication being made at baptism, at the time of admission into the Gospel covenant, every Christian must possess the invaluable blessing of preventing grace, which, without extinguishing the evil propensities of our nature, inspires holy desires, suggests good counsels, and excites to just works. Nor is this influence of the Spirit merely the advice of a friend, or the warning of a parent: it tells us what we ought to do, not with the erroneous judgment of man, but with the infallible truth of God. Nay more, it affords us actual support in the discharge of our duty, by strengthening our feeble nature, and by invigorating our virtuous resolutions. It is given us as a faithful guide, an indwelling monitor, a powerful assistant. If we make a right use of baptismal grace, it is encreased (f); and
6 Whatever some few persons, or some petty sects (as the Pelagians of old, the Socinians now) may have deemed, it hath been the doctrine constantly, and with very general consent delivered in the Catholic church, that to all persons by the holy mystery of baptism duly initiated to Christianity, or admitted into the communion of Christ's body, the grace of God's Holy Spirit certainly is bestowed, enabling them to perform the conditions of piety and virtue then undertaken by
by repeated additions, in consequence of right use, it carries forward the human soul froin one degree of religious proficiency to another, tillit qualifies us to be " heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (g).” “Unto you that hear, shall more be given (h);” “ whosoever hath, to him shall be given (i);" “ whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance (k).” But if we neglect, or do despite to the Spirit of grace, it will be withdrawn from us, “ He that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath (1)." The dictates of the Spirit, and the lusts of the flesh, are represented by St. Paul as “ contrary the one to the other (m);” if the former prevail, “ the fruit is,” those Christian graces and virtues enumerated by the Apostle, which will make us “ meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light (n);" if the latter, “ its works are,” that catalogue of crimes and vices which he declares will exclude
(8) Rom. c. 8. v. 17. (h) Mark, c. 4. V. 24.
(n) Col. c. I. v. 12. them ; enlightening their ininds, rectifying their wills, purifying their affections, directing and assisting them in their practice ; the which holy gift (if not abused, ill-treated, driven away, or quenched by their ill behaviour) will perpetually be continued, improved, and encreased to them.” Barrow, v. 3. p. 371. Ed. 1722.
those who do them, from the kingdom of God. This opposition of the flesh to the Spirit, and the precepts to “ walk in the Spirit (o); “ not to quench the Spirit (P);” “not to grieve the Spirit (9);” with others of a similar nature, plainly prove, that the influence of the Holy Spirit may be withstood, and that it rests with ourselves whether -we will obey its suggestions. Even St. Paul allowed the possibility of his having received the grace of God“ in vain (r),” and surely the same possibility must be admitted with respect to all other Christians.
66 We must acknowledge,” says Dr. Jortin, “ that as the natural abilities with which God hath originally endowed men, are such as they can either use or neglect according to their choice and inclination; so the supernatural assistances afforded to men by the revelation of the Gospel and by the influence of the Spirit, are still in the nature of assistances, which may either be received or rejected (s).” “ The whole analogy of nature shews, that we are not to expect any benefits, without making use of the appointed means for obtaining or enjoying them (t).” “ The terms of Scripture represent the Spirit of God, as an assisting, not forcing power, as not suspending
(0) Gal. c. 5. v. 16. (P) 1 Thess. c. 5. v. 19. (9) Eph. c. 4.v.30.(r) 1 Cor. c. 9. v. 27.c. 15.v. 10.