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ingly, and the charity of every one of you towards each other abound. And say with the apostle, "I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus:"
OUR DUTY IN RELATION TO THE SPIRIT. (WHIT-SUNDAY.)
Quench not the Spirit.-1 Thess. v. 19.
THE works of nature, and the works of grace, spring from the same Author: and the former are designed to explain and exemplify the latter. We can scarcely perceive any thing in the whole, compass of creation, which will not easily supply us with an emblem or a monitor of some religious truth.
The Holy Ghost, whose ministry comes this day under our review, is held forth by various images. In our Lord's conversation with Nicodemus-by the operation of the wind: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." In his address to the woman of Samaria-by the refreshment of water: "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him,
and he would have given thee living water: for this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." In the words before us, the apostle derives the comparison from fire. Quench not the Spirit.
All the properties and effects of fire, are strictly applicable to the Spirit. Does fire penetrate and search? how piercing and painful are some of his discoveries and influences! Does fire destroy-He consumes our errors and our corruptions. Does fire refine?-He purifies and sanctifies. Does fire produce both light and heat?—He not only illuminates, but warms. Does fire conduce to our comfort?-He fills us with all joy and peace in believing.
It is hardly necessary to observe that the Holy Ghost is not spoken of personally, but in reference to his agency and operations. Now, these are twofold: first, extraordinary and miraculousthese are confined to the apostolic age. Secondly, common and saving; and these will continue to be experienced to the end of the world. And be it remembered that while these are no less real in their existence than in the former, they are far more glorious in their effects. Though they do not heal bodily diseases, they cure the disorders of the mind. Though they do not qualify us to discern spirits, they lead us to prove ourselves, and to examine whether we be in the faith. Though they do not furnish us with other tongues, they enable us to comply with the admonition: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
These influences of the Spirit are rendered necessary by our depravity and inability. Some of
the wiser heathens confessed the need of divine assistance, to enable a man to commence and continue a virtuous course. But what unenlightened reason imperfectly discerned, the book of God has fully established. There we find all real religion traced up to a divine agency. If there be a Christian grace to be exercised, it is called the fruit of the Spirit: if there be a Christian duty to be performed, it is to be done in the Holy Ghost. We are said to live in the Spirit, and to walk in the Spirit. And that the Spirit is still possessed for these all-important purposes, appears undeniable, if we appeal to the testimony of the scripture. Witness its decision: "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Witness its promises: "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.-If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Witness its commands: "Be filled with the Spirit. Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Quench not the Spirit." Let us examine this admonition.
Fire may be quenched many ways. The most direct way is, by casting water upon it.-And this I compare to actual, wilful sin. By this, Christians are sometimes seduced, and the consequences, with regard to religion, are mournful. An example is better than a description. Let us take David as an instance, and see the injurious effects of his fall. Read his penitential psalm.
Some have told us that sin cannot hurt a believer. I am sure it hurt David. His fall produced several fractures, and occasioned him the most acute pain and anguish. This is what he means, when he says, Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." He is filled with awful apprehensions of being a cast-away: "Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. He is deprived of the joy of the Lord, which was once his strength: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit." He was struck dumb, and could not speak of God, or to God, or for God, as he once did: "Open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise." Finally, he had made breaches and ravages in the church, by his fall: "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Žion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem." For, in this case, it may be truly said, that one sinner destroyeth much good. The sins of a professor cause the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme; the wicked to justify and confirm themselves in their iniquity; and they lead the world to suspect that religion is only the covering of hypocrisy. Nor do they only affect them that are without-they also prove a stumbling-block to the weak, and a distress to the strong; and discourage the heart, and weaken the hands of those who minister in holy things. Thus, they check the cause of God in general, as well as injure the welfare of the individual.
Let us, therefore, beware. Let us never imagine ourselves beyond the reach of temptation. We carry about us passions and appetites, which are not completely subdued. The sin that dwelleth in us renders us susceptible of danger from
external circumstances. Indeed, there is nothing with which we have to do, however harmless in itself, that may not prove an occasion of sin. "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." Let us watch and be sober. Let us watch and pray. Let us pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, and daily and hourly come to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time need."
Secondly. Fire may be quenched by spreading earth upon it. And observe to what we apply this. We do not here speak, as in the former article, of things, grossly, and unquestionably criminal; but we speak of minding earthly things: of the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, which choke the word, so that it becometh unfruitful." We speak of an excess of business, which not only employs, but "entangles a man in the affairs of this life." A man seldom, if ever feels this, in simply pursuing the path of duty.No-it results from false aims, and wrong dispositions. The man will be rich: he deems a superior style of life necessary; he must gain a rapid independence, in order to retire and live in a state of ease and idleness, which God never designed any man for. Hence, he not only labours, but toils; grasps; schemes; speculates. And what is the consequence? The powers of the soul are limited; and, when full-whatever fills themcan hold no more. And, as the water partakes of the quality of the soil over which it rolls, so our minds soon acquire a sameness with the objects of our affection, and pursuit. When the man immersed in secular concerns hears the word, "His heart is going after his covetousness;" he is still plan