Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

top is an insignificant exaltation, and the THE INFLUENCES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. circuit of a hundred fields too narrow for his

It is in the affections of the heart, and in the conduct ken! A lark to be shut in, where, literally, of the life, that the effects of the Spirit's influences he had not space to stretch his aching wings, display themselves in the loveliest forms, and in their and where no enlivening sunbeam, no gush highest glory. Antecedently to the operations of that of pleasant air, could reach him; where the mighty Agent upon the soul, the breast was the seat

of carnal, depraved, and malignant passions, which, at windings of a dirty lane bounded his pro- the slightest degree of irritation, were ever ready to spects, and the discordant din of annoying burst into a flame. The first fruit of the Spirit is sounds alone fell on his ear. Poor bird! love---love towards God. Like a mass of ice melting where in this world shall I find a suitable

before the warm beains of the sun, the heart--which

in the state of nature is frozen into enmity against comparison for thee?

God--touched by the softening influences of the Spirit, Perhaps in him, who, having once felt that dissolves into pure and genuine affection; the carnal he was originally created to inhabit a higher mind, laying aside its hatred and dislike of his chasphere, and that his true field of enjoyment racter, and its determined stubbornness of opposition lies far, far beyond the wretched vanities of delights in the contemplation of his perfections, glows

to his law, is converted into a spiritual mind, which earth, is yet so tied and bound with the with gratitude for his kindness, and enters with chain of his sins, that he cannot break away. alacrity into the whole plan of his government-a He has tried it in his own strength, and has

mind which derives the chief source of its enjoyment

from the experience of his favouring presence, and been cast down wounded. He looks at the

draws the motives of its obedience from the fountain children of God in the world, and sees that of redeeming love. It is also love to man. The same they have a sunbeam shed upon them which subordinating power which slew the enmity against never visits him: they can rise towards hea- God, and kindled in its stead the fame of ardent

affection towards him, has also expanded, into a free ven, and pour wide the songs of praise which

exercise of every benevolent and disinterested cmohis heavy heart refuses to utter. He feels tion, the heart, which, under every blast of unkindress, himself a captive-he longs to be free-he was ready to be contracted into selfishness, or hardened gazes upwards, and stands, as it were, pre- regard rather with feelings of jealousy than with

into insensibility. The mind that was ever prone to pared to start away ; but still he moves not

sincere delight the happiness and the superior ada step towards the accomplishment of his vantages of others--that deemed every instance of ill desire ; for his prison-door is fast, and open treatment a justifiable ground of hatred and of ill it he cannot by any skill or power of his

treatment in return, and every instance of ingratitude

a sufficient reason for withholding kindness has now own. He hates his dungeon ; he hates all

become generous in its principles, tender and amiable that surrounds him of sight and sound, so in its sympathies, and patient of injuries and peruncongenial to the new nature that he begins secutions. Not unconcerned for the temporal welfare to feel. His soul is prepared for liberty, but

of mankind, and not backward to contribute, to the it is yet heavy within him; and his secret

utmost extent of its means, towards the promotion

of their present happiness-its chief anxiety it will ery is,-“I am so fast in prison, I cannot consider as justly due to their eternal interests. get loose."

l'iewing them as creatures made for immortality, its Happy mourner ! escape is nigh. No fel- most earnest and persevering efforts will be devoted low of thine, no created being, is permitted

to the still more important purposes of securing (so

far as its endeavours may succeed) their well-being in to loose the bonds that enchain

thee; but the a world to come. Necessarily associated with this pitifulness of His great mercy, who has pur- exercise of universal love, will be the other virtues, chased thee at the price of his own blood, graces, and endowments of the Christian character and whose property, therefore, thou art, will

all blending into a soft and harmonious combination,

and all flowing forth as so many streams from that surely do so. It is He, who has directed

spring of living waters which the Divine Spirit has thine upturned gaze to those regions after opened in the heart. There joy, mingled with grawhich thou pantest; and He, ere long, will titude and elevated by hope, arising in part from the stretch the liberating hand, and withdraw the consideration of miseries escaped, and in part from

the anticipation of felicities to be enjoyed-from a mysterious bolt, and make thee free indeed.

sense of the privileges now possessed, and of the Then, up and away to the loftiest heights of blessedness still in reserve--triumphis as in its natural unfettered contemplation, where the eye of element. There peace, meek, gentle, and serene, carnal reason cannot pursue thee, and bid

resulting from the subjugation of the appetites and the concave echo to thy song.

And then

passions, from the banishment of vain and irregular

desires, from a soothing persuasion of being in a state again, like the descending lark, shut close

of reconciliation with God through the death and thy pinions to thy breast in shrinking self- righteousness of his Son, diffuses a calm and delightful abasement, and fall, low as the dust

of the composure through all the powers of the soul. There

forbearance under every species of provocation, reearth, to wonder at the height thou hast at

signation to the Divine will under the most trying tained. Nestle among kindred sods of the

dispensations of Providence, and amidst the most field, until the Sun of Righteousness, casting afflicting scenes of human life, will check the first another of his glowing beams upon thy soul, risings of anger, and silence the voice of complaint. shall once more call thee heavenward, to rise, There faith, in all the variety of its operations, will

act with energy and vigour, reposing an unhesitating and rejoice, and make melody, in an atmo- trust in all the declarations of Jehovah - confiding sphere all thine own.

with unshaken reliance in the meritorious life and

atoning death of the Redeemer as the sole and all- His own virtues are to be his saviours; and sufficient ground of its hope of salvation---looking the only object he has in view, the only idea forward with a realising eye to the glories of a future world amid the clouds and darkness of present suffer

he has of salvation, is, an escape from the ings, and directing as a primary power the whole torments of hell, after having enjoyed as much movements of the conduct. There the fame of de- of the world and sin as he could consistently votion burns, prayer delights to make known its re

with salvation. quest, praise to offer up its incense of thanksgiving, holy contemplation to unfold its pinions, and to soar

This is the picture of the natural man geneamidst scenes yet remote. There, also, the duties of rally, however it may vary as to some parti-, temperance and self-denial, the rigid restraint within culars in different characters, some turning their due and appropriate bounds of the several faculties and affections of the soul, will meet with the

to the right hand, and some to the left ; some requisite share of attention. There, in short, goodness

going more astray, and others less ; but (as in all its constituent principles, whether it regards the Scripture saith) all turning aside, every God or man, whether it relates to the understanding, one to his own way. It is from this state, the heart, or the life, to the habits of the mind, or the

therefore, that man must be delivered, in regulation of the conduct, proves its existence, vindicates its character, and evinces its celestial origin.*

order either to his happiness here, or to his salvation hereafter. And this deliverance is

very aptly compared by the Holy Spirit to THE WEANED CHILD:

the process of weaning a child from the moA Sermon,

ther's breast, in order that it may learn to

relish that food which is appointed for its By the Rev. WILLIAM HANCOCK, M.A. nourishment in maturer years. Minister of St. Paul's Chapel, Kilburn.

Take the image, therefore, of a babe at the Psalm cxxxi. 2, 3.

mother's breast, as representing the soul try

ing to comfort and satisfy itself with the world " Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a

and the things of the world. Now, we all weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from

know, that when the proper period arrives, henceforth and for ever."

the child must be weaned. It is a regular The soul of man was created in the image of

thing, an indispensable measure, a measure God, and was created for the knowledge

, irrevocably fixed. The necessary steps, thereservice, and enjoyment of God. Hence it fore, are taken, and a very trying time it is was endowed with immortality, with noble

poor

babe. He finds himself suddenly and exalted faculties, and especially with and most unaccountably cut off from that vast desires, because the object of those de

which constituted not only his nourishment sires was the infinite God. But in conse

but his consolation. He is banished from quence of that deplorable and mysterious his mother's bosom. He sees her turned from event, the fall, man's soul is so changed and

a tender parent almost into an unkind enemy. ruined as to be entirely turned away from its He cries, he moans, he pines ; and his poor right object. Its faculties are very much

little heart is filled with anguish to the very weakened; but its desires remain as vast as

extent of its capacity. But is the mother ever. Through the darkness, therefore, that the less tender Is her conduct at all dicand seeks enjoyment and satisfaction in things dom and love to take those steps which are has fallen upon it, it turns aside from God, tated by caprice in this matter ? We know it

is not. She is directed by her maternal wisnot only empty, but poisonous and destructive. absolutely

necessary; and she is immovably ture, fallen man commits two evils : he forsakes the all-sufficient God, “ the fountain

cries and tears of her beloved infant; beof living waters, and hews out to himself and therefore she perseveres, till the end is

cause she knows that it is for the child's good, cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. He calls evil good, and good evil; gained ; and the child, although at first so puts darkness for light, and light for darkterribly distressed, and rebelling and strug, ness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." gling against his hard lot, to the utmost of The world, and the things of the world, yea,

his

puny powers of resistance, abates by deeven the pleasures of sin, are the sources

grees his violent anguish; finds it vain to from whence he expects happiness, and self

resist, seeing his mother is inflexible ; is comis the idol of his worship. Self-will is his pelled to submit; and so ceases to pine after only law, and self-gratification his being's end

what he cannot recover, and accommodates and aim. Yea, and even in his notions of himself to the new discipline and new diet religion, if he admits any, he looks not be- which a superior power has appointed. Inyond selr either as the means or the end. stead of milk, he now acquires a relish for

strong meat; and in the strength of that meat From the Influences of the Holy Spirit considered with special reference to the circumstances of the present times. By

he grows up from infancy to youth, and from the Rev. J. Davies.

youth to manhood.

to the

See here, then, O man!' the spiritual dis- son, or in the persons of those dear to thee cipline to whieh thou must be subject, and as thine own self? Or is he stripping thee to which thou must yield, if thou art indeed of thy property, and from competence and a child of God and an heir of salvation. | independence reducing thee to dependence Thou must be weaned from sin, from the and penury? Or has he been leaving thee world, from the creature, from self-in order awhile to thyself, and suffering thee to comthat thou mayest be brought to trust in the mit some folly or sin, the bitter fruits whereLord, and in him only. Thy haughty heart of thou wilt probably have to eat to the end must be humbled, and the loftiness of thy of thy days ? Is he marring all the fair delooks must be brought down, in order that signs which thou hadst formed for thine own the Lord alone may be exalted.

ease and comfort, and plunging thee again Yes, it is to the children of God that this into cares, and anxieties, and difficulties, subjèct especially applies—even to them who from which thou hadst fondly thought thyhave an interest in the promised blessings of self clean escaped ? Or, while all appears fair the covenant of grace; among which bless- and prosperous to the outward eye, is he ings, parental discipline and correction hold a secretly pouring into thy full cup some drop large and conspicuous place; as it is written : of such extreme bitterness as spoils the whole "I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save draught-that draught which otherwise would thee; but I will correct thee in measure,

and

be so very sweet? Or is he laying his hand will not leave thee altogether unpunished. upon thy soul, allowing the enemy to prevail, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten;" with clouds of infernal gloom cast over all and so in other passages too numerous for thy comforts, and with such views of thine quoting.

own vileness and sinfulness as at times are The children of God, although born again well nigh driving thee to despair ? In whichof the Spirit, and made partakers of a divine ever of these ways he may be visiting thee ; nature, have still within them a large rem- or even if he were heaping all these trials on nant of original corruption ; and this infec- thy head at once-endeavour, O child of God, tion of nature makes them cleave too close to to acknowledge and kiss the parental hand. earth and self. Although professing to have Pray for grace that thou mayest understand their best treasures above, they are still too the process that is going on. “ Consider in much tempted to seek for minor treasures thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, here below; and although heaven is their so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.” Thy home, they would fain make up a nest for a heavenly Father is weaning thee-- weaning time on earth ; and although desiring gene thee from earth and self, in order that thou pally to be conformed to God's will, they still mayest be brought closer to him, to know have a lurking will of their own, and are very him more, serve him better, and enjoy him fond of planning, carving, and contriving ac- better. This, then, is the purport of the trial. cording to their own notions ; and although | Acquiesce in it, О child of God ! it is mad pretty well convinced of their own folly and to rebel against an Almighty hand; it is vain depravity, they are still very far from know- to wish and wish things were otherwise; it is ing the extent of it; and, consequently, are vain to quarrel with second causes—“it is not yet humbled to the degree that is needful the Lord: let him do what seemeth him in order to qualify them for a place among good.” The process of weaning is painful the

company of the redeemed in glory, and and distressing ; but it is indispensably nefor rightly estimating the exceeding precious-cessary. It must be gone through ; and the bers of Christ.

Lord will not slacken, nor turn his hand, nor To the tried and afflicted child of God, alter his purpose, to suit thy foolish fancy : then, would I desire to speak as one that “He is in one mind, and who can turn him ?" has seen affliction: and O for “the tongue of He intends far better blessings for thee than the learned, that I might know how to speak any that he is taking away or withholding : a word in season to him that is weary!" yea, far better and richer than any thou

What is the dispensation, my brother, or couldest have wished for or thought of. my sister, through which the Lord is leading Learn, then, thy duty and thy wisdom from thee? Is he taking from thee thy best-be- the words and example of the Psalmist, loved objects, stroke after stroke? Is he dis- “Surely I have behaved and quieted my appointing all the hopes which thou hadst soul, like a child that is weaned of its mother : formed concerning this or that fallen crea- my soul is even as a weaned child.” O the ture; so that where thou didst expect kind- blessedness of him who can really and truly ness, thou meetest with unkindness, and those say this of himself! and O how blessed will to whom thou hast looked for comfort have be the result when completed ? when idols proved thy sorest plagues? Or is he visiting are utterly abolished ! when creatures are no thee with pain and sickness in thine own per- longer trusted in, or looked to, as sources of happiness! when self is thoroughly crucified, | very existence, that, as might naturally have been exself-will thoroughly swallowed up in God's pected, they became bankrupts or insolvents. Eight will! every mortal interest entirely given up, of them died under the age of forty, the victims of and all expectations of earthly bliss totally intemperance - without a single hope beyond the and cheerfully renounced, and CHRIST be

grave of finding pardon from an offended God. Three come ALL IN ALL-Christ, the source of hap- others are still living in the most abject poverty ; two piness--Christ, the supreme disposer of every

of these had formerly moved in very respectable cirthing belonging to us—his glory the only cumstances of life ; but now they are in the most deobject desired to live for, and his service the graded state of poverty and disgrace. One man, the

last of the twelve, and the worst of all, remains to be best enjoyment! What is this but heaven

accounted for. He was a sort of ringleader — the life itself? What is this but the very mind that was in Christ Jesus? And O how beautifully in the wine and spirit trade, his business was to take

of the company, as it is termed - and, being engaged it was exemplified in him! He pleased not the head of the table at convivial parties, and to sit up himself. He came down from heaven, not whole nights, drinking to excess himself, and inducing to do his own will, but the will of Him that others to do the same. He was a confirmed infidel, sent him. His meat was to do it, and to and a blasphemer. He had imbibed the principles of finish his work. “ O, my Father, if this cup Tom Paine. He derided every thing that referred to may not pass from me except I drink it, thy religion ; and his moral conduct, as a natural consewill be done!"

quence, was depraved in the extreme. And yet he Pray, then, O disciple of Jesus, that this was, at the same time, ready to perform acts of kindsame mind may be in thee, as was also in thy ness; he was generally regarded as good-natured--what Divine Master ; for he has given us an ex

the world would probably esteem a jolly and merry ample, that we should follow his steps; and

fellow--the enemy of nobody but himself. The world, he has said, “ If any man will be my dis

it is to be feared, abounds with such characters; and ciple, let him deny himself, and take up his

none are more dangerous; for they too often gain an cross, and follow me:" and he, who has en

influence over the young and inexperienced. Their

natural kindness tends to increase this influence. joined this, is able to work it in us by his Spirit, which he gives freely to all who ask it.

They are, in fact, the moral pests of the neighbourMy grace is sufficient for thee; for my

hood in which they dwell ; and to the unhappy influ

ence gained over his mind by persons of this descripstrength is made perfect in weakness." And now let us hear the conclusion of the

tion, many a wretched and ruined profligate may trace

his rapid progress along the downward path of vice. whole matter, in the concluding words of the

This man quitted the town, and went to reside at a Psalm : " Let Israel hope in the Lord from

distance, where, for a season, he relinquished luis dehenceforth and for ever ;" i. e. trust him, praved habits. He married, and, for a time, all went even when thou canst not trace him ; remem

on prosperously; but instead of being thankful to God bering his gracious words, “ What I do, thou for his present deliverance, and praying and watching knowest not now; but thou shalt know here against his besetting sin, he gave way to his former after." I know the thoughts that I think propensity, and plunged his family and friends into towards thee: thoughts of peace, and not of the deepest distress. One dark night, being in the evil, to give thee an expected end.” Say, neighbourhood of Dudley, he had been drinking to then, “My soul, wait thou only on the Lord, excess, and in a state of intoxication he wandered out for my expectation is from him." With him

With him of the house, and staggered amongst the coal-pits, is no disappointment. “ Humble thyself which are in many places left open and exposed. under the mighty hand of God, that he may These he passed in safety; but the road he took went exalt thee in due time--casting all thy care

over a canal: he missed the bridge, and rolled over upon him, for he careth for thee. Delight the bank to the edge of the water. God, who was thyself also in the Lord, and he will give rich in mercy, spared him in this the apparently last thee the desire of thine heart." He will

hour of his mortal existence; one turn more, and he cause all things to work together for good would have been plunged into the water, and liis disto thy soul; and if but the soul be saved, no

embodied spirit been ushered into the presence of matter what else is lost.

the Judge of all. The arm of mercy, however, interposed : his senses returned for a moment; he saw the water beneath him; he crawled back again into

the road ; there he was picked up, and lodged in a THE DRUNKARD.

public-house for the night. "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." This miraculous escape, it might have been thought

Romans, v. 20.

would have made a deep and lasting impression upon In the town of there resided twelve young men, his mind; but, no -- it was viewed simply as a lucky who were accustomed, early in life, to meet together escape; and he continued to pursue his career of sin for the indulgence of their appetites, by drinking and as ardently as before. After an indulgence in drinkother excesses. In the course of time, some of them ing for some days, having come to his senses, he began engaged in business ; but their evil habits of intem- to reason with himself upon his guilt and folly. His perance were so entwined, so interwoven with their , abuse of the many unmerited blessings which God had

bestowed upon him, and his ingratitude for his deli- • Hitherto thou hast come, but no further."" A phyFerance from the jaws of death, affected his mind; but sician was consulted as to the probability or possihe only gave utterance to the language of despondbility of medicine being rendered effectual to stop the ency—"Oh, it's no use for me to repent; my sins are disposition to intemperance. The poor man would too great to be forgiven.” He had no sooner uttered have suffered the amputation of all his limbs, could these words, however, than a voice seemed to say, so severe a method have freed him from his deadly most audibly, and with strong emphasis, “ If thou wilt babit, which, like a vulture, had fastened upon his forsake thy sins, thou shalt be forgiven." He started very vitals. The physician boldly declared, that if he at what he believed to be a real sound; but seeing no would strictly adhere to his prescription, not only the one, he exclaimed-.“ Surely I am going mad; I have practice, but the very inclination for strong drink been drinking till I am going mad; but that I heard would subside in a few months. At this declaration that voice, no man shall ever dissuade me.” Amazed of the physician, the countenance of the poor man was and paralysed, not knowing what to think, he was visibly affected ; and, grasping his adviser by the arm, relieved by a flood of tears; and then cried out, “ This he exclaimed, “ 0, sir, be careful how you open that is the voice of mercy once more calling me to repent

door of hope ; for if it should be closed upon me, I am ance.” He fell on his knees, and exclaimed, “God lost for ever!" The physician pledged his credit, that be merciful to me a sinner!”

if his prescription were punctually followed, the hapThe wretched man now became broken-hearted. piest results would follow also. The remedy was a The malignity of sin now appeared before him in its preparation of steel; and eagerly was the antidote to true colours. That sin which had so long beset, misery swallowed, while earnest prayer was offered to nay, conquered him, and reduced him lower than the the Almighty for his blessing on the means employed. beasts that perish, must in turn be conquered, or he He commenced taking this medicine in the first week felt that his soul would be lost for ever. The alterna- of March 1816, and continued till the latter end of tive was tremendous. He began to search the Bible ; | September following; and to the honour and glory of that book which had so often formed the subject of his the Lord God Almighty, who sent his angel to whisprofane raillery. Here he saw that a way of escape per in the poor man's car, " I will help thee;" for was opened for guilty man; that a plan of mercy was the glory of God be it spoken, that from the latter end accomplished, whereby a holy and just God might re- of September 1816, to the present hour, not so much tain his justice unimpaired, and yet be the justifier of as a spoonful of spirituous liquor, or wine of any dethe sinner that believeth in Jesus. He beheld the scription, has ever passed the surface of that oncerich display of grace and compassion which shine in

wretched man's tongue. every page of the word of life ; and he read with feel

The life once dedicated to the indulgence of deings of transport that blessed promise, “the blood of praved appetites, is now spent in seeking to further Christ cleanseth from all sin.” He refrained from his the glory of God, and the temporal and eternal welfare intemperance ; he commenced family prayer. For a

The individual has written a tract, of which season all went on well ; hope of ultimate victory re- upwards of one hundred thousand copies have been vived ; but the enemy, though scared, was not van

sold, the design of which is to call sinners to repentquished. The adversary was not to be overcome by ance; and while he adores that unmerited grace which one prosperous attack: he again prevailed ; and the pitied him in his low and lost estate, he seeks to warn Fretched individual once more became the prey of this

his fellow-sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and, foul fiend.

in this, the day of grace and merciful visitation, to turn And now his feelings were dreadful in the extreme. to that God who will have mercy upon them, and, His sin rose up before him more hideous than ever. notwithstanding their manifold transgressions, will, He regarded himself as beyond the reach of mercy;

through the merits of the Lord Jesus, "abundantly zs doomed to everlasting woe; as a wretch to whom pardon." the Almighty could not slew compassion ; and in a The above most affecting narrative is calculated to moment of agony, when about to shave himself, he convey much most important instruction. It speaks in meditated the act of self-destruction--that very act language of solemn warning ; it depicts in the strongest by which the sensualist and the drunkard have often colours the agonies of a wounded spirit; it testifies rushed into the presence of God. Again the mercy

the truth of the declaration, that the way of transgresof God interposed, and the razor fell from his hand. sors is hard : but it holds forth most gracious encouStill the enemy pursued him, and too often gained the ragement to all who will betake themselves to God in victory. He gave way at different times to intemper- the hour of calamity, and cast their care upon himance; his constitution was undermined; his health " For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord was rapidly giving way; he was reduced to a state of shall be saved.” It will be said, perhaps, that the great weakness, and death appeared to be very near. medicine prescribed by the physician produced the Not a moment was to be lost: he again cast himself at desired effect of restoring the tone of the invalid's the footstool of his offended Creator, and with the system, and would have done so without the blessing most intense agony cried out, “What profit is there of God being implored at all : but could any thing, in my blood, when I go down to the pit? shall the dust we may ask, short of the transforming grace of God, praise thee ? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, o have wrought the change in the man's disposition, or Lord, and have mercy upon me; Lord, be thou my enabled him to persevere in the course on which he helper.” That prayer was heard; and a voice from had set out? It appears, in fact, to be an instance of heaven seemed to reply, “ I will help thee; I have the mighty efficacy of prayer. The cry for deliverseen thy struggles; and I will now say to thine enemy, ance entered the ears of the Lord of Şabaoth, the

of man.

« ПредишнаНапред »