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the operation of his authority, as their Lord and There is another class of expressions, which, Governor. I think it likely that our Saviour had the since they professedly refer to circumstances that state of things in view, when, in his final discourse are to take place in this new state, and not before, with his apostles, he tells them: “I go to prepare will, it is likely, be rendered quite intelligible by a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place our experience in that state; but must necessarily for you, I will come again and receive you unto convey their imperfect information until they be myself; that where I am, there ye may be also:" | so explained. Of this kind are many of the pasJohn xiv. 2, 3. And again, in the same discourse, sages of Scripture which we have already noticed, and referring to the same economy,
Father," as referring to the changes which will be wrought says he, “I will that they also, whom thou hast in our mortal nature; and the agency of our Lord given me, be with me where I am; that they may Jesus Christ, and the intervention of his power in behold my glory which thou hast given me?" for producing those changes, and the nearer similitude that this was spoken, not merely of the twelve, which our changed natures and the holies with who were then sitting with Jesus, and to whom which we shall then be clothed, will bear to his. his discourse was addressed, but of his disciples in We read, “that he shall change our vile body, future ages of the world, is fairly collected from that it may be like his glorious body.” A mo his words, (John xvii. 20.) “Neither pray I for mentous assurance, no doubt; yet, in its particuthese alone, but for them also which shall believe lar signification, waiting to be cleared up by our on me through their word." Since the prayer experience of the event. So likewise are some here stated was part of the discourse, it is reason- other particular expressions relating to the same able to infer that the discourse, in its object, ex- event; such as being" unclothed; clothed upon; tended as far as the prayer, which we have seen the dead in Christ rising first; meeting the Lord to include believers, as well of succeeding ages as in the air; they that are alive not preventing those of that then present.
that are asleep," and the like. These are all most Now concerning this future dispensation, sup- interesting intimations, yet to a certain degree ob posing it to consist, as here represented, of accepted scure. They answer the purpose of ministering spirits, participating of happiness in a state of sen- to our hopes, and comfort, and admonition, which sible society with one another, and with Jesus they do without conveying any clear ideas; and Christ himself at their head, one train of reflection this, and not the satisfaction of our curiosity, may naturally arises; namely, first, that it is highly be the grand purpose for the sake of which intimaprobable there should be many expressions of tions of these things were given at all. But then, Scripture which have relation to it; secondly, that in so far as they describe a change in the order of such expressions must, by their nature, appear to nature, of which change we are to be the objects, us, at present, under a considerable degree of ob- it seems to follow, that we shall be furnished with scurity, which we may be apt to call a defect; experience which will discover to us the full sense thirdly, that the credit due to such expressions of this language. The same remark may be remust depend upon their authority as portions of peated concerning the first and second death, the written word of God, and not upon the pro- which are expressly spoken of in the Revelations, bability, much less upon the clearness of what and as I think alluded to and supposed in other they contain; so that our comprehension of what passages of Scripture in which they are not they mean must stop at very general notions; and named. our belief in them rest in the deference to which The lesson, inculcated by the observation here they are entitled, as Scripture declarations. Of pointed out, is this, that, in the difficulties which this kind are many, if not all, of those expressions we meet with in interpreting Scripture, instead which speak so strongly of the value, and benefit, of being too uneasy under them, by reason of the and efficacy of the death of Christ, of its sacrifi- obscurity of certain passages, or the degree of cial, expiatory, and atoning nature. We may be darkness which hangs over certain subjects, we assured that these expressions mean something ought first to take to ourselves this safe and conreal, refer to something real, though it be some- soling rule, namely, to make up for the deficiency thing which is to take place in that future dispen- of our knowledge by the sincerity of our practice; sation of which we have been speaking. It is in other words, to act up to what we do know, or, reasonable to expect, that, when we come to ex- at least, earnestly strive so to do. So far as a man perience what that state is, the same experience holds fast to this rule, he has a strong ground of will open to us the distinct propriety of these ex- comfort un ler every degree of ignorance, or even pressions, their truth, and the substantial truth of error. And it is a rule applicable to the rich which they contain; and likewise show us, that and to the poor, to the educated and to the uneduhowever strong and exalted the terms are which cated, to every state and station of life, and to all we see made use of, they are not stronger nor the differences which arise from different opporhigher than the subject called for. But for the tunities of acquiring knowledge. Different oblipresent we must be, what I own it is difficult to gations may result from different means of obtainbe, content to take up with very general notions, ing information; but this rule comprises all difhumbly hoping, that a disposition to receive and ferences. acquiesce in what appears to us to be revealed, be The next reflection is, that in meeting with it more or be it less, will be regarded as the duty difficulties, nay, very great difficulties, we meet which belongs to our subsisting condition, and the with nothing strange, nothing but what in truth measure of information with which it is favoured; might reasonably have been expected beforehand. and will stand in the place of what, from our deep It was to be expected, that a revelation, which interest in the matter, we are sometimes tempted was to have its completion in another state of exto desire, but which, nevertheless, might be unfit istence, would contain many expressions which for us, a knowledge which not only was, but referred to that state; and which, on account of which we perceived to be, fully adequate to the such reference, would be made clear and perfectly subject.
intelligible only to those who had experience of
that state, and to us after we had attained to that, to him seemeth good,) we must have the several experience; whilst, however, in the mean time, motives which presented themselves to the mind they may convey to us enough of information, to of the donor before us. This, with respect to the admonish us in our conduct, to support our hope, Divine Being, is impossible. Therefore we allow, and to incite our endeavours. Therefore the that, either in this, or any other matter, to canvass meeting with difficulties, owing to this cause, the gifts of God is a presumption not fit to be inought not to surprise us, nor to trouble us over dulged. We are to receive our portion of them much. Seriousness, nay, even anxiety, touching with thankfulness. We are to be thankful, for every thing which concerns our salvation, no instance, for the share of health and strength thoughtful man can help; but it is possible we which is given us, without inquiring why others may be distressed by doubts and difficulties more are healthier and stronger than ourselves. This than there is any occasion to be distressed. is the right disposition of mind with respect to all
Lastly, under all our perplexities, under all the the benefactions of God Almighty towards us. misgivings of mind, to which even good men But unsearchable does not mean arbitrary. (such is the infirmity of human nature) are sub- Our necessary ignorance of the motives which ject, there is this important assurance to resort to, rest and dwell in the Divine mind in the bestowthat we have a protection over our heads, which ing of his grace, is no proof that it is not bestowed is constant and abiding; that God, blessed be his by the justest reason. And with regard to the name, is for evermore; that Jesus Christ our Lord case at present before us, riz, the gifts and graces is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; that, of the Spirit, the charge against it, of its being an like as a traveller by land or sea, go where he will, arbitrary system, or, in other words, independent always sees, when he looks up, the same sun; so of our own endeavours, is not founded in any docin our journey through a varied existence, whe- trine or declaration of Scripture. It is not arbitrary ther it be in our present state, or in our next state, in its origin, in its degree, or in its final success. or in the awful passage from one to the other; in First; It is not arbitrary in its origin; for you the world in which we live, or in the country read that it is given to prayer. If ye, being which we seek; in the hour of death, no less than evil, know how to give good gifts unto your chilin the midst of health, we are in the same uphold- dren, how much more shall your heavenly Father ing hands, under the same sufficient and unfailing give the Holy Spirit to them that ask it?" But support.
whether we will ask it or not, depends upon ourselves. It is proposed, you find, as a subject for our prayers; for prayer, not formal, cold, heart
less, transitory, but prayer from the soul, prayer SERMON XXIII.
earnest and persevering; for this last alone is
what the Scripture means by prayer. In this, OF SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE IN GENERAL. therefore, it cannot be said to be arbitrary, or in
dependent of our endeavours. On the contrary, IN THREE PARTS.—(PART 1.)
the Scripture exhorts us to a striving in prayer for
this best of all gifts. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and But, it will be asked, is not the very first touch
that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?-of true religion upon the soul, sometimes at least, 1 Cor. ii. 16.
itself the action of the Holy Spirit ? this, there
fore, must be prior to our praying for it. And so There are ways of considering the subject of it may be, and not yet be arbitrarily given. The spiritual influence, as well as a want of consider- religious state of the human soul is exceedingły ing it, which lay it open to difficulties and to various. Amongst others, there is a state in misconceptions. But if the being liable to misap- which there may be good latent dispositions, suitprehension and to misrepresentation be thought able faculties for religion, yet no religion. In such an objection to any doctrine, I know of no doc- a state, the spark alone is wanting. To such a trine which is not liable to the same; nor any state, the elementary principle of religion may be which has not, in fact, been loaded at various times communicated, though not prayed for. Nor can with great mistakes.
this be said to be arbitrary. The Spirit of God One difficulty which has struck the minds of is given where it is wanted; where, when given, some is, that the doctrine of an influencing Spirit, it would produce its effect; but that state of and of the importance of this influence to human heart and mind, upon which the effect was to be salvation, is an arbitrary system; making every produced, might still be the result of moral qualithing to depend, not upon ourselves, nor upon fication, improvement, and voluntary endeavour. any exertion of our own, but upon the gift of the It is not, I think, difficult to conceive such a case Spirit.
It is not for us, we allow, to canvass the gifts of Nevertheless it may be more ordinarily true, God; because we do not, and it seems impossible that the gift of the Spirit is holden out to the that we should, sufficiently understand the mo. struggling, the endeavouring, the approaching tive of the giver. In more ordinary cases, and in Christian. When the penitent prodigal was yet cases more level to our comprehension, we seem a great way off, his father saw him. This parato acknowledge the difference, between a debt and ble was delivered by our Lord expressly to typify 9 gift. A debt is bound, as it were, by known God's dealing with such sinners as are touched rules of justice: a gift depends upon the motive with a sense of their condition. And this is one of the giver, which often can be known only to circumstance in it to be particularly noticed. God himselt. To judge of the propriety either of sees the returning mind; sees every step and every granting or withholding that to which there is no advance towards him, “though we be yet a great claim (which is, in the strictest sense, a favour, way off;" yet at a great distance; though much which, as such, rests with the donor to bestow as I remains to be done, and to be attained, and to be
accomplished. And what he sees, he helps. His may be despised, may be lost. So that both in aid and influence are assisting to the willing its gift, in its degree, operation, and progress, and, Christian, truly and sincerely willing, though yet above all, in its final effect, it is connected with in a low and imperfect state of proficiency; nay, our own endeavours; it is not arbitrary. Throughthough in the outset, as it were, of his religious out the whole, it does not supersede, but co-opeprogress. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are rates with ourselves. of a contrite heart;" Psalm xxxiv. 18. But in But another objection is advanced, and from an all this there is nothing arbitrary.
opposite quarter. It is said, that if the influence Nor, secondly, is the operation of the Spirit of the Spirit depend, after all
, upon our endeaarbitrary in its degree. It has a rule, and its vours, the doctrine is nugatory; it comes to the rule is this: "Whosoever hath, to him shall be same thing, as if salvation was put upon ourselves given, and he shall have more abundance; and and our own endeavours alone, exclusive of every whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken further consideration, and without referring us to away even that which he hath.” Now, of this any influence or assistance whatever. I answer, rule, which is expressed under some, but under no that this is by no means true; that it is not the great difference of phrase, in all the first three same thing either in reality, or in opinion, or in Gospels, I have first to observe, that though it the consequences of that opinion. carry the appearance of harshness and injustice, Assuredly it is not the same thing in reality. Is it is neither the one nor the other, but is correctly it the same thing, whether we perform a work by and fundamentally juet. The meaning is, that our own strength, or by obtaining the assistance whosoever uses, exercises, and improves the gifts and co-operation of another? Or does it make it which he has received, shall continue to receive the same thing, that this assistance is to be obstill larger portions of these gifts ; nay, he who tained by means which it is in our own choice to has already received the largest portion, provided use or not. Or because, when the assistance is obhe adequately and proportionably uses his gifts, tained, we may, or may not, avail ourselves of it; shall also in future receive the largest portion. or because we may, by neglecting, lose it? After More and more will be added to him that has the all
, they are two different things, performing a most ; whilst he who neglects the little which he work by ourselves, and performing it by means of has, shall be deprived even of that. That this is help. the sound exposition of these texts, is proved from Again; It is not the same thing in the opihence, that one of them is used as the application nions, and sentiments, and dispositions which of the parable of the talents, concerning the mean- accompany it. A person who knows or believes ing of which parable there can be no doubt at all; himself to be beholden to another for the progress for there, he who had received, and, having re- and success of an undertaking, though still carried ceived, had duly improved ten talents, was placed on by his own endeavours, acknowledges his over ten cities; and of him the expression in friend and his benefactor; feels his dependency question is used, "whosoever hath, to him shall and his obligation; turns to him for help and aid be given, and he shall have more abundance." in his difficulties; is humble under the want and On the contrary, he who had received one talent, need which he finds he has of assistance; and, and had neglected what he had received, had it above all things, is solicitous not to lose the benefit taken from him; and of him the other part of the of that assistance. This is a different turn of expression is used : “whosoever hath not, from mind, and a different way of thinking from his, him shall be taken away even that which he hath." who is sensible of no such want, who relies enBut there is a point still remaining, viz. whether tirely upon his own strength; who, of course, can this Scripture rule be applicable to spiritual gifts. hardly avoid being proud of his success, or feeling I answer that it is so applied, more especially to the confidence, the presumption, the self-comspiritual knowledge, and the use which we make mendation, and the pretensions, which, however thereof. “ Take heed how ye hear; unto you they might suit with a being who achieves his that hear shall more be given; for he that hath to work by his own powers, by no means, and in no him shall be given, and he that hath not, from wise suit with a frail constitution, which must him shall be taken even that which he hath." ask and obtain the friendly aid and help of a kind So stands the passage in Mark; and substantially and gracious benefactor, before he can proceed in the same, that is, with a view to the same applica- the business set out for him, and which it is of tion, the passage stands in Matthew and Luke. unspeakable consequence to him to execute someI consider it, therefore, to be distinctly asserted, how or other. that this is the rule with regard to spiritual It is thus in religion. A sense of spiritual knowledge. And I think the analogy conclusive weakness and of spiritual wants, a belief that with regard to other spiritual gifts. In all which divine aid and help are to be had, are principles there is nothing arbitrary.
which carry the soul to God; make us think of Nor, thirdly, is it arbitrary in its final success. him, and think of him in earnest; convert, in a *Grieve not the Spirit of God." Therefore he word, morality into religion; bring us round to may be grieved. " And hath done despite unto holiness of life, by the road of piety and devotion; the Spirit of grace:" Heb. x. 29. Therefore he render us humble in ourselves and grateful towards may be despised. Both these are leading texts God. There are two dispositions which compose upon the subject. And so is the following: the true Christian character; humility as to our“And his grace, which was bestowed upon me, selves, affection and gratitude as to God; and was not in vain:" 1 Cor. xv. 10. Therefore it both these are natural fruits and effects of the might have been in vain. The influence, there- persuasion we speak of. And what is of the most fore, of the Spirit, may not prevail, even as the importance of all, this persuasion will be accomadmonitions of a friend, the warnings of a parent, panied with a corresponding fear, lest we should may not prevail, may not be successful, may not neglect, and, by neglecting, lose this invaluable be attended to; may be rejected, may be resisted, assistance.
ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT.
On the one hand, therefore, it is not true, that will be unknown when that order is disturbed, or the doctrine of an influencing Spirit is an arbi- altered, or affected; therefore it may be altered it trary system, setting aside our own endeavours. may be affected, by the interposition of a foreign Nor, on the other hand, is it true, that the con influence, without that interposition being pernecting it with our own endeavours, as obtained ceived. through them, as assisting them, as co-operating Again, and in like manner, not only the order with them, renders the doctrine unimportant, or in which thoughts and motives rise up in our all one as putting the whole upon our endeavours minds is unknown to ourselves, but the causes without any such doctrine. If it be true, in fact, also are unknown, and are incalculable, upon that the feebleness of our nature requires the suc. which the vividness of the ideas, the force and couring infiuence of God's Spirit in carrying on strength, and impression of the motives which the grand business of salvation; and in every enter into our minds, depend. Therefore that state and stage of its progress, in conversion, in vividness may be made more or less, that force regeneration, in constancy, in perseverance, in may be increased or diminished, and both hy the sanctification; it is of the utmost importance that influence of a spiritual agent, without any distinct this truth be declared, and understood, and con- sensation of such agency being felt at the time. fessed, and felt; because the perception and sin- Was the case otherwise; was the order, according cere acknowledgment of it will be accompanied by to which thoughts and motives rise up in our a train of sentiments, by a turn of thought, by a minds fixed, and being fixed, known; then I do degree and species of devotion, by humility, by admit the order could not be altered or violated, prayer, by piety, by a recourse to God in our nor a foreign agent interfere to alter or violate it, religious warfare, different from what will, or per- without our being immediately sensible of what haps can, be found in a mind unacquainted with was passing. As also, if the causes upon which this doctrine; or in a mind rejecting it, or in a the power and strength of either good or bad mo mind unconcerned about these things one way or tives depend were ascertained, then it would likeother.
wise be ascertained when this force was ever increased or diminished by external influence and operation; then it might be true, that external
influence could not act upon us without being SERMON XXIV.
perceived. But in the ignorance under which we are concerning the thoughts and motives of our minds, when left to themselves, we must, natu
rally speaking, be, at the time, both ignorant and (PART II.)
insensible of the presence of an interfering power;
one ignorance will correspond with the other; Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and whilst, nevertheless, the assistance and benefit de
that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?-1 Cor. rived from that power, may, in reality, be exceedüi. 16.
In this instance, philosophy, in my opinion, It is undoubtedly a difficulty in the doctrine of comes in aid of religion. In the ordinary state of spiritual influence, that we do not so perceive the the mind, both the presence and the power of the action of the Spirit, as to distinguish it from the motives which act upon it, proceed from causes suggestions of our own minds. Many good men of which we know nothing. This philosophy acknowledge, that they are not conscious of any confesses, and indeed teaches. From whence it such immediate perceptions. They, who lay follows, that when these causes are interrupted or claim to them, cannot advance, like the apostles, influenced, that interruption and that influence such proofs of their claim as must necessarily satis- will be equally unknown to us. Just reasoning fy others, or, perhaps, secure themselves from de- shows this proposition to be a consequence of the lusion. And this is made a ground of objection former. From whence it follows again, that imto the doctrine itself. Now, I think, the objec-mediately and at the time perceiving the operation tion proceeds upon an erroneous principle, name of the Holy Spirit is not only not necessary to ly, our expecting more than is promised. The the reality of these operations, but that it is not agency and influence of the Divine Spirit are consonant to the frame of the human mind that spoken of in Scripture, and are promised; but it it should be so. I repeat again, that we take not is no where promised that its operations shall be upon us to assert that it is never so. Undoubtedly always sensible, viz. distinguishable at the time God can, if he please, give that tact and quality to from the impulses, dictates, and thoughts of our his communications, that they shall be perceived own minds. : I do not take upon me to say that to be divine communications at the time. And they are never so : I only say that it is not neces- this probably was very frequently the case with sary, in the nature of things, that they should be the prophets, with the apostles, and with inspired so; nor is it asserted in the Scripture that they are men of old. But it is not the case naturally; by 80; nor is it promised that they will be so. which I mean, that it is not the case according to
The nature of the thing does not imply or re- the constitution of the human soul. It does not quire it: by which I mean, that, according to the appear by experience to be the case usually. constitution of the human mind, as far as we are What would be the effect of the influence of the acquainted with that constitution, a foreign influ- Divine Spirit being always or generally accomence or impulse may act upon it without being panied with a distinct notice, it is difficult even to distinguished in our perception from its natural conjecture. One thing may be said of it, that it operations, that is, without being perceived at the would be putting us under a quite different distime. The case appears to me to be this: The pensation. It would be putting us under a miraorder in which ideas and motives rise up in our culous dispensation : for the agency of the Spirit minds is utterly unknown to us, consequently it in our souls distinctly perceived is, properly speak.
ing, a miracle. Now miracles are instruments in to take upon ourselves to determine what the the hand of God of signal and extraordinary ef- Scriptures have not determined. This safe rule fects, produced upon signal and extraordinary oc- will produce both caution in judging of ourselves, casions. Neither internally nor externally do and moderation in judging, or rather a backwardthey form the ordinary course of his proceeding ness in taking upon us to judge of others. The with his reasonable creatures.
modes of operation of God's Spirit are probably And in this there is a close analogy with the extremely various and numerous. This variety course of nature, as carried on under the divine is intimated by our Saviour's comparing it with government. We have every reason which Scrip the blowing of the wind. We have no right to ture can give us, for believing that God frequently limit it to any particular mode, forasmuch as the interposes to turn and guide the order of events in Scriptures have not limited it; nor does observathe world, so as to make them execute his pur- tion enable us to do it with any degree of certainty. pose: yet we do not so perceive these interpositions, The conversion of a sinner, for instance, may as, either always or generally, to distinguish them be sudden; nay, may be instantaneous, yet be from the natural progress of things. His provi- both sincere and permanent. We have no audence is real, but unseen. We distinguish not thority whatever to deny the possibility of this. between the acts of God and the course of nature. On the contrary, we ought to rejoice when we It is so with the Spirit. When, therefore, we observe in any one even the appearance of such a teach that good men may be led, or bad men con- change. And this change may not only by posverted, by the Spirit of God, and yet they them- sibility be sudden, but sudden changes may be selves not distinguish his holy influence; we teach more frequent than our observations would lead no more than is conformable, as, I think, has been us to expect. For we can observe only effects, shown, to the frame of the human mind, or rather and these must have time to show themselves in; to our degree of acquaintance with that frame; while the change of heart may be already wrought. and also analogous to the exercise of divine power It is a change of heart which is attributable to the in other things; and also necessary to be so; un- Spirit of God, and this may be sudden. The less it should have pleased God to put us under a fruits, the corresponding effects, internal reformaquite different dispensation, that is, under a dis- tion and external good actions, will follow in due pensation of constant miracles.
time. "I will take the stony heart out of their I do not apprehend that the doctrine of spiritual flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.”influence carries the agency of the Deity much (Ezek. xi. 19.) These words may well describe farther than the doctrine of providence carries it; | God's dealings with his moral creatures, and the or, however, than the doctrine of prayer carries it. operations of his grace. Then follows a descripFor all prayer supposes the Deity to be intimate tion of the effects of these dealings, of these operawith our minds.
tions, of that grace, viz. that they may walk in But if we do not know the influence of the Spi- my statutes, and keep my ordinances and do them;" rit by a distinguishing perception at the time, by which represents a permanent habit and course what means do we know any thing of it at all? 1 of life (a thing of continuance,) resulting from an answer by its effects, and by those alone. And inward change, (which might be a thing produced this I conceive to be that which our Saviour said at once.) to Nicodemus. “The wind bloweth where it In the mean time it may be true, that the more listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but ordinary course of God's grace is gradual and canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it successive; helping from time to time our endeagoeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit :” | vours, succouring our infirinities, strengthening that is, thou perceivest an effect, but the cause our resolutions ; making with the temptation a which produces that effect operates in its own way, way to escape;" promoting our improvement, aswithout thy knowing its rule or manner of opera- sisting our progress; warning, rebuking, encoution. With regard to the cause, “thou canst potraging, comforting, attending us, as it were, tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth.” A through the different stages of our laborious adchange or improvement in thy religious state is vance in the road of salvation. necessary. The agency and help of the Spirit in And as the operations of the Spirit are indefiworking that change or promoting that improve- nite, so far as we know, in respect of time, so are ment, are likewise necessary.
they likewise in respect of mode. They may act, “Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot | and observation affords reason to believe that they enter into the kingdom of God.” But according do sometimes act, by adding force and efficacy to to what particular manner, or according to what instruction, advice, or admonition. A passage rule the Spirit acts, is as unknown to us as the of Scripture sometimes strikes the heart with causes are which regulate the blowing of the wind, wonderful power; adheres, as it were, and cleaves the most incalculable and unknown thing in the to the memory, till it has wrought its work. An world. Its orig... is unknown; its mode is un- impressive sermon is often known to sink very known; but still it is known in its effects: and so deep. It is not, perhaps, too much to hope, that it is with the Spirit. If the change have taken the Spirit of God should accompany his ordiplace; if the improvement be produced and be nances, provided a person bring to them seriousproceeding; if our religious affairs go on well
, ness, humility, and devotion. For example, the then have we ground for trust, that the enabling, devout receiving of the holy sacrament may draw assisting Spirit of God is with us; though we have down upon us the gist and benefit of divine grace, no other knowledge or perception of the matter or increase our measure of it. This, as being the than what this affords,
most solemn act of our religion, and also an apPerhaps there is no subject whatever, in which pointment of the religion itself, may be properly we ought to be so careful not to go before our placed first; but every species of prayer, provided guide as in this of spiritual influence. We ought it be earnest ; every act of worship, provided it be neither to expect more than what is promised, nor sincere, may participate in the same effect; may