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of ourselves than of them, and form a better judgment of our circumstances than of theirs.
But, though our Lord came into the world to execute an extraordinary work, which he alone could undertake; a work infinitely above the capacity of all others to perform ; yet we should remember that we are servants of the same master : we have our work allotted us by divine appointment. We may subserve this very same work of saving souls, and may thus advance God's glory : and we ought to pursue it with the same spirit. We are bound constantly to pursue the same ultimate end. We should study universal conformity to the same rule with Christ. Conscious of our darkness and depravity, we should continually implore divine guidance, and watch against the influence of every irregular appetite and passion. Sensible of our liability to infection and temptation, we should be always on our guard against the world, and the arts of Satan. We should yield ourselves entirely to the divine disposal, and be willing God should chuse our inheritance for us.
We should think it enough for the servant to be as his Lord, and be content to have our names cast out as evil for his sake, not declining to follow him through evil report and good, committing the keeping of our souls to him in well doing. We should never shun any duty on account of its being attended with self-denial; and in examining whether any thing be duty, let not that consideration weigh with us against acknowledging it to be so. We should decline the pursuit of any object which cannot be fairly and evidently rendered subservient to the divine glory, or that plainly clashes with the good of others. And let the prospect of usefulness to the cause of Christ, and subserviency to the divine glory, weigh down all considerations of a mere private and personal nature. We should watch against all pride, self-seeking, and vain glory, as that which would make us especially unlike Jesus Christ, and unlikely to be employed by him, in advancing his blessed cause upon earth. We should consider ourselves as wholly the Lord's property, and not our own : and show that it is not what we admit reluctantly, but that we are pleased and happy in the thought
of being so. We should keep continually looking unto Jesus, regarding his example, admiring his holy excellency, and imploring the gracious influences of his Spirit to transform us into his image. We should not be satisfied with some semblance or some measure of devotedness to the Lord, but should long to be more and more entirely consecrated to him. We should long for heaven as for that place where we and all our associates shall glorify God in the highest degree, and God shall be all in all.
It will be the pleasure of the saints in glory to unite in giving God all the praise of their salvation, taking no share of it to themselves : and there they shall find every thing eradicated from their natures, that was in the least degree displeasing to God, or rendered them unlike to him. No more need of self-denial. Nothing but eternal pleasure. . They pleased with all in God. God pleased with all in them. All pleased with each other. Let it be our great concern to resemble Jesus.
He is most like Christ who prefers usefulness to selfenjoyment; and evidently cares more for the divine glory and the good of others, than for his own honor, emolument, or gratification,
THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT.
Rom. xv. 30.
The subject allotted to me this evening must be peculiarly interesting to all true Christians.
If there were any room to dispute the precise meaning of the expression in our text, the truth of the doctrine on which I shall insist, is confirmed by the general tenor of the Holy Scriptures. But it seems to me far the most natural interpretation of the , clause under consideration, to refer the love of the Spirit, not to that of which he is the author, or the object; but to that of which he is the subject. The Apostle being engaged in a
special service for the church, which called him to Jerusalem, where he would be exposed to special dangers, and having an intention of visiting Rome afterwards, desires in the close of this Epistle to the believing Romans, that they would strive together with him in prayer, that he might be delivered from them who did not believe. This request he enforces by a twofold motive; namely, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit.
It is this second expression which I mean to consider, and that not merely relatively, as to the use the Apostle makes of it, but in a more general way. Doubtless, it must be of consequence to understand that, which the Apostle treats as a source of motives of equal weight with a regard to the Lord Jesus Christ.
But we must inquire, First, What is intended by the Spirit, in our text?
Doubtless, the Holy Spirit of God, who is mentioned in nearly three hundred places in the Bible, by whom we understand, not one of the angels, nor any created super-angelic spirit, nor barely the divine power personified, nor a property of God; but a divine person, or a single subsistency in the Godhead, endued with understanding, will, and power of distinct operation; yet one in essence, nature, and will, with the Father and the Son. For to us it appears a truth clearly revealed in the word of God, that there is a threefold distinction in the Deity more than nominal, or barely official, yet not of essence. A truth, which revelation alone could discover, but which right reason cannot contradict. Sober reason must admit numberless facts, which we can no more explain than we can explain the trinity. It is a mystery, but not an absurdity; for we do not say that God is three and one in the same sense ; but that he unites in his nature perfect unity and complete society. The two positive institutions of the New Testament seem particularly designed to uphold the two principal doctrines of mere revelation ; namely, the trinity and the atonement.*
* See Matt. xxviii. 19. 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 1 John v.7. John xiv. 16. 26. xv. 26. xvi. 7. 13. 15. Acts v. 3, 4. xiii. 2.
Rom. v. 5. viii. 9. 11. 13, 14, 15, 16. 26, 27. 1 Cor. iii. 16. vi. 19. xiii. 3, 4. 11. Eph. ii. 16. iv. 30. 2 Thess. iii, 5.
SECONDLY; What are we to understand by the love of the Spirit ?
The phrase, as here used, might bear a threefold explication; nor would either be discordant to the scope and design of the Apostle : I would not therefore too positively determine, that he could not intend, or include either of the other significations. But I conceive the first was directly intended, and it is that on which I shall chiefly discourse ; viz. That love of which the Holy Spirit is the subject, and which he displays, especially in the application of redemption to the soul. God is love. So is the Holy Spirit. He has manifested his benignity, not only in the beauty and comfort which he imparted to all rational creatures at first, and which he has preserved and continued to those who never sinned; but especially in his operations on the hearts of saved sinners. These have manifested love indeed. The freest and most sovereign love! He so works on the souls of men as to show that it is all of grace, and not in the least of debt. He quickeneth whom he will. He worketh when and where he liketh. But he hath wrought, so, as to show the most astonishing love; both in the extraordinary influence which he has exerted on some for the sake of others; inspiring with valor the great instruments of deliverance for the Oldtestament church--Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, David ; giving wisdom to the seventy elders, especially guiding, elevating, and impressing the minds of the penmen of the Old and New Testament with revealed truths, otherwise unknown, as to things past, present, and future. And in his own ordinary operations on the minds of all who are saved. This is more common, but more excellent. The ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit are of far more importance to the individuals who partake of them, than his extraordinary gifts; that is, it is better to be a saint than a prophet; better to be made holy, than to be inspired ; better to be directed into the love of God, than into the knowledge of futurity. Herein the blessed Spirit communicates himself in his own proper nature, as the Spirit of holiness.
What love is displayed in his work, as enlightening our dark minds; convincing the conscience ; renewing the will;
revealing Christ to the soul ;-applying the call of God to the heart; comforting the soul; enabling to joy in God; shedding abroad the love of God in the heart; dwelling in the heart as his temple ; assisting in prayer; sealing with the divine image; giving a truly filial disposition ; strengthening for every duty; changing from glory to glory ; being the earnest of our eternal inheritance ! * Surely, if we duly consider the necessity and advantages of these his blessed operations, we must acknowledge and admire the love of the Spirit.
Consider what rendered this special influence necessary, and that will show the freeness and sovereignty of his love. You have been quickened by the Spirit, who were dead in trespasses and sins, and alienated from the life of God. There was no more to draw, his love, than in a loathsome, putrid corpse. It was the hardness of your hearts that rendered it needful for him to soften them. Your aversion to Christ rendered it needful for him to draw you. Your degeneracy rendered it needful for him to regenerate you. Your pride rendered it needful for him to humble you. Your love of sin rendered it needful for him to renew you in the spirit of your minds. The more you needed his grace, the more unworthy were you of it. Groundless, inveterate disaffection to God, made his powerful, efficacious influence needful. Oh, what love! Your heart was like a cage of unclean birds, or a nest of vipers ; the abode of evil spirits; yet he has made it his temple! You never sincerely and truly desired his sanctifying influence, before he exerted it. Though some of his operations are painful, yet they are all salutary; and needful to prevent infinitely more painful consequences. He wounded, but it was to heal; he killed, but it was to make alive ; he constrained you to flee from false refuges, but it was that you might find safety and security in the name of Immanuel ; he mortifies the deeds of the body, but it is that you may live unto God.
Consider the goodness of all the fruits of the Spirit. They
* See 2 Cor. iv, 6.
Eph. i. 17.
John xvi. 13. 15. Ps. cx. 3. Titus iii, 5. Gal. i. 16. John xvi. 14. Gal. i. 15. 1 Thess. i. 15. Rom. v. 5. 1 Cor. iii. 16. Eph. ii. 22. Rom. viii. 13, Eph. i. 13. iv. 30, Gal, iv. 6. Eph. iii. 16. 2 Cor. iii. 18. iv. 5.