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THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE
WHILE the blessed Spirit of God is employed in illuminating the understanding, and in converting the will of his servants, he is also working a gradual change in their affections. He weans them from the gross and terrestrial objects of sense: he mortifies the works of the flesh and he draws up their minds to high and heavenly things'. He teaches them not merely theoretically, but experimentally, the infinite disproportion between the pleasures of this world and the joy which is reserved for the faithful at the right hand of God. By slow and almost imperceptible degrees, a surprising change takes place within
1 Art. XVII.
them. They no longer feel any relish for those vanities, which the slaves of dissipation esteem absolutely necessary for their happiness: and, what at first was resigned upon principles of duty and conscience, though with no small reluctance, now ceases to excite a single wish, and is considered with indifference or even aversion 1.
I. The life of Christ is the beautiful exem
1 By this new nature, the very natural motion of the soul, so taken, is obedience to God, and walking in the paths of righteousness: it can no more live in the habit and ways of sin, than a man can live under water. Sin is not the Christian's element: it is too gross for his renewed soul, as the water is for his body. He may fall into it, but he cannot breathe in it: cannot take delight and continue to live in it: but his delight is in the law of the Lord. That is the walk, that his soul refreshes itself in: he loves it entirely, and loves it most, when it most crosses the remainders of corruption that are in him: he bends the strength of his soul to please God, and aims wholly at that. It takes up his thoughts early and late: he hath no other purpose in his being and living; but only to honour his Lord, that is, to live to righteousness. He doth not make a by-work of it, a study for his spare hours; no, it is his main business, his all. Abp. Leighton's Works, Vol. i. p. 402.
plar, which every man under the guidance of the Holy Spirit endeavours to imitate.
Such a man finds himself uneasy in the society of those, whose daily conversation is the very reverse of that bright pattern, which was once, and only once, exhibited before the eyes of sinful mortality: and he flies with delight to companions, whose habits and views are more congenial with his own. Still, whenever there is even a faint hope only of effecting a reformation, he seeks not morosely to shun the presence of the thoughtless and the dissipated'. Here his business is, to watch for opportunities of usefulness; to avoid the appearance of unnecessary rigour; and to diffuse the practice of holiness, rather by occasional hints and general remarks, than by petulant reproof and pointed allusion. We
1 ̔́Οπου πλείων κόπος, πολὺ κέρδος. Καλοὺς μαθητὰς ἐὰν φιλῶς, χάρις σοι οὐκ ἔστιν· μᾶλλον δὲ τοὺς λοιμοτέρους ἐν πρᾳότητι ὑπότασσε. Οὐ πᾶν τραῦμα τῇ αὐτῇ ἐμΤοὺς παροξυσμοὺς ἐμβροχαῖς
παῦε. Φρόνιμος γίνου ὡς ὁ ὄφις ἐν ἅπασιν, καὶ ἀκέραιος woεì meρioTepά. Ignat. Epist. ad Polycarp. § i. ii.
are all, however absurd it may be, more subject to the influence of pride and self-conceit, than perhaps of any other species of mental criminality. It is the particular aim of Christianity to eradicate this master passion of the soul and all, who have had the least experience of their own hearts, will readily allow the difficulty of the work. If such be the confession of every humble, self-denying, believer; with what a tremendous sway must the sin of pride rule in the breasts of the carnal and worldly-minded! Men never much relish the being driven to their duty. Personal censure, and ill-timed advice, always convey an idea of superiority; and, as such, will always give offence. Impressed with the truth of these remarks, the Christian will endeavour to unite prudence with his zeal. He will strive rather to lead men into the paths of salvation, than to compel them to come in. Though ever upon the watch to do good, he will temper his watchfulness with judgment. He will study to remove all appearance of design and premeditation from what he says.
He will seek to conciliate the affections of those, with whom he converses. He will resolutely turn aside from every temptation to sarcasm and ridicule; as well knowing, that the applause, which might perhaps be procured by his wit, would be but a poor recompense for the diminution, probably the loss, of his influence over an immortal soul. He will strive, in short, to inculcate the maxims of his religion by example, as well as by precept. With these views, and these resolutions, he will enter into company; and thus convert even an ordinary visit into a plan for promoting the glory of God.
II. The imitation, then, of Christ constitutes the principal study of those, who are influenced by the Holy Ghost.
Whatsoever action they are about to perform, their first question is, whether Christ would have performed it, had he been in their situation and it is their constant endeavour to regulate, not only their words, but their very thoughts, in a way resembling that in which they have reason to conceive that he