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ing the same part now, that Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, did of old? Are we guilty of perverting religion into rebellion, and faith into faction, or of concealing the most antichristian sentiments beneath the specious mask of piety and humility?
Let us diligently scrutinise our hearts, and see, whether they produce these corrupt fruits. If we unhappily find such to be the case, while we lament our wickedness and tremble at our danger, let us pray God to grant us a better spirit and to enable us to forsake the evil of our ways. What is the awful declaration of the Apostle respecting the workers of iniquity? I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(2.) It may perhaps be said, If God be extreme to mark what is done amiss, who may abide it? Where is the man, who does not offend daily, both in thought, word, and deed?
We readily acknowledge, that our very best deeds are unclean in the eyes of him, who chargeth even his angels with folly: but the
point is, in what manner do we bear the consciousness of our sinfulness? Are we penitent, or impenitent, offenders? Mercy is abundantly held forth to the former; but pardon is never once offered to the latter. Though God gives his grace to the humble; he stedfastly resists the proud and the presumptuous. Were we really conscious of the load of our iniquities, did we really desire to be freed from their yoke, we should feel ourselves little less incommoded by our subjection to them, than the eye does when inflamed with even the most minute particle of sand. We all know, that the very smallest mote occasions such an exquisite degree of pain in the organ of vision, as to permit us to enjoy no rest until it be extracted. Something similar to this are the sensations of the man, who truly feels his sin to be a grievous burden to him. He is uneasy and restless, until it be removed: he cannot cheerfully, or even tamely, acquiesce in its dominion: nor can he be content, so long as he knows himself to be its vassal. Here, then, we have another test, by which
we may decide whether or no we are in a state of grace. If we acknowledge our sins, without the least compunction, and without any wish to be freed from their tyranny; our situation is indeed most awfully dangerous: we tremble on the very brink of a precipice, from which if we fall, we fall to rise no more. But, if we feel a vehement degree of pain and restless uneasiness in their continuance; if we experience a strong and ardent desire for their removal; if we labour incessantly to effect their extirpation; if we declare everlasting war against them: our situation then is good; we have then no reason to doubt, but that the Holy Spirit of God is contending for the possession of our hearts. In such a case, let us joyfully welcome the heavenly visitor, and resign ourselves implicitly to his guidance and direction.
(3.) We are not however to be content with mere negative religion, with only endeavouring to abstain from evil: we must also labour after the things that are good. The Holy Spirit is an active and energetic principle
and is perpetually employed in new-moulding the hearts of the faithful and in leading them to the practice of all righteousness. Good works, as our Church justly determines', necessarily spring out of a true and lively faith: and it is impossible for those, who are under the influence of the Holy Ghost, to avoid showing whose servants they are by their life and conversation. Hence, a striking difference of character will always be perceptible between the children of light and the children of darkness: insomuch that, generally speaking, it will require no very great degree of penetration to discriminate between them; especially, if we study the strongly-drawn portraits of them, with which we have been furnished by the Apostle.
2. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they, that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit 2.
1 Art. XII.
2 Galat. v. 22.
(1.) The Christian, though originally in a state of enmity with God, has his affections so far changed by the influence of the Holy Ghost, that he now loves what before he hated, and now hates what before he loved.
None perhaps of the sacred writings breathe the spirit of divine charity in a more eminent degree, than those of the beloved disciple of our Lord. They contain a beautiful picture of that dove-like temper, which seems peculiarly to have belonged to their author: and they may be considered, as a kind of manual for the daily use of believers. From a constant perusal of them, joined with the prayer of faith, we may reasonably expect to derive some portion of that spirit with which they are animated. When a Christian considers his own rebellious and perverse nature, and contrasts it with the wonderful goodness of God, displayed in his redemption and sanctification; his heart is softened with such condescending marks of Almighty love. He is astonished at that mercy and patience, which so long bore with his iniquities and spared