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II. In consequence of the air being thus the appointed emblem of the third person the Trinity, our Lord compares the operations of the one to the operations of the other', and communicates the gift of the Holy Ghost to his disciples by the act of breathing upon them.
That wonderful effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was attended with a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, expressive of those miraculous powers, which were the instrument of producing so great a revolution in the superstitions of Paganism: and, in the mystic epithalamium of Solomon, the fructification of the Church is described by the soft breezes of the south wind blowing among the aromatic plants of an eastern garden'.
III. If we wish, then, to understand the manner in which the Spirit operates upon Holy Spirit in the spiritual system are described by those of the air in the natural. Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon Vox
1 John iii. 8.
2 John xx. 22.
3 Cantic. iv. 16. Our translators, in the title which they have prefixed to the fourth chapter of this divine song, give it
the soul; we must inquire, in what manner the air operates upon the body.
Now we find, that the air surrounds the body on all sides, is perpetually inhaled by it, and is so necessary to its health that death is the certain consequence of its being withdrawn. In a similar manner, so long as the Holy Ghost animates the soul of the Christian, it enjoys the highest degree of spiritual health; if the vivifying principle be in part withdrawn, the soul languishes; and, if it be once entirely removed, what is figuratively termed the second death immediately takes place'. We are no more able to advance in our heavenly pilgrimage without the constant inspiration of the Holy Ghost, than we should be to accomplish some long journey upon earth without the perpetual inspiration of the atmosphere. To be deprived of either is equally fatal: the one, to the spiritual; the other, to the natural, economy 2.
as their opinion, that in the sixteenth verse the Church prayeth to be made fit for the presence of Christ.
1 Revel. xx. 14.
2 The branch can bear no fruit, nor preserve nor ripen that
IV. On this account, it is a most important matter to inquire, what scriptural reasons we have to expect the unceasing assistance of the Holy Spirit: for melancholy indeed would be our situation, had we the road to everlasting life merely pointed out to us, and were we thenceforward left to pursue it by the unaided exertion of our own strength.
The hearts of the stoutest would be appalled
which it hath, but by its unity with the root: light continues not in the house, but by its dependence on the sun; shut out that, all the light is presently gone. Take water away from the fire; and its nature will be presently stronger than the heat it borrowed, and suddenly reduce it to its wonted coldSo we can do nothing but by the constant supplies of the Spirit of Christ. He that begins, must finish every good work in us. He, that is the author, must be the finisher of our faith too. Without him, we cannot will nor do any good. Without him, when we have done both, we cannot continue, but shall faint in the way. His Spirit must lead us. His arm must heal and strengthen us. As we have received him, so we must walk in him: without him we cannot walk. God is the God of all grace: to him it belongeth not only to call, but to perfect; not only to perfect, but to strengthen, stablish, settle us. Bp. Reynold's Sinfulness of Sin, p. 130.
at the sight of the dangers and difficulties which every where present themselves, unless they were convinced that God himself was on their side: and the spirits even of the most vigorous would fail them, if it were a matter of doubt whether the Redeemer might not possibly desert them in the last stage of their pilgrimage. Arguing only from the bare light of reason, we must surely deem it unworthy of the goodness of God to suppose, that he would forsake his children in their greatest need, and that he would leave them exposed in their declining years, an unresisting prey to all the malice of Satan 1.
1. The gracious Lord, however, in his
1 It was the fear of this that caused David to exclaim: Cast me not away in the time of age; forsake me not when my strength faileth me-Forsake me not, O God, in mine old age, when I am grey-headed; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to all them that are yet for to come. Psalm 1xxi. 8. 16.
Sic mihi fiat, Domine, jam in senium vergenti, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum! Kyrie, eleyson! Nov. 30, 1828. Deus est in omnibus fidelis, teste me jam sexagenario. Jun. 14, 1834.
mercy, has not left us to our own vague conjectures and unsatisfactory probabilities. On the contrary, he has armed the Christian with an abundance of precious promises: and he has fortified his mind, against the hour of danger, with the most soothing assurances of his friendship and protection. He knoweth what is in man: and he has therefore provided him with armour of proof, to enable him to stand fast in the evil day of peril and adversity. He has repeatedly declared, that he will never forsake his servants, unless they resolutely and with a high hand, forsake him: and he has promised, that he will preserve his heritage from all the assaults of hell, and safely conduct them into the realms of everlasting happiness.
This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death1. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord
delivereth him out of them all.
Cast thy bur
den upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee;
1 Psalm xlviii. 14.
2 Psalm xxxiv. 19.