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duty and inclination, which exists in a greater or in a less degree within the bosom of every Christian. Hence it is manifest, that such a struggle, provided only that duty generally prevails, is an evidence of spiritual life. The dead feel not the living only possess the powers of action and sensation. In the mean time, till God is pleased to grant them more of that peace which passeth all understanding, let them strengthen their hearts with some such promises as the following.
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee. Oh, thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy
windows of agates, and thy gates with carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord: and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression: for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue, that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord'.
1 Isaiah liv. 7.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE
MAN, being by nature in a state of complete darkness and ignorance, so far as relates to spiritual things, the first operation of the Holy Ghost must necessarily be to remove the veil from off his heart, and to enlighten his understanding. This, however, as we have already seen, is of little use, unless the affections be also reclaimed from the love of sin and converted to the love of God. The divine principle, nevertheless, may exist in the heart, even when the favoured possessor of it least suspects its presence, and is almost ready to despair from his supposed deficiency in it. The striking difference between the character of these humble, dejected, self-condemning, believers, and the character of those unhappy men, who know the truth only to hate and
reject it, has been sufficiently shown. Whatever degree of reluctance a man may feel in the performance of his duty; yet, if he do perform it; if he daily pray and strive against this reluctance; if, instead of hatred toward the Son of God, he at times be sensible of tender grief from the consciousness of his own obduracy and ingratitude: he may depend upon it, that these emotions, so opposite to the hellish temper of an unrenewed heart, are the first-fruits of that Spirit, whose peculiar office it is to guide the Christian into all truth.
Wicked men, indeed, have sometimes good wishes. Even Balaam, when obstinately resisting the counsel of the Most High, could yet exclaim: May I die the death of the righteous, and may my latter end be like his! But, unhappily, these wishes only spring up occasionally. There is nothing of that abiding sense of God's presence, that restless desire of a greater degree of communion with him, which every real Christian is wont to experience. In the unconverted, good impressions, however lively at first, soon wear off;
and they gradually return to their former habits of irreligion: but, in the children of God, such impressions perpetually acquire fresh vigour and energy; they grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength, until they imperceptibly become the main spring of every thought and action.
The foulest hearts, says Bishop Hall, do sometimes entertain good motions; like as, on the contrary, the holiest souls give way sometimes to the suggestions of evil. The flashes of lightning may be discerned in the darkest prisons : but, if good thoughts look into a wicked heart, they stay not there; as those that like not their lodging, they are soon gone. Hardly any thing distinguishes betwixt good and evil, but continuance. The light that shines into a holy heart, is constant, like that of the sun, which keeps due times, and varies not his course for any of these sublunary occasions'.
The Holy Spirit, then having enlightened the understanding, proceeds, in the next
1 Hall's Works, p. 1058.