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lead him in safety through the perilous journey of life. Such a guide is promised in Scripture to every sincere Christian.
We are not to suppose, that the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit were confined to the apostolic age. Human nature is much alike, at all periods, and in all countries. Though Christianity is now established, and though miraculous interference is no longer necessary to the well-being of the Church yet the present race of men will never be essentially better than their heathen predecessors, so long as they rest satisfied with having only outwardly embraced the religion of the Messiah. A mere hypocritical and external profession of faith cannot be
pleasing to that God, who regards motives no less than actions. A radical change must take place in the heart, as well as an outward reformation in the manners and this change can only be effected by the agency of some superior power. The heart is as much averse now to the genuine practice of piety, as it was in the days of the Apostles and, though we have no longer to combat the horrors of persecution, we have still to struggle with the unwillingness and corruption of the soul. If the whole of religion consisted in the bare belief of certain tenets and in the due observance of certain ceremonies, we should find very little difficulty in becoming thoroughly religious characters.
But, when we are called
upon to begin the work of self-reformation; when we are required to love God, with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength; when we are enjoined to prefer, upon all occasions, his will to our own, and to sacrifice our bosom sins, our darling vices, upon the altar of Christianity: then commences the struggle; the inbred venom of our nature immediately shows itself; our very spirit rises both against the law and the lawgiver; and we discover the utter impossibility of working any change in our affections merely by our own efforts. No human arguments can persuade a man, to love what he hates, and to delight in what he detests. Submission they may perhaps teach him but it will be the sullen submis
sion of a slave, not the cheerful acquiescence of a son. To produce this
change is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit and, since none but he can produce it, his ordinary influence is absolutely and universally necessary at present, and will be equally so even to the very end of the world.
In the following pages, I have endeavoured to state what appears to me the plain doctrine of Scripture and of the Church of England and of primitive Antiquity. Though we are repeatedly assured by the word of God, that of ourselves we can do no good thing: yet we are never represented as mere machines, subjected to an overwhelming and irresistible influence. The aid of the Holy Spirit is freely offered unto
all: nor does that blessed Person cease to strive even with the most profligate, till they have obstinately rejected the counsel of God against themselves. The still small voice of conscience, which is in effect the voice of God, long continues to admonish them and the extreme difficulty, which they find in silencing it, sufficiently shows, how unwilling the Almighty is that any should perish. All, that will, may be saved: for our Lord hath expressly declared, that, whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast him out. Let none, therefore, despair, on the ground of their being rejected by a tremendous and irreversible decree of exclusion: for, surely, if such a decree existed, God's repeated expostulations with sin