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very moment you deny the Bible, not because it is untrue, or at all defective in evidence, but just because “the god of this world hath blinded your mind, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto it.” It is possible that you are the victim of an inveterate moral delirium, instead of being alive to the realities of your sad condition, as a sinner in the presence of your angry Creator. It is possible that there lies before
you hell of eternal misery, which could easily be shunned, and a heaven of endless happiness, which could as easily be secured, while you are rushing headlong into the despair of the one, and unconsciously casting away the blessedness of the other. It is awfully possible that death is at your door, and that God may speedily say to you, with a power which cannot be trifled with, “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish : for I work a work in your days which
shall in nowise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” If these are some of the things which do most certainly hang on the bare possibility of the truth of our doctrine, as connected with your state of infidelity, then surely your course is clear. The chair of the scorner must be relinquished; the engrossing pursuits of this world must be thrown into a secondary place; the spirit of self-suspicion must be aroused; the arrogance of free-thinking must be brought down; and the claims of Christianity to reign within you, must undergo a solemn investigation. You boast of reason's high sufficiencythis is one of her clearest dictates, and why should you spurn her when she speaks for her God? “ If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”
II. The other position is, that a vital connection between the soul of a sinner and the Spirit of God must be formed, in order to his deliverance from moral scepticism. Our limits prevent us from enlarging on this topic, but we have indirectly enlarged on it already. If you are brought to believe that wicked spirits are pre-eminent in power--that sin has given them the ascendency over you, and that they hold your conscience, by moral means, in the most debasing captivity—you can have no difficulty in believing also, that if God has purposed your deliverance, there must be a power superior to theirs put forth for their expulsion. Your belief in these things will lead you still farther than this. It will teach you to infer, that, as the evil agency is moral and spiritual, the power opposed to it must be moral and spiritual; and as the former maintains its acendency not by force, but misleading argument, the latter must gain the mastery, and acquire its own ascendency, by the use of arguments which are sound and corrective. Thus it is that the second of our positions presupposes
the first; and the enormous evil which the first affirms, renders the good contemplated in the second indispensably necessary.
The two are placed in contrast, as the poison and its antidote, or the disease and its remedy, in the revelation which you disown; and in every single instance, from first to last, where error has denied or modified the one, it has also denied or modified the other in exactly the same proportion.
The Bible speaks of a mighty Spirit, whose titles and attributes are divine, and with whom it connects the appellative Holy, not because holiness dwells with
I cleanse you.
nects him more than with Deity's other subsistences, but bef Guy cause to him it belongs, in the administration of the ? Eru Christian economy, to generate holiness in the hearts men of men. It exhibits the Almighty as saying to arga men, in predictive disclosures of Christian benefit to ? then the children of a remote futurity, “ Then will I a ba sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: ther from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will Dos
A new heart also will I give you, be and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will ver take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” If
wish to know the import of this expressive imagery, an explanation is immediately subjoined—“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.” This was the shadowing forth of the Old Testament; and we find it remarkably verified at the very opening of the New. Jesus himself said to the Jews, Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;” virtually telling them, that, although his reasonings were invincible, and his miracles stupendous, yet neither the one nor the other could overcome their unbelief, without the special efficacy of this divine agent. His Apostle said to the converts at Rome, “ The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts;” that is, our enmity, which was the soul of our unbelief, is destroyed, and its opposite infused into our hearts, “ by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.”
It is worthy of your notice too, that" the restorative influence of this mighty Spirit is connected with the sacrifice of Christ, as the medium through which it flows to any of the
human family. The Apostle already quoted, holds the following language on this point : “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Another apostle is equally explicit in testifying the same thing. Speaking of remarkable effusions of the Spirit which followed the ascension of Christ, and speedily led to numerous conversions by simple statements of Christian truth, he accounted for them to the wondering multitude in the following memorable words: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear."
This is the power-a power which is divine, but specifically Christian, in as much as it works through the Christian sacrifice- to which the Scriptures constantly refer for rooting out your enmity, and detecting your sophistries, and bringing you to a healthful exercise of reason on the evidence of their own divinity. We believe this doctrine; our observation and reflections are all in accordance with its general moral bearings; and beyond it we know not of any thing, in the whole moral universe, which ever will be effectual for “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.” We believe it in the coolest exercise of our reason, and what hinders
believing it too?
You believe, we presume, that every thing that lives on the surface of the earth, or in the bowels of the ocean, is animated or made quick by the Spirit of the God who created it. In casting your eye over the teeming immensity of animal and vegetable organizations, you perceive an endless variety in the modified workings of the divine Spirit, in adapting the sustaining influence which he is ever putting forth, to the diversified natures of the living myriads which it has pleased the Creator to produce and perpetuate. This idea is the sublime of philosophy. It awes us by its grandeur; it shows the divinity to be ever near us, in the diversified infinitude of his inspirations; and so impressive is the evidence of its truth, that nothing short of absolute atheism can possibly set it aside. But does it not furnish a strong probability, that, if the God of nature shall choose to reveal himself for the restoration of man, who has been assailed and carried away from him by a powerful spirit of evil, this same divine Spirit shall come forth and appear conspicuous, exerting an influence which is specially fitted for counteracting the spirit of evil, and securing the proposed restoration ?
The fact in the one case, it is most certain, gives high probability to the hypothesis in the other; and thus you see that the course of nature, on this point also, as on every other, says all that it possibly can say in favour of revelation. We state the argument of common sense in its vulgar observations upon nature's appearances ; and if you pass from this to genuine science, you will find her equally true to her God. Indeed we are quite certain, that a candid examination of
your own mind