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him in Scripture, and because their own experience bears testimony to the same truth; inasmuch as they know enough of the perverseness of their understanding and the natural enmity of their minds against God, to be convinced, that, but for the enlightening, and convincing, and converting influences of the Spirit, they should have remained for ever in a state of alienation from God-terrified, it may be, by some occasional misgivings of conscience, but altogether unaffected by the manifestation of his love, and the invitation of his mercy. Whatever, therefore, may be the peace and joy which they have experienced in believing—whatever may be the security and comfort which they have felt in approaching God, pouring out their hearts before him, and unreservedly committing their way to his direction--and whatever enlargement of heart may have been brought to them, while meditating on the unsearchable depth of the love and mercy of Christ, it is to the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit that they are indebted for it all-knowing, as they do, that but for this agency, the divine record which furnishes them matter for holy meditation, and counsel to direct them in seasons of perplexity, and exceeding great and precious promises to sustain them in times of trial and tribulation, would have been to them a sealed book. It is indeed a very solemn thought, that they are the subjects of a divine influence—that they are in immediate contact with the Spirit of all holiness, and purity, and truth-and that the wilful indulgence of every unholy affection, and the commission of every known sin, is a deliberate act of resistance to the Spirit's agency. But it is, at the same time, a very animating thought, that they should thus be admitted to intimate fellowship with Him; and, while every step that they advance towards a conformity to the divine image, furnishes a new ground of joy and gratitude to him in whose strength they made it, the fact, that it is the Spirit's work, forbids them to set any limits to their advancement, short of the full maturity of holiness, and the full measures of blessedness, of which their nature is capable. As often as they betake themselves to prayer, meditation, hearing the word, or any other spiritual exercise, they are encouraged to hope and believe that then they will be admitted to immediate fellowship with the Holy Ghost-it is held out to them as a most powerful motive to engage in such exercises, that he will be ready to help their infirmities, to quicken their desires after God, and to lead them into all the truth and as often as they find in these exercises, the consolation and refreshment which they sought for, it is just an intimation to them that His gracious influence was present; and thus, every new accession which is made to the light, and life, and spiritual comfort of believers, is a practical illustration of the truth, that the kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Ghost.
We are aware, that in these remarks we have only hinted at the import of the language employed by the Apostle; and have exhibited, therefore, but a very imperfect view of what it is that constitutes the kingdom of God. But, for a very full and clear exposition of the subject, we refer to the following Treatise, which none, we think, can peruse with attention without receiving from it very serious and salutary impressions, and without being convinced that the kingdom of God is a very different thing indeed from a mere assent to certain matters of opinion, and an outward conformity to certain appointed ordinances. We know few treatises, indeed, better fitted than Shaw's EMMANUEL, to awaken solemn reflection, and lead to deep heartsearching, and self-examination. The formalist will find it difficult to inake his escape from the scrutiny to which it subjects him, without being convinced that all is not right with him; and the believer will hardly fail to discover from it, how far he still stands from that perfection after which he is taught to aspire. And if the kingdom of God be any thing like what is set forth in this Treatise, then how far are those persons from that kingdom, with whom it has never been a question of deep and serious concernment how their hearts stand affected towards him ; who have never conceived of that kingdom as of something within them—a power which subjugates all the desires and affections, and faculties of the soul; and who have not been made to understand, that instead of providing for their well-being without interfering with their natural propensities, the happiness which it bestows on its subjects consists, in detaching them from their dearest gratifications, and qualifying them for the enjoyment of what to the natural man is utterly distasteful. While such is the delusion under which sinners are labouring, it is, we fear, but too evident, that they have never conceived aright either of the sinfulness or the misery of their condition ; and have never been persuaded to betake themselves to Him, whose blood alone can
wash them from their guilt. But to say nothing of the solemn consideration, that this guilt still stands against them unforgiven, we would entreat them to reflect, what kind of happiness it is that they expect hereafter to enjoy. The respect which they show for the letter of the law which God has revealed, and the form of those religious ordinances which he has appointed, is virtually a declaration on their part that they cannot be altogether indifferent to his displeasure ; while, in resting contented, and at ease, with this form of godliness, they do in reality express their hope, that this displeasure is, or will be, turned away from them. Without inquiring, then, into the foundation of this hope, and even admitting that it is well founded, we would ask them, what it is that they hope for ? Of righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, as constituting the kingdom of God, they are practically ignorant; and they must be conscious, that so far from longing to be in possession of these, a state of mind so spiritual and so holy, as the prevalence of such principles would imply, stands directly opposed to all their natural inclinations and desires, and is in reality altogether offensive to them. And what, then, do they understand by being admitted into the kingdom of heaven? or what is it that they expect to enjoy there, if they are admitted ? Even on the supposition that they are ultimately put in possession of it, though in this life they remain experimentally strangers to its nature, still that kingdom, as it will hereafter exist, inust be what the Apostle has represented; and can they really allege, that they hope then to be, what they are now most unwilling to become ? It is impossible to express the infatuation which such an idea implies; but, supposing that they do avow such a hope, and allege that they shall undergo such a change as will qualify them for the enjoyment of what they hope for, they cannot surely believe, that this change will be effected without any consent or concurrence of theirs, or that they will be compelled to love, what in reality they dislike. The whole tenor of Scripture goes distinctly to show, that wherever this change takes place, it is by the manifestation of the truth to the conscience-even the precious truth, that God spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up to the death for sinners; if to this truth they remain insensible, there is no other consideration by which they can ever be brought to entertain affectionate thoughts of God, or to long for the enjoyment of his fellowship; and their hope, therefore, express it as they will, does still involve the strange contradiction, of professedly hoping for what they cannot think of but with aversion and dislike. It is indeed a miserable delusion to suppose, that the happiness of heaven hereafter may be possessed and enjoyed without any such change taking place here in the state of the heart and affections as may adapt them to the nature of that happiness; or that it consists in any thing else than the full and uninterrupted enjoyment of that communion with God, which commences at the moment of the sinner's conversion, and which it is the great object of all the discipline of God's providence, the methods of his grace, and the influences of his Spirit, to sustain and perfect.