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found. And to him, who thus humbly seeks, the grace of God is near.
The deceived hypocrite, who, trusting in his own righteousness, thinks that he needs nothing, will reject the gracious counsels of the gospel. But the sincere Christian, feeling his own weakness, esteems it his highest privilege, that he may come to the throne of grace for a supply of the Spirit. And God resisteth the proud ; but giveth grace to the humble.
3. The Spirit is grieved, when we neglect the means appointed for obtaining his influence.
God has institöited particular duties to be observed by us with a special view to this important end. The secret and social worship of God, the reading and hearing of his word, and the observance of sabbaths and ordinances, are the means of religion. The es. sence of godliness consists not in these means, but in that holy temper and life, which they are designed to produce. These duties become subservient to religion, not merely by their natural tendency to advance it in our hearts, but rather as they are the appointed means of obtaining the needful influences of the divine Spirit.
God's gracious communications are not always con. fined to these means. They are, however, his stated and ordinary methods of intercourse with us. " Draw nigh to God,” says the Apostle, “and he will draw nigh to you.” God has promised, “In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee and bless thec.” Our Lord promises his spiritual presence in the midst of those, who gather together in his name. It was when the disciples were together with one accord, in one place, that the Spirit was poured upon them. John " was in the Spirit on the Lord's day ;" and on that day he saw Jesus " walking in the midst of the churches."
As the Spirit sanctifies and scals us by the word of truth, so that we may obtain this benefit, we must be Vol. III.
conversant with the word. God begins and carries on his saving work in men's souls, not by immediate revelations, but by his gracious concurrence with their humble inquiries after truth and duty. Hence the Apostle joins these two cautions, Quench not the Spirit :"_“ Despise not prophesying.”
To other means we must add serious meditation on divine things, and careful examination of our hearts. Thus we gain a knowledge of ourselves, a sense of our wants, and an apprehension of the importance of spiritual blessings. While David was musing, the fire burned. In the multitude of his thoughts within him, God's comforts delighted his soul. And all must be accompanied with prayer. “ Ask and ye shall receive,” says our Lord, “ for God giveth his Holy Spirit to them who ask him."
Since these are the ways, in which God has directed us to seek, and encouraged us to expect the needful supplies of his grace ; our disregard to them may properly be said to grieve the Spirit. It is a contempt of his offered assistance-an affront to his kindness and love.
Ye, who live in the neglect of secret prayer, and social worship-ye who are strangers to your own hearts, and to the word and sanctuary of God-consider, you not only disobey the express commands of God, but oppose and grieve that Spirit, who, usually, by these means, communicates himself to the soul.
4. Opposition to the strivings of the Spirit is another way in which he is often gricved.
There are times, when sinners are impressed more deeply than usual, with a sense of their guilty and dangerous state, and of the necessity of a speedy repentance. There are seasons also, when true Christians are awakened to more lively affections, and more fervent zeal, than what they ordinarily experience. Whatever may be our character, such favorable motions are to be improved. Our Saviour has taught us, “Who
soever hath, to him shall be given ; but from him that hath pot, shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have,” If we disobey the calls, and neglect the aids of the Spirit, we oppose and grieve him ; and what we have may justly be taken away.
We are not, indeed, implicitly to obey every motion started in our minds, concluding it, at once, to be divine. There may be motions suggested by the pow. er of imagination, or by the influence of evil Spirits, which are not to be followed. We should always res member, that the divine influence is not by immediate revelation of something new, and before unknown ; but by kind excitation to that which is already reveal, ed or commanded in scripture. How powerfully soeve er we may be urged to a particular action, or line of conduct, we are not to proceed, until we have examined the matter, and found it agreeable to the word of God. By this rule we are to try all inward motions ; and as they agree or disagree with this, we are to embrace or discard them. To suspend our resolution until we can obtain light in a doubtful case ; or to refuse compliance with a suggestion palpably unscriptural, is not to grieve, but please the Spirit. This is to follow. reason and the word of God. But when conscience strongly remonstrates against manifest evil, or presses to evident duty, then opposition or delay is grieving the Spirit,
5. There are some particular kinds of sin, which are, in an eminent and peculiar sense, opposite to the work of the Spirit.
Among these may be reckoned impurity, intemper, ance, dissipation, and all the vices of sensuality. This is the language of the gospel ; " They who are sensual, have not the Spirit.”—“ Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.” You cannot be filled with both. “ Walk in the Spirit, and ye will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” When David fell into the gross sin of impurity, God took from him the Holy Spirit ; and the unhappy offender lost for a time the joy of salvation.
The indulgence of malignant passions, as well as, of fleshly lusts, grieves the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are love, peace, gentleness and meekness. The contrary tempers are the works of the flesh, and descend not from above, but are earthly, sensual and dev. ilish. Therefore to the caution in the text the Apostle subjoins a dissuasive from all bitterness, wrath, elamor and evil speaking, and an exhortation to kindness, compassion and mutual forgiveness.
Contentions among Christians are opposite to the Spirit. “Ye are builded together," says the Apostle, "* for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Walk worthy of your vocation in all lowliness, forbearing one another in love, and keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ; for there is one body and one Spirit.” Christians can no longer be an hab. itation of the Spirit, than they are builded together, They no longer walk worthy of their vocation, than they preserve unity and peace.
Finally: Men grieve the Spirit, when they ascribe to him those motions and actions, which are contrary to his nature,
If, under pretence of the special guidance of the Spirit, they blindly follow every impulse of a heated imagination, every suggestion of the common deceiver, every motion of their own vanity and pride, they profane and blaspheme his sacred name. The scripture directs us to prove every Spirit
, whether it be of God. If, instead of trying the Spirit which moves us, we rashly obey every motion that we feel, and ascribe to the Spirit of God the tempers and actions which his word forbids, we not only are guilty of great impiety, but lay ourselves open to fatal delusion.
To dissuade us fiom these, and all other sins, what argument can be more powerful, than this which our
text proposes ? It is grieving the Holy Spirit, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption ; or, at least, are urged to secure a share in the redemption. The offer of redemption is made without distinction. They only are already interested in it, who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. But even the unrenewed have been the subjects of his convincing and awakening influence. It is not necessary, that we should wait to , ascertain our character, before we apply to ourselves the argument. Whatever our character is, we have at least had the offer of redemption, been called to repent, and invited to seek the grace of the Spirit, who is forward to assist us in the religious life. And who of us can say, they have not experienced his strivings within them?
Let us remember, then, that the sins which have been mentioned, as grieving the Spirit, are inconsistent with a clear evidence and scriptural hope of our interest in the great redemption ; and the indulgence of them will most certainly cut us off from the glorious inheritance proposed. And if we fail, alas ! we shall sink under this additional load of guilt, that we have pursued our own destruction, in opposition to the strivings of divine grace ; and, while we have ruined ourselves, we have grieved God's compassion and love.
Let sinners, awed by their danger on the one hand, and animated by their encouragement on the other, flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on the hope set before them.
Let saints, by a steady faith in God, by a diligent attendance on the means of religion, and by the exercise of a holy temper, keep alive their Christian joy. And let them walk as becomes those who have the earnest of the Spirit in their hearts, and are waiting for the day of redemption.