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IN GENERAL.

9 183
make it the same thing, that this assistance is to
be obtained by means which it is in our own choice
to use or not? or because, when the assistance is
obtained, we may or may not avail ourselves of it;
or because we may, by veglecting, lose it? Af
ter all, they are two different things, performing
a work by ourselves, and performing it by means

ter all, the we may, bly not avail che assistance

*ves, and rent th: $; loses of

182 OF SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE
same, that is, with a view to the same application,
the passage stands in Matthew and Luke. I con
sider it, therefore, to be distinctly asserted, that
this is the rule with regard to spiritual knowledge.
And I think the analogy conclusive with regard
to other spiritual gifts. In all which there is no-
thing arbitrary.

Nor, thirdly, is it arbitrary in its final success. “ Grieve not the Spirit of God;" therefore he may be grieved. And hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.”* Therefore he may be de spised. Both these are leading texts upon the subject. And so is the following And bis grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain :"+ therefore it might have been in vain. The influence, therefore, of the Spirit, may not prevail, even as the admonitions of a friend, the warnings, of a parent, may not prevail, may not be successful, may not be attended to, may be re. jected, may be resisted, may be despised, may be lost : so that both in its gift, in its degree, opera tion and progress, and, above all, in its final effect, it is connected with our own endeavours, it is not arbitrary. Throughout the whole, it does not supersede, but co-operates with, ourselves,

But another objection is advanced, and from an opposite quarter. It is said, that if the influence of the Spirit depend, after all, upon our endea. vours, the doctrine is nugatory : it comes to the same thing, as if salvation was put upon ourselves and our own endeavours alone, exclusive of eve. ry farther consideration, and without referring us to any influence or assistance whatever. I an swer, that this is by no means true; that it is not the same thing either in reality, or in opinion, or in the consequences of that opinion.

Assuredly it is not the same thing in reality, Is it the same thing, whether we perform a wor's by our own strength, or by obtaining the assist ance and co-operation of another ? or does if

Béb. 1. 29. t1 Cor. xy. 10:

that assistance solicitous not to lance; and, shed,

Again; It is not the same thing in the opinions
and sentiments, and dispositions which accompa
ny it. A person, who knows or believes himself
to be beholden to another for the progress and
success of an undertaking, though still carried on
by his own endeavours, acknowledges his friend
and his benefactor ; feels his dependancy and his
obligation ; turns to him for help and aid in his
difficulties; is humble under the want and need,
which he finds he has, of assistance; and, above
all things, is solicitous not to lose the benefit of
that assistance. This is a different turn of mind,
and a different way of thinking, from his, who is
sensible of no such want, who relies entirely up-
on his own strength : who, of course, can hardly
avoid being proud of his success, or feeling the
confidence, the presumption, the self-commenda-
tion and the pretensions, which, however they
might suit with a being, who achieves his work
by his own powers, by no means, and in no wise,
suit with a frail constitution, which must ask and
obtain the friendly aid and help of a kind and
gracious benefactor, before he can proceed in the
business set out for him, and which it is of un,
speakable consequence to him to execute some
how or other.

It is thus in religion. A sense of spiritual weak,
ness and of spiritual wants; a belief that divine
aid and help are to be had; are principles which
carry the soul to God; make us think of him, and
think of him in earnest; convert, in a word, mo.
Tality into religion; bring us round to holiness of
life, by the road of piety and devotion; render us
bumble in ourselves, and grateful towards God,

make it the same thing, that this assistance is to be obtained by means which it is in our own choice to use or not? or because, when the assistance is obtained, we may or may not avail ourselves of it; or because we may, by neglecting, lose it? After all, they are two different things, performing a work by ourselves, and performing it by means of help.

Again ; It is not the same thing in the opinions and sentiments, and dispositions which accompa. ny it. A person, who knows or believes himself to be beholden to another for the progress and success of an undertaking, though still carried on by his own endeavours, acknowledges his friend and his benefactor ; feels his dependancy and his obligation ; turns to him for help and aid in his difficulties ; is humble under the want and need, which he finds he has, of assistance; and, above all things, is solicitous not to lose the benefit of that assistance. This is a different turn of mind, and a different way of thinking, from his, who is sensible of no such want, who relies entirely upon his own strength : who, of course, can hardly avoid being proud of his success, or feeling the confidence, the presumption, the self-commendation and the pretensions, which, however they might suit with a being, who achieves his work by his own powers, by no means, and in no wise, suit with a frail constitution, which must ask and obtain the friendly aid and help of a kind and gracious benefactor, before he can proceed in the business set out for him, and which it is of unspeakable consequence to him to execute some how or other.

It is thus in religion. A sense of spiritual weak, ness and of spiritual wants; a belief that divine aid and help are to be had; are principles which carry the soul to God; make us think of him, and think of him in earnest; convert, in a word, mo. rality into religion ; bring us round to holiness of life, by the road of piety and devotion ; render us bumble in ourselves, and grateful towards God;

the impulsee, viz. distinos operation

us. I do not states, mushable at us shall be

184

ON THE INFLUENCE
There are two dispositions, which compose the
true Christian character-humility as to ourselves;
affection and gratitude as to God; and both these
are natural fruits and effects of the persuasion we
speak of: and, what is of the most importance of
all, this persuasion will be accompanied with a
corresponding fear, lest we should neglect, and, by
neglecting, lose this invaluable assistance. On the
one hand, therefore, it is not true, that the doc.
trine of an influencing Spirit is an arbitrary 958
tem, setting aside our own endeavours. Nor, or
the other hand, is it true, that the connecting
with our own endeavours, as obtained through
them, as assisting them, as co-operating with them,
renders the doctrine unimportant, or all one as
putting the whole upon our endeavours without
any such doctrine. If it be true, in fact, that the
feebleness of our nature requires the succouring
influence of God's Spirit in carrying on the grand
business of salvation, and in every state and stage
of its progress, in conversion, in regeneration,
constancy, in perseverance, in sanctification; it
of the utmost importance that this truth be de
clared, and understood, and confessed, and felt;
because the perception and sincere acknowledge
ment of it will be accompanied by a train of sento
ments, by a turn of thought, by a degree and spe-
cies of devotion, by humility, by prayer, by piety
by a recourse to God in our religious warfare, dia
ferent from what will, or, perhaps, can be found
in a mind unacquainted with this doctrine, or in a
mind rejecting it, or in a mind unconcerned about
these things one way or other.

SERMON XXIV.
ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT.

(PART II.)
Know ye not that yearethe temple of God, and that

the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?-1 Cor. ji. 16.

It is undoubtedly a difficulty in the doctrine of spiritual influence, that we do not so perceive the

OF THE SPIRIT. 185
action of the Spirit, as to distinguish it from the
suggestions of our own minds. Many good men
acknowledge, that they are not conscious of any
such immediate perceptions. They, who lay
claim to them, cannot advance, like the apostles,
such proofs of their claim, as must necessarily satis-
fy others, or, perhaps, secure themselves from de.
lusion. And this is made a ground of objection to
the doctrine itself. Now, I think, the objection
proceeds upon an erroneous principle, namely,
our expecting more than is promised. The agen-
cy and influence of the divine Spirit are spoken
of in Scripture, and are promised: but it is no
where promised, that its operations shall be als
ways sensible, viz. distinguishable at the time from
the impulses, dictates, and thoughts of our own
minds. I do not take upon me to say, that they are
never so : I only say, that it is not necessary, in
the nature of things, that they should be so; nor
is it asserted in the Scripture that they are 80; nor
is it promised that they will be so.

The nature of the thing does not imply or re-
quire it: by which I mean, that, according to the
constitution of the human mind, as far as we are
acquainted with that constitution, a foreign influ-
ence or impulse may act upon it, without being
distinguished in our perception from its natural
operations, that is, without being perceived at the
time. The case appears to me to be this. The
order, in which ideas and motives rise up in our
minds, is utterly unknown to us, consequently it
will be unknown when that order is disturbed, or
altered, or affected: therefore it may be altered,
it may be affected by the interposition of a foreign
influence, without that interposition being per-
ceived. Again, and in like manner, not only the
order, in which thoughts and motives rise up in
our minds, is unknown to ourselves, but the causes
also are unknown, and are incalculable, upon
which the vividness of the ideas, the force, and
strength, and impression of the motives, which en.
ter into our minds, depend. Therefore that viva

I 2

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distinore, impulse Chat constitund, as far as to the

time. The nat is, without from its robeing

strength, and dness of those incalculabhe causes
olulo our minoression of the eas, the force upon

iction of the Spirit, as to distinguish it from the juggestions of our own minds. Many good men acknowledge, that they are not conscious of any such immediate perceptions. They, who lay claim to them, cannot advance, like the apostles, such proofs of their claim, as must necessarily satisfy others, or, perhaps, secure themselves from deHusion. And this is made a ground of objection to the doctrine itself. Now, I think, the objection proceeds upon an erroneous principle, namely, our expecting more than is promised. The agency and influence of the divine Spirit are spoken of in Scripture, and are promised: but it is no where promised, that its operations shall be always sensible, viz. distinguishable at the time from the impulses, dictates, and thoughts of our own. minds. I do not take upon me to say, that they are never so : I only say, that it is not necessary, in the nature of things, that they should be so; nor is it asserted in the Scripture that they are so; nor is it promised that they will be so.

The nature of the thing does not imply or require it: by which I mean, that, according to the constitution of the human mind, as far as we are acquainted with that constitution, a foreign influence or impulse may act upon it, without being distinguished in our perception from its natural operations, that is, without being perceived at the time. The case appears to me to be this. The order, in which ideas and motives rise up in our minds, is utterly unknown to us, consequently it will be unknown when that order is disturbed, or altered, or affected: therefore it may be altered, it may be affected by the interposition of a foreign influence, without that interposition being perceived. Again, and in like manner, not only the order, in which thoughts and motives rise up in our minds, is unknown toourselves, but the causes also are unknown, and are incalculable, upon which the vividness of the ideas, the force, and strength, and impression of the motives, which en. ter into our minds, depend. Therefore that viva

nied with a diesing always or genem lence of the

186 ON THE INFLUENCE
idness may be made more or less, that force may
be increased or diminished, and both by the in-
fluence of a spiritual agent, without any distinct
sensation of such agency being felt at the time.
Was the case otherwise, was the order, according
to which thoughts and motives rise up in our
minds, fixed, and being fixed, known; then I do
admit, the order could not be altered or violated,
nor a foreign agent interfere to alter or violate it,
without our being immediately sensible of what
was passing. As also, if the causes, upon which
the power and strength of either good or bad mo-
tives depend were ascertained, then it would like.
wise be ascertained when this force was ever in-
creased or diminished by external influence and
operation : then it might be true, that external in-
fluence could not act upon us without being per-
ceived. But in the ignorance under which we are
concerning the thoughts and motives of our minds,
when left to themselves, we must, naturally speak.
ing, be, at the time, both ignorant and insensible
of the presence of an interfering power; one ig.
norance will correspond with the other: whilst,
nevertheless, the assistance and benefit, derived
from that power, may, in reality, be exceedingly
great. In this instance philosophy, in my opinion,
comes in aid of religion. In the ordinary state of
the mind, both the presence and the power of the
motives, which act upon it, proceed from causes,
of which we know nothing. This philosophy con.
fesses, and indeed teaches. From whence it fol-
lows, that when these causes are interrupted or
influenced, that interruption and that influence
will be equally unknown to us. Just reasoning
shews this proposition to be a consequence of the
former. From whence it follows again, that im-
mediately and at the time perceiving the opera-
tion of the Holy Spirit is not only not necessary to
the reality of these operations, but that it is not
consonant to the frame of the human mind that it
should be so. I repeat again, that we take not up-
on as to assert that it is never so. Undoubtedly

OF THE SPIRIT.
God can, if he please, give that tact and quality to
his communications, that they shall be perceived
to be divine conmunications at the time. And
this probably was very frequently the case with
the prophets, with the apostles, and with inspired
men of old. But it is not the case naturally; by
which I mean, that it is not the case according to
the constitution of the human soul. It does not
appear, by experience, to be the case usually.
What would be the effect of the infuence of the
divine Spirit being always or generally accompa-
nied with a distinct notice, it is difficult even to
conjecture. One thing may be said of it, that it
would be putting us under a quite different dis-
pensation. It would be putting us under a miracu.
lous dispensation : for the agency of the Spirit in
our souls distinctly perceived is, properly speak-
ing, a miracle. Now miracles are instruments in
the hand of God of signal and extraordinary ef-
fects, produced upon signal and extraordinary Oce
casions. Neither internally nor externally do they
form the ordinary course of his proceeding with
his reasonable creatures.

And in this there is a close analogy with the
course of nature, as carried on under the divine
government. We have every reason, which Scrip-
ture can give us, for believing, that God frequent-
ly interposes to turn and guide the order of events
in the world, so as to make them execute his pur-
pose: yet we do not 80 perceive these interposi-
tions, as, either always or generally, to distinguish
them from the natural progress of things. His
providence is real, but unseen. We distinguish

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not between the acts of God and the course of na-
ture. It is so with the Spirit. When, therefore,
we teach that good men may be led, or bad men
converted, by the Spirit of God, and yet they
themselves not distinguish his holy influence; we
teach no more than what is conformable, as, I
think, has been shewn to the frame of the human
mind, or rather to our degree of acquaintance
with that frame; and also analogous to the exer-

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