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grace he has already vouchsafed is enough. These reflections may be useful to those who do pray, and yet do not receive the kind of assurance they expected at God's hand.
By far the greater number of persons, however, who neglect to seek the Spirit of God, are influenced by totally different views. They seek their salvation in another way; they think they are able enough without help to do good; they look upon some of their actions as in themselves sufficiently excellent to be approved of by God. In their virtues they depend on their own strength to carry them through, and ’tis only when they fail, that they look to the merits of the Saviour. There cannot be a more unchristian principle. For it at once lowers the honour of God, and raises the pride of man. All our acceptance is in the Beloved, and in nothing less. It is true, that Christ takes upon himself the transgressions committed through the unavoidable weakness of our nature, and our tresspasses if through faith they be sincerely repented of. But it is not true of transgressions, that they were unavoidable, when we have neglected to seek and use the means of help that God has given against them. Would any one, be thought to have done his best to put out a fire who had never called for assistance to extinguish the flame ? or can that man be said to
have done his utmost against the power of sin, who has not asked often and fervently in prayer for the Holy Spirit, and thus sought that aid whereby he might quench the fiery darts of inward and outward wickedness?
Men pray for the help of God where their daily bread is concerned. They pray to Christ to forgive them the crimes they have committed, but they do not pray with half so much desire to have subdued in themselves the seeds of crime, to 6 be converted, that their sins
may be blotted out.” They rejoice to have the punishment done away, which they know was deserved by their iniquitous acts, but they do not go the full length of making a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness. They are content without seeking to have their thoughts made godly, which is the particular office of the Holy Spirit, as is declared in the daily service of our Church. The Priest says, “ O Lord, make clean our hearts “ within us,” the people answer, “ and take “not thy Holy Spirit from us.” Yet, what are the numbers who never think at all whether he rules in their hearts or no? Nor do they pause to consider how they can invite him into their hearts. It is a great mistake to think that we need the aid of the Holy Spirit only in trials, in difficulties and in temp
tations, or that we need pray to God for no cleansing but from our faults. The best that man can do is lamentably imperfect, and requires the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, to make it acceptable by Jesus Christ. Without him, the Prophet by the word of God assures us, that, “all our righteousnesses “ are as filthy rags.” The history of the first Gentile convert may clearly be a proof of it. Cornelius was a just man; he was frequent in prayer; he took care that his household should be pious; he gave much alms to the
if this was enough, this he had done. But what followed ? God in mercy, for his sincerity sent an Angel to tell him where he might learn more, might learn the sanctification that is in Christ Jesus, and so make his good deeds what they should be, the offspring of a lively faith, as flowing from a heart religiously instructed in the knowledge of Christ, and religiously inclined in the faith of Christ, which in Scripture language is called a heart renewed by the power of the Holy Ghost.
With respect to other men, we can only judge of them by their actions, where we are called upon to judge, which is not often. But with respect to ourselves, we can go a step farther, we can examine not only what we do, but why we do it-whether the thought of
God has had any share in it; which, worldly prudence, or a care for the soul has influenced the mind and action? Whether we give all the glory to our Master, or wish to appropriate part to ourselves ? For instance, when doing any duty in that state of life to which it has pleased God to call us, we may satisfy our fellow-men, and gain their approbation, but if we neglect to thank God for giving the ability, or fail in asking him to pardon the imperfections, and to accept the humble endeavour as proof of faith, and so of trust in the Saviour, rather than in human righteousness; how can any one who thus leaves his God out of the question, even in his good works; how can such a person say, that he is doing every thing heartily, as unto the Lord, and not rather seeking with eye service to please men? There plainly may be a great and deserved difference between two persons who in outward actions are perhaps the same. The one by the help of the Holy Spirit in secret thinks ever upon God, and he who seeth in secret will at the last reward his faithful stewardship openly. The other does not think of praying for the same help, his mind, therefore, is not under the same good influence of an equal sense of dependance. The consequence of which must be, that he will not spired writers, yet there is a sense in which the promise belongs to all Christians—for why were these writers inspired, except that we should be partakers of their hope. “None," saith St. Paul, “ can call Jesus the Lord but
by the spirit of God.” “ It is He that work“eth in us both to will and to do of his good “ pleasure.” The aid therefore, and assistance of the Spirit to influence the heart is necessary for all, and is promised to all descriptions of the faithful. We find this doctrine inculcated by our ritual throughout from first to last. In the very rudiments of Christianity, after having repeated the ten commandments, the child is taught, “ know this my good child, “ that thou art not able to do these things of
thyself, nor to walk in the commandments “ of God, and serve him, without his special grace,
which thou must learn at all times to “call for by diligent prayer.” And the Priest, set apart for the ministration of all that is awful in the holy offices, when he takes the vows of God upon him, he promises to fulfil them by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, “ The Lord being his helper.” There is no part of Christian duty, however, less attended to than prayer for the Holy Spirit. Alas! many, were they to speak the truth as to what they conceive of the Holy Spirit, would