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Lord's blessed words are “ if ye being evil, “ know how to give your children good gifts, “ how much more shall your Heavenly Father “ give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” All, therefore, who by a lively and a steady faith contemplate their Saviour, may be said to enjoy the assurance of that blessed declaration, “because I live ye shall live also.” But the kind of belief required by our Lord, is not simply an acknowledgment that he is true, the Devils so “believe and tremble.” Christ himself explains what he requires, and to what description of faith his gracious promises are made—“ he that hath my command“ments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth
me, and he that loveth me,” (not he that only knoweth me) but “ he that loveth me, “ shall be loved of my Father, and I will love “ him and will manifest myself to him.” The manner in which he would manifest himself, the way in which he would make himself known to the heart, is what our Saviour likewise vouchsafed to treat of. He announces that the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father would send in his name, should teach his disciples all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatever he had said. Our Saviour certainly here spoke more particularly of the Apostles and the in
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
almost answer like those we read of in the Acts, who replied to Paul's question of whether they had received the Holy Ghost, “We " have not so much as heard whether there be
any Holy Ghost.” Are they but few in this Christian country, who consider little, who, may be, never yet have thought, what the Holy Ghost has to do with their own particular souls? Perhaps some such persons are even now amongst us—bear with me, brethren, it is not the whole that need a Physician but the sick—if any here present would like to ask, what am I to look for when I pray for the assistance of the Holy Spirit ? The answer is shortly this-He will lead you into all truth, but you must follow Him and not grieve the Holy Spirit; He will be your Comforter, but you must entirely rely on him.
If you pray for the aid of the Spirit of God, shaping your conduct in all humility, so as to prove that these prayers are not mere lip service, but the desire of the heart, then sooner or later as Heaven sees fit, that prayer shall have a good answer ; you will become more and more persuaded towards all that is Christian in thought, word, and deed, and you will have a hidden satisfaction from it that the world cannot give. However, even among the better instructed, some there are impatient in this matter, because they do not feel immediately the consolation promised, they despair of its ever coming, and so they grow weary in their petitions, though the delay may have been intended as an exercise of their faith, or the continuance of their trouble, meant to work wholesomely towards establishing them in the right way, by leading them to repeated supplication. Such hasty conduct as this, is in fact to contradict God, unlike that word which says,
“ Let God be true and every man a “ liar.” All parts of the Scripture inculcate the duty of waiting upon God, and talk of a perseverance almost to the length of holy violence in our petitions. Our Lord a parable, in which he says, “an unrighteous judge that feared neither God nor man heard
a suppliant because of her perpetual crying,” how much more will the Author of all righteousness be moved with the request of him that fainteth not.
There is another species of discouragement which is sometimes found to influence a different description of persons—they are disappointed when they find no sudden change in themselves, as the consequence of their petitions. Did they attend to what the Scripture says, nothing of this sudden kind would be expected, as to the inward things of the Spirit,
all may be going
marked crisis. Our Lord has told us, “ the kingdom of God “ is within you.” He compares it to the progress of a little leaven which by due degrees leavened the whole lump; he likens it to the grain of mustard, which, though the smallest of all seeds, grows to be the greatest of herbs he gives for another simile, the husbandman who commits the grain to the ground, having done what his own labour could do, and looking for the rest in due time to God the author and finisher of all. Such comparisons as these afford no warrant for the expectation of any sudden effect from the operation of the Spirit. Pious minds will therefore, do well not to grieve, as those almost without hope, because they have not felt any thing like an inward miracle ; such feelings after all, instead of being divine impressions, are often but the occasional excitement of the bodily nerves ; their truth can be ascertained in no other way than by their genuine effects, which must require time for their developement.
The first advice is, " in your patience possess ye your souls,” and truly the very power to be patient, is a more satisfaetory proof of the holy influence than almost anything else. We have farther the example of an Apostle to prove that God will sometimes deny other gifts, because the