Page images

2dly. What your condition and circumstances will be, if you shall be so unhappy as to drive that Holy Spirit from you.

3dly. I will shew you what those things are which do most offend and grieve him.

Lastly; I will propose to you a method of living, which will, by God's good blessing, secure you of his favour, and bring you to heaven.

I. And, first, What your condition is while you continue under the government and protection of God's Holy Spirit.

Now, while you continue in covenant with God, you are reconciled to him by the death of hss fon. This frees the mind 'from fear of future evils. You are under his immediate protection; no temptation shall so far get the dominion over you as to separate you from Christ. If (as the apostle speaks) God has fent his Spirit into your hearts, whereby you may

call upon God as a father, then you know how tenderly concerned a father is for the welfare of his children. And these expressions are made use of in the holy fcriptures to give us apprehensions of God's favourable concern for his children and servants.

To be more particular:-


continue under the government of God, you are secure from the danger of the great enemy of mankind, the devil, whose power, when God permits him to make use of it, is much greater than is generally thought • Rom. V. 10.

of, voidable

of. He did once get leave from God to try his force with Job, and you see what a number of calamities fell upon the head of that good man.

And another instance in the New Testament we have, which may convince us of the great power of the devil when he is let loose to do what he pleases: Two thousand swine were by him at once choaked in the sea, when Christ permitted it so to be; which being a single instance of any of our Saviour's miracles which were attended with such a seeming damage, it is most likely it was to convince the world of the great power of the devil to hurt the creatures of God, when God

permits him so to do, for the punishment of perverse mankind.

And now, pray consider, what a blessing it is to be assured, that this enemy, with all his power, cannot injure you; and injure you he cannot, while the Holy Spirit of God governs you. He may tempt you to fin, and he may tempt others to reduce

you, may be at ease with this scripture in your heart; Greater is be that is in you, (that is, the Holy Spirit) tban be that is in the warld; that is, the devil.

And this brings us to consider another great advantage which the earnest of God's Spirit secures to you. Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. Afflictions, distempers of body and mind, great crosses, una

but then you

voidable calamities, befal all sorts of men. This is an observation made by Solomon: for in that fense his words are;' No man knoweth love or hatred by all that is before them. But though afflictions happen to all, yet they have a very different effect upon men, as they light upon the righteous or the wicked.

When afflictions and troubles befal a man whose heart is governed by the Spirit of God, they are so far from being a burthen to him, that he receives them thankfully, calls them a fatherly correction, is confident that they are designed for his good, bears them therefore with patience, and grows better, and is really a gainer, by what the world calls misfortunes.

On the other hand; where the Spirit of God is absent, when afflictions seize men, they are impatient, and suffer more by that than by the calamity which caused it; they ascribe all they suffer to the malice of men, or to an ill-governed nature, or to chance, or to any thing but the true cause; and, after all their sufferings, they are not one jot the better for what they have undergone.

Let any man judge whether of these two have the better of it.

Lastly; The Spirit of God which is given you, has this happy effect upon you; you are hereby sealed unto the day of redemption; that is, to eternal happiness. You are not put into immediate poilėssion of heaven; but


Ecclef. ix. I.

if the Holy Spirit dwell in your hearts, you are, so long, as sure of heaven as those that are actually there. But then every man that has this hope purifies himself, keeps himself unspotted from the world, and grieves not the Holy Spirit so long, till he is forced to forfake his charge.

II. And this brings us to the second particular, which was to consider, What your condition will be if you should be so unhappy as to grieve and drive that Holy Spirit from you. If I should only tell you, that then you will be left to yourselves, even that is a most dreadful condition.

We look upon it as a great misfortune, when a young man who is born to a plentiful estate comes to it, and is master of himself, before he has experience to govern either the one or the other; and we judge truly, and it happens accordingly, that an estate to such a man is rather a curse than a blessing.

But sure, to be left to one's self in a fpiritual sense, is a much greater misfortune, as much greater, as the foul is more valuable than the body or an estate: And therefore every wise man heartily begs of God, Leave me not in the hands of my own counsel.

But though this is bad enough, yet this is not the worst of it. For when the Spirit of God forsakes us, the enemy of mankind takes the government of us; and then we shall foon change our thoughts of things, our desires,


[ocr errors]

our actions; what afore-time we disliked, we shall now esteem; what we had no inclination to, we shall now eagerly covet; and those actions which we have often condemned in others, we shall be guilty of ourselves.

That this is really true, and that such changes as these will certainly happen in every one of you, who shall be so unfortunate as to grieve the Holy Spirit so long till he forsakes you; you may learn from what happens almost every day.

Do not you see people that have been bred up in the Christian religion, and for some time have lived like orderly professors of christianity; do not you see them become as careless as if there were neither religion, nor God, nor heaven, nor hell? Others become as much in love with wickedness as if they had had masters to have taught them.

Do you not see people of the same church, under the same pastors and teachers, having the same advantages of learning and parts, and yet some live orderly and like good Chris, tians, and others run wild, as if they had been bred amongst infidels?

What is the reason of these strange differences? Why plainly this:-Those that suffer themselves to be governed by the Spirit of God, that continue to fear God, continue to be the children of God, and his spirit watches over them for good; and they that drive him


« PreviousContinue »