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“ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
“ He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.” There are practical manifestations of a heart renewed by divine grace. The quality of the fruit will correspond with the character of the tree; for
a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit."
The fruits of the Spirit are necessary to justify a profession of religion. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you,
and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much
The apostle Paul has enumerated and placed in contrast the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. The works of the flesh are these :-“ Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, revellings, and such
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Here is a magnificent cluster of virtues -acollection of therarest gems, with which thejasper, the sapphire, the emerald, the sardonyx, the chrysolyte, the beryl, the topaz, the chrysoprasus, and the amethyst will not bear comparison. Here is the believer's golden chain--a full length portrait of the christian.
We will examine and illustrate the fruit of the Spirit in the order laid down by the apostle. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love." Let us consider the nature-evidences—and means by which our love to God may be promoted.
I. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE.
to God. This strong and essential link is annexed to the throne of God, and on it hangs the whole of the believer's golden chain. We observe,
1. It is divine in its origin. In vain we look for this principle in an unrenewed heart, for “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” It is not the production of earth, nor the result of a mathematical demonstration, neither is it generated by a classical education. It is not procured by any merits of our own, nor obtained by penance or bodily mortification ; but it is a divine principle implanted in the heart, and developed in the conduct. "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Rom. v. 5. Terms these which denote free and abundant communication, and prove that all the graces that adorn the christian, proceed from the Holy Spirit. There are frequent allusions in the scriptures to the out-pouring and effects of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of men. While Peter was preaching, “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts x. 44, 45.
Love is an emanation from Deity, a divine communication to man; it is God dwelling in man or man dwelling in God; hence we read that “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." 1 John iv. 16. Again, “ Khow ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Cor. iii. 16. I
For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people," 2 Cor. vi. 16.
The more we love God the more we shall reflect his moral image ; pure affection tends to assimilate to the
resemblance of the object which occupies our thoughts, and in which we feel the liveliest interest. " We love him because he first loved us.” Love to God must be,
2. Constant and increasing. Not casual as the winds, fluctuating as the tide, nor uncertain as the sunshine; but constant at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. Not in a flame to-day, and to-morrow cold as an iceburg; it must not blaze in the crowd, and become extinct when alone; there must be no transition from the torrid to the frigid zone. It should burn on the altar of the heart night and day, fanned by the breath of praise and prayer, by which alone the heart can be kept in a proper temperature.
Besides, it must not be stationary, but increasing in intensity, in degree. We are not to pause at the commencement of our religious career, nor fancy our work is done when we are converted to God. We must go forward in the divine life, make new discoveries, and gain fresh triumphs. There may be enemies to encounter, temptations to overcome, and obstacles to surmount, but “ onward” must be the motto inscribed on our escutche
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness : and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity,” 2 Pet. i. 5—7. Observe,
3. It is supreme. Love implies an object. Esteem of the object we love, desire after it, complacency and delight in it, are characteristics of love. The object of christian love is God. He demands the primary and profoundest homage from all his creatures. We are to love our parents, partners, children, relatives, neighbours, christians; but our love to God must exceed all other love. It pust not be a secondary consideration, nor manifested in an inferior degree; but supremely, and
with all our hearts. Our love to God is defective, unless we can say with Asaph, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee;" or with the psalmist, when he said, 0 God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live : I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches,” Ps. Ixiii. 1–6.
Also, to love an object implies a knowledge of the existence of that object. Through the defection of man from his uprightness of heart," says Dr. Wardlaw, “the knowledge of God himself, and consequently the knowledge of God's will, has been frequently impaired, and, although still discovering itself in the dictates of conscience, yet has necessarily been bereft of its certainty and its consistency as a standard of moral rectitude; and that this knowledge, lost in consequence of the sinful aversion of the human heart to retain it, has through the unmerited favour of God, been restored in divine revelation.” Our happiness consists in knowing and loving God. “ And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." John xvii. 3.
With more ease might we guage the ocean, weigh the mountains, bend the pillars of the earth, control the freedom of the air, or number the stars of the firmament, than “find out the Almighty unto perfection.” Nevertheless, by searching the inspired word, we may attain a knowledge of his nature, character, will, and our duty.
“ Search the scriptures for in them ye
have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.”
To love God is a moral obligation. It was enjoined both under the mosaic and christian dispensations. When Moses received the law from God, he pressed its observance upon the people. “Hear, O Israel : the Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” Deut. vi. 4, 5. A certain lawyer asked the Saviour which was “the great commandment in the law :" “ Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matt. xxii. 36–40. To love God is not an irksome task to a christian, but his highest delight and most exalted exercise. With David he says, “I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore!" Notice,
II. THE EVIDENCES OF LOVE TO God.
Love to God produces hatred to sin in all its forms, to every system and principle which is at variance with truth, and causes the affections to gravitate to the earth. Love to God is manifest,
1. In obedience to him. The Saviour saith, love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth
Nothing short of this can authenticate the existence of this principle in the heart, for obedience is the proper test of love to Christ. We also read that his “commandments are not grievous.” There is nothing in the keeping of them derogatory to our honour, nor detrimental to our happiness ; but, on the contrary, “Him that honoureth me, I will honour;" and, “Great peace
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