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should be able to ascertain precisely, or nearly so, when his faith in Christ had its commencement.
II. Having thus attempted to throw some light, however faint, upon this difficult subject of Divine influence, I proceed, in the second place, to consider why the drawing spoken of in our text is necessary. “ No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him."-Observe, my brethren, the impossibility here spoken of is simply that which results from the want of inclination in the sinner to go to Christ. It is that same impossibility which the froward child pleads, when he says to his parent, “ I cannot perform this or that act of obedience." It is that same impossibility to which we refer, when we say of the inveterạte sot, that he cannot renounce his cups. Now the lamentable fact is, that we are all by nature prone to sin. We are attached to our own selfish and sensual interest. We are unwilling to love God with our whole soul, and strength, and mind, and our neighbour as ourselves. Although conscience condemns
and would justify God in passing his sentence of condemnation upon us; although we see that there is no hope of reconciliation with God, but through the death and merits of Jesus Christ ; still we are unwilling to submit to the righteousness of God, and to be interested in the great propitiation which has been made for sin. Hence we cannot go to Christ. In other words, we will not. So deep and thorough is this depravity
of the human heart, as the Scripture every where teaches us, that there is no hope for man but in the sovereign mercy of God. If left to himself, it is morally impossible that he should be saved. And, my hearers, can we want proof of this ? Alas! we find it near at hand-in our own hearts. Is there any one motive which we can conceive, that God does not this day present to our minds to lead us to Jesus Christ ? He promises to the believer complete deliverance from the burden and punishment of guilt, his continual protection and blessing in this life, and beyond the grave an immortality of bliss. Why, then, do any of us reject the Saviour ? Why is it that we cannot go to Christ, unless drawn thither by the Spirit of God? Let conscience an
A few reflections, by way of improvement, will conclude this discourse.
In the first place, how careful should we be not to reject or pervert the doctrine of a Divine influence, because it is attended with some apparent difficulties ! It is the part of wisdom and good sense to be humble and modest. The greater the progress made by the philosopher in intellectual improvement, the greater reason, has he to pause and admire the wonders, and even mysteries, of creation. As we advance also in the knowledge of Divine truth, we should learn to bow with the most complete prostration of soul before the infinite and eternal One, and to exclaim, with devout humility,
that, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts."
You have seen, my brethren, that the drawing spoken of in our text is every way worthy of God, and suited to man, as a rational, accountable, and withal sinful, being. Do not, I beseech you, let any seeming difficulties which may attend the subject, and which result from our weak and limited understandings, and, perhaps, too often from our wayward hearts, lead you to despise or resist that influence which is necessary to lead us to Jesus Christ.
In the second place, if it be true that the Spirit of God acts through the instrumentality of truth and motives, how dreadful is the situation of those who neglect the public ministration of God's word, and the frequent and careful perusal of the sacred Scriptures! These are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ." In them we learn the character of God, and of his Son. In them we behold, as in a glass, our own deformity and guilt. In them are placed before us the most cogent motives which can be drawn either from the joys of heaven or the pains of hell, to induce us to lay hold of the hope which is set before us in the Gospel. He, therefore, who wilfully closes his eyes against this Divine light; who makes the Bible, as to himself, a sealed book ; who endeavours to escape from the very hearing of the proclamation of peace ; how can he expect aught of God, but an
entire withdrawment of his restraining grace, and a complete abandonment to sin and ruin?
In the third place, If the influences of the Holy Spirit are not usually to be distinguished from the operations of our own minds; or, in other words, if we can discover them only in their effects by their directing and controling our thoughts, emotions and purposes ; how watchful should Christians be over their own hearts ! “Every good gift and every perfect gift, my brethren, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." To God are you indebted for all your moments of sober thought on the vanities of this life, and the awful realities of the future. Do
you ever, amid the busy and fascinating scenes of the world, chide yourselves for consenting too much to its spirit, and imbibing too readily its maxims ? Does conscience ever smite you for yielding to a temptation or neglecting a duty, which, in the view of the world, is too insignificant to demand the notice of your moral judgment ? Are you sometimes inclined, even amid your cares and business, to direct the eye of faith to your heavenly Father, and to supplicate the continuance of his mercy and his grace ? Resist' not, I beseech you, these heavenly suggestions. Grieve not the Holy Spirit, who thus calmly and silently leads your thoughts heavenward, and sheds abroad his love and
hearts. Do not rest satisfied with those Divine influences, which purify and elevate the holy soul in its secret retirements or seasons of social devotion. God is ever with you, although
you see him not ; his grace is ever ready for those who sincerely seek it, although the nature of its operation may elude their research. Watch over your hearts, then, that they may become fit temples for the residence of the Holy Spirit. So shall you be more and more cheered in this pilgrimage of trial, by the constant presence and guidance of God, until you reach at last the holy city, the new Jerusalem, where “the sun shall be no more your light by day ; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you ; but the Lord shall be unto you an everlasting light, and your God, your glory.”.
Again ; As the influences of the Holy Spirit are usually to be discovered only in their effects upon our own minds, then let the sinner beware how he attempts to stifle the alarms of conscience, to banish sober reflection from his mind, or to check any inclination which he may feel to attend to the things of his everlasting peace. Perhaps, God's Spirit may now be striving with his spirit. Let him dread, then, to resist its monitory suggestions, lest haply he be found fighting against God.
Finally, how deep and entire must be the depravity of the human heart which renders necessary the interposition of God's Spirit to draw sinners unto Jesus Christ. 0 let him who continues to reject the Saviour, ponder well this momentous and alarming truth : it is one which our Saviour uttered in the hearing of his unbelieving countrymen : “Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life !” “No man can come to me, except the Father, which