« PreviousContinue »
fruits and effects, which he hath wrought in us: which when we discern and perceive, we do or may from thence conclude that we are the sons of God, those fruits and effects being the sure badge and livery of his children. 2dly, by enlightening our understandings, and assisting the faculties of our souls, as need requires, to discern those gracious fruits and effects which he hath wrought in us. In this way of explanation, and in no other, it is easy to understand the concurrence of God's Spirit and our spirit in this witness or testimony, that “ we are the sons of God," and so beirs of salvation; and wbat part each of them hath therein. The Spirit of God hath the main and principal part; for it is that Spirit which produces those graces in us which are the evidence of our adoption: it is He, who, as occasion requires, illuminates our understandings, and assists our memories, in discerning and recollecting those arguments of hope and comfort within ourselves. But then our spirits or understandings have their share in this testimony too. For God's Spirit doth witness, not without, but with, our spirits and understandings, so that our spirits concur and cooperate, and act their part in this matter too; we making use of our reason and upderstanding, in considering and reflecting upon those grounds of comfort, which the Spirit of God hath wrought in us, and from them drawing this comfortable conclusion to ourselves, that “ we are the sons of God.”
Bishop Bull. The terms of scripture represent the Spirit of God as an assisting, not a forcing power ; as not suspending our own powers, but enabling them; as imparting strength and faculty for our religious work, if we will use them ; but, whether we will use them or not, still depending on ourselves. Agreeably bereunto St. Paul asserts that there is no condemnation to them who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The promise is, not to them wbo have the Spirit, but to them who walk after the Spirit. “To walk after the flesh," is to follow wherever the impulses of sensuality and selfishness lead us, which is a voluntary act.“ To walk after the spirit,” is steadily and resolutely to obey good motions within us, whatever they cost us; which also is a voluntary act. All the language of this remarkable chapter (Rom. viii.) proceeds in the same
strain : namely, that after the Spirit of God is given, it remains and
The Gospel is designed to be the channel through which the Divine Spirit conveys his enlightening influences to the minds of God's elect people; and having, in the preceding article, contemplated the operations of the Holy Spirit, we will now direct our attention to the Gospel, as the usual means by which men are brought from “ the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son."
The original commission, given by our adorable Redeemer to the first publishers of the Gospel, is recorded with great precision by the Evangelist, as follows:
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not,
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye bave received, freely give.
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses;
Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves : for the workman is worthy of his meat,
And into whatsoever city or town ye sball enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
And when ye come to an house, salute it:
And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words; when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your
Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha, in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
But beware of men : for they will scourge you in their synagogues.
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a ti;stimony against them and the Gentiles.
But when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same lour what ye shall speak.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which
speaketh in you.
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another :
for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come. Matt. x. 5—20, 23.
And again, we find it written :
And they went forth, and preached everywhere; the Lord work. ing with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. Mark xvi. 15, 16, 20.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Acts viii. 4.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ. Acts v. 42.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
And passing through, he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cesarea. Acts viii, 5, 35, 40.
Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus, and straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. And how he bad preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Acts ix. 19, 20, 27.
Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and rise again from the dead ; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Cbrist.
And be commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead. Acts x. 36–42.
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come;
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. Acts xxvi. 21-23,
We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us wbich are saved it is the power of God.
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, 1 Cor. i. 18-21.
What then ? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice ; yea, and will rejoice. Pbil. j. 18.
The Gospel is frequently in the New Testament compared to light; and it did in nothing more resemble light than in this, that as soon as the heavenly doctrine therein contained arose upon the world, it darted its bright rays and diffused its quickening influence from east to west with an inconceivable rapidity. The kingdom of God came not with observation, neither could men say, “ Lo, bere ! or Ln, there !” Luke xvii. 20, 21. i. e, it did not establish itself, like other kingdoms, in a slow and leisurely manner, so that men might trace it from its rise through the several steps of its progress; but fixed itself at once, almost everywhere, with so rapid and amazing a course, as did, as it were, leave the eyes and observations of men behind it. And still, as it went along, it gained mighty spoils from all religions, and gathered vast multitudes of every country under its banners. And it is most clear that this snccess of the Gospel was miraculous, and chiefly owing to the wighty operations of the Holy Spirit of God; for the natural and visible causes, which concurred to the production of this great effect, were not any ways equal to the effect produced, and therefore soine supernatural and invisible cause must needs have given birth to it.
The appearing causes and instruments of this wonderful revolu. tion
were, chiefly, twelve men, of obscure birth and plain understandings, without learning, eloquence, or experience. These men set out from Jerusalem, with the design of altering the settled babits, the inveterate prejudices, the established rites and religions of all countries. They dispersed themselves through all quarters of the earth, and they succeeded everywhere, prevailing with great multia tudes, in a very short time, in every nation and kingdom, to submit to the laws, and to own the religion of Jesus. Here was no manner