« PreviousContinue »
THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT.
1 CORINTHIANS, vi. 15, 19, 20.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ ?
What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
For ye are bought with a price.
your own ?
I do not know that any words could be more suitable than these for our consideration this day. I said some time since that all church ordinances, such as confirmation and the holy communion, had their side of death no less than their side of life; that along with their blessing if used aright, lay their danger if abused. And now as the prospect of our receiving these ordinances is nearer, I would have the sense of this to be present to us more strongly; but I would have us consider also that this double aspect of good and of harm belongs not to particular church ordinances only, but to our whole condition; that the words of the text, which apply to us all, whether we be confirmed next Sunday or no, whether we mean to receive the communion next Sunday or no, yet involve in them the very same truths; we are all the members of Christ, we are all the temples of the Holy Ghost ;—we are all of us no longer our own, but bought with a price; and those things cannot be true of us for nothing.
Even then, if there were any amongst us who in the carelessness of an evil heart were rejoicing in himself, saying, as it were, “I am not to be confirmed next week,-I am not going to receive the communion, what is said of the danger of abusing these ordinances does not concern me;" if, I say, there were any one amongst us who in his own evil heart did in secret breathe such a thought as this; yet let him be told that his rejoicing, as it is most wicked, so is it also most foolish. For though he may not be going to be confirmed, though he may turn his back upon the Lord's table, either wilfully, or because he is too young to approach it, yet still his body is a member of Christ ;-still he is a part of the Holy Ghost's temple, still he is not his own, but bought with a price; so that Christ's hand is upon him still, and it is in vain that he would in a manner stand aside amongst mere spectators, as if he did in no sort belong to Him. Let him deny
his part in Christ ever so loudly, and all that he can gain by it is that he will be considered by Christ, not as His redeemed and loving disciple, but as His murmuring and rebellious slave.
But why should we suppose that Christ's mercies will be rejected, and his service disclaimed? It surely need not and will not be so in every case; there must be some to whom it is a pleasure rather than a terror to hear that they are not their own but Christ's; that their bodies belong to Him, and that in them the Holy Ghost has His temple. It should indeed be a pleasure to hear this, yet is it also an awful pleasure; for it is an evil thing to dishonour Christ's body, and to profane God's temple.
God so declaring His love to us, so claiming us as His own, so dwelling amongst us and in us, surely there is a great encouragement to us to come before Him with our earnest prayers, that what he claims as His own He will for ever keep 80,—that the body and soul which He has vouchsafed to dwell in once. He will not depart from as He did from Shiloh or from Jerusalem, but will abide in them as His living temple for ever.
And I have good hopes that many in the past week have so prayed, have opened their hearts in some degree to God, have tried to obtain His assistance. If they have not prayed readily it is no wonder; we know not what we should pray for as
we ought; and if the time which we had was short, and the exercise was at all strange to us, we may not have known well what first to put forward, or in what shape to present our hearts towards God. Nay, we may feel our hearts themselves to be a tangled mass which we do not well understand, desiring and not desiring, sincere we hope, yet careless we know too well, and very feeble. If we repeat the prayers of a book, that does not seem to help us in the way we want, yet for our own prayers we find no easy utterance. I can conceive that some when they may have set themselves to pray in private, may have yet been perplexed and unsatisfied, and scarcely have known what to say to God, or whether their words expressed the real wants of their souls or no. It is to such a state of mind I suppose, –a state which I can well conceive in the young, or in any whose life and habits have led them but little to reflection; whose eyes and thoughts have been turned outwards ever, and not inwards; it is to such a state I believe that we may apply a passage in the eighth chapter of the Romans, a passage which seems mysterious and vague it may be to some persons, but which I think is full of the deepest comfort for any who are in the condition which I have been describing: “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities,” says St. Paul; “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” If we are perplexed in our prayers, not knowing what to say, ill able to read our own heart's desire truly; yet if we are really wishing for God's help, if we have thrown ourselves as it were at His feet, then that vague and indistinct desire for help has One who purifies it, and presents it before God; and if we feel beset with the perplexity of our condition, and find no word of utterance, yet the Spirit of God speaks for us in our very silence, and intercedes for us acceptably. Think not that
have presented yourselves before God for nothing, because you could not tell Him clearly all that you wanted; still it was an act of accepted prayer,
. distinct before God and effectual; God saw in you Christ's redeemed, and heard in you the intercession of His Holy Spirit.
I would not be misunderstood in this matter, nor give to any bold or careless spirit any false encouragement. Yet it happens many times that we ourselves, even in questioning some of you, find that you can ill put out your meaning, that your knowledge is very imperfect, and the power of applying it no less so; we perceive a want of force and clearness in your notions which we cannot at once remedy. Now I am only supposing this to be the case with one whose heart is yet honest, who does wish to come to God, and to turn from