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which he solicits Divine help will evidence his persuasion both of its truth and importance. He will unite cordially with the congregation of the faithful in praying for the teaching and influence of the Holy Ghost.
This leads us to consider the earnest petition of our collect, that God's “Spirit may in all things “ direct and rule our hearts, through Jesus Christ
Lord.” Herein we shall be led to consider -The blessing which we implore—And the extent of that blessing.
The blessing which we implore is the direction and governance of our hearts by God's Holy Spirit.
1. We implore Divine direction, that we may know the will of God, and be guided in it. Of our privileges and duties we are intirely ignorant, but so far as we are “ taught of God.” This is evident from the confessions and prayers both of Old and New Testament saints, from the promises of Scripture, and from the office of the Holy Ghost as it is therein described. The Scripture itself will not avail to our direction in the path of duty and peace without the illumination of that Spirit who inspired and indited it: not through any defect in the information given us in the Bible, but through a defect in our moral powers whereby we are incapacitated for discerning and using that information. The Scripture indicates our path; but we must have eyes to see it, or light will avail nothing. Now our spiritual eyesight is so impaired by the fall, that Divine interposition is required for its restoration to its office. Do we feel our need of direction by God's Holy Spirit ? Do we indeed seek it? Are we determined to follow it as it is aflorded to us? Are we convinced thut without it we are sure to mistake
our way, and can never know “how to walk and 6 to please God?”
2. We implore Divine governance. It is not enough that light be shed abroad in our understandings, unless Divine “Love" be also “shed « abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given “ unto us." For to know is one thing, and to practise what we know is another. Temptations to err and stray from the path of duty are too strong, and the natural bias of our will to evil is too inveterate to be overcome by mere information of right and wrong. The will must be converted. God must not only give us “ the
spirit of a sound mind,” but also “ the spirit “ of love and of power." He must not only “open our eyes,” but he must actually “turn o us from darkness to light, and from the power “ of Satan unto Himself.” And this conversion of the heart, like the antecedent direction of the judgment, must be a continued and increasing act of Divine grace. For we are not, in the highest state of sanctification attainable on earth, like a well-constructed watch which, when it is wound up, will go right for a considerable length of time. But we rather resemble a ship at sea, which requires continual impulse from the wind as well as direction from the rudder, in order to maintain its course and perform its voyage to the
Without the former it will be the sport of the waves and be carried away by the current, notwithstanding the skill of the most consummate steersman. We must “live in the • Spirit," and “walk in the Spirit," if we would please God.
The extent of the blessing which we implore is very great. It is to run parallel with every step we take, or rather to be interwoven with every
act we perform. For we pray, that the “ Holy “ Spirit may IN ALL THINGS direct and rule our « hearts.” There are persons who suppose (and if we may judge from the spirit and conduct of many professors, their number cannot be small) that we have nothing to do with God except in the performance of religious duties. But, in fact, every action ought to be considered as a religious duty; for « whether we eat,
or drink, or whatever we do,” we are required to “ do all to the glory of God.” Our whole man, body, soul, and spirit; all our thoughts, words, and actions, ought to be devoted to God. To make His love our constant motive, His word our invariable rule, and His glory in all things our end, is our privilege as well as our duty; and we can be happy only in proportion as we do so. We want the teaching and governance of the Holy Spirit in order that we may perform aright the common actions of life, as well as our more holy duties. I cannot buy or sell, eat or drink, labour or rest from labour, walk in the way, or sit in the house, on right motives and for right purposes, unless niy heart be “ directed and ruled” by God the Holy Ghost.
We pray that the “ Holy Spirit may in all " things direct and rule our hearts;" but do we mean what we say? May not the address of our Lord to the sons of Zebedee be renewed with propriety to many who recite our collect? “ Ye know not what ye ask.” Is there nothing, in which we should wish to be exempt from the direction and governance of the Holy Ghost? Let us look into the word of God, the standard by which the direction and governance of the Spirit is conducted; and then turn our eyes
inwardly on our hearts, and outwardly on our lives, for the purpose of determining the sincerity or insincerity with which we offer up this petition. Is there no sin we wish to cherish? -no duty we wish to shun?-no idol which we would shelter from destruction ?-no sacrifice which we would avoid? Do we desire to live only and wholly in the service and to the glory of God? Oh, let us see that our prayers be not the sacrifice of the hypocrite, which is an abomination in the sight of God!
The genuine believer clearly perceives the propriety of this prayer, and cordially joins in it. He would in all things please God. He feels his own inability to do it. He therefore implores Divine direction and governance. Let him not be discouraged. It is the office of the Holy Ghost to direct and rule the hearts of the redeemed; an office in which He delights, and which He has engaged by the covenant of grace to fulfil. The blessing which we implore, great and glorious as it is, is asked “ through Jesus “ Christ our Lord.” It is a purchased benefit, a benefit secured to “ the heirs of salvation" by the unchanging love of God the Father, the meritorious death of God the Son, and the abiding inhabitation of God the Holy Ghost.
THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O almighty and most merciful God, of the bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us ; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
YALVATION is a continued act of Divine
grace on the part of God its author, and the continued object of the believer's desire and expectation. Pardon and sanctification are daily needful to the peace and purity of the awakened soul, and are daily to be derived from God by faith and prayer. It is no wonder therefore that the Christian is found, day after day, in the posture of a supplicant, at the footstool of the mercy-seat, seeking fresh communications from the “ bountiful goodness” of Him who sitteth upon it.
In our present collect we implore Divine prom tection, and state the end for which we desire it. In the petition,-We acknowledge our exposure to injury-Declare our conviction of our inability to keep ourselves Of our intire dependence on God-Of the importance of being preserved-And avow a good hope, through grace, that we shall be kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.
By praying to be kept from “ things that may “ hurt us,” we acknowledge our exposure to injury. Of this the awakened mind is conscious,