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house at the Pentecost. Revivals take advantage of the social principle in man. They are usually promoted by the consecutive and continuous preaching of the word; by efforts to absorb the public attention of a congregation, and getting the public conscience of a community in habitual contact with the doctrines and claims of divine truth. The Spirit's work is according to the laws of mind, and the success of the word, on the generic principle of success in respect to any other public and general object. Christians must unite in it with a suitable spirit of dependence, prayerfulness, and active ity. False gods must be put away out of Zion, and truth must have free access to the minds of men, and they be brought to habitual and unembarrassed consideration of the high behests of religion.
7. The failure of revivals is not to be attributed to the sovereign withholding of the influences of the Spirit of God. The reasons of “ Zion's captivity ” are on earth, and not in heaven. The hinderances are here, or from satanic instigation ; they lie in the church, in the ministry, in the diversion of the public mind, or some defective use of the means, appointed of God for salvation, or more success would attend the word, and more hearts submit. Some special obstacle is in the way often, some secret Achan in the camp, or some open and sanctioned iniquity, which obstructs the word and causes it to become un profitable. On the part of Heaven, all is ready-ever ready. We know not how to understand the character of God, and the grand features of the economy
if this be not so. The parables of Christ, and the instructions of apostles, announce this truth : the standing invitations of the gospel contain it. We would give emphasis to this statement, and say again,
, that the failure of the word is to be viewed from the direction of the obstructions of earth, and not of the inscrutable purpose and will of Heaven. There are laws of moral influence, and they obtain in relation to this subject : let them be complied with, and results will follow, such as the gospel contemplates and Pentecost witnessed. The parable of the sower presents
this truth in happy contrast with that sentiment of dependence which resolves the want of success in the administration of the word, and the dearth of revivals, into the issue, that " the time is not come to build the house of the Lord.”
8. Resistance of the Spirit is a prominent sin of Christendom. “ To apply the inerits of the redemption purchased by Christ,” is the office-work of the Spirit. The New Testament refers to him as an abiding agent with the means of grace, and, for aught that is known, his presence may be coextensive with the application of those means. Few, it is believed, pass through probation, under the light of the gospel, without sharing his influences. Few go on to a state of confirmed iniquity, and are given up of God to the way of their own heart, and to the condemnation to which it leads, without “ resisting the Holy Ghost," and impinging on this ultimate provision of mercy. Multitudes, now in their sins, would before this have been rejoicing in Christ, but for the abuse of conscience, and “doing despite to the Spirit of grace.” The Saviour sublimely prefigures the idea we would present, in his apostrophe to Jerusalem : “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ! how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not : behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Finally. The doctrine of the Spirit is the grand encouragement of the minister of the gospel in “commending himself, through manifestation of the truth, to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
Truth, conscience, and the Spirit's influence, are correlates, in respect to the issue, termed conversion. Without the truth, there would be no intelligence in it; without the moral sense, no responsibility would attach to it, and without the Spirit, it would never be effected. Truth is the instrument, and conscience the medium, of the Spirit's influence in changing the will, and securing in it, and in human experience, all that redemption contemplates. Sanctification is through the truth ;" conviction is conviction of it in the conscience, and conversion is the first right movement of the will in view of it. Such is the state of man in sin ; so many and
prevalent the counter influences of propensity and habit, that this movement of will is never secured as the unaided result of truth, manifested to the conscience. The mercisul economy of the Spirit supervenes; the promise of God and the hope of Zion are associated with the co-operating and effectual agency of the Holy Ghost, with the means divinely appointed. Even this ultimate provision of mercy will be resisted by many of our race, the acme of whose guilt and condemnation will be, that they have not only " trodden under foot the Son of God, but have done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure.” All will not resist the Spirit. Multitudes have been, and multitudes more will be, begotten of Him through the truth. The word of God shall accomplish that whereunto he sends it, and an innumerable company, which no man can number, return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy on their heads.
NECESSITY OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST.
It has often formed a very noticeable part of human experience, that the renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit has greatly altered many of the religious ideas of the understanding. This result is an effect, indeed, to be expected in all cases of infidelity, wherein ideas of falsehood had previously controlled the mind. In all such cases, it seems to lie among the very first operations of the Divine Spirit to sweep away those refuges of lies, in which the carnal heart has entrenched itself; and, by enlightening the understanding with truth, to prepare a sinner to take part with the Holy Spirit against himself, when that Spirit strives to make him sensible of his guilty and miserable condition. Truth, not error, is the instrument
of the Holy Ghost ; and as long as the understanding is enveloped in darkness or misled by error, it is not to expected that the heart will yield to the Spirit of God.
But the idea which we desire to express, lies beyond this. There is a class of divine truths, which, in their full significance and in their true bearing, never reach the understanding, only as they reach it through the medium of the heart. There is a necessity of a sanctifying experience, down among the affections, in the inner chambers of the heart, in order to make some truths fully known; and therefore, not errorists, infidels, and the ignorant only, experience the introduction into the mind of some new ideas when they are converted to God; but the same kind of experience is common in some degree, to all men, who become new creatures in Christ.
These new ideas, which enter the mind through the channel of a sanctifying experience, are not, indeed, so much novelties in themselves, as in their extent of significance, their connection and importance. They are not so much new truths coming into the mind, as old ones coming into it in a new and just way. They are just the results of experience; and they compare with ideas entertained aside from religious experience, just as our merely theoretical ideas compare with experimental ones, on any other subject. If they are the same ideas in their nature, they are so different in their extent, their vividness, and their mode of conception, and their influences, that they appear to the mind itself as almost entirely new. A blind man may have just ideas on the subject of light-a deaf man on the subject of sound; but in both cases, they are signally defective. And in both cases, is the organs were restored, the experience of eyes and ears would wonderfully modify and extend all previous notions. There would be new ideas in reference to truths darkly known before, and ideas more vivid, more certain, and more extensive. Experience in religion is as instructive as experience in any thing else.
That class of divine truths, in respect to which the human mind is especially led, by the sanctifying influences of the Divine Spirit, to entertain ideas new to it, ideas more just than former ones, is precisely that class of truths, which has immediate regard to the work of a sinner's redemption. The love of God, operating to save sinners through the sacrifice of his Son, is the very heart of the gospel. Any candid reader of the New Testament cannot fail to discern this. And the very essence, therefore, of that religion which the gospel demands, and which alone can save sinners, must lie just in meeting God on his own grounds, and taking him at his own proposals— just in requiting his love and trusting in the blood of his Son. Indeed the New Testament in all its precepts, promises, threatenings and comfortings, constantly directs our attention to one central spot—that spot where hangs the dying Victim of redeeming love. So that true religion, through the whole field of its exercise, has and must have the whole of its life-spring, its beginning, its continuance, its direction, comfort, and aims, from a just estimation of Chist's redemption, and a just accordance with it. And in this estimation and accordance consists the difference between a religious and an irreligious man. By faith a sinner will be led into new and just ideas respecting the great work of Jesus Christ our Lord.
And perhaps there is no one point on which the human mind is more prone to err in its unbelief, and a just understanding of which is of more moment, and on which the experiences of a sanctified heart produce more new or altered ideas, than the sufferings of Christ. His sufferings, prominent as they stand in the gospel, and interwoven as they are through all its framework, and constituting as they do the very life-spring of every item of its hope, are very seldom regarded justly till unbelief yields to faith. And it ought not to be overlooked, that in the more mature stages of Christian sanctification, when the mind becomes more enlightened, the heart more tender, the conscience more sensitive and strict, and the walk in life more careful and more comfortable, invariably the sufferings of Christ is an idea that hangs around the mind constantly, and at every stage assumes an influence more important, more efficacious, more sweet, subduing, and tender. Old and established Christians, ripe for heaven, and