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carefully distinguishes the wisdom which is from above, by its holy and sanctifying nature, from that wisdom, which is " earthly, sensual, and devilish;" as well as a living from a dead faith, by the holy obedience that accompanies it
But our divine Instructor has not left us to form our own conclusions from this general language: for he hath shewn us in what manner the Father teaches and draws the sinner to come to him. -" When the Com“ forter is come, he shall convince the world of sin, of
righteousness, and of judgment.”—“He shall lead
you into all truth.”—“He shall glorify me; for he u shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you Under the illuminating and convincing influences of the holy Spirit, sinners become acquainted with their own true character and real situation: and thus the discove' ery of their guilt, pollution, danger, and helpless misery in themselves, prepares them for perceiving the nature and value of the salvation of Christ. Then he becomes glorious in their eyes, and precious to their hearts : they consider him as the Pearl of great price, yea of inestimable value. « What things were gain to them, they now • count to be loss for Christ." The fear of being rejected by him overpowers all other fears, and is frequently the source of permanent anxiety. The desire of his salvation, and of the felicity which they conceive his people to enjoy, overcomes their love of worldly objects. They are thus prepared to forsake all for Christ: and no important secular interest, no beloved relative, no, not even life itself, is so precious in their deliberate practical judgment, as the loving Saviour of lost sinners. In proportion as the Holy Spirit presents the things which pertain to him and his salvation, before one, who is thus taught of God, and drawn by the Father, all these affections are uniformly excited and invigorated : yet the very same things, when plainly set before the proud and carnal minds of unregenerate sinners, awaken contempt, enmity, and blasphemous rage. And is not that influence, which produces so entire a revolution in
James i. 16, 17. ii. 14-26. jii. 13-18. 2 Joha xvi. 8, 15.
tlie judgment and affections of those who experience it, of an holy nature? No doubt, while the truth is made to shine before the sinner's understanding, his heart also is prepared to love and welcome it.
This was exemplified on the day of Pentecost; when the Spirit was poured from on high, not only on the apostles, but likewise on the multitude. The very persons, whom Peter most justly charged with having wick-' culy crucified the promised Messiah, being “pricked in " their heart, said, Men and brethren, what shall we “ do?" And being instructed and exhorted by the apostle, “ they gladly received the word, and were bap
tized in the name of Jesus.” They were convinced of their exceedingly aggravated guilt in crucifying the Lord of glory; and not merely alarmed by the dread of punishinent; they “ repented and did works meet for re“ pentance:” Christ was glorified in their hearts, and they believed in him as their Lord and Saviour.--But there were others who were cut to the heart by similar addresses of the apostles; yet, not being humbly sensible of their guilt and danger, they were only the more enraged by their convictions.--When Stephen disputed with the Jews, not being able to resist the spirit and wisdom with which he spake, they had recourse to per secution: nay, when his persecutors could neither answer his arguments, nor endure his expostulations, they ' gnashed upon him with their teeth, stopped their
ears," and stoned him without delay. Now who can doubt, but that they who gladly received the word, had experienced a gracious change of heart by the power
of the Holy Spirit: while the others, though surrounded with light and tormented with convictions, were left to the natural enmity of their proud and carnal minds !!
Let us consider another example of the effects produced by these influences. The jailor at Philippi had cruelly abused Paul and Silas, and had exceeded his commission by thrusting them into the inner prison, and making their feet fast in the stocks; (for he might
1 Acts ii. 37, 38. lii. 1926. iv. 1-4.v. 33. vi. 10, 11, vii. 54-59. have kept them safely without all this severity :) and he had afterwards attempted to murder himself. But he was at length convinced, by means of what he heard and saw, that, “ these were the servants of the most high “ God, who shewed to men the way of salvation.” Under this conviction, “ he called for a light, and sprang “ in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul “ and Silas :" and in the first instance, before he proposed to them his interesting enquiry," he brought “ them out of the stocks,” and the inner prison, into some convenient place. The event proved, that his convictions were produced by the agency of the Holy Spirit: and the jailor's conduct manifested, that he was not merely terrified, but also humbled and sorry for his sins; and especially that he heartily repented of the cruel usage, which the prisoners had received from him, as he made them all the amends of which the circumstances would then admit.This done, “ he cried out, “ Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?" and they answered, “ believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be " saved." And when they had further instructed him and his family in the nature of Christianity, he embraced that despised and persecuted religion, professed his faith by receiving baptism, ventured all consequences in thus joining himself to the hated sect of the Christians, shewed every kindness to Paul and Silas, and was filled with
peace and joy in believing." -This is a fair specimen of the nature and tendency of those convictions, by which sinnners are brought to believe in Christ. The jailor's faith was evidently connected with repentance, of which he shewed some tokens and produced some fruits, before he understood the plan of salvation revealed in the gospel, and when he had merely a general belief that he might be forgiven and saved. The further and more explicit exercise of faith, when it was fixed on Christ the Saviour; worked by love of him and his servants; overcame the love of the world and the fear of the cross; and purified his heart from the pride, enmity, and selfishness which before had reigned there: without controul.
But let us contrast this example, with that of Felix, a sinner of high rank, before whom Paul, again a prisoner, “ reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judg
ment to come. For he also trembled: but the love of sin caused him to hate the light; and he sent the ambassador of heaven, to the authority of whose message his conscience bore painful testimony, back to the dungeon, saying, “ Go thy way at this time, when I “ have a convenient opportunity, I will call for thee. “ He hoped also that money should have been given “ him of Paul, that he might Joose him: wherefore he “ sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.“ But after two years, Portius Festus came in Felix'
room, and Felix, willing to shew the jews a pleasure, 6 left Paul bound.”—It does not appear, that before the memorable night of his conversion, the jailor was at all better disposed to Christianity than Felix: they both were convinced and trembled: but the former, was made partaker of an honest and good heart by new-creating grace, and the good seed of the word took root, sprang up, and brought forth fruit; while the latter continued carnal, covetous, sensual, and at enmity with God, notwithstanding his transient alarm, when the word of truth was sounding in his ears'.
be further illustrated by the case of king Agrippa, who listened to Paul's inimitable defence, and was “ alınost persuaded to be a Christian :" his understanding assented to the cruth, and his conscience was on the part of the Christian Teacher: but his lieart remained under the power of worldly principles; and he still neglected Christ and his salvation. But we are told “ the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended “ to the things which were spoken of Paul.” Now who can doubt, but that there was an essential difference between the heart which the Lord opened, and that which sin and satan closed ??
Thus the apostle informs us that the " veil still re“ maineth on the heart of the unbelieving Jews 3 ;” and for almost 1800 years they have despised, abhorred, and blasphemed the Messiah, to whom their Scriptures so fully bear testimony, and whom their fathers crucified. Yeť the Lord hath declared, ' “ I will pour upon them " the Spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall “ look to me, whom they have pierced, and mourn"." "Then the veil will be taken from their hearts, and they will become penitent believers in the crucified Emmanuel: and who can suppose that this change wrought by the Spirit of grace, by which they are brought to believe in Christ, is any other than regeneration?
1 Acts xvi. 23–34. xxiv. 24–27. 2 Acts xvi. 4. xxvi. 28.
3.2 Cor, iii. 15.
Again the apostle, having shewn the nature of his ministry, and his manner of fulfilling it, adds these remarkable words, If our gospel be hid, it is hid unto them * that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath “ blinded the minds of them that believe not; lest the “ light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, should shine “ into them.” And on the other hand, he states that where the gospel is truly believed, “ God who com“ mandeth the light to shine out of darkness, hath shin-. « ed into the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of “ the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ 2. Hence it is most manifest that the illumination, which is the immediate cause of saving faith in Christ, particularly respects the heart, and prepares it for welcoming those discoveries of the divine glory in the person and salvation of Christ, which the proud and carnal heart despises and hates; and which satan especially hides from those who continue in unbelief. And surely this difference implies, that the one is an holy and the other an unholy state of the affections; the one being regenerate, the, other not.
The same is manifestly implied in our Lord's words, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again; he cannot see the kingdom of God.”_" Except he be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”—That which is born
i Zech, xii. 10.
2 2 Cor. iv.