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66 Thousands and thousands were melted down under the word and power of God." I forbear to speak of more recent days. Most of you are familiar with the fact, that, since the commencement of the present century, it has been not an unfrequent occurrence, for widelyextended communities in this country, thus to be refreshed with the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
We may, therefore, very reasonably expect, that, if the people of God in this city with one heart seek and obtain a baptism of the Holy Ghost, not a few hundreds only, but thousands and tens of thousands will be born again Nothing else will save these crowds, that are pressing on to destruction. We must be baptized with the Spirit, or they will surely perish. Oh! for a speedy and mighty outpouring !
IV. WHAT, THEN, WILL SECURE it?
1. Extraordinary prayer.—God says, in reference to the rising glory of the church, “I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." Hear how he calls upon his people thus to seek and secure this blessing. “ Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Look, too, at his promise ;-—" When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in the high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.” Compare this promise with that given to the believer, in reference to the Holy Spirit, under the image of “rivers of living waters." In respect to what, was the promise given, “ Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full ?" And to what did the Saviour refer, when he said, “Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ?" You have the answer in close connexion ;-." If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?" Yes, this, the greatest, richest blessing that even God can bestow, he has pledged himself to give to them that ask him.
Look now at the conduct of the apostles, and you find them acting in accordance with this belief. They had received the immutable promise, “ Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.” The Saviour, moreover, had told them, “Wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of me.” But how did they wait? Was it enough for them that the Saviour had told them that the day was at hand? No doubt they believed his word, and this was proof enough for them that the baptism would come. But they seemed to have understood that there was a close connexion between extraordinary prayer, and the fulfilment of the promise. “Then returned they unto Jerusalem, and all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” And at the very time when “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, they were all with one accord in one place.” Livingston spent a large portion of the night before preaching the sermon at Shotts, with some Christians, in prayer and conference. Whitefield spent two hours in special prayer the night before he was ordained.
In the early part of his ministry, he had great comfort in meeting every evening with a band of Christians to spend an hour in prayer for the success of the gospel, and for all their acquaintauce, so far as they knew their circumstances. In this he had uncommon satisfaction. Sometimes whole nights were spent
Often,” he says, “have I seen them overwhelmed with the Divine presence, and crying out, Will God, indeed, dwell with men upon earth ?" Sometimes at midnight, after he had been wearied with the labors of the day, he found his strength renewed in this exercise. Such were the sources whence this wonderful man drew his amazing power.
To secure, then, this gift--the Baptism of the Holy Ghost-we must pray, and plead, and wrestle. We must pray, not intermittently, but " without ceasing.' The prayer that we offer must be prayer indeed—the breathing of the soul-the full beating of the heart. It must be uncommon, persevering, believing, ardent, importunate. In a word, it must be the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous.
2. But more. We must make an extraordinary, unreserved consecration of our souls to Christ. It can scarcely be questioned, that this was done by the apostles repeatedly, during those ten days in which they were waiting for the promise of the Father.” Whitefield, at the moment of his ordination, thus gave himself away
his Redeemer. “I offered up," he says, “my whole spirit, soul, and body, to the service of God's sanctuary." Thirty-five years afterwards, he made the declaration, “I call God to witness, (and I must be a cursed devil and hypocrite, to stand here in the pulpit, and provoke God to strike me dead for lying,) that I never had the love of the world, and never felt it, one quarter of an hour in my heart, since I was twenty years old.” And, truly, his life was a most abundant confirmation of this statement.
Of Mrs. Edwards it is related that, previous to those seasons already spoken of, in which her soul overflowed with joy, she was led again and again to make a new and most solemn dedication of herself to the service and glory of God, an entire renunciation of the world, and a resignation of all to God. This was done repeatedly for several years, and at each time followed for a long period by “a degree of spiritual light and enjoyment, which seemed to be, in reality, an anticipation of the joys of the heavenly world.”
Such, too, was the consecration made of himself, by James Brainard Taylor, on the memorable day in which he was baptized with the Holy Ghost--a day to which he ever after looked back as the most important era in his Christian life. “I had,” he says,
an in. creasing desire that the Lord would visit me, and fill my soul with the Holy Ghost-my cry to him was, 'seal my soul for ever thine.' My earnest desire then was, as it had been ever since I professed religion six years before, that all love of the world might be destroyed -all selfishness extirpated-pride banished--unbelief removed-all idols dethroned-every thing hostile to holiness, and opposed to the divine will, crucified ; that holiness to the Lord might be engraven on my heart, and evermore characterize my conversation. At this very juncture, I was delightfully conscious of giving up ALL to God. I was enabled in my heart to say, 'Here, Lord, take me, take my whole soul, and seal me thine-thine now, and thine for ever.' There then ensued such emotions as I never before experienced-all was calm, tranquil, silent, solemn-and a heaven of love pervaded my whole soul. I had a witness of God's love to me, and of mine to him. I was dissolved in tears of love and gratitude to our blessed Lord. He came as King, and took full possession of my heart. Since that blessed season, I have enjoyed times of refresh.
O, the peace
ment, in which I have obtained nearer access to God. which I have had, and joy in the Holy Ghost! It has flowed as a river. I have been happy in my Lord : I have exulted in the God of my salvation."
Such is the testimony of those who, being dead, yet speak. Who will go and do likewise ? Here-now-at this table of the Lord ? Yes, give to him your all for time and eternity. It is only thus that you can know what is meant by the riches of full assurance. Let not the worldly professor think that he can grasp the world and fill his heart with it, and at the same time have these ravishing joys. Oh, no! it is a vain hope. Let go your hold of the world ; tread it under your feet ; empty your heart, and bid the Holy Spirit welcome. And do it for eternity. Do you wish such a baptism ? Wish it! How can you not? Can it be possible that there is here one bloodwashed soul, that does not wish to experience this "joy unspeakable and full of glory ?" What! a Christian, and yet content to live so far from Christ? A Christian, and yet no ardent desire to have the Spirit come thus to dwell without a rival in your heart ?
It cannot be! .
You are deceiving yourself. “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
Is it then desirable that Christians should have such large measures of love and joy—that hypocrites should be alarmed, and aroused from their delusions—and that thousands of perishing souls should be born again? Then, how immensely important that you and I, that every Christian should enjoy a baptism from above ! Without it, it is in vain for us to attempt to bring dying sinners to Christ. Oh seek an extraordinary baptism. Look for a mighty outpouring. The Spirit is now descending. We feel that he is near, Others feel it ;
'A rill, a stream, a torrent flows,
But pour a mighty food!
Till all proclaim thee God.”
V. WHEN MAY WE LOOK FOR THIS WONDROUS BLESSING ? Not of course until we are waiting for it by prayer and entire consecration to the service of God. “ Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. “ It is not for you to know the times
or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” God knows best when to manifest himself in great power—when his glorious visit will be most suitable and most appreciated.
“Not many days hence." The promised blessing will come. “Though it tarry, wait for it. For yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you. For the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in ; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."
But will he come to you? to this church? Are you waiting, looking, praying ? Have you made the full and joyful consecration ? Can you now say, “My Redeemer is mine, and I am his?" Oh! 66 the boundless bliss !" “ Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence."
Let this spirit of extraordinary prayer, and entire consecration, pervade the hearts of Christians extensively, and soon, very soon, will copious showers of Divine influence descend on all the churches, allaying, at once, all unhallowed passions and prejudices, introducing every where the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and quickening into life and vigor a thousand sacred charities, to bless the world and bring honor to the Redeemer. Come, then, thou blessed Spirit, come quickly. Amen.