ROMANS, viii, 9.
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Go dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”

THERE is nought more undeniable, than the antipathy of nature to the peculiar doctrines of the gospel. This, it is likely, may have been felt by many of yourselves, and many have been the devices of human ingenuity, for mitigating the offensive features of the truth as it is in Jesus. We are not sure but that the doctrine, of the Spirit calls out a more painful revolt from the children of this world, thau even the doctrine of the Sacrifice. At least, the attempts and plausibilities have been just as frequent. for explaining it away.

And this, perhaps, is the right place, for adverting to the way in which it has been endeavoured, to make all that is revealed of the Holy Ghost and of His regenerating influence upon man, more palatable than it naturally is to unrenewed taste - more fitted to satisfy the demand which obtains for a religion, that shall be altogether rational and devoid of mystery. Agreeably to this it has been affirmed, that to have the Spirit of God implies no personal visitation by Him upon the soul; and, more particularly, no indwelling on His part in man, as His residence or as His habitation. One, it is thought, may be rightly enough said to have the Spirit of God, if, from any cause whatever, it so happens that there he a resemblance of character and disposition and principle between him and the Divinity - just as any active and devoted philanthropist of our day may be said to have the spirit of Howard, without its ever being imagined, that there has been any transmigration into his body of that soul by which the body of Howard was animated. All that is intended is, that there is a common or kindred character between the one philanthropist and the other - just as we would say of a philosopher, that he had the spirit of Newton; or of a daring conspirator that he had the soul of Catiline.

And thus has it been attempted to gloss over the truth, that there is in the souls of believers an actual occupancy by a Spirit from on high, or even so much as the communication of any influence from the one to the other; and to have the Spirit of God is understood as nothing more, than to be in the possession of godlike excellencies or virtues - that to have the Spirit of Christ is nothing more, than just to have the like mind in us that was also in the Lord Jesus. It is their favourite imagination of the sufficiency of human nature, which attaches them to this style of interpretation. They look upon it as a nature liable to the errors and infirmities of an occasional waywardness - but radically and substantially as sound; and possessed within itself of energies and principles enough, for the attainment of all that spiritual excellence which qualifies for heaven. They deem it to be in the power of ordinary moral suasion from without, to guide and accomplish humanity for the joys of an everlasting state; and they utterly repudiate the conception of any thing so altogether visionary in their eyes, as that of a new and preternatural infusion from above, by which the mind of man is transformed - and an impulse given, diametrically opposite to the bias of those native and original propensities which belong to it. They count, in fact, upon no greater transition, than from what is held base and dishonourable in our world, to what is held in it worthy of moral estimation.

Now the fact is undeniable, that there are very many who stand in no need of any such transition at all; however great the revolution of principle must be, by which, from the creatures of sight and of sense and of mere earthliness, we are led to walk by faith - to be habitually and practically conversant with the things of an unseen world - to hold the concerns of immortality, as paramount to all the pursuits and interests of a fleeting pilgrimage; and, above all, to have a continual respect unto God as the supreme Master both of our affections and of our performances - as the Being with whom we most emphatically have to do.
Now you, I trust, are aware of the necessity of this transition - of the magnitude of that change which all must undergo, ere they are fit for that heaven, the delights and the occupations of which are at such variance with the delights and occupations of this planet, now in a state of exile from heaven’s family. And in proportion as you highly estimate the requisite transformation. so will you highly estimate the requisite power for carrying it into accomplishment; and you will be prepared for all the descriptions which the Bible gives, of the utter helplessness of man in himself for so mighty and decisive a change upon his own constitution - that just as there is nought of energy in a dead body for the revival of itself, but the principle of animation must come to it from without - so we, to be quickened unto a right sense of spiritual things, and to be made alive to the power of them, must be the subjects of a foreign or adventitious influence, which has no original residence in our nature; must be born again; must have the Spirit of God to dwell in us; must be operated upon by an energy as distinct and separate from our own proper selves, as the body of Christ was:

And accordingly are we told in one of these verses, that it is He who raised up Christ from the dead, who also quickens our mortal bodies by the Spirit which dwelleth in us. It is this, in fact, which advances our state from that of being in the flesh to that of our being in the Spirit. We are in the latter state - if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in us. It is upon the entrance of Him, who bloweth where He listeth, that the whole of this great translation hinges; and it is well that you know, in all its certainty and distinctness, what that event is by which we are called out from death unto life - from being one of the children of this world, to being one of the children of God’s kingdom. ‘Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ Still to have the Spirit of Christ is here to be understood, not in the light of our possessing a kindred character to that of Christ, but of our being the subjects of an actual and personal inhabitation by the Spirit. The Spirit of God may be denominated the Spirit of Christ - either because the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son; or, more particularly, because the Son, now that He is exalted at the Father’s right hand, is entrusted with the dispensation of Him.

You know the order of this economy in the work of our redemption. Christ finished on earth the work that was given Him to do. He yielded, in our stead, a perfect obedience to the law of God; and He suffered, in our stead, all the penalties that were annexed to its violation. And having thus wrought our acceptance with God, He attained as His reward, the power of sanctifying all those whom He had saved. That instrument was put into His hands, by which He could wash away the pollution of that sin, whose guilt He had expiated - and by which He could beautify with all the lustre of heaven’s graces, those for whom He had purchased a right of admittance into heaven’s family. Our renewal unto holiness and virtue, is, in fact, part of the fruit of the travail of His soul; and the way in which it is accomplished, is, by the forthgoing of the Spirit at the bidding or will of our exalted Saviour. When He ascended on high, it is said, that He led captivity captive, and obtained gifts for men, even for the rebellious; and the most super-eminent of these gifts is the Holy Spirit. It is through Christ that the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the holy Ghost, are shed upon us abundantly. It is when the Spirit descends upon us, that the power of Christ is said to rest upon us. Hence the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are equivalent, the one to the other.

And as the Saviour uniformly regenerates all whom He redeems - as the conjunction is invariable, between the penalty being lifted off from our persons, and a purifying influence being laid upon our characters - as it is true, even in the moral sense of the term, that if He wash us not we have no part in Him - The truth is inevitable, and cannot be too urgently impressed on all our consciences, that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His. But though it must not be denied, that to have the Spirit of Christ, implies the entrance and the abode of a personal visitor with the soul, yet we have no other way of ascertaining that we have been thus privileged, but by our having become like in character with the Saviour. We can only judge of His being in us, by the impress He has made upon us. He often enters without one note of preparation, like the wind that bloweth where he listeth, and we know not whence he cometh. It is by the fruit alone that we know; and there is not another method of verifying that He has been at work with our souls, but by the workmanship that is manifest thereupon.
So that though to have the Spirit of Christ, be something more than that our Spirit is like unto His - yet it is by the latter only as the effect, that we can infer the operation of the Saviour as the cause. And therefore the question, whether you belong to the Saviour or not, still hinges upon the question_whether there be the same mind in you that was also in the Lord Jesus.

And therefore it is thus that we ought to examine ourselves. That we may know what to pray for, we should advert to the work of God’s Spirit upon our soul - as that by which alone the requisite transformation into another character can take effect upon us. But then to fix and ascertain the question, whether there have been any such work, we have nought to do but to read the lineaments of that character. It is right to be humbled into the impression of our own original and utter worthlessness, as destitute of any good thing; and as wanting the power in ourselves, either to import what is good from abroad, or to raise it from within by any operation which lies within the compass of nature’s mechanism. It is but proper for us to know, that for all that is of spiritual worth or estimation belonging to us, we stand indebted to an influence that is exterior to ourselves, and that comes to us from abroad - so as that each may say with the apostle, “ Nevertheless not me, but the grace of God that is in me.” Yet ought it never to be forgotten, that generally it is by the result of the visitation,and not by any sensible circumstances attendant upon the time of it, that we come to know whether the Spirit of God be really in us or not. It hinges on the question, whether we are like unto God or like unto Christ, who is His image, and was His sensible representative in the world; and thus the most direct way of settling the enquiry, is to compare our character with that of the Saviour - our history with the history and doings of Christ upon earth.

And yet at present we should not like to discourage any, from their intended approach to His sacrament, because of the width and magnitude of that actual dissimilarity, which obtains between their Saviour and themselves. They cannot dare to affirm, that they have yet grown up unto the stature of perfect men in Christ Jesus. They perhaps are nought but humbled and abashed - when they compare their own attainments of patience, and piety, and unwearied beneficence, with those of that high and heavenly exemplar, who is set before them in the gospel. They could not venture to sit down and participate in the coming festival, if the question turned on such a family likeness between them and the Master of the entertainment, as would mark them to be children of the same God, and members of the same spiritual brotherhood; and therefore let us assure them, that their right to place themselves at the table of the Lord, is not an argument of degree as to their actual progress in the divine life, but a question of principle as to their aims and their desires after it. Do they hunger and thirst after righteousness! Do they look unto Christ, not merely for the purpose of confidence, but also for the purpose of imitation! Is it the honest aspiration of their souls, under all the helplessness they feel, and the burden of those deficiencies over which they mourn and are in heaviness - that they might indeed be visited by a more copious descent of the Spirit’s influence, and so attain a higher conformity to the image of the Saviour.

Then sure, as we are, that Christ would not have spurned them from His presence, had He still been sojourning amongst us in the world - Delivered shortly before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Neither can we interdict the approaches of such unto the Saviour, through one of His own bidden and appointed ordinances. The Sacrament we hold to be not merely a privilege, but a means of grace - a privilege to all, who choose the Saviour as their alone dependence for time and for eternity; and a means of grace to all, who, humbled at their distance and deficiency from the perfections of the sanctuary above, seek to the instituted ordinances of the scene of preparation below, for the advancenient of their meetness for the inheritance. Even for that very Spirit, the presence of which you long to ascertain, I would bid you come to this place of meeting; and see whether the blessing will not be shed forth upon you. Turn unto me, saith God, and I will pour out my Spirit. And sure we are, that there is not a likelier attitude for receiving the full and the free supplies of it, than when you look in faith to the consecrated symbols of that atonement, through which alone it is that a sinner may draw nigh - and over which alone it is, that a holy God can rejoice over you. Come - but come with a sincere purpose. Come in honesty. Come aware of the total renovation which your personal Christianity implies. Come free of all those superficial and meagre conceptions of it, which are so current in the midst of this really infidel world. Come resolved to be and to do all that the Master of that assembly would have you; and look unto Him for the perfection of His own work upon your character, that in you He may see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.
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