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LUKE, XI. 13.
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 ?
In the former part of this chapter, our blessed Sa. viour teaches his disciples to pray; and encourages them, in the most affecting manner, to earnestness and importunity in prayer. With what energy do the illustrations, used on the occasion, address the feelings of our hearts ! " If a son shall ask bread of " any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? "Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish, give him a “serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer " him a scorpion ?” ! And while every one, who heard him, must find his heart revolt against a conduct so contrary to pa.' rental affection, he added the words of our text: " 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?" It is not said, to his children, but " to them that ask him ;” that the asking itself might be a ground of encouragement to every supplicant. In a parallel passage the concluding words are, “How “ much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, “ give good things to them that ask him ?"* But here the Holy Spirit is promised, as the best gift of God to those that are favoured with the gospel, and indeed, as comprehending all things which are truly and es. sentially good for them. ::.
“God made man in his own image, after his own «likeness." He had before pronounced each part of the creation good; but when man had been formed, and placed in dominion over the other creatures, he pronounced the whole to be very good. Yet here our LORD, addressing his own disciples, speaks of them, and of men in general, as evil : “ if then ye " being cvil, &c.” We are informed in the third of Genesis, how “ by one man sin entered into the “'world, and death by sin. Thus man became as " clay marred in the hand of the potter :" and soon after we read, that “ God saw the wickedness of " man was great in the earth; and that every imagi“ nation of the thoughts of his heart was only evil “ continually. And it repented the LORD that he “ had made man on the earth; and it grieved him at “ his heart."-" God looked upon the earth, and “ behold, it was corrupt : for all flesh had corrupted
: Matt. vii. 11.
" his way upon the earth."* Accordingly, he destroyed the whole depraved race, except righteous Noah and his family : yet directly after the deluge, he testified that “ the imagination of man's heart is “evil from his youth." Undoubtedly then some vast change had taken place in the human character, since the time when “God created man in his own "image," and pronounced him “ very good.”
This change, this fallen state of human nature; this depravity, called in Seripture “ death in tres"passes and sins," made way for “ the glorious “ gospel of God our Saviour,” which was predicted in emphatical but obscure language immediately after the fall. For it pleased God to take occasion from man's apostacy, to glorify the riches of his niercy and grace, in harmony with his justice, holiness, and truth, in saving us poor miserable sinners.--Now the promise of the RedEEMER (God manifest in the fesh), through whose person, righteousness, atonement, and mediation; redemption was made and salvation proclaimed, is the grand promise of the Old Testament. “ The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of “prophecy." In like manner, the atonement being made, tlie everlasting righteousness brought in, the Redeemer glorified, the way into the holiest mani. fested, and the gospel published; the promise of the Holy Spirit may justly be considered as the grand and peculiar promise of the New Testament : for, in fact, what else is wanting to complete our recovery to
God and holiness ?-Thus, in our admirable litany, we have this morning been praying to the divine Sa. viour, ‘By the mystery of thy Holy incarnation ; by
thy holy nativity and circumcision ; by thy baptism, 'fasting, and temptation; by thine agony and bloody
sweat ; by thy cross and passion; by thy precious death and burial; by thy glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost ; Good LORD deliver us.'
I have lately called your attention, my brethren, to the scriptural doctrine of “ repentance unto life ;" to the evil and desert of sin, as committed against God; in order to evince that all men need to repent; and to the love of Christ towards all who do repent: so that the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Author and Giver of life, by whose influences alone either repentance, faith, or any other spiritual grace can be produced in our hearts, and practised in our lives, seems a proper close to the general subject. “Do not " err, my beloved brethren, every good and every per. “ fect gift is from above, and cometh down from the “ Father of lights.” And, “ if ye being evil, know “ how to give good gifts unto your children; how " much more shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
I. I purpose then to make some introductors remarks on the subject. .
II. I shall endeavour to shew what is implie in this encouraging promise ;
III. Shew, in several particulars, how it s i our present condition, and the state of things this evil world, and,
IV. Make some application of the subject. 1. I shall make some introductory remarks on the subject.
The Holy Spirit is in Scripture spoken of in language appropriate to a personal agent. He is represented as choosing, willing, commanding, and “ giving “to every man, severally as he will :” and therefore it has in every age been customary to speak of him as a Person. The divine perfections and operations are also expressly ascribed to him : he is spoken of as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; Christians are temples of God, because the Spirit of God dwelleth in them; and in various ways, the incom. municable attributes of Deity are ascribed to him. Now there can be but one God; and if three distinct personal agents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are constantly mentioned, in language which implies divine perfections; then, for want of some more adequate words, of which, in our present state, we are devoid; we say that there are three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot better ex. press ourselves, though we do not comprehend the full import of our own words; and none, in any age of Christianity, have objected to these expressions, but they who have at length manifested an aversion to the mysterious doctrine taught by them, and to the other grand peculiarities of the sacred Scriptures.
This one God in three Persons, is the Object of the Christian's adoration : into this one “ name of the " Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” we are all baptized : and the mystery which we cannot explain