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tion. If, therefore, we measure the Holy Spirit's concern at the sins of men by the degrees of his disappointment, we may conclude, that there is no state of mind that grieves him more, unless that of actual wickedness.
Presumptuous sins are, indeed, in the highest manner offensive to the Holy Spirit of God. They are instances of open enmity against him, and have all the guilt of open rebellion. The wilful sinner is not ignorant or surprised, but knowingly fights against God's express commandment, and the lively, full, and present conviction of his own mind and conscience; so that this is the very standard of iniquity. And all other kinds of sins are more or less heinous, as they are nearer or farther off from sins of this dreadful nature; inasmuch as these imply the greatest opposition to God's will, contempt of his mercy, and defiance of his justice. This, if any thing can, doubtless must so grieve him, as to make him wholly withdraw his gracious presence.
III. I come now to shew the force of the Apostle's argument against grieving the Holy Spirit: because we are sealed to the Day of Redemption.
By the day of redemption, may be meant, either the time of our leaving these bodies at death, or, of our taking them again at the general resurrection. Though here it probably means the latter, in which sense the Apostle uses the word in another place, " Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies :” and to this day of redemption we are sealed by the Holy Spirit these three ways:
1. By receiving his real stamp upon our souls; by being made the partakers of the Divine Nature.
2. By receiving him as a mark of God's Property, as a sign that we belong to Christ. And,
3. As an earnest and assurance to our own spirits, that we have a Title to eternal happiness. - And, First: We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of God, by our receiving his real stamp upon our souls: being made the partakers of the Divine Nature, and meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. This is, indeed, the design of
his dwelling in us, to heal our disordered souls, and to restore that image of his upon our nature, which is so defaced by our original and actual corruptions. And until our spirits are, in some measure, thus renewed, we can have no communion with him. For “ if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” But by the renewal of our minds in the image of him that created us, we are still more capable of his influences; and by means of a daily intercourse with him, we are more and more transformed into his likeness, till we are satisfied with it.
This likeness to God, this conformity of our will and affections to his will, is, properly speaking, holiness; and to produce this in us, is the proper end and design of all the influences of the Holy Spirit. By means of his presence with us, we receive from him a greater fulness of holy virtues. We take such features of resemblance in our spirits as correspond to his original perfections. And thus we are sealed by him, in the first sense, by way of preparation for our day of redemption.
And since we are so, and our new nature thus grows up under the same power of his hands, what do we, when we grieve him by our sins, but undo and destroy his work; we frustrate his designs by breaking down the fences which he had been trying to raise against the overflowings of corruption; so that, at last, we entirely defeat all his gracious measures for our salvation.
2. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption, as a sign of God's property in us, and as a mark that we belong to Christ. And this is, by his appointment, the condition and security of that future happiness, into which he will admit none but those who have received the Spirit of his Son into their hearts. But in whomsoever he finds this mark and character, when he shall come to judge the world, these will he take to himself, and will not suffer the destroyer to hurt them. To this very purpose the Prophet Malachi, speaking of those who feared God, says, “ They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day when I make up my jewels;" that is to say, when I set my seal and mark upon them ;-—" and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”
Now if the Holy Spirit be the sign, the seal, and the security of our salvation, then, by grieving him by our sins, we break up this seal with our own hands, we cancel our firmest security, and, as much as in us lies, reverse our own title to eternal life.
Besides this, the Holy Spirit within us, is the security of our salvation: he is likewise an earnest of it, and assures our spirits that we have a title to eternal happiness. “ The Spirit of God beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.” And in order that this inward testimony may be lively and permanent, it is absolutely necessary to attend carefully to the secret operation of the Holy Spirit within us, who, by infusing his holy consolations into our souls, by enlivening our drooping spirits, and giving us a quick relish of his promises, raises bright and joyous sensations in us: and gives a man before hand, a taste of the bliss to which he is going. In this sense, God is said, by the Apostle to the Corinthians, to have " sealed us, and to have given the earnest of his Spirit in our hearts :" and that eatnest, not only by way of confirmation of our title to happiness, but as an actual part of that reward at present, the fulness of which we expect hereafter.
THE FOLLOWING DISCOURSE WAS PREACHED AT SAVANNAH IN
AMERICA, FEB. 20, 1736.
“ Though I bestow all my Goods to feed the Poor, and give
my Body to be burned, and have not Love, it profiteth me nothing."
THERE is great reason to fear, that it will hereafter be said of most of you who are here present, That this scripture, as well as all those you have heard before, profited you nothing. Some perhaps are not serious enough to attend to it; some who do attend will not believe it; some who do believe it, will yet think it a hard saying, and so forget it as soon as they can; and of those few who receive it gladly for a time, some, having no root of humility, or self-denial, when persecution ariseth because of the Word, will, rather than suffer for it, fall away. Nay, even of those who attend to it, who believe, remember, yea, and receive it so deeply into their hearts, that it both takes root there, endures the heat of temptation, and begins to bring forth fruit, yet will not all bring forth fruit unto perfection.
The cares, or pleasures of the world, and the desire of other things, (perhaps not felt till then,) will grow up with the word and choke it..
Nor am I that speak the Word of God, any more secure from these dangers, than you that hear it. I too have to hewail “ an evil heart of unbelief.” And whenever God shall suffer persecution to arise ; yea, were it only the slight one of reproach, I may be the first that is offended. Or if I be enabled to sustain this, yet should he let loose the cares of the world upon me, or should he cease to guard me against those pleasures that do not lead to him, and the desire of other things, I should surely be overwhelmed, and having preached to others, be myself a cast-away.
Why then do I speak this Word at all? Why? Because a dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me: and though. what I shall do to-morrow, I know not, to-day I will preach the Gospel. And with regard to you, my commission runs thus, “Son of man, I do send thee to them, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God;—whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”
Thus saith the Lord God, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (In order to this, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.") 6 Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is.”_" In secret, likewise, pray to thy Father who seeth in secret, and pour out thy heart before him.”—Make my word a lantern to thy feet, and a light unto thy paths.”—“ Keep it in thy heart, and in thy mouth, when thou sittest in thy house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”—66 Turn unto me with fasting,” as well as prayer: and in obedience to thy dying Redeemer, by eating that bread, and drinking that cup, “shew ye forth the Lord's death till he come.” By the power thou shalt through these means receive from on high, do all the things which are enjoined in the law; and avoid all those