« AnteriorContinuar »
there are means to be applied. God promises, “ A new heart will I give you.” And he also commands, • Make you a new heart.” Conversion, though a gift of divine grace, is a gift bestowed in such a way as leaves occasion for the use of means.
We are not to suppose that any thing done by us de. serves the influence of the Spirit. Whatever connexion there is between the means used by us, and the benefits bestowed upon us, it is a connexion founded in divine favor.
Nor are we to suppose, that those endeavors, which are the means of obtaining the Spirit, originate from ourselves. The gospel is a ministration of the Spirit. Where God sends the former, he grants the latter. And these are the spring of all the good thoughts, desires and resolutions which are found in fallen men. Hence the conversion of sinners, and the sanctification of believers, are as really owing to the sovereign grace of God, as if they were wrought immediately, without any endeavors of ours. We are to acknowledge the grace of God in such a sense as excludes personal worthiness ; but not in such a sense as exeludes per. sonal obligation.
That we may be filled with the Spirit, we must be filled with the knowledge of God's will. The new man is renewed in knowledge. He is begotten by the word of truth, as well as born of the Spirit. God grants the Spirit in the hearing of faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We must exercise ourselves in serious consideration; for it is by this that knowledge is reduced to practice. We must contemplate the purity and extent of God's law, compare ourselves with it, and judge ourselves by it. We must attend to the threatenings and promises of the gospel, and apply them as far as they are pertinent to our character. We must meditate on the solemn scenes of futurity, the nature and necessity of repentance, the boundless mercy of
faith. Faith. God
nust exercising by the
God, and the marvellous scheme of redemption, and thus awaken and preserve in our minds an active sense of the important things of religion.
We must abstain from all known obstructions of the Spirit.
When the apostle exhorts us to be filled with the Spirit, he warns us against sensuality and excess When he cautions us not to grieve the Spirit, he for. bids idleness, injustice, clamor and evil speaking.
We must improve with particular attention those seasons, when conscience is awakened, and serious purposes are excited.
Having set out in religion, we must hold on our way, and look to ourselves that we lose not the things which have been wrought for us.
We must continue instant in prayer. " God will be inquired of.” “ Ask and ye shall receive."
We must give ourselves up to God through Christ, with a purpose to serve him constantly ; and must frequently renew our covenant with him, humbling our. selves for past transgressions, and seeking grace for new obedience. Thus we may hope for a supply of the Spirit.
We are not to imagine, that the evidence of conver: sion and the joy of salvation will come suddenly. We are directed “ to seek for glory by a continuance in well doing, and to give diligence for the full assurance of hope to the end
The joy which comes in a way diverse from this is not joy in the Holy Ghost, but the joy of the hypocrite. They who walk in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, are such as walk in the fear of God.
ÉPHESIANS v. 192
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.
THE Heathens, in their drunken festivals to the god of wine, used to celebrate his bounty in impure and wanton songs. The Ephesians just converted from Paganism, the Apostle instructs in a more rational and excellent devotion. He teaches them to sing, not impure, but spiritual song's ; to direct their devotion, not to the imaginary god of wine, but to the Lord of nature and giver of all things ; to sing, not with wild and wanton airs, but with melody of the heart ; and so to conduct this branch of worship, that they may not corrupt, but comfort and edify one another,
Similar to our text is the Apostle's instruction to the Colossians. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts to which ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another >> in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” VOL. III.
1. The singing of psalms is here enjoined as a sacred branch of social worship.
We are to glorify God in our bodies and in our spir. its. To him we are to consecrate the use of all our powers. And there is the same reason why the musi. cal, as any other faculty, should be employed in his service, We are wonderfully made ; and the capacity of uttering a tuneful variety of sounds, is not the small. est wonder in our formation. To him by whose wis. dom we are thus curiously organized, our praise should be directed. “I will sing," says David, “and give praise with my glory,.” The faculty of speech, next to reason, is the glory of man.
Praise is the most excellent part of divine worship. As charity is greater than faith and hope, because in heaven these will cease, but that will never fail ; so praise is superior to humiliation and prayer, because these belong only to the present state, but that is the devotion of heaven. There our sins and temptations will no more molest us ; our souls will be purified from present corruptions ; our desires will be satisfied, and our wants supplied; and all our mournful petitions will be changed into songs of joy.
That psalmody was an instituted part of worship in the Jewish church, is evident from the many devout songs and psalms composed by divine inspiration for religious uses, some of which were sung, not only by particular persons in their private worship, but also by the whole assembly of Israel.
From the days of David, when the order of divine worship was more regularly settled, than it had been before, there was a select number of singers, instructo ed and supported at the public expense, whose office it was to set forward and preside over this branch of wor.
In the book of Psalms, frequent exhortations to sing praises to God are addressed to all nations of the earth, as well as to the congregation of Israel. Hence
it appears, that this was not a ceremony peculiar to the Mosaic dispensation, but an ordinance designed for universal and perpetual use. This is distinguished from ceremonial rites by special marks of superiority. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock, that hath horns and hoofs.”
In the New Testiment we find the same evidence, that psalmody is an ordinance of Christ, as we find in the Old Testament, that it was an ordinance of Moses. When Jesus, with his train, was descending from the mount of Olives to attend the passover at Jerusalem, the whole multitude of his disciples praised God with a loud voice, saying, “ Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest." : After the celebration of the holy supper, our Lord with his disciples " sung an hymn." Paul and Silas, confined in prison, ". sung praises to God at midnight." The Apostle exhorts the churches to maintain this branch of worship, and gives them instructions for the decent and edifying performance of it. This was continued in Christian assemblies after the apostolic age. The early fathers exhort those who sing in divine wor. ship,“ to make melody in their hearts, rather than with their voices.” Some Heathen writers say, “ It was a custom among the Christians to assemble on a certain day, and sing hymns unto Christ, as unto God.”
We may add, The church in heaven is represented as worshipping God with this exercise." The living creatures and the elders fall down before the lamb, and sing a new song.”
The several passions of the soul have each its peculiar language and give some distinguishing notes to the yoice. These different notes excite in the mind the passions which they represent. There is such a con. nexion between sounds and passions that they become