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an established matter of fact, that God does not, and the presumption is that he will not, revive his work, till his people are revived, and are ready to be workers together with God. Believers then are urged not to grieve away the Divine influence, by all that a soul is worth, and by all that a multitude of souls are worth. And if, in an evil hour, the Spirit has been grieved, they are urged to repent, and humble themselves at his feet, by all the importance that could possibly attach itself to a precious and extensive work of God, among the ungodly around them.
1. Believers can do nothing that is a the same time so great a calamity and so great a crime as to grieve the Holy Spirit. They feel the injury first themselves, in their languishing graces, and their loss of comforts ; in their beclouded prospects, and their diminished hopes. Nor would it be a conjecture wholly groundless, that they may be affected in their interests for ever, by every season of relapse. They may be thus rendered lesser stars in the firmament of God for ever. And how many souls may perish by the deed, we cannot know, till the season of action is past, and the character of all around us formed and finished, and their destiny about to be fixed.
2. Let me say that God's people may easily know when they have grieved away the Divine Spirit. He will carry away all his comforts with him. They will be happy in none of those things that once contributed to their joy. There will be no communion kept up with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. All intercourse with the throne of grace will be interrupted, and darkness will come upon the believer as soon as he begins to pray. matter when he attempts the duty, the place will be dark. There will fall neither rain nor dew. The heavens will be brass, and the earth iron under his feet. And the circulation of a heavenly influence between him and the family of believers will be interrupted, and there will be a suspension of Christian fellowship. And there will be no visions of heaven. There will cover the sun of righteousness a cloud, dark and black as midnight. The believer will now grope his way as the blind do, and stumble at noonday as in the night. Those horrid falls, that have crippled and half destroyed the children of God in all ages, have happened when the Spirit had been grieved away. David and Peter had grieved the Spirit when he left them to stand in that critical hour alone. The spouse in the song had grieved him away, when she went about the streets inquiring, “ Saw ye him whom my soul loveth ?”
There is but one source whence come all the believer's comforts, from the influence of the Divine Spirit. Hence, if he is grieved, the spring of his consolations is dried up, and he must as assuredly famish, if this fountain is not again opened, as the word of God is true. Hence it would seem that the believer can easily know if he has done this disastrous work; can know by the poverty, and misery, and desolation of his soul; by the total absence of all those consolations that used to be brought to him by the operations of the Holy Ghost.
3. On the conduct of believers depends the welfare of the world. If on them it depends under God, whether the multitudes of the ungodly continue to throng the way of death, then it cannot be denied that they can withhold, or can put forth an agency that affects the weal or the wo of a world. While then you sleep-ye redeemed of the Lord—while you sleep, and your graces droop, and your character suffers, and your lamp goes out, there lies around you a depraved and prayerless multitude, who are forming a character for the pit, and pursuing their way down to the prison of hell, to the blackness of darkness for ever.
4. It should then be the wish of the men of the world, that God's people live near to him. They sometimes imagine that it is better with them when believers let down their watch and become like themselves. Then their consciences do not reproach them, and they have not such fearful alarms, as when the people of God come out from them, and are separate. Still they never make a more fearful mistake, than when slumbering on the brink of ruin themselves, they wish all around them to sleep also. If it is their horrid purpose to keep their stand on the brink of death eternal, they should be as wise as the Macedonian, and appoint one at least to stand at the door of their dormitory, and cry, day by day, Wake, O sleeper!
5. Hence the propriety that Christians should often inquire of themselves, whether they are acting a kind part toward the ungodly. What was said in Israel, in a time of national calamity, may apply, in a time of the withdrawment of the Divine influence. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I have frequently thought of this text with pleasure, and have styled it a recipe for a revival. I have thought it a pity that any Christian should live without a knowledge of this precious part of the word of God, it is found in 2d Chronicles, vii chapter and 14 verse. Not only is the Minister of Christ set to watch for souls, but, in a very important sense, every believer is a watchman, and cannot sleep, but he endangers the souls of men. Instead of this, it should be his object to keep every conscience around him alarmed, till the lost are all seen flying for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. They may not sleep while there is one lost sinner within the sound of their voice. If believers would not bring blood-guiltiness upon themselves, and calculate by and by to complain to God, “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over my soul,” then they should not sleep as do others, but watch and be sober. There hangs in the vigilance of God's people an amount of interest that outweighs the wealth of a city, and the wealth of a world. Their responsibility is greater than the out-guards of a camp of soldiery, when, if one sentinel should fall to sleep, it might cause a whole army to perish.
6. But in these circumstances, what can the Christian do to recover his former condition? Why, just what he did when he first found himself a lost sinner-repent. “But,” says the poor benighted and comfortless soul, “How can I repent without the influences of the Holy Ghost ? and I have grieved him away." Then here you are my brother, at the mercy of God. Lie down and determine to die, if you must, full in this conviction. The Churches' hope of you is wholly in the provisions of the covenant. I will turn you to a leaf or two of that covenaut :
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." Here it reads, you see, “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” He does not intend to let his people go. They would, if he would let them, and perish every soul of them, even after he has forgiven them, and they have been permitted to gaze upon the glories of the Lamb. Let me turn you to another leaf of that compact. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” On another page of this covenant, it reads, “My salvation shall be for
my righteousness shall not be abolished.” And there is one other page, if possible still more precious, “And they shall be my peo ple, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” I will read you one other line of that
wondrous compact, which God has made with his people, and leave you to read and ponder on the residue: “If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then I will visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him nor suffer
faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Thus are you shut up to the covenant mercy of God, and here is the safest place to leave you. If you have been his children, and have grieved away his Spirit, still his unbounded mercy can reach you. He can restore to you the joy of his salvation, and then uphold you with his free spirit.
TERMS OF DIVINE ACCEPTANCE.
ACTS XVI. 30.
Paul and Silas, in the faithful discharge of their duty, found themselves at length immured in the dungeons of Philippi. There they lifted up their voices in prayer and praise; and the prisoners heard them; and what was to them of far higher importance, God heard them, and sent his angels to deliver them. The bars of their prison were sundered, their doors flew open, and their bands were loosed. The result was, a deep alarm fastened upon the mind of the prison-keeper, venting itself in the language of the text, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?"
Now the gospel aims to bring every man to the very spot where that man was brought, and then direct him to a Savior and to heaven. There must be alarm, because there is danger, unless in those, perhaps very rare cases, when a Savior is embraced, or rather the heart prepared to receive him, before the danger is fully discovered. Unless we see our danger we shall make no effort to escape from the wrath to come. And men will have so soon slept the sleep of death, and alarm be of no avail, that humanity requires every possible effort to wake them.
Hence, no curse can be greater, than a ministry calculated to keep men secure in their sins. At no other point does there await you so much danger. Your servant may be idle, and your steward defraud you, and your best friend betray you, and still you may suffer but a temporary loss; but if he who is the mouth of God to you, deceive you, put darkness for light and light for darkness, your loss may be irreparable.
In the report of that gospel which the Lord Jesus Christ will approve at his coming, the text must be fully and correctly answered. The sinner must know exactly the terms on which God will accept him. One may have some general notion that he is a sinner, that a Savior is provided, and that possibly he may have life through that Savior; and still be so much in the dark relative