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THE AOLY SPIRIT, AND and opposite, but again united. Your wish will be, that his will may be done in you; that his will may done by you; and that his will may be be done with you.

§ 12. A very important part of religion is, a knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Men, when first awakened to regard divine things, often imagine, that their own endeavours are to produce in them those graces which real religion displays. The word of God, on the other hand, represents them, as formed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is promised to them that ask for his aid. The Christian is “born of the Spirit.” The Spirit is sent, to “convince the world of sin.” By the power of the Holy Spirit, “ the love of God is shed abroad in the heart.” By bim hope abounds in the believer; his mind is enlightened; he is sanctified and strengthened by the Spirit of God. By the Spirit he is taught to crỳ, “ Abba Father;" and "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," are the fruits of the Spirit.

All the graces of the Christian character, all the parts of holiness, are thus produced by the Spirit of God; and while you are assured, that “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" you are taught, to look to God for his Spirit to form your heart anew.

While it is to be your aim, to glorify God in allthings; your dependence for ability to do so, is to be on the promised Spirit. Yet, think not, that, on this account, sloth and negligence in religious matters will be excused. The abuse, which Satan and the world would have you make of this evangelical docLuke, xi. 13. John, iii. 6. John, xvi. 8.

1 Cor. vi. Ni. Ephes, zii. 16.

Heb. xii. 14. Juhu, sii. 37, 39.

I Cor. ii. 12

Rom. v. 5. Rom. xv. 13

Gal. iy. 6 Gal v. 22

RIGHT IMPROVEMENT OF HIS GRACE.

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trine, is, that if the work is thus God's, you need not trouble yourself respecting it. A sure guide, the Lord himself, makes a widely different inference. That he “works in you, both to will and to do,” is made by him the reason, why you "should work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” When the husbandman in spring scatters his seed on the ground, he cannot make one corn produce a blade, nor one blade produce an ear; but, God, by his secret working, makes the seed vegetate, clothes the field with green, and, in the appointed weeks of harvest, loads it with waving ears of ripened corn. Who produced this harvest ? Not man, but God. Yet, would God have produced it if the husbandman had neither ploughed nor sowed his field ? He would have had no crop to reap if he had pleaded; “The work is God's, so I need not labour." As it is in this case, so it is in religion. The work is God's, and his shall be the praise ; yet, man must use the means, and labour for his own salvation. He can no more change his own heart, than he can make the hard earth bear fruit; but, let him use the means which his Redeemer puts in his power, and God will give the blessing, through his abounding grace. But, if, because salvation is of grace, and holiness by the Spirit of God, men neglect the means, and labour not for their own salvation; they have no more prospect of eternal happiness, than a husbandman would have of reaping an abundant crop, who never concerned himself with sowing a single grain. If you turn to God, and believe on Christ, you will be “ a temple of the Holy Spirit and should not his temples be holy?

Phil. ii, 12, 13,

1 Cor. ii. 16.

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THE CHRISTIAN'S CHOICE With him working in your heart, how inexcusable would you be to continue the slave to sin !

Thus you see what religion is. It consists not in a round of outward forms, though, if it be enjoyed, outward privileges will be prized and improved; it consists not in the strictest mere mo. rality, though, if it influence the heart, holiness must surely follow: but, in such a knowledge of God in Christ, as makes believers his and not

their own.

§ 13. If religion be chosen by you, you will determine, in God's strength, to abide by your choice to your latest day. While the almost Christian halts between the world and Jesus, those who really flee to him, do so to be his de. cidedly. “The world will laugh at me," may the young Christian say: “ well

, let it laugh"; if I may but enjoy the smile of God, I can bear the senseless laugh of men! The world will frown on me: well, let it frown; it frowned on my Master before me, and the disciple is not greater than his Lord !" If you flee to Jesus, you will flee to him to be his, not only deci. dedly, but for ever. You will view religion as a blessing, chosen once, but chosen for life. You will value it as the one thing needful, compared with which, suffering

or delight, life or death below, are nothing. You will view his gospel as a blessing, most valuable in itself, and most important to you, though there were not another person on the face of the globe. As a blessing so inexpressibly valuable and momentous, that you would prize it, though it were neglected by every human being but yourself, and though all the nations of the earth should unite to deter you from embracing it. Such was the spirit of OF RELIGION A LASTING CHOICE. 87 the martyrs. Their religion was not a blessing valued merely when the sun of prosperity shone; but, one to which they clung when the storms of adversity and persecution beat upon them, and when the hour came that Christ or life should be resigned. Though not called to martyrdom, yet, that high degree of value for Christ, which animated them, must dwell in your heart, or your religion will be an empty name; for, the Lord has declared,“ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

§ 14. You have already, in one or two instances, been referred to the parable of the prodigal son; permit me to refer you to it more at large, as affording a beautiful description of real reli. gion. In its first part (Luke, xv. 11-16), you have à picture of man while destitute of real piety; a picture, my young friend, of what you yourself have been. The prodigal loses all affection for his father; wanders from him; squanders his all, as if distracted; and plunges deep in sin and misery. You have wandered from a kinder Father; and, as you were shown in Chapter II, have acted, towards God, the prodigal's part. His sin was followed by misery; and, unless you repent, your's must be by eternal ruin. But he repented. În the second part of the parable, verses 17-19, is contained a lively description of the nature of real repentance. He came to himself; he felt Matt. x. 37, 38.

Luke, xiv. 33.

88 RELIGION ILLUSTRATED FROM LUKE, XV. his misery; he was humbled for his sin and folly; longed for the meanest place in his father's house; and arose to seek forgiveness. Such is repentance. The once careless sinner, the thoughtless trifler comes, as it were, to his right mind; he sees that in neglecting humble piety, and wandering from his God and Saviour, he has acted as if bereft of sense and reason; he abhors his sin; he is humbled for it; he longs for a place, though it be the meanest in the family of God; religion, which he once scorned, is now the object of his anxious wish ; and, in sincerity and truth, he turns from the ways of sin to seek his God. The reception the prodigal met with, verses 20-24, displays the nature of the gospel. No sooner did he sin. cerely repent and apply for mercy, than he found it. His father welcomed him to his bosom; and received him as his son again. Yet, observe, he had done nothing to deserve his favour. It was not of works (through any works of his); for, he had returned to his parent a wretched, destitute outcast: yet, no sooner did he return, than he was fully and freely forgiven; bis transgressions were blotted out; and he restored at once to his father's favour. Such is the grace displayed to you in the gospel. It is as free; it is as full. No works of yours can deserve the favour of your God; you have none that are worthy of his regard. 'What had the prodigal? But, he was immediately and freely forgiven; so will you be, if you come to God hy. Christ. You are, in a spiritual sense, as destitute, as wretched, as guilty as he; but, mercy as great is ready, at once, upon your believing from the heart on Christ, to forgive you, and save you, and make you a child of the Most High. Observe one

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