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Never can we forget, that the last time we saw our Lord, he was teaching and blessing—that while “ his lips dropped as a honeycomb,” and his hands were extended to confer benedictions—his feet forsook this ground, and his head entered the clouds. What a soothing and instructive intimation of the spirit and design of his departure ! that he did not leave us because he was tired of us, because he had been so ill-treated here; but that, as he came, so he went, to bless us —that he who descended from heaven to earth to procure, rose from earth to heaven to apply, salvation. In this he fulfilled the prophetic psalm, “ Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” For, as kings on their coronation-day, when they publicly ascend the throne, shower gifts among their joyous subjects-medals of gold and silver-our most gracious King has scattered blessings richer than silver, or gold, or gems—the influences of his Spirit—the choicest gift that God can bestow, (since he has given his Son,) and the richest that we can now receive. Well, therefore, might our Lord say, “ It is expedient that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."

Here are three important doctrines—The relation between Christ's bodily presence and the Spirit's influence with the church-The preference due to the Spirit's influence, beyond the Saviour's bodily presence-and The necessity of inculcating this on the church.

1. The relation between Christ's bodily presence and the Spirit's influence with the church.

The relation between the Divine Persons is among the arcana of Deity—the secrets of the Divine nature and bosom, which angels cannot penetrate and comprehend; for if creatures could fathom all the depths of the Deity, would it be infinite ? “ Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell ; what canst thou know? The measure there of is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”

That in the one only living and true God, there are those three, whom, for want of better terms, we call the persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, is satisfactorily derived from scripture, where the one is said to know and to love the other ; the three are represented as holding counsel; and the one sends, while the other is sent, and is engaged to glorify him that sent him. But if on this theme we are compelled to exclaim, “O the depth!” it is our consolation that what we cannot, we need not know. The fact we may understand, while the mode is inexplicable. As far as our duty and our interest require, God has given us information in his word.

The relation between the presence of the Saviour with us, and our enjoyment of the Holy Spirit's influence, is here pointed out, so as to awaken our attention, and to direct our minds into a train of thinking that may afford equal profit and delight. The following remarks invite your notice, while I attempt to unfold and illustrate them :--That before Christ came into the world the Holy Spirit was little known—as long as Christ was on earth, the Spirit was better known, but as resting on the Head rather than the body of the church-after Christ's departure, the Spirit was more abundantly enjoyed.

1. Before Christ came into the world the Holy Spirit was little known.

In all ages, under every dispensation, it is equally true that. while Christ is the only foundation, the Spirit is the only architect of religion. If Jesus says of himself, “ On this rock I will build my church," he builds by giving his Spirit, which forms the living stones, and rears them on that life-giving rock. The promise of the seed of the woman that should bruise the serpent's head, inspired the first legitimate hopes in the breasts where the serpent's poison had begun to rankle. But who caused them to lay hold of that hope set before them ? “ The God of hope filled them with all joy and peace in believing, that they might abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost.” As Israel is said to have drunk of that spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ; the streams from that rock were the influences of that Spirit of whom Jesus spake, when he said, “ If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink; and he that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters.”

If, before the incarnation, Christ was dimly seen as an object afar off, can we wonder that the Spirit was not then clearly known ? Since many received salvation by a Messiah whom they scarcely descried in the distance; they received him by the grace of that Spirit whose operations they felt rather than understood. Seldom does the name of Christ occur in the Old Testament. Can we expect, then, that the name of his Spirit should frequently meet the eye?

But, speaking comparatively, there was little enjoyment, as well as small knowledge of the Spirit's work, before the coming of Christ. The church was, during that long period of waiting for the consolation of Israel, confined to one nation, and this so small that a single English county-Yorkshire-is almost equal in extent, if not in population. But even the thousands of Israel were not universally partakers of the Holy Ghost; "for they were not all Israel that were of Israel ; neither because they are the seed of Abraham were they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called ; that is, they who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Though Elijah was mistaken in supposing that he was left alone, “what said the answer of God to the prophet? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” But what are seven thousand out of a whole nation, and that the only one on earth that knew and worshipped the true God? The wretched paucity is thus expressed by Isaiah, “ Except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and had been made like unto Gomorrah.”

Religion sometimes revived, indeed, and became triumphant over idolatry. That generation which entered Canaan under Joshua was a noble race, of whom less evil and more good is spoken, than of any other that our father Abraham beheld among all those who had sprung from his loins. For the Holy Land was planted with a choice vine, wholly a right seed; so that the most kind and tender recollection of that race was cherished in the Divine breast; for God says to Jeremiah, “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

A similar -scene was furnished by that generation which returned from Babylon under Zerobabel, to replant the vine of Sorek on the holy hills. Yet, while we see the fruits of the Holy Spirit, how little we hear of that great agent ! “Here were the hidings of his power” rather than the manifestations of it: we are induced to say that the Spirit chose to be felt rather than seen, and to work under a veil, because the time was not yet come for “the living God to be manifest in the flesh.” For the author of all religion in the heart being the Spirit of Christ, would not make known the effect sooner or farther than the meritorious cause was revealed; so that what little was known of the Spirit of grace was in the form of a promise concerning future days, because as yet the Saviour himself was the object of promise—the desire of the nations—He that was to come.

2. While Christ was on the earth the Spirit was better known, but known as resting on the Head rather than descending on the body of the church.

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At length, the Lord makes bare his arm before the eyes

of the

people, and says to the nations, “Behold your God.” “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.” Now, therefore, the time had arrived for the Spirit also to come forth from his concealment, to throw aside his veil, and say to the nations,

“ Behold me, behold me !". But how is he known? As the Divine anointing that gave to Jesus of Nazareth the title of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. Ere our Lord entered on the public exercise of his ministry, he came to John to be baptized of him in Jordan. “ And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.”

Nothing, in all the preceding ages, could be compared with this, for publicity, and clearness, and glory; the Spirit presenting himself to the very eyes of men, as a visible object descending from heaven, in bodily form. And how lovely and appropriate the form—that of a dove! What a fascinating association! A dove resting on a lamb! the heavenly Dove, on the atoning Lamb! This was the sign by which the Saviour of man was to be known. For his forerunner, John the Baptist, said, " And I knew him not : but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not : but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” The ancient fathers therefore said, “Go, Arian, to Jordan and see the Trinity; the Saviour rising from the waters, the Spirit descending on him from heaven, and the Father proclaiming, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.'" How natural was it for Christ to begin his ministry by opening the roll of the prophet Esaias and selecting from it this text; “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.” The very name, Messiah, in Hebrew, and Christ, in Greek, is derived from the sacred unction which Christ here claims to himself. What a display of the Spirit's influence was given in the person and ministry of Christ! Verily, “the Spirit of the Lord God rested upon him--the spirit of wisdom and understanding—the spirit of counsel and might—the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.” Never did the spirit of grace so display his power and his glory. O the meekness and gentleness of Christ! O the purity, the dignity, the loveliness of Him who is our pattern, who gave us an example, that we should tread in his steps ! With what forbearance he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself! What wise, and instructive, and heavenly conversation! Who could help observing, that he had just come from heaven, and was on the wing for that blessed world again? What a specimen of the effects of the Spirit of holiness in every feature and every movement of the Saviour ! The God of all grace seems to say to us, “ See what man may become by the power of God.”

Still, this manifestation of the Spirit was in the Head, rather than in the body of the church. The holy oil was seen, as in the moment of the anointing of Aaron, when it rested on his head, and had not yet had time to run down to the edge of his garment. For when Christ gave that cheering promise, which we have just quoted, the Evangelist adds, “ This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Spirit was not yet received, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” For what do we see of the work of the Spirit on man in general, during the ministry of Christ on earth? Is it not said, “ Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, he hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” It is true that we read of above five hundred brethren at once, who met Christ at the grand rendezvous in the mountain of Galilee, to receive the proofs of his resurrection; and although these were not all that believed, yet we must suppose they were the greater part. But what are a few hundreds, or even thousands, as the fruit of such a life, and such a ministry, as that of Jesus Christ ?

But alas ! we read of no grand effusions of the Spirit accompanying the preaching of our Saviour.

There is no sound of a mighty rushing wind” bowing the spirits of men to the obedience of faith, as the leaves of the forest wave before the gale. Though

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