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Sabbath, the sanctuary, the gospel, and all the means of salvation are enjoyed ; yet that the scenes of life may be truly joyous, something more is necessary. Notwithstanding all these things, there is an overspreading gloom, and a fearful foreboding. Nothing can dispel this gloom, avert the tokens of approaching wrath, and light up the scenes of life with joy and hope, but the illuminating, renewing, purifying, and saving influence of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, let the scenes of life be ever so adverse to the desires of the worldly man, if amid the deprivations and afflictions which are endured, the peculiar blessings of the Holy Spirit are bestowed, the Christian experiences the highest gratification of his heart's desire. What divine work is so sublime in its nature, or so happy in its results, as that, not of giving existence to immortal beings, and enduing them with all the capacities of a rational mind, but of reclaiming such beings from the lapsed state of the rebellious and lost, and preparing them for the peace and joys of heaven! That Christian has lost his discernment of the excellence of spiritual realities, and his heart is devoid of the spirit of Christ, who can see evidences of the descent of the blessings of the Holy Spirit, and not lift up the voice of praise, or feel the glow of gratitude.
4. Christians ought to beware lest they grieve the Holy Spirit, and deprive themselves and others of the blessing of his gracious operations. They are liable to do this, else there would not have been occasion for the divine caution, “Grieve not the Spirit.” Does it not then behoove every Christian to consider in what way he is liable to commit this evil, and to endeavor above all things to avoid it? If, when a work of divine grace has begun in any place, a spirit of party, and of controversy on unessential points, is cherished, it has a direct tendency to divert the attention from subjects of the greatest moment, and to counteract the operations of the Divine Sanctifier. Let Christians beware of indulging such a spirit, and let awakened sinners beware of those who manifest it.
Christians are liable to grieve the Holy Spirit, by neglecting to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. The peculiar doctrines of the gospel are never so offensive to sinners, as when their
attention is awakened, and their hearts remain unreconciled to God. While they are in this state, they see that these doctrines destroy all their false hopes, and that an entire change must take place in their hearts, or their state must be that of eternal despair. They will, therefore, if possible, disbelieve the doctrines of the gospel, and embrace some fatal error adapted to quiet their consciences, and allay their fears. If, while sinners are in this state, those who profess to be Christians appear to be indifferent to those divine truths which try the hearts of men, and especially if they oppose them, they encourage the wicked to resist the means which the Holy Spirit blesses to the conversion of the impenitent. Let Chris tians beware of siding with the opposers of the truth, lest they grieve the Holy Spirit.
Not only in defending the truth, but in other ways, Christians are required to be co-workers with God. When they see indications of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the minds of sinners, they are not to think that their own obligations are discharged, and that labor and prayer are no longer necessary. At such a time their desires should be more ardent, their faith increased, their prayers more fervent, importunate, and persevering. It is the time of spiritual harvest—of the ingathering of souls; and it calls for special exertion, and unwearied effort. But if, at such a time, Christians neglect their duty, refuse to come up to the help of the Lord, and remain at ease in Zion, they grieve the Holy Spirit, and do more to stay the progress of his work, and to depriva souls of the blessings of his grace, than it is possible for all the open and avowed enemies of religion to do.
5. The Holy Spirit is worthy of supreme honor and adoration. The sacred writings abound in adorations and honors to this Person in the adorable Trinity. These adorations and honors consist in ascribing to him the sublimest of the divine works,—that almighty agency by which the kingdom of grace and glory is maintained and advanced. It is almost impossible to open the writings of the apostles, and not find divine, sanctifying, and saving agency ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The church is taught to depend entirely on him for all needed grace, to the end of time. No duty therefore is plainer, than that of rendering divine honors to the Holy Spirit. If it may be seen why it is a sin of peculiar aggravation to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, it may as easily be seen that it is a duty peculiarly sacred to honor him. To pay divine honors to the Holy Spirit, is a duty which the experience of every Christian naturally dictates. To whom does the Christian ascribe the grace which awakened him from his death-like slumbers, and showed him his sins and danger ? To whom does he feel indebted, that he was made willing to accede to the terms of the gospel, and that he was led to seek for peace at the throne of mercy ? By whom is he reclaimed from his frequent backslidings, and kept through faith unto salvation ? Does not the experience of the Christian testify, and does not his heart answer, with holy adoration and gratitude, that his benefactor is the Holy Spirit ? Let them refuse to adore him who are willing to be deprived of his grace.
Let them deny that divine honors are his due, who tremble not at the thought of being left a prey to the delusions of an unsanctified heart.
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN DOCTRINAL TRACT SOCIETY.
PERKINS & MARVIN, AGENTS,
As man is limited in his intellectual powers, it is evident that his inquiries should be circumscribed within certain limits. While he confines his researches within proper bounds, he may not merely get notions, but arrive at certain knowledge. But, when influenced by an ill-regulated curiosity to push his inquiries beyond proper limits, he wanders in gloomy regions of doubt and conjecture. He has no principles to conduct him to any conclusions in which he can repose the least confidence. In every department of science, much time has been lost, and distinguished talents have been misemployed in consequence of not attending to the line which should limit the extent of human investigations. By not observing that line, men, eminently qualified to promote the cause of science, have been disappointed and chagrined, because they could not attain to a knowledge of subjects which do not come within the compass of human power, and have been induced to draw the philosophical conclusion, that it is impossible to arrive at certain knowledge on any subject whatever. And that conclusion has fastened them down in complete skepticism. In no department of knowledge is it more important to distinguish between subjects which do, and subjects which do not, come within the reach of our capacities, than in that of theology. In this department, some people are so fearful that they shall examine into subjects which lie beyond their province, that they neglect those which are plainly revealed, and of which they are capable of acquiring a satisfactory knowledge ; while others, neglecting plain and practical subjects, direct their inquiries to those on which revelation is entirely silent, and to a knowledge of which they can never attain. The first of these two classes must be criminally ignorant of fundamental doctrines of revealed religion, and greatly exposed to fall into erroneous and dangerous practices. The other class are not only igno rant of the principal doctrines of revelation, but, in consequence of not arriving at those attainments to which they aspire, are in great danger of relinquishing all religious research, and considering the whole revealed system as a cunningly devised fable, or a gross imposition on the human understanding. Such errors ought to be avoided ; and they may be avoided by distinguishing, and observing the distinction, between those things which are secret, and belong to God, and those things which are revealed, and belong to man. It may not be improper, in this Tract, to show what may be considered as secret, and what as revealed, in relation to some of the principal doctrines contained in the Holy Scriptures.
The doctrine which asserts the existence and perfections of God, claims our first attention. This doctrine lies at the foundation of all true religion, both natural and revealed. It is not, therefore, peculiar to the system taught in the Scriptures. But, as it is contained in the system, and is absolutely essential to it, it must now be brought into notice. That there is a God, possessed of every possible perfection, natural and moral, is a truth which presses upon the mind on the first reflection. It is revealed so clearly in the works of creation and in the volume of inspired truth, that we cannot deny it, without resisting the most convincing evidence, and violating the principles of reason and common sense. But, though it is clearly revealed that this great and perfect Being exists, yet there are many things which relate to his existence and perfections which are not revealed, and are to us perfectly secret It is said that he is self-existent, and that he exists from eternity to eternity. These truths we believe. We contemplate them. We are amazed at their grandeur. But how he exists we do not know. It does not belong to us. We have nothing to do with it. It is a secret. It belongs to God. It is said that he knows all things. We believe the fact. It is revealed. But how he knows all things, present, past, and future, is not revealed. It is a secret. It belongs to God. It does not concern us.
,He is omnipresent. We have no doubt of the fact. But we do not know how he is in every part of the universe at the same time. This is a point which does not concern us.