The Christian Professor

John Angell James, 1837



The duties of the Christian profession are so numerous, so arduous, and so much beyond resources which we have in ourselves, that this volume would be incomplete in a very important and essential point, if it contained no distinct and explicit reference to the assistance necessary to their right performance. I devote this chapter, therefore, to a consideration of the work of the Holy Spirit, as the source of the believer's strength. There is a passage of Scripture on this subject, so fraught with instruction, that it may be well made the basis of what I have now to advance, "If we LIVE in the Spirit, let us also WALK in the Spirit." Gal. 5:22. The premises in this text contain a striking and beautiful description of the nature of true piety. It is "living in the Spirit," and its conclusion, an equally beautiful description of its visible development and gradual progress, which is said to be walking in the Spirit. These are inseparable from each other—there can be no spiritual walking without life, and where there is life, there will be walking.

The unconverted sinner is in a state of spiritual death; "he is dead in trespasses and sins." He has animal, intellectual, and social existence—but as to divine and heavenly things, he is as dead to these matters as a corpse is to surrounding material objects; he has no spiritual perception, no holy sensibilities, no pious sympathies, no true religious activity; he is destitute of all spiritual vitality. Regeneration is the transition of the sinner from this state into one which is its very opposite; it is the impartation and commencement of a new spiritual existence. Regeneration adds no new natural faculties—but only gives a right bias and direction to those which, as rational creatures, we already possess.

There are two descriptions which the Scripture has given us of this new and holy state or condition, into which divine grace brings us. The first is in our Lord's words, "That which is born of the Spirit is SPIRIT." John 3:6. Is Spirit. This does not mean man's intelligent nature, i.e. his understanding, or reasoning faculty; nor his soul, i.e. his animal nature—these he has already. But it signifies a new spiritual nature, a spirit which enters into a man's spirit; a spirit put into himself. It is not a thing which lies upon the surface of a man, which consists in mere forms, ceremonies, or talk; but which enters into him, and seats and centers itself in his mind, and takes possession of his inmost self, as the soul of his very soul. True religion is SPIRIT—a something produced by the DIVINE INFINITE SPIRIT, and of the nature and likeness of its Parent, by whom it is begotten. It is a thing, as to its essence and true existence, invisible as the soul in which it dwells—but like that, animating a body with which it is united. When the prophet would speak diminishingly and with contempt of the Egyptian power, he says, "Their horses are flesh, and not spirit." True religion, on the contrary, is not flesh—but spirit, as if there were scarcely anything else that so well deserved the term, and all besides this new, holy, heavenly, divine nature, were too nearly allied to matter, to be called spirit.

The other term by which religion is described is allied to this—it is LIFE. How mysterious, how precious a thing is life! Nothing, in a general way, is better understood, yet nothing, upon the attempt to analyze it, more speedily, or completely evades the power of scrutiny. What philosopher shall strip this little monosyllable LIFE, of all the mystery that hangs around it, and lay bare to our perception the principle of life? True religion is life; not animal, intellectual, or social—but spiritual life. In looking into nature, we find a graduated scale of animated beings; the most insignificant vegetable is above the greatest mass of inanimate matter; the weed of the wilderness, for instance, is superior to the rock of Gibraltar, because the former has the principle of life. The least insect that crawls, is above the noblest vegetable production, the cedar of Lebanon, or the oak of the forest—because it has a higher kind of life, a principle of volition and locomotion. The child of a year or two old is, in dignity, above the noblest objects of inanimate nature, above the sun in all his glory; above the ocean or the forest; above the lion, notwithstanding his strength; the elephant, with his sagacity; or the leviathan, with his bulk; for that child has a rational mind, and is the subject, not only of intelligence—but of conscious and moral emotion.

But a Christian has a principle of vitality in him, which is far above every other kind of life; the indwelling of the Spirit of God in his soul produces that which is the perfection of life itself; the climax of vitality; the top and flower of animated nature so that the regenerated peasant is, in the eye of God, a being far more like himself, far more nearly allied to the Infinite, the Parent Spirit, than the greatest unconverted philosopher in the world.

This divine life consists of that illumination of the judgment, by which not only the theoretic meaning—but the moral glory of spiritual things is perceived; together with that love to them in the heart, which is drawn forth in all the exercises of a course of righteousness. God is light. God is love. Or, uniting both together, GOD IS HOLY LOVE. So is the renewed mind; and this is true religion, this is life.

But, it is said, we live IN the Spirit. Not simply by—but with a still greater intensity and emphasis of meaning, in the Spirit; importing that the Holy Spirit is not only the efficient cause and author of our spiritual life—but that he is the sustainer of it; "as if," says Mr. Howe, "the soul had its very situation, in a region of life, which the Spirit creates for it by his vital, abiding presence." Just as the soul is present with the body, diffusing its vivifying influence throughout all its parts, warming all, sustaining all, moving all, directing all, "until the body may, in one sense, be truly said to be in the soul, rather than the soul in the body; so is the Holy Spirit in the New Creature, which he has formed in the believer, imparting life to it, clothing it with life, filling it with life, and is all in all of life to it."

The Christian partakes of this life in the Spirit, by virtue of his union to Christ by faith. There can be no communication of spiritual life apart from Christ. He is the head, and his people are the body—He the tree, and they are the branches—all the fulness of the Spirit is in him, and comes from him to his people. "God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son, and he who has the Son, has life." As no branch that is not united to the tree, and as no limb that is not united to the head, can have life, or retain it; so neither can there be any spiritual life in the soul without union to Christ. Hence his admonition to his disciples, "abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abides in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without (or apart from) me, you can do nothing." John 15:4, 5. Hence also that striking language of the Apostle, "You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Hidden as to its spring, which is in God—a stream fed by a spring, which rises up in the depths of the divine nature.

It is exceedingly important that professors should well understand, and often and seriously meditate on this subject, that they may know from what source to draw their supplies for the Christian warfare, and be led to something more, for keeping up the power of godliness in the soul, than maintaining a round of bodily exercises. There must be a continued exercise of faith in our Lord Jesus, as the source of all spiritual life, a pressing, as it were, still closer and closer to him, to receive out of his fulness, and grace for grace; and, at the same time, a feeling of dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit, for all that is necessary to a life of pure, undefiled, and consistent religion.

The Apostle calls upon those who live in the spirit, to walk in the spirit. There is great force and beauty in this expression. It is as if he had said, "Since you profess to be alive—arise, walk, act. Prove that you have received a new life, by a new and corresponding course of action. Act out your spiritual nature, in spiritual conduct; and let a holy mind be seen forming and animating a holy character. And remember, also, that you must even depend for the manifestation of life, on the same power that gave it. "Walk in the spirit." This is a just, forcible, and natural argument. All living things act according to their nature. Trees act out their nature in bearing fruit according to the law of vegetable life, which is in them. Animals, whether wild or domestic, carnivorous or omnivorous, act out their nature, by propagating, and obtaining sustenance, according to the modification of animal life, which is in them. Rational creatures act out their nature by thinking and willing according to the principle of intellectual life, which is in them. In all these cases, there is no dormancy in the principle of vitality; it is not inert—but active; and its activity is appropriate to its nature, and regulated by its own fixed law. So must it be with the Christian; he is a species in the world of living beings, peculiar to himself. He has a life, which, viewed in all its circumstances, is unique in its nature and in the sphere in which it is to act, and he, therefore, is to act out this nature; and as he lives in the spirit, he is also to walk in the spirit.

I need scarcely say, that by WALKING, we are to understand acting. Mr. Howe, in his admirable sermons on this passage, has an admirable illustration of this figure, which is ingenious, without being far-fetched, or overstrained. Walking is self motion, proceeding from an internal principle in the thing that moves. So is true religion, not like the mechanical actions of an automaton, or the carrying forward of a corpse. Walking is a voluntary motion, not the being dragged along by force—but a man's freely going forward. So is true religion a matter of voluntary choice. Walking is an orderly motion, acting according to a prescribed course; not a freakish, wild, eccentric action. So is true religion a procedure according to a rule, a going on in a way laid down and set before us. Walking is, to a man in health, a pleasurable motion. So is true religion a way of pleasantness, the healthful exercise of moral energies. Walking is a continued motion. So is true religion, not a sudden and temporary resolve—but a remaining habit. Walking is a progressive motion; not a moving backward and forward in the same place—but going onward from place to place. So is true religion a progress in knowledge, in faith, in holiness.

I shall now state what those acts and habits are, which constitute the course of conduct thus denominated.

1. Walking in the Spirit, is acting according to the Spirit's RULE, which is the word of God. The Scriptures are given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are his instrument in the great work of regeneration and sanctification. All the Spirit's communications are of things promised in the word, and with direct reference to the things revealed in the word. All religious sentiments, all practical precepts, all emotions, are to be tried by the word. This is the standard, the test, the judge. It is the rule by which the Spirit works, and it is the rule by which the subjects of the Spirit's influence are to act. Dreams, visions, impulses, and unintelligible inward emotions, are not to be regarded—but only the word fairly interpreted. We know nothing of the mind of the Spirit—but as he has revealed it in the Scriptures; and there he has revealed it, and we are "to walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing." We are not to judge of our own state by any supposed direct witness of this Divine Agent—but by comparing his work in us, with the description of that work in the word. The apostle has given us a beautiful metaphorical representation of this, where he says, "You have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you," or as it should be rendered, "into which you were delivered as into a mold." Rom. 6:17. The metaphor is taken from the art of casting metals; the believer's heart, softened and melted by the fire of the Spirit's influence, is cast into the mold of Scripture, so as to come forth answering to its type—line to line, and feature to feature. The character which the Spirit forms, is according to that which he has delineated in the word. A Christian is the production of a living, holy being, by the Holy Spirit, according to the rule which he has laid down in the Bible.

2. Walking in the Spirit signifies our keeping up a practical regard to those objects, of which the spiritual excellence was revealed to the mind, and for which an appetite and relish were imparted in regeneration. New light then broke in upon the mind, things altogether unknown were discovered to the soul, and others, only theoretically known, were seen in a new and heart-affecting manner. This seems to be the very nature of that discovery which the Holy Spirit makes to the mind which he condescends in infinite mercy to renew and sanctify—I mean a perception of their moral excellence or holiness, accompanied by a taste or relish for them on that account.

Holiness comprehends all the true moral excellence of all intelligent beings. Holiness is the excellence, beauty and glory of the divine character and the sum of all virtue, in men or angels. It is holiness that constitutes the beauty of the law and of the gospel, of all divine ordinances, and religious institutes. Holiness was the glory of man at his creation, which he lost by the fall, which is restored by regeneration, and is consummated in eternal glory. The great design of the Spirit's work in regeneration, is to produce in man's soul, a moral affinity for holiness, a love to holiness, a delight in holiness, and which shall be continually called into activity by the presence of holy objects.

True religion, or the divine life in the soul, is holy love, and consequently walking in the Spirit is the acting of this holy love upon holy objects. As all life seems to have natural and instinctive antipathies to, and aversions from what is injurious to it, so the divine life in the human soul, has an antipathy and aversion to sin, which is its poison, its antagonist principle, and its deadly enemy; so that a godly man walking, according to this holy vitality, is ever watching, praying, striving against sin. His new nature recoils from it, and he keeps up studiously this holy shuddering of heart. In all life there are certain movements towards its appropriate objects of sustenance and gratification; vegetables strike their roots into the soil, and open their air and sap vessels to receive the influence of the atmosphere and the earth; animals are ever carrying into act their appropriate instincts to obtain sustenance, and enjoy all the good of which their nature is capable; the soaring and singing of the lark, the labor of the bee, the spinning of the spider, the chasing of his prey by the lion—are all the actions of the life that is in them. The artist working at his picture; the poet composing the fine imaginings of his genius; the scholar analyzing language; and the scientist examining the laws of creation—are all the workings of intelligent existence.

And what are the actings of spiritual life? The pushing onward of the soul, through the visible to the invisible world; its ascension from earth to heaven; its passing the boundaries of time and sense, to roam amidst things unseen and eternal; the faith to an unseen Savior—the love of an unseen God; and the hope of an unseen heaven. This is walking in the Spirit, walking with God, and visibly walking with him. Enjoying him as the chief good, seeking him as the supreme end, and obeying him as the Sovereign Ruler. I know nothing in which the spiritual life is more distinguished in its actings, from the merely rational one, than in its tending towards God in Christ, as by a law of spiritual gravitation, to its center. The apostle in one short sentence, has described the whole acting of this new nature; "FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST." The Spirit's work in the New Testament, and in the Old too, is to testify of Christ, and to glorify him; and his work in the believer's heart, has the same object, to lead him to live before the world, for the honor of the Savior; and for this purpose, to enable him to derive all his supplies from the fulness that is in him, that Christ may be seen to be all in all to him. This is spiritual walking—the soul's escaping from the region, and rising above the influence of carnal objects, and dwelling in a sphere of spiritual things; finding these to be its vital atmosphere, its native element, its beloved home.

3. To walk in the Spirit implies the cultivation and exercise of those holy virtues towards our fellow-creatures, those original principles of which were sown in our heart at the time of our conversion. There is, I believe, a prevalent mistake on this subject among some good people, who appear to suppose that the only design contemplated and accomplished in regeneration is to give a right disposition of the human heart towards God. That this is its principal object is admitted—but it is not its only one, for it is also designed to give a proper bias towards our fellow-creatures, which we have not, until we are changed by divine grace. When man sinned he fell, not only from God—but from his fellow-creatures also. Love, which had been created with him and in him, departed from his soul and left him under the dominion of uncontrolled selfishness. The gracious change which restores him to God, restores him to his fellows. In that great renovation, selfishness is dethroned, and love again raised to be the regent of the soul.

Love, first and supremely, exercises itself towards God as infinitely the greatest and the best of beings. But it does not, cannot stop there, for it is a principle, which from its very nature must expand to embrace the universe. It is worthy of remark, though perhaps, it has not been noticed as it ought to have been, that in most places where the subject of regeneration occurs in Scripture, it is spoken of in connection with the exercises of a right disposition towards our fellow-creatures; in proof of this I refer to the following passages—James 1:18-20. 1 Peter 1:22, 23; 1 John 4:8-11. But I need not go for evidence farther than the context of the passage I am now considering. The apostle in varying his metaphor from the actions of a man, to the produce of a tree, says, "The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance." These virtues almost exclusively refer to our fellow-creatures; yet they are the fruits of the Spirit. It is evident that most of them are only so many varied operations and exercises of the love which the apostle so beautifully describes in his epistle to the Corinthians. The cultivation of these virtues in dependence upon divine grace, and with a view to the divine glory, is walking in the Spirit; and "there is one point of view," says Dr. Dwight, "in which the performance of these duties more effectually evinces the Christian character and proves the reality of our religion, than most of those which are classed under the head of piety; it is this—They ordinarily demand a greater exercise of self-denial."

Yes, it is far easier to hear a sermon, celebrate the Lord's Supper, read a chapter, and pray, than it is to repress the feeling of envy, extinguish the spark of resentment kindled by a supposed injury, and cast out the spirit of malice. The man who cherishes in his bosom the spirit of love to his fellow-creatures, from a deep sense of God's love to him in Christ, and who is enabled to make some tolerable proficiency in learning of Jesus, who is "meek end lowly in heart," has more of the living power of the Holy Spirit in his soul, than he who is dissolved in tears, or rapt in ecstacy under the burning, melting words and tones of some eloquent preacher. Never can it be repeated too often, or expressed too emphatically, that to walk in the Spirit IS TO WALK IN LOVE. When the apostle admonishes us not to grieve this Divine Person, he suggests, by what immediately follows this extraordinary injunction, that it is by the opposite of love that he is displeased; for, after commanding us to put away angry feelings, and to restrain all passionate language, he adds, "Be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ also has loved us." Ephes. 6:5. We can never, as it were, be more entirely going the same way as the Spirit, never press closer to his side, never be in sweeter fellowship and accordance with his mind—than when cultivating the fruit of love. "From his descending on Christ in the form of a dove, as well as from many express declarations of Scripture we may with certainty conclude the indulgence of all the irascible and malignant passions to be peculiarly repugnant to his nature. Vindictive passions surround the soul with a sort of turbulent atmosphere, than which nothing can be conceived more opposite to the calm and holy light in which the blessed Spirit loves to dwell." It is a well known phenomenon in natural history that the dew never falls in a stormy night, so neither does the dew of divine influence descend on that heart which is given up to the raging of tempestuous tempers. It must become calm and still if it would have this blessed privilege.

4. Walking imports a progress in spirituality; a going on in this divine life, a gradual drawing nearer and nearer to the end of our calling of God in Christ Jesus. All things which have a principle of life, have also a principle of growth, unless they are in a state of disease, or have passed their perfection, and according to a law of their nature begin to decay. If the sapling does not grow it is unhealthy; if the young lion does not grow it is in disease; if the child does not grow it is sickly; for life tends to growth. This is equally true in reference to the Christian, if there is life there should be increase, and if there is not, how can it be said there is walking. All the figures by which the divine life is set forth in the word of God are things of life, and growth—it is the babe growing to manhood; the tender seedling growing to a tree; the grain of wheat growing to the full corn in the ear; it is the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day.

What is set forth in figure, is also enjoined in plain precept, and we are commanded to grow in grace. Now the end to which we are walking forward, is a perfect conformity to the image of God; a perfect love to our fellow creatures; a perfect freedom from the lusts of the flesh; a perfect separation from all sin; a perfect emancipation from the love of the world, and everything that is contrary to the love of God; perfect knowledge, humility, and holy felicity. In these things, therefore, we ought now to increase. If we are not continually advancing towards this perfection; if we do not find a gradual influence of divine light and life and power; more discernable impressions of the divine image; a greater suitableness, so to speak, for God; a closer acquaintance with him, a higher delight in him, and a more entire devotedness to him—how can we imagine we are walking in the Spirit. We may keep moving—but if it be in a circle, a round of empty duties, heartless ceremonies, and cold formalities; what proof have we that we have life, or if we have it, that it is not in a state of disease and sinking back again into death?

Having thus considered what is implied in this spiritual motion of the renewed soul, I go on to point out the relation it bears to its divine cause. It is walking in the Spirit. To do anything in the Spirit is to do it by his light, and by his power. We need his light to show us what is to be done, and how it is to be done, as well as his power to enable us to do it. The New Testament makes frequent mention of that gracious illumination, which believers receive from the Divine fountain of light through the whole course of their Christian life. In the natural world, He who in the beginning, said, "Let there be light," and produced what he called for, repeats in effect the command each morning, and causes the sun to rise upon the earth. The same Almighty Power that formed the orb of day, and produced the splendor of the first morning, still continues to fill that orb with light, and to pour forth his radiance day by day. Let the creating power, as it perpetuates itself in the providential work of preservation be suspended for a single moment, and the light of worlds would become extinct, and the veil of darkness, fall over the solar system.

So also is it in the world of grace. The divine Spirit is the cause, not only of the first illumination of the sinner's mind—but of the continued illumination of the believer's soul. Hence, the prayers of the apostle for the Ephesian and Colossian Churches. Ephes. 1:17, 18; Col. 1:9. How beautiful is his language to the former—"You were darkness—but now are you light in the Lord, walk as children of light." Ephes. 5:8. "Light is here spoken of as the very composition of the New Creature, as if it were a being all of light; now are you light in the Lord." They are made up of light, being born of the Spirit. The great and glorious God himself is called the God of light, they are called the children of light. That is their parentage. Light descended from light, begotten from light. "God is light and in him is no darkness at all." All converse with him "is walking in the light as he is in the light." It is true that light signifies holiness, it necessarily connotes it—but then this only does import and signify, that that light which goes into the composition of a new creature, is efficacious, refining, transforming light, such as makes the soul some way throughout suitable unto the notions of truth, which are now placed in the speculative understanding. Such is the noble character of regenerated souls; they are children of light, sons of the morning, made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Yes, this is descriptive of their present condition, and not merely of their future state to which it is generally and exclusively—but erroneously applied. "Giving thanks to the Father," says the apostle, "who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." The Christian church, if not the city and metropolis of the kingdom of light, is the suburbs of it; and believers, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, are already dwelling in the environs of the world of light. They are within reach of those beams of spiritual radiance, which are forever flowing forth from the fountain of splendor.

But they need continued supplies from that fountain to sustain, increase, and invigorate the spiritual life within them. The influence of the world is continually opposing and counteracting the holy principles of their new nature, and the remains of corruption within, rendering the eye of faith weak, its perceptions dim, and the sensibility of the soul to spiritual objects, dull and obtuse. The whole work of grace in the soul is carried on by the instrumentality of truth, and through the means of a holy illumination of the mind to perceive and feel it. Spiritual light is that to the principles of holiness in the soul, which natural light is to the seeds of vegetables in the natural world, which cannot germinate or grow without light, and whose growth is suspended during a dark, cold, and cloudy season, in which the rays of the sun are much diminished—so also the fruits of the Spirit cannot grow but in the light of the Spirit. We cannot therefore do without renewed communications of this divine influence—this quickening, vivifying illumination. If this is withheld, our graces will appear like the stunted plants, or the diminutive, colorless, tasteless fruits of a short, cold, and cloudy summer. It is only as spiritual truths are seen by us and kept before us, in the clear and holy light which is imparted by the Spirit's influence, and felt by us to be entering like warm sunbeams into the very soul itself, that we can grow in grace. We need fresh communications every step of our course to keep before us the glory of God as our center, rest, and end; the loveliness, beauty and preciousness of Christ; the evil of sin and the transcendent excellence of holiness; the sublimity and importance of heaven, and eternal life; and it is only by the Spirit that this can be done.

But we need power or moral ability, as well as light. We need to be disposed, moved and helped in this divine walking. When a child is born, he is not endowed with a stock of grace, sufficient for him in all the future stages of his growth. Of that child it is said with truth, that in all his subsequent growth and activity, "In God he lives, and moves, and has his being." The living, moving, acting principle of his nature, is still derived from God; he lives in God, and does not perform a single action—but as helped by God. So is it with the new-born child of God, he is made to live by the Divine Parent; but no stock of grace is imparted in regeneration, sufficient for all the future continuance, growth and actings of religion. No, we must live and move in the Spirit of grace, as well as have our being in him. We must all along act by the power of God.

In regeneration, a new nature is imparted—composed of many divine, holy, and heavenly principles; not only are we then disposed and enabled to perform a single act or succession of acts—but we are brought into a spiritual state; a holy nature is formed as diverse from our former one, or from anything else, as the nature of one species of creatures, is from another; a nature is more than even a habit. Now this nature is not all that we need—but also the continual exciting and helping of it, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Though there is this new nature in us, there is something else in us, even the remains of the old and corrupt nature; and as the latter is continually hindering and opposing the former, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, we need divine power to quicken and aid us, and enable us to gain the victory over the flesh. To walk in the Spirit, then, is to do all things through the whole course of our profession in a frame of humble, and unlimited dependence upon the divine aid of the Holy Spirit.

It is our unspeakable privilege, that this gracious assistance is ensured to us by the word of God. It is called "the Spirit of promise," because the subject of so many assurances from God. But even the very command is an implied promise. How encouraging as well as extraordinary are the injunctions "Be filled with the Spirit." "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." "Walk in the Spirit," as if all the infinite, inexhaustible, and omnipotent power of that Divine Agent, were at our command, and we might have as much of his power as we wanted, wished, and chose to appropriate to ourselves.

A few DIRECTIONS in reference to this divine light and power, will occupy the remainder of this chapter.

1. Divine agency is not intended to supersede—but to aid our own exertions. This is the meaning of that remarkable passage of Scripture, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do." The apostle does not say, "as God works in you, there is no need of your working," but, on the contrary, "Do you work, because God works." We must be as diligent, as devoted, as intent, as if all depended upon ourselves; as dependent as if we could do nothing. God does nothing without us, and we can do nothing without him. We must walk—but it must be in the Spirit. If then, we would have divine aid, we must not be found in the lying, sitting or even standing posture—but in the walking attitude. We must gird up our loins, take our staff and set forward—but all in a frame of dependence upon the power of God. "You meet him," says the Prophet, "who works righteousness." God's spirit comes upon the walking, working servant, not upon the sleeping one.

2. Would we have much of the Spirit's influence, we must have faith in the Spirit. This is as necessary as is faith in Christ. There must be an acting of faith, appropriate to the distinct official works of the Holy Trinity in the economy of Redemption. We must believe in the Father's moving originating love, in the Son's executive grace, and the Spirit's applying power. We must believe in the promises of this divine power, consider it as solemnly engaged to believers by covenant, and as a thing to be expected according to the declaration of the word of God. It must not appear to us as a matter so vast and surprising as that we can hardly presume to calculate upon it; for this is an obstacle of unbelief that will prevent the divine communication from flowing in upon us. Instead of wondering at those large communications which have been granted to particular people and communities, we should attribute it to the unbelief and indolence of the church that they are not more frequent, and more copious.

Placed as we are under the dispensation of the Spirit, his gracious communications should no more surprise us, than the showers of rain do in a country where rain abounds; it is the drought rather, that should be a matter of astonishment in such a situation. There is evidently a weakness of faith in the church of Christ, touching this divine communication.

3. There must be a deep poverty of mind, an impressive sense of our indigence and dependence—if we would walk in the Spirit and be sustained by his gracious aid. We must feel, as if in our spiritual course, we could not stir a step, nor perform a single action without him. Our frame of mind should be the very opposite of that of the church of Laodicea, who thought they had need of nothing. We must think and feel, that we have need of everything. This divine Agent is not likely to bestow his aid, where it is neither valued nor sought. It is fitting that we should feel our poverty, before we are enriched, and cry out from the depths of our indigence, "Have mercy upon me, for I am poor and needy." O, where is this sense of need among professors of the present day? It is an article of their creed—but is it a deep inwrought feeling of their heart? Do they look and talk, as if they felt their destitution? They mention it in their prayers, and admit it in their conversation—but is not this all? Whom do we hear mourning of their low estate, their deep necessity of divine grace, and expressing their longing for more copious effusions of celestial influence? Who complains of the drought? Who says, "When will the spiritual rain come?" Who inquires why the Spirit does not come down upon his church, the garden of the Lord, and upon the wilderness and solitary place? "It is with a great many Christians as it is said to have been with Samson. He knew not that the Lord was departed from him. God was gone—his great strength was gone, yet he knew it not—but thought to have found it with him as at other times. When we walk or run day to day, in a course of ordinary duty, and it may be, get nothing by it, no life, no strength, no influence of the Spirit, how little sense all this while is there of its absence from us? How few that regret the matter! One would think that there should be strange throbbings and palpitations of heart among us to think how little there is of the Spirit of the living God breathing in his own ordinances, and through the most sacred, and weighty, and important truths that we hear, from time to time. Methinks our hearts should misgive us, and we should be often recounting with ourselves, 'What will this come to?' A religion not animated by the Spirit, in which there is no life, no influence, what will this come to?"

4. If we would have much of divine influence, we must feel an intense desire after this precious blessing; united at the same tine with a deep sense of our utter unworthiness of it. God is under no other obligation to grant it, than that which he has voluntarily submitted to, in binding himself by his own promise. We are not to suppose that it is this promise, or the gracious communication which it assures to us, that constitutes the ground of our responsibility, as if God could not justly require anything from us, or punish us for not doing it, if he did not grant us his grace. All that is necessary to make us accountable, is a means of knowing what God's will is, natural facilities to apprehend it, and sufficient motives to do it. We have all this without the Holy Spirit, whose influence where it is given, is as much an act of pure grace, and sovereign mercy, as the mission of Jesus Christ. We must, therefore, cast away from us all idea of deserving this bestowment, or claiming it on the ground of justice. We must feel it to be an act of amazing love that God should not only give us his Son—but his Spirit also! That it is an act of most wonderful condescension never to be sufficiently admired that God should make a Temple for the Holy Spirit in our hearts; a display of infinitely greater condescension, than for the greatest monarch upon earth to take up his dwelling in a cottage of mud for the benefit of his subjects.

We should say, therefore, as the centurion did, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof." The lower we lie, the deeper we sink in humility and a sense of unworthiness, the more we shall have of this blessed power. The grace of God, like the dew, falls everywhere—but falls in greatest abundance in the valley, and lies longest in the shade. But this sense of unworthiness must not check our desire; we cannot deserve it—but we must desire it; yes, and with vehement longings of the soul, and pantings of the heart.

And must we need to be stirred up to desire so inestimable a benefit? What! are arguments necessary to prove to us the value of that without which our body is but the sepulcher of a dead soul, and our whole existence but walking in a vain show? Are motives necessary to induce us to seek after that, without which we are dead while we live? If we could do without it, we need not desire it; if we could not have it, it would be vain to cherish any longings after it—but when it is essential to our spiritual existence; when it is promised by God; when we are commanded to seek it; when the possession of it in a large measure may be solicited; when the possession of it would be followed by such happy results—how earnestly should we covet it, and vehemently pant for it.

O! did we but properly consider what a glorious communication the Spirit of God is, and what a blessed thing it is to be filled with the Spirit; what an honor and a felicity it is to have this Divine Guest taking full possession of our soul as his Temple, overshadowing us with his glory, and filling us with his presence as he did the Holy of Holies in Mount Zion—how eagerly would we long for it, and how intensely breathe forth the desires of our soul after it. In the visible heavens, we see God above us in the earth, God around us. In the law, we see God against us. In Christ, we see God with us. But in the indwelling of the Spirit, we have God in us. And if it be the presence of God that makes heaven, then by the indwelling of the Spirit we have something of heaven upon earth. It not only leads us to the porch of heaven and the confines of eternity; not only conducts us to the top of Pisgah, where we may take a survey of the promised land; but carries us to the Mount of Transfiguration, where beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are changed as by the Spirit of the Lord, from glory to glory, into the same image.

O Christians! stir up your hearts to covet this heavenly communication. Let us set before our minds the sad case of those who are destitute of it, or have but small measures of it—how low, and earthly, and vain a life they are living; how little of God, or Christ, or heaven, or holiness there appears in them; and how much to be dreaded is such a course. Let us consider what blessed fruits, what holy tempers, what spiritual joys, what foretastes of heaven, what blossomings of glory, would result to us from large measures of this divine light and power. Let us, therefore, shake off our indolence, resist the world, put away every obstacle to the coming down upon us, and into us, of this holy influence. Let us open the door of our heart, and keep it wide open for the entrance of this heavenly visitant. Let us look for him, wait for him, and long for him—as we would for the arrival of a friend that was to bring us a medicine which would save us from death, or wealth that was to prevent us from going to prison.

5. If we would have the Holy Spirit to assist us in the divine walk, we must earnestly pray for his power and influence in our lives. This is the gracious blessing, which our Lord has encouraged us to solicit by that touching appeal which he makes to our own parental feelings—"If you being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to those who ask him." Wonderful passage! It teaches us that having given us his Son, his Holy Spirit is that next blessing which his paternal heart is delighted to bestow; which, like the mother waiting to feed a hungry, crying, and imploring child, he is ready to grant. But oh, where, we ask again, where are those vehement longings after the Spirit, which are breathed forth in fervent, believing, and effectual prayers? Those pantings after God, those longings and thirstings after righteousness, which are represented as bringing after them their own gratification? To be rich in worldly gain—not rich in the Spirit's influence—is the object with the great multitude of professing Christians.

6. If we would have the influence of the Spirit, there must be a resignation of ourselves to his guiding wisdom, and governing power; a giving up of ourselves into his hands, to be habitually led by him. Just such a surrender and a following of him, as we would determine upon in reference to a skillful guide, who had undertaken to conduct us over high mountains, and by the side of dangerous precipices. How we would mark his footsteps, watch the motion of his arm, as it pointed out the track, and in some instances entreat him to take us by the hand, and lead us forward. So should we give ourselves up to be led and helped by the Spirit of God. There should be a flexible frame of mind, yielding to the gentlest touches; a docile spirit, learning by the most distant hints.

"As the natural consequence," says Mr. Hall, in his invaluable tract on the Work of the Spirit, "of being long under the guidance of another, is a quick perception of his meaning, so that we can meet his wishes before they are verbally expressed; something of this ready discernment, accompanied with instant compliance, may reasonably be expected from those who profess to be habitually led by the Spirit. You have sometimes felt a peculiar seriousness of mind, the delusive glare of worldly objects has faded away, or become dim before your eyes, and death and eternity appearing at the door, have filled the whole field of vision. Have you improved such seasons, for fixing those maxims and establishing those practical conclusions, which may produce an habitual sobriety of mind, when things appear under a different aspect? The Spirit is said to make intercession for the saints, with groanings that cannot be uttered. When you have felt those ineffable longings after God, have you indulged them to the uttermost? Have you stretched every sail, launched forth into the deep of the divine perfections and promises, and possessed yourselves as much as possible of the fulness of God? There are moments when the conscience of a good man is more tender, has a finer and more discriminating touch than usual; the evil of sin in general, and of his own in particular, appears in a more pure and piercing light. Have you availed yourselves of such seasons as these for searching into the chambers of imagery, and while you detected greater and greater abominations, been at pains to bring them out and lay them before the Lord? Have such visitations effected something towards the mortification of sin; or have they been allowed to expire in mere ineffectual resolutions? There are moments in the experience of a good man, when he feels a more than ordinary softness of mind; the frost of selfishness dissolves, and his heart flows forth in love to God and his fellow-creatures. How careful should we be to cherish such a frame, and to embrace the opportunity of subduing resentment, and of healing those wounds that it is scarcely possible to avoid, in passing through this unquiet world."

Walk, then, brethren, in the Spirit. Let there be a habitual dependence on this divine Agent. The Christian profession is a great and an solemn thing—to fail in it will be dreadful, yes, intolerable misery. To fail here is to fail for eternity, to miscarry in the greatest and most solemn transaction in which we can ever be engaged. And fail we must, if the Spirit of God does not help us. We may not become immoral, or infidels, or heretical, or profane; but we shall lie down and die in worldly-mindedness:, we shall perish in apparent respectability and comfort; we shall sink to the bottomless pit, amidst ease, and wealth, and all that is pleasant in this world; we shall go down to the regions of eternal night from the very midst of the church—if we have not the Spirit of God. Be this, then, our supreme, our habitual, our ever-quickening, moving solicitude, to obtain the Spirit of God. There is no other way to live—but by the Spirit; no other way to walk—but by the Spirit; this is the principle of holy vitality in our profession, which will render it like a tree verdant in its leaf, and abundant in its fruit; but without which, it will be a fruitless vine, withered in its foliage, scathed in its branches and its trunk—and fit for nothing but to be cut down, and cast into the fire!