Page images

must first be in Christ, before thou canst be a new


Dr. Preston.


Ir may be said of the Holy Spirit, what Christ has said of other spirits-"by his fruit ye shall know him." The fruit of the Spirit is love: love of God, from a just sense of his perfections, which render him no less the object of rational love, than of holy fear; love of man, as created in the image of God, a more especial love of Christians, as brethren and members of Christ. Joy: a mind untroubled and serene amidst all the discouragements and vexations of the world, a full satisfaction, and entire complacency, in the ability of a holy life. Peace a disposition and endeavour to live peaceably with all men, not only by avoiding what might justly provoke their enmity and ill-will, but by a studious cultivation of the friendship of mankind, by all means which may be consistent with the purity of our own conduct, and with the interests of that religion, which we are called upon, at all hazards, to profess and to maintain. Long-suffering: a patient endurance of the evil qualities and evil practices of men, even when they create particular disturbance and molestation to ourselves, founded on an equitable attention to that natural infirmity and corruption, from which none of us are entirely exempted; a temper more inclined to bear, than to retaliate, much unprovoked injury and undeserved reproach-esteeming injury and reproach a lighter evil of the two than the restless spirit of contention and revenge. Gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: these are the

fruits by which the Spirit of God is known. But every man's own conscience must decide whether these fruits are ripened to any perfection in his heart, whether they are the ruling principles of his conduct. If his conscience is void of offence towards God and towards man; if he make it the business of this life to prepare for his future existence; if he use the present world without abusing it; if he is patient in affliction -not elated in prosperity-mild in power-constant in servitude-liberal in wealth-honest in poverty-fervent in devotion-temperate in pleasure; if he values not the present world above its real worth, and sets his chief affection on eternity; this propriety of conduct in the various situations of life-this holy habit of the soul, turning from the things that are seen, and looking forward to the things invisible, is the undoubted work of God's Holy Spirit.



I. GRACE hath a soul-quickening excellence in it: Grace is the soul's vital artery; the man void of grace is dead, he hath breath, yet wants life; but when the Spirit of God infuseth grace into the soul, it doth not only irradiate, but animate, therefore is called, "the light of life." (John viii. 12.) By grace the soul is grafted into Christ, "the true vine," and is made not only living, but lively.-Oh; what a divine energy grace puts forth into the soul.

II. Grace hath a soul-enriching excellency, (1 Cor. i. 5.) "Ye are enriched in all knowledge. As the sun enricheth the world with its golden beams, so doth knowledge, arising from grace in the heart, bespangle

and enrich the mind. The promises are full of hea venly riches; and the soul, "rich in faith," hath the key that unlocks that cabinet, and then sweetly gathers of the treasure. The riches of grace excel all other riches.

1. The soul possessing these riches must possess wisdom: An heir to earthly riches may live till he comes of age, yet may never arrive to years of discretion; but it is one of the properties of these riches to make a man wise. The saints are compared to "wise virgins;" are said to know "Satan's devices," and to be wise to salvation." They possess the serpent's eye in the dove's head.

2. These riches sanctify other riches. Grace corrects the poison, takes away the curse, and makes other riches beneficial; without it riches are golden snares, unblest blessings; but with it they are certificates of God's love, and we partake not only of the "venison," but the "blessing" also.

3. These riches satisfy, other riches cannot. The heart of the worldling is never filled with the world; but grace fills the soul, dilates the heart, and ravisheth the affections with that joy which is a foretaste of heaven.

[ocr errors]

III. Grace hath a soul-adorning excellency. Chrysostom observed, "If a man hath plate and jewels, cloth of gold, hangings of arras, these adorn the house, not the man; the glory of a man is grace." She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace. (Prov. iv. 9.) Grace puts beauty and lustre on its possessor; (see 1 Pet. iii. 4, 5.) The heart, inlaid and enamelled with grace, "is, like the king's daughter, all glorious within;" it is the soul's purest complexion, and the flower of delight which Christ loves to smell; it is as the dove, covered with silver wings, and golden feathers.

IV. Grace hath a soul-cleansing excellency. Grace is a spiritual laver; therefore, it is called, (Tit. iii. 5,) the "washing of regeneration." Mary, when renewed by grace, while her tears washed Christ's feet, they washed her heart, as they were the effect of the grace of repentance. Grace is of a celestial nature, it subdues sin, though it doth not wholly remove it; though sin, in a gracious soul 's not perfectly dead, yet it dies daily. Grace lays t... naturally black soul out a whitening, and makes the heart a spiritual temple, having this inscription, "Holiness to the Lord."

V. Grace hath a soul-strengthening excellency. How strong, by the power of grace, were the three children, boldly to march in the face of death; neither were they allured by the sound of the music, nor affrighted by the heat of the furnace; they preferred the honour of Jehovah before their own lives. No armour but the Christian's can both defend and inspire its wearer with courage. Grace not only makes a Christian bear, but also glory in suffering, (Rom. v. 3.) Steeled, and animated with grace, he can tread upon the lion and adder," (Ps. xci. 13,) and, with the "leviathan, laugh at the shaking of a spear.” (Job xli. 29.)

VI. Grace hath a soul-raising excellency. "The way of life is above to the wise." (Prov. xv. 24.) When the loadstone of the Spirit touches the heart, it is drawn up to God, holds communion, and hath "fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." The believer is a citizen of heaven; there, by faith, he trades; he lives in the altitudes, while others creep on the earth, and are almost buried in it. Grace shoots the heart above the world; it humbles, -yet elevates.

VII. Grace hath a perfuming excellency. There is a double perfume grace sends forth.

1. It perfumes our names. "By faith the elders obtained a good report." Oh! what a fresh perfume do the names of Abel, Abraham, Moses, Phineas, and others, send forth to this day! Grace was the spice which perfumed their names; thus is grace aromatical, it embalms the names of men.

2. It perfumes our duties. (Ps. cxli. 2.) "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense." Noah's sacrifice was a perfume; "The Lord smelled a sweet savour." (Gen. viii. 21.) The sighs of the wicked are unsavoury breath; his solemn sacrifice is "dung." (Mal. ii. 3.) Such a stench arises from a sinner's duties, that God will not come near, "I will not smell in your solemn assemblies." (Amos v. 21.) But grace gives a fragrancy to our holy things. O that we may wear this flower in our hearts!

VIII. Grace hath a soul-ennobling excellency. (Isa. xliii. 4.) "Since thou wert precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable." Theodosius thought it more dignity to be Christ's servant, and wear his livery, laced with the silver graces of the Spirit, than to be great and renowned in the world. Christ tells the wicked their pedigree. (John viii. 44.) “Ye are of your father the Devil." The Devil's cloven foot might with propriety be pourtrayed on their escutcheons. None are truly high born, but those who are divinely inspired; and such act suitable to their birth, despising every thing sordid and vile. The saints are called for their dignity, "kings and priests," (Rev. i. 6;) and "jewels," for their value. (Mal. iii. 16.)


IX. Grace hath a soul-securing excellency, (Prov. x. 2.) "Righteousness delivers from death." is the best life-guard; it sets the Christian out of gunshot, and frees him from the power of hell and damnation. Oh! what an unceasing comfort it should be to the believer, that the fire of God's wrath cannot

« PreviousContinue »