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out to be chosen to heal the sorrows, and comfort the declining years of the mother of our Lord. These characteristics are such as can never be mistaken. The individuals remain the same individuals still, though, doubtless, the characters of all of them were influenced, improved and altered, as far as moral and spiritual influences can alter, in a degree greater perhaps than has ever taken place with any other individual on earth.
In regard to the influence of the Spirit we would make this further remark, that is no objection whatever to its reality, that some persons are not conscious of its operation in their own particular case; neither is it an objection that some pious, but mistaken individuals have attributed to its operation certain feelings which are clearly the result of physical causes affecting their bodily organs. We are not to be moved by the incredulity of one class of persons, or the mistakes of another class, to reject what is unquestionably true, what is clearly and unequivocally declared to be true in the Scriptures, and what many thousands have attained the full assurance of being verified in their own personal experience. And as it regards the possibility of the thing, we have the express opinion of a late distinguished antagonist of revelation, that our inability to explain the manner in which it is affected is no just objection against it. Lord Bolingbroke observes, that "an extraordinary action of God upon the human mind is not more inconceivable than the ordinary action of mind on body, or body on mind, and that it is impertinent to deny the existence of any phenomenon merely because we cannot *account for it.
“Ye too, ye winds! that now begin to blow,
In regard to the Spirit's influence, let it be further remarked, that it is not to be expected to manifest itself by any outward throes or convulsions of the body, or by any sensible internal motions of natural feeling. It is seen only in its effects upon the life and conversation. St. John informs us how we should know that we have received the gift: †“Hereby we do know that we know him, (Jesus Christ,) if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him." If, then, we would know and be assured that we have in reality received the true influence of the Spirit, let us examine ourselves, whether we do, or anxiously endeavour to do, the will of God, and to keep His commandments. If our consciences answer us that we do, happy are we. There may be many lapses and shortcomings, but if we still hold fast the faith, and earnestly endeavour after new obedience, we shall not fail in the end to obtain our reward.
*Thomson's Lessons, p. 357. †1 John ii., 3-5.
The doctrine of regeneration is not therefore unreasonable or opposed to the analogy of nature, but is on the contrary in all respects conformable to God's dealings in the kingdoms of nature and of providence. The objections therefore of infidels and others made against it are founded in ignorance and are contradictory to the evidence and experience of men in all other departments of God's overruling providence. And since therefore it is so plainly and unequivocally taught in the Bible, it is and must be essential to the salvation of every man.
"Marvel not that I say unto you ye must be born again.”
And would you, my christian reader, be enabled to determine whether you have really experienced the influences of this lifegiving Spirit-you may do this in two ways. You may have experienced its power in such circumstances and with such accompanying emotions—it may have come upon you so like a rushing mighty wind—that you may have certain knowledge of the time, mode and manner of the Spirit's operation in convincing you of sin and then leading you to repentance and to peace and joy in believing. Or this may not have been your experience. The Spirit may have come to you as the still small voice and as the quiet, gentle zephyr, so that you were not made sensible of His illapse by any sudden, mighty or powerful working, but felt drawn to the Saviour and to His cause by the silken bands of love, and the silent influences of invisible grace. There was, it may be in your case, nothing of violence, or fearful convulsions. You were lead by the cords of a man. Every motive and argument was entirely agreeable to your faculties and accordant to the established laws of your minds. By frequent meditation, prayer, reading and hearing of the word, you were led to apply and feel the truth, to feel convinced of its certainty, and of your guilt and misery, to see the necessity and the glory of the Saviour; to call upon Him, cast your soul, on His mercy and take up your cross and follow Him, walking in all His statutes and ordinances blameless even unto the present hour, and delighting yourselves in His cause and service. Has it, dear reader, been so with you? Then you have been led by the Spirit of God in that way which pleased Him and suited you best. He brought these convictions into your hearts. He fastened them there. He perfected them in conversion, peace and joy. And He has enabled you to hold fast the profession of your faith steadfastly. Your heart, christian, is the Lord's garden and the question is—do the plants of righteousness grow and flourish there? Is the fragrance of holiness diffused over your whole heart and life and conduct? Does the wind of the Spirit fan the leaves of your piety, and thus nourish and sustain every christian grace? Do you abound in faith and love and charity and liberality? These are the fruits of the Spirit and these the best evidences that he has made your heart a fruitful garden. And let it therefore be your prayer and effort that as you have been planted in the house of the Lord you may also flourish in the courts of the Lord.
Finally, as without the continued operations of the winds the earth must become barren and unfruitful, the sea stagnant, and the air putrid, so is it with the heart. It is only by the continual agency and operation of the divine Spirit we can grow in grace and in the knowledge of God and in the assurance of faith and hope and joy, and it is only by the diligent, constant and prayerful use of the means of grace our sails can be trimmed and our vessels prepared and made ready, so that as the Spirit comes forth and breathes upon them, they may glide peacefully and successfully onward towards the haven of eternal repose. Be ye therefore steadfast and immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing in due time you shall reap if you faint not.
How sad and melancholy then, O, sinner, is your state? You have seen a piece of ground parched, dry, cracked, and barren because no rain had descended on it and no wind cooled it. Even such, O, sinner, is thy hard and impenitent heart! No dews of divine grace have been permitted to sink into it and no winds of the divine Spirit to work upon it and it is therefore nigh unto cursing. Our gospel is hid to you because you are lost to all sensibility of its need and of its glory. Awake then, thou sluggard, and call upon thy God. Give no slumber to your eyes until you have found acceptance with God and His Spirit has come forth and breathed upon your soul dead in trespasses and sins and made it alive in Christ Jesus.
In conclusion, we speak of the flight of years. Yes, "years rush by us like the wind. We see not whence the eddy comes, nor whitherward it is tending; and we seem ourselves to witness their fight without a sense that we are changed; and yet time is beguiling man of his strength, as the winds rob the woods of their foliage. He is a wise man, who like the millwright employs every gust."
"Does not the wind whisper, father?"
“Yes, child; you may learn to converse with it, and it shall tell you of its errand to earth. Pause when the lonely airs are calling stilly music from leaf and bough, in summer eventidewatch, as the stars peep forth, and the wind shall whisper to your heart of heaven."
“Does not the wind howl?"
“Yes, boy; then it tells the grandeur and the might of Omnipotence. If you have learned to joy in its balmy breathing, you must also know the great strength and glory of the wind. Is it not wonderful, my son? Even as this infant rivulet beneath us (upon which that dancing sunbeam has just alighted, piercing the leafy forest shade above,) rolls on and on, miles, leagues, and far away, still swelling, rising, and deepening, until at last it plunges into the vast desert of water around the globe, so can this gentle west wind, now so soft, rouse into louder voice, start into rage and terror, and fright the land and lash the ocean with tornado's wild and shrieking anger!'
“It is wonderful, father!"
"And it is wise, my son, and we must believe so, though we may not understand why it is so. Yes, the wind now sporting with the leaves around may tear those rooted trees from the firm earth, drive them like feathers along the land, dash off the mountain cone and whirl it into the vale, prostrate cities, and turn the coast of seas! It is wonderful!"
WIND AND SPIRIT.
Thy light and truth from Thine unseen abodes,
WIND AND SPIRIT.
If music of that calmer sphere,
SPIRIT AND WIND.
Thus doth Thy spirit walk with soundless tread