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CHAPTER XXXI.

MINISTERIAL EFFICIENCY,

CONTINUED.

5. It is indispensibly necessary to success, that the truth be delivered on

demonstration of the Spirit”--Instanced in Paul's preaching-To be “filled with the Spirit”—What it means and whence the obligation to it Necessary as an accompanying testimony to the truth of God's message by us and for other reasons-Cannot be wanting without guilt, &c.— The necessity of a minister's being an experimental exercised christian—The very instincts and sympathies of our nature where the facts of our religion are believed, prevent indifference in the minister of Christ-Paul's spirit commended—The example of Christ and His apostles--No success to be expected if we are not filled with the Spirit-How this is to be at tained-Necessity of meditation and prayer-Important that there should be much knowledge of the human heart—6. If we would be successful we must confidently expect success--Ample warrant to expect it--Objection urged from the “divine Sovereignty" —Answered by a reference to missionary effort--A general view of the divine government--- Also from the ample warrant given us in the promises of God to anticipate success—And their actual fulfilment when plead in faith— Apostolical success—The relațion of the ministry to the government of God-Have an agency in forwarding the millenial glory--And a yet more important relation to the glorious scenes of eternity.

5. It is indispensibly necessary to ministerial success, that the truth be delivered "in demonstration of the Spirit.' To this cause the apostle referred the efficiency of his preaching. He preached, so as to give a demonstration to his hearers, that the Holy Ghost was in him. Ademonstration of this is of vastly greater consequence than of great talents or erudition. lie also preached, so as to give a demonstration that he was assisted by the Spirit in his work. To Ilis agency he referred continually as the means of his success. For His in liuence he prayed. And he tcok care his hearers should know that from that Spirit he actually derived his aid. He prcached the truth with such light and power, as to give a demonstration, that it was the Spirit's own weapon for convincing and conrerting sinners. Although it came through his lips, it was the Spirit, that effectually operated by it. It was the Spirit speaking in him.

1 1 Cor. ii, 4.

Such preaching cannot fail to be successful. We dare appeal to the experience of every zealous, and spiritual teacher, whether his ministrations have not always been successful in proportion as he has been imbued with the Spirit of God? There has been an unction, a pathos, a fervour, a power which has made the hearer involuntarily exclaim, “God is in him of a truth,” and the effects hare been very perceptible. But while this will perhaps be admitted by most, is there not reason to fear, that none of us sufficiently realize our obligations thus to preach the word. Our blessed Master led the apostles to expect that they "should receive power, after that the Holy Ghost was come upon them, and that they should be witnesses for Him." And they did receive it, and no sooner did they begin to speak, and testify to Christ, than thousands were pricked in their hearts and cried out "men and brethren what shall we do.” The words of the apostles had a much more powerful effect on them, than the miracles performed before them, or the visible tokens of the Spirit's presence. They were “baptized with the Holy Ghost," and the same promise of the Spirit, which was then fulfilled in them, reaches to this day, and authorizes the expectation of the same power to accompany us, and our minis1 Acts i. 7, 8.

2 Acts i. 5.

trations. We may and must obe filled with the Spirit, and as thus furnished for our work, “how shall one chase à thousand and two put ten thousand to flight.”

On this subject we feel deeply, and beg leave, with all modesty, to drop one or two hints, conscious that we our: selves have much to learn, nor forgetting that "days should speak and multitude of years should teach wisdom." The obligation to “be filled with the Spirit,” cannot be denied. It is just as obvious, and peremptory, and as much à thing to be expected of course in christian experience, as it is that we be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." Ministers and private christians, alike are bound, to "live in the Spirit,” and “walk in the Spirit.”4 If we are not "filled with the Spirit,” it is not because God, by any capricious or arbitrary dispensation, is pleased to deny us His influence, so that we must wait till a more propitious season of revival arrives. At no time does the Spirit withdraw from us, till we "grievc" and "vex” Him. And he is ready, at any moment, to return to us, when we do not, by our impenitence and unbelief prevent Him. “Draw nigh to God,” says the apostle James, “and He will draw nigh to you.. Cleanse your hands ye sinners, and purisy your hearts

ye

double-minded." He “that dwells in the high and holy place, (dwells) with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 995 If we have not the Spirit it is beyond all dispute our own fuull forsif (men) being evil, know how to give good gifts to (their) children, how much more shall (our) IIeavenly Father know how to give the Iloiy Spirit, to them that ask Him?"7

1 Deut. xxxii. 20.
4 Gal. v. 25.
7 Lukc xi. 13.

2 Job xxxii. 7.
5 Jam, iv. 8.

3 Eph. v. 18.
6 Isa. lvüi. 15.

But what does this mean? We have already seen that ideas of personal inhabitation, of infused grace and of any mystic agency of the Spirit, form no part of the scriptural doctrine of His influence; but that that influence is exercised and displayed in the appropriate impressions of truth, upon our minds and hearts. A man's mind is full of his subject, when it occupies his thoughts, engages the interest of his heart, and is the continual theme of his conversation. we say a man is full of his project or full of himself-he is full of wisdom, full of sorrow, full of wrath, &c., when there is the governing and absorbing influence of such matters, and such affections. In like manner we are filled with the Spirit, when mind, heart and conversation, are under the appropriate, prevailing, absorbing influence of any one or more of the great truths, through which the Spirit operates. And this is the sense in which the phrase is used in the sacred scriptures. Elizabeth on hearing Mary's salutation "was filled with the Holy Ghost." There was indeed an extraordinary, though not unnatural, bodily sensation first experienced, which induced the conviction that she saw the mother of her Lord, the long promised Messiah, and that thought, or truth, or fact took complete possession of her mind.

It was predicted of John the Baptist, that he should be "filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb," that is, from the earliest period of his history, he should be under the controling and absorbing influence of the Spirit. And such was the fact, He was absorbed in his work, and his mind was deeply imbued with truths, which did not thus afect others. Zacharias recovering his specch and prophesying -thus giving proof of the powerful impression of the truth upon his mind,--was said to have been "filled with the Holy Ghost." So also, when the apostles on the day of Pentecost, began to speak, it is observed by the historian that 1 Luke i. 41: 2 Luke i. 15.

3 Luke i. 67.

Gotkey were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Peter before the Sanhedrim, the apostles when Peter and John returned, and Paul in his address to Elymas the sourcerer, are all said to have been filled with the Holy Ghost, and when we advert to circumstances, we find that the boldness, and absorbing zeal and feeling with which they spoke the truth, are especially worthy of notice. The truths of christianity, when really and fully believed, will make a deep and absorbing impression, and when they do so, we are filled with the Spirit-i.e. our spirits are appropriately and fully excited by the Spirit of God, through the instrumentality of His own truth, as apprehended and cordially believed by us.

Now, that they should be thus believed by every one, especially by the ministers of Jesus Christ, who will deny? Is not the obligation to this, as strong as the truth of Him who speaks can make it, and as solemn as eternity? We are not at liberty, at any time, to refuse to believe the man who speaks the truth. Much less are we, where God is the one that testifies. Nor can we, without guilt, remain unaffected by what He testifies. For lle never trifles with us, or asks our attention to matters of little or no importance. God is ever serious, and IIis communications to us, are on themes of deep and thrilling interest. To treat them with indifference--to remain unmoved by them, is and must be highly criminal in us. It is a virtual impeachment of the divine solicitude and sincerity.

A deep, operative, heart-felt conviction of the truth, is also indispensably necessary, as our accompanying testimony to the truth of what God testifies. Suppose that a minister of Christ should rise up in the sacred desk, or elsewhere, and address his fellow-men on divine things, in a light and lippant style, or in a cold scholastic manner, or with studied theatrical display, or with evident care

1 Acts ii. 4. 2 Acts iv. 8. 3 Acts iy.31. 4 Acts xüi. 9. &c.

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