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answered. He is often in the duty, and earnestly desires that he may not seek in vain. Often he does not see his prayers immediately answered, and Satan and unbelief suggest that they are rejected. This text affords strong consolation. Christ assures him that his prayers shall be heard. God is his father, and pities his children. The promises are sealed with the blood of his elder brother, who has redeemed the inheritance, and procured the earnest. The Holy Ghost himself produces in their hearts the desires which they feel, and will not disappoint them.
5. This subject affords the strongest arguments for resignation to the Lord's will in his providential dispensations. He encourages us to pray; he hears our cries; and gives us the Holy Spirit. If in any instance that which we seek be not granted, we may well conclude that it would not be good for us. If we are emptied from vessel to vessel, it is surely best. If the Father has given his Son for us, and his Spirit to us, will he not with them freely give us all things? Other things are of less value, and if they could promote his purpose purpose of love, and our best interest, they would not be withheld. If dejected Christians could only believe these things, their "mourning would be turned into dancing, their sackcloth exchanged for gladness, and they would have joy unspeakable and full of glory."
6. That the proportion of love in this text which is so encouraging, and justly called on God's part" How much more," loudly calls for a corresponding return on our part. The proportion should be reciprocal. If children show such love to their parents, and depend
ance upon them, "How much more" should the hearts of believers be filled with love to their heavenly Father. We should not receive with one measure, and make our returns with another. Our confidence in our heavenly Father should be much more strong than that of children in their parents. We should open our hearts to, and disburden all our cares on, our heavenly Father. We should never ask these questions, "What shall we eat: what shall we drink: and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" God's children are the objects of his distinguishing care, and should trust his special promises.
It is to be lamented, however, that the greatest part of Gospel hearers, instead of endeavouring to make a suitable return, act as if "how much more" on God's part, warranted a "how much LESS" on theirs: so that the more God loves, the less he is loved.
Believers should apply with great importunity for the Holy Spirit. They should apply for him in all his different characters, and especially as a Spirit of grace and supplications. In proportion as they receive him, they will be holy and humble, prayerful and comfortable.
Some object, saying, "I have long sought the Holy Spirit, but I cannot think I have received him: if the Lord the Spirit were with me, all this would not have befallen me."
We would answer, Your long seeking, and your strong desire, are evidences in your favour. It is a good sign when persons see their need of the Spirit, and seek him; and are filled with sorrow when they apprehend that they have not received him. Many
enjoy the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who cannot be persuaded of it. The publican had a great measure of the Spirit, but could not believe it. His prayer, though short, had every evidence of being dictated by the Holy Ghost. It was scriptural, and the earnest desire of his heart; it proceeded from a deep sense of guilt and need, and was accompanied with great reverence; it was suited to his own condition, and mingled with some hope that the Lord would be merciful: in his application he was selfemptied, had no confidence in the flesh, and sent up his prayer in the name of Christ, and sought mercy through the propitiation. Thus persons may have the Spirit without being sensible of it; and though any should have long asked, they should pray, and not faint. The Holy Ghost is a blessing well worth the waiting for.
Others object, "I once thought I had the Spirit; I could pray, and that duty was my delight; I longed for ordinances, and loved the habitation of the Lord's house; and thought I was refreshed, strengthened, and had communion with the head; now it is otherwise; my desires are faint, and my lips closed; ordinances are dry and tasteless, and the Lord seems to have taken away his Spirit from me."
Perhaps you have quenched the Spirit. Inspect your conduct. Lament after the Lord. Cry with much affection. Perhaps he has withdrawn in sovereignty. Wait on him. Light is sown for the righteous, and shall spring up. Full enjoyment is reserved for heaven. The day will break, and the shadows
Sinners, be persuaded to seek the Spirit. You greatly need him. Without him you can perform no duty acceptably. Without him you hasten on your everlasting ruin. You should apply to God as your Father. If ever you begin to call him your Father in faith, you cannot do it too soon. You are no worse than his children once were. Like you, they were of their father the devil. God in his mercy made them take thought about eternity. They cried, and he gave them the Spirit. While you have the same need, you have the same call. Improving it, you will have the same success. You have the same encouragement, for to you Christ says, " If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Spirit to them that ask him."
II CORINTHIANS V. 11.
Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade
PAUL was uncommonly diligent in his Master's service. He could say, without boasting, I laboured more abundantly than others. He was zealous in propagating the faith which he once destroyed. Much was forgiven him, and he loved much. He was constrained by love, and felt its power as a commanding principle. He was greatly impressed with the importance of death and eternity. The day of judgment was most momentous in his eye, and he always spake of it with peculiar emphasis. That he might find mercy of the Lord in that day, and be free of the blood of all men; that he might glorify Christ, and win souls to him, were powerful motives to diligence, made him patiently endure hardships, and count nothing dear in Christ's service.
When false apostles pretended to equal him either in doctrine, zeal, or holiness, he condescended on different instances of his sincerity and their hypocrisy. But if persons would not believe him, he told them there was a day coming which should declare, when the secrets of all hearts would be revealed. Im