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be brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace unto it. He carries it on by grace bestowed, or the gift of grace. By this, more than any other method, he promotes Christ's spiritual temple. Without this, all his other plans would be inefficacious. The gift of grace includes all his saving operations. His gracious work with every individual is begun in uniting to Christ and implanting faith ; and it prospers in proportion to that precious grace. He illuminates the heart; inflames it with love; and inspires it with zeal. While by his graces he builds up those in whom they flourish; he makes them instrumental in the salvation of others. A decline of love and zeal mars the work. When all seek their own things, Christ's interest will be neglected. The Redeemer's will keep pace with the effusion of the Holy Ghost as a Spirit of grace. When he is present, it will prosper. When he is provoked to depart, the progress will be retarded.
6. The Holy Spirit carries on the Redeemer's work as a Spirit of supplication. He is promised in this character, as well as a Spirit of grace. There is no way in which we can so much promote Christ's interest as by fervent prayer and wrestling. This engages Divine power and faithfulness. When the Lord is about to appear in his glory and build Zion, he will hear the prayer of the destitute. Prayer is to God's work what the hands of Moses were to Israel when fighting against Amalek. The most useful in a church and congregation is not the noisy talkative busy professor, who runs about as if every thing depended on his head and mouth, his hands and feet;
but the poor hidden believer who frequents his closet, and will neither go away without the blessing for himself, nor for Zion's sake hold his
peace. Great is the power of prayer. The conversion of sinners and the edification of saints will, in general, bear proportion to the fervent wrestlings of the Lord's people. It is a certain symptom of revival when a spirit of prayer is poured from on high. When the clouds thicken, the rain approaches. On the other hand, it is a sure test of a declining church when a prayer
is restrained. Christ delights to be entreated. When church members have no employment for him, he begins to go away. When those, , from whom the merchant can have any expectations, are gone, and only a few children amusing themselves in the market-place, he considers exposing his wares any longer as only a loss of time, and resolves to depart.
II. It was proposed in the next place to specify a few of the excellent purposes answered by the Lord's carrying on his work in this manner--Not by might or power, but by his own Spirit
1. It secures success to the work. When the Holy Spirit works none can let. If it depended on instruments, these are often weak, sometimes unwilling, and always insufficient. Though they could do more than is competent for such weak creatures, they are mortal, and die. God lives, and Zion must prosper. The work is committed to one who can never fail. He keeps his eye upon the promises, and will faith
fully accomplish them. He knows every elect vessel, and will bring the last of them to Christ and to glory. He knows the power of sin, and will subdue it. He will communicate whatever grace is necessary. He dwells in Zion to cleanse the blood that he hath not cleansed, and Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
2. It secures the glory to God, and makes GRACE the burden of the song. This is the great end of the whole plan of salvation; and it will be gained. Every degree of grace from conversion to glory, is for the honour of God. The Lord has formed his people for himself to show forth his praise. Sensible that he could not have delivered himself, every saint ascribes the glory to free grace. Those employed in public office are certain that they could as soon raise the dead, as translate an individual from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son. Gladly would religious ministers and parents convert their connexions, but it exceeds their
The Holy Spirit works all the work, and will bear the glory. So great a revenue of glory will accrue to him, that no just ideas can be formed of it, till we see it in a future world. Besides the power of his grace which quickens the soul and preserves it, there will be an illustrious display of infinite wisdom and care in innumerable instances, and he will be glorified by the season, as well as the event.
3. It prevents despondency in the most discouraging situation. The church and individual members are often reduced to straits which almost produce despair. Sometimes enemies cut down Zion's
carved work. Reformation once attained to is dropped and opposed. Doctrines are disregarded, and discipline is despised and neglected. Often they proceed to the hottest persecution. At other times, friends wax cold. The most spiritual decline. Their fervour abates, and their diligence is slackened. Former exertions are discontinued. In both cases, did the work depend on men, the prospect would be most distressing. The strength and activity of enemies and the languor and inactivity of friends would be equally discouraging. But, discovering the work in the hands of the Spirit, faith takes courage. Though men neither see how deliverance can be brought about, nor can accomplish it, He knows the manner, and is equal to the work. The deficiency of friends is always made up in him; and he can break the greatest opposition of enemies. The godly cease. These who have been most useful are removed. Zion trembles, and fears her loss can never be repaired. This and the other instrument is reckoned the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. The Holy Spirit can compensate the heaviest loss of this kind. He can raise up instruments equally qualified, or supply the church without them. All Israel lamented the death of Moses; but Joshua carried them unto the land of promise. Elijah dies; but a double portion of his spirit rested on Elisha. Times are often troublous. Even then, when the best would do little, the Holy Spirit can build the walls of Jerusalem. When Sion lies in rubbish, and no man cares for her, he can build her up, and restore her former beauty. Christ well knew that his church
would often be in a very perplexing condition; and that, reduced to the last extremity, she would be nonplussed and at her wit's end. He made ample provision in that encouraging declaration, John xiv. 16, “ And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he
may abide with
you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.” Indeed we greatly err, if we derive not all our encouragement from the Holy Spirit in the best, as well as the worst case. If matters prosper in Zion, he has done it; and if they go ill, he can rectify them, and has promised to do it.
4. Besides many other ends which might be named, the Lord takes this method that his people may always keep their eye on the word of grace, and the throne of grace. The word promises all that Sion needs. It encourages to make application. With the promise in its eye, faith cries, and prayer prevails. It cannot be otherwise. Infinite grace has made the promises, and will fulfil them. They are usually accomplished as an answer to prayer. The promises are various. They suit every condition. They secure deliverance from the hottest furnace, and a revival from the greatest declension. They ensure victory over enemies, and an increase of real friends. Were Sion to give up with every carnal scheme, and trust and plead the Divine promises, success would be certain. She would find both the truth and prosperity of the gracious declaration, that the Lord's temple will be built, and his work carried on, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.