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And wherever it is the case, the church in that place, will cease, as it has done already, in many other places, where it once existed. But it will, at no time, be the case universally. There will always be a church somewhere. If it should seem to be depressed, yet it will exist, and will again arise from its depression. And the time is coming, when all nations will fee and admire it. In the mean time, we should all be solicitous to maintain it among ourselves. We should all enter into it, labor to promote its purity, and, according to our ability, contribute to the enlargement of its borders, and the advancement of its interest. And in a day, when a great and effectual door is opened, when many of the friends of Zion seem to be engaged in her cause, and when there are many adversaries, we thould cheerfully afford our aid and concurrence in so important a cause.
Our subject teaches us, that neither in this case, nor any other, ought we to make the promises of God an excuse for the neglect of our duty. The good which God promises to men, he always brings about in a way of means, and in concur. rence with human agency. And if, when God dias promised a benefit, we, for this reason, neglect the proper means for obtaining it, we pervert the promise, and forfeit the benefit. God's prowifes are intended, not to encourage our neglect, but to excite our performance, of the duties required. We are to trust in him, and do good, and in welldoing to commit ourselves to him, as to a faithful Creator. When we wait
When we wait upon him in the way of duty, then we trust and honour him. When presuming on his promise, we neg. Ject our duty, we tempt and mock him. And it is written, « Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
The Anointing of the Spirit a sure evidence of our
Title to eternal life.
Delivered to an Association of Ministers.
1. JOHN ii. 27.
But the anointing, which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye
need not that any man teach you ; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
HE apostle here states the evidence by which believers ascertain their title to eternal life. This, he says, is the anointing, which they have received. What this anointing is, we shall, in the first place, explain ; and then apply the subject.
Anointing with oil was a ceremony used, according to divine institution, among the Jews, in consecrating men to facred and important offices. And the delign of it was, not only to indigitate the persons who were vefted with the offices, but also to denote the qualifications necessary to the execution of them. It in some cases fignified an eminent participation of the gifts and graces of the divine Spirit. The prophet Isaiah, speaking in the person of the Saviour, says, “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach glad tidings to the meek.” God is said " to have anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows." Hence he is often called the Meffrah and the Christ, both which words signify the Anointed.
As Jesus Christ, who received the Spirit with. out measure, is faid to be anointed and fanctified to the high office of Redeemer, so true believers, who are sanctified by the Spirit, and have the Spirit dwelling in them, are said “ to have an unction from the Holy One. St. Paul says to the Corin- . thians, “He who hath anointed us in God, who hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." To the Ephesians he says, “Af. ter ye heard the word of truth, and believed in Christ, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance."
The sealing of the Spirit is a metaphor, which St. Paul uses, to denote the fanctifying work of the Spirit in the hearts of believers. As a seal impressed on wax leaves there its own image, so
they, who are sanctified by the Spirit, are made : partakers of the divine nature. They are renew.
ed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness. And he uses the metaphor of anointing in the same sense. " He who hath anointed and sealed us, is God.” As ointment and per. fume please the sense and rejoice the heart, so the graces of the Spirit shed abroad in the soul, are pleasing and acceptable to God. They are as oint
ment poured forth. In them he smells a sweet favour.
This unction of the Spirit is a permanent work. Our apostle fays, “ The anointing, which ye have received of God, abideth in you.” In the literal anointing, oil is poured on the head. In the spiritual anointing grace is poured into the heart. The former evaporatęs ; the latter abides.
There may, indeed, be a work of the Spirit, which does not abide. “The Spirit is sent to convince the world of fin." The convictions, of which finners are the subjects, are usually accom. panied with some serious resolutions and partial reformations. But these too often are temporary and transient. We read of those, who in their affliction seek God early, but whose goodness vanilhes as a morning cloud--who in their trouble return and enquire early after God, but are not Itedfast in his covenant. We often fee similar cases. But the anointing, of which St. John speaks, is a durable change. It is a holy temper formed and maintained in the soul by a divine in. fluence accompanying the word of truth. “Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit fin,” or yield himself a fervant to it, “ for his feed re. maineth in him, and he cannot fin, because he is born of God.”
To know whether we are born of God, we must enquire whether we have our fruit unto ho. liness. To know whether we have received the spiritual anointing from God, we must examine whether the anointing abide in us. There may be in finners an alteration, which, in many respects, resembles real conversion, and yet essentially differs from it. The reality of saving repentance is more surely known by its permanent effects, than by any discriminating circumstances, which immediately attend it. If ye continue in my word," says our Lord," then are ye my disciples indeed.” “ Let no man deceive you ;” says St. John ; “He that doth righteousness, is righteous. He that committeth sin, is of the devil.” As the quality of a tree, so the character of a man, is known by the fruit.
You will observe farther ; the apostle says, “ Ye have no need that any man teach you ; but as this fame anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him ;" in Christ; or ye shall abide in it ; in the anointing ; or in the holy temper to which ye are renewed. To understand the apostle here, we must go
back to the two preceding verses.
66 This is the promise which he has promised us, even eternal life;" and this blessing he has promised us in Christ. The resurrection of Christ is a sensible and decisive ev. idence of a life to come. The immediate ground, on which we hope for this blessing, is the promise of God. But the question, which arises in the hearts of believers is, “ How shall we know our own particular title to it? That there is eternal life for some, we doubt not ; but what is the evidence on which we may appropriate the promise to ourselves ?” The apostle fignifies, that there is danger of deception here ; for there are some who give false instructions on the subject. “ These things have I written unto you, on account of them, who seduce you,” and who would gain you over to their sect by delusive flatteries. But, says he, “ if the anointing, which ye have received, abide in you, ye have no need, that any man teach you, for this will teach you of all things, which ye need to know relating to the matter in question ; that is, whether
that is, whether ye have a title to the