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and resists the holy Spirit of God, who would have rescued him from the powers of darkness: and, if he goes on at this rate, will quite put out those enlightening and enlivening influences of his, which, if encouraged and made good use of, would have shone brighter and brighter, and advanced from one degree of strength to another all his life. And the oftener any one thus rebels against the light, as it is expressed in the Book of Job, and acts contrary to the convictions of his mind, the secret misgivings of his soul, and pious resolutions, and renewed awakenings of the Spirit of God, the more provoking still it is, and will have a very fatal conclusion. But,
Secondly, when a man, through the goodness of God to him, has met with a faithful reprover of his faults, that has freely and impartially laid before him their vileness and ill consequences, and affectionately advised him, without delay, to amend them; and his conscience strikes in with his friend, and bears witness that his reproofs are just, and that he is indeed the man, guilty of those ill things he is charged with, and deserves the punishment due to them, and is ashamed and troubled and afraid when he reflects upon the number, the heinousness, and aggravations of his sins, and becomes inclinable to forsake them, as full of danger, and empty of any true satisfaction and content, and contrary to the sober reasoning of his own mind : this is the endeavour of his divine Reprover, by the ministry of conscience and a friend, to induce him to break off those evil courses, which will otherwise inevitably be his ruin.
But now if, after this kind care and concern of the good Spirit of God for him, he grows angry
with his reprover, and slights and disregards his admonitions, and diverts his thoughts from giving heed to such disagreeable things as the persuasives to repentance and reformation; and checks the inward motions and inclinations he feels to them; and returns with a fresh and greedy appetite 'to his wonted sins, that he may wear out, as soon as is possible, all impressions of that nature, and go on as he used to do, without control; this man does, in a very high degree, grieve and resist him whom our blessed Lord sent to reprove and convince the world of sin d; and if he persists to do so, will quite extinguish that divine principle of holy life, without whose quickening influences a stupid insensibility will seize upon us to every thing that is religious
Thirdly, when a man has had frequent discourses made to him of the great excellency and benefit, and necessity of prayer, and been often exhorted to the practice of this heavenly duty; and is convinced that he deserves not the name of a Christian that neglects it; and when he has seriously applied himself to it, has found unexpected assistance in the performance, raising his affections far above this world, and rendering the pleasures of devotion incomparably sweet and delightful; and when he has afterwards found that his religious fervours have grown cooler, and his mind not so intent upon and delighted with his prayers as before, which perhaps has often occasioned his neglect of them, and tempted him to lay them aside; has then, by some means or other, been again put in mind of his duty in this matter, and has felt an admonition from within to revive his dying flames, and raise them to their former height, and pray with the same ardour and cheerfulness, and love and constancy, as
d John xvi. 8,
before : these pious motions certainly proceed from the good Spirit of God, who is the spirit of prayer and supplication; and was sent to help our infirmities, that we may perform this most beneficial duty with such warmth and affection as may bring down a blessing from above.
And therefore when, after all this, the man either wilfully neglects the seasons and opportunities of prayer, public or private, or is cold and dead and unattentive at it, and suffers himself to continue so, without any care to rouse his sleepy soul, and excite and warm his devotion, and lets every little matter divert his thoughts to something else; this man grieves and resists that divine Spirit, whereby we are taught to cry, Abba, Fathere, and address ourselves in an acceptable manner to God; and will in time quench him, and provoke him to leave his soul utterly indisposed and out of tune for prayer
In the last place, when a man is exercised with troubles and afflictions, or assaulted with various temptations, and withal finds impressions of comfort upon his mind in the midst of his sorrows, to strengthen and support him under them; and feels inward restraints from complying with the temptations, and misgivings of heart when he thinks of yielding to them, and encouragements to steadfastness in his duty to God, and resolute resistance of . the tempter; these are the consolations and refreshments, the warnings and assistances of the great
e Rom. viii. 15.
Comforter and Guardian of Christians, the Holy Ghost, and which, blessed be God, we have all of us often experienced.
When therefore we are impatient, and full of murmurings and repinings, and unreasonably dejected under afflictions; and consent to the temptations we meet with from without, or feel within us, to evil thoughts and designs, or evil practices, notwithstanding the dissuasives of our consciences against them, and the inward reluctancy of our minds, and the good exhortations and advices of the ministers of religion; and break through all the methods the Holy Spirit takes to preserve us from them, or support us under them : this is unnaturally to insure to ourselves misery, by despising and rejecting his comforts, his protection, and defence, and throwing away the weapons and the armour that he gives us, and yielding ourselves up to our great enemy, who is continually contriving and pushing on our destruction.
And how, think we, will this grieve our divine Friend, who so sincerely desires our happiness, and does so much to secure it to us? And if we persist in this our strange, unaccountable folly, how can we expect but that he will be disobliged to that degree, as to have no more regard to us, but leave us to our obstinate, ungrateful, foolish selves. A sad and most deplorable condition; and from which we have the greatest reason in the world to pray with the utmost earnestness that God would in mercy deliver us!
Which brings me, in the
II. Second place, to shew, what are the dreadful consequences of thus quenching the Spirit of God.
And, first, this blessed Spirit being the only prin
ciple of spiritual life in the soul, and all its tendencies and progress heavenward owing to his Divine assistance, the consequence of our quenching, and forcing him to depart from us, and withdraw his influences, is no less than our spiritual death.
And then, though we may retain a form of godliness, an outward show and appearance of religion; yet, the life and spirit of it, which alone can render it beneficial to us, will be utterly wanting; and all the exercises of it, prayer, and preaching, and reception of the holy sacrament, will be no better than so many dead, empty, unprofitable formalities; that Holy Spirit being gone, who alone can give the life and power of religion to the soul; which will remain as insensible and unaffected with all this without it, as a dead body is when the breath of life is departed, or any piece of mechanism, notwithstanding the various movements that are given it by art. And consequently the outward performances of religion, though regularly repeated for ever, will be as far from imparting spiritual life to a soul deserted by the Holy Ghost, as the perpetual motion of a clock would be from making it become a living creature.
How extremely miserable therefore must that soul needs be, which is thus left of the quickening lifegiving Spirit of God; and without whose return, (which cannot be without a miracle of mercy, and which there is no reason to expect,) eternal death must follow our being lifeless and stupid to religion here, and dead in trespasses and sins !
As much, therefore, as it concerns us to avoid this extremest misery, so much it concerns us to do all that we can to cherish that life-giving power, by