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have seen this Sabbath, nor have been favored with the invaluable privileges we now enjoy. Will not all who partake of his spirit exercise forbearance towards one another? Will they be backward to forgive? Will they harbor ill-will or any feelings towards their brethren or others which will prevent them from falling down on their knees and praying for them? What were the feelings manifested by the Lord of glory, while, in view of the gazing multitude, he endured the tortures of the cross? He prayed for those who cruelly mocked his sufferings, yea, for his murderers, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." This was the spirit of Christ; and the Holy Spirit leaves an impress of the same heavenly temper on the souls of all who have been born again. The divine requirement is, that “with long-suffering, we forbear one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” All conversions, however remarkable in the first indications of them, which fail of making men, in their tempers, resemble Christ, are of little worth.
V. Another fruit of the Spirit is GENTLENESS.
This is an humble, mild, unassuming, and inoffensive deportment. The real Christian, when looking at his own imperfections, and especially when he takes an impartial survey of his own heart, sees much more to condemn in himself than he can see in others, as he louks on their exterior only. He, therefore, in his feelings, takes a low place, and is ready to esteem others better than himself. Even the apostle Paul spoke of himself as being “ less than the least of all saints.” My brethren, humility is that which becomes us, for what have we to be proud of? Du we cherish a hope of being in the family of Christ? We must not forget the depths of sin, pollution, and wretchedness from which we have been redeemed. Keeping this in view, we shall be gentle towards all men, “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” The Holy Spirit never teaches men to be censorious, but to imitate the gentleness of Christ.
VI. Another fruit of the Spirit is GOODNESS.
The Christian character is not formed by one act, however good, nor by a number of acts performed at long intervals, but by a series of them rendered habitual. “A good tree bringeth forth good fruit." The habits of a Christian are good at home and abroad, in the field and in the work-shop. He is sincere in his professions and declarations, and upright in his intercourse with friends and foes. He acts in the fear of God, and stands in awe of him when temptations arise. His character is made up by a careful attention to numerous things, little as well as great. Religion planted in his soul sweetens all his affections, and makes him appear heavenly-minded. Put the whole together and it is goodness. This is a fruit of the Spirit, discerned by seeing the whole man renewed. Most evidently, that temper of mind which will influence us to obey one of God's requirements will influence us to obey them all, as far as we understand them. For this fruit of the Spirit in themselves let all faithfully search, who would found their hope of salvation on their resembling Christ, the King and Head of the church.
VII. Another fruit of the Spirit is FAITH.
By this is meant confidence in God-in his testimony-in his promises, and an entire resting of the soul on Christ for pardon and salvation. In the exercise of faith, the new-born soul discovers his own ruined and helpless condition, and the all-sufficiency of Christ. It is a free, voluntary act. No act of the mind can be more so, and yet it is a fruit of the Spirit. In some favored moment, when the sinner was hearing or reading the word of God, or meditating on his lost condition, and perhaps ready to despair of help, the blindness caused by sin was removed, and he saw at once the way of escape. He fled for refuge to Christ, and laid hold on the hope set before him. This voluntary act of the convicted sinner, embracing the Gospel with his whole heart, is faith. The evidence of the existence of this faith is obedience to God, not merely with respect to a few of his requirements deemed most important, but obedience to him in all those things which constitute the Christian character. My brethren, are you conscious of having found this refuge, this anchor to your souls? When you think of the guilt and ruin which you brought upon yourselves, and contemplate the great salvation, is Christ all in all to you? Could you have the least hope of pardon, without full confidence in the mediation, righteousness, and intercession of Christ? If you believe the testimony of God respecting Christ, and truly feel that he is just what you need, and all you need, as sinners, and cheersully cast yourselves upon him, you may have hope of salvation. You may be comforted—you are comforted. It cannot be otherwise, if you believe what God has said, and do, in fact, feel and act accordingly.
Some appear to have a trembling hope that they are running the Christian race, and yet are so full of doubts as to run uncertainly. They have little comfort, because they have little evidence and great weakness of faith. This is their own fault. Supposing they are Christians, all their darkness and doubts must arise from their own unfaithfulness to their souls. The path to heaven is drawn by the Holy Spirit with great clearness, and so is the path to endless wo. Let any person
up the Bible, and carefully attend to the marks of a Christian, and the marks of an impenitent sinner, and then impartially look at himself, and examine his conduct and feelings; he need not be at a loss with respect to his real character. My brethren, we may know enough of ourselves to decide where our treasure is. If it is in heaven, our hearts are there ; if on the earth, our hearts
What we love most invariably has the most of our thoughts, and is made the greatest account of in our feelings and plans, and this very object is our treasure. If this object be Christ and his kingdom, we have true faith—that faith which works by love, and which is a fruit of the Spirit. We have been changed from nature to grace. This is a wonderful change, a transforming change, called in the Scriptures a new creation. It is never effected by the power, or might, or eloquence of man, but by the Spirit of God; and yet all who have been thus transformed have been perfectly free and volun tary from the first of their convictions until they have found them. selves rejoicing in hope. They have exercised faith, and yet their faith was the gift of God. The all-penetrating eye of Jesus Christ discerns, this moment, the state of each of our souls, and if we cordially accept his righteousness, he owns us as his disciples.
VIII. Another fruit of the Spirit is MEEKNESS.
The apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, said, “ 1 beseech you by the meekness of Christ.”. This temper of mind produced by the Spirit is in opposition to pride and self-confidence. Here again all true Christians resemble Christ; and if any who pretend to be his followers have not the resemblance, they deserve not the name of Christians. Christ was “meek and lowly in heart," and calm under the most injurious treatment ;—and he calls upon us to look at his example and copy it. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and when he was mocked, and tortured, and spit upon, not a frowning word did he utter. Was not this exhibition of feelings made by Christ, when his enemies were venting their rage and malice against him, totally different from what we ever see in depraved man? This was meekness; and all who have been born of the Spirit exercise themselves to be like him. This lovely image of Christ, developed in the life and character, is a genuine fruit of the Spirit. While unrenewed, we resemble tigers in our dispositions ; but we must be changed, and become like lambs in our tempers.
IX. Another fruit of the Spirit is TEMPERANCE.
My brethren, we all are naturally inclined to self-indulgence, and to an intemperate use of the good things of common Providence; but selfindulgence wars against the soul. With respect to this point, many are strangely blinded and strangely inconsistent. They presume to cherish a hope of being in a pardoned state, and that they are running the Christian race, and yet, though they do not wholly give up themselves to intemperance, it must be said of them, they are bordering upon it. They venture quite too far in indulging their sinful propensities. They conform to the company into which they fall, and to the customs of the place where they live. In this way, they not only destroy
their own peace, but endanger the souls of others. The impenitent are always watching for something to countenance them in those who profess to be on their way to the heavenly world. Here, then, let all who indulge the hope of having been renewed solemnly pause, and examine the fruit which they bear. Does not the word of God represent the bodies of Christians to be “temples of the Holy Ghost ?" If any, then, cherish the hope of being Christians, they should keep their bodies pure, lest the Holy Spirit be grieved away from them. Will the blessed Comforter take up his abode in a body which is polluted with intemperance, or any sin habitually indulged? Would we retain the Holy Spirit, we must abstain from every sin. What if this should occasion a severe conflict, and call for much prayer and watchfulness? The struggle will be an important one, and the victory certain and glorious, if we only rely on the arm of Him who has said, “ My grace is sufficient for thee.” Doubtless some who have long addicted themselves to ruinous habits will have to cut off a right hand and pluck out a right eye ; but they had better do that than lose their souls ; better do that than dishonor the Savior. I have now louched upon a subject on which much light has been shed within a few years. To persist in self-indulgence, in opposition to all this light, must be far more criminal than would have been the case a few years ago, and stronger evidence of not being reconciled to God. The Holy Scriptures do assure us, that temperance is one of the fruits of the Spirit: and this fruit must be seen in old professors of religion, and in young converts; or their souls, it is to be feared, are not yet washed in the blood of the Lamb.
We have now seen what is the fruit of the spirit, as stated by the apostle in the text. This fruit has been exhibited, as it appears in the lives of those who have been renewed, in a variety of Christian acts and Christian duties. Let us bear this fruit, and we shall have evi. dence that we have a passed from death unto life." We shall not want for a good hope to cheer us on our pilgrimage, for we shall carry with us the evidence on which the Christian hope must be founded. The Spirit itself will witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. Let us do the things comprised in the fruit of the Spirit, and be in heart and life like Christ, and we shall have peace and joy, such as the world cannot take from us. “ Against these there is no law;" because they are exactly what the Divine law requires of us. Though fully convicted of having been vile transgressors, and of being even now awfully deficient in feelings and practice, yet we are on the side of the law, and have embraced Christ, the great Mediator, who is to us "the end of the law for righteousness.' Standing on this ground, we need not fear the condemning sentence of the law. We may hope; we may have joy and peace in believing.
The course of life marked out in this discourse, if entered upon and persisted in, will bring us back from our shameful revolt froin God. Indeed, the design of the covenant of grace is to recover in man that holy image of God which he lost in the apostacy. Who can think of being fitted for such a holy place as heaven, unless this image is restored to them, and reflected from their souls ? Notwithstanding the fulness of the atonement, will any who are not freed from the love and dominion of sin enter those blissful regions? It would be impossible. Nothing that defileth or worketh abomination will enter there.
Christian brethren, you cannot have listened to the views which have been expressed of the fruit of the Spirit without feeling that you have taken an important stand in this world, by declaring yourselves the friends and followers of Christ. You are under the strongest obligations to exhibit in your lives the fruit of the Spirit. "The world has reason to expect it of you. How many are looking to you for an example of purity of life, soundness in the faith, and devotedness to Christ? No Christian ever lived in a more interesting crisis.
“ Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” See that you let not down the hand of prayer—and cease not to pray for those who are out of the kingdom, that they perish not through unbelief. Improve your opportunities for prayer, for they will not always continue. Humbly intercede that the fruits of the Spirit may be seen in the lives of all your acquaintance. Pray for the conversion of a révolted world.
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TESTIMONIALS. From the Quarterly Christian Spectator. “We do not hesitate to say, that Mr. Dickinson has adopted one of the happiest expedients bitherto devised, for eliciting that diversity of gists,' in the Christian ministry, which infinite wisdom and benevolence have bestowed for the edification of the body of Christ, and for bringing sinners to the foot of the cross."
From Professors of Princeton Theological Seminary. The plan, proposed by the Rev. Austin DICKINSON, of publishing a Monthly Series of Sermons, from the pens of respectable ministers of different denominations of Christians in the United States, is one, which, in our opinion, may be rendered highly interesting, and extensively useful
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