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Life in the Spirit.

Life in the Spirit.

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Published by glennpease

BY THE REV. THORNLEY SMITH.

" The Spirit giveth life." 2 COR. iii. 6.

BY THE REV. THORNLEY SMITH.

" The Spirit giveth life." 2 COR. iii. 6.

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 20, 2013
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06/20/2013

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LIFE I THE SPIRIT.BY THE REV. THORLEY SMITH." The Spirit giveth life." 2 COR. iii. 6.THERE is a widespread want among men, of which manyare wholly unconscious, but which is felt by multitudesin increasing numbers. It is not the want of wealth, orpower, or fame ; but the want of spiritual life. There aremany who are so insensible to things eternal and unseen thatthey are content to live a mere animal life, or a life of sensualgratifications and pleasures. There are others who aresatisfied with an intellectual life, and who aspire to nothinghigher than a dream-like existence amid the beauties of nature, the delights of literature, or the charms of poetry andart. But there are others again who, assured of their Divineorigin, and of- the immortality of their being, are pantingafter a higher life, a spiritual life, a life in God, which shallprepare them for a future and unending life in His immediateand ever-blessed presence.But how is it to be realised, and by what means may weattain a gift so precious as the higher spiritual life ? Ourtext gives the answer to this inquiry, " The Spirit giveth liferLiterally the words are, " The Spirit quickeneth^ which is thereading of the margin ; and thus we are reminded of thesaying of our Lord, which the apostle probably had in view," It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing :the words that I speak to you, they are Spirit, and they arelife" (John vi. 63).112 LIFE I THE SPIRIT.The agent, the gift, and the manner and extent of itsbestowal, will occupy our thoughts in the attempt to unfold the
 
import of these words.I. The AGET. There can be no doubt that by the Spirithere, is meant the Holy Spirit of God the third Person of the blessed Trinity; but fully to understand the apostle swords we must consider what they exclude as well as whatthey include ; for thus only shall we see our entire dependence on the Spirit for the life we long to possess.i. The Spirit giveth life, not the flesh. "That which isborn of the flesh is flesh," said Christ to icodemus (Johniii. 6). And St. John, speaking of believers, says that theyare " born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (i. 13.) Observe that infanton its mother s lap. How beautiful it is ! how lovely ! howattractive ! You call it the picture of innocence, and youcan scarcely suppose that there is any guile in a form whichlooks so pure. Yet in virtue of its natural birth it has nospiritual life, for it was born in sin and shapen in iniquity.It possesses a depraved nature, and if no change passes uponit, it will go astray from the womb speaking lies, and theseeds of evil which dwell within its heart will develop themselves in a sinful and vicious life. It cannot be denied thatsome children seem from their infancy far less disposed tounholy passions than others ; yet even such children, theoffspring though they are of Christian parents, do not possessa regenerated nature, but need, even as others, to be quickenedby the Holy Spirit into newness of life. It is doubtless anunspeakable blessing to possess godly ancestors, for there arequalities both of mind and heart which such ancestors transmitto their children ; whilst the children of such ancestors are farless likely to take a vicious course than are the children of the dissolute and the ungodly ; yet none of us may boast thatwe " have Abraham to our father," or think that because ourparents were holy no spiritual change is necessary for us.The Spirit giveth life, and not the flesh, and therefore, holyas our parents may have been, we must receive into our heartsa principle which we do not receive in virtue of our naturalbirth.
 
2. The Spirit giveth life, not the letter. Such is St. Paul sassertion in the text and context. He is speaking of theChristian ministry, and he says, God "hath made us able-LIFE I THE SPIRIT. 113ministers of the ew Testament ; not of the letter, but of theSpirit ; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." Bythe letter is meant the law of Moses, or the Old Testamentdipensation in general, which, because of man s inability tofulfil its requirements, brings condemnation and death. Bythe law is the knowledge of sin ; and hence the apostle sayselsewhere, " I was alive without the law once ; but when thecommandment came sin revived, and I died" (Rom. vii. 9).But by the law is no remission of sin, and, therefore, nospiritual life. In itself it is holy, just, and good, but throughthe weakness of his flesh, man is unable to obey it ; and however strict his morality may be, he falls short of the standardit places before him. Delusive were the hopes of the JewishPharisees who went about to establish their own righteousness,and would not submit themselves to the righteousness of God ;and equally delusive are the hopes of Christian Pharisees (formany such there are among us) who are clinging to the sameprinciple, losing the Spirit in the letter, and the substance of religion in the shade. By an observance of the letter of God s word, whether written in the Old Testament or the ew,you will never gain life, for the simple reason that you mustlive before you can observe it, inasmuch as it must be observednot outwardly only, but in the deepest recesses of the mind.3. The Spirit giveth life, not rites and ceremonies. Of thesewe would by no means speak disparagingly. If scriptural intheir character, and if rightly observed, they are ofttimes thechannels through which the Spirit conveys grace to thehumble worshippers the golden pipes through which thegolden oil flows into the vessels meet for its reception ; butof what value are they in and of themselves ? The decoratedaltar, the mitred priest, the imposing procession, the waving

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