GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT BY MR.

VE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIA OBSERVER

EPHES iv. 30. Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. As under the Old-Testament dispensation the great promise to which the faithful Israelite was taught to look, was the coming of the Messiah ; so, under the ew, the coming of the Holy Spirit was predicted, for the teaching, and comforting, and sanctifying of the Christian. Our Lord expressly consoled his disciples with the argument that it was expedient he should go away; for that if he went not away the Holy Spirit would not come ; but that, if he went away, he would send him to them. So effectually did he fulfil this promise, that we find on the day of Pentecost this blessed Spirit descending in his powerful influences upon the assembly of the faithful, teaching them not only to speak with new tongues but greatly animating and comforting their hearts ; so that

GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. 401 many who bad hitherto been the most fearful and unbelieving, became from that moment resolute and courageous in the cause of their Redeemer, and even submitted to martyrdom rather than forsake their Lord. The Holy Spirit, though less openly and

miraculously, yet not less really, still descends upon the Christian in the present day, instructing him when he is ignorant, guiding him when he is ready to wander, supporting him when weak, sanctifying him when encompassed by the sinful infirmities of his fallen nature, and consoling him amidst the troubles and perturbations of the world. He does not, however, find the heart naturally prepared for the reception of so exalted a guest. Sin separates between God and the human soul. His Divine influences are coldly received or deliberately counteracted ; and in consequence, he is said to become grieved at the hardness of our hearts. Surely we should not so often suffer this unhappy effect to take place, if we duly consider the infinite importance of the influences of this Divine Agent ; " without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy;" without whom we cannot be delivered from error, or guided into truth ; and who alone can sanctify us, or make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Humbly looking, then, to Him for his gracious influences and assistance 2D

402 GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. rightly to consider and duly to practise a duty so immediately relating to our conduct towards himself, let us view, First, The exhortation in the text ; Secondly, The motives on which it is grounded.

First. We are to view the exhortation itself: Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. By "the Holy Spirit of God " we are to understand the Third Person in the sacred and undivided Trinity; equal with the Father and the Son* and sustaining towards mankind the offices of a Teacher, Sanctifier, and Comforter. To speak of grieving this Divine Person may seem an expression of some difficulty, and requiring consideration. To suppose God capable of grief, or any other human passion, would be inconsistent with his nature. The expression, therefore, is one of accommodation to our weakness and ignorance. The Holy Spirit is said to be grieved when we act towards him in such a manner as, comparing earthly things with heavenly, would be likely to grieve an endeared and exalted friend; or when he exhibits towards us, in return, such symptoms of displeasure as would, in the case of a fellow-creature, be considered as evidence of his being grieved at our conduct. The Scriptures, being accustomed to represent God

GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. 403 as the Father and the Friend of his people, frequently employ such expressions to point out his feelings towards them, whether of anger or of complacency, as would be most correspondent to the idea of such a heavenly relationship. To grieve the Divine Spirit evidently intimates more than the mere counteraction of his influences on the part of an unconverted and wicked man. This is to rebel against him, to resist him, and to do despite to him. But to grieve him seems to intimate, that the sin was

against light and knowledge ; a sin of ingratitude as well as of folly ; a sin against grace received and mercy proffered, as well as against thedignity and holiness of the supreme Lawgiver. We resist and provoke an enemy ; but we can grieve none but a friend, or one who wishes* well to us; one who pities our misconduct while he feels displeasure at our offence. How, then, it may be asked, may the Christian be said to violate the exhortation in the text ? In what way does he grieve the Spirit of God ? To this it may be replied, that every sin, every act, or thought, or word inconsistent with bis holy profession, has this effect. He is " called to be a saint:" his duty and his privilege, therefore, is the cultivation of every thing that is pure and heavenly* He is utterly to forsake and abhor every evil 2o2

404 GRIEVI G THE HOLT SPIRIT, way, and to aspire after whatsoever is lovely and of good report. He is to grow in humility and penitence, in faith and love, in spiritualmindedness and meetness for heaven; and in proportion as he fails in any of these respects, he grieves the Spirit of God. But it is not necessary, or possible, to specify minutely and individually every act by which the Holy Spirit may be grieved. St. Paul, in the passage from which the text is taken, was enumerating various sins, which he exhorted the Ephesians to shun; and in the midst of the catalogue, as if to furnish one

general rule and argument applicable to every occasion, he interposes the injunction before us. The sins which he pointedly mentions, and which, therefore, may be considered as particularly offensive to the Holy Spirit, especially when indulged in by a professor of religion, are uncleanness, falsehood, theft, evil conversation, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil-speaking. ow every religious person must have often felt in his own case how greatly these sins grieve the Holy Spirit. For what are the deadness of soul, the want of satisfaction in religion, the conscious guilt and remorse that arise in the heart of the Christian upon the commission of sin, but marks of the displeasure of the Holy Spirit, who employs

GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. 405 these means among others to punish our wanderings, and to bring us back to the right path? He shews his displeasure against sin by withdrawing the light of his countenance, and leaving the sinner, at least for a time, to the effects of his own waywardness and folly. Guilt takes possession of the mind; prayer is no longer a willing and hopeful expression of the wants and wishes of the heart to a reconciled as well as Almighty Friend ; and what was once a way of pleasantness and path of peace is now beset with thorns and briars, which the hand of the transgressor himself has planted. The hope and joy which he once possessed have vanished ; the promises of God appear no longer on his side ; while his threatenings are impending over him, and destruction seems to be his portion. He is bowed down and dismayed, while He whose love and mercy can alone deliver him, is

grieved, and withdraws the light of his countenance. By deep penitence, with earnest prayer, and vigilance, and a humble trust in the death and merits of the Redeemer, mercy may again shine upon his path ; but a deliberate and wilful continuance in those sins which grieved the Holy Spirit will at length quench his influences altogether, and consign the sinner to the punishment due to his transgressions. " He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his

406 GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. neck, shall suddenly perish, and that without a remedy." Without, however, adverting to the numerous ways in which we may grieve the Holy Spirit, we may remark, that he is grieved when we counteract his influences under anv of the characters which he is pleased to bear towards mankind. Is he a Teacher and Enlightener ? We grieve him when we resist the truth of God's word ; when we willingly submit to ignorance or error in religion ; or when we fail duly to examine into the great topics which constitute the subjects of his instruction. What numerous benefits has he afforded us ; what opportunities of religious information! We have received line upon line, and precept upon precept : we have bad, perhaps, the advantages of a religious education, the reading of the Scriptures, with all the other public and private means of grace. Must not, then, the Divine Dispenser of these blessings be greatly grieved, if we still continue ignorant, thoughtless, or inattentive respecting our eternal welfare ? Is there not abundant cause for his displeasure, if, after having done

so much for us, we neglect so great salvation? Again; is he a Comforter? We grieve him, when, instead of cheerfully submitting to the Divine appointments, we reject his consolations, and evidence a rebellious or discontented spirit.

GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. 407 If those consolations be wanting to us which it is his office to bestow, the unhappy effect must be traced to our own unholiness or inconsistency of conduct ; and this must grieve Him, whose office as a Comforter is thus rendered unavailing for the repose of our souls. Thus also he is grieved through the injuries that fall upon the Gospel by means of the unamiable character of some of its professed adherents. But chiefly is he grieved by the resistance made to him in his highly important office of a Sanetifier. It is here that he is most opposed and thwarted in his gracious influences for the benefit of our souls. Our inherent, our abiding corruptions, and too often our wilful and cherished sins, check his benign and salutary operations. ot a day or hour passes by, in which some unhallowed thought, or word, or action, does not occur, to evince our proneness to grieve the Holy Spirit. Secondly. Having thus considered the exhortation in the text, we come next to touch upon the motives on which it is grounded. The passage itself furnishes us with one or two considerations which may justly be viewed as very powerful dissuasives from the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit of God. The very appellation itself, is a forcible argument. The

character given to this Divine Person, as a

40S GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT* " Spirit," and as " Holy," might well deter u* from those things which we know to be offensive in his sight. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity: how then shall the transgressor escape unpunished ? But the Divinity of his nature, implied in the phrase " the Spirit of God," is a still more powerful dissuasive ; for he whom we offend and grieve is not a created being, like ourselves ; one whom we can deceive or intimidate or overcome : He is the High and Holy God ; he has infinite power to punish, as well as infinite mercy to save ; and in proportion to the exaltation of the person, is the magnitude of the crime. To oppose him deliberately and systematically is the greatest of all offences : for our Lord himself said, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men ; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." But the motive more iiirectly urged is an appeal to our gratitude and personal interest ; " By him ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Such is our obligation to him ; He is not an unconcerned or inactive spectator of our spiritual condition ; but, on the contrary, effectually operates in our hearts by his sacred influences, sealing us for bis own, and qualifying us for the heavenly possession. The expression " to seal" is capable of dif-

GRIEVI G THE HOLT SPIRIT. 409 ferent significations ; but it would seem chiefly to imply, that by means of the Holy Spirit diffusing his graces in our hearts, converting us from our sins, leading us by faith to a Redeemer for salvation, and working in us the fruits of holy obedience, we are marked out, or set apart, and stamped as it were with a seal, to specify our character. Sanctification of heart and life is the best and strongest test of our state before God. Where it exists, it is the pledge of future glory: for ''as many as are led by the Spirit' of God, they are the sons of God." Thus, by the sanctifying operation of the Spirit in the heart, we become marked out as the flock of the Great Shepherd : we are no longer our own* but, being bought with the price of the blood of Christ, we are bound in duty, and invited as our privilege, to devote ourselves as the willing servants of Him who loved us and gave himself for us. Thus living and dying, our salvation is secure ; we are sealed for it ; and at length, when the body is at the last day redeemed from the grave, both body and soul shall be re-united in heaven. That will indeed be in a conspicuous manner the day of redemption; and to that are we sealed by the sacred stamp of character given us by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost. Such appears to be the Apostle's argument. Our sins committed under such circumstances

410 GRIEVI G THE HOLY SPIRIT. partake of the character of the blackest ingra-

titude : they grieve our best and most exalted Benefactor, against whom they are most immediately directed. Let us, then, by every tie of love and gratitude, by every motive of hope and fear, by every merciful promise and every warning and threatening of the Divine word, be urged to labour after such a holy and consistent frame of soul, and such a heavenly line of conduct, as may not repel or grieve or quench the Spirit, but, on the contrary, invite as it were his blessed influences, and bring down upon us all the gracious effects of instruction, consolation, and sanctification, which it is his office to impart.

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