THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPO THE MID AD

HEART.
BY REV. ADAM EMPIE, D.D.,
PSALM LI., IL
" Take not thy Holy Spirit from me."
The doctrine of gi-ace has unfortunately furnished mattei*
for dispute among Christians, and for objections and doubts
among unbelievers. But as it is clearly revealed in Scrip-
ture ; as it runs through all our public prayers ; and as all
Protestant churches make it an article of faith, we shall not
at present enter into the lists of controversy, but call your
attention to the ordinniy influences and operations of the
Holy Spirit upon the mind and heat ts An exposition of the
manner in which Divine gi-ace operates, may go as far in
removing doubts and objections as the most laboi'ed and
luminous vindication of the doctrine itself. If it can be
made to appear, that the influences of God's Spirit are only
auxiliaries ; that they neither cripple the freedom of o\x£
wills or om- actions ; and that they are necessary to counter-
balance the frailty and depravity of our nature- — upon
principles of reason even^ no one can hesitate in subscribing
his assent to the doctrine of grace.
These things will, we trust, be evident from the observa-
tions we are now about to make. The oi'dinaiy influences
of the Holy Spirit consist — 1st. In enlightening the under-
standing ; 2d. In sanctifying the will and the affections, and
' Written.at VVUniinKton, . C, 18H.
THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. 185
in increasing the power of conscience ; and lastly — In com-
forting us under trials and afflictions.
That God's Spirit pours new light into our minds, is
evident from the words of our Savior, and from those of the
Apostle. Our Savior, speaking of the Holy Spirit, told his
disciples that that Holy Spirit " would teach them all things,
and would bring all things to then* remembrance." And he,
therefore, calls Him " the Spirit of Truth." The Apostle
speaking of this same Spirit, calls Him " the Spirit of a
sound mind," and makes it the substance of his prayer for
the Ephesians, that " God would give them the spirit of
wisdom and revelation, that they might know Jesus Christ,
and that the eyes of their understanding might be enlight-
ened, to know the hope of his calling, and the riches of his
glorious inheritance in the saints."
Here the Holy Spirit is spoken of as a teacher, as a re-
vealer of the truth, as one who brings things to our remem-
brance, as one who makes us wise, as one who opens the
eyes of our understanding, and gives us impressive views of
the blessed hopes and prospects of the Gospel. And if this
be one of the offices of the Holy Sj)irit, does He not
enlighten our understanding and lead us to the knowledge
and the practice of the truth *?
You are ready to ask, perhaps, how this can be done,
without infi'inging upon the prerogatives of our moral
natm'e ? We see no difficulty in answering this question.
We are naturally ignorant, thoughtless, forgetful, and liable
to err in many instances, for want of information, and for
want of clear and impressive views on the subject of duty.
Men are often heard to say, by way of excuse, that they
did not know it was wrong ; they did not think of it at the
time ; they had forgotten ; or that the arguments and sug-
gestions of their own minds were not powerful enough to
restrain them ; or that such a particular view of the subject
did not occur to them ; or that their inclinations and temp-
tations were so strong as to be more than a match for their
judgment at the time. ow, were it not for this ignorance,
this thougl>tlessness, this forgetfuhiess, this want of sufficient
evidence, it appears, from the general confession of mankind,
that there would be fewer instances of transgression, for
reasonable creatures are governed by arguments, inducements,
186 THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
and the impressions which they find existing in their own
minds. And supposing a man in this situation, as indeed
all mankind are, is there any difficulty in conceiving that
the Holy Spirit may suggest to his mind a new argument in
favor of a duty, or in opposition to a sin ? Is there any
difficulty in conceiving that the Holy Spirit may, by his in-
fluences, check his thoughtlessness, and render him serious ?
And may not the Holy Spu'it, with equal ease, bring back
to his mind something which he has forgotten ; infuse a good
thought ; communicate a useful impression ; or give him
clearer views of truth and duty ?
Most of our thoughts and impressions are communicated
thi'ough the medium of the eye and ear ; and may not God's
Spirit produce thoughts and impressions in our minds with-
out using these mediums ? Both in Scripture, and in the
common language of mankind, the devil is said to tempt
men to sin ; to " work in the hearts of the children of dis-
obedience ;" to " lead them captive to his will ;" and to
" blind their eyes and then* hearts." This he does by rais-
ing such ideas, and exciting such desires and feelings as dis-
pose and move men to something criminal. And if the
prince of darkness keeps men in ignorance, darkens their
understanding, deludes them into error, and, through the
medium of their desires and feelings, disposes them to sin, is it
strange that the Holy Spirit of God should coimteract these
influences of Satan, to guard us against error and vice, to
teach us the truth, and to lead us to our duty ? Wliat but
this does Scripture mean, when it says, " Greater is He that
is in you, than he that is in the world;" and when it says,
that the Christian has to contend " with the rules of dark-
ness ¦?" What but this does it mean, when it says, that
God will "help our infirmities;" will "renew a right spirit
within us," and vidll " enlighten the eyes of our understand-
ing," that we may " discern the wondrous things of his law V
What does the Savior mean, when speaking of the Holy
Spirit, he says, " He dwelleth with you, and shall be in
you V What does the Apostle mean, when he says, " God
workcth within you, both to will and to do V
For the truth of this first operation of Divine grace, my
hearers, I may appeal to your own experience. If you have
ever paid the least attention to what passes within you, you
THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. 187
know that you have often found in your minds wicked
thoughts, and felt improper emotions, without knowing what
could have caused them, or whence they could have arisen ;
and you have experienced in your feelings a species of im-
pulse, which, with more than ordinary propensity, disposed
you towards sin. Whether you have noticed it or not, this
has more or less been the case with all of you. And the
world, pretty genei'ally, though sometimes inadvertently,
agrees Avith Scripture in believing that the devil injects these
wicked thoughts into the mind, and, through the medium of
our fallen nature, excites these criminal emotions and pro-
pensities in the animal frame. And have you not also, my
hearers, sometimes been suddenly conscious of a good
thought, a serious impression, a virtuous impulse, or a tran-
sient glow of piety? Has not a religious considex'ation
sometimes involuntarily seized your attention ? Has memory
never brought back to your recollection some virtuous im-
pression, which you before thought had been completely
obliterated from the tablets of yom* hearts ? Has not con-
science sometimes obtruded upon your notice a sense of duty
or of guilt, which was accompanied with veiy unwelcome
sensations, and which you, for some time, labored in vain to
shake oiF? Has not a new argument, in favor of a duty, or
in opposition to a sin, sometimes suddenly started up in
your mind, and come home with considerable force to your
conscience ? Have you not sometimes, in an unaccountable
manner, felt more than ordinarily serious, and wondered
what could have produced such an eifect 1
And to what, my hearers, will you ascribe all these things?
Has the devil any hand, think you, in producing seriousness,
religious reflections, and convictions of sin ? Of the above-
mentioned serious thoughts and impressions, you must have
been conscious, if you have ever attended to what passed
in your own bosoms. They are exjierienced more or less by
all classes of moral agents, from the devoted saint down to
the very reproV^ate. And from what can they arise in the
minds of those who do not seek for them, nor wish to enter-
tain them ? You must confess, that they frequently start
up unsolicited and unsought for ; that you cannot account
for their origin, or the manner of their introduction ; that
they are to some very unwelcome intruders, and that it fre-
188 THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLT SPIEIT.
quently is a very difficult thing to get rid of them. And if
tliese good suggestions and impressions are not produced by
the devil, and are not the voluntary and spontaneous off-
spring of your own minds and corrupt natures, whence can
they arise, except from that Spirit of God, "from whom all
holy desires and all good counsels proceed ;" that Spirit of
God, whose pi'ovidence it is to enlighten the eyes of our
understanding, to bring religious things to our remembrance,
and to lead us into all needful divine truth 1
For the sake of those Avho hesitate to believe this doc-
trine of divine influence, because they do not understand
how grace can co-operate with our mental faculties, Ave add
the foUoAving illustration. You have a son, with the consti-
tution of whose mind, heart, and body, you are perfectly
acquainted ; you knoAv the dangers to AA'hich his faith and
\artues Avill be exposed, from ignorance and the force of
temptation ; fi'om the erroneous opinions and vicious exam-
ples of society ; from the frailties and propensities of his
own fallen nature ; and from the insinuations and wiles of
Satan. Against these dangers you frequently endeavor to
put this child on his guard ; and when they approach, you
remind him of his duty. Seeing that he is in danger of being
overcome by some particular sin, in opposition to it, you
suggest to him a new argument, or impress upon his mind
an established and acknowledged truth, or barely caution
him against it, direct his attention to its evil consequences,
or remind him of his religious obligations. At other times,
you leave him to himself, and suiFer his principles to be put
to the test, and you ahvays suit the nature and degree of
your insti-uctions to his peculiar circumstances, leaving him
to make his choice, and putting him upon trial, that he may
have an opportunity of confirming his virtues, and that
humanly speaking, he may have more or less comparative
merit in doing his duty.
In many of these cases, he may or he may not transgress.
It is certain tliat your instructions or hints do not interfere
either with his free will or his free agency. And it is equally
certain that he Avill be benefited by them, and that he is
less likely to transgress Avhen he receives such instructions,
than Avhen he does not. For of two children possessing the
same heart, mind, and constitution, circumstances being the
THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. 189
same, the one who receives the above instructions, will almost
infallibly be a better man than the other, who has not en-
joyed this advantage.
And what is the difference between these instructions and
hints which your son receives from you, and those sugges-
tions which all receive fi'om the Spirit of God 1 The only
difference is this : your instructions are communicated to his
mind thi'ough the medium of his outward senses ; whereas
God's Spirit operates upon our minds, immediately, without
the assistance of our outward organs. The instructions of
man, moreover, are defective : because in their application
to circumstances, they must be conjectural. And they are
not always given when most wanted; but God's Spirit
knows exactly how to suit his suggestions to our wants, and
how to give them at the time they are most needed ; while,
at the same time, they are given in such measure as not to
interfere with our moral agency. Indeed, mere instruction,
light, and knowledge, cannot possibly interfere with our
moral agency — for the perfect moral agency of God himself
is governed by his infinite knowledge.
My dear hearers, instead of cavilling at the doctrine of
divine influence, let me advise and beseech you to open your
mind to the teachings of God's Spirit — to watch for his illu-
minating influences, that you may improve them — to be
careful not to resist, to stifle, or to forget them, but to culti-
vate, to remember, and to comply with them ; for without
the influences of divine grace, your heart cannot be made
holy ; and " without holiness" you cannot be admitted into
Heaven. The language of inspiration is explicit : " Ye are
washed, justified, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God."
" By grace are ye saved, through faith." Except ye be
baptized with the Holy Ghost, (as well as with water), ye
cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven. " Woi'k out your
own salvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God (the
Holy Spirit) that worketh within you, both to will and to
do." '' O, quench not the Spirit !"
The Divine Spirit is necessary then, 2dly, to sanctify our
hearts, as well as to enlighten our understandings. This He
does by directing the will, by increasing the poAver of con-
science, by exciting holy desires, by creating a religious dispo-
sition, and by leading our affections to heavenly things ; thus
8*
190 THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
calling forth our exertions, co-operating with us, and making
use of our natural powers, in order to effect the purposes of
Heaven, and make us humble, meek, pure, pious, heavenly-
minded, and obedient.
But, it is asked, how does divine grace influence the will,
and produce all these good effects ? Just as you influence
the will and conduct of your son — through the medium of
the understanding, and by means of threatenings, and pro-
mises, and exhortations, and instructions, and warnings,
constantly and frequently repeated, and impressed upon the
mind by means of rational motives affectionately urged.
God's Spirit deals with us, just as the Gospel minister deals
with his people, and as men deal with their cliildren, their
servants, and their friends. They teach them their duty,
they exhort them to perform it, and they show them the
various blessings that Avill result from obedience. They
warn them against what is wrong, they threaten them with
punishment if they transgress, and they point out the various
evils and miseries which must be the consequence of trans-
gression ; and, if they continue to repeat, to illustrate and to
impress these things upon their minds. These means seldom
fail, in a greater or less degree, of producing salutary re-
sults, particularly in those cases where, by kindness and af-
fection, they had previously gained access to their hearts.
ow, if we influence the conduct and character of our
friends, children, and servants, by instruction and advice, by
reminding them of their danger and their duty, by promising
rewards, and threatening punishments, is it strange that the
Spirit of God should influence our character and conduct in
the same way ] If the repeated instructions, exhortations,
threatenings and promises, which parents and teachers use
towards their chilch'en and pupils, are suitable to their natural
powers, and violate not their moral agency, Avhy are not the
influences of the Holy Spirit perfectly consistent with our
moi'al freedom ? Are not our minds enlightened ? Are not
our wills overruled ? Is not our conduct influenced in both
cases by the same means ? Is it not a universal and ac-
knowledged law of our rational nature, that we ai'e to be
governed by the dictates of common sense, and by correct
principles of reason '? "WTiat makes the understanding ap-
prove, or disapprove, but evidence proposed to the mind anf*
THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. 191
considered by it ? Whut makes the will to choose or reject,
but those motives which arise from the decision of the un-
derstanding — in all cases where we are not governed by mere
feeling, impulse, or passion, by which no reasonable being
ouglit ever to be governed '? What my understanding tells
me to be true and good, tliat, by the constitution of my ra-
tional and moral nature, T cannot help approving ; and w^iat
my understanding pronounces false and evil, that, by the
constitution of my nature, I cannot help disapproving and
condemning. And when I act rightly, reasonably, and duti-
fully, my will is but the servant of my understanding, which
chooses what the understanding represents as good, and re-
jects what the understanding pronounces to be evil — except
when I act from mere feeling or impulse, prejudice, or pas-
sion ; and then I act like the brute, and not like a reason-
ing being.
ow, no good or evil is so gi'cat, no truths can be so im-
portant, as those of which revelation speaks. o evidence
of truth and duty can be more convincing, no motives for
virtue and dissuasives from vice can be more powerful, than
those contained in God's Word. And no one could well con-
tinue wilfully to disbelieve and disobey, after once these evi-
dences and these motives were, with their full force, presented
to his mind, were it not for the countervailing influences
that tempt us to sin. And here arises the necessity for
divine grace ; for we are naturally ignorant, and naturally
indisposed to attend to the truths and duties of the Gospel.
We are naturally averse to the good we ought to choose,
and naturally prone to the evil we ought to shun. It is ne-
cessary, therefore, in order to our being religious, that our
duties, and the motives for discharging them — that sin, and
the reasons for avoiding it, should be frequently brought
home to our minds. And this is the work of the Holy
Spirit, who, Hke a faithful fi-iend, by bringing the truth
home to our hearts, directs the will, through the medium of
the understanding, heart, and conscience ; and thus increases
the power of conscience, excites holy desires, creates a reli-
gious disposition, leads our affections to heavenly things, and
thus enables, disposes, and causes us to bring forth the fruits
of holiness. God grant, my hearers, that every one of you
192 THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
may this day realize and cherish these influences of the Holy
Spirit.
My dear hearer, taking the Word of God for your stan-
dard, let it be your bvisiness conscientiously to follow the
dictates of your understanding. It teaches you to love God,
and to keep his commandments ; and by endeavoring to do
this, sincerely and faithfully, the Spirit of God will accom-
pany his own truth, to make it efficacious and sanctifying —
that Spirit which God always gives to those who perse-
veringly ask and seek aright.
3dly. There is another operation of God's Spirit, which
consists in comforting and supporting us under trials
and afflictions. But this, and some others connected with
it, Ave are obliged to pass over slightly. The evils of
life are numerous and great. The sinner stands scarcely
in more need of having his mind enlightened, than the
Christian stands in need of consolation and support ;
and these are repeatedly stated as the prerogatives of
the Holy Spirit. He is therefore called "the Comforter"
— the Spirit of Consolation, who " fills us with all joy and
peace in believing." And it was of this Spirit that our
Saviour said, " I Aviil pray the Father, and He will give you
another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever."
" For He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Thanks
be unto God for this his unspeakable gift.
There are some Avho hold that the influences of divine
grace are physical and h'resistible ; and that the sinner,
during his conversion and sanctification, is entirely passive
under their operation. We can only say, at jDresent, how
far we admit the truth of this position. We admit, that
those ideas which the Holy Ghost suggests to our minds, and
those impressions which He makes upon our hearts, are pro-
duced by a physical force under which we are passive, and
which to us are irresistible, because they are produced by ano-
ther, without our knowledge or our consent. This, hoAvever,
is the case with all instructions, whether given by God or
man; and this forms no difliculty or objection, because, after
they haA-e thus been produced, it is in our poAver either to
cherish, to approve, or to improve them, or to stifle, resist,
and to forget them. This is our oum act, and done with our
own consent ; and this proves our free agency — this consti-
THE IFLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. 193
tutes tlie difference between the deliberate sinner and the
sincere Christian. The one neglects, smothers, and disre-
gards the suggestions and motions of the Divine Spirit ; but
the other attends and consents to them, and yields his heart
and mind to their influence. God gi'ant, my hearer, that
you may not be found among the number of those who re-
sist and quench his Spirit ; but of those who follow his
teachings, and who are "• washed, justified, and sanctified by
the Spirit of our God."
My hearer, if it be through God's mercy that everlast-
ing life and happiness are thus offered to us ; if we cannot
work out our salvation without the assistance of the Holy
Spirit ; if He enlightens our understanding to discover,
and inclines our Avill to choose, that which is our duty ; if
He creates in us a religious disposition, and gives us strength
to do our duty — do we not owe our salvation entirely to his
grace '? and may not the Divine Spirit properly be said to
renew our minds, to regenerate our hearts, and to " create
us anew in Christ Jesus f Why, then, so much opposition
to the doctrine of divme influence 1 Why is it strange that
God should woi'k upon our minds, hearts, and consciences,
to enable us to " work out our own salvation ?" Ah ! let
ns not be too " wise in our own eyes." Let your mind
rather dwell upon the goodness of God, in furnishing you
Avith such strong motives to love Him. And consider your
own natural inability and dependence. As you cannot do
your duty, or save your soul, without the assistance of God's
grace — as you stand so much in need of his comforting, as
well as his enlightening and his sanctifying influences — how
much reason have you to pray with the Psalmist, " O God,
take not thy Holy Spirit from me !" As you, my sinful
hearer, have so often resisted and grieved this Holy Spirit —
as He has so long been working in your mind, heart, and
conscience, and as you still refuse to follow his holy sug-
gestions, are you not apprehensive that God, in displeasure,
may withdraw from you his gracious influences? And if
God gives you over to the ignorance of your mind, to the
evil inclinations of your corrupt heart, and to the snares of
Satan, what must and will become of you ! Ah ! without
Him, your ruin is inevitable ! When you refuse to listen to
194 THE I^FLUECE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
his suggestions, you are quarrelling with your best friend,
you reject the most invaluable blessing.
Ever gracious Lord ! though we have so often grieved thy
Spirit — though we have so long abused thy patience — though
we have so shamefully disregarded the operations of thy
grace — though we have not yielded ourselves to those holy
influences which thou hast communicated to our understand-
ing and our wills, to our conscience and our alFections — yet,
give us not over to our depraved inclinations — cast us not off
from thy presence — and take not thy Holy Spirit from us.
Merciful Lord ! deal not with us according to our deserts.
Thou knowest we are but dust. We acknowledge and be-
wail that we have so often resisted the motions of thy grace.
O ! have mercy upon us, and help us ! Suffer us no more to
go astray, but shower down thy grace more copiously upon
our hearts. We beseech thee, ever gracious Lord, take not
thy Holy Spirit from us.
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