Sermon 574. The Superlative Excellence Of The Holy Spirit
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JUNE 12, 1864, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not comeunto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." John 16:7.
THE saints of God may very justly reckon their losses among their greatest gains. The adversities of Believers minister muchto their prosperity. Although we know this, through the infirmity of the flesh we tremble at soul-enriching afflictions anddread to see those black ships which bring us suchfreights of golden treasure. When the Holy Spirit sanctifies the furnace, the flame refines our gold and consumes our dross,yet the dull ore of our nature likes not the glowing coals and had rather lie quiet in the dark mines of earth. As silly childrencry because they are calledto drink the medicine which will heal their sicknesses, even so do we.
Our gracious Savior, however, loves us too wisely to spare us the trouble because of our childish fears. He foresees the advantagewhich will spring from our griefs and therefore thrusts us into them out of wisdom and true affection. It was a very greattrouble to these first Apostles to lose theirTeacher and Friend. Sorrow had filled their hearts at the thought that He should depart, but yet His departure was to givethem the greater blessing of the Holy Spirit. And therefore their entreaties and tears cannot avert the dreaded separation.Christ will not gratify their wishesat so vast an expense as the withholding of the Spirit. Mourn as they may under the severe trial, Jesus will not remainwith them because His departure is in the highest degree expedient.
Beloved, let us expect to be subject to the same loving discipline. Let us reckon upon losing happy frames and choice enjoymentswhen Jesus knows that the loss will be better for us than the enjoyment. God has given two great gifts to His people-the firstis His Son for us. The second is HisSpirit to us. After He had given His Son for us, to become Incarnate, to work righteousness, and to offer an Atonement-afterthat gift had been fully bestowed there remained no more to be conferred in that respect. "It is finished!" proclaimed thecompletion of Atonement andHis Resurrection showed the perfection of Justification. It was not, therefore, necessary that Christ should remain anylonger upon earth since His work below is forever finished.
Now is the season for the second gift, the descent of the Holy Spirit. This could not be bestowed until Christ had ascended,because this choice favor was reserved to grace, with highest honor, the triumphant ascension of the great Redeemer. "WhenHe ascended up on high, He led captivity captiveand gave gifts unto men." This was, as Peter tells us, the great promise which Jesus received of His Father. "Thereforebeing by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has shed forththis, which you now see and hear." ThatHis triumphal entrance into Heaven might be stamped with signal Glory, the gifts of the Spirit of God could not be scatteredamong the sons of men until the Lord had gone up with a shout, even the Lord with the sound of trumpet.
The first gift being completed, it became necessary that He, whose Person and work make up that priceless gift, should withdrawHimself that He might have power to distribute the second benefit by which alone the first gift becomes of any service tous. Christ Crucified is of no practical value tous without the work of the Holy Spirit. And the Atonement which Jesus worked can never save a single soul unless the blessedSpirit of God shall apply it to the heart and conscience. Jesus is never seen until the Holy Spirit opens the eyes-the waterfrom the Well of Life isnever received until the Holy Spirit has drawn it from the depths.
As medicine unused for want of the physician's word. As sweets untasted because out of reach. As treasure unvalued becausehidden in the earth-such is Jesus the Savior-until the Holy Spirit teaches us to know Him and applies His blood to our souls.It is to the honor of the Holy Spiritthat I desire to speak this morning and O, may the same hallowed flame which of old sat upon the Apostles now rest uponthe preacher and may the Word come with power to our hearts!
I. We shall commence our discourse by the remark that THE BODILY PRESENCE OF CHRIST MUST HAVE BEEN EXCEEDINGLY PRECIOUS. Howprecious those alone can tell who much love Christ. Love always desires to be in the company of the thing beloved and absencecauses grief. What is fully meant by theexpression, "Sorrow has filled your heart," those only can know who anticipate a like painful bereavement. Jesus had becomethe Joy of their eyes, the Sun of their days, the Star of their nights-like the spouse, as she came up from the wilderness-theyleaned upon theirBeloved. They were as little children and now that their Lord and Master was going, they felt they should be left orphans.
Well might they have great sorrow of heart! So much love, so much sorrow, when the object of love is withdrawn. Judge, myBrethren, the joy which the bodily Presence of Christ would give to us this morning, and then you can tell how precious itmust be. Have we not, some of us, been looking foryears for the personal advent of Christ? We have lifted up our eyes in the morning and we have said, "Perhaps He will comethis day." And when the day has closed we have continued our watching in our sleepless hours and renewed our hopes with therising of the sun. We longinglyexpect Him according to His promise. And like men who watch for their Lord, we stand with loins girt about waiting for Hisappearing.
We are looking for and hastening unto the Day of the Lord. This is the bright hope which cheers the Christian, the hope thatthe Savior shall descend to reign among His people gloriously. Suppose Him to appear suddenly on this platform now-how wouldyou clap your hands! Why, the lame amongyou would, at the joy of His appearance, leap like a hart and even the dumb might sing for joy! The Presence of the Master!What rapture! Come quickly! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
It must be, indeed, a precious thing to enjoy the corporeal Presence of Christ. Think of the advantage it would be in theinstruction of His people. No mystery need puzzle us if we could refer all to Him. The disputes of the Christian Church wouldsoon be ended for He would tell us what His Wordmeant beyond dispute. There would be no discouragement to the Church in her work of faith and labor of love, for the Presenceof Christ would be the end of all difficulties and insure conquest over all enemies. We should not have to mourn as we nowdo over our forgetfulness ofJesus, for we should sometimes catch a look at Him. And a sight of Him would give us a store ofjoy so that like the Prophetof Horeb we could go forty days in the strength of that meat!
It were a delightful thing to know that Christ was somewhere upon earth, for then He would take the personal supervision ofHis universal Church. He could warn us of apostates. He could reject the hypocrites. He would comfort the feeble-minded andrebuke the erring. How delightful would it be tosee Him walking among the golden candlesticks, holding the stars in His right hand! Churches need not, then, be subdividedand rent with evil passions. Christ would create unity. Schism would cease to be and heresy would be rooted out. The Presenceof Jesus, whose countenance is asthe sun shining in his strength, would ripen all the fruits of our garden, consume all the weeds, and quicken every plant!
The two-edged sword of His mouth would slay His foes and His eyes of fire would kindle the holy passions of His friends. ButI shall not enlarge upon that point because it is one in which fancy exercises itself at the expense ofjudgment. I questionwhether the pleasure, which the thought ofChrist's being here in the flesh has given us just now, may not have had a leaven of carnality in it. I question whetherthe Church is yet prepared to enjoy the corporeal Presence of her Savior without falling into the error of knowing Him afterthe flesh. It may be it shall needcenturies of education before the Church is fit to see her Savior in the flesh on earth again, because I see in my own self-andI suppose it is so in you- that much of the delight which I expect from the company of Christ is according to the sight ofthe eyes and thejudgment of the mind. And sight is ever the mark and symbol of the flesh.
II. However, leaving that point, we come to the second, which is THAT THE PRESENCE OF THE COMFORTER,
AS WE HAVE IT UPON EARTH, IS VERY MUCH BETTER THAN THE BODILY PRESENCE OF CHRIST. We have fancied that the bodily Presenceof Christ would make us blessed and confer innumerable benefits. But according to our text the Presence of the Holy Spiritworking in the Church is more expedient for theChurch. I think this will be clear to you, if you think for a moment, that the bodily Presence of Christ on earth, howevergood it might be for the Church, would in our present condition involve many inconveniences which are avoided by His Presencethrough the Holy Spirit.
Christ, being most truly Man, must as to His Manhood inhabit a certain place and in order to get to Christ, it would be necessaryfor us to travel to His place of residence. Conceive all men compelled to travel from the ends of the earth to visit the LordJesus Christ, dwelling upon Mount Zion, orin the city of Jerusalem. What a lengthened voyage would that be for those who live in the far-off ends of the world!
Doubtless they would joyfully undertake it and as pence would be universal and poverty be banished, men might not be restrainedfrom taking such a journey, but might all be able to accomplish it? As they could not all live where they could every morningsee Christ, they must be content with everynow and then getting a glimpse of Him. But see, my Brethren, the Holy Spirit, the vicar of Christ, dwells everywhere! Andif we wish to apply to the Holy Spirit, we have no need to move an inch. In the closet we can find Him, or in the streetswe can talk with Him. Jesus Christcould not be present in this congregation after the flesh and yet present in a neighboring Church, much less present inAmerica and in Australia and in Europe and in Africa, at the same time.
But the Holy Spirit is everywhere! And through that Holy Spirit Christ keeps His promise, "Where two or three are met togetherin My name, there am I in the midst of them." He could not keep that promise according to the flesh-at least we are quiteunable to conceive of His so doing. Butthrough the Holy Spirit we sweetly enjoy His Presence and hope to do so to the world's end. Think again-access to Christ-ifHe were here in His corporeal Personality, would not be very easy to all Believers. There are only twenty-four hours in theday and if our Lordnever slept, if, as a Man, He could still live and, like the saints above, rest not day nor night, yet there are only thetwenty-four hours. And what were twenty-four hours for the supervision of a Church which we trust will cover the whole earth?
How could a thousand millions of Believers all receive immediate personal comfort either from His lips or the smiles of Hisface? Even at the present moment there are some millions of true saints upon earth-what could one man do by his personal presence-eventhough that one man wereIncarnate Deity? What could He do in one day for the comfort of all of these? Why, we could not possibly expect each oneof us to see Him every day-no, we could scarcely expect to have our turn once in the year!
But, Beloved, we can now see Jesus every hour and every moment of every hour! So often as you bow the knee, His Spirit, whorepresents Him, can commune with you and bless you. No matter whether it is in the dead of night that your cry goes up, orunder the blaze of burning noon-there is theSpirit waiting to be gracious and your sighs and cries climb up to Christ in Heaven and return with answers of peace. Thesedifficulties did not occur to you, perhaps, in your first thoughts. But if you meditate awhile you will see that the Presenceof the Spirit, avoiding thatdifficulty, makes Christ accessible to every saint at all times. Not to a few choice favorites, but to every believing manand woman the Holy Spirit is accessible and thus the whole body of the faithful can enjoy present and perpetual communionwith Christ.
We ought to consider yet once more that Christ's Presence in the flesh upon earth, for any other purpose than that of endingthe present dispensation, would involve another difficulty. Of course every Word which Christ had spoken from the time ofthe Apostles until now would have been Inspired.Being Inspired it would have been a thousand pities that it should fall to the ground. Busy scribes would therefore be alwaystaking down Christ's Words. And, my Brethren, if in the short course of three years our Savior managed to do and to say somuch that one of the Evangelistsinforms us that if all had been written the world itself could not have contained the books which would have been written-Iask you to imagine what a mass of literature the Christian Church would have acquired if she had preserved the Words of Christthroughout these onethousand eight hundred and sixty-four years!
Certainly we should not have had the Word of God in the simple compact form of a pocket Bible-it would have consisted of innumerablevolumes of the sayings and deeds of the Lord Jesus Christ! Only the studious, no, not even the studious could have read allthe Lord's teachings! And the poorand the illiterate must ever have been at a great disadvantage. But now we have a Book which is finished within a narrowcompass with not another line to be added to it. The canon of Revelation is sealed up forever and the poorest man in England,believing in Christ, going with ahumble soul to that Book and looking up to Jesus Christ who is present through His Spirit, though not after the flesh, may,in a short time comprehend the Doctrines of Grace and understand with all saints what are the heights and depths and knowthe love of Christ which passesknowledge.
So then, on the score of inconvenience, precious as the corporeal Presence of Christ might be, it is infinitely better forthe Church's good that, until the day of her Millennial Glory, Christ should be present by His Spirit and not in the flesh.Yet more, my Brethren! If Jesus Christ were stillpresent with His Church in the flesh, the life of faith would not have such room for its display as it now has. The morethere is visible to the eyes, the less room for faith-the least faith, the most show. The Romish Church, which has littleenough of true faith, provideseverything to work upon the senses- your nostrils are regaled with incense and your ears are delighted with sweet sounds.The more faith grows, the less it needs outward helps. And when faith shows her true character and is clean divorced fromsense and sight, then she wantsabsolutely nothing to rest upon but the invisible power of God!
She then has learned to hang as the world hangs-upon no seen support! Just as the eternal arch of yon blue sky springs rightup without props, so faith rests upon the invisible pillars of God's Truth and faithfulness, needing nothing to shore or buttressher. The Presence of Christ Jesus herein bodily flesh and the knowing of Him according to the flesh, would be the bringing back of the saints to a life of sightand in a measure spoil the simplicity of naked trust. You remember the Apostle Paul says, "We now know no man after the flesh.Yes," says he, "though we haveknown Christ after the flesh, yet now after the flesh know we Him no more." To the skeptic, who should ask us, "Why do youbelieve in Christ?" if Jesus had remained upon the earth, we could always give an easy answer-"There He is-there is the Man.Behold Him as Hecontinues still to work miracles."
There would be very little room for faith's holy adherence to the bare Word of God and no opportunity for her to glorify God,trusting where she cannot trace. But now, Beloved, the fact that we have nothing visible to point to which carnal minds canunderstand-this very fact makes the path offaith more truly congenial with its noble character-
"Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to that alone," which she could hardly do, if she could look upon the visiblePerson of a present Savior. Happy day will it be for us when faith enjoys the full fruition of her hopes in the triumphantadvent of her Lord! But His absence, alone, cantrain and educate her to the needed point of spiritual refinement.
Furthermore, the Presence of Jesus Christ on earth would materially affect the character of God's great battle against errorand sin. Suppose that Christ were to destroy the preachers of error by miracle. Suppose that persecuting monarchs had theirarms dried up, or that all men who would opposeChrist were suddenly devoured by fire. Why then it would be more a battle between physical greatness and moral evil, thana warfare in which only spiritual force is employed on the side of right. But now that Christ has gone, the fight is all betweenSpirit and spirit-betweenGod the Holy Spirit and Satan-between Truth and error. It is between the earnestness of believing men and the infatuationof unbelieving men. Now the fight is fair.
We have no miracles on our side-we do not want them-the Holy Spirit is enough! We call no fire from Heaven- no earthquakeshakes the ground beneath our foemen's feet. Korah is not swallowed up. Dathan does not go down alive into the pit. Physicalforce is left to ourenemies-we do not ask for it. Why? Because by the Divine working we can vanquish error without it. In the name of the HolyOne of Israel, in whose cause we have been enlisted-by His might we are enough-no need for miracles and signs and wonders.If Christ were herestill working miracles, the battle were not so spiritual as it now is. But the absence of the corporeal Savior makes ita spiritual conflict of Spirit of the noblest and most sublime order.
Again, dear Friends, the Holy Spirit is more valuable to the Church in her present militant state than the Presence of Christcould be conceived to be, because Christ must be here in one of two ways-either He must be here suffering, or not suffering.If Christ were here suffering, then howcould we conclude that His Atonement was finished? Is it not much better for our faith that our blessed Lord, having onceand for all made expiation for sin, should sit at the right hand of the Father? Is it not much better, I ask, than to seeHim still struggling and suffering herebelow? "Oh, but," you say, "perhaps He would not suffer!" Then I pray you, do not wish to have Him here till our warfareis accomplished, for to see an unsuffering Christ in the midst of His suffering people-to see His face calm and clear whenyours and mine are wrinkled withgrief-to see Him smiling when we are weeping, this were intolerable! No, it could not be! Brethren, if He is a sufferingChrist in our sight, then we should suspect that He had not finished His work.
And, on the other hand, if He is an unsuffering Christ, then it would look as if He were not a faithful High Priest made likeunto His Brethren. These two difficulties throw us back into a state of thankfulness to God that we have not the dilemma toanswer, but that the Spirit of God, who is Christpresent on earth, relieves us from these difficulties and gives us all the advantage we could expect from Christ's Presencein a tenfold degree. Only this one further remark, that the personal Presence of Christ, much as we think of it, did not producevery great results in Hisdisciples until the Spirit was poured forth from on high.
Christ was their Teacher-how much did they learn? Why, there is Philip-Christ has to say to him, "Have I been so long timewith you and yet have you not known Me, Philip?" They were puzzled by questions which little children can now answer! Youcan see that at the end of their threeyears course of training with Christ, they had made but slender progress. Christ is not only their Teacher, but their Comforter-yethow frequently Christ failed to console them because of their unbelief. After He had uttered that delightful discourse whichwe have beenreading, He found them sleeping for sorrow. In this very chapter, when He is trying to comfort them, He adds, "But becauseI have said these things unto you, sorrow has filled your heart."
Christ's object was to foster the Graces of His disciples-but where were their Graces? Here is Peter-he has not even the Graceof courage and consistency, but denies his Master while the rest of them forsake Him and flee. There was not even the Spiritof Christ infused into them! Theirzeal was not tempered with love, for they wanted fire from Heaven to consume His adversaries and Peter drew a sword to cutoff the High Priest's servant's ear. They scarcely knew the Truths which their Master taught and they were far enough fromimbibing His heavenly Spirit. Eventheir endowments were slender. It is true they once worked miracles and preached, but with what success?
Do you ever hear of Peter winning three thousand sinners under a sermon till the Holy Spirit came? Do you find any of themable to edify others and build up the Church of Christ? No, the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, considered only as to itsimmediate fruits, was not to be compared withministries after the descent of the Spirit. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." His great work as a Redeemerwas a complete triumph from beginning to end. But as a Teacher, since the Spirit of God was only upon Him and not upon thepeople, His words were rejected,His entreaties were despised and His warnings unheeded by the great multitude of the people.
The mighty blessing came when the words of Joel were fulfilled, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour outMy Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young menshall see visions: and also upon the servants andupon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit." That was the blessing and a blessing which, we venture to sayagain, was so rich and so rare that it was, indeed, expedient that Jesus Christ should go, that the Holy Spirit might descend.
III. I now pass on to the third point of the subject with brevity. We have come thus far-the Presence of Christ admitted tobe precious, but the Presence of the Holy Spirit most clearly shown to be of more practical value to the Church of God thanthe corporeal Presence of the Lord JesusChrist. Advance, then, to the third point, THE PRESENCE OF
THE COMFORTER IS SUPERLATIVELY VALUABLE. We may gather this, first, from the effects which were seen upon the day of Pentecost.On the day of Pentecost the heavenly Wind sounded the alarm of war. The soldiers were ill prepared for it. They were a slenderband, having only this virtue-theywere content to wait until power was given to them.
They sat still in the upper room. That mighty sound was heard across Jerusalem. The forceful Whirlwind travels on until itreaches the chosen spot. It fills the place where they are sitting. Here was an omen of what the Spirit of God is to be tothe Church! It is to come mysteriously upon theChurch according to the Sovereign will of God. But when He comes like the Wind, it is to purge the moral atmosphere andto quicken the pulse of all who spiritually breathe. This is a blessing, indeed! A gift which the Church greatly wants-I wouldthat this rushing mighty Windwould come upon this Church with an irresistible force which should carry everything before it-the force of Truth, but ofmore than Truth- the force of God driving His Truth home upon the heart and conscience of men!
I would that you and I could breathe this Wind and receive its invigorating influence that we might be made champions of Godand of His Truth. O that it would drive away our mists of doubt and clouds of error! Come, Sacred Wind, England needs You-thewhole earth requires You! The foul gaseswhich brood in this deadly calm would fly if Your Divine lightning enlightened the world and set the moral atmosphere incommotion. Come, Holy Spirit, come. We can do nothing without You! If we have Your Wind, we spread our sails and speed onwardtowards Glory!
Then the Spirit came as fire. A fire-shower accompanied the rushing mighty Wind. What a blessing is this to the Church! TheChurch wants fire to quicken her ministers, to give zeal and energy to all her members. Having this fire, she burns her wayto success! The world meets her with the fire offirewood, but she confronts the world with the fire of kindling spirits and of souls aglow with the love of Jesus Christ.She trusts not to the wit and eloquence and wisdom of her preachers, but to the Divine Fire which clothes them with energy.She knows that men are irresistiblewhen they are filled with hallowed enthusiasm sent from God. She trusts, therefore, in this and her cry is, "Come, HolyFire, abide upon our pastors and teachers! Rest upon every one of us!" This Fire is a blessing Christ did not bring us inPerson, but which He now gives throughHis Spirit to the Church.
Then there came from the fire-shower a descent of tongues. This, too, is the privilege of the Church. When the Lord gave theApostles different tongues, He did, as it were, give them the keys of the various kingdoms. "Go," says He, "Judea is not Myonly dominion. Go and unlock the gates of everyempire. Here are the keys, you can speak every language." Dear Friends, though we can no longer speak with every man inhis own tongue, yet we have the keys of the whole world swinging at our girdle if we have the Spirit of God with us. You havethe keys of human hearts if theSpirit of God speaks through you. I have this day the keys of the hearts of the multitudes here if the Holy Spirit willsto use them!
There is an efficacy about the Gospel, when the Spirit is with us, little dreamed of by those who call it the foolishnessof men. I am persuaded that the results which have followed ministry in our lifetime are trivial and insignificant comparedwith what they would be if the Spirit of God weremore mightily at work in our midst. There is no reason in the nature of the Gospel or the power of the Spirit why a wholecongregation should not be converted under one sermon! There is no reason in God's Nature why a nation should not be bornin a day and why, within a singletwelve months, a dozen ministers preaching throughout the world might not be the means of converting every elect son anddaughter of Adam to a knowledge of the Truth of God. The Spirit of God is perfectly Irresistible when He puts forth His fullpower!
His power is so Divinely Omnipotent that the moment He goes forth the work is achieved, The great prophetic event, we see,occurred on the day of Pentecost. The success given was only the first fruits-Pentecost is not the harvest. We have been accustomedto look on Pentecost as a great andwonderful display of Divine power not at all to be equaled in modern times. Brethren, it is to be exceeded! I stand notupon Pentecost as upon a towering mountain, wondering at my height, but I look at Pentecost as a little rising knoll fromwhich I am to look up to mountains farloftier! I look not to Pentecost as the shouting of our harvest home and the bringing in of the sheaves into the garner.No! But as an offering of the first wave sheaf before the altar of God!
You must expect greater things, pray for greater things, long for greater things! Here is this England of ours, sunk in stolidignorance of the Gospel. Weighing like a nightmare upon her bosom we have baptismal regeneration supported by a horde of priestswho either believe that dogma, or holdtheir benefices by subscribing to a lie. How is this incubus to be shaken off from the living bosom of England? "Not bymight, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." There is France cursed with infidelity, fickle, gay, given up to pleasure-howis she to be made soberand sanctified unto God? "Not by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." Yonder is Germany, with her metaphysical skepticism,her half-Romanism, that is to say, Lutheranism-and her abounding Popery! How is she to arise? "Not by might, nor by power,but by My Spirit, says theLord." Away there in Italy sits old Rome, the harlot of the seven hills, still reigning queen triumphant over the greatpart of the earth! How is she to die? Where is the sword which shall find out her heart? "Not by might, nor by power, butby My Spirit, says the Lord."
The one thing, then, which we need, is the Spirit of God! Do not say that we need money-we shall have it soon enough whenthe Spirit touches men's hearts. Do not say that we need buildings, Churches, edifices-all these may be very well in subservience-butthe main need of theChurch is the Spirit and men into whom the Spirit may be poured! If there were only one prayer which I might pray beforeI died, it should be this: "Lord, send to Your Church men filled with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Give to any denominationsuch men and its progress must bemighty-keep back such men, send them college gentlemen of great refinement and profound learning, but of little fire andGrace-dumb dogs which cannot bark-and straightway that denomination must decline. Let the Spirit come and the preacher maybe rustic, simple,rough, unmannered-but the Holy Spirit being upon him-none of his adversaries shall stand against him! His word shall bewith power to the shaking of the gates of Hell!
Beloved, did I not say well when I said that the Spirit of God is of superlative importance to the Church and that the dayof Pentecost seems to tell us this? Remember, Brethren, and here is another thought which should make the Spirit very dearto you-without the Holy Spirit no good thingever did or ever can come into any of your hearts-no sigh of penitence! No cry of faith! No glance of love! No tear of hallowedsorrow! Your heart can never palpitate with Divine life except through the Spirit! You are not capable of the smallest degreeof spiritual emotion,much less spiritual action, apart from the Holy Spirit! Dead you lie, living only for evil, and absolutely dead for Goduntil the Holy Spirit comes and raises you from the grave!
There is nothing good in you today, my Brothers and Sisters, which was not put there. The flowers of Christ are all exotics-"Inme, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! Everything must comefrom Christ and Christ gives nothing tomen except through the Spirit of all Grace. Prize, then, the Spirit as the channel of all good which comes into you. Andfurther, no good thing can come out of you apart from the Spirit. Let it be in you, yet it lies dormant except God works inyou to will and to do of His own goodpleasure. Do you desire to preach? How can you unless the Holy Spirit touches your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas,what dull work it is unless the Spirit makes intercession for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would youimitate your Master? Do you desire torise to superlative heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardor forthe Master's cause? You cannot without the Spirit-"Without Me you can do nothing."
O branch of the vine, you can have no fruit without the sap! O child of God, you have no life within you apart from the lifewhich God gives you through His Spirit! Said I not well, then, that the Holy Spirit is superlatively precious, so that eventhe Presence of Christ after the flesh is not tobe compared to His Presence for glory and for power?
IV. This brings us to the conclusion, which is a practical point. Brethren, if these things are so, let us, who are believersin Christ, view the mysterious Spirit with deep awe and reverence. Let us so reverence Him as not to grieve Him or provokeHim to anger by our sins. Let us not quench Him inone of His faintest motions in our soul. Let us foster every suggestion and be ready to obey every prompting. If the HolySpirit is, indeed, so mighty, let us do nothing without Him. Let us begin no project and carry on no enterprise and concludeno transaction without imploring Hisblessing. Let us pay Him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from Him, and then depending alone upon Him,having this for our prayer, "Open my heart and my whole being to Your incoming and uphold me with Your free Spirit when Ishall have received that Spirit in myinward parts."
You who are unconverted, let me beseech you, whatever you do, never despise the Spirit of God. Remember, there is a specialhonor put upon Him in Scripture-"All manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the sin against the HolySpirit shall never be forgiven, neither inthis world nor in that which is to come." Remember, "If a man speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgivenhim. But if he speaks a word against the Holy Spirit, it shall never be forgiven him." This is the sin which is unto death,of which even the loving Johnsays-"I do not say that you shall pray for it." Tremble, therefore, in His Presence! Take your shoes off, for when His nameis mentioned, the place where you stand is holy ground. Let the Spirit be treated with reverence.
In the next place, as a practical remark, let us, viewing the might of the Spirit, take courage today. We know, Brethren,that we, as a body of people seeking to adhere closely to Scripture and to practice the ordinances and hold the doctrinesas we have received them from the Lord Himself, are butpoor and despised. And when we look at the great ones of the earth, we see them on the side of the false and not of thetrue. Where are the kings and the nobles? Where are the princes, and where are the mighty men?
Are they not against the Lord of Hosts. Where is the gold? Where is the silver? Where is the architecture? Where is the wisdom?Where is the eloquence? Is it not banded against the Lord of Hosts? What? Shall we, then, be discouraged? Our fathers werenot! They bore their testimony in the stocks andin the prison, but they feared not for the good old cause! As John Bunyan, they learned to rot in dungeons, but they learnednot to play the coward. They suffered and they testified that they were not discouraged. Why? Because they knew (not thatTruth is mighty and will prevail,for Truth is not mighty and will not prevail in this world until men are different from what they are), but they knew thatthe Spirit of God is mighty and will prevail!
Better to have a small Church of poor men and the Spirit of God with them, than to have a hierarchy of nobles, to have anarmy of titled princes and prelates without the Holy Spirit! For this is not merely the sinew of strength, but it is strengthitself! Where the Spirit of God is-there isliberty and power! Courage then, Brethren! We have only to seek for that which God has promised to give and we can do wonders.He will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Wake up, members of this Church, to earnest prayer. And all Believers throughoutthe world, cry aloudunto God to let His bare arm be seen. Wake, children of God, for you know the power ofprayer!
Give the Covenant angel no rest till he speaks the word and the Spirit works mightily among the sons of men. Prayer is workadapted to each of you who are in Christ. You cannot preach, you cannot teach, but you can pray! And your private prayer,unknown by men, shall be registered in Heaven, Thosesilent but earnest cries of yours shall bring down a blessing. The other morning, when we were holding special prayer, therewere some Brethren present who kept saying during the prayer to themselves, scarcely loud enough to be heard, "Do Lord! Do!Grant it! Hear it!" That is a kindof praying which I love in Prayer Meetings!
I would not care for the loud shouts of some of our Methodist Brethren, though if they like they are welcome to it. But Ido like to hear friends praying with the groaning which cannot be uttered, "Lord, send the Spirit! Send the Spirit, Lord!Work! Work! Work!" During sermon time it is whatnumbers of Churches should be doing, crying out to God in their hearts. As you walk the streets when you see sin you shouldpray, "Lord, put it down by Your Spirit!" And when you mark a struggling Brother striving to do good, you should cry, "Lord,help him! Help him by YourSpirit." I am persuaded we only need more prayer and there is no limit to the blessing! You may evangelize England, youmay evangelize Europe, you may Christianize the world-if you do but know how to pray.
Prayer can get anything of God, prayer can get everything-God denies nothing to the man who knows how to ask. The Lord nevershuts His storehouse till you shut your mouth! God will never stop His arm till you stop your tongue. Cry aloud and sparenot! Give Him no rest till He sends forth HisSpirit once again to stir the waters and to brood over this dark world till light and life shall come! Cry day and night,O you elect of God, for He will avenge you speedily. The time of battle draws near! Rome sharpens her sword for the fight!The men of error gnash their teeth inrage! Now for the sword of the Lord and of Gideon! Now for the old might and majesty of the ancient days! Now for the shakingof the walls of Jericho, even though we have no better weapons than rams' horns! Now for the driving out of the heathen, andfor the establishment of God'sIsrael in the land! Now for the coming of the Holy Spirit with such might and power that as Noah's flood covered the mountaintops,Jehovah's flood of Glory shall cover the highest summits of sin and iniquity and the whole world over, the Lord God Omnipotentshall reign!
You who have not the Spirit pray for it. May He prompt you to pray this morning! Unconverted Sinners, may the Spirit giveyou faith! Remember that the Holy Spirit tells you to trust Christ. If you honor the Holy Spirit, trust Christ. I know youmust be regenerate, for the man who trusts Christ isregenerate. You must repent, you must be holy, but the man who trusts Christ shall repent and shall be made holy. The germsof repentance and holiness are in him already. Trust Christ, Sinner! It is the Holy Spirit's mandate to you this morning.May He constrain you to trust Him andHe shall have the Glory, world without end. Amen.