Sermon 1046. Covenant Blessings
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, APRIL 14, 1872,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"A newheart also willI give you, and a new spirit will Iput within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I willput My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and you shallkeep My judgments, and do them." Ezekiel 36:26,27.
LUTHER has well said that the experience of the minister is the best book in his library. I am persuaded it is so and thatGod often leads His servants through peculiar states of mind, not so much for their own benefit as for the sake of those towhom they may afterwards minister. It is not long ago since I felt myself, when engaged in devotion, cold and dead. And inlooking into my own heart I saw no ground of comfortable assurance as to my being a possessor of the Grace of God-my feelingstowards the great Father in Heaven were not, as far as I could judge, those of a child-my love towards Jesus Christ for Hisredemption was almost extinct.
I thought over the story of His Cross without emotion and I recalled to my mind the history of His everlasting love withoutgratitude. My soul was not, as it sometimes is, like the crystal lake which is ruffled with every passing breath of the breeze,but like some northern sea hardened into iron by the fierce reign of endless winter. The sublime Truths of infinite Gracestirred not my soul. My heart sank within me for a moment, but only for a moment, for there flashed across me this thought-"TheHoly Spirit can produce within your heart all those emotions you are seeking for, all those desires you gladly would feel,all the melting, and the moving, and the yearning, and the rejoicing, which are significant of the Grace of God."
Under the influence of that Truth of God, as in a moment, my deadness and coldness were driven away and I was filled withadoring love. Then I wondered greatly that the Lord should deign to handle such coarse material as our nature, that He shouldcondescend to work upon such gross spirits, such groveling minds, such carnal understandings as ours. And when, by faith,I perceived that He could not only, then and there, give me to feel spiritual life but could maintain it against all hazards,and perfect it beyond all imperfections, and bring me safe into His eternal Kingdom and Glory-an act of faith exerted uponthe Holy Spirit through the Cross of Christ made my soul eager for prayer, and my joy and peace in believing were more thanrestored to me!
Then I said within myself, there may be others in a similar case and especially there may be seeking souls who, seeing whatmust be worked in them before they can hope to be partakers of the eternal rest, may despair that such a work should everbe done, and looking only to themselves may be inclined to give up all hope, and conclude that within the pearly gates theycan never enter. Perhaps, I thought, if I remind them that "the Spirit also helps our infirmities," that Jesus Christ's bequestto us, in virtue of His having gone to Heaven, is an Omnipotent One who can work all our worlds in us, causing us to willand to do of His own good pleasure-the thought may encourage their hearts and enable them to look with restful confidenceto Him who works all our worlds in us.
Our text is a portion of that delightful rendering of the Covenant of Grace which is given us by Ezekiel, and we will, fora single moment, ask you to remember the persons with whom the covenant of Grace was made. An early version of the Covenantof Grace was given to Abraham and this in Ezekiel is a repetition, expansion, or explanation of the same. This Covenant, andthat form of it made with Abraham, concern the same individuals. Let us, then, remind ourselves that the Covenant was notmade with the fleshly seed of Abraham. If it had been, it would have run in the line of Ishmael as well as that of Isaac-butit was not made with Ishmael, for what says the Scriptures-"Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwomanshall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac."
The Covenant of Grace was not made with the children who are born after the flesh as was Ishmael, but with those who are bornaccording to the promise as was Isaac-who was not born by virtue of the energy of the flesh, for of Abraham it was said thathe was as good as dead, and as for Sarah that she was long past bearing. But Isaac, the child of laughter, the child of joy,the heir of the promise, was born according to the power of God and not after the energy of nature. Isaac evidently typifiesnot the man of works but the man offaith. The man of works is born after the flesh. He has reformed himself. He has done hisbest-he continues to do his best. He is the child of his own energy. He is the result of human power. He is under the Law-hetries to save himself by the Law-he is, therefore, the son of Hagar the bondwoman and he is under bondage. His destiny maybe learned from the words, "Cast forth the son of the bondwoman, he shall not be heir with my son."
But the man of faith has received his faith supernaturally. It has been worked in him by the Holy Spirit. It is not the fruitof the creature's power, it is the gift of God-it is the child of promise and it is the child of joy and laughter to him-itis a fresh spring of joy within his soul. The man of faith, therefore, is the heir of the promise and the partaker of theCovenant since he believes in Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. The man who rests upon the Grace of God and believes inGod as holy Abraham did-he is a faithful man and, consequently, he is one of the sons of the father of the faithful. Let everyman, therefore, who believes in Jesus Christ this morning know assuredly that every word of this text belongs to him and shallbe fulfilled in him.
I earnestly pray that many sinners may put in their claim and say, "I have no works, but I believe in Jesus Christ. I comenow and rest myself upon the bloody Sacrifice offered upon Calvary and I humbly receive the mercy of God through Jesus Christby simply depending on Him." To everyone who exercises faith in God, even though it is but a weak and struggling faith, theprecious promise we are about to expound is a heritage which cannot be taken away from him! The main promise of the text beforeus is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Observe that the text divides itself thus-first, it contains an assured promise ofpreparation for the Spirit's indwelling. Secondly, a plain promise of that indwelling. And, thirdly, the blessed results whichflow from the promise.
I. Observe, first, we have here to all God's covenanted people, or in other words, to all Believers, a promise of PREPARATIONFOR THE SPIRIT'S INDWELLING. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take awaythe stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." This promise is as a cluster of nuts, or a boughwith many golden apples. Like the cherubim of Ezekiel it has four faces, all smiling upon the heirs of salvation. Like thenew Jerusalem it lies four-square. It is a quadruple treasure worthy of four-fold consideration!
The first of the four blessings is the gift of a new heart. "A new heart also will I give you." The Holy Spirit cannot dwellin the old heart-it is a filthy place devoid of all good-and full of enmity to God. His very first operation upon our natureis to pull down the old house and build Himself a new one that He may be able to inhabit us consistently with His holy spiritualNature. A new heart is absolutely essential. We must be born-again or the Spirit of Truth cannot abide within us. Observewhere the inward work of Grace begins. All man's attempts at the betterment of human nature begin from without, and the theoryis that the work will deepen till it reaches that which is within. They profess to emancipate the man from the grosser vices,trusting that the reform will go further-that he will be brought under superior influences-and so be elevated in mind andheart.
Theirs is an outward ointment for an inward disease-a bandage upon the skin to stop the bleeding of the heart. Miserable physiciansare they all! Their remedies fail to eradicate the deep-seated maladies of humanity. God's way of dealing with men is thereverse. He begins within and works towards the exterior in due course. He is not a mere quack, who, seeing in a man the signsof disease, operates upon the symptoms, and never looks to the root of the mischief. It is very possible that by potent poisonsa charlatan may check unpleasing indications-and he may kill the man in doing so. But the wise physician looks to the fountainof the disease, and if it is not possible to touch the core and center of it, he leaves the symptoms to right themselves.
If your watch is out of order the watchmaker does not consider it sufficient to clean the silver case, or to remove dust fromthe face-he looks within and may discover that this wheel is broken, this cog out of order-or the main spring needing to bereplaced. He is not much concerned about setting the hands accurately at first, for he knows that the external manifestationsof the correct time will follow from the setting to rights the time-keeping machinery within.
Look at our brooks and rivulets which have been, by a lax legislature, so long delivered over to the tormentors to be blackenedinto pestiferous sewers-if we need to have them purged it is of no use to cast chloride of lime and other chemicals into thestream-the only remedy is to forbid the pollution, to demand that factories shall not poison us wholesale, but shall in someother manner consume their useless products! The voice of common sense bids us go to the original cause of the defilementand deal with it at its sources.
That is just what God does when He saves a sinner! He begins at the origin of the sinner's sin and deals with his heart. MyBrothers and Sisters, what a difficult work this is-"A new heart also will I give you." If it had been said, "A new garmentwill I give you," many of us could have conferred the same gift. If it had been said, "A new speech will I teach you," this,also, with a little skill, might have been arranged. And, if the promise had been, "new habits will I create in you," this,also, we could have attempted, and perhaps successfully, to imitate, for habits are to be engendered. But a new heart? Ah,here human power and wit are nonplussed. Jannes and Jambres in Egypt could imitate some of the miracles. They "did so withtheir enchantment," and there is much in true religion which men can successfully counterfeit.
But, as in Egypt, a point was reached wherein the magicians were foiled, so that they confessed, "This is the finger of God."So in the regeneration of our nature-in the changing the heart-the Lord alone is seen. Who shall pretend to give another anew heart? Go, boaster, and suspend the laws of gravitation! Recall the thunderbolt! Reverse the chariot of the sun! Transformthe Atlantic to a lake of fire and then attempt to change the nature of the heart of man! This, God alone works, for He onlydoes wondrous things! The affections are the most powerful part of our nature! They, to a great extent, mold even the understandingitself. And if the heart is defiled, all the mental faculties become disturbed in their balance. God, therefore, commencesat the heart-and therein begins a work in which man cannot compete with Him, nor can he even help Him.
God must do it. The same God who made men must make them new, if the new-making is to begin with a change of heart. Blessedbe God, He is Omnipotent enough to give us new hearts! He has wisdom enough to renew us! He has purity sufficient to cleanseus! He has abounding mercy to bear with us. Mark, He gives us "a new heart," not an old heart touched-up and mended. Not anold heart a little purified and improved-but a new heart which enters into a new life, receives new inspirations, feeds onnew food, longs for new happiness, performs new actions, and is, in fact-an inhabitant of the new heavens and the new earthwherein dwells righteousness! Brethren, I will read this sentence over again, "A new heart also will I give you."
And I would call your attention to the style of the language. It is, "I will," and yet again, "I will." Jehovah's Ego is thegreat word. It is not "I will, if," or, "I will, perhaps," or, "I will upon certain conditions," but-"I will give." He speaksin a God-like tone. It is royal language, the very word of Him who of old said, "Light be," and light was! He who spoke theworld into being now speaks the new world of Grace into being in the self-same majestic voice! Turn, now, to the second blessing-"Anew spirit will I put within you." Perhaps this clause may be explained as an interpretation of the former one. It may bethat the new heart and the new spirit are intended to represent the same thing. But I conceive there is more than this.
"A new spirit"-does not the term indicate that a new vital principle is implanted in men? We have often explained to you thatthe natural man, is correctly and strictly speaking, a compound of soul and body only. The first man, Adam, was made a livingsoul, and, as we bear the image of the first Adam, we are body and soul only. It is our own belief that in regeneration somethingmore is done than the mere rectifying of what was there-there is in the new birth infused and implanted in man a third andmore elevated principle-a spirit is begotten in him! And, as the second Adam was made a quickening Spirit, so in the new birthwe are transformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus, who is the second Adam. The implantation, infusion and putting intoour nature the third and higher principle is, we believe, the being born-again. Regarded in this light, the words before usmay be regarded as an absolute and unconditional promise of the Covenant of Grace to all the seed that a new spirit shallbe put within them.
But, if we view it as some do, we shall then read it thus-the ruling spirit of man's nature shall be changed. The spirit whichrules and reigns in Godless Christless men is the spirit of a rebellious slave, the spirit of self. Every natural man's mainmotive is himself. Even in his religion he only seeks self. If he is attentive to prayers and sermons, it is that he, himself,may be saved. And if he fears God, and dreads the terrors of His Law, it is on his own account-not that he cares for God'sGlory, God's honor, or the rights of God-not one whit! He has no more interest in God than a rebellious
slave has in the property of his master. He wears the yoke, but he groans under it. He would gladly enough escape from itif he could. He is only happy when he is breaking his master's laws and fulfilling his own selfish will.
But, when the Spirit of God comes upon us to make our spirit a fit place for His residence, He takes away the spirit of theslave and gives us the spirit of a child-and from that moment the service of God becomes a different thing. We do not serveHim now because we are afraid of the whip, but nobler motives move us. Gratitude binds us to the Lord's service and love giveswings to the feet of obedience. Now the Lord is no more regarded as a tyrant, but as a wise and loving parent. Whatever Hemay do with us we rejoice in His wisdom and goodness. We view Him no longer with suspicion and dread, but with confidenceand joy. No more do we ask, "where shall I go from Your Presence?" But we desire to come near to Him. And in our sorrows ourcry is, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat." It is a revolution, indeed, when thehatred and dread of a slave are exchanged for the loving subjection of a son! This is one of the precious privileges of theCovenant of Grace, which I trust, Beloved, many of you have already received, and which I hope others who have not receivedit will seek after. If they have believed in Jesus, a new spirit, a spirit of sonship is their privilege-let them not be contentunless they have it now.
A third and further blessing of the text is the removal of the stony heart. "I will take away the stony heart out of yourflesh." I do not think the Lord removes, all at once, the evil heart out of any man's flesh-there it remains to be foughtwith like the Canaanites in Canaan when Israel had entered there-to prove us and to try us. But He does take away the stonyheart at once. The stony heart is a hard heart. The moment anything strikes a stone it repels the blow. When the Gospel isheard by a hard heart it throws it off again. It is not moved by it. It is not affected by it. You might as well throw feathersat a wall as preach Gospel sermons to hard hearts if your confidence is in the sermon itself! Only God's power can make thefeather-like sermon penetrate the heart of stone!
The Lord can do it, but the thing itself cannot be done by Nature. The natural heart is an impenetrable heart-you may makescratches on the surface-but you cannot enter within it to reach its inner core. What a marble heart by nature each one ofus has! Till Grace visits us, the Truth of God cannot enter us any more than light can shine into a stone. A stony heart isunfeeling-you can make no impression upon it-it cannot smart, it cannot breathe, it cannot sigh, it cannot groan. A stonything because a dead thing. Bruise it and that which would make flesh black and blue does not affect the stone. Cut it andthat which would cause an agony to living flesh makes no disturbance in its granite mass. A cold, insensible thing-not tobe warmed even by the rehearsal of the love of Calvary-such is our heart by nature.
Dear Hearers, such is the heart of every one of you till God deals with you-just a lump of stone! Of course we speak not literallybut spiritually, yet what we assert is a solemn fact. God says, "I will take away the stony heart." What a wonderful operationto take a stone out of the heart! How much more wonderful to take the stony heart, itself, right away and create a fleshyheart in its place! I would ask you again, though it may seem like a repetition, to notice how royally the Lord speaks. Hedoes not say, "perhaps I will." He does not say, "If you are willing I will," but, he says, "I will." Oh, it is gloriouslyworded, "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh." The Lord's Omnipotence can accomplish it!
We have heard of many expedients for softening hard hearts, but none of them are of any use. I know preachers who delightin talking of a mother's tears, and a father's gray hairs-of dying children and consumptive sisters, and I believe these areall legitimate topics. But no hearts are ever turned from stone to flesh merely by natural emotion. You may make a man weepover his dead child or his dead wife till his eyes are red-but his heart will be black for all that. Men's hearts are changedby quite another agency than oratorical or rhetorical appeals to the natural affections. I readily admit that such appealshave their own sphere, but for the renewing of the heart something much more effectual is needed than natural emotion. Itis written, "/ will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh," and there is the secret of the matter!
The fourth promise of the preparation of the heart for the indwelling of the Spirit is this-"I will give you an heart of flesh,"by which is meant a soft heart, an impressible heart, a sensitive heart, a heart which can feel, can be moved to shame, torepentance, to loathing of sin, to desiring, to seeking, to panting, to longing after God. It means a tender heart, a heartthat does not require a thousand blows to move it, but, like flesh with its skin broken, feels the very faintest touch-suchis the heart which the Holy Spirit creates in the children of God! It is a teachable heart, a heart willing to be guided,molded, governed by the Divine will-a heart which, like young Samuel, cries, "Speak, Lord, for Your servant
hears"-an obedient heart, ready to be run into the mold, putty beneath the sacred hand, anxious to be conformed to the heavenlyPattern.
This is an early work of Grace in the soul, for as soon as ever the Gospel is heard in power and the Spirit of God comes upona man, long before he enters into the liberty where Christ makes men free, he ceases to have a heart of stone! Long beforehe can say, "Christ is mine," he becomes tender and impressible under the Truth, and it is a great mercy it is so! It is ablessed sign of a work begun which will be effectually carried on where the heart trembles at God's Word, where there areearnest desires towards Christ and the man is no longer a braggart rebel, but a trembling child come back to his father, andlonging to cry, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before You."
Beloved, it is necessary, here, to add a word of caution to some of you. Do not mistake natural tenderness for that heartof flesh which God gives. There are many persons who are naturally very impressible, many among women, and some among men.For this characteristic they are rather, to me, admired than censured. But, let them not mistake this for a work of Grace.A heart of wax is soft, but it is not a heart of flesh. The softness of Nature is not the sensitiveness of Divine Grace. Itis often the case that some persons who are religiously sensitive are equally sensitive the other way, and, while you caninfluence them for good, others can as easily influence them for evil. They happen to be just now religious because the associationssurrounding them have that tendency, but were they under other influences they would be skeptical if not utterly irreligious.
They would have been lovers of the pleasures which others pursue had not home habits sobered their minds, for their heartsare still unrenewed. Mere religious impressibility is not Grace-it is Nature alone-and I even fear that to some it is a temptationto be so extremely impressionable. I am not always sanguine concerning persons who are readily excited, for they so soon cooldown again. Some are like India rubber and every time you put your finger on them you leave a mark-but it is wasted time,because they get back into the old shape again as soon as you have done with them. I was preaching once, in a certain city,and a very worthy but worldly man went out of the congregation while I was in the middle of the sermon, the third sermon hehad been hearing from me during the week.
One who followed him out asked him why he left, and he frankly replied that he could not stand it any longer, "for," he said,"I must have become religious if I had heard that sermon through. I was nearly gone. I have been," he added, "like an Indiarubber doll under this man. But when he goes away I shall get back into the old shape again." Very many are of the same quality.They have so much natural amiability, good sense, and conscientiousness, that the Gospel ministry has a power over them andthey feel its influence, though not so as to be saved by it. Beware, then, that you do not mistake the gilding of Nature forthe solid gold of Grace.
When God's Grace helps the preacher to wield the Gospel hammer and it comes down with power upon a piece of flint, how speedilythe stone flies to shivers and what a glorious work of heart-breaking is done! And then the Lord comes in and gives, by Hisown almighty Grace, a heart of flesh! This is the change we need-the taking away of the stone-the giving of the heart of flesh.Let us read these four promises again, and I hope they will reach any poor trembling soul who may be saying, "I would, butcannot repent. I would but cannot feel. If anything is felt 'tis only pain to find I cannot feel! My heart is so bad, so hard,so cold, I can believe in Christ but I cannot change my nature."
Poor Soul, there is no need you should! For there is One who can do the work for you and these are His absolute promises toyou if you are now looking to Christ upon the Cross and resting all your hopes in Him-"A new heart also will I give you, anda new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart offlesh."
II. But time flies, and therefore let us consider, in the second place, THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
When the Spirit has thus prepared His habitation, He comes to reside within the renewed man. I call your attention to eachword of the text. Observe first that the Lord says, "I will put My Spirit within you." Now it does not say, "the influencesof the Spirit shall come within you"-not that-but, "I will put My Spirit within you." It is literally the fact that God Himself,the Eternal Spirit in "propria Persona," in His own Person, resides and dwells within the renewed heart. I again remark thatit is not said, "I will put the Grace of My Spirit, I will put the work of My Spirit," but, "I will put My Spirit within you."
It is the Holy Spirit Himself who, in very deed, lives in every heart of flesh-every new heart and right spirit. Can you getthat thought? Simple as it is, it is one of the greatest marvels under the sun! An Incarnate God is a mystery-the
Word was made flesh and dwelt among us-but here is another mystery! God dwells in every son of God. God dwells in us, andwe in Him! The mystery of the Incarnation is no greater than that of the Holy Spirit's indwelling, nor does it appear to meto involve more condescension. I marvel at Christ's dwelling with sinners and I marvel, equally, at the Holy Spirit's dwellingin sinners! God Himself, for whom the universe is not too vast a temple! The ever blessed Spirit in whose Presence the heavensare not clean, yet says, "To this man will I look even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles atMy Word."
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us implies the exercise of His influences, the bestowal of His gifts, and the implantationof His Graces. And, moreover, it involves the exercise of all His sacred offices, for where the Holy Spirit indwells He actsas a Teacher, an Illuminator, a Comforter, a Creator, a Strengthener, a Preserver-all that He is in all His offices He willbe according to His own will to every man in whom He takes up His abode. Note a little word, also, in the text worthy of yourattention. "I will put My Spirit within you." It is not the spirit of angels. It is not the spirit of good men-it is God'sown Spirit who takes up His residence in every sinners when God renews it. "My Spirit." And perhaps this may allude to thefact that this is the same Spirit which abode without measure in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have a union of experience with Christ in the fact that the same oil which anointed Him anoints us. The same dew whichfell upon His branch refreshes ours. The same holy fire which burned in His breast is kindled in ours. "I will put My Spiritwithin you." Observe also carefully the words, "within you." "I will put my Spirit within you." We thank God that we comenear to the Spirit of God when we devoutly read the Holy Scriptures, for He wrote them and His mind is in them. But we havea greater privilege than this! We thank God when the Spirit acts upon us under a sermon, or under any form of Christian teachingso that we feel the Spirit of God to be with us. But we have a privilege richer, even, than this. "I will put My Spirit"-notwith you, nor side by side with you, nor in a book, nor in an oracle, nor in a temple, nor in one of your fellow men, but-"Iwill put My Spirit within YOU"-in your own souls, in your own renewed hearts!
This is marvelous! Augustine, when reflecting upon the various glories which come to God, and the benefits which accrue tomen through redemption-none of which could have been revealed without the fall of Adam-exclaimed, "O beata culpa." "Oh, happyfault!" And I have the same expression trembling on my lips. Where sin abounded Grace has much more abounded. Sin, which laidman in the dust and made him like a devil, afforded an opportunity for Mercy to step in and lift humanity higher than before!Where was man in Eden compared with man in Christ? In Paradise he was perfect in beauty, but in Jesus he wears a radiancesuperlative, for the Holy Spirit is within him!
In Adam man was made a living soul, but in Christ Jesus he has now risen to the dignity and majesty of a quickening Spirit.My brethren, where the Holy Spirit enters He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. When the ark came unto the Philistinetemple, down went Dagon. And when the Holy Spirit enters the soul, sin falls and is broken. If the Holy Spirit is within,we may rest assured He will tolerate no reigning sin. He is a Spirit of burning, consuming our dross! He is a Spirit of light,chasing away our darkness. When He makes a heart His temple, He will scourge out the buyers and sellers who pollute it! Heis not only the Purifier within but the Protector, too-from temptations that assail us from without He is as an unconquerablegarrison to our soul making us impregnable to all assaults.
Treasonable sins lurk within us, but the Omniscient eye of God discerns each evil ambush and He lays His hands upon everysin which hides itself away in the dark recesses of our nature. With such an Indweller we need not fear-this poor heart ofours will yet become perfect as God is perfect-and our nature, through His indwelling, shall rise into complete meetness forthe inheritance of the saints in light. Oh, what blessings are here, and in what royal language are they all promised! "Iwill put My Spirit within you." How positive! How decisive! Suppose they will not accept the Spirit? Suppose they strive againstthe Spirit? Suppose their free will should get the mastery? Suppose nonsense!
When the Lord says, "I will," nothing remains to be supposed. If He speaks to chaos, it is order. Do not ask, "Suppose chaosrefuses to be arranged?" When Jehovah speaks to darkness, it becomes light! Do not ask, "But, suppose the darkness resists?"What shall resist His fiat? When the Lord comes forth in His Omnipotence who shall stay His hand or say unto Him, "What areyou doing?" When the Spirit comes to deal in Sovereign Grace with the hearts of men, without violating their wills He hasthe power to accomplish His Divine purpose, and it shall be accomplished to the praise of the glory of His Grace.
III. Lastly, we must ask you to give your thoughts a moment to THE BLESSED RESULTS which come from all this. The indwellingSpirit leads every man in whom He reigns into obedience to the ways of God. I said that the work of Grace is commenced fromwithin, but the work does not end there. Before we have considered the whole of the Covenant promise we shall find that changeof life is guaranteed-a change apparent in works and actions, "You shall keep My judgments and do them." We do not begin withworks, but we go on to works. Faith first receives the blessing and then produces holy work. We will not allow the effectto take the place of the cause, but we are equally sure that the effect follows after the cause.
Now, observe the promise of the text before us-"I will cause you to walk in My statutes." The soul that possesses the Spiritbecomes active. It walks. It is not passive as one carried by main force-it works because the Spirit works in it, "to willand to do of His own good pleasure." The man who has no active godliness may fear whether he has any Grace at all. If I amonly a receiver and have never brought forth fruit, I may fear that I am the ground that is "near unto cursing," for if Iwere a field that the Lord has blessed I should yield Him a harvest. The Spirit causes us to walk, but yet we ourselves walk.He works in us to do, but the doing is actually our own. He does not repent, and He does not believe-He has nothing to repentof, and He has nothing to believe. Neither does the Spirit perform works for us-we are led to do these ourselves. We repentand we believe, and we do good works because He causes us to do so.
A willing walk with God is a sweet result of the Holy Spirit's indwelling. The Holy Spirit leads us to holy habits, for, markthe phrase, "I will cause you to walk in My ways." The figure does not represent us as taking a run now and then, or as leapinga step or two and then lying down-but as walking on and on, steadily and continuously. Here excitement may produce momentaryzeal and transient morality, but habitual holiness is the fruit of the Spirit. Note, next, the delight it implies. "I willcause you to walk in My ways"-not as a man who toils, but as one who walks at ease. The Believer finds it as sweet to walkin God's ways as Isaac felt it sweet to walk in the fields at eventide. We are not slaves sweating in sore bondage, but childrenserving with delight! His Commandments are not grievous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
It implies, too, holy perseverance-the words have the meaning of continuing to follow after holiness. It is a small matterto begin, but to hold out to the end is the testing point. The text promises to us a complete obedience-"I will cause youto walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments." A Christian man is obedient to God-he minds the first table. Heis just to man-he does not despise the second table. Statutes and judgments are equally dear to Believers. We are not willingto give a lame, one-sided obedience to God. The Holy Spirit, when He makes us devout God-ward, makes us honest man-ward. Andthe Holy Spirit also works a holy care for righteousness in the soul. "I will cause you to keep My judgments"-that is, tohave an exactness of obedience-a precision, a deliberation, a willingness to find out God's will and a care to attend to itin every jot and tittle.
A man in whom dwells the Holy Spirit is careful not to yield himself to the traditions of men but to the commands of God.He pays no attention to the statutes of the great councils of the Church, or the ordinances of popes, or the laws of priests,or the mandates of bishops. He searches out the will of the Lord, only. The knee of his conscience bows with lowly reverencebefore the Lord but nowhere else. He who has bound us to His altar has loosed all other bonds, so that the traditions of menand the ordinances of priests are contemptible to us. To God, and God alone the renewed heart renders obedience, but thatobedience he does render!
Now, to what a delightful consummation has our text conducted us. It began with a renewed heart and it ends in a purifiedlife. It commenced with taking away the stone and giving the flesh. Now it gives us the life of Christ written out in livingcharacters in our daily practice. Glory be to God for this! O Soul, if you are a partaker of it, you will join in this thanksgiving!And if you are not renewed as yet, I beseech you do not go about to find these good things anywhere but where they are. Atthe foot of the Cross you will find a change of heart-where fell the drops of blood from Jesus' nailed hands and feet-thereis salvation! The Spirit of God will give you a right spirit, and, consequently, a pure life. Look not to your own efforts!Rake not the dunghill of your own heart! Look to the Holy Spirit through the blood of the precious Savior.
Now, to close. All this glorifies God doubly. It glorifies God that a man should walk in His ways. It glorifies God, yet more,that such obedience should be the result of Divine power. The outward life honors God, but the inward, spiritual, graciouswork which that life produces, honors Him yet more abundantly. While this glorifies God doubly, it
ennobles the soul supremely. To be made holy is to receive a patent of nobility. To be made holy by the indwelling of theHoly Spirit, oh, what shall we say to this? Bring here the poorest peasant-let her, if you will, be an aged woman, wrinkledand haggard with labor and with years. Let her be ignorant of all learning, but, let me know that in her there is faith inChrist and that, consequently, the Holy Spirit dwells in her, and I will reverence her above all emperors and kings, for sheis above them all!
What are these crowned ones but men who, perhaps, have waded through slaughter to a throne, while she has been uplifted bythe righteousness of Jesus? Their dynasty is, after all, of mushroom growth-but she is of the blood royal of the skies! Shehas God within her! She has Christ waiting to receive her into His bliss! Heaven's inhabitants without her could not be perfected,nor God's purpose be fulfilled! Therefore is she noblest of the noble! Judge not after the sight of the eyes, but judge afterthe mind of God, and let saved sinners be precious in "your sight."
Honor, also, the Holy Spirit. Speak of Him with lowly awe. Never take His name in vain. Take heed lest you blaspheme it. Reverentlyseek His company. Rejoice in His gifts. Love Him. Quench Him not. Strive not against Him. Bow beneath His power, and may Hedwell in you and make you fit to dwell with Him forever, for His name's sake. Amen.