Sermon 2218. "Is the Spirit of the Lord Straitened?"
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, AUGUST 23, 1891,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 26, 1891.
"O you that are named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" Micah 2:7.
THERE may be some who think they can convert the world by philosophy; that they can renew the heart by eloquence; or that,by some witchcraft of ceremonies, they can regenerate the soul. But we depend wholly and simply and only on the Spirit ofGod! He, alone, works all our works in us and, in going forth to our holy service, we take with us no strength and we relyupon no power except that of the Spirit of the Most High. When Asher's foot was dipped in oil, no wonder he left a footprintwherever he went! But if his foot had not first been anointed, there would have been small trace of him and, unless we havethe unction of the Holy One, and are endued with power from on high, in vain shall we seek to preach good tidings to the meek,to bind up the broken-hearted, or to proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound!
We need the Holy Spirit to prepare us for our work. He first gives the desire to go forth to the field of service and onlyHe can equip us for the fight. "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord." Letus seek, then, to be charged with the Holy Spirit-to receive to the fullest the Divine influence-and go to our labor thusamply prepared. There is no preparation for the work of God like being with God! Go up into the solitude with Christ and then,when He calls you, you will be fit to go forth for Him and tell what you have seen with Him in the Holy Mount.
When we get at the work, our need remains. We long to see the people saved, but in order to that, they must be born againand this we cannot, ourselves, accomplish. Change a stone into flesh? Try that at home with a piece of stone on your tablebefore you attempt it with the hard hearts of men! Create a soul between the ribs of death? Try that in a morgue before youpretend to create within a sinner, dead in sin, the spiritual life! Of regeneration we may say, "This is the finger of God."If our religion is not supernatural, it is a delusion! If the Holy Spirit is not with you, you are like Jannes and Jambres,attempting to work a miracle without Jehovah's aid-and you will be baffled and detected for an impostor. You will fail, likethe seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, who tried to cast out devils. The devils do not know you-they know Jesus and they knowthe Holy Spirit-but at your idle efforts they mockingly laugh! Only those people who never do any spiritual work talk aboutwhat they can accomplish. When you get into the sacred service, you find how great your weakness is! You feel out of yourdepth when you come to deal with souls and you must have the Holy Spirit or fail!
We must not conclude that because so many good people give their time to God's work, that necessarily the work is done. No,there is nothing done unless the Holy Spirit does it. We never personally go a step towards Heaven and we never lead anotherone inch in the way apart from the Holy Spirit! We must have the Holy Spirit and if we have Him not, all our machinery willstand still, or if it goes on, it will produce no effect whatever. I heard of a Christian man whose mill wheel was noticedto be in motion on a certain Sunday. The people going to worship greatly wondered about it, but one who went by set theirminds at rest by pointing out that the wheel was only turning idly round because the water, by accident, was allowed to flowover it. And the man said, "It is very much like our minister and his sermons. There is no work being done, but the wheelgoes round-clickety click, clickety click-though it is not grinding anything." It also greatly resembles many an organizationfor spiritual service-the water is passing over it, glittering as it flows-but the
outside motion does not join on to any human need, nor produce any practical result-and nothing comes of the click and hum-
"Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all Your quickening powers," or else all our service for the Lord is in vain.
I. The text asks this question, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" As we try and dwell upon it a little while, we remark,first, that THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS NOT STRAITENED BY THE COMMANDS OF MEN, for in a previous verse we find that the peoplesaid to their Prophets, "Prophesy you not." When men spoke in the name of God, these people had grown so besotted, throughtheir evil doings, that they bade them hold their tongues! They did not want to hear any more about God. They had given Himup and they wished to have no more to do with Him! What was said by the Prophets was unpleasant. It provoked unhappy memories.It made them think of things that they would rather forget. So they said to the Prophets, "Prophesy you not."
And here comes the question of the text. These men speak under the impulse of the Spirit of God. What do you think? Is theSpirit of the Lord to be straitened, shut up, put down, silenced by the commands of men? They thought so! They thought thatthey had only to say to these men of God, "Be quiet. If you speak again, we will put you in prison, or we will banish you,or we will cut off your heads." By those means they thought to stifle the voice of the Spirit of God and make Him dumb intheir midst! The question comes, "Have you done it? Can you do it? Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?"
Beloved Friends, this can never be! The Spirit of God is not straitened, for any man in whom He dwells must speak. They maytell Him to be quiet and He may even, for a season, consent to be so. But one of old said, "His Word was in my heart as aburning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing"-and he was obliged to speak out. If a man has made a messageof his own, or if he has borrowed it from another, he may or may not speak it. But if God has given it to him to speak, speakit he must, and nothing can silence him! Throughout long ages men have felt moved of God to speak and they have had to speakin peril of their lives, but they have spoken all the same. When the light of the Reformation first came to England, thosewho received the Gospel were mostly very feeble folk. They felt the force of the movement and thought that it must have comefrom God, but they were not sure of their standing ground and the major part of them recanted when they were brought in presenceof the fire, or even laid in prison.
Some of the best of them, during the early days of Henry the Eighth, having but a slight hold of the Truth of God, drew back,and the enemy thought that they would all be of this kind. And so he hunted and persecuted them. But, after a very littletime, the very men who had been cowards when first they learned the Truth, were pricked in their conscience and they cameforward, saying that they found it to be more unbearable to live after having recanted than they could find it to die-andin the power of God they stood up boldly to declare Christ! There was little Bilney, of whom Latimer speaks so lovingly-aman grandly taught in many things, but at first a trembler. He thought that he might be mistaken and so he drew back. Butafterwards he gave himself up to die. And when opportunities were given to him to escape, he would not embrace them. He feltthat he must die for his Master!
And there was Frith, who, when they brought him through Croydon and he was desired by the Archbishop of Canterbury (I meanCranmer, who was in an almost similar spiritual state, himself, but then, by force of his position compelled to be a persecutor)to escape into the woods-the north wood or Norwood and elsewhere-made the notable reply, "The moment that you let me alone,I will go up to Lambeth myself. I am to die for Christ and if you make me fly away for a time, I will be back again, for Imust acknowledge my Master." The persecutors began to be surprised at this, but the reason was that the men grew surer ofthe Truth of God and, as they grew surer of it, they grew bolder to confess it-and confess it they must when once they feltthe power of it in their souls! God will not leave Himself without a witness, be you sure of this, and if there should comea time of trembling, when even the brave hearts seem staggered and begin to fail, there will again come a time of confidencewhen men will step out and say, "I was a coward once, but now, in the name of the Most High, I will avow His cause and standup for the faith once for all delivered to the saints." The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened by the commands of men. Hewill make His servants speak!
Know, again, that if some of these servants are put to death, or silenced, the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened, for Hewill raise up others. He is never at a loss. They burned Huss, whose name was Goose, but he said that God would raise
up a swan, a bigger bird than he! And that was Luther's motto, his coat-of-arms-and they could never roast the swan, thoughthey would have liked to have done so. Luther lived on, for God wanted such a witness as he and as long as God needed him,the hate of his enemies was vain! Thus it has been in all ages. Where did God find many of His first witnesses in the Reformation?In the places where you would have thought it least likely that there should have been any to bear testimony for Him-in themonasteries! He laid His hand on priests, monks and nuns-and He said to these, "Go and preach the Gospel of Christ" and theydid it, and did it faithfully, even to the death. They fell before their persecutors, the Romanists, like mowed grass in themonth of June-one swathe of martyrs, and then another, and then another- but though their enemies reaped on, they never reapedthat field clean, for by the time they had got to one end, it was all green grass, up to their ankles again, at the otherend!
God made men who could bear witness to His Word to grow faster than they could kill them! And so He will while the world stands.The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened. If the whole Church of God were to apostatize-and I should not be surprised if almostthe entire visible Church were to do so, seeing that it has, to a great extent, done so already- it would make no differencewhatever to the eternal purposes of God. Outside the professing church He would soon find His own people and soon build upfor Himself a truer and better Church that would not be as the past, but would hold fast by the Gospel of the Grace of Godwith the energy and simplicity of faith. Therefore, fear not, but answer this question with confidence and say, "The Spiritof the Lord is not straitened."
But if those who believe in God's name should die and if no more were raised up, the Spirit of our Lord would not, even then,be straitened-He could find other ways of reaching men's minds. He could still speak by the Bible. Give us an open Bible andwe shall never be in the dark. And He can speak by many a holy book that in the present evil age is despised. There are manygood books, like the saints of old, wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins-old Puritans, "destitute, afflicted, tormented,"that will yet bear witness for Christ! Just remember how Guthrie's, "Saving Testimony," long forgotten in Scotland, was foundby a shepherd lad, taken to a minister and read-and how there broke out, from the reading of that old book that had well-neargone out of date and notice-a blessed revival of evangelical religion!
And if all books were gone, the Spirit of God could act directly upon the hearts of men. He is not straitened! He can stillcall some Saul of Tarsus without a Bible and without a minister. And if the enemies of the Lord were so to conquer that thevery name of Christian should be forgotten-still the Spirit of God could begin again and, out of nothing, "create a new Heavenand a new earth wherein dwells righteousness." Despair? What have we who know the might of God to do with despair? What havewe to do, even, with doubt or fear? The Lord lives and His eternal Spirit will work His Divine purposes without fail.
II. Our second remark is equally emphatic. THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS NOT STRAITENED BY ANY CONCEIVABLE CAUSE-if not by thecommands of men, certainly not by any other cause.
The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened by any change in Himself The Holy Spirit, as very God of very God, might truly sayof Himself, "I am the Lord, I change not." He is today what He was at Pentecost, what He always was from that beginning whichhad no beginning. He is Divine, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, All-Wise, Infinite. He does as He wills. Therefore Heis not straitened. He is not straitened by the spirit of the age, whatever that may be. I have heard a good deal about itand I believe that "the spirit of the age" is Satan. That is short and not very sweet-but that is the only spirit of the agethat I know of. Ages have followed ages, but there has never been but one "Prince of the power of the air, the spirit thatnow works in the children of disobedience." He has appeared in different forms-the spirit of ignorance, the spirit of intolerance,the spirit of superstition, the spirit of envy, the spirit of infidelity, the spirit of speculation. All these work one andthe same spirit, dividing unto his disciples severally as he wills. And though the spirit of evil is mighty, he must fly beforethe Spirit of God, who is infinitely more powerful and who is not to be hindered, hampered or straitened by the spirit ofthe age!
Certainly the Spirit of God is not to be straitened by the discoveries of science. Last night, I think, they found out somethingvery new. They will probably be finding out something new tonight. With reference to my faith in Christ, it does not makethe slightest difference what is discovered, nor should any true revelation of science unsettle any preacher of the Gospel.The more that is known of God's works, the better! The more they are understood and rightly explained, the better! Let theFather's Words be magnified. But the Gospel that God's servants were bound to preach when our
forefathers were in the utmost ignorance, is the same Gospel that we are bound to preach now, amid the dazzling electric light.If we had gone into the catacombs of Rome, illuminated by a few flickering lamps, we should have had nothing to preach downthere but Jesus Christ and Him crucified!
And when we come together, now, in this enlightened 19th Century, we have still no other subject but Christ crucified, "theold, old story of Jesus and His love." Modern discoveries need not make us tremble, for that the Spirit of God is not straitenedby science is proved by the fact that the most scientific men have been subdued by His power. He is as able to convert thelearned as the unlearned. He has often done it and we have had those who have seemed to know all about the earth and the heavens,too, who yet were little children at the feet of Christ. Where the Spirit of God comes, He is not straitened in that way.
Neither is He straitened by the worldliness of the great masses in the midst of whom we live. As we look round about on thepeople, we are almost broken-hearted about them and seem to think the world was never so hard as it is now-and that men werenever so indifferent, never so wrapped up with worldly gain as they are now. Oh, yes they were! It is only another phase ofthe same evil. "The whole world lies in wickedness," just where it has always lain. There is the same sin, the same hardnessof heart, the same blindness, the same callousness-and the Word of God is as much able to work here in London as in old paganRome! It is as able to subdue our cities in England as it was to subdue Athens and Corinth and the other cities where Paulpreached it. Let us have confidence that nothing about the people today-their poverty, their love of drink, their search afterpleasure, their indifference, or anything else-has at all affected the power of the Holy Spirit over the minds of men!
And the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened, even, by the skill of His enemies. Certainly they are now skillful beyond anythingwe have ever read of! We have those who pretend to preach the Gospel but, all the while, they are trying to stab it. Theyappear to give it a kiss, but they smite it under the fifth rib. Many, nowadays, claim to be evangelical, when they know thatthe very essence of the evangelical system is abhorrent to them. But the Holy Spirit is not straitened today, any more thanwhen He met the sophistries of the Greek philosophers and overthrew them all! The simple Truth of God will win its way. Thefog may darken and become so thick that a man cannot see his hand, but the Holy Spirit knows the road and He can see throughthe darkest midnight that the Church of God will ever have to endure! And He will bring out the righteousness and Truth ofthe Gospel as the light-and the glory thereof as a lamp that burns. He is not straitened by the skill of His enemies.
I do not know how to express all that I feel about this, but this I do know-that I cannot imagine anything that can reallydiminish the power of the Holy Spirit. If He is Divine, He is Omnipotent and, if Omnipotent, nothing can lay hands on Himto bind Him as the Philistines bound Samson. He would burst their bands asunder! He is the free Spirit of God and no powercan hold Him-
"When He makes bare His arm, What shall His work withstand?" III. But now I come to a very practical part of my subject, whichis this-THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD MUST
NOT BE TREATED BY US AS THOUGH HE WERE STRAITENED. How can we do this? In many ways. I mention
If we act towards Him as if His holy Word would not, now, convert and sanctify, comfort and conquer, as it used to do, weare, in this, in a horrible position of practical unbelief! His holy Book, in days gone by, did great wonders. It was likeGoliath's sword, of which David said, "There is none like that; give it to me." It was double-edged and even he that playedwith it might wound himself to spiritual death. Many have wrested the Word to their own destruction. "But surely the Wordhas not, now, the same power?" Try it! Give the Bible to the wicked, to the careless and the thoughtless. Read it to them.Induce them to read it and see if it does not still convert! When you are in great trouble, turn to the Book and pray theHoly Spirit to bless it, and see if it does not comfort you! In your darkest hour you shall find light in it! When you areready to give up in despair, you shall be strengthened and return to your labor with hope, if you do but search it and believeits message. It is full of consolation.
Never think that the Spirit cannot bless the Word to you, as He used to do. He is not straitened. When you hear and do notprofit, it is your hearing that is wrong, not His power that has failed. When you read the Bible and have not that enjoymentyou once had, be sure that it is your own fault. The meat is as rich-you have lost your appetite. The Spirit of
God is not straitened! There is as much Inspiration in this Book as when it was first penned. It is still Inspired and hethat reads it aright still feels its inspiring influence, as God comes into his heart through His own Word. The Spirit ofGod in the Book and through the Book, is not straitened. Let us keep to it. Let us preach it more and more. Let us take carethat our sermons are made out of the Bible, not out of our own heads! Then, speaking God's Word, we shall see that the Spiritof God is not straitened.
We behave as if the Spirit of God were straitened, in the next place, if we conceive the present state of things to be hopeless.If you are ready to fold your arms and say that nothing can be done, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? The church to whichyou belong may be cold and dead and the ministry powerless, but is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Your own works seemto have no good results following from them and though you plod on, the service has become almost a monotony to you. But isthe Spirit of the Lord straitened? Perhaps I address some man, so far ungodly that he has no hope of salvation, yet stillis anxious to be saved. Perhaps he says, "How can I ever become a Christian? How can I have a new heart and a right spirit?"Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Cannot He give you the tenderness you desire? Cannot He give you the desire that seemsto be lacking? Cannot He give you faith in Christ at this very moment? Cannot He breathe into you, right now, that breathof spiritual life that shall make you a living soul, looking up to the Cross and finding life in the Crucified?
I pray, dear Friend, if you are under a horrible sense of sin-if you think yourself the worst wretch that ever poisoned theair and if you feel unfit to live as well as unfit to die-yet believe that the Holy Spirit can renew you and can turn thesinner into a saint and make you to glorify God even now, this instant! If not, you limit the power of the Holy Spirit andI come to you with this question, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" The case is desperate if it were not for the Divinehand. It is beyond all hope if there were no God. There is no balm in Gilead-there is no physician there-if there had been,the health of the daughter of my people would long ago have been recovered. Where, then, is the balm? Look upward for it!Where is the physician? Look upward for Him! There is the Christ of God, "mighty to save," and there is the living FatherHimself, and there is the almighty Spirit! Oh, that you would no longer be filled with suspicions as to the power of God!With God all things are possible. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Is the Lord's arm waxed short? Trust that He can doall things and do all things for you whether you are a saint or a sinner! I shall have to come again to you with the question,"Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?"
Do you not think, again, that we very much act as if the Spirit of the Lord were straitened when we only look for little blessings?I am very glad to see 300 to 400 persons in a year converted and added to this Church and this has long been the case. Butif I ever imbibed the idea that this were all that might be done, I would be straitening the Spirit of God! If you have hada number of conversions in the Sunday school-and I thank God that you have and you have never been without them-yet if youconceive that you have reached the maximum of success, I must come to you with this question, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?"Dear Friends, there is no reason that I know of why the sermon that brings one sinner into the Light of God, should not bringa thousand into the Light, supposing a thousand sinners to be hearing it! The same power which saves one is precisely thatpower that would save a thousand-
"The very Law which molds a tear,
And bids it trickle from its source-
That power preserves the earth a sphere
And guides the planets in their course." The same Law, the same Power operates to little and to gigantic ends. Oh, for a mightybelief in that God who "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worksin us"-and that Power is the Holy Spirit who cannot be straitened!
Why, then, should we not come up to the House of God with the prayer, "O Lord, work mighty marvels"? Is He not the God thatdoes great wonders? Should we not expect Him to do large things? I know some will say, "Well, if I were to see a great manyconverted, I would be afraid that they would, many of them, go back." But my experience tells me that there is no reason tobelieve that when many are converted there are more mistaken persons in the number, in proportion, than when few are converted.In fact, I think that I have noticed that the more that are received into the Church, the better is the quality. And the reasonis this-that, when few are coming, there is a strong temptation to accept them with less discretion. But, when there are agreat many, we can afford to be somewhat more rigid so that the more the merrier, and the more the sounder! I think that itis often the case. Let us believe that the Spirit of God can save a parish, can save
a city, can shake London from end to end! Oh, that God would enlarge the capacity of our faith! "According to your faith beit unto you." But we have not more than sixpenny-worth of faith and when we get as much as that represents, we think thatwe are getting rich! And yet there are mines of untold wealth of the Grace of God to be had. Oh, that we had the faith withwhich to take possession of them!
Again, dear Friends, do you not think that we also treat the Spirit of God as though He were straitened when we imagine thatour weakness hinders His working by us? "Oh," says one, "I have no doubt that God can bless a great many by you!" Well, dearFiend, if you knew what I am often obliged to feel of myself, you would never talk so. I am the weakest of you all, in myown apprehension. Another says, "I know that I am inferior in ability, in knowledge, in opportunity." Just so, dear Friend,and, therefore, you suppose that the Spirit of God cannot use you? Do you not see that though you think such a confessionis an evidence of humility, you are straitening the Spirit of God? However weak and feeble you may be, He can use you! Ifyou think that He cannot, you deprive Him of power in your apprehension. It is not yourself, you see, that you are lowering,you are really lowering the power of God! He can use a person who is very insignificant, very obscure, very unlearned, veryfeeble. No, He delights to do this, and He makes even those that are strong feel weak before He uses them, so that they say,"When I am weak, then am I strong." He will use empty vessels and if you do not need emptying because you are already empty,then that is one little thing that needs not be done and God can begin with you at once! There is nothing in you-nothing!Now, if God will use you, He will manifestly have all the Glory. Believe that He can use you-and get to work and do something!Proclaim His Gospel! Tell it over and over again. Tell it where you have told it, or where you have never told it, and believethat God can use you-AND HE WILL! Otherwise, if you say, "He cannot use me," I shall put the question to you again, "Is theSpirit of the Lord straitened?"
But I hear another say, "I think, dear Sir, you do not know where I live. If you did, you would not think there could be anyvery great blessing." Where do you live? In No-Man's-Ground? At the other end of the world? At Land's End, just over the edgeof the universe? Here is a word for the little places, little Churches, hamlets with scanty population, where only a few peoplecome together for worship. Do not believe that the Spirit of the Lord is narrowed by the small-ness of the place. Some ofthe greatest works for Christ have begun in hamlets and in small villages. The fire has commenced to burn there which hasafterwards become a mighty conflagration, like the flames which are driven in terrible grandeur across the forests of America.It matters not how few begin, but where two or three are met together in Christ's name there He is! And if He is there, Hewill soon, by means of that little company, be somewhere else, and He will make the fire to fly abroad to the utmost endsof the earth! If you have only two or three souls committed to your charge, you have quite as many as you will give good accountof. Do not hunger for big congregations-hunger to save those you have! If the Lord will but bless you to the Sunday schoolclass, or to the two or three children in your own family, you cannot tell what good will come of it, for the Spirit of theLord is not straitened by the scantiness of the population!
A great many persons are guilty of thinking the Spirit of God to be straitened when they fancy that He must always work inone way. When I am seeing persons who come forward to confess their faith, I find they often begin by telling me how theywere brought low under a sense of sin-and I like that old-fashioned way of conversion. But when I find one beginning by saying,"The Lord met me and filled my heart with joy and gladness under a sense of pardon, almost before I had any sense of sin,and the sense of sin followed after," I say to myself, "Let the Lord do His work in His own way." I am not going to make apattern and lay them all on it and say that they must all be just that length, or else be stretched out a bit, or be cut shorter.No! Let the Lord save His own people in His own way! And if one is made to go down to the dark dungeon of law-work and getswhipped till he has not a bit of whole skin in his soul, I hope that it will do him good. But if another is gently led toChrist and does not know that there is a rod, but through love and kindness is led to rejoice in his Savior, I trust thathe will remember it, and be glad all his days. Conversions are not run into molds. You cannot get a gross of conversions likea gross of steel pens. Each living child is different from any other living child. A great painter never paints exactly thesame picture twice. There is always a difference, somewhere, be it ever so slight. And when there is a work for eternity donein a Church, it is done in very varied ways. If we begin to tie the Lord down to one way of work, we shall make a great mistake.
"Oh," says one, "we meet together, a number of us, and anybody speaks who likes-and that is God's way of working. I do notbelieve in a one-man ministry." But we are in great danger of grieving the Spirit of God if we think that He
only works with one set of men, with one order of government, or with only those who have none. Another man, who goes to hearone particular individual, says, "I am profited by Mr. So-and-So's preaching and do not get so much good under anybody else.I do not like that other open way of worship." Brethren, let them worship as they like! God blesses a one-man ministry andGod blesses a twenty-man ministry. If the ministry is in the power of His Spirit, let it take what shape it likes. God isnot bound by our rules and regulations-if you see God at work, bless His name that He is there and let Him work as He wills.You must not think that God works only on one set of lines. "Oh," says one, "I always get a blessing from So-and-So." Yes,you expect it, and you pray God to send it. "But I do not expect a blessing from such-and-such a man. He has such a curiousway of going to work." Very likely. God has some very strange servants and, may I add, He has some very strange children!
We have strange families, ourselves, sometimes. Some parents have very old boys and a number of God's sons and daughters arethe oddest children that ever were born. Yet He bears with them and surely we may bear with them, too. Some of the most usefulpeople one has ever known have also been very eccentric and have gone their own way to work. If you do not like their way,do not go with them-go your own way. They will not like your way, but they must not blame you, neither must you despise them.As the Lord directs you and as you find the Word of God guides you, set to work for Him and believe that the Spirit of theLord is not straitened! God blessed William Huntington, the coal-heaver, to many souls, though he preached a very strong Calvinism,while, at the same time, He was blessing some who preached a very weak Arminianism-but God blesses neither the Calvinism northe Arminianism-but the Christ that is in the sermon! The true, eternal, evangelical Truth of God that is brought out, GodHimself will bless to the souls of men! Let us not, therefore, speak of the Holy Spirit as tied to any set of men. "Is theSpirit of the Lord straitened?"
Once more-we act as if we did not believe in this Divine Truth concerning the Spirit of God when we think that some men arebeyond His reach. Let us never imagine that those who have been sitting under the sound of the Word for years are so Gospel-hardenedas to be past hope-or those who have gone deep into sin are too deeply-dyed ever to be cleansed-or those who have wanderedfrom the fold are too far away ever to be recalled! Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened, that we should despair of any whomGod has permitted to remain on this side of His judgement bar? Have faith for the worst of men and the worst of women, too-greatsinners, when saved, bring great Glory to that God whose Spirit leads them to the Truth.
And again, we may treat the Spirit of God as straitened if we cannot believe that He can bless us today. "I feel so gloomy,"you say. "I hope that I shall be better tomorrow." Brother, why should you not be converted at this good hour? "Oh," sayssome sister, "I mean to serve the Lord when I got a little older." Do you? Well, you are a little older since I began to speakto you, and I think that your best time to begin is now. Believe in God's nows. Believe that any moment is a good moment withGod. "This day is a day of good tidings." Why should not I, at this moment, dedicate myself afresh to God? Why should I notcome to Christ, again, and ask Him to give me more life, more faith, more hope, more joy, more likeness to Himself now? "Isthe Spirit of the Lord straitened?"
IV. On the fourth and last point, our words must be few, though the Truth of God affords much scope for instruction. THE SPIRITOF THE LORD WILL PROVE THAT HE IS NOT STRAITENED and at the last all men shall acknowledge His power, whether they have bowedto it or not! He will be magnified in those who are saved and in those who are lost.
He will exact punishment for resistance. Those who now despise the messages which are sent to them will, at last, be leftto their own devices. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man," says the Eternal God. And continual rejection will, atlast, end in the total withdrawal of His Presence and the eternal ruin of all who have resisted Him.
But notwithstanding the rejection of men, He will fulfill the Divine Decree. Man's obstinacy shall not frustrate the purposeof God and the things which He has predestinated shall surely come to pass. In this shall be clear evidence that the Spiritof the Lord was not straitened. Not one of God's chosen shall be suffered to continue in the way to ruin-they shall all beeffectually called and enabled to embrace Christ as He is freely preached to them in the Gospel!
Thus, the third proof will be given, in that He will glorify Christ and prepare a people to welcome His Advent. The Gospelshall be preached among all nations and out of every tribe and people witnesses shall be gathered to await the glorious appearingof the victorious Christ which cannot be long delayed. Then it shall be seen how grandly the Spirit of
the Lord has perfected both the number and the character of the Church, which, like a chaste virgin, shall be presented tothe Lamb as the reward of His agony and intercession!
You that are not converted, but are longing to be, what are you waiting for, seeing that the Spirit of the Lord is thus alwaysready to work and will never be more able at another time than He is now? The great point with many is to precipitate decision,to bring them across the border. You are almost over it! You have often been so. You are almost persuaded. O Spirit of God,make them believe in Jesus now! May they turn their eyes to Him who hung upon the Cross and look, now, and live! What reasonshould there be why tomorrow should be better for repenting than today? In what way can 1892 be better than 1891? I am ata loss to think, but I can easily find a great many reasons why delays are dangerous, why delays are expensive, why delayswill end in rejections! May God the Holy Spirit come and turn you to God now, lest, at last, you should share in that awfuljudicial blindness which falls on those who spurn His entreaties-lest the Gospel should be hid from you because you are lost-leststanding in the way of God's purpose, you should be cut down as a cumberer of the ground! Lest, at last, you should miss beingnumbered with that glorious throng who are now being called away from their idols to serve the living God and to wait forHis Son from Heaven!
Has He not said, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out"? When may they come? Whenever they come He will not castthem out! What sort of people will He receive? "Him that comes"-any, "him," that comes, no matter who he or she is! How dothey come? They must just trust-trust Jesus! May the Holy Spirit enable you to trust Him now! The Lord bless you, for Hisname's sake! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Micah 4.