Sermon 2246. Come From the Four Winds, O Breath!
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MARCH 6, 1892.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 15, 1890.
"He said to me, Prophesy unto the wind, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus says the Lord God; Come from the four winds,O Breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." Ezekiel 37:9.
ACCORDING to some commentators, this vision in the valley of dry bones may refer to three forms of resurrection. Holy Scriptureis so marvelously full of meaning that one interpretation seldom exhausts its message to us. The chapter before us is an excellentexample of this fact and supplies an illustration of several Scriptural Truths of God.
Some think they see, here, a parable of the resurrection of the dead. Assuredly, Ezekiel's vision pictures what will happenin the day when "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised." No matter how dry the bones may be, the bodies ofthose who sleep in the dust of the earth shall rise again. That which was sown shall spring up from the grave and, in thecase of the children of God, it shall wear a new glory. At the Word of Christ it shall come to pass-"For the hour is coming,in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrectionof life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation."
Others see here the resurrection of the almost destroyed host of Israel which had been divided into two companies and carriedaway captive into Babylon. Plague and pestilence and the sword of the Chaldean had gone far to cut off the chosen nation,but God promised to restore His people, thus mingling mercy with judgment, and again setting in the cloud the bow of His EverlastingCovenant. A partial fulfillment of this promise was given when, for a while, the Lord set up, again, the tribes of Israelat Jerusalem and they had a happy rest before the coming of Christ. But Israel's full restoration is yet to be accomplished.The people shall be gathered out of the graves in which, as a nation, they have so long lain buried, and shall be placed intheir own land-and then will come to pass the Word of Jehovah-"Then shall you know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performedit, says the Lord."
There are others, who, looking beyond the literal for the spiritual teaching, see, and I think, rightly see, that here isa picture of the recovery of ungodly men from their spiritual death and corruption-a parable of the way in which sinners arebrought up from their hopeless, spiritually dead condition and made to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. I shall, at anyrate, use the text in this sense, for I am not now aiming at the interpretation of prophesy, nor concerned greatly with whatis to happen in the future. Neither do I wish to conduct you into the deep things of God, but I am just now thinking of practicaluses to which I can put this incident in order to stir up God's people to deal with the Holy Spirit as He should be dealtwith, and to urge the unconverted to seek the Lord in the hope that some of them, as dead and dry as the bones in the Valleyof Vision, may be made to live by His Divine Power.
Nothing gave me greater comfort, this week, than when I received a note from one saying that, last Thursday night, while Iwas preaching from the text, "Let your soul delight itself in fatness," she was enabled to lay hold on Christ. I had ratherhave such tidings than to hear the most glad news of a worldly kind that could be brought to me! Oh, that now, also, somepoor heart may find rest in Christ while we are talking of that Divine Spirit who becomes a Comforter to all those to whomHe has been first a Quickener! May He come and cause men to live and then, afterwards, make them full of gladness! It is Hisblessed office first, to bestow life, and then to give light. Living unto God is the earliest experience of the redeemed-afterwardscomes joy in God by the Holy Spirit.
I. Now, first, in using this text, as I have said, for practical purposes, I am going to make this remark upon it-WE ARE NOTHINGWITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT. I now speak, my Brothers, to you who love the souls of men. I know that there are some among youwho preach and teach with all earnestness, with broken-hearted love and, for the glory of Christ, you try to bring men tobelieve in Jesus. In thus endeavoring to save the souls of the lost and ruined men, you are engaged in a noble work. But Idare say that you have often felt what I, also, fully realize, that you have not gone far in your holy service before youare brought face to face with the fact that, in itself, the work you propose to do is an utter impossibility!
We begin our labor according to the Word of the Lord and we prophesy. God helping us, we can do that and, though the burdenof the Lord is heavy, yet if we are told to prophesy again, we can, by His Grace, do that, also. We can prophesy to dry bones,or prophesy to the wind according to God's commandment. We are not afraid of seeming to be foolish since we know that when"the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." But when wepreach the Word and, as the result of our preaching expect men to be saved-and so saved that we may know it-we come, all ofa sudden, upon an iron-bound coast and can get no further. We find that men are dead-what is needed is that they should bequickened-and we cannot quicken them! There are a great many things we can do-and God forbid that we should leave one of themundone! But when we come to the creation of life, we have reached a mysterious region into which we cannot penetrate-we haveentered the realm of miracles where Jehovah reigns supreme!
The prerogative to give life or to take it away must remain with the Most High. The wit and wisdom of man are altogether powerlessto bestow life upon even the tiniest insect! We know for sure,, doctrinally, and we know it with equal certainty by experience,that we can do nothing towards the quickening of men apart from the Spirit of God. If He does not come and give life, we maypreach till we have not another breath left, but we shall not raise from the tomb of sin even the soul of a little child,or bring a single sinner to the feet of Christ!
How, then, should this fact affect us? Because of our powerlessness, shall we sit still, doing nothing and caring nothing?Shall we say, "The Spirit of God must do the work, therefore I may fold my arms and take things easy"? Beloved, we cannotdo that! Our heart's desire and prayer for our fellow men is that they might be saved and we have sometimes felt that fortheir sakes, we could almost be willing to be accursed, if we might bring eternal life to them! We cannot sit still! We donot believe that it was God's intent that any Truth of God should ever lead us into sloth-at any rate, it has not so led us,by His Grace-it has carried us in quite the opposite direction!
Let us try to be as practical in this matter as we are in material things. We cannot rule the winds, nor create them. A wholeparliament of philosophers could not cause a capful of wind to blow. The sailor knows that he can neither stop the tempestnor raise it. What then? Does he sit still? By no means! He has all kinds of sails of different cuts and forms to enable himto use every ounce of wind that comes-and he knows how to reef or furl them in case the tempest becomes too strong for hisboat. Though he cannot control the movement of the wind, he can use what it pleases God to send. The miller cannot divertthat great stream of water out of its channel, but he knows how to utilize it-he makes it turn his mill-wheel. Though he cannotresist the law of gravitation, for there seems to be an almost omnipotent force in it, yet he uses that law and yokes it tohis chariot! Thus, though we cannot command that mighty influence which streams from the Omnipotent Spirit of God; thoughwe cannot turn it which way we will, for, "the wind blows where it wishes," yet we can make use of it and, in our inabilityto save men, we turn to God and lay hold of His power.
What, then, are we to do? Face to face with spiritual death. Conscious of the fact that we cannot remove it. And fully awarethat only the Holy Spirit can quicken dead souls, what shall we do? There are certain ways and means by which we can act properlytowards this Divine Person-certain attitudes of heart which it would be well for us to take up-and certain results which willfollow from a clear apprehension of the true state of the case.
First, by this fact, we must feel deeply humbled, emptied and cut adrift from self. Look, Sir, you may study your sermon.You may examine the original of your text. You may critically follow it out in all its bearings. You may go and preach itwith great correctness of expression, but you cannot quicken a soul by that sermon! You may go up into your pulpit. You mayillustrate, explain and enforce the Truth of God with mighty rhetoric. You may charm your hearers- you may hold them spellbound-butno eloquence of yours can raise the dead! Demosthenes might stand for a century between the jaws of death, but the monsterwould not be moved by anything he or all human orators might say!
Another voice than ours must be heard! Another power than that of thought or persuasion must be brought into the work or itwill not be done! You may organize your societies; you may have excellent methods; you may diligently pursue this course andthat, but when you have done it all, nothing comes of it if the effort stands by itself! Only as the Spirit of God shall blessmen by you, shall they receive a blessing through you! Whatever your ability or experience, it is the Spirit of God who mustbless your labor. Therefore, never go to a service with a boast upon your lips of what you can do, or with the slightest traceof self-confidence-or else you will go in a spirit which will prevent the Holy Spirit from working with or through you.
O Brothers and Sisters, think nothing of us who preach to you! If ever you do, our power will be gone. If you begin to supposethat such and such a minister, having been blessed of God to so many thousands will necessarily be the means of the conversionof your friend, you are imputing to a son of man what belongs only to the Son of God! And you will assuredly do that pastoror that minister a serious mischief by tolerating in your heart so idolatrous a thought! We are nothing! You are nothing."Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts," is a message that should make us lie in the dust andutterly despair of doing anything in and of ourselves, seeing that all the power is of God, alone! It will do us good to bevery empty, to be very weak, to be very distrustful of self-and so to go about out Master's work.
Next, because of our absolute need of the Holy Spirit, we must give ourselves to prayer before our work and after our work.A man who believes that, do what he may, no soul will be quickened apart from the work of the Spirit of God-a man who hasa longing desire that he may save souls will not venture to his pulpit without prayer! He will not deliver his message withouta thousand groans and cries to God for help in every sentence that he utters. And when the sermon is done, his work will notbe done-it will have scarcely begun-his sermons will be but a text for long-continued prayer! He will be crying to God continuallyto anoint him with the heavenly oil. His prayer will be, "Let the Spirit of God be upon me, that I may preach deliveranceto the captives; otherwise men will still remain in the prison house in spite of all my
And you, Beloved, as you believe that doctrine, will not allow the preacher to go to his work without your prayers! You willbear him up in your supplications, feeling that your attendances at the House of God will all be vanity, and the coming togetherof the people will be as nothing unless God, the Holy Spirit, is pleased to bless the Word! This thought will drive you tobesiege the Throne of Grace with strong crying and tears that God would quicken the dead sons of men. If any of you are workingwithout prayer, I will not advise you to cease your work, but I will urge you to begin to pray, not merely as a matter ofform, but as the very life of your labors! Let the habit of prayer be constant with you, so that you neither begin any servicefor God, nor carry it on, nor conclude it without crying to the Lord for His Holy Spirit to make the work effectual by Hisalmighty power!
We have already gathered much instruction from this Truth of God if we have learned to lie low before the Lord and beforethe Mercy Seat. But we must go a little further. Since everything depends upon the Spirit of God, we must be very carefulto be such men as the Spirit of God can use. We may not judge others, but have you not met with men whom you could not thinkthe Spirit of God would be likely to bless? If a man is self-sufficient, can the Spirit of God, to any large degree, blesshim? If a man is inconsistent in his daily life; if there is no earnestness about him; if you cannot tell when he is in characteror creed; if he contradicts one day what he said the day before; if he is vain-glorious and boastful, is it likely that theSpirit of God will bless him?
If any of us should become lazy, indolent, or self-indulgent, we cannot expect the Spirit, whose one aim is to glorify Christ,to work with us! If we should become proud, domineering, hectoring, how could the gentle Dove abide with us? If we shouldbecome despondent, having little or no faith in what we preach and not expecting the power of the Holy Spirit to be with us,is it likely that God will bless us? Believe me, dear Friends, that a vessel fit for the Master's use must be very clean.It need not be of silver or of gold-it may be but a common earthen vessel, but it must be very clean-for our God is a jealousGod. He can spy a fingerprint where our eyes could not see it, even with a microscope-and He will not drink out of a vesselwhich a moment before was at the lips of Satan! He will not use us if we have been used by self, or if we have allowed ourselvesto be used by the world. Oh, how clean should we be in our private life as well as in our ordinary walk and conversation!This is no small thing. See to it, my Brothers and Sisters, for much of the promised blessing may depend upon your carefulness.
Next, since we depend wholly upon the Spirit, we must be most anxious to use the Word of God and to keep close to the Truthof God in all our work for Christ among men. The Word of God is the Holy Spirit's sword-he will not wield our wooden weapons.He will only use this true Jerusalem blade of God's own fashioning. Let us, then, set high value on the Inspired Word. Weshall defeat our adversaries by that sword-thrust, "It is written." So spoke the Christ; and so He conquered Satan. So alsothe Holy Spirit speaks. Be wise, therefore, and let your reliance be not on your own wisdom, but on the Word to which youcan add, "Thus says the Lord." If our preaching is of that kind, the Holy Spirit will always set His seal to it. But if youhave thought it out and it is your own production, go, good Sir, to Her Majesty's offices, and get patent letters for yourinvention-the Holy Spirit will have nothing to do with it! He cares nothing about your "original mind." Our Lord Jesus laidaside all originality and spoke only the Words of His Father-the Words which the Holy Spirit brought to Him!
He said to His disciples, in that memorable discourse, before He went out to Gethsemane, "The Word which you hear is not Mine,but the Father's which sent Me." Let us try to imitate Him, being willing not to think our own thoughts, or to speak our ownwords, but those which God shall give us! I would rather speak five words out of this Book than 50,000 words of the philosophers!I had rather be a fool with God than be a wise man with the most sage scientist, for, "the foolishness of God is wiser thanmen; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." You cannot work for Christ except by the Spirit of Christ, and you cannotteach for Christ except you teach Christ! Your work will have no blessing upon it, unless it is God's Word spoken throughyour lips to the sons of men! If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God. If we want conversions,we must put more of God's Word into our sermons-even if we paraphrase it into our own words, it must still be His Word uponwhich we place our reliance-for the only power which will bless men lies in that. It is God's Word that saves souls, not ourcomment upon it, however correct that comment may be! Let us, then, be scrupulously careful to honor the Holy Spirit by takingthe weapon which He has prepared for us, believing in the full Inspiration of the sacred Scriptures and expecting that Godwill prove their Inspiration by their effect upon the minds and hearts of men.
Again, since we are nothing without the Holy Spirit, we must avoid in our work anything that us not of Him. We want thesedead people raised, but we cannot raise them-only the Spirit of God can do that. Now, in our part of the work, for which Godcondescendingly uses us, let us take care that there is nothing which would grieve the Spirit, or cause Him to go away fromus. I believe that in places where the work of conversion goes on in great numbers, God is much more jealous than He is anywhereelse. He watches His Church and if He sees, in the officers of the Church, or in the workers, something unholy. If He beholdspractices tolerated that are not according to His pure mind and if, when they are noticed, these evils are winked at and stillfurther indulged, He will withdraw His blessing until we cease to have a controversy with Him! Possibly He might give Hisblessing to a Church which was worse than this in many respects, while He might withdraw it from this Church, which has alreadybeen so highly favored, if it countenanced anything contrary to
An ordinary subject of Her Majesty might say certain things about her for which he would never be brought to book. But a favoriteat court must mind how he behaves. So must we be very sensitive in this Divine employment in which we come nearest to Christ-wemust be careful to co-operate with Him in our work of seeking to pluck brands from the burning. We must mind how we do it,for we may, perhaps, be led to adopt ways and methods which may grieve Him. And if we persevere in those ways and methods,after we have learned that they are not according to His will, the Spirit of God will leave us, lest He should seem to besetting His seal upon that of which He does not approve! A headlong zeal, even for Christ, may leap into a ditch! What wethink to be very wise may be very unwise-and where we deem that even a little "policy" may come in, that little policy maytaint the whole and make a nauseous stench which God will not endure! You must have the Spirit of God! You can do nothingwithout Him! Therefore do nothing that would cause Him to depart from you.
Moreover, we must be always ready to obey the Holy Spirit's gentlest monitions by which I mean the monitions which are inGod's Word and, also-but putting this in the second place-such inward whispers as He accords to those who dwell near to Him.I believe that the Holy Spirit does still speak to His chosen in a very remarkable way. Men of the world might ridicule thisTruth of God and, therefore, we speak little of it, but the child of God knows that there are, at times, distinct movementsof the Holy Spirit upon his mind leading him in such and such ways. Be very tender of these
touches of God! Some people do not feel these movements, but perhaps if they, with a more perfect heart, feared the Lord,His secret might be revealed to them. That great ship at sea will not be moved by a ripple-even an ordinary wave will notstir it-it is big and heavy. But that cork, out yonder, goes up and down with every ripple of the water! Should a great wavecome, it will be raised to the crest of it and carried wherever the current compels. Let your spirit be little before Godand easily moved-so that you may recognize every impulse of the Spirit-and obey it at once, whatever it may be.
When the Holy Spirit moves you to give up such and such a thing, yield to it instantly, lest you lose His Presence! When Heimpels you to fulfill such and such a duty, be not disobedient to the heavenly vision. Or if He suggests to you to praiseGod for such and such a favor, give yourself to thanksgiving. Yield yourself wholly to His guidance. You who are workers,ask for the wisdom of the Spirit carefully and believingly. I do not understand a man going into the pulpit and praying theSpirit of God to guide him in what he shall say-and then pulling it out of his pocket in manuscript. It looks to me as ifhe shut the Spirit of God out of any special operation! At least all the help he can expect to have from the Spirit at thatparticular time must be in the manner of his reading, though, of course, he may have been guided in what he has written. Still,there is but scant room for the Spirit to manifest His power!
In the same way, if you make up your mind how you will deal with people and what you will say, it may often happen that, inthe process, if you forget all you meant to say, it would be the best thing that could happen to you! And if you said exactlywhat you did not think it would be prudent to say, the unaccustomed method might be the thing the Spirit of God would bless.Keep yourself, therefore, before that valley of dry bones, free to do just what the Spirit of God would have you do, thatHe, through you, may raise the dead!
Once more-since, apart from the Spirit, we are powerless, we must value greatly every movement of His Power. Notice, in thisaccount of the vision in the valley, how the Prophet draws attention to the fact of the shaking and the noises, and the comingof the sinews and the flesh even before there was any sign of life! I think that, if we want the Spirit of God to bless us,we must be on the watch to notice everything He does. Look out for the first desire, the first fear! Be glad of anything happeningto your people that looks as if it were the work of the Holy Spirit and, if you value Him in His earlier works, He is likelyto go on and to do more and more, till, at last, He will give the breath-and the slain host shall arise and become an armyfor God! You cannot expect the Spirit of God to come and work by you if you are half asleep. You cannot expect the Spiritof God to put forth His power if you are in such a condition that if He saved half your congregation, you would not know it-andif He saved nobody, you would not fret about it! God will not bless you when you are not awake! The Spirit of God does notwork by sleepy men! He loves to have us alive, ourselves, and then He will make others alive by us. See to this, dear Brothers.If we had more time at our disposal, I would speak longer on this part of the subject, but I have said enough, now, if Godthe Holy Spirit blesses it, upon this first great Truth that we are nothing without the Holy Spirit.
II. Now, secondly, we may learn, from the action of Ezekiel on this occasion, that WE MAY SO ACT AS TO HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.When he first saw the dry bones, there was no wind nor Breath, yet, obeying the voice of the Lord in the vision, the Breathcame and life followed. How, then, shall we act? I will only give you in brief a few of the conditions to be observed by us.
If we want the Holy Spirit to be surely with us, to give us a blessing, we must, in the power of the Spirit, realize the scenein which we are to labor. In this case, the Holy Spirit took the Prophet, carried him out and set him down in the midst ofthe valley which was full of bones. This is just a type of what will happen to every man whom the Spirit means to use! Doyou want to save people in the slums? Then, you must go to the slums! Do you want to save sinners broken down under a senseof sin? You must be broken down! At least you must get near to them in their brokenness of heart and be able to sympathizewith them. I believe that no man will command power over a people whom he does not understand. If you have never been to acertain place, you do not know the road-but if you have been there, yourself, and you come upon a person who has lost hisway-you are the man to direct him.
When you have been through the same perplexities that trouble others, you can say to them, "I have been there myself. I knowall about it. By God's blessing, I can conduct you out of this maze." Dear Friend, we must have greater sympathy with sinners!You cannot pluck the brand out of the burning if you are afraid of being singed! You must be willing to dirty your fingerson the bars of the grate if you would do it. If there is a diamond dropped into a ditch, you must
thrust your arm up to your elbow in the mud, or else you cannot expect to pick the jewel out of the mire. The Holy Spirit,when He blesses a man, sets him down in the midst of the valley full of bones and causes him to pass by them round about untilhe fully comprehends the greatness and the difficulty of the work to be accomplished, even as the Prophet said, "Behold, therewere very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry."
Next, if the Holy Spirit is to be with us, we must speak in the power offaith. If Ezekiel had not had faith, he certainlywould not have preached to dry bones-they make a wretched congregation! And he certainly would not have preached to the wind,for it must have been a fickle listener! Who but a fool would behave in this manner unless faith entered into action? If preachingis not a supernatural exercise, it is a useless procedure! God the Holy Spirit must be with us, or else we might as well goand stand on the tops of the hills of Scotland and shout to the east wind! There is nothing in all our eloquence unless webelieve in the Holy Spirit making use of the Truth of God which we preach for the quickening of the souls of men. Our preachingmust be an act of faith! We must preach by faith as much as Noah built the ark by faith and, just as the walls of Jerichowere brought down by faith-men's hearts are to be broken by faithful preaching, that is, preaching full of faith!
In addition to this, if we desire to have the Spirit of God with us, we must prophesy according to God's command. By prophesying,I do not mean foretelling future events, but simply uttering the message which we have received from the Lord, proclaimingit aloud so that all may hear. You will notice how it is twice said, in almost the same words, "So I prophesied as He commandedme." God will bless the prophesying that He commands, but not any other. So we must keep clear of that which is contrary toHis Word and speak the Truth that He gives us to declare. As Jonah, the second time he was told to go to Nineveh, was toldby the Lord to "preach unto it the preaching that I bid you," so must we do if we would have our word believed even as hiswas. Our message is received when it is the Word of God through us! When the Lord describes the blessing that comes upon theearth by the rain and snow from Heaven, he says, "So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth." Let us see to it thatbefore a word goes forth out of our mouth, we have received it from the mouth of God. Then we may hope and expect that thepeople will also receive it from us. The Spirit of God, that is, the Breath of God, goes with the Word of God, and with thatalone.
Notice, next, that if we would have the Spirit of God with us, we must break out in vehemence of desire. The Prophet is toprophesy to the bones, but he does not begin in a formal manner by saying, "Only the winds coming can bring Breath to theseslain persons." No, he breaks out with an interjection and with his whole soul heaving with a ground-swell of great desire,he cries, "Come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live!" He has the people beforehim in his eyes and in his heart-and he appeals, with mighty desire, to the Spirit of God, that He would come and make themlive! You will generally find, in our service today, that the men who yearn over the souls of their fellow men are those whomthe Spirit of God uses. A man of no desire gets what he longs for-and that is nothing at all.
Then, if we would have more of the power of the Spirit of God with us, we must see only the Divine purpose, the Divine Powerand the Divine working. God will have His Spirit go forth with those who see His hand. "When I have opened your graves, OMy people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place youin your own land: then shall you know that I, the Lord, have spoken it, and performed it, says the Lord." It is not my planthat God is going to work out-it is His own! It is not my purpose that the Holy Spirit is going to carry out-it is the purposeof the eternal Jehovah! It is not my power, or my experience, or my mode of thought which will bring men from death to life-itis the Holy Spirit who will do it-and He only! We must apprehend this fact and get to work in this attitude-and then God theHoly Spirit will be with us.
III. Bear with me, if I fill up all my time, or if I should even stray beyond it. I now want to address unconverted personsor those who are afraid that they are still unsaved-and with the text before us WE WOULD SPEAK DIFFERENTLY TO OUR HEARERS.
You who are not yet quickened by the Divine Life, or are afraid you are not, we would exhort you to hear the Word of the Lord.Though you feel that you are as dead as these dry bones, yet if you want to be saved, be frequent in hearing the Word of God."Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." If you wish to find the Divine Life, thank God that you have thatwish-and frequent those houses where Christ is much spoken of-and where the way of eternal
life is very plainly set forth. When you mingle with the worshippers, listen with both your ears-try to remember what youhear and pray all the while that God will bless it to you. "O you dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!"
Next, we could remind you of your absolute need of life from the Spirit of God. Put it in what shape you like, you cannotbe saved unless you are born again! And the new birth is not a matter within your own power. "You must be born again"-"fromabove," as the margin reads, in the third chapter of John's Gospel. All the religion of which you are capable will not saveyou, do what you will! Strive as you may with outward ceremonies, or religious observances, there is no hope for you but inthe Holy Spirit! There is something to be done for you which you cannot do for yourself. We will not water down that Truthof God, but give it to you just as it stands in the Scriptures-we want you to feel its power.
But we would have you note what the Holy Spirit has done for others. There are some of your friends who have been born again.They were as hopeless as you are, but they are now saved! You know they are, for you have seen their lives. Take note of them,for what the Holy Spirit can work in one, He can work in another! Let the Grace of God in others comfort you concerning yourself,especially when you hear of great drunks, or great swearers, or very vicious persons who have been transformed into saints.Say to yourself, "If the Holy Spirit could make a saint out of such a sinner as that, surely He can make a saint out of me."As you see the flesh and sinews on others who were once as dry as bare bones, be encouraged to hope that it may be even sowith you before long!
May I go a little further and say that we would have you observe carefully what is done in yourself? I think I am speakingto some here who have already undergone a remarkable change. You cannot say that you have spiritual life-you are afraid thatyou have not. Still, you are not what you used to be. You have put away many things from you that were once a pleasure toyou-and now you take delight in many things which you once despised. There is some hope in that, though it may be nothingmore than the sinews coming on the bones and the flesh upon the sinews. Yet I notice that, where the Holy Spirit begins, Hedoes not leave off till He has finished His work. God takes such a delight in His work, that, having begun it, He completesit! Well did Job say, "You will have a desire to the work of Your hands." Now, what He has already done for you, encouragesme-and should encourage you to hope that He will yet do much more, continuing His gracious work until life eternal is bestowedupon you!
Furthermore, we would remind you that faith in Jesus is a sign of life. If in your heart you can trust yourself to Christand believe in Him that He can save you, you already have eternal life! "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life."If you can now, though it is for the first time, trust yourself on Christ, alone-faith is the surest evidence of the workof the Holy Spirit! You "have passed from death unto life" already! You cannot see the Spirit any more than you can see thewind, but, if you have faith, that is a blessed vane that turns in the way the Spirit of God blows. "Whoever believes thatJesus is the Christ, is born of God." If you believe, this is true of you-and if you cast yourself wholly upon Christ- rememberthat it is written, "He that believes on Him is not condemned." Therefore be of good cheer!
We beg you not to be led aside to the discussion of difficulties. There are a great many difficulties. To tell dry bones tolive is a very unreasonable sort of thing when tried by rules of logic. And for me to tell you, a dead sinner, to believein Christ, may seem perfectly unjustifiable by the same rule. But I do not need to justify it. If I find it in God's Word,that is quite enough for me! And if the preacher does not feel any difficulty in the matter, why should you? There is a difficulty,but you have nothing to do with it! There are difficulties everywhere. There is a difficulty in explaining how it is thatbread sustains your body-and how that bread, sustaining your body, can be the means of prolonging your life! We cannot understandhow the material can impinge upon the spiritual. And there are difficulties in almost everything connected with life. If aman will not do anything till he has solved every difficulty, we had better dig his grave. And you will be in Hell if youwill not go to Heaven without having every difficulty solved for you! Forget the difficulties-there will be time enough tosettle them when we get to Heaven. Meanwhile, if life comes through Jesus Christ, let us have it and have done with nursingour doubts!
Further, we would have you long for the visitation of God, the Holy Spirit. Join with us in the prayer, "Come Holy Spirit,come with all Your Power! Come from the four winds, O Breath!" One wind will not do it-it must come from all quarters. Yourheart, filled with all sorts of evil, needs breaking-it needs throwing down like the house of Job's son when Job's childrenwere in it-and "there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell." Oh, fora wind from the four quarters of Heaven to smite the four corners of the house of your sin and lay it low! "Come from thefour winds, O Breath!" As the poet sings-
"Lifeless in the valley, Come, O Breath, and breathe! New-create and rally! Come, O Breath, and breathe Blowing where youwish, You the word assist, You death's power resist, Come, O Breath, and breathe!
Be willing to have the Holy Spirit as He wills to come. Let Him come as a north wind, cold and cutting, or as a south wind,sweet and melting. Say, "Come, from any of the four winds, O Breath! Only come!" He can come unexpectedly upon you in thepew during these five minutes that remain. You are, perhaps, thinking about whether you can catch an early train and get home.May the Holy Spirit lay hold of you before you leave the building and get you home in real earnest to your God and to yourFather! He can come very mightily. There is a great deal about you that would shut Him out-but it is hard to keep the windout when it blows in the fullness of its strength-you may fill up the crevices of the door as you please, but still the windgets in. Thus, too, is it with the Spirit of God-He comes in might, but He can also come very sweetly. Be not afraid of theHoly Spirit! He can charm you to Christ, as well as drive you to Christ. May He enter your heart even now!
We yearn to see all of you thus made to live. I am praying in my very soul that He would come to every one of you. I do notread that Ezekiel saw part of the valley of dry bones live and the rest remain dry bones, but that they all lived and stoodupon their feet-an exceedingly great army! I long to see you all blessed at this service. Why should it not be so? Oh, thatthe Spirit of God would come and touch every one of us! Many of you are alive, already, blessed be His name! Well, you canhave more life, for Christ has come not only that you might have life, but that you "might have it more abundantly." I beseechyou, let the blessed Spirit enter into greater fullness. But pray mightily that every soul here that is dead may now feelthe sacred Breath and begin to live! Then I shall not only hear of one, as last Thursday, but news shall be brought of manyupon whom the Divine Spirit has sweetly come and led them to Jesus, to be saved now, and to be saved forever! God grant it!Amen.
Portion of Scripture Read before Sermon-Ezekiel 37.