Sermon 251. The Necessity of the Spirit's Work
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 8th, 1859, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"And I will put my Spirit within you."-Ezekiel, 36:27.
The miracles of Christ are remarkable for one fact, namely that they are none of them unnecessary. The pretended miraclesof Mahomet, and of the church of Rome, even if they had been miracles, would have been pieces of folly. Suppose that SaintDenis had walked with his head in his hand after it had been cut off, what practical purpose would have been subserved thereby?He would certainly have been quite as well in his grave, for any practical good he would have conferredon men. The miracles of Christ were never unnecessary. They are not freaks of power; they are displays of power it istrue, but they all of them have a practical end. The same thing may be said of the promises of God. We have not one promisein the Scripture which may be regarded as a mere freak of grace. As every miracle was necessary, absolutely necessary, sois every promise that is given in the Word of God. And hence from the text that is before us, may I draw, and I think veryconclusively, the argument, that if God in his covenant made with his people has promised to put his Spirit within them,it must be absolutely necessary that this promise should have been made, and it must be absolutely necessary also to our salvationthat every one of us should receive the Spirit of God. This shall be the subject of this morning's discourse. I shall nothope to make it very interesting, except to those who are anxiously longing to know the way of salvation.
We start, then, by laying down this proposition-that the work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to us, if we wouldbe saved.
I. In endeavoring to prove this, I would first of all make the remark that this is very manifest if we remember what man is by nature. Some say that man may of himself attain unto salvation-that if he hear the Word, it is in his power to receive it, to believeit, and to have a saving change worked in him by it. To this we reply, you do not know what man is by nature, otherwise youwould never have ventured upon such an assertion. Holy Scripture tells us that manby nature is dead in trespasses and sins. It does not say that he is sick, that he is faint, that he has grown callous, and hardened, and seared,but it says he is absolutely dead. Whatever that term "death" means in connection with the body, that it means in connectionwith man's soul, viewing it in its relation to spiritual things. When the body is dead it is powerless; it is unable to doany thing for itself; and when the soul of man is dead, in a spiritual sense, it must be, if thereis any meaning in the figure, utterly and entirely powerless, and unable to do any thing of itself or for itself. Whenye shall see dead men raising themselves from their graves, when ye shall see them unwinding their own sheets, opening theirown coffin-lids, and walking down our streets alive and animate, as the result of their own power, then perhaps ye may believethat souls that are dead in sin may turn to God, may recreate their own natures, and may make themselves heirs of heaven,thoughbefore they were heirs of wrath. But mark, not till then. The drift of the gospel is, that man is dead in sin, and t at divine life is God's gift; and you must go contrary to thewhole of that drift, before you can suppose a man brought to know and love Christ, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.The Spirit finds men as destitute of spiritual life as Ezekiel's dry bones; he brings bone to bone, and fits the skeletontogether, and then he comes from the four winds and breathes intothe slain, and they live, and stand upon their feet, an exceeding great army, and worship God. But apart from that, apartfrom the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God, men's souls must lie in the valley of dry bones, dead, and dead for ever.
But Scripture does not only tell us that man is dead in sin; it tells us something worse than this, namely, that he is utterlyand entirely averse to every thing that is good and right. "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject tothe law of God, neither indeed can be."-Romans 8:7.-Turn you all Scripture through, and you find continually the will of mandescribed as being contrary to the things of God. What said Christ in that text so often quotedby the Arminian to disprove the very doctrine which it clearly states? What did Christ say to those who imagined thatmen would come without divine influence? He said, first, "No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me drawhim;" but he said something more strong-"Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." No man will come. Here lies the deadly mischief; not only that he is powerless to do good, but that he is powerful enough to do thatwhich is wrong,and that his will is desperately set against every thing that is right. Go, Armenian, and tell your hearers that theywill come if they please, but know that your Redeemer looks you in the face, and tells you that you are uttering a lie. Menwill not come. They never will come of themselves. You cannot induce them to come; you cannot force them to come by all your thunders,nor can you entice them to come by all your invitations. They will not come unto Christ, that they may havelife. Until the Spirit draw them, come they neither will, nor can.
Hence, then, from the fact that man's nature is hostile to the divine Spirit, that he hates grace, that he despises the wayin which grace is brought to him, that it is contrary to his own proud nature to stoop to receive salvation by the deeds ofanother-hence it is necessary that the Spirit of God should operate to change the will, to correct the bias of the heart,to set man in a right track, and then give him strength to run in it. Oh! if ye read man and understandhim, ye cannot help being sound on the point of the necessity of the Holy Spirit's work. It has been well remarked bya great writer, that he never knew a man who held any great theological error, who did not also hold a doctrine which diminishedthe depravity of man. The Armenian says man is fallen, it is true, but then he has power of will left, and that will is free;he can raise himself. He diminishes the desperate character of the fall of man. On the other hand, the Antinomian says, mancannot do any thing, but that he is not at all responsible, and is not bound to do it, it is not his duty to believe,it is not his duty to repent. Thus, you see, he also diminishes the sinfulness of man; and has not right views of the fall.But once get the correct view, that man is utterly fallen, powerless, guilty, defiled, lost, condemned, and you must be sound on all points of the great gospel of Jesus Christ. Once believe man to be what Scripture says he is-once believehis heartto be depraved, his affections perverted, his understanding darkened, his will perverse, and you must hold that if such a wretch as that be saved, it must e t e work of the Spirit of God, and of the Spirit of God alone.
2. I have another proof ready to hand. Salvation must be the work of the Spirit in us, because the means used in salvation are of themselves inadequate for the accomplishment of the work. And what are the means of' salvation? Why, first and foremost stands the preaching of the Word of God. More men are broughtto Christ by preaching than by any thing else; for it is God's chief and first instrument. This is the sword of the Spirit,quick and powerful, to thedividing asunder of the joints and marrow. "It pleaseth God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."But what is there in preaching, by which souls are saved, that looks as if it would be the means of saving souls? I couldpoint you to divers churches and chapels into which you might step, and say, "Here is a learned minister, indeed, a man whowould instruct and enlighten the intellect;" you sit down, and you say, "Well, if God means to work a great work, he willuse alearned man like this." But do you know any learned men that are made the means of bringing souls to Christ, to any greatdegree? Go round your churches, if you please, and look at them, and then answer the question. Do you know any great men-mengreat in learning and wisdom-who have become spiritual fathers in our Israel? Is it not a fact that stares us in the face,that our fashionable preachers, our eloquent preachers, our learned preachers, are just the most useless men in creation forthe winning of souls to Christ. And where are souls born to God? Why, in the house around which the jeer and the scoffand the sneer of the world have long gathered. Sinners are converted under the man whose eloquence is rough and homely, andwho has nothing to commend him to his fellows, who has daily to fall on his knees and confess his own folly, and when theworld speaks worst of him, feels that he deserves it all, since he is nothing but an earthen vessel, in which God is pleasedto puthis heavenly treasure. I will dare to say it, that in every age of the world the most despised ministry has been the mostuseful; and I could find you at this day poor Primitive Methodist preachers who can scarce speak correct English, who havebeen the fathers of more souls, and have brought to Christ more than any one bishop on the bench. Why, the Lord hath beenpleased always to make it so, that he will clothe with power the weak and the foolish, but he will not clothe with power thosewho,if good were done, might be led to ascribe the excellence of the power to their learning, their eloquence, or their position.Like the apostle Paul, it is every minister's business to glory in his infirmities. The world says, "Pshaw! upon your oratory;it is rough, and rude, and eccentric." Yet, 'tis even so, but we are content, for God blesses it. Then so much the betterthat it has infirmities in it; for now shall it be plainly seen that it is not of man or by man, but the work of God, andofGod alone. It is said that once upon a time a man exceedingly curious desired to see the sword with which a mighty herohad fought some desperate battles; casting his eye along the blade, he said, "Well, I don't see much in this sword." "Nay,"said the hero, "but you have not examined the arm that wields it." And so when men come to hear a successful minister, theyare apt to say, "I do not see any thing in him." No, but you have not examined the eternal arm that reaps its harvest withthissword of the Spirit. If ye had looked at the jaw-bone of the ass in Samson's hand, you would have said, "What! heaps onheaps with this!" No; bring out some polished blade; bring forth the Damascus steel! NO; but God would have all the glory,and, therefore, not with the polished steel, but with the jaw-bone must Samson get the victory. So with ministers; God hasusually blessed the weakest to do the most good. Well, now, does it not follow from this, that it must be the work of theSpirit?Because, if there be nothing in the instrument that can lead thereunto, is it not the work of the Spirit when the thingis accomplished? Let me just put it to you. Under the ministry dead souls are quickened, sinners are made to repent, the vilestof sinners are made holy, men who came determined not to believe are compelled to believe. Now, who does this? If you saythe ministry does it, then I say farewell to your reason, because there is nothing in the successful ministry which wouldtendthereunto. It must be that the Spirit worketh in man through the ministry or else such deeds would never be accomplished.You might as well expect to raise the dead by whispering in their ears, as hope to save souls by preaching to them, if itwere not for the agency of the Spirit. Melancthon went out to preach, you know, without the Spirit of the Lord, and he thoughthe should convert all the people, but he found out at last that old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon, and he had togoback and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit or ever he saw a soul saved. I say, that the fact that the ministry is blessedproves, since there is nothing in the ministry, that salvation must be the work of a higher power.
Other means, however, are made use of to bless men's souls. For instance, the two ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.They are both made a rich means of grace. But let me ask you, is there any thing in baptism that can possibly bless any body?Can immersion in water have the slightest tendency to be blessed to the soul? And then with regard to the eating of breadand the drinking of wine at the Lord's Supper, can it by any means be conceived by any rational manthat there is any thing in the mere piece of bread that we eat, or in the wine that we drink? And yet, doubtless, thegrace of God does go with both ordinances for the confirming of the faith of those who receive them, and even for the conversionof those who look upon the ceremony. There must be something, then, beyond the outward ceremony; there must, in fact, be theSpirit of God, witnessing through the water, witnessing through the wine, witnessing through the bread, or otherwise noneofthese things could be means of grace to our souls. They could not edify; they could not help us to commune with Christ;they could not tend to the conviction of sinners, or to the establishment of saints. There must, then, from these facts, bea higher, unseen, mysterious influence-the influence of the divine Spirit of God.
3. Let me again remind you, in the third place, that the absolute necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart maybe clearly seen from this fact, that all which has been done by God the Father, and all that has been done God the Son must be ineffectual to us, unless the Spiritshall reveal these things to our souls. We believe, in the first place, that God the Father elects his people; from before all worlds he chooses them to himself,but let me askyou-what effect does the doctrine of election have upon any man until the Spirit of God enters into him? How do I knowwhether God has chosen me from before the foundation of the world? How can I possibly knows. Can I climb to heaven and readthe roll? Is it possible for me to force my way through the thick mists which hide eternity, and open the seven seals of thebook, and read my name recorded there? Ah! no; election is a dead letter both in my consciousness and in any effect whichit canproduce upon me, until the Spirit of God calls me out of darkness into marvelous light. And then, through my calling,I see my election, and, knowing myself to be called of God, I know myself to have been chosen of God from before the foundationof the world. It is a precious thing-that doctrine of election-to a child of God. But what makes it precious? Nothing butthe influence of the Spirit. Until the Spirit opens the eye to read, until the Spirit imparts the mystic secret, no heartcanknow its election. No angel ever revealed to any man that he was chosen of God; but the Spirit doth it. He, by his divineworkings bears an infallible witness with our spirits that we are born of God; and then we are enabled to "read our titleclear to mansions in the skies."
Look, again, at the covenant of grace. We know that there was a covenant made with the Lord Jesus Christ by his Father frombefore all worlds, and that in this covenant the persons of all his people were given to him, and were secured; but of whatuse, or of what avail is the covenant to us, until the Holy Spirit brings the blessings of the covenant to us? The covenantis, as it were, a holy tree laden with fruit; if the Spirit doth not shake that tree, and make the fruitfall therefrom, until it comes to the level of our standing, how can we receive it? Bring hither any sinner and tell himthere is a covenant of grace, what is he advantaged thereby? "Ah," says he, "I may not be included in it; my name may notbe recorded there; I may not be chosen in Christ;" but let the Spirit of God dwell in his heart, richly by faith and lovewhich is in Christ Jesus, and that man sees the covenant, ordered in all things and sure, and he cries with David, "It isall mysalvation and all my desire."
Take, again, the redemption of Christ. We know that Christ did stand in the room, place, and stead of all his people, andthat all those who shall appear in heaven will appear there as an act of justice as well as of grace, seeing that Christ waspunished in their room and stead, and that it would have been unjust if God punished them, seeing that he had punished Christfor them. We believe that Christ, having paid all their debts, they have a right to their freedom inChrist-that Christ having covered them with his righteousness, they are entitled to eternal life as much as if they hadthemselves been perfectly holy. But of what avail is this to me, until the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and showsthem to me? What is Christ's blood to any of you until you have received the Spirit of grace? You have heard the ministerpreach about the blood of Christ a thousand times, but you passed by; it was nothing to you that Jesus should die. You knowthat hedid atone for sins that were not his own; but you only regarded it as a tale, perhaps, even an idle tale. But when theSpirit of God led you to the cross, and opened your eyes, and enabled you to see Christ crucified, ah, then there was somethingin the blood indeed. When his hand dipped the hyssop in the blood, and when it applied that blood to, your spirit, then therewas a joy and peace in believing, such as you had never known before. But ah, my hearer, Christ's dying is nothing to theeunless thou hast a living Spirit within thee. Christ brings thee no advantage, saving, personal, and lasting, unless theSpirit of God hath baptized thee in the fountain filled with his blood, and washed thee from head to foot therein.
I only mention these few out of the many blessings of the covenant just to prove that they are, none of them, of any use tous, unless the Holy Spirit gives them to us. There hang the blessings on the nail-on the nail, Christ Jesus; but we are shortof stature; we cannot reach them; the Spirit of God takes them down and gives them to us, and there they are; they are ours.It is like the manna in the skies, far out of mortal reach; but the Spirit of God opens the windowsof heaven, brings down the bread, and puts it to our lips, and enables us to eat. Christ's blood and righteousness arelike wine stored in the wine-vat; but we cannot get thereat. The Holy Spirit dips our vessel into this precious wine, andthen we drink; but without the Spirit we must die and perish just as much, though the Father elect and the Son redeem, asthough the Father never had elected, and though the Son had never bought us with his blood. The Spirit is absolutely necessary.Withouthim neither the works of the Father, nor of the Son, are of any avail to us.
4. This brings us to another point. The experience of the true Christian is a reality; but it never can be known and felt without the Spirit of God. For what is the experience of the Christian? Let me just give a brief picture of some of its scenes. There is a person comeinto this hall this morning-one of the most reputable men in London. He has never committed himself in any outward vice; hehas never been dishonest; but he is known as a staunch, uprighttradesman. Now, to his astonishment, he is informed that he is a condemned, lost sinner, and just as surely lost as thethief who died for his crimes upon the cross. Do you think that man will believe it? Suppose, however, that he does believeit, simply because he reads it in the Bible, do you think that man will ever be made to feel it? I know you say, "Impossible!"Some of you, even now, perhaps, are saying, "Well, I never should!" Can you imagine that honorable, upright tradesman, saying,"God be merciful to me, a sinner?"- standing side by side with the harlot and the swearer, and feeling in his own heartas if he had been as guilty as they were, and using just the same prayer and saying, "Lord, save, or I perish." You cannotconceive it, can you? It is contrary to nature that a man who has been so good as he should pat himself down among the chiefof sinners. Ah! but that will be done before he will be saved; he must feel that before he can enter heaven. Now, I ask, whocanbring him to such a leveling experience as that, but the Spirit of God? Ye know very well proud nature will not stoopto it. We are all aristocrats in our own righteousness; we do not like to bend down and come among common sinners. If we arebrought there, it must be the Spirit of God who casts us to the ground. Why, I know if any one had told me that I should evercry to God for mercy, and confess that I had been the vilest of the vile, I should have laughed in their face; I should havesaid,"Why I have not done anything particularly wrong; I have not hurt anybody." And yet I know this very day I can take myplace upon the lowest form, and if I can get inside heaven I shall feel happy to sit among the chief of sinners, and praisethat Almighty love which has saved even me from my sins.. Now, what works this humiliation of heart? Grace. It is contraryto nature for an honest and an upright man in the eye of the world to feel himself a lost sinner. It must be the Holy Spirit'swork,or else it never will be done. Well, after a man has been brought here, can you conceive that man at last conscience-stricken,and led to believe that his past life deserves the wrath of God? His first thought would be, "Well, now, I will live betterthan I ever have lived." He would say, "Now, I will try and play the hermit, and pinch myself here and there, and deny myself,and do penance; and in that way, by paying attention to the outward ceremonies of religion, together with a high moralcharacter, I doubt not I shall blot out whatever slurs and stains there have been." Can you suppose that man brought atlast to feel that, if ever he gets to heaven, he will have to get there through the righteousness of another? "Through therighteousness of another?" says he, "I don't want to be rewarded for what another man does,-not I. If I go there, I will gothere and take my chance; I will go there through what I do myself. Tell me something to do, and I will do it; I will be proudtodo it, however humiliating it may be, so that I may at last win the love and esteem of God." Now, can you conceive sucha man as that brought to feel that he can do nothing?-that, good man as he thinks himself, he cannot do any thing whateverto merit God's love and favor; and that, if he goes to heaven, he must go through what Christ did? Just the same as the drunkardmust go there through the merits of Christ, so this moral man must enter into life, having nothing about him but Christ'sperfect righteousness, and being washed in the blood of Jesus. We say that this is so contrary to human nature, so diametricallyopposed to all the instincts of our poor fallen humanity, that nothing but the Spirit of God can ever bring a man to striphimself of all self-righteousness, and of all creature strength, and compel him to rest and lean simply and wholly upon JesusChrist the Saviour.
These two experiences would be sufficient to prove the necessity of the Holy Spirit to make a man a Christian. But let menow describe a Christian as he is after his conversion. Trouble comes, storms of trouble, and he looks the tempest in theface and says, "I know that all things work together for my good." His children die, the partner of his bosom is carried tothe grave; he says, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." His farmfails, his crop is blighted; his business prospects are clouded, all seem to go, and he is left in poverty: he says, "Althoughthe fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shallyield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice inthe Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." You see him next laid upon a sick bed himself, and when he is there, hesays, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, for before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thyWord." You see him approaching at last the dark valley of the shadow of death, and you hear him cry, "Yea, though I walk throughthe valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me, and thou thyself art with me."Now, I ask you, what makes this man calm in the midst of all these varied trials, and personal troubles, if it be not theSpirit of God? O, ye that doubt the influence of the Spirit, produce the like without him, go ye and die as Christiansdie, and live as they live, and if you can show the same calm resignation, the same quiet joy, and the same firm belief thatadverse things shall, nevertheless, work together for good, then we may be, perhaps, at liberty to resign the point, and nottill then. The high and noble experience of a Christian in times of trial and suffering, proves that there must be the operationof the Spirit of God.
But look at the Christian, too, in his joyous moments. He is rich. God has given him all his heart's desire on earth. Lookat him: he says, "I do not value these things at all, except as they are the gift of God; I sit loose by them all and, notwithstandingthis house and home, and all these comforts, 'I am willing to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.' It is true,I want nothing here on earth; but still I feel that to die would be gain to me, even though Ileft all these." He holds earth loosely; he does not grasp it with a tight hand, but looks upon it all as dust,-a thingwhich is to pass away. He takes but little pleasure therein, saying,-
"I've no abiding city here,
I seek a city out of sight."
Mark that man; he has plenty of room for pleasures in this world, but he drinks out of a higher cistern. His pleasure springsfrom things unseen; his happiest moments are when he can shut all these good things out, and when he can come to God as apoor guilty sinner, and come to Christ and enter into fellowship with him, and rise into nearness of access and confidence,and boldly approach to the throne of the heavenly grace. Now, what is it that keeps a man who has allthese mercies from setting his heart upon the earth? This is a wonder, indeed, that a man who has gold and silver, andflocks and herds, should not make these his god, but that he should still say,-
"There's nothing round this spacious earth
That suits my large desire;
To boundless joy and solid mirth
My nobler thoughts aspire."
These are not my treasure; my treasure is in heaven, and in heaven only. What can do this? No mere moral virtue. No doctrineof the Stoic ever brought a man to such a pass as. that. No, it must be the work of the Spirit, and the work of the Spiritalone, that can lead a man to live in heaven, while there is a temptation to him to live on earth. I do not wonder that apoor man looks forward to heaven; he has nothing to look upon on earth. When there is a thorn in the nest,I do not wonder that the lark flies up, for there is no rest for him below. When you are beaten and chafed by trouble,no wonder you say,-
"Jerusalem! my happy home!
Name ever dear to me;
When shall my labors have an end,
In joy, and peace, and thee?"
But the greatest wonder is, if you line the Christian's nest never so softly, if you give him all the mercies of this life,you still cannot keep him from saying,-
"To Jesus, the crown of my hope,
My soul is in haste to be gone;
Oh bear me, ye cherubim, up,
And waft me away to his throne."
5. And now, last of all, the acts, the acceptable acts, of the Christian's life, cannot be performed without the Spirit; and hence, again, the necessity for the Spirit of God. The first act of the Christian's life is repentance. Have you evertried to repent? If so, if you tried without the Spirit of God you know that to urge a man to repent without the promise ofthe Spirit to help him, is to urge him to do an impossibility. A rock might as soon weep, and a desertmight as soon blossom, as a sinner repent of his own accord. If God should offer heaven to man, simply upon the termsof repentance of sin, heaven would be as impossible as it is by good works; for a man can no more repent of himself, thanhe can perfectly keep God's law; for repentance involves the very principle of perfect obedience to the law of God. It seemsto me that in repentance there is the whole law solidified and condensed; and if a man can repent of himself then there isno need ofa Saviour, he may as well go to heaven up the steep sides of Sinai at once.
Faith is the next act in the divine life. Perhaps you think faith very easy; but if you are ever brought to feel the burdenof sin you would not find it quite so light a labor. If you are ever brought into deep mire, where there is no standing, itis not so easy to put your feet on a rock, when the rock does not seem to be there. I find faith just the easiest thing inthe world when there is nothing to believe; but when I have room and exercise for my faith, then I do notfind I have so much strength to accomplish it. Talking one day with a countryman, he used this figure: "In the middleof winter I sometimes think how well I could mow; and in early spring I think, oh! how I would like to reap; I feel just readyfor it; but when mowing time comes, and when reaping time comes, I find I have not strength to spare." So when you have notroubles, couldn't you mow them down at once? When you have no work to do, couldn't you do it? But when work and trouble comeyoufind how difficult it is. Many Christians are like the stag, who talked to itself, and said, "Why should I run away fromthe dogs? Look what a fine pair of horns I've got, and look what heels I've got too; I might do these hounds some mischief.Why not let me stand and show them what I can do with my antlers? I can keep off any quantity of dogs." No sooner did thedogs bark, than off the stag went. So with us. "Let sin arise," we say, "we will soon rip it up, and destroy it; let troublecome,we will soon get over it; but when sin and trouble come, we then find what our weakness is. Then we have to cry for thehelp of the Spirit; and through him we can do all things, though without him we can do nothing at all.
In all the acts of the Christian's life, whether it be the act of consecrating one's self to Christ, or the act of daily prayer,or the act of constant submission, or preaching the gospel, or ministering to the necessities of the poor, or comforting thedesponding, in all these the Christian finds his weakness and his powerlessness, unless. he is clothed about with the Spiritof God. Why, I have been to see the sick at times, and I have thought how I would like to comfortthem; and I could not get a word out that was worth their hearing, or worth my saying; and my soul has been in agony tobe the means of comforting the poor, sick, desponding brother; but I could do nothing, and I came out of the chamber, andhalf wished I had never been to see a sick person in my life: I had so learned my own folly. So has it been full often inpreaching. You get a sermon up, study it, and come and make the greatest mess of it that can possibly be. Then you say, "Iwish I hadnever preached at all." But all this is to show us, that neither in comforting nor in preaching can one do any thing right,unless the Spirit work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Every thing, moreover, that we do with out the Spiritis unacceptable to God; and whatever we do under his influence, however we may despise it, is not despised of God, for henever despises his own work, and the Spirit never can look upon what he works. in us with any other view than that ofcomplacency and delight. If the Spirit helps me to groan, then God must accept the groaner. If thou couldst pray the bestprayer in the world, without the Spirit, God would have nothing to do with it; but if thy prayer be broken, and lame, andlimping, if the Spirit made it, God will look upon it, and say, as he did upon the works of creation, "It is very good;" andhe will accept it.
And now let me conclude by asking this question. My hearer, then have you the Spirit of God in you? You have some religion,most of you, I dare say. Well, of what kind is it? Is it a homemade article? Did you make yourself what you are? Then, ifso, you are a lost man up to this moment. If, my hearer, you have gone no further than you have walked yourself, you are noton the road to heaven yet; you have got your face turned the wrong way; but if you have received somethingwhich neither flesh nor blood could reveal to you, if you have been led to do the very thing which you once hated, andto love that thing which you once despised, and to despise that on which your heart and your pride were once set, then, soul,if this be the Spirit's work, rejoice; for where he hath begun the good work he will carry it on. And you may know whetherit is the Spirit's work by this. Have you been led to Christ, and away from self: Have you been led away from all feelings,fromall doings, from all willings, from all prayings, as the ground of your trust and your hope, and have you been broughtnakedly to rely upon the finished work of Christ? If so, this is more than human nature ever taught any man; this is a heightto which human nature never climbed. The Spirit of God has done that, and he will never leave what he has once begun, butthou shalt go from strength to strength, and thou shalt stand among the bloodwashed throng, at last complete in Christ, andacceptedin the beloved. But if you have not the Spirit of Christ, you are none of his. May the Spirit lead you to your chambernow to weep, now to repent, and now to look to Christ, and may you now have a divine life implanted, which neither time noreternity shall be able to destroy. God, hear this prayer, and send us away with a blessing, for Jesus' sake. Amen.