The Saint and the Spirit
"But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”— John 14:17.
THE Holy Spirit, although he is the most active, most potent, and most real worker in the world, is not discerned by the mass of mankind. The great majority of men are affected only by what they see, or hear, or feel; their life is confined to the narrow range of their senses. “What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ”— these are the trinity of questions which absorb the attention and effort of the worldly. If they can see a thing, they believe in it; if they can hear the sound of it, they recognise it; if they can discern its shape, they put it down as real: they know not that the things which are seen are temporal, and therefore shadowy, and that the things which are not seen are the only substantial things, because they exist for ever. There they are, owlets fluttering in darkness, earthworms confined to their grovelling sphere, mere moles burrowing in the dark earth; they have no eagle wing to bear them aloft, no eagle eye with which to see afar off. Because the Holy Spirit is neither seen with the eye nor heard with the ear, therefore the world cannot receive him, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. There are a few nobler spirits in the world whose souls are above mere dead matter, who mount into the spirit-world, in a certain sense; they recognise the existence of the soul, and believe in its immortality and grandeur, but still, never having believed in the Spirit of God, their eye is blind to the first and chief of spiritual beings. Whatever else they see, they see not him, and though they hear some voices from the land unknown yet they hear not the divine voice; celestial influences pass over them as sound through a wood, which stirs not so much as a single leaf, no power or passion of their spirit being moved by the Holy One of Israel. They can think of things sublime, and philosophise upon spiritual topics; their theories are plausible, and sometimes they speak as though they were among the number of God’s enlightened, but still, having no faith, they are without the Holy Spirit; and, feeling none of his divine energy, they have no life in him, no love to him; and the affections not being moved, none of the other powers yield to the mighty influence of the glorious Spirit of the living God.
Beloved friends, the vital distinction between the man of God and the man of the world is this: the man of God knows the Holy Spirit, for he is with him and dwelleth in him; but the man of the world knows not the Holy Ghost; he may know his name, but he is not personally acquainted with that glorious One, because he seeth him not, neither knoweth him. Mere outward distinctions, such as may be caused by baptism or the participation of the Lord’s Supper, are just nothing at all, apart from the Holy Ghost. Mere nominal distinctions, caused by wearing the name of “Christian,” or the name of Mahometan, are just superficial, surface-works; but if thou knowest the Holy Spirit, thou art a new creature in Christ Jesus; thou hast passed from death unto life, thou shalt never come into condemnation. If thou knowest not the Spirit, then thou art carnal and sensual; not having the Spirit, thou art dead in sin; thou hast not the Spirit which quickeneth, and the flesh can profit thee nothing. Whatever thou mayst have attained in depth of knowledge, or in excellence of morality, or in boldness of profession, thou hast foolishly begun to build thy house at the top instead of at the bottom, and thy house, lacking a foundation, will all go to pieces; and all thy building shall be but as the card house of little children, or the sand-built tower of the fool, which falls in the day of tempest. The great question which I want to raise in every heart this morning will be this: Dost thou know the Spirit of God? Does he dwell with thee? Is he in thee? for, if thou hast not the spirit of Christ, thou art none of his; but if the Spirit be in thee, the body indeed is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Thou art a living child of God if the Spirit of God dwell in thee, but without him thou art dead whilst thou livest.
In trying to show this morning, so far as our poor powers can show, what it is the believer knows of the Holy Spirit, I shall first say that the believer knows the Holy Spirit by virtue of his operations; and, secondly, and better still, he knows the Holy Spirit by virtue of his personal indwelling; and, thirdly, that the believer shall know the Holy Spirit yet better, for the text says, he “shall be in you.”
I. First, the Holy Spirit is known to believers, and is with believers THROUGH HIS OPERATIONS IN THEM AND UPON THEM.
My brethren, we have seen the operations of the Holy Spirit in the church at large. It was the Holy Spirit who at the very first formed the church; it is he who called out the chosen ones, quickened them, made them living stones fit to be builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit; it is he who binds these living stones together, for all Christian unity comes from him as the Spirit of peace, the Holy Dove proceeding from the Father. The first manifest dedication and consecration of the church of the Lord Jesus was at Pentecost; and here the Holy Spirit was the great active agent. You have not forgotten those words, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” On that day the ascended Saviour, having obtained gifts for men, fulfilled that ancient promise pronounced by the mouth of the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” There had been no church of God composed of Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia, if the Spirit of God had not then been poured out upon the first few hundred chosen souls, that they might be messengers of mercy unto others, to bring in the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Since then, dear friends, the Holy Spirit has been a gracious agent in supplying the church with her ministry. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching: or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” In all our efforts let us depend upon divine power, for without it we are as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal. The gentle dews of Barnabas are useless without the dew of the Spirit, and Boanerges’ thunder is all in vain unless the lightnings of the Holy Ghost shall go therewith.
Brethren, the more than golden treasure of the church is the Holy Spirit. The treasury of the church is not under the lock and key of the State; her caskets of wealth are not to be opened by the power of the policeman by an Act of Parliament; the true treasury of the church is not even found in the gold and silver which may voluntarily be given to her; but in the power and energy of the Holy Spirit is the riches of the church of God. That is a rich church which shall meet in a barn or under the blue vault of heaven, if the Holy Ghost be there; but that is a poor church with “Ichabod” legibly written across its wall, which, with all its wealth, its intelligence, and its respectability, is devoid of the Spirit of the living God. This is the church’s power, her energy, her life, the earnest of her future glory, the present power by which she is to resist and conquer her foes.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the church is as manifest to many of us, as any other great fact can possibly be. Even when we have doubted whether we ourselves possessed the Spirit, we have been charmed to see his work in others. We have seen conversions, which nothing but Omnipotence could have wrought; we have seen graces exemplified in Christians which unaided human nature could not have produced; we have seen virtues in our fellows which we have delighted to admire; we have coveted earnestly the good gifts God has given to them ; we have not envied them nor sought to make their excellencies to appear less beauteous than they are— on the contrary, we have seen, to the honour and praise of God, such virtues and excellencies in believers, as have compelled us to feel that the Holy Ghost is still in the midst of his people.
Thus we know the Holy Spirit, because we can distinctly recognise his action in the church of God. We can discern it on every page of history; we see it in our own times; we have seen it graciously in revivals, we hope to see it yet more; and, as a church, meeting in this place, I am sure we can bear our testimony, even thousands of us, that the Holy Ghost has been here, blessing us indeed and of a truth.
But, beloved, no man knows the Holy Spirit to any great extent by mere observation of his work in the church. Let me come closer to your souls and deal more personally with your inward experiences. The only way to know the Holy Spirit is by feeling him at work in your own souls. Now, the works of the Holy Spirit within a regenerate man are very many. It is not possible for me to mention them all, but at the commencement let me say, that the most of them find an illustration in the work of the Holy Spirit upon the person of our Lord, who is our Covenant Head and Representative. What the Spirit did for Jesus, the Mediator, the head of the body, that he repeats after the manner and the measure of each man in each member of the body of Christ. The same oil bedews the skirts of the garment as that which fell so copiously upon the head; the same Spirit descends to the very meanest Christian as that which was upon Christ, the anointed One of God.
Now, you will remember that the Holy Spirit was concerned in the very birth of our Lord on earth. The angel said unto Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Our Lord was born into this world through the marvellous, mysterious, secret operation of the divine Spirit. He was born of the Virgin Mary, but he is the Son of the Highest. Our Lord might have addressed the Holy Spirit and said, “A body hast thou prepared me,” Beloved, anything like a new birth in you and me is also of the Holy Spirit. Christ was not born at Bethlehem without the Spirit of God, neither is he born in our hearts. The Christ in the manger is begotten by the Holy Spirit, and the Christ in every humble heart comes there by the same divine agency. In us Christ must be conceived; in us Christ must be formed; and this it is that Paul longed for when he said, “I travail in birth till Christ be formed in you the hope of glory.” It is the Spirit’s work, then, to bring Christ to any one of us, and to make us to know Christ; and every good desire towards Jesus, much less every real reception of Jesus into the soul, is the work of the Spirit of grace.
When our Lord was grown up, and had come to those years in which he exercised his public ministry, although he was baptised by man with water, he was also baptised with the Holy Ghost. In the midst of Jordan, you will remember, when he was fulfilling all righteousness, he saw the heavens opened, and lo! the Spirit of God descended upon him like a dove, and did rest upon him. That was his consecration to his work; that was the anointing which commissioned and qualified him as the servant of God. He was that day publicly and effectually set apart by the Holy Spirit to be distinctly the great Captain of our salvation, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. Beloved, it is thus that you and I must be separated from the world by the Holy Spirit resting upon us; with all his dove-like influences, he must descend into our souls, that henceforth we may not serve sin, but become the servants of God. It is only in the power of his divine anointing that we can have power to minister in the Lord’s house as the sent servants of the Master of the household.
Then, in Jesus Christ’s three years and a half of ministry, the power by which he wrought miracles, and the power by which he preached, is ascribed to the Holy Ghost. Jesus himself said that he cast out devils by the Spirit of God— it was his own declaration. So, albeit that as Deity he could work what miracles he willed, yet he chose to use the divine power of the Holy Spirit of God in the working of many of his wonders. Beloved, you have not forgotten the famous text of his sermon at Nazareth, which is appropriate to the point in hand, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Did the Master work in the power of the Spirit of God, and shall not the servants do so? If ye would work such works as Christ did, ye must work them in the power which Christ bestowed so abundantly on his church when he ascended to his Father. If you would be here on earth wonder-workers, to arouse the dead, to open blind eyes, and to set at liberty the captives— and to this you are ordained in your measure even as he was, every one of you— then you must have the power of the Holy Ghost resting upon you, for only by that power can you lead the life of Christ on earth.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead is sometimes in Scripture ascribed to the Holy Ghost. You will recollect that passage in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, at the eleventh verse: Here you are promised that the same power which “raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies.” Our resurrection from the death of sin is wrought in us by the Holy Ghost. There is no rising out of the grave of sin, unless the voice shall say, “Lazarus, come forth;” and, with that voice, there must go that irresistible lifegiving power, without which the dead in sin will remain dead until they corrupt and are cast into Tophet, where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.
See then, beloved, from the birth of Christ to his resurrection, he was pleased to put honour upon the Holy Spirit by receiving abundantly of his power. He was anointed as man with the oil of gladness above his fellows; and though able as God to have done as he pleased, independently, yet in order that the unity of the blessed Trinity might be manifest to us, Christ went not without his Father’s sending, and spoke not his own words, but his Father’s words; and so the power which rested upon him, which he chose to use, was the power of the Holy Ghost. Now, as the strength of the head, so must the strength of the members be: as the Head was anointed of the Spirit, so must the members be anointed in like manner; as the Head rose from the dead, so must the members rise by the same power; by the energy of that holy Comforter who has been shed abroad upon the people of God, by virtue of the Lord Jesus Christ’s ascension, we must be sustained and perfected, that the many brethren may in all things be made like to the Elder Brother. There is much more in this illustration than I can bring forth, therefore I leave it with you as a goodly dish to feed upon at your leisure.
In enlarging upon the operations of the blessed Spirit, dear friends, if you and I know the Spirit of God at all, we shall know him first as having operated upon us to convince us of our sin. I trust I shall never be second to any one in preaching plainly that whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life, yet I cannot but think that many, in their over-zeal for preaching up the simplicity of faith, have fallen into grievous error by disparaging repentance of sin, and setting at nought all idea of a sinner’s coming to Jesus because sin has become loathsome and unbearable. Beloved, no one ever did come to Christ nor ever will until he feels his need of Jesus Christ. Though it be the duty of the minister to preach the gospel to every sinner, yet that gospel never can be and never will be of any value to a soul until that soul is emptied of self, made to see its sin and to abhor it. Now, if ever you and I have spied out our disease, have seen the blotches of our spiritual leprosy, have been made to know that it is more than skin-deep, and lies far down in the very core of our being, if ever we have been made to feel that the whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint (and I am sure we must feel this before we can savingly put our trust in Jesus), this is the finger of God, this is the work of the Spirit of God in the soul. “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall convince the world of sin and if you have been convinced of sin, the Spirit of God has come to you. There is no convincer like the Spirit. Beloved, I may tell you of your sins— I do try to do so as plainly as I know; I may set before you the heinousness of sin as against a just, and holy, and merciful God; I may try to show you the bitterness of sin in its eternal results, but all this is nothing until the Holy Ghost comes— and then, without words or with them, by whichever way he chooses to act, he can make your soul shake; he can make your whole heart quiver till rottenness enters into your bones. I pray God that all of us may feel this in such a measure as he may think fit to show it to us; but you will never doubt the existence of the Holy Ghost after such an experience of his power as a consuming fire and a rushing mighty wind. When he wields the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, and drives that sword through you again, and again, and again, you will know him beyond a question. When he takes the great sledge hammer of the law, and breaks you in pieces, and pounds you like wheat in a mortar with the pestle, you will never have doubts about his power, you will know him, for he is with you, and has bowed you in the dust by his presence.
But next, if you know the Holy Spirit, you will also know him as the great revealer of Christ. There is the serpent lifted up on the pole, in the midst of the sin-bitten dying host; but, brethren, many may die, albeit that the brazen serpent is within view, unless some one shall direct their eye to the spot. How many have I known, who, when they have been told about Christ, and the plan of salvation, have said, “Where is he?” and they have turned their poor bewildered glances everywhere except to the right place, and even when their eyes have had a little light, they have been looking for quite another Christ to the one who is set before them in the gospel. Oh! I recollect how long I looked for Christ, but could not find him, and when at last I did spy him, I perceived how near he was while my eyes were looking a long way off for him, looking up into heaven or into my own soul; but of this I am conscious at this moment, that I never could under any ministry have been enabled to spy out my Lord Jesus, if it had not been that the Holy Ghost cast a ray of light upon Christ, and opened my eyes so that I could perceive him. It is our duty to set forth Christ very plainly, manifestly, crucified in the congregation; but Jesus Christ is never seen by any light which comes from either the minister or his hearer, the light must come from the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit shines frill upon the thorn-crown and the five wounds and the mournful countenance of the Man of Sorrows, oh! how the wounds glisten, and how fair is Jesus to a poor sinner’s tearful eyes; but without that light, a man may sit at the foot of the cross and see nothing, and even die in his darkness and sin. Brethren, if you have ever put your trust in Jesus, you will know the Holy Spirit who wrought your faith in you, and led you to trust in the finished salvation of our exalted Saviour.
Since that, have we not often known the Spirit as our helper in prayer? I went to my chamber and I bowed upon my knees and tried to cry unto God, but though I sought to pray, I could not till on a sudden I found a friend. It is written, “ The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. . . . for he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” What delightful praying it is when the Holy Ghost indites the prayer, so that we have nothing to do but just to read what he writes, to utter what he suggests, to speak out what he speaks in, to be the ram’s horn trumpet and he the breath that causes the sound! Oh ! it is rapturous praying when the Spirit helps you to pray. Ah! beloved, you know what this means, some of you. When you have had wrestling times like Jacob at Jabbok’s brook; when you have been able to say like Luther, “ I have overcome, I have had my desire of God,” to what did you ascribe your prevalence, your moving that arm which moves the world, but to the Holy Spirit, who is the great helper of his people in times of prayer? Yes, we know the Spirit in that respect, for he is with us daily.
Then, when we rose from our knees, we opened the Scriptures, and began to read, and the Spirit of truth acted as interpreter. He wrote the book, and therefore he understands its meaning. What Bible readings those are when the Spirit of God is the expositor ! It is poor reading when you merely sound the words, but find not the Spirit: the letter killeth, the Spirit is life. When “ a glory gilds the sacred page, majestic like the sun ; ” when every letter reflects the light of Deity, and every word glows in the presence of the living God, like the bush at Horeb’s mountain, that glowed with living fire; ah! then, Bible readings become soul-fattening times, and the soul, being taught of God, sees the Father, has communion with the Son, and is filled with life, and light, and joy ineffable. You may say, perhaps, the Spirit of God is with us in these solitary and secret engagements, and so we know him; but is he with us in public ? Ah! beloved, you know not the Spirit unless you have often recognised him in his operations as the great calmer and quieter of his people’s minds when under distractions. It is perfectly marvellous how a soul that is like the Lake of Galilee, tossed with a thousand waves, becomes smooth as a sheet of glass when the Holy Spirit breathes upon it. Cares, losses, woes, brokenness of heart, every shape of human misery, yield to the soft whisper of the Spirit of God. Oh! if you do not know the Comforter, I pity you. You may have a thousand friends, but they are nothing compared to this one Comforter. All the remedies of other comforters can only be applied to the ear, but this celestial medicine affects the heart itself with matchless power of consolation. He does not merely give us something out of which we may draw comfort, but he actually comforts us, for he reaches the secret spring of our being, and sheds a sacred peace abroad. Yes, we know the Heavenly Dove; we have known him when we have heard the slander of the many, and fear was on every side; we have known him, for he has helped us to say,
“If on my face, for thy dear name,
Shame and reproach shall be,
I’ll hail reproach, and welcome shame,
If thou remember me.”
We have known him when we have lost much; when friend after friend has been hurried away to the grave; when there has been disappointment without, and dismay within, we have turned to him, and have rested in the infallible promise of an immutable God, “ I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” I trust you know the Holy Ghost as the Comforter.
More especially is the Spirit known to believers as their sanctifier. In a certain sense we are sanctified by the blood of Jesus and by the election of the Father ; we are set apart by election to be made holy through the blood by the power of the Holy Spirit. This third kind of sanctification, which consists in the subjugation of inbred sin, and in the victory of the new life over the old nature— this is the daily work of the Spirit of God in the soul. It is the Spirit's work to check the unruly passion, to put the bit into the mouth of the fiery desire; it is the Spirit’s work to feed the new-born soul, to give it energy and vigour, to give it victory over the old enemy ; and, glory be to God, it will be the Spirit's work, one day, to make us exactly like our Master ; we shall be fashioned into his image: we are to be melted and poured anew into the mould, and made like the first-born among many brethren; and while we shall give the Saviour the praise for having washed us in his blood, yet we shall also bless the Holy Spirit who has wrought all our works in us, and worked in us to will and to do according to the good pleasure of the Father.
“ And every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are his, and his alone.”
My dear brethren, I have not time to mention at length the multiform and hallowed works of the Spirit in us, but I trust you know them so well that you know him by them. Suffice it to say, that if you would receive blessing from the ministry, it must be through the power of the Spirit; and if, on the other hand, you would minister with power to others, you must wait upon that Spirit for your help. If we are ever to be lifted up from selfishness to disinterested sacrifice; if we are ever to be raised from cowardly doubts and fears to dauntless courage; if ever we are to arise from worldliness and carnality into heavenly-mindedness and true spirituality; if ever we are to shake off the serpent-slough of our old nature, and put on the pure vesture of Christ’s likeness; if ever, in fine, we are to be delivered from this present evil world, and to be filled with all the fulness of God, we must find our strength for each and all in the power and energy and quickening Spirit of the living God.
I leave this point, only endeavouring to urge each one to enquire, “ What do I know of all this ?” I am afraid many of you know nothing at all about it. You are a good sort of people; you were sprinkled when you were infants, and have been regularly to church or chapel all your lives; you do not owe anything, and live as you should live in many respects, and you think that outward morality and outward religion are everything. You use your hymn books and prayer books, and behave yourselves like respectable people; but if you have not the Spirit you are lost. The external without the inward is good for nothing. It is all good for nothing. A waggon-load of profession is not worth an ounce of grace: “ Ye must be born again;” the Holy Spirit must come into your souls, or else, if for a thousand years you could persevere in the most reputable external religion, you would end where you began, or in something worse, namely, in weariness of flesh about such empty things, or in a self-righteousness which would be more damnable perhaps than open sin. Beware of resting in anything short of the indwelling Spirit. You must have the Spirit ; you cannot pass the gate of pearl without it; you cannot know Christ without it. “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is no slight change which can be easily wrought. Ye must be made new creatures: old things must pass away, and all things must become new. This is a work that your free agency cannot accomplish, a work that your poor weakness, which you call strength, will never be able to achieve; you must, therefore, have power from above. God must come into contact with you; the eternal Spirit must dwell in your soul, or else you can never dwell in heaven. Let this be laid home to your heart, and God bless the thought to your soul’s profit.
II. Very briefly, in the second place, the chosen of God not only know the Spirit by his operations which they have seen in the church, and which they have felt in themselves, but, THEY KNOW HIM BY HIS PERSONAL INDWELLING IN THEIR SOULS.
I shall not attempt to preach upon this great mystery, but I should like you to catch the thought and to hold it in your hearts. You know that Jesus Christ gave us his righteousness and his blood, but he did a great deal more, he gave us himself: “He loved us, and gave himself for us.” You have learned to distinguish between the gifts of Christ, and Christ himself. Now, the Holy Spirit gives us his operations and his influences, for which we should be very grateful, but the greatest gift is not the operation nor the influence, but himself, which “dwelleth with you and shall be in you.” The great covenant gift is the Holy Spirit himself. Do you understand that truth? It is asserted many times in Scripture, that the bodies of the saints are the temples of the Holy Ghost. God dwelleth in you: ye are the temples of God. Now, do not cut that down, and say that it means that he influences us and operates upon us. It does mean that, but it means a great deal more; it means literally this— that the Holy Ghost, the third Person of the sacred Trinity actually dwells in every regenerate man and woman, that he has made our bodies to be his shrine, and he is the indwelling Lord. Do you perceive this grand doctrine? I say again, not merely the graces of God, nor the operations of the Spirit, but the Spirit himself dwells in us. He is everywhere, he filleth all in all, but still he has a special residence; and though we are told in the chapter before us, that the Father and the Son take up their abode with us, yet not in the same sense in which the Holy Spirit does. He personally dwells in the church, and in each believer. God the Holy Ghost is pleased to dwell in our bodies, not so as to deify our humanity, or to take us into connection with Deity in the same way as the humanity of Jesus was exalted, but still so as truly to dwell in us and abide in us. Brethren, gather up this manna, it is better than angels’ food; and when you have received this truth thoroughly into your soul, you will say,” This is wondrously condescending; for, O Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof, and yet here it is, ‘God dwelleth in me and I in him.’”
This indwelling must be singularly effective. It is very powerful for a great God to send his influences, but if he comes himself! There is no way of doing work well, you know, except doing it yourself; and when the Master comes , and gives personal attendance, it is sure to be done. Since the Holy Ghost dwells in us, how well his sanctifying work will be done! Depend upon it, he will not leave a single relic of sin when his work is achieved, because he has not sent an angel to us, but he has himself come here to effect the divine purpose of making us meet for the kingdom. Oh, how effective that presence must be! How delightfully encouraging is this indwelling, " If God actually dwells in me, then what may I not expect? There can be no blessing too great to expect if I have received the Holy Ghost himself. If I be like one of old, a man full of the Holy Ghost, then I cannot be empty of anything else, for when God gives himself, how shall he not also give us all things ?”
Brethren, if this be so, how potently sanctifying the thought is, for if God dwell in us, let us not defile these bodies. What a powerful operation that truth ought to have, and will have, upon every man who believes it, for " every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself , even as he is pure.” We must make the temple pure while God is with us; we cannot prostitute the soul to sin while the Holy Ghost resides with us, and embraces us in the mighty cloud of his divine influences. What can be nobler than a Christian ? Talk of kings and queens, what are they compared with men who, every day, carry God about with them ? When Ignatius stood before the judges, they said, u You are called the God-bearer, Theophorus; what mean you by this?” He said, “ lama God-bearer; God dwells in me.” When the persecutor looked at him and said he blasphemed, he replied that the Holy Spirit dwelt in him. Ah! but Ignatius proved it ; for when they put him to a cruel death, he bore it with undaunted courage; God shone through the man, and made human weakness a platform for divine strength. If you and I dare to say God dwells in us, we must prove it too; perhaps not by a cruel death, but by what is far more difficult, a holy life. The Lord help us so to live, that men may take knowledge of us that God looks through our eyes ; that the love of God acts through our hands in deeds of integrity and kindness; that God speaks through our tongues in words of truth and holiness ; and that God has been pleased to fill us to the full with his own love, breathing himself into us, that we might breathe out himself among the sons of men in actions that shall be like to Christ, and reflect honour upon his name. Thus I have brought before you a rich thought for meditation.
III. Now, in the third place, beloved, if we thus know the Holy Spirit, WE SHALL KNOW HIM BETTER SOON.
We shall be more instructed ; and the instructed disciple knows the master better than he who is in the A, B, C, class. We shall be more fully sanctified, and the pure in heart see God ; and the more pure we become, the more clearly shall we see the great Purifier ; the Holy Spirit will daily reveal Christ to us, and as we grow more like Christ, we shall see more of Christ, and more of him whose office it is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us. None of us know to what we may yet attain. I had no idea when I first knew the Lord, of even the small attainment to which I have come in divine truth. I have put away many a childish thing, and learned many a manly truth which was too high for me before; but if the Lord shall spare our lives— why, beloved, we have specimens among us of saints who have known the Lord forty or fifty years, who far outstrip us in a thousand things— I do not know what we may be even here: I do not think any man knows to what a Christian may attain. We become warped and crippled by our small conceptions of the possible in grace. Many Christians get Chinese shoes put on their feet and never get developed, and therefore they think they must be doubting and fearing always. There is no need for it. A man might as well live without doubts and fears as not; if he would grow in grace, he would outgrow unbelief. We fancy if we get to be as full of faith as Abraham, that it will be a great attainment. Oh! but Abraham only lived in the twilight, when Christ had not come; we live in a better age than Abraham, after the coming of Christ; and we ought never to stint ourselves to the same degree as those ancient saints; we are to excel them, and mount higher and higher. You know not how sweet and clear the air is, how glorious the views above these clouds, if you could but stretch your wings of love and confidence and zeal, and mount above the world. We do not know what we shall be, we cannot tell what we shall know of the love and of the Spirit of God here. There is one thing we know, that when he shall appear, whose coming is our daily hope, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; and when we shall be like him, then we shall know the Spirit of God, for we shall be filled with wisdom and knowledge, and made in the image of Christ, who is our all in all.
If any of you desire the Spirit of God, remember that your business is not with him first, but with the cross of Christ. Trust Christ, poor, broken-hearted sinner. I pray that the Holy Ghost may give you precious faith to do it. Your brokenness of heart comes from him. The Christian who is saved has to do with the Spirit of God, but to you, poor sinner, the gospel command is, look to Jesus, look to Jesus, and live. May the Lord bless you, for Jesus Christ's sake.