THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
I. HAVING spoken of three things which God has done for us,
and of three things which we must do for ourselves, we are now come to the
proper place to consider other aids which our heavenly Father tenders to
us, just at this point. "He has provided a Lamb for a sin offering," and
"Jesus has full atonement made." He has also given to us "the light
of life" - the words of Jesus faithfully written out; and he has invested
him as the Son of Man, with all authority, celestial and terrestrial, that
he may lead many sons to glory, and give eternal life to all that are given
II. We also have believed all this; repented of our sins, and been immersed
into Christ. We have assumed him as our Leader - our Prophet, Priest, and
King; and put ourselves under his guidance. Having disowned the great apostate
and his ranks, and enlisted under the Messiah, and taken sides with the Lord's
Anointed; he now proposes to put his Holy Spirit within us, to furnish us
for the good fight of faith, and to anoint us as the sons and heirs of God.
III. Some will ask, Has not this gift been conferred on us to make us Christians?
True, indeed, no man can say, that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit.
As observed in its proper place, the Spirit of God is the perfecter, and
finisher of all divine works. "The Spirit of God moved upon the waters;"
"The hand of the Lord has made me, the Spirit of the Almighty has given me
life;" "By his Spirit he has garnished the heavens, his hand has formed the
crooked serpent," the milky way; "The Spirit descended upon him;" "God himself
bore the Apostles witness, by divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit
according to his will;" "Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the
Holy Spirit;" "When the Spirit of truth, the Advocate is come, he will convict
the world of sin, because they believe not on me, and of justification, because
I go to my Father;" "God was manifest in the flesh and justified by the Spirit."
IV. The Spirit of God inspired all the spiritual ideas in the New Testament,
and confirmed them by miracles; and he is ever present with the word that
he inspired. He descended from heaven on the day of Pentecost, and has not
formally ascended since. In the sense in which he descended he certainly
has not ascended: for he is to animate and inspire with new life the church
or temple of the Lord. "Know you not," you Christians, "that your bodies
are temples of the living God;" "The temple of God is holy, which temple
you are;" "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell
in you, God shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth
in you," etc.
V. Now we cannot separate the Spirit and word of God, and ascribe so much
power to the one and so much to the other; for so did not the Apostles. Whatever
the word does, the Spirit does; and what ever the Spirit does in the work
of converting men, the word does. We neither believe nor teach abstract Spirit
nor abstract word - but word and Spirit, and Spirit and word.
VI. But the Spirit is not promised to any persons out of Christ. It
is promised only to them that believe in and obey him. These it actually
and powerfully assists in the mighty struggle for eternal life. Some, indeed,
ask, "Do Christians need more aid to gain eternal life - than sinners do
to become Christians? Is not the work of conversion a more difficult work
than the work of sanctification?" Hence, they contend more for the work of
the Spirit in conversion, than for the work of the Spirit in sanctification.
This, indeed, is a mistaken view of the matter, if we reason either from
analogy or from divine testimony. Is it not more easy to plant, than to cultivate
the corn, the vine, the olive? Is it not more easy to enlist in the army,
than to be a good soldier, and fight the battles of the Lord; to start in
the race, than to reach the goal; to enter the ship than cross the ocean;
to be naturalized, than to become a good citizen; to enter into the matrimonial
compact than to be an exemplary husband; to enter life, than to retain and
sustain it for three score years and ten? And while the commands,
"believe," "repent," and "be baptized," are never
accompanied with any intimation of peculiar difficulty; the commands to the
use of the means of spiritual health and life; to form the Christian character;
to attain the resurrection of the just; to lay hold on eternal life; to make
our calling and election sure, etc., are accompanied with such exhortations,
admonitions, cautions, as to make it a difficult and critical affair, requiring
all the aids of the Spirit of our God, to all the means of grace and untiring
assiduity and perseverance on our part; for it seems, "the called" who enter
the stadium are many, while "the chosen" and approved "are few;" and many,
says Jesus, "shall seek to enter into the heavenly city, and shall not be
able;" "Let us labour, therefore, to enter into that rest lest any man fall
after the same example of unbelief."
VII. Sanctification in one point of view, is unquestionably a progressive
work. To sanctify is to set apart; this may be done in a moment, and so far
as mere state or relation is concerned, it is as instantaneous
as baptism. But there is the formation of a holy character: for there is
a holy character as well as a holy state. The formation of
such a character is the work of means; "Holy Father," said Jesus, "sanctify
them [my disciples], through the truth; thy word is the truth;" "And the
very God of peace sanctify you wholly," says Paul to the Thessalonians, "and
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Christians, then, are to "follow peace
with all men, and sanctification, without which no one shall see the Lord."
Therefore, it is the duty and the work of Christians, "to perfect
holiness in the fear of the Lord."
VIII. This requires aid. Hence, assistance is to be prayed for; and it is
promised. Now as the Spirit of God, under the administration of Christ, is
the author of all holiness in us - he is called the "Holy Spirit," "the Spirit
of holiness." Hence, while we have the phrase "Holy Ghost" or Spirit,
ninety-four times in the Christian Scriptures, it is found only three
times in all the Jewish writings. The Holy Spirit is, then, the author of
all our holiness; and in the struggle after victory over sin and temptation,
"it helps our infirmities," and comforts us by seasonably bringing
to our remembrance the promises of Christ, and "strengthens us with all might,
in the new, or inner man." And thus "God works in us to will and to do of
his own benevolence," "while we are working out our own salvation with fear
and trembling." Christians are, therefore, clearly and unequivocally temples
of the Holy Spirit; and they are quickened, animated, encouraged, and sanctified
by the power and influence of the Spirit of God, working in them through
IX. God "gives his Holy Spirit to them who ask him," according to his revealed
will; and without this gift no one could be saved or ultimately triumph over
all opposition. He knows but little of the deceitfulness of sin, or of the
combatting of temptation, who thinks himself competent to wrestle against
the allied forces of the world, the flesh and the devil. Hence, the necessity
of "supplications, deprecations, intercessions, and thanksgivings," or praying
always with all prayer and supplication in the Holy Spirit, and watching
thereunto with all perseverance, and of making supplication for all saints,
our fellow soldiers in this good warfare.
X. To those, then, who believe, repent, and obey the gospel, he actually
communicates of his Good Spirit. The fruits of that spirit in them, are "love,
joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness,
temperance." The attributes of character which distinguish the new man, are
each of them communications of the Holy Spirit, and thus we are the sons
of God in fact, as well as in title, under the dispensations of the Holy
XI. We have, then, every thing done for us, after our conversion, which we
need in order to that "holiness without which no one shall see the Lord."
Thus God has provided for us a sin offering; a prophet to expound
it; a priest to present it; a king, with universal dominion,
to govern, and protect all that by it are reconciled to God. And when through
faith, repentance, and baptism, we have assumed him as our rightful Sovereign,
by his Holy Spirit, in answer to our prayers, he worked in us, and by us,
and for us, all that is needful to our present, spiritual, and eternal salvation.