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The Seven Spirits.

The Seven Spirits.

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By Rev. James Vaughan

" The Seven Spirits which are before His throne."— Revelation i. 4.

By Rev. James Vaughan

" The Seven Spirits which are before His throne."— Revelation i. 4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 24, 2013
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The Seven Spirits.

By Rev. James Vaughan
" The Seven Spirits which are before His throne."— Revelation i. 4. O one who has studied the mystic use of the number "seven," — a use dating- from the time when God having completed the creation, £uid resting on "the seventh day," thenceforth made "seven" the emblem of all perfection, — and then Himself again and again selecting the same number for His other works, exhibiting thereby a unity with His first grand idea;— no student of the Old Testament, — no student of the history of our whole world, — ^will wonder to find the infinitude of the power and the glories of the Holy Ghost expressed under that ancient image and clothed in the language, — " The Seven Spirits which are before His throne." And when they are said to be " before the throne," we are to understand it to be an accommodation to human thought, and to mean that just as we speak of Christ being at the side of the throne, or "at tlie right hand of God," to denote His equality, with His mediatorial work, — so the Holy Ghost is described as " before the throne," to convey, in combination with the same idea of equality, His continual procession from the Father and from the Son : — " The Seven Spirits which are before His throne." To accept the word as referring to any created beings, — as angels, — ^would place a creature on a par with, and

190 The Seven Spirits, in the very midst of the Holy Trinity, and is therefore an interpretation entirely to be repudiated, — ** Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come ; and from the Seven Spirits which are before His throne ; and from Jesus Christ." But there may be, and I think there is another reason to be found why the Holy Ghost is called "the Seven Spirits,"

in that remarkable seven-fold action by which He works upon the soul of a man. For though the influences of the Holy Spirit are indeed very many, and the enumeration of them might be extended ever so far, still I believe that you will find that they do range themselves, with a very singular exactness, under " seven " heads. And it is to this fact that I think it would be appropriate to direct your attention this morning. We shall be able to do very little more than catalogue them. But it may not be without its use, though we should only name the "seven" offices of the Holy Ghost. Whatever can be stated with precision is the more likely to be remembered with accuracy, and the " seven " divisions of the work of the Holy Ghost may help you the better first to examine whether you have ever yet proved and enjoyed them all, and then to pray the more distinctly, and to cherish the more systematically, the whole operation of the Spirit in your heart. There is no manner of doubt which of the offices of the Holy Ghost we should place first. For our Lord Himself has ranged them in almost chronological order. "He shall reprove'' or convince, — convince reprovingly, and reprove convincingly, — " the world of sin." To open the heart like Lydia's, — to show us what we are, — to make us feel sin, and specially sins done against

The Seven Spirits, 191 Christ, — this is the Spirit's first work. I am aware, — and we must never forget it, — that when we speak of the order of the Spirit's working-, we are dealing with a circle, where there is, in one sense, no first and no last. Each act reciprocates upon the other, and we enter that circle as God chooses, and wherever He first places us. Really, however, the beginning of all good in a man's heart is that he knows his real state, and feels his want of a Saviour. Till this is done, the gospel is a mere idle word. And this is exactly what no man can do for himself, and no man and no minister can do for another. Therefore, here the Spirit begins. And when once He does begin, — how thoroughly, how deeply, how hum-

blingly, how sharply, how agonizingly He achieves His purpose, — how He opens up the bitter past, — how He bares the sore places of a man's mind, — some of you can tell. It is a mighty work begun when the Spirit begins to '* convince " a man of His ** sins." ow what is the step which you would expect to grow out of this, according to the character of a loving God ? what is the obvious sequence ? what should be the second operation ? what do we all want ? Christ. At once the Spirit shows us Christ. Our Lord expresses it thus, — ** He convinces of righteousness," — of a true, perfect righteousness, — the righteousness a sinnner needs, — the righteousness God demands, — the righteousness which Christ has wrought, and evidently finished, for this reason, that if He had not finished it. He would not have gone away, but He would have come back, — observe, **of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see Me no more." Every day's experience shows us that we can only know

192 The Seven Spirits. Christ, but by the Holy Ghost. There is no other power that ever can or will reveal the Saviour to a sinner's soul. We may hear of Him by the hearing- of the ear, but till the Holy Ghost unvails Him, we shall not see Him with the eye. The Second Person in the blessed Trinity may have done, and has done, all your soul needs, and has paid all your debts. But till the Third Person shows you that your debt is paid, you will never receive it ; you will never understand it ; you will never see it. It is His to "take that thing- of Christ, and show it to you." And then, how beautiful, how satisfying, how "the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely " He is, when the Spirit shows Him, some of you can say. And so we arrive at the third office of the Spirit, — He comforts, I place this office here, because all the Spirit's comforting-s have to do with Jesus Christ. I believe the Holy Ghost never comforts a man but through Christ. He never uses the common places of men's consolation. He never deals in generalities. He shows you that Jesus loves you. He shows you that Jesus died for you, — that God has

forgiven you. So He makes Christ fill an empty place, — He exhibits the exceeding- loveliness and sufficiency of Christ's work and Christ's person, — He makes you conscious of what it is to be a member in a great mystical body of which Christ is the Head, — He gives peace, — there is a hushed feeling of an inward quietness, — ^whatever the present may be, there is a good future coming. Is it loneliness ? o, for there is Christ in it. Is it death ? o, nothing dies in Christ. Is it sin ? o, the grace that is in Christ Jesus infinitely abounds over the sin that is in yoii. And so, in that sense of pardon, — the oneness of the whole family in earth and heaven, — the Christ close, — the

The Seven Spirits, 193 heaven standing- out distinct, — the " sorrow is turned into joy." After this, the Spirit proceeds to teach the man, who is now become a real child of God. He admits him into those deeper, hidden meanings which lie under the surface of everything- in the word, — He shows him the mind of God in nature, in providence, in grace ; — He unravels the labyrinth of the intricacies of truth. It was He who that morning- made that text to stand out to your mind so very clear and large. It was He who brought together the various parts of the Scripture, and exhibited to you the whole counsel of the Almighty as at a glance. It was He who assisted the memory, and made it so retentive of holy things. It was He who raised the imagination till He made it faith. It was He who empowered the understanding till it could take in something of the grandness of the Almighty. There are none who teach like that Teacher, because He knows all things, — He knows, not the lesson only, but the learner, — He mingles His own spirit with your spirit, and places the thing He is going to teach in the very innermost recesses of your being. He fits the heart to the subject, and the subject to the heart. Hence the marvellous power and the singular sweetness there is when you sit under the Holy Spirit's teaching. For fifthly, where He teaches, there He sanctifies. There is never a good desire, but it is He who prompted it, and never a right thought, but it was He who imparted it. It is He who gives the higher motive, and makes the

heart begin to point to the glory of God. It is He who takes an affection, and purging away its dross, makes it unselfish first, and then heavenly. It is He who gives the old nature a nav form, and sends it along a new diannd

194 J^f^^ Seven Spirits. till He makes the whole old man new. It is He who gives the taste for spiritual thin^^s, and gradually prepares the mind fur the occupations and enjoyments of a higher world. There is no heaven till He has first created a heaven within you, and all glory will be but the perfecting of the Si)irit's grace. And yet there are two more offices which the Holy Spirit exercises in us. He is that Intercessor who *• mak(»th intercession for us with groanings which cannot l)e uttertxl." ot as Christ, who carries on His work without us, and prays for us in heaven, — but He, inwardly, thn)wing Himself into the soul of a man, and making His vi)ii*e heard in the inner places, prays; and all true prayer in a man is the prayer of the Holy Ghost. It is that whieh kimlles those earnest longings; it is that which guiiles (he thoughts according to the counsel of God; it is that wliieh i^miKnvers the faith to lay hold upon a promise; it is that which sustains expectation till the blessing comes. Sometimes in the longer prayer carefully drawTi out, — sometimes in the short ejaculation called forth by the emertieneies o{ a moment, — sometimes in the feeling that I an tind no lani^uage, — sometimes in the hushed, waiting,

deivndeni tVame,— it is He **who helps our infirmities, anvi makeih iniervvssion I'or us." lor reraomber. that all ^vnneciion between the soul and iivxi is in the Holy i»hv\<t. It is He who brings the spirit oj a ir.an in:o vvra:v.univ a:ion wi:h the Most High ; and up.Ioss iha; cv :r.mv^n Si^':r;t Ix* in God and in jxw, 3-0U can have no ir.:orvv;:rsk- wi:h heaven. And ><• o:\v R^^^^\ \i Iv'.c^ngs :o the Spirit to seal the soul whUh Ho has nvnv n^iie His temple. As some iM\>(>ru^tv>r vlvHi when he gxxs a\ra>\ and puts his mark

The Seven Spirits, 195 upon' his jewels, so the Holy Ghost fastens you to Christ, that nothing- may ever divide you. He lays on you that stamp with the name and th^ image of God, which every power in earth, or in heaven, or in hell shall recognise. He gives you a comforting assurance that you are a child of God, — He perfects His own work, and keeps you in your quiet confidence, — He makes in that soul a little sanctuary of peace and love, — a well-watered garden, which none shall hurt night and day, till Christ comes. This, brethren, this is ''the Seven Spirits which are before the throne;" and thank God, the "Seven "'are One, and the One is " Seven." Where He fulfils one of His blessed offices, — there, sooner or later. He will assuredly fulfil them all ; and all the parts harmonize together in the beautiful rangings, that they make one perfect unity. I have very barely sketched the mere names and outlines of the great Spirit's work. But oh ! brethren, pause a moment, — what a provision is here I What a marvel it is of God's grace that there should be an actual person, a living, present, infinite Being whom we cannot see, but who is always carrying on all these vast agencies within our souls ; who can and does bring the divine nature, and infuses it into our lower being; who can and does enter into our spirit, and transform, and enable, and elevate it for a perfectly holy, happy existence. What a fact, — while we are all together at this moment, — we are all carrying this

moment in us! — what an element of eternity! — ^what a treasure for a preacher to hold ! — ^what a responsibility for a man to incur! I marvel when I think of that oneness that there is between me and that throne of God, and that that Spirit that stands before that throne, is at this moment in my breast.

196 The Seven Spirits. Take occasion, by this anniversary, to look well to it, that through much cherishing, and by constant passing and re-passing from the throne to your soul, there is not a grace of " the Seven Spirits of God " which has not left a mark, an impress, a counterpart upon your heart, — a deepening conviction of sin, — a real personal acquaintance with the Lord your Saviour, — a true comforting, — a real understanding of God's truth, — a growing holiness in heart and life, — a prayerful mind everywhere, — and an humble assurance of a sealed peace and covenanted heaven.

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