WHIT SU DAY. REV. G. ECKPORD GULL B.A.
O God, forasmuch as wit/tout Thee we are not able to please T/tee ; Mercifully grant, that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. I Cor. II. II, 12. " What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him ? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. ow we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things tJiat are freely given to us of God.'' THE great seasons and days of the Christian year are all very important to us. There is not one of them that we can let pass by with little thought without being losers by doing so. For it is one of their chief uses to stir up within us fresh feelings about the events they celebrate, feelings that will not pass away with them, but multiply year by year until our hearts are rich with practical truth about the great facts of our salvation. We have now come to the day that celebrates an event which we ought never to forget ; an event we cannot afford to forget ; the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, on the Day of Pentecost. But perhaps we lose sight of this event more readily than of any of the other events of the Christian year. There are many who keep constantly in mind the facts of the life of our Saviour — ^whose daily hope springs from His death and
46 WHIT SU DA V. resurrection, and whose faith in their ascended Lord leads them to fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil, in expectation of His appearing, who yet while they are helped by the Holy Ghost thus to live, are not mindful enough of that gracious Spirit whose aid they depend upon. And how many more are there, brethren, who would live much nearer to Christ than they do if they thought more of the presence of the Holy Ghost given to help them. Do not most of us feel whenever we turn our thoughts to the subject of today, that it is one we are very apt to forget, although we may have had some sense of its importance ? If to-day we can find out some of the reasons why we become unmindful of the presence of the Holy Ghost, we may do something by His aid to remove them. , Perhaps one reason is the following : — ^We are told very plainly that the Holy Ghost has come, and that He abides with the Church for ever, and yet we often pray that the Holy Ghost may come. This difficulty perplexes our minds, and has the effect of leaving them in doubt as to whether the Holy Ghost is with us or not. Then another reason is : We cannot be quite clear in what sense the Holy Ghost came on the Day of Pentecost, because it is told us that He was in the world long before that, and that the Old-Testament saints were guided by Him. It will be seen that there is a likeness between these two difficulties. The Holy Ghost was with
the Old-Testament Saints, and yet had afterwards to come on the Day of Pentecost ; and the Holy Ghost is with us and yet we pray that He may come to us. ow our text, brethren, ought to clear away both
THE SPIRIT OF GOD. 47 these difficulties, and at the same time give us a clear understanding of the nature of the work of the Holy Ghost. Our first aim will be to understand our text. " What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him ? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." In other words, as the spirit of man reveals a man and human things to himself, and no one can know those things but the possessor of that spirit, so can no one know God and Divine things but he who possesses the Spirit of God. The Apostle is speaking of how Divine things may be known by man, and says it is thus : As man knows human things by his human spirit and they can 6nly be known so, so man must know Divine things by the Spirit of God, and it is by that Spirit alone man can know them. ow we shall not be stepping beyond the bounds of the Apostle's meaning if we trace his words yet further. We may ask, " What do we know about the way in which the spirit of man reveals to man human things ?" ot much, it may be said ; yet we know something ; we know a few facts which will be enough for our purpose.
We know that it is the possession of a spirit that makes man different from the lower animals. Man's spirit makes him conscious of himself, able to reflect and reason. The outward things of this world have more meaning to him than they have to the brutes. Man, like other animals, eats and drinks, and sleeps, and works, and mixes with his fellows ; but man finds in all these things very much more than any other animal. He can think and feel about all these things long before he does them and long after they are done, as well as at the time. And,
48 WHIT SU DAY, above all, he can be conscious of himself as doing them. Man becomes conscious of outward things and of himself in such a way that there is developed in him what we call reason and feeling. And in connection with reason and feeling there is a conscious self-determining will. So that besides the life lived by other animals man lives a life peculiar to himself, a higher kind of life, a life in which thoughts and feelings about things form an inner world of consciousness, and yet a world so connected with the outward world of fact that the inner world may be true or false as it agrees or disagrees with outward realities. ow this inner world of consciousness which raises man above the brute belongs to man's spirit. It is the spirit of man by which he knows him-
self, and can reason, and feel, and make up his mind about what he shall say and do. It is the spirit of man which is in him that knoweth the things of a man, and such things cannot be known except by man's spirit. Evert so, St. Paul says, the things of God can only be known by those who are possessed of the Spirit of God. The point in this comparison we wish especially to mark now is that as man's spirit depends upon outward facts, in order to teach him to reason, and feel, and will, so we may also say the Holy Ghost uses outward facts in revealing to man Divine things. In other words, the Holy Ghost reveals Divine things to man by means of outward facts, appealing to an inner consciousness. The spirit of man causes him to reason and feel about outward things and about truths learnt from them, and causes him to desire and will certain things in consequence. Just so the Spirit of God causes man to reason
THE SPIRIT OF GOD. 49 and feel about Divine facts and about truths learnt from them, and causes him to be filled with holy desires and a right will in consequence. And now we can see why the Holy Spirit came in a special way on the Day of Pentecost, although he had been long before in the world. The reason is, that when our Saviour had wrought out the great facts upon which our salvation depended, tiiere was so much more for the Holy Spirit to bring home to men that it was as though He were beginning a new work and had never been in the
world before. Let us trace some of the indications we have of the Holy Spirit's work before the Day of Pentecost, and then see how that work was changed after that day. Before the Flood the Lord said : " My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh." Elihu, in the Book of Job, said : " There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding." We are told that the Spirit of God came on Balaam and came on Saul when they prophesied. In Isaiah we read how the house of Israel had rebelled against the Lord, had " vexed His Holy Spirit." David, in the fifty-first Psalm, prayed : " Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me" — which shows (we may remark in passing) that David, after his great sin, had a clearer sense of the presence of the Holy Ghost with him under the Old Covenant than many good Christian people have of the Spirit's presence with them now. Further, we are told in the ew Testament that in several places where God spoke to men in the Old Testament, it was the Holy Ghost who spoke to them, and St. Peter says of the Old Testament writings that they were the productions of holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost
50 WHIT SU DAY. Besides all this, during our Lord's life on earth we hear of the presence of the Holy Ghost among men. Our Lord's words show this : " If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him."
Again, to the disciples our Lord said about the promised Comforter, " He dwelleth with you j " and on another occasion, "He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." It is very clear then that the Holy Ghost had been at work among men from the beginning of the world. In what sense, then, was He differently among men after the day of Pentecost ? We shall see presently that He then came in a special manner ; but apart from that particular coming His work was in the nature of things changed from that time forth. Just as the spirit of man reveals human things to him by means of outward facts, so does the Holy Ghost reveal Divine things. The Holy Ghost, after our blessed Lord's ascension, could bring home to men's hearts and minds the meaning of the facts of our Lord's life and death. Before our Lord had done those things upon which our salvation depended, that salvation could . not be brought home to men by the Holy Ghost, but when men knew the facts of our redemption, then the Holy Ghost convinced them of the meaning of them. The Gospel is made the power of God to salvation by the Holy Ghost bringing home to men's reason and feelings the facts of the Gospel, so that they see the meaning of the facts and their bearing upon themselves, and thus their wills are changed from wrong to right. And this is borne out by what our Lord said the work of the promised Comforter would be : " When He is come. He will convince the world of 5in, of righteousness, and of judgment : of sin because
THE SPIRIT OF GOD. 51 they believe not on Me ; of righteousness because I go to the Father and ye see Me no more ; of judgment because the Prince of this World is judged." When He is come, " He will guide you into all truth ; " " He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you." So that the work of the Holy Ghost is clearly to bring home to men the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ. But besides the changed character of the work of the Holy Ghost in the world after the Day of Pentecost, there was a special coming of the Holy Ghost at that time. We are not able to understand all that is meant .by the words, " Proceeding from the Father and the Son," or how it is that the Holy Ghost came and comes to men ; but perhaps we may compare it to the way in which light comes to us from the sun ; it is always coming and yet is always here : we can never say, " It is here, and therefore it need not come ;" but while we enjoy its blessings we stand in need of its constant renewal. It should not be forgotten that there is a sense in which the Holy Ghost did not come once and for all to the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, for we read in the fourth of Acts that He came in a like manner to the same people a second time, " And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." We have read today how the Holy Ghost afterwards came down on the Gentiles as on the Apostles at the beginning. Yet our Lord said that when the Comforter was come He should abide with us for ever.
We must, therefore, avoid two opposite errors in our thoughts about the Holy Ghost. On the one hand we must never allow ourselves to seek His aid as if He were not already with us, and on the other hand; we must not think that because He is with
52 WHIT SU DAY. • us it is unscriptural to ask that He may come to us from above. He is with us : we have the " fellowship of the Holy Ghost;" He is present, and " helps our infirmities," for He " makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered," and " if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His." And yet by realizing that the Holy Ghost is constantly coming to us from heaven, we gain more than we should otherwise have, because He proceeds constantly from the Father and the Son ; through Him our fellowship is not only with Him, but truly our fellowship is with the Father and the Son. By the Holy Ghost who comes down from heaven our hearts are raised to heaven, and while we thus learn to desire what God has promised, the same Holy Spirit helps us to love what God has commanded. Brethren, we surely ought to feel more than we often do our dependence on the Holy Ghost, and we ought also to rely more on His aid. Let us not forget that He is with us. Unless He were, we should know nothing at all about Divine things. If we want to know more about Divine things and feel their power more, let us pray earnestly that the Holy Ghost who is with us would
more fully come to us and enlighten us for Christ's sake. God, Who as at this time didst teach the hearts of Thy faithful peopky by the sending to them the light of Thy Holy Spirit ; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things^ and evermore to rejoce in His holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour ^ who liveth and reigneih with TheCy in the unity of the sapie Spirit^ one God^ world without end. Amen.
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