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“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."-JOHN xiv.
I HAVE this morning, beloved people, a burden on me, and I know not how better to relieve myself of it than by laying it down in your midst. I would, however, that you, too, may have it may feel its weight,
, and know its meaning. It relates to the promised indwelling and assigned work within us of the Holy Spirit.
There are thousands, not unbelievers merely, but true Christians, who have never, with real Scriptural intelligence, looked to this. They do not, of course, deny the doctrine of the Spirit, nor do they designedly slight it; but not seeing it, they do not know it or enjoy it rightly. They take rank, as to their knowledge or experience, with such saved ones as the dying malefactor, who knew little or nothing as to the wondrous letter of the actual person of the Spirit, or of His
presence in us. This is truly a burden on one's soul. I repeat it,
I speak not now of the unconverted, for what can they know of the indwelling of God the Spirit within them ? but of saints, the disciples of the Lord Jesus, who yet need to learn what are the words of the Lord Jesus respecting it.
Did not the Lord say, not as a mere figure, or as a make-believe, but as a divine truth, a wondrous fact, that “He,” the Holy Spirit, whom He would send, “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you”? Mark, “ dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Wonderful word ! dwelleth, not as a mere truth, or principle, or influence—but Himself, personally, in us. Oh, who
—. can think of it with sufficient wonder ? and who can mourn too much over the darkness that yet beclouds it?
The question of the Holy Spirit, as it regards us, finds its root in John xiv., where the Lord said to His disciples, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” Could words be more simple, or more explicit ? The marvel is, how any one can escape their meaning He, the Lord, had been a comforter, but was about to withdraw from those whom He had comforted. He was about to go to His Father, and so be no more in person with them; but He would
the Father, who would give them another Comforter, who would be instead of Himself, and who would never leave them as did the Lord, but would “abide with them for ever.” Was this a new promise? If not new, the words of the Lord have no meaning. what different thoughts we ought to have of it, or of the truth it reveals
to those cherished in the old time by such saints as Eve, or Noah, or Abraham, or Isaiah, or David. Believe me, there was special meaning in this word of the departing Lord, that “ He shall abide with you for ever. To abide, does not mean a visitation merely, or an occasional indwelling. This other Comforter was not to be as a wayfaring man, or
one who tarried only for a night. He was to be no stranger friend, no mere visitor for an occasion, but a true resident-a constant guest. Oh, who of us knows this as we might, or duly marvels at the grace and love it displays!
The highest thought which some believers have of the Holy Ghost is, that He deals with them from afar, or that He works upon them from heaven. But no, it is not said, He shall abide in heaven, though He is in heaven, but “He shall abide with you ;” nay, that “He
: shall be in you.” The Lord's words show that there was to be, as it were, an exchange of places—that He who had been here was going to the Father, and that the Spirit, who was with the Father, was to take His place here with the Church, which exchange did occur at the ascension, and at Pentecost. Is it not in utter ignorance of this that not a few Christians are ever looking for some undefined impulse, or influence, or baptism, to come from afar-from heaven shall we say, supposing the Holy Ghost to be still there, not knowing or living in the power of the blessed words, “He shall be with you, and in you ;” and again, “ He shall abide with you for ever.”
Let us not be misunderstood. With the Church in the wilderness, and even after, as in the days of David, Solomon, and others, the Holy Ghost did so descend. The scene of His operations, as it is now with the ascended Lord, was in heaven. From heaven, therefore, He wrought His mighty deeds and wonders in the time of old. It was by the power of the Spirit that Sampson carried away the gates of Gaza; by the the same power David slew the lion and the bear. It was by the Spirit of God that Solomon had his wisdom; David, also, and all the prophets. But this promise brings in a new thing regarding the Spirit. The Lord, in person, was going away; the Spirit, in person, would come.
The Lord, in person, was going to pre
pare a home for his absent ones in the Father's house ; the Spirit would come here and possess a dwelling for Himself in the saints. The Lord knew His absence would be, or ought to be, a sorrow; the Spirit would abide with them, and be in them a Comforter. Oh!
do we know Him as such ? Does it give you sorrow that the Lord is now absent, and does it comfort you to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, that other Comforter, who is to abide with us for ever ? Alas ! many of us seem as if in this sense of Him we have scarcely heard if there be a Holy Ghost. Else why stand we gazing up into heaven, when the blessed ONE promised is already with us, and shall be in us ?
But, a step further. I need scarcely say, that these words are not now simply promise ; they have been fulfilled, and have accordingly become fact. Our natural normal state as saints is, that, whether we know it or not, we have the Spirit, and are to have Him for ever ; that He is with us, and shall be in us; that since His descent He has never been withdrawn, but is, and will be, always with us. As with a thousand other things, we may be but ill instructed in it, but the truth is so, and cannot be changed. As I have intimated, the knowledge of the dying thief on the cross must have been very limited. He knew not how to distinguish between the coming kingdom and paradise, yet was he a saved sinner, a child of God-nay, he was a son and heir; and on dying entered paradise, for which, in a moment of time, independent of all his own attainments, he was perfectly and eternally meet.
Thus is it with many truly saved souls, who, alas ! but imperfectly have thought of what Christ, in heaven, is doing for them, or what the blessed Paraclete, here, is doing in them. They are anxious, it may be, they strive, they labour, they groan. Yet may the striving, and the groaning be not self-born, but of the Spirit who is in them. The life in them which mourns over evil
longs after God—languishes for Christ, and holiness, and heaven-is a life not natural to them as carnal, but is of God, through His Spirit, who is in them. They may not know this as they ought. Yonder peasant, reaping in that harvest field, has natural life in him, yet he has been working for thirty or sixty years in the daily use of that principle, without ever giving it a thought. He is living in singular ignorance as to the power which enables his hand to reap the corn, and his arm to gather the sheaves to his bosom. It is the power which dwells—shall I say—specially in the head, that gives life to, and animates the whole body. Thus is it with Christ and His Church. But see a saint living on his knowledge of Christ, in whom he is complete, and with whom he is accounted by God as one, yet, oftentimes not knowing that the power which enables him to do so, is the power and presence of the Spirit of God who is in him. Beloved, one is burdened in soul at the thought, that there are believers of the nineteenth century who need to be brought back from where they are, as to this truth, to the calm first hour which saw it fall from the lips of the blessed Lord Jesus, “ And if I go, I will send another Comforter, who shall abide with you for ever."
And now, Jesus had said, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come;" accordingly, when He had gone
the Comforter came. He had commanded His disciples to “tarry at Jerusalem, until they were endued with power from on high.” The disciples did tarry at Jerusalem with “ one accord and one mind,” until at Pentecost the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they were “filled with the Holy Ghost.” It was at this early date, after the Lord ascended, that the Spirit came—came as He had said, not on a mere visitation, but to abide—" to abide with us, and in us, for
But how or wherefore came He? He came as a