Spurgeon Thursday

THE NECESSITY OF THE SPIRIT’S WORK
NO. 251
DELIVERED  ON SABBATH MORNING, MAY 8, 1859,
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE MUSIC HALL, ROYAL SURREY GARDENS.

“And I will put My Spirit within you.” Ezekiel 36:27.

THE miracles of Christ are remarkable for one fact, namely that they are, none of them, unnecessary. The pretended miracles of Mohammed and of the Church of Rome, even if they were miracles, would have been pieces of folly! Suppose that Saint Denis had walked with his head in his hand after it had been cut off—what practical purpose would have been served thereby? He would certainly have been quite as well in his grave, for any practical good he would have conferred on men! The miracles of Christ were never unnecessary. They are not freaks of power. They are displays of power, it is true, but they, all of them, have a practical end. The same thing may be said of the promises of God. We have not one promise in the Scripture which may be regarded as a mere freak of Grace. As every miracle was necessary, absolutely necessary, so is every promise that is given in the Word of God! And hence from the text that is before us, I may draw and I think very conclusively, the argument that if God in His Covenant made with His people has promised to put His Spirit within them, it must be absolutely necessary that this promise was made and it must be absolutely necessary, also, to our salvation that each of us should receive the Spirit of God! This shall be the subject of this morning’s discourse. I shall not hope to make it very interesting,  except to those who are anxiously longing to know the way of salvation.

We start, then, by laying down this proposition—that the work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to us, if we would be saved.

I. In endeavoring to prove this, I would first of all make the remark that this is very manifest if we remember what man is by nature. Some say that man may of himself attain unto salvation—that  if he hears the Word, it is in his power to receive it, to believe it and to have a saving change worked in him by it. To this we reply—you  do not know what man is by nature—otherwise  you would never have ventured upon such an assertion! Holy Scripture tells us that man by nature is dead in trespasses and sins. It does not say that he is sick, that he is faint, that he has grown callous and hardened and seared—it says he is absolutely dead! Whatever that term, “death,”  means in connection with the body, that it also means in connection with man’s soul—viewing it in its relation to spiritual things. When the body is dead, it is power- less; it is unable to do anything for itself. And when the soul of man is dead, in a spiritual  sense, it must be, if there is any meaning in the figure, utterly and entirely powerless and unable to do anything of itself or for itself! When you shall see dead men raising  themselves from their  graves; when you shall see them unwinding their own sheets, opening their own coffin lids and walking down our streets alive and animate as the result of their own power—then, perhaps, you may believe that souls that are dead in sin may turn to God, recreate their own natures and make themselves heirs of Heaven, though before they were heirs of wrath! But mark, not till then. The drift of the Gospel is that man is dead in sin and that Divine Life is God’s gift. And you must go contrary to the whole of that drift before you can suppose a man brought to know and love Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit finds men as destitute of spiritual life as Ezekiel’s dry bones. He brings bone to bone and fits the skeleton together  and then He comes from the four winds and breathes into the slain and they live and stand upon their feet—an  exceedingly great army—and  worship God! But apart  from that, apart from the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God, men’s souls must lie in the valley of dry bones, dead and dead forever!

But Scripture does not only tell us that man is dead in sin; it tells us something worse than this, namely, that he is ut- terly and entirely averse to everything that is good and right. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not sub- ject to the Law of God, neither, indeed, can it be” (Rom 8:7). Turn all through Scripture and you find continually the will of man described as being contrary to the things of God. What did Christ say in that text so often quoted by the Arminian to disprove the very Doctrine which it clearly states? What did Christ say to those who imagined that men would come without  Divine influence? He said, first, “No man can come unto Me except the Father  which has sent Me draw him.” But He said something more strong—“You  will not come unto Me that you might have life.” No man will come! Here lies the deadly mischief—not only that he is powerless to do good—but that he is powerful enough to do that which is wrong and that his will is desperately set against everything that is right! Go, Arminian, and tell your hearers that they will come if they please, but know that your Redeemer looks you in the face and tells you that you are uttering a lie! Men will not come! They never will come of themselves! You cannot  persuade them to come! You cannot force them to come by all your thunders,  nor can you entice them to come by all your invitations! They will not come to Christ, that they may have life! Until the Spirit draws them, they neither will come, nor can they!

Hence, then, from the fact that man’s nature is hostile to the Divine Spirit; that he hates Divine Grace; that he despises the way in which Grace is brought  to him; that it is contrary to his own proud nature to stoop to receive salvation by the deeds of another—hence it is necessary that the Spirit of God should operate to change the will, to correct the bias of the heart, to set man in a right track and then give him strength to run in it. Oh, if you read man and understand him, you cannot help being sound on the point of the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work! It has been well remarked by a great writer that he never knew a man who held any great theological error, who did not also hold a doctrine which diminished the depravity of man. The Arminian  says man is fallen, it is true, but then he has power of will left and that will is free. He can raise himself! He diminishes the desperate character of the Fall of man. On the other hand, the Antinomian says man cannot do anything, but that he is not at all responsible and is not bound to do it—it is not his duty to believe—it is not his duty to repent! Thus, you see, he also diminishes the sinfulness of man and has wrong views of the Fall. But once get the correct view—that man is utterly fallen, powerless, guilty, defiled, lost, condemned—and you will be sound on all points of the great Gospel of Jesus Christ! Once believe man to be what Scripture  says he is—once believe his heart to be depraved, his affections perverted, his understanding  darkened, his will perverse—and  you must hold that if such a wretch as that is saved, it must be the work of the Spirit of God and of the Spirit of God alone!

II. I have another proof. Salvation must be the work of the Spirit in us because the means used in salvation are, of themselves, inadequate for the accomplishment of the work. And what are the means of salvation? Why, first and fore- most stands the preaching of the Word of God! More men are brought  to Christ by preaching than by anything else—for it is God’s chief and first instrument.  This is the sword of the Spirit,  quick and powerful, to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow. “It pleases God, by the foolishness of preaching  to save them who believe.” But what is there in preaching, by which souls are saved, that looks as if it would be the means of saving souls? I could point you to many Churches and Chapels into which you might step and say, “Here is a learned minister, indeed, a man who would instruct and enlighten the intellect.” You sit down and you say, “Well, if God means to work a great work, He will use a learned man like this.” But do you know any learned men who are made the means of bringing souls to Christ, to any great degree? Go round your Churches, if you please, and look at them and then answer the question! Do you know any great men—men great in learning and wisdom—who have become spiritual  fathers in our Israel? Is it not a fact that stares us in the face that  our fashionable  preachers,  our eloquent  preachers,  our learned  preachers  are the most useless men in creation for the winning of souls to Christ? And where are souls born to God? Why, in the house around which the jeer and the scoff and the sneer of the world have long gathered!  Sinners are converted under the man whose eloquence is rough and homely and who has nothing to commend him to his fellows—who has daily to fall on his knees and confess his own folly—and  when the world speaks worst of him, feels that he deserves it all since he is nothing  but an earthen  vessel in which God is pleased to put His heavenly treasure!

I will dare to say it, that in every age of the world the most despised ministry has been the most useful! And I could find you at this day poor Primitive Methodist preachers who can scarcely speak correct English, who have been the fa- thers of more souls and have brought to Christ more than any one bishop on the bench! Why, the Lord has been pleased always to make it so, that He will clothe with power the weak and the foolish—but He will not clothe with power those who, if good were done, might be led to ascribe the excellence of the power to their learning, their eloquence, or their position! Like the Apostle Paul, it is every minister’s business to glory in his infirmities! The world says, “Pshaw upon your oratory! It is rough and rude and eccentric.” Yes, ‘tis even so, but we are content,  for God blesses it! So then, so much the better that it has infirmities in it—for now it is plainly seen that it is not of man or by man, but the work of God and of God alone! It is said that once upon a time a man exceedingly curious desired to see the sword with which a mighty hero had fought some desperate battles. Casting his eye along the blade, he said, “Well, I don’t see much in this sword.” “No,”  said the hero, “but you have not examined the arm that wields it.” And so when men come to hear a successful minister,  they are apt to say, “I do not see anything  in him.”  No, but you have not examined the eternal arm that reaps its harvest with this sword of the Spirit! If you had looked at the jawbone of the ass in Samson’s hand, you would have said, “What? Heaps on heaps with this! No—bring  out some polished blade—bring  forth the Damascus steel!” NO! God must have all the Glory and, therefore, not with polished steel, but with the jawbone must Samson get the victory!

So with ministers—God has usually blessed the weakest to do the most good. Well, now, does it not follow from this that it must be the work of the Spirit? Because if there is nothing  in the instrument that can do it, is it not the work of the Spirit when the thing is accomplished? Under the ministry dead souls are quickened, sinners are made to repent, the vilest of sinners are made holy, men who came determined not to believe are compelled to believe! Now, who does this? If you say the ministry does it, then I say farewell to your reason because there is nothing  in the successful ministry which would warrant it! It must be that the Spirit works in man through the ministry or else such deeds would never be accomplished. You might as well expect to raise the dead by whispering in their ears, as hope to save souls by preaching  to them, if it were not for the agency of the Spirit! Melancthon went out to preach, you know, without the Spirit of the Lord and he thought he would convert all the people. But he found out at last that old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon and he had to go back and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit before he saw a soul saved! I say that the fact that the ministry is blessed proves, since there is nothing in the ministry, that salvation must be the work of a higher power!

Other means, however, are made use of to bless men’s souls. For instance, the two ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They are both made a rich means of Grace. But let me ask you, is there anything in Baptism that can possibly bless anybody? Can immersion in water have the slightest tendency to be blessed to the soul? And then with regard to the eating of bread and the drinking of wine at the Lord’s Supper—can it by any means be conceived by any rational man that there is anything in the mere piece of bread that we eat, or in the wine that we drink? And yet, doubtless, the Grace of God does go with both ordinances for the confirming of the faith of those who receive them and even for the conversion of those who look upon the ceremony! There must be something, then, beyond the outward  ceremony. There must, in fact, be the Spirit of God witnessing through the water; witnessing through the wine; witnessing through the bread, or otherwise none of these things could be means of Grace to our souls. They could not edify. They could not help us to commune with Christ. They could not tend to the conviction of sinners, or to the establishment of saints. There must, then, from these facts, be a higher, unseen, mysterious influence—the influence of the Divine Spirit of God!

III. Let me again remind you, in the third place, that the absolute necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart may be clearly seen from this fact—that all which has been done by God the Father and all that has been done by God the Son would be ineffectual to us unless the Spirit shall reveal these things to our souls. We believe, in the first place, that God the Father  elects His people from before all worlds. He chooses them to Himself. But let me ask you— what effect does the Doctrine of Election have upon any man until the Spirit of God enters into him? How do I know whether God has chosen me from before the foundation of the world? How can I possibly know? Can I climb to Heaven and read the roll? Is it possible for me to force my way through the thick mists which hide eternity and open the seven seals of the Book and read my name recorded there? Ah, no—election  is a dead letter both in my consciousness and in any effect which it can produce upon me until the Spirit of God calls me out of darkness into the marvelous Light of God! And then, through  my calling, I see my election and, knowing  myself to be called of God, I know myself to have been chosen of God from before the foundation of the world! It is a precious thing—that  Doctrine of Election—to a child of God. But what makes it precious? Nothing but the influence of the Spirit!  Until  the Spirit  opens the eyes to read; until the Spirit imparts the mystic secret—no heart can know its election! No angel ever revealed to any man that he was chosen of God—but  the Spirit does it! He, by His Divine workings, bears an Infallible Witness with our spirits that we are born of God. And then we are enabled to, “read our title clear to mansions in the skies.”

Look, again, at the Everlasting Covenant. We know that there was a Covenant made with the Lord Jesus Christ by His Father from before all worlds and that in this Covenant the persons of all His people were given to Him and were secured. But of what use, or of what use is the Covenant to us, until the Holy Spirit brings the blessings of the Covenant to us? The Covenant is, as it were, a holy tree laden with fruit. If the Spirit does not shake that tree and make the fruit fall—until it comes to the level of our standing—how  can we receive it? Bring here any sinner and tell him there is a Covenant of Grace—what  is his advantage from knowing this? “Ah,”  he says, “I may not be included in it. My name may not be recorded there. I may not be chosen in Christ.” But let the Spirit of God dwell in his heart richly by faith and love which is in Christ Jesus and that man sees the Covenant,  ordered  in all things  and sure, and he cries with David,  “It is all my salvation and all my desire!”

Take, again, the Redemption of Christ. We know that Christ stood in the place of all His people and that all those who shall appear in Heaven will appear there as an act of Justice as well as of Grace—seeing that Christ was punished in their place and that it would have been unjust if God punished them, too—seeing that He had punished Christ for them! We believe because Christ paid all their debts, they have a right to their freedom in Christ—that  Christ having covered them with His righteousness—they are entitled to eternal life as much as if they had themselves been perfectly holy. But of what use is this to me, until the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows them to me? What is Christ’s blood to any of you until you have received the Spirit of Grace? You have heard the minister preach about the blood of Christ a thousand times, but you passed by. It was nothing to you that Jesus should die. You know that He atoned for sins that were not His own, but you only regarded it as a tale—perhaps  even an idle tale. But when the Spirit of God led you to the Cross and opened your eyes and enabled you to see Christ Crucified, ah, then there was something in the blood, in- deed! When His hand dipped the hyssop in the blood and when it applied that blood to your spirit, then there was a joy and peace in believing such as you had never known before! But ah, my Hearer, Christ’s dying is nothing  to you unless you have a living Spirit within you! Christ brings you no advantage—saving, personal or lasting—unless the Spirit of God has baptized you in the fountain filled with His blood and washed you from head to foot!

I only mention these few, out of the many blessings of the Covenant, to prove that they are, none of them, of any use to us unless the Holy Spirit gives them to us. There hang the blessings on the Nail—on  the Nail, Christ Jesus. But we are short of stature. We cannot reach them. The Spirit of God takes them down and gives them to us and there they are— they are ours! It is like the manna in the skies, far out of mortal reach. But the Spirit of God opens the windows of Heaven, brings down the bread and puts it to our lips and enables us to eat. Christ’s blood and righteousness are like wine stored in the wine vat. But we cannot get there. The Holy Spirit dips our vessel into this precious wine and then we drink. But without the Spirit,  we must die and perish—though  elected by the Father  and redeemed by the Son—as though the Father had never elected us and though the Son had never bought us with His blood! The Spirit is absolutely necessary. Without  Him neither the works of the Father,  nor of the Son are of any use to us!

IV. This brings us to another  point.  The experience of the true Christian is a reality; but it never can be known and felt without the Spirit of God. For what is the experience of the Christian? Let me just give a brief picture of some of its scenes. There is a person come into this hall this morning—one of the most reputable men in London.  He has never committed himself in any outward  vice. He has never been dishonest. He is known as a staunch, upright tradesman. Now, to his astonishment, he is informed that he is a condemned, lost sinner and just as surely lost as the thief who died for his crimes upon the cross! Do you think that man will believe it? Suppose, however, that he does believe it simply because he reads it in the Bible? Do you think that man will ever be made to feel it? I know you say, “Impossible!” Some of you, even now, perhaps, are saying, “Well, I never should!” Can you imagine that honorable, upright tradesman, saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner”?—standing side by side with the harlot and the swearer and feeling in his own heart as if he had been as guilty as they were and using just the same prayer and saying, “Lord,  save me, or I perish”? You cannot conceive it, can you? It is contrary to nature that a man who has been so good as he should put himself down among the chief of sinners! Ah, but that must be done before he will be saved—he must feel that before he can enter Heaven! Now, I ask, who can bring him to such a leveling experience as that but the Spirit of God? You know very well, proud nature will not stoop to it. We are all aristocrats in our own righteousness. We do not like to bend down and come among common sinners. If we are brought  there, it must be the Spirit of God who casts us to the ground! Why, I know if anyone had told me that I would ever cry to God for mercy and confess that I had been the vilest of the vile, I would have laughed in their face! I would have said, “Why I have not done anything particularly wrong. I have not hurt anybody.” And yet I know this very day I can take my place upon the lowest form—and  if I can get inside Heaven I shall feel happy to sit among the chief of sinners and praise that Almighty Love which has saved even me from my sins!

Now, what works this humiliation of heart? Divine Grace! It is contrary to nature for an honest and an upright man, in the eyes of the world,  to feel himself a lost sinner—it  must be the Holy Spirit’s work, or else it will never be done! Well, after a man has been brought  here, can you conceive that man at last conscience-stricken and led to believe that his past life deserves the wrath  of God? His first thought would be, “Well, now, I will live better than I have ever lived.” He would say, “Now I will try and play the hermit and pinch myself here and there and deny myself and do penance. And in that way, by paying attention to the outward ceremonies of religion, together  with a high moral character, I doubt not I shall blot out whatever slurs and stains there have been!” Can you suppose that man brought at last to feel that if ever he gets to Heaven, he will have to get there through the righteousness of Another? “Through the righteousness of another?” he says, “I don’t want to be rewarded for what another man does—not I! If I go there, I will go there and take my chances. I will go there through what I do myself. Tell me something to do and I will do it! I will be proud to do it, however humiliating it may be, so that I may at last win the love and esteem of God.”  Now, can you conceive such a man as that brought to feel that he can do nothing? That good man, as he thinks himself—he cannot do anything whatever to merit God’s love and favor? And, if he goes to Heaven, he must go through  what Christ did? Just the same as the drunkard must go there through the merits of Christ, so this moral man must enter into life, having nothing about him but Christ’s perfect righteousness  and being washed in the blood of Jesus! We say that  this is so contrary  to human nature, so diametrically opposed to all the instincts of our poor fallen humanity, that nothing but the Spirit of God can ever bring a man to strip himself of all self-righteousness and of all creature strength  and compel him to rest and lean simply and wholly upon Jesus Christ, the Savior!

These two experiences would be sufficient to prove the necessity of the Holy Spirit to make a person a Christian. Let me now describe a Christian as he is after his conversion. Trouble comes—storms of trouble—but  he looks the tempest in the face and says, “I know that all things work together for my good.” His children die; the partner of his bosom is carried to the grave. He says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”  His farm fails, his crop is blighted.  His business prospects are clouded—all  seem to go and he is left in poverty—he  says, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  You see him next laid upon a sick bed, himself, and when he is there, he says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, for before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept Your Word.” You see him approaching,  at last, the dark Valley of the Shadow of Death and you hear him cry, “Yes, though I walk through  the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me, and You Your- self are with me.” Now, I ask you, what makes this man calm in the midst of all these varied trials and personal troubles, if it is not the Spirit of God? O, you who doubt the influence of the Spirit, produce the like without Him! Go and die as Christians die and live as they live and if you can show the same calm resignation,  the same quiet joy and the same firm belief that adverse things shall, nevertheless, work together for good, then we may be, perhaps, at liberty to resign the point—but not till then! The high and noble experience of a Christian in times of trial and suffering proves that there must be the operation of the Spirit of God!

But look at the Christian, too, in his joyous moments. He is rich. God has given him all his heart’s desire on earth. Look at him—he says, “I do not value these things at all, except as they are the gifts of God. I sit loose by them all and, notwithstanding  this house and home and all these comforts, ‘I am willing to depart and be with Christ, which is far bet- ter.’ It is true, I need nothing here on earth, but still I feel that to die would be gain to me, even though I left all these.” He holds earth loosely. He does not grasp it with a tight hand, but looks upon it all as dust—a  thing which is to pass away. He takes but little pleasure therein, saying—

“I’ve no abiding city here,

I seek a City out of sight.”

Mark that man—he has plenty of room for pleasures in this world—but  he drinks out of a higher cistern. His pleasure springs from things unseen. His happiest moments are when he can shut all these good things out and when he can come to God as a poor guilty sinner and come to Christ  and enter  into  fellowship  with Him and rise into  nearness of access and confidence and boldly approach to the Throne of heavenly Grace! Now, what is it that keeps a man who has all these mercies, from setting his heart upon the earth? This is a wonder, indeed, that a man who has gold and silver and flocks and herds, should not make these his god, but that he should still say—

“There’s nothing round this spacious earth

That suits my large desire.

To boundless joy and solid mirth

My nobler thoughts aspire.”

These are not his treasure—his  treasure is in Heaven and only in Heaven! What can do this? No mere moral virtue. No doctrine of the stoic ever brought a man to such a pass as this! No, it must be the work of the Spirit and the work of the Spirit, alone, that can lead a man to live in Heaven, while there is a temptation  to him to live on earth! I do not wonder that a poor man looks forward to Heaven. He has nothing to look upon on earth! When there is a thorn in the nest—I do not wonder that the lark flies up, for there is no rest for him below. When you are beaten and chafed by trouble,  no wonder you say—

“Jerusalem! My happy home!

Name ever dear to me!

When shall my labors have an end, In joy and peace and thee?”

But the greatest wonder is, if you line the Christian’s nest ever so softly; if you give him all the mercies of this life, you still cannot keep him from saying—

“To Jesus, the crown of my hope,

My soul is in haste to be gone! Oh bear me, you cherubim, up,

And waft me away to His Throne!”

V. And now, last of all, the acts, the acceptable acts of the Christian’s life cannot be performed without the Spirit. And hence, again, the necessity for the Spirit of God. The first act of the Christian’s life is repentance. Have you ever tried to repent? If so, if you tried without the Spirit of God, you know that to urge a man to repent without the promise of the Spirit to help him is to urge him to do an impossibility! A rock might as soon weep and a desert might as soon blossom, as a sinner repent of his own accord! If God should offer Heaven to man simply upon the terms of repentance of sin, Heaven would be as impossible as it is by good works! A man can no more repent of himself, than he can perfectly keep God’s Law. Repentance involves the very principle of perfect obedience to the Law of God. It seems to me that in repentance there is the whole Law solidified and condensed. And if a man can repent of himself, then there is no need of a Savior—he might as well go to Heaven up the steep sides of Sinai at once.

Faith is the next act in the Divine life. Perhaps you think faith very easy. But if you are ever brought  to feel the bur- den of sin, you would not find it quite so light a labor. If you are ever brought into a deep mire where there is no stand- ing, it is not so easy to put your feet on a rock, when the rock does not seem to be there. I find faith the easiest thing in the world when there is nothing to believe! But when I have room and exercise for my faith, then I do not find I have so much strength to accomplish it. Talking one day with a countryman, he used this figure—“In  the middle of winter I sometimes think how well I could mow. And in early spring I think, oh, how I would like to reap. I feel ready for it. But when mowing time comes and when reaping time comes, I find I have not strength to spare.” So when you have no troubles, couldn’t you mow them down at once? When you have no work to do, couldn’t you do it? But when work and trouble come, you soon find how difficult it is. Many Christians are like the stag who talked to itself, and said, “Why should I run away from the dogs? Look what a fine pair of horns  I’ve got and look what heels I’ve got, too. I might do these hounds some mischief. Why not let me stand and show them what I can do with my antlers? I can keep off any quantity  of dogs.” No sooner did the dogs bark, than off the stag went! So with us. “Let sin arise,” we say, “we will soon rip it up and destroy it. Let trouble come, we will soon get over it.” But when sin and trouble come, we then find what our weakness is! Then we have to cry for the help of the Spirit; and through  Him we can do all things, though  without  Him we can do nothing at all!

In all the acts of the Christian’s life, whether it is the act of consecrating  one’s self to Christ, or the act of daily pray- er, or the act of constant submission, or preaching the Gospel, or ministering to the necessities of the poor,  or comforting the desponding—in all these the Christian finds his weakness and his powerlessness—unless he is clothed about with the Spirit of God! Why, I have been to see the sick at times and I have thought how I would like to comfort them—and I could not get a word out that was worth their hearing, or worth my saying—and  my soul has been in agony to be the means of comforting the poor, sick, desponding Brother! But I could do nothing and I came out of the chamber and half wished I had never been to see a sick person in my life, I had so learned my own folly. So has it been full often in preaching. You get a sermon up, study it, and come and make the greatest  mess of it that can possibly be. Then you say, “I wish I had never preached at all.” All this is to show us that neither in comforting nor in preaching can one do anything right, unless the Spirit works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure! Everything, moreover, that we do without the Spirit is unacceptable to God! And whatever we do under His influence, however we may despise it—it is not despised of God—for He never despises His own work and the Spirit never can look upon what He works in us with any other view than that of complacency and delight! If the Spirit helps me to groan, then God must accept the groaner! If you could pray the best prayer in the world without the Spirit, God would have nothing to do with it. But if your prayer is broken and lame and limping—if  the Spirit made it—God will look upon it and say, as He did upon the works of Creation, “It is very good.” And He will accept it.

And now let me conclude by asking this question. My Hearer, have you the Spirit of God in you? You have some religion, most of you, I dare say. Well, of what kind is it? Is it a homemade article? Did you make yourself what you are? Then, if so, you are a lost person up to this moment! If, my Hearer, you have gone no further than you have walked your- self, you are not yet on the road to Heaven! You have got your face turned  the wrong way! If you have received some- thing which neither flesh nor blood could reveal to you; if you have been led to do the very things which you once hated and to love the things which you once despised—and to despise that on which your heart and your pride were once set— then, Soul, if this is the Spirit’s work, rejoice! For where He has begun the good work, He will carry it on! And you may know whether it is the Spirit’s work by this—have you been led to Christ and away from self? Have you been led away from all feelings, from all doings, from all willings, from all praying as the ground of your trust and your hope? And have you been brought naked to rely upon the finished work of Christ? If so, this is more than human nature ever taught any man! This is a height to which human nature never climbed! The Spirit of God has done this and He will never leave what He has once begun! You shall go from strength to strength and you shall stand among the blood-washed throng, at last, complete in Christ and accepted in the Beloved!

But if you have not the Spirit of Christ, you are none of His. May the Spirit lead you to your chamber to weep, to re- pent and to look to Christ and may you now have a Divine Life implanted, which neither time nor eternity shall be able to destroy! God hear this prayer and send us away with a blessing, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Comments are closed.