And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
~ Romans 5:5, Romans 8:26-27, Romans 15:13
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
~ Colossians 3:3-5, Romans 8:13
The Personality of the Holy Spirit, by Charles Spurgeon.
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 14:16-17
You will be surprised to hear me announce that I do not intend this morning to say anything about the Holy Spirit as the Comforter. I plan to reserve that for a special sermon this evening. In this discourse I will endeavour to explain and emphasise certain other doctrines, which I believe are clearly taught in this text, and which I hope God the Holy Spirit may make profitable to our souls. Old John Newton once said, that there were some books which he could not read—they were good and sound enough; but, he said, “they are penny books—you have to take in so much quantity before you have any value; there are other books of silver, and others of gold; but I have one book that is a book of bank notes; and every page is a bank-note of immense value.” It is the same way with this text: I have a bank-note of so large a sum that I can not begin to express all of its meaning this morning. I would have to keep you for several hours before I could unfold to you the entire worth of this precious promise—one of the last which Christ gave to his people.
I invite your attention to this passage because we will find in it some instruction on four points:
1. First, concerning the personality of the Holy Spirit.
2. Secondly, concerning the united agency of the glorious three persons of the Trinity in the work of our salvation.
3. Thirdly we will find something to establish the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the souls of all believers.
4. Fourthly, we will examine the reason why the carnal mind rejects the Holy Spirit.
I. First of all, we will discuss the personality of the Holy Spirit.
We are so accustomed to talk about the influence of the Holy Spirit and his sacred operations and graces, that we are apt to forget that the Holy Spirit is truly and actually a person—that he is an actual life—an existence; or, as we Trinitarians usually say, one person in the essence of the Godhead. But I am afraid that, though we don’t know it, we have acquired the habit of regarding the Holy Spirit as an divine emanation flowing from the Father and the Son, but not as being actually a person himself. I know it is not easy to carry around in our mind the idea of the Holy Spirit as a person. I can think of the Father as a person, because his actions are such that I can understand. I see him hang the world in space; I observe him wrapping the newly created ocean in darkness; I know it is he who formed the drops of hail, who determined the number of the stars and calls them each by name. I can conceive of Him as a person, because I see his actions.
I can comprehend Jesus, the Son of Man, as a real person, because he is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It takes no great stretch of my imagination to picture the babe in Bethlehem, or to behold the “Man of sorrows acquainted with grief,” (KJV) or the king of martyrs, as he was persecuted in Pilate’s hall, or nailed to the cross for our sins. Nor do I find it difficult at times to realise the person of my Jesus sitting on his throne in heaven; or clothed with clouds and wearing the crown of all creation, calling the earth to judgment, and summoning us to hear our final sentence. But when I come to deal with the Holy Spirit, his actions are so mysterious, his activities are so secret, his works are so removed from everything that is familiar to our mind and body, that I cannot easily grasp the idea of him being a person; but he is a person. God the Holy Spirit is not an influence, not an emanation, not a stream of something flowing from the Father; but he is as much an actual person as either God the Son, or God the Father. I will attempt this morning to establish a little of the doctrine, and to show you the truth of it – that God the Holy Spirit is actually a person.
1. The first proof that the Holy Spirit is a real person is gathered from the waters of holy baptism.
Let me take you down, as I have taken others, into the baptismal waters where believers publicly confess the name of the Lord Jesus, and you will hear me pronounce the solemn words, “I baptise you in the name,” – note, I said, “in the name,” not names – “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Every one who is baptised according to the true form laid down in Scripture, must believe in the Trinity: otherwise his baptism is a farce and a lie, and he himself is found to be a deceiver and a hypocrite before God. Just as the Father is mentioned, and just as the Son is mentioned, so also is the Holy Spirit mentioned; and all three are summed up as being a Trinity in unity, because it does not say, the “names,” but the “name” the glorious name, the Jehovah name, “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Let me remind you that the same thing occurs each time you are dismissed from this service. In pronouncing the solemn closing benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14, we invoke on your behalf, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all;” and thus, according to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul, we make an obvious distinction between the persons of the Trinity, showing that we believe the Father to be a person, the Son to be a person, and the Holy Spirit to be a person. Were there no other proofs in Scripture, I think these would be sufficient for every sensible man and woman. They would easily see that if the Holy Spirit were no more than a mere influence, he would not be mentioned in conjunction with the Father and the Son, whom we all confess to be actual and individual persons.
2. The second proof that the Holy Spirit is a real person is the fact that the Holy Spirit has actually made different appearances on the earth.
The Holy Spirit has manifested himself to man: he has put on a form, so that, while he has not been actually seen by mortal men, yet in his veiled appearance he was seen by the eyes of all those present. Let’s go to the river Jordon. Do you see Jesus Christ our Saviour? There is the river, with its sloped banks and its Willow trees weeping at its side. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, descends into the stream, and the holy Baptist, John, plunges him into the waves. The doors of heaven are opened; a miraculous appearance presents itself; a bright light shines from the sky, brighter than the sun in all its grandeur, and down in a flood of glory descends something which you recognise to be a dove. It rests on Jesus – it sits on his sacred head, and just as the old artists painted a halo around the head of Jesus, in the same way the Holy Spirit shed a brilliance around the face of him who came to fulfil all righteousness, and therefore commenced with the ordinance of baptism. The Holy Spirit was seen as a dove, to mark his purity and his gentleness, and he came down like a dove from heaven to show that it is from heaven alone that he descends. Nor is this the only time when the Holy Spirit has been manifest in a visible shape.
You see that company of disciples gathered together in an upper room; they are waiting for some promised blessing, and in time it will come. Listen! there is a sound as of a mighty rushing wind; it fills the whole house where they are sitting; and astonished, they look around them, wondering what will come next. Soon a bright light appears, shining upon the heads of each Apostle: tongues of fire came to rest on each one of them. What were these marvellous appearances of wind and flame but a display of the personhood of the Holy Spirit? I say the fact of an appearance manifests that he must be a person. An influence could not appear – an attribute could not appear: we cannot see attributes – we cannot see influences. The Holy Spirit must, then, have been a person; since he was seen by earthly eyes, and was recognisable by the human mind.
3. The third proof that the Holy Spirit is a real person is from the fact, that personal qualities are, in Scripture, ascribed to the Holy Spirit.
First, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as having understanding.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read, “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). Here you see an understanding – a power of knowledge is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Now, if there are any persons here whose minds are of so absurd a character that they would ascribe one attribute to another, and would speak of a mere influence having understanding, then I give up all argument. But I believe every rational person will admit, that when anything is spoken of as having an understanding, it must be an existence – it must, in fact, be a person.
Second, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as having a will.
In the 12th chapter, 11th verse of the same Epistle, you will find a will ascribed to the Holy Spirit. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” So it is clear that the Spirit has a will. He does not come from God the Father simply at God the Father’s will, but he has a will of his own, which is always in keeping with the will of the infinite Jehovah, but is, nevertheless, distinct and separate; therefore, I say he is a person.
Third, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as having power.
In another text, power is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, and power is a thing which can only be ascribed to an existence. In Romans 15:13, it is written, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I need not insist on it, because it is self-evident, that wherever you find understanding, will, and power, you must also find an existence; it cannot be a mere attribute, it cannot be a metaphor, it cannot be a personified influence; but it must be a person.
But I have a proof which, perhaps, will be more telling on you than any other.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit is credited with acts and deeds; therefore, he must be a person.
You read in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, that the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the deep, when it was as yet formless and empty. This world was once a mass of chaotic matter, there was no order; it was like the valley of darkness and of the shadow of death. God the Holy Spirit spread his wings over it; he sowed the seeds of life in it; the germs from which all creatures sprang to life were implanted by him; he infused the earth so that it became capable of life. Now, it must have been a person who brought order out of confusion: it must have been an existence who hovered over this world and made it what it now is.
But don’t we read in Scripture even more about the Holy Spirit?
Fifth, the Holy Spirit is credited with influencing and moving men to write and speak the Word of God; therefore, he must be a person.
Yes, we are told that “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). When Moses penned the Pentateuch, the Holy Spirit moved his hand; when David wrote the Psalms, and plucked sweet music on his harp, it was the Holy Spirit that gave his fingers their sanctified motion; when Solomon dropped from his lips the words of the proverbs of wisdom, or when he sang his Song of Solomon, it was the Holy Spirit who gave him words of knowledge and hymns of rapture. Tell me what fire was that which touched the lips of the eloquent Isaiah? What hand was that which came on Daniel? What power was that which made Jeremiah so mournful in his grief? or what was that which winged Ezekiel and made him like an eagle, soar into elevated mysteries, and see the mighty unknown beyond our reach? Who was it that made Amos the herdsman, a prophet? Who taught the rugged Haggai to pronounce his thundering sentences? Who kindled the burning eloquence of Nahum? Who caused Malachi to close up the book with a curse? Who was it in each of these cases, except the Holy Spirit? And isn’t it obvious that it must have been a person who spoke in and through these ancient witnesses? We must believe it. We cannot avoid believing it, when we read that “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
And when has the Holy Spirit ceased having an influence on men? We find that still he deals with his ministers and with all his saints. Turn to the Book of Acts, and you will find that the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). I never heard of an “attribute” saying such a thing. The Holy Spirit said to Peter, “Go to the Centurion…and do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:1, 11:9). Another example is when the Holy Spirit suddenly took Philip away, after he had baptised the Eunuch, and carried him to another place. And again, when the Holy Spirit said to Paul; “You shall not enter Bithynia, but go to Troas” (Acts 16:7-8). And we know that the Holy Spirit was lied to by Ananias and Sapphira, when it was said, “…you have lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). Again, that power which we, who are called to preach, feel every day—that wondrous stimulus which makes our lips so potent—that power which gives us far-reaching thoughts—that influence which I sometimes strangely feel, which, if it does not give me poetry and eloquence, gives me a strength I never felt before, and lifts me above my fellowman—that majesty with which he clothes his ministers, until in the midst of the battle they cry out, “Yes, Lord Jesus!” That power which gives us strength over men, and causes them to sit and listen as if their ears were chained, as if they were spellbound by the power of some magician’s wand—that power must come from a person; it must come from the Holy Spirit.
Sixth, the Holy Spirit is credited with regenerating the soul; therefore, he must be a person.
Is it not said in Scripture, and don’t we feel it, dear friends, that it is the Holy Spirit who regenerates the soul? It is the Holy Spirit who makes us come spiritually alive: “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, NKJV). It is the Holy Spirit who imparts the first germ of life, convincing us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. And isn’t it the Holy Spirit, who, after that flame is kindled, still fans it with the breath of his mouth and keeps it alive? Its author is its preserver. Oh! Can’t it be said that it is the Holy Spirit who strives in the souls of men and women; that it is the Holy Spirit who brings them into the sweet place that is called Calvary – can we say that he does all these things, and yet is not a person? It may be said, but it must be said by fools; for he never can be a wise man who can consider these things being done by any other than a glorious person – a divine existence.
Allow me to give you one more proof, and I will be done. Certain feelings are ascribed to the Holy Spirit, which can only be understood upon the supposition that he is actually a person.
In the 4th chapter of Ephesians, verse 30, it is said that the Holy Spirit can be grieved: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” In Isaiah, 63:10, it is said that the Holy Spirit can be grieved: “They rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.” In Acts, 7:51, you read that the Holy Spirit can be resisted: “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” And in the 5th chapter, verse 9, of the same book, you will find that the Holy Spirit may be tested. We are informed that Peter said to Ananias and Sapphira, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Now, these things could not be emotions which might be ascribed to a quality or an emanation; they must be understood to relate to a person; an influence could not be grieved, it must be a person who can be grieved, tested, or resisted.
And now, brothers and sisters, I think I have fully established the point of the personality of the Holy Spirit; allow me now, most earnestly, to impress upon you the absolute necessity of being sound on the doctrine of the Trinity.
I knew a man, he is now a good minister of Jesus Christ, and I believe he was before he turned his eyes to heresy – he began to doubt the glorious divinity of our blessed Lord, and for years he preached the heretical doctrine, until one day he happened to hear a very eccentric old minister preaching from the text, “There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread.” (Isaiah 33:21, 23) “Now,” said the old minister, “you give up the Trinity, and your riggings hang loose, you cannot secure your masts. Once you give up the doctrine of the Trinity, then your riggings are completely gone; your mast, which ought to be a support to your vessel, is a rickety one, and shakes.” A gospel without the Trinity! it is a pyramid built upside down. A gospel without the Trinity! it is a rope of sand that cannot hold together. A gospel without the Trinity! then, clearly, Satan can overturn it. But give me a gospel with the Trinity, and all the power of hell cannot prevail against it; no man can any more overthrow it than a bubble could split a rock, or a feather break a mountain in two. Gain an understanding of the Trinity, and you have discovered the heart of all divinity. Understand that the three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one, then all things will appear clear. This is the golden key to the secrets of nature and he who understands this, will soon understand as much as mortals can ever know.
II. Now for our second point – the united agency of the three persons in the work of our salvation.
Look at the text, and you will find all the three persons mentioned. “I” – that is the Son – “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor.” There are the three persons mentioned, all of them doing something for our salvation. “I will ask,” says the Son. “I will send,” says the Father. “I will provide comfort and counsel,” says the Holy Spirit.
Now, let us, for a few moments, discuss this wondrous theme – the unity of the Three Persons of the Trinity with regard to the great purpose of the salvation of the elect.
When God first made man, he said, “Let us make man,” not let me, but, “Let us make man in our own image.” They said to each other, “Let us together become the creator of man.” So, when in eternity, they said, “Let us save man:” it was not the Father who said, “Let me save man, “but the three persons as one said, with one consensus, “Let us save man.” It is to me a source of sweet comfort to think that it is not one person of the Trinity that is engaged in my salvation; it is not simply one person of the Godhead who vows that he will redeem me; but it is the glorious Trinity, and the three declare, together, “We will save man.”
Now, observe here, that each Person of the Trinity is spoken of as performing a separate function.
“I will pray,” says the Son; that is intercession. “I will send,” says the Father; that is the giving of the gift. “I will comfort,” says the Holy Spirit; that is supernatural influence. Oh! if it were possible for us to see the Three Persons of the Godhead, we would behold one of them standing before the throne, with outstretched hands, crying day and night, “O, Lord, how long?” We would see one dressed with Urim and Thummim, precious stones, on which are written the twelve names of the tribes of Israel; we would see him, crying to his Father, “Do not forget your promises, do not forget your covenant;” we would hear him make mention of our sorrows, and tell of our griefs, on our behalf, for he is our intercessor. And if we could see the Father, we would not see him a listless and idle spectator of the intercession of the Son, but we would see him with attentive ear listening to every word of Jesus, and granting every petition. Where is the Holy Spirit during all of this? Is he lying idle? O no; he is floating over the earth, and when he sees a weary soul, he says, “Come to Jesus, he will give you rest;” when he beholds an eye filled with tears, he wipes away the tears, and commands the mourner to look for comfort in the cross; when he sees the storm-tossed believer, he takes control of his soul and speaks words of comfort; he helps the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds; and, ever on his mission of mercy, he flies around the world, being everywhere at once.
Look, how the three persons work together. Don’t just say, “I am grateful to the Son” – which you should be, but be sure to remember that God the Son no more saves you than God the Father. Don’t think that God the Father is a great tyrant, and that God the Son had to die to make him merciful. The death of Jesus was not to make the Father love his people. Oh, no. One loves as much as the other; the three are united in the great purpose of rescuing the elect from damnation.
But you must notice another thing in my text, which will show the blessed unity of the three persons – the promises made between the members of the Trinity to each other.
The Son says, “I will pray the Father.” “Very well,” the disciples may have said, “we can trust you for that.” “And he will send you.” You see, here the Son reveals that there is a covenant between him and the Father. “He will send you another Comforter.” There is a covenant on behalf of the Holy Spirit too. “And he will live with you forever.” One person of the Trinity speaks for the other, and how could they, if there were any disagreement between them? If one wished to save, and the other did not, then they could not promise on one another’s behalf. But whatever the Son says, the Father listens to; whatever the Father promises, the Holy Spirit works; and, whatever the Holy Spirit injects into the soul, that God the Father fulfils. So, the three together mutually promise on one another’s behalf. There is a covenant drawn up with three signatures at the bottom – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By three unchangeable persons the Christian is secured beyond the reach of death and hell. A Trinity of securities, because there is a Trinity of God.
III, Our third point, this morning, is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers.
Now, beloved, these first two things have been matters of pure doctrine; this is the subject of experience. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a subject so profound, and involved with the inner man, that no soul will be able to truly comprehend what I say, unless it has been taught of God.
I have heard of an old minister, who told someone at Cambridge college, that he understood a language that he never learned in all of his life. “I have not,” he said, “even a smattering of Greek, and I know no Latin, but thank God, I can talk the language of Canaan, and that is more than you can.” So, beloved, I will now have to talk a little of the language of Canaan. If you cannot understand me, I am afraid it is because you are not a true Israelite; you are not a child of God, nor an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.
We are told in the text, that Jesus would send the Comforter, who would dwell with the saints, and be in them forever. Old Ignatius, the martyr, used to call himself the Godbearer, “because,” he said, “I bear within me the Holy Spirit.” And truly every Christian is a Godbearer. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s (Holy) Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) A man or woman is not a Christian who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit; they may talk well, they may understand theology, and be sound Calvinists; they will be a finely dressed child of nature, but not the living child. They may have a profound intellect, a gigantic soul, a comprehensive mind, and a lofty imagination, that they may dive into all the secrets of nature, and know the path which the eagle’s eye has never seen, and go into depths where man has never been, but they will not be a Christian with all this knowledge, they will not be children of God unless they understand what it is to have the Holy Spirit living within them forever.
Some people call this fanaticism, and they say, “You are a Quaker; why not follow George Fox?” Well, we wouldn’t mind that much: we would follow any one who followed the Holy Spirit, even George, with all his eccentricities. I don’t doubt that in many cases, he was actually inspired by the Holy Spirit; and whenever I find a man in whom there rests the Spirit of God, the spirit within me leaps to hear the spirit within him, and we feel that we are one. The Spirit of God in one Christian soul recognises the Spirit in another. I remember talking with a good man, as I believe he was, who was insisting that it was impossible for us to know whether we had the Holy Spirit within us or not. I would like for him to be here this morning, because I would read this verse to him, John 14:17, which speaks of the Holy Spirit, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” Ah! you think you cannot tell whether you have the Holy Spirit or not. Can I tell whether I am alive or not? If I were touched by electricity, could I tell whether I was or not? I suppose I could; the shock would be strong enough to make me know where I stood. So, if I have God within me – if I have Deity living within my body – if I have God the Holy Spirit resting in my heart, and making a temple of my body, do you think I will know it?
Call it fanaticism if you will, but I trust that there are some of us who know what it is to be always, or normally, under the influence of the Holy Spirit – always in one sense, normally in another. When we have difficulties, we ask for the direction of the Holy Spirit. When we do not understand a portion of Holy Scripture, we ask God the Holy Spirit to illumine us. When we are depressed, the Holy Spirit comforts us. You can’t tell what the wondrous power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is; how it pulls back the hand of the saint when he would touch the forbidden thing; how it prompts him to make a covenant with his eyes; how it binds his feet, lest they should walk down a slippery path; how it restrains his heart, and keeps him from temptation. O you, who know nothing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, don’t despise it. O don’t despise the Holy Spirit, for it is the unpardonable sin. “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32) So says the Word of God. Therefore tremble, lest in anything you despise the influences of the Holy Spirit.
But before closing this point, there is one little word that pleases me very much, that is the word “forever.”
You knew I wouldn’t miss that; you were certain I couldn’t let it go without observation. “Be with you forever.” I wish I could get an Arminian here to finish my sermon. I think I see him taking that word “forever.” He would say, “for – forever;” he would have to stammer and stutter; for he could never get it out all at once. He might stand here for a while and finally he would have to say, “The translation is wrong.” And I suppose the poor man would have to prove that the original manuscript was wrong too. Ah! but blessed be God we can read it – “He will be with you forever.” Once I am given the Holy Spirit, I will never lose him until “forever” has run out; until eternity has spun itself out of existence, which is impossible.
IV. Now we have to close up with a brief remark on the reason why the world rejects the Holy Spirit.
It is said, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” (John 14:17) You know what is sometimes meant by “the world” – those whom God in his wondrous sovereignty passed over when he chose his people: the non-elect ones; those passed over in God’s wondrous election – not reprobates who were condemned to damnation by some awful decree; but those passed over by God, when he chose his elect. These cannot receive the Spirit. Again, it means all those in a carnal state who are not able to procure for themselves this divine influence; and, thus it is true, “The world cannot accept him.”
The unregenerate world of sinners despises the Holy Spirit, “because it does not see him.”
Yes, I believe this is the great secret why many laugh at the idea of the existence of the Holy Spirit – because they cannot see him. You tell the one who is absorbed by worldly pursuits and pleasures, “I have the Holy Spirit living within me.” He says, “I can’t see it.” He wants it to be something tangible – something he can recognise with his senses. Have you ever heard the argument used by the good old Christian against an unsaved doctor? The doctor said there was no soul, and asked, “Did you ever see a soul?” “No,” said the Christian. “Did you ever hear a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a soul?” “Yes,” said the man – “I feel I have one within me.” “Well,” said the doctor, “there are four senses against one; you only have one on your side.” “Very well,” said the Christian, “Did you ever see a pain?” “No, said the doctor.” “Did you ever hear a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a pain?” “Yes.” “And that is quite enough, I suppose, to prove there is a pain?” “Yes.” So the people of this world say, “There is no Holy Spirit,” because they cannot see it. But we feel it. You say that is fanaticism, and that we never have felt it. Suppose you tell me that honey is bitter, I reply, “No, I am sure you can’t have tasted it; taste it and try.” So it is with the Holy Spirit; if you ever felt his influence, you would no longer say there is no Holy Spirit, because you cannot see it.
Aren’t there many things, even in nature, which we cannot see? Did you ever see the wind? No; but you know there is wind, when you see the hurricane tossing the waves about, and tearing down the homes of men; or when, in the soft evening breeze, it kisses the flowers, and makes dew-drops hang in pearly coronets around the rose. Did you ever see electricity? No; but you know there is such a thing, for it travels along the wires for thousands of miles, and carries our messages; though you can’t see the thing itself, you know there is such a thing. So you must believe there is a Holy Spirit working in us, both to will and to do, even though it is beyond our senses.
But the last reason why the unregenerate world of sinners laugh at the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is, because they don’t know him.
If they knew him by heartfelt experience and if they recognised his activity in the soul; if they had ever been touched by him; if they had been made to tremble under a sense of sin; if they had had their hearts melted, they would never have doubted the existence of the Holy Spirit.
And now, beloved, it says, “He lives with you, and will be in you.” We will close up with that sweet remembrance – the Holy Spirit lives in all believers and will be with them.
One word of comment and advice to the saints of God, and to sinners, and I will be done.
Saints of the Lord! you have this morning heard that God the Holy Spirit is a person; you have had it proved to your souls. What follows from this? Why, it follows how serious you should be in prayer to the Holy Spirit, as well as for the Holy Spirit.
Let me say that this is an inference that you should lift up your prayers to the Holy Spirit: that you should cry earnestly to him; for he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
See this mass of people here this morning. Who can convert it? See this crowd? Who is to make my influence permeate through it? You know this place now has a mighty influence, and, God blessing us, it will have an influence not only upon this city, but upon the country at large; for we now employ the press as well as the pulpit; and certainly, I should say, before the close of the year, more than two hundred thousand of my writings and sermons will be scattered through the land – words uttered by my lips, or written by my pen. But how can this influence be rendered for good? How will God’s glory be promoted by it? Only by incessant prayer for the Holy Spirit; by constantly calling down the influence of the Holy Spirit upon us; we want him to rest upon every page that is printed, and upon every word that is uttered. Let us then be doubly serious in pleading with the Holy Spirit, that he would come and own our labours; that as a result the whole church at large may be revived, and not just ourselves, but the whole world share in the benefit.
Then, to the unsaved, I have this one closing word to say. Always be careful how you speak of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know what the unpardonable sin is, and I don’t think any man understands it; but it is something like this: “He that speaks a word against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” I don’t know what that means; but tread very carefully! There is danger; there is a pit which our ignorance has covered by sand; tread very carefully! you may fall into the pit before the next hour. If there is any strife in your heart today, perhaps you will go to the pub and forget it. Perhaps there is some voice speaking in your soul, and you will ignore it. I am not telling you that you will be resisting the Holy Spirit, and committing the unpardonable sin; but it is somewhere there. Be very careful.
O, there is no crime on earth so wicked as the crime against the Holy Spirit! You may blaspheme the Father, and you will be damned for it, unless you repent; you may blaspheme the Son, and hell will be your judgment, unless you are forgiven; but blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and the Lord says: “There will be no forgiveness, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32)
I cannot tell you what it is; I don’t profess to understand it; but there it is. It is the danger signal; stop! man, stop! If you have despised the Holy Spirit – if you have laughed at his revelations, and scorned what Christians call his influence, I beg you to stop! This morning seriously deliberate. Perhaps some of you have actually committed the unpardonable sin; stop! Let fear stop you; sit down. Don’t drive on so rashly as you have done, Jehu! O slacken your reins! You who are such a wicked sinner – you who have uttered such harsh words against the Trinity, stop! Ah! it makes us all stop. It makes us all draw back, and say, “Have I done such a thing?” Let us think of this; and let us not at any time stifle either with the words or the acts of God the Holy Spirit. Amen.