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the round world, and they that dwell therein ";" the earth began to fill with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord; for “the Spirit of the Lord filled the world; and that which containeth all things had knowledge of the voice ?."
How different a fulfilment was this from that for which the Apostles had been waiting! For ten days had they waited for the fulfilment of a promise, the coming of a Comforter. And surely they imagined, that such as Christ had been, would be the Paraclete which was to come. Christ was a present, visible, protector; a man, with man's voice and man's figure. Who was to be their Comforter, how could they conjecture, seeing He was to be such, that it was expedient for them that Christ should depart? Some one greater than Elias, who was expected to come before the last day; greater than the Baptist, of whom Herod thought that he had risen again in Christ, with miracles; greater than “Jeremias, or one of the prophets ;" greater than Moses, who saw God face to face; more than a prophet, more than
any born of woman, more than man; perhaps an angel, such as had appeared in bodily form to the Patriarchs (for of a spiritual nature He was to be), but still surely a present, a visible Being, one whose individuality and intelligence they could not doubt, and need not take on faith.
For such an one they waited during ten days to guide them into all truth, little deeming that knowledge about Himself was one main portion of the truth He had to teach them; and then, when they were waiting for this 1 Ps. xcviii. 8.
i Wisd. i. 7.
Angelic Messenger, Prophet, and Lawgiver, One higher than all created strength and wisdom, suddenly came down
upon them; yet not as a Lord and Governor, but as an agency or power.
“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost"."
Such was the coming of the Comforter; He who is infinitely personal, who is one and individual above all created beings, who is the One God, absolutely, fully, perfectly, simply, He it was who vouchsafed to descend upon the Apostles, and that, as if not a Person, but as an influence or quality, by His attribute of ubiquity; diffusing Himself over their hearts, filling all the house, poured over the world, as wholly here, as if He were not there; and hence vouchsafing to be compared to the inanimate and natural creation, to water and to wind, which are of so subtle a nature, of so penetrating a virtue, and of so extended a range.
And most exactly have these figures, which He condescended to apply to Himself, been fulfilled in the course of the Dispensation; day, even to this day. His operation has been calm, equable, gradual, far-spreading, overtaking, intimate, irresistible. What is so awfully silent, so mighty, so inevitable, so encompassing as a flood of water? Fire alarms from the first: we see it, and we scent it; there is crashing and downfall, smoke and flame; it makes an inroad here and there; it is
i Acte ii. 8-4.
uncertain and wayward ;--but a flood is the reverse of all this. It gives no tokens of its coming ; it lets men sleep through the night, and they wake and find themselves hopelessly besieged; prompt, secret, successful :and equable; it preserves one level; it is every where; there is no refuge. And it makes its way to the foundations; towers and palaces rear themselves as usual; they have lost nothing of their perfection, and give no sign of danger, till at length suddenly they totter and fall. And here and there it is the same, as if by some secret understanding; for by one and the same agency the mighty movement goes on here and there and every where, and all things seem to act in concert with it, and to conspire together for their own ruin. And in the end they are utterly removed, and perish from off the face of the earth. Fire, which threatens more fiercely, leaves behind it relics and monuments of its agency; but water buries as well as destroys; it wipes off the memorial of its victims from the earth; it covers the chariot and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh, and sweeps them away; "the waters overwhelm them, there is not one of them left."
Such was the power of the Spirit in the beginning, when He vouchsafed to descend as an invisible wind, as an outpoured flood. Thus He changed the whole face of the world. For a while men went on as usual, and dreamed not what was coming; and when they were roused from their fast sleep, the work was done; it was too late for aught else but impotent anger and an hopeless struggle. The kingdom was taken away from them and given to another people. The ark of God
moved upon the face of the waters. It was borne aloft by the power, greater than human, which had overspread the earth, and it triumphed, "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts!!"
And what the power of the Spirit has been in the world at large, that it is also in every human heart to which it comes; and by attending to the figure under which it is represented in the text, we shall understand (what concerns us most intimately) whether we personally under its influence, or are deceiving ourselves. For if, as has been said, the characteristics of the Spirit's influence are, that it is the same every where, that it is silent, that it is gradual, that it is thorough; not violent, or abrupt, or fitful, or partial, or detached; and if, on the other hand, the stirrings of heart which we experience, the impulses and the changes, are of this imperfect character, we have cause to suspect that in no sense do they come from the One True Sanctifier, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
For instance : any spirit which professes to come to us alone, and not to others, which makes no claim of having moved the body of the Church at all times and places, is not of God, but a private spirit of error; because “the river of God is full of water; Thou visitest the earth and blessest it; Thou makest it very plenteous. Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness, and Thy clouds drop fatness .” God's Spirit dwells in the Catholic Church, and has visited the whole world. New creeds, private opinions, self-devised practices, are but delusions.
i Zach. iv. 6.
* Ps. Lxv. 10-12.
Again; vehemence, tumult, confusion, are no attributes of that benignant flood with which God has replenished the earth. That flood of grace is sedate, majestic, gentle in its operation. If at any time it seems to be violent, that violence is occasioned by some accident or imperfection of the earthen vessels into which it vouchsafes to pour itself; and is no token of the coming of Divine Power. Sudden changes of feeling, restlessness, terror, vehement emotions, impetuous resolves, ecstasies and transports, are no signs of it; and often they proceed from false spirits, who are but imitating heavenly influences as best they may, and seducing souls to their ruin.
And again: the Divine Baptism, wherewith God visits us, penetrates through our whole soul and body. It leaves no part of us uncleansed, unsanctified. It claims the whole man for God. Any spirit which is content with what is short of this, which does not lead us to utter self-surrender and devotion; which reserves something for ourselves; which indulges our self-will; which flatters this or that natural inclination or affec.. tion; which does not tend to consistency of religious character;—is not from God. The heavenly influence which He has given us is as intimately present, and as penetrating--as catholic-in an individual heart as it is in the world at large. It is every where, in every faculty, every affection, every design, every work. And the surest test that we are members of the Catholic Church is the evidence of this Catholic influence, or religious consistency, “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the know