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renovated by the “ brightness of his coming,” and by the “Spirit of his mouth;" whose eyes are as a “flaming fire," and whose word is “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piereing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart ?” O, do we need a fresh baptism of the Spirit ? Is there that remaining in any of us which is “carnal” and “corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” of the old man ? and are we really anxious to be fitted for our Master's work, for our Saviour's glory? Let us cry in earnest prayer and strong desire,
“) that in me the sacred fire
Might now begin to glow;
And make the mountains flow !”
Our sins its ready victims find ;
Nor leave the least remains behind !" 2. Fire quickens into life existences that were dull, torpid, inanimate before.
What would the physical world be without the sun, the great central source of natural life? Death would bold divided empire with darkness throughout one vast domain of frost and snow and ice. Nothing that breathes could live. Life in its lowest form would not be found. No tree would shoot its leaf, no flower put forth its bud. Similar would be the condition of the moral world, the world of immortal men, without the quickening Spirit of God. Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones would become an awful reality: only that the vale of death would be co-extensive with the world of sinners. All would be hopelessly dead in trespasses and sins.
What were the Saviour's disciples before the Spirit was given? At best, but breathing skeletons, utterly useless for the conversion of the world by the preaching of the Gospel. But when the cloven tongues of fire rested upon them, what a change was there! Instantly they became full of life and power, and at once began to speak, as the “Spirit gave them utterance.” And the thousands of sinners quickened during that one day into spiritual life, through their instrumentality, remain on the living record, a perpetual proof of the omnific energy of the regenerating Spirit.
What was Paul before he received the Holy Ghost, the Comforter ? A wretch struggling in vain to be freed from the body of sin and death, capable only of uttering the woful cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?” What did he become afterwards ? The most active agent that the Saviour ever called into his service, or the Spirit ever employed; a transcript of his Master's character, a “living epistle" of Christ, known and read of all men. “I live," said he; “yet' not I, but Christ liveth in me.” “For to me to live is Christ.”
What was Martin Luther before he was baptized with the Spirit ?
vision of them, withoutondition of
great teeth entering the car in the name che
enteritjä, and the wes burning
An anxious inquirer, indeed, after salvation, a sincere seeker of peace ; but a trembling slave of the Papal Church, spending his days in fasting and his nights in weeping ; pacing in pensive silence the gloomy precipcts of his cell and cloister. And there probably he would have died, and been buried and forgotten, had he not been made a partaker of the Holy Ghost. O, then he was “strengthened with might in his inner man.” Then the “ feeble became as David,” when David could face the lion and the bear, and “ David, as the Angel of the Lord ;” shunning no cross, fearing no foes, dreading no dauger, despising even hell itself. “ If they were to make a fire between Wittenberg and Worms,” said he, (when told that he would be burnt to ashes like Huss, if he went there,) “which would reach to the heavens, I would still appear in the name of the Lord, and confess Christ, and, entering the jaws of Behemoth, and treading between his great teeth, would leave him to do all his pleasure.” “ If there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs, I would still enter it."
Did not the Wesleys and Whitefield, and the whole of that little “band whose hearts God had touched,” become “burning and shining” lights in a benighted land? Yes ; and in a cold, sepulchral Church, from which the living glory had well-nigh departed, and in which the burning fire had become all but extinguished. For what is a country, call it Christian if you choose, without the Spirit of God, but an arctic, wintry wilderness ? Darkness covers it ; “ gross darkness, the people.” And what is a so-called Christian church without the Spirit, but a very Golgotha,-a place of skulls,— a charnel-house, full of “dead men's bones, and all uncleanness?” And what is a professed Minister of Christ without his Spirit? what but a speaking statue, a useless effigy? His sermons may be learned, philosophical, intellectual ; his style adorned and elegant ; his delivery polished and graceful. He is all that science, and taste, and art can make him. But if he is no more ; if he is not a Minister of the Spirit; if his preaching be not in “ demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” his oratory and learning are expended on dead souls in vain. They remain in their sins. He “spends his wretched strength for nought.”
My brethren, what are any of us without the life-giving Spirit of God? We are dead in sin. Our affections, pursuits, enjoyments, are grovelling, earthly, vile. We are strangers to the love of God, and the peace of Christ, and the joy of the Holy Ghost, and the sure hope of a better world, because we are strangers to the life the Spirit gives. And we are hastening to the “death that never dies.” And so far from being able to rouse ourselves, and “flee from the wrath to come,” we cannot, without the Spirit of God, feel that this is our condition, --cannot even discern our state and danger. O, be this the breathed desire of every bosom,
“ As flowers their opening leaves display,
And glad drink in the solar fire ;
So may Thy influence us inspire ;
Thou Beam of the Eternal Beam,-
3. Fire purifies substances which it does not destroy.
The most precious of earthly things are purified by fire. It is the refiner of silver. Gold is tried in it, and comes forth purified. It is thus the most significant emblem of the sanctifying Spirit of God; and as such it is frequently employed in the prophetic Scriptures. When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on his throne, high and lifted up, his train of holy ones filling the temple, he cried, “Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips ; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then flew one of the seraphims unto him, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar, and he laid it upon his mouth, saying, “ Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” (Isai. vi. 3—7.) The same Prophet represents the Lord taking away the “filth of the daughters of Zion, and purging the blood of Jerusalem by the Spirit of judgment and by the Spirit of burning.” (Isai. iv. 4.) Ezekiel, when he had his glorious vision of Jehovah, saw “a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself; and a brightness was about it, and ont of the midst thereof, as the colour of amber.” (Ezek. i. 4.) And Malachi, when he speaks of the Lord “suddenly coming to His temple,” declares, that He shall come as a “refiner's fire, and shall sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver, and shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that tbey may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. iii. 1-3.)
The Spirit of God is the great Purifier of the souls of men. He employs various means, indeed, for this purpose : affliction, in its several forms of disease and pain ; of disappointments, losses, and bereavements; the prayerful reading of the written word, which is “ very pure;" the attentive hearing of the preached word, which is to be as the “ washing of water” to the church, that it may be a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;” (Eph. v. 27 ;) the truth in Jesus applied to the conscience and the heart, converting and sanctifying the soul, as well as “ enlightening the eyes." All these agencies are employed to make us “partakers of the divine nature;” but the Spirit is the agent. He takes of the things that are Christ's, and shows them unto us. He applies and directs the purifying process, and brings it to a successful result. All the saints of Christ, in earth and in heaven, are “elect through sanctification of the Spirit.” “But ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. vi. 11.) No means employed for this purpose can avail without Him. The most rigorous course of fasting and self-mortification ; the most painful penances, however long protracted ; the severest mental discipline; a perpetual course of reading, and praying, and devotional service; will all end in “weariness of the flesh,” and “vexation of spirit,” if the Holy Ghost be not regarded and honoured as the Sanctifier. The fire from heaven must fall upon you, or your corruptions remain undestroyed, unsubdued. If your bodies have not become the temples of the Holy Ghost, if the Spirit of God do not dwell within you, your “ iniquity is not taken away, your sin is not purged ;” your souls are not sanctified to God; ye are yet in your sins ; ye are as an “unclean thing, and all your righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isai. lxiv. 6.)
4. Fire has the peculiar property of transmuting congenial substances into its own element.
The coldest metals, if subjected to sufficient heat, become fiery fluids. Yea, the hardest stones may be so penetrated through every part, by this ethereal agent, as to be converted into masses of glowing fire. Is it a thing incredible then, that the Spirit of God, the almighty Sanctifier of the human soul, can render the soul of man a partaker of his own holiness? When you were born again, you were born of the Spirit. Were you not then made partakers of his nature ? As “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John iii. 6.) Brethren, surely we who are “ born of God," born from above, may bear the “image of the heavenly as we have borne the image of the earthly,” if He who is to conform us to the “image of God's dear Son” be the Holy Spirit of God. O, we must honour the Spirit more, by more frequent invocation, by simpler and by stronger faith. We must expect “ his fulness to receive;" and according to our faith it shall be done unto us. He will be the Glorifier of Christ, by joining us to the Lord, so as to make us “one Spirit” with him. And then we shall have the mind that was in Christ. Was the Saviour “meek and lowly in heart ?” We shall be “ clothed with humility." Was he “holy and harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners ?” We shall also be “pure in heart." We shall be “ separate from the unclean,” shall have “no fellowship," no desire for communion, with the “unfruitful works of darkness.” We shall be “holy in all manner of conversation, even as He that hath called us is holy.” Was he ever about his Father's business? We shall be " throughly furnished unto all good works," and whatsoever our “ hand findeth to do, we shall do it with our might.” Was he filled with the spirit of active, holy love? We shall “love each other with pure hearts fervently ;” and as we have opportunity, shall “ do good unto all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.” Our bowels will yearn over the perishing souls of the unsaved, and our hearts will burn for their salvation with an ardour like His, who so loved them as to give himself for them. “The love of Christ” will constrain us; for we shall thus judge, that if one died for all, it was that all might live through him ; "and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor. v. 15.) Did his soul glow with sacred zeal for God, and the honour of his house, and the purity of his people? The zeal of the Lord's house shall eat us up. We shall see his beauty and his glory in the sanctuary, and shall long that all, all who attend his house, should see the same. We shall live for Zion's welfare, and for Zion's welfare shall be ready to suffer or to die. Most sineerely shall we say, “ For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.” “ For my brethren and my companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee ; peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces!" Without ceasing shall we pray, “Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord ! O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity !” And we shall prosper who thus love Zion. Our souls will be as a watered garden. We shall flourish in the courts of our God. We shall bring forth fruit in old age. We shall be known as trees of righteousness, “the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” And he will be “glorified in his saints ;" he will be seen in us below, and will be “admired in all them that believe.” Did our Saviour suffer, “ leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps ?” In us“ patience shall have her perfect work.” The servant shall be as his Lord, the “Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings." “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
“ The fire forgets its power to burn,
The lambent flames around thee play.”
Yea, we shall “ glory in tribulations;” reckoning that the “ sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” And having suffered with our Saviour, we shall also reign with him, and behold his glory, and be glorified together with him. “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. iii. 21.)
O my brethren, we are not straitened in the Spirit. Our “ peace might be as a river," deep, tranquil, ever flowing; “our righteousness as the waves of the sea.” We might love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. We might love each other as Jesus hath loved us. We might love the perishing souls which he has “ bought so dear," with a “passion like his own. We might “ travail in birth of them, until Christ is formed in them.” We might “pray without ceasing, rejoice evermore, in everything give thanks." We might be as “ flames of fire” in the church, and as “lights in the world ;” and all within the attractive influence of the sphere we move in, might catch our spirit, and be kindled into “burning and shining" lights. Every bosom might burn with love to Christ and souls ; every soul might glow with purest zeal for God; all might be as the seraphim before the throne,—those active spirits that tire not, rest not, day or night, in the service of Him they adore and love. We might thus bring heaven down to earth, whilst from earth we are rising towards heaven, to join the “ general assembly and church of the first-born,” We might be all this. We ought to be all this, and more. For our God is “able to do exceeding abuudantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that