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    CHAPTER I. THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE

    “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” John 14:16.SGOM 7.1

    There is not a subject presented in all the Scriptures which is of greater interest and importance than that of the gospel gifts and manifestations of the Spirit of God. In the words of the above text, the Spirit is the Comforter to the pilgrim who finds his life one of warfare, and who is told that in the world he shall have tribulation. It is the Guide to lead us “into all truth;” to aid us to escape from the darkness of this wicked world and to find the light of life. It is the Sanctifier, in connection with “belief of the truth,” to impress that truth upon our hearts, and to soften our hearts that we may appreciate, and with humble reverence receive, the word of truth. And its influence extends to “the world,” to whom it is a Reprover of sin.SGOM 7.2

    The subject is a very solemn one; it is not to be approached in a light and irreverent manner. Jesus, the holy Son of God, who claimed divine honors, who said that “all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father,” also said:-SGOM 7.3

    “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matthew 12:32.SGOM 7.4

    The solemn importance of these words is increased by the consideration that they were uttered as a rebuke to the Pharisees, who ascribed the works of Christ to the power of Satan instead of to the Spirit of God. They did not speak of the Spirit at all directly; they even may have felt the most becoming reverence for that Spirit in name. But their condemnation rested in this, that they rejected that which proceeded from the Spirit of God, without a patient, careful, submissive, and prayerful consideration of its nature and its claims. How careful, then, should we be in our investigations of this subject, and in our actions in reference to it. For, to ascribe the works of Satan to the Spirit of God, is to debase the Spirit, and to exalt the power of the adversary to divine honor. And to ascribe the gifts and works of the Spirit of God to Satan, is to blaspheme so as to have no forgiveness forever. May the Spirit itself guide us into all truth, and save us from both deception and presumption.SGOM 8.1

    There is one question, which has been much controverted in the theological world upon which we have never presumed to enter. It is that of the personality of the Spirit of God. Prevailing ideas of person are very diverse, often crude, and the word is differently understood; so that unity of opinion on this point cannot be expected until all shall be able to define precisely what they mean by the word, or until all shall agree upon one particular sense in which the word shall be used. But as this agreement does not exist, it seems that a discussion of the subject cannot be profitable, especially as it is not a question of direct revelation. We have a right to be positive in our faith and our statements only when the words of Scripture are so direct as to bring the subject within the range of positive proof.SGOM 8.2

    We are not only willing but anxious to leave it just where the word of God leaves it. From it we learn that the Spirit of God is that awful and mysterious power which proceeds from the throne of the universe, and which is the efficient actor of the work of creation and of redemption.SGOM 9.1

    When the earth was just spoken into existence, while yet all was desolate and void,-SGOM 9.2

    “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2.SGOM 9.3

    The original word for moved has the sense of hovering or brooding, and does not mean moving, merely. It evidently refers to a process of formation, by the power of the Spirit of God, which immediately followed the act of creation.SGOM 9.4

    That the same power is active in the work of redemption is largely shown in that the incarnation of the Saviour, his teachings, miracles, and resurrection; the reproving and conviction of sinners; the enlightening, comforting, and sanctifying of believers; and, finally, the resurrection of the just, are all ascribed to the Spirit of God. No tongue can tell-no heart can conceive, how greatly we are indebted for its operations in our behalf.SGOM 9.5

    It is the Representative of the Saviour during his absence from the church. When Jesus told the disciples he was going to leave them, their hearts were sad. But he gave them a two-fold consolation; 1. He promised to come again and receive them unto himself. And from that hour to the day of their death they longed and prayed for his second advent to the earth. As pilgrims yet “in an enemy’s land,” we pray with them, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”SGOM 9.6

    2. He said he would not leave them as orphans, or comfortless, in this world of tribulation; he would pray the Father, and he would send them another Comforter. And as Christ came in the name of the Father, John 5:43, and therefore represented the Father, insomuch that they who had seen him had seen the Father, because the Father was in him and did the works which he did, John 14:9, 10, so the Spirit is come in the name of Jesus; verse 26. It is to us as truly a representative of Christ, as he was of the Father. He that received not Christ received not the Father; 1 John 2:23. Even so, he that hath not the Spirit hath rejected the Son-“he is none of his.” Romans 8:9. And because the Father sends the Spirit in the name of the Son, and the Son purchased the gift for us, it proceeds from both to us, and is called both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. Compare 1 Peter 1:10, 11, and 2 Peter 1:21.SGOM 10.1

    The Spirit is to abide with the disciples of Christ till his return, for the word forever has this extent in the promise. The Saviour lived but a few years upon the earth; his ministry covered a period of only three and a half years. But the presence of the Spirit as a Guide and Comforter shall be during the entire dispensation-the gospel age.SGOM 10.2

    A most important truth is taught in Luke 11. Though the Spirit is to “reprove the world,” it does not act as a Comforter and Sanctifier to any unless they voluntarily receive it. Jesus was in the world, and was “the light of the world,” but the world rejected the light. But, “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God John 1:12. And, though the Spirit is sent into the world to abide in the world to fulfill its various offices, Jesus taught us that we should pray for it. The teaching of many in this degenerate age is contrary to this; but to this refers directly the oft quoted injunction:-SGOM 10.3

    “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”SGOM 11.1

    After giving illustrations of the readiness of parents to give needed things to their children, he continued:-SGOM 11.2

    “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” Luke 11:9-13.SGOM 11.3

    Therefore we conclude that if we do not believe the Spirit should be prayed for, or if, for any cause, we neglect to ask for it, we cannot expect to receive it.SGOM 11.4

    But an objection is raised against this truth. It is said, There is danger of being deceived; there are “seducing spirits” in the world; 1 Timothy 4:1; and men are liable to be led by these, while they think they are led by the Spirit of God; and the danger is very great, as Satan transforms himself to an angel of light.SGOM 11.5

    There is much truth in this objection; not only is there danger of being deceived, but thousands are deceived, and led on, by the deception, to their destruction. And therefore we should be all the more careful in our walk and in our prayers. But let us examine our Saviour’s illustrations.SGOM 11.6

    “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” Luke 11:12.SGOM 12.1

    Now if a son is so blinded, or his senses so benumbed, that he cannot tell the difference between bread and a stone, or a fish and a serpent, or an egg and a scorpion, then is his case, indeed, deplorable. And if he is so far from his father, and so little acquainted with him, that, when he asks for bread, a deceiver steps in, and, pretending to be his father, gives him a stone instead, and he does not know the difference, his case may be regarded as desperate.SGOM 12.2

    But what would the objector think or say, should he see a son refuse to take bread from the willing hand of a kind father because stones were so numerous in the land? Should such a course be pursued by any one we could only expect that death by starvation would be the result.SGOM 12.3

    The apostle James gives important instruction on this point. If we “ask amiss,” either in lack of faith or to gratify our selfishness, we shall not receive. God’s will and glory must be kept in view. Self must be denied and crucified. Our consecration to God must be complete. Our submission to his will and pleasure must be perfect, so that we are ready to bear any cross, to accept any truth, or to take any advance step in the work of faith; in abort, we must abide in him and have his word abiding in us, and then we may ask what we will and it shall be done. John 15:7.SGOM 12.4

    Many fail to receive the gracious influence of the Spirit, or receiving it, abuse it, and so shut up the way of further blessings, by receiving it as the end of Christian effort instead of as a means. When such are blessed of Heaven they consider that the object of religious effort has been accomplished; and they sit down to enjoy themselves, or to congratulate themselves over their gifts and graces. A greater mistake could not be made. So does the gormandizer take his food as the means of self-gratification, and this is the end of his efforts. But the man who realizes the responsibilities of life, and who has a true interest in the faithful discharge of life’s duties, accepts his food as the means of gathering strength for future labor and usefulness. The Spirit will be given to all who ask for it as a means of renewing their strength that they may engage more successfully in the Christian warfare, and gain new victories to the glory of the Captain of our salvation.SGOM 13.1

    Paul speaks of “those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14. It is unfortunate that so many lack this discernment; they have never so used their senses as to have them available to any practical benefit. In gifts of the Spirit they discern only evil. Every object is to them a stone, a serpent, or a scorpion. Humility, self-denying, cross-bearing, and earnest prayer would enable them to see unnumbered blessings, great and precious, clustering along their pathway, where all is now dark, dreary, and forbidding.SGOM 13.2

    The objections which these offer against accepting the manifestations of the Spirit will hold equally good against uniting with any church; because, while the church of Christ is a unit (for “there is one body”), there are many and diverse churches in the world, and therefore the chances are that we shall unite with a wrong one, and so be led astray. But the objector readily replies, We must choose that one which bears the divine impress; which presents the characteristics of the true church according to the New Testament. That is right. And so also with regard to the Holy Spirit and its manifestations. We must compare all with the divine standard, and receive that which will bear all the tests of the word of God, and reject all which are condemned by that infallible rule. It is to be regretted that so little attention is paid to this important subject; that so little is known in general, concerning the promises, the operations, and the gifts of the Spirit of God.SGOM 13.3

    There is one office of the Spirit which is not only ignored, but denied by many at the present time. It is that of Reprover. Jesus said:-SGOM 14.1

    “And when he is come he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8.SGOM 14.2

    They who deny the exercise of this office to the Spirit say that the promise of the direct presence of the Spirit is only to the church, as a Comforter; that they only who are members of the church can receive the influence of the Spirit in any manner; and that they who receive it do so, not as an evidence of that membership, but because of that membership. The world is reproved, they say, only by the word which the Spirit has indited; and the threatenings of the word are the only method of reproof, the Spirit itself not being present at all.SGOM 14.3

    But this does not accord with the words of the Saviour, that the Spirit comes into the world to reprove the world. It plainly appears that the Spirit of God was striving with man in the days of Noah. Genesis 6:3. Stephen accused the Jews of resisting it. Acts 7:51. And if it is allowable to assume that the Spirit strives with and reproves men only by means of the threatenings and reproofs of the word, we may with equal propriety assume that it comforts the saints only by the promises of the word. And then we have the Spirit banished entirely, as far as actual presence is concerned, and the promise of the Saviour is destroyed. We claim, and we think with good reason, that to deny its presence in comforting the saints is doing no greater violence to the Scriptures than to deny its presence in reproving sinners. And if there be no real presence of the Spirit in these works we may in vain ask the Father to give us the Spirit, notwithstanding the Saviour’s instructions in Luke 11:9-13. Nor can it then be true, as promised in our text, John 14:16, that the Spirit will abide with us forever, no, nor even visit us at all.SGOM 15.1

    We ought to consider ourselves responsible for every conclusion which may logically be drawn from our position. Therefore men ought to fear greatly when they take such a position as that which we now call in question, because it really removes the Spirit from the work of the gospel, as a Comforter as well as a Reprover. We fear that such positions are taken because men are too easily satisfied with a nominal religion, destitute of the Spirit’s power.SGOM 15.2

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