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The Personality of the Holy Spirit: C.H. Spurgeon Sermon

Category Articles, Resources
Date October 25, 2022

The following sermon, published as ‘The Personality of the Holy Ghost’, was delivered on Sabbath morning, January 21, 1855, by the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

‘And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 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 propose to reserve that for a special Sermon this evening.[1] In this discourse I shall endeavour to explain and enforce certain other doctrines which I believe are plainly taught in this text and which I hope God the Holy Ghost 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, said he, ‘they are books of halfpence;—you have to take so much in 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 leaf is a bank note of immense value.’ So I found with this text: that I had a bank note of so large a sum, that I could not tell it out all this morning. I should have to keep you several hours, before I could unfold to you the whole value of this precious promise—one of the last which Christ gave to his people.

I invite your attention to this passage, because we shall find in it some instruction on four points, first, concerning the true and proper personality of the Holy Ghost; secondly, concerning the united agency of the glorious Three Persons in the work of our salvation; thirdly, we shall find something to establish the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of all believers; and fourthly, we shall find out the reason why the carnal mind rejects the Holy Ghost.

1. First of all, we shall have some little instruction concerning the proper PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. We are so much accustomed to talk about the influence of the Holy Ghost, 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 a subsistence—an existence; or as we Trinitarians usually say, one person in the essence of the Godhead. I am afraid that, though we do not know it, we have acquired the habit of regarding the Holy Ghost as an emanation flowing from the Father and the Son, but not as being actually a person himself. I know it is not easy to carry about in our mind the idea of the Holy Spirit as a person. I can think of the Father as a person, because his acts are such as I can understand. I see him hang the world in ether; I behold him swaddling a new-born sea in bands of darkness; I know it is he who formed the drops of hail, who leadeth forth the stars by their hosts, and calleth them by their name, I can conceive of Him as a person, because I behold his operations. I can realize 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 ‘Men of sorrows and acquainted with grief;’ of the King of martyrs, as he was persecuted in Pilate’s hall, or nailed to the accursed tree for our sins. Nor do I find it difficult at times to realize the person of my Jesus sitting on his throne in heaven; or girt with clouds and wearing the diadem 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 Ghost, his operations are so mysterious, his doings are so secret, his acts are so removed from everything that is of sense, and of the body, that I cannot so easily get the idea of his being a person; but a person he is. God the Holy Ghost is not an influence, an emanation, 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 shall attempt this morning a little to establish the doctrine, and to show you the truth of it—that God the Holy Spirit is actually a person.

The first proof we shall gather from the pool of holy baptism. Let me take you down, as I have taken others, into the pool, now concealed, but which I wish were always open to your view. Let me take you to the baptismal font, where believers put on the name of the Lord Jesus, and you shall hear me pronounce the solemn words, ‘I baptize thee in the name,’—mark, ‘in the name,’ not names,— ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ Every one who is baptized according to the true form laid down in Scripture, must be a Trinitarian: otherwise his baptism is a farce and a lie, and he himself is found a deceiver and a hypocrite before God. As the Father is mentioned, and as the Son is mentioned, so is the Holy Ghost, and the whole is summed up as being a Trinity in unity, by its being said, not the names, but the ‘name’ the glorious name, the Jehovah name, ‘of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ Let me remind you that the same thing occurs each time you are dismissed from this house of prayer. In pronouncing the solemn closing benediction, we invoke on your behalf the love of Jesus Christ, the grace of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and thus, according to the apostolic manner, we make a manifest distinction between the persons showing that we believe the Father to be a person, the Son to be a person, and the Holy Ghost to be a person. Were there no other proofs in Scripture, I think these would be sufficient for every sensible man. He would see that if the Holy Spirit were a mere influence, he would not be mentioned in conjunction with two whom we all confess to be actual and proper persons.

A second argument arises from the fact, that the Holy Ghost has actually made different appearances on earth. The Great Spirit has manifested himself to man; he has put on a form, so that whilst he has not been beheld by mortal men, he has been so veiled in appearance that he was seen, so far as that appearance was concerned, by the eyes of all beholders. See you Jesus Christ our Saviour? There is the river Jordan, with its shelving banks, and its willows weeping at its stale. 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 shineth from the sky, brighter than the sun in all its grandeur, and down in a flood of glory descends something which you recognize to be a dove. It rests on Jesus—it sits upon his sacred head, and as the old painters put a halo round the brow of Jesus, so did the Holy Ghost shed a resplendence around the face of him who came to fulfil all Righteousness, and therefore commenced with the ordinances of baptism. The Holy Ghost 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 descendeth. Nor is this the only time when the Holy Ghost has been manifest in a visible shape. You notice that company of disciples gathered together in an upper room, they are waiting for some promised blessing, by-and-by it shall come. Hark! there is a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, it fills all the 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: cloven tongues of fire sat upon them. What were these marvellous appearances of wind and flame but a display of the Holy Ghost in his proper person? 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 behold influences. The Holy Ghost must then have been a person; since he was beheld by mortal eyes, and came under the cognizance of mortal sense.

Another proof is from the fact, that personal qualities are, in Scripture, ascribed to the Holy Ghost. First, let me read to you a text in which the Holy Ghost is spoken of as having understanding. In the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, chap 2, you will read, ‘But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.’ Here you see an understanding—a power of knowledge is ascribed to the Holy Ghost. Now, if there be any persons here whose minds are of so preposterous a complexion that they would ascribe one attribute to another, and would speak of a mere influence having understanding, then I give up all the argument. But I believe every rational man will admit, that when anything is spoken of as having an understanding it must be an existence—it must, in fact, be a person. In the 12th chap., 11th verse of the same Epistle, you will find a will ascribed to the Holy Spirit. ‘But all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.’ So it is plain the Spirit has a will. He does not come from God simply at God’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. In another text power is ascribed to the Holy Ghost, and power is a thing which can only be ascribed to an existence. In Romans 15:13, it is written, ‘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.’ I need not insist upon 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 upon you than any other. Acts and deeds are ascribed to the Holy Ghost; therefore he must be a person. You read in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, that the Spirit brooded over the surface of the earth, when it was as yet all disorder and confusion. 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 Ghost spread his wings over it; he sowed the seeds of life in it; the germs from which all beings sprang were implanted by him; he impregnated 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 do we not read in Scripture something more of the Holy Ghost? Yes, we are told that ‘holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ When Moses penned the Pentateuch, the Holy Ghost moved his hand, when David wrote the Psalms, and discoursed sweet music on his harp, it was the Holy Spirit that gave his fingers their Seraphic motion; when Solomon dropped from his lips the words of the Proverbs of wisdom, or when he hymned the Canticles of love it was the Holy Ghost who gave him words of knowledge and hymns of rapture. Ah! and what fire was that which touched the lips of the eloquent Isaiah? What hand was that which came upon Daniel? What might was that which made Jeremiah so plaintive in his grief? or what was that which winged Ezekiel, and made him like an eagle, soar into mysteries aloft, and see the mighty unknown beyond our reach? Who was it that made Amos, the herdsman, a prophet? Who taught the rough Haggai to pronounce his thundering sentences? Who showed Habbakuk the horses of Jehovah marching through the waters? or who kindled the burning eloquence of Nahum? Who caused Malachi to close up the book with the muttering of the word curse? Who was in each of these, save the Holy Ghost? And must it not have been a person who spake in and through these ancient witnesses? We must believe it. We cannot avoid believing it, when we recall that ‘holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’

And when has the Holy Ghost ceased to have an influence upon men? We find that still he deals with his ministers and with all his saints. Turn to the Acts, and you will find that the Holy Ghost said, ‘Separate me Paul and Barnabas for the work.’ I never heard of an attribute saying such a thing. The Holy Spirit said to Peter, ‘Go to the centurion, and what I have cleansed, that call not thou common’. The Holy Ghost caught away Philip after he had baptised the eunuch, and carried him to another place; and the Holy Ghost said to Paul, ‘Thou shalt not go into that city, but shalt turn into another.’ And we know that the Holy Ghost was lied unto by Ananias and Sapphira, when it was said, ‘Thou hast not lied unto man, but unto God.’ Again, that power which we feel every day who are called to preach—that wondrous spell which makes our lips so potent—that power which gives us thoughts which are like birds from a far-off region, not the natives of our soul—that influence which I sometimes strangely feel, which, if it does not give me poetry and eloquence, gives me a might I never felt before, and lifts me above my fellow-man—that majesty with which he clothes his ministers, till in the midst of the battle they cry, aha! like the war-horse of Job, and move themselves like leviathans in the water—that power which gives us might over men, and causes them to sit and listen as if their ears were chained, as if they were entranced by the power of some magician’s wand—that power must come from a person, it must come from the Holy Ghost.

But is it not said in Scripture, and do we not feel it, dear brethren, that it is the Holy Ghost who regenerates the soul? It is the Holy Ghost who quickens us. ‘You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.’ It is the Holy Spirit who imparts the first germ of life, convincing us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. And is it not 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 it be said that it is the Holy Ghost who strives in men’s souls, that it is the Holy Ghost who brings them to the foot of Sinai, and then guides them into the sweet place that is called Calvary—can it be said 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 that these things can be done by any other than a glorious person—a divine existence.

Allow me to give you one more proof, and I shall have done. Certain feelings are ascribed to the Holy Ghost, which can only be understood upon the supposition that he is actually a person. In the 4th chapter of Ephesians, verse 30th, it is said that the Holy Ghost can be grieved: ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.’ In Isaiah, chap. 63:5-10 it is said that the Holy Ghost can be vexed: ‘But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit, therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.’ In Acts, chap. 7:51, you read that the Holy Ghost can be resisted: ‘Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.’ And in the 5th chapter, 9th verse of the same book, you will find that the Holy Ghost may be tempted. We are there informed that Peter said to Ananias and Sapphira, ‘How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt 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, vexed, or resisted.

And now, dear brethren, I think I have fully established the point of the personality of the Holy Ghost; allow me now, most earnestly, to impress upon you the absolute necessity of being sound unto the doctrine of the Trinity. I knew a man, a good minister of Jesus Christ he is now, and I believe he was before he turned aside unto heresy—he began to doubt the glorious divinity of our blessed Lord, and for years did he preach the heterodox doctrine, until one day he happened to hear a very eccentric old minister preaching from the text, ‘But there the glorious Lord shall be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. Thy tacklings are loosed: they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail.’ ‘Now,’ said the old minister, ‘you give up the Trinity, and your tacklings are loosed, you cannot strengthen your masts. Once give up the doctrine of three persons, and your tacklings are all gone. Your mast, which ought to be a support to your vessel, is a ricketty one, and shakes.’ A gospel without a Trinity!—it is a pyramid built upon its apex. A gospel without the Trinity!—it is a rope of sand that cannot hold together. A gospel without the Trinity!—then, indeed, Satan can overturn it. But, give me a gospel with the Trinity, and the might of hell cannot prevail against it; no man can any more overthrow it, than a bubble could split a rock, or a feather break in halves a mountain. Get the thought of the three persons, and you have the marrow of all divinity. Only know the Father, and know the Son, and know the Holy Ghost to be One, and all things will appear clear. This is the golden key to the secrets of nature; this is the silken clue of the labyrinths of mystery, and he who understands this, will soon understand as much as mortals ever can know.

2. Now for the 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 pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.’ There are the three persons mentioned, all of them doing something for our salvation. ‘I will pray,’ says the Son. ‘I will send,’ says the Father. ‘I will comfort,’ says the Holy Ghost. Now, let us for a few moments discourse upon this wondrous theme—the unity of the Three Persons 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.’ The covenant Elohim said to each other, ‘Let us unitedly become the Creator of man.’ So, when in ages far gone by in eternity, they said, ‘Let us save man.’ It was not the Father who said, ‘Let me save man,’ but the three persons conjointly said with one consent, ‘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 for my salvation; it is not simply one person of the Godhead who vows that he will redeem me, but it is a glorious trio of Godlike ones, and the three declare, unitedly, ‘We will save man.’

Now, observe here, that each person is spoken of as performing a separate office. ‘I will pray,’ says the Son—that is intercession. ‘I will send,’ says the Father—that is donation. ‘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 should behold one of them standing before the throne with outstretched hands crying day and night, ‘O Lord, how long?’ We should see one girt with Urim and Thummin, precious stones, on which are written the twelve names of the tribes of Israel; we should behold him crying unto his Father, ‘Forget not thy promises, forget not thy covenant,’ we should hear him make mention of our sorrows, and tell forth our griefs on our behalf, for he is our intercessor. And could we behold the Father, we should not see him a listless and idle spectator of the intercession of the Son, but we should see him with attentive ear listening to every word of Jesus, and granting every petition. Where is the Holy Spirit all the while? Is he lying idle? Oh 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 bids the mourner look for comfort on the cross. When he sees the tempest-tost believer, he takes the helm of his soul and speaks the word of consolation, he helpeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds; and ever on his mission of mercy, he flies around the world, being everywhere present. Behold how the three persons work together. Do not then say, ‘I am grateful to the Son,’—so you ought to be, but God the Son no more saves you than God the Father. Do not imagine that God the Father is a great tyrant, and that God the Son had to die to make him merciful. It was not to make the Father’s love flow towards his people. Oh, no. One loves as much as the other; the three are conjoined 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—the one person promises to the 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 is the Son signing a bond on behalf of the Father. ‘He will send you another Comforter.’ There is a bond on behalf of the Holy Spirit, too. ‘And he will abide with you forever.’ One person speaks for the other, and how could they if there were any disagreement between them? If one wished to save, and the other not, they could not promise on one another’s behalf. But whatever the Son says, the Father listens to, whatever the Father promises, the Holy Ghost works, and whatever the Holy Ghost injects into the soul, that God the Father fulfils. So the three together mutually promise on one another’s behalf. There is a bond with three names appended—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. By three immutable things, as well as by two, the Christian is secured beyond the reach of death and hell. A Trinity of Securities, because there is a trinity of God.

3. Our third point is the INDWELLING of the Holy Ghost 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 Ghost is a subject so profound, and so having to do with the inner man, that no soul will be able truly and really to comprehend what I say, unless it has been taught of God. I have heard of an old minister, who told a Fellow of one of the Cambridge Colleges, that he understood a language that he never learnt in all 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 shall now have to talk a little of the language of Canaan. If you cannot comprehend me, I am much afraid it is because you are not of Israelitish extraction, 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 abide in the saints for ever; who would dwell with them and be in them. Old Ignatius, the martyr, used to call himself Theophorus, or the Godbearer, ‘because,’ said he, ‘I bear about with me the Holy Ghost.’ And truly every Christian is a God-bearer. Know ye not that ye are temples of the Holy Ghost? for he dwelleth in you. That man is no Christian who is not the subject of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; he may talk well, he may understand theology and be a sound Calvinist; he will be the child of nature finely dressed, but not the living child. He may be a man of so profound an intellect, so gigantic a soul, so comprehensive a mind, and so lofty an imagination, that he may dive into all the secrets of nature; may know the path which the eagle’s eye hath not seen, and go into depths where the ken of mortals reacheth not; but he shall not be a Christian with all his knowledge, he shall not be a son of God with all his researches, unless he understands what it is to have the Holy Ghost dwelling in him, and abiding in him, yea, and that for ever.

Some people call this fanaticism, and they say, ‘You are a Quaker: why not follow George Fox?’ Well we would not mind that much, we would follow any one who followed the Holy Ghost. Even he, with all his eccentricities, I doubt not, was, in many cases, 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 he feels that we are one. The Spirit of God in one Christian soul recognizes the Spirit in another. I recollect 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 should like him to be here this morning, because I would read this verse to him: ‘But ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall 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 should; the shock would be strong enough to make me know where I stood. So, if I have God within me—if I have Deity tabernacling in my breast—if I have God the Holy Ghost resting in my heart, and making a temple of my body, do you think I shall know it? Call ye it fanaticism if ye will; but I trust that there are some of us who know what it is to be always, or generally, under the influence of the Holy Spirit—always in one sense, generally in another. When we have difficulties we ask the direction of the Holy Ghost. When we do not understand a portion of Holy Scripture, we ask God the Holy Ghost to shine upon us. When we are depressed, the Holy Ghost comforts us. You cannot tell what the wondrous power of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost 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 fall in a slippery way, how it restrains his heart, and keeps him from temptation. O ye who know nothing of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, despise it not. O despise not the Holy Ghost, for it is the unpardonable sin. ‘He that speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but he that speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall never be forgiven him, either in this life, or that which is to come.’ So saith the Word of God. Therefore, tremble, lest in anything ye despise the influences of the Holy Spirit.

But before closing this point, there is one little word which pleases me very much, that is, ‘forever.’ You knew I should not miss that; you were certain I could not let it go without observation. ‘Abide with you for ever.’ I wish I could get an Arminian here to finish my sermon. I fancy I see him taking that word, ‘for ever.’ He would say, ‘for—for ever;’ he would have to stammer and stutter; for he never could get it out all at once. He might stand and pull it about, and at last he would have to say, ‘the translation is wrong.’ And then I suppose the poor man would have to prove that the original was wrong too. Ah! but blessed be God, we can read it— ‘He shall abide with you for ever.’ Once give me the Holy Ghost, and I shall never lose him till ‘for ever’ has run out; till eternity has spun its everlasting rounds.

4. Now we have to close up with a brief remark on the reason why the world rejects the Holy Ghost. It is said, ‘Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.’ You know what is sometimes meant by ‘the world,’—those whom God, in his wondrous sovereignty, passed over when he chose his people: the preterite ones; those passed over in God’s wondrous preterition—not the reprobates who were condemned to damnation by some awful decree, but those passed over by God, when he chose out his elect. These cannot receive the Spirit. Again, it means all in a carnal state are not able to procure themselves this divine influence; and thus it is true, ‘Whom the world cannot receive.’

The unregenerate world of sinners despises the Holy Ghost, ‘because it seeth him not.’ Yes, I believe this is the great secret why many laugh at the idea of the existence of the Holy Ghost—because they see him not. You tell the worldling, ‘I have the Holy Ghost within me.’ He says, ‘I cannot see it.’ He wants it to be something tangible: a thing he can recognize with his senses. Have you ever heard the argument used by a good old Christian against an infidel doctor? The doctor said there was no soul, and he 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 have only one on your side.’ ‘Very well,’ said the Christian, ‘Did you ever see a pain?’ ‘No.’ ‘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 worldling says there is no Holy Ghost, because he cannot see it. Well, but we feel it. You say that is fanaticism, and that we never felt it. Suppose you tell me that honey is bitter, I reply ‘No, I am sure you cannot have tasted it; taste it, and try.’ So with the Holy Ghost, if you did but feel his influence, you would no longer say there is no Holy Spirit, because you cannot see it. Are there not many things, even in nature, which we cannot see? Did you ever see the wind? No; but ye know there is wind, when ye behold the hurricane tossing the waves about and rending down the habitations of men; or when in the soft evening zephyr it kisses the flowers, and maketh dewdrops hang in pearly coronets around the rose. Did ye ever see electricity? No, but ye know there is such a thing, for it travels along the wires for thousands of miles, and carries our messages, though you cannot see the thing itself, you know there is such a thing. So you must believe there is a Holy Ghost working in us, both to will and to do, even though it is beyond our senses.

But the last reason why worldly men laugh at the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is because they do not know it. If they knew it by heart-felt experience, and if they recognized its agency in the soul; if they had ever been touched by it; 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 Ghost.

And now, beloved, it says, ‘He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.’ We will close up with that sweet recollection—the Holy Ghost dwells in all believers, and shall be with them.

One word of comment and advice to the saints of God, and to sinners, and I have done. Saints of the Lord! ye have this morning heard that God the Holy Ghost is a person; ye have had it proved to your souls. What follows from this? Why, it followeth how earnest ye 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 Ghost, that you should cry earnestly unto him, for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think. See this mass of people; what is to convert it? See this crowd; who is to make my influence permeate through the mass? You know this place has now a mighty influence, and God blessing us, it will have an influence, not only upon this city but upon England at large, for we now enjoy 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 productions will be scattered through the land—words uttered by my lips, or written by my pen. But how can this influence he rendered for good? How shall God’s glory be promoted by it? Only by incessant prayer for the Holy Spirit; by constantly calling down the influence of the Holy Ghost 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 earnest in pleading with the Holy Ghost, that he would come and own our labours, that the whole church at large may be revived thereby, and not ourselves only, but the whole world share in the benefit.

Then to the ungodly, I have this one closing word to say. Ever be careful how you speak of the Holy Ghost. I do not know what the unpardonable sin is, and I do not think any man understands it; but it is something like this: ‘He that speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall never be forgiven him.’ I do not know what that means: but tread carefully! There is danger; there is a pit which our ignorance has covered by sand, tread carefully! you may be in it before the next hour. If there is any strife in your heart to-day, perhaps you will go to the ale-house and forget it. Perhaps there is some voice speaking in your soul, and you will put it away. I do not tell you you will be resisting the Holy Ghost and committing the unpardonable sin; but it is somewhere there. Be very careful. Oh! there is no crime on earth so black as the crime against the Holy Spirit. Ye may blaspheme the Father, and ye shall be damned for it unless ye repent, ye may blaspheme the Son, and hell shall be your portion, unless ye are forgiven; but blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and thus saith the Lord, ‘There is no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world which is to come.’ I cannot tell you what it is, I do not profess to understand it; but there it is. It is the danger signal, stop! man, stop! If thou hast despised the Holy Spirit, if thou hast laughed at his revelations, and scorned what Christians call his influence, I beseech thee, stop! this morning seriously deliberate. Perhaps some of you have actually committed the unpardonable sin; stop! Let fear stop you; sit down. Do not drive on so rashly as you have done, Jehu! Oh! slacken your reins! Thou who art such a profligate in sin, thou who hast uttered such hard words against the Trinity, stop! Ah, it makes us all stop. It makes us all draw up and say, ‘Have I not perhaps so done?’ Let us think of this, and let us not at any time trifle either with the words, or the acts, of God the Holy Ghost.

[1] Published as No. 5 in the New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 1. We hope to repost this next week.


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