Phoebe Palmer



CHAPTER XVII.

Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?



"And finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost."

PAUL.

IT is possible to be acknowledged disciples in the church, and, after some sort, to believe, or the question, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" had not been asked. Alas! How few out of the great body of professed believers, either male or female, have received the Holy Ghost since they believed! They are in the state of which the apostle speaks when he said, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ," or in the state in which the disciples were before the day of Pentecost.

And never could they have made aggressive inroads on the kingdom of Satan in this state. But how quickly might a change, as marked as that which occurred to the disciples on the day of Pentecost, occur to the great mass of Christ's disciples in every region, if they would only bring the matter to a point of decision, and say, "I will have the blessing now." And why not have the blessing, the gift of the Holy Ghost, now, if it has already been purchased and promised? And He who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and with fire is ever standing in the midst of his people, saying, "Come, for all things are
now ready."

We were favored one morning, at quite an early hour, with a visit from a man of business, whose name stood first in the official board of the church of which he was a member. Such was his religious position that we knew many eyes were fastened upon him, and we earnestly desired that he should be made a recipient of the full baptism of the Holy Ghost, and thus be a leading spirit, under God, in arousing the membership of that church to arise and put on their strength. When we asked whether, since he believed, he had received the gift of the Holy Ghost, he hesitated, and then said, somewhat dubiously, that he did not know but he had loved the Lord with all his heart from the hour he first took upon himself the profession of Christ.

Of course we did not doubt his sincerity, and yet we could not feel that the power of his life had been answerable to such an experience. Peter might have said the same before he received the gift of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost; and, in fact, he did affirm what might seem to imply as much, when he said, "Though all men forsake thee, yet will not I." It is possible for professed disciples of Jesus to follow him at such a distance as not to be aware of their true state. Christ is the light of the world; and if we follow him afar off, we can be deceived in relation to our spiritual condition. Peter was not hypocritical nor insincere when he professed so much love to the Saviour, but he surely was mistaken.

We still pressed the inquiry, and entreated our friend not to rest until he could testify explicitly that through grace he "loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength." This is the first great command, and whether we will obey or otherwise is not left optional with ourselves. God requires present obedience. A wise, loving father will demand this of a child; and can the Lord our Redeemer demand less? We assured this friend that if he regarded the subject as important as he would soon see it to be, when viewed in the light of eternity, or as important as those early disciples perceived it to be who waited for this gift of power, that he would not rest his head on his pillow at night until it was attained. What was wanting was the will. "I will have it now, at any or every sacrifice, let it cost me what it may."

The Holy Spirit applied the truth, and our friend resolved that he would at once make every earthly project subservient to the attainment of the gift. He was a man of business; but he decided to put aside the ordinary business of the day, and to make a point of getting the full baptism of the Holy Ghost, as marked as did those early disciples who were commanded to wait till they received the promise of the Father. And did ever one thus wait in vain? Before the evening of that day he was rejoicing in the conscious baptism of the Holy Spirit, and he hastened with joyful lips to speak, as the Spirit gave utterance, of the great things God had done for his soul; and we trust many believed through his testimony, and resolved in obtaining the like gift of power.

Now, who can conceive otherwise than that this Christian brother was an infinite gainer in making his temporal business subservient to the attainment of this rich baptism of the Holy Ghost? He might have prayed for it day after day, but if he had not brought it to the point, "I will have it now," he would probably have passed on till the day of his death, and not have obtained it. Alas! how many disciples have not received the Holy Ghost since they believed, because they never really resolved that they will be holy now!

And this reminds us of a minister we met in our journeyings. In allusion to a letter we had written years previous, in which it was said, "Men are not holy because they never really purpose to be holy now," he asked, "Do you remember this?" We assured him in the affirmative, when he said about thus: Well, when I read that sentence, I was startled at the thought, and exclaimed, "My God, am I not a holy man because I never really purposed to be holy now!" I was in my study, and I went to the door and locked it, saying in my heart, "Never do I leave this place till I know that I am a holy man." Long before the day closed, this minister was rejoicing with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. He had received the baptism of fire, and now he was prepared to go out and speak as the Spirit gave utterance.

His wife was the first one to come to his study door, and as he told her of the gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with which he was now being blessed, she also felt that she must have the same grace. He felt the urgings of the Spirit to go out among his people, and proclaim Christ a Saviour, able to save unto the uttermost. There had been no intimations of a revival; and perhaps he may not have said things vastly different from what he had said before; but an unction, doubtless, now attended his ministrations, which made them effectual wholly beyond what they had formerly been. Many were quickened in the divine life. Those who had long resisted the Spirit began to yield, and in a short time about ninety souls were gathered into the fold of Christ. We might present scores of illustrations similar to the above, by way of exemplifying the fact that the reason why the disciples of Jesus do not now receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, is, because they do not resolve to
tarry at Jerusalem, making every thing subservient to the present attainment of the gift.

It is a pearl of great price. It was purchased at an infinite expenditure, and, though not to be bought with silver and gold, yet not to be obtained until we sell all for it. It cost all, and can only be received by giving all. How can the offering be consumed until it is actually
laid on the altar? This implies the necessity of an act between God and the soul. The offering, when laid on the altar, becomes virtually God's property. Christ is the Christian's altar. It is not the worthiness of the offerer, or the greatness of the gift, that makes the offering "holy, acceptable," but the virtue of the altar on which the offering is laid. "The altar sanctifieth the gift."

When God was about to establish his covenant with Abraham, by which he was to be constituted the "father of the faithful" to all generations, Abraham brought his offering. The offering was in the eye of God "holy, acceptable," the moment it was laid upon the altar. For God had thus ordained,
"Whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy." Abraham's offering, therefore, was as truly the Lord's before it was consumed as it was afterwards, when he saw the fire descend and consume the sacrifice. Faith on that point was no more needful. When he saw the holy fire consuming the sacrifice, faith was changed to sight.

Now, suppose, after he had laid this his offering on the altar, and in view of the fact that the sacred fire did not immediately descend and consume it, that he had taken the sacrifice away, would not the act have been
sacrilegious? Yet do not many sin after this similitude? Reader, have you not sinned thus? Have you not said before the Lord repeatedly, Lord I do lay all upon thine altar? It was your error that you did not wait, as did Abraham. You should have tarriedwatchingwaiting for the descent of the consuming flame.

If, in the intermediate time, between laying the sacrifice on the altar and the descent of the holy fire, duty calls to present or continuous action, calculated to divide the attentions, do the duty as unto God; for there is no duty to which you may be called in the order of God, secular or otherwise, but may be done as unto the Lord. "Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do," all may be done to the glory of God, and therefore performed as an act of devotion, and consonant with the fact that body, soul, and spirit, family, reputation, and estate, are
all on the altar. Even servants who are, in the way of duty, called to serve froward masters, may perform every act of service, as an act of devotion to Christ. "For," says the apostle, " ye serve the Lord Christ."

And while thus watching and waiting, and in view of the solemn fact that you have bound the sacrifice everlastingly to the altar, by yielding yourself up in an unconditional, irrevocable, and absolute surrender to God, acting on the principle that you are
already the Lord's, — and how can it be otherwise, since you have bound your sacrifice to God's altar? — while thus watching and waiting, guarding the sacrifice from the touch of pollution, the consuming fire will descend.

Perhaps it will come at some unlooked-for moment. It may be while engaging in some self-sacrificing duty that the Holy Spirit's quickening flame may fall, energizing your whole being, and the cloven tongue of fire may be given, so that you may feel intense longings to spread the sacred flame, and speak as the Spirit gives utterance. That the Pentecostal fire will descend, if you will thus wait in the way of duty, resolving that you will not permit your attention to be unnecessarily scattered, is as true as God is true. This is "the promise of the Father," "which," saith Jesus, "ye have heard of me." The promise of the immutable Jehovah is pledged. The eternally " faithful and true Witness" hath said it, and heaven and earth shall pass away, ere the promise shall fail.

But let us not for one moment be unmindful of what the special promise of the Father is, here alluded to, or the imperativeness of Christ's
command, that his disciples should, in the way of his own appointment, wait for it. Not one of the redeemed family, with the Bible in hand, is left to mere conjecture in regard to these, the most momentous truths of divine revelation. They are not truths of an indefinite character, in regard to which men may speculate, and then carelessly turn aside. Diversified and endless responsibilities, weighty as the worth of the soul, and solemn as eternity, will be the result of the knowledge which these truths impose. This endowment of power, which has been set forth as a specialty of the dispensation of the age in which we live, cannot knowingly be dispensed with, by either man or woman, without incurring guilt before God.

The privilege of obtaining the full baptism of the Holy Ghost is clearly set forth as the rightful heritage of every believer.
Privileges are duties, because purchased by the death and sufferings of the Son of God. Dear reader, are you a professed disciple of the Saviour? If so, have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? Or, are you in the state in which the disciples were, before they were endued with power from on high? If so, that endowment of power, by which you may be fitted to bear fruit, is wanting. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." It is only thus that you can retain your state of discipleship. Fruitless branches must be dissevered from the vine.

Had not those early disciples obeyed the command of their Lord, and tarried at Jerusalem until they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, they would have lost their claim to discipleship, and have been cast off as withered branches. Thus it will be with you, unless you obediently go forward, and walk while you have the light. Do not lay this volume carelessly from you, and conclude that you will tomorrow, or next week, or at some indefinite period, attend to this subject. Do it now. Use the light while you have it, for the night cometh. Leave the fulfillment of your purpose till tomorrow, or next week, and the keen perceptions you now have on this subject may have vanished, no more to be recalled. O, present yourself as in the more immediate presence of God
now, and in the name of the Lord Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength, resolve that you will never rest until you are empowered to be a witness for God of the excellency of the full baptism of the Holy Spirit.

"Our blest Redeemer, ere he breathed
His last farewell,
A Guide, — a Comforter bequeathed,
With us to dwell.

"He comes his graces to impart,
A willing guest,
While he can find one humble heart
Wherein to rest."