THE PARACLETE'S "ECCE HOMO" IN THE BELIEVER.
Under this novel caption the reader is apprised that we will not discuss the supreme folly and wickedness of Herod's act of political expediency when he presented the Son of God to His enemies to be crucified. Nor are we about to criticise Guido's immortal painting of the thorn-crowned head of the Man of Sorrows. Nor have we taken up our pen to review that anonymous book which appeared thirty years ago, so fresh and original in style as to arouse the interest of two continents, yet so theologically indefinite that evangelical writers condemned it as rationalistic, and rationalists condemned it as evangelical. The title which we have chosen for this chapter implies that it is the office of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to the believer. We are not now purposing to dwell upon His office of inspiration by which He gave to the whole world an accurate history of the life and works of Jesus and a reliable record of His words. This exceedingly important function of the promised Comforter we pass by in order to amplify upon another function of the Spirit which needs special emphasis because it is more apt to be overlooked and forgotten – the inward revelation of Christ in the consciousness of the adult believer, as distinguished from that infantile faith by which a penitent is born into the kingdom of God. Uncertainty and doubt perplex and weaken immature Christians. Christ is to them an outside and distant person whom they endeavor with painful effort to bring near and to make real. They try to do the orthodox thing, to cherish certain beliefs about Him. But there is no warmth, no inspiration, no enthusiasm, no intense love. Their experience is much of the time dreary, and their Christian service is mechanical and constrained, not free, spontaneous and joyful. What is lacking? Not the new birth, but a definite experience which follows regeneration. The new birth implants love divine. When this love has been tested and strengthened by obedience it is our privilege by faith to have a spiritual manifestation of Christ in our hearts. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him." In every generation since the day of Pentecost there have been witnesses to the fulfilment of this promise. They were never more numerous than they are to-day in all Christian lands and in all evangelical churches. They testify to a wonderful clearness of spiritual vision. Truth takes on reality and solidity. The eyes of the heart have been anointed as the recent application of the X-rays to fluorescent spectacles gives to the bodily eyes an amazing power of penetration called the fluorescent bath. Jesus is no longer a distant abstraction, but a person vividly near and real, the one altogether lovely. Love to Him now becomes intense, passionate and all-consuming. His commands are now delightful, and they are unhesitatingly obeyed. "When it pleased God," says Paul, "who called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen (treated as dogs by the Jews); immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." There in Damascus the scales of Jewish prejudice fell off from his eyes, and the Spirit gave them a fluorescent bath by which he could see Jesus, not now in the clouds above, but in his heart as an abiding guest. This explains his heroic career of labors, dangers and sufferings cheerfully undergone in attestation of the truth of Christianity.
We are often where the Ephesians were when they said, 'We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.' What came to them and saved them was the Holy Ghost. What must come to us and save us is the same Holy Spirit. There they were holding certain truths about God and Jesus, holding them drearily and coldly, with no life and no Spirit in their faith. God the Holy Spirit came into them, and then their old belief opened into a different belief; then they really believed. Can any day in a man's life compare with that day? If it were to break forth into flames of fire and tremble with sudden and mysterious wind, would it seem strange to him-the day when he first knew how near God was, and how true truth was, and how deep Christ was? Have we known that day?
The Holy Spirit not only gives clearness to truth, but gives delight and enthusiastic impulse to duty. The work of the Spirit was to make Jesus vividly real to man. What He did for any poor Ephesian man or woman who was toiling away in obedience to the law of Christianity was to make Christ real to the toiling soul behind and in the law. I find a Christian who has really received the Holy Ghost, and what is it that strikes and delights me in him? It is the intense and intimate reality of Christ. Christ is evidently to him the dearest person in the universe. He talks to Christ. He dreads to offend Christ. He delights to please Christ. His whole life is light and elastic with this buoyant desire of doing everything for Jesus, just as Jesus would wish it done. Duty has been transfigured. The weariness, the drudgery, the whole task nature have been taken away. Love has poured like a new lifeblood along the dry veins, and the soul that used to toil and groan and struggle goes now singing along its way, 'The life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.' (Phillips Brooks.)