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CHAPTER XII.


THE HOLY SPIRIT'S EARTHLY TEMPLE.


"Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" — 1 Cor. vi. 19

The Spirit dwells not in the mass of Christians organized into the church, but in the heart of the individual believer. Man was created like God in his mental, moral, and spiritual constitution. In his body and soul (psyche) he is related to the animal orders. But in his spirit, the dome of his nature full of skylights, he is related to the spiritual intelligences above him and has the capacity for becoming the "habitation of God through the Spirit." As Adam was made a son of God within the sphere of creaturehood, he was made a temple of the Holy Spirit, as the only begotten Son was the Temple of the Spirit in the sphere of divinity. As God finished the first creation by breathing the life-giving Spirit into Adam's body, so Christ finished the new creation of his disciples when "he breathed on them and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." The Spirit received is the completion of the new creation. As Adam's fall caused the withdrawal of the Spirit when he lent his ear to the tempter's falsehoods, so his restoration is complete when the risen Christ breathes that Spirit anew into the soul that turns its ear to God in a total and irreversible self-surrender. Thus the last Adam becomes to every believer a quickening spirit by imparting the Comforter, the Lord of life. We must limit the Pentecostal gift, except as a reprover, to believers of every age, sex, and condition, and thus conditionally "upon all flesh" was the Spirit poured out as a permanent indwelling comforter.

In all the Christian ages there have been witnesses to the conscious indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These have been few and discredited in eras of rationalism, and stigmatized as mystics and fanatics in periods of formalism; but they have been numerous and received with credence in the most spiritual eras and sections of the Church. Their testimony is confirmed by their deadness to sin and self and fullness of joy. "It happens sometimes that the indwelling of Christ and God and his Spirit signalizes itself with such energy in the believer, that the human individual life is overflowed and swallowed up by the divine, as a river of delight" (
Biblical Psychology, p. 418). Delitzsch quotes the case of the "holy Ephrem who experienced such wondrous consolation that he often cried, 'Lord withdraw thy hand a little, for my heart is too weak to receive such excessive joy.'" John Fletcher at times offered a similar prayer. There are now on the earth witnesses to the conscious indwelling of the Holy Ghost in larger numbers probably than ever before. I know a man in Christ twenty-eight years ago — in the body, or out of the body, no matter which — into whose consciousness the Comforter came and took up his permanent abode, in a day and hour never to be forgotten either in this world or in that to come. Invisible himself he glorified Christ whom he revealed within as a bright reality, as he did in Paul, when God revealed his Son in him.

Though earnestly sought, his incoming was a blissful surprise. He brought with him delicious viands for a feast, which he spread for his guest; manna from heaven, and all the fruits of the celestial Paradise. The former residents he expelled. He sentenced depravity to the cross, and banished doubt to eternal exile. The touch of his hand removed all weakness, begirded with all strength, and disarmed all fear. The promise which he made when he entered, "I have come evermore to abide," he has thus far faithfully kept. Foreboded evil, borrowed trouble, and wasting worry — that dismal triad — slinking away from the radiant indwelling Christ, have disappeared as birds of night before the rising sun. Death, "the King of terrors," has been discrowned and reduced to a servant, a porter to open the gate when the tenant of the temple on the earth is invited to go up to his "house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." This man of more than two score blissful years is quite indifferent to the time when the invitation will come to leave the palace below, where he has supped with the King, and to enter the palace above, where the King will banquet him. The feast and the two table companions will be the same. Probably because of the innumerable host of other banqueters, men and angels, Paul had a slight leaning toward the upper temple "which is very far better" (Phil. i. 28, R. V.).

There is a difference in the way of the Spirit's coming in his fullness. The day of Pentecost is not to be taken as an exact model; certainly it is not in the supernatural concomitants, such as the sound as of a cyclone, the tongues of fire, and "the miracle of ears," rather than tongues, every man of sixteen nationalities hearing in his own language "the wonderful works of God."

It was proper that the advent of the promised Paraclete should be signalized by extraordinary and impressive phenomena. This is usual at new beginnings as at the giving of the Law on Sinai. In a lower degree, something of the same kind is noted in the great outpouring of the Spirit in missions, such as have graciously favored some of the Baptist and Methodist missions in India in recent years, and in revivals at home, sweeping over the country like a tidal wave. In these times of refreshing, Christian men are suddenly, mightily, manifestly, filled with the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, and unbelievers are deluged with his power in conviction of sin. It is natural for us to fail into the mistake of inferring that the incoming of the Spirit to take up his permanent abode in the inmost life of the believer, must be attended by the enthusiasm and overflowing gladness of Pentecost. The Spirit is not limited to one method of manifestation. He may accentuate love or peace, or some fruit other than joy, which is the most emotional of them all. For this reason there are special dangers to be guarded against. The blessing is often too much dependent on the concourse of many believers of like experience, or it is superficial and extends only to the emotions, the outermost and more accessible currents of the Soul's life. This we may call ecstatic fullness. The seat of character, the will in its deepest root, has not been completely subdued, and the inmost life has not been transformed. This is seen in the vacuity, the dissatisfaction which follows a change in externals, an abatement of the excitement of a jubilant crowd, and a removal from the contagious gladness of other Christians. Then we find out whether we ourselves have been baptized with fire, or whether we have been warmed by other people's fires. Moreover, it must have been noted by careful observers that there are Christians of the type of Barnabas, "a son of Consolation, a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost." These never speak of a cyclonic experience, a marked and memorable event sharply defined in memory. Yet the fullness of the Spirit manifests itself in deep and intense devotion to Christ; in a life of constant obedience and complete victory over sin; in a walk in the light of God's countenance; in a simple trust and uninterrupted and cloudless communion with the Father and the Son; and in the humility of a self-effacing love to all whom they can reach with their good deeds and prayers, whether friends or foes. We observe that such souls do not recur to dates, to sudden and memorable transitions and spiritual uplifts. Like Lydia, their hearts seem to have been gently opened to regenerating grace, and the Paraclete without observation has noiselessly gone from apartment to apartment till he has taken complete possession. This we may call ethical fullness. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled."

Professor Austin Phelps remarks that next to the mystery of the Three Persons in the one divine nature is the habitation of the human spirit by the Holy Spirit interpenetrating its substance with his vitalizing presence, pervading all the faculties of the human mind, becoming the life of its life, the soul within a soul, in a sense to which no other union makes any approximation. "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit" (1 Cor. vi. 17). This mystical union is symbolized by the human body united with the head, the branches and the vine, the union of husband and wife, the dependence of the temple on its corner-stone. Paul has a union with Christ by the Holy Spirit so intimate that he speaks of his own heart throbbing in the bosom of Jesus Christ: "For God is" my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ" (Phil. i. 8). It has been said that such is the Spirit's efficacy that there is not one thought, feeling, or emotion pervading the man Jesus Christ, amid the glories of the upper Sanctuary, but may be said to be reproduced in the experience of his people on the earth, so that their every want and sorrow vibrates to .him like the touching of a chord of which he is instantly aware. This telegraphic connection is implied in the joy of the angels over one penitent sinner, a ripple wave of gladness rolling over all the heavenly hosts. This communion of feeling is because the Holy Spirit who dwells in Christ dwells also in his people.

Are believers conscious of this indwelling of the Spirit? If not at all times they certainly are sometimes in moments and hours, and even days of cloudless communion with God. "But ye know him (the Comforter); for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (John xiv. 16), " Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (1 Cor. iii. 16). "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you" (vi. 19). All these passages declare that we know, while other texts imply this knowledge, such as, "If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his " (Rom. viii. 9). Of course we cannot explain the mode of this knowledge. We cannot state how we know any fact outside of the sphere of the bodily senses.

John says, "He that keepeth his commandments abideth in him (Christ), and he (Christ) in him." This reciprocal indwelling is a double wonder. If the indwelling of Christ by his representative, the Holy Spirit, is a mystery, the indwelling of the believer's soul in Christ is to one who has no experience a mystery of mysteries beyond reason, and beyond such natural faith as is possible to the unregenerate, except on the theory of pantheism. This theory exaggerates God's omnipresence. It makes him everything as well as everywhere; as a soul in man, in nature, in the universe, just as life is in animal bodies. This soul has self-consciousness only in man. Man's individuality is a brief illusion, as a bubble momentarily floating on a river, then losing its form in the current which bears it onward to the ocean. There is in pantheism no such thing as personality in man or in God. It denies freedom in both. This implies that neither God nor man has a moral character or a moral sense. God is a blind, non-descript force acting through material organisms. Neither sin nor holiness has any place in this philosophy. There are two objections: first, the testimony of consciousness to freedom and moral accountability; and second, the Bible idea of God as a perfect personality, having intelligence, feeling, will, and moral freedom. We now have a basis for stating the doctrine of the indwelling of God in the believer and the indwelling of the believer in God. Both personalities are retained, but mentally interpenetrated. The Spirit does not take forcible possession of the body and mind, as evil spirits do in the case of demoniacs, dervishes, and devotees of Hinduism, but he gently enlightens, purifies, and guides the trusting and renovated soul, and through it he controls the body. As a Person the Spirit has an intelligent and definite aim, which is to produce and conserve holiness in the believer. Such a person dwells ill Christ because he is ensphered in his mighty personality, and encompassed by his love: —

"Plunged in the Godhead's deepest sea,
And lost in its immensity."

The reciprocal indwelling is the strongest possible expression for the union of God and the believer. The relation so intimate is indescribably blissful. It begirds weakness with omnipotence. It banishes fear. It arches the future with the rainbow of hope.

"And when I'm to die,
'Receive me,' I'll cry,
For Jesus hath loved me,
I cannot tell why.
"But this I do find,
We two are so joined,
He'll not live in glory
And leave me behind."

What a sense of security one has who carries God in his bosom and at the same time is consciously dwelling in the Gibraltar of God's overshadowing presence, power, and love. Such a man is gloriously delivered from fear and doubt. He has the full assurance of faith, and the victory over the world which comes through faith. There is another view of this mutual indwelling which does not tend to the strongest faith. It is best described by Dr. J. P. Thompson: "There is a mystical notion that the Holy Spirit, as an essence, somehow dwells in the innermost heart of a renewed man as in a shrine, quite apart from the man himself and his mental and moral acts — a mysterious entity, of whose presence the mind is vaguely conscious as a something distinct from itself, and which acts upon the mind in the way of direct inspiration, impulse, vision, or spiritual exaltation; that is to say, the Spirit's indwelling is a mysterious something that produces certain supernatural frames and experiences within the soul apart from the normal action of its own faculties. But the Bible represents this indwelling neither as physical nor as fanciful; neither as a power acting upon the nerves and organs of the body, nor a light, a voice, a mystery addressing the imagination; but as the personal influence of the Holy Spirit upon the will and the affections, inciting and disposing them to holy love and holy living."

There are many whose abiding in Christ is seeming and not real. Of these there are two classes. The first comprises all who were once living and fruitful branches but have become barren and dead. They still appear to be a part of the vine, for the knife of the pruner is not instantly applied. Judgment is delayed to give a chance for the life-giving sap to flow from the vine to make the branch bud, blossom, and bear fruit again. These are backsliders in heart or in life. They are nominal Christians. They may exhibit a good degree of interest in the church, attend its services, contribute to its support, and desire its prosperity as an institution that conserves the well-being of society. But they are vitally sundered from Christ. Their faith has relaxed its grip and their love to him has died. In the absence of love, no intellectual advocacy of Christian truth, no moral excellence, no activity in reforms, no giving of goods to feed the poor, can be fruit in the eye of God.

The second class includes professors of Christianity, who never truly repented of their sins and never exercised a saving trust in Christ. These do not abide in him because they were never grafted into the true vine. The thought is a very sad one that there are many. who are in this mistaken attitude towards the only Savior of sinners. They imagine that they are in the ark of salvation when they have never embarked. They are very confident that they are securely abiding in Christ who are yet not in Christ at all. They delude themselves with a semblance of fruit. They have a kind of interest in the church; they are so busy in its externalities, adorning its temples, embroidering altar-cloths, supplying its pulpit with flowers, making its music artistic, organizing its young people, and carrying on its fairs, festivals, and entertainments, that they delude themselves with the idea that they are bearing much fruit unto Christ. They have not learned that fruit to Christ is the fruit of the Spirit, the possession of Christlike qualities. How did these persons come into this deplorable delusion? They mistook for repentance some act which falls short of God's command, such as rising for prayers, kneeling at an altar, signing a card, or attending an inquiry meeting. They were urged to the performance of some one of these acts which is not decisive of religious character. This was much easier than that genuine repentance which goes through the heart like a subsoil plow. They substituted an outward act for an inward, gracious and thorough work. Unwise and unwary advisers allowed this fatal substitution, and thus encouraged unregenerate persons to be baptized and to join the visible Church. They are now spurious branches of the true vine, branches attached with glue or sealing wax, and bearing adventitious fruit like oranges artificially attached to a Christmas tree. This untrue religious profession is an almost impervious shield against all alarming gospel truth. Hence it is not probable that many who are in this unfortunate relation to Christ will awake from the delusion, which they have welcomed, till they shall hear the Judge say, "Depart from me, I never knew you." The cause of this hopeless delusion is a false Christ in which so many are trusting in preference to the true Savior from sin.