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PART III. ON THE RELATION OF FAITH TO THE DIVINE GUIDANCE, OR THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY GHOST IN THE SOUL.

CHAPTER THIRD.


OF THE MENTAL STATE MOST SUITABLE TO THE CONSTANT IN-DWELLING OF THE HOLY GHOST.


All men are, to some extent, the subjects of a divine operation. Men love darkness rather than light Of the special and effectual operations of the Holy Spirit. Of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Of the state of mind which is most favorable to his inward and constant residence. Explanations of quietness of spirit. God necessarily takes up his residence in the truly subdued and quiet mind. That quietness or stillness of spirit, which is the prerequisite of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, exists in connection with an assured state of faith.

WE have already had occasion to intimate, that God is present, in a certain sense, to all persons; those in their natural state, as well as others. Through the medium of the reason and the conscience, he is not only present to all, but he operates, upon all; giving intellectual understanding in connection with physical support. There is not a being living, possessed of perception and of a moral nature, on whom, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, he does not operate to the extent, at least, of giving light. And it may be said further and still more specifically, that he gives such a degree of light, as shall render all such beings, in whatever they do, personally and morally responsible.

2.—But it is worthy of especial notice, that, when the imparted light is limited to that precise degree, neither more nor less, which secures accountability, it appears to be universally unavailable. That is to say, men universally agree in rejecting the light. And accordingly the whole world naturally is not only under sin; but deliberately rejecting the light, which would lead them to a better state of things, is under present condemnation. “The light shineth in darkness,” says the Apostle John, “and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” And again it is said in the express words of the Savior, “THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION, that light is come into the world; and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Why it is that men, having the light, should hate the light, and not come to it, but should love darkness rather than the light, is a matter truly astonishing.

3.—All men, therefore, would die in their sins, and under a condemnation without any remedy so far as we can perceive, were it not for an operation of the Holy Ghost,
giving light additional to that light which has already been spoken of; and which, without violating their moral agency, shall so spread illumination through the mind as to lead to repentance and newness of life. On what principles it is that God bestows this additional illumination, so that some “submit” to Christ and are converted, while others “reject” him and remain unconverted, is what no created mind is able, fully, to explain. We only know, that this great result, which divides the world into the two classes of believers and unbelievers, of saints and sinners, can never be at variance, on whatever principles it may take place, with the highest rectitude. In this case as in others God acts as a sovereign; but he never acts unjustly or unkindly, or at all inconsistently with the fact that “he is no respecter of persons.” “The wind bloweth,” says the Savior, “where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell, whence it come and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

4.—But the particular examination of the specific topics, to which we have now referred, does not come within the object of the present work. These are topics, which are frequently discussed by able writers, and are the constant theme of the pulpit. Our subject is not so much justification by faith, as sanctification by faith; not so much how we may be led to the Gospel in the first instance, as how we may be kept in the Gospel not so much how we may be pardoned, as how, being pardoned, we may live day by day with “a conscience void of offence.” In other words, our inquiry is, in what way shall we live, so that we shall be able to say at all times, that we are under a divine guidance, and that the “kingdom of God is within us.” “I will pray to the Father,” says the Savior, “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 14:15, 17. “It is certain from Scripture,” says Fenelon, “that the Spirit of God dwells in us, that it acts there, that it prays there without ceasing, that it there asks for us what we ourselves know not how to ask for, that it animates us, speaks to us in silence, suggests all truth to us, and unites us so to itself, that we become one spirit with God.”

5.—The “abiding” of the Holy Spirit, “his indwelling,” as a perpetual inhabitant in human hearts—there cannot well be a theme more interesting and important than this. And in pursuance of the leading object of this chapter, we proceed to say, that the state of mind, as it seems to us, which is most favorable to this great result, in other words, to that inward kingdom, which is set up by the constant in-dwelling and operation of the Holy Spirit, is that of inward meekness or quietness. “A quiet state of mind,” says Ruysbroke, an ancient but devout writer, and one who sustains a leading rank among writers on inward experience, “a state of mind, free from its own troubled imaginings and operations, is God’s habitation,
his inward kingdom and temple.” [As quoted in the La Vie de L’Esprit par Anthoine de Rojas. ch. 1.] “Interior peace,” says Pere Lombez, “gives full liberty to the Spirit of God to act in the soul, whether it be to enlighten and inflame her with his love, or to lead her securely in the path he had marked out for her. Hence it is, that the Almighty declares by his Prophet, that, to speak to our heart, he must lead us into the retired and solitary place.” [Interior Peace, Part. I. ch. 2d.] “God,” says the devout author of the Mute Christian, “dwells not in spirits that are unquiet, and in confusion; but he dwells in peaceable and quiet spirits. Unquiet spirits can take in neither counsel nor comfort, grace nor peace.” He refers to a remark of Luther, that God doth not dwell in Babylon, but in Salem; and adds significantly, that Babylon signifies confusion, and Salem signifies peace.

6.—A quiet spirit is one, in which the natural desires, in distinction from God’s desires and will, no longer exist. Separated from the world and the world’s thoughts and pleasures, it has no desires, no plans, no purposes of its own. Selfishness, using the term as expressive of that degree of love for ourselves, which is inconsistent with right and with God’s claims, ceases. The language of the soul, (not always uttered it is true, but always really existent,) is, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do.” “Lo, I come to do thy will.” It will be noticed, therefore, when we use the phrase “quietness of spirit,” in connection with the subject now before us, we do not mean a resignation or quietness, in the ordinary or mitigated sense of the terms; but one, which is real, one which is entire, one which brings the whole mind into subjection. The quiet mind, in this sense of the terms, has no preference, no election, which results from the impulse of its own tendencies. It is precisely in that situation, being free from any desires or purposes of its own, in which the smallest possible divine influence will give it the true direction. In other words, while it remains in this condition, it is susceptible of being moved, only as it is moved upon by the Spirit of God.

7.—In such a state of mind, it is not a mere matter of arbitrary will or choice; whether God shall be present to the soul by the influences of his Holy Spirit, or not. It is not a matter of mere arbitrary will or choice, whether he shall be in the most intimate union with it or not. On the contrary, his presence, and that too in the highest sense of the terms, is an invariable result; a result which, if not physically, is morally necessary. God’s nature, that which constitutes him what he is, will not, and cannot allow it to be otherwise. It is a great error, which men, in their unbelief are very apt to fall into, to suppose, that God is, or can be, indifferent to his creatures. “God is Love.” Love is his nature, as well as his name; the great moral element of his being, as well as the appropriate designation which indicates him. And being love practically as well as essentially, it is true of him, whether we regard him in his own person or in the person of Jesus Christ, that he always “ stands at the door and knocks;” and that he would always enter the heart at once; and would take up his abode there; and would always dwell there, were it not for the opposition which unsanctified nature presents. And accordingly whenever the natural or selfish desire, in distinction from the sanctified desire, ceases, then all opposition ceases; all resistance is taken away; and God enters and dwells in the soul of course. The Holy Spirit is no longer grieved. He comes to his own, and his own receive him. There is a mingling of the two natures into one. Not a physical, but a moral union. So that it can now be said, that the human nature, which had long been alienated, once more finds its place in the divine.

8.—These views are founded partly upon the fact, that the Spirit of God, using the terms in accommodation in some degree to the human comprehension of things, is a susceptible or tender Spirit; a Spirit that may be easily and effectually grieved and resisted. It is said of the Savior in the Gospels, that, when he was come to his own country, “he did not many mighty works there,
because of their unbelief.” When Paul first preached to the Jews at Rome, he “expounded and testified the kingdom of God” to them from morning till evening, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses and out of the Prophets, but “some believed not.” Seeing this result, he declared to them in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, that hearing they did not understand, and seeing they did not perceive; that their ears were dull of hearing, and their eyes were closed; and concluded by saying, “Be it known, therefore, unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” The Spirit of God, which operated upon their minds in connection with his preaching and personal efforts, seems to have been grieved and ultimately driven away, by the hardness of their hearts. And hence it is, that we have that important direction, which ought to sound to every Christian’s heart, like the voice of a trumpet, “QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT.”

9.—We say then, that the views, which have been expressed, are founded partly on the fact, that the Spirit of God is easily resisted and grieved; and partly on the additional fact which is seldom recognized though exceedingly important, that every natural desire, in distinction from sanctified desire, except such desire as is purely instinctive, does of itself, and necessarily, constitute a state of resistance to the Holy Spirit. Here is a point, upon which men generally, and religious people as well as others, do not appear to have a full understanding. They do not readily receive and appreciate the fact that every desire, which is not from God, stands like a strong wall against him. We know very well, that it is possible for this resistance to be overcome; and we know also, in the case of every truly sincere and religious person, that this propitious result is a thing, not only possible, but is actually realized in a greater or less degree. If the desires are in a considerable degree subdued, the Holy Spirit may be said to have his dominion in the heart, in an imperfect sense. Nor can there be any thing more than this imperfect entrance and possession, so long as any portion of this life of nature, self-moving and self-confident as it always is, continues to remain. But where desire ceases, Satan’s dominion is effectually overthrown; so that the way is open, as it never was before, for the Spirit’s triumphant entrance, and for the establishment of God’s inward dominion.

10.—Perhaps we ought to delay a moment longer upon this doctrine, in order to ascertain its precise position in a philosophical point of view. Our doctrine, in accordance with that of many judicious writers on Christian experience, is, that desire must cease; otherwise the Holy Spirit cannot be in-dwelling; in other words, cannot take up his abode fully and permanently in the heart. And yet it must be admitted, looking at the subject philosophically and with particular reference to the mode of the mind’s formation and action, that there is not any such thing, and cannot be any such thing, as an absolute extinction of desire; neither in God, men, nor angels. Desire is a necessary and unalienable attribute of every rational being. To be absolutely without the desire of that, which as rational beings we know to be desirable, would be an evidence of irrationality. We ought to say, therefore, that we use the form of expression, just as it is used by many writers on experimental religion who adopt a similar view on this subject, in
a specific sense. What we mean, is, not that desire absolutely, but that the natural, the unsanctified desire has ceased. We lose all desire, which does not seriously recognize God; we lose all desire which originates in the life of self, because we now desire nothing but that the will of God may be accomplished. God’s desire is substituted for our own. And God’s desire can never be constantly fulfilled in us, moment by moment, but by the constant in-dwelling and operations of the Holy Ghost. Acting, moving, and living, not from a self-interested impulse, but in accordance with a reason and conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we act and live in accordance with God’s desire. In other words, God’s desire becomes our own. But it is self-evident, that this never can be, until the antagonistical desire ceases.

11.—We know very well, that this is a state of inward experience, which is not attained to by all persons, that it is seldom reached by persons in the early periods of their religious experience, and that it is generally preceded by much inward conflict. But it is obviously a possible state of mind; there is nothing in it which is contrary to reason; it is just that state of mind, which existed in the Savior; it is a state of mind, which is either recognized or inculcated in numerous passages of Scripture. There is nothing more obvious from the conversations of the Savior in the latter part of John’s Gospel than this one thing, that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, comes into the world, not merely to inspire men with sentiments of penitence in order that they may be forgiven, but that he may abide with them, and that he may set up, in inward spiritual unity, his throne and dwelling place in sanctified hearts.

12.—This state of mind not only implies the existence of faith; but I think it will not be surprising, after what has been remarked, when we say further, that it implies that degree of it, which is usually denominated Assurance of Faith. The soul is never quiet, never perfectly established against the power of inward and outward temptation, never free from the influence of unsanctified desire, until faith is triumphant. But the question naturally arises here, Who is it, or what is it, which is the source of this strong faith? The answer is, the Spirit of God. God himself gives faith. The same mighty being, that accomplishes the work,
begins it; a work always carried on, from beginning to end, in accordance with man’s moral agency; but always in such a manner as to glorify God himself alone. But still the operation begun, is not the operation completed. The operation, carried on, when every thing is tempestuous and antagonistical, is not the same operation with that, which is prosecuted, when every thing is victorious and at rest. When a man is in contest with himself, partly in war and partly in peace, partly subdued and partly belligerent, he is in a very different position from that in which his inward enemies are cast out, and when he can say, in the language of Scripture, “lift up your heads, ye gates, and the King of glory shall come in.” If the contest is carried on by the Holy Spirit through the inward instrumentality of faith, if faith as the inward and subordinate instrument sustains it step by step from its earliest beginnings through all the subsequent violence of its progress; it is equally true, that faith, considered in the relation which has been mentioned, gains the victory in the battle which it has waged, and that it perpetuates the victory, which it has gained. When, therefore, we say, that a great work must be accomplished, before the Holy Spirit can become indwelling in the heart, we would not have it understood, that man does the preparatory work, and that the Holy Ghost comes in at the end of it, and enters into the rest and victory of another’s labors. It is very far from this. The Holy Ghost prepares his own habitation. He strikes the first blow in this spiritual work; he inspires the first breathings and the very beginnings of the life of faith; and as the contest thickens, he gives greater and greater strength to faith, till by faith increased to assurance of faith and by this alone, he drives out his enemies from their central position in the heart, and having pacified it from all its commotions and rendered it a pure and tranquil habitation, he there sets up his inward dominion. At this result, unspeakably glorious, as it obviously is, let every Christian aim. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God; and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple are ye.” [1 Corinthians 3:16, 17.] And again, “Know ye not, that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. ] And again, “Ye are the temple of the living God. As God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” [2 Corinthians 6:16.]