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PART III. INWARD DIVINE GUIDANCE


CHAPTER SIXTH.


Evidence of being Guided by the Holy Spirit.


IT is the object of the present chapter without professing, however, or attempting to exhaust the subject, to lay down some of the marks or evidences of being guided by the Holy Spirit.

And accordingly we proceed to remark, in the first place, that the person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit, will be eminently perceptive and rational. The operations of the Holy Spirit, in the agency which he exerts for the purpose of enlightening and guiding men, will not be found to be accidental, or arbitrary, or in any sense irrational operations. It is hardly necessary to say here, after what has been said in the chapter on the distinction between Impulses and a sanctified Judgment, that the Holy Spirit is not an ignorant but a wise Being; not an agent that is moved by unenlightened impulse, but by perfect knowledge. And this being the case, it is a natural supposition and one which will be generally assented to, that his operations will always exist in accordance with, and not in opposition to the laws of the human mind. And furthermore, according to the Scriptures, a primary and leading office, though not the only office, of the Holy Spirit is to TEACH men, to lead them into the TRUTH. And if so, then, ordinarily, the first operation will be upon the intellect, in distinction from the sensibilities and the will. And we do not hesitate to say in point of fact, and as a matter of personal experience, that the person who is guided by the Holy Spirit, will find that this divine Agent does, in reality, impart an increased clearness to the intellectual or cognitive part of the mind. This divine operation is, for the most part, very gentle and deeply interior; revealing itself by its results more than by the mere mode of its action; but it is not, on that account, any the less real. It seems to put a keenness of edge, if, we may so express it, upon the natural perceptivity, so as to enable it to separate idea from idea, proposition from proposition; and thus to guide it, with a remarkable niceness of discrimination, through the perplexities of error into the regions of truth. We repeat, therefore, that one evidence, of being guided by the Holy Spirit, is, that such guidance contributes to the
highest rationality. In other words, the person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit, other things being equal, will be the most keenly perceptive, judicious, and rational. Not flighty and precipitate; not prejudiced, one-sided, and dogmatical, but like his great inward teacher, calmly and divinely cognitive. The experience of holy men, particularly of those who have made it a practice to ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit on their studies, agrees with this statement.

SECOND.— We observe in the second place, that the person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit, will possess a quickly operative and effective conscience. This is too obvious to require much remark. It seems to be impossible, that a man should be guided by the Holy Spirit, and not experience a purified and renovated activity of the moral sense. This important result is what might naturally be expected, among other things, from the result on our intellectual nature, which has already been indicated. It is well known that the conscience operates in connection with the intellect, and subsequent in time. There must necessarily be certain intellectual data or facts, as the basis of the inward conscientious movement. And in accordance with this law, in proportion as the truth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit develops itself from the intellect, with greater and greater clearness, the action of the conscience becomes increasingly distinct, sensitive, and energetic. It becomes a sort of flaming sword in the soul; and keeps it in the way of life. Accordingly, on this principle, no man, who has a dull and sleepy conscience, a rough and blunted edge of moral perceptivity, is at liberty to say, that he is guided by the Holy Ghost.

THIRD.— When we are led by the Holy Spirit, there will be a subdued, tranquil, and well regulated state of the natural sensibilities, in distinction from the moral sensibilities or conscience; that is to say, of the various appetites, the propensive principles, and the affections. It is well understood, that when we are led by the world or by Satan, the various natural propensities and affections, which constitute what we understand by the natural sensibilities, are, in general, ill regulated, agitated, and turbulent. A really worldly man is either externally, or internally, an agitated man; generally in movement and generally discordant with himself; resembling the troubled sea, and casting up to the surface of his spirit mire and dirt. On the contrary, he, who is led by the Holy Spirit, with the exception of those occasional agitations arising from purely instinctive impulses, which do not recognize the control of reason and the will, is always subdued, patient, quiet. His natural propensities, which, in persons who have not experienced the same grace, are so turbulent and violent, run peaceably and appropriately in the channels, which God has assigned to them. His natural affections, which so often become the masters and tyrants of the mind, submit to the authority of conscience and the will. The inroads and shocks of the heaviest afflictions pass over him, and leave his inward submission and his peace unbroken. A divine tranquility is written, upon the emotions and desires, upon the affections that linger upon the past, and upon the hopes that move onward to the future. In this respect, being under this divine and transcendent teaching, he is like his heavenly Father. The Infinite Mind is always tranquil.

FOURTH.— We remark again, that the teachings of the Holy Spirit will have a tendency to beautify and perfect the outward manner, as well as the inward experience. And accordingly he, who is truly under this divine direction, will always find his conduct characterized by the utmost decency, propriety, and true courteousness. I believe it is a common remark, that a truly devout and holy person may, in general, be easily recognized by the outward manner. And this remark, which is confirmed by experience, has its foundation in nature. The natural life, which is inordinately full of self, and is often prompted in its movements by passion, pride, and prejudice, will of course develop itself in an outward manner as extravagant, inconsistent, and imperfect, as the inward source from which it springs. Hence it is that we so often see, in the intercourse of man with man, so much that shocks our notions of propriety; so much in word or in action that is characterized by violence or levity; so much that is unsuitable to the time and place. But he, on the contrary, in whom the natural life is slain, and in the centre of whose heart the Holy Spirit has taken up his residence to inspire it with truth and love, will discover an outward manner as true, as simple, and as beautiful, as the inward perfection from which it has its origin. A voice inspired with gentleness and love, a countenance not only free from the distortions of passion but radiant with inward peace, a freedom from unbecoming gayety and thoughtless mirth, a propriety of expression resulting from seriousness of character, a disposition to bear meekly and affectionately with the infirmities of others, a placid self-possession, an unaffected but strict regard to the proprieties of time, place, and station, can hardly fail to impress upon the outward beholder a conviction of the purity and power which dwell within.

FIFTH.— We proceed to say further, that he, who is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will always find himself in the position of coincidence and union with the divine Providences. He will not only be in harmony with whatever is true and beautiful in human intercourse; but there will also be no jarring and no points of discordant contact between his conduct and the unerring consecution of providential dispensations. This will be sufficiently obvious we suppose, after what has been said in some of the preceding chapters, without going into any length of remark. It is unquestionable that the will of God is made known, to a considerable extent, in his providential dealings. Consequently the language of the Holy Spirit will never, in any case, contradict the correctly interpreted language of divine Providence. On the contrary, they will always completely, and, as they have but one author, will necessarily harmonize. To illustrate the subject, the Holy Spirit will never instruct an individual to give to religious purposes a certain amount of property, when the Providence of God, by taking away his property, has rendered the donation an impossibility. Again, the Holy Spirit will never, by an interior teaching, instruct a man to go upon a distant missionary enterprise, when at the same time the Providence of God, by placing him on a bed of sickness, has rendered him incapable of the requisite physical and mental exertion. And if any impressions or convictions, which thus involve a contradiction of the voice of the Spirit and the voice of Providence, should rest upon the mind of any person, he may be assured that they come from a wrong source, and ought to be rejected. We assert, therefore, that he, who is led by the Holy Spirit, will find his conduct beautifully harmonizing with the events of divine Providence, as they daily and hourly develop themselves. In other words, while he is continually led by the inward guidance to do and to suffer the divine will, he always finds himself acting and suffering in cooperation with the manifested designs and arrangements of God.

SIXTH.— He, who is led by the Holy Spirit, will find his conduct, just so far as he is the subject of this divine guidance, in entire harmony with the teachings of the Scriptures. It has already been intimated that the voice of the Spirit can never be contradictory to itself. And accordingly having spoken in the Scriptures, it can never contradict what it has there said by any interior revelation to individual minds. If, for instance, the Scriptures, dictated by the divine Spirit, have, for wise and adequate purposes, authorized and required the specific observance of the Lord's day, and have authorized and required the setting apart of the ministry, or have recognized and established other institutions and ordinances, it would be unreasonable to suppose, that the same Spirit, in contradiction to himself, will guide individual minds to a disregard and contempt of those institutions. And in like manner, if the Bible, in any case of specific and personal action, requires a thing either to be done or to be omitted to be done, the Holy Spirit, operating on individual minds, will teach the same thing; and will always lead the subject of his operations to the performance in the one case, and to the omission in the other. And in all cases whatever, as the Holy Spirit, speaking in the heart, and the Holy Spirit speaking in the Bible, necessarily utter the same voice, they will necessarily in their ultimate tendencies lead to the same result,

And we may remark further, in connection with what has now been said, that he, who is led by the Spirit, will
love to be led by the Spirit. It will be his delight. And under the influence of this divine attraction, he will earnestly strive to ascertain the mind of the Spirit. And consequently he will be led to the Bible, as one of the most valuable means of ascertaining it; he will read it much; he will read it with seriousness, candor, and prayer; that he may know the length and breadth of the divine communications, which are there made. And the pleasing and important result will be, that his life will be characterized by the same traits of submission and love, of regard for the divine institutions and precepts, of prompt and consistent action and of mighty faith, which adorn the lives of those, of whom the Scriptures gives us an account.

FINALLY.— We may remark. in conclusion, and as in some sense embracing the whole subject: It is an evidence, that a person is guided by thy Holy Spirit, whose whole conduct, whether considered in its particulars or in its general outline, has a distinctly favorable bearing on the promotion of God's glory in the world. The end of all things is the glory of God. In the promotion of this great object, God, the Holy Ghost, co-operates with God the Father, and God the Son. The Holy Ghost, therefore, recognizes and enforces the great truth, that all subordinate tendencies, that all inferior and private interests, whenever they receive a corrected and sanctified direction, will always converge to the same centre, and will never reach their TERMINUS, if we may so express it, except in the bosom of the adorable Infinite. To this great result, all his interior and individual teachings infallibly tend. To know all things and to love all things in God; to annihilate self in all the various forms of creature-love and of self-will, and to make God the great centre of our being; this only is true wisdom and everlasting life. He, therefore, who is led by the teachings of the Holy Ghost, will be taught that he must think for God, feel for God, will for God, act for God; and that the great reality of God, which is the true beginning and completion of all religious life, must be received into the soul as the paramount motive; and with a power to expel all subordinate motives, and to reign there forever with supreme dominion.

Such are some of the marks, by which those may be known, who are led by the Divine Spirit. These are a HIDDEN people. They have intimacy with the Highest: but they are, nevertheless, the little ones, that are almost unknown among men. Rational with the highest degree of rationality, scrupulously conscientious, ever desirous to learn the will of God as manifested in his Word and Providences, modest and sincerely courteous and becoming in their intercourse with their fellow-men, and governed under all circumstances by a supreme regard to God' s glory, they pass calmly and devoutly through the world, blessed in themselves and a blessing to others. And yet the people of the world, blinded by their unbelief, but little know and little value that interior instruction, by which they are thus guided to the illuminated heights of evangelical perfection. Happy is he who is led, not by mere sights and sounds; not by strange and momentary impressions, which may come from the disordered senses, from the world, or from the devil; but by that clear light which illuminates the intellect, the conscience, and the heart; which is ever consistent with itself and with God's Word and Providences; and which has in reality for its author, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.






"Eternal Spirit! God of truth!
Our contrite hearts inspire;
Kindle the flame of heavenly love,
And feed the pure desire.
'Tis thine to soothe the sorrowing mind,
With guilt and fear oppressed;
'Tis thine to bid the dying live,
And give the weary rest."