We wish Christs church to be as large as possible. God forbid that by any of our winnowing, we should ever cast away one of the precious sons of Zion. When we rebuke sharply, we would be anxious lest the rebuke should fall where it is not needed, and should bruise and hurt the feelings of any who God hath chosen. But on the other hand, we have no wish to see the church multiplied at the expense of its purity. We do not wish to have a charity so large that it takes in chaff as well as wheat: we wish to be just charitable enough to use the fan thoroughly to purge Gods floor, but yet charitable enough to pick up the most shrivelled ear of wheat, to preserve it for the Masters sake, who is the husbandman.
Our text suggests to us three things: first, an inquiry Have we the Spirit? secondly, a caution if we have not the spirit we are sensual; thirdly, a suspicion there are many persons that separate themselves.
“Have I the Spirit?” For this question does not deal with any externals of religion, but it deals with religion in its most vital point. He that hath the Spirit, although he be wrong in fifty things, being right in this, is saved; he that hath not the Spirit, be he never so orthodox, be his creed as correct as Scripture- ay and in his morals outwardly as pure as the law, is still unsaved; he is destitute of the essential part of salvation the Spirit of God dwelling in him.
Have I the Spirit? I reply, And what is the operation of the, Spirit? How am I to discern it? Now the Spirit operates in divers ways, all of them mysterious, and supernatural, all of them bearing the real marks of his own power, and having certain signs following whereby they may be discovered and recognised.
Men may pretend to be regenerated without the Spirit, but regenerated they cannot be. It is a change so marvellous that the highest attempts of man can never reach it. We may reason as long as we please, but we cannot reason ourselves into regeneration; we may meditate till our hairs are grey with study; but we cannot meditate ourselves into the new birth. That is worked in us by the sovereign will of God alone.
Now, after the Holy Spirit has given us the life of Christianity, there immediately begins a burning in our heart: the Lord searches and tries our reins, and lights a candle within our spirits which discovers the wickedness of our nature, and the loathsomeness of our iniquities. Say, my hearer, dost thou know anything about that fire in thine heart?
We may be first of all convinced and brought to Christ by misery; but when we get to Christ there is no misery in him, and our sorrow results from not getting close enough to him. The Spirit, after he has convinced, begins to comfort; and ye that have felt the comforting power of the Holy Spirit, will bear me witness there is no comforter like him that is the Paraclete.
There are many people that never felt this. They hope they are religious; but their religion never makes them happy. There are scores of professors who have just enough religion to make them miserable. Let them be afraid that they have any religion at all; for religion makes people happy; when it has its full sway with man it makes him glad.
Gods people are a holy people; Gods Spirit works by love, and purifies the soul. Once let it get into our hearts, and it will have no rest till it has turned every sin out.
Gods Holy Spirit and mans sin cannot live together peaceably; they may both be in the same heart, but they cannot both reign there, nor can they both be quiet there; for “the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh lusteth against the Spirit;” they cannot rest, but there will be a perpetual warring in the soul, so that the Christian will have to cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But in due time the Spirit will drive out all sin, and will present us blameless before the throne of his Majesty with exceeding great joy.
There is not a Christian beneath the scope of Gods heaven from whom I am separated. At the Lords table I always invite all Churches to come and sit down and commune with us. If any man were to tell me that I am separate from the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, or the Methodist, I would tell him he did not know me, for I love them with a pure heart fervently, and I am not separate from them. I may hold different views from them, and in that point truly I may be said to be separate; but I am not separate in heart, I will work with them I will work with them heartily; nay, though my Church of England brother sends me in, as he has done, a summons to pay a churchrate that I cannot in conscience pay, I will love him still; and if he takes chairs and tables it matters not I will love him for all that; and if there be a ragged-school or anything else for which I can work with him to promote the glory of God, therein will I unite with him with all my heart.
Oh, how my heart loves the doctrine of the one church. The nearer I get to my Master in prayer and communion, the closer am I knit to all his disciples. The more I see of my own errors and failings, the more ready am I to deal gently with them that I believe to be erring.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible