“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: 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 14:16, 17.
First of all, we shall have some little instruction concerning the proper personality of the Holy Spirit. I am afraid that, though we do not know it, we have acquired the habit of regarding the Holy Ghost as an emanation flowing from the Father and the Son, but not as being actually a person himself. [H]is operations are so mysterious, his doings are so secret, his acts are so removed from everything that is of sense, and of the body, that I cannot so easily get the idea of his being a person; but a person he is.
The first proof we shall gather from the pool of holy baptism. “I baptize thee in the name,”—mark, “in the name,” not names,—“of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’
A second argument arises from the fact, that the Holy Ghost has actually made different appearances on earth. The Holy Ghost was seen as a dove, to mark his purity and his gentleness. You see that company of disciples gathered together in an upper room; they are waiting for some promised blessing, by-and-by it shall come. Hark! there is a sound as of a rushing mighty wind; it fills all the house where they are sitting; and astonished, they look around them, wondering what will come next. Soon a bright light appears, shining upon the heads of each: cloven tongues at fire sat upon them. An influence could not appear—an attribute could not appear: we cannot see attributes—we cannot behold influences.
Another proof is from the fact, that personal qualities are, in Scripture, ascribed to the Holy Ghost[;] understanding (1 Cor 2), will (12:11), power (Rom 15:13), acts and deeds (Gen 1). [W]e are told that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” [T]he Holy Ghost said, “Separate me Paul and Barnabas for the work.” The Holy Ghost caught away Philip after he had baptised thee unuch (sic). [T]he Holy Ghost said to Paul. “Thou shalt not go into that city, but shalt turn into another.
But is it not said in Scripture, and do we not feel it, dear brethren, that it is the Holy Ghost who regenerates the soul? And is it not the Holy Spirit who after that flame is kindled, still fans it with the breath of his mouth and keeps it alive? [C]an it be said that he does all these things, and yet is not a person? it may be said, but it must be said by fools; for he never can be a wise man who can consider that these things can be done by any other than a glorious person—a divine existence.
Certain feelings are ascribed to the Holy Ghost, which can only be understood upon the supposition that he is actually a person. the Holy Ghost can be grieved (Eph 4:30). [T]he Holy Ghost can be vexed (Is 63:10). [T]he Holy Ghost can be resisted (Acts 7:51). The Holy Ghost may be tempted (5:9). [I]t must be a person who can be grieved, vexed, or resisted.
[A]llow me now, most earnestly, to impress upon you the absolute necessity of being sound upon the doctrine of the Trinity. A gospel without a Trinity!—it is a pyramid built upon its apex. A gospel without the Trinity!—it is a rope of sand that cannot hold together. A gospel without the Trinity!—then, indeed, Satan can overturn it. But, give me a gospel with the Trinity, and the might of hell cannot prevail against it; no man can any more overthrow it, than a bubble could split a rock, or a feather break in halves a mountain.
Now for the second point—the united agency of the three persons in the work of our salvation. “I will pray,” says the Son. “I will send,” says the Father. “I will comfort,” says the Holy Ghost. [I]t is a glorious trio of Godlike ones, and the three declare, unitedly. “We will save man.” Do not then say, “I am grateful to the Son,”—so you ought to be, but God the Son no more saves you than God the Father. Do not imagine that God the Father is a great tyrant, and that God the Son had to die to make him merciful. It was not to make the Father’s love flow towards his people. Oh, no. One loves as much as the other; the three are conjoined in the great purpose of rescuing the elect from damnation.
But you must notice another thing in my text, which will show the blessed unity of the three…whatever the Son says, the Father listens to; whatever the Father promises, the Holy Ghost works; and whatever the Holy Ghost injects into the soul, that God the Father fulfils. So the three together mutually promise on one another’s behalf.
Our third point is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in believers. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost is a subject so profound, and so having to do with the inner man, that no soul will be able truly and really to comprehend what I say, unless it has been taught of God. If you cannot comprehend me, I am much afraid it is because you are not of Israelitish extraction; you are not a child of God nor an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. That man is no Christian who is not the subject of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; he may talk well, he may understand theology and be a sound Calvinist; he will be the child of nature finely dressed, but not the living child.
“But ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Ah! you think you cannot tell whether you have the Holy Spirit or not. Can I tell whether I am alive or not? If I were touched by electricity, could I tell whether I was or not? [H]ow it pulls back the hand of the saint when he would touch the forbidden thing; how it prompts him to make a covenant with his eyes; how it binds his feet, lest they should fall in a slippery way; how it restrains his heart, and keeps him from temptation.
Now we have to close up with a brief remark on the reason why the world rejects the Holy Ghost. It is said, “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” all in a carnal state are not able to procure themselves this divine influence. The unregenerate world of sinners despises the Holy Ghost. “because it seeth him not.” Yes, I believe this is the great secret why many laugh at the idea of the existence of the Holy Ghost—because they see him not. The doctor said there was no soul, and he asked, “Did you ever see a soul?” “No,” said the Christian. “Did you ever hear a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a soul?” No.” “Did you ever taste a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a soul?” “Yes,” said the man—“I feel I have one within me.” “Well,” said the doctor, “there are four senses against one: you have only one on your side.” “Very well,” said, the Christian, “Did you ever see a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever hear a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a pain?” “Yes,” “And that is quite enough, I suppose, to prove there is a pain?” “Yes.” So the worldling says there is no Holy Ghost, because he cannot see it. Well, but we feel it. You say that is fanaticism, and that we never felt it. Suppose you tell me that honey is bitter, I reply, “No, I am sure you cannot have tasted it; taste it, and try” So with the Holy Ghost; if you did but feel his influence, you would no longer say there is no Holy Spirit, because you cannot see it. Are there not many things, even in nature, which we cannot see? Did you ever see the wind? Did ye ever see electricity?
Saints of the Lord! ye have this morning heard that God the Holy Ghost is a person; ye have had it proved to your souls. What follows from this? Why, it followeth how earnest ye should be in prayer to the Holy Spirit, as well as for the Holy Spirit. Let me say that this is an inference that you should lift up your prayers to the Holy Ghost; that you should cry earnestly unto him; for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think. See this mass of people; what is to convert it?
Then to the ungodly, I have this one closing word to say. Ever be careful how you speak of the Holy Ghost. There is danger; there is a pit which our ignorance has covered by sand; tread carefully! you may be in it before the next hour. Ye may blaspheme the Father, and ye shall be damned for it, unless ye repent; ye may blaspheme the Son, and hell shall be your portion, unless ye are forgiven; but blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and thus saith the Lord, “There is no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world which is to come.”
Let us think of this; and let us not at any time trifle either with the words, or the acts, of God the Holy Ghost.