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The one true God and His Spirit

The "knowledge of God" is an essential feature of Christian attainment, according to the apostolic standard. Those "who know not God" are among those whom vengeance is to overtake (2 Thess.1:8). Knowledge of God is the basis of sonship to God. Without it, we cannot enter the divine family. How can we love and serve a being whom we do not know? Knowledge is the foundation of all. It is the rock upon which everlasting life itself is built. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

Where shall we find this knowledge? We cannot find it where we please. It is to be found only where God has placed it. It is to be found in the Scriptures. We cannot get it anywhere else. Nature tells us something. The consummate wisdom of all her arrangements - the ineffable skill displayed in the construction of even the smallest creature, show us the presence, in the universe, of a supreme designing and perfect intelligence, but nature can do no more. It can tell us God is, because he must be, but it can tell us nothing of his being, his character, his purpose, his will with regard to man, or his object in forming the universe. Speculations on these points only lead to the monstrosities of ancient and modern heathenism.

That a revelation of himself has come from the Creator of all things will excite the highest admiration and gratitude in every mind that is enabled to realise what this stupendous privilege means. Peace now and life everlasting for the endless ages coming is easily spoken of: but who can measure the wealth of wellbeing involved in the words? This wealth comes with the knowledge God has given: and the knowledge he has given us comes to us through the Bible, and through no other mediumship in our day.

But we are in a peculiar position with regard to this knowledge. It no longer shines before us in its pristine simplicity and glory. Along with almost every other item of divine truth, it has been covered up in the most dangerous way by the organised Apostasy from original truth, which obtained ascendancy in Christendom very early in the Christian era. The Apostasy does not professedly deny the God revealed in the Bible. On the contrary, it makes an ostentatious profession of belief in him. It holds up the Bible in its hand and declares it to be the source of its faith that the God of Israel is its God. In this way, the impression is made universally that the God of popular religion is the God of the Bible, so that in reading the Bible, people do not read critically on the subject, but necessarily and as a matter of course, recognise the popular God in the phrases by which the Bible designates the God of Israel. If the case were otherwise - if popular theology in words denied the God of the Jews, and asserted its own conceptions in opposition to Hebrew revelation, there would be a greater likelihood that people would come to a knowledge of what God has truly revealed concerning himself, because they would be prepared to sit down clear-headedly, discriminatingly, and independently to ascertain what the Deity of Hebrew revelation is. As it is, people are misled, and find the greatest difficulty in rousing themselves to an apprehension of the difference between the orthodox God and the Bible Deity, and the importance of discerning it.

Popular theology says that God is three eternal elements, all equally increate and self-sustaining, and all equally powerful, each equally personal and distinct from the other, and yet all forming a complete single personal unity. There is, say they, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit", each "very God", each without a beginning, each omnipotent and separate from the other, and yet all one.

If we ask why one of these elements should be called the Father, not having preceded or given existence to the others; and why another should be called the Son, not having been brought into existence by the Father, but co-eternal with him; and why the third should be called the Holy Spirit, since both "God the Father" and "God the Son" are holy and spiritual, we are not met with an explanation. Popular theology contents itself with saying that the truth is so - that there are three in one and one in three: that as to how such a thing can be, it cannot say, as it is a great mystery. Mystery indeed! There are mysteries enough in creation - things, that is, that are inscrutable to the human intellect, such as the ultimate nature of light and life; but Trinitarianism propounds - not a mystery, but a contradiction - a stultification - an impossibility. It professes to convey an idea, and no sooner expresses it than it withdraws it, and contradicts it. It says there is one God, yet not one but three, and that the three are not three but one. It is a mere juggle of words, a bewilderment and confusion to the mind, all the more dangerous, because the theory for which it is an apology, employs in some measure the language of the Bible, which talks to us of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When we look at the Bible representation of the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit", we find it in accord with a rational conception of things, enlightening the understanding as well as satisfying the heart - agreeing with experience, as well as revealing something beyond actual observation. We find it to supply that consistent and intelligible information of the First Cause of all things which man craves, and information of a character such as would be expected to come from such a source.

To begin with "The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ " (Ephesians 3:14), as God is apostolically described, who was made known to Israel by the angels, revealed through the prophets, and manifested in Jesus. The first thing revealed about him is his absolute unity. He is declared to be one. This is one of the most conspicuous features of what is revealed on the subject. We submit a few illustrations of the testimony:

Moses to Israel:

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Jesus to one of the Scribes:

"Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments, is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Mark 12:29).

Paul to the Corinthian believers:

"To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him" (1 Corinthians 8:6).

Paul to the Ephesians:

"There is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:6).

Paul to Timothy:

"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).

With these statements agree the Almighty’s declarations of himself of which the following are examples:

"I am God, and there is none else . . . and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isaiah 46:9-10).

"I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God beside me" (Isaiah 45:5).

"Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: I am the first and I am the last, and beside me there is no God...Is there a God beside Me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any" (Isaiah 44:6,8).

These testimonies say that all things are out of the Father. But where is the father? Does his name not imply that he is the source? And, being the Source, is he not the centre of creation? Some shrink from the suggestion that Deity has a located existence. Why should they? The Scriptures expressly teach the located existence of Deity. We submit the evidence:

Paul says God dwells

"in the light which no man can approach unto" (1Timothy 6:16).

Here is a localisation of the person of the Creator. If God were on earth in the same sense in which he dwells in light unapproachable, what could Paul mean by saying that man cannot approach? If God dwells in unapproachable light, he must have an existence there, which is not manifested in this mundane sphere. This is borne out by Solomon's words:

"God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few" (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

Jesus inculcates the same view in the prayer which he taught his disciples: "Our Father which art in heaven".

So does David:

"He (the Lord) hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner" (Psalm 102:19-20).

"The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth hath he given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16).

Solomon in the prayer by which he dedicated the temple to God made frequent use of this expression:

"Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place" (1 Kings 8).

It is impossible to mistake the tenor of these testimonies: they plainly mean that the Father of all is a person who exists in the central heaven of heavens as he exists nowhere else. By his Spirit in immensely-filling diffusion, he is everywhere present in the sense of holding and knowing, and being conscious of creation to its utmost bounds; but in his proper person, all-glorious, beyond human power to conceive, he dwells in heaven.

Consider the ascension of our Lord, after his resurrection, and mark its tendency in this direction. Luke says,

"He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:51),

and Mark reiterates the statement:

"He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19).

These statements can only be understood on the principle that the Deity has a personal manifested existence in "the heavens". What part of the wide heavens this honoured spot may occupy, we cannot and need not know.

There is great and invincible repugnance to this evidently Scriptural and reasonable, and beautiful view of the matter. It is the popular habit, where serious views of God are entertained at all, to conceive of him as a principle or energy in universal diffusion - without corporeal nucleus, without local habitation, "without body or parts". There is no ground for this popular predilection, except such as philosophy may be supposed to furnish. Philosophy is a poor guide in the matter. Philosophy, after all, is only human thought. It can have little weight in a matter confessedly beyond human ken. The question is, What is revealed? We need not be concerned if what is revealed is contrary to philosophical conception of the matter. Philosophical conceptions are just as likely to be wrong as right. Paul warns believers against the danger of being spoiled through philosophy (Colossians 2:8). Philosophy or no philosophy, the Scriptures quoted plainly teach that the Father is a tangible person, in whom all the powers of the Universe converge.

There is other evidence in the occurrences at Mount Sinai. There Moses had intercourse with the Deity. We will not say that the Being with whom he had this intercourse was actually the eternal one, because it is evident, from what Stephen and Paul teach, that it was an angelic manifestation (Acts 7:38,53; Hebrews 2:2); and because John declares no man hath seen God at any time (John 1:18). Yet it is affirmed that to Moses it was a similitude of Jehovah (Numbers 12:8). It was, therefore, a manifestation of the Deity; and, if so, it illustrated the reality of the Deity; for the Deity must be higher, greater, and more real than his subordinate manifestations. The testimony is as follows:

"The Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.... Be ready against the third day: for the third day The LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai . . . And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the Mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, so that all the people that were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the nether part of the Mount.

And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.... And God spake all these words (the ten commandments) . . . And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us lest we die.... And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness, where God was. And the Lord said unto Moses, ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven", etc. (Exodus 19:9,11,16-18: 20:1,18-22).

All subsequent reference to these things is founded on the idea that they are related to a real person and presence. Thus we read:

"With (Moses) will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude: of the Lord shall he behold" (Numbers 12:8).

"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11).

"And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10).

Now, though the manifestation witnessed in these cases was a manifestation through angelic mediumship, yet the manifestation speaks to us of a Being higher and more real than that manifestation. It helps the mind to climb to some conception (though necessarily superficial and inadequate) of him

"who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire" (Psalm 104:4);

"who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5);

"who inhabiteth eternity" (Isaiah 57:15);

"who is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29);

"whom no man hath seen, nor (on account of our grossness and weakness of nature) can see; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16);

"who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13);

"who is the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who fainteth not, neither is weary, and there is no searching of his understanding" (Isaiah 40:28).

"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or, being his counsellor, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? . . . All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom, then, will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" (Isaiah 40:12-18).

"Who can, by searching, find out God?" (Job 11:7).

"Behold, God is great, and we know him not; neither can the number of his years be searched out. His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings" (Job 36:26; 34:21).

The testimony before us is, that God is the only underived and self-sustaining existence in the universe. All other forms of life are but incorporations of the life which is in him - so many subdivisions of the stream which issues from the great fountainhead. The following statements affirm this view:

"The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

"in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

"For of him, and through him, and to him are all things" (Romans 11:36).

"To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things" (1 Corinthians 8:6).

Popular theology teaches that God made all things "out of nothing". This is evidently one of many errors that have long passed current as truth. It has proved an unfortunate error; for it has brought physical science into needless collision with the Bible. Physical science has compelled men to accept it as an axiomatic truth that "out of nothing, nothing can come", and having been led to believe that the Bible teaches that all things have been made out of nothing, they have dismissed the Bible as out of the question on that ground alone. They have taken refuge by preference in various theories that have recognised the eternity of material force in some form or other.

The Bible teaches that all things have been made out of God - not out of nothing. It teaches, as the passages quoted show, that God, as the antecedent, eternal power of the universe, has elaborated all things out of himself. "Spirit", irradiating from him, has, under the fiat of his will, been embodied in the vast material creation which we behold. That Spirit now constitutes the substratum of all existence, the very essence and first cause of everything. All things are "in God", because embraced in that mighty effluence which radiating from himself, fills all space, and constitutes the basis of all existence. In this way God is omnipresent; his consciousness is en rapport with all creation by reason of the universal prevalence of his Spirit, which is one with his personal Spirit-substance, in the way that light is one with the body of the sun. The idea of God’s omniscience is too high for us to readily grasp, but we see it illustrated on a small scale in the fact that the human brain in certain sensitive states is conscious of everything within the radius of its own nervous effluence. Though located in the heavens, the Creator, by his universal Spirit, knows everything; and his infinite capacity of mind enables him to deal with everything, contemplatively or executively, as the case may require.

The Spirit

The Spirit is much spoken of throughout the whole course of Scripture. We are introduced to it as early as the first chapter of Genesis, and only part from its company in the last chapter of Revelation. We get a key to the subject in the fact testified, that the Father is "spirit" in his personal substance ("God is spirit" - John 4:24), and that the Spirit in its diffusion has to do with the Father, for he styles it "My spirit" (Genesis 6:3). Nehemiah says,

"Thou testifiedst against them (our fathers) by thy spirit in thy prophets" (Nehemiah 9:30).

The Father and the Spirit are one. yet there is a distinction between the Father and the Spirit as to the form in which they are presented to our apprehension. Of the former, as we have seen, it is testified that he dwells "in heaven in unapproachable light", and is therefore, located; while of the latter, it is declared that it is everywhere alike.

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me; if I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee, but the night shineth as the day. The darkness and the light are both alike to thee" (Psalms 139:7-12).

But, in addition to its universality of diffusion, the Spirit is also presented in the aspect of an agency used by the Father in the accomplishment of his designs. Thus, in speaking of the origin of the various tribes of living creatures that inhabit the earth, David says,

"Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:30).


"By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens" (Job 26:13).


"The spirit of God hath made me; and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4).

"The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2).

Also, how frequently throughout the history of Israel we read the words that the "Spirit of God came upon" this and that prophet, when anything wonderful was accomplished (e.g., Judges 15:14). All prophecy and revelation were communicated in the same way.

"Thou testifiedst . . . by Thy spirit in Thy prophets" (Nehemiah 9:30).

"I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord" (Micah 3:8).

"Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).

Spirit concentrated under the Almighty’s will, becomes Holy Spirit, as distinct from spirit in its free, spontaneous form. In the one, we are in the domain of fixed law; in the other, God is in communion with us for words of wisdom or works of power, independently of fixed law. It is given to but few to experience this form of the Spirit’s manifestation. It is given to none in the present day. The apostles were the recipients of it on the day of Pentecost. Its power was real and felt. Its influx was accompanied with the sound of a mighty wind, that shook the material fabric of the building in which they were assembled. Its results were manifest, God’s hand was upon the apostles, and they were endowed with powers above natural law. They were enabled by the Spirit to speak fluently in languages they had never learnt; not in unknown tongues, but words which were identified by the bystanders as the current languages of the time. These bystanders were Jews and proselytes from the various countries of the globe, assembled to keep the feast of Pentecost at Jerusalem. When they heard the apostles, they said:

"Are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:7-11).

By the same power, the apostles were instructed in things they did not know naturally, according to the promise of Christ.

"When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he shall show you things to come" (John 16:13).

It also endowed them with miraculous power, evinced in the instantaneous cure of disease, the raising of the dead, and other wonderful works. The Spirit was the medium, instrumentality, or power by which these things were done. It was a reality, a palpably present something pervading the persons of the apostles. Thus, from the body of Paul "were brought unto the sick, handkerchiefs, or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:11-12). The healing spirit-power in Paul could be conveyed in conducting media, and brought medically to bear on the afflicted. Thus, also the shadow of Peter crossing the sick was efficacious for cure (Acts 5:15). The same peculiarity is apparent in the case of Jesus, to whom the Spirit was given without measure (John 3:34). When a certain afflicted woman in a crowd came stealthily behind him and touched the hem of his garment, that she might receive benefit, Jesus "perceived that virtue had gone out of him" (Luke 8:46; Matt.14:35-36).

These miraculous powers were necessary to qualify the apostles for the performance of the work they had to do. That work was to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:22), as the basis of the truth built upon that fact. Now, how could they have done this with any effect if their testimony had not been miraculously confirmed? How could they have obtained credence to the naturally incredible announcement that a man publicly executed by the Romans had been secretly raised from the dead, unless their words had been confirmed by the power alleged to be on their side? It is true the apostles were witnesses, in a natural sense, of the fact that Christ was alive, and would have steadily maintained their testimony to the fact, even if God had not worked with them, but how could the work of getting many to believe their testimony have been accomplished? The earnest protestation of belief on the part of the apostles, though it might have influenced a few, could not have produced that widespread conviction which was necessary to the creation of the Body of Christ. The effusion of the Holy Spirit did this. By the manifestation of supernatural powers, it bore witness to the truth of what the apostles declared. It is said,

"They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs followings" (Mark 16:20).

Paul describes the case in similar terms:

"The great salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Hebrews 2:3-4).

In this sense, the Holy Spirit is styled a witness of Christ’s resurrection;

"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree, ... and we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:30-32).

This is in accordance with what Christ had said:

"When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).

The power granted to the apostles for the confirmation of their testimony, was deposited in them as heavenly treasure in an earthen vessel, and they had the power of imparting it to others. This is evident from an incident recorded in Acts 8. Philip, the evangelist, went down to Samaria, and so proclaimed the truth (of which miraculous attestation was produced by him), that many believed and were baptised; but these did not at the time receive the gift of the Holy Spirit:

"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that, on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:14-19).

This power of bestowing the Spirit was invariably exercised where the truth was received. In almost every case recorded, the reception of the Spirit followed the reception of the truth. It was, indeed, a matter of promise that this should be so. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said,

"Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; for the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:38-39).

This promise was realised in the experience of the churches founded in the days of the apostles. The spirit distributed to believers its preternatural powers in different forms and degrees. Paul says:

"There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will" (1 Corinthians 12:6-11).

The object of this general diffusion of spiritual power in apostolic times, is thus stated by Paul:

"He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:11-14).

This is perfectly intelligible. If the early churches, consisting of men and women fresh from the abominations and immoralities of heathenism, and without the authoritative standard of the completed Scripture which now exists, had been left to the mere power of apostolic tradition intellectually received, they could not have held together. The winds of doctrine, blowing about through the activity of "men of corrupt minds", would have broken them from their moorings, and they would have been tossed to and fro in the billows of uncertain and conflicting report and opinion, and finally stranded in hopeless shipwreck. This catastrophe was prevented by the gifts of the Spirit. Properly qualified men, morally and intellectually, were made the repositories of these gifts, and empowered to "speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority". They "ruled" the communities over which they were placed, feeding the flock of God over which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock (Acts 20:28; 1Pet.5:2-3). In this way the early churches were built up and edified. The work of the apostles was conserved, improved, and carried to a consummation. The faith was completed and consolidated by the voice of inspiration, speaking through the spiritually-appointed leaders of the churches. By this means the results of gospel-preaching in the first century, when there were no means of a rapid circulation of ideas such as we have today, instead of evaporating to nothing, as, otherwise, they would have done, were secured and made permanent, both as regards that generation and succeeding centuries.

But it must be obvious that the case stands very differently now. There is no manifestation of the Spirit in these days. The power of continuing the manifestation doubtless died with the apostles; not that God could not have transferred it to others, but that he selected them as the channels of its bestowment in their age, and never, so far as we have any evidence, appointed "successors". There are many who claim to be their successors; but it is not the word but the power of a man that must be taken as the test in this matter. Let those who think they have the Spirit produce their evidences. There is a great outcry about the Holy Spirit in popular preaching; but nothing more. There are phenomena which are considered outpourings of the Holy Spirit; but they bear no resemblance to those of apostolic experience, and, therefore, must be rejected. They are explicable on natural principles.

When an exciting and highly mesmeric preacher gets a crowded audience, it is not a great wonder if his inflammatory exertions are successful in stimulating the susceptible among his hearers, to a state of mind corresponding with his own. He but uses a natural means, which evokes a natural result. If any of the natural conditions are wanting, the result is impaired to that extent. The "spirit", for instance, never descends to the same extent at an outdoor meeting as in a crowded chapel, especially if the day be windy. It is not dispensed so liberally to half-filled as to well-packed halls. It does not come so quickly at the bidding of a dull temperament and barren imagination, especially if the man be of small stature - as it does to that of a lusty, exciteable, well-built man, or a nervous, wiry, emphatic man. The reason is, that all these conditions are unfavourable to the play of latent magnetism of the human system.

Were it the Holy Spirit that attended these operations, it would overleap all barriers, and not only so, but its result would be of a more worthy and permanent character than the impressions made at "revival meetings", and rather more in harmony with what the Spirit has said through its ancient media, than the sentiments induced at these gatherings. But the fact is, it is not the Holy Spirit at all. It is the mere spirit of the flesh worked up into a religious excitement - an excitement which subsides as rapidly as the agency of its inception is withdrawn. The result of an intelligent apprehension of what the word of God teaches and requires, is different from this; this has its seat in the judgment, and lays hold of the entire mental man, creating new ideas and new affections, and, in general, evolving a "new man". In this work, the Spirit has no participation, except in the shape of the written word. This is the product of the Spirit - the ideas of the Spirit reduced to writing by the men of God who were moved by it. It is, therefore, the instrumentality of the Spirit, historically wielded: the sword of the Spirit by a metaphor which contemplates the Spirit in prophets and apostles in ancient times, as the warrior. By this, men may be subdued to God - that is, enlightened, purified, and saved, if they receive the word into good and honest hearts, and "bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred". By this they may become "spiritually minded", which is "life and peace" (Romans 8:6).

(Extracted from Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts with slight amendments to reflect the current state of affairs among the nations. Copies of this excellent guide to understanding the Bible are available by contacting us).


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