A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 13, 1860, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At Exeter Hall, Strand.
But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. (John 14:26)
1. There are many choice gifts comprehended in the Covenant of Grace, but the first and richest of them are these two—the gift of Jesus Christ for us and the gift of the Holy Spirit to us. The first of these I trust we are not likely to undervalue. We delight to hear of that “unspeakable gift”—the Son of God, who bore our sins, and carried our sorrows, and endured our punishment in his own body on the tree. There is something so tangible in the cross, the nails, the vinegar, the spear, that we are not able to forget the Master, especially when so often we enjoy the delightful privilege of assembling around his table, and breaking bread in remembrance of him. But the second great gift, by no means inferior to the first—the gift of the Holy Spirit to us—is so spiritual and we are so carnal, is so mysterious and we are so material, that we are very apt to forget his value, indeed, and even to forget the gift altogether. And yet, my brethren, let us always remember that Christ on the cross is of no value to us apart from the Holy Spirit in us. In vain that blood is flowing, unless the finger of the Spirit applies the blood to our conscience; in vain is that garment of righteousness made, a garment without seam, woven from the top throughout, unless the Holy Spirit wraps it around us, and arrays us in its costly folds. The river of the water of life cannot quench our thirst until the Spirit presents the goblet and lifts it to our lip. All the things that are in the paradise of God itself could never be blissful to us as long as we are dead souls, and we are dead souls until that heavenly wind comes from the four corners of the earth and breathes upon our spiritual deadness, so that we may live. We do not hesitate to say, that we owe as much to God the Holy Spirit as we do to God the Son. Indeed, it would be a high sin and crime to attempt to put one person of the Divine Trinity before another. You, oh Father, are the source of all grace, all love and mercy towards us. You, oh Son, are the channel of your Father’s mercy, and without you your Father’s love could never flow to us. And you, oh Spirit—you are the one who enables us to receive that divine virtue which flows from the fountainhead, the Father, through Christ the channel, and by your means enters into our spirit, and there remains and brings forth its glorious fruit. Magnify, then, the Spirit, you who are partakers of it; “praise, laud, and love his name always, for it is seemly to do so.”
2. My work this morning is to set forth the work of the Holy Spirit, not as a Comforter, or as a Quickener, or as a Sanctifier, but principally as a Teacher, although we shall have to touch upon these other points in passing.
3. The Holy Spirit is the great Teacher of the Father’s children. The Father begets us by his own will through the word of truth. Jesus Christ takes us into union with himself, so that we become in a second sense the children of God. Then God the Holy Spirit breathes into us the “spirit of adoption, by which we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” Having given us that spirit of adoption, he trains us, becomes our great Educator, cleanses away our ignorance, and reveals one truth after another, until at last we comprehend with all saints what are the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, and know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; and then the Spirit introduces the educated ones to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
4. Concerning this Teacher, these three things—first, what he teaches; secondly, his methods of teaching; and thirdly, the nature and characteristics of that teaching.
5. I. First, then, WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES US. And here indeed we have a wide field spread before us, for he teaches to God’s people all that they do that is acceptable to the Father, and all that they know that is profitable for themselves.
6. 1. I say that he teaches them all that they do. Now, there are some things which you and I can do naturally, when we are only children, without any instruction. Whoever taught a child to cry? It is natural for him. The first sign of his life is his shrill feeble cry of pain. After that you do not need to send him to school to teach him to utter the cry of his grief, the well known expression of his little sorrows. Ah, my brethren, but you and I, as spiritual infants, had to be taught to cry; for we could not even cry by ourselves, until we had received “the spirit of adoption, by which we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” There are cryings and groanings which cannot be uttered in words and speech, simple as this language of the new nature seems to be. But even these feeblest groanings, sighings, cryings, tears, are signs of education. We must be taught to do this, or else we are not sufficient to do even these little things in and by ourselves. Children, as we know, have to be taught to speak, and it is by degrees that they are able to pronounce first the shorter, and afterwards the longer words. We, too, are taught to speak. None of us have learned, as yet, the whole vocabulary of Canaan. I trust we are able to say some of the words; but we shall never be able to pronounce them all until we come into that land where we shall see Christ, and “shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” The sayings of the saints, when they are good and true, are the teachings of the Spirit. Note that that passage did not say—“No man can say that Jesus is the Christ except by the Holy Spirit?” He may say as much in dead words, but the spirit’s saying, the saying of the soul, he can never attain to, except as he is taught by the Holy Spirit. Those first words which we ever used as Christians—“God be merciful to me a sinner,” were taught to us by the Holy Spirit; and that song which we shall sing before the throne—“To him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever,” shall only be the ripe fruit of that same tree of knowledge of good and evil, which the Holy Spirit has planted in the soil of our hearts.
7. Further, as we are taught to cry, and taught to speak by the Holy Spirit, so are all God’s people taught to walk and act by him. “It is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” We may take the best heed to our life, but we shall stumble or go astray unless he who first set us in the path shall guide us in it. “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms.” “He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.” To stray is natural; to keep the path of right is spiritual. To err is human; to be holy is divine. To fall is the natural effect of evil; but to stand is the glorious effect of the Holy Spirit working in us, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. There was never yet a heavenly thought, never yet a hallowed deed, never yet a consecrated act acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, which was not worked in us by the Holy Spirit. You have worked all our works in us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”
8. Now as it is with the simple deeds of the Christian, his crying, his speaking, his walking, his acting—all these are teachings of the Holy Spirit—so it is with the higher efforts of his nature. The preaching of the gospel, when it is done properly, is only accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. That sermon which is based upon human genius is worthless; that sermon which has been obtained through human knowledge, and which has no other force in it than the force of logic or of oratory, is spent in vain. God does not work by such tools as these. He does not cleanse spirits by the water from broken cisterns, neither does he save souls by thoughts which come from men’s brains, apart from the divine influence which goes with them. We might have all the learning of the sages of Greece, indeed, better still, all the knowledge of the twelve apostles put together, and then we might have the tongue of a seraph, and the eyes and heart of a Saviour, but apart from the Spirit of the living God, our preaching would still be in vain, and our hearers and ourselves would still remain in our sins. To preach properly can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. There may be a thing called preaching that is from human energy, but God’s ministers are taught by the Holy One; and when their word is blessed, either to saint or sinner, the blessing does not come from them, but from the Holy Spirit, and to him be all the glory, for it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
9. So it is with sacred song. Whose are the wings with which I mount towards the skies in sacred harmony and joy? They are your wings, oh Holy Dove! Whose is the fire with which my spirit flames at times of hallowed consecration? Yours is the flame, oh fiery Spirit! yours. Whose is the tongue of fire which rested on the apostolic lip? Yours was that cloven tongue, you Holy One of Israel! Whose is that dew which falls upon the withered blade, and makes it smile and live? Yours are those holy drops oh Dew of God; you are that womb of the morning from where these beauties of holiness proceed. You have worked all in us, and to you would we give well deserved thanks. So, then, all the doings of the Christian, both the little and the major doings, are all the teachings of the Holy Spirit.
10. 2. But now, further; all that the believer truly knows that is profitable for himself is taught to him by the Holy Spirit. We may learn very much from the Word of God morally and mentally, but the Christian philosopher understands that there is a distinction between soul and spirit; that the mere natural soul or intellect of man may instruct itself well enough out of the Word of God, but that spiritual things are only to be spiritually discerned; and that until that third, higher principle—the spirit—is infused into us in regeneration, we do not have even the capability or the possibility of knowing spiritual things. Now it is this third, higher principle, of which the apostle speaks when he speaks of “body, soul, and spirit.” Mental philosophers declare there is no such thing as the third part—spirit. They can find a body and a soul, but no spirit. They are quite right—there is no such thing in natural men. That third principle—the spirit—is an infusion of the Holy Spirit at regeneration, and is not to be detected by mental philosophy; it is altogether a more subtle thing; a thing too rare, too heavenly, to be described by Dugald Stewart, or Reid, or Brown, or any of those mighty men who could dissect the mind, but who could not understand the spirit. Now, the Spirit of God first gives us a spirit, and then afterwards educates that spirit; and all that that spirit knows is taught to it by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the first thing that we learn is sin: he reproves us of sin. No man knows the exceeding sinfulness of sin, but by the Holy Spirit. You may punish a man; you may tell him of the wrath of God, and of hell, but you cannot make him know what an evil and a bitter thing sin is until the Holy Spirit has taught it to him. It is an awful lesson indeed to learn; and when the Holy Spirit makes us sit down upon the stool of penitence, and begins to drill this great truth into us, that sin is damnation in the bud, that sin is hell in the germ: then when we begin to perceive it, we cry out, “Now I know how vile I am; my soul abhors itself in dust and ashes.” No man, I repeat it, will ever know the sinfulness of sin by argument, by punishment, by moral discipline, or by any means apart from the education of the Holy Spirit. It is a truth beyond the reach of human intellect to know how base a thing sin is. The spirit alone, engrafted and given by the Holy Spirit,—that spirit alone can learn the lesson, and only the Holy Spirit can teach it.
11. The next lesson the Spirit teaches us, is the total ruin, depravity, and helplessness of self. Men pretend to know this by nature, but they do not know it; they can only speak the words of experience as parrots speak like men. But to know myself to be utterly lost and ruined; to know myself to be so lost, “that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing,” is a knowledge so distasteful, so hateful, so abominable to the carnal intellect, that man would not learn it if he could, and if he has learned it, it is a clear proof that God the Holy Spirit has made him willing to see the truth, and willing to receive it. When we sometimes hear great preachers telling us that there is something grand still left in man; that when Adam fell he might have broken his little finger, but did not ruin himself entirely, that man is a grand being, in fact a noble creature, and that we are all wrong in telling men they are depraved, and thundering out the law of God at them—am I astonished that they should speak thus? Indeed, my brethren, it is the language of the carnal mind the whole world over, and in every age. No wonder that a man is eloquent upon this point; every man needs to be eloquent when he has to defend a lie. No wonder that glorious sentences have been uttered, and flowery periods poured forth from a cornucopia of eloquence upon this subject. A man needs to exhaust all logic and all rhetoric to defend a falsehood; and it is not a wonder that he seeks to do it, for man believes himself to be rich, and increased in goods, and to have need of nothing, until the Holy Spirit teaches him that he is naked, and poor, and miserable.
12. After these lessons are learned, the Spirit proceeds to teach us further—the nature and character of God. God is to be heard in every wind, and seen in every cloud, but not all of God. God’s goodness, and God’s omnipotence are clearly revealed to us in the world by the works of creation; but where do I read of his grace, where do I read of his mercy, or of his justice? There are lines which I cannot read in creation. Those must have quick ears indeed who can hear the notes of mercy or of grace whispering in the evening breeze. No, brethren, these parts of God’s attributes are only revealed to us in this precious Book, and there they are so revealed that we cannot know them until the Spirit opens our eyes to perceive them. To know the inflexibility of divine justice, and to see how God exacts punishment for every jot and tittle of sin, and yet to know that that full orbed justice does not eclipse his equally full orbed mercy, but that the two move around each other, without for a single instant coming into contact, or conflict, or casting the slightest shallow on one or the other; to see how God is just and yet the justifier of the ungodly, and so to know God that my spirit loves his nature, appreciates his attributes, and desires to be like him—this is a knowledge which astronomy cannot teach, which all the research of the sciences can never give to us. We must be taught about God, if we ever to learn about him—we must be taught about God, by God the Holy Spirit. Oh that we may learn this lesson well; that we may be able to sing of his faithfulness, of his covenant love, of his immutability, of his boundless mercy, of his inflexible justice, that we may be able to talk to one another concerning that incomprehensible One, and may see him even as a man sees his friend; and may come to walk with him as Enoch did, all the days of our life! This, indeed, must be an education given to us by the Holy Spirit.
13. But not to tarry on these points, though they are quite expansive, let us observe that the Holy Spirit especially teaches us about Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Saviour to us in the glory of his person; the complex character of his manhood and of his deity; it is he who tells us of the love of his heart, of the power of his arm, of the clearness of his eye, the preciousness of his blood, and of the prevalence of his plea. To know that Christ is my Redeemer, is to know more than Plato could have taught me. To know that I am a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; that my name is on his heart, and engraved on the palms of his hands, is to know more than the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge could teach to all their scholars, no matter how well they were taught. Paul did not learn to say at the feet of Gamaliel—“He loved me, and gave himself for me.” Paul did not learn to cry in the midst of the Rabbis, or at the feet of the members of the Sanhedrin—“Those things which I counted gain, I now count loss for Christ’s sake. God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” No, this must have been taught as he himself confesses—“not by flesh and blood, but by the Holy Spirit.”
14. I need only hint that it is also the Spirit who teaches us about our adoption. Indeed, all the privileges of the new covenant, beginning from regeneration, running through redemption, justification, pardon, sanctification, adoption, preservation, continual safety, even to an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—all is the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and especially that last point, for “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” He leads us into the truth of joys to come, carries our spirit upwards, and gives us
That inward calm within the breast,
The surest pledge of glorious rest,
Which for the Church of God remains,
The end of cares, the end of pains.
15. II. And now I come to the second point, which was this—THE METHODS BY WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES GOD’S CHILDREN THESE PRECIOUS THINGS.
16. Here we must remark that we know nothing of the precise way of operation, because the Spirit is mysterious; we do not know from where he comes or where he goes. But still let us describe what we can perceive. And first, in teaching God’s people, one of the first things the Spirit does is to excite interest in their minds. I frequently find that when men are being educated for the ministry, the hardest thing is to get them started. They are like bats on the ground; if once a bat gets on the earth he cannot fly until he creeps to the top of a stone and gets a little above the earth, and then he takes flight and can fly well enough. So there are many who have not had their energies aroused, they have talent but it is asleep; and we want a kind of railway whistle to blow in their ears to make them spring up and rub away the film from their eyes so that they may see. Now it is just so with men, when the Spirit of God begins to teach them. He excites their interest in the things which he wishes them to learn; he shows them that these things have a personal bearing upon their soul’s present and eternal welfare. He so brings precious truth home, that what the man thought was utterly indifferent yesterday, he now begins to esteem inestimably precious. “Oh!” he said, “theology! of what use can it be to me?” But now the knowledge of Christ and him crucified has become to him the most desirable and excellent of all the sciences. The Holy Spirit awakens his interest.
17. That done, he gives to the man a teachable spirit. There are men who will not learn. They profess that they want to know, but you never found the right way of teaching them. Teach them little and little, and they say—“Do you think I am a child?” Tell them a great deal at once, and they say—“You do not have the power to make me understand!” until I have been compelled sometimes to say to a man, when I have been trying to make him understand, and he has said, “I cannot understand you,” “Well, sir, I am thankful it is not my duty to give you an understanding if you have none.” Now, the Holy Spirit makes a man willing to learn in any way. The disciple sits down at the feet of Christ; and let Christ speak as he may, and teach him as he wishes, whether with the rod, or with a smile, he is quite willing to learn. However distasteful the lessons are, the regenerated pupil loves to learn best the very things he once hated. However cutting to his pride each one of the doctrines of the gospel may be, it is for this very reason he loves them; for he cries, “Lord, humble me; Lord, bring me down; teach me those things that will make me cover my head with dust and ashes; show me my nothingness; teach me my emptiness; reveal to me my filthiness.” So that the Holy Spirit thus proceeds with his work—awaking interest, and enkindling a teachable spirit. After this the Holy Spirit puts truth into a clear light. How hard it is sometimes to state a fact which you perfectly understand yourself, in such a way that another man may see it. It is like the telescope; there are many people who are disappointed with a telescope, because whenever they walk into an observatory and put their eye to the glass, expecting to see the rings of Saturn, and the belts of Jupiter, they have said, “I can see nothing at all; a piece of glass, and a grain or two of dust is all I can see!” “But,” says the astronomer, when he comes, “I can see Saturn in all her glory.” Why can you not see anything? Because the focus does not suit the stranger’s eye. By a little skill, the focus can be adjusted so that the observer may be able to see what he could not see before. So it is with language; it is a kind of telescope by which I enable another to see my thoughts, but I cannot always give him the right focus. Now the Holy Spirit always gives the right focus to every truth. He sheds a light so strong and forcible upon the Word, that the spirit says, “Now I see it, now I understand it.” For even here, in this precious Book, there are words which I have looked at a hundred times, but I could not understand them, until at some favoured hour, the keyword seemed as if it leaped up from the midst of the verse and said to me, “Look at the verse in my light,” and at once I perceived—not always from a word in the verse itself, but sometimes in the context—I perceived the meaning which I could not see before. This, too, is a part of the Spirit’s training—to shed a light upon truth. But the Spirit not only enlightens the truth, but he enlightens the understanding. It is marvellous, too, how the Holy Spirit does teaches men who seemed as if they never could learn. I would not wish to say anything which my brother might be grieved by; but I do know some brethren, I will not say they are here today, but they may be here—some brethren whose opinion I would not take concerning anything worldly on any account. If it were anything to do with pounds, shillings, and pence anything where human judgment was concerned, I would not consult them; but those men have a deeper, truer, and more experimental knowledge of the Word of God, than many who preach it, because the Holy Spirit never tried to teach them grammar, and never meant to teach them business—never wanted to teach them astronomy, but he has taught them the Word of God, and they understand it. Other teachers have laboured to beat the elements of science into them but without success, for they are as thick and addled in they brains as they can well be; but the Holy Spirit has taught them the Word of God, and they understand it clearly. I come in close contact with some young men. When we are taking our lessens for illustration out of the sciences, they seem to be all confused, and when I ask them a question to see if they have understood, they are lost; but note when we come to read: a chapter from some old Puritan book—come to theology—those brethren give me the smartest and sharpest answers of the whole class. When we once come to deal with things experimental and controversial, I find those men are able to double up their opponents, and vanquish them at once, because they are deeply read in the Word of God. The Spirit has taught them the things of Christ, but he has not taught them anything else. I have perceived, also, that when the Spirit of God has enlarged the understanding to receive biblical truth that the understanding becomes more capable receiving other truth. I heard, some time ago, from a brother minister, when we were comparing notes, the story of a man who had been the dullest creature that was known. He was not more than one grade above an idiot, but when he was converted to God, one of the first things he wanted to do, was to read the Bible. They had a long, long task to teach him a verse, but he would learn it; he would master it. He kept at it as hard as ever he could, until he was able to read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That man was by and by asked to lead in prayer. At first he hardly put a sentence together. By and by he arrived at a considerable degree of fluency, because he wanted to do it. He would not stand still, he said, in the prayer meeting, and not have a word to say for his Master. He began to read his Bible very much, and to pray with a great deal of profit and acceptableness to those who heard, and after awhile, he actually began to speak in the villages, and later became an honoured and acceptable pastor of one of our Baptist Churches. Had it not been for the Spirit of God first expanding the understanding to receive religious truth, that understanding might have been cramped, and fettered, and bolted fast to this very day, and the man might have been always an idiot, and so have gone down to his grave, while now he stands up to tell to sinners all around, in burning language, the story of the cross of Christ. The Spirit teaches us by enlightening the understanding.
18. Lest I weary you, let me hurry on through the other points. He teaches us also by refreshing the memory. “He shall bring all things to your remembrance.” He puts all those old treasures into the ark of our soul, and when the time comes, he opens it, and brings out these precious things in right good order, and shows them to us again and again. He refreshes the memory, and when this is done, he does better, he teaches us the Word, by making us feel its effect, and that, after all, is the best way of learning. You may try to teach a child the meaning of the term “sweetness;” but words will not avail, give him some honey and he will never forget it. You might seek to tell him about the glorious mountains, and the Alps, that pierce the clouds and send their snowy peaks, like white robed ambassadors up to the courts of heaven: take him there; let him see them, and he will never forget them. You might try to paint to him the grandeur of the American continent, with its hills, and lakes, and rivers, such as the world has never seen before: let him go and view it, and he will know more about the land than he could know by all your teaching, when he sits at home. So the Holy Spirit does not only tell us about Christ’s love; he sheds it abroad in the heart. He does not merely tell us about the sweetness of pardon; but he gives us a sense of no condemnation, and then we know all about it, better than we could have done by any teaching of words and thoughts. He takes us into the banqueting house and waves the banner of love over us. He bids us visit the garden of nuts, and makes us lie among the lilies. He gives us that bundle of camphire, even our Beloved, and bids us place it all night on our hearts. He takes us to the cross of Christ, and he bids us put our finger into the print of the nails, and our hands into his side, and tells us not to come “faithless, but believing,” and so in the highest and most effectual manner he teaches us for our profit.
19. III. But now I shall come to my third point, although I feel so if I wished my subject were somewhat less comprehensive, but indeed it is a fault which does not often happen—to have too much rather than too little to speak about, except when we come upon a topic where God is to be glorified, and here indeed our tongue must be like the pen of a ready writer, when we speak about the things that we have known about the King.
20. I am now to speak to you about the CHARACTERISTICS AND NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S TEACHING. And first I would remark that the Holy Spirit teaches sovereignty. He teaches whom he pleases. He takes the fool and makes him know the wonders of the dying love of Christ, to bring aspiring wisdom low and make the pride of man humble and abase itself. And as the Spirit teaches whom he wills, so he teaches when he wishes. He has his own hours of instruction, and he will not be limited and bound by us. And then again he teaches as he wishes—some by affliction, some by communion; some he teaches by reading the Word, some by the spoken Word, some by neither, but directly by his own agency. And so also the Holy Spirit is a sovereign in that he teaches in whatever degree he pleases. He will make one man learn much, while another comprehends very little. Some Christians wear their beards early—they come to a rapid and high degree of maturity, and that suddenly, while others creep only slowly to the goal, some are very long in reaching it. Some Christians in early years understand more than others whose hairs have turned grey. The Holy Spirit is a sovereign. He does not have all his pupils in one class learning the same lesson by simultaneous instruction; but each man is in a separate class, each man learning a separate lesson. Some beginning at the end of the book, some at the beginning, and some in the middle—some learning one doctrine and some another, some going backwards and some forwards. The Holy Spirit teaches sovereignly, and gives to every man according as he wishes, but then, wherever he teaches at all, he teaches effectually. He never yet failed to make us learn. No scholar was ever expelled from the Spirit’s school for being incorrigible. He teaches all his children, not some of them—“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children,”—the last sentence being a proof that they have been effectually taught. Never once did the Spirit bring home the truth to the heart and yet that heart fail to receive it. He has modes of touching the secret springs of life, and putting the truth into the very core of the being. He casts his healing mixtures into the fountain itself, and not into the streams. We instruct the ear, and the ear is far removed from the heart; he teaches the heart itself, and therefore his every word falls upon good soil, and brings forth good and abundant fruit—he teaches effectually. Dear brother, do you feel yourself to be a great fool sometimes? Your great Schoolmaster will make a good scholar of you yet. He will so teach you, that you shall be able to enter the kingdom of heaven knowing as much as the brightest saints. Teaching thus sovereignly and effectually, I may add, he teaches infallibly. We teach you errors through lack of caution, sometimes through being over zealous, and again through the weakness of our own mind. In the greatest preacher or teacher who ever lived there was some degree of error, and hence our hearers should always bring what we say to the law and the testimony; but the Holy Spirit never teaches error; if you have learned anything by the Spirit of God, it is pure, unadulterated, undiluted truth. Put yourself daily under his teaching, and you shall never learn a word amiss, nor a thought awry, but become infallibly taught, well taught in the whole truth as it is in Jesus.
21. Further, where the Spirit thus teaches infallibly he teaches continually. Whomever he once teaches, he never leaves until he has completed their education. On, and on, and on, however dull the scholar, however frail the memory, however defective the mind, he still continues with his gracious work, until he has trained us up and made us “fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Nor does he leave us until he has taught us completely; for as our text says, “He shall teach you all things.” There is not a truth so high that it shall not yet be mastered, nor a doctrine so hard that it shall not yet be received. High up, very high up, tower the heights of the hill of knowledge, but there, even there, your feet shall stand. Weary may be the way and weak may be your knees, but up there you shall climb, and one day with your forehead bathed in the sunlight of heaven, your soul shall stand and look down on tempests, mists, and all earth’s clouds and smoke, and see the Master face to face, and be like him, and know him as he is. This is the joy of the Christian, that he shall be completely taught, and that the Holy Spirit will never give him up until he has taught him all truth.
22. I fear, however, that this morning I weary you. Such a theme as this will not be likely to be suitable to all minds. As I have already said, the spiritual mind alone receives spiritual things, and the doctrine of the Spirit’s agency will never be very interesting to those who are entirely strangers to it. I could not make another man understand the force of an electric shock unless he has felt it. It would not be likely at all that he would believe in those secret energies which move the world, unless he had some means of testing them for himself. And those of you who never felt the Spirit’s energy, are as much strangers to it as a stone would be. You are out of your element when you hear about the Spirit. You know nothing of his divine power; you have never been taught by him, and therefore why should you be careful to know what truths he teaches?
23. I close, therefore, with this sorrowful reflection. Alas, alas, a thousand times alas, that there should be so many who do not know their danger, who do not feel their load, and in whose heart the light of the Holy Spirit has never shone! Is it your case my dear hearer, this morning? I do not ask you whether you have been ever educated in the school of learning; that you may be, and you may have taken your degree and been first class in honours, but you may still be as the wild donkey’s colt that knows nothing about these things. Religion and its truth is not to be learned by the head. Years of reading, hours of assiduous study, will never make a man a Christian. “It is the Spirit who quickens; the flesh profits nothing.” Oh! are you destitute of the Spirit of the living God? For oh! I charge you to remember this my hearer: if in your soul the mysterious and supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit has never been shed abroad, you are an utter stranger to all the things of God. The promises are not yours; heaven is not yours; you are on your road to the land of the dammed, to the region of the corpse, where their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. Oh that the Spirit of God may rest upon you now! Remember, you are absolutely dependent upon his influence. You are in God’s hand today to be saved or to be lost—not in your own hands, but in his. You are dead in sins; unless he quickens you, you must remain so. The moth beneath your finger is not more absolutely at your mercy than you are now at the mercy of God. Let him only wish to leave you as you are, and you are lost; but oh! if mercy speaks and says, “Let that man live,” you are saved. I wish that you could feel the weight of this tremendous doctrine of sovereignty. It is like the hammer of Thor, it may shake your heart, however stout it is, and make your rocky soul tremble to its base.
Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown,
Hang on his firm decree.
Your destiny hangs there now; and will you rebel against the God in whose hand your soul’s eternal fate now rests? Will you lift the puny hand of your rebellion against him who alone can quicken you—without whose gracious energy you are dead, and must be destroyed? Will you go today and sin against light and against knowledge? Will you go today and reject mercy which is proclaimed to you in Christ Jesus? If so, no fool was ever so mad as you are, to reject him without whom you are dead, and lost, and ruined. Oh that instead of that may there be the sweet whisper of the Spirit saying, “Obey the divine command, believe on Christ and live!” Hear the voice of Jehovah, who cries, “This is the commandment, that you believe in Jesus Christ whom he has sent!” Thus being obedient, God says within himself, “I have set my love upon him, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high because he has known my name;” and you shall yet live to sing in heaven of that sovereignty which, when your soul trembled in the balances, decided for your salvation, and gave you light and unspeakable joy. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on Calvary’s cross, “and whoever believes on him shall be saved.” “To you therefore who believe he is precious: but to those who are disobedient the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.” Believe that record to be true; cast down your weapons; yield to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit; and he shall assuredly prove to you that, in that very yielding, there was a proof that he had loved you; for he made you yield; he made you willing to bow before him in the day of his power. May the Holy Spirit now rest on the word I have spoken, for Jesus’ sake!