The Holy Spirit Glorifying the Redeemer
He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. John 16:14
He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. John 16:14
How replete with the deepest instruction, and how copious with the richest comfort, is the chapter which embodies the great truth, on the unfolding of which we have now entered! We have before observed, that it was a marked characteristic of the farewell discourse of our blessed Lord to His disciples, that He then went more fully into the character and official work of the Holy Spirit than at any former period of His ministry. There is an air of solemnity and a force of affirmation in the manner and in the terms with which He proceeds to enunciate the great truth of the Spirit's descent, as an immediate and necessary consequent of His own departure, which not only awaken on its behalf the deepest interest, but which evidence that, in the mind of the glorious Promiser Himself, the gift was identical with the most enlarged, costly, and enduring blessing to the Church: "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." Thereby implying, that the permanent presence and indwelling of the Spirit as the Comforter, was even more than an equivalent for His bodily absence; and would fully compensate the Church for any loss it might sustain from His departure. Ah, it is the mercy of the believer to know that he is not only a temple of the Holy Spirit, but that through all his pilgrimage he shall be gladdened with the presence, and cheered with the smile, of Jesus too.
Our Lord then proceeds to advance another reason for the gift which He was about to bestow. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now." We are not to understand, that by this He meant to convey the idea that He had kept back any doctrines or precepts of the Gospel, to be afterwards revealed to, and more fully promulgated by the apostles: far from it; for in His frequent discourses, on various suitable occasions, He had fully expounded to His disciples all the great leading truths and doctrines of His Gospel, leaving them nothing to conjecture or to doubt. Hence, on a previous occasion, He declares, "I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from my Father, I have made known unto you." But we are to interpret His meaning as referring, among other things, to the enlargement of His kingdom, by the accession of the Gentiles to it; to the nature of the Gospel Church, of which they as yet were imperfectly informed, if informed at all; to the dispersion of the Jewish nation, and their final restoration to their own land; to the entire abrogation of the Mosaic economy, and to the rise and progress of Antichrist; the full disclosure of these things, they could not then bear, in consequence of their Jewish prejudices, which yet existed- the earthly conceptions of Christ's kingdom, which they still cherished, and the scanty measure- the mere pledge- of the Holy Spirit, which they had as yet but received.
There is yet another declaration of our Lord concerning the Spirit, to which we would refer, vindicating it from a misinterpretation, which it has received- "He will not speak of Himself." This passage has led many to suppose, that the Spirit does not speak of, or witness to, His own work! But this is, obviously, not the true meaning of the words. "He will not speak of (or, from) Himself," that is, in opposition to, or independently of, the Father and the Son. Thus our Lord, referring to Himself, says, "I have not spoken of (or, from) myself;" and again, "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself," evidently meaning, "I come not in my own name, I come to do my Father's will; I have no separate authority of my own; I act in concert with Him that sent me." And in this obvious sense, our Lord says of the Spirit, "He shall not speak of (or, from) Himself;" -not that He shall not speak of or witness to His own work in the soul, but that He shall not speak of His own self, as separate from the Godhead. The misinterpretation which we have thus endeavored to correct, has led those who entertained it, to question the absolute Deity of the Spirit; as if the text implied inferiority of nature. But we answer, Did not our Lord come as a servant, and not in His own name; and did that inferiority of office prove an inferiority of nature? Surely not. Is the King's Son less a prince royal, because He bears a commission from His Father? He may be inferior to His Father in office, yet equal to Him in all the personal and essential attributes of royalty. When Christ affirmed, "My Father is greater than I," He alluded to a subordination of office, not to an inequality of nature. Thus the Spirit is as much a procession from the Father as the Son, and is as much the messenger of Christ as Christ is of the Father. The Spirit leads us to the Son, and the Son conducts us to the Father. "For through Him (the Son) we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father." The Father is God- the Son is God- and the Holy Spirit is God, and these three constitute the One Triune Jehovah.
But the great work of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. To the devout and solemn consideration of this precious and important branch of our great subject, let us now direct our thoughts. Thus does our Lord affirm the truth- "He will glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." Viewed in relation to this truth, the work of the Holy Spirit appears in a light of immeasurable greatness and glory. It would seem to be the pivot on which turned the entire work of Jesus- the source which supplied its life, its power, and its efficacy. Not for a moment would we hazard the idea, that the testimony and grace of the Spirit imparted any intrinsic efficacy to the atoning work of Jesus; the entire completeness of that work, its full acceptance in the court of justice, the legal discharge of the Church on its ground, and the Father's approval of it by the resurrection and exaltation of His Son; as we have shown at some length. The sacrificial work of Jesus, therefore, receives no measure of intrinsic value, or efficacy, from any part of the work of the Spirit: and yet there is a connection, and a dependence. As far as the work of our dear Lord becomes available in the personal salvation of the believer, it depends solely upon the life-giving influence of God the Holy Spirit. Complete as is the righteousness, efficacious as is the blood, and all-sufficient as is the grace of Christ, yet apart from the especial, effectual, and Divine operation of the Spirit upon the heart, they would remain to us as a robe unworn, a fulness untouched, a "fountain sealed." Thus, there is a beautiful relation, a sweet harmony, between the atoning work of Jesus and the official work of the Holy Spirit- "He will glorify me."
We have already alluded to the day of Pentecost. We recur to it again, because on that memorable day the Spirit first glorified Christ, openly, visibly, manifestly. It would seem as if the curtain of eternity were parted, and the windows of heaven were opened, and eyes that saw nothing but lowliness, and poverty and degradation in Jesus before, now were permitted to behold Him inaugurated in His throne, a Prince and a Savior, encircled with glory, and with gifts of grace in His hand, ready to shower them profusely upon the rebellious. Three thousand souls pierced to their heart, made to see the plague within, stretched out their hands of faith, and welcomed these gifts, adoring the grace, extolling the love, crowning the Prince, and lauding the Savior, from where, and through whom, they proceeded. Oh, how illustriously did the Spirit now outwardly glorify Jesus! How glorious did He appear to those who now saw nothing but deformity in themselves! How precious to those whose hearts were never before stricken with godly grief! What compunction, what sadness, what sorrow must have bowed their hearts to the dust as they thought- "This is He whom we called a Nazarene, whom we stigmatized as a glutton and a wine-bibber, whom we bound, whom we scourged, whom we spat upon, whom we mocked, and whom we crucified!" But how glorious to their eye would He now appear, returning them good for evil, blessing for cursing, cherishing them on the bosom they had wounded, and causing pardon, acceptance, present hope and future glory, to flow to them through that very blood in the shedding of which their hands had been imbrued! What an open, visible glorifying of Christ by the Eternal Spirit was this!
The Spirit glorifies Jesus in the Word. The Word of God is full of Christ. He is the sun of this Divine system, the fountain of its light and beauty. How emphatically does He Himself declare this truth, and we know that His witness is true- "You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!" The Scriptures testify of Jesus. Every doctrine derives its substance from His person, every precept its force from His work, every promise its sweetness from His love. Is it not to be feared, that in the study of the Scriptures, it is a much forgotten truth, that they testify of Jesus? Are they not read, searched, and examined, with a mind too little intent upon adding to its wealth, by an increased knowledge of His person, and character, and work? And thus it is we lower the character of the Bible. We may read it as a mere uninspired record; we may study it as a book of human literature. Its antiquity may interest us, its history may inform us, its philosophy may instruct us, its poetry may charm us; and thus, while skimming the surface of this Book of books, the glorious Christ, who is its substance, its subject, its sweetness, its work- and but for whom there had been no Bible- has been deeply and darkly veiled from the eye.
But it is the office of the blessed and eternal Spirit to unfold, and so to glorify, Jesus in the Word. All that we spiritually and savingly learn respecting Him, through this revealed medium, is by the sole teaching of the Holy Spirit, opening up this word to the mind. He shows how all the luminous lines of Scripture truth emanate from, return to, and center in, Christ- how all the doctrines set forth the glory of His person, how all the promises are written in His heart's blood, and how all the precepts are embodied in His life.
To the question often earnestly propounded- "What is the best method of reading, so as to understand the Scriptures?" I would, in this connection of our subject, reply- Read them with the one desire and end of learning more of Christ, and with earnest prayer for the teaching of the Spirit, that Christ may be unfolded in the Word. With this simple method persevered in, you shall not fail to comprehend the mind of the Holy Spirit, in portions which previously may have been unintelligible and obscure. Do not restrict yourself to fixed rules, or to human helps. Rely less upon dictionaries, and maps, and annotations. With singleness of aim, with a specific object of research, and with fervent prayer for the Holy Spirit's teaching, "you need not that any man teach you;" but collating Scripture with Scripture, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual," you may fearlessly enter upon the investigation of the greatest mysteries contained in the sacred Volume, assured that the Savior, for whose glories and riches you search, will reveal Himself to your eye, "full of grace and truth." Precious Bible! so full of a precious Jesus! How do all its clouds and darkness melt into light and beauty, as He, the Sun of Righteousness, rises in noontide glory upon its page!
Search it, my reader, with a view of seeing and knowing more of your Redeemer, compared with whom, nothing else is worth knowing or making known. Love your Bible, because it testifies of Jesus; because it unfolds the great Savior, the almighty Redeemer; because it reveals the glory of the sin-pardoning God, in the person of Jesus Christ. Aim to unravel Jesus in the types, to observe Him amid the shadows, to trace Him through the predictions of the prophets, the records of the evangelists, and the letters of the apostles. All speak of, and all lead to, Jesus. "They are they which testify of me."
And not only thus, but by employing the truth which especially testifies of Jesus, as the grand instrument of producing that holiness in the soul of which He is the Divine Author, He confers unspeakable honor on Christ in the word. The Spirit of God undertakes the achievement of a stupendous work. He enters the soul, and proposes to restore the empire of grace, the reign of holiness, and the throne of God. He engages to form all things anew- to create a revolution in favor of Christ and of heaven. He undertakes to change the heart, turning its enmity into love; to collect all the elements of darkness and confusion, educing from them perfect light and perfect order; to subdue the will, bringing it into harmony with God's will; to explore all the recesses of sin, turning its very impurity into holiness- in a word, to regenerate the soul, restoring the Divine image, and fitting it for the full and eternal enjoyment of God in glory. Now, in accomplishing this great work, what instrumentality does He employ? Passing by all human philosophy, and pouring contempt upon the profoundest wisdom and the mightiest power of man, He employs, in the product of a work, in comparison with which the rise and the fall of empires were as infants' play, simply and alone, the "truth as it is in Jesus." With this instrument He enters the soul- the seat of the greatest revolution that ever transpired. He moves over the dark chaos, without form and void, and in a moment, a world of immortal beauty bursts into view. He overshadows the soul, and a vital principle is imparted, whose stream of existence, once commenced, flows on with the eternity of God Himself. How Divine, yet how natural, too, the process! In the illapses of human thought, in the overtasked power of the human intellect, how often is the mind impaired and shattered by the severe process through which it passes! But here is a revolution which touches every faculty of the soul, which changes all the powers of the mind; and yet, so gentle, so persuasive, and so mild, is the Spirit's operation, that so far from deranging the power, or disturbing the balance, of the intellect, it develops resources, awakens energies, and inspires strength, of which, until now, it knew not its possession. "The entrance of Your word gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple."
And to what shall we turn for the secret of this? To the Gospel, so replete with the glory of Jesus. That Gospel, the substance of which is the incarnate God; the theme of which is Christ crucified. That Gospel which testifies of His Godhead, which declares His manhood, which unfolds the union of both in the person of the glorious Redeemer; and which holds Him up to view, mighty and willing to save to the uttermost. Well may the great apostle of the Gentiles exclaim, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes."
In the further work of sanctification by the truth, the Divine Spirit equally magnifies Christ. Still does He employ the truth, that speaks of Jesus. Does He quicken? it is by a Gospel precept. Does He establish? it is by a Gospel doctrine. Does He comfort? it is by a Gospel promise. Does He sanctify? it is by a Gospel admonition. Thus is Jesus honored through the word, in every step of our way to heaven. And oh, how sanctifying and comforting is the truth which testifies of Jesus! It has but to point to Him, and, clothed with the energy of the Spirit, the strongest corruption is subdued, the deepest grief is soothed. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." And this it does, by unfolding Jesus in the word. Oh, of what, value or efficacy is all our knowledge of the truth, if it lead us not to Jesus; if it expand not our views of His glory; if it conform not our minds to His image; if it increase not our love to His person, and if it quicken not our obedience to His commands, and our zeal for His cause; and mature us not, by a progressive holiness, for the enjoyment of His beatific presence?
But here let us vindicate the honor of the Divine Spirit against the view of some, calculated greatly to affect it. There are those who deny any other operation of the Holy Spirit, than that which exists in the written word- thus restricting His influence solely to the letter of the truth, and thereby limiting His power and detracting from His glory.
But is not this an exalting of the instrumental above the efficient cause of regeneration? Divine as is the record, and precious as is the revelation it affords of Jesus, it yet is but an instrument, and nothing more. Unaccompanied with the power of the Holy Spirit, it is inactive, inoperative, a mere dead letter. It quickens not, it sanctifies not, it comforts not. It may be read constantly, and searched deeply, and known accurately, and understood partially, and quoted appropriately; yet, left to its own unassisted power, 'it comes but in word only,' producing no hallowing, no abiding, no saving results. If there be no other, especial and invincible, influence of the Divine Spirit, operating upon the mind, how comes it to pass that all who read the word are not instantly converted by the word? -that wherever these healing leaves are borne, wherever this precious seed is scattered, broad-cast upon the world, man's moral malady is not arrested, and a harvest of happiness to the creature, and of glory to God, springs not forth. Let those who insist upon no other extraneous and superior operation of the Holy Spirit, in the spiritual creation of the soul, than exists in the mere letter of the word, reply.
But the truth itself shall testify. See how it disclaims all such glory, ascribing it to Him to whom it of right and alone belongs- God the Holy Spirit. "Our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit." Here, evidently, are the word and the Spirit, the instrument and the Agent, co-operating together. The apostle, in another place, speaks of the truth, as the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Of what real service can the sword be, if not used? Its surface may be polished, and its edge may be keen, yet if there is no powerful arm to wield it, it can do no execution- none feel, none fear it. But it is the "sword of the Spirit," -He employs it then it is that the "word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword," -then it separates, then it wounds, then it slays.
"The word declares Christ, and the Spirit excites the heart to accept Him. The word shows His excellency, and the Spirit stirs up strong cries after Him. The word declares the promises, and the Spirit helps us to plead them. The word administers reasons against our reasonings, and the Spirit applies them. The word shows the way, the Spirit enables us to walk in it. The word is the seed of the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Quickener of the word. The word is the graft, and the Spirit is the Engrafter. The word is the pool of water, and the Spirit stirs it to make it healing." (Charnock)
In the clear and decided testimony which He bears to the Godhead of the Redeemer, the Spirit especially glorifies Him. We have seen in the preceding pages, that the great glory of our Emmanuel is His essential glory. When our faith can firmly grasp the Deity of our adorable Lord- and on this precious doctrine may it never waver!- there is a corresponding confidence and repose of the mind in each particular of His sacrificial work. Then it is we talk of Him as a Mediator, and love to view Him as the great Sin-bearer of His people. In vain do we admire His righteousness, or extol His death, if we look not upon Him in the glory which belongs to Him as essentially God. From this truth, as from a fountain of light, beams forth the glory which sheds its soft halo around His atoning work. Oh, when, in the near view of death, memory summons back the past, and sin in battle-array passes before the eye, and we think of the Lord God, the Holy One, into whose awful presence we are about to enter, how will every other support but this sink beneath us! And as the Holy Spirit then glorifies Christ in His essential glory, testifying that the blood and righteousness- the soul's great trust- are from the incarnate God, we shall rise superior to fear, smile at death, and pass in peace and triumph to glory. Yes, reader, we shall be satisfied with nothing short of absolute Deity when we come to die. And in proportion as you find this great truth the substance of your life, you will experience it the support of your death. Thus does the Spirit glorify Christ in His Godhead.
But especially in the experience of all His saints, does the Holy Spirit magnify Christ. "He shall glorify me, for He shall take of the things of mine, and show them unto you." We would not have you forget, that the first step which the Spirit takes in glorifying Christ in the creature, is to lay that creature low in the dust. He uncrowns, and humbles the pride of man, before He glorifies Jesus in the soul's experience. Oh, what a mighty work is this- what a great preparation for the entrance of Christ's glory in the soul! A preparation performed, not by the creature, but by the Spirit in the creature. And in what does the Spirit's preparation consist? Not in bettering the condition, but in exposing the depravity of our fallen nature. Not in concealing, but in uncovering the leprosy within. He goes before the Lord, to prepare His way, by discovering to the soul its extreme emptiness, poverty, and vileness. He creates a felt-necessity for Christ's entrance. He brings the soul into such a position, that none but Christ can meet its case. He inflicts a wound, which Christ alone can heal: He awakens grief, which Christ only can assuage: He creates a void, which Christ only can fill. Oh, what is the spectacle which fills God with delight, and heaven with gladness? Not the palace, rising in stately grandeur; not the monarch, ascending his throne in imposing royalty; not the cathedral, with its long-drawn aisle, and fretted roof, and pealing music, and burning incense, and fluttering robes. Nor is it the splendid but empty 'form of godliness,' which distinguishes the religion of the many. All is not gold. Many a man has been applauded for his benevolence, and the Lord has said, "I saw no benevolence in it!" And many a man has been extolled for his prayers, and the Lord has said, "I heard no prayer!" What then? It is a poor sinner laid low before the cross, uncrowning himself, and crowning Jesus. And as Jehovah looks down upon the spectacle- despised by man, honored by God, for "to this man will I look, who is of a humble and a contrite spirit," -He seems to say, "I see a broken heart; I see a holy trembling at my word; I see one smiting on his breast, I hear a cry- oh, it is the voice of my Spirit- 'God be merciful to me a Sinner!' I behold my own image reflected in that lowly, contrite soul."
Now the Spirit proceeds to glorify Christ, by revealing what Christ is to such an emptied, lowly, penitent soul. And this He does, by unfolding the great truth of the Bible- that Jesus died for sinners. Not for the righteous, not for the worthy, but for sinners, as sinners; for the unrighteous, for the unworthy, for the guilty, for the lost. Precious moment, when the Eternal Spirit, the great Glorifier of Jesus, brings this truth with power to the heart! "I had believed," exclaims the transported soul, "that Jesus died only for those who were worthy of so rich a sacrifice, of such immense love. I thought to bring some price of merit in my hands, some self-preparation, some previous fitness, something to render my case worthy of His notice, and to propitiate His kind regard. But now I see His salvation is for the vile, the poor, the penniless. I read, that 'when we were without strength, Christ died for the ungodly,' that 'while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,'- that 'when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son'- that 'it is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,'- that it is 'without money and without price,'- that it is 'by grace we are saved,'- and that it is 'of faith, that it might be by grace."' This good news, these joyful tidings, this glorious message of free mercy for the vilest of the vile, believed, received, welcomed, in a moment the clouds all vanish, the fogs all disappear, the face of God beams in mild and softened luster, and amid light and joy, gladness and praise, the jubilee of the soul is ushered in. Oh, what glory now encircles the Redeemer! That soul venturing upon Him with but the faith of reliance, traveling to Him in all weakness, and in the face of all opposition, brings more glory to His name than all the hallelujahs of the heavenly minstrelsy ever brought.
Having conducted the soul to a sweet rest in Christ, the Spirit carries on His work, by keeping that soul perpetually within the influence of Christ's grace. The planets revolving around the sun, each moment liable to wander from their orbit, yet kept by the power of the sun's attraction, illustrates the position of every true believer. The Lord is the sun- in His orbit of light and glory every believer moves. Nor is there a moment in which there is not a tendency in that believer to start off, like a shooting star, or a wandering comet. The apostle has his eye upon this truth, when he thus sounds the note of tender warning- "Take heed, brethren; lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." And observe to what cause he traces all departure from God- unbelief. This is the sin which, in another place, he exhorts the Christian to 'lay aside,' as "the sin which does so easily beset us." What is the besetting sin of every child of God? Let any believer testify. Ask him to point to his most subtle, constant, powerful, and dangerous foe. Ask him what has the most easy access to his mind; what most entangles his feet, and so impedes him in the race that is set before him; what has most easily and frequently vanquished him; what has brought most distress to his soul, and dishonor to God- and he will unhesitatingly reply, "my evil heart of unbelief." He may have constitutional infirmities, and be assailed by peculiar temptations, and may yield to 'presumptuous sins,' and these, in secret and close transaction with God, may cause him the deepest bitterness and humiliation of soul. But the sin which does so easily and so perpetually beset him, is the sin of unbelief, the fruitful cause of all other sin. For as faith is the parent of all holiness, so is unbelief the parent of all unholiness. "It is always present with us," as Owen says, speaking of the restless workings of this evil heart of unbelief, "and so never lacking with any occasion. It stands in need of no help nor furtherance from any outward advantages to tempt our minds. Dwelling in us, abiding with us, cleaving unto us, it is always ready to clog, to hinder, and to disturb us. Does any difficulty or danger appear in the way? It is at hand to cry, 'Spare yourself,' working by fear. Is any sinful compliance proposed unto us? It is ready to argue for its embracement, working by carnal wisdom. Does the weariness of the flesh decline perseverance in necessary duties? It needs not arguments to promote its inclination, working by the dispositions of remaining enmity and vanity. Does the whole matter and cause of our profession come into question, as in a time of severe persecution? It is ready to set all its engines on work for our ruin- fear of danger, love of things present, hope of recovery, reserves for a better season, the example of others esteemed good and wise, shall all be put into the hands of unbelief, to be managed against faith, patience, constancy, and perseverance. It has this advantage, because it has a remaining interest in all the faculties of our souls. It is not in us as a disease that attempts and weakens one single part of the body, but is an evil habit that infects and weakens the whole. Hence it has a readiness to oppose all the actings of grace in every faculty of the soul. The flesh always, and in all things, lusts against the soul."
This being the power of repulsion, so innate and so strong in the heart of a child of God, by what counteracting power is it opposed? By what other and mightier influence is the soul so kept within its Divine orbit, that it becomes not as a "wandering star, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever?" By what but the Sun's perpetual and never-failing attraction? Jesus, by the ceaseless energies of His grace, upholds, restrains, and restores the believer. Oh, the mighty power of the Lord continually exerted on behalf of His people! See, how He wins them by His attraction- "Draw us, and we will run after You!" See, how He upholds them by His power- "I have prayed for you that your faith fail not." See, how He checks them by His grace- "I kept you from sinning against me." See, how He restores them by His love- "And Jesus turned and looked upon Peter, and he went out and wept bitterly." Oh, wonderful patience, that bears with all our departures! Oh, surpassing love, that endures all our imperfections! Oh, powerful grace, that heals all our backslidings! Less than this never could meet our case. We need deity from first to last in our salvation. We need the power that never faints! the love that never changes! the patience that never wearies! the tenderness that never fails! the sympathy that never flags! We need Jesus in all that He is. We need the Sun that draws back the roving star. We need the Shepherd that goes after the stray sheep. We need the Fountain that perpetually cleanses from all sin. We need the righteousness that constantly imparts perfect peace. Oh, how does the Spirit glorify Jesus, as He thus unfolds Him in the experience of the believer! -and this He does by keeping the soul each moment within the influence of His grace.
"He shall take of the things of mine, and shall show them unto you." The Spirit is the Great Conveyancer of Christ to the soul. Placing Himself between the Fountain and the believer, He purposes to convey all blessing, to supply all need, by taking the things of Christ's mediatorial fulness, bringing them into our blessed and holy experience. Having gone before to prepare the soul for the blessing, by discovering its poverty of state, and creating its poverty of spirit, He now takes of the atoning blood, and applies it to the conscience; and the justifying righteousness, and wraps it around the soul; and the sanctifying grace, and conducts it into the heart. In a word, He reveals Jesus to the mind, testifies of Christ to the soul: how Divine He is, therefore able to save; how loving He is, therefore as willing as He is able; how gracious He is, therefore stooping to our lowest circumstance; how tender He is, therefore trampling not upon our weak faith, nor despising our little grace; how sympathizing He is, therefore turning not away His ear, and withdrawing not His heart from our tale of sorrow or our burden of grief. Oh, what a glorifier of Christ is the Divine Spirit! All that we truly know of Jesus, all that we have inwardly experienced of His grace, has been from His teaching and conveyance. He has conducted us to the Fountain- He has led us to the robing-chamber of the King- He has anointed us with the 'oil of gladness,'- He has caused our "garments to smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces," -He has opened the treasury, taking of the precious, glorious things of the precious, glorious Christ, spreading them out in all their vastness, suitableness, and freeness, before our longing eye. How often, when the soul has hungered, He has broken up to us the bread that came down from heaven! when it has thirsted, He has smitten the Rock, and satiated us with its life-giving stream! How often, when guilt has distressed us, He has sprinkled anew the peace-speaking blood; and when sorrow has oppressed, and difficulties have embarrassed, and dependences have failed, and resources have become exhausted, and creatures most deeply loved have most deeply wounded us, He, the tender, loving Comforter, He, the blessed Teacher, He, the great Glorifier of Jesus, has given tous some new, and appropriate, and precious view of our Emmanuel; and in a moment the storm has passed, the waves have stilled, and peace, serenity, and joy, have shed their luster on the soul. One glimpse of Jesus in deep tribulation, one glance in heart-rending bereavement, one discovery of His countenance when all is dark, and dreary, and desolate, one surprisal of His love when the heart sinks into loneliness, one touch of His cross when it is depressed, and bowed, and broken by sin; oh, it is as though heaven had expanded its gates, and we had passed within, where neither tribulation, nor bereavement, nor darkness, nor loneliness, nor sin, is known any more forever!
In placing before the renewed mind the Lord Jesus, as the model by which it is to be molded and fashioned in all godliness, the Spirit glorifies Him. Every soul re-cast into this model, every mind conformed to this pattern, and every life reflecting this image, is an exalting and a glorifying of the Son of God. Now there is no single practical truth in the word of God, on which the Spirit is more emphatic, than the example which Christ has set for the imitation of His followers. The Church needed a perfect pattern, a flawless model. It needed an impersonation, a living embodiment, of those precepts of the Gospel so strictly enjoined upon every believer. To whom should it look? To the holiest of mere men? Hear what one says who yearned to be a pattern of all that was noble and magnanimous in the Christian character, and whom some would have claimed as their master: "Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ," "only as I follow Christ, only as I am conformed to Him as my copy, my pattern, my example." But God has graciously set before us our true model. "Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." And what says Christ Himself? "My sheep follow me." Now, in laying stress upon this great practical truth, we concede that much heavenly wisdom and caution are here required. We allow that there are points in which we cannot, and are not required literally and strictly to follow Christ. We cannot lay claim to His infallibility. He who sets himself up as infallible in his judgment, spotlessly pure in his heart, and perfect in his attainments in holiness, deceives his own soul. Jesus did many things, too, as our surety, which we cannot do. We cannot drink of the cup of Divine trembling which He drank; nor can we be baptized with the baptism of blood with which He was baptized. He did many things as a Jew- was circumcised, kept the passover, etc., which things are not obligatory upon us. And yet, in all that is essential to our sanctification, to our holy, obedient, God-glorifying walk, He has "left us an example, that we should follow His steps." In His lowly spirit, meek, humble deportment, and patient endurance of suffering: "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." In the freeness of His love, His pure benevolence, the unselfishness of His religion: "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others; let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." "We then that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. For even Christ pleased not Himself." Look not every man on his own circle, his own family, his own gifts, his own interests, comfort, and happiness; upon his own church, his own community, his own minister. Let him not look upon these exclusively. Let him not prefer his own advantage to the public good. Let him not be self-willed in matters involving the peace and comfort of others. Let him not form favorite theories, or individual opinions, to the hazard of a church's prosperity, or of a family's happiness. Let him yield, sacrifice, and give place, rather than carry a point to the detriment of others. Let him with a generous, magnanimous, disinterested spirit, in all things imitate Jesus, who "pleased not Himself." Let him seek the good of others, honoring their gifts, respecting their opinions, nobly yielding when they correct and overrule his own. Let him promote the peace of the Church, consult the honor of Christ, and seek the glory of God, above and beyond all private and selfish ends. Oh, this is to be conformed to the image of God's dear Son, to which high calling we are predestinated! But as the preceding pages have frequently alluded to the example of Christ, on this point we need not further enlarge; only adding, that in any feature of resemblance which the Holy Spirit brings out in the holy life of a follower of the Lamb, Christ is thereby glorified before men and angels. "These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He goes."
The Spirit glorifies Christ in the death of the believer. In that last, closing, trying moment, when life is brought to a fine point, and on that point is suspended an eternal world of glory, Jesus stands by the departing soul. Heart and flesh are failing- the world fades upon the eye- reason wanders- the hand returns not affection's last grasp- the cheek feels not the scalding tear of grief that falls upon it- external objects, once so fond and pleasing, affect no more; but Jesus is there, walking through the dark valley, side by side with the receding spirit. Yes, He is bearing it up in His arms, and is carrying it over the flood gently and safely in His bosom. How many saints in dying have been privileged, with all the strength of their powers, to testify, "Christ is with me in the valley!" The Eternal Spirit in this awful moment has applied afresh the atoning blood- He has wrapped around the spotless righteousness- He has fed with the hidden manna- He has spoken the comforting promise- in a word, He has testified of Jesus. Oh what anticipations of heaven, what transporting joys, what untold glory, what visions of God, have now burst upon the soul! How one has longed to die with them! "Death is not terrible," said Halyburton, when dying in an ecstasy; "it is unstinged, the curse of the fiery law is done away: I bless His name, I have found Him; I am taken up in blessing Him; I am dying, rejoicing in the Lord; I long to be in the promised land! I wait for Your salvation; how long? Come, sweet Lord Jesus, take me by the hand. What means He to stay so long? I am like to faint for delay; I could not believe that I could have borne, and borne cheerfully, this rod so long. This is a miracle, pain without pain; and this is not a fancy of a man disordered in his brain, but of one lying in full composure.
Oh, blessed that ever I was born! Oh, if I were where He is! and yet for all this, God's withdrawing from me would make me weak as water. I am wonderfully helped, beyond the power of nature; though my body be sufficiently afflicted, yet my spirit is untouched. In the Mediator, Christ Jesus, there is all the fulness of the Godhead, and it will never run out. When I fall so low that I am not able to speak, I'll show you a sign of triumph when I am near glory, if I be able." This he did by elevating his hands, and clapping them together when speechless, and just departing. Janeway declared in his last sickness: "I am through mercy quite above the fears of death, and am going unto Him whom I love above life. Oh that I could let you know what I now feel! Oh that I could show you what I see! Oh that I could now express the thousandth part of that sweetness which I now find in Christ! You little think what a Christ is worth upon a deathbed. Oh, the glory, the unspeakable glory that I behold! My heart is full, my heart is full! Christ smiles- would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my blessed Savior are open to embrace me, the angels stand ready to carry my soul into His bosom! You would not have the heart to detain me, if you could but see what I see!" Dr Goodwin said, "I am going to the three People with whom I have held communion: they have taken me, I did not take them. I shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye; all my corruptions I shall be rid of in a moment!" Then alluding to the eleventh of the Hebrews, he said, "All these died in faith. I could not have imagined I should ever have had such a measure of faith in this hour; no, I could never have imagined it; my love abides in strength. Is Christ divided? No, I have the whole of His righteousness; Christ cannot love me better than He does; I think I cannot love Christ better than I do; I am swallowed up in God: soon I shall be forever with the Lord!" John Knox thus spoke in dying: "That day is now at hand, which I have so often and intensely longed for, in which I shall be dissolved, and be with Christ. O my friends, wait on the Lord, and death will not be terrible! I have a certain persuasion in my own breast, that Satan shall not be permitted to return, or molest me any more in my passage to glory; but that I shall soon, without any pain of body or agony of mind, sweetly and peacefully exchange this wretched life for that which is through Christ Jesus." Rutherford said, "I shall shine! I shall see Him as He is, and all the fair company with Him, and shall have my large share. I have gotten the victory; Christ is holding forth His arms to embrace me: I have had my fears and faintings, but as sure as ever He spoke to me in His word, His Spirit witnessed to my heart, saying, 'Fear not."' A few moments before breathing his last, he exclaimed, "Now I feel, I believe, I enjoy, I rejoice, I feed on manna, I have angels' food; my eyes shall see my Redeemer: I know that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth!" and then expired, saying, "Glory, glory dwells in Emmanuel's land!" Mr. Holland, overwhelmed with a vision of glory on his death-bed, asked whether the candles had been lighted: he was told it was the sunshine. "Sunshine!" said he, "no, it is my Savior's shine. Oh! tell at my funeral God deals favorably with man; whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knows; but I see things unutterable;" and in this rapture he fell asleep. And how shall we describe the last moments of the seraphic Payson? To go and stand by his dying-bed seems more like a visit to the land of Beulah than to the place where the 'king of terrors' was waging his last conflict. It is to stand 'quite on the verge of heaven.' Listen to the dying saint: "The celestial city is full in my view. Its glories beam upon me, its breezes fan me, its odors are wafted to me, its sounds strike upon my ears, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing separates me from it but the river of death, which now appears but an insignificant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission. The Sun of Righteousness has been drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approached, and now He fills the whole hemisphere, pouring forth a flood of glory in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun, exulting, yet almost trembling, while I gaze on this excessive brightness, and wondering, with unutterable wonder, why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm. Oh! if ministers only saw the inconceivable glory that is before them, and the preciousness of Christ, they would not be able to refrain from going about, leaping and clapping their hands for joy, and exclaiming, 'I'm a minister of Christ! I'm a minister of Christ!'
I can find no words to express my happiness. I seem to be swimming in a river of pleasure, which is carrying me on to the great Fountain. I find no satisfaction in looking at anything I have done; I need to leave all this behind- it is nothing- and fly to Christ, to be clothed in His righteousness. I have done nothing myself. I have not fought, but Christ has fought for me; I have not run, but Christ has carried me; I have not worked, but Christ has wrought in me- Christ has done all! It seems as if the promise, 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,' were already fulfilled to me, as it respects tears of sorrow. I have no tears to shed now, but those of love, and joy, and thankfulness. Peace! peace! Victory! victory!" Thus, to life's closing scene, the Spirit glorifies Jesus in the experience of the believer. And thus will He take of Christ's and show them unto you, Christian reader, in the final hour. You shall not lack your Christ when you most need Him. He who has been with you through all your earthly pilgrimage, will be with you in its last step. The Shepherd who has guided you through the wilderness will not leave you when just emerging from it into the promised land. The Pilot who has conducted you across the stormy main, will not resign the government just as the vessel enters the haven of rest. The Captain who has conquered for, and conquered in you, will not leave you when on the eve of the final conflict, and the certain victory. Oh no! Jesus will be with you to the last. Do not be painfully anxious about your dying hour. Let all your solicitude be how you may best glorify Him in your life- He will glorify Himself in your death. All grace, all strength, all glory is laid up for you against that moment. And when it comes, and not until then, will Jesus unlock the treasury, and bring it forth. But oh, to live to Him! To be able to say, "To me to live is Christ!" "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death." Strive for this. Whatever opposes it, take it to His grace, lay it beneath, yes, fasten it to His cross. Oh! let Christ be everything to you in life, then will He be everything to you in death.
Does the ear of some dear departing saint of God lend
itself to the recital of these closing words? Beloved of the Lord, beloved
in the Lord, what a blessed opportunity have you now of leaning the entire
weight of your soul, with all its sins and sorrows, upon the finished work
of Jesus, your Almighty Savior, your Goel, your Redeemer! The great debt is
cancelled. Justice exacts not a second payment, the first from your Surety,
the second from you. No! justice itself is on your side; every perfection of
God is a wall of fire round about you. You stand complete in the
righteousness of the incarnate God. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Father's
own Son, cleanses you from all sin. Many and aggravated you now see to have
been your flaws, your derelictions, your departures, your backslidings, your
stumblings; sin appears now as it never did before; the sense of your utter
unworthiness presses you to the earth. Well, who is on the eager watch for
the first kindlings of godly sorrow in the heart of the prodigal? Who
welcomes his return with joy, with music, with honors? Whose heart has not
ceased to love, whose eye has not ceased to follow, amid all the waywardness
and wandering of that child? Oh, it is the Father! "When he was yet a great
way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his
neck, and kissed him." Behold your God, your covenant God and Father in
Christ Jesus! This reconciled Father is yours. Throw yourself into His arms,
and He will fall on your neck, and will seal upon your heart afresh the
sense of His free forgiveness and His pardoning love. Heaven is before you.
Soon you will be freed, entirely and forever freed, from all the remains of
sin. Soon the last sigh will heave your breast, and the last tear will fall
from your eye, and the last pang will convulse your body. Soon, oh how soon,
will you "see the King in His beauty," the Jesus who loved you, died for
you, ransomed you, and loves you still! Soon you will fall at His feet, and
be raised in His arms, and be hushed to rest in His bosom. Soon you will
mingle, a pure and happy spirit, with patriarchs and prophets, apostles and
martyrs, and with all who sleep in Jesus, who have gone but a little before
you. See how they line the shores on the other side, and wait to welcome you
over! See how they beckon you away! Above all, sweetest and most glorious of
all, behold Jesus standing at the right hand of God, prepared to receive you
to Himself! Then, may you not sing–
"What's this that steals, that steals away my breath?
Is it death? Is it death?
That soon will quench, will quench this vital flame?
Is it death? Is it death?
If this be death, I soon shall be
From all my sins and sorrows free,
I shall the King of glory see!
All is well, all is well!
Weep not, my friends, dear friends, weep not for me,
All is well, all is well!
For I am pardoned, pardoned, I am free;
All is well, all is well!
There's not a cloud that does arise
To hide my Jesus from my eyes;
I soon shall mount the upper skies!
All is well, all is well!
"Tune, tune your harps, your harps, you saints in glory,
All is well, all is well!
I will rehearse the pleasing story,
All is well, all is well!
Bright angels are from glory come!
They're round my bed, they're in my room;
They wait to waft my spirit home!
All is well, all is well!
"Hark! hark! my Lord, my Lord and Master calls me!
All is well, all is well!
I soon shall see His face in glory!
All is well, all is well!
Farewell, loved friends, adieu, adieu,
I can no longer stay with you!
My glittering crown appears in view!
All is well, all is well!
"Hail, hail, all hail, all hail, you blood-washed throng,
Saved by grace, saved by grace
I soon shall join, shall join your rapturous song,
Saved by grace, saved by grace!
All, all is peace and joy divine,
And heaven and glory now are mine!
Oh, hallelujah to the Lamb,
All is well, all is well!"
With this song of joy may you wade the swellings of Jordan, until, landing on the other side, you drop it, to join the triumphant hymn– "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable Gift"