|The Wind of the Holy Ghost Blowing upon the Dry Bones in the Valley of Vision
by Ebenezer Erskine
[Preached in the Tolbooth-Church, Edinburgh, upon a fast-day before the
sacrament of our Lord's supper, March 15, 1715.
From "The Whole Works of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine: Consisting of Sermons and
Discourses. To which is Added, an enlarged memoir of the Author, by the Rev. D.
Fraser," Volume 1 (of 3). Philadelphia: Wm. S. & A. Young, 1836. Pages 81 to
Come from the four winds, O breath; and breathe upon these slain, that they may
live. Ezekiel 37:9.
In the beginning of this chapter, the Lord, in a vision, brings the prophet
Ezekiel into a valley full of dead men's bones, quite dried and withered, and
asks him the question, if he thought it possible for these dry bones to live?
Thereby intimating, that although it was a thing impossible with men, yet it was
easily effected by the almighty power of God. And, to convince him of it, he
commands the prophet to speak to the dry bones, and to tell them, in his name,
that he would make the breath of life to enter into them; which accordingly is
done; for the prophet having in the name of the Lord, called upon the four winds
to breathe upon the dry bones, immediately life enters into them, and they come
together bone to his bone, and they lived, and "stood up upon their feet, and
became an exceeding great army." by which vision we have a lively representation
of a threefold resurrection, as a late commentator (Mr. Henry) very well
observes. 1. Of the resurrection of the body at the last day, and general
resurrection, when God will command the earth to give up its dead, and the sea
to give up its dead; and when, by the ministry of angels, the dust and bones of
the saints shall be gathered from the four winds of heaven, to which they have
been scattered. Or, 2. We have in this vision a lively representation of the
resurrection of the soul from the grave of sin; which is effected by preaching
or prophesying, as the instrumental, and by the powerful influence of the Spirit
of the Lord, as the principal efficient cause of it; and the wind here spoken of
is plainly said to be understood of the Spirit, (ver. 14:) "I will put my Spirit
in you, and ye shall live." Or, 3. We have, by this vision, a representation of
the resurrection of the church of God, from the grave of her bondage and
captivity in Babylon, under which they were at present detained. And this indeed
is the primary and immediate scope of the vision, as is plain from the
explication that follows it, ver. 11-14. However, seeing the deliverance of the
children of Israel out of their Babylonish captivity, was typical of our
spiritual redemption purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, and in a
day of power applied by the mighty and powerful operation of the Holy Spirit of
God; and seeing it is this redemption with which we under the gospel are
principally concerned, therefore I shall handle the words that I have read under
this spiritual sense and meaning.
And in them briefly we have, 1. A dismal case supposed, and that is, spiritual
deadness. The people of God were not only in bondage under their enemies, but
likewise their souls were at this time in a languishing condition. But of this
2. We have a blessed remedy here expressed, and that is the breathings of the
Spirit of the Lord, the influences of the Holy Ghost: Come from the four winds,
O breath, &c. Now, these influences of the Holy Ghost are here described,
1st, From their nature, held out under the notion and metaphor of wind; Come
from the four winds, O breath. There are three elements by which the operations
of the Spirit are held out to us in scripture. Sometimes they are compared to
fire: Matt. 3:11: "He shall baptize you (speaking of Christ) with the Holy
Ghost, and with fire." Sometimes they are compared to water: Isa. 44:3: "I will
pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour
my Spirit upon thy seed," &c. Sometimes the influences of the Spirit are held
forth under the metaphor of wind, as in Cant. 4:16: "Awake, O north wind; and
come, thou south; blow upon my garden." So here, by the wind, or breath here
spoken of, we are principally to understand the Spirit: it is plainly declared
to be the Spirit of God in the 14th verse of this chapter. I cannot stand to
show you the grounds of this metaphor. Wind, you know, is of a cleansing,
cooling, fructifying nature and virtue; it acts freely and irresistibly. It is
not in the power of man to resist or oppose the blowings of the wind. So the
influences of the Spirit cleanse and purify the heart; they allay the storms of
conscience, "make the bones which were broken to rejoice?" They make the soul to
grow as the lily, and to cast forth its roots like Lebanon;" they render the
soul fruitful "like the garden of God?" and the Spirit acts with a sovereign
freedom, and irresistible efficacy, as you may hear afterwards. But,
2dly, These influences of the Holy Ghost, are described, from their variety,
four winds: Come from the four winds, O breath; importing the manifold
influences and operations of this one and eternal Spirit. Hence we read of the
"north and south wind," Cant. 4:16; and of "the seven spirits that are before
the throne of God," Rev. 4:5.
3dly, These influences are described from their acting or operation, which is
here called a breathing: Breathe upon these slain. By the acting of this
almighty wind, our natural life was produced and formed, Gen. 2:7. We are there
told, that after God had "formed man of the dust of the ground, he breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and he became a living soul." Hence is that of
Elihu, Job 33:4: "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty
hath given me life." And it is by the influences of the same almighty breath,
that our souls are "quickened, when dead in trespasses and sins," and our
spiritual life is formed within us. But then,
4thly, These influences are described from the end and effect of their
operation: Breathe upon these slain, that they may live; that is, that the dry
bones may become living souls, that out of these stones children may be raised
up to Abraham.
Now, from these words, thus briefly explained, I only offer you this one
DOCT. "That as the generality of a church and people in covenant with God, may
be in a very dead and languishing condition as to their souls; so the breathings
and influences of the Holy Spirit of God are absolutely necessary for their
revival. This is the sum of what I intend from these words, Come from the four
winds, O breath; and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
In discoursing upon this doctrine, I shall,
I. Speak a little upon this deadness which is incident to a people externally
in covenant with God.
II. Upon the influences or breathings of the wind of the Holy Ghost, which are
so absolutely necessary in order to their revival.
III. Touch at that life which is effected by these breathings.
IV. I shall apply.
I. I say, I would speak a little on this deadness which is incident to a people
externally in covenant with God. And here I shall only, 1. Give you some of its
kinds. 2. Some of the causes of it. 3. Some of the symptoms of it.
1. The first thing is to give you some kinds of deadness. Know, then, in
general, that there is a two-fold death; one is proper and natural, the other is
improper and metaphorical.
(1.) Death, properly so called, is a thing so well known, that it is needless
for me to tell you what it is. There is none of us all but we shall know it
experimentally within a little; for "it is appointed for every man once to die."
The grave is a house appointed for all living; and therefore, with Job, we may
"say to corruption, Thou art our father; and to the worm, Thou art our mother
and sister." But this is not the death I now speak of; and therefore,
(2.) There is a death which is improper or metaphorical; which is nothing else
but a disease or distemper of the soul, by which it is rendered unmeet and
incapable for holy and spiritual exercises. And this, again, is two-fold; either
total or partial.
1st, There is a total death incident to the wicked and ungodly, who are stark
dead, and have nothing of spiritual life in them at all. Hence, (Eph. 2:1,) men
in a state of nature are said to be "dead in trespasses and sins;" that is,
under the total reigning power of sin, "in the gall of bitterness, and under the
bond of iniquity;" without God, without Christ, and therefore without hope.
2d1y, There is a partial death incident to believers, whom God has raised out of
the grave of an unrenewed state, and in whose souls he has implanted a principle
of spiritual life. And this partial death, incident to believers, consists in a
manifest decay of spiritual principles and habits, in the abating of their
wonted life and vigour, and activity in the way and work of the Lord: their
faith, their love, their hope, and other graces, are all in a fainting and
languishing condition; they lie dormant in the soul, like the life of the tree
that lies hid in its root, without fruit or blossoms, during the winter season.
Such deadness as this we find the Lord's people in scripture frequently
complaining of particularly Isa. 56:3: "The son of the stranger, that hath
joined himself to the Lord, and taken hold of his covenant," he is made to
speak, saying, "The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people:" and the
eunuch cries out, I am a dry tree, wherein there is no life or sap. It is this
kind of spiritual deadness, incident to believers, that I now principally speak
of. The leaves of his profession may in a great measure be withered; the candle
of his conversation may burn dimly, or with a very imperfect light; the flame of
his affections, his zeal, love, desire, may, like that of a great fire, be
reduced to a few coals and cinders. There may be a great intermission or
formality in the discharge of commanded duty. The mind, which once with delight
and admiration, could meditate upon God and Christ, and the covenant, and things
that are above, may come to lose its relish for these things, and to dote upon
the transitory fading vanities of a present world. The common gifts of the
Spirit, through carnal ease, and defect of employment, may be in a great measure
blasted: and, which is worst of all, the saving graces, and fruits of the
Spirit, may come to be woefully impaired as to their former degrees and actings.
But now, this partial death of believers, again, is twofold: there is a deadness
which is felt by God's people, and a deadness which is not felt; "gray hairs are
here and there upon them, sometimes, and they do not behold them." The Lord was
departed from Samson, and he wist not, Judg. 16:20. But then there is a deadness
which is felt, when God's people have a sense of their deadness, and are
lamenting it. And it is an evidence of spiritual life, or of some revival, when
the Lord's people are beginning to cry out with the church, (Psal. 85:6:) "Wilt
thou not revive us again; that thy people may rejoice in thee? Why hast thou
hardened our heart from thy fear?" Isa. 63:17. But,
2. The second thing is, to take notice of some of the causes of this spiritual
deadness. I shall only name them, because your time would not allow me to
(1.) Then, abstinence or neglect of food, you know, will soon bring the body
into a pining, languishing condition: so, if the means of grace be not
diligently improved, if we neglect, by faith, to apprehend and to improve
Christ, and to feed upon him, whose "flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is
drink indeed," the spiritual life of the soul will soon languish and wither.
Hence is that [declaration] of Christ, John 6:53: "Except ye eat the flesh of
the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
(2.) Surfeiting the soul with sensual pleasure is another great cause of
spiritual death: Hos. 4:11: "Whoredom and wine, and new wine take away the
heart:" they suck out the very life of the soul. What is the reason why many
professors of religion have lost their wonted vigour in the way of the Lord, and
are in such a languishing condition as to their soul-matters? The plain reason
of it is this, they are glutting themselves with the pleasures of sense. If
Samson do but sleep on Delilah's lap, she will betray him into the hands of the
Philistines, and cut the locks wherein his strength lies; and when he goes out
to shake himself, as at other times, he will find his strength gone away from
(3.) Inactivity and sloth in salvation and regeneration-work is another cause of
spiritual deadness. Physicians observe, that as too violent exercise, so too
much rest, or a sedentary way of living, is prejudicial to the health of the
body. This holds also in spiritual things: if we do not exercise ourselves unto
godliness, and endeavour to abound in the work of the Lord, the spiritual life
will soon languish and dwindle away. Therefore, "Let us not be slothful in
business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; and whatever our hand findeth
to do, let us do it with all our might." And beware of resting upon empty wishes
and desires in spiritual matters; for "the desire of the slothful kills him,
because his hands refuse to labour."
(4.) The contagion of ill example, of a carnal world, and irreligious relatives,
has a fatal influence this way. You know it is exceedingly dangerous for those
who have the seed of all diseases in them to frequent the company of those who
are infected with the plague or pestilence. A Joseph, if he stay long in the
Egyptian court, will learn to swear "by the life of Pharaoh." It is true,
indeed, as fire sometimes burns with the greater vehemence, and casts the
greater heat, the colder the air be; so the zeal and life of God's people is
sometimes rather quickened, by beholding the wickedness of those among whom
their lot is cast, as Paul among the Athenians. But if we shall adventure to
cast ourselves into the society of the wicked, without a special call and
warrant from Providence. It will be next to an impossibility to keep ourselves
free of the contagion: for "Can a man carry fire in his bosom, and his clothes
not be burnt? Can a man walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt? Evil
communications corrupt good manners."
(5.) Some deadly wound in the soul, not carefully noticed, may be the cause of
spiritual death. You know a man may die not only by a draught of poison, or the
like, but also by the cut of a sword. While we are in the wilderness, we live in
the very midst of our spiritual enemies: the fiery darts of Satan are flying
thick about us; he is always seeking to bruise the believer's heel, "going about
seeking to devour:" and not only so, but our own lusts also do war against the
soul, so that we cannot miss to be wounded thereby. And if the filth and guilt
of these wounds be not carefully washed away by the blood and Spirit of the Lord
Jesus Christ, they cannot miss exceedingly to impair the spiritual life and
health: therefore, David, after he had been wounded by murder and adultery, is
so earnest that God would wash and cleanse his wounds, and purge him with
hyssop, that so the joy of his salvation might be restored. But then,
(6.) A holy God has sometimes a righteous and holy hand in this spiritual death,
to which the Lord's people are liable, by withdrawing and suspending the
influences of his Spirit from them. For as the plant and the herb of the field
wither, and languish when the rain of heaven is withheld; so when the influences
of the Holy Ghost are suspended, the very sap of the soul, and its spiritual
life go away. And the Lord upholds the influences of his Spirit for many
1st, He does it sometimes in a way of awful and adorable sovereignty, to show
that he is not a debtor to any of his creatures. However, because the Spirit's
influences are seldom withdrawn in a way of sovereignty, it is our part to
search and try if conscience do not condemn us, as having a sinful and culpable
hand in it ourselves.
2dly, Sometimes he does it to humble his people, and to prevent their pride,
which makes him to "behold them afar off." If we were always under the lively
gales and influences of the Spirit, we would be ready to forget ourselves, and
in danger with Paul, of being lifted up above measure, when he was wrapt up into
the third heaven. Upon this account, some of the saints have said, that they
have got more good sometimes by their desertion, than by their enlargement.
3dly, He does it to make them prize Christ, and see their continual need of
fresh supplies "out of his fulness." He lets our cisterns run dry, that we may
come anew, and lay our empty vessels under the flowings of the blessed "fountain
of life," that "out of his fulness we may receive, and grace for grace."
4thly, He does it sometimes for the trial of his people, to see if they will
follow him "in a wilderness, in a land that is not sown," as well as when he is
feeding them with the sensible communications of his grace and Spirit; to see if
they will live on him by faith, when they cannot live by sight or sense.
5thly, Sometimes he does it for their chastisement, to correct them for their
iniquities. And this, indeed, is the most ordinary cause why the Spirit of the
Lord is suspended and withdrawn.
I have not time to enumerate many of these sins which provoke the Lord to
withdraw his Spirit; I shall only mention two or three.
(1.) Not hearkening to the motions of his Spirit, is one great reason why the
Lord withdraws his Spirit; as you see in the spouse, Cant. 5: There Christ
comes, and moves, and calls for entrance: the spouse does not hearken to the
motion: "I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet,
how shall I defile them?" Upon which he immediately withdraws and leaves her, as
you may read at your own leisure.
(2.) Lukewarmness and formality in the discharge of duty is another cause of it,
as we see in the church Laodicea; it made him to spew that church out of his
mouth. And then
(3.) Prostituting the gifts and graces of the Spirit to carnal, selfish, and
base ends, to procure a name, or make a show in the world. This is another
reason of it.
(4.) Sinning against light. Trampling upon the belly of conscience, as David no
doubt did in the matter of Uriah and Bathsheba; whereby he provoked the Lord so
far to leave him, that he cries out, (Psal. 51:11) "Cast me not out of thy
sight; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me."
(5.) Barrenness and unfruitfulness under the means of grace: Isa. 5:the clouds
are commanded to give no rain upon the barren vineyard. And then,
(6.) And lastly, Their not listening carefully to the voice of God in ordinances
and providences: this is another cause of it; Psal. 81:11, 12: "My people would
not hearken to my voice; therefore, I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust:
and they walked in their own counsels." And thus you have some of the causes of
this spiritual deadness. I come to
3. The third thing, which was to give you some of the symptoms of it: and would
to God they were not too visible, rife, and common in the day, and upon the
generation in which we live. I shall name a few of them to you.
(1.) Want of appetite after the bread and water of life is a symptom of
spiritual death. You know that man cannot be in a healthful condition that
loathes his food, or has lost his appetite after it. Alas! Is not the manna of
heaven, that God is raining about our tent-doors, generally loathed? The great
truths of God, which some of the saints have found to be "sweeter than honey,
from the honey-comb," have not that savour and relish with us that they ought to
have. Are not sabbaths, sacraments, sermons, fast-days, and feast-days, burdens
to many among us; so that if they would but speak out the language of their
hearts, they would he ready to join issue with these, Mal. 1:13: "What a
weariness is this?" Whereas, the soul that is in a lively condition is ready to
say of the word, "It is better to me than thousands of gold and silver; I esteem
it more than my necessary food:" and of ordinances, "I love the habitation of
thy house, and the place where thy honour dwelleth;" and Psal. 84:10: "One day
in thy courts is better than a thousand."
(2.) Though a man have something of an appetite, yet if he do not grow, or look
like his food, it looks something dangerous and death-like. The thriving
Christian is a growing Christian: "They that be planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God. The righteous shall hold on his way,
and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." But, alas! is it
not quite otherwise with the most part? Many are going backward, instead of
forward; as it is said of Jerusalem; (Lam. 1:8:) "She sigheth, and turneth
backward." May we not cry out of our leanness, our leanness, notwithstanding of
all the fattening means and ordinances that we enjoy?
(3.) You know, when death takes a dealing with a person, it makes his beauty to
fade: "When with rebukes thou dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his
beauty to consume away like a moth." Pale death soon alters the ruddy
countenance. Perhaps the day has been, O believer, when the beauty of holiness
adorned every step of thy conversation; thy "light did so shine before men, that
they, seeing thy good works," could not but "glorify thy heavenly Father;" but
now, alas! the beauty of thy conversation is sullied and stained, by "lying
among the pots" of sin. This says, that spiritual death is dealing with thy
(4.) Death not only wastes the beauty, but the strength also: Eccl. 12:3: "The
keepers of the house do tremble, and the strong men do bow," upon the approaches
of the king of terrors. Now, see if your wonted strength and ability to perform
duty, or to resist temptations, be not abated. Perhaps the day has been, when
thou couldst have said with Paul, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? for,
through Christ strengthening me, I can do all things;" but now thou art ready to
faint and sit up at the very thoughts of duty. The day perhaps has been, when,
though Satan, that cunning archer, did shoot sore at thee; yet "thy bow did
abide in its strength, and the arms of thy hands were made strong by the mighty
God of Jacob;" thou wast in care to beat back the fiery darts of Satan, and to
stand thy ground against the corruptions and defections of the day and
generation: but now, like a dead fish, thou art carried down the stream. Does
not this proclaim thy soul to be under a sad decay?
(5.) Death wastes the natural heat and warmness of the body. There is a kind of
chilliness and coldness that seizes a man when death takes a dealing with him.
So it is a sign of a spiritual decay and deadness, when wonted zeal for God and
his glory, and the concerns of his church and his kingdom, is abated. Perhaps
the day has been, when, with David, the zeal of God's house did in a manner eat
you up, and you "preferred Jerusalem to your chief joy:" but now you are almost
come the length of Gallio's temper, to "care for none of these things;"
indifferent whether the work of God in the land sink or swim. Laodicea's
distemper is too prevalent among us at this day: we are "neither cold nor hot"
in the things of God; and therefore have reason to fear, lest we be spewed out
of God's mouth. The day bas been, when your spirits were lifted up, in prayer,
in hearing, in communicating; you were "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
"you could rejoice to work righteousness, and say, in some measure, with David,
"I will go unto the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy;" but now all this
holy warmth is gone in a great measure; you are become formal and careless in
the concerns of God's glory.
(6.) A dead man, you know, cannot move, but only as he is moved from without, in
regard he wants a principle of motion within. So it is a sign of spiritual
death, even in believers, when external motives and considerations have a
greater influence in the duties of religion upon them, than an internal
principle of faith and love When the believer is himself, "the love of Christ
constrains" him in every duty; this is the "one thing" be desires, "that he may
behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his temple:" but when any selfish
or external motive sets him at work, it is a sign of spiritual death. Other
things might be added; but I hasten to speak to,
II. The second thing proposed in the method, and that was, to speak a little of
these breathings and influences of the Spirit of God, which are absolutely
necessary for the revival of the Lord's people under deadness: Come from the
four winds, O breath! and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. And here
I would, 1. Clear the nature of these influences, in a word or two. 2. Speak to
the variety of these influences, four winds. 3. To the manner of their operation
upon the elect; they are said to breathe upon, the slain. 4. Speak a little to
the necessity of these breathings. 5. To the several seasons of the Spirit's
I fear your time will cut me short before I have done; but I shall run through
these particulars as quickly as possible.
1. The first thing is, to clear the nature of these breathings or influences.
And what I have to offer upon this head, you may take in these few propositions:
(1.) You would know, that the influences and gifts of the Spirit of God are of
two sorts, either common or saving. As for the common influences of the Spirit,
which are sometimes bestowed upon the wicked and reprobate world, I am not to
speak of these at this time. All I shall say about them is, to tell you, that
they are given in common to the children of men, "for edification of the
mystical body of Christ," until it arrive at "the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ," as you read, Eph. iv.: and therefore they are commonly
called by divines dona ministrantia, or ministering gifts. Although they have no
saving efficacy upon the person in whom they dwell; yet God, in his holy wisdom,
makes use of them for the good of his church in general, as we read, Eph. 4: And
another thing that I would tell you, likewise, concerning these common
influences, is, that they of an exceeding dangerous nature when they are not
accompanied with saving grace. The man that has them, is like a ship having very
large sails, and but little or no ballast at all, in the midst of the ocean; and
is therefore in danger of being split in pieces against every rock. In Matt.
7:22, we read of some who had extraordinary common gifts; they prophesied in
Christ's name, wrought miracles, and cast out devils in his name, and did many
wonderful works, and yet Christ utterly disowns them. I do not speak of these
common influences now, but of such as are saving. And therefore,
(2.) A second proposition is, that the Holy Spirit of God, considered in his
particular economy in the work of redemption, as the applier of the Redeemer's
purchase, is the author and efficient cause of all saving influences. It is he,
I say, that prepares and disposes the soul of man for the entertainment of the
things of God, which are not received nor discerned by the natural mind. It is
he that ploughs up the fallow ground of the heart, and brings in the wilderness,
and turns it into a fruitful field. It is he that garnishes the face of the soul
with the saving graces of the Spirit; these are flowers of the upper paradise,
therefore called "the fruits of the Spirit," Gal. 5:22. It is he that preserves,
cherishes, and maintains, them by renewed influences: he cherishes the smoking
flax, and at last turns it into a lamp of glory in heaven; for "he brings forth
judgment unto victory."
(3.) Again; you would know that the elect of God are the subjects recipient of
all saving influences of the Spirit of God: I say, they are peculiar only to the
elect of God, and to them only upon their conversion, when they come to be
united to Christ, as members of his mystical body. We must be ingrafted into
this true olive tree, otherwise we can never partake of his sap, and "receive
out of his fulness, grace for grace." That these influences are peculiar to the
elect of God, is plain from Tit. 1:1; where we read of "the faith of God's
(4.) These influences of the Spirit, are given for various ends to the elect of
God. The judicious Dr. Owen, in his Discourses on the Spirit, observes, that
these saving influences are given to the elect of God for regeneration, to the
regenerate for sanctification, to the sanctified for consolation, and to the
comforted Christian for further up-building. and edification; and establishment,
until they arrive at perfection in glory. But the nature of these influences
will farther appear from,
2. The second thing proposed, which was, to speak a little to the variety of
these influences of the Spirit. You see they are diversified here, while they
are called four winds: Come from the four winds, O breath. The apostle tells us,
that "there are diversities of gifts and operations, but the same Spirit," 1
Cor. 11:4. And we read, as I was telling you, of "seven Spirits that are before
the throne," Rev. 1. Here, if time would allow me to enlarge, I might tell you,
that the saving influences and breathings of the Spirit are either primary,
fundamental, and absolutely necessary to salvation; or they are accumulative,
additional, necessary only for the believer's comfort and well-being. Some of
these influences are antecedent, or preparative unto conversion; some of them
are regenerating, and others are subsequent and posterior unto regeneration. But
I shall not stand upon such subtle distinctions. You may take a few of them in
the order following:
(1.) There are the convincing influences of the Spirit: John 16:8: "When he is
come, he will convince the world of sin." This is what I conceive we are to
understand by the "north wind," (Cant. 4:16;) which is commonly boisterous,
cold, chill and nipping. The elect of God by nature lie fast asleep within the
tidal mark of God's wrath, upon the very brink of everlasting ruin, crying,
"Peace, peace," to themselves; the Spirit of the Lord comes like a stormy north
wind, blows hard upon the sinner's face, and awakens him; breaks his carnal
peace and security, brings him to himself and lets him see his danger; fills him
with remorse and terror. Hence, (Isa. 28:17,) the hail is said to "sweep down
the refuge of lies," before the sinner come to settle upon the "foundation that
God hath laid in Zion." In Acts 2:37, it is said, "they were pricked in their
heart;" and then they cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
(2.) There are the enlightening influences and breathings of the Spirit. Hence,
he is compared to eye-salve, Rev. 3:18: "Ye have received an unction from the
Holy One, whereby ye know all things," 1 John 2:20. We read, Isa. 25:7, of a
"veil and face of a covering that is spread over all nations." The wind of the
Holy Ghost must blow off this veil of ignorance and unbelief; and then the poor
sinner comes to see a new world of wonders that he never saw before; a wonderful
great God, a wonderful Redeemer, a wonderful covenant, and a wonderful holy law.
Hence, we are said to he "translated out of darkness into a marvellous light.
The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God." And, I Cor.
2:12: "By the Spirit we know the things that are freely given to us of God."
(3.) There are the renewing influences of the Spirit. We are said to be "saved
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost," Tit. 3:5.
Hence, he is called "a new Spirit." He renews the will, and "makes old things to
pass away, and all things to become new."
(4.) There are the comforting influences of the Spirit. This is the south-wind,
as it were, gentle and easy, and refreshing; and therefore he is called the
Comforter. And, indeed, his consolations are strong consolations; they put more
gladness into the heart than corn, wine, and oil in abundance; fill the soul
with a joy that is "unspeakable, and full of glory." And then,
(5.) There are the corroborating and strengthening influences of the Spirit. By
the breathings of the Spirit the feeble are made "like David, and as the angel
of God before him." It is he that "gives power to the faint, and increases
strength to them that have no might." It is by him that worm Jacob is made to
"thresh the mountains, and to beat them small, and to make the hills as chaff"
(6.) There are the drawing and enlarging influences of the Spirit: "Draw me,"
(says the spouse,) "we will run after thee." The poor believer lies many times,
as it were, wind-bound, that he is not able to move one step in the way of the
Lord: but, O! when the Spirit of the Lord comes, then come liberty and
enlargement: "I will run the way of thy coinmandments," (says David,) "when thou
hast enlarged my heart;" to wit, by the influences of thy Spirit. He is like oil
to their chariot-wheels; and when he comes, they are as the chariots of
Amminadib, or a willing people.
(7.) There are the sin-mortifying and sin-killing influences of the Spirit: "We,
through the Spirit," are said to "mortify the deeds of the body, that so we may
live." When this wind of the Holy Ghost blows upon the soul, he not only makes
the spices to revive, but he kills the weeds of sin and corruption, making them
to wither and decay; so that the poor believer, who was crying, "Wretched man,
what shall I do to be delivered from this body of death!" is made some-times to
tread upon the necks of these enemies, as a pledge of his complete victory at
last; And then,
(8.) There are the interceding influences of the Spirit: Rom. 8:26: "The Spirit
maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." He
intercedes in a physical and efficient way. He makes us to wrestle and pray;
therefore he is called "the Spirit of grace and supplications," Zech. 12:10. He
fills the believer's heart and mouth with such a heavenly rhetoric, that God is
not able to withstand it. Hence Jacob "had power with the angel, and prevailed;"
for "he wept, and made supplication unto him." And then
(9.) There are the sealing and witnessing influences of the Spirit: He
"witnesseth with our spirits, that we are the sons of God." He bears witness of
the glorious fulness and suitableness of Christ to the soul: "The Spirit shall
testify of me," John 15:26. And he is said to "seal believers to the day of
redemption;" and his seal is the earnest of glory: Eph. 1:13, 14: "Ye are sealed
by the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of the inheritance." But
these things I have not time to insist upon. So much for the second thing.
3. The third thing that I proposed here, was, to speak a little to the manner of
the acting or operation of these influences, or flow it is that this wind blows
upon the soul? I answer,
(1.) The wind of the Holy Ghost blows very freely; the Spirit acts as an
independent sovereign, John 3:8. It does not stay for the command, nor stop for
the prohibition of any creature. So the breathings of the Spirit are sovereignly
free as to the time of their donation, free as to their duration and
continuance, free as to the measure, and free as to the manner of their working.
(2.) He breathes on the soul sometimes very surprisingly: "Or ever I was aware
(says the spouse,) my soul made me like the chariots of Animinadib." Canst thou
not seal this in thy experience, believer, that sometimes, when thou hast gone
to duty in a very heartless and lifeless condition, perhaps beginning to raze
foundations, and to say with Zion, "The Lord hath forsaken, and my God hath
forrgotten," a gale from heaven has in a manner surprised thee, and set thee
upon the high places of Jacob, and made thee to cry with the spouse, "It is the
voice of my beloved! Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon
the hills? His anger endureth but for a moment: in his favour is life: weeping
may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
(3.) These breathings and influences of the Spirit are some-times very piercing
and penetrating. The cold nipping north wind, you know, goes to the very quick.
The sword of the Spirit "pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and
spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart." Wind, you know, is of a very seeking, penetrating nature;
it seeks through the closest chambers. So the Spirit, which is the candle of the
Lord, "searcheth the lower parts of the belly:" he makes a discovery of these
lusts and idols that sulk in the secret chambers of the heart.
(4.) The breathings of this wind are very powerful, strong, and efficacious. Who
can oppose the blowings of the winds? Some winds have such a mighty force with
them, that they bear down, overturn, and overthrow every thing that stands in
their way. So the Spirit of the Lord sometimes, especially at first conversion,
breaks in upon the soul like the rushing of a mighty wind, as he did upon the
apostles, breaking down the strongholds of iniquity, casting to the ground every
high thought and towering imagination of the soul, that exalts itself against
Christ, with a powerful and triumphant efficacy. He masters the darkness of the
mind, the contumacy and rebellion of the will, and the carnality of the
affections: the enmity of the heart against God, and all the spiritual
wickednesses that are in the high places of the soul, are made to fall down at
his feet, as Dagon did before the ark of the Lord.
(5.) Although he act thus powerfully and irresistibly, yet it is with an
overcoming sweetness, so as there is not the least violence offered to any of
the natural faculties of the soul: for whenever the Spirit comes with his saving
influences, he sweetly overcomes the darkness of the mind; the sinner becomes a
volunteer, and content to enlist himself a soldier under Christ's banner: Psal.
110:3: "thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." No sooner does
Christ by his Spirit say to the soul, "Follow me," but immediately they arise
and follow him. "Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God."
(6.) There is something in the breathing of this wind that is incomprehensible
by reason: John 3:8: "Thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence
it cometh, and whither it goes," says Christ: "so is every one that is born of
the Spirit." There is something in the operation of the eternal Spirit and his
influences beyond the reach, not only of natural but of sanctified reason. Who
can tell "how the bones are formed in the womb of her that is with child?" So,
far less can we tell how the Spirit forms the babe of grace in the heart; how he
preserves, maintains, and cherishes "the smoking flax," that is not quite
extinguished. We may, in this case, apply the words of the psalmist in another
case, and say, "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy
footsteps are not known;" and that of the apostle, "How unsearchable are his
judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
(7.) These influences of the Spirit, are sometimes felt before they are seen; as
you know a man will feel the wind, and hear it, when he cannot see it. So it is
with the Lord's people many times, on whom the Spirit breathes: they feel his
actings, they are sensible that he has been dealing with them; and all that they
can say about it is, with the man that was born blind, "One thing I know, that
whereas I was blind, now I see." "The kingdom of heaven comes not with
4. The fourth thing proposed was, to speak a little to the necessity of these
breathings. And here I shall show, 1. That they are necessary. 2. To what things
they are necessary.
(1.) That they are necessary, will appear,
1st, From the express declaration of Christ, John 15:5: "Without me, ye can do
nothing;" that is, without the aid and influences of my Spirit. He does not say,
Without me, ye cannot do many things, or great things; but, "Without me, ye can
2dly, It is evident from the express acknowledgment of the saints of God upon
this head: 2 Cor. 3:5: "We are not," says the apostle, "sufficient of ourselves
to think any thing as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God." It is he
that must "work all our works in us and for us."
3dly, It is plain from the earnest prayers of the saints for the breathings of
this wind: Cant. 4:16: "Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; and blow upon
my garden." Psal. 85:6: "Wilt thou not revive us again; that thy people may
rejoice in thee?" They are promised in the covenant, and therefore necessary:
Isa. 44:3: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry
ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed," &c. Ezek. 36:27: "I will put my
Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." Now, there is not a
mercy promised in the covenant that can be lacking. But,
(2.) To what are these breathings necessary? I answer, they are necessary,
1st, To the quickening of the elect of God, when they are stark dead in
trespasses and sins. Can ever the dry bones live, unless this omnipotent wind
blow upon them? It is strange, to hear some men that profess Christianity,
talking of the power of their own wills to quicken and convert themselves. They
may as well say, that a dead man may take his grave in his two arms, and lay
death by him, and walk. "No man," says Christ, "can come to me, except the
Father, which hath sent me, draw him." Oh! What a dead weight is the sinner,
that a whole Trinity must draw! For both Father and Son draws the sinner by the
breathings of the Holy Ghost.
2dly, These influences are necessary for the suitable discharge of every duty of
religion. You cannot read, you cannot hear, you can not pray or praise, you
cannot communicate to any advantage, unless the wind of the Holy Ghost blow upon
you. It is the Lord that must enlarge our steps under us, and make your feet
like hinds' feet in the ways of the Lord.
3dly, They are necessary for accomplishing our spiritual warfare against sin,
Satan, and the world. We will never be able to combat with our spiritual
enemies, if he do not help us: it is he only that must "teach our hands to war,
and our fingers to fight, so as bows of steel may be broken in pieces by us."
Without the Spirit, we will fall before every temptation; like Peter, curse and
swear, that we never knew him.
4thly, They are necessary to the exercise of grace already implanted in the
soul. As we cannot work grace in our hearts, so neither can we exercise it
without the renewed influences of the Holy Ghost, Cant. 4:16: When this wind
blows, then, and never till then, do the spices flow out. But I shall not stand
on this: the Spirit's influences are necessary to all the uses mentioned upon
the second head: for conviction, illumination, renovation, consolation,
enlargement, mortification of sin, for assurance of our adoption.
5. The fifth thing that I proposed upon this head, was, to give you some of the
seasons of these influences of the Spirit: for the wind, you know, has its
seasons and times of blowing and breathing. I shall only name a few of them to
(1.) The Spirit's reviving influences blow, very ordinarily, in a day of
conversion. This, as you were hearing, is a season when this wind breathes on
the soul, Ezek. 36:26: when God "takes away the stony heart, and gives the heart
of flesh." He puts his Spirit within them, when the soul is first espoused unto
Christ. So Jer. 2:2: "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of
thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that
was not sown."
(2.) When the soul has been deeply humbled under a sense of sin and
unworthiness. When Ephraim is brought low, and is smiting on his thigh,
acknowledging his sin and folly, then the Spirit of the Lord comes with a
reviving gale upon his spirit. "Is Ephraim," says the Lord "my dear son? is he a
pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him
still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon
him, saith the Lord."
(3.) After a dark night of desertion, when the Lord returns again, it is a time
of sweet influences. After Zion had been crying, "The Lord hath forsaken me, my
God hath forgotten me;" upon the back of it comes a sweet gale of the Spirit,
"Can a woman forget her child, that she should not have compassion on the son of
her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee."
(4.) Times of earnest prayer and wrestling; for he gives his Spirit to them that
ask it. This is agreeable to the promise, Ezek. 36:37.
(5.) Times of serious meditation are times of sweet influences of the Spirit
Psal. 63:5, 6, 8: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the
night watches, my soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my soul
followeth hard after thee."
(6.) Communion-days are sometimes days of sweet influences. Some of the Lord's
people can attest it from their experience, with the spouse; that "while the
King sat at his table, the spikenard sent forth the smell thereof;" and when
they "sat down under his shadow, they found his fruit sweet to their taste. He
brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love."
(7.) The day of death has sometimes been found to be a day of such pleasant
gales of the Spirit that they have been made to enter into the haven of glory
with the triumphant song in their mouth, saying, "Thanks be to God, which giveth
us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus David, "Although my house
be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in
all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire." Thus,
Simeon, thus Paul, &c.
III. The third thing in the text and doctrine to be spoken to, is the life that
is effected and wrought in the souls of God's elect by these influences and
breathings of the Holy Spirit. Your time will not allow me to enlarge upon this.
I shall only tell you, in a few particulars, what sort of a life it is.
(1.) It is a life of faith. The apostle calls it so, Gal. 2:20, "The life I now
live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me; and gave
himself for me." And the just is said to live by faith. The man is ever
embracing a Redeemer, and the fulness of the Godhead in him; always deriving
fresh supplies out of that full treasury and store-house.
(2.) It is a life of justification. The law pronounces a curse against every one
that "doth not continue in all things written in the book of the law to do
them." The believer gets this sentence of death cancelled: Rom. 8:1. "There is
no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." And not only so, but he has
the everlasting righteousness of Immanuel God-man imputed to him: so that with a
holy boldness he may challenge justice, and challenge the law, what they have to
say against him, as the apostle does, Rom. 8:33: "Who shall lay any thing to the
charge of God's elect?" &c.
(3.) It is a life of reconciliation with God; God and they are at friendship;
which follows naturally on their justification: Rom. 5:1: "Being justified by
faith, we have peace with God." God does not retain the least grudge in his
heart against them; and he and they walk together, because they are agreed: that
is, they have fellowship one with another, according to that, 1 John 1:3: "Truly
our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
(4.) It is a life of holiness and sanctification: for the Spirit of the Lord is
a cleansing, purifying, and renewing Spirit: he renews the soul after the image
of God; makes the heart, that was a "cage of unclean birds," a fit temple for
the Holy Ghost to dwell in; he garnishes the soul, and makes it like the King's
daughter, all glorious within. They that had lain among the pots, become "like
the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
(5.) It is a very lightsome and comfortable life: and no wonder; for his name is
The Comforter. His consolations are so strong, that they furnish the soul with
ground of joy in the blackest and cloudiest day: Hab. 3:17, 18: "Although the
fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of
the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut
off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice
in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." And the joy that he gives
is deep: "Your heart shall rejoice." And it is abiding: "Your joy shall no man
take from you." And it is such as cannot be made language of: "We rejoice with
joy unspeakable, and full of glory."
(6.) It is a life of liberty; for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
liberty." He brings us into "the glorious liberty of the sons of God." Before
the Spirit comes with his saving influences, the man is in bondage; in bondage
to sin, to Satan, to the law, and to the curse and condemnation of God: but the
Spirit of the Lord frees from all these. Christ, by his Spirit, sets the
captives of the mighty at liberty, and "delivers the prey from the terrible."
(7.) It is a hidden life: Col. 3:3: "Your life is hid with Christ in God." And
believers are called "God's hidden ones," Psal. 83:3: The spring and fountain of
this life is hid, namely, an unseen Christ; for with him is the fountain of
life. The subject of this life is hid, even the hidden man of the heart. The
actings of this life are hid, and the means of its support; he feeds upon "the
hidden manna, and the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of
God." And then the beauty and glory of this life is hid; for "the King's
daughter is all glorious within." The beauty of the hypocrite's life lies all in
the outside, painted sepulchres.
(8.) It is a heavenly life; they are made to live above the world: "Our
conversation is in heaven," says the apostle. They look on themselves as
pilgrims and strangers on the earth, and, therefore, look not so much to the
things that are seen, as to the things that are not seen. With Moses, they "have
respect unto the recompense of the reward;" their eyes are set upon the land
that is very far off, and the King in his beauty.
(9.) It is a royal life: for they are "made kings and priests unto God," Rev.
1:6: They have a royal kingdom, of which they are heirs: "I appoint unto you a
kingdom," says Christ; a royal crown, "a crown of glory which fadeth not away."
They shall have a royal throne at last, Rev. 3:21. Royal robes, princely attire,
"the garments of salvation;" a royal table provided for them, Isa. 25:6: "a
feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow,
of wines on the lees well refined;" royal guard continually attending them, the
angels of God, and the attributes of the divine nature, &c.
(10.) It is an eternal life: John 17:3: "This is life eternal, that they might
know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." The saving
knowledge of a God in Christ, what is it but the first dawnings of eternal glory
in the soul? And where he once dawns, he is ever in the ascendant until the
mid-day of glory come; for "his goings forth are prepared as the morning."
IV. The fourth thing is the use of the doctrine. And waiving other uses that
might be made of this doctrine, I shill only improve it by way of examination
and of exhortation.
The first use shall be of trial and examination. Oh try, sirs, whether or not
these saving influences of the Spirit did ever breathe upon your souls, yea, or
not. For your trial I shall only suggest these few things:
1. If these breathings have blown upon thy soul, man, woman, then he has blown
away "the veil and face of the covering" that was naturally upon your mind and
understanding. He has given you other views of spiritual and divine things, than
you can have by any natural or acquired knowledge. The Spirit of the Lord is
called "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation," Eph. 1:17: because he reveals
these things to the soul which flesh and blood is not able to receive or
understand. So then, has the Spirit testified of Christ unto you? Has he "who
commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined into your heart, to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ?"
And as a fruit and consequence of this,
2. If the wind of the Holy Ghost has blown upon thy soul, he has blown away some
of the filth of hell that did cleave to thy soul, and has transformed thee into
his own image: 2 Cor. 3:18: "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, thou
art changed into the same image. from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of
the Lord." If you have the Spirit, the "same mind will be in you, which was also
in Christ Jesus:" for "he that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit." You will
imitate and resemble him in his imitable perfections, in his holiness, meekness,
self-denial, patience. He is a holy God; and wherever he comes, he works
holiness, and makes the soul holy.
3. If this Wind has blown upon your souls, then it has driven you from your
lying refuges, and made you take sanctuary in Christ. He has driven you from the
law, and made you consent to the method of salvation through the righteousness
of the Son of God: "I through the law," (says the apostle,) "am dead to the law,
that I might live unto God." This is the design of all the Spirit's influences,
to lead sinners off from sin, off from self, off from the law, that they may
rest in Christ only.
4. If ever you felt any of the reviving gales of this wind of the Spirit, you
will long for new gales and breathings of it: and when these breathings are
suspended and withheld, your souls will be like to faint, as it were, like a man
that wants breath. You will pant for the air of the Spirit's influences, like
David, Psal. 63:1: "My soul longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no
water is;" and Psal. 84:2: "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts
of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Oh for
another gale of his Spirit in public ordinances!
5. If you have felt the breathings of this wind you will not snuff up the east
wind of sin and vanity: John 4:14: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall
give him, shall never thirst." You will not thirst immoderately after things of
time; no, no; you will see them to be but mere trash and vanity. You will
"choose that good part which shall not be taken away from you." You will "seek
those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
6. If this wind has blown upon thy soul, then you will follow the motion of this
wind: you will not run cross to this wind, but will go along with it. I mean,
you will yield yourselves to the conduct of the Spirit speaking in his word; for
"as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
But, say you, How shall I know if I be led by the Spirit of God? I answer,
1st, If you follow the Spirit, then "you will not fulfil the lusts of the
flesh," but, on the contrary, you will study to "crucify the flesh, with the
affections and lusts." You will be ready to cut off your right hand, and to
pluck out the right eye sins at the Lord's command.
2dly, Then the way wherein you walk will be a way of holiness, for he is a
Spirit of sanctification; and a way of truth; for the Spirit of the Lord is a
Spirit of truth, and he leads into all truth: a way of uprightness: Psal.
143:10: "Thy Spirit is good, lead me into the land of uprightness."
3dly, You know leading imports spontaneousness and willingness. There is a great
difference between leading and drawing; between being driven by the wind, and
following the motion of the wind. Sometimes, indeed, the wicked, a hypocrite, a
natural man, by a strong north wind of conviction, may be driven on to duty
through the force of terror. But the believer is a volunteer; he freely yields
himself to the Spirit's conduct; he rejoices to work righteousness, and to
remember God in his ways. Whenever he hears the Spirit whispering in his ears,
and saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it," presently, he complies. When the
Spirit of Lord says, "Come," he immediately echoes back again, and says,
"Behold, I come unto thee; for thou art the Lord my God." Now, try yourselves by
The second use shall be exhortation. Is it so, that the influences of the Spirit
are so necessary in order to our revival? Then be exhorted to look up to Heaven,
and cry for the breathings of the Spirit. O sirs, will you turn the words of my
text into a prayer? And say, "Come from the four winds, O breath; and breathe
upon these slain, that they may live?" I might enforce this exhortation by many
motives: I only name them.
Motive 1. Consider, that spiritual deadness is very prevalent in the day in
which we live. There is a great multitude of "dry bones" scattered up and down
our "valley of vision." There are many that carry the marks of a deadly leprosy
on their foreheads: their atheism, their profanity, irreligion, and other gross
abominations, plainly declare to the world, that they are "dead in trespasses
and sins." And, alas! May it not be for matter of lamentation, that even many of
those, who, in the judgment of charity, have "the root of the matter," the
principles of spiritual life, are yet under sad decays of the life of grace?
Alas! It is not with Scotland's ministers and professors as once it has been. I
might produce many melancholy evidences of this, if time would allow. Remember
those already mentioned, the general loathing of the word, &c.
Mot. 2. Consider the evil and danger of spiritual deadness. The evil of it will
lst, If you consider that it is a frame of spirit directly contrary to the
command of God. God commands us to "present ourselves a living sacrifice unto
him:" and, indeed, this "is our reasonable service," Rom. 12:1. Yea, it is
contrary to the very nature of God; for God is a Spirit; and they that worship
him, must worship him in spirit and in truth," 1 John 4:24.
2dly, The evil and danger of it appears farther from this; that it unfits the
soul for every duty, and mars our communion and fellowship with God. God meets
the lively Christian in the way of duty: "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, and
worketh righteousness; those that remember thee in thy ways." But, for the man
that comes to him with a Laodicean, dead, lifeless, and lukewarm frame of soul,
he will not hold communion with that man; no he "will spew him out of his
3dly, It opens a door for all other sins, and renders a man an easy prey to
every temptation. A dead man can make no manner of resistance; he is carried
down the stream without opposition. Then,
4thly, It lays a foundation for sad and terrible challenges from conscience.
David's spiritual deadness brought him to that pass, in the end, that he is made
to cry out of broken bones, &c.
Mot. 3. Consider, that as the breathings of the Spirit are necessary for every
duty, so particularly for that solemn work which hou have before your hands of
commemorating the death of the exalted Redeemer. I might here let you see, how
the influences of the Spirit are necessary for every part of your work, if time
would allow. Without the Spirit's influences of light, you can never examine
yourselves to purpose: it is "the Spirit of the Almighty that giveth
understanding" how to search out "the mystery of iniquity" in the heart, which
is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." And then, without the
Spirit you cannot mourn for sin; for it is the kindly influences of the Spirit
that thaws the heart into evangelical tears, Zech. 12:10. Without the Spirit you
cannot discern the broken body of a Redeemer; for it is the Spirit that
testifies of Christ. "I will pour the Spirit of grace upon the house of David,
and inhabitants of Jerusalem;" and then follows, "They shall look upon me whom
they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him." In a word, you cannot exercise
any grace, you cannot wrestle in prayer, you cannot have any right view of the
contrivance of redemption, you cannot "take hold of God's covenant," or improve
any promise of the covenant, without the Spirit.
Mot. 4. Consider the excellency of these influences of the Spirit.
1st, They blow from an excellent quarter and original: the Holy Ghost is the
author of them; and you know he "proceeds from the Father and the Son." So that
a whole Trinity, as it were, convey themselves with these breathings.
2dly, They are the purchase of a Redeemer's blood, and therefore excellent.
There is not the least grace, or the least gale of the Spirit, that is given to
believers, but it cost Christ the blood of his heart. He purchased grace as well
3dly, These influences of the Spirit, as it were, supply Christ's room while he
is in glory. And truly, sirs, I may safely say it upon scripture-warrant, that
the presence of the Spirit with believers upon earth, is a greater blessing than
the mere bodily presence of Christ: and, therefore, Christ tells his disciples
by way of comfort, (John 16:7:) "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come
unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." As if he had said, "When I
am gone, the Spirit will be poured out from on high, which is far better for you
than my bodily presence."
4thly, These breathings of the Spirit are pledges of glory, the earnest-penny of
the inheritance: Eph. 1:13, 14: "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with
that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance."
5thly, Their excellency appears from the excellent effects that they produce
upon the soul. They beautify the soul on whom they fall, and make it like "a
field which the Lord hath blessed." They render the soul "fruitful in every good
word and work:" Hos. 14:5: "I will be as the dew unto Israel:" And what follows?
"he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon." Isa. 44:3: "I
will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will
pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring;" and then
follows, (ver. 4,) "They shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the
Quest. What advice or counsel do you give, in order to our obtaining or
recovering the enlightening and reviving gales of the Spirit?
Ans. 1. Be aware of your deadness, and mourn over it; for the Lord "comforts
them that mourn in Zion." He will "give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of
joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness:" and then
follows, "They shall be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord,
that he might be glorified," Isa. 61:2, 3.
2. Be much upon the mount of divine meditation; for here it is that the Spirit
of the Lord breathes: "While I was musing the fire burned," says David, Psal.
39:3; Psal. 63:5, 6: "When I meditate on thee in the night-watches, my soul
shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness."
3. Cry mightily to God for these influences, that he would pour down his Spirit
from on high: for "if ye, being evil," says Christ, "know how to give good gifts
unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy
Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke 11:13. Plead the promises of the new
covenant; and, particularly, be much in pleading this absolute promise of the
Spirit, Isa. 44:3: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon
the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed," &c. Ezek. 36:27: "I will
put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." But still
remember, that these promises are to be managed by the prayer of faith. We are
to turn God's promises into prayers; for it is added, (ver. 37,) "For these
things I will he inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."
4. Make conscience of waiting on him in all the duties and ordinances of his
appointment, particularly the preaching of the word. And beware of a legal frame
of spirit in your attending upon these ordinances, as if thereby you could merit
anything at God's hand, or as if God were obliged to you for what you do this
way; for "we receive the Spirit," (says the apostle,) "not by the works of the
law, but by the hearing of faith." Gospel ordinances are the usual chariots in
which the Spirit rides, when he makes his entrance at first, or when he returns
into the soul after absence.
5. Lastly, Study to have union with Christ; for it is upon them that are in
Christ, that "the Spirit of God and of glory" rests: "He that is joined unto the
Lord is one Spirit" with him. "The oil of gladness," that was poured upon the
head of our exalted Aaron, runs down upon the skirts of his garments, upon every
member of his mystical body.