(Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism, Vol.1. part 21)

Of the Holy Ghost

Lord's Day 20

Psalter No. 71 St. 1, 3
Read Isaiah 45
Psalter No. 143 St. 3, 4
Psalter No. 428 St. 2
Psalter No. 426 St. 3

    The Athanasian Creed quite correctly states that he who does not
believe that God is one in essence and three in persons cannot be
saved. The Father is God; the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is
God. The full essence is in the Father, but also in the Son and in
the Holy Spirit. Each of these divine persons has His own work in
the salvation of sinners, although one Person cannot be excluded
from the other in this work. The Father in His eternal counsel has
determined who shall be saved and who shall not, for the reprobation
is from eternity as well as election. It is not only written "I
loved Jacob," but also "I hated Esau." The Son engaged His heart to
approach unto God, and in the fulness of time took upon Him our
human nature to merit in soul and body complete salvation for them
whom the Father had given Him. Neither the Father, nor the Holy
Ghost, nor the Divine Essence became man, but the Second Person, Who
with the Father and the Holy Ghost is and remains the true and
eternal God, has satisfied in our human nature the violated justice
of God, and bruised the head of the serpent. He is the Lamb to whom
praises shall be sung forever: "Thou has redeemed us to God by Thy
    The Holy Spirit is given to Christ without measure, that He
might glorify Him. To Him as we heard in Lord's Day 17 is ascribed
the quickening of the deceased Mediator. He also glorifies Him in
the heart of His elect, grafting them into Christ, and causing them
in all their ways more and more to know Him by faith as their only
Savior. The eye of the church of God was then not only cast upon the
promised Mediator, but was also looking for the coming of the Holy
Spirit. This caused the church to cry out with Isaiah, "Drop down,
ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness;
let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation and let
righteousness spring up together." From above came the salvation
promised to the church of God; out of heaven comes the redemption of
God's people - not from below; not from ourselves. That which is
indispensable for the salvation of a sinner is not only merited by
Christ, but also the application whereby we become partakers of that
blessing, comes from above. Poor people who think they can believe,
who think the promises of God for salvation are given to all that
live under the Word of God, on condition that they accept them. They
are deceivers of themselves and of others. Salvation comes from

    God the Holy Spirit quickens the dead, and is promised only to
those that are chosen by the Father, and purchased by Christ. Upon
them the heavens shall drop; and the skies pour. The Spirit, like
the dew shall crumble the hard heart and make it fruitful, so that
the earth opens up and the seed of the Word breaks through. Secret
disciples like Nicodemus come forth. Salvation is brought forth to
all peoples, nations and tongues, so that the sheep that are not of
this fold are also brought in; righteousness springs up in the
people whose heart has been renewed to love God's justice and hate
sin, so that the Lord is glorified in them; and that is wrought only
by the operation of the Holy Spirit in them. Led by the instruction
given in the 20th Lord's Day of the Heidelberg Catechism, we must
now speak of the Holy Ghost. That Lord's Day reads as follows:
    Lord's Day 20
Q. 53:  What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?
A. First, that He is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the
    Son; secondly, that He is also given me, to make me by a true
    faith, partaker of Christ and all His benefits, that He may
    comfort me and abide with me for ever.
    Three matters about the Holy Ghost are presented in this Lord's
      I. that He is true God;
     II. that He is given to His people;
    III. that He is the abiding Comforter of His people.
    The treatment of that important and comforting doctrine of the
Son and our redemption is concluded in the 19th Lord's Day. Now we
are come to the discussion of the Holy Ghost and our sanctification.
How necessary it is, especially in these superficial times, to give
careful attention to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. For the entire
redemption by Christ, His death and resurrection, His ascension and
His coming again to judgment remains unknown to us, yea more, the
preaching of it will increase our condemnation eternally, if in this
life the Holy Spirit does not graft us into Christ and apply to us
what He has merited.
    In us is neither the will nor the ability to go to the Redeemer
to be saved by Him. We shall never believe in Him, although we may
be born of godly parents (grace is not inherited) or we have an
orthodox confession and have never trodden the path of public sins.
Our times are full of pious people who are firmly convinced that
they are partakers of Jesus, but who have never experienced anything
of the saving work of the Holy Spirit, Who only can make us true
partakers of Jesus. They may air their enmity by scorning God's
people to whom often after much soul's distress, and an experimental
knowledge of their lost sinnership before God, Christ, has truly
revealed Himself, Whom they did not know and outside of Whom they
sought their salvation. I say they may air their enmity by calling
this all false mysticism, they who are strangers of this life, and
consider their historical conception of redemption to be healthy
mysticism, may very well examine themselves whether they are not
without Christ, so that of them it shall be said,
    "I saw in what peril ungodly men stand
    With sudden destruction and ruin at hand."
    Beloved, I must most seriously show you the deceitfulness of our
superficial times. We are going to that dreadful eternity, and
Scripture shows us only two ways, eternal well, or eternal woe. It
is not difficult to know the state of the openly wicked person. He
shows in his whole life that He is a stranger to God and Christ. But
there is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are
not washed from their filthiness. They do not deny the truth, they
acknowledge the fall in Adam, as well as the restoration in Christ,
they speak of the Holy Ghost and His work, and agree that there is
experimental life. It would be very foolish to deny that. But, alas,
if you ask about that experimental life, about the knowledge of our
misery, redemption and gratitude, about the soul's sorrow for sin,
about covenanting with God, about the slough of Despond and the
strait gate, ... foolishness, ... mistaken piety ... false
mysticism, *Healthy* living is believing, accepting, rejoicing,
climbing over wall at midway!
    Oh, the day of days shall reveal how many thousands have misled
themselves and others for that great eternity. My soul impels me to
say this again, for I am convinced that we can never be partakers of
salvation in Christ unless it is applied to us by God the Holy
Spirit, and we consciously experience more or less this application.
The Lord's Day we must now consider requires our very special
attention. We do not say that the work of the Son merits less
attention. Who could make such a statement? Who does not understand
that there is but one foundation for our salvation, and that is not
the work of the Holy Spirit within us, but Jesus Christ and Him
crucified. The true hidden mystical life therefore flows out of
Christ, and it is a very sorry sign when many seek to rest in their
experience and not in Christ. Surely, we must lose everything as a
ground, even our experimental life in order to win Christ. A true
life of faith will find its utterance in the words of the poet:
        "Though all I lose,
        Yet Christ I choose,
        For I am His."
    The accent on feeling in these days, apart from the Word and
doctrine, is rooted in man. God the Holy Spirit works life in
communion with Christ. Of that Spirit Lord's Day 20 teaches us in
the first place that He is true and eternal God. To the question,
What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost? the instructor
gives this scriptural answer: "First, that He is true and co-eternal
God with the Father and the Son. Everything depends upon this, that
we know the Holy Spirit according to the Scriptures as the Third
Person in the Divine Essence. Our feelings should not be in the
foreground, but this sanctified knowledge.
    Our fathers have consistently condemned that which is so common
in these days, namely that men submit to all types of sensibilities
in religious matters, without resting on the true doctrine. And they
were right, as we can see by noting the sad fruits of religionism,
such as spiritual dreaming in philosophy, in popular oriental
philosophy, theosophy, pantheism, etc. Just listen to what is told
as religious experience and teaching of the Holy Ghost, often
contrary to Scripture, and yet many think highly of it. How many
"truths" are said to have been received by the Holy Spirit, which
either are against the intent of God's Word, or are never realized,
and yet with such deceptive experiences man seeks to maintain
himself. We could multiply the number of examples, but what has been
said has been more than enough to convince every honest soul of the
necessity of a sanctified knowledge of what God has revealed in His
Word. Not that which comes up from ourselves (and certainly
everything that is not built upon the foundation of the apostles and
prophets comes up from ourselves) but that which is of God is the
true religion.
    Hence subjective religion, that is the part that is
experimentally true for us, is limited to that which God has
revealed in Scripture to be the true religion. Then according to the
Scripture, the Holy Ghost is true and eternal God. Although the
entire Godhead is a spiritual Being, He especially is called the
Spirit because of the manner of His existence. He was given to the
disciples by breathing upon them as the Lord said, "Receive ye the
Holy Ghost." Although the Father and the Son are perfectly holy, and
Isaiah cried out, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts," He is
called the Holy Spirit. not because His holiness exceeds that of the
other Persons, but in order that we would not think earthly thoughts
of Him. Although the angels by virtue of their creation are holy
spirits about God's throne, we should acknowledge and honour Him as
the Holy God. The Spirit no less than the Father and the Son is very
God. He did not become God later, but was a real Person,
co-essential with the Father and the Son from all eternity.
    Understanding and a will are ascribed to Him, as to everyone as
a rational being, "For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the
deep things of God" (I Cor. 2:10). "But all these worketh one and
the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will (I
Cor. 12:11). Could it be that the heretics that speak, even in the
pulpit, of the Holy Spirit as a characteristic or an energy of God
and Christ, have never read these texts? Or does a characteristic
have a mind and a will? We can only speak thus of the Holy Spirit
because He is a divine Person. Therefore He is also expressly called
"another" in John 14:16, and Scripture speaks of grieving, lying to,
blaspheming, and resisting the Holy Spirit.
    With what clarity the church in ancient times has defended the
deity of the Person of the Holy Ghost against a host of enemies. The
church had to defend the true doctrine already against the Gnostics
who in the second and third centuries troubled the world with their
heathen theories, which they sought to apply to Christianity. Later
the Socinians denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit and considered
Him merely as the energy of God, and lately there were especially
the Modernists, the Groningen school and the languishing Ethical,
against whom the church had to strive and must still strive.
    When in Luke 1:35 the angel Gabriel says to Mary, "The power of
the Highest shall overshadow thee," he does not deny that the Holy
Spirit is a divine Person, but he speaks of His work in giving Mary
conception. Scripture speaks very clearly and very frequently of the
Holy Spirit as one of the divine Persons, Who with the Father and
the Son is true and eternal God. That is very evident, as
Hellenbroek teaches us, from His names, attributes, works, and
honour. When Ananias and Sapphire agreed to make it appear as if
they were so full of the love of God in the firm hope of salvation
that they would sacrifice all their earthly possessions, while
withholding a part of the price, they lied to the Holy Ghost. And
then Peter spoke the word that revealed their hypocrisy: "Ananias,
why has Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? Thou hast
not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5). Thus the Holy Ghost is
true God, a divine Person to Whom one can lie. Add to this the
divine attributes ascribed to Him. He is omnipresent, (Psalm 139:7)
"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?" In Hebrews 9:14 He is called
the eternal Spirit. In the third place the fact that He is a divine
Person is shown in His works. He works that which is the work of God
alone: "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the
hosts of them by the Breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33). "The Spirit of
God moved upon the face of the waters." Thus He is also the
Regenerator, Who regenerates fallen children of Adam and restores
the image of God in them.
    Finally, the honour ascribed to Him proves His divinity. Baptism
(Matth. 28) and blessing (II Cor. 13) are done in His name. Mock,
then, ye wicked, deny His divinity, persevere in maintaining that
the Holy Spirit is but a power; Scripture teaches you so much of
this Third Person in the Godhead, and portrays His majesty so
gloriously that we must needs fear Him. The unforgivable sin is
committed only against the Holy Ghost. There is forgiveness for all
manner of blasphemy against the Son, but woe unto us if we blaspheme
the Holy Ghost, for Christ has definitely declared that such
blasphemy shall not be forgiven.
    Scripture teaches us concerning the Holy Ghost that He proceeds
from the Father and the Son. His personal property is that of an
eternal procession, as the Son is eternally begotten of the Father.
How clearly Christ speaks of the procession of the Holy Spirit, not
only from the Father as the Greek Orthodox Church teaches, but also
from the Son, when He says, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I
will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which
proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me." Because the
Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father but also from the Son,
He is called the Spirit of the Son, and the Spirit of Christ. "And
because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into
your hearts, crying 'Abba, Father'" (Gal. 4:6) and in Rom. 8 Paul
says, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."
Thus we confess with our Catechism "That He is true and co-eternal
God with the Father and the Son." Faith in the Holy Spirit includes
still more than the conscience acknowledgment that He is true and
eternal God; faith acknowledges Him also as the One given to God's
people, and it is this second part of Lord's Day 20 that we will now
    A moment ago we spoke of the procession, that is the method of
existence of the Holy Spirit, the proceeding out from, yet eternally
remaining in the Godhead. We now come to the Holy Spirit's being
sent, which takes place in time and which finds its turning point in
that which occurred on Pentecost. Before that unique day of
Pentecost the operations of the Holy Ghost certainly took place in
the believers to their salvation. God put His Holy Spirit among
them. David prayed, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." Through this
Spirit they believed and hoped for their salvation. But
notwithstanding this powerful, saving work, the Person of the Holy
Spirit did not come to dwell in His church until the renowned Feast
of Pentecost. It is the unique significance of the Jerusalem
Pentecost which we commemorate year after year that the Comforter
descended, as Jesus had foretold, "For if I go not away, the
Comforter will not come unto you."
    After the church of God had been set in heaven in the Mediator,
only after the breach made by sin was entirely healed by Christ,
could the Holy Spirit dwell in the heart of men. Until then the Holy
Ghost was not given; "because that Jesus was not yet glorified." But
after that the Spirit did descend. Just as Jesus was born only once
in Bethlehem's manger, so only once the Spirit descended and the
Church of God celebrated its Pentecost. Its obvious purpose was that
the Holy Spirit should make its dwelling in the hearts of the
children of men, out of all kindred and tongues and nations. That
was indicated in the speaking with other tongues as the fruit of the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit; and of that the believer in our
Catechism testifies, saying, "that He is also given me." The Spirit
then is given to the person of each believer. The Spirit does not
only live in the church in general, He does not only pour out His
gifts in her midst, and give common grace to many, but He is given
to each of the elect personally for their salvation, "He is also
given me."
    Let us not merely pass over this and glory in that of which the
church of God partakes, as if it were enough to belong to that
visible formation. Everyone that is saved shall personally receive
the Holy Spirit, Who calls him from death to life, Who saves him
from the claws of Satan and brings him back into communion with God;
Who changes him from an object of wrath to a child of God and
qualifies him to do spiritual works in which God is glorified and
his soul finds joy and peace. That is the great secret of salvation:
"God in us," that is here testified by the instructor to be the
content of faith in the Holy Ghost. It is the root of life in
eternal glory as Paul teaches in Rom. 8:11, "But if the Spirit of
Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised
up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His
Spirit that dwelleth in you."
    It should therefore be a matter of serious self-examination
whether that Spirit of the Father was given us, for if not, we will
not partake of salvation. If you ask how you can know it, the
Catechism answers, "That He makes me by a true faith, partaker of
Christ and all His benefits." Hence without the gift of the Holy
Ghost in us, we cannot partake of Christ. The Spirit is always
closely connected with Christ. If every birth is a mystery, how much
more mysterious is the birth of the Son of God as the fruit of the
Holy Ghost, as the angel said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee
and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee."
    Now pass on from the birth by the Holy Ghost of Mary, to the
baptism in which the Spirit descends in the shape of a dove and sits
upon Him, and see that Spirit lead Him into the wilderness to be
tempted of the devil; hear how the Son through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without spot to God and declared Himself to be the
Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by the
resurrection from the dead ... follow, beloved, the Anointed of the
Father step by step; see Him anointed with the Holy Spirit that
rested on Him, Who dwells in Him without measure, and Who takes of
Him to show it to His people. That Spirit alone makes us partakers
of Christ. Believe, accept, comfort yourself with Jesus of Whom you
read in the Bible, but your poor soul shall remain a stranger of Him
if you do not become a partaker of Him through the Holy Ghost.
    We are all sprouts of the old Adam and nothing and no one can
cut us off from that root and plant us in Christ, except the Holy
Spirit. It is His work to reprove the world of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgment. He alone cuts the sinner off from
his own life and makes him die, so that he might have life in
Christ. If you would examine yourself whether you have received the
Holy Spirit to your salvation, do not rely on your tears, nor on
your many fears. Do not rest upon your bringing up, but examine
yourself whether you become a partaker of Christ. Esau also wept hot
tears, but his lamp was put out in obscure darkness; Cain feared,
but died in his sin; Manasseh and Saul were brought up strictly, but
ran to destruction; but those who are partakers of Christ cannot be
lost. He is the Prince of life and He gives His people eternal life,
and they shall never perish.
    It is the Holy Spirit that makes us true partakers of Christ, of
Him and His benefits. His benefits become ours when we partake of
His Person, just as in a marriage. Woe unto us if we want the
benefits, but not the person. No happiness can be expected from such
a marriage. Can there then be true communion between Christ and the
soul if we do not want Him and only Him? In regeneration the Holy
Ghost grafts us into Christ, and through Him we are partakers of the
covenant goods of Christ from that very moment.
    But, speaking from the creature's side, we cannot come to Christ
until we have lost all our grounds. The regenerate person, ingrafted
in Christ, knows himself to be utterly wretched. The experience of
that soul is so different than that which historical faith speaks
about. The quickened soul complains of his sins, weeps about his
unhappy state; believes, hopes and fears; sees himself without God
and Christ in the world, and fears only to be lost eternally. He
cries for grace, and at the same time he works to be saved outside
of Christ. Salvation seems farther away as he sees his misery more
clearly, and he does not know the Savior, although he enjoys His
benefits. Now it is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to
that wretched sinner, to cause him to thirst after the living water;
yea, to grant him that conscious union with Christ by faith which
gives him rest and causes him to glory in partaking of Christ, and
therefore also of His benefits to justification, sanctification and
eternal redemption.
    "Yea, he is also given me," says the instructor. Oh, how few of
God's dear people experience that to them was given the Holy Spirit
that makes them live in Christ, and gives them a free access to the
Father! Notice how empty they sometimes feel after having been made
conscious of their ingrafting in Christ, and how little they know of
the Holy Spirit. A full Savior and an empty sinner, but how shall
they come to Him and make use of Him as He was given by the Father
to be Prophet, Priest and King? Their soul cannot comfort itself
with all the assurance of their justification, but the Holy Spirit
enables them by faith to embrace their blessed Emmanuel, Who prays
for them with groanings that cannot be uttered. Thus the Father and
the Son and the Holy Ghost are known by the upright in heart, who
are experienced in the way of salvation, and by faith obtain rest in
the Triune God; for whom it had not only been Easter in their soul,
but who by faith could also celebrate Pentecost; and although in
themselves they are with the entire chosen church a group of poor
impotent sinners, yet can do all things through Christ, Who
strengthens them and in whom they have free access to the Father.
That Spirit abides with them.
    From the beginning to the end it is the Holy Spirit that makes
us partakers of Christ and His benefits.
    Although thus in regeneration God the Holy Spirit unites the
soul with Christ, and (I will try to say it plainly) without
communion with Christ we are spiritually dead, to attain the
assurance of the Holy Spirit's work of making us partakers of
Christ, our soul experiences a process of being lost, and of being
saved by the Mediator. Oh, how they, who have no knowledge of this
experience, lack the ground to glory in Christ and do not have the
comfort of knowing that the Holy Spirit was given to them; and yet
he that is born of God shall not be lost. Satan may rage, the world
may oppose, and sin may distress; unbelief and doubt may harass the
soul; the Lord will not forsake the work He has begun, but will
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. For He never departs from
His own, as we finally hear
that He is the abiding comforter of His people.
    When the Lord Jesus, after having walked for three years with
His disciples, and having taught and comforted them, and was ready
to ascend from them, He spoke, "I will pray the Father, and He shall
give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever."
That other Comforter is the Holy Spirit. That Comforter is
indispensable for the church of God, because the sorrow of God's
children can be so deep in this life. Sometimes internal and
external matters work together to depress the children of God.
Internally there are sins against which they must battle as long as
they are in this life, the assaults of Satan that can be so fearful,
the thoughts cast into our minds by Satan that are so blasphemous
and God-dishonoring; and unbelief that distrusts God and doubts His
promise, whether it concerns their salvation or whether it concerns
God's care in their life. Externally there are heavy burdens, and
bitter poverty, and deep mourning, all sent to them by the hand of
God in this valley of tears. For it is the will of God that His
people shall go through many tribulations to enter His Kingdom.
    But in those tribulations He will not forsake them. The comforts
of God support them, cause them to walk through the Valley of Baca
with good cheer. "Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a
well; the rain also fillets the pools." Oh, that Comforter, that
Holy Spirit! He causes us to carry our needs to the Lord; through
Him our soul can cry out our needs before God as a child does at its
mother's breast; from Him we receive true acquiescence with God's
way, that makes us willing to take up our cross. No, God does not
take the tribulations away from His people, but He comforts and
strengthens them in these ways. He makes their soul to hope in His
kindly words, "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the
heat nor sun smite them; for He that has mercy on them shall lead
them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them. And I will
make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted."
    He strengthens their souls by opening to them the eternal glory.
One glimpse of heaven causes them to regard all tribulations a light
matter, for the sufferings of this present time are not to be
compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. The lively
feeling and actual consciousness of the presence of this Comforter
may not always be in us, but the fact remains that He abides with us
forever. Also when we cannot feel it, or worse, when we cannot
believe it, when it seems that the Lord does not hear us anymore,
when we complain with the church of old, "The Lord has forsaken me
and my Lord has forgotten me," then He still is and abides with His
people. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not
have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet
will I not forget thee."
    What a gift then has been given to the people of God in the Holy
Ghost. The Lord Jesus is their Intercessor in heaven, and the Holy
Spirit is the Comforter or (which name means the same thing) the
Intercessor in their heart. He defends their souls against all
enemies and accusers, as Christ prays day and night for them in
heaven. What could Joshua the high priest answer to the accusations
of Satan? Not a word. But the Lord rebuked Satan. Thus the Lord
defends His people when they have not a word of self defense. Using
all your soul's experiences, just try to oppose Satan's accusations,
to raise yourself out of your troubles and distresses, to overthrow
the sins which come up in you, and you shall experience that you
have no might against that great company; but the Holy Spirit drives
away all the adversaries of His people as chaff before the wind. He
never forsakes His people, but abides with them forever. Should then
God's dear people not make more use of the Holy Ghost that dwells in
them, that comforts them, and guides their feet on the way of life.
Then they would sing with David as we do now, out of Psalter No.
428, stanza 2:
         O let Thy Spirit be my Constant aid,
         That all my ways may ever be directed
         To keep Thy statutes, so to be obeyed,
         That from all error I may be protected.
         I shall not be ashamed then or afraid,
         When Thy commandments I have e'er respected.
    Let now everyone examine his heart by the light of God's
omniscience, whether the Spirit has truly been given to him. One can
know it, and those who are called out of death unto life are assured
of it, although by various steps and in different measures. Are you
at all conscious of it? Or does the ground for your hope of
salvation rest upon your life with the church of God? Do you rest in
the fact that God placed His Spirit within them? Is that your glory,
your joy? Do you comfort yourself, your children, your friends and
your relatives with that? Do you flatter yourself that you will
inherit salvation upon that ground? Oh, do read, before you knock at
the closed gate of heaven, what the Catechism teaches, namely, that
the Holy Spirit not only dwells in the church, but is also given
personally unto us; and that only by that indwelling of the Holy
Spirit in us we are made partakers of Christ.
    Alas, how many that live in the church, and follow and profess
the truth, will be lost. For the sake of your soul's eternal
salvation, I pray you, my fellow-traveler to that dreadful eternity,
examine yourself very, very closely. Many show themselves to be not
only strangers but even enemies of the internal work of the Spirit,
and shun God's children. They mock them who seek to partake of
Christ through no other way but through the Holy Spirit and glory in
Him by faith. Forsake, my beloved, the paths of sin. Oh, do not shut
out that Spirit by your own actions. Let the world "enjoy" the
theater and sports, but, young men and women, refrain from walking
on the path that seeks the downfall of your soul, by filling it with
games and fun that diminishes your interest in the Word of God and
dulls your interest in your eternal welfare. There is so much danger
in all these modern things. Set your heart to searching the truth;
give up your games and friends for it; redeem the time; cast aside
all fancies of heaven and bow before the inexorable Judge, so that
as a lost sinner, you may become through the Holy Ghost a partaker
of Christ and His righteousness.
    Whether we are young or old, rich or poor, free or bond, pious
or wicked, we must in our lifetime, experience the renewing by the
Holy Spirit or else when we die, no matter how many people may call
us blessed, we shall be lost and our portion will be the sentence of
death, and our baptism and our confession shall increase our
condemnation. Examine yourself as to whether you have been made
acquainted with yourself by the work of the Holy Spirit, not just
whether through your bringing up and the voice of your conscience
you were ever made aware of your sins, but whether as a helpless and
hopelessly lost sinner you have by the operation of the Holy Spirit
found your life in Christ. For it is that which is only in the
upright, that he becomes a partaker of Christ. Cain, Esau, Orpah,
Saul, Ahab and whoever else, may each in his own way have complained
of their sin, confessed, shed tears, humbled themselves, yet they
have never partaken of Christ. Scripture speaks of a morning cloud
and an early dew that passes away. But life that flows out of
communion with Christ leads to salvation. The Holy Spirit given to
the soul makes him a partaker of Christ. This takes place in
regeneration and causes a restless longing for and employing of
    Come now and testify before God whether obtaining Christ has
been your sole purpose. Very great distress, or very deep conviction
is not the touchstone. I have known people who in their dreadful
conviction of conscience have rubbed the skin off their hands, and
cried most piteously because of their sins, but a few months after
their consciences were stilled, they revealed themselves as enemies
of God and His service. Do not ask for a deep way. May this be for
the instruction of you who often fear that your beginning is not of
God because you know of no observable change, or because your
conviction of sin was not as severe as you have heard of others.
Test yourself by this, whether you know an urgent longing for
Christ. Or are your tears enough for you, your comforts, your
psalms? Are you converted, and do you rest upon your experiences?
May this word of the Lord strike you, "Thou art wearied in the
greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, 'There is no hope'; thou
hast found the life in thy hand; therefore thou wast not grieved."
May it become hopeless for you. May God the Holy Spirit make you a
partaker of Christ by faith. And that drives the upright more and
more to Christ; for their debt and for the purification of their
heart they must embrace that only Mediator by faith.
    May our soul never find rest outside of Him. May the Holy Spirit
drive us from all grounds that we continually seek in ourselves,
thus we shall value Christ more highly, and in true communion with
Him we shall find all we need for our salvation. Those who are
partakers of Christ also partake of all His benefits, justification,
sanctification, wisdom and redemption.
    And now a question to you who have the great privilege of being
assured of your state; who in Christ are righteous before God. Can
you live on your justification? How many become big Christians and
are scourges to the concerned people of God and their souls walk in
darkness. How many glory in complaining about their sinful life, but
do not employ Christ as He is seated at the right hand of the
Father. How little of the sweet savor of the Lord's garden of nuts
do they yield. What do they lack? The true experimental knowledge of
the Holy Ghost and with it the adoption of children, even though His
work was richly glorified in them.
    Oh, highly blessed people of God, may the Lord favour you with
the knowledge not only of a reconciled God in Christ, but also of
the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Divine Essence, Who
assured you of your salvation, Who also gave you freedom to approach
to God and arise out of your complaints to Him Who ever lives to
make intercession for His people. How little do God's people know
and feel their need of the Holy Spirit. Yet by it you would become
poor with all your riches, very dependent with all that the Lord
gave you, but also filled with the Holy Spirit, and trusting in your
faithful God and Father, how happy you would be. You would glory
with the bride, "I am black, but comely," and the fruit would be the
mortification of your members which are upon the earth. Your
spiritual sonship would cause you to bring by faith both your
internal and your external needs to your Father which is in heaven,
and would strengthen you in all the trials through which you must
pass. Indeed, having the comforts of the Holy Spirit, you would
consider your trials light in the hope of salvation prepared for
you, while out of the depths of your self-abhorrence and among tears
of oppression you would glory in Him Who bought you with His blood.
Seek to know the Holy Spirit, and to be served by Him as those who
are prepared one day to praise and glorify the Triune God perfectly.

(continued in part 22...)

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