And it came to pass, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John's baptism.
Here is a question. 'Have ye received the Holy Ghost?' And here is an answer to it: Nay, 'not so much as heard, whether any Holy Ghost or no.' There is no fitter time [180/181] to ask and resolve this question of His receiving than this day, the day He was received visibly; nor to amend this answer (not, whether or no,) than this day, on which He declared Himself to the world, when it was both heard and seen, that there was a Holy Ghost.
The narrative is thus briefly. St. Paul came to Ephesus, and there he found certain disciples. At the first meeting, the very first question he asks is, si recepistis, 'whether they had received the Holy Ghost?' Mark it well. It is the first point he thinks meet to be enquired of, or to inform himself concerning.
The Apostle, no doubt, hoped for an answer affirmative from them, that they had 'received Him.' Theirs is a strange negative; that not only they had not received Him, sed neque, but were so far from that as they had not so much as heard whether there were any to receive, whether there were any at all. Whom they should have received, Him they had not heard of. This was a great rudeness. And yet disciples they were, and disciples who had believed, and believed a good while since. And they were twelve, it is said at the seventh verse, that is, a full jury; and yet put the Holy Ghost upon their verdict, that they return is an ignoramus.
The Apostle little looked for such rudeness at Ephesus, the most civil place of all Asia. This answer almost posed him, yet he gives them no over. Nay, he must not leave them thus. 'Whether one or no:' This answer of force begets another question, to find where the error was. Disciples they were, and therefore baptized; baptized, and yet had not heard of the Holy Ghost? He muses how, or into what they had been baptized, and ask them that. They tell him 'into John's baptism,' and further they had not gone. Of John's baptism I will not now stand to enlarge: this is certain, a baptism it was wherein, it seems, there was no mention, or no hearing of the Holy Ghost.
Now, by this time, their rudeness that seemed strange at the first, is not now strange, when the reason of it is known. And it might seem in some sort to excuse them, in that they were but at John's baptism; and so it did. But yet to accuse them withal, that they were but at John's baptism, (for it was now [181/182] more than twenty years since John was dead) that all this while they were no further; that, as he says to the Hebrews, 'considering the time, whereas they might have been teachers, they had need to be catechized in the very rudiments of religion.'
Yet quencheth he not this flax, though it did but smoke; bears with them, rates them not, but teacheth them; first, that as John was to Christ, so was John's baptism to Christ's baptism, in manner of parate viam, or introduction, in venturum, 'to receive one that was to come, and they no otherwise to conceive of it.
It was Apollos' case, in the chapter before, verse twenty-fifth, he knew not but John's baptism either, at the first. And these, it may well be, were his disciples. But as Aquila there taught him, so doeth the Apostle these here, 'the way of truth more exactly.' And so being taught, they were baptized with a baptism where they both heard of and received the Holy Ghost.
Thus doth end the narrative part. And therein he gives us example in himself, of his own rule to Timothy. If we meet with such as these at Ephesus, raw and evil-catechized Christians, that we grow not abrupt, but exercise our office 'in all long suffering and doctrine;' not in doctrine alone, but 'in long suffering and doctrine;' for without suffering, and suffering long otherwhiles, all our doctrine will do but little good.
Out of all this we gather these points. First, the necessity of receiving the Holy Ghost, in that it his first care, his first question he asks. Of the other persons in the Godhead, it is enough we hear of them and believe in them; of the Holy Ghost it is not so. To hear of Him, or believe in Him, will not serve, but we are to receive Him too. To know, not only quod sit, 'that He is,' but to certify ourselves, quod insit that 'He is in us;' for He will remain with you, and will be in you--it is Christ.
But then receive we cannot, unless first we hear; hear that there is one to receive, or ever we receive Him. First, notice of His being; and then, sense of His receiving. And indeed, the hearing of Him is a way to His receiving; for though not every one who hears receives, yet none receives but he hears first. So that ground must first be laid.
[182/183] And to lay that ground, no better way than the Apostle here directs us to by his second question, get us to our baptism. Ask, into what we were baptized? There we shall not fail, but resolve ourselves that one there is, receive Him after as we may.
Now, but that the Apostle had a better conceit of these here than there was cause, and so erred of charity, supposing these disciples better scholars than they were, he would have begun with the latter, and first asked them, if ever they heard of Him; and then after, if they had received Him. For that is first in nature, an sit, then an insit.
There then let us begin. I am sorry and ashamed, that we shall need deal with an sit. Yet, I know not how, as these days of ours grow from evil to worse, and from worse to worst of all, it is no more than needs. Not that I doubt any such who, as these here at Ephesus, 'have not heard of the Holy Ghost,' for no doubt long ere this, 'His sound is gone out into all lands;' but rather, such other as St. Paul found at Ephesus too--I can tell them no better that he doth. 'beasts' in the shape of men. That have heard, and yet take to themselves--a Christian liberty they call it, and that forsooth, humbly, simply, and modestly; but indeed--an unchristian licentiousness, proudly, lewdly, and malapertly, to call in question what they list; and to make queries of that which the Christian world hath long since resolved and ever since believed, concerning God, Christ and the blessed Spirit;--no less matters.
So then to these two parts we reduce all: I. The hearing of Him first; then II. the receiving of Him. 1. The hearing and therein: 1. where we shall hear of Him; and 2. what we shall hear of Him. 1. Where we shall hear of Him at our baptism. 2. And what we shall hear of Him there; that one there is at least, and I trust else besides.
II. Then the receiving of Him. And in it three points: 1. First, that this question must be answered too, and so bound to receive Him. And that, either affirmative or negative. We, have, or we have not. 2. Then, have we received Him? How to know if we have. 3. Have we not received? How to procure, if we have not. In the former, of hearing, is matter of faith. In the latter, of receiving, matter [183/184] of moral duty. Both meet to be entreated of at all times, but at no time so fit and so proper, as at this feast.
There is no receiving, no place for the first question, 'Have ye received?' till the latter be first resolved, Is there one to receive? For resolution whereof he [i.e. St. Paul] might have sent them to the very beginning of Genesis, where they should have heard, 'the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.' Or to the law, where the same Spirit came down upon the seventy elders. Or to the psalms, where they should have heard David say of Him, emitte Spiritum et creabantur, 'send forth Your Spirit and all will be made.' And Spiritum Sanctum ne auferas, 'take not Thy holy Spirit from me.' Or to the Prophets--the Prophet Esay, Christ's first text, 'The Spirit of God is upon me,' The Prophet Joel, St. Peter's text this day, 'I shall pour my Spirit upon all flesh.'
Or if ever they had heard of our Saviour Christ, St. Paul might have sent them to His conception, where they should have heard the angel say, Spiritus Sanctus superveniet in te, to the Blessed Virgin. To Christ's baptism, where He came upon Christ in a visible shape. To His promise so often iterate, of sending them 'the Holy Ghost.' To his caveat, 'not to sin against the Holy Spirit' in any wise; it was a high and heinous offence, it could not be remitted.
Or if they had heard of the Apostles, of Christ's breathing on them, and willing them 'to receive the Holy Ghost;' or but of this day, and in what sort He was visibly sent down, like fiery tongues, upon each of them. Or of their solemn meeting and council at Jerusalem, and decrees there, the tenor whereof was, 'it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and us.' Or but of the strange end that happened to Ananias, they could not choose but have heard his offence told him by Saint Peter, 'he had lied to the Holy Ghost;' and straight upon it, 'he had not lied to man, but to God' directly.
All this he might, yet this he did not, but takes a plain course, sends them to their baptism, still supposing it to be Christ's baptism they were baptized with, the only true baptism. And seeing the Apostle upon good advice took that for the best way, we cannot follow a better direction; [184/185] and so, let us take it. We mean not, I trust, to renounce our baptism. By it we are who we are. And at it we shall not fail but hear, There is a Holy Ghost. Express mention of Him is directly given in charge in the set form of baptism prescribed by our Saviour, that all should be, as we all are, 'baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.'
Yes, I add further; he could no better refer them than to baptism. For a special prerogative has the Holy Spirit in our baptism, above the other two persons. That laver, is His laver properly; where, we are not only to be baptized into Him, as into the other two, but also, even to be baptized with Him, which is proper to Him alone. For, besides the water, we are there, to be 'born anew of the Holy Ghost' also, else is there 'no entering for us into the kingdom of God.'
This for baptism. But let me also tell you a saying--it is St. Basil's, and well worth your remembering. He beginneth with, In Hoc baptizamur, and proceedeth three degrees further, all rising from thence naturally; they be but the train of baptism.
1. First. Et quomod baptizamur, its et credimus, 'as we are baptized, so we believe.' As is our baptism, so is our belief. And our belief is there, at our baptism, repeated from point to point. A point whereof is, 'I believe in the Holy Ghost.' And we desire to be baptized in that faith. There He is now again, at our baptism.
Yea, before we come so far, eve, at Christ's conceiving, there we hear of Him first, 'Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost.' 2. So, three several times, we there hear of Him. 1. 'Which was conceived by the Holy Ghost.' 2. 'I believe in the Holy Ghost,' and 3. in the name of the Holy Ghost.' At our baptism, all three. And 'in the mouth of three witnesses, is every point sufficiently established.'
2. St. Basil proceeds. Et quomodo credimus, ita et glorificamus. As from baptism to belief, so from believing to giving glory. And there, he flatly avoweth--which all the Christian world knew to be true, nor was there ever heretic found so bold, as to deny it--that the Doxologi/a, as they call it, that is, the use of saying, 'Glory be to the Father, the Son and [185/186] the Holy Ghost,' this form of concluding psalms, and hymns, and thanksgivings was ever received, and retained in the Church from the beginning, as with us still it is. So was baptism, so was thanks, for the baptized party, the new member of the Church, so all concluded. So that way we hear of Him there again.
3. Yet once more, and it is his last. Et quomodo glorificamus, sic et benedicimus. As we glorify God, so we bless men; as we give glory to Him, so we receive blessing from Him. How? The form is often heard, and well known, it is the Apostle's, 'The grace of Christ our Lord, the love of God,' His Father; communio, and 'the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,' to be with us. So after baptism, so after sermon, so is the congregation ever dismissed. Then, there, we glorify Him. And in Him we there are blessed. And do we hear of Him once more, quod sit, that a Holy Ghost there is.
Upon the matter, no baptism no belief, God no glory, men no blessing, but still we hear of Him. So as if any but see baptism, hear but the creed, be at the daily service, hear the Church rendering glory to God, receiving blessing from the Bishop or Priest; by some of these, or all of these, they cannot choose but hear of the Holy Ghost. There is then no saying for us, Sed neque audivimus. Away with that, and say with St. Basil, In Hoc baptizamur--there we begin; Et quomodo 1. baptizamur, sic credimus; 2. Et quomodo credimus, sic glorificamus; 3. Et quomod glorificamus, sic benedicimus. So, 'we are baptised in Him; 2. and as we are baptised, so we believe; and 3. as we believe, so glorify we God; and 4. as we glorify God, so bless we men;' bless, and are blessed. These four, they are all here, and they are not far fetched, they have no curious speculation in them, they will serve for any honest or good-hearted Christian to rest in, and they need go no further than In Quo ergo baptizati estis.
Thus we are referred, and we know where we are sure to hear of Him. But if we stay a little upon in Quo baptizati, and look better into it, this is not all, but we shall find further, not only that such a one there is, but takes more perfect notice of Him. And first that He is God. And by no other, but by the same steps we went before.
God, first. For that we cannot be baptized into any name, [186/187] but God's alone. The Apostle disputes it at large that it cannot be, that it is not lawful, to be baptized into St. Peter's name, or into his, or into any name else, but God's only. But in his name we are baptised, even in the name of the Holy Ghost: that proves Him God.
God, secondly. For we believe in Him. We there profess it. Et nemini Christianorum unquam dubium fuit, nos in Deum, non in creaturam, credere, saith, St. Athanasius, 'Never any Christian doubted of this, that we believe not in any creature, but in God alone.' Believing then in Him, we acknowledge Him to be God.
God, thirdly. For we ascribe Him glory. And glory is proper to God only; so proper, that He saith expressly, Alteri non dabo, He will not 'part with it to any other.' But we render Him glory, and 'With the Father and the Son, pariter, together, He is worshipped and glorified. Therefore God with them, even in that respect.
Lastly, God, from blessing also, for that is one of God's peculiars. To bless in His name, by putting His name upon children, old and young, upon the congregation, to bless them. But with His name we bless, no less than with the rest. Therefore as they, so He, 'God above all,' as to bless, so to be 'blessed for ever'
And upon these four we rest. these four, 1. To be baptized into Him, 2. To believe in Him, 3. To ascribe glory to Him, 4. To bless by Him, or in his name, they are acts such acts, as cannot be given to any, but to God only; and so evidently, we there hear of Him, that He is God also. And such are the two acts in the Creed of Constantinople, To be Lord and giver of life, and To speak by the Prophets. Such are many other attributes and works, that cannot agree to any but God, ascribed to the Holy Ghost, which might be, and which elsewhere have been alleged. But now we are to keep us to our baptism, and go no further.
And if we will stay yet but a little at our baptism, and hearken well; as we hear that He is God, so shall we see that He is God in unity. For there we hear but, in nomine, but of one name. Now as the Apostle reasoneth, Abrahæ dictæ sunt promissiones, et Semini ejus. 'To Abraham and [187/188] his seed were the promises made. He saith not, to the seeds, as of many; but to his Seed, as of one.' So we are baptized, non in nominibus, quasi multis, sed in nomine, quasi uno; 'not in the names, as of many, but in the name, as of one.' One name and one nature, or essence. Unum sumus, saith Christ of two of them; Unsum sunt, saith St. John of all three. This we hear there.
Unum sunt, but not unus. For as from the name we deduce the unity, so from the number, Three, do we the Trinity--one in name and nature, yet distinct between themselves. Distinct in number, as in our baptism; 'The Father, Son and Holy Ghost.' And that number distinct to the sense, as at Christ's baptism; the Father in the voice, the Son in the flood, and the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove. And that showed to be a distinction of persons, in Christ's promise. 1. Ego, the person of Christ, 2. Patrem, the Person of the Father, and Paracletum, the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, I say, distinct from the Father; 'The Lord and His Spirit hath sent me.' From the Son, Paracletum alium, by alium--the Son one, He another. And distinct as a Person; for to omit other personal acts which properly agree to none but a reasonable nature determined, as to be 'the Lord,' to 'speak,' 'teach,' 'reprove,' 'comfort,' 'be a witness,' place bishops, make decrees in council; that which we hear of at our baptism ascribed to Him, to conceive the human nature of Christ, is an act so personal, as in propriety of speech can agree to none, or be affirmed of none, but of an entire person. This we hear.
A Person then, distinct by Himself, yet as a person, not of or from Himself. And this we hear from the very term itself of Spiritus. For even as filius alicujus, so Spiritus alicujus est ab aliquo, proceeds from Him, whose Son or Spirit they are. So the Son of God, and Spirit of God, do from God: God of God, either. Eo ipso then, that He is Spiritus Domini. He proceeds without more ado.
Proceeds, and from both. 1. From the Father, the Constantinopolitan Council, from the express words, 'Who proceedeth from the Father;' 2. From the Son; the Council of Toledo, the eight, from the visible sign, where the Son breathed on the Apostles, and willed them from Him to 'receive the [188/189] Holy Ghost.' And, Non a Semet Ipso loquetur, sed de Meo accipiet, sheweth fully as much. Briefly; sent by the Father, Filioque, and by the Son too. And so, 'the Spirit of the Father,' Filiique, and 'of the Son' too.
Proceeding from them, and not by way of generation--that is Christ's proper; He is often termed 'the Only begotten,' and so none but He --but by way of, emitte Spiritum, emission, sending it forth; that is, out of the very body of the word spirit, by spiration, or breathing. One breathing, yet from both; even as the breath, which carrieth the name and resemblance of it, is one yet from both the nostrils, in the body natural.
All these are expressed, or implied, in our baptism. And now lastly, to return home to our purpose, proceeds from them to come to us; is breathed from them, to inspire us; sent by them, to be given us; per Spiritum sanctum Qui datus est nobis, 'by the Holy Ghost Which is given us'--given to receive, and so to be received of us. Which openeth the way and maketh the passage over to the second question, si recepistis, 'have ye received?' And so, as we see, the two parts follow well and kindly, one upon the other. For this now is the last thing to be heard of Him, that it is not enough to hear of Him, but that we are to receive Him also, and to give account to St. Paul that we have so done.
So then, we have now cleared the first question, at our baptism, and have 'heard,' 1. That such a one there is; 2. And that He is God; 3. God, in unity of name; 4. Yet in number distinct, and distinct as a Person by Himself; 5. A Person by Himself, yet not of Himself, but proceeding; 6. Proceeding from both Persons, that stand before Him, the Father and the Son; 7. And that breath-wise. And so we have done with that. But yet we have not done though. For the other question must be answered too; no remedy, it imports us. For as good not hear of Him at all, as hear and not receive Him.
Thither then I come. Si recepistis? 'Have you received the Holy Ghost?' Wherein these three points; 1. That we are liable to this question, and to the affirmative part of it, that we have, and so are bound to receive Him; for so si presupposeth; [189/190] 2. If we so have, how to know it; 3. If we have not, how to compass it.
How much it importeth us to receive Him, we may esteem by this, that St. Paul makes it his article of Imprimis; begins with it at the first, as the most needful point.
Two things are in it. First, that receive we must. Secondly, that it must be the Holy Ghost we are to receive.
Receive? What need we receive any spirit, or receive at all? May we not, out of ourselves, work that will serve our turns? No; for holy we must be, if ever we shall rest in His holy Will, for 'without holiness none will ever see God.' But holy we cannot be by any habit, moral or acquisite. There is none such in all moral philosophy, As we have our faith by illumination, so have we our holiness by inspiration; receive both, both from without.
To a habit the philosophers came, and so Christians may; but that will not serve, they are to go further. Our habits acquisite will lift us no further than they did the heathen men; no further than the place where they grow, that is earth and nature. They cannot work beyond their kind--nothing can; or rise higher than their spring. It is not therefore, Si habitum acquisistis, but si Spiritum recepistis, we must go by.
But then, why recepistis Spiritum Sanctum, 'the Holy Ghost?' No receiving will serve, but of Him? The reason is, it is nothing here below that we seek, but to heaven we aspire. Then, if to heaven we shall, something from heaven must thither exalt us. If 'partakers of the Divine nature,' we hope to be, as great and precious promises we have that we shall be, that can be no otherwise than by receiving One in whom the Divine nature is. He being received imparts it to us, and so makes us Consortes Divinae naturae; and that is the Holy Ghost.
For as an absolute necessity there is that we receive the Spirit, else can we not live the life of nature, so no less absolute that we receive the Holy Spirit, else can we not live the life of grace, and so consequently never come to the life of glory. Recepistis spiritum, gives the life natural. Recepistis Spiritum Sanctum, gives the life spiritual.
[190/191] 1. There holdeth a correspondence between the natural and the spiritual. The same way the world was made in the beginning, by the Spirit moving upon the waters of the deep, the very same was the world new-made, the Christian world, or Church, by the same Spirit moving on the waters of baptism.
2. And look, how in the first Adam we come to this present life, by sending the breath of life into our bodies, so in the second come we to our hold in the other life, by sending the Holy Spirit into our souls.
3. By that Spirit which Christ was conceived by, by the same Spirit the Christian also must be. Not to be avoided, absolutely necessary all these, it cannot be otherwise.
Another necessity of His receiving. For the house will not stand empty long. One spirit or other, holy or unholy, will enter and take it up. We see the greatest part of the world by far are entered upon and held, some by 'the spirit of slumber,' that pass their time as it were in a sleep, without any sense of God or religion at all. Others by the spirit of giddiness, that reel to and fro, and every year are of a new religion. Others by 'the spirit of error, given over to believe lies through strong illusion.' And they that seem to know the truth, some with 'the unclean spirit,' some with 'the spirit of envy,' or some such, for they are many, that a kind of necessity there is to entertain and receive the good Spirit, that some or other 'evil spirit from God' seize not upon us. From which God deliver us!
A third necessity there is we receive Him, for that with Him we shall receive whatever we want, or need to receive, for our soul's good. And here fall in all His offices. By Him we are regenerate at the first in our baptism. By Him after, confirmed in the imposition of hands. By Him after, renewed to repentance, 'when we fall away,' by a second imposition of hands. By Him taught all our life long that we know not, put in mind of what we forget, stirred up in what we are dull, helped in our prayers, relieved in 'our infirmities,' comforted in our heaviness; in a word, 'sealed to the day of our redemption,' and 'raised up again in the last day.' Go all along, even from our baptism to our very resurrection, and we cannot miss Him, but receive Him we must.
And on the other side, Si non recepistis, without Him received, [191/192] receive what we will, nothing shall do us good. Receive the word, it is but a killing letter; receive Baptism, it is but John's Baptism, but a barren element; receive His flesh, 'it profiteth nothing;' receive Christ, it will not do, for Qui non habet Spiritum Christi, hic non est Ejus, 'he that hath not His Spirit, is none of His.' To receive Christ and not the Holy Ghost, is to no purpose. To conclude, if we receive not Him, we be but animales, Spiritum non habentes, 'only men of soul, having not the Spirit.' Et animalis homo, 'the natural man,' that never received the Spirit, neither perceiveth nor receiveth the things of God, hath nothing to do with them. So that Spiritum non habentes is enough, and there needs no more, but only that to condemn us. All this laid together, we see Recepistis Spiritum is no more than needs; and it must needs have an answer.
The next point is, how to certify ourselves, whether we have received this Spirit, or no. I say, 1. whether the Spirit, first; 2. and then, whether that Spirit be the Holy Ghost, after.
Of the Spirit, the signs are familiar. For if it be in use,--as the natural spirit doth--at the heart it will beat, at the mouth it will breathe, at the pulse it will be felt. Some one of these may, but all these will not deceive us.
At the heart we begin, for that is first; Dabo vobis novum et spiritum novum; 'a new heart and a new spirit' we shall find. We shall be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Sane novum supervenisse spiritum, nova desideria demonstrant, saith Bernard, 'that a new spirit is received, no better way to know, than by new thoughts and desires.' That he that watches well the current of his desires and thoughts, may know whether and what spirit it is he is led by, old or new. Therefore our Saviour Christ 'breathed into them,' when He first gave them the Holy Spirit, that they might receive Him there within, even in visceribus, 'in the inward parts.' A timore tuo Domine concepimus Spiritum salutis; we shall know 'the Spirit is conceived by the fear of God in our hearts,' it is as the systole or drawing in, to refrain us from evil. And we shall know it by charitas Dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris, 'the love of God there shed abroad in our hearts.' Which is as the diastole or dilating it out, to all that good is.
[192/193] But then, this every one may say--all is well within; and their word must be taken, we cannot gainsay them. For no man knows in so saying, whether they say true or no. Therefore we go yet further and say, idem est vitæ et vocis organon, 'the breath that serves us for life, or to live by, the same serves us also for the voice, or to speak by.' So that way ye shall know it. For if in ore ipsorum non est spiritus, 'no breath be to be perceived in their mouths;' if they 'speak not through their throats,' they are but idols and no better. Will ye see it at the mouth? Credidi, propter quod locutus sum, saith he; and habentes eumdem Spiritum, 'if we have the same Spirit,' saith the Apostle, we shall do no less. This we know for certain, that upon this day the Holy Ghost came in the shape of tongues, and they are for speech. And this likewise, that upon receiving the Holy Ghost, these here in the text and generally all other speak, and that with new tongues, not such as they spoke with before. The miracle is ceased, but the moral holds still: where the Holy Spirit is received there is ever a change in the dialect, a change from cursed, unclean, 'corrupt communication,' unto 'such as becometh saints.'
But then again, because even birds too may be, and are sometimes taught to speak, and that, holy phrases for a need, therefore further yet to the pulse we go, and touch it. To the hand, to the work, and enquire of that. The Holy Spirit was first given and received by the 'breath' inward, for the heart. Then, by 'fiery tongues' for the speech. But ever after, and here in this place, the Holy Spirit, we know, was given and received by laying on of hands; and that, to admonish us, that by imposita, and by admota manus, by lifting up, and laying to our hands, we may know we have received Him; we have had laying on of hands, if we use laying or putting our hands to any good work.
As for what is in the heart, quis cognoscit illud? 'who knows it?' Not we ourselves; our own hearts often deceive us. And there is a verbis confitentur, 'confess at the mouth,' with a factis negant, 'deny with the deeds;' and that deceives too. But there is opus fidei, 'the work of faith,' from fides quae operatur, 'faith that works'--that is St. Paul's faith; that can show itself by his working--that is St. James' faith; and [193/194] there may well be the Spirit. But without works, there it may not be. For without works, St. James is flat, it is but 'a dead faith,' the carcass of faith, and there is no Spirit in it. No. Spirit, if no work. For usque adeo proprium est operari Spiritui, ut nisi operetur nec sit; 'so kindly it is for the Spirit to be working, as if It work not It is not.' There is none to work; spectrum est, non Spiritus, 'a flying shadow it is, a Spirit it is not,' if work it do not.
And yet I cannot deny, works there may be and motion, and yet no Spirit, as in artificial engines, watches, and jacks, and such like. And a certain artificial thing there is in religion, we call it hypocrisy, that by certain pins and gins, makes show of certain works and motions as if there were Spirit, but surely Spirit there is none in them. Vain men they are, that boast of the Spirit, without the work; hypocrites they are, that counterfeit the works, without the Spirit. You will easily discover these works, that they come not from the Spirit, by the two signs in psalm fifty-one, zwkb and jbyrg. 1.'constant,' and 2. 'free.' They that come from cunning, and not from the Spirit, you will know them by this, they be every foot out; they are not 'constant,' they continue not uniform long, and when the barrel is about or the plummets down, they stay. But howsoever, long will not hold, but vanish like 'the cloud,' dry away like 'the dew' of the morning, zwkbal no constancy.
And ye shall know them again by the other note, hbydb. Which makes the difference between the creatures and the Spirit. For the creatures are produced from without; the Spirit does emanare, proceed from within. So these, they have principium motus ab extra, that that makes them go is something, some engine without; they flow not freely, they come not kindly, as from within, jgydnal 'no natural motion'--ingenious but not ingenuous. Ingenuity and constancy, the free proceeding, the constant continuing of them, will soon disclose whether they come from a spirit or not; will soon show they comes from the heart of hypocrisy, not from the spirit of true piety.
And these will serve to know whether from a spirit. Now, whether that spirit be holy or no. For divers times doth the Apostle distinguish and say, 'We have not received this [194/195] spirit' but that, as Romans the eighth chapter, and fifteenth verse, and the second of Timothy, the first chapter, and seventh verse; and namely 'that we have not received the Spirit of the world, but the Holy Spirit Which is of God.' This same spirit of the world, it is sacer spiritus, for there is no touching it, but not Sanctus. Sacer, as he called sacra fames; for sacra fames he could never have called it. That spirit of the world, be it from policy, or be it from philosophy, both are res casræ, (and sanctæ also may be, as they may be used) but of themselves secular they are, and from men; holy, or from Heaven, they are not. But this Spirit, this Wind, must blow from heaven, not from our caves here beneath. And so you will soon discern it. Do but mark the coasts, whence and whither it bloweth, the motive and the mark, and you will distinguish it straight; for if from a secular reason, if to an end beneath, virtus ab imo it may be, virtus ab alto it is not.
For example, I do forbear to sin: what is my motive? Because, as Micah saith, it is against 'Omri's statutes,' some penal law; I shall incur such a penalty, be liable to such an action, if I do not. It is well; but all this is but the spirit of the world; e Prætorio, non Sanctuario, bloweth 'out of Westminster Hall, not our of the Sanctuary.'
I go further, to a better spirit. Though there were no penal law I forbear to sin , because it is a brutish thing, and so against reason; and ignominious, and so against my credit, and reputation. Nay, then further yet, because I shall thereby endanger my soul, for that it will bar me of Heaven, or be a means to bring me to hell, for the heathen men took notice of both these places. All this while this is no more than the spirit of the philosophy schools will teach, no more than might be taught 'in the school of Tyrannus,' before St. Paul ever came in it. It bloweth this wind, out of Aristotle's gallery, not out of the sanctuary yet; e Lycæi, non Sanctuario. But if with eye to God I forbear, because in so doing I shall offend Him and do evil against the rule of His justice, the reverence and majesty of His Presence, the awful regard of His Power, the kind respect of His bounty and Goodness; this now comes from the sanctuary, this wind blows from heaven, this is right Sanctus, indeed.
This is the line. Again, look to the level. If it be [195/196] Demetrius' end, here in the chapter, Isthine est acquistio nobis, 'by this we have our advantage.' If it be theirs paremus nobis nomen, so I shall make my name famous upon earth, or any of that level, it is but of the world's; sacer spiritus, not sanctus. But if of our well-doing God's will be the centre, and His glory the circumference; we do it, not that our will, but His be done; not our name, but His be hallowed; the act is holy, and the Spirit is of the same kind. Otherwise, philosophical, politic, moral it may be; theological, religious, holy, it is not. Our line and our level, or inducements or impediments to our doings, mark them what coast they come from, and whither they bend, you will easily conclude; as before, whether recepistis Spiritum, so here, whether recepistis sanctum or no.
And thus we know whether we have received. But, if we have not, how then? How may we, by the grace of God, so dispose ourselves as we may receive Him. And now we are come to the duty of the day, for this is the day of His receiving.
The ways are two: One, that we lay no bars to keep Him from us; the other, that we use all good means to allure Him to us.
First, that we fall not into St. Stephen's challenge, that we 'resist not the Holy Ghost,' and his coming. And 'resist' Him we do, if we lay any impediments in His way, nay, if we remove them not; as the manner is, as they do that draw the curtains, or open the casements, that would take in breath.
Of these, I find three of note: quit they must be all, or no receiving them.
One, and a chief one, is pride. For the Holy Ghost will not rest but upon the lowly, saith Esay; nor God 'give grace, but to the humble,' saith Solomon. That we therefore pray to Him That 'giveth grace to the humble,' to give us the grace to be humble, that so we may be meet to receive Him. For at His first coming He came 'as a dove,' and 'did light upon Him' Who was Himself 'humble and meek,' like a dove, and willeth us to learn that lesson of Him, as that which will make us meet to receive the dove which He received, whose qualities are like His, of 'a meek and quiet spirit;' [196/197] howsoever the world reckon of it, is with God a thing much set by.
In the beginning, 'the Spirit moved on the waters,' and at baptism it doth so. And our Saviour Christ speaking of the graces of the Spirit, does it in terms of water; and water, we know, will ever be the lowest place. Pride then is a bar, and humility a disposing means, to the prime receiving the Holy Ghost.
Another impediment is carnality. For spiritual and carnal are flat opposite. Quod santcum est, mundum est, ever; no holiness, without cleanness. So that, the unclean spirit must be cast out, ere the Holy Ghost received. A clean box it must be that is to hold this 'ointment.' The dove lights on no carrion. Into our bodies, as a 'Temple,' He is to come; as in stews, He will not. And that which we said right now of water, we hear repeat. The Spirit in the beginning moved there, and at baptism came thither again, and His gifts are as streams of water; and water we know, is a cleanser. To keep ourselves clean, is a means; to pour ourselves out into riot and excess, is a bar, keeps Him far away from us.
But the third is, ex totâ substantiâ, against the Holy Ghost, and that is 'the spirit in us that,' as St. James saith, 'lust after envy;' after envy, or malice, or whatsoever savours of 'the gall of bitterness;' in which whosoever are, St. Peter saith plainly, they have no part, or fellowship, either in giving or receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as in the body He is expressed by the breath, and in that form given by Christ; so in the soul, by mutual or reciprocal love, which is, as it were, the life's breath of the soul. So is His nature, and so is His sign. The dove brought 'an olive branch,' and that is the sign of love and amity; and so is His office, 'to shed abroad love in our hearts:' and how can that be received, if malice be not first of all voided out? They are as opposite as St. Luke's fire from Heaven, and St. James' 'fire from hell:' one must be quenched, or the other will not burn.
Now these being removed, 1. pride, 2. lust, and 3. malice, and so a place made, we are to invite the Spirit by all good means He loveth, and as it were to gather wind as much as [197/198] we can. To that end to get us to the place, and to visit it often, where this air breathes; and that is, as we find, 'the door of the Sanctuary.' If any be stirring, if any be to be found, there it is. No place on earth which the Holy Spirit more frequenteth, hath duet commerce with, than the holy places where the remembrance of His Name is put; for thither He will come to us, and bless us, with His blessing.
Being there, it is but an easy lesson, yet David think meet to teach it, as by his example,--Os meum aperui, et Spiritum attraxi--to open our mouth and draw it in. And that opening is by prayer. Zachary calleth it Spiritum precum, the Spirit, that is, the active inspiration, or attraction of it, where we express our desire t draw Him in. Which very attraction or desire hath a promise, by the mouth of our Saviour Christ Himself, that His Heavenly Father will give the Holy Ghost,aittoàsiw aÙtÕu,.'to them that will make petition, seek and sue, open their mouth, and pray for it.'
Then secondly, look how the breath and the voice in naturalibus go together; even so do the Spirit and the word in the practice of religion. The Holy Spirit is 'Christ's Spirit,' and Christ is 'the Word.' And of that Word, 'the word that is preached' to us is an abstract. There must then needs be a nearness and alliance between the one and the other. And indeed, but by our default, 'the word and the Spirit,' saith Esay, will never fail or ever part, but one be received when the other is. We have a plain example of it this day, in St. Peter's auditory, and another in Cornelius and his family; even in the sermon time, 'the Holy Spirit fell upon them,' and they so received Him.
Yea, we may see it by this, that in the hearing of the word where He is no received yet He maketh proffers, and worketh somewhat onward. Upon Felix, took him with a shaking, and further would have gone, but that he put it over to 'a convenient time,' which convenient time never came. And upon Agrippa likewise, somewhat it did move him, and more it would, but that he was content to be a Christian Ñli/gw, to take his religion by a little, as it were upon a knife's point, and was afraid to be a Christian in multo, 'too much' a Christian.
That we see not this effect, that with the word the Spirit is not received as it would be, the reason is it is no sooner gotten than it is [198/199] lost. We should find this effect, if after we have heard the word, we could get us a little out of the noise about us, and withdraw ourselves some whither, where we might be by ourselves, that when we have heard Him speak to us, we might hear what He would speak in us. When we have heard the voice before us, we might hear the other behind us, Hæc est via. When the voice that sounds, the other of Job, Vocem audici in silentio--there hear Him reprove, teach, comfort us, within. Upon which texts are grounded the soliloquies, the communing with our own spirits, which are much to be praised by the ancients, to this purpose: for in meditatione exardescit ignis, 'by a little musing or meditation, the fire would kindle' and be kept alive, which otherwise will die. And certain it is that many sparks kindled, for want of this, go out again straight, for as fast as it is written in our hearts, it is wiped out again; as fast as the seed is sown, it is picked up by the fowls again, and so our receiving is in vain, the word and the Spirit are severed, which else would keep together.
Lastly, as the word and the Spirit, so the flesh and the Spirit go together. Not all flesh, but this flesh, the flesh that was conceived by the Holy Ghost, this is never without the Holy Ghost by Whom it was conceived; so that, receive one, and receive both. Even with this blood there runs still an artery, with plenty of Spirit in it, which makes that we eat there escam spiritualem, 'a spiritual meat,' and that in that cup we be 'made drink of the Spirit.' There is not only impositio manuum, but after it, positio in manusi; 'putting on the hands, but putting it into our hands.' Impositio manuum, 'putting on of hands,' in accepit panem et calicem; and positio in manus, 'putting it into our hands,' in accipite, edite, bibite. And so, we in case to receive body, blood, Spirit and all, if ourselves be not in fault.
Now then, if we shall invite the Spirit indeed, and if each of these, by itself in several, be thus effectual to procure it, put them all, and bind them all together. Accipite verba, 'take to you words,' Osee's words, words of earnest invocation. Suscipiter insitum verbum, 'receive,' or take you 'the word,' St. James' word, 'grafted into you' by the office of [199/200] preaching. Accipite corpus, accipite sanguinem; 'take the holy mysteries of His body and blood;' and the same, the holy arteries of His blessed Spirit. Take all these in one--the attractive of prayer; the word, which is 'spirit and life;' the bread of life, and the cup of salvation; and is there not great hope we shall answer St. Paul's question as he would have it answered, affirmative? 'Have ye received?' Yes, we have received Him. Yes sure. Then if ever; thus, if by any way. For on earth there is no surer way than to join all these; and He so to be received, if at all.
So we began with hearing outward, and we end with receiving inward. We began with one Sacrament, Baptism; we end with the other the Eucharist. We began with that, where we heard of Him; and we end with this other, where we may and will, I trust, receive Him. And almighty God grant we so may receive Him at this good time, as in His good time we may be received by Him thither, whence He this day came of purpose to bring us, even to the holy places made without hands, which is His heavenly kingdom, with God the Father Who prepared it, and God the Son Who purchased it for us! To Whom, three Persons, &c.