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guesses and hopes; not too good to be true for those for whom God withheld not His only Son; not too good to be true, in all its unimaginable wonder, if the Conqueror of death has been here "to seek and to save that which was lost." 'He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?'
THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
"In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession."- EPHESIANS i. 13, 14.
WE celebrate to-day the greatest gift ever made to man. I am not speaking of things done for him, and without him. I am not speaking of the gift of the Father's Eternal Son to be man's Redeemer, Brother, Atonement, Pattern. But the gift of to-day was the greatest change that was ever made in what man is in himself, in his powers and spiritual endowments, in what he can himself become. There have been other great revolutions in his history; crises and epochs which made things henceforth new, in the various stages of that order by which God has been bringing back the world unto Himself. There was the Law, the long discipline of Prophecy, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension. There was the opening message of the Gospel to the Gentiles, the breaking down the middle wall which had separated mankind, the transformation of the Synagogue into the Church Universal. Of course all these profuse outpourings of God's bounty have altered indefinitely our condition, our
hopes, our motives.
And there were, besides them, other gifts belonging to what we call the sphere of nature, put into the hands of man, which make him what he is the homely and familiar arts which so touched the imagination of the ancient poets, and raised their wonder more than they do ours; the discoveries, the capacities, the knowledge of later times, at which even we who possess them, stand amazed. But here is a gift of a different order. It brings with it, indeed, light; it brings with it truth. the essential and characteristic part of it is, that it brings with it changes within us,-changes unthought of, in the moral and spiritual nature and capacities of man. It is a gift, altering and raising the powers by which he chooses, and wills, and acts, the affections, the heart, the character, which make him a moral being, with power to do right, to feel right, to wish and desire right. It is the gift which opens to him, in a degree unknown before, the life of holiness, the life which makes him really like God, really able to know God, to love Him, to live with Him. It is the gift which, in the language of Holy Scripture, has renewed, has created afresh, our nature as men. Christmas is the commemoration of the birthday, the new birth in time, of the Onlybegotten, the second Adam, the Head of redeemed Humanity. Pentecost is the commemoration of the birthday of the new birth of Humanity itself; of the day when a new divine power came into the very inmost souls and beings of men, changing them
from their old selves, filling them with new energies fresh from the very heart of God, begetting them anew from the deadness of sin, giving them, by a new birth through the Spirit, the power to become the sons of God.
1. We know the power which new and great ideas have in giving a fresh start to the life of men, in remoulding it, and redirecting its course. The promise, the gift of the Holy Ghost, as it shapes and colours the whole language of the New Testament, is such a great idea. The very thought of such a thing, of a Divine Presence in the souls of men, enlightening, strengthening, elevating them, in a new and living way unknown before, could not form, as it does, the characteristic feature of a great faith and a great teaching, without producing the effect of great ideas when they take hold of the minds of men. However vaguely held, however imperfectly grasped, the belief that there was such a communication between God and the soul of man, that this was the fruit and largess of the Lord's Ascension, must have of itself awakened men from the routine of custom, and opened to them new prospects of the possibilities of improvement. But the gift of the Spirit was not merely an idea, it was a real power from the unseen world-the very power and working of God. It was the coming of a Divine Person, one with the Father and the Son, into these very souls of ours, to work in them His most incomprehensible, but most certain and blessed work. It was something more than the disclosure of truth, the
communication of light and of holy influences drawing and governing the heart. That which was the special promise of our Lord before He suffered, that which He solemnly guaranteed after His Resurrection, that which He sent down and shed abroad after His Ascension, was no less than a sacred, permanent, indwelling in human souls, of One who was God with Himself, continually to guide and teach them; day by day to restore and purify them; at last to fashion them into. the likeness of the Son of God, and to fit them for the eternal and perfect life. Here in the very centre of our being, in the centre of our wills and affections, here where we love, and desire, and choose, and act, where we are tempted, where we conquer, where we sin-here is One who does more for men than the great Master could do for His disciples when He was with them; One, who makes known to us all that Christ really is, all that Christ really means; a Comforter, an Advocate, who is to abide with us for ever; One, whose presence brings with it holiness, and divine love, and peace, in a way in which they never were in human souls before; One, under whose guidance we are going through our discipline, and learning to shape and present our prayers; One, who knows our deepest and most inmost needs, and deigns to associate Himself in wonderful, unspeakable, sympathy with our yearning supplications; One, who in the awful words of Holy Scripture, makes us one in union with the Father and the Son; One, whose presence with our spirit, is the pledge to us,