Are you a Christian?
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8. But, you will have peace with God. If the Church, and sinners, and the devil, oppose you, there will be One with whom you will have peace. Let you who are called to these trials. and conflicts. and temptations, and who groan, and pray, and weep, and break your hearts, remember this consideration: your peace, so far as your feelings towards God are concerned, will flow like a river.
9. You will likewise have peace of conscience, if you are led by the Spirit.
You will not be constantly goaded and kept on the rack by a guilty conscience. Your conscience will be calm and quiet, unruffled as the summer's lake.
10. If filled with the Spirit, you will be useful. You cannot help being useful. Even if you were sick and unable to go out of your room, or to converse, and saw nobody, you would be ten times more useful than a hundred of those common sort of Christians who have no spirituality. To give you an idea of this, I will relate an anecdote. A pious man in the western part of this State, was suffering from consumption. He was a poor man, and was ill for years. An unconverted merchant in the place, who had a kind heart, used to send him now and then some things for his comfort, or for his family. He felt grateful for the kindness, but could make no return, as he wanted to do. At length he determined that the best return he could make would be to pray for the man's salvation. So he began to pray, and his soul kindled, and he got hold of God. No revival was taking place there, but, by and by, to the astonishment of everybody, this merchant came right out on the Lord's side. The fire kindled all over the place; a powerful revival followed, and multitudes were converted.
This poor man lingered in this way for several years, and died. After his death, I visited the place, and his widow put into my hands his diary.
Among other entries was this: "I am acquainted with about thirty ministers and Churches." He then went on to set apart certain hours in the day and week to pray for each of these ministers and Churches, and also certain seasons for praying for different missionary stations. Then followed, under different dates, such facts as these: "Today I have been enabled to offer what I call the prayer of faith for the outpouring of the Spirit on - Church, and I trust in God there will soon be a revival there."
Under another date he had written: "I have today been able to offer what I call the prayer of faith for - Church, and trust there will soon be a revival there." Thus he had gone over a great number of Churches, recording the fact that he had prayed for them in faith that a revival might soon prevail among them.
Of the missionary stations, if I recollect right, he mentioned in particular one at Ceylon. I believe the last place mentioned in his diary, for which he offered the prayer of faith, was the place in which he lived. Not long after, the revival commenced, and went over the region of country, nearly, I believe, if not quite, in the order in which the places had been mentioned in his diary; and in due time news came from Ceylon that there was a revival of religion there. The revival in his own town did not commence till after his death. Its commencement was at the time when his widow put into my hands the document to which I have referred. She told me that he was so exercised in prayer during his sickness, that she often feared he would "pray himself to death." The revival was exceedingly great and powerful in all the region, and the fact that it was about to prevail had not been hidden from this servant of the Lord. According to His Word, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him" (Psalm 25:14). Thus, this man, too feeble in body to go out of his house, was yet more useful to the world and the Church of God than all the heartless professors in the country. Standing between God and the desolations of Zion, and pouring out his heart in believing prayer, "as a prince he had power with God and with men, and prevailed" (Genesis 32:28).
11. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will not find yourselves distressed, and galled, and worried, when people speak against you. When
I find people irritated and fretting at any little thing that touches them, I am sure they have not the Spirit of Christ. Jesus Christ could have everything said against Him that malice could invent, and yet not be in the least disturbed by it. If you mean to be meek under persecution, and exemplify the temper of the Savior, and honor religion in this way, you need to be filled with the Spirit.
12. You will be wise in using means for the conversion of sinners. If the Spirit of God is in you, He will lead you to use means wisely, in a way adapted to the end, and to avoid doing hurt. 29 No man who is not filled with the Spirit of God is fit to be employed in directing the measures adopted in a revival. His hands will be "all thumbs," unable to take hold, and he will act as if he had not common sense. But a man who is led by the Spirit of God will know how to time his measures aright, and how to apportion Divine truth so as to make it tell to the best advantage.
13. You will be calm under affliction; not thrown into confusion or consternation when you see the storm coming over you. People around will be astonished at your calmness and cheerfulness under heavy trials, not knowing the inward supports of those who are filled with the Spirit.
14. You will be resigned in death; you will always feel prepared to die, and not afraid to die; and after death you will be proportionately more happy for ever in heaven.
VI. THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.
1. You will often doubt, in such a case, and reasonably so whether you are a Christian. You will have doubts, and you ought to have them, for the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, and if you are not led by the Spirit, what reason have you to think that you are a son? You will try to make a little evidence go a great way to bolster up your hopes; but you cannot do it, unless your conscience is seared as with a hot iron. You cannot help being plunged often into painful doubt about your state (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 13:5).
2. You will always be unsettled in your views about the prayer of faith.
The prayer of faith is something so spiritual, so much a matter of experience and not of speculation, that unless you are spiritual yourselves you will not understand it fully. You may talk a great deal about the prayer of faith, and for the time get thoroughly convinced regarding it. But you will never feel so settled on it as to retain the same position of mind concerning it, and in a little while you will be all uncertainty again. I knew a curious instance in a brother minister. He told me: "When I have the Spirit of God and enjoy His presence, I believe firmly in the prayer of faith; but when I have Him not, I find myself doubting whether there is any such thing, and my mind is full of objections." I know, from my own experience, what this is, and when I hear persons raising objections to that view of prayer which I have presented in these Lectures, I understand very well what their difficulty is, and have often found it impossible to satisfy their minds, while they are so far from God; when, at the same time, they would understand it themselves without argument, whenever they experienced it.
3. If you have not the Spirit, you will be very apt to stumble at those who have. You will doubt the propriety of their conduct. If they seem to feel a good deal more than yourself, you will be likely to call it "animal feeling."
You will perhaps doubt their sincerity when they say they have such feelings You will say: "I don't know what to make of Brother Such-a-one; he seems to be very pious, but I do not understand him, I think he has a great deal of animal feeling." Thus you will be trying to censure them, for the purpose of justifying yourself.
4. You will be had in reputation with the unrepentant, and with carnal professors. They will praise you, as "a rational, orthodox, consistent Christian." You will be just in the frame of mind to walk with them, because you are agreed.
6. You will be much disturbed by the measures that are used in revivals. If any measures are adopted, that are decided and direct, you will think they are all "new," and will stumble at them just in proportion to your want of spirituality. You do not see their appropriateness. You will stand and cavil at the measures, because you are so blind that you cannot see their adaptedness, while all heaven is rejoicing in them as the means of saving souls.
7. You will be a reproach to religion. The unrepentant will sometimes praise you because you are so much like themselves, and sometimes laugh about you because you are such a hypocrite.
8. You will know but little about the Bible.
9. If you die without the Spirit, you will fall into hell. There can be no doubt about this. Without the Spirit you will never be prepared for heaven.
2. They are even more so. As they have more light, they are so much the more guilty.
3. All beings have a right to complain of Christians who have not the Spirit. You are not doing work for God, and He has a right to complain. He has placed His Spirit at your disposal, and if you have not the Spirit, God has a right to look to you and to hold you responsible for all the good you might otherwise do. You are sinning against all heaven, for you ought to be adding to the happy ranks of the redeemed. Sinners, the Church, and ministers, all have a right to complain.
4. You are an obstacle in the way of the work of the Lord. It is in vain for a minister to try to work over your head. Ministers often groan and struggle, and wear themselves out in vain, trying to do good where there is a people who live so that they do not have the Spirit of God. If the Spirit is poured out at any time, the Church will grieve Him right away. Thus, you may tie the hands and break the heart of your minister, and break him down, and perhaps kill him, because you will not be filled with the Spirit.
5. You see the reason why Christians need the Spirit, and the degree of their dependence upon Him.
6. Do not tempt God by "waiting" for His Spirit, while using no means to procure His presence.
7. If you mean to have the Spirit, you must be childlike, and yield to His influences - just as yielding as air. If He is drawing you to prayer, you must quit everything to yield to His gentle strivings. No doubt you have sometimes felt a desire to pray for some object, and you have put it off and resisted, until God left you. If you wish Him to remain, you must yield to His softest leadings, watch to learn what He would have you do and yield yourself up to His guidance.
8. Christians ought to be willing to make any sacrifice to enjoy the presence of the Spirit. Said a woman in high life (a professor of religion): "I must either give up hearing such-and-such a minister [naming him] preach, or I must give up my gay company." She gave up the preaching and stayed away. How different from another case - that of a woman in the same rank of life - who heard the same minister preach, and went home resolved to abandon her gay and worldly manner of life. She changed her whole mode of dress, of equipage, of living, and of conversation; so that her gay and worldly friends were soon willing to leave her to the enjoyment of communion with God, and free to spend her time in doing good.
10. See how crazy those are who are scrambling to get up to these circles, enlarging their houses, changing their style of living, their dress, and their furniture. It is like climbing up to the mast-head to be thrown off into the ocean. To enjoy God, you must come down, not go up there. God is not there, among all the starch and flattery of high life.
11. Many professors of religion are as ignorant of spirituality as Nicodemus was of the New Birth. They are ignorant, and I fear unconverted. If anybody talks to them about the spirit of prayer, it is all algebra to them. The case of such professors is awful. How different was the character of the apostles! Read the history of their lives, read their letters, and you will see that they were always spiritual, and walked daily with God. But now how little is there of such religion! "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8.) Set some of these professors to work in a revival, and they do not know what to do, for they have no energy, no skills and make no impression. When will professors of religion set themselves to work, filled with the Spirit? If I could see this Church filled with the Spirit, I would ask nothing more to move this whole mighty mass of minds around us. Not two weeks would pass before the revival would spread all over this city.