FB Meyer (1847-1929): The Fruit of The Spirit – Faith


F.B. Meyer (1847-1929)

(Daily Devotional)

Copyright: Public Domain

“Let us hold fast the profession of our Faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.”—Hebrews 10:23.

FAITH IS an attribute of the heart, rather than of the head. It is largely intuitive in its first promptings. It is impossible to argue men into faith. Do not think, discuss, or reason too much about Faith, or you will miss it. It is like Love in this, that when you turn the dissecting knife on it for the purpose of analysis, its spirit and life vanish, leaving only the faded relics of what was once a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. If, however, turning from Faith to any object which is worthy of it, you concentrate heart and mind there, almost unconsciously Faith will have arisen and thriven to maturity.

Faith has two kinds of objective, first a person, and secondly a statement. When we are drawn powerfully towards a person, so as to feel able to entrust our soul, our destiny, our most precious possessions to His care, with an inward feeling of tranquility and certainty that all is safe with Him, and that He will do better for us than we could do for ourselves, that is faith.

We may be attracted by a statement, which appeals to our moral sense; it is consistent with the decisions of our conscience; or perhaps, as the utterance of One in whom we repose utter confidence, it commends itself to us for His sake. We accept that statement; we rest on it. We believe that what it attests as fact either did happen or will happen. We are as sure of it as though we have been able to attest it by our senses of sight, hearing, or touch. That also is faith. “Faith is a well grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of the unseen” (Hebrews 11:1. Weymouth).

We must indicate a difference between this faith and “the faith once delivered to the saints.” The former is the heart that accepts, and the hand that reaches out to obtain; the latter is the body of Truth to be accepted.

Out of faith comes faithfulness. Faith is your trust in another; faithfulness is your worthiness to be trusted. A faithful soul, one that can be absolutely relied upon, is of great price. Nothing so quickens our faith as to meditate on God’s absolute trustworthiness. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”



Give us faith in Thy love that never wearies or faints. Whatever else we doubt, may we never question the perfectness of Thy lovingkindness. Fulfill in us the good pleasure of Thy will, and the work of faith with power. AMEN.


FB Meyer (1847-1929): The Fruit of The Spirit — Gentleness


F.B. Meyer (Daily Devotional)

Copyright: Public Domain

“The Lord’s servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all… forbearing.” —


2Timothy 2:24.

IT IS not easy to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit because it has many counterfeits. Some people are naturally easy-going, devoid of energy and ambition, at heart cowardly, or in spirit mean. Many of us are characterized by a moral weakness and decrepitude that make it easy for us to yield rather than contest in the physical or intellectual arena.

But in gentleness there must be the consciousness of a considerable reserve of force. The gentleness of God is combined with omnipotence. The movements of creation, in which there is neither voice nor language, prove the infinite forces which are at work. When a boy is trying to lift or carry a heavy beam, as likely as not there will be a great crash when he reaches the end of his task, and puts it on the ground. His strength is so nearly exhausted that he is only too glad to get rid of his burden, anyhow, and at any cost. But if a strong man shoulders the same burden, and carries it for the same distance, he puts it down gently, because he has not taxed his strength and has plenty left.

It is the prerogative of great strength to be gentle. Always remember that you are linked with the Infinite God, and that all things are possible to you. There must also be infinite pity. We must be tolerant and pitiful to those who abuse us, or have been embittered by disappointment, or have been ill-used. It must be our aim to make allowances for such, and always to be sweetly reasonable towards any brusqueness, rudeness and bad manners of their behaviour. Let us be willing to admit that much is due to congenital moroseness. Therefore, we bear gently with the erring, and with those who are out of the way, because we also are encompassed with infirmity.

It is necessary also that there should be a deep humility. Thomas a Kempis says: “If thou wilt be borne with, bear also with another. Endeavour to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, what sort soever they be: for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne by others.” Our resentment against others should be always tempered by our remembrance of our own sins. So shall we be God’s own gentlefolk.



O God, our behaviour has not manifested all the fruits of the Spirit, or been full of the graciousness and gentleness of Christ. Forgive us, and enable us so to live that His beauty may be on our faces, the tone of His voice in our speech, the gentleness of His tread in our steps, the unselfishness of His deeds in our hands. AMEN.

FB Meyer (1847-1929): Witness-Bearing for Christ


F.B. Meyer (Daily Devotional)

This is believed to be in the Public Domain

“Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”– Acts 1:8.

ALL MACHINERY needs driving-power. A motor-car may be bright and new, the wheels tired with rubber, and it may contain the latest contrivances for speed and comfort, but it will not move an inch until the driving-power is applied. So it is with the Gospel message. Christ died and rose again, and the work of redemption was finished. His disciples were appointed to carry the tidings of salvation to the world of men, but they could do nothing until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a serious question for each of us–Have I received the Holy Spirit, to be in me the source of power? (Acts 19:2). If not, is it to be wondered at that we are weak, and our testimony for Christ faltering?

Notice the circles of our life: witnesses in Jerusalem, our home; in Judaea–the society in which we mingle and work; in Samaria–the city or town or village in which we live; the uttermost part of the earth, which represents the claim of the heathen world upon us all. For each of these we have some responsibility. Let us begin at Jerusalem, in our home, and God will lead us on step by step to the great world beyond. Alas, there are many who are eager enough for the “uttermost parts,” while they neglect Jerusalem, and ignore the claims of Judaea!

God wants witnesses. A witness is not expected to reason or argue, but simply to state what he saw or heard, and to give facts. We are required to tell people what we have found Jesus to be to ourselves–to say what we have known and tasted and handled of the Word of Life (1John 1:1-3). Our witness-box may be the shop in which we are employed, or the position in life where we are daily called to rub shoulders with those who know not Christ. Men cannot see Him, unless they see Him in us. As the moon reflects the sun during the dark hours of the night, so the Church of Christ bears witness to her unseen Lord. In every emergency, let us lift our hearts to Christ, and ask that His Holy Spirit may enable us to be true witnesses for His glory.


My gracious Master and my God,

Assist me to proclaim

And spread through all the earth abroad

The honours of Thy Name.


FB Meyer (1847-1929): The Leading of the Spirit



F.B. Meyer (Daily Devotional)

This is believed to be in the Public Domain

“Teach me to do Thy Will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”– Psalm 143:10.


TEACH ME to do Thy Will, i.e. throw the responsibility of your life back on God. The one important thing for you to be absolutely sure about is that you desire, at all costs, to do God’s Will. If you do not so desire, at least you must be willing to be made willing. Cast on God this burden of making you willing, and believe that He undertakes it. His people shall be made willing in the day of His power. When this point is settled, then God by His Holy Spirit will sooner or later teach you what He wants to be done, and enable you to do it. Like Samuel, if you say: Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth, you will hear the Voice behind you saying, This is the way, walk in it; this must be said, say it; this needs to be done, do it; and as you endeavour to obey the gentle promptings of the Spirit, you will discover that adequate strength and grace are being poured into your soul.

“Thy Spirit is good.” There is our only hope. If it were not for the infinite goodness, the patient gentleness, the loving forbearance of the Holy Spirit, we could have no chance, for nothing but infinite Goodness could bear with our frailties and backslidings, our lapses into coldness and indifference, our perverseness and obstinacy. But because God’s Spirit is good, we may reckon on Him pervading us with His holy influence till our evil nature is overcome by His goodness, and we also in our measure become good. It is said of Barnabas that he was a “good man,” because he was full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.

“Lead me.” The Psalmist’s prayer is–Teach me, lead me, quicken me. Let us make this prayer our own. What better guarantee of being led aright than for us to yield ourselves to our gentle gracious Guide. We are like little children that require to be led, as the mother or nurse takes the child by the hand and leads him to the school-house, and fetches him again. Some of us are blind, and need a kindly hand to guide us as we grope in the dark. Let us walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and be very sensitive to the Spirit. Then we shall instinctively know God’s Will, and do it.



I need a hand to lead me through the darkness,

For I am weak and helpless as a child;

And if alone I have to take my journey,

My feet will stumble on the mountains wild.


FB Meyer (1847-1929): The Indwelling Spirit


F.B. Meyer (Daily Devotional)

This is believed to be in the Public Domain

 “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”—John 14:16.

THE GIFT of the Holy Spirit was due to the intercession of our Lord, and St. Peter refers to it when he says: “Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33). In 1John 2:1 (R.V.) marg. the word Comforter is translated Advocate–“One who makes us strong by His presence, as Helper, Guide, and Instructor.” Think what this means, to have always beside us, not a vague influence, but a Divine Person, who waits to be our strength in weakness, our peace in trouble, our wisdom in perplexity, our conqueror in temptations, our consoler in sorrow. The Lord meant that the Holy Spirit should be to us all that He Himself had been. This is the meaning of Another. There are two Advocates, or two Paracletes. When the One ascended to the glory, the Other descended into the hearts of His disciples. “He abideth with you, and shall be in you.”

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Christ had been speaking of sending Another; now He says, I am coming Myself, so that we learn that He is so indissoluble One with the Holy Spirit, Whom He sends, that the coming of the Spirit is His own coming. Do not look for the Spirit apart from Jesus. As the sun comes in the light, so does Jesus come in the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, we shall not think of Him, but of Jesus to whom He bears witness, and when our hearts are taken up with the Lord, we may know that we have received Him, who is the Gift of gifts.

Open your whole nature to the entrance of the Holy Spirit. Unlock every door, uncurtain every window, that entering He may fill you with the glorious indwelling of the Father and the Son. “I will prepare a “mansion,” Jesus said; and, “We will make the holy soul Our Mansion.”

“‘He shall teach you all things.” His lesson-book is the life and words of our blessed Lord. We may think that we are fully informed of all that He has said, but as we study the Bible, the Holy Spirit brings us back to them again and again, always revealing new light, and undreamt of depths. Never let a day pass without reading some of the words of Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.



Thou hast not left us comfortless, O God. May life be renewed in its springs, by the gracious operation of Thy Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and leading us from grace to grace. AMEN.

George Whitefield (1714-1770): The Holy Spirit convincing the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment

The Holy Spirit convincing the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment


George Whitefield (1714-1770)

Copyright: Public Domain

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The Holy Spirit convincing the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment (John 16:8)

John 16:8, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”


These words contain part of a gracious promise, which the blessed Jesus was pleased to make to his weeping and sorrowful disciples. The time was now drawing near, in which the Son of man was first to be lifted up on the cross, and afterwards to heaven. Kind, wondrous kind! Had this merciful High-priest been to his disciples, during the time of his tabernacling amongst them. He had compassion on their infirmities, answered for them when assaulted by their enemies, and set them right when out of the way, either in principle or practice. He neither called nor used them as servants, but as friends; and he revealed his secrets to them from time to time. He opened their understandings, that they might understand the scriptures; explained to them the hidden mysteries of the kingdom of God, when he spoke to others in parables: nay, he became the servant of them all, and even condescended to wash their feet. The thoughts of parting with so dear and loving a Master as this, especially for a long season, must needs affect them much. When on a certain occasion he intended to be absent from them only for a night, we are told, he was obliged to constrain them to leave him; no wonder then, that when he now informed them he must entirely go away, and that the Pharisees in his absence should put them out of their synagogues, and excommunicate them; yea, that the time should come, that whosoever killed them, would think they did God service (a prophecy, one would imagine, in an especial manner designed for the suffering ministers of this generation); no wonder, I say, considering all this, that we are told, ver. 6. Sorrow had filled their hearts: “Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts.” The expression is very emphatical; their hearts were so full of concern, that they were ready to burst. In order, therefore, to reconcile them to this mournful dispensation, our dear and compassionate Redeemer shows them the necessity he lay under to leave them; “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away:” As though he had said, Think not, my dear disciples, that I leave you out of anger: no, it is for your sakes, for your profit, that I go away: for if I go not away, if I die not upon the cross for your sins, and rise again for your justification, and ascend into heaven to make intercession, and plead my merits before my Father’s throne; the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, will not, cannot come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And that they might know what he was to do, “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”



The person referred to in the words of the text, is plainly the Comforter, the Holy Ghost; and the promise was first made to our Lord’s apostles. But though it was primarily made to them, and was literally and remarkably fulfilled at the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came down as a mighty rushing wind, and also when three thousand were pricked to the heart by Peter’s preaching; yet, as the Apostles were the representatives of the whole body of believers, we must infer, that this promise must be looked upon as spoken to us, and to our children, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call.

My design from these words, is to show the manner in which the Holy Ghost generally works upon the hearts of those, who, through grace, are made vessels of mercy, and translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

I say, GENERALLY: For, as God is a sovereign agent, his sacred Spirit bloweth not only on whom, but when and how it listeth. Therefore, far be it from me to confine the Almighty to one way of acting, or say, that all undergo an equal degree of conviction: no, there is a holy variety in God’s methods of calling home his elect. But this we may affirm assuredly, that, wherever there is a work of true conviction and conversion wrought upon a sinner’s heart, the Holy Ghost, whether by a greater or less degree of inward soul-trouble, does that which our Lord Jesus told the disciples, in the words of the text, that he should do when he came.

If any of you ridicule inward-religion, or think there is no such thing as our feeling or receiving the Holy Ghost, I fear my preaching will be quite foolishness to you, and that you will understand me no more than if I spoke to you in an unknown tongue. But as the promise in the text, is made to the world, and as I know it will be fulfilling till time shall be no more, I shall proceed to explain the general way whereby the Holy Ghost works upon every converted sinner’s heart; and I hope that the Lord, even whilst I am speaking, will be pleased to fulfill it in many of your hearts. “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.”

The word, which we translate reprove, ought to be rendered convince; and in the original it implies a conviction by way of argumentation, and coming with a power upon the mind equal to a demonstration. A great many scoffers of these last days, will ask such as they term pretenders to the Spirit, how they feel the Spirit, and how they know the Spirit? They might as well ask, how they know, and how they feel the sun when it shines upon the body? For with equal power and demonstration does the Spirit of God work upon and convince the soul. And,

FIRST, It convinces of sin; and generally of some enormous sin, the worst perhaps the convicted person ever was guilty of. Thus, when our Lord was conversing with the woman of Samaria, he convinced her first of her adultery: “Woman, go call thy husband. The woman answered, and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband: in this saidst thou truly.” With this there went such a powerful conviction of all her other actual sins, that soon after, “she left her water-pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, and see a man that told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” Thus our Lord also dealt with the persecutor Saul: he convinced him first of the horrid sin of persecution; “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Such a sense of all his other sins, probably at the same time revived in his mind, that immediately he died; that is, died to all his false confidences, and was thrown into such an agony of soul, that he continued three days, and neither did eat nor drink. This is the method the Spirit of God generally takes in dealing with sinners; he first convinces them of some heinous actual sin, and at the same time brings all their other sins into remembrance, and as it were sets them in battle-array before them: “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin.

And was it ever thus with you, my dear hearers? (For I must question you as I go along, because I intend, by the Divine help, to preach not only to your heads, but your hearts). Did the Spirit of God ever bring all your sins thus to remembrance, and make you cry out to God, “Thou writest bitter things against me?” Did your actual sins ever appear before you, as though drawn in a map? If not, you have great reason (unless you were sanctified from the womb) to suspect that you are not convicted, much more not converted, and that the promise of the text was never yet fulfilled in your hearts.

Farther: When the Comforter comes into a sinner’s heart, though it generally convinces the sinner of his actual sin first, yet it leads him to see and bewail his original sin, the fountain from which all these polluted streams do flow.

Though every thing in the earth, air, and water; every thing both without and within, concur to prove the truth of that assertion in the scripture, “in Adam we all have died;” yet most are so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, that notwithstanding they may give an assent, to the truth of the proposition in their heads, yet they never felt it really in their hearts. Nay, some in words professedly deny it, though their works too, too plainly prove them to be degenerate sons of a degenerate father. But when the Comforter, the Spirit of God, arrests a sinner, and convinces him of sin, all carnal reasoning against original corruption, every proud and high imagination, which exalteth itself against that doctrine, is immediately thrown down; and he is made to cry out, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He now finds that concupiscence is sin; and does not so much bewail his actual sins, as the inward perverseness of his heart, which he now finds not only to be an enemy to, but also direct enmity against God.

And did the Comforter, my dear friends, ever come with such a convincing power as this unto your hearts? Were you ever made to see and feel, that in your flesh dwelleth no good thing; that you are conceived and born in sin; that you are by nature children of wrath; that God would be just if he damned you, though you never committed an actual sin in your lives? So often as you have been at church and sacrament, did you ever feelingly confess, that there was no health in you; that the remembrance of your original and actual sins was grievous unto you, and the burden of them intolerable? If not, you have been only offering to God vain oblations; you never yet prayed in your lives; the Comforter never yet came effectually into your souls: consequently you are not in the faith properly so called; no, you are at present in a state of death and damnation.

Again, the Comforter, when he comes effectually to work upon a sinner, not only convinces him of the sin of his nature, and the sin of his life, but also of the sin of his duties.

We all naturally are Legalists, thinking to be justified by the works of the law. When somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, we immediately, like the Pharisees of old, go about to establish our own righteousness, and think we shall find acceptance with God, if we seek it with tears: finding ourselves damned by nature and our actual sins, we then think to recommend ourselves to God by our duties, and hope, by our doings of one kind or another, to inherit eternal life. But, whenever the Comforter comes into the heart, it convinces the soul of these false rests, and makes the sinner so see that all his righteousnesses are but filthy rags; and that, for the most pompous services, he deserves no better a doom than that of the unprofitable servant, “to be thrown into outer darkness, where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”

And was this degree of conviction ever wrought in any of your souls? Did the Comforter ever come into your hearts, so as to make you sick of your duties, as well as your sins? Were you ever, with the great Apostle of the Gentiles, made to abhor your own righteousness which is by the law, and acknowledge that you deserve to be damned, though you should give all your goods to feed the poor? Were you made to feel, that your very repentance needed to be repented of, and that every thing in yourselves is but dung and dross? And that all the arguments you can fetch for mercy, must be out of the heart and pure unmerited love of God? Were you ever made to lie at the feet of sovereign Grace, and to say, Lord, if thou wilt, thou mayest save me; if not, thou mayest justly damn me; I have nothing to plead, I can in no wise justify myself in thy sight; my best performances, I see, will condemn me; and all I have to depend upon is thy free grace? What say you? Was this ever, or is this now, the habitual language of your hearts? You have been frequently at the temple; but did you ever approach it in the temper of the poor Publican, and, after you have done all, acknowledge that you have done nothing; and, upon a feeling experimental sense of your own unworthiness and sinfulness every way, smite upon your breasts, and say, “God be merciful to us sinners?” If you never were thus minded, the Comforter never yet effectually came into your souls, you are out of Christ; and if God should require your souls in that condition, he would be no better to you than a consuming fire.

But there is a fourth sin, of which the Comforter, when he comes, convinces the soul, and which alone (it is very remarkable) our Lord mentions, as though it was the only sin worth mentioning; for indeed it is the root of all other sins whatsoever: it is the reigning as well as the damning sin of the world. And what now do you imagine that sin may be? It is that cursed sin, that root of all other evils, I mean the sin of unbelief. Says our Lord, verse 9. “Of sin, because they believe not on me.”

But does the Christian world, or any of you that hear me this day, want the Holy Ghost to convince you of unbelief? Are there any infidels here? Yes, (O that I had not too great reason to think so!) I fear most are such: not indeed such infidels as professedly deny the Lord that bought us (though I fear too many even of such monsters are in every country); but I mean such unbelievers, that have no more faith than the devils themselves. Perhaps you may think you believe, because you repeat the Creed, or subscribe to a Confession of Faith; because you go to church or meeting, receive the sacrament, and are taken into full communion. These are blessed privileges; but all this may be done, without our being true believers. And I know not how to detect your false hypocritical faith better, than by putting to you this question: How long have you believed? Would not most of you say, as long as we can remember; we never did disbelieve? Then this is a certain sign that you have no true faith at all; no, not so much as a grain of mustard-seed: for, if you believe now, (unless you were sanctified from your infancy, which is the case of some) you must know that there was a time in which you did not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost, if ever you received it, convinced you of this. Eternal truth has declared, “When he is come, he will convince the world of sin, because they believe not on me.”

None of us believe by nature: but after the Holy Ghost has convinced us of the sin of our natures, and the sin of our lives and duties, in order to convince us of our utter inability to save ourselves, and that we must be beholden to God, as for every thing else, so for faith (without which it is impossible to please, or be saved by Christ) he convinces us also, that we have no faith. “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” is the grand question which the Holy Ghost now puts to the soul: at the same time he works with such power and demonstration, that the soul sees, and is obliged to confess, that it has no faith.

This is a thing little thought of by most who call themselves believers. They dream they are Christians, because they live in a Christian country: If they were born Turks, they would believe on Mohammed; for what is that which men commonly call faith, but an outward consent to the established religion? But do not you thus deceive your own selves; true faith is quite another thing. Ask yourselves, therefore, whether or not the Holy Ghost ever powerfully convinced you of the sin of unbelief? You are perhaps so devout (you may imagine) as to get a catalogue of sins; which you look over, and confess in a formal manner, as often as you go to the holy sacrament: but among all your suns, did you ever once confess and bewail that damning sin of unbelief? Were you ever made to cry out, “Lord, give me faith; Lord, give me to believe on thee; O that I had faith! O that I could believe!” If you never were thus distressed, at least, if you never saw and felt that you had no faith, it is a certain sign that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, never came into and worked savingly upon your souls.

But is it not odd, that the Holy Ghost should be called a Comforter, when it is plain, by the experience of all God’s children, that this work of conviction is usually attended with sore inward conflicts, and a great deal of soul-trouble? I answer, The Holy Ghost may well be termed a Comforter, even in this work; because it is the only way to, and ends in, true solid comfort. Blessed are they that are thus convicted by him, for they shall be comforted. Nay, not only so, but there is present comfort, even in the midst of these convictions: the soul secretly rejoices in the sight of its own misery, blesses God for bringing it out of darkness into light, and looks forward with a comfortable prospect of future deliverances, knowing, that, “though sorrow may endure for a night, joy will come in the morning.”

Thus it is that the Holy Ghost convinces the soul of sin. And, if so, how wretchedly are they mistaken, that blend the light of the Spirit with the light of conscience, as all such do, who say, that Christ lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and that light, if improved, will bring us to Jesus Christ? If such doctrine be true, the promise in the text was needless: our Lord’s apostles had already that light; the world hereafter to be convinced, had that light; and, if that was sufficient to bring them to Christ, why was it expedient that Christ should go away to heaven, to send down the Holy Ghost to do this for them! Alas! all have not this Spirit: it is the special gift of God, and, without this special gift, we can never come to Christ.

The light of conscience will accuse or convince us of any common sin; but the light of natural conscience never did, never will, and never can, convince of unbelief. If it could, how comes it to pass, that not one of the heathens, who improved the light of nature in such an eminent degree, was ever convinced of unbelief? No, natural conscience cannot effect this; it is the peculiar property of the Holy Ghost the Comforter: “When he is come, he will reprove (or convince) the world of sin, of righteousness, and judgment.”

We have heard how he convinces of sin: we come not to show,

SECONDLY, What is the righteousness, of which the Comforter convinces the world.

By the word righteousness, in some places of scripture, we are to understand that common justice which we ought to practice between man and man; as when Paul is said to reason of temperance and righteousness before a trembling Felix. But here (as in a multitude of other places in holy writ) we are to understand by the word righteousness, the active and passive obedience of the dear Lord Jesus; even that perfect, personal, all-sufficient righteousness, which he has wrought out for that world which the Spirit is to convince. “Of righteousness, (says our Lord) because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more.” This is one argument that the Holy Spirit makes use of to prove Christ’s righteousness, because he is gone to the Father, and we see him no more. For, had he not wrought out a sufficient righteousness, the Father would have sent him back, as not having done what he undertook; and we should have seen him again.

O the righteousness of Christ! It so comforts my soul, that I must be excused if I mention it in almost all my discourses. I would not, if I could help it, have one sermon without it. Whatever infidels may object, or Arminians sophistically argue against an imputed righteousness; yet whoever know themselves and God, must acknowledge, that “Jesus Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, (and perfect justification in the sight of God) to every one that believeth,” and that we are to be made the righteousness of God in him. This, and this only, a poor sinner can lay hold of, as a sure anchor of his hope. Whatever other scheme of salvation men may lay, I acknowledge I can see no other foundation whereon to build my hopes of salvation, but on the rock of Christ’s personal righteousness, imputed to my soul.

Many, I believe, have a rational conviction of, and agree with me in this: but rational convictions, if rested in, avail but little; it must be a spiritual, experimental conviction of the truth, which is saving. And therefore our Lord says, when the Holy Ghost comes in the day of his power, it convinces of this righteousness, of the reality, completeness, and sufficiency of it, to save a poor sinner.

We have seen how the Holy Ghost convinces the sinner of the sin of his nature, life, duties, and of the sin of unbelief; and what then must the poor creature do? He must, he must inevitably despair, if there be no hope but in himself. When therefore the Spirit has hunted the sinner out of all his false rests and hiding-places, taken off the pitiful fig-leaves of his own works, and driven him out of the trees of the garden (his outward reformations) and place him naked before the bar of a sovereign, holy, just, and sin-avenging God; then, then it is, when the soul, having the sentence of death within itself because of unbelief, has a sweet display of Christ’s righteousness made to it by the Holy Spirit of God. Here it is, that he begins more immediately to act in the quality of a Comforter, and convinces the soul so powerfully of the reality and all-sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness, that the soul is immediately set a hungering and thirsting after it. Now the sinner begins to see, that though he has destroyed himself, yet in Christ is his help; that, though he has no righteousness of his own to recommend him, there is a fullness of grace, a fullness of truth, a fullness of righteousness in the dear Lord Jesus, which, if once imputed to him, will make him happy for ever and ever.

None can tell, but those happy souls who have experienced it, with what demonstration of the Spirit this conviction comes. O how amiable, as well as all-sufficient, does the blessed Jesus now appear! With what new eyes does the soul now see the Lord its righteousness! Brethren, it is unutterable. If you were never thus convinced of Christ’s righteousness in your own souls, though you may believe it doctrinally, it will avail you nothing, if the Comforter never came savingly into your souls, then you are comfortless indeed. But

What will this righteousness avail, if the soul has it not in possession?

THIRDLY, The next thing therefore the Comforter, when he comes, convinces the soul of, is judgment.

By the word judgment, I understand that well-grounded peace, that settled judgment, which the soul forms of itself, when it is enabled by the Spirit of God to lay hold on Christ’s righteousness, which I believe it always does, when convinced in the matter before-mentioned. “Of judgment (says our Lord) because the Prince of this world is judged;” the soul, being enabled to lay hold on Christ’s perfect righteousness by a lively faith, has a conviction wrought in it by the Holy Spirit, that the Prince of this world is judged. The soul being now justified by faith, has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and can triumphantly say, It is Christ that justifies me, who is he that condemns me? The strong man armed is now cast out; my soul is in a true peace; the Prince of this world will come and accuse, but he has now no share in me: the blessed Spirit which I have received, and whereby I am enabled to apply Christ’s righteousness to my poor soul, powerfully convinces me of this: why should I fear? Or of what shall I be afraid, since God’s Spirit witnesses with my spirit, that I am a child of God? The Lord is ascended up on high; he has led captivity captive; he has received the Holy Ghost the Comforter, that best of gifts for men: and that Comforter is come into my heart: he is faithful that hath promised: I, even I, am powerfully, rationally, spiritually convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment. By this I know the Prince of this world is judged.

Thus, I say, may we suppose that soul to triumph, in which the promise of the text is happily fulfilled. And though, at the beginning of this discourse, I said, most had never experienced any thing of this, and that therefore this preaching must be foolishness to such; yet I doubt not but there are some few happy souls, who, through grace, have been enabled to follow me step by step; and notwithstanding the Holy Ghost might not directly work in the same order as I have described, and perhaps they cannot exactly say the time when, yet they have a well-grounded confidence that the work is done, and that they have really been convinced of sin, righteousness and judgment in some way, or at some time or another.

And now, what shall I say to you? O thank God, thank the Lord Jesus, thank the ever-blessed Trinity, for this unspeakable gift: for you would never have been thus highly favored, had not he who first spoke darkness into light, loved you with an everlasting love, and enlightened you by his Holy Spirit, and that too, not on account of any good thing foreseen in you, but for his own name’s sake.

Be humble therefore, O believers, be humble: look to the rock from whence you have been hewn: extol free grace; admire electing love, which alone has made you to differ from the rest of your brethren. Has God brought you into light? Walk as becometh children of light. Provoke not the Holy Spirit to depart from you: for though he hath sealed you to the day of redemption, and you know that the Prince of this world is judged; yet if you backslide, grow luke-warm, or forget your first love, the Lord will visit your offenses with the rod of affliction, and your sin with spiritual scourges. Be not therefore high-minded, but fear. Rejoice, but let it be with trembling. As the elect of God, put on, not only humbleness of mind, but bowels of compassion; and pray, O pray for your unconverted brethren! Help me, help me now, O children of God, and hold up my hands, as Aaron and Hur once held up the hands of Moses. Pray, whilst I am preaching, that the Lord may enable me to say, This day is the promise in the text fulfilled in some poor sinners hearts. Cry mightily to God, and, with the cords of holy violence, pull down blessings on your neighbors heads. Christ yet lives and reigns in heaven: the residue of the Spirit is yet in his hand, and a plentiful effusion of it is promises in the latter days of the church. And O that the Holy Ghost, the blessed Comforter, would now come down, and convince those that are Christless amongst you, of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment! O that you were once made willing to be convinced!

But perhaps you had rather be filled with wine than with the Spirit, and are daily chasing that Holy Ghost from your souls. What shall I say for you to God? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” What shall I say from God to you? Why? That “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself:” Therefore I beseech you, as in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. Do not go away contradicting and blaspheming. I know Satan would have you be gone. Many of you may be uneasy, and are ready to cry out, “What a weariness is this!” But I will not let you go: I have wrestled with God for my hearers in private, and I must wrestle with you here in public. Though of myself I can do nothing, and you can no more by your own power come to and believe on Christ, than Lazarus could come forth from the grave; yet who knows but God may beget some of you again to a lively hope by this foolishness of preaching, and that you may be some of that world, which the Comforter is to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment? Poor Christless souls! Do you know what a condition you are in? Why, you are lying in the wicked one, the devil; he rules in you, he walks and dwells in you, unless you dwell in Christ, and the Comforter is come into your hearts. And will you contentedly lie in that wicked one that devil? What wages will he give you? Eternal death. O that you would come to Christ! The free gift of God through him is eternal life. He will accept of you even now, if you will believe in him. The Comforter may yet come into your hearts, even yours. All that are now his living temples, were once lying in the wicked one, as well as you. This blessed gift, this Holy Ghost, the blessed Jesus received even for the rebellious.

I see many of you affected: but are your passions only a little wrought upon, or are your souls really touched with a lively sense of the heinousness of your sins, your want of faith, and the preciousness of the righteousness of Jesus Christ? If so, I hope the Lord has been gracious, and that the Comforter is coming into your hearts. Do not stifle these convictions! Do not go away, and straightway forget what manner of doctrine you have heard, and thereby show that these are only common workings of a few transient convictions, floating upon the surface of your hearts. Beg of God that you may be sincere (for he alone can make you so) and that you may indeed desire the promise of the text to be fulfilled in your souls. Who knows but the Lord may be gracious? Remember you have no plea but sovereign mercy; but, for your encouragement also, remember it is the world, such as you are, to whom the Comforter is to come, and whom he is to convince: wait therefore at wisdom’s gates. The bare probability of having a door of mercy opened, is enough to keep you striving. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, the chief of them: you know not but he came to save you. Do not go and quarrel with God’s decrees, and say, if I am a reprobate, I shall be damned; if I am elected, I shall be saved; and therefore I will do nothing. What have you to do with God’s decrees? Secret things belong to him; it is your business to “give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.” If there are but few who find the way that leads to life, do you strive to be some of them: you know not but you may be in the number of those few, and that your striving may be the means which God intends to bless, to give you an entrance in. If you do not act thus, you are not sincere; and, if you do, who knows but you may find mercy? For though, after you have done all that you can, God may justly cut you off, yet never was a single person damned who did all that he could. Though therefore your hands are withered, stretch them out; though you are impotent, sick, and lame, come, lie at the pool. Who knows but by and by the Lord Jesus may have compassion on you, and send the Comforter to convince you of sin, righteousness, and of judgment? He is a God full of compassion and long-suffering, otherwise you and I had been long since lifted up our eyes in torments. But still he is patient with us!

O Christless sinners, you are alive, and who knows but God intends to bring you to repentance? Could my prayers or tears affect it, you should have vollies of the one, and floods of the other. My heart is touched with a sense of your condition: May our merciful High-priest now send down the Comforter, and make you sensible of it also! O the love of Christ! It constrains me yet to beseech you to come to him; what do you reject, if you reject Christ, the Lord of glory! Sinners, give the dear Redeemer a lodging in your souls. Do not be Bethshemites; give Christ your hearts, your whole hearts. Indeed he is worthy. He made you, and not you yourselves. You are not your own; give Christ then your bodies and souls, which are his! Is it not enough to melt you down, to think that the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, should condescend to invite you by his ministers? How soon can he frown you to hell? And how know you, but he may, this very instant, if you do not hear his voice? Did any yet harden their hearts against Christ, and prosper? Come then, do not send me sorrowful away: do not let me have reason to cry out, O my leanness, my leanness! Do not let me go weeping into my closet, and say, “Lord, they will not believe my report; Lord, I have called them, and they will not answer; I am unto them as a very pleasant song, and as one that plays upon a pleasant instrument; but their hearts are running after the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.” Would you be willing that I should give such an account of you, or make such a prayer before God? And yet I must not only do so here, but appear in judgment against you hereafter, unless you will come to Christ. Once more therefore I entreat you to come. What objections have you to make? Behold, I stand here in the name of God, to answer all that you can offer. But I know no one can come, unless the Father draw him: I will therefore address one to my God, and intercede with him to send the Comforter into your hearts.

O blessed Jesus, who art a God whose compassions fail not, and in whom all the promises are yea and amen; thou that sittest between the cherubims, show thyself amongst us. Let us now see thy outgoings! O let us now taste that thou art gracious, and reveal thy almighty arm! Get thyself the victory in these poor sinners hearts. Let not the word spoken prove like water spilt upon the ground. Send down, send down, O great High-priest, the Holy Spirit, to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. So will we give thanks and praise to thee, O Father, thee O Son, and thee O blessed Spirit; to whom, as three Persons, but one God, be ascribed by angels and archangels, by cherubims and seraphims, and all the heavenly hosts, all possible power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843): Grieve Not The Holy Spirit

Grieve Not The Holy Spirit


Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843)

(This document is believed to be in the public domain)

The unconverted do not like to hear much about the Holy Ghost. The world cannot receive him because it seeth him not, neither knows him (John 14:17). Unconverted ministers do not often like to preach about the Holy Spirit. Unconverted hearers do not often like to hear about the Holy Spirit. How very foolish to many must such a command as this appear to be! If it had been said, ‘Grieve not a father or mother’, you could have understood it, but when it says, ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit‘, you do not know its meaning.

Paul is here advising Christians to let no vile communications proceed out of their mouth, and the argument he uses is one of the most wonderful that ever proceeded from the pen of man. It is, ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.’

From these words, consider: (1) The holy friendship of the Spirit. (2) Some of the ways in which we may grieve this Friend. (3) Application.

Let me show you the holy friendship that subsists between the Holy Spirit and the believers soul.

It is implied in the word, ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit’, it is only a friend we can grieve. If he was an enemy he would rejoice if we fell. And this shows that he is a true friend, because when we fall the Holy Spirit is grieved. It is quite true that the infinite God does not grieve in the same sense as we do, for that would imply that he was not infinitely happy; but it is quite as true that there is something analogous between his grief and ours.

I. The Holy Spirit comes and dwells in a believer’s heart.

‘I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them’ (Ezekiel 26:27). And so the Lord Jesus says in John 14:16: ‘I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may be abide with you forever, even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.’ And accordingly the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19: ‘What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?’ And in like manner we find God saying in Leviticus 26:12: ‘I will walk among you and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.’ And again, he says, ‘This is my rest, here will I stay, for I have desired it’ (Psalm 132:14).

O my brethren! what an intimate friendship this is! Can any friendship be compared with this? Another friend may dwell in our neighborhood; he may dwell in our family; but, ah! here is a friend that dwells in us. Can there be greater friendship than this? When the Lord Jesus came from heaven, and dwelt among us – when he dealt with Martha and Mary, and Lazarus – when he sat down to meat in the Pharisee’s house, and permitted the woman that was a sinner to wash his feet with her tears and to wipe then with her hairs of her head – that was a friendship. But it was still greater friendship for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in a clay cottage, the walls which are covered over with leprosy; and this is the friendship of the Holy Spirit to a believing soul.

The Holy Spirit teaches believing souls.

This is his great office. See John 16:12,13: ‘I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now, Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.’ Then 1 John 2:20: ‘But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.’ Verse 27: ‘But the anointed which ye have received of him abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you…’ Now, brethren, there is no greater mark of friendship, than to teach one – to bear with a slow scholar. This is the friendship of the Holy Spirit to a believing soul. There can be no greater condescension than for a man of gigantic mind to teach a child the alphabet. It was condescension in Christ to teach people when he sat in the boat by the side of the lake. But it is greater friendship when the Holy Spirit comes and teaches you all things; it is greater friendship when he bears your stupidity, and when he opens your hearts to receive the truth in the love of it. This is friendship.

He teaches the believer to pray, and he prays in the believer.

‘Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father’ (Romans 8:15). ‘Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities (the Greek word is very remarkable: He helps our infirmities by coming under the burden) for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts (that is the Lord) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God’ (Romans 8:26-27). And the same thing you are taught in the little Epistle of Jude, 20th verse: ‘But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.’

So, brethren, this is another mark of the Holy Spirit’s friendship, that he not only dwells in the soul, but he teaches the soul to say, ‘Abba’ – he teaches the soul to ‘pray in the Holy Ghost.’ It is true friendship to teach one another to pray. It is a believing mother’s part to teach her little children to pray. But the Holy Spirit’s love is greater than this, he not only puts the words in our mouth, but he puts the desire in our heart. It is great friendship to pray together, but oh! It is greater friendship to pray in one, and this is the friendship of the Holy Spirit of God.

He seals the believing heart.

Read the text, ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.’ And again, in the first chapter of the same book, the 13th verse, ‘In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.’ You know, my brethren , the effect that ones habits have on others, that often the colour of the life is taken from those among whom we live. And you cannot be in the company of a holy man without receiving your impressions from him. But how much more an impression does the Spirit make: it is like the mark that the seal makes on the wax, and it is to the day of redemption, and cannot be broken, if we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

An now, brethren, let me ask, ‘Do you know anything of this friend?’ The world cannot receive him; if you are of the world, you cannot receive him. Do you know anything of Spirit making groanings within you which cannot be uttered? Nothing? Then, dear friends, you are far from God. ‘The world cannot receive him….neither know him.’ (John 14:!7). How do you feel at the question? What! do you think it foolishness? ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them: for they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14). If you do not mind these things, the reason is, you are a friend if the world, and will perish with the world.

II. The ways in which the Spirit may be grieved.

When Christ was on earth, we are told that on one occasion he looked round on the Pharisees, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5). Now, what Jesus then felt, the Holy Spirit feels at the sight of sin. We are told that when Christ looked on Peter, he wept. We are not told what kind of look it was, but no doubt it was one of grief – no doubt his eye said, ‘Did I deserve this, Peter? Did I deserve that thou shouldst act thus? Have I been an enemy to thee Peter? Have I offended thee, Peter? No doubt this was what his eye said.

By putting the Spirit’s work in the place of Christ’s work.

The office of the Spirit is to glorify the work of Christ. ‘He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you’ (John 16:14,15). This is the office of the Spirit. He delights not to show himself, but Christ. When three thousand were converted on that day of Pentecost, it was the Spirit that did it; he showed them divine excellency of the work of Christ. And why does he this? Because it gives glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill to men. But sometimes a believer looks away from the work of Christ to the work of the Spirit in him, and begins to rest on that as the ground of peace. Now this grieves the Spirit. It he were a selfish Spirit, he would rejoice at this: but he is not a selfish Spirit, therefore, nothing grieves hem so much as this. ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.’

When you do not lean all on Him.

When do you not take all your holiness from him. This is the great work of the Spirit within you, to make you holy. ‘Thy spirit is good, lead me to the land of uprightness’ (Psalm 143:10). God promises in Ezekiel 26:27: ‘I will put my spirit in you, and cause you to walk in my statues, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.’ Now, as long as you lean on the spirit for holiness, you and he are friends, but the moment you cease to lean on him, you grieve him. Suppose you were to cross some deep and rapid stream with one who was much stronger and abler to stand against it than you, and he said, ‘Lean on me when you cross.’ Now, when you came to the middle of the stream, if you were to say, ‘I cannot lean’, and began to swim yourself, would you not grieve your friend? Now, this is the way in which we grieve the Spirit; for he has said, ‘Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you’ (Isaiah 46:4). Now, when temptations and trials, and lusts come crowding in, if we do not lean upon the spirit, we grieve him. Or, if we lean upon another, if you lean upon your education, your good resolutions, your past experiences. Or, suppose you run into temptation, and say, I was well brought up, I am able to resist it. In these ways you grieve the Spirit.

You grieve the Spirit when you do not follow his leadings.

You remember when Christ was on earth, he said to his disciples, ‘Follow me.’ He would have been grieved if they had not followed him. It is so with the other Comforter; he leads us to the wilderness – he sometimes causes groanings within us. Do you resist prayer time? Then you grieve the Spirit. Do you go into temptations against the strivings of your conscience? Then you grieve the Spirit. When he sees you run into temptation, he warns you – he pricks your heart, and yet you go. Ah! in this way you grieve the Spirit.

You grieve the Spirit by despising ordinances.

Ordinances are the channels through which the Holy Spirit pours all blessings into the believing hearts. Do you despise ordinances? Then you grieve the Holy Spirit. Suppose you agreed to meet a friend at a certain time; if you were not to go would you not grieve that friend? Now, this is just the way in which we grieve the Spirit, when you do not go to ordinances. How many of you come to the meetings on Thursday evenings? Are there not some who slight the friendship of the Spirit? Ah! you will feel the disadvantage of it to your soul.

III. Application

To those here who have grieved the Spirit. I am deeply persuaded that many here have grieved the Spirit in a remarkable manner. Does he deserve this at your hand? Has he ever been a wilderness to you, or a land of darkness? ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6). Do ye provoke the Lord the Spirit of jealousy? Consider how ungrateful it is to grieve him. Consider what he has done for thee. Did he not convince you of sin? Has he not breathed upon your soul like a gentle gales of wind from the south? It is not, then, ungrateful so to grieve him?

Consider how, in grieving the Holy Spirit, you have lost your peace with God. I have often told you that you cannot live in sin, and retain peace. ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked’ (Isaiah 57:21). You have a guilty conscience; and a guilty conscience cannot come into his presence. Return sinner!

You will go deeper into sin. ‘Without me ye can do nothing’ (John 15:5); you cannot resist self – you cannot overcome sin. O holy quenchers of the Spirit! where is this to end you? The Holy Spirit ebbs out of your heart and leaves you like a stranded vessel, dry upon land. Return!

I would say to those who are receiving the refreshing gales of the Spirit, grieve him not; walk softly with this friend. When he draws, run after him. Above all, follow his warnings. When he says, Do not go with this companion, go not with him. When he says, Go not into that path, go not. ‘Thou shalt hear a voice behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’ Happy souls that grieve not the Holy Spirit. Soon he shall fill that soul, and leave nothing in it but himself. Soon we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Amen.