Why the Spirit Is Not Given
by James Smith, 1860
The Holy Spirit has always been in the Church. Indeed without the Spirit there could be no Chuch, for it is the Spirit who calls out, collects, sanctifies, and unites the Lord's people together, constituting them a Church. And at times there has been a great measure of the Spirit in the Church, hence we read of several being filled with the Holy Spirit, about the time of the birth of Jesus. But the giving of the Holy Spirit in fullness and power, depended on his finishing his work, and being glorified by his Father. Therefore we read, "The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7:39. He was promised and expected — but not then given. Jesus said before he suffered, "If I do not go away, the Comforter will not come — but if I depart, I will send him unto you." The Father glorified Jesus, and gave him the Spirit as the reward of his work. The disciples glorified Jesus, by waiting as he commanded, and praying daily, and unitedly, in his name, for the blessing, and then the Spirit was given. It is so in a measure now, and as we need the Spirit — let us consider two things.
First, the blessing needed and desired.
The blessing needed. Above all things we need the Holy Spirit. As individuals we need him to comfort us in all our tribulations, to assure us of our interest in Jesus, and to convert us from the error of our ways. The Church needs the Spirit, to enlarge it with numbers, to purify it from corruption, to unite all its parts in one, to edify and make it lovely, to work in it, and to work by it, for God's glory.
The blessing desired. Do we not desire this blessing? What says our prayers? What says our efforts to obtain it? Who can look upon the World in its present moral condition, and knowing that it will remain so until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and not desire this blessing? Who can look upon the Town, and see iniquity run down our streets like water, and not desire this blessing? Who can look upon the Church, rent, torn, and divided as it is, and not desire this blessing? Who can look into his family, and see unconverted souls, or individuals very partially sanctified, and not desire this blessing? Who can look into his own heart, or at his own daily experience, and not desire that God would pour out his Spirit? Let us then notice,
Secondly, the way to obtain this blessing.Glorify Jesus. He has the Spirit to give. He gave it at the Pentecost. He has often given it since. He is prepared to give it now. If we would have the blessing, we must glorify Jesus, by believing his promise, exercising confidence in his love, and seeking it right heartily at his throne. Or we must habitually glorify Jesus in our thoughts of him, and speaking for him, by praying in his name, exercising benevolence for his sake, and manifesting sympathy with his cause. We must aim to glorify him in the motives from which we act, the rules by which we walk, and the ends at which we aim.
Why is not the Holy Spirit given to us, in answer to our many prayers? I fear the only correct answer that can be given is, that by us Jesus is not yet glorified.
We have not glorified Jesus as we should in the pulpit. He has been our theme — but have we preached Christ, for Christ's sake? Have we preached Christ fully, impartially, and constantly? Have we, as his Father did, placed him high above all? Have we preached Christ as he should be preached, in every sense of the word? Has it been our delight to set him on high among the people? The ministry that honors Christ — will be honored by Christ.
We have not glorified Jesus as we should in the school. He has been in the lessons — but has he been constantly placed before the children in his love and loveliness, in his mercy and merit, in his presence and power? Have we spoken of Jesus to the children as a present Christ, and pressed upon them the importance of applying to him as sinners to save them, and applying at once?
We have not glorified Jesus in the family. We have not given a clear, correct, and unmistakable representation of him — by our spirit, disposition, and conduct. We have not shown our children that Jesus makes us happy, holy, and contented with our earthly lot. Some appear to wonder that more in our households are not decided for God, I often wonder that so many are. Is not our conduct often, enough to prejudice them against religion? Is there not enough in our demeanor and ways, to lead them to think that our profession is a pretense, and our religion a sham? I fear it is so.
Jesus is not glorified in the closet. How little time we spend there, and to how little purpose is that time often spent. We can rise early to prepare for a journey either on business or pleasure — but when do we rise early to spend an extra hour in the closet with Jesus? We can make time to dine, or take tea with a friend — but when do we make time during business hours to spend an hour alone with Jesus? We sometimes sit up late, in the company of our friends — but when do we sit up late in closet fellowship with Jesus? And yet he courts our society, he asks our company, he loves to have us alone with himself.
Jesus is not glorified in our daily life. We do not constantly keep him before us as our model, nor do all things with a view to his glory. We live too much for ourselves. We copy the example of others, in our own station of life, too much. We cannot thoughtfully and justly say, "For me — to live is Christ."
I fear, we have not made the salvation of sinners our grand business. On this the heart of Jesus was set, for this the life of Jesus was spent, in order to this, the blood of Jesus was shed: and if we glorified Jesus as we should, our tempers, character, and general conduct, would be regulated with a view to this end. But has this been the case? In the family, in the shop, in the warehouse, or in the mill — have we so walked, so acted, so spoke, as if we desired to make an impression on everyone about us in favor of Jesus, and sought each one's salvation?
Brethren! brethren! We are truly guilty! Let us not wonder that the Holy Spirit is not given — let us not attempt to trace it up to the Divine sovereignty — but let us be affected with the conviction, the Holy Spirit is not given to us, to work wonders among us — because that Jesus is not glorified by us. And, let us humble ourselves before God, confess and deplore our sins, and seek grace from God, that in future, the glory of Jesus may be dear to our hearts, as it is to the heart of his Father; and be kept constantly before our eye, as it is constantly before the eye of his Father.
If the eye of an unconverted sinner should read these lines, to that sinner I must say: You have not glorified Jesus. No, not by one thought of your heart, not by one feeling of your soul, not by any one action of your life. Nor can you glorify Jesus, until you repair to him, seek to be saved by him, place confidence in him, and commit your soul to him. Jesus requires you to make a full surrender of yourselves at his feet, to put your trust in his faithful word and finished work, and to be willing to be saved by his grace, and devoted to his glory. The first step of the soul towards him, glorifies him. The first cry of the heart to be saved by him, glorifies him. But the surrender of the entire person, and the consecration of the whole life to his service and praise, glorifies him most.
Holy Spirit, lead the sinner to Jesus, and on his bended knees, teach him to glorify Jesus! Lead your own professing people also so to glorify Jesus that your presence in fullness and power, may be received and enjoyed by the whole Church, and by every member of it, and the effects of your presence may be so manifest on all around, that there may be no more even the least occasion to say. "The Holy Spirit was not yet given — because Jesus was not yet glorified!"