by James Smith, 1860
The Holy Spirit is the great teacher of the church of God — and none teaches like him. His great subject is Christ, and to know Christ is life everlasting. It matters but little what we know — unless we know Christ; nor what knowledge we have of Christ — unless it is spiritual and experimental. No one can learn to know Christ of himself — a teacher therefore is necessary; as it is the heart, rather than the head which needs to be taught, and as man cannot get at the heart — a Divine teacher is necessary. This being the case, the Holy Spirit is provided and promised, and Jesus promising the Spirit to his disciples, said, "But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things." John 14:26. And the Apostle John, speaking of the Holy Spirit, as the anointing, says, "The same anointing teaches you."
As a teacher, the Holy Spirit . . .
enlightens the darkened mind,
shines on the truth to be taught, and
so informs and corrects the judgment.
By degrees, he teaches us to know ourselves — and then to know the Savior. Every new discovery of our depravity, pollution, and misery — is introductory to some new discovery of Christ, in his person, righteousness, and grace. The foundation of our knowledge of Christ — is always laid, in the knowledge of ourselves.
His teaching always tends to some practical results; as the effect of it therefore — we apply to Christ, receive from Christ, rejoice in Christ, and devote ourselves to the praise and glory of Christ. Everything the Spirit teaches, has a direct tendency to lead us to Christ. If he therefore teaches us to know the law — it is that we may flee to Christ and seek deliverance from it. If he teaches us to know doctrine — through every doctrine, he teaches us to have fellowship with Christ. If he teaches us to understand gospel ordinances — it is in order that attending to them, we may meet with Christ, and honor him. So from every spot, and from every subject — the Holy Spirit, leads us directly to Christ; and the more we experience of his teaching, the more precious Christ becomes, and the more simple and entire is our dependence upon him.
As a teacher, the Holy Spirit displays the greatest wisdom — teaching us as we are able to bear. He manifests the most touching tenderness — even as a mother toward her only, her beloved child. He exercises unequaled patience — putting up with our dullness, waywardness, and inconstancy. He teaches us according to the best, and most approved system, so that his lessons are never forgotten, nor can they be perverted. What we merely learn form the Word, or hear from man — we may pervert; but what the Spirit teaches — is accompanied with grace, and humbles and sanctifies, while it instructs and informs.
Every one taught by the Spirit, so knows himself — as to renounce all dependence on anything, and everything of his own.
He so knows the law — as to realize that he can never be justified by his obedience to it.
He so knows the Savior — as to renounce all, and everything for him. He so knows the world — as to forsake it, preferring, the Savior's worst things, to its best things.
He so knows Satan — as to flee from him, and seek shelter and protection, from the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Reader, is the Holy Spirit your teacher? Methinks from the foregoing remarks, that you should be able to tell. You must be taught of God, or you cannot be a child of God; for thus it is written in the Scriptures, "All your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children." Do you ask, "But how may I know for a certainty that I am taught of God?" We cannot give you a better answer, than the Savior's own words, who quoting from the prophet in the foregoing passage, says, "It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God, every one therefore who has heard, and learned of the Father, comes unto me."
Have you as a poor lost sinner, come to Jesus? Have you come to him for salvation? Are you daily coming to him . . .
as the hungry man to be fed,
as the filthy child to be cleansed,
as the naked beggar to be clothed?
In a word, are you coming to Jesus for grace now, the grace you will need through life; and for glory, that when you die, you may be received into everlasting habitations? If so, no doubt but the Spirit is your teacher, for these are the legitimate and invariable effects of his work. To him therefore you may look to be taught all that is necessary for you to know — and on him you may depend to train you up for heaven.
But if you are not taught of God you are in a dreadful state, for . . .
you have no correct knowledge of yourself,
you have no saving acquaintance with the Lord Jesus,
you do not understand the gospel,
nor can you be fit for heaven!
Let me beseech you then to come to a decision upon this point, and if you have the Spirit as your teacher, thank God, and seek more of his gracious instructions. But if you have not, or cannot satisfactorily conclude that you have — then as a free gift from a gracious God, seek this blessing. Fix your mind, and exercise your faith, on this gracious assurance of the Savior, nor rest until you realize its truth. "If you being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children — then how much more shall your heavenly Father, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."