The Motions of the Spirit

by James Smith, 1860


What unusual characters God has raised up for the accomplishment of his purposes, and in answer to the prayers of his people. Most plainly has he shown us, that he can never be at a loss for an instrument to do his work, nor be dependent on any creature for the performance of his word.

I have been thinking of Samson as perhaps God has never raised up a more extraordinary person. But I am not going to write about Samson, in general, only to consider for a few moments, one statement respecting him, "The Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times." Judges 13:25. The words present three things to our notice,

A Young Man. Samson was at this time a young man, and tenderly beloved of his parents. He was . . .
honorably distinguished from his fellows,
intended for great usefulness,
exposed to many temptations, and
compassed with lamentable infirmities.

In looking around me, I can see young men, in these respects, very much like Samson. They are tenderly beloved of their parents, who look upon them as their hope and joy. For them, their prayers ascend, and around them their affections gather. Nothing is denied them, that is considered likely to advance them, or do them good. And in many things they are honorably distinguished, for they are sober, and thoughtful, and moral. They believe the bible, and attend the means of grace. They appear likely to be very useful, for they have respectable gifts, a generous disposition and if their hearts were right with God, they would be shining and useful characters. But they are exposed to many temptations, for . . .
Satan
lies in wait to mislead them,
the flesh is strong within them, and
worldly companions
attempt to ensnare them.

Nor are they free from infirmities some of them need more courage, some more integrity, and all of them need decision I mean decision for God, and devotedness to him. But we are introduced to

A Holy Agent. "The Spirit of the Lord." The Holy Spirit is a divine person, equal with the Father and the Son and consequently, the true and eternal God. But he has undertaken a distinct work in creation, providence, and grace:

In creation he moved on the face of the waters, or brooded over the abyss, and gave vegetable and animal life.

In providence he works for the saints in a secret, certain, and mysterious manner.

But his principal work is in grace. He began to move, or prompt, or influence Samson at times, and so he does our young people now. He is the gift of God, and is generally communicated and received, through the preaching of the gospel. He is the author of all spiritual good in the hearts of the Lord's people. He . . .
generates every good desire,
directs to the use of every good word,
and prompts to every good action.

His presence, power, and agency, are absolutely necessary for man; as without these there would be no regeneration, conversion, or sanctification. He is possessed by all believers, and works in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure. To be without the Spirit, is to be without spiritual life, without power, and without true wisdom. The Spirit of God just as necessary to be our Quickener, Teacher, and Sanctifier as the Son of God is to be our Redeemer! Therefore we have set before us,

A Divine Operation. "The Spirit of God began to move him at times." The mind of man is naturally restless, it is always in motion but of itself, it never moves aright toward God, or divine things. The motions of the Spirit are always in accordance with our human nature, and suitable to our condition and circumstances. He never acts upon men as he would upon lifeless matter, or as he would upon the brute creation; which is only saying, that he acts wisely in his dealings with us.

His work is in accordance with the end to be accomplished, hence in some, he acted as a Spirit of prophesy, in some as a Spirit of government, and in Samson principally as a Spirit of strength. In us he acts as a Spirit of grace, or a Spirit of truth, or a Spirit of life. In his work, he not only has regard to our nature but to our age, circumstances, and distinction. He moves the young often, when they little suspect that it is his divine agency at work with them. There is a thought it may be of death, of eternity, of sin, of salvation, of God, or of Christ. Or there is a fact, perhaps a very solemn fact, presented to, and fastened upon the mind. Then . . .
a solemn sense of danger and fear is produced;
a desire for salvation, or to escape the wrath to come is felt;
a prayer, simple but fervent is put up;
a hope that mercy will be shown and deliverance be wrought, is excited;
a sense of pleasure in reference to divine things is realized;
and at length the soul's interest in Christ is cleared up.

In all this, we trace the moving of the mind, and heart by the Spirit of God. For we ascribe every good motion, every good desire, all real prayer and every good action to him. Perhaps the Spirit of God has begun to move the reader of these lines while under a sermon, while reading a good book, or hearing an address, or through some startling providence. If so, the design is to lead you to God, to bring you with weeping and supplication to his throne, that you may seek and obtain the forgiveness of sins, and a part in the Heavenly inheritance.

See then, from whence your convictions and alarms come from the Spirit of God; and to whom you are to look for conversion, for conversion work is his work. Beware therefore how you resist, quench, or grieve the Spirit of God for some resist him in his word, quench his gentle flame in the heart, and grieve him as the Spirit of love. How this can be done, is not for us to say but that it is done, the Scriptures plainly testify. Let us therefore beware, and yield ourselves unto God, encouraging conviction of sin, impressions of the importance of salvation, and the desires that suddenly or occasionally spring up in our hearts to pray and seek the Lord.

Let us seek converting grace, if we feel we need it; sanctifying grace, if we really desire it; and the filling of the Spirit, if we have any measure of him. Whenever the Spirit of God moves us, it is against sin, and to some good; let us then yield to his promptings, and surrender ourselves to his teaching.

Reader, the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit are solemn truths; and the work and operations of the Holy Spirit in the heart, are absolutely necessary to salvation. If you resist the Holy Spirit, if you neglect salvation, if you reject the Savior you plunge your own soul into ruin; and will everlastingly condemn your present conduct, in the world of endless torment and despair!