E. R. (Eugene Russell) Hendrix.

The personality of the Holy Spirit online

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For not without us fully blest
Or perfect might they be.

Peter may complain of inspired Paul that there
are some things in his writings hard to be un-
derstood, some things which words were too
poor to convey, but he could not complain of
our "beloved brother Paul," whose life the Holy
Spirit was making that Luke might record it,
and that Paul might draw on it to show that a
man might still be a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Let Paul himself tell us, as he told the Romans,
the chief use to which he put the Holy Scrij>-
tures, of which, like Timotliy, he had been a
devout student from his youth : "For whatso-
ever things were written aforetime were written
for our learning that through patience and com-
fort of the Scriptures we might have hope."
"Every scripture inspired of God is also profit-
able for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness." Our religion


lOO The Holy Spirit

is not the religion of a book like the Koran, in-
capable of a translation into any other language
than the Arabic without losing its sacred char-
acter, a book that makes fanatics and not saints.
Ours is the Ours is the religion of a life, of a Person whose

religion of a . . i i i-i

, . proimised coming lit up tlie world like a morn-
a Book. ing star as kings came to the brightness of his

rising. "The wise men of the East came to his
cradle, and the wise men of the West started
from his cross." Holy men of old wrote in
syllables and letters as they were able to give
utterance to the life of God in the soul of man,
often searching what the Spirit of Christ in them
did signify. But when Christ came their Bible
was his Bible, and the divine words spoken to
comfort and empower these holy men of old
were the words which he pressed to his own
heart, as in the temptation in the wilderness
he thrice drove back the tempter by a flaming
sword from his divine arsenal as he declared,
"It is written." If in the days of his humilia-
tion, when our Lord poured out strong cries
and tears, he found that through patience and
comfort of the Scriptures he might have hope,
we do well to use the very words which made
Israel strong in the wilderness and even the

The Author of Sacred Letters. loi

Son of God invulnerable in the temptation. Is-
rael tempted to a life of fleshly desire heard
God say, "Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth from the
mouth of God." It is God's words that have
been tested in human lives that are spirit and
are life. What once made saints will ever make
saints, and this is, the very end of the gospel
of Christ. The true and final test of Chris-
tianity is what sort of men can it make. Christ
staked everything on what he could do with a
dozen men. Had he failed, Christianity would
have no saints and hence no inspired books. The
gospel that cannot save is a gospel that is not
worth writing or worth preaching. Let it ever
be remembered that there are holy books be-
cause there were first holy men. It is the Spirit
who inspired them that can inspire us alike by
their lives and their words.

Unless God be heard in the soul, he will not
be heard in the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks
to man through men, and those best hear, as
those best speak, who are most possessed of
God. Revelation is the mode or form, whether Revelation
it be word, character, or institution, in which


man cmliodies what he has received. Inspira-

I02 The Holy Spirit

tion creates what revelation transmits and pre-
serves in historical form. The essential func-
tion of inspiration is the creation of personal-
ities. The Holy Spirit is a quickening Spirit,
awakening and vitalizing the mind, giving spir-
itual elevation to every faculty of the soul. God
who is Spirit must ever seek communion with
what is spirit, and hence a measure of his Spirit
is given to every man to profit withal. Oft he
has sought, like Noah's dove, a resting place
and found nothing but a waste of waters, men
submerged under visible and temporal things,
with no ears for the wooing voice that pleads
for an entrance. No wonder the credential for
which Jolin waited was One upon whom the
Spirit of God should come and abide. That is
what we seek, in all lands and literatures — the
credential of the true prophet of God.

According to the quantity of the inspiration
will be the quality of the revelation and its au-
thority. If one chosen people are found to be
the custodians of what is conceded to be the
great body of revealed truth ever given to man —
truth w'lich is self- verifying, truth which, ap-
pealing to the intellect no less than to the heart,
has made the Christian religion the religion of

riic Author of Sacred Letters. 103

progress because the religion of the most pro-
gressive part of tlie race — then we must look to
that chosen people for the inspired men who
alone could have received and transmitted this
revealed truth. This is the advantage of the
chosen people, that first of all they were in-
trusted with the oracles of God because first
of all nations they had men capable of being
illumined by the Spirit of God. Not that the
Spirit of God had forsaken the rest of the world,
for were man the only active and causal person
in the world he would cease to be religious. That
man in all ages and in all lands has not been
without those Vvho had worthy aspirations, whose
prayers and alms like those of Cornelius came
up as a memorial before the Lord, shows that
the Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons, but
seeks such to worship him everywhere as wor-
ship him in spirit and in truth. Man's religious,
moral, and intellectual activities are evermore
and everywhere the Spirit's field. The Holy
Spirit is no more the Giver of all life than he
is the Giver of all truth. "In every nation he
that feareth him and worketh righteousness is
accepted with him." The Holy Spirit doubtless
inspires all acceptable worship, for even an apos-


The Holy Spirit

We best ktiOTV
our religion
as zve study

tk declares that we need him to help our in-
firmity, for without his aid we know not how to
pray as we ought. The Spirit that brooded
over chaos, to the end that he might bring out
of it order and light, broods over the entire
world of mind that he may light every man that
Cometh into the world. The measure of man's
responsiveness to that light is the measure of
his inspiration, as the measure of his inspiration
is the measure of the revelation which he is able
to transmit.

He who knows only one religion knows none,
just as he who knows only one language knows
none. Knowledge is largely a thing of com-
parison. We know our language by knowing
the material that has come to it from other
languages, and its words have a life and his-
tory of their own as well as a meaning which
comes to them from different ages and oth-
er lands. Religion lives while religions die.
Man's religious needs are not determined by
his sacred books, whether his canon be that of
the Hebrew or the Hindoo, whether the New
Testament or the Koran be his guide. In the
knowledge which we have of dead or moribund
religions, as they are the religions of dead or

The Author of Sacred Letters. 10$

moribund nations, we learn more of the nature
of the true reUgion and of Him who came to
give men life and that more abundantly. There
was a "Court of the Gentiles" attached to the
holy temple itself, as if ever to remind men
that God made of one blood all nations of men
to dwell on all the face of the earth. The Gen-
tiles may approach the temple, even though they
be not yet ready to enter it. They may hear
the sacred songs, even though they are the songs
of Zion which their tongues have never sung.
A glorious revelation will burst from the cross
of Christ which will show the veil of the tem-
ple rent in twain, and the song which we will
sing will be one joined in by those redeemed
from every nation and tongue under heaven.
Though it be not one of the matchless songs
of Zion that we hear in the Vedas or the Zend-
Avesta, wherever it is the language of aspira-
tion, of penitence, or of hope who doubts the
help of the same Spirit who helpeth our in-
firmity? None but he could have inspired such
a prayer as we find in the Vedas : "If I go
along trembling, like a cloud driven by the wind,
have mercy. Almighty, have mercy." None but
he could have taught Confucius the golden rule

io6 The Holy Spirit

of the Mongolian race: "What you do not like
when done to yourself, do not to others." It
was the Persian Cyrus, a disciple of Zoroaster
who never followed the star of Bethlehem, to
whom Isaiah speaks in the name of his Lord :
"Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus
whose right hand I have holden, to subdue na-
tions before liim. . . . For Jacob my serv-
ant's sake, and Israel my chosen, I have called
thee by thy name : I have surnamed thee, though
thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and
there is none else ; beside me there is no God :
I will gird thee, though thou hast not known
me: that they may know from the rising of the
sun, and from the west, that there is none be-
side me." None can doubt wdience Plato got
his prayer:

Asked and unasked, thy blessings give, O Lord !
The evil, though we ask it, from us ward.

Even though Homer may have taught him, who
taught the blind old bard to pray? The early
Christians would claim Virgil's voice as that of
a forerunner of Christ, and Dante chooses him
among all his predecessors as the one to guide
him to the nether world and to instruct him
there. The Holy .Spirit has sought penmen in

The Author of Sacred Letters. 107

every age and land, and Paul quotes from not
less than three of the pagan poets worthy moral
sentiments, fitly preserved in tlie sacred record,
although the blind eyes were not fully opened
as yet, but only to see men as trees walking.
Thank God there was somewhere an open vi-
sion! And thank God, too, that he has never
wholly left himself without witness even in that
Gentile world to which he binds his Church with
so strong a sense of obligation to give the gospel
of his love. We dare not believe that the other
sheep which are not of this fold were ever ab-
sent from the Saviour's thought and love. A
measure of the Spirit was given to them to profit
withal. If the profit seems little as judged by
either the lives or literature of the Gentiles, the
more manifest the wnsdom which called Abra-
ham from far-off Ur of the Chaldees to found
a nation in which all the families of the earth
should be blessed.

Slowlj' the Bible of the race is writ,

And not on paper leaves or leaves of stone;

Each age, each kindred adds a verse to it,
Texts of despair or hope, of joy or moan,

While swings the sea, while mists the mountains shroud,

While thunder's surges burst on cliffs of cloud,

Still at the prophet's feet the nations sit. — Lowell.

io8 The Holy Spirit

The holy Amid all that can be found in all the world

man and his


of letters that tells what Cicero taught, "that no
one was ever great without divine inspiration,"
and that the Holy Spirit has in sundr}^ times
and in divers manners spoken not only unto the
fathers in the prophets, but that scattered voices
are heard in Eg}'pt and Persia, in India and
Giina, yet the proof is overwhelming that the
chosen vehicles of divine truth are found mostly
in one nation, and those were holy men, as it
were, selected lives, first experiencing the truth
which, with wondering hearts, they handed down
to posterity. Phillips Brooks, whose own noble
life best illustrated his words, declared that "every
man's power is liis idea multiplied by and pro-
jected through his personality." What must have
been at once the idea and the personality of some
of those great prophets of God in the Old Testa-
ment whose voice is gone out into all the world,
and whose words to the end of the earth ! N;.
wonder Coleridge said, "In this Book there is
more tliat £nds me tlian I have experienced in
all other books put together." The human
agents through whom were given these great
truths which search human hearts in all ages
and lands were signally prepared for their work.

The Author of Sacred Letters. 109

"The Spirit of the Lord docs not enter the soul

as sometliing foreign and extraneous to it, but

as the principle of its true life." The Spirit The Holy

seeks an intelligent object witli which to converse spintistke

principle of

and to share his thoughts. He is evermore fill- ounrueand
ing men that he may enlarge them, and enlarging exalted u/e.
them that he may fill them. The pagan nations
imagined their gods to be jealous of the intel-
lectual and material achievements of men ; the
Qiristian nations gratefully recognize the em-
powering of men from above for great achieve-
ments, and that for this end men are created
anew, receive a new intellectual awakening, a
new. heart capable of responding to the holiest
and strongest motives, while the will iteself is
strengthened, and even freed from sinful habits,
that we may become God's fellow - workers.
Christ no more shared our humanity than he
promised that we should behold and share his
glory. But only those can share his glory who
are able to behold it. Elisha could never have
worn the mantle of Elijah had he not dared
to gaze upon the supernatural and into it as the
ascending chariot bore away the mighty prophet
of God, the very chariot of Israel and horse-
men thereof. Moses could never have given us

The more per-
fect the man
the fuller the
message from.
God in him.

no The Holy Spirit

the sacred books which we attribute to him
had he not sought first to behold the divine glo-
ry. The men who have the ear of the world
are the prophets fresh from an audience with

One whisper of the Holy Ghost
This heedless world has never lost.

Grant, then, a Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth,
able to guide us into all truth, all now depends
on our ability to receive and assimilate the truth
as it comes from God. Grant, too, that our
powers of assimilation are weak, that as the re-
sult of sin the whole head is weak and the heart
faint — these are all we have, and unless they
can be toned up and strengthened, we are with-
out hope. The wireless message from heaven
must be received from heaven and transmitted
by some attuned instrument. \Mien wisdom and
knowledge are wedded to goodness and love, we
find the culmination of personal power. What-
ever dulls the intellectual faculties or dims the
spiritual perception diminishes power and limits
influence. Even before a man is wholly reli-
gious God is with him in every regret for an
evil life, in every fight against wrong, in every
desire to recover his true self in character. De-

The Author of Sacred Letters. in

spite all that we find wrong in Samson, so long
and whenever he was true to his vow as a Naz-
arite in his unshaven locks, God could use him.
It seems a slender channel of divine grace, but
God used even that. When Jehovah who had
been dealing only with individuals would now
use a nation as a channel of blessing, he binds
them to him with a covenant, the voice of the
nation ratifying it at the burning mountain's
foot; and so long as Israel kept that covenant
she lacked neither prophets nor power. That
which raised Hebrew prophecy above all the
lower forms of prophetical inspiration in the
nations about them was its growing perception
of m.oral truth and its enthusiastic devotion to
it. Inspiration was full in proportion to the
hold that the truth and love of God had on the
spokesman of God. This was the Spirit of
Qirist that was in them which prophesied of
the grace to come. When Moses was asked by
Joshua to forbid El dad and Medad from proph-
esying even though the Spirit rested on them,
Great Heart responded, "Art thou jealous for my
sake? Would God that all the Lord's people
were prophets, that the Lord would put his
Spirit upon them." The inspired man is one


The Holy Spirit

solemnized by his sense of nearness to God,
every power quickened to hear the divine voice.

Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came
Like the volcano's tongue of flame
Up from the burning core below, —
The canticles of love and woe.

A sure test therefore of the inspiration, say
of the Psalms, is to throw oneself into the cur-
rent of the thought and aspiration, and then
see how strongly that current sets toward God.
Not that inspiration is confined to these aids to
devotion so that we should use no other in our
worship, for the Spirit hath spoken unto us
through other holy men in all ages whose lofty
strains also lift us Godward. But the Psalms
have stood the test alike of the Jewish and Chris-
tian faiths, serving as common hymnal for both
Testaments and through many centuries, and on
their bosom multiplied millions of our race have
ever found the current setting toward God. Mr.
Gladstone says : "John Bright has told me that
he would be content to stake upon the Book of
Psalms, as it stands, the great question whether
there is or is not a Divine Revelation. It was

The Author of Sacred Letters. 113

not to him conceivable how a work so widely
severed from all the known productions of an-
tiquity, and standing upon a level so much high-
er, could be accounted for except by a special and
extraordinary aid calculated to produce special
and extraordinary results ; for it is reasonable,
nay needful, to presume a due correspondence
between the cause and the effect." Now what
are the Psalms but echoes to the divine voice,
human responses to the divine law and the di-
vine promises, the heart of man thrilling in
every fiber because touched by the finger of
God? For true prayers are no less utterances
from God than to God. When we know not
what to pray for, the Spirit helpeth our infirmi-
ty, and so broods over us as to make interces-
sions for us that we cannot utter without his
aid. If it be a condition of being a poet that
the man's life first be a poem, what lives must
have been theirs who prayed and then wrote
the Psalms ! Men are right in the demand that
the life should be like the Book. Dr. Griffith
John told some years ago of a devout China-
man whose Christian life was such that the peo-
ple said of him, living and dead, "There is no
difference between him and the Book." Such


The Holy Spirit

God and mail
both must be
abolished to
get rid of

holy men, and such alone, made the Holy Book.
Inspiration spiritualizes, exalts, suggests, em-
powers. That alone can kindle which is itself
on fire. The Holy Spirit's greatest book is a
life. It is the holy lives in this Book that make
it a living Book and so vital that it vitalizes all
who devoutly read it. Therefore our Lord said,
"Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think
ye have eternal life, and these are they which
bear witness of me." "It is the Spirit that
quickeneth. . . . The words that I have spo-
ken unto you are spirit and are life." Because
of all the sons of men the Son of man offered
the holiest life, the Spirit gave through Christ
his fullest and loftiest utterance. His very
words are spirit, because the Spirit of the Lord
rested and abode upon him and ever spoke
through him; and his words are life indeed —
eternal life.

You can get rid of inspiration and its fruit,
wliich is revelation, as you can get rid of re-
ligion only by abolishing both God and man. So
long as there is a spirit in man the inspiration of
the Almighty giveth understanding. The highest
inspiration shows itself in the highest understand-
ing. The men who show us most of God are the

The Author of Sacred Letters. 115

men who have been receiving most from God.
Moses could never bring down the decalogue
from Sinai's blazing brow were not his own face
glowing with the reflected light of God. It was
his vision in his inmost soul, the vision of the
Lord high and lifted up, with his glory filling
all the temple, and the prophet's piercing cry,
"Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips 1"
that made Isaiah's vision one for all the race.
That his very lips were purified that he might
tell the things of God, is seen in that lofty style
and in the sublime utterances that have been the
wonder and despair of men of letters in all ages.
If the lips were aflame, it was because the heart
was on fire. The spirit of man is the candle of
the Lord, and when God lights these candles
they hum no less than they illumine. The
prophet's very spirit seemed consumed within
him as he spoke of the things of God for all the
world. The glowing heart made the blazing
page. The prophet himself became a living
torch, holding forth the words of life. How
many other torches did Isaiah light in his own
time, and in the days of the apostles and in
ours? If the prophet was very bold, it was
because he saw so much more than others. If

ii6 The Holy Spirit

his visions and songs are the richest mine of
intellectual and spiritual wealth to some of tlie
greatest men of letters in all ages, it is because
his nature responded so fully to the Spirit of
God who gave it both comprehension and utter-
ance. The effect of the Spirit on speech shows
his influence on the reason of man of which
speech is the organ. There would never have
been tongues of fire at Pentecost had there not
first been the illumination of the Spirit within.
It Isaiah has inspired Paul and Luther and Ten-
nyson and Browning, as Brainerd inspired Henry
Martyn and Martyn inspired Patteson, who can
deny to the Holy Spirit, the greatest Thinker
in the universe, the power to inspire Moses and
Isaiah and- Job. If prepared men can be in-
spired by prepared men, much more can the
Spirit of God both prepare and inspire men
made in the image of God.

Now not only is the greatest book of the
Holy Spirit a life, but his every book is a life.
What is Genesis but preeminently the life of
Abraham, the first of the Hebrews, whom God
calls from far-off Ur of the Chaldees to a land
of promise only because he deems that Abra-
ham wall bear transplanting. If Adam fell

The Author of Sacred Letters. 117

from not believing the word of God, Abraham
stands as the father of the faithful because God
called him forth and developed him by a word.
Abraham was trained unto greatness by a prom-
ise of God, a promise that seemed impossible of
fulfillment, because apparently contrary to na-
ture. Yet when Isaac was bom long after he
might naturally expect a son in his old age, and
Abraham had heard God declare to him that in
Isaac shall thy seed be called, and in him shall
all the nations of the earth be blessed, a divine
command threatened to blot out all hope. But
Abraham believed God, and it was counted to
him for righteousness because (as it took the
New Testament to tell us) he believed that God
could from the very stones of that rude altar
where Isaac was about to be oflFered raise up
Isaac from the dead, whence in fact he also re-
ceived him in a figure. It was thus that God
prepared his prophet for his large place in the
Holy Boo'k by first calling him to a holy life, as
he declared unto Abraham : "I am the Lord God
Almighty; walk before me and be thou perfect.
And I will make my covenant betw^een me and
thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." It
was not until God was sure of his man that he

ii8 The Holy Spirit

made him a chamiel of revelation to all the
world. "For I have known Abraham, that he
will command his children and his household
after him, that they may keep the way of the
Lord, to do justice and judgment." From that
time forth God was known as "the God of
Abraham," the God that Abraham trusted and
the God who trusted Abraham. His children
for generations never knew any better prayer
than, "O God of my father Abraham!" The
test of inspiration is found in the book that re-
cords this life which bears us on its strcxig cur-
rent toward God. The power of the keys is
ahvays personal rather than official. Abraliam
had them long before Peter or John, and he led
a multitude into the kingdom of God.

So the books that record for us the leadership
of Moses and of Samuel are lives, prepared lives,
born in an atmosphere of prayer and in answer
to prayer, to exhale an atmosphere of prayer in
which a nation might be brought nearer to God.
What an honor to the judiciary of any people
are such just judges, and what a rebuke to
selfish and ambitious rulers these two kings in

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Online LibraryE. R. (Eugene Russell) HendrixThe personality of the Holy Spirit → online text (page 6 of 11)