like the steel rails; and you must have the steel rails of the Bible as well as the steam power of the Holy Ghost. Let the Holy Ghost fill you, but He will work along that Book. And I hold that the fact that the Holy Spirit elects to work through that Book is its most complete vindication against all that modern critics have to say. As long as the Holy Ghost is prepared to stand by it and to work by it, I hold it to be in an incomparable sense the Word of the living God to man. I am well satisfied to accept it all, Jonah and the fish included.
Fifth, and last. The Holy Spirit must be received by faith. Gal_3:14 is the battle–axe. I would not be without that text for anything: “That we might receive the promise of the Spirit though faith;”
All God’s dealings with men are on the same principle, by faith. By faith you are regenerate, by faith you are justified, by faith you are sanctified, by faith you receive the Holy Ghost, by faith you receive Christ as the power of God into your life. It is all by faith.
Let me close with this bit of personal experience. I have always gone on the principle that our moral constitution is on the same plan; that just as our faces are made on the same plan, so our moral nature is made on the same plan; and one of the key-notes of my life has been: Understand yourself, and you will understand something of everybody else.
I had been for a long time a minister in Leicester, with a large church and of considerable influence in the city, but very unhappy. Conscious that I had not received the power of the Holy Ghost, I went up to that little village, the name of which you hear so often, Keswick. A great number of God’s people gathered there to seek and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and they elected to have a prayer-meeting from nine o’clock to eleven and onwards, to pray for the Holy Ghost. A great many people were there agonizing. I was too tired to agonize, and I somehow felt that God did not want me to agonize hour after hour, but I had to learn to take; that God wanted to give, and I had only to take.
To-morrow your little girl will come down to breakfast. She is very hungry, and the bread and milk or the oatmeal is on the table. You do not say:
“Little girlie, run upstairs, and agonize, roll on the floor for an hour, and then come down.”
You say to her: “Little one, I am so glad you have got a good appetite. Now there is your chair, in you get, say your prayer, and start away.”
That is what God says to the soul. Those all, nights of prayer for the Holy Ghost are principally necessary to get the people who pray into a fit condition to receive the Holy Ghost; for when the people are ready the Holy Ghost will come without agonizing.
So I left that prayer, meeting at Keswick. It was eleven o’clock or half past eleven, and I crept out in-to the lane, and away from the little village. The lights died away in the distance, and I stood on the hill, or walked to and fro, the stars shining upon me, and now and again a little cloud dropping a baptism of rain upon my face, as though symbolic of the refreshing my soul was to receive. As I walked I said :
“O, my God, if there is a man in this village who needs the power of the Holy Ghost to rest upon him, it is I; but I do not know how to receive Him. I am too tired, too worn, too nervously down to agonize.”
A voice said to me: “As you took forgiveness from the hand of the dying Christ, take the Holy Ghost from the hand of the living Christ.”
I turned to Christ and said: “Lord, as I breathe in this whiff of warm night air, so I breathe into every part of me Thy blessed Spirit.”
I felt no hand laid upon my head, there was no lambent flame, there was no rushing sound from heaven; but by faith, without emotion, without excitement I took, and took for the first time, and I have kept on taking ever since.
I turned to leave the mountain side, and as I went down, the tempter said:
“You have got nothing. It is moonshine.”
I said: “I have.”
He said: ” Do you feel it?”
“I do not.”
“Then if you do not feel it you have not got it.”
I said: “I do not feel it, but I reckon that God is faithful, and He could not have brought a hungry soul to claim by faith, and then give a stone for bread, and a scorpion for a fish. I know I have got it because God led me to claim.”
I met a number of young clergymen, and they fought it with me. They said:
“No, no, we feel, we feel to have it, and we know we have got it.”
But said I to them: “How will you do to-morrow morning when you do not feel it? Now I, who take by faith, am independent of feeling to-morrow or any future time.”
Whilst we were talking, a young merchant who was listening, said: “I want to say a word. You parsons have been talking a great deal about the Holy Spirit. Now I know I have received the Holy Spirit when I have most of Jesus, and in my place at Glasgow, if I miss the presence of Jesus for half an hour, I go into my counting-house, and kneel down and say: ‘Holy Spirit, what have I done to Thee that Thou hast taken from me the sense of the presence of Christ? ‘”
“O,” we said, “when we know we have most of Christ, when we love Him most, live for Him most, we know that the Holy Ghost is within us in power.”
So, brothers, sisters, may I ask you to let this day be the time of transaction with God. Walk to and fro, and say if you like:
“I sadly need a Pentecost. As far as I know, I fulfil the conditions, in my will at least.”
Then put your hand upon your heart, and say: “I do now receive.”
Let the devil say what he likes. Keep reckoning that the Spirit of Christ rests upon you, and when you come to your Jordan, and the students are there to look on, and you might draw back,–that Jordan representing your temptation, your mission, some bit of work to do,–say:
“Holy Spirit, I now trust Thee to do through me Thy Pentecostal work in glorifying Christ.”