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- When the Holy Ghost is Come - 20/29 -
his high tower, his strength and unfailing defence, and so he was not afraid.
His boldness toward man was a fruit of his boldness toward God, and that, in turn, was a fruit of his faith in Jesus as his High Priest, who had been touched with the feeling of his infirmities, and through whom he could "come boldly to the Throne of Grace, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need."
It is the timidity and delicacy with which men attempt God's work that often accounts for their failure. Let them speak out boldly like men, as ambassadors of Heaven, who are not afraid to represent their King, and they will command attention and respect, and reach the hearts and consciences of men.
I have read that quaint old Bishop Latimer, who was afterwards burned at the stake, "having preached a sermon before King Henry VIII, which greatly displeased the monarch, was ordered to preach again on the next Sunday, and make apology for the offence given. The day came, and with it a crowded assembly anxious to hear the bishop's apology. Reading his text, he commenced thus: 'Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou art this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king's most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life if thou offendest. Therefore, take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease. But, then, consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence thou comest? Upon whose message thou art sent? Even by the great and mighty God, who is all-present, and who beholdeth all thy ways, and who is able to cast thy soul into Hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliver thy message faithfully.'"
He then repeated the sermon of the previous Sunday, word for word, but with double its former energy and emphasis. The Court was full of excitement to learn what would be the fate of this plain-dealing and fearless bishop. He was ordered into the king's presence, who, with a stern voice, asked: "How dared you thus offend me?" "I merely discharged my duty," was Latimer's reply. The king arose from his seat, embraced the good man, saying, "Blessed be God I have so honest a servant."
He was a worthy successor of Nathan, who confronted King David with his sin, and said, "Thou art the man."
This Divine courage will surely accompany the fiery baptism of the Spirit.
What is it but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that gives courage to Salvation Army Officers and Soldiers, enabling them to face danger and difficulty and loneliness with joy, and attack sin in its worst forms as fearlessly as David attacked Goliath?
"Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord."
"Shall I, for fear of feeble man, The Spirit's course in me restrain? Awed by a mortal's frown, shall I Conceal the word of God most high? Shall I, to soothe the unholy throng, Soften Thy truth, or smooth my tongue?
"How then before Thee shall I dare To stand, or how Thine anger bear? Yea, let men rage; since Thou wilt spread Thy shadowing wings around my head; Since in all pain Thy tender love Will still my sure refreshment prove."
3. He was _without guile_. "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile; but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."
He was frank and open. He spoke right out of his heart. He was transparently simple and straightforward. Since God had honoured him with this infinite trust of preaching the Gospel, he sought to so preach it that he should please God regardless of men. And yet that is the surest way to please men. People who listen to such a man feel his honesty, and realise that he is seeking to do them good, to save them rather than to tickle their ears and win their applause, and in their hearts they are pleased.
But, anyway, whether or not they are pleased, he is to deliver his message as an ambassador, and look to his home government for his reward. He gets his commission from God, and it is God who will try his heart and prove his ministry. Oh, to please Jesus! Oh, to stand perfect before God after preaching His Gospel!
4. He was _not a time-server nor a covetous man._ "Neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness," he adds.
There are three ways of reaching a man's purse: (1) Directly. (2) By way of his head with flattering words. (3) By way of his heart with manly, honest, saving words. The first way is robbery. The second way is robbery, with the poison of a deadly, but pleasing, opiate added, which may damn his soul. The third reaches his purse by saving his soul and opening in his heart an unfailing fountain of benevolence to bless himself and the world.
It were better for a preacher to turn highwayman, and rob men with a club and a strong hand, than, with smiles and smooth words and feigned and fawning affection, to rob them with flattery, while their poor souls, neglected and deceived, go down to Hell. How will he meet them in the Day of Judgment, and look into their horrorstricken faces, realising that he played and toyed with their fancies and affections and pride to get money, and, instead of faithfully warning them and seeking to save them, with flattering words fattened their souls for destruction!
Not so did Paul. "I seek not yours, but you," he wrote the Corinthians. It was not their money, but their souls he wanted.
But such faithful love will be able to command all men have to give. Why, to some of his converts he wrote: "I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me" (Gal. iv. 15). But he sought not to please them with flattering words, only to save them.
So faithful was he in this matter, and so conscious of his integrity, that he called God Himself into the witness-box. "God is witness," says he.
Blessed is the man who can call on God to witness for him; and that man in whom the Holy Spirit dwells in fullness can do this. Can you, my brother?
5. He was _not vain-glorious, nor dictatorial, nor oppressive_. Some men care nothing for money, but they care mightily for power and place and the glory that men give. But Paul was free from this spiritual itching. Listen to him: "Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome" (or "used authority") "as the Apostles of Christ."
Said Solomon, "For men to seek their own glory is not glory," it is only vain-glory. "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" asked Jesus.
From all this Paul was free, and so is every man who is full of the Holy Ghost. And it is only as we are thus free that with the whole heart and with a single eye we can devote ourselves to the work of saving men.
6. With all his boldness and faithfulness he was _gentle_. "We were gentle among you," he says, "as a nurse cherisheth her children."
The fierce hurricane which casts down the giant trees of the forest is not so mighty as the gentle sunshine, which, from tiny seeds and acorns, lifts aloft the towering spires of oak and fir on a thousand hills and mountains.
The wild storm that lashes the sea into foam and fury is feeble compared to the gentle, yet immeasurably powerful influence, which twice a day swings the oceans in resistless tides from shore to shore.
And as in the physical world the mighty powers are gentle in their vast workings, so it is in the spiritual world. The light that falls on the lids of the sleeping infant and wakes it from its slumber, is not more gentle than the "still small voice" that brings assurance of forgiveness or cleansing to them that look unto Jesus.
Oh, the gentleness of God! "Thy gentleness hath made me great," said David. "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Cor. x. 1), wrote Paul. And again, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness" (Gal. v. 22). And as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are gentle, so will be the servant of the Lord who is filled with the Spirit.
I shall never forget the gentleness of a mighty man of God whom I well knew, who on the platform was clothed with zeal as with a garment, and in his overwhelming earnestness was like a lion or a consuming fire; but when dealing with a wounded or broken heart, or with a seeking soul, no nurse with a little babe could be more tender than he.
7. Finally, Paul was full of _self-forgetful, self-sacrificing love._ "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."
No wonder he shook those heathen cities, overthrew their idols, had great revivals, that his jailer was converted, and that his converts would have gladly plucked out their eyes for him! Such tender, self-sacrificing love compels attention, begets confidence, enkindles love, and surely wins its object.
This burning love led him to labour and sacrifice, and so live and walk before them that he was not only a teacher, but an example of all he taught, and could safely say, "Follow me."
This love led him to preach the whole truth, that he might by all means save them. He kept back no truth because it was unpopular, for it was their salvation and not his own reputation and popularity he sought.
He preached not himself, but a crucified Christ, without the shedding of whose blood there is no remission of sins; and
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