Lecture 1.

The Holy Spirit in the Dispensations: —

Before Christ, the Present Age, the Millennium.


"O Lord, we know it matters not
How sweet the song may be;
No heart but of the Spirit taught
Makes melody to Thee.

Then teach Thy gathered saints,
O Lord, To worship in Thy fear;
And let Thy grace mould ev'ry word
That meets Thy holy ear.

Thou hast by blood made sinners meet,
As saints in light, to come
And worship at the mercy-seat,
Before th' eternal throne.

Thy precious name is all we show,
Our only passport, Lord;
And full assurance now we know,
Confiding in Thy word.

O largely give, 'tis all Thine own,
The Spirit's goodly fruit:
Praise, issuing forth in life, alone
Our living Lord can suit."

It is interesting to note that there is reference to the Holy Spirit in one of the earliest and one of the last verses in the Bible. In Genesis 1:2, we read, "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters;" and in Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the Bride say come." The first passage shows us the superintendence of the Spirit in the preparation of the earth for the habitation of man. Typically we see His work in regeneration; — all is waste and desolate, and the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters. In Revelation, the Spirit utters the longing with which the Bride, the Church, unites, "Come Lord Jesus." Here the look is onward to the coming of our Lord, and so on through eternity. Thus the Spirit begins the work of God in our souls and carries it on to the time of full fruition, to eternity itself. Can we then overestimate the importance of the subject which is before us at this time — the Person and work of the Holy Spirit?

Strange as it may seem, we are met at the very outset by a question which we must answer before we can take up what is properly before us tonight. Men have asked, "Is there such a person as the Holy Ghost?" Is not all reference to a person in Scripture simply a striking way of referring to the attributes of God? Is not the Spirit simply an all pervading, divine influence?

Now we need not be long detained upon this matter, but we must speak in no uncertain way. This question involves a denial of the very being of God, and therefore must be treated as all other unbelieving questions. God has been pleased to reveal something of the infinite depths of the mystery of His Holy Person to us. He is — in Christianity — revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We must tread softly here, for we are on holy ground. There are depths which we cannot fathom, but we can at least look and wonder, confess and worship. A denial of either of these divine Persons is a denial of God. If it is shocking for a person to deny the divinity of Christ, it is none the less so for him to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, you will frequently find these two forms of unbelief together. But let us look at a few passages from the word of God which show beyond a question the personality of the Holy Spirit.

"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there, if I make my bed in hell, behold Thou art there" (Ps. 139:7, 8). Here one of the attributes of God — His omnipresence — is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, He is spoken of as God — "Thy presence."

"Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God" (Heb. 9:14). Here we have another attribute — that of eternity. The Spirit of God is ever existent. "Lord Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God" (Ps. 90:1, 2). Such language could only be applied to the Eternal, and is suggested by the phrase, "the eternal Spirit."

"The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:10, 11). Omniscience, an other attribute of Deity alone, is before us here as belonging to the Spirit. He knoweth, and searcheth all things, knoweth the end from the beginning, for He is God.

"The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4). God the Creator is almighty, omnipotent. None but Him can call into being. When therefore creation is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, it in the strongest way teaches both His personality and His Deity.

Thus the Spirit is omnipresent, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent. He is God.

Let us turn to a few more passages showing more particularly His personality. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? . . . thou hast not lied unto men but unto God" (Acts 5:3, 4). Men cannot lie to an influence, or deceive what is not a person. A divine being had taken up His abode in the Church, which He formed at Pentecost, and it was to Him that Ananias had lied. So in like manner, when the saints were waiting on God at Antioch, preparatory to the first expansive work of the Church, it was the Holy Ghost who said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:1, 2). This but illustrates the personal oversight and direction of the sovereign Spirit as described in 1 Cor. 12:11, "All these things worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will."

Without pausing to dwell upon the special significance of the passages, we might also notice how the personality of the Holy Spirit is emphasized in the exhortations, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4:30), "Quench not the Spirit" Thess. 5:19), "Praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude. 20). These are but a few of the passages abounding in the Scriptures, which are bereft of their meaning if the blessed Spirit of God is not a person. Any student of Scripture will think of many other passages equally clear.

Coming now to what is our subject this evening — the Holy Spirit in the Dispensations — it will hardly be necessary to more than remind you that there are dispensations in the history of God's ways with man. A dispensation is God's manner of dealing during any period of time. For our purpose at this time it will suffice to include these in three general divisions, marked most clearly in Scripture. We have the ages before Christ, the present or Christian period, and the future or Millennial age.* All God's counsels centre in Christ, and until He came and accomplished His work, all God's ways were of a preparatory and anticipative character. The law had a shadow of good things to come. God could and did bless individuals, give revelations of His will, and intrust a testimony to a special people, but everything looked onward; the heir was yet a child, under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father. During this period the Holy Spirit's work was, of course, in accordance with the purpose of God. He was, as ever, the executor of the divine will.

{*While the first period, from Adam to Christ, has evidently three divisions — the age of promise, from Adam to the flood; the age of Government, under Noah and his successors; and the National age from the call of Abraham and the establishment of Israel as a nation, until Christ — yet for our purpose these three divisions may be considered as one, with common characteristics.}

We may class what we have to say of this first dispensation under three general heads: The work of the Spirit in the individual, His prophetic work, and the types of fuller and more abundant work in time to come.

God has ever, and will ever, so long as His day of patience lingers, work in the souls of individuals. The verse which we have already quoted shows us, though typically, that when the ruin had come in and man was morally waste and desolate, the blessed Spirit of God began His work. He broods amid nature's darkness, over the heart of man, and light shines into the soul through His instrumentality. Thus the first glimmers of faith in Adam giving his wife her name — the mother of living, amid a scene of death, — or in Abel bringing his sacrifice to God, witness of a divine work in the soul, of faith and a new life produced where absolute death had come in through separation from God.

We are not speaking of the character of this new life, but of the fact. Did Enoch have life when he pleased God? did Noah when he prepared the ark? did Abraham when he left kindred and country at the call of God? Doubtless their intelligence was limited, and the character of their walk and testimony correspondingly modified. But can a man walk with God unless he has life? Can a man believe God and not live unto Him?

So when our Lord spoke to Nicodemus of the new birth, He was talking of what any spiritual mind would acknowledge. When we come to Ezekiel we will see passages to which, no doubt, our Lord directly referred in that memorable interview; but who that realized what the fall meant, the separation from God and moral death resulting, could doubt that a new life was needed?

Thus new birth, in the individual, is the first work of the Spirit of God of which we speak. Let us thank Him for the gift of life by the Spirit. It is the common blessing of all dispensations. Revelations vary, modes of dealing change — ever accomplishing the counsels of Him who is perfect in wisdom; but the common life produced by the Spirit of God is in the whole family — before Christ, now, and during the Millennial age. Abraham was, and is, the father — in moral relationship of all them that believe.*

{*I add a further word to avoid any possible misunderstanding of what is so unmistakable. We are not speaking of intelligence, nor of position. The greatest possible difference exists as to these. Old Testament saints were not in the Church, were not indwelt by the Spirit, were not linked with Christ in glory, doubtless were not consciously justified and in the light before God, as we, Christians, are. But they did have life, — for death is the opposite of life — and surely they were not dead and under wrath. That Christianity is "more abundant" life, all will admit. It is the full unfolding of the blessed purposes of God's love. But let us recognize the common family tie.}

Passing now to another and quite different feature of the work of the Spirit in Old Testament times, we find a large number of most interesting instances of which we will take a few.

Exodus 31:2, 3. "See I have called by name Bezaleel and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and in understanding, and in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship," &c. God had given Moses the pattern of the Tabernacle, had described the materials of which it was to be made and its parts in minute detail. To carry out, to execute these plans, He specially qualified two men, giving them His Spirit to endow them. I believe it is a great mistake to think that these men were simply skillful workmen, or even that we have here a recognition that God is the giver of all ability. There is something special here, and when we remember what the Tabernacle was to show forth, we are not surprised. It was said of the Spirit by our Lord, "He shall glorify me," (John 16:14). The Tabernacle was intended to set forth the glories of Christ, and need we wonder at the special endowment and supervision of the Holy Spirit, that every part might perfectly express the thoughts of God. I love to think of the Holy Spirit directing these men, so that all — boards and sockets, curtains, veil and furniture — might speak of the person and work of the blessed Lord. Here there was a directing, supervising work of the Spirit for a special purpose.

Let us look next at a very different kind of passage: Numbers 24:2. "And Balaam lifted up his eyes and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him," &c. The history of Balaam furnishes food for solemn thought. He had no love for God, nor for the people of God. He loved money and all that goes with it. He was willing to do anything for money. Here we see him desiring to be the tool of Balak, king of Moab, and to curse Israel for him. It meant a reward and honor for him, and eager was he to do his work.

But Balaam knew that he could do naught but by the Spirit of God, yea and that he must speak standing by the altar and the sacrifice. What a sight the bitter relentless enemy of God's people, king Balak, eagerly waiting for the curse to fall upon them; the willing tool, Balaam, desiring to be permitted to blast them with God's malediction — but the sacrifice and the altar, speaking of redemption for a sinful people. Do you wonder that no curses, but blessings only, fall from the lips of Balaam? that the Spirit of God compels this wretched man to speak the truth? "How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied?" Beloved brethren, every one, whether Satan or his tools, must pronounce his curse upon the people of God standing, as it were, by the cross. All our blessings come from that cross, and Satan's futile rage cannot reverse it.

Notice how remarkably the Spirit of God works here. Balaam is not regenerate, and he is linked with the enemies of God and yet the Spirit puts a word in his mouth and compels its utterance. That word is as true as any that inspiration ever uttered — blessedly true — and yet spoken by the unwilling lips of a wicked man! What an illustration of the mighty irresistible power of that Spirit, and what a joy to know that the power is for and not against us. Alas! poor Balaam! he may speak by the Spirit, but be a stranger to the Spirit. He falls among the enemies of God, having done his utmost to defile those whom he could not destroy (See Rev. 2:14).

Other similar instances occur where unregenerate persons were made the instruments, for the time being, of the Spirit of God. 1 Sam. 11:6, "And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings and his anger was kindled greatly," etc. I have selected this passage as one of many showing the work of the Spirit in leading to definite action. Throughout the book of Judges it is of frequent occurrence, when God was about to deliver his people. We would fain believe that many upon whom the Spirit thus came were children of God. Alas! no proof of that exists as to king Saul — a man of unbounded opportunities who departed from God, persecuted the man of God, and passed, at last, out of the world by his own hand, after having consulted a witch. But there can be no question that the Spirit made use of king Saul to conquer the enemies of the Lord. Who are the mightiest foes when the Spirit of God takes hold of one? "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God lifts up a standard against them." The power of the Spirit is here seen.

So also when Saul would pursue David, he sends messengers (1 Samuel 19:18-24) to take him but when these see the prophets at Ramah and hear their words, the Spirit of God falls upon them likewise and they are compelled to own His power. Even Saul himself must yield to this and himself become for the time the pliant instrument in the hands of the Spirit.

But this just leads us to the border land of the Spirit's work in prophecy. It would be farthest from the truth to think that He ordinarily used enemies, or those not born again. On the contrary, without doubt, His usual channels of communication were children of God, who bowed in soul to the message, were in the current of His purpose, and thus appropriate instruments of His will. We must then look a little at prophecy in Old Testament times.

While there was, much in common between the judge and the prophet, we think of the former as an administrator chiefly, while the work of the latter was mainly to convey the mind of God to His people. Prophecy takes its rise, as a distinctive thing, upon the failure of the priesthood. Peter notes this in one of his pentecostal addresses, naming Samuel as the first (Acts 3:24). We cannot here speak in detail of that dark and humbling page in Israel's history, when the lamp of the Lord burned so dimly in His house at Shiloh and finally went out in the gloom — the ark of God in captivity, His priests slain for their failure and sin, and "Ichabod," descriptive of that place where the glory once abode. Eli had failed, though he loved God, but his sons knew not and loved not the Holy One. Never again did God's throne return to Shiloh. "He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men . . . . He refused the tabernacle of Joseph and chose not the tribe of Ephraim," (Ps. 78:60, 67). Typically, the ark returned to Mount Zion as God's rest forever (Ps. 132:3, 14). But not yet has the glory truly taken up its abode there, and will not till the true King comes of whom David and Solomon were but types.

It was in this interval between the priesthood and the king that the prophet arose. And for Israel his work continued until John the Baptist. "The Law and the prophets were until John" who while a prophet was more than that, because he was the messenger sent before the face of the Lord.

But we cannot speak in detail of the work of the prophet save as it bears upon our subject. The Spirit of God came with a special message when the ordinary channels of communication between God and His people had become choked. Ordinarily, the priesthood was for the maintenance of relationship. But when that failed, the people were cut off from all intercourse, save where individual faith doubtless laid hold upon Him. The Lord's sacrifice was abhorred and His people scattered as sheep.

We see the sovereignty of God, as well as His love, in calling out vessels of His choice to meet the need. This is emphasized in the selection of the child Samuel, sought of God as he was about to fall asleep. A sleeping child! what more unlikely instrument, in human judgment, for the Spirit of God. So all along in subsequent history. God chose His messengers as it pleased Him — often the most unlikely, as in the case of Amos.

Then, too, the message of the prophet was remarkable. I do not think you will find the prophet attempting to restore things to their former condition. We may take it as almost an axiom that God never restores a ruin. There were two things however which the prophet did declare: first, he brought home the sin of the people and laid it upon their conscience, and often for the time being there would be a measure of repentance and a postponement of the threatened judgment. But the second part of the prophet's work was to point forward to the only true remedy, the coming and reign of Christ.

To the eye of sense the work of the prophet was hopeless and gloomy in the extreme. Without specifying, a few chapters in Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel will confirm this. But if the gloom rested upon the scene close at hand, the glory of God lighted up the future. The weary prophet might and did scan the pages of his message with the earnest inquiry when the morning would break, with the reply that it could only come when Christ came.

Now all this varied and rich ministry was the work of the Spirit of God. There is a remarkable passage in 1 Peter which confirms this: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" (1 Peter 1:10-12). Here we are told the Spirit of Christ foretold His sufferings and glory — a glory not yet revealed for Israel and the earth. The prophets longed to know when these things should be (see Dan. 12:8), and to them it was revealed that they would take place when Christ came. Thus the Holy Spirit was engaged during this time in telling the people their sins and then pointing forward to the glory of Christ's kingdom. Of course, I need hardly say the prophets knew nothing of the Church, that mystery hidden in the bosom of God, but only of the kingdom, whose establishment still waits.

This, most fragmentary, view of prophecy must suffice us for the present. At any rate we see what place the blessed Spirit of God occupied in it. All was preparatory and predictive. Into details, as I said, we cannot go. The history of Elijah and Elisha in Israel, and of the various servants of God in Judah, as recorded in the books of Chronicles, will show how varied this service was. The Holy Spirit was, if we may use such language, bridging the time between the failed priesthood and the coming King, who should as Priest upon His throne unite in unfailing blessedness both offices (see Zech. 6:13). But we must turn to the closing feature of the Spirit's presentation in Old Testament times.

We can hardly speak of the types of the Spirit as a part of His work, but it is at least a part of the way in which He is presented to us in the Old Testament, and this seems to be therefore the place for a glance at these types.

When God breathed into man the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), we seem to have a figure of the Spirit breathed into the new man. Certainly our Lord's action in breathing upon His disciples, was a reminder of this, and His words leave no doubt as to His meaning: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22). He was the giver of the Spirit. Man is but the receiver. And does not this inbreathing of the Spirit suggest that He is to control the entire life of the new man?

But we come next to a clearer type of the Spirit — the dove in the ark (Gen. 8:7-12). This need not detain us long, for all is familiar and clear here. The flood speaks of the judgment coming upon all men for their sins; the ark, of Christ the only shelter from the judgment. He has gone through the flood of wrath, and as the ark touched Ararat, the new earth, so Christ risen has passed into the new scene. But His people while still prisoners of hope, can know nothing of what is theirs in Christ risen. Therefore the Spirit, — the dove is given to make us know what is ours. The dove is sent out thrice to make known the state of what was not visible. On his first flight he finds nothing but a scene of desolation, and in contrast to the raven, who will feed upon the refuse of what has been judged, he returns to the Ark. The Spirit of God can find nothing in a world under judgment to rest upon, and returns, as it were, to Christ. It is as though He said to us, You will find nothing in all this world for your heart to rest upon; Christ is all. On the contrary the raven, type of the flesh, chooses anything but the restraint of the ark; just as the flesh cannot endure the presence of Christ.

Next, the dove brings back something from the new earth — an olive leaf, pledge of fruitfulness after the judgment. So the Spirit is for us the earnest of our inheritance — the foretaste and the pledge of what is to come. The olive leaf itself suggests the fruits of the Spirit — the olive producing oil — which are in connection with the new creation. Thus the Spirit would occupy us with "the things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."

The dove lastly flies off into the regenerated earth, and thus Noah knows that the waters have departed. I need hardly say how the time is soon coming when the Spirit, who now fills the heart with longing for the coming of the Lord, will with the Church pass into that inheritance of which He is now the earnest. No one can fail to notice too the appropriateness of the dove as a type of the Spirit. Love and sorrow are the characteristics of the gentlest of birds, and fittingly set forth the infinite tenderness and love of that Holy Person, who rested upon the "Man of sorrows."

Exodus 13:21 gives us another type of the Spirit. Israel have been sheltered by the blood of the Passover Lamb in the land of Egypt, and have set out on their journey to the promised land. Before they cross the Red Sea, the Lord leads them by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. In like manner are those who have found shelter behind the blood of Christ, accompanied all their journey through. This Shekinah-cloud is ever with them, as the Holy Spirit abides with us forever. Let us notice too how His presence is manifest — in contrast with the surroundings; by day there is a cloud casting its shadow over them; in the darkness of the night a bright pillar of fire shines through the "encircling gloom." So is it with the Spirit and the believer. In the day-time of life, when the sun of prosperity shines brightly, the Spirit would ever remind us not to trust in these uncertain things; the world is a place of change and its brightest scenes are but the harbingers of coming sorrow. But in the night of affliction, when sorrow falls like a dark pall, and we see nothing here to rest upon, how brightly does the Spirit shine ever leading us on to the abode of God who is light.

We find the Spirit presented in still another type in Exodus 27:20, 21. Here it is the oil for the lamps, a well-known emblem of the Holy Spirit. We can barely hint at the fulness of meaning here. The tabernacle, as we said a little while ago, with all its furniture, speaks of Christ. Altar of incense and table with showbread, tell of His varied characters and offices. Particularly, the golden candlestick, with its seven branches adorned with almond blossoms and fruits, tells us of a Risen, divine Lord, the giver of the Spirit. Now all this beauty would be invisible but for the oil by which the lamps illumine every thing. Thus the Spirit enables us to see the beauty of Christ, and to engage intelligently in His worship.

The oil comes in another way in anointing. Priests and kings were thus set apart for their work, and this reminds us how God anointed the Lord Jesus with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38). It is beautiful to see too the oil poured upon a cleansed leper (Lev. 14:14, 17). The same Spirit who came upon Christ, anointing Him for service comes upon the sinner cleansed by His precious blood.

But we must now pass to the second portion of our subject, the Spirit during the Christian dispensation. As we are not to dwell upon the former age it was well to devote more time to it in this introductory lecture. In like manner as all our subsequent evenings will be devoted to the Spirit in the present age, our consideration of that part will be correspondingly brief.

There are just two lines of truth here that I wish to dwell upon tonight, believing them to give largely what is the specific and special work of the Spirit at the present time. They are the Baptism and the Indwelling of the Spirit.

When John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, was preaching repentance and making disciples — baptizing them in water, as a badge of discipleship and a sign of the death they deserved, he said to the expectant multitude, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt. 3:11). The Lord Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. While the baptism with fire unquestionably points on, as the context shows, to the final judgment of sinners, yet even now the Spirit of God brings the truth of judgment home to the soul. Thus, anticipating judgment, the soul bows to the sentence of God and accepts His salvation. Thus there is a modified baptism of fire at Pentecost, indicated by the tongues of fire.

But it is of the baptism of the Spirit that we are speaking now. After His resurrection our Lord refers to John's prediction as being near fulfilment. "John truly baptized with water but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:5). Thus all during our Lord's earthly ministry, the Spirit had not been given in the way here described. Turning to Acts 2 we find the wondrous outpouring of the Holy Ghost, the baptism promised and waited for.

This marks the beginning of the Church, the body of Christ, as our next quotation will show. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). The Church is the body of Christ, it is a unit. In contrast to previous national or social distinctions, the Spirit unites all its members into one living organism. The Spirit sets the various members, with their various functions, in the body according to His sovereign will. Thus there are many individual members, yet but one body.

What is involved in all this it will be our privilege to see later, if the Lord please. Just here we wish simply to note the special work of the Spirit in this baptism. This marks, as we were saying, the beginning of the Church. Persons who have not understood this fact have spoken of the Church as beginning with the call of Abraham, or with the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. They would apply the glowing predictions of the prophets as to the future glory of Israel to the spiritual prosperity of the Church. Not only does the utmost confusion result from this, but positive injury is done to the saints of the present age, by linking their hopes and interests with the development of an earthly Kingdom, instead of showing their destiny as members of the Body, the Bride of Christ, to be heaven and its glories.

The Baptism of the Spirit then was foretold by John the Baptist, reaffirmed by our risen Lord, and on His ascent to the right hand of God, it then began. Since that time every believer is baptized by the Spirit, introduced into the Church, the Body of Christ.

The second and only other characteristic feature of the Spirit's work during Christianity, to which we will refer tonight, is the Indwelling. All Christians are familiar with that wondrous discourse of our Lord in the 14th, 15th and 16th chapters of John. Two great facts are spoken of repeatedly — His own departure to the Father, and the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Previously, in the 7th chapter, the Evangelist had stated that the Holy Ghost was not given because Jesus was not yet glorified. In speaking of His departure to the glory, our Lord links with it the promise of the Spirit. He should come in an especial manner and dwell in them, never to depart. This blessed Comforter, or Advocate, would testify of Christ, would bring all things to their remembrance and show them things to come.

Of such immense importance was the coming and indwelling of the Spirit that our Lord tells His disciples that it was expedient, advantageous, for Him to go away in order that the Spirit might come. Had He not said it, who could have conceived the possibility of there being any privilege greater than personal contact and association with the Lord Himself. But when we compare the disciples, with their partial and earthly conceptions before Pentecost, and those same disciples after the descent of the Spirit, we see how true were our Lord's words.

We will look at but two phases of the indwelling of the Spirit, individual and corporate: "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price?" (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). Here the body of the individual believer is called the temple, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. What a fact! God the Spirit dwelling in us. That holy presence, that divine Being! What place can sin have in connection with such a presence? Not only are the grosser forms of evil, spoken of in the immediate context, excluded by such a fact, but the unclean or selfish thought, the idle word — what place have they in the temple of God? What grace too this is, when we think that these bodies were once the abodes and the servants of sin. Dear brethren, how feeble is our conception of the presence of this blessed, heavenly Guest! May we realize it more fully.

Other passages furnish another wondrous thought of the indwelling of the Spirit. "In whom ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22). The subject here is not the individual saint, but all who are upon the foundation of which Christ is the corner-stone. These all form the temple or house of God, which is growing (without sound of hammer, under the silent working of the Spirit) into a holy temple in the Lord. The topmost stone will soon be laid, and amid universal joy the Church, the heavenly temple or dwelling place of God, will be manifested in glory. But meanwhile the whole body of believers is looked upon as a temple, a habitation for the Spirit of God.

It ill becomes us to be censorious, but, beloved brethren, when we think of the Church in the mind of God, and as even now indwelt by the Spirit, and then look about us at the rent and divided state of the saints, can we fail to ask where is the temple of the Spirit? Where is that one Church, the habitation of God? Surely no group of saints in the divided state amongst us, could lay claim to being the temple of God. Such arrogance brings its own rebuke. But, oh! shall we not weep as we think of the purposes of God, and at the wreck of things as left in man's hands?

But though we are in the midst of ruins, God's truth remains, and the blessed fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in the whole Church corporately is as true now as at Pentecost. That the Church has lost incalculably by failing to realize this fact, and to own the presence and control of the Spirit, it is scarcely necessary to say. Think of God the Spirit dwelling in, presiding over the whole testimony on earth! Think of His directing all worship, energizing all service, ordering all discipline. What room for forms, human directors, and human contrivances? And let us be well assured of this, that where there is faith to count upon God and obedience to His truth, the presence of the Spirit in the Church will be found to be no mere doctrine, but a blessed reality, even to two or three who acknowledge His presence. Only let Him be supreme, let Him control absolutely, by the word of God, and saints of God will find what a stupendous fact we have been considering.

These then are the two characteristic features of the Spirit's work at this time — Baptism and Indwelling. The first shows us the formation of the Church, the Body of Christ, as distinct from every other work of God, and the latter shows us the power for walk and order both in the individual and the Church as a whole. This must serve but as the introduction to what will further engage our attention.

It now remains for us to consider the distinctive features of the Spirit's work during the Millennium, the period of Israel's glory and of Christ's reign upon the earth.

We will begin by quoting a passage which is of double interest, as linking together the two dispensations, or rather as giving what is common to both. Peter began his address at Pentecost by quoting a passage from the prophet Joel: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit . . . and it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call" (Joel 2:28-32).

Now it may be said that Peter's quotation of this passage and his application of it to the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost disproves what we have been saying of the unique character and destiny of the Church. Is it not after all identical with Israel? A few considerations will clear this up, and show that Israel and the Church are absolutely distinct. You will recall the predictions and remark of our Lord as to John the Baptist. It was said that he would go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias (Luke 1:17). Our Lord in speaking of him said, "Elias is come already and they knew him not" (Matt. 17:10-12). He had previously declared, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come" (Matt. 11:14).

Now, here it is perfectly plain that John was in his person and ministry a fulfilment of the promise as to Elias. If they had bowed to his message and accepted him, they would have found that the kingdom of Christ would have been introduced and the day of the Lord ushered in. But they had no heart for John and did to him as they listed.

In just the same way, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was, to all intents, had the nation been ready to bow to God, the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy. Students of Scripture have frequently remarked how lingeringly God bore with the Jews all through the first seven chapters of Acts. Until Stephen's death, we might say, the Lord was ready to return to the repentant nation. Alas! the nation was not ready to have Him, and so the counsels of God went on to their fulfilment as to the Church. Had they received the truth as a nation, the prophecy of Joel would have been completely fulfilled as it was, that fulfilment, for Israel, remains until a future day. Then upon Mount Zion, God's earthly centre, there will be deliverance, and through the remnant who turn to Him blessing shall flow out to the nation and the world at large.

The Millennium, then, will be marked by the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh in connection with a display of special prophetic gifts and judgments upon the enemies of Christ. You will note this is not baptism into one Body, nor Indwelling. Several passages will go into detail.

Those of you who are familiar with the subject of the arrangement of the books of the Bible according to their numerical structure* will remember that the prophet Ezekiel was the third of the prophetic books, which also themselves form the third group of Old Testament books. Three is the number of sanctification, and of the Spirit. In the prophets as a whole, and in Ezekiel particularly, we find these marks. Sanctification and the Spirit are a Prominent theme. We will, therefore, turn to that prophet.

{*The reader is referred to "The Numerical Structure of Scripture," by F. W. Grant, also to a series of lectures entitled "From Genesis to Revelation," by S. Ridout.}

"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean . . A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes . . . And ye shall dwell in the land" (Ezek. 36:25-28). All God's dealings with the nation previous to this had been on the basis of law — with many merciful modifications and provisions — and as men in the flesh. They had failed again and again, for "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." But there will be a new order in the Millennium. The new covenant will be in operation, and its terms are, the law in their hearts and the Spirit given. (See, besides the portion we are considering, Jer. 31:31-34.) The remnant of Israel will be a regenerate, a holy people. Blessed fact! A new born nation!

It is evidently to this passage in Ezekiel that our Lord refers in His interview with Nicodemus. He, as a teacher in Israel, should have known the necessity of New Birth — born of water and of the Spirit.

There seems also to be an allusion to the next chapter (Ezek. 37:9, 14), in our Lord's reference to the wind blowing where it listeth. What is prominent in that chapter is the resurrection of the people from their graves, nationally speaking, and their restoration to the land and their reunion into the twelve tribes. Time would fail to dwell upon the beauties of that wondrous chapter. I commend it to your careful study together with other similar prophecies. It must suffice us now to know that the Spirit presides over all this blessed work of national resurrection, remission, restoration and regeneration. "And I will put my Spirit in you and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land" (verse 14).

With the Spirit among them, all born of God, and Christ over them and the sanctuary of God in the midst of them forevermore, well may the city and the land be called "Jehovah-shammah," the Lord is there.

Another chapter demands our attention before we close, the 47th of Ezekiel. The sanctuary has been rebuilt — in prophetic view — and the glory of God which left at the beginning, has returned to its final resting place (Ezek. 43:2-5). We are now to see the display of the Spirit and the blessings He brings.

Waters issue from the sanctuary and run eastward down to the Dead Sea. Water is a type of the Spirit of God in His life-giving activities, through the word of God. Life and blessing, through the Word and Spirit, flow forth to carry healing to the desolate places of the earth. Where ever the waters flow, life springs up: the bitter waters are healed and fish abound in the very lake of death. The Gentiles receive life and blessing through the Spirit and word of God. The Spirit is poured out from on high and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field (Isa. 32:15).

And as the stream flows on, it deepens: first it reaches only to the ankles; further on the waters rise to the knees, then to the loins, until their mighty depths cannot he fathomed, "Waters to swim in." Thus the blessing of the Spirit widens out in the Millennium until the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. Need we wonder that this picture furnishes the imagery for higher blessing yet, and that the last vision revealed to John's eye was that of a stream of water clear as crystal with the tree of life upon its banks? After all the earth is to be but a reflection of the glory of the heavens.

This onflowing stream suggests the conversion of the Gentiles. It is a mistake to expect the conversion of the world in this age: the Lord is taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name, to form His heavenly bride, but it will be only in the coming age that "a nation shall be born in a day."

Thus we have, imperfectly indeed, taken a survey of the subject of the Spirit in the Dispensations. How vast, how important a subject it is! I will leave three words with you as hinges upon which all that we have said turns. Before Christ, the Spirit's work, as well as all God's ways, was one of preparation; after the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, and in connection with the Church it was a time of realization. All is now real. During the Millennium, when Christ will be displayed in glory as King of His people and over all the earth, it will be the time of manifestation.

May He, that blessed One of whom we have been speaking, be unhindered in His work in our hearts and ways, in fulfilling our Lord's promise, "He shall guide you into all truth."

The Church.
"Father, oh how vast the blessing
When Thy Son returns again!
Then the Church its rest possessing,
O'er the earth with Him shall reign.

Israel.
For the fathers' sakes beloved,
Israel, in thy grace restored,
Shall on earth, the curse removed,
Be the people of the Lord.

Revelation 7.
Then, too, countless myriads, wearing
Robes made white in Jesu's blood,
Palms (like rested pilgrims) bearing,
Stand before the throne of God: —

These, redeemed from ev'ry nation,
Shall in triumph bless Thy name;
Ev'ry voice shall cry, 'Salvation
To our God and to the Lamb!'"