Octavius Winslow: “The Holy Spirit a Deep and Living Well of All Spiritual Blessings”

19 12 2011

Winslow was a Puritan reformer in England who appears to know the Holy Spirit well! Below is an excerpt from his work “The Holy Spirit: An Experimental and Practical View”. “Experimental theology” was quite important to the puritans of that day. In a nutshell, “experimental” is shorthand for practical experiences of grace that the believer can recognize and rejoice in. Experimental theology is somewhat of a lost discipline, and though it has almost universally fallen out of favor I find it an indispensable tool in pastoral care and discipleship. Perhaps more on that later! For now enjoy the reading!

The Spirit dwells in the believer as the ever-living Spirit of all grace and comfort. All that is really holy and gracious in a child of God is found in the work of the indwelling Spirit. All the holy breathings and desires of the soul, all the longings for God and for conformity to His will and image, all that is lovely and like Jesus in the saint, are the result of this gracious act of the eternal Spirit. The Lord Jesus Himself would direct us to this truth. John 4.14: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” That this well of water is the indwelling of the Spirit, seems clear from the loth verse: “Jesus answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of God,” etc.; that “gift of God” was the Holy Spirit, alluded to again still more emphatically in ch. 7. 38, 39: “He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which those who believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”)

Here is a gracious truth. The Spirit in every believer is a deep and living well of all spiritual blessings. He dwells in the soul “not like a stagnant pool, but like an ever-living fountain that flows at all seasons of the year, in heat and cold, and in all external circumstances of weather, whether foul or fair, wet or dry.” Nature could not produce that which the indwelling Spirit accomplishes in the saints of God. The hungering and the thirsting for righteousness, the rising of the heart in filial love to God, the sweet submission to His sovereign will, the longing for more knowledge of Christ, the constant struggling with the law of sin, the mourning over the indwelling principle of sin; all this is above and far beyond nature. It is the fruit, the precious fruit, of the indwelling spirit.
It may be, reader, that your heart is often anxious to know in what way you may distinguish between nature and grace, how you may clearly discern between that which is legal and that which is spiritual, between that which is the work of man, and that which is the work of God. In this way you may trace the vast difference- that which at first came from God, returns to God again. It rises to the source where it descended. Divine grace in a sinner’s heart is a springing well- “a well of water springing up into eternal life.” Did nature ever teach a soul the plague of its own heart? Never! Did nature ever lay the soul in the dust before God, mourning and weeping over sin? Never! Did nature ever inspire the soul with pantings for God and thirstings for holiness? Never! And did it ever endear the throne of grace, and make precious to the soul the atoning blood, the justifying righteousness of Jesus? Never! never! All this as much transcends the power of nature as the creating of a world. Is this your real state, reader? O look up! “Flesh and blood” did not reveal it to you- but the eternal God has revealed it and that by the indwelling of His own blessed Spirit in your heart.

read it all here





Horatius Bonar: The Holy Spirit, Not Power but Person

19 12 2011

How do we think of the Holy Spirit? Some churches don’t think about him at all. But those who do, often think of him as a power or influence. So in some churches the Holy Spirit is articulated as a force that works on the heart for conversion. In other churches the Holy Spirit is a force that makes us feel good. In other churches the Holy Spirit is a force that creates power for believers to perform miraculous works of healing. Some go so far as to imagine him as a wild storm, blowing throughout the church thoughtlessly and without purpose. But here is the problem with that kind of thinking. When we reduce the Holy Spirit to a power, and not a person, then he is merely an accessory (albeit a neccessary asscessory) to the persons of the Father and the Son. You can have a relationship with a person, but not an accesssory. But the scriptures understand the Spirit as a person. He is powerful, but he is not power. He is a person who applies his power thoughtfully and purposefully. And how is it applied? Bonar says it is applied chiefly through love, thus he calls it “The Gospel of the Love of the Holy Spirit.” Enjoy!

Perhaps much of our slow progress in the walk of faith is to be traced to our overlooking the love of the Spirit. We do not deal with Him, for strength and advancement, as one who really loveth us, and longs to bless us, and delights to help our infirmities (Rom 8:26). We regard Him as cold, or distant, or austere; we do not trust Him for His grace, nor realize how much He is in earnest in His dealings with us. More childlike confidence in Him and in His love would help us on mightily. Let us not grieve Him, nor vex Him, nor quench Him by our untrustfulness, by disbelieving or doubting the riches of His grace, the abundance of His loving-kindness.

He is no mere “influence,” but a living “Personality”; and there is a vast difference between these two things. An “influence” cannot love us, and we cannot love an “influence.” If there is to be love, there must be personality; and, in this case, it must be the personality of love. The fresh breath of spring is an influence, but not a personality. It cannot love us nor call on us to love it. The voice of that which we call “nature” is an influence, but not a personality. There can be no mutual love between it and us. But a being with a soul is a personality, not an influence; and the love of man or woman is a personal thing, a true and real affection-one eye looking into another, and one heart touching its fellow. So is it with the love of the Spirit. There is a personality about Him passing all the personalities of earth,-passing all the personalities of men or angels; and it is this divine personality that makes His love so precious and so suitable, as well as so true and real. There is no reality of love like that of the Spirit. It has nothing in common with the coldness or distance of a mere “influence.” It comes closely home to a human heart, because it is the love of Him who formed the heart, and who is seeking to make it His abode for ever.

The proofs of His love are abundant. They are divine proofs; and, therefore, assuredly true. It is God who has given them to us, that no doubt of the Spirit’s love may ever enter our minds. They are spread over all Scripture, in different forms and aspects. While the Bible was meant to be specially the revelation of the Son of God, it is also the revelation of the Holy Spirit. He reveals Himself while revealing Christ. He utters His own love while showing us the love of the Father and the Son.

Bonar, “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit’s Love” Read it all here