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OUR FAITH AND OUR EXPERIENCES. 189
thy fold? Who will hereafter nurse and feed these thy children ?" And so Jesus spoke, in response, naming him who was to sit in his place. Whom did he announce as the future minister of his Church and the future guide of his disciples ? It was the Holy Spirit, and none other, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father." -- Let not your heart be troubled," said he lovingly to his disciples, “neither let it be afraid ; I will not leave you comfortless,” Thus saying he described the functions of his great Successor. He was to be their Teacher, their Comforter and their Guide for
“I will pray the Father,” said Jesus, he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you for ever.” “I have yet many things to say unto you," he solemnly added, “ but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth' ; and he will show you things to come. These are important utterances, fraught with deep meaning, which the world has yet to realize. Gentlemen, was Christ's work over and his heavenly mission closed, when the last mournful scene on Calvary was enacted ? Was every thing really finished when Jesus uttered his last words : “ It is finished ?" No. His life on earth was over, but his work was not completed. The great and glorious work of human redemption, so well begun by him, was far from being consummated. It needed to be supplemented and perfected. The Church he built was incomplete, and was very far from reaching his ideal. He had taught many truths indeed, but much yet remained to be taught ; nor were the disciples yet prepared to receive any further lessons. A great deal of the new gospel of salvation which he had come to teach was yet veiled, but which could not be revealed, as
none seemed fit to receive it. More light the world needed for its redemption, but more light it could not bear now.
Who was to give this new light? Who was to carry on and complete those sacred teachings which Christ began, for the benefit of his disciples and the world at large ? Alas ! those lips were soon to be closed from which the stream of saving wisdom has so long flowed, but which precluded expectations of further teaching by saying : “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." Who then was to reveal to an anxious and sinful world these “ many things ?" The Holy Ghost, said Christ. Let us reverently bow, and say, Amen. The Living Spirit, coming down from the Father Himself, and speaking in His name, was to guide the disciples and the world " into all truth." To no earthly teacher, to no written record, are we referred for a fuller message of salvation. No apostle, however pure, no disciple, however wise, was named by Christ as his successor. In clear and unmistakable language he named the Holy Spirit as the future minister of his Church. The disciples were commanded to rely henceforth upon this Spiritual Guide for their future education and sanctification. Not in any outward Church, not from the lips of any human teacher, but in the dark chambers of the heart, and at the feet of the Unseen and Infinite Spirit of God must they seek wisdom, love and purity. In the days of tribulation and trial they were to look up to Him as their Comforter and Friend. In moments of doubt and vacillation they were to repair to Him as their Teacher. In the season of scarcity and want they were to seek the needful supply of spiritual provisions in His inexhaustible store-house within. And when men persecuted them, they were to fight under
Him as their Captain, and bear witness to the truth in His name. They were to adore the Spirit, converse with the Spirit, learn of the Spirit, and be baptised by the Spirit with the spirit of truth. After enunciating solemnly and publicly this great Doctrine of the Succession, Christ made over his beloved disciples and calmly resigned his ministry into the hands of Him from Whom he had received them. In a most solemn and touching prayer the loving Jesus said to his Father :“ I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do. Now I am no more in the world. Holy Father! keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me. Sanctify them through Thy truth.” And so the Heavenly Father, as soon as Christ departed from the world, took his devoted disciples under the direct guardianship and inspiration of His Holy Spirit, and His living Providence became unto them at once their Guardian, Comforter, Teacher and Saviour.
The most orthodox Christian divine need not be ashamed of so true and elevated a doctrine as this. Let no Christian think it unchristian to believe that the Holy Spirit of God is the true and living head of Christ's Church, the source of all inspiration now and for ever, and that from Him a fuller revelation of saving truth is yet to come than what has been vouchsafed to the world through Christ and recorded by the Evangelists. In Christ's own words is to be found the best and most unimpeachable authority for such a doctrine. To the Holy Spirit of God then let all Christendom bow.
The entire history of Christianity bears testimony to the doctrine of God's Spirit. Did not the Jewish Prophets proclaim in thrilling language the ancient Spirit-God of the universe ? Did not Moses receive the Decalogue on Mount Sinai from the
Unseen Jehovah ? Did not Daniel converse with the Holy Spirit ? Did not Jeremiah and Isaiah hold communion with Him ? There was no material Divinity. To no visible idol were the prayers of their hearts addressed. To the Spirit they spoke, and the Spirit replied to them. But why go back to Jewish history for evidence on this point ? Was the Spirit-God recognised and worshipped, and was His glory sung by Jewish Prophets alone ? Later on we find Saint Paul speaking frequently and emphatically of the operations of God's Spirit in sanctifying and converting the human heart. “ As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.” In the Epistles of Saint Paul we find abundant and frequent testimonies to the action of the Unseen Spirit on the heart, testimonies which to this day constitute the main stay of the spirituality of the Christian Church, and sustain the souls of thousands of Christian devotees with spiritual strength and comfort. But why do we go to the apostles and prophets of distant ages and climes in quest of the Spirit-God ? The banner of the Great Spirit was not hoisted on Jewish or Christian soil alone.
India sang the glory of the Eternal Spirit in the remotest period of history. Long has our nation been familiar with the Param Atma, the Supreme Spirit, and the light wherewith thousands of cultivated Brahmins recognise Him and adore Him throughout India is all their own, drawn from their own scriptures and their own sages. If you search the ancient scriptures of the Hindus, you will find there the most sublime and beautiful conceptions of the Great Spirit ; you will meet with sparkling texts pointing to Him Unseen. In India more than in any other country, in the Hindu scriptures nore
than in any other scripture, have the attributes of this Spiritual Divinity been elaborately and minutely depicted. In fact repeated and glowing descriptions of an all-pervading Spirit-God constitute the theology of primitive Hinduism. Do not misunderstand
I do not stand here as an apologist for the numerous errors and absurdities, the pantheism and polytheism, the rites and ceremonies, which defile the primitive sacred literature of our race.
I do not even take them into account ; far be it from me to vindicate them. I am not now discussing the Hindu's scheme of salvation. But I speak only of the central and towering truth of early Hinduism, the truth of the One Unseen Spirit. And of this none can speak except in the language of the most enthusiastic advocacy. It is not the sentiment of blind patriotism, but truth, well attested truth, that constrains me to admire the Hindu's conception of the Eternal and Bodiless Spirit. Go back to the Vedic period of Indian history, when idol-worship was altogether unknown, and you will be struck to find how the ancient Rishis communed devoutly and joyfully with the Supreme Spirit in the inner sanctuary. That wonderful book, the Rig Veda, the earliest record of the Aryan faith, presents rich treasures of Spirit-worship. How sublime are such texts as these ! _" Who knows the Primitive Person? Who is there that has seen Him, who is there that has revealed Him ?” “ He is the Father of our parents and is resplendent, He is even inherent in the indestructible world within. He is the only fountain of truth." “ By His own might has the Lord established the mountains and caused the waters to flow downwards. He upholdeth the world, and by His own wisdom doth He keep the heavens above from falling down." The evidences of spiritual com