The Spirit of Grace
James Smith, 1864
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10
Grace is one of the most beautiful words in God‘s Book. The very sound of it is musical to the believer who understands it. It just meets our case, for it tells us that God is inclined to be favorable unto us; more, that he is prepared to shower down the richest blessings upon us; and that what he gives — he gives freely, from the love of his own heart.
Grace is favor shown to the unworthy, without any cause or reason — but what is found in God’s own bosom. Grace never looks outside of itself for a motive — but is its own motive. It dwells in all its fullness in Jesus, and is the glory of the gospel scheme. But we are not going to dwell upon grace itself — but to fix the eye upon the Holy Spirit, as called, “the Spirit of grace.”
The Spirit is the gift of God’s grace — one of it’s greatest gifts. Indeed, it has no greater. Grace gave Jesus, and it gives the Holy Spirit; these gifts are equal in value and importance, as they are equal in nature, power, and glory. Without Jesus, we could have no deliverance from wrath, or title to Heaven; and without the Holy Spirit, we would never realize deliverance, or be made fit for glory. The Father promised the Spirit to his Son, and the Son bestows the Spirit upon his church, and makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus. The Father laid up our fortune in Jesus; Jesus has preserved for us all that the Father entrusted to him; but it is the Holy Spirit who makes known to us — the wealth which our heavenly Father has laid up for us, and conveys the foretastes and pledges of it into our souls. Holy and blessed Spirit, daily bring down into our souls fresh and fuller supplies of grace from the Father and the Son!
The Holy Spirit produces all our graces within us. He is the root — and our graces are his fruits; hence we read, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” If we believe, it is through grace. If we love, it is because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. If we rejoice, it is in consequence of his revealing and applying the truth to our souls. When his influence is put forth within us — then we . . . believe God’s word, hope in his mercy, rejoice in his goodness, cleave to his cause, walk in his ways, love his truth, his people, and himself, holiness is then happiness, duties are then pleasant, and even the cross lays light upon our shoulders.
But if the Spirit hides Himself, withdraws His influences, and leaves us to ourselves — then we . . . doubt and fear, fret and pine, kick and rebel, rove from thing to thing, and nothing will either please or satisfy us.
We often . . . question the past, are wretched at present, and dread the future.
But when he puts forth his power in us again . . . our graces shoot forth like bulbous roots in the spring, our sighs are exchanged for songs, our fears are exchanged for fortitude, our doubts are exchanged for confidence, and our murmurings are exchanged for gratitude and love.
We then . . . sink into the dust of self-abasement, admire the forbearance and longsuffering of God, condemn our own conduct, and wonder that we are out of Hell.
Then we take down our harps from the willows, and with a melting heart, a weeping eye, and a tremulous voice we sing, “The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.” Our wilderness is now turned into an Eden, and our desert into the garden of the Lord. Come, Holy Spirit, come, and produce a spring season in our souls, for, with the church of old, we cry, “Turn us again, O Lord God Almighty; cause your face to shine, and we shall be saved.”
The Holy Spirit is, emphatically, the gracious Spirit. All that he does for us, and all that he works within us — is of grace. His grace is his glory, and he glories in his grace. We may obtain his presence, and receive his blessing in answer to prayer — but we can never deserve either, nor can we by any works we perform merit them. He graciously . . . quickens the dead, instructs the ignorant, liberates the captives, restores the wanderers, comforts the dejected, strengthens the weak and sanctifies the impure. His work is his delight, and to see us holy and happy his pleasure!
Nothing grieves him like neglect, indifference, and going back to the beggarly elements of this present world. Such conduct wounds his loving heart, grieves his kind and tender nature; hence it was said of Israel: “They vexed and grieved his Holy Spirit.” And the apostle exhorts us: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”
Brethren, we need the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of grace–to make us gracious and graceful Christians. Without the Spirit of grace . . . we cannot live up to our profession; we cannot copy the example of our beloved Master; we cannot keep His commandments; we cannot love one another as He has loved us; we cannot sympathize with lost sinners as we should; we cannot keep God’s glory in view in all that we do; we cannot walk in high and holy fellowship with God; we cannot meet death with peace and joy!
Let us look up, therefore, to our heavenly Father, let us plead his precious promises, let us go in the name of the Lord Jesus, and let us entreat him to give us more of “the Spirit of grace.” He is not backward to bestow — if we are willing to receive. He will not refuse to listen to us — if we are earnest, hearty, and importunate. He will grant us the blessing — if we seek it as that which is essential to our holiness and happiness, and to his honor and praise. His word warrants us to expect that he will give his Holy Spirit to those who ask him. (Luke 11:13). His nature and his name, encourage us to persevere in our application to his throne, until we receive. Oh, For Jacob’s spirit — that we may wrestle until we prevail! Oh, for David’s power with God — that a messenger may be caused to fly very swiftly, to assure us that our prayer is heard! Oh, for the faith and fervor of the first Christians — that we may be all filled with the Holy Spirit and with power! Oh, for the fullness of “the Spirit of grace,” to be poured out upon every member of the one church of Jesus, that we may all love each other, and endeavor, by all possible means, to glorify his glorious name!
The work of the Holy Spirit (James Smith, “Rills from the Rock of Ages”, 1860)
I love to meditate on the work of the Holy Spirit, to whom we are so much indebted, and from whom we receive such great and invaluable blessings. To Him, I feel that I am indebted, for every good thought, and for every good work. How wonderful His patience — that He should bear with me so long; and how wonderful His loving-kindness — that He should confer on me so much! O that I was more deeply sensible of my obligations!
It was the Holy Spirit who quickened me when I was dead in trespasses and sins — imparting a new life, infusing new thoughts, and producing new desires in my soul.
Having quickened me, He conquered me — subduing the enmity of my heart, the obstinacy of my will, the worldliness of my affections — and bringing every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.
Having quickened and conquered me, He comforted me, assuring me of a saving interest in — the love of God, the perfect work of Jesus, the precious promises of the Word, and the eternal rest which remains for the people of God.
Having quickened, conquered, and comforted me, He sanctified me — separating me from the world, and setting me apart for my Redeemer’s glory and praise.
As my Sanctifier, He became my Guide — leading me into the truth, conducting me out of the paths of danger, and directing me into the everlasting way.
Not only my guide, but He became my Guard — preserving me from danger, protecting me from foes, and becoming a wall of fire round about me.
Whenever I wander — He reproves me; when I willfully go astray — He corrects me, and makes me smart for my folly.
The work He began so long ago — He carries on, nor will He withdraw His hand from it, until it is perfected, and I am fully fitted for glory.
Reader, what do you experimentally know of the work of the Holy Spirit? Has He quickened you? Has He conquered you? Does He comfort you? Are you sanctified by His presence, power, and operation in your heart? Does He . . . guide you by His counsel, guard you by His power, and correct you for your follies?
The work of the Spirit within us — is as necessary as the work of Jesus for us! For if the atonement of Christ entitles us to glory — it is the work of the Holy Spirit that prepares us to possess and enjoy it. We must be washed, justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God — or we cannot be saved!