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ward likeness, but the spirit, the intention of His actions, is what He wishes to give us, and what we must earnestly seek for. Though He was poor, whereas we may be rich; though He went about teaching, whereas we perhaps never teach at all; though He lived and died in one small country ages ago, whilst we have traversed many countries, and live in times wholly different, yet we still may be like Him; we still may be in communion with Him, because what we aim at is the mind, the soul, the Spirit which breathed through all His life, and which can be shared in a measure by every one of us.
This is the best use of this sense of the word ; but it is useful as a guide of life generally. To this end must we always distinguish between the spirit and the letter, and see how the spirit is always more important than the letter. Many difficulties in the Bible, which perplex us when we look only at the mere letter, vanish away when we look at the general spirit. Many stumblingblocks which meet us in particular portions of the services of the Church, or in the institutions of our country, are at once surmounted when we think of the spirit of the whole. Many dispensations of Providence, which seem grievous to be borne, become light when, from the mere letter and fact which kill, we can feel through them the gracious Spirit that gives life and strength and healing to what in itself is dark and mournful. And in our own hearts, when we pray for the Spirit of Christ to enlighten us, what we pray for is that He will enlighten and purify not only our outward acts, but the innermost springs of our inmost mind and conscience and spirit.
Through our spirits only can God now speak to us as a Spirit. It is to our spiritual life that we must pay heed, if we wish not to be cut off from Him.
2. Again, the Spirit of Christ is that which enlivens, strengthens, invigorates. — We speak, and we speak properly, of a ‘man of spirit, of a 'boy of spirit,' of a high, bold, gallant spirit.' This is another sense of the word “Spirit’ in the Bible. It signifies 'breath' or 'wind.' “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof,' ... 'so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.' As is the fresh breeze to a ship becalmed at sea, filling her sails, and driving her onwards in spite of herself, so is the Spirit of God and of Christ to the torpid, languid human soul, which will not be roused except by a power greater and higher than itself. As is the fresh air to a close infected room, so is the keen, invigorating breeze from the throne of God, which
into the narrow chamber of the heart, stuffed with the prejudices, and passions, and fancies of our own little circle, of our own little thoughts, whose doors have never been opened to new ideas or bright feelings, whose windows have been closed against all wider and higher views.
Such was the Spirit of the Lord' which came' on the heroes and saints of the old dispensation -Gideon, Barak, and David — and filled them with strength for the battle. Such was the rushing mighty wind in the Christian Church, which, from the day of Pentecost onwards, swept through the dead dry bones of the ancient world, and roused them to life. Such was the spirit of those old Christian knights, the scene of whose deeds we have lately visited, who made it the business of their lives to defend with a soldier's courage and fidelity the weak, the suffering, and the oppressed everywhere. Such, above all, was the soldier-like spirit of Him who was the Captain of our salvation, who fought to the last with unabated, unshrinking courage His battle-our battle, the battle of the whole world against sin, and folly, and death. O for one spark of this soldier-like spirit in the weak and wavering moments of our daily course! O for one breath of this divine atmosphere of the Spirit to brace our nerves, and enliven our sluggish sinking hearts, and chase away the sultry oppression that weighs us down in the great struggles of life! O for one blast of that rushing mighty wind, to drive us with irresistible force over wave after wave of this troublesome world, till we come to the haven where we would be! The Spirit of God and of Christ is life, and strength, and health, and energy; where these are not, there only in a very feeble degree is the breath of God's Spirit.
3. The Spirit of God' in the Bible is often used in another sense, which perhaps we do not enough connect with it - that sense in which it is used in the Confirmation Service, and in the 11th chapter just read from the Prophet Isaiah—the Spirit of wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge;' and so, in the
; Collect of this day, we pray that 'we may, through the Spirit, have a right judgement in all things;' and so our Lord speaks of the Spirit of Truth, which shall lead His followers into all truth.' This is a most important characteristic of the Divine Spirit, which we ought to ask from God, because often
wisdom and religion have been parted from each other, and religious zeal and common sense have regarded each other with suspicion. But, in fact, they are most nearly allied. Common sense, discretion, judgement, are high Christian graces. They are God's gifts, to enable us to do the work which is set before us. To be able to see the truth, and to discern the false from the true, and to wish to know the truth, this is a gift which is needed by the highest philosopher ; but it is needed also by the humblest man or youth that has to make his way in life, and to serve his God and his country faithfully and truly. And of all wisdom, of all judgement, the best source is the fear of the Lord. Wickedness is in itself folly—sheer, miserable folly. Goodness is in itself wisdom, because it gives us a straightforward, independent, fearless judgement, when many abler or more learned men, as the world thinks them, are led astray by interest, or selfishness, or jealousy, or suspicion. Christ, who is "our Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption,' is also, as the Apostle tells us, and as we see from His own words, which He spake as never man spake,our Wisdom. Let us seek His own Spirit from Him, and that which He had without measure He will, in some measure, if we persevere, freely give to the humblest of His followers.
4. Finally, let us remember that this great gift of the Spirit of God was Christ's last gift and consolation to His disciples when He parted from them. He said (using the common word for salutation or farewell in his time and country), · Peace I leave with you;' but He added, “ My Peace I give unto you; not as the
world giveth, give I unto you. The peace which He
, gave was not the superficial congratulation and courtesy of worldly life, but the deep, solid peace which can only come from the Holy, the Pure, and the Strong, dwelling in our spirits, and giving to us His own Holiness, and Purity, and Strength.
O, my brethren, as we part to-day, many of us not to meet again as heretofore for another Sunday's worship, may this be our parting farewell and wish one for another—may we know what it is to have for our Comforter, in our hearts, and in the hearts of our friends, not the peace, the friendship, the spirit of the
, world, but the peace, the friendship, the Spirit which Christ alone can give. There is the hollow peace, the treacherous friendship, the shifting favour, which the world gives, and which the world, as it knows full well, can take away. But there is, on the other hand, the firm peace of our own consciences, which we cannot lose but through our own fault. There is the faithful and steadfast friendship, which can only be broken off by our own folly. There is the all-sufficient, all-protecting grace of Christ, who will continue to help us so long as we help ourselves, and will never leave us nor forsake us, unless we deliberately leave and forsake Him. O may we all of us, as time rolls on, have the right judgement' to see and to choose the better part, which neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, can take from us. As difficulties unforeseen close round
as temptations multiply-as wrong constructions are put on our actions—as friends fall away, or familiar places become vacant - as losses and