A SPIRITUAL MINISTRY
This is our first question. Wherein may we look for the aid of the Holy Spirit? When we have spoken on this point, we will, very solemnly, consider a secondÂ—How may we lose that assistance? Let us pray that, by God’s blessing, this consideration may help us to retain it.
Wherein may we look for the aid of the Holy Spirit? I should reply,Â—in seven or eight ways.
1. First, He is the Spirit of knowledge,Â—”He shall guide you into all truth.” In this character we need His teaching.
We have urgent need to study, for the teacher of others must himself be instructed. Habitually to come into the pulpit unprepared is unpardonable presumption: nothing can more effectually lower ourselves and our office. After a visitation discourse by the
Bishop of Lichfield upon the necessity of earnestly studying the Word, a certain vicar told his lordship that he could not believe his doctrine, “for,” said he, “often when I am in the vestry I do not know what I am going to talk about; but I go into the pulpit and preach, and think nothing of it.” His lordship replied, “And you are quite right in thinking nothing of it, for your churchwardens
have told me that they share your opinion.” If we are not instructed
how can we instruct? If we have not thought, how shall we lead others to think? It is in our study-work, in that blessed labour when we are alone with the Book before us, that we need the help of the Holy Spirit. He holds the key of the heavenly treasury, and
can enrich us beyond conception; He has the clue of the most labyrinthine doctrine, and can lead us in the way of truth. He can break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and give to us the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places.
The Spirit of God is peculiarly precious to us, because He especially instructs us as to the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that is the main point of our preaching. He takes of the things of Christ, and shows them unto us. If He had taken of the things of doctrine or precept, we should have been glad of such gracious assistance; but since He especially delights in the things of Christ, and focusses His sacred light upon the cross, we rejoice to see the centre of our testimony so divinely illuminated, and we are sure that the light will be diffused over all the rest of our ministry. Let us wait upon the Spirit of God with this cryÂ—”O Holy Spirit, reveal to us the Son of God, and thus show us the Father.”
As the Spirit of knowledge. He not only instructs us as to the gospel, but He leads us to see the Lord in all other matters. We are not to shut our eyes to God in nature, or to God in general history, or to God in the daily occurrences of providence, or to God in our own experience; and the blessed Spirit is the interpreter to us of the mind of God in all these. If we cry, “Teach me what thou wouldst have me to do; or, show me wherefore thou contendest with me; or, tell me what is thy mind in this precious providence of mercy, or in that other dispensation of mingled judgment and grace,”Â—we shall in each case be well instructed; for the Spirit is the seven-branched candlestick of the sanctuary, and by His light all things are rightly seen. As Goodwin well observes, “There must be light to accompany the truth if we are to know it. The experience of all gracious men proves this. What is the reason that you shall see some things in a chapter at one time, and not at another;
some grace in your hearts at one time, and not at another; have a sight of spiritual things at one time, and not at another? The eye is the same, but it is the Holy Ghost that openeth and shutteth this dark lantern, as I may so call it; as he openeth it wider, or contracts it, or shutteth it narrower, so do we see more or less: and sometimes he shutteth it wholly, and then the soul is in darkness, though it have never so good an eye.”
Beloved brethren, wait upon Him for this light, or you will abide in darkness and become blind leaders of the blind.
2. In the second place, the Spirit is called The Spirit of wisdom, and we greatly need Him in that capacity; for knowledge may be dangerous if unaccompanied with wisdom, which is the art of rightly using what we know. Rightly to divide the Word of God is as important as fully to understand it, for some who have evidently understood a part of the gospel have given undue prominence to that one portion of it, and have. therefore exhibited a distorted Christianity, to the injury of those who have received it, since they in their turn have exhibited a distorted character in consequence thereof. A man’s nose is a prominent feature in his face, but it is possible to make it so large that eyes and mouth, and everything else are thrown into insignificance, and the drawing is a caricature and not a portrait: so certain important doctrines of the gospel can be so proclaimed in excess as to throw the rest
of truth into the shade, and the preaching is no longer the gospel in its natural beauty, but a caricature of the truth, of which caricature, however, let me say, some people seem to be mightily fond. The Spirit of God will teach you the use of the sacrificial knife to divide the offerings; and He will show you how to use the balances of the sanctuary so as to weigh out and mix the precious spices in their proper quantities. Every experienced preacher feels this to be of the utmost moment, and it is well if he is able to resist all temptation to neglect it. Alas, some of our hearers do not desire to hear the whole counsel of God. They have their favourite doctrines, and would have us silent on all besides. Many are like the Scotchwoman, who, after hearing a sermon, said, “It was very well if it hadna been for the trash of duties at the hinner end.” There are brethren of that kind; they enjoy the comforting partÂ— the promises and the doctrines, but practical holiness must scarcely be touched upon. Faithfulness requires us to give them a foursquare gospel, from which nothing is omitted, and in which nothing is exaggerated, and for this much wisdom is requisite. I gravely question whether any of us have so much of this wisdom as we need. We are probably afflicted by some inexcusable partialities and un justifiable leanings; let us search them out and have done with them. We may be conscious of having passed by certain texts, not because we do not understand them (which might be justifiable), but because we do understand them, and hardly like to say what they have taught us, or because there may be some imperfection in ourselves, or some prejudice among our hearers which those texts would reveal too clearly for our comfort. Such sinful silence must be ended forthwith. To be wise stewards and bring forth the right portions of meat for our Master’s household we need Thy teaching. O Spirit of the Lord!
Brethren, we also need wisdom in the way of putting things to different people. You can cast a man down with the very truth which was intended to build him up. You can sicken a man with the honey with which you meant to sweeten his mouth. The great mercy of God has been preached unguardedly, and has led hundreds into licentiousness; and, on the other hand, the terrors of the Lord have been occasionally fulminated with such violence that they have driven men into despair, and so into a settled defiance of the Most High. Wisdom is profitable to direct, and he who hath it brings forth each truth in its season, dressed in its most appropriate garments. Who can give us this wisdom but the blessed Spirit? O, my brethren, see to it, that in lowliest reverence you wait for His direction.
3. Thirdly, we need the Spirit in another manner, namely, as the live coal from off the altar, touching our lips, so that when we have knowledge and wisdom to select the fitting portion of truth, we may enjoy freedom of utterance when we come to deliver it. “Lo, this hath touched thy lips.” Oh, how gloriously a man speaks when his lips are blistered with the live coal from the altarÂ—
feeling the burning power of the truth, not only in his inmost soul, but on the very lip with which he is speaking! Mark at such times how his very utterance quivers. Did you not notice in the prayer-meeting just now, in two of the suppliant brethren, how their tones were tremulous and their bodily frames were quivering, because not only where their hearts touched, as I hope all our hearts were, but their lips were touched, and their speech was thereby affected. Brethren, we need the Spirit of God to open our mouths that we may show forth the praises of the Lord, or else we shall not speak with power.
We need the divine influence to keep us back from saying many things which, if they actually left our tongue, would mar our message. Those of us who are endowed with the dangerous gift of humour have need, sometimes, to stop and take the word out of our mouth and look at it, and see whether it is quite to edification; and those whose previous lives have borne them among the coarse and the rough had need watch with lynx eyes against indelicacy. Brethren, far be it from us to utter a syllable which would suggest an impure thought, or raise a questionable memory. We need the Spirit of God to put bit and bridle upon us to keep us from saying that which would take the minds of our hearers away from Christ and eternal realities, and set them thinking upon the grovelling things of earth.
Brethren, we require the Holy Spirit also to incite us in our utterance. I doubt not you are all conscious of different states of mind in preaching. Some of those states arise from your body being in different conditions. A bad cold will not only spoil the clearness of the voice, but freeze the flow of the thoughts. For my own part if I cannot speak clearly I am unable to think clearly, and the matter becomes hoarse as well as the voice. The stomach also, and all the other organs of the body, affect the mind; but it is not to these things that I allude. Are you not conscious of changes altogether independent of the body? When you are in robust health do you not find yourselves one day as heavy as Pharaoh’s chariots with the wheels taken off, and at another time as much at liberty as “a hind let loose”? Today your branch glitters with the dew, yesterday it was parched with drought. Who knoweth not that the Spirit of God is in all this? The divine Spirit will sometimes work upon us so as to bear us completely out of ourselves. From the beginning of the sermon to the end we might at such times sav, “Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth.” Everything has been forgotten but the one all-engrossing subject in hand. If I were forbidden to enter heaven, but were permitted to select my state for all eternity, I should choose to be as I sometimes feel in preaching the gospel. Heaven is foreshadowed in such a state: the mind shut out from all disturbing influences, adoring the majestic and consciously present God. every faculty aroused and joyously excited to its utmost capability, all the thoughts and powers of the soul joyously
occupied in contemplating the glory of the Lord, and extolling to listening crowds the Beloved of our soul; and all the while the purest conceivable benevolence towards one’s fellow creatures urging the heart to plead with them on God’s behalfÂ—what state of mind can rival this? Alas, we have reached this ideal, but we cannot always maintain it, for we know also what it is to preach in chains, or beat the air. We may not attribute holy and happy changes in our ministry to anything less than the action of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. I am sure the Spirit does so work. Often and often, when I have had doubts suggested by the infidel, I have been able to fling them to the winds with utter scorn, because I am distinctly conscious of a power working upon me when I am speaking in the name of the Lord, infinitely transcending any personal power of fluency, and far surpassing any energy derived from excitement such as I have felt when delivering a secular lecture or making a speechÂ—so utterly distinct from such power that I am quite certain it is not of the same order or class as the enthusiasm of the politician or the glow of the orator. May we full often feel the divine energy, and speak with power.
4. But then. fourthly, the Spirit of God acts also as an anointing oil, and this relates to the entire deliveryÂ—not to the utterance merely from the mouth, but to the whole delivery of the discourse. He can make you feel your subject till it thrills you, and you become depressed by it so as to be crushed into the earth, or elevated by it so as to be borne upon its eagle wings; making you feel, besides your subject, your object, till you yearn for the conversion of men, and for the uplifting of Christians to something nobler than they have known as yet. At the same time, another feeling is with you, namely, an intense desire that God may be glorified through the truth which you are delivering. You are conscious of a deep sympathy with the people to whom you are speaking, making you mourn over some of them because they know so little, and over others because they have known much, but have rejected it. You look into some faces, and your heart silently says: “The dew is dropping there;” and, turning to others, you sorrowfully perceive that they are as Gilboa’s dewless mountain. All this will be going on during the discourse.
Especially is it the Holy Spirit’s work to maintain in us a devotional frame of mind whilst we are discoursing. This is a condition to be greatly covetedÂ—to continue praying while you are occupied with preaching; to do the Lord’s commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word; to keep the eye on the throne, and the wing in perpetual motion. I hope we know what this means; I am sure we know, or may soon experience, its opposite, namely, the evil of preaching in an undevotional spirit. What can be worse than to speak under the influence of a proud or angry spirit? What more weakening than to preach in an unbelieving spirit? But, oh, to burn in our secret heart while we blaze before the eyes of others! This is the work of the Spirit of God. Work it in us, O adorable Comforter!
In our pulpits we need the spirit of dependence to be mixed with that of devotion, so that all along, from the first word to the last syllable, we may be looking up to the Strong for strength. It is well to feel that though you have continued up to the present point, yet if the Holy Spirit were to leave you, you would play the fool ere the sermon closed. Looking to the hills whence cometh your help all the sermon through, with absolute dependence upon God, you will preach in a brave, confident spirit all the while. Perhaps I was wrong to say “brave,” for it is not a brave thing to trust God: to true believers it is a simple matter of sweet necessityÂ— how can they help trusting him? Wherefore should they doubt their ever faithful Friend?
Oh, brethren, we ought to preach feeling that God means to bless the word, for we have His promise for it; and when we have done preaching we should look out for the people who have received a blessing. Do you ever say, “I am overwhelmed with astonishment to find that the Lord has converted souls through my poor ministry”? Mock humility! Your ministry is poor enough. Everybody knows that, and you ought to know it most of all:
but, at the same time, is it any wonder that God, who said “My word shall not return unto me void,” has kept His promise? Is the meat to lose its nourishment because the dish is a poor platter? Is divine grace to be overcome by our infirmity? No, but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.
We need the Spirit of God, then, all through the sermon to keep our hearts and minds in a proper condition, for if we have not the right spirit we shall lose the tone which persuades and prevails, and our people will discover that Samson’s strength has departed from him. Some speak scoldingly, and so betray their bad temper; others preach themselves, and so reveal their pride. Some discourse as though it were a condescension on their part to occupy the pulpit, while others preach as though they apologised for their existence. To avoid errors of manners and tone, we must be led of the Holy Spirit, who alone teacheth us to profit.
5. Fifthly, we depend entirely upon the Spirit of God to produce actual effect from the gospel, and at this effect we must always aim. We do not stand up in our pulpits to display our skill in spiritual sword play, but we come to actual fighting: our object is to drive the sword of the Spirit through men’s hearts. If preaching can ever in any sense be viewed as a public exhibition, it should be like the exhibition of a ploughing match, which consists in actual ploughing. The competition does not lie in the appearance of the ploughs, but in the work done; so let ministers be judged by the way in which they drive the gospel plough, and cut the furrow from end to end of the field. Always aim at effect. “Oh,” says one, “I thought you would have said, ‘Never do that.'” I do also say, never aim at effect, in the unhappy sense of that expression. Never aim at effect after the manner of the climax
makers, poetry quoters, handkerchief manipulators, and bombast blowers. Far better for a man that he had never been born than that he should degrade a pulpit into a show box to exhibit himself in. Aim at the right sort of effect; the inspiring of saints to nobler things, the leading of Christians closer to their Master, the comforting of doubters till they rise out of their terrors, the repentance of sinners, and their exercise of immediate faith in Christ. Without these signs following, what is the use of our sermons? It would be a miserable thing to have to say with a certain archbishop, “I have passed through many places of honour and trust, both in Church and State, more than any of my order in England, for seventy years before; but were I assured that by my preaching I had but converted one soul to God, I should herein take more comfort that in all the honoured offices that have been bestowed upon me.” Miracles of grace must be the seals of our ministry;
who can bestow them but the Spirit of God? Convert a soul without the Spirit of God! Why, you cannot even make a fly, much less create a new heart and a right spirit. Lead the children of God to a higher life without the Holy Ghost! You are inexpressibly more likely to conduct them into carnal security, if you attempt their elevation by any method of your own. Our ends can never be gained if we miss the co-operation of the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, with strong crying and tears, wait upon Him from day to day. The lack of distinctly recognizing the power of the Holy Ghost lies at the root of many useless ministries.
6. Next we need the Spirit of God as the Spirit of supplications, who maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. A very important part of our lives consists in praying in the Holy Ghost, and that minister who does not think so had better escape from his ministry. Abundant prayer must go with earnest preaching. We cannot be always on the knees of the body, but the soul should never leave the posture of devotion. The habit of prayer is good, but the spirit of prayer is better. Regular retirement is to be maintained, but continued communion with God is to be our aim. As a rule, we ministers ought never to be many minutes without actually lifting up our hearts in prayer. Some of us could honestly say that we are seldom a quarter of an hour without speaking to God, and that not as a duty but as an instinct, a habit of the new nature for which we claim no more credit than a babe does for crying after its mother. How could we do otherwise? Now, if we are to be much in the spirit of prayer, we need secret oil to be poured upon the sacred fire of our heart’s devotion; we want to be again and again visited by the Spirit of grace and of supplications.
7. Furthermore, it is important that we be under the influence of the Holy Ghost, as He is the Spirit of holiness; for a very considerable and essential part of Christian ministry lies in example. Our people take much note of what we say out of the pulpit, and what we do in the social circle and elsewhere. Do you find it easy,
my brethren, to be saints?Â—such saints that others may regard you as examples? We ought to be such husbands that every husband in the parish may safely be such as we are. Is it so? We ought to be the best of fathers. Alas! some ministers, to my knowledge, are far from this, for as to their families, they have kept the vineyards of others, but their own vineyards they have not kept. Their children are neglected, and do not grow up as a godly seed. Is it so with yours? In our converse with our fellow men are we blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke? Such we ought to be. I admire Mr. Whitfield’s reasons for always having his linen scrupulously clean. “No, no,” he would say, “these are not trifles; a minister must be without spot, even in his garments, if he can.” Purity cannot be carried too far in a minister. You have known an unhappy brother bespatter himself, and you have affectionately aided in removing the spots, but you have felt that it would have been better had the garments been always white. O to keep ourselves unspotted from the world! How can this be in such a scene of temptation, and with such besetting sins unless we are preserved by superior power? If you are to walk in all holiness and purity, as becometh ministers of the gospel, you must be daily baptized into the Spirit of God.
8. Once again, we need the Spirit as a Spirit of discernment, for He knows the minds of men as He knows the mind of God, and we need this very much in dealing with difficult characters. There are in this world some persons who might possibly be allowed to preach, but they should never be suffered to become pastors. They have a mental or spiritual disqualification. They can dogmatize upon a doctrine, and controvert upon an ordinance, but as to sympathizing with an experience, it is far from them. Cold comfort can such render to afflicted consciences; their advice will be equally valuable with that of the highlander who is reported to have seen an Englishman sinking in a bog on Ben Nevis. “I am sinking!” cried the traveller “Can you tell me how to get out?” The highlander calmly replied, “I think it is likely you never will,” and walked away. We have known ministers of that kind, puzzled, and almost annoyed with sinners struggling in the slough of despond. If you and I, untrained in the shepherd’s art, were placed among the ewes and young lambs in the early spring, what should we do with them? In some such perplexity are those found who have never been taught of the Holy Spirit how to care for the souls of men. May His instructions save us from such wretched incompetence.
Moreover, brethren, whatever our tenderness of heart, or loving anxiety, we shall not know how to deal with the vast variety of cases unless the Spirit of God shall direct us, for no two individuals are alike; and even the same case will require different treatment at different times. At one period it may be best to console, at another to rebuke; and the person with whom you sympathized even to tears today may need that you confront him with a frown
tomorrow, for trifling with the consolation which you presented. Those who bind up the broken-hearted, and set free the captives, must have the Spirit of the Lord upon them.
I have given you a lengthened catalogue of matters wherein the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to us, and yet the list is very far from complete. I have intentionally left it imperfect, because if I attempted its completion all our time would have expired before we were able to answer the question, HOW MAY WE LOSE THIS NEEDFUL ASSISTANCE? Let none of us ever try the experiment, but it is certain that ministers may lose the aid of the Holy Ghost. You shall not perish as believers, for everlasting life is in you; but you may perish as ministers, and be no more heard of as witnesses for the Lord. Should this happen it will not be without a cause. The Spirit claims a sovereignty like that of the wind which bloweth where it listeth; but let us never dream that sovereignty and capriciousness are the same thing. The blessed Spirit acts as He wills, but He always acts justly, wisely, and with motive and reason. At times He gives or withholds His blessing, for reasons connected with ourselves. Mark the course of a river like the Thames; how it winds and twists according to its own sweet will: yet there is a reason for every bend and curve: the geologist studying the soil and marking the conformation of the rock, sees a reason why the river’s bed diverges to the right or to the left: and so, though the Spirit of God blesses one preacher more than another, and the reason cannot be such that any man could congratulate himself upon his own goodness, yet there are certain things about Christian ministers which God blesses, and certain other things which hinder success. The Spirit of God falls like the dew, in mystery and power, but it is in the spiritual world as in the natural: certain substances are wet with the celestial moisture while others are always dry. Is there not a cause? The wind blows where it lists;
but if we desire to feel a stiff breeze we must go out to sea, or climb the hills. The Spirit of God has His favoured places for displaying His might. He is typified by a dove, and the dove has its chosen haunts: to the rivers of waters, to the peaceful and quiet places, the dove resorts; we meet it not upon the battlefield, neither does it alight on carrion. There are things congruous to the Spirit, and things contrary to His mind. The Spirit of God is compared to light, and light can shine where it wills, but some bodies are opaque, while others are transparent; and so there are men through whom God the Holy Ghost can shine, and there are others through whom His brightness never appears. Thus, then, it can be shown that the Holy Ghost, though He be the “free Spirit” of God, is by no means capricious in His operations.
But, dear brethren, the Spirit of God may be grieved and vexed, and even resisted: to deny this is to oppose the constant testimony of Scripture. Worst of all, we may do despite to Him, and so insult Him that He will speak no more by us, but leave us
as He left king Saul of old. Alas, that there should be men in the Christian ministry to whom this has happened; but I am afraid there are.
Brethren, what are those evils which will grieve the Spirit? I answer, anything that would have disqualified you as an ordinary Christian for communion with God also disqualifies you for feeling the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit as a minister:
but, apart from that, there are special hindrances.
Among the first we must mention a want of sensitiveness, or that unfeeling condition which arises from disobeying the Spirit’s influences. We should be delicately sensitive to His faintest movement, and then we may expect His abiding presence, but if we are as the horse and as the mule, which have no understanding, we shall feel the whip, but we shall not enjoy the tender influences of the Comforter.
Another grieving fault is a want of truthfulness. When a great musician takes a guitar, or touches a harp, and finds that the notes are false, he stays his hand. Some men’s souls are not honest; they are sophistical and double-minded. Christ’s Spirit will not be an accomplice with men in the wretched business of shuffling and deceiving. Does it really come to thisÂ—that you preach certain doctrines, not because you believe them, but because your congregations expects you to do so? Are you biding your time till you can, without risk, renounce your present creed and tell out what your dastardly mind really holds to be true? Then are you fallen indeed, and are baser then the meanest slaves. God deliver us from treacherous men. If we feel an abhorrence of them, how much more must the Spirit of truth detest them!
You can greatly grieve the Holy Spirit by a general scantiness of grace. The phrase is awkward, but it describes certain persons better than any other which occurs to me. The Scanty-grace family usually have one of the brothers in the ministry. I know the man. He is not dishonest, nor immoral, he is not bad tempered, nor self-indulgent, but there is a something wanting: it would not be easy to prove its absence by any overt offence, but it is wanting in the whole man, and its absence spoils everything. He wants the one thing needful. He is not spiritual, he has no savour of Christ, his heart never burns within him, his soul is not alive, he wants grace. We cannot expect the Spirit of God to bless a ministry which never ought to have been exercised, and certainly a graceless ministry is of that character.
Another evil which drives away the divine Spirit is pride. The way to be very great is to be very little. To be very noteworthy in your own esteem is to be unnoticed of God. If you must needs dwell upon the high places of the earth, you shall find the mountain summits cold and barren: the Lord dwells with the lowly, but He knows the proud afar off.
The Holy Ghost is also vexed by laziness. I cannot imagine the Spirit waiting at the door of a sluggard, and supplying the
deficiencies created by indolence. Sloth in the cause of the Redeemer is a vice for which no excuse can be invented. We ourselves feel our flesh creep when we see the dilatory movements of sluggards, and we may be sure that the active Spirit is equally vexed with those who trifle in the work of the Lord.
Neglect of private prayer and many other evils will produce the same unhappy result, but there is no need to enlarge, for your own consciences will tell you, brethren, what it is that grieves the Holy One of Israel.
And now, let me entreat you, listen to this word:Â—Do you know what may happen if the Spirit of God be greatly grieved and depart from us? There are two suppositions. The first is that we never were God’s true servants at all, but were only temporarily used by Him, as Balaam was, and even the ass on which He rode. Suppose, brethren, that you and I go on comfortably preaching a while, and are neither suspected by ourselves nor others to be destitute of the Spirit of God: our ministry may all come to an end on a sudden, and we may come to an end with it; we may be smitten down in our prime, as were Nadab and Abidu, no more to be seen ministering before the Lord, or removed in riper years, like Hophni and Phineas, no longer to serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. We have no inspired annalist to record for us the sudden cutting off of promising men, but if we had, it may be we should read with terrorÂ—of zeal sustained by strong drink, of public Phariseeism associated with secret defilement, of avowed orthodoxy concealing absolute infidelity, or of some other form of strange fire presented upon the altar till the Lord would endure it no more, and cut off the offenders with a sudden stroke. Shall this terrible doom happen to any one of us?
Alas, I have seen some deserted by the Holy Spirit, as Saul was. It is written that the Spirit of God came upon Saul, but he was faithless to the divine influence, and it departed, and an evil spirit occupied its place. See how the deserted preacher moodily plays the cynic, criticises all others, and hurls the javelin of detraction at a better man than himself. Saul was once among the prophets, but he was more at home among the persecutors. The disappointed preacher worries the true evangelist, resorts to the witchcraft of philosophy, and seeks help from dead heresies;
but his power is gone, and the Philistines will soon find him among the slain. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon! ye daughters of Israel weep over Saul! How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
Some, too, deserted by the Spirit of God, have become like the sons of one Sceva, a Jew. These pretenders tried to cast out devils in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preached, but the devils leaped upon them and overcame them; thus while certain preachers have declaimed against sin, the very vices which they denounced have overthrown them. The sons of Sceva have been among us in England: the devils of drunkenness have pre