THE HOLY SPIRIT
[2 March 1856] from Adolphe Monad’s* Farewell
What a blessing we have, my dearly beloved, if we rightly understand it, as we receive this bread and wine which the Lord Himself gives us, present although absent, and all the more present, being absent, than if He were actually present: “This is my body which is broken for you, this my blood which is shed for you.” From now on we are called to do His work by close union with the Lord, and by possession of His body and blood. It is in His broken body and in His shed blood that we are called to suffer all the anguish and all the pains of the flesh; and, renewed by the Holy Spirit in Him who calls us to eternal communion with Him by this present visible communion, we have for the work of Jesus the strength of Jesus, the grace of Jesus, and the divine nature of which we have been made partakers in Jesus by the promises of faith.
But we are, alas! people of little faith! What a spectacle we would present to the world if we were people of great faith, a faith capable of exciting, like that of the centurion, the admiration or amazement of the Lord Himself! – a faith which, in laying hold of Jesus Christ, could lay hold of the eternal life in Him, and all the treasures of grace laid up in this merciful Saviour! ,
A few days ago, my dear friends, we were occupied in considering the thoughts in which the Christian would rest his soul when he arrived at that moment to which we made allusion, and, coming to the end of his career, he would say to the Saviour in his own small way: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (He could say this if he had been faithful in his own small way.) We were considering, I say, the power and truth of that Word by which the Lord has revealed Himself to us, and by which He feeds our souls day by day, so that it is to us, as it were, a perpetual fellowship in which we live by the life of Jesus Christ and accomplish the work of Jesus Christ. Let us not forget, and let us learn, whether from the declarations of God’s Word, or from the humiliating experiences of our own life, that this Word, omnipotent and wholly divine, which caused Job to cry: “Oh! how strong are the words of the Lord!”; this Word has no strength except as it is applied to our hearts by that Spirit who caused it to be written in a book, who worked in the heart of an Isaiah and a Jeremiah, of a St. Paul and a St. John, and who, having chosen them as instruments, led them to give the eternal truth to all generations, without danger of error. This Word must be written again in our hearts, and, as it were, fastened there by the same Spirit, without whom it will just be dead and ineffective.
We might read the Holy Scriptures over and over again for years without receiving any real blessing from them, and we should be astonished to see them so powerless and with so little verification in our experience, if the Holy Spirit did not explain and apply them to us by coming to dwell in us.
Now the same Spirit who applies and explains to us the Word of God is also the one who does everything else in us. The work of the Father who has saved us freely, the work of the Son who has redeemed us by His blood, are vain without the work of the Holy Spirit, who opens our hearts to believe in the Father and in the Son and put into practice these words of life. Man – the heart of man – is exhibited to us by Scripture, in which everything is great, infinite and eternal, as a theatre which attracts the attention of the holy angels and of the Lord Himself, where a continual battle is waged between the powers of Hell and the powers of Heaven, which is but a renewal of the great battle which was waged by the same powers, inwardly and outwardly, in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ: and in which He gained complete victory and has made us in our turn more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Thus we are either the slaves and beneficiaries of the spirit of darkness, or the slaves, the happy slaves and the rich beneficiaries of the Spirit of light and life. And it is for us to choose the one by unbelief or the other by faith, for it is written: “I have set before you good and evil, choose …”
Yet there is this difference, well worthy of the mercy of God. However ingenious the spirit of Satan is to seek an entrance through every door of our hearts, he is nevertheless incapable of uniting himself wholly with our spirits and making us one with himself; but the Spirit of God designs to enter within us and so to unite Himself with us, that we become temples of the Holy Spirit. And being filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, we are made capable of doing the works which He did, and of doing in a sense even greater, as He Himself said when he gave the promise of the Holy Spirit: “He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do . . .”; so much so that Jesus declares to His disciples that because of the Spirit whom they are to expect from Him, it is better for them that He should go away: “It is expedient for you that I go away”.
O my Saviour! how many times I have wished to have Thee near to me, like Peter and John, to be able to approach Thee, to converse with Thee and to consult Thee! But Thou Thyself hast declared that there is a gift so precious that in order to secure it, it is better for me that Thou shouldst go away, and this gift Thou hast granted me by the Holy Spirit.
Where are those who know and appreciate the gift of the Holy Spirit? All one can say is. May God grant to those who are faithful in the Church today the grace to see how little they have appreciated and possessed this creator Spirit who is none other than God Himself coming to dwell in us and to make all things new, this Spirit to whom nothing is impossible. Happy is he who believes and does not doubt! If I have to overcome a dreadful temptation, it is not I who must overcome it, but the Spirit of God in me whom I call upon by prayer. If I have to endure pains unbearable to the flesh, it is not I who must endure them, but the Spirit of God in me whom I call upon by prayer. If I have to put on the spirit of love, which is so contrary to our natural selfishness, it is not I who have to exercise that power of love, but the Spirit of God in me whom I call upon by prayer – and the same with everything else; so that to doubt that we can by the Holy Spirit accomplish the work to which we are called, we must first doubt that God is faithful to His promises, and consequently that He has the necessary power to fulfil them.
“O my friends”, said one dying Christian, “even on our best days we only have our eyes half open.” And I apply that word particularly to the virtue and the power of the Holy Spirit: for if we had our eyes wide open to see and appreciate Him, would there be among us so much groaning and complaining, and would we not always be seen to be filled with the power of union with Christ for accomplishing our work?
My friends, look at the place which the Holy Spirit occupies in the Scriptures, which He occupies in the promises of Jesus Christ to His apostles, the transition He effects from the Gospels to the Acts, and the immense change which He produces in the apostles themselves, in order to show all disciples in all generations what He is able to do in every age. The Holy Spirit is the great promise of the New Testament; He it is who crowns it all. Chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, if we come to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to live the life of the Spirit, then and only then are we put in possession of our inheritance, awaiting the time when we shall receive, in a better world and under a more peaceful sky, the fulness of this inheritance, loosed from all the infirmities of the flesh and of earth; when we shall be so completely the temples of the Holy Spirit, that even our bodies will be called glorious and spiritual bodies.
Fall soon, body of dust and of sin! to give place to that glorious body, that spiritual body, in which we shall perform the will of God as perfectly as Jesus Christ Himself, and we shall know by the light of the Holy Spirit all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and all His graces; we shall know them to enjoy them, and above all learn to love as we have been loved.
* Adolphe Monod was born in 1802. He became the pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church in Paris in 1847. In 1855 he developed a fatal illness and these extracts are part of his last messages given to his people when in great weakness, knowing that he was dying. He passed from this life on April 6, 1856 so that these two discourses were given within five weeks of his death.
His Farewell was originally published in French in 1874 and in this English version by the Banner nf Truth in 1962.