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Holy Ghost speaks his words shall be like a twoedged sword which divideth asunder the soul and spirit. Now see the sinner pricked to the heart, and hear him crying, “What shall I do ?”
Of righteousness. It is the function of the Holy Ghost, as Jesus says, to "convict the world of righteousness, because I go to the Father and ye behold me no more."
The world's idea of righteousness is as defective as its conception of sin. It has one form of righteousness which it calls morality, that is, living within the prescript of the law. This is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Jesus said to the young ruler, “He that doeth the law shall live by it”; but suppose a man breaks the law, what then? “The soul that sinneth it shall die!” And in all the world there is not a mortal man who has kept the moral law.
There is another form of righteousness which means obedience to ceremonial law. This is superficial at the best, and those who practise it, unless they have a heart of holiness, are but "like unto whited sepuichres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness." This is that form of religion of which the Saviour said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” The two forms of goodness here indicated are like the signs on a shop-keeper's windows, which may mean something or nothing, according as there are corresponding goods on his shelves within. And those who trust in either one of them will be left lamenting at the last, “All our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment !"
The Holy Ghost comes to correct these definitions of righteousness by pointing to Christ, who was the only righteous man that ever lived in this world of ours. He was the only one who ever lived up to the high level of the law. He was the only one who ever “brought the bottom of his life up to the top of his light." He was the only one who ever dared to issue a challenge, “Which of you convicteth me of sin?” without being laughed at. He was the Dikaios of whom Plato dreamed, “the perfect one." He was the only man who ever was sentenced to death by a judge who said, “I find no fault in this man."
It is the special and particular function of the Holy Ghost to call him to our remembrance. Christ has gone to the Father, so that the world seeth him no more; but the world can never forget him, because the Holy Ghost is ever pointing to him and saying, “Behold the man! Behold his sinlessness and the perfect manner of his life! Behold him, and be like him!" In the imitation of Christ we find the Spirit's definition of righteous
For such righteousness is more than conformity with law; it is conformity with God.
v So the Holy Ghost reverses the world's concep tions of sin and righteousness. Here are two men
going up to the Temple to pray. One of them is a Doctor of Divinity with broad phylacteries and a scriptural frontlet between his eyes; and his prayer runs on this wise: “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week! I give tithes of all that I get !” The other, standing afar off, dares not lift up his eyes unto heaven, but, smiting upon his breast, cries, “God, be thou merciful to me, a sinner!" The world takes these men at their own valuation: the Pharisee is a saint and the publican a reprobate. But the Holy Ghost has this to say: "The Pharisee is the sinner and the publican is the saint; because, feeling his sin, he is on his way back to God."
Of judgment.—The Holy Ghost "convicts the world of judgment because the prince of the world hath been judged.”
The current thought of judgment is as inadequate as the conceptions of sin and righteousness already referred to. On the one hand there are those who think, like Job's miserable comforters, that judgment is a system of exact retribution going on here and now. A man sits in a draught and contracts rheumatism, or he overeats and has dyspepsia. Thus the laws of nature are continually exacting their quid pro quo as indicated in the Buddhist "law of consequences.
There are others who restrict the thought of judgment to the Great Day when all that are in their graves shall come forth to render an account of their deeds. Both of these conceptions are true so far as they go; but they do not exhaust the matter in hand.
The Holy Spirit comes to advise us that there is another sort of judgment going on every day before our eyes. Who is being judged? The prince of this world. We are in the midst of a great controversy. Light and darkness are met as on a mighty battlefield. Events are hastening on toward a great Armageddon when the red dragon shall be cast into the pit. Here is the key to history. Read it as Christ did when he said, “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven !" Read judgment in the newspapers, between the lines of passing events! The Holy Spirit gives us the clue. "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world!"
History is judgment. There is judgment in the story of Waterloo and Gettysburg, the Crusades and the Reformation, the fall of the Bastile and the signing of Magna Charta. Christ goeth forth conquering and to conquer! He hath upon his vesture and upon his thigh a name written, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords." See the white plume of the Captain of our Salvation in the forefront of events, leading onward, ever onward to the Golden Age! Fall in and lend a hand! The blast of the trumpet which shall usher in the Great Day will be but the signal for the final sitting of a Court which has been in session through all the ages.
So the three great facts in the province of the spiritual life, to wit: sin, righteousness and judgment, are defined and opened up to us by the Holy Spirit. He anoints our eyes that we may see. He dispels doubt, cures hypochondria and makes optimists of all. He hushes our misereres and attunes our hearts to hosannas and hallelujahs. The shadows disappear at his bidding and lo, the mountains are full of horses and chariots ! We need him.-Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Come as the light to illumine our dull understandings! Come as the morning dew to refresh our weary energies and give us hopeful and joyous views of spiritual truth! Come as the fire to enkindle within us new zeal for holiness and new devotion to the kingdom of truth and righteousness! Come and call Jesus to our remembrance ! For without thee our eyes grow dim and vision fails. Show us Christ, crucified to atone for sin which is enmity against God! Show us Christ, the living exemplar of that righteousness which is conformity with God! Show us Christ, the conqueror who leads the great campaign of progress with such might that the gates of hell cannot prevail against him! Come, Holy Spirit, come! Give us a bright vision of Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning of every high hope and noble aspiration, and the end of every ambition that is worthy of the children of men! Show us Christ, first, last, midst and all-in-all !