1 Thessalonians 5:19
These three verses refer to one subject, the extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit so frequent in the Church at this period, but apply likewise to his ordinary influence in believers.

I. THE SIN AND DANGER OF QUENCHING THE SPIRIT. "Quench not the Spirit." Perhaps there was a tendency to repress spiritual utterances, either because they had become fanatical, or from an undue love of order. It is possible to resist the Spirit. God strives with man, who may yet resist all his importunities (Acts 7:51.), "insulting the Spirit of grace" (Hebrews 10:29). Even in the case of believers, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5:17). It is both sinful and dangerous for believers to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby they are scaled to the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30). The text suggests the idea of quenching a fire.

1. The Spirit acts upon the believer's nature like a fire, warming, purifying, refining.

2. The fire may be quenched by neglecting it quite as much as by casting water upon it. This is the tendency of neglect.

3. Sin has a tendency to quench the Spirit, as water quenches fire. We ought to stir up our gifts and graces that they may shine the brighter, and give both light and heat around us. Yet provision is made in the covenant of grace that the fire once kindled will never be quenched.

II. THERE MUST BE NO UNDERVALUATION OF PROPHESYINGS. "Despise not prophesying."

1. These were spiritual utterances, sometimes in psalms and hymns, "for the edification and exhortation and comfort" of believers, though they had the effect sometimes of laying bare the hearts of unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:25). They were more important than other gifts of the Spirit, and therefore more to be coveted (1 Corinthians 12:31).

2. They were, therefore, not to be despised.

(1) Perhaps there had been "false prophets" at Thessalonica who had tried to pervert the truth, or weak members who had abused the gift of prophecy. The tendency, therefore, to underrate the gift was natural, but not proper.

(2) Perhaps the exercise of this gift created less wonder or made less visible impression than other gifts, like those of tongues and healing. Therefore it came to be rather despised.

III. THE NECESSITY OF TESTING SPIRITUAL GIFTS. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." Instead of rejecting prophesyings, they were to test them by a due spiritual discernment.

1. They were to be tested:

(1) By a comparison with the original tradition given to them (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

(2) By a comparison with the prophesyings of others who sat as judges (1 Corinthians 14:29). There was, besides, a supernatural gift of "discerning of spirits" (1 Corinthians 12:10, 14, 29).

(3) By marking the practical fruits of these prophesyings. "Hold fast that which is good." Our Lord said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 5:15, 16). True doctrine is "according to godliness" (1 Timothy 6:3). Thus Christians are to examine the grounds of their faith, to hold fast nothing that has not first been tried, and to retain only "that which is good."

2. Believers have the capacity as well as the right to test all things. They are "to try the spirits whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1).

(1) They are the spiritual; "they judge all things, yet they themselves are judged of no man "(1 Corinthians 2:15). They have "an unction from the Holy One, and they know all things" (1 John 2:20).

(2) A right state of heart is necessary to this power of insight. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God" (John 7:17). "Walk as children of light... proving what is acceptable unto God" (Ephesians 5:8-10). - T.C.







Quench not the Spirit
I. THE FIRST ADVICE — "Quench not the Spirit." The Spirit is quenched as a man doth quench his reason with over-much wine; and therefore we say, "When the wine is in, the wit is out," because before he seems to have reason, and now he seems to have none; so our zeal, and our faith, and our love, are quenched with sin. Every vain thought, and every idle word, and every wicked deed, is like so many drops to quench the Spirit of God. Some quench it with the business of this world; some quench it with the lusts of the flesh; some quench it with the cares of the mind; some quench it with long delays, that is, not plying the motion when it cometh, but crossing the good thoughts with bad thoughts, and doing a thing when the Spirit adviseth not, as Ahab went to battle after he was forbidden. The Spirit is often grieved before it be quenched; and a man when he begins to grieve, and check, and persecute the Spirit, though never so lightly, never ceaseth until he have quenched it, that is, until he seem himself to have no spirit at all, but walketh like a lump of flesh.

II. THE SECOND ADVICE. After "Quench not the Spirit" followeth "Despise not prophesyings." The second admonition teacheth how the first should be kept. "Despise not prophesying," and the Spirit will not quench, because prophesying doth kindle it. This you may see in the disciples that went to Emmaus. When Christ preached unto them from the law and the prophets, their hearts waxed hot within them. This is no marvel that the spirit of a man should be so kindled and revived with the Word; for the Word is the food of the soul. The apostle might have said, Love prophesying, or honour prophesying, but he saith, "Despise not prophesying," showing that some were ashamed of it. The greatest honour we give to prophets is not to despise them, and the greatest love we carry to the Word is not to loathe it. Prophesying here doth signify preaching, as it doth in Romans 12:6. Will you know why preaching is called prophesying? To add more honour and renown to the preachers of the Word, and to make you receive them as prophets (Matthew 10:41). Hath not the despising of the preachers almost made the preachers despise preaching?

III. THE THIRD ADVICE. After "Despise not prophesyings" followeth "Prove all things," etc., that is, try all things. This made John say, "Try the spirits." We read that the Bereans would not receive Paul's doctrine before they had tried it; and how did they try it? They searched the Scriptures. This is the way Paul would teach you to try others as he was tried himself; whereby we may see that if we read the Scriptures we shall be able to try all doctrines; for the Word of God is the touchstone of everything, like the light which God made to behold all His creatures (Genesis 1:2). A man trieth his horse which must bear him, and shall he not try his faith which must save him? And when we have tried by the Word which is truth and which is error, we should keep that which is best, that is, stay at the truth, as the Magi stayed when they came to Christ. We must keep and hold the truth as a man grippeth a thing with both his hands; that is, defend it with our tongue, maintain it with our purse, further it with our labour, and, if required, seal it with our blood. Well doth Paul put "prove" before "hold;" for he which proveth may hold the best, but he which holdeth before he proveth sometimes takes the worse sooner than the best.

IV. THE FORTH ADVICE. After "Prove all things, and hold that which is good," followeth "Abstain from all appearance of evil." As if the adviser should say, That is like to be best which is so far from evil that it hath not the appearance of evil; and that is like to be the truth which is so far from error that it hath not the show of error. Paul biddeth us abstain from all appearance of evil, because sin, and heresy, and superstition are hypocrites; that is, sin hath the appearance of virtue, error the appearance of truth, and superstition the appearance of religion. If the visor be taken away from them, they will appear exactly what they are, though at the first sight the visor doth make them seem no evil, because it covereth them, like a painted sepulchre the dead men's bones beneath.

(H. Smith.)

I. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1. The Holy Spirit is God, and so has all the strength of God. What He pleases to do He can do. None can stand against Him. This is of the greatest possible comfort to us, because we have enemies that are too strong for us; but no enemy is strong enough to hurt us if the Spirit of God is on our side. And again, as the Holy Spirit is God, so He has that wonderful power of working on the heart which belongs to God, and in purifying it, and making it holy like Himself.

2. The Holy Spirit dwells in the Church. His work is done upon those who belong to the Church. "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." What the soul of each one is to our body, so the Holy Spirit lives in the Church, and gives spiritual life to each member of the Church. He works through the ordinances of the Church, and what He gives, He is pleased to give through those ordinances.

3. The Holy Spirit is like a fire in the heart of man. Fire gives warmth and light. Is not this exactly the character of the work of the Holy One. What is colder than the fallen heart of man toward God? Who warms it into real love to God but the Spirit by whom the love of God is shed abroad in the heart? Again, what is darker than the heart of man? Who pours light into it, and makes us to see that God is the true portion of the soul? It is the Holy Ghost. "We have an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things."

II. THE QUENCHING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1. The power we have to do this. We have already said that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church is like a fair shining light. Its rays fall on all hearts. It touches, it gilds, it beautifies all souls. It gives them a new fairness, like the golden rays which bathe the whole landscape, making each separate leaf to glisten as it dances on its branch, and hill and valley, wood and meadow, to wear a holiday aspect. Do not choose darkness rather than light by quenching the Spirit. We have power to do this. If we choose, we may say — I will not be changed, I will not give up my icy coldness of soul, I will go on in the hard-bound frost of my own selfishness, I will care for myself, live for myself; the fire may burn around me, but I will quench it. So we may put out the light which would lead us to God and heaven.

2. The way in which we may exercise this power. The Spirit of God may give us light in the Holy Scriptures, and we may refuse to read them at all, or read them without learning to know God and ourselves. The Spirit of God may give us light in the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, and we may determine not to see what the Church would have us to believe and to do. The loving Spirit of God is longing to work among you, His heart is set upon you, He is opening out the treasures of His goodness before you. Oh! take care you do not check Him by your indifference. He will act to you as you act to Him. Just as fire cannot burn in a damp, unwholesome atmosphere — as there are places underground where the air is so foul that the brightest candle will go out at once, so if you choke the heavenly fire it will go out. The Holy Spirit will not work in the midst of cold, worldly, unbelieving hearts. By all that is dear and precious, "Quench not the Spirit!"

(R. W. Randall, M. A.)

There are three active elements in nature — air, water, fire; and one passive — earth. The Holy Spirit is spoken of under the figure of each of the former, never of the latter. The Holy Spirit is always in action. St. Paul is writing with evident reference to the promise, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." Perhaps he may have had regard to some special manifestations of the Spirit (see ver. 20). A man might feel within him a fire burning, which was meant for expression, and which he was tempted to suppress, through feelings of modesty, false shame, indolence, or indifference, and he was anxious to caution against this. And there is now a bad economy of Divine gifts; men possessing talents of property, position, influence, persuasion, knowledge, grace, lock up that which was intended for the whole house of Christ. This is quenching the Spirit. Personally, as the Divine Spirit, no efforts or negligences of man could lessen His power or glory; but as the Divine Inhabitant of the soul it is otherwise. Note the manner of His working. He acts on —

I. THE UNDERSTANDING. He spake to the understanding of prophets, psalmists, apostles, etc., and so we have in the Bible the truth brought home to our understandings. But the office of the Spirit is not bounded by that. The Word of God is in the hand of every one, till it has become an ill-used book by its very plentifulness; and to him who has not the Spirit to shine with the light of His holy fire within the printed page all is darkness. The letter killeth, the Spirit alone quickeneth. So, then, a man quenches the Spirit who either neglects the Bible or is not taught by the Spirit out of it (Ephesians 1:18).

II. THE CONSCIENCE. The office of the Spirit is to bring sin to remembrance — a thankless office in one sense. Tell your best friend his faults, he must be one of a thousand if you have not lost him. Few can say, Let the righteous smite me (Psalm 141:5). But the Spirit knows how to reprove without irritating, and at the right time and in the right way. The still small voice takes conscience for its mouthpiece. When that voice is heard bringing to remembrance some half-excused sin, of the neglect of some half-denied duty, "Quench not the Spirit."

III. THY WILL. The understanding may see the truth — the conscience may be alive to duty — is the work done? Answer all ye who know what it is to see the good, and yet to pursue the evil; to hate yourselves for your weakness, and yet do again the thing ye would not! The Holy Spirit, therefore, touches the will, the spring of being. He who says, "Stretch forth thy hand," will give the will and the power, and with the peace and reward.

IV. THE HEART. "Thou shalt love," etc. Who gives so much as a corner of his heart to God? The question is a self-contradiction, for the heart always gives itself whole or not at all. The Spirit enables us to cry Abba, Father. It is a dreadful thing to quench the Spirit in an intellectual scepticism; in a stubborn doggedness of conscience; in a settled obstinacy of will; but it is more dreadful to quench Him in a cold obduracy of heart; to say to Him when He says "Son, give Me thy heart" — "I will not — go Thy way — torment me not before the time" (Hebrews 10:29).

(Dean Vaughan.)

The word does not mean to resist, damp, or partially to smother, but to put out completely, as a spark when it falls into water.

I. THE SPIRIT CAN BE QUENCHED. Else why the injunction?

1. The antediluvians quenched the Spirit. He strove with them to do them good, they strove against Him to their destruction, and the flood swept them away.

2. In Nehemiah 9 you will see how God strove with the Jews, and how they quenched the Spirit and were left to perish.

3. The same law is in operation still. God gives His Spirit to instruct men. They refuse to hear and God leaves them to their worst enemies — their sins. It is foolish to frame theories with which these facts will not harmonize. The striving does not, of course, refer to God's power; there could be no striving with that. But it is man's sins striving with God's love; and God tells us that He will not always strive with man's sins, but will relinquish the contest, leave the field, and allow him an eternity in which to learn the fearful misery of what it is to have quenched the Spirit. As unbelief tied the Saviour's hands so that He could not do any mighty work, so it can cripple the agency of the Spirit.

II. HOW CAN HE BE QUENCHED. Fire may be extinguished —

1. By pouring water upon it. The most direct way of quenching the Spirit is sin and resistance to His influence. He may act as a friend who, having been wantonly slighted, withdraws in grief and displeasure.

2. By smothering it. So the Spirit may be quenched by worldliness. The process may be a slow and partially unconscious one, but it is real and sure.

3. By neglect. Timothy was exhorted to "stir up" His gift. And as a fire will die out unless it receives attention, so will the Spirit if we indolently do nothing to improve the gift.

4. For want of fuel. And the Spirit will be quenched unless the Spiritual life is fed by the Word of God, "Sanctify them through Thy truth."

5. Through want of air. There may be abundance of fuel, but it will not burn. Not less essential to the flame kindled by the Spirit is the breath of prayer.

(E. Mellor, D. D.)

1. The Holy Spirit is represented as fire, the source of light and heat, because of His searching, illuminating, quickening, reviving, refining, assimilating influences.

2. It is implied that He may be quenched; not in Himself, but by the withdrawal of His influences, and so His graces, which are indicative of His presence, may be extinguished.

3. He may be quenched in others as well as in ourselves.(1) In ministers, by contempt of their ministrations.(2) Among Christians, by neglect of social prayer and religious conversation. Christians are like coals of fire which kindle into a blaze only when kept together. How disastrous to zeal are dissentions (Ephesians 4:30-32).

I. THE INSTANCES IN WHICH WE MAY QUENCH THE SPIRIT.

1. By slighting, neglecting and resisting His operations. When the Spirit stirs us up, and we neither stir up ourselves nor our gifts, we quench the Spirit.

2. By diverting the mind from spiritual concerns, and engaging in vain and unnecessary recreations. The love of pleasure will extinguish the love of God. Fulfilment of the lusts of the flesh renders walking in the Spirit impossible.

3. By inordinate affections towards any earthly object. The life and power of godliness are seldom found among those who are eager in the pursuit of worldly gain (Matthew 19:16-22).

4. By robbing Him of His glory, by denying His Divinity, or the necessity and efficacy of His operations.

5. By sins of omission and commission. These are opposite to His nature. One will damp His sacred fire, a course of iniquity will extinguish it.

II. THE REASONS WHICH SHOULD WARN US AGAINST THIS DANGER. If we quench the Spirit —

1. He will be silent to us, and will cease to admonish and guide either directly or through His ministers (1 Samuel 28:15).

2. He will suspend His influences and leave us in darkness.

3. We shall sin both against God and our own souls.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

This is a little text, but it is full of large matters.

I. WE HAVE A SPIRIT TO QUENCH.

1. The possession of the Spirit is the distinguishing prerogative of the gospel covenant; this it is which imparts a life, an energy, a fulness, a reality, to its every part and detail.

2. We are all the depositaries of this great treasure; the holders of a wonderful gift, for the abuse or improvement of which we shall one day have to answer.

II. THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF THIS SPIRIT.

1. A consuming fire.(1) It destroys in us at once that curse which adheres to us as children of a fallen parent.(2) In those who yield themselves, gradually does one unholy habit of thought, one unsanctified desire, one impure affection after another, succumb beneath its power and influence.

2. A purifying fire; it does not wholly destroy the will, so as to make man a passive instrument; it only strips the will of that evil which makes it at enmity with God. Nor does the Spirit deaden and annihilate the affections, powers, faculties of our moral nature; it only withdraws them from low, base, unworthy objects, and fixes them on others whose fruits will be love, joy, peace.

3. A kindling fire. It raises in the mind of man the fervour of devotion and the heat of Divine love.

4. A defending fire. Like the sword of the cherubim, it turns every way to guard "the tree of life."

5. An enlightening fire.(1) The Christian, by the Spirit which is given him, is enabled to see what he is in himself. It shows him how degraded is his nature, how forlorn and hopeless are his prospects.(2) This reveals to him what he is in Christ — Child of God. Heir of glory;(3) This reveals to him the path of life.(4) This lays open to him the mysterious, hidden wisdom of the Word of God.

III. WHAT IS MEANT BY "QUENCHING THE SPIRIT."

1. This is done by those who altogether fall away from Christ — by apostates.

2. It is not only, nor generally, by a sudden and violent wrenching and snapping asunder of the ties which bind him to Christ, that the obdurate sinner quenches the Spirit. The integrity and unity of his inner life is damaged and sapped little by little; he quenches the Spirit, more or less, in all the stages of his spiritual decay.

IV. WHAT ARE THE MEANS, AND WHAT THE AGENCY, WHICH OPERATE IN BRINGING THIS ABOUT?

1. Floods of ungodliness swamp the soul.

2. Blasts of fierce and headstrong passions.

3. Want of fuel to nourish and preserve it. In many a soul the Spirit's fire is quenched because it is never replenished by prayer, meditation, self-examination, works of charity and mercy, attendance on Holy Communion, etc.

V. THE AWFUL CONSEQUENCES. Let us quench the Spirit, and how shall the motions of sins which are in our members be rooted out? how shall we be able to purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord?

(Arthur G. Baxter.)

"Quench not the Spirit." Put not out that heavenly fire which you did not kindle, but which you can extinguish. Put not out that holy fire which is the real heart of your life, and without which spiritual death is sure to follow. Put not out that fire by sensual pleasures and indulgence of fleshly appetites, as did Sodom and Gomorrah; by love of the world, as did Demas; by careless neglect, as did the lukewarm Church of Laodicea.

I. THE FIRE CAN BE PUT OUT.

1. You may put it out by indulgence of the body. The brutalizing power of fleshly sins, of whatever sort, always blunts the conscience, and makes the spiritual eye unable to discern the true nature of God's requirements. A man who has given himself up to these becomes coarse. If the sins be such as men can see, he becomes visibly coarse and earthly. If the sires be of the far wickeder and yet more secret sort, he often retains much outward refinement and even softness of manner, but coarseness and earthliness of soul; with little sense of disgust at impurity, with a low and animal idea of the highest of all affections.

2. The fire can be put out by worldliness and a life devoted to self and selfish hopes. What can be more miserable than the condition of that man whose powers of mind have shown him the truth of God, whose understanding has been too highly cultivated to allow him to shut his eyes to the eternal laws of heaven, who can appreciate, perhaps, till his very heart thrills with admiration, the high examples of love, of self-sacrifice, of a pure and brave service, which history has recorded, and yet who cannot be, and who feels that he never can be, what he himself admires; who feels that while he admires the noble and the true, yet he is not attracted by it? The end of such a character generally is to lose even this much appreciation of what is good, and to retain admiration for nothing but refinement without a resolute will within; to despise all self-sacrifice, all generosity, all nobleness as romantic and weak; and, of course, either to give up religion altogether, or to make a superstition to suit the worldly temper.

3. Lastly, and most often of all, the fire of the Spirit can be put out by mere neglect. The Spirit holds before the sight, time after time, soul-stirring visions of what our lives and characters might be. As we read, as we live with our fellows, as we worship, as we listen, we are touched, enlightened, half roused to real resolution. But we hear not, or if we hear we make no effort; or if we make an effort, we soon give it up. The greatest thoughts, the noblest thoughts flit before the minds of men in whom their fellows suspect nothing of the kind; but they flit across the sky, and those who share in them, yet feel them to be as unreal as those clouds. There is no waste in nature equal to the waste of noble aspirations. What is the end of such coldness? The end is an incapacity to heart what they have so often heard in vain. In such men there comes at last an utter inability to understand that the message of God is a message to them at all. They hear and they understand, but they find no relation between their lives and what they learn. They will be selfish, and not know they are selfish; worldly, and not be able to see they are worldly; mean, and yet quite unconscious of their meanness.

II. THE LAST, THE FINAL ISSUE of "quenching the Spirit," I cannot describe. A fearful condition is once or twice alluded to in the Bible, which a man reaches by long disobedience to the voice within him, and in which he can never be forgiven, because he can never repent, and he cannot repent because he has lost all, even the faintest tinge, of the beauty of holiness. What brings a man into such a state as this we cannot tell; but it is plain enough that the directest road to it is by "quenching the Spirit."

(Bp. Temple.)

Some have thought that the words of our text are to be referred to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which were enjoyed by the Church in the days of the apostle; such as the gift of healing, the gift of tongues, the gift of prophesying. All this may be very just, and very suitable to the Church of the Thessalonians; yet, if this were all, the words would have no application to us, since those miraculous gifts have ceased. Still, this admonition stands in the midst of precepts which are of lasting and universal obligation: "Rejoice evermore: Pray without ceasing: In everything give thanks;" and, a little onward, "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good." Who does not see that, both before and after the text, every precept belongs to all ages?

I. Let us attentively consider THE SUBJECTS PRESENTED TO OUR NOTICE in this brief but comprehensive sentence. Here is a Divine person exhibited, the Spirit; a comparison implied, fire; a state of privilege supposed, viz., that this fire is already kindled; finally, a sin prohibited, "Quench not the Spirit."

1. The gifts and illuminations, which we must not quench, cannot be viewed apart; they are inseparable from an actual indwelling of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit, therefore, is a Divine person. Sins are committed against Him. He must be a Divine person. The work which He performs in our hearts requires infinite knowledge, infinite condescension, infinite wisdom, and infinite power. The admonition of our text acquires a peculiar force from this consideration. We live under the ministration of the Spirit.

2. Here is a comparison implied. But, without attempting to follow out this comparison in all its particulars, it shall suffice to observe, that these words, addressed to the Thessalonians, must refer either to the light kindled in them by His teaching, or to the affections inflamed by His influence. True religion is both; it is inward illumination, and a hidden and celestial fire, which purifies and warms the heart, originated and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Love to God, fervency in prayer, ardent zeal for His glory, joy, desire. hope, all mounting heavenward; to what else could they be compared, with equal propriety? They conquer, they possess, they fill, they purify the soul. This fire is communicated from above, like that which burned upon the altar of old. Like that, it must be kept burning continually.

3. My dear brethren, you are addressed in the text, as those in whom this Divine fire is already kindled. It supposes that you are true Christians, and that you have a concern to keep the grace you have received. But is it really so? Alas! you cannot quench what has no existence in the soul.

4. This leads us to inquire into the sin. What is it to quench the Spirit? How far is it possible for a true believer to be guilty of it? And, by what means? Now, there are two ways, as we all know, in which fire may be quenched. It may be quenched by not adding fuel, or by adding water, and, in general, anything of a nature adverse to it. Hence there are two ways in which the Spirit may be quenched, illustrated by this emblem, negligence and sin.

II. We shall endeavour to ENFORCE THIS ADMONITION; for it is by far too important to be discussed only, without the addition of special motives, calculated to show the guilt and danger which would be involved in its neglect.

1. Therefore, consider that, if you quench the Spirit, you will provoke in an eminent degree the displeasure of God. No sins are reckoned so heinous as those which are committed against this Divine Agent.

2. Consider that this would be, in general, to destroy all your spiritual comfort; and, in particular, to silence the witness and obliterate the seal of your redemption, leaving you without any evidence of your interest in the great Salvation.

3. Consider, once more, that to be guilty of such an offence would open wide the floodgates of all sin, which it is the office of the Holy Ghost to subdue and destroy. It would leave you without strength and without defence against Satan and your own corruptions. Let me close by adding to this admonition a few words of exhortation.

1. Let me entreat you to conceive very affectionately of the Holy Spirit.

2. Let me exhort you to give honour to the Holy Spirit, by a distinct and continual recognition of your dependence upon Him.

3. Finally, if all this be true, then how miserably mistaken must be that ministry which casts the name and office of the Holy Spirit into the shade!

(D. Katterns.)

The Holy Spirit is more than "Emmanuel, God with us." He is God in us. Until He so comes we are ruined; when He comes the ruin becomes a living temple. No man can explain this; and yet every striving, expanding soul exults in the sacred belief. How awful, then, the power given to a man to quench the Spirit. How? By any unfair dealing with the laws and principles of our nature, by which lie works. He uses memory for conviction, conscience for condemnation or justification, understanding for enlightenment, will for invigoration, affections for happiness; and if we refuse to allow these faculties to be so used, we are quenching the Spirit. The Spirit's work is —

I. CONVICTION OF SIN. He takes a sinner, and makes memory a scourge to him: shows him the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin. It is a most gracious opportunity; but, alas! he misses it, stifles memory and silences conscience, and thus quenches the Spirit. Christians, too, when convinced of sin may quench the Spirit if they do not take heed.

II. REVELATION. "He shall receive of mine," etc. In conducting this great work He uses every kind of suitable instrumentality — the inspired writings, the spoken word, thoughtful books, Christian conversation, etc. It follows, then, that if we do not search the Scriptures and take kindly the ministries of truth we are shutting out of our hearts the waiting Spirit of God.

III. SEALING OR SETTING APART. When men are born by His regenerating power from above they are marked for their celestial destination, and set apart for God. He renews His sealing process again and again, retouching His work and bringing out the Divine inscriptions. Any one who resists this process, who does not often think of the Father and the Father's house, and who minds earthly things is quenching the Spirit. Christian people, too, have thoughts given to them purely as sealing thoughts; they are not needed for duty or life here, but for higher service and the life to come. One is earlier down some morning than usual, and in the short moment of quietness looks far away into the land of sunless light. One is struck suddenly — at the high noon of city life — with the utter vanity of all the fever and toil and strife. Or at night there falls upon the house a little visitation of silence. Quench not the Spirit in any of these His gracious comings.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

I. SOME DISTINCTIONS OF THIS SIN.

1. Total and partial.(1) Total, when the Spirit's impressions are quite erased so that no spark is left among the ashes. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man," and this Spirit departed from King Saul.(2) Partial, when the Spirit is weakened and brought to a very spark, as was the case with David (Psalm 51).

2. Wilful and weak.(1) Wilful, when men resolutely set themselves to put out the holy fire, being resolved not to part with their lusts, they go on in opposition to their light, strangle their uneasy consciences, murder their convictions that they may sin without control (Acts 7:51).(2) Weak, which is the result of carelessness rather than design (Ephesians 6:30; Song of Solomon 5:2-5).

II. HOW THE SPIRIT IS QUENCHED. This holy fire is quenched —

1. By doing violence to it, as when one puts his foot on the fire or casts water on it, or blows it out. Thus the Spirit is quenched by sins of commission. As when one raises an oftensive smoke in the room where his guest sits, he is grieved and departs; so the Spirit is grieved by the offensive smell of our corruptions.

2. By neglecting it, as the lamp will be extinguished if you feed it not with more oil, so the Spirit is quenched by neglecting his motions, and not walking in the light while we have it.

III. WHY WE SHOULD NOT QUENCH THE SPIRIT.

1. Because it is the holy fire; and, therefore, it ought to be kept carefully, and it is dangerous to meddle with it (Leviticus 9:24).

2. Because we can do nothing without it. So far as the Spirit goes away, all true light and heat go with Him, and then the soul is in death and darkness.

3. Because when once quenched we cannot rekindle it, We "cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth." Were it the fire of our own hearths we might kindle it again; but it is from heaven, and we have no command there.

4. Because the quenching of this fire is the raising of another tending to the consuming of the soul. This is a fire of corruption within us. When the Spirit departed from Saul he went to the devil. And some people never come to a height of wickedness till the Spirit has been at work in them, and they have quenched Him. Conclusion:

1. We may quench the Spirit in others —

(1)By mocking them.

(2)By speaking evil of the way of God (Acts 19:9).

(3)By diverting them from duty.

(4)By tempting them to sin.

2. Quench it not in yourselves but cherish it.

(1)By diligence in duties — Bible reading, Christian conversation, private prayer.

(2)By keeping up a tender frame of spirit.

(3)By strict obedience.

(4)By making religion the one thing.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

Light is the first necessity of life in this body; without it we could not go about our business, and should lose health and die. Such also is knowledge to the soul, and the Holy Spirit is the means of it. This light we are to beware of quenching. A light may be quenched —

I. BY NEGLECTING TO FEED AND TRIM IT. Coal, wood, oil, etc., serve as fuel for fire; Christian practice serves to maintain Christian knowledge. Practice is necessary for the preservation of even earthly knowledge. The knowledge communicated by the Spirit is that of salvation. This may be extinguished by not caring for it. How few things we read in the newspaper we remember a week after, simply because we are not interested. Shut up a light in a close place where no ray can pass forth, and after a little flickering it will go out. So if the light of the knowledge of Christ does not shine in deeds of faithful service it becomes extinguished.

II. BY CARELESSNESS. This engenders wilfulness, and then wickedness, and like the lamps of the virgins this light once quenched cannot be lighted again (Hebrews 6:4; Matthew 6:23).

I. THE OBJECT TO WHICH THIS EXHORTATION RELATES. Not the essence of the Spirit, or His inherent attributes, but His agency.

1. This agency is symbolized by fire. "He shall baptize you," etc. (Acts 2:1-3).(1) Fire imparts light, so it is the office of the Spirit to impart knowledge. "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened."(2) Fire is employed to purge metals from dross; the Holy Spirit purifies men from sin and makes them holy. In the Old Testament He was "the Spirit of burning;" in the New "the Spirit of holiness."(3) Fire imparts heat: it is the office of the Spirit to kindle in the soul emotions which animate and enliven — love, zeal, joy.

2. The value of that agency. Its preciousness is beyond all conception, transforming as it does the state and character and securing the blessings of eternity.

3. The responsibilities attached to it. It is not only a gift, it is a stewardship; it is not only a privilege, it is a talent, to be cherished and improved.

II. THE EVILS WHICH THE EXHORTATION DEPRECATES. The Spirit may he quenched —

1. By the want of a due recognition of His agency.(1) A Christian may be tempted in his own case to ascribe that to himself which is really the result of Divine grace.(2) He may be tempted in the case of others to disbelieve in the existence of the Divine work in spite of evidence, either in individual characters, or masses affected by revivals of religion. Wherever there is this guilty incredulity there is a refusal to the Spirit of the attributes due to Him.

2. By a want of holy separation from the world. The great design of the Christian vocation is holiness, and this is the one purpose of the operations of the Divine Spirit (John 17:14-20; Ephesians 5:7-15). If, then, a Christian permits himself to be so trammelled by earthly things as to conceal his character; if he allows his affections to be earthly; if he practices secular vocations which are forbidden, or pursues lawful ones inordinately; if he mingles in scenes of worldly frivolity or worse, what becomes of the fire kindled in his heart? Of course its light becomes faint, and its heat cools.

3. By a want of mutual forbearance and love." The fruit of the Spirit is love," etc. The indulgence, therefore, of angry passions is incompatible with the influence of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-32). Here is the condemnation of the strife of sects, of unbrotherly conduct in a given Church, of family quarrels, of all unneighbourliness.

4. By neglect of the Word of God and prayer. The Word of God comprises the record and its proclamation, both of which are under the influence of the Spirit. To neglect to read the one or to hear the other is a sure method of quenching the Spirit, who convinces, converts, sanctifies, etc., by each. So with prayer, private, domestic, congregational.

III. THE BLESSINGS WHICH COMPLIANCE WITH THIS EXHORTATION WILL SECURE. If Christians do not quench the Spirit, if they rightly apprehend the nature of the Spirit's agency — illuminating, etc.; if they do homage to it by nonconformity to the world; if they cultivate love; if they render a right regard to the Word of God and prayer they will secure —

1. The eminent prosperity and happiness of their own souls. We shall become firm in faith, pure in life, glowing in love, burning in zeal. We shall not be dwarfish, stunted plants, but as trees planted by rivers of water; others will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus, and "the very God of Peace will sanctify us wholly." And this prosperity will be our happiness. We shall thus walk in the light of God's countenance, enjoy His comforting, gladdening friendship here; be animated by a sure hope, and finally enter into the joy of the Lord.

2. The true glory of the Church. This glory does not consist in high sounding ecclesiastical pretensions, in pompous ritual, but in humility, holiness, stedfastness to truth, etc. Let Christians cherish and honour the Spirit and they will secure the beauty, spirituality, and splendour of the Church.

3. The rapid diffusion of religion. As the Church becomes more holy and prayerful obstacles will disappear, revived energy will be given and exerted and nations will be born in a day.

(J. Parsons.)

I. HOW DOES THE SPIRIT INFLUENCE THE MIND? Not by physical agency but by means of the truth. He persuades men to act in view of truth as we influence our fellows by truth presented to their minds. Sometimes this truth is suggested by providence, sometimes by preaching; but whatever the mode the object always is to produce voluntary action in conformity to His law.

II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS FACT AND WHAT MUST BE INFERRED FROM IT.

1. God is physically omnipotent, and yet His moral influences exerted by His Spirit may be resisted; but if the Spirit moved men by physical omnipotence there could be no resistance. The nature of moral agency implies the voluntary action of one who can yield to motive and follow light or not as he pleases. When this power does not exist moral agency cannot exist. Hence if our action is that of moral agents, our freedom to do or not do must remain.

2. If the Lord carries forward the work by means of revealed truth there must be most imminent danger lest some will neglect to study and understand it, or lest, knowing, they should refuse to obey it.

III. WHAT IS IT TO QUENCH THE SPIRIT?

1. The Spirit enlightens the mind into the meaning and self-application of the Bible. Now there is such a thing as refusing to receive this light. You can shut your eyes against it; you can refuse to follow it when seen; and in this case God ceases to hold up the truth before your mind.

2. There is a heat and vitality attending the truth when enforced by the Spirit. If one has the Spirit his soul is warm; if not his heart is cold. Let a man resist the Spirit and he will certainly quench this vital energy.

IV. THE WAYS IN WHICH THE SPIRIT MAY BE QUENCHED.

1. By directly resisting the truth He presents to the mind. After a short struggle the conflict is over, and that particular truth ceases to affect the mind. The man felt greatly annoyed by that truth until he quenched the Spirit; now he is annoyed by it no longer.

2. By endeavouring to support error. Men are foolish enough to attempt by argument to support a position which they know to be false. They argue it till they get committed, and thus quench the Spirit, and are left to believe in the very lie they unwisely attempted to advocate.

3. By uncharitable judgments, which are so averse to that love which is the fruit of the Spirit.

4. By bad temper, harsh, and vituperative language, and intemperate excitement on any subject whether religious or otherwise.

5. By indulging prejudice. Whenever the mind is made up on any subject before it is thoroughly canvassed, that mind is shut against the truth and the Spirit is quenched.

6. By violating conscience. Persons have had a very tender conscience on some subject, but all at once they come to have no conscience at all on that point. Change of conscience, of course, often results from conscientious change of views. But sometimes the mind is awakened just on the eve of committing a sin. A strange presentiment warns the man to desist. If he goes on the whole mind receives a dreadful shock, and its very eyes seem to be almost put out.

7. By indulging appetites and passions. These not only injure the body but the soul: and God sometimes gives men up to them.

8. By dishonesty and sharp practices in business.

9. By casting off fear and re. straining prayer.

10. By idle conversation, levity, and trifling.

11. By indolence and procrastination.

12. By resisting the doctrine and duty of sanctification.

V. THE CONSEQUENCE OF QUENCHING THE SPIRIT.

1. Great darkness of mind. Abandoned by God, the mind sees truth so dimly that it makes no useful impression.

2. Great coldness and stupidity in regard to religion generally. It leaves to the mind no such interest in spiritual things as men take in worldly things. Get up a political meeting or a theatrical exhibition, and their souls are all on fire; but they are not at the prayer meeting.

3. Error. The heart wanders from God, loses its hold on truth, and perhaps the man insists that he takes now a much more liberal and enlightened view of the subject, and it may be gradually slides into infidelity.

4. Great hardness of heart. The mind becomes callous to all that class of truths which make it yielding and tender.

5. Deep delusion with regard to one's spiritual state. How often people justify themselves in manifest wrong because they put darkness for light and vice versa.

(C. G. Finney, D. D.)

Fire may be quenched

I. BY CASTING WATER ON IT. This is comparable to actual, wilful sin (Psalm 51).

II. BY SPREADING EARTH UPON IT. This is applied to the minding of earthly things.

1. The cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches; excess of business which not only employs but entangles a man in the affairs of this life, by toil, scheming, speculation. The consequence is, the powers of the soul being limited, and when full, no matter of what, they can hold no more. As the water partakes of the quality of the soil over which it rolls, so our minds soon acquire a sameness with the object of our affection and pursuit.

2. Certain vanities and amusements erase the boundary line which should separate the Church from the world, and if they are not unlawful they have a tendency to destroy spirituality and a taste for devotion.

3. Worldly and political conversation which frets the mind, genders strife, and cools religious ardour. If we talk of that which we love best, where habitually are the thoughts and affections of many professed Christians? Surely it becomes us to live so as to "declare plainly that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

III. BY THE SEPARATION OF THE PARTS. Apply this to our divisions.

1. With what earnestness does the apostle enforce unity and cooperation among Christians! The enemy knows the importance of this; he therefore loves to separate, and unhappily finds too much to favour his wishes in our ignorance, prejudice, and infirmities.

2. There are some families who are quarrelling all day, and then go to prayer in the evening. If prayer does not induce people to avoid passion, then evil tempers will make them leave off prayer or perform it in a manner that is worse than the neglect of it.

3. One truth aids another truth, and one duty another duty. Detach private devotion from public, or public from private, and both sustain injury. Separate practice from principle, works from faith, or promises from commands, and you destroy the effect of the whole.

IV. BY WITHHOLDING FUEL. A real Christian will soon feel the disadvantage of disregarding the means of grace. You may keep in a painted fire without fuel, but not a real one. Conclusion: We cannot quench what we have not. The exhortation, therefore, supposes the possession of the Spirit. Yet there is a common work of the Spirit which accompanies the preaching of the Word, the effect of which may be entirely lost. Herod heard John gladly, but he cherished a criminal passion which destroyed all his fair beginnings. Felix heard Paul, but the trembler dismisses the preacher for a more convenient season which never came. He afterwards conversed with the apostle, but he never again experienced the feelings he had subdued.

(W. Jay.)

A man has lost his way in a dark and dreary mine. By the light of one candle; which he carries in his hand, he is groping for the road to sunshine and to home. That light is essential to his safety. The mine has many winding passages in which he may be hopelessly bewildered. Here and there marks have been made on the rocks to point out the true path, but he cannot see them without that light. There are many deep pits into which, if unwary, he may suddenly fall, but he cannot avoid the danger without that. Should it go out he must soon stumble, fall, perish. Should it go out that mine will be his tomb. How carefully he carries it! How anxiously he shields it from sudden gusts of air, from water dropping on it, from everything that might quench it! The case described is our own. We are like that lonely wanderer in the mine. Does he diligently keep alight the candle on, which his life depends? Much more earnestly should we give heed to the warning, "Quench not the Spirit." Sin makes our road both dark and dangerous. If God gave us no light, we should never find the way to the soul's sunny home of holiness and heaven. We must despair of ever reaching our Father's house. We must perish in the darkness into which we have wandered. But He gives us His Spirit to enlighten, guide, and cheer us.

(Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Several years ago I was called to visit a young man who was said to be sick, and wished to see me. Approaching him as he was lying upon his bed, I remarked that he certainly did not look as though he was ill. He replied, "I am not sick in my body, but in my soul. I am in deep distress." Asking him the cause of his distress, he said, "During the revival in our Church, I have not only resisted its influence, but I have made sport of the young converts, I have ridiculed those who were seeking the salvation of their souls, and I feel that I have committed an unpardonable sin, and there is no hope for me." I said to him, "Your sins are indeed fearfully great; but if you sincerely repent, and will now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, He will pardon you." I referred to the Saviour's compassion to the thief on the cross, and to other cases that might awaken some hope in his mind. But everything that was said failed to reach his case. His reply to every argument, or appeal, or passage of Scripture that was quoted, was the same, "There is no hope for me." After an earnest prayer for his salvation, and commending him to the mercy of God, I left him. Calling the next day, I found he had passed a sleepless night, and the state of his mind was unchanged. Again, after pointing him to the promises of the Scriptures, and praying with him, he expressed the same feeling of utter despair. Not a ray of light crossed the dark cloud that hung over his soul. The third day on entering his room I found him in a raging fever. His mental agony had taken effect upon his body. Without any indications at first of physical disease he was now lying in a most critical condition. I pointed him once more to the bleeding Saviour on the cross, and pleaded with him at the throne of grace. But with him the harvest was passed, the summer of hope was ended. He had quenched the Spirit, not only by his personal resistance, but by hindering and laughing at others who were seeking to escape eternal death. The next day I found that his reason was dethroned. His fond mother was bathing his temples with ice water. On my addressing him, he replied in an incoherent manner. He was beyond the reach of any gospel tidings. That night his soul passed into eternity.

(Rufus W. Clark, D. D.)

An old man came to a clergyman and said, "Sir, can a sinner of eighty years old be forgiven?" The old man wept much while he spoke, and on the minister inquiring into his history, gave this account of himself: — "When I was twenty one, I was awakened to know that I was a sinner, but I got with some young men who tried to persuade me to give it up. After a while I resolved I would put it off for ten years. I did. At the end of that time my promise came to my mind, but I felt no great concern, and I resolved to put it off ten years more. I did, and since then the resolution has become weaker and weaker, and now I am lost!" After talking to him kindly, the minister prayed with him, but he said, "It will do no good. I have sinned away my day of grace;" and in this state he soon after died.

How dangerous to defer those momentous reformations which conscience is solemnly preaching to the heart! If they are neglected, the difficulty and indisposition increase every day. The mind is receding, degree after degree, from the warm and hopeful zone, till at last it will enter the arctic circle and become fixed in relentless and eternal ice.

(J. Foster.)

A few months ago in New York a physician called upon a young man who was ill. He sat for a little by the bedside examining his patient, and then he honestly told him the sad intelligence that he had but a short time to live. The young man was astonished; he did not expect it would come to that so soon. He forgot that death comes "in such an hour as ye think not." At length he looked up in the face of the doctor and, with a most despairing countenance, repeated the expression: "I have missed it — at last." "What have you missed?" inquired the tender-hearted, sympathizing physician. "I have missed it — at last," again the young man replied. The doctor, not in the least comprehending what the poor young man meant, said: "My dear young man, will you be so good as to tell me what you —?" He instantly interrupted, saying: "Oh! doctor, it is a sad story — a sad — sad story that I have to tell. But I have missed it." "Missed what?" "Doctor, I have missed the salvation of my soul." "Oh! say not so. It is not so. Do you remember the thief on the cross?" "Yes, I remember the thief on the cross. And I remember that he never said to the Holy Spirit — Go Thy way. But I did. And now He is saying to me: Go your way." He lay gasping awhile, and looking up with a vacant, staring eye, he said: "I was awakened and was anxious about my soul a little time ago. But I did not want religion then. Something seemed to say to me, Don't postpone it. I knew I ought not to do it. I knew I was a great sinner, and needed a Saviour. I resolved, however, to dismiss the subject for the present; yet I could not get my own consent to do it until I had promised that I would take it up again at a time not remote, and more favourable. I bargained away, insulted and grieved the Holy Spirit. I never thought of coming to this. I meant to have religion, and make my salvation sure; and now I have missed it — at last." "You remember," said the doctor, "that there were some who came at the eleventh hour." "My eleventh hour," he rejoined, "was when I had that call of the Spirit; I have had none since — shall not have. I am given over to be lost." "Not lost," said the doctor; "you may yet be saved." "No, not saved — never! He tells me I may go my way now; I know it — I feel it here," laying his hand upon his heart. Then he burst out in despairing agony: "Oh, I have missed it! I have sold my soul for nothing — a feather — a straw; undone forever!" This was said with such unutterable, indescribable despondency, that no words were said in reply. After lying a few moments, he raised his head, and, looking all around the rooms as if for some desired object, turning his eyes in every direction, then burying his face in the pillow, he again exclaimed, in agony and horror: "Oh, I have missed it at last!" and he died.

(D. L. Moody.)

I heard a few nights ago that if you take a bit of phosphorus, and put it upon a slip of wood, and ignite the phosphorus, bright as the blaze is, there drops from it a white ash that coats the wood and makes it almost impossible to kindle the wood. And so when the flaming conviction laid upon your hearts has burnt itself out, it has coated the heart and it will be very difficult to kindle the light there again.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

When some poor distracted one in Paris determines to lift his hand against his own life, he begins by stopping up every nook and cranny in the room which lets in the sweet air of heaven. He closes the door, he closes the windows, he fills in every hole, one by one, before he kindles that fatal fire which by its fumes is to bring destruction. So it is when men deny the Spirit and quench the Spirit. They may not know it, for the madness of sin is upon them, but none the less is it true that one after another they close those avenues by which He might enter to save them, until God can do no more than stated apart in judgment, as over Ephraim of old, saying, "O Ephraim, thou hast destroyed thyself."

(W. Baxendale.)

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