1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quench not the Spirit.
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!
Parallel VersesKJV: Quench not the Spirit.