On The Presence Of The Spirit In The Church
'The present enjoyment of the Spirit is but an earnest, a gift beforehand, a pledge of the coming fulness. St. Paul speaks (Rom. viii. 23) of those "which have the first-fruits of the Spirit," and in his other epistles he uses equivalent expressions (Eph. i. 13, iv. 30; 2 Cor. i. 22, v. 5). What can be meant by such words but that the spiritual life is a continual progression, receiving, with its widening capacities, richer gifts of the wisdom and holiness of God? The Church is in its infancy as to valuation of spiritual blessing. It is, too, so much engaged in controversy that it can hardly be preparing it-elf for the completion of the holy promise. By mistaking the part for the whole, it is in danger of settling itself into premature satisfaction, as if it had exhausted the possibilities of prayer! Will it be uncharitable to suggest that the Church is too much engaged in that worst and most cankering of all worldliness, the elevation of one sect above another, and the angry defence of forms, which are but transient conveniences? What is delaying the outpouring of the fulness of the Spirit? There is indeed a still sterner inquiry, which cannot be put without emotion, yet it may not be honestly suppressed. Is not the presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church less distinct to-day than in the apostolic age? Certainly there is not much appearance of Pentecostal inspiration in contemporary Christianity. Why has not a Church eighteen hundred years old a fuller realization of the witness of the Holy Ghost than had the Church of the first century 1 Has the Church accomplished all the purpose of God, and passed for ever the zenith of her light and beauty V—The Paraclete, p. 173.