A flood-tide is a rising tide. It flows in and fills up and spreads out. Wherever it goes it cleanses and fertilizes and beautifies. For untold centuries Egypt has depended for its very life upon the yearly flood-tide of the Nile. The rich bottom lands of the Connecticut Valley are refertilized every spring by that river's flood-tide. The green beauty and rich fruitage of some parts of the Sacramento Valley, whose soil is flooded by the artificial irrigation-rivers, are in sharp contrast with adjoining unwatered portions.
The flood-tide is caused by influences from above. In the ocean and the portions of rivers under its influence by the heavenly bodies. In the rivers by the fall of rain and snow swelling successively the upper streams and lakes.
God's highest ideal for men is frequently expressed under the figure of a river running at flood-tide. Ezekiel's vision of the future capital of Israel gives prominence to a wonderful river gradually reaching flood-tide and exerting untold influence.
John's companion vision of the future church in the closing chapters of Revelation finds its radiating center in an equally wonderful river of water of life. When Jesus would give a picture of a christian man up to His ideal He exclaims, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John's explanation years after was that He was speaking of the Holy Spirit's presence in the human life. Jesus' ideal would put our lives at the flood-tide. No ebb-tide there. No rise and fall. But a constant flowing in and filling up and flooding out.
Love is ambitious. God is love. And therefore God is ambitious for us. In the best sense of the word He is ambitious for our lives. The old impression has been that salvation is for the soul, and for heaven. Well, it is for the soul, and it is for heaven, but it is for the present life and for this earth. Some of God's most far-reaching plans have to do with this earth. To-night we want to get a glimpse of God's ambitious ideal for our lives down here; something of an understanding of the results of the unrestrained presence within us of His Holy Spirit.
It is not surprising that there have been some mistaken ideas about the results. It has been a common supposition that somehow the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always connected with an evangelistic gift and, further, connected with marked success in soul-winning. Men have thought of Mr. Moody facing great crowds, who were swayed and melted at his words, and of people in great multitudes accepting Christ. Probably the world has never had a finer illustration of a Spirit-filled man than in dear old Moody. And it is not to be wondered at that the rare evangelistic gift of service with which he was endowed and the great results attending it should be so closely allied in our minds with the Spirit-filled life which he exemplified so unusually. In sharp contrast however with that conception will you note that we are told over here in Exodus of a man named Bezalel who was filled with the Spirit of God that he might have skill in carpentry, in metal working, and weaving of fine fabrics, for the construction of the old tent of God. Will you note further that a company of seventy men were filled in a like manner that they might be skilled in conducting the business affairs of the nation; and that Luke tells of Elizabeth being filled that she might become a true mother for John.
A second misconception has been that marked success always accompanies the Spirit's control. In contrast with that will you please note the results in some of the Spirit-swayed men whom God used in Bible times. Isaiah was called to a service that was to be barren of results, though long continued; and Jeremiah's was not only fruitless but with great personal peril. Jesus' public work led through a rough path to a crown of thorns and a cross. Stephen's testimony brought him a storm of stones. And Paul passed through great danger and distress to a cell, and beyond, a keen-edged ax. These are leaders among Spirit-filled men.
Paul's teaching in the Corinthian epistle helps one to a clear understanding about results. He explains that while it is one Spirit dwelling in all who acknowledge Jesus as Lord, yet the evidence of His presence differs widely in different persons. It is one God working all things in all persons, but with great variety in the gifts bestowed, in the service with which they are intrusted, and in the inner experiences they are conscious of.
What results then may be expected to follow the filling of the Holy Spirit? It may be said in a sentence that Jesus fills us with the same Spirit that filled Himself that He may work out in us His own image and ideal, and make use of us in His passionate reaching out after others. If we attempt to analyze these results we shall find them falling into three groups. First -- results in the life, that is in the inner experiences, and the habits. Second -- results in the personality, that is in the appearance, and the mental faculties. Third -- results in service. Let us look a little at each of these.
A Transfigured Life.
First regarding the inner experiences. Without doubt the first result experienced will be a new sense of peace: a glad, quiet stillness of spirit which nothing seems able to disturb. The heart will be filled with a peace still as the stars, calm as the night, deep as the sea, fragrant as the flowers.
How many thousands of lips have lovingly lingered over those sweet strong words: "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your heart and thought in Christ Jesus." It is God's peace. It acts as an armed guard drawn up around heart and thoughts to keep unrest out. It is too subtle for intellectual analysis, but it steals into and steadies the heart. You cannot understand it but you can feel it. You cannot get hold of it with your head, but you can with your heart. You do not get it. It gets you. You need not understand in order to experience. Blessed are they that have not understood and yet have yielded and experienced.
"Peace beginning to be
With that will come a new intense longing to do the Master's will; to please Him. As the days come and go this will come to be the master-passion of this new life. It will drive one with a new purpose and zest to studying the one book which tells His will. That book becomes literally the book of books to the Spirit-dominated man.
With that will come a new desire to talk with this new Master, who talks to you in His word, and is ever at your side sympathetically listening. His book reveals Himself. And better acquaintance with Him will draw you oftener aside for a quiet talk. The pleasure of praying will grow by leaps and bounds. Nothing so inspires to prayer as reverent listening to His voice. Frequent use of the ears will result in more frequent use of the voice in prayer and praise. And more: Prayer will come to be a part of service. Intercession will become the life mission.
But I must be frank enough to tell you of another result, which is as sure to come as these -- there will be conflict. You will be tempted more than ever. Temptations will come with the subtlety of a snake; with the rush of a storm; with the unexpected swiftness of a lightning flash. You see the act of surrender to Jesus is a notice of fight to another. You have changed masters, and the discarded master does not let go easily. He is a trained, toughened fighter. You will think that you never had so many temptations, so strong, so subtle, so trying, so unexpected. But listen -- there will be victory! Truth goes in pairs. You will be tempted. The devil will attend to that. That is one truth. Its companion truth is this: you will be victorious over temptation as the new Master has sway. Your new Master will attend to that. Great and cunning and strong is the tempter. Do not underrate him. But greater is He that is in you. You cannot overrate Him. He got the victory at every turn during those thirty-three years, and will get it for you as many years and turns as shall make out the span of your life. Your one business will be to let Him have full control.
Still another result, of the surprising sort, will be a new feeling about sin. There will be an increased and increasing sensitiveness to sin. It will seem so hateful whether coarse or cultured. You will shrink from contact with it. There will also be a growing sense of the sinfulness of that old heart of yours, even while you may be having constant victory over temptation. Then, too, there will grow up a yearning, oh! such a heart-yearning as cannot be told in words, to be pure, really pure in heart.
A seventh result will be an intense desire to get others to know your wonderful Master. A desire so strong, gripping you so tremendously, that all thought of sacrifice will sink out of sight in its achievement. He is such a Master! so loving, so kind, so wondrous! And so many do not know Him: have wrong ideas about Him. If they only knew Him -- that surely would settle it. And probably these two -- the desire to please Him, and the desire to get others to know Him will take the mastery of your ambition and life.
The All-Inclusive Passion.
But all of these and much more is included in one of Paul's packed phrases which may be read, "the love of God hath flooded our hearts through the Holy Spirit given unto us." The all-inclusive result is love. That marvelous tender passion -- the love of God -- heightless, depthless, shoreless, shall flood our hearts, making us as gentle and tender-hearted and self-sacrificing and gracious as He. Every phase of life will become a phase of love. Peace is love resting. Bible study is love reading its lover's letters. Prayer is love keeping tryst. Conflict with sin is love jealously fighting for its Lover. Hatred of sin is love shrinking from that which separates from its lover. Sympathy is love tenderly feeling. Enthusiasm is love burning. Hope is love expecting. Patience is love waiting. Faithfulness is love sticking fast. Humility is love taking its true place. Modesty is love keeping out of sight. Soul-winning is love pleading.
Love is revolutionary. It radically changes us, and revolutionizes our spirit toward all others. Love is democratic. It ruthlessly levels all class distinctions. Love is intensely practical. It is always hunting something to do. Paul lays great stress on this outer practical side. Do you remember his "fruit of the Spirit"? It is an analysis of love. While the first three -- "love, joy, peace" -- are emotions within, the remaining six are outward toward others. Notice, "long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness," and then the climax is reached in the last -- "self-control." And in his great love passage in the first Corinthian epistle, he picks out four of these last six, and shows further just what he means by love in its practical working in the life. "Long-suffering" is repeated, and so is "kindness" or "goodness." "Faithfulness" is reproduced in "never faileth." Then "self-control" receives the emphasis of an eight-fold repetition of "nots." Listen: -- "Envieth not," "boasteth not," "not puffed up," "not unseemly," "seeketh not (even) her own," "is not provoked," "taketh not account of evil" (in trying to help others, like Jesus' word "despairing of no man"), "rejoiceth not in unrighteousness" (that is when the unrighteous is punished, but instead feels sorry for him). What tremendous power of self-mastery in those "nots"! Then the positive side is brought out in four "alls"; two of them -- the first and last -- passive qualities, "beareth all things," "endureth all things." And in between, two active "hopeth all things," "believeth all things." The passive qualities doing sentinel duty on both sides of the active. These passive traits are intensely active in their passivity. There is a busy time under the surface of those "nots" and "alls." What a wealth of underlying power they reveal! Sometimes folks think it sentimental to talk of love. Probably it is of some stuff that shuffles along under that name. But when the Holy Spirit talks about it, and fills our hearts with it there is seen to be an intensely practical passion at work.
Love is not only the finest fruit, but it is the final test of a christian life. How many splendid men of God have seemed to lack here. What a giant of faith and strength Elijah was. Such intense indignation over sin! Such fearless denunciation! What tremendous faith gripping the very heavens! What marvelous power in prayer. Yet listen to him criticising the faithful remnant whom God lovingly defends against his aspersions. There seems a serious lack there. God seems to understand his need. He asks him to slip down to Horeb for a new vision of his Master. And then He revealed Himself not in whirlwind nor earthquake nor lightning. He doubtless felt at home among these tempestuous outbreaks. They suit his temper. But something startlingly new came to him in that exquisite "sound of gentle stillness," hushing, awing, mellowing, giving a new conception of the dominant heart of his God. Some of us might well drop things, and take a run down to Horeb.
I know an earnest scholarly minister with strong personality, and fearless in his preaching against sin, but who seems to lack this spirit of love. He is so cuttingly critical at times. The other ministers of his town whom he might easily lead, shy off from him. There is no magnetism in the edge of a razor. His critical spirit can be felt when his lips are shut. I recall a woman, earnest, winsome when she chooses to be, an intelligent Bible student, keen-scented for error, a generous giver, but what a sharp edge her tongue has. One is afraid to get close lest it may cut.
When the Holy Spirit takes possession there is love, aye, more, a flood of love. Have you ever seen a flood? I remember one in the Schuylkill during my boyhood days and how it impressed me. Those who live along the valley of that treacherous mountain stream, the Ohio, know something of the power of a flood. How the waters come rushing down, cutting out new channels, washing down rubbish, tearing valuable property from its moorings, ruling the valley autocratically while men stand back entirely helpless.
Would you care to have a flood-tide of love flush the channelways of your life like that? It would clean out something you have preferred keeping. It would with quiet, ruthless strength, tear some prized possessions from their moorings and send them adrift down stream and out. Its high waters would put out some of the fires on the lower levels. Better think a bit before opening the sluice-ways for that flood. But ah! it will sweeten and make fragrant. It will cut new channels, and broaden and deepen old ones. And what a harvest will follow in its wake. Floods are apt to do peculiar things. So does this one. It washes out the friction-grit from between the wheels. It does not dull the edge of the tongue, but washes the bitter out of the mouth, and the green out of the eye. It leaves one deaf and blind in some matters, but much keener-sighted and quicker-eared in others. Strange flood that! Would that we all knew more of it.
The Fullness of the Stature of a Man.
Now note some of the changes in the personality which attend the Spirit's unrestrained presence. Without doubt the face will change, though it might be difficult to describe the change. That Spirit within changes the look of the eye. His peace within the heart will affect the flow of blood in the physical heart, and so in turn the clearness of the complexion. The real secret of winsome beauty is here. That new dominant purpose will modulate the voice, and the whole expression of the face, and the touch of the hand, and the carriage of the body. And yet the one changed will be least conscious of it, if conscious at all. Neither Moses nor Stephen knew of their transfigured faces.
It is of peculiar interest to note the changes in the mental make-up. It may be said positively that the original group of mental faculties remain the same. There seems to be nothing to indicate that any change takes place in one's natural endowment. No faculty is added that nature had not put there, and certainly none removed.
But it is very clear that there is a marked development of these natural gifts, and that this change is brought about by the putting in of a new and tremendous motive power, which radically affects everything it touches.
Regarding this development four facts may be noted.
First fact: -- Those faculties or talents which may hitherto have lain latent, unmatured, are aroused into use. Most men have large undeveloped resources, and endowments. Many of us are one-sided in our development. We are strangers to the real possible self within, unconscious of some of the powers with which we are endowed and intrusted. The Holy Spirit, when given a free hand, works out the fullness of the life that has been put in. The change will not be in the sort but in the size, and that not by an addition but by a growth of what is there.
Moses complains that he is slow of speech and of a slow tongue. God does not promise a new tongue but that he will be with him and train his tongue. Listen to him forty years after in the Moab Plains, as with brain fired, and tongue loosened and trained he gives that series of farewell talks fairly burning with eloquence. Students of oratory can find no nobler specimens than Deuteronomy furnishes. The unmatured powers lying dormant had been aroused to full growth by the indwelling Spirit of God.
Saintly Dr. A. J. Gordon, whose face was as surely transfigured as was Moses' or Stephen's used to say that in his earlier years he had no executive ability. Men would say of him, "Well, Gordon can preach but -- " intimating that he could not do much else; not much of the practical getting of things done in his makeup. When he was offered the chairmanship of the missionary committee of the Baptist Church, he promptly declined as being utterly unfit for such a task. Finally with reluctance he accepted, and for years he guided and molded with rare sagacity the entire scheme of missionary operation of the great Baptist Church of the North. He was accustomed with rare frankness and modesty to speak of the change in himself as an illustration of how the Spirit develops talents which otherwise had lain unsuspected and unused.
The second fact: ALL of one's faculties will be developed, to the highest normal pitch. Not only the undeveloped faculties, but those already developed will know a new life. That new presence within will sharpen the brain, and fire the imagination. It will make the logic keener, the will steadier, the executive faculty more alert.
The civil engineer will be more accurate in his measurements and calculations. The scientific man more keenly observant of facts, better poised in his generalization upon them, and more convincing in his demonstrations. The locomotive engineer will handle his huge machine more skillfully. The road saves money in having a christian hand on the throttle. The lawyer will be more thorough in his sifting of evidence, and more convincing in the planning of his cases. The business man will be even more sharply alive to business. The college student can better grasp his studies, and write with stronger thought and clearer diction. The cook will get a finer flavor into the food. And so on to the end of the list. Why? Not by any magic, but simply and only because man was created to be animated and dominated by the Spirit of God. That is his normal condition. The Spirit of God is his natural atmosphere. The machine works best when run under the inventor's immediate direction. Only as a man -- any man -- is swayed by the Holy Spirit, will his powers rise to their best. And a man is not doing his best, however hardworking and conscientious, and therefore not fair to his own powers, who lives otherwise.
Some one may enter the objection, that many of the keenest men with finely disciplined powers may be found among non-christian men. But he should remember two facts, first, that a like truth holds good in the opposite camp. There are undoubtedly men whose genius is brilliant because inspired by an evil spirit. There are cultured scholarly men, and keen shrewd business men who have yielded their powers to another than God and are greatly assisted by evil spirits, though it is quite likely that they are not conscious that this is the true analysis of their success.
The second fact to note is that no matter how keen or developed a man's powers may be either as just suggested, or, by dint of native strength and of his own effort they are still of necessity less than they would be if swayed by the Spirit of God. For man is created to be indwelt and inspired by God's Spirit, and his powers can not be at their best pitch save as the conditions of their creation are met.
The third fact: -- There will be a gradual bringing back to their normal condition of those facilities which have been dwarfed, or warped, or abnormally developed through sin and selfishness. Sometimes these moral twists and quirks in our mental faculties are an inheritance through one or more generations. The man with excessive egotism often carries the evidence of it in the very shape of his head. But as he yields to the new Spirit dominant within, a spirit of humility, of modesty will gradually displace so much of the other as is abnormal. The man of superficial mind will be deepened in his mental processes. The man of hasty judgment or poor judgment will grow careful in his conclusions. The lazy man will get a new lease of ambition and energy.
These results will be gradual, as all of God's processes are. Sometimes painfully gradual, and will be strictly in proportion as the man yields himself unreservedly to the control of the indwelling Spirit. And the process will be by the injection of a new and mighty motive power. The shallow-minded man will have an intense desire to study God's wondrous classic so as to learn His will. And though his studies may not get much farther, yet no one book so disciplines and deepens the mind as that. The lazy man will find a fire kindling in his bones to please his Master and do something for Him, that will burn through and burn up his indolence. The man of hasty judgment will find himself stopping to consider what his Master would desire. And the mere pause to think is a long step toward more accurate judgment. He will become a reverent student of the word of God, and nothing corrects the judgment like that.
The self-willed, headstrong man will likely have the toughest time of any. To let his own plan utterly go, and instead fit into a radically different one will shake him up terrifically. But that mighty One within will lovingly woo and move him. And as he yields, and victory comes, he will be delighted to find that the highest act of the strongest will is in yielding to a higher will when found. He will be charmed to discover that the rarest liberty comes only in perfect obedience to perfect law.
And so every sort of man who has gotten some moral twist or obliquity in his mental make-up will be straightened out to the normal standard of his Maker, as he allows Him to take full control.
The fourth fact: -- All this growth and development will be strictly along the groove of the man's natural endowment. The natural mental bent will not be changed though the moral crooks will be straightened out. Peter's rash, self-assertive twists are corrected, but he remains the same Peter mentally. He does not possess the rare logical powers of Paul, nor the judicial administrative temper of James, before the infilling, and is not endowed with either after that experience. John's intensity which would call down fire to burn up supposed foes is not removed but turned into another channel, and burns itself out in love. Jonathan Edwards retains and develops his marvelous faculty of metaphysical reasoning and uses it to influence men for God. Finney's intensely logical mind is not changed but fired and used in the same direction.
Moody has neither of these gifts, but has an unusually magnetic presence, and a great executive faculty which leaves its impress on his blunt direct speech. His faculties are not changed, nor added to, but developed wonderfully and used. Geo. Mueller never becomes a great preacher like these three; nor an expositor, but finds his rare development in his marked administrative skill. Charles Studd remains a poor speaker with jagged rhetoric and with no organizing knack, though the fire of God in his presence kindles the flames of mission zeal in the British universities, and melts your heart as you listen. Shaftsbury's mental processes show the generations of aristocratic breeding even in his costermonger's cart lovingly winning these men, or after midnight searching out the waifs of London's nooks and docks. Clough is refused by the missionary board because of his lack of certain required qualifications, and when finally he reaches the field none of these qualities appears, but his skill as an engineer gives him a hold upon thousands whom his presence and God-breathed passion for souls win to Jesus Christ. Carey's unusual linguistic talent, Mary Lyon's teaching gift are not changed but developed and used. The growth produced by the Spirit's presence is strictly along the groove of the natural gift. But note that in this great variety of natural endowment there is one trait -- a moral trait, not a mental -- that marks all alike, namely a pervading purpose, that comes to be a passion, to do God's will, and get men to know Him, and that everything is forced to bend to this dominant purpose. Is not this glorious unity in diversity?
Saved and Sent to Serve.
The third group of results affects our service. We will want to serve. Love must act. We must do something for our Master. We must do something for those around us. There will be a new spirit of service. Its peculiar characteristic and charm will be the heart of love in it. Love will envelop and undergird and pervade and exude from all service. There will be a fine graciousness, a patience, a strong tenderness, an earnest faithfulness, a hopeful tirelessness which will despair of no man, and of no situation.
The sort of service and the sphere of service will be left entirely to the direction of the indwelling Holy Spirit, "dividing to every man as He will." There will be no choosing of a life work but a prayerful waiting till His choice is clear, and then a joyous acceptance of that. There will be no attempt to open doors, not even with a single touch or twist of the knob, but only an entering of opened doors.
If the work be humble, or the place lowly, or both, there will be a cheery eager using of the highest powers keyed to their best pitch. If higher up, a steady remembering that there can be no power save as the Spirit controls, and a praying to be kept from the dizziness which unaccustomed height is apt to produce. Large quantities of paper and ink will be saved. For many letters of application and indorsement will remain unwritten.
The Master's say-so is accepted by Spirit-led men as final. He chooses Peter to open the door to the outer nations, and Paul to enter the opened door. He chooses not an apostle but Philip to open up Samaria, and Titus to guide church matters in Crete. A miner's son is chosen to shake Europe, and a cobbler to kindle anew the missionary fires of Christendom. Livingston is sent to open up the heart of Africa for a fresh infusion of the blood the Son of God. A nurse-maid, whose name remains unknown, is used to mold for God the child who became the seventh Earl of Shaftsbury, one of the most truly Spirit-filled men of the world. Geo. Mueller is chosen for the signal service of re-teaching men that God still lives and actually answers prayer. Speer is used to breathe a new spirit of devotion among college students, and Mott to arouse and organize their service around the world. Geo. Williams and Robert McBurney become the leaders, British and American, in an in-Spirited movement to win young men by thousands. An earnest woman is chosen to mother and to shape for God the tender years of earth's greatest queen, who through character and position exerted a greater influence for righteousness than any other woman. The common factor in all is the Chooser. Jesus is the Chief Executive of the campaign through His Spirit. The direction of it belongs to Him. He knows best what each one can do. He knows best what needs to be done. He is ambitious that each of us shall be the best, and have the best. He has a plan thought out for each life, and for the whole campaign. His Spirit is in us to administer His plan. He never sleeps. He divideth to every man severally as He will. And His is a loving, wise will. It can be trusted.
A Spirit-mastered man slowly comes to understand that service now is apprenticeship-service. He is in training for the time when a King shall reign, and will need tested and trusted and trained servants. He is in college getting ready for commencement day. That may explain in part why some of the workers whom we think can be least spared, are called away in their prime. Their apprentice term is served. School's out. They are moved up.
The Music of the Wind Harp.
Please remember that these are flood-tide results. Some good people will never know them except in a very limited way. For they do not open the sluice-gates wide enough to let the waters reach flood-tide. These results will vary in degree with the degree and constancy of the yielding to the Spirit's control. A full yielding at the start, and constantly continued will bring these results in full measure and without break, though the growth will be gradual. For it is a rising flood, ever increasing in height and depth and sweep and power. Partial surrender will mean only partial results; the largest and finest results come only as the spirit has full control, for the work is all His, by and with our consent.
In one of her exquisite poems Frances Ridley Havergal tells of a friend who was given an aeolian harp which, she was told, sent out unutterably sweet melodies. She tried to bring the music by playing upon it with her hand, but found the seven strings would yield but one tone. Keenly disappointed she turned to the letter sent before the gift and found she had not noticed the directions given. Following them carefully she placed the harp in the opened window-way where the wind could blow upon it. Quite a while she waited but at last in the twilight the music came:
"Like stars that tremble into light
* * * * *
"Anon a thrill of all the strings;
"Soon passed the sounding starlit march,
"Thus, while the holy stars did shine
And the listening friend to whom this wondrous experience is told, who has had a great sorrow in her life, and been much troubled in her thoughts and plans replies:
" ... I too have tried
May we too learn the lesson of the wind-harp. For man is God's aeolian harp. The human-taught finger skill can bring some rare music, yet by comparison it is at best but a monotone. When the instrument is set to catch the full breathing of the breath of God, then shall it sound out the rarest wealth of music's melodies. As the life is yielded fully to the breathing of the Spirit we shall find the peace of God which passeth all understanding filling the heart; and the power of God that passeth all resisting flooding the life; and others shall find the beauty of God, that passeth all describing, transfiguring the face; and the dewy fragrance of God, that passeth all comparing, pervading the personality, though most likely we shall not know it.
 Exodus xxxi: 1-5.
 Numbers xi: 16, 17.
 Luke i: 13-17, 41.
 1 Cor. xii: 4-6, 11.
 Rom. v: 5.
 Gal. v: 22-23.
 1 Cor. xiii.
 Luke vi: 35. R. V., margin.