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(they can but“ die, and turn again to their dust"); then did God send forth His Holy Spirit, the COMFORTER promised by our SAVIOUR, to unite them as true members to Jesus Christ, so to new create them, and “ renew the face of the earth.” Since HE came down on the day of Pentecost, a new Heaven and a new earth has begun here among men ; all things are changed, all put in a new light, all clothed with a kind of glory from above. So great is this change, that the New Testament mentions it repeatedly under the title of a new creation,” a new birth,” a “ kingdom which cannot be moved,” and the like: and the Church has always considered such Psalms as this 104th, which celebrates God's glory in the words of the first creation, to be in meaning, in their Christian meaning, hymns of praise for the second creation also; for the regeneration of the world out of wickedness and confusion, as well as for its first birth out of disorder, and emptiness, and darkness.
The breath of the Most High, then, mentioned in the text, is the Holy SPIRIT of the FATHER and the Son, the Third Person in the Blessed Inseparable Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son to give life, and order, and harmony, to His creatures ; especially to make His reasonable creatures, Angels and men, partakers of His unspeakable holiness. Therefore, the Psalm which so teaches concerning the Breath of the Lord, is appointed to be one of the proper Psalms for this great day; Almighty God having so ordered this world which we see, in reference to that better one which we do not see, that the one is throughout a kind of pattern or shadow of the other ; and the hymns of praise for the first creation, which the Book of Psalms has in many places, are suitable to be used when we are glorifying God for this His second and far more perfect creation, His spiritual and eternal world.
And as the Church on Christmas-day taught us to regard the light of the sun as a visible token of our Saviour, according to St. John's expression, “ That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" so at this season she teaches us to regard the Holy Spirit as being, in some wonderful sense, the Breath of God; as indeed the word “ SPIRIT" would of itself imply, for in the first place it means Breath."
The Holy Spirit is called the Breath of God, as being
breathed out in a mysterious and marvellous way over His whole creation, but especially into the souls of reasonable beings, to make all in their several measure partakers of God and of happi.
The Holy Spirit is God secretly present, encompassing us about, entering into us, piercing even to the very depths of our being, like the air we breathe, unseen, but known by its effects.
If this parable of Breath be well considered, it may seem to account for other like parables, so to call them, by which Holy Scripture teaches us how to think of This our most Holy COMFORTER. For instance, the Holy Spirit is sometimes compared to the wind, as in the discourse of our Saviour to Nicodemus : “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” The wind, blowing so far and wide over the world, invisible, but possessed often of immense power, unknown as to where it begins and ends, and as to the rules by which it rises or falls, is set forth as an emblem of that Spirit, whose coming was to-day made known to His chosen Messengers by a sudden great sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, which filled all the house where they were sitting.” So the Holy Spirit came suddenly, not according to any rules which we could calculate upon, but according to God's good pleasure, when He saw the time was arrived for the Kingdom of Heaven to be set up. It was rushing mighty wind;" the whole world might perceive that there was a heavenly power in It, which had never yet made Itself known. “ It filled all the house where they were sitting :" the Spirit of God showed HIMSELF alike in all places of the Church at once-north, south, east, and west; it is the same Divine Presence and Power, accompanying the Sacraments of Jesus Christ, and answering the prayers of His people.
Thus the wind, when we hear or feel it, may remind us of the Breath of ALMIGHTY GOD; and the effects of the wind, the clouds which it brings over the earth, the '
moisture which the air takes up, the dews which descend, the rains which pour down, the springs which gush out, the waters which flow over the earth; all these are in Scripture tokens of the same SPIRIT, showing HIMSELF in gifts and sanctifying graces, and communicating spiritual life to His people.
Thus the Cloud of Glory, in which, as well as in the Red Sea, the children of Israel were baptized, was the figure, as we learn from St. Paul, of the Holy Spirit by whom Christians are regenerated in the Waters of Baptism.
The dew which came down at the prayer of Gideon, first on the fleece alone, then on all the ground besides, leaving the fleece alone dry, betokened the gifts of the Holy Spirit in several degrees, for a long time given to the Jews only, then at the setting up of Christ's Kingdom made common to all nations, and that in an infinitely higher and more blessed way. The manna which came down all night, silently on every side of the camp, that too was a kind of dew from Heaven, “a gracious rain upon God's Inheritance, refreshing it when it was weary," as another of the Psalms appointed for this season teaches, adding, that “God's congregation was to dwell therein,”-the whole Church is to dwell in the Spirit of God, as in the air it breathes, as in the comfortable and refreshing dewy vapour, which makes this earth tolerable for her to abide in.
The water gushing from the smitten rock was the token and sign of the Holy Spirit, flowing forth from Jesus Christ crucified to every one of His members, even as HE HIMSELF declared : “ If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink : he that believeth on ME, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." “ This (St. John adds) spake He of the SPIRIT, which they that believe on Him should receive.” It is also compared to water generally, as in the Sacrament of Baptism, and in the vision wherein St. John saw living waters proceed from the Throne of God and the Lamb, and go out through the whole sacred city, a pure river of the water of life.”
Nay, and that well-known token also of a dove, by which the HOLY SPIRIT manifested HIMSELF to the Baptist, is not altogether of a different sort from these. For the hovering of the Holy Dove we may suppose, was like a soft cloud, gently wafted from Heaven to settle on the Son of God; and this may have been one reason why that figure in particular was fixed on.
You see, then, what a number of common things, the most common things in our sight, Almighty God has set down in His Word as emblems of His Holy and Blessed SPIRIT, the TEACHER
and COMFORTER of all faithful souls. If you do but see a cloud in the sky, you see what may remind you of Him, overshadowing the Church with blessed consolations and promises, coming to be the Tabernacle and Refuge, the Home and Shelter of all who are weary and heavy laden. The morning and evening dews are like His refreshing graces, ever new, never failing, given impartially to all, coming silently, but known by their purity and brightness, and by the holy hope and joy and strength, which they spread over the whole heart and life of man; not unlike the cheerful green which follows on a timely shower in spring or summer.
Nay, even such an ordinary sight as a shower of rain is a sign of the same high Presence, if Christians will but have the heart to believe it. It tells us of Him who is always ready, in answer to our true and faithful prayers, to “ send a gracious rain on His inheritance, and refresh it in its weariness.”
And so, too, if we will follow the example of those who came nearest our Lord's own time, we shall not be ashamed to see continually, even in the wells by our doors, or in the brooks or watercourses that we meet with, something to remember Him by, who has vouchsafed, once for all, to “ sanctify the element of water to the mystical washing away of sin.”
So many, and so common and cheap, are the lessons which the works of God all around will read to us, if we have ears to hear, concerning the ever-blessed SPIRIT; and how unspeakably deep and high, how infinitely important, is the truth which they join to teach! That He who is the Finger, the Power of God, the Holy Ghost, one with the FATHER and the Son, as He is present in all His works, so is He ever in a peculiar manner abiding in those whom He has regenerated and made members of Jesus Christ,-out of sight, out of hearing, beyond all feeling or any outward sense, yet infinitely nearer and closer to every one of us than any of the things we do see, hear, or feel, or can make out by reasoning; ready at hand to all His faithful ones, at every moment of their dangerous and trying pilgrimage, to guide and comfort, to purify and refresh them; so that whatever difficulties arise, we may still say, “We are, by baptism, partakers of God and of Christ; we have once renounced and overcome the Evil One, and by the same Power we may do so again, because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.'
More especially we are hereby taught to think of our own spiritual and hidden life, the life which we have concealed and laid up
for us with Christ in God, the life which is altogether of faith, not at all of sight. I say, whatever puts us in mind of the HOLY SPIRIT, puts us in mind of that life; for He, as the Belief truly tells us, is “ the LORD and Giver of life.” Christ, we know, is our only life, as many as truly belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. Now the Holy SPIRIT joins us to CARIST, makes us members of Him in Holy Baptism; keeps us so in the other Blessed Sacrament; and, therefore, especially is He called “the LORD and Giver of Life" in the Creed. “ By Him we live, and move, and bave our being," as people of God.
Observe now, how well this agrees with the teaching both of the Old and New Testament, concerning the heavenly operation and providence of God's Spirit. First, the Spirit of God, moving on the face of the waters, prepared them mysteriously for the wonderful births, which God kept bringing out of them, till the six days' work was over. The waters cherished the still and dead elements, to bring forth life when Almighty God should command. By and by, when mention is made of creating man, we read, “ The LORD God formed man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the Breath of life, and man became a living soul.” What was it, then, my brethren, that gave our first father life? It was the Breath of Life, the Spirit of GOD, breathed from above into his nostrils. The natural life, then, of the first Adam was a gift of the Spirit, a token of His Divine Presence; but much more so the spiritual life, which Christians have by union with the second Adam. To bring us, -us I say, who are here present, unworthy sinners (for every one of us was then in His mind)- to bring us to Almighty God, the Holy Ghost first performed this great wonder : He afterwards came down from Heaven in the fulness of time, descended upon the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, and caused our LORD to be conceived in her womb, and to take our human nature upon Him of her substance, she still continuing a most pure and holy virgin. Thus, that Christ's life might be communicated to us, did God's watchful love provide for Him to be first