ON THE MARKS OF THE HOLY GHOST’S ABIDING IN THE SOUL
Consider first, that the surest way to make a judgment whether the Holy Ghost abides in the soul or not, is by his fruits. The Spirit of God never lies idle: he is a fire that is always active, always in motion, always tending upwards. If we find nothing of this in our soul we have reason to fear he is not there. His fruits are charity, joy, peace, patience, &c. If we have none of these fruits, he is not with us. My son, what is thy faith? Is it firm? Is it lively? Or is it not rather dull and dead? Does it show itself in the practice of thy life? Dost thou live by faith? What is thy hope? What is thy sense of the things of eternity? What is thy esteem of spiritual things? What is thy devotion? What is thy love for God and thy neighbour? What is thy desire of making a daily progress in the way of God? By examining thyself upon these heads, it will be easy to judge whether the Holy Ghost be with thee or nor. But especially there is no surer mark of this divine spirit abiding in the soul, than a constant and fervent desire of loving God daily more and more, and of ever knowing and doing his holy will in all things. Dost thou find in thyself this earnest desire of loving and pleasing God? If so, the Spirit of God cannot be far from thee.
Consider 2ndly, that as there is an infinite opposition between the spirit of God and wilful sin, so one of the surest marks of the Holy Ghost’s residing in the soul, is a settled constant abhorrence of wilful sin, with a fixed determination of the soul never to admit for the future any such sin, upon any consideration whatsoever. My soul, what is thy disposition in this regard? Art thou fully determined to be ever faithful and loyal to thy God, both in life and death? Dost thou resolutely renounce Satan and all his works, both for the present time and for ever? Is it thy constant and settled resolution never to transgress the holy law and commandments of God for any worldly honour, interest, or pleasure, for any respect of person, for any fear or love, for anything that the world can give or take away, or for any other consideration? If this be thy sincere disposition and determination, the Holy Ghost is with thee; but if thou art not thus determined, there is no room for him in thy soul, because Satan is there.
Consider 3rdly, that where the Holy Ghost comes he ‘convinces the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment,’ John xvi. 8. He convinces the soul of sin, inasmuch as he gives to the soul which he enlightens with his presence, a sense of the enormity of sin, and of the multitude and greatness of her own sins in particular, a horror for that hellish monster, and a desire of abolishing it by penance. He discovers also many stains where the soul before perceived none, and humbles her exceedingly by the conviction of her manifold guilt. My soul, dost thou experience in thyself this conviction of sin? The Holy Ghost by his coming convinces also the soul of the justice of Christ and of his heavenly law, of the beauty of virtue and holiness, and of the pleasure and happiness that is found in serving God in earnest. Art thou, my soul, practically convinced of all this? Dost thou practically prefer this manna of heaven before the flesh-pots of Egypt? Again, the Holy Ghost, by his coming, convinces the soul of the wrong judgment she has hitherto made, in following the world and the prince of this world, who is already judged and condemned, and of the right judgment she ought to make of all things, in order to escape that judgment which God will otherwise one day make of her. Dost thou, my soul, find in thee this conviction of judgment? Is thy judgment rectified by the Holy Ghost in regard to truth and falsehood, verity and vanity, time and eternity? Dost thou not still follow, by a perverse judgment, the prince of this world, rather than Jesus Christ; the maxims of worldlings, who are liars in their balances, rather than the practice of the saints, who weigh all things in the scales of the sanctuary? Will thy way of judging be able to stand the test of the last great trial.
Conclude to examine well by such marks as these whether the Spirit of God be with thee or not. If thou seem to find in thyself these marks of his presence, return him humble thanks; but be not too secure, lest the artifices of thy self-love should deceive thee, or thy pride should drive him away from thee. But if thou discoverest not in thyself these marks of his being with thee, bewail thy misery, and give thyself no rest till by penitential tears and fervent prayer, and all the other means by which the Holy Ghost is to be invited into the soul, thou hast grounds to hope that he has returned to thee.