FRIDAY AFTER THE OCTAVE OF THE ASCENSION
ON PREPARING THE SOUL FOR THE HOLY GHOST
Consider first, that when we celebrate the Christian solemnities we ought not only to honour the mysteries we commemorate, and give praise and glory to the author of all good, for his benefits to his church; but also to enter into the spirit of the solemnity by aiming as much as possible at the dispositions of soul which are suitable to the mysteries we celebrate. And thus when we are pre paring to keep the solemn feast of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Ghost came down upon the first Christians, it ought to be the great subject of our devotion to prepare our souls for the Holy Ghost, that so we may be also favoured with his visit at this holy time, and may plentifully partake of his gifts and graces. O my soul, do thou aspire after this happiness, (the greatest of any thou canst enjoy on this side of eternity,) to have the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the living God, to come to thee, to take full possession of thy interior, and to abide for ever with thee. O spare no pains in preparing a proper lodging for him.
Consider 2ndly, how the apostles prepared themselves for the Holy Ghost, Acts i. 14, ‘They were persevering,’ saith the Scripture, ‘with one mind in prayer.’ And Luke xxiv. 53, ‘They were always in the temple, praising and blessing God.’ They prepared their souls for this heavenly guest by a spiritual exercise of ten days; they spent the whole time, from the ascension of our Lord till Whitsunday, in recollection and prayer. Retired as much as might be from the hurry and distractions of a busy noisy world, they attended in silence to God and their souls. They were always in prayer in the temple of God, and by that means they prepared their souls to be the temple of God. Happy they that endeavour to make the like preparation! happy they that make it their practice to prepare themselves every year at this time for the coming of the Holy Ghost by a spiritual retreat of some days. If thy circumstances, O my soul, will not allow thee this retirement and solitude, therein to breathe the purer air of devotion, and to aspire in a more suitable manner after the coming of the Spirit of God, at least wish for this happiness; and if thou canst do nothing more, at least in the midst of all thy other employments, call in thy thoughts as often as thou canst into thy closet within, and there entertain thyself with thy God. Nothing will contribute more effectually to fix the Holy Ghost in thy soul than this practice of aiming at an inward recollection in the midst of all thy works.
Consider 3rdly, that the great means to bring the Holy Ghost into our souls is to invite him thither by ardent desires and fervent prayer. Thus the apostles obtained him, and the word of God in many places assures us that this is the way for our obtaining all good, ‘that our heavenly Father will give his good spirit to all that ask him,’ Luke xi. 53, and that an ardent desire, a perfect hunger and thirst after this heavenly spirit, the fountain of all justice, are the means by which to be filled both with him and his gifts. ‘I wished,’ says the wise man, Wisdom vii. 7, ‘and understanding was given me; and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me.’ O my soul, see thou seek him in this manner by fervent desires and prayer, but let it be with thy whole heart. In finding him thou wilt find all good, for he is the overflowing source of all good; without him thou art nothing but misery and sin. O come, divine spirit, to my soul, that longs after thee, and bring with thee all thy heavenly treasures. O do thou prepare thyself a proper lodging in in heart, and them take full possession of it for time and eternity.
Conclude to spare no pains in using all the means in thy power to engage this divine spirit to come to visit thee, and to take up his abode with thee; frequently invite him with the Veni sancte Spiritus, &c., a hymn that he himself has inspired. He willingly comes to those that sincerely and heartily invite him.