Joy unspeakable, described
I'm currently reading Martin Lloyd-Jones' stunning Joy unspeakable - his sermon series on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I think I'll write more about it later but I can't go on reading without posting some of the wonderful stories he includes of people receiving the Holy Spirit.
I sometimes find descriptions of encounters with the Holy Spirit twee and weird. I guess it's a bit like hearing people who are in love - some talk about it in a way that enables you to share their joy, others don't! For me, these accounts have described and accentuated a thirst I long to have quenched again and again...
Thomas Goodwin (1600-80), described by Lloyd-JonesA father is walking down the road with his son’s hand in his own and the child is enjoying the presence of his father and knows that he is loved. Then, without the child doing anything special, moved only by the father’s love, the father reaches down and scoops his son off his feet and up into his arms. He hugs the child tightly, showers him with kisses, tells him he loves him more than life itself and sets him down again. The child already knew his father loved him, there was no doubt. But oh the added measure of assurance, the joy of knowing that love is not based on anything you have done but simply flows out of the heart of the father. That is what it means to have God near.John Owen, Treatise on communion with the Holy Ghost, 1657Of this joy there is no account to be given but that the Spirit worketh it when and how He will. He secretly infuseth and distils it into the soul, prevailing against all fears and sorrows, filling it with gladness, exultations, and sometimes with unspeakable raptures of the mind.William Guthrie (1620-65)It is a glorious divine manifestation of God unto the soul, shedding abroad God’s love in the heart. It is a thing better felt than spoken of. It is no audible voice but it is a ray of glory filling the soul with God as He is Life, Light, Love and Liberty, corresponding to that audible voice “O man, greatly beloved”, putting a man in a transport… This is such a glance of glory that it may in the highest sense be called the “earnest” or the “firstfruits” of the inheritance (Ephesians 1:14)… almost wholly conforming the man unto His likeness, so swallowing him up that he forgetteth all things except the present manifestation. Oh how glorious is this manifestation of the Spirit!Blaise Pascal, writing found on a sheet of paper sewn inside his shirtThis day of Grace 1654:From about half past ten at night, to about half after midnight,Fire.God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,Not of the philosophers and the wise.Security, security. Feeling, joy, peace.God of Jesus Christ.Thy God shall be my God.Forgetfulness of the world and all save God.He can be found only in the ways taught in the Gospel.Greatness of the human soul.Oh righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee but I have known Thee.Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.I have separated myself from Him.My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?…That I be not separated from Thee eternally.This is life eternal: that they might know Thee the only true God, and Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.I have separated myself from Him; I have fled, renounced, crucified Him.May I never be separated from Him.He maintains Himself in my only in the ways taught in the Gospel.Renunciation total and sweet.Jonathan Edwards, The personal narrative of Jonathan Edwards, 1740As I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alight from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that was for me extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also above the heavens. The Person of Christ appear ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thoughts and conceptions, which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour; such as to keep me a greater part of the time in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love Him with a holy and pure love; to trust in Him; to live upon Him; to serve Him and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity.John Wesley, diary entry 1 January 1738Mr Hall, Hinching, Whitefield, Hutching and my brother Charles were present at our love feast in Fetter Lane with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning as we were continuing instant in prayer the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exulting joy and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from the awe and amazement at the presence of His Majesty, we broke out with one voice, “We praise Thee O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.”D.L. Moody, The life of D.L. Moody, 1900I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York — oh, what a day! — I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.