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The Work of the Holy Spirit

Dear CPC Family,


In the late spring, I took an aside from Romans to preach four sermons on the doctrine of effectual calling.  This doctrine is closely related to regeneration and the new-birth.  To assist that study, I read several books on the Holy Spirit, including this one from Octavius Winslow, who was a 19th century minister in England.  I also used these notes to conduct family worship.  I hope they stimulate your reflection on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.



Pastor Roberts

September 2018

(Please pardon any typos found below.  The fault is with me, not with the author or publisher.)



Octavius Winslow (1808 - 1878), The Work of the Holy Spirit, 1840 (repr. Edinburg: Banner of Truth, 2013)




Octavius Winslow was a prominent Baptist minister in England during the 19th century.  He was a friend of Charles Spurgeon and J. C. Ryle.  He composed over 100 books and pamphlets; several of his books reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust. 


Page 2:  Low views of the dignity of the Holy Spirit’s person will engender low views of the necessity and nature of his work. 


Page 47:  The natural man is a god to himself, and he has many other gods as well. 


Page 52:  A new spring of action is a distinguished feature of the renewed man which must not be overlooked.  Every unconverted man has his rule of action; or, in other words, some great governing principle, which is his rule and standard in all that he does.  The controlling principle of an unrenewed mind is self.  His rule is to adopt such a course, and to do such things, as either gratify or elevate himself.  . . . But quickened by the Spirit, ‘born of God,’ ‘created anew in Christ Jesus,’ the will of God is now his rule of action, the glory of God his aim, and the love of Christ his constraining motive.  ‘The expulsive power of a new affection’ has found a home and a dwelling-place in his heart; and when his own will comes into competition with God’s will, under the holy sway of this ‘new affection’ – the love of Christ – self is renounced, yea swallowed up in God, and God in Christ is all in all. 


Page 113:  It may be, reader, that your heart is often anxious to know in what way you may distinguish between nature and grace, how you may clearly discern between that which is the work of man, and that which is the work of God.  In this way you may trace the vast difference – that which at first came from God, returns to God again.  It rises to the source whence it descended. . . Did nature ever teach a soul the plague of its own heart?  Did nature ever lay the soul in the dust before God, mourning and weeping over sin?  Did nature ever inspire the soul with pantings for God and thirstings for holiness?  And did it ever endear the throne of grace and make precious to the soul the atoning blood, the justifying righteousness of Jesus?


Page 132:  The holy Robert Leighton has remarked that to say from the heart ‘Thy will be done’ constitutes the very essence of sanctification.


Page 135:  Such an attainment in holiness is not soon or easily gained.  Far from it.  In many, it is the work of years; in all, of painful discipline.  It is not on the high mount of joy, but in the low valley of humiliation, that this precious and holy surrender is learned.  It is not in the summer day – when all things smile and wear a sunny aspect – then it were easy to say, ‘Thy will be done’; but when a cloudy and a wintry sky looks down upon you, when the chill blast of adversity blows, when health fails, when friends die, when wealth departs, when the heart’s fondest endearments are yielded, when the Isaac is called for . .  . . then to look up with filial love and exclaim, ‘My Father, thy will be done!’ – oh, this is holiness, this is happiness indeed.


Page 145:  They know but little of their own heart, who do not know, that sin (to borrow the language of John Owen), ‘not only still abides in us, but is still acting, still laboring to bring forth the deeds of the flesh. . . . When sin lets us alone (as has been remarked) we may let sin alone.’ 


Page 166:  Where the Holy Spirit descends in an especial and extraordinary manner (as the history of the American churches and, more recently, of many in our own land testifies that he sometimes does), conversions assume a more marked character and type.


Page 217:  He gives you himself.  Can he give you more?


Page 237:  Draw near, then, seeking soul, with boldness [in prayer]; not the boldness of presumption, self-righteous man, but that of one chosen, called, pardoned and justified.  Draw near with the lowly boldness of a child, with the humble confidence of a son.  You are dear to your Father.  Your voice is sweet to him.


Page 254:  Many of the saints of God tend to forget the appointed path of believers through the world.  They forget that the path is to be one of tribulation; that far from being a smooth, a flowery and an easy path, it is rough, thorny and difficult.  The believer often expects all his heaven on earth.  He forgets that whatever spiritual enjoyment there may be here, related in its nature to the joys of the glorified, and of this he cannot expect too much – the present is only the wilderness state of the church.


Page 261:  Be sure of this, that when the Lord is about to favor you with some great and peculiar blessing, he may prepare you for it by some great and peculiar trial.


A Study in Romans

CPC is commencing a study in the book of Romans.  Romans has played a pivotal role in the life of the church through the centuries.  It also comprehensively declares the Gospel and thereby informs our study of the rest of scripture.

The pivotal moment of Augustine's conversion was caused by reading Romans 15:13.  It was Martin Luther’s comprehension of Romans 1:17 that sparked the Protestant Reformation.  Luther wrote:

I had greatly longed to understand Paul’s letter to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression ‘the righteousness of God’, because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and acts righteously in punishing the unrighteous . . . Night and day I pondered until . . . I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith.  Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.  The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before ‘the righteousness of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love.  This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven.  (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 34 (Muhlenberg Press, 1960), pp. 336f.)

Both John Calvin and William Tyndale stated that Romans elucidated the other books of the Bible.  Calvin wrote:

If we gained a true understanding of this Epistle, we have an open door to all the most profound treasures of Scripture.

William Tyndale stated:

[Romans is] the principal and most excellent part of the New Testament, the most pure Euangelion, that is to say, glad tidings. . . . . and also a light and a pure way in unto the whole Scripture.


As a church we spent a year in Ephesians which has only 6 chapters.  Romans has 16 chapters and is quite dense.  I suspect we'll be in our study of Romans for at least two years.  

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