Come from the four winds, O breath; and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. Ezekiel 37:9.
The wind of the Holy Ghost blows very freely; the Spirit acts as an independent sovereign, John 3:8. It does not stay stop for the prohibition of any creature. So the breathing of the Spirit are sovereignly free as to the time of their donation, free as to their duration and continuance, free as to the measure, and free as to the manner of their working. And then,
He breathes on the soul sometimes very surprisingly: “Or ever I was aware (says the spouse,) my soul made me like the chariots of Animinadib.” Canst thou not seal this in thy experience, believer, that sometimes, when thou hast gone to duty in a very heartless and lifeless condition, perhaps beginning to raze foundations, and to say with Zion, “The Lord hath forsaken, and my God hath forgotten,” a gale from heaven has in a manner surprised thee, and set thee upon the high places of Jacob, and made thee to cry with the spouse, “It is the voice of my beloved! Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills? —His anger endureth but for a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
These breathings and influences of the Spirit are sometimes very piercing and penetrating. The cold nipping north wind, you know, goes to the very quick. The sword of the Spirit “pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Wind, you know, is of a very seeking, penetrating nature; it seeks through the closest chambers. So the Spirit, which is the candle of the Lord, “searcheth the lower parts of the belly:” he makes a discovery of these lusts and idols that sulk in the secret chambers of the heart.
The breathings of this wind are very powerful, strong, and efficacious. Who can oppose the blowing of the winds? Some winds have such a mighty force with them, that they bear down, overturn, and overthrow everything that stands in their way. So the Spirit of the Lord sometimes, especially at first conversion, breaks in upon the soul like the rushing of a mighty wind, as he did upon the apostles, breaking down the strongholds of iniquity, casting to the ground every high thought and towering imagination of the soul, that exalts itself against Christ, with a powerful and triumphant efficacy. He masters the darkness of the mind, the contumacy and rebellion of the will, and the carnality of the affections: the enmity of the heart against God, and all the spiritual wickedness that are in the high places of the soul, are made to fall down at his feet, as Dagon did before the ark of the Lord.
Although he act thus powerfully and irresistibly, yet it is with an overcoming sweetness, so as there is not the least violence offered to any of the natural faculties of the soul: for whenever the Spirit comes with his saving influences, he sweetly overcomes the darkness of the mind; the sinner becomes a volunteer, and content to enlist himself a soldier under Christ’s banner: Psal. 110:3: “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” No sooner does Christ by his Spirit say to the soul, “Follow me,” but immediately they arise and follow him. “Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.” Then,
There is something in the breathing of this wind that is incomprehensible by reason: John 3:8: “Thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goes,” says Christ: “so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” There is something in the operation of the eternal Spirit and his influences beyond the reach, not only of natural but of sanctified reason. Who can tell “how the bones are formed in the womb of her that is with child?” So, far less can we tell how the Spirit forms the babe of grace in the heart; how he preserves, maintains, and cherishes “the smoking flax,” that is not quite extinguished. We may, in this case, apply the words of the psalmist in another case, and say, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known;” and that of the apostle, “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”