Iris' Archives, June 2019
FAREL, GUILLAUME ( far'el) 1489-1565
Dynamic French Protestant pioneer, who broke ground for the Reformation in many French and Swiss cities. Responsible for getting John Calvin to settle in Geneva.
The seven-petaled columbine blossom, or the seven-blossom stalk stand for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit as given in Revelation 5:12: "power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing."
Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed
His tender last farewell,
A Guide, a Comforter, bequeathed
With us to dwell.
He came in semblance of a dove,
With sheltering wings outspread,
The holy balm of peace and love
On earth to shed.
THE name of Henriette, more commonly known as Harriet, Auber will be remembered in connection with a single hymn, though she did write others.
One Whit Sunday, at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire where she then lived, Harriet was sitting in her bedroom thinking over the sermon she had heard in church that morning, when the lines of the above hymn began to form themselves in her mind. She had neither pencil nor paper, and as she was sitting near a window she took a diamond ring from her finger with which she wrote the words on a pane of glass. It seems that the words remained there for many years, but after the death of the authoress the pane of glass was cut out and stolen.
The hymn is characteristic of the life of the authoress, quiet, devotional, trusting. Harriet's father was rector of Tring in Hertfordshire and she seems to have lived in the same county all her life, at Broxbourne, and later in Hoddesdon where she died. In both places her name and the names of her sisters were for long remembered with affection. She had a valued friend, Miss Mary Jane McKenzie, who lived with her during many of the latter years of her life.
Harriet wrote devotional and other poetry, but only a portion of the former was published in her Spirit of Psalms in 1829. This collection consisted mainly of her own work and from it some useful versions of the Psalms have been taken to include in hymn-books, about 20 appearing in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn-Book in 1866.
The hymn, 'Our blest Redeemer', sweet as it is, has much doctrinal content and could almost be used as a treatise on the Holy Spirit and His work. As we take it verse by verse we may fmd that we have covered at least a part of the ground which theologians would call 'The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit'.
The first verse clearly takes us into John's Gospel, chapters 14-16, where the Lord is preparing His disciples for the things which must shortly come to pass and which will cause them great anguish. In chapter 14 the Lord tells His disciples not to be troubled. He must leave them to go to prepare a place for them, but He assures them, 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth . . . I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you' (verses 16-18). In verse 26 the Lord says, 'But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things. . .' Again, in chapter 16, the Lord tells His fearful disciples that He must go away. 'But now I go my way to him that sent me'. He knows the sorrow which will fill their hearts, but says, 'Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you' (verse 7).
The hymn echoes these words. The Lord further says, 'Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth'. The Comforter is the most precious name of the Holy Spirit, speaking as it does of His ability to heal the broken heart, to turn sorrow into joy and turmoil into peace. So here in the first verse of the hymn we have the r8le of the Spirit in believers' lives; He is to be their Guide into all truth and their Comforter when the Lord Himself is in heaven with His Father.
The second verse of the hymn says, 'He came in semblance of a dove', and immediately our minds are turned to the Lord's baptism. 'And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased' (Luke 3:22). God the Father caused the Holy Spirit to descend like a dove upon Christ to set His seal to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the beloved Son of God. Harriet Auber also refers to the 'spread' of the dove's sheltering wings, which is suggestive of the Spirit's ministry in defending the believer against infernal powers. 'As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem' was Isaiah's message to the believers of his day, and mention of the Spirit's sheltering wings in our hymn but revives and reinforces the ministry.
He came in tongues of living flame,
To teach, convince, subdue;
All-powerful as the wind He came,
As viewless too.
This third verse takes us straight to Pentecost. The Lord has commanded the disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wai there 'for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have hear of me . . . ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many day hence . . . ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is com upon you' (Acts 1:4-8). So, 'when the day of Pentecost was full come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenl there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and i filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeare unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each o them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost . . .' (Act 2:1-4). Thus each disciple received the power to be Christ's witness, enabling him to speak for Christ words that would 'teach, convince, subdue'. In the same moment the Spirit came as ' mighty wind', the symbol of that cleansing, reviving power neede by the disciples individually and as a company, and by individua Christians and the church as a body ever since Pentecost. Th Spirit, too, is the divine Person who brings about the new birth, a John chapter 3 reminds us, and in this respect also the Scriptur compares His work to that of the wind.
The fourth verse reads:
He came sweet influence to impart,
A gracious willing Guest,
While He can find one humble heart
Wherein to rest.
We have here described the indwelling of the believer by the Hol Spirit. The divine Guest loves the humble heart. He says that H will dwell 'with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit' (Isaia 57:15).
The Holy Spirit is also a voice within us, speaking through th Word of God and through our consciences. We are told not t quench or to grieve the Spirit. The Spirit Himself, dwelling withi us, helps us to obey the exhortations which the Lord gives:
And His that gentle voice we hear,
Soft as the breath of even,
That checks each fault, that calms each fear,
And speaks of heaven.
May we ever be sensitive to this gentle voice and ready to listen an to obey!
And every virtue we possess,
And every conquest won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are His alone.
We link this sixth verse with the fruit detailed in the Epistle to th Galatians. 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance' (Galatians 5:22,23). We cannot of ourselves bring forth the fruit o the Spirit unless the Spirit first works the fruit in us. The works o the flesh are natural to us, but we would know nothing of 'love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . ' if God had not sent the Spirit of Hi Son into our hearts. To win victory even over one sin we need to b strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man.
It is as wonderful to be able to pray to the Spirit as it is to hav access to God the Father (through Christ) and to Jesus Christ, ou Saviour.
Spirit of purity and grace,
Our weakness, pitying, see:
O make our hearts Thy dwelling-place,
And worthier Thee.
If such prayer is offered, by faith in God's promise to give the Hol Spirit to those that ask (Luke 11:13), the Comforter will stoop t enter our poor hearts. In one sense our hearts can never be worth for the Lord to live in them, but in His great mercy He has chose to do so.
That Christians may live in 'the love of the Spirit' (Roman 15:30) and, in all their weakness, bring glory to God by live indwell and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, are two of the grea aims set before the ministers of God's Word. Just as every servan of the Lord, working in public or in private, cannot but b dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God, so too must the Spirit' ministry operate in the lives of all who would receive blessing 'fro on high'. Many blessings come to us through human channels, bu their fountain-head is God Himself; and the indwelling Spirit o God graciously conveys them to us. To all these wonderful truth Harriet Auber gives excellent expression. If it is for one hymn onl that she is now remembered, that single hymn is of surpassin worth.
During an oral examination Bishop Whatley asked the candidate in front of him what the difference was between a form and a ceremony. There was a pause while the man cudgelled his brains for an answer, but before he could reply Whatley came to his rescue. 'You are right, the meanings to me seem nearly the same, though you must admit there is a very fine distinction all the same; you sit on a form, but you stand on a ceremony.