As the Holy Spirit in a sinner's heart is compared to water, so also is he compared to the wind, the several properties thereof being applicable to him. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." (John 3:8) The Spirit of God is a free agent: he works how, and when, and where he pleases. He acts freely in the first application of grace to a poor sinner, and does so in all the after actings, operations, and influences of grace, as well as in the donation of those gifts which he bestows upon man for different purposes. For though there are "diversities of gifts, differences of administrations, and diversities of operations, yet all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to everyone severally as he will." (1 Cor. 12:4,11) The wind blows imperceptibly, "Thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth, and so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." The workings of the Spirit of God in regeneration are invisible and imperceptible. Man can no more account for the Spirit's grace than he can see the wind when it blows; he can no more tell from whence this grace comes (except that it comes from God), and how it operates than he can point at the treasures of the wind, and tell from whence they arise, and why they blow sometimes one way and sometimes another, sometimes only in a gentle breeze and at other times in violent storms. To pursue the figures: 1st. The wind is of a purifying and cleansing nature, therefore some call it nature's fan, it clears the air of infections and noxious vapors, hence we find when judgment is threatened, a negative is put upon the wind as to this use. "A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan nor to cleanse," (Jer. 4:11) implying that it is a blessing when the wind purifies the air as corn is fanned and purified from the chaff. The souls of sinners are filled with fogs and vapors of sin and ignorance, pride and self-righteousness, darkness, sorrows, troubles and afflictions, unbelief, doubts and fears; but when the Spirit of God comes, he fans and purges the soul from these noxious vapors by sprinkling the blood of atonement upon the conscience, whereby sinners are purged from dead works, those dead weights and heavy clogs which hinder them from serving the Lord. The wind moves the water, which otherwise by standing still would soon be stagnant and quickly destroy the life both of man and beast, impregnating the air with miasma. But through the blowing of wind all is kept in motion, and by that means both the air and water are kept pure. Thus it is with the hearts of God's family. Had it not been for the Spirit of God stirring up their hearts and souls, they would become dead and lifeless, they would settle themselves in a carnal security and false peace: but the blessed Spirit keeps stirring up their souls as the eagle stirreth up her nest. This He does in a variety of ways; sometimes by storms of affliction, and at other times by persecution; sometimes by crosses and losses, and at other times by bereavements; sometimes he permits Satan to come into the soul with his temptations like a flood which threatens destruction to the very foundation of their hope. Satan is permitted at times to fill our souls with infernal suggestions, which are to the soul as wormwood and gall. Sometimes the blessed Spirit opens more than usual the depravity of our human nature, and the corruptions of the heart, and shows us greater abominations than have yet been seen or felt. Sometimes he removes his influence from our souls and his peace afar off, and at the same time gives the soul a lively sense of its state.
The Spirit never removes his person nor his graces from the soul, but he removes his manifested presence and gracious influence. Sometimes he does it by awakening the soul to see its present condition, and giving a godly sorrow and repentance, shedding abroad the love of Christ in the soul, and leading it to the crimson fountain which stands open for sin and uncleanness. In all these he acts as a sovereign, making use of the means he thinks best. Oh, it is an infinite mercy that he does so! else the whole church would become pools of noxious water. Like as the wind tempers and cools the air by its gentle breezes, such is the influence of the Spirit of God upon the soul. In hot seasons, we count it a mercy when the wind gently blows. We read of "the cool of the day," or, as in the margin, "the wind of the day," Gen. 3:8; implying that the extreme heat of the day is usually cooled and assuaged by the wind. (Job 37:17) The prophet, Jer. 14:6 describing a time of drought, saith, "The wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons," (to snuff the cool wind in time of drought is refreshing,) so, the Holy Spirit tempers the heat of Satan's temptations, the burning heat of the world, and the things therein, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, the heat of persecutions, afflictions, and self-revenge.
The Holy Spirit is compared to the south wind, because it brings serenity along with it--it is not a boisterous and tempestuous wind, but still and gentle. The Spirit of God brings peace and quietness into the heart of a distressed sinner, where previously there was nothing but storms and tempests. The fruit of the Spirit is peace; peace in the conscience--a peace that passeth all understanding, which he works in the sinner's heart by leading him to the person of Christ, who is the Peacemaker, and the Prince of Peace. The Spirit may be compared to the south wind because it brings warmth with it, breaks up frost and thaws the ice. "When ye see the south wind blow," says Christ, Luke 12:55, "ye say there will be heat, and it cometh to pass;" so the Spirit of God brings heat along with him to the cold heart of a sinner dead in trespasses and sins, and by the mighty influence of his grace thaws and melts his frozen soul, and with his soul-warming gales and comfortable discoveries of love, enlivens, comforts, and refreshes the saint.
2nd. The south wind usually brought rain; we are told that it produced great floods than others do. Before the mighty rain which Elijah foretold, we read of a wind; "The heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain." (1 Kings 18:45) When Elisha told those three kings distressed for want of water, "Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain, yet that valley shall be filled with water," he thereby implied that wind is the ordinary forerunner of rain. (2 Kings 3:17) The Holy Spirit brings this precious gospel rain, by his ministers, to nations or cities, and to the hearts of the redeemed. Unless he sends the gospel, they must remain destitute. It was he who sent Philip to preach the gospel to the eunuch. (Acts 8:29) The Spirit bade Peter go to preach the gospel to the centurion. (chap. 11:10) And we read of the Spirit not suffering Paul to go to Bythynia to preach the gospel there. He disposes of his ministers as a sovereign. When he says to them go and carry this blessed rain, they must obey. When he speaks by them, "his doctrines drop as the rain, and his speech distils as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." (Deut. 32:2) He, like the wind, causes the souls of the redeemed to flourish. A sweet gale of wind is not only good for man and beast, but for grass and herbs, plants and trees. So it is with the blessed Spirit. He quickens natural men, compared to beasts, and revives the saints, and waters the plants and herbs of his own planting. By his warmth he makes the children of God fruitful. By his mighty grace and influence he causeth the sap to flow, which was congealed by the cold of a long and dreary winter. He sets all his graces in the sinner's heart to work; hence Christ bids the Spirit blow upon his spices. (Songs 4:16) "Awake, O north wind, and come thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." Here Christ speaks as Mediator, according to covenant engagement, after he has done his work on earth, that the Spirit should do his; which does not imply the inferiority of the Spirit, but the fulfilling of his office, which is a great condescension of the Holy Spirit. Here Christ compares him to the north wind as well as to the south. This may be expressive of the usual order of the Spirit in his operations; he is, first, as the north wind, sharp and biting; and then as the south wind, warm and refreshing. He first acts the part of a Convincer, and then that of a Comforter. He first kills, and then makes alive; he first wounds, and then heals; he first humbles souls, and makes them low in their own eyes, and then exalts them; he first brings them into the wilderness, and then speaks comfortably unto them. From hence we may gather that the people of God stand in need of both winds. Sometimes they need the Spirit as a reprover, to bring them to a sense of themselves, as well as a Comforter to relieve them under their distresses, the cold and nipping north wind as well as the warm and comfortable south wind. The winds are beneficial for the drying up of waters; they make the earth clean as well as the air. It is said, (Gen. 8:1) after the whole world was drowned, "God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters abated. The wind dries as well as the sun. The Spirit of God dries up the tears of his dear saints, and the floods of trouble and sorrow; He brings them through fire and water into a dry land; he makes their rough path smooth, and the crooked straight.
3rd. The wind is useful for many purposes. By it, mills are turned, to grind corn for the food of man; so the Spirit breaks and opens the Scriptures of truth, and the doctrines of the gospel, to feed his dear children, otherwise they could not digest it. By his so doing, they feed upon the word as upon the finest flour; then corn, indeed, makes the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids. By the winds, ships are carried across the seas to foreign countries; so the Spirit brings the living soul to the very walls of the New Jerusalem, and enables it to knock at the gates of heaven, till God, as it were, takes the alarm, and says, "Now will I arise, for I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians." (Exo. 3:7,8)
By winds, the life of man, is, in a great measure, maintained. We are told that a man may live seven days without food, but we know that he cannot live one hour without air. So the Spirit, not only is the giver of spiritual life, but the maintainer of that life already given. We only breathe spiritually as we receive spiritual breathe from him, and without him we are nothing, and can do nothing. It is a great comfort to the people of God that this blessed wind is for them; it can scatter the thickest clouds.
4thly. The wind blows powerfully and irresistibly. There is no stopping it. It blows when, and where, and how it listeth, for anything that man can do. None but he who has created the winds, and gathered them in his fist, can rule them at pleasure; and when he lets them loose, and gives them a command, they carry all before them, throw down houses, pluck up trees by the roots, and tears the rocks in pieces, for which reason the Spirit of God is compared to a mighty rushing wind, (Acts 2:2) which filled the house in which the disciples met on the day of Pentecost, and filled them with extraordinary gifts. The Spirit of God in his mighty operations of grace upon a sinner's heart carries all before him; there is no withstanding his grace and power. He throws down Satan's strongholds, and demolishes the fortifications of sin; he roots up the sinner's righteousness, like trees which have been rooted in nature's soil; he sweeps away the fleshly and carnal religion of the formalist, and all false confidence, carnal security, and hypocritical hope. All refuge of lies are by him blown away, and the whole force of hell, and the corruptions of the human heart are not a match for him, for when he works none can let. He has conquered the hearts of the vilest and most notorious sinners, such as a Manasseh, a Mary Magdalene, and a Saul. Be assured there is no resisting his grace and the power of it, nor holding of his mighty arm!
There is something very wonderful and mysterious in the blowing of winds. There is scarcely any country but has some wind peculiar to it, and which exercises a force not experienced in other countries. So it is with the Spirit of God. He exercises his power in the hearts of the elect in a particular manner, which he does not in the heart of the reprobate, except to wound their consciences, by letting down his wrath, as in the case of Cain, Judas, and Francis Spira. The same wind brings fair weather to one country, and to another rain. The Spirit of God brings the gospel into one gracious heart, producing tranquility, and the law into another, producing storms in the soul, to cause it to flee to the God-man, who is a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (Isa. 32:2)
How glad is the living soul to find Christ for a refuge. Sinai is no hiding place. But the Spirit leads to Christ for strength and riches, and protection, who is willing to receive and to become a strength to the poor and needy in their distress--a refuge from the storm and a shadow from the heat. (Isa. 25:4) The same wind brings health to one place, and sickness to another; so the Spirit of God brings health and strength to one soul by strengthening it with might in the inner man, while to another he brings sickness, wounding it and making it feel the disease of sin. It is a curious fact that in some parts of the world the wind blows constantly one way, whilst in most places it is continually changing and veering about. It is thus with the Holy Spirit; some of the family of heaven are favored with his gracious presence and holy influence, his divine teachings and holy anointings, his comforts and consolations, establishing and strengthening them in their most holy faith, and the truth as it is in Jesus, while other gracious souls only find him as a stranger who tarries for a night! He comes to them sometimes in a sermon, at another time in private prayer or in reading the word, and then withdraws himself, as Christ did, from the church, (Songs 5:5,6) and are like a reed shaken by every wind. But it is the Lord's doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes!
It is also a curious fact often verified in countries where violent hurricanes prevail, that the wind, blowing furiously from a given quarter, almost instantaneously changes round to the opposite point. So we read that Daniel saw in a vision the four winds striving together upon the sea, all the winds were let loose together contending as it were for victory. So the Spirit of God may be said to blow from opposite quarters at the same time.
We read of the seven Spirits of God. (Rev. 1:4) Not that there are so many distinct spirits personally existing, but by them are intended the variety and perfection of the gifts of the Holy Spirit of God. So to some he makes the Gospel a savour of life unto life, and to others it becomes a savour of death unto death; (2 Cor. 2:16) to some he is like the south wind for comfort, to others the east wind blasting all their fleshly religion, sending a blight upon their natural enjoyments, taking away their natural gifts, and leaving them to the deceitfulness of their own hearts in a way of judicial judgment.
The Spirit of God in his operations is also compared to fire, (Acts 2:3; Matt. 3:1) which denotes the resistless character of his divine energy. He penetrates into the very vitals of the soul, he is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing 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. (Heb. 4:12,13) He is the searcher of the hearts of men, and brings to light the things that lie hid there. He, as a fire, consumes all that the wind has thrown down. Now from the Spirit of God being compared to water, wind, and fire, we conclude that he is able to conquer and triumph over all the enemies of his people whether within or without.