The Spirit Withdrawn
“My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” – Gen. 6:3
This Book is the Word of God. “Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” “All Scriptures given of God are profitable for admonition, for exhortation and for instruction in righteousness.” “The entrance of Thy Word,” says the Psalmist, “giveth light.”
At Cornell University they had some plants growing all night long under the electric lights, and they found they grew more rapidly than those that had not the light. If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with Him, and constantly the cleansing of the blood.
In this text we have a record made by the Holy Spirit of a decision in the mind of God, of a conclusion to which God came in His own mind after a survey of the wickedness of men upon the earth.
We have other such records by the Holy Spirit. In the first chapter of Genesis we read: “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the under of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth, and it was so.” These all were the determinations in the mind of God — The records of the Divine fiats of creation. They were not said unto any one.
So our text: “And God said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh, yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Read carefully, (it was not said to Noah). When God talked to Adam, He called unto him and said: “Where art thou.?” And God said unto Noah — after the decision recorded above: “The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood, rooms shalt thou make in the ark and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. and this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above, and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof, with lower, second and third stories shalt thou make it. And behold, I bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh. take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee, and it shall be for food for thee and for them — the cattle, and fowl, and creeping things. Thus did Noah, according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”
This is the record, let us abide by it; not alter it to suit our theories, nor to save our old sermons. God saw the wickedness of men — they were flesh, that is, sensual, carnal; they walked after the flesh and not after the Spirit. “Every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was evil and only evil continually, and it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at the heart, and the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, for it repenteth Me that I have made man. And from that very hour the decision was made man was doomed, the Spirit withdrawn; they were left alone of God and, although it was one hundred and twenty years from the end, yet just as surely as God departed from Saul and answered him not, so surely these men were doomed to eternal death; as certainly damned as if they were in Hell. “They did eat, they drank, they married wives and were given in marriage until the day that Noe entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house. This, from the time that God said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man”.
But some old objector, married to his old teachings, says: “Didn’t Noah preach for one hundred and twenty years?” No, God’s Word does not say so; you read that into the Scriptures but not in them. Do not add to the Word — the Book is closed. He did not preach, because first. God would not command or lead a preacher that belonged to Him to do a useless thing, and it is useless to preach to a generation — or to a Saul — when God has given them up. Again, we are assured that he did not preach because God’s Word says that Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God, and we assert that it is an impossibility for a just and perfect man, who walks with God, to preach for one year to many people and have no converts. The man who excuses a barren, fruitless ministry by the example of Noah preaching one hundred and twenty years and no converts, is perverting the Scriptures and had better go to the altar. A man of God, in the will of God, where God wants him to be, will have converts.
Look at this picture. Duncan Mathewson was a Scotch stone-mason. He worked by the day, received good wages, and laid by money that he might go and preach when and where he was led. God directed him to a certain town, and he obeyed and went, having enough money to pay rent for the hall and board himself for three months. Having secured the hall — no committee to welcome him or to advertise him — he went on the platform and to an empty house said, “Let us sing,” and began singing a soul-stirring hymn. Having had a good time singing, he then said, “Let us pray,” and down on his knees he went and prayed until he had made an end of praying. Then, rising, he announced the hymn and said, “Let us sing,” and sang it through. Then looking squarely down where the congregation should have been, he said; “You will find our text, chapter, verse.” He then began to preach and, as he warmed up, he talked so loud that the boys came in off the street, and, having satisfied their curiosity, they went out and told the people to come hear a crazy man preach, a man preaching to empty benches! He soon had a congregation, and a revival began that ran three months, because he was a man of God, and in the Divine will, and converts were numerous.
Away with those followers of a Noah of their own imaginations, comforted by the thought that their imaginary predecessor preached one hundred and twenty years and never a convert! The Noah of the Bible built an ark during those one hundred and twenty years, according to all that God commanded, so did he.
Why does God withdraw the Spirit from men? Because He is grieved by their wickedness; because their hearts are set on evil; they plan for it, they seek for it, they revel in it, and God leaves them. Because of repeated acts of disobedience. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and, until the time God withdrew His Spirit, and put Noah to ark-building, he had preached the Word and the people scorned it.
God has left men since that time. Read your Bible carefully. Of all the thousands of adults who left Egypt and started for Canaan, only two entered the land — Joshua and Caleb. Why did the others perish? Because “God turned and gave them up.” “The Lord hath departed from me and answereth me not,” said Saul, Israel’s first king — but why? Let Israel’s history tell the story. One act after another, all full of the crowning sin — disobedience.
“Because the sons of Eli have made themselves vile, and he restrained them not, therefore iniquity shall not be purged from the house of Israel forever,” and those sons were doomed; the handwriting was against them.
“Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone.” He has had messengers and prophets and has stoned and killed them, “let him alone.”
“They shall go with their flocks and their herds to seek the Lord, but shall not find Him, for He hath withdrawn Himself from them.”
Listen to the words of Jesus: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and killest them that are sent unto thee, how often would i have gathered thy children, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not; behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” How often God has sent you messages, how often He has drawn you by His Spirit, and ye would not. How often have you responded to the invitation with, “I pray thee have me excused.” Listen! One time He did excuse men — “None of those men which were bidden shall taste of My supper.” God may excuse you.
“He that being often reproved hardeneth his heart, shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy.
“Old Testament and New Testament,” say you? Let me give you some instances from modern times where God has left men to themselves.
“There is a time we know not when,
A place we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men,
For glory or despair.”
Alfred Cookman was the prince of evangelists, a mighty man of God, a preacher of the Word. Lie was preaching in a Methodist Church in New York City, and for several weeks great interest was maintained and many were converted. George Cookman, a brother of Alfred, was living in the city, but had not attended the meeting. Alfred requested the saints to pray while he went and invited George to come to the last meeting. His promise was given, and that night Alfred preached as he seldom had before. Under the influence of the truth a woman, in agony of soul, screamed out at the top of her voice. Alfred stopped and said, “I would give the world, did I but own it, to hear my brother George cry out like that.” George was in the gallery listening, though the speaker knew it not. He started to leave the house, but retraced his steps, came back, went to the altar and was saved. A few years afterward Alfred Cookman was called to visit a dying woman. He entered her room and, as he stood by her bedside, she asked him, “Mr. Cookman, do you not know me?” “I do not. madam.” “Do you remember preaching in Methodist Church one night some years ago, and a woman screaming out under awful conviction. and you said, ‘I would give the world, if I owned it. to hear my brother George cry out like that’?” “Yes, I remember that.” “Well, Mr. Cookman, I am that woman. I resisted the Holy Spirit that night and He left me forever, and tonight I am nearing eternity, a lost woman.” The Spirit will not always strive. She said “No” once too often.
A gentleman was a liberal giver to the Church, helped in every way that money would help; but was unsaved. The minister was attracted to him, and determined to make an effort to win him for Christ. He approached him on the subject of personal salvation, and was told, “It is no use. I help you and I help the Church for the sake of the young. Go after them. Years ago I was strongly convicted of sin. I resisted the Holy Spirit, and He left me. I am as surely damned as if I was in Hell. I shall die just as I am living, without any hope.” And so it proved. He continued to help the Church for the sake of the young, lived without any hope, or any fear, and died — given up of God, convinced all through these years that he was forsaken of the Spirit because of his persistent resistance. Not an Old Testament story; not a New Testament incident; but under the dispensation of the Holy Ghost.
My phone rang just a few months ago, and a voice said, “Mr. Kulp, would you go pray with a bad woman?” “To be sure I would.” “Would you go pray with a very bad woman?” “Yes.” “But this is the madam of a bad house.” “I will go.” Wife and I went. We entered a room and saw a dying woman upon the bed. She was aroused and informed the preacher had come. She was asked if she would have me pray for her. “Yes, yes.” I knelt in prayer and tried to pray, but there was no ear inclined to hear — the heavens seemed as brass. I rose from my knees. My wife approached the side of the bed and leaning over towards the one so near eternity, with tears in her eyes, and full of sympathy, said: “Sister, did you ever hear tell of Jesus?” “Yes, oh, yes.” But that was years ago. The door had been opened, the Spirit plead, Jesus invited, but she said “no” and He left her, never to return. “Oh,” said she, “this is awful. This is the hottest place I ever was in; God won’t hear me; they won’t have me,” and tearing her hair and screaming in her agony of evil, she died — no hope here, and none for the hereafter. God left her. Four hundred dollars were found in her trunk; but money will not buy salvation, nor prepare one for eternity. It bought a grave, a funeral casket, a preacher who refused to attend unless he was paid five dollars, but it could buy no entrance to Heaven, no happiness hereafter.
The man who tells God to “Go,” may awake up to find Mini gone. The soul that prays, “Have me excused,” may be excused, and may hear God say, “None of them that were bidden, and refused, shall taste of the feast.”
Aaron Burr, when nineteen years of age, attended school at Princeton. Dr. Witherspoon was president. There was a revival of intense power, and many students were under conviction, among them young Burr. A godly teacher in the college was interested in him and besought him to give himself to God. He replied, “I am going home for two weeks, and when I return I will settle the matter and give you my answer. In the meantime a very conservative man, lending himself to the devil, said to Burr: “This is all excitement.” In two weeks Burr returned to the school, and his friend again besought him to give himself to God. He replied: “I have settled it. I have told Jesus Christ if He would leave me alone, I would leave Him alone.” The years rolled on, and Burr went into politics, came within one vote of being elected President of the United States, betrayed his Country, went to Europe, lived a licentious life, afterward returned to this country and was supported by the bounty of a wealthy French widow who was fascinated by his genius. He became acquainted with an Englishman, a local preacher in the Methodist Church, who, like Burr, was an agreeable and brilliant conversationalist. One day the local preacher said, “Mr. Burr, I have a friend I would like to introduce you to,” and Burr, in his courtly manner, said, “Sir, if he is anything like you, I would be pleased to meet him.” “Would you? I am glad. My Friend is Jesus Christ.” Burr’s face turned an ashen color, and his eyes grew dark, as he said, “I settled that sixty-four years ago. I told Jesus Christ if He would leave me alone, I would leave Him alone, AND HE HAS never troubled me since.”
God will take a sinner at his word. If you “walk contrary to Him He will walk contrary to you.” “If you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” “Because I have called, and ye have refused, I stretched out My hands and no man regarded, therefore I will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your fear cometh, when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then they shall call upon Me, but they shall not find Me. The turning away of the simple shall slay them; the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.”
“Oh, but,” says one, “I do not believe that. I take no stock in any such thing, old wives’ fables, priestcraft; I am an infidel.” Are you, indeed? Do you know the best that infidelity can write on a tombstone? Let me tell you.
A few years ago I went to Trenton, New Jersey. My father was ill. After watching by his side previous to his departure, I walked out and wended my way to Riverview Cemetery. Here I enjoyed, as I never had before, walking among the narrow resting-places of the clay of the sainted dead, and reading the inscriptions on the tombstones and monuments. Many of the old-fashioned Methodists of old Greene Street Church, (where my father and mother had been converted under the labors of the now sainted Charles Pitman,) rested here. My heart was thrilled, my soul mounted up as I read. Here was one — “In hopes of a part in the first resurrection.” Another: “I shall rise again.” And still another: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me; Let me hide myself in thee.” But further on, along the low stone wall around one grave I read these words: “Until the day break and the shadows flee away,” and I said, “Thank God, there is a daybreak, the dawning of an eternal day.” Soon I came to a monument erected above the grave of an infidel. I paused, and read carefully. I wanted to make sure, to see the best that infidelity could do for one of its devotees. Here laid the clay of one who doubtless would have his “unfaith” displayed above his grave. On the brown stone shaft were these words: “Thou Holy Apostle Thomas Paine. In the year of the Republic ” [No year of our Lord for him — he had no Lord.] Then across the base just one word — the best infidelity could produce for a graveyard — and that was: “Nevermore.” Aye, nevermore! Poe’s “raven of despair” croaked as good as that “nevermore,” and infidelity, robing a soul in the blackness of eternal despair, croaks, like the foul spawn of Hell that it is, just one word — “Nevermore.”
My God, keep me in the faith of my fathers! ‘They cried, “The hour of my departure is at hand. I have fought the fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course. Henceforth — in contrast this with the nevermore of infidelity — there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also which love His appearing.”
Is this what you want in your dying hour? Would you launch out toward the eternal shore like the infidel — no Lord, no hope, no faith in the future? Rejecting the Word of God will put you there. “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” He is patient, He is gentle; but you can grieve Him; and you can, by grieving Him by your repeated rejections, come to the place where, like Saul of Israel, you will be constrained to say, “The Lord hath departed from me, and answereth me not.” NOW yield yourself unto God. NOW repent of your sins. NOW confess. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Call upon Him WHILE HE Is NEAR.” “Seek Him WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND.”