"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you an heart of flesh. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations."
Thus says the Lord through the Prophet Ezekiel (36th chapter 26th and 31st verses) from which we hear that He intends to take away the stony heart out of their flesh and to give them a new spirit, and when they receive this new spirit, they shall remember their own evil ways, they shall loathe themselves for their iniquities. This prophecy was truly fulfilled then, when the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus' disciples. And the same prophesy is still fulfilled now, so that to many a new heart and a new spirit are given and many have also loathed themselves because of their iniquities, but all the hardened have not yet loathed themselves. But they have become angry with the Christians, who do not allow peace of conscience to honorable people. When we hear that the Lord intends to take away the stony heart from their flesh, and to give them a heart of flesh, we surmise that a natural man has a heart of stone, as all awakened have experienced. But a sorrowless person does not know that he has a heart of stone before the Holy Spirit knocks upon it with the hammer of the law. A natural person does not know at all of what substance the heart is made. The heart lays in a sorrowless person's breast as a stone without conscience, he does not feel good nor bad of such which are of the Holy Spirit. But when a sorrow less person awakens, then he begins to feel that he has a stone-hard heart which does not move any more than a stone, before God takes away the stony heart. But when God takes away the stony heart, then he feels, that the heart has changed, although he must often loathe himself because of unbelief. And it is also necessary for a Christian, to whom God has given a new heart, it is necessary for them, that they would remember how they have lived formerly, so that the devil would not take away their sins from their memory. The Lord also says that they must loathe themselves, when they are given a new heart, but the sorrowless and baptised heathens do not loathe themselves but they loathe the Christians. And how could the devil abhor himself, when he has lived so decently, that he needs not ever regret his own deeds. If the devil abhorred himself he would become penitent. God became penitent because of man, it is written, in Genesis, 6th chapter "it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth," when He saw that the imagination of the thoughts of his heart were evil right from his youth. It grieved God that the devil had spoiled His work; but the devil cannot regret what he has done, for the devil has never yet confessed that he has done wrong. And as the devil is innocent of all evil deeds, so also are his children as long as they serve their foster father.
God has namely in the beginning created man as good but the devil spoiled God's work, as some malicious ones spoil the possessions of man and then laugh yet besides, so also the devil has laughed when he was able to deceive man and to cause the parent's heart to be sorrowful. Think of yourselves parents, what harm it does to the parents' heart when one old scoundrel entices his children and steals them from the parent's house and takes them to his own house. There those wretches forget who has given birth to them with great travail, they do not know who their father is, but he they keep as a true father, with whom they are and what he puts them to do, that they do. If he puts them to steal, they do that, if he puts them to drink devil's dung, they do that, if he puts them to commit adultery, they do that, if he puts them to laugh, they do that, how pleasant it is then for the parent when after a long time of searching, he finally finds his child in the devil's house, where they are taught all iniquity! And when the parent with tears begs those wretches that they would leave with their lives and come back to the parent, they then only laugh in the lap of the devil and say to the sorrowful parent, "Ha, come and strike me if you dare. And are you feeding us?" Such is now the condition of the sorrowless. He has been stolen from the heavenly Parent's home when he was so small that he does not remember what kind that Parent is, who has given him birth with great travail. In that way, he does not know who his right father is. He has long since forgotten the Parent's love, and now he must remain in the devil's house, where he is taught all iniquity. Those brothers and sisters who have been brought up in the right Father's house also come, they come to speak to those unfortunate wretches who carouse in the devil's house; those children, I say, who are the servants of the Heavenly Parent come to get the devil's foster children and say, "Dear brothers and sisters, the Parent asks you to come home immediately," but the devil's children answer, "Look at your ass. The Parent has not asked you." Finally the Parent Himself comes into the devil's house and takes some by the hair from the devil's house and the Parent then has a spiritual scourge in His hand with which He whips those ill-behaved ones, who do not stay at home but as soon as the Parent has whipped them and the back is turned, they run back again into the devil's house and there they laugh, grimace and mock the Parent's tears. How many times now must the Parent go and get you before He tires of running after you? Woe, woe to you, you unfortunate wretches who always lie in the lap of the devil and laugh there! How many times have the tears of the Parent been shed for you? How many times have the Parent's servants come to bring you home? And how many times has the Heavenly Parent, Himself, told you to come away from the devil's house, but you have not wanted to? You always lie in the lap of the devil and there laugh at your own misfortune, until the time that your foster father, who has estranged you from your right Father's house, takes and roasts you upon the coals. Such is now the condition of the sorrowless wretches. The devil has squeezed their breasts so much, that they probably will never get a new heart, although the Lord has promised to give them a new heart and a new spirit to those who will receive it. That old, decayed heart is so full of iniquity, that there is not more room for the new spirit. And so they must die eternally with that old heart, namely those unfortunate souls, who have already before hardened, so that the new spirit can no longer find room in their hearts. But those few souls, who have received that new heart and new spirit, to them it has happened according to the prophet's prophecy, when namely God has given them a new spirit, then they have loathed themselves for their iniquities. When namely a person has received a new spirit, he also begins to remember and think of this former life and then he must abhor himself, when he realized what great harm he has committed to his own soul. He knows also that the old foul smelling spirit has come from the old decayed heart which is full of devil's dung and other devilishness, But when a person begins to truly think about his former evil life, then the new spirit is already effecting in him and then he also abhors himself and that devilish spirit, which has come out of his mouth. Then he also feels that he has a heart of stone, but he cannot change that stony heart or take it away before the stony heart becomes broken by the power of the Holy Spirit. But the old stony heart is not so flimsy that it breaks immediately. Sometimes the Holy Spirit can knock upon it for a long time before it finally becomes broken. In many the heart becomes harder and harder the more the Holy Spirit knocks upon it, and finally such people harden, then their hearts become as cold iron in time of frost, when it is pounded with a hammer, the hammer flies back but there is no mark from the hammer. So the Jews hardened, when John the Baptist and after that the Saviour tried to knock upon their hearts. And such a hardening has come upon those also in this time, who have not taken heed of the cry of repentance. Where God's law is rightly preached so that the two-edged sword is put to the breast, there hardening must come to some and to some a powerful awakening. But the promises of God have been fulfilled through the prophets and are fulfilled in every place where the Spirit of God moves. He gives a new heart to all of those, who come to the foot of Jesus' cross through a true penitence and repentance. He takes away the stony heart from their flesh, who through the knocking of the Holy Spirit become humble and broken and reconciled with God. Although some harden through Christianity, as the Lord said to Moses, "I want to harden Pharaoh's heart" and old Simeon, when he took the blessed child in his arms, said also, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be spoken against," and Paul says that the word of the cross is to some a savour of death and to some a savour of life. And this savour of death is that evil spirit which comes from the old heart, which stinks so bad before God that He must flee far away from their company. And although it appears so pitiful that those hardened spirits, who have that old decayed heart and that old foul-smelling spirit, have not yet received a new heart and a new spirit, although the Holy Spirit has labored so long upon them. Nevertheless those who have received a new heart and a new spirit must pray for those souls, who appear to have hardened although the evil spirit and devil's dung smells from their mouths, that the new heart which today for the first time was given to the confessors of Jesus' name and then afterward to others, who confess His name in truth, would be given also to those wretches, who are decaying with an old heart. And that that new spirit, which today for the first time was given to the sorrowful souls and then afterward to others who sigh in the right sorrow of penitence, would be given to those unfortunate souls in whom that old, foul-smelling spirit is yet present. Hear you Spirit of truth and grace, the sighs of all the penitent and graced souls. Our Father, who art in the heavens, etc.
The Gospel John 14:26
The Saviour says in today's Gospel, "But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said onto you." In accordance with this we must by the grace of God observe, How the Holy Spirit teaches Jesus' disciples and reminds them of all that Jesus has said.
But when Jesus has said in the end of this Gospel, "Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me," so we must also take one upbuilding example and take heed of these words, how the prince of this world teaches the children of the world to kill the Saviour and reminds them of all which the devil has spoken before.
Surely both need to be reminded for Jesus' disciples would have long since forgotten Jesus' words if the Holy Spirit would not have reminded them and taught them. For the children of the world remember sooner what they should answer, than the children of God remember what they should speak. And if the devil's disciples would sometimes forget some word, that they sometimes become mute, surely the devil will remind them the next time of how they must oppose. Jesus' disciples often forget what Jesus has spoken of watching, when they must watch in the garden and pray, then sleep wants to come upon them, for the garden is that place where they should watch and observe how the drops of blood drip from the holy body of the Heavenly Parent and how the bloody sweat runs down His face. But in that place they want to become distressed with sleep, there they fight with sleep so much, that they almost forget to watch; for which reason also the devil gets to almost sift their souls as wheat. But the Holy Ghost has reminded them of that great war, in which the Heavenly Parent has then been in, though this matter has always been dim, so that in the conscience of the disciples a reminder has been left of better watching at the foot of the cross. But this beholding of the Saviour in the Garden is not so bright as the beholding of the Saviour on the cross; for in the Garden they were wrestling with sleep, but at the cross they were watching. But surely the slaves of the devil are able to watch better, when sleep tends to come upon Jesus' disciples; then is Judas also vigilant, when he gets to direct the enemy's crowd into the Garden. Judas knows best that place, where Jesus watches with His disciples and surely the devil would remind him if he would have forgotten. Did the devil not remind the high priests how they should guard the grave. They said to Pilate, "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, after three days I will rise again." The devil's disciples had a better memory there than Jesus' disciples, who at that time remembered nothing of the resurrection. But surely afterwards a better memory of everything came to the disciples of Jesus, when the Holy Spirit began to remind them. The Holy Spirit also reminds Jesus' disciples of their sins, for example of Peter's fall, when he denied his Saviour. And they remembered also that sin, when they had said to the Saviour, "Lord wilt thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them." The Holy Spirit also reminded Peter of those first signs of grace, when he wrote to the Christians, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." And how could the evangelists have written Jesus' sermons after so many years, if the Holy Spirit had not reminded them.
That the Holy Spirit also teaches Jesus' disciples, how they must preach the Gospel and what they should answer when they are taken before the law, we hear from the Saviour's works to them that they do not need to worry, what they should answer, for the words will be given them. The Holy Spirit also reminds Jesus' disciples of their mortality. For when the love of the world wants to creep upon them, the Holy Spirit comes and brings to mind, death and eternity, and then for a moment the love of the world leaves. So the Holy Spirit reminds Jesus' disciples of all that Jesus has spoken.
But the spirit of the devil reminds his disciples of all that he has formerly taught them to do. They themselves do not truly remember their wrong-doings but the devil sometimes gets them to relate of their own foolishness, how they at that time and at that time were clever to deceive people, and then they strut with their finery, but the devil does not bring their sins to mind with that intention that they would regret them, but with that mind he brings some of their devilish works to memory so that they could show off with them and others would then laugh. The devil's spirit also teaches his disciples how they must oppose and mock the Christians; and he has especially schooled the heathens how they must torture the Christians, but there the devil, himself, received the greater misfortune, for when some heathens saw how patient the Christians were, and with what boldness they went to death, the heathens themselves were frightened, and many heathens became Christians just through that, that they had seen with what joy a Christian dies. But the slaves of the devil do not always have what they should answer, for they become mute and when they should have argued with Stephen about Christianity, they could not withstand that spirit and that wisdom with which he spoke. But when the slaves of the devil are not able to win an argument, then the devil taught them to take him to court so that he could there get to lie before the authorities, how the Christians speak insolent words against the law and the church. That truly is the best refuge of the devil's apostles, the worldly law, which they twist and turn so that it must fall upon the Christians, although all the sorrowless have transgressed the king's vow, and committed such acts which merit fines and punishment through the authorities, if the Christians would care to take the heathens to court. But the heathens do not become any more humble through that, that they would be punished by the authorities but they harden the more. And let that be upon their accounting, that they hate and persecute the Christians, surely they can once see whom they have pierced, But the Holy Spirit does not therefore cease to rebuke them through the mouths of the Christians, and as long as they travel upon the earth, they must hear of what spirit they are children of, so that in eternity they cannot say, that they were not warned and counseled. What else pertains to the office of the Holy Spirit, you know, that the Holy Spirit has two offices namely, first, it reproves the world because of sin, because of righteousness and because of judgement. But this speech the world cannot stand, because when the Holy Spirit reproves the world because of sin, then the devil rises to oppose and says,"you must not rebuke me, for I will not thereby become any better" and all of the devil's slaves repeat after the devil, "We harden by that severe rebuke." And nevertheless the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Peter came through rebuke, on the same day when Peter had received the Holy Spirit, he began to rebuke that world's throng, which had come to mock the first effects of the Holy Spirit saying, "They are full of new wine." Peter reproached them of being murderers of the Saviour. Why did Peter not speak nicely and properly to them? As the sorrowless say, who counsels properly, him we will listen to, but Peter could not speak properly to the murderers of the Saviour, when that is the office of the Holy Spirit that he must reprove the world because of sin, if they hear or not, who hardens because of reproof, let him harden; whoever is evil, let him be more evil still. But did Peter not win many thousands of souls for the kingdom of Heaven through that first severe sermon, that sermon effected so much, that many became pricked in their hearts and began to ask, "What should we do that we would inherit eternal life?" But not many of the sorrowless throng become pricked now anymore, no doubt the devil has forged breast plates for them who have not awakened, and God has rejected them to judgement of hardening. But we do not need to believe, that there were more awakened ones then in the Apostles' time than here, for there were so many people compared to what are here now, that if for that matter we would calculate how many awakened there were then, then in the highest calculation one in a hundred became a Christian in the Apostles' time. And those awakened souls who became Christians then, they fled away from the whole country, before the destruction of Jerusalem happened. But the Jews of this time do not need to rejoice that at that time not many more became Christians, but rather they should have a greater fear, that it would not go for them like it did for the former Jews, who were slain by their enemies because of their hardening. But surely some of the wise of the world have surmised that the whole doctrine of Christ cannot be right since so few people have become Christians, and also the Christians are of the poorest class of people, some wretched whore, some rag drunkard, some tramp from that poorest crowd has become a Christian, but none of the lords, none of the wise of the world, nor have hardly any of the meek people become Christians in the Apostles' time. From that many of the wise of the world have concluded that the whole doctrine of Christ is false and that the world would have got along so much better if that foolish doctrine had not come into the world. And most certainly the devil's kingdom would have better remained in power, if that foolish doctrine had not come from Galilee, so until now. And also the heathens of this time take great testimony of that, that few have become Christians and still fewer are able to remain steadfast. From that can be seen, what a narrow place that strait gate is and with what great fear and trembling those few souls must travel on the road of life, who have found it, for the devil has not slept, nor is he very sweet to those, who endeavor to lessen his kingdom, he has showed his teeth to everyone who does not give him peace of conscience and if this awakening would have happened elsewhere, where there were many high priests and lords of the world, surely the devil would have drowned the Christians long ago.
But the Holy Spirit also has another office, for which reason He is called the Comforters He comforts the sorrowful disciples when they are hated and persecuted by the world. When the devil attacks them like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, when the devil of selfrighteousness attacks their faith and wants to press their souls away from the cross of Jesus, then the Holy Spirit comforts the penitent and sorrowful and those who wrestle with doubts, as Jesus has said in today's Gospel, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away and come again onto you." Hear now this word, you sorrowful and penitent, if Jesus sometimes goes away, He has promised to come again. Many times it happens so to one sorrowful disciple of Jesus, that Jesus goes away for a little while, that he covers the grace of His face, that a Christian does not always feel Jesus' gracious presence, and then the devil also attacks a Christian with terrible temptations and the devil of self-righteousness wants to destroy his faith. But Jesus has intended to come back to comfort the sorrowful disciples and He then again leaves them His peace which wins over the temptations of the world. And I know that the true disciples have received this peace. But the devil does not allow them to enjoy this peace but he attacks them terribly and wants to take away that peace which Jesus has given them. Then the Comforter the Holy Spirit comes and reminds them of all which Jesus has told them of the kingdom of Heaven, which the eye has not seen, nor the ear ever heard, nor has it entered into the heart of any one except those who feel a foretaste of the kingdom of Heaven. Now since the world is so horrible and the devil so terrible, the flesh so weak and death so near, we should pray to that great Crossbearer who has suffered and died, that He would give us the Holy Spirit so that we would be able to strive in that great war and striving, that we would be able to bear to the mercy seat when death presses us much, and that that gracious Lord Jesus, who with His own blood has fought and won over the world, would give strength and power to war and strive in our most precious faith and to win over the devil and the world that we could finally get to sing the hymn of victory won. Amen.