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Ć 834 3.970.10
✓ HARVARD COLLEGE LIORARY
JUL 9 1935
THE obserdalions contained in the following pages are to be met with in a pamphlet lately published, entitled “The Christian Doctrine of the Iloly Spirit, exhibited from the Scriptures, with introductory remarks;" sold by W. Phillips, and Darton and Harvey, London; also by W. Alexander, York. The extracts in the compilation consist of nearly all the material passages in the New Testament, wherein mention is made of the Spirit, either doctrinally or incidentally; without selection further than to avoid unnecessary repetition, and in the order in which they occur. The introductory remarks have been thought so valuable,, as to merit a second publicalion in this form, with the intention that they should thus be more widely circulated. It will afford pleasure to the publishers, if the reading of these arguments should induce a desire to examine the work from which they are extracted.
THE influence of the Spirit of Truth on the
mind, has been maintained by the most eminent and pious persons in all ages, and to it they have attributed their stability and advancement in true religion. This is strong presumptive evidence that it is consistent with the doctrine contained in the Scriptures, but more especially in the New Testament; and ought to render us doubly careful, that we do not reject it without due examination. Notwithstanding, there is a class of persons professing christianity, who consider this gift to have been shed only on the primitive believers, and that any belief in its existence in the present day, is irrational and enthusiastic.
On viewing the objections of those who profess to deny the influence of the Spirit, the following considerations present themselves :-That the effusion of the Holy Spirit was announced by the Prophets wlio foretold the coming of our Lord, and promulgated by his precursor, John,* as a distinguishing circumstance attending the introduction of the gospel ; which shews it to have been an integral part of that dispensation, and that
* Matt. iii, 1, 12. Mark, i. 1-8. John, i. 29-33.
it must therefore continue till the dispensation is abrogated : which cannot in common reason be denied.
That we are supported in this opinion, by a reference to the intention for which this gift was dispensed to mankind; which, it appears by scripture testimony, was for the purpose of assisting man in the work of regeneration ;* and which assistance must be equally necessary now,"as his weakness and liability to sin and transgression remain unchanged.
That, though the effusion of the Spirit upon many of the primitive believers, was attended with extraordinary gifts, to forward the purposes of the Divine will in the establishment of the Gospel, yet it was not universally so; but appeared in the great mass of the early believers, in the same way as it is believed to appear in the present day: not being attended with extraordinary gifts, but producing the effects of righte
That the fruits of the Spirit cannot be different from or contradictory to what is asserted in the Scriptures; and therefore a belief in its influence on the mind, cannot be enthusiastic or irrational, though it may be misunderstood and abused.
A few brief observations on these points may be useful to such readers, as have not been accustomed to consider this subject with reference to the objections stated.
It is undoubtedly the object of true religion to purify the heart and conduct, so as to render us worthy of the divine acceptance, and the enjoyment of a state of bliss hereafter; or in other words, of an admission into the kingdom of heaven; but in order to this, we must in this life
* John iii. 1-8.
have undergone that change of our nature, which will in some degree assimilate us to the divine purity; the necessity of which is fully stated in the Scriptures. In the emphatic language of our Saviour, it is called being born again; and the same purpose is variously named in different parts of the New Testament*. This change, conscious as we must be of sin and imperfection, must be allowed to be fully consistent with our ideas of what is reasonable and correct; but when it assumes the shape of a divine revelation, we are not permitted to doubt of its necessity. The sayings of our Lord, as well as the writings of his Apostles, fully confirm it. In that conversation which he had with Nicodemus, memorable for its deep instruction in religious truth, this change is ascribed to the operation of the Spirit; and, it must be effected by the same means to the end of time; our natural state being the same it has always been.
His discourse with the woman of Samariat points out a living principle, to be given by him, which was to produce eternal life to its possessor: and with this there is a remarkable coincidence, in his declaration on the last great day of the Feast, which the Evangelist expressly declares to allude to the gift of the Spirit, which was to be shed after he was glorified. The parable of the Man and his Friend, is equally clear as to the Divine intention in this respect, and that we ought, moreover, earnestly to desire it. And it may be here asked, as we are by nature so prone to sin, how are we to root out our evil propensities, but by some assistance different in its nature and purpose? What but this must enable us to
* Ephes. iv. 15-30. v. 8-21. John, vii. 37-39.
+ John, iv. 5-26, f Luke, xi. v.13.