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should let my corruptions go?" yet, to a regenerate man, (to such our Apostle writes,) it is that irresistible force, whereof Nahum speaks, that rends the very rocks before it ; Nahum i. 6.
And, indeed, an ingenuous spirit is more moved with this, than with all outward violence. The law of Christ both constrains and restrains him; constrains him to all good actions, and restrains him from all evil.
The good Patriarch Joseph, when his wanton mistress solicited him to her wicked lust, Behold, saith he, my master hath committed all that he hath to my hand: there is none greater in his house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me, but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Gen. xxxix. 8, 9. Wherein, ye see, he hath a double antidote for her poisonous suggestion: the one, his master's favour and trust, which he may not violate; the other, the offence of his God. Joseph knew he could not do this wickedness, but he must bring plagues enough upon his head: but that is not the thing he stands upon so much, as the sin against God.
A Pilate will do any thing rather than offend a Cæsar. That word; Thou art not Cesar's friend, if thou let him go; John xix. 12; strikes the matter dead.
66 Thou art not God's friend if thou entertain these sins," cannot but be prevalent with a good heart, and bear him out against all temptations. And this is the force of our Apostle's inference here; who, after the enumeration of that black catalogue of sins, both of the whole man and especially those of the tongue, infers, And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption.
The Text, you see, is a dehortatory charge to avoid the offence of God. Wherein we have the Act; and the Subject: the ACT, grieve not : the SUBJECT; set forth by his Title, by his Merit; his Title, The Holy Spirit of God; his Merit, and our Obligation thence arising, By whom ye are sealed to the day of redemption.
1. The SUBJECT is first considerable, both in nature and act: as that, the knowledge and respect whereof doth both most dissuade us from the offence, and aggravate it when it is committed, The Holy Spirit of God: which when we have shortly meditated on apart, we shall join together by the Act inhibited in this holy dehortation.
That this is particularly to be taken of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, to whom this day is peculiarly devoted, there cari be no doubt. For, both the Title is his, The Holy Spirit of God: not, absolutely, God, who is a holy spirit; but, The Holy Spirit of God: And the Effect attributed to him is no less proper to him ; for, as the contriving of our Redemption is ascribed to the Father, the atchieving of it to the Son, so the sealing confirming and applying of it to the Holy Ghost. There are many spirits; and those holy; and those of God, as their Creator and Owner: as the in numerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; Heb. xii. 22, 23: but this is set forth, as Zanchius notes well, with a double article, Tò IlveŪuce tÒ öylov, that Holy Spirit, by a transcendent eminence; by a singularity, as that, which is alone, The Holy Spirit of God.
Now, why the Third Person should specially be denominated a Spirit, a title no less belonging to the Father and the Son, to the whole absolute Deity, as being rather essential than personal; or, why a Holy spirit, since holiness is as truly essential to the other Persons also, as their very being; or, why, being coequal and coessential with God the Father and the Son, he should be called the Spirit of God: though they might seem points incident into the day; yet, because they are catechetical heads, I hold it not so fit to dwell in them, at this time.
Only, by the way, give me leave to say, that it had been happy, both for the Church of England in general, and this Diocese in particular, that these Catechetical Sermons had been more frequent than they have been; as those, which are most useful and necessary for the grounding of God's people in the principles of saving doctrine: and I should earnestly exhort those of my Brethren of the Ministry, that hear me this day, that they would, in these perilous and distractive times, bend their labours this way; as that, which may be most effectual for the settling of the souls of their hearers in the grounds of true religion, that they may not be carried about with every τoind of doctrine, εν τη κυβεία των ανθρώπων, m the cockboat of men's fancies; as the Apostle speaks. But this by the way.
I shall now only urge so much of the Person, as may add weight to the dehortation from the act, Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God: and every notion of it adds a several weight; as a Spirit; as the Spirit of God; as the Holy Spirit of God.
It is a rule not capable of contradiction, That, by how much more excellent the Person, so much more heinous is the offence done to him: as to offend an officer, is, in the eye of the law, more than to offend a private subject; a magistrate, more than an inferior officer; a peer, more than a magistrate, for that is Scandalumu Magnatum ; a prince, more than a peer; a monarch, more than a prince.
Now, in very nature, a spirit is more excellent than a body. I could send you higher, but, if we do but look into our own breasts, we shall find the difference. There is a spirit in man ; saith Elihu; Job xxxii. 8. The spirit of man is as the candle of the Lord; saith wise Solomon; Prov. xs. 27: without which, the whole house is all dark and confused. Now, what comparison is there betwixt the soul, which is a spirit; and the body, which is Resh? Even this, which wise Solomon instanceth in, may serve for all, The spirit of a man sustains his infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear? Lo, the body helps to breed infirmities, and the spirit bears them out. To which add, the body, without the spirit, is dead; the spirit, without the body, lives more. It is a sad word of David, VOL. V.
when he complains, My bones are vcxed; Psalm vi. 2: and cleate to my skin; Psalm cii. 5: yet all this is tolerable, in respect of that, Ny spirit faileth me; My spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate'; Psalın cxliii. 4. They were sore strokes, that fetched blood of our Blessed Saviour: but they were nothing to these inward torments, that wrung from him the bloody sweat in his Agony; when he said, My soul is nepínuzós, hear y unio the death. Could we conceive that the boly could be capable of pain without the spirit, (as indeed it is not, since the body feels only by the spirit,) that pain were painless: but, this we are sure of, that the spirit feels more exquisite pain without the body in the state of separation from it, than it could feel in the former conjunction with it; and the wrong, that is done to the soul, is more heinous, than that, which can be inflicted on the body.
By how much, then, more pure, simple, perfect, excellent the Spirit is, whom we offend; by so much more grierous is the offence.
To offend the spirit of any Good Man, one of Christ's little ones, is so heinous, that it were better for a man to have a millstone hanged about his neck, and to be cast into the bottom of the sea; Niaith. xviij. 6.
To offend an Angel, which is a higher degree of spirituality, is more than to rex the spirit of the best man: Suffor not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say before the Angel, that it was an error; Eccl. v. 6. Hence St. Paul heightens his adjuration to Timothy, I charge thee before the Elect Angels; 1 Tim. v. 21: and, giving order for the decent demeanor of the Corinthian women in the congregation, requires, That they should have power on their head, because of the Angels; 1 Cor. xi. 10.
To offend therefore the God of Spirits, the Father of these Spiritual Lights, must needs be an infinite aggravation of the sin: even so much more, as He is above those his best creatures. And there cannot be so much distance, betwixt the poorest worm that crawls on the earth and the most glorious archangel of heaven; as there is, betwixt him and his Creator. One would think noit, there could be no step higher than this. Yet there is. Our Saviour hath so taught us to distinguish of sins, that he tells us, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgien; Matth. xii. 31: and Mark iji. 29.
Not that we can sin against one Person, and not offend another; for their essence is but one: but this sin is singled out, for a special obstruction of forgiveness, for that it is done against the illumination and influence of that grace, whereof the Holy Ghost is the immediate giver and worker in the soul, who is therefore called the Spirit of Grace. Hereupon is Stephen's challenge to the still-necked Jews; Acts vii. 51. Ye do alreays resist the Iloly Ghost: and Peter's charge to Ananias, Why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? Acts v. 3.
Ye see, then, how this charge riseth, and what force is put into it, by the condition of the Person: a Spirit; the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit of God: enough to make way for the consideration of II. The ACT inhibited: Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.
How incompatible are the terms of this charge! That, which makes the sin (as it is set forth) more sinful, may seem to make it impossible. If a Spirit, how is it capable of passion? and, if it be impassible, how can it be grieved? Alas, we weak mortals are subject to be hurried about with every blast of passion. The Almighty is above all the reach of these unquiet perturbations. Lo, that God, which mercifully condescended, because his infinite glory transcends our weakness, to speak unto us men, by man, and by angels in the form of men, speaks to us men in the style and language of men.
Two ways, then, may the Spirit of God be said to be grieved; in Himself; in his Saints: in Himself, by an Anthropopathy, as we call it; in his Saints, by a Sympathy.
1. The FORMER is by way of allusion to human passion and carriage. So doth the Spirit of God, upon occasion of men's sins, as we do, when we are grieved with some great wrong or unkindness.
And what do we then? First, we conceive a high dislike of, and displeasure at, the act: Secondly, we withdraw our countenance and favour from the offender: Thirdly, we inflict some punishment upon the offence. And these are, all of them, dreadful expressions of the grieving of God's Spirit; even these three, Displeasure, Aversion, Punishment.
(1.) For the First, Isaiah expresseth it by Vexation; Isaiah lxiii. 10. A place so much more worthy of observation, for that some judicious interpreters, as Reverend Calvin, Zanchius, Pagnine, and Cornelius à Lapide think, very probably, that this text is borrowed from thence
והמה מרו ועצבו את רוח קדשו
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Surely, we do not think it safe, to irritate the great: and, if it be but a man a little bigger than ourselves, we are ready to deprecate his displeasure; but, if it be a man, that is both great and dear to us, with whom we are fallen out, how unquiet are we, if we have any good nature in us, till we have recovered his lost
Do ye not see, with what importunity good David seeks to appease the wrath of his incensed father-in-law; none of the best men, and causelessly provoked? Let my Lord the King hear the words of his servant: If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering; but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord.
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