« PoprzedniaDalej »
gospel, when they were manifested by visible effects; and consequently that we have no other concern in them but as in a recorded testimony to the truth of the gospel. This is so indeed as to his extraordinary and miraculous operations; but thus to confine his whole work, is plainly to deny the truth of Christ's promises, and to overthrow his church for we shall make it undeniably evident, that none can believe in Christ, or worship God in him, but by the Spirit; and therefore, if his communications cease, so must all faith in Christ, and Christianity too.
The doctrine of the Spirit, and his work on the souls of men, in conviction of sin, in godly sorrow, in regeneration and sanctification, and his assistance in prayer, have been preached in the world. Men have been taught that the great concerns of their peace and comfort depend on his sacred influences. They have been urged to examine themselves as to their personal experience of these things; and they have been solemnly assured, that if there be not an effectual work of the Spirit on their hearts, "they cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Multitudes in every age have received these as sacred truths; and are well persuaded that they have found them realized in their experience: but all these things are now called in question; they are looked upon as irrational and unintelligible notions. Hence it becomes indispensably necessary for us to "search the Scriptures, whether these things be so or not." I know indeed, that most believers are so well satisfied with their truth, that they will not be moved by opposition and scorn; for "he who believes has the witness in himself;" yet it is our duty to be so far affected by clamorous opposition to the truth, as to be excited diligently to examine the Scriptures for further establishment; and upon mature consideration of the whole matter, I shall leave the reader to his option, as Elijah did of old: "If Jehovah be God, serve him; and if Baal be God, let him be worshipped." If the things which the generality of professors believe concerning the Spirit, are revealed in the Scriptures, then let them abide in the holy profession of them, and re
joice in the consolations they afford: but if they are "cunningly-devised fables,"-vain and useless imaginations, then it is high time that the minds of men were disburdened of them.
The Names and Titles of the Holy Spirit.
It will be necessary, before we enter on the work itself, to speak something of the name whereby the Third Person in the Trinity is peculiarly distinguished in the Scripture. This is the SPIRIT, or the HOLY SPIRIT, or the HOLY GHOST, as we usually speak.
It is generally admitted, that the Hebrew and Greek words translated Spirit, signify air in motion, a breeze, breath, wind; that which moves and is not seen. These words are applied in the Old and New Testament to a great variety of purposes, because of some general ideas in which they agree; but there is little difficulty in discovering their true meaning; their design and circumstances, as to the subject treated of, determine the signification. Notwithstanding the ambiguous use of the words, it is sufficiently evident that there is in the Scripture a full and complete revelation of the Spirit of God, as one singular, and every way distinct from every thing else denoted by that name; and that whatever is affirmed of this Holy Spirit, relates either to his Person or operations. Sometimes he is called the Spirit absolutely; sometimes the Holy Spirit; sometimes the Spirit of God; the Good Spirit; the Spirit of Truth; the Spirit of Holiness; and sometimes the Spirit of Christ, or of the Son. The first, absolutely used, denotes his Person; the additions respect his properties and relation to the other Persons.
His name SPIRIT, is intended to signify his Nature or Essence; as he is a pure, spiritual, or immaterial substance. So it is said of God (John iv. 24) "God is a Spirit," he is of a pure, spiritual, immaterial nature; not confined to place, nor regarding one more
than another in his worship; which it is the design of the text to evince. It will perhaps be said, That therefore this name is not peculiar to the Third Person; but contains a description of the Divine Nature abstractedly. I grant, that the name Spirit is not, in the first place, characteristic of the Third Person; but as it is peculiarly and constantly ascribed to Him, it declares his special manner and order of existence; so that wherever the Holy Spirit is mentioned, his relation to the Father and Son is included; for he is the Spirit of God. And herein there is an allusion to the breath of man. Hence our Saviour signified the communication of the Spirit to his disciples by breathing on them. John xx. 22. These allusions indeed are weak and imperfect, wherein substantial things are compared with accidental; infinite with finite; and eternal with temporary; their disagreement is greater than their agreement; yet such allusions our weakness needs, and gains instruction by.
Again. He is called by way of eminence, the HOLY SPIRIT; and he is so called from his sanctifying us, or making us holy. This is his peculiar work; whether it consists in a separation of things, profane and common, to holy uses and services; or whether it be the real infusion of holiness in men. This work proves him to be God; for it is God alone who sanctifies his people; but this is not the whole reason of this appellation. He is called "the Spirit of God's Holiness" (Psalm xli. 11) and absolutely " the Spirit of Holiness" (Rom. i. 4); and this respects his Nature in the first place, and not merely his operations. As God then is described by this glorious property of his nature, as "Holy,―the Holy One, the Holy One of Israel,"— so is the Spirit called Holy, to denote the eternal glorious Holiness of his Nature; and on this account he is opposed to the unclean or unholy spirit. Mark iii. 29, 30. "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness; because they said He hath an unclean spirit." And herein his Personality is asserted; for the unclean spirit is a person; and if the Spirit of God were only a quality or accident, as
some dream, there could be no comparative opposition made between him and the unclean spirit; that is, the Devil. They are also opposed with respect to their natures; his nature is holy, whereas that of the unclean spirit is evil and perverse. The Holy Spirit is so styled also with respect to all his operations; for he being the immediate operator of all divine works, and they being all holy, he is called the Holy Spirit.
Further. He is called the GOOD SPIRIT of God. Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of Uprightness," (Ps. cxliii. 10. Neh. ix. 10.) or rather, "Thy good Spirit shall lead me." He is so called, because his Nature is essentially good; "there is none good but one, that is God," (Matt. xix. 17.); and also, because his operations are all good; and to believers, full of goodness in their effects.
Again. He is commonly called the SPIRIT OF GOD; and the SPIRIT OF THE LORD; so where he is first mentioned (Gen. i. 2.) "The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters. And I doubt not that the name ELOHIM, which includes a plurality in the same nature, is used in the description of the creation, to intimate the distinction of the Divine Persons. Now the Spirit is called "the Spirit of God," principally, as the Son is called "the Son of God;" for as he is so called, on account of his eternal generation, the Spirit is called "the Spirit of God," on account of his eternal procession or emanation. He bears this name also, to distinguish him from all other spirits; and because he is promised, given, and sent of God, for the accomplishment of his will and pleasure towards us.
On the same account, originally, he is called the SPIRIT OF THE SON; and the SPIRIT OF CHRIST: "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts." Gal. iv. 6. "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Rom. viii. 9, 10. The "Spirit of God," then, and "the Spirit of Christ," are one and the same. In the same sense therefore, that he is "the Spirit of God," that is of the Father, he is said to be "the Spi
rit of the Son;" for he proceedeth from the Son also. I confess he is also called "the Spirit of Christ," because promised and sent by him, to make the work of his mediation effectual to his people; but this he could not be, unless he had antecedently been the Spirit of the Son, by his proceeding from him also.-The apostle Peter, speaking of the prophets, says, they searched diligently as to the promises of salvation, afterwards to be fulfilled, "Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify" (1 Pet. i. 10, 11): so then, the Spirit who was in the prophets of old before the incarnation of Christ, is called "the Spirit of Christ." Now this could not be, because he was anointed by that Spirit, or because he gave it afterwards to his disciples; for his human nature (which was afterwards so anointed) did not then exist. The chief and formal reason why the Hol Spirit is called "the Spirit of the Son," and "the Spirit of Christ," is, because of his procession or emanation from his Person also. Without respect to which he could not be properly called the Spirit of Christ but on that supposition, he may be, he is, so denominated. Thus is the Spirit called in the Scripture: these are the names whereby the Essence and Subsistence of the Third Person in the Holy Trinity are declared. What he is called on account of his offices and operations, will be manifested in our progress.
The Divine Nature and Personality of the Holy Spirit, proved and vindicated.
We shall now proceed to the matter principally designed, namely, the Dispensation of the Spirit of God to the Church; and I shall endeavour to fix what I have to offer on its proper principles; and from them to educe the whole doctrine concerning it: and this in such a manner as to shew how much our faith, obedience, and worship, are concerned in every part of