« PoprzedniaDalej »
The coming of Christ in the flesh, was the great promise of the Old Testament; but he was so to come, as to put an end to that whole church-state, wherein his coming was expected; but this promise of the Spirit was to be the foundation of another church-state, and the means of its continuance. If, therefore, we have any interest in the Gospel itself, let us attend to these things.
2. The ministry of the Gospel, whereby we are begotten again, is, from his promised presence with it and work in it, called the Ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor. iii. 6.) in opposition to "the ministration of the law;" in which, however, there was a multitude of ordinances of worship and glorious ceremonies; and he who knows no more of the Ministry of the Gospel than what consists in an attendance to the letter of institutions, knows nothing of it. Not that there is any extraordinary inspiration now pretended to by us,but there is that presence of the Spirit of God with the ministry of the Gospel, in his assistance, communication of gifts and abilities, guidance, and direction, without which it is useless and unprofitable.
3. The promise and gift of the Spirit, under the Gospel, is not granted to any peculiar sort of persons, but to all believers, as their conditions and occasions require. The Papists would confine this promise to their Pope and Councils; but it is the common concern of all believers in their places and stations; of all churches in their order; and of all ministers in their office. It is true that his extraordinary effects, which were necessary for laying the foundation of the church, have ceased; but the whole work of his grace is no less carried on at this day than it was on the day of Pentecost; and so is his communication of gifts for the edification of the church. Eph. iv. 10, &c. The owning therefore of the work of the Spirit, is the principal part of that profession to which all believers are called.
4. We are taught to pray that God would give us his Holy Spirit, that through his assistance we may live to God. Our Saviour enjoins an importunity in
our supplications for him, and gives us encouragement that we shall succeed: "Your heavenly Father shall give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him." Luke xi. 9, &c. He, therefore, is the great subject-matter of our prayers; and that signal promise of our Lord, that he would send him as a Comforter to abide with us for ever, is a directory for the prayers of the church in all ages. Nor is there any church in the world fallen under such a total degeneracy, but that in their public offices there are testimonies of their ancient faith and practice, in praying for the Spirit.
5. What was before mentioned must be repeated here, namely, the solemn promise of Jesus Christ just before he left this world; and as he therein confirmed his Testament, he bequeathed his Spirit as his great legacy to his disciples. And this was the great pledge of their future inheritance, which they were to live on in this world. How would some rejoice if they could possess the relic of any thing that belonged to our Saviour, though of no real advantage to them! How many, called Christians, boast of some pretended pieces of his cross! Love, abused by superstition, lies at the bottom of this vanity; they would embrace any thing left them by their dying Saviour; but he has left no such things, nor did he ever bless and sanctify them to sacred purposes. But this is openly testified in the. Gospel, that when his heart was overflowing with love for his disciples, when he took a prospect of their condition, and temptation in the world, he promises to give them his Spirit to abide with them for ever. According, therefore, to our valuation of him, is our regard to the love and wisdom of our blessed Saviour to be measured. Indeed it is only in his word and Spirit that we can either honour or despise him; in his own person he is infinitely exalted, so that nothing of ours can affect him; but it is in our regard to these that he tries our faith, love, and obedience.
And if we consider this promise of the Spirit as to the ends of it, we shall find that he is promised as the sole cause and author of all the good that we can enjoy in this world; for there is no good communicated
to us, no consolation bestowed upon us, nor any good in us towards God, but what is effectually wrought by him alone.
The great work whereby God designed to glorify himself in this world, was that of the new creation; which must therefore contain the most perfect revelation of himself; for from this manifestation doth the glory of God arise. Hence is the Lord Christ, in his work of mediation, "the image of the invisible God;" "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person;" because in and by him all the glorious properties of the divine nature are displayed, incomparably above what they were in the first creation. Particularly, God has herein revealed himself as Three in One. The glorious mystery of the Holy Trinity is peculiarly displayed in the new creation: not so much by express propositions, as by a declaration of the mutual acts of the divine Persons towards each other, and of their distinct actings towards us. And this, not to fill our minds with notions of God, but to teach us how to place our trust in him, to obey and live to him, and to obtain communion with him, till we come to the enjoyment of him.
In this new creation, three things are proposed to our faith. 1. The supreme design of it, which is absolutely and uniformly assigned to the counsel and grace of the Father. And because the Son undertook to effect what the Father so designed, there were many acts of the Father towards the Son, in sending, giving, appointing him; in preparing him a body, in supporting him, in rewarding, and giving a people to him; which, on account of the authority, love, and wisdom exercised in them, belong to the Father; their actual operation belonging principally to another Person. In these things is the Person of the Father proposed to us to be known and adored.-2. The procuring cause and means of effecting that design are ascribed to the Son; who engages to accomplish in his own Person the whole work appointed for him by the wisdom and counsel of the Father. And in these divine operations is the Person of the Son revealed to us, to be "honoured, even
as we honour the Father." 3. The application of the supreme design, and actual accomplishment of it to make it effectual, is assigned to the Holy Spirit. He performs whatever was to be done in reference to the Person of the Son, or to the sons of men, for the accomplishment of the Father's counsel, and the Son's work, in the special application of both to their proper ends. Hereby he is made known to us, and hereby our faith is directed. And thus in this great work, God causes all his glory to pass before us, that we may know and worship him aright. And what is the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost herein, we shall now declare.
Work of the Holy Spirit with respect to the Human
THE dispensation and work of the Spirit in the New Creation, respect, first, the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ; and, secondly, the Members of his mystical body. We are therefore, in the first place, to enquire, what are those operations of which the Person of Christ in his human nature was the immediate object?
First. The formation and miraculous conception of the body of Christ in the womb of the blessed Virgin, was the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost. With respect indeed to the designation of it, it is ascribed to the Father by Christ himself: "a body hast thou prepared me;" that is, in the eternal counsel and love of the Father. And as to the voluntary assumption of it, it is ascribed to the Son himself, who, because "the children were partakers of flesh and blood, himself also took part of the same." But the divine efficiency in this matter, was the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost. Matt. i. 18. "When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost." (Ver. 20.) "That which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.".
Luke i. 35. "The angel answered and said unto her,
1. That Christ could not on this account, even with