Obrazy na stronie

you therefore propose Christ to your affections, so that your love may be sincere, and not lavished away on a false object, the creature of your own imaginations?-consider what has been said concerning him: -the blessed union of his two natures in the same person, the uncreated glories of his divine nature,—— and the perfection of grace which dwelt in his human nature; and if you can and do delight in him, and love him on these accounts, your love is genuine and spiritual. (2.) We are to know Christ, so as to labour after conformity to him; and this conformity consists in a participation of the graces, whose fulness dwells in him; and we cannot regularly press after this, but by an acquaintance with the work of the Spirit on his human nature; and thus we have given a brief delineation of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in and towards the Person of Christ, the Head of the Church: his preparation of a mystical body for him, in his gracious operations on the elect of God, must be next considered.


The General Work of the Spirit with respect to the Members of that Body whereof Christ is the Head.

We have considered the work of the Spirit in laying the foundation of the New Testament Church, by his dispensations towards Christ, the Head of it. He is the foundation-stone of this building, with seven eyes engraven on him, or filled with an absolute perfection of all the gifts and graces of the Spirit. Zech. iii. 9. The same hand that laid this foundation doth also finish the building. The same Spirit which was given to him, "not by measure," giveth grace to every one of us, "according to the measure of the gift of Christ.' He who prepared, sanctified, and glorified the human nature of the Head of the Church, has undertaken to prepare, sanctify, and glorify his mystical body, or


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

all the elect given to him by the Father. Concerning
which, the following things may be premised:-

1. This work of the Spirit being not an original,
but a perfecting work, it supposes the love, grace, and
eternal purpose of the Father, and the whole mediation
of Jesus Christ; for it is his peculiar work to make
these effectual to the souls of the elect, to the praise of
the glory of the grace of God. In the first creation,
God seemed chiefly to intend to glorify the essential
properties of his nature, his power, goodness, and wis-
dom;-but in the new creation, God intends the spe-
cial revelation of each Person distinctly, in his peculiar
operations; a full discovery of the economy of the Holy
Trinity, with superior light to what was afforded un-
der the Old Testament. We find in the saints of old,
vigorous actings of faith in their approaches to God;
but as to a clear access to the Father, through the
Son, by the Spirit (Eph. ii. 18.) (wherein the life of
our communion with God consists) we hear nothing
of it. Herein, therefore, God plainly declares, That
the foundation of the whole was laid in the counsel of
the Father; the accomplishment of that counsel is by
the mediation of the Son; God intending that all men
should honour him, even as they honour the Father;
and the actual application of all to the souls of men is
by the Spirit, that they may be partakers of the grace
designed in the counsel of the Father, and prepared in
the mediation of the Son; and herein is the Holy
Ghost to be glorified, that he, together with the Fa-
ther and Son, may be known, adored, and worshipped.

2. From the nature and order of this work of God, it is that, after the Son was actually incarnate, and had fulfilled what he had undertaken to do in his own Person, the great promise of finishing the work of salvation concerns the sending the Holy Spirit to perform what he also had undertaken. When our Lord had ascended into Heaven, the apostle Peter tells us, that "being exalted by the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Ghost ;" that is, he received the thing promised. The promise itself was not then first given to him, for he received it in the

[ocr errors]


covenant, when he undertook the redemption of man;
nor did he receive it for himself, for he had the fulness
of the Spirit from his incarnation; but he received the
blessing promised, that he might pour forth his Spirit
on his disciples, as the apostle speaks :-" Having re-
ceived the promise, he hath shed forth this which ye
now see and hear," that is, in his miraculous operations
and effects.

Here lay the foundation of the Christian church. The Lord Christ had called his apostles to the great work of building his church, and propagating his Gospel in the world; for which, in themselves, they were evidently defective in all needful qualifications; but whatever was wanting in wisdom, utterance, or courage, he promised to supply; and this he would do only by the Holy Ghost; on whose assistance the whole success of their ministry depended. Hence, when he was about to leave them after his resurrection, he ordered them to sit still and do nothing in the public work of building his church, till the promise of the Spirit were actually accomplished. "He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father"-" Ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the utmost parts of the earth." Acts i. 4. 8. In this promise he founded the church itself, and by it he builded it up; and this is the hinge on which the whole weight of it turns to this day. Take this away, and there is an end of the church of Christ:-no dispensation of the Spirit, no church. He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word, had as good burn his Bible. The bare letter of the New Testament will no more produce faith and obedience in the souls of men, than the letter of the Old Testament does among the Jews: but, blessed be God, who has knit these things together in the bond of an everlasting covenant! The kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and, in the animating principles of it, invisible. If we fix our minds. only on outward order, we lose the rise and power of the whole. It is not an outward visible ordination by


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

men (though that be necessary also) but Christ's communication of his Spirit that gives being, life, and success to the ministry; and if any are so foolish as to expect assistance in the work without him, or such success in their labours as shall find acceptance with God, they do but deceive their own souls and others. Let men, therefore, cast themselves into what order, or institute what forms of worship they think proper; if the work of the Spirit be disclaimed, there is no church state among them.

3. It is the Holy Spirit who supplies the bodily absence of Christ. Hence some of the ancients call him (Vicarium Christi) the Vicar of Christ; he who represents his Person, and discharges his promised work. When Christ was leaving the world, he commanded his disciples to preach the Gospel and disciple the world; and for their encouragement promised his own presence with them; and that while his Gospel should be preached on the earth:-"Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world," or the consummation of all things; but immediately after he had thus spoken," he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight." Where now is the accomplishment of this promise? or, of that other made to the church itself," Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?" I answer, These promises are perfectly fulfilled by his sending the Holy Spirit; in and by him, he is present with his disciples in their ministry and their assemblies. He so represents the Person, and supplies the bodily absence of Christ, that on his presence the being of the church, the success of the ministry, and the edification of the whole absolutely depend. Now, who that has any affection for Christ, does not think that the bodily presence of Christ would be of unspeakable advantage him?-and so no doubt it would, had any such thing been appointed in the wisdom and love of God; but so it is not; and we are taught to expect more advantage by his spiritual presence with us by the Holy Ghost; it is more expedient for us. It is therefore incumbent on us to enquire what valuation we have

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

hereof, and what benefit we have hereby; for if we do
not really receive grace from this presence of Christ
with us, we have no benefit at all from him; for he is
not with any now, but by his Spirit; and this they will
one day find, whose profession is made up of such a
sottish contradiction, as to avow an esteem of Jesus
Christ, and yet blaspheme his Spirit in all his holy


4. As he represents the person, and supplies the
place of Christ, so he effects whatever Christ under-
took to effect; for as the work of the Son was not his
own, but rather the work of the Father who sent him,
-so the work of the Spirit is not his own, but rather
the work of the Son, by whom he is sent. "When
the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all
truth." John xvi. 13-15. He comes to communicate
truth; not an absolutely new dispensation of truth,
different from what Christ himself had declared, but to
build on the foundation he had laid. By this rule we
may try every spirit whether it be of God.
That spi-
rit which pretends to reveal any thing that is contrary
to, or not consistent with, yea, that is not already re-
vealed in the word; that brings any thing new, his
own, or of himself, that spirit is not of God.
shall not speak of himself,”—not of himself only; he
shall reveal no other truth, communicate no other
grace, but what is in, from, and by Christ. It is add-
ed, "whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak ;"
that is, the whole counsel of the Father and the Son
concerning the salvation of the Church; and he is
said to hear it," not as if he were not a divine Per-
son, equally participant of the counsels of the Father.
and the Son; but the outward act of hearing is men-
tioned as the sign of his infinite knowledge, not the
means of it. His great work is subjoined, "He shall
glorify me ;" and this they are always to remember
who pray for his assistance in their office in the Church:
he is given to them, that they may give glory to Christ;
and the method whereby the Spirit glorifies Christ
is added: "He shall receive of mine, and shew it
unto you." The (TA EMA) things of Christ, are his

« PoprzedniaDalej »