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LIFE of the world: ver. 51. Through faith in a crucified Redeemer, the true Christian lives for ever, and lives now; for while the gift of eternal happiness is laid up for him in the world to come, he is, even in this world, quickened by the Spirit, from his death in trespasses and sins; and his spiritual life here, is the natural and indispensable fountain of his everlasting life hereafter. The apostle John makes mention of believers, as of persons who are already "passed from death unto life;" (1 John iii, 14;) and that the spiritual life of the soul, as well as the happy eternity of which it is the spring, was truly, on this occasion, the subject of our Lord's discourse, we may learn from the explanatory declaration with which he was pleased to follow up his doctrine-"It is the Spirit that quickeneth (or maketh alive*): the flesh profiteth nothing:"
The doctrine which Jesus himself was thus engaged in promulgating a doctrine which was indeed the frequent topic of his preaching (comp. John iv, 14; v, 24. 26. 40; x, 10; xi, 25)-is admirably elucidated in the following passage of the epistle of Paul to the Romans: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit :" viii, 1—4. And again, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead, because of sin; but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness:" ver. 10: comp. Gal. iii, 13, 14.
What then, is the truth which is taught us in these passages of Scripture? It is I apprehend, plainly this-that the incarnation, humiliation, and death, of Jesus Christ, who gave his "flesh" (that is his body on the cross) "for the life of the world," were the means ordained of the Father, in his own infinite love and wisdom, not only for our indemnity, but for our cure-not only for the purging away of our guilt, and the removal of our punishment, but for our restoration to the enjoyment of that divine influence by which alone we live unto God, and are enabled to walk before him " in all holy conversation and godliness." The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, may be regarded as a price paid, in pursu
* τὸ ζωοποιοῦν·
ance of the counsels of the Father, not only for the redemption of sinners, but for the outpouring of the Spirit on the church universal. It was the crucified and risen Emanuel who, when "he ascended up on high, led captivity captive," and "received gifts for men:" Ps. lxviii, 18 comp. Eph. iv, 8. Such was the doctrine delivered by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost, which was distinguished by so abundant an effusion of the Holy Ghost. After adverting to the crucifixion of our Lord, he added, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses: therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear:" Acts ii, 32, 33.
The Holy Spirit (as we have already found occasion to remark) is declared in Scripture to be the Spirit of Christ-the Spirit of the Son of God: Rom. viii, 9: Gal. iv, 6, &c. He suffered and died on earth, that he might obtain for mankind this celestial boon; and, having obtained it, he freely dispenses it to his followers, in his own divine authority and power, for their instruction, their consolation, and their sanctification. He sends the Comforter to his disciples to guide them in the way of righteousness, and to teach them the knowledge of his truth: John xv, 26. He baptizes the true believer" with the Holy Ghost and with fire :" Matt. iii, 11. He sits" as a refiner and purifier of silver," that he may "purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver :" Mal. iii, 3. He loved the church," and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the wordthat he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish :" Eph. v, 26, 27. (Christ) "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works :" Tit. ii, 14.
On the whole, then, it is plain and undeniable, that the Spirit of truth and righteousness is bestowed upon mankind, through the sole mediation of Jesus Christ. And, now, in bringing this point of our subject to its conclusion, I would venture to entreat the reader's attention to the close and intimate association subsisting between two great doctrines of Christianity, which may indeed be rightly distinguished, but can never be rightly separated-justification through the blood of Christ, and sanctification through his Spirit. In Scripture, these doctrines are very generally treated of conjointly. Both are represented, by the sacred writers, as essential to the work
of salvation: both as originating in the boundless mercy of the Father; and both as arising immediately out of the sacrifice of the Son of God. Was Christ "set forth" of the Father to be "a propitiation through faith in his blood?" Did he "bear our sins in his own body on the tree?" Did he thus give himself for us? It was not only for the remission of sins that are past, and for the justification of penitent believers, but also "that he might sanctify and cleanse" his church" that he might redeem us from all iniquity"—that "our conscience" might be purged " from dead works to serve the living God"
"that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness:" Heb. ix, 14: 1 Pet. ii, 24. It is much to be desired that a holy caution should more and more prevail among Christians, lest, by dwelling on either of these doctrines, to the exclusion of the other, they should lose the balance of divine truth; for, although persons who are accustomed to commit this dangerous practical error may participate in some of the joys, and experience some of the virtue, of true religion, they cannot fail to fall very short of a just apprehension and satisfying enjoyment of the beauty, the harmony, and the completeness, of the Gospel dispensation.
Having thus examined the evidences of Scripture respecting the nature and origin of the regenerating principle, and having ascertained the channel through which alone it is derived to mankind, we may now direct our remarks to the Holy Spirit in his divine and personal character, and may proceed briefly to consider the scriptural account of his operations, in furtherance and completion of the glorious plan appointed for our Redemption.
I. Let us, in the first place, consider these operations, as they have relation to the person and offices of the Messiah himself.
It is a doctrine of Scripture, familiar to all who are acquainted with the first elements of Christian truth, that the incarnation of the Son of God was effected through the instrumentality of this divine Agent. "The HOLY GHOST shall come upon thee," said the angel to Mary, "and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God:" Luke i, 35. Again, after the miraculous conception had taken place, the angel said to Joseph, her espoused husband, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the HOLY GHOST:" Matt. i, 20.
Conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of a woman, Jesus Christ, at the very commencement of his ministry, himself re
ceived the Spirit from on high. Immediately after he had submitted to the baptism of John, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God descended "like a dove," and lighted upon him, and a voice was, at the same time, heard from heaven-even the voice of the Father, saying, "This is my be3 loved Son, in whom I am well pleased:" Matt. iii, 16, 17. This wonderful incident in our Lord's history, may serve to elucidate the frequent doctrine of the New Testament, that Jesus was the Christ or the Anointed One of the Father-a doctrine which perfectly coincides with the records of ancient Hebrew prophecy. "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth," &c. xi, 1-4. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me," said the Messiah, by the mouth of the same prophet; "because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;-to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified:" lxi, 1-3: comp. xliii, 1: Dan. ix, 24: Luke iv, 18: Acts x, 38. "He whom God hath sent," said the Baptist of his divine Successor, "speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him:" John iii, 34.
From the passages now cited, we learn that Jesus Christ was, in the most eminent manner, anointed by the Holy Spirit for his work and ministry on earth: and by the same Spirit he was anointed also for that priestly and regal office in which he presides for ever over his church universal. “The kings of the earth set themselves," says the Psalmist, "and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee!" ii, 2-7. Again, in another psalm we read: "Thy
throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest iniquity; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows:" xlv, 6, 7: comp. Heb. i, 5. 8; v, 5.
Now, I conceive, that the immeasurable communications made to Jesus of a spiritual influence, are to be regarded, not merely as divine gifts bestowed on his human nature, but also, as the necessary and practical result of that perfect union of design, of operation, and of essence, which subsists between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Finally, then, it remains for us to observe that as, by these immeasurable communications, the Holy Spirit cooperated with the Messiah in the execution of his offices, as a Prophet, a Priest, and a King, so were they effectual also in promoting the accomplishment of that stupendous act in which the whole dispensation centred. It was 66 ""* THROUGH THE ETERNAL SPIRIT, as we are assured by an apostle, that the INCARNATE SON "OFFERED HIMSELF WITHOUT SPOT TO GOD:" Heb. ix, 14.
II. The Holy Spirit who thus essentially contributed to the redemption of mankind, by effecting the incarnation and assisting the sacrifice of the Messiah, as well as by anointing him for his various mediatorial offices, is also of the Father's unmerited bounty, freely bestowed on the Messiah's "seed”—that is to say, on the true, living, universal, church of Christ. "As for me, this is my covenant with them, (saith Jehovah to his Christ); my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, from henceforth and for ever:" Isa. lix, 21. The promise was not only to the Messiah himself, but to his disciples -and not only to him and his immediate disciples, but (as we have already noticed) to their children, and their children's children to all that are afar off-to as many as the Lord our God shall call Acts ii, 39. What then are declared in Scripture to be the operations of Spirit of Truth in the church of Jesus Christ?
Reason demonstrates that God exists; and his wisdom, his power, and his love, are manifested at once in the works of his creation, and in the order of his providence. But that which alone makes known his attributes to us in the fulness of their
* Heb. ix, 14—διὰ Πνεύματος αἰωνίου. That the Holy Spirit is here expressed by the Greek Пvúμa, can scarcely admit of a rea sonable doubt. The use of the preposition accounts for the omission of the article: see Bishop Middleton Doct. Gr. Art, in loc.