Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

eum dabant * "

sein.com (spiritus fanctus) quibus manus imponebant ; non ipli

There is one thing more concerning these gifts, which very well deserves our notice, namely, that whether they were poured out by God immediately, or imparted by the laying on of the hands of the apostles ; yet they were not all distributed to one, nor were they distributed in such measure as the apostles would, or as the Christians defired to have them; but differing in kind and degree, according to fuch proportion as God saw fit to give to the several members of the church, for the use and service of the whole body t; " for the per-.

fecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edify"ing the body of Christ ; that so speaking the truth in love, they “ might grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even 66 Chrift. From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and

compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the " effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying itself in love I.” Thus St. Paul tells the Corinthians, all had not the word of wisdom, nor all the word of knowledge ; all did not prophefy, nor had all the ability to teach, to exhort, to fing psalms, to pray, to interpret; all were not helps or governments : but “God gave some apostles, fome!

prophets, fome evangelifts, fome pastors and teachers,” according to his own good pleasure ; to Thew, that all these diversities of gifts were not distributed by the will of man, “ but by the fame Spirit,

dividing to every man severally as he will.” So also the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews informs us, that “God.bore witness " to the apostles by signs and wonders, and with divers miracles " and gifts (diftributions, uspio pois) of the Holy Ghost, according “ to his own will $.” Whereby it was still farther proved beyond all exception, that the power was not of man, but of God.

There were foon falle Chrifts. Did Chrift fend forth true apostles and prophets? There foon arose falte prophets and apostles. Did they lay claim to a superiour Spirit? So did the falle apostles too. They, and the Heretics that succeeded thcm, vented strange extravagances about the Spirit, which they pretended to have superiour to the prophets, and very different from one another, as Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Theodoret, and Epiphanius, inform us. Hence come the phrases of " not believing every spirit,". and of “ trying the spirits || ;” and of the Spirit of Christ, and of " antichrift ** : the Spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error ft.'

This is what I have to offer to explain the teaching of the Holy Ghoft. All that I Thall say to explain what I mean by the Holy Ghoft's witnefling, is, that whenever those who were thus ena lightened used the knowledge communicated to them in its various instances and degrees, the Holy Ghost witnessed to the truth of

** Ver. 3 •

* Auguft. de Trin. lib. xv. cap. 26.
1 Eph. iv. 12. 13, 16. s Heb. ii. 4
tt Ver. 6.

4

f. Rom. xii. 16. I Cor. xii. 1 : John iv. s.

Christianity;

Christianity; or gave a proof of the great articles of it, on which all the rest were founded ; namely, “ that Jefus of Nazareth was “ crucified, was rifen, and cxalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to

grant repentance and remiffion of fins : fince he, according to " the predictions of this matter, having received the promise of “ the Father, had fent down these gifts which men faw and. " hcard *.”

But though the principal business of the Spirit's witnessing was to prove the truth of the great facts of the Chriftian religion, yet it was to serve another end also ; namely, to comfort those who had it with the aliurance of God's pardon and acceptance. This feeing to follow from the very nature of the thing; and to be fairly implied in what Peter says to the Jews, Acts ii. (on their being pricked in the heart by his sharp reproof, and by perceiving the great guilt that was upon them, in having " 1lain Jelus of Nazareth, whom God had fo highly approved, crying out, in the ut. most distress, to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?) Repent and be baptized—and ye thall receive the gift of the Holy Ghoit (the pledge of the pardon of this fin, which will draw down God's heavy vengeance on the whole nation, if they do not repent of it); for the promise is to you, &" And, indeed, if this had not been implied in saying, “ Ye “ thall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," it could have given them but little confolation under their distress, how much foever it might have witnessed to the truth of the great facts which the apostles testified. But on their understanding what was to be inferred, in relation to themselves, from their receiving this gift, they

gladly received the word, ver. 41. and eat their meat with glad“ nels, as well as singleness of heart ; praising God," ver. 46, 47.

When the Holy Ghost was given to the Gentiles, it witnessed: the same thing to them. And as there was a greater necessity for the Spirit's witnessing this with respect to them than to the Jews, it is not barely implied, but strongly insisted on, in relation to "them. " Israel was God's fon, his first-born t: to him pertained “ the adoption [.” The Israelites were the fons of Abraham according to the flesh, and to them therefore belonged the covenants and the promises; and of them, “ as concerning the fieth, “ Christ came ; preaching to them, that they should repent and “ believe on him." So that, if they received him, there was no doubt but they would“ become the Sons of God, being born not " of flesh and blood, or of the will of man, but of God 5.” And that consequently they would inherit the spiritual promises, and certainly enter into the rest that remained for the true Ifraelites. But the Gentiles had forsaken their heavenly Father, and left his family; and had spent their portion in riotous living : they were afar off, ftrangers from the covenants of promise, and aliens from the commonwealth of IsraelGod had indeed foretold by the pro• A&s ii. 33. ver. 31, 32.

+ Exod. iv. 22

6. Romi ix. 4. Joba 1,12,13

phets,

phets, that thiey should be called in under the Melliah. But the precise time when, and the manner how they thould be called, was not revealed. Nor was it understood, that they were to be called, into the church without first becoming lews; or that then they were to be admitted to equal privileges with the Jews. They might perhaps have fome doubt of this themselves; and, like the prodigal, have only hopes to be as one of the bird fervants. But whatever they thought, this was one of the most radicated notions of the Jews; who could scarce by any means be brought to think, that the Gentiles were to be received into the family and honíhold of God on any terms whatsoever, and were generally very highly incensed at the very thoughts of it. They counted them all, cveri the devout men among them, unclean ; and not so much as fit to be conversed with * Therefore God found it neceffary, on their first conversion, “ to bear thein witness, by the Holy Ghost, that “ he had purified their hearts by faith t ; which astonished as many " of the circumcision as went with Peter to Cornelius ; who took " it, that the promife of the Spirit was theirs, and their childrens, " and the jews that were afar off; but litle imagined, what they “ now faw, that on the Gentiles also should be poured out the “ gifts of the Holy Ghost. And thus the Spirit witnefied with their spirits, that they also were the chilren of God; and the

spiritual feed of faithíul Abraham ; on whom the great bliling ” of the Spiri: was to come I.” And to it also was among fuchi of the Romans as had it g; and could not but thew the rest who had it not (no apostle having been then among them, that the Gentiles were as capable of receiving it as the Jews, fince great nambers of the Gentiles had received it; and therefore they might aito, especially since he told them, “ that when he should come “ unto them, he should come to them in the fulness of the blei“ fing of the Gospel, and impart some spiritual gift to them, whereby they might be farther established." This was in them the Spirit of 'adoption || ; a full proof that they were fons (since the Spirit was only promised to the seed or children of Israel **, that is, the spiritual feed of Israel ; fuch who like him had power with God, and could prevail; and since they had the Spirit of God their Father, and the Spirit of Christ Jesus his son, their grcať elder Brother); and affured them of the love of God, which was thus “ ihed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost ++." And as it gave them full confidence towards God, enabling them to call him Abba Father f; to it likewise was a full demonftration, that if“ they were fons, they were heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs “ with Jesus Christ. It was in them the carnest of their inheri" tance, until the redemption of the purchaled poffeflion $5;" or, in fewer words, “ the earnest of the Spirit,” as it is called in other places Iii ; and which, for the same reason, under another metaphor, * Acts xi. 3: + lbid. xv. 8, 9.

| Gal. iii. 14.

& Rom. v. 11. 1 Gal. iv. 5-8. ** Isai. xliv, 2, 3.

++ Rom. v. S. 11 Ibid. viii. 15. 99 Eph. i. 14. HI! 2 Cor, i. 22. 1. 5. VOL. IV. Ff

is

is called, “ the seal of the Spirit * ; in whom also, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (the Spirit being the promise of the Father, Isa. xliv. 4. Joel ii. 28. and so called Acts i. 4. ii. 33-39. referring to Luke xxiv. 49. and to John xiv. 26. and xv. 26. where Christ promises the Spirit as the Person that was to supply his absence; as he also does chap. xiv.) ; and ver. 30.“ Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed

unto the day of redemption.” This Thews us the reason why this witness, earnest, and seal of the Spirit, is never used in relation to the Jewish, but always to the Gentile believers, particularly by Paul their great apostle (as appears by the Epistles themselves, in which this witness, earnest, and seal of the Spirit, are mentioned; and the manifest context of those parts of the Epistles where these passages occur); in order to satisfy them, as well as the Jewish believers, in the fullest manner, that they (Gentiles) who were sometimes afar off, were now brought near, and “ were all become “ the children of God in Christ Jesus t,” and admitted to equal privileges with the Jewish believers, without any of the works of the law : which point he labours, and couches under several beautiful metaphors, in several of his Epistles to the Gentile believers.

It is very much to our prefent purpose, and will farther explain and prove what I have said on the witness of the Spirit in the tense I am now considering it, to observe, that as the gifts of the Holy Ghost were only given to true believers, so they might be excited and stirred up, or increased in them; or else Paul's advice to the Ephesians, " to be filled with the Spirit I, and to Timothy, to stir “ up the gift that was in him," would liave been given in vain. The way by which the Ephesians were to be filled with it, St. Paul plainly hints in the verses immediately preceding, was “ to have is no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but to re“ prove them; to be vigilant and circumspect; to redeem the “ time; not to be unwise, but understanding the will of the Lord 1)." And that Timothy might ftir up the gift that was in him, he was to be bold and courageous in preaching the Gospel, notwithstanding the persecutions which attended it ** ; or, as St. Paul says in the parallel place ++ (where he bids Timothy “not neglect the

gitt that was given him”), he was to “ give attendance to read

ing, to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditation ; to give himself “ wholly up to his work, and to take heed to himself, and to his 66 doctrine.” In a word, the way to excite or increase these gifts was to be holy and useful, to employ them faithfully and diligently for the service of the church ; and then to him that had thould * be given.” So Philip and Barnabas, who were full of the Holy Glost, were good men, and full of faith also 11. On the other hand, a man might neglect the Spirit, and grieve it, and at laft entirely quench it. He might neglect the gifts of the Spirit, by not

Eph, i, 13.
+ Gal. iii. 26.

1 Eph. V. 18. 2 Tim. i 11-19.

* ibid. ver. 6. 3. I! Als vi. 3. j. ti, 24.

$ 2 Tim. i. 6. ** i Tim. iv. 14.

[ocr errors]

being eminently holy and useful; by being proud of these gifts, using them for oftentation, and despising others. He might grieve the Spirit by any of the vices which St. Paul dehorts the Ephesians from *; or by any other vices whatsoever ; till at last, by forsaking the way of truth and righteousness, he might entirely relist, do despite to, or quench and extinguish it. I have already observed, that it is highly probable, that the phrase of “not quenching the

Spirit” (Tò a veüp ce lud o bévule) alludes to the cloven tongues as of fire, in which the Holy Ghost descended t; and in which I apprehend it always fell, where it fell without the laying on of hands. I cannot but observe here, that the word we translate “ stir “ up the gift," 2 Tim. i. 6. 8. avaSwarupsiv, has evidently the same allusion, lignifying to ftir or blow up fire, as the other word, reéyvuli, signifies to put it out.

The second thing I undertook, was to shew “ the necessity of “ this teaching and witnessing of the Spirit in the first settlement of the Christian religion.” Now what St. Paul asserts of some of the greateft of these gifts, will be found to be true of all of them, at the first fettlement of Christianity (on a close inspection of them), that they were all very properly and necessarily given “ for “ the perfecting of the faints, for the work of the ministry, for “ the edifying the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity “ of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto á

perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of “ Christ : that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and " fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the

Neight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive : but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into “ him in all things, which is the head, even Chritt ; from whom “ the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that " which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the mealure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unt) " the edifying itself in love," Eph. iv. 12-17. For that St. Paul speaks in this place of the several gifts of the Holy Ghost, and not of the several ministers of the church; or, if you will, not of the officers of the church, but of the gifts that filled them, or fitted and qualified them for their work or office, is plain from tho context; which speaks of gifts from ver. 7; repeats the same thing; ver. 8. 10; where St. Paul also says, that “ he that descended is “ the same also that afcended up far above all heavens, that (there “ receiving the fulness of power) he might fill all things (or all “ his members) with the proper measure of the gift of Chrift. “ And he then gave gifts, which fitted some of thefe members of “ his body to be apostles, fome to be prophets, fome to be evan“ gelifts, and some to be paftors and teachers.” And that these are distinct gifts only, but not distinct officers, is evident from this farther conlideration, that the same persons were sometimes aso

* Eph. iv. 29–32:

. . 2

+ Ads ii. 2.

files,

« PoprzedniaDalej »