« PrécédentContinuer »
V.12 . 1835-1836
Art. I. The Love of the Holy Spirit, displayed in our Salvation. “When the Spirit is come, he shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." - John xvi. 13, 16.
Divine love, displayed in our salvation, is such a sublime, extensive, and delightful subject, that it can never be exhausted. To those in whose hearts it is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit, it is like ointment poured forth, whose savor is always sweet and pleasant. This love cannot be contemplated all at once we must take it by parts. As we proceed in searching the scriptures, one field of love appears successively after another. In every one we may wander at large, with distinguished pleasure, and at last sit down with delicious wonder. How great is his goodness—how great is his beauty! All the persons in the Godhead, distinctly and jointly, display this love. We have contemplated the love of the Father, and of the Son, and now proceed to contemplate the love of the Holy Spirit, displayed in our salvation. His love is as important as that of the Father and the Son. He inspired the prophets, qualified the Saviour, concurred with him in all the branches of his wonderful undertaking, and applies to his people the great salvation : as Christ him. self saith, " When the Spirit is come, he shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” It does not mean that he shall confer any glory upon Christ; but he shall manifest, open out, and declare his glory: the glory of his person, as Emmanuel; of his character, as Mediator; and the fulness of his grace and salvation, as will appear when we get more fully into our subject. But, alas! it has been, and is at present, greatly corrupted.
The opposition to the whole doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit and his operations, has been managed by different persons in various ways.Some confess his personality, but deny his divinity ; others deny both. The ancient Arians confessed that he was a divine person, but affirmed that he was produced or created by the Father and the Son. Thus they denied his Supreme Deity: The Mahometans acknowledge bis personality, but affirm that he is the highest of all created spirits, and that he is called the Holy Spirit, on account of the work to which he is appointed, i. e. to sanctify the church. This notion they learned from the Macedonian heretics.
The Quakers reject the whole doctrine concerning the personality, divinity, gracious and powerful operations of the Holy Spirit, and pretend to be enlightened and directed by a spirit within them, according to whose fruits they expect pardon and salvation; and thus they coincide with soine of the heathen. "There is a sacred spirit residing within us, who is the observer and guardiun of all our good and evil : according as he is treated by us, he will treat us.
The Jews, Socinians and Unitarians deny both the personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost, and affirm that he is an attribute of the divine nature, or the influential power of God.
That we may contemplate with knowledge and pleasure, how and when the Holy Spirit displays his love in our salvation, we must begin, by removing all that corrupt and filthy rubbish which the adversaries have thrown upon this delightful subject, as the Lord hath commanded us: “Cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.” Therefore, let us search the scriptures, dig deep, as the original word signifies, but with prudence and modesty; that is, "not intruding into those things which we have not seen, vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind;" yet, with accuracy, care and diligence, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” And, lastly, asking and depending on the Holy Spirit himself, to enable us to discern and gather what he hath revealed in his word, concerning himsell, and the displays of his love in our salvation. He is the best interpreter of his own book. And here, we have the advantage of his adversaries; for it is not to be supposed that he will condescend to teach those who blaspheme the glory of his nalure, by denying the divinity of his person.
All that we propose, is briefly to mention some of those truths, and the arguments by which they are supported, to make this subject plain and easy for our coutemplation. “If men prevail in the opposition they make to the personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost, it is not worth our while to concern ourselves about his operations.
Having searched the scriptures in the manner proposed, we are happy to present the reader with the following important iruths concerning the Holy Spirit and his operations. We have gathered that he is not a. breath or a power, but a person--that he is a distinct person in the Godhead. He is neither the Father nor the Son. He is not a created, but a divine person. He is the third person in the order of subsistence in the divine nature. In his natural character, he proceeds from the Father and the Son. Though in his official character, he is sent forth by both, yet he applies himself to, and accomplishes his work, as a voluntary sovereign and supreme agent. Lastly, the work to which the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son, consists in the acts of his power and love, which he displays in our salvation. Reader, what do you think of all these particulars ? Consider, and speak your mind. But, that your faith may not stand in the wisdom of rnen, but in the power of God," let us prove distinctly, that we have gathered them all from the holy scriptures. They declare plainly,
1. That ihe Holy Spirit is not a breath, a power, but a person. Indeed, the original word, both in the Hebrew and Greek, is used in a great variety of significations, in the scripture ; such as the wind, our rational souls, our breath, angels good and bad, and several other particulars, not necessary to be mentioned; because, in the places where it is thus used, the signification can easily be known from the connection. The word is also used to express the divine nature, or essence. "God is a spirit;" i. e. he is of a pure, spiritual, immaterial nature, not confined to any place.
Seneca, Epist. 41.
He is distinguished from every other spirit, as he is the Father (Creator) of them all. But there exists in the divine nature, one who in a particular manner is distinguished by the name Spirit. When the apostle saith, “There is one God, even the Father, and one Lord,” (i. e. Jesus Christ,) he adds, " There is one Spirit.” And, in another place, “ One and the self-same Spirit.” He is called the “Spirit of the Lord,” (Jehovah,) and the “Spirit of God," i. e. the Father, as he partakes of his essence, and proceeds from him. He is “the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father." He is also called "the Spirit of the Son, because he proceeds from him also. And, by way of eminence, the Holy Spirit. Let us now prove that he is a person.
(i.) This is evident, because personal properties are ascribed to him. An understanding, and the effects of it: "The Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God.” A will : “All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every one as he will.” “What can be spoken more fully and plainly to describe an intelligent person, acting voluntarily, with freedom and choice, I know not."* Power is also ascribed to the Holy Ghost. As to the works of nature, “He garnished the heavens :" "He established the carth by his power.' And also, in the works of grace. He formed the human nature of Christ. Thus said the angel to Mary: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” This does not mean that he is the influential powerof God; but only in answer to Mary's inquiry, How can this be, seeing I know not a man?” Saith the angel
, the Holy Ghost, exerting the power of the Most High, or the infinite power of God, shall accomplish it.”
(2.) That the Holy Ghost is a person, is plain enough, because those acts which are characteristic of a person are performed by him—such as teaching : “ The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.” Leading—“As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God.” Witnessing—“The Spirit himself beareth witness with our Spirit that we are the sons of God.” Sunciifying—"Ye are sanctified by the Spirit of our God.” Comforting—"I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, even the Spirit of truth.”' Once more," When the Spirit is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. “He shall glorify me,” saith Christ, "for he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." Therefore, he is not a breath, a power, but a person. In fine, to this truth we shall add two testimonies, to which, one would think, all the sophistry of men would not dare to replyOne, you find, Acts, xiii. 2—4: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate unto me,"? —as it should be read, “ Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Thus the Holy Ghost plainly declares that he is the person, unto
whom, and whose work, Barnabas and Saul were called by himself. To say that “these words are ascribed to the Holy Ghost because the prophets that were in the church at Antioch spake therein, by his inspiration,” is of no force against our argument; for we do not merely argue from his being said to speak, but from what is spoken by him. “Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul to the work which I have called them.” And this is confessedly the Holy Ghost. Correspondent to this is that other text, Acts xx. 28. It is expressly said, that":the Holy Ghost made the elders of the church the overseers of it.”[
We have expressed the preceding particulars as fully and concisely as we could, to guard the unlearned and unwary reader from being deceiv
| Dr. Owen on the Spirit, Book 1, chap. iii. sect. 26.
ed. If we lose the personality of the Holy Ghost, we may shut our Bibles as soon as we have opened them; for it is in vain to think of contemplating any
displays of his love in our salvation, if we deny him to be a person. This is the foundation of all; and the truth of it will still more fully appear, in the illustration of all the following particulars-for we observe,
2. That the Holy Ghost is a distinct person in the Godhead. We have as many arguments to prove that he is a distinct person, as we have to prove that the Father and the Son are so. 1. 'We read of properties peculiar to each person. As it is the personal property of the Faiher to beget the Son, and the personal property of the Son to be begotlen of the Father, so it is the personal properly of the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son. 2. We read of distinct internal acts, in which one person is the object of another's acts. Thus, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” "No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father but the Son.” There is also a mutual knowledge and love, as to the Holy Ghost. "And he searcheth the deep things of God.” In these mutual actings of knowledge and love, the blessedness of the holy God principally consists. 3. We also read of distinct external acts and operations, as to the several persons in the Godhead. Thus, the Father gave the Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The Son himself mude the propitiation, and ihe Spirit enables us to improve it, by faith, for pardon and salvation. Lastly, the Holy Ghost is not the Father, but sent by him. He is not the Son, but another Comforter. We know Christ no more after the flesh, but here is one who shall abide with us forever. 4. When the doctrine of the Trinity is mentioned in scripture, the Holy Spirit is “always mentioned as a distinct person. We are told what Christ says, in view of his incarnation : "The Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me." Does not the very sound of the words lead us into some listinction between the Lord and his Spirit, as if there was a concurrence of two agents ?Was it ever said that a man and his spirit gave out a commission ?—that a king and his soul published a decree? The Spirit was present, as a distinct person at Christ's baptism. He descended in a bodily shape upon him, and performed an action peculiar to himself, as Christ himself saith. “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anoin ted me to preach the gospel.” Thus, we are babtised “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” All these three persons are mentioned distinctly in that short account, that "Christ, being raised by the right hand of God, hath received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost." We proceed to observe,
3. That the Holy Spirit is a divine person, equally with the Father and the Son. 1. All the names expressive of Deity are, in their original glory, ascribed to him. He is expressly called God. Peter said to Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost ? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” He is called Lord, the Spirit. If it had been in the Old Testament language, it would have been Jehovah. Moses, when speaking of the people in the wilderness, saith the Lord (Jehovah) did lead them. And yet Isaiah, speaking of the same people, at the same time, saith, “ The Spirit of the Lord did lead them.” Therefore, the Spirit of the Lord is Jehovah. 2. All the divine attri. butes are ascribed to the Holy Ghost; such as eternity-He is called "the eternal Spirit.” Omniscience- "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Omnipresence– Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall Í flee from thy presence ?" Omnipotence~"He is the Spirit of counsel and of might.' As he is the author of faith, so the work of faith is with power-nay, "thc exceeding greatness of pow.