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us, has sent his Son, and given his Spirit, that we may be saved. The Son, as appointed and sent, assumed the office of Mediator, and in this character was united to the human nature in the
person of Jesus the Christ, and in this nature died for us, rose from the dead, is exalted to Heaven, and reigns to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. The Spirit is now given as the Comforter, the Advocate, the Sanctifier; that he may be the efficient cause of our salvation, and may, by his special and gracious work, bring us to God, and communicate the blessings of redemption. This is the obvious meaning of the passages which we have quoted, compared with those which speak of the Father and the Son, and contemplated in the entire light of God's dispensation of mercy, as it is revealed in his word. It is, indeed, admitted that much of the language of the Bible, on this as well as other subjects, is highly figurative, and is designedly accommodated to our capacities; yet this in no degree affects the doctrine that is taught the truth thus communicated is to be received as indubitably true, and the facts thus asserted are to be recognized as unquestionable facts. It is the reception of scriptural doctrine, whether delivered in a literal or figurative manner, as a revelation of what is, and not merely as an exhibitory representation, that shall make our faith stand, not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. When we read, therefore, that the Spirit is given according to the divine promises, that it is his office to “teach”—to “convince”-to “ lead”-to“ testify”-to “seal”—to“ sanctify;" we are authori. zed to believe that to him is assigned a special and distinct agency in the great system of man's redemption.
2. The agency of the Holy Spirit is necessary. Every purpose of God is firm, all the revelation of his purposes which he has made to us is true, and the ends which he designs to accomplish by his plans, are both definite and certain. Concerning his purposes he has said, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;” and with respect to the end which he has designed,
My word shall not return unto me void, it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Now, as in the natural world God has shewn his wisdom by the establishing of a certain connection between his purpose as it exists in his own mind, and the end which is proposed, through the agency of second causes; so, also, in the dispensation of grace, he has appointed means for the purpose of effecting the design of this dispensation. But as in the natural world he preserves his own influence and exerts his own power, whatever means may be used, whatever second causes may be employed, by controlling, and moving, and governing the whole course of nature; in the plan of redemption, also, while suitable means are selected, and fit instruments are employed, he reveals himself as accomplishing this great work by a supreme divine agency. This we see clearly in the appointment of the Son to the office of the Mediator, as an essentially necessary part of his own plan. Without shedding of blood there is no remission, and other blood than that of his own Son avails not: less than a sacrifice of infinite value, is not sufficient to procure the forgiveness of sin. I do not affirm that it was antecedently impossible for God to devise any other plan: thus to decide were presumptuous; such knowledge is too wonderful for man, that is a worm of the dust. I only affirm that on the principles of justice and mercy revealed in the Bible, applied to the case of fallen man in his relations to Jehovah, the sacrifice made by the Son of God was necessary, that God might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth. And on the same principles I conclude that the agency of the Holy Spirit was necessary, in the view of God's infinite wisdom and goodness, in order to secure the final result of the mediation of Jesus Christ. So that as the mediatory office of the Son was, according to the revealed purposes of the Most High, a dictate of his perfect wisdom and goodness; so also is the agency of the Spirit equally the result of divine wisdom and goodness. Further, on the same principles we may safely determine that this part of the divine plan is necessary to the full exhibition of the glory of God, and the honor of the Saviour, and necessary to us as sinners who are called to be parta. kers of eternal life. Without this divine influence what sinner would repent and believe, that he might be saved; what believer, even, would persevere, and go forward, and reach the kingdom of heaven? There is important meaning, meaning which implies the indispensable necessity of the Spirit's work, in our Lord's declaration, “ It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go nof away, the Comforter will not come.” Nor is there less meaning in Paul's solemn admonition, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of
Oh, that men would but consider--that believers would but feel as they ought, their need of this divine agency!
3. The agency of the Holy Spirit is infinitely gracious. The Lord reveals it as his peculiar glory that he is a gracious God. And he has made the most glorious exhibitions of grace in the great scheme of redemption. Especially does grace shine in the gift of his own Son. “God so loved the world, that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, is a gracious Saviour, and on this account, especially, that he saves his people from their sins. Pardon of sin through his blood, peace with God, deliverance from death, the possession of eternal life-every blessing bestowed, is of grace. Nor is grace less manifest in the gift of the Spirit, the purpose for which he is given, or the manner in which he performs his office. He is called “the Spirit of grace," "the good Spirit.” Two attributes of grace, as it is described in the Scriptures, are worthy of particular attention, in considering the gracious character of spiritual influence: first, freeness; secondly, sovereignty.
All the operations of God's Spirit are perfectly free. Grace cannot be deserved; where grace is given, merit is left out of view, and the grace of God to sinners consists in bestowing favor on those who deserve his displeasure. In perfect consistency with this attribute of grace, the Spirit operates in the work of salvation. No man has any claim, on the ground of deserving, to the gift of the Spirit. As the sinner is simply guilty before God, so he is only sinful, unclean in the view of this blessed and glorious Agent in salvation, Neither his desires por his efforts can entitle him to this infinitely precious blessing. Even a saint is a subject of spiritual influence on the ground of mere favor; his faith, his love, his holiness, is the fruit of the Spirit
, and cannot be a reason, in regard of merit, for continuing this dwelling of the Comforter with him. And the sovereignty of grace is equally manifest; for it is entirely of his own good pleasure, according to the will of God that the Comforter comes, and is the Spirit of grace and of truth to us. “ He divides to every man severally as he will." He gives grace, and more grace, or he withdraws from men and leaves them to their own will without respect of persons. By sovereignty is not meant arbitrariness, or that there are not adequate reasons for every difference that is made among men; but only that these reasons are not revealed to us. This sovereignty is, indeed, the exercise of infinite wisdom and goodness, and it is to his glory that while he is infinitely good, and fulfils every promise of God, he works freely, and agreeably to the dictates of his own infinite wisdom and benevolence.
4. The agency of the Comforter is sanctifying. His nature is infinitely holy, and it is his purpose to produce holiness by his influence. To him, sin in every form, and in every degree, is perfectly hateful; and as Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and to take away sin by the offering of himself
, the agency of the Spirit is designed to remove the sinfulness of our nature, and to make us holy. This view of his office is frequently and strongly expressed in various forms of speech, in the text now before us, and in many others. In regard of his nature and of his office, he is “the Holy Spirit,” and “ the Spirit of holiness.” Nothing unholy can be imputed to him; nothing that is evil can be affirmed of his operations, without the highest degree of impiety.
It is, however, the purpose for which the Spirit is given, and the effects of his operation, that require our particular attention. On this account his agency is affirmed to be sanctifying. The restora. tion of the image of God in the soul, which has been effaced by sin, is the peculiar object of his work. Indeed, the whole Mediatory system is designed, and is framed with a view to this change of the sinful character of man, so that he may be recovered to ho liness, and be reinstated in the favor of God. The ultimate end is the glory of the Godhead, the immediate end is the salvation of sinners, “ through the sanctification of the Spirit, and the belief of the truth.” With this view, the Father formed his plan of mercy, the Son made atonement for the sins of men, and offers intercession with his own precious blood in their behalf; and the Spirit, together with all his influences and the means which he employs, is freely and abundantly given. And He, “ being come,” performs his entire work in perfect harmony and co-operation with the Fa. ther and the Son, and according to the character and condition of the subjects of salvation. In the performance of this agency, hav: , ing anointed the beloved Son of God in his official character, and borne testimony concerning him, by the will of the Father, in the signs and mighty wonders which were wrought, he gave, by his inspiration, the knowledge of all the truth to the disciples, enabled them to preach the gospel with powerful demonstration, and indited the living Oracles by which men may become wise unto salvation. For this purpose he accompanied the first preaching of the gospel with miraculous works, and with energy which opened the hearts of multitudes to attend to the things which were spoken by the Apostles; and of this gracious influence the three thousand Converts made on the day of Pentecost were the first fruits, and many myriads in Judea and other parts of the world, both Jews and Gentiles, were the early harvest: they all were “ called to be holy," being renewed in their minds, that they might be new creatures in Christ Jesus. And as “he abides with the church for ever,” his operation is designed for the same purpose, and is followed by similar effects. Does he reprove, accuse, convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; shew to the sinner his sin, his guilt, his just condemnation; portray to his mind the solemnities of the judgment to come, and the terrors of damnation; awaken within him the pangs of remorse, produce the sorrows of repentance, and excitè him
to call on God, and strive to enter in
at the strait gate; it is that the sinner may cease to sin, and become ! holy. Does he create within him a clean heart, and renew a e right spirit within him, and lead him to the Saviour by faith in his
blood, that he may be forgiven, and to the throne of grace, that he may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need; he in
clines the heart to believe, and raises up within him sincere and į strong desire to the God of all grace, and then brings down peace
with God, and the comforts of pardon and hope from on high, that the sinner may be holy. Or does he enlighten or comfort, guide or strengthen, support or bless with joys divine the renewed man; all is designed to make him more holy. All his gracious work, as
he dwells in the believer, leads him by his influence, makes inters cession in him with groanings that cannot be uttered, pours out a
spirit of grace and supplication upon him, bears witness with his spirit that he is a son of God, and so an heir of God, and a joint heir with Jesus Christ, and seals him unto the day of redemption; all his agency as he guides him into all the truth, and shews him the things of Jesus Christ, and richly endows him with every gift, and bestows on him every spiritual blessing, is certainly designed to make him more holy, and more devoted, faithful and active in the service of God; and is perfectly suited to sanctify him, in his
proper measure, for his station on earth, and to sanctify him comby pletely in the end, that he may dwell with God in heaven.
5. The agency of the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, is divinely i powerful. Paul prays that believers may “ abound in hope
through the power of the Holy Gl:ost;" and asserts that the Gentiles were made obedient in word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." Speaking of the operation of God in quickening those who were dead in trespasses and sins, which is obviously the operation of God the Spirit, he teaches that this is “ the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” And a full and fair comparison of those passages of scripture which describe the operations of God on man as the subject of salvation, with those which exhibit the agency of the Spirit, will satisfy us that we do not mistake the meaning of the Apos le, when we suppose him to teach distinctly and designedly, as an important truth, that the Spirit operates with a Divine omnipotence. Besides, the terms which are used to express the effects of his influence, such as regeneration, renovation, new creation, quickening the dead, strongly favor the position which has been stated; we may therefore receive it as a correct description of the agency of the Spirit of God in the salvation of sinners.