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JAMES iii. 17. The Wisdom that is from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality, and without Hypocrisy.
ERHE Gifts of the Holy Spirit are
distinguishable into two kinds, T
being either extraordinary, and
peculiar to some Times and Ya*
Persons; and given, not for the Sanctification of the Men on whom they are bestowed, but for the Edification of the Church, which is the Body of Christ: Or they are common to all Times of the Gospel, and necessary to perfect the Man of God in every good Work; and therefore tendered to
all, who undertake the Conditions of Christianity, according to the Promise of God made through Christ Jesus. Of the first Sort were those wonderful Gifts bestowed on the Apostles, and first Planters of Christianity, by which they were enabled to convey the Knowledge of the Salvation of God to Men of all Languages, and to convince the World by Signs, and Wonders, and mighty Works, of the Truth of their Miffion; and that the Word by them spoken was the Word of Life, proceeding from Him, whose Power was made use of in Confirmation of it.
That the Gifts of this fort conveyed no fanctifying Grace to the Receiver, is evident from what St. Paul has taught us, 1 Cor. xiii. Though I speak with the Tongue of Men and of Angels, and have not Charity, I am become as founding Brass, or a tinkling Cymbal. Though I have the Gift of Prophecy, and understand all Mysteries, and all Knowledge, and though I have all Faith, so that I could remove Mountains, and have no Charity, I am nothing. The Supposition here made, that the Exercise of these Gifts may consist with a want of Charity, i. e. with the want of the moral Qualifications of a Christian, warrants the Conclusion, That these Gifts do not convey
the fan&tifying Grace of the Gospel; and that they are given, not for the sake of the Receivers, but for the sake of others; who through their Ministry are to be converted to the Knowledge of the Truth. For this Reason they were given, and for some Time continued in the Primitive Church, to make way for the Acknowledgment of Christ, and for the Conviction of Unbelievers; and may be again renewed, whenever God shall think fit visibly to interpose in the farther Propagation of his Gospel in the heathen World.
It is manifest then, that the Scripture àscribes to the Spirit of God a twofold Operation in the Work of the Gospel. The first is that already mentioned, and is the supply. ing and furnishing Motives of Credibility, and proper Means to establish the Doctrine and Faith. The second is that now to be considered in explaining the Words of the Text, to wit, the affording Affistance and Strength to all, who undertake the Conditions of the Gospel, to perform them, and to render a Service worthy of the Gospel, and acceptable to our God and Saviour.
The Wisdom mentioned in the Text is defcribed to be the Wisdom that is from above, that is, which is given or communicated VOL. III.
from above. And in the first Chapter the Apostle instructs us how to obtain it: If any of you lack Wifdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all Men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given bim: But let him ask in Faith. And foon after he shews us upon what Grounds his Advice stands : Every good and every perfect Gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no Variableness, neither Shadow of turning.
The Instruction given, that we should ask this Wisdom in Faith; the Reason assigned to support this Faith, that with God is no Variableness, neither Shadow of turning ; do fufficiently shew, that the Wisdom which we are encouraged to ask for, is no other than the Grace promised under the Gospel: For the Declaration of God's Purpose to give this Wisdom, which is no where declared but in the Gospel, must be supposed, before the Immutability of his Purpose can be alledged, as a Ground of Hope and Assurance to obtain the good Gift by the Prayer of Faith.
By the Word Wisdom then in the Text we must understand the Grace of God mised in the Gospel, and considered in Scripture as the ruling and governing Principle in