Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ of God;" “ The things of God knoweth no man, but “ the Spirit of God." The interpretation of the heretics, who transfer these expressions to a man endowed with the Spirit of God, is utterly unsound. For, as in other passages, the Spirit of God is distinguished from men endowed with him," so likewise here; “ God hath revealed them UNTO US BY HIS SPIRIT.”I The Spirit of God, besides, is represented as having an access to the secrets of God, similar to that which the spirit of a man has to the thoughts of a man. But where is the exactness of the analogy, if we say, that what holds of a man with respect to the things of God, holds in the same manner of the spirit of a man with regard to the things of a man? Add to this, that, as we shall immediately prove in the proper place, so intimate and profound a knowledge of the deep things of God is too exalted a privilege to fall to the share of any mortal. In the same epistle to the Corinthians, notice is taken also of the Will of the Spirit: “ All “ these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, di“ viding to every man severally, as he will.", Let it be noted, that in the chapter containing these words, the Spirit is distinguished as a Giver from his gifts,” in the same way, doubtless, as the Lord is distinguished from his administrations, and God who worketh all in all, from his operations. For we have here a clear intimation of a Trinity of persons, to wit, the Father, who is usually denominated God absolutely; the Son, who is called Lord ;c and the Holy Spirit.

VIII. 2dly, From his personal appearances. Jesus

w

vi Cor. ii. 10, 11.
* 1 Cor. ii. 10.
1 Verse 4.
b Verse 6.

1 Pet. i. 11. 2 Pet. i. 21.
y Ch. xii. 11.
a Verse 5.
ci Cor. viii, 6.

any spiri

“ saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and " lighting upon him.” “ The Holy Ghost descended “ in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon him.” Now, who can suppose that what comes from heaven, and appears in a bodily shape, is not a person? We often read in holy writ, that spiritual persons, namely, Angels, descended in this manner, and were seen in a mortal form. But nowhere do we find that tual quality descended, or assumed a visible appearance. It has been objected, that things which are not persons are sometimes figuratively said to come down from heaven, and that such things may be adumbrated by some external appearance ;, as was done at that happy Pentecost, when the gift of speaking in various languages, and with powerful utterance, with which the Apostles were endowed, was shadowed forth by the appearance of cloven and fiery tongues. But this by no means weakens the force of our reasoning. For truly we do not deny that the gifts of God, which are not always persons, descend from heaven : we only urge, that nothing which is not a person, ever came from above clothed with a bodily shape. The divided tongues which sat on the Apostles like fire, did not directly and immediately denote the gift of tongues, but the person of the Holy Spirit, the Author of that gift, “ who gave them utterance,” as it is explained in the fourth verse.

IX. 3dly, From personal operations attributed to him; of which we have numerous instances in Scripture.h There is no weight in the exception of adversaries, that it is by the mere fiction of a person that & Mat. üü. 16.

e Luke üi. 22. ! James i. 17.

& Acts ü. 8. Acts viii. 39. xüi. 2. Rom. viii. 26. and elsewhere passim.

such acts are ascribed to the Holy Spirit; as personal acts are elsewhere attributed to charity, i to sin, i or to the letter of the law. Not to mention, that those indications of that figure of speech which are obvious elsewhere, are not to be found in the passages relating to the Spirit;-God is sometimes at particular pains, so to speak, to guard us against imagining that there is any such fiction of a person, where the Holy Spirit is spoken of. Thus in 1 Cor. xii. Paul, after having in the ninth verse designated certain gifts by the term Spirits, yet straightway, verse eleventh, refers all to one Spirit, the distributor of those gifts, as to a real person. Nor, as I apprehend, will our antagonists ever be able to show, that operations of the kind mentioned in the places to which we have referred, as catching away a man ;-saying, Separate me men for the work whereunto I have called them; and interceding for one, are not characteristical of persons. 54

X. 4thly, From his being joined in the same place and order with persons, without any mark of differ

Thus in Mat. xxviii. 19. the Apostles are enjoined to baptize in the name of the Holy Ghost, no less than of the Father and the Son. Now what is it to perform a deed in the name of any one, but to do it by his authority and command? The authority, too, of these three is here propounded as equal, or rather as one. As therefore the Father and the Son are, by this expression, declared to be the authors of baptism, the Holy Spirit is in the same manner designated the author of that institution. But if he were not a person, how could the ordinance of baptism be ascribed to him? i 1 Cor. xiii.

J Rom. vi 11. 2 Cor. ii. 6.

54 See Note LIV.

Objectors indeed allege, that things which are not persons, are connected with persons in the same sentence, as in the passage where Paul commends the Church" to God, and to the word of his grace," that is, the Gospel. They add, that even the names of what are not persons, are joined to the name of a person ;“ I will write upon him the name of my God, and the

name of the city of my God.”m But we reply, 1. Nowhere is any thing said to be done in the name of that which is not a person. 2. Although “ the word of his

grace” elsewhere signifies the Gospel, it doth not necessarily follow, that the expression has the same meaning in Acts xx. 32. The signification of words often varies according to the variety of circumstances, and the diversified exigencies of the subject. We are not displeased with the observation of Francis Gomar, that the Word of the grace of God here refers to Christ, who, agreeably to the forms of instruction used by the ancient Hebrews, is in the writings of John denominated the Word; and who may be called the Word of grace from the effects which he produces, just as he is styled o the Word of life.”n In the same manner, he adds, Peter speaks of “the God of all grace,” and Paul of “ the Spirit of grace.”p Christ may be called, in fine, says that writer, “ the Word of the grace of God,” because, as Mediator, he has obtained and announced the favour of God towards us. The propriety and concinnity of the Apostolical diction lead us thus to understand these expressions of Christ, rather than of the Gospel. It appears far more proper for the Church to be commended to Christ, than to the Gospel; which is usually commended to the Church.9 If you wish, however, by all means to explain it of the Gospel, the meaning of this improper phrase will be, that believers are commended to God, in order that he

1 Acts xx. 32. Comp. chap. xiv. 3. m Rev. iii. 12.

ni John i. 1. 0 1 Pet. v. 10.

p Heb. 2. 29.

may

instruct and console them by the doctrine of grace. And thus the Gospel will be associated with God, as the instrumental with the principal cause ;—to which there is nothing similar in the passage from which we are now reasoning.55 3. We do not urge, that every thing is a person, to which a name is attributed, or whose name is joined with the name of a person; but merely maintain the personality of that in whose name something is said to be done, and done in the same manner in which it is performed in the name of those who are undoubtedly persons.

XI. You may urge perhaps, If that in whose name 'we are baptized, appear to be a person, that with which 'we are baptized cannot be a person; just as the water ' with which we are baptized cannot be affirmed to be a

person. Since, it is said, therefore, that believers are “ baptized with the Holy Ghost,”r is it not sufficiently * clear that the Holy Spirit is not a person ?' I reply, if there is any force in this argument, it will follow by parity of reason, that as the garment with which we are clothed, or the bread on which we subsist, is not a person, so neither is Christ a person, because we are commanded to put him on, and are nourished by him as the bread of life. What else is it to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, if we intend to express ourselves in proper terms, than to be enriched with the grace and the gifts of the

91 Tim. i. 18. 2 Tim. ii. 2.

Mat. ii. 11. Acts i. 5. 1 Cor. xii. 13.
* Rom. xiii. 14. Gal. iii. 27. John vi. 51.

55 See Note LV.

t

« PreviousContinue »