Page images
PDF
EPUB

And the promises of the spirit, in the times of the Messiah, import also a plentiful effusion of spiritual gifts.

Is. xliv. 3." And I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thy offspring." Comp. John vii. 38, 39. Acts ii. 17, 18. And see Is. lix. 2. "Ezek. xi. 19. xxxvi. 27. xxxvii. 14. xxxix. 29.

Joel ii. 28, 29. "And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants, and the handmaids, in those days will I pour out my spirit." See Acts ii. 17, 18.

In all which texts, as seems very evident, by the spirit, and the spirit of God, and the spirit of the Lord, is meant not a being, or intelligent agent, but a power, a gift, a favour, a blessing.

I proceed to the New Testament, in which likewise many texts are to be taken notice of by us.

Matt. x. 19, 20. "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how, or what ye shall speak. For it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."

Mark xiii. 11. " But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate. But whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye. For it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost."

Luke xii. 11, 12. "And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers; take ye no thought how, or what thing ye shall answer, or what shall ye the Holy Ghost shall teach you, in that same hour, what ye ought to say."

say.

For

Luke xxi. 14, 15. "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before, what ye shall answer. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, [or wise speech,] which all shall not be able to gainsay, or resist."

your adversaries

How these and the like promises were afterwards fulfilled, when the apostles of Christ, and other his disciples, were brought before the Jewish or other rulers and governors, we see in their history, recorded in the book of the Acts. Of St. Stephen, in particular, it is said, ch. vi. 9, 10. "Then there arose certain, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit, by which he spake."

John iii. 34. "For he, whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God. For God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him." Here by the spirit, as I suppose, all understand a gift.

John vii. 37-39. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

Here also, as is very plain, by the spirit, and the Holy Ghost, is meant a gift, or a plentiful effusion of spiritual gifts.

John xx. 19-22. "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week—came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them: Peace be unto you-As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost:" that is, he encouraged them to rely upon him for the fulfilment of the promise he had made, that they should receive from above sufficient qualifications for the discharge of their high office. Which actually came to pass on the day of Pentecost next ensuing.

Acts i. 4, 5." And being assembled together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, Which, saith he, ye have heard of me." [Luke xxiv. 49.] "For John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence." Which cannot be understood of a person. The meaning therefore is: ye shall be favoured with a plentiful effusion of spiritual gifts. As the event likewise shows. See John i. 33. and Acts xi. 16.

Ver. 8. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
Acts ii. 1-4. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one

accord in one place And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance."

When all men wondered at this strange appearance, and some mocked; ver. 14-18. Peter, standing up says, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and my handmaidens I will pour out my spirit, and they shall prophesy."

Ver. 33. "Therefore being by the right hand of God, exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth, [or poured out,] this, which ye now see and hear."

Ver. 38. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized- in the name of Jesus Christ-and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Acts iv. 8. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel—”

-Ver. 21. “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. And they spake the word with boldness. Ver. 33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon all."

Acts iv. 3. 66 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." Ver. 5. "And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, and Philip." Ver. 8. "And Stephen full of faith and power did great wonders and miracles among the people." Ver. 9. "Then there arose certain,-disputing with Stephen." Ver. 10. “ And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake."

Acts viii. 14. Now when the apostles, which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John." Ver. 15. "Who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet he was fallen upon none of them. Only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Ver. 17. "Then laid they their hands on them; and they received the Holy Ghost." Ver. 18. "And when Simon saw, that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Gost was given, he offered them money." And what follows.

Acts x. 44, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." Ver. 45. " And they of the circumcision which believed, were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." Ver. 46. "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." Ver. 47. “Then answered Peter: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”

Acts xi. 16, 17. "Forasmuch then, as God gave them the like gift, as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus; what was I, that I could withstand God?" Ch. xv. 18. And God, which knows the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, as he did

99

unto us.'

I have omitted Acts ix. 17. and x. 38, for the sake of brevity, and as not being necessary to be now insisted upon. The paragraph in Acts xix. 1-7. will be considered hereafter among the texts that are to be explained.

Rom. v. 5. "And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.”

Tit. iii. 5, 6.-" according to his mercy he has saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us, [has poured out upon us, ou ežeXEEV ε nuas,] abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour."

Heb. ii. 4. “God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will."

"And gifts of the Holy Ghost." It should be rather rendered, and distributions of the Holy Ghost: και πνεύματος αγι8 μερισμοις. A remarkable expression, plainly declaring that by the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit, was meant those spiritual gifts which came down upon men from heaven immediately, or were communicated in great variety, by the laying on of the hands of the apostles.

Heb. vi. 4.-" those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, aud were partakers of the Holy Ghost.”τός ἅπαξ Φωτισθεντας, γευσάμενος τε της δωρεας της επερανία,

και μετοχές γενηθέντας πνευματος ἁγι8.

6

Dr. Whitby's paraphrase is this: and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made 'partakers of the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven, and conferred on them by the imposition ' of hands.'

Learned interpreters are not agreed in the meaning of the heavenly gift. To me it seems. that by both these expressions, one and the same thing is intended, even the Holy Ghost: and that the writer of this epistle calls it the heavenly gift, in allusion to the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles and their company on the day of Pentecost, as related Acts ii. 1-13.

But though commentators do not agree in their interpretation of the first particular, I suppose, that by the Holy Ghost they generally understand miraculous powers and gifts, of which persons here spoken of had partaken. So Whitby, as just cited. So likewise Grotius. Subjicit etiam participes fuisse spiritus sancti,' id est, dona consecutos prophetiæ, linguarum, sanationum, quæ non contingebant eo tempore nisi justificatis, id est, purgatis. Grot. in loc. Du saint esprit.] Des dons miraculeux. Le Clerc.

·

1 Pet. i. 12. "Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel to you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven."

Here I suppose to be a plain reference to the plentiful effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, as related by St. Luke at the beginning of the book of the Acts. It is probable, that many of the Christians, to whom St. Peter is here writing, were converted by St. Paul, who was not present with the rest on that memorable day. Nevertheless he had received the Spirit in a very plentiful measure, and immediately from heaven, without the intervention of any of those who were apostles before him. It is also very likely that St. Peter himself, and some others of the twelve, had been in these countries before his writing this epistle. For, not now to mention St. John, who perhaps did not take up his abode at Ephesus, till after the writing this epistle of Peter, I think we have good evidence that Philip, one of the twelve apostles, resided for some time, and died at Hierapolis in Phrygia. And it may be reckoned probable, that he was for a while very useful in preaching the gospel in those parts, and that he wrought miracles among the people there.

a

By the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, I suppose to be meant the inspiration of the apostles, and the miraculous powers and gifts with which they were endowed.

Res illæ magnæ nobis plene explicatæ sunt per apostolos, et corum adjutores, cœlitus donatos spiritu sancto,' id est, donis majoribus, quam ipsi prophetæ habuere, et de quibus ipsi prophetæ sunt locuti, ut Joel ii. 28. Grot. in loc.

1 John iv. 13. 66

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit:” οτι εκ τε πνευματος αυτ8 δεδωκεν ημιν. And see ch. ii. 20.

In these texts the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, is oftentimes spoken of as a gift. And there is a variety of expressions, such as giving, pouring out, falling upon men, receiving, and being filled with, the Holy Ghost; which import a gift, a power, a privilege and blessing, rather than a person.

To all which may be added, fourthly, that in the epistles of the New Testament there are at the beginning, and elsewhere, wishes of peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, but none from the Spirit distinctly. Nor are there any doxologies, or ascriptions of glory to the Spirit distinctly, though there are several such ascriptions to God and Christ, or to God throughChrist.

[ocr errors]

Rom. i. 7. "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." So also 1 Cor. i. 3. 2 Cor. i. 2. Gal. i. 3. Eph. i. 2. and elsewhere. And Eph. vi. 13. "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Some of the doxologies are these: Rom. xi. 36. "For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Ch. xvi. 27. "To God only wise be

VOL. V.

• Vid. Euseb. H. E. 1. 3. c. 31. 1. 5. cap. 24. in Hieron. de V. I. cap. 45. Polycrates.
3 F

[ocr errors]

glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen." See Eph. iii. 20, 21. Philip. iv. 8. "Now unto God, even our Father, be glory for ever and ever." See 1 Tim. i. 17. Heb. xiii. 20, 21. “Now the God of peace— make you perfect,--through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Pet. iv. 11. "That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." 2 Pet. iii. 18. " But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to him be glory both now and ever. Amen." And see Jude, ver. 24, 25. Rev. i. 5, 6. “Unto him that loved us, and redeemed us from our sins by his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God, even his Father to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." See also Rev. iv. 9-11. v. 12, 13. vii. 10.

I quote no other books as of authority, beside the books of scripture commonly received by Christians, as of divine original. Nevertheless I may observe by way of illustration, that the wishes of peace, and the doxologies in the most early Christian writers, are agreeable to those in the epistles of the New Testament, which have been just now alleged.

с

The epistle of Clement, written in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, begins in this manner. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you from God Almighty through

'Jesus Christ.'

In this epistle are several doxologies. And they are all ascribed to God, or Christ, or to God through Christ.

The conclusion of the epistle is in these words: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and with all every where, who are called by God through him: through whom to him be glory, honour, might, majesty, and everlasting dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.”

The epistle of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, which is sent to the Philippians, is inscribed in this manner: Polycarp, and the presbyters that are with him, to the church of God which is at Philippi. Mercy and peace be multiplied unto you from God Almighty, and from the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.'

4

6

[ocr errors]

"

"

In the twelfth chapter, or section of that epistle are these expressions. Now the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he himself, who is our everlasting high priest, the Son ' of God, Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, meekness and patience.'

"

A catholic author, supposed to have lived about the year of Christ 220, and writing against heretics, says: There is, indeed, one God, whom we can know no otherwise, but from the holy ⚫ scriptures. Whatever therefore the divine scriptures declare, that let us embrace: what they 'teach, let us learn. And as the Father willeth we should believe, so let us believe: as he willeth the Son should be honoured, so let us honour him: as he willeth the Holy Ghost should be given, so let us accept.'

a

Jerom says, that Lactantius in his epistles, especially those to Demetrian, denies the per'sonality of the Holy Ghost: referring him, and his operations, as the Jews also erroneously do, to the Father, or the Son.'

[ocr errors]

And in another place he says, that this was the sentiment of many Christians in his own time, who did not understand the scriptures.

с

The bishops in the council of Nice, having declared the doctrine concerning God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, add: And in the Holy Ghost:' that is: And we believe in the 'Holy Ghost.'

It follows in the same creed, as it is exhibited in the liturgy of the Church of England: The Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.' But that is not in the creed of the council of Nice, which sat in the year of our Lord 325, but it is taken from the creed of the council of Constantinople, which was convened in the year 381. Or, as it is more accurately expressed by Bishop Burnet at the beginning of his exposition of the eighth article of the church

και ὡς θέλει πνεῦμα ἅγιον δωρεῖσθαι, λαδωμεν. Hippolyt. contr. Noët. § ix. p. 12. ap. Fabr. T. II.

Lactantius, in epistolis suis, et maxime in epistolis ad Demetrianum, Spiritûs Sancti negat substantiam, et errore Judaïco dicit eum vel ad Patrem referri, vel ad Filium, et sanctificationem utriusque personæ sub nomine ejus demonstrari. Hieron. ad Pamm. et Oc. ep. 41. al. 65. T. IV. P. 345.

Hoc ideo: quia multi per imperitiam scripturarum (quod et Firmianus in octavo ad Demetrianum epistolarum libro fecit) asserunt, Spiritum sanctum sæpe Patrem sæpe Filium nominari. Et cum perspicue in Trinitate credamus, tertiam personam auferentes, non substantiam ejus volunt esse, sed nomen. Id. in Galat. cap. iv. ver. 6. T. IV. P. I. p. 268.

of England: So that the creed, here called the Nice-creed, is indeed the Constantinopolitan creed, together with the addition of Filioque, made by the western church.'

"

I might add a great deal more from the writers of the first three centuries. But this is not a place for enlargement. What has been already said, may be sufficient to render it probable, that the doctrine of the Trinity, which is now commonly received, and which is so much disliked by many, was not formed all at once, but was the work of several ages.

SECTION II.

OBJECTIONS. But it may be objected, that the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, is oftentimes spoken of as a person, and especially in St. John's gospel.

John xiv. 16, 17. " And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But ye know him. For he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Ver. 25, 26." These things have I spoken unto you, being present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

John xvi. 7. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. But if I depart, I will send him unto you"--Ver. 12. "I have yet many things to say unto you. But ye cannot bear them now." Ver. 13. "Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. For he shall not speak of himself. But whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak. And he will show you things to come." Ver. 14. "He shall glorify me. For he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Ver. 15. "All things that the Father hath are mine. Therefore said I, that he shall take of mine: and shall show it unto you."

In answer to which several things may be said.

1. It is not uncommon, in the language of scripture, to personalize many things, to which we do not ascribe intelligence.

The book of Proverbs, where wisdom is brought in speaking, as a person, is a well-known and remarkable instance. So likewise in the New Testament death reigns. Rom. v. 14, 17. and is an enemy. 1 Cor. xv. 26, 55–57. And sin is spoken of as a lord and master, and pays wages, and that in opposition to God, the most perfect agent. Rom. vi. 12. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." 14. "For sin shall not have dominion over you." 17. "Ye were once the servants of sin"-23. "For the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

And how many things are done by charity, as described by St. Paul! 1 Cor. xiii. “It suffereth long, and is kind, thinketh no evil, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things," and the like.

I might quote here many other texts. Judg. xxiv. 26, 27. "And Joshua took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak--And Joshua said unto all the people: Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us: for it has heard all the words of the Lord, which he spake unto us. It shall therefore be a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God."

John xii. 48." He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, has one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day."

6

Let me recite here the words of a pious and learned English writer. To conclude this point, the sum of our Saviour's preaching consists in inculcating this one great and fundamental truth of Christianity: that "we are nothing, and God is all in all." It is his word that enlightens our minds, his Spirit directs our wills, his providence orders our affairs, his grace guides us here, and his mercy must bring us to heaven hereafter.'

Why is God's spirit a person more than his providence, or his grace, or mercy? We know,

• Directions for profitable reading the Holy Scriptures. By William Lowth, p. 100.

« PreviousContinue »