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IV. Make some application of the subject.
I. I shall make some introductory remarks on the subject.
The Holy Spirit is in Scripture spoken of in language appropriate to a personal agent. He is represented as choosing, willing, commanding, and “giving "to every man, severally as he will:" and therefore it has in every age been customary to speak of him as a Person. The divine perfections and operations are also expressly ascribed to him: he is spoken of as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; Christians are temples of GOD, because the Spirit of GoD dwelleth in them; and in various ways, the incommunicable attributes of Deity are ascribed to him. Now there can be but one GOD; and if three distinct personal agents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are constantly mentioned, in language which implies divine perfections; then, for want of some more adequate words, of which, in our present state, we are devoid; we say that there are three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot better express ourselves, though we do not comprehend the full import of our own words; and none, in any age of Christianity, have objected to these expressions, but they who have at length manifested an aversion to the mysterious doctrine taught by them, and to the other grand peculiarities of the sacred Scriptures.
This one God in three Persons, is the Object of the Christian's adoration: into this one "name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," we are all baptized and the mystery which we cannot explain
er comprehend, is yet kept in view, whenever we really exercise faith in the mercy of the Father, the redemption and mediation of the Son, or the grace of the Holy Spirit.—“The Father loved the world; and
sent his only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins." The ascended Saviour sends the Holy Spirit, to communicate by his powerful agency, that redemption which he purchased on the cross. Thus the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son:' as St. John in vision saw "a pure River of water "of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne "of GoD, and of the Lamb."*
The gift of the Holy Spirit, as stated in Scripture, is twofold: his immediate inspiration made men prophets; his regenerating and sanctifying influences, make men saints or holy persons.-These are perfectly distinct endowments. The most of those who have been, and are, made holy persons, have had no prophetical or miraculous gifts bestowed on them: nor can any sober man suppose, that every one, who would pray for the Holy Spirit, should be made a prophet, or enabled to work miracles. On the other hand, some prophets were not saints: they received the Spirit of prophecy, for the use of others, but not that of sanctification to the saving of their own souls.f We therefore entirely disclaim all pretensions to the Holy Spirit, in respect of his miraculous and prophetical gifts: we neither expect, nor teach others to expect,
any such thing. In this sense the Holy Spirit is not now given, or promised: and if any persons inadvertently use language capable of being understood as a claim of this kind, we would enter a protest against it, as inaccurate, and of bad tendancy, however well
We do not expect that the Holy Spirit will be given in answer to our prayers, to inform us immediately, as by a whisper, when either awake or asleep, that we are the children of Gon; or to lead us to this conclusion, by any impression or new revelation; or in any other way, than by enabling us to exercise repentance, and faith, and love to GoD and our neighbour. Here again.we allow, that enthusiasm has often found admission, and has done great mischief.
GoD inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: and, while we would teach you to depend on the same Spirit, to guide you into the true meaning of the Scriptures; we would by no means allow, that he ever reveals any thing contrary to the written word, or more than is contained in it, or through any other medium. Now, should any impression be made on the mind of a covetous man, an adulterer, or any other impenitent sinner, that his sins are pardoned, and that he is a child of GoD and an heir of heaven; it would contradict the Scriptures, which expressly declare, that such characters are in the road to destruction. But the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself; and therefore such impressions must come from "Satan, transformed into an "angel of light."
If any impression lead men from the Scriptures, to form some other ground of hope, or rule of conduct, than is there given; it adds to the word of GOD, and indeed contradicts it, and must therefore be a delusion.
If any one thinks he is led by the Holy Spirit immediately, and in the neglect of the means of grace; or that he has now no longer occasion, as being under a higher influence, to search the Scriptures; or that his views are not to be judged by the oracles of GoD, soberly interpreted as the standard of truth; he is evidently deluded." To the law and to the testimony, if
they speak not according to this word; it is because "they have no light in them." Even prophets and apostles searched the Scriptures extant in their days, and uniformly appealed to them; and our LORD, in promising the Holy Spirit to his disciples, " to lead "them into all truth," adds, "He shall bring to your remembrance whatever I have spoken unte you."*
The Holy Spirit is not promised to render us infal lible: and they who, professing a great dependence on his influence, refuse to preach or pray, except as moved by the Spirit, (probably without being aware of it,) advance a claim to infallibility, whenever they thus speak, either to GoD or to man. Whatever is uttered at those times, is actually made the dictates and words of the Holy Spirit, and put upon an equality with the
* John xiv. 23.
language of Scr` ure! but surely it is more becoming for us to do our best, as opportunities offer, and to aseribe all that is true or good to the Holy Spirit, taking the blame of all that is erroneous or defective upon ourselves! All such claims, however, as imply exemption from mistake or sin, we utterly disallow, as arrogant and enthusiastick; and only desire to have our principles and actions candidly judged of by the Holy Scriptures.
We observe also, that we are incapable of distinguishing the influences of the Holy Spirit, from the exercises of our own faculties, except as every thing holy is considered as coming from his agency, every thing unholy from our evil nature. In fact, there is no actual and entire distinction; except when he acts as a Spirit of prophecy. For, all we are taught to expect is this, that he will dispose and enable us to exercise the understanding and faculties, which God hath given us, in a holy and wise manner. He who is left to himself, or under the influence of that " spirit, which "worketh in the children of disobedience," acts freely and without compulsion; his faculties being distempered by sinful passions, as the eye or the ear by discase. And he who is brought under the influence of the Holy Spirit, experiences no compulsion or violence; but the mind, being delivered from the effect of delusion and sinful passions, perceives things in a new light, and most willingly makes a new and holy choice. "I know," says the apostle, " that in me, that "is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing."* If then,
*Rom. vii. 18.