Page images

forth this which ye now see and hear,' that is, in his mi raculous operations and effects.

Here lay the foundation of the Christian church. The Lord Christ had called his apostles to the great work of building his church, and propagating his Gospel in the world; for which, in themselves, they were evidently defective in all needful qualifications. But whatever was wanting in wisdom, utterance, or courage, he promised to supply; and this he would do, only by the Holy Ghost; on whose assistance the whole success of their ministry depended. Hence, when he was about to leave them after his resurrection, he ordered them to sit still and do nothing in the public work of building his church, till the promise of the Spirit were actually accomplished. 'He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father::- Ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the utmost parts of the earth.' Acts i. 4, 8. In this promise he founded the church itself, and by it he builded it up. And this is the hinge on which the whole weight of it turns to this day. Take this away, and there is an end of the church of Christ-no dispensation of the Spirit, no church. He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word, had as good burn his Bible. The bare letter of the New Testament will no more produce faith and obedience in the souls of men, than the letter of the Old Testament does among the Jews. But blessed be God, who has knit these things together in the bond of an everlasting covenant! The kingdom of Christ is spiritual; and, in the animating principles of it, invisible. If we fix our minds only on outward order, we lose the rise and power of the whole. It is not an outward visible ordination by men (though that be necessary also) but Christ's com munication of his Spirit that gives being, life, and success to the ministry; and if any are so foolish as to expect assistance in the work without him, or such success in their labours as shall find acceptance with God, they do but deceive their own souls and others. Let men, therefore, cast themselves into what order, or institute what forms of worship they think proper; if the work of the Spirit be disclaimed, there is no church state among them.


3. It is the Holy Spirit who supplies the bodily absence of Christ. Hence some of the ancients call him (Vicarium Christi) the Vicar of Christ; he who represents his person, and discharges his promised work. When Christ was leaving the world, he commanded his disciples to preach the Gospel and disciple the world; and for their encouragement promised his own presence with them, and that while his Gospel should be preached on the earth Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world," or the consummation of all things: but immediately after he had thus spoken, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.' Where now is the accomplishment of this promise! or, of that other made to the church itself,- Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them? I answer, These promises are perfectly fulfilled by his sending the Holy Spirit: in and by him, he is present with his disciples in their ministry and their assemblies. He so represents the person, and supplies the bodily absence of Christ, that on his presence the being of the church, the success of the ministry, and the edification of the whole absolutely depend. Now, who that has any affection for Christ, does not think that the bodily presence of Christ would be of unspeakable advantage to him? And so no doubt it would, had any such thing been appointed in the wisdom and love of God. But so it is not; and we are taught to expect more advantage by bis spiritual presence with us by the Holy Ghost; it is more expedient for us. It is therefore incumbent on us to enquire what valuation we have hereof, and what benefit we have hereby; for if we do not really receive grace from this presence of Christ with us, we have no benefit at all from him: for he is not with any now, but by his Spirit; and this they will one day find, whose profession is made up of such a sottish contradiction, as to avow an esteem of Jesus Christ, and yet blaspheme his Spirit in all his holy operations.

4. As he represents the person, and supplies the plate of Christ, so he effects whatever Christ undertook to effect; for as the work of the Son was not his own, but rather the work of the Father who sent him, so the work of the Spirit is not his own, but rather the work of the Son, by whom he is sent. When the Spirit of truth is

come, he will guide you into all truth. John xvi. 13-15. He comes to communicate truth; not an absolutely new dispensation of truth, different from what Christ himself had declared, but to build on the foundation he had laid. By this rule we may try every spirit whether it be of God. That spirit which pretends to reveal any thing that is contrary to, or not consistent with, yea, that is not already revealed in the word; that brings any thing new, bis own, or of himself, that spirit is not of God. 'He shall not speak of himself,'-not of himself only; he shall reveal no other truth, communicate no other grace, but what is in, from, and by Christ. It is added, whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak ;—that is, the whole counsel of the Father and the Son concerning the salvation of the Church: and he is said to hear it,' not as if he were not a divine person, equally participant of the counsels of the Father and the Son; but the outward act of hearing is mentioned as the sign of his infinite knowledge, not the means of it. His great work is subjoined,



He shall glorify me;' and this they are always to remember who pray for his assistance in their office in the Church he is given to them, that they may give glory to Christ. And the method whereby the Spirit glorifies Christ is added: He shall receive of mine, and shew it. unto you.' The (ra qua) the things of Christ, are his

truth and grace;' these he is said to receive; not as if he had them not before, but because they are peculiarly the things of Christ and it is added, He shall shew them to you.' He shewed the apostles his truth, by immediate revelation; enabling them infallibly to understand and declare the whole counsel of God; and he still continues to shew to all believers the truth of Christ by the word, as written and preached; instructing us in it, and enlightening our minds spiritually to understand the mind of God in it. And his grace he shewed, by pouring out his sanctifying graces and extraordinary gifts upon the first disciples; and he still continues to shew his grace to believers, as he imparts it to them in sanctification, consolation, and spiritual gifts. The reason of this assertion is then given us: All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine, and shew it unto you.' The things to be declared to us and bestowed on us, are originally the Father's things; he is the peculiar Fountain

of them all; his love, wisdom, goodness, counsel, and will, is their supreme cause and spring. They are made the things of the Son, on account of his mediation; for` thereby they were to be prepared for us, and given out to us; and then they are actually communicated to us by the Holy Ghost - He shall take of mine, and shew it unto you.' He does not communicate them to us immediately from the Father. We do not so receive any grace from him, nor make any return of praise to him. We have nothing to do with the Father immediately. By the Son alone we have access to him; and by the Son alone he gives out his grace to us. With him, as the great treasurer of heavenly things, are all grace and mercy intrusted. The Holy Spirit, therefore, bestows them on us, as they are the fruits of the mediation of Christ, and not merely f as the effects of the divine bounty of the Father. Thus dhe supplies the bodily absence of Jesus Christ, and effects no what he has to accomplish in the world; so that whatever is done by him, it is the same as if it were wrought immediately by Christ himself in his own person; and thus are his promises accomplished to believers.


And this teaches us the way and manner of our communion with God by the Gospel. The person of the Father is the origin of all grace and glory; but it is not immediately from him that they are communicated to us. It is the Son whom he loves, and hath given all things into hishand. He has made a way for their communication to us: and he does it immediately by the Spirit. As the descending of God towards us, in love and grace, issues in the work of the Spirit on us; so all our ascending towards him begins therein. And we must attend explicitly to these things, if we wish our faith, love, and obedience should be evangelical. Woe to professors of the Gospel who are seduced to believe that all they have to do with God consists in their attention to moral virtue! It is sottish ignorance and infidelity to suppose that, under the Gospel, there is no communication between God and us but by laws, commands, and promises on his part; and by obedience performed in our own strength on our part. Let them judge thus who, being weary of Christianity,. have a mind to turn Pagans. But our fellowship is with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ,' by the Spirit. It is therefore of the first importance to us to enquire


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


into, and secure to ourselves, the promised influences of I the Holy Ghost.

5. As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace, and the immediate efficient cause of all gracious effects in men, wherever there is mention made of any one of them, it is to be looked on as a part of his work, though he be not expressly named. I do not understand what some begin to talk about moral virtue; they seem to aim at something that is in their own power, at least with a blessing on their endeavours. But as to grace, I think all men will grante that it is of the Holy Ghost alone. Whether we under-ion, stand by grace, the free favour of God towards us, or his pri free effectual operations in us, the Holy Spirit is its Auto thor, in the first sense, as to its application; in the lat-fitti ter, as to the operation itself. This, therefore, must be sitt taken for granted, That wherever any gracious actings of, as God towards men are mentioned, the Holy Spirit is principally intended.


6. It must be duly considered, that whatever the Holy dan Spirit does, he does it according to his own will: and sexcord veral things of great moment depend. on this. (1.) The will and pleasure of the Holy Spirit is in all the grace that

Es of

he communicates to us. He is not a mere instrument or servant, disposing of what he has no concern in nor power over; but in all things he works according to his own will. We ought therefore to acknowledge his love and kindness ands in what we receive from him, no less than those of the Fa-ar ther and of the Son. (2.) He does not work as a natural agent to the utmost of his power, or as though in all his operations he did what he could; for he manages all his. works by his will and wisdom. And therefore when some are said to resist the Holy Spirit,' it is not to be understood that they can do so absolutely, but only as to some way, kind, or degree of his operations. Men may resist the means he employs, but they cannot resist him as to the end he designs; for he is God, and who hath resisted his will?' We must therefore consider what the means he employs tend to in their own nature, and what he intends by the the use of them. The first may be resisted and frustrated; the latter cannot. Sometimes, by that word which in its own nature tends to the conversion of sinners, he intends only their hardening: (Isa. vi. 9, 10.) and he can, when he pleases, exert such power and efficacy as shall take away


[ocr errors]


may be


or tak

men 1






[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »