« EdellinenJatka »
The three first of these Points are pretty obvious, so that I need spend no Time in insistirig, on them.
ext called orld.
ift. By the Spirit here is undoubtedly meant that Holy Spirit which our Lord" promised he would send upon his Disciples, after he was ascended into Heaven ; and which accordingly came upon them on the Day of Pentecost, and which from thence forward was to continue with the Church to the End of the World. This Spirit is here in the Text called the Spirit it self, to Tepresent Him as a Person, because in the Verse before the Apostle had used this Word
Spirit in another Sense, viz. for a State and Rom. S. Dispensation. Ve have not, fays he, received
the Spirit of Bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption: That is, ye are not now in the Jewish Dispensation, which is a Dispensation of Servants, wherein ye are left to your natural Fears; but ye are in the Dispensation of Sons : Ye may now call God Father; For the Siirit it self (as he goes on), that Spirit who hath the principal Agency and Management of this new Dispensation, bears witnefs with our Spirit that we are the Children of God.
• But, 2dly, What is meant by being the Children of God? To this I answer, that to be a Child of God, in the Scripture-Phrase, is to be an Heir of Inmortality; or to be an In
heritor of the Kingdom of Heaven: Thać is to say, either in actual Possession of it, or in Right and Title to it. Thus our Saviour tells lis, that they which mall be Luke 20, accounted worthy to obtain that future World 35, 36. and the Resurrection from the Dead, can die no more; for they are equal to the Angels, and are the Children of God, being the Chila dren of the Resurrection. And thus our Saviour himself was stiled God's Son, as upon other accounts, so also upon this, that God begot him from the Dead, and exalted Pfal. 2. % him to an immortal glorious Life in Heaven. Thou art my Son (faith God ) this Day have I hegotten thee. Which Passage the Apostle applies to our Saviour's Resurrection. And it Ads 13. is with this respect that St. 7ohn speaks .33. Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, but it 1 John 3: doth not yet appear what we fall be : but we 2. know that when He mall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see Him as He is. So that to be a Son or a Child of God, and to have a Right and Title to eternal Life, is the very fame Thing. As also sufficiently appears from the next Words that follow after my Text, If we be Children, then are Rom. 8. we Heirs; Heirs of God, and Joint-heirs 17. with Christ : if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
But, zdly, What is meant by this Exprefsion of the Spirit's bearing witness with our Spirit ? Is it meant that the Holy Spirit
doth, by his secret Inspirations, his inward Suggestions to the Minds of good Men, possess them with an Opinion, or, if you will, with an Assurance, that they are the Children of God, and that they shall certainly go to Heaven, without giving them any Reason for it. Thus indeed it is commonly taken. But I can by no means think that this is the Meaning of the Words. I conceive that which the Apostle here meant, is this; that the Holy Spirit by the visible sensible Operations which he wrought in, and anongs Christians, gave an assured Proof and Teftimoniy to their minds, that God owned them for his people, and as such would glorify them with his son Jefus at the last Day. That I take to be the Meaning of the Expression. But now what these Operations were, or in what Way the Spirit did, or doth witness with our Spirit, is my
4th Inquiry ; which I shall dwell longer úpon.- And here it is fit we should take notice, that there is a twofold Witness or Testimony of the Spirit to our being the Children of God: The one, General and Publick, refpecting the whole Church, or the whole Body of those who'profess the Christian Faith, in opposition to all Unbelievers ; the other, Particular and Private, and only refpecting single Persons. Both these ways, I say, doth the Spirit witness with our Spirit that we are the Children of
God. And to both these ways, it is probable, the Apostle had Respect in this Text.
I. I begin with the publick Witness, First of all, I say, the Spirit gave an undeniable Proof to Christians, that they were the Children of God, by the publick Teftimony he gave to the Truth of the Promises of the Gospel ; in descending upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, and inabling them to speak all Languages, to cure all Diseases, to cast out Devils, to raise the Dead, to foretell Things to come, and to work all sorts of Miracles, for the Confirmation of the Christian Faith: And, which ought to be particularly taken notice of, when he gave them a Power likewise to transfer these Gifts and Powers upon others, even as many as they should lay their Hands upon; so that not only the Apostles, but a great Number of other Believers, in all Places, were able to work Miracles, for the Attestation of the Truth of Christ's Doctrine.
Here now was as plain a Testimony of the Holy Spirit to the Minds of all Chriftians, that they were the Children of God, that they had the true Religion among them, that they, in opposition both to Jews and Pagans, were God's peculiar People, and that he would at the last Day, when this World should have an End, own them
B 3 .
as such, and reward them with everlasting Life, as our Saviour had promised them.I say, here was as effectual a Witness of the Spirit to the Truth of all this, as was pofsible to be given. It was both a Witness to thenifelves, and to all the World: A Witness to their own Minds and Spirits, for their infinite Comfort under all their present Distresses, and for their Encouragement, to persevere stedfastly in the Chri
stian Religion, whatever Trials they should be called out unto: A Witness also to the unbelieving World, for their Confusion, if they did not quit their Infidelity, and enter themselves into this Family of God, this Society of Christians, to whom the Promises of Adoption and eternal Life were made
But it will be said, how doth this Witness of the Spirit concern us who live aç this Day, and see none of those extraordinary miraculous Effects of the Holy Ghost? How is this a Testimony to our Spirits, that we are the Children of God?
I answer, it is the same Witness and Testi·mony of the Holy Spirit with our Spirits, that it was when St. Paul wrote this Epistle. We do not, indeed, see now those visible Effects and Operations of the Holy Spirit, for the convincing us of the Truth of Christ's Promises, that were then to be seen; but the Reason is, because there is no need of it: for if that was a good Witness to the