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Heb. vi. 4.-" those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, aud were partakers of the Holy Ghost.” τις άπαξ Φωτισθεντας, γευσαμενός τε της δωρεας της επερανία, και μετοχές γενηθέντας πνευματος ἁγι8. 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.
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 eorum 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 πνεύματος 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.
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 • Vid. Euseb. H. E. 1. 3. c. 31. 1. 5. cap. 24. in Hieron. de V. I. cap. 45. Polycrates. 3 F
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 peacepeacemake 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.
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.'
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.'
Jerom says, that Lactantius in his epistles, especially those to Demetrian, denies the personality of the Holy Ghost: referring him, and his operations, as the Jews also erroneously do, to the Father, or the Son.'
And in another place he says, that this was the sentiment of many Christians in his own time, who did not understand the scriptures.
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
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.
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 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."
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.
that by these last this writer does not intend persons, though he ascribes to them the guidance of us, or other actions. In the Jewish language, and among the Jewish people, spirit would no more signify a person, than grace or mercy. Nor were they more likely to ascribe distinct personality to the spirit, than we to the grace, or mercy, or providence of God.
2. There is not in the Acts of the apostles, or in any other book of the New Testament, any account of the appearance and manifestation of a great agent, or person, after our Saviour's ascension: therefore no such thing was promised or intended by our Saviour, nor expected by the apostles, who could not but know his meaning.
3. In other texts of scripture, and particularly in St. John's gospel, by the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, is meant a gift, or a plentiful effusion of spiritual gifts. I intend John iii. 84. vii. 39. xx. 22, which were alleged not long ago.
4. Our Saviour himself has explained what he meant by "the Comforter."
So it is in one of those texts, upon which this objection is founded. John xiv. 26. " But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost," or, more literally, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost. Ο δε παράκλητος, το πνεύμα το άγιον. But by the Holy Ghost, in other places of this gospel, as well as in many other texts of the New Testament, is not meant, as we have plainly seen, a powerful agent, but the Divine Influence, or the effusion of spiritual gifts. This therefore is what our Lord intended by the Comforter. And this sense is confirmed by the book of the Acts, wherein is recorded the fulfilment of our Saviour's promise.
5. Our blessed Lord, in speaking of this matter, has made use of a variety of expressions: by attending to which we may clearly discern his true meaning in what he says of the Comforter. Matt. xxviii. 20. "And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." In John xiv. 16. lately quoted, he says: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." for ever." One and the same thing is intended. in both places. In the texts of St. John's gospel, upon which this objection is built, our Saviour speaks of the teachings of the spirit, whereby the disciples would be enlightened, and led into a clear discernment of his scheme of religion. But in John xvi. 25, are these expressions. "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs. The time cometh, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs, [or parables:] but I shall show you plainly of the Father." Here our Lord speaks of those teachings as his own.
In Matt. x. 20, it is said: "For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." To the like purpose in Mark xiii. 11. and Luke xii. 12. But in Luke xxi. 15, our Lord expresseth himself in this manner. "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay, nor resist."
Mark xvi. 19, 20. "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them," or the Lord co-operating, 78 xug8 GUVEрy8Tos, and confirming the word with signs following. Here the miracles of the apostles, after his ascension, are ascribed to our Lord himself, or his powerful presence and influence.
Acts ix. 17, 18." And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house: and putting his hands upon him, said: "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes, as it had been scales. And he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
Acts ix. 32-34. "And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints, which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Eneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him: Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. Arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately." I might refer also to Acts iii. 6. iv. 10-12. But I forbear.
However, I shall add a few other texts from the epistles, which 1 think are to the present purpose, and may deserve to be considered.
Rom. xii. 3. "For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among youto think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Ver. 6. " Having then gifts, differing according to the grace that is given to us."
Eph. iii. 6, 7. « That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and partakers of his promise in
Christ by the gospel : whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me, by the effectual working of his power."
Eph. iv. 7. "But unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ"--Ver. 11, 12, " And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.'
1 Pet. iv. 10, 11. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God: if any man minister, let him do it, as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To whom be praise and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen."
And 1 Cor. xii. 6. St. Paul says: "There are diversities of operations: but it is the same God which worketh all in all." And at ver. 28. "God hath sent some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles--.'
All which seems to show, that by the spirit is to be understood that special influence, which, in different measures and proportions, God vouchsafes to men through Jesus Christ, for their own comfort and establishment, and for spreading the great truths of religion in the world.
Luke xxiv. 49. "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you. But tarry ye
in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.'
This power, this divine influence, this effusion of knowledge, and other spiritual gifts, our Lord calls "the Comforter," or the Advocate, páros, as thereby their cause would be pleaded with men, and they would be justified in their preaching boldly in the name of Jesus Christ.
This gift, this divine influence, he calls also" the spirit of truth," because by that wonderful influence on their minds the apostles would be led into the knowledge of all the truths of the gospel, and would be enabled to teach them to others with perspicuity.
And our Lord speaks of the Spirit's "bringing to their remembrance" the things, which he had said, and of his. " receiving of his, and showing it unto them:" because by this miraculous influence upon their minds, those prejudices would be removed, which had obstructed their clear discernment of what Christ had said unto them, while he was with them.
There are other texts from which objections may be raised. But they may be as well consi-dered in the next section. And I think, that will be the shortest method.
TEXTS EXPLAINED. 1 Luke xi. 13. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Which is parallel with Matt. vii. 11. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?" Whereby we may perceive, that by the Holy Spirit is meant any good thing, conducive to our real happiness. And we are induced to recollect here what St. James says, i. 5." If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. And it shall be given to him." And see ver. 17.
2. Matt. iv. 1." Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. Mark i. 12. "And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness." Luke iv. 1. "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness."
The coherence will lead us into the true meaning of these words. Our blessed Lord had just been baptized, and the Holy Ghost descended from heaven, and abode upon him. At the same time he was solemnly inaugurated, and publicly declared to be the Messiah. There came a voice from heaven, saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Now therefore was fulfilled the prophecy in Is. xi. 1; 2. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might"---By that divine and extraordinary wisdom, our Lord was directed, and influenced, to retire into the wilderness. And having been there tempted of Satan, and having vanquished him, as St. Luke says, ch. iv. 14, 15..