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of the Romish Antichrist; I mean the churches of the Piedmontese valleys, which by so many judicious writers are supposed to be the two witnesses mentioned in the Revelation, who fled into the wilderness from the persecution of the beast, and prophesied in sackcloth. The accounts which have been transmitted to us of the principles held by them long before the Reformation, plainly show that they maintained the doctrine from the beginning. And as it is well known, that the Reformation took its rise from the gross and scandalous application of the doctrine of merit in indulgences; so all the reformers, without exception, were strenuous asserters of the doctrine of justification. Witherspoon,
Justification by Christ's imputed righteousness is the centrearch of that bridge by which we pass out of time into a blissful eternity.
That in thy righteousness,
To them by faith imputed, they may find
Of conscience, which the law by ceremonies
Cannot appease, nor man the moral part
Perform, and not performing cannot live.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
"There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
In the first part of our subject we have described man mechanically, and considered him to be the wonderful design and work of God himself.
The redemption of man has been considered as the work of the Son of God. He redeemed man from his bondage; made atonement and reconciliation with divine justice in his room and stead; and he has thrown over him a garment of imputed righteousness, by which means he stands justified in the sight of God.
We come now, in the third place, to consider the work of the Holy Spirit, or trace his influence in the new creation: "For we are his workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works." Eph. ii. 10.
When I review the long train of evidence, the examination of which we have gone over, both from scripture and men of sterling merit, the whole that we have been able to trace forms no more than the outline of the subject.
I stand amazed in the contemplation, and know not, whether to admire more, the infinite greatness of the Being as he is in Himself, or the infinite humility which he has manifested, in his attention towards us. What a marvellous condescension was it in the Son of God, when, for the purpose of human redemption, he took upon himself our nature and submitted to that series of humiliation and suffering which is related of him in the Gospel, and which excited, as indeed it well might, the desire even of the angels to look into it! But how does the plan of mercy continue to affect us by its sublimity, when we go on to behold the Eternal Spirit directing his attention to the same mysterious purpose! It was not sufficient, that the Son of God should redeem mankind by his blood, but also the efficacy of that high oblation must be imparted to every believer's breast, by the operation of the Eternal Spirit. In the ministry which he exercised on the minds of men, from the very beginning of the world, by prophecies, visions, and miracles, all preparatory to our Lord's advent, which we trace through the Old Testament; and in the immediate offices of his divine agency, revealed of him under the New, in regenerating our fallen nature, and taking the human heart for his temple; what an astonishing subject does the whole open to the contemplation of the mind of man; and what an awfulness and importance does it give to the scheme of salvation!
Whether the evidence adduced may have proved sufficiently satisfactory, so as to obtain the unreserved conviction of the persons, whom I had in view in this address; or whether either of those different characters may have condescended to attend at all to what hath been advanced, or have accompanied me thus far in the work, I know not. Earnest as I am, that the whole should not be lost upon
them, I can do no more, than in an impartial and unimposing manner, offer the proof of these great doctrines, as they arise from Scripture, to their consideration, and pray, that they may be rendered effectual to the purpose intended, under the divine blessing. To propose fair reason and argument, and to intreat a candid attention, are all that, upon such occasions, belong to the duties of man. To fasten conviction on the heart, is the province of God. And we have authority to conclude, that where a due regard to this first and predisposing cause of all, is kept up in the mind upon all subjects of doubtful nature, the humblest endeavours of human means become sufficient to bring about the purposes of the divine will. 46 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him: and he will show them his covenant." Ps. xxv. 14. But where this is wanting, the most powerful evidences lose their efficacy of persuasion. The vineyard, of which we read, though planted with the choicest vine, and situated on the most fruitful hill, and altogether in the highest state of cultivation; yet brought forth no fruit; because, after long expectation in vain of its produce, under all the advantages which it possessed, the clouds were at length commanded to "rain no rain upon it." Isa. v. 1-6.
But whatever the event shall be, to the inattentive, or to the unbeliever, I would fain persuade myself, that the humble Christian hath received, under divine assistance, the most ample satisfaction as to the truth of the doctrines, from the evidence which hath been produced. And having his understanding convinced, he is anxious to be led on to the inward conviction of the same, and to the prac tical effects resulting therefrom. Once convinced that the efficient ministry of the Blessed Spirit is exercised in the hearts of all true believers, to the great purposes of salvation; it is impossible to be indifferent or unconcerned in the examination of the personal interest which every man has in it. For howsoever satisfied be of the agency of the Holy Ghost, generally considered; and that it is by his operations that the Redeemer's merits are applied to the sinner's necessities; yet, if he have no evidence of such effects in his own heart; how great and important soever the doctrine may be in itself, it ceaseth to be so to him. All knowledge
upon this interesting topic, which terminates not in the personal application of it to a man's own bosom, is merely speculative: the being preached to or reasoned with, by a chain of arguments which end in the bearing of the ear, and pass away from the mind almost as soon as heard, are like impressions made on the sand. And fruitless indeed is all the attention which is given, either to the animating subject of the great Redeemer's love, or to the pleasing consideration of the ministry of the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, unless a man can add to both the comfortable assurance, that he is interested in the mercies he contemplates, and will ultimately participate in the blessings resulting from them. But when the serious Christian is led to know and feel his own personal interest therein; is convinced that Christ not only died for sin, but for his sin; and that the operations of the Holy Ghost are carried on, not in the world only, but in his soul also; the subject then becomes infinitely interesting, and the mind is gratified with the highest of all possible enjoyments, in the possession of that testimony, which the apostle speaks of with so much rapture, when "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Rom. viii. 16.
As this is, or ought to be, the great desideratum of every man's heart; to the attainment of which the several means of digrace are rected, and all the institutions of religion minister; I hope I shall be doing no unacceptable service, if my endeavours are exerted in assisting the serious Christian, towards the accomplishment of it. The subject itself is interesting, and as it leads to the examination of the heart, for the traces of the Blessed Spirit's ministry, it will form a very proper sequel to this Essay, and under the divine blessing, enable any man to satisfy himself, on that important question, which the Apostle seems to have considered as the truest criterion of a right faith: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?"
All that we can possibly discover, of those secret and mysterious proceedings, is from judging of causes by effects. And therefore, all that I shall venture to speak on this subject will be, to sketch some of the more striking traces of his ministry, as they are manifested in the conversion of the sinner. They may, and certainly
do, differ in various persons, but the prominent points are the same in all: like the form and features of the human countenance, which, however infinitely diversified, are sufficiently characteristic in every one, to indicate the species to which it belongs.
First-The nature of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of his coming.
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. John xvi. 7.
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. John vii, 39.
What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God? 1 Cor. vi. 19.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit which dwelleth in you.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live after the flesh:
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. Rom. viii. 11–17.
Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. viii. 9.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them; because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. ii. 14.