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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 hearing 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 grace are directed, 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, liowever 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 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 you, be 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.
For 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.
Besides referring back to the former article concerning this Almighty Lord, it may be proper to subjoin some of the names and offices by which God the Holy Ghost is known in Scripture. I say some, for to bring forward all, is perhaps beyond the power or the province of man. Our blessed Lord, over and above the sacred names the Holy Ghost hath in common with the Father and the Son, in the essence of the Godhead, hath graciously taught his Church the special titles and appellations by which the Lord the Spirit is known. He is called the Spirit of Truth by Jesus, that leads his Church into all truth, John xiv. 17. Jesus speaks of him as a witness to testify of him. John xv. 26. And his servant, the apostle Paul, following the steps of his divine Master, calls the Holy Ghost by the same name. See a beautiful account of the Almighty Spirit to this amount, Rom. viii. 1-16. As the Holy Ghost the Comforter, the Lord Jesus most blessedly describes him, John xiv. 16. 26. Indeed, this is his great work; for, under whatever divine operations the Lord the Spirit brings the people of God, the first and ultimate design of the whole is for consolation. Hence Paul prays for the communion and fellowship of the Holy Ghost to be with the Church, 2 Cor. xiii. 14. And it is most blessed to every child of God, when brought into the fellowship and commu ́nion of the Holy Ghost, to discover how that Spirit opens a communication between Christ and the soul, and keeps it open by the ex ́ercises of his grace; so that, while the person of the Father, or the Son, is coming forth to bless the soul, he draws forth and leads out the actings of the soul's faith and love upon the glorious Persons ́of the Godhead, and gives a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
The Lord Jesus also points to the person and office of the Holy 'Ghost, as a leader and guide to his chosen, John xvi. 13.; as a glorifier of Jesus, John xvi. 14.; as the remembrancer of Jesus, John xiv. 26. And, as the prophet Isaiah had been commanded to tell the Church of this sovereign Lord, under his almighty offices, as acting with a spirit of judgment, and with a spirit of burning, Isa. iv. 4. the Lord Jesus more fully opens the nature of these heartsearching works of the Holy Ghost, in showing that it consists in convincing of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. John xvi. 8