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to 11. In short, so many, so diversified, so constant, and so unremitting are the operations of the Holy Ghost on the hearts and minds of the Lord's people, that it must with truth be said, that he, and he only, is the almighty minister in the Church of Christ, and to him alone the whole efficiency of the gospel, both in work and blessing, is committed.
And, indeed, the beautiful order in the covenant of grace, and the economy of redemption, makes it necessary so to be. For, a the whole three persons of the Godhead all concurred in the vast design, and all guaranteed to each other concerning the several offices in the departments of grace, so it became essential, that in the carrying on and completing the work, each almighty person should be engaged in it, in bis own specific office and character, The Father gave the Church, the Son redeemed the Church, and God the Holy Ghost sanctifies the church. God the Father appears in the Old Testament dispensation, holding forth the promised Saviour with all his blessings, as coming for salvation; God the Son takes up the wonderful subject under the New Testament dispensation, as thus coming and finishing all that was promised in the Old ; and now, that the Son of God hath finished transgression, made an end of sin, and is returned unto glory, God the Holy Ghost is come down, agreeably to Jesus's and his Father's promise, to render ef fectual the whole purpose of redemption, by his divine offices in the hearts of the redeemed.. And thus the church is taught to give equal and undivided praise and glory to the united source of all her mercies, in the Father's love, the Son's grace, and the Spirit's fellowship.
It would be little less than the brief recapitulation of the Bible, to go over all that might be brought forward concerning the agency of God the Holy Ghost in the Church. From the first awakenings grace in the heart, until grace is consummated in glory, believers are taught to look to that holy and eternal Spirit, for his leadings and influences in and through all.
The regeneration by the Holy Ghost, in the first motions of the spiritual life, John iii. 3. the baptisms of the Spirit, so essential in the spiritual life, 1 Cor. xii, 13. the illuminations of the Spirit,
2 Cor. iv. 6. the indwelling residence of the Spirit, John xiv. 16,17. the receiving of the Holy Ghost, Acts viii. 15, 16, 17. the walking in the Spirit, Acts ix. 31. the renewing of the Holy Ghost, Titus iii. 5. the sealings and earnest of the Spirit, Eph. i. 13. 2 Cor. v. 5. All these, and infinitely more to the same effect, prove his sovereign and unceasing agency. But having already swollen this article be yond the usual limits, I must close the observations with only praying that holy and eternal Teacher in the Church of the Lord Jesus, to grant some sweet and precious token of his grace and power, by setting his seal in the heart both of the writer and reader, that the truth of his ministry may be known, and felt, and adored, to bis glory, and to our comfort and joy. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost; Rom. xv. 13. Dr. Hawker. What is the Spirit of Christ?
The Holy Ghost, truly residing (1 Cor. iii. 16.) and powerfully working in all them that are Christ's, (Rom. v. 5.) derived unto them from him, (Rom. viii. 2.) and knitting them inseparably unto him. 1 Cor. xii, 13. Eph. ii. 18. iv. 4.
Is the Holy Ghost given to none but such as are joined to Christ? The Holy Ghost is considered three ways. First, as the author of all excellency, even in common gifts of nature and reason; a strength and courage; Judges xiv. 6. arts and sciences; Exod. xxxi. 3. policy and government; 1 Sam. xi. 6. &c. in which sense he is given to many who never heard of Christ. Secondly, as the author of spiritual gifts; 1 Cor. xii. 14. so called, because, being sanctified, they are the means of edification; as the working of miracles, healing, languages, &c. yea, a taste of the heavenly gift, and of the good word of life, and of the powers of the world to come; Heb, vi. 4, 5. in which sense he is given to sundry reprobates, that are called, as hath been shewed. Thirdly, as the author of the perpetual, effectual, and vital influence of saving grace, from Christ the head, to every member of his body. John vi. 51, 57, 63. In which sense the world cannot receive or know him; John xiv. 17. but he is bestowed on the elect only, 1 Pet. i. 2, and those truly converted to the Lord.
Archbishop Usher's Body of Divinity.
As to the gift of the Holy Spirit, says a good writer, it is not expected to be bestowed in answer to our prayers, to inform us immediately, as by a whisper, when either awake or asleep, that we are the children of God; or in any other way, than by enabling us to exercise repentance and faith, and love to God and our neighbour. 2. We are not to suppose that he reveals any thing contrary to the written word, or more than is contained in it, or through any other medium. 3. We are not so led, or operated upon, by the Spirit, as to neglect the means of grace. 4. The Holy Spirit is not promised nor given to render us infallible. 5. Nor is the Holy Spirit given in order that we may do any thing which was not our duty.
I do not deny such an especial work of the Spirit, as shall be afterwards declared; but I judge that it is the communication of the Spirit himself upon us, that is here intended; for so the apostle declares his sense to be, chap. iv. 13. "Hereby know we that we dwell in God, and he in us, because he hath given us his Spirit." This is the great evidence, the great ground of assurance which we have, that God hath taken us into a near and dear relation unto himself, because he hath given us of his Spirit; and that great and heavenly gift he will impart unto no others. And, indeed, on this one hinge depends the whole case of that assurance which believers are capable of. If the Spirit of God dwell in us, we are his; but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; Rom. viii. 9. Here alone depends the determination of our special relation unto God. By this, therefore, doth God seal believers, and therein gives them assurance of his love. And this is to be the sole rule of your self-examination, whether you are sealed of God or no. Owen on the Spirit,
This testimony with our spirits is the sanctification of them, the subjecting of our wills and affections to his influences, acting upon us by the mediation of our own thoughts, yet discoverable to be from Him, by their opposition to our natural corruption. It is by the sanctifying grace of this Spirit dwelling in us, that we are euabled to "mortify the deeds of the body:" they that do so are led
by Him; and as many as are so led, have thereby a testimony, that they are the children of God. Our wills and affections had contracted by their corruption an enmity against God, and a love of the world and vanity: the Holy Ghost bends this perverseness, and directs them towards heaven. Dr. Glocester Ridley.
The Holy Spirit moves upon the minds of men in a most familiar way, so that his motions are not discernible by us from the natural operations of our minds. We feel them no otherwise than we do our thoughts and meditations; we cannot distinguish them by their manner of affecting us from our natural reasonings, and the operations of truth upon our souls; so that if God had only designed to give the Holy Spirit to us, without making any mention of it in his word, we could never have known, unless it had been communicated to us by some private revelation, that our souls are moved by a di vine power, when we "love God and keep his commandments." This imperceptibleness of the impressions made upon our souls by the Divine Spirit, was that which our Saviour signified to Nicodemus, by the similitude of the wind," which bloweth where it list eth, and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it com eth, nor whither it goeth." Dr. Stebbing.
The Spirit of God doth not bear witness with the spirits of the faithful, that they are the children of God, by an immediate oracle, voice, or whisper within them, in express words, pronouncing their pardon and acceptation with God, or saying that they are the sons of God. This is a vain imagination, and as dangerous as it is vain: it being apt to lead some good men into despair, as not finding any such whisper within them, and to expose others to presumption and the delusion of the evil spirit. Such a vocal testimony of the Spirit is no where promised in scripture, and therefore not to be expected by us. And that St. Paul means not here any such vocal testimony of the Spirit, is evident from hence, that this vocal testimony would be the immediate testimony of the Spirit alone, whereas the apostle speaks of a testimony of the Spirit, concurring and adjoining with the testimony of our spirits, that is, our minds and consciences. This testimony the Spirit bears, 1st, by those gracious
fruits and effects, which he hath wrought in us: which when we discern and perceive, we do or may from thence conclude that we are the sons of God, those fruits and effects being the sure badge and livery of his children. 2dly, by enlightening our understandings, and assisting the faculties of our souls, as need requires, to discern those gracious fruits and effects which he hath wrought in us. In this way of explanation, and in no other, it is easy to understand the concurrence of God's Spirit and our spirit in this witness or testimouy, that "we are the sons of God," and so heirs of salvation; and what part each of them hath therein. The Spirit of God hath the main and principal part; for it is that Spirit which produces those graces in us which are the evidence of our adoption: it is He, who, as occasion requires, illuminates our understandings, and assists our memories, in discerning and recollecting those arguments of hope and comfort within ourselves. But then our spirits or understandings have their share in this testimony too. For God's Spirit doth witness, not without, but with, our spirits and understandings, so that our spirits concur and cooperate, and act their part in this matter too; we making use of our reason and understanding, in considering and reflecting upon those grounds of comfort, which the Spirit of God hath wrought in us, and from them drawing this comfortable conclusion to ourselves, that "we are the sons of God." Bishop Bull.
The terms of scripture represent the Spirit of God as an assisting, not a forcing power; as not suspending our own powers, but enabling them; as imparting strength and faculty for our religious work, if we will use them; but, whether we will use them or not, still depending on ourselves. Agreeably hereunto St. Paul asserts that "there is no condemnation to them who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." The promise is, not to them who have the Spirit, but to them who walk after the Spirit. "To walk after the flesh," is to follow wherever the impulses of sensuality and selfishness lead us, which is a voluntary act. "To walk after the spirit," is steadily and resolutely to obey good motions within us, whatever they cost us; which also is a voluntary act. All the language of this remarkable chapter (Rom. viii.) proceeds in the same