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rious beauty of it is obscured, the surface of it is skimmed over; a few parallel texts are brought in, and dark constructions put upon the words, and the passage left more obscure than when the workman began. There is nothing in your ears but swelling words and empty sound; and nothing in your soul but leanness and beggary. Instead of watering the trees of righteousness, or refreshing the bowels of the saints, these clouds without rain rather exhale or dry up all the dew of heaven that is on the soul, however refreshed before. Such workmen obscure and becloud the Spirit's work, cast a dimness on the brightest evidences, contract the most enlarged heart, and imprison those whom the Lord has made free indeed. This I know by woful experience. And it must be so; for, “ The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Personal properties also; or those properties and things which are ascribed to persons, are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit; such as will, power, mind, judgment, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, love, joy, grief, vexation, &c. for instance; “ All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." “Mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Holy Ghost.” “ And God that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the spirit.” And, “ The Lord of host shall be for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment;" “Upon
him shall rest the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Again, “ Now I beseech you, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit." Again, “ You received the word with joy of the Holy Ghost.” “ Grieve not the Spirit of God, by which ye are sealed.” “ But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit till he turned to be their enemy; and fought against them.” I cannot see how all the above-mentioned things can with propriety be ascribed to any thing but a person. To apply them to a quality, an accident, a name, or a nonentity, must be absurd to the last degree. And I have often thought that, if men were allowed to take the same liberties with the evidences of a purchase, a man's will and testament, title-deeds, and writings of estates, &c. that some take with the word of God, there are lawyers and counsellors wise enough to dispute every landholder in the nation out of all that he hath, and even out of his own personality and existence too. For it is but to prove that there is no such man, no such person; that it is only a name; and all the relative or personal characters are to be understood in a figurative or an allegorical sense; and that it means no more than a quality in man, or a power put forth by man on certain occasions; or that it signifies only the breath of a man's mouth, an accident, or a transient emanation, flowing out with his words when he speaks. Allow a wise lawyer or counsellor to go this way to work, and we should • soon see the greatest landholders in the nation begging in the streets.
Now, my dear brother, I must leave this subject for the present, submitting this my scribble to your perusal. And should your thoughts meet with any rubs in the way, as they rove; should any thing grate upon your ears; should any thing sound harsh;should any of the things appear to clash, or seem unintelligible; or appear low, mean, unworthy, or unbecoming the glorious subject; signify the same, and offer your thoughts freely; it will be kindly received by him who subscribes himself, in undissembled love,
Yours in Christ Jesus,
To the Rev. J. Jenkins, Lewes, Sussex.
DEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD, Having now a little time on my hands, I will reassume my former subject. When I began the last my mind was dark and my heart cold. Much work and many engagements at the time of Christ
mas had banished my former sweet meditations far from me; so that, when I came to sit down to put them to paper, I had them far to fetch, and all to collect afresh; but before I had been long at the work they came about me again, and I found myself rather happy in the return of my pleasing visitors. I left off after I had offered a few thoughts on the personal characters which the scriptures of truth ascribe to the Holy Ghost; and I shall now mention some few works and actions which the .. scriptures ascribe to the Spirit, and which are personal works and actions, such as none but real persons can do.
None but persons can bear record to the truth of any contract, covenant, or agreement; nor be admitted as a witness in such cases, or to any deed, or upon any trial whatever. But, “There are three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and there are three that bear witness on earth; the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood.” “ And we are witnesses of these things," says the apostle; “ and so is also the Holy Ghost; whom God hath given to them that obey him," Acts v. 32. The Spirit bears witness to the truth of the word; he gives testimony to the word of his grace, and to the truth of their commission whom he sends to preach it. He brings the righteousness of Christ to the soul; “ We are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit our God.” And he bears witness to our justification, and to our adoption. “He that believeth hath the
witness in himself.” And even in the court of a believer's conscience his witness is so powerful and effectual, that neither law, devil, nor sin, which is represented as crying to heaven: no, nor even conscience itself, is suffered to speak. And this witness is true, and is no lie; and we are to abide in him. I know that Jacob set up a pillar in Bethel, and that Laban and Jacob gathered an heap of stones together at Mount Gilead, and called them witnesses; but these were only to help the treacherous memory of persons, who are apt to forget, as Jacob did, when God bid him arise, and go up to Bethel, where he anointed the pillar.
Power and authority qualifying, equipping, and investing men with offices, must be personal works. “ You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” “ To one is given the word of wisdom, to another faith, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues; and all these worketh that one and the self-same spirit.” “ Take heed to yourselves, and to the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,” Acts xx. 28. And, “ As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost departed," Acts xiii. 2. 4. And they were forbidden to preach the word in Asia.” “ And they assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not." Now upon the whole, if speaking, teaching, leading;