« FöregåendeFortsätt »
gladness above thy fellows.” Psalms 45. 7. When the Pharisees accused our Lord with ejecting devils, by the power of Beelzebub, He denied the thing, and told them that it was done by the Spirit of God; saying “ If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” It was by the supporting power of the Divine Spirit, that Jesus passed through the pains of death, and rose from the grave. It is, therefore, said by the apostle to the Hebrews, that Christ,“ Through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot unto God.” St. Peter likewise says, that He was
that He was “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”
It is necessary, however, to remark, that the Holy Ghost exerted no such influence on Christ, as He does on men, in regeneration and sanctification. Such effects could not take place in Jesus; for He“knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” He was“ holy, harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” The Spirit's office, in His case, was to anoint Him for His work, and to perform the things which require the power of the living God. But although such operations were the peculiar office work of the Holy Ghost, yet, in a certain sense, they are ascribed to each Person in the Godhead, as might easily be proved, if it were necessary.
Those various operations were displays of the power of one God, existing in three distinct Persons. This is an inexpressible mystery; but it is a well established fact, and a broad foundation for the hope of believers. The extraordinary gifts with which the apostles, and other primitive Christians were endowed, are called “the fruits of the Spirit.” St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “ There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” As miracles were effected by the power of God, and by the Spirit, they evince that the apostle considered the Holy Ghost as being truly God. In relation to this class of His operations, this sacred writer says, “ But all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” It is also said in the same chapter, that "there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who worketh all in all.” But it is needless to enlarge; for the things which have been mentioned, fully prove the Personality and Deity of the Holy Ghost. Although such operations have çeased, we have sufficient evidence to believe that they were once exerted; and their importance in the kingdom of Christ was great, and they still serve to confirm our minds in the truth of the gospel. It must be a great crime, therefore, for us, under such advantages, to deny the Personality, Supreme Deity, and peculiar offices of the Holy Ghost. It should ever be remembered that there is a possibility of so sinning against Him, as to exclude us from pardon“ forever.” But,
2. I must proceed to speak of the common operations of the Holy Ghost among mankind. They have been exerted in every age, and will be continued down to the end of time. By the common operations of the Spirit is meant, those restraints which are laid on the human mind in regard to sin, and the fears which operate there about a future judgment and punishment. It is said in the Scriptures, that God withheld Abimelech from doing things to which his natural disposition prompted him. See Gen. 20. 6. It is thought by some, that all which is done with men in this case, is, to place motives before them, that are adapted to restrain them from moral evil. But as the hearts of men are in the hand of the Lord, we may be assured that they are kept back from many sins which they would otherwise commit, by a Divine operation on their minds; and that they have many feelings about religion, which they'would never have, without that Almighty energy. The Spirit is said in the Scriptures to be striving with sinners. God, therefore, declared to the Old world,
My Spirit shall not always strive with man." Gen. 6. 3. This proves that men in that period of time were the subjects of the common and restraining operations of the Holy Ghost. The literal Israel, in every age, have greatly withstood this kind of divine influence. This made the apostle say to them, “ Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” As this is the general character of men, we have that solemn admonition, “Quench not the Spirit.” Such agency on the human heart, evince the Spirit’s Personality and power. As He is restraining and awakening mankind in all parts of the earth, at the same time, His omnipresence is evident, and his proper Deity established. Although such operations differ in their effects from those which produce holiness, they are testimonies of the Supreme Divinity of the Spirit. Producing such effects among mankind in every place and age, is, undoubtedly, the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit, and it has a direct tendency to promote the scheme of redemption. If the wicked were not constantly and every where restrained, in a greater or less degree, there would be no possibility of living in the world—the gospel would be excluded from the earth, and the conversion of sinners prevented. But the Divine intention is answered by such
operations; for if it were the design of God to have them produce a saving change in sinners, nothing could hinder the event. Almighty power must be invincible. To believe differently is highly dishonorable to the character of the Lord of hosts, and an indication of pride, false confidence, and enmity against God. It may be truly said concerning such people, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!” The Lord is infinitely jealous of his own glory; and He will not give it to another.
It is now time to proceed in shewing,
3. What the gracious operations of the Holy Ghost are. It is not meant, however, that the operations which have been mentioned, are not gracious acts on the part of God. Restraining the unconverted from sin, is a great blessing to them, and also to others. In every favor that we receive, the Divine Giver is highly gracious. By the gracious operations of the Holy Ghost, we mean, however, that power which produces holiness in the heart, and conforms our lives to the revealed will of God. This is begun in regeneration, and continued in the work of sanctification. To effect these things, is evidently the office of -the Holy Ghost; and for their accomplishment, we have the promise of God. For such effusions of the Spirit, the fervent prayers of the church ascend to heaven. To have an acquaintance with the Spirit's influence on the heart, is an important acquisition. We are, by nature, wholly “dead in trespasses and sins ;” and it is by the power of the Holy Ghost, that we are made alive unto God. In regeneration, we turn from hating God, to the love of his perfections and glory. This change is always instantaneous, and is effected in a sovereign and gracious manner, by the energy of the Holy Ghost. To do this, He is sent down by the Father and the Son; and in his saving influences, He is fulfilling the eternal purpose of the One, applying the atonement of the Other, and executing his own peculiar office. As this work is his, it proves that He is truly God, which is the grand point in view. This doctrine may receive confirmation from the following passages, the first of which is, “Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” John 3. 6. The passage to be compared with this, is John 1. 12, 13: “But as many as received” Christ,“ to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
As this birth is effected by the agency of the Holy Ghost, and is called being born of God, we cannot but see, that the Spirit is God. This supports his Personality and Deity, and illustrates his office. That the Spirit, mentioned in the 1st of John, is the Holy Ghost, may be evinced from Tit. 8. 3, 4, and 5. "For we ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” This passage settles the present point. It proves, beyond the power of ingenuous opposition, that the God and the Spirit, by whose operation the hearts of the saints have been renewed, is the Holy Ghost.
In the commission to baptize, and in the apostle's benediction, he is distinguished from the Father and the Son, with the same clearness of 1 John, 5. 7, notwithstanding the opposition which is made to its authenticity. It is by the sanctifying operations of this glorious Agent, that Christians grow in knowledge and grace. Their
bodies are called his temples, and it is by his gracious power every right feeling is formed in their hearts. This appears from these expressive words of an inspired writer, namely: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance : Against such there is no law." In calling these things,