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and principle in the performance of every duty, and in your whole course of Christian obedience.
Finally, endeavour to shew the world about you, how you rejoice in him. By your stedfastness to him, in opposition to all inducements to unfaithfulness. And by a cheerful demeanour strive to convince those who observe you, that you find his ways to be ways of pleasantness, and his paths paths of peace.
Be filled with the Spirit.
HE right disposition of our souls to God, which hath been insisted on already, concerns all the sacred Three in common; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But the gospel represents each of them, as sustaining different parts in the work of saving lost sinners; and accordingly directs us to distinct practical regards to each. We are taught on the one hand to have "access to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit ;" and on the other, to expect all benefits from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.
I have already discoursed of the Christian frame towards the Lord Jesus, or to the Son as Mediator: and would now shew, how Christianity requires us to be disposed with reference to the blessed Spirit, according to the account given us in scripture of his peculiar province; and have chosen to make this passage my
The precept in the text stands connected with several practical exhortations laid down in this and the fourth chapter; and is directly opposed to a caution given in the beginning of the "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess: but be filled with the Spirit."
Intemperance greatly prevailed in the heathen world; and even in some of the feasts of their gods, particularly in the feast of Bacchus; wherein it was commonly esteemed not only lawful, but commendable, to indulge to gluttony and drunkenness. The converts at Ephesus, saw this practice among
their neighbours, and possibly might formerly be themselves associates in it and therefore the apostle warns them against their old sins, and enforces the caution by putting them in mind of the farther bad effects, which used to follow intem"Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.” perance. The Greek word signifies dissoluteness, all manner of impurities.
These were used to follow the heathen excesses in their festivals, as they are too often the attendants of intemperance in common life. Now in opposition to this, the apostle exhorts Christians to be filled with the Spirit. Instead of the jollity and criminal pleasures, which sensual men are led to by the unrestrained indulgence of their appetites; you Christians should aim at the sacred and solid pleasure, which is to be had by means of the Holy Spirit.
This exhortation is addressed to those, who were supposed to be already Christians, and consequently to have the Spirit of Christ in some measure; and therefore must directly mean, that they should aim at a participation of him in a larger and fuller measure. But yet, as it is directed to the professors of Christianity at Ephesus, promiscuously, who, for ought that any but God and themselves knew, might some of them be still destitute of the renewing influences of the Spirit; so the exhortation may reasonably be taken in such a latitude, as to excite all who name the name of Christ to labour after a farther participation of the Spirit than they have already, according as their present state is; either to begin or to perform a good work in them. Those who are not yet made truly good by him, though it is not the immediate concern incumbent upon them to be filled with the Spirit, yet they are remotely obliged even to that; and in order to it, to take the necessary preceding steps.
I shall then discourse of this proposition.
That we are called by Christianity to be filled with the Spirit.
In the prosecution of which, I shall consider,
I. THE meaning of this phrase of being filled with the Spirit. Which will be some account of what the gospel reveals concerning the province of the Spirit in the work of our
salvation; and so will shew the foundation of the temper required toward him.
II. What is implied in this being made a matter of exhortation to us. Which will lead me directly to explain the dispositions required by Christianity in relation to the Spirit.
III. The obligations which lie upon all who profess Christianity to be filled with the Spirit.
I. I am to consider the meaning of this phrase, being fil led with the Spirit. Wherein two things are to be distinctly explained; the Spirit; and then being filled with the Spirit.
First, What are we to understand by the Spirit, with which we are to be filled? The observation of three things Inay give sufficient light upon this head.
1. That divine person, the third of the sacred Three, is plainly intended. He, in whose name we are baptized, as
well as the Father and Son. He is sometimes described in scripture by additional characters; as the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost; the eternal Spirit, Heb. ix. 14. The Spirit of God; and the Spirit of Christ, as he was purchased and sent by Christ to bear the part he sustains in the work of our salvation. "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ," Rom. viii. 9. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son," Gal. iv. 6. And frequently, as in the text, he is called absolutely, and in a way of emphasis by the name of the Spirit, without any addition, in places too numerous to need reciting. And that he is meant in this exhortation, may appear from a parallel phrase, which is frequently used concerning some in the New Testament that they were full of the holy Ghost, or Spirit which is said of Christ himself, Luke iv. 1. And of Stephen, Acts vi. 5. chap. vii. 55. And of Barnabas, Acts xi. 24. Now we shall most reasonably understand the apostle here to exhort Christians to be filled with the same Spirit, which those persons are declared to be full of.
2. The gracious influences and operations of this blessed agent upon our minds, in order to our holiness and happiness, are that participation of the Spirit, which we are to seek after. So he neces“Whither
It is not his bare essential presence with us. sarily is every where; he filleth heaven and earth.
shall I go from thy Spirit ?" Psal. cxxxix. 7. Though by the way, I cannot see how all Christians through the world could be directed to expect his influences, without supposing him to be possessed of that divine perfection of omnipresence. I can by no means apprehend it possible, that a finite being
should have access at once to all minds.
Nor are his extraordinary influences and operations in miraculous gifts the things intended. He acted as a Spirit of prophecy under the Old Testament. Holy men of God spake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," 2 Pet. i. 21. The Spirit of Christ was in them, testifying the things which they delivered, 1 Pet. i. 11. And in the primitive age of the Christian church, his extraordinary influences in various kinds were very extensive and surprising. God revealed the things, which eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor had entered into the heart of man, by his Spirit to the apostles and first publishers of the gospel, and enabled them infallibly to make them known to the world, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10. He immediately endowed them with supernatural qualifications for the services to which they were called, so that their enemies, were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which they spake, Acts vi. 10. He gave miraculous attestations to the truth of Christianity, by the gift of tongues, and by many other signs and wonders.
These were peculiar to that first age, and necessary to lay the foundations of the Christian church; but not designed or needful to be continued in after times. The revelation of God's will was then completed, so as neither to need or admit of any addition, Rev. xxii. 18. And sufficient attestations were then given to the truth of the gospel in the first age, and sufficient provision made for conveying the notice of them down to all after ages in an ordinary way, so that nothing more of this kind is to be expected, as far as I can perceive from the gospel.
All these influences of the Spirit were more directly intended for the good of others, than of the persons themselves who partook of them. Indeed in those days, while such extraordinary gifts were dispensed, the apostle exhorted Christians to desire a share in them, in order to their greater usefulness, 1 Cor. xii. 31. "Covet earnestly the best gifts." But even then, he directed them to the gracious influences of the Spirit,