Imatges de pÓgina

sions of the Spirit on the disciples of Christ; for when' the use and reputation of spiritual gifts is great, Satàn seizes the opportunity of introducing his own deceitful suggestions. Thus it was about the time of the reformation from Popery; and in this way of delusion he will still be more active, as God shall increase the gifts and graces of his Spirit in the churches.


Thirdly. There is in our days an anti-spirit set up against the Spirit of God, in his Being and all his operations; for this new spirit takes upon him whatever is promised to be effected by the Spirit of God. This is called by some, The light within,' though indeed it be nothing but a dark production of Satan on their own imaginations; or at best, the natural light of conscience, which some of the heathens also called a Spirit. This teaches them, instructs them, enlightens them; and from hence they expect acceptance with God and eternal life. Now, because this is a growing evil, our duty to Christ and compassion for the souls of men, require that we should endeavour to obviate it; not by railing and persecution, as some have done, but by giving a full, plain, and scriptural account of the nature and operations of the Holy Spirit. Hence it will be undeniably manifest what a stranger this pretended light is to the true Spirit of Christ; how far from being of any real use to the souls of men; yea, that it is set up in opposition to him and his work.

Fourthly. There are many hurtful opinions concerning the Holy Ghost gone abroad in the world; and entertained by many, to the subversion of their faith. Such are those whereby his DEITY and PERSONALITY are denied. About these there have been many contests; but they have generally been so managed, that though the truth has been vindicated, the minds of believers have been little edified; for the greater part of serious persons are unacquainted with the terms of argument, which are calculated rather to silence gainsayers than to direct the faith of others. Besides, our knowledge of things in general, is more from their operations and effects, than from their own nature it is so particularly with respect to God himself. In his own glorious being, he dwells in light inaccessible; but in the effects of his will, revealed in his word and works, we are to seek him: and thus, we obtain a better acquaintance with him than by the most di

ligent speculations about his nature immediately. Thus it is with the Holy Ghost and his personality. He is proposed to us in the Scripture by his properties, works, and operations; by our duty to him, and offences against him. Therefore, though I shall briefly explain the scripturetestimonies of his Deity and Personality, I shall chiefly insist on his administrations and operations; the due consideration of which will lead us into that assured knowledge of his being and subsistence which is necessary to direct our faith and obedience; and which will also throw much light on the whole economy of God in our salvation.

Fifthly. The principal occasion of our present undertaking is, the opposition that is now made to the Spirit of God and his work. Every thing of his is exploded and blasphemed. The very name of the Spirit is become a reproach. This indeed I have often wondered at; for, in the gospel, every thing that is good or holy is expressly assigned to the Spirit; and the state of men without him, is described as Christless and reprobate; yet many pretending to believe the gospel, are so far from desiring to partake of this Spirit themselves, that they deride those persons who avow any concern in him or his works. But such was his entertainment in the world at first; and we still find that the world cannot receive him.' Certain it is, that the promise of the Spirit was the grand support which Christ left to the church, to supply the want of his bodily presence, and to render the work of his mediation effectual but it is now uncertain with some whether the Spirit of God be of any use in the church at all! and they have not trembled to say, that those very things which are plainly ascribed to him in the Scripture, are 'the cause of all the troubles and confusions in the world.' Let them but have the word, outwardly revealing the will of God (as the Jews have to this day ;) and this being duly improved by their own reason, is all that is necessary to render their persons or duties acceptable to God. Of what use then is the Spirit of God? Of none at all, it may be, but only to make a noise' in the world; and to fill the minds of men with unintelligible notions.' Had not these things been said, I would not have repeated them; for death lieth at the door in them. So then, men may pray without him, and preach without him, and turn

to God without him, and perform every duty without him well enough: and yet all this while they would be esteemed Christians!

These errors are at present charged only on private persons: when they are received by churches, they occasion a fatal apostacy. From the beginning of the world, the principal revelation that God made of himself, was the unity of his nature, and his monarchy over all; and herein the Person of the Father was immediately represented. In this state of things, the only apostacy of the church could be Polytheism and Idolatry. Accordingly, the people of Israel were continually prone to these abominations; and were continually punished for them. At length, God put an end to their idolatry, by their total desolation and captivity in Babylon. Again they were tried with a new Dispensation. The Son of God was sent to them in the flesh. To receive and obey him was now to be the principal trial of their faith. Here also the greater part of that church fell by their unbelief. The Jews being rejected, the Son of God calls another church; founding it on his own Person, with faith, and the profession of it therein. Matt. xvi. 18, 19. In this new church this foundation is fixed; ' That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to be honoured even as we honour the Father;' and herein all who are properly called Christians agree. But now Christ being ascended to his Father, has committed all his affairs in the church and world to the Holy Spirit (John xvi. 7. &c.); and with this design, that the Person of the Spirit may be singularly exalted in the church. Wherefore the duty of the church now, immediately respects the Spirit of God, who acts towards it in the Name of the Father and of the Son and with respect to him it is that the church, in its present state, is capable of apostacy from God; and whatever is found of this nature among any, has its beginning here for the sin of despising his Person, and rejecting his work now, is of the same nature with idolatry of old, and the Jews rejection of the Person of the Son.

Probably some will plead, that what is said of the Holy Ghost must be confined to the first times of the gospel, when they were manifested by visible effects; and consequently that we have no other concern in them but as in a recorded testimony to the truth of the gospel. This is

so indeed as to his extraordinary and miraculous opera tions; but thus to confine his whole work, is plainly to deny the truth of Christ's promises, and to overthrow his church for we shall make it undeniably evident, that none can believe in Christ, or worship God in him, but by the Spirit; and therefore, if his communications cease, so must all faith in Christ, and Christianity too.

The doctrine of the Spirit, and his work on the souls of men, in conviction of sin, in godly sorrow, in regeneration and sanctification, and his assistance in prayer, have been preached in the world. Men have been taught that the great concerns of their peace and comfort depend on his sacred influences. They have been urged to examine themselves as to their personal experience of these things; and they have been solemnly assured, that if there be not an effectual work of the Spirit on their hearts, 'they cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' Multitudes in every age have received these as sacred truths; and are well persuaded that they have found them realized in their experience: but all these things are now called in question; they are looked upon as irrational and unintelligible notions. Hence it becomes indispensably necessary for us to 'search the Scriptures whether these things be so or not.' I know indeed, that most believers are so well satisfied with their truth, that they will not be moved by opposition and scorn; for he who believes has the witness in himself;' yet it is our duty to be so far affected by clamorous opposition to the truth, as to be excited diligently to examine the Scriptures for further establishment. And upon mature consideration of the whole matter, I shall leave the reader to his option, as Elijah did of old; If Jehovah be God, serve him; and if Baal be God, let him be worshipped.' If the things which the generality of professors believe concerning the Spirit, are revealed in the Scriptures, then let them abide in the holy profession of them, and rejoice in the consolations they afford; but if they are cunningly-devised fables,'-vain and useless imaginations,-then it is high time that the minds of men were disburdened of them.



The Names and Titles of the Holy Spirit.


we enter


to speak something of the Name whereby the Thire Person in the Trinity is peculiarly distinguished in the Scripture. This is the SPIRIT, or the HOLY SPIRIT, or the HOLY GHOST, as we usually speak.

It is generally admitted, that the Hebrew and Greek words translated Spirit, signify air in motion, a breeze, breath, wind; that which moves and is not seen. These words are applied in the Old and New Testaments to a great variety of purposes, because of some general ideas in which they agree; but there is little difficulty in discovering their true meaning; their design and circumstances, as to the subject treated of, determine the signification. Notwithstanding the ambiguous use of the words, it is sufficiently evident that there is in the Scripture a full and complete revelation of the Spirit of God, as one singular, and every way distinct from every thing else denoted by that name: and that whatever is affirmed of this Holy Spirit, relates either to his Person or operations. Sometimes he is called the Spirit absolutely; sometimes the Holy Spirit; sometimes the Spirit of God; the Good Spirit; the Spirit of Truth; the Spirit of Holiness; and sometimes the Spirit of Christ, or of the Son. The first, absolutely used, denotes his Person; the additions respect his properties and relation to the other Persons.


His name SPIRIT, is intended to signify his Nature or Essence; as he is a pure, spiritual, or immaterial substance. So it is said of God (John iv. 24) God is a Spirit, he is of a pure, spiritual, immaterial nature; not confined to place, nor regarding one more than another in his worship; which it is the design of the text to evince. It will perhaps be said, that therefore this name is not peculiar to the Third Person, but contains a description of the Divine Nature abstractedly. I grant, that the name Spirit is not, in the first place, characteristic of the Third


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