Imatges de pÓgina

nal emanation or procession; the manner of which, is incomprehensible to us in this life. There is (2.) a procession of the Spirit, which is dispensatory; the egress of the Spirit, in his application of himself to his work; a voluntary act of his will. He thus proceeds from the Father of his own accord, in compliance with his sending him to render effectual the purposes of his will and the counsels of his grace.

Secondly. To the same purpose he is said to come :• If I go not away, the Comforter will not come." John xvi. 7. His coming signifies, that, by his own will and consent, he works in the pursuit of his Father's will, where, or what, he did not work before. And thus is our faith regulated with regard to the Spirit. For we may both pray the Father, that he would give and send him to us, according to his promise; and we may pray to him to come to us, to sanctify and to comfort us, according to the office which he has undertaken.

Thirdly. He is said to fall on men: While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.' Acts x. 44. A greatness and suddenness is intended; as when the fire (the type of the Spirit) fell down on the sacrifice of Elijah, the spectators were amazed, and cried out, The LORD, he is God!' Whereever the word is used, some extraordinary effects, evidencing his presence and power, are spoken of; and par ticularly when such a blessing was not expected.

[ocr errors]

Fourthly. Being come, he is said to rest on the persons to whom he was given and sent ;-as Isa. xi. 3, And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; that is, abide and remain. Thus the Spirit of the Lord rested on Elisha, 2 Kin. ii. 9. And the Spirit of God and of glory resteth on us.' 1 Pet. iv. 14. The word includes complacence and permanence. And he abides where he rests. 'He shall abide with you for ever,' said our Saviour. He came only, on some men, to actuate them for some peculiar work; but where he rests, as in the work of sanctification and consolation, there he abides with complacence and delight.

[ocr errors]

Fifthly. He is said to depart from some persons. Thus the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul' (1 Sam. xvi. 14;) and David prays, that God would not 'take his Holy Spirit from him,' Psal. li. 11. His departure from men

is his ceasing to work in them as formerly; and as far as this is penal, he is said to be taken away. Thus he departed from Saul, when he no longer helped him with ability for kingly government. The departure of the Spirit is either total or partial. Some have been made partakers of his gifts, have been enlightened, have professed the Gospel, and performed many duties, yet have been entangled with temptations, and conquered by their lusts, and turned again to folly :-from such persons, the Holy Ghost utterly departs; gives them up to themselves, and their own hearts' lusts; all their gifts wither; their light goes out, and they have darkness instead of vision. The case of such is truly deplorable! From believers themselves he may also depart; but it is only partially, and for a season; for being given to them in the covenant of grace, the promise is express, that he shall never depart from them (Jer. xxxi. 33.) utterly and totally. Our blessed Saviour assures us, that whosoever drinketh of the water that he would give him,' meaning his sanctifying Spirit, 'should never thirst;' never suffer a total want any more. This is a well of water springing up into everlasting life.' But as to the degrees and sensible effects of divine grace, he may withdraw for a time. Believers may be left to spiritual decays, and much weakness: "the things that remain may be ready to die.' He may hide himself;' or forsake his people for a moment:' and hence they may apprehend themselves utterly deserted and forsaken; but from such persons he never utterly nor wholly departs.



Prophecy,Writing the Scriptures,Miracles, We.

HERE is nothing excellent among men, but it is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, whether it be absolutely extraordinary, and above the production of natural principles, or whether it consists in an eminent improvement of those principles: and whatever he wrought in an eminent manner under the Old Testament, had generally, if not always, a respect to Christ and the Gospel, and so was preparatory to his completion of the great work of the new creation.

Those works of the Spirit, which were properly extra ordinary, were prophecy ;-inditing the Scriptures and miracles. Those which consisted in the exaltation of na tural abilities, to answer the occasions of life and service of the church, we shall find in things political, as skill for government; in things moral, as fortitude and courage; in things natural, as increase of bodily strength; or in in tellectual gifts, either in sacred matters, as preaching the word of God, or in artificial affairs, as in Bezaliel and Aholiab.

The first eminent gift of the Spirit under the Old Testament, and which had the most direct respect to Christ, was that of Prophecy; the chief end of which was to presignify him, his sufferings, and glory; or to appoint such things in divine worship as might be types and represen tations of him; for the highest privilege of the church of old was but to hear tidings of what we now enjoy. As Moses, on the top of Pisgah, saw the land of Canaan, and

in spirit beheld the beauties of holiness to be there erected, so the chief joy of these saints was to contemplate the King of Saints in the land that was yet very far from them. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired, and searched diligently, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you.' 1 Pet. i. 10, &c. The sum and substance of the prophetical work are declared in these words. God himself gave the first promise of Christ, which was the foundation of the church. Then by revelation to the prophets he confirmed that promise, giving them, from time to time, fresh discoveries of his person, sufferings, and glory. While they were thus employed, they diligently endeavoured to become acquainted with the things themselves; yet considering, that not themselves, but future generations should enjoy the actual exhibition of them. They also searched after the time of their accomplishment; both when it should be, and what manner of time it should be; or what would be the state and condition of the church in those days.

The communication of this gift began betimes in the World; and continued during the whole preparatory state of the church. God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.' God revealed many things to Adam himself, without which he could not have worshipped him aright; for though his natural light might be sufficient to direct him in the religious service required by the law of creation, yet not in the duties of that state into which he was brought by the entrance of sin. Hence he was directed to such ordinances of worship as were accepted with God; such were sacrifices. The prophecy of Enoch is recorded by the apostle Jude. And it is a matter neither curious nor difficult to demonstrate, that all the patriarchs before the flood were guided by a prophetical spirit in the imposition of names on those children who were to succeed them in the sacred line. Abraham is expressly called a prophet by God himself. Gen. xx. 7.

Now this gift of prophecy was the immediate effect of the operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus Peter testifies (2


[ocr errors]

Epist. i. 20.) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation' (or rather conception;) for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost :-it was not the fruit of men's private conceptions; nor subject to the wills of men, so as to attain or exercise it by their own ability; but it was given by inspiration of God;' the Holy Ghost actuating and guiding their minds. Wherever it is said that God spake by the prophets, or that the word of God came to them, the immediate work of the Spirit is intended. Thus Micah says, Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord. Mic. iii. 8. Thus David speaks: The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.' 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. He spake to them, or in them, by his holy inspirations; and he spake by them in his effectual, infallible guidance of them, to utter and write what they received from him without mistake.

Prophecy may be considered two ways: precisely, for the prediction of things to come; but in general, it signifies to interpret and declare the mind or words of another. Thus God tells Moses, that he would make him a God to Pharaoh ;'-to deal with him in the name and stead of God; and that Aaron his brother should be his prophet interpret his meaning, and declare his words to Pharaoh, Moses having complained of the defect of his own utterance. Hence, in the New Testament, those who expounded the scriptures to the church, are called Prophets, and their work Prophecy; because they interpreted, or declared, the mind, will, or word of God to others.

This peculiar gift of the Spirit consisted in inspiration, or in breathing; and it is so called, from the nature and name of the Holy Spirit. The name by which he is revealed to us, signifies Breath; and therefore when our Saviour gave him to his disciples, he breathed upon them.' This expression also denotes the gentleness and facility of his operations on their minds, whereby he gently and softly breathed into them, as it were, the knowledge of holy things.

The immediate effects of this inspiration were, that those inspired were moved,' or acted, by the Holy Ghost;' 2 Pet. i. 21:—that is, be prepared and elevated their in1

« AnteriorContinua »