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ACTS XIII. 2.
The Holy Ghost said, Seperate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.
THE Personality and Supreme Deity of the Holy Ghost have been fully evinced in the preceding Sermon. I must now proceed in showing,
III. What the peculiar offices are, which he sustains.
His Almighty power has been clearly proved, in the general observations which were made on His creating operations. His equality with the Father and the Son, and his unity in the same essence, have also been established beyond the possibility of a reasonable contradiction. But He executes certain offices in the economy of redemption, which are peculiar to Himself, which manifest His Deity in a very glorious manner. In dwelling on these offices, we shall be led to a view of His extraordinary, common and gracious operations. It is the prerogative of the Father, to vindicate the rights of the Godhead-the peculiar office of the Son to make an atonement for sin, and intercede for believers; but it is the special work of the Holy Ghost, to prepare men for the service of God on earth; and for eternal glory in heaven. In this arrangement of offices, infinite wisdom and benevolence appear in beautiful
order and harmony. We may, therefore, look up to each Person in the Divine essence, as sustaining an important part in the stupendous plan and work of salvation.
This shows the fallacy of that Anti-Trinitarian objection, namely:-That our system leads us to view the Father as being void of love-possessing a vindictive and cruel character; and to admire the Son and the Holy Ghost, as our particular Deliverers from the wrath of this angry Person in the Godhead. Such sayings manifest their want of knowledge, in relation to that scheme of mercy which we believe, and show the probable hostility of their heart, to the wonderful plan of redeeming love.
We can have no such feelings towards the Father as they suppose, for it is an essential part of the system which we have adopted, to believe that, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Father fully approves of the work of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and they cordially approve of His vindication of the rights of the Godhead. There is an infinite harmony in their council; and their operations are expressions of an equal benevolence. No one Person in God is, therefore, entitled to an exclusive share of our worship, or esteem. Salvation is the result of the unlimited love, and united council and operations, of the eternal and Triune JEHOVAH.
But it is with the offices of the Holy Ghost, that we are, at present, especially concerned. As he is a distinct Person in the Divine essence, it is necessary for us to understand His character and work-to know that He possesses equal eternity, power and glory with the Father and the Son, that every one of His operations evince his Supreme Deity. And,
I. His extraordinary agency will be noticed, in the great plan of redeeming grace. It was frequently exerted
in the ancient ages; but as the Divine design in that case is fully answered,it has been long discontinued; and, probably, it will never again be displayed. By this operation of the Holy Ghost, miracles were performed, and events predicted, which have transpired in the past periods of time, and will be continually taking place down to the end of the world. Such operations were necessary to display the glory of God, and to confirm our faith in revealed religion.
It was the power of this Person, in the Divine essence, that was displayed in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, in various ways. It was by His operation that Moses was inspired to write the first five books of the Old Testament; for it is asserted by an apostle, "That no prophecy of the Scriptures is of any private interpretation. 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." 2 Peter. 1. 20, 21. This truth is corroborated by St. Paul, in saying, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." 2 Tim. 3. 16. To be "moved by the Holy Ghost," and to be inspired of God, are the same thing; and, therefore, the Supreme Deity of the Spirit is irresistibly proved. All the extraordinary events which transpired under the ancient dispensation, were performed by the power of the Holy Ghost, as His peculiar office-work. His operations were also exerted in a high degree on the human nature of Jesus Christ, and in all the marvellous things which He did in the view of
To this fact, John bear record in saying, "I saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and it abode upon Him." A sacred writer says, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." The Psalmist, therefore, saith to the Son, "God, thy God, hath annointed thee with the oil of
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 "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 ceased, 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 reli