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gion, 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 instanta- ; neous, 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 paysage 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.
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, “ the fruit of the Spirit,” the idea communicated is this, that they are all effected by his operation. This is called sanctification, to distinguish it from that instantaneous effect which is called regeneration. This is likewise ascribed to God, which proves the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. See 1 Thess. 5. 23. “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We may see, therefore, that the sanctifier of men is “the God of peace ;” and that he is the Holy Ghost.
Having fully proved his Personality, Deity, and Offices, nothing remains but the
IMPROVEMENT. 1. If these points have been fairly supported, it will follow, that a Trinity of Persons in the Divine essence, is a doctrine of the Scriptures. If we admit a plurality in God, there can be no difficulty in believing, that it consists in a Trinity. In this precise number of divine Persons, there has been an universal agreement, in all ages, among all classes of people, but the strict Unitarians—those who believe that God is one in Person as well as essence. Among all others, this harmony will, undoubtedly, be continued down to the end of time. This uniformity of sentiment, is a manifestation that the doctrine of the Trinity has not been fabricated by human art; for if that had been the case, the believers in a plurality of Persons in the Deity, would have differed widely in their ideas of the supposed number, in such an extensive world, and through such a long duration of time. This union of sentiment in relation to the doctrine in view, evinces, that it is founded on a standard which is more certain in its nature than the volatile imagination of man. Such an universal consent has
never been witnessed among the Polytheists of the heathen world, in regard to the number of their Gods. This fully proves that their schemes are creatures of their own imagination, and that our belief is the result of an unerring rule. To say, therefore, that a Trinity in Unity is not a doctrine of the Scriptures, is as frivolous, as to say that the sun does not shine upon us, when it is in its highest altitude, and without an interposing cloud between it and the human eye. Every passage that relates to the Divinity of Christ, is a proof of the Trinity; and so is every one that teaches us the Personality and the Deity of the Holy Ghost. As to this article of our faith, we need not be ashamed; for we may be always prepared to give an answer to every one who may be disposed to ask us the reasons of our hope, on this ground.
2. If the Personality, Deity and Offices of the Holy Ghost have been fully supported, then it will follow, that this subject, with the sermon that preceded it, give a powerful testimony in favor of the authenticity of 1 John, 5. 7. The passages which have been our themes in these discourses, completely establish the Supreme Divinity of the Son and the Holy Ghost, and their equality with the Father. The contested passage, only contains in itself what is clearly expressed in Rev. 2. 8, and in Acts 13. 2, in connection with a truth on all hands granted, namely: the Personality and Deity of the Father; and the union of the Three in one essence, and their acting in the capacity of distinct Witnesses.
If the Supreme and Eternal Deity of the Son and the Holy Ghost have been sufficiently evinced, the union of the Three in one essence, cannot be consistently denied ; for the Unity of God is a doctrine fully established in the Scriptures. Every thing, therefore, which is contained in the compendious text in debate, is clearly revealed in the