« Prev Chapter III. Next »
236

Chapter III.

Of the things wherein we have communion with the Holy Ghost — He brings to remembrance the things spoken by Christ, John xiv. 26 — The manner how he doth it — The Spirit glorifies Christ in the hearts of believers, John xvi. 14, sheds abroad the love of God in them — The witness of the Spirit, what it is, Rom. viii. 16 — The sealing of the Spirit, Eph. i. 13 — The Spirit, how an earnest; on the part of God, on the part of the saints — Difference between the earnest of the Spirit and tasting of the powers of the world to come — Unction by the Spirit, Isa. xi. 2, 3 — The various teachings of the Holy Ghost — How the Spirit of adoption and of supplication.

The things which, in the foregoing chapters, I called effects of the Holy Ghost in us, or towards us, are the subject-matter of our communion with him, or the things wherein we hold peculiar fellowship with him as our comforter. These are now proposed to consideration:—

1. The first and most general is that of John xiv. 26, “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” There are two parts of this promise:— (1.) Of teaching. (2.) Of bringing to remembrance. Of his teaching I shall speak afterward, when I come to treat of his anointing us.

His bringing the things to remembrance that Christ spake is the first general promise of him as a comforter: Ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς πάντα, — “He shall make you mind all these things.” Now, this also may be considered two ways:—

[1.] Merely in respect of the things spoken themselves. So our Saviour here promiseth his apostles that the Holy Ghost should bring to their minds, by an immediate efficacy, the things that he had spoken, that by his inspiration they might be enabled to write and preach them for the good and benefit of his church. So Peter tells us, 2 Epist. i. 21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (that is, in writing the Scripture); ὑπὸ Πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι, — borne up by him, carried beyond themselves, to speak his words, and what he indited to them. The apostles forgot much of what Christ had said to them, or might do so; and what they did retain, in a natural way of remembrance, was not a sufficient foundation to them to write what they so remembered for a rule of faith to the church. For the word of prophecy is not ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως, — from any man’s proper impulse; it comes not from any private conception, understanding, or remembrance. Wherefore, Christ promises that the Holy Ghost shall do this work; that they might infallibly give out what he had delivered to them. Hence that expression in Luke i. 3, Πυρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν, is better rendered, “Having obtained perfect knowledge of things from above,” — noting the rise and spring of 237his so understanding things as to be able infallibly to give them out in a rule of faith to the church, than the beginning of the things themselves spoken of; which the word itself will not easily allow of.

[2.] In respect of the comfort of what he had spoken, which seems to be a great part of the intendment of this promise. He had been speaking to them things suited for their consolation; giving them precious promises of the supplies they should have from him in this life, — of the love of the Father, of the glory he was providing for them, the sense and comfort whereof is unspeakable, and the joy arising from them full of glory. But saith he, “I know how unable you are to make use of these things for your own consolation; the Spirit, therefore, shall recover them upon your minds, in their full strength and vigour, for that end for which I speak them.” And this is one cause why it was expedient for believers that Christ’s bodily absence should be supplied by the presence of the Spirit. Whilst he was with them, how little efficacy on their hearts had any of the heavenly promises he gave them! When the Spirit came, how full of joy did he make all things to them! That which was his peculiar work, which belonged to him by virtue of his office, that he also might be glorified, was reserved for him. And this is his work to the end of the world, — to bring the promises of Christ to our minds and hearts, to give us the comfort of them, the joy and sweetness of them, much beyond that which the disciples found in them, when Christ in person spake them to them; their gracious influence being then restrained, that, as was said, the dispensation of the Spirit might be glorified. So are the next words to this promise, verse 27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.” The Comforter being sent to bring what Christ said to remembrance, the consequent of it is peace, and freedom from trouble of heart; — whatever peace, relief, comfort, joy, supportment, we have at any time received from any work, promise, or thing done by Christ, it all belongs to this dispensation of the Comforter. In vain should we apply our natural abilities to remember, call to mind, consider, the promises of Christ; without success would it be, — it is so daily: but when the Comforter doth undertake the work, it is done to the purpose. How we have peculiar communion with him herein, in faith and obedience, in the consolation received in and by the promises of him brought to mind, shall be afterward declared. This, in general, is obtained:— our Saviour Jesus Christ, leaving the efficacy even of those promises which in person he gave to his apostles in their great distress, as to their consolation, unto the Holy Ghost, we may see the immediate spring of all the spiritual comfort we have in this world, and the fellowship which we have with the Holy Ghost therein.

Only here, as in all the particulars following, the manner of the 238Spirit’s working this thing is always to be borne in mind, and the interest of his power, will, and goodness in his working. He doth this, — 1st. Powerfully, or effectually; 2dly. Voluntarily; 3dly. Freely.

1st. Powerfully: and therefore doth comfort from the words and promises of Christ sometimes break in through all opposition into the saddest and darkest condition imaginable; it comes and makes men sing in a dungeon, rejoice in flames, glory in tribulation; it will into prisons, racks, through temptations, and the greatest distresses imaginable. Whence is this? Τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐνεργεῖ, — the Spirit works effectually, his power is in it; he will work, and none shall let him. If he will bring to our remembrance the promises of Christ for our consolation, neither Satan nor man, sin nor world, nor death, shall interrupt our comfort. This the saints, who have communion with the Holy Ghost, know to their advantage. Sometimes the heavens are black over them, and the earth trembles under them; public, personal calamities and distresses appear so full of horror and darkness, that they are ready to faint with the apprehensions of them; — hence is their great relief, and the retrievement of their spirits; their consolation or trouble depends not on any outward condition or inward frame of their own hearts, but on the powerful and effectual workings of the Holy Ghost, which by faith they give themselves up unto.

2dly. Voluntarily, — distributing to every one as he will; and therefore is this work done in so great variety, both as to the same person and divers. For the same person, full of joy sometimes in a great distress, full of consolation, — every promise brings sweetness when his pressures are great and heavy; another time, in the least trial [he] seeks for comfort, searches the promise, and it is far away. The reason is, Πνεῦμα διαιρεῖ καθὼς βούλεται, — the Spirit distributes as he will. And so with divers persons: to some each promise is full of life and comfort; others taste little all their days, — all upon the same account. And this faith especially regards in the whole business of consolation:— it depends on the sovereign will of the Holy Ghost; and so is not tied unto any rules or course of procedure. Therefore doth it exercise itself in waiting upon him for the seasonable accomplishment of the good pleasure of his will.

3dly. Freely. Much of the variety of the dispensation of consolation by promises depends on this freedom of the Spirit’s operation. Hence it is that comfort is given unexpectedly, when the heart hath all the reasons in the world to look for distress and sorrow; thus sometimes it is the first means of recovering a backsliding soul, who might justly expect to be utterly cast off. And these considerations are to be carried on in all the other effects and fruits of the Comforter: of which afterward. And in this first general effect or work 239of the Holy Ghost towards us have we communion and fellowship with him. The life and soul of all our comforts lie treasured up in the promises of Christ. They are the breasts of all our consolation. Who knows not how powerless they are in the bare letter, even when improved to the uttermost by our considerations of them, and meditation on them? as also how unexpectedly they sometimes break upon the soul with a conquering, endearing life and vigour? Here faith deals peculiarly with the Holy Ghost. It considers the promises themselves; looks up to him, waits for him, considers his appearances in the word depended on, — owns him in his work and efficacy. No sooner doth the soul begin to feel the life of a promise warming his heart, relieving, cherishing, supporting, delivering from fear, entanglements, or troubles, but it may, it ought, to know that the Holy Ghost is there; which will add to his joy, and lead him into fellowship with him.

2. The next general work seems to be that of John xvi. 14, “The Comforter shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” The work of the Spirit is to glorify Christ: whence, by the way, we may see how far that spirit is from being the Comforter who sets up himself in the room of Christ; such a spirit as saith he is all himself: “for as for him that suffered at Jerusalem, it is no matter that we trouble ourselves about him.” This spirit is now all. This is not the Comforter. His work is to glorify Christ, — him that sends him. And this is an evident sign of a false spirit, whatever its pretence be, if it glorify not that Christ who was now speaking to his apostles; and such are many that are gone abroad into the world. But what shall this Spirit do, that Christ may be glorified? “He shall,” saith he, “take of mine,” — ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήψεται. What these things are is declared in the next verse: “All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore I said he shall take of mine.” It is not of the essence and essential properties of the Father and Son that our Saviour speaks; but of the grace which is communicated to us by them. This Christ calls, “My things,” being the fruit of his purchase and mediation: on which account he saith all his Father’s things are his; that is, the things that the Father, in his eternal love, hath provided to be dispensed in the blood of his Son, — all the fruits of election. “These,” said he, “the Comforter shall receive; that is, they shall be committed unto him to dispose for your good and advantage, to the end before proposed.” So it follows, ἀναγγελεῖ, — “He shall show, or declare and make them known to you.” Thus, then, is he a comforter. He reveals to the souls of sinners the good things of the covenant of grace, which the Father hath provided, and the Son purchased. He shows to us mercy, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, acceptation with God; letteth us know that these are the 240things of Christ, which he hath procured for us; shows them to us for our comfort and establishment. These things, I say, he effectually declares to the souls of believers; and makes them know them for their own good, — know them as originally the things of the Father, prepared from eternity in his love and good-will; as purchased for them by Christ, and laid up in store in the covenant of grace for their use. Then is Christ magnified and glorified in their hearts; then they know what a Saviour and Redeemer he is. A soul doth never glorify or honour Christ upon a discovery or sense of the eternal redemption he hath purchased for him, but it is in him a peculiar effect of the Holy Ghost as our comforter. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. xii. 3.

3. He “sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts,” Rom. v. 5. That it is the love of God to us, not our love to God, which is here intended, the context is so clear as nothing can be added thereunto. Now, the love of God is either of ordination or of acceptation, — the love of his purpose to do us good, or the love of acceptation and approbation with him. Both these are called the love of God frequently in Scripture, as I have declared. Now, how can these be shed abroad in our hearts? Not in themselves, but in a sense of them, — in a spiritual apprehension of them. Ἐκκέχυται, is “shed abroad;” the same word that is used concerning the Comforter being given us, Tit. iii. 6. God sheds him abundantly, or pours him on us; so he sheds abroad, or pours out the love of God in our hearts. Not to insist on the expression, which is metaphorical, the business is, that the Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal. This is his work, and he doth it effectually. To give a poor sinful soul a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him, hath thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense hereof, is an inexpressible mercy.

This we have in a peculiar manner by the Holy Ghost; it is his peculiar work. As all his works are works of love and kindness, so this of communicating a sense of the love of the Father mixes itself with all the particulars of his actings. And as we have herein peculiar communion with himself, so by him we have communion with the Father, even in his love, which is thus shed abroad in our hearts: so not only do we rejoice in, and glorify the Holy Ghost, which doth this work, but in him also whose love it is. Thus is it also in respect of the Son, in his taking of his, and showing of it unto us, as was declared. What we have of heaven in this world lies herein; and 241the manner of our fellowship with the Holy Ghost on this account falls in with what was spoken before.

4. Another effect we have of his, Rom. viii. 16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” You know whose children we are by nature, — children of Satan and of the curse, or of wrath. By the Spirit we are put into another capacity, and are adopted to be the children of God, inasmuch as by receiving the Spirit of our Father we become the children of our Father. Thence is he called, verse 15, “The Spirit of adoption.” Now, sometimes the soul, because it hath somewhat remaining in it of the principle that it had in its old condition, is put to question whether it be a child of God or no; and thereupon, as in a thing of the greatest importance, puts in its claim, with all the evidences that it hath to make good its title. The Spirit comes and bears witness in this case. An allusion it is to judicial proceedings in point of titles and evidences. The judge being set, the person concerned lays his claim, produceth his evidences, and pleads them; his adversaries endeavouring all that in them lies to invalidate them, and disannul his plea, and to cast him in his claim. In the midst of the trial, a person of known and approved integrity comes into the court, and gives testimony fully and directly on the behalf of the claimer; which stops the mouths of all his adversaries, and fills the man that pleaded with joy and satisfaction. So is it in this case. The soul, by the power of its own conscience, is brought before the law of God. There a man puts in his plea, — that he is a child of God, that he belongs to God’s family; and for this end produceth all his evidences, every thing whereby faith gives him an interest in God. Satan, in the meantime, opposeth with all his might; sin and law assist him; many flaws are found in his evidences; the truth of them all is questioned; and the soul hangs in suspense as to the issue. In the midst of the plea and contest the Comforter comes, and, by a word of promise or otherwise, overpowers the heart with a comfortable persuasion (and bears down all objections) that his plea is good, and that he is a child of God. And therefore it is said of him, Συμμαρτυρεῖ τῷ Πνεύματι ἡμῶν. When our spirits are pleading their right and title, he comes in and bears witness on our side; at the same time enabling us to put forth acts of filial obedience, kind and childlike; which is called “crying, Abba, Father,” Gal. iv. 6. Remember still the manner of the Spirit’s working, before mentioned, — that he doth it effectually, voluntarily, and freely. Hence sometimes the dispute hangs long, — the cause is pleading many years. The law seems sometimes to prevail, sin and Satan to rejoice; and the poor soul is filled with dread about its inheritance. Perhaps its own witness, from its faith, sanctification, former experience, keeps up the plea with some life and comfort; 242but the work is not done, the conquest is not fully obtained, until the Spirit, who worketh freely and effectually, when and how he will, comes in with his testimony also; clothing his power with a word of promise, he makes all parties concerned to attend unto him, and puts an end to the controversy.

Herein he gives us holy communion with himself. The soul knows his voice when he speaks, “Nec hominem sonat.” There is something too great in it to be the effect of a created power. When the Lord Jesus Christ at one word stilled the raging of the sea and wind, all that were with him knew there was divine power at hand, Matt. viii. 25–27. And when the Holy Ghost by one word stills the tumults and storms that are raised in the soul, giving it an immediate calm and security, it knows his divine power, and rejoices in his presence.

5. He seals us. “We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph. i. 13; and, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption,” chap. iv. 30. I am not very clear in the certain peculiar intendment of this metaphor; what I am persuaded of the mind of God in it I shall briefly impart. In a seal two things are considered:— (1.) The nature of it. (2.) The use of it.

(1.) The nature of sealing consists in the imparting of the image or character of the seal to the thing sealed. This is to seal a thing, — to stamp the character of the seal on it. In this sense, the effectual communication of the image of God unto us should be our sealing. The Spirit in believers, really communicating the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, unto the soul, sealeth us. To have this stamp of the Holy Ghost, so as to be an evidence unto the soul that it is accepted with God, is to be sealed by the Spirit; taking the metaphor from the nature of sealing.356356    Rev. vii. 4. And in this sense is our Saviour said to be sealed of God, John vi. 27, even from that impression of the power, wisdom, and majesty of God that he had upon him in the discharge of his office.

(2.) The end of sealing is twofold:—

[1.] To confirm or ratify any grant or conveyance made in writing. In such cases men set their seals to make good and confirm their grants; and when this is done they are irrevocable. Or to confirm the testimony that is given by any one of the truth of any thing. Such was the manner among the Jews:— when any one had given true witness unto any thing or matter, and it was received by the judges, they instantly set their seals to it, to confirm it in judgment. Hence it is said, that he who receives the testimony of Christ “sets to his seal that God is true,” John iii. 33. The promise is the great grant and conveyance of life and salvation in Christ to the souls of believers. That we may have full assurance of the truth and irrevocableness of 243the promise, God gives us the Spirit to satisfy our hearts of it; and thence is he said to seal us, by assuring our hearts of those promises and their stability. But, though many expositors go this way, I do not see how this can consist with the very meaning of the word. It is not said that the promise is sealed, but that we are sealed; and when we seal a deed or grant to any one, we do not say the man is sealed, but the deed or grant.

[2.] To appropriate, distinguish, or keep safe. This is the end of sealing. Men set their seals on that which they appropriate and desire to keep safe for themselves. So, evidently, in this sense are the servants of God said to be sealed, Rev. vii. 4; that is, marked with God’s mark, as his peculiar ones, — for this sealing answers to the setting of a mark, Ezek. ix. 4. Then are believers sealed, when they are marked for God to be heirs of the purchased inheritance, and to be preserved to the day of redemption. Now, if this be the sealing intended, it denotes not an act of sense in the heart, but of security to the person. The Father gives the elect into the hands of Christ to be redeemed; having redeemed them, in due time they are called by the Spirit, and marked for God, and so give up themselves to the hands of the Father.

If you ask, now, “Which of these senses is chiefly intended in this expression of our being sealed by the Holy Ghost?” I answer, The first, not excluding the other. We are sealed to the day of redemption, when, from the stamp, image, and character of the Spirit upon our souls, we have a fresh sense of the love of God given to us, with a comfortable persuasion of our acceptation with him. But of this whole matter I have treated at large357357    Perseverance of the Saints, chap. viii. vol. xi. elsewhere.

Thus, then, the Holy Ghost communicates unto us his own likeness; which is also the image of the Father and the Son. “We are changed into this image by the Lord the Spirit,” 2 Cor. iii. 18; and herein he brings us into fellowship with himself. Our likeness to him gives us boldness with him. His work we look for, his fruits we pray for; and when any effect of grace, any discovery of the image of Christ implanted in us, gives us a persuasion of our being separated and set apart for God, we have a communion with him therein.

6. He is an earnest unto us. 2 Cor. i. 22, He hath “given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts;” chap. v. 5, “Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit;” as also, Eph. i. 13, 14, “Ye are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” In the two former places we are said to have the earnest of the Spirit; in the latter, the Spirit is said to be our earnest: “of the Spirit,” then, in the first place, is, as we say, “genitivus materiæ;” denoting not the cause, but the thing itself; — not the author 244of the earnest, but the matter of it. The Spirit is our earnest; as in the last place is expressed. The consideration of what is meant by the “Spirit,” here, and what is meant by an “earnest,” will give some insight into this privilege, which we receive by the Comforter:—

(1.) What grace, what gift of the Spirit, is intended by this earnest, some have made inquiry; I suppose to no purpose. It is the Spirit himself, personally considered, that is said to be this earnest, 2 Cor. i. 22. It is God hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts: an expression directly answering that of Gal. iv. 6, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts;” — that is, the person of the Spirit; for nothing else can be called the Spirit of his Son: and in Eph. i. 14, he hath given the Spirit (ὃς for ); which is that earnest. The Spirit of promise himself is this earnest. In giving us this Spirit he gives us this earnest.

(2.) An earnest it is, — ἀῤῥαβών. Neither the Greek nor the Latin hath any word to express directly what is here intended. The Latins have made words for it, from that expressed here in the Greek, “arrha” and “arrabo.” The Greek word is but the Hebrew “herabon” [עֵרָבוֹן]; which, as some conceive, came amongst them by the Syrian merchants, being a word of trade. It is by some rendered, in Latin, “pignus,” a “pledge;” but this cannot be here intended. A pledge is that property which any one gives or leaves in the custody of another, to assure him that he will give him, or pay him, some other thing; in the nature of that which we call a “pawn.” Now, the thing that is here intended, is a part of that which is to come, and but a part of it, according to the trade use of the word, whence the metaphor is taken; it is excellently rendered in our language, an “earnest.” An earnest is part of the price of any thing, or part of any grant, given beforehand to assure the person to whom it is given that at the appointed season he shall receive the whole that is promised him.

That a thing be an earnest, it is required, —

[1.] That it be part of the whole, of the same kind and nature with it; as we do give so much money in earnest to pay so much more.

[2.] That it be a confirmation of a promise and appointment; first the whole is promised, then the earnest is given for the good and true performance of that promise.

Thus the Spirit is this earnest. God gives us the promise of eternal life. To confirm this to us, he giveth us his Spirit; which is, as the first part of the promise, to secure us of the whole. Hence he is said to be the earnest of the inheritance that is promised and purchased.

And it may be considered how it may be said to be an earnest on the part of God, who gives him; and on the part of believers, who receive him:—

1st. He is an earnest on the part of God, in that God gives him 245as a choice part of the inheritance itself, and of the same kind with the whole, as an earnest ought to be. The full inheritance promised, is the fulness of the Spirit in the enjoyment of God. When that Spirit which is given us in this world shall have perfectly taken away all sin and sorrow, and shall have made us able to enjoy the glory of God in his presence, that is the full inheritance promised. So that the Spirit given us for the fitting of us for enjoyment of God in some measure, whilst we are here, is the earnest of the whole.

God doth it to this purpose, to assure us and secure us of the inheritance. Having given us so many 358358    Heb. vi. 17, 18.securities without us, — his word, promises, covenant, oath, the revelation and discovery of his faithfulness and immutability in them all, — he is pleased also graciously to give us one within us, Isa. lix. 21, that we may have all the security we are capable of. What can more be done? He hath given us of the Holy Spirit; — in him the first-fruits of glory, the utmost pledge of his love, the earnest of all.

2dly. On the part of believers he is an earnest, in that he gives them an acquaintance with, —

(1st.) The love of God. Their acceptation with him makes known to them their favour in his sight, — that he is their Father, and will deal with them as with children; and consequently, that the inheritance shall be theirs. He sends his Spirit into our hearts, “crying, Abba, Father,” Gal. iv. 6. And what is the inference of believers from hence? Verse 7, “Then we are not servants, but sons; and if sons, then heirs of God.” The same apostle, again, Rom. viii. 17, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” On that persuasion of the Spirit that we are children, the inference is, “Then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” We have, then, a right to an inheritance, and an eviction of it. This is the use, then, we have of it, — even the Spirit persuading us of our sonship and acceptation with God our Father. And what is this inheritance of glory? “If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified together.” And that the Spirit is given for this end is attested, 1 John iii. 24, “Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” The apostle is speaking of our union with God, which he expresseth in the words foregoing: “He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him;” — of that union elsewhere. Now, this we know from hence, even by the Spirit which he hath given us, — the Spirit acquaints us with it. Not that we have such an acquaintance, but that the argument is good and conclusive in itself, “We have of the Spirit; therefore he dwells in us, and we in him:” because, indeed, his dwelling in us is by that Spirit, and our interest in him is from thence. A sense of this he giveth as he pleaseth.

246(2dly.) The Spirit being given as an earnest, acquaints believers with their inheritance, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10. As an earnest, being part of the whole, gives knowledge of it, so doth the Spirit; as in sundry particulars might be demonstrated.

So is he in all respects completely an earnest, — given of God, received by us, as the beginning of our inheritance, and the assurance of it. So much as we have of the Spirit, so much we have of heaven in perfect enjoyment, and so much evidence of its future fulness. Under this apprehension of him in the dispensation of grace do believers receive him and rejoice in him. Every gracious, self-evidencing act of his in their hearts they rejoice in, as a drop from heaven, and long for the ocean of it. Not to drive every effect of grace to this issue, is to neglect the work of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us.

There remains only that a difference be, in a few words, assigned between believers receiving the Spirit as an earnest of the whole inheritance, and hypocrites “tasting of the powers of the world to come,” Heb. vi. 5. A taste of the powers of the world to come seems to be the same with the earnest of the inheritance. But, —

[1st.] That by “the powers of the world to come” in that place is intended the joys of heaven, there is, indeed, no ground to imagine. They are nowhere so called; nor doth it suitably express the glory that shall be revealed, which we shall be made partakers of. It is, doubtless, the powerful ministry of the ordinances and dispensations of the times of the gospel (there called to the Hebrews according to their own idiom), the powers or great effectual things of the world to come, that is intended. But, —

[2dly.] Suppose that by “the powers of the world to come” the glory of heaven is intended, there is a wide difference between taking a vanishing taste of it ourselves, and receiving an abiding earnest from God. To take a taste of the things of heaven, and to have them assured of God as from his love, differ greatly. A hypocrite may have his thoughts raised to a great deal of joy and contentment in the consideration of the good things of the kingdom of God for a season, considering the things in themselves; but the Spirit, as he is an earnest, gives us a pledge of them as provided for us in the love of God and purchase of his Son Jesus Christ. This by the way.

7. The Spirit anoints believers. We are “anointed” by the Spirit, 2 Cor. i. 21. We have “an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things,” 1 John ii. 20, 27. I cannot intend to run this expression up into its rise and original; also, I have done it elsewhere. The use of unctions in the Judaical church, the meaning and intendment of the types attended therewith, the offices that men were consecrated unto thereby, are at the bottom of this expression; nearer 247the unction of Jesus Christ (from whence he is called Messiah, and the Christ, the whole performance of his office of mediatorship being called also his anointing, Dan. ix. 24, as to his furnishment for it), concurs hereunto. Christ is said to be “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” Heb. i. 9; which is the same with that of John iii. 34, “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” We, who have the Spirit by measure, are anointed with the “oil of gladness;” Christ hath the fulness of the Spirit, whence our measure is communicated: so he is anointed above us, “that in all things he may have the pre-eminence.” How Christ was anointed with the Spirit to his threefold office of king, priest, and prophet; how, by virtue of an unction, with the same Spirit dwelling in him and us, we become to be interested in these offices of his, and are made also kings, priests, and prophets to God, is known, and would be matter of a long discourse to handle; and my design is only to communicate the things treated of:

I shall only, therefore, fix on one place, where the communications of the Spirit in this unction of Christ are enumerated, — of which, in our measure, from him and with him, by this unction, we are made partakers, — and that is, Isa. xi. 2, 3, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord,” etc. Many of the endowments of Christ, from the Spirit wherewith he was abundantly anointed, are here recounted. Principally those of wisdom, counsel, and understanding, are insisted on; on the account whereof all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are said to be in him, Col. ii. 3. And though this be but some part of the furniture of Jesus Christ for the discharge of his office, yet it is such, as, where our anointing to the same purpose is mentioned, it is said peculiarly on effecting of such qualifications as these: so 1 John ii. 20, 27, the work of the anointing is to teach us; the Spirit therein is a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel, knowledge, and quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. So was the great promise of the Comforter, that he should “teach us,” John xiv. 26, — that he should “guide us into all truth,” chap. xvi. 13. This of teaching us the mind and will of God, in the manner wherein we are taught it by the Spirit, our comforter, is an eminent part of our unction by him; which only I shall instance in. Give me leave to say, there is a threefold teaching by the Spirit:—

(1.) A teaching by the Spirit of conviction and illumination. So the Spirit teacheth the world (that is, many in it) by the preaching of the word; as he is promised to do, John xvi. 8.

(2.) A teaching by the Spirit of sanctification; opening blind eyes, giving a new understanding, shining into our hearts, to give us a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; enabling 248us to receive spiritual things in a spiritual light, 1 Cor. ii. 13; giving a saving knowledge of the mystery of the gospel: and this in several degrees is common to believers.

(3.) A teaching by the Spirit of consolation; — making sweet, useful, and joyful to the soul, the discoveries that are made of the mind and will of God in the light of the Spirit of sanctification. Here the oil of the Spirit is called the “oil of gladness,” — that which brings joy and gladness with it; and the name of Christ thereby discovered is a sweet “ointment poured forth,” that causeth souls to run after him with joy and delight, Cant. i. 3. We see it by daily experience, that very many have little taste and sweetness and relish in their souls of those truths which yet they savingly know and believe; but when we are taught by this unction, oh, how sweet is every thing we know of God! As we may see in the place of John where mention is made of the teaching of this unction, it respects peculiarly the Spirit teaching of us the love of God in Christ, the shining of his countenance; which, as David speaks, puts gladness into our hearts, Ps. iv. 6, 7.

We have this, then, by the Spirit:— he teacheth us of the love of God in Christ; he makes every gospel truth as wine well refined to our souls, and the good things of it to be a feast of fat things; — gives us joy and gladness of heart with all that we know of God; which is the great preservative of the soul to keep it close to truth. The apostle speaks of our teaching by this unction, as the means whereby we are preserved from seduction. Indeed, to know any truth in the power, sweetness, joy, and gladness of it, is that great security of the soul’s constancy in the preservation and retaining of it. They will readily change truth for error, who find no more sweetness in the one than in the other. I must crave the reader’s pardon for my brief passing over these great things of the gospel; my present design is rather to enumerate than to unfold them. This one work of the Holy Ghost, might it be pursued, would require a fuller discourse than I can allot unto the whole matter in hand. All the privileges we enjoy, all the dignity and honour we are invested withal, our whole dedication unto God, our nobility and royalty, our interest in all church advantages and approaches to God in worship, our separation from the world, the name whereby we are called, the liberty we enjoy, — all flow from this head, all are branches of this effect of the Holy Ghost. I have mentioned only our teaching by this unction, — a teaching that brings joy and gladness with it, by giving the heart a sense of the truth wherein we are instructed. When we find any of the good truths of the gospel come home to our souls with life, vigour, and power, giving us gladness of heart, transforming us into the image and likeness of it, — the Holy Ghost is then at his work, is pouring out of his oil.

2498. We have adoption also by the Spirit; hence he is called the “Spirit of adoption;” that is, either he who is given to adopted ones, to secure them of it, to beget in their hearts a sense and persuasion of the Father’s adopting love; or else to give them the privilege itself, as is intimated, John i. 12. Neither is that opposite hereunto which we have, Gal. iv. 6; for God may send the Spirit of supplication into our hearts, because we are sons, and yet adopted by his Spirit. But of this elsewhere.

9. He is also called the “Spirit of supplication;” under which notion he is promised, Zech. xii. 10; and how he effects that in us is declared, Rom. viii. 26, 27, Gal. iv. 6; and we are thence said to “pray in the Holy Ghost.” Our prayers may be considered two ways:—

(1.) First, as a spiritual duty required of us by God; and so they are wrought in us by the Spirit of sanctification, which helps us to perform all our duties, by exalting all the faculties of the soul for the spiritual discharge of their respective offices in them.

(2.) As a means of retaining communion with God, whereby we sweetly ease our hearts in the bosom of the Father, and receive in refreshing tastes of his love. The soul is never more raised with the love of God than when by the Spirit taken into intimate communion with him in the discharge of this duty; and therein it belongs to the Spirit of consolation, to the Spirit promised as a comforter. And this is the next thing to be considered in our communion with the Holy Ghost, — namely, what are the peculiar effects which he worketh in us, and towards us, being so bestowed on us as was declared, and working in the way and manner insisted on. Now, these are, — his bringing the promises of Christ to remembrance, glorifying him in our hearts, shedding abroad the love of God in us, witnessing with us as to our spiritual estate and condition, sealing us to the day of redemption (being the earnest of our inheritance), anointing us with privileges as to their consolation, confirming our adoption, and being present with us in our supplications. Here is the wisdom of faith, — to find out and meet with the Comforter in all these things; not to lose their sweetness, by lying in the dark [as] to their author, nor coming short of the returns which are required of us.


« Prev Chapter III. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |