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The first book of the treatise is devoted to considerations of a general and preliminary nature. The promise of spiritual gifts contained in Scripture is examined; and occasion is hence taken to illustrate the importance of sound views on the doctrine of the Spirit, from the place it holds in Scripture; from the abuses practised under his name; from certain pretences that were urged to inward light, inconsistent with the claims of the Spirit of God; from many dangerous opinions which had become prevalent respecting his work and influence; and from the opposition directly offered to the Spirit and his work in the world, chap. i. The name and titles of the Holy Spirit are next considered, ii. The evidence of his divine nature and personality follows, from the formula of our initiation into the covenant, Matt. xxviii. 19; from the visible sign of his personal existence, Matt. iii. 16; from the personal properties ascribed to him; from the personal acts he performs; and from those acts towards him on the part of men which imply his personality. A short proof of his Godhead, from the divine names he receives, and the divine properties ascribed to him, is appended to the argument in illustration of his personality, iii. The work of the Spirit in the old creation, in reference to the heavens, to the earth, to man, and to the continued sustentation of the universe, is fully explained, iv. The dispensation of the Spirit is illustrated in reference to the Father as giving, sending him, etc., and in reference to his own voluntary and personal agency as proceeding, coming, etc., v.
In the second book, the peculiar operations of the Holy Spirit under the old testament, and in preparation for the new, are considered, such as prophecy, inspiration, 4miracles, and other gifts, i. The importance of the Holy Spirit in the new creation is proved by the fact that he is the subject of the great promise in sacred Scripture respecting new testament times, ii. His work in reference to Christ is unfolded under a twofold aspect, — 1. As it bore on himself, in framing his human nature, iii.; sanctifying it in the instant of conception, filling it with the needful grace, anointing it with extraordinary gifts, conveying to it miraculous powers, guiding, comforting, and supporting Christ, enabling him to offer himself without spot unto God, preserving his human nature in the state of the dead, raising it from the grave, and finally glorifying it; and, 2. As he secures, throughout successive ages, a sound and explicit testimony to the person and work of Christ, iv. General considerations are urged regarding the work of the Spirit in the new creation, as it relates to the mystical body of Christ, — all believers, v.
The third book is occupied with the subject of regeneration as the especial work of the Spirit; it is shown not to consist in baptism merely, or external reformation, or enthusiastic raptures, i. The operations of the Spirit preparatory to regeneration are exhibited, such as illumination, conviction, etc., ii. Two important chapters of a digressive character follow, in which the condition of man by nature is stated, as spiritually blind and impotent, iii., and as spiritually dead, iv. The true nature of regeneration is next illustrated, — first negatively, under which head it is proved not to consist in any result of moral suasion, moral suasion being defined, and the extent of its efficacy being fixed. No change which it can effect can be viewed as tantamount to regeneration, because, — 1. It leaves the will undetermined; 2. Imparts no supernatural strength; 3. Is not all we pray for when we pray for efficient grace; 4. And does not actually produce regeneration or conversion. Regeneration is then considered positively, as implying all the moral operation which means can effect, and not only a moral but a physical immediate operation of the Spirit, and the irresistibility of this internal efficiency on the minds of men. After explanations to the effect that the Holy Ghost in regeneration acts according to our mental nature, does not act upon us by an influence such as inspiration, and offers no violence to the will, three arguments in support of this view of regeneration are given, — from the collation of faith by the power of God, from the victorious efficacy of internal grace as attested by Scripture, and from the nature of the work itself as described in various terms of Scripture, “quickening,” “regeneration,” etc., and also from the terms in which the effect of grace on the different faculties of the soul is represented, v. The manner of conversion is then explained in the instance of Augustine, the account by that eminent father of his own conversion being selected to illustrate both the outward means of conversion, and the various degrees and effects of spiritual influence on the human mind, vi.
The fourth book discusses the doctrine of sanctification, which is exhibited as the process completing what the act of regeneration has begun. A general view is then given of the nature of sanctification, as consisting, 1. In external dedication; and, 2. In internal purification, i. Its progressive character is unfolded, ii.; and that it is a gracious process, extending to believers only, is proved, iii. Sanctification, so far as it relates to the removal of spiritual defilement, is illustrated; and that man cannot purge himself from his natural pravity is proved, iv. It is shown how the Spirit and blood of Christ are effectual to the purgation of the heart and conscience, the Spirit efficaciously, the blood of Christ meritoriously, faith as the instrumental cause, and afflictions as a subordinate instrumentality, v. The positive work of sanctification follows, embracing evidence of two propositions: 1. That the Spirit implants a supernatural habit and principle enabling believers to obey the divine will, and differing from all natural habits, intellectual or moral; and, 2. That grace is requisite for every act of acceptable obedience. Under the first proposition four things are considered, — the reality of the principle asserted; its nature in inclining the will; the power as well as the inclination it imparts; and, lastly, its specific difference from all other habits, vi. Under the second proposition the acts and duties of holiness are reviewed, and proof supplied of the necessity of grace for them, vii. The nature of the mortification of sin, as a special part of sanctification, is considered; directions for this spiritual exercise are given; particular means for the mortification of sin are specified; and certain errors respecting this duty corrected, viii.
The fifth book simply contains arguments for the necessity of holiness, — from the nature of God, i.; from eternal election, ii.; from the divine commands, iii.; from the mission of Christ, iv.; and from our condition in this world, v.— Ed.
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