|« Prev||Chapter IV. Peculiar works of the Holy Spirit in…||Next »|
Chapter IV. Peculiar works of the Holy Spirit in the first or old creation.
Things to be observed in divine operations — The works of God, how ascribed absolutely unto God, and how distinctly to each person — The reason hereof — Perfecting acts in divine works ascribed unto the Holy Spirit, and why — Peculiar works of the Spirit with respect unto the old creation — The parts of the old creation — Heaven and its host — What the host of heaven — The host of the earth — The host of heaven completed by the Spirit — And of the earth — His moving on the old creation, Ps. civ. 30 — The creation of man; the work of the Spirit therein — The work of the Spirit in the preservation of all things when created, natural and moral — Farther instances thereof, in and out of the church — Work of the Spirit of God in the old creation, why sparingly delivered.
Intending to treat of the operations of the Holy Ghost, or those which are peculiar unto him, some things must be premised concerning 93the operation of the Godhead in general, and the manner thereof; and they are such as are needful to guide us in many passages of the Scripture, and to direct us aright in the things in particular which now lie before us. I say, then, —
1. That all divine operations are usually ascribed
unto God absolutely. So it is said God made all things; and so of
all other works, whether in nature or in grace. And the reason hereof is,
because the several persons are undivided in their operations, acting all
by the same will, the same wisdom, the same power. Every person,
therefore, is the author of every work of God, because each person is God,
and the divine nature is the same undivided principle of all divine
operations;3636 Μία ἄρα καὶ ἐκ τούτων, ἡ
τῆς Τρίαδος ἐνέργεια δείκνυατι. Οὐ γὰρ ὡς παρ’ ἐκάσοτυ διάφορα, καὶ
διηρημένα τὰ διδόμενα σημαίνει ὁ ἀπόστολος. Ἀλλ’ ὅτι τὰ διδόμενα ἐν Τριάδι
δίδοται, καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐξ ἑνὸς Θεοῦ ἐστι. — Athanas. Epistol. [i. 31] ad Serapionem.
Μίαν ἐνέργειαν ὁρῶμεν πατρὸς καὶ υἱοῦ, καὶ ἁγίου πνεύματος. Basil. Homil. xvii., in Sanctum Baptisma. Ὧν αἱ αὐται ἐνέργειαι τούτων καὶ οὐσία μία, ἐνέργεια δὲ υἱοῦ καὶ πατρὸς μία ὡς τὸ· ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον. Καὶ πάλιν· ἃ γὰρ ἄν ὁ πατὴρ ποιῇ ταῦτα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς ὁμοίως ποιεῖ. Ἄρα καὶ οὐσία μία πατρὸς καὶ υἱοῦ. — Idem advers. Eunom., lib. iv.
“Quicquid de Spiritu Sancto diximus hoc similiter de Patre et Filio communiter et indivise volumus intelligi; quia sancta et inseparabilis Trinitas nunquam aliquid se sigillatim operari noverit.” — Ambros. in Symbol Apost. cap. ix. and this ariseth from the unity of the persons in the same essence. But as to the manner of subsistence therein, there is distinction, relation, and order between and among them; and hence there is no divine work but is distinctly assigned unto each person, and eminently unto one. So is it in the works of the old creation, and so in the new, and in all particulars of them. Thus, the creation of the world is distinctly ascribed to the Father as his work, Acts iv. 24; and to the Son as his, John i. 3; and also to the Holy Spirit, Job xxxiii. 4; but by the way of eminence to the Father, and absolutely to God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The reason, therefore, why the works of God are thus distinctly ascribed unto each person is because, in the undivided operation of the divine nature, each person doth the same work in the order of their subsistence; not one as the instrument of the other, or merely employed by the other, but as one common principle of authority, wisdom, love, and power. How come they, then, eminently to be assigned one to one person, another to another? as unto the Father are assigned opera naturæ, the works of nature, or the old creation; to the Son, opera gratiæ procuratæ, all divine operations that belong unto the recovery of mankind by grace; and unto the Spirit, opera gratiæ applicatcæ, the works of God whereby grace is made effectual unto us. And this is done, — (1.) When3737 Πάντα τὰ θεοπρεπῶς λέγόμενα ἐπὶ τῆς ὑπερουσίου τρίαδος καθ’ ἑκάστης τῶν τριῶν ὑποστάσεων ἐξιδιοῦται καὶ ἐναρμόττεται πλὴν ἃ τὴν προαγωγὴν τούτων, ἤγουν τὴν ὑποστασικὴν γνώρισιν ἐμποιοῦνται. — Arethas, in Apocal. Commentar. cap. 1. any especial impression is made of the especial property of any person on any 94work; then is that work assigned peculiarly to that person. So there is of the power and authority of the Father on the old creation, and of the grace and wisdom of the Son on the new. (2.) Where there is a peculiar condescension of any person unto a work, wherein the others have no concurrence but by approbation and consent. Such was the susception of the human nature by the Son, and all that he did therein; and such was the condescension of the Holy Ghost also unto his office, which entitles him peculiarly and by way of eminence unto his own immediate works.
2. Whereas the order3838 “Hoc non est inæqualitas substantiæ, sed ordo naturæ; non quod alter esset prior altero, sed quod alter esset ex altero.” — Aug. lib. iii. contra Maxentium, cap. 14. of operation among the distinct persons depends on the order of their subsistence in the blessed Trinity, in every great work of God, the concluding, completing, perfecting acts are ascribed unto the Holy Ghost.3939 Πᾶσα ἐνέργεια ἡ θεόθεν ἐπὶ τὴν κτίσιν διήκουσα, καὶ κατὰ τὰς πολυτρόπους ἐννοίας ὀνομαζομένη ἐκ πατρὸς ἀφορμᾶται, καὶ διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ πρόεισι, καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίω τελειοῦται. — Gregor. Nyssen. ad Ablabium Ἐν δὲ τῇ τούτων (ἀγγέλων) κτίσει, ἐννόησόν μοι τὴν προκαταρκτικὴν αἰτίαν τῶν γενομένων τὸν πατέρα, τὴν δημιουργικὴν τὸν υἱὸν, τὴν τελειωτικὴν τὸ πνεῦμα. — Basil. de Spir. Sanc. cap. xvi. This we shall find in all the instances of them that will fall under our consideration. Hence, the immediate actings of the Spirit are the most hidden, curious, and mysterious, as those which contain the perfecting part of the works of God. Some seem willing to exclude all thoughts or mention of him from the works of God; but, indeed, without him no part of any work of God is perfect or complete.4040 Καὶ γὰρ διὰ μὲν τῆς παλαιᾶς ὡς προκαταρκτικὸν τῶν ὅλων ὁ πατὴρ πρώτως κηρύττεται. Καὶ δευτέρως δὲ ὁ υἱὸς ὡς δημιουργικὸν αἴτιον ἐμφανίζεται. Καὶ τρίτως ὡς τελειωτικὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον. Τὰ τελειωτικὰ γὰρ τῶ τέλει φερωνύμως ἀναφαίνεται, τῆ προκοπῇ καὶ αὐξήσει τῶν πραγμάτων καὶ τῶν χρὸνων οἵα στέφανος ἀναῤῥήσεως ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀθλητικοῖς ἱδρῶσι κατὰ τὸ τέλος ἐναρμοζόμενος. Δὶα καὶ τὸν ἄνθρωπον πλάσας ὁ Θεὸς πρῶτον εἷτα τέλει ἐνεφύσησεν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ πνεῦμα ζωῆς. — Jobius apud Photium, lib. cxxii. cap. 18. The beginning of divine operations is assigned unto the Father, as he is fons et origo Deitatis, — “the fountain of the Deity itself:” “Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things,” Rom. xi. 36. The subsisting, establishing, and “upholding of all things,” is ascribed unto the Son: “He is before all things, and by him all things consist,” Col. i. 17. As he made all things with the Father, so he gives them a consistency, a permanency, in a peculiar manner, as he is the power and wisdom of the Father. He “upholdeth all things by the word of his power,” Heb. i. 3. And the finishing and perfecting of all these works is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, as we shall see. I say not this as though one person succeeded unto another in their operation, or as though where one ceased and gave over a work, the other took it up and carried it on; for every divine work, and every part of every divine work, is the work of God, that is, of the whole Trinity, inseparably and undividedly: but on those divine works which outwardly are of God there is an especial impression of the order of the operation of 95each person, with respect unto their natural and necessary subsistence, as also with regard unto their internal characteristical properties, whereby we are distinctly taught to know them and adore them. And the due consideration of this order of things will direct us in the right understanding of the proposals that are made unto our faith concerning God in his works and word.
These things being premised, we proceed to consider what are the peculiar operations of the Holy Spirit, as revealed unto us in the Scripture. Now, all the works of God may be referred unto two heads:— 1. Those of nature; 2. Those of grace; — or the works of the old and new creation. And we must inquire what are the especial operations of the Holy Spirit in and about these works, which shall be distinctly explained.
The work of the old creation had two parts:— 1. That which concerned the inanimate part of it in general, with the influence it had into the production of animated or living but brute creatures. 2. The rational or intelligent part of it, with the law of its obedience unto God, [and] the especial uses and ends for which it was made. In both these sorts we shall inquire after and consider the especial works of the Holy Spirit.
The general parts of the creation are the heavens and the earth: Gen. i. 1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” And what belongs unto them is called their “host:” chap. ii. 1, “The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” The host of heaven is the sun, moon, and stars, and the angels themselves. So are they called, 1 Kings xxii. 19, “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne” וְכָל־צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם, “and all the host of heaven standing by him, on his right hand and on his left;” — that is, all the holy angels, as Dan. vii. 10; 2 Chron. xviii. 18. And the host of God: Gen. xxxii. 1, 2, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host.” מַחֲנֵה, the word he useth, signifieth a host encamped. Στρατιὰ οὐράνιος, Luke ii. 13, “The heavenly host,” or army. The sun, moon, and stars, are also called the host of heaven: Deut. iv. 19, “Lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven.” So Isa. xxxiv. 4; Jer. xxxiii. 22. This was that host of heaven which the Jews idolatrously worshipped: chap. viii. 2, “They shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped.” The expressions are multiplied, to show that they used all ways of ascribing that divine honour unto them which was due to God alone, whom only they ought to have loved, to have served, to have walked after, to have sought and 96worshipped. So Jer. xix. 13. This they called מְלֶכֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם, the “queen of heaven,” chap. xliv. 17, because of its beauty and adornings. The “host of the earth” is men and beasts, with all other creatures that either grow out of it or live upon it, and are nourished by it. And these things are called the host of heaven and earth upon a double account:— 1. Because of their order and beautiful disposition. A host properly is a number of men put into a certain order, for some certain end or purpose; and all their strength and power, all their terror and beauty, consisteth in and ariseth from that order. Without this they are but a confused multitude. But a host or army with banners is beautiful and terrible, Cant. vi. 10. Before things were cast into this order, the universe was, as it were, full of confusion; it had no beauty nor glory, for the “earth was without form and void,” Gen. i. 2. Hence the Vulgar Latin in this place renders the word by “ornatus eorum,” all their beauty and adorning; for the creation and beautiful disposal of these hosts gave them beauty and ornament: and thence do the Greeks call the world κόσμος, — that is, an adorned thing. 2. Because all creatures in heaven and earth are God’s armies, to accomplish his irresistible will and pleasure. Hence he often styles himself “The Lord of hosts,” — of both these hosts, that above, of the heavens, the holy angels and the celestial bodies, and that of all creatures beneath in the earth; for all these he useth and applieth at his pleasure, to do his will and execute his judgments. Thus, one of those angels slew a whole host of men in one night, Isa. xxxvii. 36. And it is said that the “stars in their courses fought against Sisera,” Judges v. 20. God overruled the influences of heaven against him, though it may be angels also are here intended. And among the meanest creatures of the earth, he calls locusts and caterpillars, when he sends them to destroy a country for sin, his host or “army,” Joel ii. 11. This by the way.
Now, the forming and perfecting of this host of heaven and earth is that which is assigned peculiarly to the Spirit of God; and hereby the work of creation was completed and finished. First, for the heavens: Job xxvi. 13, “By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent;” — or rather, “his Spirit hath garnished;” for שִּׁפְרָה agrees with רוּחַ,4141 This word in the original is בְּרוּחוֹ. To make it agree with שִּׁפְרָה, Owen must have adopted the opinion of Aben Ezra, that בְּ in the former word is redundant. Eminent critics demur to this conclusion; Simonis and others rendering the clause, “By his Spirit the heavens [are] beauty.” — Ed. the “Spirit,” and not with “he;” and the word signifies to “adorn,” to make fair, to render beautiful to the eye. Thus the heavens were garnished by the Spirit of God, when, by the creation and disposal of the aspectable host of them, he rendered them so glorious and beautiful as we behold. So the Targum, “His Spirit beautified the face of the heavens,” or gave 97them that comely beauty and order wherein their face appeareth unto us. Hence the heavens, as adorned with the moon and stars, are said to be the “work of God’s fingers,” Ps. viii. 3, — that is, not only those which were powerfully made, but also curiously wrought and adorned by the Spirit of God; for by the finger or fingers of God the Spirit of God is in an especial manner intended. Hence those words of our Saviour, Luke xi. 20, “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils,” are, Matt. xii. 28, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God.” By him were the heavens, as it were, curiously wrought, adorned, garnished, rendered beautiful and glorious, to show forth the praise of his power and wisdom, Ps. xix. 1. And by the “crooked serpent,” which is added to the “garnishing of the heavens,” the Hebrews understand the galaxy or milky way; which to the eye represents the moving or writhing of a serpent in the water. This, then, is peculiarly assigned to the Spirit with respect to the heavens and their host: The completing, finishing work is ascribed unto him; which we must understand by the rules before mentioned, and not exclusively to the other persons.
And thus was it also in the earth. God first out of nothing created the earth, which comprised the whole inferior globe, which afterward divided itself into seas and dry land, as the heavens contain in that expression of their creation all that is above and over it. The whole material mass of earth and water, wherewith probably the more solid and firm substance was covered, and as it were overwhelmed, is intended by that “earth” which was first created; for immediately there is mention made of the “deep” and the “waters,” without any intimation of their production but what is contained in that of the creation of the earth, Gen. i. 2. This mass being thus framed and mixed, the “Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters;” not taken distinctly, but as containing that radical humour which was the material principle of life and being unto all creatures: וְרוּח אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְנֵי הַמָּיִם. The word merachepheth signifies an easy, gentle motion, such as a dove, or other fowl, useth over its nest or young ones, either to communicate vital heat unto its eggs, or to cherish and defend its young. And this will no way consist with that exposition which some would give in this place of רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים. “Ruah, they say, “here signifies ‘the wind,’ as it doth sometimes; and it is called the ‘wind of God,’ because it was great and mighty: for this phrase of speech is usual in the sacred language to set out the greatness and singular eminency of any thing. So a great trembling is called a ‘trembling of God,’ 1 Sam. xiv. 15; great cedars, the ‘cedars of God,’ Ps. lxxx. 10; and the like.” But, — 1. When was this wind created? The meteors were not made before the fourth day, with the firmament, the place of their residence. And whence or what this wind should be is 98not to be discovered. 2. The word here used signifies such an “easy and gentle motion” as is in birds when they move themselves upon their nests. And it is but three times used in the Scripture, — in this place, and Deut. xxxii. 11, Jer. xxiii. 9. In Deuteronomy it is expressly applied unto the motion of an eagle over her young, for their safety, protection, and growth: יְרַחֵף יִפְרֹשׂ כְּנָפָיו, “As an eagle fluttereth, spreading her wings over her young.” And in the other place we render it “shake:” “All my bones shake,” — that is, are in a trembling motion, like the feathers of a fowl over her nest. No such great and violent wind, therefore, as from thence should be called a wind of God, can be intended in this place; but it is the Spirit of God himself and his work that is expressed.
This, therefore, was the work of the Holy Spirit of God in reference unto the earth and the host thereof: The whole matter being created out of which all living creatures were to be educed, and of which they were to be made, he takes upon him the cherishing and preservation of it; that as it had its subsistence by the power of the Word of God, it might be carried on towards that form, order, beauty, and perfection, that it was designed unto. To this purpose he communicated unto it a quickening and prolific virtue, inlaying it with the seeds of animal life unto all kinds of things. Hence, upon the command of God, it brought forth all sorts of creatures in abundance, according to the seeds and principles of life which were communicated unto the rude, inform chaos, by the cherishing motion of the Holy Spirit. Without him all was a dead sea, a confused deep, with darkness upon it, able to bring forth nothing, nor more prepared to bring forth any one thing than another; but by the moving of the Spirit of God upon it, the principles of all those kinds, sorts, and forms of things, which, in an inconceivable variety, make up its host and ornament, were communicated unto it. And this is a better account of the original of all things, in their several kinds, than any [that] is given by ancient or modern philosophers. And hence was the old tradition of all things being formed of water, which the apostle alludes unto, 2 Pet. iii. 5. The whole is declared by Cyprian, whose words I have, therefore, transcribed at large.4242 “Hic Spiritus Sanctus ab ipso mundi initio aquis legitur superfusus; non materialibus aquis quasi vehiculo egens, quasi potius ipse ferebat, et complectentibus firmamentum dabat congruum motum et limitem præfinitum. Hujus sempiterna virtus et divinitas, cum in propria natura ab inquisitoribus mundi antiquis philosophis proprie investigari non posset, subtilissimis tamen intuiti sunt conjecturis compositionem mundi; compositis et distinctis elementorum affectibus presentem omnibus animam affuisse, quæ secundum genus et ordinem singulorum vitam præberet et motum, et intransgressibiles figeret metas, et stabilitatem assignaret et usum. Hanc vitam, hunc motum, hanc rerum essentiam, animam mundi philosophi vocaverunt, putantes cœlestia corpora, solem dico lunam et stellas ipsumque firmamentum hujus animæ virtute moveri et regi, et aquas, et terram, et aërem hujus semine imprægnari. Qui si spiritum et dominum, et creatorem, et vivificatorem, et nutritorem crederent onmium quæ sub ipso sunt, convenientem haberent ad vitam accessum. Sed abscondita est a sapientibus, et prudentibus tantæ rei majestas; nec potuit humani fastus ingenii secretis interesse cœlestibus, et penetrare ad superessentialis naturæ altitudinem; et licet intelligerent, quod vere esset creatrix et gubernatrix rerum Divinitas, distinguere tamen nullo modo potuerunt quæ esset Deitatis Trinitas, vel quæ unitas vel quæ personarum proprietas. Hic est Spiritus vitæ cujus vivificus calor animat omnia et fovet et provehit et fecundat. Hic omnium viventium anima, ita largitate sua se omnibus abundanter infundit, ut habeant omnia rationabilia et irrationabilia secundum genus suum ex eo quod sunt, et quod in suo ordine suæ naturæ competentia agunt; non quod ipse sit substantialis anima singulis, sed in se singulariter marens, de plenitudine sua distributor magnificus proprias efficientias singulis dividit et largitur; et quasi sol omnia calefaciens subjecta, onmia nutrit, et absque ulla sui diminutione, integritatem suam de inexhausta abundantia quod satis est et sufficit omnibus commodat et impartit.” — Cypr. Lib. de Spir. Sanc. And as at the first creation, 99so in the course of providence, this work of cherishing and nourishing the creatures is assigned in an especial manner unto the Spirit: Ps. civ. 30, “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth.” The making or creation of things here intended is not the first great work of the creation of all, but the daily production of creatures in and according to their kind; for in the verse foregoing the Psalmist treats of the decay of all sorts of creatures in the world, by a providential cutting off and finishing of their lives: Verse 29, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” That, under this continual decay and dying of all sorts of creatures, the world doth not come to emptiness and desolation, the only reason is, because the Spirit of God, whose office and work it is to uphold and preserve all things continually, produceth by his power a new supply of creatures in the room of them that fall off like leaves from the trees, and return to their dust everyday. And whereas the earth itself, the common nurse of them all, seems in the revolution of every year to be at an end of its use and work, having death brought upon the face of it, and ofttimes entering deep into its bowels, the Spirit of God, by its influential concurrence, renews it again, causing everything afresh to bring forth fruit according unto its kind, whereby its face receiveth a new beauty and adorning. And this is the substance of what the Scripture expressly asserts concerning the work of the Spirit of God towards the inanimate part of the creation. His actings in reference unto man, and that obedience which he owed to God, according to the law and covenant of his creation, is nextly to be considered.
Man in his creation falleth under a twofold notion; for he may be considered either merely naturally, as to the essentially constitutive parts of his being, or morally also, with reference unto his principles of obedience, the law given unto him, and the end proposed as his reward. And these things are distinctly proposed unto our contemplation in the Scripture. The first is expressed, Gen. ii. 7, 100“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” 1. There is the matter whereof he was formed; 2. The quickening principle added thereunto; and, 3. The effect of their conjunction and union. For the matter he was made of, it is said he was formed עָפָר מִן־חַאֲדָמָה, [of] “dust of the ground,” or dust gathered together on a heap from and upon the ground: רֹאשׁ עַפְרוֹת תֵּבֵל, Prov. viii. 26. So is God, the great δημιουργός, the universal framer of all, represented as an artificer, who first prepares his matter, and then forms it as it seemeth good unto him. And this is mentioned for two ends:— First, To set forth the excellency, power, and wisdom of God, who out of such vile, contemptible matter as a heap of dust, swept as it were together on the ground, could and did make so excellent, curious, and glorious a fabric as is the body of man, or as was the body of Adam before the fall. Secondly, To mind man of his original, that he might be kept humble and in a meet dependence on the wisdom and bounty of his Creator; for thence it was, and not from the original matter whereof he was made, that he became so excellent. Hereof Abraham makes his solemn acknowledgment before the Lord: Gen. xviii. 27, “Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.” He abaseth himself with the remembrance of his original And this, as it were, God reproacheth Adam withal upon his sin and transgression: Gen. iii. 19, “Thou shalt return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” He lets him know that he had now, by sin, lost that immortality which he was made in a condition to have enjoyed; and that his body, according to his nature and constitution, should return again into its first principles, or the dust of the earth. Into this formed dust, secondly, God breathed נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים, the “breath of life;” divinæ auræ particulam, “a vital immortal spirit.” This God breathed into him, as giving him something of himself, somewhat immediately of his own, not made out of any procreated matter. This is the rational soul, or intelligent spirit. Thus man became a middle creature between the angels above and the sensitive animals below. His body was formed, as the beasts, from the matter made the first day, and digested into dry land on the third day; his soul was an immediate production of and emanation from the divine power, as the angels were. So when, in the works of the new creation, our blessed Saviour bestowed the Holy Ghost on his disciples, he breathed on them, as a sign that he gave them something of his own. This celestial spirit, this heavenly breath, was unto man a quickening principle; for, thirdly, the effect hereof is, that man became לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּח, a “living soul.” His body was hereby animated, and capable of all vital acts. 101Hence he could move, eat, see, hear, etc.; for the natural effects of this breath of life are only intended in this expression. Thus the “first man Adam was made a living soul,” 1 Cor. xv. 45. This was the creation of man, as unto the essentially constituting principles of his nature.
With respect unto his moral condition and principle of obedience unto God, it is expressed, Gen. i. 26, 27, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion,” etc. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” He made him “upright,” Eccles. vii. 29, perfect in his condition, every way complete, — fit, disposed, and able to and for the obedience required of him; without weakness, distemper, disease, contrariety of principles, inclinations, or reasonings. A universal rectitude of nature, consisting in light, power, and order, in his understanding, mind, and affections, was the principal part of this image of God wherein he was created. And this appears, as from the nature of the thing itself, so from the description which the apostle giveth us of the renovation of that image in us by the grace of Christ, Eph. iv. 24, Col. iii. 10. And under both these considerations we may weigh the especial operations of the Spirit of God:—
First, As to the essential principles of the nature of man, it is not for nothing that God expresseth his communication of a spirit of life by his breathing into him: “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” The Spirit of God and the breath of God are the same, only, the one expression is proper, the other metaphorical; wherefore, this breathing is the especial acting of the Spirit of God. The creation of the human soul, a vital immortal principle and being, is the immediate work of the Spirit of God: Job xxxiii. 4, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Here, indeed, the creation and production of both the essential parts of human nature, body and soul, are ascribed unto the same author; for the Spirit of God and the breath of God are the same, but several effects being mentioned causeth a repetition of the same cause under several names. This Spirit of God first made man, or formed his body of the dust, and then gave him that breath of life whereby he became a “living soul.” So, then, under this first consideration, the creation of man is assigned unto the Holy Spirit, for man was the perfection of the inferior creation; and in order unto the glory of God, by him were all other things created. Here, therefore, are his operations distinctly declared, to whom the perfecting and completing of all divine works is peculiarly committed.
Secondly, We may consider the moral state and condition of man, with the furniture of his mind and soul, in reference unto his obedience to God and his enjoyment of him. This was the principal part 102of that image of God wherein he was created. Three things were required to render man idoneous, or fit unto that life to God for which he was made:— First, An ability to discern the mind and will of God with respect unto all the duty and obedience that God required of him; as also so far to know the nature and properties of God as to believe him the only proper object of all acts and duties of religious obedience, and an all-sufficient satisfaction and reward in this world and to eternity. Secondly, A free, uncontrolled, unentangled disposition to every duty of the law of his creation, in order unto living unto God. Thirdly, An ability of mind and will, with a readiness of compliance in his affections, for a due regular performance of all duties, and abstinence from all sin. These things belonged unto the integrity of his nature, with the uprightness of the state and condition wherein he was made. And all these things were the peculiar effects of the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost; for although this rectitude of his nature be distinguishable and separable from the faculties of the soul of man, yet in his first creation they were not actually distinguished from them, nor superadded, or infused into them when created, but were concreated with them, — that is, his soul was made meet and able to live to God, as his sovereign lord, chiefest good, and last end. And so they were all from the Holy Ghost, from whom the soul was, as hath been declared. Yea, suppose these abilities to be superadded unto man’s natural faculties, as gifts supernatural (which yet is not so), they must be acknowledged in a peculiar manner to be from the Holy Spirit; for in the restoration of these abilities unto our minds, in our renovation unto the image of God in the gospel, it is plainly asserted that the Holy Ghost is the immediate operator of them. And he doth thereby restore his own work, and not take the work of another out of his hand: for in the new creation the Father, in the way of authority, designs it, and brings all things unto a head in Christ, Eph. i. 10, which retrieved his original peculiar work; and the Son gave unto all things a new consistency, which belonged unto him from the beginning, Col. i. 17. So also the Holy Spirit renews in us the image of God, the original implantation whereof was his peculiar work. And thus Adam may be said to have had the Spirit of God in his innocency. He had him in these peculiar effects of his power and goodness; and he had him according to the tenor of that covenant whereby it was possible that he should utterly lose him, as accordingly it came to pass. He had him not by especial inhabitation, for the whole world was then the temple of God. In the covenant of grace, founded in the person and on the mediation of Christ, it is otherwise. On whomsoever the Spirit of God is bestowed for the renovation of the image of God in him, he abides with him forever. 103But in all men, from first to last, all goodness, righteousness, and truth, are the “fruits of the Spirit,” Eph. v. 9.
The works of God being thus finished, and the whole frame of nature set upon its wheels, it is not deserted by the Spirit of God; for as the preservation, continuance, and acting of all things in the universe, according to their especial nature and mutual application of one unto another, are all from the powerful and efficacious influences of divine Providence, so there are particular operations of the Holy Spirit in and about all things, whether merely natural and animal, or also rational and moral. An instance in each kind may suffice. For the first (as we have showed), the propagation of the succeeding generations of creatures and the annual renovation of the face of the earth are ascribed unto him, Ps. civ. 30; for as we would own the due and just powers and operations of second causes, so we abhor that atheism which ascribes unto them an original and independent efficacy and causality, without a previous acting in, by, and upon them of the power of God. And this is here ascribed unto the Spirit, whom God sendeth forth unto that end and purpose. As to rational and moral actions, such as the great affairs of the world do consist in and are disposed of by, he hath in them also a peculiar efficiency. Thus those great virtues of wisdom, courage, and fortitude, which have been used for the producing of great effects in the world, are of his especial operation. So when God stirred up men to rule and govern his people of old, to fight against and to subdue their enemies, it is said the Spirit of God came upon them: Judges iii. 10, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel, and he judged Israel, and went out to war.” The Spirit of God endued him with wisdom for government, and with courage and skill in conduct for war. So chap. vi. 34. And although instances hereof are given us principally among the people of God, yet wherever men in the world have been raised up to do great and wonderful things, whereby God executeth his judgments, [and] fulfilleth any of his promises or his threatenings, even they also have received of the especial gifts and assistances of the Holy Spirit of God. For this reason is Cyrus expressly called “God’s anointed,” Isa. xlv. 1. Cyrus had, by God’s designation, a great and mighty work to effect. He was utterly to ruin and destroyeth great, ancient, Babylonian monarchy. God had a concern herein as to the avenging of the quarrel of his people, and therein the accomplishment of many promises and threatenings. The work itself was great, arduous, and insuperable to ordinary human abilities. Wherefore God “sends his Spirit” to fill Cyrus with wisdom, courage, skill in all military affairs, that he might go through with the work whereunto, in the providence of God, he was designed. Hence is he called “God’s anointed,” because the unction of kings of old 104was an instituted sign of the communication of the gifts of the Holy Ghost for government unto them. See verses 1–4; and other instances of the like kind might be given.
Thus, when the church was to have a blessed restoration of the worship of God, after the return of the people from their captivity, Zerubbabel is, in an especial manner, called to begin and carry on this work in the building of the temple. But the difficulties he had to conflict withal were great, and appeared insuperable. The people were few and poor, and the oppositions made unto them and their work great and many, especially what arose from the power of the Persian monarchy, under whose rule and oppression they were; for although they had permission and encouragement from Cyrus for their work, yet immediately upon his death they were oppressed again, and their “work caused to cease.” This power they could no way conflict withal; yet God tells them that all this opposition shall be removed and conquered. “Who art thou,” saith he, “O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain,” Zech. iv. 7; — “All the hinderance that arose from that great mountain of the Persian empire shall be removed out of the way, and the progress of Zerubbabel in his work shall be made smooth, plain, and easy.” But how shall this be effected and brought about? “Not by an army or ‘by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,’ ” verse 6; — “You would suppose that it must be done by armies and open force, which you are altogether insufficient for; but this is not the way I will take in this matter. My Spirit shall work in their hearts, minds, and counsels, that, contrary to your fears, they shall themselves further that work which hitherto they have impeded; and he shall work in the minds and counsels of others, to oppose them and entangle them where they would hinder it, until they are destroyed, and that great mountain be fully removed;” — as in the event it came to pass. So that the providential alterations that are wrought in the world are effects of his power and efficacy also.
And thus have we taken a short view of the dispensation and works of the Spirit of God in the first creation. But the effect hereof being a state of things that quickly passed away, and being of no advantage to the church after the entrance of sin, what belonged unto it is but sparingly delivered in the Scriptures, the true sense of what is so delivered depending much on the analogy of the following works of God in man’s renovation and recovery. But as to the new creation (which falls under our consideration in the next place, as that alone which is directly intended by us), the foundation, building up, and finishing the church of God therein, being the things whereon depends the principal manifestation of the glory of God, and wherein the great concerns of all the elect do lie, they are more 105fully and directly declared in the Scripture; and in reference unto them we shall find a full, distinct declaration of the whole dispensation and work of the Spirit of God.
|« Prev||Chapter IV. Peculiar works of the Holy Spirit in…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version