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Chapter V. Way and manner of the divine dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
Dispensation of the Spirit to be learned from the Scripture only — General adjuncts thereof — The administration of the Spirit and his own application of himself to his work, how expressed — The Spirit, how and in what sense given and received — What is included in the giving of the Spirit — What in receiving of him — Privilege and advantage in receiving the Spirit — How God is said to send the Spirit — What is included in sending — How God ministers the Spirit — How God is said to put his Spirit on us — What is included in that expression — The Spirit, how poured out — What is included and intended herein — The ways of the Spirit’s application of himself unto his work — His proceeding from Father and Son explained — How he cometh unto us — His falling on men — His resting — How and in what sense he is said to depart from any person — Of the distributions of the Holy Ghost, Heb. ii. 4 — Exposition of them vindicated.
Before we treat of the especial operations, works, and effects of the Holy Ghost in and on the new creation, the order of things requires that we should first speak somewhat of the general nature of God’s dispensation of him, and of his own application of himself unto his actings and workings in this matter; for this is the foundation of all that he doth, and this, for our edification, we are instructed in by the Scriptures. Unto them in this whole discourse we must diligently attend; for we are exercised in such a subject as wherein we have no rule, nor guide, nor any thing to give us assistance but pure revelation. And what I have to offer concerning these things consists upon the matter solely in the explication of those places of Scripture wherein they are revealed. We must, therefore, consider, — 1. What we are taught on the part of God the Father with respect unto the Holy Spirit and his work; and, 2. What relates immediately unto himself.
I. God’s disposal of the Spirit unto his work is five ways expressed in the Scripture: for he is said, — 1. To give or bestow him; 2. To send him; 3. To minister him; 4. To pour him out; 5. To put him on us. And his own application of himself unto his work is likewise five ways expressed: for he is said, — 1. To proceed; 2. To come, or come upon; 3. To fall on men; 4. To rest; and, 5. To depart. These 106things, containing the general manner of his administration and dispensation, must be first spoken unto.
First, He is said to be given of God; that is, of God the Father, who is said to give him in an especial manner: Luke xi. 13, “Your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him;” John iii. 34. 1 John iii. 24, “He hath given the Spirit unto us.” John xiv. 16, “The Father shall give you another Comforter;” “which is the Holy Ghost,” verse 26. And in answer unto this act of God, those on whom he is bestowed are said to receive him: John vii. 39, “This he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” 1 Cor. ii. 12, “We have received the Spirit which is of God.” 2 Cor. xi. 4, “If ye receive another Spirit, which ye have not received;” where the receiving of the Spirit is made a matter common unto all believers. So Gal. iii. 2; Acts viii. 15, 19; John xiv. 17, xx. 22. For these two, giving and receiving, are related, the one supposing the other. And this expression of the dispensation of the Holy Ghost is irreconcilable unto the opinion before rejected, — namely, that he is nothing but a transient accident, or an occasional emanation of the power of God; for how or in what sense can an act of the power of God be given by him or be received by us? It can, indeed, in no sense be either the object of God’s giving or of our receiving, especially as this is explained in those other expressions of the same thing before laid down, and afterward considered. It must be somewhat that hath a subsistence of its own that is thus given and received. So the Lord Christ is frequently said to be given of God and received by us. It is true, we may be said, in another sense, to “receive the grace of God;” which is the exception of the Socinians unto this consideration, and the constant practice they use to evade plain testimonies of the Scripture: for if they can find any words in them used elsewhere in another sense, they suppose it sufficient to contradict their plain design and proper meaning in another place. Thus we are exhorted “not to receive the grace of God in vain,” 2 Cor. vi. 1. I answer, The grace of God may be considered two ways:— 1. Objectively, for the revelation or doctrine of grace; as Tit. ii. 11, 12. So we are said to receive it when we believe and profess it, in opposition unto them by whom it is opposed and rejected. And this is the same with our receiving the word preached, so often mentioned in the Scripture, Acts ii. 41, James i. 21; which is by faith to give it entertainment in our hearts: which is the meaning of the word in this place, 2 Cor. vi. 1. Having taken the profession of the doctrine of grace, that is, of the gospel, upon us, we ought to express its power in holiness and suitable obedience, without which it will be of no use or benefit unto us. And the grace of God is sometimes, — 2. Taken subjectively, for the grace which God 107is pleased to communicate unto us, or gracious qualities that he works in our souls by his Spirit. In this sense, also, we are sometimes said to receive it: 1 Cor. iv. 7, “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” where the apostle speaketh both of the gifts and graces of the Spirit. And the reason hereof is, because in the communication of internal grace unto us, we contribute nothing to the procurement of it, but are merely capable recipient subjects. And this grace is a quality or spiritual habit, permanent and abiding in the soul. But in neither of these senses can we be said to receive the Spirit of God, nor God to give him, if he be only the power of God making an impression on our minds and spirits, — no more than a man can be said to receive the sunbeams, which cause heat in him by their natural efficacy, falling on him: much less can the giving and receiving of the Spirit be so interpreted, considering what is said of his being sent and his own coming, with the like declarations of God’s dispensation of him; whereof afterward.
Now, this giving of the Spirit, as it is the act of him by whom he is given, denotes authority, freedom, and bounty; and, on the part of them that receive him, privilege and advantage.
1. Authority. He that gives any thing hath authority to dispose of it. None can give but of his own, and that which in some sense he hath in his power. Now, the Father is said to give the Spirit, and that upon our request, as Luke xi. 13. This, I acknowledge, wants not some difficulty in its explication; for if the Holy Ghost be God himself, as hath been declared, how can he be said to be given by the Father, as it were in a way of authority? But keeping ourselves to the sacred rule of truth, we may solve this difficulty without curiosity or danger. Wherefore, — (1.) The order of the subsistence of the three persons in the divine nature is regarded herein; for the Father, as hath been showed, is the fountain and original of the Trinity, the Son being of him, and the Spirit of them both. Hence, he is to be considered as the principal author and cause of all those works which are immediately wrought by either of them; for of whom the Son and Spirit have their essence, as to their personality, from him have they life and power of operation, John v. 19, 26. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit comes unto any, the Father is said to give him, for he is the Spirit of the Father. And this authority of the Father doth immediately respect the work itself, and not the person working; but the person is said to be given for the work’s sake. (2.) The economy of the blessed Trinity in the work of our redemption and salvation is respected in this order of things. The fountain hereof lies in the love, wisdom, grace, and counsel of the Father. Whatever is done in the pursuit hereof is originally the 108gift of the Father, because it is designed unto no other end but to make his grace effectual. Hence is he said to send and give his Son also. And the whole work of the Holy Ghost, as our sanctifier, guide, comforter, and advocate, is to make the love of the Father effectual unto us, John xvi. 13, 14.4343 Ἀποστέλλεται μὲν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον οἰκονομικῶς, ἐνεργεῖ δὲ αὐτεξουσίως. — Basil. Hom. xv. de Fide. As this, out of his own love and care, he hath condescended unto, so the fountain of it being in the love and purpose of the Father, and that also, or the making them effectual, being their end, he is rightly said to be given of him. (3.) In the whole communication of the Spirit, respect is had unto his effects, or the ends for which he is given. What they are shall be afterward declared. Now, the authority of this giving respects principally his gifts and graces, which depend on the authority of the Father.
2. This expression denotes freedom. What is given might be withheld. This is the “gift of God” (as he is called, John iv. 10), not the purchase of our endeavours, nor the reward of our desert. Some men delight to talk of their purchasing grace and glory; but the one and the other are to be “bought without money and without price.” Even “eternal life” itself, the end of all our obedience, is the “gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. vi. 23. The Scripture knows of no earnings that men can make of themselves but death; for as Austin says, “Quicquid tuum est peccatum est:” and the wages of sin is death. To what end or purpose soever the Spirit is bestowed upon us, whether it be for the communication of grace or the distribution of gifts, or for consolation and refreshment, it is of the mere gift of God, from his absolute and sovereign freedom.
In answer hereunto they are said to receive him, on whom as a gift he is bestowed; as in the testimonies before mentioned. And in receiving, two things are implied:— 1. That we contribute nothing thereunto which should take off from the thing received as a gift. Receiving answers giving, and that implies freedom in the giver. 2. That it is their privilege and advantage; for what a man receives, he doth it for his own good. First, then, we have him freely as a gift of God; for to receive him in general is to be made partaker of him, as unto those ends for which he is given of God. Be those ends what they will, in respect of them they are said to receive him who are made partakers of him. Two things may be pleaded to take off the freedom of this gift and of our reception, and to cast it on something necessary and required on our part; for, — (1.) Our Saviour tells us “that the world cannot receive him, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him,” John xiv. 17. Now, if the 109 “world” cannot receive him, there is required an ability and preparation in them that do so, that are “not of the world;” and so the gift and communication of the Spirit depends on that qualification in us. But all men are naturally alike the world and of it. No one man by nature hath more ability or strength in spiritual things than another; for all are equally “dead in trespasses and sins,” all equally “children of wrath.” It must, therefore, be inquired how some come to have this ability and power to receive the Spirit of God, which others have not. Now this, as I shall fully manifest afterward, is merely from the Holy Ghost himself and his grace, respect being had herein only unto the order of his operations in us, some being preparatory for and dispositive unto others, one being instituted as the means of obtaining another, the whole being the effect of the free gift of God; for we do not make ourselves to differ from others, nor have we any thing that we have not received, 1 Cor. iv. 7. Wherefore, the receiving of the Holy Ghost intended in that expression of our Saviour, with respect whereunto some are able to receive him, some are not, is not absolute, but with respect unto some certain work and end; and this, as is plain in the context, is the receiving of him as a comforter and a guide in spiritual truth. Hereunto faith in Christ Jesus, which also is an effect and fruit of the same Spirit, is antecedently required. In this sense, therefore, believers alone can receive him, and are enabled so to do by the grace which they have received from him in their first conversion unto God. But, (2.) It will be said that we are bound to pray for him before we receive him, and therefore the bestowing of him depends on a condition to be by us fulfilled; for the promise is, that “our heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him,” Luke xi. 13. But this doth not prove the bestowing and receiving of him not to be absolutely free. Nay, it proves the contrary. It is gratia indebita, “undeserved grace,” that is the proper object of prayer. And God, by these encouraging promises, doth not abridge the liberty of his own will, nor derogate from the freedom of his gifts and grace, but only directs us into the way whereby we may be made partakers of them, unto his glory and our own advantage. And this also belongs unto the order of the communication of the grace of the Spirit unto us. This very praying for the Spirit is a duty which we cannot perform without his assistance; for “no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. xii. 3. He helps us, as a Spirit of grace and supplication, to pray for him as a Spirit of joy and consolation.
3. This is such a gift as in God proceeds from bounty; for God is said to give him unto us “richly,” Tit. iii. 6. This will be spoken unto in the fourth way of his communication: only I say at present, the 110greatness of a gift, the free mind of the giver, and want of desert or merit in the receiver, are that which declare bounty to be the spring and fountain of it; and all these concur to the height in God’s giving of the Holy Ghost.
Again; On the part of them who receive this gift, privilege and advantage are intimated. They receive a gift, and that from God, and that a great and singular gift, from divine bounty. Some, indeed, receive him in a sort, as to some ends and purposes, without any advantage finally unto their own souls. So do they who “prophesy” and “cast out devils” by his power, in the name of Christ, and yet, continuing “workers of iniquity,” are rejected at the last day, Matt. vii. 22, 23. Thus it is with all who receive his gifts only, without his grace to sanctify their persons and their gifts; and this whether they be ordinary or extraordinary: but this is only by accident. There is no gift of the Holy Ghost but is good in its own nature, tending to a good end, and is proper for the good and advantage of them by whom it is received. And although the direct end of some of them be not the spiritual good of them on whom they are bestowed, but the edification of others, — for “the manifestation of the Spirit is given unto every man to profit withal,” 1 Cor. xii. 7, — yet there is that excellency and worth in them, and that use may be made of them, as to turn greatly to the advantage of them that receive them; for although they are not grace, yet they serve to stir up and give an edge unto grace, and to draw it out unto exercise, whereby it is strengthened and increased. And they have an influence into glory; for it is by the abilities which they give that some are made wise and effectual instruments for the “turning of many to righteousness,” who “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever,” Dan. xii. 3. But the unbelief, ingratitude, and lusts of men can spoil these, and any other good things whatever. And these things will afterward in particular fall under our consideration. In general, to be made partaker of the Holy Ghost is an inestimable privilege and advantage, and as such is proposed by our Saviour, John xiv. 17.
Secondly, God is said to send him: Ps. civ. 30, “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit;” John xiv. 26, “The Father will send the Holy Ghost in my name.” This is also spoken of the Son: “I will send unto you the Comforter from the Father,” chap. xv. 26, xvi. 7. And in the accomplishment of that promise, it is said he “shed him forth,” Acts ii. 33; Gal. iv. 6, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts;” and in other places the same expression is used. Now, this, upon the matter, is the same with the former, of giving him, arguing the same authority, the same freedom, the same bounty. Only, the word naturally includes in its signification a respect unto a 111local motion. He which is sent removeth from the place where he was, from whence he is sent, unto a place where he was not, whither he was sent. Now, this cannot properly be spoken of the Holy Ghost; for he being God by nature is naturally omnipresent, and an omnipresence is inconsistent with a local mutation. So the Psalmist expressly: Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven,” etc. There must, therefore, a metaphor be allowed in this expression, but such a one as the Scripture, by the frequent use of it, hath rendered familiar unto us. Thus God is said to “come out of his place,” to “bow the heavens and come down;” to “come down and see what is done in the earth,” Isa. xxvi. 21; Ps. cxliv. 5; Gen. xviii. 21. That these things are not spoken properly of God, who is immense, all men acknowledge. But when God begins to work in any place, in any kind, where before he did not do so, he is said to come thither; for so must we do, — we must come to a place before we can work in it. Thus, the sending of the Holy Ghost includeth two things as added unto his being given:— 1. That he was not before in or with that person, or amongst those persons, for that especial work and end which he is sent for. He may be in them and with them in one respect, and be afterward said to be sent unto them in another. So our Lord Jesus Christ promiseth to send the Holy Ghost unto his disciples as a comforter, whom they had received before as a sanctifier. “I will,” saith he, “send him unto you; and ye know him, for he dwelleth with you,” John xiv. 17, xvi. 7. He did so as a sanctifier before he came unto them as a comforter. But in every coming of his, he is sent for one especial work or another; and this sufficiently manifests that in his gifts and graces he is not common unto all. A supposition thereof would leave no place for this especial act of sending him, which is done by choice and distinction of the object. Much less is he a light which is always in all men, and which all men may be in if they please; for this neither is nor can be absent in any sense from anyone at any time. 2. It denotes an especial work there or on them, where and on whom there was none before of that kind. For this cause is he said to be sent of the Father.4444 “Etenim si de loco procedit Spiritus et ad locum transit, et ipse Pater in loco invenietur et Filius: si de loco exit quem Pater mittit aut Filius, utique de loco transiens Spiritus et progediens, et Patrem sicut corpus secundum impias interpretationes relinquere videtur et Filium. Hoc secundum eos loquor qui dicunt quod habeat Spiritus descensorium motum … Venit non de loco in locum, sed de dispositione constitutionis in salutem redemptionis.” — Ambros. de Spir. Sanc. lib. i. cap. 11. No local motion, then, is intended in this expression, only there is an allusion thereunto; for as a creature cannot produce any effects where it is not, until it either be sent thither or go thither of its own accord, so the Holy Ghost produceth not the blessed effects of his 112power and grace but in and towards them unto whom he is given and sent by the Father. How, in answer hereunto, he is said himself to come, shall be afterward declared. And it is the person of the Spirit which is said to be thus sent; for this belongs unto that holy dispensation of the several persons of the Trinity in the work of our salvation. And herein the Spirit, in all his operations, is considered as sent of the Father, for the reasons before often intimated.
Thirdly, God is said to minister the Spirit: Gal. iii. 5, “He that ministereth to you the Spirit.” Ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγίῶν ὑμῖν τὸ Πνεῦμα· — “He that giveth you continual or abundant supplies of the Spirit.” Χορηγέω is “to give a sufficiency of any thing;” and χορηγία and χορήγημα are dimensum, “a sufficiency of provision.” An addition thereunto is ἐπιχορηγία, whereby the communication of the Spirit is expressed: Phil. i. 19,” For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayers,” καὶ ἐπιχορηγίας τοῦ Πνεύματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, “and the additional supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” That Spirit and its assistance he had before received, but he yet stood in need of a daily farther supply. So is the word used constantly for the adding of one thing to another, or one degree of the same thing unto another: 2 Pet. i. 5, Ἐπιχορηγήσατε ἐν τῆ πίστει ὑμῶν τὴν ἀρετήν· — “Add to your faith virtue;” or, “In your faith make an increase of virtue.” When, therefore, God is thus said to “minister the Spirit,” it is his continual giving out of additional supplies of his grace by his Spirit which is intended; for the Holy Spirit is a voluntary agent, and distributes unto everyone as he will. When, therefore, he is given and sent unto any, his operations are limited by his own will and the will of him that sends him; and therefore do we stand in need of supplies of him and from him; which are the principal subject-matter of our prayers in this world.
Fourthly, God is said to put his Spirit in or upon men; and this also belongeth unto the manner of his dispensation: Isa. xlii. 1, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; I have put my Spirit upon him.” The word there, indeed, is נָחַתִּי, “I have given my Spirit upon him;” but because עָלָיו, “upon him,” is joined to it, it is by ours rendered by “put.” As also Ezek. xxxvii. 14, where בָכֶם, “in you,” is added; — “Put my Spirit in you.” The same is plainly intended with that, Isa. lxiii. 11, הַשָּׂם בְּקִרְבּוֹ אֶת־רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ — “That put his Holy Spirit in the midst of them.” Hence, נָתַתִּי, “I have given,” or “I will give,” Isa. xlii. 1, is rendered by θήσω, Matt. xii. 18: Θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, — “I will put my Spirit upon him.” The word נָחַן, then, used in this sense, doth not denote the granting or donation of any thing, but its actual bestowing, as שׂוּם doth. And it is the effectual acting of God in this matter that is intended. He doth not only give and send his Spirit unto them to whom he designs 113so great a benefit and privilege, but he actually collates and bestows him upon them.4545 “Quid igitur Spiritus Sancti operatione divinius, cum etiam benedictionum suarum præsulem Spiritum Deus ipse testetur, dicens, Ponam Spiritum meum super semen tuum, et benedictiones meas super filios tuos. Nulla enim potest esse plena benedictio nisi per infusionem Spiritus Sancti.” — Ambros. de Spir. Sanc. lib. i. cap. 7. He doth not send him unto them, and leave it in their wills and power whether they will receive him or no, but he so effectually collates and puts him in them or upon them as that they shall be actually made partakers of him. He efficaciously endows their hearts and minds with him, for the work and end which he is designed unto. So Exod. xxxi. 6, “I have put wisdom,” is as much as, “I have filled them with wisdom,” verse 2. So, then, where God intendeth unto any the benefit of his Spirit, he will actually and effectually collate him upon them. He doth not, indeed, always do this in the same manner. Sometimes he doth it, as it were, by a surprisal, when those who receive him are neither aware of it nor do desire it. So the Spirit of the Lord, as a Spirit of prophecy, came upon Saul, when his mind was remote and estranged from any such thoughts. In like manner, the Spirit of God came upon Eldad and Medad in the camp, when the other elders went forth unto the tabernacle to receive him, Num. xi. 27. And so the Spirit of prophecy came upon most of the prophets of old, without either expectation or preparation on their parts. So Amos giveth an account of his call unto his office, chap. vii. 14, 15. “I was,” saith he, “no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy.” He was not brought up with any expectation of receiving this gift, he had no preparation for it; but God surprised him with his call and gift as he followed the flock. Such, also, was the call of Jeremiah, chap. i. 5–7. So vain is the discourse of Maimonides on this subject, prescribing various natural and moral preparations for the receiving of this gift. But these things were extraordinary. Yet I no way doubt but that God doth yet continue to work grace in many by such unexpected surprisals; the manner whereof shall be afterward inquired into. But sometimes, as to some gifts and graces, God doth bestow his Spirit where there is some preparation and cooperation on our part; but wherever he designs to put or place him, he doth it effectually.
Fifthly, God is said to pour him out, and that frequently: Prov. i. 23, הִנֵּה אַבִּיעָה לָכֶם רוּחִי, — “Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you.” נָבַע signifies “ebullire more scaturiginis,” — “to bubble up as a fountain.”4646 “Significat autem effusionis verbum largam et divitem muneris abundantiam; itaque cum unus quis alicubi aut duo Spiritum Sanctum accipiant non dicitur, ‘Effundam de Spiritu meo,’ sed tunc quando in universas gentes munus Spiritus Sancti redundaverit.” — Didym. de Spir. Sanc. lib. i. Hence, the words are rendered by Theodotion, 114Ἀναβλύσω ὑμῖν Πνεῦμά μου, — “Scaturire faciam,” — “I will cause my Spirit to spring out unto you as a fountain.” And it is frequently applied unto speaking, when it signifies “eloqui aut proferre verba more scaturiginis.” See Ps. lxxviii. 2, cxlv. 7. And בָּעָה, also, which some take to be the root of, אַבִּיעָה, Prov. i. 23, hath the same signification. And the word hath a double lively metaphor: for the proceeding of the Spirit from the Father is compared to the continual rising of the waters of a living spring; and his communication unto us to the overflowing of those waters, yet guided by the will and wisdom of God: Isa. xxxii. 15, “Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field,” — עַר־יֵעָרֶה עָלֵינוּ רוּחַ מִמָּרוֹם. עָרָה is, indeed, sometimes “to pour out,” but more properly and more commonly “to uncover,” “to make bare,” “to reveal;” — “Until the Spirit be revealed from on high.” There shall be such a plentiful communication of the Spirit as that he and his work shall be made open, revealed, and plain; or, the Spirit shall be bared, as God is said to make his arm bare when he will work mightily and effectually, chap. lii. 10. Chap. xliv. 3, “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” יָצַק, the word here, is so to pour a thing out as that it cleaveth unto and abideth on that which it is poured out upon; as the Spirit of God abides with them unto whom he is communicated. Ezek. xxxix. 29, “I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel,” — שָׁפַכְתִּי, another word: this is properly to pour out, and that in a plentiful manner, [and is] the same word that is used in that great promise, Joel ii. 28, which is rendered, Acts ii. 17, by ἐκχεῶ, “effundam,” — “I will pour out my Spirit;” and the same thing is again expressed by the same word, chap. x. 45, “On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Let us, then, briefly consider the importance of this expression. And one or two things may be observed concerning it in general; as, — 1. Wherever it is used, it hath direct respect unto the times of the gospel. Either it is a part of the promises concerning it, or of the story of their accomplishment under it. But wherever it is mentioned, the time, state, and grace of the gospel are intended in it: for the Lord Christ was “in all things to have the pre-eminence,” Col. i. 18; and, therefore, although God gave his Spirit in some measure before, yet he poured him not out until he was first anointed with his fullness. 2. There is a tacit comparison in it with some other time and season, or some other act of God, wherein or whereby God gave his Spirit before, but not in the way and manner that he intended now to bestow him. A larger measure of the Spirit to be 115now given than was before, or is signified by any other expressions of the same gift, is intended in this word.
Three things are therefore comprised in this expression:— 1. An eminent act of divine bounty. Pouring forth is the way whereby bounty from an all-sufficing fullness is expressed; as “The clouds, filled with a moist vapour, pour down rain,” Job xxxvi. 27, until “it water the ridges of the earth abundantly, settling the furrows thereof, and making it soft with showers,” as Ps. lxv. 10; which, with the things following in that place, verses 11–13, are spoken allegorically of this pouring out of the Spirit of God from above. Hence, God is said to do this richly: Tit. iii. 6, “The renewing of the Holy Ghost,” οὗ ἐξέχεεν ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς πλουσίως, “which he hath poured on us richly,” — that is, on all believers who are converted unto God; — for the apostle discourseth not of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were then given forth in a plentiful manner, but of that grace of the Holy Ghost whereby all that believe are regenerated, renewed, and converted unto God; for so were men converted of old by a rich participation of the Holy Ghost, and so they must be still, whatever some pretend, or die in their sins. And by the same word is the bounty of God in other things expressed: “The living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy,” 1 Tim. vi. 17. 2. This pouring out hath respect unto the gifts and graces of the Spirit, and not unto his person: for where he is given, he is given absolutely, and as to himself not more or less; but his gifts and graces may be more plentifully and abundantly given at one time than at another, to some persons than to others. Wherefore this expression is metonymical, that being spoken of the cause which is proper to the effect; the Spirit being said to be poured forth, because his graces are so. 3. Respect is had herein unto some especial works of the Spirit. Such are the purifying or sanctifying, and the comforting or refreshing [of] them on whom he is poured. With respect unto the first of these effects, he is compared both unto fire and water; for both fire and water have purifying qualities in them, though towards different objects, and working in a different manner. So, by fire are metals purified and purged from their dross and mixtures; and by water are all other unclean and defiled things cleansed and purified. Hence, the Lord Jesus Christ, in his work by his Spirit, is at once compared unto a “refiner’s fire” and to “fullers’ soap,” Mal. iii. 2, 3, because of the purging, purifying qualities that are in fire and water. And the Holy Ghost is expressly called a “Spirit of burning,” Isa. iv. 4; for by him are the vessels of the house of God that are of gold and silver refined and purged, as those that are but of wood and stone are consumed. And when it is said of our Lord Jesus that he should “baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” Luke iii. 16, it is but ἕν διὰ δυοῖν, 116the same thing doubly expressed; and, therefore, mention is made only of the “Holy Ghost,” John i. 33. But the Holy Ghost was, in his dispensation, to purify and cleanse them as fire doth gold and silver. And on the same account is he compared to water, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean;” which is expounded, verse 26, by “A new spirit will I put within you;” which God calls his Spirit, verse 27. So our Saviour calls him “rivers of water,” John vii. 38, 39: see Isa. xliv. 3. And it is with regard unto his purifying, cleansing, and sanctifying our natures that he is thus called. With respect, therefore, in an especial manner, hereunto is he said to be poured out. So our apostle expressly declares, Tit. iii. 4–6. Again, it respects his comforting and refreshing them on whom he is poured. Hence is he said to be poured down from above as rain that descends on the earth: Isa. xliv. 3, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground,” — that is, “I will pour my Spirit on thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses,” verse 4; see chap. xxxv. 6, 7. He comes upon the dry, parched, barren ground of the hearts of men, with his refreshing, fructifying virtue and blessing, causing them to spring and bring forth fruits in holiness and righteousness to God, Heb. vi. 7. And in respect unto his communication of his Spirit is the Lord Christ said to “come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth,” Ps. lxxii. 6. The good Lord give us always of these waters and refreshing showers!
And these are the ways, in general, whereby the dispensation of the Spirit from God, for what end or purpose soever it be, is expressed.
II. We come nextly to consider what is ascribed unto the Spirit himself in a way of compliance with these acts of God whereby he is given and administered. Now, these are such things or actions as manifest him to be a voluntary agent, and that not only as to what he acts or doth in men, but also as to the manner of his coming forth from God, and his application of himself unto his work. And these we must consider as they are declared unto us in the Scripture.
The first and most general expression hereof is, that he
proceedeth from the Father; and being the Spirit of the Son, he
proceedeth from him also in like manner: John xv.
26, “The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he
shall testify of me.” There is a twofold ἐκπόρευσις or “procession” of the Holy Ghost. The one
is φυσική or ὑποστατική, “natural” or “personal.” This expresseth
his eternal relation to the persons of the Father and the Son. He is of
117them by an eternal emanation or procession.4747 “Spiritus Sanctus qui a Patre et Filio procedit,
nec ipse cœpit; quia processio ejus continua est, et ab eo qui non
cœpit.” — Ambros. in Symbol. Apostol., cap. 3.
“Spiritus quidem Sanctus nec ingenitus est nec genitus alicubi dicitur, ne si ingenitus diceretur sicut Pater, duo Patres in Sancta Trinitate intelligerentur; aut si genitus diceretur sicut Filius, duo itidem Filii in eadem estimarentur esse Sancta Trinitate: sed tantummodo procedere de Patre et Filio salva fide dicendum est. Qui tamen non de Patre procedit in Filium, et de Filio procedit ad sanctificandam creaturam, sicut quidam male intelligentes credendum esse putabant, sed simul de utroque procedit. Quia Pater talem genuit Filium, ut quemadmodum de se, ita et de illo quoque procedat Spiritus Sanctus.” — Aug. Serm. xxxviii. de Tempore. The manner hereof unto us, in this life, is incomprehensible; therefore it is rejected by some, who will believe no more than they can put their hands into the sides of. And yet are they forced, in things under their eyes, to admit of many things which they cannot perfectly comprehend! But we live by faith, and not by sight.4848 Οὐ γὰρ ἐπειδὰν πάμπαν ἀκατάληπτον τὸ Θεῖον διὰ τοῦτο που πάντως μηδόλως ζητεῖν περὶ αὐτοῦ προσῆκεν, ἀλλ’ ἐν ρᾳστώνῃ τὸν τοῦ βίου καταναλίσκειν χρόνον· κατὰ δὲ τὸ μέτρον τὸ μεριθὲν ἐκάστῳ παρὰ τοῦ κυριου, τῆς γνώσεως τὴν ἐξέτασιν φιλοπόνως ποιεῖσθαι· ὅτι μὲν ἀκατάληπτον ἀκριβῶς πεπεισμένους· ἐφ’ ὅσον δὲ χωροῦμεν διὰ τῆς θεωρίας, ἑαυτοὺς ἐκείνῳ συνάπτοντας. — Justin. Martyr. Expositio Fidei de rectâ Confess. This is enough unto us, that we admit nothing in this great mystery but what is revealed. And nothing is revealed unto us that is inconsistent with the being and subsistence of God; for this procession or emanation includes no separation or division in or of the divine nature, but only expresseth a distinction in subsistence, by a property peculiar to the Holy Spirit. But this is not that which at present I intend. The consideration of it belongeth unto the doctrine of the Trinity in general, and hath been handled elsewhere. Secondly, There is an ἐκπόρευσις or “procession” of the Spirit, which is οἰκονομική or “dispensatory.” This is the egress of the Spirit in his application of himself unto his work. A voluntary act it is of his will, and not a necessary property of his person. And he is said thus to proceed from the Father, because he goeth forth or proceedeth in the pursuit of the counsels and purposes of the Father, and, as sent by him, to put them into execution, or to make them effectual. And in like manner he proceedeth from the Son, sent by him for the application of his grace unto the souls of his elect, John xv. 26. It is true, this proves his eternal relation to the Father and the Son, as he proceeds from them, or receives his peculiar personal subsistence from them, for that is the ground of this order of operation; but it is his own personal voluntary acting that is intended in the expression. And this is the general notation of the original of the Spirit’s acting in all that he doth:— He proceedeth or cometh forth from the Father. Had it been only said that he was given and sent, it could not have been known that there was any thing of his own will in what he did, whereas he is said to “divide unto every man as he will;” but in that ἐκπορεύεται, he 118proceedeth of his own accord unto his work, his own will and condescension are also asserted. And this his proceeding from the Father is in compliance with his sending of him to accomplish and make effectual the purposes of his will and the counsels of his grace.
Secondly, To the same purpose he is said to come : John xv. 26, “When the Comforter is come.” John xvi. 7, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come.” Verse 8, “And when he is come.” So is he said to come upon persons. We so express it, 1 Chron. xii. 18, “The Spirit came upon Amasai,” — וְרוּחַ לָבְשָׁה אֶת־עֲמָשַׂי. “And the Spirit clothed Amasai,” possessed his mind as a man’s clothes cleave unto him. Acts xix. 6, “The Holy Ghost came on them, and they prophesied,” ἦλθε. Ἔρχομαι, “to come,” is, as it were, the terminus ad quem of ἐκπορεύομαι, “going forth” or “proceeding;” for there is in these expressions an allusion unto a local motion, whereof these two words denote the beginning and the end. The first intendeth his voluntary application of himself to his work, the other his progress in it; such condescensions doth God make use of in the declaration of his divine actings, to accommodate them unto our understandings, and to give us some kind of apprehension of them. He proceedeth from the Father, as given by him; and cometh unto us, as sent by him. The meaning of both is, that the Holy Ghost, by his own will and consent, worketh, in the pursuit of the will of the Father, there and that, where and what, he did not work before.4949 “Nullus sine Deo, neque ullus non in Deo locus est. In cœlis est, in inferno est, ultra maria est. Inest interior, excedit exterior. Itaque cum habet atque habetur, neque in aliquo ipse, neque non in omnibus est.” — Hilar. lib. i. de Trinitat. And as there is no local motion to be thought of in these things, so they can in no tolerable sense be reconciled to the imagination of his being only the inherent virtue or an actual emanation and influence of the power of God. And hereby are our faith and obedience regulated in our dealing with God about him: for we may both pray the Father that he would give and send him unto us, according to his promise; and we may pray to him to come unto us to sanctify and comfort us, according to the work and office that he hath undertaken. This is that which we are taught hereby; for these revelations of God are for our instruction in the obedience of faith.
Thirdly, He is said to fall on men: Acts x. 44, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” So chap. xi. 15, where Peter, repeating the same matter, says, “The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning,” — that is, Acts ii. 4. A greatness and suddenness in a surprisal is intended in this word; as, when the fire fell down from heaven (which was a type of him) upon the altar and sacrifice of Elijah, the people 119that saw it were amazed, and falling on their faces, cried out, “The Lord he is the God!” 1 Kings xviii. 38, 39. When men are no way in expectation of such a gift, or when they have an expectation in general, but are suddenly surprised as to the particular season, it is thus declared. But wherever this word is used, some extraordinary effects evidencing his presence and power do immediately ensue, Acts x. 44–46; and so it was at the beginning of his effusion under the New Testament, chap. ii. 4, viii. 16.
Fourthly, Being come, he is said to rest on the persons to whom he is given and sent: Isa. xi. 2, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.” This is interpreted by “abiding” and “remaining,” John i. 32, 33. Num. xi. 25, 26, “The Spirit of the Lord rested upon the elders.” So the “spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha,” 2 Kings ii. 15. 1 Pet. iv. 14, “The Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you.” Two things are included herein:— 1. Complacency; 2. Permanency. First, He is well pleased in his work wherein he rests. So where God is said to “rest in his love,” he doth it with “joy” and “singing,” Zeph. iii. 17. So doth the Spirit rejoice where he rests. Secondly, He abides where he rests. Under this notion is this acting of the Spirit promised by our Saviour: “He shall abide with you for ever,” John xiv. 16. He came only on some men by a sudden surprisal, to act in them and by them some peculiar work and duty; to this end he only transiently affected their minds with his power; — but where he is said to rest, as in the works of sanctification and consolation, there he abides and continues with complacency and delight.
Fifthly, He is said to depart from some persons. So it is said of Saul, 1 Sam. xvi. 14, “The Spirit of the Lord departed from him.” And David prays that God would not “take his Holy Spirit from him,” Ps. li. 11. And this is to be understood answerably unto what we have discoursed before about his coming and his being sent. As he is said to come, so is he said to depart; and as he is said to be sent, so is he said to be taken away. His departure from men, therefore, is his ceasing to work in them and on them as formerly; and as far as this is penal, he is said to be taken away. So he departed and was taken away from Saul, when he no more helped him with that ability for kingly government which before he had by his assistance. And this departure of the Holy Ghost from any is either total or partial only. Some on whom he hath been bestowed, for the working of sundry gifts for the good of others, with manifold convictions, by light and general assistance unto the performance of duties, he utterly deserts, and gives them up unto themselves and their own hearts’ lusts. Examples hereof are common in the world. Men who have been made partakers of many “gifts of the Holy Ghost,” and been in an especial manner enlightened, and, under the power of their 120convictions, carried out unto the profession of the gospel and the performance of many duties of religion, yet, being entangled by temptations, and overcome by the power of their lusts, relinquish all their beginnings and engagements, and turn wholly unto sin and folly. From such persons the Holy Ghost utterly departs, all their gifts dry up and wither, their light goeth out, and they have darkness instead of a vision. The case of such is deplorable; for “it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Pet. ii. 21. And some of these add despite and contempt of that whole work of the Spirit of God, whereof themselves were made partakers, unto their apostasy. And the condition of such profligate sinners is, for the most part, irrecoverable, Heb. vi. 4–6, x. 26–30. From some he withdraweth and departeth partially only, and that mostly but for a season; and this departure respects the grace, light, and consolation which he administers unto believers, as to the degrees of them, and the sense of them in their own souls. On whom he is bestowed to work these things in a saving way, from them he never utterly or totally departs. This our blessed Saviour plainly promiseth and asserteth: John iv. 14, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” That this well of “living water” is his sanctifying Spirit himself declares, chap. vii. 37–39. He who hath received him shall never have a thirst of total want and indigence anymore. Besides, he is given unto this end by virtue of the covenant of grace; and the promise is express therein that he shall “never depart from them” to whom he is given, Isa. lix. 21; Jer. xxxi. 33, xxxii. 39, 40; Ezek. xi. 19, 20. But now, as to the degrees and sensible effects of these operations, he may depart and withdraw from believers for a season. Hence they may be left unto many spiritual decays and much weakness, the things of grace that remain in them being as it were “ready to die,” Rev. iii. 2; and they may apprehend themselves deserted and forsaken of God, — so did Zion, Isa. xl. 27, xlix. 14: for therein doth God “hide himself,” or “forsake his people for a small moment,” chap. liv. 7, 8. He “hideth himself, and is wroth,” chap. lvii. 17. These are the things which David so often and so bitterly complaineth of, and which with so much earnestness he contendeth and wrestleth with God to be delivered from. These are those spiritual desertions which some of late have laden with reproach, contempt, and scorn. All the apprehensions and complaints of the people of God about them, they would represent as nothing but the idle imaginations of distempered brains, or the effects of some disorder in their blood and animal spirits. I could, indeed, easily 121allow that men should despise and laugh at what is declared as the experience of professors at present, — their prejudice against their persons will not allow them to entertain any thoughts of them but what are suited unto folly and hypocrisy; — but at this I acknowledge I stand amazed, that whereas these things are so plainly, so fully, and frequently declared in the Scriptures, both as to the actings of God and his Holy Spirit in them, and as to the sense of those concerned about them; whereas the whole of God’s dealings, and believers’ application of themselves to him in this matter, are so graphically exemplified in sundry of the holy saints of old, as Job, David, Heman, and others; and great and plentiful provision is made in the Scripture for the direction, recovery, healing, and consolation of souls in such a condition; yet men professing themselves to be Christians, and to believe the word of God at least not to be a fable, should dare to cast such opprobrious reproaches on the ways and works of God. The end of these attempts can be no other but to decry all real intercourse between God and the souls of men, leaving only an outside form or shape of religion, not one jot better than atheism.
Neither is it only what concerns spiritual desertions, whose nature, causes, and remedies, are professedly and at large handled by all the casuistical divines, even of the Roman church, but the whole work of the Spirit of God upon the hearts of men, with all the effects produced in them with respect unto sin and grace, that some men, by their odious and scurrilous expressions, endeavour to expose to contempt and scorn, S. P.,5050 These initials refer to Samuel Parker, in whose “Defence and Continuation of the Ecclesiastical Polity,” 1671, the sentiments to which Owen objects will be found. For an account of Parker, see vol. xiii., p. 344 of Owen’s works. — Ed. pp. 339–342. Whatever trouble befalls the minds of men upon the account of a sense of the guilt of sin; whatever darkness and disconsolation they may undergo through the displeasure of God, and his withdrawing of the wonted influences of his grace, love, and favour towards them; whatever peace, comfort, or joy, they may be made partakers of, by a sense of the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, — it is all ascribed, in most opprobrious language, unto melancholy reeks and vapours, whereof a certain and mechanical account may be given by them who understand the anatomy of the brain. To such a height of profane atheism is the daring pride and ignorance of some in our days arrived!
There remaineth yet one general adjunct of the
dispensation and work of the Holy Ghost, which gives a farther description
of the manner of it, which I have left unto a single consideration. This
is that which is mentioned, Heb. ii. 4,
“God bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers
miracles,” καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου
μερισμοῖς, 122“and gifts,” say we, “of the Holy Ghost.”
But μερισμοί are “distributions” or
“partitions;” and hence advantage is taken by some to argue against his
very being. So Crellius contends that the
Holy Ghost here is taken passively, or that the expression Πνεύματος Ἁγίου is genetivus materiæ. Wherefore, he supposes
that it followeth that the Holy Ghost himself may be divided into parts, so
that one may have one part and parcel of him, and another may have another
part. How inconsistent this is with the truth of his being and personality
is apparent. But yet neither can he give any tolerable account of the
division and partition of that power of God which he calls the “Holy
Ghost,” unless he will make the Holy Spirit to be a quality in us and not
in the divine nature, as Justin Martyr affirms Plato to have done, and so
to be divided.5151 Ταῦτα, οἶμαι, σαφῶς παρὰ
τῶν προφητῶν περὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος μεμαθηκὼς Πλάτων εἰς τὸ τῆς ἀρετῆς
ὄνομα μεταφέρων φαίνεται. Ὁμοίως γὰρ ὥσπερ οἱ ἱεροὶ προφῆται τὸ ἓν καὶ τὸ
αὐτὸ πνεῦμα εἰς ἑπτὰ πνεύματα μερίζεσθαι φασίν, οὕτω καὶ αὐτὸς μίαν καὶ τὴν
αὐτὴν ὀνομάζων ἀρετήν, ταύτην εἰς τέσσαρας ἀρετὰς μερίζεσθαι λέγει.
— Justin. Martyr. ad Græc. Cohortat., [cap.
Aliter statuit Cyprianus seu quisquis fuit author lib. de Spir. Sanc. inter opera Cypriani. “Hic est Spiritus Sanctus quem Magi in Ægypto tertii signi ostensione convicti, cum sua defecisse præstigia faterentur, Dei digitum appellabant, et antiquis philosophis ejus intimarunt præsentiam defuisse. Et licet de Patre et Filio aliqua sensissent Platonici, Spiritus tamen tumidus et humani appetitor favoris santificationem mentis divinæ mereri non potuit, et ubi ad profunditatem sacramentorum deventum est, omnis eorum caligavit subtilitas, nec potuit infidelitas sanctitudini propinquare” — Cypr. de Spir. Sanc. And the interpretation he useth of the words is wrested, perverse, and foolish; for the contexture of them requires that the Holy Ghost be here taken actively, as the author of the distribution mentioned. He gives out of his gifts and powers unto men in many parts, not all to one, not all at once, not all in one way; but some to one, some to another, some at one time, some at another, and that in great variety. The apostle, therefore, in this place declares that the Holy Spirit gave out various gifts unto the first preachers of the gospel, for the confirmation of their doctrine, according to the promise of our Saviour, John xv. 26, 27. Of these he mentions in particular, first, Σημεῖα, “signs;” that is, miraculous works, wrought to signify the presence of God by his power with them that wrought them, so giving out his approbation of the doctrine which they taught. Secondly, Τέρατα, “prodigies” or “wonders,” works beyond the power of nature or energy of natural causes, wrought to fill men with wonder and admiration, manifesting τὸ θεῖον, and surprising men with a sense of the presence of God. Thirdly, Δυνάμεις, “mighty works” of several sorts, such as opening of the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, and the like. These being mentioned, there is added in general μερισμοὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου, that is, מַתְּנוֹת הָרוּחַ חַקָּדוֹשׁ, “gifts of the Holy Ghost;” for these and other like things did the Holy Ghost work and effect to the end 123mentioned. And these distributions are from him as the signs and wonders were, — that is, effects of his power: only there is added an intimation how they are all wrought by him; which is, by giving them a power for their operation, variously dividing them amongst those on whom they were bestowed, and that, as it is added, κατὰ τὴν αὑτοῦ θέλησιν, “according unto his own will.” And this place is so directly and fully expounded, 1 Cor. xii. 7–11, that there is no room of exception left unto the most obstinate; and that place having been opened before, in the entrance of this discourse, I shall not here call it over again. These μερισμοί, therefore, are his gifts; which, as parts and parcels of his work, he giveth out in great variety.5252 Τῶν τοῦ ἁγίου· πνεύματος ἀξιουμένων ἐστὶ διαφορὰ, πλεῖον ἤ ἔλαττον λαμβανόντων τοῖ ἁγίου πνεύματος τῶν πιστευόντων. — Origen. Comment. in Matthæum. To the same purpose are his operations described, 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.” He is first called “The Spirit of the Lord,” to express his being and nature; and then he is termed “The Spirit of wisdom and of counsel,” etc., — that is, he who is the author of wisdom and counsel, and the rest of the graces mentioned, who divides and distributes them according to his own will. That variety of gifts and graces wherewith believers are endowed and adorned are these μερισμοί, or “distributions,” of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the principal respect that we have unto him immediately, in our worship of him under the New Testament, is as he is the author of these various gifts and graces. So John, saluting the churches of Asia, prayeth for grace for them from God the Father, and from “the seven Spirits which are before his throne,” Rev. i. 4; that is, from the Holy Spirit of God considered in his care of the church and his yielding supplies unto it, as the author of that perfection of gifts and graces which are, and are to be, bestowed upon it. So doth the number of “seven” denote. And, therefore, whereas our Lord Jesus Christ, as the foundation of his church, was anointed with all the gifts and graces of the Spirit in their perfection, it is said that upon that one stone should be “seven eyes,” Zech. iii. 9, — all the gifts of the seven Spirits of God, or of that Holy Spirit which is the author of them all.
All, therefore, that is pleaded for the division of the Holy Ghost from this place is built on the supposition that we have before rejected, — namely, that he is not a divine person, but an arbitrary emanation of divine power. And yet neither so can the division of the Holy Ghost pleaded for be with any tolerable sense maintained. Crellius says, indeed, “That all divine inspirations may be considered as one whole, as many waters make up one sea. In this respect the Holy Ghost is one, — that is, one universal made up of many species;” 124This is totum logicum. And so he may be divided into his subordinate species! But what ground or colour is there for any such notions in the Scripture? Where is it said that all the gifts of the Holy Ghost do constitute or make up one Holy Ghost? or the Holy Ghost is one in general, because many effects are ascribed unto him? or that the several gifts of the Spirit are so many distinct kinds of it? The contrary unto all these is expressly taught, — namely, that the one Holy Spirit worketh all these things as he pleaseth; so that they are all of them external acts of his will and power. And it is to as little purpose pleaded by the same author, “That he is divided as a natural whole into its parts, because there is mention of a measure and portion of him: so God is said not to give him to Jesus Christ ‘by measure,’ John iii. 34; and to every one of us is given grace ‘according to the measure of the gift of Christ,’ Eph. iv. 7;” — as though one measure of him were granted unto one, and another measure to another! But this “measure” is plainly of his gifts and graces. These were bestowed on the Lord Christ in all their fullness, without any limitation, either as to kinds or degrees; they were poured into him according unto the utmost extent and capacity of human nature, and that under an inconceivable advancement by its union unto the Son of God. Others receive his gifts and graces in a limited proportion, both as to their kinds and degrees. To turn this into a division of the Spirit himself is the greatest madness. And casting aside prejudices, there is no difficulty in the understanding of that saying of God to Moses, Num. xi. 17, “I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and I will put it upon the elders;” for it is evidently of the gifts of the Spirit, enabling men for rule and government, that God speaketh, and not of the Spirit himself. Without any diminution of that Spirit in him, — that is, of the gifts that he had received, — God gave unto them, as lighting their candle by his. And so, also, the “double portion of the spirit of Elijah,” which Elisha requested for himself, was only a large and peculiar measure of prophetical light, above what other prophets which he left behind him had received, 2 Kings ii. 9. He asked פִּי־שְׁנַיִם, “os duorum” or “duplex;” τὸ διπλοῦν μέρος. Or τὰ διπλᾶ This expression is first used, Deut. xxi. 17, where the double portion of the first-born is intended; so that probably it was such a portion among the other prophets as the first-born had among the brethren of the same family which he desired: and so it came to pass; whence, also, he had the rule and government of them.
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