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Chapter V. The general work of the Holy Spirit in the new creation with respect unto the members of that body whereof Christ is the head.
Christ the head of the new creation — Things premised in general unto the remaining work of the Spirit — Things presupposed unto the work of the Spirit towards the church — The love and grace of Father and Son — The whole work of the building of the church committed to the Holy Spirit — Acts ii. 33 opened — The foundation of the church in the promise of the Spirit, and its building by him alone — -Christ present with his church only by his Spirit — Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Acts i. 9, 10, iii. 21; Matt. xviii. 19, 20; 2 Cor. vi. 16; 1 Cor. iii. 16, compared — The Holy Spirit works the work of Christ — John xvi. 13–15 opened — The Holy Spirit the peculiar author of all grace — The Holy Spirit worketh all this according to his own will — 1. His will and pleasure is in all his works — 2. He works variously as to the kinds and degrees of his operations — How he may be resisted, how not — How the same work is ascribed unto the Spirit distinctly, and to others with him — The general heads of his operations towards the church.
We have considered the work of the Spirit of God in his laying the foundation of the church of the New Testament, by his dispensations 189towards the head of it, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the foundation-stone of this building, with seven eyes engraven on him, or filled with an absolute perfection of all the gifts and graces of the Spirit, Zech. iii. 9, which when he is exalted also as “the headstone of the corner,” there are shoutings in heaven and earth, crying, “Grace, grace unto him!” chap. iv. 7. As upon the laying of the foundation and placing of the corner-stone of the earth in the old creation, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” Job xxxviii. 6, 7; so upon the laying of this foundation, and placing of this corner-stone in the new creation, all things sing together and cry, “Grace, grace unto it!” The same hand which laid this foundation doth also finish the building. The same Spirit which was given unto him, “not by measure,” John iii. 34, giveth grace unto every one of us, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” Eph. iv. 7. And this falleth now under our consideration, — namely, the perfecting the work of the new creation by the effectual operation and distributions of the Spirit of God. And this belongs unto the establishment of our faith, that he who prepared, sanctified, and glorified the human nature, the natural body of Jesus Christ, the head of the church, hath undertaken to prepare, sanctify, and glorify his mystical body, or all the elect given unto him of the Father. Concerning which, before we come to consider particular instances, some things in general must be premised, which are these that follow:—
First, Unto the work of the Holy Spirit towards the church some things are supposed, from whence it proceeds, which it is built upon and resolved into. It is not an original but a perfecting work. Some things it supposeth, and bringeth all things to perfection; and these are, —
1. The love, grace, counsel, and eternal purpose of the Father; 2. The whole work of the mediation of Jesus Christ, (which things I have handled elsewhere;) — for it is the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit to make those things of the Father and Son effectual unto the souls of the elect, to the praise of the glory of the grace of God. God doth all things for himself, and his supreme end is the manifestation of his own glory. And in the old or first creation, he seems principally, or firstly, to intend the demonstration and exaltation of the glorious essential properties of his nature, his goodness, power, wisdom, and the like, as Ps. xix. 1–4, Rom. i. 19–21, Acts xiv. 15–17, xvii. 24–28; leaving only on the works of his hands some obscure impressions of the distinction of persons, subsisting in the unity of that Being whose properties he had displayed and glorified. But in the work of the new creation, God firstly and principally intends the especial revelation of each person of the whole Trinity 190distinctly, in their peculiar distinct operations; all which tend ultimately to the manifestation of the glory of his nature also. And herein consists the principal advantage of the New Testament above the Old; for although the work of the new creation was begun and carried on secretly and virtually under the Old Testament, yet they had not a full discovery of the economy of the holy Trinity therein, which was not evidently manifest until the whole work was illustriously brought to light by the gospel. Hence, although there appear a vigorous acting of faith and ardency of affection in the approaches of the saints unto God under the Old Testament, yet as unto a clear access to the Father through the Son by the Spirit, as Eph. ii. 18, wherein the life and comfort of our communion with God do consist, we hear nothing of it. Herein, therefore, God plainly declares that the foundation of the whole was laid in the counsel, will, and grace of the Father, chap. i. 3–6; then that the making way for the accomplishing of that counsel of his, so that it might be brought forth to the praise of his glory, is by the mediation of the Son, God having designed in this work to bring things so about, that “all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father,” John v. 23. There yet remains the actual application of all to the souls of men, that they may be partakers of the grace designed in the counsel of the Father, and prepared in the mediation of the Son; and herein is the Holy Spirit to be manifested and glorified, that he also, together with the Father and the Son, may be known, adored, worshipped, according unto his own will. This is the work that he hath undertaken. And hereon, upon the solemn initiation of any person into the covenant of God, in answer unto this design and work, he is baptized into “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” Matt. xxviii. 19. And these things have been discoursed of before, though necessarily here called over again.
Secondly, From the nature and order of this work of God it is, that after the Son was actually exhibited in the flesh, according to the promise, and had fulfilled what he had taken upon him to do in his own person, the great promise of carrying on and finishing the whole work of the grace of God in our salvation concerns the sending of the Holy Spirit to do and perform what he also had undertaken.7575 Καὶ μάλιστά γε τὸ ἀπολαύειν τοῦς ἀναπλασθέντας τοῦ ἁγιασμοῦ καὶ διαμένειν ἐν τῇ ἀναπλάσει, τῆς τοῦ παναγίου πνεύματος ἐστι δημουργίας τε καὶ συνοχῆς. — Jobius apud. Photium. lib. cxxii. Thus, when our Lord Jesus Christ was ascended into heaven, and began conspicuously and gloriously to carry on the building of his church upon himself, the rock and foundation of it, it is said, that, “being by the right hand of God exalted, he received of the 191Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,” Acts ii. 33; which must be a little opened:— 1. Before he departed from his disciples, as hath been mentioned on several occasions, he comforted and cheered their drooping spirits with the promise of sending him unto them, which he often repeated and inculcated on their minds, John xiv. 15–17. And, 2. When he was actually leaving them, after his resurrection, he gives them order to sit still, and not to engage in the public work of building the church, whereunto he had designed them, until that promise were actually accomplished towards them: Acts i. 4, “Being assembled together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father;” and verse 8, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the utmost part of the earth.” He would have them look neither for assistance in their work, nor success unto it, but from the promised Spirit alone; and lets them know, also, that by his aid they should be enabled to carry their testimony of him to the uttermost parts of the earth. And herein lay, and herein doth lie, the foundation of the ministry of the church, as also its continuance and efficacy. The kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and, in the animating principles of it, invisible. If we fix our minds only on outward order, we lose the rise and power of the whole. It is not an outward visible ordination by men, — though that be necessary, by rule and precept, — but Christ’s communication of that Spirit, the everlasting promise whereof he received of the Father, that gives being, life, usefulness, and success, to the ministry. Wherefore, also, 3. Upon his ascension, in the accomplishment of the great promises given unto the church under the Old Testament, Isa. xliv. 3, Joel ii. 28, 29, as also of his own, newly given unto his disciples, he poured forth his Spirit on them. This the apostle Peter declares in this place: “Being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he shed forth what they then saw and heard,” in the miraculous operations and effects of it. And he is said then to receive the promise of the Father, because he then received the thing promised. The promise was not then first given unto him, nor did he then receive it for himself; for as the promise was given long before, so in his own person he had received the fullness of the Spirit from his incarnation, as hath been declared: but now he had power given him actually to fulfil and accomplish the promise in the collation of the thing promised, and is thence said to receive the promise. So Heb. xi. 13, 39, it is said of all believers under the Old Testament, that they “died in faith, not having received the promise;” that is, the thing promised was not actually exhibited in their days, 192though they had the promise of it, as it is expressly said of Abraham, chap. vii. 6. The promise, therefore, itself was given unto the Lord Christ, and actually received by him in the covenant of the mediator, when he undertook the great work of the restoration of all things, to the glory of God; for herein had he the engagement of the Father that the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the sons of men, to make effectual unto their souls the whole work of his mediation: wherefore, he is said now to “receive this promise,” because on his account, and by him as exalted, it was now solemnly accomplished in and towards the church. In the same manner the same thing is described, Ps. lxviii. 18, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men;” which is rendered, Eph. iv. 8, “Thou hast given gifts unto men:” for he received the promise at this time only to give out the Spirit and his gifts unto men. And if any are so fond as to expect strength and assistance in the work of the ministry without him, or such success in their labours as shall find acceptance with God, they do but deceive their own souls and others.
Here lay the foundation of the Christian church: The Lord Christ had called his apostles to the great work of building his church, and the propagation of his gospel in the world. Of themselves, they were plainly and openly defective in all qualifications and abilities that might contribute any thing thereunto. But whatever is wanting in themselves, whether light, wisdom, authority, knowledge, utterance, or courage, he promiseth to supply them withal. And this he would not do, nor did, any otherwise but by sending the Holy Spirit unto them; on whose presence and assistance alone depended the whole success of their ministry in the world. It was “through the Holy Ghost that he gave commandments unto them,” Acts i. 2. Those commandments concern the whole work in preaching the gospel and founding of the church; and these he gives unto them through the actings of divine wisdom in the human nature by the Holy Ghost. And on their part, without his assistance he forbids them to attempt any thing, verses 4, 8. In this promise, then, the Lord Christ founded the church itself, and by it he built it up. And this is the hinge whereon the whole weight of it doth turn and depend unto this day. Take it away, suppose it to cease as unto a continual accomplishment, and there will be an absolute end of the church of Christ in this world; — no dispensation of the Spirit, no church. He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word had as good burn his Bible. The bare letter of the New Testament will no more ingenerate faith and obedience in the souls of men, no more constitute a church-state among them who enjoy it, than the letter of the Old Testament doth so at this day 193among the Jews, 2 Cor. iii. 6, 8. But blessed be God, who hath knit these things together towards his elect, in the bond of an everlasting covenant! Isa. lix. 21. Let men, therefore, cast themselves into what order they please, institute what forms of government and religious worship they think good; let them do it either by an attendance according unto the best of their understandings unto the letter of the Scripture, or else in an exercise of their own wills, wisdom, and invention, — if the work of the Spirit of God be disowned or disclaimed by them, if there be not in them and upon them such a work of his as he is promised [for] by our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no church-state amongst them, nor as such is it to be owned or esteemed. And on the ministry and the church do all ordinary communications of grace from God depend.
Thirdly, It is the Holy Spirit who supplies the bodily absence of Christ, and by him doth he accomplish all his promises to the church. Hence, some of the ancients call him “Vicarium Christi,” “The vicar of Christ,” or him who represents his person, and dischargeth his promised work: Operam navat Christo vicariam. When our Lord Jesus was leaving the world, he gave his disciples command to “preach the gospel,” Mark xvi. 15, and to “disciple all nations” into the faith and profession thereof, Matt. xxviii. 19. For their encouragement herein, he promiseth his own presence with them in their whole work, wherever any of them should be called unto it, and that whilst he would have the gospel preached on the earth. So saith he, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” or the consummation of all things, verse 20. Immediately after he had thus spoken unto them, “while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight,” and they “looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up,” Acts i. 9, 10. Where now is the accomplishment of his promise that he would be with them unto the end of all things, which was the sole encouragement he gave them unto their great undertaking? It may be that after this his triumphant ascension into heaven, to take possession of his kingdom and glory, he came again unto them, and made his abode with them. “No,” saith Peter; “the heaven must receive him until the times of restitution of all things,” Acts iii. 21. How, then, is this promise of his made good, which had such a peculiar respect unto the ministry and ministers of the gospel, that without it none can ever honestly or conscientiously engage in the dispensation of it, or expect the least success upon their so doing? Besides, he had promised unto the church itself, that “wherever two or three were gathered together in his name, that he would be in the midst of them,” Matt. xviii. 19, 20. Hereon do all their comforts and all their acceptance with God depend. I say, all these promises are perfectly fulfilled by his 194sending of the Holy Spirit. In and by him he is present with his disciples in their ministry and their assemblies. And whenever Christ leaves the world, the church must do so too; for it is his presence alone which puts men into that condition, or invests them with that privilege: for so he saith, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” 2 Cor. vi. 16; Lev. xxvi. 12. Their being the “people of God,” so as therewithal to be “the temple of the living God,” — that is, to be brought into a sacred church-state for his worship, — depends on his “dwelling in them and walking in them.” And this he doth by his Spirit alone; for, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Cor. iii. 16. He, therefore, so far represents the person, and supplies the bodily absence of Christ, that on his presence the being of the church, the success of the ministry, and the edification of the whole, do absolutely depend. And this, if any thing in the whole gospel, deserves our serious consideration; for, — 1. The Lord Jesus hath told us that his presence with us by his Spirit is better and more expedient for us than the continuance of his bodily presence. Now, who is there that hath any affection for Christ but thinks that the carnal presence of the human nature of Christ would be of unspeakable advantage unto him? And so, no doubt, it would, had any such thing been designed or appointed in the wisdom and love of God. But so it is not; and, on the other side, we are commanded to look for more advantage and benefit by his spiritual presence with us, or his presence with us by the Holy Ghost. It is, therefore, certainly incumbent on us to inquire diligently what valuation we have hereof, and what benefit we have hereby; for if we find not that we really receive grace, assistance, and consolation, from this presence of Christ with us, we have no benefit at all by him nor from him, for he is now no otherwise for these ends with any but by his Spirit. And this they will one day find whose profession is made up of such a sottish contradiction as to avow an honour for Jesus Christ, and yet blaspheme his Spirit in all his holy operations. 2. The Lord Christ having expressly promised to be present with us to the end of all things, there are great inquiries how that promise is accomplished. Some say he is present with us by his ministers and ordinances; but how, then, is he present with those ministers themselves, unto whom the promise of his presence is made in an especial manner? The Papists would have him carnally and bodily present in the sacrament; but he himself hath told us that “the flesh,” in such a sense, “profiteth nothing,” John vi. 63, and that it is the “Spirit alone that quickeneth.” The Lutherans fancy an omnipresence, or ubiquity of his human nature, by virtue of its personal union; but this is destructive of that nature 195itself, which being made to be everywhere, as such a nature, is truly nowhere; and the most learned among them are ashamed of this imagination. The words of Schmidt on Eph. iv. 10, Ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα, are worthy of consideration:— “Per τὰ πάντα, aliqui intelligunt totum mundum, seu totum universum hoc, exponuntque ut omnipræsentia sua omnibus in mundo locis adesset, loca omnia implendo: et hi verbum πληρώσῃ de physicâ et crassâ impletione accipiunt; quam tamen talis πλήρωσις seu impletio locorum in mundo omnium quæ vel expansionem corpoream in quantitate continuâ, vel multiplicationem, imo infinitam multitudinem unius ejusdemque corperis in discreta præsupponit, et ex humana speculatione orta est, falsoque nostris ecclesiis affingitur” (wherein yet he confesseth that it is taught); “ne cogitanda quidem sit pio homini; sed potius omnipræsentia Christi hominis — uti promissa est, modo nobis ineffabili credi, et multo certius aliunde sciri possit ex ipsius promissione,” Matt. xxviii. 20. This way, as we say with the Scripture, is by his Spirit, the perfect manner of whose presence and operation is ineffable.
Fourthly, As he represents the person and supplies the room and place of Jesus Chest, so he worketh and effecteth whatever the Lord Christ hath taken upon himself to work and effect towards his disciples. Wherefore, as the work of the Son was not his own work, but rather the “work of the Father who sent him,” and in whose name he performed it, so the work of the Holy Spirit is not his own work, but rather the work of the Son, by whom he is sent, and in whose name he doth accomplish it: John xvi. 13–15, “Howbeit when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” He comes to reveal and communicate truth and grace to the disciples of Christ; and in his so doing he “speaks not of himself,” that is, of himself only. He comes not with any absolute new dispensation of truth or grace, distinct or different from that which is in and by the Lord Christ, and which they had heard from him. The Holy Spirit being promised unto the disciples, and all their work and duty being suspended on the accomplishment of that promise, whereas he is God, they might suppose that he would come with some absolute new dispensation of truth, so that what they had learned and received from Christ should pass away and be of no use unto them. To prevent any such apprehension, he lets them know that the work he had to do was only to carry on and build on the foundation which was laid in his person or doctrine, or the truth which he had revealed from the bosom 196of the Father. And, — 1. This I take to be the meaning of that expression, “He shall not speak of himself;” — “He shall reveal no other truth, communicate no other grace, but what is in, from, and by myself.” This was the Holy Spirit to do; and this he did. And hereby may we try every spirit whether it be of God. That spirit which revealeth any thing, or pretendeth to reveal any thing, any doctrine, any grace, any truth, that is contrary unto, that is not consonant to, yea, that is not the doctrine, grace, or truth of Christ, as now revealed in the word, that brings any thing new, his own, or of himself, that spirit is not of God. So it is added, — 2. “Whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.” This which he hears is the whole counsel of the Father and the Son concerning the salvation of the church. And how is he said to “hear” it? which word, in its proper signification, hath no place in the mutual internal actings of the divine persons of the holy Trinity. Being the Spirit of the Father and the Son, proceeding from both, he is equally participant of their counsels. So the outward act of hearing is mentioned as the sign of his infinite knowledge of the eternal counsels of the Father and Son; he is no stranger unto them. And this is a general rule, — That those words which, with respect unto us, express the means of any thing, as applied unto God, intend no more but the signs of it. Hearing is the means whereby we come to know the mind of another who is distinct from us; and when God is said to hearken or hear, it is a sign of his knowledge, not the means of it. So is the Holy Spirit said to “hear” those things, because he knows them; as he is also on the same account said to “search the deep things of God.” Add hereunto that the counsel of these things is originally peculiar to the Father, and unto him it is everywhere peculiarly ascribed; therefore is the participation of the Spirit therein as a distinct person called his hearing. Hereunto, 3. His great work is subjoined: “He,” saith Christ, “shall glorify me.” This is the design that he is sent upon, this is the work that he comes to do; even as it was the design and work of Jesus Christ to glorify the Father, by whom he was sent. And this are they always to bear in mind who stand in need of or pray for his assistance in their work or office in the church of God: He is given unto them, that through him they may give and bring glory to Jesus Christ. And, 4. How the Holy Spirit doth glorify the Lord Christ is also declared: “He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” The communication of spiritual things from Christ by the Spirit is here called “his receiving” of them; as the communication of the Spirit from the Father by the Lord Christ to his disciples is called “his receiving of the promise.” The Spirit cannot receive any thing subjectively which he had not, as an addition unto him; it is therefore the economy of these things that is here intended. He is not 197said to receive them, as though before he had them not; for what can he who is God so receive? Only, when he begins to give them unto us, because they are peculiarly the things of Christ, he is said to receive them; for we can give nothing of another’s but what we receive of him. Good things are given unto us from Christ by the Spirit; for so it is added, “And shall show them unto you;” — “He shall make them known unto you; so declare them, and manifestly evidence them to you and in you, that ye shall understand and have experience of them in yourselves; show them by revelation, instructing you in them, by communication imparting them to you.” And what are those things that he shall so declare? They are τὰ ἐμά, “my things,” saith our Saviour. The things of Christ may be referred unto two heads, — his truth and his grace, John i. 17. The first he shows by revelation, the latter by effectual communication. His truth he showed unto them by revelation, as we have declared him to be the immediate author of all divine revelations. This he did unto the apostles by his inspirations, enabling them infallibly to receive, understand, and declare the whole counsel of God in Christ; for so, according unto the promise, he led them into all truth. And his grace he showed unto them in his pouring out both of his sanctifying graces and extraordinary gifts upon them in an abundant measure. And so he still continues to show the truth and grace of Christ unto all believers, though not in the same manner as unto the former, nor unto the same degree as unto the latter: for he shows unto us the “truth of Christ,” or the truth that “came by Jesus Christ,” by the word as written and preached, instructing us in it, and enlightening our minds spiritually and savingly to understand the mind of God therein; and of his grace he imparts unto us in our sanctification, consolation, and communication of spiritual gifts, according unto the measure of the gift of Christ unto every one of us, as the present use of the church doth require; — which things must be afterward declared. 5. And the reason of the assertion is added in the last place: “All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Two things may be observed in these words:—
(1.) The extent of the things of Christ, which are to be showed unto believers by the Spirit; and they are, “All the things that the Father hath.” “They are mine,” saith our Saviour. And these “all things” may be taken either absolutely and personally, or with a restriction unto office. [1.] All things that the Father hath absolutely were the Son’s also; for, receiving his personality from the Father, by the communication of the whole entire divine nature, all the things of the Father must needs be his. Thus, “as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself,” John v. 26. 198And the like may be said of all other essential properties of the Godhead. [2.] But these seem not to be the “all things” here intended. They are not the “all things” of the divine nature, which he had by eternal generation, but the “all things” of spiritual grace and power, which he had by voluntary donation, Matt. xi. 27; John iii. 35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” That is, all the effects of the love, grace, and will of the Father, whatever he had purposed in himself from eternity, and whatever his infinite power and goodness would produce in the pursuit thereof, were all given and committed unto Jesus Christ. So all things that the Father hath were his.
(2.) That these things may be rightly understood and apprehended, we must consider a twofold operation of God as three in one. The first hereof is absolute in all divine works whatever; the other respects the economy of the operations of God in our salvation. In those of the first sort, both the working and the work do in common and undividedly belong unto and proceed from each person. And the reason hereof is, because they are all effects of the essential properties of the same divine nature, which is in them all, or rather, which is the one nature of them all. But yet as they have one nature, so there is an order of subsistence in that nature, and the distinct persons work in the order of their subsistence: John v. 19, 20, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” The Father doth not first work in order of time, and then the Son, seeing of it, work another work like unto it; but the Son doth the same work that the Father doth. This is absolutely necessary, because of their union in nature. But yet in the order of their subsistence, the person of the Father is the original of all divine works, in the principle and beginning of them, and that in order of nature antecedently unto the operation of the Son. Hence he is said to “see” what the Father doth; which, according unto our former rule in the exposition of such expressions, when ascribed unto the divine nature, is the sign and evidence, and not the means, of his knowledge. He sees what the Father doth, as he is his eternal Wisdom. The like must be said of the Holy Spirit, with respect both unto the Father and Son. And this order of operation in the Holy Trinity is not voluntary, but natural and necessary from the one essence and distinct subsistences thereof. Secondly, There are those operations which, with respect unto our salvation, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do graciously condescend unto, which are those treated of in this place. Now, though the designing of this work was absolutely voluntary, yet, upon a supposition thereof, the order of its accomplishment was made necessary from the order of the subsistence 199of the distinct persons in the Deity; and that is here declared. Thus, [1.] The things to be declared unto us and bestowed on us are originally the Father’s things. He is the peculiar fountain of them all. His love, his grace, his wisdom, his goodness, his counsel, his will, are their supreme cause and spring. Hence are they said to be the “things that the Father hath.” [2.] They are made the things of the Son, — that is, they are given and granted in and unto his disposal, — on the account of his mediation; for thereby they were to be prepared for us and given out unto us, to the glory of God. Answerable hereunto, as the Lord Christ is mediator, all the things of grace are originally the Father’s, and then given unto him. [3.] They are actually communicated unto us by the Holy Spirit: “Therefore said I, he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.” He doth not communicate them unto us immediately from the Father. We do not so receive any grace from God, — that is, the Father; nor do we so make any return of praise or obedience unto God. We have nothing to do with the person of the Father immediately. It is the Son alone by whom we have an access unto him, and by the Son alone that he gives out of his grace and bounty unto us. He that hath not the Son hath not the Father. With him, as the great treasurer of heavenly things, are all grace and mercy intrusted. The Holy Spirit, therefore, shows them unto us, works them in us, bestows them on us, as they are the fruits of the mediation of Christ, and not merely as effects of the divine love and bounty of the Father; and this is required from the order of subsistence before mentioned. Thus the Holy Spirit supplies the bodily absence of Jesus Christ, and effects what he hath to do and accomplish towards his [people] in the world; so that whatever is done by him, it is the same as if it were wrought immediately by the Lord Christ himself in his own person, whereby all his holy promises are fully accomplished towards them that believe. And this instructs us in the way and manner of that communion which we have with God by the gospel; for herein the life, power, and freedom of our evangelical state do consist, and an acquaintance herewith gives us our translation “out of darkness into the marvellous light of God.” The person of the Father, in his wisdom, will, and love, is the original of all grace and glory. But nothing hereof is communicated immediately unto us from him. It is from the Son, whom he loves, and hath given all things into his hand. He hath made way for the communication of these things unto us, unto the glory of God; and he doth it immediately by the Spirit, as hath been declared. Hereby are all our returns unto God to be regulated. The Father, who is the original of all grace and glory, is ultimately intended by us in our faith, thankfulness, and obedience; yet not so but that the Son and Spirit are considered as one God with him. 200But we cannot address ourselves with any of them immediately unto him. “There is no going to the Father,” saith Christ, “but by me,” John xiv. 6. “By him we believe in God,” 1 Pet. i. 21. But yet neither can we do so unless we are enabled thereunto by the Spirit, the author in us of faith, prayer, praise, obedience, and whatever our souls tend unto God by. As the descending of God towards us in love and grace issues or ends in the work of the Spirit in us and on us, so all our ascending towards him begins therein; and as the first instance of the proceeding of grace and love towards us from the Father is in and by the Son, so the first step that we take towards God, even the Father, is in and by the Son. And these things ought to be explicitly attended unto by us, if we intend our faith, and love, and duties of obedience should be evangelical. Take an instance of the prayers of wicked men under their convictions, or their fears, troubles, and dangers, and the prayers of believers. The former is merely vox naturæ clamantis ad Dominum naturæ, — an outcry that distressed nature makes to the God of it, — and as such alone it considers him. But the other is vox Spiritus adoptionis clamantis per Christum, Abba, Pater; it is the voice of the Spirit of adoption addressing itself in the hearts of believers unto God as a Father. And a due attendance unto this order of things gives life and spirit unto all that we have to do with God. Woe to professors of the gospel who shall be seduced to believe that all they have to do with God consists in their attendance unto moral virtue! It is fit for them so to do who, being weary of Christianity, have a mind to turn Pagans. But “our fellowship is,” in the way described, “with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” It is, therefore, of the highest importance unto us to inquire into and secure unto ourselves the promised workings of the Holy Spirit; for by them alone are the love of the Father and the fruits of the mediation of the Son communicated unto us, without which we have no interest in them, and by them alone are we enabled to make any acceptable returns of obedience unto God. It is sottish ignorance and infidelity to suppose that, under the gospel, there is no communication between God and us but what is, on his part, in laws, commands, and promises; and on ours, by obedience performed in our strength, and upon our convictions unto them. To exclude hence the real internal operations of the Holy Ghost, is to destroy the gospel. And, as we shall see farther afterward, this is the true ground and reason why there is a sin against the Holy Spirit that is irremissible: for he coming unto us to make application of the love of the Father and grace of the Son unto our souls, in the contempt of him there is a contempt of the whole actings of God towards us in a way of grace; for which there can be no remedy.
201Fifthly, Whereas the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace, and the immediate efficient cause of all grace and gracious effects in men, wherever there is mention made of them or any fruits of them, it is to be looked on as a part of his work, though he be not expressly named, or it be not particularly attributed unto him. I know not well, or do not well understand, what some men begin to talk about moral virtue. Something they seem to aim at (if they would once leave the old Pelagian ambiguous expressions, and learn to speak clearly and intelligibly) that is in their own power, and so, consequently, [in the power] of all other men; at least, it is so with an ordinary blessing upon their own endeavours: which things we must afterward inquire into. But for grace, I think all men will grant that, as to our participation of it, it is of the Holy Spirit, and of him alone. Now, grace is taken two ways in the Scripture:— 1. For the gracious free love and favour of God towards us; and, 2. For gracious, free, effectual operations in us and upon us. In both senses the Holy Spirit is the author of it as unto us: in the first, as to its manifestation and application; in the latter, as to the operation itself. For although he be not the principal cause nor procurer of grace in the first sense, which is the free act of the Father, yet the knowledge, sense, comfort, and all the fruits of it, are by him alone communicated unto us, as we shall see afterward; and the latter is his proper and peculiar work. This, therefore, must be taken for granted, that wherever any gracious actings of God in or towards men are mentioned, it is the Holy Spirit who is peculiarly and principally intended.
Sixthly, It must be duly considered, with reference unto the whole work of the Holy Spirit, that in whatever he doth, he acts, works, and distributes according to his own will. This our apostle expressly affirmeth. And sundry things of great moment do depend hereon in our walking before God; as, —
1. That the will and pleasure of the Holy Spirit is in all the goodness, grace, love, and power, that he either communicates unto us or worketh in us. He is not as a mere instrument or servant, disposing of the things wherein he hath no concern, or over which he hath no power; but in all things he worketh towards us according to his own will. We are, therefore, in what we receive from him and by him, no less to acknowledge his love, kindness, and sovereign grace, than we do those of the Father and the Son.
2. That he doth not work, as a natural agent, ad ultimum virium, to the utmost of his power, as though in all he did he came and did what he could. He moderates all his operations by his will and wisdom. And, therefore, whereas some are said to “resist the Holy Ghost,” Acts vii. 51, and so to frustrate his work towards them, it is not because they can do so absolutely, but only they can do so as to 202some way, kind, or degree of his operations. Men may resist some sort or kind of means that he useth, as to some certain end and purpose, but they cannot resist him as to his purpose and the end he aims at; for he is God, and “who hath resisted his will?” Rom. ix. 19. Wherefore, in any work of his, two things are to be considered:— (1.) What the means he maketh use of tend unto in their own nature; and, (2.) What he intends by it. The first may be resisted and frustrated, but the latter cannot be so. Sometimes in and by that word which in its own nature tends to the conversion of sinners, he intendeth by it only their hardening, Isa. vi. 9, 10; John xii. 40, 41; Acts xxviii. 26, 27; Rom. xi. 8; and he can, when he pleaseth, exert that power and efficacy in working as shall take away all resistance. Sometimes he will only take order for the preaching and dispensation of the word unto men; for this also is his work, Acts xiii. 2. Herein men may resist his work, and reject his counsel concerning themselves; but when he will put forth his power, in and by the word, to the creating of a new heart in men and the opening of the eyes of them that are blind, he doth therein so take away the principle of resistance, that he is not, that he cannot be, resisted.
3. Hence, also, it follows that his works may be of various kinds, and that those which are of the same kind may yet be carried on unequally as to degrees. It is so in the operations of all voluntary agents, who work by choice and judgment. They are not confined to one sort of works, nor to the production of the same kind of effects; and where they design so to do, they moderate them as to degrees, according to their power and pleasure. Thus we shall find some of the works of the Holy Spirit to be such as may be perfect in their kind, and men may be made partakers of the whole end and intention of them, and yet no saving grace be wrought in them; such are his works of illumination, conviction, and sundry others. Men, I say, may have a work of the Holy Spirit on their hearts and minds, and yet not be sanctified and converted unto God; for the nature and kind of his works are regulated by his own will and purpose. If he intend no more but their conviction and illumination, no more shall be effected; for he works not by a necessity of nature, so that all his operations should be of the same kind, and have their especial form from his nature, and not from his will. So, also, where he doth work the same effect in the souls of men, I mean the same in the kind of it, as in their regeneration he doth, yet he doth it by sundry means, and carrieth it on to a great inequality, as to the strengthening of its principle, and increase of its fruits unto holiness; and hence is that great difference as to light, holiness, and fruitfulness, which we find among believers, although all alike partakers of the same grace for the kind thereof. The Holy Spirit worketh in 203all these things according to his own will, whereof there neither is nor can be any other rule but his own infinite wisdom. And this is that which the apostle minds the Corinthians of, to take away all emulation and envy about spiritual gifts, that everyone should orderly make use of what he had received to the profit and edification of others. “They are,” saith he, “given and distributed by the same Spirit, according to his own will, to one after one manner, unto another after another; so that it is an unreasonable thing for any to contend about them.”
But it may be said, “That if not only the working of grace in us, but also the effects and fruits of it, in all its variety of degrees, is to be ascribed unto the Holy Spirit and his operations in us according to his own will, then do we signify nothing ourselves; nor is there any need that we should either use our endeavours and diligence, or at all take any care about the furtherance or growth of holiness in us, or attend unto any duties of obedience. To what end and purpose, then, serve all the commands, threatenings, promises, and exhortations of the Scripture, which are openly designed to excite and draw forth our own endeavours?” And this is indeed the principal difficulty wherewith some men seek to entangle and perplex the grace of God. But I answer, —
1. Let men imagine what absurd consequences they please thereon, yet that the Spirit of God is the author and worker of all grace in us, and of all the degrees of it, of all that is spiritually good in us, is a truth which we must not forego, unless we intend to part with our Bibles also: for in them we are taught “that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwelleth no good thing,” Rom. vii. 18; that “we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God,” 2 Cor. iii. 5, “who is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we may always have all sufficiency in all things, abounding to every good work,” chap. ix. 8; that “without Christ we can do nothing,” John xv. 5, “for it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Phil. ii. 13.
To grant, therefore, that there is any spiritual good in us, or any degree of it, that is not wrought in us by the Spirit of God, both overthrows the grace of the gospel and denies God to be the only, first, supreme, and chiefest good, as also the immediate cause of what is so; which is to deny his very being. It is therefore certain, whatever any pretend, that nothing can hence ensue but what is true and good, and useful to the souls of men; for from truth, especially such great and important truths, nothing else will follow.
2. It is brutish ignorance in any to argue in the things of God, from the effectual operations of the Spirit, unto a sloth and negligence of our own duty. He that doth not know that God hath 204promised to “work in us” in a way of grace what he requires from us in a way of duty, hath either never read the Bible or doth not believe it, either never prayed or never took notice of what he prayed for. He is a heathen, he hath nothing of the Christian in him, who doth not pray that God would work in him what he requires of him. This we know, that what God commands and prescribes unto us, what he encourageth us unto, we ought with all diligence and earnestness, as we value our souls and their eternal welfare, to attend unto and comply withal. And we do know that whatever God hath promised he will do himself in us, towards us, and upon us, it is our duty to believe that he will so do. And to fancy an inconsistency between these things is to charge God foolishly.
3. If there be an opposition between these things, it is either because the nature of man is not meet to be commanded, or because it needs not to be assisted. But that both these are false and vain suppositions shall be afterward declared. The Holy Spirit so worketh in us as that he worketh by us, and what he doth in us is done by us. Our duty it is to apply ourselves unto his commands, according to the conviction of our minds; and his work it is to enable us to perform them.
4. He that will indulge, or can do so, unto sloth and negligence in himself, on the account of the promised working of the Spirit of grace, may look upon it as an evidence that he hath no interest or concern therein; for he ordinarily giveth not out his aids and assistances anywhere but where he prepares the soul with diligence in duty. And whereas he acts us no otherwise but in and by the faculties of our own minds, it is ridiculous, and implies a contradiction, for a man to say he will do nothing, because the Spirit of God doth all; for where he doth nothing, the Spirit of God doth nothing, unless it be merely in the infusion of the first habit or principle of grace, whereof we shall treat afterward.
5. For degrees of grace and holiness which are inquired after, they are peculiar unto believers. Now, these are furnished with an ability and power to attend unto and perform those duties whereon the increase of grace and holiness doth depend; for although there is no grace nor degree of grace or holiness in believers but what is wrought in them by the Spirit of God, yet, ordinarily and regularly, the increase and growth of grace, and their thriving in holiness and righteousness, depend upon the use and improvement of grace received, in a diligent attendance unto all those duties of obedience which are required of us, 2 Pet. i. 5–7. And methinks it is the most unreasonable and sottish thing in the world, for a man to be slothful and negligent in attending unto those duties which God requireth of him, which all his spiritual growth depends upon, which 205the eternal welfare of his soul is concerned in, on pretence of the efficacious aids of the Spirit, without which he can do nothing, and which he neither hath nor can have whilst he doth nothing.
Here lies the ground and foundation of our exercising faith in particular towards him, and of our acting of it in supplications and thanksgivings. His participation of the divine nature is the formal reason of our yielding unto him divine and religious worship in general; but his acting towards us according to the sovereignty of his own will is the especial reason of our particular addresses unto him in the exercise of grace, for we are baptized into his name also.
Seventhly, We may observe that, in the actings and works of the Holy Spirit, some things are distinctly and separately ascribed unto him, although some things be of the same kind wrought by the person in and by whom he acts; or, he is said at the same time to do the same thing distinctly by himself, and in and by others. So John xv. 26, 27: “I will,” saith our Saviour, “send the Spirit of truth, and he shall testify of me, and ye also shall bear witness.” The witness of the Spirit unto Christ is proposed as distinct and separate from the witness given by the apostles: “He shall testify of me, and ye also shall bear witness.” And yet they also were enabled to give their witness by him alone. So it is expressly declared, Acts i. 8, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me.” Their witnessing unto Christ was the effect of the power of the Holy Spirit upon them, and the effect of his work in them; and he himself gave no other testimony but in and by them. What, then, is the distinct testimony that is ascribed unto him? It must be somewhat that, in or by whomsoever it was wrought, did of its own nature discover its relation unto him as his work. So it was in this matter; for it was no other but those signs and wonders, or miraculous effects, which he wrought in the confirmation of the testimony given by the apostles, all which clearly evidenced their own original. So our apostle, Heb. ii. 3, 4. The word was “confirmed, συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ Θεοῦ σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασι,” — “God co-witnessing by signs and wonders.” He enabled the apostles to bear witness unto Christ by their preaching, sufferings, holiness, and constant testimony which they gave unto his resurrection. But in this he appeared not, he evidenced not himself unto the world, though he did so in and by them in whom he wrought. But, moreover, he wrought such visible, miraculous works by them as evidenced themselves to be effects of his power, and were his distinct witness to Christ. So our apostle tells us, Rom. viii. 16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” The witness which our own spirits do give unto our adoption is the work and effect of the Holy Spirit in us. If it 206were not, it would be false, and not confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit himself, who is the Spirit of truth; and none “knoweth the things of God but the Spirit of God,” 1 Cor. ii. 11. If he declare not our sonship in us and to us, we cannot know it. How, then, doth he bear witness with our spirits? what is his distinct testimony in this matter? It must be some such act of his as evidenceth itself to be from him immediately unto them that are concerned in it, — that is, those unto whom it is given. What this is in particular, and wherein it doth consist, we shall afterward inquire. So Rev. xxii. 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” The bride is the church, and she prayeth for the coming of Christ. This she doth by his aid and assistance who is the Spirit of grace and supplications. And yet distinctly and separately the Spirit saith, “Come;” that is, he puts forth such earnest and fervent desires as have upon them an impression of his immediate efficiency. So verse 20 carrieth the sense of the place, — namely, that it is Christ himself unto whom she says “Come;” or they pray for the hastening of his coming. Or they say “Come” unto others, in their invitation of them unto Christ, as the end of verse 17 seems to apply it: then is it the prayers and preaching of the church for the conversion of souls that is intended; and with both the Spirit works eminently to make them effectual. Or it may be, in this place, “the Spirit” is taken for the Spirit in the guides and leaders of the church. They, praying by his especial guidance and assistance, say, “Come;” or preachers say unto others, “Come;” and “the bride,” or the body of the church, acted by the same Spirit, joins with them in this great request and supplication. And thereunto all believers are invited in the following words: “And let him that heareth say, Come.”
All these things were necessary to be premised in general, as giving some insight into the nature of the operations of the Holy Spirit in us and towards us; and hereby we have made our way plain to the consideration of his especial works, in the calling, building, and carrying on the church unto perfection. Now, all his works of this kind may be reduced unto three heads:— 1. Of sanctifying grace; 2. Of especial gifts; 3. Of peculiar evangelical privileges. Only, we must observe that these things are not so distinguished as to be negatively contradistinct to each other; for the same thing, under several considerations, may be all these, — a grace, a gift, and a privilege. All that I intend is to reduce the operations of the Holy Spirit unto these heads, casting each of them under that which it is most eminent in, and as which it is most directly proposed unto us; and I shall begin with his work of grace.
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