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Gal. iv. 6 opened and vindicated.
The next general evidence given unto the truth under consideration is the account of the accomplishment of this promise under the New Testament, where also the nature of the operation of the Holy Spirit herein is in general expressed; and this is Gal. iv. 6, “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” An account, as was said, is here given of the accomplishment of the promise before explained; and sundry things may be considered in the words:—
First, The subjects on whom he is bestowed, and in whom he worketh, are believers, or those who by the Spirit of adoption are made the children of God. We receive the adoption of sons; and because we are sons, he sendeth his Spirit into our hearts. And this privilege of adoption we obtain by faith in Christ Jesus: John i. 12, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Secondly, there is an especial appellation or description of the Spirit as promised and given unto this purpose, — he is the “Spirit of the Son.” That the original ground and reason hereof is his eternal relation to the Son, as proceeding from him, hath been elsewhere evinced; but there is something more particular here intended. He is called the “Spirit of the Son” with respect unto his communication to believers. There is, therefore, included herein that especial regard unto Jesus Christ the Son of God which is in the work mentioned, as it is an evangelical mercy and privilege. He is, therefore, called the “Spirit of the Son,” not only because of his eternal procession from him, but, — 1. Because he was in the first place given unto him, as the head of the church, for the unction, consecration, and sanctification of his human nature. Here he laid the foundation, and gave an example of what he was to do in and towards all his members. 2. It is immediately from and by him that he is communicated unto us, and that two ways:— (1.) Authoritatively, by virtue of the covenant between the Father and him, whereon, upon his accomplishment of the work of the mediation in a state of humiliation, 266according to it, he “received the promise of the Holy Ghost;” that is, power and authority to bestow him on whom he would, for all the ends of that mediation, Acts ii. 33, v. 32. (2.) Formally, in that all the graces of the Spirit are derived unto us from him, as the head of the church, as the spring of all spiritual life, in whom they were all treasured and laid up unto that purpose, Col. i. 19, ii. 19; Eph. iv. 16; Col. iii. 1–4.
Secondly, The work of this Spirit in general, as bestowed on believers, is partly included, partly expressed, in these words. In general (which is included) he enables them to behave themselves suitably unto that state and condition whereinto they are taken upon their faith in Christ Jesus. They are made children of God by adoption, and it is meet they be taught to carry themselves as becomes that new relation. “Because ye are sons, he hath given you the Spirit of his Son;” without which they cannot walk before him as becometh sons. He teacheth them to bear and behave themselves no longer as foreigners and strangers, nor as servants only, but as “children” and “heirs of God,” Rom. viii. 15, 17. He endoweth them with a frame and disposition of heart unto holy, filial obedience; for as he takes away the distance, making them to be nigh who were aliens and far from God, so he removes that fear, dread, and bondage, which they are kept in who are under the power of the law: 2 Tim. i. 7, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;” not “the spirit of fear,” or a “spirit of bondage unto fear,” as Rom. viii. 15, — that is, in and by the efficacy of the law, filling our minds with dread, and such considerations of God as will keep us at a distance from him. But he is in the sons, on whom he is bestowed, a Spirit of power, strengthening and enabling them unto all duties of obedience. This Πνεῦμα δυνάμεως is that whereby we are enabled to obedience, which the apostle gives thanks for, 1 Tim. i. 12, Χάριν ἔχω τῷ ἐνδυναμώσαντί με Χριστῷ, “To Christ that enableth me;” that is, by his Spirit of power: for without the Spirit of adoption we have not the least strength or power to behave ourselves as sons in the family of God. And he is also, as thus bestowed, a Spirit of love, who worketh in us that love unto God and that delight in him which becometh children towards their heavenly Father. This is the first genuine consequent of this relation. There may be many duties performed unto God where there is no true love to him, at least no love unto him as a Father in Christ, which alone is genuine and accepted. And, lastly, he is also a Spirit σωφρονισμοῦ, of a modest, grave, and sober mind. Even children are apt to wax wanton, and curious, and proud in their Father’s house; but the Spirit enables them to behave themselves with that sobriety, modesty, and humility, which becometh the family 267of God. And in these three things, spiritual power, love, and sobriety of mind, consists the whole deportment of the children of God in his family. This is the state and condition of those who, by the effectual working of the Spirit of adoption, are delivered from the “spirit of bondage unto fear,” which the apostle discourseth of, Rom. viii. 15.
Those who are under the power of that Spirit, or that efficacious working of the Spirit by the law, cannot, by virtue of any aids or assistance, make their addresses unto him by prayer in a due manner; for although the means whereby they are brought into this state be the Spirit of God acting upon their souls and consciences by the law, yet formally, as they are in the state of nature, the spirit whereby they are acted is the unclean “spirit of the world,” or the influence of him who “ruleth in the children of disobedience.” The law that they obey is the “law of the members” mentioned by the apostle, Rom. vii. 23. The works which they perform are the “unfruitful works of darkness;” and the fruits of these unfruitful works are “sin” and “death.” Being under this bondage, they have no power to approach unto God; and their bondage tending unto fear, they can have no delight in an access unto him. Whatever other provisions or preparations such persons may have for this duty, they can never perform it unto the glory of God, or so as to find acceptance with him. With those who are delivered from this state, all things are otherwise. The Spirit whereby they are acted is the Spirit of God, — the Spirit of adoption, of power, love, and a sound mind. The law which they are under obedience unto is the holy law of God, as written in the fleshy tables of their hearts. The effects of it are faith and love, with all other graces of the Spirit; whereof they receive the fruits in peace, with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Thirdly, An instance is given of his effectually working these things in the adopted sons of God, in the duty of prayer crying, “Abba, Father.” The object of the especial duty intended is “God, even the Father,” Eph. ii. 18. “Abba, ὁ Πατήρ.” Abba is the Syriac or Chaldee name for Father, then in common use among the Jews, and Πατήρ was the same name amongst the Greeks or Gentiles; so that the common interest of Jews and Gentiles in this privilege may be intended, or rather, a holy boldness and intimate confidence of love is designed in the reduplication of the name. The Jews have a saying in the Babylonian Talmud, in the Treatise of Blessings, העבדים וחשפחות אין קורין אותם לא אבא פלוני ולא אמא פלונית, — “Servants and handmaids” (that is, bond-servants) “do not call on such a one Abba or Ymma.” Freedom of state, with a fight unto adoption, whereof they are incapable, is required unto this liberty and confidence. God gives unto his adopted sons רוּחַ נְדִּיבָה, a free Spirit,” Ps. li. 12, 268— a Spirit of gracious, filial ingenuity. This is that Spirit which cries “Abba.” That is the word whereby those who were adopted did first salute their fathers, to testify their affection and obedience. For “abba” signifies not only “father,” but “my father;” for אָבִי, “my father,” in the Hebrew, is rendered by the Chaldee paraphrast only אַבָּא, “abba.” See Gen. xix. 34, and elsewhere constantly. To this purpose speaks Chrysostom: Βουλόμενος δεῖξαι γνησιότηατ, καὶ τῇ τῶν Ἑβραίων ἐχρήσατο γλώσσῃ· οὐ γὰρ εἶπε μόνον ὁ πατὴρ ἀλλ’ ἀββᾶ ὁ πατὴρ, ὅπερ τῶν παίδων μάλιστά ἐστι τῶν γνησίων πρὸς πατέρα ῥῆμα· — “Being willing to show the ingenuity” (that is in this duty), “he useth also the language of the Hebrews, and says not only ‘Father,’ but ‘Abba, Father;’ which is a word proper unto them who are highly ingenuous.”
And this he effecteth two ways:— 1. By the excitation of graces and gracious affections in their souls in this duty, especially those of faith, love, and delight. 2. By enabling them to exercise those graces and express those affections in vocal prayer; for χράζον denotes not only crying, but an earnestness of mind expressed in vocal prayer. It is praying φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, as it is said of our Saviour, Matt. xxvii. 50; for the whole of our duty in our supplications is expressed herein. Now, we are not concerned, or do not at present inquire, what course they take, what means they employ, or what helps they use in prayer, who are not as yet partakers of this privilege of adoption. It is only those who are so whom the Spirit of God assists in this duty; and the only question is, what such persons are to do in compliance with his assistance, or what it is that they obtain thereby.
And we may compare the different expressions used by the apostle in this matter, whereby the general nature of the work of the Spirit herein will farther appear. In this place he saith, “God hath sent forth into our hearts τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ κράζον, — the Spirit of his Son, crying, Abba, Father.” Rom. viii. 15, he saith we have received τὸ Πνεῦρμα υἱοθεσίας, ἐν ᾧ κράζομεν, “the Spirit of adoption,” — the Spirit of the Son, given us because we are sons, — “whereby,” or in whom, “we cry, Abba, Father.” His acting in us, and our acting by him, are expressed by the same word; and the inquiry here is, how, in the same duty, he is said to “cry” in us, and we are said to “cry” in him. And there can be no reason hereof but only because the same work is both his and ours in diverse respects. As it is an act of grace and spiritual power it is his, or it is wrought in us by him alone. As it is a duty performed by us, by virtue of his assistance, it is ours, — by him we cry, “Abba, Father;” and to deny his actings in our duties is to overthrow the gospel. And it is prayer formally considered, and as comprising the gift of it, with its outward exercise, which is intended. 269The mere excitation of the graces of faith, love, trust, delight, desire, self-abasement, and the like animating principles of prayer, cannot be expressed by crying, though it be included in it. Their actual exercise in prayer, formally considered, is that which is ascribed unto the Spirit of God. And they seem to deal somewhat severely with the church of God and all believers who will not allow that the work here expressly assigned unto the Spirit of adoption, or of the Son, is sufficient for its end, or the discharge of this duty, either in private or in the assemblies of the church. There is no more required unto prayer either way but our crying, “Abba, Father,” — that is, the making our requests known unto him as our Father in Christ, — with supplications and thanksgivings, according as our state and occasions do require. And is not the aid of the Spirit of God sufficient to enable us hereunto? It was so of old, and that unto all believers, according as they were called unto this duty, with respect unto their persons, families, or the church of God. If it be not so now, it is either because God will not now communicate his Spirit unto his children or sons, according to the promise of the gospel; or because, indeed, this grace and gift of his is by men despised, neglected, and lost; — and the former cannot be asserted on any safe grounds whatever; the latter it is our interest to consider.
This twofold testimony, concerning the promise of the communication of the Holy Spirit or a Spirit of supplication unto believers under the New Testament, and the accomplishment of it, doth sufficiently evince our general assertion, that there is a peculiar work or special gracious operation of the Holy Ghost in the prayers of believers enabling them thereunto; for we intend no more hereby but that as they do receive him by virtue of that promise (which the world cannot do), in order unto his gracious efficiency in the duty of supplication, so he doth actually incline, dispose, and enable them to cry “Abba, Father,” or to call upon God in prayer as their Father by Jesus Christ. To deny this, therefore, is to rise up in contradiction unto the express testimony of God himself, and by our unbelief to make him a liar. And had we nothing farther to plead in this cause, this were abundantly sufficient to reprove the petulant folly of them by whom this work of the Holy Ghost, and the duty of believers thereon to “pray in the Spirit,” — if we may use the despised and blasphemed expressions of the Scripture, — is scorned and derided.
For as to the ability of prayer which is thus received, some there are who know no more of it, as exercised in a way of duty, but the outside, shell, and appearance of it; and that not from their own experience, but from what they [have] observed in others. Of these there 270are not a few who confidently affirm that it is wholly a work of fancy, invention, memory, and wit, accompanied with some boldness and elocution, unjustly fathered on the Spirit of God, who is no way concerned therein; and, it may be, they do persuade many, no better skilled in these things than themselves, that so it is indeed. Howbeit, those who have any experience of the real aids and assistances of the Spirit of God in this work and duty, any faith in the express testimonies given by God himself hereunto, cannot but despise such fabulous imaginations. You may as soon persuade them that the sun doth not give light, nor the fire heat, that they see not with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, as that the Spirit of God doth not enable them to pray, or assist them in their supplications. And there might some probability be given unto these pretences, and unto the total exclusion of the Holy Ghost from any concernment herein, if those concerning whom and their duties they thus judge were generally persons known to excel others in those natural endowments and acquired abilities whereunto this faculty of prayer is ascribed. But will this be allowed by them who make use of this pretence, — namely, that those who are thus able to pray, as they pretend, by virtue of a spiritual glib, are persons excelling in fancy, memory, wit, invention, and elocution? It is known that they will admit of no such thing; but in all other instances they must be represented as dull, stupid, ignorant, unlearned, and brutish: only in prayer they have the advantage of those natural endowments! These things are hardly consistent with common ingenuity; for is it not strange that those who are so contemptible with respect unto natural and acquired endowments in all other things, whether of science or of prudence, should yet in this one duty or work of prayer so improve them as to outgo the imitation of them [by those] by whom they are despised? for as they do not, as they will not, pray as they do, so their own hearts tell them they cannot; which is the true reason why they so despitefully oppose this praying in the Spirit, whatever pride or passion pretends to the contrary. But things of this nature will again occur unto us, and therefore shall not be here farther insisted on. Having, therefore, proved that God hath promised a plentiful dispensation of his Spirit unto believers under the New Testament, to enable them to pray according unto his mind, and that, in general, this promise is accomplished in and towards all the children of God, it remaineth, in the second place, as to what we have proposed, that we declare what is the work of the Holy Ghost in them unto this end and purpose, or how he is unto us a Spirit of prayer or supplication.
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