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That which remains to complete our discourses concerning the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, is the office and work that he hath undertaken for the consolation of the church; and, —
Three things are to be considered with respect unto this head of the grace of the gospel:— I. That the Holy Spirit is the comforter of the church by way of especial office. II. What is in that office, or wherein the discharge of it doth consist. III. What are the effects of it towards believers.
It must be granted that there is some impropriety in that expression, by the way of office. An office is not simply, nor, it may be, properly spoken of a divine person, who is absolutely so and nothing else. But the like impropriety is to be found in most of the expressions which we use concerning God, for who can speak of him aright or as he ought? Only, we have a safe rule whereby to express our conceptions, even what he speaks of himself. And he hath taught us to learn the work of the Holy Ghost towards us in this matter by ascribing unto him those things which belong unto an office among men.
Four things are required unto the constitution of an office:— 1. An especial trust; 2. An especial mission or commission; 3. An especial name; 4. An especial work. All these are required unto an office properly so called; and where they are complied withal by a voluntary susception in the person designed thereunto, an office is completely constituted. And we must inquire how these things in a divine manner do concur in the work of the Holy Spirit as he is the comforter of the church.
First, He is intrusted with this work, and of his own will hath taken it on himself; for when our Saviour was leaving of the world, and had a full prospect of all the evils, troubles, dejections, and disconsolations 356which would befall his disciples, and knew full well that if they were left unto themselves they would faint and perish under them, he gives them assurance that the work of their consolation and supportment was left intrusted and committed unto the Holy Spirit, and that he would both take care about it and perfect it accordingly.
The Lord Christ, when he left this world, was very far from laying aside his love unto and care of his disciples. He hath given us the highest assurance that he continueth for ever the same care, the same love and grace, towards us, which he had and exercised when he laid down his life for us. See Heb. iv. 14–16, vii. 25, 26. But inasmuch as there was a double work yet to be performed in our behalf, one towards God and the other in ourselves, he hath taken a twofold way for the performance of it. That towards God he was to discharge immediately himself in his human nature; for other mediator between God and man there neither is nor can be any. This he doth by his intercession. Hence there was a necessity that, as to his human nature, the “heaven should receive him until the times of the restitution of all things,” as Acts iii. 21. There was so both with respect unto himself and us.
1. Three things with respect unto himself made the exaltation of his human nature in heaven to be necessary; for, —
(1.) It was to be a pledge and token of God’s acceptation of him, and approbation of what he had done in the world, John xvi. 7, 8; for what could more declare or evidence the consent and delight of God in what he had done and suffered; than, after he had been so ignominiously treated in the world, to receive him visibly, gloriously, and triumphantly into heaven? “He was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,” and, in the issue, “received up into glory,” 1 Tim. iii. 16. Herein God set the great seal of heaven unto his work of mediation, and the preaching of the gospel which ensued thereon; and a testimony hereunto was that which filled his enemies with rage and madness, Acts vii. 55–58. His resurrection confirmed his doctrine with undeniable efficacy; but his assumption into heaven testified unto his person with an astonishing glory.
(2.) It was necessary with respect unto the human nature itself, that, after all its labours and sufferings, it might be “crowned with glory and honour.” He was to “suffer” and “enter into his glory,” Luke xxiv. 26. Some dispute whether Christ in his human nature merited any thing for himself or no; but, not to immix ourselves in the niceties of that inquiry, it is unquestionable that the highest glory was due to him upon his accomplishment of the work committed unto him in this world, which he therefore lays claim to accordingly, John xvii. 4, 5. It was so, —
357(3.) With respect unto the glorious administration of his kingdom: for as his kingdom is not of this world, so it is not only over this world, or the whole creation below; — the angels of glory, those principalities and powers above, are subject unto him, and belong unto his dominion, Eph. i. 21; Phil. ii. 9–11. Among them, attended with their ready service and obedience unto all his commands, doth he exercise the powers of his glorious kingdom. And they would but degrade him from his glory, without the least advantage unto themselves, who would have him forsake his high and glorious throne in heaven to come and reign among them on the earth, unless they suppose themselves more meet attendants on his regal dignity than the angels themselves, who are mighty in strength and glory.
2. The presence of the human nature of Christ in heaven was necessary with respect unto us. The remainder of his work with God on our behalf was to be carried on by intercession, Heb. vii. 25–27; and whereas this intercession consisteth in the virtual representation of his oblation, or of himself as a lamb slain in sacrifice, it could not be done without his continual appearing in the presence of God, chap. ix. 24.
The other part of the work of Christ respects the church, or believers, as its immediate object; so, in particular, doth his comforting and supporting of them. This is that work which, in a peculiar manner, is committed and intrusted unto the Holy Spirit, after the departure of the human nature of Christ into heaven.
But two things are to be observed concerning it:— 1. That whereas this whole work consisteth in the communication of spiritual light, grace, and joy to the souls of believers, it was no less the immediate work of the Holy Ghost whilst the Lord Christ was upon the earth than it is now he is absent in heaven; only, during the time of his conversation here below, in the days of his flesh, his holy disciples looked on him as the only spring and foundation of all their consolation, their only support, guide, and protector, as they had just cause to do. They had yet no insight into the mystery of the dispensation of the Spirit; nor was he yet so given or poured out as to evidence himself and his operation unto their souls. Wherefore they looked on themselves as utterly undone when their Lord and Master began to acquaint them with his leaving of them. No sooner did he tell them of it but “sorrow filled their hearts,” John xvi. 6. Wherefore he immediately lets them know that this great work of relieving them from all their sorrows and fears, of dispelling their disconsolations, and supporting them under their trouble, was committed to the Holy Ghost, and would by him be performed in so eminent a manner as that his departure from them would be unto their advantage, verse 7. Wherefore the Holy Spirit did not then 358first begin really and effectually to be the comforter of believers upon the departure of Christ from his disciples, but he is then first promised so to be, upon a double account:— (1.) Of the full declaration and manifestation of it. So things are often said in the Scripture then to be, when they do appear and are made manifest. An eminent instance hereof we have in this case, John vii. 38, 39. The disciples had hitherto looked for all immediately from Christ in the flesh, the dispensation of the Spirit being hid from them. But now this also was to be manifested unto them. Hence the apostle affirms, that “though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we him no more,” 2 Cor. v. 16; that is, so as to look for grace and consolation immediately from him in the flesh, as it is evident the apostles did before they were instructed in this unknown office of the Holy Ghost. (2.) Of the full exhibition and eminent communication of him unto this end. This in every kind was reserved for the exaltation of Christ, when he received the promise of the Spirit from the Father, and poured it out upon his disciples.
2. The Lord Christ doth not hereby cease to be the comforter of his church; for what he doth by his Spirit, he doth by himself. He is with us unto the end of the world by his Spirit being with us; and he dwelleth in us by the Spirit dwelling in us; and whatever else is done by the Spirit is done by him. And it is so upon a threefold account: for, —
(1.) The Lord Christ as mediator is God and man in one person, and the divine nature is to be considered in all his mediatory operations; for he who worketh them is God, and he worketh them all as God-man, whence they are theandrical. And this is proposed unto us in the greatest acts of his humiliation; which the divine nature in itself is not formally capable of. So “God purchased the church with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28. “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Phil. ii. 6–8. Now, in this respect the Lord Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in nature, essence, will, and power. As he said of the Father, “I and my Father are one,” John x. 30; so it is with the Spirit, — he and the Spirit are one. Hence all the works of the Holy Spirit are his also. As his works were the works of the Father, and the works of the Father were his, all the operations of the holy Trinity, as to things external unto their divine subsistence, being undivided; so is the work of the Holy Spirit in the consolation of the church his work also.
(2.) Because the Holy Spirit in this condescension unto office acts for Christ and in his name. So the Son acted for and in the name of the Father, where he everywhere ascribed what he did unto the Father in a peculiar manner: “The word,” saith he, “which ye 359hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me,” John xiv. 24. It is his originally and eminently, because, as spoken by the Lord Christ, he was said by him to speak it. So are those acts of the Spirit whereby he comforteth believers the acts of Christ, because the Spirit speaketh and acteth for him and in his name.
(3.) All those things, those acts of light, grace, and mercy, whereby the souls of the disciples of Christ are comforted by the Holy Ghost, are the things of Christ, — that is, especial fruits of his mediation. So speaketh our Saviour himself of him and his work: “He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you,” John xvi. 14. All that consolation, peace, and joy, which he communicates unto believers, yea, all that he doth in his whole work towards the elect, is but the effectual communication of the fruits of the mediation of Christ unto them. And this is the first thing that constitutes the office of the Comforter; this work is committed and intrusted unto him in an especial manner, which, in the infinite condescension of his own will, he takes upon him.
Secondly, It farther evinceth the nature of an of office in that he is said to be sent unto the work; and mission always includeth commission. He who is sent is intrusted and empowered as unto what he is sent about. See Ps. civ. 30; John xiv. 26, xv. 26, xvi. 7. The nature of this sending of the Spirit, and how it is spoken of him in general, hath been considered before, in our declaration of his general adjuncts, or what is affirmed of him in the Scripture, and may not here again be insisted on. It is now mentioned only as an evidence to prove that, in this work of his towards us, he hath taken that on him which hath the nature of an office; for that which he is sent to perform is his office, and he will not fail in the discharge of it. And it is in itself a great principle of consolation unto all true believers, an effectual means of their supportment and refreshment, to consider, that not only is the Holy Ghost their comforter, but also that he is sent of the Father and the Son so to be. Nor can there be a more uncontrollable evidence of the care of Jesus Christ over his church, and towards his disciples in all their sorrows and sufferings, than this is, that he sends the Holy Ghost to be their comforter.
Thirdly, He hath an especial name given him, expressing and declaring his office. When the Son of God was to be incarnate and born in the world, he had an especial name given unto him: “He shall be called Jesus.” Now, although there was in this name a signification of the work he was to do, — for he was called Jesus, “because he was to save his people from their sins,” Matt. i. 21, — yet was it also that proper name whereby he was to be distinguished from other persons. So the Holy Spirit hath no other name but that of the Holy Spirit, which, how it is characteristical of the third person 360in the holy Trinity, hath been before declared. But as both the names Jesus and Christ, though neither of them is the name of an office, as one hath dreamed of late, yet have respect unto the work which he had to do and the office which he was to undergo, without which he could not have rightly been so called; so hath the Holy Ghost a name given unto him, which is not distinctive with respect unto his personality, but denominative with respect unto his work, and this is ὁ Παράκλητος.
1. This name is used only by the apostle John, and that in his Gospel only, from the mouth of Christ, chap. xiv. 16, 26, xv. 26, xvi. 7; and once he useth it himself, applying it unto Christ,1 John ii. 1, 2, where we render it “An advocate.”
The Syriac interpreter retains the name פָרַקְלִיטָא, Paraclita; not, as some imagine, from the use of that word before among the Jews, which cannot be proved. Nor is it likely that our Saviour made use of a Greek word barbarously corrupted; הַמְּנַחֵם was the word he employed to this purpose. But looking on it [as] a proper name of the Spirit with respect unto his office, he would not translate it.
As this word is applied unto Christ, — which it is in that one place of John ii. 1, — it respects his intercession, and gives us light into the nature of it. That it is his intercession which the apostle intends is evident from its relation unto his being “our propitiation;” for the oblation of Christ on the earth is the foundation of his intercession in heaven. And he doth therein undertake our patronage, as our advocate, to plead our cause, and in an especial manner to keep off evil from us: for although the intercession of Christ in general respects the procurement of all grace and mercy for us, every thing whereby we may be “saved to the uttermost,” Heb. vii. 25, 26, yet his intercession for us as an advocate respects sin only, and the evil consequents of it; for so is he in this place said to be our advocate, and in this place alone is he said to be so only with respect unto sin: “If any man sin, we have an advocate.” Wherefore, his being so doth in particular respect that part of his intercession wherein he undertakes our defence and protection when accused of sin: for Satan is ὁ κατήγορος, the accuser, Rev. xii. 10; and when he accuseth believers for sin, Christ is their παράκλητος, their patron and advocate. For, according unto the duty of a patron or advocate in criminal causes, partly he showeth wherein the accusation is false, and aggravated above the truth, or proceeds upon mistakes; partly, that the crimes charged have not that malice in them that is pretended; and principally he pleadeth his propitiation for them, that so far as they are really guilty they may be graciously discharged.
[As] for this name, as applied unto the Holy Spirit, some translate it a Comforter, some an Advocate, and some retain the Greek word 361Paraclete. It may be best interpreted from the nature of the work assigned unto him under that name. Some would confine the whole work intended under this name unto his teaching, which he is principally promised for; for “the matter and manner of his teaching, what he teacheth, and the way how he doth it, is,” they say, “the ground of all consolation unto the church.” And there may be something in this interpretation of the word, taking “teaching” in a large sense, for all internal, divine, spiritual operations. So are we said to be “taught of God” when faith is wrought in us, and we are enabled to come unto Christ thereby. And all our consolations are from such internal divine operations. But take “teaching” properly, and we shall see that it is but one distinct act of the work of the Holy Ghost, as here promised, among many. But, —
2. The work of a comforter is principally ascribed unto him; for, — (1.) That he is principally under this name intended as a comforter is evident from the whole context and the occasion of the promise. It was with respect unto the troubles and sorrows of his disciples, with their relief therein, that he is promised under this name by our Saviour. “I will not,” saith he, “leave you orphans,” John xiv. 18; — “Though I go away from you, yet I will not leave you in a desolate and disconsolate condition.” How shall that be prevented in his absence, who was the life and spring of all their comforts? Saith he, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you ἄλλον παράκλητον,” verse 16; that is, “another to be your comforter.” So he renews again his promise of sending him under this name, because “sorrow had filled their heart” upon the apprehension of his departure, chap. xvi. 6, 7. Wherefore, he is principally considered as a comforter : and, as we shall see farther afterward, this is his principal work, most suited unto his nature, as he is the Spirit of peace, love, and joy; for he who is the eternal, essential love of the Divine Being, as existing in the distinct persons of the Trinity, is most meet to communicate a sense of divine love, with delight and joy, unto the souls of believers. Hereby he sets up the “kingdom of God” in them, which is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” Rom. xiv. 17. And in nothing doth he so evidence his presence in the hearts and spirits of any as by the disposal of them unto spiritual love and joy; for, “shedding abroad the love of, God in our hearts,” as chap. v. 5, he produceth a principle and frame of divine love in our souls, and fills us with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The attribution, therefore, of this name unto him, The Comforter, evidenceth that he performs this work in the way of an office.
(2.) Neither is the signification of an Advocate to be omitted, seeing what he doth as such tendeth also to the consolation of the 362church. And we must first observe, that the Holy Spirit is not our advocate with God. This belongs alone unto Jesus Christ, and is a part of his office. He is said, indeed, to “make intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered,” Rom. viii. 26; but this he doth not immediately, or in his own person. He no otherwise “maketh intercession for us” but by enabling us to make intercession according unto the mind of God; for to make intercession formally is utterly inconsistent with the divine nature and his person, who hath no other nature but that which is divine. He is, therefore, incapable of being our advocate with God; the Lord Christ is so alone, and that on the account of his precedent propitiation made for us. But he is an advocate for the church, in, with, and against the world. Such an advocate is one that undertaketh the protection and defence of another as to any cause wherein he is engaged. The cause wherein the disciples of Christ are engaged in and against the world is the truth of the gospel, the power and kingdom of their Lord and Master. This they testify unto; this is opposed by the world; and this, under various forms, appearances, and pretences, is that which they suffer reproaches and persecutions for in every generation. In this cause the Holy Spirit is their advocate, justifying Jesus Christ and the gospel against the world.
And this he doth three ways:— [1.] By suggesting unto and furnishing the witnesses of Christ with pleas and arguments to the conviction of gainsayers. So it is promised that he should do, Matt. x. 18–20, “Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” They were to be “given up,” — that is, delivered up as malefactors, — unto kings and rulers, for their faith in Christ, and the testimony they gave unto him. In this condition the best of men are apt to be solicitous about their answers, and the plea they are to make in the defence of themselves and their cause. Our Saviour, therefore, gives them encouragement, not only from the truth and goodness of their cause, but also from the ability they should have in pleading for it unto the conviction or confusion of their adversaries. And this he tells them should come to pass, not by any power or faculty in themselves, but by the aid and supply they should receive from this Advocate, who in them would speak by them. This was that “mouth and wisdom” which he promised unto them, “which all their adversaries should not be able to gainsay nor resist,” Luke xxi. 15; — a present supply of courage, boldness, and liberty of speech, above and beyond their natural temper and abilities, 363immediately upon their receiving of the Holy Ghost. And their very enemies saw the effects of it unto their astonishment. Upon the plea they made before the council at Jerusalem, it is said that “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled,” Acts iv. 13. They saw their outward condition, that they were poor, and of the meanest of the people, yet carried it with courage and boldness before this great sanhedrim, with whose authority and unusual appearance in grandeur all persons of that sort were wont to be abashed and to tremble at them. They found them ignorant and unlearned in that skill and learning which the world admired, yet [to] plead their cause unto their confusion. They could not, therefore, but discern and acknowledge that there was a divine power present with them, which acted them above themselves, their state, their natural or acquired abilities. This was the work of this Advocate in them, who had undertaken the defence of their cause. So when Paul pleaded the same cause before Agrippa and Felix, one of them confessed his conviction, and the other trembled in his judgment-seat.
Neither hath he been wanting unto the defence of the same cause, in the same manner, in succeeding generations. All the story of the church is filled with instances of persons mean in their outward condition, timorous by nature, and unaccustomed unto dangers, unlearned and low in their natural abilities, who, in the face of rulers and potentates, in the sight of prisons, tortures, fires, provided for their destruction, have pleaded the cause of the gospel with courage and success, unto the astonishment and confusion of their adversaries. Neither shall any disciple of Christ in the same case want the like assistance in some due measure and proportion, who expects it from him in a way of believing, and depends upon it. Examples we have hereof every day in persons acted above their own natural temper and abilities, unto their own admiration; for being conscious unto themselves of their own fears, despondencies, and disabilities, it is a surprisal unto them to find how all their fears have disappeared and their minds have been enlarged, when they have been called unto trial for their testimony unto the gospel. We are, in such cases, to make use of any reason, skill, wisdom, or ability of speech which we have, or other honest and advantageous circumstances which present themselves unto us, as the apostle Paul did on all occasions; but our dependence is to be solely on the presence and supplies of our blessed Advocate, who will not suffer us to be utterly defective in what is necessary unto the defence and justification of our cause.
[2.] He is the advocate for Christ, the church, and the gospel, in and by his communication of spiritual gifts, both extraordinary and 364ordinary, unto them that do believe; for these are things, at least in their effects, visible unto the world. Where men are not utterly blinded by prejudice, love of sin and of the world, they cannot but discern somewhat of a divine power in these supernatural gifts. Wherefore, they openly testify unto the divine approbation of the gospel, and the faith that is in Christ Jesus. So the apostle confirms the truths that he had preached by this argument, that therewith and thereby, or in the confirmation of it, the Spirit, as unto the communication of gifts, was received, Gal. iii. 2. And herein is he the church’s advocate, justifying their cause openly and visibly by this dispensation of his power towards them and in their behalf. But because we have treated separately and at large of the nature and use of these spiritual gifts, I shall not here insist on the consideration of them.161161 See the following treaties in this volume. — Ed.
[3.] By internal efficacy in the dispensation of the word. Herein also is he the advocate of the church against the world, as he is declared, John xvi. 8–11, “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” That which is ascribed unto him with respect unto the world is expressed by the word ἐλέγξει, — “he will reprove” or convince. Ἐλέγχω in the Scripture is used variously, Sometimes it is to manifest, or bring forth unto light: Eph. v. 13, Τὰ δὲ πάντα, ἐλεγχόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς, φανεροῦται· — “For all things that are reproved,” or discovered, “are made manifest by the light.” And it hath the same sense, John iii. 20. Sometimes it is to rebuke and reprove: 1 Tim. v. 20, Τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας ἐνώπιον πάντων ἔλεγχε· — “Them that sin rebuke before all.” So also Rev. iii. 19; Tit. i. 13. Sometimes it is so to convince as in that to stop the mouth of an adversary, that he shall have nothing to answer or reply: John viii. 9, Ὑπὸ τῆς συνειδήσεως ἐλεγχόμενοι· — “Being convicted by their own conscience;” so as, not having a word to reply, they deserted their cause. So Tit. i. 9, Τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν, — “To convince gainsayers,” is explained, verse 11, by ἐπιστομίζειν, “to stop their mouth,” namely, by the convincing evidence of truth. Ἔλεγχος is an uncontrollable evidence, or an evident argument, Heb. xi. 1. Wherefore, ἐλέγχειν here is, “by undeniable argument and evidence, so to convince the world, or the adversaries of Christ and the gospel, as that they shall have nothing to reply.” This is the work and duty of an advocate, who will absolutely vindicate his client when his cause will bear it.
And the effect hereof is twofold; for all persons, upon such an overpowering conviction, take one of these two ways:— 1st. They 365yield unto the truth and embrace it, as finding no ground to stand upon in its refusal; or, 2dly. They fly out into desperate rage and madness, as being obstinate in their hatred against the truth, and destitute of all reason to oppose it. An instance of the former way we have in those Jews unto whom Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. Reproving and convincing of them beyond all contradiction, “they were pricked in their heart, and said, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” and therewithal came over unto the faith, Acts ii. 37, 41. Of the latter we have many instances in the dealing of our Saviour with that people; for when he had at any time convinced them, and stopped their mouths as to the cause in hand, they called him Beelzebub, cried out that he had a devil, took up stones to throw at him, and conspired his death with all demonstrations of desperate rage and madness, John viii. 48, 59, x. 20, 31, 39. So it was in the case of Stephen, and the testimony he gave unto Christ, Acts vii. 54–58; and with Paul, Acts xxii. 22, 23, — an instance of bestial rage not to be paralleled in any other case, but in this it has often fallen out in the world. And the same effects this work of the Holy Ghost, as the advocate of the church, ever had, and still hath upon the world. Many, being convicted by him in the dispensation of the word, are really humbled and converted unto the faith. So God “adds daily to the church such as shall be saved.” But the generality of the world are enraged by the same work against Christ, the gospel, and those by whom it is dispensed. Whilst the word is preached in a formal manner, the world is well enough contented that it should have a quiet passage among them; but where-ever the Holy Ghost puts forth a convincing efficacy in the dispensation of it, the world is enraged by it: which is no less an evidence of the power of their conviction than the other is of a better success.
The subject-matter concerning which the Holy Ghost manageth his plea by the word against the world, as the advocate of the church, is referred unto the three heads of “sin, righteousness, and judgment,” John xvi. 8, the especial nature of them being declared, verses 9–11.
(1st.) What sin it is in particular that the Holy Spirit shall so plead with the world about, and convince them of, is declared verse 9, “Of sin, because they believe not on me.” There are many sins whereof men may be convinced by the light of nature, Rom. ii. 14, 15, more that they are reproved for by the letter of the law; and it is the work of the Spirit also in general to make these convictions effectual: but these belong not unto the cause which he hath to plead for the church against the world, nor is that such as any can Be brought unto conviction about by the light of nature or sentence of the law, but it is the work of the Spirit alone by the gospel; and 366this, in the first place, is unbelief, particularly not believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world. This he testified concerning himself, this his works evinced him to be, and this both Moses and the prophets bare witness unto. Hereon he tells the Jews, that if they believed not that he was he, — that is, the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour of the world, — “they should die in their sins,” John viii. 21, 24. But in this unbelief, in this rejection of Christ, the Jews and the rest of the world justified themselves, and not only so, but despised and persecuted them who believed in him. This was the fundamental difference between believers and the world, the head of that cause wherein they were rejected by it as foolish and condemned as impious. And herein was the Holy Ghost their advocate; for he did by such undeniable evidences, arguments, and testimonies, convince the world of the truth and glory of Christ, and of the sin of unbelief, that they were everywhere either converted or enraged thereby. So some of them, upon this conviction, “gladly received the word, and were baptized,” Acts ii. 41. Others, upon the preaching of the same truth by the apostles, “were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them,” chap. v. 33. In this work he still continueth. And it is an act of the same kind whereby he yet in particular convinceth any of the sin of unbelief, which cannot be done but by the effectual internal operation of his power.
(2dly.) He thus convinceth the world of righteousness: John xvi. 10, “Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.” Both the personal righteousness of Christ and the righteousness of his office are intended; for concerning both these the church hath a contest with the world, and they belong unto that cause wherein the Holy Spirit is their advocate. Christ was looked on by the world as an evil-doer; accused to be a glutton, a wine-bibber, a seditious person, a seducer, a blasphemer, a malefactor, in every kind; — whence his disciples were both despised and destroyed for believing in such an one; and it is not to be declared how they were scorned and reproached, and what they suffered on this account. In the meantime, they pleaded and gave testimony unto his righteousness, — that “he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” that “he fulfilled all righteousness,” and was the “Holy One” of God. And herein was the Holy Ghost their advocate, convincing the world principally by this argument, that after all he did and suffered in this world, as the highest evidence imaginable of God’s approbation of him and what he did, he was gone to the Father, or assumed up into glory. The poor blind man whose eyes were opened by him pleaded this as a forcible argument against the Jews, that he was no sinner, in that God heard him so as that he had opened his 367eyes; whose evidence and conviction they could not bear, but it; turned them into rage and madness, John ix. 30–34. How much more glorious and effectual must this evidence needs be of his righteousness and holiness, and of God’s approbation of him, that after all he did in this world, he went unto his Father, and was taken up into glory! for such is the meaning of these words, “Ye shall see me no more;” that is, “There shall be an end put unto my state of humiliation, and of my converse with you in this world, because I am to enter into my glory.” That the Lord Christ then went unto his Father, that he was so gloriously exalted, undeniable testimony was given by the Holy Ghost, unto the conviction of the world. So this argument is pleaded by Peter, Acts ii. 33. This is enough to stop the mouths of all the world in this cause, that he sent the Holy Ghost from the Father to communicate spiritual gifts of all sorts unto his disciples; and there could be no higher evidence of his acceptance, power, and glory with him; and the same testimony he still continueth, in the communication of ordinary gifts in the ministry of the gospel. Respect also may be had (which sense I would not exclude) unto the righteousness of his office. There ever was a great contest about the righteousness of the world. This the Gentiles looked after by the light of nature, and the Jews by the works of the law. In this state the Lord Christ is proposed as the “Lord our righteousness,” as he who was to “bring in,” and had brought in, “everlasting righteousness,” Dan. ix. 24, being “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” Rom. x. 4. This the Gentiles rejected as folly, — Christ crucified was “foolishness” unto them; and to the Jews it was a “stumbling-block,” as that which everted the whole law; and, generally, they all concluded that he could not save himself, and therefore it was not probable that others should be saved by him. But herein also is the Holy Spirit the advocate of the church; for, in the dispensation of the word, he so convinceth men of an impossibility for them to attain a righteousness of their own, as that they must either submit to the righteousness of God in Christ or die in their sins.
(3dly.) He “convinceth the world of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Christ himself was judged and condemned by the world. In that judgment Satan, the prince of this world, had the principal hand; for it was effected in the hour and under the power of darkness. And no doubt but he hoped that he had carried his cause when he had prevailed to have the Lord Christ publicly judged and condemned. And this judgment the world sought by all means to justify and make good. But the whole of it is called over again by the Holy Ghost, pleading in the cause and for the faith of the church; and he doth it so effectually as that the judgment 368is turned on Satan himself. Judgment, with unavoidable conviction, passed on all that superstition, idolatry, and wickedness, which he had fired the world withal. And whereas he had borne himself, under various marks, shades, and pretences, to be “the god of this world,” the supreme ruler over all, and accordingly was worshipped all the world over, he is now by the gospel laid open and manifested to be an accursed apostate, a murderer, and the great enemy of mankind.
Wherefore, taking the name Paracletus in this sense for an advocate, it is proper unto the Holy Ghost in some part of his work in and towards the church. And whensoever we are called to bear witness unto Christ and the gospel, we abandon our strength and betray our cause if we do not use all means appointed of God unto that end to engage him in our assistance.
But it is as a comforter that he is chiefly promised unto us, and as such is he expressed unto the church by this name.
Fourthly, That he hath a peculiar work committed unto him, suitable unto this mission or commission and name, is that which will appear in the declaration of the particulars wherein it doth consist. For the present we only assert, in general, that his work it is to support, cherish, relieve, and comfort the church, in all trials and distresses; and this is all that we intend when we say that it is his office so to do.
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