« Prev Examination. Next »


The fifth chapter of our catechist is concerning the Holy Ghost, for reducing of whom into the order and rank of creatures Mr Biddle hath formerly taken great pains;370370   See his confession in his Epistle to his book against the Deity of Christ. following therein the Macedonians of old, and leaving his new masters the Socinians, who deny him his personality, and leave him to be only the efficacy or energy of the power of God. The design is the same in both; the means used to bring it about differ. The Socinians, not able to answer the testimonies proving him to be God, to be no creature, do therefore deny his personality.371371   Cloppenburgius Vindiciæ pro Deitate S. S. adversus Pneumatomach. Bedellum Anglum. Mr B., being not able to stand before the clear evidence of his personality, denies his deity. What he hath done in this chapter I shall consider; what he hath elsewhere done hath already met with a detection from another hand.

“Q. How many Holy Spirits of Christians are there? — A. ‘One Spirit,’ Eph. iv. 4.”

I must take leave to put one question to Mr B, that we may the better know the mind and meaning of his; and that is, what he means by the “Holy Spirits of Christians”? If he intend that Spirit which they worship, invocate, believe, and are baptized into his name, who quickens and sanctifies them, and from whom they have their supplies of grace, it is true there is but one only Spirit of Christians, as is evident, Eph. iv. 4; and this Spirit is “God, blessed for ever;” nor can any be called that one Spirit of Christians but he that is so. But if by the “Holy Spirits of Christians” he intend created spiritual beings, sent out from God for the good of Christians, of those that believe, there are then an innumerable company of holy spirits of believers; for all the angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation,” Heb. i. 14. So that by this one testimony, that there is but one Holy Spirit of Christians, that Holy Spirit is exempted from the number of all created spirits, and reckoned as the object of their worship with the “one God” and one Lord, Eph. iv. 4–6; when yet they worship the Lord their God alone, and him only do they serve, Matt. iv. 10.

His second question is, “Wherein consists the prerogative of that Holy Spirit above other spirits? — A. 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11.”

335The prerogative of that Holy Spirit of whom we speak is that of God above his creatures, — prerogative of an infinite, eternal, self-subsisting being. Yea, and that this is indeed his prerogative we need not seek for proof beyond that testimony here produced by Mr B. (though to another purpose) in answer to his question. He that “searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,” is God. To “search all things” is the same with knowing all things; so the apostle interprets it in the next verse, “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” To know all things is to be omniscient; but he that is omniscient is God. His angels he charged with folly. Omniscience is an essential attribute of God; and therefore Socinus, in his disputation with Franken, durst not allow Christ to be omniscient, lest he should also grant him to be infinite in essence.372372   De Adoratione Jesu Christi disputatio, pp. 18, 19. Again, he that searches or knows τὰ βάθη τοῦ Θεοῦ, the “deep things of God,” is God. None can know the deep things of an infinite wisdom and understanding but he that is infinite. All creatures are excluded from an acquaintance with the deep things of God, but only as he voluntarily revealeth them: Rom. xi. 34, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellors” that is, no creature hath so been. Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακε πώποτε, John i. 18 Now the Spirit doth not know the deep things of God by his voluntary revelation of them; for as the spirit of a man knows the things of a man, so doth the Spirit of God know the things of God. This is not because they are revealed to the spirit of a man, but because that is the principle of operation in a man, and is conscious to all its own actions and affairs. And so it is with the Spirit of God: being God, and having the same understanding, and will, and power, with God the Father and Son, as the spirit of a man knows the things of a man, so doth he the things of God. Thus in the beginning of this, as in the close of the last chapter, Mr B. hath provided sufficiently for his own conviction and scattering of all his paralogisms and sophistical insinuations, running through them both.

The design of this present chapter being to pursue what Mr B. hath some years since publicly undertaken, namely, to disprove the deity of the Holy Ghost, — his aim here being to divert the thoughts of his catechumens from an apprehension thereof, by his proposal and answer of such questions as serve to his design, pretending to deliver the doctrine concerning the Holy Ghost from the Scripture, and not once producing any of those texts which are most usually insisted on for the confirmation of his deity (with what Christian candour and ingenuity is easily discovered), — I shall briefly, from the Scripture, in the first place establish the truth concerning the eternal deity of the person of the Holy Ghost, and then consider his questions in their order, so far as shall be judged meet or necessary.

336I shall not go forth unto any long discourse on this subject, some plain testimonies of Scripture will evince the truth we contend for, being the heads of as many arguments, if any one shall be pleased to make use of them in that way.

First, then, the Spirit created, formed, and adorned this world, and is therefore God: “He that made all things is God,” Heb. iii. 4. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the Spirit of his mouth,” Ps. xxxiii. 6. “By his Spirit hath he garnished the heavens,” Job xxvi. 13. “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life,” chap. xxxiii. 4; Ps. civ. 30. He that makes the heavens and garnisheth them, he that maketh man and giveth him life, is God. So in the beginning מְרַחֶפֶת‎, motabat se, moved himself, as a dove warming its young, as he afterward appeared in the form of a dove. And hence that which is ascribed unto God absolutely in one place is in another ascribed to the Spirit absolutely: as, Exod. iv. 15, Num. xii. 8, what it is affirmed that God doth, will do, or did, is affirmed of the Spirit, Acts i. 16, xxviii. 25: so Num. xiv. 22, Deut. vi. 16, what is said of God is affirmed of the Spirit, Isa. lxiii. 10, Acts vii. 51: so also Deut. xxxii. 12, compared with Isa. lxiii. 14. Innumerable other instances of the same kind might be added.

Secondly, He regenerates us. “Except we be born of water and of the Spirit, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John iii. 5; 2 Thess. ii. 13; 1 Pet. i. 2. He also “searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,” as was before observed, 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. From him is our illumination, Eph. i. 17, 18; 2 Cor. iii. 18. John xiv. 26, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, he shall teach you all things.” Chap. xvi. 13, “The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth.” “The Holy Ghost shall teach you,” Luke xii. 12. And he foretelleth “things to come,” John xvi. 13, 1 Tim. iv. 1; which is a property of God, whereby he will be known from all false gods, Isa. xli. 22, 23, etc. And he is in some of these places expressly called God, as also 1 Cor. xii. 5, 6, compared with verse 11; and he is immense, who dwells in all believers.

Thirdly, He dwelleth in us, as God in a temple, Rom. viii. 9, 1 Cor. iii. 16; thereby sanctifying us, chap. vi. 11; comforting us, John xvi. 7; and helping our infirmities, Rom. viii. 26; mortifying our sins, chap. viii. 13; creating in us Christian graces, Gal. v. 22, 23; yea, he is the author of all grace, as is evident in that promise made of his presence with the Messiah, Isa. xi. 2. I say, with the Messiah, for of him only are those words to be understood; to which purpose I cannot but add the words of an old friar, to the shame of some amongst us who should know more, or be more Christian in their expositions of Scripture. Saith he, speaking of this place, “Note that in innumerable places of the Talmud this is expounded of the Messiah, and never of 337any other, by any one who is of any authority among the Hebrews. Wherefore it is evident that some amongst us, too much Judaizing, do err, whilst they fear not to expound this literally of Josiah. But that this is to be understood of the Messiah only is showed by Rabbi Solomon, who expounds it of him, and not of Josiah; which, according to his way, he would never have done, if, without the injury, of his Talmud and Targum, and the prejudice of all his predecessors, he could have expounded it otherwise.”373373   “Nota quod in locis innumeris in Talmud hoc expenitur de Messia, et nunquam de alio, ab aliquo qui alicujus apud Hebræos authoritatis sit. Quare pater quod errant, nimium judaizantes nostri, qui hoc de Josia ad literam non verentur expenere. De solo quippe Messia hoc intelligendum fore ostenditur per R. Solomon, qui hoc de ipso non de Josia exponit; quod juxta morem suum nunquam, egisset, si absque injuria sui Talmud et Targum, et sine prædecessorum suorum omnium præjudicio, aliter exponere potuisset.” — Raymund. Martin. Pug. Fid. p. 3, d. 1, c. xi. So far he.

It is not a little strange that some Christians should venture farther in perverting the testimonies of Scripture concerning the Messiah than the Jews dare to do.

4. He makes and appoints to himself and his service ministers of the church, Acts xiii. 2, giving unto them powers, and working various and wonderful works, as he pleaseth, 1 Cor. xii. 8–11.

5. He is sinned against, and so offended with sin that the sin against him shall never be forgiven, Matt. xii. 31; though it be not against his person, but some especial grace and dispensation of his.

6. He is the object of divine worship,374374   Οὗτος ὁ Θεὸς δοξαζόμενος ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ πατὴρ ἀεὶ υἱὸς ἀεὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἀεί. — Epiphan. Ancorat. cap. lxxiii. Τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον. — Symbol. Conc. Constant. we being baptized into his name, as that of the Father and Son, Matt. xxviii. 19. And grace is prayed for from him as from Father and Son, 2 Cor. xiii. 14; Rev. i. 4, 5; Rom. x. 14. He is to be head of churches, Rev. ii. 3; but God will not give this glory to another, Isa. xlii. 8. Also, he hath the name of God given him, Isa. vi. 8, 9, compared with Acts xxviii. 25, 26; and Isa. lxiii. 13, 14, with Ps. lxxviii. 41, 52; 2 Sam. xxiii. 2, 3; Acts v. 3, 4.

7. And the attributes of God are ascribed to him, as, — (1.) Ubiquity, or omnipresence, Ps. cxxxix. 7; 1 Cor. iii. 16. (2.) Omniscience, 1 Cor. ii. 10; John xvi. 13. His omnipotency and eternity are both manifest from the creation.

8. To all this, in a word, it may be added that he is a person, the denial whereof is the only κρησφύγετον of the Socinians. They acknowledge that if he be a person, he is God. But, (1.) He is a person who hath a name, and in whose name something is done, as we are said to be baptized in the name of the Holy Ghost, Matt. xxviii. 19. And, (2.) He is conjoined with the other divine persons as one of them, 2 Cor. xiii. 14; Rev. i. 4, 5; Matt. xxviii. 19. (3.) He 338hath an understanding, 1 Cor. ii. 11; and a will, chap. xii. 11. (4.) To him are speaking and words ascribed, and such actions as are peculiar to persons, Acts xiii. 2, xx. 28, etc.

What remains of this chapter will be of a brief and easy despatch. The next question is, “Whence is the Holy Ghost sent? — A. 1 Pet. i. 12, ‘Down from heaven.’ ”

1. This advantageth not at all Mr B.’s design against the Holy Ghost, to prove him not to be God, that he is “sent down from heaven;” whereby he supposeth that his coming from one place to another is intimated, seeing he supposes God to be so in heaven, yea, in some certain place of heaven, as at the same time not to be elsewhere, so that if ever he be in the earth he must come down from heaven.

2. Nor is there any thing in his being sent prejudicial to the prerogative of his divine being; for he who is God, equal in nature to the Father and Son, yet, in respect of the order of that dispensation that these three who are in heaven, who are also one, 1 John v. 7, have engaged in for the salvation of men, may be sent of the Father and the Son, having the execution of that work, which they respectively concur in, in an eminent manner to him committed.

3. Wherever the Spirit is said to descend from heaven, it is to be understood according to the analogy of what we have already spoken concerning the presence of God in heaven, with his looking and going down from thence; which I shall not repeat again. Essentially he is everywhere, Ps. cxxxix. 7.

4. In that place of Peter alleged by Mr B., not the person of the Spirit, but his gifts on the apostles, and his operations in them, whose great and visible foundations were laid on the day of Pentecost, Acts ii., are intended.

The two next questions leading only to an expression of the sending of the Holy Ghost by the Father and the Son, though Mr B.’s Christians differ about the interpretation of the places produced for the proof thereof, and there lie no small argument and evidence of the deity of Christ in his sending of the Holy Ghost as the Father sends him, yet there being an agreement in the expressions themselves, I shall not insist upon them. He proceeds:— “Q. Had Jesus Christ always the power to send the Holy Ghost, or did he obtain it at a certain time? — A. Acts ii. 32, 33; John vii. 39.”

1. The intendment of this query is, to conclude from some certain respect and manner of sending the Holy Ghost to the thing itself, — from the sending him in a visible, glorious, plentiful, eminent manner,375375   Ἁπλῶς κατά τι. as to the effusion of his gifts and graces, to the sending of him absolutely; which methinks a Master of Arts should know to be a sophistical way of arguing. 2. It endeavours, also, from the exercise 339of power to conclude to the receiving of the power itself; and that not the absolute exercise of it neither, but in some certain respect, as was spoken. 3. This, then, is that which Mr B. concludes: “Because Christ, when he was exalted, or when he ascended into heaven, had the accomplishment of the promise actually, in the sending forth of the Spirit in that abundant and plentiful manner which was prophesied of by Joel, chap. ii. 28–31, therefore he then first received power to send the Spirit:” which, 4. By the testimony of Christ himself is false, and not the sense of the Holy Ghost in the places mentioned, seeing that before his ascension he breathed on his disciples, and bade them receive the Holy Ghost, John xx. 22. Nay, 5. That he had the power of sending the Holy Ghost, and did actually send him, not only before his ascension and exaltation, but also before his incarnation, is expressly affirmed, 1 Pet. i. 11. The Spirit that was in the prophets of old was the “Spirit of Christ,” and sent by him; as was that Spirit by which he preached in the days of the old disobedient world: which places have been formerly vindicated at large. So that, 6. As that place, Acts ii. 32, 33, is there expounded to be concerning the plentiful effusion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the times of the gospel, according to the prophecy of Joel, so also is that of John vii. 39, it being positively affirmed as to the thing itself that he gave the Holy Ghost before his exaltation, though not in that abundant manner as afterward; and so neither of them concludes any thing as to the time of Christ’s receiving power to send the Spirit; which, upon the supposition of such a work as for the accomplishment whereof it was necessary the Holy Ghost should be sent, he had from eternity.

About the next question we shall not contend. It is:— “Q. What were the general benefits accruing to Christians by the Holy Ghost?” whereunto sundry texts of Scripture that make mention of the Holy Ghost, his graces, and gifts, are subjoined. Upon the whole I have only some few things to animadvert:—

1. If by the words “general benefits” he limits the receiving of those benefits of the Holy Ghost to any certain time (as suppose the time of his first plentiful effusion, upon the ascension of Jesus Christ, and the preaching of the gospel to all nations thereupon), as it is a sacrilegious conception, robbing believers of after ages to the end of the world of all the fruits of the efficacy of the Spirit, without which they can neither enjoy communion with God in this life nor ever be brought to an eternal fruition of him, so it is most false, and contrary to the express prayer of our Saviour, desiring the same things for them who should believe on his name to the end of the world as he did for those who conversed with him in the days of his flesh. But I will suppose this is not his intention, because it would plainly deny that there are any Christians in the worm (which yet was the 340opinion of some of his friends heretofore376376   Socin. Epist. iii. ad Matth. Rad.), for “if we have not the Spirit of Christ we are none of his,” Rom. viii. 9.

2. The things enumerated may be called “general benefits,” because they are common to all believers as to the substance, essence, or being of them, though in respect of their degrees they are communicated variously to the several individuals, the same Spirit dividing to every one as he will, 1 Cor. xii. 11. They are so general to them all that every particular believer enjoys them all.

3. The enumeration here given us is very far and remote from being complete, there being only some few fruits of the Spirit and privileges which we receive by our receiving of him recounted, and that in a very confused manner, one thing being added after another without any order or coherence at all. Yea, of the benefits we receive by the Spirit, of the graces he works in us, of the helps he affords us, of that joy and consolation he imparts unto us, of the daily assistances we receive from him, of the might of his power put forth in us, of the efficacy of his operations, the constancy of his presence, the privileges by him imparted, there is not by any in this life a full account to be given. To insist on particulars is not my present task; I have also in part done it elsewhere.377377   Perseverance of Saints, chap. viii. [vol. xi.]

4. I desire Mr B. seriously to consider whether even the things which he thinks good to mention may possibly be ascribed to a mere creature, or that all believers are by such an one “baptized into one body,” or that we “are all made to drink into one Spirit,” etc. But of these things before. Unto this he adds: “Q. What are the special benefits accruing to the apostles by the Holy Ghost? what saith Christ to them hereof? — A. John xv. 26, xvi. 13.”

Besides the graces of the Spirit, which the apostles, as believers, received in a plentiful manner, they had also his presence by his extraordinary gifts, to fit them for that whole extraordinary work whereunto of him they were called: for as by his authority they were separated to the work, and were to perform it unto him, Acts xiii. 2, so whatever work they were to perform, either as apostles or as penmen of the scripture of the New Testament, they had suitable gifts bestowed on them by him, 1 Cor. xii., — inspiration from him suitable to their work; the Scripture being of inspiration from God, because the holy men that wrote it were inspired or moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. i. 21, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.378378   Ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι. And as this Holy Ghost, who is God, working all in all, divideth of his gifts as he will, 1 Cor. xii. 6, 11, and giveth all gifts whatever to the church that it doth enjoy, so did he in an especial manner with the apostles.

Now, our Saviour, Christ, being to leave the world, giving gracious 341promises to his disciples, he considered them under a twofold capacity or condition:— 1. Of believers, of such as followed him and believed in him; wherein their estate was common with that of all them who were to believe on him to the end of the world, John xvii. 20. 2. Of apostles, and of such as he intended to employ in that great work of planting his church in the world, and propagating his gospel to the ends of it. Under both these considerations doth he promise the Spirit to his disciples, John xiv. 26, xv. 26, xvi. 7, 13, praying his Father for the accomplishment of those promises, chap. xvii.; — that as believers they might be kept in the course of their obedience to the end (in which regard he made those promises no less to us than to them); and that as apostles they might be furnished for their work, preserved, and made prosperous therein. Of this latter sort some passages in the verses here mentioned seem to be, and may have a peculiar regard thereunto, and yet in their substance they are of the first kind, and are made good to all believers. Neither is there any more said concerning the teaching and guidance of the Spirit into the truth in John xv. 26, xvi. 13, than is said in 1 John ii. 20, 27, where it is expressly assigned to all believers. Of that unction and teaching of the Spirit, of his preserving us in all truth needful for our communion with God, of his bringing to mind what Christ had spoken, for our consolation and establishment, with efficacy and power (things, I fear, despised by Mr B.), this is not a season to treat.

That which follows concerns the order and way of procedure insisted on by the Son and Holy Ghost in carrying on the work of our salvation and propagation of the gospel, whose sovereign fountain is in the bosom of the Father. His query is, “Q. Should the Holy Ghost lead them into all truth, as speaking of himself, and imparting of his own fulness? what saith Christ concerning him? — A. John xvi. 13, 14.”

1. The Scripture proposeth the Holy Ghost, in the communication of his gifts and graces, under a double consideration:— (1.) Absolutely, as he is God himself; and so he speaketh of himself, and the churches are commanded to attend to what he so saith, Rev. ii. 29. And he imparts of his own fulness, “the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will,” 1 Cor. xii. 11. And in this sense, what the prophets say in the Old Testament, “The word of the Lord,” and “Thus saith the Lord,” in the New they are said to speak by the Spirit, Matt. xxii. 43; Acts i. 16; 2 Pet. i. 21. (2.) Relatively, and that both in respect of subsistence and operation, as to the great work of saving sinners by Jesus Christ. And as in the first of these senses he is not of himself, being the Spirit of the Father and the Son, proceeding from them both, so neither doth he speak of himself, but according to what he receiveth of the Father and 342the Son. 2. Our Saviour, Christ, says here, “He shall not speak of himself;’ but he nowhere says, “He shall not impart of his own fulness,” which is Mr B.’s addition To “speak of himself” shows the original authority of him that speaks, whereby he speaks to be in himself; which, as to the words and works pointed to, is not in the Holy Ghost personally considered, and as in this dispensation. But to impart of his own fulness, is to give out of that which is eminently in himself; which the Holy Ghost doth, as hath been shown. 3. Christ, in the words insisted on, comforting his disciples with the promise of the presence of his Spirit when he should be bodily absent from them, acquaints them also with the works that he should do when he came to them and upon them, in that clear, eminent, and abundant manner which he had promised; — which is not any new work, nor any other than what he had already acquainted them with, nor the accomplishment of any thing but what he had laid the foundation of; yea, that all the mercy, grace, light, guidance, direction, consolation, peace, joy, gifts, that he should communicate to them and bless them withal, should be no other but what were procured and purchased for them by himself. These things is the Spirit said to hear and speak, to receive and communicate, as being the proper purchase and inheritance of another; and in so doing to glorify him whose they are, in that peculiar sense and manner. All that discourse which we have of the mission and sending of the Holy Ghost, and his proceeding or coming forth from the Father and Son for the ends specified, John xiv. 26, xv. 26, xvi. 7, 13, concerns not at all the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and Son, as to his distinct personality and subsistence, but belongs to that economy, or dispensation, or ministry, that the whole Trinity proceedeth in for the accomplishment of the work of our salvation.

The last query, by the heap of scriptures that is gathered in answer to it, seems to have most weight laid upon it; but it is indeed, of all the rest, most weakly sophistical. The words of it are, “Q. Do men receive the Holy Ghost while they are of the world and in their natural condition, to the end that they may become the children of God, may receive the word, may believe, may repent, may obey Christ; or after they are become the children of God, have received the word, do believe, do repent, do obey Christi” The answer is as above. To the same purpose is that of the Racovian Catechism:—

Ques. Is there not need of the internal gift of the Spirit, that we may believe the gospel?

Ans. By no means; for we do not read in the Scripture that that gift is conferred on any but him that believes the gospel.379379   “Nonne ad credendum Evangelio S. S. interiore dono opus est? — Nullo modo; non enim iu Scripturis legimus, cuiquam id conferri donum, nisi credenti evangelio.” — Cap. vi. de promiss. S. S.

Remove the ambiguity of that expression, “Believe the gospel,” 343and these two questions perfectly fall in together. It may, then, be taken either for believing the doctrine of the gospel in opposition to the law, and in this sense it is not here inquired after; or for the power of believing in the subject, and in that sense it is here denied.

1. Now, the design of this question is, to deny the effectual operation of the Holy Ghost for and in the conversion, regeneration, and sanctification of the elect, and to vindicate the whole work of faith, holiness, quickening, etc., to ourselves. The way designed for the proof and establishment of this insinuation consists in producing sundry testimonies wherein it is affirmed that those who do believe and are the children of God do receive the Spirit for other ends and purposes than those here enumerated. The sum of his argument is this: “If they who do believe and are the children of God do receive the Spirit of God for their adoption, and the carrying on of the work of their sanctification, with the supply of new grace, and the confirmation and enlargement of what they have received, with joy, consolation, and peace, with other gifts that are necessary for any work or employment that they are called unto, then the Holy Spirit doth not quicken or regenerate them, nor work faith in them, nor make them the children of God, nor implant them into Christ.” Now, when Mr B. proves this consequence, I will confess him to be master of one art which he never learned at Oxford, unless it were his business to learn what he was taught to avoid.

2. But Mr B. hath one fetch of his skill more in this question. He asks whether men do receive the Holy Ghost when they are of the world; and for a confutation of any such apprehension produceth testimonies of Scripture that the world cannot receive the Holy Ghost, nor the natural man the things of God. But who told this gentleman that we say men whilst they are in and of the world do receive the Spirit of God, or the things of the Spirit, in the Scripture sense or use of that word “receiving?” The expression is metaphorical, yet always, in the case of the things of the gospel, denoting the acting of faith in them who are said to “receive” any thing from God. Now, if this gentleman could persuade us that we say that we receive the Spirit by faith, to the end that we may have faith, he might as easily lead us about whither he pleased as the Philistines did Samson when they had put out his eyes. A little, then, to instruct this catechist: I desire him to take notice, that properly the Spirit is received by faith to the ends and purposes by him mentioned, with many such others as might be added; but yet, before men’s being enabled to receive it, that Spirit, by his power and the efficacy of his grace, quickeneth, regenerateth, and worketh faith in their hearts. In brief, the Spirit is considered and promised either as a Spirit of regeneration, with all the concomitants and essential consequents thereof, or as a Spirit of adoption, with the consequents 344thereof. In the first sense he works in men in order of nature antecedent to their believing, faith being a fruit of the Spirit; in the latter, and for the ends and purposes thereof, he is received by faith, and given in order of nature upon believing.

3. That the world cannot receive the Spirit, nor the natural man the things of God, is from hence, that the Spirit hath not wrought in them that which is necessary to enable them thereunto; which is evident from what is affirmed of the impotency of the natural man as to his receiving the things of God: for if the reason why he cannot receive the things of God is because he is a natural man, then, unless there be some other power than what is in himself to translate him from that condition, it is impossible that he who is a natural man should ever be otherwise, for he can only alter that condition by that which he cannot do. But, —

4. That the Spirit is given for and doth work regeneration and faith in men, I shall not now insist on the many testimonies whereby it is usually and invincibly confirmed. There is no one testimony given to our utter impotency to convert or regenerate ourselves, to believe, repent, and turn to God; no promise of the covenant to give a new heart, new obedience through Christ; no assertion of the grace of God and the efficacy of his power, which is exalted in the vocation and conversion of sinners, — but sufficiently evinces the truth thereof. That one eminent instance shall close our consideration of this chapter, which we have Tit. iii. 5, 6, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

Of the first head made by men professing the religion of Jesus Christ against the deity of the Spirit, attempting to rank him among the works of his own hand; of the peculiar espousing of an enmity against him by Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople, from whom the ensuing πνευματομάχοι took their name; of the novel inventions of Faustus Socinus and his followers, denying the personality of the Spirit, making him to be nothing but the efficacy of the power of God, or the power of God, — this is no place to treat. Besides, the truth is, until they will speak clearly what they mean by the “Spirit of God,” and so assert something, as well as deny, they may justly be neglected. They tell us it is virtus Dei; but whether that virtus be substantia or accidens they will not tell us. It is, they say, potentia Dei. This we confess; but we say he is not potentia ἐνεργητική, but ὑποστατική, and that because we prove him to be God.

What, then, hath been spoken of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I shall shut up with that distich of Greg. Naz. Sanct. Spir. lib. iii.:—

Πάντα μὲν αἰὲν ἄριστα θεοπιεπὲς ἔργα τελείσθω

Ἡ δὲ τριὰς ἐξοχά σοι μελέτω.

« Prev Examination. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection