« ZurückWeiter »
not quoting often, very seldom indeed, by name, the reader, little versed in the Scriptures, for the greater part does not observe there is a quotation, when there really is; and, consequently, neither observes the full force of the proof, nor, I might add, does he see the strong and peremptory expressions, wherein the fulness of the Godhead is ascribed to his Saviour, for want of having recourse to the passage at large, from whence the citation is taken; but often so taken, as to leave the stronger expressions behind for a farther search, on having received some impressions of the truth.
I thought fit so far to do justice to this part of the apostolic wisdom, that they who hear me may not too suddenly take up opinions prejudicial to the doctrine I have been labouring to establish, till they have paid a proper deference to that precept of Christ: Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me.'
And now, blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY GHOST PROVED.
ST. JOHN XVI. 13.
--When he 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.
HAVING, in a former Discourse, proved, that there is but one God, and in another, that Christ is God, I come now to prove, that the Holy Ghost also is God.
The words of my text represent him to us as God; for
how otherwise can he 'guide us into all truth,' nay, be the very Spirit of truth,' or truth itself? 1 John v. 6. How otherwise can he shew us things to come?' These surely are not the attributes or powers of a creature. This the opposers of his divinity will grant; but they will insist, at the same time, that these attributes and powers are not his own, but borrowed from the Father and the Son, and exercised by commission from both, inasmuch as Christ saith, 'He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he heareth, that shall he speak; he shall receive of mine; all things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you;' ver. 14, 15.
If the Spirit of God hath nothing of his own, why is he set forth, 1 Cor. xii. 11, ' as dividing his gifts to every one severally as he will?' If he knows nothing, but what he hears, or is told, why is he said, 2 Cor. ii. 10, to search all things, yea, the deep things of God?' Or why is it asked, Isa. xl. 13, Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or, being his counsellor, hath taught him?'
There is only one way to reconcile these seeming opposites, which other parts of Scripture, brought on both sides, appear to set yet wider; but it is an easy, and the true one. As Christ, though God, acts as a Son, and a man, in subordination to his Father, without derogating from the coequal dignity of his nature; so the Holy Ghost, though God, pursuant to the divine economy of offices, distributes those gifts of knowledge, truth, sanctity, &c. which proceed, as, he doth himself, originally from the Father and Son, and which therefore the Son calls his own; not because they do not as much belong to the Father and the Holy Ghost as to him, but because the Son hath purchased the use of them for the church by his blood. Now, this method, whereby Christ hath acquired the sole right of propriety in the church, and the use of such powers as are peculiar to the Holy Spirit, neither derogates from that copartnership of right which he and the Holy Spirit had before, nor from the divinity of their nature, wherewith it hath nothing to do. The church belongs to Christ, as its proprietor and governor; which gives him a right to the assistance of both the other persons, in their respective offices. Accordingly, the Father pardons and adopts all those whom Christ inter
cedes for; and the Holy Ghost, in like manner, concurring, as our Paraclete, to the great work of redemption, hath ‘prepared a tabernacle' for Christ; hath given him his unction; and hath contributed the miraculous and prophetic powers peculiar to him, as previously engaged and made over to the disposal of Christ, on account of his meritorious sufferings, stipulated for from the beginning, and in order to the accomplishment of that gracious scheme of mercy, to which the preparation of that tabernacle, the consecration of that unction, and the exercise of those high powers, are so necessary. Christ is, by right of purchase, the sole governor and monarch of the church, and consequently, by the same right, the proprietor of all things necessary to that government. So far therefore as the Holy Spirit is pleased to interfere in the administration, you see the divine polity requires he should act in subordination to the Father, who is the fountain, and to the Son, who is, in virtue of his acquest, the immediate administrator, of all power. He who is tolerably versed in the Scriptures, cannot but perceive, that this doctrine is sufficiently authenticated thereby; and therefore I shall not now waste the time in quotations on a subject rather explanatory, than probatory, of the point I have undertaken to establish. Give me leave only to observe to you, that all the passages of Scripture, wherein the character of the Holy Spirit seems to be set lower than the supposition of his divinity can comport with, may be easily reconciled to that supposition on the subordination of his office, thus explained; and that therefore it is highly absurd, if not wicked, to understand those passages of his nature, to which not one of them hath any relation, and in the teeth of many others, which give him the name, the style, the attributes, and the dignity, of God.
It may indeed be objected, that the same being cannot be, in any sense, superior or inferior to itself. This we own is true of a being wherein there is no personal distinction, and even of that being wherein there is, if the nature of that being only is considered. As my observation, however, on this head, turns on no supposed inequality of nature, but merely on a subordination of offices; and as, in making that observation, I presuppose the personal distinction in the Divine Nature; this objection cannot affect it;
for they that are naturally equal, may be employed in unequal offices. There are many passages of Scripture, that must be explained by this observation, if we do not mean to make it contradict itself. Any other way of interpreting those places will do the sacred writings as little honour, as it does him, who inspired their writers, and who, if he were not God, might possibly be deceived himself or deceive those who have delivered to us what he dictated to them. This, I trust in God, will fully appear, by the time I shall have finished the present Discourse.
It is observable, that the penmen of the holy Scriptures have neither so often, nor so directly and positively affirmed the divinity of the Holy Ghost, as of the Son. The reason of this their conduct seems to be obvious. The Son being man as well as God; and inasmuch as he hungered, thirsted, wept, and died a death seemingly the most dishonourable, to outward appearance a mere man; it was the more necessary to assert, and often inculcate, his divinity, in order to take away the reproach of the cross, which was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness;' 1 Cor. i. 23. But there was far less need of this in respect to the Holy Ghost, who having nothing of humanity, or of an inferior nature, in him, and being the very 'Spirit of God, who is a Spirit,' it was not so necessary to insist on his divinity. To say, he is God, would be much the same as to say, the Divine Spirit is God, or God is God, were it not that as he is personally distinguished from the Father and the Son, and acts in the church by commission from both, it was requisite he also should be exhibited to us in Scripture, as really and truly God, to prevent our taking him for a created spirit, whom we see in the exercise of powers peculiar to God alone. But, as I said, this was less necessary, than in respect to the Son. Accordingly, there is no comparison between the number of those who have questioned the divinity of the Son, and of those who have objected to that of the Holy Ghost. The former are by far the greater number, notwithstanding the greater variety of evidences, and those more direct and positive, against them. And the latter have, for the most part, rather endeavoured, with the Sabellians, to sink the personal distinction of the Holy Ghost, than, with the Macedonians, to refute his divinity.
The proofs, however, for this are sufficiently mumerous and clear; and since the divinity of the Son, as a distinct person from the Father, hath been already demonstrated, there will be the less difficulty in admitting the full force of those proofs in regard to the third person of the Blessed Trinity; for, if the Divine Nature admits of one such distinction, it may, for ought the narrow reason of man can tell us to the contrary, admit of another. In this we can have no lights, no warrantable grounds to go on, but what the Scriptures afford us. It is, therefore, now time to see what they set forth on this subject.
That we may proceed with the greater regularity, let us examine, as briefly as we can, the scriptural proofs for the divinity of the Holy Ghost, under the following heads; to wit, his name, his attributes, his worship, his works or offices, and the divine style or title ascribed to him in the word of God.
And, first, As to his name; he is as properly and peculiarly called the Holy Spirit, and thereby distinguished, both in the Trinity, and from all other beings, as the first person is by the Father,' or the second by the names of the 'Son,' 'Word,' or 'Jesus Christ.' If then he is thus, by way of eminence and distinction, called holy, he must be God; 'for none is holy as the Lord;' 1 Sam. ii. 2. nor good,' which signifies the same thing, save one, that is, God;' Luke xviii. 19. Yet the third person is called 'good;' Psal. exliii. 10. Thy Spirit is good.' With the same note of eminence and supremacy, is the word 'Spirit' ascribed to him, in the Scriptures, by way of contradistinction to all other spirits. Christ says, John iv. 24, 'God is a spirit;' and the Holy Ghost, we know, is every where called the Spirit of God;' nay, he is often called 'the Spirit,' absolutely, and without reference, as Rom. viii. 13, If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live;' and, ver. 16, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit,' &c. If, therefore, he is the Spirit,' if he is the very Spirit of God,' who is by essence and nature a Spirit, or rather, in the same sense of eminence and distinction, the Spirit,' then surely he is God.
Secondly, He is proved to be God, from the incommunicable attributes given him in Scripture. That glorious at