Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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;

VOL. I.

Y

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;' I 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 numerous 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 xvii. 19. Yet the third person is called 'good ;' Psal. cxliii. 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 attribute of God, his holiness, is, as we have already seen, the peculiar characteristic of his name, not only denoting his office, but his nature, as you may see, 1 Cor. vi. 19, ‘Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost;' Matt. xii. 32, “Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost,' &c. where the word holy' hath no relation to his office. He is said to be the Author and Giver of life;' Rom. viii. 11. St. John says, ' he is the truth ;' 1 John v. 6. He foresees that which is to come;' 2 Pet. i. 21. Joel ii. 28. and no wonder, since omniscience is also ascribed to him ; for he searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God;' 1 Cor. ii. 10. and that, as one who knows them of himself,' in the same manner as a man knoweth the things of a man;' ver. 11. This proves his divinity in the clearest manner; for, if he searches all things, he must know all things; because we cannot suppose he searches in vain ; indeed the original word signifies to search with success, or to find out. And if he knows the deep and mysterious things of God, he is able to comprehend God, which none but God himself can do. Omnipresence, or immensity, is expressly attributed to him by the psalmist, Psal. cxxxix. 7, 8, Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.' He is likewise omnipotent; for he is called the power of the Highest;' Luke i. 35. And, to put it out of all question that he is God, he is expressly called the eternal Spirit;' Heb. ix. 14. Here it is worth observing, against the opposers of his personality, as well as divinity, that in this very sentence, which calls him “the eternal Spirit,' he is distinguished personally both from the Father and the Son: the words are, How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself, without spot, to God (the Father), purge your conscience from dead works,' &c. As he is the truth,' and is 'to guide us into all truth,' would he have adorned himself with these divine attributes, had he not known them to be his? Or, if he is but a creature, and they are his only by some secret, undiscovered imputation, how can it be said, 'he guides us into all truth,' since he thus directly leads us to the adoration of a being that is not God, to worship the creature as the Creator,' in plain contradiction to what he a thousand times inculcates throughout both Testaments? How can a man make the Scriptures the rule of his faith, when he thinks thus slightly of their Author ?

In the third place, He is proved to be God, from the divine worship prescribed and paid to him in the holy Scriptures. The apostles were commanded, Matt. xxviii. 19, to go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.' The sacrament of baptism, we are sensible, is a most solemn act of worship, done in the name, and by the authority, of God alone, wherein, at the same time that the new Christian is consecrated to him, the respective blessings of each person is invoked and conferred. Now, here the Holy Ghost appears in equal authority with both the Father and the Son, and is, by consequence, equally the object of that worship which is paid in this religious act; nay, so far as it is an act of invocation, he seems to be peculiarly addressed; because his descent on the person baptized immediately follows, as that which distinguishes the baptism of Christ from the baptism of John. In consequence of this initiation, we are to believe in him, and to pray to him for grace and peace, as well as to the first and second persons. Accordingly, St. Paul, 2 Cor. xiii. 14, prays distinctly to the three persons by name : The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.' It was for these and the like reasons, that the church, in every age, hath repeated hymns, and paid divine honours, to the Holy Ghost, as well as to the other persons of the blessed Trinity.

Fourthly, The Holy Ghost is most evidently proved to be God, by his works and offices, which carry with them so high a character in Scripture, and require such a plenitude of the divine attributes in the execution, as cannot be ascribed to any but the infinite Being, without a degree of absurdity inconsistent with common sense, and of wickedness unworthy of Christianity.

He is said to have his share in the creation of the world; Gen. i. 2, where we are told, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; Job xxvi. 13, where it is said of God, 'that by his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens ;' and, chap. xxxiii. 4, where Elihu says, “The Spirit of God hath made me.'

« ZurückWeiter »