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The Divinity of and Operations Of the Holy Ghost
Evidence of His Godhead-Part I
"Now the Lord is that Spirit," 2 Corinthians 3:17
Every evidence which hath been brought before you in the preceding Sermon, by way of demonstrating the personality of the Holy Ghost, might, with very little extent of argument, have been made to prove his Godhead also. For the conviction of the one so necessarily draws after it the assurance of the other, that it is hardly possible to separate the testimony, which equally operates to the confirmation of both. Indeed, in many of the passages of Scripture which were then reviewed, the doctrine appeared to be undeniable, by the fairest implication.
But it was foreign to my intention, by the inductions of any particulars in that discourse, to anticipate in your mind the proof of the Holy Ghost's divinity. The grand object I had then in view was, to ascertain the certainty of the blessed Spirit's being a person. An inquiry into his nature and dignity, I reserved for the topic of the present discussion, as very justly entitled to a separate and distinct regard. Neither will it, I believe, be thought by anyone whose mind is properly impressed with a due reverence for the subject we are upon, that it is possible to be too minute or particular in the investigation of a point of such infinite importance. Notwithstanding, therefore, what hath been already incidentally noticed in the preceding Sermon, in reference to the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, may, in a great measure, have carried with it such proofs of its certainty, as to leave but little doubt, whether a Being to whom are ascribed such wonderful properties and powers, can be any other than God; yet I could wish, were it possible, that you should bring to the present examination of this great question, a mind perfectly free and unbiased with the smallest prepossession in favor of the doctrine; that when we have gone over the evidences yet remaining to be considered on this matter, your subscription to it may not be the result of haste and inconsideration, but of the most complete and absolute conviction.
I begin with assuming for a principle, what I hope hath been amply proved in the former discourses, that the Holy Ghost is a conscious, intelligent, personal Being. And the question immediately arising from hence will be under what character are we to consider him? What rank does he possess in the scale of existence? It hath been shown, from the testimony of Scripture already brought forward concerning him, that he is not an emanation, an attribute, or energy of the Godhead, but one evidently defined by personal properties. And from hence it must follow, that he is either God, possessing, in a distinction of person, an ineffable unity of the divine nature with the Father and the Son; or that he is the creature of God, infinitely removed from him in essence and dignity, and having no other than a derivative excellence in that rank to which he is appointed in creation. There is no medium betwixt the one and the other. Nothing intermediate between the Creator and created can be admissible. So that were the Holy Ghost to be placed at the top of all creation, even as high above the highest angel, as that angel transcends the lowest reptile of animated life, the chasm would be still infinite; and he, who is emphatically called the Eternal Spirit, would not be God.
The discussion of this very interesting question is to form the subject of our present meditation. And while I again request your close attention to it, as to a matter of the first consequence to your peace, and as such to be regarded; I would look up, and with increased earnestness at every step we go, desire we might renew our supplications, for the continual aids of that "wisdom which is from above," and which can alone enable us to prosecute our path with a certain assurance of success. The soul, like the body, requires a constant supply of nourishment and support. The sustenance derived from yesterday's manna, cannot be sufficient, neither was it intended for the preservation of the present moment: it rather becomes an indication of continual necessity. And if we wish to keep the soul alive, with all her faculties in full vigor, our wants will compel us to go forth every day, and seek the renewed food from heaven. As soon as the "morning dew is gone up from the host," we shall gather the omer, with humble waitings upon the bountiful Giver. While preserving this unremitted dependence upon him, every necessity will be supplied, and having "nourishment ministered and knit together we shall increase with the increase of God," (Cols. 2:19). Our "day of small things," will be made a day of usefulness in the spiritual building of the faith; and divine strength being perfected in human weakness, the "headstone will be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it," (Zech. 4:7).
It may very safely be admitted, as a maxim perfectly incontrovertible, being supported both by reason and the nature of things, and also by the authority of Scripture; that as all the knowledge we can have of the being and perfections of the Godhead, must be derived from the revelations, which he has been pleased to make of himself, and from whence alone we can infer the certainty of his divinity; so, when we are taught, from the same unerring source of truth, that the Holy Ghost is distinguished by names, and attributes, accompanied with such a plenitude of underived power, and manifested in a train of operations, transcending all finite ability, and such as can belong to none but God; there can be no reason for hesitation, in the one case, more than in the other: however mysterious and inexplicable the existence of a distinction of persons in the essence of Godhead may be, the conclusion is unavoidable. He, of whom such things are said, is, and must be God; or, to use the words of the text, "the Lord is that Spirit."
Whether such are revealed to us in Scripture of the Holy Ghost, as will necessarily lead to this conclusion, is the grand point to be determined. And this I shall have no manner of doubt of being able to prove, and let me add, of obtaining your unreserved belief to the truth of the doctrine involved in it; when under the divine aid, you shall have fully examined the testimonies now to be proposed to your consideration.
The first class of evidences, in proof of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, to which I would wish to direct your attention, shall be the names and titles by which he is known in Scripture, and which can be received under no other acceptation, than that a Being, so eminently distinguished, is God.
Of these we find, that there are some, by which the blessed Spirit is peculiarly known, and others, which, by implication, he possesses in common with the Father and the Son, in the undivided essence of Godhead. Indeed, strictly speaking, though in the wonderful scheme of human redemption, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are revealed to us, under distinct names and characters, by which we are taught to ascribe certain operations to one, more immediately than to another; yet the agency of each is not to be considered as so detached, but that the whole cooperate and concur. And hence it is, most probably, that among the specific and peculiar appellations by which the blessed Spirit is distinguished, and which imply his sovereignty and power, we find that he is also called, "the Spirit of the Father," (John 15:26), and "the Spirit of the Son," (Gal. 4:6); because, acting in conjunction with the Father, and the Son, the operations of the one are in effect the operations of the other, and altogether result from the indivisible essence of the Godhead. It is the grandeur, it is the infinity of the subject, which necessarily precludes our having clearer conceptions of this distinction of person, subsisting in an unity of nature. But though we cannot find terms sufficiently expressive, to convey adequate ideas of this mysterious existence; nor indeed can even the imagination conceive a perfect apprehension of it in the mind; yet the certainty of it is abundantly confirmed through every part of Scripture. For, while the fundamental doctrine of all religion is founded in the unity of the divine essence, and it is plain, both from the nature of things and the whole tenor of revelation, that there is, there can be but one God; it is as evident from the same unquestionable authority, that God exists in a plurality of persons.
Among the names and titles, by which the Holy Ghost is known in Scripture, that of the Eternal Spirit is his peculiar appellation. A name, which in the very first face of things accurately defines his nature, and carries with it the most convincing proof of Godhead. None but "the High and Holy One, which inhabiteth eternity," can be called eternal. Of other beings, who possess a derivative immortality, it may be said, that as they are created for eternity, they may enjoy, through the benignity of their Creator, a future eternal duration. But this differs as widely as the east is from the west, when applied to him of whom we are speaking. He alone, who possesses an underived, independent, and necessary self-existence, "who was, and is, and is to come," can be said, in exclusion of all other beings, to be eternal. "He only hath immortality." There is no epithet, perhaps, altogether so determinate in proof of Godhead as this. To none but Jehovah himself can it be applied. No creature, however high or exalted, can be distinguished by such a character. Let his existence be traced back to millions of ages, yet there was a period when every created being began to be. But He, who is emphatically called the Eternal Spirit, is "from everlasting to everlasting." And as this is one of the incommunicable properties of Godhead, so consequently he, of whom it is spoken, must be God.1
In like manner we trace similar proofs of the Godhead of the blessed Spirit, from the name and character by which he is peculiarly known, when he is called the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit. For while we read in Scripture, that "there is none holy but the Lord, for there is none beside him:" and every part of the sacred volume concurs in assuring us, that holiness is one of the peculiar attributes of the Godhead, and such as, from its nature, must be altogether inapplicable to every other being; (because the perfection of every created being is derivative, and consequently not his own); as then we find, that the blessed Spirit is constantly distinguished by this name, and revealed to us under this character; what possible prevention can arise to keep back our belief of his Godhead, to whom such an attribute of Godhead is applied? And when we discover, moreover, that the appellation is not merely titular, a barren name proceeding from no cause, and unaccompanied with any effect, but followed with all the proofs of a divine being, in full possession of divine power; that this Holy Spirit imparts holiness to believers; convinces them of sin; sanctifies their nature; helps their infirmities; when they are under error, is the "Spirit of truth to guide them into all truth;" when they are under trouble, becomes to them "the Holy Ghost the Comforter:" and as in this life he is the great cause of regenerating their nature from sin to holiness, by which they are "sealed unto the day of redemption:" so in another, he will be the Almighty agent, to "quicken their mortal bodies," when that which is sown in grace, shall be reaped in glory: who can possibly believe that all these divine acts of the Holy and Eternal Spirit, can be performed by any but the Holy and Eternal God? It must be prejudice in the extreme, to admit the one, and yet deny the other. And upon the presumption that the fact be, as it is stated, the conclusion, in the favor of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, will be unavoidable.2
I might go on in support of my present argument, to the examination of all the other names and titles by which the Holy Ghost is known in Scripture; for they all, more or less, minister to the same great truth. Not a single appellation is given to the blessed Spirit, but what carries with it some more peculiar and additional evidence of the Godhead of his person. But a minute discussion of every instance which might be produced of this kind would in a great measure impede my course in pursuit of the object I have in view. Those which I have mentioned are sufficient to exemplify the certainty of the doctrine itself, and to prove that the Being, who is distinguished by such names, and of, whom such things are said, cannot but be God.
Indeed, as a single character of Godhead could not be applied to the Holy Ghost, but under the fullest assurance of his divine nature; had there not been some more immediate object in view, than merely to have conveyed to the mind the knowledge of his divinity; one name, which clearly and unequivocally implied or expressed it, would have answered every purpose. But from the various and relative terms under which the blessed Spirit is revealed in Scripture, it should seem to have been the divine intention not only to have designed his titles as so many proofs of Godhead, but also that they might become subjects of comfort, in those intimate relations (if I may presume to call them by that name) in which the Holy Ghost is said to stand to believers. And under this idea indeed we shall find, that every name given to the blessed Spirit is of peculiar significance, and conveys to us, in the most pleasing and familiar manner, the several graces and operations he is carrying on in the human mind.
When (for example) he is called the "Spirit of truth;" as this immutable principle, emblematically considered, can only be applied to an immutable being, and none but God himself can be distinguished by such an attribute; it becomes the plainest proof in the world, that he who is revealed under this appellation must be God. And the acts included in this character do as fully certify his possession of divine properties, to qualify for the discharge of them. As the "Spirit of truth," he is "to guide into all truth;" to "take of the things of Christ and of the Father, and to shew them to the disciples; to glorify Christ," and the like: the performance of these several operations, it is evident, must have depended upon the Godhead of his person. For, there would be a palpable absurdity in supposing that anything finite could accomplish infinite purposes. And to take of an infinite Being, to display his actions infinitely, to glorify him infinitely, and in short to produce such effects, ad infinitum, and all the while, by the exercise of finite properties, would be the most chimerical notion ever adopted.
But though these circumstances become so many decisive proofs of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, this was not all the information venture to suppose intended to be conveyed concerning him, by this character of the "Spirit of truth." It was meant also, no doubt, to indicate that he would be an infallible Teacher and Guide to his people, when, according to the prophet, "he led the blind by a way that they knew not; and into paths which they had not known," (Isa. 42:16). Amidst the various deviations from the truth, into which the minds of men in all ages are tempted to wander, it was designed as a matter of peculiar comfort to the believer, that his teacher should be the blessed Spirit of truth, whose grace it was to guide into all truth. So that under that anointing of the Holy One, he would know all things; be secured from the possibility of error, and the hidden life of the Christian be preserved in the soul.
In like manner, as to the title of the Comforter; which he is expressly denominated by Christ himself; in what a variety of interesting particulars are we enabled to contemplate the Holy Ghost, under this tender appellation, added to the positive proof it affords of the divinity of his character! While we derive from it the fullest conviction, that nothing less than God himself can be the true comforter of man, in all the various situations in which he may be placed; that none but He, who is Omniscient to know, Omnipotent to protect, and Eternal to abide with him forever, can be competent to relieve all his wants and necessities, both here and hereafter; and while such views bring home to the heart the most satisfying assurances of the Godhead of his person, by whom such operations are wrought; it is incredible to suppose, but that Christ represented the Holy Ghost as the Paraclete of his people, for other purposes besides that of testifying his divinity. Was it not the intention also of our ever compassionate Redeemer, in proposing the blessed Spirit to our hearts, under this most endearing character, that the remembrance of it might always prompt the mind under any of its tribulations, to have recourse to his gracious aids? He knew full well the numberless situations of evil, through which the faithful must pass. And he knew also how apt we are, upon any of those occasions, to lean for help on objects which cannot but deceive. In revealing therefore the blessed Spirit under this amiable attribute of the Comforter, which contains in its comprehension of expression all that is recommendable to the heart; surely he meant to say, that though all lesser consolations should fail, yet in Him the faithful would find "everlasting consolation and good hope through grace," (2 Thess. 2:16). And who, that knows the little value of all human comforts, can need anything more to convince him of the infinite blessing of having somewhat beyond them? For how pleasant soever our earthly enjoyments may for the moment appear, they afford only a temporary relief. They are so transient, often deceitful, and generally unsatisfactory. Like the gourd of Jonah, "they come up in a night and die before the morning." And how frequently in the very moment, while tasting of their sweets, is our situation rendered similar to the prophet's at the brook; the spring of supply is dried up, and a new place must be sought for. And hence no doubt it is that all the consolations of the creature are so generally forbidden, or, if allowed, prove empty and unsatisfying, on purpose to lead the heart to the great Creator. For while we keep near to this fountain-head of every comfort, however the current of other sources may fail, the refreshments which flow from hence will be perennial.
The process is indeed remarkable, which may be observed in the dispensations of the present life, whereby the Lord is training the faithful for glory. The situation and the trials of every one seem to be so admirably adjusted, as if that individual alone occupied the whole of the divine regard. The cup, which is given to each disciple, is precisely what it is, because none else would answer the purposes intended for probation. But he that has appointed it, knows the exact proportion of the mingled potion it contains, and does not suffer the "drop too much" to be poured in. Oh! did men of the world, or did even true believers, but accustom themselves to consider more attentively than they do, the hand which graciously administers it; they would see enough to convince them, that every draught, how unpleasant soever it may seem, is of a salutary nature, and becomes of medicinal virtue, under the divine blessing. And the instances, I believe, are not a few, in every man's life, where the very cup, our wayward humor would willingly have dashed to the ground (but in which mistaken desire the mind has not been gratified), has been found in the end that which was most to be coveted: divine mercy has converted its nauseous contents into effects which are pleasant and desirable, and made it the reverse of what is related of the Angel's book, though "bitter to the taste," yet in the stomach "sweet as honey."
But I must pursue these reflections no further. My province at present is with the evidences of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost. I pass on therefore to the testimonies yet remaining to be considered on this subject.
Though the testimonies, from the several names by which the Holy Ghost is peculiarly known in Scripture, and the epithets which are prefixed to them, are inexplicable; but on the supposition of his divine nature, I cannot but think they are completely satisfactory, in proof of the Godhead of his person; yet it will certainly tend to the greater stability of our faith in this important article of religion, if we add to them some more general titles which he possesses, in common with the other sacred persons of the Godhead. The limits I am obliged to observe in a work of this kind compel me to be as brief as possible in bringing the evidences into the closest comprehension of argument, that they may be just sufficient, and no more, in support of the object in view.
It is hardly necessary for me to remark to you, that the appellation of Jehovah, by which the Almighty is known in his holy word, is, of all others, a term expressing (as far as language can express) an infinite, necessarily independent, and self-existing Being. A name that is perfectly incommunicable to all creatures, and can be applied to none indeed, but to the One Supreme. If therefore it can be shown, that this sacred and incommunicable name is either directly, or by way of implication, made use of, when speaking of the Holy Ghost, the evident inference must be that the Holy Ghost is Jehovah. A few quotations from Scripture will be sufficient to this purpose.
In the book of Deuteronomy, the inspired writer speaking of the traversing of Israel through the wilderness, observes, that Jehovah alone "did lead him, and there was no strange God with him," (compare Deut. 32:12 with Isa. 63:10, et seq.). But the prophet Isaiah, in explaining this passage of the Jewish history, expressly says that it was the Holy Spirit that "led them by the right hand with his glorious arm." A positive proof that the Holy Spirit is Jehovah.
Again; At the waters of Massah and Meribah, the people tempted Jehovah because of their thirst. But the inspired writer to the Hebrews applies all this, to the Holy Ghost, (compare Ex. 17:2 with Heb. 3:7-9).
Once more. The Evangelist. St. Luke says, that "it was the Lord God of Israel which spake by the mouth of the holy prophets which have been since the world began," (Luke 1:68). Whereas the apostle Paul declares, that it was the Holy Ghost who spake by Esaias the prophet, (Acts 28:25). And to the same purport corresponds the testimony of the prophet Isaiah, compared with St. Paul. "The Lord (Jehovah) said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed but understand not, and see ye indeed but perceive, not." The apostle, in quoting this passage, expressly declares that it was the Holy Ghost. "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet, unto our Father, saying, Go unto this people and say," &c. (compare Isa. 6:9 with Acts 28:25).
And still more, in confirmation that the Holy Ghost is the Jehovah here spoken of, it is said in the book of Numbers, "If there be a prophet among you, I Jehovah will make myself known unto him in a vision," (Num. 12:6). But St. Peter refers all the gifts of prophecy unto the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost. "Prophecy (says he) came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," (2 Pet. 1:21). This concurrence of testimony will be thought, I hope, decisive in proof, that the Holy Ghost is Jehovah.
The same doctrine is as clearly implied in those Scriptures, where the provoking Jehovah, and tempting the Most High God, in one part, is explained in another, in immediate reference to the Holy Spirit, (compare Num. 14:11 with Ps. 78:56 and Isa. 63:10). The sin itself indeed evidently indicates the Godhead of the Being, against whom only it can be committed. Hence, when Moses warned the Israelites against the commission of it, he said, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," (Jehovah Elohim). But in that memorable instance of the apostle Peter's punishing Ananias and Sapphira, for this very crime, he charged them with tempting "the Spirit of the Lord." And what is further remarkable in this transaction, and which indeed becomes convincing in our present argument, is, that the Being, which in one verse is called the Holy Ghost, to pneuma to hagion in the very next following, is said to be God, tō theō, (compare Deut 6:16 with Acts 5:3-4).
More texts of Scripture, to the same purport, might be adduced. But these, I hope, will be thought sufficient in proof that the incommunicable name of Jehovah is given to the Holy Ghost; and being thus given, it is impossible that any other conclusion can result from it, but the one which the Psalmist hath made; that "He, whose name is Jehovah, is only the most High over all the earth," (Ps. 83:18).
As the appellation Jehovah or Lord implies one necessarily self-existing Being, and is the incommunicable name of Deity; so that of Elohim, or God, is but another distinction of the same character; and, like the former, is frequently used in reference to the Holy Ghost. 3 This will appear by a comparison of parallel texts of Scripture.
It is said of God, in the Old Testament (accommodating the expressions used to the language and apprehension of men), that He would come and dwell in them. "I will set my tabernacle among you, and I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people," (Lev. 26:11-12). In illustrating which passage, the apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, in one part explains the terms made use of, in allusion to the Father, and in another, to the Holy Ghost. "Ye are the temple (says he) of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people," (2 Cor. 6:16). Here the passage is quoted totidem verbis [with just so many words], and explained in reference to the Father. In another place, the apostle makes express application of it to the Holy Ghost. He considers it, indeed, as a matter so well understood, and so generally known, that he questions with a kind of surprise, as if the disbelief of it was impossible. "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" (1 Cor. 6:19). And that no possible misapprehension might remain, the identity of person is still more emphatically marked, in much the same question, in a preceding chapter: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). If then it was God himself that promised of old to come unto his people and make them his temple; and yet, the bodies of believers are expressly said to be the temples of the Holy Ghost; must it not follow, by an undeniable conclusion, that the Holy Ghost is God? The terms applied to both are the same. They are synonymous, and can be interpreted in no other way. And let any man explain, if he can, the possibility of an indwelling Being, but under the assurance that he is an indwelling God? Surely, the very, idea of a temple presupposes the Godhead of Him to whom it is dedicated and his residence in it is impossible, but under the certainty of his possessing divine properties. So very clear and decisive therefore are those texts of Scripture, when comparative views are taken of them, in proof of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost; nor, indeed, can they be reconcilable, upon any other terms, with the principles even of common sense.
The same doctrine may be deduced from various other passages of holy writ, by the fairest and plainest arguments.
The apostle Paul tells the Philippians, that it is "God which worketh in them, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure," (Phil. 2:13). Whereas in his other epistles, he generally ascribes the operations on the minds of men to the agency of the blessed Spirit. Speaking of spiritual gifts, he tells the Corinthians, that his operations are universal: "All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will," (1 Cor. 12:11). But that the Godhead of this Almighty Being, who distributes his gifts according to the purposes of his will, may not be overlooked or forgotten, he tells them in the same chapter, that "it is the same God which worketh all in all," (1 Cor. 12:6).
Again; the act of sealing the Lord's people is ascribed by the apostle Paul, to the operation of the Father, (2 Cor. 1:22). And yet, the same inspired writer, in another of his epistles, tells the Ephesians, that "they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," (Eph. 1:13). And "by him they were also sealed unto the day of redemption," (Eph. 4:30). The inference is obvious.4
In that sublime hymn of praise, in which the Psalmist extols the attributes of Godhead, what he says in one verse, by way of absolute distinction of God the Father, in another, and in the very same application of character, is referred to the Holy Ghost. "O Lord, thou least searched me out and known me, thou compasseth my path, and art acquainted with all my ways." Immediately after this he adds, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence," (Ps. 139:1-2).
To the same amount is the testimony of the beloved apostle St. John. The very operation on the human mind, which in his first epistle is imputed to the Father, is in his gospel ascribed to the Holy Ghost, (compare John 3:6 with John 5:4). But it would be superfluous to multiply quotations, for the purpose of establishing the proofs of a doctrine so generally attested by all the arguments of this kind, which have been now produced. If it can any way be supposed, in the instances which I have mentioned, that the name of the incommunicable Jehovah, and the distinguishing appellation of God, be clearly and unequivocally applied to the person of the Holy Ghost; we have at once a full and absolute demonstration of his Godhead. For it would be the grossest perversion of language to suppose, that such terms of distinction should be given to him, unconnected with his possession of their relative properties.
Before I dismiss this branch of evidences in proof of the Holy Ghost's divine nature, I have to request that your recollection may be refreshed with the testimonies we examined in the preceding discourses, respecting his personality. They are peculiarly necessary to be considered at this time; and, indeed, I would wish that they may be never lost sight of through every part of our subject. The certainty of his person places him in some rank in the scale of Being. Admitting this, if it be not allowed at the same time that He is one with the Father and the Son, in the indivisible essence of Godhead, the application of the name of Jehovah to him would be the exalting a creature unto a level with the infinite Creator, and involving in its consequences the grossest idolatry. And upon the presumption that he is an Eternal Being, to whom the name of Jehovah is justly applied, and yet, that he is not one with the Father and the Son, this would be polytheism indeed! making two or more first causes, overturning the whole fabric of religion, and introducing anarchy and disorder among all its principles. How gratifying then is it to the true believer, when he traces through every part of Scripture this beautiful analogy of one and the same name, which distinguishes Godhead, indiscriminately applied to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Spirit. For such an equal participation of name and character can only be the effect of an equal participation of all the properties of the Godhead. And however mysterious to beings of the limited faculties we possess, such apprehensions of the divine existence may be, the fact is undeniable. Every part of Scripture concurs to stamp the certainty of this great doctrine, that in the undivided essence of Godhead, there is a distinction of person; and yet this distinction of person, by an incomprehensible unity of nature, constitutes, at the same time, but the one true God.
The second class of evidences, in proof of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, may be taken from his possession of the divine attributes. Distinction of character can only be justly ascertained by specific properties: As we infer therefore the quality of a man from the powers and faculties he possesses, so, by a parity of reasoning, the perfections of Godhead, which are conspicuous in the Holy Ghost, do as plainly determine the divinity of his nature.
The testimonies of this kind, under which the Holy Ghost is represented in Scripture, are so numerous, that I am only at a loss to make such a selection from them as shall be sufficient to our purpose, and yet give variety to our subject, by avoiding a sameness of argument. I think it therefore unnecessary to dwell upon those illustrious attributes of his Eternity and Holiness; for they were indirectly reviewed (being included in the names and titles taken notice of) in the former part of this discourse. His possession of those distinguishing properties of Godhead, will hardly be questioned by anyone who will seriously attend to what was then said respecting him. And the clear and indisputable right to such distinctions of character, which forever separates him from the most distant comparison with any of his creatures, must be the most decisive evidence of the Godhead of his person.
Ubiquity is another eminent property of the Godhead. It necessarily includes infinity, and is indeed joined with it. For as the infinite nature of God denies any limits to its existence, so the ubiquity of God admits of no bounds to his essence. Our faculties, it must be confessed, are not commensurate to the apprehension of either; but the conviction of the one, arising from the evidences with which it is attested, draws after it the certainty of the other, and, however inconceivable to us, establishes both. But reason is thus far able to follow revelation, in her testimony of these unquestionable truths, as to apprehend the possibility of an infinite Being filling infinite space. But what a contemplation, indeed, does the idea of any part of the divine character open to our minds! my business, however, is not so much to discourse upon the perfection itself, as to show that the Holy Ghost possesses it. And this may be done from a single evidence (passing by others which might, if needful, be produced upon the occasion), because it is one of the plainest and best suited for popular apprehension. Jesus, when animating the minds of his disciples with the promise of another Comforter, among other traits in his character, gave them this, that he should "abide with them for ever;" which is, at once, the fullest assurance of his ubiquity. For the possibility of a perpetual residence with them could only result from his possession of this attribute. To be intimately in communion with the Lord's people, at all times and in all places, so as to impart what consolation he saw to be needful, and to supply all spiritual assistance, unless he himself were really and essentially omnipresent, would be impossible. It is the express property of the creature of every degree, to be limited by place and confined in operation; and this is a certain criterion of character. He, therefore, who possesses infinity, cannot but be infinite.
The Omniscience of the blessed Spirit arises out of his Omnipresence, and may be proved by the same arguments. And unless any man can suppose, that the great Redeemer of the world hath committed the finishing part of his gracious scheme of salvation to a creature, and to a Being, whose inspiration is partial and limited; it would, I conceive, be going about to establish a self-evident proposition, to offer any testimonies in proof, that the Holy Ghost is omniscient.
If Omnipotence5 be considered as a sufficient attestation of Godhead, all the works in which the blessed Spirit has been, and is now, engaged in every dispensation of providence and grace, are so many united testimonies, in ascribing this great attribute unto him. Indeed the evidence of St. Paul is enough to certify his possession of this Almighty perfection: for he saith in one of his epistles, that all the signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, which were wrought by his instrumentality, in the course of his ministry, were all accomplished by the power of the Spirit. And what less than Omnipotence could impart to man the ability of working miracles, and of altering, at his pleasure, the established order of nature? And yet more than this, what must, if possible, be esteemed a still higher proof of Omnipotency, and which is among the peculiar offices of the Holy Ghost, is that grand operation in the soul of man, in raising the sinner, "dead in trespasses and sins," to a new and spiritual life.
I shall mention but one attribute more, in proof of the Godhead of the blessed Spirit, and that is, his wisdom: which is indeed so high a distinction in the Divine character, that in many parts of Scripture we find that God is expressly called by this name. One of the apostles with a peculiar kind of emphasis styles him, "the only wise God," (Jude 25). The possession of this attribute by the Holy Ghost is evident from the whole tenor of the sacred writings. He is known among other titles, as "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah," (Isa. 11:2). But it is needless to multiply arguments in proof. The peculiar nature of his office, on the minds of believers, manifests, that he "is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him," (Eph. 1:17). He, who is given "to lead his people into all truth;" to "bring all things to their remembrance;" to teach them in critical moments of danger how to act; and to be a mouth and wisdom to them, which "all their adversaries should neither be able to gainsay or resist;" must eminently possess qualities suitable to the performance, and "in him be hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Col. 2:3).
I have now finished all the testimonies I think it necessary to produce, in proof of the Holy Ghost's divinity, from the several names, titles, and attributes, by which he is known in Scripture. The evidences to the same amount of this great doctrine, yet remaining to be considered, are to be gathered from his operations. But these must be reserved for the subject of the succeeding discourse. I have only, in the interim, to repeat an earnest prayer to Almighty God, that both what has been already reviewed and what shall hereafter be brought before you upon this solemn topic, may be all accompanied with the blessing of his grace!
1 The eternity of the Holy Ghost, considered as forming a permanent security for the accomplishment of all those gracious acts, included in his divine ministry in the hearts of believers, affords so many delightful reflections for spiritual improvement, and becomes so highly gratifying in the review, that I hope to be forgiven, if I add a few thoughts in this why concerning it. Back to reading.
It is impossible, I think, to contemplate the Holy Ghost, under this attribute abstractedly considered, without being awakened into the most profound reverence, in the idea of his infinity. To conceive of him, as a being possessing an eternal, underived existence, "having neither beginning of days, nor end of life," but remaining unchangeably the same, from everlasting to everlasting; what a subject is this for the human mind to enter upon! Infinite on all sides, above and below, and every where around, the imagination is lost in the immensity of the idea. It is like launching into an illimitable ocean, without finding the possibility of either shore or bottom!
And the awfulness induced in the soul by this awakening meditation, is but the more increased, when from considering the Eternal Spirit abstractedly as he is in himself, we regard him as he appears in relation to our nature. In the transition, which seems unavoidable, from the contemplation of a being so infinitely great, to the review of a creature so infinitely humble as man; no terms are competent to express the difference. The one, "without variableness or shadow of turning; the same yesterday, to day, and for ever:" the other, whose existence, for the transiency of its duration, and the frailty of its texture, is compared, in the nervous language of Scripture, to the "shadow that departeth;" and to the strength, which is "crushed" even "before the moth." He, who hath the most lively apprehension of the extreme pertinency of these figures, will best feel the force of the Psalmist's observations: "Lord! what is man, that thou art mindful of him; and the son of man, that thou regardest him?"
But when we proceed yet further in the contemplation, and consider this Eternal Spirit, in the divine operations carried on by his immediate agency; that a Being, whom "the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, cannot contain," should yet graciously condescend to visit creatures of the earth; nay, more than this, not only visit, but dwell with them; and though of "purer eyes than to behold iniquity," should even take the human heart "for his temple;" and from the sinful mass of men, be gathering to himself a "glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish:" here the mind of man is overpowered in the contemplation, and unable to find any terms of expression corresponding to the ideas awakened; he can only exclaim in the same words of admiration as the apostle, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!"
It is in this most endearing of all considerations, that the eternity of the blessed Spirit becomes so delightful and consolatory in the reflection, to the soul of man. Infinite greatness thus beheld, through the medium of infinite goodness, excites an animation, and encourages, at the time it impresses with reverence. It is from this glorious attribute that we derive assurance, both of the immutability in which all the dispensations of grace are founded, and of the security the faithful possess, for the performance of all the divine promises. In the eternity of the nature of the blessed Spirit, efficacy is imparted to all the works he is carrying on, in the economy of human redemption: and because he is unchangeable, believers are secured in their dependence upon him, that the dispensations of his grace are unchangeable also. How encouraging, in this view of things, is the eternal character of Him, to whose ministry the great Saviour of the world hath reserved the efficient means of finishing his salvation! If the first manifestations of grace originated in human merit; or if the continuance of its operations depended upon human merit, what desponding moments might it not at times occasion in the breast of the most faithful believer! But when we recollect the Being, whose peculiar province it is to begin, carry on, and complete the great work of regeneration, by whom the merits of the Redeemer are applied and made effectual to the pardon of sin, and the renewing of the mind in the believer; as these acts plainly intimate the Omnipotency of him by whom they are accomplished; so do they afford, at the same time, the most incontestable proofs to the faithful, that his purposes concerning them are fixed and immutable. He is the Alpha and Omega, in every operation. He hath the key of David; "He openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth." Look into thy heart, O Christian, for the testimonies of his divine agency. Examine, and reexamine, for that "anointing of the Holy One," by those infallible marks which cannot be mistaken. The inward witness, like the burning bush before the astonished prophet, may convince you of the holy ground on which you stand; and "he who hath begun the good work in you, will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ." Oh! the happiness of that soul, who in the midst of this dreaming world, "hath received his testimony, and hath set to his seal that God is true." How immediately applicable to all such are the words of promise. "Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel. Fear not, for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee," (Isa. 43:1-2). And may we not add, even in the swellings of Jordan, when going down to the way, which all must pass, the same Eternal Spirit, who, unseen, hath accompanied all along the journey, will then rest upon thee as upon Elijah's mantle, dividing the waters of death, "hither and thither;" and thou shalt go over to the promised land, as on dry ground, "in the path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen," (Job 28:7).
2 In every point of view in which we contemplate the perfections of the blessed Spirit, we find subjects continually opening upon us to engage our attention, and to awaken us to some more peculiar duty, corresponding to the particular attribute we behold in his character. In the divine property of his holiness, the most persuasive of all arguments is found, to recommend holiness to the Lord's people, and to induce in them an imitation, as far as the frailty of nature will admit, of the perfection they adore. And though, no doubt, the vast dissimilarity in the human character to the divine, precludes the possibility of any near approach in the resemblance; yet there will be at least some faint traces to manifest the affinity in the members to their spiritual head. Holiness in man indeed is and must be altogether derivative. It is like the light of the moon, all borrowed. For as her opaque body is incapable in herself of emitting any rays of light, but the whole of her luster is entirely the effect of a reflected shining; so the Christian possesses no inherent quality of brightness in himself, but all must first be received before it can be imparted. But as that faithful luminary of the night, from the communion she holds with the sovereign planet of the day, manifests the influence by which she is governed, and shines beautiful amidst the gloom of the hemisphere; so all true believers, on whom the sun of righteousness hath shed his beams of glory, will indicate the source from whence they derive their luster, in the midst of a dark and degenerate age, "among whom they shine as lights in the world."
Among the evidences by which the truth of a real religious character can be ascertained, there is none so decisive as that which is drawn from those principles of holiness; wrought in the soul by the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. As this becomes a very interesting point, and such as no Christian ought to be ignorant of, I would beg the indulgence of stating it somewhat more particularly. And I am the more prompted to it from a conviction of its necessity. I fear we do not attend to this distinguishing feature, in the character of a Christian, in the manner we ought, and suitably to its importance. There is an orthodoxy of the head (if I may so call it) which reaches not to the heart. Professors, who are seeking an easier path to their Lord's kingdom, than either the Master or his faithful disciples trod, rest satisfied in possession of the former, without being solicitous for the latter. And hence it is, that while the humble believer, because he does not find a perfect conformity to the holy pattern, in an absolute freedom from all sin, is cast down with distressing apprehensions, and led to judge unfavorably of himself, as though he possessed no evidence of any change having been wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Ghost: there are others, who satisfy their minds with slight views of duty, and from professing an outward testimony in favor of the principles of the gospel, are not so attentive as they ought, to the acquiring the inward effects. For the information of both these very different characters; with a view to quiet the needless apprehension of the one, and to awaken the concern of the other to a more serious regard, in the proper discrimination of duty; I would humbly beg to propose the following considerations.
Though holiness is not among the efficient means of man's salvation; "being justified freely (as the apostle observes) by the grace which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;" yet is it an indispensable evidence of the new and spiritual life. For as by holiness we best manifest the reality of our religion, and afford the most convincing proof that we are "passed from death unto life;" so is it an express precept, that "as he who hath called us is holy, so must we be holy in all manner of conversation." And it is an awful declaration, never to be forgotten, to which reason, as well as Scripture subscribes the fullest and most deliberate approbation, "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
This principle then, which, like all other graces, is the gift of God, is shed abroad in the heart of every true believer; by the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. By nature we have it not. Every part of the divine word abounds with descriptions of the corruption of man, as born into this world, and the change which is wrought upon him by the Holy Spirit of the Lord: and these are all so many traits of character, and drawn with the nicest accuracy, to distinguish between a state of nature and a state of grace. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil. If we say that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." No terms can more clearly discriminate the different characters of sin and holiness. A volume written upon the subject might, indeed, illustrate the matter more fully, but it could not mark with greater precision the prominent features belonging to each: Hence it becomes no difficult point for any man to ascertain to which class he belongs. And he that is sincerely desirous of gaining information in a matter which of all others infinitely concerns him, has only to propose to himself those serious questions by which it shall be known. Ask yourself what is the predominant principle of your heart? If sin and holiness are qualities which can never coalesce, or bear equal sway in the same breast, seriously examine which has the empire in your affections? The point may easily be known by a discovery of the leading passions of the mind; whether God or the world, the Spirit or the flesh, this life or the next, mostly occupy the regard. Whether you are busily engaged by any of the various schemes of worldly-minded men, "to make provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof;" or whether you are seeking grace from heaven, to abstract yourself more and more from timings of sense, and "in dying daily to the world," are endeavoring "to crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts?" Questions of this and the like nature, seriously applied to time heart in a single appellation is given to the blessed Spirit, but what carries with it some more peculiar and additional evidence of the Godhead of his person. But a minute discussion of every instance which might be produced of this kind, would in a great measure impede my course in pursuit of the object I have in view. Those which I have mentioned are sufficient to exemplify the certainty of the doctrine itself, and to prove that the Being, who is distinguished by such names, and of, whom such things are said, cannot but be God.
Indeed, as a single character of Godhead could not be applied to the Holy Ghost, but under the fullest assurance of his divine nature; had there not been some more immediate object in view, than merely to have conveyed to the mind the knowledge of his divinity; one name, which clearly and unequivocally implied or expressed it, would have answered every purpose. But from the various and relative terms under which the blessed Spirit is revealed in Scripture, it should seem to have been the divine intention not only to have designed some secret and retired hour, could not fail, under divine help, to let any man into the knowledge of himself and his real character. And though I do not say, that the most exalted Christian would find in the examination of himself, the evidences of a nature so renewed as to be totally free from all sin (alas! this is impossible); yet, I am confident, the least advanced in grace might be enabled by the inquiry, to discover the ruling principle of his conduct. For where a life of true religion is begun in the soul, there will be ever a constant and earnest endeavor accompanying it, of "cleansing the heart from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
While these few hints may serve to convince the most orthodox professor, whose religion is of the head, and not of the heart, that something more is essential to salvation, than mere speculative notions, floating on the understanding without descending into the life; I hope they will be found also not without their use, for the information and comfort of those humble souls, whose want of experiencing a total exemption from the corruptions of nature, tempts them to suspect the reality of their conversion towards God. With all possible tenderness, I would desire such to consider, whether their very apprehensions when properly examined, do not become the truest test of their religious sincerity? Surely the conflicts you maintain, in your endeavors after holiness, are the fullest proofs that a spirit of grace operates in the heart. There is no hostility in a life of sense. None of these struggles which you complain of are discoverable in men of the world. It is only "after the kindness and love of God our Saviour hath appeared," that the holy warfare commences. Then, indeed, "the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit." And never will the battle be over, until life itself is ended, and the angel of death hath sounded a retreat. When the body drops into the grave, all its imperfections and frailties will drop together with it. And when the day of the Lord shall come, and He, who is "the resurrection and the life," shall appear, then that which was sown a "natural body," shall be raised a "spiritual body," and he will change it, "according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Think it not strange," therefore, "concerning this fiery trial," which now tries you, "as though some strange thing happeneth unto you." The corruptions of which you complain, have been the complaint of thousands. It was the same under which holy Paul and his companions groaned, when they had "the sentence of death in themselves, that they should not trust in themselves, but in God who raiseth the dead." And if the consciousness of unallowed transgressions in you shall but induce the same effect, one gracious purpose of infinite wisdom, in the permission of evil, will be answered by it. He is pleased sometimes to suffer his best servants to be made sensible of their frailty, in order to enforce the closer dependence upon divine aid. Had it corresponded with his gracious designs, there can be no question but that the same power, which is first exerted to awaken the sinner to a new and spiritual life, could have totally destroyed the whole body of sin, and the new man might have arisen from the old, "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing;" but how then would "the trial of your faith have been more precious than gold which perisheth?" Go then, my brother, while justly mourning over a nature so deeply tainted with evil, as to require continued humiliation for sin before God, and the continued application of that "blood of cleansing" to the conscience, "which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel;" go, and take with thee those comforts which are the peculiar privilege of every true believer in Christ. Let every renewed instance of frailty lead thy soul in humbleness still nearer unto God. And while daily endeavoring "to perfect holiness in the fear of God," console thyself with the prospect of that happy hour, when all those enemies which now harass and afflict thee (like the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore before the Israelites), thou shalt see no more again for ever. Standing upon the eternal ground, and looking back upon all the proceedings of this life, with a different eye from that with which thou now beholdest them, thou wilt discover the numberless instances in which divine strength hath been perfected in human weakness; and the song of Moses and the Lamb will be the involuntary effusion of every heart; "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!" Back to reading.
3 It is a point of the greatest consequence, in considering the peculiar significance of each name, to remark that Jehovah is singular; thereby denoting the unity of the divine essence: and Elohim is plural, which as evidently implies a plurality of persons in the Godhead; and by being joined with a verb singular, as it is in the first line of the Holy book, as well as in many other parts of it, which would be inadmissible, according to all the rules of grammar, but under this idea it clearly intimates the mysterious plurality of the divine essence. The learned Mr. Parkhurst, in his Lexicon, hath been at the pains of marking the various passages, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, where the Hebrew when meaning the true God Jehovah, is joined with adjectives, pronouns, and verbs plural, and which amount to near thirty in number. Indeed the very phrase used by Moses, and quoted by Christ himself, when speaking of the unity of the Supreme Being, carries with it an indirect proof of this doctrine. "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah." Which (as a writer very pertinently observes) leads us to seek for a plural interpretation, because surely there could need no revelation to teach us that one is one, which if the text meant nothing more, would have been a superfluous information. It were to be wished (as Mr. Parkhurst justly expresses it) that those who have any doubts upon this grand subject, in the present day of blasphemy, would attentively consider these things, and particularly, that "the children of Abraham, according to the flesh," would examine the several texts, which are to this amount in their own Scriptures; they would be led to own, perhaps, through divine assistance, that they expressly teach a plurality of Elohim in Jehovah. Back to reading.
4 As the author writes more for the information of the uninformed, than to gratify the curiosity of the learned, or to add to the stock of human knowledge; he makes no apology to the Logician and the Scholar for adapting his arguments, in a way that may be more plain and convincing, than in the abstruse manner of the schools. At the same time he desires it may be observed, that such as choose to examine his enthymemes [an argument in which one premise is not explicitly stated] by that standard, may, if they please, reduce them into the form of syllogisms, in which their deductions will be found equally conclusive. Back to reading.
5 Though, no doubt, all the attributes of deity are so many standards of character, which call up the human mind to a train of duties corresponding to the contemplation of them, and would afford large scope, to raise the most delightful subjects of this nature, from every one; yet the idea is altogether inadmissible in the present work. I cannot, however, forbear offering a short observation on the Omnipotency of the blessed Spirit, in that particular view of it which respects its operation, when exerted in human weakness. Godly minds are pretty generally accustomed to consider this divine perfection in that ordinary way, as manifested in the support and government of the universe, and, no doubt, find in it, what it admirably furnishes, a source of holy joy and confidence in the contemplation. But the view of this great attribute, as illustrated in the feebleness of believers, is, the considering it in a light in which it is not, I imagine, so frequently regarded; though, to the individual himself, it certainly hath somewhat more peculiarly interesting to recommend it to his notice.
The Omnipotency of the Godhead in raising up great instruments to accomplish great purposes, commands, no doubt, out highest admiration. The earthquake and the storm, considered as his ministers, afford awful instances of his sovereignty and power. But yet, when he is pleased to pass by such as these, and to accomplish great designs by very humble means, and such as in themselves are perfectly unsuited to the work, choosing "weak things, to confound the mighty; and even things that are not, to bring to nought things that are;" there is somewhat in this, which arrests the attention still more powerfully, to trace the finger of God. There is a beautiful passage in the prophecy of Isaiah, which explains this doctrine more forcibly than any form of reasoning I can adopt. "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth; and thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff," (Isa. 41:14-15). The figure of a poor contemptible worm of the earth, so helpless in itself as to be in danger of being crushed by the foot of every passenger, is admirably chosen to represent the feebleness of man. And the strength imparted by his Redeemer could never have been more nervously expressed than in the image of "a worm threshing the mountains," those mightiest works of nature. And what is very remarkable in the terms made use of, God does not say that he will first make him great and powerful, and that then such operations shall be accomplished; but the character of the reptile is still preserved: it is the worm that is to "thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff." And how strikingly is all this exemplified in all the dispensations both of providence and grace, in the life of every believer! What a subject, indeed, is thrown open to our view, in the wide universe of God, under every department of the divine agency! But I must limit my observations to the particular illustrations of it, in the history of the faithful. In the dispensations of God's providence, how refreshing is it to trace the Omnipotence of the blessed Spirit, manifested towards them in all the various means of provision, adapted to their multiform wants and necessities It is all a mystery how he supports his faithful people under the pressure of their troubles. How his strength is perfected in their weakness, diversified as it is in so many millions of instances, and yet extending his care to each of them, as if that one attracted all his regard. But if the ordinary dispensations of his providence be so wonderful, what must those of his grace be, but a continued miracle from the beginning to the end! That this heavenly spark should not be lost and extinguished, when first falling into such a sea of corruption, as the human heart; that it should continue and burn in secret; that "many waters shall not be able to quench it;" but that at length it should brighten up and kindle into a flame: these are all mysteries, which can only be referred to the unsearchable wisdom and power of God. And what a divine property must that be which is thus rendered most illustrious in the weakness of his creatures! It is not exerted in supporting what is already strong; not in helping what possesses some power; nor in cleansing what is in part holy: but in taking from the mass of helpless, infirm, and polluted creatures of the dust, and purifying them for his glory. In no point of view does this great attribute of the blessed Spirit appear to such advantage, or become so recommending to the heart of man, as when manifested in the weakness of the creature. Oh! that the faithful could be made more and more sensible, of the resources, they possess in it, for every occasion of life. That when "the empty soul is made hungry," and "the drink of the thirsty fail," they would trace the divine intention therein, and live more upon "that bread which is handed to them in secret." And were the Lord's people but to distinguish themselves as his people, by this conduct, they would be better prepared for such needful transitions in life, as when from the mountain of retirement and prayer, where the manifestation of the divine presence is sometimes graciously afforded them, they are led, like their Master, into the wilderness to sustain the conflicts of the tempter; and where, during such seasons, all human aids are withdrawn, on purpose that they may cast "all their care upon him who careth for them." Back to reading.
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