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The Divinity of and Operations Of the Holy Ghost
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The Divinity of and Operations Of the Holy Ghost
THE DIVINITY AND OPERATIONS
OF THE HOLY GHOST
Evidence of His Godhead-Part II
"For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead," Romans 1:20.
In examining the proofs of any important doctrine, it is a gratifying consideration that we are not supplied with one or two evidences only, and such as are of a questionable nature, but are furnished with many which are in themselves unanswerable; and find increasing testimonies as we prosecute the path of inquiry of the same happy coincidence. Of this kind are the proofs of Scripture respecting the Godhead of the Holy Ghost. In our researches on this subject, we have already attained an eminence, from what has been done in the preceding sermons, which not only enables us to look back and behold the ground over which we have traversed, covered with very satisfying proofs of the truth of this doctrine; but the plain, which again opens to our view before us, appears filled with new testimonies to the same amount, inviting our inspection and examination. And by their importance the inducement is the more increased. For though the names, and titles, and attributes, by which (as we have seen) the blessed Spirit is known in Scripture, are certainly so many positive attestations to the Divinity of his person; yet, when we further behold those attributes brought into action, and in the various operations carried on in the world, both of providence and grace, we trace an uniform exertion of divine properties, exercised by the Holy Ghost; these form another class of evidences, if possible, still more decisive; and are, what the apostle calls, "the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world," manifested by their effects, and shadowing forth "his eternal power and Godhead." It is to the view of these operations of the blessed Spirit, in the general economy of the divine dispensations, as to so many additional proofs of the Godhead of his person, that your present attention is to be directed.
Preparatory, however, to the exhibition intended, that the evidence arising therefrom may be strengthened, I would desire to notice a circumstance of some weight in the argument, which results from the evident inattention of the sacred writers, to any priority of order, when using together the names of the several persons of the Godhead, by which they are known in Scripture. This observation is certainly of no inconsiderable consequence to the subject before us. For if our blessed Lord and the Holy Ghost possessed not a community with the Father in the essence of Godhead, how comes it to pass that they should be so often mentioned as such in the same form? It would be perfectly unaccountable, even in a single instance, much less upon many occasions, that either of them should be classed in equal terms with him, or named together, without some qualifying precedence being always preserved, to indicate the vast distinction. But the sacred writers have observed no such thing. In the silence of Scripture, therefore, upon this subject; nay, from the invariable method adopted of mentioning them together, by the names under which they are revealed to us, and without respect of person, what possible inference can be drawn from it, but that there is no inequality? It plainly appears from hence, that the inspired penmen studied no order in the nomination of the sacred Three, and from their evident inattention to it, it should seem to be but a just and fair conclusion, that none exists. A few passages from Scripture will serve to explain this matter more fully, and set it in a clear light.
The apostle Paul concludes his second Epistle to the Corinthians, in these words: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all, Amen." This text hath been already noticed under another branch of our subject, in proof of the personality of the Holy Ghost; and the reasoning there advanced will not be found altogether inapplicable to the present argument, (See Sermon III). But in addition to what was then said, it may now be observed, that if there had been any superiority supposed by the apostle existing in the Father to the person of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost, it is a circumstance which must appear wonderfully unaccountable, that he should not only class them together, without the smallest intimation of any inequality or difference, but even give a precedence to Christ, in the order of nomination; and from the whole form of words, which he hath adopted, leave every reader impressed with a full assurance, that the grace of Christ, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, are of equal importance with the love of God.
So again, in one of his epistles to the Thessalonians, the same inattention to any priority is observable. "Now God himself, and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you," (1 Thess. 3:11). Here the foregoing order is inverted. The Holy Ghost has precedence, and Christ is last named. I venture to conclude, that the Holy Ghost is meant by him, whom the apostle calls God himself; for the conjunction kai, which is used copulative, doth as fully specify a distinction between God himself, and our Father, as between our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. And I am the more justified in this conclusion from a similar order of expression, observable in the same apostle's writings, in a passage of his second epistle to the Thessalonians, where he says, "the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ," (2 Thess. 3:5). It will hardly be disputed, I believe, that the Lord, whom the apostle prays might direct their hearts, is the Holy Ghost; not only because he is particularly distinguished from God the Father, into whose love he is to direct them; and from the person of Christ, the patient waiting for of whom he desires; but also because the very grace prayed for is among the peculiar gifts and operations of the blessed Spirit. "The love of God (the same apostle elsewhere taught) is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost," (Rom. 5:5).
The same argument in proof of the equality of persons in the sacred Three, from the inattention to any order in precedence, may be taken from another passage in St. Paul's epistle to the Colossians; where, speaking of the gospel dispensation, he calls it, "the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ," (Col. 2:2). I must here again insist, that the first person, mentioned under the appellation of God, is the Holy Ghost; for the conjunction (as in the former instance) which is made use of, to specify a distinction between the first and second person named, is the same which is used to separate the second from the third; and of consequence, if any conclusion were attempted to be made, that God and the Father, in this verse, were intended to express but one and the same person; it must follow, that the whole three persons mentioned would mean no other; which, if it proves anything, will prove more than is intended. In this sense also, the apostle's meaning will be rather confused and unintelligible. He is speaking of the gospel covenant, as the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ: and unquestionably the sacred acts, wrought by each in the great scheme of human redemption, become eminently so. But, under the acceptation that the apostle had no such meaning, the mystery would be done away.
I shall not enlarge on this argument, (see additional texts—1 Cor. 12:46; Eph. 5:5; 2 Thess. 2:16; Gal. 1:1). The texts, which I have produced from Scripture, are sufficient to show the evident disregard of the sacred writers, to any priority of order, in the nomination of the persons in the Godhead. And as far as any testimony, of an indirect nature is valid to the purpose, it becomes no inconsiderable one, in my apprehension, to our present argument.
But though the assurance we gather from hence, in support of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, cannot but be satisfactory, when viewed in connection with other testimonies of an higher nature; yet, no doubt, the grand evidence is that which arises from direct and positive proof. It certainly would be wrong, while professedly seeking for every information relative to our subject, which might contribute to the end in view, to omit any circumstance, however small and inconsiderable it might appear in itself, when compared with others; but let it not be supposed, that the stress of the argument is intended to be placed upon any such kind of negative proofs. We are in possession of too many of a direct nature to render this necessary. And the instances which are at hand to be produced of this sort, so fully and unequivocally stamp the certainty of the blessed Spirit's divinity, that they cannot fail of carrying the most absolute conviction with them, to the breast of all candid and impartial persons. For when we behold, in the works affected by his immediate ministry, every attribute called into action, and every property by which Godhead can be defined or illustrated, there can be no reason for hesitation in ascribing unto him "the honor due unto His name."
It hath been already observed, that the footsteps of this august Being are discernible from the very commencement of things. And as we traced, under every department of his peculiar ministry in the early ages of mankind, the traits which distinguished his character; so in those operations which belong to him, in common with the Father, and the Son, we may discover the same marks of his presence, under every dispensation of the Divine will, and in all the periods of the world, both in the works of providence and grace.
If we begin with that instance of it, which in point of order claims our first attention, the work of creation, we shall discover immediate proofs of the Holy Ghost's agency, and, of consequence, the most unquestionable testimony will result therefrom to the Godhead of his person.
As all the operations of nature are said to be the acts of the Father, and the Son; so are they as fully ascribed to the Holy Ghost. We read that "in, the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," (Gen. 1:1): that "God made the world and all things therein," (Acts 17:24): which, without doubt, is said in immediate reference to the Father. I think it unnecessary to quote any more passages of Scripture which are express to this doctrine. The Book of God is full of it, and it is a truth which remains unquestionable. But the same operations are from the same authority, equally imputed to that Word, "which was in the beginning with God and was God:" for it is as expressly said, that "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made," (John 1:13).
Neither is it expedient to enumerate the numberless parts of the sacred oracles which are as direct to the same purport. And yet no less, at the same time, is it said in a positive application to the Holy Ghost, that "by the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath (the Spirit in the original) of His mouth," (Ps. 33:6). "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens," (Job 26:13). These, then, are so many palpable and decided evidences, that the work of creation occupied the joint agency of the blessed Three. And while in the same language, and from the same authority of inspiration, we demand, "Have we not all one Father, hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10), the certainty of this unquestionable truth establishes the assurance of the divine unity in the Godhead: no less at the same time do those Scriptures (with many others to the same amount, which, had it been necessary, might have been quoted) as plainly teach us, that there is a mysterious existence of three persons in the one indivisible essence of Godhead. So obvious is this first principle of religion that it is written in the very title-page of the Bible, and in characters so legible, that "he who runs may read."
Such a testimony, when we consider that it is taken from the great source of all truth, where there can be no possibility of error or delusion, is of itself sufficient in confirmation, both of the concurrence of the Holy Ghost in the work of creation, and of the Godhead of his person. But we may proceed yet further in the argument, and, from some peculiar traces of his agency, infer the same doctrine in still additional characters.
It is an observation upon this point well worth regarding, that the Godhead, when revealed to us under the character of the Creator, is frequently spoken of in the plural number. "Let us make man in Our image after Our likeness," (Gen. 1:26). "The man is become as one of us," (Gen. 3:22): which is certainly a very remarkable phraseology, and not to be accounted for but upon the presumption, that there is a plurality of persons subsisting in the Godhead, as before observed.
Some other reasons have been assigned, but by no means any that are in the least satisfactory. It has been said, that the form adopted of a plural number to express the Godhead by, is in accommodation to the custom of earthly princes, who are used to speak in the same manner. But what an absurd and childish idea is this! and what a wretched subterfuge to get rid of a difficulty! As if the language of the infinite Jehovah should be framed to the standard of human forms, and God should condescend to borrow modes of expression from his creatures! Another equally futile reason has been given, on the supposition, (which the Jews took up with, in order to invalidate our blessed Lord's claim to the divine Unity which he asserted had with his Father), that when God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," he addressed himself to the angels. A sentiment this, which is not only in opposition to Scripture, but is contrary to all common sense and reason! "Who hath known (saith the apostle) the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?" (Rom. 11:34). And no man, surely, ever maintained for a moment so preposterous an opinion, as to imagine that he was the joint production of God and the angels; or that he was made in their likeness! Had the objectors read the Scriptures with due attention, they might have known, that similar phrases are made use of, respecting the Godhead, in other places of the sacred Word, and upon other occasions. For example, in the time of building the Tower of Babel,'" the Lord said, Let us go down," (Gen. 11:67). And again, in the vision which the prophet Isaiah saw of the divine glory, when he heard the voice of the Lord; the words he heard were, "Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us," (Isa. 6:8). And in like manner the prophet Zechariah, in describing the Man whose name is the Branch, as the Priest of the temple, uses the same remarkable phrase: "He shall be a Priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both," (Zech. 6:12-13). All these would be the grossest solecisms indeed, if understood of one being, without an allusion to this plurality of character. From these considerations, in addition to what hath been already observed upon this subject, in the preceding sermon, (that the name of God in the plural number, is frequently joined to other words in the singular), there seems to arise a very striking proof, that there is a plurality of persons existing in the unity of Godhead, which as it serves to illustrate more fully this prime article of religion, so does it become a very satisfactory evidence to the point before us, of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost.
I must not omit another argument in proof of the agency of the blessed Spirit, in the works of creation; because it is derived from his more immediate operations on our nature: I mean, respecting his regeneration of the heart. Under this consideration there are strong leading points to show that he, who is so peculiarly interested in accomplishing the second creation, must he supposed to have been as intimately employed in the first. The analogy of the operations, and both being the sole work of God, becomes a very convincing evidence that they can only proceed from one and the same Almighty power.
It is said, that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul," (Gen. 2:7). There is a striking opposition between the terms made use of, the "dust of the ground," and the "breath of life," (or as the word might have been, and is translated in other places of Scripture, the Spirit of life); thereby intimating, as expressly as possible, the union of two principles diametrically opposite in their nature and effects to each other, to constitute the formation of the human body. By one of which man is connected with earth, by the other related to heaven; and while his immortal part links him in the chain of existence with angels, his origin from dust compels him to "say to corruption, Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister," (Job 17:14). This principle of animation, given to the dust of the ground, and by which man becomes a living soul, is not only ascribed to the immediate agency of the Spirit of life, the Holy Ghost, but agreeably to the analogy of Scripture, is said to be his peculiar operation. For, in allusion to the first creation of man, Job says, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life," (Job 33:4); so in the second, or spiritual birth, the great work is by Christ himself, declared to result from the same divine agent. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing," (John 6:63). And hence the apostle Paul, speaking of the new birth in the soul of man, ascribes the whole work of regeneration to him, from whom man first derived existence. "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins," (Eph. 2:1). "If the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," (Rom. 8:11). This view of the Holy Ghost, and his operations upon mankind, exercised in the first creation, and in the renovation of the human soul by his grace in the second, carries with it a beautiful analogy, and becomes peculiarly illustrative of the divinity of his person.1
From such proofs of the agency of the Holy Ghost, as are displayed in the works of creation, if we pass on to the view of his omnipotency in the acts of preservation, we shall find similar instances in testimony of his Godhead, from the exercise of his unremitted attention, in this divine character. The same sacred authority, which ascribes this distinguishing attribute both to the Father and the Son, is equally express in ascribing it also to the Holy Ghost. In that sublime hymn of praise, in which the Psalmist magnifies the wisdom of God in the works of creation; the destruction, as well as the preservation, of all the several orders of animated life, are referred to the immediate agency of the blessed Spirit. "When thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: when thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust: when thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth," (Ps. 104:29-30). And as the characters, which imply full and absolute Godhead, are without reserve considered as so many positive criteria, when applied to the Father and to the Son; it is obvious that the same distinctions and properties can have no other meaning when spoken of the Holy Ghost. The Father is said to have "life in himself," (John 5:26). The Son is said to be "the light and the life of men," (John 1:4). And in like manner we are taught of the Holy Ghost, that "the Spirit giveth life," (2 Cor. 3:6).
And as our present existence is thus derived from the joint operation of the divine agency of the blessed Three, so it is remarkable, that the eternal life of believers is, in the same manner, indiscriminately ascribed to each of the divine Persons. One apostle refers it to the bounty of God the Father, and tells us that "eternal life is the gift of God," (Rom. 6:23). Another expressly assures us, that "it is in the Son," (1 John 5:11). Whilst in a third place of Scripture it is said, that "they who sow to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting;" (Gal. 6:8). As operations of this nature can only, in every instance, be the acts of an omnipotent Being, and are in themselves sufficient indications of Godhead, we are of necessity compelled to acknowledge the blessed Spirit under this character. He is clearly revealed to us in Scripture as the Almighty agent in common with the Father and the Son, as well in preservation as in creation: and by an undeniable consequence it must follow, as palpable as any one cause is proved by its effects, that the Holy Ghost is God. I think it perfectly unnecessary to add any further proofs of his Godhead from the works of creation and preservation. A service of this kind would be little better than holding a taper to the sun. Common apprehension is sufficient to the conviction, that none but Jehovah can be competent to the works of creation. And the Being who is alone competent to create, can be alone able to preserve. "In him we live, and move, and have our being." To bring forward any argument, therefore, in support of a point so very plain and allowed, would be superfluous. I pass on to other proofs of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, from the common operations of his ministry, in concurrence with the Divine Father and the Eternal Son.
In the dispensation of grace, no less than in the works of nature, we find the same manifestations of divinity distinguishing the blessed Spirit. Indeed it would be altogether unaccountable, if this analogy were not to be traced, pervading every part of the divine system. For when we discern such evident marks, that the formation and support of the universe, both natural and intellectual, have engaged the joint agency of all the sacred persons of the Godhead, this community of agency under one view of the divine government, indicates that there is the same through all. And perhaps the reasons (with humility be it spoken) why the sacred characters which constitute the Godhead are separately mentioned, is but to convey the information to the human mind, that there is a distinction of persons, by representing the peculiar acts of each in the economy of grace, that mankind may have a proper apprehension of the obligations due to each; while their joint operations in the same acts are intended to keep alive the remembrance of what, above all things, is never to be lost sight of, a thorough conviction of the unity of the divine character.
This doctrine will appear equally manifest, under every other particular of God's dispensations respecting mankind, as those which have been already reviewed.
Redemption, as an act of grace, is clearly the result of the divine love in the whole three persons of the Godhead: for it said by the prophet, that "the counsel of peace is between them," (Zech. 6:13). And, agreeably to this, all the parts of Scripture relating to it concur. The Psalmist, speaking of this blessing, ascribes it immediately to the gift of the Father. "He sent redemption unto his people; he hath commanded his covenant for ever, holy and reverend is his name," (Ps. 111:9). And the prophet Isaiah in like manner; "the Lord hath redeemed Jacob and glorified himself in Israel," (Isa. 44:23). But that the persons of the Son and the Holy Ghost are not excluded from a participation in this work of grace is evident from the whole tenor of the sacred word. All the inspired writers unite in this testimony, that "it is through the offering of the body of Jesus upon the cross, that he hath obtained eternal redemption for us," (Heb. 9:12): and expressly in allusion to the Holy Ghost we are assured, that the blood of Christ was offered "through the eternal Spirit," (Heb. 9:14).
But though this community of agency runs through every act, both of nature and grace, it is very remarkable, that at the same time that all the sacred persons of the Godhead are thus represented as engaged in the same operations, there are some instances in the divine economy, where the work is more immediately referred to the actions of one, rather than to those of the other; which though not intended to imply any exclusion of the whole, yet seem to indicate a more peculiar agency.
The act of creation (for example) is, in an eminent manner, referred to the immediate operation of the Almighty Father. It is said in Scripture to be his work. And if we are taught to look up to Him in any one character, more particularly than in another, it is in that of our Creator. But, at the same time, many parts in the word of God (as you have seen) are as express to instruct us, that this view of the Father is by no means in exclusion, either of the person of the Eternal Word, or of the blessed Spirit; for both are represented as joint agents with him in all those sovereign acts of omnipotence, and equally participate in the same operations of Godhead.
Similar to this is the mystery of our redemption. The immediate cause of this divine love is peculiarly ascribed to the person of Christ. It is he, we are taught, "who hath made our peace through the blood of his cross," (Cols. 1:20): "and in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins," (Eph. 1:7). But neither can this be understood but in a connection with God the Father and the Holy Ghost; because we are told from the same unquestionable authority, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," (2 Cor. 5:19): and it is the Father who assumes that distinguishing attribute proclaimed by the prophet, "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour," (Isa. 43:11). While we are no less clearly taught, that Christ offered himself through the Eternal Spirit, (Heb. 9:14), by whom believers "are sealed unto the day of redemption," (Eph. 5:30).
In like manner, though the whole work of sanctification is the peculiar agency of the Holy Ghost, yet not so peculiarly his as to belong not to the operations both of the Father and of the Son; for Scripture in one place declares, that believers "are sanctified by God the Father," (Jude 1); and in another, that it is "Jesus who sanctifieth the people with his own blood," (Heb. 13:12); and that he is made of God unto us, "wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," (1 Cor. 1:30).
But what is the plain doctrine to be deduced from these different views of the divine character, but that which hath been already stated? Does it not appear to be the evident intention of God, in such revelations of himself, to teach us (as I before remarked) in the plainest terms our faculties are at present capable of receiving, that there is a distinction of persons in the Godhead; and yet that is but one and the same act, from one and the same will and power: for though they are three distinct persons, yet, by an ineffable and mysterious unity of essence, they are but one God. The pride of human intellect may revolt at this, because inexplicable to its perfect apprehension, but the fact will not be less true on that account. Such acts of Godhead, as are fully and circumstantially ascribed in Scripture to each of the sacred persons of the Godhead, are inadmissible but upon this conclusion; and as both reason and revelation concur, in fixing the basis of all religion in the unity of the divine essence, it must follow, that this involves in it the doctrine of a plurality of persons in the divine character. This great truth, which is the leading principle of our holy faith, respecting the first object of it, serves as a guide to our examination of every other perfection among the dispensations of grace in the Godhead.
Justification is another of God's peculiar operations in the work of redemption; for it is plain that none but God can be competent to its performance. The very deed implies the fullest and most absolute Godhead in the agent. It is an absurdity too palpable to deserve a name, to suppose a possibility of being justified by a creature. This proof of divinity also is indifferently mentioned in Scripture among the operations of the sacred Three. The apostle Paul, speaking of the Divine Father, says, "it is God that justifieth," (Rom. 8:33), and "He justifieth the ungodly," (Rom. 4:5). "It is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith," (Rom. 3:30). But the same Scriptures declare, that "Christ was raised for our justification," (Rom. 4:25); and that we are "justified by his blood," (Rom. 5:9). And no less, while ascribing this divine property to Christ, "who as God's righteous servant will justify many," (Isa. 53:11); the Holy Ghost is included in the same efficient agency, when it is said that "we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God," (1 Cor. 6:11).
And to mention but one instance more, in proof of the same divinity of character being indifferently ascribed to all, the final act of Omnipotence, in the dispensations of grace towards mankind, in the resurrection of the dead, is express to this purpose. In reference to the Father we are instructed, that "he hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us, by his own power," (1 Cor. 6:14). While, in allusion to Christ, it is said, that "the hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth," (John 5:28). And of the Holy Ghost we are told, that "it is the Spirit that quickened'," (John 6:63); and "He shall quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelled' in us," (Rom. 8:11).
These operations, simply reviewed as so many acts of Godhead, (for I am at present considering them under this idea), are sufficient, I hope, in proof of the leading object of this discourse, to establish the certainty of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. But, indeed, this point is so inseparably blended with the testimonies which are in proof of the Godhead of the Almighty Father, and the Eternal Son, that the examination of the evidences for the one, necessarily connects with it the view of the evidences for the others, and mutually operates to the confirmation of the whole. Every part, according to the language of the apostle, tends "to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ," (Col. 2:2).
If, after exhibiting this "cloud of witnesses," our limits admitted, or it became necessary to add anything more, in confirmation of the truth of the doctrine, it would be, I conceive, no very difficult matter to contend for the Godhead of the blessed Spirit, on the ground that he is never mentioned in Scripture among the worshippers of God. It is certainly the property of intelligent creatures of every order to present homage to the Creator: and in proportion to the exalted rank any being holds in the scale of existence, so much the more eminently distinguished might it be expected that he would appear in the circle of those who adore the great Jehovah. It is extraordinary, therefore, upon the supposition that the Holy Ghost is a created being, that while the sacred writers are continually calling upon "everything that hath breath to praise the Lord," and the whole universe of the intellectual creation is described as offering ceaseless adorations unto him, that the blessed Spirit is not once mentioned as, joining in the chorus! There is surely somewhat worth regarding in this argument. I hope that no one will endeavor to evade it by the denial of the Holy Ghost's personality. The proofs of this doctrine, which have been recently reviewed in the former part of this work, are too palpable, I trust, to admit of the supposition. And therefore I cannot but conceive that the total silence of Scripture, respecting the blessed Spirit's worship of God, becomes no inconsiderable proof as a collateral testimony to the Godhead of his person.
Neither, indeed, is it sufficient to derive a negative kind of evidence from the silence of Scripture on this subject; we may proceed further in the argument, and prove that the Holy Ghost has himself received divine honors. The representation which the prophet Isaiah has given to that glorious manifestation of Godhead, which he beheld in a vision, when the seraphim veiled their faces, and cried one to another, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts! plainly testifies that the Holy Spirit was included. And that St. Paul entertained such sentiments respecting it hath been already shown, from his illustration of the prophet's words. But, in addition to this, it may also be observed, that the apostle himself did, in his practice, perform the same acts of adoration to the Holy Ghost, which appear to be countenanced by his writings. His appeal to the blessed Spirit as a witness, and the swearing by his name (when considered according to the tenor of the Jewish law in those particulars) are among the highest proofs of supreme adoration. "The worship of the Lord, and the swearing by his name," (Deut. 6:13), were among the divine honors connected together, and peculiarly appropriated to Jehovah. And the apostle evidently intended both, when upon a remarkable occasion, in proof of his ministerial integrity, he made a direct appeal to the Holy Ghost: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost," (Rom. 9:1). Nay, is it not a positive precept of Christ to this amount, when he said, "pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers in his harvest," (Luke 10:2). For who is the Lord of the spiritual harvest but the Holy Ghost? Was he not evidently manifested under this character, when in the college of apostles, in answer to their fastings and ministrations, he said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them?" (Acts 13:2). Can there be a more decisive evidence than this, that the Holy Ghost is the Lord of the harvest, in thus sending forth laborers into it? And can we require a precept from a higher authority than our Lord himself, to offer prayers to him under, this character? And shall we then need stronger and more convincing proofs of the Godhead of his person to whom prayer is commanded to be offered?
Add to all this, what is well to be considered, I mean the divine operations which the Holy Spirit performs in the heart of believers, which are effectual to "convince, them of, sin," and of righteousness, and of judgment; to "pour out a spirit of grace and supplication" upon them; in awakening a recollection of the sins of nature; to cause the eye "to look upon him whom they have pierced;" and the heart to "mourn bitterly, as one that mourneth for his firstborn:" that it is he, the blessed Spirit of truth, which is "to guide into all truth;" the Comforter of the Lord's people; the "helper of their infirmities;" by whom alone "the love of God is shed abroad in the heart;" who "sanctifies them wholly; seals them to the day of redemption;" and at the great restitution of all things, will be the cause of "quickening their mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in them;" who that duly contemplates these acts of the Holy Ghost, and more especially, if he feels their effects in his own heart, but must conclude that the tribute of humble prayer and adoration is justly due to such a Being? Can our souls be really conscious that we stand in need of such blessings, and shall they neither be implored, nor when received, acknowledged? Is it possible for the immortal seed, which no mortal can create or sustain, to grow up in the heart of man "as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground," and no prayer, no supplication be offered for the rain and the dew of heaven to fall upon it? Surely, when we come to our future state, and see who is now so unremittingly employed in such acts of beneficence, our souls will overflow with holy gratitude towards a Being, to whom we are so unspeakably indebted; and if the praise will be due then, is not both prayer and praise proper now? Oh! Eternal Spirit, how shall creatures, who depend so much upon thy saving grace and mercy, be silent upon the occasion? Might not, indeed, the very stones cry out, if we were to hold our peace? Come, thou holy Source of all devotion, for thou only canst inspire our hearts therewith, come and awaken up every faculty of our souls, to implore thy grace, and to speak thy praise. Enable us to feel somewhat of that ardor which the host above experience, who are employed in ceaseless adoration before the throne of God. And while they fill heaven with their grateful acclamations, let us proclaim thy mercies through the earth; "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power," (Rev. 4:11). "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever. Amen." (Rev. 7:12).
And now before we prosecute the subject further, and enter upon the more peculiar operations of the Holy Ghost's ministry under the gospel dispensation, suffer me to hope, that the evidences of the Godhead of his person have been completely satisfactory. They cannot indeed but prove so, where the mind is under the tutorage of divine grace. But where this is not the case, and reason will not bend to the instruction of revelation, the question will be perpetually occurring, in the skepticism of the Jewish ruler, "How can these things be?" And while men, neglecting the light of heaven, pursue the meteors raised by pride and vanity, the departure from the truth will be but the wider, until the vapor disappears, and they are left in total darkness. In what an awful strain of the most severe and indignant irony, does the Lord, by the prophet, address such characters! "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow," (Isa. 50:11). But for the true believer, who to the outward evidence of the divine word, hath that inward testimony, in "the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost;" this corroboration of proof, in an act which none but the Divinity himself could accomplish, becomes an infallible assurance to him of the Godhead of the blessed Spirit. Go on, humble soul, under the same gracious instructor, who "will teach thee more of his ways, and thou shalt walk in his paths," (Isa. 2:3). Wait upon him continually for the bread which is handed to thee in secret, till, in the strength of that spiritual food, thou findest somewhat of the prophet's animation, which comforted and supported him in his forty days journey to the mount of God. And though the highway is so generally unoccupied, and travelers seek their path through byways; yet the time is hastening "when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob," (Isa. 2:2). And oh! what inconceivable joy will pour in upon the soul in that day, when it shall be said, "Lo! this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation," (Isa. 25:9).
1 It is no small argument in addition to these observations, that the very term regeneration expresses, in its original, the compound of two words, which imply the same doctrine, the nearest literal translation of which is again created. And as in the New Testament this work is invariably ascribed to the sole operation of the Holy Ghost, nothing can be more decisive in proof that the creating again presupposes, that it is the same Being who created before; for otherwise the term is improper. And this alone is sufficient to substantiate the fact itself that the creation of man is among the operations of the Holy Ghost. Return to reading.
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