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this, and other of this great author's writings, as do greatly commend them to the church of God, and will do so in after ages, however this corrupt and degenerate generation entertain them. They are not the crude, and hasty, and untimely abortions of a self-full, distempered spirit, much less the boilings over of inward corruption and rottenness put into a fermentation; but the mature, sedate, and seasonable issues of a rich magazine of learning, well digested with great exactness of judgment. There is in them a great light cast and reflected on, as well as derived from, the Holy Scriptures, those inexhaustible mines of light in sacred things. They are not filled with vain, impertinent jangling, nor with a noise of multiplied futilous distinctions, nor with novel and uncouth terms foreign to the things of God, as the manner of some writers is ad nauseam usque. But there is in them a happy and rare conjunction of firm solidity, enlightening clearness, and heart-searching spiritualness, evidencing themselves all along, and thereby approving and commending his writings to the judgment, conscience, spiritual taste, and experience, of all those who have any acquaintance with, and relish of, the gospel.
On these, and such like accounts, the writings of this great and learned man, as also his ordinary sermons, if any of them shall be published (as possibly some of them may), will be, while the world stands, an upbraiding and condemning of this generation, whose vitiated and ill-affected eyes could not bear so great a light set up and shining on a candlestick, and which did therefore endeavour to put it under a bushel.
These two Discourses, with those formerly published, make up all that Dr. Owen perfected or designed on this subject of the Spirit, as the reader may perceive in the account which himself hath given in his prefaces to some of the former pieces, published by himself in his lifetime. Not but that there are some other lucubra
tions of his on subjects nearly allied unto these, which possibly may be published hereafter; viz. One enti tled, 'The Evidences of the Faith of God's Elect;' and perhaps some others. What farther he might have had in his thoughts to do, is known to him whom he served so industriously and so faithfully in his spirit in the gospel while he was here on earth, and with whom he now enjoys the reward of all his labours, and all his sufferings. For certain it is concerning Dr. Owen, that as God gave him very transcendent abilities, so he did therewithal give him a boundless enlargedness of heart, and unsatiable desire to do service to Christ and his church: insomuch as he was thereby carried on, through great bodily weakness, languishing, and pains, besides manifold other trials and discouragements, to bring forth out of his treasury (like a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of heaven) many useful and excellent fruits of his studies, much beyond the expectation and hopes of those who saw how often and how long he was near unto the grave.
But while he was thus indefatigably and restlessly laying out for the service of Christ, in this and succeeding generations, those rich talents with which he was furnished, his Lord said unto him, 'Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' No man ever yet, but Jesus Christ, was able to finish all that was in his heart to do for God. On the removal of such accomplished and useful persons, I have sometimes relieved myself with this thought, that Christ lives in heaven still, and the blessed Spirit, from whom the head and heart of this chosen vessel were so richly replenished, liveth still. NATH. MATHER.
October 27, 1692.
HOLY SPIRIT AS A COMFORTER.
The Holy Ghost the Comforter of the church by way of office. How he is the church's Advocate. John xiv. 16. 1 John ii. 1, 2. John xvi. 8—11. opened. THAT which remains to complete our discourses concerning the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, is the office and work that he hath undertaken for the consolation of the church. And,
Three things are to be considered with respect unto this head of the grace of the gospel. I. That the Holy Spirit is the Comforter of the church by way of especial office. II. What is in that office, or wherein the discharge of it doth consist. III. What are the effects of it towards believers.
It must be granted, that there is some impropriety in that expression, by the way of office. An office is not simply, nor, it may be, properly spoken of a divine person, who is absolutely so and nothing else. But the like propriety is to be found in most of the expressions which we use concerning God, for who can speak of him aright, or as hẹ ought. Only we have a safe rule whereby to express our conceptions; even what he speaks of himself. And he hath taught us to learn the work of the Holy Ghost towards us in this matter, by ascribing unto him those things which belong unto an office among men.
Four things are required unto the constitution of an office. 1. An especial trust. 2. An especial mission or commission. 3. An especial name. 4. An especial work. All these are required unto an office properly so called; and where they are complied withal by a voluntary susception in the person designed thereunto, an office is completely constituted. And we must inquire how these things in a divine manner do concur in the work of the Holy Spirit as he is the Comforter of the church.
First, He is intrusted with this work, and of his own will hath taken it on himself. For when our Saviour was leaving of the world, and had a full prospect of all the evils, troubles, dejections, and disconsolations, which would befal his
disciples, and knew full well that if they were left unto themselves, they would faint and perish under them, he gives them assurance that the work of their consolation and supportment was left intrusted and committed unto the Holy Spirit, and that he would both take care about it, and perfect it accordingly.
The Lord Christ, when he left this world, was very far from laying aside his love unto and care of his disciples. He hath given us the highest assurance that he continueth for ever the same care, the same love and grace towards us, he had and exercised when he laid down his life for us. See Heb. iv. 14-16. vii. 27. But, inasmuch as there was a double work yet to be performed in our behalf, one towards God, and the other in ourselves, he hath taken a twofold way for the performance of it. That towards God he was to discharge immediately himself in his human nature: for other mediator between God and man, there neither is, nor can be, any. This he doth by his intercession. Hence, there was a necessity that as to his human nature, the 'heavens should receive him unto the time of the restitution of all things;' as Acts iii. 21. There was so, both with respect unto himself and us.
First, Three things with respect unto himself, made the exaltation of his human nature in heaven to be necessary. For,
1. It was to be a pledge and token of God's acceptation of him, and approbation of what he had done in the world; John xvi. 7, 8. For what could more declare or evidence the consent and delight of God in what he had done and suffered, than after he had been so ignominiously treated in the world, to receive him visibly, gloriously, and triumphantly into heaven. He was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,' and in the issue 'received up into glory;' 1 Tim. iii. 16. Herein God set the great seal of heaven unto his work of mediation, and the preaching of the gospel which ensued thereon. And a testimony hereunto, was that which filled his enemies with rage and madness; Acts vii. 55—57. His resurrection confirmed his doctrine with undeniable efficacy; but his assumption into heaven testified unto his person, with an astonishing glory.
2. It was necessary, with respect unto the human nature itself, that after all its labours and sufferings it might be
crowned with honour and glory. He was to suffer and enter into his glory; Luke xxiv. 26. Some dispute whether Christ in his human nature merited any thing for himself or no; but not to immix ourselves in the niceties of that inquiry, it is unquestionable that the highest glory was due to him upon his accomplishment of the work committed unto him in this world, which he therefore lays claim to accordingly; John xvii. 4, 5. It was so,
3. With respect unto the glorious administration of his kingdom: for as his kingdom is not of this world, so it is not only over this world, or the whole creation below; the angels of glory, those principalities and powers above, are subject unto him, and belong unto his dominion; Eph. i. 21. Phil. ii. 9, 10. Among them, attended with their ready service and obedience unto all his commands, doth he exercise the powers of his glorious kingdom. And they would but degrade him from his glory, without the least advantage unto themselves, who would have him forsake his high and glorious throne in heaven, to come and reign among them on the earth, unless they suppose themselves more meet attendants on his regal dignity than the angels themselves, who are mighty in strength and glory.
Secondly, The presence of the human nature of Christ in heaven, was necessary with respect unto us. The remainder of his work with God on our behalf, was to be carried on by intercession; Heb. vii. 26, 27. And whereas this intercession consisteth in the virtual representation of his oblation, or of himself as a lamb slain in sacrifice, it could not be done without his continual appearing in the presence of God; Heb. ix. 24.
The other part of the work of Christ respects the church or believers, as its immediate object. So, in particular, doth his comforting and supporting of them. This is that work which in a peculiar manner is committed and intrusted unto the Holy Spirit, after the departure of the human nature of Christ into heaven.
But two things are to be observed concerning it: 1. That, whereas this whole work consisteth in the communication of spiritual light, grace, and joy to the souls of believers, it was no less the immediate work of the Holy Ghost whilst the Lord Christ was upon the earth, than it is now