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they are exalted above all other persons in this world. And this will the more evidently appear, when we shall consider those especial operations, acts, and effects whereby consolation is administered unto them. That the life of man is the subject of innumerable troubles is made evident and uncontrollable by catholic experience. That man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,' has been the constant acknowledgment of all that have been wise in all ages. And those who have designed to drown the sense of them in security and sensuality of life, have been ever looked on as greatly exorbitant from the principles of nature and dictates of reason, voluntarily degenerating into the condition of creatures brutish and irrational. Others who will not forego the privilege of their being, have always made it a principal inquiry, how or whence they might take and receive relief and comfort for their supportment against their unavoidable troubles, sorrows, and disconsolation. Yea, it is natural and necessary unto all men so to do. All men cannot but seek after rest and peace, not only out of choice, but instinct of nature, trouble and sorrow being diametrically contrary unto it in its being, and tending unto its dissolution. Wherefore, they all naturally seek for consolation. Hence the best and most useful part of the old philosophy consisted in the prescription of the ways and means of comforting and supporting the minds of men against things noxious and grievous to nature, with the sorrows which ensue thereon. And the topics they had found out unto this purpose, were not to be despised, where men are destitute of spiritual light and supernatural revelation. Neither did the wisdom or rea son of man ever arise unto any thing more useful in this world, than to discover any rational considerations that might allay the sorrows, or relieve the minds, of them that are disconsolate. For things that are really grievous unto the generality of mankind, do outweigh all the real satisfac tion which this life and world can afford. And to place either satisfaction or relief in the pursuit of sensual lusts, is brutish. But yet what did all the spring and well-heads of Tonal and philosophical consolation rise unto? what re
ent did their streams afford? The utmost they attainto, was but to confirm and make obstinate the minds ren, in a fancy, an opinion, or persuasion, contrary unto
what they felt and had experience of. For what they contended for, was but this, that the consideration of the common lot of mankind, the unavoidableness of grieving accidents, the shortness of human life, the true exercise of reason upon more noble objects, with others of the like nature, should satisfy men that the things which they endured were not evil or grievous. But what doth all this amount unto in comparison of this privilege of believers, of this provision made for them in all their disconsolations, by him in whom they do believe. This is a relief that never entered into the heart of man to think of or conceive. Nor can it be understood by any but those by whom it is enjoyed. For the world, as our Saviour testifies, neither knoweth this Spirit nor can receive him. And, therefore, what is spoken of him and this work of his, is looked on as a fancy or the shadow of a dream. And, although, the Sun of righteousness be risen in this matter, and shine on all that dwell in the land of Goshen, yet those that abide still in Egypt make use only of their lanterns. But those who are really partakers of this privilege, do know in some measure, what they do enjoy, although they are not able to comprehend it in its excellency, nor value it in a due manner: for how can the heart of man, or our poor, weak understandings, fully conceive this glorious mystery of sending the Holy Ghost to be our Comforter; only they receive it by faith, and have experience of it in its effects. There is, in my judgment, an unspeakable privilege of those who are believers antecedent unto their believing as they are elect; namely, that Christ died in their stead alone. But this is like the wells which Isaac's servant digged, that the Philistines strove about, as those which belonged unto them, which though fresh useful springs in themselves, caused them to be called Esek and Sitna. Mighty strivings there are to break down the inclosure of this privilege, and lay it common unto all the world, that is indeed waste and useless. For it is contended, that the Lord Christ died equally for all and every one of mankind, for believers and unbelievers, for those that are saved and those that are damned. And to this purpose many pretences are pleaded to shew how the most of them for whom Christ died, have no real benefit by his death, nor is any thing re
quired in them to evidence that they have an interest therein. But this privilege we now treat of, is like the well Rehoboth, Isaac kept it unto himself, and the Philistines strove not about it. None contend that the Spirit is a Comforter unto any but believers: therefore, is it by the world despised and reproached, because they have no interest in it, nor have the lest pretence to strive about it. Did believers, therefore, duly consider how they are advanced hereby through the love and care of Jesus Christ into an inexpressible dignity above the residue of mankind, they would more rejoice in it than in all that this world can supply them withal. But we must proceed.
It appears from what hath been discoursed, that this is not the first saving work of the Holy Spirit on the souls of men. Regeneration and habitual sanctification do always precede it. He comforteth none but those whom he hath before sanctified. Nor are any other but such capable of his consolations. There is nothing in them that can discern his acting, or value what he doth of this kind. And this is the true reason why the whole work of the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, wherein consists the accomplishment of the most glorious promise that ever Christ made to his church, and the greatest evidence of his continued care thereof, is so neglected, yea, despised amongst the generality of professed Christians. A great evidence of the apostatized state of Christianity. They can have no concern in any work of his but in its proper order. If men be not first sanctified by him, they can never be comforted by him. And they will themselves prefer in their troubles any natural reliefs, before the best and highest of his consolations. For, however they may be proposed unto them, however they may be instructed in the nature, ways, and means, of them, yet they belong not unto them; and why should they value that which is not theirs? The world cannot receive him. He worketh on the world for conviction, John xvi. 8. and on the elect for conversion; John iii. 8. But none can receive him as a Comforter, but believers. Therefore, is this whole work of the Holy Spirit little taken notice of by the most, and despised by many. Yet is it never the less glorious in itself, being fully declared in the Scripture, nor the less useful to the church,
being testified unto by the experience of them that truly believe.
That which remaineth for the full declaration of this office and work of the Holy Ghost, is the consideration of those acts of his which belong properly thereunto, and of those privileges whereof believers are made partakers thereby. And whereas many blessed mysteries of evangelical truth are contained herein, they would require much time and diligence in their explanation. But as to the most of them, according unto the measure of light and experience which I have attained, I have prevented myself the handling of them in this place. For I have spoken already unto most of them in two other discourses, the one concerning the perseverance of true believers, and the other of our communion with God, and of the Holy Spirit in particular. As, therefore, I shall be sparing in the repetition of what is already in them proposed unto public view, so it is not much that I shall add thereunto. Yet what is necessary unto our present design, must not be wholly omitted, especially seeing I find that farther light and evidence may be added unto our former endeavours in this kind.
Inhabitation of the Spirit, the first thing promised.
THE first thing which the Comforter is promised for unto believers, is, that he should dwell in them, which is their great fundamental privilege, and whereon all other do depend. This, therefore, must in the first place be inquired
The inhabitation of the Spirit in believers, is among those things which we ought, as to the nature or being of it, firmly to believe; but as to the manner of it cannot fully conceive. Nor can this be the least impeachment of its truth unto any who assent unto the gospel, wherein we have sundry things proposed as objects of our faith, which our reason cannot comprehend. We shall, therefore, assert no more in this matter, but what the Scripture directly and expressly goeth before us in. And where we have the express letter of the Scripture for our warrant, we are eternally safe, whilst we affix no sense thereunto that is absolutely repugnant unto reason, or contrary unto more plain testimonies in other places. Wherefore to make plain what we intend herein, the ensuing observations must be premised.
First, This personal inhabitation of the Holy Spirit in believers, is distinct and different from his essential omnipresence, whereby he is in all things. Omnipresence is essential; inhabitation is personal. Omnipresence is a necessary property of his nature, and so not of him as a distinct person in the trinity, but as God essentially, one and the same in being and substance with the Father and the Son. To be every where, to fill all things, to be present with them, or indistant from them, always equally existing in the power of an infinite being, is an inseparable property of the divine nature as such. But this inhabitation is personal, or what belongs unto him distinctly as the Holy Ghost. Besides it is voluntary, and that which might not have been, whence it is the subject of a free promise of God, and wholly depends on a free act of the will of the Holy Spirit himself.
Secondly, It is not a presence by virtue of a metonymical