Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

66

"their remembrance, whatever he had said to "them" so that in all their discourses for the instruction of mankind, "it was not so much they "who spake, as the Spirit of the Father that spoke in them."3 Nor can we doubt, but he afforded them equal assistance, at least in what they wrote for the use of all future ages. The same Spirit was also their comforter under every suffering; and lastly, bore witness to the truth of their doctrine, and our faith, by a multitude of "signs "and wonders, and supernatural gifts:"4 by which means, and the ministry of their successors, whom likewise "the Holy Ghost made overseers "over Christ's flock," the light of his Gospel hath filled the world, and now shines upon us.

66

Nor is it outwardly alone, that he reveals and confirms to us divine truths; but as the blessed Jesus promised, that "he should dwell in his disciples, and abide with them for ever;" so, by his inward operations, the credibility of which I shall, God willing, prove to you in its proper place, he opens our hearts to receive the word of God, influences our affections to delight in it, and excites our wills to act conformably to it: for which reasons, good persons are said to "be led by the "Spirit ;" and all Christian graces to be "the "fruits of the Spirit."9 With the wicked he strives, till they obstinately harden themselves, and then forsakes them. But those who yield to his motions, he "renews," and "strengthens "with might in the inner man ;"3 helps their infirmities, and both directs and animates their prayers; thus making, as it were, intercession 4 within them. By this one Spirit, being in all Christians, they are united into one body," and

I

(2) John xiv. 26,
(5) Acts xx. 28.
(8) Rom. viii. 14.
(2) Tit. iii. 5.

(3) Matt. x. 20.
(6) John xiv. 16.
(9) Gal. v. 22.
(3) Eph. iii. 16.
(5) Eph. iv. 4.

(4) Heb. ii. 4.
(7) Acts xvi. 14.
(1) Gen. vi. 3..
(4) Rom.viii. 20, 27.

19

made to love each other. "By the Holy Ghost "(also) the love of God is shed abroad in our "hearts,"" teaching us to look upon him, not as an austere master, but a kind parent; or, in the language of St. Paul, to "cry Abba, Father.”7 And thus the "Spirit beareth witness with our "spirit," joins with our consciences to complete the evidence, "that we are the sons of God:"8 from whence arises that "joy in the Holy Ghost," which different persons have in very different degrees: and, therefore, no one should despond, because he feels but little, or at times, perhaps, nothing of it, provided he truly honours and serves God. But to some persons, on some occasions, the heavenly comforter vouchsafes, both strong assurances of their good state: "hereby know we, "that God abideth in us, by the Spirit which he "hath given us ;" and such lively consolations from it, as amount to a pledge and foretaste of happiness to come. Accordingly, they are said to be sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, which "is the earnest of their inheritance."

992

3

But to prevent wicked persons of enthusiastic tempers from mistaking, as they often have done, their own groundless confidence for the inward testimony of the divine Spirit, they should be carefully reminded, that "by our fruits we are "known," and must know ourselves; that "the "fruit of the Spirit is in all righteousness and "truth," and only "good men are full of the "Holy Ghost." "For, into a malicious soul he "will not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. The holy Spirit of discipline "will flee deceit; and remove from thoughts that "are without understanding; and will not abide, "when unrighteousness cometh in.”7

66

(6) Rom. v. 5. (8) Rom. viii. 16. (2) Eph. i. 13, 14, (5) Eph. v. 9.

(7) Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iv. 6.

(9) Rom. xiv. 17. (3) Matt. vii. 16. (6) Acts xi. 24.

(1) 1 John iii. 24.
(4) 1 John ii, 3.
(7) Wisdom i. 4, 5.

III. The next thing proposed was, to speak of the duties owing to the Holy Ghost; which, besides the general one of honouring him suitably to his nature, as God, are, in particular, to be baptized in his name, as I have already mentioned; to pray for his graces; for God "giveth grace unto

the humble," and "will give his holy Spirit to "them that ask him;" to be heartily thankful for all his good motions, and conscientiously to obey them in every instance. By this last, I do not mean that we should "believe every Spirit ;" follow every strong imagination of our own, or pretence of light from above in others: but adhere steadily to that rule of life, which the Holy Ghost hath directed the writers of Scripture to teach us, and inwardly prompts and disposes us to observe. For other inspiration than this being now become unnecessary, we have no reason to expect, but much reason to distrust it. But, especially, if we be urged, under colour of such authority, to break any one standing precept of the Gospel, or add to, or take away from, any single Article of our Creed, "though an angel from heaven" were to require it, we are not to yield, but keep close to "the "faith and holy commandment, which were once "delivered to the saints," and shall never be altered. These, then, are our duties to the ever-blessed Spirit. There are, likewise, mentioned in Scripture,

4.

IV. Sins against him. And one of these, not all, as melancholy persons are apt to imagine, but one alone, is said, by our Saviour, to be unpardonable: "which is blasphemy against the Holy "Ghost." Now that means only, speaking reproachful words, deliberately and maliciously, against the miracles done by the power of the Holy Ghost, or the supernatural gifts proceeding from

(8) James iv. 6.
(2) Gal. i. 8.
(4) Matt. xii. 31.

2

(9) Luke xi. 13. (3) 2 Pet. ii. 21. Mark iii. 28, 29.

[ocr errors]

(1) 1 John iv. 1. Jude verse 3. Luke xii. 10.

him. And the only persons to whom Christ declared that this should not be forgiven, were those who had the testimony of their own senses for the reality of these miracles and gifts; and, notwithstanding the fullest evidence of their coming from the Spirit of God, obstinately persisted in reviling them, and even ascribed them to the Devil. Now there is a plain reason why this sin, under these circumstances, must be unpardonable. The persons guilty of it, had stood out against all the means which heaven had provided for the conviction and conversion of mankind; none more powerful remained to bring them to repentance; and, as they could not be forgiven without repenting, there was plainly no way left for their recovery.

But, then, it is equally plain, that persons who never were witnesses to any such miraculous powers, but live, as we do, many ages after they are ceased, cannot, in this respect, sin to the same degree of guilt, since it is not against the same degree of evidence; and that as they, who were guilty of it originally, were unbelievers in Christ, so, indeed, no believer in him, continuing such, can possibly design, whilst his thoughts and words are in his own command, to speak evil of the Holy Ghost, or his mighty works. Nor, therefore, can he come under the condemnation of those, whom the Epistle to the Hebrews describes, as "wilfully "doing despite to the Spirit of Grace;" and of whom it pronounces, that "there remains for them "no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful exper"tation of judgment."5 Believers may, indeed, rashly and thoughtlessly use prophane words concerning the Holy Ghost; but these, though undoubtedly great offences, and too likely to make way for greater still, are very far from the unpardonable sin. And as for what some good per

(5) Heb. x. 26—29.

sons are often terrified about the wicked imaginations that often come into their minds, and expressions that come out of their mouths, at times, almost whether they will or not; in proportion as they are involuntary, they are not criminal in them, be they in their own nature ever so bad. When, therefore, poor scrupulous souls affright themselves about such things as these-or when they who have not sinned at all against the Spirit, otherwise than as every ill action is a sin against him; or have sinned in a quite different manner from the Jews in the Gospel, and heartily repented of their sin; when they apprehend, that notwithstanding this, they cannot be pardoned-they entirely mistake their own case, either through ignorance, or false opinion infused into them-or excessive tenderness of mind-or, indeed, more commonly by reason of some bodily disorder, though, perhaps, unperceived by themselves, which depresses their spirits, and clouds their understandings, and requires the help of medicine.

Another sin against the Holy Ghost, mentioned in Scripture, is, "lying to him ;"6 which means there, asserting falsehoods, being conscious that they were such, to persons inspired by him, with the knowledge of men's hearts, as did Ananias and Sapphira. But the offences which we are in danger of committing against him, are-resisting7 and quenching his good motions and influences, and grieving him by corrupt communication, evil thoughts, or unholy actions. These things, therefore, let us diligently avoid; or, if we have fallen into them, sincerely repent of them; the opposite duties let us conscientiously practice, and stedfastly persevere in them; for so shall we com"mend ourselves to God, and to the Spirit of his grace; who is able to build us up, and give us (6) Acts v. 3.

66

(8) 1 Thess. v. 19.

66

(7) Acts vii. 51.
(9) Eph. iv. 29, 30.

G

« VorigeDoorgaan »