« VorigeDoorgaan »
come short of maturity; as the enemies are not all presently under Christ's feet, but are by degrees subdued; so the Spirit is not presently conferred in fulness unto the members of Christ, but by measure and degrees, according to the voluntary influences of the head, and exigences of the members. So much of the Spirit of Grace and Truth as we have here, is but the earnest and handsel of a greater sum, the seed and first-fruits of a fuller harvest. Therefore the apostle mentions “a growing change from glory to glory by the Spirit of Godi.” We must not expect a fulness till the time of the restitution of all things, till that day of redemption and adoption, wherein the light, which is here but sown for the righteous, shall grow up into a full harvest of holiness and of glory.
But here ariseth a question out of the seeming contradiction of holy Scripture. It is manifest, that the Spirit of Christ was in the church, long before his ascension. The prophets spake by him “ The ancient Jews vexed him', John Baptist was even 'filled with the Spirit, to note a plentiful measure for the discharge of his office " ; and yet St. John saith, that “the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Christ was not yet glorified."" To this I answer, that the fathers were sanctified by the same Spirit of Christ with us : difference there is none in the substance, but only in the accidents and circumstances of effusion and manifestation ; as light in the sun, and light in a star, is, in itself, the same original light, but very much varied in the dispensation. It was the same truth which was preached by the prophets, and by Christ; but the apostle observes in it a difference; “Sundry times, and in sundry manners, hath God spoken by the prophets, but unto us by his Son;" that is, more plentifully, and more plainly unto us, than unto the fathers. Therefore though it be true, that. Abraham saw Christ's day,' as all the fathers did (though he haply, being the father of the faithful, more than others,) in which respect Eusebius P saith of them, that "they were Christians really, and in effect, though not in name:" yet it is true likewise, that“ many prophets and righteous men did desire to see and hear the things which the apostles saw and heard, but did not?," namely, in such plain and plentiful measures as the apostles did. They saw in glimpses and morning stars and prefigurations ; but these, the things themselves. They saw only the promises,' and those too but afar off" ;' these, the substance and gospel itself, near at hand, in their mouth, and before their eyes, and even amongst them. They by prophets who “testified beforehand;" these, by eyewitnesses, who declared “ the things which they had seen and heard !.” Therefore it is said, that " Christ was a Lamb slain from the beginning of the world,” and yet“ in the end of the world that he appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself u", to note that the fathers had the benefit, but not the perfection of the promises*; for the apostle every where makes perfection the work of the gospel.
8 Eph. i. 14. h 1 John iii. 9. Rom. viii. 23. i 2 Cor. iii. 18. k 1 Pet. i. 11. I Isai. lxiii. 10.
m Luke i. 15.
o Heb. i. 1. John xvi. 25. Ρ Χριστιανοί έργω ει και μη ονόμαζι. Εuscl. Ηist. lib. 1. cap. 5.
So then, after Christ's sitting on the right hand of power, the Holy Spirit was more completely sent, both in regard of manifestation and efficacy, than ever before. The difference is chiefly in three things :
First, In the manner of his mission. To the old church, in dreams and visions, in figures and latent ways: but to the evangelical churches, in power, evidence, and demonstration. Therefore it is called the “Spirit of revelation and knowledge,” which discovereth, and that unto principalities and powers by the church, the manifold and mysterious wisdom of God in Christ. Therefore the Spirit was sent in the latter days, in winds, and fire, and tongues, and earthquake; all which have in them a self-discovering property, which will not be hidden. Whereas, in the time of the prophets, God did not, in any such things, save only in a low and still voice,' reveal himself d.
Secondly, In the subjects, unto whom he was sent. Before, only upon the enclosed garden of the Jews did this wind blow; but now is the Spirit poured upon all flesh; and this heavenly dew falleth not upon the fleece, but upon the whole earth. And, therefore, our Saviour opposeth Jerusalem and the Spirit'. Every believer is of the Israel, of God;' every Christian, a 'temple of the Holy Ghost :' no people of the earth secluded, but “In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted ;" no place unclean, but every where pure hands may be
9 Matth. xiii. 17. Heb. xi. 13. s Rom. x. 8. Gal. iii.l. John i. 1. I John i. 2, 3, 4. 1 Acts i. 8, 22. x. 41. u Heb. ix. 26. 1 Heb. xi. 40. y 1 Cor. ii. 7. Ephes.iv. 13. Heb. vi. 1. z 1 Cor. ii. 4. 5. * Eph. i. 17. jii. 10
b Acts ii. 2, 3. c Acts iv. 31. di Kings xix. 11, 12. • Jocl ii. 28. f John iv. 21, 23. . Rom. ii. 29. Gal. vi. 15, 16.
Thirdly, In the measure of his grace. At first he was sent only in drops and dew, but after he was poured out in showers and abundance; and therefore (as I have before observed) the grace of the gospel is frequently expressed by the name of riches", to note not only the preciousness, but the plenty thereof in the church. And it is here worth our observation, that the Spirit, under the gospel, is compared to things of a spreading, multiplying, and operative nature.
First, To 'water ;' and that, not a little measure to sprinkle or bedew, but to baptize the faithful in', and that not in a font or vessel, which grows less and less, but in a springing or living river. Now water, besides its purging property, is first of a spreading nature : it hath no bounds nor limits to itself, as firm and solid bodies have, but receives its restraint by the vessel or continent which holds it: so the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened in himself, but only by the narrow hearts of men into which he comes. “Ye are not straitened,” saith the apostle, “in us,” that is, in that ministry of grace, and dispensation of the Spirit, which is committed to us, “ but in your own bowels," which are not in any proportion enlarged unto that abundance and fulness of heavenly grace, which in the gospel of salvation is offered unto you. Secondly, Spring water is a growing and a multiplying thing; which is the reason, why rivers, which rise from narrow fountains, have yet, by reason of a constant and regular supply, a great breadth in remote channels, because the'water lives : whereas, in pits and torrents, it groweth less and less so the graces of the Spirit are living and springing things'; the longer they continue, the larger they grow, like the waters of the sanctuary"; and the reason is, because they come from a fountain, which is all life.” Thirdly, As wáter multiplies in itself, so, by in
h Col. ii. 11. Phil. iji.3. 1 Cor. vi. 19. Acts x. 35. 1 Tim. ii. 8. k Ephes. i. 7. ii. 7. jii. 8. Col. i. 27. 1 Matth. iii. 11. Acts i. 5. vii. 39. o Ezek. Xxxvi. 25. John iv. 10. xiv. 6. Col. ii. 4.
i Tit. iii. 6.
sinuation and mollification, it hath a fructifying virtue in other things. Fruitful trees are planted by the waters' side :' so the Spirit, searching and mollifying the heart, maketh it fruitful in holy obedience P. Fourthly, Water is very strong in its own stream: we see what mighty engines it moveth, what huge vessels it rolleth like a ball, what walls and bulwarks it overthrows : so the Spirit of God is able to beat down all strong holds, which the wit of man, or the malice of Satan, can erect against the church. “The horses of Egypt are flesh, and not spirit," saith the Lord; “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit;” noting that that, which might and created power could not do, the Spirit of the Lord was able to effect. And this strength of water serves to carry it as high as its own spring and level: so the Spirit will never cease to raise the hearts of his people, till it carries them up to their fountain and spring-head in Heaven.
Secondly, The Spirit is compared to the rushing of a mighty wind.' The learned observe, that before Christ's time, God spake unto men in a soft still voice, which they called Bath Koll;' but after, in the time of the gospel, by a mighty wind : noting thereby both the abundance of his Spirit which he would pour out in the latter days ; and the strength thereof, as of a rushing wind. Though a man have walls of brass, and bars of iron upon his conscience, though he set up fortifications of fleshly reason, and the very gates of Hell to shut out the Spirit of grace; yet nothing is able to withstand the power of this mighty rushing wind.
“ Who art thou, O great mountain ? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain",” &c. No mountains, no difficulties can prevent the power of God's Spirit. He hath strength to pull down the strongest oppositions, and to enable the weakest condition unto the service which he will have done. Though there be mountains between Israel and their deliverance, yet the blind, and the lame, and the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child together, will he strengthen to climb over the precipices of the highest mountain '.
Thirdly, The Spirit is compared to · Fire,” noting likewise both the multiplying or diffusive property thereof, turning every thing into its own nature: and the mighty strength thereof, whereby it either cleanseth or consumeth any thing that it meets with. If thou art stubble, it will devour thee; if stone, it will brake ; if gold, it will purge thee. The hard heart it can melt, and the foul heart it can purify, Lay down thine heart under the Word, and yield it to the Spirit, who is, as it were, the artificer which doth manage the Word; he can frame it into a vessel of honour:' but if thou resist, and be stubborn against the Spirit in the Word, know that it is but a crackling of a leaf in the fire : if thou wilt not suffer it to purge thee, thou canst not binder it to torment thee. Nothing is more comfortable, nothing more consuming thaa fire; nothing more comfortable than the light, warmth, and witness of the Spirit; nothing more terrible than the conviction, condemnation, and bondage of the Spirit.
? Ezek. xi. 19, 20.
rZech. iv. 7.
* Jer, xxxi. 8.
Now this difference in the measure of the Spirit may be seen in two things. First, in a greater measure of knowledge; “They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” And “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea u.” Our Saviour told his disciples, that “All things which he had heard of his Father, he had made known unto them *.” And yet a little after he telleth them, that " Many other things he had to say unto them, which they could not bear, till the Spirit of truth came, who should guide them into all truth Y;" noting that the Spirit, when he came, should enlarge their hearts to a capacity of more heavenly wisdom, than they could comprehend before. observe before, how ignorant they were of many things, though they conversed with Christ in the flesh :-Philip, ignorant of the Father?; Thomas, of the way unto the Fathera; Peter, of the necessity of Christ's sufferings b; the two disciples, of his resurrection"; all of them, of the quality of his kingdom d. Thus before the sending of the Holy Ghost, the Lord did not require so plentiful knowledge unto salvation, as after ;-as in the valuations of money, that which was plenty two or three hundred years since, is
For we may
t Jer. xxxi. 34. 2 John xiv. 8. d Acts i. 6.
u Isai, xi. 9.
* John xy. 15.
y John xvi. 12, 13.
c Luke xxiv. 45.