« PreviousContinue »
“the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Nor can the pronunciation of the apostle's benediction save any man, who does not partake of the blessings pronounced in the inward experience of his own soul.
Finally, whilst we disregard the charge of bigotry, in refusing all religious intercourse with Anti-trinitarians, lest we should give a sanction to their heresy; let us protest against all attempts to injure them in their temporal interests. Every kindness is due to them, as men, when they need it; many of them, as good members of society, are entitled to civil respect and commendation: and by this conduct, we shall best silence the censures brought against our principles as intolerant; and prove that they enlarge the heart with the most diffusive philanthropy.
ESSA Y XIV.
On the Gifts and Influences of the Holy Spirit.
Our present subject has given occasion to a variety of dangerous or destructive mistakes. While some have advanced claims with respect to it, which seem at least to place them upon an equality with prophets, apostles, and inspired writers; others, (perceiving the absurdity or arrogance of such pretensions; deeming themselves wise, able, or good, by their native powers and exertions; and not being sufficiently conversant with the subject to discriminate between what is scriptural and what antiscriptural;) have argued, that we neither need, nor are warranted to expect, any divine or supernatural influences; that they were vouchsafed to the apostles and primitive christians exclusively; and that all, now spoken of the operations or assistance of the Spirit, is mere enthusiasm and delusion. These opposite extremes have also admitted of intermediate errors and variations. Some contend, that there is no discoverable distinction between divine influences and the actings of our minds; and do not clearly admit of an exception, even as to the different effects produced by these distinct causes: others suppose that they are immediately distinguishable by an inward, and a kind of instinctive, consciousness, like that which assured the prophets that they were divinely inspired : and thus, whilst they seem to honour the Spirit, and will attempt nothing, till, as they say, they are moved by him, they covertly advance a claim to infallibility and perfection in those favoured seasous, or impute all their mistakes and follies to this sacred Agent.-Nor is it uncommon for men to plead that they are influenced by the Holy Spirit, in order to establish other rules of faith and practice than the written word of God; to bring that, or some parts of it, into a measure of discredit; or even to substitute something wrought in them or by them, in the place of the righteousness and atoning blood of the Saviour, whom the Spirit is sent to “glorify” anong men. -In short, inuch enthusiasm and spiritual pride, and many fatal or disgraceful delusions have, on the one hand, arisen from misapprehensions of this subject; and, on the other, multitudes have taken occasion from these incidental evils, to treat the whole with profane contempt and derision.
But a careful attention to the Scriptures, and to the ends, for which the Holy Spirit was promised, may enable us properly to discriminate in this important concern; and to show in what sense, and for what purposes, we ought to expect, and depend on, the influences of the Spirit; and which of his gifts and operations were peculiar to the primitive times, or to extraordinary occasions. I shall therefore, at present offer some thoughts on the miraculous gifts and powers, imparted by the Holy Spirit ;-on those ordinary endowments, which uninspired men may reasonably expect to receive from him ;--on his common influences upon the minds of many unconverted persons ; and on the special nature of that sanctifying work, by which “the vessels of mercy are afore pre
pared unto glory.""
If we accurately mark the language of the Scriptures we shall find, that the Holy Spirit is spoken of, as the Author and Giver of all those miraculous and supernatural powers, with which any of the human race were ever endued.-Not only did
holy men of God speak as they were moved by " the Iloly Ghost;?” not only did apostles, evangelists, and primitive believers receive the Holy Ghost, enabling them to cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead, speak in languages before unknown, or interpret the discourses of others; but even Christ himself was “ anointed by the Holy “ Ghost,” to work his beneficent miracles. He cast out devils “ by the Spirit of God;4” who was given to Him“ without measure:5” and
through the Holy Ghost he gave commandments
a Rom. ix. 23. 2 Pet. i. 21. 3 Acts x. 38. 4 Matt. xii. 28. s John iij, 34.
“ to his apostles.”” Indeed the promises made to him in the Old Testament especially relate to this; and his very title of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, was derived from it. Now we cannot satisfactorily account for these expressions, or reconcile them with our Lord's conduct, in speaking and acting as in his own name, or by his own authority and power; unless we advert to the distinction between his divine and human nature, and his personal and mediatorial dignity; and remember, that, in respect to his divine nature, he is One with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, in the essence, perfections, and operations of the Godhead. We must therefore consider the Holy Spirit as the great Agent, according to the æconomy of the everlasting covenant, in the inspiration of the Scriptures; in the performance of all those miracles, by which the messengers of God authenticated their doctrine; and in the revelation of those future events, which, being interwoven with every part of the sacred volume, and receiving their accomplishment from age to age, confirm the divine original of the whole to every attentive and impartial enquirer.
Such discoveries of the truth and will of God had been made from the beginning: but they became more particular and copious, when Israel was brought out of Egypt, and “the law was given " by Moses." The prophets and other servants 1 Acts i. 2. ? Ps. xlv. 7. Is. xi. 2, 3. xlii. 1. lix. 21. lxi. 1.