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on another occasion, when solicited to arbitrate in a case of civil right or property, what was his reply? “Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you? And then addressing the people he said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness.” The grand end of his doctrines was to purify the heart, and the instructions which flowed from his lips during his public ministry were always calculated to extirpate the seeds of evil that lurked there. And these are the principles on which his kingdom is founded. They were inculcated by his apostles ; and in their time, and before the Christian profession became corrupted, they generally prevailed among the professors of Christianity. But I now proceed to the subject of the present Lecture.
In laying before you a summary of the doctrine on which the kingdom of Christ is founded, our attention has hitherto been confined to what the Scriptures teach us concerning the mediation of the Son of God—that divine person who interposed in the behalf of a lost world, and who appeared upon earth to save his people from their sins. But the Gospel, or doctrine of the kingdom, introduces us to the knowledge of a third divine person, who concurs in the salvation of mankind. This is the Holy Spirit, which proceedeth from the Father, and is sent by the Son as his Spirit,-whose power is spoken of in exalted terms—towards whom the highest reverence is challenged—and who, in all the variety of his operations, is “one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Cor. xii. 11.
It is indeed a fundamental principle of divine revelation that there is only one living and true God, besides whom there is no other. Yet the Scriptures reveal a plurality in the one undivided Godhead or Deity, of which we have many intimations in the Old Testament; but it was reserved for the Gospel to give us the fullest information on this high and sublime subject, where we find that there are three distinct personal subsistents in the divine nature, viz. FATHER, Word (or Son), and Holy Spirit, The unity and distinction of the Divine Three is a mystery which infinitely transcends all our limited powers to comprehend : and consequently it becomes us to receive the subject in the meekness and simplicity of wisdom, without curiously prying into things which our faculties were not formed to explore, or without rashly imagining that the infinite Jehovah can say nothing of himself beyond what we can comprehend. One God and Father of all is known by the light of nature: the Son of God is made known by revelation, because the world which he had made stood in need of his interposition to redeem it; and the Holy Spirit is made known by the same revelation, because the benefits of this redemption are applied through his agency. Our knowledge in this way grows with our necessities : we learn how inadequate our faculties are to comprehend the divine nature, when we see such important discoveries superadded to the investigations of the most enlightened reason.
And we further learn that the measure of knowledge which the Father of spirits sees meet to communicate is not given us for the purpose of mere speculation, and to gratify curiosity, but is immediately connected with the grounds of our comfort and hope. The discoveries of revelation comprehend all that is necessary for us in our present circumstances, and we act wisely to be content with them. The mode in which the Son and the Spirit subsist, and the nature of their connexion with the Father, however much they have been the subject of human speculation, are nowhere explained in Scripture. But the offices of these divine persons, as it is a subject of infinite importance to us, are clearly revealed, with such hints only of their nature as may satisfy us that they are divinely qualified for them.
The important station which the Son of God sustains in the economy of redemption has been already evinced, as also the right which he acquired by his perfect obedience and suffering to dispense the blessings of his purchase. It is in the dispensation of these blessings that the office of the Holy Spirit more especially presents itself to our view. The Scriptures enable us to trace his operations in the church from the earliest times. We åre told that he, the Holy Ghost, “spake by the mouth of all his holy prophets, who prophesied, since the world began, of the sufferings of Christ, and of the glory that should follow.” To his agency, the miraculous conception of the Son of the Highest is ascribed, Luke i. 35. He descended upon Jesus at his baptism-and was given to him without measure during his public ministry; and when he rose from the dead, and sat down at the Father's right hand in heaven, the Holy Spirit was manifested in the variety and fulness of those gifts which distinguished the first preachers of the Gospel. But all these branches of the office of the Spirit, so necessary for confirming the truth, and for diffusing the knowledge of Christ, were only the pledges of those ordinary influences, by which the same divine person continues in all ages to act his part in the economy of grace, or promoting the kingdom of Christ in the world.
The necessity of divine influence, or of the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit, in order to apply the blessings of Christ's redemption, is either expressed or implied in every page of the New Testament. We there read that the carnal or unrenewed mind is enmity against God, and cannot be subject to his laws : that “ the natural (or animal) man, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”—that“ they are foolishness unto him," and are only discerned through the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit: that “no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Our Lord assured Nicodemus that “ except a man be regenerated, or born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;" and again, he said to the Jews, “No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him;" and this drawing he explains to mean divine teaching, or the illumination of the mind through the operation of the Holy Spirit, whereby sinners are enabled to believe on Christ to the salvation of the soul; and thus they are created anew, quickened from a death in trespasses and sins, drawn to Christ, and made willing in a day of divine power.
It is a great mistake, which some persons have run into on the subject of divine influence, or the operations of the Holy Spirit, to consider them as superseding the means which God ha
appointed for bringing men to the knowledge of the truth. The first saving effect of the Holy Spirit's influence upon the mind of a sinner consists in producing faith—which, we are told, is the gift of God, and comes through divine illumination, but even this “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God:” for “ how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ?” It is very true that the Holy Spirit's influences are above and beyond all human tuition, even of revelation itself; for they alone can give efficiency to human instruction and crown with success the outward means, which are of divine appointment: Paul may plant the seed of the kingdom, and Apollos may water it, but it is God that giveth the increase. Accordingly we find Christ himself owning the Sovereignty of God, in communicating the knowledge of the saving truth to whom he pleases : “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” were his words, “ because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight,” Matt. xi. 25, 26.*
* The learned Dr. Mosheim appears to me to overlook this subject altogether, when accounting for the rapid spread of the Gospel, in the early ages of Christianity :-I mean the ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit in converting men to the faith. Thus he writes :
“ It is impossible to account for the astonishingly rapid propagation of the Christian religion amongst so many different nations, part of them of a savage and ferocious character, and part entirely devoted to licentiousness and sloth, otherwise than by receiving with implicit credit the accounts which are given us, by profane as well as sacred writers, of the miraculous gifts by which the apostles were distinguished ; namely, that they possessed a faculty of persuasion more than human ; that they predicted future events, laid open the secrets of men's hearts, held the operations of nature in control, enacted wonders beyond the reach of any human power, and lastly, were capable of transmitting these supernatural endowments to any on whom they thought proper to confer them, simply by the imposition of their hands on them, accompanied with prayer. Let these things be considered for a moment as false, and we shall at once find how utterly out of our power it is to assign any rational cause that could have prevailed on so large a portion of mankind, within so short a period, to turn their backs on the allurements of pleasure—to forsake the religion of their ancestors, and voluntarily to embrace Christianity, at the hazard of life, fortunes, honours, and every thing else that could be dear to them." Commentaries, &c., vol. i. p. 152.
This view of the matter appears to me to be liable to more objections than one. For instance, it entirely omits the ordinary influence of the Holy Spirit, in the way of illumination, conviction, regeneration, &c., to which we find the apostles invariably attributing the success of their ministry at the beginning : Acts xi. 21, ch. xvi. 14, and xviii. 27; 1 Cor. iii. 6; 2 Cor. x. 4; and which is the common privilege of all the subjects of the New Covenant, or Kingdom of Christ, John vi. 44, 5.
But, further : this learned writer appears to attribute more to the effect of these miraculous powers than he is warranted to do. It is not denied that there is an extrinsic evidence for Christianity, arising from miracles, &c., which may stop the mouths of gainsayers, make men attentive to the Gospel, and render those inexcusable who openly reject it. This external evidence may be, and is clearly perceived by men who are no way influenced by the Gospel in their practice, having never discerned the glory, nor felt the power of divine truth. But the faith of the real disciples of Christ does not stand upon this external evidence merely, but on the light which shines in the divine testimony itself—in contemplating the divine perfections gloriously harmonizing in the plan of salvation by Christ Jesus, and which, when beheld, and so far as it is perceived, effectually changes men, and conforms them to itself in heart and life, according to Rom. vi, 17, and 2 Cor. iii. 18.
These observations, on the nature and necessity of the ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit, I have made with the view of presenting a more consistent outline of the system of doctrines on which the church of Christ is founded, and you will do well to keep them in recollection as we proceed with the history. It would be incompatible with the plan of these Lectures to enlarge much on a subject of this kind-we now proceed to their application.
When the Son of God had accomplished the object of his mission into the world, and was about to resume his seat on high, he commissioned his twelve apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” adding, that “ he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved-he that believeth not shall be condemned.” And, we are told,“ they went forth, every where, preaching the word, the Lord (the Spirit) working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Their great object was to bring men to the faith, or the knowledge of the truth; and, to accomplish this desirable end, they proclaimed the amazing love of God towards a guilty world, in giving his only begotten Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life; for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” They did not call upon men to do any thing with the view of placating the divine favour, or making their peace with God, as it is called-on the contrary they assured them that every thing of this kind was already done by him who came into the world to save sinners : and that so perfectly well-pleased was the Divine Father with the obedience and sufferings of his beloved Son, that he had, as a proof of it, raised him from the dead, and rewarded his humiliation with the highest glory in the heavens. By manifestation of the truth, therefore, they commended themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Instead of calling sinful mortals to a round of religious duties, with the view of preparing them for the divine favour, they testified of the personal dignity, the dying love, and the rising power of the Saviour, and their addresses ran in this way: “ Be it