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ment, it is to be variously interpreted; sometimes it signifies God the Father himself,
—as Gen. vi. 3. “my Spirit shall not alway strive with man ;” sometimes the power and virtue of the Father, and particularly that divine breath or influence by which every thing is created and nourished. In this sense many
both of the ancient and modern interpreters understand the passage in Gen. i. 2. “the Spirit of God moved upon
the face of the waters.' Here, however, it appears to be used with reference to the Son, through whom the Father is so often said to have created all things. Job. xxvi. 13. “ by his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens.” xxvii. 3. “the Spirit of God is in my nostrils.” xxxiii. 4. “ the Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hatlı given me life.” Psal. civ. 30. “thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created.” cxxxix. 7. “whither shall I go then from thy Spirit ?” Ezek. xxxvii. 14. “I shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live.” See also many other similar passages.
Sometimes it means an angel. Isai. xlviii. 16. “the Lord Jehovah and his Spirit hath sent me.” Ezek. ii. 12. “then the Spirit took me up.
See also v. 14, 24, &c. Sometimes it means Christ, who according to the common opinion was sent by the Father to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. Isai. lxiii. 10, 11. “they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit. ... where is he that put his Holy Spirit within them ?”—that is, the angel to whom he transferred his own name, namely, Christ whom they tempted, Numb. xxi. 5. &c. compared with 1 Cor. x. 9.
Sometimes it means that impulse or voice of God by which the prophets were inspired. Nehem. ix. 30.“ thou testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets.
7 Milton seems to allude to the Rabbinical interpretation of this passage, which, following the opinion of some of the Fathers, explains the Spirit of God to mean την δύναμιν διαπλαστικήν, or την ενεργείαν ζωτικών, the creative or vivifying power. It seems extraordinary that Patrick should have chosen to adopt a mode of explanation nearly similar, and not less objectionable. • This therefore we are to understand to be here meant; the infinite wisdom and power of God, which made a vehement commotion and mighty fermentation (by raising perhaps a great wind) upon the face of the waters.' So too Grotius.
* The Spanish Jesuit Sanctius, and Pradus (In Ezechielem Erplanationes, &r. Romæ 1596.) understand this passage in the sense attributed to it by Milton.
Sometimes it means that light of truth, whether ordinary or extraordinary, wherewith God enlightens and leads his people. Numb. xiv. 24. “my servant Caleb, because he had another Spirit within him—" Nehem. ix. 20. “thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them.” Psal. li. 11, 12. “take not thy Holy Spirit from me. . . . renew a right Spirit within
cxliii. 10. “thy Spirit is good ; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Undoubtedly neither David, nor any other Hebrew, under the old covenant, believed in the personality of that good and Holy Spirit, unless perhaps as an angel.
More particularly, it implies that light which was shed on Christ himself. Isai. xi. 2. “the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah." xlii. 1. “I have put my Spirit upon him,” compared with Acts x. 38. “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.”
It is also used to signify the spiritual gifts conferred by God on individuals, and the act of gift itself. Gen. xli. 38. “a man in whom the Spirit of God is.” Numb. xi. 17, 25, 26, 29. “I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them.” 2 Kings ii. 9. “I pray thee, let a double portion of thy Spirit be upon me.” Spirit of Elijah doth rest upon Elisha.
Nothing can be more certain, than that all these passages, and many others of a similar kind in the Old Testament, were understood of the virtue and power of God the Father, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit was not yet given, nor believed in, even by those who prophesied that it should be poured forth in the latter times.
So likewise under the Gospel, what is called the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, sometimes means the Father himself. Matt. i. 18, 20. “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
Luke i. 35. “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.”
Again, it sometimes means the virtue and power of the
9 See an elaborate refutation of the opinion that this doctrine was unknown before the Christian Revelation, in Ridley's Second Sermon on the Holy Ghost.
Father. Matt. xii. 28. compared with Luke xi. 20. “) cast out devils by the Spirit or finger of God.” Rom. i. 4. “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” For thus the Scripture teaches throughout, that Christ was raised by the power of the Father, and thereby declared to be the Son of God. See particularly Acts xiii. 32, 33. quoted in the beginning of the last chapter. But the phrase, “according to the Spirit” (secundum Spiritum) seems to have the same signification as Eph. iv. 24. “which after God (secundum Deum) is created in righteousness and true holiness ;” and 1 Pet. iv. 6. “that they might live according to God (secundum Deum) in the Spirit.” Isai. xlii. 1. compared with Heb. ix. 14. “I have put my Spirit upon him.... who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.” Luke iv. 1. Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost,” and v. 18. compared with Isai. Ixi. 1. “ the Spirit of the Lord Jehovalı is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor ; he hath sent me, &c. Acts x. 38. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.” i. 2. “after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.” It is more probable that these phrases are to be understood of the power of the Father, than of the Holy Spirit himself; for how could it be necessary that Christ should be filled with the Holy Spirit, of whom he had himself said, John xvi. 15. - he shall take of mine?" For the same reason I am inclined to believe that the Spirit descended upon Christ at his baptism, not so much in his own name, as in virtue of a mission from the Father, and as a symbol and minister of the
For what could the Spirit confer on Christ, from whom he was himself to be sent, and to receive all things ? Was his purpose to bear witness to Christ? But as yet he was himself not so much as known. Was it meant that the Spirit should be then manifested for the first time to the Church ? But at the time of his appearance nothing was said of him or of his office; nor did that voice from heaven bear any testimony to the Spirit, but only to the Son. The descent therefore and appearance of the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove, seems to have been nothing more than a representation of the ineffable affection of the Father
for the Son, communicated by the Holy Spirit under the ap propriate image of a dove, and accompanied by a voice from heaven declaratory of that affection.
Thirdly, the Spirit signifies a divine impulse, or light, or voice, or word, transmitted from above either through Christ, who is the Word of God, or by some other channel. Mark xii. 36. “ David himself said by the Holy Ghost." Acts i. 16. “the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas.” xxviii. 25. “well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet.” Heb. iii. 7. “wherefore, as the Holy God saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice,” &c. ix. 8. “the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.” x. 15. “whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us." 2 Pet. i. 21. “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Luke ii. 25, 26. “ the Holy Ghost was upon him: and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost—.” It appears to me, that these and similar passages cannot be considered as referring to the express person of the Spirit, both because the Spirit was not yet given, and because Christ alone, as has been said before, is, properly speaking, and in a primary sense, the Word of God, and the prophet of the Church ; though “God at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the Fathers by the prophets,” Heb. i. 1. whence it appears that he did not speak by the Holy Spirit alone, unless the term be understood in the signification which I have proposed, and in a much wider sense than was subsequently attributed to it. Hence, 1 Pet. i. 11. “searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them —that is, in the prophets-did signify, must either be understood of Christ himself,—as iii. 18, 19.“quickened by the
In likeness of a dove
Paradise Regained, I. 30. In another part of the same book, Milton intimates an uncertainty respecting the real signification of the descent of the Holy Spirit, which is very consistent with the hesitating manner in which he comments on the passage in this treatise.
thence on his head A perfect dove descend, (whate'er it meant,) And out of Heav'n the sovran voice I heard, &c. 82.
Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison,” —or it must be understood of the Spirit which supplied the place of Christ the Word and the Chief Prophet.
Further, the Spirit signifies the person itself of the Holy Spirit, or its symbol. Matt. ii. 16. Mark i. 10. " he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.' Luke iii. 22. “in a bodily shape like a dove." John i. 32, 33. “ like a dove.” Nor let it be objected, that a dove is not a person ; for an intelligent substance, under any form whatever, is a person ; as for instance, the four living creatures seen in Ezekiel's vision, ch. i. John xiv. 16, 17. “another Comforter.” See also v. 26. xv. 26. xvi. 7, 13. xx. 22. “ he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive
the Holy Ghost,”—which was a kind of symbol, and sure pledge of that promise, the fulfilment of which is recorded Acts ii. 2—4, 33. “having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this.” Matt. xxviii. 19. “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Acts xv. 28. “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost.” Rom. viii. 16. “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit.” v. 26. “it helpeth our infirmities. . . . it maketh intercession for us." Εph. 1. 13, 14. τω πνεύματι τώ αγίω, ός έστιν αρραβών: “ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise which (who, Whitby, Macknight) is the earnest of our inheritance." iv. 30. “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”
Lastly, it signifies the donation of the Spirit itself, and of its attendant gifts. John vii. 39. “but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive ; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given.” Matt. iii. 11. “he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” See also Acts i. 5. and xi. 16. 1 Thess. v. 19. “quench not the Spirit.”
Who this Holy Spirit is, and whence he comes, and what are his offices, no one has taught us more explicitly than the Son of God himself, Matt. x. 20. “it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.” Luke xi. 13. “how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” xxiv. 49. “behold, I send the promise of my
Father upon you ; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” John xiv. 16, 17. “I will pray the Father, and