« PreviousContinue »
through the understanding. Before any impression can be made upon the will from without, the understanding must be interested; as no one can approach the spirit of man but through his outward senses, which are the visible forms of his spiritual faculties.
These two powers, the will, and the understanding which depends upon it, and is filled with it, are distinct, yet they form but one; and from the will, through the understanding, proceeds the power of operation. Now apply this to the Being of whom man is the image, THE INFINITE JEHOVAH. In him there is a threefold distinction, as in man. The FATHER, who is said to be Love; the Son, who is the manifested form of the Father, and who is designated by the names of the Word, Truth, or Wisdom; and the SPIRIT, who proceeds from the Father through the Son, and whose title is, the Power of God. Here, then, as in man, is Love producing WISDOM, and through Wisdom putting forth Power. Let us then see how the situations in which the Father and the Son in the Deity respectively stand to each other, answer to the operations of the two powers of man.
We have already seen, that the Son is said to depend upon the Father, as the understanding depends upon the will ;-we have seen, that as wisdom is the effect of the understanding, so the Son of God is called wisdom, and as Love exists in the Will so the Father is called Love: we go on therefore to notice the other points of resemblance.
And first, every work of the Father, is said to be performed by the Word ; “without him was not any thing made that was made.” Yet of himself the Son “can do nothing ;" it is “the Father that dwelleth in him that doeth the work.” Exactly similar is the situation of the will and understanding in man which we have already described. Every work of the will is performed only by the understanding, and without the understanding not a single affection can operate with effect. Yet alone, the understanding can do nothing, it is the affection within, that animates and renders it active. Again, knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any one the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” Here it is declared, that by the Son alone can the Father be revealed, just as by the thought alone the will can be made
manifest. In the same manner, the Son is described as the only means of approach to the Father; and the only medium by which the influence of God can be received ; even as the understanding is the only means of approach to the will, and the only medium hy which the affections can operate. Yet the Father and the Son, like the two faculties of man, are oneone in person-one without confusion of parts, or division of substance.
From the Father, through the Son, proceeds the Spirit; as from the will, by the understanding, proceeds outward operation. This outward operation is power in man ;-this operation of the spirit, is power in God. This power is not a distinct person in the Deity, but the same undivided person, manifested in a distinct essential of his nature. Thus the Saviour identifies the Spirit with himself. “I will send you another Comforter who shall abide with you for ever.”
“ I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you”—“I go away, and I come again uinto you."
In further confirmation we may notice a passage or two on this subject. The soul of a christian is said by the Apostle to be a temple of the Holy Ghost—“the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in him." Yet this Spirit is elsewhere by the same Apostle, said to be “ Christ within the hope of Glory.” Now are there two that fill the mind of a Christian or only one ? No more than one certainly; and the Spirit of Christ is at once identified with the person of Christ himself, being no other than Christ manifested in his power. Thus again, the Spirit is described as the fountain of every blessing; yet in other places the Saviour is said to be the only source of blessedness. There can but be one, only fountain of peace, and again the Saviour and his Spirit are identified. That the Spirit is the power of God, or God manifested in his operation, is equally evident from the words of the Angel to Mary : “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” There were not two, that overshadowed her; the man Christ Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost alone : and if not two, then the two titles are expressive of one thing only, and that is “the Power of the Highest,” or the Highest in the operation of his power.
The more we compare Scripture with Scripture, the more clear will our views be on sacred subjects. We shall see in the light of God, and instead of being perplexed with mysteries, shall perceive the path of heavenly truth before us, and proceeding in it shall shine more and more unto the perfect day.
I. G. B. P.
ON THE INFLUENCES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. It is necessary while upon this most important subject, to divest our minds of all the pre-conceived and fallacious notions which they may have imbibed, from having perused the works of idle theorists, or false visionaries. If we were to allow our imagination free play, it would instantly launch forth upon the illimitable oceans of duration and space, and soon be bewildered and lost in the immeasurable depths of eternity and immensity. But we must not forget that human powers are confined within narrow limits, so that while our wishes remain undiminished, we are instructed to moderate our ideas. Notwithstanding this, "little haughty ignorance” has dared to tax “ creative wisdom,” to call in question the word of the Most' High, and even to doubt the propriety of his actions and works, while he is puzzled to account for the formation of a single atom of matter.
It is our intention to confine the present discourse to the first operation of the Spirit; that operation by which he “opens the heart” to the reception of the truth as it is in Jesus, and commences the Divine life in the soul :-his agency in what we have Scripture warrant for denominating regeneration. All his subsequent influence is only a continued exercise of the same power by which he prepares and takes possession of his temple. If from the authority of the Scriptures, and other legitimate sources of evidence, we can establish the reality and necessity of the direct action of the Holy Spirit, influencing us by the faith of the Gospel, and producing the first dawning of the Divine life; the inference will be obvious, that the same energy will carry it on to perfection. The establishment of this
point will illustrate the remainder of the discussion, and take from it, in some measure, its argumentative form.
The declaration of the apostle Paul, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,” we think, expresses much the same important truth as the following of our Lord's to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
In the one Godhead, although subsisting in three persons, there has been, from eternity, infinite knowledge, and consequently perfect and invariable unity of mind and counsel.
In the scheme of our redemption, however, the three persons in this one Godhead are represented as performing each his propriate part of that glorious work, in the eternal design of which they were necessarily one. The ordinary distinction pervades the account which is given in the Scriptures of this wonderful scheme. The Father appears as commissioning, or sending the Son—the Son as coming in the likeness of sinful flesh, and finishing his work of atonement on the cross :—and the Father having declared his approbation of the finished work-his acceptance of the atoning sacrifice, by raising the man Christ Jesus from the grave, and exalting him to glory; then comes the appropriate work of the Spirit, who is sent by the Father in the name and for the sake of the Son, with the express view of giving effect in the souls of men, to the work of salvation which the Son had finished.
By the influence of the Holy Spirit, renovation of the heart, or sanctification is achieved: the truth believed, or faith in Jesus Christ, being the medium of interest and means by which this blessed effect is produced ; and the knowledge and belief of this truth, are essential to its renewing influence; for it cannot be supposed to have any truly gracious or saving efficacy, except as it is understood and believed.
Let the mind ponder upon these subjects. Let the “ senses be locked up, and the airy wings of imagination repressed.” “Let reason reign alone,” and then revolve these important truths till they be understood and believed. 'Tis then that the workings of the Holy Spirit will be felt in the soul, and that Saviour, who suffered for us, will appear to be “fairer than the children of men,” “the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely," who before appeared in our eyes, as a root out of the dry ground, having no form, nor comeliness, nor beauty,
why he should be desired.” This change of sentiments and feelings, we affirm is represented in the Scriptures, as the effect of Divine influence ;-of the influence of the Spirit of God. We would remark that the figures employed by Scripture, strongly represent the nature and magnitude of the change which takes place when a sinner “receives the love of truth that he may be saved.” This change is represented as a new birth, a resurrection from the dead, a new creation.
“ And (that ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe ; according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead :"_"and you hath he quickened, which were dead in trespasses and sins :”—“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his. great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ :”—“ Wherefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.”
It is very evident that such figures as these must express a change, not external, superficial, and partial; but internal, radical, and total : a change of mind, of heart and of life; of views, of principles, and of conduct. And it is not the less evident, that, as the things in nature to which the change is compared, require Divine energy for their accomplishment, so must the change itself. This indeed in several of the passages is most pointedly affirmed.
The whole of such language proceeds on the supposition of the deep and radical corruption of the human heart; that corruption which, although it assumes a vast variety of aspects, being modified in its influence on the characters of men, by an inconceivable diversity of circumstances, is yet, in its general nature, the same ; and operates universally in opposition to that truth—which abases to the dust the pride of man, and which “crucifies the flesh, with its affections and lusts.”
The apostle Paul has summed up in one expression, all the varieties of human corruption :-" The carnal mind is ENMITY AGAINST God.” The whole context shows, that by the carnal mind, or mind of flesh, he means the mind of man previously to his being “ renewed in the spirit of his mind. In the first verse of the chapter, he remarks, “ those who are in Christ Jesus, walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit :" being thus distinguished from others who “ walk after the flesh,” “mind.