« ElőzőTovább »
14. We are taught to pray that God would give us his Holy Spirit, that through his assistance we may live to God. Our Saviour enjoins an importunity in our supplications for him, and gives us encouragement that we shall succeed : " Your heavenly Father shall give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him.' Luke xi. 9. &c. He, therefore, is the great subject-matter of our prayers; and that signal promise of our Lord, that he would send him as a Comforter to abide with us for ever, is a directory for the prayers of the church in all ages. Nor is there any church in the world fallen under such a total degeneracy, but that in their public offices there are testimonies of their ancient faith and practice, in praying for the Spirit.
5. What was before mentioned must be repeated here, namely, the solemn promise of Jesus Christ just before he left this world ; and as he therein confirmed his testament, he bequeathed his Spirit as his great legacy to his disciples. And this was the great pledge of their future inheritance, which they were to live on in this world. How would some rejoice if they could possess the relic of any thing that belonged to our Saviour, though of no real advantage to them! How many, called Christians, boast of some pretended pieces of his cross! Love, abused by superstition, lies at the bottom of this vanity ; they would embrace any thing left them by their dying Saviour; but he has left no such things, nor did he ever bless and sanctify them to sacred purposes. But this is openly testified in the Gospel, that when his heart was overflowing with love for his disciples, when he took a prospect of their condition, and temptation in the world, he promises to give them his Spirit to abide with them for ever. According therefore, to our valuation of lim, is our regard to the love and wisdom of our blessed Saviour to be measured. Indeed, it is only in his word and Spirit that we can either honour or despise him; in his own person he is infinitely exalted, so that nothing of ours can affect bim; but it is in our regard to these that he tries our faith, love, and obedience.
And if we consider this promise of the Spirit as to the ends of it, we shall find that he is promised as the sole cause and author of all the good that we can enjoy in this world; for there is no good communicated to us, no
consolation bestowed upon us, nor any good in us towards God, but what is effectually wrought by him alone.
The great work whereby God designed to glorify himself in this world, was that of the new creation ; which must therefore contain the most perfect revelation of himself; for from this manifestation doth the glory of God arise. Hence is the Lord Christ, in his work of mediation, the image of the invisible God ;' the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person ;' because in and by him all the glorious properties of the divine nature are displayed, incomparably above what they were in the first creation. Particularly, God has herein revealed himself as Three in One. The glorious mystery of the Holy Trinity is peculiarly displayed in the new creation : not so much by express propositions, as by a declaration of the mutual acts of the divine persons towards each other, and of their distinct actings towards ys. And this, not to fill our minds with notions of God, but to teach us how to place our trust in him, to obey and live to him, and to obtain communion with him, till we come to the enjoyment of him.
In this new creation, three things are proposed to our faith. 1. The supreme design of it, which is absolutely and uniformly assigned to the counsel and grace of the Father. And because the Son undertook to effect what the Father so designed, there were many acts of the Father towards the Son, in sending, giving, appointing him ; in preparing him a body, in supporting him, in rewarding, and giving a people to him ; which, on account of the authority, love, and wisdom exercised in them, belong to the Father; their actual operation belonging principally to another person. In these things is the person of the Father proposed to us to be known and adored. 2. The procuring cause and means of effecting that design, are ascribed to the Son; who engages to accomplish in his own person the whole work appointed for him by the wisdom and counsel of the Father. And in these divine operations is the person of the Son revealed to us, to be • honoured, even as we honour the Father. 3. The application of the supreme design, and actual accomplishment of it to make it effectual, is assigned to the Aloly Spirit. He performs whatever was to be done in
reference to the person of the Son, or to the sons of men, for the accomplishment of the Father's counsel, and the Son's work, in the special application of both to their proper ends. Hereby he is made known to us, and hereby our faith is directed. And thus, in this great work, God causes all his glory to pass before us, that we may know and worship him aright. And what is the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost herein, we shall now declare.
Work of the Holy Spirit with respect to the Human Nature
of Christ, the Head of the New Creation.
THE dispensation and work of the Spirit in the New
Creation, respect, first, The Head of the Church, Jesus Christ; and, secondly, The Members of his mystical body. We are therefore, in the first place, to enquire, What are those operations of which the person of Christ in his human nature was the immediate object ?
First. The formation and miraculous conception of the body of Christ in the womb of the blessed Virgin, was the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost. With respect indeed to the designation of it, it is ascribed to the Father by Christ himself : « a body hast thou prepared me;' that is, in the eternal counsel and love of the Father. And as to the voluntary assumption of it, it is ascribed to thę Son himself, who, because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, himself also took part of the same.' But the divine efficiency in this matter, was the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost, Matt. i. 18.
• \Vhen his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost. (Ver. 20.) • That which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.' Luke i. 35. The angel answered and said unto her, 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.' This act of the Spirit was a creating act; not indeed like the first creating act, which produced the matter of all things out of nothing; but like those subsequent acts of creation, whereby out of matter already prepared, things were made what they were not before. So man was formed of the dust of the earth, and woman of a rib taken from man. Thus in forming the body of Christ, though it was effected by an act of infinite power, yet it was made of the substance of the blessed Virgin. And this was necessary, (1.) On account of the first promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;' for the Word was to be made flesh,' and to be · made of a woman.' (2.) It was necessary also for the accomplishment of the promises made to Abraham and David; for the Messiah was to proceed from their loins ; he was to take upon him the seed of Abraham,' and to be made of the seed of David, according to the flesh.' (3.) To confirm this truth, his genealogy, according to the flesh, is given us by two of the evangelists, which were neither true nor to the purpose, if he were not made of the substance of the Virgin. (4.) Besides, all our alliance to him, whence he was meet to be our Saviour, depends on this. For if he had not been partaker of our nature, there would have been no foundation for the imputation of what he did and suffered, to us (Rom. viii. 3.): hence these are accounted to us, as they could not be to angels, whose nature he did not assume. Heb. ii. 16. And from hence may be inferred,
1. That Christ could not on this account, even with respect to his human nature, be said to be “the Son of the Holy Ghost;' though he supplied the place of a natural father; for the relation of filiation arises' only from a perfect generation, and not from every effect of an efficient cause.
When one fire is kindled by another, we do not say it is the son of that other : much less when a man builds a house, do we say it is his son. There was there. fore no other relation between the person of the Spirit and the human nature of Christ, than that of a Creator and a creature.
2. That this act of the Spirit, in forming the body of Christ, differs from the act of the Son in assuming the human nature into personal union with himself. The latter
was not an act of creation, but of ineffable love and wis. dom ; taking the nature so prepared for him to be his own in the instant of formation, and thereby preventing * the singular and individual subsistence of that nature by itself.
3. Hence also it follows, that the conception of Christ in the womb, being the effect of a creating act, was not accomplished successively and in process of time, but was perfected in an instant. For though creating acts of infinite power may have a process allotted to them (as the world was created in six days) yet each part that was the object of a special creating act, was instantaneously produced. So was the forming the body of Christ, though it increased afterwards in the womb unto the birth. And as it is probable that this conception was immediately on the angelical salutation, so it was necessary that nothing of the human nature of Christ should exist of itself, antecedently to its union with the Son of God: for in the very instant of its formation was the “ Word made Aesh, and the Son of God was made of a woman.'
It only remains that we consider how the conception of Christ is assigned both to the Holy Ghost, and to the Virgin : ' A Virgin shall conceive." Isa. vii. 14.
"Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son.' Luke i. 31. And yet in that ancient creed, commonly called the Apostles', it is said he was conceived by the Holy Ghost,' and only • born of the Virgin Mary.' to observe, that this work is assigned to the Spirit as the efficient cause, who by his power produced the effect ; and to the holy Virgin, as the passive material cause ; for his body was formed of her substance. And this was after her espousal to Joseph. For, (1.) Under the cover of her marriage to him, she was to receive a protection of her innocency. (2.) God provided one that should take care of her and her child in his infancy :-and hereby, (3.) Was our Saviour freed from the imputation of an illegitimate birth, till by his own miracles he should give testimony to his miraculous conception. (4.) That he might have one, on whose account his genealogy might be recorded, to manifest the accomplishment of the promise to Abraham and David : for the line of genealogy was, not legally continued by the mother only. Hence Matthew gives us the genealogy by Joseph, to whom his mo