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MONDAY IN WHITSUN-WEEK.
NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
ACTS xix. 2. We have not so much as heard, whether there be any Holy Ghost.
THE ignorance which these disciples profess, cannot, probably, be found among us, who have been born in a Christian country. It is presumed that every one who professeth the name of Christ, from the first baptismal institution, acknowledgeth that there is a Holy Ghost; and the only question consists in this, what that Holy Ghost is, in whose name we are baptized, and in whom, according to our baptism, we profess to believe.
I. The Holy Ghost is a person. We are baptized in the name of the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: We all confess that two of these, the Father and the Son, are persons: the Holy Ghost, therefore, who is, of the three, the third, is also a person as the other two. We are exhorted by the apostle 'not to grieve the Spirit of God;' [Ephes. iv. 30.] but grief is certainly a personal affection, of which a quality is not capable. We are assured that the same Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered ;' [Rom. viii. 26.] and we can understand what are interceding persons, but have no apprehension of interceding or groaning qualities. He revealeth the will of God, and speaketh to the sons of men, in the nature and after the manner of a person: for the Spirit said unto Peter, Behold three men seek thee: arise therefore and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them.' [Acts x. 19.] And the Holy Ghost said unto the prophets and teachers at Antioch, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.' [Acts xiii. 2.] We cannot better understand the nature of the Holy Ghost than by the description given by Christ who sent him: and he said thus to his disciples, The Comforter,' or the advocate, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things:' [John xiv. 26.] he shall testify of me; and ye also shall bear witness.' [xv. 26, 27.]
"If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world,' [xvi. 7, 8.] and he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he shall show you things to come: he shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.' [ver. 13, 14.] All which words are nothing else but so many descriptions of a person, a person hearing, a person receiving, a person testifying, a person speaking, a person reproving, a person instructing.
II. The Holy Ghost is not a created, but a Divine and uncreated, person. St. Paul observes, Who knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God,' which is in him, i. e. God. The four last words are evidently understood, in order to complete the sense of the passage: but that can neither have nor be a created nature, which by nature is in God. [1 Cor. ii. 11.] Again, our Saviour declares, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word. against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. But if the Holy Spirit were no person, the sin could not be distinct from all other sins and blasphemics, committed against God the Father or the Son of God; distinct from those sins which are committed against him whose Spirit he is: and if he were a person created, the sin could receive no such aggravation beyond other sins and blasphemies.
Again Christ by virtue of the miraculous conception is called the Son of God; whereas if a creature had been the cause of his conception, he had been, in that respect, the son of a creature. But the Holy Ghost it was, by whose operation Christ was conceived in the womb of a virgin: 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.' Luke i. 35. Therefore the Spirit of God is no created person.
III. The Spirit of God is properly and truly God. For if he be a person, and a person not created, as we have demon
strated above; then must he of necessity be acknowledged to be God, because there is no uncreated essence besides the essence of the one eternal God.
It is written by Moses, that when he went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out.' [Exod. xxxiv. 34.] And that Lord, with whom Moses spake, was the one Jehovah, the God of heaven and earth. But we are assured by St. Paul, that the Spirit was and is that Lord, to which Moses spake: Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit.' [2 Cor. iii. 15-17.] The Spirit is here plainly said to be the Lord, that is, Jehovah, the one eternal God..
Again: when Peter said Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?' he repeateth the same question in reference to the same offence, 'Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.' To lie unto the Holy Ghost is, therefore, to lie unto God.
Again the notion of a temple is nothing else but to be the house of God; no inhabitation of any created person can make a temple but the inhabitation of the Holy Ghost maketh a temple, as we are informed by the apostle: What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?' [1 Cor. vi. 19.] Therefore the Holy Ghost is God.
Again the Divine attributes, such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and the like, are, in scripture, as much ascribed unto the Holy Ghost, as unto God the Father: therefore we are as much assured, that the Holy Ghost is God. The Scriptures to prove these attributes are so well known, that I shall not need to mention them; and they are so many, that they would take up too much room in this discourse.
Again such works as are proper unto God, by and for which God hath required us to acknowledge him and worship him as God, are attributed often in the Scriptures to the Spirit of God; as the acts of creation and conservation of all things, the miracles wrought upon and by our blessed Saviour, the works of grace and power wrought in the hearts of true believers, and the like: therefore we may conclude, that the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, is a person truly and properly Divine, the true and living God.
IV. The Spirit of God is neither God the Father, nor the Son of God: He which proceedeth from the Father, is not the Father, because it is impossible any person should proceed from himself; but the Holy Ghost 'proceedeth from the Father;' [John. xv. 26.] therefore, he is not the Father. Our Saviour told the apostles before he departed, 'I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.' But he whose coming depended upon the Son's departing, and his sending after his departure, cannot be the Son, who therefore departed, that he might send him.
The scriptures frequently represent the Spirit as distinguished both from the Father and the Son. As, when the Spirit of God descended like a dove, and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,' [Matt. iii. 16.] he was manifestly distinguished from the person of the Son, upon whom he lighted, and from the person of the Father, who spake from heaven of his Son.-The Apostle teaches us, that, through the Son, we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father,' [Ephes. ii. 18.] and consequently assureth us, that the Spirit by whom, is not the Father to whom, nor the Son through whom, we have that access. So 'God sent forth his Son, that we might receive the adoption of sons:' and 'because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.' [Gal. iv. 4-6.] Where the Son is distinguished both from the Father as first sent by him, and the Spirit of the Son is distinguished from the Father and the Son, as sent by the Father after he had sent the Son. And this our Saviour hath taught us several times in his word, as, The Comforter whom the Father will send in my name: [John xiv. 26.] The Comforter whom I will send unto you from the Father;' [xv. 26.] and when that Comforter is come, Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [Matt. xxviii. 19.]
V. The Holy Ghost is the third person in the blessed Trinity. For since he is a person, by our first assertion; a person not created, by the second; but a Divine person, properly and truly God, by the third; since though he is thus truly God, he is neither the Father, nor the Son,-by the fourth
assertion it followeth, that he is one of the three: and of the three is the third. For as there is a number in the Trinity, by which the persons are neither more nor less than three; so there is also an order, by which, of these persons, the Father is the first, the Son the second, and the Holy Ghost the third. Nor is this order arbitrary or external, but internal and necessary, by virtue of a subordination of the second unto the first, and of the third unto the first and second. The Godhead was communicated from the Father to the Son, not from the Son unto the Father: though therefore this were done from all eternity, and so there can be no priority of time, yet there must be acknowledged a priority of order, by which the Father, not the Son, is first; and the Son, not the Father, second.— Again: the same Godhead was communicated by the Father and the Son, unto the Holy Ghost, not by the Holy Ghost to the Father or the Son:-though therefore this was also done from all eternity, and therefore can admit of no priority in reference to time; yet that of order must be here observed; so that the Spirit, receiving the Godhead from the Father who is the first person, cannot be the first; receiving the same from the Son, who is the second, cannot be the second; but being from the first and second, must be, of the three, the third.
And thus both the number and the order of the persons are signified together by the apostle, saying, There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.' [1 John v. 7.] And though they are not expressly said to be three, yet the same number is sufficiently declared, and the same order is expressly mentioned, in the baptismal institution made in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'
VI. The Spirit is a person, proceeding from the Father and the Son. It is expressly said, That the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father, as our Saviour testifieth, When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.' [John xv. 26.] And this is also evident from what hath been already asserted: for since the Father and the Spirit are the same God, and being so the same in the unity of the nature of God, are yet distinct in their personality, one of them must have the same nature from the other; and because the Father hath been already shown to have it from none, it followeth that the Spirit hath it from him.