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him; and, as far as relates to that, “he is found of them that sought him not, and known to them that enquired not after him?” but when he has once communicated this desire, he expects that it should be cultivated and improved at a throne of grace; nor will he open the gate of heaven to any, who do not knock at it with importunate and believing prayer. And can we think hardly of this condition? What if we ourselves had invited a child to come and ask of us the richest gifts we could possibly bestow ypon him, and had done every thing in our power to assure him of our unalterable determination to grant his request; could he reasonably blame us for suspending our grant upon his performance of so easy a condition or is there a parent in the world who would not say, If you are too proud to ask for it, you shall not have it? Surely then if, through pride, or indolence, or unbelief, we will not make our supplications to God, we may well, yea, we must inevitably, be left to perish.
If this appear awful in one view, in another view it is most encouraging. Many are ready to say, “Such an appeal as this affords no comfort to me: were I a child of God, I could not doubt, but that he would give me all that I could ask, with greater readiness than I would give a piece of bread to my beloved offspring; but am I his child? and, if not, what is this assurance to me?” But behold, as though he had intended to cut off all occasion for such a doubt, our Lord has here drop-. ped the parallel, and says, How much more will God give his Spirit, (not to his children, but) to them that ask him? So then we have no occasion to enquire, Am I a child? We must go immediately to God and implore his best and choicest blessings, with a full assurance of success.
Some perhaps may reply, I have tried these means, and found them ineffectual. But we are sure either that God has already answered in a way that was not expected, or that he will answer in due time. He is a God that cannot lie; and therefore we have nothing to do but to wait his leisure. Only let us " continue instant in prayer," and heaven, with all its glory, shall be ours.]
CCCCLXXXIII. THE PERSONALITY AND OFFICE
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
John xv. 26. 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.
THE characters of the most holy men may suffer from envy and malevolence; but their righteousness often shines forth the brighter afterwards, as the sun obscured for awhile by an intervening cloud-According to all human appearances, our Lord's name must either have sunk into speedy oblivion, or been handed with infamy to the latest posterity. It scarcely seemed possible that the ignominy of his cross could ever be so obliterated as to be succeeded by respect and honour: but our Lord knew that the testimony of the Spirit would assuredly effect this—While therefore he consoled both himself and his disciples with the reflection, that the causeless enmity of his countrymen was nothing more than a completion of the prophecies, he taught them to look forward to the time, when the Spirit of God should come down visibly from heaven, and by the most indubitable testimony efface every stain, and rectify the mistaken apprehensions of the world respecting him -Let us consider I. Our Lord's description of his promised messenger
In speaking of the inscrutable mysteries of our religion, we are constrained to represent heavenly things in terms, not strictly just perhaps, but such as are best accommodated to our own feeble apprehensionsWe observe then respecting the messenger whom Jesus undertook to send, that He is a distinct person
[Many deny the distinct personality of the Spirit, and affirm that he is only a virtue or quality belonging to the Father: but the text alone shews that this is not a just and scriptural idea: the names given to the Spirit, as the Comforter," and “the Spirit of truth,” import that he is a distinct person—The circumstance of his mission leaves no doubt upon the subject; for he“ proceeds from the Father,” is s sent” by the Son, and comes down to us--Besides, the very end of his mission implies the same; for he comes to “testify;" or be a witness-]
Yet, though distinct from the Father, he is, in his essential properties, equal to him
[He is sent to testify to all persons, in all places, at the very same instant of time: and does not the execution of such an office require both omnipresence and omniscience? Must he not know what every person needs to be instructed in, and be every where present to hear and grant their requests:-—And are there any attributes more appropriate to the Deity than these? Yet these the Spirit has in common with the Father: David says respecting him, “ Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit: if I go up to heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell thou art there also''a—and St. Paul observes that “the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God”b_Nor are these testimonies unsupported by others that are yet more direct and clear: for the Spirit is constantly joined both with the Father and the Son as equally worthy of the highest honour, and equally a source of the richest blessingsd-Indeed he is expressly and repeatedly called God; they who lied unto him, were therefore guilty of lying unto God; and they who had him dwelling in them, were therefore the temples of the living God
Nevertheless in some respects he is subordinate both to the Father and the Son
[In the order of subsistence, as the Father is not of the Son, but the Son of the Father, so neither the Father nor the Son proceeds from the Spirit, but the Spirit from them, inasmuch as he proceeds from the Father, and is sent by the Son-In the order of operation also the Spirit is inferior: the Father is represented as the fountain of authority and of blessings: the Son acts as his servant:& and the Spirit acts under Christ, being sent or deputed by him, according as it was determined in the eternal counsels of the Father, to apply to men that redemption, which Christ procured for them by his death—The Spirit acted in this subordinate capacity before the time of Christ's incarnation; it was by him that Christ went and preached to the antediluvian world: by him also he inspired the prophets to foretel the things relating to his sufferings and glory. During the days of our Lord's ministry on earth the Spirit still acted in subserviency to him;
a Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8.
b1 Cor. ii. 10. e Matt. xxviii. 19. e Acts v. 3, 4. fi Cor. iii. 16, 17. h Pet. üi. 18, 19. i 1 Pet. i. 11.
it was by the Spirit that Christ cast out devils, and performed his other miracles—In a more especial manner did the Spirit exert himself in subserviency to Christ after he had ascended to heaven; it was then that the Spirit began fully to executę the office assigned him, and to “glorify Christ" before an ungodly and unbelieving world - To this very hour does thç Spirit bear the same part, “ convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment,"'m in order to magnify Christ, and to enlarge his kingdom.]
As our attention is principally directed to the Holy Spirit, we shall proceed to state II. The particular office committed to him
The Father, Son, and Spirit, have distinct and different offices in the economy of redemption—That of the Spirit is twofold
1. To be a witness for Christ
[Our blessed Lord died under circumstances of the deepest ignominy and reproach; being treated by his whole nation as the vilest of malefactors-Nor could it be conceived that one, who under such circumstances saved not himself, should be constituted by God the Saviour of others This was, to all appearance, so absurd an idea that it never could have gained any credit in the world, if it had not been confirmed by the most unquestionable testimony-To overcome these obstacles, the Holy Spirit testified of two things, namely, the righteousness of his person, and the sufficiency of his salvation-While the apostles testified of these things to the ears of men, the Spirit confirmed their word with visible signs," and sealed it on men's hearts by his invisible, but effectual, influence-This he did, not only on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand were converted at once, but on many other occasions-It is worthy of remark, that when he visibly descended on thu Gentiles in confirmation of the word that was delivered by Peter, he descended at the very instant that the apostle began to speak of the fulness and excellency of Christ's salvation;P as though he designed to intimate, that this was the great truth which he came to attest, and which we ought to receive with our whole hearts] 2. To be a Comforter to us
[When a soul begins to feel its guilty and undone state, it needs a comforter: but there is no creature in heaven or carth that can administer effectual consolation; none but the
k Matt. xii. 28.
1 John xvi. 14.
IR John xvi. 8.
Holy Spirit is sufficient for so great a work: if he reveal Christ to the soul, all tears will instantly be wiped away; but if he withhold his influence, sorrow and despondency will overwhelm it utterly-Thus also in all subsequent trials and temptations, it is the Holy Ghost alone that can heal the wounded spirit, or bind up the broken and contrite heartAnd it must further be noticed, that the principal, if not the only, way, in which he administers consolation to us, is by testifying of Christ; it is by shewing to us his beauty, his sufficiency, his truth and faithfulness, and by enabling us to rest entirely on him: and as there can be no comfort till this be done, so there can be nothing but joy and exultation arising from it-]
This subject naturally leads us to REFLECT
[It has been already shewn that the Holy Spirit is God equal with the Father: yet has Christ authority to send him into our hearts--If Christ say, Go, my Spirit, and quicken that dead sinner; go and dwell in that polluted heart; go and comfort that drooping and desponding soul; in short, whatever commission Jesus gives to the ever-blessed Spirit, it is executed instantly, and to its utmost extent-No unworthiness in us excites any reluctance in the mind of the Spirit; if Jesus do but speak, it is done, Who then would not wish to have this glorious person for his friend? Who does not desire an interest in him? Who would not seek him who is so able and willing to save?
-Blessed Lord, send thy Spirit now to testify of thee, and to glorify thee in all our hearts!--]
2. How unspeakable is the happiness of Christ's faithful people!
[These enjoy the witness of the Spirit in their own hearts? -The Spirit not only testifies to them that Jesus is the Sa+ viour of believers in general, but their Saviour in particular: he witnesses to, and with, their spirits, that they are children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and jointheirs with Christ-Can we conceive any greater happiness than this? Surely not in this present world-Let every one then aspire after this honour-Let every one seek the Spirit; not merely as an instructor, but a comforter_Thus shall we be filled with consolation, even under the most afflictive circumstances; and his testimonies shall prove to us an earnest, and a foretaste, of our heavenly inheritance.-]
21 John y. to.
r Ronk viii. 16, 17: