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B O OK III.
What is declared concerning Christ rendered profitable to us by the secret Operation of the Spirit.
WE are now to examine how we obtain the enjoyment of those blessings which the Father hath conferred on his onlybegotten Son, not for his own private use, but to enrich the poor and needy. And first it must be remarked, that as long as there is a separation between Christ and us, all that he suffered and performed for the salvation of mankind is useless and unavailing to us. To communicate to us what he received from his Father, he must therefore become ours, and dwell within us. On this account he is called our “head,” (a) and “the firstborn among many brethren.” (b) and we, on the other hand, are said to be “grafted into him,” (c) and to “put him on:”(d) for, as I have observed, whatever he possesses is nothing to us, till we are united to him. But though it be true that we obtain this by faith; yet, since we see that the communication of Christ, offered in the Gospel, is not promiscuously embraced by all, reason itself teaches us to proceed farther, and to inquire into the secret energy of the Spirit, by which we are introduced to the enjoyment of Christ and all his benefits. I have already treated of the eternal deity and essence of the Spirit; let us now confine ourselves to this particular point: Christ came thus by water and blood, that the Spirit may tes
(a) Ephes. iv. 15. (b) Rom. viii. 29. (c) Rom. xi. 17. (d) Gal. iii. 27.
tify concerning him, in order that the salvation procured by him may not be lost to us. For, as “there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit;” so also “there are three on earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood.”(e) Nor is this an useless repetition of the testimony of the Spirit, which we perceive to be engraven like a seal on our hearts, so that it seals the ablution and sacrifice of Christ. For which reason Peter also says, that believers are “elect through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” (f) This passage suggests to us, that our souls are purified by the secret ablution of the Spirit, that the effusion of that sacred blood may not be in vain. For the same reason also Paul, when speaking of purification and justification, says, we enjoy both “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (g) The sum of all is this, that the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ efficaciously unites us to himself. And what we have advanced in the last book concerning his unction, tends to establish the same truth. II. But as a farther confirmation of this point, which is highly worthy of being understood, we must remember that Christ was endued with the Holy Spirit in a peculiar manner: in order to separate us from the world, and introduce us into the hope of an eternal inheritance. Hence the Spirit is called “the Spirit of holiness:” (h) not only because he animates and supports us by that general power which is displayed in mankind, and in all other creatures, but because he is the seed and root of a heavenly life within us. The principal topic, therefore, dwelt on by the prophets in celebrating the kingdom of Christ, is, that there would then be a more exuberant effusion of the Spirit. The most remarkable passage is that of Joel: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh in those days.” (i) For, though the prophet seems to restrict the gifts of the Spirit to the exercise of the prophetic function, yet he signifies, in a figurative way, that God, by the illumination of his Spirit, will make those his disciples, who before were total strangers to the heavenly doctrine. Besides, as God the Father gives us
(e) 1 John v. 7, 8. (f) 1 Pet. i. 2. (g) 1 Cor. vi. 11.
his Holy Spirit for the sake of his Son, and has also deposited “all fulness” with his Son, that he might be the minister and dispenser of his goodness; the Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Spirit of the Father, and sometimes the Spirit of the Son. “Ye (says Paul) are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (4) And thence he derives a hope of complete renovation, for “he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (!) For there is no absurdity in ascribing to the Father the praise of his own gifts, of which he is the author; and also ascribing the same glory to Christ, with whom the gifts of the Spirit are deposited, to be given to his people. Therefore he invites all who thirst to come to him and drink. (m) And Paul teaches us, that “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (n) And it must be remarked, that he is called the Spirit of Christ, not only because the eternal Word of God is united with the Father by the same Spirit; but also with respect to his character of Mediator: for, if he had not been endued with this power, his advent to us would have been altogether in vain. In which sense he is called “the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, a quickening Spirit:” (o) where Paul compares the peculiar life with which the Son of God inspires his people, that they may be one with him, to that animal life which is equally common to the reprobate. So, where he wishes to the faithful “the grace of Christ, and the love of God,” he adds also “the communion of the Spirit,” (p) without which there can be no enjoyment of the paternal favour of God, or the beneficence of Christ. As he says also in another place; “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (7) III. And here it will be proper to notice the titles by which the Scripture distinguishes the Spirit, where it treats of the commencement, progress, and completion of our salvation. First, he is called the “Spirit of adoption,” (r) because he witnesses to us the gratuitous benevolence of God, with which
(4) Rom. viii. 9. (1) Rom. viii. 11. (m) John vii. 37. (n) Ephes. iv. 7. (o) 1 Cor. xy. 45, (p) 2 Cor. xiii. 14. (q) Rom. v. 5. (r) Rom. viii. 15.
God the Father hath embraced us in his beloved and onlybegotten Son, that he might be a father to us; and animates us to pray with confidence, and even dictates expressions, so that we may boldly cry, “Abba, Father.” For the same reason, he is said to be “the earnest” and “seal” of our inheritance; because, while we are pilgrims and strangers in the world, and as persons dead, he infuses into us such life from heaven, that we are certain of our salvation being secured by the divine faithfulness and care.(s) Whence he is also said to be “life,” because of righteousness. (t) Since by his secret showers he makes us fertile in producing the fruits of righteousness, he is frequently called “water:” as in Isaiah, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” (u) Again, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” (w) To which corresponds the invitation of Christ, just quoted: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me.” (x) He sometimes, however, receives this appellation from his purifying and cleansing energy; as in Ezekiel, where the Lord promises to sprinkle clean water on his people to cleanse them from their impurities. (y) Because he restores to life and vigour, and continually supports those whom he hath anointed with the oil of his grace, he thence obtains the name of “unction.” (z) Because he daily consumes the vices of our concupiscence, and inflames our hearts with the love of God and the pursuit of piety; from these efforts he is justly called “fire.”(a) Lastly, he is described to us as a “fountain,” whence we receive all the emanation of heavenly riches; and as “the hand of God,” by which he exerts his power: because, by the breath of his power he inspires us with Divine life, so that we are not now actuated from ourselves, but directed by his agency and influence: so, that if there be any good in us, it is the fruit of his grace, whereas our characters without him are darkness of mind, and perverseness of heart. It has indeed already been clearly stated, that till our minds are fixed on the Spirit, Christ remains of no value to us; because we look at him as an object of cold speculation without us, and there
(s) 2. Cor. i. 22. Eph. i. 13, 14. (t) Rom. viii. 10. (u) Isaiah lv. 1. (v) Isaiah xliv. 3. (x) John vii. 37. iv. 14. (y) Ezek. xxxvi. 25. (c) f John ii. 20. (a) Luke iii. 16.
fore at a great distance from us. But we know, that he benefits none but those who have him for their “head” and “elder brother,” and who have “put him on.” (b) This union alone, renders his advent in the character of a Saviour available to us. We learn the same truth from that sacred marriage, by which we are made flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, and therefore one with him. (c) It is only by his Spirit that he unites himself with us; and by the grace and power of the same Spirit we are made his members; that he may keep us with himself, and we may mutually enjoy him. IV. But faith being his principal work, is the object principally referred to in the most frequent expressions of his power and operation; because it is the only medium by which he leads us into the light of the Gospel; according to the declaration of John, that “Christ gave power of privilege to become the sons of God, to them that believed on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God:” (d) where opposing God to flesh and blood, he asserts the reception of Christ by faith by those who would otherwise remain unbelievers, to be a supernatural gift. Similar to which, is this answer of Christ: “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven:”(e) which I now merely mention, because I have elsewhere treated it at large. Similar also is the assertion of Paul, that the Ephesians “were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (f) For this shews, that there is an internal teacher, by whose agency the promise of salvation, which otherwise would only strike the air, or at most our ears, penetrates into our minds. Similar also is his remark, that the Thessalonians were “chosen by God through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth;”(g) by which connection, he briefly suggests, that faith itself proceeds only from the Spirit. John expresses this in plainer terms: “We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (h) Again, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” (i) Therefore
(b) Eph. iv. 15. Rom. viii. 29, Gal. iii. 27. (c) Eph. v. 30. (d) John i. 12, 13. (e) Matt. xvi. 17. (f) Eph. i. 13. (g) 2 Thess. ii. 13. (h) 1 John iii. 24. (i) 1 John iv. 13.
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