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raculous operations. So expressly, chap. x. 45. xi. 17. Elsewhere, Swped, so far as I can observe, when respecting God, doth not signify the thing given, but the grant itself. The Holy Spirit is signally the gift of God under the New Testament.
And he is said to be rovρávioç, 'heavenly,' or from heaven. This may have respect unto his work and effect, they are heavenly as opposed to carnal and earthly. But principally it regards his mission by Christ after his ascension into heaven, Acts ii. 33. Being exalted and having received the promise of the Father, he sent the Spirit.' The promise of him was, that he should be sent from heaven, or bynn, 'from above,' as God is said to be above, which is the same with heavenly;' Deut. iv. 39. 2 Chron. v. 23. Job xxxi. 2. 8. Isa. ii. 2. 15. ¤, and chap. xlv. 8. When he came upon the Lord Christ to anoint him for his work, the heavens were opened,' and he came from above, Matt. iii. 16. so Acts ii. 2. At his first coming on the apostles, there came a sound from heaven.' Hence he is said to be aroσraλεὶς ἀπ ̓ οὐρανοῦ, that is, to be ἡ δωρεὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἡ ἐπουράνιος, 'sent from heaven;' 1 Pet. i. 12. Wherefore, although he may be said to be heavenly' upon other accounts also, which therefore are not absolutely to be excluded, yet his being sent from heaven by Christ, after his ascension thither, and exaltation there, is principally here regarded. He therefore is this n Swρean iπouρávios, the 'heavenly gift' here intended, though not absolutely, but with respect unto an especial work.
That which riseth up against this interpretation, is, that the Holy Ghost is expressly mentioned in the next clause ; 'And were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.' It is not therefore probable that he should be here also intended.
Ans. 1. It is ordinary to have the same thing twice expressed in various words, to quicken the sense of them; and it is necessary it should be so, when there are divers respects unto the same thing; as there are in this place.
2. The following clause may be exegetical of this, declaring more fully and plainly what is here intended, which is usual also in the Scripture; so that nothing is cogent from this consideration, to disprove an interpretation so
suited to the sense of the place, and which the constant use of the word makes necessary to be embraced. But,
3. The Holy Ghost is here mentioned as the great gift of the gospel times, as coming down from heaven, not absolutely, not as unto his person, but with respect unto an especial work; namely, the change of the whole state of religious worship in the church of God; whereas, we shall see in the next words, he is spoken of only with respect unto external actual operations. But he was the great, the promised heavenly gift, to be bestowed under the New Testament, by whom God would institute and ordain a new way, and new rites of worship, upon the revelation of himself and will in Christ. Unto him was committed the reformation of all things in the church, whose time was now come; chap. ix. 10. The Lord Christ when he ascended into heaven, left all things standing and continuing in religious worship, as they had done from the days of Moses; though he had virtually put an end unto it. And he commanded his disciples, that they should attempt no alteration therein, until the Holy Ghost were sent from heaven to enable them thereunto, Acts i. 4, 5. But when he came as the great gift of God, promised under the New Testament, he removes all the carnal worship and ordinances of Moses, and that by the full revelation of the accomplishment of all that was signified by them; and appoints the new, holy, spiritual worship of the gospel, that was to succeed in their room. The Spirit of God, therefore, as bestowed for the introduction of the new gospel state, in truth and worship, is the heavenly gift here intended. Thus our apostle warneth these Hebrews, that they turn not away from him who speaketh from heaven;' chap. xii. 25. that is, Jesus Christ speaking in the dispensation of the gospel by the 'Holy Ghost sent from heaven.' And there is an antithesis included herein, between the law and the gospel; the former being given on earth, the latter being immediately from heaven. God in giving of the law made use of the ministry of angels, and that on the earth; but he gave the gospel church state, by that Spirit, which although he worketh on men in earth, and is said in every act or work to be sent from heaven, yet is he still in heaven, and always speaketh
from thence; as our Saviour said of himself, with respect, unto his divine nature, John iii. 13.
2. We may inquire, what it is to taste' of this heavenly gift. The expression of tasting' is metaphorical, and signifies no more but to make a trial or experiment; for so we do by tasting, naturally and properly of that which is tendered unto us to eat. We taste such things by the sense given us to discern our food, and then either receive or refuse them as we find occasion. It doth not therefore include eating, much less digestion and turning into nourishment of what is so tasted. For its nature being only thereby discerned, it may be refused, yea, though we like its relish and savour upon some other consideration. Some have observed, that to taste, is as much as to eat; as 2 Sam. iii. 35. I will not taste bread, or aught else.' But the meaning is, I will not so much as taste it, whence it was impossible he should eat it. And when Jonathan says, that he only tasted a little of the honey, 1 Sam. xiv. 29. it was an excuse and extenuation of what he had done. But it is unquestionably used for some kind of experience of the nature of things, Prov. xxxi. 18. пn May, 'She tasteth that her merchandise is good;' or hath experience of it, from its increase: Psal. xxxiv. 8. O taste and see that the Lord is good;' which Peter respects, 1 Epist. ii. 3. If so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious;' or found it so by experience. It is therefore properly to make an experiment or trial of any thing, whether it be received or refused; and is sometimes opposed to eating and digestion, as Matt. xxvii. 34. That therefore which is ascribed unto these persons, is, that they had had an experience of the power of the Holy Ghost, that gift of God, in the dispensation of the gospel, the revelation of the truth, and institution of the spiritual worship of it; of this state, and of the excellency of it, they had made some trial, and had some experience; a privilege that all men were not made partakers of. And by this taste they were convinced, that it was far more excellent, than what they had been before accustomed unto, although now they had a mind to leave the finest wheat for their old acorns. Wherefore, although tasting contain a diminution in it, if compared with that spiritual eating and drinking, with that digestion of
gospel truths, turning them into nourishment, which are in true believers; yet, absolutely considered, it denotes that apprehension and experience of the excellency of the gospel as administered by the Spirit, which is a great privilege and spiritual advantage, the contempt whereof will prove an unspeakable aggravation of the sin, and the remediless ruin of apostates. The meaning then of this character given concerning these apostates, is, that they had some experience of the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit from heaven, in gospel administrations and worship. For what some say of faith, it hath here no place; and what others affirm of Christ, and his being the gift of God, comes in the issue unto what we have proposed. And we may observe, farther to clear the design of the apostle in this commination,
I. That all the gifts of God under the gospel are peculiarly heavenly; John iii. 12. Eph. i. 3. and that in opposition, 1. To earthly things; Coloss. iii. 11, 12. 2. To carnal ordinances, Heb. ix. 23. let them beware by whom they are despised.
II. The Holy Ghost, for the revelation of the mysteries of the gospel, and the institution of the ordinances of spiritual worship, is the great gift of God under the New Tes
III. There is a goodness and excellency in this heavenly gift, which may be tasted or experienced in some measure by such as never receive them, in their life, power, and efficacy. They may taste, 1. Of the word, in its truth, not its power; 2. Of the worship of the church, in its outward order, not its inward beauty; 3. Of the gifts of the church, not its graces.
IV. A rejection of the gospel, its truth and worship, after some experience had of their worth and excellency, is a high aggravation of sin, and a certain presage of de
The third property whereby these persons are described is added in those words; καὶ μετόχους γενηθέντας Πνεύματος ἁγίου ; ' and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.' This is placed in the middle or centre of the privileges enumerated, two preceding it, and two following after; as that which is the root and animating principle of them all.
They all are effects of the Holy Ghost, in his gifts or his graces, and so do depend on the participation of him. Now men do so partake of the Holy Ghost, as they do receive him. And he may be received either as unto personal inhabitation, or as unto spiritual operations. In the first way the 'world cannot receive him;' John xiv. 17. where the world is opposed unto true believers, and therefore these here intended were not in that sense partakers of him. His operations respect his gifts. So to partake of him, is to have a part, share, or portion, in what he distributes by way of spiritual gifts; in answer unto that expression, 'All these worketh that one and selfsame spirit, dividing unto every one severally as he will;' 1 Cor. xii. 11. So Peter told Simon the magician, that he had no part in spiritual gifts, he was not partaker of the Holy Ghost; Acts viii. 21. Wherefore, to be partaker of the Holy Ghost, is to have a share in, and benefit of, his spiritual operations.
But, whereas the other things mentioned, are also gifts or operations of the Holy Ghost, on what ground or for what reason, is this mentioned here in particular, that they were made partakers of him, which, if his operations only be intended, seems to be expressed in the other instances?
Ans. 1. It is, as we observed before, no unusual thing in the Scripture, to express the same thing under various notions, the more effectually to impress a consideration and sense of it on our mind; especially where an expression hath a singular emphasis in it, as this hath here used: For, it is an exceeding aggravation of the sins of these apostates, that in these things they were partakers of the Holy Ghost.
2. As was before intimated also, this participation of the Holy Ghost, is placed it may be in the midst of the several parts of this description, as that whereon they do all depend, and they are all but instances of it. They were partakers of the Holy Ghost, in that they were once enlightened, and so of the rest.
3. It expresseth their own personal interest in these things. They had an interest in the things mentioned not only objectively, as they were proposed and presented to them in the church; but subjectively they themselves in