« AnteriorContinuar »
pledge that the whole covenant will be executed at the time agreed. The gifts of the Spirit were an earnest that our bodies shall be raised from the dead, as Jesus Christ's was, and a proof of his being exalted to be a Prince, and a Saviour; &c. and were designed to aid in establishing the Gospel in its first promulgation after the ascension of Jesus Christ. Agreeable to these ideas, Paul tells the Galatians, according to Macknight's translation, and commentary, Because ye are sons, (that is, ye believing Jews, and Gentiles, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, by whose gifts, being assured that ye are God's sons, ye can address him in prayer with confidence, calling him, each in your own language, Abba, Father. Gal. 4. 6. This is the same Spirit which they had received by the hearing of faith, by which their acceptance with God was sealed. Gal. 3. 2. As Christ himself was declared to be the Son of God, by the descent of the Spirit upon him at his baptism, so the spiritual gifts, called the Spirit or the Holy Ghost, Acts 10. 44. bestowed in the Apostolic day on believers at their baptism, demonstrated them to be the sons or people of God, and heirs of the promises. Gal. 4.5-6. Hence the Spirit, from whom these gifts proceeded, is called the Spirit of adoption. Rom. 8. 15. Hence, also, the Jewish believers, when they heard of the descent of the Holy Ghost on Cornelius, and his company, immediately concluded that God had granted unto them eternal life, although uncircum. cised. Agreeably to the same import of those gifts of the Spirit, Paul addresses the Romans in the following manner, according to Macknight's translation, and commentary, 8, 15. 16.: «That ye Romans are the sons of God appears from your dispositions-For ye have not received the spiri of slaves to serve God from fear; that disposition the law produces; but through the discovery of the mercy of God in the Gospel, ye have received the spirit of children, by which, in your prayers, you call him Father, each in your own language: also the Spirit itself, bestowed on us in his extraordinary operations, beareth witness along with the filial dispositions of our own minds, that we are the children of God.” It was in reference to the gifts of the Spirit in discerning of spirits, that John writes in his first Epistle, 2.
27;” “the anointing which ye have received of him abi. deth in you; and ye need not that any man should teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” None but those who had receiv. ed the gift of discerning spirits, and were thereby enabled to distinguish between the true, and false teachers, or AntiChrist, were meant by John in the above passage. The quakers profess to derive their authority for immediate revelations, &c. from this part of John's Epistle, and refer to 1. Corinth. 12. 10. as additional proof of the same illumination. This pretension, however, neither in the quakers, shakers, or any other denomination, can be regarded as true, until they exhibit the proofs which those persons, possessed of them in the Apostolic day, were, by the Holy Ghost, enabled to do, by sensible miracles. Until they can do this, they ought to be contented to learn what the Spirit has revealed, out of his word; and to suspect their supposed revelations, as consisting in nothing more than the delusions of passion, and imagination.
All the diversified gifts of the Spirit in the Apostolic day, by which their
possessors were enabled to work miracles; to prophecy; to discern Spirits; to speak in divers kinds of tongues; and to interpretate tongues; &c. were the promise of the Father, which Christ told the disciples they should receive, who believed on him after he was glorified. His language is, “He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he, of the Spirit, which THEY THAT BELIEVE ON HIM SHOULD RECEIVE; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7. 38. 39. After he was crucified, and had risen, and before he ascended, he commissioned his disciples to go, and preach the Gospel to every creature, telling them that “he that believeth, (by their preaching) and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that besieveth not, shall be damned. And these signs shall follow thein that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues, &c. Mark 16. 15-18. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. v. 20. The gifts of the Spirit were called, when received, the sealing of the Spirit; the earnest of the Spirit; the unction of the Holy Ghost, &c. by which the truths of the Gospel, and their divine authority; and the right, and power of the Apostles to establish, teach, and gov. ern the churches, were demonstrated; and by which they who received him were taught by immediate revelation, and declared the sons of God. . Although the sealings, earnests, and anointings of the Spirit, which were realized, as above explained, in the Apostolic day, have long since ceased; yet, they were written, that we may believe the same truths, for the establishment, and progress of which they were originally bestowed. The only certain, and scriptural evidence that persons can have of acceptance with God in our day, is in repentance towards him, required by the word of God; faith in Jesus Christ, produced by the teachings, and testimony of the Spirit in the scripture; and a life of new obedience, manifesting the fruits of the Spirit, described in Gal. 5. 22-24. their conscience also bearing witness, enlightened, and regulated by the word of God; which is the mean, since immediate revelation ceased, of the Spirit's communications to the heart, as it is through faith, by the word, that man as an intelligent moral being, holds converse with God.
It may not be amiss here to introduce the judgment of the great Biblical Critic, and Lexicographer, Parkhurst; relative to the use of the term “Charis, or grace, in the operations of the Spirit, in the writings of the Apostles. The judgment of this great man is, in opposition to a pre-conceived opinion, which he had formed; and which is a predominant one in the systems of many modern divines; it seems to have been produced by a particular examination of the use of the term. “Charis,or grace, (he observes) denotes the gracious and unmerited assistance of the Holy Spirit in his miraculous gifts. But though I firmly believe his blessed operations or influences on the hearts of ordinary believers in general;” (by immediate operations, and agencies, I suppose,) “yet, that charis or grace is ever in the New Testament used particularly for these, is more than I dare, after attentive examination, assert.” These miraculous operations have ceased, because the necessity of them has ceased; but the ideas, and knowledge which the revelations, and miracles of the Spirit recorded, impart to the mind; and the religious exercises to which they lead, and the dispositions of heart which they produce by their proper use, are not less divine, supernatural, and gracious, than if they were the consequence of the immediate revelations, and physical operations of the Holy Spirit. This decision of Mr. Parkhurst, after a careful examination, is agreeable to what I formerly remarked upon the distinction which divines make between the operations of the Spirit, his reve. lations, &c. as recorded; and those which they contend exist in dur day, which they call special. That observation was, that "faith in Jesus Christ never has been produced, nor will it ever be, by any other than the miraculous operations, and supernatural revelations of the Spirit, which are recorded.” The gracious, and unmerited assistance of the Holy Ghost, in his miraculous gifts, and operations, by which we are enabled to believe, are committed to record
-that record contains the propositions to be learnt, and believed; and the evidence by which alone they can be believed: these are the means (and well suited for the purposes, to be sure they are,) which God has established for spiritual knowledge, and faith in Jesus Christ. The providences of God; and all the distresses, the pains, and sorrows, &c. which are incidental to humanity in its fallen state, which are the fruits, and wages of sin, are, under the means of Gospel instruction, indispensable auxiliaries in producing attention, teachableness, &c. Special operations, as distinguished from miraculous ones,'have nothing to do in the business—they are of human device, and anti-scriptural. The true ones are all miraculous, and supernatural; and “are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The belief or rejection of the truth does not change it; or alter the terms in which it is offered; or the evidence by which it supports itself. *God has given us no other revelations of his Spirit, than what are written; nor has he tendered any other evidence by which he requires them to be believed, than what are of record.
Paul said to the Galatians, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal. l. 8. That Gospel was established by miracles, as it was taught by the inspirations of the Spirit; they are both written for our instruction, and belief, aided in their efficiency, as above remarked, by God's providences, &c. Nothing appears to me more preposterous than to attach to the operations of God in the Gospel, a character which is derived solely from the conduct of men, in either hearing or forbearing; investigating, and believing; or neglecting, and rejecting it. Were it merely absurd, it would be less objectionable; it transposes the caprice, and inattention of man; and the rejection of the Gospel by him, to the account of God; it involves the impiety of charging God with withholding either the necessary means of grace, or his own agencies in order to faith, while he declares the contrary. The scriptural doctrine of the operations, and agencies of the Spirit, has been sufficiently developed in the preceding Sections; which contain an account of the operations of the Spirit in the Apostolic day, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles; which were the fulfilment of Christ's promises respecting them. The particular account of the manner, and character of the operations of the Spirit, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, explains the correct meaning of what the Apostles wrote in their Epistles concerning them; all of which prove the absurdity of many of the opinions which at this time exist upon the subject, as to the manner, nature, and design of them. However strange it may appear to those who entertain these opinions, it is a demonstrable truth that they are the most effectual cause why the Gospel is neglected, and rejected by so many persons in christian countries, where the Gospel is preached. Were it not for this, I would not agitate the subject. I do not charge these errors against any particular denomination. They obtained in the church immediately after the miraculous operations ceased; and have continued ever since, in some form or other; and will, I suppose, continue, until the twelve hundred and sixty years close. They have been one