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sages, it is plain, that the Holy Ghost is truly and properly God, as well as the Father and the Son. This is an unspeakable mystery, but a mystery of God's revealing, and, therefore to be assented to with our whole hearts ; seeing God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should deceive. I proceed,
Secondly, To prove, that the Holy Ghost is the common privilege of all believers.
But, here I would not be understood to mean the receiving the Holy Ghost, so as to enable us to work miracles, or show outward signs and wonders. I allow our adversaries, that to pretend to be inspired in this sense, is being wise above what is written. Perhaps it cannot be proved, that God ever interposed in this extraordinary manner, but when some new revelation was to be established, as at the first settling of the Mosaic or gospel dispensation : and as for my own part, I cannot but suspect the spirit of those who insist upon a repetition of such miracles at this time. For the world being now become nominally christian, (though God knows, little of its power is left among us) there need not outward miracles, but only an inward co-operation of the Holy Spirit with the word, to prove that Jesus is the Messiah which was to come into the world.
Besides, if it were possible for thee, O man, to have faith, so as to be able to remove mountains, or cast out devils; nay, couldst thou speak with the tongues of men and angels, yea, and bid the sun stand still in the midst of heaven ; what would all these gifts of the Spirit avail thee, without being made partaker of his sanctifying graces ? Saul had the spirit of government for a while, so as to become another man, and yet probably was a cast-away. And many, who cast out devils in Christ's name, at the last will be disowned by him. If, therefore, thou hast only the gifts, and art destitute of the graces of the Holy Ghost, they will only serve to lead thee with so much the more solemnity to hell.
Here then we join issue with our adversaries, and will readily grant, that we are not in this sense to be inspired, as were our Lord's first apostles. But unless men have
which see not and ears that hear not, how can they read the latter part of the text, and not confess that the Holy Spirit in another sense, is the common privilege of all believers, even to the end of the world? “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” Observe, he does not say, they that believe on him for one or two ages, but they that believe on him in general, or, at all times, and in all places. So that, unless we can prove, that St. John was under a delusion when
he wrote these words, we must believe that even we also, shall receive the Holy Ghost, if we believe on the Lord Jesus with our whole hearts.
Again, our Lord, just before his bitter passion, when he was about to offer up his soul an offering for the sins of the elect world; when his heart was most enlarged, and he would undoubtedly demand the most excellent gifts for his disciples, prays, “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;" that is, that all his true followers might be united to him by his Holy Spirit, by as real, vital, and mystical a union, as there was between Jesus Christ and the Father. I say all his true followers; for it is evident, from our Lord's own words, that he had us, and all believers in view, when put he up this prayer; “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;" so that, unless we treat our Lord as the high priests did, and count him a blasphemer, we must confess, that all who believe in Jesus Christ, through the word or ministration of his servants, are to be joined to Jesus Christ, by being made partakers of the Holy Spirit.
A great noise has been made of late, about the word enthusiast, and it has been cast upon the preachers of the gospel, as a term of reproach ; but every christian, in the proper sense of the word, must be an enthusiast ; that is, must be inspired of God, or have God, by his Spirit, in him. St. Peter tells us, we have many great and precious promises, that we may be made partakers of the divine nature; our Lord prays, “that we may be one, as the Father and he are one;" and our own church, in conformity to these texts of scripture, in her excellent communion office, tells us that those who receive the sacrament worthily, "Dwell in Christ, and Christ in them; that they are one with Christ, and Christ with them.” And yet, christians must have their names cast out as evil, and ministers in particular, must be looked upon as deceivers of the people, for affirming, that we must be really united to God, by receiving the Holy Ghost. “Be astonished, 0 heavens, at this !"
Indeed, I will not say, all our letter-learned preachers deny this doctrine in express words; but they do however, in effect; for they talk professedly against inward feelings, and say we may have God's Spirit without feeling it, which is, in reality, to deny the thing itself. And had I a mind to hinder the progress of the gospel, and to establish the kingdom of darkness, I would go about telling people, they might have the Spirit of God and yet not feel it.
But to return. When our Lord was about to ascend to his
Father and our Father, to his God and our God, he gave his apostles this commission, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”. And accordingly, by the authority of this commission, we do teach and baptize in this, and every age of the church. And though we translate the words, “baptizing them in the name;" yet, as the name of God, in the Lord's prayer, and several other places, signifies his nature, they might as well be translated thus, - baptizing them into the nature of the Father, into the nature of the Son, and into the nature of the Holy Ghost." Consequently if we are all to be baptized into the nature of the Holy Ghost, before our baptism be effectual to salvation, it is evident, that we all must actually receive the Holy Ghost, ere we can say, we truly believe in Jesus Christ. For no one can say, that Jesus is my Lord, but he that has thus received the Holy Ghost.
Numbers of other texts might be quoted to make this doctrine, if possible, still more plain; but I am astonished, that any who call themselves members; much more, that many who are preachers in the Church of England, should dare so much as to open their lips against it. And yet, with grief I speak it, God is my judge, persons of the established church seem more generally to be ignorant of it than any dissenters whatsoever.
But my dear brethren, what have you been doing? How often have your hearts given your lips the lie? How often have you offered to God the sacrifice of fools, and had your prayers turned into sin, if you approve of, and use our church liturgy, and yet deny the Holy Spirit to be the portion of all believers ? in the daily absolution, the minister exhorts the people to pray, that "God would grant them repentance, and his Holy Spirit.” In the collect for Christmas day, we beseech God," that he would daily renew us by his Holy Spirit.” In the last week's collect, we prayed “ that we may evermore rejoice in the comforts of the Holy Ghost ;” and in the concluding prayer, which we put up every day, we pray, not only that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, but that “the fellowship of the Holy Ghost” may be with us all
But farther, a solemn season to some, is now approaching : I mean the Ember-days, at the end of which, all that are to be ordained to the office of a deacon, are, in the sight of God, and in the presence of the congregation, to declare, that they trust they are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, to take upon them that adm istration; and those who are to be ordained priests, the bishop is to repeat these solemn words: “Receive thou the Holy Ghost, now committed unto thee by the imposition
of our hands.” . And yet, О that I had no reason to speak it, many that use our good forms, and many who have witnessed this good confession, yet dare to both talk and preach against the necessity of receiving the Holy Ghost now; and not only so, but cry out against those who do insist upon it, as madmen, enthusiasts, schismatics, and underminers of the established constitution.
But you are the schismatics, you are the bane of the Church of England, who are always crying out, “ the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord" and yet starve the people out of our communion, by feeding them only with the dry husks of dead morality, and not bringing out to them the fatted calf; I mean, the doctrines of the operations of the blessed Spirit of God. But here is the misfortune; many of us are not led by, and therefore, no wonder that we cannot talk feelingly of the Holy Ghost; we subscribe to our articles, and make them serve for a key to get into church preferment, and then preach contrary to those very articles to which we have subscribed. Far be it from me, to charge all the clergy with this hateful hypocrisy. No, blessed be God, there are some left among us who dare maintain the doctrines of the reformation, and preach the truth as it is in Jesus. But I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not; the generality of the clergy are fallen from our articles, and do not speak agreeably to them, or to the form of sound words delivered in the scriptures. Wo be unto such blind leaders of the blind! How can you escape the damnation of hell? It is not all your learning, (falsely so called) it is not ail your preferments can keep you from the just judgment of God. Yet a little while, and we shall all appear before the tribunal of Christ ; there, there will I meet you; there Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, shall determine who are the false prophets, who are the wolves in sheep's clothing; those who say, that we must now receive and feel the Holy Ghost, or those who exclaim against it, as the doctrine of devils.
But I can say no more ; it is an unpleasant task to censure any order of men, especially those who are in the ministry; nor would any thing excuse it but necessity; that necessity which extorted from our Lord himself, so many woes against the scribes and pharisees, the letter-learned rulers and teachers of the Jewish church; and surely, if I could bear to see people perish for lack of knowledge, and yet be silent towards those who keep from them the key of true knowledge, the very stones would cry out.
Would we restore the church to its primitive dignity, the only way is to live and preach the doctrine of Christ, and the
articles to which we have subscribed ; then we shall find that the number of dissenters will daily decrease, and the Church of England become the joy of the whole earth.
I am, in the third place, to show the reasonableness of this doctrine. I
say the reasonableness of this doctrine; for however it may seem foolishness to the natural man, yet to those, who have tasted of the good word of life, and have felt the power of the world to come, it will appear to be founded on the highest reason; and is capable, to those who have eyes to see, even of a demonstration. I say of demonstration, for it stands on this self-evident truth, that we are fallen creatures, or, to use the scriptural expression, “Have all died in Adam.”
I know, indeed, it is now no uncommon thing among us, to deny the doctrine of original sin, as well as the divinity of Jesus Christ; but it is incumbent on those who deny it, first to disprove the authority of the holy scriptures. If thou canst prove, thou unbeliever, that the book which we call the Bible, does not contain the lively oracles of God; if thou canst show, that holy men of old did not write this book, as they were inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, then will we give up the doctrine of original sin; but unless thou canst do this, we must insist upon it, that we are all conceived and born in sin; if for no other, yet for this one reason, because that God who cannot lie, has told us so.
But what has light to do with darkness, or polite infidels with the Bible! Alas! as they are strangers to the power, so they are generally as great strangers to the word of God. And therefore, if we will preach to them, we must preach to and from the heart: for talking in the language of scripture to them, is but like talking in an unknown tongue. Tell me, then, O man, whoever thou art, that deniest the doctrine of original sin, if thy conscience be not seared as with a hot iron; tell me, if thou dost not find thyself, by nature, to be a motley mixture of brute and devil ? I know these terms will stir up the whole pharisee in thy heart! But let not Satan hurry thee hence; stop a little, and let us reason together; dost thou not find, that by nature thou art prone to pride? otherwise wherefore art thou now offended ? Again, dost not thou find in thyself the seeds of malice, revenge, and all uncharitableness? And what are these but the very tempers of the devil ? Again, do we not all by nature follow, and suffer ourselves to be led by our natural appetites, always looking downwards, never looking upwards to that God, in whom we live, move and have our being? And what is this but the very nature of the beasts that perish? Out of thy own heart, therefore, will I oblige thee to