Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

where the members of the body were instrumental of the miracle, as in the gift of tongues ; they who had that gift, did not speak from any skill residing in them, but they were merely organs of the Holy Ghost, which he moved at his pleasure. The design of all these operations was to confirm their ministry. Thus when God sent Moses to declare his will to Israel, he commands him to work miracles, that they might believe he was sent of God (Exod. iv. 8.); and these were called Signs, because they were 'tokens of the presence of God. And these are the general heads of the extraordinary operations of the Spirit, exceeding all human or natural abilities.

But besides these, there were other operations of the Spirit, whereby he improved and exalted the natural faculties of men for special purposes; and these have respect to things political, moral, natural, and intellectual.

1. Political gists were bestowed on persons, whereby they were formed for civil government. Government, among men, is of great concernment to the glory of God and the welfare of society ; without it, the whole world would be a scene of violence, wickedness, and confusion. Now all will allow that peculiar abilities are requisite for this purpose. Those who are in authority should diligently cultivate them; or the world and themselves will soon feel the effects of their negligence. But because the utmost of what men may attain by ordinary means, is

the matter from Pike's Philosophia Sacra, p. 47. • The place now quoted has been constantly brought as an objection against the Seripture's allowing the motion of the earth; and is insisted on as a proof, that the Scriptures assert the motion of the sun round the earth. But I conceive that this mistake arises from quoting the place imperfectly; "Tis usually said, -Does not Joshua say, Sun, stand thou still?' and the next words are generally dropped ; whereas it runs thus : • Sun, stand thou still in Gibeon ; and thou Moon, in the valley of Ajalon." Now I ask, Was the body of the sun in Gibeon, or the body of the moon in the valley of Ajaion ? Surely, No: but the light proceeding from the sun, and the light reflected from the moon were both there. Joshua means, not the bodies, but the lights of the sun and moon, which were made to remain for a time in the same situation in Gibeon and Ajalon. And this was effected by a miraculous power, without making any alteration in the bodies of the sun, moon, or earth. The Hebrew words, Shemesh and Farah, mean the light of the sun and

moon, &c.

not sufficient for some special ends which God designed by their government, the Holy Ghost sometimes gave a special improvement to their mental abilities, and which was sometimes manifested by external signs. Thus, when the Sanhedrim was first appointed for the assistance of Moses, “the Lord said, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, and I will take of the Spirit that is upon thee, and put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee. And the Lord took of the Spirit that was on Moses, and gave it to the seventy elders; and the Spirit rested on them.' Numb. xi. 16, 17. 25. So when God would erect a new kind of goFernment among them, and designed Saul to be tlteir king, he gave him another heart;' being called fronr a low condition to royal dignity, the Spirit of God endowed him with wisdom and magnanimity fit for his high office. And this was accompanied with a visible token, an extraordinary afflatus, that the people might acquiesce in his appointment. 1 Sam. x. 9. For the same reason he instituted the anointing of kings; for it was a token of the communication of the gifts of the Spirit. And indeed, so great is the burden with which a just and useful government is attended, so great are the temptations arising from power and riches, that without special assistance, men will either sink under its weight, or miscarry in its management. This made Solomon prefer wisdom (for rule) before every other blessing; and if the rulers of the earth would follow his example, and earnestly pray for the supplies of the Spirit, it would be better with them and the han it commonly is. God sometimes carried this dispensation beyond the pale of the church ; and I doubt not he continues so to do. Tbus he anointed Cyrus (Isa. xlv. 1.) who had a great work to do for God; for he was to execute his judgments on Babylon, and to deliver his people ; for both these purposes he needed special aid from the Spirit, though in himself he was but a ravenous bird of prey.' Isa. xlvi. 11. How many on whom these gifts are bestowed, Never consider their Author ; but sacrifice to their own nets, and look on themselves as the springs of all their wisdom and ability! But it is no wonder that all regard to the gifts. of the Spirit in the government of the world

[ocr errors]

is despised, when his whole work, as to the church itself, is openly derided !

2. We may add those moral virtues which were granted to some persons for the accomplishment of particular designs. So he came upon Gideon and Jephthah, to qualify them for delivering his people from their enemies. Judges vi. 34. and xi. 29. It is said before of them, that they were men of valour.' This coming of the Spirit upon them, was his special excitation of their courage, and fortifying their minds against danger ; and this he did by such an efficacious impression of his power, that themselves received a full confirmation of their call, and others might discern the presence of God with them. Hence it is said, the Spirit of God clothed them;' they being warmed themselves, and known to others by his gifts.

3. There are several instances of his adding to the gifts of the mind, whereby he qualified persons for their duties, even bodily strength, when that also was needful. Such was his gift to Samson. His bodily strength was supernatural, and therefore when he put it forth, it is said, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, or wrought powerfully in him. And he gave him this strength in the way of an ordinance, appointing the growing of his hair to be the pledge of it; the care of which being violated, he lost for a season the gift itself. Judges xiv, 6. xv. 14.

4. Intellectual gifts were also communicated to some persons. So he endowed Bezaliel and Aholiab with wisdom and skill in all manner of curious workmanship, for the building and beautifying the tabernacle. Exod. xxxi. 2, 3.

Whether Bezaliel had before given himself to the acquisition of those arts is uncertain; but his present endowments were certainly extraordinary. The Spirit of God improved and strengthened his natural faculties to a perception of those curious works, with skill to contrive and dispose of them according to the order appointed by God himself.

And thus I have briefly passed through the dispensation of the Spirit under the Old Testament, nor have I aimed to gather up his whole work ; for then every thing

that is praise-worthy in the church must have been en:quired into ; for without him, all is death, and darkness,

i and sin: but these instances are sufficient to prove that

the being and welfare of the church depended solely on his operations. From him was the word of promise, the gift of prophecy, the revelation and institution of all the ordinances of worship, and all those gifts and abilities which any received for the rule, protection, and deliverance of the church. And if this was the state of things under the Old Testament, a judgment may thence be formed how it is under the New ; the principal advantage of which, next to the coming of Christ, is the pouring out of the Spirit in a larger measure than before. And yet some men think that neither he nor his work are of any great use to us; and though we find every thing that is good, even under the Old Testament, assigned to him, it is hård to persuade some persons that he continues now to do any good at all :-o adverse are the thoughts of God and men in these things, where our thoughts are not captivated to the obedience of faith.

CHAPTER II.

General Dispensations of the Holy Spirit, with respect to

the New Creation.

W

E now proceed to the principal part of our work,

the Dispensation of the Spirit with respect to the Gospel, or the New Creation of all things in and by Jesus Christ ;--and this demands our most diligent enquiry ; nor is there any more important principle in the Christian religion. The doctrine of the being and unity of God is common to us with the rest of mankind : the doctrine of the Trinity was known to all who enjoyed divine revelation, even under the Old Testament: the incarnation of the Son of God was promised and expected from the first entrance of sin: but this dispensation of the Spirit is so peculiar to the New Testament, that the evangelist, speaking of it, says, “the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified' (John vii. 39.); and the disciples of John knew not " whether there were any Holy Ghost' (Acts x. 2): both which sayings respect this his dispensation ; for he did not then begin to be, nor were they ignorant of his existence. To stir us up therefore to diligence in this enquiry, I shall propose a few additional considerations.

1. The plentiful effusion of the Spirit is the great privilege and pre-eminence of the Gospel-church state. The coming of Christ in the flesh, was the great promise of the Old Testament ; but he was so to come, as to put an end to that whole church-state, wherein his coming was expected. But this promise of the Spirit was to be the foundation of another church-state, and the means of its continuance. If, therefore, we have any interest in the Gospel itself, let us attend to these things.

2. The ministry of the Gospel, whereby we are be. gotten again, is, from his promised presence with it and work in it, called the Ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor. iii. 6.) in opposition to the ministration of the law;' in which, however, there was a multitude of ordinances of worship and glorious ceremonies. And he who knows no more of the Ministry of the Gospel than what consists in an attendance to the letter of institutions, knows nothing of it. Not that there is any extraordinary inspiration now pretended to by us—but there is that presence of the Spirit of God with the ministry of the Gospel, in his assistance, communication of gifts and abilities, guidance, and direction, without which it is useless and unprofitable.

5. The promise and gift of the Spirit, under the Gospel, is not granted to any peculiar sort of persons, but to all believers, as their conditions and occasions require. The Papists would confine this promise to their Pope and councils; but it is the common concern of all believers in their places and stations ; of all churches in their order; and of all ministers in their office. It is true that his extraordinary effects which were necessary for laying the foundation of the church, have ceased; but the whole work of his grace is no less carried on at this day than it was on the day of Pentecost; and so is his communication of gifts for the edification of the church.

Eph. iv. -10, &c.

The owning therefore of the work of the Spirit, is the principal part of that profession to which all believers are called,

« AnteriorContinuar »