Page images



Article VIII. I believe in the Holy Ghoft.


HE former Articles having expreffed the Belief of Chriftians concerning the two firft Perfons of the facred Trinity, the Father and the Son; our Creed proceeds in this to the third Object of our baptifmal Faith, the Holy Ghoft. And to explain it properly, there will be Need to fpeak, firft, of his Nature: fecondly, of his peculiar Office in the Work of our Redemption thirdly, of the Duties owing to him: fourthly, of the Sins, which we are liable to commit against him.

I. Of the Nature of the Holy Ghoft, or Spirit. For Ghoft, in the ancient Ufe of our Language, denoted the fame Thing, which Spirit doth now: a Subftance different from Body or Matter. Indeed we ftill use it, in expreffing the Departure of the Spirit from the Body, which we call, giving up the Ghoft; and in fpeaking of fuppofed Apparitions of the Spirits of Perfons after their Decease. Hence alfo the Catechifm mentions ghoftly Dangers; and the Communion Service, ghoftly Counfels: meaning fuch Dangers, and fuch Counfels, as relate to our fpiritual Part.


In like Manner, the Holy Ghoft is the Holy Spirit : concerning whofe Nature, we can know, as I told you before concerning that of the Son, only what refults from the Discoveries made to us in Scripture. And thefe, though they enlighten us but in Part, are both credible and fufficient. For it is no Objection against believing what God hath revealed in relation to any Subject, that many Questions may be asked about what


he hath not revealed, to which we can give no Answer. And he will never expect us, in this or any Matter, to apprehend more, than he hath afforded us the Means of apprehending. Now the chief Things, revealed in the prefent Cafe, are the following.

The Holy Ghoft is not merely an Attribute or Power of the Father, but hath a real Subfiftence, diftinct both from the Father and the Son. For the New Testament exprefsly and repeatedly uses the Word, he, concerning him which is never ufed in that Manner of a mere Attribute or Power. It afcribes to him Will and Understanding it fpeaks of him as being fent by the Father, coming and acting on various Occafions, relative both to the Son and to others; nay, as fhewing himself in a bodily Shape, like a Dove “.


Further: The Holy Ghoft is, truly and strictly speaking, God. For the Language of Scripture concerning him is fuch, as cannot belong to any created Being. He is there called, the eternal Spirit, the Lorde: faid to quicken or give Life; to be every where present with all good Chriftians; to fearch all Things, yea, the deep Things of God, even as the Things of a Man are known by his own Spirit, which is in him. Chrift, being conceived by him, became the Son of God. Chriftians, by. his dwelling in them, become the Temples of the Holy Ghoft, or, as another Place expreffes it, the Temples of God'. Ananias, by lying to him, lyed not unto Men, but unto God. He is faid to diftribute fpiritual and miraculous Gifts, dividing to every Man feverally, as he will. And as the Difciples miniftered to the Lord and fafted, the Holy Ghoft faid, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the Work whereunto I have called them. He is reprefented by our Saviour, as able fully to fupply the Want

[blocks in formation]

Rom. viii. 27. Heb. ii. 4.

d Heb. ix. 14.


• John xiv. 16, 17.

k 1 Cor. vi. 19. n 1 Cof. xii. II.

f 1 Pet.

Luke iii. 22.

iii. 18.
i Luke i. 35.
m. Acts v. 3, 4

[ocr errors]

of his perfonal Prefence with the Apoftles P. And laftly he is joined with the Father and the Son, on equal Terms, both in the Form of Baptifm, where his Name and theirs are used alike; and in the folemn Form of Bleffing, where the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost is placed on a Level with the Love of God, and the Grace of our Lord Jefus Chrift.

Thele, and many other Scripture Expreffions, are furely fuch, as cannot be ufed of any Creature: but prove the Spirit, as others, already mentioned to you, prove the Son, to partake of the fame Authority and Perfections, and therefore the fame Nature, with the Father. Yet we know, that though in holy Writ Men and Angels are, fometimes on Account of their exten five Power, fometimes as Reprefentatives of the Deity, called Gods, yet in literal Propriety of Speech there is hut one God, and not either three fupreme Beings, or a fuperior and inferior Object of Adoration. Hear, O Ifrael, the Lard our God is one Lords. Is there a God befides me? yea, there is no God: I know not any. Before me was no God formed: neither fhall there be after me". I am the Lord, and my Glory will I not give to another" Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only fhalt thou Serve. Since then there is not a Plurality of Gods; and yet the Son and Spirit are each of them God, no lefs than the Father: it plainly follows, that they are, in a Manner by us inconceivable, fo united to him, that thefe three are one; but still, in a Manner equally inconceivable, fo diftinguished from him, that no one of them is the other.

Now certainly, in general, it is no Contradiction, that Things fhould be in one Refpect the fame, and in another different. But the particular and explicit Notion of this Union and this Diftinction the Word of

[ocr errors]

God hath not given us. Whether we are capable of apprehending it, we know not: and therefore it is no

⚫ John xvi. 7. • Deut. vi. 4. * Matth. iv. 10.

9 Matth. xxviii. 19. t Ifa. xliv. 8.

Y I John v. 7.

u Ifa. xliii. 10.

Cor. xiii. 14, w Ifa. xlii. 8.


[merged small][ocr errors]

Wonder in the leaft, that we are incapable of forming one to ourselves. For indeed we are incapable of forming clear Notions concerning thousands of other Things, which are unspeakably lefs beyond our Reach. All that we can do therefore is, to ufe thofe Expreffions in relation to it, which either Scripture furnishes, or Experience hath found ufeful to guard against falfe Apprehenfions: for with very imperfect ones we must be content. Thus in fpeaking of the Difference of the Son and Spirit from the Father and from each other, we say, with our Bible, that the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeds, without pretending to know any further, what thefe two Words mean, than that each denotes fomething different from the other; and both fomething different from Creation out of Nothing. And this Diftinction giving Occafion to Scripture to speak of them in fomewhat the fame Manner, as of different Perfons amongst Men; we call them the three Persons of the Trinity not at all intending by it to fay, that the Word, Perfon, fuits them in every Respect that it fuits us: but only to acknowledge, that as we find them thus fpoken of, we doubt not but there is fome fufficient Ground for it. And as we find further, that in Point of Rank, the Perfon of the Father is reprefented as fupreme, the Son as fubordinate to him, the Holy Spirit to both; and in Point of Relation to us, Creation is afcribed peculiarly to the first, Redemption to the fecond, Sanctification to the third; and yet, in fome Senfe, each * of thefe Things to each: we imitate the Whole of this likewife. Still we are very fenfible at the fame Time, that many more Doubts and Difficulties may be raised, almost about every Part of the Doctrine, than God, in his unfearchable Wisdom, hath given us Light enough to folve. But we apprehend it is our Duty, to believe with Humility and Simplicity what the Scripture hath taught us and to be contentedly ignorant of what it doth not teach us; without indulging Speculations and Conjectures, which will only perplex the Subject more, inftead of clearing it. And furely it is our Duty alfo,

to interpret with Candour, and ufe with prudent Moderation whatever well-meant Phrafes the Church of Chrift, efpecially in its earlier Days, hath applied to this Subject; to think, on Matters, which are both fo myfterious in their Nature, and fo hard to be expreffed, with great Charity of other Perfons and for ourselves, to keep clofe with great Care to fo much as is plain and practical. In order to this, I now proceed to lay before


II. The peculiar Office of the Spirit in the Work of our Redemption: on Account of which he is called, in our Catechifm, God the Holy Ghoft, who fanctifieth us, and all the elect People of God. For probably he is called the Holy Spirit fo frequently in Scripture, and the Spirit of Holinefs once, not merely as being perfectly holy in himself, which the Father and the Son are alfo, but as being the Caufe of Holinefs in Believers; who are elected by God, to eternal Life, on forefeeing that their Faith will produce Obedience.

To be holy is to be pure from Defilement; but particularly, in this Cafe, from the Defilement of Iniquity: and being fanctified is being made holy: to which bleffed Change in finful Man, the Spirit of God, we are taught, contributes many Ways.,

In Baptifm we are born again of Water and of the Spirit; reftored by him to the State of God's Children, and endued with the Principles of a new, that is the Chriftian, Life. As we grow up, it is through him, that our Understandings are enlightened by the Knowledge of God's Will. He directed the ancient Prophets in what they preached and wrote. For holy Men of old Time fpake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghoft: which more efpecially teftified beforehand the Sufferings of Chrift, and the Glories that should follow ©. Then afterwards, when our Saviour became Man, the Holy Ghost was upon him, and accompanied him through the Whole of his Ministration: and after his Afcenfion was commu2 Pet. i. 21. d Matth. iii. 16. Luke iii. 22. iv. 1. Acts i. 2. x. 38.


a John iii. 3, 5.


z Rom. i. 4. 1 Pet. i. 11.

« PreviousContinue »