« PreviousContinue »
upon as an essential truth, in contradistinction to the “gods many, and lords many," of the heathen world. And, in perfect harmony with this unity, though incomprehensible by us, a threefold distinction subsists, which are denominated “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” In one sense they are represented to be three, in another sense, they are one. There is a unity, and there is a distinction. In revelation the fact is stated, but is not explained. Beyond this, I therefore presume not to step; especially as there is nothing exactly parallel to it in the universe, which can illustrate it. It is sufficient for us to be informed that the knowledge, thoughts, and intentions of one, are the knowledge, thoughts, and intentions of all. Each is represented as discharging his appropriate office in our redemption. The Father as sending his only begotten Son; the Son as assuming our nature, and voluntarily offering himself to be “the propitiation for our sins,” died, and on the third day was
“ raised from the dead by the glory of the Father :” while the Holy Spirit is sent by both the Father and the Son, to “glorify him,” and to apply the benefits thus provided and thus procured. The disposition of each toward man must, therefore, be the same.
Nor can there be any question, as to what that disposition is. The very circumstance of revealing his will; the provision he has made for the recovery of a lost world by the incarnation, obedience and death of Jesus Christ ; the invitations and promises, as well as the threatenings to the impenitent recorded in his word, alike demonstrate that “he hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live."?
In that word too every appellation is assumed that can awaken interest, or inspire confidence in his people. As an ever-watchful guardian," he neither slumbers nor sleeps ;” as the great Pastor of
? Ezek. xxxiii. 11.
the universe, he provides for, restores, and leads all his flock; as a “hen,” he gathers, cherishes, and defends them; or “ as an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone leadeth them.”3
This imagery is at once simple and elegant; but the following appeal is as extensive as the original commission given to the apostles and his ministers. It particularizes and, as it were, embodies all others. It is made to all; since that which was already possessed could not with propriety be said to be given to
then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children ; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” 4
The argument is from the less to the greater ; from a parent that is evil, to the Father of all who is infinitely good ; 3 Deut. xxxii, 11, 12.
4 Luke xi. 13.
from one that is often indigent, to him who sits enthroned upon the riches of the universe. If then, such parents will, nevertheless, bestow on their suppliant children gifts, which they regard as most beneficial to them ; much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit, which virtually includes all other spiritual blessings, to them that ask him. Thus, while our Lord has emphatically marked the importance of “the Spirit” to man ; he has, at the same time, most touchingly illustrated the disposition of him, from whom, as from a fountain, all the streams of natural affection in every successive generation have flowed. He who feeds the ravens, clothes the grass of the field, and causes the lilies to grow, can never be indifferent to the intelligent creatures of his power and wisdom.
It comes home to the heart: it throws an increasing interest over the intellectual and moral world, by representing the Deity as actively engaged in behalf of the eternal welfare of man, as training
him for a wider range of thought, and as preparing him for a happiness of which he is capable. It speaks in accents which cannot be mistaken. “ Ask, and ye shall receive.” Deeply interested, let every one turn the appeal into a devout and earnest prayer,-be pleased graciously to give thy Holy Spirit to me.
3. Its aspect on the interests of genuine piety.
That the doctrine of the Spirit's influence has often been prostituted to the most unworthy purposes, as well as to promote fanaticism in its many forms, our own observation, and, if not, ecclesiastical history, but too clearly proves ; while many, pretending to more than ordinary communications, and assuming a loftier tone and a superiority over their brethren, condemn in toto as men of the letter, those who, in consequence of the absence of scripture evidence, cannot fall in with their injudicious statements.