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Spirit alone by the gospel. And this, in the first place, is unbelief, particularly not believing in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world. This he testified concerning himself, this his works evinced him to be, and this both Moses and the prophets bare witness unto: hereon he tells the Jews, that if they believed not that he was he, that is, the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour of the world, they should die in their sins; John viii. 5.21.24. But in this unbelief, in this rejection of Christ, the Jews and the rest of the world justified themselves, and not only so, but despised and persecuted them who believed in him. This was the fundamental difference between believers and the world, the head of that cause wherein they were rejected by it as foolish, and condemned as impious. And herein was the Holy Ghost their advocate : for he did by-such undeniable evidences, arguments, and testimonies, convince the world of the truth and glory of Christ, and of the sin of unbelief, that they were every where either converted or enraged thereby. So some of them upon this conviction, 'gladly received the word, and were baptized ; Acts ii. 41. Others upon the preaching of the same truth by the apostles,' were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them ;' chap. v. 33. In this work he still continueth. And it is an act of the same kind whereby he yet in particular convinceth any of the sin of unbelief, which cannot be done but by the effectual, internal operation of his power.
(2ndly.) He thus convinceth the world of righteousness; ver. 10. • Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.' Both the personal righteousness of Christ, and the righteousness of his office, are intended. For concerning both these the church hath a contest with the world, and they belong unto that cause wherein the Holy Spirit is their advocate. Christ was looked on by the world as an evil doer ; accused to be a glutton, a wine-bibber, a seditious person, a seducer, a blasphemer, a malefactor, in every kind; whence his disciples were both despised and destroyed for believing in such a one. And it is not to be declared how they were scorned and reproached, and what they suffered on this account. In the meantime they pleaded and gave testimony unto his righteousness, that he did no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth, that he ful
filled all righteousness, and was the Holy One of God. And herein was the Holy Ghost their advocate, convincing the world principally by this argument, that after all he did and suffered in this world, as the highest evidence imaginable of God's approbation of him and what he did, that he was gone to the Father, or assumed up into glory. The poor blind man, whose eyes were opened by him, pleaded this as a forcible argument against the Jews that he was no sinner, in that God heard him so as that he had opened his eyes ; whose evidence and conviction they could not bear, but it turned them into rage and madness; John ix. 30–34. How much more glorious and effectual must this evidence needs be of his righteousness and holiness, and God's approbation of him, that after all he did in this world, he went unto his Father, and was taken up into glory. For such is the meaning of those words, ‘Ye shall see me no more :' that is, there shall be an end put unto my state of humiliation, and of my converse with
you in this world, because I am to enter into my glory. That the Lord Christ then went unto his Father, that he was so gloriously exalted, undeniable testimony was given by the Holy Ghost unto the conviction of the world. So this argument is pleaded by Peter ; Acts ii. 33. This is enough to stop the mouths of all the world in this cause, that he sent the Holy Ghost from the Father to communicate spiritual gifts of all sorts unto his disciples. And there could be no higher evidence of his acceptance, power, and glory with him. And the same testimony he still continueth in the communication of ordinary gifts in the ministry of the gospel. Respect also may be had (which sense I would not exclude) unto the righteousness of his office. There ever was a great contest about the righteousness of the world. This the Gentiles looked after by the light of nature, and the Jews by the works of the law. In this state the Lord Christ is proposed as the Lord our righteousness,' as he who was to bring in, and had brought in, everlasting righteousness; Dan. ix. 24. Being the end of the law for righteousness unto all that believe;' Rom. x. 4. This the Gentiles rejected as folly; Christ crucified was foolishness unto them; and to the Jews it was a stumblinglock, as that which everted the whole law: and generally, they all concluded, that he could not save himself, and therefore, it was not probable that others should be saved
by him. But herein also is the Holy Spirit the advocate of the church. For in the dispensation of the word, he so convinceth men of an impossibility for them to attain a righteousness of their own, as that they must either submit to the righteousness of God in Christ, or die in their sins.
(3rdly.) He convinceth the world of judgment; because the prince of this world is judged. Christ himself was judged and condemned by the world. In that judgment Satan the prince of this world had the principal hand; for it was effected in the hour, and under the power, of darkness. And no doubt but he hoped that he had carried his cause, when he had prevailed to have the Lord Christ publicly judged and condemned. And this judgment the world sought by all means to justify and make good. But the whole of it is called over again by the Holy Ghost pleading in the cause, and for the faith, of the church. And he doth it so effectually, as that the judgment is turned on Satan himself. Judgment, with unavoidable conviction, passed on all that superstition, idolatry, and wickedness, which he had filled the world withal. And whereas he had borne himself under various masks, shades, and pretences, to be the god of this world, the supreme ruler over all, and accordingly, was worshipped all the world over, he is now by the gospel laid open and manifested to be an accursed apostate, a murderer, and the great enemy of mankind.
Wherefore, taking the name Paracletus in this sense for an advocate, it is proper unto the Holy Ghost in some part of his work in and towards the church. And whensoever we are called to bear witness unto Christ and the gospel, we abandon our strength and betray our cause, if we do not use all means appointed of God unto that end, to engage him in our assistance.
But it is as a Comforter that he is chiefly promised unto us, and as such is he expressed unto the church by this name,
Fourthly, That he hath a peculiar work committed unto him, suitable unto this mission, commission, and name, is that which will appear in the declaration of the particulars wherein it doth consist. For the present, we only assert, in general, that his work it is to support, cherish, relieve, and comfort the church in all trials and distresses. And this is all that we intend when we say that it is his office so to do.
General adjuncts or properties of the office of a Comforter as
exercised by the Holy Spirit,
To evidence yet farther the nature of this office and work, we may consider and inquire into the general adjuncts of it as exercised by the Holy Spirit. And they are four.
First, Infinite condescension. This is among those mysteries of the divine dispensation which we may admire, but cannot comprehend. And it is the property of faith alone to act and live upon incomprehensible objects. What reason cannot comprehend, it will neglect as that which it hath no concernment in, nor can have benefit by. Faith is most satisfied and cherished with what is infinite and inconceiv, able, as resting absolutely in divine revelation. Such is this condescension of the Holy Ghost. He is by nature over all, God blessed for ever. And it is a condescension in the divine excellency to concern itself in a particular manner, in any creature whatever. God humbleth himself to behold the things that are done in heaven and in earth; Psal. cxiii. 5, 6. How much more doth he do so in submitting himself unto the discharge of an office in the behalf of poor worms here below.
This, I confess, is most astonishing, and attended with the most incomprehensible rays of divine wisdom and goodness in the condescension of the Son. For he carried the term of it unto the lowest and most abject condition that a rational intelligent nature is capable of. So is it represented by the apostle; Phil. ii. 6-8. For he not only took our nature into personal union with himself, but became in it, in his outward condition, as a servant, yea, as a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people, and became subject to death, the ignominious, shameful death of the cross. Hence this dispensation of God was filled up with infinite wisdom, goodness, and grace. How this exinanition of the Son of God was compensated with the glory that did ensue, we shall rejoice in the contemplation of unto all eternity. And then shall the character of all divine excellencies be more gloriously conspicuous on this condescension of the Son of God, than ever they were on the works of the whole creation, when this goodly fabric of heaven and earth was brought by divine power and wisdom, through darkness and confusion, out of nothing.
The condescension of the Holy Spirit unto his work and office is not indeed of the same kind, as to the terminus ad quem, or the object of it. He assumes not our nature, he exposeth not himself unto the injuries of an outward state and condition. But yet it is such as is more to be the object of our faith in adoration, than of our reason in disquisition. Consider the thing in itself; how one person in the Holy Trinity, subsisting in the unity of the same divine nature, should undertake to execute the love and grace of the other persons, and in their names: what do we understand of it? This holy economy, in the distinct and subordinate actings of the divine persons in these external works, is known only unto, is understood only by, themselves. Our wisdom it is to acquiesce in express, divine revelation : nor have they scarcely more dangerously erred by whom these things are denied, than those have done, who by a proud and conceited subtilty of mind, pretend unto a conception of them, which they express in words and terms, as they say, precise and accurate; indeed, foolish and curious, whether of other men's coining or their own finding out. Faith keeps the soul at a holy distance from these infinite depths of the divine wisdom, where it profits more by reverence and holy fear, than any can do by their utmost attempt to draw nigh unto that inaccessible light wherein these glories of the divine nature do dwell.
But we may more steadily consider this condescension with respect unto its object; the Holy Spirit thereby becomes a Comforter unto us poor, miserable worms of the earth. And what heart can conceive the glory of this grace? what tongue can express it ? Especially will its eminency appear, if we consider the ways and means whereby he doth so comfort us, and the opposition from us which he meets withal therein, whereof we must treat afterward.
Secondly, Unspeakable love accompanieth the susception and discharge of this office; and that working by tenderness and compassion. The Holy Spirit is said to be the divine,