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The Nature, and Manner of the Operation, of the Spirit of GRACE.
TOTHING is more generally mistaken, though nothing more important to be known and well understood, than the nature and manner of the operation of the Spirit of grace. Many indeed have gone fo far in profanenefs, as to deny, flatly and openly to deny, that there are now afforded to mankind any divine and fupernatural influences; and level the blackeft charges against thofe who maintain the importance and neceffity of this heavenly doc. trine. It must be acknowledged, that too much ground has been given for a denial of divine influences by thofe enemies of the truth, who, profeffing themselves advocates for the doctrine, have run into the moft profane enthufiafms, and the vileft jargon. In this Section, therefore, an attempt will be made to point out the abfurdity of the former, to expose the enthufiafim and profanenefs of the latter, and to fet forth the fcripture account of this important doctrine.
We have nothing to do here with those men of wit who not only fneer at the work of the Holy Spirit, but alfo difregard every thing that wears the ftamp of holinefs: we rather addrefs ourselves to those who, while they profess an uncommon attachment to the fcriptures, and the one way of falvation by Jefus Chrift, in fact, rank themselves among those who have a form of godlinefs, but deny the power thereof. Those who prefuming they can produce a few paffages of fcripture (without regard to their connection) to fhow that the terms word and fpirit are fynonymous, fancy they have made a vaft improvement in the fcheme of Chriftianity; and fo, with contemptuous fneer, pour ridicule upon all who acknowledge the divine fovereignty, and main
tain the indifpenfible neceffity of the operation of the Spirit of grace, to give a true understanding of
Their notion upon this fubject is, that the word itself is a divine power, granted for us to believe by: and that there is no fupernatural agency neceffary to go forth in the word, either for our inftruction, edification, confolation, or establishment; but it is our adhering to the written word. When perfons of this fentiment condefcend to explain themfelves, we find that they look upon the fcripture as one would a common history, and maintain that all who understand the ufe of words, may attain to the true knowledge of the bible; and that it is as foolish to talk of the neceffity of the fupernatural agency of the divine Spirit, to lead us into the truth, as to talk of waiting for his inftruction when reading the history of England. Upon this plan it would seem that the more wife and learned, they who are the moft skilful in the knowledge of words, ftand the fairest chance to enter into life, contrary to that authority which informs us, that Not many wife men after the flesh are called, but God hath chofen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wife; for it is written I will deftroy the wisdom of the wife, &c. 1 Cor. i, 19, &c.-if it be afked, why one receives the word and not another? Why do the moft illiterate receive it, while the wife and learned, in the fame affembly, manifeft the moft awful enmity against it? It is replied, because the one mix the word with faith, while the other do not. If the question again be moved, how does one come to mix the word with faith, and not another? Then we are told, because he perceives beauty and fuitablenefs in it; which in fact only tends to provoke a repetition of the queftion, which when made, we are told, that we are not fatisfied with the word-we seek a separate fpirit, &c. And thus raillery is fubftituted in the place of argument, and anathemas in the room, of
fcripture proof. In oppofition to this fentiment it may be obferved, that the highest cvidence has been profented to th wite and learned, of the truth and divinity of the fcriptures, without fuccefs. Rational and fcriptural arguments have been urged, by him who fpake as never man fpake, with the addition of miracles to confirm what he faid, and yet all proved ineffectual; and he who knew what was in man, informs us, that No man can come unto him, except the father draw him. The preaching of Paul drew the contempt of the wife and learned, and was a ftumbling block to the religious, 1. Cor. i, 23, and he points out the cause of this, 1. Cor. ii, 14, The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are fpiritually difcerned. The Pharifees made many converts; the judaizing teachers propagated their falfe gofpels with wide fuccefs; yet neither reason, fcripture, nor miracles did, in themselves, make men in love with the truth. Such is the natural and wilful darkness of man-fuch the awful infatuation that the god of this world spreads over the foul-and fuch the fpiritua ity of divine truth; that until fupernatural influence be exerted, grofs darkness will remain. But here let it be observed, that unbelief is infinitely criminal, and that the whol blame of disbelieving the golpel lies at the finner's door; Matt. xi, 20-25, John vi, 44, chap. viii, 42-47, chap. xv, 22, Matt. xxii, 1-7.
If any one is made wife unto falvation, it must be either by the creature, willing and running, or elle through the Lord ihowing mercy. But the fcripture faith it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God tha. fhoweth me cy; and indeed, nothing is more firmly established in the facred records, than that the eternal purpose of grace, manifefted by the appearing of God our Saviour, and published in the fcriptures of truth, is only applied to finners by the Holy Spirit. All who are
born of God are faid to be born of the Spiritall who have good hope through grace, abound in it through the power of the Holy Ghost-alf who believe in Christ, and fo are faved from the wrath to come, obey the truth through the Spirit, and are fanctified in the name of the Lord Jefus, and by the fpirit of our God;-love to God alfo is fhed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, in fhort, the kingdom of Chrift in the fouls of his people is righte oufnefs, peac, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Again our Lord when fpeaking of the Spirit f ys,' He fhall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have faid unto you Here is a plain diftinction between the words which Chrift fpoke, and the spirit by whom the difciples were guided into the truth of those words. It is plain, theref re, that they come very near, if they do not actually plunge into the fin against the Holy Ghoft, who do not believe and confefs, that no one underftands the truth, but by HIS teaching; or believes it, but by HIS perfuafion; or obeys it, but through HIS influence and power. I fuppofe it is cuftomary, upon fome occafions, for this clafs of profeffors to pray; though I cannot fee what propriety there is in their doing fo, at any time or upon any occation, while they retain this notion: for if we do not believe that divine influences are effentially neceffary' to give the word fuccefs, why fhou'd we pray to the Father of mercies to edify, fanctify, and comfort us in reading or hearing the word? Is not this drawing near with the lips, while the heart is far from God? And must not fuch prayers be an abo-nination in the fight of the Lord? And can any holding this fentiment, pray in faith for a bleffing upon the word?
But on the other hand it is readily admitted, that the doctrine of the operation of the Spirit of truth has been much abufed and traduced, by men who have not the Spirit; who teach that his operations
are wrought by mere energy, making impreffions upon the mind without the word of grace: yea, fome have afcribed to his agency, the most crude, ludicrous, and even diabolical whims and fancies: all of which must also be an abomination in the fight of the Lord; and if the holy anointing oil (which was a type of the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit) was forbidden to be counterfeited, on pain of being cut off from the people, Exod. xxx. 31-33, furely nothing can be more heinously wicked, nothing more pernicious to men, than counterfeiting the operation of the Holy Spirit, or impofing the delufions of the fpirit of darknefs upon men, under the fanction of God's work. Yet what is more common among profeffors of religion, than to call every rapturous humor of the mind, every impulfe of the imagination, and every falfe fire of the paffions, the work and operation of the Spirit of God? And if any one, out of zeal for God, and love to their fouls, faithfully expofe the delufion, and af. fectionately warn them to avoid the fatal fnare; he will be thought an enemy to their peace, and be branded as an oppofer of the work of the Spirit.
It is ftill thought by fome that miracles, or fomething like them are included in the work of the Spirit, even as in the Apoftles' days. Such would do well to confider, that thofe things, which through the power of the Spirit, were wrought by the Apofties, were intended as confirmations of the truth which they preached; but when the whole mind and will of God to his church was completed, their end was answered, and their use ceased; for if they had been continued after revelation was declared to be completed, it would have been an argument against that declaration. Whoever therefore pretends to them, or is waiting for them, errs, not knowing the fcriptures.
Again it is generally thought that his faving work confifts in difpofing the mind to ferioufnefs,