Images de page

God, yet I obferve it to be the phrase of the New Teftament, to attribute the belief of the gospel, in a more peculiar manner, to the Spirit of God. When any man believes the principles of natural religion, that there is a God, that the foul is immortal, and that there are rewards after this life, as the Heathens did; even this is from God, who hath planted thefe principles in our natures; or, which comes all to one, hath given us fuch faculties, by the ufe and improvement of which, we may come to the knowledge of these principles: but it is not ufual in the phrafe of scripture, to attribute this natural knowledge in fuch a peculiar manner to the Spirit of God.

When any man believes the matters of divine revelation, for instance, the doctrines contained in the gofpel; this faith is to be attributed to the Spirit of God; but not as immediately perfuading us of the truth of thefe doctrines, but by perfuading us, that the gofpel which contains these truths, is a divine revelation; or, which is all one, that the Lord Jefus Chrift, who delivered thefe doctrines to the world, was a divine perfon, and came from God: and if we once firmly believe and entertain this, that Jefus was the Meffias, and fent from God to acquaint the world with his mind and will; we can make no doubt of the truth of any thing which he hath delivered. So that the faith which the fcripture doth in a peculiar manner attribute to the Spirit of God, is this perfuafion, that Jefus is the Chrift; that is, that he was the true Meffias, and fent from God.

So that the queftion is, how the Spirit of God doth concur to the begetting of this faith or perfuafion? Or, why this faith is in fuch a peculiar manner attributed to the Spirit of God?

I answer, upon these two accounts.

First, In refpect of the outward evidence which the Spirit of God gives us to perfuade us to believe.

Secondly, In refpect of the inward efficacy and operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men in believing.

First, In refpect to the outward evidence which the Spirit of God gives us to perfuade us to believe. And if this be not that which divines mean by the teftimo


ny of the Spirit in this matter, yet, I think, it is that which may moft properly be fo called. Now the Spirit of God did outwardly teftify concerning Jefus, that he was the Meffias, and came from God; and that the doctrine which he taught was divine.

1. In the voice from heaven, which accompanied the defcending of the fpirit upon him, in the form of a dove, faying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Matth. iii. 17.

2. In those miracles which Christ himself wrought by the Spirit of God; which were fo eminent a teftimony of the Spirit of God, that the refifting of the evidence of thofe miracles, and the attributing of them to the devil, is by our Saviour called a blafphemy against the Holy Ghoft, and fuch a fin as fhall never be pardoned: because miracles being the higheft attestation that can be given to the divinity of any perfon, or his doctrine : whoever refifts this evidence, refifts his laft remedy; and fuch a perfon must needs remain in his infidelity, because there is nothing more that can be done for his conviction.

3. The third eminent teftimony which the holy Spirit gave to Chrift, was in the great miracle of his refurrection from the dead; and hence it is that the great miracle of Chrift's refurrection, which was the highest attestation to the divinity of his perfon, and the grand confirmation to his doctrine, is frequently in fcripture, in a most peculiar manner, afcribed to the Spirit of God, Rom. i. 4. And was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, that is, by thofe miracles which he wrought by the Holy Ghost, and by his refurrection from the dead. And fo, Rom. viii. 11. The Spirit of him that raifed up Chrift from the dead. 1 Pet. iii. 18. Being put to death in the flesh; but quickened by the Spirit.

4. In the effufion of the Spirit upon the Apostles, who were to preach Chrift and his doctrine to the world: and that it might carry its evidence along with it, God poured forth his Spirit upon those who were to be the publishers of it; by which Spirit they were endowed with feveral miraculous powers and gifts, to convince the world of the truth of the doctrine which they preached.

X 3


And with relation to this, I think, it is that the Apostle faith, 1 Cor. ii. 4. 5. And my speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom; but in demonftration of the Spirit, and of power that your faith fhould not ftand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God; that is, they did not ufe human eloquence to perfuade men, but delivered the gofpel with all plainnefs and that which made thofe plain difcourfes fo powerful, were thofe powerful demonftrations of the divine Spirit, which appeared in thofe miraculous gifts wherewith they were endowed. I am fure Origen understands this text fo. And fo likewife the Apofte, 1 Theff. i. 5. fpeaks to the fame purpose, that the gospel came not unto you in word only; but also in power, and in the Holy Ghoft, and in much affurance; that is, they did not only speak words to men, but the doctrine which they preached was attefted in a powerful manner by the Holy Ghoft, in thofe extraordinary gifts, which were bestowed upon them, which was a great evidence to their hearers, and gave them great affurance of the truth of what they delivered. I think this is the meaning of those two places, but I will mention two others which are more unquestionable, Acts v. 32. where Peter, and the reft of the Apoftles, tell the High-priests and their officers, what evidence they had for what they preached concerning the refurrection and afcenfion of Chrift. We are his witneffes of these things; and fo is alfo the Holy Ghoft, whom God hath given to them that obey him. Not only they themselves had feen what they preached; but to confirm their teftimony, the Holy Ghoft was poured forth upon them in miraculous gifts. And Heb. ii. 3. 4. How fhall we efcape, if we neglect f great falvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God alfo bearing them witnefs, both with figns and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? So the Holy Ghoft gave teftimony to the truth of the doctrine which the Apoftles preached, by thofe gifts which he endowed them withal, and thofe miracles which he enabled them to work.

And I doubt not but with relation to the teftimony which the Spirit of God gave to Chrift by the miracles


he wrought by Chrift and his Apoftles, I fay, I doubt not, but that with relation to his teftimony it is, that the Apoftle faith, he.was juftified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. iii. 16. Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifeft in the flesh, juftified in the Spirit. That is, the miraculous power of the Spirit which appeared in him, and did accompany his doctrine, did justify him to the world, and vindicate him from being an impoftor and deceiver.

From all which it appears, that the teftimony which the holy Spirit gives to Chrift and his doctrine, was the miracles which he and his Apoftles wrought by the Spirit of God and if we will take our forms of fpeaking from fcripture, this is that which may molt properly be called the teftimony of the Spirit to the truth of the gofpel. But I deny not but befides this outward evidence, which the Spirit of God gives to the truth of the gofpel, with refpect to which the faith of the gofpel is in a peculiar manner attributed to the Spirit of God, there is likewife an inward efficacy and operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men. Therefore,

Secondly, Faith is in a peculiar manner attributed to the Spirit of God, in refpect of the inward efficacy and operation of the divine Spirit upon the hearts and minds of those who fincerely and effectually believe and entertain the gofpel; I fay, who fincerely and effectually believe and entertain the gofpel; that is, who fo believe and entertain the gofpel as to obey it, and comply with it in their hearts and lives. For I doubt not but that there is fo much evidence for the truth and divine authority of the gofpel, as is in itself fufficient, without any peculiar operation of the Spirit of God, to filence all oppofers, and to convince them fo far as that they cannot have any fufficient reafon to disbelieve it: but withal, I do not think that this faith doth become an abiding and effectual perfuafion in any perfon, without the fpecial operation of the Holy Ghoft. Now, that the Spirit of God can work this effectual perfuafion in the mind of man, cannot be doubted by any man who confiders the vaft power and influence which the Spirit of God, who made our fouls, and knows the frame of them, can have upon the mind of man: all


the difficulty is about the manner of it; how this faith is wrought in us by the Spirit of God. Now, although it were fufficient for us to know the thing, though we were ignorant of the manner how it is done, and we might very well reft fatisfied in this; that the Spirit of God works this faith in us, though we did not know how he does it; yet because many have taken upon them to state and determine the particular manner how it is done, it will be requifite, in order to the rectifying fome mistakes about it, to enquire more particularly into this matter.

Now, all the ways that have been affigned, or which, I think, we can easily imagine, may be reduced to one of these fix heads. When we fay the Spirit of God works faith in us, we must conceive it to be done fome or all of these ways.


1. By ftrengthening the faculty, that is, raifing and enabling our understanding to yield afsent to the goSpel. Or,

2. By enlightening and discovering the object, that is, the conclufion to be believed.

3. By propounding to us the arguments, or evidence, whereby we may be perfuaded of it. Or,

4. By holding our minds intent upon this evidence, 'till it have wrought its effect upon us. Or, 5. By removing the impediments which hinder our affent. Or,

6. By furthering and helping forward the efficacy of this perfuafion upon our hearts and lives.

That the Spirit can work faith in us, any, or all of thefe ways, fo far as they are confiftent with one another, I make not the leaft doubt. For, what man, who believes the infinite power of the divine Spirit, can make the least question, whether it can raife and heighten our faculties above their natural and ordinary pitch? or whether it can difcover an object to us, with the greatest clearness and fatisfaction? or whether it can offer to our minds the best arguments, and the highest evidence that a thing is capable of? or whether it can hold our minds intent upon the confideration of any thing; or whether it can remove all hindrances and im

« PrécédentContinuer »