« ÎnapoiContinuați »
R E E
Article VIII. I believe in the Holy Ghoft.
HE former Articles having expressed the Belief
of Christians concerning the two first Persons of the sacred Trinity, the Father and the Son ; our Creed proceeds in this to the third Object of our baptismal Faith, the Holy Ghost. And to explain it properly, there will be Need to speak, first, 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.
1. Of the Nature of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit. For Ghof, in the ancient Use of our Language, denoted the same Thing, which Spirit doth now: a Substance different from Body or Matter. Indeed we still use it, in expressing the Departure of the Spirit from the Body, which we call, giving up the Ghoft; and in speaking of supposed Apparitions of the Spirits of Persons after their Decease. Hence also the Catechism mentions ghostly Dangters; and the Communion Service, ghoftly Counsels: meaning fuch Dangers, and such Counsels, as relate to our spiritual Part.
In like Manner, the Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit : concerning whose Nature, we can know, as I told you before concerning that of the Son, only what results from the Discoveries made to us in Scripture. And these, though they enlighten us but in Part, are both credible and sufficient. 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 present Case, are the following.
The Holy Ghost is not merely an Attribute or Power of the Father, but hath a real Subsistence, distinct both from the Father and the Son. For the New Testament expressly and repeatedly uses the Word, he, concerning him a: which is never used in that Manner of a mere Attribute or Power. It ascribes to him Will and Understanding 6: it speaks of him as being sent by the Father, coming and acting on various Occasions, relative both to the Son and to others; nay, as thewing bimself in a bodily Shape, like a Dove
Further : The Holy Ghost is, truly and strictly speaking, God. For the Language of Scripture concerning him is such, as cannot belong to any created Being, He is there called, the eternal Spirit'', the Lorde : said to quicken or give Life'; to be every where present with all good Chriftians ; to search áll Things
, yea, the deep Things of God, even as the Things of a Man are known by his own Spirit, which is in him". Christ, being conceived by him, became the Son of God. Christians, by his dwelling in them, become the Temples of the Holy Ghok, or, as another Place expresses it, the Temples of God!. Ananias, by lying to him, lyed not unto Men, but unto Godm. He is said to distribute fpiritual and miraculous Gifts, dividing to every Man severally, as he will". And as the Disciples ministered to the Lord and fafed, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the Work whereunto I have called them. He is represented by our Saviour, as able fully to supply the Want
* John xiv. 2h. xv, 26. xvi. 13.
b Rom. viii. 27. Heb. ii. 4. Luke iïi. 22.
d Heb. ix. 14Comp. 1 Cor, xii. II. 62 Cor. iii. 17. fi Pet. ijj. 18.
* John xiv. 16, 17. i Cor. ii. 10, 11.
i Luke i. 35.
1 Cor. vi. 19, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.
m. Aets v. 3, 4.
n i Cof. xii. II. ? Als xiii. 2.
of his personal Prelence with the Apostles P. And laftly he is joined with the Father and the Son, on equal Terms, both in the Form of Baptism, where his Name and theirs are used alike & ; and in the folemn Form of Blessing, where the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost is placed on a Level with the Love of God, end the Grace of our Lord Jesus Chrifl'.
Thele, and many other Scripture Exprelions, are surely luch, as cannot be used of any Creature : but prove the Spirit, as others, already mentioned to you, prove the Son, to partake of the same Authority and Perfections, and therefore the fame Nature, with the Father. Yet we know, that though in holy Writ Men and Angels are, sometimes on Account of their exten. five Power, sometimes as Representatives of the Deity, called Gods, yet in literal Propriety of Speech there is hut one God, and not either three supreme Beings, or a superior and inferior Object of Adoration. Hear, o Ifrael, the Lord our God is one Lord, Is there a God be fides me 3 yea, there is na God: I know not any. Before me was na God formed: neither shall there be after me
I am the Lord, and my Glory will I not give to another" Thou malt worfeip the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou ferve *. Since then there is not a Plurality of Gods ; and yet the Son and Spirit are each of them God, no less than the Father : it plainly follows, that they are, in a Manner by us inconceivable, fo united to him, that these three are oney; but still, in a Manner equally inconceivable, so diftinguished from him, that no one of them is the other.
Now certainly, in general, it is no. Contradiction, that Things should be in one Respect the same, and in another different. But the particular and explicit Notion of this Union and this Distinction the Word of God hath not given us.
Whether we are capable of apprehending it, we know not: and therefore it is no John xvi. 7. q Matth. xxviii. 19.
2 Cor. xiii. 14, s Deut. vi. 4.
* Ifa. xliv. 8. ulla, xliii. 10. w Ifa. xlii, 8. * Matth. iv. 10.
Y a John v. 7.
Wonder in the least, 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 less beyond our Reach. All that we can do therefore is, to use those Expressions in relation to it, which either Scripture furnishes, or Experience hath found ufeful to guard against falfe Apprehensions : for with very imperfect ones we must be content. Thus in speaking 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 these two Words means than that each denotes fomething different from the other; and both something different from Creation out of Nothing, And this Distinction giving Occasion to Scripture to speak of them in somewhat the same Manner, as of different Perfons amongst Men; we call them the three Persons of the Trinity: not at all intending by it to say, that the Word, Person, suits them in every Respect that it suits us : but only to acknowledge, that as we find them thus spoken of, we doubt not but there is some fufficient Ground for it. And as we find further, that in Point of Rank, the Person of the Father is represented as fupreme, the Son as subordinate to him, the Holy Spirit to both; and in Point of Relation to us, Creation is ascribed peculiarly to the first, Redemption to the second, Sanctification to the third ; and yet, in some Sense, each of these Things to each: we initate the whole of this likewise. Still we are very sensible at the same Time, that many more Doubts and Difficulties may be raised, almost about every part of the Doctrine, than God, in his unsearchable Wisdom, hath given us Light enough to solve. 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, instead of clearing.it. And surely it is our Duty also, to interpret with Candour, and use with prudent Moderation whatever well-meant Phrases the Church of Christ, especially in its earlier Days, hath applied to this Subject ; to think, on Matters, which are both so mysterious in their Nature, and so hard to be expressed, with great Charity of other Persons : and for ourselves, to keep close with great Care to so much as is plain and practical. · In order to this, I now proceed to lay before уоа,
II. The peculiar Office of the Spirit in the Work of our Redemption : on Account of which he is called, in our Catechism, God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth us, and all the elect People of God. For probably he is called the Holy Spirit so frequently in Scripture, and the Spirit of Holiness once ?, not merely as being perfectly holy in himself, which the Father and the Son are also, but as being the Cause of Holiness in Believers; who are elected by God, to eternal Life, on foreseeing that their Faith will produce Obedience.
To be holy is to be pure from Defilement; but particularly, in this case, from the Defilement of Iniquity : and being sanctified is being made holy: to which bleffed Change in sinful Man, the Spirit of God, we are taught, contributes many ways. ,
In Baptism we are born again of Water and of the Spirit*; restored by him to the State of God's Children, and endued with the Principles of a new, that is the Christian, 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 Spake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghorb: which more especially testified beforehand the Sufferings of Chrift, and the Glories that mould follow C. Then afterwards, when our Saviour became Man, the Holy Ghost was upon him, and accompanied him through the Whole of his Ministration d: and after his Ascension was commu
John iii. 3, 5.
b 2 Pet. i. 211 * 1 Pet. i. 11. d Matth. iii. 16. Luke iii. 22. iv, 1. Acts i. 2. X. 38.
z Rom. i. 4.