Imagini ale paginilor

spirit," says, "This means that they are destitute of holy influences." The spirit in his office as sanctifier dwells not with them. Do not these words imply that as God, the spirit might dwell with them and move them to all evil? I suppose he meant to be so understood. But here I would reply, that the term appropriate office, in such a wide sense, is a mere invention of man. No one person in the Trinity can act in such a manner, under any name or in any office, as to render what he does not imputable to him as God. Nor can he do any thing in conjunction with the other persons, under the general name God, which is not imputable to him, when spoken of as a distinct person. Whatever be the views of others, to me it appears trifling, to say, the third person in the Trinity, under the name Holy Ghost, produces in men nothing but holiness; but laying down this name and taking up that of God, he moves them to all wickedness.

When Paul says to the Galatians, "The spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit, &c." is this his plain obvious meaning; that Jehovah under the name spirit, excites you to all goodness, but under the name God, he at the same time moves you to all the sin you perceive working in your members? or the Holy Ghost moves you to all that is good under this title, but the same Holy Ghost, under the title God, moves you to all wickedness. Such kind of interpretations of Scripture are to me monstrous, and blasphemous.

Dr. Hopkins appears to have foreseen that his theory would involve the Holy Spirit, in the charge, of not only producing in men, virtue and goodness, but impiety and wickedness.

His words are these; "Though it be as expressly asserted in the Scriptures, that God has determined the existence of all moral evil, and does by his own operation and agency, cause it to take place, as it is, that true virtue and holiness, is the effect of divine operation; yet it does not follow from this, that the manner and mode of divine operation, in these differ

ent and opposite effects, is in all respects the same." But this observation of the Doctor is a mere palliative to the imagination, of such as he might conceive would be startled at his theory.-For after having asserted that no second causes or inotives excite the wills of men to choose evil, but the positive and direct agency of God, to what can it amount? He has made the two cases of producing sin and holiness perfectly the same, so far as we can have any ideas respecting the subject. This palliative is not worth a straw.-It relates to something, with which our present discussion has no concern. It is not the mode of such a direct operation, but the operation itself we deny.

4. The theory under consideration, appears to be a great corruption of the Gospel, as it confounds the work of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of saints. with the physical or general agency of God. By this agency all things were originally created, organized and constituted, what they are in all their vast variety, and by it, they are now upheld or preserved in their different natures, properties, powers, faculties, relations, order and succession; and are constantly held under the absolute dominion and government of Jehovah, and in his Providence, so directed and managed, as that they never move or act, but in conformity to his infinitely wise and benevolent designs. To this physical agency, the apostle alludes in these words. "For in him we live, move, (or are moved,) and have our being." And it is in respect to the same agency, God thus speaks in the prophet. "I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." In. regard to this kind of agency, all objects in the universe are equally dependent. The largest globe, and the smallest atom, the highest seraph, and the meanest insect, the most perfect saint, and the vilest sinner, the brightest angel, and the blackest devil, all here stand upon a level."

But can the Gospel be understood, by those, who have no idea of any other divine agency but this? Is it not the peculiar glory of this system of Grace and Salvation, that it reveals an agency or influence, by which sinners are converted, sanctified, and prepared for endless felicity?—The object of this agency is not to create or uphold creatures in being, but purely to operate upon their moral and active powers, and excite them to will and to do that which is just and good.

If, over and above the general agency of God, the Gospel did not bring into view the Holy Ghost, as exerting this agency upon men dead in trespasses and sin, it would be devoid of one essential glory as the words of eternal life.

Now this latter kind of agency, must, therefore, be kept distinct from the former, in some very inter-. esting and important respects. This remark is strongly confirmed by various considerations.

1. The business of the Holy Spirit is to produce in men nothing but virtuous and holy exercises.-I conceive no one will, in an unqualified manner, assert, that pride, blasphemy, malice and spite, are the effect of the direct operation of the Holy Ghost on the hearts of men.

2. It is expressly asserted in the Scriptures, that. the world, or men, who remain impenitent and unbelieving, have not this Spirit dwelling in them. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." John xiv, 16, 17: Now is it not obvious that this agency of the Spirit is here distinguished from that general agency of God, which extends alike to all created objects, and of which we may say with Mr. Pope. It

"Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent."

[ocr errors]

An influence, which is confined to God's little flock, or extends only to comparatively a very few objects in the creation, cannot be the same with that which "extends through all extent.”

S. If the agency of the Holy Ghost is not distinguished from the physical or general agency of God, then it will follow that both beasts, sinners of mankind, and devils, have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them:-For it is declared that he shall dwell in saints forever. And if this is the same as that general agency, by which he works all things according to the counsel of his own will," it must apply to all created objects, both good and evil; for in God they all live, move, and have their being. But who will presume to say that the Holy Ghost dwells in wild beasts, wicked men and devils, just as much as in saints?

Thus we see the Gospel revelation cannot be understood, unless the agency of the Holy Ghost be distinguished from the general agency of God.-But in what respects is the former to be considered as distinct from the latter? if the Scriptures make a distinction it is a real one; it is not merely imaginary. Upon the truth of this we must presume, even though we were utterly unable by our reason to trace out this difference. For it may be like ten thousand other subjects above the reach of our faculties, at least in the present state of our existence.

But we conceive it is a subject, which the Scriptures have not left utterly in the dark.

1. The distinction between the influence of the Divine Spirit and the general agency of God, does not relate merely to the effect produced.

To explain Jude 19; "These be they, who separ ate themselves, sensual, having not the spirit." Mr. Williston says, "They are not the subjects of holy influence. The spirit does not dwell in them, in his

[ocr errors]

office as sanctifier. His theory and his language imply that he might dwell in them as an agent, and be the efficient cause or direct mover of their hearts to all the abominations with which they were defiled.But here I would submit it to the judgment of every candid and serious student of the Bible, whether he can believe that this is the sense in which Jude intended to be understood, viz. "The Holy Ghost does not dwell in these sensual, debauched separatists, to sanctify them, or to excite them to holy desires and actions, yet as God, he does dwell in them, and work directly on their hearts to move them to all ungodliness?" His meaning must be, that the Holy Ghost did not dwell in them as an agent to produce any exercises by an immediate operation on the heart.

2. The distinction does not lie in this, that God the Father may act so independently of the Holy Spirit, as that he could produce in sinners all their evil exercises, and yet the Holy Spirit have no agency in it. So that it could with truth be said, that although God works all wickedness in men, yet the Spirit works no evil in them, but good only.

For as we have already stated, the several persons in the Trinity do not act independently of each other. What one does the others do. If God excites sinners to wickedness by a direct operation on the heart, then the Holy Spirit does the same.

3. In order to leave to the Holy Spirit any thing to be his peculiar work, there must be something to which the general physical agency of God does not extend. For in this general agency by which all things were originally created, and are now upheld, directed and governed, the Holy Spirit operates as one God with the Father. As to this agency, beasts, and birds, and men, and devils, live, and move, and have their being, as much in God the Spirit, as in God the Father or Son. But the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit is confined, as we have already seen, to saints. If, therefore, there is not a sense in which

« ÎnapoiContinuă »