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HIM, were therefore guilty of lying unto Gode; and they who had HIм dwelling in them, were therefore the temples of the living God'.]
Nevertheless in some respects he is subordinate both to the Father and the Son
[In the order of subsistence, as the Father is not of the Son, but the Son of the Father, so neither the Father nor the Son proceeds from the Spirit, but the Spirit from them, inasmuch as he proceeds from the Father, and is sent by the Son. In the order of operation also the Spirit is inferior: the Father is represented as the fountain of authority and of blessings: the Son acts as his servants: and the Spirit acts under Christ, being sent or deputed by him, (according as it was determined in the eternal counsels of the Father,) to apply to men that redemption, which was procured for them by his death. The Spirit acted in this subordinate capacity before the time of Christ's incarnation: it was by him that Christ went and preached to the antediluvian world: by him also he inspired the prophets to foretel the things relating to his sufferings and glory'. During the days of our Lord's ministry on earth the Spirit still acted in subserviency to him; it was by the Spirit that Christ cast out devils, and performed his other miracles. In a more especial manner did the Spirit exert himself in subserviency to Christ after he had ascended to heaven; it was then that the Spirit began fully to execute the office assigned him, and to "glorify Christ" before an ungodly and unbelieving world'. To this very hour does the Spirit bear the same part, "convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment," in order to magnify Christ, and to enlarge his kingdom.]
As our attention is principally directed to the Holy Spirit, we shall proceed to state,
II. The particular office committed to him—
The Father, Son, and Spirit, have distinct and different offices in the economy of redemption. That of the Spirit is twofold:
1. To be a witness for Christ
[Our blessed Lord died under circumstances of the deepest ignominy and reproach; being treated by his whole nation as the vilest of malefactors. Nor could it be conceived that one, who under such circumstances saved not himself, should be
e Acts v. 3, 4.
h 1 Pet. iii. 18, 19. 1 John xvi. 14.
f 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.
m John xvi. 8.
g Isai. xlii. 1.
constituted by God the Saviour of others. This was, to all appearance, so absurd an idea that it never could have gained any credit in the world, if it had not been confirmed by the most unquestionable testimony. To overcome these obstacles, the Holy Spirit testified of two things, namely, the righteousness of his person, and the sufficiency of his salvation. While the Apostles testified of these things to the ears of men, the Spirit confirmed their word with visible signs", and sealed it on men's hearts by his invisible, but effectual, influence. This he did, not only on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand were converted at once, but on many other occasions. It is worthy of remark, that when he visibly descended on the Gentiles in confirmation of the word that was delivered by Peter, he descended at the very instant that the Apostle began to speak of the fulness and excellency of Christ's salvation; as though he designed to intimate, that this was the great truth which he came to attest, and which we ought to receive with our whole hearts.]
2. To be a Comforter to us
[When a soul begins to feel its guilty and undone state, it needs a comforter: but there is no creature in heaven or earth that can administer effectual consolation; none but the Holy Spirit is sufficient for so great a work: if he reveal Christ to the soul, all tears will instantly be wiped away; but if he withhold his influence, sorrow and despondency will overwhelm it utterly. Thus also in all subsequent trials and temptations, it is the Holy Ghost alone that can heal the wounded spirit, or bind up the broken and contrite heart. And it must further be noticed, that the principal, if not the only, way, in which he administers consolation to us, is by testifying of Christ; it is by shewing to us his beauty, his sufficiency, his truth and faithfulness, and by enabling us to rest entirely on him: and as there can be no comfort till this be done, so there can be nothing but joy and exultation arising from it.]
This subject naturally leads us to reflect,
1. How great and glorious a person Christ is!
[It has been already shewn that the Holy Spirit is God equal with the Father: yet has Christ authority to send him into our hearts. If Christ say, Go, my Spirit, and quicken that dead sinner; go and dwell in that polluted heart; go and comfort that drooping and desponding soul; in short, whatever commission Jesus gives to the ever-blessed Spirit, it is executed instantly, and to its utmost extent. No unworthiness P Acts x. 43, 44.
n Heb. ii. 4.
• 1 Thess. i. 5.
in us excites any reluctance in the mind of the Spirit; if Jesus do but speak, it is done. Who then would not wish to have this glorious person for his friend? Who does not desire an interest in him? Who would not seek him who is so able and willing to save? Blessed Lord, send thy Spirit now to testify of thee, and to glorify thee in all our hearts!]
2. How unspeakable is the happiness of Christ's faithful people!
[These enjoy the witness of the Spirit in their own hearts. The Spirit not only testifies to them that Jesus is the Saviour of believers in general, but their Saviour in particular: he witnesses to, and with, their spirits, that they are children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ'. Can we conceive any greater happiness than this? Surely not in this present world. Let every one then aspire after this honour: let every one seek the Spirit, not merely as an instructor, but a comforter. Thus shall we be filled with consolation, even under the most afflictive circumstances; and his testimonies shall prove to us an earnest, and a foretaste, of our heavenly inheritance.]
q 1 John v. 10.
Rom. viii. 16, 17.
OFFICES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
John xvi. 8-11. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
IN judging of the dispensations of God's providence or grace, we are extremely apt to err. Hence we often mourn for things, which, if we knew the end of them, would afford us occasion for joy. This was the case with the Disciples, who were dejected on account of their Lord's approaching departure from them. To relieve their minds, our Lord not only promised them another Comforter, but told them for what ends and purposes that Comforter should come: I. To "convince the world of sin "
This office the Spirit executed among the Jews
[The sin of rejecting Christ was that which the Spirit was more particularly to reveal to the world; and he discovered it fully by his miraculous operations on the Disciples, and wrought an irresistible conviction of it by his gracious influences on the hearts of thousands.]
This office too he yet executes in the Christian Church
[The external testimony which he gave, remains the same in all ages: the internal witness is given to those only whom "God has ordained to life." To them the Spirit shews the number, the greatness, the malignity of their sins; and particularly, the guilt, and danger of that unbelief, in which they have ignorantly lain. This is the Spirit's work; nor is it wrought in any, but by his almighty power".]
If he proceeded no farther, he would not be a Comforter; but it is his office also,
II. To convince the world" of righteousness ”—
This also was accomplished by him on his first descent from heaven
[Christ, though professing himself the Saviour of the world, had been crucified as a malefactor. The Spirit therefore was to evince, both that Christ was a righteous person, and that through his righteousness others also might be saved. Accordingly, by his descent, the Spirit proved these things beyond a doubt. He shewed that Christ was accepted of the Father (which he would not have been, if he had been an impostor), and had finished all that was necessary for our salvation; seeing that, if any thing had remained to have been done on earth, he must have returned hither in order to complete it. He moreover inclined, and enabled multitudes to believe on HIM for righteousness, whom they had just before reprobated as worthy of universal execration.]
And yet daily is he occupied in glorifying Christ among us
[Whomsoever the Spirit convinces thoroughly of sin, he leads also to discoveries of Christ. He shews to the soul
a Christ had rested, as it were, the whole credit of his Messiahship on this one point: consequently, the visible descent of the Spirit, accompanied with the miraculous gift of tongues, was such an attestation to Christ, as could not be doubted, and such a reproof to his murderers as could not be withstood.
b Zech. iv. 6. 2 Cor. v. 5. 1 Cor. xii. 11.
See the text.
the suitableness and all-sufficiency of Christ's righteousness to all those who trust in it, and leads them, with holy glorying, to say, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength."] He has yet further undertaken,
III. To convince the world of judgment
He shewed to the first Christians that Satan was a vanquished foe
[By the descent of the Spirit it was manifest, that Christ had triumphed over sin and Satan, death and hell. By his gracious influences also, he rescued myriads from their power, and inspired them with an holy confidence, that they should finally prevail over all their spiritual enemies.]
Thus at this day does he cause the weakest to exult over their fallen enemy
[However active and malicious Satan is, his head is bruised", his power is limited', his doom is fixed. Of this the Holy Spirit assures the weak and trembling believer; and puts into his mouth, even in the midst of all his conflicts, that triumphant song1-]
1. Of conviction
[All true Christians have received the Spirit for the ends and purposes for which he is here promised. In vain then will be our orthodoxy in sentiment, if we have not this evidence of our conversion to Godm. Let us pray that the Spirit may be poured out upon us; and let our views of our guilt and weakness lead us to glory in Christ alone.]
2. Of consolation
[Are we bowed down with a sense of sin? we may be sure that Christ has sent his Spirit to work that conviction in us; and that, if we be instant in prayer, he will, by the same Spirit, lead us also to a view of his righteousness. Are we ready to despond by reason of the power of sin? the resistance which the Holy Spirit has enabled us already to make to its dominion, is a pledge that "we shall be more than conquerors, through Him that loved us "." Let us only seek the Spirit as our Comforter, and we need regret no loss, no pain, no trouble, that may be the means of bringing him into our hearts.]
8 2 Tim. i. 12.
e Isai. xlv. 24.
Eph. iv. 8. Col. ii. 15. i Rev. ii. 10. 1 Pet. v. 8. m Rom. viii. 9.