Archive for July, 2000

Beware the False Prophets!

Throughout the past months, I have been deluged with email from self
proclaiming “Prophets”, “Apostles” and “Messengers of God”, who are either
teaching “Another Gospel”, or proclaiming a message from God, when God is
not speaking (to them) at all!!! Beloved, I cannot stress enough the
importance of testing the spirits whenever you see, read or hear from
anyone proclaiming “revelation” from God!

The Internet is a wonderful tool – when used properly. It is also an evil
tool of tremendous force when used incorrectly; when used by those who
wish to deceive, distort or destroy the very faith that we know through
Jesus Christ. All too often, I am presented with letters from those who
are new or weak in their faith, or whose concept of Christianity has been
distorted by some teaching or other that they have discovered on the
Internet. It is presumed that just because something is “published”, that
it must have credence and credibility. This is a lie!

Anybody with a computer and a phone line can receive free access to the
Internet, and once online, they are free to publish and promote their
rubbish to a world anxious to receive news from “GOD”! For the past six
months I have been witnessing to a sister whose faith is troubled by doubt
and insecurity over the matter of her salvation through Jesus Christ.
Recently, I discovered the source of her grief:

An Internet Web Site that she found, told her that salvation through Jesus
Christ comes only AFTER she begins walking on the narrow path of obedience
and discipleship. She, and unknown others, have been told that until
she/they can shed every sin from her life, she/they remain(s) lost! I
strenuously pointed to the Book of Galatians, and cited the reality of
“Another Gospel” being presented to her. I forcefully reminded her that
she was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and that the Holy
Spirit comes once a proclamation of that faith in Jesus is made… And, I
reminded her that only in the Spirit of God is the faith walk possible at
all!

Faith comes first, obedience and discipleship follow closely. Sadly, she
has not written back! Elsewhere, I am receiving letters from the “Apostle
of North America” and his minions, who are telling me that I must “report”
to this “Apostle” in order to, “Receive your final cleansing, instruction
and salvation.” Can you imagine the gall? I am supposed to check-in with
this guy to receive my “salvation”???

On a similar front, I recently received another “prophetic message” from a
group of “Apostles” who want me to send proof of my conversion – and
visitation from God – so that I can be accepted (by them) into the
“official ranks” of the end time Apostles of Jesus Christ………… May
God have mercy!

And finally, there are the false prophets who are proclaiming their
messages! What truly is amazing about these later day prophets though, is
that their messages are frequently accompanied by a disclaimer. For
instance, and in case you didn’t know, the rapture was supposed to occur
on June 10th., 2000. (Oh, were you out of that loop?)

Anyway, this “prophetic word” spread like wildfire over the Internet – but
a disclaimer accompanied the message (which I can only imagine was
supposed to “save the prophet” from ridicule when the event did not take
place). The disclaimer? “If the event does not take place, it is because
God changed His mind”…. Do I hear a collective, DUH???

While many in Christ are mature enough to see through these deceptions,
brethren, we must stand firm in our faith against these false
practitioners. And, we must rebuke them in the loving humility of Jesus
Christ, whenever we can. But, we must not associate with them – or read
their publications – or support them in any manner. Bad company corrupts
good morals!

As the world races toward the end of this age, and as we near the return
of our Lord and Savior, prepare your hearts for an intense spiritual
battle. Prepare your hearts and minds with the fullness of God’s Word, and
do not become distracted by that which is false. When Jesus appoints His
“Apostles”, no man will intervene! When Jesus appoints His “Prophets”, no
error will be found! When Jesus appoints His “Laborers”, the focus will
not be on “me”, “mine” or “I”, but will always point to the fullness of
salvation through Jesus Christ!

Embed these truth’s in your heart, beloved. God (and His Love) never
fails! I remain faithfully and humbly yours in Christ Jesus,

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Pastoral Testimony

I have never written to this list before, I’m a messed up and undone man.
I hope that some of this sharing of my heart provides a witness in the
spirit with some of you on this list.

To make a long biography short, I have a full time “secular” job and I’m
also a “Pastor” of a small assembly. I had been an associate pastor for a
few years, but since the last 4 months I have replaced our previous pastor
who has went on to another calling. I have no formal theological/ seminary
education. My wife is the “worship” director and the “women’s ministry
leader” We have worn the names of about everything you could ever be in an
Institutionalized Church. We also know what it is like to be “busy for the
Lord” like Martha was. I have used parenthesis in these words because the
definitions seem to change daily as the titles of “man” are swallowed up
in the purposes of God.

In our church we have totally changed our approach to the Lord during our
“services.” It has been a mutual conviction among the leadership and
myself to stop our attempt in keeping a program going, or “entertaining
the crowd.” When we gather together our main focus is to minister to the
Lord as a body. Our Sunday meetings are held in a high school auditorium.
We set up and tear down our sound and music equipment every time we are
there. We begin at a certain time and quit whenever. Lately, I have just
wanted to sit at the Lord’s feet and learn while praising and worshipping
Him. My desire to teach and preach has been changed. I love to teach but I
feel like I’m on a dead run in pursuit of his glory through praise and
worship when we meet as a congregation.

It used to be a few songs and an hour plus of the Word. Some would not
come until the preaching started. It seemed that the “worship time” was
just a optional added event to the “putting your time in” on Sunday. Now
we have little or no preaching and spend the rest of the time ministering
to the Lord. If you stop and think about how much time the church in
general has in corporate intimate time ministering to the Lord. Or think
about the time spent in true worship. I’m sure it is very little, if at
all.

I have found that the Lord can speak from his presence a few words to a
person that could produce more of a change that a million sermons from man
could. It seems that when a pastor is continually preaching to a
congregation midweek after midweek, Sunday after Sunday something very
subtle happens to them both. The first, is the pastor gets a feeling of
being “needed” by the congregation. Lets face it, we all love to feel
purpose and being wanted. And of course, he must earn his pay, so the
feeding continues. The worst outcome of this type of ministry is when the
redeemed start to let the man behind the pulpit become their spiritual
ears and spiritual eyes. The conviction of the pulpit precedes the
conviction of the congregation. It seems that we humans default to being
lazy. If someone else will do my job and I still will benefit from
it…Great! We want our money out of him too. Why should the congregation
try to hear from the Lord when the Pastor already has?

We become eaters of the bread of “second hand revelation” when we put
ourselves in this lazy mode of letting someone else “hear” or “see” for
us. The sad thing is the flock never recognizes the voice of the Great
Shepherd, just the voice of the pastor or Prophet. This is how many will
be deceived in the last days. They will follow the voice of another
“anointed one.” We need the five fold ministry, but it is to teach us to
know the Lord and personally recognize His voice in order to do His work.
This also applies to the Apostle, Prophet and Evangelist. We work out our
OWN salvation but we also are called as a whole body.

If you are among the hungry and thirsty in the congregation there is a
great chance for frustration to occur. One week, THIS is how we have
victory in Christ, the next week THIS is how we have victory in Christ. So
each week you try what someone else said. Each week you grow more and
more
frustrated. As Jesus said to Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Well the
pastor says, or the elders say…No, “Who do you say that I am?” You, your
self need a personal encounter with, and a revelation of Christ. It needs
to revealed first hand from God to you. In all this I am NOT taking away
from teaching the Word. Mature believers are to be equipped for duty, not
fattened and spoon fed. And equipping them is teaching them to walk on
their own and hear the Lord personally.

When the church meets we all have something to offer. We have an “open
microphone” policy and the congregation is encouraged to share what the
Lord is saying. Each person is inspired to use their spiritual gifts as
God leads. I guess the key words are “as God leads.” The worship team does
not “perform” any more. As the whole congregation seeks the Lord, each
individual waits to be led to their instrument or place of worship. If no
person is led to their place, the set up time was for nothing. So be it.
There is one interesting thing about waiting on the Lord’s leading rather
than a having a program. When we are “out of it” there is no program to
smooth it over. You feel it, and it is not a good feeling. Church is not
about spectators it is about participants. Take the players off the field,
you have no game. No participation in service, you have no church.
Participation isn’t about being “busy” in the church, it’s about letting
Christ work through you individually to accomplish the overall.

I have felt much confirmation when reading the books. “God Chasers”, and
“God’s Favorite House” by Tommy Tenney. Like him, I’m so sick of “doing
church.” I am hungry to see God come in his glory and “do the church.” We
have carried the Ark on the ox cart of man’s ways long enough. As I said
earlier I am messed up in my spirit. All I care to do when we gather is to
seek His face and provide a place for His glory to rest if He chooses to
visit us.

I have also done a little research into our Jewish roots and have read the
book “Open Church” by James Rutz. It made me sick to see just how pagan
and far off from the original plan and blueprint of the church most of us
are. How can God come in His glory to a house that he doesn’t even
recognize. How would you feel if the contractor that you hired ended up
building your custom designed home his own way? We hold dearly in our lap
and pet doctrines that have roots that come from the “minds” not the Holy
Spirit of our “early church fathers” which for the most part were pagan.
Salvation becomes us accepting God rather than God accepting us. Grace is
cheap and abused, repentance is shallow. See Andrew Strom’s article on his
website about “Asking Jesus into your heart.” Oh by the way, I agree 100%
with what Andrew wrote about this easy believeism. How far we have strayed
from the “original recipe.” How little the church resembles the early book
of Acts church. I have heard that the last chapter of Acts is yet to be
written, spiritually not literally. I know it will not be about what the
current “mode” is.

I have learned to question everything from the mind and mouth of man. You
need to separate the bones from the meat. Ask yourself, why do I do this?
Why do I do that? It is so easy to run to a man for an answer, or go to
the latest seminar. Why not lock your self in your prayer closet and wait
on God until he shows you. Too many Ideas, too few revelations. “This is
what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Do not listen to what the prophets are
prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions
from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to
those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who
follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to
you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to
hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” (Jeremiah 23:16-18)

I’m sick of the ox cart, I want the restoration of the tabernacle of David
in it’s fullness, I want the Ark back in Zion…

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Humility

I believe there is a great transition coming to the body
of Christ. What this will look like I do not fully know.
I do know this, at His last coming His own rejected Him
because they knew Him not. They had a religious system
that had no room for Him. A system built on the letter of the
law and not the spirit of it. A system built on
performance without relationship, sacrifice without
obedience.

Even those who Jesus called out from this system totally
missed the purpose of His coming. He walked with them for
three years, shared meals with them, raised the dead
before their eyes. And yet when it came time for His
death, they were totally taken by surprise. They lost all
hope, they were scattered like frightened sheep before
the wolf. It is only when Jesus appeared before them
resurrected that they began to understand.

I do not believe our transition will come any easier. We
have had many years to develop our own religious system.
I do not stand in judgment of it. I am a product of it. I
can not point my finger, I can not call down words of
judgment, I can not criticize. All I can do is cry out
for my eyes to be opened and for my ears to hear His
voice.

For those who have been given grace to see their own
religious bondage, do not walk in pride. Your only
protection is to clothe yourselves in humility. For those
who have read “The Final Quest”, I believe there are many
who are now walking off in deception. If we simply judge
the old system without owning it’s sin as our own, we
will just trade the old system for a new one and will be
twice the son of hell as we were in the beginning.

His grace shall sustain those who seek it. His mercy
comes new every morning for those who come to drink of
it. Seek relationship above performance and obedience
before sacrifice. Lay down your plans and desires for
this world and take on the life of a solider living for
the next. What ever grace and wisdom you may find, do not
use it to look down on others, but instead use it to
lower yourself to raise others up. Do not grow weary,
Watch and pray that you may be delivered in this day.

The Fathers Grace and Mercy to you,

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Knowing and Honouring The Lord 1Sam 1-8

1Samuel 2:26 RSV
Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with men.

1Samuel 3:7 RSV
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

After coming to the Lord in an intimate way I realized that many people in the church weren’t like me. They were sincerely trying to be good Christians, but didn’t know the Lord. The Lord revealed Himself to me before I ever tried to be a good Christian”. I walked with Him in my early years as a Christian. It didn’t stay that way forever. In my ministry training years I lost a connection with the Lord. I wanted to be good Christian” and to fulfill my calling. Failure after failure convinced me that this route was utterly futile. Eventually I turned began to trust in the Lord to make me what He wanted me to be.

Ever since that time I really never knew what to the think of those in the Church who didn’t know the Lord. I’ve noticed a few commonalities in those that know the Lord today and those that new Him in the scriptures.

The Lord reveals Himself to who He wants when He wants. He is sovereign and cannot be manipulated or invoked by people.

There are things we do that make it difficult or impossible for the Lord to reveal Himself to us. If we harden our heart against Him, like the Egyptians in the book of Exodus we will not see or hear Him. Like the time of the Exodus the Lord may be doing great works around us, but if are hardened will not see them for what they are worth.

There are we things we can do that make ourselves much more available to receiving form the Lord. Many parables, like the pearl of great price, or the lost coin, illustrate the inward desire to find the Lord. This effort cannot be a selfish effort. The lost coin you seek must not be ministry or religious success. It must be God! When we seek the Lord for ourselves we cut ourselves off from His mighty power.

Samuel grew in stature and favour with the Lord and men even though he didn’t know the Lord or the word of the Lord. He followed the Lord and made himself available to Him. But he didn’t know the Lord yet. This is a very interesting point. It’s comforting in that the Lord uses and blesses those that have yet to come to know Him. It’s also challenging because it says to many Christians You have found favour in my eyes, now come and know Me intimately. There is much more you have to discover.”

In the story of 1 Samuel the Israelites went to battle the philistines and lost. The second time they were to battle they took along the Ark of the Covenant hoping that the strength of the Lord would go with them. They were utterly defeated and the Ark was captured.
After some supernatural persuasion the Philistines sent the Ark back.

Samuel addressed the nation of Israel. He said If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ash’taroth from among you, and direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Even though the people of Israel were His, the Lord would not give them victory over the Philistines, worshippers of Dagon. They tried to invoke His power by bringing the Ark. That didn’t work either. The Lord made sure nothing happened to his Ark, but Israel was embarrassed.

I believe the reason why we walk in such a limited amount of power is we refuse to serve the Lord only. We don’t know the Lord because our motivations for knowing Him come from our own selfishness. It may be our desire to lead a great church, or have a powerful ministry, or some other religious success. The Lord will refuse to endow us with power unless we stop worshipping our other gods and serve the Lord only.

The current priest Eli raised Samuel. Eli had sons Hophni and Phinehas who served as priests as well. The Lord and the people were very upset with these priests because they took the choicest parts of the meat offerings for themselves, and sacrificed the rest to God. They were serving the Lord, but they took just a little bit for themselves.
In the end the Lord punished the entire family and the blessings destined for them were given to Samuel. The Lord endured Eli’s sons, but only for so long. It’s kind of odd the Lord says that those that honour him will be honoured but those that despise Him will be lightly esteemed. I believe many of our ministries are lightly esteemed” because we honour ourselves before we honour God. God didn’t punish the family right away, but it did come.

Notice that Hophni and Phinehas’s actions are equated with despising the Lord. They didn’t despise God in bitterness and rebellion. They just didn’t offer God the respect that He was due. (They also slept with the some of the women that hung around the tabernacle.)

This story parallels much of what is happening in worship today. Worship is a very big deal. Worship materials and music have become significant part of the Christian music and book industry. Worship itself has become an object of worship, an idol. If we continue to split our devotion between the Lord, and ourselves eventually our ministries will suffer the same fate as Hophni and Phinehas.

My friend Scott was in the midst of a spiritual darkness when he wrote a bible school essay on motivations for ministry. In his study he came to the conclusion that there were two things that motivated people in scripture. They did things for God because of who He is and what He has done. This truth shattered one piece of his religion. It was a first major step in growing to know the Lord. It is a truth that the Lord imparted to me through him.

Regardless of our doctrine or denomination, if we do things because of who God is or what He has done, it will bear fruit. When we seek to honour God, God honours us. I believe this is why so many of us with all our faults and distorted doctrine can recognize the fruit of the Lord in our midst. We see the Lord work when we seek to serve Him only. It is also why we see so many ministries become fruitless, or lightly esteemed”.

These are some of the things I learned from the first 8 or so chapters of 1Samuel. I’m kind of a Paul” man and don’t often foray in to the Old Testament but this trip was worth it! I believe the most challenging aspect of this is the absolute necessity of knowing the Lord. We can all be like little Samuel, growing in stature and in honour. In a sense we can be Christians all of our lives faithfully serving the Lord without really knowing Him. This isn’t the ideal. This isn’t what God wants. God wants to reveal Himself to us. God wants us to know, fear, honour, love and trust Him. We can stay where it is safe and simply serve, but our inheritance, our precious gift is that we can know Him. Lets be like Samuel and say Yes Lord, what would you like from me!”.

Grace and Peace to you!

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For Who He Is and What He's Done

I’ve often wondered why the church is so powerless. Even those that attempt to walk in the Spirit and believe in the miraculous walk with such little power. We seem to have more than enough of God’s power to entertain ourselves at our little meetings. When it comes to empowered evangelism or service we come up empty. It’s even more rare outside the confines of our buildings and “crusades”.

A few years ago I noticed that God would empower my speach at certain occasions. Usually in a conversation with someone the Holy Spirit would just take over and amazing things would come out of my mouth. Amazing things would happen. I am often stunned at how God has used me spontaneously.

Then when I’d be scheduled to preach I would prepare for hours, go up and speak and it was just me. No GOD. Where did He go, or where did I go?

I asked the Lord why this was the case. He told me that when I spoke spontanously it was for Him. I had no agenda, no axe to grind, no alterior purpose. When I preached my sermons it was more for me, than it was for Him. He said what I wanted to see happen is often very similar to what he wants to see happen, but I must give up my agenda, and make Him my agenda. He also said that in my preparation for my messages I relied more on my own abilities and training than Him.

Although I have no scripture passages to expound upon with this I’ve come to two conclusions.

  • God’s power is more available when we are completely dependant on it
  • God releases His power to those He trusts. He empowers those who refuse to soil the work of His ministry with their selfish ambition and petty agendas. Those that have made God their purpose.

A friend of mine discovered a truth that changed his life. It was while at a seminary he did an assignment on motivations. He found that those that served the Lord in the bible did things for two main reasons. They did it because of who He is and what He’s done.

I think this is a good test for us today. I believe that if what wanted revival because of who He is and what He’s done, we would have revival. But we want revival for ourselves, and until that changes we will never know true revival.

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01) Shewing That Common and Saving Grace Differ, Not Only In Degree, But in Nature and Kind

SUCH phrases as common grace, and special or saving grace, may be understood
as signifying either diverse kinds of influence of God’s Spirit on the hearts of
men, or diverse fruits and effects of that influence. The Spirit of God is
supposed sometimes to have some influence upon the minds of men that are not
true Christians, and [it is supposed] that those dispositions, frames, and
exercises of their minds that are of a good tendency, but are common to them
with the saints, are in some respect owing to some influence or assistance of
God’s Spirit. But as there are some things in the hearts of true Christians that
are peculiar to them, and that are more excellent than any thing that is to be
found in others, so it is supposed that there is an operation of the Spirit of
God different, and that the value which distinguishes them is owing to a higher
influence and assistance than the virtues of others. So that sometimes the
phrase common grace, is used to signify that kind of action or influence
of the Spirit of God, to which are owing those religious or moral attainments
that are common to both saints and sinners, and so signifies as much as common
assistance; and sometimes those moral or religious attainments themselves that
are the fruits of this assistance, are intended. So likewise the phrase,
special or saving grace, is sometimes used to signify that
peculiar kind or degree of operation or influence of God’s Spirit, whence saving
actions and attainments do arise in the godly, or, which is the same thing,
special and saving assistance; or else to signify that distinguishing saving
virtue itself, which is the fruit of this assistance. These phrases are more
frequently understood in the latter sense, viz., nor for common and special
assistance, but for common and special, or saving virtue, which is the fruit of
that assistance, and so I would be understood by these phrases in this
discourse.

And that special or saving grace in this sense is not only different from
common grace in degree, but entirely diverse in nature and kind, and that
natural men not only have not a sufficient degree of virtue to be saints, but
that they have no degree of that grace that is in godly men, is what I have now
to shew.

1. This is evident by what Christ says in John 3:6, where Christ,
speaking of regeneration, says — “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and
that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Now, whatever Christ intends by the
terms flesh and spirit in the words, yet this much is manifested and undeniable,
that Christ here intends to shew Nicodemus the necessity of a new birth, or
another birth than his natural birth, and that, from this argument, that a man
that has been the subject only of the first birth, has nothing of that in his
heart which he must have in order to enter in the kingdom. He has nothing at all
of that which Christ calls spirit, whatever that be. All that a man [has] that
has been the subject only of a natural birth don’t go beyond that which Christ
calls flesh, for however it may be refined and exalted, yet it cannot be raised
above flesh. ‘Tis plain, that by flesh and spirit, Christ here intends two
things entirely different in nature, which cannot be one from the other. A man
cannot have anything of a nature superior to flesh that is not born again, and
therefore we must be “born again.” That by flesh and spirit are intended certain
moral principles, natures, or qualities, entirely different and opposite in
their nature one to another, is manifest from other texts, as particularly: Gal
5:17– “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the
flesh: and they are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the
things which ye would;” Ver.19, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which
are these: Adultery, fornication,” etc. Ver.22– “But the fruit if the Spirit is
love, joy, peace,” etc; and by Gal. 6:8– “For he that soweth to the flesh shall
of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the
Spirit reap life everlasting.” Rom. 8:6-9– “For to be carnally minded is death,
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” etc. 1 Cor 3:1– “And I,
brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even
as unto babes in Christ.” So that it is manifest by this, that men that have
been the subjects only of the first birth, have no degree of that moral
principle or quality that those that are new born have, whereby they have a
title to the kingdom of heaven. This principle or quality comes out then no
otherwise than by birth, and the birth that it must come by is not, cannot be,
the first birth, but it must be a new birth. If men that have no title to the
kingdom of heaven, could have something of the Spirit, as well as flesh, then
Christ’s argument would be false. It is plain, by Christ’s reasoning, that those
that are not in a state of salvation, cannot have these two opposite principle
in their hearts together, some flesh and some spirit, lusting one against the
other as the godly have, but that they have flesh only.

2. That the only principle in those that are savingly converted, whence
gracious acts flow, which in the language of Scripture is called the Spirit, and
set in opposition to the flesh, is that which others not only have not a
sufficient degree of, but have nothing at all of
, is further manifest,
because the Scripture asserts both negatively, that those that have not the
Spirit are not Christ’s
. Romans 8:9– “But ye are not in the flesh but in
the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have
not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his;” and also [positively]
that those that have the Spirit are His. 1 John 3:24– “Hereby we know
that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath given us.” And our having the
Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts is mentioned as a certain sign that persons
are entitled to heaven, and is called the earnest of the future inheritance (2
Cor 1:22 and v.5, Eph. 1:14;) which it would not be if others that had no title
to the inheritance might have some of it dwelling in them.

Yea, that those that are not true saints have nothing of the Spirit, no part
nor portion of it, is still more evident, because not only a having any
particular motion of the Spirit, but a being of the Spirit is given as a
sure sign of being in Christ. 1 John 4:13– “Hereby know we that we dwell in
him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” If those that
are not true saints have any degree of that spiritual principle, then though
they have not so much, yet they have of it, and so that would be no sign
that a person is in Christ. If those that have not a saving interest in Christ
have nothing of the Spirit, then they have nothing; no degree of those graces
that are the fruits of the Spirit, mentioned in Gal 5:22– “But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance.” Those fruits are here mentioned with that very design,
that we may know whether we have the Spirit or no.

3. Those that are not true saints, and in a state of salvation, not only
have not so much of that holy nature and Divine principle that is in the hearts
of the saints, but they do not partake of it
, because a being “partakers
of the divine nature
” is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of true saints,
(2 Peter 1:4.) It is evident that it is the true saints that the apostle is
there speaking of. The words in this verse with the foregoing are these:
“According as his Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him that hath called us to
glory and virtue: whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust.” The “Divine nature” and “lust”
are evidently here spoken of as two opposite principles in man. Those that are
in the world, and that are the men of the world, have only the latter principle;
but to be partakers of the Divine nature is spoken of as peculiar to them that
are distinguished and separated from the world, by the free and sovereign grace
of God giving them all things that pertain to life and godliness, giving the
knowledge of Him and calling them to glory and virtue, and giving them the
exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, and that have escaped the
corruption of the world of wicked men. And a being partakers of the Divine
nature is spoken of, not only as peculiar to the saints, but as one of the
highest privileges of the saints.

4. That those that have not a saving interest in Christ have no degree of
that relish and sense of spiritual things or things of the Spirit, of their
Divine truth and excellency, which a true saint has, is evident by
1 Cor.
2:14– “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned.” A natural man is here set in opposition to a spiritual one, or one
that has the Spirit, as appears by the foregoing and following verses. Such we
have shewn already the Scripture declares all true saints to be, and no other.
Therefore by natural men are meant those that have not the Spirit of Christ and
are none of His, and are the subjects of no other than the natural birth. But
here we are plainly taught that a natural man is perfectly destitute of any
sense, perception, or discerning of those things of the Spirit. [We are taught
that] by the words “he neither does nor can know them, or discern them;” so far
from this they are “foolishness unto him;” he is a perfect stranger, so that he
does not know what the talk of such things means; they are words without a
meaning to him; he knows nothing of the matter any more than a blind man of
colours.

Hence it will follow, that the sense of things of religion that a natural man
has, is not only not to the same degree, but nothing of the same nature with
that which a true saint has. And besides, if a natural person has the fruit of
the Spirit, which is of the same kind with what a spiritual person has, then he
experiences within himself the things of the Spirit of God; and how then can he
be said to be such a stranger to them, and have no perception or discerning of
them?

The reason why natural men have no knowledge of spiritual things is, because
they have nothing of the Spirit of God dwelling in them. This is evident by the
context: for there we are told that it is by the Spirit that these things are
taught, (verses 10-12;) godly persons in the next verse are called spiritual,
because they have the Spirit dwelling in them. Hereby the sense again is
confirmed, for natural men are in no degree spiritual; they have only nature and
no Spirit. If they had anything of the Spirit, though not in so great a degree
as the godly, yet they would be taught spiritual things, or things of the
Spirit, in proportion to the measure of the Spirit that they had. The Spirit
that searcheth all things would teach them in some measure. There would not be
so great a difference that the one could perceive nothing of them, and that they
should be foolishness to them, while to the other they appear divinely and
remarkably wise and excellent, as they are spoken of in the context, (verses
6-9,) and as such the apostle spoke here of discerning them.

The reason why natural men have no knowledge or perception of spiritual
things is, because they have none of the anointing spoken of, (1 John 2:27:)
“The anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and you need not
that any man teach you.” This anointing is evidently spoken of here, as a thing
peculiar to true saints. Ungodly men never had any degree of that holy oil
poured upon them, and therefore have no discerning of spiritual things.
Therefore none of that sense that natural men have of things of religion, is of
the same nature with what the godly have. But to these they are totally blind.
Therefore in conversion the eyes of the blind are opened. The world is wholly
unacquainted with the Spirit of God, as appears by John 14:17, where we read
about “the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it knoweth him
not.”

5. Those that go for those in religion that are not true saints and in a
state of salvation have no charity, as is plainly implied in the beginning of
the 13th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians.
Therefore they have
no degree of that kind of grace, disposition, or affection that is so called. So
Christ elsewhere reproves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion among
the Jews, that they had not the love of God in them, (John 5:42.)

6. That those that are not true saints have no degree of that grace that
the saints have is evident, because they have no communion or fellowship with
Christ.
If those that are not true saints partake of any of that Spirit,
those holy inclinations and affections, and gracious acts of soul that the godly
have from the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, then they would have communion
with Christ. The communion of saints with Christ does certainly very much
consist in that receiving of His fulness and partaking of His grace spoken of,
John 1:16– “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace,” and in
partaking of that Spirit which God gives not by measure unto Him. Partaking of
Christ’s holiness and grace, His nature, inclinations, tendencies, love, and
desires, comforts and delights, must be to have communion with Christ. Yea, a
believer’s communion with the Father and the Son does mainly consist in
his partaking of the Holy Ghost, as appears by 2 Cor. 13:14–”The grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy
Ghost.”

But that unbelievers have no fellowship or communion with Christ appears,
(1.) because they are not united to Christ. They are not in Christ. For the
Scripture is very plain and evident in this, that those that are in Christ are
actually in a state of salvation, and are justified, sanctified, accepted of
Christ, and shall be saved. Phil. 3:8-9–”Yea doubtless, and I count all things
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I
have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win
Christ, and be found in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:17– “If any man be in
Christ
, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all
things are become new.” 1 John 2:5–”But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily
is the love of God perfected : hereby know we that we are in Him; and
3:24– “He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And
hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” But
those that are not in Christ, and are not united to Him, can have no degree of
communion with Him. For there is no communion without union. The members can
have no communion with the head or participation of its life and health unless
they are united to it. The branch must be united with the vine, otherwise there
can be no communication from the vine to it, nor any partaking of any degree of
its sap, or life, or influence. So without the union of the wife to the husband,
she can have no communion in his goods. (2.) The Scripture does more directly
teach that it is only true saints that have communion with Christ, as
particularly this is most evidently spoken of as what belongs to the saints, and
to them only, in 1 John 1:3, together with verses 6-7– “That which we have seen
and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and
truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Ver.
6–”If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie,
and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we
have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin.” Also in 1 Cor. 1:9–”God is faithful, by whom ye
were called unto the fellowship of his Son Christ Jesus our Lord.”

7. The Scripture speaks of the actual being of a truly holy and gracious
principle in the heart, as inconsistent with a man’s being a sinner or a wicked
man.
1 John 3:9– “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his
seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Here it is
needless to dispute what is intended by this seed, whether it be a principle of
true virtue and a holy nature in the soul, or whether it be the word of God as
the cause of that virtue. For let us understand it in either sense, it comes to
much the same thing in the present argument ; for if by the seed is meant the
word of God, yet when it is spoken of as abiding in him that is born again, it
must be intended, with respect to its effect, as a holy principle in his heart :
for the word of God does not abide in one that is born again more than another,
any other way than in its effect. The word of God abides in the heart of a
regenerate person as a holy seed, a Divine principle there, though it may be but
as a seed, a small thing. The seed is a very small part of the plant, and is its
first principle. It may be in the heart as a grain of mustard-seed, may be hid,
and seem to be in great measure buried in the earth. But yet it is inconsistent
with wickedness. The smallest degrees and first principles of a Divine and holy
nature and disposition are inconsistent with a state of sin; whence it is said
“he cannot sin.” There is no need here of a critical inquiry into the import of
that expression; for doubtless so much at least is implied through this, “his
seed being in him,” as is inconsistent with his being a sinner or a wicked man.
So that this heavenly plant of true holiness cannot be in the heart of a sinner,
no, not so much as in its first principle.

8. This is confirmed by the things that conversion is represented by in
the Scriptures, particularly its being represented as a work of creation
.
When God creates He does not merely establish and perfect the things which were
made before, but makes wholly and immediately something entirely new, either out
of nothing, or out of that which was perfectly void of any such nature, as when
He made man of the dust of the earth. “The things that are seen are not made of
things that do appear. Saving grace in man is said to be the new man or a new
creature, and corrupt nature the old man. If that nature that is in the heart of
a godly man be not different in its nature and kind from all that went before,
then the man might possibly have had the same things a year before, and from
time to time from the beginning of his life, but only not quite to the same
degree. And how then is grace in him, the new man or the new creature?

Again, conversion is often compared to a resurrection. Wicked men are said to
be dead, but when they are converted they are represented as being by God’s
mighty and effectual power raised from the dead. Now there is no medium between
being dead and alive. He that is dead has no degree of life ; he that has the
least degree of life in him is alive. When a man is raised from the dead, life
is not only in a greater degree, but it is all new.

The same is manifest by conversion being represented as a new birth or as
regeneration. Generation is not only perfecting what is old, but ’tis a
begetting from the new. Then nature and life that is then received has then its
beginning: it receives its first principles.

Again conversion in Scripture is represented as an opening of the eyes of the
blind. In such a work those have light given them that were totally destitute of
it before. So in conversion, stones are said to be raised up children to
Abraham: while stones they are altogether destitute of all those qualities that
afterwards render them the living children of Abraham, and not only had them not
in so great a degree. Agreeably to this, conversion is said to be a taking away
a heart of stone and a giving a heart of flesh. The man while unconverted has a
heart of stone which has no degree of that life and sense that the heart of
flesh has, because it yet remains a stone, than which nothing is further from
life and sense.

Inference 1. — From what has been said, I would observe that it
must needs be that conversion is wrought at once
. That knowledge, that
reformation and conviction that is preparatory to conversion may be gradual, and
the work of grace after conversion may be gradually carried on, yet that work of
grace upon the soul where by a person is brought out of a state of total
corruption and depravity into a state of grace, to an interest in Christ, and to
be actually a child of God, is in a moment.

It must needs be the consequence; for if that grace or virtue that a person
has when he is brought into a state of grace be entirely different in nature and
kind from all that went before, then it will follow that the last instant before
a person is actually a child of God and in a state of grace, a person has not
the least degree of any real goodness, and of that true virtue that is in a
child of God.

Those things by which conversion is represented in Scripture hold forth the
same thing. In creation something is brought out of nothing in an instant. God
speaks and it is done, He commands and it stands fast. When the dead are raised,
it is done in a moment. Thus when Christ called Lazarus out of his grave, it was
not a gradual work. He said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and there went life with the
call. He heard His voice and lived. So Christ, John 5:25– “Verily, verily, I
say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice
of the Son of God : and they that hear shall live,”–which words must be
understood of the work of conversion. In creation, being is called out of
nothing and instantly obeys the call, and in the resurrection the dead are
called into life: as soon as the call is given the dead obey.

By reason of this instantaneousness of the work of conversion, one of the
names under which conversion is frequently spoken of in Scripture, is
calling: Rom. 8:28-30–”And we know that all things work together for
good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image
of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he
did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also
justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Acts 2:37-39– “Now
when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and
to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said
unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For
the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,
even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Heb. 9:15, (last clause)–”That
they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” 1
Thess. 5:23-24 –”And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly… Faithful is
he that calleth you, who also will do it.” Nothing else can be meant in those
places by calling than what Christ does in a sinner’s saving conversion. By
which it seems evident that it is done at once and not gradually; whereby
Christ, through His great power, does but speak the powerful word and it is
done, He does but call and the heart of the sinner immediately comes. It seems
to be symbolised by Christ’s calling His disciples, and their immediately
following Him. So when He called Peter, Andrew, James, and John, they were
minding other things ; but at His call they immediately left all and followed
Him. Matt. 4:18-22– Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea, and
Christ says to them as He passed by, Follow me ; and it is said, they
straightway left their nets and followed Him. So James and John were in the ship
with Zebedee their father mending their nets, and He called them, and
immediately they left the ship and their father and followed Him. So when
Matthew was called: Matt. 9:9– “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a
man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him,
Follow me. And he arose and followed Him.” Now whether they were then converted
or not, yet doubtless Christ in thus calling His first disciples to a visible
following of Him, represents to us the manner in which He would call men to be
truly His disciples and spiritually to follow Him in all ages. There is
something immediately and instantaneously put into their hearts at that call
that they had nothing of before, that effectually disposes them to follow.

It is very manifest that almost all the miracles of Christ that He wrought
when on earth were types of His great work of converting sinners, and the manner
of His working those miracles holds forth the instantaneousness of the work of
conversion. Thus when He healed the leper, which represented His healing us of
our spiritual leprosy, He put forth His hand and touched him, and said, “I will;
be thou clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matt. 8:3; Mark 1:42;
Luke 5:13. And so, in opening the eyes of the blind, which represents His
opening the eyes of our blind souls, (Matt. 20:30 etc., ) He touched their eyes,
and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. So Mark 10:52;
Luke 18:43– So when He healed the sick, which represents His healing our
spiritual diseases, or conversion, it was done at once. Thus when He healed
Simon’s wife’s mother, (Mark 1:31,) He took her by the hand and lifted her up;
and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. So when the
woman which had the issue of blood touched the hem of Christ’s garment,
immediately the issue of blood stanched, (Luke 8:44.) So the woman that was
bowed together with the spirit of infirmity, when Christ laid His hands upon
her, immediately she was made straight, and glorified God, (Luke 13:12-13;)
which represents that action on the soul whereby He gives an upright heart, and
sets the soul at liberty from its bondage to glorify Him. So the man at the pool
of Bethesda, when Christ bade him rise, take up his bed and walk, (he) was
immediately made whole, (John 5:8-9.) After the same manner Christ cast out
devils, which represents His dispossessing the devil of our souls in conversion;
and so He settled the winds and waves, representing His subduing, in conversion,
the heart of the wicked, which is like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest;
and so He raised the dead, which represented His raising dead souls.

The same is confirmed by those things which conversion is compared to in
Scripture. It is often compared to a resurrection. Natural men (as was said
before) are said to be dead, and to be raised when they are converted by God’s
mighty effectual power from the dead. Now, there is no medium between being dead
and alive ; he that is dead has no degree of life in him, he that has the least
degree of life in him is alive. When a man is raised from the dead, life is not
only in a greater degree in him than it was before, but it is all new. The work
of conversion seems to be compared to a raising the dead to life, in this very
thing, even its instantaneousness, or its being done, as it were, at a word’s
speaking. As in John 5:25, (before quoted)– “Verily, verily, I say unto you,
the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of
God: and they that hear shall live.” He speaks here of a work of conversion, as
appears by the preceding verse; and by the words themselves, which speak of the
time of this raising the dead, not only as to come hereafter, but as what was
already come. This shews conversion to be an immediate instantaneous work, like
to the change made on Lazarus when Christ called him from the grave: there went
life with the call, and Lazarus was immediately alive. Immediately before the
call sinners are dead or wholly destitute of life, as appears by the expression,
The dead shall hear the voice,” and immediately after the call they are
alive; yea, there goes life with the word, as is evident, not only because it is
said they shall live, but also because it is said, they shall hear His voice.
The first moment they have any life is the moment when Christ calls, and as soon
as they are called, which further appears by what was observed before, even that
a being called and converted are spoken of in Scripture as the same thing.

The same is confirmed (as observed before) from conversion being compared to
a work of creation, which is a work wherein something is made either out of
nothing, or out of that having no degree of the same kind of qualities and
principles, as when God made man of the dust of the earth. Thus it is said, “If
any man be in Christ he is a new creature;” which obviously implies that he is
an exceeding diverse kind of creature from what he was before he was in Christ,
that the principle or qualities that he has by which he is a Christian, are
entirely new, and what there was nothing of, before he was in Christ.

Inference 2. Hence we may learn that it is impossible for men to
convert themselves
by their own strength and industry, with only a
concurring assistance helping in the exercise of their natural abilities and
principles of the soul, and securing their improvement. For what is gained after
this manner is a gradual acquisition, and not something instantaneously
begotten, and of an entirely different nature, and wholly of a separate kind,
from all that was in the nature of the person the moment before. All that men
can do by their own strength and industry is only gradually to increase and
improve and new-model and direct qualities, principles, and perfections of
nature that they have already. And that is evident, because a man in the
exercise and improvement of the strength and principles of his own nature has
nothing but the qualities, powers, and perfections that are already in his
nature to work with, and nothing but them to work upon; and therefore ’tis
impossible that by this only, anything further should be brought to pass, than
only a new modification of what is already in the nature of the soul. That which
is only by an improvement of natural qualities, principles, and perfections –
let these things be improved never so much and never so industriously, and never
so long, they’ll still be no more than an improvement of those natural
qualities, principles, and perfections; and therefore not anything of an
essentially distinct and superior nature and kind.

‘Tis impossible (as Dr Clarke observes) “that any effect should have any
perfection that was not in the cause: for if it had, then that perfection would
be caused by nothing.” ‘Tis therefore utterly impossible that men’s natural
perfections and qualities in that exercise, and however assisted in that
exercise, should produce in the soul a principle or perfection of a nature
entirely different from all of them, or any manner of improvement or
modification of them.

The qualities and principles of natural bodies, such as figure or motion, can
never produce anything beyond themselves. If infinite comprehensions and
divisions be eternally made, the things must still be eternally the same, and
all their possible effects can never be anything but repetitions of the same.
Nothing can be produced by only those qualities of figure and motion, beyond
figure and motion: and so nothing can be produced in the soul by only its
internal principles, beyond these principles or qualities, or new improvements
and modifications of them. And if we suppose a concurring assistance to enable
to a more full and perfect exercise of those natural principles and qualities,
unless the assistance of influence actually produces something beyond the
exercise of internal principle: still, it is the same thing. Nothing will be
produced but only an improvement and new modification of those principles that
are exercised. Therefore it follows that saving grace in the heart, can’t be
produced in man by mere exercise of what perfections he has in him already,
though never so much assisted by moral suasion, and never so much assisted in
the exercise of his natural principles, unless there be something more that all
this, viz., an immediate infusion or operation of the Divine Being upon the
soul. Grace must be the immediate work of God, and properly a production of His
almighty power on the soul.

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02) Shewing Wherin All Saving Grace Does Summarily Consist

The next thing that arises for consideration is, What is the nature of this
Divine principle in the soul that is so entirely diverse from all that is
naturally in the soul? Here I would observe,–

1. That that saving grace that is in the hearts if the saints, that within
them [which is] above nature, and entirely distinguishes ‘em from all
unconverted men, is radically but one — i.e., however various its exercises
are, yet it is but one in its root; ’tis one individual principle in the
heart.

‘Tis common for us to speak of various graces of the Spirit of God as though
they were so many different principles of holiness, and to call them by distinct
names as such, — repentance, humility, resignation, thankfulness, etc. But we
err if we imagine that these in their first source and root in the heart are
properly distinct principles. They all come from the same fountain, and are,
indeed, the various exertions and conditions of the same thing, only different
denominations according to the various occasions, objects, and manners,
attendants and circumstances of its exercise. There is some one holy principle
in the heart that is the essence and sum of all grace, the root and source of
all holy acts of every kind, and the fountain of every good stream, into which
all Christian virtues may ultimately be resolved, and in which all duty and
[all] holiness is fulfilled.

Thus the Scripture represents it. Grace in the soul is one fountain of water
of life, (John 4:14,) and not various distinct fountains. So God, in the work of
regeneration, implants one heavenly seed in the soul, and not various different
seeds. 1 John 3:9–”Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his
seed remaineth in him.” … The Day [that] has arisen on the soul is but
one. The oil in the vessel is simple and pure, conferred by one holy anointing.
All is “wrought” by one individual work of the Spirit of God. And thus it is
there is a consentanation of graces. Not only is one grace in some way allied to
another, and so tends to help and promote one another, but one is really implied
in the other. The nature of one involves the nature of another. And the great
reason of it is, that all graces have one common essence, the original principle
of all, and is but one. Strip the various parts of the Christian soul of their
circumstances, concomitants, appendages, means, and occasions, and consider that
which is, as it were, their soul and essence, and all appears to be the
same. [I observe]

2. That principle in the soul of the saints, which is the grand Christian
virtue, and which is the soul and essence and summary comprehension of all
grace, is a principle of Divine Love. This is evident,

(1.) Because we are abundantly taught in the Scripture that Divine Love is
the sum of all duty;
and that all that God requires of us is fulfilled in
it, –i.e., That Love is the sum of all duty of the heart, and its
exercises and fruits the sum of all [the] duty of life. But if the duty of the
heart, or all due dispositions of the hearts, are all summed up in love, then
undoubtedly all grace may be summed up in LOVE.

The Scripture teaches us that all our duty is summed up in love;or, which is
the same thing, that ’tis the sum of all that is required in the Law; and that,
whether we take the Law as signifying the Ten Commandments, or the whole written
Word of God. So, when by the Law is meant the Ten Commandments : Rom. 13:8–”Owe
no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath
fulfilled the law” ; and, therefore, several of these commandments are there
rehearsed. And again, in ver. 10, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” And
unless love was the sum of what the law required, the law could not be fulfilled
in love. A law is not fulfilled but by obedience to the sum of what it contains.
So the same apostle again: 1 Tim. 1:5– “Now the end of the commandment is
charity” [love].

If we take the law in a yet more extensive sense for the whole written Word
of God, the Scripture still teaches us that love is the sum of what is required
in it. [Thus] Matt. 22:40. There Christ teaches us that on these two precepts of
loving God and our neighbour hang all the Law and the Prophets, –that is, all
the written Word of God. So that what was called the Law and the Prophets was
the whole written Word of God that was then extant. The Scripture teaches this
of each table of the law in particular.

Thus, the lawyer that we read of in the 10th chapter of Luke, vv.25-28,
mentions the love of God and our neighbour as the sum of the two tables of the
law; and Christ approves of what he says. When he stood up and tempted Christ
with this question, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ
asks him what was required of him “in the Law?” He makes answer, “Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself;” and Christ
replies, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live;” as much as to
say, “Do this, then thou hast fulfilled the whole law.”

So in Matthew 22:36-38, that commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” is given by
Christ himself as the sum of the first Table of the Law, in answer to the
question of the lawyer, who asked Him, “Which is the great commandment in the
law!” And in the next verse, loving our neighbours as ourselves is mentioned as
the sum of the second Table, as it is also in Romans 13:9, where most of the
precepts of the second Table are rehearsed over in particular: “For this, Thou
shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt
not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet ; and if there be any other
commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself.”

The Apostle James seems to teach the same thing. James 2:8– “If ye fulfil
the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself, ye do well.”

Thus frequent, express, and particular is the Scripture in teaching us that
all duty is comprehended in Love. The Scripture teaches us, in like manner, of
nothing else. This is quite another thing than if Religion in general had only
sometimes gone under the name of the Love of God, as it sometimes goes by the
name of the fearing of God, and sometimes the knowledge of God, and sometimes
feeling of God.

This argument does fully and irrefragably prove that all grace, and every
Christian disposition and habit of mind and heart, especially as to that which
is primarily holy and Divine in it, does summarily consist in Divine Love, and
may be resolved into it: however, with respect to its kinds and manner of
exercise and its appendages, it may be diversified. For certainly there is no
duty of heart, or due disposition of mind, but what is included in the Law and
the Prophets,” and is required by some precept of that law and rule which He has
given mankind to walk by. But yet the Scripture affords us other evidences of
the truth of this.

(2.) The apostle speaks of Divine Love as that which is the essence of all
Christianity in the thirteenth chapter of [the] 1st [Epistle to the]
Corinthians.
There the apostle evidently means a comparison between the
gifts of the Spirit and the grace of the Spirit. In the foregoing chapter the
apostle had been speaking of the gifts of the Spirit throughout, such as the
gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gift of healing or
working miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, speaking with tongues, etc.; and
in the last verse in the chapter he exhorts the Corinthians to “covet earnestly
the best gifts;” but adds, “and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way,” and
so proceeds to discourse of the saving grace of the Spirit under the name of
a)ga/ph love, and to compare this saving grace in
the heart with those gifts. Now, ’tis manifest that the comparison is between
the gifts of the Spirit that were common to both saints and sinners, and that
saving grace that distinguishes true saints; and, therefore, charity or love is
here understood by divines as intending the same thing as sincere grace of
heart.

By love or charity here there is no reason to understand the apostle [as
speaking] only of love to men, but that principle of Divine Love that is in the
heart of the saints in the full extent, which primarily has God for its object.
For there is no reason to think that the apostle doesn’t mean the same thing by
charity here as he does in the eighth chapter of the same Epistle, where he is
comparing the same two things together, knowledge and charity, as he does here.
But there he explains himself to mean by charity the love of God: [verses 1-3]
–”Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have
knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that
he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man
love God, the same is known of him,” etc.

‘Tis manifest that love or charity is here (Chap. 13) spoken of as the very
essence of all Christianity, and is the very thing wherein a gracious sincerity
consists. For the Apostle speaks of it as the most excellent, the most
necessary, and essential thing of all, without which all that makes the
greatest, and fairest, and most glittering show in Religion is nothing –
without which, “if we speak with the tongues of men and angels, we are become as
sounding brass and tinkling cymbals” -and without which, though we have “the
gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have all
faith, so that we could remove mountains, and should bestow all our goods to
feed the poor, and even give our bodies to be burned, we are nothing.”
Therefore, how can we understand the Apostle any otherwise than that this is the
very thing whereof the essence of all consists; and that he means the same by
charity as a gracious charity, as indeed it is generally understood. If a man
does all these things here spoken, makes such glorious prophecies, has such
knowledge, such faith, and speaks so excellently, and performs such excellent
external acts, and does such great things in religion as giving all his goods to
the poor and giving his body to be burned, what is wanting but one thing? The
very quintessence of all Religion, the very thing wherein lies summarily the
sincerity, spirituality, and divinity of Religion. And that, the Apostle teaches
us, is LOVE.

And further, ’tis manifestly the Apostle’s drift to shew how this excellent
principle does radically comprehend all that is good. For he goes on to shew how
all essences of good and excellent dispositions and exercises, both towards God
and towards man, are virtually contained and will flow from this one principle:
“Love suffereth long, and is kind, envieth not, … endureth all things” etc.
The words of this last verse especially respects duties to God, as the former
did duties to men, as I would shew more particularly afterwards.

(Here it may be noted, by the way, that by charity ‘believing all things,
hoping all things,’ the Apostle has undoubtedly respect to the same faith and
hope that in other parts of the chapter are mentioned together and compared with
charity, [as I think might be sufficiently made manifest, if it were proper here
to spend time upon it.] And not believing and hoping, in the case of our
neighbour, which the apostle has spoken of before, in the last words of verse
5th, and had plainly summed up all parts of charity towards our neighbour in the
6th verse. And then in this verse the apostle proceeds to mention other
exercises or fruits of charity quite of another kind–viz., patience under
suffering, faith and hope, and perseverance.)

Thus the Apostle don’t only represent love or charity as the most excellent
thing in Christianity, and as the quintessence, life and soul of all Religion,
but as that which virtually comprehends all holy virtues and exercises. And
because love is the quintessence and soul of all grace, wherein the divinity and
holiness of all that belongs to charity does properly and essentially consist,
therefore, when Christians come to be in their most perfect state, and the
Divine nature in them shall be in its greatest exaltation and purity, and be
free from all mixtures, stripped of these appurtenances and that clothing that
it has in the present state ; and [when] it shall lose many other of its
denominations, especially from the peculiar manner and exercises accommodated to
the imperfect circumstances of the present state, they will be what will remain.
All other names will be swallowed up in the name of charity or love, as the
apostle, agreeably to his chapter on this, (1 Cor. 13.,) observes in verses
8-10– “Charity never faileth…. But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away.” And, therefore, when the
apostle, in the last verse, speaks of charity as the greatest grace, we may well
understand him in the same sense as when Christ speaks of the command of love
God, etc., as the greatest commandment –viz., that among the graces, that is
the source and sum of all graces, as that commanded is spoken of as the sum of
all commands, and requiring that duty which is the ground of all other duties.

It must be because Charity is the quintessence and soul of all duty and all
good in the heart that the apostle says that it is “the end of the commandment,”
for doubtless the main end of the commandment is to promote that which is most
essential in Religion and constituent of holiness.

3. Reason bears witness to the same thing.

(1.)Reason testifies that Divine Love is so essential in Religion that all
Religion is but hypocrisy and a “vain show” without it.
What is Religion but
the exercise and expressions of regard to the Divine Being? But certainly if
there be no love to Him, there is no sincere regard to Him; and all pretences
and show of respect to Him, whether it be in word or deed, must be hypocrisy,
and of no value in the eyes of Him who sees the heart How manifest is it that
without love there can be no true honour, no sincere praise! And how can
obedience be hearty, if it be not a testimony of respect to God! The fear of God
without love is no other than the fear of devils; and all that outward respect
and obedience, all that resignation, that repentance and sorrow for sin, that
form in religion, that outward devotion that is performed merely from such a
fear without love, is all of it a practical lie, as in Psalm 66:3– “…How
terrible art Thou in Thy works! through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine
enemies submit themselves unto Thee.” In the original it is “shall thine enemies
lie unto Thee” — i.e., shall yield a feigned or lying obedience and respect to
Thee, when still they remain enemies in their hearts. There is never a devil in
hell but what would perform all that many a man [has] performed in religion,
that had no love to God; and a great deal more if they were in like
circumstances and the like hope of gain by it, and be as much of a devil in this
heart as he is now. The Devil once seemed to be religious from fear of torment:
Luke 8:28– “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and with
a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most
high? I beseech Thee, torment me not.” Here is external worship. The Devil is
religious; he prays — he prays in a humble posture; he falls down before
Christ, he lies prostrate; he prays earnestly, he cries with a loud voice; he
uses humble expressions — “I beseech Thee, torment me not;” he uses respectful,
honourable, adoring expressions — “Jesus, Thou Son of God most high.” Nothing
was wanting but LOVE.

And with respect to duties towards men, no good offices would be accepted by
men one from another, if they saw the heart, and knew they did not proceed from
any respect in the heart. If a child carry it very respectfully to his father,
either from a strong fear, or from hope of having the larger inheritance when
his father is dead, or from the like consideration, and not at all from any
respect to his father in his heart; if the child’s heart were open to the view
of his father, and he plainly knew that there was no real regard to him. Would
the child’s outward honour and obedience be acceptable to the parent? So if a
wife should carry it very well to her husband, and not at all from any love to
him, but from other considerations plainly seen, and certainly known by the
husband, Would he at all delight in her outward respect any more than if a
wooden image were contrived to make respectful motions in his presence?

If duties towards men are [to be] accepted of God as a part of Religion and
the service of the Divine Being, they must be performed not only with a hearty
love to men, but that love must flow from regard to Him.

(2.) Reason shews that all good dispositions and duties are wholly
comprehended in, and will flow from, Divine Love.
Love to God and men
implies all proper respect or regard to God and men; and all proper acts and
expressions of regard to both will flow from it, and therefore all duty to both.
To regard God and men in our heart as we ought, is the same thing. And,
therefore, a proper regard or love comprehends all virtue of heart; and he that
shews all proper regard to God and men in his practice, performs all that in
practice towards them which is his duty. The Apostle says, Romans 13:10– “Love
works no ill to his neighbor.” ‘Tis evident by his reasoning in that place, that
he means more than is expressed — that love works no ill but all good towards
our neighbor; so, by a parity of reason, love to God works no ill, but all duty
towards God.

A Christian love to God, and Christian love to men, are not properly two
distinct principles in the heart. These varieties are radically the same; the
same principle flowing forth towards different objects, according to the order
of their existence. God is the First Cause of all things, and the Fountain and
Source of all good; and men are derived from Him, having something of His image,
and are the objects of His mercy. So the first and supreme object of Divine love
is God; and men are loved either as the children of God or His creatures, and
those that are in His image, and the objects of His mercy, or in some respects
related to God, or partakers of His loveliness, or at least capable of
happiness.

That love to God, and a Christian love to men, are thus but one in their root
and foundation-principle in the heart, is confirmed by several passages in the
First Epistle of John: chap. 3:16-17– “Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the
brethren. But whoso hath this world’s goods,… how dwelleth the love of God in
him?” Chap. 4:20,21– “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a
liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God
whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth
God love his brother also.” Chap. 5:1,2– “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the
Christ is born of God: and every one loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that
is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we
love God, and keep His commandments.”

Therefore to explain the nature of Divine Love, what is principally requisite
is to explain the nature of love to God. For this may especially be called
Divine Love; and herein all Christian love or charity does radically consist,
for this is the fountain of all.

As to a definition of Divine Love, things of this nature are not properly
capable of a definition. They are better felt than defined. Love is a term as
clear in its signification, and that does as naturally suggest to the mind the
thing signified by it, as any other term or terms that we can find out or
substitute in its room. But yet there may be a great deal of benefit in
descriptions that may be given of this heavenly principle though they all are
imperfect. They may serve to limit the signification of the term and distinguish
this principle from other things, and to exclude counterfeits, and also more
clearly to explain some things that do appertain to its nature.

Divine Love, as it has God for its object, may be thus described. ‘Tis the
soul’s relish of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature, inclining the
heart to God as the chief good.

The first thing in Divine Love, and that from which everything that
appertains to it arises, is a relish of the excellency of the Divine nature;
which the soul of man by nature has nothing of.

The first effect that is produced in the soul, whereby it is carried above
what it has or can have by nature, is to cause it to relish or taste the
sweetness of the Divine relation. That is the first and most fundamental thing
in Divine Love, and that from which everything else that belongs to the Divine
Love naturally and necessarily proceeds. When one the soul is brought to relish
the excellency of the Divine nature, then it will naturally, and of course,
incline to God every way. It will incline to be with Him and to enjoy Him. It
will have benevolence to God. It will be glad that He is happy. It will incline
that He should be glorified, and that His will should be done in all things. So
that the first effect of the power of God in the heart in REGENERATION, is to
give the heart a Divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish of the
loveliness and sweetness of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature; and
indeed this is all the immediate effect of the Divine Power that there is, this
is all the Spirit of God needs to do, in order to a production of all good
effects in the soul. If God, by an immediate act of His, gives the soul a relish
of the excellency of His own nature, other things will follow of themselves
without any further act of the Divine power than only what is necessary to
uphold the nature of the faculties of the soul. He that is once brought to see,
or rather to taste, the superlative loveliness of the Divine Being, will need no
more to make him long after the enjoyment of God, to make him rejoice in the
happiness of God, and to desire that this supremely excellent Being may be
pleased and glorified. (Love is commonly distinguished into a love of
complacence and love of benevolence. Of these two a love of complacence is
first, and is the foundation of the other,–i.e., if by a love of
complacence be meant a relishing a sweetness in the qualifications of the
beloved, and a being pleased and delighted in his excellency. This, in the order
of nature, is before benevolence, because it is the foundation and reason of it.
A person must first relish that wherein the amiableness of nature consists,
before he can wish well to him on the account of that loveliness, or as being
worthy to receive good. Indeed, sometimes love of complacence is explained
something differently, even for that joy that the soul has in the presence and
possession of the beloved, which is different from the soul’s relish of the
beauty of the beloved, and is a fruit of it, as benevolence is. The soul may
relish the sweetness and the beauty of a beloved object, whether that object be
present or absent, whether in possession or not in possession; and this relish
is the foundation of love of benevolence, or desire of the good of the beloved.
And it is the foundation of love of affection to the beloved object when absent;
and it is the foundation of one’s rejoicing in the object when present; and so
it is the foundation of everything else that belongs to Divine Love.) And if
this be true, then the main ground of true love to God is the excellency of His
own nature, and not any benefit we have received, or hope to receive, by His
goodness to us. Not but that there is such a thing as a gracious gratitude to
God for mercies bestowed upon us; and the acts and fruits of His goodness to us
may [be,] and very often are, occasions and incitements of the exercise of true
love to God, as I must shew more particularly hereafter. But love or affection
to God, that has no other good than only some benefit received or hoped for from
God, is not true love. [If it be] without any sense of a delight in the absolute
excellency of the Divine nature, [it] has nothing Divine in it. Such gratitude
towards God requires no more to be in the soul than that human nature that all
men are born with, or at least that human nature well cultivated and improved,
or indeed not further vitiated and depraved than it naturally is. It is possible
that natural men, without the addition of any further principle than they have
by nature, may be affected with gratitude by some remarkable kindness of God to
them, as that they should be so affected with some great act of kindness of a
neighbour. A principle of self-love is all that is necessary to both. But Divine
Love is a principle distinct from self-love, and from all that arises from it.
Indeed, after a man is come to relish the sweetness of the supreme good there is
in the nature of God, self-love may have a hand in an appetite after the
enjoyment of that good. For self-love will necessarily make a man desire to
enjoy that which is sweet to him. But God’s perfections must first savour
appetite and [be] sweet to men, or they must first have a taste to relish
sweetness in the perfection of God, before self-love can have any influence upon
them to cause an appetite after the enjoyment of that sweetness. And therefore
that divine taste or relish of the soul, wherein Divine Love doth most
fundamentally consist, is prior to all influence that self-love can have to
incline us to God; and so must be a principle quite distinct from it, and
independent of it.

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03) Shewing How A Principle of Grace is From the Spirit of God

I. That this holy and Divine principle, which we have shewn does
radically and summarily consist in Divine Love, comes into existence in the soul
by the power of God in the influences of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in
the blessed Trinity, is abundantly manifest from the Scriptures.

Regeneration is by the Spirit: John 3:5-6–”Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit.” And verse 8– “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and
thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither
it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

The renewing of the soul is by the Holy Ghost: Titus 3:5– “Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” A new heart is given
by God’s putting His Spirit within us: Ezekiel 36:26,27– “A new heart also will
I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the
stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will
put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall
keep my judgments and do them.” Quickening of the dead soul is by the Spirit:
John 6:63– “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” Sanctification is by the Spirit
of God: 2 Thess. 2:13– “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation
through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Romans 15:16–
“That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by
the Holy Ghost.” 1 Cor. 6:11– “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye
are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the
Spirit of our God.” 1 Peter 1:2– “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God
the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling
of the blood of Jesus Christ.” All grace in the heart is the fruit of the
Spirit: Gal. 5:22, 23– “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long
-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Eph. 5:9– “The
fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” Hence the
Spirit of God is called the Spirit of grace, (Heb. 10:29.)

This doctrine of a gracious nature being by the immediate influence of the
Spirit of God, is not only taught in the Scriptures, but is irrefragable to
Reason. Indeed there seems to be a strong disposition in men to disbelieve and
oppose the doctrine of true disposition, to disbelieve and oppose the doctrine
of immediate influence of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men, or to diminish
and make it as small and remote a matter as possible, and put it as far out of
sight as may be. Whereas it seems to me, true virtue and holiness would
naturally excite a prejudice (if I may so say) in favour of such a doctrine; and
that the soul, when in the most excellent frame, and the most lively exercise of
virtue, –love to God and delight in Him,– would naturally and unavoidably
think of God as kindly communicating Himself to him, and holding communion with
him, as though he did as it were see God smiling on him, giving to him and
conversing with him; and that if he did not so think of God, but, on the
contrary, should conceive that there was no immediate communication between God
and him, it would tend greatly to quell his holy motions of soul, and be an
exceeding damage to his pleasure.

No good reason can be given why men should have such an inward disposition to
deny any immediate communication between God and the creature, or to make as
little of it as possible. ‘Tis a strange disposition that men have to thrust God
out of the world, or to put Him as far out of sight as they can, and to have in
no respect immediately and sensibly to do with Him. Therefore so many schemes
have been drawn to exclude, or extenuate, or remove at a great distance, any
influence of the Divine Being in the hearts of men, such as the scheme of the
Pelagians, the Socinians, etc. And therefore these doctrines are so much
ridiculed that ascribe much to the immediate influence of the Spirit, and called
enthusiasm, fanaticism, whimsy, and distraction; but no mortal can tell for
what.

If we make no difficulty of allowing that God did immediateiy make the whole
Universe at first, and caused it to exist out of nothing, and that every
individual thing owes its being to an immediate, voluntary, arbitrary act of
Almighty power, why should we make a difficulty of supposing that He has still
something immediately to do with the things that He has made, and that there is
an arbitrary influence still that God has in the creation that He has made?

And if it be reasonable to suppose it with respect to any part of the
Creation, it is especially so with respect to reasonable creatures, who are the
highest part of the Creation, next to God, and who are most immediately made for
God, and have Him for their next Head, and are created for the business wherein
they are mostly concerned. And above all, in that wherein the highest excellency
of this highest rank of beings consist, and that wherein he is most conformed to
God, is nearest to Him, and has God for his most immediate object.

It seems to me most rational to suppose that as we ascend in the order of
being we shall at last come immediately to God, the First Cause. In whatever
respect we ascend, we ascend in the order of time and succession.

II. The Scripture speaks of this holy and Divine principle in the heart as
not only from the Spirit, but as being spiritual.
Thus saving knowledge is
called spiritual understanding: Col. 1:9– “We desire that ye might be filled
with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” So
the influences, graces, and comforts of God’s Spirit are called spiritual
blessings: Eph. 1:3– “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
So the imparting of any gracious benefit is called the imparting of a spiritual
gift: Rom. 1:11– “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some
spiritual gift.” And the fruits of the Spirit which are offered to God are
called spiritual sacrifices: 1 Peter 2:5– “A spiritual priesthood to offer up
spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” And a spiritual person
signifies the same In Scripture as a gracious person, and sometimes one that is
much under the influence of grace: 1 Cor. 2:15– “He that is spiritual judgeth
all things, yet he himself is judged of no man;” and 3:1– “And I, brethren,
could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal.” Gal. 6:1– “If a
man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the
spirit of meekness.” And to be graciously minded is called in Scripture a being
spiritually minded: Rom. 8:6– “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Concerning this, two things are to be noted.

1. That this Divine principle in the heart is not called spiritual,
because it has its seat in the soul or spiritual part of man, and not in his
body.
It is called spiritual, not because of its relation to the spirit of
man, in which it is, but because of its relation to the Spirit of God, from
which it is. That things are not called spiritual because they appertain not to
the body but the spirit of man is evident, because gracious or holy
understanding is called spiritual understanding in the forementioned passage,
(Col. 1:9.) Now, by spiritual understanding cannot be meant that understanding
which has its scat in the soul, to distinguish it from other understanding that
has its seat in the body, for all understanding has its seat in the soul; and
that things are called spiritual because of their relation to the Spirit of God
is most plain, by the latter part of the 2d chapter of 1st Corinthians. There we
have both those expressions, one immediately after another, evidently meaning
the same thing: verses 13, 14– “Which things also we speak, not in the words
which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing
spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God.” And that by the spiritual man is meant one that has the
Spirit is also as plainly evident by the context: verses 10-12– “God hath
revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things,
yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man,” etc.
Also ver. 15– “He that is spiritual judgeth all things,” by which is evidently
meant the same as he that hath the Spirit that “searcheth all things,” as we
find in the forgoing verses. So persons are said to be spiritually minded, not
because they mind things that relate to the soul or spirit of man, but because
they mind things that relate to the Spirit of God: Romans 8:5, 6– “For they
that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are
after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death;
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

2. It must be observed that where this holy Divine principle of saving
grace wrought in the mind is in Scripture called spiritual, what is intended by
the expression is not merely nor chiefly that it is from the Spirit of God, but
that it is of the nature of the Spirit of God.
There are many things in the
minds of some natural men that are from the influence of the Spirit, but yet are
by no means spiritual things in the scriptural sense of the word. The Spirit of
God convinces natural men of sin, (John 16:8.) Natural men may have common
grace, common illuminations, and common affections that are from the Spirit of
God, as appears by Hebrews 6:4. Natural men have sometimes the influences of the
Spirit of God in His common operations and gifts, and therefore God’s Spirit is
said to be striving with them, and they are said to resist the Spirit, (Acts
7:51;) to grieve and vex God’s Holy Spirit, (Eph. 4:30; Isaiah 63:10;) and God
is said to depart from them even as the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul: 1
Sam. 16:14– “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit
from the Lord troubled him.”

But yet natural men are not in any degree spiritual. The great difference
between natural men and godly men seems to be set forth by this, that the one is
natural and carnal, and the other spiritual; and natural men are so totally
destitute of that which is Spirit, that they know nothing about it, and the
reason given for it is because they are not spiritual, (1 Cor. 2:13-15.) Indeed
sometimes those miraculous gifts of the Spirit that were common are called
spiritual because they are from the Spirit of God; but for the most part the
term seems to be appropriate to its gracious influences and fruits on the soul,
which are no otherwise spiritual than the common influences of the Spirit that
natural men have, in any other respect than this, that this saving grace in the
soul, is not only from the Spirit, but it also partakes of the nature of that
Spirit that it is from, which the common grace of the Spirit does not. Thus
things in Scripture language are said to be earthly, as they partake of an
earthly nature, partake of the nature of the earth; so things are said to be
heavenly, as they in their nature agree with those things that are in heaven;
and so saving grace in the heart is said to be spiritual, and therein
distinguished from all other influences of the Spirit, that it is of the nature
of the Spirit of God. It partakes of the nature of that Spirit, while no common
gift of the Spirit doth so.

But here an enquiry may be raised, viz.:–

Enq. How does saving grace partake of the nature of that Spirit that it is
from, so as to be called on that account spiritual, thus essentially
distinguishing it from all other effects of the Spirit?
for every effect has
in some respect or another the nature of its cause, and the common convictions
and illuminations that natural men have are in some respects [of] the nature of
the Spirit of God; for there is light and understanding and conviction of truth
in these common illuminations, and so they are of the nature of the Spirit of
God–that is, a discerning spirit and a spirit of truth. But yet saving grace,
by its being called spiritual, as though it were thereby distinguished from all
other gifts of the Spirit, seems to partake of the nature of the Spirit of God
in some very peculiar manner.

Clearly to satisfy this enquiry, we must do these two things:– 1. We must
bear in mind what has already been said of the nature of saving grace, and what
I have already shewn to be that wherein its nature and essence lies, and wherein
all saving grace is radically and summarily comprised viz., a principle of
Divine Love. 2. We must consider what the Scripture reveals to be in a peculiar
manner the nature of the Holy Spirit of God, and in an enquiry of this nature I
would go no further than I think the Scripture plainly goes before me. The Word
of God certainly should be our rule in matters so much above reason and our own
notions.

And here I would say–

(1.) That I think the Scripture does sufficiently reveal the Holy Spirit
as a proper Divine Person;
and thus we ought to look upon Him as a distinct
personal agent. He is often spoken of as a person, revealed under personal
characters and in personal acts, and it speaks of His being acted on as a
person, and the Scripture plainly ascribes every thing to Him that properly
denotes a distinct person; and though the word person be rarely used in the
Scriptures, yet I believe that we have no word in the English language that does
so naturally represent what the Scripture reveals of the distinction of the
Eternal Three,–Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,–as to say they are one God but
three persons.

(2.) Though all the Divine perfections are to be attributed to each person
of the Trinity, yet the Holy Ghost is in a peculiar manner called by the name of
Love
A)ga/ph, the same word is that translated
charity in the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians. The Godhead or the Divine
essence is once and again said to be Love: 1 John 4:8 — “He that loveth not
knoweth not God; for God is love.” So again, ver. 16– “God is love; and he that
dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” But the Divine essence is
thus called in a peculiar manner as breathed forth and subsisting in the Holy
Spirit; as may be seen in the context of these texts, as in the 12th and 13th
verses of the same chapter– “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one
another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. Hereby know we
that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” It
is the same argument in both these verses: in the 12th verse the apostle argues
that if we have love dwelling in us, we have God dwelling in us; and in the 13th
verse he clears the face of the argument by this, that his love which is
dwelling in us is God’s Spirit. And this shews that the foregoing argument is
good, and that if love dwells in us, we know God dwells in us indeed, for the
Apostle supposes it as a thing granted and allowed that God’s Spirit is God. The
Scripture elsewhere does abundantly teach us that the way in which God dwells in
the saints is by His Spirit, by their being the temples of the Holy Ghost. Here
this apostle teaches us the same thing. He says, “We know that he dwelleth in
us, that he hath given us his Spirit;” and this is manifestly to explain what is
said in the foregoing verse– viz., that God dwells in us, inasmuch as His love
dwells in us; which love he had told us before–ver. 8–is God himself. And
afterwards, in the 16th verse, he expresses it more fully, that this is the way
that God dwells in the saint– viz.. because this love dwells in them, which is
God.

Again the same is signified in the same manner in the last verses of the
foregoing chapter. In the foregoing verses, speaking of love as a true sign of
sincerity and our acceptance with God, beginning with the 18th verse, he sums up
the argument thus in the last verse: “And hereby we know that he abideth in us,
by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

We have also something very much like this in the apostle Paul’s writings.

Gal. 5:13-16– “Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love
serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take
heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the
Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Here it seems most
evident that what the apostle exhorts and urges in the 13th, 14th, and 15th
verses,– viz., that they should walk in love, that they might not give occasion
to the gratifying of the flesh,–he does expressly explain in the 16th verse by
this, that they should walk in the Spirit, that they might not fulfil the lust
of the flesh; which the great Mr Howe takes notice of in his “Sermons on the
Prosperous State of the Christian Interest before the End of Time,” p. 185,
published by Mr Evans. His words are, “Walking in the Spirit is directed with a
special eye and reference unto the exercise of this love; as you may see in
Galatians 5, the 14th, 15th, and 16th verses compared together. All the law is
fulfilled in one word, (he means the whole law of the second table,) even in
this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one
another, (the opposite to this love, or that which follows on the want of it, or
from the opposite principle,) take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
This I say then, (observe the inference,) Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not
fulfil the lust of the flesh. To walk in the Spirit is to walk in the exercise
of this love.”

So that as the Son of God is spoken of as the wisdom, understanding, and
Logos of God, (Proverbs 8; Luke 11:49; John 1, at
the beginning,) and is, as divines express things, the personal wisdom of God;
so the Spirit of God is spoken of as the love of God, and may with equal
foundation and propriety be called the personal love of God. We read in the
beloved disciple’s writings of these two –Logos and
A)ga/ph, both of which are said to be God, (John
1:1; 1 John 4:8-16.) One is the Son of God, and the other the Holy Spirit. There
are two things that God is said to be in this First Epistle of John–light and
love: chap. 1:5–”God is light.” This is the Son of God, who is said to be the
wisdom and reason of God, and the brightness of His glory; and in the 4th
chapter of the same epistle he says, “God is love,” and this he applies to the
Holy Spirit.

Hence the Scripture symbol of the Holy Ghost is a dove, which is the emblem
of love, and so was continually accounted (as is well known) in the heathen
world, and is so made use of by their poets and mythologists, which probably
arose partly from the nature and manner of the bird, and probably in part from
the tradition of the story of Noah’s dove, that came with a message of peace and
love after such terrible manifestations of God’s wrath in the time of the
deluge. This bird is also made use of as an emblem of love in the Holy
Scriptures; as it was on that message of peace and love that God sent it to
Noah, when it came with an olive-leaf in its mouth, and often in Solomon’s Song:
Cant. 1:15– “Thou hast doves’ eyes”: Cant. 5:12– “His eyes are as the eyes of
doves:” Cant. 5:2– “Open to me, my love, my dove,” and in other places in that
song.

This bird, God is pleased to choose as the special symbol of His Holy Spirit
in the greatest office or work of the Spirit that ever it has or will
exert–viz., in anointing Christ, the great Head of the whole Church of saints,
from which Head this holy oil descends to all the members, and the skirts of His
garments, as the sweet and precious ointment that was poured on Aaron’s head,
that great type of Christ. As God the Father then poured forth His Holy Spirit
of love upon the Son without measure, so that which was then seen with the
eye–viz., a dove descending and lighting upon Christ–signified the same thing
as what was at the same time proclaimed to the Son–viz., This is my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased. This is the Son on whom I pour forth all my
love, towards whom my essence entirely flows out in love. See Matt. 3:16,17;
Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:22; John 1:32-33.

This was the anointing of the Head of the Church and our great High Priest,
and therefore the holy anointing oil of old with which Aaron and other typical
high priests were anointed was the most eminent type of the Holy Spirit of any
in the Old Testament. This holy oil, by reason of its soft-flowing and diffusive
nature, and its unparalleled sweetness and fragrancy, did most fitly represent
Divine Love, or that Spirit that is the deity, breathed forth or flowing out and
softly falling in infinite love and delight. It is mentioned as a fit
representation of holy love, which is said to be like the precious ointment on
the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, that went down to
the skirts of his garments. It was from the fruit of the olive-tree, which it is
known has been made use of as a symbol of love or peace, which was probably
taken from the olive-branch brought by the dove to Noah in token of the Divine
favour; so that the olive-branch and the dove that brought it, both signified
the same thing–viz., love, which is specially typified by the precious oil from
the olive-tree.

God’s love is primarily to Himself, and His infinite delight is in Himself,
in the Father and the Son loving and delighting in each other. We often read of
the Father loving the Son, and being well pleased in the Son, and of the Son
loving the Father. In the infinite love and delight that is between these two
persons consists the infinite happiness of God: Prov. 8:30.–”Then I was by him,
as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before
him;” and therefore seeing the Scripture signifies that the Spirit of God is the
Love of God, therefore it follows that Holy Spirit proceeds from or is breathed
forth from, the Father and the Son in some way or other infinitely above all our
conceptions, as the Divine essence entirely flows out and is breathed forth in
infinitely pure love and sweet delight from the Father and the Son; and this is
that pure river of water of life that proceeds out of the throne of the Father
and the Son, as we read at the beginning of the 22nd chapter of the Revelation;
for Christ himself tells us that by the water of life, or living water, is meant
the Holy Ghost, (John 7:38, 39.) This river of water of life in the Revelation
is evidently the same with the living waters of the sanctuary in Ezekiel, (Ezek.
47:1, etc.;) and this river is doubtless the river of God’s pleasure, or of
God’s own infinite delight spoken of in Ps. 36:7-9– “How excellent is thy
loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the
shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy
house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with
thee is the fountain of life.” The river of God’s pleasures here spoken of is
the same with the fountain of life spoken of in the next words. Here, as was
observed before, the water of life by Christ’s own interpretation is the Holy
Spirit. This river of God’s pleasures is also the same with the fatness of God’s
house, the holy oil of the sanctuary spoken of in the next preceding words, and
is the same with God’s love, or God’s excellent loving-kindness, spoken of in
the next preceding verse.

I have before observed that the Scripture abundantly reveals that the way in
which Christ dwells in the saint is by His Spirit’s dwelling in them, and here I
would observe that Christ in His prayer, in the 17th chapter of John, seems to
speak of the way in which He dwells in them as by the indwelling of the love
wherewith the Father has loved Him: John 17:26 “And I have declared unto them
thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be
in them, and I in them.” The beloved disciple that wrote this Gospel having
taken [such] particular notice of this, that he afterwards in his first epistle
once and again speaks of love’s dwelling in the saints, and the Spirit’s
dwelling in them being the same thing.

Again, the Scripture seems in many places to speak of love in Christians as
if it were the same with the Spirit of God in them, or at least as the prime and
most natural breathing and acting of the Spirit in the soul. So Rom. 5:5–
“Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which
is given unto us:” Col. 1:8– “Who also declared unto us your love in the
Spirit:” 2 Cor. 6:6– “By kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned:” Phil.
2:1– “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love,
if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy,
that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

The Scripture therefore leads us to this conclusion, though it be infinitely
above us to conceive how it should be, that yet as the Son of God is the
personal word, idea, or wisdom of God, begotten by God, being an infinitely
perfect, substantial image or idea of Himself, (as might be very plainly proved
from the Holy Scripture, if here were proper occasion for it;) so the Holy
Spirit does in some ineffable and inconceivable manner proceed, and is breathed
forth both from the Father and the Son, by the Divine essence being wholly
poured and flowing out in that infinitely intense, holy, and pure love and
delight that continually and unchangeably breathes forth from the Father and the
Son, primarily towards each other, and secondarily towards the creature. and so
flowing forth in a different subsistence or person in a manner to us utterly
inexplicable and inconceivable, and that this is that person that is poured
forth into the hearts of angels and saints.

Hence ’tis to be accounted for, that though we often read in Scripture of the
Father loving the Son, and the Son loving the Father, yet we never once read
either of the Father or the Son loving the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit loving
either of them. It is because the Holy Spirit is the Divine Love itself, the
love of the Father and the Son. Hence also it is to be accounted for, that we
very often read of the love both of the Father and the Son to men, and
particularly their love to the saints; but we never read of the Holy Ghost
loving them, for the Holy Ghost is that love of God and Christ that is breathed
forth primarily towards each other, and flows out secondarily towards the
creature. This also will well account for it, that the apostle Paul so often
wishes grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus
Christ, in the beginning of his epistles, without even mentioning the Holy
Ghost, because the Holy Ghost is Himself the love and grace of God the Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the deity wholly breathed forth in infinite,
substantial, intelligent love: from the Father and Son first towards each other,
and secondarily freely flowing out to the creature, and so standing forth a
distinct personal subsistence.

Both the holiness and happiness of the Godhead consists in this love. As we
have already proved, all creature holiness consists essentially and summarily in
love to God and love to other creatures; so does the holiness of God consist in
His love, especially in the perfect and intimate union and love there is between
the Father and the Son. But the Spirit that proceeds from the Father and the Son
is the bond of this union, as it is of all holy union between the Father and the
Son, and between God and the creature, and between the creatures among
themselves. All seems to be signified in Christ’s prayer in the 17th chapter of
John, from the 21st verse. Therefore this Spirit of love is the “bond of
perfectness” (Col. 3:14) throughout the whole blessed society or family in
heaven and earth, consisting of the Father, the head of the family, and the Son,
and all His saints that are the disciples, seed, and spouse of the Son. The
happiness of God doth also consist in this love; for doubtless the happiness of
God consists in the infinite love He has to, and delight He has in Himself; or
in other words, in the infinite delight there is between the Father and the Son,
spoken of in Prov. 8:30. This delight that the Father and the Son have in each
other is not to be distinguished from their love of complacence one in another,
wherein love does most essentially consist, as was observed before. The
happiness of the deity, as all other true happiness, consists in love and
society.

Hence it is the Spirit of God, the third person in the Trinity, is so often
called the Holy Spirit, as though “holy” were an epithet some way or other
peculiarly belonging to Him, which can be no other way than that the holiness of
God does consist in Him. He is not only infinitely holy as the Father and the
Son are, but He is the holiness of God itself in the abstract. The holiness of
the Father and the Son does consist in breathing forth this Spirit. Therefore He
is not only called the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit of holiness: Rom. 1:4–
“According to the Spirit of holiness.”

Hence also the river of “living waters,” or waters of life, which Christ
explains in the 7th [chapter] of John, of the Holy Spirit, is in the
forementioned Psalm [36:8] called the “river of God’s pleasures;” and hence also
that holy oil with which Christ was anointed, which I have shewn was the Holy
Ghost, is called the “oil of gladness”: Heb. 1:9–”Therefore God, even thy God,
hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Hence we learn
that God’s fulness does consist in the Holy Spirit. By fulness, as the term is
used in Scripture, as may easily be seen by looking over the texts that mention
it, Is intended the good that any one possesses. Now the good that God possesses
does most immediately consist in His joy and complacence that He has in Himself.
It does objectively, indeed, consist in the Father and the Son; but it doth most
immediately consist in the complacence in these elements. Nevertheless the
fulness of God consists in the holiness and happiness of the deity. Hence
persons, by being made partakers of the Holy Spirit, or having it dwelling in
them, are said to be “partakers of the fulness of God” ar Christ. Christ’s
fulness, as mediator, consists in His having the Spirit given Him “not by
measure,” (John 3:34.) And so it is that He is said to have “the fulness of the
Godhead,” [which] is said “to dwell in him bodily,” (Col. 2:9.) And as we, by
receiving the Holy Spirit from Christ, and being made partakers of His Spirit,
are said “to receive of his fulness, and grace for grace.” And because this
Spirit, which is the fulness of God, consists in the love of God and Christ;
therefore we, by knowing the love of Christ, are said “to be filled with all the
fulness of God,” (Eph. 3:19.) For the way that we know the love of Christ, is by
having that love dwelling in us, as 1 John 4:13; because the fulness of God
consists in the Holy Spirit. Hence our communion with God the Father and God the
Son consists in our possessing of the Holy Ghost, which is their Spirit. For to
have communion or fellowship with either, is to partake with Them of Their good
in Their fulness in union and society with Them. Hence it is that we read of the
saints having fellowship and communion with the Father and with the Son; but
never of their having fellowship with the Holy Ghost, because the Holy Ghost is
that common good or fulness which they partake of in which their fellowship
consists. We read of the communion of the Holy Ghost; but not of communion with
Him, which are two very different things.

Persons are said to have communion with each other when they partake with
each other in some common good; but any one is said to have communion of
anything, with respect to that thing they partake of, in common with others.
Hence, in the apostolical benediction, he wishes the “grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion or partaking of the
Holy Ghost.” The blessing wished is but one–viz., the Holy Spirit. To partake
of the Holy Ghost is to have that love of the Father and the grace of the Son.

From what has been said, it follows that the Holy Spirit is the summum
of all good. ‘Tis the fulness of God. The holiness and happiness of the Godhead
consists in it; and in communion or partaking of it consists all the true
loveliness and happiness of the creature. All the grace and comfort that persons
here have, and all their holiness and happiness hereafter, consists in the love
of the Spirit, spoken of Rom. 15:30; and joy in the Holy Ghost, spoken of Rom.
14:17; Acts 9:31, 13:52. And, therefore, that which in Matt. 7:11– “If ye then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall
your Father which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?” is in
Luke 11:13, expressed thus: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts
unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy
Spirit to them that ask Him?” Doubtless there is an agreement in what is
expressed by each Evangelist: and giving the Holy Spirit to them that ask, is
the same as giving good things to them that ask; for the Holy Spirit is the sum
of all good.

Hence we may better understand the economy of the persons of the Trinity as
it appears in the part that each one has in the affair of redemption, and shews
the equality of each Person concerned in that affair, and the equality of honour
and praise due to each of Them. For that work, glory belongs to the Father and
the Son, that They so greatly loved the world. To the Father, that He so loved
the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, who was all His delight, who is
His infinite objective Happiness. To the Son, that He so loved the world, that
He gave Himself. But there is equal glory due to the Holy Ghost on this account,
because He is the Love of the Father and the Son, that flows out primarily
towards God, and secondarily towards the elect that Christ came to save. So
that, however wonderful the love of the Father and the Son appear to be, so much
the more glory belongs to the Holy Spirit, in whom subsists that wonderful and
excellent love.

It shews the infinite excellency of the Father thus:–That the Son so
delighted in Him, and prized His honour and glory, that when He had a mind to
save sinners, He came infinitely low, rather than men’s salvation should be the
injury of that honour and glory. It shewed the infinite excellency and worth of
the Son, that the Father so delighted in Him, that for His sake He was ready to
quit His own; yea, and receive into favour those that had deserved infinitely
ill at His hands. Both shews the infinite excellency of the Holy Spirit, because
He is that delight of the Father and the Son in each other, which is manifested
to be so great and infinite by these things.

What has been said shews that our dependence is equally on each Person in
this affair. The Father approves and provides the Redeemer, and Himself accepts
the price of the good purchased, and bestows that good. The Son is the Redeemer,
and the price that is offered for the purchased good. And the Holy Ghost is the
good purchased; [for] the Sacred Scriptures seem to intimate that the Holy
Spirit is the sum of all that Christ purchased for man, (Gal. 3:13-14.)

What Christ purchased for us is, that we might have communion with God in His
good, which consists in partaking or having communion of the Holy Ghost, as I
have shewn. All the blessedness of the redeemed consists in partaking of the
fulness of Christ, their Head and Redeemer, which, I have observed, consists in
partaking of the Spirit that is given Him not by measure. This is the vital sap
which the creatures derive from the true vine. This is the holy oil poured on
the head, that goes down to the members. Christ purchased for us that we should
enjoy the Love: but the love of God flows out in the proceeding of the Spirit;
and He purchased for them that the love and joy of God should dwell in them,
which is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The sum of all spiritual good which the saints have in this world, is that
spring of living water within them which we read of, (John 4:10;) and those
rivers of living waters flowing from within them which we read of, (John
7:38,39,) which we are there told is the Holy Spirit. And the sum of all
happiness in the other world, is that river of living water which flows from the
throne of God and the Lamb, which is the river of God’s pleasures, and is the
Holy Spirit, which is often compared in Sacred Scripture to water, to the rain
and dew, and rivers and floods of waters, (Isa. 44:3; 32:15; 41:17,18, compared
with John 4:14; Isa. 35:6,7; 43:19,20.)

The Holy Spirit is the purchased possession and inheritance of the saints, as
appears, because that little of it which the saints have in this world is said
to be the earnest of that purchased inheritance, (Eph. 1:13,14; 2 Cor. 1:22,
v.5.) ‘Tis an earnest of that which we are to have a fulness of hereafter. The
Holy Ghost is the great subject of all gospel promises, and therefore is called
the Spirit of promise, (Eph.1:13.) He is called the promise of the Father, (Luke
24:49.)

The Holy Ghost being a comprehension of all good things promised in the
gospel, we may easily see the force of the Apostle’s inquiry: Gal. 3:2– “This
only would I learn of you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by
the hearing of faith? ” So that in the offer of redemption ’tis of God of whom
our good is purchased, and ’tis God that purchases it, and ’tis God also that is
the thing purchased. Thus all our good things are of God, and through God, and
in God, as Rom. 11:36– “For of him, and through him, and to him, and in him,
[as ei/V is rendered in 1 Cor. 8:6,] are all things:
to whom be glory for ever.”All our good is of God the Father, and through God
the Son, and all is in the Holy Ghost, as He is Himself all our good. And so God
is Himself the portion and purchased inheritance of His people. Thus God is the
Alpha and Omega in this affair of Redemption.

If we suppose no more than used to be supposed about the Holy Ghost, the
honour of the Holy Ghost in the work of Redemption is not equal in any sense to
the Father and the Son’s; nor is there an equal part of the glory of this work
belonging to Him. Merely to apply to us, or immediately to give or hand to us
blessing purchased, after it is purchased, is subordinate to the other two
Persons,–is but a little thing to the purchaser of it by the paying an infinite
price by Christ, by Christ’s offering up Himself a sacrifice to procure it; and
’tis but a little thing to God the Father’s giving His infinitely dear Son to be
a sacrifice for us to procure this good. But according to what has now been
supposed, there is an equality. To be the wonderful love of God, is as much as
for the Father and the Son to exercise wonderful love; and to be the thing
purchased, is as much as to be the price that purchases it. The price, and the
thing bought with that price, answer each other in value; and to be the
excellent benefit offered, is as much as to offer such an excellent benefit. For
the glory that belongs to Him that bestows the gospel, arises from the
excellency and value of the gift, and therefore the glory is equal to that
excellency of the benefit. And so that Person that is that excellent benefit,
has equal glory with Him that bestows such an excellent benefit.

But now to return: from what has been now observed from the Holy Scriptures
of the nature of the Holy Spirit, may be clearly understood why grace in the
hearts of the saints is called spiritual, in distinction from other things that
are the effects of the Spirit in the hearts of men. For by this it appears that
the Divine principle in the saints is of the nature of the Spirit; for as the
nature of the Spirit of God is Divine Love, so Divine Love is the nature and
essence of that holy principle in the hearts of the saints.

The Spirit of God may operate and produce effects upon the minds of natural
men that have no grace, as He does when He assists natural conscience and
convictions of sin and danger. The Spirit of God may produce effects upon
inanimate things, as of old He moved on the face of the waters. But He
communicates holiness in His own proper nature only, in those holy effects in
the hearts of the saints. And, therefore, those holy effects only are called
spiritual; and the saints only are called spiritual persons in Sacred Scripture.

Men’s natural faculties and principles may be assisted by the operation of
the Spirit of God on their minds, to enable them to exert those acts which, to a
greater or lesser degree, they exert naturally. But the Spirit don’t at all
communicate Himself in it in His own nature, which is Divine Love, any more than
when He moved upon the face of the waters.

Hence also we may more easily receive and understand a doctrine that seems to
be taught us in the Sacred Scripture concerning grace in the heart–viz., that
it is no other than the Spirit of God itself dwelling and acting in the heart of
a saint,– which the consideration of these things will make manifest:–

(1.) That the Sacred Scriptures don’t only call grace spiritual, but
“spirit.”

(2.) That when the Sacred Scriptures call grace spirit, the Spirit of God is
intended; and that grace is called “Spirit” no otherwise than as the name of the
Holy Ghost, the Third Person in the Trinity is ascribed to it.

1. This holy principle is often called by the name of “spirit” in Sacred
Scripture. So in John 3:6– “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Here
by flesh and spirit, we have already shewn, are intended those two opposite
principles in the heart, corruption and grace. So by flesh and spirit the same
things are manifestly intended in Gal. 5:17– “For the flesh lusteth against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the
other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” This that is here given
as the reason why Christians cannot do the things that they would, is manifestly
the same that is given for the same thing in the latter part of the 7th chapter
of the Romans. The reason there given why they cannot do the things that they
would is, that the law of the members war with [and] against the law of the
mind; and, therefore, by the law of the members and the law of the mind are
meant the same as the flesh and Spirit in Galatians. Yea, they are called by the
same name of the flesh and Spirit there, in that context, in the continuation of
the same discourse in the beginning of the next chapter:– “Therefore there is
no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, that walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit.” Here the Apostle evidently refers to the same two
opposite principles warring one against another, that he had been speaking of in
the close of the preceding chapter, which he here calls flesh and Spirit as he
does in his Epistle to the Galatians.

This is yet more abundantly clear by the next words, which are, “For the law
of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and
death.” Here these two things that in the preceding verse are called “flesh and
spirit,” are in this verse called “the law of the Spirit of life” and “the law
of sin and death,” evidently speaking still of the same law of our mind and the
law of sin spoken of in the last verse of the preceding chapter. The Apostle
goes on in the 8th chapter to call aversation and grace by the names of flesh
and Spirit, (verses 4-9, and again verses 12,13.) These two principles are
called by the same names in Matt. 26:41– “The spirit indeed is willing, but the
flesh is weak.” There can be no doubt but that the same thing is intended here
by the flesh and spirit as (compare what is said of the flesh and spirit here
and in these places) in the 7th and 8th chapters of Romans, and Gal. 5. Again,
these two principles are called by the same words in Gal. 6:8. If this be
compared with the 18th verse of the foregoing chapter, and with Romans 8:6 and
13, none can doubt but the same is meant in each place.

2. If the Sacred Scriptures be duly observed, where grace is called by the
name of “spirit,” it will appear that ’tis so called by an ascription of the
Holy Ghost, even the third person in the Trinity, to that Divine principle in
the hearts of the saints, as though that principle in them were no other than
the Spirit of God itself, united to the soul, and living and acting in it, and
exerting itself in the use and improvement of its faculties.

Thus it is in the 8th chapter of Romans, as does manifestly appear by verses
9-16– “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of
God dwell in you,” etc. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is
none of his,” etc.

Here the apostle does fully explain himself what he means when he so often
calls that holy principle that is in the hearts of the saints by the name
“spirit.” This he means, the Spirit of God itself dwelling and acting in them.
In the 9th verse he calls it the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ in the
10th verse. He calls it Christ in them in the 11th verse. He calls it the Spirit
of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelling in them; and in the 14th
verse he calls it the Spirit of God. In the 16th verse he calls it the Spirit
itself. So it is called the Spirit of God in 1 Cor. 2:11,12. So that that holy,
Divine principle, which we have observed does radically and essentially consist
in Divine love, is no other than a communication and participation of that same
infinite Divine Love, which is GOD, and in which the Godhead is eternally
breathed forth; and subsists in the Third Person in the blessed Trinity. So that
true saving grace is no other than that very love of God– that is, God, in one
of the persons of the Trinity, uniting Himself to the soul of a creature, as a
vital principle, dwelling there and exerting Himself by the faculties of the
soul of man, in His own proper nature, after the manner of a principle of
nature.

And we may look back and more fully understand what the apostle John means
when he says once and again, “God is Love,” and “He that dwelleth in Love
dwelleth in God, and God in him,” and “If we love one another, God dwelleth in
us,” and “His Love is perfected in us,” [and] “Hereby we know that we dwell in
him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”

By this, also, we may understand what the apostle Peter means in his 2nd
Epistle 1:4, that the saints are made “partakers of the Divine nature.” They are
not only partakers of a nature that may, in some sense, be called Divine,
because ’tis conformed to the nature of God; but the very deity does, in some
sense, dwell in them. That holy and Divine Love dwells in their hearts, and is
so united to human faculties, that ’tis itself become a principle of new nature.
That love, which is the very native tongue and spirit of God, so dwells in their
souls that it exerts itself in its own nature in the exercise of those
faculties, after the manner of a natural or vital principle in them.

This shews us how the saints are said to be the “temples of the Holy Ghost”
as they are.

By this, also, we may understand how the saints are said to be made
“partakers of God’s holiness,” not only as they partake of holiness that God
gives, but partake of that holiness by which He himself is holy. For it has been
already observed, the holiness of God consists in that Divine Love in which the
essence of God really flows out.

This also shews us how to understand our Lord when He speaks of His joy being
fulfilled in the saints: John 17:13– “And now I come unto thee; and these
things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in
themselves.” It is by the indwelling of that Divine Spirit, which we have shewn
to be God the Father’s and the Son’s infinite Love and Joy in each other. In the
13th verse He says He has spoken His word to His disciples, “that His joy might
be fulfilled;” and in verse 26th He says, “And I have declared unto them Thy
name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in
them, and I in them.”

And herein lies the mystery of the vital union that is between Christ and the
soul of a believer, which orthodox divines speak so much of, Christ’s love–that
is, His Spirit is actually united to the faculties of their souls. So it
properly lives, acts, and exerts its nature in the exercise of their faculties.
By this Love being in them, He is in them, (John 17:26;) and so it is said, 1
Cor. 6:17– “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”

And thus it is that the saints are said to live, “yet not they, but Christ
lives in them,” (Gal. 2:20.) The very promise of spiritual life in their souls
is no other than the Spirit of Christ himself. So that they live by His life, as
much as the members of the body live by the life of the Lord, and as much as the
branches live by the life of the root and stock. “Because I live, ye shall live
also,” (John 14:19.) “We are dead: but our life is hid with Christ in God,”
(Col. 3:3.) “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear,” (Col 3:4.)

There is a union with Christ, by the indwelling of the Love of Christ, two
ways. First, as ’tis from Christ, and is the very Spirit and life and fulness of
Christ; and second, as it acts to Christ. For the very nature of it is love and
union of heart to Him.

Because the Spirit of God dwells as a vital principle or a principle of new
life in the soul, therefore ’tis called the “Spirit of life,” (Rom. 8:2;) and
the Spirit that “quickens.” (John 6:63.)

The Spirit of God is a vital principle in the soul, as the breath of life is
in the body: Ezek. 37:5–”Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, I will cause
breath to enter into you, and ye shall live;” and so verses 9,10…

That principle of grace that is in the hearts of the saints is as much a
proper communication or participation of the Spirit of God, the Third Person in
the Trinity, as that breath that entered into these bodies is represented to be
a participation of the wind that blew upon them. The prophet says, “Come from
the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live,” is
now the very same wind and the same breath; but only was wanted to these bodies
to be a vital principle in them, which otherwise would be dead. And therefore
Christ himself represents the communication of His Spirit to His disciples by
His breathing upon them, and communicating to them His breath, (John 20:22.)

We often, in our common language about things of this nature, speak of a
principle of grace. I suppose there is no other principle of grace in the soul
than the very Holy Ghost dwelling in the soul and acting there as a vital
principle. To speak of a habit of grace as a natural disposition to act grace,
as begotten in the soul by the first communication of Divine light, and as the
natural and necessary consequence of the first light, it seems in some respects
to carry a wrong idea with it. Indeed the first exercise of grace in the first
light has a tendency to future acts, as from an abiding principle, by grace and
by the covenant of God; but not by any natural force. The giving one gracious
discovery or act of grace, or a thousand, has no proper natural tendency to
cause an abiding habit of grace for the future; nor any otherwise than by Divine
constitution and covenant. But all succeeding acts of grace must be as
immediately, and, to all intents and purposes, as much from the immediate acting
of the Spirit of God on the soul, as the first; and if God should take away His
Spirit out of the soul– all habits and acts of grace would of themselves cease
as immediately as light ceases in a room when a candle is carried out. And no
man has a habit of grace dwelling in him any otherwise than as he has the Holy
Spirit dwelling in him in his temple, and acting in union with his natural
faculties, after the manner of a vital principle. So that when they act grace,
’tis, in the language of the apostle, “not they, but Christ living in them.”
Indeed the Spirit of God, united to human faculties, acts very much after the
manner of a natural principle or habit. So that one act makes way for another,
and so it now settles the soul in a disposition to holy acts; but that it does,
so as by grace and covenant, and not from any natural necessity.

Hence the Spirit of God seems in Sacred Scripture to be spoken of as a
quality of the persons in whom it resided. So that they are called spiritual
persons; as when we say a virtuous man, we speak of virtue as the quality of the
man. ‘Tis the Spirit itself that is the only principle of true virtue in the
heart. So that to be truly virtuous is the same as to be spiritual.

And thus it is not only with respect to the virtue that is in the hearts of
the saints on earth, but also the perfect virtue and holiness of the saints in
heaven. It consists altogether in the indwelling and acting of the Spirit of God
in their habits. And so it was with man before the Fall; and so it is with the
elect, sinless angels. We have shewn that the holiness and happiness of God
consist in the Holy Spirit; and so the holiness and happiness of every holy or
truly virtuous creature of God, in heaven or earth, consist in the communion of
the same Spirit.

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The Tale of the Two Beggars

Many years ago in a far off land there was a certain kingdom nestled in a
fertile mountain valley. The peasants fared well, and the kindly king did
not burden the people with high taxes. It was a pleasant place to dwell,
when you considered how the peasants lived in neighboring kingdoms.

The king, a benevolent soul, wanted to express his appreciation for his
subjects. He decided to have a royal banquet in their honor. Every citizen
of the kingdom was invited. The king’s heralds blew their trumpets and
made the proclamation at the palace entrance, in the market square, at the
city gates, wherever people were gathered. “Hear ye, hear ye. All citizens
of this land are invited to a royal feast Saturday at high noon,” the
trumpeters cried. “The royal gates will be open for the guests from noon
till one,” they announced.

Excitement filled the air. The ladies and maidens were discussing what
they would wear, and how they could fix their hair. The men and the boys
speculated about what might be served; venison from the king’s own forest,
brook trout from the castle moat, or perhaps chestnut stuffed quail. The
announcement of a royal banquet brought great excitement to everyone.

Days before the feast much activity could be seen through the palace
gates. Servants were everywhere, trimming the castle gardens and grounds,
others were setting up great tables, while others were hanging colorful
banners from tall poles. Smoke could be seen from the chimneys of the
king’s cookhouse, and the wonderful aroma of fresh baked tarts and cakes
wafted over the wall. Wagon load after wagon load of mysteriously covered
goods appeared at the palace gates, and were quickly admitted by the
king’s guards.

Saturday, the day of the feast, finally arrived. The sky was blue, dotted
with white fleecy clouds. Birds were flying high in the air, and
butterflies were darting here and there. All morning the people were
readying themselves and just before noon large masses of citizens, dressed
in their finest, were milling about the palace waiting for that moment
when the gates would be opened

Meanwhile, the city market place was deserted excepting for two miserable
beggars. One was so blind that he could not see his hand in front of his
face, and the other had a leg so lame that he could not walk without
hopping on his good leg while leaning on someone else’s shoulder. They
were both hungry and dirty. The blind man could not see to find his way to
the palace, even though he longed to feast at the king’s banquet. The lame
man could see, and even knew the way to the king’s palace, but he could
not walk. “How wonderful it would be if I could just this once dine at the
king’s party,” he thought.

Now the blind man did not like that lame beggar. “At least I look normal,”
he thought, “and I don’t have that ugly twisted limb that others tell me
he has. At least I can walk. I stay as far away from him at the market as
I can, because, you know, he is my competitor for the few coins the people
might have to give.”

The lame man did not like the blind man either. “I can at least see what
is going on around me,” he thought. “I’m not ‘in the dark’ on everything
like he is. I just can’t get there, that’s all. Beside that, there are
hardly enough coins in this market for one of us, let alone two. I’ll stay
on my side, let him stay on his.”

Except for the sounds of the sparrows, the market was still. The blind man
stopped crying, “Alms for the poor,” because he heard no one. The lame man
stopped begging because he could see nobody was there.

Then one of them had an idea. It may be that they both had the same idea
at the same time. That doesn’t matter now, anyway. Let us say that it was
the lame man who said, “Hey blind man, you know, if we would work together
we could still go to the feast. I think I could crawl over to you, or if I
keep on talking to you, you could walk toward my voice, and I could tell
you if you were about to bump into something. Then I could lean on your
shoulder, you could help me walk, and I could tell you which way to go.
How about it?”

“I’m not going to the palace with a cripple!” said the blind man. “I still
have some pride, you know. That would be embarrassing to be seen with a
man that has to hop, or worse yet, crawl to the food tables.”

Or was it, “I’m not going to the king’s banquet with a man that can’t
see,” said the lame man. “You’re likely to get food all over your face and
clothes. That would be disgusting! Yuck! I want no part of it.”

Both became silent. All they could hear were the sparrows squabbling over
a few grains of barley that had been spilled from a crude market basket
the day before.

Both were hungry, very hungry, and realized that alone, neither could go
to the banquet. There was a long silence. “Oh, I really want to go,” each
one thought to himself, “But not with him!” There was still more
silence.

Then one of them, and I am not sure which one it was, said, “There is
still time to get to the king’s banquet, if we work together. How about
it?”

In the distance the bells of the castle tower struck twice, twelve-thirty.
Could they make it in time?

At first it was difficult, irksomely, vexingly difficult. The lame man’s
instructions were not always clear, and he seemed so heavy. “What if he
leads us into a ditch? I could get killed!” worried the blind man.

“This blind man seems rather frail. Can he hold me up all the way to the
palace? What if he falls? I could be seriously injured!” thought the lame
man.

The bells in the castle tower struck three times, a quarter to one. Would
they make it in time?

Nonetheless they proceeded, slowly but steadily toward the king’s palace.

At one minute to one they passed through the gates, and then heard the
order that the gates were to be shut behind them. Together they had made
the feast in time. It was not too late! They made it!

It was then they heard a voice from the King of Kings who spoke from
heaven. “You have learned to walk with your brother, and accept and cover
each other’s weaknesses and limitations. You have learned your lesson. It
is now safe to heal you both. Blind eyes, be opened that you may see! Lame
leg, be healed that you may walk! Walk together into the feast prepared
for you both.”

Amos 3:3 For how can we walk together with your sins between us? TLB

1 Corinthians 11:29-30 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing
the body of the Lord [the whole church] eats and drinks judgment on
himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you
have fallen asleep. NIV

1 John 2:9-11 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother
is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light,
and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his
brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not
know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. NIV

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