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THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THE AUTHOR OF
The power and Spirit of God not synonymous-Regeneration the work of
divine power exerted by the Spirit-A peculiar reason for this being referred to His agency-An order of operation correspondent with the order of subsistences in the divine nature-An example—The Spirit of God the great author of Life in all its varieties—No law of nature adequate to explain the production of Life—The nature of causality—Resolvible into the will and agency of God-Applied to the subject under consideration Account of the creation-Gen. i. 2-Job. xxvii. 3—Psal. cxxxix. 13, 16–The Mosaic account of the vivification of man-John, XX. 22—The natural history contained in the bible-Reflections.
The power of God, and the Spirit of God are both spoken of in the sacred scriptures as being concerned in the regeneration of a sinner. The production of faith in the heart, which is one of the constituents and evidences or the commencement of this change, is attributed by the apostle to the exceeding greatness of His power (who is the Father of glory) to us-ward who believe according to the working of His mighty power."! And yet it is as distinctly and specifically attributed to the agency of the Spirit as being indispensible to salvation—"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Hence, as we have seen, some have inferred that the power and Spirit of God are synonymous expressions.
The inference, however, is not legitimate. For, according to the views already given of the nature and persons of Deity, it is very easy to render such phraseology per. 1 Eph. j. 19.
2 John, iii. 7.
fectly consistent, and to free the sacred writers from the charge of mysticism, and of useless multiplication of terms which would otherwise lie against them. The power of Omnipotence—that power which is strictly proper to the divine Being, is specially exerted by God, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Should it be objected, that in speaking of the persons of the Godhead, we speak of something unintelligible and undefinable, it may be replied, that so does the physiologist when treating of Life-a thing, the reality of which we dare not doubt, but the nature and origin of which are utterly incomprehensible. This is no valid objection, if, as has been shown, the word of God does teach the fact, that God, the one infinite Supreme, exists in three persons. We hope to make it appear in the prosecution of this work, that the Spirit of God, the third person of Deity, is not without reason referred to peculiarly, and specifically in the great work of a sinner's regeneration, a work accomplished by the energies of God. It is unnecessary here to repeat or multiply quotations on this point. No one can have read the sacred scriptures, without noticing the fact, that the Spirit of God is the special and immediate agent in this thing, though the power . be divine.
This is not accidental. There is a peculiar reason for it, which, with deference, we submit. Although there is much that is awfully mysterious in the nature of the divine Being; and although the infinite Supreme, Jehovah, the one simple, undivided, uncompounded, and eternal divine essence, lives in three distinct and co-equal subsistences or persons—a fact totally inconceivable and incomprehensible by our finite minds; yet must we nut fear so to think and speak of Him. For, the sacred scriptures, which reveal this fact, actually go further, and represent the persons of the Godhead, not only as being three distinct co-equalities, but as having an order of subsistence, and a correspondent order of operation. The Father, as the first person,
is spoken of as the source or fountain--"The Father of lights,” &c.—the Son, as the only begotten of the Father, or, as proceeding from Him, and the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father, and sent by the Son. Answerable to this mysterious order of the divine subsistencies, is the order of divine operations, which the sacred scriptures recognize. The Father purposes or plans—the Son creates and executes:--and the Spirit conveys, applies, adorns and fully invests with the benefits designed to be conferred.? Thus to illustrate this by one vast and comprehensive example.
The plan of redemption is represented as having originated with God, in the person of the Father-the whole work necessary to the execution of that plan, as being wrought by God in the person of the Son—and the blessings designed to be secured by it, as conveyed and communicated by God in the person of the Holy Spirit:* so that there is as entire and harmonious an order of operations, as there is of subsistences, and the one perfectly correspondent with the other. Such being the order of the divine subsistences and operations, it follows that regeneration, a constituent and conspicuous blessing of divine grace, devolves particularly on the Holy Spirit, as being His peculiar and appropriate work. It falls within the immediate sphere of His agency, so that it is not without meaning, the sacred scriptures uniformly represent it as the effect of His power, as every attentive and intelligent reader cannot fail in the prosecution of this inquiry to perceive. With a view, therefore, to a more satisfactory apprehension of our whole subject, as well as to corroborate the account given above of the Spirit's agency, we shall endeavor to elucidate and confirm several exegetical propositions which we shall state in their order. 1 James, i. 17. 2 John, i. 18.
3 John, viji. 42. 4 John, xv. 26.
5 Eph. i. 3-10. 7 John, xvi. 14.
8 See the text above referred to.
6 Col. j. 16.
I. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS THE GREAT AUTHOR OF LIFE IN ALL ITS VARIETIES. He is called "the Spirit of Life;" but with what reason, will we better understood presently.
Even the most inattentive observer cannot fail to have noticed, that there is an endless process of production and re-production going on in the works of creation-and that much and by far the most interesting and important part, of it is connected with the developement of life in innumerable forms. The earth, the air and the seas are teeming with it. To what cause shall we attribute this effect? The infidel philosopher talks unintelligibly on the subject. To say that it results by virtue of a law of nature, is saying just nothing.
We cannot resolve the whole influence of causality, in any satisfactory way, without the idea of some intelligent and efficient agent. It will not do to say, experience teaches that one event regularly follows another. Why does it do so? is a question which will force itself on our attention: and to meet that question, by saying that experience shews it does, is only another way of confessing ignorance and of evading the question entirely. To assign the circumstance of juxta-position as a solution of the connection which subsists between cause and effect is felt to be totally inadequate. We see that the needle touched with a magnet turns towards the north, and if we ask, why it does so, who will be satisfied with this answer, "because it is attracted by the magnetic pole." All bodies gravitate towards the centre of the earth. But why do they? Will you say because it is a law of nature? What then we ask, is this law of nature? Is it a power? Is it a will? Is it an intelligence? None will be affirmed. What then is it? Is it a property of matter? But how can matter originate motions without itself? We see that the dog follows his master as the needle does the magnet, an event in some instances as regularly succeeding
the other in the one case, as in the other. But who will resolve the causality in either case into mere juxta-position? The truth is, that the will and agency of God, which are, from the very necessity of the case, altogether mysterious to us, cannot be excluded from our idea of causality. No other link can supply the chasm, and bind together the cause and the effect.
This we feel to be perfectly satisfactory, and the mind rests in it, as abundantly adequate to the solution of the phenomena. With regard to those of life, no other explanation can at all suffice. To talk of the aptness of organic matter for life, will not do. For we see an endless variety of animate matter-life found in ever varying organizations. In what consists that adaptation? Whence comes this variety? Take whatever view you please of the subject, the difficulty returns into your hands, and the only satisfactory solution is, that the energy of God is continually exerted in the production of life, according to the various modes in which He is sovereignly pleased to dispense it to His creatures.
We need not restrict the remark to any special kind of life. All of its forms, from the loftiest seraph to the smallest reptile, or insect, are the product of Almighty power. This will probably be admitted with respect to God, abstractly considered, as the great fountain of all being; but how, it will be asked, will this confirm the proposition stated, that the Spirit of God is the author of life? The bible gives us some historical details on this subject, but for which we should have been in utter ignorance. From it we learn, that God, in the person of the Spirit, presides over the whole department of life, and exerts a special agency in it, He is represented to have commenced His operations immediately on the creation of the inanimate and inorganic mass of our globe. In the account which Moses gives of the creation, it is very distinctly stated to