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nifestly and obvioufly relate to the standing Office, and ordinary Operations of the Holy Spirit throughout all Ages, she Spirit helpetb our Infirmities, and it is God, the Holy Ghost, that ever did and ever will work in Men both to will, and to do of his good Pleasure. We are exhorted in general not to grieve, or quench the Spirit, which we cannot be understood to do but by counteracting his gracious Designs, and resisting his godly Motions. Nay, the very Being of Christians, as such, and their Title to the Privileges of the Gospel Covenant depend upon the dwelling of the Spirit of God in them, (as St. Paul strongly expresses it) and upon their Compliance with his Directions. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God: and if any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. In short, the Doctrine of Scripture, with respect to the Work of Sanctification in general, is most clear and consistent, and therefore till the Authority of Scripture is disproved, this Doctrine is to be retained.—But because the Cavils and Objections usually advanced upon this Head are too apt to make Impressions upon simple or melancholy Chrijlians themselves, it will be worth our while to bestow some Consideration upon them.—Now one principal Objection to the Doctrine before us is, that these supposed Motions of the Spirit are altogether imperceptible, and undistinguistiable from the Motions of our own
Hearts. Hearts.—Granting which in general to be true, it is surely ridiculous to make that an Objection to the Doctrine which is really in ordinary Cases a Part of the Doctrine itself. When our Saviour represented to Nicodemus the Necessity of spiritual Regeneration, he declared at the same time the Operations of the blessed Spirit for this Purpose to be absolutely unuiscoverable by us. The Wind bloweth where it lijleth, and thou hearejl the Sound thereof, but cansl not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. We must accordingly ascribe all our good Works, and even good Desires, to the Impressions of the Holy Ghost upon our Minds; but then we must ascribe them to the Influences not of forcing as it were, and compelling, but of assisting and co-operating Grace; of Grace secretly concurring with, but not superseding our own Endeavours. Every Man feels within himself the Inclinations and Dispositions of his own Heart; if these are pious and holy they are really, though imperceptibly, suggested by the Spirit of God. And that the Notion of real, though imperceptible, Influence is not absurd in itself, may be made appear from an obvious Illustration of it. If we consider Man only as an Animal, he is by no means Master of the vital Motions of his own Heart; he moves, breathes, and speaks, in a manner, mechanically. Why may not Man therefore, as a moral, as well as a natural, Being, be subject to unknown, but certain Directions and Impressions, which yet are perfectly consistent with his Freedom under both Characters? Supposing these Influences and Impressions to be resistible, there can be no manner of Doubt in this Case; and as we are only concerned with Infidels in the present Question, we are at Liberty to suppose it.—But farther, though the Graces of the Holy Spirit are usually imparted by secret Communications, yet that in many Cases, and in extraordinary Exigencies, particularly in the Hour of natural or violent Death, good Men have been sensibly favoured with Supports and Refreshments from the Holy Spirit is morally certain, as well from their own Declarations, as from the eminent Serenity, Composure, and Fortitude, which they have illustriously discovered upon such Occasions. I am well aware, indeed, it may be said, that Men of all Times, Nations, and Persuasions whatsoever may be produced, who have behaved, in parallel Extremities, with the Calmness and Intrepidity of the best Christians.—But all this will I apprehend be abundantly obviated by observing, 1st, (by the way) that probably a Proportion of supernatural Assistance has been dispensed to all those who have at any time, or in any Cause, strictly and truly suffered for Conscience Sake: zdly, that as mere Obstinacy, Perverseness, and natural or affected Resolution are often found to animate some in the
severest severest Trials; so others actuated by seducing Spirits, (as the Apoille calls them) those to whom God has judicially sent strong Delufion that they should believe a Lie, have no doubt fallen Martyrs to Error with the apparent Magnanimity of those who lay down their Life for the Truth. Instances of this kind therefore are so far from disproving the Doctrine before us, that they really confirm it, and evince both the Propriety and Importance of the Apostle's Advice to us, to believe not every Spirit, but to try the Spirits, whether they be of God.—In the brief Prosecution of which Advice, a second Objection to the Reality of the Impulses and Directions of the Holy Spirit in any Case will occur to us, taken from the wild Conceits, and ridiculous and wicked Extravagancies, of many who have laid the strongest Pretensions, as well in Doctrine as in Practice, to his gracious Inspirations.—Now although the Gift of discerning of Spirits may be thought to have been peculiar to the first Ages of Christianity, yet there is still one certain, infallible Rule to try the Spirits by, which is the Word of God. It may indeed be difficult for us so precisely to apply this Rule to every Doctrine that has been advanced, as to be able absolutely to determine the speculative Differences of Christiatis, grounded on different Interpretations of Scripture; but different Interpretations are one Thing, and palpable Distortions and Misapplica
tions of it another. It may be no easy Matter to rectify-lhe Mistakes of the soundest Christian; but the Folly or Pride of Enthusiasts defeats itself.
Indeed the Impulses and Assistances of the Holy Ghost do neither preclude Error in speculative Matters, nor supersede Infirmity in practical; for they leave us Men still; nor can Infallibility of Understanding, or absolute Rectitude of Will be necessary to Salvation; it is sufficient that they give us a right Judgment in all Things which are so, and that they help and support, though they do not remove the Weakness of our mortal Nature. The Case in truth seems to be this;
though the Spirit be secret, and imperceptible in his ordinary Operations, he is discernible in his Effects, and Productions: as Grapes are not gathered from Thorns, nor Figs from Thistles, so no sound and spiritual Doctrine can possibly be produced by blind Ignorance, or an inflamed Imagination; but it may be produced by contrary Principles as opposite Causes are ever attended with opposite Effects. And the same Rule may be applied to Practice; if the strongest Pretensions to spiritual Assistance, and Direction from above, be not answered by correspondent Actions, and a Christian Conversation, those Pretences must be vain. The Fruit of the Spirit, St. Paul tells us, is Love, soy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith,