« PreviousContinue »
or how he fills the hearts of the Romans with joyful confidence through faith ; and, inasmuch as Jews and Gentiles are by the christian doctrines entitled to equal confidence (v. 8—12), how he fills them with unity of sentiment. It teaches us that he himself produces faith in the divine doctrines, and the joyful confidence (zapav, ehtida) resulting from it, through the Holy Spirit.--c) 1 Pet. 1: 22, having purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. Spirit,” tvevua, cannot here signify the Gospel, for this is meant by “the truth,” al ngela; nor can it mean the proper use of the Gospel, for this is expressed by “obeying the truth ;" it must therefore necessarily signify the Holy Spirit.--d) Jude v. 20, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in (sv) the Holy Ghost. In this passage also, the aid of the Holy Spirit is joined with holy doctrines and personal exertion, and prayer recommended to us for the very reason, that the divine assistance is necessary, in order to render the use of the doctrines effectual in edifying and confirming us. The word “in,” xv, in this passage signifies through or by (the aid of), as it also does in 1 Cor. 9: 1.
pare 3: 5-9.
VII. Nature of this immediate divine influence.—Eph. 3: 20. comp. v. 16 &c. Rom. 8: 9, 11, 16, 26, the Spirit of God (the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from the dead—the Spirit of Christ) dwelleth in you. This Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities--The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with unutterable groanings. On these texts the reader may consult the Dissertation on the Influences of Grace, 95, where it is proved that these passages distinguish between the work of God (the Spirit of God), and the personal agency of the individual. The arguments are in substance the following :-1.
1 Dissert. de Spiritus sancti efficientia, Note 35.
Gospel on account of the agency of God &c,” the phraseology would be different. In the first case, xata would be superfluous, or at least would be used in a singular manner. In the second case, δια would have been used instead of κατα. But in either case, the preceding words would have to be rendered in this forced manner : “ what is the exceeding greatness of his power which he manifested (in Christ) for our good.” Eph. 3: 20. Heb. 13: 20, 21, “May God (the omnipotent) who raised Jesus from the dead, perfect you [rectify you, make you right] in every thing that is good, and work in you what is pleasing in his sight” [καταρτισαι υμας-ενωπιον αυτου).
IX. The reality of gracious influence known only by its effects.-All that we can know on this subject from our own experience is, that a salutary change has taken place within us. But we are not conscious of an extraordinary influence of God. Experience teaches us the fact of our change, but not the cause which produced it. Nor are these facts which we observe, possessed of the same criteria of a superhuman nature, the same. marks of power exceeding the ability of a soul enlightened by the divine word, as are found in the fulfilment of a prediction of future events, the occurrence of which was altogether unexpected by human foresight, and the production of which the power of man could not have accomplished. The influences of grace are, therefore, not of a miraculous nature. ($ 37. III. 2.) But, on the other hand, experience offers not the least evidence against their real existence, and all the facts which we observe are in perfect accordance with the belief that they do exist, as we are taught in the word of God.
1 See the Dissert. on the influences of grace, 2. Dissert. de Spiritus sancti efficientia. (II.
The influences of divine grace on christians are suspended on
the use of the word of God, and are not irresistible.
As the salutary change, which will be more particularly described in the next book, is, in those who are acquainted with God's word, commenced and continued (1) through the instrumentality of that word; we have no reason to expect that God will exert any immediate influence on the minds of those who neglect to use the sacred oracles. On the contrary, the influences of grace among those to whom the divine word is accessible, are suspended on a proper use of that word. Nor is the word of God itself impotent or inefficient in its nature (2). It is therefore unreasonable for us to wait for God to bestow a saving knowledge of divine truth on us, by immediate revelation. This knowledge can be expected only from a proper use of the word of God itself (3). For it was for our instruction that the revelation was given us by God, and if we could obtain this knowledge from any other source, the word of God would be superfluous. Nor are those religious feelings which by the divine aid, are excited and cherished within us (4) for the purpose of assisting us in our conflict with the sinful propensities of our nature, either independent of our knowledge of divine truth, or contrary to the principles of our moral nature. On the contrary they are in perfect accordance with our religious knowledge, and are in one respect within the power of man (5); he can cherish and obey them, and act in conformity (6) to those views of religious truth (Matth. 13: 23, 19) with which they are connected (Rom. 8: 4, 13), or by a different course of conduct he can neglect and suppress them (7).
I. Instrumentality of the divine word in changing the moral character of man.—John 17: 20, “through the instrumentality of my divine doctrines (ev in ahntelę) preserve them as thine own (v. 11.), separated from the world and the lord of this world (áyıuoov)."1 John 8: 31, 32, “If ye obey my doctrines (ueverv i. q. inpelv v. 51) ye shall be my true disciples ; for
ye shall so know the truth, and the truth will make you free from the dominion of sin (v adn tata shevtepwoel vuas)""2 Matth. 7:24. Luke 8: 11, 15, but that on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Rom. 10: 13—17. 1 Thess. 2: 16, (the Jews) forbidding us to speak to the gentiles, that they might be saved. 1 Cor. 4: 15, I have begotten you through the Gospel. 15: 1, 2, the Gospel-by which ye are saved. 1 Pet. 1: 23, being born again by the word of God which liveth forever (that is through the Gospel v. 25.) 2:2, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. James 1: 18. See $115. Ill. 2. v. 21, receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls. Compare $121.
II. The word of God is not impotent or inefficient in its nature.-Acts 20:32, and now, brethren, I commend you to God and the word of his grace. Rom. 1: 16, it (the Gospel of Christ) is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth. The immediate influence of grace and the logicomoral influence, i. e. the moral suasion of the word of God, are
1 Dissert. II. in LL. N. Test. histor. Note 71. 2 Dissert. I. in LL, N. Test, histor. p. 86.
so closely combined, that they cannot be distinguished from one another, in as much as their influence is exerted jointly."
III. Supernatural revelations of divine truth are not to be expected. Luke 16: 29, they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.? Inspiration or the immediate supernatural communication of a knowledge of divine truth, will remain the exclusive prerogative of the extraordinary messengers of God. It is necessary that they should demonstrate the divinity of their mission by deeds which transcend the powers of human nature, that is, by miracles, in order that they may justly claim faith in their instructions. But when the New Testament speaks of christians in general, and says that they must be enlightened or instructed by God himself (φωτισθηναι, λαβειν επιγνωσιν); the idea intended is, that it is necessary for all christians to have a vital, a practical knowledge of the truth, that is, such a knowledge as is attended with correspondent good feelings, and followed by such a course of conduct as is dictated by the word of God. In Heb. 6: 4, and 10: 26, the phrases “to receive a knowledge of the truth” and “to be enlightened,” are used as synonymous. According to Eph. 1: 17 &c, those to whom God has given a knowledge of himself (Col. 1: 9, a knowledge of his will), have had the eyes of their understanding opened. And Koppe adduces several passages of the LXX in which the word POTIŠELV to enlighten, is used for the Hebrew 771, to teach, but at the same time remarks, that in most passages of the New Testament in which it occurs, this word does not signify the mere act of teaching 3 1 John 2: 3, hereby we know that we have known him (Christ) if we keep his command
1 Dissert. de Spiritus sancti efficientia, 06.
3 See also Schleusner's Lex. voc. potesw No. 3. Reinhard's Dogmatik, p. 496. No. 2.