Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

very innermost of the inner man. There it is that the Spirit doth most intimately inhere and reside. It is not a thing which lies in the surface of a man; or consists in outward forms, or empty shews, or fruitless talk; but it is something which is got into a man's heart, and hath insinuated and conveyed itself there.

(3.) It is alterative of its subject, or of that nature to which it is adjoined. It is so in it, as to make a very great alteration within, and to work a change where it comes. As leaven, to which this very thing is compared by our Lord which he here calls spirit, hath in it that fermentative virtue, by which it strangely alters the lump into which it is put, and whereto it is adjoined. It is incredible according to the accounts the chymists give, how very little and minute a portion shall quite alter and transform the mass into which it is put, so as to make it quite another thing. Such a thing is this begotten spirit, it is alterative of its subject; and when it gets within a man, it makes him quite another thing from what he was. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; or which is all one, there is a new creature in him. Sometimes the whole man is spoken of as the subject of this production, and we are said to be new creatures, and the new creation is spoken of as being in us. It only carries this signification with it, that when a man is said to be begotten or regenerated, it is only said to be so secundum quid, or in this peculiar respect; as having such a thing of new production now put into him. It is such a great change which is made, as that all things which were old, are said to be done away, and all that remains to be made new, 2 Cor. v. 17. This is nothing else but the same Spirit which is got into the heart of a man, and makes its subject new; that is, to become a new heart and a right spirit, where it comes to obtain. It is not so with every thing which is put into another, or whereof another thing is contained; you may put water into a bason, and it alters it nothing; but this is such a thing which alters that which it is put into, and makes it quite another thing; like putting some spirits into that water which changes the colour and quality of it.

(4.) It is universally diffused in its subject, as it is in its nature alterative of it. It is a thing universally diffused through the whole subject wherein it comes; whence it is that the operation also is universal, and it makes a thorough change. They are very comprehensive expressions which the apostle uses concerning holiness or sanctification, (1 Thes. v. 23.) where he prays on the behalf of the Thessalonians; That God would sanctify them wholly, or throughout, that is in their whole spirit, soul and body : he distinguishes these ; probably meaning by the former, the soul, as rational'; by the second, the soul as sensitive ; and by the third, the corporeal body. It is plain this same created, begotten spirit, being designed to repair what was impaired by sin, must take place and spread itself as far as sin had done. That bad vitiated and depraved the whole man, and is therefore called, a man; the old man; as having extended itself to all the powers, and faculties, and all the parts of a man : it is a man in a man. This spirit therefore is to be a man in a man too, and must spread into all the same powers and parts, which the former had done, and make a new man. Though it is true indeed, that the intelligent soul of man can only be formally the subject of this change, yet sin is by a sort of participation in the sensitive soul, and in the external senses and parts of the body; and so must grace or holiness too. It is strange rhetoric the apostle uses in that collection of passages which we find in Rom. 3. from 10. onward, out of certain places of the old testament. The apostle designs to represent not only how universally sin had spread itself among all men; but how it had spread itself through the whole of every man : as if they were so very full of sin, and so under the possession and power of it, that they belched it out of their throats, and through their lips; acred it with their hands; and made haste toit with their feet: Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips, their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their ways. They do nothing but work mischief wherever they come. Why, according to this same spreading, and diffusion of sin, which is here called flesh; so must be that of the spirit too, enthroning itself in the very inwards of the soul, and having its residence there ; whilst thence it diffuses its energy and vital influence, through all the parts and powers of the man; and leavens the whole lump. Both sin and holiness are represented to us upon

the account of their diffusive nature, by a metaphor of the same kind; by the apostle, 1 Cor. v. 6. and by our Saviour, Mat. 13.33.

(5.) He must understand it to be a most excellent thing ; of a very high and great excellence, which is here called spirit. It is a most pure essence, and noble production, agreeable to its productive cause. How vain a thing is all this material world, if you abstract and sever spirit from it? What a sluggish dull lump were all this mass of earth, and all the matter of the world, without spirit? If you could imagine such a distinct thing as a spirit of nature, and we know there are operations which some call by that name, which in Scripture are simply ascribed to this same Spirit who is here spoken of under

the name of the Spirit. The great Almighty Spirit of God, in the creation of the world, did move upon the waters ; and in the continual sustentation, direction and government of the creatures, it hath its agency; Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the earth, Psal. civ. 30. If we should conceive no such thing as spirit to influence this sanie material world, what a heap would it soon be ? As a house would in time become, only much sooner, which should never have any inhabitant, or any body to reside there ; for the influence of an inhabitant is not so much to keep the house up, as this Almighty Spirit is to keep up the frame of nature, and continue things in the course and order, wherein they naturally were. Upon this account, many of the more Tefined philosophers have made it very much their business, to speak debasingly and diminishingly of man, and to represent him as a despicable thing; that is the mere body or matter separate from spirit; which plainly carries this signification with it, that spirit was, in their account, a most excellent sort and kind of being. This expression, that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit, holds forth this production to be such, that is, of the noblest kind. When the prophet would speak diminishingly and with contempt concerning the Egyptian power, he says, their horses are flesh and not spirit, Isa. 31. 3. They have no spirit in themi ; an expression merely designed to set forth how little they were to be feared or regarded, and how contemptible they were,

(6.) It is a soul rectifying, or restoring thing. It being a thing of a very high excellence, must needs not only render the spirit of a man into which it is put, a great deal more excellent than it was ; but it was withal designed to restore it to its pristine excellence, and make it what it was, or what it ought to be.

It is by this work or production in the spirits of men, that souls are said to be restored ; Thou restorest my soul, Psal. 23. 3. So far as this work hath taken place in me he hath brought me back and made me to return, where I was and ought to have been. It is therefore the very rectitude of the soul, or setting it right again : Create a right spirit within me, Psal. li. 10.

(7.) It is a divine thing, as we must needs understand it. For it is the birth and production of the divine Spirit, and is immediately from God; and it is his very image ; and the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. It is something which is as it were copied out of God himself, and whereof he is at once both the immediate efficient and exemplar. And upon this account it is called, by the apostle, the divine nature. 2 Pet. I. 4.

(8.) It is a thing by the very nature of it, instincted into a dependance upon God; or immediately dependant upon him as to its continual subsistence. There is a natural dependance which is common to all creatures, and essential to them as creatures. All have a kind of instinct drawn from the continual sustaining them, from the great Author of all : but this is a creature which depends knowingly and of choice; and so as to own and avow itself to be a depending creature : I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, Gal. 2. 20. And therefore there are continual breathings of desire after God: As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. Psal. xlii. 1.

(9.) It is a creature which not only depends on God voluntatily and of choice, but aims at him, and tends to him as an end, and carries the heart and soul of a man to do so. It is by this same inwrought Spirit that the soul is principally rectified and set right towards God, so as to design him only, and to do all for him. Hence this becomes the sense of such a one; “I desire to be nothing, Lord, but for thee. My whole life and being are things of no value with me, but for thy sake. I care not whether I live or die; whether I am in the body or out of the body, is all one to me; for to me to live is Christ; and my great desire is, that Christ may be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. Phil. 1. 20, 21. And I through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” Gal. 2. 19. As soon as ever he becomes, in the former sense, dead; delivered from the law, and rescued from under the dominion and curse of it, he lives unto God. His life becomes a devoted thing; and the tenour and stream of all his thoughts and designs, and endeavours is altogether and wholly to him.

(10.) It is an active powerful thing: or a creature made for action and contest. It is a Spirit of power. 2 Tim. 1.7. That which is born of God overcomes the world, i John. v. 4. This son of God, this product and begotten Spirit, is born of God. What? Shall not this son of God which is begotten of him, overcome? Nay, in whom it obtains, they are more than conquerors : they conquer over and over; they conquer abundantly and with tlie greatest advantage imaginable. It is to them who overcome, that the crown and throne are designed at last. They shall have a new name ; and the heavenly hidden manna, and sit down with Christ upon his throne, as he overcame, and is set down

upon

the Father's throne, Rev. 3. 21. (11.) It is an immortal thing, and which never dies. Spirit is a thing which essentially carries life in it, and therefore can never cease to live. It is an incorruptible seed, and the seed of God put into the soul. He who is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him, 1 John 3. 6. His seed, of whom he is born. Can that be a mortal thing? It is observable therefore, how the apostle argues concerning those, whom he supposes to have been the subjects of this mighty and blessed operation of the Spirit of God. If by the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live ; for as many as are led by the Spirit, are the Sons of God, Rom. 8.14. He takes it for granted they are the begotten sons of God, by the Spirit. And it is as if he had said ; What do you think the sons of God shall not live? hath he begotten any mortal sons, or such as can corrupt and die? So those words are commonly, and very probably, understood to signify, Rev. 20. 6. Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection; over him the second death shall have no power. I will not assert that to be the sense, but it is not improbable to be so. They who are regenerate, and have got this Spirit of life into them ; they have got that in them which will spring up into life everlasting : having their fruit unto holiness their end is eternal life. As our Saviour speaks, John 4. 14. and the apostle Paul, Rom. 6. 22.

You have by these hints some account, what kind of thing this same begotten Spirit is, when it is said, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The time doth not allow at present, to go farther in the explicatory part:

I would hint this one thing by way of use before we depart, that we take heed of diminishing, or thinking slightly and meanly of this mighty distinguishing work of the Spirit of God. They are awful words, if duly considered, That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. There is nothing to be found in all this world, worthy the name of spirit, but that which is born immediately of the Spirit, and is its offspring. Our Saviour speaks in the other part of the verse manifestly in a way of contempt; That which is born of the flesh is flesh: that is but flesh, which is born of flesh! That is, men considered in their mere naturals only, or in this present corrupted state of nature. We must understand the whole being of man, to be the corrupted subject; and so to be altogether comprehended, under the name of flesh; his very soul and natural spirit itself in opposition to Spirit, in the other part of the verse, as the antithesis plainly shews. Let a man be of never so refined intellectuals, or great accomplishments; let him be never so much a man, and humanity cultivated to the highest pitch and degree; without this same additional superadded Spirit; he is nothing else but a lump of Hesh. If this thought did sink into the hearts of men, what despicable and self loathing thoughts would they have of them

« AnteriorContinuar »