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PARTICULAR DIRECTIONS FOR COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY GHOST
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Particular directions for communion with the Holy Ghost.
Before I name particular directions for our communion with the Holy Ghost, I must premise some cautions, as far as the directions to be given, concerning his worship.
First. The divine nature is the reason and cause of all worship; so that it is impossible to worship any one person, and not worship the whole Trinity. It is, and that not without ground, denied by the schoolmen, that the formal reason and object of divine worship is in the persons precisely considered; that is, under the formally-constitutive reason of their personality, which is their relation to each other. But this belongs to the divine nature and essence, and to their distinct persons as they are identified with the essence itself. Hence is that way of praying to the Trinity, by the repetition of the same petition to the several persons (as in the Litany), groundless, if not impious. It supposeth that one person is worshipped, and not another, when each person is worshipped as God, and each person is so; — as though we first should desire one thing of the Father, and be heard and granted by him, then ask the same thing of the Son, and so of the Holy Ghost; and so act as to the same thing three distinct acts of worship, and expect to be heard and have the same thing granted three times distinctly, when all the works of the Trinity, ad extra, are indivisible.
The proper and peculiar object of divine worship and invocation is the essence of God, in its infinite excellency, dignity, majesty, and its causality, as the first sovereign cause of all things. Now, this is common to all the three persons, and is proper to each of them; not formally as a person, but as God blessed for ever. All adoration respects that which is common to all; so that in each act of adoration and worship, all are adored and worshipped. The creatures worship their Creator; and a man, him in whose image he was created, — namely, him “from whom descendeth every good and perfect gift:” all this describing God as God. Hence, — Secondly. When we begin our prayers to God the Father, and end them in the name of Jesus Christ, yet the Son is no less invocated and worshipped in the beginning than the Father, though he be peculiarly mentioned as mediator in the close, — not as Son to himself, but as Mediator to the whole Trinity, or God in Trinity. But in the invocation of God the Father we invocate every person; because we invocate the Father as God, every person being so.
Thirdly. In that heavenly directory which we have, Ephesians 2:18, this whole business is declared. Our access in our worship is said to be “to the Father;” and this “through Christ,” or his mediation; “by the Spirit,” or his assistance. Here is a distinction of the persons, as to their operations, but not at all as to their being the object of our worship. For the Son and the Holy Ghost are no less worshipped in our access to God than the Father himself; only, the grace of the Father, which we obtain by the mediation of the Son and the assistance of the Spirit, is that which we draw nigh to God for. So that when, by the distinct dispensation of the Trinity, and every person, we are led to worship (that is, to act faith on or invocate) any person, we do herein worship the whole Trinity; and every person, by what name soever, of Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, we invocate him. So that this is to be observed in this whole matter, — that when any work of the Holy Ghost (or any other person), which is appropriated to him (we never exclude the concurrence of other persons), draws us to the worship of him, yet he is not worshipped exclusively, but the whole Godhead is worshipped.
Fourthly. These cautions being premised, I say that we are distinctly to worship the Holy Ghost. As it is in the case of faith in respect of the Father and the Son, John 14:1, “Believe in God, believe also in me,” this extends itself no less to the Holy Ghost. Christ called the disciples for the acting of faith on him, he being upon the accomplishment of the great work of his mediation; and the Holy Ghost, now carrying on the work of his delegation, requireth the same. And to the same purpose are their distinct operations mentioned: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Now, as the formal reason of the worship of the Son is not his mediation, but his being God (his mediation being a powerful motive thereto), so the formal reason of our worshipping the Holy Ghost is not his being our comforter, but his being God; yet his being our comforter is a powerful motive thereunto.
This is the sum of the first direction: — the grace, acting, love, effects of the Holy Ghost, as he is our comforter, ought to stir us up and provoke us to love, worship, believe in, and invocate him; — though all this, being directed to him as God, is no less directed, on that account, to the other persons than to him. Only by the fruits of his love towards us are we stirred up unto it.
These things being presupposed, let the saints learn to act faith distinctly on the Holy Ghost, as the immediate efficient cause of all the good things mentioned; — faith, I say, to believe in him; and faith in all things to believe him and to yield obedience to him; faith, not imagination. The distinction of the persons in the Trinity is not to be fancied, but believed.
So, then, the Scripture so fully, frequently, clearly, distinctly ascribing the things we have been speaking of to the immediate efficiency of the Holy Ghost, faith closes with him in the truth revealed, and peculiarly regards him, worships him, serves him, waits for him, prayeth to him, praiseth him; — all these things, I say, the saints do in faith. The person of the Holy Ghost, revealing itself in these operations and effects, is the peculiar object of our worship. Therefore, when he ought to be peculiarly honored, and is not, he is peculiarly sinned against. Acts 5:3, Ananias is said to lie to the Holy Ghost, — not to God; which being taken essentially, would denote the whole Trinity, but peculiarly to the Holy Ghost. Him he was to have honored peculiarly in that especial gift of his which he made profession of; — not doing it, he sinned peculiarly against him. But this must be a little farther branched into particulars: — Let us, then, lay weight on every effect of the Holy Ghost in any of the particulars before mentioned, on this account, that they are acts of his love and power towards us. This faith will do, that takes notice of his kindness in all things. Frequently he performs, in sundry particulars, the office of a comforter towards us, and we are not thoroughly comforted, — we take no notice at all of what he does. Then is he grieved. Of those who do receive and own the consolation he tenders and administers, how few are there that consider him as the comforter, and rejoice in him as they ought!
Upon every work of consolation that the believer receives, this ought his faith to resolve upon, — “This is from the Holy Ghost; he is the Comforter, the God of all consolation; I know there is no joy, peace, hope, nor comfort, but what he works, gives, and bestows; and, that he might give me this consolation, he has willingly condescended to this office of a comforter. His love was in it, and on that account does he continue it.
Also, he is sent by the Father and Son for that end and purpose. By this means come I to be partaker of my joy, — it is in the Holy Ghost; of consolation, — he is the Comforter. What price, now, shall I set upon his love! how shall I value the mercy that I have received!”
This, I say, is applicable to every particular effect of the Holy Ghost towards us, and herein have we communion and fellowship with him, as was in part discovered in our handling the particulars. Does he shed abroad the love of God in our hearts? does he witness unto our adoption? The soul considers his presence, ponders his love, his condescension, goodness, and kindness; is filled with reverence of him, and cares [takes care] not to grieve him, and labors to preserve his temple, his habitation, pure and holy.
Again: our communion with him causeth in us returning praise, and thanks, and honor, and glory, and blessing to him, on the account of the mercies and privileges which we receive from him; which are many. Herein consists our next direction. So do we with the Son of God on the account of our redemption: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever,” Revelation 1:5,6. And are not the like praises and blessings due to him by whom the work of redemption is made effectual to us? who with no less infinite love undertook our consolation than the Son our redemption.
When we feel our hearts warmed with joy, supported in peace, established in our obedience, let us ascribe to him the praise that is due to him, bless his name, and rejoice in him.
And this glorifying of the Holy Ghost in thanksgivings, on a spiritual sense of his consolations, is no small part of our communion with him.
Considering his free engagement in this work, his coming forth from the Father to this purpose, his mission by the Son, and condescension therein, his love and kindness, the soul of a believer is poured out in thankful praises to him, and is sweetly affected with the duty. There is no duty that leaves a more heavenly savor in the soul than this does.
Also, in our prayers to him for the carrying on the work of our consolation, which he has undertaken, lies our communion with him. John prays for grace and peace from the seven Spirits that are before the throne, or the Holy Ghost, whose operations are perfect and complete. This part of his worship is expressly mentioned frequently in Scripture; and all others do necessarily attend it. Let the saints consider what need they stand in of these effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned, with many such others as might be insisted on; weigh all the privileges which we are made partakers of; remember that he distributes them as he will, that he has the sovereign disposal of them; and they will be prepared for this duty.
How and in what sense it is to be performed has been already declared: what is the formal reason of this worship, and intimate object of it, I have also manifested. In the duty itself is put forth no small part of the life, efficacy, and vigor of faith; and we come short of that enlargedness of spirit in dealing with God, and are straitened from walking in the breadth of his ways, which we are called unto, if we learn not ourselves to meet him with his worship in every way he is pleased to communicate himself unto us. In these things he does so in the person of the Holy Ghost. In that person do we meet him, his love, grace, and authority, by our prayers and supplications.
Again: consider him as he condescends to this delegation of the Father and the Son to be our comforter, and ask him daily of the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the daily work of believers. They look upon, and by faith consider, the Holy Ghost as promised to be sent. In this promise, they know, lies all their grace, peace, mercy, joy, and hope. For by him so promised, and him alone, are these things communicated to them. If, therefore, our live to God, or the joy of that life, be considerable, in this we are to abound, — to ask him of the Father, as children do of their parents daily bread. And as, in this asking and receiving of the Holy Ghost, we have communion with the Father in his love, whence he is sent; and with the Son in his grace, whereby he is obtained for us; so with himself, on the account of his voluntary condescension to this dispensation. Every request for the Holy Ghost implies our closing with all these. O the riches of the grace of God!
Humbling ourselves for our miscarriages in reference to him is another part of our communion with him. That we have grieved him as to his person, quenched him as to the motion of his grace, or resisted him in his ordinances, is to be mourned for; as has been declared. Let our souls be humbled before him on this account. This one considerable ingredient of godly sorrow, and the thoughts of it, are as suitable to the affecting of our hearts with humiliation, and indignation against sin, as any other whatever.
I might proceed in the like considerations; as also make application of them to the particular effects of the Holy Ghost enumerated; but my design is only to point out the heads of things, and to leave them to the improvement of others.
I shall shut up this whole discourse with some considerations of the sad estate and condition of men not interested in this promise of the Spirit, nor made partakers of his consolation: — 1. They have no true consolation or comfort, be their estate and condition what it will. Are they under affliction or in trouble? — they must bear their own burden; and how much too weak they are for it, if God be pleased to lay on his hand with more weight than ordinary, is easily known. Men may have stoutness of spirit, and put on great resolutions to wrestle with their troubles; but when this is merely from the natural spirit of a man, —
(1.) For the most part it is but an outside. It is done with respect to others, that they may not appear low-spirited or dejected. Their hearts are eaten up and devoured with troubles and anxiety of mind. Their thoughts are perplexed, and they are still striving, but never come to a conquest. Every new trouble, every little alteration in their trials, puts them to new vexation. It is an ungrounded resolution that bears them up, and they are easily shaken.
(2.) What is the best of their resolves and enduring? It is but a contending with God, who has entangled them, — the struggling of a flea under a mountain. Yea, though, on outward considerations and principles, they endeavor after patience and tolerance, yet all is but a contending with God, — a striving to be quiet under that which God has sent on purpose to disturb them. God does not afflict men without the Spirit, to exercise their patience; but to disturb their peace and security. All their arming themselves with patience and resolution, is but to keep the hold that God will cast them out of, or else make them the nearer to ruin. This is the best of their consolation in the time of their trouble.
(3.) If they do promise themselves any thing of the care of God towards them, and relieve themselves thereby, — as they often do, on one account or another, especially when they are driven from other holds, — all their relief is but like the dreaming of an hungry man, who supposeth that he eateth and drinketh, and is refreshed; but when he awaketh, he is empty and disappointed. So are they as to all their relief that they promise to receive from God, and the support which they seem to have from him. When they are awaked at the latter day, and see all things clearly, they will find that God was their enemy, laughing at their calamity, and mocking when their fear was on them.
So is it with them in trouble. Is it any better with them in their prosperity? This, indeed, is often great, and is marvellously described in Scripture, as to their lives, and oftentimes quiet, peaceable end. But have they any true consolation all their days? They eat, drink, sleep, and make merry, and perhaps heap up to themselves; but how little do these things make them to differ from the beasts that perish! Solomon’s advantage, to have the use and know the utmost of these things, much beyond any of the sons of men of our generation, is commonly taken notice of. The account also that he gives of them is known: “They are all vanity and vexation of spirit.” This is their consolation: — a crackling of thorns under the pot, a sudden flash and blaze, that begins but to perish. So that both adversity-and prosperity slayeth them; and whether they are laughing or crying, they are still dying. 2. They have no peace, — no peace with God, nor in their own souls. I know that many of them, upon false bottoms, grounds, and expectations, do make a shift to keep things in some quietness, neither is it my business at present to discover the falseness and unsoundness of it; but this is their state. True and solid peace being an effect of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers (as has been declared), they who are not made partakers of him have no such peace. They may cry, “Peace, peace,” indeed, when sudden destruction is at hand. The principles of their peace (as may be easily evinced) are, darkness or ignorance, treachery of conscience, self-righteousness, and vain hope. To these heads may all the principles of their peace be reduced; and what will these avail them in the day when the Lord shall deal with them? 3. I might say the same concerning their joy and hope; — they are false and perishing. Let them, then, consider this, who have satisfied themselves with a persuasion of their interest in the good things of the gospel, and yet have despised the Spirit of Christ. I know there are many that may pretend to him, and yet are strangers from his grace; but if they perish who in profession use him kindly, and honor him, if he dwell not in them with power, where shall they appear who oppose and affront him? The Scripture tells us, that unless the Spirit of Christ be in us, we are dead, we are reprobates, — we are none of Christ’s. Without him you can have none of those glorious effects of his towards believers before mentioned; and you are so far from inquiring whether he be in you or no, as that you are ready to deride them in whom he is. Are there none who profess the gospel, who have never once seriously inquired whether they are made partakers of the Holy Ghost or no? You that almost account it a ridiculous thing to be put upon any such question, who look on all men as vain pretenders that talk of the Spirit, the Lord awake such men to a sight of their condition before it be too late! If the Spirit dwell not in you, if he be not your Comforter, neither is God your Father, nor the Son your Advocate, nor have you any portion in the gospel. O that God would awake some poor soul to the consideration of this thing, before the neglect and contempt of the Holy Ghost come to that despising of him from which there is no recovery! that the Lord would spread before them all the folly of their hearts, that they may be ashamed and confounded, and do no more presumptuously!