[Table of Contents]
Walter Scott
A Discourse on the Holy Spirit (1831)










      Repent and be immersed, every one of you, in the
name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and
you shall reveive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
ACTS II.      








      Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.--Acts ii.

      Whom the world cannot receive.--John iv.


      CHRISTIANITY, as developed in the Sacred Oracle, is sustained by three divine missions--the mission of Jesus, the mission of the Apostles, and the mission of the Holy Spirit. Their missions are distinct in regard to their persons, terminations, and designs; and that we may secure all possible advantages in the prosecution of our subject, it is necessary that we respect their distinctions like the leaves of the same book, the fingers of the same hand, or the branches, leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit of the same tree, they are nearly and admirably related nevertheless--individual, identical, and distinct--not one, but three missions, connected like the vine, the branches, and the clusters of grapes.

Of the Persons sent on these Missions.

      For the purpose of more accurately defining this part of our discourse, I would just observe, that, although the Scriptures repeatedly give to Jesus, to the Apostles, and to the Holy Spirit the attitude of missionaries, (i. e. speak of them as persons sent by the Father,) yet they never speak of the Father himself in such style. The Father is said in Scripture to have sent the Son--the Son, the Apostles--and the Holy Spirit to have been sent by both the Father and the Son; but the Father is not said to have been sent by any one. As, therefore, the sender is distinct from the person sent, so the personages employed on these high missions, viz. the Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Apostles, are all distinct from each other.

Of the Terminations of these Missions.

      Every embassy, political and religious, must and does terminate some where: hence we have political embassies to Spain, Portugal, the Court of St. James, St. Cloud, Petersburg, Naples; and religious missions to Japan, the Cape, Hindostan, to the Indies, and to the South Seas. If it be inquired, therefore, in what these divine missions differed from each other, I answer, they had distinct terminations; for while the Lord Jesus was sent personally only to the Jewish nation, and the Apostles to the world, the Holy Spirit was not sent but to the church; and this is the doctrine which we purpose to define, prove, illustrate, and defend in the present discourse. The scion must be engrafted before it partake of the root and fatness of the tree; in other words, we mean to show that the Holy Spirit is given to every one who, becomes a member of the body politic of Christ, but to [3] no one in order to make him a member of that body; that he is given to every one who believes with all his heart, and is baptized; but to no one in order to make him believe and be baptized.

Of the Termination of Christ's Mission.

      It must be remembered also, that for an ambassador to transcend his authority, and to extend the sphere of his negociations beyond its prescribed limits, is wholly incompatible with the grave responsibilities of such a functionary. The ambassador to St. Cloud, if his instructions restrict him to that court, must not, and cannot negotiate with the Court of St. James.

      1. It is so in divine matters also. Jesus being sent only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel"--the Apostles to the world--and the Holy Spirit to the church, we in no instance behold them transcend the bounds of their missions. All is decorous here--nothing out of keeping in the modus of these high functionaries. Jesus did not conceive it in accordance with the solemn reverence which on every occasion he discovered for the Father, to overleap the bounds of Canaan and preach to the Gentiles; he would not permit this even in his disciples while they aided him in the duties of his personal mission. His instructions to them in regard to this matter are couched in the most intelligible language: "Go not," said he, "into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Of the Termination of the Apostles' Mission.

      2. It was said to the Apostles, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." We do not, therefore, read that these illustrious ministers, who alone enjoyed the distinction of being Christ's ambassadors to the nations, ever addressed to angels or to demons the word of salvation. Their mission, indeed, was glorious and extensive, but it was limited to the sons of men; and, like their great Master, they discovered no desire to transcend the limits to which in their instructions he had restricted them.

Termination of the Spirit's Mission.

      3. Concerning the Holy Spirit, the Redeemer said to the Apostles, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not come; but if I go away I will send him to you"--"whom the world cannot receive." There is, therefore, no instance on record in the New Testament of the Holy Spirit transcending the limits of his mission--no instance of his being in a man before faith for the purpose of originating that principle in his sinful soul. The doctrine, then, (alas! the too popular doctrine,) which extends the mission of the Spirit beyond the bounds of the church, and teaches the world, which Jesus says "cannot receive him," to sit and wait for his internal operations in order to produce faith, is monstrously absurd and impious: absurd, because he is not sent to worldly men--impious, because it makes the Holy Spirit to transgress by over-reaching the bounds of his embassy; also, it causes him to give the lie to Jesus instead of to glorify him; for the moment the Spirit enters the bosom of the world [4] to produce faith, repentance, or any thing else, that moment is Jesus at fault when he says, (John xiv. 17.) "whom the world cannot receive." Jesus said, "When he is come he will glorify me." Would it glorify the Redeemer's character, in the public estimation, to make him a liar, as the Spirit certainly would, were he, according to the maxims of modern theology, to be received by the world for the purpose of originating either faith or repentance? Let ministers consider this; let christians consider this.

      That those who obey the gospel, (i. e. believe, repent, and are baptized,) do and must receive the Holy Spirit, is made certain by a "thus says the Lord;" but that we can neither believe nor obey the gospel, is wholly human. Judge for yourself, reader, whether such of us as hold the office of public instructers are not chargeable with either ignorance or pride, when we refuse to speak the great things of salvation in the "sound words" of the New Testament, and cry out, with brazen insolence, that man cannot obey the gospel on the testimony of the Holy Scriptures without the special operation of the Spirit, when the Lord God Almighty has caused it to be written on the page of his never-dying word, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

      Jesus, then, was a missionary to the Jewish nation--the Apostles, to all nations--and the Holy Spirit to the church; and their respective embassies terminated accordingly--the blade, the ear, the full corn in the ear.

Designs of the Three Missions.

      We shall now introduce certain scriptures, in which are set forth the ends, designs, or purposes for which these missions have been instituted:--

Design of Christ's Mission.

      1. Jesus, in the synagogue at Nazareth, declares the purposes of his divine mission in the following inimitable words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captive, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Jesus was the root and offspring of David--the strength and beauty of his ancient, religious, and royal family, sent to bless the nation of Israel through the gospel.

Design of the Apostles' Mission.

      2. The purposes for which the Apostles were sent missionaries to all nations, are stated thus: "Go ye into all the world; preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall he saved; and he that believeth not shall be condemned." Again, more fully: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth; go ye, therefore, teach" (i. e. disciple) "all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching then to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo! I am with you even unto the end of the world, Amen!" [5]

      3. The designs of the Spirit's mission to the church are conceived in the following scriptures:--"When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth which proceedeth from the Father, he will testify of me." "He will guide you into all the truth." "He shall abide with you forever." ""He will reprove" (i. e. convince) "the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment?' Take notice: "Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father; and of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged." "He will glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you:" "all that the Father hath is mine," &c. &c. Thus Jesus gives to the Holy Spirit the attitude of a missionary, to come from heaven for the threefold design of comforting the disciples, convincing the world, and of glorifying Jesus; and as this is the day of missions, the day when missionaries are running to and fro in the earth, and increasing knowledge, we conceive ourselves fortunate in having it in our power to present this important subject to the reader under so popular an aspect.

      May not the designs of the three divine missions, then, be stated thus:--1. The designs of Christ's mission to the Jews were to preach the gospel to them, and to teach so many of them as believed it. 2. The designs of the mission of the Apostles to all nations, were, to preach the gospel and to teach so many of them as actually believed it; while, 3dly. the designs of the Spirit's mission to the church were to glorify Jesus, convince the world, and comfort the disciples.

      The Spirit's mission, then, is briefly comprehended in the three terms glorify, convince, comfort.

      And this last mission differs obviously and materially from the mission of Jesus; for it was no part of his embassy to glorify himself. "I seek not my own glory," said the Redeemer. The Spirit was to glorify him. "He will glorify me."

      The mission of the Spirit differed also from that of the Apostles in this very nice, yet important respect--that while they were to preach, the Holy Spirit was to convince. And mark me, reader, there is a very significant difference between the two offices of teaching and convincing. It is one thing to preach a matter to the world as divine, and it is another to convince the world that it really is divine. Preaching and convincing are two distinct words; and be assured, reader, they stand for two distinct things. Assuredly they do! The first belonged to the Apostles--the last to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is never said to preach, and the Apostles are never said to convince but by the demonstration of the Spirit and power, a phrase which will be explained afterwards. Thus the third mission is shown to differ materially from the first two in regard to person, termination, and design.

Of the Spirit's Mission in Particular.

      At the advent of Messiah, the world, in regard to religion, was divided into Jews and Gentiles. When the church appeared as a third party, she came forth from between the former two like a ship from between a rock and a whirlpool. Danger menaced her on every side, [6] and it became indispensable that those by whom she was to be steered should be filled with the Spirit of him who launched her on the stormy ocean of time. Accordingly "the Holy, Spirit was sent down from heaven."

      But as no embassy can be instituted with immediate reference to any establishment, political or religious, until that establishment is first brought into existence; as no tent nor temple can be occupied until it is reared; and no body can receive a spirit until it has been previously organized; for God first made Adam, and afterwards breathed into him the breath of life; so the Spirit of Christ could not come to the church unless that church had been first formed.

      It becomes important, then, to determine with accuracy the precise date of the Church of Christ. Every institution, civil, political, and religious--every establishment of peace or of war--of arts or arms--is based upon some prime, some fundamental maxim. The American Republic, for instance, stands on this maxim, that "all men are born free and equal;" and into this the whole superstructure of law and government may be resolved. If the foundation is sure, the building will stand, if the materials are in accordance with the foundation; if it be false or inferior, it must give way to the pressure of time, and the superstructure be destroyed together with the foundation. This maxim on which our Republic is reared, is, I believe, neither naturally, politically, nor practically true; and therefore the citizens may look out for revolution and change. But if it is true, we do not act upon it; if it is false, it will sooner or later be discarded from our political creed.

      But it is on christianity we are writing. Now, then, our holy religion, when contemplated as a unique and distinct institution, resolves ultimately itself into this fact, and is based upon it, viz. "Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God." If this be false, christianity is false; if this be true, christianity must prevail, and earth and hell in vain assail it; for great is truth and mighty above all things, and must prevail, "Upon this rock," said Jesus to Peter when he publicly confessed this truth--"Upon this Rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It was for confessing this truth that Jesus was condemned by the Jewish Sanhedrim--he died for this, and was the first martyr for it. The Apostles died for confessing this--men were pardoned of God for confessing it--and congregations which held it were styled the churches of Christ, whether they were in order or no; whether they had ordinances, oracles, or officer, or no; and it is on the confession of this fact that the church, within these few years, has begun, according to the ancient gospel, again to admit sinners to baptism for the remission of their sins. Glory to God and to Jesus Christ!

      Besides this, that Jesus is the Son of God, there are many great and invaluable truths in christianity--such as that he died for sinners; that he is now in heaven; that there will be a resurrection of the just and unjust, and a general judgment. But mark, reader, that while for the revelation of these and other things God has employed Prophets, [7] Evangelists, Apostles, and his Son Jesus Christ; yet the great fact on which the church is based, viz. that Jesus is his Son, was not left to flesh and blood to make known, but God the rather revealed it publicly himself at Jordan to the nation of the Jews assembled there, when on that famous day the heavens opened over the head of the baptized Jesus, and the Spirit from the Eternity beyond was seen descending like a dove and remaining on him, accompanied with this greatest and most wonderful of all the revelations of God, "Behold my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased!" "Flesh and blood," said the Lord on one occasion to Peter, "has not revealed this to thee, but my Father who is in heaven." The great fact on which the church is reared was made known to the sons of men, then, by God himself; and when he made it known, in doing it he proposed Jesus as the first person of a new institution--the chief foundation stone of a new religious building, temple, tabernacle--"Behold my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."

      The church is contemplated under various figures in the Holy Scriptures--as a sheepfold, a nation, a priesthood, a temple--"Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you." But the temple was built before the glory of God filled it, and the origin of the christian church must be dated anterior to the day when it was filled with the Spirit of God--the day of Pentecost. Some date the origin of the church in eternity; some, at the beginning of the world; others say the law was as much the church of Christ as the gospel; and others, that it began at the resurrection of Jesus. To use the Apostle's figure we would say, that the first stone of the christian temple was laid by God--"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone," &c. and that it was laid on the day when he said, "Behold my beloved Son." Peter alludes to this when he says to the rulers, "This is the stone which you builders rejected, which is now become the head of the corner." Those who believed on Jesus as the promised Messiah, however, had no reason to be ashamed of him; for though the Rulers and Doctors refused him as the commencement of a new economy--though their religious builders rejected him as the foundation stone, God took him to himself, and laid him up in heaven to become the cap-stone, the head of the corner; and when the christian edifice is about to be finished he shall he brought forth with shoutings, crying, "Grace! grace!" for, like Zerubabel of old, God has laid the foundation of this house, and his hand also shall finish it. It is wonderful that a stone should be at the same time both the first and the last in any building--the foundation stone and the head of the corner! "This is the doing of the Lord," said the Psalmist, "and it is marvellous in our eyes." Thus is Jesus, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending of christianity. God, then, laid Jesus; Jesus laid Peter; and Peter and his fellow-Apostles laid Jews and Gentiles living stones upon this great foundation. Hallelujah! According to this figure christianity commenced when Christ made his first appearance, and it will be finished when he makes his second, and comes to be the last stone in this temple; but according to another [8] figure, viz, that of a bride or wife, the church of Christ was not separated from Judaism until the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came, as will be seen immediately.

      Some ask whether John the Baptist did not make christians; and others seem to think it very problematical whether Jesus did not make Baptists for John. Now we think with the Scriptures, that all these three personages were at different times sent by the Father--their disciples were under God respectively their own. Hence we hear the Scriptures speak of Moses' disciples, John's disciples, and Jesus' disciples; and when John and Moses' disciples would become christians, they had to be baptized over again in the name of Jesus Christ. [See Acts xix.] As, therefore, the Jews became ostensibly the disciples of Moses when they were all immersed into him in the cloud and in the sea, and as the descendants of these Jews became the disciples of John when they were baptized of him in Jordan, so the disciples of John and of Moses became ostensibly the disciples of Jesus when they were baptized by him; and as the disciples of Moses were the church of Moses, so the disciples of Jesus were the church of Jesus: consequently the church of Christ was formed by himself when he began to make disciples; and having formed her while alive--having brought his bride into existence, "he loved her," the Scriptures say, "and gave himself for her that he might sanctify her," (separate her from Jews and Gentiles,) "having cleansed her with a bath of water and with the word." He, therefore, addressed his disciples after baptism, and before he laid down his life for them, in these memorable words: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." Having washed his bride with water, and bought her with his blood, he arose to separate her from all former and subsequent institutions, whether religious or political, whether Jews or Gentiles: and this he did effectually by sending down from heaven the Holy Spirit in such marvellous abundance, that "of the rest (whether Jews or proselyted Gentiles who looked at the new institution) "durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified them." This is the true meaning of the word "sanctification," viz: separation by the Spirit. But every establishment must rest upon some foundation; God, therefore, laid Jesus as the foundation of the christian building; and he is a rock truly. The first person, then, baptized by Jesus, was the first stone laid on this well tried rock. Now that first person was most probably Simon son of Jonas, and for this called by Jesus Peter, (or stone.)

      The church of Christ, then, was formed by himself before ever he left this world; and previous to the day of Pentecost "the number of the names together were about one hundred and twenty;" all those, no yet having received the Spirit, continued with one accord in prayer and supplication for seven days, until the day of Pentecost. But as there was a day on which Jesus entered upon his personal ministry among the Jews--as there was a day when the Apostles entered upon their mission to the world--so there was a day when the Spirit came to the church. That day was Pentecost. Accordingly it is written, [9] Acts ii. "And when the clay of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place; and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit," &c.

      May I entreat the reader to pause a little over this magnificent event? "A sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind," shaking the house and filling the disciples with the Holy Spirit!

      Here, then, we have the descent of the great spiritual missionary into the body of Christ, the church; from which moment he has never left it, and never can leave it; for while the personal mission of Jesus to the Jews, and that of the Apostles to the world, were only temporary, the mission of the Spirit into the body of Christ is an eternal matter--even death cannot annul it. "For if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you," says Paul, "he that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." "He shall abide with you forever." If it be asked why there is no instance of supplication, deprecation, thanksgiving, prayer, or praise being offered to the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, I answer that the Holy Spirit being in the church, all saints are represented as offering these spiritual sacrifices to God, through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit which dwells in them. Hence the Spirit sheds abroad love in our hearts, groans, helps our infirmities, and makes intercession for the saints. The word monitor is a better word for the Greek paracletos than "Comforter;" and the gifts of goodness, as we have styled them, may, with equal, if not more propriety, be called the monitions of the Monitor or Spirit. But the best word, because it is the scriptural one, is fruit. These things are styled the fruit of the Spirit. And when the whole church shall be gathered home, there will be seen in heaven this wonderful spectacle--the church glorified; filled with the Holy Spirit, into which she had been baptized; the Son at her head, by whom she has been redeemed; and God on his throne, by whom she has been glorified.

      The Spirit, then, can do nothing in religion, nothing in christianity, but by the members of the body of Christ. Even the word of God, the Scriptures, have been given by members filled with this Spirit--they spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. But mark, reader, that there is no member of the body of Christ in whom the Holy Spirit dwelleth not; for it will hold as good at the end of the world and in eternity as it does now, (and it holds as good now as it did on the day of Pentecost and afterwards,) that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." If, therefore, the Spirit convinces the world of sin, or glorifies Jesus, it is all through the agency of the members of the body of Christ, whom he fills--the church. Hence the indispensable duty of all disciples being led by the Spirit of God with which they are sealed, and of holding forth in the language of the New Testament the gospel; for where there are no christians, or where [10] christians dont do their duties, there are no conversions, as in Tartary, India, some parts of Europe, &c. But wherever there are christians, christians who hold forth the gospel in the sound words used on Pentecost by the Spirit in the Apostles, there will always be some conversions, more or less.

      But now what have we seen in reference to the particular mission of the Holy Spirit? Why, first, that he was to be sent to the church. 2dly. that Christ then formed the church. And, 3dly. that the Holy Spirit was sent accordingly into this institution on the day of Pentecost.

      The church is sixteen times spoken of under the figure of a body, the human body; and this analogy is run out at great length by Paul in the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians:--"Now, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were heathens, led away to idols that are dumb, even as you happened to be led. Wherefore I inform you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God, pronounceth Jesus accursed: and that no one can declare Jesus Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. Now, there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. And there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of in-workings, but it is the same God who worketh inwardly all in all. And to each is given this manifestation of the Spirit, for the advantage of all. Now, to one indeed, through the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit. And to another, faith by the same Spirit; and to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; and to another the in-workings of powers; and to another, prophecy; and to another, discerning spirits; and to another, divers kinds of foreign tongues; and to another, the interpretation of foreign tongues. Now all these the one and the same Spirit in-worketh, distributing to each his proper gifts as he pleaseth. For as the body is one, although it have many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For, indeed, in one Spirit we all have been immersed into one body, whether Jews or Greeks; whether slaves or freemen; and all have been made to drink of one Spirit. Since, therefore, the body is not one member, but many, if the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it, for this, not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it, for this, not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now God hath placed the members every one of them in the body, as he hath pleased. Besides, if all were one member, where were the body? But now, indeed, there are many members, but one body. Therefore, the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are much more necessary. And those which we think are less honorable members of the body, around them we throw more abundant honor; and so, our uncomely members have more abundant comeliness. [11] But our comely members have no need. However, God hath tempered the body together, having given to the member which wanteth it more abundant honor; that there may be no schism in the body, but that the members may have the very same anxious care one for another. And so whether one member suffer, all the members jointly suffer; or one member be honored, all the members jointly rejoice. Now you are the body of Christ and members in part. Therefore, these indeed God hath placed in the congregation; first, apostles: secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; next, powers; then, gifts of healing; helpers, directors, kinds of foreign languages. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Have all powers? Have all the gift of healing? Do all speak in foreign languages? Do all interpret? Now you earnestly desire the best gifts, but yet I show you a more excellent way." From this analogy we learn that it is in religion as it is in nature. As the human spirit gives to each member of its body all its powers--strength to the arm--skill to the hand--eloquence to the lip, and heaven to the eye; so the Holy Spirit gives to each member of Christ's church or body severally as he wills--pleases.

      On this analogy a number of important inquiries may be instituted--as, 1st. Has the Spirit which was sent down from heaven on the day of Pentecost ever left this body? No; never. A human body without the Spirit is dead; and Christ's body (the church) without the Spirit in her would be dead also. He shall abide with you forever.

      Again: Can he be in any person that is not of this body? No, he dwells in the saints; and as well might we hope for a man's spirit to occupy a space beyond his person, as for the Spirit of Christ to be found beyond his body--the church. The Spirit of A cannot enter the body of B; neither can the Spirit of Christ enter the body of a worldly man--"whom the world cannot receive," says Jesus.

      How does the Spirit of Christ operate? As our spirits operate in our bodies and by their members, so the Spirit of Christ operates in the body of Christ and by its members. Hence the truth of our former observation, that the Spirit can do nothing in christianity but by christians. Therefore, christians, do your duty, or you will either quench or grieve the Holy Spirit of God, as many, alas! have done, and are now doing at this day by their love of this world and by their prejudices. Alas! if disciples grieve the Comforter, who shall comfort them? Alas! that disciples should quench the Holy Spirit by their lusts and worldly emulations. If the fire is once extinguished, who shall kindle it again? If the salt has lost its savor, wherewithal shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.

      Finally, how may a man possess himself of the Spirit of Christ? God has appointed a means for communicating every blessing in nature and in religion. He gives us fruit from the tree; water from the fountain; corn from the soil; and wines from the grape. Join yourself, then, to the body of Christ, and you will receive the Spirit of Christ. How am I to do this? If you believe in Christ, and think [12] that God means what he says, I would venture to quote my text as an infallible direction in order to get the Spirit: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Does this please you? Then obey God. Disobey him, and you are lost.

Of Comforting the Disciples.

      But now to approach the mission of the Spirit more closely. The purposes of it are in a summary way comprehended in three words--comfort, glorify, convince. We shall show, then, that first he comforted the disciples by bestowing upon them gifts--gifts of wisdom, power, and goodness. When we were all very young in the knowledge of the Scriptures, much confused about what was right and wrong in christianity, about nine years ago, and some time anterior to that most illustrious matter, "the Restoration of the Ancient Gospel," a famous division of the spiritual gifts suggested itself to me, which very much relieved my mind on the subject of the Holy Spirit; for at that time a number of disciples in New York had ceased to believe that the Spirit originally from heaven was any longer in the church. They were the most affectionate people I ever saw. The division alluded to is this: all the gifts by which the Spirit comforted the church might, I perceived, be classed under the three general heads of power, wisdom, and goodness: so that, as a human spirit endows the head with wisdom, the heart with goodness, and the hand with power; so the Spirit filled the body of Christ with these things in order that all the world might be allured or compelled to become christians. And surely this was a most apt plan for comforting the disciples in the church.

      To illustrate this division of the gifts, let us arrange a few of them under each head:--

      1. The gifts of wisdom were, discerning of spirits, teaching, prophecy, tongues, interpretation, knowledge, and all those gifts which enabled the Apostles and others to understand the prophecies relative to the Messiah, and to recollect all things which the Saviour had told them on that subject when he showed them in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the things concerning himself.

      2. The gifts of power were those of miracles, healings, signs, wonders, &c. &c.

      3. The gifts of goodness were, love, joy, gentleness, meekness, long suffering, fidelity, &c.

      The Apostle has divided the world into Jews, Gentiles, and the Church: "giving no offence," says he, "to Jew, nor Gentile, nor to the church of God." Now what relation had the three sets of gifts to these three parties, Jews, Gentiles, and the church? Why, in order to render the church all amiable herself, the Holy Spirit poured through the souls of all her members the gifts of goodness, filling them with love, joy, gentleness, meekness, &c. &c. And as the Jews had to be coaxed from the rock on which they had split, and the Gentiles to be snatched from the whirlpool into which they had been plunged, the gifts of wisdom were bestowed in order that the church might [13] win the first, and the gifts of power that she might compel the last; and thus the gospel gave an exhibition of the wisdom of God and the power of God to every one who believed, whether Jew or Gentile. The gifts of wisdom, then, were given to convince the Jews, and the gifts of power to convince the Gentiles; while the gifts of goodness were given an endless and abiding ornament to the church.

      The purposes for which the gifts of wisdom and power were given being now accomplished, the Holy Spirit which dwells in the christians will give no further exhibitions of his wisdom and power until he raises them from the dead. Jews and Gentiles have received the Scriptures, and if the world will not believe them they would not believe in Christ if a man arose from the dead.

      What comforted them? What unbounded comfort must it have yielded to the disciples to have their testimony concerning their beloved Saviour confirmed in the presence of Jews and Gentiles--by both the power of God and the wisdom of God: and to see both parties either won or compelled to bow to the peaceful sway of the Messiah!

Of Convincing the World.

      The Spirit was to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

Of Convincing the World of Sin.

      At the coming of Christ, sin and righteousness (i. e. good and evil) were wholly confounded in the Jewish nation; so that the tithing of mint, anise, and cummin, was substituted for the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and the love of God. The Sadducees, comprehending the wealthy and the great in the nation, denied the resurrection, and of course were wholly uninfluenced by the higher considerations of a final judgment. And as to the Pharisees they were so filled with religious pride, that they did not conceive themselves chargeable with sin, even in the presence of the Almighty, as may be seen from the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.

      Now to convince a people of sin, who did not know it from righteousness, who did not know good from evil, who had confounded light and darkness, had put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter--must have been a very hard task it must be granted. Where then, reader, was the Spirit to begin? Where was to be the starting point? Where would you have begun? Where would you have started? At Adam--at the Law--at John--or where? Until you have made at least one conjecture on this matter, pray stop; try your skill in the learning of the New Testament. How would you have convinced the Jews of sin at this crisis?

      There was one thing on which the whole nation were agreed, both Pharisees and Sadducees. All parties concurred, all sects were unanimous in this--that the ancient Scriptures promised a Messiah. Now, then, if the Holy Spirit in the Apostles proved by the ancient Scriptures, and by gifts of power, &c. that Jesus of Nazareth was the very identical person for whom they looked, then he at the same time convinced them of sin for not having believed on him; and this was [14] just what the Spirit did, and also what he was to do when he came: "He shall convince the world of sin, because they believe not on me," said Jesus.

      On the day of Pentecost all the Apostles were accordingly filled with all the gifts of wisdom, in order that by suitable arguments drawn from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the Jewish nation, who believed in these oracles as divine, might be convinced that Jesus whom they had crucified was the Messiah. This was the means used by the Holy Spirit for convincing the Jews of sin in not believing on Jesus, he having said during his public ministry that if they would not believe Moses and the Prophets they would not believe if one arose from the dead. After quoting from the Law and the Psalms, Peter cried out, "Let all the house of Israel know, therefore, that God has made that Jesus whom you have crucified both the Lord and the Christ."

      The proof drawn from the ancient Scriptures relative to the conception, birthplace, life, trial, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, is, with great elegance, styled "the demonstration of the Spirit;" and Paul calls it this because, like a skillful geometrician, who first states his proposition, and afterwards proceeds step by step in the proof of it, from its simplest to its most involved properties, from its immediate to its most remote relations, until all its powers are fully developed; so the Holy Spirit speaking in the Apostles, first sets down the great proposition revealed at Jordan to the Jews, (viz. that Jesus was the Christ,) and then proceeded step by step in the proof of it, unfolding its simplest and most complex relations--its immediate and remote relations, until by the most ancient and involved, and the latest and clearest of the Jewish Prophecies, in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, he proved that, in regard to his conception, birth, life, ministry, poverty, character, descent, trial, condemnation, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and reign, Jesus of Nazareth was the very person promised to the nation; and we have only to make a reference to the Apostles in the Acts to see how perfectly these remarks harmonize with the word of God. Acts ii. Three thousand on the day of Pentecost were convinced of sin, confessed Christ, and were baptized for the remission of sins that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To convince a person of a fault we first prove him guilty. The Spirit first shewed that Jesus was Messiah, and then proved them guilty by calling it to their recollection that they had murdered him. This cut them to the heart, and they cried, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Peter gave then a certain and a celebrated answer: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      But, reader, is there any thing in all this like the Spirit entering the souls of these sinners in order to produce faith, repentance, or any thing else? Not a semblance of such a thing! The Spirit was in the Apostles, who spoke as he gave them utterance. The Devil was in the people. [15] In all subsequent addresses Peter and all others proceeded in the same manner, reasoning from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, great additions in this way being made to the church. Stephen cut the members of the Sanhedrim to the heart; and all the Jews and proselytes, such as the Eunuch, Cornelius, Lydia, &c. were in this way convinced of the truth; Samaritans and Idolators were convinced chiefly by miracles, because they knew but little, and many of them nothing at all of the ancient Scriptures. The miracles, signs, wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, were called the powers of the Spirit of God, and conferred on the church for the purpose of converting the nations; concerning which the Apostle speaks thus: "I will not dare to speak of any thing which Christ has not wrought, but of what he eras wrought by me in order to the obedience of the Gentiles, in word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, and by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about as far as Illyricum, I have fully declared the gospel of Christ." The word of God is the great organ of conversion in the hand of the Spirit, whether he stir up a Prophet, an Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr, or Saint to declare it--now or formerly.

Of Convincing the World of Righteousness.

      But the Spirit was also to convince the world of righteousness. How was this to be done? Why, as the Jews had condemned Jesus as wicked, it was only necessary to show the contrary in order to convince them of righteousness. Christ is therefore said to be justified by the Spirit; i. e. the Spirit by descending upon his disciples, and bestowing upon them the gifts of power, wisdom, and goodness, justified both the pretensions and righteous character and life of Messiah, proving to his murderers in this manner that he had gone to the Father "Of righteousness because I go to the Father."

      The Evangelists tell us that this same personage was the son of a poor but pious female, born in a stable, and at a moment too when she was exhausted by a long and fatiguing journey; accordingly he was cradled in a manger until the king of the country obliged his guardians to seek for safety in a flight by night to Egypt. On his return misfortune still seemed to pursue him, and the family were compelled to pass their native canton and seek a wretched security in the tribe of Zebulon. At the ago of 30 he preferred his claims to the Messiahship, i. e. to be "the Son of God." His pretensions were immediately rejected, and his fellow-citizens rose en masse and drove him from the city. From this time he prosecuted his public ministry without a place to repose his head. His own tribes did not receive him; his own brethren did not believe him; the people who listened pronounced him mad; and the Priests declared him possessed. He more than twice escaped being stoned, and was once actually scourged publicly. He was the declared friend of sinners, and so excessively poor that when he wanted to see Cesar's head he had to borrow a penny. Thus he lived poor, insulted, and wronged, until his familiar friend betrayed him for the paltry sum of thirty shillings; at which time he was seized in a garden by a banditti of soldiers in the dark [16] and accused of sedition and blasphemy before the National Senate. The petty officers of the Court smote him on the cheek. Before the Roman tribunal all these indignities were repeated. They dressed him like a puppet, spit in his face, and struck him with the palms of their hands; he was adjudged to be crucified, and departed, bearing his cross; he was nailed to it, scoffed at, and a ruffian soldier pierced his side with a spear. Thus he lived without a place to repose his head in life, and. thus he died without a grave to hide his murdered form in death. But God approved him the Holy and the Just One, and took him to himself in heaven.

Glory be to God who gave us,
Freely gave, his Son to save us!
      Glory to the Son who came
Honor, blessing, adoration,
Ever, from the whole creation,
      Be to God and to the Lamb!


      Finally, the Spirit was to convince the world of judgment--"Of judgment because the Prince of this world is judged."

      The famous Cruden observes, "By collecting all the passages where Satan or the Devil is mentioned, it may be observed that he tell from heaven with all his company; that God cast him down from thence for the punishment of his pride; that, by his envy and malice, sin, death, and all other evils came into this world; that, by the permission of God, he exercises a kind of government in this world over his subordinates--over apostate angels like himself. But God makes use of him to prove good men and chastise bad ones; that he is a lying spirit in the mouth of false prophets, seducers, and heretics; that it is he, or some of his, who torment and possess men, that inspire them with evil designs as he did David when he suggested to him to number the people; to Judas to betray his Lord and Master, and to Ananias and Sapphira to conceal the price of their field; that he was full of rage like a roaring lion, to tempt, to betray, to destroy, and to involve us in guilt and wickedness; that his power and malice are restrained within certain limits, and controlled by the will of God. In a word, that he is the enemy of God and man, and uses his utmost endeavors to rob God of his glory and men of their souls." When Christ was raised from the dead and exalted to the throne of the world, it was fairly shown that Satan's reign, though long, was nevertheless temporary. So much for convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Of glorifying Jesus.

      The third part of the Spirit's mission was to glorify Jesus. We shall show the reader how this was done. The Jews had crucified him because they did not believe him to be the Son of God. When the Spirit came he showed the reverse of their decision; viz. that he was the Son of God. By reasoning from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, to the life, descent, doctrine, character, death, burial, [17] and resurrection of Messiah, he fairly proved this proposition; and after it was established he so explained and illustrated it as to let the disciples understand perfectly that Jesus was the Son of God in the same strict sense in which we are the sons of our respective parents; and, finally, that he was officially the Prophet, Priest, and King of the human kind.

Of the Natural Character of Messiah.

      This is a sublime part of our subject; but however grand, I can only give an outline of it here--I can only submit a sketch of the glorious picture, and leave to more able hands to perfect what I have begun.

      Previous to the resurrection of Jesus his disciples seem to have entertained no adequate apprehensions of the dignity of his nature: "Have I been so long with thee, Philip, and thou hast not known me?" "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." They did not apprehend him a sacrifice for the world, neither did they understand it to be his destiny to arise from the dead: "As yet," says John, "his disciples knew not that he must arise from the dead." But when the Spirit came he led them into all the truth on this subject. He took of the things which were Christ's, and showed them to them, and acquainted them with all those parts of the ancient Scriptures which related to his origin, destiny, glory, and natural and official characters. "He shall take of mine, and show it unto you."

      Who would have supposed that the poor fishermen (one of whom betrayed him, another of whom denied him, and all of whom forsook him in his greatest need) would ever have attained to such extended and sublime views of his natural excellency as to have exclaimed, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by it, and without it was not any thing made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Thus speaking of him as a partaker of all the glorious attributes of his Father, the true and living God: "All that the Father hath is mine." Some admire that Jesus should at any time be called "God;" but it should be remembered that this is his Father's name, and per consequence it is his name also; for every son inherits, of necessity, the name of his father. Hence the Apostle reasons for the superior dignity of the Messiah from this very consideration: "Being made," says he, "so much better than angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they; for to which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?" Being Son he became Heir of the Universe, and sat down on the throne of heaven--the brightness of his Father's glory--an impress of his existence; men and angels, nature and religion being subjected to him: "Let all the angels of God worship him."

      In another Scripture it is said, "He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature; for by him were all things made that are in heaven and in earth, whether they he thrones, principalities, or powers, whether visible or invisible, all things were made by him and for him; and he is anterior to all things, and by him all things [18] consist--the head of the body--the first born from the dead--that in all things he might have the pre-eminence; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." He is therefore called "God's dear son," "God's beloved son," "God's only begotten son." "God's holy child;" in short, the New Testament lets us see that the Spirit gave the Apostles to understand that Jesus the Messiah was strictly and properly the Son of God and Mary: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." "God, then, hath sent forth his Son, made of a woman;" and we see that, like every other child, he partakes of the nature of his parents--the infirmities of his mother and the grandeur of his Father; wearied and sitting upon Jacob's well, yet himself the well of salvation; fatigued and sleeping on a pillow in the ship, yet allaying the reluctant storm; living with Mary at Nazareth, yet claiming the temple as his Father's house; ("Wist you not that I must needs be at my Father's;") paying tax for repairing the temple, at the same time letting Peter know that, as the King's Son, he had a right to be exempted in this matter, asking whether the kings of the earth taxed their children, and at the same time looking with the omniscience of his Father through universal nature, and bidding Peter to go to the lake, and take from the mouth of a fish a small piece of money which it had probably picked up from some person who had dropped it in crossing Genesareth; descended from the Father, yet God over all; born himself, yet raising the dead; poor, yet heir of all; calling Mary uniformly his mother, and God as uniformly his Father; suffering, yet capable of ordering twelve legions of angels to his assistance; wearing a crown of thorns; yet himself the King of glory; judged, yet himself the Judge of quick and dead; killed, and at the same time redeeming his murderers; ranked among thieves, yet holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners; dying, rising; in the sepulchre, on the throne of God, and there swaying a sceptre of righteousness over men and angels, who, in one eternal throng, cry, "Riches, and honor, and power, and dominion, and glory to God who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Amen! So much for the humanity and divinity of Messiah's nature.

Of his Official Character.

      The limits of my paper forbid me pursuing this grand subject in detail. The most famous and distinguished officers among the nations are those of Kings, Prophets, and Priests. These dignities are united in the person of the Messiah, who is set forth in Scripture as the greatest of Prophets, the King of kings, and the High Priest of mankind.

      The great evils which have most of all characterized the nations of the earth are, 1st. Ignorance of the divine character. 2d. Sin, the consequence of ignorance. 3d. War, the effect of the combined evils of ignorance and sin. The offices of Christ are instituted in reference to these evils: as a Priest, he takes away our sins; as a Prophet, he enlightens us in the divine character; and as a King, he rules us [19] in peace; he is therefore called "King of Peace," "Prince of Peace," &c.

      The time is coming, then, when all Kings, Priests, and Prophets, shall officiate in their respective offices under and in subjection to the Messiah. We do not, indeed, see this now but we see Jesus exalted for this very purpose: for he must reign until all his enemies are made his footstool. The last enemy, Death, shall be destroyed; and when all shall be subdued to him, then the Son himself alone shall be subject to the Father; and all others, whether men or angels, subject to the Son. The whole creation, then, being subject to the Son, and he to the Father, they will spend an endless eternity in the new heaven and the new earth. "The Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them to fountains of living water, and God the Lord shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Thus we have seen how the Holy Spirit comforted the church, convinced the world, and glorified Jesus.

      Brethren, let us walk in the Spirit, keeping ourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Amen!

Objections Answered.

      If the Holy Spirit does not enter the soul of the sinner, how can he convince him? I answer that God convinces us as we convince one another--by truth and argument. Can the Holy Spirit do nothing for a person unless he enters that person? Did he glorify Christ by entering him, or by enlightening the Apostle on his character? As, then, the Spirit glorified Christ without entering him, so he can convince sinners without entering and dwelling in them. Let preachers, and all who believe, hold forth the word of the Spirit to the people: let them forbear calling it a dead letter, and the Spirit shall soon convince sinners of sin.

      But, secondly, it is objected, "If the Spirit does not go into the souls of sinners, and strive with them, how can they be said to resist the Spirit?" Will the reader allow the God of heaven to answer this objection? Then turn over to Nehemiah, ix. 30: There we are told that the people resisted the Spirit of God, speaking to them by the mouth of the Prophets. The Spirit resisted; was in the Prophet, not in the people. The Spirit of the Devil was in the people.

      3d Objection.--We cannot believe of ourselves! Answer. God does not require you to believe of yourselves. Listen to the Spirit speaking, to you in the mouth of the Apostles and Prophets, and he will afford you abundant evidence by which you can believe, and must believe on Jesus, or be forever condemned. "He that believeth not shall be damned"

      4th, If faith do not come by the Spirit, how does it come? The Apostle says, (Romans x.) "Faith cometh by hearing;" and who are you that dare to say it cometh any other way!

      5th. Do not the Scriptures say that faith is the gift of God? A field of wheat is the gift of God and as God has his own way of bestowing his gifts, both natural and religious, so if we ask how the gift of the [20] Father cometh, the answer is, From the divine will: it cometh by hearing the word of God.

      6th. But if faith cometh by hearing, why have not all faith? The Lord Jesus shows that men are blinded and hardened by seeking and indulging in personal, family, political, and professional distinctions. "How," says he, "can you believe in me, when you seek honor one of another, and seek not the honor which cometh from God only."

      7th. The word is called "the sword of the Spirit;" and must not the Spirit use his own sword? Some swords are called "Spanish blades"--not because Spaniards use them, but because they make them. So the word is called "the sword of the Spirit"--not because he uses it, but because he made it for the saints to use: hence the Apostle, in Ephesians, 5th chapter, bids us take the "sword of the Spirit" that we might defend ourselves with it against our spiritual enemies.

      8th. Is it no where said in Scripture, that the Spirit must convince us of sin? Yes; but we have already seen how he does this: namely, by the word of God, preached--not by going into the souls of sinners.

      9th. Is not a "manifestation of the Spirit given to every man to profit withal?" Yes, to every man not out of the church. This is in the 7th verse of the 12th chapter, 2d Corinthians, and one which is perhaps more abused by some ignorant people than any other supposed to relate to this subject. The Apostle is in that chapter discoursing of church affairs; and to give an air of universality to a saying which has a special reference to men in the church, is most injudicious. According to some people's mode of quoting this Scripture, there is no advantage in being a disciple of Christ; for in their judgment the Holy Spirit is given to Jew, Turk, and even to idolators!

      This is the true state of the case: some of the disciples in the church at Corinth were becoming vain of the high spiritual gifts which they had received when they obeyed the gospel. The Apostle lets them understand that these gifts were given not to bring personal honor to the man that received them, but for the good of the whole church and by the best translators the verse is rendered thus. "A portion of the Spirit is given to every man (disciple) for the profit of the whole (church.)

      10th. "Did not the Lord open Lydia's heart?" Yes, and the Lord opens every heart that is opened at all. But the question here is. How does he open the heart? Does it say that the Lord opened Lydia's heart by the influence of the Holy Spirit? No: then dont you say so, lest God reprove you for adding to his word, and you be found a liar, Lydia was a Jewess, and had met with certain other women on the Sabbath (i. e, our Saturday) to worship God in the place where prayer was wont to be made; and as all present were Jews, the Apostle no doubt went to work with them as he did with other Jews; that is, "he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." This was the very way which the Spirit demonstrated to all Jews [21] that Jesus was the Christ; and this is the way by which the hearts of the Jews were opened to attend to the things spoken by the Apostles.

      11th. "Did not Cornelius receive the Holy Spirit (Acts xvi.) before baptism?" Yes, and his is the only case of believers receiving the Spirit before baptism? But mark you, reader, this is not to the point; for, in order to equal the absurd doctrine of modern times, he should have received the Spirit not only before baptism, but also before faith, and in order to give him faith.

      12th. "Do not the Scriptures say, 'Him (Jesus) hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins." They do; but is there any thing here like sending the Holy Spirit into the hearts of infidels to give them faith and repentance? No! surely no! A vast proportion of the nation denied the resurrection, and of course the judgment. Now as repentance has always reference to motive, and cannot obtain but by motives, it was necessary, in order to bring that wicked people to repentance, to set before them the motives of a general resurrection and a general judgment. This God proved to them would take place by raising Jesus from the dead. By this motive God gave to Israel repentance; and as the legal sacrifices could not take away sin, it was necessary that Jesus should offer himself once for all. By Christ's death, then, God gave Israel remission, and by his resurrection he gave them repentance.

      We now conclude by giving glory to God and to the Lamb, and by entreating all readers, for God's sake and for their own souls' sake, to repent and he baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, that they may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [22]



Analysis of the preceding Discourse.



Missions.     Designs.   Gifts.      
Jesus' Mission, — Jews,  { Preaching,
    { Comforting the Church, { Wisdom,
— Prophecy,
— Love, Joy, &c.
— Miracles,
Holy Spirit's Mission, — Church Convincing the World, { Sin, viz. of unbelief,
— Death of Christ,
— Resurrection,
— Exaltation,
    Glorifying Jesus, { Prophet,
— Ignorance—Light,
— Sin—Righteousness
— War—Peace,
Apostles' Mission, — World,  {  Preaching,



      The Hebrew for Spirit is Rauch; the Greek, Pneuma; and the Latin, Spiritus. The word occurs in the Holy Scriptures about 390 times, in its singular and plural forms, and is used in reference to the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, Angels, Prophets. Christians, &c. It is found in the first verse but one in Genesis, and in almost the last of the Revelations of John.


      The idea of the Holy Spirit being a missionary may seem to savor too much of what is sometimes called the doctrine of the Trinity. Well, reader, what of that? Is he not called the Comforter, and said, like Christ himself, to proceed from the Father? We are all baptized into his name. He distributed gifts according to his own pleasure, comforted the church, convinced all the world, and glorified Jesus. We must not, then, be stumbled at the language of Scripture, however much we abhor the terms found in the vocabularies of modern theology. When God speaks, reason must learn to be silent.


      This idea of a mission affords a new argument altogether against that abominable and paralyzing point in modern divinity--namely, that the world cannot believe the Scriptures but by some special operation of the Holy Spirit. Here it is shown that the mission of the Spirit is to the church and terminates there, and that the world cannot receive him. A man must become a member of Christ's body, i. e. believe, repent, and be baptized, before he can receive the promise of the Spirit. [23] V.--Concerning the designs of the three missions it should be especially remarked, because the errors of the times make it necessary, that it was a special point in the mission of the Spirit to "convince the world of sin because they did not believe." But how could this take place if the world could not believe? As well might we try to convince a blind man of sin because he did not see, or a deaf man because he did hear, &c. to the very end of the chapter of impossibilities.

      VI.--Of the Spirit's mission in particular it ought to be observed, that we should constantly use the language of the New Testament, the sound words of the Holy Scriptures, when treating of this or any other matter in christianity. The following phrases are purely human: "sanctifying," "enlightening," "awakening," &c "influences irresistible and common," and "special operations," "spiritual, physical, and moral powers," influences," &c. It may be observed in regard to these last phrases, that there is no power that is not put forth by some spirit, either created or uncreated; matter itself being inert or dead; but we call the power put forth by a spirit physical when exhibited in matter, as in the human; we call it moral when it appears in the manners of men; and intellectual when it appears in their words. The human spirit exerts its physical power by the hand, its moral powers by the heart, and its intellectual powers by the head. The head, the heart, and the hand, then, contain power, wisdom, goodness. Our examples, too, are our moral power; our precepts are our intellectual power; and our strength is our physical power. And the Apostle prays that these three exhibitions of power in the soul, spirit, and body, may be wholly sanctified, (i. e. made subservient to the great designs of God in the christian religion,) and the body of Christ is all endowed by the Spirit with these three exhibitions of wisdom, goodness, power.

      VII.--If a person would understand the Scriptures on the subject of the Holy Spirit, he must take great heed to his entrance into the christian body on the day of Pentecost. This is the day when the church assumed her public standing as a divine institution; and a curious and fundamental difference between her and the institutions of the law of Moses, is, that persons are filled with his Spirit on becoming members; whereas the Jews might be members of the former institution all their life, and never enjoy the Spirit of God. But in christianity it is said, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Christianity is, therefore, called "the ministration of Spirit."

      VIII.--The use that has been made of the Apostles' analogy is, I hope, strictly proper, and the whole affords a fine argument against the popular error concerning the Spirit, that makes him go into a body that is not his, and bids the world hope to receive him before they become members of the church by faith and immersion. The great intention of this discourse is to inculcate this truth, that the Spirit is given to every one who becomes a member, but to no one in order to make him a member.

      IX.--Is not the word of God, without the Spirit, a dead letter? The body of Christ, without the Spirit of Christ, would be a dead body; but no word, human or divine, can be dead unless we know it to be a lie. Falsehoods are dead words, i. e. they fail to affect us because we know them to be false. The word of God is truth, and therefore is a never-dying thing; "it liveth and abideth forever." The Scriptures say that the letter killeth, and therefore some folks add that the word itself is dead. This is miserable reasoning. If A kill B, is that a proof that A himself is dead? Who ever heard of a dead man killing a living one? If the letter killeth, then it is because it liveth. Hence the word is said to be "quick, i. e. alive. "My words are spirit and they are life," said Jesus. [24]


[The Millennial Harbinger, 2 (1831): 1-24.]

[Table of Contents]
Walter Scott
A Discourse on the Holy Spirit (1831)

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