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It was with respect to the sorrows of his disciples, that he was promised under this name; and his work is still to support, cherish, relieve, and comfort the Church, in all trials and distresses; and herein he manifests,
1. His infinite condescension. He is by nature over all, God blessed for ever. It is a condescension in the divine excellency to concern itself in any creature whatever. God humbleth himself to behold the things that are done in Heaven; how much more in submitting to the discharge of the office of Comforter in the behalf of poor worms on earth!
2. His unspeakable love.-The apostle prays for the presence of the Spirit with the Corinthians, under the name of the God of love and peace ;'-and the communication of the whole love of God to us is committed to the Spirit; for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost:'-and hence the same apostle distinctly mentions the love of the Spirit,' joining it with all the effects of the mediation of Christ: I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit.' Rom. xv. 30-all that love which he exercises and communicates to you. It is of great use to us to consider, that there was infinite love in the susception of this office by the Spirit: and it is evident from the nature of the work itself; for the consolation of the afflicted is an immediate effect of love. There is not one drop of comfort or spiritual refreshment administered by the Holy Ghost, but what proceeds from his infinite love.
3. His almighty power.-The apostle proposes this for the support of weak believers: Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.' That Holy Spirit who dwells in them, is greater and more powerful than Satan, who attempts their ruin. Who can declare the dejections, fears, and discouragements that believers are obnoxious to nothing but Omnipotence itself is suited to obviate them. If we take a view of the condition of the Church in itself, and in the world, how weak is the faith of most believers! How great their fears! How many their discouragements! How many are the temptations, calamities, and persecutions with which they are exercised! It is evident, then, how necessary it was that their consolation should be entrusted with him who possesses infinite power.
Of the Inhabitation of the Spirit.
HE first thing for which the Comforter is promised This we ought firmly to believe, though we cannot fully conceive the manner of it. There are very many promises in the Old Testament, that God would give the Holy Spi rit in and by virtue of the new covenant. We are also directed to pray for the Holy Spirit, and are assured that God will give him to them that ask of him in a due manner: and I suppose there is no petition in which believers are more earnest or frequent than in this. This inhabitation is that which Christ directed his disciples to expect in the promise of him: 'He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.' John xiv. 17. So it is expressly affirmed of all them who are partakers of this promise, Rom. viii. 9.
Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you;' (verse 11) 'If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you.'
This is the spring of his gracious operations in us. The water that Christ gives us, is in us a well of water springing up to everlasting life. John iv. 14. The water is the Holy Spirit, and this is in us; it abides or dwells in those to whom it is given. It is a well, a living fountain, which cannot be spoken of any gracious habit whatever. All gracious habits are effects of the operation of the Spirit, but not the well itself; and, as it is natural and easy for a spring to bubble up, so it belongs to the consolation of believers to know how easy it is to the Holy Spirit, how ready he is, on account of his gracious inhabitation, to carry on the work of grace, holiness, and sanctification in them.
This is the hidden spring and cause of that inexpressible distance and difference that there is between believers and the rest of the world, Our life is hid with Christ in God.' A blessed life believers have while here; dead to the world, and as dead in the world: a life that will issue in eternal glory but nothing of this appears to the eyes of men. True, saith the apostle, for it is hid with Christ in God.' It is hid in its causes, nature, operations, and means of preservation. But by this hidden life they are differenced
in the perishing world; and if men will not allow that
there is such a difference between them in this world, they will be forced to own it at the last day, when the sentences of Come, ye blessed,' and 'Go, ye cursed,' shall be openly denounced. There is a difference in their works, which, indeed, ought to be far greater than it is; but there is a greater difference in the internal habitual grace, whereby the minds of believers are transformed initially into the image of God:-but these things will not bear the weight of this inconceivable distance; it depends principally on the inhabitation of the Spirit. The great difference between the two houses that Solomon built was, that God dwelt in the one, and he himself in the other. Though any two houses, as to their outward fabric, make the same appearance, yet, if the King dwell in the one, and a robber in the other, the one may be a palace, and the other a den. On this inhabitation of the Spirit, therefore, all the privileges of believers, and all their superiority over the men of the world, depend.
Of the Unction of the Spirit.
ELIEVERS are said to be anointed, or to have
20: and it is added, verse 27. The anointing which ye have received abideth in you; and the same anointing teacheth you all things.'
To understand this we may observe, that all persons and things which were dedicated to God under the Old Testament, were anointed with material oil. Kings, priests, and prophets; the sanctuary, the altar, and all the utensils of divine worship, were anointed: and all these were typical of what was to come; and had their first, proper, and full accomplishment in the person of Jesus Christ :and because he was to be the most holy, the spring and cause of all holiness in others, he had his name from hence; for MESSIAH in the Old Testament, and CHRIST in the New, are as much as the ANOINTED ONE. The unction of Christ consisted principally in the full communication of the Spirit unto him, not by measure, in all his graces and gifts.
Believers have their unction immediately from Christ:. - You have an unction from the Holy One; and it com
sists in the communication of the Holy Spirit unto them. It is not the Spirit who anoints us; but he is the unction wherewith we are anointed by the Holy One; and there are two effects ascribed to it. The first is teaching, with a saving, permanent knowledge of the truth thereby produced in our minds: You have an unction-and you know all things;'-all the fundamental, essential truths of the gospel; all you need to know, that you may obey God truly, and be saved infallibly. Hence it is called 'the anointing of our eyes with eye-salve, that we may see; and so it answers to that unction of Christ by the Spirit, which made him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.'
To this also may be referred what is said of believers being made kings and priests: for it is an allusion to anointing of such persons of old. Whatever was typical therein, was fully accomplished in the unction of Christ to his office, as a sovereign King, Priest, and Prophet of the Church. Wherefore, by a participation in his unction, they are said to be made kings and priests, or a royal priesthood; for they partake of the same Spirit wherewith he was anointed-whereas therefore these titles denote the dignity of believers in their special relation to God, by this unction they are peculiarly dedicated and consecrated to him.
On this unction depends the stability of all believers. It is said to abide in them, which respects their permanency and establishment in the truth against all seducers; nor will any thing else be sufficient for this purpose. Temptations may come as a storm, which will quickly drive men from their greatest fleshly confidences. Hence oftentimes those who are forwardest to say, Though all men should forsake the truth, yet will not they,-are the forwardest upon trials so to do. Neither will men's skill, or disputing abilities, secure them from being inveigled with fair pretences, or entangled with the cunning sleights of them who lie in wait to deceive. Nor will the best defences of flesh and blood, stand firmly unshaken against powerful allurements on the one hand, and fierce persecutions on the other; but this unction, the apostle assures believers, will not fail; neither shall they fail because of it.
And to this end we may consider (1) The nature of the
teaching which we have by this anointing: The anointing teacheth you.' It is not merely an external, doctrinal teaching; but an internal, effectual operation of the Holy Ghost. He employs indeed the outward means of instruction by the word, and teacheth nothing but what is revealed therein; but he gives us an understanding, that we may know him that is true;' and opens our eyes, that we may clearly and spiritually see the wondrous things that are in the law ;' and there are no teachings like his;-none so abiding, none so effectual. When spiritual things through this anointing are discovered in a spiritual manner, they take an immoveable possession of the minds of men. As God will destroy every oppressing yoke because of the anointing of Christ, so will he break every snare of seduction by the anointing of Christians. So it is promised, that, under the gospel, wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of the times. Nothing will give stability in all seasons, but the wisdom and knowledge which are the effects of this teaching, when God gives us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.
(2.) WHAT it is that he teacheth; and that is all things. So was the promise, that the Spirit should teach us all things,' and 'bring all things to our remembrance that Christ hath said unto us,' and guide us into all truth.' It is not all things' absolutely that is intended, for in this life we know but in part; but all things,' and 'all truth,' with respect to the end of this promise and teaching, namely, the whole life of faith, with joy and consolation thereon, together with such a stability as shall secure believers from all attempts to draw them into error.
(3.) This teaching is always accompanied with the love of that truth wherein we are instructed, and delight in obedience to what it requires; and this is the grand criterion of this unction. Without this, however sublime our notions, however accurate our expressions, yet, as to the power and benefit of religion, we are but as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals: but when this Holy Spirit, in and by his teaching, breathes into our hearts a divine love unto, and complacency in the things we are taught,-when he enables us to taste how gracious the Lord is in them, rendering them sweeter to us than honey