« PreviousContinue »
(chap. vii. 38, 39.) The light of the Sun of righteousness does not only shine upon them, but is so communicated to them that they shine also, and become little images of that sun which shines upon them. The sap of the true vine is not only con- | veyed into them, as the sap of a tree may be conveyed into a vessel, but is conveyed as sap is from a tree into one of its liv. ing branches, where it becomes a principle of life. The Spirit of God beiog thus communicated and united to the saints, they
ll are from thence properly denominated from it, and are called spiritual
On the other hand, though the Spirit of God may many ways influence natural men; yet because it is is not thus communicated to them, as an indwelling principle, they do not derive any
denomination or character from it; for there being no union, it is not their own. The light may shine upon a body that is very dark or black; and though that body be the subject of the light, yet, because the light becomes no principle of light to it, so as to cause the body to shine, hence that body does not properly receive its denomination from it, so as to be called a lightsome body. So the Spirit of God acting upon the soul only, without communicating itself to be an active princi. ple in it, cannot denominate it spiritual. A body that continues black, may be said not to have light, though the light shines upon it: so natural men are said not to have the Spirit, Jude 19. sensual or natural, as the word is elsewhere rendered, having not the Spirit.
2. Another reason why the saints and their virtues are called spiritual, (and which is the principle thing), is, that the Spirit of God, dwelling as a vital principle in their souls, produces there those effects wherein he exerts and communicates bimself in his own proper nature. Holiness is the nature of the Spirit of God, therefore he is called in scripture the Holy Ghost. Holiness, which is as it were the beauty and sweetness of the divine nature, is as much the proper nature of the Holy Spirit, as heat is the nature of fire, or sweetness was the nature of that boly anointing oil, which was the principal type of the Holy Ghost in the Mosaic dispensation. Yea, I may rather say, that holiness is as much the proper nature of the Holy Ghost, as sweetness was the nature of the sweet odour of that ointment. The Spirit of God so dwells in the hearts of the saints, that he there, as a seed or spring of life, exerts and communicates bimself, in this his sweet and divine nature. He makes the soul a partaker of God's beauty and Christ's joy, so that the VOL. IV.
saint has truly fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, in thus having the communion or participation of the Holy Ghost. The grace which is in the hearts of the the saints, is of the sanie nature with the divine holiness, though infinitely less in degree; as the brightness in a diamond which the sun shines upon, is of the same nature with the brightness of the sun, but only that it is as nothing to it in degree. Therefore Christ says, Jobniji. 6. That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit ; i. e. the grace that is begotten in the hearts of the saints, is something of the same nature with that Spirit, and so is properly called a spiritual nature; after the same mander as that which is born of the flesh is flesh, or that which is born of corrupt nature is corrupt nature.
But the Spirit of God never infuences the minds of natural men after this manner. Though he may influence them many ways, yet he never, in any of his influences, communi. cates himself to them in his own proper nature. Indeed he never acts disagreeably to his nature, either on the minds of saints or sinners: but the Spirit of God may act upon men agreeably to his own nature, and not exert his proper nature in the acts and exercises of their minds. The Spirit of God may act so, that his actions may be agreeable to his nature, and yet may not at all communicate himself in his proper nature, in the effect of that action. Thus, for instance, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and there was nothing disagreeable to his nature in that action; but yet he did not at all communicate himself in that action, there was nothing of the proper nature of the Holy Spirit in that motion of the waters. And so he mav act upon the minds of men many ways, and not communicate himself any more than when he acts on inanimate things.
Thus, not only the manner of the Spirit's relation to the subject of his operations, is different; but the influence and operation itself, and the effect wrought exceeding different. So that not only the persons are called spiritual, as having the Spirit of God dwelling in them; but those qualifications, affections, and experiences that are wrought in them by the Spirit, are also spiritual. Therein they differ vastly in their vature and kind from all that a natural man can be the subject of, while he remains in a natural state, and also from all that of which men or devils can be the authors. It is a spiritual work in this bigh sense; and therefore above all other works is peculiar to the Spirit of God. There is no work so high and excellent; for there is no work wherein God doth so much cominunicate
himself, and wherein the mere creature bath, in so high a sense, a participation of God; so that it is expressed in scripture by the saints being made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. and having God dwelling in them, and they in God, 1 Jobn iv. 12, 15, 16. and chap. iii. 21, and having Christ in theur, John xvii. 21. Rom. viii. 10. being the temples of the living God, 2 Cor. vi. 16. living by Christ's life, Gal. ii. 20. being made par. taker's of God's holiness, Heb. xii. 10. having Christ's love dwelling in them, John xvii. 26. having his joy fulfilled in them, John xyii. 13. seeing light in God's light, and being made to drink of the river of God's pleasures, Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9. having fellowship with God, or communicating and partaking with him, as the word signifies), 1 John i. 3. Not that the saints are made partakers of the essence of Godmor godded with God, and christed with Christ, according to the blasphemous language of some hereties—but, to use the scripture phrase, they are made partaker's of God's fulness, (Eph. ïii. 17.---19. John i. 16.) tbat is, of God's spiritual beauty and happiness, according to the measure and capacity of a creature. So the word fulness signifies in scripture language. Grace in the hearts of the saints being therefore the most glorious work of God, wherein he communicates of the goodness of his nature, it is doubtless bis peculiar work, and in an eminent manner above the power of all creatures. And this is what I mean by those influences that are divine, when I say, that truly gracious affections arise from those infuences that are spiritual and divine.
True saints only have that which is spiritual; others not only have not these communications of the Spirit in so bigh a degree as the saints, but have nothing of that nature or kind. For the apostle James tells us, that nalural men have not in Spirit ; and Christ teaches the necessity of a new birtb, or a being born of the Spirit, from this, that he that is born of the flesh, has anly flesh, and no spirit, John iii. 6. They have not the Spirit of God dwelling in them in any degree; for the apostle teaches, that all who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them are his, Rom. viji. 9.-11. And, having the Spirit of God is spoken of as a certain sign, that persons shall have the eternal inheritance ; for it is the earnest of it, (2 Cor. i. 22. and 9. 5. Eph. i. 14.; and having any thing of the Spirit is mention. ed as a sure sign of being in Christ, 1 John iv, 13. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit. Ungodly men, not only have not so much of the divine nature as the saints, but they are not partakers of it; which implies that they bave nothing of it; for a being partaker of the
divine nature is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the true saints, 2 Pet. i. 4. Ungodly men are not partakers of God's holiness, Heb. xii. 10. A natural man has no experience of those things that are spiritual: he is so far from it, that he knows nothing about them, and is a perfect stranger to them. To talk about such things is all foolishness to him, he knows not what it means, 1 Cor. ii. 14. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. And to the like purpose Christ teaches us that the world is wholly unacquainted with the Spirit of God, John xiv. 17. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. And it is further evident, that natural men have nothing in them of the same nature with the true grace of the saints, because the apostle teaches us, that those of them who go farthest in religion, have no charity, or true christian love, (1 Cor. chap. xiii.) So Christ elsewhere reproves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion, that they had not the love of God in them, John v. 42. Hence natutural men have no communion or fellowship with Christ, or participation with him, as these words signify, for this is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the saints, (1 Johp i. 3, 6, 7. and i Cor. i. 8, 9.) And the scripture speaks of the actual existence of a gracious principle in the soul, though in its first beginning, like a seed planted there, as inconsistent with a man's being a sinner, 1 John iii. 9. And natural men are represented in scripture, as having no spiritual light, no spiritual life, and no spiritual being ; and therefore conversion is often compared to opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, and a work of creation, wherein creatures are made entirely new, and becoming new-born children.
From these things it is evident, that those gracious in. fluences of the saints, and the effects of God's Spirit which they experience, are entirely above nature, and altogether of a different kind from any thing that men find in themselves by the exercise of natural principles. No improvement of those principles that are natural, no advancing or exalting of them to higher degrees, and no kind of composition will ever bring men to thern; because they not only differ from what is natural, and and from every thing that natural men experience, in degree and circumstances, but also in kind; and are of a nature vastle more excellent. And this is what I mean by supernatural, when I say, that gracious affections are from those influences that are supernatural.
From hence it follows, that in those gracious exercises and affections which are wrought in the saints, through the saving influences of the Spirit of God, there is a neiy inward perception or sensation of their minds, entirely different in its nature and kind, from any thing that ever their minds were the subjects of before they were sanctified. For, if God by his mighty power produces something that is new, not only in degree and circumstances, but in in its whole nature and that which could be produced by no exalting, varying, or compounding of what was there before, or by adding any thing of the like kind then, doubtless, something entirely new is felt, or perceived. There is what some metaphysicians call a new simple idea. If grace be, in the sense above described, an entirely new kind of principle; then the exercises of it are also new. And if there be in the soul a new sort of conscious exercises, which the soul knew nothing of before, and which no improvement, composition, or management of what it was before could produce; then it follows that the mind has an entirely new kind of perception or sensation. Here is, as it were, a new spiritual sense, or a principle of new kind of perception or spiritual sensation, which is in its whole nature different from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other senses. And something is perceived by a true saint, in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely diverse from any thing that is perceived in them, by nałural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by only looking on and feeling it.
So that the spiritual perceptions which a sanctified and spiritual person has, are not only diverse from all that natural men have as the perceptions of the same sense may differ one from another, but rather as the ideas and sensations of different senses differ. Hence the work of the Spirit of God in regeneration is often in scripture compared to the giving of a new sense, eyes to see, ears to hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf, opening the eyes of them that were born blind, and turning from darkness unto light. And because this spiritual sense is immensely the most noble and excellent, and that without which all other principles of perception, and all our faculties are useless and vain; therefore the giving of this new sense, with the blessed fruits and effects of it in the soul, is compared to raising the dead, and to a new creation.
This new spiritual sense, and the new dispositions that attend it, are no new faculties, but new principles of nature, I use the word principles, for want of a word of a more deter