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Besides, it is observable, that after Patre the word Filioque was added by the Latin church: and since the Greek church may allege this in their defence, that it is no where in scripture expressly said, that the Spirit proceeds from the Son; this may be further pleaded for them, that in things, the belief of which can have no foundation but the testimony of scripture, it is there safest, precisely and strictly, to adhere to bare scripture-expression.
And thus much briefly concerning the person of the Spirit. The next thing is his employment, represented to us under a double notion.
1. And first of a Comforter. Christ suits his gifts to our exigences and occasions. Nothing so opportune to the sorrowful as a comforter. And as for Christ's disciples, we know that upon the very prediction of his departure, sorrow had filled their hearts. But then, this being actually come to pass, those clouds began to gather over their heads thicker and blacker, and at length to break forth into violence and persecutions: and therefore, under so many discouragements from without, they must needs have sunk, had they not had some supporter within. And their support was to be internal, that so it might be above their adversaries' power to bereave them of; John xvi. 22, Your joy no man taketh from you. It is out of their sight, and therefore out of their reach ; like a fountain lurking in the bowels of the earth, secret, plentiful, and continual.
It is a sad and a poor condition, when there is provision made only for being, not for comfort ; for life, not for refreshment. And therefore in the spiritual, as well as in the natural life, there are sublimer fruitions, as well as bare sustenance. For such is the
nature of man, that it requires lucid intervals ; and the vigour of the mind would flag and decay, should it always jog on at the rate of a common enjoyment, without being sometimes quickened and exalted with the vicissitude of some more refined pleasures.
But what kind of comfort is this, that the Spirit of God conveys to believers? Why, it is very strange and peculiar, but most significantly set forth in that place, in Mark x. 29, 30, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions ; and in the world to come eternal life. What! receive all these things with persecution, when it cannot be persecution, unless it deprive us of all these? Why, yes; God will give us the comfort of these things, even without the enjoyment of them. He can extract the spirit of these things from their bulk, and convey it single without the possession.
For as in the food that we take into our bodies, it is but very little that passes into nutriment, and so is converted into our substance; so in the greatest affluence of plenty, it is not the mass of the enjoyment, but the elixir or spirit that is derived through it, that gives the comfort.
Now it is a standing rule even in philosophy, that whatsoever God does by the mediation of second causes, he can do immediately by himself, and without them. And therefore it is no wonder, if God can torment where we see no tormentor, and comfort where we behold no comforter ; he can do it by im
mediate emanations from himself, by continual effluxes of those powers and virtues, which he was pleased to implant in a weaker and fainter measure in created agents.
They indeed do all things by gross conveyances and material assistances; as an earthly parent cannot refresh his son without the means and instruments of refreshment, as meat, clothes, money, and other such accommodations : but whatsoever we do by the help of these, that God does by a plenitude and all-sufficiency flowing from himself. Thus the impure sublunary fire conveys neither heat nor light, but as it kindles upon some earthly materials of wood, stubble, or the like; but the nobler and celestial fire in the body of the sun, that works all these effects by a communication of its own virtue, without the interposal of those culinary helps : it affords flame and light, and warmth and all, without fuel.
Now this certainly should compose the murmurs and distrusts of infidelity. Men are apt to confine God to their own thoughts, and not to allow him a scope of acting beyond the measure of the visible means; nor to think that he can be a comforter, any longer than they have those things about them, by which they may be their own comforters. If God should promise plenty in a dearth, and fulness of bread when the earth denies her increase, would not unbelief presently presume the impossibility, and laugh at the promise in that question of the doubter, .2 Kings vii. 2, If God should make windows in heaven, how could this thing be? Yet the objector, we see, was answered with a full, though a sad confutation.
Sometimes we see no means by which God may
comfort; but can he not therefore do it without means ? There are no wagons nor conduit-pipes to bring down the influences of heaven to us; yet at their stated seasons we find, that they visit us certainly and universally. And thus much for the first part of the Spirit's employment, namely, that he was to be a Comforter.
2. The second was his being the Spirit of truth; upon which account it is said of him, John xvi. 13, that he should lead the disciples into all truth. He is the great guide of souls, and discoverer of the mysterious depths of the gospel. Christ indeed had sufficiently preached these divine truths to the world by an external promulgation : but the Spirit was to preach them over again, by the inward illuminations of the mind.
Hereupon also the grand property of truth is ascribed to the Spirit, which is conviction. It is said of him, John xvi. 8, that he shall convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Now conviction is not only truth, but the predominance of truth; the triumph of a well-managed argumentation. The meaning of those words being this, that the Spirit of God shall bring home those concerning truths to men's understanding, with such a prevailing sway and evidence, that they shall not be able to deny their assent to them; which way soever their corruptions may force their practice.
Nay, truth is such a peculiar characteristic note of God's Spirit, that this gives it one great discrimination from the evil spirit, who is properly the spirit of falsehood, the deceiver and the seducer; and a liar from the beginning, both the parent and the patron of lies. Yea, and as if he had the monopoly of all fal
lacy and falsehood, it is said of him, that when he speaks a lie, he speaks it of his own. It is his peculiar, his inheritance; and the whole race of liars is said to descend from him, as their grand original, and head of their family. Justly therefore does God exhibit his Spirit to us, under the noble denomination of truth.
But here, since these two titles given to the Holy Ghost, viz. of the Comforter, and of the Spirit of truth, seem to have some emphatical relation one to another, so as to found a mutual dependance between them ; I shall here endeavour to shew, that his being a Comforter depends upon his being the Spirit of truth; and particularly, how truth comes to have this comforting influence upon man's mind. I conceive it derives this virtue from these two things.
(1.) From the native, congenial suitableness that it has to man's understanding. And from the application of a suitable object to a well-disposed faculty, there naturally arises comfort. If you now demand, how truth comes to be so suitable to the mind; I answer, that there can be no further reason given, but that it is the nature of it so to be: and of the nature of things there is no reason to be assigned, but the will of the Creator, who was pleased, in ordering the great economy of the world, to plant an agreeableness between some natures, and a disagreeableness between others.
There is that agreement between truth and the mind, that there is between light and the eye ; which is the sense of pleasure, of the purest and the most sublime pleasure. And surely, of all the creatures that have issued from the workmanship of omnipotence, there is none so pleasing, so refreshing,