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the influences of the Spirit, which were more common, and immediately subservient to the work of grace in the souls of those who were the subjects thereof, were, at that time, the same with them that we are pleading for, which were designed to continue in the church, in all the ages thereof: thus when persons are said, through the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body, Rom. viii. 13. this does not respect any extraordinary dispensation, which they were then under, since it is the duty of all men, in all ages, without the extraordinary influences of the Spirit, to mortify the deeds of the body, and therefore we may expect this powerful energy as well as they, or else our condition would be very deplorable.
And besides, we never find that extraordinary gifts were immediately subservient to the subduing corruption, or, at least, that every one that had them, did mortify sin, and so appear to be internally sanctified: whereas, this is a character of those who are so; and not to have these influences, determines a person to be in an unregenerate state, or to live after the flesh, which is opposed to it, and so to be liable to death, ver. 12. No one can suppose, the apostle intends, in the foregoing verse, when he says, If ye live after the fiesh, ye shall die; that if ye are not under inspiration, ye shall die, as living after the flesh: but the method of reasoning is strong and conclusive, if we understand the divine influence as what is distinct from inspiration, and consequently a privilege necessary for the beginning and carrying on the work of grace, and so belongs to believers in all ages.
Again, when the Spirit is said to help our infirmities, ver. 26. in prayer: is not prayer as much a duty now as it was when they had extraordinary gifts ? therefore, ought we not to hope for the assistance of the Spirit, in all ages and consequently the Spirit's help, in this respect is not confined to that age, when there was a miraculous dispensation, or extraordinary inspiration.
And when it is elsewhere said, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, ver. 14. can we suppose, that none were the sons of God but such as had extraordinary gifts? Does not this privilege belong to us, as well as unto them? If therefore we are the sons of God, as well as they, we have this evidence hereof, according to this scripture ; namely, our being led by the Spirit of God; though we pretend not to be led by him, as a Spirit of inspiration.
And to this we may add, that the apostle elsewhere speaks of some who were scaled with that Holy Spirit of promise ; which is the earnest of our inheritance : and these are described as trusting in Christ after they had heard the word of salvation, and believing in him, Eph. i. 13, 14. But this belongs
to the church in all ages; therefore sealing is not a privilege confined to those who had the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; but to believers as such.
Moreover, it is said, The Spirit beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God; Rom. viii. 16. Therefore, some persons may know themselves to be the children of God, in a way of self-examination, by the witness of the Spirit, which is common to all believers ; without pretending to be inspired therein; which would be to know this matter without the concurring testimony of our own spirits. Many things, of the like nature, might be observed, concerning the other scriptures, that are generally brought to prove that believers, in our day, are made partakers of the powerful influences of the Holy Ghost; though they pretend not to the Spirit of inspiration; which is a sufficient answer to this objection.
Object. 2. If it be farther objected, that if the Spirit does work internally in the souls of men, we are not to suppose, that he works a change in their wills, but only presents objects to them, which they by their own power, improve, and make use of, for their good; even as a finite Spirit may suggest good or bad thoughts, without disposing us to comply with them; or, as the devil is said to work in men, who is called, The Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2.
Answ. To this it may be replied, that an objective influence, properly speaking, is no influence at all ; much less is it becoming the dignity of the Holy Ghost, to say, That he hath no more an hand in the work of conversion, than that which a mere creature might have. I will not deny that the Greek word, * which signifies energy, or internal working, is sometimes taken for such a kind of influence as is not properly the effect of power, as in the instance contained in the objection; yet, let it be considered, that the same word is often used, in various other instances, in senses very different, when applied to God and the creature; where the word, in itself, is indeterminate; but the application of it sufficiently determines the matter; so as to leave no doubt, as to the sense of it. Thus to make, form, or produce, when applied to God, and the thing made, formed, or produced, is represented as an instance of his almighty power, which exceeds the limits of finite power, this determines the sense to be very different from making, forming, or producing, when applied to men, acting in their own sphere : so the apostle speaks of building, in a very different sense, as applied to God and the creature, which no one is at a loss to understand, who reads the words; Every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God, Heb. iii. 4. Now, to apply this to our present purpose, we do not
Excus. VOL. III.
deny, that a finite spirit has an energy, in an objective way. but when the same word is applied to God's manner of acting; and is represented as has been before observed, as an instance of his almighty power, producing a change in the soul; and not only persuading, but enabling him to perform good works, from a principle of spiritual life, implanted, this may easily be understood as having a very different sense from the same word, when applied to the internal agency of a finite spirit; and therefore this objection does not overthrow the argument we are maintaining
Object. 3. It is farther objected against what has been said concerning this powerful work of the Spirit, as being illustrated by the similitude of a person's being raised from the dead; that this contains in it nothing supernatural, or out of the power of man; since the apostle says, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give the light, Eph. v. 14. If arising from the dead be the effect of almighty power, when applied to the work of grace, it seems preposterous for this to be recommended as our duty: and if it be not a work of almighty power, then those scriptures that illustrate effectual calling by the resurrection of the dead, are nothing to the argument for which they have been brought.
Answ. Some suppose, that its being assigned as a matter of duty for sinners to rise from the dead, does not infer, that it is in their own power; but, that it only signifies, that none can expect eternal life but those who rise from the death of sin ; and accordingly, as the promise, here mentioned, relating to our having light, is said to be Christ's gift, so the power to perform that duty, which is inseparably connected with it, to wit, rising from the dead, is to be sought for at his hand. But if this answer be not reckoned sufficient, I see no absurdity in supposing, that these two expressions, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise
from the dead, import the same thing. Sleep is, as it were, the image of death ; and therefore, by a metaphorical way of speaking, it may be here called death; and if so, the apostle commands believers to awake oụt of their carnal secu. rity, or shake off their stupid frames, as they expect the light uf eternal life: however, if it be taken in this sense here; yet when we meet with the words quickened, or raised from the dead, elsewhere, they may be understood in a different sense, as denoting the implanting a principle of grace in regeneration, as will appear by the context: thus when God is said to quicken those who were dead in trespasses and sins ; who walked according to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were, by nature, the children of wrath; and to do this with a design to shew the exceeding riches of his grace, and kindness towards them; and as the consequence thereof, to work that faith which accompanies salvation, which is not of themselves, but his gift: I say, if these things are mentioned when we are said
to be quickened, or raised from the dead, certainly it argues more than a stupid believer's awaking from that carnal security, which he is under, who is supposed to have a principle of spiritual life, whereby he may be enabled so to do.
Object. 4. It is also objected to what has been said, concerning effectual calling's being a work of divine power, that those scriptures, which speak of it as such, denote nothing else but the power of working miracles; whereby they to whom the gospel was preached, were induced to believe; as when the apostle savs, His preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, 1 Cor. ii. 4. that is, the doctrines he preached, were confirmed, and the truth thereof demonstrated by the power of the Holy Ghost, enabling them to work miracles : and the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power, chap. iv. 20. that is, the gospel is not only preached, but confirmed by miracles: Our gospel came to you in power, and in the Holy Ghost, 1 Thes. i. 5. that is, as some understand it, the gospel which we preach, was confirmed by the power and miraculous works of the Holy Ghost; which has no reference to the internal efficacious influences of the Spirit put forth in effectual calling
Answ. Though we often read that the gospel was confirmed by miracles : nevertheless, I cannot see that this is the principle, much less the only sense of these scriptures, and some others that might have been produced to the same purpose.
As to the first of them in which the apostle speaks of his preaching, being in the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; it may be observed, that in the preceding chapter he had been speaking concerning Christ preached, and his glory set forth among them, as the power of God; that is to say, the power of God rendered the preaching thereof effectual to the conversion of them that believed; which he concludes to contain in it no less a conviction of the truth of the Christian religion, than if he had wrought signs or miracles, which the Jews demanded, and which he had no design to work among them : therefore, why should we suppose, that when he speaks of his preaching being in the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, that he intends the confirming his doctrine by miracles, and not in the same sense as he had before signified Christ to be the power of God.
And as for the other scripture, in which it is said, The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power ; that is to be understood by comparing it with what immediately goes before, in which he says, that I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and know not the speech of them who are puffed up, but the power. If we suppose, that by them who are puffed up, he means some of their teachers, who swelled either with pride or envy, and probably were sowing some seeds of error among them ; it does not seem to be a just
sense of the text, to explain the words when he says, I will know not the speech of them who are puffed up, but the power, q. d. I will not so much regard the doctrines they deliver, as I will enquire and be convinced, that they have confirmed them by miracles. For he would rather regard their doctrine than their pretence to miracles; or have said, I will not enquire whether ever they have wrought any miracles or no, but what efficacy their doctrine has had : and therefore the apos tle, by knowing the power, does not mean that of working mira. cles, but he intimates that he would know, not only what doctrines these persons taught, but what success attended their preaching; and then he adds, that the kingdom of God, that is, the gospel-state is advanced and promoted, not barely by the church's enjoying the means of grace, such as the preaching of the word; but by the power of God, which makes the word preached effectual to salvation, whereby sinners are converted, and many added to the church, such as shall be saved.
As to the last scripture mentioned, in which the apostle says, Our gospel came to you, not in word only, but in power, I cannot think that he has any reference in that place, to the confirming the gospel by miracles; because this is assigned as a mark of their election, knowing, brethren, your election of God, for our gospel came unto you, not only in word, but in power, &c. Now, whether we take election for God's eternal design to save them, or for the execution thereof, in his applying the graces of the Spirit to them; or if we take it in the lowest sense, which they, on the other side of the question, generally give into, for their being a choice, religious unblameable society of Christians, excelling many others. in piety: this could not be evinced by the gospel's being confirmed by miracles ; and therefore this sense seems not agreeable to the apostle's design; and consequently the objection taken from those scriptures, that speak of the power of God in conversion, as implying nothing else but his power, exerted in working miracles, will not, in the least, be sufficient to weaken the force of the argument we are maintaining. Thus concerning effectual calla ing's being a work of power, attributed, in particular, to the Holy Spirit.
There is one thing more observed, in the answer we are explaining, which must be briefly considered ; namely, that it is a work of grace, which was the internal moving cause thereof; or, the reason of God's exerting his divine power therein. Effectual calling must be a work of grace, without any inotive