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being made subject to the law of Moses, says, Acts xv. 8,“ God, who knoweth the heart, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us." And Acts xix. 2, “ Paul said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed ? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit.” In all these instances none can doubt but that by the Holy Spirit is meant those miraculous gifts then bestowed on believers of the gospel. But see The Acts throughout.
Eusebes. But how, I pray, am I to interpret that language of St. Peter, where he seems expressly to style the Holy Spirit, God ? It is in Acts v. 3, 4, where the apostle is mentioned, as saying to the man, who pretended he had given in his whole substance to the common stock, whilst he kept back part of it, “ Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land ? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”
Arteinon. Nothing but the force of strong early prejudice in favour of the doctrine learnt in your childhood, could ever make you or any sensible person entertain the most distant thought that there was another God, called the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, here spoken of, distinct and different from the one living and true God, the Father; whom the uniform language of the holy Scriptures throughout proclaimeth to be the only
true God, and no other person whatever to be in any way equal or like unto him. There is no difficulty in comprehending that Ananias might be said by lying to the Holy Spirit, to lie to God himself; since, by endeavouring to pass a fraud upon the apostles, who acted by a divine extraordinary power, amounted to the same as endeavouring to impose upon God himself, from whom they received that power, and whose ministers they were. So Luke x. 16, our Lord says to his apostles, “ He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” Now although he that despised the apostles, despised not only Christ, but God himself, it did not hence follow, that Christ was God, or that his apostles were gods.
Eusebes. May I ask you, Artemon, in what way you interpret that pious conclusion of one of St. Paul's epistles, 2 Cor. xiii. 14:“ The grace (or favour) of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” ? Is not the Holy Spirit put there upon the same rank with God himself, and said to communicate blessings to Christians?
Artemon. You well know, Eusebes, that it is by no means to be inferred from things or persons being coupled in this manner together, that they are therefore all of the same kind or rank ; for, if so, you might conclude that the angels were gods, from that passage in 1 Tim. v.
21, “ I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels,” and so on. The apostle here, by saying, the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you, intends only to express a devout wish, that they to whom he writes might be partakers of the extraordinary gifts, and of all the blessings of the gospel.
Eusebes. I am often at a loss how to understand that exhortation of the apostle, Eph. iv. 30, “ Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Does it not imply that the Holy Spirit is a distinct divine person, who takes an interested part in the affairs of man's salvation ?
Artemon. You will find it very easy and intelligible, without recurring to such strange and groundless suppositions, by taking this along with you in your interpretation of it, viz. that the Spirit or Holy Spirit of God is sometimes put for God himself, as the spirit of a man signifies the man himself. This is taught by St. Paul, 1 Cor. ii. 11, when he observes, “ What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." This exhortation then, of not grieving the Holy Spirit of God, is to be understood, of not grieving the Almighty Being himself, who had sealed, &c. i. e. had favoured these Ephesian Christians with the extraordinary gifts of the spirit. And to him it
is they were not to give concern, by their improper behaviour and mismanagement of his gifts. The very same phrase is used by the prophet Isaiah, as expressive of the most compassionate regards of Almighty God for his people Israel, when speaking of their great wickedness, he says, " They rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.” Isaiah lxii. 10.
Or, perhaps, you may not dislike this other interpretation, viz. that the Holy Spirit, which they were not to grieve, is put for persons who were endowed with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. As when St. Pauľ says, Acts xx. 23, “ The Holy Spirit witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me;" he means it of persons who had the Holy Spirit, to whom an extraordinary divine revelation had been made of the sufferings he was to undergo for the sake of the gospel. So here likewise, (and it admirably suits the connexion of the apostle's discourse with what goes before and follows after,) he is to be understood as saying, “ Grieve not, by your light conversation or dissensions, those good men, who labour for your salvation: for which service they have the extraordinary gifts and assistance of the spirit of God bestowed
Eusebes. I shall trouble you with but one question more on this matter, and that is, to know at what time it was that Christians first
began publicly to acknowledge the Holy Spirit as a distinct God, and object of worship; which you have proved to me to have no authority or support from the word of God?
Artemon. It is a fact of great notoriety, that the Holy Spirit was not publicly acknowledged as God, and to be worshiped as such, for the first three hundred years after Christ. It is also remarkable, that at the famous council of Nice, in the year 325, all that was inserted about the Holy Spirit, was barely, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” That which makes the principal part of the Nicene Creed now, relating to the Holy Spirit, did not originally belong to it, but was added about half a century afterwards, in the second general council, as it is called, of Constantinople. The words then added after “ I believe in the Holy Ghost,” were these, “ The Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.” So that there is no colour of foundation in the holy Scripture for the belief of any person called the Spirit, or Holy Spirit, as being God: and the worship of this Spirit, as a divine person, did not become publicly authorized among Christians, till they were sinking into the very dregs of Pagan idolatry. For, about this period, that is, at the latter end of the fourth century, came in the worship of dead men and