« AnteriorContinuar »
evident, that our Saviour, by the Spirit, or Holy Spirit, here mentioned by him, meant only that divine power, by which he was enabled to work the miracle which was here cavilled at.
For by comparing the parallel accounts of the same transaction by St. Matthew and St. Luke, [Matt. xii. 28, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you:” Luke xi. 20, “ But if I with the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you :"] you find that what the former calls the Spirit of God, the other calls the finger of God. From which it is obvious, that it is not any divine person that is here called the Spirit of God, but that it is only the finger or power of God, which is so termed ; that power, by which Christ was enabled to do his miraculous works. And the great sin of these Jews, called the blasphemy of the Spirit, or speaking against the Holy Spirit, lay in this; that though they could not deny the miraculous cure wrought by Jesus upon the demoniac, they insisted on it being done by a communication with Beelzebub, the prince of demons, and not by any power from God: which shewed their obstinate and incorrigible wickedness, and that they were incapable of forgiveness, because incapable of repentance, whilst such dispositions remained in them.
Eusebes. Is the Spirit, or Holy Spirit, in other
places of Scripture, to be understood of an extraordinary power and gift, or gifts from God, and not as being a Divine Person, or intelligent agent?
Artemon. Yes, it is very generally so to be understood, especially in the writings of the New Testament. Thus our Saviour encourages his apostles, Matt. x. 19, 20 : “ When they deliver you up (to be judged for the gospel's sake) be not anxious how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in the same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." St. Mark and Luke, in the parallel places, call it the Holy Spirit. All of them doubtless thereby intended the divine influence. Thus also it is said of Christ himself, John iii. 34,“ He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God : for God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him.”
Sometimes it signifies those particular, extraordinary gifts which were predicted and promised by Christ, and bestowed upon the apostles and first Christians, after his resurrection. Thus, after our Saviour had spoken in highly figurative terms, borrowed from their ancient prophets, of some great blessings which his followers were to derive from him, the sacred historian remarks upon it (John vii. 39), “ But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive : for the Holy Spirit was not yet given,
because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Here it is obvious that the Spirit, or Holy Spirit, stands for those extraordinary divine gifts or powers, that were afterwards bestowed on the followers of Christ.
Eusebes. But do not the terms in which our Saviour mentions the extraordinary aids which would be given to his followers, plainly bespeak the Holy Spirit to be a real person, though inferior to Christ, as one sent by him, and in some measure put under his direction ? As for instance, where he says, John xiv. 16, 17, "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever:. even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him"? And xvi. 7, &c. " It is expedient for you, that I go away. For if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you. But if I depart, I will send him unto you. I have yet many things to say unto you but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. For he shall not speak of himself ; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
Artemon. Every one must interpret and judge for himself in these matters, And so long as he
looks upon the Spirit to be an inferior agent, employed by God, and not the most high God, there can be nothing contradictory to the other parts of Scripture, to suppose it to be a person really existing. But the contrary sentiment is more agreeable to the general tenor of the Scriptures, and the style in which they are written, to consider the Spirit of Truth here as personified, represented as a person, by a very usual figure of speech, in the sacred and in other writers. Thus, as I have had occasion to mention to you before in the course of our conversation, in the eighth chapter of Proverbs, to inculcate the belief of an all-wise Providence, by which the world was first made, and all things are governed, Wisdom is introduced as a divine person, and described as dwelling and conversing with God from all eternity, and particularly engaged and concerned in the creation of this world of ours, and in the affairs of mankind. St. Paul also, 1 Cor. xiii. holds forth Charity, or benevolence, with the attributes of a person really existing and acting. And in the same way our Saviour, in the words which you have just now quoted, very naturally tells his sorrowful and dejected disciples, that the extraordinary assistance that would be given them after his departure from them, would be as it were, another Comforter or Advocate to them in bis stead, who would plead their cause and be
always with them; by whom they would be the more fully confirmed in the belief of those things which they had heard from him, and would have many of their prejudices removed, which threw a mist before their eyes, whilst he was in person with them; and the success of his gospel be effectually promoted, which he calls his being glorified by the spirit. There is a beauty and energy in this animated style of description far beyond that of a plainer narrative: nor would it be easy to mistake it, if men did not come to the reading of the Scriptures with a wrong bias on their minds, to which they bend every thing they meet with.
This interpretation is confirmed, as hath been often observed, by the evangelist St. Luke, in his book of The Acts; in which he records the fulfilment of this promise of our Saviour's, of sending the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to his disciples. For there we find no new powerful intelligent agent, or real divine person introduced; but only a plentiful effusion of miraculous gifts bestowed upon the apostles. And there is additional strength given to this interpretation, from the Holy Spirit being the common phrase by which Christians spoke of these extraordinary divine powers, which were in the first age conferred upon them in great abundance. Thus the apostle Peter, vindicating the calling of the Gentiles to the knowledge of the gospel, without