RPM, Volume 20, Number 10, March 4 to March 10, 2018

Meditations on the Holy Spirit

Chapter IV

By J. C. Philpot

In our last paper we attempted to unfold, from the word of God, the glorious truth of the Personality of the Holy Spirit, and intimated, at the conclusion of that paper, our hope and intention to pursue the same subject in a subsequent Article. This promise we shall now, therefore, with God's help and blessing, attempt to redeem.

Ever since we have been led into the truth as it is in Jesus, and more especially since we have been called to speak and write somewhat largely in his blessed name, we have seen and felt the necessity of three things to make us able ministers of the New Testament.

1. A spiritual understanding of the things of the Spirit of God; (1 Cor, 2:10-16; Eph. 1:17, 18;)

2. A gracious experience of their power; (1 Cor. 2:4, 5; 4:20;)

3. A door of utterance to open our mouths boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. (Col. 4:3; Eph. 6:19.)

Without divine teaching and the wisdom which comes from above, no man can clearly "show himself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth;" (2 Tim. 2:15;) nor can he "take forth the precious from the vile," and so be as God's mouth. (Jer. 15:19.) But in no instance and for no work is this spiritual knowledge, this gracious experience, and this heavenly gift of utterance more needed than when the servants of God have to handle and unfold such deep and mysterious truths as the blessed Trinity, the Sonship of Christ, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit—subjects so important, and yet so profound, that one wrong word or one confused expression may open a door for error, wound or perplex the children of God, strengthen the hands of the enemies of truth, and lay a train for the temptations of Satan. We need, therefore, the prayers of the children of God before whom our papers on these deep and mysterious subjects come, that we may be led into all truth, and kept from all error, and be specially favored with that "anointing which teaches of all things, and is truth, and is no lie." (1 John 2:27.)

Thus to be blessed and favored has been and is our earnest desire; and not only so, but in laying what we hope the Lord has taught us of his precious truth before the Church of God, we have sought, with the Preacher, "to find out acceptable words, that what is written might be upright, even words of truth." (Eccles. 12:10.) And as many are watching for our halting, who would gladly seize upon some expression from our pen to make us an offender for a word, we have endeavored at the same time to use "sound speech that cannot be condemned, that he who is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil to say of us." (Titus 2:8.) However, then, we may have failed, our aim and study have been, on the one hand, to write acceptably to the saints of God, and on the other, to leave no room for any, whether friend or foe, to take any just exception to our language, either on the ground of obscurity of thought or error of expression.

[Note] Exception, we understand, has been taken to our using the word "Agent" in reference to the Holy Spirit, as if the expression necessarily implied subordination or inferiority. We expressly guarded against any such ungrounded exception by explaining, in a note, p. 358, the meaning of the word "Agent" as "one who acts." We repeat it, therefore, again, that the word "Agent" literally and truly means "one who acts," and therefore necessarily implies a person, for a thing cannot act. It is a slight variation of the participle of the Latin word "ago," "I act;" "agens," "acting;" like our "do," "doing;" "I do," or "I am doing;" "I act," or "I am acting." "Why do you act so?" "Why are you acting so?" Where is the difference? If there be any, it requires a microscope to find it out. Even the word agent, as applied to an Irish agent, has the meaning of acting, and personal acting too. He is the man who acts. It is not his writs, nor his levies, nor his law papers, nor his leases and contracts which act. He acts, and is therefore an agent. His noble employer does not act. He lives probably at Paris, or in London, and knows nothing of his Irish estates, except to get all the rent he can from them. His agent does the work, and it is because he so acts that he is called an agent. That he acts for a landlord, a superior in rank, and therefore occupies a subordinate position, is a mere accidental circumstance, and has nothing whatever to do with the true and real meaning of the word. Let us have, then, no more of this caviling about the word "Agent." An Agent is a person, not a breath or an emanation; and in the case of the Holy Spirit a divine Person in the Trinity, and therefore co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son, for in Godhead there can be neither superiority nor inferiority, supremacy or subordination.

We intimated in our last paper that we had not exhausted our scriptural arguments in proof of the PERSONALITY of the Holy Spirit. And among other convincing scriptural testimonies to prove that the blessed Spirit is not an emanation, a breath, an influence, or an operation, but a divine Person in the Godhead, we adduced a variety of personal actions, such as sealing, witnessing, &c., which none but a Person, a real living Person, could perform.

7. Under this class, then, of proof we may range another scriptural testimony—that he can be grieved. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30.) Can we grieve a breath, an influence, an emanation? Have these passing things a heart to grieve? An unkind husband grieves a loving wife; an undutiful son grieves a fond parent; an untoward member of a church grieves a faithful pastor. In these too frequent cases, it is not the love that is grieved, but the loving person by whom the affection is so deeply felt, and out of whose heart the wounded love so tenderly flows. So when we are bidden not to grieve the Holy Spirit, it is He as a Person in the Godhead whom we are not to grieve. There is no personal feeling, no tender heart, no holy jealousy, no affections of compassion in a breath, an influence, a passing operation. We might as well say that we grieve the air when we shut it out of our houses, or grieve the rain when we keep it from falling on our bodies, or grieve the fire when we leave its warmth, as that we grieve the Spirit by neglecting his admonitions, if he be only a fleeting breath, a descending influence, or a warm emanation.

But when we view him as a distinct Person in the Godhead, and possessing in himself as such, independent of all covenant relationships, all the goodness, all the love, all the mercy, pity, and compassion of God, this act of faith upon him as a divine Person gives us a special feeling towards him which we could not have to a breath or an emanation, and makes us fear to grieve him. Tho love of a fond wife is dear to an affectionate husband. But the love is not the wife; and to grieve the love is a distinct thing from grieving the loving woman. The woman feels. She is "grieved in spirit;" (Isa. 54:6;) but her love cannot feel as distinct from herself. If "a wife of youth" and "forsaken," (Isa. 54:6,) according to the Lord's own figure, it is she, the feeling, living, loving woman who is grieved. Her tears, her sighs, her midnight weeping, her noonday sobbing, are but marks and signs of her inward. grief. The whole woman feels, and feels as a woman. Now apply this argument to grieving the Spirit, and see how it bears on his divine Personality. To grieve him is to grieve a Person, not an influence, or an operation, or some emanation from God.

But, perhaps, if you are a caviler, you will say, Can God be grieved. How carnal is your figure about a woman being grieved by an unkind or unfaithful husband, as if God could feel grief, as you represent this mourning wife to feel! Would not grief imply some imperfection in the Almighty, and represent him as subject to feelings and passions just as we are?" As to our figure, let it be only what we intend—a figure. We certainly do not mean to convey by it that the blessed Spirit is grieved, just as a poor, sinful, mortal woman is grieved. But as the Scripture bids us not to grieve the Holy Spirit, we believe from God's own unerring word, that he can be grieved. We cannot explain how. All we contend for is that he can be grieved, and that this feeling ascribed to him proves that he is a Person, not a thing—not an influence, or an emanation. But if you ask the question, as if the very inquiry implied the negative, "Can God grieve?" we reply, "Can God love?" This none can deny, with the Bible open on the table, But is not love a feeling? Can God be angry? Yes, for he is "angry with the wicked every day;" (Psalm 7:11;) and the Church says, "Though you were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and you comforted me." (Isa. 12:1.) And you, O caviler, who are barking at God's truth, and denying that he can be grieved because Deity, you say, cannot feel, may one day find, to your eternal dismay, that the feeling, or passion, if you like so to call it, of anger against his rebellious foes, as well as of grief towards his disobedient children, may dwell in the bosom of God. And can he not be "jealous," for is he not "a jealous God?" (Exod. 20:5;) and if a jealous God, does not the feeling of jealousy dwell in his bosom?

In the same way, then, and judging from the light of the same testimony, the Holy Spirit, as God, can be grieved. We cannot, indeed, explain how these feelings of love, anger, jealousy, grief, etc., exist in the bosom of God, or how fully to reconcile them with his immutability. But this God of feelings is the God of the Bible; not a god of the ancient Epicureans or Stoics, (Acts 17:18,) above, and therefore without all feeling; nor a Hindoo deity. The God of the Bible loves and hates; (Mal. 1:2, 3; Rom. 9:13;) pities and repents; (Psalm 102:13; Exod. 32:14; 1 Sam. 15:11;) is jealous and revenges; (Nahum 1:2;) is grieved and provoked; (Psalm 78:40;) is turned to be his people's enemy, and fights against them; and yet in all their affliction he is afflicted. (Isa. 63:9, 10.) This is Bible language; and therefore "sound speech that cannot be condemned;" yes, sound divinity, gracious theology; for in so speaking, we speak "as the oracles of God," and "in doctrine show uncorruptness." (Titus 3:7, 8; 1 Pet. 4:11.)

But if we reject the testimony which God has thus given of himself as possessing certain feelings, either because we cannot comprehend so deep a mystery or cannot reconcile it with our preconceived notions that such, as we think, human feelings must necessarily clash with the perfection and immutability of the divine nature, what must be the certain result? To set up a God of our own conception or imagination, modeled and framed according to a scheme of our own mind, as distinct from the God of the Bible. But you will perhaps still urge, "Do not the feelings which you ascribe to God of repenting, being grieved, etc., lower our ideas of his infinite perfection? Do they not represent him as a mutable, changeable being?" "Which you ascribe," do you say. We do not ascribe; it is the Bible which describes. We follow the Bible, and use Bible words. It is not our ascription, but the Bible's description. Does this offend you? But, perhaps, you are muddling your mind by confounding the pure feelings of the infinitely holy God with the impure feelings of poor, fallen man. Separate all idea of infirmity from God's love, pity, grief, etc., and you will see how you have, unconsciously perhaps, been mingling natural conceptions with spiritual apprehensions.

But to pursue the subject for a moment further. What sort of God would that be who felt neither love nor mercy; was never pleased, and never vexed; whom nothing could provoke to anger, not even the most daring blasphemies; and nothing move to pity, not even the most dreadful sufferings or the deepest afflictions of his own children? Such a God as this might be a stone god or a wooden god; but be he who or what he might, he would not be the God of the Bible, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; for a God without feeling would be a God without love; and this most certainly would not be the God who "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) This is, indeed, rather a digression from our subject; but it may help, with God's blessing, to relieve the mind of some who have puzzled themselves over the problem, how the Holy Spirit can be grieved or vexed.

8. But the Holy Spirit is said in Scripture to be resisted; and this implies also that he is a Person, and not a mere influence. Let us endeavor to open this point a little more fully. The martyr Stephen charged this sin of resisting the Holy Spirit upon the members of the Jewish council--"You stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you." (Acts 7:51.) This then is our argument, that if they and their fathers resisted the Holy Spirit, they must have resisted him as a Person in the Godhead, and not as an influence. Let us work this question out. If we say then that the Holy Spirit is but an influence which God puts forth, and is not an actual living Person, what must be the necessary consequence, if he can be effectually resisted? for the council most certainly effectually resisted him when they gnashed upon Stephen with their teeth, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him. That divine influences may be effectually resisted. But what is this necessary conclusion? Arminianism to the very height! for it would prove that spiritual influences can be effectually resisted, 1 which is thorough Arminian doctrine. But now view the Holy Spirit as a Person, and then you will see in a moment that men may and do resist a Person, who could not resist an influence. A figure perhaps may make this point somewhat clearer. A mob collects together for some political object. The people become excited by some mob orator, and matters wear an aspect threatening to the public peace. The magistrate appears and begs the people to disperse. They resist. But what do they resist? The magistrate or his influence? The magistrate surely—the person of the magistrate, not his influence over their minds; for if his influence prevailed over their minds, they would obey him and disperse. We do not say that, in natural things, an influence may not be effectually resisted, as in the figure there may be an effectual resistance in the minds of the people to the natural influence of the magistrate; but not so in divine.

But now suppose the mob become riotous, and blood is shed; and suppose that the rioters are afterwards tried in a court of justice for not immediately dispersing after the Riot Act was read. Why are they punished, if found guilty? For resisting the influence of the magistrate, or for resisting the person of the magistrate? The law knows nothing of the magistrate's influence, but a great deal of the magistrate's person. The magistrate might not appear on the scene at all, and yet, from the general weight of his character, might exert an influence at a distance, or from being thought to be near at hand. But the law knows nothing of such an unseen influence. It looks to the person of the magistrate, and to the authority which he, as a state person, exerts and administers.

Now apply this figure to resisting the Holy Spirit, and see how he is resisted as a Person, and not as an influence. How did the Jewish council resist the Holy Spirit? In a similar way as that whereby a riotous mob resists a magistrate. They resisted his Person. But how could they resist his Person? They did not see him as a Person; they did not know him as a Person. No! but they resisted him in his word, his testimony, his authority. But how could they do that? By disbelieving, disobeying, spurning his authority, and opposing his testimony; especially as speaking first in the prophets, and then in the words and miracles of the blessed Lord, whom they had just crucified. "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers." (Acts 7:52.) It was not then the secret and sacred influence of the blessed Spirit upon their hearts which they resisted, for that neither did he put forth, nor did they feel, but it was his Person and authority as testifying to the Son of God by the prophets, and by the miracles, death, and resurrection of our blessed Lord. (Acts 5:30-32; Rom. 1:4.) Thus to resist, and that effectually, the Holy Spirit in his Person and his testimony, was their sin, their condemnation, and their ruin.

9. But as a further argument under the same class of proof—personal actions, the Holy Spirit is said also to have a temple in which he dwells. "What! Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?" (1 Cor. 6:19.) Now compare with this passage another testimony of the blessed Spirit--"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Cor. 6:16.) In one testimony, the body of the believer is called "the temple of the Holy Spirit;" in the other, the believer is said to be "the temple of the living God." But it may be said that this may only mean an influence of God, called the Holy Spirit. We have nothing to do with what a text may mean; what we have to do with is what a text does mean, and must mean. Does not a temple imply a habitation of and for God? There may be an influence, and a divine influence too, felt in a temple, as David saw and felt the power and glory of God in the sanctuary. But the temple was not built for the influence to inhabit, but for the Person of him from whom the influence comes. What saw Isaiah in the temple? The Lord, or his influence? "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." (Isa. 6:1.) It was the Lord whom he saw, and the influence that he felt. "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have soon the King, the Lord of hosts." (Isa. 6:5.) And how prayed Solomon at the dedication of the temple? "But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!" "Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into your resting-place, you, and the ark of your strength; let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let your saints rejoice in goodness." (2 Chron. 6:18, 41.) A temple, all must admit, is the house of God. "But Solomon built him a house." (Acts 7:47.) But who ever built a house for an influence, or a breath, a virtue, an emanation, or an operation? A house is built for a person or persons to inhabit. So a temple presumes the habitation of God, and of God there in Person. God is worshiped in his temple only as dwelling there. "The Lord is in his holy temple." (Psalm 11:4; Hab. 2:20.) This made Moses say, "He is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation." (Exod. 15:2.) And David, "I will worship toward your holy temple." (Psalm 138:2.) "Worship God," said the angel to John. (Rev. 19:10.) But you cannot and must not worship an influence. You may and should worship the Holy Spirit as a Person in the Godhead; but if he were only an influence, such worship would be idolatry. In fact, the root of idolatry was the worship of God's perfections and attributes, under outward and visible representations, instead of worshiping God himself, "in spirit and in truth." Take away, then, the Person of the Holy Spirit, and reduce his divine Personality to an influence, or an emanation from God and nothing more, and he has neither temple nor worship, cannot be served without disobedience, or adored without idolatry.

10. One argument more under nearly the same class of proof will bring to a conclusion this part of our subject. The sin against the Holy Spirit is the clearest possible testimony that he is a divine Person. As all language is necessarily imperfect, and often assumes the character of metaphor and figure, we speak sometimes figuratively of sinning against conviction, or of sinning against light and love, etc. It might, therefore, be argued from such and similar expressions, that the sin against the Holy Spirit does not necessarily imply that he is a Person, as we may sin against an influence, as well as against a Person. But if we once begin to press figurative expressions into our service to overthrow by them grand scriptural truths; we may soon make the whole Bible a figure, and push the God of the Bible out of his own book, as those have done who explain the creation and fall of man, as revealed in the book of Genesis, to be a figurative representation, and that the whole is—a myth. Casting aside, then, the figurative meaning of sinning against a thing, and taking the expression in the full strength of its real signification, sin to be sin must be committed against a Person, and that Person, God.

If there were no God, there could be no sin; and if that God had not spoken to the sons of men, and given a law from his own mouth, there could have been no sin; for sin is the transgression of the law, 2 (1 John 3:4,) whether of the law of Moses, or the law of Christ. All will admit that sin is against God, and against God as a Person--"Against you, you only have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight." (Psalm 51:4.) When, then, we speak of sinning against light or love, we do not mean that we sin against light that is able to punish, or against love that is able to destroy; but against him who is both light and love. Look into your own conscience when guilt lies hard and heavy upon it, and you will both see and feel that this is the load, this the pang, that you have sinned against God—not against an influence, but against the very Person of the Almighty. The sin, then, against the Holy Spirit must be against tho Person of the Holy Spirit.

But assume for a moment that the blessed Spirit is not a Person in the Godhead, but a transient influence put forth by God, then which must be the greater sin—to sin against God's influence, or to sin against God himself? You must allow that God is greater than his influence; as the Son of God was certainly greater than the virtue which went out of him and healed the diseased woman. But why should the sin against the Holy Spirit be greater than the sin against God, if the Holy Spirit be only an influence or an emanation from God? And we know that it is greater, no, the greatest of all sins and absolutely unpardonable; for the Lord himself declares--"therefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men." According to the Lord's own testimony, then, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men;" and, therefore, blasphemy against God; but to blaspheme the Person of God must be a greater sin than to blaspheme the influence of God, if the Holy Spirit be only an influence from God. The very greatness of the sin, therefore, establishes the greatness as well as proves the reality of his Person.

Such are a few of the scriptural arguments whereby we establish the heavenly doctrine of the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit. But however strong these arguments are, we may observe that the weight of their testimony is due not only to their quality, but to their quantity. There is in them what is sometimes called "cumulative evidence;" that is, they form collectively a mass of evidence heaped together, and all bearing on one point. It is not, therefore, upon one or two isolated texts, (though one "Thus says the Lord," would be sufficient,) that we rest our faith in the Deity and Personality of the blessed Spirit, but on a vast number and variety of testimonies from different quarters, all converging to one point. This is the special privilege, and this the distinguishing beauty and glory of truth that, as in a good cause in a court of law every successive witness confirms the testimony of the preceding, so the more that the evidence for the grand distinguishing doctrines of revelation is examined, the closer the inquiry, the more searching the interrogatory, the more clearly it shines, and the more strongly and firmly it is established. So it is with the Deity and Sonship of our blessed Lord; so it is with the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit. Witnesses without number lift up their voice in the fullest unison, and the sweetest harmony, and their united anthem is, "Glory to you, O God the Father; glory to you, O God the Son; and glory to you, O God the Holy Spirit."

11. But to the believing child of God, who has felt any measure of the light, life, and power of the blessed Spirit in his heart, there is a proof more convincing and more confirming than even these solid Scripture testimonies, with all the weight of their united cumulative evidence—the Communion which he has felt with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; for as "grace" is the especial gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, and "love" the especial gift of God, so "communion" is the especial gift of the Holy Spirit. We need not quote our proof. The well-known text, 2 Cor. 13:14, will recur immediately to the mind. But "communion," or "fellowship," for the meaning of the two words is just the same, as the expression in the original is identical, must be with a Person. We cannot commune with an influence, a breath, or an emanation. David, indeed, says "Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still;" (Psalm 4:4;) but this is only because he figuratively personifies the heart, that is; represents and treats it as a person, who can speak and be spoken unto, as in the words--"When you said, Seek you my face; my heart said unto you, Your face, Lord, will I seek." But laying aside all mere figurative language, communion, real communion, can only be with a Person, for it necessarily implies two parties, one who speaks and another who answers. Surely, when the Apostle says, "And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ," (1 John 1:3,) it must be admitted that the Father and the Son are Persons, not names or influences, and that this fellowship implies mutual converse. If, then, there be fellowship with the Father as a Person, and fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ as a Person, there will be fellowship with the Holy Spirit as a Person. But communion or fellowship implies, as we have already shown, mutual communion, converse, delight.

"With him sweet converse I maintain;
Great as he is, I dare be free.
I tell him all my grief and pain,
And he reveals his heart to me."

As, then, the blessed Spirit, as a divine Person in the Godhead, bends down, so to speak, over the soul to teach, to comfort, to soften, to sanctify it, and the soul looks up to him with adoring reverence, living faith, and tender love, receiving what he communicates, believing what he reveals, and feeling what he inspires, there there is the fullest evidence which can be afforded in this time-state of his Deity and distinct Personality. Can we have faith but in a Person? We may believe an influence, but we cannot believe in an influence. The two things are quite distinct. We may believe the wind, that is, believe there is such a thing as wind, for we feel it blow on our faces; but we do not believe in the wind, as if it were a Person who sent itself, and, so to speak, blew itself. So we believe the influence of the blessed Spirit from feeling it; but we do not believe in the influence, as if it were a Person, and possessed a personal existence. But we do believe in the Holy Spirit, for faith confides in him as a Person in the Godhead; and by this faith only have we any communion with him. An influence is felt and gone; but a person abides and remains. So it is with hope. You cannot hope in an influence, though you can hope in him who sends and gives the influence. Do we hope in the rain, or in him who sends the rain? If we hoped in the rain, the hope would fail when the rain failed—the very time when the hope was most wanted. But if we hope in him who sends the rain, the hope will abide, whether the rain fall or fail. So with love. We cannot love an influence, though we may love to feel the influence. But we love the Person of the Holy Spirit, who communicates the influence. That there is "the love of the Spirit," the Scripture plainly declares--"I beseech you, for the love of the Spirit." (Rom. 15:30.) Now, whether we understand by the "love of the Spirit" his love to us, or our love to him, either interpretation will prove his Personality. If the Spirit loves us, he must love us as a Person, for an influence or an emanation cannot love; and if we love him, we must love him as a Person, not as an influence. Do we not love God as a Person, and love his dear Son as a Person? Then must we not love the blessed Spirit as a Person? A spiritual influence is a blessed thing, and though not precisely a scriptural word, it has a scriptural meaning; for the word "influence" properly means "an inflowing;" and thus corresponds to the expression "shed abroad," (Rom. 5:5,) and "poured out." (Isa. 44:3.) But we cannot worship an influence as we worship God; and therefore those who deny the Personality of the Holy Spirit cannot and do not pray to him, and censure those who do. Such can never say or sing the sweet words: "Blessed Spirit of truth, eternal God," etc.

But this the believer can do with all his heart, and with the full testimony of an approving conscience. He can and does adore the Spirit, worship the Spirit, pray to the Spirit; and as he feels his sacred operations and heavenly influences descending on his bosom, he can and does have communion with the Spirit as a divine and distinct Person in the ever-blessed Trinity.

O, you erroneous men, who deny this grand and glorious truth of the Deity and Personality of the blessed Spirit, how you sin against God! how you sin against your own souls! What will you do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from afar? Who will teach you, who will comfort you, who will support you on the bed of death? Not the influence when you deny the Person of him who sends the influence. But the believer has both—both the Person and the influence; the Holy Spirit and his operations; the blessed Spirit and his communications; the Comforter and his consolations; the Teacher and his instructions; the Testifier and his testimonies; the Interceder and his intercessions; the Advocate and his pleadings; the Spirit of truth and his leadings; the divine Sealer and his heavenly sealings. By his gifts he knows the Giver; by his graces he loves their Author; and by his fellowship he has union and communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three distinct Persons in One glorious undivided Godhead.


  1. The carnal mind, as being enmity against God, always resists the Spirit; and therefore in that sense he may be resisted in his influences; but as He always overcomes this resistance in God's people by giving them a new heart and a new spirit, he is never, in the case of a child of God, effectually resisted. Toplady, therefore, if we mistake not, and other good men as well as sound divines have objected to the use of the expression "irresistible" influences of the blessed Spirit, and have preferred the term "invincible," on this simple ground, that his influences may be resisted, though not effectually; and are therefore rather "invincible" than "irresistible."
  2. It should have been rendered "transgression of law," not "the law," or rather "iniquity," for there is no mention of, or allusion to, the law of Moses in the original. The whole verse might be, and indeed should have been rendered thus--"Every one who commits sin commits also iniquity; for sin is iniquity," or lawlessness—a breach of law. The same word occurs, 1 Cor. 9:21, and is thus rendered in our admirable translation--"To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law." But here again, our translators have rather missed the Apostle's meaning by using the words, "but under the law to Christ." It should be "under law" (or "in law," without the article) "to Christ;" that is, though to them that are without law (that is, the Gentiles) I became as without law, still I was not a lawless one—an iniquitous wretch who throws all law aside. No! I was under law (or "in law;" in the very heart and arms of law,) "the law of liberty" and love, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," "to Christ," as living under the constraining influence of his love. Thus, this passage, (1 Cor. 9:21,) which has been so often brought forward to prove that believers are under the law as a rule proves the exact contrary, and establishes that though they are not under the law, they are not without law—the perfect law of liberty and love. John's testimony which we have already quoted (1 John 3:4) is exactly to the same purport.
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