Christian Baptist Holy Spirit Influence on Salvation

p. 410-420.

On the Influence of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation
of Men.--By PAULINUS.
No. I.

      WHOEVER reads the sacred pages, with an enlightened and attentive mind, will discover that the operations of the Spirit of God are various and manifold. To this wonder-working Agent are ascribed creative energy--miraculous events--extraordinary qualifications--and sanctifying influences on the souls of men. It is only "parts of his ways" that we can undertake to speak of; or, indeed, of which we can have a conception. Those classes of divine operations, which appear more immediately to concern the salvation of men, are, the miraculous and the sanctifying. Of the first class of these operations, it is not my intention now to treat: and, indeed, any attempt of this sort, on my part, is amply and ably forestalled by a series of essays in the Christian Baptist, vol. 2. to which I would refer the reader for a luminous view of this part of the subject. The other class of divine operations, namely, those of a sanctifying nature, will furnish the subject for this undertaking; in the execution of which, it will be my aim to be short and plain.

      The view which I wish to exhibit contains three points:

First, the reality of a divine influence on the souls of men, in effecting the work of salvation;
secondly, some of the principal effects produced by this operation; and,
thirdly, the high practical import of this truth.

To the first only I can attend to the present number.--And here I desire it may be observed, that I do not assume either Calvinian or Arminian ground, as being either of them exclusively necessary to this view. It is on scriptural ground that I propose to proceed: about any other term that may be used, I am not solicitous.

      First, then, I lay down this position: that the influence of the Holy Spirit on the souls of men, in effecting the work of salvation, is a scriptural fact. That many have abused this sacred truth, by wild and fanciful imaginations, is readily conceded:--as what point of christian doctrine, indeed, has not been abused? But this, we contend, is no argument against the reality of the thing.

      Let us endeavor to enter into this matter. And I begin with observing, that a persuasion of the necessity of an influence from the Divine Spirit, to a proper preparative for the more ready admission of that fact. Does this necessity then appear to exist? Let the scriptures of truth testify. "Without me, (said Jesus,)--or severed from me--you can do nothing:" John xv. 5. With this Paul accords; 2 Cor. ii. 5. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God:" and to this, the consciousness of every quickened soul responds: "Turn thou me, (is the language of all such,) and I shall be turned;" Jer. xxx. 18. We might here enter into a view of that depravity of human nature, as represented in the scriptures, which appears to render it necessary that we should be visited with supernatural operations; but it is not deemed requisite to our present purpose. Suffice it to say, that our carnal minds are at enmity against God; and, therefore, need the changing efficacy of a divine influence; that we are naturally weak; and, therefore, have need to pray 'Strengthen you me according to your word." To what has been advanced, to shew the necessity of which we speak I add the apostle's declaration, Rom. viii. 9. "If any one have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

      We shall now come nearer to those evidences in favor of the point in hand, which are of a more direct nature. And in doing so, I shall be careful to distinguish between such passages of scripture as refer to miraculous operations, and such as regard those graces of the Spirit which we need as much as any in the time of primitive christianity could need them.

      Many of the prayers of the inspired writers, (as Mr. Scott has justly remarked,) obviously imply the truth of our present position. David prays, "Take not your Holy Spirit from me," Psalm li. 11. Surely he considered himself favored by the influences of that Spirit. "Restore to me, (he adds,) the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free Spirit." He certainly believed a divine energy to be necessary to his support. Paul prayed for the Ephesian brethren to this effect: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, (or for the acknowledgment of him;) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling," &c. Eph. i. 17. 18:--these are the blessings of salvation; not miraculous gifts. And again, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might, (or mightily strengthened,) by his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith," &c. ch. iii. 16. 17. These again are the things that accompany salvation: they are such as we now all need; and any argument brought to prove that they were peculiar to the season of miracles, would go as effectually to prove, that so likewise were faith, and hope, and love, and every christian grace peculiar to that season; and thus the very essence of christianity might be banished from the world! To the same effect is the apostles prayer for the Colossians; i. 9. 10. 11. "That you might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding," &c.--"Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power," &c.--and so for the Romans; xv. 13: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit." Other instances of the same sort might be adduced; but these are sufficient.

      To the evidence arising from the prayers of the inspired writers, let us add some direct declarations--still cautiously regarding the difference between miraculous gifts and sanctifying operations. A few out of many must suffice:--"The love of God, (says Paul to the Romans) is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit which is given to us;" Rom. v. 5. Now, whether "the love of God" be taken here to mean a sense of God's love to us, or the exercise of our love to God--(for the phrase is ambiguous, and the better in this case for being so,) it will be allowed to be requisite that we possess it; and the Holy Spirit, as given to us, is the Agent to which it is ascribed. Again, chap. 8. ver. 9. "But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you; or, because the Spirit of God dwells in you." This, [410] verse 10, is termed "Christ in you;" and verse 11, it appears to be that Spirit which raised up Christ from the dead, and which is also to quicken the bodies of the saints. It must therefore be, not merely a holy spirit or temper in us; but truly and properly the Spirit of God. In verse 10 he affirms that "the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." I shall not stop here to discuss the question, How the Spirit bears witness; whether directly and immediately, by suggesting a sense of our adoption; or mediately and indirectly, by producing that temper of heart which corresponds with the word of God, and enabling us thence to infer our adoption; or whether we ought not to admit both these views: it is enough, to our present purpose, that it is "the Spirit itself," as distinguished from our spirits, and from every other object. To the Galatians the same apostle says, chap. iv. 6. "God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Allowing the Spirit of his Son here to mean, a spirit wrought in us, namely, the spirit of adoption, still it is expressly said to be sent forth from God; and of course must be the production of the Holy Spirit. The Ephesian brethren are represented as a part of that building, that "holy temple in the Lord," which is designed "for a habitation of God through the Spirit;" Eph. ii. 21. 22. We here remark, that God dwells in his church, in a manner in which he does not in the world; and that this inhabitation is through the Spirit: and this Spirit is said, Rom. viii. 26. "to help our infirmities," and "to make intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered," or by inarticulate groanings.

      These quotations appear to have reference to the case of believers; to their needs and their supplies. If believers must have the Divine Spirit to enable them to bring forth the fruits of righteousness, and prepare them for ultimate glory; then well might we opine that the unregenerate need the influences of that Spirit, to bring them into a gracious state: and this accordingly we find to be the fact. Christ assures Nicodemus, John iii. 7. that men "must be born again;" and this new birth is said, verse 8. to be "of the Spirit." The Spirit, then, of course, is necessary to the production of that change, without which there is no salvation. The Ephesians, in reference to their unbelieving, unregenerate state, are represented as having been "dead in trespasses and sins;" Eph. ii. 1.--in verse 5 the apostle includes himself, as in the same condition; and in both places ascribes to God the quickening (or life-giving) influence which they had experienced. In verse 10 the figure is changed; but the same idea is presented of a divine energy in their conversion to God: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works." I am aware, indeed, that the figures employed to express this important change, have often been abused; and that divine truth has thus been misrepresented by an extravagant zeal to establish some particular system: but surely there is an analogy which justifies the use of such figures; there is a strong meaning intended to be conveyed; a meaning which goes obviously to shew our natural alienation from God--our destitution of the principle of holiness--and the necessity of an influence from the Divine Spirit, to restore us to a meetness for the heavenly inheritance. Let one more particular reference suffice. In Titus iii. 5. salvation is ascribed, not to works of righteousness performed by us; but to divine mercy, "by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Comment here seems unnecessary, as I cannot conceive how language could more explicitly represent the agency of the Divine Spirit in the work of conversion.

      I have mentioned above our natural alienation from God, and our destitution of the principle of holiness: and I here take occasion to repeat what I have before said--that this state of human nature, (which is so plainly held out in various parts of the sacred writings,) appears to be the ground of that necessity which exists, for a supernatural, regenerating influence from the Holy Spirit. But here it may possibly be objected that, allowing such to be the state of man, the Holy Spirit has so fitted the word of truth to our condition--has so adapted the means to the end, that no farther divine agency than what was employed in producing this word of truth, should be requisite in effecting the desired end. To such an argument I would reply, first, that a fair construction of the passages quoted, and of others that might be quoted, will not allow of such an idea: and secondly, that the fitness of the word to the condition of man, is no argument that regeneration and sanctification will follow, without a divine influence accompanying the truth:--no more, I say, a valid argument, in this case, than it would be to contend, that because seeds are adapted to vegetation, we may therefore expect a crop without the influence of sun or rain. That there is a happy, a beautiful adaptation of the word of truth to the condition of man, I readily admit; indeed it is one of my favorite ideas: this, however, does by no means supersede the necessity of a divine, spiritual influence, to give effect to the truth revealed. But possibly it may be further suggested, that the same effects are, in many cases, ascribed to the word, which are also ascribed to the Spirit. This too is admitted; and I may add, the same effects are, in some instances, ascribed to the preacher, as the dispenser of the word. Thus, we are enlightened by the Spirit: "Open you my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law;"--and we are enlightened by the word: "The entrance of your word gives light." We are born again of the Spirit: "So is every one that is born of the Spirit;"--and we are born again by the word: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God," &c. We are sanctified by the Spirit: "But you are washed, but you are sanctified," &c. "by the Spirit of our God;"--and we are sanctified by the word: "Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth." It belongs to God to open the eyes and to turn the sinner;--and Paul was sent to the Gentiles "to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light." These instances are sufficient to illustrate the fact which has been admitted; that the same effects are, in some instances, ascribed to the Holy Spirit--to the word of truth--and to the preacher or publisher of the gospel. It remains for us to see how this matter is to be understood.

      Briefly, I remark, that the same things are ascribed to different objects, pretty much in the way in which the same effect is ascribed to the agent and to the instrument. My pen, the instrument, being adapted to the purpose of writing, forms these letters; and I, the agent, giving my pen direction, form these letters. The seed and the earth produce vegetation: the sun and the rain produce vegetation; and, in a certain sense, the man who sows the seeds and cultivates the earth, may be said to produce vegetation. I know, indeed, that such figures cannot [411] adequately represent spiritual and moral objects. They are introduced only by way of illustration and I do by no means intend, by the use of them to reduce men to mere machines, or the operations of the Divine Spirit to mere physical energy. When Paul says to the Corinthians, "You are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God,"--there is a beautiful analogy which justifies the use of the figure; and we see in it the agency of Christ, the instrumentality of the preacher, and the influence of the Spirit. But he who should undertake to disprove the moral agency of man, would, it is presumed, pervert the truth by the abuse of a metaphor. If, however, on the other hand, one should be disposed to attribute to the efficiency of the instrument, what belongs to the efficiency of the agent, the apostle would certainly correct his error, by saying "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase." 1 Cor. iii. 5, 6, 7.

      The sum of these remarks on the effects ascribed to the Spirit and the word is this: that the word of truth is God's great instrument in effecting our salvation. By this, or with this, his spirit operates to the renewing and sanctifying of the soul; while under its influence, the soul itself becomes active in holy exercises: and thus, with Peter, we may say to believers, "You have purified your souls, in obeying the truth, through the Spirit." How God may otherwise work, I know not; though I would by no means "limit the Holy One of Israel," as to his designs or operations, in any respect whatever.

      I now dismiss the first position--the reality of divine influence on the souls of men, in effecting the work of salvation. This was my leading object in the present undertaking. The other two points proposed will probably be treated on with more brevity: they must be reserved, however, for another number. PAULINUS.   November, 1827.

      [We make no remarks on the preceding communication until we have received Paulinus, No. II.]--ED. C. B.

Number 9. April 7, 1828, pp. 429-436. On the Influence of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men.--No. II. by Paulinus (Andrew Broaddus), pp. 429-431.

On the Influence of the Holy Spirit in the
Salvation of Men.--By PAULINIIS.
No. II.
Correct views of the office of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men, are essential to our
      knowledge of the christian religion, as also to our enjoyment of it."--Camp. Essays, C. B.

      IN my Essay, No. 1, I endeavored to lay before the reader a plain, concise, and scriptural view of this important subject, so far as it regards the fact, or the reality of a divine influence on the souls of men, in effecting the work of salvation. Deeply impressed with the persuasion that this is a matter of vital consequence, and earnestly hoping that my efforts may be acceptable to those who desire to form "correct views of the office of the Holy Spirit," I cheerfully resume the subject, and proceed to finish the task which I have assigned myself on this occasion.

      Two points remain to be noticed; viz. "Some of the principal effects produced by this divine operation"--and "the high practical import of this truth."

      The effects of divine influence are manifold--according to the manifold need of the sinful subjects of this blessed operation. Man, considered in a moral point of view, is dark in his understanding--perverse in his will--unholy in his affections--impotent in all his spiritual faculties--and ignorant, withal, as to the extent of his own wretchedness. This, it must be acknowledged, is not a comely picture; but a serious view of the state of man as delineated in the Holy Scriptures, will convince us that the coloring is not too gloom for a correct portrait. It would be easy to refer to those parts of the sacred volume which justify this representation; and easy to exemplify the representation to every enlightened mind by an appeal to facts. But this is not the leading object of our present attention; and this matter has been brought to view, by the way, for the purpose of introducing, in an appropriate manner, a notice of those operations and effects which are adapted to meet the case of fallen man. The evidence, however, of this representation will appear, at least indirectly, and by implication, from the effects which are ascribed to the influence of the "spirit of grace." These effects I state as being of the following nature; viz. quickening and--enlightening and convincing--converting--sanctifying--and strengthening. Let us proceed to notice them accordingly.

      The sinner is ignorant of the extent of his own wretchedness, and inattentive to his condition. The spirit of grace, then, is a quickening, awakening spirit. Paul testifies that the quickening influence of God had been experienced by the Ephesian converts, who were once "dead in sins:" Eph. ii. 1-5, and so of the Colossians; ii. 13. It is surely to this divine operation, attending the truth revealed, that we are to ascribe the awakening of a sinner to a sense of his condemned state; while "pierced to the heart," he anxiously inquires, "What must I do to be saved?"

      We next remark, that the unconverted sinner is dark in his understanding; and (suitable to such a condition) the spirit of grace is a spirit of illumination. Conscious of this, David prays, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;"--and Paul, for the Ephesians, that God might give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;--the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, &c.
        By virtue of this illuminating influence, the mind is given to discover,
        through the word of truth, the insufficiency of man, and of man's righteousness--
        "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," as "the way, the truth, and the life"--
        the necessity and beauty of that religion which is held out in the sacred volume.

      The perverseness of the will is another unhappy trait in the character of the unregenerate; and the spirit of grace is a spirit of conversion, to give a new turn to the inclination and choice of the subject. Paul was sent to the Gentiles, "to turn them from the power of Satan to God." The Gentiles, then, needed to be turned, and so do all; for "all have gone out of the way, and there is none that doeth good, no, not one." But we have before seen that Paul was not the efficient cause of their conversion;--for "who is Paul? or who is Apollos?"--'twas God that gave the increase--the desired success to their ministrations. Hence, then, the changing of the perverse will, and turning it to God, is the effect of divine operation on the soul. And this comports with the prayer and the declaration of Ephraim, Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented," &c. May we not say, with propriety, it comports not only with Ephraim's case, but with that of every converted sinner?

      Again we remark, that the unrenewed man is unholy in his passions or affections. His love and hatred--his joy and grief--his hopes and fears, are often excited by improper objects; [429] never, as they should be, by those which have the highest claim to their exercise. Now, the spirit of grace is a sanctifying spirit--a spirit of holiness, to inspire his heart with new principles. Thus, christians are said to have "an unction (or anointing) from the Holy One,"--the Holy Spirit is promised to them that ask it of God;--the earnest of the Spirit is "given in our hearts;" and "the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." 1 John, ii. 20. Luke xi. 13. 2 Cor. i. 22.Eph. v. 9. The affections are now excited and exercised in a new manner. "The love of God" and hatred of sin--"joy in the Holy Spirit" and "godly sorrow"--"hope that maketh not ashamed" and "the fear of the Lord;"--these are the effects of this holy operation. And thus new modelled, the subject of divine grace answers to the apostle's description, 2 Cor. v. 17; "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

      Once more, let it be observed, that the unregenerate man is impotent in all his spiritual faculties, unable in his own strength, to achieve the victory over those formidable foes within and without, which he has to encounter. But the spirit of grace is a spirit of power; by which the favored subject is enabled effectually to wage the war, and finally to triumph. None are fully sensible of the need of the spirit, but they who are engaged in the conflict; and the more they know of themselves, the more they feel the need of this divine power. Hence Paul prayed for the Ephesian converts--"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might, by his spirit in the inner man;" and for the Colossians, in like manner, that they might be "strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power." Though conscious of his own weakness, he felt persuaded that he "could do all things through Christ who strengthened him;" nor is he the only one who testifies, that, to them who have no might, the Lord increases strength." Testimonies to this effect, might be brought in abundance, from the Old Testament saints, as well as from the New;--testimonies which clearly evince that spiritual strength is the effect of an operation from God on the soul. Upon the whole (let me add) the effect of Divine influence on the soul, is, a correspondence of views, disposition, and desire, with the dictates of the word of truth--a responding of the heart to the voice of God in his word; and this too may be considered as (in general,) the most abiding and substantial evidence of the work of God within us. The reader will excuse the repetition of several scripture quotations, which were introduced in my first number; and which it has been found requisite to bring forward in illustration of this part of our subject.

      The importance of this truth, in a practical point of view, comes lastly to be considered. And here I remark, in the first place, that all scriptural truth is of practical import. I readily concur in the excellent sentiment, so frequently insisted on in the Christian Baptist, that the truths of our divine religion, as exhibited in the scriptures, are not mere abstract speculations, but practical principles; they are not dead branches, standing forth in their own nakedness, but living boughs, clothed with leaves and bearing fruit. This being the case, it follows that we are interested in the knowledge of all holy truth. But as I take it for granted, that there is a difference in the degrees of importance to be attached to the truths in the system of revelation; that some are of more vital consequence than others; as some parts of the human system are more necessary to life than others; so it will follow, that the more important any given truth, in its nature and effects, the more requisite will it be, that this truth be known and insisted on, in order to its practical bearing. Now, if what has been advanced, on the nature and effects of divine influence be correct, that truth at once commends itself to us, as of high importance to be known and insisted on. This argument, I must think, is to be admitted as a valid one, but as, to some minds, it may appear rather complex, I will condense the substance of it, and say, in a simple and short manner--that this truth (as we have seen) is inculcated in the Bible;--that, from the nature and effects of divine influence, it appears to be a truth of high importance; and therefore, that it is highly requisite we should hold it forth, in order to practical use.

      This argument is intended merely to prove, that the truth under consideration is of high, practical effect, and the consequent propriety that it should be insisted on: it behooves us to shew, in some instances, wherein this appears to be the case. Two important points here present themselves to our notice. First, this truth is requisite to our own personal interest;--secondly, to the glory of divine grace.

      It is requisite to our own personal interest. We are in a spiritual (or if you please, a moral) point of view, weak and needy creatures;--insufficient, with all the mere external means of aids afforded to us to accomplish the work of our salvation. Hence God has graciously promised to work in us: and the promises and declarations to this effect, and the fact that he does so, all go to prove our need of divine influence.

      Now, if this be our case, surely we, ought to know it--to be deeply persuaded that it is so,--that we may see and feel the necessity of applying "to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" The prayer of faith is an appointed way for obtaining the necessary supply of strength from God: but if we believe that we really do not need this divine supply: or that God will not grant it; then the prayer of faith can have no place;--prayer, in this case, is rendered nugatory and absurd. Here, then, appears a highly important, practical use of the truth under consideration. This is a point of serious consequence, and I ask the readers indulgence and attention a little further. If divine influence be not needed on man's part, nor to be given on God's part--then prayer for spiritual aid from God must be worse than useless--it must be improper;--prayer, in this respect, either for ourselves or for others. And if any public servant in the gospel should attempt to maintain the sentiment, then it is expected we shall no more hear him praying that God would touch the hearts of sinners--that he would awaken them--give them the grace of repentance, &c.

      This truth is important (I add) to the glory of divine grace. This position follows from the above remarks, and a few words here will suffice. A due sense of our dependence, and of the kindness we have received, is necessary to excite our gratitude and praise; and God requires us gratefully to recognize his favor, in the various ways in which he has bestowed it upon us. But if we be persuaded that we do not need this favor, or that God does not grant it to us,--we may say, in this case, of praise, as of prayer, it cannot exist; and the gift of the Spirit's influence [430] must then be dropped from the catalogue of divine favors, when the christian gratefully exclaims, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits!" We have then another highly important, practical use of this truth, viz. as it is a memento to remind us of our obligation, and to excite our praise for that divine agency, without which we should have remained in our sins.

      It is deemed unnecessary to enlarge on this point: but before I close this essay, my attention is demanded to a query which may here be brought forward: "Of what practical use is this subject, in teaching the unregenerate?"

      In the specimens of public, apostolic preaching, with which we are furnished in the New Testament, there is, I readily acknowledge, but little appearance of a design to inculcate this truth on the minds of the impenitent and unbelieving. In direct addresses to the unconverted, it is admitted that this is not the leading object to be presented; and due reflection may enable us to account for it. God's methods of dealing with man are suited not only to man's nature, but to the nature of the case; and it must surely be owned, that to call upon the impenitent and unbelieving to repent and believe, is more appropriate, and better adapted to the end in view, than to set out with informing them that the influence of the Divine Spirit is requisite to awaken and convince them. True it is that such influence is requisite throughout the whole process of religion, but in this truth a careless sinner feels no interest, and until he shall become, in some measure, sensible of his situation, it will be either rejected, or admitted for the purpose of being abused. The more proper and scriptural method of dealing with the unawakened, appears to be--an exhibition of their state as sinners: of the method devised by Infinite Goodness for man's salvation; and the necessity of repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. In addressing sinners, then, in a careless, unawakened state, I am not prepared to say that the subject here treated on would be of any immediate, practical use: but as it forms one important branch of sacred truth, and frequently occurs in the general tenor of apostolic teaching; moreover, as every spiritual requisition involves the necessity of this divine agency, it surely ought to occupy a conspicuous place in our general exhibitions of the economy of divine grace. The awakened sinner, as well as the christian, will thus be furnished with a truth, which, as we have seen, is of deep interest, and of high practical importance.

      The substance of the leading sentiment maintained in these two essays, is, that we are dependant on the influence of the Holy Spirit to render the word of truth effectual to our conversion and final salvation. I am not so sanguine as to imagine that every remark I have made is invulnerable to an attack: or that every quotation from scripture will certainly be found correctly applied, but the great object--the leading point, is, I humbly conceive, satisfactorily established; and this, I would hope, will meet with no opposition from the friends of divine truth.


      P. S. I cannot consent to dismiss this essay, for the press, without dropping a few words further, to guard against any mistaken construction. Be it observed that I am not advocating any of the particular systems of the day;
         that I have said nothing about irresistible operations;
        that I am not here contending for a divine influence,
        of a mere physical nature, detached from revealed truth; t
            hough that, in some cases, may be a fact and,
        though I believe that God, as a free, almighty agent, energizes more in some cases than in others, yet I admit that there dwells in the word of truth a living principle, which, when that word is received, has a never-failing tendency to bring forth the fruit of holiness in heart and life.

      And now, if any part of these essays should be considered materially erroneous, they are open to animadversion. Divine truth is all I seek to establish.

      Note.--I now feel disposed to lend my aid, ere long, in attempting to shake down the mighty Babel of high-toned spiritual authority, to which numbers in the religious world appear to be lamentably subjected. A little volume, which I have lately seen, puts forth claims, which ought to alarm and arouse every friend of the Bible and of religious liberty.



Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit, in the
Salvation of Men.

No. III.
Spiritual Gifts.

DAVID the king and prophet foretold that when Messiah the Lord would ascend to his throne, he would bestow gifts upon men. This passage of Psalms, lviii. 18. Paul (Eph. iv. 8.) applies to our Lord. When he ascended he says, "he gave," and by spiritual gifts qualified "some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." Peter also, on the day of Pentecost, ascribed all the stupendous gifts vouchsafed on that day to the Lord Jesus. "Therefore," says he, (Acts ii. 33.) "being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He hath poured out that which you now see and hear." 

These "distributions of the Holy Spirit," as Macknight renders Heb. ii. 4. issued in the perfect qualification of apostles with "the word of wisdom;" prophets with the "word of knowledge;" evangelists with "tongues and miracles;" pastors with an immediate possession of all the requisites to feeding the flock, and teachers with the means necessary to instructing the novices in all the christian doctrine. 

It may be necessary to remark, that the pastors and teachers mentioned in this passage are to be distinguished from the ordinary bishops or elders of a christian church, inasmuch as the elders or bishops are to be qualified by ordinary means and to be selected by their brethren for the possession of those ordinary attainments mentioned by Paul in his epistles; 

whereas those pastors and teachers given on the ascension of the Lord, were as instantaneously prepared for their offices as Paul was made an apostle; they were not only converted to the christian faith, but, in an instant, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, qualified to teach the whole religion. 

That this is no conjecture, but matter of fact, will appear from Eph. iv. 8-13. Three things are distinctly stated in this context to which we refer the reader, and these three must be distinctly noticed to understand the passage. 

The first is, that these apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, were gifts bestowed by Jesus the Lord on his receiving the throne of the universe. 

The second is, that they were given for an immediate exigency, or for a purpose which the infant state of the church required, that is, says the apostle Paul, (v. 12.) "for the sake of fitting the saints for the work of the ministry, in order to the building of the body of Christ"--(Macknight)--for fitting the converted Jews and gentiles for the ordinary work of the ministry or service requisite to the building of the church. 

The third is, that these supernaturally endowed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, were to continue only for a limited time, marked by an adverb in Greek and English, which always denotes the time how long--mechri, "until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, even to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, that we, the church, be not always composed of nepioi, babes."--

Dr. Macknight in the following words: "These supernaturally endowed teachers are to continue in the church until, being fully instructed by their discourses and writings, we all who compose the church, come through one faith and knowledge of the son of God, to perfect manhood as a church, even to the measure of the stature which when full grown it ought to have: so that the church thus instructed and enlarged, is able to direct and defend itself without supernatural aid."

These three things being noticed, it is evident that these apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, were all supernatural characters, 

for a precise object, and for a limited time; 
that this object was answered by their discourses and writings, and, that this limited time has expired

For the benefit of those of weak understanding it may be observed, that although apostles were appointed before Pentecost, even from the commencement of the Lord's ministry, yet they were not qualified fully for this peculiar work,
until endowed with those supernatural gifts bestowed on Messiah's sitting down on the throne of his Father, after his ascension into heaven; and consequently, it might be said, most justly, that on his ascension, "he gave apostles," as well as "prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers."

It may also be noticed for the benefit of the same class of readers, that while the word of wisdom was given to one--the word of knowledge to another--faith to work miracles to a third; to another the gifts of healing; to another the inworkings of powers, that is ability to produce or work in others the ability of working miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of foreign tongues; to another the interpretation of foreign tongues by one and the same spirit;

yet some individuals possessed more than one of those gifts, and the apostles many, if not all of them; and one in particular, which distinguished them from, and elevated them above all others, viz. the ability of conferring some particular gift by the imposition of their hands.

These gifts differed both in their nature and dignity, and some envied those possessed of the more splendid gifts, which gave rise to the apostle Paul's illustration of these gifts, in the 12th, 13th, and 14th chapters of his first epistle to the Corinthians, where he shows that although there was a great diversity of gifts, yet the matter of those gifts, if I may so speak, was the same; for they were all distributions of the same Spirit; their object was the same, for they were ministries of the same Lord; and their origin or authority was the same, for the same God inworked them in all the spiritual men. And while some were eminent for the word of wisdom, which appears to have been the doctrine of the gospel communicated by inspiration; others for the word of knowledge, or an inspired knowledge of the types and prophecies in the ancient revelations; others for faith which, as a spiritual gift, "led the spiritual men, without hesitation, to attempt the working of miracles;"2 others for the gifts of healing, &c. &c. [95] it was to be remembered that these distributions or these manifestations of the Spirit were given to every member of the church of Corinth; or a manifestation of the Spirit was given to every spiritual man to profit withal, not for his own honor or benefit, but for the good of the brotherhood; which the apostle in the subsequent context compares to a human body composed of many members--no member created for itself, or for its own benefit, but for the service of the whole.

1Cor. 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, 
        to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,
        with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
1Cor. 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Cor. 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf,
        for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may
        adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you
          through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 2 Pet 1:2
1Cor. 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
1Cor. 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
1Cor. 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 

  1. 1Pet. 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 
  2. Rev. 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 
  3. 2Pet. 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

To shew more fully the nature and use of those gifts, it may be necessary to take a view of the church of Corinth, of which church the apostle says, "It came behind in no gift." "You," says he, speaking to the Corinthians, "are enriched with every gift by him, even with all speech and knowledge." "When the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you by the miracles which I wrought and the spiritual gifts I conferred on you, so that you come behind in no gift." In the history of this church, then, we may expect to learn the nature and use of those gifts, to as much advantage as from the history of any other.

Corinth at this time was the metropolis of the province of Achaia, and was as famous as Athens itself for the Grecian arts and sciences. Cicero calls it "totius Græciæ lumen," the light of all Greece; and Florus calls it "Græciæ decus," the ornament of Greece. Refined and intelligent as Corinth was by Grecian sciences and arts, it was, through its luxuries and wealth, the most dissolute, lascivious, and debauched city in its day. Here Paul preached and taught for eighteen months the doctrine of Christ, and converted a very numerous church, composed of some distinguished Jews, but chiefly of the idolatrous and profligate Pagans. Luke tells us, "Many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized." From the history of this church, gathered from the Acts of the Apostles and these epistles, it appears that there was a schism in it, envying, strife, and many irregularities; so that the presence of those gifts did not place the church out of the reach of those human corruptions, but were necessary to the illumination and confirmation of the disciples in the faith which purified the heart by its intrinsic influences. Indeed, we find that even the spiritual men themselves needed the word of exhortation and admonition for their imprudence in the management of those gifts; which at once teaches us that those gifts had no general influence, and were not necessarily productive of the appropriate effects of the saving and sanctifying truth in the minds of the subjects of them. No wonder, then, that the apostle Paul commended the cultivation of brotherly love as a "more excellent way" than the coveting of the most splendid gifts. It is evident from the face of the first epistle, that even among the spiritual men there were blemishes and imprudences that required the castigation of the apostle. The apostle, indeed, settles the contest about the precedency of those gifts, and places them in due subordination to one another. A free and full translation of the 28th verse represents the matter thus: "The chief members of the church are thus to be ranked as God has distinguished them by gifts. First, apostles, who being endowed with the word of wisdom, from them all must receive the knowledge of the gospel. Secondly, the superior prophets, who, possessing the word of knowledge, are qualified to interpret the ancient revelations. Thirdly, teachers, embracing all who boldly declare the doctrine of Christ, illustrate it, and confirm it by miracles. Next, those who communicate to others the spiritual powers. Then, those who possess the gifts of healing diseases. Helpers, who, speaking by inspiration to the edification of the church, are fitted to assist the superior teachers, and to help the faith and joy of others. Directors, who, by the gift of discerning spirits, are fitted to direct the church. Lastly, persons who, having the gift of speaking different kinds of foreign languages, can preach to every nation in its own language." But yet the church can never be composed of all such, no more than the body can be all eye or all ear; for, says the apostle, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets?" No, indeed. The nature of those gifts, however splendid, was evidently only adapted, and their use merely designed, to illustrate and confirm that doctrine, which in its primary and essential results, when received and understood, purges, purifies, elevates, and ennobles the mind of the recipient. Hence the Holy One prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth?"

Again, when the Lord spake of the Holy Spirit, (which was to proceed from his Father and himself, when he should be glorified,) he assured his disciples that this Monitor would testify of him, and would not only conduct them into all truth, but when he is come, "he will convince the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment: concerning sin, because they believe not on me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the Prince of this World is judged. He will glorify me."3 The signs and wonders, and distributions of this Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul declared were the confirmations by which Jesus was glorified in the world, and the testimony of the witnesses rendered credible and omnipotent. So, on Pentecost, the unbelieving Jews were convinced of their sin in not believing that Jesus was Lord Messiah, by the Holy Spirit confirming their word by signs following or accompanying. They, were [96] convinced of his righteousness, or of his being the righteous Messenger of Jehovah, by the proofs the Spirit gave of his having been well received in heaven by his Father; and they were convinced of judgment, because it was evident from the testimony of the apostles, confirmed by those splendid signs of the Holy Spirit, that, by his cross, Jesus had triumphed over principalities and powers, and had vanquished him that had the power of death. Thus the Saviour promised and thus it was performed, and thus the world, infidel Jews and infidel Gentiles, were convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The apostle Paul also declares in that same epistle, chapter xiv. that "foreign languages are for a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers." Now the sign by which the Holy Spirit glorified Jesus on the day of Pentecost, was that of foreign tongues; diverse, or separated tongues of fire, appeared on the heads of the witnesses, and they spake in foreign tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This, then, was such a sign to the unbelieving Jews as to convince three thousand of them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and hence they gladly received the word that announced to them the remission of their sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit. Thus the word came in "demonstration of the Spirit and with power," and their faith rested not on the wisdom of human reason, but on the power of God, thus exhibited with the word.

In our next essay this same topic will be further illustrated. As we promised to investigate this important subject with some degree of attention, we must request the patience of our readers to be put into requisition; and we must also remind them, that our object is to present just what the scriptures teach on this subject, not attempting to support any system of divinity, however canonized or extolled. But in these things every disciple of Christ will suffer no man to judge for him while he is able to read the revelation of God in his own tongue--at least such ought to be his determination.

      [My reply to Paulinus is crowded out of the present number.]

NO. 10. MAY 5, 1828.
Number 10. May 5, 1828, pp. 437-444. Remarks on the Essays of Paulinus by Alexander Campbell, pp. 437-438.

Remarks on the Essays of Paulinus.

      THE readers of the Christian Baptist are, and no doubt will feel themselves indebted to Paulinus for the very forcible, and elegant essays he has furnished on this subject. He has unquestionably thought very closely, examined the scriptures very fully, and has arranged and exhibited the testimonies to so methodical and forcible a manner, as to give the greatest and best possible effect to his sentiments on this theme. Few of the intelligent readers of this work will dissent from his conclusion of the whole matter, viz. p. 431--"The substance of the leading sentiment maintained in these two essays, is, that we are dependant on the influence of the Holy Spirit to render the word effectual to our conversion and final salvation. I am not so sanguine as to imagine that every remark I have made is invulnerable to an attack, or that every quotation from scripture will be found correctly applied; but the great object, the leading point is, I humbly conceive, satisfactorily established; and this, I would hope, will meet with no opposition from the friends of divine truth."

      Although it might appear that some of the sentences extracted from different parts of the sacred volume, were not originally intended to prove the position which was before the mind of Paulinus, yet still the conclusions to which he has come will be very generally embraced as declarative of sentiments styled evangelical. The delicate point is very tenderly handled; and indeed it requires great caution lest this system be too much reprobated, in showing why the apostles did not contend for such a position, nor exhibit themselves in the descriptive and explanatory style, when preaching repentance and salvation to their auditors. Paulinus explains the reasons why they did not so preach to sinners, and very justly concludes that, "this was not the leading object to be presented."

      There is one point which I should like to have seen occupy some place in the systems of this day with a reference to this subject, viz. As respects the actual possibility of salvation to those without the Bible--whether there is any advantage at all, as respects salvation, to those who have the Bible over those who have it not. Or is not a Virginian with the Bible, in exactly as hopeless a condition as a Hindoo without it, unless some special influence be exerted upon him? Or, for the sake of variety--can not, or does not, the Holy Spirit by its impressions or operations, make salvation as easy and as accessible to a Japanese without any written revelation as to a Virginian with all the sacred books?

      We are apt, in interpreting the holy scriptures, to suppose that a hundred things said of "sinners," of "natural men," of "children of wrath," of "the dead," of "those without strength," were spoken of persons who were circumstanced as the inhabitants of the British Isles, or the citizens of the United States: never taking thought that there are essential differences between those without, and those under, the revelation of God. This single fact, clearly apprehended, is like applying the pruning hook to the vine: it lops off a great many quotations and applications of scripture which are thought to bear upon the sons and daughters, the brothers and sisters of christians, as if they were born in tribes, and nations, where the name of Jesus has not been heard.

      I have long felt an unconquerable repugnance to that system of religion which destroys the use of the holy scriptures to unconverted or unregenerate men. The doctrine of physical and irresistible energies of God's Spirit upon unbelieving men, as absolutely and indispensably prerequisite to their deriving any religious benefit from all that is written on the sacred pages; from all that is spoken by christian tongues, from all prayer and supplication addressed to the Father of all; from all and every moral or religious means, is, in my view, at war with Moses and the prophets; with the Lord Jesus, and the apostles; with the whole Bible; with all rational analogies; with all the faculties yet belonging to the human race; with all and every thing, natural, moral, and religious, except the sheer inoperative dogma of some indoctrinated fatalist. I do therefore, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, oppose every proposition, position, and sentiment, which either grows out of, is connected with, or looks towards, the establishment of such a cold, lifeless, and inoperative system: believing it to be entirely unauthorized by the Holy Spirit, and that it is the most genuine wresting of the scriptures to the destruction of thousands, who are now, as they have been for centuries, standing all the day idle: some running into all manner of excess; and others looking with aching hearts for some irresistible wind, afflatus, or spirit, to carry them, not literally, but figuratively, as Elijah was taken, in a whirlwind to heaven.

      I see some systems tinctured with this principle, which disavow it, and I have felt a good measure of it in all these theories about the Holy Spirit's operations upon unconverted men. If you, brother Paulinus, discard the doctrine of irresistible operations upon unbelievers, you are happily safe from the systems which I have been so long combating and endeavoring to expose in my various essays on the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men. I have contended that the Spirit of God has done something which renders unbelief and unregeneracy a sin in all men who have access to the Bible; independent of any thing to be done; and I have taught that it will do something for those, who, from what it has done, are immersed into the faith of the gospel.

      What it has done, has given strength to the weak, life to the dead, and reclaimed enemies to God--what it will do, is to beget a holy spirit and temper, to fill with peace and joy and righteousness, those who believe. I will not therefore, with the speculative philosopher, make what the Spirit of God has already done of none effect, to make way for something yet to be done. Nor will I ascribe every thing to what the Spirit has done, in the inditing and confirming the testimony, to the exclusion of any influence upon the minds who, through faith, have been immersed for the remission of sins and this heavenly gift. Thus the Scriptures encourage all to activities. The whole world with whom this Spirit of God strives in the written word now as it once did in the mouths of the prophets and apostles, have no excuse for their infidelity or unregeneracy--and those who have put on the Lord Jesus are invited to abound in all the joys, consolations, and purifying influences of this Holy Spirit. Such is the operative system of supernatural truth--the scope of the practical principles of the Bible.

      Those who have contended for physical and irresistible influences, have found themselves at variance with the manifest scope and bearing of a large portion of the apostolic addresses to their auditors. They, to prevent or to obviate [437] the charge of making the word of God of none effect by their traditions, have invented a curious doctrine of "common operations," contradistinguished from the special and, like the pious Mr. Baxter, have attempted to reconcile the jarring systems by making it possible for all gospel hearers to be saved and certain for some--possible for all who did not resist the common operations; and certain for all upon whom the irresistible or special operations were employed. This is a lame expedient. Their doctrine of common operations is as unscriptural, as their special operation is subversive of all praise or blame, of all virtue and vice, of all excellency in faith, or criminality in unbelief. The Bible doctrine requires not the aid of either system.

      Let no man say that in explicitly opposing both systems, we argue that men are converted without the Holy Spirit. By no means. The Spirit of God works upon the human mind as well as dwells in it.

It works by the record which God has given of his Son, as the spirit works by the body of a man--clothed with this record, it enlightens, convinces, and converts men. It is never once said to work in any other way upon the minds of men since it consummated the record. Even in convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, in the age of miracles, it did this in words concerning Jesus. When men hearken to the word, they hear the Spirit of God; when they will not hearken, they resist the Spirit of God. It makes every man who hears the word able to believe, by adapting its testimony to his capacity, so that his unbelief is wholly his own sin, owing to aversion, and not to incapacity.

      Men are not made Christians as Balaam's ass was made to speak, or the whale to vomit Jonah upon dry ground.

Yet still they are enabled to believe by the Holy Spirit, and without its aid no man ever could have believed in Jesus, as God's own Son.

In one sentence all men who hear the Spirit of God, (and every man born in these United States may hear this life giving Spirit,) have all natural inability removed, and faith is just as easy to them as it is to hear. Salvation, or the heavenly inheritance, "is of faith, that it might be by grace or favor," says an apostle. I rejoice to know that it is just as easy to believe and be saved as it is to hear or see.

That the Spirit of the living God has made it so to every man, and so works upon all men who read or hear the record which God has given of his Son as to remove all natural incapacity out of the way, is just what makes the record of Jesus glad tidings of great joy to all people. And nothing less than the views above given make the gospel glad tidings of great joy to every body. There is not a phrase, word, or syllable in the New Testament that is in the least irreconcilable with this simple view of the Gospel. Where the Spirit of God is not heard, men are without strength, and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Where it is heard, every person is empowered to believe.

And if any man ask me why all do not believe, I will tell him, it is because all do not wish to believe: or if they say they wish to believe, I will tell him then, "They believe not because they are not of the sheep of Christ." And if he ask the who are the sheep of Christ, I will tell him, They who follow him: for the reason why disciples are called sheep, is because they hear and follow the Master's voice. But this matter will be further developed in the subsequent essay. And in the mean time I will only add, that while many agree with this view of the Gospel on one side, they take a view of it on another side incompatible with the nature of grace or favor altogether, by representing the whole matter as dependant upon some will subduing operation as physical as the creation of light--without which it is all a dead letter.



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