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Chapter V.

The peculiar actions of the Holy Spirit in this business.

Thirdly, In few words we may consider the actions of that agent, who in order is the third in that blessed One, whose all is the whole, the Holy Spirit, who is evidently concurring, in his own distinct operation, to all the several chief or grand parts of this work. We may refer them to three heads:—

First, The incarnation of the Son, with his plenary assistance in the course of his conversation whilst he dwelt amongst us; for his mother was found ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα, with child, “to have conceived in her womb of the Holy Ghost,” Matt. i. 18. If you ask, with Mary, how that could be? the angel resolves both her and us, as far as it is lawful for us to be acquainted with these mysterious things: Luke i. 35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” It was an overshadowing power in the Spirit: so called by an allusion taken from fowls that cover their eggs, that so by their warmth young may be hatched; for by the sole power of the Spirit was this conception, who did “incubare fœtui,” as in the beginning of the world. Now, in process, as this child was conceived by the power, so he was filled with the Spirit, and “waxed strong” in it, Luke i. 80; until, having received a fulness thereof, and not by any limited measure, in the gifts and graces of it, he was thoroughly furnished and fitted for his great undertaking.

Secondly, In his oblation, or passion (for they are both the same, with several respects, — one to what he suffered, the other to what he did with, by, and under those sufferings), how “by the Eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God,” Heb. ix. 14: whether it be meant of the offering himself a bloody sacrifice on the cross, or his presentation of himself continually before his Father, — it is by the Eternal Spirit. The willing offering himself through that Spirit was the eternal fire under this sacrifice, which made it acceptable unto God. That which some contend, that by the eternal Spirit is here meant our Saviour’s own Deity, I see no great ground for. Some Greek and Latin copies read, not, as we commonly, Πνεύματος αἰωνίου, but Πνεύματος ἁγίου, and so the doubt is quite removed: and I see no reason why he may not as well be said to offer himself through the Holy Spirit, as to be “declared to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,” as Rom. i. 4; as also to be “quickened by the Spirit,” 1 Pet. iii. 18. The working of the Spirit was required as well in his oblation as resurrection, in his dying, as quickening.

179Thirdly, In his resurrection; of which the apostle, Rom. viii. 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

And thus have we discovered the blessed agents and undertakers in this work their several actions and orderly concurrence unto the whole; which, though they may be thus distinguished, yet they are not so divided but that every one must be ascribed to the whole nature, whereof each person is “in solidum” partaker. And as they begin it, so they will jointly carry along the application of it unto its ultimate issue and accomplishment; for we must “give thanks to the Father, which hath made us meet” (that is, by his Spirit) “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” Col. i. 12, 13.

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