« AnteriorContinuar »
Having premised these things, I now proceed directly to take notice of those things in which true religious affections are distinguished from false.
Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, arise from those influences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual, supernatural, and divine.
I will explain what I mean by these terms, whence will appear their use to distinguish between those affections which are spiritual, and those which are not so. We find that true saints, or those persons who are sanctified by the Spirit of God, are in the NewTestament called spiritual persons. And their being spiritual is spoken of as their peculiar character, and that wherein they are distinguished from those who are not sanctified. This is evident, because those who are spiritual are set in opposition to natural men, and carnal men. Thus the spiritual man and the natural man are set in opposition one to another, 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is SPIRITUAL, judgeth all things. The scripture explains itself to mean an ungodly man, or one that has no grace by a natural man: thus the apostle Jude, speaking of certain ungodly men, that had crept in unawares among the saints, (ver. 4. of his epistle), says, ver. 19. These are sensual, having not the Spirit. This the apostle gives as a reason why they behaved themselves in such a wicked manner as he had described. Here the word xx translated sensual, is the very same, which in 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15, is translated natural. In like manner, in the continuation of the same discourse, spiritual men are opposed to carnal men; which the connexion plainly shews mean the same, as spiritual men and natural men, in the foregoing verses; And I, brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto SPIRITUAL, but as unto CARNAL; i. e. as in a great measure unsanctified. For therefore, if by natural and carnal, in these texts, be intended unsanctified, then doubtless by spiritual, which is opposed thereto, is meant sanctified and gracious. And as the saints are called spiritual in scripture, so we also find that there are certain properties, qualities, and principles, that have the same epithet given them. So we read of a spiritual mind, Rom.
"That by carnal the apostle means corrupt and unsanctified, in abundantly evident, by Rom. vii. 25. and viii. 1, 4-12, 13. Gal. v. 16. to the end. Col. ii. 18.
viii. 6. 7. of spiritual wisdom, Col. i. 9. and of spiritual blessings, Eph. i. 3.
Now it may be observed, that the epithet spiritual, in these and other parallel texts of the New Testament, is not used to signify any relation of persons or things to the spirit or soul of man, as the spiritual part of man, in opposition to the body, or material part. Qualities are not said to be spiritual, because they have their seat in the soul, and not in the body: for there are some properties that the scripture calls carnal or fleshly, which have their seat as much in the soul, as those properties that are called spiritual. Thus pride and self-righteousness, and a man's trusting to his own wisdom, the apostle calls fleshly, Col. ii. 18. Nor are things called spiritual, because they are conversant about those things that are immaterial, and not corporeal. For so was the wisdom of the wise men, and princes of this world, conversant about spirits, and immaterial beings; yet the apostle speaks of them as natural men, totally ignorant of those things that are spiritual, 2 Cor. chap. ii. But it is with relation to the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, that persons or things are termed spiritual, in the New Testament. Spirit, as the word is used to signify the third person in the Trinity, is the substantive, of which is formed the adjective spiritual in the holy scriptures. Thus Christians are called spiritual persons, because they are born of the Spirit, and because of the indwelling and holy influences of the Spirit of God in them. And things are called spiritual as related to the Spirit of God; 1 Cor. ii. 13, 14. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Here the apostle himself expressly signifies, that by spiritual things, he means the things of the Spirit of God, and things which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The same is yet more abundantly apparent by viewing the whole context. Again, Rom. viii. 6. To be carnally minded, is death; but to be SPIRITUALLY MINDED, is life and peace. The apostle explains what he means by being carnally and spiritually minded, in what follows in the 9th verse, and shews that by being spiritually minded he means, having the indwelling and holy influences of the Spirit of God in the heart. But ye are not in the flesh, but IN THE SPIRIT, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. The same is evident by all the context. But time would fail to produce all the evidence of this in the New Testament.
And it must be here observed, that although it is with relation to the Spirit of God and his influences, that persons and things are called spiritual; yet not all those persons who are subject to any
kind of influence of the Spirit of God, are ordinarily called so in the New Testament. They who have only the common influences of God's Spirit, are not so called, in the places cited above. It has been already proved, that by spiritual men is meant godly men, in opposition to natural, carnal, and unsanctified men. And it is most plain, that the apostle by spiritually minded, Rom. viii. 6. means graciously minded. And though the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which natural men might have, are sometimes called spiritual, because they are from the Spirit; yet natural men, whatever gifts of the Spirit they had, were not, in the usual language of the New Testament, called spiritual persons. For it was not by men's having the gifts, but the virtues of the Spirit, that they are called spiritual, as is apparent, by Gal. vi. 1. Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Meekness is one of those virtues which the apostle had just spoken of in the verses next preceding, shewing what are the fruits of the Spirit. Those qualifications, therefore, are said to be spiritual in the language of the New Testament, which are truly gracious, and peculiar to the saints.
Thus, when we read of spiritual wisdom and understandingas in Col. i. 9. We desire that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding— hereby is intended that wisdom which is gracious, and from the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God. For, doubtless, by spiritual wisdom, is meant that which is opposite to what the scripture calls natural wisdom; as the spiritual man is opposed to the natural man. And therefore spiritual wisdom is doubtless the same with that wisdom which is from above, Jam. iii. 17. The wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, &c. for this the apostle opposes to natural wisdom, ver. 15. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual-the last word in the original is the same that is translated natural, in 1 Cor. ii. 14.
So that although natural men may be the subjects of many influences of the Spirit of God, as is evident by many scripturest, yet they are not in the sense of the scripture, spiritual persons; neither are any of those effects, common gifts, qualities, or affections, that are from the influence of the Spirit of God upon them, called spiritual things. The great difference lies in these two things.
1. The Spirit of God is given to the true saints to dwell in them, as his proper lasting abode; and to influence their hearts,
+ As Numb. xxiv. 2. 1 Sam. x. 10. and xi. 6, and xvi. 14. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 3. Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. and many others.
as a principle of new nature, or as a divine supernatural spring of life and action. The scriptures represent the Holy Spirit, not only as moving, and occasionally influencing the saints, but as dwelling in them as his temple, his proper abode, and everlasting dwelling-place, (1 Cor. iii. 16. 2 Cor. vi. 16. John xiv. 16, 17.) And he is represented as being there so united to the faculties of the soul, that he becomes there a principle or spring of a new nature and life.
So the saints are said to live by Christ living in them, Gal. ii. Christ by his spirit not only is in them, but lives in them; they live by his life. His Spirit is united to them, as a principle of life in them. They not only drink living water, but this living water becomes a well or fountain of water, in the soul, springing up into spiritual and everlasting life, John iv. 14. and thus becomes a principle of life in them-this living water, the evangelist himself explains to intend the Spirit of God, (chap. vii. 38, 39.) The light of the Sun of righteousness does not only shine upon them, but is so communicated to them that they shine also, and become little images of that sun which shines upon them. The sap of the true wine is not only conveyed into them, as the sap of a tree may be conveyed into a vessel, but is conveyed as sap is from a tree into one of its living branches, where it becomes a principle of life. The Spirit of God being thus communicated and united to the saints, they are from thence properly denominated from it, and are called spiritual.
On the other hand, though the Spirit of God may many ways influence natural men, yet because it is not thus communicated to them, as an indwelling principle, they do not derive any denomination or character from it; for there being no union, it is not their own. The light may shine upon a body that is very dark or black; and though that body be the subject of the light, yet, because the light becomes no principle of light to it, so as to cause the body to shine, hence that body does not properly receive its denomination from it, so as to be called a lightsome body. So the Spirit of God acting upon the soul only, without communicating itself to be an active principle in it, cannot denominate it spiritual. A body that continues black, may be said not to have light, though the light shines upon it: so natural men are said not to have the Spirit, Jude 19. sensual or natural, as the word is elsewhere rendered, having not the Spirit.
2. Another reason why the saints and their virtues are called spiritual, (and which is the principal thing,) is, that the Spirit of God, dwelling as a vital principle in their souls, produces there those effects wherein he exerts and communicates himself in his own proper nature. Holiness is the nature of the Spirit of God, therefore he is called in scripture the Holy Ghost. Holiness,
which is as it were the beauty and sweetness of the divine nature, is as much the proper nature of the Holy Spirit, as heat is the nature of fire, or sweetness was the nature of that holy anointing oil, which was the principal type of the Holy Ghost in the Mosaic dispensation. Yea, I may rather say, that holiness is as much the proper nature of the Holy Ghost, as sweetness was the nature of the sweet odour of that ointment. The Spirit of God so dwells in the hearts of the saints, that he there, as a seed or spring of life, exerts and communicates himself, in this his sweet and divine nature. He makes the soul a partaker of God's beauty and Christ's joy, so that the saint has truly fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, in thus having the communion or participation of the Holy Ghost. The grace which is in the hearts of the saints, is of the same nature with the divine holiness, though infinitely less in degree; as the brightness in a diamond which the sun shines upon, is of the same nature with the brightness of the sun, but only that it is as nothing to it in degree. Therefore Christ says, John iii. 6. That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit; i. e. the grace that is begotten in the hearts of the saints, is something of the same nature with that Spirit, and so is properly called a spiritual nature; after the same manner as that which is born of the flesh is flesh, or that which is born of corrupt nature, is corrupt nature.
But the Spirit of God never influences the minds of natural men after this manner. Though he may influence them many ways, yet he never, in any of his influences, communicates himself to them in his own proper nature. Indeed he never acts disagreeably to his nature, either on the minds of saints or sinners: but the Spirit of God may act upon men agreeably to his own nature, and not exert his proper nature in the acts and exercises of their minds. The Spirit of God may act so, that his actions may be agreeable to his nature, and yet may not at all communicate himself in his proper nature, in the effect of that action. Thus, for instance, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and there was nothing disagreeable to his nature in that action; but yet he did not at all communicate himself in that action, there was nothing of the proper nature of the Holy Spirit in that motion of the waters. And so he may act upon the minds of men many ways, and not communicate himself any more than when he acts on inanimate things.
Thus, not only the manner of the Spirit's relation to the subject of his operations, is different; but the influence and operation itself, and the effect wrought exceeding different. So that not only the persons are called spiritual, as having the Spirit of God dwelling in them, but those qualifications, affections, and experiences that are wrought in them by the Spirit, are also spiritual.