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§ 1. His Nature.
The words רוּהַ and πνεῦμα are used in different senses, both literal and figurative, in the sacred Scriptures. They properly mean wind, as when our Lord says, “The πνεῦμα bloweth where it listeth;” then any invisible power; then immaterial, invisible agents, as the soul and angels; then God himself, who is said to be a Spirit, to express his nature as an immaterial, intelligent being; and finally, the Third Person of the Trinity is called “The Spirit” by way of eminence, probably, for two reasons. First, because He is the power or efficiency of God, i.e., the person through whom the efficiency of God is directly exercised; and secondly, to express his relation to the other persons of the Trinity. As Father and Son are terms expressive of relation, it is natural to infer that the word Spirit is to be understood in the same way. The Son is called the Word, as the revealer or image of God, and the Third Person is called Spirit as his breath or power. He is also predominantly called the Holy Spirit, to indicate both his nature and operations. He is absolutely holy in his own nature, and the cause of holiness in all creatures. For the same reason He is called the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Wisdom, of Peace, of Love, and of Glory.
A. His Personality.
The two points to be considered in reference to this subject, are, first the nature, and second the office or work of the Holy Spirit. With regard to his nature, is He a person or a mere power? and if a person, is He created or divine, finite or infinite? The personality of the Spirit has been the faith of the Church from the beginning. It had few opponents even in the chaotic period of theology and in modern times has been denied by none but Socinians, Arians, and Sabellians. Before considering the direct proof of the Church doctrine that the Holy Spirit is a person, it may be well to remark, that the terms “The Spirit,” “The Spirit of God,” “The Holy Sprit,” and when God speaks, “My Spirit,” or, when God is spoken of “His Spirit,” occur in all parts of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. These and equivalent terms are evidently to be understood in the same sense throughout the Scriptures. If the Spirit of God which moved on the face of the waters, which strove with the antediluvians, which came upon Moses, which gave skill to artisans, and which inspired the prophets, is the power of God; then the Spirit which came upon the Apostles, which Christ promised to send as a comforter and advocate, and to which the instruction, sanctification, and guidance of the people of God are referred, must also be the power of God. But if the Spirit is clearly revealed to be a person in the later parts of Scripture, it is plain that the earlier portions must be understood in the same way. One part of the Bible, and much less one or a few passages must not be taken by themselves, and receive any interpretation which the isolated words may bear, but Scripture must interpret Scripture. Another obvious remark on this subject is, that the Spirit of God is equally prominent in all parts of the word of God. His intervention does not occur on rare occasions, as the appearance of angels, or the Theophanies, of which mention is made here and there in the sacred volume; but He is represented as everywhere present and everywhere operative. We might as well strike from the Bible the name and doctrine of God, as the name and office of the Spirit. In the New Testament alone He is mentioned not far from three hundred times. It is not only, however, merely the frequency with which the Spirit is mentioned, and the prominence given to his person and work, but the multiplied and interesting relations in which He is represented as standing to the people of God, the importance and number of his gifts, and the absolute dependence of the believer and of the Church upon Him for spiritual and eternal life, which render the doctrine of the Holy Ghost absolutely fundamental to the gospel. The work of the Spirit in applying the redemption of Christ is represented to be as essential as that redemption itself. It is therefore indispensable that we should know what the Bible teaches concerning the Holy Ghost, both as to his nature and office.
Proof of his Personality.
The Scriptures clearly teach that He is a person. Personality includes intelligence, will, and individual subsistence. If, therefore, it can be proved that all these are attributed to the Spirit, it is thereby proved that He is a person. It will not be necessary or advisable to separate the proofs of these several points, and cite passages which ascribe to Him intelligence; and then others which attribute to Him will; and still others to prove his individual subsistence, because all these are often included in one and the same passage; and arguments which prove the one, in many cases prove also the others.
1. The first argument for the personality of the Holy Spirit is derived from the use of the personal pronouns in relation to Him. A person is that which, when speaking, says I; when addressed, is called thou; and when spoken of, is called he, or him. It is indeed admitted that there is such a rhetorical figure as personification; that inanimate or irrational beings, or sentiments, or attributes, may be introduced as speaking, or addressed as persons. But this creates no difficulty. The cases of personification are such as do not, except in rare instances, admit of any doubt. The fact that men sometimes apostrophize the heavens, or the elements, gives no pretext for explaining as personification all the passages in which God or Christ is introduced as a person. So also with regard to the Holy Spirit. He is introduced as a person so often, not merely in poetic or excited discourse, but in simple narrative, and in didactic instructions; and his personality is sustained by so many collateral proofs, that to explain the use of the personal pronouns in relation to Him on the principle of personification, is to do violence to all the rules of interpretation. Thus in Acts xiii. 2, “The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.” Our Lord says (John xv. 26), “When the Comforter (ὁ παράκλητος) is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth (τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας) which (ὅ) proceedeth from the Father, He (ἐκεῖνος) shall testify of me.” The use of the masculine pronoun He instead of it, shows that the Spirit is a person. It may indeed be said that as παράκλητος is masculine, the pronoun referring to it must of course be in the same gender. But as the explanatory words τὸ πνεῦμα intervene, to which the neuter ὅ refers, the following pronoun would naturally be in the neuter, if the subject spoken of, the πνεῦμα, were not a person. In the following chapter (John xvi. 13, 14) there is no ground for this objection. It is there said, “When He (evkei/noj), the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak, and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me (ἐκεῖνος ἐμὲ δοξάσει): for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Here there is no possibility of accounting for the use of the personal pronoun He (ἐκεῖνος) on any other ground than the personality of the Spirit.
2. We stand in relations to the Holy Spirit which we can sustain only to a person. He is the object of our faith. We believe on the Holy Ghost. This faith we profess in baptism. We are baptized not only in the name of the Father and of the Son, but also of the Holy Ghost. The very association of the Spirit in such a connection, with the Father and the Son, as they are admitted to be distinct persons, proves that the Spirit also is a person. Besides the use of the word εἰς τὸ ὄνομα, unto the name, admits of no other explanation. By baptism we profess to acknowledge the Spirit as we acknowledge the Father and the Son, and we bind ourselves to the one as well as to the others. If when the Apostle tells the Corinthians that they were not baptized εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Παῦλου, and when he says that the Hebrews were baptized unto Moses, he means that the Corinthians were not, and that the Hebrews were made the disciples, the one of Paul and the others of Moses; then when we are baptized unto the name of the Spirit, the meaning is that in baptism we profess to be his disciples; we bind ourselves to receive his instructions, and to submit to his control. We stand in the same relation to Him as to the Father and to the Son; we acknowledge Him to be a person as distinctly as we acknowledge the personality of the Son, or of the Father. Christians not only profess to believe on the Holy Ghost, but they are also the recipients of his gifts. He is to them an object of prayer. In the apostolic benediction, the grace of Christ, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, are solemnly invoked. We pray to the Spirit for the communication of Himself to us, that He may, according to the promise of our Lord, dwell in us, as we pray to Christ that we may be the objects of his unmerited love. Accordingly we are exhorted not “to sin against,” “not to resist,” not “to grieve” the Holy Spirit. He is represented, therefore, as a person who can be the object of our acts; whom we may please or offend; with whom we may have communion, i.e., personal intercourse; who can love and be loved; who can say “thou” to us; and whom we can invoke in every time of need.
3. The Spirit also sustains relations to us, and performs offices which none but a person can sustain or perform. He is our teacher, sanctifier, comforter, and guide. He governs every believer who is led by the Spirit, and the whole Church. He calls as He called Barnabas and Saul, to the work of the ministry, or to some special field of labour. Pastors or bishops are made overseers by the Holy Ghost.
4. In the exercise of these and other functions, personal acts are constantly attributed to the Spirit in the Bible; that is, such acts as imply intelligence, will, and activity or power. The Spirit searches, selects, reveals, and reproves. We often read that “The Spirit said.” (Acts xiii. 2; xxi. 11; 1 Tim. iv. 1, etc., etc.) This is so constantly done, that the Spirit appears as a personal agent from one end of the Scriptures to the other, so that his personality is beyond dispute. The only possible question is whether He is a distinct person from the Father. But of this there can be no reasonable doubt, as He is said to be the Spirit of God and the Spirit which is of God (ἐκ θεοῦ);as He is distinguished from the Father in the forms of baptism and benediction; as He proceeds from the Father; and as He is promised, sent, and given by the Father. So that to confound the Holy Spirit with God would be to render the Scriptures unintelligible.
5. All the elements of personality, namely, intelligence, will, and individual subsistence, are not only involved in all that is thus revealed concerning the relation in which the Spirit stands to us and that which we sustain to Him, but they are all distinctly attributed to Him. The Spirit is said to know, to will, and to act. He searches, or knows all things, even the deep things of God. No man knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. ii. 10, 12.) He distributes “to every man severally as he will.” (1 Cor. xii. 11.) His individual subsistence is involved in his being an agent, and in his being the object on which the activity of others terminates. If He can be loved, reverenced, and obeyed, or offended and sinned against, He must be a person.
6. The personal manifestations of the Spirit, when He descended on Christ after his baptism, and upon the Apostles at the day of Pentecost, of necessity involve his personal subsistence. It was not any attribute of God, nor his mere efficiency, but God himself, that was manifested in the burning bush, in the fire and clouds on Mount Sinai, in the pillar which guided the Israelites through the wilderness, and in the glory which dwelt in the Tabernacle and in the Temple.
7. The people of God have always regarded the Holy Spirit as a person. They have looked to Him for instruction, sanctification, direction, and comfort. This is part of their religion. Christianity (subjectively considered) would not be what it is without this sense of dependence on the Spirit, and this love and reverence for his person. All the liturgies, prayers, and praises of the Church, are filled with appeals and addresses to the Holy Ghost. This is a fact which admits of no rational solution if the Scriptures do not really teach that the Spirit is a distinct person. The rule Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, is held by Protestants as well as by Romanists. It is not to the authority of general consent as an evidence of truth, that Protestants object, but to the applications made of it by the Papal Church, and to the principle on which that authority is made to rest. All Protestants admit that true believers in every age and country have one faith, as well as one God and one Lord.
B. Divinity of the Holy Spirit.
On this subject there has been little dispute in the Church. The Spirit is so prominently presented in the Bible as possessing divine attributes, and exercising divine prerogatives, that since the fourth century his true divinity has never been denied by those who admit his personality.
1. In the Old Testament, all that is said of Jehovah is said of the Spirit of Jehovah; and therefore, if the latter is not a mere periphrase for the former, he must of necessity be divine. The expressions, Jehovah said, and, the Spirit said, are constantly interchanged; and the acts of the Spirit are said to be acts of God.
2. In the New Testament, the language of Jehovah is quoted as the language of the Spirit. In Is. vi. 9, it is written, Jehovah said, “Go and tell this people,” etc. This passage is thus quoted by Paul, Acts xxviii. 25, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet,” etc. In Jeremiah xxxi. 31, 33, 34, it is said, “Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel;” which is quoted by the Apostle in Heb. x. 15, saying, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts,” etc. Thus constantly the language of God is quoted as the language of the Holy Ghost. The prophets were the messengers of God; they uttered his words, delivered his commands, pronounced his threatenings, and announced his promises, because they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. They were the organs of God, because they were the organs of the Spirit. The Spirit, therefore, must be God.
3. In the New Testament the same mode of representation is continued. Believers are the temple of God, because the Spirit dwells in them. Eph. ii. 22: Ye are “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” 1 Cor. vi. 19: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?” In Rom. viii. 9, 10, the indwelling of Christ is said to be the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, and that is said to be the indwelling of the Spirit of God. In Acts v. 1-4, Ananias is said to have lied unto God because he lied against the Holy Ghost.
4. Our Lord and his Apostles constantly speak of the Holy Spirit as possessing all divine perfections. Christ says, “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Matt. xii. 31.) The unpardonable sin, then, is speaking against the Holy Ghost. This could not be unless the Holy Ghost were God. The Apostle, in 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, says that the Spirit knows all things, even the deep things (the most secret purposes) of God. His knowledge is commensurate with the knowledge of God. He knows the things of God as the spirit of a man knows the things of a man. The consciousness of God is the consciousness of the Spirit. The Psalmist teaches us that the Spirit is omnipresent and everywhere efficient. “Whither,” he asks, “shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Ps. cxxxix. 7.) The presence of the Spirit is the presence of God. The same idea is expressed by the prophet when he says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith Jehovah.” (Jer. xxiii. 24.)
5. The works of the Spirit are the works of God. He fashioned the world. (Gen. i. 2.) He regenerates the soul: to be born of the Spirit is to be born of God. He is the source of all knowledge; the giver of inspiration; the teacher, the guide, the sanctifier, and the comforter of the Church in all ages. He fashions our bodies; He formed the body of Christ, as a fit habitation for the fulness of the Godhead; and He is to quicken our mortal bodies. (Rom. viii. 11.)
6. He is therefore presented in the Scriptures as the proper object of worship, not only in the formula of baptism and in the apostolic benediction, which bring the doctrine of the Trinity into constant remembrance as the fundamental truth of our religion, but abo in the constant requirement that we look to Him and depend upon Him for all spiritual good, and reverence and obey Him as our divine teacher and sanctifier.
Relation of the Spirit to the Father and to the Son.
The relation of the Spirit to the other persons of the Trinity has been stated before. (1.) He is the same in substance and equal in power and glory. (2.) He is subordinate to the Father and Son, as to his mode of subsistence and operation, as He is said to be of the Father and of the Son; He is sent by them, and they operate through Him. (3.) He bears the same relation to the Father as to the Son; as He is said to be of the one as well as of the other, and He is given by the Son as well as by the Father. (4.) His eternal relation to the other persons of the Trinity is indicated by the word Spirit, and by its being said that he is ἐκ τοῖ θεοῦ, out of God, i.e., God is the source whence the Spirit is said to proceed.
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