by Theophilus Polwhele
Of Quenching the Spirit: the evil of it, in respect both of its causes and effects discovered.
This text has been initially updated from EEBO-TCP by Project Puritas (Logan West, with David Jonescue and Alex Sarrouf.) www.puritansearch.org Further revision and editing done by Monergism. Copyright Monergism via universal text usage permission from the above.
It is a most glorious truth, though considered but by a few, that Believers have, or may have, distinct communion with the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. This is attested by the finger of God, and solemnly owned in the first and best age of Christians: Truly our fellowship is with the father, and with his son Jesus Christ. 1 Joh. 1.3.
And as Believers have fellowship with the sacred persons of the Godhead, so there are transgressions which seem more to entrench on one person, than on another: Concerning which, the Holy Ghost is not silent. Yea, I may safely add, though every sin shall have a due punishment, yet those sins which are committed against the Spirit, the third Person, seem to have a more scarlet die, and deeper tincture of provocation, than other sins; and therefore the Holy Ghost bears witness in the mouth of Jesus Christ; that though every blasphemy against the Son of man, shall be forgiven, yet there are some affronts against the Holy Ghost, that shall never. Mat. 12.31. Undoubtedly the Stoics Opinion of the equality of all sin, is to be exploded as Antiscriptural. Some sins are as Camels, others as Moats, others as Beams, Mat. 7.3. and such are Camels and Beams, as grieve, vex, and quench the Spirit of God.
I remember what was said of old, Periculosum est de Deo etiam vera dicere: and indeed there is some kind of fear upon my spirit to enter on comparisons, betwixt Father, Son, and Spirit: Yet we may safely speak by Rule, and affirm, That the company of the Spirit is more expedient for Believers, whilst dwelling in their earthly Tabernacles, than is the bodily presence of Jesus Christ, John 16.7. It is expedient for you that I go away: For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you. Mark it, he is called the Comforter, by way of excellency, above the comfort they had by his bodily presence. He can comfort and assist Believers in all places at once, whereas Christ's bodily presence was confined to one place. It is beyond controversy, that the Holy Ghost is the choicest gift that ever descended from the bosom of the Father and the Son, and resided among the children of men. We owe our first life to this inspiration of the Almighty; and the better life, the second life, the new life; the new man is created and formed by the same blessed Spirit. He is the great spring of all motions Godward, he works both to will and to do. Here then you see how dis-ingenuous it is, to abuse so good a friend, and what folly to distaste so potent a Person, who thinks it no robbery to be equal with God. We are wont to study a compliance with any, who have obliged us by their respects, or who have power in their hands to crush us in case of any indignities, we put upon them. The Spirit of God is no other than God; he is that Holy, Holy, Holy one, who appeared to Isaiah, as you may find by comparing Isa. 6.3, 9, 10. with Act. 28.25, 26, 27. Whoever hardened himself against God, and prospered? What madness is that which the Children of men inherit in all generations, whilst they oppose him, against whom it is impossible to prevail? What are all the Nations in comparison of the great God, but drops? Yea, they are nothing, yea, less than nothing. Isa. 40.17, Why will the Briars contend with the devouring Fire? Why will the dust of the earth go about to quench this Fire? it will burn the more fiercely. Believe it, sin receives an accent from the person it affronts: to strike the meanest officer is dangerous, but much more to abuse or strike the Prince. Were there nothing else in sin to make you shun it, yet this were enough, that it is Deicidium, that it quencheth the Spirit of God.
If ever God did call his people to weeping and self-abhorrence, now is the time. And I know nothing will help us to obey this heavenly Call, more than to meditate on sin; Sin in its nature, sin in its effects, and sin with all its aggravations. The great stratagem of Hell in this hour of darkness, is to hide sin, and to veil it with profit, pleasure, and honor, that it may not be seen in its naked deformities. What then is our wisdom and concernment, save to take off all the masks and coverings, all the paint and varnish, with which sin is daubed? that it may appear exceeding loathsome, and may be numbered among the most detestable things! Observe your own hearts, and you will find a strange listlessness and backwardness to this work of uncasing of sin. Oh that the blessed God would incline your hearts, and over-power them so far, as to study that word Sin, till you abhor that which your hearts are filed with. This is the great design that this worthy Author is promoting, the same work which his Master is promoting, to alienate the hearts of men from the love of sin. Oh methinks this should prevail with you to sue out a Bill of divorce against your sins, that whilst you indulge to them, you do not only grieve, but quench the Spirit of God.
I cannot enough bless the Lord, for fixing the thoughts of this worthy Minister, on such a subject as this, in such a day as this, wherein many have departed from the faith. Many that were whiter than the snow, are now blacker than a coal, many who went in troops to the house of God, are now lifting up their heels against the threshold of Zion. Multitudes who had sweet turns with Christ, are now become strange to him, and they who had strong affections in duties, are now wholly enslaved to sensuality and worldly prosecutions. Oh my bowels, my bowels! I am pained at the heart, when I consider how many have left their first love, how many are with the Dog returned to the vomit, and with the Sow to the mire. Would to God I had the tongue of Men and Angels, that I might invite these to remember from whence they are fallen, and to take this glass into their private Closets with them, that they may see how black they are, that were once glorious as the Sun, when it shines forth in its might. Certainly, there are very few into whose hands this excellent Treatise shall fall, who will be able to plead Not guilty to this great Indictment, of quenching the Spirit of God. Had we been formed, and breathed only in the dark regions of America, we might have been exempted from so great a guilt as now lies on us, who have spent so many years in the Land of Vision: Undoubtedly, the more knowledge we have affronted, the more violence we have offered to the Holy Ghost. Again, the more will and deliberation accompanies any of our sins, the more presumptuous they are, and the nearer they border on the great transgression, as appears, Psal. 19.13. Again, the greater mercies, favors, and privileges we have had from God, the more abuse is offered to the spirit of God. Oh then! how crimson, how bloody are England's sins, especially Professors, their abominations! Oh that the great God would send the Holy Ghost amongst us, more thoroughly to convince us of all the guilt, we, and the Land are under. Oh let us lift up our hands to heaven, and cry out with amazing wonder, Oh Heavens! Oh Earth! such a people as we, who have had such tokens from heaven, such a glorious Gospel, such ravishing manifestations of God; who have had such spiritual dispensations, who have had such light, such vouchsafement's, yet carry ourselves so unworthily as we have done! How often hath the blessed spirit allured us, but we have sinned under his very smiles! How often hath he frowned on us; See you neglect Closet-prayer no more; be worldly, wanton, passionate, careless, intemperate no more; at your peril, if you despise my motions and counsels again; yet we have dared God, braved God, and provoked him to do his worst, what care we. Oh wonderful patience! that, being like Er, Judah 's eldest Son, being wicked in the sight of the Lord, that the Lord should not make an end of us, as he slew him, Gen. 38.7. Nay, to our great shame be it written, though we have sinned presumptuously, and faced wonderful light and mercy; though we have wrestled with the spirit, and striven a long while with him, yet we refuse to be ashamed, we are not burdened with our sins, neither do we watch against them. Now whether the sin be in materia gravi, or not, yet whilst you pray it not down, and watch it not down, and do your utmost to draw the blood of it; so long it borders at lest on presumptuous sins, and they are the great transgressions.
The Lord would take it kindly at your hands, did you fight his battles, did you heartily and constantly oppose that which his soul hates: Yea, though the workings of your hearts be like the reeking's of a dunghill, that casts forth daily a stinking smell; Yet whilst these vapors of hell are offensive and burthensome to you, so long I conceive the Spirit is not quenched. Though the Virgin be overmatched in power, and thereby she is ravished; Yet if she consents not, but cries out against the Ruffian, she is pronounced clear. Deut. 22.25, 26, 27. Whilest the will consents that the Law is holy, just, and good, and calls to the understanding to bring in arguments whereby to oppose sin, the Spirit is not quenched: Though thine affections and lusts begin to grow inordinate, and thy inferior appetite rebel, yet if you call to Heaven for help, the Spirit will help thee in thy extremity, and not withdraw from thee, whilst the most noble, the superior faculties, the mind and will stand in defiance against all the solicitations of Hell and a corrupt heart. Unavoidable sins, such as vain thoughts, sinful risings of heart, vain-glory, covetous, or unclean desires, slavish fears, carking cares; these, if cockered, if cherished, quench the Spirit: But if refused, if thou endeavourest to suppress and quench this infernal fire, if thou laborest to pray them down, believe them down, if thou consult faithful Ministers, and submittest to their counsels and directions, for the mortifying of thy lusts, so long thou quenchest not the spirit, but employest the Holy Ghost in that work, for which he was sent into the world; viz. to destroy the works of the Devil, and of a corrupt nature.
If you ask me, Whether the Spirit may not be quenched, though sin be resisted: I answer, by borrowing a few distinctions from the learned.
1. There is a willing and a forced resistance.
1. Willing, when a man with all his heart sets himself against sin; the Spirit of God is not quenched, when there is this resistance.
2. Unwilling, or forced resistance, when through the light of natural Conscience, the checks and gripes thereof, men dare not but oppose their sins, which was the case of Balaam, he had a mind and a heart to curse God's people, out of love to the reward, but yet his Conscience resisted. The Spirit may be quenched, where there is but this unwilling resistance.
2. There is a constant, and an inconstant resistance. Where the constant resistance is, the Spirit is not quenched; but when men on a bed of Sickness, or before a Sacrament only, resolve against their sins, and strive against them, and afterwards return with the Dog to the vomit, the Spirit may quenched, though for the present the soul cries out, What have I to do with Idols? Compare Hos. 6.1. with 4. Psal. 78.36, 37.
3. There is a resistance of sin for high ends, respecting God, and for lower, respecting self. Some may resist sin, and yet quench the spirit, when for fear of losing their credit, &c. or Heaven, they war against sin: But if you resist sin, out of love to God's name principally, because sin dishonors God, and opposeth God's will, so long the Spirit is not quenched.
4. There is a resistance in our own power, and a resistance in the strength of the spirit of Christ. When we resist sin in our own strength, we distrust the spirit, we put him out of his office, for he is sent to mortify the deeds of the flesh, Rom. 8.13. But if we call in the assistances of heaven to us, if we are sensible of the mighty power of sin, and how unable we are to hold our ground against it, and thereupon endeavor to get and keep the blessed spirit with us, that there may be a greater, than that He that is in the world; hereby we are far from quenching the spirit of God. Oh that the Lord would make me an instrument to put you upon this willing, constant resisting of sin, of all sin, (for an hypocrite may resist many sins, to which his temper and interest leads him not) the more you oppose sin, the less you will be involved in this great guilt of quenching the spirit of God. I beseech you also, look carefully to your duties, stretch out after God in all of them; be not contented with your rounds, but see whether sin be more hated in and after your duties, and Christ more prized and valued by you; never reckon you pray, read, or meditate aright, till you clasp about the neck of Jesus Christ; till he kiss you with the kisses of his lips. If you are quieted by your performances with anything below Christ, you are in danger of quenching the blessed spirit.
But I forbear, my own personal weaknesses, and the nature of a Preface forbids me to enlarge. I have a great desire thou shouldest view the inner rooms, and therefore will not hold thee in the Porch. Only I must tell thee, that though some have overly and slightly touched upon this subject, yet I think none have made it their work to insist on it so fully and convincingly, as this learned and judicious Author. God hath cast the honor hereof upon him, to make a fuller discovery of the Evil of quenching the Spirit, than ever I have heard (save from his mouth) or have seen, save from his pen. And blessed forever be the Lord, who put it into his heart, to bend his studies this way; and to incline him, and over-rule him to publish that to the world, which but a very few were made happy in the knowledge of. I pray the Lord of influences to be the dew of it, to make it as useful (and more) to the eyes of thousands, than I know it was to the ears of some who received these truths immediately from his mouth. I know many were awakened, and convinced, and advantaged by hearing, mayest thou by reading. I shall say nothing of the Author, save that his works praise him in the gates. Read but diligently the following Pages, and thou wilt easily believe him to be trained up from his Youth, in the views of holy Scriptures, no stranger to the Book of God, nor to that of the heart. I will not prejudice thee, nor the Authors pains, to detain thee longer from the benefit of the travails of his Soul, but to beg thy Prayers for
Thy Soul Friend, Lewis Stucley.
Feb. 21. 1666.
Table of Contents
To the Reader
TO EVERY READER INDIFFERENTLY.
CHAPTER I. The ground of the ensuing Discourse, 1 Thes. 5.19.
CHAPTER II. The evil of Quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER III. Other Causes of Quenching the Spirit.
CHAPTER IV. The evil of Quenching the Spirit, in respect of the Effects
CHAPTER V.The second Effect of quenching the spirit
CHAPTER VI. The third effect of quenching of the Spirit
CHAPTER VII. The fourth Effect of Quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER. VIII. The fifth effect of quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER IX. The sixth Effect of quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER X. The seventh Effect of Quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER XI. The eighth effect of Quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER XII. The ninth Effect of Quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER XIII. The tenth effect of Quenching the Spirit.
CHAPTER XIV. The eleventh Effect of Quenching the Spirit
CHAPTER XV. An Exhortation to those that have Quenched the Spirit
CHAPTER XVI. An Exhortation to those that have quenched the Spirit
CHAPTER XVII. Men exhorted to beware of quenching the spirit in themselves.
CHAPTER XVIII. Men exhorted to beware of quenching the spirit in others.
CHAPTER XIX. Men exhorted to beware that others do not quench the spirit in them.