The Work of the Holy Spirit in Our Salvation

by Thomas Goodwin

How the Holy Ghost is the author of regeneration, or the first application of salvation to us, in a more peculiar manner, comparatively to the other two persons.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. — Titus III. 5, 6.

Regeneration, you see, is attributed to the Spirit as the author, it is termed the ‘renewing of the Holy Ghost’ and likewise the ‘shedding forth the Holy Ghost’ is magnified as the rich gift and blessing of the New Testament.

I have in a former discourse shewn how all the three persons have shared and distributed the whole work of our salvation amongst them, unto three several parts. 1. Election is appropriated to the Father. 2. Redemption to the Son. 3. Application of both to the Holy Ghost; who accordingly doth bear several offices suited to these three works.

That which now I have to do, is more particularly to demonstrate both the óti and dioti of this point of great moment; both that and why this last part of salvation, viz., application, and so principally this of regeneration, is attributed to the Holy Ghost.

I. I shall produce scriptures to demonstrate this point.

1. The first Scripture is John iii. 5, ‘Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ This scripture shews not only the necessity of being born again, but withal that it must be the Spirit, who must do it, or it will not be done. ‘For no man can so much as say, Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit,’ 1 Cor. xii. 3.

2. The near kindred and dependence the new creature hath with and upon the Spirit, as the child begotten hath of and with its proper father, dote evidence the same truth.

  1. The new creature is in the same third of John, ver. 6, styled spirit (as elsewhere it is called a spiritual man, 1 Cor. ii.), That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ It is therefore professedly baptized into the same name, because the father of this new birth and baptism is the Spirit. With men the begotten bears the name of the most immediate parent; and so this case, though this work of the Spirit be in common termed the divine nature (2 Peter i. 4) because it is the image of the Godhead, of which all three persons are partakers, yet to show that in a more peculiar manner it is the child of the Spirit, it is called spirit.
  2. For the very same reason this Spirit of God, the author, relatively beam the name of Holy in the New Testament, where it is (though not first) yet more frequently used as his special title, to be called ‘The Holy Ghost, as our old English hath rendered it to us. Is not the Father holy, and the Son holy, and both equally holy with this Holy Spirit? Yes, essentially and personally also in themselves; ‘Holy, holy, holy,’ they are all proclaimed, Isa. vi. How came these other two to bear it, that he, the third person, should have the peculiar style of Holy? It is not neither in a peculiar, neither in a personal or essential respect, but relatively unto that which is his proper and peculiar work, because he sanctifies and makes us holy, and so merits that name; as Christ doth of our Saviour, and the Father of God the Father and Maker. And here let me return to the necessity of this person’s making us holy. As it is necessary for Christ to redeem us, there is an absolute necessity that we all be a sanctified holy sacrifice offered up to God, if we look to be saved, or otherwise we must be made a sacrifice of his wrath, as Christ hath told us, Mark ix. 49. Where he having threatened, if lust be not killed, men shall be cast into the fire that is unquenchable (ver. 47, 48), he adds this as a reason, that every man is to be a sacrifice to God one way or other. According to the old law some sacrifices were consumed with fire, as the burnt-offerings; some seasoned with salt, to sink up the corrupt moisture in them, Lev. ii. 18. One sort of these sacrifices all men must become; if not sanctified by the Spirit, so as to have salt in them, then with hell-fire, which also is a sacrifice to God. Now Christ for our redemption offered up himself a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour, Eph. v. 2; and it was necessary he should be so. And to that end he sacrificed himself, as in his sacrificial prayer he speaks, John xvii. 19. And it is as necessary, if we be saved, that our persons be offered up unto God as a sacrifice also, Rom. xii. 1, even a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God It was necessary, therefore, we should have a sanctifier of us to be an offering unto God, as well as a redeemer, that offered up himself for us. And who is that? You are directed to him in Rom. xv., ‘This is the issue of my ministry,’ (says Paul, speaking of. his converting the nations, ver. 18, 19) ‘that the Gentiles’ (being converted) ‘might be an offering acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.’ Else never to be acceptable to God. Christ was sanctified immediately by himself, by the personal union with the Son of God— ‘I sanctity myself’ —even as he also ‘offered up himself by the eternal Spirit,’ or Godhead dwelling in him, Heb. ix.; but we by the Holy Ghost. And as in that other speech, ‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,’ the new creature bears his name; so here, he is called the Holy Spirit, or bears the name of holy, because the sanctifier of us: ‘Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.’

3. The work of conversion, not only in the whole, but in every part thereof, is attributed to him,John xvi. 8, 9, 10. It is (as I hinted afore, and shall shew hereafter) divided into three parts. 1. Conviction of sin. 2. Of righteousness for justification. 3. Of judgment, holiness, and reformation; and the Spirit is there made the author of these three. And according to this division of the parts thereof, he hath titles also given him, as in relation to his immediate working of these three.

  1. He condescends to be termed ‘the Spirit of bondage;’ I say, he condescends but to the work and name; for otherwise, and in himself, he is ‘the free Spirit,’ (Ps. Ii. 11, 12), and delights in comforting us, not in grieving us. And he is therefore also called ‘the Comforter;’ but yet to affect our salvation, and the effectual application of it to us, he (contrary to his nature) becomes our jailor, takes the keys of death and damnation into his custody, and shuts up our spirits under the law, as it is a schoolmaster to Christ, rattles the chains, lets us see the sin and punishment we deserve. He convinceth of sin, John xvi., and becomes a ‘Spirit of bondage,’ Born. viii. 15.
  2. But then, secondly, in regard of the revealing God’s love to us, and Christ and his righteousness, by whom we are adopted, and by which justified, he is called in the same place ‘the Spirit of adoption,’ ‘the Spirit of faith,’ as some interpret, 2 Cor. iv. 13. Barnabas was ‘full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith,’ Acts xi. 24.
  3. In regard of sanctifying us, and convincing of judgment, he is in the Old Testament enstyled the ‘Spirit of judgment,’ Isa. iv. 4, in respect of washing away the filth of sin: ‘When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of Zion, by the Spirit of judgment,’ &c. And in the New he is entitled ‘the Spirit of grace:’ Heb. x. 29 ‘Have done despite to the Spirit of grace,’ that is, to him as going about to work grace and holiness in the heart. The sin against the Holy Ghost, which is there described, not being against the person of the Spirit, so much as against him in his workings; and that in his working grace and sanctifying, as in the words afore you have it. And as to grace in the general, as he is the author of every particular grace, so in the head himself, therefore much more in the members. The prophet, speaking of the Messiah in Isa. xi. 1, ‘The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,’ and shall be in him, in respect of his effects upon him, ‘the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.’ There is the like reason he should be denominated from every other grace. He is in one chapter, John xiv., termed The Spirit of truth,’ ver. 17, who reveals all truth to the understanding; ‘The Holy Spirit,’ who sanctifies the will, the chief subject of holiness; ‘The Comforter,’ who fills the heart with joy and peace in believing; which is therefore usually styled ‘joy in the Holy Ghost,’ in multitudes of places; that phrase speaking him not so much the object of it (which is rather Christ, 1 Peter i. 8, ‘In whom believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious;’ and God, Rom. v. 11) as the author of it: Rom. xv. 18, ‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.’

II. I shall now, secondly, give the reasons why this work is committed to him, and is his lot. These reasons are not of logical demonstration, but harmonious, by comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and by the suiting of one thing with another, in which the strength of divine reason lies; for divinity is a wisdom, not an art.

1. This operation of the Spirit is in a correspondency to the creation of the first man, who was a type of what was to come: Job xxxiii. 4, ‘The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.’ It is evident he speaks of the new creation, in allusion to the old: ver. 1-3, ‘My word shall be of the uprightness of my heart, and my lips shall utter knowledge thereby;’ and then adds, ‘The Spirit of God bath made me,’ that is, hath given me a sincere heart, an illuminated mind, put the words of life into me. To have spoken of his first creation only, he being a man fallen from it, had been a poor argument to persuade Job of the truth of his heart, and the truths he went about to utter. And yet, too, he as evidently alludes to the first creation: Gen. ii. 7, ‘The Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.’ Now, in this new creation, we being dead in sins and trespasses, it is the Spirit of God that giveth life, 2 Cor. in. 6; who, as in respect of giving us this new life, is called ‘the Spirit of the living God,’ ver. 3; and in the Old Testament, Ezek. xxxvii. 13, 14, ‘I will bring you out of your graves, I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live,’ which you find in the 36th chapter, ver. 27. And it is observable that the first visible giving the Holy Ghost, which was after Christ’s resurrection, to enable them to be ‘ministers, not of the letter, but of the Spirit,’ which should give life to them, and to others by them, was the ceremony of breathing on them: ‘And he said, Receive the Holy Ghost,’ John xx. 22. We had his blood that ran in his veins first, and it is efficacious to wash away the guilt of sin. We have his breath next, which comes out of the inwards of him, which conveys his Spirit, which conveys himself into cur inwards, as it is in the prophet, and gives us life. And as life comes with the breath of God breathed at first, and goes away with it, so doth spiritual life upon the going or coming of the Holy Ghost upon us.

2. It is the Spirit that converts and regenerates us, and forms the new creature in us, in a conformity to our head Christ. The Holy Ghost was, 1. The immediate former of the human nature of Christ in the womb; 2. The uniter of that nature to the Son of God; 3. The sanctifier thereof, with all graces dwelling therein above all measure.

  1. He was the former of the human nature of Christ in the womb: Mat. i. 18, ‘She was found with child of the Holy Ghost;’ and ver. 20, ‘that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost;’ which was in his forming and fitting that matter into a man, which the prolific virtue useth to do.
  2. He was the uniter of it to the divine, and sanctifier of it with all graces, both which you have expressed in another place: Luke i. 35, ‘And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.’ Now, we being to be made as comformable to Christ as is possible, it was correspondent that the same person who was designed to form Christ’s body for the Godhead to dwell in all its fulness should form Christ in us, that God and Christ may dwell in us: 1 Cor. iii. 16, ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ That same person that made that happy match, the personal union between Christ’s human nature and the divine, the same person makes the union between Christ and our souls; and so we become one spirit with the Lord, 1 Cor. vi. 17. The same person that made the man Christ partaker of the divine nature maketh us also. There is a higher correspondency yet. The Holy Ghost is vinculum Trinitatus, the union of the Father and the Son, as proceeding from both by way of love; and who so meet to be the union of God and man in Christ, of Christ and men in us, as he that was the bond of union among themselves?
  3. In respect of sanctifying that human nature of Christ, it was the Holy Ghost who made him Christ, that anointed him with himself, and all his graces: Isa. xi.2, ‘The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.’ The graces of Christ, as man, are attributed to this Spirit, as the immediate author of them; for although the Son of God dwelt personally in the human nature, and so advanced that nature above the ordinary rank of creatures, and raised it up to that dignity and worth, yet all his habitual graces, which even his soul was full of, were from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is therefore said to be ‘given him without measure.’ And this inhabitation of the Holy Ghost did in some sense and degree concur to constitute him Christ, which, as you know, is the anointed one of God: Acts iv. 27, ‘Thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed.’ Anointed with what? Acts x. 38, ‘God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost.’ Now, then, if the Spirit made him Christ, and concurred in this respect to make him the anointed of God, much more is the that make us Christians.

3. Consider what this application of salvation unto us is. It is the revelation of the mind and love of God and Christ unto us, and the things of both. He that dote this must ‘take of mine,’ says Christ; and in doing so he must take of my Father’s also, for all the Father hath or doth is Christ’s. You have both in one place: John xvi. 14, 15, ‘He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you. All things teat the Father hath are mine.’ Great persons woo not by themselves, but employ ambassadors and ministers of state; and so doth Christ. Now, who should do this but the Spirit, who knows the heart and mind of God? 1 Cor. ii., ‘We have received the Spirit who is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us of God;’ that is, by our having him from God, who knows all that is in God, which is the reason there given; ver. 10, ‘God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God;’ which he confirms and illustrates by a similitude fetched from our own bosoms: ver. 11, ‘For what man,’ that is, what other man, ‘knows the things of a man’ (that are in his own breast), ‘save the spirit of a man teat is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man,’ or angel, ‘but the Spirit of God;’ who being the Spirit of counsel (Isa. xi. 2) even to Christ himself, helped him to all God’s secrets; and he also being privy and overhearing (as John xvi. 13), all that the Father and Christ have intended to us, and spoken about us, was only fit to reveal them unto us. And thus by him we come to have the very mind of God and Christ. The grace of Christ, and the love of God the Father, are revealed to us by the communion of the Holy Ghost, 2 Cor. xiii. 14.

We have seen, in a short but comprehensive view, the operations of the Holy Ghost in the great work of our salvation. The next prospect of him is, as he is the gift of God, conferred on us for this end and purpose. To open this to our sight, I offer these following considerations.

  1. 1. That it is God the Father who is the donor, or the bestower of him on us. This is plainly expressed by the words of the text, which declares that he sheds the Spirit on us.
  2. This gift of the Spirit is in and through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and mediator.
  3. This gift of the Spirit is bestowed, not according to the covenant of works, but of grace and free love. For those words, ‘not according to works,’ and the other words of the text, which speak of the appearance of the love and kindness of God, refer as well to this rich shedding forth the Holy Ghost upon us as unto saving us through regeneration, and renewing us.
  4. The condition of the persons to whom he is given is altogether unworthy. When we were in our disobedience, serving our lusts, the Holy Ghost was poured out, and renewed us.

1. The donor or bestower of the Holy Ghost is God the Father through Christ. As the Father is the original of the persons in the Trinity, so of this great gift. Therefore Christ (John xv. 26) when he speaks of ‘sending the Spirit from the Father,’ adds, as the reason why he should be sent from the Father, that ‘he proceeds from the Father’ (his subsistence doth), naming him as the fountain both of himself and the Spirit also. He is termed the Spirit of God, tou Qeou 1 Cor. ii. 11, in the same sense that we say the spirit of a man (as in the same verse); for as God is a Spirit, Isa. xlviii. 16, ‘The Lord God and his Spirit,’ says the prophet there; but the apostle further adds, ver. 12, the Spirit, ek tou Qeou, who personally is from God, whom therefore we have and receive from God: 1 Cor. vi. 19, ‘The Holy Ghost which we have,’ apo Qeou. This gift is therefore especially attributed to the Father, and termed by Christ ‘the promise of the Father,’ Acts iv., Luke xxiv. 49, ‘the Spirit of the Father,’ Mat. x. 20, from whom Christ, as God-man, received the Spirit first. The Holy Ghost was sent down by the Father upon Christ as a dove in his baptism: ‘God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost,’ Acts x. 38. And when Christ ascended into heaven he received him from the Father, Acts ii. 38, and so he shed him forth on us. And therefore Christ also, as mediator, was to pray the Father to give the Spirit, John xiv. 16: ‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,’ &c.

Yet so as, 2dly, even the Father himself sends him not, but in and through Christ: John xiv. 26, ‘The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name.’ ‘Through Christ our Saviour,’ says the apostle, Tit. iii. 6. Which imports not barely the Son’s concurrence, as second person, in sending him as well as the Father, even as his person proceeded from both (as John xv. 26, ‘whom I will send unto you’); but further, that Christ, as a redeemer, had a virtual meritorious influence or hand herein; so as for his sake, and through his purchase and intercession, the rather sends him. Christ purchased not only all the graces of the Spirit for us, but the Spirit himself (whom we had forfeited) to dwell in us. We have an express scripture, Gal. iii. 13, 14, ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ Where there are two ends adequately and alike made of Christ’s being made a curse for us:

  1. That we might receive the blessing of Abraham;
  2. That we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

And, forasmuch as the gift of the Spirit comes under a promise, as well as other blessings, it must needs come under the purchase of Christ’s blood, which confirmed all the promises; and this, as all the rest of the promises are, ‘yea and amen in him.’ And to this end it is observable, that he breathed not the Spirit until after his resurrection; but then he did, John xx. 22, ‘And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ He had not shed his blood until now, and therefore breathed not the Holy Ghost until now. But Christ having died, and having, as the Lamb slain, purchased the Spirit, and being ascended up to the throne of God, he, as the Lamb, now sheds forth the Spirit: John vii. 38, 39, ‘He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’ He compares the Spirit, as communicated to us, to a spring of living water. But not as then broke forth, as afterwards it should, because Christ had not died, and so entered into glory. Now compare with it Rev. xxii. 1: ‘And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ This water of life issues, you see, from the throne of the Lamb, who in the 5th chap., ver. 6, appeared at the throne of God as the Lamb slain, and redeeming us with his blood, and as such doth shed forth the Spirit upon us; and is even there also said to have all the fulness of the Spirit on him, ‘who hath the seven Spirits;’ that is, the Holy Ghost in all the varieties of his gifts and graces, called seven from perfection. For that the seven Spirits are taken metonymically for the Holy Ghost, is evident by chap. i., ver. 4: ‘John to the seven churches of Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.’ Hence also when we receive the cup in the Lord’s supper, which is termed the communion of Christ’s blood, 1 Cor. x., we are yet said to ‘drink into one Spirit;’ for that blood is vehiculum Spiritus, the Spirit runs in and with this blood. We therefore know whom we are beholden unto for the Spirit; and whom to go unto for the Spirit, even to the Father, and to Christ, and to his blood; and to the Father through Christ, who gives commission to the Spirit to work such and such measures of grace, at such times to fall upon us, and at such and such times to withdraw.

Hence, 3dly, the Spirit is given us from mere grace and love, and not according to works; so in the text those words, ‘who not according to works, but mercy,’ &c., refer as well to this shedding forth the Holy Ghost, as to his saving us by regeneration. You may therefore observe, 2 Cor. xiii. 14, that the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God the Father, are put before communion of the Holy Ghost, as that which proceeds from both. ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.’ Therefore, in scriptures, both the law, the preaching of it, and the works of it, are in express words excluded and shut out from having any influence to convey the Spirit to us, that we may never so much as think to obtain the Spirit thereby: Jer. xxxi. 32, ‘I will make a new covenant, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers; but this shall be my covenant, I will write my law in their inward parts.’ Which, compared with Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, is renewed with this addition, ‘I will give you a new heart, and put my Spirit within you.’ And you may compare with both, 2 Cor. iii. 3: ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart;’ which clears both. Yea, so far forth as they in the Old Testament had the Spirit (as they had, Neh. ix. 20, ‘Thou gayest them thy good Spirit to instruct them;’ and Hag. ii. 5, ‘According to the word I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth with you’); so much gospel was even then mingled with it, and running in the veins of it. It was fœdus mixtum, and so in the virtue thereof the Spirit was (though in a lesser measure) given. Therefore, when the gospel came to take place, then the preaching of the law, or ceremonies of it, did not convey the Spirit: to show that it was purely upon the covenant of grace that the Spirit is given, 2 Cor. iii. 6-8, ‘Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stone, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious?’ You see that the old covenant is the ministration of the letter, and of death; and the New Testament, in exclusion of that Old, hath alone obtained this more excellent name, ‘the ministration of the Spirit.’

As not the preaching of the law gave the Spirit, so, nor can any works of the law obtain the Spirit at God’s hands. The text is as express for this as for the other: Gal. iii. 2, ‘This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ Paul useth that as arqumentum palmarium against the law, as alone sufficient evidence. ‘This one thing’ (says he) ‘I would learn of you,’ and let that decide it, ‘Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ By Spirit he here means the Spirit of regeneration and sanctification; for, ver. 5, he speaks of extraordinary gifts afterwards, and ver. 2, he speaks of that receiving which was general to all believing Galatians, even common to all saints, to whose universal experience he appeals, if ever any one of them had received him upon their doing. Now extraordinary gifts were not common to all saints, no, not in those days. And by ‘the hearing of faith,’ he means the doctrine of faith, the gospel; and ver 14-17, he asserts the Spirit to be given freely by the covenant of grace, which God afore the law did establish with Abraham, and in him together with Isaac (as the type) with Christ: Gal. iii. 14-17, ‘That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be con firmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, which was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.’ Yea (to end this), he makes it an evidence of not being under the law, if a man hath received the Spirit, and be led by him: Gal. v. 18, ‘But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.’ And for this also it is, that he is called ‘the Spirit of grace,’ Heb. x. 29, because given freely. He is ‘the gift of grace,’ Eph. iii. 7, and so given upon the terms of the covenant of grace.

Hence, from both these, appears the difference between Adam’s having the Spirit in that estate of holiness, and the saints under the state of grace. Adam had the Spirit as well as we, and the Holy Ghost was at the making of him, and wrote the image of God upon his heart: for where holiness was, we may be sure the Spirit was too. The Holy Ghost was at that consultation,— ‘Let us make man,’—and one of the us spoken unto. Yea, and that Spirit that ‘moved upon the waters,’ who also is sent forth to ‘renew the face of the earth’ (Ps. civ.), the same Spirit was in Adam’s heart to assist his graces, and cause them to flow and bring forth, and to move him to live according to those principles of life given him. But there is this difference between that his having the Spirit, and ours, apparent from what hath already been said.

  1. That he concurred with Adam, merely as the third person, who joined in all works, and so upon no further account than as he concurred in assisting all creatures else in their kind, to cause the earth to bring forth fruits according to their kind; and, indeed, he must necessarily have a hand in all works of creation and providence. Whereas we have the Spirit upon Christ’s account, in his name, purchased by him, as whom he had first received, also purchased as the head of his church. And there fore it is ordinary in Scripture to term this Spirit as now dwelling in us, ‘the Spirit of Christ,’ Rom.. viii. 9; ‘the Spirit of the Son,’ Gal. iv. 6.
  2. Hence Adam retained the Spirit according to the tenor of the covenant of works (which is but that equal law of creation between God and the creature), whereby he held a continuance of the privileges given him at the creation, even as he did life in God’s sight, upon works of obedience: ‘Do this and live.’

And as by one act of disobedience he forfeited life (‘Cursed is he that continueth not in all things’), and so in like manner the Spirit was forfeitable by him upon the same terms. Even as in a man that comes from Adam, one mortal stab causeth the soul to depart, so here, one act of sinning caused the soul to depart; for the bond of the union ceased. But as it would not be so in a man risen from the dead, and by the power of the second Adam, made a quickening Spirit; no wounds would be mortal to such an one; so here the gift of the Spirit to us is by promise, as Gal. iii. 14-17, the apostle argues. The gift of the Spirit, to a truly converted soul, is an absolute gift, and not upon conditions on our parts, but to work and maintain in us what God requires of us. The gift of the Spirit is not founded upon qualifications in us, to continue so long as we preserve grace in our souls, and do not sin it away. I will give you my Spirit to preserve you, and prevent your departing from me, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. ‘I will give you a new heart,’ but you would soon make it an old one, as bad as ever; to prevent this, it follows, ‘And I will put my Spirit Within you. and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, sad do them.’ And so it is said in Jer. xxxii. 40, ‘Ye shall not depart from me.’ He comes by virtue of election on us, as he did on Christ, Isa. xlii. 1, ‘Behold my elect in whom my soul delights, I have put my Spirit upon him.’ Gal. iv. 6, ‘Because ye are Sons’ (by election, namely, as it is said, Eph. i. 5, God ‘having predestinated us to the adoption of children’), ‘God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.’ And Mat. x. 20, ‘The Spirit of your Father is in you;’ that is, God having taken on him the relation of your Father, thereupon bestoweth his Spirit on you. And therefore it is that so few of many that hear the same sermons receive the Holy Ghost; for he comes on men by the grace of election, and so the Spirit picks and chooses (as God hath done), and rests on this soul, and not on that; and so (as Isaiah says, Isa. xxvii. 12) they are gathered one by one. It goes as it were by lot, as it is (Acts viii. 21), spoken to Simon Magus, in relation to the Holy Ghost, v. 19. It hath the appearance of chance, because this man is taken, and not that; when yet it is the eternal good pleasure of God that puts the difference. And the Spirit, that knows God’s mind, seizeth on men accordingly; and is said to be as the wind, that ‘blows where it lists,’ which is spoken of regeneration, John iii. 8.

Hence it is that he is given to us for ever, and not to depart from us; the reason is, because his person is given without conditions, and to work all conditions, he is so in us as to be with us for ever; John xiv. 16, 17, ‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.’ He came in Christ the head, to make his abode in him: John i. 33, ‘And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.’ Which was a fulfilling of that piece of the prophecy, Isa. xi. 2, ‘The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.’ To which Peter alludes, speaking also of us, 1 Peter iv. 14, ‘The Spirit of God resteth on you;’ and to signify this, when visibly he came upon the apostles, Acts ii. 3, ‘it sat upon each of them.’ Christ’s abode among us is compared to the dwelling in a tabernacle: John xiv., eskanwsen, ‘He dwelt as in a tabernacle amongst us,’ for he soon removed to heaven. But the Spirit dwells in us as in the temple, which was, instead of that moveable habitation, a more fixed settled abode: 1 Cor. vi. 19, ‘Ye are the temple of the Holy Ghost.’ I go and come, says Christ, John xiv. 18, 19, but he shall be with you, and in you, v. 17, forever. And therefore he is not only given as the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. i. 14, and 2 Cor. v. 5), a certain pawn that we shall have heaven; but he becomes also from that time a spring in us never to be dammed up, a living fountain of water, springing up into eternal life, as Christ himself speaks, comparing John iv. 14 with John vii. 38, 39. Now we do not say the spring shall continue whilst water is in the stream; but water shall continue in the stream, and bubble up whilst there is a spring. If indeed the spring could fail, the waters might fail. Now the Holy Ghost is given to become a perpetual spring, both of grace and glory. And accordingly also, 1 Peter i. 23, the Holy Ghost is said to be ‘the incorruptible seed, of which we are begotten,’ which some have understood to be meant of the word; but that is put in besides, as the instrumental cause, in the words following, ‘by the word of God.’ Nor is it the new creature which is there meant, for that is the thing begotten in us. But the principal cause of whom we are begotten is the Holy Spirit, John iii. 6, ‘That which is begotten of the Spirit.’ Now he is called the ‘incorruptible seed,’ because he is cast into the soul with the word, as the prolific virtue in the word; which is the seed materially, but the Spirit virtually. And this also chews the difference between this giving the Spirit by virtue of election, and that communication of him to temporary believers that fall away, who are said, Heb. vi., to be ‘partakers of the Holy Ghost;’ as Saul— ‘The Spirit of the Lord came on Saul,’ 1 Sam. x. 10,—but so as to depart away again, 1 Sam. xvi. 14; thus on Balaam he did, Num. xxiv. 2, 2., and opened his eyes. The fundamental difference lies in the differing terms of the gift of the Spirit, insinuated here in the text: that many receive the Spirit, not from God as a Father, by virtue of election, or through Christ as a Saviour; they receive not, as children, the Spirit of God as from a Father; as Rom. viii. 14, 15; as also Mat. x. 20; and as Christ’s speech also (in John 14th and 15th chapters, ‘I will pray the Father,’ &c.), doth import; but they receive him from God out of dominion and sovereignty, and from Christ as a Lord, who hath brought (bought?) even wicked men to serve him, 2 Peter ii 1. This distinction of this double receiving the Spirit, the apostle insinuates both in that Born. viii. and Gal. vi. 7, 8. In that Rom. viii. 15, he speaks of a ‘Spirit of bondage,’ which, as servants, they in some measure or other had formerly received from God. Look in what state men stand to God, they answerably more or less have a portion of his Spirit on them. If they are only in the state of servants, they have a ‘Spirit of bondage’ working legally that fear of death which is in all men: Heb. ii. 15, ‘And deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.’ The one place interprets the other. Those stirrings of guilt and condemnations which are in all men’s hearts, are from workings of the Spirit in all men. The same Spirit that moved upon the waters, Gen. i., moves upon all men’s hearts. Now if men live under the preaching of the law and gospel, then the same Spirit falls with higher works upon the spirits of men unrenewed, yet still but upon the same account that is mentioned: Gen. vi. 3, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is but flesh.’ He had spoken of the sons of God (ver. 2), that were the professors of that age, who lived under Noah’s ministry, ‘a preacher of righteousness,’ Heb. xi. 7. And he went with his ministry in a way of striving with and opposing men’s corruptions in their hearts; of which Peter, (1 Peter iii. 18), having said that Christ was ‘quickened or raised by the Spirit,’ he adds (ver. 19), ‘by which Spirit also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, when few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.’ These men were corrupt, and remained flesh, and yet received the Spirit, striving with them from God, as the Lord and Judge of the world, who to men fallen gives his Spirit, as at first he did to Adam, with a new stock of gifts arid motions, but deals with them therein but upon a covenant of works. It is a favour indeed to give him, as all outward gifts of the Spirit are, but their persons being under the covenant of works, and servants, their retaining this Spirit is according to the terms thereof; and so it proves in the issue, and their improving that gift is managed according to the dispensation of such a covenant. And so they, by opposing and resisting such strivings of the Spirit, God withdraws him. For he says, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive.’ He deals with them as with servants that are untoward and rebellious: John viii. 35, ‘The servant abides not in the house for ever;’ but as Hagar was turned out of doors, and inherited not, so it is here. ‘But’ (says Christ) ‘a son abides for ever in the house,’ and therefore they, as children, receive ‘the Spirit of adoption to cry, Abba, Father.’ And the Spirit of Christ, as their head, remains in them, and they are overcome and led by the Spirit of God. These are sons; and that they may abide in the house for ever, this Spirit abides in them for ever. You have the very same distinction of men receiving the Spirit as servants and as sons: Gal. iv. 6, 7, ‘Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a Son, an heir of God through Christ.’ The meaning is, they receive the Spirit as sons, not as servants, as others do. To which add ver. 22, 23, &c., where Hagar and Ishmael, and Sarah and Isaac, are made the types of these two conditions of men living in the church, as they did in Abraham’s family; and Christ, John viii., alluded evidently unto in that speech fore-quoted, verses 33, 34, 35, ‘They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth ever.’ Both these, living under the means, had dealings with God: Gen. xxi. verses 17-20, ‘And the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad, where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God was with the lad,’ &c. But yet this was but according to the covenant of works, whereof they were types. And their spirits used all gifts, motions, visions, &c., in such a way, and so at last the Spirit was withdrawn from them.

And therefore let not that deceive you, that men that fall away are said to be ‘partakers of the Holy Ghost,’ &c., for they may be so when yet they are not sons. The Holy Ghost comes to some as a wayfaring man, for a night. But do you not feel that though he may withdraw many effects, yet still his person is in you, and works, even amidst your sinnings, to reduce you again to God, and suffers you not to be finally overcome, but frames your hearts so as you give yourselves up to be led by him, and you treat with God of his abode in you, and of your salvation, not upon a covenant of works, but grace. Look to your tenure, by which God guides your hearts to seek the Spirit and salvation. Every man’s heart and spirit (as a pen in his hand) is guided to write his own deeds and terms he holds salvation on. Dost thou treat with God, as a son, upon mere terms of free grace, renouncing Ishmael’s covenant and tenure, not daring to treat with God upon these terms, If I walk thus and thus, God will give and continue his Spirit to me? No; but thou sayest as David, ‘Lord, give me thy constant Spirit,’ to work all in me, to cause me to walk in thy statutes. Ps. li. 10, 11, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.’ In the margin it is, ‘a constant spirit within me;’ and if this is thy dependence and thy salvation, and if upon these terms thou holdest and retainest the Spirit, thou art a son. You esteem it in lands as a matter of great moment the tenure, whether it be freehold or copyhold. My brethren, know there is a freehold of the Spirit, and a copyhold; and go over but thy prayers and the workings of thy spirit with God, and thou wilt easily see thy tenure.

By Topic


By Scripture

Old Testament









1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles








Song of Solomon


















New Testament







1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians





1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy





1 Peter

2 Peter

1 John

2 John

3 John



By Author

Latest Links