This is He That came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit That beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
'This is Jesus Christ;' 'and it is the Spirit.' So the verse, you see linketh Christ and the Spirit together, is a passage from the one to the other. Linketh them, and so consequently linketh this feast of the Spirit present with those of Christ who are gone before; and under one, sheweth the convenience of having the Spirit an article in our Creed, and of having this day a feast in our calendar.
For though Christ have done all that He had to do, all is not done that is to do till the Spirit come too. We have nothing to shew, we want our test, a special part of our evidence is lacking; that when all is done, if this be not, nothing is done. 'Christ' without 'water,' 'water' without 'blood;' His 'water and blood' and He, without the Spirit avail us nothing. The Spirit we are to have, and this day we have It; and for the having It this day, we keep a feast. [344/345] As those hitherto for Christ, complementum legis, so this for the Holy Ghost, complementum Evangelii, which was not complete donec complerentur dies Pentecostes, 'till the days of Pentecost were fulfilled;' till this day was come and gone.
St. John is every-where all for love. Here in this chapter, I know not how, he is hit upon faith. Which with Him is rare; so the more to be made of. Specially in this age, wherein it is grown the virtue of chief request. And indeed 'H careu ti pi/oti estiu e_u pstij Ã, 'an excellent virtue is faith, if it be faith' For as there is, saith St. Paul, 'a knowledge falsely so called,' so is there a faith; for faith is itself but a kind of knowledge.
How shall we then make faith of our faith? Of itself it is but a bare act, faith, a thing indifferent, the virtue and value of it is from the object it believes in; if that be right, all is right. And that is right, if it have for this object, not Jesus Christ barely; but as St. John speaketh, 'that Jesus Christ.' 'That Jesus Christ' is somewhat a strange speech, as if there were another. Is there so? Yes, ye have alium Jesus, and aliud Evangelium; not 'that,' but 'another Jesus;' not 'this,' but 'another Gospel.'
And as not 'that' but 'another Jesus,' so Christ Himself tells us, you shall have not that, but another Christ. Another, nay many other; yet there is but one true. 'Lo, here is Christ, lo, there He is.' Go into the desert, there you shall have Him; get you to such a conventicle, and there you shall not miss of Him. Go but to one city I could name, you shall have Christs enough, and scarce a true one among them all.
Well then, what shall we do, 'to sever the precious from the vile;' 'that Jesus Christ, from others;' set the hic est Ille upon the right Christ? This, saith St. John, these two ways: 1. 'That Jesus Christ' That comes in 'water and blood' jointly, not in either alone, hic est Ille. If but in one, He is 'another Jesus.' 2. 'That Jesus' That hath 'the Spirit to bear Him witness,' is the true; this witness if He want, hic non est Ille. Under one we shall learn Christ aright. For as one may learn a false Christ, so may he the true Christ falsely. 'You have not so learned Christ,' saith the Apostle, that is, not amiss you have not; meaning some other had. [345/346] And as learn Christ aright, so learn to do the Spirit His right; not to shoot Him off, but know He is to have a chief holy-day in our fasti, as He has a part, and a principal part, in the test of whosoever shall be saved.
The sum is, three items we have: 1. That we take not pseudo-Christum pro Christo: 'the false Christ for the true;' that is, one that comes in his name, but is not He.
2. Neither when we have the true one, that we take not semi-Chriistum pro Christo, 'a moiety or part of Christ for the whole.'
3. When we have the whole, that we take Him not without His Test, and that is the Spirit, for as good not take Him at all.
Three part I would lay forth: 1. There is Christ's part; 2. there is the Spirit's part; 3. there is the Sacrament's part. Christ's part: His double coming, in 1. 'water,' and 2. 'blood.' In it these: 1. that Christ was so to come; 2. that Christ did so come; 3. not only did, but doth so come daily to us. 4. As He comes to us in both, so we to come to Him for both; and ever take heed of the error of either alone, of turning non solum into solum.
Then the Spirit's part: 1. of His 'witness;' 2. of the 'truth' of it. 1. Of His witness: 1. that a witness there is to be; 2. that a witness there is; 3. nay not one, but three; 4. of which the Spirit is one and the chief witness. His witness to 1. 'Jesus 2. Christ That came;' 3. to the 'water,' 4. to the 'blood,' He came in. This of His 'witness.' Then of the 'truth' of it; and withal, how to discern 'the Spirit,' that is, 'the truth.'
And last, the reversal to this. That as not these without the Spirit, so not the Spirit without these, that is, not without the Sacraments, which are the monuments and pledges of these. And so that we endeavour that the Spirit on this day, the day of the Spirit, may come to us and give His witness, that Christ is come to us, and come to us in them; in them both, to our comfort both here and eternally.
Thus it is written and thus it behoved that He That was to come, Jesus the Saviour of the world, when He came, should come in 'water and blood.' His name was so called, Jesus, saith the Angel, to shew He should 'save His people from [346/347] their sins.' To save us from them, by taking them away; for hic est omnis fructus, saith Esay, and it is a ground with us, 'All the fruit we have, is the taking away of our sin.' Take that away, the rest will follow of itself; that, indeed, is all in all.
To take away sin, two things are to be taken away. For in sin are these two: 1. Reatus, and 2. Macula, as all Divines agree, 'the guilt' and 'the soil,' or spot. The guilt, to which punishment is due; the spot, whereby we grow loathsome in God's eyes, and even in men's too. For even before them, shame and reproach follow sin. Take these two away, and sin is gone. And there is no people under Heaven, but have sense of these two; and no religion is, or ever was, but laboured to remove them both.
To take away soil, 'water,' is most fit; to take away guilt, 'blood.' No punishment, for any guilt, goes further than 'blood.' Therefore had the heathen their lustrations for the soil, which were ever by water; (donec me flumine vivo Abluero) and their expiations for the guilt, by shedding of blood ever, (sanguine placâstis) without which they held no remission of sins.
The Jews, they likewise had their 'sprinkling water' for the uncleanness; had their slain sacrifice, the 'blood' whereof done on their 'posts,' the destroyer passed by them, the guilt by it being first taken away.
But the Prophet tells us, no water--no, not, 'snow-water,' and put to it 'nitre' and 'borith' and fuller's 'soap,' never so much--can enter into the soul, to take away the stains of it. And the Apostle, he tells us, 'it was impossible the blood of bulls or goats should satisfy for the sins of men.' The 'water' had not the virtue to get out those spots; or the 'blood,' the value, to make satisfaction to God, for man's trespass.
Donec venit Qui venturus erat, 'Till He came That was to come;' Shiloh, with a 'blood,' and a 'water,' which, because it was the 'blood' and 'water' of the Son of God, and so God, by His divine power infused into both, gave the 'water' such a piercing force, and gave the 'blood' so inestimable high a value, as able to work both; to put an end to that which neither the washings, nor offerings of nature, or of the Law [347/348] could rid us of. Thus 'in water and blood' was He to come, That was to take sins away.
Thus was He to come, and thus did He come; did come divers ways. 'In blood,' the blood of His circumcision; 'in water,' the water of His baptism. Began so, and so ended; 'in water,' the water of His strong crying and tears, whereby He made supplication to God for us; 'in blood,' the blood of His passion, the blood of Gethsemane, His bloody sweat; the blood of Gabbatha, of the scourges and thorns; the blood of Golgotha, of His hands and feet digged. Thus came He.
Yet is it none of these St. John pointeth to -these were at several times--but he points to His coming in both together at once. This place of the Epistle refers to that place of the Gospel, where at once, with one blow, His side being opened, 'there came forth blood and water' both. Blood, sanguis testamneti, saith Zachary, the ninth, 'the blood of His testament,' whereby He set His guilty prisoners free. Water, saith the same Zacahry, the thirteenth, fons domui Israel; 'a fountain which He opened to the house of Israel, for sin, and for uncleanness.' The one blood, the lÚtrou, 'the ransom' or price of the taking away the guilt; the other water, louutrÕu, laver of our new birth, from our original corruption.
Hæc sunt Ecclesiæ, gemina sacramenta, saith Augustine, 'These are (not two of the Sacraments; so there might be more, but) the twin-sacraments of the Church.' So but two of that kind, two famous memorials left us; in baptism, of the water; in the cup of the New Testament, of the blood He then came in.
Thus did Christ come; did, and does still. For the word is not echluqëj, referring to the times past, but elqëy, which respecteth even the present also. Came not once, but still and ever comes so. The water still runs, for He opened a fountain never to drawn dry; and His massa sanguinis is not spent neither, for it is sanguis aeterni foederis, and aeternus, 'of the everlasting covenant,' and so itself lasting for ever.
And that this His coming to us he means, the order sheweth. For when it came from him, it came in another [348/349] order; 'blood' came first, and then 'water;' -see the Gospel. But here in the Epistle, when He comes to us, 'water;' is first. and then 'blood.' 'Blood and water,' the order quoad Se; 'water and blood,' quoad nos. Even to us, in water first. But what means this, 'not in water only, but in water and blood?' To say 'in water and blood,' was plain enough, one would think. Our rule is in Logic, Non sufficit alternum, opportet utrumque fieri in copulativis. Our rule in Divinity, 'What God hath joined, no man presumes to sever.' Yet within He had said, 'in water and blood.' He comes over with them again, with His non in aquâ solum, 'not only in water only, but in water and blood.' What means this, but to make it yet more plain, that there might be no mistaking, no slipping of the collar, that one of them will not serve out turn, but as once He came, so still and ever He is to come in them both?
Among the profunda Satanæ, this was one: when he could not kwlÚeiu, 'keep Him out,' by a new strategem he sought lÚeiv tÕu /Ihsoàu, solvere Jesum (as the Fathers read the verse of the chapter next before) that is, 'to take Him in pieces.' When he could not prevail in setting up a false, he set some on work to take in sunder the true.
Was it not thus? Did they not solvere, 'dissolve,' take in sunder His natures; made Him come as only man, as Samosatenus; made Him come, as only God as Sabellius? Dissolved they not His person; made Him come in two, as Nestorius? And is not this here a plain dissolving also? He coming entirely in both, to take Him by halves, take of Him what they list, what they think will serve their turns, and leave the other, and let it lie? So take pars pro toto, a piece of Jesus for the whole, as if they meant to be saved by synecdoche.
Which very taking Him in pieces makes Him that he is not [349/350] the true. For if the coming in both twain make Him Hic est Ille, the taking away of either turns Him into alium Jesum; and so hic non est Ille. This you may call Jesus Christ, but this is not that Jesus Christ, St. John His epist»hqioj, taught us. There was a sort of heretics in the Primitive Church were so all for 'water,' cared so little for His coming in 'blood,' as they ministered the Communion in nothing but water, and are therefore called Hydroparastatæ, or Aquarii. There were others--but it were a world to rake up old errors; what need we? Have we not now that frame to themselves a Christ without 'water,' or a Christ without 'blood,' and so seem to hold aqua sola, or solus sanguis, against St. John's non in solâ, flat?
See you some that pour out themselves into all riot, and follow, 'uncleanness even with greediness?' Christ 'in water' would do well for such, and they care least for it; by their good-will would have none come upon them, would not be clean, would be as they are, as swine in their wallow all their life long. No 'water' they, but 'blood,' as much as you will. Frame to themselves a Christ without 'water,' all in 'blood.'
'This is that Christ That cometh.' How comes He? what brings He? Comes He in 'blood,' brings He good store of that, that we may strike off the guilt of our old score? He is welcome coming so. But He comes with 'water' too. Nay, gone, 'to depart from their coasts;' they love 'blood' without 'water,' are all for comfort as they call it, nothing for cleanness of life. In solo sanguine, these.
See you some other, not many, yet some, careful to their weak power to contain themselves, yet through human frailty overtaken otherwhile? Christ in 'blood' comes for these, for these in special, and alas! they dare not come near it, not His 'blood,' as utterly unworthy of it. These are but few, in comparison of those other, the soli-sanguines. Yet, some such there are, and for them hath St. John directed the letter of this text in this order which it stands; that Christ 'came not in water alone, but came in blood too.''
Timorous, trembling, consciences think they have never 'water' enough: if they find about them any unclean thing, they are quite cast down, utterly dejected straight; as if that [350/351] Christ were John Baptist, that came in 'water' alone; nay, were turned into Moses, that had his name of being 'taken out of the water,' as if He came all 'in water,' nay were all 'water,' had not a drop of 'blood' in Him. These seem to hold in aquâ solâ, whereas Christ hath both 'water and blood,' of each alike much, no less of the one than of the other; came in 'blood,' and came in it for them, and to them doth most readily apply it, that make most spare of it.
But the greater number by far are those in the other extreme, that are nothing timorous, far enough from that; dissolute, and care not how many foul blotches they have, so they may have the guilt and punishment taken away; hear there is remission of sins in His 'blood;' so lie at His veins continually like horse-leeches, so as if it were possible they would not leave a drop of blood in Him. As for His 'water,' they have no use of it, nor desire not to have any, let that run waste; are all for 'blood,' would not care if all the 'water' were drained from Him, nay if, as the 'waters' of Egypt, all His were turned into 'blood.' Forgiven, that they would be; clean, they care not to be; as much 'blood,' as little 'water' as you will. Both these would be looked to, but this latter more, as the predominant error of our age, wherein the 'water' is even at the low water-mark. Now for these we return the non solum, as by good warrant we may, both ways; it is equally true, not in blood alone, hear you, but in blood and water. Will you have no water?' then must you have no Christ, for Christ came 'in water,' And further we add, that as 'in water and blood' both, so 'in water' first, (for so it lieth in the text) and that which stands first we to pass through first. 'Water,' quoad nos, is the first, before 'blood:'--there to begin in God's name. Take that with you too.
They then that have learned Christ aright, are to come to Him for both. With the woman of Samaria, 'Lord give us of this water;' with them of Capernaum, 'Lord, give us of this bread,' of this 'Cup of the New Testament in Thy blood.' To come to Him for 'blood,' for the forgiveness of our sins 'through faith in His blood.' To come to Him for 'water' as well, for the taking out of the stains. Yea, even as Esay said, Haurietis aquas cum gaugio de fontibus Salvatoris, even 'with joy to draw water from the fountains of our [351/ 352] Saviour;' with more joy so draw 'water,' than to draw 'blood' from Him.
But indeed, to look well into the matter, they cannot be separate, they are mixed; either is in other. There is a mixture of the 'blood' in the 'water,' there is so, of the 'water' in the 'blood;' we can minister no 'water' without 'blood,' nor 'blood' without 'water.' In baptism we are washed with 'water,' that 'water' is not without 'blood.' The 'blood' serves instead of 'nitre.' He hath 'washed us from our sins in His blood--washed. They made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.' No washing, no whiting by 'water' without 'blood.' And in the Eucharist we are made drink of the blood of the New Testament, but in that blood there is water, 'for the blood of Christ purifieth us from our sins.' Now to purify, is a virtue properly belonging to water, which is yet in the blood; and purifying refers to spots, not to guilt, properly. So, either is in other; therefore, the conceit of separation, let it alone for ever.
To take heed then of draining Christ's 'water' from His 'blood,' or abstracting His 'blood' from His 'water;' of bringing in the restringent, solâ, into either. Every one of us, for his own part, thus to do. But howsoever men frame fancies to themselves--as frame they will, do what we can- that our doctrine be looked to; we are not to teach Jesus Christ, but 'that Jesus Christ' That thus came in both. That our divinity then on the one side be not waterish, without all heart or comfort, presenting Christ in 'water' only, to make fear where none is; or on the other, that we frame not ourselves a sanguine divinity, void of fear quite, and bring in Christ all in 'blood,' blood and nothing else; with little 'water,' or none at all, for fear of ex nimia spe desperatio.
'Faith, as it 'justifieth,' saith St. Paul.--there is 'blood;' so it 'purifieth the heart,' saith St. Peter,--there is 'water.' Hope as it 'saveth, saith St. Paul 'blood;' so it cleanseth,' saith St. John,--'water.' In vain we flatter ourselves it we do the one and not the other. Do we make 'grace of none effect?' That we may not. 'Do we make the Law of none effect by faith?' that we may not neither, not this day specially, the feast of the Law and the Spirit both; but rather 'establish' it. Best, if it could be set right, 'the song of Moses [352/353] and of the Lamb;' it is the harmony of heaven. If we teach Ne peccetis 'water;' to teach also 'blood'--Si quis autem peccaverit, with St. John. If we say salvus factus es 'blood;' to say Noli amplius peccare 'water'- withal, with Christ Himself.
This is that Jesus Christ, and the true doctrine of Him; neither diluta, and so evil for the heart; nor tenans caput, and so fuming up to the head; neither scammoniate, tormenting the conscience; not yet opiate, stupifying it, and making it senseless. And so much for Christ's double coming.
Well, when Christ is come, and thus come, may we be gone, have we done? Done! we are yet in the midst of the verse; before we make an end of it, it must be Whitsuntide. The Spirit is come too. So a new Qui venit, That comes in both those, and comes in the Spirit besides. And a new non solum; not in 'water and blood' only, but in the Spirit besides. And a new non solum; not in 'water and blood' only but in the Spirit withal.
Not that Christ said not truly, Consummatum est, that He hath not done all. Yes, to do that was to be done, Christ was enough, needs no supply; the Spirit comes not to do, comes but to testify. That inter alia, is one of His offices.
And a witness is requisite. There is no matter of weight with us, if it be sped authentically, (especially a testament) but it is with a test. And God doth none of His great works but so; of which this coming is one, even the greatest of all. Neither of His testament without one. As God in nature 'left not Himself without witness,' saith the Apostle, so neither Christ in grace. As then in the Old Testament, ad legem et testimonium, saith Esay; so in the New, ad Evangelium et testimonium, 'to the Gospel,' to Christ 'and the testimony,' calls St. John here. Christ also to have His test, we to call for it; and if it be called for of us, to be able to shew it.
A witness there needeth then, and a witness there is. One, nay three. In ore duorum; that is, in every matter nothing without two at least. But in this so main, so high a matter, God would enlarge the number; have it in ore trium, have it full--no fewer than three; three to His part, three to ours.
At the ordering of it in Heaven, three there were, 'the 1. Father, the 2. Word, and 3. the Spirit;' that the whole Trinity might be equally interested in the accomplishment of [353/354] the work of our salvation, and it pass through all their hands. And at the speeding it in earth, three more: 1. 'the Spirit, and 2. water, and 3. blood,' to answer them, that all might go by a Trinity, that 'Holy, Holy, Holy,' might be thrice repeated. The truth herein answereth to the type. For under the Law nothing was held perfectly hallowed, till it passed three: the 1. cleansing water, first; the 2. sprinkling of blood, second; 3. and last, that the holy oil were upon it too--the holy oil, the Holy Ghost's type; but when any thing anointed with all three, then had it His perfect halidom, then it was holy indeed. And even so pass we through three hands, all. 1. God's, as men: water notes the creation; the Heavens are of water, and if they, the rest. God's as men; 2. Christ's as Christian men--blood notes the redemption; 3. and the Spirit's, as spiritual men, which pertains to all. If any be 'spiritual,' He knows this; and you that be spiritual do this, saith the Apostle. For Christians that be animales, Spiritum non habentes, St Jude tells us, there is no great reckoning to be made of them.
To let the other go. 'The Spirit 'is a Witness to Jesus Christ, That came in water and blood;' Witness to Jesus Christ 'That came,' Witness to His 'water and blood.' He came in. In a witness it is required he be testis idoneus: will you see quam idoneus, 'how apt,' how every way agreeing? 'The Spirit' and Jesus agree: Jesus was conceived by the Spirit. 'The Spirit' and Christ agree: in the word Christ is'`the Spirit,' for Christ is anointed. Anointed with what? With the Holy Spirit, the true unction, and the truth of all unctions whatsoever. 'The Spirit' and 'water' agree; 'the Spirit moved on the face of the waters.' The Spirit and 'blood' agree: the spirit of life is in the blood; the vessels of it, the arteries, run along with the texture of the veins, all the body over.
To His coming, this Spirit agrees also. When He came as Jesus, the Spirit conceived Him. When He came as Christ, the Spirit anointed Him. When He came in water at His Baptism, the Spirit was there; 'came down in the shape of a dove, rested, abode on Him.' When He came in blood as His Passion, there too: it was 'the eternal Spirit of God, by Whom He offered Himself without spot unto God.' [354/355] So the most fit that can be to bear witness to all; præsens interfuit, et vidit, et audivit, 'was present, heard, and saw,' was acquainted with all that passed; none can speak to the point so well as He.
The Spirit is a Witness, is true every way; but why is it said, 'It is the Spirit That beareth witness,' seeing they both, 'water and blood,' bear it too? It is 'water,' it is 'blood,' that bear witness also. They indeed are witnesses; but it is the Spirit, He it is That is the principal witness, and principally to be regarded, before the rest. Here, He comes in last, but He is indeed first; and so as first is placed at the eighth verse, where they are orderly reckoned up. And good reason. He is one of the Three, both above in Heaven, and beneath in earth; third there above, first here beneath; a Witness in both courts, admitted ad jus testis in both, for His special credit in both; the medius terminius as it were between heaven and earth, between God and man.
Besides it is said, 'It is He, He it is That beareth witness.' For it is neither of the other will do us any good without Him; the whole weight lies upon Him. Not the 'water' without the Spirit, it is but nudum et egenum elementum. Not the 'blood' without the Spirit, nor more than the 'flesh' without 'the Spirit,' non prodest quicquam, as said He, Whose the flesh and blood was, Christ Himself.
Will you see proof without it? Christ came to Simon Magus 'in water'--he was baptized; Christ came to Judas 'in blood'--he was a communicant; but Spirit there came none to testify, they were both never the better. The better? No, the worse. Simon perished in the gall of bitterness; Judas bibit mortem de fonte vitae, from 'the cup of blessing' drank down his own bane. All for want of et Spiritus est. So is it with the word, and with any means less.
But let the testimony of the Spirit come, the 'water' becomes 'a well,' springing up to eternity; the flesh and blood, 'meat that perisheth not, but endureth to life everlasting.'
And even in nature we see this: water, if it be not aqua viva, have not a spirit to move it and make it run, it stands and putrifies; and blood, if no spirit in it, it congeals, and grows corrupt and foul, as the blood of a dead man. 'The [355/356] Spirit' helpeth this, and upon good reason does it. For Christ being conceived by 'the Spirit,' it was most meet all of Christ should be conceived the same way. That which conceived Him, should impregnate His 'water,' should animate His 'blood,' should give the vivificat, the life and vigour, to them both. 'It is the Spirit then That giveth the witness.'
Now, in a witness, above all it is required, he be true: the Spirit is so true, as He is the Truth itself. The Spirit, the Truth? Why Christ says of Himself, 'I am the Truth.' All the better; for, verum vero consonat, one truth will well sort with, will uphold, will make proof one of another, as these two do prove, either other reciprocally. The Spirit, Christ's proof; Christ, the Spirit's. 'Every spirit that confesseth not Christ, 'is not the true spirit. The Spirit Christ's; Christ, if He have not the test of the Spirit, is not the true Christ. Always, the truth is the best witness. And, if He be the Truth, on His test you may bear yourself. Not so on 'water' or 'blood;' without Him, they may well deceive us, and be falsa and fallacia, as wanting the truth, if He, if 'the Spirit' be wanting.
It will then much concern us, to be sure, 'the Spirit' on Whose testimony we are thus wholly to rely, that that Spirit be the Truth. And it is the main point of all, to be able to discern 'the Spirit,' that is the Truth; because as there is a 'Spirit of Truth,' so is there a 'spirit of error' abroad in the world--yes many such spirits; and the Apostle who tells us of alium Jesum, in the same verse tells us of alium spiritum too. We be then to try which spirit is the Truth; that so the Spirit on Whose witness we rest ourselves, be the Truth. How take we notice of the Spirit? How knew the angel was come down into the pool of Bethesda, but by the stirring and moving of the water? So by stirring up in us spiritual motions, holy purposes and desires, is the Spirit's coming known. Specially if they do not vanish again. For if they do, then was it some other flatuous matter, which will quiver in the veins, and unskilful people call it the life-blood, but the spirit it was not. The spirit's motion, the pulse is not for awhile, and then ceases; but is perpetual, holds as long as life holds, though intermittent sometimes, for some little space.
[356/357] Yet hold we it not safe, to lay overmuch weight upon good motions, which may come of divers causes, and of which good motions there are as many in hell as in heaven. The surest way is to lay it on that our Saviour and His Apostles so often lay it, that is, on Spiritus vivificat. The life is ever the best indicant sign of the spirit. Novum supervenisse Spiritum, nova vitæ ratio demonstrat, 'that a new Spirit is come, a new course of life is the best demonstration.'
Now life is best known by vital actions. Three the Scripture counteth: 1. Spiritus ubi vult spirat, by breath; 2. Spiritus manifeste loquitor, by speech; 3. Omnia hæc operatur unus idemque Spiritus, by the work;--these three.
1. The nearest and most proper note of the Spirit is spiration or breathing. In breathing there is a double act: 1. There is systole, a drawing in of the air, and that is cold, agrees with Christ in 'water;' there comes a cool breath ever from the water. 2. And there is a diastole, a sending forth of the breath; and that we know is warm, and agreeth with Christ 'in blood.' For blood it is, that sends a warm vapour into all the limbs.
Agreeable to these two, have you the two Spirits, which upon the matter are but the two acts of one and the same Spirit; 1. Inspired, 'the Spirit of fear,'--the fear of God. 2. Out-breathed, 'the Spirit of faith.'--faith in Christ. Fear comes 'in water,' so saith Solomon, 'The fear of God is fons vitæ, the well spring of life,' that is 'water.' Faith comes in 'blood;' per fidem in sanguine Ipsius, through faith in His blood. So is every one who is born of the Spirit. And to blow out faith, and never draw in fear, is suspicious, is not safe. The true spiration, the breathing aright, consisting of these two, is a sign of the right spirit.
The next sign in the same verse too; 'and you hear the noise of it.' For so the Apostle saith, 'the Spirit speaks evidently;' that is His noise and speech, is evidently to be distinguished from those of other spirits. His coming in tongues this day, sheweth no less. Which sign of speech doeth best and most properly sort here, with a witness. For a witness, what he has to testify, speaks it out vocally.
What noise then is heard from us, (What breathe we? What 'speaks the Spirit manifestly' from our mouths?) if [357/358] cursing and bitterness, and many a foul oath, if this noise be heard from us; if we breathe minas et cædes, 'bluster out threatening and slaying'--that noise; if saproÕj lÒgoj, 'rotten, corrupt, obscene communication' come out of our mouths? we are of Galilee, and our very speech 'bewrayeth' us. This is not the breath of the Spirit, this He speaks not. Evidently He speak it not. It is not the tongue of Heaven this: not sicut dedit Spiritus eloqui, no utterance of the Spirit's giving. Some of Christ's water would do well to wash these out of our mouths. The speech sounding of the Spirit, is a sign of the true Spirit.
The last, but the surest of all, Omnia haec operatur Spiritus. And the work is as clearly to be distinguished as the speech. Each spirit has his proper work, and is known by it. No man ever saw the works of the devil come from the Spirit of God. Be not deceived, the works of uncleanness come from no spirit, but 'the unclean spirit.' The works of Cain, from 'the spirit of envy;' the works of Demas, 'from the spirit of the world.' All the gross errors of our life from the spirit of error. But this, this is 'the Spirit of truth;' and the breath, the speech, the operations of Him, bear witness that He is so. Now, if He will despose that 'the water and blood' Christ came in, He came in for us, and we our parts in them; in them, and in them both; and so deposing, if we feel His breath, hear His speech, see His works accordingly, we may receive His 'witness' then, for His 'witness' is true.
Now, that upon this day, the day of the Spirit, 'the Spirit' may come and bear this 'witness to Christ's 'water and blood,' there is to be water and blood for 'the Spirit,' to bear witness to. So was there ever as this day, in the Church of Christ. 'Water,' a solemn baptism in memory of the first 'three thousand,' this day baptized by St. Peter. And 'blood:' never a more frequent Eucharist than at Pentecost, in honour of this Spirit, to which St. Paul made such haste with his alms and offerings. Witness the great works done by Pentecostal oblations; which very oblations remain in Churches to this day.
So are we now come to the reversal, to the last non solum; and here it is. Not in the Spirit alone, but in 'water and blood,' reciproce. As not these without the Spirit, so neither [358/359] the Spirit without these, that is, without the Sacrament wherein these be. So have we a perfect circle now. Neither in 'water' without 'blood,' nor in 'blood' without 'water,' nor in them alone without 'the Spirit;' nor in the Spirit alone, without them.
This day comes to us 'in blood,' in the Sacrament of it so. But as we have said before, either is in the other. 'Blood' is not ministered, but there is an ingredient of the purifying virtue of 'water' withal in it: so He comes in 'water too.' Yea, comes in 'water' first--so lie they in the text; 'water' to go before with us. So did it, at the very institution itself of this Sacrament. The 'pitcher of water,' and he who carried it, was not in vain given for a sign; went not before them who were sent to make ready for it, for nothing.
It had a meaning, that water, and it had a use. Their feet were washed with it, and their feet being clean, they were 'clean every whit.' Many make ready for it, that see neither water nor pitcher. It were well they did, their feet would be washed; so would their 'hands in innocency,' that are to go to His altar. 'In innocency,' that is, in a steadfast purpose of keeping ourselves clean:--so to come. For to come and not with that purpose, better not come at all. To find a feeling of this purpose before, and to mark well the success and effect that does follow after. For if it fail us continually, Christ did not come. For when He comes, though it be in 'blood,' yet He comes with 'water' at the same time. Ever in both, never in one alone.
His blood is not only drink to nourish, but medicine to purge. To nourish the new man, which is faint and weak, God wot; but to take down the old, which is rank in most. It is the proper effect of His blood; it does 'cleanse our consciences from dead works, to serve the living God.'
Which if we find it does, Christ is come to us, as He is to come. And the Spirit is come, and puts His test. And if we have His test, we may go our way in peace; we have kept a right feast to him, and to the memory of His coming.
'Even so come Lord Jesus,' and come O blessed Spirit, and bear witness to our spirit, that Christ's water and His blood, we have our part in both; both, 'in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,' and 'in the blood of the [359/360] New Testament,' the legacy whereof is everlasting life in Your kingdom of glory. Whither Christ That paid the purchase and the Spirit That giveth the seisin, vouchsafe to bring us all.