And of such a Spirit never had the world more need than now; never more need of one to guide us into all truth than at this time, wherein we are pestered and surrounded all with error, with all sorts of error; never more need that "the Spirit of truth" should come to guide us than now, when there are so many spirits up and abroad that men know not which to follow. "Come, Holy Ghost, eternal God," never fitter to be sung than now."
For, by the face of our hemisphere, we may seem either to have lost him quite, or with those in S. Peter, we may ask, Where is the promise of his coming? When he is come indeed, he will guide us into all truth, yea, but when is that?
When comes he?
Why, this day he came; this day was this Scripture ful-filled; this day this promised made good. The Spirit of truth came down from heaven upon the Apostles this day, so that from this day forward they spake all tongues and truths, who before were both ignorant of the one and could not bear many of the other.
Well, but the Apostles are dead, and all the disciples that could pretend to those gifts and prerogatives are dead, and we neither speak with tongues by the Spirit, nor understand all truths any of us, nor can yet hear of any that do. Is his [202/203] promise then utterly come to an end for evermore? Certainly either come he is not, or lead us he does not, or into truth he does not, or into but a little, and that but very few of us; or we at this end of the world have no part or portion in his coming; something or other there is, some reason or other to be given why this wind, this Spirit, does not blow upon us.
That he is come, this day of Pentecost plainly tells us; that he is come not to go again, Christ's own promise that he should "abide with us for ever" does assure us; that to us it is he comes, though not visibly, as this day, yet invisibly every day, -which is as much for truth, though not for tongues,--S. Peter tells us in his sermon this day out of the prophet Joel, that the "Spirit is to be poured upon all flesh," so upon ours too; and the Spirit for his part is always reach, ever and anon calling us to "come." So that the fault will lie upon ourselves, not the Spirit, that he guides us not into all truth.
The truth is, men are not disposed as they should be. He that looks into their ways and pursuits after truth may see it without spectacles. Other spirits are set up, new lights advanced, private spirits preferred, all the people are become leaders, every man thinks himself of age to answer for himself, and to guide himself, so that there is either nobody to be guided--all the Lord's people being kings and priests and prophets--or else nobody will be, but according to their own fancies, prejudices, interests, and humours. This is the true posture, the very face of religion now-a-days, and the true reason that this Spirit of truth ceases to guide them into truth: for, he leads none but those that will be led, and they will not, he is only sent to guide, not to hale them on or drive them forward. To you, disciples, such as are willing to be taught; not to them that will be all masters. To those that could not bear all truths then; not to those that would not then, nor to those that will not now, who make Christ's promise of none effect to themselves by their own perverseness.
Time was--and this day it was- when he found men better disposed for his coming, found them together at their prayers, not, as now, together by the ears; of one accord, [203/204] not in sects and factions, waiting all for the promise of his coming, not preventing it as Saul did Samuel, with a foolish sacrifice, only, as himself confesses, "lest the people should forsake him," and, as is usual now, not to stay the coming of "the Spirit of truth," but to set up one of their own, no matter of what, to keep the people from scattering and forsaking them, any spirit, so it can keep them to them.
They were to wait for the "promise of the Father," which was the Spirit of truth. They did, and had it. Do we so, and so we shall too. Our case still is the same with theirs. They could not bear all truths together, no more can we. They stood in need of daily teaching--we do more. They wanted a guide--we cannot go without him. Truth is still as necessary to be known as then it was. To this purpose was the holy Spirit promised, to this purpose sent, to this purpose served, and serve he does still, the necessity being the same, like to be the same for ever; only fit we ourselves to receive him when he comes; and howbeit things look strangely, and this promise seems almost impossible now, the Spirit of truth will come, and "when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide them," &c.
The words are Christ's promise of sending the holy Spirit, now the fifth time repeated, to raise up the spirits of the drooping disciples, now ready to faint and he away, upon the discourse of their Lord's departure. He was now shortly to bid adieu to the world and them; yet so much he loved theme that he would not leave them comfortless; though himself, who was their only joy and comfort, was to go away, yet he would not leave them without another Comforter. Though he that was "the way," must ascend, yet a guide should presently descend to guide them after him; though he who was "the truth" must back to heaven, yet the " Spirit of truth" should forthwith come down to guide them into all truth, to bring them thither. So that here, even without a guide, you may easily find two considerables.
1. The advent, or coming of the holy Spirit: "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come."
2. The intent or purpose of it, the end and benefit of his advent or coming: "he will guide you into all truth;" that is the business.
[204/205] In the first we shall consider,
(1.) His title, " he, the Spirit of truth."
(2.) His motion, "is come."
(3.) His time, "when," indefinite it is here, but a due time it has, and we will strive to learn when it is.
(1.) His manner of coming: (i.) invisibly, as a Spirit; (ii.) effectually, as a Spirit of truth; (iii.) gently; and (iv.) softly both implied in the word or term of "coming;" (v.) sud-denly too sometimes, "when" he is come; as if so suddenly, that we should not feel or know it till he is.
In the second--the intent or benefit of his coming--we shall observe,
(1.) The benefit, what it is; to lead (2) whither? "Into truth." Into truth, (3) how far? "Into all truth." Yea, but (4) to whom all these? To you, even to lead you; you, and you, and you, all of us, in our way, in our order, one after another. Tea, but, lastly, lead us, and into truth, and into all truth; but how? _Odhghsei, says the text, show and make and draw us out a way, and conduct and move and actuate us in it.
Which we have thus considered them single and apart, we will join them again together and so leave them;--tell you how the leading is always proportionate to his coming; as he comes, so he leads. If he comes miraculously and extraor-dinarily, so he leads; if invisibly and ordinarily, so he leads; as much as he comes into us, so much he leads us; as is his coming so is his leading and no other; the one answerable to the other.
And, lastly, all this we shall make good from Christ's promise here: (1,) that his promise we have for it, who will not, cannot fail us; (2,) promise upon promise; (3,) a pro-mise with a no obstante, with a "howbeit;" that howbeit all else should fail, this should not; howbeit to the world this Spirit may prove something else than a guide, a reprover, or a judge, yet to us lie shall be a guide into the way of truth. This will be the sum, these the heads of my discourse, which that I may happily pursue, Come, thou, O Spirit of truth, and guide my thoughts and words this day, that I may teach thy ways unto the people, and declare thy truth.
[205/206] We are to begin with the Spirit's advent, or his coming; for come to us he must before he guide us; and that his entertainment may be according, inquire we, first, Who it is? his titles here will best inform you: "He the Spirit of," &c.
1. "He!" what is "He?'' "He" is a relative, relates to an antecedent, refers to some person mentioned before. Who is that? (1,) "The Comforter." Who is "He?" "The Com-forter, (2,) which is the holy Ghost," (3,) one that the "world cannot receive;" so great, that the world, as wide as it is, cannot contain him; so good, that the world, which, as S. John speaks, lies in wickedness, cannot receive him; (4,) a Comforter that shall "abide for ever;" an eternal Com-forter, (5,) "whom I will send unto you from my Father;" a heavenly Comforter, "which proceedeth from the Father," (the same verse,) a Comforter who is the very "Spirit of God," or God the Spirit proceeding. This is "he" we speak of; this is he that is said here to come, that is said still to come.
2. Well may the Evangelist stand and stop at his ekeinoj here; stand and take breath here at this "he;" as if he knew not how to go further, how to call him, how to express him: he, the Comforter; he, that abides for ever; he, whom the world cannot receive; he, the Holy Ghost; he, that proceeds from the Father and the Son: all this he had said already, and more he thought he could not say, and therefore now here makes a halt as I may say, "he," and no more, to give us time to consider of the greatness of the person that is to come, and to prepare for his coming.
Yet to confirm all that before he has said of him, as he began the promise of him under the name of "the Spirit of truth," so he concludes it with the same title, that we might know all that he has said is truth, all that Christ has pro-mised of him is no more than truth; for he is the Spirit of truth: "the Spirit of truth."
1. To make good and true all that Christ had promised, the very seal and signature of our redemption, to seal the conveyance of our inheritance to us; to make that good, "to bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God;" to make all good to us both in heaven and in earth.
[206/207] 2. He is "the spirit of Truth" because the Spirit of God and Christ. God is truth, and Christ is the truth; and "the Spirit of God" he is, and "the Spirit of Christ" he is; so, to be sure, "the Spirit of truth," if of God and Christ.
3. The Spirit of truth is "the Spirit of prophecy;" those "holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"--"who spake by the prophets," says the Nicene Creed; and prophets they are not, but liars, who speak not the truth, nor is it prophecy, if it be not truth.
4. "The Spirit of truth," for that as he inspires grace, so he doth truth too, all supernatural truth to be sure: for truths there are many and spirits there are many, but no truth but from him, nor no "Spirit of truth" but he himself; "he is the fountain of truth," as in him and from him it is we live and breathe; he breathes into us this breath of life, the spirit of life from this Spirit; so from this "Spirit of truth" all the truth that at any time breathes from us, even natural truths and the truths of reason; but that is not it. Inspired truths, spiritual truths, they are the proper effects of this Spirit: other truths may he from him, nay, are originally all from him, as all good from God that eternal source of good-ness; but they may sometimes arise and breathe from our own spirits within, or be put into us by other spirits, be the ministry of angels from without; but inspired truths from this Spirit alone.
Angels, indeed, are sometimes the "messengers" of it, but never called the "spirits" of it; they bring it, they do not breathe it: when they have brought it and done their message, be it never so true, never so comfortable, it will not comfort, but amaze us; it will not sink into us, but lie only at our doors till this Spirit breathe and work it in. lie alone Spiritus veritatis, the Inspirer of truth.
Hence it is that this Spirit of all spirits is only called "the Comforter," for that he only lets in the comfort to the heart, whatever spirit is the messenger. Be it the angels, those spirits and messengers of heaven, or be it the ministers, those messengers upon earth, with all the life and spirit they can give their words, no comfort from either, unless this "Spirit of truth" blow open the doors, inspire and breathe in with them. Truth itself cannot work upon our spirits but [207/208] by the inspiration of this Spirit of truth. It is but a dead letter, a vanishing voice, a were piece of articulate air; the best, the greatest, the soundest truth no other; it has no spirit, it has no life, but from this Spirit of truth.
To conclude this point. It is not, when "the Spirit of truth is come," or, when " he, that is, the Comforter," is come, though both be but one, " He shall guide you "--neither title single ; but "He," the Spirit of truth," both together: to teach us, first, (1,) that the truth which this Spirit brings is full of comfort, always comfortable. Startle us it may a little at the first, but then presently, "Fear not," comes presently to comfort us: trouble us it may a little at the first, nay, and bring some tribulation with it, as times may be: but ere the verse be out, ere the words be out almost, "be of good cheer," says Christ, it is but " in the world," and I "have overcome the world," and in me "ye shall have peace," that came before; so that tribulation is encompassed with comfort. "Ye shall be sorrowful" indeed, "but your sorrow shall be turned into joy;" the first is no sooner mentioned but the other follows, as fast as the comma will let it. Christ's truth, and this Spirit's truth, is the Comforter's truth, as well as the Spirit's, and have not only spirit to act and do, but comfort also in the doing, and after it, to be sure. Nay,
Joined so, (2,) "He, the Spirit of truth," to teach us again, that nothing can comfort us but the truth, no spirit hold up our spirits but the Spirit of truth. Lies and falsehoods may uphold us for a time, and keep up our spirits, but long they will not hold; a few days will discover them, and then we are sadder than at first. To be deluded adds shame to our grief; it is this Spirit only that is the spirit of our life, that keeps us breathing and alive; it is only truth that truly comforts us; which, even thee when it appears most troublesome and at the worst, has this comfort with it,--that we see it, that we see the worst, need fear no more; whilst the joys that rise from false apprehensions or lying vanities, indeed from any-thing below this Spirit of truth and heaven, bring so much fear of a change, or close, or too sudden an end, that I may well say they have no comfort with then. They flow not from this Comforter, they come not from this Spirit; that is the reason they have no comfort, no spirit in them. It may [208/209] well occasion us as soon as we can to look after this "he, the Spirit of truth," and for our own sakes inquire where he is, watch his motion, what, and whence, and whither it is.
II. To understand the motion and coming of the Spirit, what it means, we can take no better way than to peruse the phrases of the holy book, colder what terms it elsewhere does deliver it. The first tune we hear of it we read it "moving;" the next time "striving with mall;" then "filling" him; then resting upon'' him. Sometimes he is said to "come;" sometimes to "enter into" us; sometimes to "fall upon" us; sometimes to be "put upon"; sometimes to be put into" us; sometimes to breathe, sometimes to "blow upon" us. All these ways is he said to come; whether he move us to good, or strive with us against evil, or fill us with sundry gifts and graces, or rest upon us in their continuance; whether he comes upon us in the power of his administrations; or whether he enter, as it were, and possess us wholly as his own; whether he appear in us, or without us; whether he conic upon us so suddenly, and unusually, that he seems even to fall upon us, or be put upon us by ordinary ways and means; whether by imposition on, or breathing in; whether by a softer breath, or a stronger blast; whether lie come in the feathers of a dove, or on the wings of the wield; whether in file or in tongues; whether in a visible shape, or in an invisible power and grace they are his comings all--sometimes one way, sometimes another--his comings they are all. Yet but some, not all of His comings, for all "his ways are past finding out," and teach us a lesson against curiosity in searching his out-goings.
And yet this word "come'' sounds somewhat hard for all this still. Did we not say he was God? And can God be said to "come" any whither, who is everywhere? Nay, of this very Spirit expressly says the Psalmist, "Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit?" And if I cannot go from him, what needs his coming? "Coming," here, is a word of grace and favour; and certainly, be we never so much under his eye, we need that, need his grace, need his favour: nay, so much the more because he is so near us, that so we may do nothing un-worthy of his presence. But he speaks to us after the manner of men, who, if they be persons of quality, and come to visit us, we count it both a favour and honour. So, by [209/210] inversion, when God bestows either favours or honours on us, when this holy Spirit bestows a grace, or a gift, or a truth
upon its that we had not before, then is he said to come to us.
I need not now trouble myself much to find out whence he comes. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above," says S. James: from heaven it is he comes from the Father he "sends him;" from the Son, he "sends him" too, in this very chapter. And this is not only the place whence he comes, but here are the persons, too, whence he proceeds. So that n_w we have gained the knowledge, not only of his temporal, but his eternal coming too; his eternal procession, which though it be not the coming promised or intended here, yet, coming, here upon the context and coherence, relating so evidently to sending, gives us but a just occasion doth to remember to whom we owe this benefit, the Father and the Son, the greatness of it, in that it is no less them infinite--the Spirit of God, God himself.
And it is but fit here and everywhere to take notice of it, that as the whence is above, so the whither is beneath, very much beneath him. But we reserve that to a fitter place, when we come to the persons that are guided by him. It is best now to suspend a while the search of the nature, to inquire into the time and manner of hiss coming. But the time is next: "when he is come."
III. Yea, but when is that Sane, novum supervenisse spiritum nova desideria demonstrant, says S. Bernard; you may know he is come (i) by the desires he works in you; when those begin to be spiritual, hearty, sincere, and true to God, then is the Spirit of truth come into you; if you begin to long and breathe, and gasp after heaven, it is a sign some heavenly breath of the Spirit, at least, is slipped into you.
(ii.) When this Spirit that paints and beats after God within, breathes out at the lips too, ere it he long, in prayers to God, and praises of him; in good communication all bitterness, and malice, and evil speaking, and vanity too being laid aside as becometh saints. 'This is a good sing too, a true sign too, if it be not merely godly phrases taken nip to make a slow, or to deceive; if it proceeds from the heart and inward spirit. [210/211] (iii.) But the surest sign of it is in the hand, in the works, if they be such as are the genuine fruits of the Spirit,--"love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." These are the Spirit's perpetual attend-ants when lie comes. Boast men may of the Spirit, but if they have no love,--if they be not the sons of peace,--if pa-tience and long-suffering be no virtue with them, -if gentle-ness appear not in their carriage,--if goodness and bounty to the poor abound not in then, as well as faith,--if they he not meek, and humble, and sober, and temperate-temperate in diet, in apparel, in language, in passion, and affections, and all things else; boast they while they will of the Spirit, and the Spirit of truth, that they have it, work and move by it, are guided by it, it will prove but the spirit of error, or the spirit of giddiness, or the spirit of slumber (they do but dream it), or but their own spirit, at the best; for such a one we read of, and of prophets that went according to it: "foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing;" ignorant prophets, who know nothing, yet pretend they know more than all the learned, all the Fathers that are gone; crafty "foxes" only they are, says the prophet, cunning to spoil and ravine; that seduce the people, saying, "Peace, when there is no peace;" they "build and daub with untempered morter," build up Babel, the house of contusion ; and plaister up all the Scripture's tests that are against them with incoherent comments, wild distinctions and interpreta-tions, that stick together like untempered mortar. They make "the righteous sad, and strengthen the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life." And yet they there pretended the Spirit,--that he was come to them, and God had sent them, when indeed it was no other spirit from the Lord than such a one as came from him upon Saul when the good Spirit was departed from him. The Spirit of truth wants no such covering, no such mortar; makes not "the righteous sad," makes nobody sad by any oppression, joy is the fruit of it; strengthens not the wicked in his wickedness; it is all for jus-tice and righteous dealing. And where it comes upon any, it---as Samuel foretold it, and Saul found it--gives him "another heart," turns him into another man." The "new man" [211/212] S. Paul calls it, "created in righteousness and true holiness."
Indeed, there was another kind of coming of his this day. He came to-day, not only into the hearts but upon the heads of the Apostles; sat there, and thence dispersed his heavenly light into rays and flames; came down in wind and fire, and tongues: in wind, to show that it was the holy Spirit, the very breath of heaven; that came in fire, to signify the light of truth it brought; and in tongues, to express it to the world. But it was his inauguration day, the first solemnity of his appearance, that so both the disciples and the world might know that come he was whom Christ had promised, and be convinced by a visible apparition, who else would not have been convicted by any inward evidence which had been without it.
But thus he appeared but only once. In the effect of tongues indeed, but not in the appearance of them, he twice afterwards fell upon some disciples,--upon the centurion and his company, the first-fruits of the Gentiles, and upon those disciples at Ephesus, who knew nothing but John's baptism, that so they might sensibly find the difference of John's bap-tism and Christ's. They both, as soon as they were baptized, "spake with tongues," says the text; the one so honoured, to teach this truth, that in all nations, whoever doth right-eousness shall be accepted, the Gentiles now in Christ as well accepted as the Jews; the other so highly favoured, that imperfect Christians might be encouraged to go on, and not be dismayed to see so many glorious professors so exceedingly transcend them.
These comings were miraculous; only to found Christianity and settle an article of faith, the article of the Holy Ghost, newer distinctly known to the world till Christianity arose. Christ himself was fain to confirm his divinity by signs and miracles; and the Godhead of the Holy Ghost can be per-suaded by no less. But this once done, he was to lead us by an ordinary track,--no longer now by sight, but faith, that salvation alight be "through faith" and the blessing upon them "who have not seen, and yet have believed."
This, I must needs say, seems the prime and proxime meaning of the words, but not the full "When he is [212/213] come," points chiefly and nearest at this his first and nearest coming, but not only at it; else are we in an ill case now, if no Spirit to cone to us, no guide to lead us, no truth to settle us. It must extend beyond that his visible coming, to the ways of his coming unto us still, unseen and unheard; or however expedit vobis, it was expedient for them that Christ should go away, that the Comforter might come, for us it is not, I am sure, if we have none to come. Settle we therefore, this for an article of our faith, that he comes still. I told you before how you should know it by his breathing inwardly in you, good thoughts and desires,--his breathings outwardly, good words and expressions,--by his workings with you, good life and actions; in a word, by his gifts and graces.
But if this be all, why is it now said, "when he is come?" Came he not thus before, to the patriarchs and prophets? Were not they partakers of his gifts, moved, and stirred, and actuated by him? Why then so much ado about Christ's sending him now, and of his coming now, as if he was never sent, never came before?
(1.) We read indeed in the Old Testament often of his com-ing, never of his sending, but by way of promise, that God would send, or of prophecy that he should be sent, and that but once neither expressly, Emittes Spriritum et creabuntur. So, though come he did, in those days of old, yet voluntarily, merely, we might conceive, never sent, never so distinct a notion of his person then; then only as the Spirit of God, now as the Spirit of the Father and the Son; then only as the power of God, now as a Person in the Godhead. This the first difference between his coming then and now.
(2.) Then he came as the Spirit of prophecy, now--as the Spirit of truth: that is, as the very truth and fulfilling of it, of all the former prophecies.
(3.) Then upon Judaea, and few else besides; it may be Job in the land of Uz, and Rahab in Jericho, and Ruth in Moab; here and there, now and then one; now "upon all flesh:" upon Jew and Gentile, both alike; the partition wall, like the walls of Jericho, blown down by the breath of this Spirit, by the blast of this horn of the Most high.
(4.) Then most in types and shadows, now clearly and in truth.
(5.) Then sparingly, they only sprinkled with it; now poured out, Joel's effundam fulfilled, a common phrase become now, "full of the holy Ghost," and "filled with the Spirit."
(6.) Then he came and went, lighted a little, but stayed not, motabat or volitabat, flew or fluttered about, moved and stirred them at times, as it did Samson, coming and going; now it is he is come. He sate him down upon the Apostles, sate him down in the chair at their synod, Visum est Spiritui Sancto et nobis; calls us his temples now, not his tabernacles, places of a during habitation, and is to abide with us for ever.
Lastly. Then he came to help them in the observance of the Jewish and moral law, now to plant and settle an obedi-ence to the Christian faith. For Christ being to introduce
a more perfect and explicate faith in the blessed Trinity, and Redeemer, to wean men from the first elements and beggarly rudiments, as the Apostle calls them; to raise them from earthly to heavenly promises; to elevate them to higher degrees of love, and hope, and charity, and virtue, and know-ledge; and being besides to arm them against those contra-dictions and oppositions that would be made against them by the world, those persecutions and horrid ways of martyrdom they were to encounter with in the propagation of the Chris-tian faith;--for these ends it was necessary that the Spirit of truth should come anew, and come with power, as it did at first with wonder, that by its work and power those great and glorious truths might be readily received and embraced. For this seems the very end of his coming, to "convince the world," and "to testily of him;" and "to glorify him," in the very next verse to the text; to evince this new revealed truth to the souls and consciences of men that Messiah was come, that Jesus Was the Christ, that the Jewish sacrifices were now to have an end, that the prophecies were all fulfilled in him, that his law was now to succeed in the place of Moses', that he justified where the law could not; that through him now, in his name, and in none other, salvation henceforth was to be preached to Jews and Gentile, and God had opened now that door of hope to all the world. To bear witness to this, and persuade this truth, so opposite to natural and Jewish reason, or so much above the ordinary reach of the one, [214/215] and the received customs of the other; thus to enhance piety and perfection, thus to set up Christ above the natural and Mosaic law; thus now to glorify G_d in Christ, and Christ as Christ; need there was, great need, that the Spirit of truth himself should come himself, after a new fashion, in a greater manifestation of his power than in former times, bring greater grace, because he required of us a greater work.
All this while we have given you but general notions of his coming, either when he first came in his fulness on the Apostles and first disciples; or when, secondly, he comes on any, as the Holy Spirit, in good motions and affections. We are yet to see when he comes as the Spirit of truth. To descend now, thirdly, to a distinct and particular inquiry, When the Spirit of truth is in us, or come to us,--when we have him in us?
Nor is this way of consideration less necessary than the other; though (it may be) harder far, forsomuch as we daily see many a pious Christian soul seduced into error, in whom yet we cannot doubt but the Holy Spirit has a dwelling; -many a good man also err in many opinions, of whose portion of the good Spirit we make no question; whilst some, many, others of less piety, it may be none, more fully know the truth than either of the other.
Understand, therefore, there is a double way of knowing even divine truth; (1,) the one by the way of natural reason, by principles and conclusions rationally and logically de-duced out of the evidences of Scripture; (2,) the other by particular assents and dissents of the understanding and will purified and sanctified to all ready obedience to Christ.
By the first, it comes that the greatest scholars, the most learned and rational men, know always the most truths, both speculative and practick, both in their principles and infer-ences, and are therefore always fittest to determine doubts, and give counsel and direction, both what to believe and what to do, in all particular controversies and debates which concern either truth or error, or justice and injustice, right or wrong, the practices and customs of former times and Churches, or their contraries and disuses. And this may be done without the Spirit of sanctification, or the holy sancti-fying Spirit, under that title at least, though indeed, under [215/216] another title, it comes from him. As the "gift of tongues" or "interpretation," or "prophecy" or "the word of wisdom," or "the word of knowledge," are reckoned by the Apostle to come from the same Spirit, it may be most properly from him, as he is the Spirit of truth.
By the second way of knowledge it comes to pass, that men of less capacities and lower understandings, applying their affections as well as understandings to embrace the truth, do know and understand it more effectually, are more resolute in the defence of it, express it better in their lives, and know more sometimes of the particular ways of G_d in his particular providence and direction of the affairs of his saints, (for of this kind of wisdom "the fear of the Lord" always is "the beginning,") and it often happens, of the pas-sages of the world too, as they relate to God's disposing order. Yet by reason of the inabilities of understanding, or want of the course or means of knowledge, it falls out that they oftener err in the conceits and apprehensions of things than the other. And more than so, it as often comes to pass, whether to humble them when they begin to be proud of their holiness and piety, and think themselves so much above other men-wiser, better, more holy, more right-eous than they; or to punish them for some particular sin, as disobedience, curiosity of inquiring into depths above them, singularity, discontentedness, self-seeking, or the like; or to stir up their endeavours, now beginning to languish; or to make them yet more circumspect and wary in their ways; for these or some such causes, I say, it comes to pass that God suffers them to run into grand and enormous errors, foul and foolish extravagances of opinion, which if once they trench on, practise, and are deliberate in, or might with easy industry have been avoided, even grieve and quench that holy Spirit that was in them, and expel him too; but if their errors be unvoluntary, not easy for them at that time to be avoided, or of lesser moment, stains they may with the Spirit of grace, and they good men still.
How, therefore, now shall we know what is from the Spirit of truth, when he conies so to us, is but a necessary inquiry; yet the resolution is hard and difficult. I know no better way to resolve you than by searching the nature of this Spirit [216/217] of truth, as Christ has pleased to express him in his last most holy and comfortable discourse, of which the text is but a part, the several expressions of whose nature and office set together will, I and confident, assure us of a way to discern the Spirit of truth, when it is that he speaketh in us. You may turn your leaves and go along with me.
"The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive;" so then, (1,) if the article or opinion which we receive be such an one as the world cannot, if it be contrary to worldly interests, carnal respects, sensual pleasures, it is a good sign at first. If it cannot enter into a carnal or natural man's heart if "man's wisdom" teach it not, as the Apostle speaks--if it grow not in the garden of nature--that is a good sign it is "the Spirit of truth is come" that thus enables us to receive a doctrine so disadvantageous and displeasing.
Look into the next verse (ver.18): "I will not leave you comfortless." If, then, (2,) it be such an assertion that has good ground in it to rest upon, that will not fail us in distress, that will stick by us in our deepest agonies, comfort us in our greatest discomforts, not leave us when all earthly comforts do,--then it is from above, then it is a true comfort, a truth from this "he," this "Spirit of truth," that is "the Comforter" too.
See next, verse 26: "He shall teach you all things, bring John all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you." if then, (3,) it be an assertion that carries the analogy of faith along with it, that agrees with all the other principles of Christian faith,--that is, according to the rule of Christ's holy word, that soberly and truly brings to our remem-brance what he has said at any time, or done for us; that remembers both the words that he spake and the deals that he has done, his actions and example; if it be according to his example of humility, obedience, patience, and love; if it bring us heartily to remember this Christ's pattern in our lives and opinions too, then it comes from him that should come, and is worth your receiving and remembering it.
In the same verse again, in the words just before, he is called "the Comforter," and "Holy Ghost," who is also there promised to teach us too. And if the doctrine be such, that not only comforts us in the receiving and remembrance, [217/218] but such also as becomes comforters too, that teaches us comfort others,--the poor and needy, the afflicted and distressed, and to do it holily too, as by the Holy Ghost---that is, with good and pure intentions--and do it even to their ghosts and spirits, as well its to their bodies; if it teach true, holy, ghostly, spiritual counsel, and all other convenient comfort to then our Christian brethren; then it is, (4,) a doctrine from this Spirit of truth : he comes in it.
Turn ye now to chap. xv. 26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father," &c. When the doctrine (5) is no other than what either esta-blishes the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or contradicts it not, and in all benefits received refers thanks and acknowledgment to the one as well as the other; as from the one, through the other, by a third: -in this particular it is no other than the Spirit of truth, for no other spirit can reveal it.
Go on now through the verse: "He shall testify of me." The doctrine (6) that bears witness of Christ, that he is God, that he is man, that he is Christ, the Saviour of the world; that he came to save sinners, all whosoever would come to him, not a few particular ones only; that he is a complete and universal Saviour, such as he professed himself by enter-taining all comers, sending his Spirit and Apostles into all nations, commanding them to "preach to every creature," which are no other than his own words; this is also from the Spirit of truth; a doctrine worthy him that is the Comforter that brings so general a comfort with it.
Step now into the next chapter, to which we owe the text: "When he is come he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment." When the doctrine is (7) such as it reproves the world of sin; that it can do no good of itself; that it is full of evil and corruption; convinces it, and finds fault with it for infidelity and unbelief; sets up Christ's righteousness and blames the world for neglecting it, and following its own vanity, interests, and humours; professes the prince of the world cast out by Christ, the devil overcome and brought to judgment by him, our sins for-given, we acquitted, and the world condemned; this cannot [218/219] be from the spirit of the world, nor from the spirit of the flesh nor from the spirit of darkness and error,--for this were to bear witness against themselves,--but from the Spirit of light and truth.
Read the text now over again: "When he," &c. "he shall guide you into all truth." If it be the Spirit of truth that informs you, it will (8) dispose you equa1ly to all truth; but to this only, or to that, which most agrees with your educa-tion, humour, temper, or disposition, condition, custom, interest, or estate, but universally to all, to any though never so hard or opposite to them, so they be truths, he that is thus affected towards truth, is not only probable to be directed into truth, in all his doctrines and assertions, but may most properly be said to have the Spirit of truth already come, speaking and residing in him.
Yet go a little further to the next words: "he shah not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear;" that spirit (9) that does not seek itself, that opinion which renounces the glory of a leader, the ambition of a faction, the affecta-tion of singularity, the honour of himself, that speaks not of its own head, but what he has heard with his ears, and his fathers have declared as done in the time of old; that makes not new opinions, but takes up the old, such as Christ de-livered to the Apostles, they also to the Fathers, they down-ward to their successors; this is most probably, if not most certainly, the Spirit of truth. The spirit, sure, of humility it is, that trusts riot, relies not on itself or its own judgment and the spirit of humility is the Spirit of truth; for "them that be meek and humble, them shall he guide in judgment and such as be gentle, them does he learn his way."
Yet on a little: "And he will show you things to come." Those doctrines (10) that refer all to the world to come, which mind nothing seriously but things above and things to come, which ever and only teach us to fix there, they are surely from the Spirit of truth, because no truth like that which is to fulfil all promises, and that to be sure is yet "to come."
One more glance and I have done with this; and it is but a glance to the very next words: "He shall glorify me." Those doctrines which give God all the glory, which return [219/220] the glory of all to Christ; which so exalt man only as the better thereby to glorify God; so set up Christ as that they make him both the healer of our nature and the preserver of it, the remitter of our sins and the conferrer of grace--the first mover of us to good, the assister of us in it, the sanctifier of us with it, the justifier of us through it, the rewarder of us for it, and yet all this while the acceptor of us when we have done the best; which accuse not Christ of false judgment in justifying the sinner whilst he is no better, and pronouncing him just when he is no other than wicked and unjust, nor deny the efficacy of his grace to make us clean, to have a true cleansing, purifying, sanctifying power, as well as that which they call the justifying: these doctrines which take not tins glory away from Christ, but give the power as well of making as pronouncing righteous to his grace, that thus magnify and glorify his justification and redemption, they certainly glorify Christ, arc the only doctrines that glorify Christ truly, and according to the Spirit of truth.
So now let us sum up the matter. Those doctrines which (1) are contrary to worldly, carnal, sensual respects, not con-ceivable by the natural or carnal man; that (2) stick by us when worldly comforts leave us; that (3) are according to Christ's word and his example, accompanied with meekness and obedience; which (4) teach us charity and love to one another; which (5) inform us rightly in the prime articles of the faith; which (6) witness nothing more than Christ an universal Saviour, as Adam the universal sinner; which (7) reprove the sins and infidelities of the world, and show us the way to be acquitted from them; which (8) have a kind of conduct and sincere affection with them to all truths whatsoever, under whatever term or name, though never so odious, so contrary to interest or honour; which (9) seek not their own name, to get a name or set up a faction, but are consonant to the ancient Fathers and primitive antiquity, with humble submission to it; which (10) lift up all our thoughts to heaven, and (11) by all means possible can give God and Christ and the Holy Spirit the glory, deny nothing to them that is theirs, under a foolish pretence only to abate and vilify man beyond the truth; -these doctrines are truth; so much of then, at least, as agree with these rules, are from [220/221] the Spirit of truth, and are manifestations that the Spirit of truth is come to that soul that embraces there: if all these together, then the Spirit altogether; if but some of these, but some, so much of that neither. All doctrines and opinions (1) that savour of worldly or carnal interests; that (2) change and wheel about according to the times, and will not hold out to the last; which (3) are not regulated by the word of God, or are any way contrary to Christ's example of patience and obedience; which (4) are not for peace and charity; which (5) deny any article of the three Creeds we acknowledge; which (6) confine the mercies of our Saviour, and bear false witness of him; which (7) advance any sin, or suffer men to live in it; which (8) love not truth because it is truth, but for other ends; which (9) seek any other title to be distinguished by than that of Christian, or glory in it, which disagree from the stream and current of antiquity; which (10) fix our thoughts too much below-; or (11) rob God, or Christ, or the holy Spirit of the glory of any good, or the perfection of their work; be they cried up never so high for truth and spirit, the new discovery of Christ, and new light of truth, and the very dictate of the Spirit, they are not so; it is not when, nor then, that the Spirit of truth is come; there is not that in them by which Christ has described the Spirit of truth.
One thing there is behind, when all these requisites before are found in any doctrine or opinion; this doctrine indeed may he such as comes from the Spirit of truth, yet accepted and entertained it may be through some other spirit, upon some sinister end or ground: that therefore it may not only be the truth of the Spirit, but have the very Spirit of truth with it, that it may be evident it not only comes from him, but that lie also is come with it, it must be sincerely and intimately embraced with our very hearts and spirits out of love to truth, not any interest or by-respect, and well habi-tuated and actuated in us, before we can say directly that the Spirit of truth is come. Some truth or other may be come, some ray and beam of his light be sent before him, but himself not yet fully come; for all truth comes along with him, though not actually altogether, yet a hearty resolute affec-tion to all of it, all truth altogether, as God shall let it come.
[221/222] I have been somewhat long in this particular about the Spirit's coming, because 1 see the world so much mistaken in it, so often crying, Lo! here he is; lo! there he is; lo! here he comes; lo! there he comes; when indeed he is not here, nor there, with neither of them, nor coming to them. A word now of the manner of his coming.
IV. And that is (1) invisibly, for so comes a spirit. This is the coming we hold by; and had he not come when he com, as well invisibly into the hearts as visibly upon the heads of the disciples, their tongues, though all the tongues of men and angels, would have profited them nothing; the fire then, had it not inflamed their hearts and affections with a holy flame, as well as encompassed their heads, would have only lighted them with more glory into eternal fires. Had not this wind blown as well within as that did without them, it would have blown them little good. Tongues, and prophecy, interpretations, miracles, and the rest, are but donna gratis data; gifts more for others' good than for our own; they do not make us better in his sight, it is the invi-sible grace that makes us accepted. Nay, yet those very gifts and administrations, however the appearance was without, were wrought within by his invisible operation. So that to the Apostles as much as to ourselves, his invisible coming is the only truly comfortable coming.
That (2) is effectual too. To come truly is to come effec-tually; and in that he is called the Spirit of truth, it is plain he must effect what it is lie comes for, or it is not true and real. It was "a mighty rushing wind" he this day came in; so mighty, so effectual, that it at once converted three thousand souls; "the Spirit of power" is one of his names; and "the pulling down of strongholds, casting down every thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," is one of his works.
(3.) He comes gently--that is the common pace of one that is only said to come -gently, step by step, grace after grace, gift after gift, truth after truth; leads by steps, comes by degrees; not all grace at a clap, all gifts in a trice. Nay, as hastily as it seemed to come this day, S. Peter, the chief of them, was a while after at a loss for a truth, had not, it [222/223] seems, all truths together: "Of a truth now I perceive that God is no respecter of persons;" before it, seems, he perceived it not; no more did the other Apostles neither, who were all in the same error, and convented him about this new truth, and contended with him about it.
(d.) Nay, softly too; "as dew into a fleece of wool," without noise, without clamour; no way like the spirits now-a-days; "I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets." He is the Spirit of meekness who is the Spirit of truth, and truth is never taught so soon, so effectually, as by softness and meekness; the meek the best to teach, the best to be taught.
(5.) Yet as gently and softly as he comes, he is often upon us on a sudden, ere we are aware. God uses to "prevent us with the blessings of goodness," as the Psalmist speaks. He is come, sometimes, before we think of it. Our hearts are in his hand, and he suddenly turns them whither he will. Saul does but turn him about from Samuel, and God gives him presently "another heart." Samuel no sooner anoints David, but from thenceforward "the Spirit came upon him." And this note is made, not that you should always look for miraculous changes, and expect the Spirit, without so much as setting yourselves to seek him; but to make you watch continually, and wait for him, that though he come suddenly, he may not find you unprepared, the doors shut upon him; that he may not go as he comes for want of entertainment.
Yet the phrase will bear another expression of the manner of his coming. "When he is come," that is, when he is grounded and well settled in us; the tense is the aorist, a preterperfect signification; signifies not coming, but per-fectly come. This is not actually always to every one he comes to, yet his intent it is in all his coming to stay and abide with us, and so he does till we drive him thence. But if we do not,--if we let him stay and dwell, and remote him not, then will he "guide us into all truth;" that is the end and intention o£ his coming, the next point. But I am beyond my intent and time already; I shall only sum up this last particular of the manner of his coming, and let you go.
[223/222] You will peradventure understand it best by considering how the Spirit moved in the creation; the order the same in creating the new man in the soul that he there observed in creating of the world.
Now, in the first creation of the world, He first (1) moved upon the waters, then created light, and divided it from darkness; he next (2) divides the waters, and places a firmament between them; then (3) gathers the waters together and makes dry land appear and bring forth grass and herbs and trees bearing seed; then (4) makes two glorious lights to rule the day and night, and times and years; then (5) creates fowl and fish and beasts; and, lastly, makes man after his own image.
Thus does he in this new creation or regeneration. He first (1) moves and stirs us up to good, then darts in some glimmerings of light to show us our own darkness, sins, and wretchedness; then next, (2,) divides the passions and powers of the soul, and sets them their bounds, employs some in things above, whilst some other are left beneath; then, (3,) presently makes the dry and barren soul sprout out, bring herbs, and leaves, and seeds into green flourishing desires, holy resolutions and endeavours which carry with them seed, much hope of increase; (4,) to cherish these green and tender sprouts, to direct and rule these resolutions, desires and endeavours, two lights he makes,--true rectified reason, and supernatural grace,--to guide them what to do at all seasons, days, and years, and many little stars, many glimmer-ings of truth begin then to discover themselves which before did not. After all this, (5,) the sensitive faculties in their course and order bring forth their living creature according to their kind, submit themselves to the command of the superior reason. And then, lastly, when the Spirit has thus totally renewed the face of the earth, of our mind and affections, is the new man created after the likeness and image of God in righteousness and tine holiness. This the course, this the order of the Spirit's coming; he comes moving upon the waters of repentance, and first enlightens the darkness of our souls; he orders all our faculties and powers; he makes us fruitful to good works; he daily increases divine light and heat within us; he reforms our sense, subdues our [224/225] passions, regulates our reason, sanctifies them all, comes in light, comes in grace, comes in truth, comes in strength, comes in power, that we might in his strength and power come one day all in glory.
And now, he that thus created the old world, and still creates the new, new create and make us new; and pray we all, with holy David, "Create, O Lord, in is new hearts, and renew right spirits within us." "Cast its not, O Lord," for ever, though we are now full of errors, "from thy presence, and keep not thy Holy Spirit from us,"' but let thy spirit of truth come down and guide us out of our wanderings, "give us the comfort of his help again," guide us again into the ways of truth, " and stablish us there with thy free Spirit," and that for the merits and mercies of thine only Son, who here promised to send him, and this day accordingly sent him to guide us to himself from grace to grace, from truth to truth. From truth below to true happiness above, Jesus Christ our Saviour. To whom, &c.