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In order to console them on that occasion, and prepare them for the loss they were so soon to sustain, he promised to send them “another comforter to abide with them for ever.” This comforter, he tells them, is the spirit of truth, who guide them into all truth. It is the holy ghost, whom the Fa. ther," said he, “ will send in my name; he will teach you
all things, and will bring all things to your remembrance. He will not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall bear, that will he speak, and he will shew you things to come. He will glorify me, for he will receive of mine, and shew it unto you. Him I will send unto you, and when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment."
Now the meaning of these passages is to be ascertained by attending to the three following things : viz.
1. By comparing the language of our Saviour in this discourse with that, which was used by him on other occasions, when evidently speaking of the same thing.
2. By observing how this promise was actually fulfilled, as related in the subsequent history.
3. And then, by placing this in comparison with other acknowledged instances of personification to be found in the sacred writings, so as to see whether the difference be such, tbat while one is confessed to be a figurative person only, the other cannot be so.
1. In the first place then, the several terms used by our Saviour on this occasion, viz. the comforter, the spirit of truth, and the holy ghost, or holy spirit, are manifestly used to mean one and the same thing; and there is nothing to lead us to the supposition, that holy spirit, thus used as synonymous to comforter, is used in any new or uncommon sense. Besides, when our Saviour said, "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another comforter, thai he may abide with you forever;" can we have any doubt that he meant the same thing, as when he said to them after his resurrection, according to the representation of another evangelist, (Matt. xxviii. 20.) Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world ?” So also, whatever was meant by the spirit of truth to guide them into all truth, and the holy spirit to teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance ; can there be any question whether the same were not also meant, when on another occasion he expressed the guidance and aid they should enjoy, in executing the commission which they were to receive, by saying, (Luke xxi. 15.) “ I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist.” (Matt. x. 20.) “ It shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak'; for it is not ye tbat speak, but the spirit of your Father, that speaketh in you.” The promise also, which we find in immediate connexion with that of the comforter, as it seems to be but a repetition of the same promise in other words, may be considered as helping us to understand the meaning of the other. “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you.” In what sense was he io come to them, and, as expressed on the other occasion, to be with them always, even to the end of the world ? Not personally, but by that being, person, power, influence, or what ever it be, which had just been spoken of as the Comforter, the spirit, the spirit of the Father, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of truth, the boly spirit.
e. Let us now, in the second place, look into the subsequent history, and see what account we can find of the manner, in which these promises were actually fulfilled. No interpretation of a promise can be more fair or satisfactory than that, which is drawn from its fulfilment. It is the interpretation of him who made it, and must be supposed more competent than any other to decide in wbat sense it was meant to be understood.
A few days after our Saviour's ascension, his disciples were assembled together at Jerusalem by the express injunction of their master, when, alluding to his former promise, he said to them, (Luke xxiv. 49.) “Behold, I send ihe promise of my Father upon you ; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” They tarried at Jerusalem accordingly until the day of Pentecost, when the promise was fulfilled ; not as a literal interpretation of the promises, on which they relied, might have led them to expect, by the appearance of a great personage to live among them, to be their leader, and to supply the place of their ascended Lord; nor yet by his personal return to them ; but by the gift of extraordinary powers, by which they were enabled to perform miracles, to speak in other tongues, were enlightened with a knowledge of ihe whole scheme of the Gospel, were enabled to preach it with undaunted courage, and to support labours, dangers, and sufferings, in propagating it, with inflexible firmness and resolution.
No other account of tbe fulfilment of those promises is given. No intimation do we find that any other was expected. And we meet with frequent allusion to this in the subsequent history and the Epistles. The persons thus endued with miraculous powers, were said to be filled with the holy ghost, to be baptized with the holy ghost. The spirit was said to be poured out upon them. (Acts ix.) And the miracles which they performed in the exercise of these powers are sometimes mentioned as done by Christ, sometimes by God, sometimes " through the effectual working of the power of God.” (Eph. iii. 7.)
Thus when Peter, by the power thus communicated to him, cured the paralytic man at Lydda, (Acts ix. 32.) he said, “Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole ;" a mode of expression different from what we should have expected, if by the holy ghost which fell upon him on the day of Pentecost, was meant, not a power only, but a person, and a person distinct from Jesus Christ.
Whatever was meant (Acts ii. 33.) by the “promise of the holy ghost," fulfilled in what took place on the day of Pentecost, the same was meant (Luke iii. 22.) by the “holy ghost," which descended upon Jesus Christ himself at his baptism; and whatever was meant, when it was said (Acts ii. 4.) that the disciples were filled with the “holy ghost" on the former occasion, the same was meant, when on the latter, it is said, (Luke iv. 1.) that Jesus “ was full of the holy ghost, when he returned from Jordan,” after his baptism. But in this case, the supposition that a person was meant, and not a power or influence, will seem to imply, that the miracles of our Saviour were wrought, not by his own power, nor, as he himself asserted, (John xiv. 10.) by “the Father who dwelt in bim;" but by another person.
3. If, in the third place, we compare the example under consideration with other acknowledged instances of personification in the Scriptures, do we find such a difference as to justify us in the conclusion, that while those are understood to refer only to a figurative person, this cannot be so understood ?
Let the instances wbich have before been selected, be now brought again before the reader's view.
Let him compare the discourse of our Saviour in John, relative to the comforter, the spirit of truth, the holy ghost, with Solomon's beautiful portrait of wisdom, and Paul's lively description of charity. Will he find personal attributes any where ascribed to the holy spirit in greater variety, or with more distinctness, than in these instances they are applied to wisdom and charity? Let bim recur, also, to the personal epithets applied by Paul to sin and death. Death' is, indeed, so constantly in the common language of life, represented in personal characters, that it never fails to present itself to us under that image ; and though no one actually believes it to be a real person, the image bas so fastened itself upon our minds, that it costs no small effort to correct the impression.
Other personifications less remarkable, will yet serve to illustrate the one in question. I will mention only one more, that of the word of God. Now, when we read (Heb. xi. 3. 2 Pet. iii. 5.) that "the worlds were framed by the word of God ;” that “by the word of God the heavens were of old :" we have no doubt that the agency of God
himself is meant, in the same manner as in the expression, (Gen. i. 3.) “God said, let there be light and there was light.” We perceive only a figurative, but far from unusual mode, of saying that God himself created the heavens, the worlds, and the light. The same is meant as when it is said of those, who call upon God in their afflictions, (Psl. cvii. 20.) “ He sendeth his word and healeth them;"> and of the ice and frosts of winter, (Psl. cxlvii. 18.) “He sendeth out his word and melteth them."
There is one other view of the subject, which it may not be useless just to suggest. It will be admitted by all, whatever their opinion respecting the personality of the spirit, that the terms spirit, spirit of God, &c. are commonly used in such a manner, as evidently not to mean a person. Now, let the experiment be made upon some other word, for the purpose of ascertaining whether another instance can be found of a term sometimes used as the name of a person, but more commonly employed in a different manner. No such example, it is presumed, can be produced. There are indeed instances, in which Christ is used, by a very common metonomy, for the religion, which he taught, and Moses for the law which he promulgated : the names of the prophets also, and of each separate prophet, for the books that bear their names. But this is so rare, compared with the literal use of the name to express the person himself, that no one was ever led to doubt, whether in their common use they did not refer to real persons. It would be impossible, by any ingenuity, to explain them as meaning nothing more than an allegorical personality. It never did, nor could enter into the mind of any reader of the bible, that Christ or Moses were not real, but only allegorical persons.
But in the case in question, on the commonly received opinion, the name of a most important person and powerful agent is usually employed to express a pere power or gift, or the influ. ence or agency of another person. The presumption therefore is strong, that the opinion itself is without foundation; a presumption, which nothing but positive proof to the contrary can remove ; and such proof we do not find.
From the whole view of the subject, we are brought to the following conclusion. That the phrase under consideration is used by the sacred writers in a variety of senses, and what is the true meaning is to be ascertained in each instance by the same rules of interpretation, which are applied in other similar cases. _That, whenever it is used as a person, it is the person of the Father; as it is sometimes expressed, the spirit of the
Father ; and that there is not sufficient reason for supposing, that it is ever used to mean a being, agent, or person distinct from God the Father.
Note.-For a more thorough investigation of this subject, than could be brought within the limits of an essay of reasonable length for a periodical publication, the reader is referred to the first postscript of Dr. Lardner's Letter on the Logos, -and the translation of " Schleusner on the meanings of type in the New Testament,” in the first volume of the General Repository, for April, 1812. In one or the other of those tracts, he will find some explanation of every text, that is usually considered as having any relation to the subject.
ILLUSTRATION OF JOHN, xiv. 31.
“ But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.”
The reader will instantly perceive that the first clause of this verse is defective. There is evidently something wanted to complete its meaning; and different translators bave resort ed to different expedients, for representing it fairly and fully. In most of our recent English translations, the words “this must be," or words of a similar import, are interposed, as if understood. “But this must be that the world, &c.” This method is certainly without any critical objections : for a similar ellipsis is found in other parts of the writings of this same apostle. We read in the 25th verse of the next chapter: "but this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law; they hated me without a cause;" and again, (1 Jobp ii. 19.) " but they went out, that tbey might be inade manifest that they were not all of us.'
Some critics have supposed the passage to be complete in itself, without the aid of any supplementary words; and render it thus: “but that the world may know that I love the Father, even as the Father hath given me commandinent, so I do.” Of this opinion, were the eminent Grotius, Bengel, and others : but their construction is too forced a one to be readily admitted. Mr. Wakefield and Bishop Pearce agree in connecting the passage with the preceding verse as a part of it.
There would be no objection to this, provided a natural and appropriate meaning could thus be obtained: for the punctuation of the Greek Testament is clearly without any authority. The