FiveSolas.com - committed to the Doctrines of Grace
The Holy Spirit and your praying.
5. Fifthly, You say you cannot pray, but if you are a child of God, you have the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God is a Spirit of prayer and supplication.
That all the children of God have the Spirit of God is most evident in the blessed Scriptures. Take these for a taste: Zech. 12:10, `I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications'; Psa. 51:11, `Take not thy Holy Spirit from me'; Rom. 8:15, `Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father'; 1 Cor. 2:12, `We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God'; 1 Thess. 4:8, `Who hath given unto us his Holy Spirit'; 1 John 3:4, `Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us'; 1 Thess. 4:13, `Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.'
That all the children of God have the Spirit of God, may be further made evident by an induction of these seven particulars.
i. First, they are all sanctified by the Spirit: 1 Cor. 6:11, `Ye are sanctified by the Spirit of our God.' I do not say, that they are all equally sanctified by the Spirit, but I say they are all really sanctified by the Spirit. Though all the servants of Christ have their talents, yet all have not their ten talents, nor have all their five talents, nor have all their two talents; some have only their one talent (Matt. 25:15). Though Benjamin's portion of food was five times as much as his brethren's portions, yet every one of his brethren had their portion (Gen. 43:32-34), so though some Christians have five times more measures of the Spirit, and more measures of light, of love, of holiness, of heavenly-mindedness, etc., than others have, yet every Christian has some measures of the Spirit, and some measures of grace and holiness, etc.
Though some are babes in Christ, and others are childdren in Christ, though some are young men in Christ, and others old men in Christ, yet every one of them is born of the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 2:2; 1 John 2:12-14; John 3:8). Though none of the people of God in this life have the Spirit in perfection, yet every one of them have so much of the Spirit as will bring him to salvation. Every Christian has so much of the Spirit as will bring Christ and his soul together; and therefore without all doubt, every Christian has so much of the Spirit, as will at last bring heaven and his soul together.
ii. Secondly, they are all led by the Spirit: Rom. 8:14, `As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.' Every child of God has a twofold guide: the Word without, and the Spirit within (Isa. 30:20, 21). How the Spirit leads by the rule of the Word, and how he leads to God, and leads to Christ, and leads to truth, and leads to righteousness, and leads to holiness, and leads to happiness, I shall not now undertake to show (Prov. 6:22; Eph. 5:9).
iii. Thirdly, they are all upheld and strengthened by the Spirit: Psa. 51:12, `Uphold me with thy free Spirit'; or under-prop me or sustain me, as the Hebrew has it, with your free, voluntary Spirit; or, as the Greek turns it, with your noble, princely Spirit. So Eph. 3:16, `To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.' By the inner man, some understand the regenerate part of man; others, by the inner man, do understand the soul with all its noble faculties and motions.
Take the words which way you will, it is certain that all the spiritual might and strength that a Christian has, he has it from the Holy Spirit. Though the Spirit strengthens every Christian in the inner man, yet I do not say that the Spirit strengthens every Christian alike in the inward man. Some have stronger corruptions to subdue than others, and more violent temptations to withstand than others, and greater difficulties to wrestle with than others, and choicer mercies to improve than others, and higher and harder duties of religion to manage than others, and accordingly they are more strengthened in the inner man than others.
iv. Fourthly, they are all partakers of the first-fruits of the Spirit: Rom. 8:23, `Ourselves . . . have the first-fruits of the Spirit', which are but as a handful of corn in respect of the whole crop. All the grace and all the holiness which we have from the regenerating Spirit at first conversion is but a drop to that sea, a mite to those talents, which we shall receive in the life to come (2 Cor. 1:22).
v. Fifthly, they are all taught by the Spirit, John 14:26, `The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things'; (Isa. 59:21).
This promise primarily belongs to the apostles; Secondarily, to all believers. Though these words were spoken at first to the apostles only, yet they were not spoken of the apostles only: Isa. 54:13, `And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.' In these words there are three things promised to the apostles: First, Immediate illumination by the Spirit of God. Secondly, A full knowledge of all those truths belonging to their apostolical office, and that were necessary for them at that juncture of time. Thirdly, Absolute infallibility as to matter of doctrine. There are also three things promised to all believers: First, Mediate illumination, teaching truths by the Spirit of truth, in the use of the means of grace. Secondly, Knowledge of all truth necessary to salvation. Thirdly, Infallibility too, so far forth as they adhere and keep close to the Spirit's teaching in the Word.
Philo says that the primitive Christians were called tillers, because, as husbandmen till their fields and manure their grounds, so did they teach their families and nurture their children and servants with good instructions. Oh, what choice teachings of the Spirit were these primitive Christians under, who made it so much their business, their work, to teach those that were under their charge (1 Thess. 4:9; 2 Cor. 3:8). So I John 2:27, `But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth.' Not that we know all things simply, or that we need not a ministry to teach and instruct us; but he speaks comparatively: you shall not be so helped by any instructions without the Spirit, as with the Spirit. The Spirit shall declare the truth as it is in Jesus more clearly, more freely, more particularly, more certainly, more universally, more effectually, than any other is able to do.' The Spirit, this holy unction, shall teach the saints all things; not all things knowable, for that is impossible for finite creatures to attain unto. Who knows the motions of the heavens, the influences of the stars, the nature of the creatures, or how the bones grow in the womb of her that is with child? Who knows the reason why the river Nile should overflow in the sumŽmer, when waters are at the lowest; or why the loadstone should draw iron to it, or incline to the pole star?
Pliny tells us of one that spent fifty-eight years in learning about the nature of the bee, and yet had not fully attained to it. How is it possible, then, for the wisest naturalist to enter into the deep things of God?
Paul, who learned his theology among the angels, and who had the Holy Ghost for his immediate teacher, tells us plainly that `he knew but in part' (I Cor. 13:9-11); and oh then, how little a part of that part do we know! But the Spirit teaches the saints all things; that is, First, He teaches them all things needful for the salvation of their souls, all things necessary to bring them to heaven (John 17:3). Secondly, All things needful to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Thirdly, All things needful to their places, callings, sexes, ages, and conditions. Fourthly, All things needful for you to know to preserve you in the truth, and to preserve you from being deluded and seduced by those false teachers of whom he speaks (1 John 2:10, 19, 22, 23, 26). And certainly this is the main thing that John hints at in that expression. The `all things', spoken of in verse 2-7, according to the ordinary Scripture style, must necessarily be interpreted only of all those things which are there spoken of. But,
vi. Sixthly, they are all comforted by the Spirit: Acts 9:31, `They walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost'; Rom. 14:17, `For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost'; 2 Thess. 1:6, `And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.' Not that all Christians have always actual comfort, actual joy. Oh no! For as the air is sometimes clear and sometimes cloudy, and as the sea is sometimes ebbing and sometimes flowing; so the comforts and joys of the people of God are sometimes ebbing and sometimes flowing, sometimes clear and sometimes cloudy.
Thomas Hudson [c.152.8-58] the martyr being deserted at the stake, went from under his chain; and having prayed earnestly, was comforted immediately, and suffered valiantly. So Robert Glover, the martyr [d. 1555] was deserted in prison, but as he was going to the stake he looked back, and cried out to his friend, `He is come, is come', meaning the Comforter, and so he laid down his life with joy.
Rachel wept, and would not be comforted; she gave so much way to weeping, that she would not give the least way to comfort; and so it is many times with the choicest saints, `My soul refused to be comforted' (Psa. 72:2). It is not my purpose at present to insist on the several ways whereby the people of God refuse comfort, and fall short of those strong consolations which God is willing that they should receive. The sun may operate where it does not shine, and a man may be in a state of salvation, and yet lack consolation; a man may fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant, and yet walk in darkness and see no light (Isa. 50:10). There is no Christian but may sometimes have trouble in his conscience, and grief in his heart, and tears in his eyes, and fears and questionings in his soul, whether God be his Father, and whether Christ be his Redeemer, and whether mercy belongs to him, yes, whether any promise in the book of God belongs to him?
Joy and comfort are those delicacies, those sweetmeats of heaven, that God does not every day feast his people with (Psa. 30:6, 7); every day is not a wedding day, nor every day is not a harvest day, nor every day is not a summer's day. The fatted calf is not killed every day, nor the robe and the ring is not every day put on; every day is not a festival day nor a dancing day (Luke 15:22, 23; Eccles. 3:4; Rom. 12:15).
As there is a time to sing, so there is a time to sigh; as there is a time to laugh, so there is a time to weep; and as there is a time to dance, so there is a time to mourn. All tears will never be wholly wiped from our eyes till all sin be quite taken out of our hearts.
But notwithstanding all this, yet gracious souls have always sure and choice grounds of consolation; they have the promises, they have the `first-fruits of the Spirit', they have union with Christ, and they have right to eternal life, though they have not always sensible comforts. The children of God have always cause to exercise faith and hope on God in their darkest condition, though they have not always actual joy and consolation (Job 13:15; Psa. 42:5). The Comforter always abides with the saints, though he does not always actually comfort the saints (John 1:16). The Spirit many times carries on his sanctifying work in the soul when he does not carry on his comforting work in the soul; the Spirit many times acts in a way of humiliation when he does not act in a way of consolation; the Spirit many times fills the soul with godly sorrow when he does not fill the soul with holy joy. The actings of the Spirit, as to his comforting work, are all of his own sovereign will and pleasure; and therefore he may abide in the soul when he does not actually comfort the soul. But,
vi. Seventhly, The people of God, first or last, are sealed by the Spirit: Eph. 1:13, `In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." The nature of sealing consists in the imparting of the image, or character of the seal to the thing sealed. To seal a thing is to stamp the character of the seal on it. Now, the Spirit God really and effectually communicates the image of God to us, which image consists in righteousness and true holiness. Then are we truly sealed by the Spirit of God when the Holy Ghost stamps the image of grace and holiness so obviously, so evidently upon the soul, as that the soul sees it, feels it, and can run and read it; then the soul is sealed by the Holy Spirit. So Eph. 4:30, `And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.'
The person of the Holy Ghost is here set forth in the Greek with a very great energy, such as our tongue is not able fully to express. Here are three words, that have three articles, every word his several article by itself, [...]: the Spirit, not a Spirit; and not holy, but the holy; nor of God, but of that God: 2 Cor. 1:22, `Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.'
In these Scriptures you see that the Spirit is a seal. Now, a seal among men is, first, for secrecy; secondly, for distinction; thirdly, for authority; fourthly, for certainty. A writing sealed is authentic, and to give assurance. In the three texts last cited, if you compare them together, you may observe these six things:
First, The person sealing, and that is, the Father.
Secondly, In whom: in Christ.
Thirdly, With what seal: the Spirit of promise. Where all the Persons in the Trinity are making us sure of our inheritance.
Fourthly, When: after ye believed.
Fifthly, The end, which is twofold:
- i. Subordinate, and that is the certainty of our salvation;
- ii. Ultimate, and that is, the praise of his glory.
Sixthly, The time, how long this seal and earnest shall assure us, and that is, `till we have the complete possession of that of which it is an earnest'. To prevent and disputes about the sealings of the Spirit on the one hand, and to support, comfort, and encourage the poor people of God on the other hand, let me briefly hint at the Spirit's special sealing times.