I believe in the Holy Ghost
Now having spoken hitherto of the first Person the Father, and also of the Son, it followeth in the next place to speak of the third Person in these words: I believe in the Holy Ghost. In which we may consider two things: The title of the Person and the action of faith, repeated from the beginning.
The title is Holy Ghost, or Spirit. It may be here demanded how this title can be fit to express the third Person, which seems to be common to the rest; for the Father is holy and the Son is holy; again, the Father is a Spirit and the Son is a Spirit. Answer: Indeed the Father and the Son are as well to be termed holy in respect of their natures as the third Person; for all three subsisting in one and the same Godhead, are consequently holy by one and the same holiness; but the third Person is called Holy because beside the holiness of nature, His office is to sanctify the church of God. Now if it be said that sanctification is a work of the whole Trinity, the answer is that although it be so, yet the work of sanctification agrees to the Holy Ghost in special manner. The Father sanctifieth by the Son and by the Holy Ghost; the Son sanctifieth from the Father and by the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost sanctifieth from the Father and from the Son by Himself immediately; and in this respect is the third Person termed Holy. Again, the third Person is termed a Spirit, not only because His nature is spiritual (for in that respect the Father is a Spirit and the Son is a Spirit), but because He is spired or breathed from the Father and from the Son, in that He proceeds from them both. Thus we see there is a special cause why the third Person is called the Holy Ghost.
Now the action of faith which concerns the third Person, is to believe in Him. Which is:
(1) To acknowledge the Holy Ghost as He hath revealed Himself in the Word.
(2) In special to believe that He is my Sanctifier and Comforter.
(3) To put all the confidence of my heart in Him, for that cause.
In these words are comprised four points of doctrine which are to be believed concerning the Holy Ghost:
1. The first, that He is very God. For we are not to put affiance or confidence in any but in God alone. And no doubt the penners of the Creed, in that they prefixed these words: I believe in, before the article of the third Person, meant thereby to signify that He is true God, equal with the Father and the Son, according to the tenor of the Scriptures themselves. Peter saith to Ananias (Acts 5:3,4), Why hath Satan filled thine heart that thou shouldest lie unto the Holy Ghost? And continuing the same speech, he changeth the term only, and saith, Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. Whereby he insinuateth that the Holy Ghost is very God. In the vision of the prophet Isaiah, the words by him are set down thus (Isa. 6:8,9): I heard the voice of Jehovah saying, Whom shall I send? etc. And He said, Go and say to this people, Ye shall hear indeed; but yet ye shall not understand. But Paul quoting the same place, spake on this manner (Acts 28:25,26): Well spake the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Go unto this people and say unto them etc. Now these places being compared together make it plain that the title of Jehovah agreeth to the Holy Ghost. But yet the enemies of this truth which think that the Holy Ghost is nothing else but the action or operation of God, object out of the Scriptures to the contrary:
(1) God knoweth the Son; the Holy Ghost knoweth not the Son; for (Matt. 11:27) none knoweth the Son but the Father; ergo, the Holy Ghost is not God. Answer: That place excludeth no Person in Trinity, but only creatures and false gods, and the meaning is this: None, that is, no creature or idol god, knoweth the Son of God, but the Father. And the opposition is made to exclude creatures, not to exclude the Holy Ghost.
(2) Again, they object that the Holy Ghost maketh request for us with groans and sighs that cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26); therefore (say they) the Holy Ghost is not God, but rather a gift of God. Answer: PaulŐs meaning is thereby to signify that the Holy Ghost causeth us to make requests, and stirreth up our hearts to groan and sigh to God; for he said before (v.15), We have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
(3) Yet further they object the words of the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35), saying, The virtue of the Most High hath overshadowed thee; and hence they gather that if the Holy Ghost be the virtue of God, then He is not God indeed. Answer: As Christ is called the Word of God, not a word made of letters and syllables, but a substantial Word, that is, being forever of the same substance with the Father; so in this place the Holy Ghost is called the virtue of the Most Highest, not because He is a created quality, but because He is the substantial virtue of the Father and the Son; and therefore God equal with them both.
(4) Furthermore, they allege that neither the Scriptures, nor the practice of the primitive church doth warrant us to pray to the Holy Ghost. Answer: It is not true. For whensoever we direct our prayer to any one of the three Persons, in Him we pray to them all. Besides, we have example of prayer made to the Holy Ghost in the Word of God, for Paul saith to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 13:14), The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all. And the words are as if St. Paul had said thus: O Father, let thy love; O Son, let thy grace; O Holy Ghost, let thy fellowship be with them all. And therefore this first doctrine is true and as well to be believed as any other, that is, the Holy Ghost is God.
2. The second point is that the Holy Ghost is a distinct person from the Father and the Son. Hereupon the articles touching the three Persons are thus distinguished: I believe in the Father, I believe in the Son, I believe in the Holy Ghost. This point also is consonant to the Scriptures which make the same distinction. In the baptism of Christ, the Father uttereth a voice from heaven (Matt. 3:17), saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; and not the Son, or the Holy Ghost. Secondly, the Son stood in the water and was baptised by John; and not the Father, or the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, the Holy Ghost descended from heaven upon Christ in the form of a dove; and not the Father, nor the Son, but the Holy Ghost alone. Christ in His commission unto His disciples (Matt. 28:19) saith, Go; teach all nations, baptising them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Now if the Holy Ghost had been the same Person either with the Father or with the Son, then it had been sufficient to have named the Father and the Son only. And the distinction of the third Person from the rest may be conceived by this: that the Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost, and not the Father or the Son.
3. The third point to be believed is that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son. For a further proof hereof, consider these places:
(1) Paul saith (Rom. 8:9), Ye are not in the flesh but in the spirit; for the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man have not the Spirit of God, he is not His. And again (Gal. 4:6): Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of the Son into your hearts. Where we may observe that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. Now the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father, not only because He is sent of Him, but because He proceedeth from the Father; as Christ saith to His disciples (John 15:26), When the Comforter will come, whom I shall send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me. And therefore likewise He is the Spirit of the Son, not only because He is sent of the Son, but also because He proceedeth from Him.
(2) Again, in the Trinity, the Person sending doth communicate His whole essence and substance to the Person sent. As the Father sending the Son, doth communicate His essence and substance to the Son. For sending doth presuppose a communication of essence. Now the Father and the Son send the Holy Ghost; therefore both of them communicate their substance and essence unto the same Person.
(3) Thirdly, Christ saith (John 16:14), the Holy Ghost hath received of mine which He shall shew unto you, namely, knowledge and truth, to be revealed unto His church. Where we may reason thus: The Person receiving knowledge from another, receives essence also; the Holy Ghost receives truth and knowledge from Christ to be revealed unto the church; and therefore first of all He hath received substance and essence from the Son.
But some peradventure will say, Where is it written in all the Bible in express words, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son as He proceeds from the Father? Answer: The Scripture saith not so much in plain terms, yet we must know that that which is gathered from thence by just consequence, is no less the truth of God than that which is expressed in words. Hereupon all churches, save those in Greece, with one consent acknowledge the truth of this point.
4. The fourth and last point is that the Holy Ghost is equal to the Father and the Son. And this we are taught to acknowledge in the Creed, in that we do as well believe in the Holy Ghost, as in the Father and the Son. And though the Holy Ghost be sent of the Father and the Son, yet (as I have said before) that argues no inequality (for one equal may send another by consent), but order only, whereby the Holy Ghost is last of all three Persons. Again, in that the Holy Ghost receiveth from the Son, it proves no inferiority; because He receives from the Son whatsoever He receives by nature, and not by grace. And He receives not a part, but all that the Son hath, saving the propriety of His Person.
Now follow the benefits which are given by the Holy Ghost, and they are of two sorts: some are common to all creatures, and some are proper to men.
1. The benefit of the Holy Ghost common to all creatures is the work of creation and preservation. For all things were created and made, and afterward preserved by the Holy Ghost, so Elihu saith (Job 33:4), The Spirit of God hath made me. And Moses saith (Gen. 1:1,2), In the beginningÉ the Spirit moved upon the waters. The phrase is borrowed from a bird, who in hatching of her young ones, sits upon the eggs, moves herself upon them, and heats them. And so likewise the Holy Ghost in the beginning did by His own power cherish and preserve the mass or lump whereof all things were made, and caused it to bring forth the creatures. This being evident, that the Holy Ghost hath a stroke in the work of creation and preservation; we must unfeignedly acknowledge that we were first created, and since that time continually preserved by the benefit even of the third Person.
2. The benefits proper unto men are of two sorts: (1) Some are common to all men, both good and bad and (2) some proper to the elect and faithful.
(1) The benefits common to all men are divers:
(i) The gift of practising a particular calling. As in the body, several members have several uses; so in every society, several men have several offices and callings, and the gifts whereby they are enabled to perform the duties thereof, are from the Holy Ghost. When Gideon became a valiant captain to deliver the Israelites, it is said (Jud. 6:34), he was clothed with the Spirit. Bezaleel and Aholiab (Exod. 36:1), being set apart to build the tabernacle, were filled with the Spirit of God (Exod. 31:2-5) in wisdom and understanding and in all workmanship, to find out curious works, to work in gold, and in silver and in brass; also in the art to set stones and to carve in timber, etc. By this it is manifest that the skill of any handicraft is not in the power of man, but comes by the Holy Ghost. And by this we are taught to use all those gifts well, whereby we are enabled to discharge our particular callings; that they may serve for the glory of God and the good of His church; and those that in their callings use fraud and deceit, or else live inordinately, do most unthankfully abuse the gifts of God, and dishonour the Spirit of God the author of their gifts, for which thing they must give an account one day.
(ii) The second gift common to all is illumination, whereby a man is enabled to understand the will of God in His Word (Heb. 6:4). The Jews (2 Cor. 3:14-16) in the reading of the Old Testament had a veil over their hearts; and the like have all men by nature, to whom the Word of God is foolishness. (Acts 9:17,18) Paul at his conversion was smitten blind, and scales were upon his eyes; the like also be over the eyes of our minds, and they must fall away before we can understand the will of God. Now it is the work of the Holy Ghost to remove these scales and films from our eyes. And for this very cause He is called the anointing (1 John 2:27) and eye-salve (Rev. 3:18); for as it doth clear the eyes and take away the dimness of them; so doth the Holy Ghost take away blindness from our minds, that we may see into the truth of GodŐs Word. This being a common gift, and received both of good and bad, it standeth us in hand not to content ourselves with the bare knowledge of the Word, but therewithal we must join obedience, and make conscience thereof, or else that will befall us which Christ foretold, that he which knoweth his masterŐs will and doth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes (Luke 12:47).
(iii) The third gift of the Holy Ghost is the gift of prophecy, whereby a man is made able to interpret and expound the Scriptures. Now albeit this gift be very excellent and not given to every man, yet is it common both to good and bad. For in the day of judgment (Matt. 7:22,23), when men shall come to Christ and say, Master, we have prophesied in thy name, He shall answer again, I never knew you, depart from me ye workers of iniquity. Hereupon those that are in the calling of the ministry, and have received the gift of prophecy, must not herewithal be puffed up. For if they be not as well doers of GodŐs will, as teachers, their gifts will turn to their further condemnation. As the carpenters that built NoahŐs ark when the flood came were drowned, because they would not obey NoahŐs preaching; so those that have the gift of prophecy and are builders in GodŐs house, if they build not themselves as well as others, for all their preaching, at the day of judgment they shall be condemned; and therefore it standeth in hand not to content themselves with this: that they know and teach others GodŐs will, but they themselves must be the first doers of the same.
(iv) The fourth common gift of the Holy Ghost is ability to bridle and restrain some affections, so as they shall not break out into outrageous behaviour. Haman, a wicked man and an enemy to GodŐs church (Esth. 5:9,10), when he saw Mordecai the Jew sitting in the kingŐs gate, and that he would not stand up to move unto him, he was full of indignation; nevertheless the text saith that he refrained himself. And when Abimelech (Gen. 20:6), an heathen king, had taken Sarah, AbrahamŐs wife, God said to him, I know that thou didst this with an upright heart; and the text addeth further, I have kept thee that thou shouldest not sin against me. And thus the Lord gives to men, as yet without the Spirit of sanctification, this gift to bridle themselves, so as in outward action they shall not practise this or that sin. For why did not Abimelech commit adultery? Surely, because God kept him from it. Again, in the histories of the heathen we may read of many that were just, liberal, meek, continent, etc., and that by a general operation of the Holy Ghost that represseth the corruption of nature for the common good. Here then if any man ask how it comes to pass that some men are more modest and civil than others (for all the sons of Adam are equal in regard of nature; the child newborn in that respect is as wicked as the eldest man that ever lived), but the reason is because God gives this common gift of restraining the affections more to some than to others. This must be considered of us all. For a man may have the Spirit of God to bridle many sins, and yet never have the Spirit to mortify the same and to make him a new creature. And this being so, we must take heed that we deceive not ourselves. For it is not sufficient for a man to live in outward civility and to keep in some of his affections upon some occasion (for that a wicked man may do), but we must further labour to feel in ourselves the Spirit of God, not only bridling sin in us, but also mortifying and killing the same. Indeed both of them are good gifts of GodŐs Spirit, but yet the mortification of sin is the chiefest, being an effectual sign of grace, and proper to the elect.
(v) The fifth grace and gift of the Holy Ghost is to hear and receive the Word of God with joy. In the parable of the sower (Luke 8:13), one kind of bad ground are they which when they have heard, receive the Word with joy; and this is that which the author of the Hebrews calls (Heb. 6:5) the tasting of the good Word of God, and of the power of the world to come. We know that there is great difference between tasting of meat and eating of it. They that sit down at the table do both taste and eat, but they that dress the meat, do only see and taste thereof. So it is at the LordŐs table; many there be that have this gift: truly both to taste and eat of the body and blood of Christ offered in the Word and sacraments; and some again do only taste and feel the sweetness of them and rejoice therein, but yet are not indeed partakers thereof. Now if this be so, then all those which hear the Word of God must take heed how they hear, and labour to find these two things in themselves by hearing: (a) That in heart and conscience they be thoroughly touched and humbled for their sins; (b) That they be certainly assured of the favour and love of God in Christ, and that the sweet promises of the gospel do belong to them; and in consideration hereof, they must make a conscience of all sin both in thought, word and deed, through the whole course of their lives. And this kind of hearing bringeth that joy which vanisheth not away.
(2) Thus much of the benefits of the Holy Ghost common to all men both good and bad; now follow such as are proper to the elect, all which may be reduced unto one, namely, the inhabitation of the Spirit whereby the elect are the temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 3:16); who is said to dwell in men (Rom. 8:9), not in respect of substance (for the whole nature of the Holy Ghost cannot be comprised in the body or soul of man) but in respect of a particular operation; and this dwelling stands in two things: The first, that the Holy Ghost doth abide in them, not for a time only, but for ever; for the word dwelling noteth perpetuity. Secondly, that the Holy Ghost hath the full disposition of the heart, as when a man cometh to dwell in a house whereof he is lord, he hath liberty to govern it after his own will. Now this disposition of the hearts of the faithful by the Holy Ghost, standeth in five special and notable gifts; every one worthy of our observation:
(i) The first is a certain knowledge of a manŐs own reconciliation to God in Christ. As it is said in Isaiah (Isa. 53:11), By His knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many. And Christ saith (John 17:3), This is life eternal, that they know thee to be the only very God, and whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ. This knowledge is not general; for then the devils might be saved; but it is particular, whereby a man knoweth God the Father to be his Father; and Christ the Redeemer to be his Redeemer; and the Holy Ghost to be his Sanctifier and Comforter. And it is a special work of the Holy Ghost, as Paul saith (Rom. 8:16), The Spirit of God bears witness to our spirits, that we are the children of God. And (1 Cor. 2:12), We have received the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are given unto us of God.
(ii) The second gift is regeneration, whereby a man of a limb of the devil is made a member of Christ, and of a child of Satan (whom every one of us by nature do as lively resemble as any man doth his own parent) is made the child of God. Except a man (saith our Saviour (John 3:5)) be born again by water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. John Baptist, in saying that Christ baptised with the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. 3:11), compares the Spirit of God to fire and water:
(a) To fire for two causes:
i. As it is the nature of fire to warm the body that is benumbed and frozen with cold; so when a man is benumbed and frozen in sin, yea when he is even stark dead in sin, it is the property of the Holy Ghost to warm and quicken his heart and to revive him.
ii. Fire doth purge and eat out the dross from the good metal. Now there is no dross or canker that hath so deeply eaten into any metal as sin into the nature of man; therefore the Holy Ghost is as a fire to purge and eat out the hidden corruptions of sin out of the rebellious heart of man.
(b) Again, the Holy Ghost is compared to clear water for two causes:
i. Man by nature is as dry wood without sap, and the property of the Holy Ghost is as water to supple and to put the sap of grace into the dead and rotten heart of man.
ii. The property of water is to cleanse and purify the filth of the body; even so the Holy Ghost doth spiritually wash away our sins, which are the filth of our nature, and this is the second benefit of the Holy Ghost.
By this we are taught that he which would enter into the kingdom of God and have the Holy Ghost to dwell in him, must labour to feel the work of regeneration by the same Spirit; and if a man would know whether he hath this work wrought in him or no, let him mark what St Paul saith (Rom. 8:5), They that are of the Spirit, savour the things of the Spirit; but they that live after the flesh, savour the things of the flesh. If therefore a man have his heart continually affected with that which is truly good either more or less, it is a certain token that his wicked nature is changed and he regenerate; but contrariwise, if his heart be always set on the pleasures of sin and the things of this world, he may justly suspect himself that he is not regenerated. As for example: if a man have all his mind set upon drinking and gulling in of wine and strong drink, having little delight or pleasure in anything else, it argues a carnal mind and unregenerate, because it affects the things of the flesh; and so of the rest. And on the contrary, he that hath his mind affected with a desire to do the will of God in practising the works of charity and religion, he I say, hath a spiritual and renewed heart, and is regenerate by the Holy Ghost.
(iii) The third work of the Holy Ghost is to govern the hearts of the elect. This may be called spiritual regiment. A man that dwelleth in a house of his own, orders and governs it according to his own will; even so the Holy Ghost governs all them in whom He dwelleth, as Paul saith (Rom. 8:14), They that are the sons of God, are led by His Spirit; a most notable benefit; for look where the Holy Ghost dwells, there He will be Lord, governing both heart, mind, will and affections; and that two ways: (a) By repressing all bad motions unto sin, arising either from the corruption of manŐs nature, from the world, or from the devil. (b) By stirring up good affections and motions upon every occasion.
So it is said (Gal. 5:17): The flesh (that is, the corruption of manŐs nature) lusteth against the spirit; and the spirit (that is, grace in the heart) lusteth against the flesh; and that after a double sort: First, by labouring to overmaster and keep down the motions thereof; secondly, by stirring up good motions and inclinations to piety and religion. In Isaiah, the Holy Ghost hath most excellent titles (Isa. 11:2): The Spirit of the Lord; the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and of strength; the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. Now He is so called because He stirs up good motions in the godly; of wisdom, of knowledge, of strength, of understanding, of counsel, and of the fear of the Lord. And St Paul saith (Gal. 5:22,23) that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, peace, love, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance etc., all which are so termed because where the Holy Ghost rules, there He gendereth these good gifts and motions of grace; but among all the inward motions of the Spirit, the most principal are these:
(a) An utter disliking of sin because it is sin. And that is when a man hath an eye not so much to another manŐs sins, as to his own, and seeing them, is truly sorrowful for them and disliketh them, and himself for them, not so much because there is a place of torment or a day of judgment to come, wherein he must answer to God for them all; but, as if there were no hell or judgment, because God is displeased by them, who hath been unto him a most loving and merciful Father in redeeming him by Christ.
(b) The second is an hungering desire above all things in this world, to be at unity with God in Christ for the same sins. This is a motion of the Holy Ghost, which no man can have but he in whom the Holy Ghost doth dwell.
(c) The third, the gift of hearty prayer. For this cause the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of supplications (Zech 12:10), because it stirs up the heart and makes it fit to pray; and therefore Paul saith (Rom. 8:26) that the Spirit of God helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what to pray as we ought, but the same Spirit itself maketh request for us with sighs which cannot be expressed. This is an ordinary work of the Holy Ghost in all that believe; and he that would know whether he have the Spirit dwelling truly in his heart shall know it by this. A mother carrieth her child in her arms; if it cry for the dug, and suck the same, it is alive; being observed many days together, if it neither cry nor stir, it is dead. In like manner, it is an infallible note of a true child of God to cry out to his Father in heaven by prayer. But he that never cryeth nor feeleth himself stirred up to make his moan to God, is in a miserable case, and he may well be thought to be but a dead child, and therefore let us learn in prayer unfeignedly to pour out our souls before God, considering it is a special gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed on the children of God.
(iv) The fourth work of the Holy Ghost in the heart of the elect is comfort in distress, and therefore our Saviour Christ calleth Him (John 15:26) the Comforter whom He will send; and in the psalm (Psa. 45:7), He is called the oil of gladness, because He maketh glad the heart of man in trouble and distress. There be two things that fill the heart full of endless grief: the first, outward calamities, as when a man is in any danger of death, when he loseth his goods, his good name, his friends, and such like. The second is a troubled conscience, whereof Solomon saith (Prov. 18:14), A troubled spirit, who can bear it? And of all other, it is the most heavy and grievous cross that can be. When as the hand of God was heavy upon Job, this was the sorest of his afflictions, and therefore he cries out (Job 6:4), The arrows of the Almighty did stick in his soul. Now what is the comfort in this case? Answer: In the midst of all our distresses the Holy Ghost is present with us, to make us rejoice, and to fill us with comforts (that no tongue can express) out of the Word of God, and specially the promises thereof. And hereupon, the ungodly man when afflictions befall him, is ready to make away himself, because he wants the comfort of the Holy Ghost.
(v) The last benefit wrought in the hearts of the elect, is strengthening of them to do the weightiest duties of their callings; and hence the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of strength (Isa. 11:2). There be divers things to be done of a Christian man that are far beyond the reach of his power; as first, when he seeth his own sins and is truly humbled for them; then to lift up the hand of faith to heaven and thereby to catch hold on the mercy of God in Christ, is the hardest thing in the whole world; and this do all those which know what it is to believe. Secondly, it is as hard a thing in the time of temptation to resist temptation, as for dry wood to resist fire when it begins to burn. Thirdly, when a man is put to his choice, either to lose his life-goods, friends and all that he hath, or else to forsake religion; even then to forsake all and to stick unto Christ is a matter of as great a difficulty as any of the former. Fourthly, when a man wants the ordinary means of GodŐs providence, as meat, drink and clothing, then at the very instant to acknowledge GodŐs providence, to rejoice in it and to rely thereon, is as much as if a man should shake the whole earth. It is against our wicked nature to trust God, unless He first lay down some pawn of His love and mercy to us. How then, will some say, shall any one be able to do these things? Answer: The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of strength, and by Him we do all things, as Paul saith (Phil. 4:13), I am able to do all things through the help of Christ which strengtheneth me.
Concerning these gifts of the Holy Ghost, two questions may be moved:
(i) First, what is the measure of grace in this life? Answer: Small, in respect. In this world we receive, as Paul saith (Rom. 8:23), not the tenth but the first fruits of GodŐs Spirit, and (2 Cor. 1:22) the earnest of the Spirit. Now the first fruits properly are but as an handful or twain of corn, to a whole cornfield containing many acres and furlongs of ground. And the earnest in a bargain it may be is but a penny laid down for the paying of twenty thousand pounds.
(ii) The second question is whether the graces of the Holy Ghost may be wholly lost or not? Answer: The common gifts of the Spirit may be lost and extinguished. But the gifts proper to the elect cannot. Indeed they may be diminished and covered as coals under ashes, and as the sap in the root of the tree in the winter season, not appearing at all in the branches; and the feeling of them may be lost; but they cannot either finally or totally be lost. It is true that God doth forsake His children; but that is only in part, as He left Hezekiah (2 Chr. 32:31) to prove and try what was in his heart. A mother that loves her child most tenderly, sets it down on the floor, lets it stand and fall, and breaks the face, and all this while she hides herself, not because her purpose is to leave her child quite, or to make it hurt itself; but that when she taketh it up again, it may love her the better. So dealeth the Holy Ghost with men to make them know their weakness and frailty. He hides Himself as it were in some corner of the heart for a season, that they may the more earnestly hunger after grace, the want whereof they feel.
The use of this article whereby we confess that we believe in the Holy Ghost, is manifold:
Use 1. First, considering that all the gifts which any man hath, whether they be gifts of knowledge in the Word of God or of human learning or any gifts whereby men are enabled to practise their trades or handicrafts, do come not from ourselves but from the Holy Ghost, we are taught this duty: Look what gifts soever we for our parts have received of the Spirit of God, we must use them so as they may ever serve for the glory of God and good of our brethren, and not to the practising and setting forth of any manner of sin, and by consequence to the service of the devil. For that is as if a man receiving riches and revenues of his prince, should straightaway go to the princeŐs enemy and employ them for his benefit; which were a point of exceeding treachery.
Use 2. Furthermore, in every place the greater part of men are blind and ignorant persons both young and old; and aged folks, as they are ignorant themselves, so they muzzle up their youth in ignorance. Confer with them, you shall find that they can say nothing but that which may be learned by common talk, as that there is a God, and that this God must be worshipped; but ask them further of the means of their salvation, and of their duties to God and man, and they will answer you that they are not book-learned; tell them further that the ordinary means to bring men to knowledge is the preaching of the Word, which if they will not use, they shall be inexcusable; they will say, alas, we are dull of memory and cannot learn. Well, for all this, thou sayest thou believest in the Holy Ghost, and He is thy schoolmaster to teach thee; though thy capacity be dull, yet He is able to open thine understanding; for as there is outward teaching by the minister, so the work of the Holy Ghost is joined within to enlighten the conceit of the mind, that they which hear the Word with reverence, may profit thereby and get knowledge. But if for all this men will not learn, but remain ignorant still, then let them mark the example of the sons of Eli; he in some part did rebuke them for their wickedness, but yet they would not obey; and the reason is there set down (1 Sam. 2:25): because the Lord would destroy them. In the same manner, howsoever we may not judge of any manŐs person, yet this may be said: that if men refuse to hear the Word of God when they may, or if in hearing they will not obey, it is a fearful sign that God will at length destroy them. When a trumpet is sounded in a manŐs ear, and he lies still, not stirring at all, he is certainly dead. And surely when the trumpet of the gospel is sounded in the ears of our hearts, if we awake not out of our sins to newness of life, we are no better than dead men before God. Wherefore the case being thus dangerous, and the punishment so great, let us labour in time for the knowledge of GodŐs will, and prevent GodŐs judgments before they light upon us.
Use 3. Thirdly, as the apostle saith (Gal. 5:25), If we live in the Spirit, we must walk in the Spirit, that is, if we be dead unto sin by the power of the Holy Ghost, and be raised up to newness of life, then we must walk in the Spirit. Now to walk in the Spirit, is to lead our lives in shewing forth the fruits of the Spirit. In Isaiah, the Holy Ghost is compared unto water (Isa. 44:3,4) poured forth on the dry land, which maketh their seed to grow like the willows by the rivers of waters; wherefore those that have the gifts of the Spirit must be trees of righteousness bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, which (as they are set down by Paul (Gal. 5:22,23) are principally nine:
(1) The first fruit is love, which respects both God and man. Love unto God is an inward and a spiritual motion of the heart, whereby God is loved absolutely for Himself. This love shews itself in two things: (i) When a manŐs heart is set and disposed to seek the honour and glory of God in all things. (ii) When a man by all means strives and endeavours himself to please God in everything, counting it a most miserable estate to live in the displeasure of God; and the heart that is thus affected, can have no greater torment than to fall into sin, whereby God is offended and His displeasure provoked. By these two signs a man may know whether he love God or no, and by them also must he testify his love. Now our love to man is a fruit of this love of God, for God is to be loved for Himself; man is loved for God. This love must not be in shew only, but in deed and action. St John biddeth us not to love in word and tongue only, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). Brotherly love doth always lie hid, but when an occasion is offered, it doth break forth into action; it is like fire, which though for a time it be smothered, yet at length it breaks forth into a flame. And so much love a man sheweth to his neighbour, as he hath; and where none is shewn, none is.
(2) The second fruit is joy, when a man is glad at the good of his neighbour as at his own good; and this is a special work of the Holy Ghost. For the nature of man is to pine away, and to grieve at the good of another; and contrariwise it is a work of grace to rejoice thereat. Paul saith (Rom. 12:15), Rejoice with them that rejoice. And this was the holy practice of the friends and neighbours of Zachariah and Elizabeth when John Baptist was born (Luke 1:58): they came and rejoiced with them.
(3) The third fruit of the Spirit is peace. Of this Paul speaketh most excellently, saying (Rom. 12:18), If it be possible, as much as in you is, have peace with all men. It is nothing else but concord which must be kept in an holy manner with all men, both good and bad, so far forth as can be. Isaiah the prophet speaking of the fruits of the gospel, saith (Isa. 11:6), The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid, etc. Where note that in the kingdom of Christ, when a man is called into the state of grace, howsoever by nature he be as a wolf, as a leopard, as a lion, or as a bear; yet he shall then lay away his cruel nature and become gentle, and live peaceably with all men. Now for the practising of this peace, there are three duties especially to be learned and performed:
(i) Rather than peace should be broken, a man must yield of his own right. When publicans came to our Saviour Christ for tribute, He had a lawful excuse; for howsoever He lived in low estate among men, yet He was the right heir to the kingdom, and therefore was free; nevertheless He stood not on His privilege, but called Peter, saying (Matt. 17:26,27), Lest we offend them, go to the sea, and cast in an angle, and take the first fish that cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of twenty pence; take it, and give it to them for thee and me. Here we see that our Saviour Christ, rather than He would break the common peace, yields of His own right; and so we must do if we will be good followers of Him.
(ii) Secondly, when any man shall sin either in word or deed, specially if it be upon infirmity, we must avoid bitter invectives and mildly tell him of his fault, and in all meekness and love, labour for his amendment. So Paul teacheth us, saying (Gal. 6:1,2), If any man be fallen into any fault by occasion, restore such an one with the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou be also tempted. Bear ye one anotherŐs burden.
(iii) Thirdly, every man within the compass of his calling, must be a peacemaker between them that are at variance. This is a special duty of godliness and Christianity, and therefore our Saviour Christ doth highly commend such, and pronounceth this blessing upon them (Matt. 5:9): that they shall be called the children of God.
(4) The fourth fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering; and it standeth in two points: (i) When a man deferreth his anger, and is hardly brought to it. (ii) Being angry doth yet moderate the same, and stay the hotness of that affection.
(i) For the first, to bridle anger, it is a special work of the Holy Ghost, and the means to attain unto it are these:
(a) Not to take notice of the iniquities and wrongs done unto us, if they be not of great moment; but to let them pass, as not knowing them. Solomon saith (Prov. 19:11), It is a manŐs discretion to defer his anger. Now how is that done? It is added in the next words: It is the glory of a man to pass by infirmity; that is, when a man shall overshoot himself, either in word or in deed, to let it pass either wholly or till a time convenient, as though we knew not of it.
(b) The second way to defer and bridle anger is when a man hath injured us either in word or deed, to think with ourselves that we have injured other in the same manner; and for this cause Solomon saith (Eccl. 7:21,22), Give not thine heart to all that men speak, lest thou hear thy servant cursing thee; for oftentimes thine heart also knoweth that thou hast cursed others. A man must not listen to every manŐs words at all times; but he is to think that he hath spoken or done the same to other men, and that now the Lord meeteth with him by the like, as it is said (Matt. 7:2), With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. This is a thing which few consider. Evil men desire good report, and would have all men speak well of them, whereas they can speak well of none; but indeed they must begin to speak well of others before others speak well of them.
(c) Thirdly, a man must consider how God dealeth with him. For so often as he sinneth he provoketh God to cast him away, and to confound him eternally; yet the Lord is merciful and longsuffering. Even so when men do offend and injure us, we must do as God doth; not be angry, but fight against our affections, endeavouring to become patient and longsuffering as God is with us.
(ii) The second property of longsuffering is to keep the affection of anger in moderation and compass. It is not always a sin to be angry, and therefore it is said of Christ (in whom was no blemish of sin) that He was angry (Mark 3:5); yet we must look that our anger be moderate, not continuing overlong, as Paul saith (Eph. 4:26), Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
(5) The fifth fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, whereby a man behaveth and shews himself friendly and courteous to every man, as Paul saith to Titus (Tit. 3:2), Put them in remembrance that they speak evil of no man, that they be no fighters, but soft, shewing all meekness unto all men, whether they be good or bad. This gentleness standeth in these points: (i) To speak to every man friendly and lovingly. (ii) To salute friendly and courteously. (iii) To be ready upon every occasion to give reverence and honour to every man in his place. It is made a question of some, whether a man is to salute and speak unto them that are known to be lewd and wicked men; but here we see what our duty is, in that we are taught to be courteous to all men both good and bad, yet so as we approve not of their sins. As for that which St John saith of false prophets (2 John 10), Receive them not, neither bid them God speed; it is to be understood of giving an outward approbation to false teachers.
(6) The sixth fruit is goodness, which is when a man is ready to do good and become serviceable in his calling to all men, at all times, upon all occasions. This was to be seen in that holy man Job; he saith (Job 29:15,16) that he was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, a father unto the poor, and when he knew not the cause he sought it out. And St Paul shewed this fruit most notably after his conversion, for he saith (1 Cor. 9:22) that he was made all things to all men that he might save some. He was content to undergo anything for the good of any man. And as we have heard, the godly are trees of righteousness bearing fruit, not for themselves but for others; and therefore Paul in the epistle to the Galatians (Gal. 5:13) gives this rule: Do service one to another in love. In these days it is hard to find these duties performed in any place. For both practice and proverb is commonly this: Every man for himself, and God for us all; but it is a graceless saying; and the contrary must be practised of all that desire to be guided by the Spirit.
(7) The seventh fruit is faith. Faith or fidelity stands in these two duties:
(i) One, to make conscience of a lie and to speak everything whereof we speak, as we think it is, and not to speak one thing and think another. A rare thing it is to find this virtue in the world nowadays. Who is he that makes conscience of a lie? And is not truth banished out of our coasts; considering that for gains or outward commodities men make no bones of glozing and dissembling? But alas, the practice is damnable, and the contrary is the fruit of the Holy Ghost, namely, to speak the truth from the heart; and he that can do this, by the testimony of God Himself (Psa. 15:1,2) shall rest in the mountain of His holiness, even in the kingdom of heaven.
(ii) The second point wherein fidelity consisteth, is when a man hath made a promise that is lawful and good, to keep and perform the same. Some think it is a small matter to break promise, but indeed it is a fruit of the flesh; and contrariwise a fruit of the Spirit to perform a lawful promise; and a manŐs word should be as sure as an obligation; and in conscience a man is bound to keep promise so far forth as he will to whom the promise is made. Indeed if a man be released of his promise, he is then free; otherwise if we promise and do not perform, we do not only track our credit before men, but also sin before God.
(8) The eighth fruit of the Spirit is meekness, which is a notable grace of God, when a man provoked by injuries, doth neither intend, nor enterprise the requital of the same. And it stands in three duties:
(i) The first is to interpret the sayings and doings of other men in better part as much as possibly may be.
(ii) The second, when men mistake and misconstrue our sayings and doings, if the matter be of smaller moment, to be silent and patient as Christ was when He was accused before the High Priests and Pharisees; this being withal remembered: that if the matter be of weight and moment, we may defend ourselves by soft and mild answers.
(iii) The third is not to contend in word or deed with any man, but when we are to deal with others, to speak our mind, and so an end.
(9) The last fruit of the Spirit is temperance, whereby a man bridleth his appetite or lust in meat, drink, and apparel. In bridling the lust, these rules must be observed:
(i) Eating and drinking must be joined with continual fasting, after this manner: We must not glut ourselves, but rather abstain from that which nature desireth, and as some used to speak, leave our stomachs craving.
(ii) A man must so eat and drink as afterward he may the better be enabled for GodŐs worship. Creatures are abused when they make us unfit to serve God. The common fault is, on the Sabbath day men so pamper themselves as that they are made unfit both to hear and learn GodŐs Word, and fit for nothing but to slumber and sleep; but following this rule of temperance, these faults shall be amended.
(iii) This must be a caveat in our apparel, that we be attired according to our callings in holy comeliness. The Lord hath threatened (Zeph. 1:8) to visit all those that are clothed in strange apparel. And holy comeliness is this: when the apparel is both for fashion and matter so made and worn that it may express and shew forth the graces of God in the heart, as sobriety, temperance, gravity, etc., and the beholder may take occasion by the apparel to acknowledge and commend these virtues. But lamentable is the time; look on men and women in these days and you may see and read their sins written in great letters on their apparel, as intemperance, pride and wantonness. Every day new fashions please the world; but indeed that holy comeliness which the Holy Ghost doth commend to us, is the right fashion when all is done.
And these are the nine fruits of the Spirit which we must put in practice in our lives and conversations.
Use 4. Fourthly, if we believe in the Holy Ghost, and thereupon do persuade ourselves that He will dwell in us; we must daily labour as we are commanded (1 Thess. 4:4), to keep our vessels in holiness and honour unto the Lord; and the reason is good. If a man be to entertain but an earthly prince or some man of state, he would be sure to have his house in a readiness, and all matters in order against his coming, so as everything might be pleasing unto so worthy a guest. Well now, behold, we put our confidence and affiance in the Holy Ghost, and do believe that He will come unto us, and sanctify us, and lodge in our hearts. He is higher than all states in the world whatsoever; and therefore we must look that our bodies and souls be kept in an honourable and holy manner, so as they may be fit temples for Him to dwell in. St Paul biddeth us (Eph. 4:30) not to grieve the Holy Spirit; where the Holy Ghost is compared to a guest, and our bodies and souls unto inns; and as men use their guests friendly and courteously, shewing unto them all service and duties; so must we do to GodŐs Spirit which is come to dwell and abide in us, doing nothing in any case which may disquiet or molest Him. Now there is nothing so grievous unto Him as our sins, and therefore we must make conscience of all manner of sin, lest by abusing of ourselves, we do cause the Holy Ghost (as it were) with grief to depart from us. When the ark of the covenant, which was a sign of the presence of God, was in the house of Obed Edom, the text saith (2 Sam. 6:11) that the Lord blessed him and all his house; but when the Holy Ghost dwells in a manŐs heart, there is more than the ark of the Lord present, even God Himself; and therefore may we look for a greater blessing. Now then shall we grieve the Holy Ghost by sinning, seeing we reap such benefit by His abode? It is said that our Saviour Christ (John 2:15) was angry when He came into the temple at Jerusalem and saw the abuses therein. Now shall He be angry for the abuses that are done in a temple of stone, and seeing the temples of our bodies, which are not made of stone but are spiritual, figured by that earthly temple, seeing them (I say) abused by sin, will He not be much more angry? Yea, we may assure ourselves He cannot abide that. And therefore if we believe in the Holy Ghost, we must hereupon be moved to keep our bodies and souls pure and clean. And further to persuade us hereunto, we must remember this: that when we pollute our souls and bodies with any manner of sin, we make them even stables and sties for our wretched enemy the devil to harbour in. For when Satan is once cast out, if afterward we fall again to our old sins and looseness of life, and so defile our bodies, they are then most clean and neat for him to dwell in; whereupon he will come and bring seven other devils worse than his beginning. Now what a fearful thing is this: that the body, which should be a temple for the Holy Ghost, by our sins should be made a stable for the devil? Furthermore, St Paul biddeth us (1 Thess. 5:19) not to quench the Spirit. The graces of the Holy Spirit in this life, are like sparks of fire, which may soon be quenched with a little water. Now so oft as we sin, we cast water upon the grace of God, and as much as we can put out the same; therefore it stands us in hand to make conscience of everything wherein we may offend and displease God. And we may assure ourselves that so long as we live and lie in our corruptions and sins, the Holy Ghost will never come and dwell with us. He is a Spirit most pure and chaste, and therefore must have an undefiled temple to dwell in.
Thus we have heard what is to be believed concerning the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Now, look as we believe in God distinguished into three Persons; so we must remember that when we perform divine worship to Him, we may distinguish the Persons, but we are not to sever them. When we pray to the Father, we must not omit the Son or the Holy Ghost, but make our prayers to them all; for as in nature they are one, and in Person not divided but distinguished; so in all worship we must never confound or sever the Persons, but distinguish them, and worship the Trinity in unity, and unity in Trinity; one God in three Persons, and three Persons in one God.