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ISAIAH XXXII. 15.
Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high!
In the beginning of this chapter, the evangelical prophet foretels the auspicious advent and benign government of the Messiah; perhaps with some reference to Hezekiah's equitable and prosperous reign over Judah. He then denounces sentence on the careless, obstinate, and unbelieving Jews, in language aptly descriptive of their condition ever since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and then he declares, that these desolations would endure, "until the Spirit should be poured upon them from on high;" the happy effects of which gracious dispensation he predicts in the most energetic language. This seems to be the prophetical meaning of the chapter; the concluding verses of which have not hitherto received their accomplishment.-But the present occasion fixes our attention to the words of the text and I shall endeavour from them,
I. To explain what is meant by "out of the Spirit from on high :"
II. To consider more particularly the nature and effects of this promised blessing:
Preached on Whitsunday, 1794.
III. To make some remarks on the emphatical word, "Until :"
IV. To point out some instructions more immediately arising from the subject.
I. I would explain the words here used.
The apostle calls Christianity "the ministration "of the Spirit :" and it is certain however it may be overlooked, that the promise of the Spirit pervades the New Testament, in the same manner as that of a Messiah does the old. The language used concerning this subject, evidently implies the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit. He is represented as hearing, speaking, willing, commanding, forbidding, and as receiving and executing a commission: and this not in allegories and parables, but in histories, didactic discussions, laws and grants, where precision is indispensably necessary, and a literal interpretation peculiarly suitable; yet beyond all doubt these are personal actions. At the same time divine perfections and operations are ascribed to him. He is said to dwell in the hearts of all believers, as in his temple, to "search "the deep things of God," to raise the dead and to effect a new creation. He is called, "the Spirit "of holiness," "the Spirit of truth," "the Spirit "of life," "the Spirit of power," "the Spirit of "wisdom and knowledge," "the eternal Spirit," and "the Comforter." If then the Holy Spirit be a Person possessing divine perfections, and performing divine operations; and if the same be true of the Father, and of the Son also; then the ancient doctrine of the Trinity is evidently scriptural,
1 2 Cor. iii. 8
though we can neither explain nor comprehend so deep a mystery.
If we further examine the subject, we shall find that the scriptures uniformly ascribe all miraculous powers, prophecy, and inspiration to the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit: so that the wonderful works of Christ himself, and the exercise of his mediatorial offices on earth, are spoken of as performed by his anointing: "The Holy Ghost "was not given by measure unto him." And St. Paul particularly describes the diversity of gifts communicated "by the same Spirit, dividing to
every man severally as he willed." The predictions of the prophets concerning "the pouring "out of the Spirit," in the days of the Messiah,3 as well as our Lord's promises to his disciples, may have a special reference to these extraordinary gifts and powers; and to that display of the ascended Redeemer's glory and majesty, which was made on the day of Pentecost: but it should also be noted, that effects were produced, at that important season, by the same divine Agent, which were far more valuable to those by whom they were experienced.
If we accurately study the language of the sacred oracles, we shall be convinced that the Holy Spirit is there spoken of as the immediate Author of all that is holy and excellent in man: and that a spiritual death, and a total incapacity of delighting in God and heavenly things, universally prevail in the human heart, till "the law of the
'John iii. 34.
Acts i. 2. x. 38.
2 1 Cor. xii.
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from "the law of sin and death." "Except a man be "born again-born of water and of the Spirit, he "cannot see he cannot enter into, the kingdom "of God." He is "the Spirit of wisdom and "revelation in the knowledge of God, to enlighten "the eyes of our understanding, that we may "know the hope of our calling." He "con"vinces the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment:" "he glorifies Christ, for he receives "of his, and shews it unto us." It is his office to "teach us all things, and to lead us into all "truth." Christians are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of "the Spirit unto obedience:" they abound in hope "through the power of the Holy Ghost." "They pray in and by the Holy Ghost, who helps their "infirmities:" "they are led by the Spirit," and all their holy tempers and actions are "the fruits "of the Spirit." So that, "if any man have not "the Spirit of Christ he is none of his :" for all his redeemed people are "sealed by the Spirit who "is the earnest of their inheritance:" as "the "Spirit of adoption, he witnesses with their spirits "that they are the children of God:" and thus he becomes their all-sufficient Comforter; "for the
kingdom of God is-in righteousness, and peace, "and joy in the Holy Ghost."
In these respects we are warranted to expect the pouring out of the Spirit on our souls and congregations and we are confident that all true Christians are "the temple of the Holy Ghost, an
1 Eph. i. 17, 18.
"habitation of God through the Spirit ;" and we are amazed that any man, who calls himself a disciple of Christ, should be so ignorant, as to deny this fundamental truth of the gospel, or so profane as to turn it into ridicule! " If ye," says our Lord, "being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to "them that ask him?" This accords to the promise of the Lord by his prophet, "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my << statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and "do them."2
Far be it from us to affect equality with prophets and apostles: nor do we expect any new revelations for the scriptures soberly interpreted are the standard of truth. But we profess to depend on the Holy Spirit to enable us properly to understand them. We have no other rule of duty than the commandments of God: but we need the promised teaching and assistance of the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand this rule, to convince us of our manifold deviations from it, to humble and soften our hearts in true repentance, to encourage our hope of mercy, and to help us to apply for it, and to strengthen us for renewed obedience. We do not pretend to know that our sins are pardoned, except as we are conscious that we hate and abhor them, and humbly trust in Christ to deliver us from them. We infer our interest in the love of God as our heavenly Father, from our love to him as his adopted children; and
Luke xi. 13.
2 Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26.