Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND RESPECTING THE

OPERATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. “But I have greater authority than his " Bishop Pearson's), “and such as I reverence only less than that of the oracles of God; I mean, that of our own Church. I shall close this head by setting down what occurs in her authentic records, concerning either our receiving the Holy Ghost, or His ordinary operations in all true Christians.

In her Daily Service she teaches us all to beseech God 'to grant us His Holy Spirit, that those things may please Him which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life may be pure and holy; ' to pray for our Sovereigo Lord the King, that God would replenish him with the grace of His Holy Spirit;' for all the Royal Family, that they may be endued with His Holy Spirit, and enriched with His heavenly grace;' for all the Clergy and people, that He would ósend down upon them the healthful Spirit of His grace;' for 'the Catholic Church, that it may be guided and governed by His good Spirit; ' and for all therein who at any time 'make their common supplication unto Him,' that the fellowship’ or communication of the Holy Ghost may be with them all evermore.'

“Her Collects are full of petitions to the same effect : 'Grant that we may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit.' (Collect for Christmas Day.) • Grant that in all our sufferings here, for the testimony of Thy truth, we may by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed, and, “ being filled with the Holy Ghost,” may love and bless our persecutors.' (St. Stephen's Day.) 'Send Thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity.' (Quinquagesima Sunday ) "O Lord, from whom all good things do come, grant to us, Thy humble servants, that by Thy holy inspiration we may think those things tbat are good, and by Thy merciful guidance may perform the same.' (Fifth Sunday after Easter.) •We beseech Thee, leave us not comfortless, but send us the Holy Ghost to comfort us.' (Sunday after Ascension Day.) "Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort.' (Whit-Sunday.) (N.B. The Church here teaches all Christians to claim the Comforter, in virtue of the promise made, John xiv.) “Grant us, Lord, we beseech Thee, the Spirit, to think and do always such things as be rightful.' (Ninth Sunday after Trinity.) O God, forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee : mercifully grant that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts.' (Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.) •Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee, and worthily magnify Tby holy name.' (Communion Office.)......

“From these passages it may sufficiently appear, for what purposes every Christian, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, does now receive the Holy Ghost.'' But this will be still more clear from those that follow ; wherein the reader may likewise observe a plain, rational sense of God's revealing Himself to us, of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and of a believer's feeling in himself. the mighty working' of the Spirit of Christ :

"God gave them of old grace to be His children, as He doth us now. But now, by the coming of our Saviour Christ, we have received more abundantly the Spirit of God in our hearts.' (Homily on Faith, Part II.)

He died to destroy the rule of the devil in us; and He rose again to send down His Holy Spirit, to "rule in our hearts.' (Homily on the Resurrection.)

“We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, as a seal and pledge of our everlasting inheritance.' bid.)

"The Holy Ghost sat upon each of them, like as it had been cloven tongues of fire ; to teach, that it is He which giveth eloquence and utterance in preaching the Gospel; which engendereth a burning zeal towards God's word, and giveth all men a tongue, yea, a fiery tongue.' (N.B. Whatever occurs in any of the Journals, [Wesley's.] of God's giving me utterance,' or enabling me to speak with power,' cannot therefore be quoted as enthusiasm, without wounding the Church through my side.) 'So that if any man be a dumb Christian, not professing his faith openly, he giveth men occasion to doubt lest he have not the grace of the Holy Ghost within him.' (Homily on Whit-Sunday, Part I.)

"" It is the office of the Holy Ghost to sanctify; which the more it is hid from onr understanding,' (that is, the more particular manner of His working,) 'the more it ought to move all men to wonder at the secret and mighty workings of God's Holy Spirit which is within us. For it is the Holy Ghost that doth quicken the minds of men, stirring up godly motions in their hearts. Neither doth He think it sufficient inwardly to work the new birth of man, unless He do also dwell and abide in him. “Know ye not,” saith St. Paul, “that ye are the temple of God, and that His Spirit dwelleth in you? Know yo not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you ?” Again he saith, “Yo are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” For why? “The Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” To this agreeth St. John : "The anointing which ye bave received ” (he meaneth the Holy Ghost) “abideth in you.” (1 John ii. 27.) And St. Peter saith the same: “ The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” O what comfort is this to the heart of a true Christian, to think that the Holy Ghost dwelleth in him! " If God be with us," as the Apostle saith, " who can be against us?” He giveth patience and joyfulness of heart, in temptation and affliction, and is therefore worthily called “the Comforter.” (John xiv. 16.) He doth instruct the hearts of the simple in the knowledge of God and His word; therefore He is justly termed " the Spirit of truth.” (xvi. 13.) And where the Holy Ghost doth instruct and teach, there is no delay at all in learning.' (Ibid.)

"From this passage I learn, First, that every true Christian now 'receives the Holy Ghost,' as the Paraclete or Comforter promised by our Lord, (John xiv. 16 :) Secondly, that every Christian receives Him as the Spirit of truth,' (promised John xvi.,) to teach him all things:' Add, Thirdly, that the anointing,' mentioned in the first Epistle of St. John, “abides in every Christian.'

"In reading of God's Word, he profiteth most that is most inspired wilh the Holy Ghost.' (Homily on reading the Scripture, Part I.)

" Human and worldly wisdom is not needful to the understanding of Scripture, but the revelation of the Holy Ghost, who inspireth the

true meaning unto them that with humility and diligence search for it.' (Ibid., Part II.)

“ • Make him know and feel that there is no other name under heaven given unto men, whereby we can be saved.

" " If we feel our conscience at peace with God, through remission of our sin,-all is of God.' (Homily on Rogation Week, Part III.)

• If you feel such a faith in you, rejoice in it, and let it be daily increasing by well-working.' (Homily on Faith, Part III.)

The faithful may feel wrought tranquillity of conscience, the increase of faith and hope, with many other graces of God.' (Homily on the Sacrament, Part I.)

"Godly men feel inwardly God's Holy Spirit, inflaming their hearts with love.' (Homily on certain places of Scripture, Part I.)

“God give us grace to know these things, and to feel them in our hearts! This knowledge and feeling is not of ourselves. Let us therefore meekly call upon the bountifal Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to inspire us with His presence, that we may be able to hear the goodness of God to our salvation. For without His lively inspiration, can we not so much a8 speak the name of the Mediator. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost;" much less should we be able to believe and know these great mysteries that be opened to us by Christ. “But we have received,” saith St. Paul, “not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God;" for this purpose, “ that we may know the things which are freely given to us of God.” In the power of the Holy Ghost resteth all ability to know God, and to please Him. It is He that puri. fieth the mind by His secret working. He enlighteneth the heart, to conceive worthy thoughts of Almighty God. He sitteth in the tongue of man, to stir him to speak His honour. He only ministereth spiritual strength to the powers of the soul and body. And if we have any gift whereby we may profit our neighbour, all is wrought by this one and the self-same Spirit.' (Homily for Rogation Week, Part III.)"

MR. WESLEY'S CONCLUDING REMARKS. “Every proposition," says he, “which I have anywhere advanced concerning those operations of the Holy Ghost, which, I believe, are common to all Christians in all ages, is here clearly maintained by our own Church.

“ Under a full sense of this, I could not well understand, for many years, how it was, that on the mentioning any of these great truths, even among men of education, the cry immediately arose, ‘An enthusiast ! an enthusiast!' But I now plainly perceive this is only an old fallacy in a new shape. To object enthusiasm to any person or doctrine is but a decent method of begging the question. It generally spares the objector the trouble of reasoning, and is a shorter and easier way of carrying his cause.

“For instance, I assert that till a man“ receives the Holy Ghost," he is without God in the world ; that he cannot know the things of God, unless God reveal them unto him by the Spirit; no, nor have even one holy or heavenly temper, without the inspiration of the Holy One.' Now, should one who is conscious to himself that he has experienced

none of these things, attempt to confute these propositions, either from Scripture or antiquity, it might prove a difficult task. What then shall he do? Why, cry out, “Enthusiasm ! enthusiasm !' and the work is done.

“But what does he mean by enthusiasm ? Perhaps nothing at all: Few have any distinct idea of its meaning. Perhaps something very bad,' or, 'something I never experienced and do not understand.' Shall I tell you then what that 'terrible something' is? I believe, thinking men mean by enthusiasm, a sort of religious madness; a false imagination of being inspired by God : And by an enthusiast, one that fancies himself under the influence of the Holy Ghost, when, in fact, he is not.

“Let him prove me guilty of this who can. I will tell you once more the whole of my belief on these heads: And if any man will show me (by arguments, not hard names) what is wrong, I will thank God and him.

“Every good gift is from God, and is given to man by the Holy Ghost. By nature there is in us no good thing; and there can be none, but so far as it is wrought in us by that good Spirit. Have we any true knowledge of what is good ? This is not the result of our natural understanding : • The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God;' so that we never can discern them until God * reveals them unto us by His Spirit.' Reveals, that is, unveils, uncovers ; gives us to know what we did not know before. Have we love? It is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' He inspires, breathes, infuses into our soul what of ourselves we could not have. Does our fpirit rejoice in God our Saviour ? It is joy in,' or by, the Holy Ghost.' Have we true inward peace? It is the peace of God' wrought in us by the same Spirit. Faith, peace, joy, love, are all His fruits. And as we are figuratively said to see the light of faith, so, by a like figure of speech, we are said to feel this peace, and joy, and love; that is, we have an inward experience of them, which we cannot find any fitter word to express.

“The reasons why, in speaking of these things, I use those terms, (inspiration particularly,) are, (1.) Because they are Scriptural ; (2.) Because they are used by our Church ; (3.) Because I know none better. The word, ' influence of the Holy Ghost,' which I suppose you use, is both a far stronger and a less natural term than inspiration. It is far stronger, even as far as · flowing into the soul' is a stronger expression than. breathing upon it;' and less natural, as breathing bears a near relation to spirit; to which flowing in has only a distant relation.

“But you thought I had meant immediate inspiration.' So I do, or I mean nothing at all. Not, indeed, such inspiration as is sine mediis (without means). But all inspiration, though by means, is immediate. Suppose, for instance, you are employed in private prayer, and God pours His love into your heart. God then acts immediately on your soul; and the love of Him which you then experience is as immediately breathed into you by the Holy Ghost, as if you had lived seventeen hundred years ago. Change the term : say, God then assists you to love Him. Well, and is not this immediate assistance? Say, His Spirit concurs with yours. You gain no ground. It is immediate concurrence, or none at all. God, a Spirit, acts upon your spirit. Make it out any otherwise if you can.

“I cannot conceive how that harmless word immediate came to be such a bugbear in the world: Why, I thonght you meant such inspiration as the Apostles had, and such a receiving the Holy Ghost as that was at the day of Pentecost.' I do in part. Indeed I do not mean that Christians now receive the Holy Ghost in order to work miracles ; but they do, doubtless, now receive,' yea, are filled with, the Holy Ghost,' in order to be filled with the fruits of that blessed Spirit. And He inspires into all true believers now a degree of the same peace, and joy, and love which the Apostles felt in themselves on that day when they were first filled with the Holy Ghost.'

“I have now considered the most material objections I know, which have been lately made against the great doctrines I teach. I have produced, 80 far as in me lay, the strength of those objections, and then answered them, I hope, in the spirit of meekness. And now, I trust, it appears that these doctrines are no other than the doctrines of Jesus Christ; that they are all evidertly contained in the Word of God, by which alone I desire to stand or fall; and that they are fundamentally the same with the doctrines of the Church of England......

“One thing more I infer, that we are not enthusiasts. This accusation has been considered at large; and the main argaments hitherto brought to support it have been weighed in the balance and found wanting : particularly this, 'that none but enthusiasts suppose either that the promise of the Comforter, (John xiv. 16, 26; xvi. 13,) or the witness of the Spirit, (Rom. viii. 15, 16,) or that nnutterable prayer, (Rom. viii. 26, 27,) or the “unction from the Holy One,” (1 John ii. 20, 27,) to belong in common to all Christians.' O my Lord, how deeply have you condemned the generation of God's children! Whom have you represented as rank, dreaming enthusiasts, as either deluded or designing men ? Not only Bishop Pearson, a man hitherto accounted both sound in heart and of good understanding; but likewise Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Ridley. Bishop Latimer, Bishop Hooper; and all the venerable compilers of onr Liturgy aud Homilies; all the members of both the Houses of Convocation, by whom they were revised and approved; yea, King Edward, and all his Lords and Commons together, by whose authority they were established; and, with these modern enthusiasts, Origen, Chrysostom, and Athanasius, are comprehended in the same censure .......

“I cannot conclude this head without one obvious remark : Suppose we really were enthusiasts; suppose our doctrines were false, and unsupported either by reason, Scripture, or authority; then why hath not some one, who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you, attempted at least to show as our fault in love and meekness of wisdom ?' Brethren, “if ye have bitter zeal in your hearts, your wisdom descendeth not from above. The wisdom that is from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, fall of mercy" or pity. Does this spirit appear in one single tract of all those which have been published against us? Is there one writer that has reproved us in love ? Bring it to a single point : ‘Love hopeth all things. If you had loved as in any degree, you would have hoped that God would some

« PreviousContinue »