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Scripture Testimony to Divine Efficiency.
AFTER all our reasonings on the subject of divine efficiency, our chief dependence must be on the plain testimony of the Bible. We can argue conclusively against the assumption that divine efficiency is inconsistent with freedom; but for positive proof of the doctrine we dare not rely on our own independent reasonings. We cannot look so deep into the secrets of nature. We must “ hear what God the Lord will speak:” and if he, in language the most plain and positive, declares the fact, we must cast no doubts upon it from any confidence we may have in our own powers of discernment, or from any apprehension of its inconsistency with moral agency. Now then for the divine testimony.
I. The general language of Scripture represents God to be the Author of holiness, without limiting or qualifying the declaration by a reference to any instrument. The general current of Scripture therefore gives the same evidence of efficiency in the second creation, that the first chapter of Genesis does of efficiency in the first. “God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” We ask
no questions about the mode, but simply believe that he willed the existence of light and light was. Exactly the same evidence .we have, not from a single chapter, but from the general tenour of Scripture, that God efficiently wills the existence of holiness in the hearts of his people. And the few texts which speak of truth as the object towards which the mind acts, or as the consideration by which it is consciously influenced, do not touch the question, Who causes the mind to fall in with truth? This question, which is settled by the general voice of Scripture, receives no opposing answer from a single text.
(1.) I shall begin with a class of texts which, in the simplest form, speak of God as the Author of holiness. "I am the Lord which sanctify you.” “God is my strength and power, and he maketh my way perfect." “The Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers. Let him not leave us nor forsake us; that he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, as he commanded our fathers.” “ Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; thou wilt prepare their heart.” “The Lord will give grace and glory.” “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” “ Thou wilt ordain peace for us, for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.”* “ I hid me and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways and will heal him. I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips : peace, peace to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith the Lord, and I will heal him.” “That they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them." “ The heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify. Israel.” “ He is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold .. and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my. Father which is in heaven.” “Without me ye can do. nothing.” “A man can receive nothing except it be give en him from heaven.” “ Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” “A certain woman named Lydia,—whose heart the Lord opened.” “Who maketh thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it ?” “By the grace of God I am what I am.” “Not -that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” “Thanks be to God which put the same earnest care into the heart of
Titus for you.” “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb,—to reveal his Son in me.” “Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,-make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.” “Every good gift and every per
fect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” “Who-was manifest in these last times for you who by him do believe in God."*
(2.) The great account made of the Spirit in the Gospel dispensation, and the work every where ascribed to him.
The office work of the third Person in the Trinity is to sanctify. Take from the Spirit that work, and you wrest from him all employment, and cover him from creatures with an eternal cloud. From the more abundant influences of the Spirit which attend the Gospel, compared with the law of Moses, that is called “the ministration of the Spirit,” and even “the spirit.” This was a chief good promised to Christ in the covenant of redemption, and through him to the Church in the covenant of grace. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us ;—that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.—Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of One, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.” “The Redeemer shall come to Zion.— This is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My Spirit that is upon thee and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever.” “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” “And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son.” “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name." “ When the Comforter is come-he shall testify of me.”
* Lev. 20. 8. 2 Sam. 22. 33. 1 Kin. 8. 57, 58. Ps. 10. 17. and 84. 11. and 138. 8. Isai. 26. 12. and 57. 17-19. Ezek. 20. 12. and 37. 28. Mal. 3. 2, 3. Mat. 16. 17. John 3. 27 and 15. 5. Acts 5. 31. and 15. 14. and 16. 14. 1 Cor. 4. 7. and 15. 10. 2 Cor. 3. 5. and 8. 16. Gal. 1. 15, 16. Heb. 13. 20, 21. James 1. 17. 1 Pet. 1. 20, 21.
When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” “If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send him unto you." “ This spoke he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” In his first interview with the disciples after his resurrection, “ he breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the * Holy Ghost.” “He showed himself alive after his passion;
-and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.""*
* Isai. 59. 20, 21. Joel 2. 28, 29. Zech. 12. 10. John 7. 38, 39. and 14. 16, 17, 26. and 15. 26. and 16. 7, 13. and 20. 22. Acts 1. 3-5. 2 Cor. 3. 6, 8. Gal. 3. 13, 14, 16.