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the soil is different both from the seed and the Sower of the seed. Besides, however sacred be the forms of the ordinances of religion, and however profitable their use when connected with the spiritual substance and reality thereof; they are not, when separated thence, of any profit to any one, but a hypocrisy, a profanation, a hardening of the heart to holy things, a turning away from the living waters of the fountain, and a great offence to the Divine Persons who have presented us with these most precious gifts: and, therefore, so far from preparing a soil, they do rather scourge the soil, and wholly disqualify it for receiving the holy seed. Witness the case of the Jews whom our Saviour addressed: how little their scrupulous adherence to forms did prepare them for receiving the seed of the great Sower of the earth! And, therefore, I think this can as little be admitted for the right solution of the difficulty as the other two: and besides these three, my ingenuity can suggest to me no other; for, if this pre-requisite of “a good and honest heart” be not in the natural disposition, be not in the education and civil institutions of society, be not in the forms and ordinances of the visible church, where should it be ; for these seem to include the whole visible ordinances of God and man for the well-being of mankind ?
I answer, it is in all of these, when rightly interpreted as ordinances of redemption and gifts of grace, and when rightly applied to us by the Holy Spirit of God : and it is in none of them, when interpreted merely as the law and course of nature, and used according to the inclinations of nature. The soil of “a good and honest heart,” is produced by an operation of the Holy Spirit upon
our fallen nature through the means of those fallen things which are around us. As in the creation He did move at first upon the void and formless waters, before the Word said “ Let there be light,” in order to prepare them for receiving the forms which the Word had proposed to give them; so in the regeneration He doth prepare for the seed of the Sower, which is the same word of the Son of God, by working upon the moral chaos of man's nature a readiness to receive the seed when it shall be cast into it. And as the same creating Spirit doth, by many previous processes of nourishment, and health, and growth, prepare every animal for conceiving seed, and bringing forth its kind; so doth He, long before the seed of the word of God is sown in the heart, prepare every heart with a relish, yea, and with a longing for the same.
He maketh the appetite before he bringeth the meat: and having brought the meat, he giveth power to digest it, and so reneweth the decayed face of nature.
Now this view of the subject resulteth straightway from the true doctrine of the Holy Ghost as a Person in the blessed Trinity. For as the Father doth, in the primeval and one only complete act of his will, generate the Son, in whom are included, and through whom are operated, all the various particular acts thereof; so from the Father and the Son, in their harmonious union, proceedeth the Holy Ghost ; through whom, before creation, in the depths of eternity, the Son expresseth unto the Father the perfect unity of his being, notwithstanding that distinctness of personality which he had bestowed upon him. The selfexistence of the Son, and the self-existence of the Father, would constitute them twain in existence, as well as in personality, were it not for the procession of the Holy Ghost from both, in whose self-existing intercommunion they behold, and are satisfied, with their oneness. This is the idea of the Godhead before creation, their first work : and this idea will reveal to us the order of creation, and of redemption, and of every work, to be, as hath been said above, first by a preparatory work of the Spirit, then by a personal work of the Son, unto the end of the manifestation and perfect obedience of the Father's will. For, the Spirit being originated both from the Father and the Son, must in his self-existent being represent the unity and harmony of these two self-existent Beings: and by going forth to set on foot any mighty work, and creating the elemental life of it, He doth thereby, in working bis own personal and distinct work, so far forth express their unity and oneness of substance; while by staying at a certain point, and confessing his inability to proceed further, he doth give honour to the superior place, and room for the independent self-existency of the Son: who now cometh forth, whether as the Word, or as the only-begotten Son (for he is both from all eternity in his
substance), to give forms, and functions, and laws of being : yet all the while declaring that he can work nothing by himself, nor put will into any thing, being himself but the great offspring of the Father's will, for the decree of which every work waiteth, and without which no work of the Godhead is complete. And the work being complete doth acknowledge the origination of its life to the Spirit, the excellent form and peculiar blessedness
of its life to the Son, the end and continual support of its life to the Father's will.
Now, here is a work to be done; a lost and fallen world is to be recovered from the power of sin : and it is the purpose of the Godhead to restore it. It is their purpose to restore it, for the end of expelling infirmity out of the creature, and putting sin and sinful beings for ever into a state of subjection and inefficiency. And how is this greatest of all works to be accomplished ? Like every other work of the Godhead must it be accomplished. The Spirit first proceedeth forth to begin the work: he arresteth all things on their road to death, and impregnates the mortal mixture with a principle of life; and in doing so he testifieth of the Father and the Son, by possessing every thing with a desire and propensity to life, and with a certain prophetic indication of that form of life which it should yet be brought unto. This is “the groaning and travailing of all creatures together until now;" while to man it is the ministry of promise and prophecy, of type and semblance; the fleshly rudiments of a church, which at first were given unto all men, and are still found to exist amongst all men, in some apprehension of a God, and of sin, and of a judgment, and of a heaven and a hell, and of an immortality; besides other mythological mysteries, which a stranger understandeth not, and which they themselves also have in some degree forgotten to interpret. Still, however, it is the work of the Spirit in their conscience, pointing to the perfect work of redemption which was in the mind of the Godhead, and which he had come forth to set on foot. And his work is all which was done amongst men, which was done upon the visible material world, to give all things their present constitutions, so very different from that condition of death to which they were doomed by the curse of God.
This preparation doth the Spirit make for the coming of the Son : and here he waiteth, until the Son shall come and give the form and law of the regeneration; being himself in his flesh the seed which must be cast into the ground, the type of the travailing universe; as in his resurrection he is the type of the delivered universe. I mean, that the Holy Ghost, who, after the Fall, had brought all things into a travailing condition, suffering and groaning, and conscious of a something that was to come forth, did make the flesh of Christ in the completeness and perfectness of the suffering creature, burdened with the substance of all burdens, distressed with the weakness of all infirmities, and suffering the excruciation of all diseases, and bearing the amount of all wrath and indignation of God; yet withal having'the fulness of all knowledge, the brightness of all prophecy, the assurance of all faith towards that glory which was to come forth of him after he should have been cast into the earth. Whereupon, after that Christ hath exhibited the true type of the sufferer, the Spirit again proceedeth to bring the world under the same extreme bondage of distress; at the same time possessing them with the like brightness and clearness of prophecy concerning their future glory; and declaring unto men, that no one can come unto the similitude of Jesus, unless he be drawn thereto by the Father, and born again of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father. And those