Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Commentary on Lord's Day 20

TWENTIETH LORD’S DAY


OF GOD, THE HOLY GHOST


Question 53. What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?

Answer. First, that he is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the Son: secondly, that he is also given me to make me, by a true faith, a partaker of Christ and all his benefits, that he may comfort me, and abide with me for ever.

EXPOSITION

There are six articles included in this part of the Creed. The first of these treats of the person of the Holy Ghost; the next of the church, which the Holy Ghost gathers, confirms and preserves; whilst the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting include the benefits of Christ, which the Holy Ghost confers upon the church.

In speaking of the Holy Ghost there are three things which in particular claim our attention: these are his person, his office and his gifts, or operations. For a more complete exposition of the subject, however, we shall consider in their order the following questions:

          I.      What does the term Spirit signify?
          II.      Who and what is the Holy Ghost?
          III.      What is his office?
          IV.      What, and how manifold are his gifts?
          V.      Of whom, and why was the Holy Ghost given?
          VI.      To whom, and to what extent is he given?
          VII.      When, and in what manner is he given and received?
          VIII.      How may he be retained?
          IX.      Whether, and how may he be lost?
          X.      Why is he necessary?
          XI.      How may we know that he dwells in us?


I. WHAT DOES THE TERM SPIRIT SIGNIFY?

The term spirit (from spirando) is sometimes taken for the cause, and sometimes for the effect. When taken for the cause it means the being or force that puts anything in motion, and is either uncreated, or created. It is uncreated in the sense in which God is essentially and personally a Spirit, that is, incorporeal, indivisible, having a spiritual essence, but no bodily dimensions. “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24.) Spirit as created is either immaterial, as the angels, both good and bad, human souls, &c. “Who maketh his angels spirits.” “Thou takest away their breath, they die.” (Ps. 104:4, 29.) Or it is material, as the wind, vapors, &c “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” (John 3:8.) When taken for the effect, or for the motion itself, it signifies, 1. The air which is moved. 2. The impulse and motion of the air. 3. The wind and vapors moved in different ways. 4. Spiritual affections, and exercises whether good or bad. It is in this way that we speak of the spirit of fear, of courage, of revolution, &c. 5. The gifts of the Holy Spirit. “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thes. 5:19.) As it is here used, the term spirit signifies the cause which influences or moves, which is the third person of the Godhead, who works effectually in the minds and wills of men.
The third person of the Godhead is called a Spirit, 1. Because he is a spiritual essence, immaterial and invisible. 2. Because he is inspired of the Father and the Son, and is the person through whom the Father and the Son immediately influences the hearts of the elect, or because he is the immediate agent of divine works. 3. Because he himself inspires and immediately influences the hearts of the people of God, in view of which he is called the power of the Highest. 4. Because he is God, equal and the same with the Father and the Son; and God is a Spirit. He is called holy, 1. Because he is holy in himself, and in his own nature. 2. Because he is the sanctifier, who immediately sanctifies and makes holy the people of God. The Father and the Son sanctify through the Holy Ghost; and, therefore, mediately.


II. WHO, AND WHAT IS THE HOLY GHOST?

The Holy Ghost is the third person of the true and only Godhead, proceeding from the Father and the Son, being co-eternal, co-equal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son, and is sent by both into the hearts of the faithful, that he may sanctify and fit them for eternal life. That this description or definition may be established against heretics, the same things must be proven from the Scriptures concerning the Divinity of the Holy Ghost which we have already demonstrated in regard to the Divinity of the Son; viz, that the Holy Ghost is a person—that he is distinct from the Father and the Son—that he is equal with both, and that he is consubstantial with the Father and the Son. The following declarations of the Apostle Paul establish all these propositions: “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us of God.” “All these worketh that one and self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1 Cor. 2:11, 12; 12:11.) But we must proceed to the proof of these several propositions in their order.
I. That the Holy Ghost is a subsistent or person is proven, 1. From the instances which are recorded of his having appeared in a visible form. “The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove upon him.” “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” (Luke 3:22. Acts 2:3.) But it is not possible for any quality or exercise of the mind or heart to assume and wear a bodily form; for an accident does not only not assume any particular form, but it even requires something else to which it may attach itself, and in which it may exist. Nor is the air the subject of holiness, godliness, the love of God and other spiritual exercises. 2. That the Holy Ghost is a person is evident from the fact that he is called God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost: thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (1 Cor. 3:16. Acts 5:3, 4. See also, Is. 40:7, 13. Acts 28:25. Eph. 4:4, 30.) In whatever sense, therefore, heretics may admit that the Holy Ghost is called God, this must follow that he is a subsistent or person, inasmuch as God has a personal existence; but our piety, goodness, religious exercises and other spiritual affections cannot be called God. 3. The Holy Ghost is a person, because he is the author of our baptism, and for the reason that we are baptized in his name, just as much as in that of the Father and the Son; that is, by his commands, will and authority. But no one is ever baptized by the will and authority of a dead thing, or of something having no existence, or in the name of any gifts; but by the command of God. 4. That the Holy Ghost is a subsistent may again be inferred from this, that the properties of a person are continually attributed to him. Thus it is said, that he teaches, comforts and guides us in all truth; that he distributes gifts as he will; that he calls and sends apostles, and speaks in them: “The Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” “Separate me Barnabas and Saul.” “They assayed to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not.” (Luke 12:11. Acts 13:2; 16:7.) So it is said that he declares things to come; that he foretold the death of Simeon, the destruction of Judas, the traitor, the journey of Peter to Cornelius, the chains and afflictions by which Paul was detained at Jerusalem, the apostacy of the last times, the signification of the entrance of the High Priest into the most holy place, the new covenant, the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, &c., that he makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered, that he causes us to cry, Abba, Father, that he is tempted by those who lie unto him, and, finally, that he bears witness in heaven with the Father and the Son. All these things belong to a person existing, living, willing and acting with design. 5. The Holy Ghost is also clearly distinguished from the gifts of God, which is another proof of his personality. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” “But all these worketh that one and self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1 Cor. 12:4, 11.) These gifts differ, therefore, greatly from the Spirit himself.
Obj. The gift of God is not a person. The Holy Ghost is called the gift of God. Therefore he is not a person. Ans. The first proposition is false if it be taken generally; for the Son was also given, and is the gift of God, and yet he is a person. But the Holy Ghost is called a gift on account of his mission; because he is sent from the Father and the Son. “The Comforter whom I will send unto you from the Father. (John 15:26.) He is such a gift as affects and secures the rest of his gifts.
II. That the Holy Ghost is distinct from the Father and the Son, is proven against the Sabellians who affirm that he is the subsistent of the Father: 1. From the fact that he is called the Spirit of the Father and the Son. But no one is his own spirit, no more than he is his own father or his own son. Hence the Holy Ghost being the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is distinct from both. 2. The Holy Ghost is expressly declared in the Scriptures to be distinct from the Father and the Son. “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.” “Whom I will send unto you from the Father.” “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.” (John 14:16; 15:26. 1 John 5:7.) The Holy Ghost is here evidently distinguished from both the Father and the Son. 3. He is said to be sent by the Father and the Son, and must, therefore, be another person; for no one is sent of himself. A person may, indeed, come of his own accord, and of himself; but no one can send himself. “Whom I will send unto you from the Father.” “Whom the Father will send in my name.” (John 15:26; 14:26.) 4. Distinct attributes are ascribed to the Holy Ghost. He alone proceeds from the Father and the Son; and appeared in the form of a dove, and in the likeness of fire. Christ was also conceived, not by the Father, or the Son, but of the Holy Ghost, which is to say by his immediate virtue and power. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” (Luke 1:35.) Hence it is plain that the Holy Ghost is distinct from the Father and the Son. Heretics being convinced by these arguments from the word of God, admit that the Holy Ghost is a subsistent, but, say they, of the Father, and reason in the following manner:
Obj. 1. The power of the Father is the Father himself. The Holy Ghost is called the power of God. Therefore the Holy Ghost is the Father himself. Ans. There are here four terms, because in the major proposition the word power is taken for the nature or power of the Father; but in the minor it means the person through whom the Father exercises his power. Hence there is here a sophism.
Obj. 2. That which is common to all the persons of the Godhead ought not to be restricted to one. The word Spirit is common to the three persons. Therefore it ought not to be restricted to the third. Ans. We grant the whole argument if the word Spirit be understood of the essence of the persons of the Trinity, but not if it be understood of the order of their existence and operation. For he that breathes and the Spirit are different; the one is the person who proceeds, the other is the person from whom he proceeds; the one is the third person of the Godhead, the other is the first or second. The Holy Ghost is called the third person, (not because there is in God any first or last in point of time, but as touching the order or mode of existence) because he has his essence from the Father and the Son, from whom he eternally proceeded: as he is also the Spirit of both. The Son is for a similar reason called the second person, because he is of the Father. The Father is called the first person because he is of no one.
III. That the Holy Ghost is equal with the Father and the Son the following arguments do most conclusively prove. 1. There is communicated to him the essence of the Father and the Son; because he proceeded from both, and is the Spirit of both. But the essence of God includes every thing that is in him; and inasmuch as this is indivisible it must necessarily be communicated to him entire, and the same as it is in the Father and the Son; for just as the spirit which is in man, is of the essence of man, so the Spirit which is in God is of the essence of God. Hence we readily perceive what we are to understand by the procession of the Holy Ghost; it is the communication of the divine essence, by which the third person of the Godhead received from the Father and the Son, as of him whose Spirit he is, the same and entire essence which they possess and retain; just as the generation of the Son is the communication of the divine essence, by which the second person of the Godhead received, as the Son from the Father, the same, and entire essence which the Father has and retains.
That the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Son also is established by these considerations. First, because he is also called the Spirit of the Son. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.” “God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:9. Gal. 4:6.) He is called the Spirit of the Son, not because he is given to him of the Father; but because he proceeds from the essence of the Father and Son alike, inasmuch as the Son is equal and consubstantial with the Father. Secondly, because the Son gives him in connection with the Father. “Whom I will send unto you from the Father.” “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” (John 15:16; 20:22.) Thirdly, because the Holy Ghost receives the wisdom of the Son which he reveals unto us. “He shall receive of mine and shew it unto you.” (John 16:14.) Inasmuch now as the Holy Ghost is very God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son, as we shall presently show, he cannot receive any thing except of him of whose substance he is. Hence he proceeded also from the substance of the Son.
2. That the Holy Ghost is equal with the Father and the Son is proven from the fact that all the attributes of the divine essence are attributed to him. Thus eternity is ascribed to him; because he existed at the creation of all things, and because God never has been without his Spirit. “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:2.) So of immensity; because he dwells in all the children of God. “The Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” (1 Cor. 3:16.) So of omnipotence; because he created and preserves all things in connection with the Father and the Son. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” “All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (Ps. 33:6. 1 Cor. 12:11.) So of omniscience: “The Spirit scarcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10.) So the Scriptures ascribe to the Holy Ghost immense goodness and holiness, and the production of the same in creatures. “Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” “But ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (Ps. 143:10. 1 Cor. 6:11.) The same may be said of the attribute of immutability: “This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled which the Holy Ghost spake.” (Acts 1:16.) So the Holy Ghost is said to possess the attribute of truth, yea, to be the fountain of truth. “When the Comforter is come, even the Spirit of truth. “The Spirit is Truth.” (John 15:26. 1 John 5:6.) Unspeakable goodness is attributed to the Holy Ghost: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.” (Rom. 5:5; 8:26.) The same is true of displeasure against sin. “They rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit.” “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed.” “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord.” “The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Is. 63:10. Ep. 4:30. Acts 5:9. Matt. 12:31.)
3. The same divine works which are attributed to the Father and the Son are also ascribed to the Holy Ghost: such as the creation, the preservation and government of the whole world. “By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens.” “The Spirit of God hath made me.” (Job 26:13; 33:4.) So miracles are ascribed to the Holy Ghost: “I cast out devils by the Spirit of God.” “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (Matt. 12:28. 1 Cor. 12:4.) The same is true of those works which belong to the salvation of the Church: such as the calling and sending of prophets; “The Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me.” “Separate me Barnabas and Saul.” “Take heed to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.” (Is. 48:6. Acts 13:2; 20:28.) The Holy Ghost confers upon the ministry the gifts which they need for a proper discharge of their duties: “The Holy Ghost shall teach you what ye ought to say.” “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (Luke 12:12. 1 Cor. 12:7.) The Holy Ghost inspired the Prophets and Apostles: “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:21.) The institution of the sacraments is referred to the Holy Ghost: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” “The Holy Ghost this signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as yet,” &c. (Matt. 28:19. Heb. 9:8.) The prediction, or the revealing of things to come, is ascribed to the Holy Ghost: “He will shew you things to come.” “Agabus signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth,” &c. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith,” &c. (John 16:13. Acts 11:28. 1 Tim. 4:1.) The Holy Ghost gathers the Church: “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit:” “By one Spirit are all baptized into one body.” (Eph. 2:22. 1 Cor. 12:13.) The Holy Ghost illuminates the mind: “He shall teach you all things.” “He will guide you into all truth.” “God gave unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” (John 14:26; 16:13. Eph. 1:17.) The Holy Ghost is the author of regeneration and sanctification: “Except a man be born of the water and the Spirit. “We are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (John 3:5. 2 Cor. 3:18.) The Holy Ghost governs and controls the lives and actions of the godly; “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” (Rom. 8:14. Acts 16:6.) It is the Holy Ghost that com forts in times of temptation: “But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost whom,” &c. “The churches were edified; and walking in the comfort of the Holy Ghost were multiplied.” “I will pour upon the house of David the Spirit of grace and supplication.” (John 14:26. Acts 9:31. Zech. 12:10.) The Holy Ghost strengthens and preserves the godly even to the end against the power of temptation: “The Spirit of might shall rest upon him.” “He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” “In whom ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (Is. 11:2. John 14:16. Eph. 1:13.) The Holy Ghost pardons sin, and adopts us in the family of God: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption.” “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” “Ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (Rom. 8:15. 2 Cor. 3:17. 1 Cor. 6:11.) The Holy Ghost bestows life, and eternal salvation: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (John 6:63. Rom. 8:11.) The Holy Ghost also passes judgment upon sin: “When he is come he will reprove the world of sin.” “The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (John 16:8. Matt. 12:31.)
4. The Scriptures ascribe the same and equal honor to the Holy Ghost, which they do to the Father and the Son. But divine honor and worship can be attributed to no one but to God alone. Hence the Holy Ghost must be equal with the other persons of the God-head. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7.) From this it is plainly evident that the Holy Ghost is the same true God with the Father and the Son, as is also proven by the following declaration, “Go, teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;” (Matt. 28:19,) from which we are taught that we are baptized in the name, faith, worship and religion of the Holy Ghost equally with the Father and the Son; and that the Holy Ghost is also the author of baptism and the ministry. So we are also to believe in the Holy Ghost and to put our trust in him: “Let not your heart be troubled:” “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:16.) The sin against the Holy Ghost is not forgiven: therefore sin is committed against him. We are his temples: “Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” (1 Cor. 3:16.) The Apostles in their epistles to the different churches wished them grace and peace from the Holy Ghost: “The communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14.)
Obj. He who receives from another is not equal with him who gives. The Holy Ghost receives from the Father and the Son. Therefore he is not equal with them. Ans. The major proposition is true only in case one receives from another a part, and not the whole, or in case he receives successively which is not true as applied to the Holy Ghost. And as to the second proposition of the above syllogism, that the Holy Ghost received of the Father and the Son his ordination and mission to us, that he might instruct us immediately, it rather establishes his equality inasmuch as teaching in this form is a divine work.
Obj. 2. He that is sent is not equal to him who sends. The Holy Ghost is sent of the Father and the Son. Therefore he is not equal with them. Ans. The first proposition is false, if understood generally; because he that is sent may be equal with him that sends. Christ was sent of the Father, and is nevertheless equal with the Father. It is therefore correctly said by Cyril, “That to be sent, and to yield obedience, do not take away equality.”
IV. That the Holy Ghost is consubstantial, which means that he is one and the same true God with the Father and the Son, is proven; 1. Because he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son—proceeds from both,—and is the Spirit of God, in God, and from God. Therefore he has the same and the entire divide essence which belongs to the Father and the Son, communicated to him, inasmuch as it is impossible to multiply or divine the essence of God, or to create another divine essence. 2. There is but one Jehovah. The Holy Ghost is Jehovah: for the Scriptures apply to him those things which are spoken of Jehovah, as a comparison of the following passages will clearly show: Lev. 16:1, 34; and Heb. 9:7–10. Also Lev. 26:11, 12; and 2 Cor. 6:16. Deut. 9:24, 25; and Is. 63:10, 11. Also Ps. 95:7; and Heb. 3:7. Also Is. 6:9; and Acts 28:5. 3. There is but one true God. The Holy Ghost is the true God, not less than the Father or the Son, because he is Jehovah, and is often called God in an absolute sense, as when it said of Ananias, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:4.) Hence he is consubstantial with the Father and the Son.
Obj. Whosoever is of another, is not consubstantial with him, or is not the same with him from whom he is. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son. Therefore, he is not consubstantial with them. Ans. The major proposition is true when used in reference to creatures. There is, however, an ambiguity in the expression, to be of another. He who is of another in such a sense as not to have the same, nor the whole essence is not consubstantial, which, however, is not true of the Holy Ghost. Hence it merely follows that he is not the same person. By inverting the argument then we may reply: because he is of the Father and the Son, he is at the same time consubstantial.


III. WHAT IS THE OFFICE OF THE HOLY GHOST?

The office of the Holy Ghost is to produce sanctification in the people of God. This he performs immediately from the Father and the Son. It is for this reason that he is called the Spirit of holiness. The office of the Holy Ghost may be said to embrace the following things: to instruct, to regenerate, to unite to Christ and God, to rule, to comfort and strengthen us.
1. The Holy Ghost enlightens and teaches us that we may know those things which we ought, and correctly understand them according to the promise of Christ: “He shall teach you all things.” “He will guide you into all truth.” (John 14:26; 16:13.) It was in this way that he taught the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, who before were ignorant of the doctrine pertaining to the death and kingdom of Christ. He produced new light in their mind, communicated unto them the remarkable knowledge of tongues, and fulfilled the prophecy of Joel. It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit is called in Scripture the teacher of truth, the Spirit of wisdom, revelation, understanding, counsel, knowledge, &c.
2. The Holy Spirit regenerates us, when he creates in our hearts new feelings, desires and inclinations, or effects in us faith and repentance. “Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (John 3:6. Matt. 3:11.) This baptism which Christ performs is regeneration itself—that which was signified by the external baptism of John and other ministers.
3. He unites us to Christ, that we may be his members and be quickened by him, and so be made partakers of all his benefits. “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (Joel 2:28. 1 Cor. 6:11; 12; 13. John 3:24. 1 Cor. 12:3, 4.)
4. He rules us. To be ruled by the Holy Spirit is to be guided and directed by him in all our actions, to be inclined to follow that which is right and good, and to do those things which love to God and our neighbor require, which comprehends all the christian virtues of the first and second table. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “The Apostles began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Rom. 8:14. Acts 2:4.)
5. The Holy Ghost comforts us in our dangers and afflictions. The Apostles at first fled and concealed themselves for fear of the Jews; but when they had received the Holy Ghost, they went forth publicly, and rejoiced when they were called to suffer, on account of their profession of the gospel. “He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:16.)
6. The Holy Ghost strengthens and establishes us when weak and wavering in our faith, and assures us of our salvation, or what is the samething, he continues and preserves in us the benefits of Christ even unto the end. It was in this way that the Apostles, who at first were timid and filled with many doubts, were made bold and courageous, which any one may see who will compare the sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost with the conversation of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus: “We trusted that it had been he, which should have redeemed Israel,” &c. Christ speaks of this when he says: “Your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” “He shall abide with you for ever.” (Luke 24:21. John 16:22; 14:16.) It is for this reason that the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of boldness, and the earnest of our inheritance.
The Scriptures, in view of these different parts of the office of the Holy Ghost, ascribe to him various titles. Thus he is called the Spirit of adoption, because he assures us of the fatherly affection which God cherishes towards us, and testifies to us the free goodness and compassion with which the Father embraces us in his only begotten Son. It is, therefore, through the Spirit that we are led to exclaim, Abba, Father. (Rom. 8:15, 16.) He is called the seal and earnest of our inheritance, because he assures us of our salvation. “Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” “After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” (2 Cor. 1:21. Eph. 1:13, 14.) He is called life, or the Spirit of life; because it is by him that the old man is mortified and the new man quickened. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2.) He is called Water, (Is. 44:3.) because he refreshes us when almost overcame by sin, delivers us from its power and makes us fruitful in works of righteousness. He is likewise called fire; (Matt. 3:11.) because he continually consumes the lusts and evil passions which burn in our hearts, and kindles in us love to God and our neighbor. He is called a fountain of living water; (Rev. 7:17.) because it is from him and through him that all heavenly riches and blessings flow to us. He is called the Spirit of prayer; because he excites us and teaches us how to pray: “I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jesusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication.” “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Zech. 12:10. Rom. 8:26.) He is called the oil of gladness, because he makes us joyful, lively and strong. “Therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7.) He is called the Comforter; because he works faith in us, delivers us from an evil conscience, purifies our hearts, and comforts us in such a manner that we even glory in our afflictions. He is called an advocate or intercessor; because he makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. (Rom. 8:26.) And, lastly, he is called the Spirit of truth, wisdom, understanding, joy, gladness, faith, boldness, grace, &c.
Obj. 1. But those things which have now been specified as being included in the office of the Holy Ghost, belong also to the Father and the Son. Therefore they are not to be ascribed to the Holy Ghost as though they were peculiar to him alone. Ans. They belong to the Father and the Son mediately; but to the Holy Ghost immediately.
Obj. 2. But Saul and Judas did not obtain the inheritance, and yet they had the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Holy Spirit is not the earnest of our inheritance. Ans. They had, indeed, some of the gifts of the Spirit, but not the Spirit of adoption. And if it be still further objected that it is the same Spirit, we reply, true; but then he does not work the same things in all. True, conversion and adoption are wrought in the elect alone. Hence we must now speak of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and of their differences.


IV. WHAT, AND HOW MANI-FOLD ARE THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST

The gifts of the Holy Ghost may be referred to, and comprehended under the different parts of his office already specified. They include the illumination of the mind, the gift of tongues, prophecy, interpretation, miracles, faith, regeneration, prayer, strength, constancy, &c. These gifts are two-fold: such as are common both to the godly and the ungodly; and such as are peculiar to the godly alone. The former are again divided into two classes, the first of which includes those gifts which are given to particular individuals, and at particular times, such as the wonderful power of speaking in different languages, the gift of prophecy, the faith of miracles, &c., which were necessary for the apostles, and the primitive church, when the gospel was first to be preached among the different nations of the earth. These gifts were, therefore, conferred upon them in a miraculous manner. The other class of gifts common both to the godly and the ungodly, include such as are necessary at all times, and for all the members of the church. They are such as the gift of tongues, interpretation, arts, sciences, wisdom, knowledge, eloquence, and others, which pertain to the perpetuation of the ministry. These gifts are now given to all the members of Christ, according to the necessity of their calling, although not in the miraculous manner in which they were given to the apostles, but they are obtained by labor, diligence and study. These gifts, however, which are peculiar to the godly include all those which are comprehended in the idea of sanctification and adoption, such as justifying faith, regeneration, prevailing prayer, love to God and our neighbor, hope, patience, constancy, and other gifts pertaining to our salvation. These are given to the elect alone in their conversion. “Whom the world cannot receive.” “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, and maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (John 14:17. Rom. 8:16 & 26.) It is for this reason that he is called the Spirit of adoption.
Obj. But there have been many out of the church who have had an intimate acquaintance with the sciences, languages, &c. Therefore these ought not to be enumerated among the gifts of the Spirit. Ans. These gifts, although they may be found out of the church, are, nevertheless, the result of the general working of God, which may exist without a correct knowledge of him; but in the church they are acknowledged to be the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because they are regarded as the result of his mighty working.
All these gifts, as has been remarked, may be appropriately referred to the different parts of the office of the Holy Ghost. The knowledge of the languages and sciences may be referred to the office of teaching; whilst the miraculous and wonderful gift of tongues may be comprehended partly in the office of ruling, (for the apostles spake as the Holy Ghost gave them utterance) and partly in that of teaching and establishing. So the gift of prophecy and interpretation belong to the office of teaching; for the Spirit teaches, as well by illuminating the mind internally, as by informing it from without through the word. Faith and conversion have reference to that part of the office of the Holy Ghost, which pertains to our regeneration, and union with Christ. That he is the Spirit of prayer, teaching us how to pray, belongs to his office of guiding and governing us. In the same way all the other gifts of the Spirit may be referred to some particular parts of his office.


V. BY WHOM, AND WHY THE HOLY GHOST WAS GIVEN

The Father gives the Holy Ghost through the Son, as the following declarations of the word of God sufficiently affirm. “Wait for the promise of the Father.” “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” “I will pray the Father and he shall send you another Comforter.” “Whom the Father will send in my name.” (Acts 1:4; 2:17. John 14:16 & 26.) The Son also gives the Holy Ghost; but in this order, that he sends him from the Father, from whom he himself is, and works; in accordance with which it is said: “Whom I will send unto you from the Father.” “If I depart I will send him unto you.” “Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” (John 15:26; 16:7. Acts 2:33.) From this we deduce a strong argument in favor of the Divinity of Christ; for who has any right in the Spirit of God, and who can give the Spirit, but God? The Holy Ghost so far from having been sent by the human nature of Christ formed and sanctified it.
This giving of the Holy Ghost by the Father and the Son, must be understood in such a manner that both work effectually through the Spirit, and that he again exerts his influence by the will of the Father and the Son going before. For the order of working on the part of the different persons of the God-head, which is the same as the order of their existence must be carefully observed. The will of the Father precedes, the will of the Son comes next, and that of the Holy Ghost follows the will of both the Father and the Son, yet not in time, but in order.
The reason on account of which God grants us the Holy Ghost, is to be traced to his good pleasure, called into exercise for the sake of the merit and intercession of his Son: “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” “I will pray the Father, and he shall send you another Comforter.” (Eph. 1:3, 4. John 14:16.) But the Son gives the Holy Spirit unto us, or he is given to us by, and for the sake of the Son, because he has by his merits secured for us the gift of the Holy Ghost, and himself confers him upon us by his intercessions.


VI. TO WHOM, AND TO WHAT EXTENT THE HOLY GHOST IS GIVEN

The Holy Ghost is said to be given to those who receive his gifts and acknowledge him. He is, therefore, given differently according to his various gifts. All those who are members of the church, whether they be true christians or hypocrites, partake of his gifts more or less: but yet in a different manner. For the godly do not only receive those gifts which are common, but those also which are special and pertain to salvation. They have not merely a knowledge of the doctrine of God’s word, but have been regenerated and possess true faith; because the Holy Ghost, besides kindling in them a knowledge of the will and truth of God, also regenerates them, and imparts unto them true faith and conversion. Hence he is given unto them in such a manner that he produces in them his gifts which are unto their salvation, and that they may also be able to know from these gifts that the Spirit dwells in them. Yet he is at the same time given only to such as seek and are willing to receive him; and for this reason increased in those who persevere. Hypocrites, on the other hand, receive nothing more than a mere knowledge of the doctrine of God, and such gifts as are common. “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” (John 14:17.)
From this it appears what the difference is between the knowledge of tongues, sciences and gifts of a similar character conferred upon the heathen and those which are given to the church; for those who among the heathen excelled in the knowledge of tongues, the arts and other useful things, had indeed the gifts of God, but not the Holy Ghost, whom none receive but those who are sanctified by him, and who acknowledge him as the author of all their gifts.


VII. WHEN, AND HOW IS THE HOLY GHOST GIVEN AND RECEIVED?

The Holy Ghost is given, as we have already shown, when he communicates his gifts. And this is done either visibly, which is the case when he imparts his gifts in connection with certain outward signs; or invisibly when these are communicated without these signs.
He has not always been given visibly, but only at particular times, and for certain causes; and that more largely under the New Testament, than formerly under the Old, according to the prophecy of Joel: “In the last days I will pour out of my Spirit.” It was in this way that he was given visibly to the Apostles and others in the primitive church. “And there appeared unto them, cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” “The Holy Ghost fell on all them.” “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.” (Acts 2:3; 10:44. John 1:32.) These passages must be explained in such a manner that the sign takes the name of the thing itself, so that the same thing is affirmed of the thing, which properly belongs to the sign; because the Holy Ghost bears testimony to his presence and power by the sign which is employed. So John saw the Spirit descending upon Christ in a bodily shape like a dove; he saw the form of a dove under which God demonstrated the presence of his Spirit. This, however, must not be understood of any local motion in God, but of his presence and working in the church; for the Holy Ghost is present everywhere, filling heaven and earth. And it is in this sense that the Holy Ghost is given, sent, poured out, &c., when by his effectual presence, he creates, stirs up and gradually perfects his gifts in the members of the church. The Holy Ghost always has been and is given invisibly to the church, from the very beginning even to the end of the world; because he spake through the prophets. “If any now have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. 8:9.) Nay, without the Spirit there never had been, nor could be any church.
The ordinary way in which the Holy Ghost is given is through the ministry of the word, and the use of the sacraments; and that, in the first place, by manifesting himself to us through the study of the doctrine of the gospel, so as to be known by us. It was in this way that he wrought in the hearts of those who were converted under the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost; and also upon Cornelius, and those who were present with him when Peter addressed them. We must not, however, suppose that the Holy Ghost operates in such a manner through the word and sacraments as to be so tied or bound to them as to make it impossible for him to work in any other form; for he does not convert all who hear the gospel, and others again are converted in a different way, as Paul, on his way to Damascus, and John the Baptist was sanctified or furnished with the gifts of the Spirit in his mother’s womb. Hence, when we say that the Holy Ghost is given through the ministry of the word and the use of the sacraments, we speak of adults and of the ordinary way in which he is given, and of the visible sending of the Spirit, of which it is said: “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Gal. 4:6. Rom. 8:9.) He is also given, in the second place, by creating a desire after him in the hearts of the faithful; for he is given to those that ask and seek. (Luke 61:13.) From this we may draw a strong argument in favor of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost; because it is peculiar to God alone to work effectually through the ministry. “Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither is he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” “The gospel is the power of God,” because the Spirit works effectually through it; so the gospel is also called the ministration of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 3:7. Matt. 3:11. Rom. 1:16. 2 Cor. 3:8.)
The Holy Ghost is, moreover, received by faith: “In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” (John 14:17.)
Obj. But faith is the gift and fruit of the Holy Ghost: “For by grace are ye saved, through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (Eph. 2:8. 1 Cor. 12:3.) How then can he be received by faith? Ans. The working of the Holy Ghost is prior to faith in the order of nature: but not in time; because the reception of the Holy Ghost is the first beginning of faith. But after faith is once kindled in the heart, the Holy Ghost is more and more received through it, and so produces other things in us, as it is said: “Faith which worketh by love.” “Purifying their hearts by faith.” (Gal. 5:6. Acts 15:9.


VIII. HOW MAY THE HOLY GHOST BE RETAINED?

The Holy Ghost may be retained very much in the same way, and by the use of the same means, through which he is given and received, among which we may mention the following: 1. A diligent attention to the preached word: “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, &c., for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith.” (Eph. 4:11, 12.) 2. Serious meditation upon the doctrine of the gospel, and an earnest desire of advancing in the knowledge thereof. “In his law doth he meditate day and night; and he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another.” (Ps. 1:2, 3. Col. 3:16.) 3. Constant penitence, and an earnest desire of avoiding those sins which offend the conscience: “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given.” “He that is righteous, let him be righteous.” “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Matt. 13:12. Rev. 22:11. Ep. 4:30.) Under this head, we may refer a desire to avoid all evil communications and occasions to sin; for he that would avoid sin, must also shun every thing that might entice thereto. 4. Constant and earnest prayer: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” “This kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting.” “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” (Luke 11:13. Matt. 17:21. Ps. 51:11.) The christian panoply described by the apostle Paul may be referred to this division. 5. The Holy Ghost may be retained by a proper use of the gifts of God; by devoting them to the glory of God, and the salvation of our neighbor. “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” “Occupy till I come.” “To every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 22:32; 19:13, 26.)


IX. WHETHER, AND HOW THE HOLY GHOST MAY BE LOST

Hypocrites, and reprobate sinners lose the gifts of the Holy Ghost totally and finally, by which we mean that the Spirit at length leaves them so completely that they never recover his gifts, or enjoy any of his precious influences. It is different, however, with those who have been truly regenerated. They may, indeed, lose many of his gifts, but they never lose them totally; for they always retain some, as the example of David fully testifies: “Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation.” “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” (Ps. 51:11, 12.) Nor can they fall away finally, because they are at length led to see and to repent of their sins, and backslidings.
Obj. But the Holy Spirit left Saul who was one of the elect. Therefore he may leave others also. Ans. It was not the Spirit of regeneration and adoption which forsook Saul, but the spirit of prophecy, of wisdom, courage, and other gifts of a similar character with which he was endowed. Neither was he chosen unto eternal life, but merely to be king, as Judas was chosen to the apostleship. It is still further objected: The Spirit of regeneration may also forsake the elect; for David prayed, “Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation.” To this we reply that the godly may, and often do lose many of the gifts of the Spirit of regeneration; but they do not lose them wholly: for it cannot possible be that they should lose every particle of faith, inasmuch as they do not sin unto death; but from the weakness of the flesh, not being perfectly renewed in this life. This the apostle John expressly affirms when he says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9.) David in his fall, lost the joy which he had felt in his soul, the purity of his conscience, and many other gifts which he earnestly prayed might be restored unto him; but he had not wholly lost the Holy Spirit, or else he would not have said, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me,” from which it is plain that he had not wholly lost the Spirit of God. “A man,” said Bernard, “never remains in the same state; he either retrogrades or goes forward.” This distinction must be observed for the purpose of solving the question; how can the godly be certain of their perseverance and salvation, seeing that they may lose the Holy Spirit? which is, that they are never wholly and finally forsaken of the Spirit of God.
There are many ways in which the Holy Ghost may be lost. These are the opposite of those by which he may be retained. 1. He may be lost by a contempt of the ministry of the church. 2. By a neglect of the study of the doctrine of the gospel, and meditation thereon. Paul, therefore, commanded Timothy to stir up the gift of God which was in him, and also gives instruction as to the manner in which he might accomplish this, viz, by giving himself to reading, exhortation and doctrine. 3. By carnal security, by plunging heedlessly into all kinds of wickedness, and by indulging in such sins as wound the conscience. 4. By a neglect of prayer. 5. By abusing the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which is done when they are not used in such a manner as to promote the glory of God, and the salvation of our fellow-men. “He that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken, even that which he hath.” (Mark 4:25.)


X. WHY THE HOLY GHOST IS NECESSARY

The passages of Scripture here cited plainly teach why, and for what reasons the Holy Ghost is necessary: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (John 3:5. 1 Cor. 15:50. 2 Cor. 3:5. Rom. 8:9.) Hence we may thus conclude: He is necessary for our salvation, without whom we cannot think, much less do any thing that is good, and without whom we cannot be regenerated, know God, obey him, or obtain the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. But these things cannot be accomplished in us on account of our blindness, and the corruption of our nature, except by the Holy Ghost. Therefore the Holy Ghost is necessary for our salvation.


XI. HOW WE MAY KNOW THAT THE HOLY GHOST DWELLS IN US

We may know if the Spirit of God dwells in us by his effects, or gifts, which include a correct knowledge of God, regeneration, faith, peace of conscience, and the beginning of new obedience to God. “Being-justified by faith we have peace with God.” “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:1, 5.) We may also know if the Holy Ghost dwells in us, by the testimony which ne bears with our spirit that we are the children of God. So also comfort in the midst of death, joy in afflictions, a firm purpose to persevere in faith, unutterable groans and fervent prayers, together with a sincere profession of Christianity, are most certain evidences and indices of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor. 12:3.) In a word, we may know whether the Holy Ghost dwells in us, by our faith and repentance.


Ursinus, Z., & Williard, G. W. (1888). The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism (pp. 270–285). Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company.