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posed the work of the divine ical experiences of real saints, Spirit, and compelled the follow- Those, who were once enlighters of Jesus to blaspheme, would ened. It is conceived, that beevidently have committed the ing enlightened, in the sense sin unto death, if, instead of ve- here intended, is never true of grily thinking he ought to do ma- men, who are not sanctified in ny things contrary to the name heart. The term here used is of Jesus of Nazareth, he had the same, in the Greek (Phodone the same against the con- tisthentes ) which, in Heb. X. 32. victions of his own conscience ; is rendered illuminated. But believing Jesus to be the Messi- call to remembrance the former ah, and his kingdom to be pro- days, in which, after that ye moted, by the special agency of were illuminated, &c. I conthe Holy Ghost. He says, clude it will not be doubted, but therefore, But I obtained mercy, this must be understood of that because I did it ignorantly, in un spiritual and saving illumination, belief:
-It is doubtless true, that which is peculiar to such, as are men may apostatize from a visi- sanctified. The apostle speaksy ble profession of Christianity, accordingly, of their knowing, and even an appearance of strong on this ground, that they have in attachment to Jesus Christ ; | heaven, a better and more enand eventually commit the un- during substance. pardonable sin. This would be When men are spoken of, as the case with real saints, should subjects of spiritual light, it they apostatize, SO as to re- seems always designed to denote
their Christian pro- what is exclusively true of befession, tread under foot the Son lievers. Hence said Paul to the of God, and do despite unto the Eph. v. 3. For ye were somespirit of grace. But as the pas- times darkness, but now are ye tage before us intimates nothing light in the Lord. They are of the latter, which is implied in said, accordingly, to be all chitthe express utterance of blas- dren of the light and of the day. phemy against the Holy Ghost, They are farther said to walk in it seems natural to conclude, the light ;-to believe in the light; thai this cannot be fairly under- and to have the light of life. stood of the falling away here Agreeing with all this, the grace intended. This construction imparted to the elect, in their would involve the necessity of renovation and sanctification, is admitting a sentiment, which is thus represented 2 Cor. iv. 6. wholly repugnant to the scrip- God, who commanded the light tures, viz. that there are more to shine out of darkness, hath specific crimes than one, which shined into our hearts, to give are unpardonable sins.
the light of the knowledge of his A more particular exarnina- glory, in the face of Jesus tion of the words in question Christ. will now be attempted; and such It is important to consider, arguments be adduced, as are that its being customary with us, thought conclusive, that the sev- to speak of men, as enlightened, eral terms made use of by the and its being true that they are, apostle, are intended to denote in the sense we intend, is no rule the distinguishing and evangel- for deciding what the Holy Spir
it intends when speaking in the is said to have given himself for same language. The holy scrip- us, that he might redeem us tures speak of the unsanctified, from all iniquity. As the heavas hating the light ; as walking enly gift cannot be understood in darkness ; and as having their to mean the Holy Spirit, who is understandings darkened, through particularly mentioned, in the the ignorance, which is in them, clause immediately following, it because of the blindness of their must be understood, primarily, hearts. Accordingly, coming of Christ, including in a general to the knowledge of the truth, and extensive view, all the blesas it is in Jesus, is represented sings of the new covenant. This by being delivered from the construction is admitted by some, power of darkness, and transla- if not all of those, who contend ted out of darkness into marvel that the passage, taken togethlous light.
er, must be explained in appliI have been able to find nocation to the graceless and unscripture examples, in which holy. That which is here. men are spoken of, as enlight- meant, must be a spiritual tastened, to denote any thing short ing, for the good tasted is spiritof a saving and holy illumina- ual and holy. It is therefore, a tion; unless it be John i. 9. branch of the similitude, by where Christ is said to be the which believers to denote their true light, which lighteth every participation of Christ, and the man, that cometh into the world. spiritual benefits of his mediatoBut this is naturally and doubt- rial.work, are said to eat his less very correctly explained, by flesh, and drink his blood, and the sayings of Christ, I am the without this, to have no life in light of the world ; and I am them. Spiritual tasting, eating come a light into the world, that and drinking, are doubtless exwhosoever believeth on me, should ercises of the spiritual man. not abide in darkness. But this From the obvious meaning of implies, that men abide in dark- the terms, as used in the foregoness, and therefore, are not en- ing examples, they are evidently lightened, till they believe in things, of which men are incapahim. What is said then of his ble, till they are made spiritualJighting every man, may not be ly alive. Hence it is said, 1 taken to mean, that men are Peter ii. 3, to denote the unever enlightened by Christ, in ion of believers to Christ, and any sense, which is recognized their participation in all his spirby the scriptures of truth, till itual and saving benefits, If so be they receive him by a living ye have tasted, that the Lord is faith, as the light of the world, gracious : to whom coming, as and thence become children of unto a living stone. To you, therethe light.
fore, who believe, he is precious. And have tasted the heavenly His being precious to believers gift. This must intend some- implies, that they have a spiritthing, which is given to men ual discerning of his infinite beaufrom heaven. It must, there-ty, and an answerable relish for fore, mean Jesus Christ, whom it. All this implies spiritual God gave, to be the propitiation life, or holy love. If the heavfor the sins of the world. Christ enly gift be extended, which is
evidently warranted by the scrip-nearly resemble Christian extures, so as to include all the periences, except such comforts, grace which is imparted to believ-as result from a false, and ers through him, the foregoing groundless hope, which must, construction will be further one day, make ashamed. strengthened, and the sentiment And have been made partakers confirme that tasting the heav- of the holy Ghost. Believers are enly gift must be taken to denote said to be made partakers of the spiritual and holy attain-Christ. But can this mean any ments of real saints. With this thing short of receiving him, so agrees the divine declaration, as to be the subjects of a vital that the gift of God is eternal union to him, and thence made life, through Jesus Christ our partakers of his holy nature, his Lord. If eternal life be taken, divine righteousness, all the prein one view of it, to mean the cious fruits of his atonement? heavenly gift, the same conse. The answer must be, No. But quence will follow, as evidence, what good reason can be assignthat the whole must be applied, ed, why being made partakers exclusively, to believers. If men of the holy Ghost should be rehave once tasted the gift of stricted to mean so much less, eternal life, which can consist than is evidently implied in paronly with a vital union to the taking of Christ ? Men are not Saviour, they have doubtless properly said to be partakers of been made alive unto God any thing, when nothing is imthrough him.
parted, of which they are the reSome hold that the heavenly ceivers and possessors. When gift is used, to denote the satis- they are said to be made parta, faction and joy, which men may kers of the divine nature, having experience, under given circum- escaped the corruption that is in stances, while selfish and unho- the world through lust, we are ly; and that the character and doubtless to understand their experiences of such persons are participation of the divine holiillustrated, in the parable of the ness, or the moral image of God. sower; by what is said of those, The apostle speaks accordingly who hear the word, and anon to the Hebrews, of being chaswith joy receive it, but in time tened by the Father of spirits, of temptation fall away. Is it, for their profit, that they might however, agreeable to the scrip- be partakers of his holiness.tures, and to sound reason, that For men, therefore, to be called the divine Spirit should have rep- partakers of the holy Ghost, mereresented those false, unholy and ly on account of his ordinary, or delusive joys, which the unre- more awakening and convincing newed may experience, by the operations, when nothing is imsimilitude of tasting the heavenly parted, of which they are the progift, when this must evidently be per recipients and subjects, construed to mean eternal life, would not be comparing spiritual as the object, and Jesus Christ, things with spiritual. So far as the divine mediator, through from this, it would be speaking which it is tasted ? Such expe- in the words, and annexing to rience nothing, in those attain the scriptures a meaning which ments and joys, which most man's wisdom deviseth. We may not limit being made partak- of God, and the powers of the ers of the Holy Ghost, to im- world to come. After what has port any thing short of the ef- been said of tasting the heavenly fects wrought by his renewing gift, it is thought unnecessary to influences, unless it appear from enlarge on this part of the subthe sense in which the terms are ject. Though powers of the used in the holy scriptures, that world to come is a phrase which nothing more can be fairly un- has no exact parallel, in the word derstood. But let the point in of God, it is apprehended, that the question be tried by this rule, terms must be understood, genand it will be decided at once, erally, to denote those invisiblo that the clause here considered realities which are objects of the must denote a participation of Christian faith, and which opethe Holy Ghost, as the divine rate with strong, and often with Sanctifier and Comforter, who the most delightful effect, on the is promised to believers, that he minds of believers. Tasting the shall take up his abode with them powers of the world to come may, forever.
therefore, with great propriety, Some have supposed, that be- be understood, as expressing that ing made partakers of the Holy foretaste, which the saints now Ghost might intend, being en- have of their future inheritance dued by his agency with the in heaven. The apostle to the gift of prophecy, and of working Eph. i. 13, 14, says, After that miracles. Whether this may ye believed, ye were scaled by that consist with an unregenerate Holy Spirit of promise, which is heart or not, there seems to be the earnest of our inheritance, unnothing in the word of God, to til the redemption of the purchased
rrant such a construction, in possession. To the Cor. 1 epistle, the present case.
It is farther v.5. Now he who hath wrought said, that men who are not sanc- us to the self same thing is God ; tified in heart, are sometimes who also hath given unto us the partakers of the Holy Ghost, in earnest of the Spirit. By means such degrees of his common op- of this earnest, in which they erations, as to be greatly awa- had a foretaste of the heavenly kened and alarmed, in a view of inheritance, they knew, as ver. 1. their sin and misery. Let this that, If their earthly house of this be granted, which is doubtless tabernacle were dissolved, they had true, it does not necessarily fol- a building of God, an house not low, that those, who fall away, made with hands, eternal in the from any thing implied in such heavens. experience, must unavoidably Tasting the good word of God commit the unpardonable sin. must imply something more than Indeed, we have all the evidence, is consistent with hating the which the nature of the subject truth, and loving darkness rather admits, that such persons are, than light. Yea, it must imply sometimes, brought to saving re- a spiritual discerning of the mopentance, after resisting the Ho- ral beauty of divine truth, and of ly Spirit, stifling their convic-divine objects, exhibited by the tions, and remaining awhile light of it. The things tasted, if plunged in security and guilt. there be any propriety in the
And have tasted the good word | terms used, must be the good.
ness and divine beauty, which are newing of the Holy Ghost ; which seen and relished, in the word of he shed on us abundantly through God. Agreeing with this, said Jesus Christ. It hence appears, the Psalmist, I rejoice at thy that what is said of their being word, as one that findeth great renewed, must respect their havspoil. This language is, at times, ing been made partakers of the adopted by all true believers, Holy Ghost. But if they had while contemplating the ineffable not been once renewed in this glories of the gospel. After all, sort unto repentance, there could can it be consistent with sound be neither sense nor propriety, reason, and the things which the in mentioning the impossibility Holy Ghost teacheth, to admit, of renewing them again, to that that tasting the good word of end. Nor does it obviate the God, can mean nothing more force of this argument at all, to than those unholy joys, which say, that their antecedent restony ground hearers experience pentance might have been selfin a mistaken view and applica- ish and unholy. This is absurd, tion of the truth, and while cher- not only on the ground, that ishing an hope, which must per- they might have had this repenish?
tance, without being once renewOne argument still remains, ed, but this they might have In support of the foregoing inter-again, though they should repretation, which, it is hoped, will main unrenewed; yea doubtless be considered with candor, and would, with eyes lifted up in torallowed its full weight. This is ments. Indeed, this is a species derived from the phrase, to re- of repentance, which needeth to 11ew them again (palin) unto re- be repented of, and is, in its napentance. This clearly, and by ture, opposed to that which is fair construction, implies, that unto life. If, therefore, the rethey had been true penitents.pentance, to which it is impossiTheirs was a repentance, to ble to renew men again, be that which they had been once renew-which is evangelical and saving, ed. There would otherwise, be doubtless that is of the same nano propriety in the mention of ture to which they had been once renewing them again. Being renewed, antecedent to their fallrenewed, in a moral and scriptu- / ing away. To speak of renewral application to men, always ing them again unto repentance, intends their spiritual renova- intending that which is unto life, tion---that renewing of the in- would be very absurd, if that, of ward man, which always lays a which they had once been subfoundation for the exercise of jects, were merely selfish, proholy love, and for that evangeli- ceeding from that sorrow of the cal and holy repentance, which world, which worketh death. is unto salvation. Hence the It is apprehended that this arapostle speaks to the Col. iii. 9, gument derives some additional 10, of putting on the new man, weight, from a natural interprewhich is renewed in knowledge, af- tation of what immediately folter the image of Him that created lows, as a reason why it is imhim. Tit. iii. 5, 6. According possible to renew them again to his mercy he saved us, by the unto repentance; seeing they cruwashing of regeneration, and re-Icify to themselves the Son of God