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possessing the properties, and performing the acts, of a
person. " Contrivance, if established," says an eminent
writer on this subject, " appears to me to prove every
thing which we wish to prove. Among otlier things, it
proves the personality of the Deity, as distinguished from
what is sometimes called nature, sometimes a principle :
which terms, in the mouths of those who use them philo-
sophically, seem to be intended to admit and to ex-
press an efficacy, but to exclude and to deny a personal
agent. Now that which can contrive, which can
design, must be a person. These capacities consti-
tute personality ; for they imply consciousness, and
thought. They require that which can perceive an end,
or purpose, as well as tlie power of providing means, and
of directing them to their end. They require a centre in
which perceptions unite, and from which volitions flow :
which is mind. The acts of a mind prove the existence
of a mind : and in whatever a mind resides, is a person."^

* Paley's Natural Theology, chap, xxiii. at the beginning.


It is a fact beyond all coiitioveisy, that in the Scrip
tures all the variety of personal properties and personal
acts, on which sucli an inference can be founded, are as-
cribed to the Holy Spirit : —

Let me, first of all, then, direct your attention to a few
out of the many passages that might be adduced on this

i.— John xiv. 16, 26. xv. 26. xvi. 7—14. ^* And 1
will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Com-
forter, that he may abide with you forever :'' — ^' But the
Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send
in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all
things to your remembrance, Avhatsoever I have said unto
you :" — ^* But when the Comforter is come whom I will
send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth
whicli proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of
me :" — *• Nevertheless, I tell you the truth : it is expe-
dient for you that I go away ; for if I go not away, the
Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will
send him unto you. And when he is come, he will con-
vince the world, of sin, and of righteousness, and of judg-
ment :" — " When he, tlie Spirit of truth is come, he will
guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak of himself:
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak : and he
will show you things to come. He shall glorify me ; for
he shall receive of mine, and shall sliow it unto you."

In these passages, observe in the first place, the Holy
Spirit is distinctly spoken of as coming, testifying, receiv-
ing, shoicing, teaching, hearing, speaking ; all of which
evidently imply personal agency. — ^hj. In connexion
with this, observe the appellation by which he is denomi-
nated, — ''the Comforter,-' — or, as it is rendered by some,
the advocate : — and not only so, but, as distinguished from
the speaker, Jesus Christ, himself a person, — '' anothev
Comforter/^ — 'idly, Notice also the remarkable use, in


different instances, of the masculine personal pronoun : —
" The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, which the Fatlier will
send in my name, he^ shall teach you all things :" — '^ But
when the Comforter is come, ivliom I will send unto you
from the Father, even the Spirit of truth whieli proceedeth
from the Father, lie* shall testify of me :" — '• If I go not
away, the Comforter will not come unto you ; hut if I de-
part, I will send him\ unto you. And when he* is come,
he will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness,
and of judgment :" — " when he,* the Spirit of truth, is
come, he will guide you into all truth ; for he shall not
speak of (or from) himself ;^^ — " he* shall glorify me ;
for he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you."

These are all as clear indications of personality, as lan-
guage could afford.

2. — Acts xiii. 3, 4. ^^ As they ministered to tlie Lord,

and fasted, the Hohj Spirit said, Separate me fto me, or

for mej Barnabas and Saul, for tlie work whereunto I

have called themJ'^ — ^< So they, being sent forth by the

Holy Spirit, departed unto Seleucia."

Surely no words could convey the idea of personality
more clearly and explicitly than these. — The Holy Spirit
calls Barnabas and Saul to a particular Avork ; and com-
mands others to set them apart to that work. They are,
accordingly^ set apart for him ; and they are then sent
forth by him.

3. — Acts XV. 28. ^^For it seemed good to the Holy
Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than
these necessary things.

In these words, the Holy Spirit must mean, cither a
person, or that Divine influence which was imparted to
the household of Cornelius, when Peter preached to them,
and "opened the door of fiiith to the Gentiles.'^ To



speak of any tliiii^; seeming good to that influence itself , U
a great deal more than unnatural : — it is nonsense. The
influence was only the indication of the good pleasure of
him whose influence it was. His gifts were the intima-
tion of his icill : — and it was in this view tliat the apostles
considered them, when, inferring the mind of the Spirit
from the interposition of his miraculous energy, they said,
^' It seemed good to the Holy Ghost.''

4. — Acts xvi. 6, 7« " Now, when they liad gone through-
out Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, and were forbid-
den of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia ; After
tliey were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithy-
nia ; but the Sjnrit suffered them not.''

Hei-e the Holy Spirit appears prohibiting and prevent-
ing ; directing these missionaries in their course, accord-
ing to his pleasure, and in opposition to their own previ-
ous intentions.

5. — Acts xxi. H. '^ And when he (Agabus) was come
unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own liands
and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost ^ so shall
the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this gir-
dle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."
— Acts xxviii. 25. "And when tliey agreed not among
themselves, they departed, after that Paul liad spoken one
Avord, Welt spake the Holy Ghost, by Esaias the prophet,
unto our fathers,'' — &c. — Luke ii. 2(5. " And it was re-
vealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see
death before he had seen the Lord's Christ :" — Acts xx.
33. " Save that the Holy Spirit witnesseth in every city,
saying that bonds and afflictions abide me :" — 1 Tim. iv.
1. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter
times some shall depart from- the faith :" — Heb. ix. 8.
"' The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the
holiest of all was not yet made manifest :" — Heb. iii. 7-
"Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith. To-day, if yo will


hear his voice, harden not your hearts :" — Rev. ii. 7.
^' He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Sjnrit saith
unto the churches.''

In these, and many other passages, the Holy Spirit is
described as sayings speaking, witnessing, signifying, in-
timating his mind and will. — I need not repeat that such
language evidently proceeds on the supposition of person-
ality : and the utmost violence is requisite, to interpret it
on any other principle.

6. — 1 Cor. xii. 11. ^^But all these worketh that one
and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally
as he will.''

This, in the connexion in which it stands, is a strik-
ingly conclusive passage. — The Holy Spirit is represent-
ed as possessing will; and as distributing the various
miraculous gifts, as that sovereign will directed. The
possession oficill necessarily implies personality: — and
the sovereign manner in which that will operates, in the
distribution of supernatural powers, clearly shows it to be
nothing less than a Divine will.

These passages of Scripture, then, which are only a
specimen of many more that might be mentioned, repre-
sent the Holy Spirit as willing, hearing, speaking, acting,
commanding, forbidding, approving, bearing witness, re-
ceiving and executing a commission. — That these are all
personal acts, — acts of an intelligent agent, — can admit
of no dispute. The inference, therefore, is, that the Spirit,
— the Holy Spirit, — the Spirit of God, respecting which
this is the current language of the Scriptures, must be such
an agent.

To objections I shall come by and by. — But the argu-
ment on this branch of the subject is not closed. An ad-
ditional, and most satisfactory proof of personality, arises
from his being represented as the object of the dispositions
and acts of others ; of such dispositions and acts as can-


not be supposed to terminate on what is a mere attribntCj
or power, or inllnence : but only on a person, or intelli-
gent agent.

1. — Matth. xii. 31, S2. '' Wherefore I say unto you,
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto
men : but tlie blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall
not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever shall speak a
word against t!ie Son of Man it shall be forgiven him ;
but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall
not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world
to come."

In these words, the Holy Spirit is the object of a par-
ticular sin ; — the sin of blasphemy. — By " Beelzebub the
prince of the devils," the Pharisees, it is very obvious,
mca.nt a person ; and they expressed themselves accord-
ingly. To this wicked, malignant agent, Jesus, in his
answer, opposes the Spirit of God. And without at all
entering into any discussion respecting the precise nature
of the sin against the Holy Ghost, which would be foreign
to my present design, it is sufficient to observe, that he is
evidently distinguished here from the Son of Man, just as
we are accustomed to distinguish one person from another.
— ^^ They are both spoken of, witli respect unto the same
things, in the same manner ; and the things mentioned are
spoken concerning them universally in the same sense. If
the Holy Ghost were only the virtue and power of God,
then jnesent with Jesus Christ in all that he did, Christ
and that power could not be distinctly spoken against ;
for they were but one and the same.'**

2. — Acts V. 3, 4. " But Peter said, Ananias, why hath
Satan fdled thine heart, to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to
keep back part of the price of the land ? — Why liast thou
conceived this thing in thy heart? Thou hast not lied
unto men but unto God :*' — and verse 9th — '• Then Peter
* Owen on the Spirit, vol. i. p. 155.


said unto her, How is it that ye have agi'eed together to
tempt the Spirit of the Lord ?"

I quote this passage at present, not in direct evidence
of the Divinity of the Spirit, (in tliis view I may have oc-
casion to notice it afterwards) but simply of his Person-
ality. — He is, in these verses, represented as lied unto,
and as tempted, or tried. But how can any one be lied
unto, but one who is capable of hearing and receiving a
testimony, and of discerning its truth or falsehood ? Or how
can any one be tempted or tried, but one who is possessed
of understanding and will ? — We are said to tempt God,
when we impiously make trial of his faithfulness, or poAV-
er, or justice. Ananias and Sapphira tempted the Spirit
of the Lord, by their foolishly and wickedly presuming,
that they might escape detection, or escape punishment :
— neither of which could possibly take place, except
through a defect of knowledge, or a defect of holiness.

3. — Eph. iv. 30. " And grieve not the Holy Spirit of
Grod, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Can any thing be the subject of the passion of grief, or
can any thing, unless in the boldest flights of poetry, be
so represented, that is not a person, possessed of under-
standing and consciousness ? — To say that ^* Grieve not
the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed," means,
'^ Offend not God, by whose holy spirit ye are sealed,"*
is a commentary : — and a commentary, it is worth notic-
ing, which is so far distinctly in our favour ; for it pro-
ceeds upon the admission (if it does not, why was it intro-
duced at all?) that (f the Holy Spirit were really repre-
sented, in the verse, as grieved, or offended, by tliose parts
of temper and conduct that are enumerated, it icoiild fol-
low, that this Spirit must be acknowledged to be a person.
Indeed, to suppose the apostle to speak of grieving an in-
fluence, or energy, or emanation of power, would be worse
than ridiculous.

* Improved Version, Note on the Text.


4. — Acts vii. 51. " Yc stiff-necked, and uncircumcised
in heart and ears, ye do always resist tlie Holy Ghost :
as your fathers did, so do ye."

This is a passai;e of a similar kind to the last. The
Holy Spirit is here represented as the object of resistance
— one whose testimony, and whose will and authority
were scorned and violently striven against.

Surely, then, that must be a person, possessing intelli-
gence and w ill, and the other properties which constitute
personality, which is thus represented as blasphemed and
spoken against, as lied unto, tempted, grieved, and re-

Let me now shortly consider the great general objec-
tion which is urged against this reasoning. Such lan-
guage, it is alleged, in which the Holy Spirit is describ-
ed, directly or indirectly, as possessing personal proper-
ties, and performing personal acts, is Qiii'ivGly Jigiirafive.
It belongs to the species of figure called personification ;
in w hich, as well as in all the variety of tropes and met-
aphors, the Eastern style peculiarly abounds.

It would be both uncandid and foolish, to attempt evad-
ing the force of this objection, by denying the existence,
or even by questioning the frequency, of this figure of
speech ; according to which personal characters are as-
cribed to powers and attributes, as well as to other ob-
jects, which are universally known to possess no distinct
personality, no conscious existence. Instances of this
will immediately recur to the remembrance of all who are,
in any degree, familiar with tiie sacred volume. Wis-
dom, Righteousness, Charity, Sin, Death, the Grave,
Famine, Pestilence, the Sun, and other objects, arc thus
personified ; that is, are represented as thinking, feeling,
and acting, as if they were real persons. But who, in
such cases, except the most stupid and ignorant, (if, in-
deed, even these) is ever in danger of being misled ? —


Language of this kind occurs chiefly in poetry, or in such
composition as admits, with propriety, the aid of poetical
embellishment ; and it is interpreted according to the li-
cence of poetical or rhetorical diction. If it were only in
such composition as this, that the ascription of personal
properties and acts to the Holy Spirit was to be found,
there would, in that case, be ground for the objection
against our inference : nay, if in plainer composition it
were uniformly otherwise, I should be disposed to admit
the force of the objection, even to the entire overthrow of
the inference. But the fact, as we have already seen, is
far diflPerent. The ascription of personal characters and
operations, to the Spirit of God, is to be found, not in the
language of poetry and impassioned eloquence merely, but
in the plainest prose ; in the language of historical narra-
tion ; of simple, familiar instruction ; and even of prom-
ises, grants, and laws, in which precision is the first and
most essential requisite. What, then, are we to make of
a book, which, on the principle of the objection in ques-
tion, requires, for its just explanation, that laws, and
grants, and promises, and that the various descriptions of
historical and didactic composition, be interpreted accord-
ing to the same canons as are applied to the language of
poetry and eloquence ? This is, surely, most unreasona-
ble. It tends to involve the contents of revelation in in-
extricable perplexity. — Any plain reader of the Bible,
possessing an ordinary measure of understanding, (and
we should never allow ourselves to forget, that for such,
as well as for the learned, the Bible was designed) would
certainly be led to conclude, that the Spirit, the Holy
Spirit, the Spirit of God, which he finds so often intro-
duced, is a person, an intelligent agent, a conscious and
active subsistence.

We ought also to recollect, that while, witli regard to
the Holy Spirit, the ordinary current plu'ascology of the


Scriptures is framed on tlie supposition of his Personality ;
— this is not the case respecting any thing else which, al-
though occasionally personified, is not a person. In other
cases, the language of personification is tlie exception to
the general phraseology. But in this case, it is quite the
reverse : — any expressions that seem inconsistent ^ithtlie
idea of personality form the exception ; the general com-
plexion of the language being all in its favour.

Nothing can be more unreasonable, than to insist, be-
cause similar or even the same things that are ascribed to
the Holy Spirit are also ascribed to other objects, in cases
where the figure is perfectly and incontrovertibly obvious,
antl where there does not exist the slightest possibility of
any person being misled by it ; that therefore the ascrip-
tion of these things to the Holy Spirit must be figurative
also. When, for example, we have show n that the Holy
Spirit is described as possessing will ; mc are immediate-
ly reminded that so is the wind — " the wind bloweth
where it listeth." When we speak of liim as a witness
bearing testimony ; a stone, we are instantly told, and a
heai) of stones, are represented as witnesses ; and heaven
and earth are called to witness. When we refer to pas-
sages in which he appears as sjieaking ; the Scriptures,
it is o])jected, are also said to speak : — as teachin^^ ; na-
ture, too, is represented as teaching. And so on, in a
great variety of similar instances. Such a principle as
this is utterly inconsistent with all the established rules of
sound philosophical criticism. If it were ever to be ad-
mitted as just, we should, I apprehend, find ourselves
greatly at a loss to prove ihe personality of the Deity at
all. For there is no one of those properties by which
personality is usually thought to be ascertained, either as-
cribed to him in the Scriptures, or from his works discov-
ered to belong to him, which is nut at times figuratively
attributed to creatures that are destitute of il.


But are there not, it will be asked, some things said of
the Holy Spirit, which cannot in their literal acceptation,
be aflirmed respecting a person? — Beyond all question
there are. The Holy Spirit is said to be poured out, to
be shed forth, and to fall upon men : — persons are also
said to be anointed with the Spirit, and bajftized with the

The following remarks on this point I submit to the
candid consideration of my hearers : —

ist, There is, in such expressions, in which sense so-
ever we understand them, a figure at any rate. — A person,
it is very true, cannot literally be poured out. But neither
can a power, or virtue, or influence. All that can be i)re-
tended is, tliat the figure in the latter case is not so violent
as in the former : — a figure there certainly is in both.
The existence, then, of a figure must be admitted by all

2dly, Our opponents say, that the phrase the Spirit of
God sometimes signifies God himself although they affirm,
at the same time, that its more general meaning is the
Divine power or influence. May not we, then, be permit-
ted to say, without being censured as very unreasonable,
that the same phrase, while it generally means the Spirit
personally, is sometimes to be understood of his various
influences ?

Sdly, Such a figure of speech, in which the person is
put for his character, his qualities, his influence, his doc-
trine, is by no means uncommon j and is used in cases
where no dispute about personality at all exists. — Thus,
in the following examples : — " x\s ye have, therefore, re-
ceived Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him : rooted
and built up in him .•" — '^* Know ye not your ownselves,
how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?''
— " My little children, of whom I travail in birtli again,
until Christ be formed in you .•-'— '^ As many of you


as have been baptized into Jesus Christ, have put on
Christ.''^ Many others might be added ; hut these may
suffice. The question, then, is — Is there, on the suppo-
sition of the Holy Spirit's Personality, any thing more
unnatural or harsh, in the phrases in question, of iiis being
poured out, shed forth, of his falling upon men, and of
persons being anointed and baptized with the Spirit, than
there is in these other phrases which have just been quoted,
in which believers are said to icalk in Jes'us Christ, to be
rooted in him; to have Christ in them, and formed in
them; and to put on Christ, or clothe themselves with
him ? Every one perceives at once that, in such expres-
sions, Jesus Christ is not, and cannot be, meant person-
ally. Yet whoever thinks of arguing against his Person-
ality, because such things cannot be literally said respect-
ing a person ? I imagine that in fact as little difficulty has
been experienced, by simple, unsophisticated readers of
the Bible, in the interpretation of the phraseology relative
to the Holy Spirit. — Indeed, even in the language of or-
dinary life, the figure on which such phrases are founded
is not uncommon. Thus we are accustomed to say of a
son, that he has a great deal of his father in him, when
we mean of his father's dispositions : — of a benevolent
man, that he has miich of Howard in him, when we mean
of Howard's humanity : — and so in many other instances.
If, then, in such expressions, a figure must be admitted
at any rate, whether the Holy Sjiirit be a person, or merely
a Divine energy : — if our opponents themselves are con-
strained to understand the same phrase in diiferent ac-
ceptations ; — and if it is not unnatural, as from parallel
instances Ave have seen, to put liie person for his power
or influence, or operation : — 1 have only to request, that
taking these observations along with you, you will can-

* Col. ii. 0, 7. 2 Cor. xiii. 0. Gal. iv. 19. iii. 27.


didly weigh such expressions as those we have been con-
sidering, against the multitude of passages in which per-
sonality is so plainly attributed to the Spirit of God ; and
judge for yourselves, on which side lies the superior force
of the argument, and magnitude of the difficulty. — For my
own part, I feel no hesitation : and if any of you feel other-
wise, I trust that any remaining doubt will be fully re-
moved, by what remains to be laid before you, in evidence
of the Spirit's Divinity.

To the passages on this branch of my subject I shall
refer with great brevity : — because, if the Personality of
the Spirit be once admitted, his Divinity can hardly be
questioned. It must have occurred to all of you, that the
acts and operations ascribed, in many of the passages
Avhich have been quoted, to the Spirit of God, possess the
clear and decided characters of Divinity. The only ques-
tion is, whether they are ascribed to the Spirit 'personally.
If this question be considered as satisfactorily settled in
the affirmative, it will immediately follow, that the Spirit
IS God.

There are, however, some further evidences of his Di-
vinity which are of a still more direct nature.-— To a few
of these let me now request your attention.

1.— Acts V. 3, 4. "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath
Satan filled Jliy heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to
keep back part of the price of the land ? - Why hast tliou
conceived this tiling in thy heart? Thou hast not lied
unto men, but unto God."

•Lying to the Holy Ghost is, in these verses, the same
as lying unto God.— To say that it means lying to inspir-
ed men, does not affect the conclusion. For by whom
were these men inspired ?— They were "holy men of God,
who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.''
Ananias and Sapphira lied, not to the supernatural influ-
ence which Peter possessed ; But to the Divine Author of

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