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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Continual Inspiration

The apostles could not have any true and real knowledge of the spiritual blessings of Christ’s redemption, or a divine call, or fitness to preach until the Holy Spirit opened their hearts and minds to the mysteries of a redeeming Savior. William Law writes concerning this:

The necessity of a continual inspiration of the Spirit of God, both to begin the first, and continue every step of a divine life in man, is a truth to which every life in nature, as well as all scripture, bears full witness. A natural life, a bestial life, a diabolical life, can subsist no longer, than whilst they are immediately and continually under the working power of that root or source, from which they sprung. Thus it is with the divine life in man, it can never be in him, but as a growth of life in and from God. Hence it is, that resisting the Spirit, quenching the Spirit, grieving the Spirit, is that alone which gives birth and growth to every evil that reigns in the world, and leaves men, and churches, not only an easy, but a necessary prey to the devil, the world, and the flesh. And nothing but obedience to the Spirit, trusting to the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, praying with and for its continual inspiration, can possibly keep either men, or churches, from being sinners,or idolators, in all that they do. For everything in the life, or religion of man, that has not the Spirit of God for its mover, director, and end, be it what it will, is but earthly, sensual, or devilish. The truth and perfection of the gospel state could not show itself, till it became solely a ministration of the Spirit, or a kingdom in which the Holy Spirit of God had the doing of all that was done in it. The apostles, whilst Christ was with them in the flesh, were instructed in heavenly truths from his mouth, and enabled to work miracles in his Name, yet not qualified to know and teach the mysteries of his kingdom. After his resurrection, he conversed with them forty days, speaking to them of things pertaining to the kingdom of God; nay though he breathed on them, and said, “receive ye the Holy Ghost,” &c., yet this also would not do, they were still unable to preach, or bear witness to the truth, as it is in Jesus. And the reason is, there was still a higher dispensation to come, which stood in such an opening of the divine life in their hearts, as could not be effected from an outward instruction of Christ himself. For though he had sufficiently told his disciples the necessity of being born again of the Spirit, yet he left them unborn of it, till he came again in the power of the Spirit. He breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” yet that which was said and done was not the thing itself, but only a type or outward signification of what they should receive, when he, being glorified, should come again in the fullness and power of the Spirit, breaking open the deadness and darkness of their hearts with light and life from heaven, which light did, and alone could, open and verify in their souls, all that he had said and promised to them whilst he was with them in the flesh. All this is expressly declared by Christ himself, saying unto them … “But if I go away,” says he, “I will send him unto you, and when the comforter, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; he shall glorify me” (that is, shall set up my kingdom in its glory, in the power of the Spirit) “for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you: I said of mine, because all things that the Father hath are mine,” John xvi. (An Address to the Clergy)

The Source of Divine Affections

A Christianity which is not built upon supernatural grounds and rests solely upon the conclusions of the natural uninspired man has nothing of true Christianity in it. William Law explains:

Now as no animal could begin to respire, or unite with the breath of this world, but because it has its beginning to breathe begotten in it from the air of this world, so it is equally certain, that no creature, angel or man, could begin to be religious, or breathe forth the divine affections of faith, love, and desire towards God, but because a living seed of these divine affections was by the Spirit or {sic} God first begotten in it. And as a tree or plant can only grow and fructify by the same power that first gave birth to the seed, so faith, and hope, and love towards God, can only grow and fructify by the same power, that begot the first seed of them in the soul. Therefore divine immediate inspiration and divine religion are inseparable in the nature of the thing.

Take away inspiration, or suppose it to cease, and then no religious acts or affections can give forth anything that is godly or divine. For the creature can offer, or return nothing to God, but that which it has first received from him; therefore, if it is to offer and send up to God affections and aspirations that are divine and godly, it must of all necessity have the divine and godly nature living and breathing in it. Can anything reflect light, before it has received it? Or any other light, than that which it has received?…

All that the natural or uninspired man does, or can do in the church, has no more of the truth or power of divine worship in it, than that which he does in the field, or shop, through a desire of riches. And the reason is, because all the acts of the natural man, whether relating to matters of religion or the world, must be equally selfish, and there is no possibility of their being otherwise. For self-love, self- esteem, self-seeking, and living wholly to self, are as strictly the whole of all that is or possibly can be in the natural man, as in the natural beast; the one can no more be better, or act above this nature, than the other. Neither can any creature be in a better, or higher state than this, till something supernatural is found in it; and this supernatural something, called in scripture the WORD, or SPIRIT, or INSPIRATION of God, is that alone from which man can have the first good thought about God, or the least power of having more heavenly desires in his spirit, than he has in his flesh. (“An Address to the Clergy” by William Law)

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