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The two points to be considered in reference to this subject, are, first the

nature, and second the office or work of the Holy Spirit. With regard to his

nature, is He a person or a mere power? and if a person, is He created or

divine, finite or infinite? The personality of the Spirit has been the faith of

the Church from the beginning. It had few opponents even in the chaotic

period of theology; and in modern times has been denied by none but

Socinians, Arians, and Sabellians. Before considering the direct proof of

the Church doctrine that the Holy Spirit is a person, it may be well to

remark, that the terms “The Spirit,” “The Spirit of God,” “The Holy

Spirit,” and when God speaks, “My Spirit,” or, when God is spoken of

“His Spirit,” occur in all parts of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation;

These and equivalent terms are evidently to be understood in the same

sense throughout the Scriptures.

If the Spirit of God which moved on the face of the waters, which strove

with the antediluvians, which came upon Moses, which gave skill to

artisans, and which inspired the prophets, is the power of God; then the

Spirit which came upon the Apostles, which Christ promised to send as a

comforter and advocate, and to which the instruction, sanctification, and

guidance of the people of God are referred, must also be the power of

God. But if the Spirit is clearly revealed to be a person in the later parts of

Scripture, it is plain that the earlier portions must be understood in the

same way. One part of the Bible, and much less one or a few passages

must not be taken by themselves, and receive any interpretation which the

isolated words may bear, but Scripture must interpret Scripture. Another

obvious remark on this subject is, that the Spirit of God is equally

prominent in all parts of the word of God. His intervention does not occur

on rare occasions, as the appearance of angels, or the Theophanies, of

which mention is made here and there in the sacred volume; but He is

represented as everywhere present and everywhere operative. We might as

well strike from the Bible the name and doctrine of God, as the name and

office of the Spirit.

In the New Testament alone He is mentioned not far from three hundred

times. It is not only, however, merely the frequency with which the Spirit

is mentioned, and the prominence given to his person and work, but the

multiplied and interesting relations in which He is represented as standing

to the people of God, the importance and number of his gifts, and the

absolute dependence of the believer and of the Church upon Him for

spiritual and eternal life, which render the doctrine of the Holy Ghost

absolutely fundamental to the gospel. The work of the Spirit in applying

the redemption of Christ is represented to be as essential as that

redemption itself. It is therefore indispensable that we should know what

the Bible teaches concerning the Holy Ghost, both as to his nature and


The Scriptures clearly teach that He is a person. Personality includes

intelligence, will, and individual subsistence. If, therefore, it can be proved

that all these are attributed to the Spirit, it is thereby proved that He is a

person. It will not be necessary or advisable to separate the proofs of

these several points, and cite passages which ascribe to Him intelligence;

and then others, which attribute to Him will; and still others to prove his

individual subsistence, because all these are often included in one and the

same passage; and arguments which prove the one, in many cases prove

also the others.

1. The first argument for the personality of the Holy Spirit is derived from

the use of the personal pronouns in relation to Him. A person is that

which, when speaking, says I; when addressed, is called thou; and when

spoken of, is called he, or him. It is indeed admitted that there is such a

rhetorical figure as personification; that inanimate or irrational beings, or

sentiments, or attributes, may be introduced as speaking, or addressed as

persons. But this creates no difficulty. The cases of personification are

such as do not, except in rare instances, admit of any doubt. The fact that

men sometimes apostrophize the heavens, or the elements, gives no

pretext for explaining as personification all the passages in which God or

Christ is introduced as a person. So also with regard to the Holy Spirit. He

is introduced as a person so often, not merely in poetic or excited

discourse, but in simple narrative, and in didactic instructions; and his

personality is sustained by so many collateral proofs, that to explain the

use of the personal pronouns in relation to Him on the principle of

personification, is to do violence to all the rules of interpretation. Thus in

<441302>Acts 13:2,

“The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul,

for the work whereunto I have called them.”

Our Lord says (<431526>John 15:26),

“When the Comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the

Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father,

He shall testify of me.”

The use of the masculine pronoun He instead of it, shows that the Spirit is

a person. In the following chapter (<431613>John 16:13, 14) It is there said,

“When He the 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. Be shall glorify

me for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”

Here there is no possibility of accounting for the use of the personal

pronoun He on any other ground than the personality of the Spirit.

2. We stand in relations to the Holy Spirit which we can sustain only to a

person. He is the object of our faith. We believe on the Holy Ghost. This

faith we profess in baptism. We are baptized not only in the name of the

Father and of the Son, but also of the Holy Ghost. The very association of

the Spirit in such a connection, with the Father and the Son, as they are

admitted to be distinct persons, proves that the Spirit also is a person.

Besides the use of the words eiv to onoma, unto the name, admits of no

other explanation. By baptism we profess to acknowledge the Spirit as we

acknowledge the Father and the Son, and we bind ourselves to the one as

well as to the others. If when the Apostle tells the Corinthians that they

were not baptized “in the name of Paul,” and when he says that the

Hebrews were baptized unto Moses, he means that the Corinthians were

not, and that the Hebrews were made the disciples, the one of Paul and the

others of Moses; then when we are baptized unto the name of the Spirit,

the meaning is that in baptism we profess to be his disciples; we bind

ourselves to receive his instructions, and to submit to his control. We

stand in the same relation to Him as to the Father and to the Son; we

acknowledge Him to be a person as distinctly as we acknowledge the

personality of the Son, or of the Father. Christians not only profess to

believe on the Holy Ghost, but they are also the recipients of his gifts.

He is to them an object of prayer. In the apostolic benediction, the grace of

Christ, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, are

solemnly invoked. We pray to the Spirit for the communication of Himself

to us, that He may, according to the promise of our Lord, dwell in us, as

we pray to Christ that we may be the objects of his unmerited love.

Accordingly we are exhorted not “to sin against,” “not to resist,” not “to

grieve” the Holy Spirit. He is represented, therefore, as a person who can

be the object of our acts; whom we may please or offend; with whom we

may have communion, i.e., personal intercourse; who can love and be

loved; who can say “thou” to us; and whom we can invoke in every time

of” need.

3. The Spirit also sustains relations to us, and performs offices which none

but a person can sustain or perform. He is our teacher, sanctifier,

comforter, and guide. He governs every believer who is led by the Spirit,

and the whole Church. He calls, as He called Barnabas and Saul, to the

work of the ministry, or to some special field of labor. Pastors or bishops

are made overseers by the Holy Ghost.

4. In the exercise of these and other functions, personal acts are constantly

attributed to the Spirit in the Bible; that is, such acts as imply intelligence,

will, and activity or power. The Spirit searches, selects, reveals, and

reproves. We often read that “The Spirit said.” (<441302>Acts 13:2; 21:11; <540401>1

Timothy 4:1, etc., etc.) This is so constantly done, that the Spirit appears

as a personal agent from one end of the Scriptures to the other, so that his

personality is beyond dispute. The only possible question is whether He

is a distinct person from the Father. But of this there can be no reasonable

doubt, as He is said to be the Spirit of God and the Spirit which is of God;

as He is distinguished from the Father in the forms of baptism and

benediction; as He proceeds from the Father; and as He is promised, sent,

and given by the Father. So that to confound the Holy Spirit with God

would be to render the Scriptures unintelligible.

5. All the elements of personality, namely, intelligence, will, and individual

subsistence, are not only involved in all that is thus revealed concerning

the relation in which the Spirit stands to us and that which we sustain to

Him, but they are all distinctly attributed to Him. The Spirit is said to

know, to will, and to act. He searches, or knows all things, even the deep

things of God. No man knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God.

(<460210>1 Corinthians 2:10, 12.) He distributes “to every man severally as he

will.” (<461211>1 Corinthians 12:11.) His individual subsistence is involved in his

being an agent, and in his being the object on which the activity of others

terminates. If He can be loved, reverenced, and obeyed, or offended and

sinned against, He must be a person.

6. The personal manifestations of the Spirit, when He descended on Christ

after his baptism, and upon the Apostles at the day of Pentecost, of

necessity involve His personal subsistence. It was not any attribute of

God, nor his mere efficiency, but God himself, that was manifested in the

burning bush, in the fire and clouds on Mount Sinai, in the pillar which

guided the Israelites through the wilderness, and in the glory which dwelt

in the Tabernacle and in the Temple.

7. The people of God have always regarded the Holy Spirit as a person.

They have looked to Him for instruction, sanctification, direction, and

comfort. This is part of their religion. Christianity (subjectively

considered) would not be what it is without this sense of dependence on

the Spirit, and this love and reverence for his person. All the liturgies,

prayers, and praises of the Church, are filled with appeals and addresses

to the Holy Ghost. This is a fact which admits of no rational solution if

the Scriptures do not really teach that the Spirit is a distinct person. The

rule: Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, is held by Protestants

as well as by Romanists. It is not to the authority of general consent as an

evidence of truth, that Protestants object, but to the applications made of

it by the Papal Church, and to the principle on which that authority is

made to rest. All Protestants admit that true believers in every age and

country have one faith, as well as one God and one Lord.

On this subject there has been little dispute in the Church. The Spirit is so

prominently presented in the Bible as possessing divine attributes, and

exercising divine prerogatives, that since the fourth century his true

divinity has never been denied by those who admit his personality.

1. In the Old Testament, all that is said of Jehovah is said of the Spirit of

Jehovah; and therefore, if the latter is not a mere periphrase for the former,

he must of necessity be divine. The expressions, Jehovah said, and, the

Spirit said, are constantly interchanged; and the acts of the Spirit are said

to be acts of God.

2. In the New Testament, the language of Jehovah is quoted as the

language of the Spirit. In <230609>Isaiah 6:9, it is written, Jehovah said, “Go and

tell this people,” etc. This passage is thus quoted by Paul, <442825>Acts 28:25,

“Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet,” etc. In <243131>Jeremiah

31:31, 33, 34, it is said,

“Behold the days come, saith Jehovah,

that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel;”

which is quoted by the Apostle in <581015>Hebrews 10:15, saying,

“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He

had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their

hearts,” etc.

Thus constantly the language of God is quoted as the language of the Holy

Ghost. The prophets were the messengers of God; they uttered his words,

delivered his commands, pronounced his threatenings, and announced his

promises, because they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

They were the organs of God, because they were the organs of the Spirit.

The Spirit, therefore, must be God.

3. In the New Testament the same mode of representation is continued.

Believers are the temple of God, because the Spirit dwells in them.

<490222>Ephesians 2:22: Ye are “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” <460619>1

Corinthians 6:19:

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost

which is in you, which ye have of God?”

In <450809>Romans 8:9, 10, the indwelling of Christ is said to be the indwelling

of the Spirit of Christ, and that is said to be the indwelling of the Spirit of

God. In <440501>Acts 5:1--4, Ananias is said to have lied unto God because he

lied against the Holy Ghost.

4. Our Lord and his Apostles constantly speak of the Holy Spirit as

possessing all divine perfections. Christ says,

“All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but

the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto

men.” (<401231>Matthew 12:31.)

The unpardonable sin, then, is speaking against the Holy Ghost. This

could not be unless the Holy Ghost were God. The Apostle, in <460210>1

Corinthians 2:10, 11, says that the Spirit knows all things, even the deep

things (the most secret purposes) of God. His knowledge is commensurate

with the knowledge of God. He knows the things of God as the spirit of a

man knows the things of a man. The consciousness of God is the

consciousness of' the Spirit. The Psalmist teaches us that the Spirit is

omnipresent and everywhere efficient. “Whither,” he asks, “shall I go from

thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (<19D907>Psalm 139:7.)

The presence of the Spirit is the presence of God. The same idea is

expressed by the prophet when he says,

“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?

saith Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith Jehovah.”

(<242324>Jeremiah 23:24.)

5. The works of the Spirit are the works of God. He fashioned the world.

(<010102>Genesis 1:2.) He regenerates the soul: to be born of the Spirit is to be

born of God. He is the source of all knowledge; the giver of inspiration; the

teacher, the guide, the sanctifier, and the comforter of the Church in all

ages. He fashions our bodies; He formed the body of Christ, as a fit

habitation for the fullness of the Godhead; and He is to quicken our mortal

bodies. (<450811>Romans 8:11.)

6. He is therefore presented in the Scriptures as the proper object of

worship, not only in the formula of baptism and in the apostolic

benediction, which bring the doctrine of the Trinity into constant

remembrance as the fundamental truth of our religion, but also-- in the

constant requirement that we look to Him and depend upon Him for all

spiritual good, and reverence and obey Him as our divine teacher and


The relation of the Spirit to the other persons of the Trinity has been

stated before.
(1.) He is the same in substance and equal in power and glory.

(2.) He is subordinate to the Father and Son, as to his mode of

subsistence and operation, as He is said to be of the Father and of the

Son; He is sent by them, and they operate through Him.

(3.) He bears the same relation to the Father as to the Son; as He is

said to be of the one as well as of the other, and He is given by the Son

as well as by the Father.

(4.) His eternal relation to the other persons of the Trinity is indicated

by the word Spirit, and by its being said that he is out of God, i.e.,

God is the source whence the Spirit is said to proceed.

The general doctrine of the Scriptures on this subject is that the Spirit is

the executive of the Godhead. Whatever God does, He does by the Spirit.

He is the immediate source of all life. Even in the external world the Spirit

is everywhere present and everywhere active. Matter is not intelligent. It

has its peculiar properties, which act blindly according to established laws.

The intelligence, therefore, manifested in vegetable and animal structures,

is not to be referred to matter, but to the omnipresent Spirit of God. It

was He who brooded over the waters and reduced chaos into order. It was

He who garnished the heavens. It is He that causes the grass to grow. The

Psalmist says of all living creatures,

“Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their

breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy

Spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.”

(<19A429>Psalm 104:29, 30.)

Compare <233214>Isaiah 32:14, 15. Job, speaking of his corporeal frame, says,

“The Spirit of God hath made me.” (<183304>Job 33:4.) And the Psalmist, after

describing the omnipresence of the Spirit, refers to his agency the

wonderful mechanism of the human body.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.... my substance was not hid

from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the

lowliest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet

being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written,

which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none

of them.” (<19D914>Psalm 139:14-16.)

The Spirit is also represented as the source of all intellectual life. When

man was created it is said God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;

and man became a living soul.” (<010207>Genesis 2:7.) <183208>Job 32:8, says, The

inspiration of the Almighty giveth men understanding, i.e., a rational

nature, for it is explained by saying, He

“teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth,

and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven.” (<183511>Job 35:11.)

The Scriptures ascribe in like manner to Him all special or extraordinary

gifts. Thus it is said of Bezaleel,

“I have called” him, “and I have filled him with the Spirit of God,

in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner

of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in

silver, and in brass.” (<023102>Exodus 31:2, 3, 4.)

By his Spirit God gave Moses the wisdom requisite for his high duties,

and when he was commanded to devolve part of his burden upon the

seventy elders, it was said,

“I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee,

and will put it upon them.” (<041117>Numbers 11:17.)

Joshua was appointed to succeed Moses, because in him was the Spirit.

(<042718>Numbers 27:18.) In like manner the Judges, who from time to time

were raised up, as emergency demanded, were qualified by the Spirit for

their peculiar work, whether as rulers or as warriors. Of Othniel it is said,

“The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged

Israel and went out to war.” (<070310>Judges 3:10.)

So the Spirit of the Lord is said to have come upon Gideon and on

Jephthah and on Samson. When Saul offended God, the Spirit of the Lord

is said to have departed from him. (<091614>1 Samuel 16:14.) When Samuel

anointed David, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him “from that day

forward.” (<091613>1 Samuel 16:13.)

In like manner under the new dispensation the Spirit is represented as not

only the author of miraculous gifts, but also as the giver of the

qualifications to teach and rule in the Church. All these operations are

independent of the sanctifying influences of the Spirit. When the. Spirit

came on Samson or upon Saul, it was not to render them holy, but to

endue them with extraordinary physical and intellectual power; and when

He is said to have departed from them, it means that those extraordinary

endowments were withdrawn.

With regard to the office of the Spirit in the work of redemption, the

Scriptures teach, --

1. That He fashioned the body, and endued the human soul of Christ with

every qualification for his work. To the Virgin Mary it was said,

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the

Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which

shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.”

(<420135>Luke 1:35.)

The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah should be replenished with

all spiritual gifts.

“Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul

delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth

judgment to the Gentiles.” (<234201>Isaiah 42:1.)

“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a

branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the LORD shall

rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit

of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the

LORD.” (<231101>Isaiah 11:1, 2.)

When our Lord appeared on earth, it is said that the Spirit without

measure was given unto Him. (<430334>John 3:34.)

“And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending

from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.” (<430132>John 1:32.)

He was, therefore, said to have been full of the Holy Ghost.

2. That the Spirit is the revealer of all divine truth. The doctrines of the

Bible are called the things of the Spirit. With regard to the writers of the

Old Testament, it is said they spake as they were moved by the Holy

Ghost. The language of Micah is applicable to all the prophets,

“Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD and of

judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression and

to Israel his sin.” (<330308>Micah 3:8.)

What David said, the Holy Ghost is declared to have said. The New

Testament writers were in like manner the organs of the Spirit. The

doctrines which Paul preached he did not receive from men, “but God,” he

says, “hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” (<460210>1 Corinthians 2:10.)

The Spirit also guided the utterance of those truths; for he adds, “Which

things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but

which the Holy Ghost teacheth; communicating the things of the Spirit in

the words of the Spirit”, The whole Bible, therefore, is to be referred to

the Spirit as its author.

3. The Spirit not only thus reveals divine truth, having guided infallibly

holy men of old in recording it, but He everywhere attends it by his

power. All truth is enforced on the heart and conscience with more or less

power by the Holy Spirit, wherever that truth is known. To this allpervading

influence we are indebted for all there is of morality and order in

the world. But besides this general influence, which is usually called

common grace, the Spirit specially illuminates the minds of the children of

God, that they may know the things freely given (or revealed to them) by

God. The natural man does not receive them, neither can he know them,

because they are spiritually discerned. All believers are therefore called

spiritual, because thus enlightened and guided by the Spirit.

4. It is the special office of the Spirit to convince the world of sin; to

reveal Christ, to regenerate the soul, to lead men to the exercise of faith and

repentance; to dwell in those whom He thus renews, as a principle of a

new and divine life. By this indwelling of the Spirit, believers are united to

Christ, and to one another, so that they form one body. This is the

foundation of the communion of saints, making them one in faith, one in

love, one in their inward life, and one in their hopes and final destiny.

5. The Spirit also calls men to office in the Church, and endows them with

the qualifications necessary for the successful discharge of its duties. The

office of the Church, in this matter, is simply to ascertain and authenticate

the call of the Spirit. Thus the Holy Ghost is the immediate author of all

truth, of all holiness, of all consolation, of all authority, and of all

efficiency in the children of God individually, and in the Church