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Professor of Systematic Theology in the 
University of Amsterdam. 







Copyright, 1900 



[Registered at Stationers' Hall, London.} 

Printed in the United States 0/ A tnerica. 




Preface, ix 

Explanatory Notes to the American Edition, . . . . xv 

Partial List of the Works of Dr. Kuyper, xix 

Introduction by Prof, Benjamin B. Warkield, D.D., LL.D., . xxv 




I. Careful Treatment Required, 3 

II. Two Standpoints, 8 

III. The Indwelling and Outgoing Works of God 13 

IV. The Work of the Holy Spirit Distinguished 18 


The Creation. 

V. The Principle of Life in the Creature, 22 

VI. The Host of Heaven and of Earth 27 

VII. The Creaturely Man 32 

VIII. Gifts and Talents 38 



IX. Creation and Re-Creation, ........ 43 

X. Organic and Individual, 48 

XI. The Church Before and After Christ 52 

The Holy Scripture of the Old Testament. 

XII. The Holy Scripture 56 

XIII. The Scripture a Necessity, 6c 



XIV. The Revelation to Which the Scripture of the Old Testa- 
ment Owes Its Existence 65 

XV. The Revelation of the Old Testament in Writing, . . 70 

XVI. Inspiration, 74 


The Incarnation ok the Word. 

XVII. Like One of Us 79 

XVIII. Guiltless and Without Sin 84 

XIX. The Holy Spirit in the Mystery of the Incarnation, . . 88 


The Mediator. 

XX. The Holy Spirit in the Mediator, 93 

XXI. Not Like unto Us, 97 

XXII. The Holy Spirit in the Passion of Christ, . . . .102 

XXIII. The Holy Spirit in the Glorified Christ 107 


The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

XXIV. The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit 112 

XXV. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament Other than in the 

Old 117 

XXVI. Israel and the Nations 123 

XXVII. The Signs of Pentecost, 128 

XXVIII. The Miracle of Tongues I33 

The Apostolate. 

XXIX. The Apostolate, 
XXX. The Apostolic Scriptures 
XXXI. Apostolic Inspiration, 
XXXIL Apostles To-Uay? . 



The Holy Scriptures in the New Testament. 

XXXIII. The Holy Scriptures in the New Testament, 

XXXIV. The Need of the Xew-Testament Scripture, 
XXXV. The Character of the New-Testament Scripture, . 

. 164 
. 169 
. 174 


The Church of Christ. 


XXXVI. The Church of Christ, I79 

XXXVII. Spiritual Gifts 184 

XXXVIII. The Ministry of the Word, 190 

XXXIX. The Government of the Church, 196 




I. The Man to be Wrought upon, 
II. The Work of Grace a Unit, . 

III. Analysis Necessary, 

IV. Image and Likeness, 
V. Original Righteousness, 

VI. Rome, Socinus, Arminius, Calvin 
VII. The Neo-Kohlbruggians, 
VIII. After the Scriptures, 
IX. The Image of God in Man, . 
X. Adam Not Innocent, but Holy, 




The Sinner to be Wrought upon. 

XI. Sin Not Material, . 
XII. Sin Not a Mere Negation, 

XIII. Sin a Power in Reversed Action, 

XIV. Our Guilt 

XV. Our Unrighteousness, . 

XVI. Our Death 





Preparatory Grace. 

XVII. What It Is 283 

XVIII. What It Is Not 288 




XIX. Old and New Terminology, 293 

XX. Its Course 299 

XXI. Regeneration the Work of God, 304 

XXII. The Work of Regeneration, ....... 310 

XXIII. Regeneration and Faith 3i5 

XXIV. Implanting in Christ 322 

XXV. Not a Divine-Human Nature, 327 

XXVI. The Mystical Union with Immanuel, 333 


Calling and Repentance. 

XXVII. The Calling of the Regenerate 333 

XXVIII. The Coming of the Called, 343 

XXIX. Conversion of All that Come 349 



XXX. Justification 354 

XXXI. Our Status, 361 

XXXII. Justification from Eternity 367 

XXXIII. Certainty of Our Justification 372 


XXXIV. Faith in General 378 

XXXV. Faith and Knowledge 384 

XXXVI. Brakel and Comrie 39° 

XXXVII. Faith in the Sacred Scriptures 397 

XXXVIII. The Faculty of Faith 402 

XXXIX. Defective Learning 407 

XL. Faith in the Saved Sinner Alone, 4^5 

XLI. Testimonies, .... .... 420 





I. Sanctification, • • • * ^^^ 

II, Sanctification a Mystery 435 

III. Sanctification and Justification 440 

IV. Sanctification and Justification (Continued), . . -444 
V. Holy Raiment of One's Own Weaving 448 

VI. Christ Our Sanctification, 452 

VII. Application of Sanctification, 45 

VIII. Sanctification in Fellowship with Immanuel, . . .460 

IX. Implanted Dispositions, 4 4 

X. Perfect in Parts, Imperfect in Degrees, 468 

XI. The Pietist and the Perfectionist 474 

XII. The Old Man and the New, 48o 

XIII. The Work of God in Our Work 485 

XIV. The Person Sanctified, 49° 

XV, Good Works "^^ 

XVI. Self-Denial 5°^ 


XVII. Natural Love 5o8 

XVIII. Love in the Triune Being of God 5^3 

XIX. The Manifestation of Holy Love, 5^7 

XX. God the Holy Spirit the Love which Dwells in the Heart, . 522 

XXI. The Love of the Holy Spirit in Us S27 

XXII. Love and the Comforter, 532 

XXIII. The Greatest of These Is Love, S38 

XXIV. Love in the Blessed Ones 543 

XXV, The Communion of Saints, 548 

XXVI. The Communion of Goods 554 

XXVII. The Communion of Gifts S^o 

XXVIII. The Suffering of Love, . 565 

XXIX. Love in the Old Covenant, 570 

XXX. Organically One 575 

XXXI. The Hardening Operation of Love 58o 

XXXII. The Love which Withers, . 584 



XXXIII. The Hardening in the Sacred Scripture, . . . .589 

XXXIV. Temporary Hardening, 594 

XXXV. The Hardening of Nations, 598 

XXXVI. The Apostolic Love 603 

XXXVII. The Sin Against the Holy Ghost 608 

XXXVIII. Christ or Satan 613 


XXXIX. The Essence of Prayer, 618 

XL. Prayer and the Consciousness 623 

XLI. Prayer in the Unconverted, 629 

XLII. The Prayer of the Regenerated, 636 

XLIII. Prayer for and with Each Other, 643 


Special treatises on the Person of the Holy Spirit are compara- 
tively few, and systematic treatment of His IVorA is still more un- 
common. In dogmatics, it is true, this subject is introduced, devel- 
oped, and explained, but special treatment is exceptional. 

As much as there is written on Christ, so little is there written 
on the Holy Spirit. The work of John Owen on this subject is 
most widely known and still unsurpassed. In fact, John Owen 
wrote three works on the Holy Spirit, published in 1674, 1682, and 
1693. He was naturally a prolific writer and theologian. Born 
in 1616, he died at the good old age of seventy-five years, in 1691. 
From 1642, when he published his first book, he continued writing 
books until his death. 

In 1826 Richard Baynes reissued the works of John Owen, D.D., 
edited by Thomas Russell, A.M., with memoirs of his life and wri- 
tings (twenty-one volumes). This edition is still in the market, 
and offers a treasury of sound and thorough theology. 

Besides Owen's works I mention the following: 

David Rungius, " Proof of the Eternity and Eternal Godhead of 
the Holy Spirit," Wittenberg, 1599. 

Seb. Nieman, " On the Holy Spirit." Jena, 1655. 

Joannes Ernest Gerhard, " On the Person of the Holy Spirit," 
Jena, 1660. 

Theod. Hackspann, " Dissertation on the Holy Spirit," Jena, 1655. 

J. G. Dorsche, " On the Person of the Holy Spirit," Konings- 
berg, 1690. 

Fr. Deutsch, " On the Personality of the Holy Spirit," Leipsic, 

Gottfr. Olearius (John F. Burgius), " On the Adoration and Wor- 
ship of the Holy Spirit," Jena, 1727. 

J. F. Buddeuss, " On the Godhead of the Holy Spirit," Jena, 1727. 


J. C. Pfeiffer, " On the Godhead of the Holy Spirit," Jena, 1740. 

G. F. Gude, " On the Martyrs as Witnesses for the Godhead ot 
the Holy Spirit," Leipsic, 1741. 

J. C. Danhauer, " On the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the 
Father and the Son," Strasburg, 1663. J. Senstius, Rostock, 1718, 
and J. A. Butstett, Wolfenbiittel, 1749. John Schmid, John Meisner, 
P. Havercom, G. Wegner, and C. M. Pfaff. 

The Work of the Holy Spirit has been discussed separately by 
the following: Anton, " The Holy Spirit Indispensable." Carsov, 
"On the Holy Spirit in Conviction." Wensdorf, "On the Holy 
Spirit as a Teacher." Boerner, " The Anointing of the Holy Spirit." 
Neuman, " The Anointing which Teaches All Things." Fries, " The 
Office of the Holy Spirit in General." Weiss, "The Holy Spirit 
Bringing into Remembrance." Foertsch, " On the Holy Spirit's 
Leading of the Children of God." Hoepfner, " On the Intercession 
of the Holy Spirit." Beltheim, Arnold, Gunther, Wendler, and 
Dummerick, " On the Groaning of the Holy Spirit." Meen, " On 
the Adoration of the Holy Spirit." Henning and Crusius, " On the 
Earnest of the Holy Spirit." 

The following Dutch theologians have written on the same 
subject: Gysbrecht Voetius in his" Select-Disput.," L, p. 466. Sam. 
Maresius, " Theological Treatise on the Personality and Godhead 
of the Holy Spirit," in his " Sylloge-Disput.," I., p. 364. Jac. Fruy- 
tier, " The Ancient Doctrine Concerning God the Holy Spirit, True, 
Proven, and Divine"; exposition of John xv. 26, 27. Camp. Vi- 
tringa, Jr., " Duae Disputationes Academicae de Notione Spiritus 
Sancti," in his Opuscula. 

Works on the same subject during the present century can 
scarcely be compared with the studies of John Owen. We notice 
the following: Herder, " Vom Paraclet." Kachel, " Von der Laster- 
ung wider den Heiligen Geist," Niimberg, 1875. E. Guers, " Le 
Saint-Esprit, Etude doctrinale et pratique sur Sa Personne et Son 
CEuvre," Toulouse, 1865. A. J. Gordon, " Dispensation of the 

This meager bibliography shows what scant systematic treatment 
is accorded to the Person of the Holy Spirit. Studies of the JVork 
of the Holy Spirit are still more scanty. It is true there are several 
dissertations on separate parts of this Work, but it has never been 
treated in its organic unity. Not even by Guers, who acknowledges 
that his little book is not entitled to a place among dogmatics. 


In fact, Owen is still unsurpassed, and is therefore much sought 
after by good theologians, both lay and clerical. And yet Owen's 
masterpiece does not seem to make a closer study of this subject su- 
perfluous. Altho invincible as a champion against the Arminians 
and Semi-Arminians of the latter part of the seventeenth century. 
his armor is too light to meet the doctrinal errors of the present time. 
For this reason the author has undertaken to offer the thinking Chris- 
tian public an exposition of the second part of this great subject, in 
a form adapted to the claims of the age and the errors of the day. 
He has not treated the first part, the Person of the Holy Spirit. 
This is not a subject for controversy. The Godhead of the Holy 
Spirit is indeed being confessed or denied, but the principles of which 
confession or denial is the necessary result are so divergent that a 
discussion between confessor and denier is impossible. If they 
ever enter the arena they should cross lances on the point of first 
principles, and discuss the Source of Truth. And when this is set- 
tled they might come to discuss a special subject like that of the 
Holy Spirit. But until then such a discussion with them that deny 
the Revelation would almost be sacrilegious. 

But with the IVork of the Holy Spirit it is different. For altho 
professing Christians acknowledge this Work, and all that it includes, 
and all that flows from it, yet the various groups into which they 
divide represent it in very divergent ways. What differences on this 
point between Calvinists and Ethicals. Reformed. Kohlbruggians. 
and Perfectionists ! The representations of the practical Supernatu- 
ralists, Mystics, and Antinomians can scarcely be recognized. 

It seemed to me impracticable and confusing to attack these 
deviating opinions on subordinate points. These differences should 
never be discussed but systematically. He that has not first staked 
off the entire domain in which the Holy Spirit works can not suc- 
cessfully measure any part of it, to the winning of a brother and to 
the glory of God. 

Hence leaving out polemics almost entirely. I have made an 
effort to represent the Work of the Holy Spirit in its organic rela- 
tions, so that the reader may be enabled to survey the entire do- 
main. And in surveying, who is not surprised at the ever-increas- 
ing dimensions of the Work of the Holy Spirit in all the things that 
pertain to God and man? 

Even tho we honor the Father and believe on the Son, how little 
do we live in the Holy Spirit ! It even seems to us sometimes that 


for our sanctification only, the Holy Spirit is added accidentally to 
the great redemptive work. 

This is the reason why our thoughts are so little occupied with 
the Holy Spirit; why in the ministry of the Word He is so little 
honored ; why the people of God, when bowed in supplication before 
the Throne of Grace, make Him so little the object of their adora- 
tion. You feel involuntarily that of our piety, which is already 
small enough, He receives a too scanty portion. 

And since this is the result of an inexcusable lack of knowledge 
and appreciation of His glorious Work in the entire creation, holy 
enthusiasm constrained me, in the power of God, to offer my fellow 
champions for the faith once delivered by the fathers, some assist- 
ance in this respect. 

May the Holy Spirit, whose divine Work I have uttered in hu- 
man words and with stammering tongue, crown this labor with such 
blessing that you may feel His unseen Presence more closely, and 
that He may bring to your disquieted heart more abundant conso- 

Amsterdam, April lo, 1888. 

Postscript for American readers, I add one more observation. 

This work contains occasional polemics against Methodism 
which to the many ministers and members of the churches called 
"Methodist" may appear unfair and uncalled for. Be it, there- 
fore, clearly stated that my controversy with Methodism is never 
with these particular churches. The Methodism that I contend with 
prevailed until recently in nearly all the Protestant churches as an 
unhealthy fruit of the Reveil in the beginning of this century. 
Methodism as here intended is identical with what Mr. Heath, in The 
Contanporary Review (May, 1898), criticized as wofully inadequate to 
place Protestantism again at the head of the spiritual movement. 

Methodism was born out of the spiritual decline of the Episco- 
pal Church of England and Wales. It arose as the reaction of the 
individual and of the spiritual subjective against the destructive 
power of the objective in the community as manifested in the 
Church of England. As such the reaction was precious and un- 
doubtedly a gift of God, and in its workings it would have contin- 
ued just as salutary if it had retained its character of a predominant 


It should have supposed the Church as a community as an 
objective power, and in this objective domain it should have vindi- 
cated the significance of the individual spiritual life and of the 
subjective confessing. 

But it failed to do this. From vindicating the subjective rights 
of the individual it soon passed into antagonism against the objec- 
tive rights of the community. This resulted dogmatically in the 
controversy about the objective work of God, viz., in His decree 
and His election, and ecclesiastically in antagonism against the ob- 
jective work of the office through the confession. It gave suprem- 
acy to the subjective element in man's free will and to the individ- 
ual element in the deciding of unchurchly conflicts in the Church. 
And so it retained no other aim than the conversion of individual 
sinners; and for this work it abandoned the organic, and retained 
only the mechanical method. 

As such it celebrated in the so-called Reveil its most glorious 
triumph, and penetrated nearly all the Protestant churches, and 
even the Episcopal Church under the name of Evangelicalism or 
Low Churchism. As a second reaction against the second decline 
of the Protestant churches of that time this triumph undoubtedly 
brought a great blessing. 

But when the necessity arose to reduce this new spiritual life 
to a definite principle, upon this to construct a Protestant-Christian 
life and world-view in opposition to the unchristian philosophies 
and to the essentially pantheistic life and world-view, and to give 
these position and to maintain it, then it pitiably failed. It lacked 
conscious, sharply defined principles; with its individualism and 
subjectivity it could not reach the social questions, and by reason 
of its complete lack of organic unity it could not formulate an in- 
dependent life and world-view; yea, it stood everywhere as an ob- 
stacle to such formations. 

For this reason it is absolutely necessary to teach the Protestant 
churches clearly to see this dark shadow of Methodism, while at 
the same time they should continue to study its precious signifi- 
cance as a spiritual reaction. 

Hence my contending with Methodism and my persistent point- 
ing to the imperative necessity of vindicating over against and 
alongside of the purely mechanical subjectivity the rights of the 
organic social in all human life, and of satisfying the need of the 
power of objectivity in presence of the extravagant statements of 


subjectivity. This presses all the more since in the Methodist 
theology of America the modem tendency is gaining ground. 

The Work of the Holy Spirit may not be displaced by the activ- 
ity of the human spirit, 

Amsterdam, April 21, 1899. 



Dr. Kuyper's work on the Holy Spirit first appeared in the He- 
raut in weekly instalments, after which it was published in book 
form, Amsterdam, 1888, 

This explains the object of the author in writing the book, viz., 
the instruction of the people of the Netherlands. Written in the 
ordinary language of the people, it meets the need of both laity and 

However, depth of thought was not sacrificed to simplicity of 
speech. On the contrary, the latter was only the instrument to 
make the former lucid and transparent. 

The Heraut is a religious weekly of which Dr. Kuyper has been 
the editor-in-chief for more than twenty years. It is published on 
Friday, and forms the Sunday reading of a large constituency. 
Through its columns Dr. Kuyper has taught again the people of the 
Netherlands, in city and country, the principles of the Reformed 
faith, and how to give these principles a new development in ac- 
cordance with the modem conscience of our time. 

Dr. Kuyper is not an apologist, but an earnest and conscientious 
reconstructionist. He has made the people acquainted with the 
symbols of the Reformed faith, and by expounding the Scriptures 
to them he has maintained and defended the positions of those 
symbols. His success in this respect appears conspicuously in the 
reformation of the Reformed Churches in 1886, and in the subsequent 
development of marvelous energy and activity in Church and State 
which are products of revived and reconstructed Calvinism. With- 
out the patient toil and labor of this quarter of a century, that ref- 
ormation would have been impossible. 

In his religious and political reformations. Dr. Kuyper proceed- 
ed from the personal conviction that the salvation of Church and 
State could be found only in a return to the deserted foundations 
of the national Reformed theology; but not to reconstruct it in its 


worn-out form. " His fresh, brave spirit is entirely free from all 
conservatism" (Dr. W. Geesink). He is a man o/his time as well 
a&for his time. The new superstructure which he has been rear- 
ing upon the carefully reuncovered foundations of the Reformed 
theology he seeks to adapt to all the needs, demands, and distresses 
of the present. In how far he has succeeded time only can tell. 

Since 1871 he has published in the columns of the Heraut and 
afterward in book form the following: " Out of the Word," Bible 
studies, four volumes; "The Incarnate Word, '" The Work of the 
Holy Spirit," three volumes, and " E Voto Dordraceno," an explana- 
tion of the Heidelberg Catechism, four volumes. This last work is 
a rich treasury of sound and thorough theology, dogmatic and prac- 
tical. He has published several other treatises which have not yet 
appeared in book form. Among these we notice especially *' On 
Common Grace," which, still in process of publication, is full of 
most excellent reading. The number of his works amounts already 
to over one hundred and fifty, a partial list of which is to be found 
following this introduction. 

The following works have been translated into English : " Ency- 
clopaedia of Sacred Theology" (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898); 
"Calvinism and Art"; "Calvinism and Our Constitutional Lib- 
erties"; "Pantheism and Destruction of the Boundaries"; "The 
Stone Lectures." 

For the better understanding of the work, the translator begs to 
offer the following explanations : 

" Ethical Irenical," or simply " Ethical," is the name of a move- 
ment in the Netherlands that seeks to mediate between modem 
Rationalism and the orthodox confession of the old Reformed 
Church. It seeks to restore peace and tranquillity not by a return 
to the original church order, nor by the maintenance of the old 
Confession and the removal of deviating ministers through trial 
and deposition (Judicial Treatment), but by making efforts to find 
a common ground for both parties. It proceeds from the idea that 
that which is diseased in the Church can and will return to health : 
partly by letting the disease alone to run its course {Doorzieken) — 
forgetting that corruption in the Church is not a disease, but a sin ; * 
partly 1 j a liberal diffusion of Bible knowledge among the people 
(Medical Treatment). 

* Dr. W. Geesink. 


Dr. Chantepie de la Saussaj'e, a disciple of Schleiermacher, was 
the spiritual father of this Ethical theology. Born in 1818, Dr. De 
la Saussaye entered the University of Leyden in 1836. Dissatis- 
fied with the rational supernaturalism of a former generation, 
unable to adapt himself to the vagueness and ambiguousness of the 
so-called Groningen school, or to find a basis for the development 
of his theological science in the treasures of the Calvinistic theol- 
ogy, he felt himself strongly attracted to the school of Schelling, 
and through him he came under the influence of Pantheism. During 
the years of his pastorate in Leeuwarden (1842-48) and in Leyden 
to 1872, he modified and developed the ideas of Schleiermacher in 
an independent way. The Ethical theology was the result. Its 
basic thought may be comprehended as follows : 

" Transcendent above nature, God is also immanent in nature. 
This immanence is not merely physical, but also, on the ground of 
this, ethical. This ethical immanence manifests itself in the relig- 
ious moral life, which is the real and true life of man. It originates 
in the heathen world, and through Israel ascends to Christ, in whom 
it attains completion. Among the heathen it manifests itself espe- 
cially in the conscience with its two elements of fear and hope; 
among Israel in Law and Prophecy ; and in Christ in His perfect 
union with God and humanity. For this reason He is the Word/ar 
excellence, the Central Man, in whom all that is human is realized. 
However, while until Christ it proceeded from circumference to 
center, after Christ it proceeds in ever-widening circles from center 
to circumference. Life flows from Christ into the Church, which, 
having temporarily become an institution for the education of the 
nations, became through the Reformation and the French Revolti- 
tion what it should be, a confessing Church. Its power lies no 
more in ecclesiastical organization, neither in authoritative creed 
and confession, but in moral activity and influence. The divine 
Word in the conscience begins to work and to govern , Christianity 
is being transferred into the moral domain. 

" However, the perfect ethical immanence of God is not attained 
in this dispensation ; being always possible, it may be realized in 
the succeeding eons."* 

It is not surprising that this theology, obliterating with its pan- 
theistic current the boundary-lines between the Creator and the 

* Dr. Bavink. 


creature, should have come in hostile contact with the Reformed 
theology, which most zealously guards these boundary-lines. In 
fact, instead of uniting the two existing parties on one common 
ground, the Ethical movement added a third, which in the subse- 
quent conflict was much more bitter, arbitrary, and tyrannical than 
the moderns, and which has already abandoned the Holy Scriptures 
in the manner of Wellhausen and Kuenen. 

In 1872 Dr. Chantepie de la Saussaye was appointed professor 
of theology in the University of Groningen, succeeding Hofstede 
de Groot. He filled this position but thirteen months. He fell 
asleep February 13, 1874. 

His most excellent disciple is the highly gifted Dr. J. H. Gun- 
ning, till 1899 professor of theology at the University of Leyden. 

The name of Dr. Kohlbrugge is frequently found in the follow- 
ing pages. Born a Lutheran, a graduate of the seminary of Am- 
sterdam, a candidate for the Lutheran ministry, Dr. Kohlbrugge 
became acquainted with the Reformed theology through the study 
of its earlier exponents. Known and feared as an ardent admirer 
of the doctrine of predestination, the authorities first of the Luther- 
an then of the State Church refused him admission to the minis- 
try. He left Holland for Germany, where for the same reason he 
was debarred from the pulpits of the German Reformed churches. 
At last he was called to the pulpit of a Free Reformed church at 
Elberfeld, established by himself. 

He was a profound theologian, a prolific writer, and one zealous 
for the honor of his Master. His numerous writings, half Luther- 
an, half Reformed, were spread over Holland, the Rhenish prov- 
inces, the cantons of Switzerland, and even among some Reformed 
churches of Bohemia. 

Some of his disciples fell into Antinomianism, and occupy pul- 
pits in the State Church at the present time. They are called Neo- 
Kohlbruggians. Professor Bohl, of Vienna, is the learned repre- 
sentative of the Old Kohlbruggians. Both the old and the new 
school are strongly opposed to Calvinism. 

The translation of " The Work of the Holy Spirit " was under- 
taken by appointment of the author, to whom the proof-sheets of al- 
most all the first volume were submitted for correction. Being 
■' overwhelmed " with work, and being fully satisfied with the trans- 
lation so far as he had seen it, the author decided not to delay the 
work for the reading of the remaining volumes, but to leave that to 


the discretion of the translator. A question of the omission of mat- 
ter referring to local conditions and to current theological discus- 
sions was also left to the translator's judgment. 

Grateful thanks are due to Rev. Thomas Chalmers Straus, A.M., 
of Peekskill, N. Y. , for valuable assistance in preparing this work 

for the press. 


Peekskill, N. Y., January 27, 1900. 

The following is a partial list of the works of Dr. Kuyper: 

"J. Calvini et J. a Lasco: De Ecclesia Sententiarum inter se Corapositio 

Acad. Diss." 1862. 
"Joannis a Lasco: Opera turn Edita quam Inedita." Two vols., 1866. 
"Wat moeten wy doen, het stemrecht aan ens zelven houden of den 

Kerkeraad tnachtigen ? " (What Are We to Do : Retain the Right of 

Voting, or Authorize the Consistory ?) 1867. 
"De M en sch wording Gods Het Levensbeginsel der Kerk." Intreerede 

te Utrecht. (The Incarnation of God the Vital Principle of the 

Church. Inaugural discourse at Utrecht. ) 1867. 
"Het Graf." Leerrede aan den avond van Goede-Vrydag. (The Tomb. 

Sermon on Good Friday night.) 1869. 
"Zestal Leerredenen." (Six Sermons.) 1869. 
"De Kerkelyke Goederen." (Church Property.) 1869. 
"Vrymaking der Kerk. (The Emancipation of the Church.) 1869. 
"Het Beroep op het Volksgeweten." (An Appeal to the National Con- 
science.) 1869. 
"Eenvormigheid de Vloek van het Moderne Leven." (Uniformity the 

Curse of Modern Life.) 1869. 
"De Schrift het Woord Gods." (Scripture the Word of God.) 1870. 
"Kerkeraadsprotocollen der Hollandsche Gemeente te London." 1569- 

1571. (The Consistorial Minutes of the Dutch Church in London.) 

"De Hollandsche Gemeente te London." 1 570-1 571. (The Dutch Church 

in London.) 1870. 
" Conservatisme en Orthodoxie, Valsche en Ware Behoudzucht. ** (Conser- 
vatism and Orthodoxy, the True and the False Instinct of Self-Preser- 

vation.) 1870. 
"Gewortelden Gegrond, de Kerk als Organisme en Institute." (Rooted 

and Grounded, the Church as Organism and Institute.) Inaugural at 

Amsterdam. 1870. 
"De Leer der Onsterfelykheid en de Staats School." (The Doctrine of 

Immortality and the State School.) 1870. 


"Een Perel in de Verkeerde Schelp." (A Pearl in the Wrong Shell.) 

"Het Modernisme een Fata Morgana op Christelyk Gabled." (Modern- 
ism a Fata Morgana in the Christian Domain.) 1871. 

"De Zending Naar de Schrift." (Missions According to Scripture.) 

" Tweede Zestal Leerredenen. " (Another Six Sermons. ) 1871. 

"O God Wees My Zondaar Genadig '" Leerrede op den Laatsten Dag van 
Het Jaar, 1870. (O God be Merciful to Me a Sinner' Sermon on 
Old Year's night, 1870.) 1871. 

"De Bartholomeusnacht." (The Bartholomew Night.) 1872. 

"De Sneeuw van den Libanon." (The Snow of Lebanon.) 1872. 

"Bekeertu Want het Koningryk Gods is Naby " (Repent, for the Kingdom 
of Heaven Is at Hand). Sermon on the last day of the year 187 1 ^872. 

"HetVergryp der Zeventien Ouderlingen " (The Mistake of the Seven- 
teen Elders. Memoir of the Consistory of Amsterdam.) 1872. 

" Uit het Woord. " (Out of the Word. ) Devotional Bible studies. 1873. 

"Het Calvinisme, Oorsprong en Waarborg onzer Constitutioneele Vry- 
heden." (Calvinism, the Origin and Surety of Our Constitutional 
Liberties.) 1874. 

"Uit het Woord." (Out of the Word. ) Second volume, 1875. 

"De Schoolquestie." (The School Question.) Six brochures, 1875. 

"Liberalisten en Joden." (Liberalists and Jews.) 1878. 

" Uit het Woord." (Out of the Word. ) Third volume. 1879. 

"Ons Program." (Our Program.) 1879 

"De Leidsche Professoren en de Executeurs der Dordtsche Nalatenschap. " 
(The Leyden Professors and the Executors of the Inheritance of 
Dordt.) 1879. 

" Revisie der Revisielegende. " (Revision of the Revision Legend. ) 1879. 

"De Synode der Nederlandsche Revormde Kerk uit Haar Eigen Ver- 
maan brief Geoordeeld." (The Synod of the Reformed Church in the 
Netherlands Judged by Its Own Epistle of Exhortation.) 1879. 

"Antirevolutionair ook in uw Gezin." (Anti-Revolutionary Even in the 
Family.) 18S0. 

"Bede om een Dubbel Corrigendum." (Prayer for a Double Corrigen- 
dum.) 1880. 

"Strikt Genomen." (Taken Strictly. The Right to Found a University 
Tested by Public Law and History.) 1880. 

"Souvereiniteitin EigenKring." (Sovereignty in Our Own Circle.) 1880. 

"Honig uit den Rottsteen." (Honey Out of the Rock.) 1880. 

" De Hedendaagsche Schriftcritiek in Hare Bedenkelyke Strekking voor de 
Gemeente des Levenden Gods." (Modern Criticism and Its Danger- 
ous Influence upon the Church of the Living God.) Discourse. 1S82. 


"D. Franscisci Jnnii : Opuscula Theologica. " 1882. 

"Alexander Comrie." Translated from The Catholic Presbyterian Re- 
view. 1882. 

"Ex Ungue Leouem." Dr. Doedes's Method of Interpretation Tested on 
One Point. 1882. 

"Welke zyn de Vooruitzchten voor de Studenten der vrye Universiteit? " 
(What Are the Prospects for the Students of the Free University?) 

"Tractaat van de Reformatie der Kerken." (Tractate of the Refornaation 
of the Churches.) 1883. 

"Honig uit den Rottsteen." (Honey Out of the Rock. ) Second volume. 

"Uit het Woord." (Out of the Word.) Second series, first volume ; That 

Grace Is Particular. 1884. 
"Yzer en Leem." (Iron and Clay.) Discourses. 1885. 
" Uit het Woord. " (Out of the Word.) Second volume : The Doctrine of 

the Covenants. 1885. 
"Uit het Woord." Third volume : The Practise of Godliness. 1886. 
"Het Dreigend Conflict." (The Conflict Threatening.) 1886. 
"Het Conflict Gekomen." (The Conflict Come.) Three vols., 1886. 
"Dr. Kuyper voor de Synode. " (Dr. Kuyper Before the Synod.) 1886. 
"Laatste Woord tot de Conscientie van de Leden der Synode." (Last 

Word to the Conscience of the Members of Synod.) On behalf of the 

persecuted members of the Consistory of Amsterdam. 1886. 
"Afwerping van het Juk der Synodale Hierarchic." (The Throwing Off 

of the Yoke of the Synodical Hierarchy.) 18S6. 
"Alzoozal het onder u niet. zyn." (It Shall Not bo So Among You.) 

" Eene ziel die zich Nederbuigt. " (A Prostrate Soul. ) Opening address 

of the Reformed Church Congress at Amsterdam. 18S7. 
"DeVerborgeu Dingen zyn voor den Heere Onzen God." (The Secret 

Things Belong to the Lord Our God.) 1887. 
"Sion Door Recht Verlost." (Zion Saved through Judgment.) 18S7. 
"DeVleeschwordingdes Woords. " (The Incarnation of the Word.) 1887. 
"Dagen van Goede Boodschap." (Days of Glad Tidings.) 1887. 
"Tweederlei Vaderland." (Two Fatherlands.) 1887. 
"Het Calvinisme en de Kunst." (Calvinism and Art.) 1888. 
"Dr. Gisberti Voetii Selectarum Disputationum Fasciculus." In the Bib- 

liotheca Reformat a 1888. 
"Het Work des Heihgen Geestes." (The Work of the Holy Spirit.) 

Three vols., 1889. 
"Homer voor den Sabbath." (Homer for the Sabbath.) Meditations on 

the Sabbath. 1889. 


"Niet de Vryheidsboom Maar het Kruis. " (Not the Tree of Liberty, but 

the Cross.) Opening address at the tenth annual meeting of the 

Deputies. 1889. 
" Eer is Teer." (Honor Is Tender.) 1889. 
"Handenarbeid." (Manual Labor.) 1889. 
"Scolastica." (The Secret of True Study. ) 1889. 
"Tractaat van den Sabbath." (Tractate on the Sabbath.) A historical 

dogmatic study. 1890. 
"Separatie en Doleantie." ("Secession and Doleantie." "Doleantie" — 

from doleo, to suffer pain, to mourn — is in Holland the historic name 

adopted by a body of Christians to designate the fact that they are 

either being persecuted by the State Church or have been expelled 

from its communion on account of their adherence to the orthodox 

confession.) 1890. 
"Zion's Roem en Sterkte." (Zion's Strength and Glory.) 1890. 
"De Twaalf Patriarchen." (The Twelve Patriarchs.) A study of Bible 

characters. 1890. 
"Eenige Kameradviezen. " (Chamber Advices.) Of the years 1874, 1875. 

" Is er Aan de Publieke Universiteit ten onzent Plaats voor eeue Facul- 

teit der Theologie?" (Is tbere Room in Our Public Universities for a 

Theological Faculty?) 1890. 
"Calvinism and Confessional Revision." In T/ie Presbyterian and Re- 
formed Review, July, 1891. 
"Voor een Distel een Mirt." (Instead of a Brier a Myrtle-Tree.) 1891. 
"Maranatha." Opening address at the meeting of Deputies. 1891. 
"Gedrachtslyn by de Stembus." (Line of Conduct at the Polls.) 1891. 
" Het Sociale Vraagstuk en de Christelyke Religie. " (The Social Question 

and the Christian Religion.) Opening address at the Social Congress. 

"De Verflauwing der Grenzen." (The Destruction of the Boundaries.) 

Address at the transfer of the Rectorate of the Free University. 1892. 
"In de Schaduwe des Doods. " (In the Shadows of Death.) Meditations 

for the sick-charaber and death-bed. 1893. 
" Encyclopsedie der Heilige Godgeleerdheid." (Encyclopedia of Sacred 

Theology.) Three vols. , 1894. 
"E Voto Dordraceno." Explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism. Four 

vols., 1894-95. 
Levinus W. C. Keuchenius, LL.D. Biography. 1896. 
"De Christus en de Sociale Nooden, en de Democratische Klippen." 

(Christ and the Social Needs and Democratic Dangers.) 1895. 
"Ultgave van de Statenvertaling van den Bybel." (Edition of the Au- 
thorized Version of the Bible. ) 1895. 


" De Zegen des Heeren over Onze Kerken. " (The Blessing of the Lord 
upon Our Churches.) 1896. 

"Vrouwen uit de Heilige Schrift." (Women of the Bible.) 1897, 

"Le Parti Antirevolutionaire." (The Anti-Revolutionary Party.) In 
Les Pay-Pas. Presented by the Dutch Society of Journalists to the 
foreign journalists at the inauguration of the Queen. 1898. 

"By de Gratie Gods." (By the Grace of God.) Address. 1898. 

"Calvinism." Six lectures delivered at Princeton. N. J., October. 1898. 
"Calvinism in History." "Calvinism and Religion." "Calvinism and 
Politics," "Calvinism and Science," "Calvinism and Art," "Calvinism 
and the Future." Published in Dutch. January, 1899. 

"Als gy in uw Huis Zit." (When Thou Sittest in Thine House.) Medita- 
tions for the Family. July, 1899. 

"Evolutie. " (Evolution.) Oration at the transfer of the rectorate of the 
Free University, October 20. 1899. 


By prof, benjamin B. WARFIELD, D.D.. LL.D., 
Of Princeton Theological Seminary. 

It is fortunately no longer necessary formally to introduce Dr. 
Kuyper to the American religious public. Quite a number of his 
remarkable essays have appeared of late years in our periodicals. 
These have borne such titles as " Calvinism in Art," " Calvinism the 
Source and Pledge of Our Constitutional Liberties," " Calvinism and 
Confessional Revision." "The Obliteration of Boundaries," "The 
Antithesis between Symbolism and Revelation "; and have appeared 
in the pages of such publications as Christian Thought, Bibliotheca 
Sacra, The Presbyterian and Reformed Review— not, we may be sure, 
without delighting their readers with the breadth of their treatment 
and the high and penetrating quality of their thought. The col- 
umns of The Christian Ititelligencer have from time to time during 
the last year been adorned with examples of Dr. Kuyper's practical 
expositions of Scriptural truth ; and now and again a brief but il- 
luminating discussion of a topic of present interest has appeared in 
the columns of The Independent. The appetite whetted by this taste 
of good things has been partially gratified by the publication in 
English of two extended treatises from his hand — one discussing in 
a singularly profound way the principles of " The Encyclopedia of 
Sacred Theology" (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898), and the other 
expounding with the utmost breadth and forcefulness the funda- 
mental principles of " Calvinism " (The Fleming H. Revell Company, 
1899). The latter volume consists of lectures delivered on " The 
L. P. Stone Foundation," at Princeton Theological Seminary in the 
autumn of 1898, and Dr. Kuyper's visit to America on this occasion 
brought him into contact with many lovers of high ideas in Amer- 
ica, and has left a sense of personal acquaintance with him on the 
minds of multitudes who had the good fortune to meet him or to 
hear his voice at that time. It is impossible for us to look longer 
upon Dr. Kuyper as a stranger, needing an introduction to our fa- 


vorable notice, when he appears again before us; he seems rather 
now to be one of our own prophets to whose message we have a 
certain right, and a new book from whose hands we welcome as 
we would a new gift from our near friend charged in a sense with 
care for our welfare. The book that is at present offered to the 
American public does not indeed come fresh from his hands. It 
has already been within the reach of his Dutch audience for more 
than a decade (it was published in 1888), It is only recently, how- 
ever, that Dr. Kuyper has come to belong to us also, and the pub- 
lication of this book in English, we may hope, is only another step 
in the process which will gradually make all his message ours. 

Certainly no one will turn over the pages of this volume — much 
less will he, as our Jewish friends would say, " sink himself into the 
book" — without perceiving that it is a very valuable gift which 
comes to us in it from our newly found teacher. It is, as will be at 
once observed, a comprehensive treatise on the Work of the Holy 
Ghost — a theme higher than which none can occupy the attention 
of the Christian man, and yet one on which really comprehensive 
treatises are comparatively rare. It is easy, to be sure, to exag- 
gerate the significance of the latter fact. There never was a time, 
of course, when Christians did not confess their faith in the Holy 
Ghost ; and there never was a time when they did not speak to one 
another of the work of the Blessed Spirit, the Executor of the God- 
head not only in the creation and upholding of the worlds and in 
the inspiration of the prophets and apostles, but also in the regen- 
erating and sanctifying of the soul. Nor has there ever been a 
time when, in the prosecution of its task of realizing mentally the 
treasures of truth put in its charge in the Scriptural revelation, the 
Church has not busied itself also with the investigation of the mys- 
teries of the person and work of the Spirit; and especially has there 
never been a time since that tremendous revival of religion which 
we call the Reformation when the whole work of the Spirit in the 
application of the redemption wrought out by Christ has not been 
a topic of the most thorough and loving study of Christian men. 
Indeed, it partly arises out of the very intensity of the study given 
to the saving activities of the Spirit that so few comprehensive 
treatises on the work of the Spirit have been written. The subject 
has seemed so vast, the ramifications of it have appeared so far- 
reaching, that few have had the courage to undertake it as a whole. 
Dogmaticians have, to be sure, been compelled to present the en- 


tire range of the matter in its appropriate place in their completed 
systems. But when monographs came to be written, they have 
tended to confine themselves to a single segment of the great cir- 
cle; and thus we have had treatises rather on, say, Regeneration, 
or Justification, or Sanctification, on the Anointing of the Spirit, or 
the Intercession of the Spirit, or the Sealing of the Spirit, than on 
the work of the Spirit as a whole. It would be a great mistake to 
think of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as neglected, merely be- 
cause it has been preferably presented under its several rubrics or 
parts, rather than in its entirety. How easily one may fall into 
such an error is fairly illustrated by certain criticisms that have 
been recently passed upon the Westminster Confession of Faith — 
which is (as a Puritan document was sure to be) very much a treat- 
ise on the work of the Spirit — as if it were deficient, in not having a 
chapter specifically devoted to " the Holy Spirit and His Work," 
The sole reason why it does not give a chapter to this subject, how- 
ever, is because it prefers to give nine chapters to it ; and when an 
attempt was made to supply the fancied omission, it was found that 
pretty much all that could be done was to present in the proposed 
new chapter a meager summary of the contents of these nine chap- 
ters. It would have been more plausible, indeed, to say that the 
Westminster Confession comparatively neglected the work of 
Christ, or even the work of God the Father. Similarly the lack in 
our literature of a large number of comprehensive treatises on the 
work of the Holy Spirit is in part due to the richness of our litera- 
ture in treatises on the separate portions of that work severally. The 
significance of Dr. Kuyper's book is, therefore, in part due only to 
the fact that he has had the courage to attack and the gifts success- 
fully to accomplish a task which few have possessed the breadth 
either of outlook or of powers to undertake. And it is no small gain 
to be able to survey the whole field of the work of the Holy Spirit 
in its organic unity under the guidance of so fertile, so systematic, 
and so practical a mind. If we can notlook upon it as breaking en- 
tirely new ground, or even say that it is the only work of its kind 
since Owen, we can at least say that it brings together the material 
belonging to this great topic with a systematizing genius that is 
very rare, and presents it with a penetrating appreciation of its 
meaning and a richness of apprehension of its relations that is ex- 
ceedingly illuminating. 

It is to be observed that we have not said without qualification 


that the comparative rarity of such comprehensive treatises on the 
work of the Holy Spirit as Dr. Kuyper's is due simply to the great- 
ness and difficulty of the task. "We have been careful to say that 
it is only in part due to this cause. It is only in the circles to 
which this English translation is presented, to say the truth, that 
this remark is applicable at all. It is the happiness of the Re- 
formed Christians of English speech that they are the heirs of what 
must in all fairness be spoken of as an immense literature upon this 
great topic ; it may even be said with some justice that the pecu- 
liarity of their theological labor turns just on the diligence and 
depth of their study of this locus. It is, it will be remembered, to 
John Owen's great " Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit" that 
Dr. Kuyper points as hitherto the normative treatise on the subject. 
But John Owen's book did not stand alone in his day and genera- 
tion, but was rather merely symptomatic of the engrossment of 
the theological thought of the circle of which he was so great an 
ornament in the investigation of this subject. Thomas Goodwin's 
treatise on " The Work of the Holy Ghost in Our Salvation " is well 
worthy of a place by its side ; and it is only the truth to say that 
Puritan thought was almost entirely occupied with loving study of 
the work of the Holy Spirit, and found its highest expression in dog- 
matico-practical expositions of the several aspects of it — of which 
such treatises as those of Charnock and Swinnerton on Regeneration 
are only the best-known examples among a multitude which have 
fallen out of memory in the lapse of years. For a century and a 
half afterward, indeed, this topic continued to form the hinge of 
the theologizing of the English Nonconformists. Nor has it lost 
its central position even yet in the minds of those who have the' 
best right to be looked upon as the successors of the Puritans. 
There has been in some quarters some decay, to be sure, in sure- 
ness of grasp and theological precision in the presentation of the 
subject; but it is possible that a larger number of practical treat- 
ises on some element or other of the doctrine of the Spirit continue 
to appear from the English press annually than on any other branch 
of divinity. Among these, such books as Dr. A. J. Gordon's " The 
Ministry of the Spirit," Dr. J. E. Cumming's "Through the Eternal 
Spirit," Principal H. C. G. Moule's " Veni Creator," Dr. Redford's 
" Vox Dei," Dr. Robson's " The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete," Dr. 
Vaughan's " The Gifts of the Holy Spirit" — to name only a few of 
the most recent books — attain a high level of theological clarity 


and spiritual power; while, if we may be permitted to go back only 
a few years, we may find in Dr. James Buchanan's " The Office and 
Work of the Holy Spirit," and in Dr. George Smeaton's " The Doc- 
trine of the Holy Spirit," two treatises covering the whole ground 
— the one in a more practical, the other in a more didactic spirit — 
in a manner worthy of the best traditions of our Puritan fathers. 
There has always been a copious stream of literature on the work of 
the Holy Spirit, therefore, among the English-speaking churches ; 
and Dr. Kuyper's book comes to us not as something of a novelty, 
but as a specially finely conceived and executed presentation of a 
topic on which we are all thinking. 

But the case is not the same in all parts of Christendom. If we 
lift our eyes from our own special condition and view the Church at 
large, it is a very dififerent spectacle that greets them. As we 
sweep them down the history of the Church, we discover that the 
topic of the work of the Holy Spirit was one which only at a late 
date really emerged as the explicit study of Christian men. As we 
sweep them over the whole extent of the modern Church, we dis- 
cover that it is a topic which appeals even yet with little force to very 
large sections of the Church. The povertj' of Continental theology 
in this locus is, indeed, after all is said and done, depressing. Note 
one or two little French books, by E. Guers and G. Tophel,* and a 
couple of formal studies of the New-Testament doctrine of the Spirit 
by the Dutch writers Stemler and Thoden Van Velzen, called out 
by The Hague Society — and we have before us almost the whole 
list of the older books of our century which pretend in any way 
to cover the ground. Nor has very much been done more recently 
to remedy the deficiency. The amazing theological activity of 
latter-day Germany has, to be sure, not been able to pass so fruit- 
ful a theme entirely by ; and her scholars have given us a few scien- 
tific studies of sections of the Biblical material. The two most 
significant of these appeared, indeed, in the same year with Dr. 
Kuyper's book — Gloel's " Der heilige Geist in des Heilsverkiindi- 
gung des Paulus," and Gunkel's " Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes 
nach d. popular. Anschauung der apostoHschen Zeit und der Lehre 
d. A. Paulus" (2d ed., 1899); these have been followed in the same 
spirit by Weienel in a work called " Die Wirkungen des Geistes und 

♦Guers' " Le Saint-Esprit : fetude Doctrinale et Practique " (1865); G. 
Tophel's "The Work of the Holy Spirit in Man" (E. T., 1S82), and also 
more recently " Le Saint-Esprit ; Cinq Nouvelles Etudes Bibliques " (1899) . 


der Geister im nachapostolischen Zeitalter" (1899); while a little 
earlier the Dutch theologian Beversluis issued a more comprehensive 
study, " De Heilige Geest en zijne werkingen volgens de Schriften 
des Nieuwen Verbonds" (1896). Their investigation of the Biblical 
material, however, is not only very formal, but it is also dominated 
by such imperfect theological presuppositions that it can carry the 
student scarcely a step forward. Very recently something better 
in this respect has appeared in such books as Th. Meinhold's " Der 
heilige Geist und sein Wirken am einzelnen Menschen, mit beson- 
derer Beziehung auf Luther" (1890, i2mo, pp. 228);* W. Kolling's 
" Pneumatologie, oder die Lehre von der Person des heiligen Geistes " 
1894, 8vo, pp. 368); Karl von Lechler's "Die biblische Lehre vom 
heiligenGeiste"(i899, 8vo, pp. 307); andK. F. Nosgen's" Geschichte 
von der Lehre vom heiligen Geiste" (1899, 8vo, pp. 376); — which 
it is to be hoped are the beginnings of a varied body of scholarly 
works from the Lutheran side, out of which may, after a while, 
grow some such comprehensive and many-sided treatment of the 
whole subject as that which Dr. Kuyper has given our Dutch breth- 
ren, and now us in this English translation. But none of them pro- 
vides the desired treatise itself, and it is significant that no one 
even professes to do so. Even where, as in the case of the books 
of Meinhold and von Lechler, the treatment is really topical, the 
author is careful to disclaim the purpose to provide a well-compacted, 
systematic view of the subject, by putting on his title-page a hint 
of a historical or exegetical point of view. 

In fact, only in a single instance in the whole history of German 
theological literature — or, we may say, prior to Dr. Kuyper in the 
entire history of continental theological literature — has any one had- 
the courage or found the impulse to face the task Dr. Kuyper has 
so admirably executed. We are referring, of course, to the great 
work on " Die Lehre vom heiligen Geiste," which was projected by 
that theological giant. K. A. Kahnis, but the first part of which 
only was published — in a thin volume of three hundred and fifty-six 
pages, in 1847. It was doubtless symptomatic of the state of feel- 
ing in Germany on the subject that Kahnis never found time or en- 
couragement in a long life of theological pursuits to complete his 

* Meinhold's book is mainly a Lutheran polemic in behalf of funda- 
mental princii^les, against the Ritschlian rationalism on this subject. As 
such its obverse is provided in the recent treatise of Rudolf Otto, " Die Au- 
schauung vom heiligen Geiste bei Luther " (1898). 


book. And, indeed, it was greeted in theological circles at the 
time with something like amused amazement that any one could 
devote so much time and labor to this theme, or expect others to find 
time and energy to read such a treatise. We are told that a well- 
known theologian remarked caustically of it that if things were to 
be carried out on that scale, no one could expect to live long enough 
to read the literature of his subject; and the similar remark made 
by C. Hase in the preface to the fifth edition of his " Dogmatic," tho 
it names no names, is said to have had Kahnis's book in view.* 
The significance of Kahnis's unique and unsuccessful attempt to 
provide for German Protestantism some worthy treatment of the 
doctrine of the Holy Spirit is so great that it will repay us to fix 
the facts concerning it well in our minds. And to this end we ex- 
tract the following account of it from the introduction of the work 
of von Lechler which we have just mentioned (p. 22 sgq.) : 

"We have to indicate, in conclusion, another circumstance in the his- 
tory of our doctrine, which is in its way just as significant for the attitude 
of present-day science toward this topic as was the silence of the first Ecu- 
menical Council concerning it for the end of the first theological age. It 
is the extraordinary poverty of monographs on the Holy Spirit. Altho 
there do exist some, and in some instances important, studies dealing 
with the subject, yet their number is out of all proportion to the greatness 
and the extent of the problems. We doubtless should not err in assu- 
ming that vital interest in a scientific question will express itself not 
merely in comprehensive handbooks and encyclopedic compendiums, the 
latter of which are especially forced to see to the completeness of the list 
of subjects treated, but of necessity also in those separate investigations in 
which especially the fresh vigor of youth is accustomed to make proof of its 
fitness for higher studies. What lacuncE we should have to regret in other 
branches of theological science if a rich development of monographic litera- 
ture did not range itself by the side of the compendiums, breaking out here 
and there new paths, laying deeper foundations, supplying valuable mate- 
rial for the constructive or decorative completion of the scientific structure ! 
All this, in the present instance, however, has scarcely made a beginning. 
The sole separate treatise which has been projected on a really profound 
and broad basis of investigation — the " Lehre vom heiligen Geiste " of K. 
A. Kahnis (then at Breslau), 1847 — came to a standstill with its first part. 
This celebrated theologian, who had certainly in his possession in surpri- 
sing measure the qualities and acquisitions that fitted him to come for- 
ward as a preparer of the way in this uncertain and little worthily studied 
subject, had set before himself the purpose of investigating this, as he him- 
self called it, ' extraordinarily neglected ' topic, at once on its Biblical, ec« 

* See Holtzmann in the Theolog. Liter aturzeitung of 1896, xxv., p. 646. 


clesiastical, historical, and dogmatic sides. The history of his book 
is exceedingly instructive and suggestive with respect to the topic itself. 
He found the subject, as he approached it more closely, in a very 
special degree a difficult one, chiefly on account of the manifoldness of the 
conception. At first his results became ever more and more negative. A 
controversy with the ' friends of light ' of the time helped him forward. 
Testiutn nubestnagts juvant, (jtiam luciferorum virorum importntia lu- 
mina. But God, he says, led him to greater clearness ; the doctrine of the 
Church approved itself to him. Nevertheless it was not his purpose to es- 
tablish the Scriptural doctrine in all its points, but only to exhibit the place 
which the Holy Spirit occupies in the development of the Word of God m the 
Old and New Testaments. There was a feeling that came to him that we 
were standing upon the eve of a new outpouring of the Spirit. But the 
wished-for dawn, he says, still held back. — His wide survey, beyond his 
special subject, of the whole domain of science in the corporate life of the 
Church, is characteristic no less of the subject than of the man. It was not 
given to him, however, to see the longed-for flood poured over the parched 
fields. His exegetical ' foundation ' (chaps, i.-iii.) moves in the old tracks. 
Since he shared essentially the subjective point of view of Schleiermacher 
and committed the final decision in the determining conceptions to philoso- 
phy, in spite of many remarkable flashes of insight into the Scriptures he 
remained fixed in the intellectualistic and ethical mode of conceiving the 
Holy Ghost, tho this was accompanied by many attempts to transcend 
Schleiermacher, but without the attaining of any unitary conception and 
without any effort to bring to a Scriptural solution the burning question of 
the personality or impersonality of the Spirit. The fourth chapter insti- 
tutes a comparison between the Spirit of Christianity and that of heathen- 
ism. The second book deals first with the relation of the Church to the 
Holy Spirit in general, and then enters upon a history of the doctrine, 
which is carried, however, only through the earliest fathers, and breaks off 
with a survey of the scanty harvest which the first age supplied to the suc- 
ceeding epochs, in which the richest development of the doctrine took 
place. Here the book closes. . . ."* 

Thus the only worthy attempt German theology has made to pro- 
duce a comprehensive treatise on the work of the Holy Ghost re- 
mains a neglected torso till to-day. 

If v^^e will gather up the facts to which we have thus somewhat de- 
sultorily called attention into a prepositional statement, we shall 
find ourselves compelled to recognize that the doctrine of the Holy 
Spirit was only slowly brought to the explicit consciousness of the 
Church, and has even yet taken a firm hold on the mind and con- 
sciousness of only a small section of the Church. To be more spe- 
cific, we shall need to note that the early Church busied itself with 
the investigation within the limits of this locus of only the doctrine 
* Compare the remarks of Dr. Smeaton, op. cit. , ed. 2, p. 396. 


of the person of the Holy Ghost — His deity and personality — and of 
His one function of inspirer of the prophets and apostles, while the 
whole doctrine of the work of the Spirit at large is a gift to the 
Church from the Reformation ; * and we shall need to note further 
that since its formulation by the Reformers this doctrine has taken 
deep root and borne its full fruits only in the Reformed churches, and 
among them in exact proportion to the loyalty of their adherence 
to, and the richness of their development of, the fundamental prin- 
ciples of the Reformed theology. Stated in its sharpest form this 
is as much as to say that the developed doctrine of the work of the 
Holy Spirit is an exclusively Reformation doctrine, and more 
particularly a Reformed doctrine, and more particularly still 
a Puritan doctrine. Wherever the fundamental principles of 
the Reformation have gone, it has gone ; but it has come to its 
full rights only among the Reformed churches, and among them 
only where what we have been accustomed to call " the Second 
Reformation " has deepened the spiritual life of the churches and 
cast back the Christian with special poignancy of feeling upon the 
grace of God alone as his sole dependence for salvation and all 
the goods of this life and the life to come. Indeed, it is possible to 
be more precise still. The doctrine of the work of the Holy 
spirit is a gift from John Calvin to the Church of Christ. He did 
not, of course, invent it. The whole of it lay spread out on the 
pages of Scripture with a clearness and fulness of utterance which 
one would think would secure that even he who ran should read it ; 
and doubtless he who ran did read it, and it has fed the soul of the 
true believer in all ages. Accordingly hints of its apprehension are 
found widely scattered in all Christian literature, and in particular 
the germs of the doctrine are spread broadcast over the pages 
of Augustine. Luther did not fail to lay hold upon them; 
Zwingli shows time and again that he had them richly in his 
mind ; they constituted, in very fact, one of the foundations of the 

* For the epoch-making character of the Reformation in the history of 
this doctrine cf. also Nosgen, op. cit., p. 2. "For its development, a divi- 
sion-line is provided simply and solely by the Reformation, and this merely 
because at that time only was attention intensely directed to the right 
mode of the application of salvation. Thus were the problems of the 
specially saving operation of the Holy Spirit, of the manner of His work- 
ing in the congpregation of believers cast into the foreground, and the theo- 
logical treatment of this doctrine made of ever-increasing importance to 
the Church of Christ, " etc. 


Reformation movement, or rather they provided its vital breath. 
But it was Calvin who first gave them anything like systematic or 
adequate expression ; and it is through him and from him that they 
have come to be the assured possession of the Church of Christ. 
There is no phenomenon in doctrinal history more astonishing than 
the commonly entertained views as to the contribution made by 
John Calvin to the development of Christian doctrine. He is thought 
of currently as the father of doctrines, such as that of predestination 
and reprobation, of which he was the mere heir, — taking them as 
wholes over from the hands of his great master Augustine. Mean- 
while his real personal contributions to Christian doctrine are utterly 
forgotten. These are of the richest kind and can not be enumer- 
ated here. But it is germane to our present topic to note that 
at their head stand three gifts of the first value to the Church's 
thought and life, which we should by no means allow to pass from 
our gfrateful memory. It is to John Calvin that we owe that broad 
conception of the work of Christ which is expressed in the doc- 
trine of His threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King; he was 
the first who presented the work of Christ under this schema, and 
from him it was that it has passed into a Christian commonplace. 
It is to John Calvin that we owe the whole conception of a science 
of " Christian Ethics"; he was the first to outline its idea and de- 
velop its principles and contents, and it remained a peculium of 
his followers for a century. And it is to John Calvin that we owe 
the first formulation of the doctrine of the work of the Holy Ghost; 
he himself gave it a very rich statement, developing it especially 
in the broad departments of "Common Grace" "Regeneration," 
and " the Witness of the Spirit"; and it is, as we have seen, among 
his spiritual descendants only that it has to this day received any 
adequate attention in the churches. We must guard ourselves, of 
course, from exaggeration in such a matter; the bare facts, when 
put forth without pausing to allow for the unimportant shadings, 
sound of themselves sufficiently like an exaggeration.* But it is 
simply true that these great topics received their first formulation 
at the hands of John Calvin ; and it is from him that the Church has 
derived them, and to him that it owes its thanks for them. 

*So, for example, a careless reading of pp. 65-77 of Pannier's "Le 
T^moignage du Saint-Esprit " gives the impression of exaggeration, where- 
as it is merely the suppression of all minor matters to emphasize the salient 
facts that is responsible for this effect. 


And if we pause to ask why the formulation of the doctrine of 
the work of the Spirit waited for the Reformation and for Calvin, 
and why the further working out of the details of this doctrine and its 
enrichment by the profound study of Christian minds and medita- 
tion of Christian hearts has come down from Calvin only to the Puri- 
tans, and from the Puritans to their spiritual descendants like the 
Free Church teachers of the Disruption era and the Dutch contest- 
ants for the treasures of the Reformed religion of our own day, the 
reasons are not far to seek. There is, in the first place, a regular 
order in the acquisition of doctrinal truth, inherent in the nature of 
the case, which therefore the Church was bound to follow in its grad- 
ual realization of the deposit of truth given it in the Scriptures ; and 
by virtue of this the Church could not successfully attack the task of 
assimilating and formulating the doctrine of the work of the Spirit 
until the foundations had been laid firmly in a clear grasp on yet 
more fundamental doctrines. And there are, in the next place, 
certain forms of doctrinal construction which leave no or only a 
meager place for the work of the personal Holy Spirit in the heart; 
and in the presence of these constructions this doctrine, even where 
in part apprehended and acknowledged, languishes and falls out of 
the interest of men. The operation of the former cause postponed 
the development of the doctrine of the work of the Spirit until the 
way was prepared for it ; and this preparation was complete only 
at the Reformation. The operation of the second cause has re- 
tarded where it has not stifled the proper assimilation of the doctrine 
in many parts of the Church until to-day. 

To be more specific. The development of the doctrinal system 
of Christianity in the apprehension of the Church has actually run 
through — as it theoretically should have run through — a regular 
and logical course. First, attention was absorbed in the contem- 
plation of the objective elements of the Christian deposit, and 
only afterward were the subjective elements taken into fuller con- 
sideration. First of all it was the Christian doctrine of God that 
forced itself on the attention of men, and it was not until the 
doctrine of the Trinity had been thoroughly assimilated that at- 
tention was vigorously attracted to the Christian doctrine of the 
God-man ; and again, it was not until the doctrine of the Person 
of Christ was thoroughly assimilated that attention was poignantly 
attracted to the Christian doctrine of sin — man's need and helpless- 
ness ; and only after that had been wrought fully out again could 


attention turn to the objective provision to meet man's needs in 
the work of Christ; and again, only after that to the subjective pro- 
vision to meet his needs in the work of the Spirit. This is the log- 
ical order of development, and it is the actual order in which the 
Church has slowly and amid the throes of all sorts of conflicts — 
with the world and with its own slowness to believe all that the 
prophets have written — worked its way into the whole truth re- 
vealed to it in the Word. The order is, it will be observed, The- 
ology, Christology, Anthropology (Hamartialogy), Impetration of 
Redemption, Application of Redemption; and in the nature of the 
case the topics that fall under the rubric of the application of 
redemption could not be solidly investigated until the basis had 
been laid for them in the assimilation of the preceding topics. We 
have connected the great names of Athanasius and his worthy 
successors who fought out the Christological disputes, of Augustine 
and of Anselm, with the precedent stages of this development. It 
was the leaders of the Reformation who were called on to add the 
capstone to the structure by working out the facts as to the applica- 
tion of redemption to the soul of man through the Holy Spirit. 
Some elements of the doctrine of the Spirit are indeed implicated 
in earlier discussions. For example, the deity and personality of the 
Spirit — the whole doctrine of His person — was a part of the doctrine 
of the Trinity, and this accordingly became a topic for early debate, 
and patristic literature is rich in discussions of it. The authority of 
Scripture was fundamental to the whole doctrinal discussion, and 
the doctrine of the inspiration of the prophets and apostles by the 
Spirit was therefore asserted from the beginning with great empha- 
sis. In the determination of man's need in the Pelagian controversy 
much was necessarily determined about " Grace," — its necessity, its 
prevenience, its efficacy, its indefectibility, — and in this much was 
anticipated of what was afterward to be more orderly developed 
in the doctrine of the interior work of the Spirit ; and accordingly 
there is much in Augustine which preadumbrates the determination 
of later times. But even in Augustine there is a vagueness and 
tentativeness in the treatment of these topics which advises us that 
while the facts relatively to man and his needs and the methods of 
God's working upon him to salvation are firmly grasped, these same 
facts relatively to the personal activities of the Spirit as yet await 
their full assimilation. Another step had yet to be taken : the 
Church needed to wait yet for Anselm to set on foot the final de- 


termination of the doctrine of a vicarious atonement; and only 
when time had been given for its assimilation, at length men's 
minds were able to take the final step. Then Luther rose to pro- 
claim justification by faith, and Calvin to set forth with his marvel- 
ous balance the whole doctrine of the work of the Spirit in applying 
salvation to the soul. In this matter, too, the fulness of the times 
needed to be waited for; and when the fulness of the times came 
the men were ready for their task and the Church was ready for 
their work. And in this collocation we find a portion of the secret 
of the immense upheaval of the Reformation. 

Unfortunately, however, the Church was not ready in all its parts 
alike for the new step in doctrinal development. This was, of 
course, in the nature of the case : for the development of doctrine 
takes place naturally in a matrix of old and hardened partial concep- 
tions, and can make its way only by means of a conflict of opinion. 
All Arians did not disappear immediately after the Council of Nice ; 
on the contrary, for an age they seemed destined to rule the Church. 
The decree of Chalcedon did not at once quiet all Christological de- 
bate, or do away with all Christological error. There were remain- 
ders of Pelagianism that outlived Augustine ; and indeed that after 
the Synod of Orange began to make headway against the truth. 
Anselm's construction of the atonement only slowly worked its way 
into the hearts of men. And so, when Calvin had for the first time for- 
mulated the fuller and more precise doctrine of the work of the Spirit, 
there were antagonistic forces in the world which crowded upon it 
and curtailed its influence and clogged its advance in the apprehen- 
sion of men. In general, these may be said to be two : the sacerdotal 
tendency on the one hand and the libertarian tendency on the other. 
The sacerdotal tendency was entrenched in the old Church ; from 
which the Reformers were extruded indeed by the very force of the 
new leaven of their individualism of spiritual life. That Church was 
therefore impervious to the newly formulated doctrine of the work 
of the Spirit. To it the Church was the depository of grace, the sac- 
raments were its indispensable vehicle, and the administration of it 
lay in the hands of human agents. Wherever this sacramentarian- 
ism went, in however small a measure, it tended so far to distract 
men's attention from the Spirit of God and to focus it on the 7nedia of 
His working; and wherever it has entrenched itself, there the study 
of the work of the Spirit has accordingly more or less languished. 
It is easy indeed to say that the Spirit stands behind the sacraments 


and is operative in the sacraments ; as a matter of fact, the sacra- 
ments tend, in all such cases, to absorb the attention, and the theo- 
retical explanations of their efficacy as vested in the Spirit's energy 
tend to pass out of the vivid interest of men. The libertarian 
tendency, on the other hand, was the nerve of the old semi-Pelagi- 
anism vv^hich in Thomism and Tridentinism became in a modified 
form the formal doctrine of the Church of Rome ; and in various 
forms it soon began to seep also into and to trouble the churches 
of the Reformation — first the Lutheran and after that also the Re- 
formed. To it, the will of man was in greater or less measure the 
decisive factor in the subjective reception of salvation; and in pro- 
portion as it was more or less developed or more or less fully ap- 
plied, interest in the doctrine of the subjective work of the Spirit 
languished, and in these circles too men's minds were to that degree 
distracted from the study of the doctrine of the work of the Spirit, 
and tended to focus themselves on the autocracy of the human will 
and its native or renewed ability to obey God and seek and find com- 
munion with Him. No doubt here too it is easy to point to the func- 
tion which is still allowed the Spirit, in most at least of the theo- 
logical constructions on this basis. But the practical effect has been 
that just in proportion as the autocracy of the human will in salva- 
tion has been emphasized, the interest in the internal work of the 
Spirit has declined. When we take into consideration the wide- 
spread influence that has been attained even in the Protestant 
world by these two antagonistic tendencies, we shall cease to wonder 
at the widespread neglect that has befallen the doctrine of the work of 
the Spirit. And we shall have prosecuted our inquiry but a little 
way before we become aware how entirely these facts account for 
the phenomena before us : how completely it is true that interest in 
the doctrine of the work of the Spirit has failed just in those regions 
and just in those epochs in which either sacramentarian or libertarian 
opinions have ruled; and how true it is that engagement with this 
doctrine has been intense only along the banks of that narrow 
stream of religious life and thought the keynote of which has been 
the soli Deo gloria in all its fulness of meaning. With this key 
in hand the mysteries of the history of this doctrine in the Church 
are at once solved for us. 

One of the chief claims to our attention which Dr. Kuyper's 
book makes, therefore, is rooted in the fact that it is a product of a 
great religious movement in the Dutch churches. This is not the 


place to give a history of that movement. We have all watched it 
with the intensest interest, from the rise of the Free Churches to 
the union with them of the new element from the Doleantie. We 
have lacked no proof that it was a movement of exceptional spir- 
itual depth; but had there lacked any such proof, it would be 
supplied by the appearance of this book out of its heart. Wher- 
ever men are busying themselves with holy and happy meditations 
on the Holy Ghost and His work, it is safe to say the foundations 
of a true spiritual life are laid, and the structure of a rich spiritual 
life is rising. The mere fact that a book of this character offers it- 
self as one of the products of this movement attracts us to it ; and 
the nature of the work itself — its solidity of thought and its depth 
of spiritual apprehension — brightens our hopes for the future of 
the churches in which it has had its birth. Only a spiritually 
minded Church provides a soil in which a literature of the Spirit 
can grow. There are some who will miss in the book what they 
are accustomed to call "scientific" character;* it has no lack cer- 
tainly of scientific exactitude of conception, and if it seems to any 
to lack " scientific " form, it assuredly has a quality which is better 
than anything that even a "scientific" form could give it — it is a 
religious book. It is the product of a religious heart, and it leads 
the reader to a religious contemplation of the great facts of the 
Spirit's working. May it bring to all, into whose hands it finds its 
way in this fresh vehicle of a new language, an abiding and happy 
sense of rest on and in God the Holy Ghost, the Author and Lord 
of all life, to whom in our heart of hearts we may pray: 

" Veni, Creator Spiritus^ 
Spiritus recreator, 
Tu deus, tu datus ccelitus, 
Tu donutn, tu donator." 

Princeton Theological Seminary, 
April 23, 1900. 

*Thus Beversluis, op. cit., speaks of it as Dr. Kuyper's bulky book, 
which "has no scientific value," the it is full of fine passages auO 
treats the subject in a many-sided way. 




The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church 
as a Whole 

Ipirst Cbapter, 

Careful Treatment Required. 

" Who hath also given unto us His Holy 
Spirit." — I Thess. iv. 8. 

The need of divine guidance is never more deeply felt than when 
one undertakes to give instruction in the work of the Holy Spirit — 
so unspeakably tender is the subject, touching the inmost secrets of 
God and the soul's deepest mysteries. 

We shield instinctively the intimacies of kindred and friends 
from intrusive observation, and nothing hurts the sensitive heart 
more than the rude exposure of that which should not be unveiled, 
being beautiful only in the retirement of the home circle. Greater 
delicacy befits our approach to the holy mystery of our soul's inti- 
macy with the living God. Indeed, we can scarcely find words to 
express it, for it touches a domain far below the social life where 
language is formed and usage determines the meaning of words. 

Glimpses of this life have been revealed, but the greater part 
has been withheld. It is like the life of Him who did not cry, nor 
lift up nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. And that 
which was heard was whispered rather than spoken — a soul-breath, 
soft but voiceless, or rather a radiating of the soul's own blessed 
warmth. Sometimes the stillness has been broken by a cry or a 
raptured shout ; but there has been mainly a silent working, a min- 
istering of stern rebuke or of sweet comfort by that wonderful 
Being in the Holy Trinity whom with stammering tongue we adore 
as the Holy Spirit. 

Spiritual experience can furnish no basis for instruction; for 
such experience rests on that which took place in our own soul. 


Certainly this has value, influence, voice in the matter. But what 
guarantees correctness and fidelity in interpreting such experience? 
And again, how can we distinguish its various sources — from our- 
selves, from without, or from the Holy Spirit? The twofold ques- 
tion will ever hold : Is our experience shared by others, and may 
it not be vitiated by what is in us sinful and spiritually abnormal? 

Altho there is no subject in whose treatment the soul inclines 
more to draw upon its own experience, there is none that demands 
more that our sole source of knowledge be the Word given us by 
the Holy Spirit. After that, human experience may be heard, at- 
testing what the lips have confessed ; even affording glimpses into 
the Spirit's blessed mysteries, which are unspeakable and of which 
the Scripture therefore does not speak. But this can not be the 
ground of instruction to others. 

The Church of Christ assuredly presents abundant spiritual utter- 
ance in hymn and spiritual song; in homilies hortatory and conso- 
ling; in sober confession or outbursts of souls wellnigh overwhelmed 
by the floods of persecution and martyrdom. But even this can not 
be the foundation of knowledge concerning the work of the Holy 

The following reasons will make this apparent : 

First, The difficulty of discriminating between the men and 
women whose experience we consider pure and healthy, and those 
whose testimony we put aside as strained and unhealthful. Luther 
frequently spoke of his experience, and so did Caspar Schwenkfeld, 
the dangerous fanatic. But what is our warrant for approving the 
utterances of the great Reformer and warning against those of the 
Silesian nobleman? For evidently the testimony of the two men 
can not be equally true. Luther condemned as a lie what Schwenk- 
feld commended as a highly spiritual attainment. 

Second, The testimony of believers presents only the dim out- 
lines of the work of the Holy Spirit. Their voices are faint as com- 
ing from an unknown realm, and their broken speech is intelligible 
only when we, initiated by the Holy Spirit, can interpret it from 
our own experience. Otherwise we hear, but fail to understand; 
we listen, but receive no information. Only he that hath ears can 
hear what the Spirit has spoken secretly to these children of God. 

Third, Among those Christian heroes whose testimony we receive, 
some speak clearly, truthfully, forcibly, others confusedly as tho 
they were groping in the dark. Whence the difference? Closer 


examination shows that the former have borrowed all their speech 
from the Word of God, while the others tried to add to it something 
novel that promised to be great, but proved only bubbles, quickly 
dissolved, leaving no trace. 

Last, When, on the other hand, in this treasury of Christian testi- 
mony we find some truth better developed, more clearly expressed, 
more aptly illustrated than in Scripture; or, in other words, when 
the ore of the Sacred Scripture has been melted in the crucible of 
the mortal anguish of the Church of God, and cast into more per- 
manent forms, then we always discover in such forms certain _/?!xv</ 
fyj>es. Spiritual life expresses itself otherwise among the eamest- 
souled Lapps and Finns than among the light-hearted French. The 
rugged Scotchman pours out his overflowing heart in a different way 
from that of the emotional German. 

Yea, more striking still, some preacher has obtained a marked 
influence upon the souls of men of a certain locality ; an exhorter 
has got hold of the hearts of the people ; or some mother in Israel 
has sent forth her word among her neighbors; and what do we dis- 
cover? That in that whole region we meet no other expressions of 
spiritual life than those coined by that preacher, that exhorter, that 
mother in Israel. This shows that the language, the very words and 
forms in which the soul expresses itself, are largely borrowed, and 
spring but rarely from one's own spiritual consciousness ; and so do 
not insure the correctness of their interpretation of the soul's ex- 

And when such heroes as Augustine, Thomas, Luther, Calvin, 
and others present us something strikingly original, then we en- 
counter difficulty in understanding their strong and vigorous testi- 
mony. For the individuality of these choice vessels is so marked 
that, unless sifted and tested, we can not fully comprehend them. 

All this shows that the supply of knowledge concerning the work 
of the Holy Spirit, which, judging superficially, was to gush forth 
from the deep wells of Christian experience, yields but a few drops. 

Hence for the knowledge of the subject we must return to that 
wondrous Word of God which as a mystery of mysteries lies still 
uncomprehended in the Church, seemingly dead as a stone, but a 
stone that strikes fire. Who has not seen its scintillating sparks? 
Where is the child of God whose heart has not been kindled by the 
fire of that Word? 


But Scripture sheds scant light on the work of the Holy Spirit. 
For proof, see how much the Old Testament says of the Messiah 
and how comparatively little of the Holy Spirit. The little circle 
of saints, Mary, Simeon, Anna, John, who, standing in the vesti- 
bule of the New Testament, could scan the horizon of the Old 
Testament revelation with a glance — how much they knew of the 
Person of the Promised Deliverer, and how little of the Holy 
Spirit! Even including all the New Testament teachings, how 
scanty is the light upon the work of the Holy Spirit compared with 
that upon the work of Christ! 

And this is quite natural, and could not be otherwise, for Christ 
is the Word made Flesh, having visible, well-defined form, in which 
we recognize our own, that of a man, whose outlines follow the di- 
rection of our own being. Christ can be seen and heard ; once men's 
hands could even handle the Word of Life. But the Holy Spirit is 
entirely different. Of Him nothing appears in visible form; He 
never steps out from the intangible void. Hovering, undefined, 
incomprehensible, He remains a mystery. He is as the wind! We 
hear its sound, but can not tell whence it cometh and whither it 
goeth. Eye can not see Him, ear can not hear Him, much less the 
hand handle Him. There are, indeed, symbolic signs and appear- 
ances: a dove, tongues of fire, the sound of a rushing, mighty 
wind, a breathing from the holy lips of Jesus, a laying on of hands, 
a speaking with foreign tongfues. But of all this nothing remains ; 
nothing lingers behind, not even the trace of a footprint. And 
after the signs have disappeared, His being remains just as puz- 
zling, mysterious, and distant as ever. So almost all the divine in- 
struction concerning the Holy Spirit is likewise obscure, intelligible 
only so far as He makes it clear to the eye of the favored soul. 

We know that the same may be said of Christ's work, whose 
real import is apprehended solely by the spiritually enlightened, 
who behold the eternal wonders of the Cross. And yet what won- 
derful fascination is there even for a little child in the story of the 
manger in Bethlehem, of the Transfiguration, of Gabbatha and 
Golgotha. How easily can we interest him by telling of the 
heavenly Father who numbereth the hairs of his head, arrayeth the 
lilies of the field, feedeth the sparrows on the house-top. But is it 
possible so to engage his attention for the Person of the Holy 
Spirit? The same is true of the unregenerate : they are not unwill- 
ing to speak of the heavenly Father ; many speak feelingly of the 


Manger and of the Cross. But do they ever speak of the Holy 
Spirit? They can not; the subject has no hold upon them. The 
Spirit of God is so holily sensitive that naturally He withdraws from 
the irreverent gaze of the uninitiated. 

Christ has fully revealed Himself. It was the love and divine 
compassion of the Son. But the Holy Spirit has not done so. It 
is His saving faithfulness to meet us only in the secret place of His 

This causes another difficulty. Because of His unrevealed char- 
acter the Church has taught and studied the Spirit's work much 
less than Christ's, and has attained much less clearness in its theo- 
logical discussion. We might say, since He gave the Word and 
illuminated the Church, He spoke much more of the Father and the 
Son than of Himself; not as tho it had been selfish to speak more 
of Himself — for sinful selfishness is inconceivable in regard to Him — 
but He must reveal the Father and the Son before He could lead us 
into the more intimate fellowship with Himself. 

This is the reason that there is so little preaching on the subject ; 
that text-books on Systematic Theology rarely treat it separately ; 
that Pentecost (the feast of the Holy Spirit) appeals to the churches 
and animates them much less than Christmas or Easter, that un- 
happily many ministers, otherwise faithful, advance many erro- 
neous view^s upon this subject — a fact of which they and the 
churches seem unconscious. 

Hence special discussion of the theme deserves attention. 

That it requires great caution and delicate treatment need not 
be said. It is our prayer that the discussion may evince such great 
care and caution as is required, and that our Christian readers may 
receive our feeble efforts with that love which suffereth long. 


Two Standpoints. 

" By the word of the Lord were the heavens 
made ; and all the host of them by the 
breath of His mouth." — Psalm xxxiii. 6. 

The work of the Holy Spirit that most concerns us is the renew- 
ing of the elect after the ijnage of God. And this is not all. It even 
savors of selfishness and irreverence to make this so prominent, as 
tho it were His only work. 

The redeemed.are not sanctified without Christ, who is made to 
them sanctification ; hence the work of the Spirit must embrace the 
Incarnation of the Word and the work of the Messiah. But the work 
of Messiah involves preparatory working in the Patriarchs and 
Prophets of Israel, and later activity in the Apostles, i.e., the fore- 
shadowing of the Eternal Word in Scripture. Likewise this revela- 
tion involves the conditions of man's nature and the historical de- 
velopment of the race; hence the Holy Spirit is concerned in the 
formation of the human mind and the unfolding of the spirit of 
humanity. Lastly, man's condition depends on that of the earth; 
the influences of sun, moon, and stars ; the elemental motions ; and 
no less on the actions of spirits, be they angels or demons from 
other spheres. Wherefore the Spirit's work must touch the entire 
host of heaven and earth. 

To avoid a mechanical idea of His work as tho it began and 
ended at random, like piece-work in a factory, it must not be deter- 
mined nor limited till it extends to all the influences that affect the 
sanctification of the Church. The Holy Spirit is God, therefore 
sovereign ; hence He can not depend on these influences, but com- 
pletely controls them. For this He must be able to operate them ; 
so His work must be honored /// all the host of heaven, in man and in 
his history, in the preparation of Scripture, in the Incarnation of tJie 
Word, in the salvation of the elect. 

But this is not all. The final salvation of the elect is not the 


last link in the chain of events. The hour that completes their re- 
demption will be the hour of reckoning for all creation. The Bib- 
lical revelation of Christ's return is not a mere pageant closing this 
preliminary dispensation, but the great and notable event, the con- 
summation of all before, the catastrophe whereby all that is shall 
receive its due. 

In that great and notable day the elements with commotion and 
awful change shall be combined into a new heaven and earth, i.e., 
out of these burning elements shall emerge the real beauty and 
glory of God's original purpose. Then all ill, misery, plague, 
every thing unholy, every demon, every spirit turned against God 
shall become truly hellish ; that is, every thing ungodly shall re- 
ceive its due, i.e., a world in which sin has absolute sway. For 
what is hell other than a realm in which unholiness works without 
restraint in body and soul? Then man's personality will recover 
the unity destroyed by death, and God will grant His redeemed the 
fruition of that blest hope confessed on earth amid conflict and 
affliction in the words: " I believe in the resurrection of the body." 
Then shall Christ triumph over every power of Satan, sin, and 
death, and thus receive His due as the Christ. Then wheat and 
tares shall be separated ; the mingling shall cease, and the hope of 
God's people become sight ; the martyr shall be in rapture and his 
executioner in torment. Then, too, shall the veil be drawn from 
the Jerusalem that is above. The clouds shall be dispelled that 
kept us from seeing that God was righteous in all His judgments; 
then the wisdom and glory of all His counsels shall be vindicated 
both by Satan and his own in the pit, and by Christ and His re-, 
deemed in the city of our God, and the Lord be glorious in all His 

Thus radiating from the sanctification of the redeemed, we see 
the work of the Spirit embracing in past ages the Incarnation, the 
preparation of Scripture, the forming of man and the universe ; and, 
extending into the ages, the Lord's return, the final judgment, and 
that last cataclysm that shall separate heaven from hell forever. 

This standpoint precludes our viewing the work of the Spirit 
from that of the salvation of the redeemed. Our spiritual horizon 
widens; for the chief thing is not that the elect be fully saved, but 
that God be justified in all His works and glorified through judgment. 
To all who acknowledge that " He that believeth not on the Son 



shall not see life, but the wrath of God abiding on him," this must 
be the only true standpoint. 

If we subscribe this awful statement, not having lost our way in 
the labyrinth of a so-called conditional immortality, which actually 
annihilates man, then how can we dream of a state of perfect bliss 
for the elect as long as the lost ones are being tormented by the 
worm that dieth not? Is there no more love or compassion in our 
hearts? Can we fancy ourselves for a single moment enjoying 
heaven's bliss while the fire is not quenched and no lighted torch is 
carried into the outer darkness? 

To make the bliss of the elect the final end of all things while 
Satan still roars in the bottomless pit is to annihilate the very 
thought of such bliss. Love suffers not only when a human being 
is in pain, but even when an animal is in distress ; how much more 
when an angel gnashes his teeth in torture, and that angel beautiful 
and glorious as Satan was before his fall. And yet the very men- 
tion of Satan unconsciously lifts from our hearts the burden of 
fellow pain, suffering, and compassion; for we feel immediately 
that the knowledge of Satan's suffering in the pit does not in the 
least appeal to our compassion. On the contrary, to believe that 
Satan exists but not in utter misery were a wound to our profound 
sense of justice. 

And this is the point : to conceive of the blessedness of a soul 
not in absolute union with Christ is unholy madness. No one but 
Christ is blessed, and no man can be blessed but he who is vitally 
one with Christ — Christ in him and he in Christ. Equally it is un- 
holy madness to conceive of man or angel lost in hell unless he has 
identified himself with Satan, having become morally one with him. 
The conception of a soul in hell not morally one with Satan is the 
most appalling cruelty from which every noble heart recoils with 

Every child of God is furious at Satan. Satan is simply unbear- 
able to him. In his inward man (however unfaithful his nature 
may be) there is bitter enmity, implacable hatred against Satan. 
Hence it satisfies our holiest conscience to know that Satan is in the 
bottomless pit. To encourage a plea for him in the heart were 
treason against God. Sharp agony may pierce his soul like a dag- 
ger for the unspeakable depth of his fall, yet as Satan, author of all 
that is demoniac and fiendish, who has bruised the heel of the Son 
of God, he can never move our hearts. 


Why? What is the sole, deep reason why as regards Satan com- 
passion is dead, hatred is right, and love would be blameworthy? 
Is it not that we never can look upon Satan without remembering 
that he is the adversary of our God, the mortal enemy of our 
Christ? Were it not for that we might weep for him. But now 
our allegiance to God tells us that such weeping would be treason 
against our King. 

Only by measuring the end of things by what belongs to God 
can we stand right in this matter. We can view the matter of the 
redeemed and the lost from the right standpoint only when we 
subordinate both to that which is highest, i.e., the glory of God. 
Measured by Him, we can conceive of the redeemed in a state of 
bliss, enthroned, yet not in danger of pride ; since it was and is and 
ever shall be by His sovereign grace alone. But also measured by 
Him, we can think of those identified with Satan, joyless and mis- 
erable, without once hurting the sense of justice in the heart of the 
upright; for to be mercifully inclined toward Satan is impossible to 
him who loves God with love deep and everlasting. And such i.s 
the love of the redeemed. 

Considered from this far superior standpoint, the work of the 
Holy Spirit necessarily assumes a different aspect. Now we can 
no more say that His work is the sanctification of the elect, with all 
that precedes and follows; but we confess that it is the vindication 
of the counsel of God with all that pertains thereto, from the creation 
and throughout the ages, unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and onward throughout eternitj', both in heaven and in hell. 

The difference between these two viewpoints can easily be ap- 
preciated. According to the first, the work of the Holy Spirit is 
only subordinate. Unfortunately man is fallen; hence he is dis- 
eased. Since he is impure and unholy, even subject to death it- 
self, the Holy Spirit must purify and sanctify him. This implies, 
first, that had man not sinned the Holy Spirit would have had no 
work. Second, that when the work of sanctification is finished. His 
activity will cease. According to the correct viewpoint, the work 
of the Spirit is continuous and perpetual, with the crea- 
tion, continuing throughout eternity, begun even before sin first 

It may be objected that some time ago the author emphatically 
opposed the idea that Christ would have come into the world even 


if sin had not entered in; and that now he affirms with equal em- 
phasis that the Holy Spirit would have wrought in the world and 
in man if the latter had remained sinless. 

The answer is very simple. If Christ had not appeared in His 
capacity of Messiah, He would have had, as the Son, the Second 
Person in the Godhead, His own divine sphere of action, seeing 
that all things consist through Him. On the contrary, if the work 
of the Holy Spirit were confined to the sanctification of the re- 
deemed, He would be absolutely inactive if sin had not entered 
into the world. And since this would be equal to a denial of His 
Godhead, it can not for a moment be tolerated. 

By occupying this superior viewpoint, we apply to the work 
of the Holy Spirit the fundamental principle of the Reformed 
churches : " That all things must be measured by the glory of 


The Indwelling- and Outgoing Works of God. 

"And all the host of them by the breath 
of His mouth." — Psalm xxxiii. 6. 

The thorough and clear-headed theologians of the most flourish- 
ing periods of the Church used to distinguish between the indwell- 
ing and outgoing works of God. 

The same distinction exists to some extent in nature. The lion 
watching his prey differs widely from the lion resting among his 
whelps. See the blazing eye, the lifted head, the strained muscles 
and panting breath. One can see that the crouching lion is labor- 
ing intensely. Yet the act is now only in contemplation. The 
heat and the ferment, the nerve-tension are all within. A terrible 
deed is about to be done, but it is still under restraint, until he 
pounces with thundering roar upon his unsuspecting victim, bury- 
ing his fangs deep into the quivering flesh. 

We find the same distinction in finer form among men. When a 
storm has raged at sea, and the fate of the absent fishing-smacks 
that are expected to return with the tide is uncertain, a fisher- 
man's awe-stricken wife sits on the brow of the sand-hill watching 
and waiting in speechless suspense. As she waits, her heart and 
soul labor in prayer; the nerves are tense, the blood runs fast, and 
breathing is almost suspended. Yet there is no outward act; only 
labor within. But on the safe return of the smacks, when she sees 
her own, her burdened heart finds relief in a cry of joy. 

Or, taking examples from the more ordinary walks of life, com- 
pare the student, the scholar, the inventor thinking out his new 
invention, the architect forming his plans, the general studying his 
opportunities, the sturdy sailor nimbly climbing the mast of his 
ship, or yonder blacksmith raising the sledge to strike the glowing 
iron upon the anvil with concentrated muscular force. Judging 
superficially, one would say the blacksmith and sailor work, but 
the men of learning are idle. Yet he that looks beneath the sur- 


face knows better than this. For if those men perform no apparent 
manual labor, they work with brain, nerve, and blood; yet since 
those organs are more delicate than hand or foot, their invisible, 
indwelling work is much more exhausting. With all their labor 
the blacksmith and sailor are pictures of health, while the men of 
mental force, apparently idle among their folios, are pale from ex- 
haustion, their vitality being almost consumed by their intense 

Applying this distinction without its human limitations to the 
works of the Lord, we find that the outgoing works of God had 
their beginning when God created the heavens and the earth; and 
that before that moment which marks the birth of time, nothing 
existed but God working within Himself. Hence this twofold 
operation : The first, externally manifest, known to us in the acts 
of creating, upholding, and directing all things — acts that, compared 
to those of eternity, seem to have begun but yesterday ; for what are 
thousands of years in the presence of the eternal ages? '^\iq second, 
behind and underneath the first — an operation not begun nor ended, 
but eternal like Himself; deeper, richer, fuller, yet not manifested, 
hidden within Him, which we therefore designate indwelling. 

Altho these two operations can scarcely be separated — for there 
never was one manifest without which was not first completed ^vith- 
in — yet the difference is strongly marked and easily recognized. 
The indwelling works of God are from eternity, the outgoing belong 
to ti/ne. The former precede, the latter fiollow. The foundation of 
that which becomes visible lies in that which remains invisible. The 
light itself is hidden, it is the radiation only that appears. 

The Scripture, speaking of the indwelling works of God.'says: 
" The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, and the thoughts of 
His heart to all generations" (Psalm xxiii. 1 1). Since in God heart 
and thought have no separate existence, but His undivided Essence 
thinks, feels, and wills, we learn from this significant passage that 
the Being of God works in Himself from all eternity. This answers 
the oft-repeated and foolish question, " What did God do before 
He created the universe?" which is as as to ask 
what the thinker did before he expressed his thoughts, or the 
architect before he built the house ! 

God's indwelling works, which are from everlasting to everlast- 
ing, are not insignificant, but surpass His outgoing works in depth 
and strength as the student's thinking and the sufferer's anguish 


surpass their strongest utterances in intensity. " Could I but 
weep," says the afflicted one, " how much more easily could I bear 
my son-ow!" And what are tears but the outward expression of 
grief, relieving the pain and strain of the heart? Or think of the 
child-^^ar/Vi!^ of the mother before delivery. It is said of the de- 
cree that it hath " brought forth" (Zeph. ii. 2), which signifies that 
the phenomenon is only the result of preparation hidden from the 
eye, but more real than the production, and without which there 
would be nothing to bring forth. 

Thus the expression of our earlier theologians is justified, and 
the difference between the indwelling and the outgoing works is 

Accordingly the indwelling works of God are the activities of His 
Being, without the distinction of Persons; while His outgoing 
works admit and to some extent demand this distinction: e.g., 
the common and well-known distinguishing of the Father's work 
as that of creation, the Son's as that of redemption, and the Holy 
Spirit's as that of sanctification relates only to God's outgoing 
works. While these operations — creation, redemption, and sanctifi- 
cation — are hidden in the thoughts of His heart. His counsel, and His 
Being, it is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost who creates, Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost who redeems. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost who 
sanctifies, without any division or distinction of activities. The 
rays of light hidden in the sun are indivisible and indistinguishable 
until they radiate ; so in the Being of God the indwelling working 
is one and undivided ; His personal glories remain invisible until 
revealed in His outgoing works. A stream is one until it falls over 
the precipice and divides into many drops. So is the life of God 
one and undivided while hidden within Himself; but when it is 
poured out into created things its colors stand revealed. As, there- 
fore, the indwelling works of the Holy Spirit are common to the 
three Persons of the Godhead, we do not discuss them, but treat 
only those operations that bear the personal marks of His outgoing 

But we do not mean to teach that the distinction of the personal 
attributes of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost did not exist in the divine 
Being, but originated only in His outward activities. 

The distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the divine 


characteristic of the Eternal Being, His mode of subsistence, His 
deepest foundation ; to think of Him without that distinction would 
be absurd. Indeed, in the divine and eternal economy of Father, 
Son, and Holy Spirit, each of the divine Persons lives and loves and 
lauds according to His own personal characteristics, so that the 
Father remains Father toward the Son, and the Son remains Son 
toward the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from both. 

It is right to ask how this agrees with the statement made above, 
that the indwelling works of God belong, without distinction of 
Persons, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and are therefore the 
works of the divine Being. The answer is found in the careful dis- 
tinction of the twofold nature of the indwelling works of God. 

Some operations in the divine Being are destined to be revealed 
in time ; others will remain forever unrevealed. The former con- 
cern the creation ; the latter, only the relations of Father, Son, and 
Holy Spirit. Take, for instance, election and eternal generation. 
Both are indwelling operations of God, but with marked difference. 
The Father's eternal generation of the Son can never be revealed, 
but must ever be the mystery of the Godhead; while election 
belongs as decree to the indwelling works of God, yet is destined 
in the fulness of time to become manifest in the call of the elect. 

Regarding the permanetitiy indwelling works of God that do not 
relate to the creature, but flow from the mutual relation of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the distinctive characteristics 
of the three Persons must be kept in view. But with those that 
are to become manifest, relating to the creature, this distinction 
disappears. Here the rule applies that all indwelling works are 
activities of the divine Being without distinction of Person's. To 
illustrate : In the home there are two kinds of activities one flow- 
ing from the mutual relation of parents and children, another per- 
taining to the social life. In the former the distinction between 
parents and children is never ignored ; in the latter, if the relation 
be normal, neither the father nor the children act alone, but the 
fajnily as a whole. Even so in the holy, mysterious economy of the 
divine Being, every operation of the Father upon the Son and of 
both upon the Holy Spirit is distinct ; but in every outgoing act it 
is always the one divine Being, the thoughts of whose heart are 
for all His creatures. On that account the natural man knows no 
more than that he has to do with a God. 

The Unitarians, denying the Holy Trinity, have never reached 


anything higher than that which can be seen by the light of the 
darkened human understanding. We often discover that many 
baptized with water but not with the Holy Spirit speak of the 
Triune God because others do. For themselves they know only 
that He is God. This is why the discriminating knowledge of the 
Triune God can not illuminate the soul until the light of redemp- 
tion shines within, and the Day-star arises in man's heart. Our 
Confession correctly expresses this, saying: "All this we know as 
well from the testimony of Holy Writ as from their operations, and 
chiefly by those we feel in ourselves" rart. ix.). 


The Work of the Holy Spirit Distingfuished. 

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the 
face of the waters." — Gen. i. 2. 

What, in general, is the work of the Holy Spirit as distinguished 
from that of the Father and of the Son? 

Not that every believer needs to know these distinctions in all 
particulars. The existence of faith does not depend upon intellec- 
tual distinctions. The main question is not whether we can dis- 
tinguish the work of the Father from that of the Son and of the 
Holy Spirit, but whether we have experienced their gracious opera- 
tions. The root of the matter, not the natue, decides. 

Must we then slightly value a clear understanding of sacred 
things? Shall we deem it superfluous and call its great matters 
hair-splitting questions? By no means. The human mind searches 
every department of life. Scientists deem it an honor to spend 
their lives in analyzing the minutest plants and insects, describing 
every particular, naming every member of the dissected organism. 
Their work is never called "hair-splittings," but is distinguished 
as " scientific research." And rightly so, for without differentiation 
there can be no insight, and without insight there can bfe no 
thorough acquaintance with the subject. Why, then, call this same 
desire unprofitable when it directs the attention not to the creature, 
but to the Lord God our Creator? 

Can there be any worthier object of mental application than the 
eternal God? Is it right and proper to insist upon correct discrimi- 
nation in every other sphere of knowledge, and yet regarding the 
knowledge of God to be satisfied with generalities and confused 
views? Has God not invited us to share the intellectual knowledge 
of His Being? Has He not given us His Word? And does not the 
Word illumine the mysteries of His Being, His attributes. His per- 
fections, His virtues, and the mode of His subsistence? If we 
aspired to penetrate into things too high for us, or to unveil the 


unrevealed, reverence would require us to resist such audacity. 
But since we aim in godly fear to listen to Scripture, and to receive 
the proffered knowledge of the deep things of God, there can be 
no room for objection. We would say rather to those who frown 
upon such effort : " Ye can discern the face of the sky, but ye can 
not discern the face of your Father in heaven." 

Hence the question concerning the work of the Holy Spirit as 
distinguished from that of the Father and of the Son is quite legiti- 
mate and necessary. 

It is deplorable that many of God's children have confused con- 
ceptions in this respect. They can not distinguish the works of 
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Even in prayer 
they use the divine names indiscriminately. Altho the Holy Spirit 
is explicitly called the Comforter, yet they seek comfort mostly 
from the Father or the Son, unable to say why and what in sense 
the Holy Spirit is especially called Comforter. 

The early Church already felt the need of clear and exact dis- 
tinctions in this matter; and the great thinkers and Christian phi- 
losophers whom God gave to the Church, especially the Eastern 
Fathers, expended their best powers largely upon this subject. 
They saw very clearly that unless the Church learned to distinguish 
the works of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, its confession of the 
Holy Trinity could be but a dead sound. Compelled not by love 
of subtleties, but by the necessity of the Church, they undertook to 
study these distinctions. And God let heretics vex His Church so 
as to arouse the mind by conflict, and to lead it to search God's 

So we are not pioneers exploring a new field. The writing of 
these articles can so impress those alone who are ignorant of the 
historical treasures of the Church. We propose simply to cause 
the light, which for so many ages shed its clear and comforting 
rays upon the Church, to reenter the windows, and thus by deeper 
knowledge to increase its inward strength. 

We begin with the general distinction: That in every work 
effected by Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in common, the power to 
bring forth proceeds from the Father; the power /^ arrange from 
the Son ; the power to perfect from the Holy Spirit. 

In I Cor. viii. 6, St. Paul teaches that : " There is but one God 
the Father, of wJwm are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ l^ 


who7n are all things." Here we have two prepositions: of whom, 
and by whom. But in Rom. xi. 38 he adds another: " For of Him 
and through Him and to Him are all things." 

The operation here spoken of is threefold : first, that by which 
all things are originated {of Him) ; second, that by which all things 
consist {through Him) ; third, that by which all things attain their 
final destiny {to Him). In connection with this clear, apostolic 
distinction the great teachers of the Church, after the fifth century, 
used to distinguish the operations of the Persons of the Trinity by 
saying that the operation whereby all things originated proceeds 
from the Father ; that whereby they received consistency from the 
Son; and that whereby they were led to their destiny from the 
Holy Spirit. 

These clear thinkers taught that this distinction was in line with 
that of the Persons. Thus the Father is father. He generates the 
Son. And the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. 
Hence the peculiar feature of the First Person is evidently that He 
is the Source and Fountain not only of the material creation, but 
of its very conception ; of all that was and is and ever shall be. 
The peculiarity of the Second Person lies evidently not in genera- 
ting, but in being generated. One is a son by being generated. 
Hence since all things proceed from the Father, nothing can 
proceed from the Son. The source of all things is not in the Son. 
Yet He adds a work of creation to that which is coming into exist- 
ence ; for the Holy Spirit proceeds also from Him ; but not from 
Him alone, but from the Father and the Son, and that in such a 
way that the procession from the Son is due to His sameness of 
essence with the Father. 

The Scripture agrees with this in teaching that the Father cre- 
ated all things by the Son, and that without Him was nothing made 
that was made. For the difference between "created by" and 
" created from," we refer to Col. i. 17 : " By Him all things consist," 
i.e., by Him they hold together. Heb. i. 3 is even clearer, saying 
that the Son upholds all things by the Word of His po^ver. This 
shows that as the essentials of the creature's existence proceed 
from the Father as Fountain of all, so the forming, putting together, 
and arranging of its constituents are the proper work of the Son. 

If we were reverently to compare God's work to that of man we 
would say : A king proposes to build a palace. This requires not 
only material, labor, and plans, but also putting together and 


arranging of the materials according to the plans. The king fur- 
nishes the materials and plans, the builder constructs the palace. 
Who, then, built it? Neither the king nor the builder alone; but 
the builder erects it out of the royal treasure. 

This expresses the relation between Father and Son in this 
respect as far as human relations can illustrate the divine. In the 
construction of the universe two operations appear: first, the 
causative, which produces the materials, forces, and plans; second, 
the constructive, which with these forces forms and orders the mate- 
rials according to the plan. And as the first proceeds from the 
Father, so does the second from the Son. The Father is the Royal 
Source of the necessary materials and powers; and the Son as the 
Builder constructs all things with them according to the counsel 
of God If the Father and the Son existed independently, such 
cooperation would be impossible. But since the Father generates 
the Son, and by virtue of that generation the Son contams the 
entire Being of the Father, there can be no division of Being, and 
only the distinction of Persons remains. For the entire wisdom 
and power whereby the Son gives consistency to all is generated m 
Him by the Father; while the counsel which designed all is a 
determination by the Father of that divine wisdom which He as 
Father generates in the Son. For the Son is forever the effulgence 
of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person-Heb. 

This does not complete the work of creation. The creature is 
made not simply to exist or to adorn some niche in the universe 
like a statue. Rather was everything created with a purpose and 
a destiny; and our creation will be complete only when we have 
become what God designed. Hence Gen. ii. 3 says: "God rested 
from all His work which He had created to make it perfect" (Dutch 
translation). Thus to lead the creature to its destiny, to cause it 
to develop according to its nature, to make it perfect, is the proper 
work of the Holy Spirit. 


SeconC) Cbapter. 

The Principle of Life in the Creature. 

" By His Spirit He hath garnished the 
heavens; His hand hath formed the 
crooked serpent."— /c7<5 xxvi. 13. 

We have seen that the work of the Holy Spirit consists in lead- 
ing all creation to its destiny, the final purpose of which is the glory 
of God. However, God's glory in creation appears in various 
degrees and ways. An insect and a star, the mildew on the wall 
and the cedar on Lebanon, a common laborer and a man like 
Augustine, are all the creatures of God; yet how dissimilar they 
are, and how varied their ways and degrees of glorifying God. 

Let us therefore illustrate the statement that the glory of God is 
the ultimate end of every creature. Comparing the glory of God 
to that of an earthly king, it is evident that nothing can be indiffer- 
ent to that glory. The building material of his palace, its furni- 
ture, even the pavement before its gate, either enhance or diminish 
the royal splendor. Much more, however, is the king honored by 
the persons of his household, each in his degree, from the master 
of ceremonies to his prime minister. Yet his highest glory is his 
family of sons and daughters, begotten of his own blood, trained 
by his wisdom, animated by his ideals, one with him in the plans, 
purposes, and spirit of his life. Applying this in all reverence to 
the court of the King of heaven, it is evident that while every 
flower and star enhance His glory, the lives of angels and men are 
of much greater significance to His Kingdom; and again, while 
among the latter they are most closely related to His glory whom 
He has placed in positions of authority, nearest of all are the 
children begotten by His Spirit, and admitted to the secret of His 


pavilion. We conclude, then, that God's glory is reflected most in 
His children ; and since no man can be His child unless he is begot- 
ten of Him, we confess that His glory is most apparent in His elect 
or in His Church. 

His glory is not, however, confined to these ; for they are related 
to the whole race, and live among all nations and peoples with 
whom they share the common lot. We neither may nor can sepa- 
rate their spiritual life from their national, social, and domestic life. 
And since all differences of national, social, and domestic life are 
caused by climate and atmosphere, meat and drink, rain and 
drought, plant and insect — in a word, by the whole economy of this 
material world, including comet and meteor, it is evident that all 
these affect the outcome of things and are related to the glory of 
God. Hence as connected with the task of leading creation to its 
destiny, the whole universe confronts the mind as a mighty unit 
organically related to the Church as the shell to the kernel. 

In the accomplishment of this task the question arises in what 
way the fairest, noblest, and holiest part of the creation is to attain 
its destiny ; for to this all other parts must be made subservient. 

Hence the question, How are the multitude of the elect to attain 
their final perfection? The answer to this will indicate what is the 
Holy Spirit's action upon all other creatures. 

The answer can not be doubtful. God's children can never 
accomplish their glorious end unless God dwell in them as in His 
temple. It is the love of God that constrains Him to live in His 
children, by their love for Him to love Himself, and to see the 
reflection of His glory in the consciousness of His own handiwork. 
This glorious purpose will be realized only when the elect know as 
they are known, behold their God face to face, and enjoy the felicity 
of closest communion with the Lord. 

Since all this can be wrought in them only by His indwelling in 
their hearts, and since it is the Third Person in the Holy Trinity 
who enters the spirits of men and of angels, it is evident that God's 
highest purposes are realized when the Holy Spirit makes man's 
heart His dwelling-place. Who or what ever we are by education 
or position, we can not attain our highest destiny unless the Holy 
Spirit dwell in us and operate upon the inward organism of our 

If this His highest work had no bearing upon anything else, we 


might say that it consists merely in finishing the perfection of the 
creature. But this is not so. Every believer knows that there is a 
most intimate connection between his life before and after conver- 
sion ; not as tho the former determined the latter, but in such a way 
that the life in sin and the life in the beauty of holiness are both 
conditioned by the same character and disposition, by similar circum- 
stances and influences. Wherefore, to bring about our final perfec- 
tion the Holy Spirit must influence the previous development, the 
formation of character, and the disposition of the whole person. 
And this operation, altho less marked in the natural life, must 
also be traced. However, since our personal life is only a manifes- 
tation of human life in general, it follows that the Holy Spirit 
must have been active also in the creation of man, altho in a less 
marked degree. And finally, as the disposition of man as such is 
connected with the host of heaven and earth, His work must touch 
the formation of this also, tho to a much less extent. Hence 
the Spirit's work reaches as far as the influences that affect man 
in the attaining of his destiny or in the failure to attain it. And 
the measure of the influence is the degree in which they affect 
his perfecting. In the departure of the redeemed soul every one 
acknowledges a work of the Holy Spirit; but who can trace His 
work in the star-movements? Yet the Scripture teaches not only 
that we are bom again by the power of the Spirit of God, but that 
" by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host 
of them by the breath [Spirit] of His mouth." 

Wherefore the Spirit's work leading the creature to its destiny 
includes an influence upon all creation from the beginning. And, 
if sin had not come in, we might say that this work is done in three 
successive steps: first, impregnating inanimate matter; second, 
animating the rational soul ; third, taking up His abode in the elect 
child of God. 

But sin entered in, i.e., a power appeared to keep man and 
nature frorn their destiny. Hence the Holy Spirit must antagonize 
sin ; His calling is to annihilate it, and despite its opposition to cause 
the elect children of God and the entire creation to reach their 
end. Redemption is therefore not a new work added to that of the 
Holy Spirit, but it is identical with it. He undertook to bring all 
things to their destiny either without the disturbance of sin or in 
spite of it J first, by saving the elect, and then by restoring all things 
in heaven and on earth at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Things incidental to this, such as the inspiration of Scripture, 
the preparation of the Body of Christ, the extraordinary ministration 
of grace to the Church, are only connecting-links, connecting the 
beginning with its own predetermined end; that in spite of sin's 
disturbance the destiny of the universe to glorify God might be 

Condensing all into one statement, we might say: Sin having 
once entered, a factor which must be taken into account, the Holy 
Spirit's work shines most gloriously in gathering and saving the 
elect ; prior to which are His operations in the work of redemption 
and in the economy of the natural life. The same Spirit who in 
the beginning moved upon the waters has in the dispensation of 
grace given us the Holy Scripture, the Person of Christ, and the 
Christian Church ; and it is He who, in connection with the original 
creation and by these means of grace, now regenerates and sanctifies 
us as the children of God. 

Regarding these mighty and comprehensive operations, it is of 
first importance to keep in view the fact that in each He effects 
only that which is invisible and imperceptible. This marks all the 
Holy Spirit's operations. Behind the visible world lies one invisi- 
ble and spiritual, with outer courts and inner recesses ; and under- 
neath the latter are the unfathomable depths of the soul, which the 
Holy Spirit chooses as the scene of His labors — His temple wherein 
He sets up His altar. 

Christ's redemptive work also has visible and invisible parts. 
Reconciliation in His blood was visible. The sanctification of His 
Body and the adorning of His human nature with manifold graces 
were invisible. Whenever this hidden and inward work is specified 
the Scripture always connects it with the Holy Spirit. Gabriel says 
to Mary: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." It is said of 
Christ: " That He had the Spirit without measure." 

We observe also in the host of heaven a life material, outward, 
tangible which in thought we never associate with the Holy Spirit. 
But, however weak and impalpable, the visible and tangible has 
an invisible background. How intangible are the forces of nature, 
how full of majesty the forces of magnetism! But life underlies 
all. Even through the apparently dead trunk sighs an impercept- 
ible breath. From the unfathomable depths of all an inward, 
hidden principle works upward and outward. It shows in nature, 
much more in man and angel. And what is this quickening and 


animating principle but the Holy Spirit? " Thou sendest forth Thy 
Spirit, they are created; Thou takest away Thy breath, they die." 
This inward, invisible something is God's direct touch. There 
is in us and in every creature a point where the living God touches 
us to uphold us; for nothing exists without being upheld by Al- 
mighty God from moment to moment. In the elect this point is 
their spiritual life ; in the rational creature his rational conscious- 
ness; and in all creatures, whether rational or not, their life-prin- 
ciple. And as the Holy Spirit is the Person in the Holy Trinity 
whose office it is to effect this direct touch and fellowship with the 
creature in his inmost being, it is He who dwells in the hearts of 
the elect; who animates every rational being; who sustains the 
principle of life in very creature. 

The Host of Heaven and of Earth. 

" The Spirit of God hath made 
me."—/od xxxiii. 4. 

Understanding somewhat the characteristic note of the work of 
the Holy Spirit, let us see what this work was and is and shall be. 

The Father brings forth, the Son disposes and arranges, the 
Holy Spirit perfects. There is one God and Father of whom are 
all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things; 
but what does the Scripture say of the special work the Holy Spirit 
did in creation and is still doing? 

For the sake of order we examine first the account of the crea- 
tion. God says in Gen. i. 2 : " The earth was without form and 
void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit 
of God moved upon the waters." See also Job xxvi. 13: " By His 
Spirit He hath garnished the heavens ; His hand hath formed the 
crooked serpent [the constellation of the Dragon, or, according to 
others, the Milky Way]." And also Job xxxiii. 4: "The Spirit of 
God hath made me ; and the breath of the Almighty hath given me 
life." And again Psalm xxxiii. 6: " By the Word of the Lord were 
the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His 
mouth." So also Psalm civ. 30: "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, 
they are created, and Thou renewest the face of the earth." And 
with different import, in Isa. xl. 13: " Who hath directed the Spirit 
of the Lord [in creation], or being His counselor hath taught Him?" 

These statements show that the Holy Spirit did a work of His 
own in creation. 

They show, too, that His activities are closely connected with 
those of the Father and the Son. Psalm xxxiii. 6 presents them 
as almost identical. The first clause reads: " By the Word of the 
Lord were the heavens made"; the second: "And all the host of 
them by the breath [Spirit] of His mouth." It is well known that 
in Hebrew poetry parallel clauses express the same thought in 


different ways ; so that from this passage it appears that the work 
of the Word and that of the Spirii are the same, the latter adding 
only that which is peculiarly His own. 

It should be noticed that hardly any of these passages mention 
the Holy Spirit by His aivn name. It is not the Holy Spirit, but the 
" Spirit of His mouth," " His Spirit," " the Spirit of the Lord." On 
account of this, many hold that these passages do not refer to the 
Holy Spirit as the Third Person in the Holy Trinity, but speak of 
God as One, without personal distinction ; and that the representa- 
tion of God as creating anything by His hand, fingers, word, breath, 
or Spirit is merely a human way of speaking, signifying only that 
God was thus engaged. 

The Church has always opposed this interpretation, and rightly 
so, on the ground that even the Old Testament, not merely in a few 
places but throughout its entire economy, bears undoubted testi- 
mony to the three divine Persons, coequal yet of one essence. It 
is true that this too has been denied, but by a wrong interpretation. 
And to the reply, " But our interpretation is as good as yours," we 
answer that Jesus and the apostles are our authorities; the Church 
received its confession frorn their lips. 

Secondly, we deny that " His Spirit" does not refer to the Holy 
Ghost, for the reason that in the New Testament similar expres- 
sions occur that undoubtedly do refer to Him, e.g., God hath sent 
forth the Spirit of His Son" (Gal. iv. 6); "Whom the Lord shall 
consume by the Spirit of His mouth " (2 Thess. ii. 8) ; etc. 

Thirdly, judging from the following passages, — " By the Word oi 
the Lord were the heavens made " (Psalm xxxiii. 6) ; " And God said. 
Let there be light" (Gen. i. 3) ; and " All things were made by Him, 
and without Him was not anything made that was made " (John i. 
3), — there can be no doubt that Psalm xxxiii. 6 refers to the Second 
Person in the Godhead. Hence also the second clause of the same 
verse, " And all their host by the Spirit of His mouth," must refer 
to the Third Person. 

Finally, to speak of a Spirit of God that is not the Holy Spirit is 
to transfer to the Holy Scripture a purely Western and human idea. 
We as men often speak of a wrong spirit which controls a nation, an 
army, or a school, meaning a certain tendency, inclination, or per- 
suasion — a spirit that proceeds from a man distinct from his person 
and being. But this may not and can not apply to God. Speak- 
ing of Christ in His humiliation, one may rightly say, " To have 


the mind of Christ," or " to have the spirit of Jesus," which indi- 
cates His disposition. But to distinguish the divine Being from 
a spirit of that Being is to conceive of the Godhead in a human 
way. The divine consciousness differs wholly from the human. 
While in us there is a difference between our persons and our con- 
sciousness, with reference to God such distinctions disappear, and 
the distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit takes their place. 

Even in those passages where "the breath of His mouth" is 
added to explain " His Spirit," the same interpretation must be 
maintained. For all languages show that our breathing, even as 
the " breathing of the elements" in the wind which blows before 
God's face, corresponds to the being of spirit. Nearly all express 
the ideas of spirit, breath, and wind by cognate terms. Blowing or 
breathing is in all the Scripture the symbol of spirit-communica- 
tion. Jesus breathed on them and said : " Receive ye the Holy 
Ghost" (John xx. 22). Thus the breath of His mouth must signify 
the Holy Spirit. 

The ancient interpretation of the Scripture should not be hastily 
abandoned. Accept the dictum of modern theology that the dis- 
tinction of the three divine Persons is not found in the Old Testa- 
ment, and allusions to the work of the Holy Spirit in Genesis, Job, 
Psalms, or Isaiah are out of the question. Consequently nothing is 
more natural for the supporters of this modern theology than to 
deny the Holy Spirit altogether in the passages referred to. 

But if from inward conviction we still confess that the distinc- 
tion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is clearly seen in the Old 
Testament, then let us examine these passages concerning the 
Spirit of the Lord with discrimination, and gratefully maintain the 
traditional interpretation, which finds at least in many of these 
statements references to the work of the Holy Spirit. 

These passages show that His peculiar work in creation was: 
ist, hovering over chaos; 2d, creation of the host of heaven and of 
earth; 3d, ordening the heavens; 4th, animating the brute creation, 
and calling man into existence; and last, the operation whereby 
every creature is made to exist according to God's counsel concern- 
ing it. 

Hence the material forces of the universe do not proceed from 
the Holy Spirit, nor did He deposit in matter the dormant seeds an4 
germs of life. His special task begins only after the creation of 
matter with the germs of life in it. 


The Hebrew text shows that the work of the Holy Spirit moving 
upon the face of the waters was similar to that of the parent bird 
which with outspread wings hovers over its young to cherish and 
cover them. The figure implies that not only the earth existed, 
but also the germs of life within it; and that the Holy Spirit im- 
pregnating these germs caused the life to come forth in order to 
lead it to its destiny. 

Not by the • Holy Spirit, but by the Word were the heavens 
created. And when the created heavens were to receive their 
host, then only did the moment come for the exercise of the Holy 
Spirit's peculiar functions. What " the host of heaven" means is 
not easily decided. It may refer to sun, moon, and stars, or to the 
host of angels. Perhaps the passage means not the creation of the 
heavenly bodies, but their reception of heavenly glory and celestial 
fire. But Psalm xxxiii. 6 refers certainly not to the creation of the 
matter of which the heavenly host are composed, but to the produc- 
tion of their glory. 

Gen. i. 2 reveals first the creation of matter and its germs, 
then their quickening ; so Psalm xxxiii. 6 teaches first the prepara- 
tion of the being and nature of the heavens, then the bringing forth 
of their host by the Holy Spirit. Job xxvi. 13 leads to a similar 
conclusion. Here is the same distinction between the heavens and 
their ordening, the latter being represented as the special work of 
the Holy Spirit. This ordening is the same as the brooding in 
Gen. i. 2, by which the formless took form, the hidden life emerged, 
and the things created were led to their destiny. Psalm civ. 30 and 
Job xxxiii. 4 illustrate the work of the Holy Spirit in creation still 
more clearly. Job informs us that the Holy Spirit had a special 
part in the making of man; and Psalm civ. that He performed a 
similar work in the creation of the animals, of the fowls and the 
fishes; for the two preceding verses imply that verse 27 — "Thou 
sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created" — refers not to man, but 
to the monsters that play in the deep. 

Grant that the matter out of which God made man was already 
present in the dust of the earth, that the type of his body was 
largely present in the animal, and that the idea of man and the 
image after which he was to be created existed already ; yet from 
Job xxxiii. 4 it is evident that he did not come to be without a 
special work of the Holy Spirit. So Psalm civ. 30 proves that, 
altho the matter existed out of which whale and unicorn were to be 


made, and the plan or model was in the divine counsel, yet a special 
act of the Holy Spirit was needed to cause them to be. This is still 
plainer in view of the fact that neither passage refers to the_/^/^/ 
creation, but to a man and animals formed later. For Job speaks 
not of Adam and Eve, but of himself. He says: "The spirit of 
God hath made vie, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me 
life." In Psalm civ. David means not the monsters of the deep 
created in the beginning, but those that were walking the paths of 
the sea while he was singing this psalm. If, therefore, the bodies 
of existing man and of mammals are not immediate creations, but 
are taken from the flesh and blood, the nature and kind of existent 
beings, then it is more evident that the hovering of the Holy Spirit 
over the unformed is a present act ; and that therefore His creative 
work was to bring out the life already hidden in chaos, i.e., in the 
germs of life. 

This agrees with what was said at first of the general character 
of His work. " To lead to its destiny " is to bring forth the hidden 
life, to cause the hidden beauty to reveal itself, to rouse into activity 
the slumbering energies. 

Only let us not represent it as a work performed in successive 
stages — first by the Father, whose finished work was taken up by 
the Son, after which the Holy Spirit completed the work thus pre- 
pared. Such representations are unworthy of God. There is distri- 
bution, no division, in the divine activities ; wherefore Isaiah declares 
that the Spirit of the Lord, i.e., the Holy Spirit, throughout the 
entire work of creation, from the beginning — yea, from before the 
beginning — directed all that was to come. 

The Creaturely Man. 

" The Spirit of God hath made me, and 
the breath of the Almighty hath 
given me life."— yi?3 xxxiii. 4. 

The Eternal and Ever-blessed God comes into vital touch with 
the creature by an act proceeding not from the Father nor from 
the Son, but from the Holy Spirit. 

Translated by sovereign grace from death unto life, God's chil- 
dren are conscious of this divine fellowship; they know that it con- 
sists not in inward agreement of disposition or inclination, but in 
the mysterious touch of God upon their spiritual being. But they 
also know that neither the Father nor the Son, but the Holy Spirit, 
has made their hearts His temple. It is true Christ comes to us 
through the Holy Spirit, and through the Son we have fellowship 
with the Father, according to His word, " I and the Father will 
come unto you, and make Our abode with you"; yet every intelli- 
gent Bible student knows that it is more especially the Holy Spirit 
who enters into his person and touches his innermost being. 

That the Son incarnate came into closer contact with us proves 
nothing to the contrary. Christ never entered into a huma.n person. 
He took upon Himself our human nature, with which He united 
Himself much more closely than the Holy Spirit does; but He did 
not touch the inward man and his hidden personality. On the con- 
trary, He said that it was expedient for the disciples that He should 
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." Moreover, the In- 
carnation was not accomplished without the Holy Spirit, who over- 
shadowed Mary; and the blessings that Christ imparted to all 
around Him were largely owing to the gift of the Holy Spirit, 
which was given Him without measure. 

Hence the principal thought remains intact : When God comes 
into direct contact with the creature it is the work of the Holy 


Spirit to effect such contact. In the visible world this action con- 
sists in the kindling and fanning of the spark of life ; hence it is 
quite natural and in full harmony with the general tenor of the 
teaching of Scripture that the Spirit of God moves upon the face 
of the waters, that He brings forth the host of heaven and earth, 
ordened, animated, and resplendent. 

Besides this visible creation there is also an invisible, which, so 
far as our world is concerned, concentrates itself in the heart of man ; 
hence, in the second place, we must see how far the work of the 
Holy Spirit may be traced in man's creation. 

Of the animal world we do not speak. Not as tho the Holy 
Spirit had nothing to do with their creation. From Psalm civ. 30 
we have proven the contrary. Moreover, no one can deny the 
admirable traits of cunning, love, fidelity, and thankfulness in many 
of the animals. Not that we would be foolish on that ground to 
call the dog half human; for these higher animal properties are 
evidently but instinctive preformations, sketches of the Holy 
Spirit, carried to their proper destiny in man alone. And yet, 
however striking these traits may be, it is not a. person that meets 
us in the animal. The animal proceeds from the world of matter, 
and returns to it ; in man alone appears that which is new, invisible, 
and spiritual, justifying us in looking for a special work of the Holy 
Spirit in his creation. 

Of himself, i.e., of a tnan. Job declares: " The Spirit of God hath 
made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." The 
Spirit of God hath made 7ne. That which I am as a hiwian person- 
ality is the work of the Holy Spirit. To Him I owe the human and 
personal that constitute me the being that I am. He adds: "The 
breath of the Almighty hath given me life"; which evidently 
echoes the words: "The Lord God breathed into His nostrils the 
breath of life." 

Like Job, we ought to feel and to acknowledge that in Adam 
you and I aie created; when God created Adam He created us ; in 
Adam's nature He called forth the nature wherein we now live. 
Gen. i. and ii. is not the record of aliens, but of ourselves — concern- 
ing the flesh and blood which we carry with us, the human nature in 
which we sit down to read the Word of God. 

He that reads his Bible without this personal application reads 
amiss. It leaves him cold and indifferent. It may charm him in 
the days of his childhood, when one is fond of tales and stories, but 


has no hold of him in the days of conflict, when he meets the stem 
facts and realities of life. But if we accustom ourselves to see 
in this record the history of our own flesh and blood, of our own 
human nature and life, and acknowledge that by human generation 
we spring from Adam, and therefore were in Adam when he was 
created — then we shall also know that when God formed Adam out 
of the dust He also formed us; that we also were in Paradise; that 
Adam's fall was also ours. In a word, the first page of Genesis 
relates the history not of an alien, but of our own real selves. The 
breath of the Almighty gave us life, when the Lord formed man of 
the dust, and breathed into his nostrils and made him a living soul. 
The root of our life lies in our parents; but through and beyond 
them the tender fiber of that root goes back through the long line 
of generations, and received its earliest beginning when Adam first 
breathed God's pure air in Paradise. 

And yet, tho in Paradise we received the first inception of our 
being, there is also a second beginning of our life, viz., when from 
the race, by conception and birth, each of us was called into being 
individually. And of this also Job testifies: " The Spirit of the Lord 
hath given me life." 

And again, in the life of sinful man there comes a third begin- 
ning, when it pleases God to convert the wicked ; and of this also 
the soul testifies within us ; " The Spirit of the Lord hath given me 

Leaving this new birth out of the question, the testimony of Job 
shows us that he was conscious of the fact that he owed his exist- 
ence as a man, as a person, as an ego, hence his creation in Adam 
as well as his personal being, to God. 

And what does the Scripture teach us concerning the creation 
of man? This : that the dust of the ground out of which Adam was 
formed was so wrought upon that it became a living soul, which 
indicates the human being. The result was not merely a moving, 
creeping, eating, drinking, and sleeping creature, but a living soul 
that came into existence at the moment when the breath of life was 
breathed into the dust. It was not first the dust, and then human 
life within the dust, and after that the soul with all its higher facul- 
ties in that human life ; nay, as soon as life went forth into Adam, 
he was a man, and all his precious gifts were natural endowments. 

Sinful man being born from above receives gifts that are above 
nature. For this reason the Holy Spirit merely dwells in the quick- 


ened sinner. But in heaven this will not be so ; for in death the 
human nature is so completely changed that the impulse to sin 
disappears entirely ; wherefore in heaven the Holy Spirit will work 
in the human nature itself for ever and ever. In the present state 
of humiliation the nature of the regenerate is still the Adam-nature. 
The gfreat mystery of the work of the Holy Spirit in him is this: 
that /// and by that broken and corrupt nature He works the holy works 
of God. It is as light shining through our window-panes, but in no 
wise identical with the glass. 

In Paradise, however, man's nature was whole, intact; every- 
thing about him was holy. We must avoid the dangerous error 
that the newly created man had an inferior degree of holiness. 
God made man upright, with nothing crooked in or about him. All 
his inclinations and powers with all their workings were pure and 
holy. God delighted in Adam, saw that he was good ; surely noth- 
ing more can be desired. In this respect Adam differed from the 
child of God by grace in not having eternal life ; he was to attain 
this as the reward for holy works. On the other hand, Abraham, 
the father of the faithful, begins with eternal life, from which holy 
works were to proceed. 

Hence a perfect contrast. Adam must attain eternal life by 
works. Abraham has eternal life through which he obtains holy 
works. Hence for Adam there can be no indwelling of the Holy 
Spirit. There was no antagonism between him and the Spirit. So 
the Spirit coVi\^ pervade him, not merely dwell vsx him. The nature 
of sinful man repels the Holy Spirit, but Adam's nature attracted 
Him, freely received Him, and let Him inspire his being. 

Our faculties and inclinations are impaired, our powers are ener- 
vated, the passions of our hearts corrupt; hence the Holy Spirit 
must come to us from without. But since Adam's faculties were all 
intact, and the whole expression of his inward life undisturbed, 
therefore could the Holy Spirit work through the common powers 
and operations of his nature. To Adam spiritual things were not a 
superna.tuT3i\, but a natural good — except eternal life, which he must 
earn by fulfilling the law. Scripture expresses this unity between 
Adam's natural life and spiritual powers by identifying the two 
expressions — "To breathe into the breath of life," and "to become 
a living soul." 

Other passages show that this divine "inbreathing" indicates 
especially the Spirit's work. Jesus breathed upon His disciples 


and said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." He compares the Holy 
Spirit to the wind. In both the Biblical languages, Hebrew and 
Greek, the word spirit means wind, breathing or blowing. And as 
the Church confesses that the Son is eternally generated by the 
Father, so it confesses that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the 
Father and the Son as by breathing. Hence we conclude that the 
passage, "And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" — in 
connection with, " The Spirit of God moved on the face of the 
waters," and the word of Job, " The Spirit of God hath given me 
life " — points to a special work of the Holy Spirit. 

Before God breathed the breath of life in the lifeless dust, there 
was a conference in the economy of the divine Being : " Let Us 
make man in Our image, after Our likeness." This shows — 

First, that each divine Person had a distinct work in the creation 
of man — " Let Us make man." Before this the singular is used of 
God — " He spake," " He saw"; but now the plural is used, " Let Us 
make man," which implies that, here specially and more clearly 
than in any preceding passage, the activities of the Persons are to 
be distinguished. 

Secondly, that man was not created empty, afterward to be en- 
dowed with higher spiritual faculties and powers, but that the very 
act of creation made him after God's image, without any subse- 
quent addition to his being. For we read : " Let Us create man in 
Our image and after Our likeness" This assures us that by immediate 
creation man received the impress of the divine image ; that in the 
creation the divine Persons each performed a distinct work ; and, 
lastly, that man's creation with reference to his higher destiny was 
effected by a going forth of the breath of God. 

This is the basis of our statement that the Spirit's creative work 
was making all man's powers and gifts instruments for His own 
use, connecting them vitally and immediately with the powers of 
God. This agrees with Biblical teachings regarding the Holy 
Spirit's regenerating work, which also, the differently, brings the 
power and holiness of God in immediate contact with human 

We deny, therefore, the frequent assertion of ethical theolo- 
gians, that the Holy Spirit created th.Q personality of man, since this 
opposes the entire economy of Scripture. For what is our person- 
ality but the realization of God's plan concerning us? Such as God 
from eternity has thought each of us, as distinct from other men, 


with our own stamp, life-history, calling, and destiny — as such each 
must develop and show himself to become a person. Thus alone 
each obtains character; anything else so called is pride and arbi- 

If our personality result directly from God's plan, then it and 
what we have in common with all other creatures can not be from 
the Holy Spirit, but from the Father ; like all other things, it re- 
ceives its disposition from the Son ; and the Holy Spirit acts upon 
it as upon every other creature, by kindling the spark, imparting 
the glow of life. 

Gifts and Talents. 

" And the Spirit of the Lord came 
uponhim."— ywa^fjiii. lo. 

We now consider the Holy Spirit's work in bestowing gifts, 
talents, and abilities upon artisans and professional men. Scrij> 
ture declares that the special animation and qualification of persons 
for work assigned to them by God proceed from the Holy Spirit. 

The construction of the tabernacle required capable workmen, 
skilful carpenters, goldsmiths, and silversmiths, and masters in the 
arts of weaving and embroidering. Who will furnish Moses with 
them? The Holy Spirit. For we read in Exod. xxxi. 2, 3: " I have 
called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, . . . and I have filled him 
with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and 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, and in cutting 
of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all 
manner of workmanship." Verse 6 shows that this activity of the 
Holy Spirit included others : " In the hearts of all that are wise- 
hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have 
commanded them." And to give clearest light on this subject. 
Scripture says also: " Then hath He filled with wisdom of heart, to 
work all manner of work of the engraver and of the cunning work- 
man, and of the embroiderer in blue and in purple and in scarlet 
and in fine linen of the weaver, even of them that do any work and 
of these that devise cunning work." 

The Spirit's working shows not only in ordinary skilled labor, 
but also in the higher spheres of human knowledge and mental 
activity; for military genius, legal acumen, statemanship, and 
power to inspire the masses with enthusiasm are equally ascribed 
to it. This is generally expressed in the words, " And the Spirit 
of the Lord came upon" such a hero, judge, statesman, or tribune 
of the people, especially in the days of the Judges, when it is said 


of Joshua, Othniel, Barak, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, and others 
that the Spirit of the Lord came upon them. Also of Zerubbabel 
rebuilding the temple, it is said: " Not by might nor by power, but 
by My Spirit, saith the Lord." Even of the heathen king, Cyrus, 
we read that Jehovah had called him to His work and anointed him 
with the Spirit of the Lord — Isa. xlv. 

This last instance introduces another aspect of the case, viz., the 
operation of the Holy Spirit in qualifying men for official functions. 
For altho this operation upon and through the office receives its 
fullest significance only in the dispensation of grace, yet the case 
of Cyrus shows that the Holy Spirit has originally a work to per- 
form in this respect which is not only a result of grace, but belongs 
essentially to the nature of the work, even tho it is obvious only 
in the history of God's special dealings with His own people. 

It is especially noticeable in the struggle between Saul and 
David. There is no reason to consider Saul one of God's elect. 
After his anointing the Holy Spirit comes upon him, abides with 
him, and works upon him as long as he remains the Lord's chosen 
king over His people. But as soon as by wilful disobedience he 
forfeits that favor, the Holy Spirit departs from him and an evil 
spirit from the Lord troubles him. Evidently this work of the 
Holy Spirit has nothing to do with regeneration. For a time it 
may operate upon a man and then forever depart from him ; while 
the Spirit's saving operation, even tho suspended for a time, can 
never be wholly lost. David's touching prayer, " Take not Thy 
Holy Spirit from me," must therefore refer to gifts qualifying him 
for the kingly office. David had the terrible example of Saul 
before him. He had seen what becomes of a man whom the Holy 
Spirit leaves to himself; and his heart trembled at the possibility 
of an evil spirit coming upon him, and an end as sad as Saul's. 
Like Judas, Saul dies a suicide. 

From the whole Scripture teaching we therefore conclude that 
the Holy Spirit has a work in connection with mechanical arts and 
official functions — in every special talent whereby some men excel 
in such art or office. This teaching is not simply that such gifts 
and talents are not of man but from God like all other blessings, 
but that they are not the work of the Father, nor of the Son, but of 
the Holy Spirit. 

The distinction discovered in creation may be observed here : 
gifts and talents come from the Father ; are disposed for each per- 


sonality by the Son ; and kindled in each by the Holy Spirit as by 
a spark from above. 

Let us distinguish art itself, persojml talent to practise it, and 
the vocation thereto. 

Art is not man's invention, but God's creation. In all nations 
and ages men have pursued the arts of weaving, embroidering, 
skilful dressmaking, casting and chasing noble metals, cutting and 
polishing diamonds, molding iron and brass; and in all these coun- 
tries and ages, without knowing of each other's eflfbrts, have applied 
the same arts to all these materials. Of course there is a difference. 
Oriental work bears a stamp quite different from that of the West. 
Even French and German work differ. But under the differences, 
the endeavor, the art applied, the material, the ideal pursued are 
the same. So, too, art did not attain perfection all at once ; among 
the nations forms at first crude and awkward gradually developed 
into forms chaste, refined, and beautiful. Successive generations 
improved upon previous achievements, until among the various 
nations comparative perfection of art and skill was attained. 
Hence art is not the result of man's thought and purpose; but God 
has placed in various materials certain possibilities of workman- 
ship, and by applying this workmanship man must make out of 
each what there is in it, and not whatever he chooses. 

Two things must cooperate to effect this. In the creation of 
gold, silver, wood, iron, God must have placed in them certain 
possibilities, and have created inventive power in man's mind, per- 
severance in his will, strength in his muscle, accurate vision in his 
eye, delicacy of touch and action in his fingers, thus qualifying 
him to evolve what is latent in the materials. Since this labor has 
the same nature among all nations, the perpetual progress of the 
same great work being accomplished according to the same majestic 
plan, through successive generations, all artistic skill and executive 
ability must be wrought in man by a higher power and according to 
a higher command. Viewing the treasures of an industrial exposi- 
tion in the light of the revealed Word, we shall see in their gradual 
development and genetic unity the downfall of human pride, and 
exclaim : " What is all this art and skill but the manifestation of the 
possibilities which God has placed in these materials, and of the 
powers of mind and eye and finger which He has given the children 
of men!" 

Consider, now, personal talent as utterly distinct from art. 


The goldsmith in his craft and the judge in his office enter upon 
a work of God. Each labors in his divine vocation, and all the skill 
and judgment that he may develop therein come from the treasures 
of the Lord. 

Still, workman differs from workman, general from general. 
The one copies the product of the generation before him and be- 
queaths it without increasing the artistic skill. He began as an 
apprentice, and imparts this skill to other apprentices; but the 
artistic proficiency is the same. The other manifests something 
akin to genius. He quickly surpasses his master; sees, touches, 
discovers something new. In his hand art is enriched. It is given 
him to transfer from the treasures of divine artistic skill new beau- 
ties into human skill. 

So also of men in office and profession. Thousands of officers 
trained in our military schools become good teachers of the science 
of tactics as practised heretofore, but add nothing to it ; while among 
these thousands there may be two or three possessed of military 
genius who in the event of war will astonish the world by their 
brilliant exploits. 

This talent, this individual genius so intimately connected with 
man's personality, is b. gift. No power in the world can create it in 
the man that possesses it not. The child is born with or without it; 
if without it, no education nor severity — not even ambition — can call 
it forth. But as the gift of grace is freely bestowed by the sover- 
eign God, so is also the gift of genius. When the people pray, let 
them not forget to ask the Lord to raise up among them men of 
talent, heroes of art and of office. 

When in 1870 Germany had victory only, and France defeat only, 
it was God's sovereignty that gave the former talented generals, 
and in displeasure denied them to the latter. 

Consider the vocation. 

Official and mechanical men have a high call. All have not the 
same ability. One is adapted for the sea, another for the plow. 
One is a bungler in the foundry, but a master at wood-carving, 
while another is the reverse. This depends upon the personality, 
nature, and inclination. And since the Holy Spirit lights the 
personality, He also determines every man's calling to trade or 
profession. The same applies to the life of nations. The French 
excel in taste as well as in artistic workmanship ; while the English 
seem created for the sea, our masters in all the markets of the 


world. The Holy Spirit even bestows artistic skill and talent upon 
a nation at one time and withdraws it at another. Three centuries 
ago Holland surpassed all Europe in weaving, making porcelain, 
printing, painting, and engraving. But how great the subsequent 
decline in this respect — altho now progress again appears. 

What we find in Israel is related to this. This very thirst and 
capacity for knowledge had caused man to fall. The first impetus 
was given to artistic skill among Cain's descendants; the Jubals 
and the Jabals and the Tubal-Cains were the first artists. And yet 
this whole development, altho feeding upon the treasures of God, 
departed more and more from Him, while His own people utterly 
lacked it. In the days of Samuel there was no smith found in all 
the land of Canaan. Hence the Spirit's coming upon Bezaleel and 
Aholiab, upon Othniel and Samson, upon Saul and David, signifies 
something more than a mere imparting of artistic skill and talent ; 
namely, the restoration of what sin had corrupted and defiled. And 
thus the illumination of a Bezaleel links the Holy Spirit's work in 
the material creation and that in the dispensation of grace. 

Ubtrt) Cbapter. 

Creation and Re-Creation. 

•' Behold, I will pour out My Spirit 
unto you." — Prov. i. 23. 

We approach the special work of the Holy Spirit in Re-creation. 
We have seen that the Holy Spirit had a part in the creation of 
all things, particularly in creating itian, and most particularly in 
endowing him with gifts and talents ; also that His creative work 
affects the upholding of " things," of " man," and of " talents," 
through the providence of God ; and that in this double series of 
threefold activity the Spirit's work is intimately connected with 
that of the Father and that of the Son, so that every thing, every 
man, every talent springs from the Father, is given disposition in 
their respective natures and being through the Son, and receives 
the spark of life by the Holy Spirit. 

The old church hymn, " Veni, Creator Spiritus," and the ancient 
confession of the Holy Spirit as the " Vivificans" agree with this 
perfectly. For the latter signifies that Person in the Trinity who 
imparts the spark of life ; and the former means, " Seeing that the 
things which are to live and shall live are ready, come Holy Spirit 
and quicken them." 

There is always the same deep thought: the Father remains 
outside of the creature; the Son touches him outwardly; by the 
Holy Spirit the divine life touches him directly in his inward 

However, let us not be understood to say that God comes into 
contact with the creature only in the regeneration of His children. 


\vhich would be untrue. To the Gentiles at Athens, St. Paul says: 
"In Him we live and move and have our being." And again: 
" For of His offspring we are." To say nothing of plant or ani- 
mal, there is on earth no life, energy, law, atom, or element but 
the Almighty and Omnipresent God quickens and supports that 
life from moment to moment, causes that energy to work, and 
enforces that law. Suppose that for an instant God should cease to 
sustain and animate this life, these forces, and that law ; in that same 
instant they would cease to be. The energy that proceeds from 
God must therefore touch the creature in the very center of its 
being, whence, its whole existence must spring. Hence there is no 
sun, moon, nor star, no material, plant, or animal, and, in much 
higher sense, no man, skill, gift, or talent unless God touch and 
support them all. 

It is this act of coming into immediate contact with every crea- 
ture, animate or inanimate, organic or inorganic, rational or irra- 
tional, that, according to the profound conception of the Word of 
God, is performed not by the Father, nor by the Son, but by the 
Holy Spirit. 

And this puts the work of the Holy Spirit in a light quite differ- 
ent from that in which for many years the Church has looked upon 
it. The general impression is that His work refers to the life of 
grace only, and is confined to regeneration and sanctification. This 
is due more or less to the well-known division of the Apostolic 
Creed by the Heidelberg Catechism, question 29, " How are these 
articles divided?" which is answered : " Into three parts — of God the 
Father and our creation, of God the Son and our redemption, and 
of God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification." And this, too, altho 
Ursinus, one of the authors of this catechism, had already declared, 
in his " Thesaurus," that : " All the three Persons create and redeem 
and sanctify. But in these operations they observe this order — that 
the Father creates of Himself by means of the Son; the Son creates 
by means of the Father; and the Holy Spirit by means of both." 

But since the deeper insight into the mystery of the adorable 
Trinity was gradually lost, and the pulpit's touch upon it became 
both rare and superficial, the Sabellian error naturally crept into 
the Church again, viz., that there were three successive periods in 
the activities of the divine Persons: First, that of the Father alone 
creating the world and upholding the natural life of all things. This 
was followed by a period of activity for the Son, when nature had 


become unnatural and fallen man a subject for redemption. Lastly, 
came that of the Holy Spirit regenerating and sanctifying the 
redeemed on the ground of the work of Christ. 

According to this view, in childhood, when eating, drinking, and 
playing occupied all our time, we had to do with the Father. Later, 
when the conviction of sin dawned upon us, we felt the need of the 
Son. And not until the life of sanctification had begun in us did 
the Holy Spirit begin to take notice of us. Hence while the Father 
wrought, the Son and the Holy Spirit were inactive ; when the Son 
undertook His work, the Father and the Holy Spirit were inactive ; 
and now since the Holy Spirit alone performs the work, the Father 
and the Son are idle. But since this view of God is wholly unten- 
able, Sabellius, who elaborated it philosophically, came to the con- 
clusion that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were after all but one 
Person; who first wrought in creation as Father, then having 
become the Son wrought out our redemption, and now as the Holy 
Spirit perfects our sanctification. 

And yet, inadmissible as this view may be. it is more reverent 
and God-fearing than the crude superficialities of the current views 
that confine the Spirit's operations entirely to the elect, beginning 
only at their regeneration. 

True, sermons on creation referred, in passing, to the moving of 
the Holy Spirit on the face of the waters, and His coming upon 
Bezaleel and Aholiab is treated in the catechetical class ; but the 
two are not connected, and the hearer is never made to understand 
what the Author of our regeneration had to do with the moving 
upon the waters; they were merely isolated facts. Regeneration 
was the principal work of the Holy Spirit. 

Our Reformed theologians have always warned against such 
representations, which are only the result of making man the start- 
ing-point in the contemplation of divine things. They always 
made God Himself the starting-point, and were not satisfied until 
the work of the Holy Spirit was clearly seen in all its stages, 
throughout the ages, and in the heart of every creature. Without 
this the Holy Spirit could not be God, the object of their adoration. 
They felt that such superficial treatment would lead to a denial of 
His personality, reducing Him to a mere force. 

Hence we have spared no pain, and omitted no detail, in order, 
by the grace of God, to place before the Church two distinct 
thoughts, viz. : 


First, The work of the Holy Spirit is not confined to the elect, and does 
not begin with their regeneration ; but it touches every creature, animate 
and inanimate, and begins its operations in the elect at the very moment 
of their origin. 

Second, The proper work of the Holy Spirit in every creature consists 
in the quickening and sustaining of life with reference to his being and 
talents, and, in its highest sense, with reference to eternal life, which is 
his salvation. 

Thus we have regained the true standpoint requisite for consid- 
ering the work of the Holy Spirit in the re-creation. For thus it 
appears : 

First, that this work of re-creation is not performed in fallen 
man independently of his original creation ; but that the Holy 
Spirit, who in regeneration kindles the spark of eternal life, has 
already kindled and sustained the spark of natural life. And, 
again, that the Holy Spirit, who imparts unto man born from 
above gifts necessary to sanctification and to his calling in the 
new sphere of life, has in the first creation endowed him with 
natural gifts and talents. 

From this follows that fruitful confession of the unity of man's 
life before and after the new birth which nips every form of 
Methodism* in its very root, and which characterizes the doctrine 
of the Reformed churches. 

Second, it is evident that the work of the Holy Spirit bears the 
same character in creation and re-creation. If we admit that He 
quickens life in that which is created by the Father and by the Son, 
what does He do in the re-creation but once more quicken life in 
him that is called of the Father and redeemed by the Son? Again, 
if the Spirit's work is God's touching the creature's being by Him, 
what is re-creation but the Spirit entering man's heart, making it 
His temple, comforting, animating, and sanctifying it.> 

Thus following the Sacred Scripture and the superior theolo- 
gians, we reach a confession that maintains the unity of the Spirit's 
work, and makes it unite organically the natural and the spiritual 
life, the realm of nature and that of grace. 

Of course His work in the latter surpasses that in the former: 

First, since it is His work to touch the inward being of the crea- 

* For the sense in which the author takes Methodism, see section 5 in 
the Preface. 


ture, the more tender and natural the contact the more glorious the 
work. Hence it appears more beautiful in man than in the animal ; 
and more lustrous in the spiritual man than in the natural, since the 
contact with the former is more intimate, the fellowship sweeter, 
the union complete. 

Secondly, since creation lies so far behind us and re-creation 
touches us personally and daily, the Word of God directs more 
attention to the latter, claiming for it more prominence in our con- 
fession. But, however different the measures of operation and of 
energy, the Holy Spirit remains in creation and re-creation the one 
omnipotent Worker of all life and quickening, and is therefore 
worthy of all praise and adoration. 

Organic and Individual. 

" Where is He that put His Holy Spirit 
among them ? " — Isa. Ixiii. ii. 

The subsequent activity of the Holy Spirit lies in the realm of 

In nature the Spirit of God appears as creating, in grace as 
re-creating. We call it ri?-creation, because God's grace creates not 
something inherently new, but a new life in an old and degraded 

But this must not be understood as tho grace restored only what 
sin had destroyed. For then the child of God, born anew and sancti- 
fied, must be as Adam was in Paradise before the fall. Many under- 
stand it so, and present it as follows : In Paradise Adam became 
diseased; the poison of eternal corruption entered his soul and 
penetrated his whole being. Now comes the Holy Spirit as the 
physician, carrying the remedy of grace to heal him. He pours 
the balm into his wounds. He heals his bruises and renews his 
youth; and thus man, born again, healed, and renewed, is, according 
to their view, precisely what the first man was in the state of recti- 
tude. Once more the provisions of the covenant of works are laid 
upon him. By his good works he is again to inherit eternal life. 
Again he may fall like Adam and become a prey of eternal death. 

But this whole view is wrong. Grace does not place the ungodly 
in a state of rectitude, but justifies him — two very different things. 
He that stands in a state of rectitude has certainly an original 
righteousness, but this he may lose; he may be tried and fail as 
Adam failed. He must vindicate his righteousness. Its inward 
consistency must discover itself. He who is righteous to-day may 
be unrighteous to-morrow. 

But when God justifies a sinner He puts Him in a totally differ- 
ent state. The righteousness of Christ becomes his. And what is 
this righteousness? Was Jesus in a state of rectitude only? In no 


wise. His righteousness was tested, tried, and sifted: it was even 
tested by the consuming fire of God's wrath. And this righteous- 
ness converted from " original rectitude " into " righteousness vindicated" 
was imputed to the ungodly. 

Therefore the ungodly, when justified by grace, has nothing to 
do with Adam's ^toX^ before the fall, but occupies the position of 
Jesus after the resurrection. He possesses a good that can not be 
lost. He works no more for wages, but the inheritance is his own. 
His works, zeal, love, and praise flow not from his own poverty, 
but from the overflowing fulness of the life that was obtained for 
him. As it is often expressed: For Adam in Paradise there was 
first work and then the Sabbath of rest ; but for the ungodly justi- 
fied by grace the Sabbath rest comes first, and then the labor which 
flows from the energies of that Sabbath. In the beginning the 
week closed with the Sabbath ; for us the day of the resurrection of 
Christ opens the week which feeds upon the powers of that resur- 

Hence the great and glorious work of re-creation has two parts : 

First, the removing of corruption, the healing of the breach, the 
death to sin, the atonement for guilt. 

Second, the reversing of the first order, the changing of the 
entire state, the bringing in and establishing of a new order. 

The last is of greatest importance. For many teach differently. 
Altho they grant that a new-born child of God is not precisely what 
Adam was before the fall, yet they see the difference only in the 
reception of a higher nature. The state is the same, differing only 
in degree. This is the current theory. This nature of higher 
degree is called the " divine-human" which Christ bears in His Per- 
son, which being consolidated by His Passion and Resurrection is 
now imparted to the new-born soul, raising the lower and degraded 
nature to this higher life. 

This theory directly conflicts with the Scripture, which never 
speaks of conditions similar yet differing in degree and power, but 
of a condition sometimes far inferior in power and degree to that of 
Adam, but transferred into an entirely different order. 

For this reason the Scripture and the Confession of our fathers 
emphasize the doctrine of the Covenants; for the difference be- 
tween the Covenant of Works and of Grace shows the difference 
between the two orders of spiritual things. They who teach that 
the new birth merely imparts a higher nature remain under the 


Covenant of Works. Theirs is the wearisome toil of rolling the 
Sisyphus stone up the mountain, even tho it be with the greater 
energy of the higher life. The Scriptural doctrine of Grace ends 
this impossible Sisyphus task ; it transfers the Covenant of Works 
from our shoulders to Christ's, and opens unto us a new order in 
the Covenant of Grace in which there can be no more uncertainty 
or fear, loss or forfeit of the benefits of Christ, but of which 
Wisdom doth cry, "and Understanding putteth forth her voice, 
standing in the top of high places," saying that all things are now 

The work of re-creation has this peculiarity, that it places the 
elect at once at the end of the road. They are not like the traveler 
still half way from home, but like one who has finished his journey; 
the long, dreary, ^nd dangerous road is entirely behind him. Of 
course, he did not run that road ; he could never have reached the 
goal. His Mediator and Daysman traveled it for him and in his 
stead. And by mystic union with his Savior it is as tho he had 
traveled the whole distance ; not as we reckon, but as God reckons. 

This will show why the work of the Holy Spirit appears more 
powerful in re-creation than in creation. For what is the road 
spoken of, but that which leads from the center of our degenerate 
hearts to the center of the loving heart of God? All godliness aims 
to bring man into communion with God; hence to make him travel 
the road between him and God. Man is the only being on earth in 
whom contact with God means conscious fellowship. Since this 
fellowship is broken by the alienation of sin, at the end of the road 
the contact and fellowship must be perfect, so far as concerns 
man's state and principle. If fellowship is the terminus and- God's 
grace puts His child there at once, at least so far as his state is con- 
cerned, there is an obvious difference between him and the unre- 
generate ; for the latter is infinitely distant from God, while the 
former has sweetest fellowship with Him. Since it is the inward 
operation of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this. His hand must 
appear more powerful and glorious in re-creation than in creation. 

If we could see His work in re-creation all at once as an accom- 
plished fact, we should understand it more thoroughly, and escape 
the difficulties that we now meet in comparing the Old Testament 
with the New regarding it. 

Re-creation brings to us that which is eternal, finished, perfected. 


completed; far above the succession of moments, the course of 
years, and the development of circumstances. Here lies the diffi- 
culty. This eternal work must be brought to a temporal world, to a 
race which is in process of development; hence that work must 
make history, increasing like a plant, growing, blossoming, and 
bearing fruit. And this history must include a time oi preparation, 
revelation, and lastly of filling the earth with the streams of grace, 
salvation, and blessing. 

If it did not relate to man but to irrational beings, there would 
be no difficulty ; but when it began its course man was already in 
the world, and as the ages passed the stream of humanity broad- 
ened. Hence the important question: Whether the generations 
that lived during the long period of preparation before Christ, in 
whom the work of re-creation was finally revealed, were partakers 
of its blessings? 

The Scripture answers affirmatively. In the ages before Christ 
God's elect shared the blessings of the work of re-creation. Abel 
and Enoch, Noah and Abraham, Moses and David, Isaiah and 
Daniel were saved by the same faith as Peter, Paul, Luther, and 
Calvin. The Covenant of Grace, altho made with Abraham and for 
a time connected with the national life of Israel, existed already in 
Paradise. The theologians of the Reformed churches have clearly 
unfolded the truth, that God's elect of both Dispensations entered 
the same gate of righteousness and walked the same way of salva- 
tion which they still walk to the marriage-supper of the Lamb. 

But how could Abraham, living so many years before Christ, in 
whom alone grace and truth have been revealed, have his faith 
accounted unto him for righteousness, so that he saw the day of 
Jesus and was glad? 

This difficulty has confused many minds regarding the Old and 
New Dispensations, and causes many vainly to ask : How could there 
be any saving operation of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament if 
He were poured out only on Pentecost? The answer is found in 
the almost unsearchable work of the Holy Spirit, whereby, on the 
one hand. He brought into the history of our race that eternal sal- 
vation already finished and complete which must run through the 
periods of preparation, revelation, and fruit-bearing; and whereby, 
on the other hand, during the preparatory period, this very prepa- 
ration was made the means, through wondrous grace, of saving 
souls even before the Incarnation of the Word. 

The Church Before and After Christ. 

" All these having obtained a good 
report through faith, received not 
the promise." — Heb. xi. 39. 

Clearness requires to distinguish two operations of the Holy 
Spirit in the work of re-creation before the Advent, viz., (i) pre- 
paring redemption for the whole Church, and (2) regenerating and 
sanctifying the saints then living. 

If there had been no elect before Christ, so that He had no 
church until Pentecost; and if, like Balaam and Saul, the bearers 
of the Old Testament revelation had been without personal interest 
in Messiah, then it is self-evident that, before the Advent, the Holy 
Spirit could have had but one work of re-creation, viz., the prepara- 
tion of the coming salvation. But since God had a church from the 
beginning of the world, and nearly all the bearers of the revelation 
were partakers of His salvation, the Spirit's re-creative work must 
consist of two parts : first, of the preparation of redemption for the 
whole Church ; and, secondly, of the sanctification and consolation 
of the Old Testament saints. 

However, these two operations are not independent, like two 
separate water-courses, but are like drops of rain falling in the 
same stream of revelation. They are not even like two streams of 
different colors mingling in the same river-bed; for neither did the 
one contain anything for the Church of the future which had not 
meaning also for the saints of the Old Covenant; nor did the latter 
receive any revelation or commandment without significance also 
for the Church of the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit so inter- 
wove and interlaced this twofold work that what was the preparing 
of redemption for us, was at the same time revelation and exercise 
of faith for the Old Testament saints; while, on the other hand, He 
used their personal life, conflict, suffering, and hope as the canvas 
upon which He embroidered the revelation of redemption for us. 


Not that the revelation of old did not contain a large element 
that had a different sense and purpose for them from what it has 
for us. Before Christ, the entire service of types and shadows had 
significance which it lost immediately after the Advent. To con- 
tinue it after the Advent would be equivalent to a denial and repu- 
diation of His coming. One's shadow goes before him; when he 
steps into the light the shadow disappears. Hence the Holy Spirit 
performed a special work for the saints of God by giving them a 
temporary service of types and shadows. 

That this service overshadowed all their life made its impres- 
sion all the stronger. This shadow lay upon Israel's entire history ; 
was outlined in all their men from Abraham to John the Baptist; 
fell upon the judicial and political systems, and more heavily upon 
the social and domestic life ; and in purest images lay upon the serv- 
ice of worship. Hence the Old Testament passages which refer to 
this service have not the meaning for us which they had for them, 
Every feature of it had a binding force for them. On the contrary, 
we do not circumcise our boys, but baptize our children ; we do not 
eat the Passover, nor observe the Feast of Tabernacles, nor sacrifice 
the blood of bulls or heifers, as every discriminating reader of the 
Old Testament understands. And they who in the New Testament 
Dispensation seek to reintroduce tithing, or to restore the kingdom 
and the judiciary of the days of the Old Testanie?it, undertake, ac- 
cording to past experience, a hopeless task: their efforts show poor 
success, and their whole attitude proves that they do not enjoy the 
full measure of the liberty of the children of God. Actually all 
Christians agree in this, acknowledging that the relation which we 
sustain toward the law of Moses is altogether different from that 
of ancient Israel. 

The Decalogue alone is occasionally cause of contention, espe- 
cially the Fourth Commandment. There are still Christians who 
allow no difference between that which has a passing, ceremonial 
character and that which is perpetually ethical, and who seek to 
substitute the last day of the week for the Day of the Lord. 

However, leaving these serious differences alone, we repeat that 
the Holy Spirit had a special work in the days before Christ, which 
was intended for the saints of those days, but which has lost for us 
all its former significance. 

Not, however, that we may therefore discard this work of the 
Holy Spirit, and that the books containing these things may be left 


unread. This view has obtained currency especially in Germany, 
where the Old Testament is less read than even the books of the 
Apocrypha, with the exception of the Psalms and a few selected 
pericopes. On the contrary, this service of shadows has even in 
the smallest details a special significance to the New Testament 
Church ; only the significance is different. 

This service in the history of the Old Covenant witnesses to us 
the wonderful deeds of God, whereby of infinite mercy He has 
delivered us from the power of death and hell. In "Ca.^ personalities 
of the Old Covenant it reveals the wonderful work of God in im- 
planting and preserving faith in spite of human depravity and Sa- 
tanic opposition. The service of ceremonies in the sanctuary shows 
us the image of Christ and of His glorious redemption in the minu- 
test details. And finally, the service of shadows in Israel' s political, 
social,.a,nd. domestic life reveals to us those divine, eternal, and un- 
changeable principles that, set free from their transient and tem- 
poral forms, ought to govern the political and social life of the 
Christian nations throughout all ages. 

And yet this does not exhaust the significance that this service 
always had, and still has, for the Christian Church. 

Not only does it reveal to us the outlines of the spiritual house 
of God, but it actually operated in our salvation : 

First, it prepared and preserved amid heathen idolatry a people 
which, as bearers of the divine oracles, offered the Christ at His 
coming a place for the sole of His foot and a base of operations.'^ 
He could no more have come to Athens or Rome than to China or 
India. No one there could have understood Him, or have furnished 
instrument or material to build the Church of the New Covenant. 
The salvation which was cast like a ripe fruit into the lap of the 
Christian Church had grown upon a tree deeply rooted in this serv- 
ice of shadows. Hence the history of that period is part of our 
own, as the life of our childhood and youth remains ours, even tho 
as men we have put away childish things. 

Secondly, the knowledge of this service and history, being parts 
of the Word of God, were instrumental in translating God's children 
from nature's darkness into His marvelous light. 

However, as the Holy Spirit performed special work for the 
saints of those days that has a different tho not less important 

* In Dutch, " life-center . " 


significance for us, so also He performed a work in those days that 
was intended more directly for the Church of the New Testament, 
which also had a different but not less important significance for 
the saints of the Old Covenant. This was the work of Prophecy. 

As Christ declares, the purpose of prophecy is to predict future 
things so that, the events predicted having come to pass, the Church 
may believe and confess that it was the Lord's work. The Old Testa- 
ment often states this, and the Lord Jesus declared it to His disci- 
ples, saying: "And now I have told you, before it come to pass 
that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe" (John xiv. 29). 
And again : " Now I tell you before it come to pass, that when it is 
come to pass ye may believe that I am He" (John xiii. 19). And 
still more clearly: "But these things have I told you, that when 
the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." 
These statements, compared with the words of Isa. xli. 23, xlii- 
9, and xliii. 19, leave no doubt as to the design of prophecy. 

Not that this exhausts prophecy, or that it has no other aims; but 
its chief and final end is reached only when, on the ground of its 
fulfilment, the Church believes its God and Savior and magnifies 
Him in His mighty acts. 

But while its center of gravity is the fulfilment, i.e., in the 
Church of the New Testament, it was equally intended for contem- 
porary saints. For, apart from the prophetic activities that re- 
ferred solely to the people of Israel living at that time, and the 
prophecies fulfilled in Israel's national life, prophecy even as boldly 
outlining Christ yielded precious fruit for the Old Testament saints. 
Connected with theophanies it produced in their minds such a fixed 
and tangible form of the Messiah that fellowship with Him, which 
alone is essential to salvation, was made possible to them by antici- 
pation, as to us by memory. Not only did this fellowship become 
possible at the end of the Dispensation, in Isaiah and Zacharias; 
Christ testifies that Abraham desired to see His day, saw it, and 
was glad. 

Ifourtb Cbapten 



The Holy Scripture. 

" All Scripture is given by inspiration of 
God, and is profitable for doctrine, for 
reproof, for correction, for instruction 
in righteousness ; that the man of God 
may be perfect, thoroughly furnished 
unto all good works." — 2 Tim, iii. 
16, 17. 

Among the divine works of art produced by the Holy Spirit, the 
Sacred Scripture stands first. It may seem incredible that the 
printed pages of a book should excel His spiritual work in human 
hearts, yet we assign to the Sacred Scripture the most conspicuous 
place without hesitation. 

Objectors can never have considered what this holy Book is, or 
any other book, writing, or language is, or what the putting down of 
a world of thought in a collection of Sacred Scripture means. We 
deny that a book, especially such as the Sacred Scripture, opposes 
a world of divine thought, the current of life, and spiritual experi- 
ence. A book is not merely paper printed in ink, but is like a 
portrait — a collection of lines and features in which we see the like- 
ness of a person. Standing near, we see not the person, but spots 
and lines of paint; but at the right distance these disappear and we 
see the likeness of a person. Even now it does not speak to us, for 
it is the face of a stranger; we may be able to judge the man's 
character, yet he fails to interest us. But let his child look, and 
instantly the image which left us cold appeals to him with warmth 


and life, which were invisible to us because our hearts lacked the 
essentials. What appeals to the child is not in the picture, but in 
his memory and imagination; the cooperation of the features in 
the painting and the father's image in his heart makes the likeness 

This comparison will explain the mysterious effect of the Scrip- 
ture. Guido de Bres spoke of it in his debates with the Baptists ; 
" That which we call Holy Scripture is not paper with black im- 
pressions, but that which addresses our spirits by means of those 
impressions." Those letters are but tokens of recognition; those 
words are only the clicks of the telegraph-key signaling thoughts 
to our spirits along the lines of our visual and auditory nerves. 
And the thoughts so signaled are not isolated and incoherent, but 
parts of a complete system that is directly antagonistic to man's 
thoughts, yet enters their sphere. 

Reading the Scripture brings to our minds the sphere of divine 
thoughts so far as needful for us as sinners, in order to glorify God, 
love our neighbor, and save the soul. This is not a mere collection 
of beautiful and glttering ideas, but the reflection of the divine life. 
In God life and thought are united : there can be no life without 
thought, no thought not the product of life. Not so with us. 
Falsehood entered us, i.e., we can sever thought from life. Or 
rather, they are always severed, unless we have voluntarily estab- 
lished the former unity. Hence our cold abstractions; our speak- 
ing without doing; our words without power; our thoughts without 
working; our books that, like plants cut off from their .^oots, wither 
before they can blossom, much less bear fruit. 

The difference between divine and human life gives Scripture 
its uniqueness and precludes antagonism between its letter and its 
spirit, such as a false exegesis of 2 Cor. iii. 6 might suggest. If 
the Word of God were dominated by the falsehood that has crept 
into our hearts, and in the midst of our misery continues to place 
word and life in opposition as well as separation, then we would 
take refuge in the standpoint of our dissenting brethren, with their 
exaltation of the life above the Word. But we need not do so, for 
the opposition and separation are not in the Scripture. For this 
reason it is the Holy Scripture ; for it was not lost in the unholy 
tearing asunder of thought and life, and is therefore distinct from 
writings in which yawns the gulf between the words and the reality 
of life. What other writings lack is in this Book ; perfect agree- 


ment between the life reflected in the divine thought and the 
thoughts which the Word begets in our minds. 

The Holy Scripture is like a diamond: in the dark it is like a 
piece of glass, but as soon as the light strikes it the water begins 
to sparkle, and the scintillation of life greets us. So the Word 
of God apart from the divine life is valueless, unworthy even of the 
name of Sacred Scripture. It exists only in connection with this 
divine life, from which it imparts life-giving thoughts to our minds. 
It is like the fragrance of a flower-bed that refreshes us only when 
the flowers and our organs of smell correspond. Hence the illus- 
tration of the child and his father's picture is exact. 

While the Bible always flashes thoughts born of the divine life, 
yet the effects are not the same in all. As a whole, it is the portrait 
of Him who is the brightness of God's glory and the express image 
of His Person, aiming either to show us His likeness or to serve as 
its background. 

Notice the difference when a child of God and an alien face that 
image. Not as tho it has nothing to say to the unregenerate — this 
is a mistake of Methodism which should be corrected.* It addresses 
itself to all men as the King's Word, and every one must receive 
its impress in his own way. But while the alien sees only a strange 
face, which annoys him, contradicts his world, and so repels him, the 
child of God understands and recognizes it. He is in holiest sym- 
pathy with the life of the world from which that image greets him. 
Thus reading what the stranger could not read, he feels that God 
is speaking to him, whispering peace to his soul. 

Not as tho the Scripture were only a system of signals to flash 
thought into the soul ; rather it is the instrument of God to awaken 
and increase spiritual life, not as by magic, giving a sort of attes- 
tation of the genuineness of our experience — a fanatical view al- 
ways opposed and rejected by the Church — but by the Holy Spirit 
through the use of the Word of God. 

He regenerates us by the Word. The mode of this operation 
will be discussed later on ; let it suffice here to say that the opera- 
tions of the Word and the Holy Spirit never oppose each other, 
but, as St. Paul declares emphatically, that the Holy Scripture is 
prepared by the Spirit of God and given to the Church as an instru- 
ment to perfect God's work in man; as he expresses it; ** That the 

* For the author's sense of Methodism, see section s in the Preface. 



man of God may be perfect " i.e., a man formerly of the world, made 
a man of God by divine act, to be perfected by the Holy Spirit; 
wherefore he is already perfect in Christ through the Word. To 
this end, as St. Paul declares, the Scripture was inspired of God. 
Hence this work of art was prepared by the Holy Spirit to lead the 
new-born man to this high ideal. And to emphasize the thought 
he adds : " That he may be thoroughly furnished unto all good 

Hence Scripture serves this twofold purpose : * 

First, as an instrument of the Holy Spirit in His work upon 
man's heart. 

Secondly, to qualify man perfectly and to equip him for every 
good work. 

Consequently the working of Scripture embraces not only the 
quickening of faith, but also the exercise of faith. Therefore instead 
of being a dead-letter, unspiritual, mechanically opposing the 
spiritual life, it is the very fountain of living water, which, being 
opened, springs up to eternal life. 

Hence the Spirit's preparation and preservation of Scripture is 
not subordinate, but prominent with reference to the life of the 
entire Church. Or to put it more clearly: if prophecy, e.g., aims 
first to benefit contemporary generations, and secondly to be part 
of the Holy Scripture that is to minister comfort to the Church of 
all ages, the latter is of infinitely higher importance. Hence the 
chief aim of prophecy was not to benefit the people living at that 
time, and through Scripture to yield fruit for us only indirectly, 
but through Scripture to yield fruit for the Church of all ages, and 
indirectly to benefit the Church of old. 

The Scripture a Necessity. 

"For whatsoever things were written 
aforetime wore written for our learn- 
ing, that we through patience and 
comfort of the Scriptures might 
have hope." — Rom. xv. 4. 

That the Bible is the product of the Chief Artist, the Holy 
Spirit ; that He gave it to the Church and that in the Church He 
uses it as His instrument, can not be over-emphasized. 

Not as tho He had lived in the Church of all ages, and given us 
in Scripture the record of that life, its origin and history, so that 
the life was the real substance and the Scripture the accident; 
rather the Scripture was the end of all that preceded and the in- 
strument of all that followed. 

With the dawn of the Day of days the Sacred Volume will un- 
doubtedly disappear. As the New Jerusalem will need no sun, 
moon, or temple, but the Lord God will be its light, so will there 
be no need of Scripture, for the revelation of God shall reach His 
elect directly through the unveiled Word. But so long -as the 
Church is on earth, face-to-face communion withheld, and our 
hearts accessible only by the avenues of this imperfect existence. 
Scripture must remain the indispensable instrument by which the 
Triune God prepares men's souls for higher glory. 

The cause of this lies in our personality. We think, we are self- 
conscious, and the threefold world about and above and within us is 
reflected in our thoughts. The man of confused or unformed con- 
sciousness or one insane can not act as a man. True, there are 
depths in our hearts which the plummet of our thinking has not 
sounded ; but the influence that is to affect us deeply, clearly, with 
outlasting effect upon our personality, must be wrought through 
our self-consciousness. 

The history of sin proves it. How did sin enter the world? Did 
Satan infuse its poison into man's soul while he slept? By no means. 


While Eve was fully herself, Satan began to discuss the matter 
with her. He wrought upon her consciousness with words and 
representations, and she, allowing this, drank the poison, fell, and 
dragged her husband with her. Had not God thus foretold it? 
Man's fall was to be known neither by his recognized nor by his 
unrecognized emotions, but by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 
The knowledge that caused his fall was not merely abstract, intel- 
lectual, but vital. Of course the operating cause was external, but 
it wrought upon his consciousness and bore the form of knowledge. 

And as his fall, so also must be his restoration. Redemption 
must come from without, act upon our cotisciousness, and bear the 
form of knowledge. To affect and win us in our personality we 
must be touched in the very spot Avhere sin first wounded us, viz., 
in our proud and haughty self-consciousness. And since our con- 
sciousness mirrors itself in a world of thought — thoughts expressed 
in words so intimately connected as to form, as it were, but one 
word — therefore it was of the highest necessity that a new, divine 
world of thought should speak to our consciousness in a Word, i.e., 
in a Scripture. And this is the work of Holy Scripture. 

Our thought-world is full of falsehood, and so is the outer world. 
But one thought-world is absolutely true, and that is the world of 
God's thoughts. Into this world we must be brought, and it into 
us with the life that belongs to it, as brightness to light. There- 
fore redemption depends upon faith. To believe is to acknowledge 
that the entire world of thought within and around us is false, and 
that only God's world of thought is true and abiding, and as such to 
accept and confess it. So it is still the Tree of knowledge. But the 
fruit now taken and enjoyed grows upon the inward plant of self- 
emptying and self-denial, whereby we renounce our own entire 
world of thought, no longer judging between good and evil, but 
faithfully repeating what God teaches, as ever little children in 
His school. 

But this would not avail us if God's thoughts came in unintelli- 
gible words, which would have been the case if the Holy Spirit had 
used mere words. We know how hopeless it is to try to describe 
the felicities of heaven. Every effort has been so far a failure. 
That bliss passes our imagination. And the Scripture revelation 
concerning it is couched in earthly imagery — as a Paradise, a Jeru- 
salem, or a wedding-feast — which, beautiful as it may be, leaves no 


clear impressions. We know heaven must be beautiful and en- 
trancing, but a concrete conception of it is out of the question. 
Nor can we have clear ideas of the relation of the glorified Son of 
man to the Trinity, His sitting at the right hand of God, the life of 
the redeemed, and their condition when, passing from the cham- 
bers of death, they enter the palace of the great King. 

Hence if the Holy Spirit had presented the world of divine 
thoughts concerning our salvation in writing directly from heaven, 
a clear conception of the subject would have been impossible. Our 
conception would have been vague and figurative as that concern- 
ing heaven. Hence these thoughts were not directly written, but 
translated into the life of this world, which gave 'Co.qvsx form and shape; 
and thus they came down to us in human language, in the pages of 
a book. Without this there could not even be a language to em- 
body such sacred and glorious realities. St. Paul had visions, i.e., 
he was freed from the limitations of consciousness and enabled to 
contemplate heavenly things; but having returned to his limita- 
tions, could not speak of what he had seen, as he said : " They are 

And that the equally unspeakable things of salvation may be 
rendered expressible in hutnan words, it pleased God to bring to this 
world the life which originated them ; to accustom our human con- 
sciousness to them, from it to draw words for them, and thus to 
exhibit them to every man. 

God's thoughts are inseparable from His life; hence His life 
must enter the world before His thoughts, at least at first;. after- 
ward the thoughts became the vehicle of the life. 

This appears in the creation of Adam. The first man is created; 
after him men are born. At first human life appeared at once in 
full stature; from that life once introduced, new life will be born. 
First, new life originated by forming Eve from Adam's rib; then, 
by the union of man and woman. So also here. At first God 
introduced spiritual life into the world, finished, perfect, by a mir- 
acle; afterward differently, since the thought introduced as life into 
this world is pictured to our view. Henceforth the Holy Spirit will 
use the product of this life to awaken new life. 

So redemption can not begin with the gift of Holy Scripture to 
the Church of the Old Covenant. Such Scripture could not be pro- 
duced until its content is wrought out in life, and redemption is 
obiectively accomplished. 


But the two should not be separated. Redemption was not first 
completed and then recorded in Scripture. Such conception would 
be mechanical and unspiritual, directly contradicted by the nature 
of Scripture, which is living and life-giving. Scripture was pro- 
duced spontaneously and gradually by and from redemption. The 
promise in Paradise already foreshadowed it. For tho redemption 
precedes Scripture, yet in the regeneration of the first men the 
Word was not idle ; the Holy Spirit began with speaking to man, 
acting upon his consciousness. Even in Paradise, and subsequently 
when the stream of revelation proceeds, a divine Word always pre- 
cedes the life and is life's instrument, and a divine thought intro- 
duces redemptive work. And when redemption is fulfilled in 
Christ He appears first as the Speaker, then as the Worker. The 
Word that was from the beginning reveals Himself to Israel as the 
Seal of Prophecy, saying: "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in 
your ears." 

Hence the work of the Holy Spirit is never purely magical nor 
mechanical. Even in the preparatory period He always acted 
through the Word in translating a soul from death unto life. How- 
ever, between then and now there is a decided difference : 

First, then, the Word came to the soul directly by inspiration or 
by a prophet's address. Now, both these have ceased, and in their 
stead comes the Word sealed in the Sacred Scripture, interpreted 
by the Holy Spirit in preaching in the Church. 

Secondly, then, the bringing in of life was confined to Israel, 
expressed itself in words and originated relations that strictly sepa- 
rated the servants of the only true God from the life of the world. 
Now, this extraordinary, preparatory dispensation is closed; the 
Israel of God are no more the natural descendants of Abraham, but 
the spiritual ; the stream of the Church flows through all nations 
and peoples ; it stands no more outside the world's life and develop- 
ment, but rather governs them. 

Thirdly, altho in the Old Dispensation redemption existed 
partly already in Scripture, and the Psalmist shows everywhere his 
devotion thereto, yet Scripture could be used so to a small extent 
only, and needed constant supplementing by direct revelations 
and prophecies. But now. Scripture reveals the whole counsel of 
God, and nothing can be added to it. Wo to him who dares dimin- 
ish or increase this Book of Life which discloses the world of divine 
thought 1 


But notwithstanding differences, the fact remains that the Holy 
Spirit mastered the problem of bringing to man lost in sin, by 
human language intelligible to all nations and ages, the world of 
divine thoughts, so as to use them as the instrument of man's 

It does not alter the case that the Holy Scripture shows so many 
seams and uneven places, and looks different from what we should 
expect. The chief virtue of this masterpiece was so to enfold 
God's thoughts in our sinful life that out of our language they could 
form a speech in which to proclaim through the ages, to all nations, 
the mighty words of God. This masterpiece is finished and lies 
before us in the Holy Scripture. And instead of losing itself in 
criticizing these apparent defects, the Church of all ages has 
received it with adoration and thanksgiving; has preserved it, 
tasted it, enjoyed it, and always believed to find eternal life in it. 

Not as tho critical and historical examination were prohibited. 
Such endeavor for the glory of God is highly commendable. But 
as the physiologist's search for the genesis of human life becomes 
sinful if immodest or dangerous to unborn life, so does every criti- 
cism of Holy Scripture become sinful and culpable if irreverent or 
seeking to destroy the life of God's Word in the consciousness of 
the Church. 


The Revelation to Which the Scripture of the Old 
Testament Owes Its Existence. 

" O Lord, . . . Thou art stronger than I, 
and hast prevailed."— y^r. xx. 7. 

The understanding of the Holy Spirit's work in Scripture 
requires us to distinguish the preparatmi, and the formation that 
was the outcome of the preparation. We will discuss these two 

The Holy Spirit prepared for Scripture by the operations which 
from Paradise to Patmos supernaturally apprehended the sinful life 
of this world, and thus raised up believing men who formed the 
developing Church. 

This will seem very foolish if we consider the Scripture a mere 
paper-book, a lifeless object, but not if we hear God speaking 
therein directly to the soul. Severed from the divine life, the 
Scripture is unprofitable, a letter that killeth. But when we real- 
ize that it radiates God's love and mercy in such form as to trans- 
form our life and address our consciousness, we see that the super- 
natural revelation of the life of God must precede the radiation. The 
revelation of God's tender mercies must precede their scintillation 
in the human consciousness. First, the revelation of the mystery 
of Godliness; then, its radiation in the Sacred Scripture, and thence 
into the heart of God's Church, is the natural and ordained way. 

For this purpose the Holy Spirit first chose individuals, then a 
few families, and lastly a whole nation, to be the sphere of His 
activities ; and in each stage He began His work with the Word, 
always following the Word of Salvation with the Facts of Salvation. 

He began this work in Paradise. After the fall, death and con- 
demnation reigned over the first pair, and in them entombed the 
race. Had the Spirit left them to themselves, with the germ of 
death ever developing in them, no star of hope would ever have 
arisen for the human race. 


Therefore the Holy Spirit introduces His work at the very begin- 
ning of the development of the race. The first germ of the mystery 
of Godliness was already implanted in Adam, and the first mother- 
word of which the Holy Scripture was to be born was whispered 
into his ear. 

This word was followed by the deed. God's word does not 
return void; it is not a sound, but a power. It is a plowshare 
subsoiling the soul. Behind the word stands the propelling power 
of the Holy Spirit, and thus it becomes effectual, and changes the 
whole condition of things. We see it in Adam and Eve ; especially in 
Enoch ; and " By faith Abel obtained witness that he was righteous." 

After these operations in individuals the Spirit's work in the 
family begins, partly in Noah, more especially in Abraham. 

The judgment of the flood had completely changed former rela- 
tions, had caused a new generation to arise, and perhaps had 
changed the physical relations between the earth and its atmos- 
phere. And then, for the first time, the Holy Spirit begins to work 
in the family. Our Ritual of Baptism points emphatically to Noah 
and his eight, which has often been a stumbling-block to a thought- 
less unspirituality. And yet needlessly, for by pointing to Noah 
our fathers meant to indicate, in that sacramental prayer, that it is 
not the baptism of individuals, but of \\\q people of God, i.e., of the 
Church and its seed. And since the salvation of families emerges 
first in the history of Noah and his family after the flood, it was 
perfectly correct to point to the salvation of Noah and his family 
as God's first revelation of salvation for us and our seed. 

But the work of the Holy Spirit in Noah's family is only pre- 
liminary. Noah and his sons still belong to the old world. They 
formed a transition. After Noah the holy line disappears, and from 
Shem to Terah the Holy Spirit's work remains invisible. But with 
Terah it appears in clearest light; for now Abraham goes out. not 
with sons, but alone. The promised son was still resting in the 
hand of God. And he could not beget him but dy faith; so that 
God could truly say, "I am the Almighty God,";'.^., a God "who 
quickeneth the dead and calleth the things that are not as tho they 
were." Hence Abraham's family is almost in literal sense the prod- 
uct of the Holy's Spirit's work in that there is nothing in his life 
without faith. The product of art in Abraham's history is not the 
image of a pious shepherd-king or virtuous patriarch, but the won- 


derful work of the Holy Spirit operating in an old man — who again 
and again "kicks against the pricks," who brings forth out of his 
own heart nothing but unbelief — working in him a stedfast and 
immovable faith, bringing that faith into direct connection with his 
family life. Abraham is called " the Father of the Faithful," not in 
the superficial sense of a spiritual connection between our faith and 
Abraham's history, but because the faith of Abraham was inter- 
woven with the fact of Isaac's birth, whom he obtained by faith, 
and of whom there was given him a seed as the stars of the heaven 
and as the sand of the seashore. 

From the individual the Holy Spirit's work passes into the 
family, and thence into the nation. Thus Israel receives his being. 

It was Israel, i.e., not one of the nations, but a people newly cre- 
ated, added to the nations, received among their number, perpetu- 
ally distinct from all other nations in origin and significance. And 
this people is also born of faith. To this end God casts it into death : 
on Moriah; in Jacob's flight; in the distresses of Joseph, and in the 
fears of Moses; alongside the fiery furnaces of Pithon and Ramses; 
when the infants of the Hebrews floated on the Nile. And from this 
death it is again and again faith that saves and delivers, and there- 
fore the Holy Spirit who continues His glorious work in the gene- 
ration and regeneration of this coming people. After this people 
is born it is again thrown into death : first, in the wilderness ; then, 
during the time of the Judges; finally, in the Exile. Yet it can not 
die, for it carries in its bosom the hope of the promise. However 
maimed, plagued, and decimated, it multiplies again and again ; for 
the Lord's promise fails not, and in spite of shameful backslidings 
and apostasy, Israel manifests the glory of a people born, living, 
and dying by faith. 

Thus the work of the Holy Spirit passes through these three 
stages: Abel, Abraham, Moses; the individual, the family, the 
nation. In each of these three the work of the Holy Spirit is visi- 
ble, inasmuch as everything is wrought by faith. Is faith not 
wrought by the Holy Spirit? Very well; by faith Abel obtained 
witness; by faith Abraham received the son of the promise; and 
by faith Israel passed through the Red Sea. 

And what is the relation between life and the word of life dur- 
ing these three stages.^ Is it, as according to current representa- 


tions, first life, and then the word springing therefrom as token of 
the conscious life? 

Evidently history proves the very opposite. In Paradise the 
word precedes and the life follows. To Abraham in Ur of the Chal- 
dees, first the word . " Get thee out from thy country, and I will 
bless thee, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." 
In the case of Moses it is first the word in the burning bush and 
then the passage through the Red Sea. This is the Lord's ap- 
pointed way. He first speaks, then works. Or more correctly. He 
speaks, and by speaking He quickens. These two stand in closest 
connection. Not as tho the word causes life ; for the Eternal and 
Triune God is the only Cause, Source, and Fountain of life. But 
the word is the instrument with which He wills to complete His 
work in our hearts. 

We can not stop here to consider the work of the Father and the 
Son, which either preceded or followed that of the Holy Spirit, and 
which is interwoven with it. Of the miracles we speak only be- 
cause we discover in them a special twofold work of the Holy 
Spirit. The working of the miracle is of the Father and of the Son, 
and not so much of the Holy Spirit. But often as it pleased God 
to use men as instruments in the performance of miracles, it is the 
Spirit's special work to qualify them by working faith in their 
hearts. Moses smiting the rock believed not, but he imagined that 
by smiting he himself could produce water from the rock; which 
God alone can do. To him that believes it is the same whether he 
speaks or smites the rock. Stick nor tongue can in the least affect 
it. The power proceeds from God alone. Hence the greatness of 
the sin of Moses. He thought that he was to be the worker, and 
not God. And this is the very work of sin in God's people. 

Hence we see that when Moses cast down his rod, when he 
cursed the Nile, when Elias and other men of God wrought mira- 
cles, they did nothing, they only believed. And by virtue of their 
faith they became to the bystanders the interpreters of God's testi- 
mony, showing them the works of God and not their own. This is 
what St. Peter exclaimed : " Why look ye so earnestly on us as tho 
by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" 

To work this faith in the hearts of men who were to perform 
these miracles was the Holy Spirit's first task. His second was to 
quicken faith in the hearts of those upon whom the miracle was to 
be wrought. Of Christ it is written, that in Capernaum He could 


aot do many powerful works because of their unbelief; and we read 
repeatedly; " Thy faith hath made thee whole." 

But the miracle alone has no convincing power. The unbeliever 
begins with denying it. He explains it from natural causes. He 
neither will nor can see God's hand in it. And when it is so con- 
vincing that he can not deny it, he says: " It is of the devil." But 
he will not acknowledge that it is the power of God. Therefore to 
make the miracle effectual, the Holy Spirit must also open the eyes 
of them that witness it to see the power of God therein. All our 
reading of the miracles in our Bible is unprofitable unless the Holy 
Spirit opens our eyes, and then we see them live, hear their testi- 
mony, experience their power, and glorify God for His mighty 

The Revelation of the Old Testament in Writing. 

" Then I said, I will not speak any more in 
His Name. But His word was in my 
heart as a burning fire, shut up in my 
bones : and I was weary with forbearing, 
but I could not."— y^r. xx. 9. 

Altho the miracles performed for and in the midst of Israel 
created a glorious life-center in the midst of the heathen world, yet 
they did not constitute a Holy Scripture ; for this can not be created 
except God speak to man, even to His people Israel. " God, who at 
sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the 
fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by 
His Son." 

This divine speaking is not limited to prophecy. God spoke 
also to others than prophets, e.g., to Eve, Cain, Hagar, etc. To 
receive a revelation or a vision does not make one a prophet, unless 
it be accompanied by the command to communicate the revelation 
to others. The word "nabi," the Scriptural term for prophet, does 
not indicate a person who receives something of God, but one who 
brings something to the people. Hence it is a mistake to confine 
the divine revelation to the prophetic office. In fact, it extends to 
the whole race in general ; prophecy is only one of its special fea- 
tures. As to the divine revelation in its widest scope, it is evident 
from the Scripture that God spoke to men from Adam to the last 
of the apostles. From Paradise to Patmos revelation runs like a 
golden thread through every part of Sacred History. 

As a rule, the Scripture does not treat this divine speaking meta- 
phorically. There are exceptions, ^.^.,"God spake to the fish" 
(Jonah ii. 10); "The heavens declare the glory of God, and day 
unto day uttereth speech " (Psalm xix. 2, 3). However, it can be 
proven, from a thousand passages against one to the contrary, that 
the ordinary speaking of the Lord may not be taken in other than 
the literal sense. This is evident from the call of God to Samuel, 


which the child mistook for that of Eli. It is evident also from the 
names, numbers, and localities that are mentioned in this divine 
speaking ; especially from the dialogues between God and man, as 
in the history of Abraham in the conflict of his faith concerning the 
promised seed, and in his intercession for Sodom. 

And therefore we can not agree with those who would per- 
suade us that the Lord did not really speak; that if it reads so, it 
must not be so understood; and that a clearer insight shows that " a 
certain influence from God affected the inner life of the person 
addressed. In connection with the person's peculiar character and 
the influences of his past and present this working gave special 
clearness to his consciousness, and wrought in him such a convic- 
tion that, without hesitation, he declared: ' Since I will as God 
wills, I know that the Lord has thus spoken to me.' *' This repre- 
sentation we reject as exceedingly pernicious and hurtful to the life 
of the Church, "We call it false, since it dishonors the truth of God ; 
and we refuse to tolerate a theology that starts from such premises. 
It annihilates the authority of the Scripture. Altho commended by 
the Ethical wing it is exceedingly ««-ethical, inasmuch as it directly 
opposes the clearly expressed truth of the Word of God. Nay, this 
divine speaking, whose record the Scripture offers, must be under- 
stood as real speaking. 

And what is speaking i Speaking presupposes a person who has 
a thought that he wishes to transfer directly to the consciousness 
of another, without the intervention of a third person or of writing 
or of gesture. Hence when God speaks to man three things are 
implied : 

First, that God has a thought which He wills to communicate 
to man. 

Second, that He executes His design in a direct way. 
Third, that the person addressed now possesses the divine 
thought with this result, that he is conscious of the same idea which 
a moment ago existed only in God. 

With every explanation doing full justice to these thrae points 
we will agree; every other we reject. 

As to the question whether speech is possible without sound, we 
answer: "No, not among men." Surely the Lord can speak and 
has spoken at times by means of air-vibrations ; but He can speak 
to man without the use of either sound or ear. As men we have 
access to each other's consciousness only by means of the organs of 


sense. We can not communicate with our neighbor except he hear 
or see or feel our touch. The unfortunate who is devoid of these 
senses can not receive the slightest information from without. 
But the Lord our God is not thus limited. He has access to man's 
heart and consciousness from within. He can impart to our con- 
sciousness whatever He will in a direct way, without the use of ear- 
drum, auditory nerve, and vibration of air, Tho a man be stone- 
deaf, God can make him hear, inwardly speaking to his soul. 

However, to accomplish this God must condescend to our limita- 
tions. For the consciousness is subject to the mental conditions of 
the world in which it lives. A negro, e.g. , can have no other con- 
sciousness than that developed by his environment and acquired 
by his language. Speaking to a foreigner unacquainted with our 
tongue, we must adapt ourselves to his limitations and address him 
in his own language. Hence in order to make Himself intelligible 
to man, God must clothe His thoughts in human language and thus 
convey them to the human consciousness. 

To the person thus addressed it must seem therefore as tho he 
had been spoken to in the ordinary way. He received the im- 
pression that he heard words of human language conveying to him 
divine thoughts. Hence the divine speaking is always adapted to 
the capacities of the person addressed. Because in condescension 
the Lord adapts Himself to every man's consciousness. His speak- 
ing assumes the form peculiar to every man's condition. What a 
difference, for instance, between God's word to Cain and that to 
Ezekiel ! This explains how God could mention names, dates, and 
various other details; how He could make use of the dialect of a 
certain period ; of derivation of words, as in the changing of names, 
as in the case of Abraham and Sarah. 

This also shows that God's speaking is not limited to godly and 
susceptible persons prepared to receive a revelation. Adam was 
wholly unprepared, hiding himself from the presence of God. And 
so were Cain and Balaam. Even Jeremiah said : " I will not speak 
any more in His Name. But His word was in my heart as a burn- 
ing fire, shut up in my bones : and I was weary with forbearing, but 
I could not" (chap. xx. 9). Hence the divine omnipotence is un- 
limited. The Lord can impart the knowledge of His will to whom- 
soever He pleases. The question why He has not spoken for eigh- 
teen centuries must not be answered, " Because He has lost the 
power"; but, " Because it seemeth not good to Him." Having once 


spoken and in the Scripture brought His word to our souls. He is 
silent now that we may honor the Scripture. 

However, it should be noticed that in this divine speaking from 
Paradise to Patmos there is a certain order, unity, and regularity ; 
wherefore we add : 

First, the divine speaking was not confined to individuals, but, 
having a message for all the people, God spoke through His chosen 
prophets. That God can speak to a whole nation at once is proven 
by the events of Sinai. But it pleased Him not always to do this. 
On the contrary, He never spoke to them in that way afterward, 
but introduced prophetism instead. Hence the peculiar mission of 
prophetism is to receive the words of God and immediately to com- 
municate them to the people. God speaks to Abraham what is for 
Abraham alone; but to Joel, Amos, etc., a message not for them- 
selves, but for others to whom it must be conveyed. In connection 
with this we notice the fact that the prophet stands not alone, but 
in relation with a class of men among whom his mind was gradually 
prepared to speak to the people, and to receive the divine Oracle. 
For the peculiar feature of prophecy was the condition of ecstasy, 
which differed greatly from the way by which God spoke to 

Secondly, these divine revelations are mutually related and, 
taken together, constitute a whole. There is first the foundation, 
then the superstructure, until finally the illustrious palace of the 
divine truth and knowledge is completed. Revelation as a whole 
shows therefore a glorious plan, into which are dovetailed the 
special revelations to individuals. 

Thirdly, the speaking of the Lord, especially of the inward 
word, is peculiarly the work of the Holy Spirit, which, as we have 
found before, appears most strikingly when God comes into closest 
contact with the creature. And the consciousness is the most inti- 
mate part of man's being. Wherefore, as often as the Lord our 
God enters human consciousness to communicate His thoughts, 
clothed in human thoughts and speech, the Scripture and the 
believer honor and adore therein the comforting operation of the 
Holy Spirit. 


" And unto the angel of the church in Sardis 
write, These things saith He that hath 
the seven Spirits of God." — Rev. iii. i. 

We do not speak here of the New Testament. Nothing has con- 
tributed more to falsify and undermine faith in the Scripture and 
the orthodox view concerning it than the unhistoric and unnatural 
practise of considering the Scripture of the Old and the New Testa- 
ment at the same time. 

The Old Testament appears first; then came the Word in the 
flesh ; and only after that the Scripture of the New Testament. In 
the study of the work of the Holy Spirit the same order ought to be 
observed. Before we speak of His work in the Incarnation, the 
inspiration of the New Testament may not even be mentioned. 
And until the Incarnation, there existed no other Scripture than the 
Old Testament. 

The question is now : How is the work of the Holy Spirit to be 
traced in the construction of that Scripture? 

We have considered the question how it was prepared. By 
wonderful works God created a new life in this world ; and, in order 
to make men believe in these works, He spoke to man either direct- 
ly or indirectly, i.e., by the prophets. But this did not create ^ 
Sacred Scripture. If nothing more had been done there would 
never have been such a Scripture ; for events take place and 
belong to the past; the word 6nce spoken passes away with the 
emotion in the consciousness. 

Human writing is the wonderful gift which God bestowed on 
man to perpetuate what otherwise would have been forgotten and 
utterly lost. Tradition falsifies the report. Among holy men this 
would not be so. But we are sinful men. By sin a lie can be told. 
Sin is also the cause of our lack of earnestness, and the root of all 
forgetfulness, carelessness, and thoughtlessness. These are the 
two factors, lying and carelessness, that rob tradition of its value. 


For this reason God gave our race the gift of writing. Whether on 
wax, on metal, on the face of the rock, on parchment, on papyrus, 
or on paper, is of no importance ; but that God enabled man to find 
the art of committing to posterity a thought, a promise, an event, 
independent from his person, attaching it to something material, 
so that it could endure and be read by others even after his death — 
this is of greatest importance. 

For us, men, reading and writing are means of fellowship. It 
begins with speaking, which is essential to fellowship. But mere 
speaking confines it to narrow limits, while reading and writing 
give it wider scope, extending it to persons far away and to genera- 
tions yet unborn. Through writing past generations actually live 
together. Even now we can meet with Moses and David, Isaiah 
and John, Plato and Cicero ; we can hear them speak and receive 
their mental utterances. Writing is therefore no contemptible 
thing as some, who are overspiritual and sneer at the written 
Word, consider it. On the contrary, it is great and glorious — one 
of the mighty factors whereby God keeps men and generations in 
living communication and exercise of love. Its discovery was a won- 
derful grace, God's gift to man, more than doubling his treasures. 

The gift has often been abused ; yet even in its rightful use there 
is ascending glory. How much more glorious appears the art of 
writing when Dante, Shakespeare, and Schiller write their poetry, 
than when the pedagogue compiles his spelling-books or the notary 
public scribbles the lease of a house ! 

Since writing may be used or abused, may serve low or high 
purposes, the question arises: "What is its highest end.?" And 
without the least hesitation we answer : " The writing of the Holy 
Scripture." As human speech and language are of the Holy Spirit, 
so is writing also taught us of Him. But while man uses the art to 
record human thoughts, the Holy Spirit employs it to give fixed 
and lasting form to the thoughts of .God. Hence there is a human 
employment of it and a divine. The highest and wholly unique is 
that in the Holy Scripture. 

Actually there is no other book which sustains communication 
among men and generations as does the Sacred Scripture. To 
honor His own work the Holy Spirit has caused the universal dis- 
tribution of this book alone, thereby putting men of all stations 
and classes into communication with the oldest generations of the 


From this standpoint the Holy Scripture must be considered, 
being in fact " the Scripture par excellence." Hence the divine and 
oft-repeated command: " Write." God did not only speak and act, 
leaving it to man whether His deeds and the tenor of His w^ords 
were to be forgotten or remembered ; but He also commanded that 
they should be recorded in writing. And when just before the 
announcement and close of the divine revelation to John on Patmos, 
the Lord commanded him, " Write to the church" of Ephesus, Per- 
gamos, etc., He repeated in a summary what was the design of all 
preceding revelations, viz., that they should be written and in the 
form of a Scripture, a gift of the Holy Spirit, and be deposited in 
the Church, which for that reason is called the " pillar and ground 
of the truth." Not, according to a later interpretation, as tho the 
truth were coticealed in the Church; but, according to the ancient 
rendering, that Holy Scripture was entrusted to the Church for 

However, we do not mean to say that with reference to every 
verse and chapter the Holy Spirit commanded, " Write," as tho the 
Scripture as we possess it had come into existence page after page. 
Assuredly the Scripture is divinely inspired: a statement dis- 
torted and perverted beyond recognition by our Ethical theolo- 
gians, if they understand by it that " prophets and apostles were 
personally animated by the Holy Spirit." This confounds illumiTia- 
tion with revelation, and revelation with inspiration. " Illumination " 
is the clearing up of the spiritual consciousness which in His own 
time the Holy Spirit gives more or less to every child of God. 
" Revelation" is a communication of the thoughts of God given in 
extraordinary manner, by a miracle, to prophets and apostles. 
But "inspiration," wholly distinct from these, is that special and 
unique operation of the Holy Spirit whereby He directed the minds 
of the writers of the Scripture in the act of writing. " All Scripture 
is given by inspiration of God " ; and this has no reference to ordi- 
nary illumination, nor extraordinary revelation, but to an operation 
that stands entirely alone and which the Church has always 
confessed under the name of Inspiration. Hence inspiration is 
the name of that all-comprehensive operation of the Holy Spirit 
whereby He has bestowed on the Church a complete and infallible 
Scripture. We call this operation all-comprehensive, for it was 
organic, not mechanical. 

The practise of writing dates back to remote antiquity; pre- 


ceded, however, by the preservation of the verbal tradition by the 
Holy Spirit. This is evident from the narrative of the Creation. 
Noted physicists like Agassiz, Dana, Guyot, and others have openly 
declared that the narrative of the Creation recorded many cen- 
turies ago what so far no man could know of himself, and what at 
the present time is only partly revealed by the study of geology. 
Hence the narrative of the Creation is not viytJi, but history. The 
events took place as recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis. 
The Creator Himself must have communicated them to man. 
From Adam to the time when writing was invented the remem- 
brance of this communication must have been preserved correctly. 
That there are two narratives of the Creation proves nothing to the 
contrary. Creation is considered from the natural and from the 
spiritual points of view ; hence it is perfectly proper that the image 
of Creation should be completed in a twofold sketch. 

If Adam did not receive the special charge, yet from the revela- 
tion itself he obtained the powerful impression that such informa- 
tion was not designed for himself alone, but for all men. Realizing 
its importance and the obligation it imposed, succeeding generations 
have perpetuated the remembrance of God's wonderful words and 
deeds, first orally, afterward by writing. In this way there grad- 
ually arose a collection of documents which through Egyptian 
influence were put in book form by the great men of Israel. These 
documents being collected, sifted, compiled, and expanded by 
Moses, formed in his day the beginning of a Holy Scripture prop- 
erly so called. 

Whether Moses and those earlier writers were conscious of their 
inspiration is immaterial; the Holy Spirit directed them, brought 
to their knowledge what they were to know, sharpened their judg- 
ment in the choice of documents and records, so that they should 
decide aright, and gave them a superior maturity of mind that 
enabled them always to choose the right word. 

Altho the Holy Spirit spoke directly to men, human speech and 
language being no human inventions, yet in writing He employed 
human agencies. But whether He dictates directly, as in the 
Revelation of St. John, or governs the writing indirectly, as with 
historians and evangelists, the result is the same : the product is 
such in form and content as the Holy Spirit designed, an infallible 
document for the Church of God. 

Hence the confession of inspiration does not exclude ordinary 


numbering, collecting of documents, sifting, recording, etc. It 
recognizes all these matters which are plainly discernible in Scrip- 
ture. Style, diction, repetitions, all retain their value. But it must 
be insisted that the Scripture as a whole, as finally presented to 
the Church, as to content, selection, and arrangement of docu- 
ments, structure, and even words, owes its existence to the Holy 
Spirit, i.e., that the men employed in this work were consciously or 
unconsciously so controlled and directed by the Spirit, in all their 
thinking, selecting, sifting, choice of words, and writing, that their 
final product, delivered to posterity, possessed a perfect warrant of 
divine and absolute authority. 

That the Scriptures themselves present a number of objections 
and in many aspects do not make the impression of absolute inspi- 
ration does not militate against the other fact that all this spiritual 
labor was controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit. For the 
Scripture had to be constructed so as to leave room for the exercise 
oi faith. It was not intended to be approved by the critical judg- 
ment and accepted on this ground. This would eliminate faith. 
Faith takes hold directly with the fulness of our personality. To 
have faith in the Word, Scripture must not grasp us in our critical 
thought, but in the life of the soul. To believe in the Scripture is 
an act of life of which thou, O lifeless man ! art not capable, except 
the Quickener, the Holy Ghost, enable thee. He that caused Holy 
Scripture to be written is the same that must teach thee to read it. 
Without Him this product of divine art can not affect thee. Hence 
we believe : 

First, that the Holy Spirit chose this human construction of the 
Scripture purposely, that we as men might more readily live in it. 

Secondly, that these stumbling-blocks were introduced that it 
might be impossible for us to lay hold of its content with mere 
intellectual grasp, without the exercise of faith. 

jffttb Cbapter. 

Like One of Us. 

" But a body Thou hast prepared 
Me." — Heb. x. 5. 

The completion of the Old Testament did not finish the work 
that the Holy Spirit undertook for the whole Church. The Scrip- 
ture may be the instrument whereby to act upon the consciousness 
of the sinner and to open his eyes to the beauty of the divine life, 
but it can not impart that life to the Church. Hence it is followed 
by another work of the Holy Spirit, viz., thQ preparation of the body 
of Christ. 

The well-known words of Psalm xl. 6, 7 : " Sacrifice and offering 
Thou didst not desire ; 7?iine ears Thou hast pierced ; burnt-offering 
and sin-offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: 
in the volume of the book it is written of me," — are rendered by St. 
Paul : " Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body Thou 
hast prepared me ; in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings Thou hast no 
pleasure: lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me." 
We do not discuss how the words, " Mine ears hast Thou pierced," 
can mean also, " A body Thou hast prepared me." For our present 
purpose it is immaterial whether one says with Junius ; " The ear is 
a member of the body; by the piercing of the ear hearing becomes 
possible ; and only by the hearing does the body become an instru- 
ment of obedience " ; or with another : " As the body of the slave 
became an instrument of obedience by the piercing of the ear, so 

♦Owing to the recent publication of the author's work, "The Incarna- 
tion of the Word," this subject is presented here in an abbreviated form. 


did the body of Christ become an instrument of obedience by the 
conception of the Holy Spirit"; or finally: " As the Israelite became 
a servant by having his ear pierced, so has the Eternal Son adopted 
the form of a servant by becoming partaker of our flesh and blood." 
St. Paul's infallible exposition of Psalm xl. 7 does not raise any seri- 
ous objection to any of these renderings. It suffices our present 
purpose if it be only acknowledged that, according to Heb. x. 5, 
the Church must confess that there was a preparation of the body of 

This being conceded and taken in connection with what the 
Gospel relates concerning the conception, it can not be denied that 
in the preparing of the body of the Lord there is a peculiar work of 
the Holy Spirit. For the angel said to Mary: "The Holy Ghost 
shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall over- 
shadow thee ; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of 
thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke i. 35). And again: 
" Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy 
wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost " (Matt. 
i. 20). Both passages, apart from their proper meanings, evidently 
seek to produce the impression that the conception and birth of 
Jesus are extraordinary; that they did not occur after the will of 
man, but result from an operation of the Holy Spirit. 

Like all other outgoing works of God, the preparation of the 
body of Christ is a divine work common to the three Persons. 

It is erroneous to say that the Holy Spirit is the Creator of the 
body of Jesus, or, as some have expressed it, " That the Holy Spirit 
was the Father of Christ, according to His human nature." Such 
representations must be rejected, since they destroy the confession 
of the Holy Trinity. This confession can not be maintained when 
any of the outgoing works of God are represented as not common 
to the three Persons. 

We wish to emphasize, therefore, that not the Holy Spirit alone, 
but the Triune God, prepared the body of the Mediator. The 
Father and even the Son cooperated in this divine act. 

However, as we have seen in Creation and Providence, in this 
cooperation the work of each Person bears its own distinctive mark. 
From the Father, of whom are all things, proceeded the material 
of the body of Christ, the creation of the human soul, and of all His 
gifts and powers, together with the whole plan of the Incarnation. 
From the Son, who is the "n^isdom of the Father, disposing and 


arranging all things in Creation, proceeded the holy disposition and 
arrangement with reference to the Incarnation. And as the corre- 
lated acts of the Father and the Son in Creation and Providence 
receive animation and perfection through the Holy Spirit, so there 
is in the Incarnation a peculiar act of the Holy Spirit through which 
the acts of Father and Son in this mystery receive completion and 
manifestation. Therefore it is said in Heb. x. 7 of the Triune God : 
"A body Thou hast prepared Me"; while it is also declared that 
that which is conceived in Mary is of the Holy Ghost. 

This, however, may not be explained in the ordinary sense. It 
might be said that there is nothing wonderful in this, for Job 
declares (chap, xxxiii. 4), " The Spirit of the Lord hath given me 
life," and of Christ we read that He was born of Mary, being con- 
ceived by the Holy Ghost. These two cover the same ground. 
Both instances connect the birth of a child with an act of the Holy 
Spirit. While, as regards the birth of Christ, we do not deny this 
ordinary act of the Holy Spirit, which is essential to the quickening 
of all life, especially that of a human being, yet we do deny that the 
conception by the Holy Spirit was the ordinary act. The ancient 
confession, " I believe in Jesus Christ, His Only-Begotton Son our 
Lord, who was conceived by the Holy G/iosf,"reiersto a divine miracle 
and a deep mystery, in which the work of the Holy Spirit must be 

Accordingly a complete analysis of this work is impossible. If 
not, it would cease to be a miracle. Wherefore let us look into 
this matter only with deepest reverence, and not advance theories 
contrary to the Word of God. What God has been pleased to 
reveal we know ; what His Word only hints we can know only in 
faint outlines; and what is advanced outside of the Word is only 
the efifort of a meddlesome spirit or unhallowed curiosity. 

In this work of the Holy Spirit two things must be distinguished: 

First, the creation of the human nature of Jesus. 

Secondly, His separation from sinners. 

On the first point, the Scripture teaches that no man ever could 
claim paternal connection with Jesus. Joseph appears and acts as 
the stepfather of Christ; but of a fellowship of life and origin 
between him and Jesus the Scripture never speaks. Indeed, Jo- 
seph's neighbors regarded Jesus as the Son of the carpenter, but the 
Scripture always treats this as an error. St. John, declaring that 


the children of God are bom not of the will of man, nor of the will 
of the flesh, but of God, undoubtedly borrowed this glorious descrip- 
tion of our higher birth from the extraordinary act of God which 
scintillates in the conception and birth of Christ. The fact that 
Mary was called a virgin ; that Joseph was troubled at the discovery 
of his bride's condition; that he intended secretly to leave her, and 
that an angel appeared to him in a dream — in a word, the whole 
Gospel narrative, as well as the unbroken tradition of the Church, 
allows no other confession than that the conception and birth of 
Christ were of Mary the virgin, but not pf Joseph her betrothed 

Excluding the man, the Scripture thrice puts the Holy Spirit in 
the foreground as the Author of the conception. St. Matthew says 
(chap. i. i8): "When Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before 
they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Ghost.' 
And again, in ver. 20: " For that which is conceived in her is of the 
Holy Ghost." Lastly, Luke says (chap. i. 35) : " The Holy Ghost 
shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall over- 
shadow thee ; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of 
thee shall be called the Son of God." These clear statements do 
not receive full recognition unless it be plainly confessed that the 
conception of the germ of a human nature in the womb of the vir- 
gin was an act of the Holy Spirit. 

It is not expedient nor lawful to enter more deeply into this 
matter. How human life originates after conception, whether the 
embryo immediately contains a human person or whether he is 
created therein afterward, and other similar questions, must remain 
unanswered, perhaps forever. We may advance theories, but the 
Omnipotent God allows ,no man to discover His workings in the 
hidden laboratories of His creative power. Wherefore all that 
may be said according to Scripture is contained in the following 
four particulars : 

First, in the conception of Christ not a new being was called 
into life as in all other cases, but One who had existed from eter- 
nity, and who then entered into vital relation with the human nature. 
The Scripture clearly reveals this. Christ existed from before the 
foundation of the world. His goings forth were of old, from the days 
of eternity. He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Even tho 
the biologist should discover the mystery of the human birth, it 
could not reveal anything regarding the conception of the Mediator. 


Second, it is not the conception of a human person, but of a 
human nature. Where a new being is conceived, a human person 
comes into existence. But when the Person of the Son, who was 
with the Father from eternity, partakes of our flesh and blood. He 
adopts our human nature in the unity of His Person, thus becoming 
a true man ; but it is not the creation of a new person. The Scrip- 
ture clearly shows this. In Christ appears but one ego, being in 
the same Person at once the Son of God and the Son of man. 

Third, from this it follows not that a new flesh was created in 
Mary as the Mennonites used to teach, but that the fruit in Mary's 
womb, from which Jesus was born, was taken from and nourished 
with her own blood— the very blood which through her parents she 
had received ivova fallen Adam. 

Last, the Mediator bom of Mary not only partook of our flesh 
and blood, such as it existed in Adam and as we have inherited it 
from Adam, but He was bom a true man, thinking, willing, and 
feeling like other men, susceptible to all the human emotions and 
sensations that cause the countless thrills and throbs of human life. 

And yet He was separate from sinners. Of this we speak in the 
next article. 

Let this suffice for the fact of the conception, from which fact 
we derive the precious comfort: " That it coi>ers in the sight of God 
my sin and guilt wherein I was conceived and brought forth" (Heidel 
berg Catechism, quest. 36). 

Guiltless and Without Sin. 

" For such an High Priest became us, who 
is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate 
from sinners, and made higher than the 
heavens." — Heb. vii. 26. 

Throughout the ages the Church has confessed that Christ took 
upon Himself real human nature from the virgin Mary, not as it 
was before the fall, but such as it had become by and after the fall. 

This is clearly stated in Heb. ii. 14, 17 : " Forasmuch as the chil- 
dren are partakers of flesh and blood. He also Himself took part of 
the same. . , . Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be 
made like unto His brethren, to make reconciliation for the sins of 
the people." It was even such a partaking of our nature as would 
make Him feel Satan's goad, for there follows: " In that He Him- 
self hath suffered, being tempted. He is able to succor them that are 
tempted." Upon the authority of the divine Word we can not 
doubt then that the Son of God became man in our fallen nature. 
It is our misery, by virtue of the inherited guilt of Adam, that we 
can not live and act but as partakers of the flesh and blood corrupted 
by the fall. And since we as children are partakers of flesh and 
blood, so is He also become partaker of the same. Hence it can 
not be too strongly emphasized that the Son of God, walking among 
men, bore the same nature in which we spend our lives ; that His 
flesh had the same origin as our flesh ; that the blood which ran 
through His veins is the same as our blood, and came to Him as 
well as to us from the same fountain in Adam. We must feel, and 
dare confess, that in Gethsemane our Savior agonized in our flesh 
and blood ; that it was our flesh and blood that were nailed to the 
cross. The " blood of reconciliation " is taken from the very blood 
which thirsts after reconciliation. 

With equal assurance, however, bowing to the authority of the 
Scripture, we confess that this intimate union of the Son of God 
with the fallen human nature does not imply the least participation 


of our sin and guilt. In the same epistle in which the apostle sets 
forth distinctly the fellowship of Jesus with the human flesh and 
blood, he bears equally clear testimony to the fact of His sinless- 
ness, so that every misunderstanding may be obviated. As by vir- 
tue of our conception and birth we are unholy, guilty, and defiled, 
one with sinners, and therefore burdened with the condemnation of 
hell, so is the Mediator conceived and born holy, harmless, undefiled, 
separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens. And with equal 
emphasis the apostle declares that sin did not enter into His temp- 
tations, for, altho tempted in all things, like as we are, yet He was 
ever without sin. 

Therefore the mystery of the Incarnation lies in the apparent 
contradiction of Christ's union with our fallen nature, which on the 
one hand is so intimate as to make Him susceptible to its tempta- 
tions, while on the other hand He is completely cut off from all 
fellowship with its sin. The confession which weakens or elimi- 
nates either of these factors must, when logically developed, de- 
generate into serious heresy. By saying, " The Mediator is con- 
ceived and born in our nature, as it was before the fall," we sever 
the fellowship between Him and us ; and by allowing that He had 
the least personal part of our guilt and sin, we sever His fellowship 
with the divine nature. 

Does the Scripture not teach then that the Mediator was made 
sin and bore the curse for us, and " as a worm and no man " suffered 
deepest distress? 

We answer : Yea, verily, without this we could have no redemp- 
tion. But in all this He acted as our Substitute. His own person- 
ality was not in the least affected by it. His burdening Himself 
with our sins was a High- Priestly act, performed vicariously. He 
was made sifi, but never a sinner. Sinner means one who is persoti- 
ally affected by sin; Christ's person never was. He never had any 
fellowship with sin other than that of love and compassion, to bear 
it as our High Priest and Substitute. Yet, tho He was exceedingly 
sorrowful even unto death, tho He was sorely tempted so that He 
cried out, " Let this cup pass from Me," in the center of His personal 
being He remained absolutely free from the least contact with sin. 

A close examination of the way by which we become partakers 
of sin will shed more light on this subject. 

Every individual sin is not of our own begetting only, but a par- 
ticipation in the common sin, the one mighty sin of the whole 


race against which the anger of God is kindled. Not only do we 
partake of this sin by an act of the will as we grow up ; it was ours 
already in the cradle, in our mother's womb — yea, even in our con- 
ception. " Conceived and born in sin " is the awful confession which 
the Church of God's redeemed can never deny. 

For this reason the Church has always laid such stress upon the 
doctrine of inherited guilt, as declared by St. Paul in Rom. v. Our 
inherited guilt does not spring from inherited sin ; on the contrary, 
we are conceived and born in sin because we stand in inherited guilt. 
Adam's guilt is imputed to all that were in his loins. Adam lived 
and fell as our natural and federal head. Our moral life stands in 
root-relation to his moral life. We were in him. He carried us in 
himself. His state determined our state. Hence by the righteous 
judgment of God his guilt was imputed to all his posterity, for as 
much as, by the will of man, they should successively be born of 
his loins. By virtue of this inherited guilt we are conceived in sin 
and born in the participation of sin. 

God is our Creator, and from His hands we came forth pure and 
iindefiled. To teach otherwise is to make Him the Author of indi- 
vidual sin, and to destroy the sense of guilt in the soul. Hence sin, 
especially original sin, does not originate in our creation by the 
hand of God, but by our vital relation with the sinful race. Our 
person does not proceed from our parents. This is in direct con- 
flict with the indivisibility of spirit, with the Word of God, and its 
confession that God is our Creator, " who has also made 7/ie." 

However, all creation is not the same. There is mediate and 
immediate creation. God created light by immediate creation, but 
grass and herbs mediately, for they spring from the ground. The 
same difference exists between the creation of Adam and that of 
his posterity. The creation of Adam was immediate : not of his 
body, which was taken from the dust, but of his person, the human 
being called Adam. His posterity, however, is a mediate creation, 
for every conception is made to depend upon the will of man. 
Hence while we come from the hand of God pure and undefiled, 
we become at the same time partakers of the inherited and imputed 
guilt of Adam; and by virtue of this inherited guilt, through our 
conception and birth, God brings us into fellowship with the sin of 
the race. How this is brought about is an unfathomable mystery; 
but this is a fact, that we become partakers of the sin of the race by 
generation, which begins with conception and ends with birth. 


And now, with reference to the Person of Christ, everything 
depends upon the question whether the original guilt of Adam 
was imputed also to the man Jesus Christ. 

If so, then, like all other men, Christ was conceived and bom in 
sin by virtue of this original guilt. Where imputed original guilt 
is, there must be sinful defilement. But, on the other hand, where 
it is not, sinful defilement can not be ; hence He that is called holy 
and harmless must be undefiled. Adam's guilt was not imputed to 
the man Jesus Christ. If it were, then He was also conceived and 
born in sin; then He did not suffer vicariously, but for Himself 
personally; then there can be no blood of reconciliation. If the 
original guilt of Adam was imputed to the man Jesus Christ, then 
by virtue of His sinful conception and birth He was also subject to 
death and condemnation, and He could not have received life but 
by regeneration. Then it also follows that either this Man is Him- 
self in need of a Mediator, or that we, like Him, can enter into life 
without a Go-between. 

But this whole representation is without foundation, and is to be 
rejected without qualification. The whole Scripture opposes it. 
Adam's guilt is imputed to his posterity. But Christ is not a 
descendant of Adam. He existed before Adam. He was not born 
passively as we, but Himself took upon Him the human flesh. He 
does not stand under Adam as His head, but is Himself a new 
Head, having others under Him, of whom He saith: "Behold Me 
and the children whom Thou hast given Me" (Heb. ii. 13). True, 
Luke iii. 23, 28 contains the genealogy of Joseph, which closes 
with the words, "The son of Adam, the son of God"; but the 
Evangelist adds emphatically, "as was supposed"; hence Jesus 
was not the son of Joseph. And in Matthew His genealogy stops 
at Abraham. Altho on Pentecost St. Peter says that David knew 
that God would raise up Christ out of the fruit of his loins, yet he 
adds this limitation, " according to the flesh." Moreover, realizing 
that the Son did not assume a human person, but the human nature, 
so that His Ego is that of the Person of the Son of God, it neces- 
sarily follows that Jesus can not be a descendant of Adam; hence 
the imputation of Adam's guilt to Christ would annihilate the 
divine Person. Such imputation is utterly out of the question. 
To Him nothing is imputed. The sins He bore He took upon Him- 
self voluntarily, vicariously, as our High Priest and Mediator. 

The Holy Spirit in the Mystery of the Incarnation. 

"The Word was made flesh and 
dwelt among us, and we beheld 
His glory.'"— Jo /in i. 14. 

There is one more question in the treatment of this subject: 
What was the extraordinary operation of the Holy Spirit that 
enabled the Son of God to assume our fallen nature without being 
defiled by sin? 

Altho we concede it to be unlawful to pry into that behind the 
veil which God does not freely open to us, yet we may seek the 
meaning of the words that embody the mystery ; and this we intend 
to do in the discussion of this question. 

The Incarnation of Christ, with reference to His sinlessness, is 
connected with the being of sin, the character of original sin, the 
relation between body and soul, regeneration, and the working of 
the Holy Spirit in believers. Hence it is necessary for a clear 
understanding to have a correct view of the relation of Christ's 
human nature to these important matters. 

Sin is not a spiritual bacillus hiding in the blood of the mother 
and received into the veins of the child. Sin is not material and 
tangible ; its nature is moral and spiritual, belonging to the invisi- 
ble things whose results we can perceive but whose real being 
escapes detection. Wherefore in opposition to Manicheism and 
kindred heresies, the Church has always confessed that sin is not a 
material substance in our flesh and blood, but that it consists in the 
loss of the original righteousness in which Adam and Eve bloomed 
and prospered in Paradise. Nor do believers differ on this point, 
for all acknowledge that sin is the loss of original righteousness. 

However, tracing the next step in the course of sin, we meet a 
serious difference between the Church of Rome and our own. The 
former teaches that Adam came forth perfect from the hand of his 
Maker, even before he was endowed with original righteousness. 


This implies that the human nature is finished without original 
righteousness, which is put on him like a robe or ornament. As 
our present nature is complete without dress or ornament, which 
are needed only to appear respectable in the world, so was the 
human nature, according to Rome, complete and perfect in itself 
without righteousness, which serves only as dress and jewel. But 
the Reformed churches have always opposed this view, maintain- 
ing that original righteousness is an essential part of the human 
nature; hence that the human nature in Adam was not complete 
without it; that it was not merely added to Adam's nature, but that 
Adam was created in the possession of it as the direct manifestation 
of his life. 

If Adam's nature was perfect before he possessed original right- 
eousness, it follows that it remains perfect after the loss of it; in 
which case we describe sin simply as " carentia justiti^ originalis," 
i.e., the want of original righteousness. This used to be expressed 
thus : Is original righteousness a natural or supernatural good? If 
natural, then its loss caused the human nature to be wholly cor- 
rupt; if supernatural, then its loss might take away the glory and 
honor of that nature, but as a human nature it retained nearly all 
of its original power. 

Bellarminus said that desire, disease, conflict, etc., naturally be- 
long to human nature; and original righteousness was a golden 
bridle laid upon this nature, to check and control this desire, dis- 
ease, conflict, etc. Hence when the golden bridle was lost, disease, 
desire, conflict, and death broke loose from restraint (torn, iv., 
chap, v., col. IS, 17, 18). Thomas Aquinas, to whom Calvin was 
greatly indebted, and whom the present Pope has earnestly com- 
mended to his priests, had a more correct view. This is evident 
from his definition of sin. If disease, desire, etc., existed in man 
when he came from the hand of God, and only supernatural grace 
can restrain them, then sin is merely the loss of original righteous- 
ness, hence purely negative. But if original righteousness belongs 
to human nature and was not simply added to it supematurally, 
then sin is twofold: first, the loss of original righteousness; 
second, the ruin and corruption of hujnan nature itself, disorganizing 
and disjointing it. Thomas Aquinas acknowledges this last aspect, 
for he teaches (" Summa Theologise," prima secundee, ix., sect. 
2, art. I) that sin is not only deprivation and loss, but also a state of 
corruption, wherein must be distinguished the lack of what ought 


to be present, i.e., original righteousness, and the presence of what 
ought to be absent, viz., an abnormal derangement of the parts and 
powers of the soul. 

Our fathers held almost the same view. They judged that si« 
is not material, but the loss of original righteousness. But since 
original righteousness belongs to the sound human nature, the loss 
did not leave that nature intact, but damaged, disjointed, and cor- 
rupted it. 

To illustrate : A beautiful geranium that adorned the window 
was killed by the frost. Leaves and flowers withered, leaving only 
a mass of mildew and decay. What was the cause? Merely the 
loss of the sun's light and heat. But that was enough; for these 
belong to the nature of the plant, and are essential to its life and 
beauty. Deprived of them it remains not what it is, but its nature 
loses its soundness, and this causes decay, mildew, and poisonous 
gases, which soon destroy it. So of human nature : In Paradise 
Adam was like the blooming plant, flourishing in the warmth and 
brightness of the Lord's presence. By sin he fled from that pres- 
ence. The result was not merely the loss of light and heat, but 
since these were essential to his nature, that nature languished, 
drooped, and withered. The mildew of corruption formed upon it; 
and the positive process of dissolution was begun, to end only in 
eternal death. 

Facts and history prove even now that the human body has 
weakened since the days of the Reformation ; that bad habits of a 
certain character sometimes pass from father to child even where 
the early death of the former precludes propagation by education 
and example. Hence the difference between Adam, body and soul, 
before the fall and his descendants after the fall is not merely the 
loss of the Sun of Righteousness, which by nature shines no longer 
upon them, but the damage caused by this loss to the human nature, 
in body and soul, which thereby are weakened, diseased, corrupted, 
and thrown out of balance. 

This corrupt nature passes from the father to the child, as the 
Confession of Faith expresses it in article xv. : " That original sin is 
a corruption of the whole nature, and an hereditary disease, where- 
with infants themselves are infected in their mother's womb, and 
which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root 

However, the relation between a person and his ego must be 


taken into account. The disordered condition of our flesh and 
blood inclines and incites to sin, a fact that has been observed in 
the victims of certain terrible diseases as their effect. But this 
could not result in sin if there were no personal ego to allow itselt 
to be excited. Again, tho the unbalanced powers of the soul which 
cause the darkening of the understanding, the blunting of the sensi- 
bilities, and the weakening of the will arouse the passions, yet 
even this could not result in sin if no personal ego were affected 
by this working. Hence sin puts its own mark upon this corrup- 
tion only when the personal ego turns away from God, and in that 
disordered soul and diseased body stands condemned before Him. 

If according to established law the unclean brings forth the 
unclean, and if God has made our birth to depend upon generation 
by sinful men, it must follow that by nature we are bom — first, 
without original righteousness; secondly, with an impaired body; 
thirdly, with a soul out of harmony with itself, lastly, with a 
personal ego which is turned away from God. 

All of which would apply to the Person of the Mediator if, like 
one of us, He had been born a human person by the will of man 
and not of God. But since He was not born a human person, but 
took our human nature upon Himself, and was conceived not by the 
will of man, but by an operation of the Holy Spirit, there could not 
be in Him an ego turned away from God, nor could the weakness 
of His human nature for a moment be a sinful weakness. Or to 
put it in the concrete : Altho there was in that fallen nature some- 
thing to incite Him to desire, yet it never became desire. There 
is a difference between the temptations and conflicts of Jesus and 
those of ourselves; while our ego and nature desire against God, 
His holy Ego opposed the incitement of His adopted nature and 
was never overcome. 

Hence the proper work of the Holy Spirit consisted in this : 

First, the creation not of a new person, but of a human nature, 
which the Son assumed into union with His divine nature in one 

Second, that the divine-human Ego of the Mediator, who, 
according to His human nature, also possessed spiritual life, was 
kept from the inward defilement which by virtue of our birth 
affected our ego and personality. 

Hence regeneration, which affects not our nature but our person, 
is out of the question with reference to Christ. But what Christ 


needed was the gifts of the Holy Ghost to enable His weakened 
nature, in increasing measure, to be His instrument in the working 
out of His holy design; and finally to transform His weakened 
nature not by regeneration, but by resurrection into a glorious 
nature, divested of the last trace of weakness and prepared to 
unfold its highest glory. 

Sijtb Cbapter. 

The Holy Spirit in the Mediator. 

*' Who through the Eternal Spirit 
ofifered Himself without spot to 
God." — }Ieb. ix. 14, 

The work of the Holy Spirit in the Person of Christ is not 
exhausted in the Incarnation, but appears conspicuously in the 
work of the Mediator. We consider this work in the development of 
His human nature ; in the cotisecration to His office ; in His humiliation 
unto death j in His resurrection, exaltation, and return in glory. 

First — The work of the Holy Spirit in the development of the human 
nature in Jesus. 

We have said before, and now repeat, that we consider the effort 
to write the " Life of Jesus" either unlauful or its title a misnomer : 
a misnomer when, pretending to write a biography of Jesus, the 
writer simply omits to explain the psychological facts of His life ; 
unlawful "when he explains these facts from the human nature of 

There never was a life of Jesus in the sense of a human, personal 
existence ; and the tendency to substitute the various biographies 
of Jesus of Nazareth for the simple Gospel narratives aims really at 
nothing else than to place the unique Person of the God-man on the 
same level with the geniuses and great men of the world , to hu- 
manize Him, and thus to annihilate the Messiah in Him — in other 
words, to secularize Him. And against this we solemnly protest with 
all the power that is in us. 

The God-human Person of the Lord Jesus did not live a life, but 


rendered one mighty act of obedience by humbling Himself unto 
death ; and out of that humbling He ascended not by powers 
developed from His human nature, but by a mighty and extraordi- 
nary act of the power of God. Any one who successfully under- 
took to write the life of Christ could do no more than draw the 
picture of His human nature. For the divine nature has no history, 
does not run through a process of time, but remains the same for- 

However, this does not prevent us from inquiring, according to 
the need of our limitations, in what manner the human nature of 
Christ was developed. And then the Scripture teaches us that 
there was indeed growth in His human nature. St. Luke relates 
that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God 
and men. Hence there was in His human nature a growth and 
development from the less unto the greater. This would have been 
impossible if in the Messiah the divine nature had taken the place 
of the human ego; for then the majesty of the Godhead would 
always and completely have filled the human nature. But this was 
not the case. The human nature in the Mediator was real, i.e., in 
body and soul it existed as it exists in us, and all inworking of 
divine life, light, and power could manifest itself only by adapting 
itself to the peculiarities and limitations of the human nature. 

When maintaining the mistaken view that the development of 
sinless Adam would have been accomplished without the aid of the 
Holy Spirit, it is natural to suppose that the sinless nature of Christ 
did equally develop itself without the assistance of the Spirit, of 
God. But knowing from the Scripture that not only man's gifts, 
powers, and faculties, but also their working and exercise are a 
result of the work of the Holy Spirit, we see the development of 
the human nature of Jesus in a different light and understand the 
meaning of the words that He received the Holy Spirit 7vithout 
ffieasure. For this indicates that His human nature also received 
the Holy Ghost; and not this only after He had lived for years 
without Him, but every moment of His existence according to the 
measure of His capacities. Even in His conception and birth the 
Holy Spirit effected not only a separation from sin, but He also 
endowed His human nature with the glorious gifts, powers, and 
faculties of which that nature is susceptible. Hence His human 
nature received these gifts, powers, and faculties not from the So;? 
by communication from the divine nature, but from the Jloly Ghost 


by communication to the human nature; and this should be 
thoroughly understood. 

However, His human nature did not receive these gifts, powers, 
and faculties in full operation, but wholly inoperative. As there 
are in every infant powers and faculties that will remain dormant, 
some of them for many years, so there were in the human nature of 
Christ powers and faculties which for a time remained slumbering. 
The Holy Spirit imparted these endowments to His human nature 
without measure — John iii. 34. This has reference to a contrast 
between others, whom the Holy Spirit endowed not without measure, 
but in limited degree according to their individual calling or des- 
tin}^ ; and Christ, in whom there is no such distinction or individual- 
ity — to whom, therefore, gifts, powers, and faculties are imparted in 
such a measure that He never could feel the lack of any gift of the 
Holy Spirit. He lacked nothing, possessed all; not by virtue of 
His divine nature, which can not receive anything, being the eternal 
fulness itself, but by virtue of His human nature, which was endowed 
with such glorious gifts by the Holy Spirit. 

However, this was not all. Not only did the Holy Spirit adorn 
the human nature of Christ with these endowments, but He also 
caused them to be exercised, gradually to enter into full activity. 

This depended upon the succession of the days and years of the 
time of His humiliation. Altho His heart contamed the germ of 
all wisdom, yet as a child of one year, e.g.. He could not know the 
Scripture by means of His human understanding. As the Eternal 
Son He knew it, for He Himself had given it to His Church. But 
His human knowledge had no free access to His divine knowledge. 
On the contrary, while the latter never increased, knowing all 
things from eternity, the former was to learn everything; it had 
nothing of itself. This is the increase in wisdom of which St. Luke 
speaks — an increase not of the faculty, but of its exercise. And 
this affords us a glimpse into the extent of His humiliation. He 
that knew all things by virtue of His divine nature began as man 
with knowing nothing; and that which He knew as a man He 
acquired by learning it under the influence of the Holy Spirit. 

And the same applies to His increase in stature and in favor 
with God and men. Stature refers to His physical growth, inclu- 
ding all that in the human nature depends upon it. Not created an 
adult like Adam, but born a child like each of us, Jesus had to grow 
and develop physically; not by magic, but in reality. When He 


lay in Mary's lap, or as a boy looked around in his stepfather's 
shop, He was a child not only in appearance with the wisdom of a 
venerable, hoary head, but a real child, whose impressions, feelings, 
sensations, and thoughts kept step with His years. No doubt His 
development was quick and beautiful, surpassing anything ever 
seen in other children, so that the aged rabbis in the Temple were 
astonished when they looked upon the Boy only twelve years old; 
yet it always remained the development of a child that first lay 
upon His mother's lap, then learned to walk, gradually became a 
boy and youth, until He attained the fulness of man's stature. 

And as the Holy Spirit with every increase of His human nature 
enlarged the exercise of its powers and faculties, so He did also 
with reference to the relation of the human nature to God and men, 
for He increased in favor with God and men. Favor has reference 
to the unfolding and development of the inward life, and may 
manifest itself in a twofold way, either pleasing or displeasing to 
God and men. Of Jesus it is said that in His development such 
gifts and faculties, dispositions and attributes, powers and qualifi- 
cations manifested themselves from the inward life of His human 
nature that God's favor rested upon them, while they affected those 
around Him in a refreshing and helpful way. 

Even apart from His Messiahship Jesus stood, with reference to 
His human nature, during all the days of His humiliation, under the 
constant and penetrating operation of the Holy Spirit. The Son, 
who lacked nothing, but as God in union with the Father and the 
Holy Spirit possessed all things, compassionately adopted our 
human nature. And inasmuch as it is the peculiarity of that nature 
to derive its gifts, powers, and faculties not from itself, but from the 
Holy Spirit, by whose constant operation alone they can be exer- 
cised, so did the Son not violate this peculiarity, but, altho He was 
the Son, He did not take its preparation, enriching, and operation 
into His own hand, but was willing to receive them from the hand 
of the Holy Spirit. 

The fact that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His Bap- 
tism, altho He had received Him without measure at His concep- 
tion, can only be explained by keeping in view the difference 
between iho. personal and official life of Jesus. 

Not Like unto Us. 

"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit 
into the wilderness." — Matt. iv. i. 

The representation that Christ's human nature received anima- 
ting and qualifying influences and impulses directly from His divine 
nature, altho on the whole incorrect, contains also some truth. 

We often distinguish between our ego and nature. We say : " I 
have my nature against me," or " My nature is in my favor"; hence 
it follows that our person animates and actuates our nature. Ap- 
plying this to the Person of the Mediator, we must distinguish 
between His human nature and His Person. The latter existed 
from eternity, the former He adopted in time. And since in the 
Son the divine Person and the divine nature are nearly one, it must 
be acknowledged that the Godhead of our Lord directly controlled 
His human nature. This is the meaning of the confession of God's 
children that His Godhead supported His human nature. 

But it is wrong to suppose that the divine Person accomplished 
in His human nature what in us is effected by the Holy Spirit. 
This would endanger His true and real humanity. The Scripture 
positively denies it. 

Second — The work of the Holy Spirit in the consecration of 
Jesus to His office (see " First," on p. 93). 

This ought to be carefully noticed, especially since the Church 
has never sufficiently confessed the influence of the Holy Spirit 
exerted upon the work of Christ. The general impression is that 
the work of the Holy Spirit begins when the work of the Mediator 
on earth is finished, as tho until that time the Holy Spirit cele- 
brated His divine day of rest. Yet the Scripture teaches us again 
and again that Christ performed His mediatorial work controlled 
and impelled by the Holy Spirit. We consider this influence now 
with reference to His consecration to His office. 

By the spirit of the prophets already Christ testified of this say- 


ing by the mouth of Isaiah : " The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is 
upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good ti- 
dings unto the meek." But the great fact which could not be learned 
from prophecy is that of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Jordan. 
Surely Isaiah referred partly to this event, but principally to the 
anointing in the counsel of peace. However, when Jesus went up 
out of Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove, 
and a voice was heard from heaven saying, " This is My beloved 
Son," then only the anointing became actual. 

In regard to the event itself, only a few words. That Christ's 
Baptism was not a mere form, but the fulfilling of all righteousness 
proves that He descended into the water burdened with our sins. 
Hence St. John makes the words, " Behold the Lamb of God," pre- 
cede the account of His Baptism. Wherefore it is incorrect to say 
that Christ was installed into His Messianic office only at His Bap- 
tism. On the contrary. He was anointed from eternity. Where- 
fore He may not be represented as being for a moment unconscious, 
according to the measure of His development, of the Messiah task 
that rested upon Him. This lay in His holy Person ; it was not 
added to Him at a later period, but was His before Adam fell. 
And as in His human consciousness His Person gradually attained 
stature, it was always the stature of the Messiah. This is evident 
from His answer when, at the age of twelve. He spoke of the things 
of His Father which were to occupy Him; and still more clearly 
from His words to John the Baptist commandingly saying: " Suffer 
it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."" 

And yet it is only at His Baptism that Jesus receives the actual 
consecration to His office. This is proven from the fact that imme- 
diately after this He entered publicly upon His office as a Teacher; 
and also from the event itself, and the voice from heaven pointing 
to Him as the Messiah ; and especially from the descent of the Holy 
Spirit, which can not be interpreted in any other way than as His 
consecration to His holy office. 

What we have said with reference to the communication of the 
Holy Spirit qualifying one for office, as in the case of Saul, David, 
and others, is of direct application here. Altho in His human 
nature Jesus was personally in constant fellowship with the Holy 
Spirit, yet the official communication was established only at the 
time of His Baptism. Yet with this difference, that while in others 
the person and his office are separated at death, in the Messiah the 



two remain united even in and after death, to continue so until the 
moment that He shall deliver the Kingdom unto God the Father, 
that God may be all in all. Hence the descriptive remark of John : 
" I saw the Spirit descending from heaven, and it abode on Him " 
(John i. 32). 

And finally, to the question why the Person of the Mediator 
needed this remarkable event and the three signs that accompany 
it, we answer: 

First, Christ must be a true man even in His office, wherefore 
He must be installed according to the human custom. He enters 
upon His public ministry at thirty; He is publicly installed; and 
He is anointed with the Holy Spirit. 

Second, for His human consciousness this striking revelation 
from heaven was of the utmost necessity. The conflict of the 
temptation was to be absolute, i.e., indescribable ; hence the impres- 
sion of His consecration must be indestructible. 

Third, for the apostles and the Church it was necessary to dis- 
tinguish unmistakably the true Messiah from all the pseudo-mes- 
siahs and antichrists. This is the reason of St. John's strong 
appeal to this event. 

If the work of the Holy Spirit with reference to the consecration 
is conspicuous and clearly indicated, the fact that the official influ- 
ence of the Holy Spirit accompanied the Mediator throughout the 
entire administration of His office is not less clearly set forth in the 
Holy Scripture. This appears from the events immediately follow- 
ing the Baptism. St. Luke relates that Jesus being full of the Holy 
Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. St. Matthew 
adds: " To be tempted of the devil." Of Elias, Ezekiel, and others 
it is said that the Spirit took them up and transferred them to some 
other place. This stands in evident connection with what we read 
here concerning Jesus. With this difference, however, that while 
the propelling power came to them from without, Jesus, being full 
of the Holy Spirit, felt its pressure in the very depths of His soul. 
And yet, altho operating in His soul, this action of the Holy Spirit 
was not identical with the impulses of Christ's human nature. Of 
Himself Jesus would not have gone into the desert; His going 
there was the result of the Holy Spirit's leading. Only in this way 
this passage receives its full explanation. 

That this leading of the Holy Spirit was not limited to this one 
act appears from St. Luke, who relates (chap. iv. 14) that after the 


temptation He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit into Gali- 
lee, thus entering upon the public ministry of His prophetic office. 

It is evidently the purpose of the Scripture to emphasize the fact 
of the inability of the human nature which Christ had adopted to 
accomplish the work of the Messiah without the constant opera- 
tion and powerful leading of the Holy Spirit, whereby it was so 
strengthened that it could be the instrument of the Son of God for 
the performance of His wonderful work. 

Jesus was conscious of this, and at the beginning of His ministry 
expressly indicated it. In their synagogue He turned to Isa. Ixi. 
I, and read to them: " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because 
the Lord hath anointed me"; then added: " This day is this Scrip- 
ture fulfilled in your ears." 

The Holy Spirit did not support His human nature in the temp- 
tation and in the opening ministry only, but in all His mighty deeds, 
as Christ Himself testified : " If I cast out devils by the Spirit ot 
God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you" (Matt. xii. 28), 
Moreover, St. Paul teaches that the gifts of healing and miracles 
proceed from the Holy Spirit, and this, in connection with the state- 
ment that these powers worked in Jesus (Mark vi. 14), convinces us 
that these were the very powers of the Holy Spirit. Again, it is 
frequently said He rejoiced in the Spirit or was troubled in the 
Spirit, which may be interpreted as a rejoicing or being troubled in 
His own spirit; but this is not a complete explanation. When it 
refers to His own spirit it reads : " And He sighed deeply in His 
spirit" (Mark viii. 12). But in the other cases we interpret the ex- 
pressions as pointing to those deeper and more glorious emotions 
of which our human nature is susceptible only when abiding in the 
Holy Spirit. For altho St. John states that Jesus groaned in Him- 
self (chap. xi. 38), this is not contradictory, especially with refer- 
ence to Jesus. If the Holy Spirit always abode in Him, the same 
emotion may be attributed both to Him and to the Holy Spirit. 

Apart, however, from these passages and their interpretations, 
we have said enough to prove that that part of Christ's work of 
mediation, beginning with His Baptism and closing in the upper 
chamber, was marked by the operation, influence, and support of 
the Holy Spirit. 

According to the divine counsel, human nature is adapted in 
creation to the inworking of the Holy Spirit, without which it can 
not unfold itself any more than the rosebud without the light and 


influence of the sun. As the ear can not hear without sound, and 
the eye can not see without light, so is our human nature incom- 
plete without the light and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Where- 
fore, when the Son assumed human nature He took it just as it 
is, i.e., incapable of any holy action without the power of the 
Holy Spirit. Hence He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that 
from the beginning His human nature should be richly endowed 
with powers. The Holy Spirit developed these powers; and He 
was consecrated to His office by the communication to His human 
nature of the Messianic gifts by which He still intercedes for us as 
our High Priest, and rules us as our King. And for this reason He 
was guided, impelled, animated, and supported by the Holy Spirit 
at every step of His Messianic ministry. 

There are three differences between this communication of the 
Holy Spirit to the human nature of Jesus and that in us : 

First, the Holy Spirit always meets with the resistance of evil 
in our hearts. Jesus' s heart was without sin and unrighteousness. 
Hence in His human nature the Holy Spirit met no resistance. 

Secondly, the Holy Spirit's operation, influence, support, and 
guidance in our human nature is always individual, i.e., in part, 
imperfect; in the human nature of Jesus it was central, perfect, 
leaving no void. 

Thirdly, in our nature the Holy Spirit meets with an ego which 
in union with that nature opposes God ; while the Person which He 
met in the human nature of Christ, partaking of the divine nature, 
was absolutely holy. For the Son having adopted the human 
nature in union with His Person, was cooperating with the Holy 

The Holy Spirit in the Passion of Christ. 

•'Who through the Eternal Spirit 
offered Himself." — Heb. ix. 14. 

Thirdly — Let us now trace the work of the Holy Spirit in the 
suffering, death, resurrection, atid exaltation of Christ (see " First " 
and " Second," pp. 93 and 97). 

In the Epistle to the Hebrews the apostle asks: " If the blood of 
goats and calves and the ashes of the heifer sprinkling the unclean, 
sanctifieth to the purification of the flesh, how much more shall 
the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works?" add- 
ing the words : " Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself 
without spot to God." The meaning of these words has been much 
disputed. Beza and Gomarus understood the Eternal Spirit to 
signify Christ's divifie nature. Calvin and the majority of reformers 
made it to refer to the Holy Spirit. Expositors of the present day, 
especially those of rationalistic tendencies, understand by it merely 
the tension of Christ's human nature. 

With the majority of orthodox expositors we adopt the view of 
Calvin. The difference between Beza and Calvin is that already 
referred to. The question is, whether as regards His human nature 
Christ substituted the inworking of the Son for that of the Holy 
Spirit; or did He have the ordinary operation of the Holy Spirit? 

At the present time many have adopted the former view without 
clearly understanding the difference. They reason thus : " Are the 
two natures not united in the Person of Jesus? Why, then, should 
the Holy Spirit be added to qualify the human nature? Could the 
Son Himself not do this?" And so they reach the conclusion that 
since the Mediator is God, there could be no need of a work of the 
Holy Spirit in the human nature of Christ. And yet this view must 
be rejected, for — 

First, God has so created human nature that without the Holy 
Spirit it can not have any virtue or holiness. Adam's original 


righteousness was the work and fruit of the Holy Spirit as truly as 
the new life in the regenerate is to-day. The shining-in of the 
Holy Spirit is as essential to holiness as the shining of light into 
the eye is essential to seeing. 

Second, the work of the Son according to the distinction of 
three divine Persons is other than the work of the Holy Spirit with 
reference to the human nature. The Holy Spirit could not become 
flesh; this the Son alone could do. The Father has not delivered 
all things to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works from the Son ; 
but the Son depends upon the Holy Spirit for the application of 
redemption to individuals. The Son adopts our nature, thus rela- 
ting Himself with the whole race ; but the Holy Spirit alone can so 
enter into individual souls as to glorify the Son in the children 
of God. 

Applying these two principles to the Person of Christ, we see 
that His human nature could not dispense with the constant in- 
shining of the Holy Spirit. For which reason Scripture declares: 
" He gave Him the Spirit without measure." Nor could the Son ac- 
cording to His own nature take the place of the Holy Spirit; but in 
the divine economy, by virtue of His union with the human nature, 
ever depended upon the Holy Spirit. 

As to the question, whether the Godhead of Christ did not sup- 
port His humanity, we answer : Undoubtedly ; but never independ- 
ently of the Holy Spirit. We faint because we resist, grieve, and 
repel the Holy Spirit. Christ was always victorious because His 
divinity never relaxed His hold upon the Holy Spirit in His hu- 
manity, but embraced Him and clave unto Him with all the love 
and energy of the Son of God. 

Human nature is limited. It is susceptible of receiving the Holy 
Spirit so as to be His temple. But that susceptibility has its limits. 
Opposed by eternal death, it loses its tension and falls away from 
the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Hence we have no unlosable 
good in ourselves, but only as members of the body of Christ. 
Apart from Him, eternal death would have power over us, would 
separate us from the Holy Spirit and destroy us. Wherefore all 
our salvation lies in Christ. He is our anchor cast within the veil. 
As to the human nature of Christ, it encountered and passed through 
eternal death. This could not be otherwise. If He had passed only 
through temporal death, eternal death would still be unvanquished. 

To the question how His human nature could pass through 


eternal death and not perish, having no Mediator to support it, we 
answer: The human nature of Christ would have been overwhelmed 
by it, the in-shining of the Holy Spirit would have ceased if His 
divine nature, i.e., the infinite might of His Godhead, had not been 
underneath it. Hence the apostle declares: "Who through the 
Eternal Spirit offered Himself"; not through the Holy Spirit. The 
two expressions are not identical. There is a difference between 
the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Godhead, apart from me, 
and the Holy Spirit working within me. 

The word of Scripture, " He was full of the Holy Ghost," refers 
not only to the Person of the Holy Spirit, but also to His work in 
man's soul. So with reference to Christ, there is a difference 
between: "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost," "The Holy 
Ghost descended upon Him," " Being full of the Holy Spirit," " Who 
offered Himself by the Eternal Spirit." The last two passages indi- 
cate the fact that the spirit of Jesus had taken in the Holy Spirit 
and idetitified itself with Him, in almost the same sense as Acts xv. 
28: "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us." The term 
" Eternal Spirit " was chosen to indicate that the divine-human Per- 
son of Christ entered into such indissoluble fellowship with the 
Holy Spirit as even eternal death could not break. 

A closer examination of the sufferings of Christ will make this 

Christ did not redeem us by His sufferings alone, being spit 
upon, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified, and slain ; but this 
passion was made effectual to our redemption by His lo-oe and volun- 
tary obedience. These are generally called His passive and active 
satisfaction. By the first we understand His actual bearing of pain, 
anguish, and death ; by the second, His zeal for the honor of God, 
the love, faithfulness, and divine pity by which He became obedient 
even unto death — yea, the death of the cross. And these two are 
essentially distinct. Satan, e.g., bears punishment also and shall 
bear it forever; but he lacks the willingness. This, however, does 
not affect the validity of the punishment. A murderer on the gal- 
lows may curse God and men to the end ; but this does not invali- 
date his punishment. Whether he curses or prays, it is equally 

Hence there was in Christ's sufferings much more than mere 
passive, penal satisfaction. Nobody compelled Jesus. He, par- 
taker of the divine nature, could not be compelled, but offered 


Himself quite voluntarily: "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God; in 
the volume of the book it is written of Me." To render that volun- 
tary sacrifice He had with equal willingness adopted the prepared 
body : " Who being in the form of God thought it no robbery to be 
equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation; and being 
found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obe- 
dient unto death, even the death of the cross"; "Who, tho He 
were a Son, yet learned He obedience." And to give highest proof 
of this obedience unto death. He inwardly consecrated Himself to 
death, as He Himself testified: " I sanctify Myself for them." 

This leads to the important question, whether Jesus rendered 
this obedience and consecration outside of His human nature, or in 
it, so that it manifested itself in His human nature. Undoubtedly 
the latter. The divine nature can not learn, or be tempted; the 
Son could not love the Father with other than eternal love. In the 
divine nature there is no i?iore or less. To suppose this is to anni- 
hilate the divine nature. The statement that, " tho He were the 
Son, yet learned He obedience," does not mean that as God He 
learned obedience: for God can not obey. God rules, governs, 
commands, but never obeys. As King He can serve us only in 
the form of a slave, hiding His princely majesty, having emptied 
Himself, standing before us as one despised among men. " Tho He 
were the Son "means, therefore: altho in His inward Being He is 
God the Son, yet He stood before us in such lowliness that noth- 
ing betrayed His divinity; yea, so lowly that He even learned 

Wherefore if the Mediator as man showed in His human nature 
such zeal for God and such pity for sinners that He willingly gave 
Himself in self-sacrifice unto death, then it is evident that His human 
nature could not exercise such consecration without the inworking 
of the Holy Spirit; and again that the Holy Spirit could not have 
effected such inworking unless the Son willed and desired it. The 
cry of the Messiah is heard in the words of the psalmist : " I delight 
to do Thy will, O God." The Son was willing so to empty Him- 
self that it would be possible for His human nature to pass through 
eternal death; and to this end He let it be filled with all the mighti- 
ness of the Spirit of God. Thus the Son offered Himself " through 
the Eternal Spirit that we might serve the living God." 

Hence the work of the Holy Spirit in the work of redemption 
did not begin only at Pentecost, but the same Holy Spirit who in 


creation animates all life, upholds and qualifies our human nature, 
and in Israel and the prophets wrought the work of revelation, also 
prepared the body of Christ, adorned His human nature with 
gracious gifts, put these gifts into operation, installed Him into 
His office, led Him into temptation, qualified Him to cast out 
devils, and finally enabled Him to finish that eternal work of satis- 
faction whereby our souls are redeemed. 

This explains why Beza and Gomarus could not be fully satisfied 
with Calvin's exposition. Calvin said that it was the working of 
the Holy Spirit apart from the divinity of the Son. And they felt 
that there was something lacking. For the Son made Himself of 
no reputation and became obedient; but if all this is the work of 
the Holy Spirit, then nothing is left of the work of the Son. And 
to escape from this, they adopted the other extreme, and declared 
that the Eternal Spirit had reference only to the Son according to 
His divine nature — an exposition that can not be accepted, for the 
divine nature is never designated as spirit. 

Yet they were not altogether wrong. The reconciliation of 
these contrary views must be looked for in the diflEerence between 
the existence of the Holy Spirit without us, and Bis 7V or king within 
us as received by our nature and identified with its own working. And 
inasmuch as the Son, by His Godhead, enabled His human nature, 
in the awful conflict with eternal death, to effect this union, there- 
fore the apostle confesses that the sacrifice of the Mediator was 
rendered by the working of the Eternal Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit in the Glorified Christ. 

" Declared to be the Sou of God with 
power, according to the Spirit of 
holiness, by the resurrection from 
the dea.d."—/?om. i. 4. 

From the foregoing studies it appears that the Holy Spirit per- 
formed a work in the human nature of Christ as He descended the 
several steps of His humiliation to the death of the cross. 

The question now arises, whether He had also a work in the 
several steps of Christ's exaltation to the excellent glory. />., in 
His resurrection, ascension, royal dignity, and second coming. 

Before we answer this question, let us first consider the nature 
of this work in the exaltation. For it is evident that it must greatly 
differ from that in His humiliation. In the latter His human nature 
suffered violence. His sufferings antagonized not only His divine 
nature, but also His human nature. To suffer pam, insult, and 
mockery, to be scourged and crucified, goes against human nature. 
The effort to resist such sufferings and to escape from them is per- 
fectly natural. Christ's groaning in Gethsemane is the natural 
utterance of the human feeling. He was burdened with the curse 
and wrath of God against the sin of the race. Then human nature 
struggled against the burden, and the cry, " Father, let this cup 
pass from Me," was the sincere and natural cry of horror which 
human nature could not repress. 

And not in Gethsemane alone ; through His whole humiliation 
He experienced the same, tho in less degree. His self-emptying 
was not a single loss or bereavement, but a growing poorer and 
poorer, until at last nothing was left Him but a piece of ground 
where He could weep and a cross whereon He could die. He 
renounced all that heart and flesh hold dear, until, without friend 
or brother, without one tone of love, amid the mocking laughter 
of His slanderers. He gave up the ghost. Surely He trod the wine- 
press alone. 


His humiliation being so deep and real, it is not surprising that 
the Holy Spirit succored and comforted His human nature so that 
it was not overwhelmed. P'or it is the proper work of the Holy 
Spirit by gifts of grace to enable human nature, tempted by sor- 
row to sin, to stand firm and overcome. He animated Adam before 
the fall; He comforts and supports all the children of God to-day; 
and He did the same in the human nature of Jesus. What air is to 
man's physical nature, the Holy Spirit is to his spiritual nature. 
Without air there is death in our bodies; without the Holy Spirit 
there is death in our souls. And as Jesus had to die, tho He was 
the Son, when breath failed Him, so He could not live according to 
His human nature, tho He was the Son, except the Holy Spirit 
dwelt in that nature. Since, according to the spiritual side of His 
human nature, He was not dead as we are, but was born possessed 
of the life of God, so it was impossible for His human nature for a 
single moment to be without the Holy Spirit. 

But how different in the state of His exaltation ! Honor and 
glory are not against human nature, but satisfy it. It covets them 
and longs for them with all its energy of desire. Hence this exal- 
tation created no conflict in the soul of Jesus. His human nature 
needed no support to bear it. Hence the question: What, then, 
could the Holy Spirit do for the human nature in the state of glory? 

Regarding the resurrection, the Scripture teaches more than 
once that it was connected with a work of the Holy Spirit. St. 
Paul says (Rom. i. 4) that Jesus was " declared to be the Son of God, 
by the Spirit of holiness with power, by the resurrection from' the 
dead." And St. Peter says (i Peter iii. 18) that Christ " being put to 
death in the flesh, was quickened by the Spirit," which evidently 
refers to the resurrection, as the context shows: " For Christ once 
suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring 
us to God." His death points to the crucifixion, and His quicken- 
ing, being the opposite of the latter, undoubtedly refers to His 

In Rom. viii. 11, speaking of our resurrection, St. Paul explains 
these more or less puzzling utterances, affirming that " if the Spirit 
of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you. He that 
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal 
bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." This passage tells 
three things concerning our resurrection: 

First, that the Triune God shall raise us up. 


Second, that this shall be wrought by a special work of the 
Holy Spirit. 

Third, that it shall be effected by the Spirit that dwelleth in us. 

St. Paul induces us to apply these three to Christ; for He com- 
pares our resurrection with His, not only as regards the fact, but 
also as regards the working whereby it was effected. Hence with 
reference to the latter it must be confessed: 

First, that the Triune God raised Him from the dead. St. Peter 
stated this clearly on the day of Pentecost : " Whom God has raised 
up, having loosed the pains of death"; St. Paul repeated it in 
Ephes. i. 20, where he speaks of "His mighty power" which He 
wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead. 

Second, that God the Holy Spirit performed a peculiar work in 
the resurrection. 

Third, that He wrought this work in Christ from within, dwell- 
ing in Him: " Which dwelleth in you." 

The nature of this work is apparent from the Holy Spirit's part 
in Adam's creation and in our birth. If the Spirit kindles and 
brings forth all life, especially in man, then it was He who re- 
kindled the spark quenched by sin and death. He did so in Jesus; 
He will do so in us. 

The only remaining difficulty is on the third point : " Which 
dwelleth in you." The work of the Holy Spirit in our creation, and 
therefore in that of Christ's human nature, came frofti without ; in 
the resurrection it works from within. Of course persons dying 
without being temples of the Holy Spirit are excluded. St. Paul 
speaks exclusively of men whose hearts are His temples. Hence 
representing Him as dwelling in them, he speaks of Him as the 
Sj>irit of holiness, and Peter as the " Spirit" indicating that they do 
not refer to a work of the Holy Spirit in opposition to the spirit of 
Jesus, but in which His spirit agreed and cooperated. And this 
harmonizes with Christ's own words, that in the resurrection He 
would not be passive, but active : " I have power to lay down life 
and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have 
received of My Father." The apostles declare again and again not 
only that Jesus was raised from the dead, but that He has risen. 
He had thus foretold it, and the angels said: " Behold, He is risen." 

Hence we reach this conclusion, that the work of the Holy Spirit 
in the resurrection was different from that in the humiliation ; was 
similar to that in the creation ; and was performed from within by 


the Spirit who dwelt in Him without measure, who continued with 
Him through Bis death, and in whose work His 07vn spirit fully 

The work of the Holy Spirit in the exaltation of Christ is not so 
easily defined. The Scripture never speaks of it in connection with 
His ascension, His sitting at the right hand of the Father, nor with 
the Lord's second coming. Its connection with the descent at 
Pentecost will be treated in its proper place. Light upon these 
points can be obtained only from the scattered statements concern- 
ing the work of the Holy Spirit upon human nature in general. 
According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit belongs to our nature as the 
light to the eye ; not only in its sinful condition, but also in the sin- 
less state. From this we infer that Adam before he fell was not 
without His inworking; hence that in the heavenly Jerusalem our 
human nature will possess Him in richer, fuller, more glorious 
measure. For our sanctified nature is a habitation of God through 
the Spirit — Ephes. ii. 22. 

If, therefore, our blessedness in heaven consists in the enjoy- 
ment of the pleasures of God, and it is the Holy Spirit who comes 
into contact with our innermost being, it follows that in heaven He 
can not leave us. And upon this ground we confess, that not only 
the elect, but the glorified Christ also, who continues to be a true 
man in heaven, must therefore forever continue to be filled with the 
Holy Spirit. This our churches have always confessed in the Lit- 
urgy : " The same Spirit which dwelleth in Christ as the Head and 
in us as His members." 

The same Holy Spirit who performed His work in the concep- 
tion of our Lord, who attended the unfolding of His human nature, 
who brought into activity every gift and power in Him, who conse- 
crated Him to His ofiice as the Messiah, who qualified Him for 
every conflict and temptation, who enabled Him to cast out devils, 
and who supported Him in His humiliation, passion, and bitter 
death, was the same Spirit who performed His work in His resur- 
rection, so that Jesus was justified in the Spirit (i Tim. iii. 16), and 
who dwells now in the glorified human nature of the Redeemer in 
the heavenly Jerusalem. 

In this connection it should be noticed that Jesus said of His 
body: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 
The Temple was God's habitation on Zion; hence it was a symbol 
of that habitation of God that was to be set up in our hearts. 


Hence this saying refers not to the indwelling of the Sou in our 
flesh, but to that of the Holy Spirit in the human nature of Jesus. 
Wherefore St. Paul writes to the Corinthians : " Know ye not that 
your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?" If 
the apostle calls our bodies temples of the Holy Ghost, why should 
we take it in another sense with reference to Jesus? 

Tf Christ dwelt in onr fesh, i.e., in our human nature, body and 
soul, and if the Holy Ghost dwells, on the contrary, in the temple of 
our body, we see that Jesus Himself considered His death and resur- 
rection an awful process of suffering through which He must enter 
into glory, but without being for a single moment separated from 
the Holy Spirit. 

Seventb Cbapter* 

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

"The Holy Spirit was not yet given 
because that Jesus was not yet 
glorified."— /^,4« vii. 39. 

We have come to the most difficult part in the discussion of the 
work of the Holy Spirit, viz., the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on 
the tenth day after the ascension. 

In the treatment of this subject it is not our aim to create a new 
interest in the celebration of Pentecost. We consider this almost 
impossible. Man's nature is too unspiritual for this. But we shall 
reverently endeavor to give a clearer insight into this event to 
those in whose hearts the Holy Spirit has already begun His work. 

For, however simple the account of the second chapter of the 
Acts may seem, it is very intricate and hard to explain ; and he 
who earnestly tries to understand and explain the event will meet 
more and more serious difficulties as he penetrates more deeply 
into the inward connection of the Holy Scripture. For this reason 
we claim not that our exposition will entirely solve this mystery. 
We shall endeavor only to fix the sanctified mind of the people of 
God more earnestly upon it, and convince them that on the whole 
this subject is treated too superficially. 

Four difficulties meet us in the examination of this event: 

First, How shall we explain the fact that while the Holy Spirit 
was poured out only on Pentecost, the saints of the Old Covenant 
were already partakers of His gifts? 

Second, How shall we distinguish the outpouring of the Holy 
Spirit nineteen centuries ago from His entering into the soul of the 
unconverted to-day? 


Third, How could the apostles — having already confessed the 
good confession, forsaking all, following Jesus, and upon whom He 
had Dreathed, saying, " Receive ye the Holy Ghost "—receive the 
Holy Spirit only on the tenth day after the ascension? 

Fourth, How are we to explain the mysterious signs that accom- 
pany the outpouring? There are no angels praising God, but a 
sound is heard like that of a rushing, mighty wind , the glory of the 
Lord does not appear, but tongues of fire hover over their heads, 
there is no theophany, but a speaking in peculiar and uncommon 
sounds, understood, however, by those present. 

With reference to the ^rsf difficulty : How to explain the fact that, 
while the Holy Spirit was poured out only on Pentecost, the saints 
of the Old Covenant were already partakers of His gifts. Let us 
put this in the concrete: How are the following passages to be 
reconciled?—" I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts, and My Spirit 
remaineth among you, fear ye not" (Hag. ii. 4, 5) ; and " This spake 
He of the Holy Spirit which they that believe should receive , for 
the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet 
glorified" (John vii. 39). 

Scripture evidently seeks to impress us with the two facts, that 
the Holy Spirit came only on the day of Pentecost, and that the 
same Spirit had wrought already for centuries in the Church of 
the Old Covenant. Not only does St. John declare definitely that the 
Holy Spirit was not yet given, but the predictions of the prophets 
and of Jesus and the whole attitude of the apostles show that this 
fact may not in the least be weakened. 

Let us first examine the prophecies. Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Joel 
bear undeniable witness to the fact that this was the expectation of 
the prophets. 

Isaiah says : " The palaces shall be forsaken, the multitudes of 

the city shall be left — until the Spirit shall be poured upon us from on 

high ; then the wilderness shall be a fruitful field, and the fruitful 

field shall be counted for a forest; then judgment shall dwell in the 

wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field." This 

prophecy evidently refers to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit 

that shall effect a work of salvation on a large scale, for it closes 

with the promise : " And the work of righteousness shall be peace, 

and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever" 

(Isa. xxxii. 14-17). 

In like manner did Ezekiel prophesy : " Then will I sprinkle 


clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; a new heart also will 
I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will put My 
Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes ; and ye 
shall keep My judgments, and do them ,- and I will save you from all 
your uncleanness. Not for yourselves will I do this, saith the Lord, 
be it known unto you" (chap, xxxvi. 25). Ezek. xi. 19 gives the 
prelude of this prophecy : " Thus saith the Lord God, I will give 
them one heart, and I will give a new Spirit within them ; and I will 
take the stony heart out of their flesh, that they may walk in My 

Joel uttered his well-known prophecy : " And it shall come to 
pass afterward that I will pour My Spirit upon all flesh, and your 
sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream 
dreams, your young men shall see visions ; and also upon thy serv- 
ants and upon thy handmaidens in those days will I pour out My 
Spirit" (Joel ii. 30, 31) ; — a prophecy which, according to the author- 
itative exposition of St. Peter, refers directly to the day of Pentecost. 

Zechariah adds a beautiful prophecy (xii. 10) : " I will pour out 
the Spirit of grace and of supplication." 

It is true that these prophecies were given to Israel during its 
later period, when the vigorous spiritual life of the nation had 
already departed. But Moses expressed the same thought in his 
prophetic prayer: "Would God that all the Lord's people were 
prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them " (Num. 
xi. 29). But these prophecies are evidence of the Old Testament 
prophetic conviction that the dispensation of the Holy Spirit -in 
those days was exceedingly imperfect; that the real dispensation 
of the Holy Spirit was still tarrying; and that only in the days of 
the Messiah was it to come in all its fulness and glory. 

Regarding the second difficulty, our Lord repeatedly put the stamp 
of His divine authority upon this prophetic conviction, announcing 
to His disciples the still future coming of the Holy Spirit : " I will 
pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He 
may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the 
world can not receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knowetb 
Him, for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (John xiv. 16, 
17); "When the Comforter is come whom I will send from the 
Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, 
He shall testify of Me " (John xv. 26) ; " Behold, I send the promise 
of the Father upon you, and ye shall be endued with power from 


on high " (Luke xxiv. 49) ; " It is expedient 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 
reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment " (John 
xvi. 7, 8). And lastly: He commanded them not to depart from 
Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, " which, saith 
He, ye have heard of Me ; for John truly baptized with water, but 
ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 
And ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon 
you" (Acts i. 4, 5, 8). 

The third difficulty is met by the fact that the communications 
of the apostles agree with the teaching of Scripture. They actually 
tarried in Jerusalem, without even attempting to preach during the 
days between the ascension and Pentecost. And they explain the 
Pentecost miracle as the fulfilment of the prophecies of Joel and 
Jesus. They see in it something new and extraordinary; and show 
us clearly that in their day it was considered that a man who stood 
outside the Pentecost miracle knew nothing of the Holy Ghost. 
For the disciples of Ephesus being asked, " Have ye received the 
Holy Ghost?" answered naively: "We have not so much as heard 
whether there be any Holy Ghost." 

Wherefore it can not be doubted that the Holy Scripture means 
to teach and convince us that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on 
Pentecost was His first and real coming into the Church. 

But how can this be reconciled with Old Testament passages 
such as these? — " Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; 
and be strong, O Joshua, the High Priest; . . . for I am with you, 
. . . and My Spirit remaineth among you : fear ye not" (Hag. ii. 4, 5); 
and again : " Then He remembered the days of old, Moses, and His 
people, saying. Where is He that brought them up out of the sea 
with the Shepherd of His flock? where is He that put His Holy 
Spirit within them?" (Isa. Ixiii. 1 1). David is conscious that he had 
received the Holy Spirit, for after his fall he prays: " Take not Thy 
Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm li. 13). There was a sending forth of 
the Spirit, for we read : " Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, and they 
are created ; and Thou renewest the face of the earth " (Psalm civ. 30), 
There seems to have been an actual descending of the Holy Spirit, 
for Ezekiel says : " The Spirit of the Lord fell upon me " (chap. xi. 
5). Micah testified : " Truly I am full of the power by the Spirit of 
the Lord" (chap. iii. 8). Of John the Baptist it is written, that he 


should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb — Luke 
i. 15. Even the Lord Himself was filled with the Holy Spirit, 
whom He received without measure. That Spirit came upon Him 
at Jordan, how then could He be spoken of as still to come? — a 
question all the more puzzling since we read that in the evening 
of the resurrection Jesus breathed upon His disciples, saying: 
"Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John xx. 22). 

It has been necessary to present this large series of testimonies 
to show our readers the difficulty of the problem which we will 
endeavor to solve in the next article. 


The Holy Spirit in the New Testament Other than in 

the Old. 

" By His Spirit which dwelleth in 
you." — Horn. viii. ii. 

In order to understand the change inaugurated on Pentecost we 
must distinguish between the various ways in which the Holy Ghost 
enters into relationship with the creature. 

With the Christian Church we confess that the Holy Spirit is 
true and eternal God, and therefore omnipresent; hence no crea- 
ture, stone or animal, man or angel, is excluded from His presence. 

With reference to His omniscience and omnipresence, David 
sings : " Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee 
from Thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, Thou art there ; if I 
make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings 
of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even 
there shall Thy hand lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me." 
These words state positively that omnipresence belongs to the Holy 
Spirit ; that neither in heaven nor in hell, in the east nor in the 
west, is there a spot or point from which He is excluded. 

This simple consideration is, for the matter under discussion, of 
the greatest importance; for it follows that the Holy Spirit can not 
be said ever to have moved from one place to another; to have 
been among Israel, but not among the nations ; to have been pres- 
ent after the day of Pentecost where He was not before. All such 
representations directly oppose the confession of His omnipresence, 
eternity, and immutability. The Omnipresent One can not go trom 
one place to another, for He can not come where He is already. 
And to suppose that He is omnipresent at one time and not at 
another is inconsistent with His eternal Godhead. The testimony 
of John the Baptist. " I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like 
a dove, audit abode on Him." and that of St. Luke. "The Holy 
Spirit fell on all them which heard the Word," may not therefore 


be understood as tho the Holy Spirit came to a place where He was 
not before, which is impossible. 

However — and this is the first distinction which will throw light 
upon the matter — David's description of omnipresence applies to 
local presence in space, but not to the world of spirits. 

We know not what spirits are, nor what our own spirit is. In 
the body we can distinguish between nerves and blood, bones and 
muscles, and we know something of their functions in the organism ; 
but how a spirit exists, moves, and works, we can not tell. We 
only know that it exists, moves, and works in an entirely different 
way from that of the body. When a brother dies nobody opens a 
door or window for the exit of the soul ; for we know that neither 
wall nor ceiling can hinder it in its heavenward flight. In prayer 
we whisper so as not to be overheard ; yet we believe that the man 
Jesus Christ hears every word. The swiftness of a thought exceeds 
that of electricity. In a word, the limitations of the material world 
seem to disappear in the realm of spirits. 

Even the working of spirit on matter is wonderful. The average 
weight of an adult is about one hundred and sixty pounds. It takes 
three or four men to carry a dead body of that weight to the top of 
a high building; yet when the man was alive his spirit had the 
power to carry this weight up and down those flights of stairs easily 
and quickly. But where the spirit takes hold of the body, how it 
moves it, and where it obtains that swiftness, is for us a perfect 
mystery. Yet this shows that spirit is subject to laws wholly 
different from those that govern matter. 

We emphasize the word law. According to the analogy of faith, 
there must be laws that govern the spiritual world as there are in 
the natural; yet owing to our limitations we can not know them. 
But in heaven we shall know them, and all the glories and particu- 
lars of the spiritual world, as our physicians know the nerves and 
tissues of the body. 

This we know, however, that that which applies to matter does 
not therefore apply to spirit. God's omnipresence has reference 
to all space, but not to every spirit. Since God is omnipresent, it 
does not follow that He also dwells in the spirit of Satan. Hence 
it is clear that the Holy Spirit can be omnipresent without dwelling 
in every human soul; and that He can descend without changing 
place, and yet enter a soul hitherto unoccupied by Him; and that 
He was present among Israel and among the Gentiles, and yet 


manifested Himself among the former and not among the latter. 
From this it follows that in the spiritual world He can come where 
He was not; that He came among Israel, not having been among 
them before , and that then He manifested Himself among them 
less powerfully and in another way than on and before the day of 

The Holy Spirit seems to act upon a human being in a twofold 
manner — from without, or from within. The difference is similar to 
that in the treatment of the human body by the physician and the 
surgeon : the former acts upon it by medicines taken inwardly ; the 
latter by incisions and outward applications. A very defective 
comparison, indeed, but it may illustrate faintly the twofold opera- 
tion of the Holy Spirit upon the souls of men. 

In the beginning we discover only an outward imparting of cer- 
tain gifts. On Samson He bestows great physical strength. Aho- 
liab and Bezaleel are endowed with artistic talent to build the 
tabernacle. Joshua is enriched with military genius. These 
operations did not touch the center of the soul, and were not 
saving, but merely external. They become more enduring when 
they assume an official character as in Saul ; altho in him we find the 
best evidence of the fact that they are only outward and temporal. 
They assume a higher character when they receive the prophetic 
stamp; altho Balaam's example shows us that even thus they pene- 
trate not to the center of the soul, but affect man only outwardly. 

But in the Old Testament there was also an inward operation in 
believers. Believing Israelites were saved. Hence they must have 
received saving grace. And since saving grace is out of the ques- 
tion without an inward working of the Holy Spirit, it follows that 
He was the Worker of faith in Abraham as well as in ourselves. 

The difference between the two operations is apparent. A per- 
son outwardly wrought upon may become enriched with outward 
gifts, while spiritually he remains as poor as ever. Or, having 
received the inward gift of regeneration, he may be devoid of every 
talent that adorns man outwardly. 

Hence we have these three aspects : 

First, there is the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit in space, the 
same in heaven and in hell, among Israel and among the nations. 

Second, there is a spiritual operation of the Holy Spirit accord- 
ing to choice, which is not omnipresent ; active in heaven, but not 
in hell ; among Israel, but not among the nations. 


Third, this spiritual operation works either from without, im- 
parting losable gifts, or from within, imparting the unlosable gift 
of salvation. 

We have spoken so far of the work of the Holy Spirit upon indi- 
vidual persons, which was sufficient to explain that work in the 
days of the Old Testament. But when we come to the day of Pen- 
tecost, this no longer suffices. For His particular operation, on 
and after that day, consists in the extending of His operation to a 
company of men organically united. 

God did not create humanity as a string of isolated souls, but as 
a race. Hence in Adam the souls of all men are fallen and defiled. 
In like manner the new creation in the realm of grace has not 
wrought the generation of isolated individuals, but the resurrection 
of a new race, a peculiar people, a holy priesthood. And this favored 
race, this peculiar people, this holy priesthood is also organically 
one and partaking of the same spiritual blessing. 

The Word of God expresses this by teaching that the elect con- 
stitute one body, of which all are members, one being a foot, another 
an eye, and another an ear, etc. — a representation that conveys the 
idea that the elect mutually sustain the relation of a vital, organic, 
and spiritual union. And this is not merely outwardly, by mutual 
love, but much more through a vital communion which is theirs by 
virtue of their spiritual origin. As our Liturgy beautifully ex- 
presses it : " For as out of many grains one meal is ground and one 
bread baked, and out of many berries, being pressed together, one 
wine floweth and mixeth itself together, so shall we all, who by a 
true faith are ingrafted into Christ, be altogether one body." 

This spiritual union of the elect did not exist among Israel, nor 
could it exist during their time. There was a union of love, but 
not a spiritual and vital fellowship that sprang from the root of life. 
This spiritual union of the elect was made possible only by the 
incarnation of the Son of God. The elect are men consisting of 
body and soul ; therefore it is partly at least a visible body. And 
only when in Christ the perfect man was given, who could be the 
temple of the Holy Spirit body and soul, did the inflowing and out- 
pouring of the Holy Spirit become established in and through the 
body thus created. 

However, this did not occur directly after the birth of Christ, 
but after His ascension ; for His human nature did not unfold its 
fullest perfection until after He had ascended, when, as the glori- 


fied Son of God, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. 
Only then the perfect Man was given, who on the one hand could 
be the temple of the Holy Ghost without hindrance, and on the 
other unite the spirits of the elect into one body. And when, by 
His ascension and sitting down at the right hand of God. this had 
become a fact, when thus the elect had become one body, it was j / 
perfectly natural that from the Head the indwelling of the Holy 7 
Spirit was imparted to the whole body. And thus the Holy Spirit * 
was poured out into the body of the Lord, His elect, the Church. 

In this way everything becomes plain and clear : clear why the 
saints of the Old Testament did not receive the promise, that with- 
out us they should not be made perfect, waiting for that perfection 
until the formation of the body of Christ, into which they also were 
to be incorporated ; clear that the tarrying of the outpouring of the 
Holy Spirit did not prevent saving grace from operating upon the 
individual souls of the saints of the Old Covenant; clear the word 
of John, that the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was 
not yet glorified; clear that the apostles were born again long 
before Pentecost and received official gifts on the evening of the 
day of the resurrection, altho the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 
the body thus formed did not take place until Pentecost. It becomes 
clear how Jesus could say, " If I go not away the Comforter will not 
come unto you," and again, " But if I go I will send Him unto you"; 
for the Holy Spirit was to flow into His body from Himself, who is 
the Head. It becomes clear also that He would not send Him from 
Himself, but from the Father; clear why this outpouring of the 
Spirit into the body of Christ is never repeated, and could occur 
but once ; and lastly, clear that the Holy Spirit was indeed stand- 
ing in the midsi of Israel (Isa. Ixiii. 12), working upon the saints 
from without, while in the New Testament He is said to be wit/iin 

We arrive, therefore, at the following conclusions: 

First, the elect must constitute one body. 

Second, they were not so constituted during the days of the 
Old Covenant, of John the Baptist, and of Christ while on earth. 

Third, this body did not exist until Christ ascended to heaven 
and, sitting at the right hand of God, bestowed upon this body its 
unity, in that God gave Him to be Head over all things to the 
Church — Ephes. iv. 12. 

Lastly, Christ as the glorified Head, having formed His spiritual 


body by the vital union of the elect, on the day of Pentecost poured 
out His Holy Spirit into the whole body, never more to let Him depart 
from it. 

That these conclusions contain nothing but what the Church of 
all ages has confessed appears from the fact that the Reformed 
churches have always maintained : 

First, that our communion with the Holy Spirit depends upon 
our mystic union with the body of which Christ is the Head, which 
is the underlying thought of the Lord's Supper. 

Second, that the elect form one body under Christ their Head. 

Third, that this body began to exist when it received its Head; 
and that, according to Ephes. i. 22, Christ was given to be the Head 
after His resurrection and ascension. 

Israel and the Nations. 

"Because that on the Gentiles also 
was poured out the gift of the 
Holy Ghost."— Acis x. 45. 

The question that arises with reference to Pentecost is : Since 
the Holy Spirit imparted saving grace to men before and after 
Pentecost, what is the difference caused by that descent of the 
Holy Spirit? 

An illustration may explain the difference. The rain descends 
from heaven and man gathers it to quench his thirst. When house- 
holders collect it each in his own cistern, it comes down for every 
family separately ; but when, as in modern city life, every house is 
supplied from the city reservoir, by means of mains and water-pipes, 
there is no more need of pumps and private cisterns. Suppose that 
a city whose citizens for ages have been drinking each from his 
own cistern proposes to construct a reservoir that will supply 
every home. When the work is completed the water is allowed to 
run through the system of mains and pipes into every house. It 
might then be said that on that day the water was poured out into 
the city. Hitherto it fell upon every man's roof; now it streams 
through the organized system into every man's house. 

Apply this to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the differ- 
ence before and after Pentecost will be apparent. The mild show- 
ers of the Holy Spirit descended upon Israel of old in drops of saving 
grace ; but in such a manner only that each gathered of the heavenly 
rain /of himself, to quench the thirst of each heart separately. So it 
continued until the coming of Christ. Then there came a change; 
for He gathered the full stream of the Holy Spirit for us all, in His 
<nvn Person. With Him all saints are connected by the channels of 
faith. And when, after His ascension, this Connection with His 
saints was completed, and He had received the Holy Spirit from 
His Father, then the last obstacle was removed and the full stream 


of the Holy Spirit came rushing through the connecting channels 
into the heart of every believer. 

Formerly isolation, every man for himself; now organic union 
of all the members under their one Head: this is the difference 
between the days before and after Pentecost. The essential fact of 
Pentecost consisted in this, that on that day the Holy Spirit entered 
for the first time into the organic body of the Church, and individ- 
uals came to drink, not each by himself, but all together in organic 

To the question where that system of connecting channels uni- 
ting us in one body under our Head may be found, we can give 
no answer. This belongs to things invisible and spiritual which 
escape our observation, of which we can have no other representa- 
tion than that by an image. 

Yet this does not alter the fact that the organic union really 
exists. The Word of God is to us its undeniable witness. Organic 
life appears in nature in two forms : in the plant, and in the body 
of man and animal. These are the very types that Christ uses to 
illustrate the spiritual union between Himself and His people. He 
said: "I am the Vine, ye are the branches." And St. Paul speaks 
of having become one plant with Christ. And he frequently uses 
the image of the body and its members. 

Hence there can be no doubt that there exists a mystic union 
between Christ and believers which works by means of an organic 
connection, uniting the Head and the members in a for us invisible 
and incomprehensible manner. By means of this organic -union 
the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost from Christ the Head 
into us, the members of His body. 

If it were possible to construct the city's water-works in the air 
above the city, the chief engineer could properly say : " When I turn 
on the water for the first time I will baptize the city with water. " 
In similar sense Christ may be said to have baptized His Church 
with the Holy Spirit. For the word of John the Baptist, " I indeed 
baptize you with water, but He that cometh after me is mightier 
than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost," is explained by 
Christ Himself as referring to the day of Pentecost (Acts i. 5) : 
" And being assembled together with Him, He commanded them 
that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the 
promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For 
John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with thj 


Holy Ghost not many days hence"'; — a promise that undoubtedly 
referred to the Pentecost miracle. This agrees with the fact that 
Jesus during His ministry allowed His disciples to continue the 
Baptism of John. And this shows that even before the crucifixion, 
John and Peter, Philip and Zaccheus, and many others received 
saving grace of the Holy Spirit, each for himself, but none of them 
was baptized with the Holy Spirit before the day of Pentecost. 

With reference to the apostles, we must therefore distinguish a 
threefold giving of the Holy Spirit : 

First, that of saving grace in regeneration and subsequent illu- 
mination — Matt. xvi. 17. 

Secondly, official gifts qualifying them for the apostolic office — 
John XX. 22. 

Thirdly, the Baptism with the Holy Ghost — Acts i. 5 in connec- 
tion with Acts ii. iff. 

One more difficulty remains. We often read of outpourings of 
the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. How can this be reconciled with 
our explanation? In Acts x. 44, 45 we read: "While Peter yet 
spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all who heard the word. 
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, 
as many as came with Peter, because on the Gentiles also was 
poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." And Peter confirms this 
by saying : " Can any man forbid water that these should not be 
baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" 
From this it is evident that the outpouring on the house of Cor- 
nelius was of the same nature as that on Pentecost. Moreover, we 
hear of a descent of the Holy Ghost in Samaria (Acts viii.), and of 
another in Ephesus (Acts xix. 6). This descent took place in both 
instances after the laying on of hands by the apostles; and at 
Cassarea and Corinth it was followed by a speaking with foreign 
tongues as in Jerusalem. 

It is evident, therefore, that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit 
was not limited to Pentecost in Jerusalem, but was afterward re- 
peated in a weaker and modified form, but still extraordinarily, as 
on Pentecost. 

And who would deny that there is an outpouring of the Holy 
Spirit to-day in the churches? Without it there can be no regen- 
eration, no salvation. Yet the Pentecost signs are lacking, e.g., 
there is no more speaking with tongues. Hence it is necessary to 


distinguish between the ordinary outpouring which occurs now, and 
the extraordinary at Corinth, Caesarea, Samaria, and Jerusalem. 

Hence the question stands as follows : If on the day of Pentecost 
the Holy Spirit was poured out once for all and forever, how do we 
account for the ordinary and extraordinary outpourings? 

Allow us once more to recur to our former illustration. Suppose 
that the city above referred to consisted of a lower and an upper 
part, both to be supplied from the same reservoir. Upon the com- 
pletion of its system the lower city may receive the water first, and 
the upper part receive it only after the system shall have been ex- 
tended. Here we notice two things: the distribution of the water 
took place but once, which was the for7nal opening of the water- 
works, and could take place but once ; while the distribution of the 
water in the upper city, altho extraordinary, was but an after-effect 
of the former event. This is a fair illustration of what took place 
in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Church consisted of two 
parts sharply defined, viz., the Jewish and the Gentile world. Yet 
both are to constitute one body, one people, one Church ; both are 
to live one life in the Holy Ghost. On Pentecost He is poured out 
into the body, but only to quench the thirst of one part, i.e., the 
Jewish; the other part is still excluded. But now apostles and 
evangelists start from Jerusalem and come into contact with the 
Gentiles, and the hour has come for the stream of the Holy Ghost 
to pour forth into the Gentile part of the Church, and the whole 
body is refreshed by the same Holy Spirit. Hence there is an 
original outpouring in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, ^nd a 
supple tnentary outpouring in Caesarea for the Gentile part of the 
Church; both of the same nature, but each bearing its own special 

Besides these there are some isolated outpourings of the Holy 
Spirit, attended by the laying on of the apostles' hands, as in the 
case of Simon Magus. We explain this as follows : as from time 
to time new connections are made between individual houses and 
the city reservoir, so new parts of the body of Christ were added to 
the Church from without, into whom the Holy Spirit was poured 
forth from the body as into new members. It is perfectly natural 
that in these cases the apostles appear as instruments ; and that, 
receiving into the Church persons that come from a part of the 
world not yet connected with the Church, they extend to them by 


the laying on of hands the fellowship of the Holy Ghost who dwells 
in the body. 

This also explains why to-day newly converted persons receive 
the Holy Spirit only in the ordinary way. For they who are con- 
verted among us stand already in the covenant, belong already to the 
seed of the Church and to the body of Christ. * Hence no new con- 
nection is formed, but a work of the Holy Spirit is wrought in a 
soul with which He was already related by means of the body. 

And thus every objection is met and every detail is put in its 
own place, and the lines of the domain which had become vague 
and confused are once more clearly drawn. 

It is evident also that the prayer for another outpouring or bap- 
tism of the Holy Spirit is incorrect and empty of real meaning. 
Such prayer actually denies the Pentecost miracle. For He that 
came and abides with us can no more come to us. 

*The author refers either to persons baptized in infancy, instructed by 
the ministers of the Word in the doctrines of the Church and at suitable age 
received into the Church on confession of their faith, or to persons not so 
received into the Church, and then on the ground that Holland belongs to 
the baptized nations. — Trans. 

The Signs of Pentecost. 

" Signs in the earth beneath." — 
Acts ii. 19. 

Let tis now consider the signs that accompanied the outpouring 
of the Holy Spirit — the sound of a rushing, mighty wind; tongues 
of fire ; and the speaking with other tongues — which constitute the 
fourth difficulty that meets us in the investigation of the events of 
Pentecost (see p. 113). The first and second precede, the third 
follows the outpouring. 

These signs are not merely symbolic. The speaking with other 
tongues, at least, appears as part of the narrative. Symbols are 
intended to represent or indicate something or to call the attention 
to it; hence it may be omitted without affecting the matter itself. 
A symbol is like a finger-post on the road: it may be removed 
without affecting the road. If the Pentecost signs were purely 
symbolic, the event would have been the same without them ; but 
the absence of the sign of other tongues would have modified the 
character of the subsequent history completely. 

This justifies the supposition that the two preceding signs were 
also constituent parts of the miracle. The fact that neither of them 
is an apt symbol strengthens the supposition ; for a symbol must 
speak. The finger-post that leaves the traveler in doubt concern- 
ing the direction he is to take is no finger-post. Considering the 
fact that for eighteen centuries theologians have been unable to 
ascertain the significance of the so-called symbols with any degree 
of certainty, it must be acknowledged that it is difficult to believe 
that the apostles or the multitude understood their significance at 
once and in the same way. The issue proves the contrary. They 
did not understand the signs. The multitude, confounded and pc-- 
plexed, said one to another: "What meaneth this?" And when 
Peter arose as an apostle, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, to inter- 
pret the miracle, he made no effort to attach any symbolic signifi- 


cance to the signs, but simply declared that an event had taken 
place by which the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled. 

Did the event of Pentecost then exhaust the prophecy of Joel? 
By no means; for the sun was not turned into darkness, nor the 
moon into blood; and we hear nothing of the dreams of old men. 
Nor could it ; the notable day that will exhaust this and so many 
other prophecies can not come until the return of the Lord. But 
the holy apostle meant to say, that the day of the Lord's return 
was brought so much nearer by this event. The outpouring of the 
Holy Spirit is one of the great events which pledge the coming of 
that great and notable day. Without it that day can not come. 
Looking back from heaven, the day of Pentecost will appear to us 
as the last great miracle immediately preceding the day of the 
Lord. And since that day shall be attended by awful signs, as was 
the preparatory day of Pentecost, the apostle puts them together 
and makes them appear as one, showing that in Joel's prophecy 
God points to both events. 

If it be certain that the signs attending the Lord's return— blood, 
fire, and vapor of smoke — shall not be symbolic, but constituent ele- 
ments of that last part of the world's history, viz., its last conflagra- 
tion, then it is certain that Peter did not understand the signs of 
Pentecost to be symbolic. 

Neither can the still more unsatisfactory explanation be enter- 
tained that these signs were intended to draw and fix the attention 
of the multitude. 

The senses of sight and hearing are the most effectual means by 
which the outside world can act upon our consciousness. In order 
suddenly to arouse and excite a person, one need only startle him 
by an explosion or by the flash of a dazzling light. Acting upon 
this, some of the earlier Methodists used to fire pistols at their re- 
vival meetings, hoping that the report and flash would create the 
desired state of mind. The subsequent excitement of the people 
would tend to make them more susceptible to the operation of the 
Holy Spirit. Similar experiments are those of the Salvation Army. 
According to this notion, the signs of Pentecost bore a similar char- 
acter. It is supposed by some that the disciples, still unconverted 
men, were sitting together in the upper chamber on the day of Pen- 
tecost. To render them susceptible to the inflowing of the Holy 
Spirit they must be aroused by a noise and fire. It must seem as 
tho a violent thunder-storm had burst upon the city ; flashes of light- 


ning and peals of thunder were seen and heard. And when the 
multitude were startled and terrified, then the desired condition for 
receiving the Holy Spirit prevailed and the outpouring took place. 
Such extravagances only hurt the tender sense of the children of 
God ; while it is almost sacrilege to compare the signs of Pentecost 
to the report of a pistol. 

Hence there remains only one other explanation, i.e., to consider 
the Pentecost signs as actual and real constituents of the event ; in- 
dispensable links in the chain of occurrences. 

When a ship enters the harbor we see the foaming spray under 
the bow and hear the waters dashing against the sides. When a 
horse runs through the street we hear the noise of his hoofs against 
the pavement and see the clouds of dust. But who will say that 
these things seen and heard are symbolic? They necessarily belong 
to those actions and are parts of them, impossible without them. 
Therefore we do not believe that the Pentecost signs were symbolic, 
or intended to create a sensation, but that they belonged insep- 
arably to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and were caused by 
it. The outpouring could not take place without creating these 
signs. When the mountain-stream dashes down the steep sides of 
the rocks we must hear the sound of rushing waters, we must see 
the flying spray; so when the Holy Spirit flows down from the 
mountains of God's holiness, the sound of a rushing, mighty wind 
must be heard, and glorious brightness must be seen, and a speak- 
ing with foreign tongues must follow. 

This will sufficiently explain our meaning. Not that we deny 
that these signs had also a significance for the multitude. The 
noise of the horse's hoofs warns travelers on the road. And we 
concede that the purpose of the signs was realized in the perplexity 
and consternation which they caused in the hearts of those present. 
But this we maintain, that even in the absence of the multitude and 
their consternation the sound of a rushing, mighty wind would have 
been heard and the fiery tongues would have been seen. As the 
horse's hoofs cause the ground to vibrate tho there be no traveler 
in sight, so the Holy Spirit could not come down without* that sound 
and that brightness, even tho not a single Jew were to be found in 
all Jerusalem. 

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was real, not apparent. Hav- 
ing found His temple in the glorified Head, He must necessarily 
flow down into the body and descend from heaven. And this 


descent from heaven and this flowing into the body could not take 
place without causing these signs. 

To penetrate more deeply into this matter is not lawful. On 
Horeb Elijah heard the Lord pass by in a gentle breeze; Isaiah 
heard the moving of the door-posts in the Temple. This seems to 
indicate that the approach of the divine majesty causes a commo- 
tion in the elements perceptible to the auditory nerve. But how, 
we can not tell. We observe, however: 

First, that spirit can act upon matter is evident, for our spirits 
act upon the body every moment, and by that action are able to 
produce sounds. Speaking, crying, singing are nothing but our 
spirit acting upon the currents of air. And if our spirit is capable 
of such action, why not the Spirit of the Lord? Why, then, call it 
mysterious when the Holy Spirit in His descent so wrought upon 
the elements that the effects vibrated in the ears of those present? 

Secondly, in making the covenant with Israel upon Sinai, the 
Lord God spoke in peals of thunder so terrible that even Moses 
said, "I am exceedingly fearful and quaking"; yet not with the 
intention of terrifying the people, but because a holy and angry 
God can not speak otherwise to a sinful generation. It is not 
therefore surprising that the coming of God to His New Covenant 
people is attended by similar signs, not in order to draw men's 
attention, but because it could not be otherwise. 

The same applies to the tongues of fire. Supernatural manifes- 
tations are always attended by light and brightness, especially when 
the Lord Jehovah or His angel appears. Recall, e.g., God's cove- 
nant-making with Abraham, or the occurrences at the burning bush. 
Why, then, should it surprise us that the descent of the Holy Spirit 
was attended by phenomena such as those seen by Elijah on Horeb, 
Moses in the bush, St. Paul on the way to Damascus, and St. John 
on Patmos? That the cloven tongues sat upon each of them proves 
nothing to the contrary; for He proceeded to each of them and 
entered their hearts, and in each going He left a trace of light 

The question, whether the fire seen by these men on those occa- 
sions belonged to a higher sphere, or was the effect of God's action 
upon the elements of the earth, can not be answered. 

Both views have much in their favor. There is no darkness in 
heaven ; and the heavenly light must be of a higher nature than 
ours, even above the brightness of the sun, according to St. Paul's 


description of the light on the way to Damascus. It is very prob- J 

able, therefore, that in these great events the boundary of heaven ■ 

overlapped the earth, and a higher glory shone in upon our atmos- 

But, on the other hand, it is possible that the Holy Spirit 
wrought this mysterious brightness directly by a miracle. And 
this seems to be confirmed by the fact that the signs attending the 
law-giving on Sinai, which event was parallel to this, were not 
from higher spheres, but wrought from earthly elements. 

Finally, let it be noticed, that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit 
on the house of Cornelius and on the disciples of Apollos was at- 
tended by a speaking with other tongues, but not by the other signs. 
This confirms our theory; for it was not a coming to the house of 
Cornelius, but a conducting of the Holy Spirit into another part of 
the body of Christ. If symbolism had been intended, the signs 
would have been repeated ; not being symbols, they did not appear. 


The Miracle of Tong^ues. 

•' If any man speak in an (unknown) 
tongue, ... let one interpret. But 
if there be no interpreter, let him 
speak to himself, and to God." — i 
Cor. xiv. 27, 28. 

The third sign following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit con- 
sisted in extraordinary sounds that proceeded from the lips of the 
apostles — sounds foreign to the Aramaic tongue, never before heard 
from their lips. 

These sounds affected the multitude in different ways: some 
called them babblings of inebriated men ; others heard in them the 
great works of God proclaimed. To the latter, it seemed as tho 
they heard them speaking in their own tongues. To the Parthian 
it sounded like the Parthian, to the Arabian like the Arabic, etc. ; 
while St. Peter declared that this sign belonged to the realm of rev- 
elation, for it was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel that all the 
people should become partakers of the operation of the Holy Spirit. 

The question how to interpret this wonderful sign has occupied 
the thinking minds of all times. Allow us to offer a solution, which 
we present in the following observations : 

In the first place — This phenomenon of spiritual speaking in ex- 
traordinary sounds is not confined to Pentecost nor to the second 
chapter of the Acts. 

On the contrary, the Lord told His disciples, even before the 
ascension, that they should speak with new tongues — Mark xvi. 18. 
And from the epistles of St. Paul it is evident that this prophecy 
did not refer to Pentecost alone; for we read in i Cor. xii. 10 that in 
the apostolic Church, spiritual gifts included that of tongues; that 
some spoke in yhri yluTTuv, i.e., in kinds of tongues or sounds. In 
ver. 28 the apostle declares that God has set this spiritual phenome- 
non in the Church. It is noteworthy that in 1 Cor. xiv. 1-33 the 
apostle gives special attejxtion to this extraordinary sign, showing 


that then it was quite ordinary. That the gift of tongues mentioned 
by St. Paul and the sign of which St. Luke speaks in Acts ii. are 
substantially one and the same can not be doubted. In the first 
place, Christ's prophecy is general : " They shall speak with new 
tongues." Secondly, both phenomena are said to have made irre- 
sistible impressions upon unbelievers. Thirdly, both are treated as 
spiritual gifts. And lastly, to both is applied the same name. 

Yet there was a \Qxy perceptible difference between the two: the 
miracle of tongues on the day of Pentecost was intelligible to a 
large number of hearers of different nationalities; while in the 
apostolic churches it was understood only by a few who were called 
interpreters. Connected with this is the fact that the miracle on 
Pentecost made the impression of speaking at once to different 
hearers in different tongues so that they were edified. However, 
this is no fundamental difference. Altho in the apostolic churches 
there were but few interpreters, yet there were some who under- 
stood the wonderful speech. 

There was, moreover, a marked difference between the men thus 
endowed : some understood what they were saying ; others did not. 
For St. Paul admonishes them, saying: " Let him that speaketh in 
an unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret" (i Cor. xiv. 13). 
Yet even without this ability, the speaking with tongues had an 
edifying effect upon the speaker himself; but it was an edification 
not understood, the effect of an unknown operation in the soul. 

From this we gather that the miracle of tongues consisted in the 
uttering of extraordinary sounds which from existing data 
explained neither by the speaker nor by the hearer ; and to which 
another grace was sometimes added, viz., that of interpretation. 
Hence three things were possible : that the speaker alone understood 
what he said; or, that others understood it and «^/ himself ; or, that 
both speaker and hearers understood it. This understanding has 
reference to one or more persons. 

On the ground of this we comprise these miracles of tongues in 
one class; with this distinction, however, that on the day of Pente- 
cost the miracle appeared perfect, but later on incomplete. As there 
is in the miracles of Christ in raising the dead a perceptible increase 
of power: first, the raising up of one just dead (the daughter of 
Jairus), then, of one about to be buried (the young man of Nain), and 
lastly, of one already decomposing (Lazarus) ; so there is also in the 
miracle of tongues a difference of power — not increasing, but decreas- 


ing. The mightiest operation of the Holy Spirit is seen first, then 
those less powerful. It is precisely the same as in our own heart: 
first, the mighty fact of regeneration ; after that, the less marked 
manifestations of spiritual power. Hence on Pentecost there was 
the miracle of tongues in its perfection ; later on in the churches, 
in weaker measure. 

Secondly — There is no evidence that the miracle of tongues con- 
sisted in the speaking of one of the known languages not previously 

If this had been the case, St. Paul could not have said: "If I 
pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understand- 
ing is unfruitful " (i Cor. xiv. 14). The word " unknown " appears 
in italics, not being found in the Greek. Moreover, he says that 
tongues are for a sign not to them that believe, but to them that 
believe not — ver. 22. If it had been a question of foreign but 
ordinary languages, the matter of understanding them could not 
depend upon faith, but simply upon the fact whether the language 
was acquired by study or was one's native tongue. 

Finally, the notion that these tongues refer to foreign languages 
not acquired by study is contradicted by St. Paul : " I thank my 
God that I speak with tongues more than ye all." By which he can 
not mean that he had mastered more languages than others, but 
that he possessed the gift of tongues in greater degree than other 
men. The following verse is evidence : " Yet in the Church I had 
rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach 
others also, than ten thousand words in an (unknown) tongue." 
According to the other view, this ought to have been : " I wish to 
speak in one language, so that the Church may understand me, 
rather than in ten or twenty languages which the Church under- 
stands not." But the apostle does not say this. He speaks not of 
many languages in opposition to one, but of five sounds or words 
against ten thousand words. From this it follows that St. Paul's 
" I speak vfith. glottal (langfuages or sounds) more than ye all," must 
refer to the miracle of sounds. 

For altho it is objected very naturally that on Pentecost the 
apostles spoke the Arabic, Hebrew, and Parthian tongues besides 
many others, yet the fact appealed to is not proven to be a fact. 
Surely we learn from Acts ii, that these Parthians, Elamites, etc., 
received the impression that they were addressed each in his own 


tongue ; yet the narrative itself proves rather the contrary. Let the 
experiment be tried. Let fifteen men (the number of languages 
mentioned in Acts ii.) speak in fifteen different languages at once 
and together, and the result will be not that every one hears his 
own language, but that no one can hear anything. But the nar- 
rative of Acts ii. is fully explained in that the apostles uttered 
sounds intelligible to Parthians, Medes, Cretans, etc., because they 
understood them, receiving the impression that these sounds agreed 
with their own mother-tongues. As a Dutch child seeing a problem 
on the blackboard worked out by an English or German child 
naturally receives the impression that it was done by a Dutch child, 
simply because figures are signs not affected by the difference of 
language, so must the Elamite have received the impression that 
he heard the Elamitian, and the Egyptian that he was addressed in 
the Egyptian tongue, when on Pentecost they heard sounds uttered 
by a miracle, which, being independent from the difference of lan- 
guage, were intelligible to man as nian. 

We must not forget that speaking is nothing else than to pro- 
duce impressions upon the soul of the hearer by means of vibrations 
in the air. But if the same impressions can be produced without 
the aid of air-vibrations, the effect upon the hearer must be the 
same. Try the experiment upon the eye. The sight of twinkling 
stars or dissolving figures excites the retina. The same effect can 
be produced by rubbing the eye with the finger when reclining 
on a couch in a dark room. And this applies here. The air- 
vibrations are not the principal thing, but the emotion produqed in 
the mind by the speaking. The Pamphylian, accustomed to re- 
ceive emotions by hearing his mother-tongue, and receiving the 
same impression in another way, must think that he is addressed in 
the Pamphylian tongue. 

Thirdly — According to St. Paul's interesting information, the 
miracle of tongues consisted in this, that the vocal organs produced 
sounds not by a working of the mind, but by an operation of the 
Holy Spirit upon those organs. 

St. Luke writes : " They began to speak with other tongues, as 
the Spirit gave them utterance " (Acts ii. 4) ; and St. Paul proves 
exhaustively that the person speaking with tongues spoke not with 
his understanding, i.e., as a result of his own thinking, but in con- 
sequence of an entirely different operation. That this is possible, 


we see, first, in delirious persons, who say things outside of their 
own personal thinking; second, in the insane, whose incoherent 
talk has no sense ; third, in persons possessed, whose vocal organs 
are used by demons; fourth, in Balaam, whose vocal organs ut- 
tered words of blessing upon Israel against his will. 

Hence it must be conceded that in man three things are possible : 

First, that for a time he maybe deprived of the use of his vocal 

Second, that the use of these organs may be appropriated by a 
spirit who has overcome him. 

Third, that the Holy Spirit, appropriating his vocal organs, can 
produce sounds from his lips which are "new," and " other" than 
the language which ordinarily he speaks. 

Fourthly — In the Greek these sounds invariably are designated by 
the word ■y?.uTTat, i.e., tongues, hence language. In the Greek world, 
from which this word is taken, the word " glotta " always stands in 
strong opposition to the " logos," reason. 

A man's thinking is the hidden, invisible, imperceptible process 
of his mind. Thought has a soul, but no body. But when the 
thought manifests itself and adopts a body, then there is a word. 
And the tongue being the movable organ of speech, it was said that 
the tongue gives a body to the thought. Hence the contrast be- 
tween the logos, i.e., that which a man thinks with the mind, and 
the glotta, i.e., that which he utters with the vocal organs. 

Ordinarily the glotta comes only through and after the logos. 
But in the miracle of tongues we discover the extraordinary phe- 
nomenon that while the logos remained inactive, the glotta uttered 
sounds. And since it was a phenomenon of sounds which proceeded 
not from the thinking mind, but from the tongue, the Holy Scripture 
calls it very appropriately a gift of the glottai, i.L, a gift of tongue 
— or sound-phenomena. 

Lastly — In answer to the question, How must this be understood? 
we offer the following representation : Speech in man is the result 
of his thinking ; and this thinking in a sinless state is an in-shining 
of the Holy Spirit. Speech in a sinless state is therefore the result 
of inspiration, in-breathing of the Holy Spirit. 

Hence in a sinless state man's language would have been the 
pure and perfect product of an operation of the Holy Spirit. He 


is the Creator of human language; and without the injury and de- 
basing influence of sin the connection between the Holy Ghost and 
our speech would have been complete. But sin has broken the 
connection. Human language is damaged : damaged by the weak- 
ening of the organs of speech; by the separation of tribes and 
nations; by the passions of the soul; by the darkening of the 
understanding; and principally by the lie which has entered in. 
Hence that infinite distance between this pure and genuine human 
language which, as the direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the 
human mind, should have manifested itself, and the empirically 
existing languages that now separate the nations — a difference like 
unto that between the glorious Adam and the deformed Hottentot. 

But the difference is not intended to remain. Sin will disappear. 
What sin destroyed will be restored. In the day of the Lord, at the 
wedding-feast of the Lamb, all the redeemed will understand one 
another. In what way? By the restoration of the pure and original 
language upon the lips of the redeemed, which is born from the 
operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind. And of that 
great, still-tarrying event the Pentecost miracle is the germ and 
the beginning; hence it bore its distinctive marks. In the midst of 
the Babeldom of the nations, on the day of Pentecost, the one pure 
and mighty human language was revealed which one day all will 
speak, and all the brethren and sisters from all nations and tongues 
will understand. 

And this was wrought by the Holy Spirit. They spake as the 
Holy Spirit gave them utterance. They spoke a heavenly language 
to praise God — not of angels, but a language above the influence 
of sin. 

Hence the understanding of this language was also a work of 
the Holy Spirit, At Jerusalem, only they understood it who were 
specially wrought upon by the Holy Spirit. The others understood 
it not. And at Corinth it was not comprehended by the masses, 
but by him alone to whom it was given of the Holy Ghost. 

Bigbtb Cbapter. 

The Apostolate. 

" That ye also may have fellowship 
with us: and tnily our fellowship 
is with the Father, and with His 
Son Jesus Christ." — i John i. 3. 

The apostolate bears the character of an extraordinary manifesta- 
tion, not seen before or after it, in which we discover a proper work 
of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were ambassadors extraordinary — 
different from the prophets, different from the present ministers of 
the Word. In the history of the Church and the world they occupy 
a unique position and have a peculiar significance. Hence the 
apostolate is entitled to a special discussion. 

Moreover, the apostolate belongs to the great things which the 
Holy Spirit has wrought. All that the Holy Scripture declares 
concerning the apostles compels us to look for an explanation of 
their persons and mission in a special work of the Holy Spirit. 
Before His ascension Jesus predicted repeatedly that they should be 
His witnesses only after they shall have received the Holy Spirit 
in an extraordinary manner. Until this promise is fulfilled they 
remain hiding in Jerusalem. And when they raise the banner of 
the cross in Jerusalem and in the ends of the earth, they appeal to 
the power of the Holy Spirit as the secret of their appearance. 

The apostolate was holy, and we call them holy apostles, not be- 
cause they had attained a higher degree of perfection, but "holy" 
in the Scriptural sense of being separated, set apart, like the Temple 
and its furniture, for the service of a holy God. 

By sin many things have become unholy. Before sin entered 


into the world all things were holy. That part of creation which 
became unholy stands in opposition to that which remained holy. 
The latter is called Heaven ; that which was made holy is called 
Church. And all that belongs to the Church, to its being and or- 
ganism, is called holy. 

Hence Jesus could say to the disciples who were about to deny 
Him : " Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto 
you." In like manner the members of the Church and their children 
are called " sanctified"; and in his epistles St. Paul addresses them 
as holy and beloved : not because they were sinless, but because God 
had set them as called saints in the realm of His holiness, which by 
His grace He had separated from the realm of sin. In like manner 
the Scripture is called holy : not to indicate that it is the record of 
holy things only, but that its origin is not in man's sinful life, btxt 
in the holy realm of the life of God. 

We confess, therefore, that the apostles of Jesus were set apart 
for the service of God's holy Kingdom, and that they were qualified 
for their calling by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

By omitting the word " holy," as many do, we make the apostles 
common ; we consider them as ordinary preachers ; in degree above 
us undoubtedly, being more richly developed, especially by their 
intercourse with Christ, and as His witnesses very dear to us, but 
still occupying the same level with other teachers and ministers of 
the Church of all ages. And so the conviction will be lost that the 
apostles are men different in kind from all other men; lost the 
realization that in them appeared a peculiar and unique ministry ; 
lost also the grateful confession that the Lord our God gave us in 
these men extraordinary grace. 

And this explains why some ministers, at the special occasion 
of installation, departure, or jubilee, apply to themselves apostolic 
utterances that are not applicable to their persons, but exclusively 
to the men who occupy a peculiar and unique position in the Church 
of all ages and all lands. For this reason we repeat purposely the 
title of honor, " holy apostles," in order that the peculiar significance 
of the apostolate may again receive honorable recognition in our 

This peculiar significance of the apostolate appears in the Holy 
Scripture in various ways. 

We begin with referring to the prologue of the First Epistle of St. 


John, in which, from the fulness of the apostolic sense, the holy 
apostle solemnly addresses ns. He opens his epistle by declaring 
that they, the apostles of the Lord, occupy an exceptional position 
regarding the miracle of the incarnation of the Word. He says: 
" The "Word became flesh, and in that incarnate Word, Life was 
manifested ; and that that manifested Life was heard and seen and 
handled with hands." By whom? By everybody? No, by the 
apostles; for he adds emphatically : " That which we have seen and 
heard declare we unto you, and shew you that eternal life which 
was with the Father and was manifested unto us." 

And what was the aim of this declaration? To save souls? 
Surely this also, but not this in the first place. The purpose of this 
apostolic declaration is to bring the members of the Church into 
connection with the apostolate. For, clearly and emphatically, he 
adds: " This we declare unto you, that ye also may have fellowship 
with us." And only after this link is closed, and the fellowship 
with the apostolate an accomplished fact, he says : " And truly our 
fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." 

The apostle's reasoning is as transparent as glass. Life was 
manifested in such a way that it could be seen and handled. They 
who saw and handled it were the apostles; and they were also to 
declare this life unto the elect. By this declaration the required 
fellowship between the elect and the apostolate is established. 
And in consequence of this, there is fellowship also for the elect 
with the Father and the Son. 

This may not be understood as referring only to the people then 
living; and, regarding Rome, one's position, Bible in hand, is ex- 
ceedingly weak if he maintain that this higher significance of the 
apostolate had reference only to the then living, and not in the 
same measure to us. Indeed, we, upon whom the end of the ages 
has come, must maintain the vital fellowship with the holy aposto- 
late of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rome errs by making its bishops 
the successors of the apostles, teaching that fellowship with the 
apostolate depends upon fellowship with Rome : an error which is 
obvious from the fact that St. John expressly and emphatically 
connects the fellowship of the apostolate with men who have seen 
and heard and handled that which was manifested of the Word of 
Life — something to which no Roman bishop can appeal in the 
present day. Moreover, St. John says distinctly that this fellowship 
with the apostolate must be the result of the declaration of the Word 


of Life by the apostles themselves. And inasmuch as Rome established 
this fellowship not by the preaching of the Word, but by the sacra- 
mental sign, it is in direct opposition to the apostolic doctrine. 

However, from this it follows not that Rome errs in the funda- 
mental thought, viz., that every child of God must exercise com- 
munion with the Father and the Son through the apostolate ; on the 
contrary, this is St. John's positive claim. The solution of this 
apparent conflict lies in the fact that they have not only spoken, but 
also written: i.e., their declaration of the Word of Life was not 
limited to the little circle of the men that happened to hear them ; 
on the contrary, by writing they have put their preaching into real 
and enduring forms ; they have sent it out to all lands and nations ; 
that, as the genuine, ecumenic apostles they might bring the testi- 
mony of the Life which was manifested to all the elect of God in 
all lands and throughout the ages. 

Hence even now the apostles are preaching the living Christ in 
the churches. Their persons have departed, but their personal 
testimony remains. And that personal testimony, which as an 
apostolic document has come to every soul in every land and in 
every age, is the very testimony which even now is the instrument 
in the hand of the Holy Spirit to translate souls into the fellowship 
of the Life Eternal. 

And if one says, " Surely in this sense their word is still effec- 
tive ; however, it results no longer in fellowship with the apostles, 
and by means of this fellowship with Christ, but it points us directly 
to the Savior of our souls, which is a more simple way," then we 
oppose this unscriptural notion most energetically. 

Such reasoning ignores the body of Christ and overlooks the 
great fact of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There is not the 
saving of a few individual souls, but a bringing together of the body 
of Christ; and into that body every one that is called must be incor- 
porated. And inasmuch as the King of the Church gives His Spirit 
now not to separate persons, but exclusively to them that are in- 
corporated, and the inflowing of the Holy Spirit into this body, 
and principally in the persons of the apostles, took place on Pente- 
cost, therefore no one can receive at the present time any spiritual 
gift or influence of the Holy Spirit unless he stands in vital con- 
nection with the body of the Lord ; and that body is unthinkable 
without the apostles. 


In fact, the apostolic Word comes to the soul to-day as the testi- 
mony of what they have seen and heard and handled of the Word 
of Life. By virtue of this testimony souls are inwardly wrought 
upon, and by their being incorporated into the body of Christ they 
become manifest. And this fellowship becomes manifest as a fel- 
lowship with the very body of which the apostles are the leaders, 
in whose persons and in the persons of whose associates the Holy 
Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost. 

We know that this view, or this confession rather, is in direct 
opposition to the view of Methodism,* which has pervaded all classes 
and conditions of men. And the deplorable results have become 
apparent in various ways. Methodism has killed the conscious ap- 
preciation of the sacrament; it is cold and indifferent toward 
church fellowship ; it has cultivated an unlimited disregard for truth 
in the confession.! And while the Lord our God has deemed it 
necessary to give us a voluminous Holy Scripture, consisting of 
six-and-sixty books, Methodism has boasted that it could write its 
Gospel upon a dime. 

This error can not be overcome except the Word of God become 
again our Teacher and we its docile scholars. And then we shall 
learn — 

(i) Not that a few isolated persons are being rescued from the 
floods of iniquity, but that a body will be redeemed. 

(2) That all that are to be saved will be incorporated into that 

(3) That this body has Christ as its Head and the apostles as its 
permanent leaders. 

(4) That on Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out into that 

(5) That even now each of us experiences the gracious opera- 
tions of the Holy Spirit only through fellowship with this body. 

Only when these things are clear to the soul, the glorious word 
of Christ, " Father, I pray not for these alone, but for them also 
which shall believe on Me through their word" will be well under- 

* See section 5 in the Preface. — Trans. 

f The truth of this is apparent in the Salvation Army, the latest expo- 
nent of Methodism. It denies the sacraments, stands isolated from the 
churches, and does not seem to care for truth in the confession, for it has 
no confession. — Trans. 


stood. Taken in the current sense, this word has not the least 
comfort for us ; for then the Lord has prayed only for these then 
living, who had the privilege of personally hearing the apostles, 
and who were converted by their verbal testimony. We are entirely 
excluded. But if this petition be taken in the sense indicated above, 
as tho Christ would say, " I pray not for My apostles alone, but also 
for them who through their testimony shall believe on Me, now and 
in all ages and lands and nations," then it acquires widest scope, 
and contains a prayer for every child of God called even now and 
from our own households. 

This unique significance of the apostolate is so deeply embedded 
in the heart of the Kingdom, that when in the Revelation of St. 
John we get a glimpse of the New Jerusalem, we see that the city 
has twelve foundations, and on them the names of the twelve apostles 
of the Lamb — Rev. xxi. 14. Hence their significance is not tran- 
sient and temporary, but permanent and including the whole 
Church. And when its warfare shall be ended and the glory of 
the New Jerusalem shall be revealed, even then, in its heavenly 
bliss, the Church shall rest upon the very foundation on which it 
was built here, and therefore bear, engraven on its twelve founda- 
tions, the names of the holy apostles of the Lord. 

The apostle Paul considers the apostolate so glorious and ex- 
alted that in his Epistle to the Hebrews he applies the name of 
Apostle to the Lord Jesus Christ. " Wherefore, holy brethren, par- 
takers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest 
of our profession, Christ Jesus." The meaning is perfectly clear. 
Properly speaking, it is Christ Himself calling and testifying in His 
Church. But as the white ray of light divides itself into many 
colors, so does Christ impart Himself to His twelve apostles, whom 
He has set as the instruments through whom He has fellowship 
with His Church. Hence the apostles stand not each by himself, 
but together they constitute the apostolate, the unity of which is 
found not in St. Peter nor in St. Paul, but in Christ. If we should 
wish to comprehend the whole apostolate in one, it must be He in 
whom is contained the fulness of the twelve — the Apostle and High 
Priest of our profession, Christ the Lord. 

Not until we fully grasp these thoughts and live in them shall 
we be able to understand the epistles of St. Paul, and appreciate 
his spiritual conflict to maintain the honor of the apostolate for his 
divine mission. Especially in his epistles to the Corinthians and 


Galatians he sustains this conflict bravely and eflfectually ; but in 
such a way that the Methodist can not have eye or ear for it. He 
rather feels like deploring the apostle's zeal, saying: " If Paul had 
insisted less on his title and more humbly applied himself to the 
conversion of souls, his memory would have been much more 
precious." And from his standpoint he is quite right. If the apos- 
tolate has no higher significance than to be the first teachers and 
ministers of the Church, then there can be no reason why St. Paul 
should waste his strength contending for a meaningless title. 

But the undeniable fact that St. Paul's energetic contending 
agrees not with the current opinions of the present time ought to 
make us oppose the notion that, since his contention does not com- 
port with our opinions, he must be wrong! and acknowledge that 
the standpoint which we can not occupy without condemning the 
apostle must be abandoned — the sooner the better. St. Paul must 
not conform himself to our opinions, but our opinions must be 
modified or altered according to St. Paul's. 

The Apostolic Scriptures. 

" And I think that I also have the 
Spirit of God." — i Cor. vii. 40. 

We have seen that the apostolate has an extraordinary signifi- 
cance and occupies a unique position. This position is twofold, 
viz., temporary, with reference to the founding of the first churches, 
and permanent, with regard to the churches of all ages. 

The first must necessarily be temporary, for what was then ac- 
complished can not be repeated. A tree can be planted only once ; 
an organism can be born only once ; the planting or founding of the 
Church could take place only once. However, this founding was 
not unprepared for. On the contrary, God has had a Church in the 
world from the beginning. That Church was even a 7£'^r/</-Church. 
But it went down in idolatry ; and only a small Church remained 
among an almost unknown people — the Church in Israel. When this 
particular Church was to become again a world-Church, two things 
were required : 

First, that the Church in Israel lay aside its national dress.- 

Secondly, that in the midst of the heathen world the Church of 
Christ appear, so that the two might become manifest as the one 
Christian Church. 

By these two things the apostolic labor is almost exhausted. In 
St. Paul the two are united. No apostle labored more zealously to 
divest the Church of Israel of its Jewish attire, and no one was more 
abundant in the planting of new churches in all parts of the world. 

The apostolate had, however, a much more extensive and higher 
calling, not only for those days, but also for the Church of the ages. 
It was the task of the apostles for which they were ordained : by 
giving to the churches fixed forms of government to determine 
their character ; and by the written documentation of the revela- 
tion of Christ Jesus to secure to them purity and perpetuity. 

This is evident from the character of their labors : for they not 


only founded churches, but also gave them ordinances. St. Paul 
writes to the Corinthians : " As I have given order to the churches 
of Galatia, even so do ye" (i Cor. xvi. i). Hence they were con- 
scious of possessing power, of being clothed with authority. " And 
so ordain I in all the churches," says the same apostle (i Cor. vii. 
17). This ordaining is not like that of our official church boards 
which have power to make rules ; or as a minister in the name of 
the consistory announces from the pulpit certain regulations. Nay, 
the apostles exercised authority by virtue of a power they consciously 
possessed in themselves, independent of any church or church 
council. For St. Paul writes, after having given ordinances in the 
matter of marriages: "And I think that I also have the Spirit of 
God." Hence the power and authority to command, to ordain and 
to judge in the churches, they derived not from the Church, nor 
from church council, nor from the apostolate, but directly from the 
Holy Spirit. This is true even of the power to judge ; for, concern- 
ing an incestuous person in the church of Corinth, St. Paul judged 
that he should be delivered to Satan ; the execution of which sen- 
tence he left to the elders of that church, but upon which he had 
determined by virtue of his apostolic authority — i Cor. v, 3. 

In this connection it is remarkable that St. Paul was conscious 
of a twofold current running through his word : (i) that of traditioti, 
touching the things ordained by the Lord Jesus during His min- 
istry ; and (2) that of the Holy Spirit, touching the things to be de- 
cided by the apostolate. For he writes : " Now concerning virgins, 
I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment as 
one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful" (i Cor. 
vii. 25). And again he saith: "Unto the married I command, yet 
not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband" 
(ver. 10). And in verse 12 he saith : " But to the rest speak I, not the 
Lord." Many have received the impression that St. Paul meant to 
say : " What the Lord commanded, you must keep ; but the things 
by me enjoined are of less account and not binding"; — a view de- 
stroying the authority of the apostolic word, and therefore to be re- 
jected. The apostle has not the least intention of undermining his 
own authority ; for having delivered the message, he adds expressly : 
" And I think that I also have the Spirit of God "; which, in connec- 
tion with the commandment of the Lord, can not mean anything 
else than this : " That which I have enjoined rests upon the same 
authority as the Lord's own words";— a declaration which was al- 


ready contained in the word: "I have received mercy to be faith- 
ful," i.e., in my work of regulating the churches. 

By these ordinances and regulations the apostles not only gave 
to the churches of those days a fixed form of life, but they also pre- 
pared the channel that was to determine the future course of the life 
of the Church. They did this in two ways : 

First, partly by the impressions they made upon the life of the 
churches, and which were never wholly obliterated. 

Secondly, partly also and more particularly by leaving us in 
writing the image of that Church, and by sealing the principal 
features of these ordinances in their apostolic epistles. 

Both these influences, that directly on the life of the churches, 
and that of the apostolic Scriptures, have taken care that the image 
of the Church should not be lost, and that, where it was in danger 
of such loss, by the grace of God it should be fully restored. 

This leads us to consider the second activity of the apostles, 
whereby they operated upon the Church of all ages, viz., the in- 
heritance of their writings. 

Our writings are the richest and raaturest products of the mind ; 
and the mind of the Holy Spirit received its richest, fullest, and 
most perfect expression when His meaning was put into documental 
form. The literary labor of the apostles deserves, therefore, careful 

When the apostles Peter and Paul preached the Gospel, healed 
the sick, judged the unruly, and founded churches, giving them 
ordinances, they performed in each of these a great and glorious 
work. And yet the significance of St. Paul's labor when he wrote, 
e.g., the Epistle to the Romans so far surpassed the value of preach- 
ing and healing that the two can not be compared. When he wrote 
that one little book, which in ordinary pamphlet form would make 
no more than three sheets of printed matter, he performed the 
greatest work of his life. From this little book the most far-reach- 
ing influences have gone forth. By this one little book St. Paul 
became a historic person. 

We know, indeed, that many of our present theologians reverse 
this order, and say : " These apostles were profoundly spiritual men ; 
they lived near the Lord and had entered deeply into the mind of 
Christ; they labored and preached and occasionally wrote a few 
letters, some of which have come down to us; yet this letter-wri- 


ting was of little significance to their persons '; but against this 
whole representation we protest with all our might. Nay, these 
men were not such excellent personalities that the few occasional 
letters from their hands could scarcely have any significance in 
their lives. On the contrary, their epistolary labor was the most 
important of all their lifework ; small in compass, but rich in con- 
tent; apparently of less, but by virtue of its comprehensive and 
far-reaching influence of much higher significance. And since the 
apostles may not be considered half-idiots, knowing scarcely any- 
thing of the future of the Church, and without any realization of 
what they were doing, we maintain that a man like St. Paul, hav- 
ing finished his Epistle to the Romans, was indeed conscious of the 
fact that this work would occupy a prominent place among his 
apostolic labors. 

Even tho it be granted that the apostle was unconscious of it, 
yet this alters not the fact. To-day, when the churches founded 
eighteen centuries ago have all past away, and the church of Rome 
can scarcely be recognized ; when the people who by his wonderful 
power were healed or saved have all crumbled to dust, and not a 
single memory remains of all his other toil; to-day his epistolary 
inheritance still governs the Church of Christ. 

We can not conceive what the condition of the Church would be 
without St. Paul's epistles; if we were to lose the inheritance of the 
great apostle that has come to us through our fathers. What is it 
that controls our confession, if not the truths developed by him ; 
what is it that governs our lives, if not the ideals so highly exalted 
by him? We can safely say, with reference to our own Church, that 
without the Pauline epistles its whole form and appearance would 
be totally different. 

This being so, we are also justified in saying that the objectify- 
ing of Christian truth in the apostolic epistles is the most important 
of all their labors. Instead of calling it a " dead-letter," we confess 
that in it their activity reached its very zenith. 

However, the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit in the apostolate 
being the subject of our present inquiry, and not the apostolate 
itself, we will consider now the serious question : What is the nature 
of this work? 

Our choice lies between the theory of the mechanical, and that of 
the natural, process. 


The supporters of the first say : " Nothing can be more simple 
than the work of the Holy Spirit in the apostles. They had only to 
sit down, take pen and ink, and write at His dictation." The ad- 
vocates of the natural process state its case as follows: " The apos- 
tles had entered more deeply into the mind of Christ; they were 
holier, purer, and more godly than others ; hence they were better 
fitted to be the instruments of the Holy Spirit, who after all ani- 
mates every child of God." These are the extreme views. On the 
one hand, the work of the Holy Spirit is considered as a foreign ele- 
ment introduced into the life of the Church and that of the apostles. 
Any schoolboy competent to write a dictation might have written 
the Epistle to the Romans just as well as St. Paul. The obvious 
difference of style and manner of presentation between his epistles 
and those of St. John does not spring from the difference of person- 
alities, but from the fact that the Holy Spirit purposely adopted the 
style and way of speaking of His chosen scribe, be he St. Paul or St. 

The other extreme considers that the persons of the apostles ac- 
count for the whole matter ; so that to speak of a work of the Holy 
Spirit is only to repeat a pious term. According to this view, the 
influence of Christ's personal intercourse had an educating effect 
upon His disciples, which left such impress of His life upon them 
that they could understand His Person and aims much better than 
others; hence being the best-developed minds of the Christian cir- 
cle of those days, they adopted in their writings a certain apostolic 

Besides these two extremes, we must mention the view of cer- 
tain friendly theologians who turn this natural into a supernatural, 
but still self-developed, process. They acknowledge, with us, that 
there is a work of the Holy Spirit which they also call regeneration, 
and allow that to this the gift of illumination is often added. And 
from this they argue : " Among the regenerated there are some in 
whom this divine work is only superficial, and others in whom He 
operates more deeply. In the former, the gift of illumination is 
undeveloped; in the latter, it attains great luster; and it is to this 
class that the apostles belonged, who were partakers of this gift in 
its highest degree. Owing to these two gifts, the work of the Holy 
Spirit attained in them such clearness and transparency that, in 
speaking or writing concerning the things of the Kingdom of God, 
they struck almost invariably the right note, chose the right word, 


and continued in the right direction. Hence the power of their 
writings, and the almost binding authority of their word." 

Over against these three opponents we wish to present the view 
of the best theologians of the Christian Church, which, altho fully 
appreciating the effects of regeneration and illumination in the 
apostles, still maintain that from these the infallible, apostolic 
authority can not be explained ; and that the authority of their word 
is recognized only by the unconditional confession that these oper- 
ations of grace were but the means used by the Holy Spirit when, 
through the apostles, He cast His own testimony into documental 
forms for the Church of all ages. 

Apostolic Inspiration. 

"When He, the Spirit of truth, is 
come. He will guide you into all 
truth."— yc?/i«xvi. 13. 

What is the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in the inspi- 
ration of the apostles? 

Apart from the mechanical and natural theories, which are vul- 
gar and profane, there are two others, viz., the Ethical and the Re- 

According to the former the inspiration of the apostles differs 
from the animation of believers only in degree, not in nature. 
They represent the matter as tho, by the incarnation of the Word, 
a new sphere of life was created which they call the " God-hufnan." 
They that have received the life of this higher sphere are called 
believers , others are unbelievers. In these believers the conscious- 
ness is gradually changed, illuminated, and sanctified. Hence 
they see things in a different light, i.e., their eyes are opened so 
that they see much of the spiritual world of which unbelievers see 
nothing. However, this result is not the same in all believers. 
The more favored see more correctly and distinctly than the less 
favored. And the most excellent among them, who possess this 
God-human life most abundantly, and look into the things of the 
Kingdom with greatest clearness and distinctness, are the men 
called apostles. Hence the inspiration of the apostles and the 
illumination of believers are in principle the same ; differing only 
in degree. 

The Reformed churches can not agree with this view. In their 
judgment the very effort to identify apostolic inspiration with the 
illumination of believers actually annihilates the former. They 
hold that the inspiration of the apostles was wholly unique in nature 
and kind, totally different from what the Scripture calls illumina- 
tion of believers. The apostles possessed this latter g^ft even in its 


highest degree, and we heartily indorse all that the Ethical theolo- 
gians say in this respect. But, when all is said, we hold that apos- 
tolic inspiration is not even touched upon ; that it lies entirely out- 
side of it; is not contained in, but added to, it; and that the Church 
must reverence it as an extraordinary, peculiar, and unique work 
of the Holy Spirit, which was wrought exclusively in the holy apos- 

Hence both sides concede that the apostles were born again, that 
they had received illumination in a peculiarly high degree. But 
while the Ethical theorists maintain that this extraordinary illumi- 
nation includes inspiration, the Reformed hold that illumination in 
its highest degree has nothing to do with inspiration ; which was 
unique in its kind, without equal, given to the apostles alone, never 
to other believers. 

The difference between the two views is obvious. 

According to the Ethical view, the epistles are the writings of 
very worthy, godly, and sanctified men ; the thoughtful utterances 
of highly enlightened believers. And yet, having said all this, 
they are after all only fallible ; they may contain ninety per cent, 
of truth, well expressed and accurately defined ; but the possibility 
remains that the other ten per cent, is full of errors and mistakes. 
Even tho there be one or more infallible epistles, how can this 
avail us, since we do not know it? In fact, we are without the least 
certainty in this matter. And for this reason it is actually conceded 
that the apostles have made mistakes. 

Hence the Reformed churches can not accept this fascinating 
representation ; and the conscience of believers will always protest 
against it. What we expect in " holy apostces' is this very certainty, 
reliability, and decision. Reading their testimony, we want to rely 
upon it. This certainty alone has been the strength of the Church 
of all ages. This conviction alone has given her rest. And the 
Church of to-day feels as instinctively that the reliability of the 
Word that is its Bible is being taken away from it, inasmuch as 
these beautifully sounding theories strip the apostolic word of its 

The holy apostles appear in their writings as such, and not other- 
wise. St. John, the most beloved among the twelve, testifies that 
the Lord Jesus gave them as apostles a rare promise, saying, " He 
shall guide you into all truth," a word that may not be applied to 


others, but to the apostles exclusively. And again : " The Com- 
forter which is the Holy Ghost shall teach you all things, and bring 
to your remembrance all things whatsoever I have said unto you" 
(John xiv. 26) ; which promise was not intended for all, but for the 
apostles only, securing them a gift evidently distinct from illumi- 
nation. In fact, this promise was nothing else than the permanent 
endowment with the gift received only temporarily when they went 
forth on their first mission among Israel: "For it is not you that 
speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." 

Moreover, the Lord Jesus did not only promise them that the 
word proceeding from their mouth would be a word of the Holy 
Spirit, but He granted them such personal power and authority 
that it would be as tho God Himself spoke through them. St. Paul 
testified of this to the church of Thessalonica, saying: " P^or this 
cause we thank God that ye received it not as the word of men, but, 
as it is in truth, the Word of God" (i Thess. ii. 13). And St. John 
tells us that, both before and after the resurrection, the Lord Jesus 
gave His disciples power to bind on earth in the sense that their word 
would have binding power forever: "Whosesoever sins ye remit, 
they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they 
are retained"; — words that are horrible and untenable except they 
be understood as implying perfect agreement between the minds of 
the apostles and the mind of God. Of similar import are the words 
of Christ to Peter: " Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be 
bound in heaven ; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be 
loosed in heaven." 

However, reading and pondering these remarkable and weighty 
words, let us be careful not to fall into the error of Rome, or, in 
order to escape from this, make the Word of God of no effect, which 
is equally dangerous. For the Church of Rome applies these words 
of Jesus to His disciples, to the whole Church as an institution; 
especially the word to Peter, making it to refer to all Peter's suc- 
cessors (so-called) in the government of the Church of Rome. If 
that be indeed the meaning of these words, then Rome is perfectly 
right; then to the Pope is granted power to bind, and the priests of 
Rome have still the power to absolve. Our reason for denying 
that Rome has this power is not the impossibility for men to have 
it, for it was given to the apostles; Peter was infallible in his sen- 
tences ex cathedra, and the apostles could grant absolution. But wf 


deny that Rome has the slightest authority to confer this power of 
Peter upon the Pope, or that of the apostles upon its priests. Nei- 
ther Matt. xvi. 19 nor John xx. 23 contains the least proof for such 
claim. And inasmuch as no man has the liberty to exercise such 
extraordinary power except he can show the credentials of his mis- 
sion, so we deny Rome's qualifications to exercise it in pope or 
priest, not because this is impossible, but because Rome can not 
substantiate its claims. 

At the same time, let us, in our contending with Rome, not fall 
into the opposite error of disparaging the plain and clear meaning 
of the word. This is done by the Ethical theologians; for the 
words of Jesus referred to do not receive justice so long as we re- 
fuse to recognize in the apostles a working of the Holy Spirit en- 
tirely peculiar, unique, and extraordinary. We dilute the words of 
Jesus and violate their sense so long as we do not acknowledge 
that, if the apostles were still living, they would have the power to 
forgive us our sins; and that Peter, if he were still living, would 
have power and authority to issue ordinances binding upon the 
whole Church. The words are so plain, the qualification was 
granted in such definite terms, that it can not be denied that John 
could forgive sin, and that Peter had power to issue an infallible 
decree. The Lord said to the disciples : " Whosesoever sins ye remit, 
they are remitted unto them " ; and to Peter : " Whatsoever thou 
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." 

Thus acknowledging the unique position and extraordinary 
power of the apostles, we immediately add that this power was 
granted to them alone and to no one else. 

We emphasize this in opposition to Rome and to those who apply 
the words of Christ, spoken to His disciples exclusively, to minis- 
ters and other believers. Neither Rome nor the Ethical theologians 
have the right to do this, unless they can show that the Lord Jesus 
gave them such right. But they never can. Care should be taken, 
therefore, in the choice of texts, proofs, and quotations from the 
Scripture, to ascertain not only what is said, but also to whom 
it was said. And thus the error concerning the apostolate will 
soon be overcome; and believers will see that the apostles oc- 
cupy a different position from other Christians, that the promises 
quoted bear an exceptional character, and that the Word of the Lord 
is misunderstood when inspiration is confounded with illumina- 


In opposition to these wrong views, which are Romish, clerical 
in principle, and at the same time strongly tending to rationalism, 
we maintain the ancient confession of the Christian Church which 
declares that, as the ambassadors extraordinary of Christ, the apos- 
tles occupied a unique position in the race, in the Church, and in 
the history of the world, and were clothed with extraordinary pow- 
ers that required an extraordinary operation of the Holy Spirit. 

But we do not deny that these men were bom again and parta- 
kers of the heavenly illumination ; so that the man of sin was driven 
back, and the new man was powerfully revealed in them. But 
their personal state and condition was the cause of their contin- 
ued sinfulness until the hour of their death; hence their infallible 
authority could never spring from the fallible condition of their 
hearts. Even tho they had been less sinful, such power could not 
be thus accounted for. And if they had fallen more deeply into 
sin, it would not have hindered the Holy Spirit's operation with 
reference to the exercise of this authority. It is remarkable that 
Peter, who was clothed with the highest power, fell again and again 
into great sin. They were saints because they were hid in Christ 
like other Christians ; but they were holy apostles not on the ground 
of their spiritual state and condition, but only by virtue of their 
holy calling and the working of the Holy Spirit that was prom- 
ised and given unto them. 

Finally, the question arises, whether there was a difference be- 
tween the operation of the Holy Spirit in the pi'ophets and in the 
apostles. We answer in the affirmative. Ezekiel's oracles are 
different from St. John's Gospel. The Epistle to the Romans bears 
witness to a different inspiration from that of the prophecies of 
Zacharias. Undoubtedly the book of Revelation proves that the 
apostles were also susceptible to inspiration by visions; the book 
of the Acts is evidence that in those days there were also wonder- 
ful signs; and St. Paul speaks of visions and ecstasies. And yet the 
collective treasure that came down to us under the apostles* name 
bears evidence that the inspiration of the New Testament has an- 
other character than that of the Old. And the principal difference 
consists in the mighty fact of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

The prophets were inspired before Pentecost, and the apostles 
after it. This fact is so strongly marked in the history of their 
mission that before it the apostles sit still, while immediately 
after it they appear in their apostolic character before the world. 


And since in the outpouring the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the 
body of Christ, which before He had been preparing, it is obvious 
that the difference of inspiration in the Old and the New Testa- 
ment consists in the fact that the former was wrought upon the 
prophets from without, while the latter wrought upon the apostles 
from within, proceeding from the body of Christ. 

And this is the reason that the prophets give us more or less the 
impression of an inspiration independent of their personal, spiritual 
life, while the inspiration of the apostles acts almost always through 
the life of the soul. It is this very fact that offers to the error of 
the Ethical view its starting-point. Surely the person and his con- 
dition appear in the apostles much more in the foreground than in 
the prophets. And yet in both prophet and apostle inspiration is 
that wholly extraordinary operation of the Holy Spirit whereby, in 
a manner for us incomprehensible and to them not always con- 
scious, they were kept from the possibility ot error. 

Apostles To-Day? 

" Am I not an apostle ? am I not free ? 
have I not seen Jesus Christ our 
Lord ? are ye not my work in the 
Lord?" — I Cor. ix. i. 

We may not take leave of the apostolate without a last look at 
the circle of its members. It is a closed circle ; and every effort to 
reopen it tends to efface a characteristic of the New Covenant. 

And yet the effort is being made again and again. We see it in 
Rome's apostolic succession; in the Ethical view gradually effacing 
the boundary-line between the apostles and believers; and in its 
boldest and most concrete form among the Irvingites.* 

The latter assert not only that the Lord gave to His Church a 
college of apostles in the beginning, but that He has now called 
a body of apostles in His Church to prepare His people for the 

However, this position can not be very successfully supported. 
Neither in the discourses of Christ, nor in the epistles of the apos- 
tles, nor in the Apocalypse, do we find the least intimation of such 
an event. The end of all things is repeatedly spoken of. -The 
New Testament frequently rehearses the events and signs that 
must precede the Lord's return. They are recorded so minutely 
that some even say that the exact date can be fixed. And yet, 
among all these prophecies, we fail to discover the slightest sign of 
a subsequent apostolate. In the panorama of the things to come 
there is literally no room for it. 

Nor have the results realized the expectations of these brethren. 
Their apostolate has been a great disappointment. It has accom- 
plished almost nothing. It has come and gone without leaving a 
trace. We do not deny that some of these men have done wonder- 

* The Irvingites are known in England and America as the Catholic 
Apostolic Church. — Trans. 


ful things; but be it noticed, in the first place, that the signs 
wrought were far below those performed by the apostles; second, 
that a man like Pastor Blumhardt has also wrought signs that 
greatly deserve to be noticed; third, that the Roman Catholic 
Church sometimes ofifers signs that are not pretended nor artificial ; 
lastly, that the Lord has warned us in His Word that signs shall be 
wrought by men who are not His own. 

Moreover, let us not forget that the apostles of the Irvingites 
completely lack the marks of the apostolate. These were: (i) a 
call directly from the King of the Church ; (2) a peculiar qualifica- 
tion of the Holy Spirit making them infallible in the service of the 
Church. These men lack both marks. They tell us, indeed, of a 
call come to them by the mouth of prophets, but this is to little or 
no purpose, for a call from a prophet is not equal to one directly 
from Christ, and again the name "prophet" is exceedingly mis- 
leading. The word prophet has, on the sacred page, a wide appli- 
cation, and occurs in both a limited and a general sense. The former 
involves the revelation of a knowledge that mere illumination does 
not afford ; while the l?tter applies to men speaking in holy ecstasy 
to the praise of God. We concede that prophesying, in the general 
sense, is an enduring charisma of the Church ; for which reason the 
reformers of the sixteenth century attempted to revive this office. 
If the Irvingites, therefore, believe that in their circles the pro- 
phetic activity has been revived, we will not dispute it; altho we 
can not say that the reports of their prophesying have had a very 
overwhelming effect upon us. However, let it be granted that the 
gift has been restored ; but even then we ask : What do you gain by 
it? For there is not the slightest proof that these prophets and 
prophetesses are like their predecessors in the Old Testament, 
The unrevealed will of God has not been revealed to them. If 
prophets at all, then their prophesying is merely a speaking to the 
praise of God in a state of spiritual ecstasy. 

The uselessness of an appeal to such prophets for the support 
of this new apostolate is evident. It is merely the effort to sup- 
port an unsupported apostolate by an equally unsupported proph- 

Nor should it be forgotten that the labors of these so-called 
apostles have not carried out their own program. They have failed 
to exert any perceptible influence upon the course of events. The 
institutions founded by them have in no respect surpassed the many 


new church organizations witnessed by this century. They have 
established no new principle ; their labors have manifested no new 
power. Whatever they have done lacks the stamp of a heavenly 
origin. And nearly all these new apostles have died not like the 
genuine twelve on cross or stake, but on their own beds surrounded 
by their friends and admirers. 

However, this is not all. The name of apostle may be taken (i) 
in the sense of being called directly by Jesus as an ambassador for 
God, or (2) in a general sense, denoting every man sent by Jesus 
into His vineyard ; for the word apostle means one that is sent. In 
Acts xiv. 14 Barnabas is called an apostle; not because he belonged 
to their number, but merely to indicate that he was sent out by the 
Lord as His missionary or ambassador. In Acts xiii. i, 2 Barnabas 
is mentioned before Saul, who is not even called by his apostolic 
name ; which shows that this call of the Holy Spirit bore only a 
temporary character, having in view only this special mission. 
For this reason the Lord Jesus Christ, as the One sent of the Fa- 
ther, the great Missionary come to this world, the Ambassador of 
God to His Church, is called Apostle : " Wherefore, holy brethren, 
. . . consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ 
Jesus" (Heb. iii. 1). 

If the Irvingites had called the great reformers of the sixteenth 
century, or some prominent church leaders of the present time, 
apostles, there could have been no great objection. But they did 
not mean this. They claim that these new apostles shall stand 
before the Church in a peculiar character, on the same plane with 
the first apostles, altho differently employed. And this can 
conceded. It would be in direct opposition to the apostolic declara- 
tion of I Cor. iv. 9: " For I think that God hath set us forth as the 
last apostles, as it were appointed unto death *' (see Dutch trans- 
lation). How could St. Paul speak of the last apostles, if it were 
God's plan after eighteen centuries to send other twelve apostles 
into the world? 

In view of this positive word of the Holy Spirit, we direct all 
those that come into contact with the Irvingites to what the Scrip- 
ture says concerning them that call themselves apostles, and are 
not: ' For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning 
themselves into apostles of Christ." And the Lord Jesus testifies 
to the church at Ephesus : " I know that thou hast tried them which 
say they are apostles, and are not." 


The notion that false apostles must be a sort of incarnate devils 
applies in no wise to the calm, respectable, and venerable men fre- 
quently seen in the circles of the Irvingites. But apart from this 
absurd notion, and considering that the false prophets of the Old 
Testament so closely resembled the true ones that at times even 
the people of God were deceived by them, we can understand that 
the false apostles of St. John's day could be detected only by a 
higher spiritual discernment; and that the pretended apostles of 
the nineteenth century, who by their similarity to the genuine 
twelve blinded the eyes of the superficial, could be detected only 
by the touchstone of the Word of God. And that Word declares 
that the twelve of St. Paul's day were the last apostles, which set- 
tles the matter of this pretended apostolate. 

This error of the Irvingites is therefore not so very innocent. 
It is easy to explain how it originated. The wretched and deplor- 
able state of the Church must necessarily give rise to a number of 
sects. And we heartily acknowledge that the Irvingites have sent 
forth many warnings and well-deserved rebukes to our superficial 
and divided Church. But these good offices by no means justify 
the doing of things condemned by the Word of God; and those who 
have allowed themselves to be carried away by their teachings 
will sooner or later experience their fatal result. It is already man- 
ifest that this movement, which started among us under the pretext 
of uniting a divided church by gathering together the Lord's peo- 
ple, has accomplished little more than to add another to the already 
large number of sects, thus robbing the Church of Christ of excel- 
lent powers that now are being wasted. 

That the apostolate was a closed circle, and not a flexible theory, 
is evident from Acts i. 25 : " Lord, show of these two, the one whom 
Thou hast chosen to take the place of this ministry and apostleship '' ; 
and again from St. Paul's word (Rom. i. 5) : " By whom we have 
received grace and apostleship"; and again (i Cor. ix. 2) : " For the 
seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord " ; and lastly from Gal. 
ii. 8: " For He that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the 
circumcision, wrought for me also unto the Gentiles." And again 
it is evident from the fact that the apostles always appear as the 
twelve ; and from their being specially appointed and installed by 
Jesus breathing upon them the official gift of the Holy Spirit; and 
from the exceptional power and gifts thai were connected with the 
apostolate. And it is especially from its conspicuous place in the 


coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ that the apostolate ob- 
tains its definite character. For the Holy Scripture teaches that 
the apostles shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes 
of Israel ; and also that the New Jerusalem has " twelve foundations 
upon which are written the twelve names of the apostles of the 

St. Paul offers us in his own person the most convincing proof 
that the apostolate was a closed college. If it had not been, the 
question whether he was an apostle or not could never have caused 
contention. Yet a large part of the Church refused to acknowledge 
his apostleship. He did not belong to the twelve; he had not 
walked with Jesus; how could he be a witness? It was against 
this seriously meant contention that St. Paul repeatedly lifted 
up his voice with such energy and animation. This fact is the 
key to the right understanding of his epistles to the Corinthians 
and Galatians. They glow with holy jealousy for the reality of his 
apostleship ; for he was deeply convinced that he was an apostle as 
well as St. Peter and the others. Not by virtue of personal merit; 
in himself he was not worthy to be called an apostle — i Cor. xv. 9; 
but no sooner is his office assailed than he arouses himself like a 
lion, for this touched the honor of his Master, who had appeared 
unto him in the way to Damascus; not, as is commonly said, to 
convert him — for this is not Christ's work, but that of the Holy 
Spirit — but to appoint him an apostle in that Church which he was 

As to the question, how the addition of St. Paul to the twelve is 
consistent with that number, we are convinced that not the name 
of Matthias, but that of St. Paul is written upon the foundations of 
the New Jerusalem with those of the others ; and that not Matthias, 
but St. Paul shall sit down to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. As 
one of the tribes of Israel was replaced by two others, so in regard 
to the apostolate; for Simeon, who fell out, Manasseh and Ephraim 
were substituted, and Judas was replaced by Matthias and Paul. 

We would not imply that the apostles erred in electing Matthias 
to fill the vacancy occasioned by the suicide of Judas. On the con- 
trary, the completion of the apostolic number could not be delayed 
until the conversion of St. Paul. The vacancy had to be filled im- 
mediately. But it may be said that when the disciples chose Mat- 
thias they had too small a conception of the goodness of their Lord. 
They supposed that for Judas they would receive a Matthias, and. 


behold, Jesus gave them a Paul. As to the former, the Scripture 
mentions his election and no more. Yet even tho to the Church of 
later times the apostolate without St. Paul is unthinkable, and tho 
it allowed his person the first place among the apostles and his 
writings highest in authority among the Scriptures of the New Tes- 
tament, to the person of Matthias the election to the apostolate 
must have brought highest honor. The apostolate stands so high 
that the fact of having been identified with it, even temporarily, 
imparts greater luster to a man's name than a royal crown. 

•Wfntb Cbapter. 


The Holy Scriptures in the New Testament. 

" But these are written that ye might 
believe that Jesus is the Christ, 
the Son of God ; and that believing 
ye might have life through His 
name."— _/t;//« xx. 31. 

Having considered the apostolate, we are now to discuss God's 
gift to the Church, viz., the New Testament Scripture. 

The apostolate placed a new power in the Church. 

Surely all power is in heaven ; but it has pleased God to let this 
power descend in the Church by means of organs and instruments, 
chief among which is the apostolate. This organ was a consolation 
of the Comforter, given to the Church after Jesus had ascended to 
heaven and was provisionally not to govern His Church in person. 
Hence it was a forsaken Church, not yet planted, and soon to be 
scattered, to which the Holy Spirit gave the apostolate as a bond of 
union, as an organ for self-extension, and as an instrument for its 
own enrichmefit with the full knowledge of the life of grace. Com- 
missioned by the King of the Church, the apostles were animated 
by the Holy Spirit. As the King works for His Church only by the 
Spirit, so He caused the apostolate to work also by the higher pow- 
ers of the Holy Spirit. 

It was not the Lord's intention tliat His Church should set out 
in ignorance, to wander about in manifold error, finally, the long 
journey ended, to arrive at a clearer perception of the truth ; but that 
from the beginning it should stand in the light of complete knowl- 
edge. Hence He gave it the apostolate, that from the cradle of 


its existence it should receive the full sunshine of grace, and that 
no subsequent development of Christendom should ever surpass 
that of the apostles. 

This is a very significant fact. 

Indeed, in the course of history there is development, especially 
in doctrine, which has not yet ceased, and which will continue until 
the end. The King has cast His Church into the midst of warfare 
and trouble ; He has not permitted it to confess His name in an un- 
manly and indolent manner, but from age to age He has compelled 
it to defend that confession against error, misunderstanding, and 
hostility. It is only in this warfare that it has learned gradually to 
exhibit every part of its glorious inheritance of truth. God shall 
judge heretics; but, besides much mischief, they have rendered the 
Church this excellent service of compelling it to wake up from 
slumbering upon its gold-mines, to explore them, and to open the 
hidden treasure. 

Hence our conscious insight into the truth is deeper than that 
of the preceding centuries. Semper excelsior ! Ever higher ! Re- 
search into holy things may never cease ; even now the Lord ful- 
fils His promise to every true theologian : " Ask, and it shall be 
given you; seek, and ye shall find." And in the development of 
the consciousness of the Church concerning its treasure of truth, the 
Holy Spirit has a special work, and he who denies it leaves the 
Church to petrify and is blind for the word of the Lord. 

Yet, however great its present and future progress, it will never 
possess a grain of truth more than when the apostolate passed away. 
Afterward the gold-mine might be explored ; but when the apostles 
died the mine itself existed already. Nothing can be added to it or 
ever will ; it is complete in itself. For this reason the great men of 
God, who, in the course of ages, by brave words have animated the 
Church, have always pointed back to the treasures of the apostles, 
and without exception told the churches : " Your treasure lies not 
before, but behind you, and dates from the days of the apostles." 

And herein was mercy ; any other disposition would have been 
unmerciful. The people of one or eighteen centuries ago had the 
same spiritual needs as we have ; nothing less than we have could 
suffice for them. Their wounds are ours; the balm of Gilead that 
has healed us, healed them also. Consequently the remedy for 
souls must be ready for immediate use. Delay would be cruel. 
Hence it is not strange and problematic, but perfectly in accord 



ith God's mercy, that the whole treasure of saving truth was g^ven 
to the Church directly in the first century. 

To accomplish this was the mission of the apostolate. It is like 
medical science in this respect, which makes constant progress in 
the knowledge of herbs. But however great that progress, no new 
herb has been produced. Those that exist now, existed always, 
having the same medicinal properties. The only difference is, that 
we know better than our ancestors how to apply them. In like 
manner, since the days of the apostolate no new remedy for the 
healing of souls has been created or invented. Indeed, some of the 
powers then at work are lost to us, e.g., the charisma of tongues. 
All the difference between the Church then and now is, that we, 
according to this thinking and emotional age, understand more pro- 
foundly the connection between the effect of the remedy and the 
healing of our wounds. 

This difference does not make us richer or poorer. For the sim- 
ple peasant it is sufficient to receive the prescribed medicine, altho 
he is ignorant of its ingredients and effects upon blood and nerves. 
In his world this need does not exist. But the man of thought, un- 
derstanding the connection between cause and effect, has no confi- 
dence in any medicine unless he knows something of its working. 
To him, this knowledge is a positive need, and to the psychological 
effect it is even indispensable. 

This is likewise true of the Church of Christ ; it has not been 
always the same, neither have its needs. The development of our 
knowledge has been such that every age has received an insight 
adapted to satisfy its necessity. More than this : the very fermen- 
tation of the age has created the modified need, and has been used 
of God to give a clearer understanding of the truth. 

And yet, whatever the increased clearness and maturity of the 
knowledge concerning the secret of the Lord during the ages, the 
secret itself has remained the same. Nothing has been added to it. 
And the mystery of the apostolate is. that by the labors of its mem- 
bers the whole secret of the Lord was made known to the Church, 
under the infallible authorship of the divine Inspirer, the Holy 

This is the great fact accomplished by the apostolate : the pub- 
lication of the whole secret of the Lord, by which the revelation in 
the Old Testament, to John the Baptist and Christ was enlarged and 
worked out. For to complete a thing means to add that which be- 


fore was lacking; after which nothing more can be added. And 
this is the second point that we emphasize. 

Through the apostles the Church received something not pos- 
sessed by Israel nor imparted by Christ. Christ Himself declares : 
" I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them 
now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide 
you into all truth ; for He shall not speak from Himself; but whatso- 
ever He shall hear, that shall He speak ; and He will shew you things 
to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and 
shall shew it unto you" (John xvi. 12-14), St. Paul spoke not 
less clearly, saying: " That the mystery which was kept secret since 
the world began was now made manifest" (Rom, xvi. 25). And 
again : " To make men see what is the dispensation of the mystery 
which from all ages was hid in God." And again: " The mystery 
which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is 
made manifest to his saints" (Col. i. 16). Finally, St. John de- 
clares that the apostles testify of what they had looked upon with 
their eyes, and their hands had handled of the Word of Life, which 
was with the Father, and which is manifested. 

Altho we do not deny that the germ of saving knowledge was 
given in Paradise, to the Patriarchs, and to Israel ; yet the Scrip- 
ture teaches distinctly that truth was revealed to the Patriarchs, 
unknown in Paradise ; to Israel, of which the Patriarchs were igno- 
rant; and by Jesus, truth that was hidden from Israel. In like 
manner, truth not declared by Jesus was revealed to the Church by 
the holy apostolate. 

Against this last statement, however, objections are raised. 
Many unbelieving writers of the present century have frequently 
asserted that not Jesus, but Paul was the real founder of Christian- 
ity ; while others have frequently exhorted us to abandon the ortho- 
dox theology of St. Paul, and to return to the simple teachings of 
Jesus; especially to His Sermon on the Mount. 

And really, the more the Scripture is studied the more obvious 
the difference between the Sermon on the Mount and the Epistle to 
the Romans will appear. Not as tho the two contradict each other, 
but in this way, that the latter contains elements of truth, new rays 
of light, not found in the former. 

If one objects to the doctrines of the apostles, as does the 
Groninger School, it is natural to place the gospels above the epistles. 
Hence the fact that many half-believers still receive the Parables and 


the Sermon on the Mount, but reject the doctrine of justification as 
taught by St. Paul ; while those who wish to break with Christianity 
entirely are inclined to consider the Pauline epistles as its real ex- 
ponent, but only to reject them with the entire Pauline Christianity. 
For the Church of the living God, which receives both, there is in 
this unholy tendency an exhortation to have an open eye for the dif- 
ference between the gospels and the epistles, and to acknowledge 
that our opponents are right when they call it a marked difference. 

Yet while our opponents use the difference to attack either the 
authority of the apostolic doctrine or that of Christendom itself, 
the Church confesses that there is nothing surprising in this differ- 
ence. Both are parts of the same doctrine of Jesus, with this dis- 
tinction, that the first part was revealed directly by Christ, while 
the other He gave to His Church indirectly by the apostles. 

Of course, so long as the apostles are considered as independent 
persons, teaching a new doctrine on their ow/i authority, our solution 
does not solve the difficulty. But confessing that they are holy 
apostles, i.e., organs of the Holy Spirit through whom Jesus Him- 
self taught His people from heaven, then every objection is met, 
and there is not even a shadow of conflict. 

For Jesus simply acted like an earthly father in the training of 
his children, who teaches them according to their comprehension ; 
and in case of his death, his task still unfinished, he will leave them 
written instructions to be opened after his departure. But Jesus 
died to rise again, and even after His Ascension He continued to 
be in living contact with His Church through the apostolate. And 
what we would write before our decease, Jesus caused to be written 
by His apostles under the special direction of the Holy Spirit. Thus 
the Scriptures of the New Testament originate — a New Testament 
in a sense now easily understood. 

The correctness of this representation is proven by Christ's own 
words, which teach us — 

First, that there were things declared to the apostles before His 
departure, and there were things not declared, because they could 
not bear them then. 

Secondly, that Jesus would declare the latter also, but by the 
Holy Spirit. 

Thirdly, that the Holy Spirit would reveal these things to them, 
not apart from Jesus, but by taking them from Christ and declaring 
them unto them. 

The Need of the New Testament Scripture. 

" For I testify unto every man that 
heareth the words of the prophecy 
of this book, If any man shall add 
unto these things, God shall add 
unto him the plagues that are writ- 
ten in this book." — Rev. xxii. i8. 

If the Church after the Ascension of Christ had been destined to 
live only one lifetime, and had been confined only to the land of 
the Jews, the holy apostles could have accomplished their task by 
verbal teaching. But since it was to live at least for eighteen cen- 
turies, and to be extended over the whole world, the apostles were 
compelled to resort to the written communication of the revelation 
which they had received. 

If they had not written, the churches of Africa and Gaul could 
never have received trustworthy information; and the tradition 
would have lost its reliable character ages ago. The written reve- 
lation has, therefore, been the indispensable means whereby the 
Church, during its long and ever-extending career, has been pre- 
served from complete degeneration and falsification. 

However, from their epistles it does not appear that the apostles 
clearly understood this. Surely, that the Church would sojourn in 
this world for eighteen centuries, they did not expect ; and almost 
all their epistles bear a local character, as tho not intended for the 
Church in general, but only for particular churches. And yet, al- 
tho they understood it not, the Lord Jesus knew it; He had thus 
planned it ; hence the epistle written exclusively for the church of 
Rome was intended and ordained by Him, and without Paul's 
knowledge, to edify the Church of all ages. 

Hence two things had to be done for the Church of the future : 

First, the image of Christ must be received from the lips of the 
apostles and be committed to writing. 

Secondly, the things of which Jesus had said, " Ye can not bear 


them now. but the Holy Spirit will declare them unto you," must 
be recorded. This is the postulate of the whole matter. The con- 
dition of the churches, their long duration in the future, and their 
world-wide extension demanded it. 

And the facts show that the provision was made; but not imme- 
diately. So long as the Church was confined to a small circle, and 
the remembrance of Christ remained fresh and powerful, the apos- 
tles' spoken word was sufficient. The decree of the Synod of Jeru- 
salem was probably the first written document that proceeded from 
them. But when the churches began to extend across the sea to 
Corinth and Rome, and northward to Ephesus and Galatia, then 
Paul began to substitute written for verbal instructions. Gradually 
this epistolary labor was extended and Paul's example followed. 
Perhaps each wrote in turn. And to these epistles were added the 
narratives of the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ and the 
Acts of the Apostles. At last the King commanded John from 
heaven to write in a book the extraordinary revelation given him 
on Patmos. 

The result was a gradually increasing number of apostolic and 
non-apostolic writings, probably far exceeding that contained in 
the New Testament. At least Paul's epistles show that he wrote 
many more than we now possess. But even if he had not thus in- 
formed us, the fact would have been sufficiently well established; 
for it is improbable that such excellent writers as Paul and John 
should not have written more than a dozen letters during their long 
and eventful lives. Even in one year they must have written more 
than that The controversy of former days over the assertion that 
no apostolic writings could have been lost was most foolish, and 
showed little reckoning with real life. 

It is remarkable that from this great mass a small number of 
writings was gradually separated. A few were collected first, then 
more were added, and arranged in certain order. It took a long 
time before there was uniformity and agreement ; indeed, some wri- 
tings were not universally recognized until after three centuries. 
But in spite of time and controversy, the sifting took place, and the 
result was, that the Church distinguished in this great mass of liter- 
ature two distinct parts: on the one hand, this arranged set of 
twenty-seven books; and on the other, the remaining writings of 
early origin. 

And when the process of sifting and separating was ended, and 


the Holy Spirit had borne witness in the churches that this set of 
writings constituted a whole, and was, indeed, the Testament of 
the Lord Jesus to His Church, then the Church became conscious 
that it possessed a second collection of sacred books of equal author- 
ity with the first collection given to Israel ; then it put the Old and 
the New Testament together, which unitedly form the Holy Scrip- 
ture, our Bible, the Word of God. 

To the question, How did the New Testament Scripture origi- 
nate? we answer without hesitation. By the Holy Spirit. 

How? Did He say to Paul or John : " Sit down and write" ? 
The gospels and the epistles do not so impress us. It does 
indeed apply to the Revelation of St. John, but not to the other 
New Testament Scriptures. They rather impress us as being writ- 
ten without the slightest idea of being intended for the Church of 
all ages. Their authors impress us as writing to certain churches 
of their own definite time, and that after a hundred years perhaps 
not a single fragment of their writings would be in existence. They 
were indeed conscious of the Holy Spirit's aid in writing the truth 
even as they enjoyed it in speaking; but that they were writing parts 
of the Holy Scripture, they surely knew not. 

When St. Paul had finished his Epistle to the Romans, it never 
occurred to him that in future ages his letter would possess for mil- 
lions of God's children an authority equal to, or even higher than 
that of the prophecies of Isaiah and the Psalms of David. Nor could 
the first readers of his epistle, in the church of Rome, have imag- 
ined that after eighteen centuries the names of their principal men 
would still be household words in all parts of the Christian world. 

But if St. Paul knew it not, surely the Holy Spirit did. As by 
education the Lord frequently prepares a maiden for her still un- 
known, future husband, so did the Holy Spirit prepare Paul, John, 
and Peter for their work. He directed their lives, circumstances, 
and conditions; He caused such thoughts, meditations, and even 
words to arise in their hearts as the writing of the New Testament 
Scripture required. And while they were writing these portions 
of the Holy Scripture, that one day would be the treasure of the 
universal Church in all ages, a fact not understood by them, but by 
the Holy Spirit, He so directed their thoughts as to guard them 
against mistakes and lead them into all truth. He foreknew what 
the complete New Testament Scripture ought to be, and what parts 
would belong to it. As an architect, by his mechanics, prepares the 


various parts of the bnilding, afterward to fit them in their places, 
so did the Holy Spirit by different workers prepare the different 
parts of the New Testament, which afterward He united in a whole. 

For the Lord, who by His Holy Spirit caused the preparation of 
these parts, is also King of the Church; He saw these parts scat- 
tered abroad ; He led men to care for them, and believers to have 
faith in them. And, finally, by means of the men interested, He 
united these loose fragments, so that gradually, according to His 
royal decree, the New Testament originated. 

Hence it was not necessary that the New Testament Scripture 
should contain only apostolic writings. Mark and Luke were no 
apostles ; and the notion that these men must have written under 
the direction of Paul or Peter has no proof nor force. What is the 
benefit of writing under the direction of an apostle? That which 
gives divine authority to the writings of Luke is not the influence 
of an apostle, but that he wrote under the absolute inspiration of 
the Holy Spirit. 

Believing in the authority of the New Testament, we must 
acknowledge the authority of the four evangelists to be perfectly 
equal. As to the contents, Matthew's gospel may surpass that of 
Luke, and John's may excel the gospel of Mark; but their author- 
ity is equally unquestionable. The Epistle to the Romans has 
higher value than that to Philemon; but their authority is the same. 
As to 'Cci&ix persons, John stood above Mark, and Paul above Jude; 
but since we depend not upon the authority of their persons, but 
only upon that of the Holy Spirit, these personal differences are 
of no account. 

Hence the question is not whether the New Testament writers 
were apostles, but whether they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. 

Assuredly, it has pleased the King to connect His testimony with 
the apostolate; for He said: "Ye are My witnesses." Hence we 
know that Luke and Mark obtained their information concerning 
Christ from the apostles; but our guaranty for the accuracy and 
reliability of their statements is not the apostolic origin of the same, 
but the authority of the Holy Spirit. Hence the apostles are the 
channels through which the knowledge of these things flows to us 
from Christ; but whether this knowledge reaches us through their 
writings or through those of others makes no difference. The vital 
question is, whether the bearers of the apostolic tradition were in- 
fallibly inspired or not. 


Even tho a writing were indorsed by the twelve apostles, this 
would not be positive proof of its credibility or divine authority. 
For altho they had the promise that the Holy Spirit would lead 
them into all truth, this does not exclude the possibility of theii 
falling into mistakes or even untruths. The promise did not imply 
absolute infallibility, at all times, but merely when they should act 
as the witnesses of Jesus. Hence the information that a document 
comes from the hand of an apostle is insufficient. It requires the 
additional information that it belongs to the things which the apos- 
tle wrote as a witness of Jesus. 

If, therefore, the divine authority of any writing does not depend 
upon its apostolic character, but solely upon the authority of the 
Holy Spirit, it follows, as a matter of course, that the Holy Spirit 
is entirely free to have the apostolic testimony recorded by the 
apostles themselves, or by any one else ; in both cases the authority 
of these writings is exactly the same. Personal preferences are out 
of the question. So far as form, content, wealth, and attractive- 
ness are concerned, we may distinguish between John and Mark, 
Paul and Jude. But when it touches the question of the divine 
authority before which we must bow, then we no longer take ac- 
count of any such distinctions, and we ask only: Is this or that 
gospel inspired by the Holy Spirit ? 

The Character of the New Testament Scripture. 

" And these things write we unto you, 
that your joy may be full." — i 
John i. 4. 

From the two preceding articles it is evident that the New 
Testament Scripture was not intended to bear the character of a 
notarial document. If this had been the Lord's intention we should 
have received something entirely different. It would have required 
a twofold legal evidence : 

In the first place, the proof that the events narrated in the New 
Testament actually occurred as related. 

Secondly, that the revelations received by the apostles are cor- 
rectly communicated. 

Both certifications should be furnished by witnesses, e.g., to 
prove the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand would re- 
quire : 

1. A declaration of a number of persons, stating that they were 
eye-witnesses of the miracle. 

2. An authentic declaration of the magistrates of the surround- 
ing places certifying to their signatures. 

3. A declaration of competent persons to prove that these wit- 
nesses were known as honest and trustworthy people, disinterested 
and competent to judge. Moreover, it would be necessary by 
proper testimony to prove that, among the five thousand, there 
were only seven loaves and two fishes. 

4. That the increase of bread took place while Jesus broke it. 

In the presence of a number of such documents, each duly au- 
thenticated and sealed, persons not too skeptical might find it pos- 
sible to believe that the event had occurred as narrated in the 

To prove this one miracle would require a number of documents 
as voluminous as the whole of St. Matthew. If it were possible 


thus to prove all the events recorded in the gospels and the Acts 
of the Apostles, then the credibility of these narratives would be 
properly established. 

And even this would be far from satisfactory. For the difficulty 
would remain to prove that the epistles contain correct communi- 
cations of the revelations received by the apostles. Such proof 
would be impossible. It would require eye- and ear-witnesses to 
these revelations; and a number of stenographers to report them. 
If this had been possible, then, we concede, there would have been, 
if not mathematical certainty for every expression, yet sufficient 
ground for accepting the general tenor of the epistles. 

But when the apostles wrote them there was no audible voice. 
And when a voice was heard, it could not be understood, as in the 
case of Paul's revelation on the way to Damascus. The same may 
be said of what occurred on Patmos: St. John actually heard a 
voice, but the hearing and the understanding of the words which it 
uttered required a peculiar, spiritual operation that was lacking in 
the people at the same time on the island. 

The fact is, that the revelation of the Holy Spirit granted to 
the apostles was of such a nature that it could not be perceived by 
others. Hence the impossibility to prove its genuineness by nota- 
rial evidence. He that insists upon it ought to know that the Church 
can not furnish it, either for the historical narratives of the gospels, 
or for the spiritual contents of the epistles. 

Henc» it is evident that every effort to prove the truth of the 
contents of the New Testament by external evidence only con- 
demns itself, and must result in the absolute rejection of the au- 
thority of the Holy Scripture. If a judge of the present day should 
condemn or acquit an accused person on the ground of the insig- 
nificant evidence which satisfies many honest people with reference 
to the Scripture, what a storm of indignation would it raise ! The 
whole list of the so-called evidences as to the credibility of the New 
Testament writers, that they were competent to judge, willing to 
testify, disinterested, etc., proves nothing indeed. 

Such externals may suffice when it concerns ordinary events, of 
which one might say : " I believe that it has really happened , I have 
no reason to doubt it; but if to-morrow it should prove not to be so, 
I will lose nothing by it." But how can such superficial methods be 
applied when it concerns the extraordinary events related by the 
Holy Scripture, upon the positive certainty of which my own and 


my children's highest interests depend; so that, if they proved to 
be untrue, e.g., the report of the resurrection of Christ, we should 
suffer the priceless and irreparable loss of an eternal salvation? 

This can not be ; it is absolutely unthinkable. And experience 
proves that the efforts of foolish people to prop their faith by such 
proofs has always ended with the loss of all faith. Nay, such kind 
of proof is by its very insignificance either unworthy to be men- 
tioned with reference to such serioiis matters, or, if it be worth 
anything, it can not be furnished, nor ought it to be. 

Notarial or mathematical proof neither can nor may be fur- 
nished, because the character and nature of the contents of Scrip- 
ture are inconsistent with or repellent to such demonstration. 

No man may demand legal proofs for the fact that the man 
whom he loves and honors as father is his father indeed, God has 
made such proof impossible by the very nature of the case. The 
delicacy which ennobles all family life cuts off the very appearance 
of such investigation; and, if it were possible, the son, furnished 
with such proof, would ipso facto have lost his father and mother; 
they would be his parents no more ; and beneath the pile of evi- 
dence his child-life would be buried. 

The same principle applies to the Holy Scripture. The nature 
and character of the revelation has been so ordered that it allows 
no notarial demonstration. The revelation to the apostles is un- 
thinkable, if other persons could have heard, recorded, and pub- 
lished it as well as they. It was an operation of holy energies, not 
intended to compel doubters to a mere outward faith, but simply to 
accomplish that for which God had sent it, without caring much for 
the contradiction of the skeptics. It concerns a work of God which 
legal or mathematical investigation can not fathom ; which mani- 
fests itself upon the spiritual domain where certainty obtains not by 
outward demonstration, but by personal faith of the one in the other. 

As faith in father and mother springs not from mathematical 
demonstration, but from the contact of love, the fellowship of life, 
and personal trust in each other, even so here, A life of love un- 
folded itself. The mercies of God came bending down to us in 
tender compassion. And every man touched by this divine life was 
affected by its influence, taken up by it, lived in it, felt himself in 
sympathetic fellowship with it; and, in a way imperceptible and 
not understood, obtained a certainty, far above any other, that he 
was in the presence of facts, and that they were divinely revealed. 


And such is the origin of faith ; not supported by scientific 
proof, for then it would be no faith, which has mastered the reader 
of the Holy Scripture in an entirely different way. The existence 
of the Scripture is owing to an act of the unfathomable mercies of 
God; and for this reason man's acceptance must equally be an act 
of absolute self-denial and gratitude. It is only the broken and 
contrite heart, filled with thankfulness to God for His excellent 
mercy, that can cast itself into the Scripture as into its life-element, 
and feel that here is found real assurance, casting out all doubt. 

Hence we must distinguish a threefold operation of the Holy 
Spirit with reference to faith in the New Testament Scripture : 

First, a divine working giving a revelation to the apostles. 

Second, a working called inspiration. 

Third, a working, active to-day, creating faith in the Scripture 
in the heart at first unwilling to believe. 

First comes revelation proper. 

E.g., when St. Paul wrote his treatise on the resurrection (i 
Cor. XV.), he did not develop that truth for the first time. Prob- 
ably he had apprehended it previously, and in his sermons and 
private correspondence expounded it. Hence the revelation ante- 
dates the epistle. It belonged to the things of which Jesus had 
said. " When the Holy Spirit has come He shall guide you into all 
truth, and He will show you things to come." And he received 
that revelation in such a way that he had the positive conviction 
that thus the Holy Spirit had revealed it to him, and that thus he 
would see it in the Judgment day. 

But the epistle was not yet written. This required a second act 
of the Holy Spirit — that of inspiration. 

Without this the knowledge that St. Paul had received a revela- 
tion would be useless. What warrant should we have that he had 
correctly understood and faithfully recorded it? He might have 
made a mistake in the communication, adding to it or taking from 
it, thus making it an unreliable report. Hence inspiration was in- 
dispensable ; for by it the apostle was kept from error while he re- 
corded the revelation previously received. 

Lastly, the spiritual bond must be created connecting the soul 
and the consciousness with the spiritual realities of the infallible 
Word of God — positive conviction of spiritual things. 

The Holy Spirit accomplishes this by the implanting of faith, 

with the various preparations that ordinarily precede the breaking 


forth of the act of believing. The result is inward conviction. This 
is not wrought by referring us to Josephus or Tacitus, but in a 
spiritual way. The content of the Scripture is brought to the soul. 
The conflict between the Word and the soul is felt. The conviction 
thus wrought causes us to see not that the Scripture must make 
room for us, but we for the Scripture. 

In the discussion of regeneration we shall refer to this point more 
largely. For the present we shall be satisfied if we have succeeded 
in showing that the existence of the New Testament Scripture and 
our faith in it are not the work of man, but a work in which the 
Jioly Spirit alone must be honored. 

XTentb Cbapter. 

The Church of Christ. 

" It is the Spirit that beareth wit- 
ness, because the Spirit is 
truth." — I John v. 6. 

We now proceed to discuss the work of the Holy Spirit wrought 
in the Church of Christ. 

Altho the Son of God has had a Church in the earth from the 
beginning, yet the Scripture distinguishes between its manifesta- 
tion before and after Christ. As the acorn, planted in the ground, 
exists, altho it passes through the two periods of germinating and 
rooting, and of growing upward and forming trunk and branches, 
even so the Church. At first hidden in the soil of Israel, wrapped in 
the swaddling-clothes of its national existence, it was only on the 
day of Pentecost that it was manifested in the world. 

Not that the Church was founded only on Pentecost; this would 
be a denial of the Old Covenant revelation, a falsification of the 
idea of Church, and an annihilation of God's election. We only 
say that on that day it became the Church for the world. 

And in it the Holy Spirit has wrought a very comprehensive 

Not its formation, however, for that is the work of the Triune 
God in the divine decree; or, speaking more definitely, of Jesus the 
King when He bought His people with His own blood. 

Indeed, the Spirit of God regenerates the elect, whom He does 
not find in the world, but already in the Church. Every represen- 
tation as tho the Holy Spirit gathers the elect out of a lost world, 
and so brings them into the Church, opposes the Scripture's repre- 



sentation of the Church as an organism. Christ's Church is a 
body, and as the members grow out of the body and are not added 
to it from without, so must the seed of the Church be looked for in 
the Church and not in the world. The Holy Spirit works that only 
which is already sanctified in Christ. Hence our form of Baptism 
reads: " Do you acknowledge that altho our children are conceived 
and born in sin, and therefore are subject to all miseries, yea to con- 
demnation itself: yet that they are sanctified in Christ?" 

However, since regeneration belongs to His work in the individ- 
ual, and we are considering now His work in the Church as a whole, 
as a community, we direct our attention, in the first place, to His 
work of imparting spiritual gifts, particularly those called " charis- 
mata." Some New Testament passages speak of gifts like those 
offered to God (Matt. v. 23)- " If thou bring thy gift to the altar"; 
or gifts communicated to others (2 Cor. viii. 9 and Phil. iv. 17); 
and the gift of salvation ; but those we do not consider. 

A gift offered to God is called in the Greek " doron" ; imparted 
to others, it is commonly called " charis" ; while the gift of grace 
is usually called " dorea." Hence these gifts are distinct from those 
that now occupy our attention. And this distinction appears 
strongest when we compare the gift of the Holy Spirit with. spiritua'L 
gifts. The Holy Spirit Himself is a gift of grace. But when He 
imparts spiritual gifts He adorns us with holy ornaments. The 
first refers to our salvation ; the last to our talents. 

Referring to our salvation, the Scripture calls it a free and gra- 
cious gift, generally " dorea "in the Greek, which, being derived from 
a root meaning to give, denotes that we were not entitled to it, hav- 
ing neither merited nor bought it, but that it is a given good. St. 
Paul exclaims: "Thanks unto God for His unspeakable gift,"/>., 
of salvation (2 Cor. ix. 15). And again: " Much more the grace of 
God and the gift of grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath 
abounded unto many." " Much more they which receiA?-e abundance 
of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus 
Christ" (Rom. v. 15. 17). Andlastly: " But unto every one of us is 
given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephes. 
iv. 7).* 

•It should be noticed that in Rom. v. 15, 16; vi. 23; xi. 29, the word 
"charisma" \%ioun6. in the Greek text, referring to salvation. The rea- 
son is that these passages refer not to the graciousness of the gift, but to 


The same expression is used invariably for the imparting of the 
Holy Spirit: " Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts ii. 
38). And: " Because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the 
gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts x. 45). Hence it should be carefully 
noticed that this has nothing to do with the subject under consid- 
eration. When St. Paul speaks of faith as the gift of God, he refers 
to our salvatiofi and God's saving work in the soul. But the gifts of 
which we now speak are wholly different. They are not unto sal- 
vation, but to the glory of God. They are lent to us as ornaments, 
that we should show their beauty as talents to gain other talents 
therewith. They are additional operations of grace, which can not 
take the place of the proper work of the grace of salvation, nor con- 
firm it, having an entirely different purpose. The work of grace is 
for our 07vti salvation, joy, and upbuilding; the charismata are 
given us for others. The first implies that we have received the 
Holy Spirit; the latter that He imparts gifts unto us. 

Properly speaking, the charismata are given to the churches, not 
to individual persons. When a ruler selects and trains men for 
officers in the army, it is evident that he does this not for their 
personal enjoyment, honor, and aggrandizement, but for the effi- 
ciency and honor of the army. He can search for men with talents 
for the military service, and train and instruct them ; but he can 
not create such talents. If this were possible, every king would 
endow his generals with the genius of a Von Moltke, and every ad- 
miral would be a De Ruyter. 

But Jesus is not thus limited. He is independent; unto Him all 
power is given in heaven and on earth. He can create talents, and 
freely impart them to whomsoever He will. Hence, knowing what 
the Church requires for its protection and upbuilding, He can fully 
supply all its need. His purpose is not merely to please or enrich 
individuals, much less to give to some what He withholds from 
others ; but with the persons thus endowed to adorn and favor the 
whole Church. We do not put a lamp upon the table to show it a 
special favor or because it is more excellent than chair or stove ; 
but simply because thus it serves its purpose, and the whole room 
is lighted. To consider the charismata as intended merely to adorn 
and benefit the person endowed would be just as absurd as to say : 

its scintillating brightness, in contrast with corruption and death. "The 
wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. ** 


"I light the fire to warm not the room, but the stove" ; and to be 
jealous of the charismata given to others in the Church would be 
just as foolish as for the table to be jealous of the stove because it 
gets all the fire. 

The charismata must therefore be considered in an economical 
sense. The Church is a large household with many wants ; an in- 
stitution to be made efficient by the means of many things. They 
are to the Church what light and fuel are to the household; not 
existing for themselves, but for the family, and to be laid aside 
when the days are long and warm. This applies directly to the 
charismata, many of which, given to the apostolic Church, are not 
of service to the Church of the present day. 

These charismata have undoubtedly more or less an official 
character. God has instituted offices in the Church ; not in a me- 
chanical way, or depending upon robe or gown; such unspiritual 
conception is foreign to the Scripture. But as there is division of 
labor in the army or in the human body, so there is in the Church. 

Take, e.g., the body. It must be protected against injury; 
blood must be carried to muscles and nerves ; venous blood must 
be converted into arterial; the lungs must inhale fresh air, etc. 
All these activities are laid upon the various members of the body. 
Eye and ear keep watch ; the heart propels the blood ; the lungs 
supply the oxygen, etc. And this can not be changed arbitrarily. 
The lungs can not watch ; the eye can not supply oxygen ; the skin 
can not propel the blood. Hence this division of labor is neither 
arbitrary, by mutual consent, nor a matter of pleasure; but it is 
divinely ordained, and this ordinance must not be ignored. Hence 
the eye has the office and gift of watching over the body ; the heart 
of circulating the blood ; the lungs of supplying fresh air, etc. 

And this applies to the Church in every respect. That great 
body requires the doing of many and various things for the com- 
mon weal. There is need of guidance, of prophesying, of heroism; 
mercy must be exercised, the sick must be healed, etc. And this 
great, mutual task the Lord has divided among many members. 
He has given to His body, the Church, eyes, ears, hands, and feet; 
and to each of these organic members a peculiar task, calling, and 

Hence to be called to an office simply means to be charged by 
Jesus, the King, with a definite task. You have done some work. 
Very well, but how? From impulse, or in obedience to the 


charge of your Sender? This makes all the difference. The King 
may send us in the ordinary or in an extraordinary way. Zacharias 
was a priest of the course of Abijah ; but his son John was the her- 
ald of Christ by extraordinary revelation. The Levite served by 
right of succession ; the prophet because he was chosen of God. 
But this makes no difference ; called in the one way or the other, 
the office remains the same, so long as we have the assurance that 
King Jesus has called and ordained us. 

For this reason our fathers devoutly spoke of an office of all be- 
lievers. In Christ's Church there are not merely a few officials and 
a mass of idle, unworthy subjects, but every believer has a calling, 
a task, a vital charge. And inasmuch as we are convinced that we 
perform the task because the King has laid it upon us not for our- 
selves, nor even from the motive of philanthropy, but to serve the 
Church, to this extent has our work an official character, altho the 
world denies us the honor. 

Spiritual Gifts. 

" But desire earnestly the greater 
gifts. And a still more excel- 
lent way show I unto you." — 
I Cor. xii. 31 (R. V.). 

The charismata or spiritual gifts are the divinely ordained 
means and powers whereby the King enables His Church to per- 
form its task on the earth. 

The Church has a calling in the world. It is being violently 
attacked not only by the powers of this world, but much more by 
the invisible powers of Satan. No rest is allowed. Denying that 
Christ has conquered, Satan believes that the time left him may yet 
bring him victories. Hence his restless rage and fury, his incessant 
attacks upon the ordinances of the Church, his constant endeavor 
to divide and corrupt it. and his ever-repeated denial of the author- 
ity and kingship of Jesus in His Church. Altho he will never suc- 
ceed entirely, he does succeed to some extent. The history of the 
Church in every country shows it ; it proves that a satisfactory con- 
dition of the Church is highly exceptional and of short duration, 
and that for eight out of ten centuries its state is sad and deplor- 
able, cause for shame and grief on the part of God's people. 

And yet in all this warfare it has a calling to fulfil, an appointed 
task to accomplish. It may sometimes consist in being sifted like 
wheat, as in Job's case, to show that by virtue of Christ's prayer 
faith can not be destroyed in its bosom. But whatever the form of 
the task, the Church always needs spiritual power to perform it; a 
power not in itself, but which the King must supply. 

Every means afforded by the King for the doing of His work is 
a charisma, a gift of grace. Hence the internal connection between 
work, office, and gift. 

Wherefore St. Paul says : " To each one is given the manifesta- 
tion of the Spirit to profit withal," i.e., for the general good (?rp6f 


TO avfi<pipov) (1 Cor, xii. 7). And, again, still more clearly: - Even so 
ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may 
excel, to the edifying of the Church" (i Cor. xiv. 12). Hence the 
petition, " Thy Kingdom come," which the Heidelberg Catechism 
interprets : " Rule us so by Thy Word and Spirit that we may sub- 
mit ourselves more and more to Thee ; preserve and increase Thy 
Church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which 
would exalt itself against Thee, and also all wicked counsels de- 
vised against Thy Holy Word, till the full perfection of the King- 
dom takes place, wherein Thou shalt be all in all." 

It is wrong, therefore, to consider the life of individual believers 
too much by itself, separating it from the life of the Church. They 
exist not but in connection with the body, and thus they become 
partakers of the spiritual gifts. In this sense the Heidelberg Cate- 
chism confesses the communion of saints : " First, that all and every 
one who believes, being members of Christ, are in common par- 
takers of Him and of all His riches and gifts; secondly, that every 
one must know it to be his duty readily and cheerfully to employ 
his gifts for the advantage and salvation of other members." The 
parable of the talents has the same aim ; for the servant who with 
his talent failed to benefit others receives a terrible judgment. 
Even \.\^Q hidden %\iX. must be stirred up, as St. Paul says; not to 
boast of it or to feed our pride, but because it is the Lord's and in- 
tended for the Church. 

St. John writing, " Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and 
ye know all things" (i John ii. 20), and " Ye need not that any man 
teach you " ( i John ii. 27), does not mean to say that every indi- 
vidual believer possesses the full anointing, and in virtue of this 
knoweth all things. For if this were so, who would not despair of 
salvation, nor dare say : " I have the faith " ? Moreover, how could 
the statement, " Ye need not that any man teach you," be reconciled 
with the testimony of the same apostle, that the Holy Spirit quali- 
fies teachers appointed by Jesus Himself? Not the individual be- 
liever, but the whole Church as a body possesses the full anointing 
of the Holy One and knows all things. The Church as a body 
needs not that any come to teach it from without; for it possesses 
all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge, being united with the 
Head, who is the reflection of the glory of God, in whom dwelleth 
all wisdom. 

And this applies not to the Church of one period, but of all 


ages. The Church of to-day is the same as in the day of the apos- 
tles. The life lived then is the life that animates it now. The 
gains of two centuries ago belong to its treasury, as well as those 
received to-day. The past is its capital. The wonderful and glo- 
rious revelation received by the Church of the first century was 
given, through it, to the Church of all ages, and is still effectual. 
And all the spiritual strength and insight, the inward grace, the 
clearer consciousness, received during the course of the ages are 
not lost, but form an accumulated treasure, increasing still by the 
ever-renewed additions of spiritual gifts. 

He who realizes and acknowledges this fact feels himself rich 
and blessed indeed. For this apostolic view of the matter causes 
us to be thankful for our brother's gift, which otherwise we might 
envy; inasmuch as those gifts do not impoverish, but enrich us. 
In one city there may be twelve ministers of the Word, all gifted 
in various directions. According to the natural man, each will be 
jealous of his brother's gifts and fear that his talents will excel his 
own. But not so among the Lord's own servants. They feel that 
together they serve one Lord and one flock, and bless God for giv- 
ing them together what the leading and feeding require. In an 
army the artillerist is not jealous of the cavalryman, for he knows 
that the latter is for his protection in the hour of danger. 

Moreover, this apostolic standpoint excludes isolation; for it 
creates the longing for fellowship with distant brethren, even tho 
they walk in more or less deviating paths. It is impossible, Bible 
in hand, to limit Christ's Church to one's own little community. It 
is everywhere, in all parts of the world; and whatever its external 
form, frequently changing, often impure, yet the gifts wherever 
received increase our riches. 

This apostolic standpoint is also against the foolish notion that 
for eighteen centuries the Church has received no gifts whatever; 
and hence that, like the early Church, each of us must take his 
Bible to formulate his own confession. That standpoint makes one 
so intensely conscious of the communion of spiritual gifts that he 
can not but appreciate the Church's treasure accumulated during 
the centuries. In fact, Christ's Church has received greatest 
abundance of spiritual gifts; and to-day we have the disposition 
not only of the gifts of the churches in our own city, but of all 
those imparted to the churches elsewhere, and of the historic capi- 
tal accumulated during eighteen centuries. 


Hence the treasure of every particular church is threefold: 
First, the charismata in its own circle ; secondly, those given to other 
churches j and lastly, those received since the days of the apostles. 

According to their nature these spiritual gifts may be divided 
into three classes : the official, the extraordinary, and the ordinary. 

St. Paul says : " To one is given through the Spirit the word of 
wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, according to the 
same Spirit, and to another faith by the same Spirit; and to another 
gifts of healing in the one Spirit; and to another workings of mira- 
cles, and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; 
and to another divers kinds of tongues ; and to another the inter- 
pretation of tongues. But all these worketh the one and the same 
Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as He will" (i Cor. xviii. 
8-1 1). In like manner the apostle speaks to the Church of Rome: 
" Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to 
us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion 
of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that 
teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he 
that giveth let him do it with simplicity ; he that ruleth, with dili- 
gence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Rom. xii. 6-8). 

From these passages it is evident that among these charismata 
St. Paul assigns the first place to the gifts pertaining to the ordi- 
nary service of the Church by its ministers, elders, and deacons. 
For by prophecy St. Paul designates animated preaching, wherein 
the preacher feels himself cheered and inspired by the Holy Spirit. 
By " teaching" he means ordinary catechizing. " Ministry" refers to 
the management of the temporalities of the Church. " Giving" has 
reference to the care for the poor and the miserable. " He that rul- 
eth" refers to the officers in charge of the government of the Church. 
These are the ordinary offices embracing the care of the spiritual 
and temporal affairs of the Church. 

Then follows a different series of charismata, viz., tongues, 
healing, discernment of spirits, etc. These non-official gifts divide 
themselves into two classes — those that strengthen the gifts of sa- 
ving grace, and those distinct from the grace of salvation. 

The former are, e.g., faith and love. Without faith no one can 
be saved. It is therefore the portion of all God's children, and as 
such not a " cJuxrisma," but a " dor on." But while all have faith, God 
is free to let it manifest itself more strongly in the one than in an- 


other. Of one degree Scripture says : " Believe on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; and of another: "If ye have 
faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, 
Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove." The first 
works internally, the other externally. For this reason St. Paul 
speaks not only of ministries a.nd. gifts, but also of " workings," vfYiich. 
consist in a more vigorous exercise of the grace which the believer 
as such possesses already. Where the faith of many languishes, 
the Lord frequently grants extraordinary workings of faith to some, 
thus to refresh and comfort others. The same is true of love, which 
also is the portion of all, but not in the same effectual degree. And 
where the love of many waxes cold, the Lord sometimes quickens 
it in the few to such extent that others see it and are provoked to 
holy jealousy. 

Besides these ordinary charismata, which are only more energetic 
manifestations of what every believer possesses in the germ, the Lord 
has also given to His church extraordinary gifts, working partly upon 
the spiritual and partly upon the physical domain. Of the latter 
are the charismata of self-restraint and healing of the sick. Of the 
former Christ speaks in Matt. xix. 1 2, where he calls such persons 
" eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom." St. Paul says that for the 
sake of the weak brother he will abstain from meat; and again, 
that he keeps under the body, bringing it into subjection, etc. The 
charisma of healing refers to the glorious gift of healing the sick : 
not only those who suffer from nervous diseases and psychological 
ailments, who are more susceptible to spiritual influences, but also 
those whose diseases are wholly outside the spiritual realm. 

Of an entirely different nature are the extraordinary, purely 
spiritual charismata, of which St. Paul mentions five: wisdom, 
knowledge, discernment of spirits, tongues and their interpreta- 
tion. These may also be divided in two classes, inasmuch as the 
first three mentioned are also found, altho in a different form, out- 
side of the Kingdom of God; and the last two, which present a 
wholly peculiar phenomenon, ivithiti the Kingdom. Wisdom, 
knowledge, and discernment of spirits exist even among the 
heathen, and are much admired by those who reject the Christ. 
But those natural gifts appear in the Church in a different way. 
The charisma of wisdom enables one without much investigation, 
with great tact and clearness, to understand conditions and to offer 
judicious advice. Knowledge is a charisma whereby the Holy 


Spirit enables one to acquire an unusually deep insight into the 
mysteries of the Kingdom. Discernment of spirits is a charisma 
whereby one can discern between the genuine spirits raised up of 
God and those that only pretend to be such. The charisma of 
tongues we have discussed at length in the twenty-eighth article. 

The charismata now existing in the Church are those pertaining 
to the ministry of the Word ; the ordinary charismata of increased 
exercise of faith and love; those of wisdom, knowledge, and dis- 
cernment of spirits ; that of self-restraint ; and lastly, that of healing 
the sick suffering from nervous and psychological diseases. The 
others for the present are inactive. 

The Ministry of the Word. 

"He shall lead you into all truth." 
—John xvi. 13. 

Let us now consider the second activity of the Holy Spirit in 
the Church, which we prefer to designate as His care-taking of the 
Word. In this we distinguish three parts, viz. : the Sealing, the 
Interpretatio7i, and the Application of the Word. 

In the first place, it is the Holy Spirit who seals the Word. This 
has reference to the " testimonium Spiritus Sancti," of which our 
fathers used to speak and by which they understood the operation 
whereby He creates in the hearts of believers the firm and lasting 
conviction concerning the divine and absolute authority of the 
Word of God. 

The Word is, if we may so express it, a child of the Holy Spirit. 
He has brought it forth. We owe it entirely to His peculiar activ- 
ity. He is its Auctor Primarius, i.e., its Principal Author. And 
thus it can not seem strange that He should exercise that motherly 
care over the child of His own travail whereby He enables it to 
fulfil its destiny. And this destiny is, in the first place, to be believed 
in by the elect; secondly, to be understood by them; and lastly, to 
be lived by them ; three operations that are successively effected in 
them by the sealing, the interpretation, and the application of the 
Word. The sealing of the Word quickens the " faith"; the interpre- 
tation imparts the " right understanding " ; and the application effects 
the "living" of it. 

We mention the sealing of the Word first, for without faith in 
its divine authority it can not be God's Word to us. 

The question is : How do we come in real contact and fellowship 
with the Holy Scripture, which, as a mere external object, lies before 

We are told that it is the Word of God ; but how can this become 
our own firm conviction? It can never be obtained by investigation. 


In fact, it ought to be acknowledged that the more one investigates 
the Word the more he loses his simple and childlike faith in it. It 
can not even be said that the doubt created by superficial inquiry 
will be dispelled by deeper research ; for even the profound scrutiny 
of earnest men has had but one result, viz., the increase of interro- 

We can not in this way examine the contents of the Scripture 
without destroying it for ourselves. If one wishes to examine the 
contents of an egg, he must not break it, for then he disturbs it and 
it is an egg no more ; but he should ask them that know about it. 
In like manner we can learn the truth of the Scripture only by seal- 
ing and external communication. 

For suppose that the final verdict of science will eventually 
confirm the divine authority of the Scripture, as we firmly believe 
it will, what would that avail us in our present spiritual need, since 
during our short life science will not reach that final verdict? And 
even if after thirty or forty years we should see it, would that avail 
my present distress? And if this difficulty could also be removed, 
we would still ask : Is it not cruel to give spiritual assurance only 
to Greek and Hebrew scholars? Do not men see and understand, 
then, that the evidence of the divine authority of the Scripture must 
come to us in such a manner that the simplest old woman in the 
poorhouse can see it just as well as I can? 

Hence all learned investigation, as the basis for spiritual convic- 
tion, is out of the question. He who denies this maltreats souls and 
introduces an offensive clericalism. For what is the result? The 
notion that the unscholarly can have no assurance of themselves; 
that is what ministers are for; they have studied the matter; they 
ought to know, and the simple folk must believe upon their authority. 

The absurdity of this notion is obvious. In the first place, the 
learned gentlemen are frequently the greatest doubters. Secondly, 
one minister almost always contradicts what another has laid down 
as the truth. And, thirdly, the congregation, treated as a minor, is 
delivered again into the power of men; a yoke is laid upon it which 
our fathers could not bear; and the mistake is made of trying to 
prove the testimony of God by that of men. 

If we must bear a yoke, then give us that of Rome ten times 
rather than that of the scholars; for altho Rome puts men between 
us and the Scripture, they speak at least with one mouth. They all 
repeat what the Pope has settled for them, and his authority rests 


not upon his scholarship, but upon his pretended spiritual illumina- 
tion. Hence the Roman Catholic priests do not contradict one 
another. Neither is their teaching the fancy of a defective learning, 
but the result of a mental development that Rome attained in its 
most excellent men, and that in connection with the spiritual labor 
of many centuries. 

Of all clericalism, that of the intellectual stamp is the most un- 
bearable; for one is always silenced with the remark, "You don't 
know Greek," or, " You don't read Hebrew " ; while the child of God 
feels irresistibly ihaX in the matters that concern eternity, Greek and 
Hebrew can not have the last word. And this apart from the fact 
that to a number of these scholars Professor Cobet might say in 
turn : " Dear sir, do you still know Greek yourself? " Of the shallow 
knowledge of Hebrew in the largest number of cases, it is better 
not to speak. 

No, in that way we never get there. To make the divine au- 
thority of the Holy Scripture real to us, we need not a human, but 
a divine testimony, equally convincing to the simplest and to the 
most learned — a testimony that must not be cast as pearls before 
swine, but be limited to those who can gather from it noblest fruit, 

\ viz., to them that are born again. 

And this testimony is not derived from the Pope and his priests, 
nor from the theological faculty with its ministers, but comes with 
the sealing from the Holy Spirit alone. Hence it is a divine testi- 
mony, and as such stops all contradiction and silences all doubt. 
It is a testimony the same to all, belonging to the peasant in the 
field and to the theologian in his study. Finally, it is a testimony 
which they alone receive who have open eyes, so that they can see 

_^ However, this testimony does not work by magic. It does not 
cause the confused mind of unbelief suddenly to cry out: " Surely 
the Scripture is the Word of God ! " If this were the case, the way 

■ of enthusiasts would be open, and our salvation would depend again 
upon a pretended spiritual insight. No, the testimony of the Holy 
Spirit works in an entirely different way. He begins to bring us 
into contact with the Word, either by our own reading or by the 
communication of others. Then He shows us the picture of the 
sinner according to the Scripture, and the salvation which merci- 
fully saved him; and lastly, He makes us hear the song of praise 
upon his lips. And after we have seen this objectively, with the 


eye of the understanding. He then so works upon our feeling that 
we begin to see ourselves in that sinner, and to feel that the truth 
of the Scripture directly concerns us. Finally, He takes hold of the 
will, causing the very power seen in the Scripture to work in us. 
And when thus the whole man, mind, heart, and will, has experi- 
enced the power of the Word, then He adds to this the comprehen- 
sive operation of assurance, whereby the Holy Scripture in divine 
splendor commences to scintillate before our eyes. 

Our experience is like that of a person who, from his brightly 
lighted room, looks out in the dusk. At first, owing to the bright- 
ness within, he sees nothing. But blowing out his light and look- 
ing out once more, he gradually distinguishes forms and figures, 
and after a while he enjoys the soft twilight. Let us apply this to 
the Word of God. So long as the light of our own insight flashes 
through the soul, we, looking through the window of eternity, fail 
to perceive anything. It is all wrapped in cloudy darkness. But 
when at last we prevail upon ourselves to extinguish that light, and 
look out again, then we see a divine world gradually coming up out 
of the gloom, and, to our surprise, where at first we saw nothing 
we now see a glorious realm bathed in divine light. 

And thus God's elect obtain a firm assurance concerning the 
Word of God that nothing can shake, of which no learning can rob 
them. They stand firm as a wall. They are founded upon a rock. 
The winds may howl and the floods descend, but they fear not. 
They stay upon their indestructible faith, not only as a result of 
the Holy Spirit's first operation, but because He supports the con- 
viction continually. Jesus said, "He abideth with you forever"; 
and this has primary reference to this testimony concerning the 
Word of God. In the believing heart He testifies continually: 
" Fear not, the Scripture is the Word of your God." 

However, this is not all of the Holy Spirit's work in regard to 
the Word. It must also be interpreted. 

And He, the Inspirer, alone can give the right interpretation. 
If among men each is the best interpreter of his own word, how 
much more here where no man shall ever have the boldness to say 
that he understands the Spirit's full and proper meaning as well 
as He Himself, if not better? Even if the authors of both Testa- 
ments should rise from the dead and tell us the meaning of their 
respective Scriptures — even that would not be the full and deep in- 


terpretation. For they wrote things the comprehensive meaning 
of which they did not understand. E.g., when Moses wrote about 
the serpent's seed, it is obvious that he did not begin to see all that 
is contained in the " bruising of his heel." 

Hence the Holy Spirit alone can interpret the Scripture. And 
how? After the manner of Rome, by means of an official transla- 
tion as the Vulgate ; an official interpretation of every word and 
sentence ; and an official condemnation of every other explanation? 
By no means. This would be very easy, but also very unspiritual. 
Death would cleave to it. The full, boundless ocean of truth would 
be confined within the narrow limits of a formula. And the re- 
freshing fragrance of life, which always meets us from the sacred 
page, would at once be lost. 

Surely the churches may not be given over to an arbitrarj', irre- 
sponsible translation of the Word ; and we greatly appreciate the 
mutual care of the churches in providing a correct translation in 
the vernacular. We consider it even highly desirable that, under 
the seal of their approval, the churches should publish expository 
marginal readings. But neither the one nor the other should ever 
replace the Scripture itself. Scriptural research must ever be free. 
And when there is spiritual courage, then let the churches revise 
their translation and see whether their expository readings need 
modification. Not, however, to unsettle things every three years, 
but that in every period of vigorous, animated, spiritual life the 
light of the Holy Spirit may be shed in larger measure upon the 
things that always need more light. 

Hence the work of the Holy Spirit with reference to interpreta- 
tion is indirect, and the means employed are : (i) scientific study; 
(2) the ministry of the Word; and (3) the spiritual experience of 
the Church. And it is by the cooperation of these three factors 
that, in the course of ages, the Holy Spirit indicates which inter- 
pretation deviates from the truth, and which is the correct under- 
standing of the Word. 

This interpretation is followed by the application. 

The Holy Scripture is a wonderful mystery, which is intended 
to meet the needs and conflicts of every age, nation, and saint. 
When preparing it He foreknew those ages, nations, and saints, and 
with an eye to their necessities He so planned and arranged it as it 
is now offered to us. And only then will the Holy Scripture attain 


the end in view, when to every age, nation, church, and individual 
it shall be applied in such a way that every saint shall receive at 
last whatever portion was reserved for him in the Scripture. 
Hence this work of application belongs to the Holy Spirit alone, for 
only He knows the relation which the Scripture must sustain at last 
to every one of God's elect. 

As to the manner in which the work is performed, it is either 
direct or indirect. 

The indirect application comes most generally through the min- 
istry, which attains its highest end when standing before his con- 
gregation the minister can say : " This is the message of the Word 
which at this time the Holy Spirit intends for you." An awful claim, 
indeed, and only attainable when one lives as deeply in the Word 
as in the Church. Besides this there is also an application of the 
Word brought about by the spoken or written word of a brother, 
which sometimes is as effectual as a long sermon. The quiet 
perusal of some exposition of the truth has sometimes stirred the 
soul more effectually than a service in the house of prayer. 

The direct application of the Word the Holy Spirit effects by 
the reading of the Scripture or by remembered passages. Then He 
brings to remembrance words deeply affecting us by their singular 
power. And, altho the world smiles and even brethren profess 
ignorance concerning it, it is ovir conviction that the special appli- 
cation of that moment was for us and not for them, and that in our 
inward souls the Holy Spirit performed a work peculiar to Himself. 

The Government of the Church. 

" No man can say that Jesus is 
the Lord, but by the Holy 
Ghost." — I Cor. xii. 3. 

The last work of the Holy Spirit in the Church has reference to 

The Church is a divine institution. It is the body of Christ, 
even tho manifesting itself in a most defective way ; for as the man 
whose speech is affected by a stroke of paralysis is the same friend- 
ly person as before, in spite of the defect, so is the Church, whose 
speech is impaired, still the same holy body of Christ. The visible 
and invisible Church are one. 

We have written elsewhere : " The Church of Christ on earth is 
at once visible and invisible. Even as a man is at once a percept- 
ible and imperceptible being without being therefore two beings, 
so does the distinction between the Church visible and invisible in 
no wise impair its unity. It is one and the same Church, which 
according to its spiritual being is hidden in the spiritual world, 
manifest only to the spiritual eye, and which according to its yisu 
ble form manifests itself externally to believers and the world. 

" According to its spiritual and invisible being the Church is one 
in all the earth, one also with the Church in heaven. In like man- 
ner it is also a holy Church, not only because it is skilfully wrought 
of God, dependent entirely upon His divine influences and work- 
ings, but also because the spiritual defilement and indwelling sin 
of believers belong not to it, but war against it. According to its 
visible form, however, it manifests itself only in fragments. Hence 
it is local, i.e., widely distributed; and the national churches origi- 
nate because these local churches form such connection as their 
own character and their national relations demand. More exten- 
sive combinations of churches can only be temporal or exceedingly 
loose and flexible. And these churches, as manifestations of the 


invisible church, are not one, neither are they holy ; for they par- 
take of the imperfections of all earthly life, and are constantly de- 
filed by the power of sin which internally and externally under- 
mines their well-being." 

Hence the subject may not be presented as tho the spiritual, 
invisible, and mystical Church were the object of Christ's care and 
government, while the affairs and oversight of the visible Church 
are left to the pleasure of men. This is in direct opposition to the 
Word of God. There is not one visible Church and another invis- 
ible; but one Church, invisible in the spiritual, and visible in the 
material world. And as God cares both for body and soul, so does 
Christ govern the external affairs of the Church just as certainly 
as with His grace He nourishes it internally. 

Christ is the Lord; Lord not only of the soul, but before He can 
be that He must be Lord of the Church as a whole. 

It should be noticed that the preaching of the "Word and the ad- 
ministration of the sacraments belong not to the internal economy 
of the Church, but to the external; and that church government 
serves almost exclusively to keep the preaching pure and the sacra- 
ments from being profaned. Hence it is not expedient to say : " If 
the Word of God be only preached in its purity and the sacraments 
rightly administered, the church order is of minor importance " ; elim- 
inate these two from the church order and very little remains of it. 

The question is, therefore, whether these means of grace are to 
be arranged according to our pleasure, or according to the will of 
Jesus. Does He allow us to trifle with them according to our own 
notions, or does He rebuke and abhor all self-willed religion? If 
the last, then also He must from heaven direct, govern, and care for 
His Church. 

However, He does not compel us in this matter; He has left us 
the awful liberty of acting against His Word and of substituting 
our form of government for His own. And that is the very thing 
which misguided Christendom has done again and again. Through 
unbelief, not seeing the King, it has frequently ignored, forgotten, 
deposed Him ; it has established its own self-willed regime in His 
Church, until at last the very remembrance of the lawful Sovereign 
has been lost. 

The individual church, still mindful of the kingship of Jesus, 
professes to bow unconditionally to His kingly Word as contained 
in the Scripture. Therefore, we say that in the state church of the 


Netherlands, whose church order not only lacks such profession, 
but lays the supreme legislative power exclusively upon men, 
Christ's Kingship is mocked; that a pretender has usurped His 
place, who must be removed as surely as it is written : " Yet have I 
set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." 

Hence it must be maintained firmly and fearlessly that Jesus is 
not only the King of souls, but also King in His Church ; whose 
absolute prerogative it is to be the Lawgiver in His Church ; and 
that the power which contests that right must be opposed for con- 
science* sake. 

To the question, why the Church is so apt to forget the Kingship 
of Christ, so that many a godly minister has not the slightest feeling 
for it, often saying: "Surely Jesus is King in the realm of truth, 
but what does He care for the external church? I, at leaFt, a 
spiritual man, never attend the meetings of the official board " ; we 
answer: " If Jesus had an earthly throne and thence reigned person- 
ally over His Church, all men would bow before Him ; but being 
enthroned in heaven at the right hand of the Father, the King is 
forgotten ; out of sight, out of mind. Hence ignorance coficertiing the 
work 0/ the Holy Spirit is the cause. Since Jesus governs His Church 
not directl5\ but by His Word and Spirit, there is no respect for the 
majesty of His sovereign government. 

The spiritual eye of the believer must therefore be reopened 
for the work of the Holy Spirit in the churches. The unspiritual 
man has no eye for it. A consistory, classis, or synod is to him 
merely a body of men convened to transact business according to 
their own light, the same as a meeting of the directors of a board of 
trade, or some other secular organization. One is a shareholder 
and a committeeman, and as such assists in the administration of 
affairs to the best of his ability. But to the child of God, with an 
eye for the work of the Holy Spirit, these church assemblies assume 
an entirely different aspect. He acknowledges that this consistory 
is no consistory, this classis no classis, this synod only apparently 
so, except the Holy Spirit preside and decide matters together with 
the members. 

The opening prayer of consistory, classis, or synod is therefore 
not the same as that of the Y. M. C. A., or of a missionary conven- 
tion, simply a prayer for light and help, but an entirely different 
thing. It is the petition that the Holy Spirit stand in the midst of 
the assembly. For without Him no ecclesiastical meeting is com- 


plete. It can not be held except He be present. Hence in the 
liturgical prayer at the opening of consistory, there is first a peti- 
tion for the Holy Spirit's presence and leadership; secondly, the 
confession that the members can do nothing without His presence ; 
and thirdly, a pleading of the promises to office-bearers. 

The prayer reads : " Since we are at present assembled in Thy 
Holy Name, after the example of the apostolic churches, to consult, 
as our office requires, about those things which may come before 
us, for the welfare and edification of Thy churches, for which we 
acknowledge ourselves unfit and incapable, as we are by nature un- 
able of ourselves to think any good, much less to put it into practise, 
— therefore we beseech Thee, O Faithful God and Father, that Thou 
wilt be pleased to be present with Thy Spirit according to Thy prom- 
ise, in the midst of our present assembly, to guide us in all truth." 

In the prayer at the close of the consistory there follows the ex- 
press giving of thanks that the Holy Spirit was present in the 
meeting : 

" Moreover, we thank Thee that Thou now hast been present 
with Thy Holy Spirit in the midst of our assembly, directing our 
determinations according to Thy will, uniting our hearts in mutual 
peace and concord. We beseech Thee, O faithful God and Father, 
that Thou wilt graciously be pleased to bless our intended labor 
and effectually to execute Thy begun work ; always gathering unto 
Thyself a true church and preserving the same in the pure doctrine 
and in the right use of Thy holy sacraments, and in a diligent exer- 
cise of discipline." 

Hence church government signifies : 

First, that King Jesus institutes the offices and appoints the in- 

Secondly, that the churches submit themselves unconditionally 
to the fundamental law of His Word. 

Thirdly, that the Holy Spirit come in the assembly to direct the 
deliberations; as Walaeus expressed it: " That the Holy Spirit per- 
sonally may stand behind the president to preside in every meet- 
ing." And this saying is so rich in meaning that we would seri- 
ously ask, whether it is not yet plain that a mere change of officers 
avails not, so long as the organization itself is not agreeable to the 
Word of God. The question is not whether better 7nen come in power, 
but whether the Holy Spirit preside in the assembly ; which He can 
not do except the Word of God be the only rule and authority. 



The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Individual 

first Cbapter. 

The Man to be Wrought upon. 

'• Behold, I will pour out My Spirit 
unto you, I will make known 
My words unto you." — Prov. 
\. 23. 

The discussion so far has been confined to the Holy Spirit's 
work in the Church as a whole. We now consider His' work in 
individual persons. 

There is a distinction between the Church as a whole and its 
individual members. There is a £ody of Christ, and there are mem- 
bers which constitute a part of that Body. And the character of 
the Holy Spirit's work in the one is necessarily different from that 
in the other. 

The Church, born of the divine pleasure, is complete in the 
eternal counsel, and sovereign choice has prepared all its course. 

The same God who has numbered the hairs of our head has also 
numbered the members of Christ's Body. As every natural birth 
is foreordained, so is every Christian birth in the Church divinely 

The origin and awakening of eternal life are from above ; not 
from the creature, but from the Creator, and are rooted in His free 
and sovereign choice. And it remains not merely a choice, but is 
followed by a divine acf equally decisive that enforces and realizes 
that choice. 

That is God's spiritual omnipotence. He is not as a man who ex- 
periments, but He is God who, never forsaking the work of His hands, 
is persistent and irresistible in the doing of all His pleasure. Hence 
His counsel becomes history ; and the Church, whose form is otitlined 


in that counsel, must in the course of ages be bom, increase, and 
perfect itself according to that counsel ; and since that counsel is 
indestructible the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. 
This is the ground of the security and consolation of the saints. 
They have no other ground of trust. From the fact that God is 
God, and that therefore His pleasure shall stand, they draw the 
sure conviction with which they prophesy against all that is visible 
and phenomenal. 

In the work of grace there is no trace of chance or fatalism ; God 
has determined not only the final issue, leaving the way by which 
it is to be attained undecided, but in His counsel He has prepared 
every means to realize His choice. And in that counsel ways dis- 
close themselves which human eye can not trace nor fathom. The 
divine omnipotence adapts itself to the nature of the creature. It 
causes the cedars of Lebanon to grow and the bulls of Bashan to 
increase ; but it feeds and strengthens each according to its nature. 
The cedar eats no grass, and the ox does not burrow in the ground 
for food. 

The divine ordinance requires that by its roots the tree shall ab- 
sorb the juices from the ground, and that by the mouth the ox shall 
take his food and convert it into blood. And He honors His own 
ordinance bj' providing food in the soil for the one, and grass in the 
field for the other. 

The same principle prevails in the Kingdom of Grace. To man 
as a subject of that Kingdom, and of the moral world belonging to 
it, God has given another organism than to the ox, cedar, wind, or 
stream. The movements of the latter are purely mechanical ; from 
the steep mountain the stream must fail. In a different way He acts 
upon ox and tree ; and in still another way upon man. In the hu- 
man body chemical forces work mechanically, and other forces like 
those in the ox and cedar. And besides these there are in man 
moral forces which God operates also according to their nature. 

Upon this ground our fathers rejected as unworthy of God the 
fanatical view that in the work of grace man is a stock or block; 
not because it attributes something to man, but because it repre- 
sents God as denying His own work and ordinance. Creating an ox 
or a tree or stone each different from the other, giving each a na- 
ture of its own, it follows that He can not violate this, but must 
adapt Himself to it. Hence all His spiritual operations are subject 
to the divinely ordained dispositions in man as a spiritual being; 


and this feature makes the work of grace exceedingly beautiful, 
glorious, and adorable. 

For let us not deceive ourselves and speak any longer of a glo- 
rious work of grace if the omnipotent God treats man mechanically, 
as a stock or block. Then there is no mystery for angels to look 
into, but an immediate work of omnipotence breaking down and 
creating anew. To admire the work of grace we should take it as 
it is revealed, i.e., as a complicated, unsearchable work by which, 
violating nothing, God adapts Himself to the delicate and manifold 
needs of man's spiritual being; and reveals His divine omnipotence 
in the victory over the endless and gigantic obstacles which human 
nature puts in His way. 

Even the heart of God thirsts after love. His entire counsel 
may be reduced to one thought, viz., that in the end of the ages 
He may have a Church which shall understand His love and return 
it. But love can not be ordered, neither can it be forced in an un- 
spiritual way. It can not be poured out in a man's heart mechani- 
cally. To be warm, refreshing, and satisfying, love must be quick- 
ened, cultivated, and cherished. Hence God does not instil an 
ounce of love into His people's hearts, in consequence of which 
they love Him, but He exhibits love to such an extent that He, who 
was from the beginning with God and was God, in unfathomable 
love dies for men on the cross. 

This would have been superfluous if man were a stock or block. 
Then God would only have had to create love in his heart, and men 
would have loved Him from sheer necessity, as a stove emits heat 
when the fire is lighted. But the love so warmly portrayed in 
Scripture is not superfluous, when God deals with spiritual crea- 
tures spiritually. Then the cross of Christ is a manifestation of 
divine love far surpassing all human conceptions; hence exercising 
such irresistible power upon all God's elect. 

And that which is preeminently true and apparent in love is 
equally true of every part of the work of grace in all its stages. In 
it God never denies Himself, nor the ordinance and plan after which 
man was created. Hence it is its glory that, while on the one hand 
God granted man the strongest means of resistance, on the other 
He overcame that resistance in a divine and kingly way by the om- 
nipotence of redeeming grace. 

When the apostle testifies, " We pray you in Christ's stead, as 
tho God did beseech you by us, be ye reconciled to God," he reveals 


such a depth of the mystery of love that finally the relations are 
literally reversed, and the holy God beseeches His rebellious crea- 
ture, who instead should cry to Him for mercy. 

Tradition speaks of the fascination of mysterious beings exerted 
upon travelers and mariners so irresistibly that the latter cast 
themselves willingly and yet against their will into destruction. 
In love's revelation this tradition in a reversed and holy manner 
has become a reality. Here also is an almighty power of fascina- 
tion, in the end irresistible to the condemned sinner ; but allowing 
himself to be drawn unwillingly and yet willingly, eternal pity 
draws him not into destruction, but out of it. 

However, the wonderful workings of love can scarcely be ana- 
lyzed. Lovers never know who has attracted and who has been 
attracted, nor how in the struggle of the affections love performed 
its drawings. Love's being is too mysterious to reveal its various 
workings and how they succeed one another. And this applies in 
far gpreater measure to the love of God. Every saint knows by ex- 
perience that at last it became irresistible, and prevailed. But how 
the victory was achieved can not be told. This divine work comes 
to us from such infinite heights and depths, it affects us so myste- 
riously, and in the beginning there was such utter lack of spiritual 
light that one can scarcely more than stammer of these things. 
Who comprehends the mystery of the natural birth? Who had 
knowledge when he was being curiously embroidered in the lowest 
parts of the earth? And if this took place without our conscious- 
ness, how can we understand our spiritual birth? Indeed, subjec- 
tively, i.e., depending upon our own experience, we know absolute- 
ly nothing of it ; and all that ever was or can be said about it is 
taken exclusively from Scripture. It has pleased the Lord to lift 
only a comer of the veil covering this mystery — no more than the 
Holy Spirit deemed necessary for the support of our faith, for the 
glory of God and the benefit of others in the hour of their spiritual 

Wherefore in this series of articles we will try only to systema- 
tize and explain what God has revealed for the spiritual direction 
of His children. 

Nothing is further from our minds than to exercise ourselves in 
things too high for us, or to penetrate into mysteries hid from our 
view. Where Scripture stops we shall stop; to the difficulties left 
unexplained, we shall not add what must be only the result of hu- 


man folly. But where Scripture proclaims unmistakably Jehovah's 
sovereign power in the work of grace, there neither the criticism 
nor the mockery of men will prevent us from demanding absolute 
submission to the divine sovereignty and giving glory to His Name. 


The Work of Grace a Unit. 

" Because the love of God is shed 
abroad in our hearts by the 
Holy Ghost, which is gfiven 
unto us." — Rom. v. 5. 

The final end of all God's ways is that He may be all in all. He 
can not cease from working until He has entered the souls of indi- 
vidual men. He thirsts after the creature's love. In man's love 
for God He desires to see the virtues of His own love glorified. 
And love must spring from man's personal being, which has its seat 
in the heart. 

The work of grace exhibited in the eternal counsel can never be 
sufficiently praised. From Paradise to Patmos, revealed to prophets 
and apostles, it is transcendently rich and glorious. Prepared in 
Immanuel, who ascended on high, who has received gifts for men, 
yea. for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among 
them, it exceeds the praise of men and angels. And yet its highest 
glory and majesty appear only when, overcoming the rebellious, 
operating in the soul, it causes its light so to shine that men, .see- 
ing it, glorify the Father which is in heaven. 

Hence the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the crowning event 
of all the great events of salvation, because it reveals subjectively, 
i.e., in individual persons, the grace revealed hitherto objectively. 

Assuredly in the days of the Old Covenant saving grace wrought 
in individuals, but it always bore a preliminary and special charac- 
ter. Old-Covenant believers " received not the promise, that they 
without us should not be made perfect." And the dispensation of 
personal salvation, in its normal character, began only when, the 
work of reconciliation being finished, Immanuel risen, the other 
Comforter had come inwardly to enrich the members of the Body 
of Christ. 

Hence the purpose of the Triune God steadily urges to this 


glorious consummation. The divine compassion can not cease 
from working so long as the work of saving the individual soul is 
not begun. In all the preparatory work God aims persistently at 
His elect; not only after the fall, but even before creation, His wis- 
dom rejoiced in His earthly world, and " His delights were with the 
sons of men." From eternity He foreknows all in whom His glo- 
rious light shall once be kindled. They are no strangers to Him, 
discovered only after the lapse of ages, upon examination either to 
be passed by as unprofitable, or to be wrought upon as proper and 
useful subjects, according to their respective merits; no, our faith- 
ful Covenant God never stands as a stranger before any of His crea- 
tures. He created them all and ordained how they should be cre- 
ated ; they are not first created, then ordained ; but ordained, then 
created. Even then the creature is not independent of the Lord, 
but before there is a word upon his tongue He knoweth it alto- 
gether; not by information of what already existed, but by divine 
knowledge of what was to come. Even the relations of cause and 
effect connecting the various parts of his life lie naked and open 
before Him; nothing is hid from Him; and much more intimately 
than man knows himself, God knows him. 

The waters of salvation descending from the mountain-tops of 
God's holiness do not flow toward unknown fields, but their channel 
is prepared, and leaping over the mountain-sides they greet the 
acres below which they are to water. 

Hence, altho clearness demands divisions and subdivisions in the 
work of grace, yet they do not actually exist ; the work of grace is 
a unit, it is one eternal, uninterrupted act, proceeding from the 
womb of eternity, unceasingly moving toward the consummation of 
the glory of the children of God which shall be revealed in the great 
and notable Day of the Lord. For instance, altho in the moment 
of regeneration God calleth the things that are not, with all that 
they contain as in a germ, yet it should not be represented as tho 
He had neglected that soul for twenty or thirty years. For even 
this apparent neglect is a divine work. Constrained by His love 
He would rather have turned to His chosen but lost creature imme- 
diately, to seek and save it. But He refrained Himself, if we may 
so express it; for this very neglect, this hiding of His countenance 
works together as a means of grace, in the hour of love, to make 
grace efficient in that soul. 

Hence the salvation of a soul in its personal being is an eternal. 


tinintentipted, continuous act, whose starting-point lies in the de- 
cree whose end is in the glorification before the throne. It con- 
tains nothing formal or mechanical. There is not a period of 
eighteen centuries first, during which God is occupied with the prep- 
aration of objective grace, without a single gracious work in indi- 
vidual souls. Neither is there salvation prepared only for possible 
souls whose salvation was still uncertain. Nay, the love of God 
never works toward the unknown. He is perfect, and His way is 
perfect ; hence His love always bears the high and holy mark of 
proceeding from heart to heart, from person to person, knowing 
and reading one with perfect knowledge. During all the day 
while Cain was being judged ; while Noah and his eight were safe 
in the ark ; while Abraham was called, and Moses talked with Jeho- 
vah face to face ; while the seers were prophesying, the Baptist ap- 
peared in public, Jesus ascended Calvary, and St. John was seeing 
visions — throughout all those ages God foreknew us (if we are 
His own), the pressure of His love went out steadily toward us. He 
called us before we were, in order that we might come into being; 
and when we had come into being. He led us all our days. Even 
when we rebelled against Him and He turned His face from us, 
even then He led us as our true and faithful Shepherd. Surely all 
things tnust work together for good to them that love God, even the 
lives and characters of their ancestors— yi?r they are the called 
according to His purpose. 

Instead of being cold and formal, it is rather one act of love, 
energizing, pouring forth, shedding itself abroad. From its foun- 
tain-head on the highest mountains, traversing many highlands be- 
fore it can reach you, divine love flows on, ever restless, until it 
pours itself forth into yottr soul. Hence the apostle boasts that at 
last love had attained this blessed end in his person and in Rome's 
beloved church. " Now we have peace with God, because the love 
of God (moving toward us from eternity) at last has reached us, and 
is now shed abroad in our heart." 

And this does not mean that now we possess a pure love of our 
own, but that the love of God for His elect, having descended 
from on high and overcome every obstacle, has poured itself into 
the deep bed of our regenerated hearts. And to this He adds the 
grace of making the soul understand, drink, and taste of that love. 
And when in contrition and shamefacedness the soul loses itself in 
love's delights and in the adorations of its eternal compassion, then 


His glory shines with greater brightness, and His rejoicings with 
the children of men are complete. 

However, while the Triune God anticipates from before the 
foundation of the world the ingathering and glorification of the 
saints, Scripture clearly reveals that this ingathering and glorifica- 
tion is the adorable work of the Holy Spirit. God's love is shed 
abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us. 

The Scripture gives this work of the Spirit a prominent place ; 
not to the exclusion of the Father and the Son, yet so that this 
personal work is always effected by the Holy Spirit. And the 
Scripture puts this so strongly that the Catechism speaks, not in- 
correctly, of three things in our most holy faith : of God the Father 
and our Creation, of God the Son and our Redemption, and then 
only of God the Holy Ghost and our Sanctification. And this is not 
surprising. For — 

First, as we have seen already, in the economy of the Triune 
God it is the Holy Spirit who comes in closest contact with the 
creature and fills him. Hence it is His peculiar work to enter 
man's heart, and in its recesses to proclaim God's grace until he 

Second, He brings every work of the Triune God to its consum- 
mation. Hence He perfects the work of objective grace by the 
saving of souls, thus realizing its final purpose. 

Third, He quickens life. He hovers over the waters of chaos, 
and breathes into man the breath of life. In perfect harmony with 
this, the sinner dead in trespasses and sin can not live except he 
be quickened by the Spirit of all quickening, whom the Church has 
always invoked, saying: " Veni, Creator Spiritus." 

Fourth, He takes the things of Christ and glorifies Him. The 
Son does not distribute His treasures, but the Holy Spirit. And 
since the entire salvation of the redeemed consists in the fact that 
their dead and withered hearts are joined to Christ, the Source of 
salvation, we must praise the Holy Spirit for doing it. 

Hence in the constraining desire of divine love for the individual 
salvation of chosen but lost creatures, the work of the Holy Spirit 
evidently occupies the most conspicuous place. Our knowledge of 
God is not complete except we know Him as the Blessed Trinity, 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But as "no man cometh to the 
Father but by Me." and "no man knoweth the Father save the 


Son, and he to whomsover the Son will reveal Him," so no man 
can come to the Son but by the Holy Spirit, and no man can know 
the Son if the Holy Spirit does not reveal Him unto him. 

But this does not imply any separation, even in thought, between 
the Persons of the Godhead. This would destroy the confession of 
the Trinity, substituting for it the false confession of tri-theism. 
Nay, it is eternally the same God subsisting in three Persons. The 
truth of our confession shines in the very acknowledgment of the 
unity in the Trinity. The Father is never without the Son, nor 
the Son without the Father. And the Holy Spirit can never come 
to us nor work in us except the Father and the Son cooperate with 


Analysis Necessary. 

" Let us go on unto perfection; not 
laying again the foundation."— 
Heb. vi. I, 

To systematize the work of the Holy Spirit in individuals, we 
must first consider their spiritual condition before conversion. 

Misunderstanding concerning this leads to error and confusion. 
It causes the various operations of the Holy Spirit to be confounded, 
so that the same terms are used to designate different things. And 
this confuses one's own thought, and leads others astray. This is 
most seriously apparent in ministers who discuss this subject in 
general terms, artlessly avoid definiteness, and consequently reiter- 
ate the same platitudes. 

Such preaching makes little or no impression; its monotone is 
wearisome ; it accustoms the ear to repetitions ; it lacks stimulus 
for the inward ear. And the mind, which can not remain inactive 
with impunity, seeks relief in its own way, often in unbelief, apart 
from the work of the Holy Spirit. The words " heart," " mind," 
"soul," "conscience." "inward man" are used indiscriminately. 
There are frequent calls for conversion, regeneration, renewing of 
life, justification, sanctification, and redemption ; while the ear has 
not been accustomed to understand in each of these a special thing 
and a peculiar revelation of the work of the Holy Spirit. And in 
the end this chaotic preaching makes it impossible to discuss divine 
things intelligently, since one initiated and more thoroughly in- 
structed can not be understood. 

We solemnly protest especially against the pious appearance 
that conceals the inward hollowness of this preaching by saying : 
" My simple Gospel has no room for these hair-splitting distinctions ; 
they savor of the dry scholasticism with which quibbling minds 
terrify God's dear children, and bring them under the bondage of 
the letter. Nay, the Gospel of my Lord must remain to me full of 
life and spirit; therefore spare me these subtleties." 


And no doubt there is some truth in this. By a dry analysis of 
soul-refreshing truth, abstract minds often rob simple souls of much 
comfort and joy. They discuss spiritual things in the mongrel 
terms of Anglicized Latin, as tho souls could have no part with 
Christ unless they be experts in the use of these bastard words. 
Such terrifying of the weak betrays pride and self-exaltation. And 
a very foolish pride it is, for the boasted knowledge is readily ac- 
quired by mere effort of the memory. Such externalizing of the 
Christian faith is offensive. It substitutes glibness of tongue for 
genuine piety, and mental justification for that of faith. Thus piety 
of the heart moves to the head, and instead of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, Aristotle, the master teacher of dialectics, becomes the 
savior of souls. 

To plead for such a caricature is far from our purpose. "We be- 
lieve that our salvation depends solely upon God's work in us, and 
not upon our testimony ; and the little child with stammering lips, 
but wrought upon by the Holy Spirit, will precede these vain scribes 
into the Kingdom of Heaven. Let no one dare impose the yoke of his 
own thoughts upon others. Christ's yoke alone fits the souls of men. 

And yet the Gospel does not condone shallowness, neither does 
it approve mere twaddle. 

Of course there is a difference. We do not require our children 
to know the names of all the nerves and muscles of the human 
body, of the diseases to which it is subject, and of the contents 
of the pharmacopoeia. It would be a burden to the little fellows, 
who are happiest so long as they are unconscious of the curious 
organism they carry with them. But the physician who is not quite 
certain as to the locality of these vital organs ; who, careless of de- 
tails, is satisfied with the generalities of his profession ; who, unable 
to diagnose the case correctly, fails to administer the proper reme- 
dies, is promptly dismissed and a more discriminating one is called 
in. And to some extent the same is required of all intelligent peo- 
ple. Well-informed men should not be ignorant of the vital organs 
of the human body and their principal functions; mothers and 
nurses should be still better informed. 

The same applies to the life of the Church. The least gifted 
among the brethren can not understand the distinctions of the spir- 
itual life ; unable to bear strong meat, they should be fed with milk 
alone. Neither should young children be wearied and blunted 


with phrases far above their comprehension. Both should be taught 
according to " the tenor of their way" A child talking on religious 
matters in discriminating terms unpleasantly affects the spiritual 
feeling. But not so the s'^WW.vlsX physician, i.e., the tninister of the 
Word. If the unskilled veterinarian be dismissed, how much more 
they who, pretending to treat and cure souls, betray their own igno- 
rance of the conditions and activities of the spiritual life. Where- 
fore we insist that every minister of the Word be a specialist in this 
spiritual anatomy and physiology ; familiar with the various forms 
of spiritual disease, and always able out of Christ's fulness to select 
the spiritual remedies required. 

And the same knowledge we claim, if not in the same degree, 
of every intelligent man or woman. The physician or lawyer who 
smiles at our ignorance of the first principles of his profession ought 
to be equally ashamed when betraying his own lamentable igno- 
rance of the condition of his soul. In the spiritual life each talent 
should bear interest. Every man ought to be symmetrically devel- 
oped. According to his range of vision, strength of powers, and 
depth of penetration, he should be able to distinguish spiritual 
things and his own soul's need. And that this knowledge is largely 
found only among our plain. God-fearing people, and not among the 
higher classes, is a serious and deplorable sign of the times. 

The knowledge which is power in the spiritual sphere, and able 
to heal, does not come in foreign terms, does not exhaust itself in 
the various criticism of Scripture, fond only of philosophic reason- 
ings, starving souls by giving them stones for bread ; but it searches 
the Word and work of God in the souls of men systematically, and 
proves that a man has studied the things in which he is to minister 
to the Church. 

Our spiritual leaders, therefore, who at the university and in the 
catechetical class have replaced this spiritual knowledge by various 
criticism and apologetics, have much to answer for. For the last 
thirty years this knowledge has been neglected in both these insti- 
tutions. And so knowledge was lost, the preaching became monot- 
onous, and a great part of the Church perished. There was still eye 
and ear for the objective work of the Son, but the work of the Holy 
Spirit is slighted and neglected. Consequently spiritual life has 
sunk to such a degree that, while scarcely one third of the fulness 
of g^ace which is in Christ Jesus is being known and honored, men 
dare to assert that they preach Christ and Him crucified. 


Hence the discussion of the Holy Spirit's work in individuals 
demands that, while risking the danger of being called " scholastic 
drivers," we leave the paths of shallowness and generalities and 
proceed to careful analysis. The Holy Spirit's operations upon the 
various parts of our being in their several conditions must be distin- 
guished and treated separately ; not only in the elect, but also in the 
non-elect, for they are not the same. It is true the Scripture 
teaches that God causes His sun to shine upon the good and the 
evil, and His rain to come down upon the just and the unjust, so 
that in nature every good gift coming down from the Father of 
lights is common to all ; but in the kingdom of grace this is not so. 
The Sun of righteousness often shines upon one, leaving another in 
darkness ; and the drops of grace often water one soul, while others 
remain utterly deprived of them. 

Hence, altho the Spirit's work in the elect is of primary impor- 
tance, yet it does not exhaust His work in individuals. Christ was 
set also for a fall to many in Israel ; and even this is wrought by 
the witness of the Holy Spirit. Not only the savor of life, but the 
savor of death also reaches the soul by Him ; as the apostle declares 
regarding those who, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, 
had fallen away. His activity in them, and their condition when 
He begins His saving or hardening operations, must be carefully 

Of course, this is not the place to discuss the condition of fallen 
man exhaustively. This would require special inquiry. Many 
things which perhaps elsewhere will be explained more in detail 
can here receive but passing notice. But it will serve our purpose 
if we succeed in giving the reader such a clear view of the sinner's 
condition that he can understand us when we discuss the Holy 
Spirit's work upon the sinner. 

By a sinner we understand man as he is, lives, and moves by 
nature, i.e., without grace. And in that state he is dead in tres- 
passes and sin ; alienated from the life of God ; wholly depraved 
and without strength; a sinner, and therefore guilty and con- 
demned. And not only dead, but lying in the midst of death, ever 
sinking more deeply into death, which if not checked in its course 
opens underneath ever more widely, until eternal death stands re- 

This is the fundamental thought, the mother-idea, the principal 
conception, of his state. " By one man sin entered into the world, 



and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men." And "the 
wages of sin is death." " Sin being finished bringeth forth death." 
To be translated into another state, one must pass from death into 

But this general idea of death must be analyzed in its several re- 
lations, and to this end it must be determined what man was before, 
and what he has become after, this spiritual death. 

Image and Likeness. 

*' Let Us make man in Our image, 
after Our likeness." — Gen. i. 26. 

Glorious is the divine utterance that introduces the origin and 
creation of man : " And God created man after His own image and 
after His own likeness; after the image of God created He him" 
(Dutch translation). 

The significance of these important words was recently discussed 
by the well-known professor, Dr. Edward Bohl, of Vienna. Accord- 
ing to him it should read: Man is created " in" not " ajter" God's 
image, i.e., the image is not found in man's nature or being, but out- 
side of him in God. Man was merely set in the radiance of that 
image. Hence, remaining in its light, he would live in that image. 
But stepping out of it, he would fall and retain but his own nature, 
which before and after the fall is the same.* 

In the discussion of the corruption of the human nature we will 
consider this opinion of the highly esteemed professor of Vienna. 
Let us state here simply that we reject this opinion, in which we 
see a return to Rome's errors. Dr. Bohl's negative character of 
sin, which is the basis of this representation, we can not entertain. 
Moreover, it opposes the doctrine of the Incarnation, and of Sancti- 
fication as held by the Reformed Church. Hence we believe it to 
be safest, first to explain the confession of the fathers concerning 
this, and then to show that this representation is inconsistent with 
the Word. 

♦In the Dutch the preposition "in " has not the meaning of "conform- 
ably to," as in the English, but denotes rest or motion within limits, 
whether of place, time, or circumstances. With nouns or adjectives the 
word governed by " in " indicates the sphere, the domain where a property 
manifests itself. Hence the Dutch expression, "Geschapen in het beeld 
God's" (created in the divine image), indicates the sphere in which Adam 
moved before he fell. — Trans. 


Accepting the account of Creation as the Holy Spirit's direct 
revelation, we acknowledge its absolute credibility in every part. 
They who do not so accept it, or who, like many Ethical theolo- 
gians, deny the literal interpretation, can have no voice in the dis- 
cussion. If in the exposition of the account we are in earnest, and 
do not trifle with words, we must be thoroughly convinced that God 
actually said : " Let Us make men after Our image and after Our like- 
ness." But denying this and holding that these words merely rep- 
resent the form in which somebody, animated by the Holy Spirit, 
presented man's creation to himself, we can deduce nothing from 
them. Then we have no security that they are divine ; we know 
only that a pious man attributed these thoughts to God and laid them 
upon His lips while they were but his own account of man's creation. 

Hence the infallibility of Sacred Scripture is our starting-point. 
We see in Gen. i. 27 a direct testimony of the Holy Spirit ; and with 
fullest assurance we believe that these are the words of the Almighty 
spoken before He created man. With this conviction, they have 
decisive authority ; and bowing before it, we confess that man was 
created after God's likeness and after His image. 

This statement, in connection with the whole account, shows 
that the Holy Spirit sharply distinguishes man's creation and that 
of all other creatures. They were all manifestations of God's 
glory, for He saw that they were good ; an effect of His counsel, 
for they embodied a divine thought. But man's creation was spe- 
cial, more exalted, more glorious; for God said: " Let Us make men 
after Our image and after Our likeness." 

Hence the general sense of these words is that man is totally 
different from all other beings; that his kind is nobler, richer, more 
glorious ; and especially that this higher glory consists in the more 
intimate bond and closer relation to his Creator. 

This appears from the words image and likeness. In all His other 
creative acts the Lord speaks, and it is done ; He commanded, and it 
stood fast. There is a thought in His counsel, a will to execute it, 
and an omnipotent act to realize it, but no more ; beings are created 
wholly outside and apart from Him. But man's creation is totally 
different. Of course, there is a divine thought proceeding from 
the eternal counsel, and by omnipotent power this thought is real- 
ized ; but that new creature is connected with the image of God. 

According to the universal sig^nificance of the word, a per- 
son's image is such a concentration of his essential features as to 


make it the very impress of his being. Whether it be in pencil, 
painting, or by photography, a symbol, an idea, or statue, it is 
always the concentration of the essential features of man or thing. 
An idea is an image which concentrates those features upon the field 
of the mind i a statue in marble or bronze, etc., but regardless of 
form or manner of expression, the essential image is such a concen- 
tration of the several features of the object that it represents the 
object to the mind. This fixed and definite significance of an image 
must not be lost sight of. The image may be imperfect, yet as long 
as the object is recognized in it, even tho the memory must supply 
the possible lack, it remains an image. 

And this leads to an important observation : The fact that we 
can recognize a person from a fragmentary picture proves the exist- 
ence of a soul-picture of that person, i.e., an image photographed 
through the eye upon the soul. This image, occupying the imag- 
ination, enables us mentally to see him even in his absence and 
without his picture. 

How is such image obtained? We do not make it, but the person 
himself, who while we look at him draws it upon the retina, thus 
putting it into our soul. In photography it is not the artist, nor his 
apparatus, but the features of our own countenance which as by 
witchery draw our image upon the negative plate. In the same 
manner the person receiving our image is passive, while we put- 
ting it into his soul are active. Hence in deepest sense each of us 
carries his own image in or upon his face, and puts it into the human 
soul or upon the artist's plate. This image consists of features 
which, concentrated, form that peculiar expression which, shows 
one's individuality. A man forms his own shadow upon a wall 
after his own image and likeness. As often as we cause the impress 
of our being to appear externally, we make it after our own image 
and likeness. 

Returning, after these preliminary remarks, to Gen. i. 27, we no- 
tice the difference between (i) the divine image after which we are 
created, and (2) the image which consequently became visible in 
us. The image after which God made man is one, and X\isX fixed in 
us quite another. The first is God's image after which we are cre- 
ated, the other the image created in us. Ta prevent confusion, the 
two must be kept distinct. The former existed before the latter, 
else how could God have created man after it? 

It is not strange that many have thought that this image and 


likeness referred to Christ, who is said to be " the Image of the 
invisible God," and " the express Image of His Substance." Not a 
few have accepted this as settled. Yet, with our best ministers and 
teachers, we believe this incorrect. It conflicts with the words, 
" Let Us make men after Our image and after Our likeness," which 
must mean that the Father thus addressed the Son and the Holy- 
Spirit. Some say that these words are addressed to the angels, but 
this can not be so, since man is not created after the image of an- 
gels. Others maintain that God addressed Himself, arousing Him- 
self to execute His design, using " We_" as a plural of majesty. But 
this does not agree with the immediately following singular: " And 
God created man after His image." Hence we maintain the tried 
explanation of the Church's wisest and godliest ministers, that by 
these words the Father addressed the Son and the Holy Spirit. And 
then the unity of the Three Persons expresses itself in the words: 
" And God created man after ZT/V image." Hence this image can 
not be the Son. How could the Father say to the Son and to the 
Holy Spirit: " Let Us make men after the image of the Son" ? 

That image must be, therefore, a concentration of the features of 
God's Being, by which He expresses Himself. And since God 
alone can represent His own Being to Himself, it follows that by 
the image of God we must understand the representation of His 
Being as it eternally exists in the divine consciousness. 

" Image " and " likeness " we take to be synonyms ; not because a 
difference could not be invented, but because in ver. 27 the word 
" likeness" \s not even mentioned. Hence we oppose the explana- 
tion that image refers to the soul, and likeness to the body. Allow- 
ing that by the indissoluble union of body and soul the features of 
the divine image must have an after-effect in the latter, which is 
His temple, yet there is no reason nor suggestion why we should 
support such a precarious distinction between image and likeness. 
Hence the image after which we are created is the expression of 
God's Being as it exists in His own consciousness. 

The next question is: What was or is there in man that caused 
him to be created after that image? 

Original Righteousness. 

*' For in Him we live and move, and 
have our being: as certain also 
of your own poets have said, 
For we are also His offspring." 
— Acts xvii. 28. 

It is the peculiar characteristic of the Reformed Confession that 
more than any other it humbles the sinner and exalts the sinless 

To disparage man is unscriptural. Being a sinner, fallen and no 
longer a real man, he must be humbled, rebuked, and inwardly 
broken. But the divinely created man, realizing the divine purpose 
or restored by omnipotent grace in the elect, is worthy of all praise, 
for God has made him after His own image. 

Because he stood so high, he fell so low. He was such an excel- 
lent being, hence he became such a detestable sinner. The excel- 
lency of the former is the source of the damnableness of the latter. 

It is said that while the present age properly appreciates and 
exalts man, our doctrine only disparages him ; but with all its eulogy 
and praise this present age has never conceived a more exalted tes- 
timony than that of Scripture, saying : " God created man in His 
own image." We protest against the cry of the age, not because it 
makes of man too much, but too little, asserting that he is glorious 
even now in h.\s /alien state. 

What would you think of the man who, walking through your 
flower-garden, laid waste by a violent thunder-storm, called the stem- 
broken and mud-covered flowers, lying upon their disordered beds, 
magnificent? And this the present age is doing. Walking through 
the garden of this world, withered and disordered by sin's thunder- 
storms, it cries in proud ecstasy : " What glorious beings these men ! 
How fair and excellent ! " And as the botanist would say regard- 
ing his disordered garden : " Do you call this beautiful? You should 


have seen it before the storm destroyed it " ; so say we to this age : 
" Do you call this fallen man glorious? Compared to what he ought 
to be he is utterly worthless. But he was glorious before sin ruined 
him, shining in all the beauty of the divine image." 

Hence our doctrine exalts him to highest glory. Next to the 
glory of being created after the image of God comes the glory of ifeing 
God Himself. As soon as man presumes to this he thrusts at once 
all his glory from him ; it is his detestable sin that he aspires to be 
like God. If it be said that even in Paradise the law prevailed that 
God alone is great, and the creature nothing before Him ; we an- 
swer, that he that is created after the divine image has no higher 
ambition than to be a reflection of God ; excluding the idea of being 
above or against God. Hence it is certain that the original man 
was most glorious and excellent; wherefore fallen man is most 
despicable and miserable. 

Has fallen man then lost the image of God? 

This vital question controls our view of man in every respect, 
and hence requires closest examination ; especially since the opin- 
ions of believers concerning this are diametrically opposed. Some 
maintain that after the fall man retained a few remains of it, and 
others that he has entirely lost it. 

To avoid all misunderstanding, we must first decide whether to 
be created after the image of God (i) refers only to the original 
righteousness, or (2) included also man's nature which was clothed 
with this original righteousness. If the divine image consisted only 
in the original righteousness, then, of course, it was completely and 
absolutely lost ; for by his fall man lost this original righteousness 
once for all. But if it was also impressed upon his being, his nature, 
and upon his human existence, then it can not disappear entirely ; for, 
however deeply sunk, fallen man remains man. 

By this we do not imply that something spiritually good was left 
in man ; among the finally lost even the deepest fallen will retain 
some evidence that he was created after the divine image. We do 
not even hesitate to subscribe to the opinion of the fathers that if 
the angels, Satan included, were originally created after God's im- 
age (which Scripture does not teach positively), then even the devil 
in his deep fiendishness must show some features of that image. 

"We do not mean that after the fall man had any willingness, 
knowledge, or anything good ; and they who in pulpit or writing in- 
fer this from " the few remains " of article xiv. of the Confession 



of Faith pervert its plain teaching. Altho it acknowledges that a 
few remains are retained, yet it follows that " all the light which is 
in us is changed into darkness "; and it says before that " man is 
become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways," and " that he 
has corrupted his whole nuiure." Hence these " few remains" may 
never be understood to imply that there remained in man any 
strength, willingness, or desire for good. No, a sinner in his fallen 
nature is altogether condemnable. And there is, as the same arti- 
cle confesses, " no will nor understanding conformable to the divine 
will and understanding, but what Christ has wrought in man, which 
He teacheth us when He said, " Without Me ye can do nothing." 

And thus we disarm any suspicion that we look for something 
good in the sinner. 

With Scripture we confess : " There is none righteous, no not one. 
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofit- 
able; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." 

But how is this to be reconciled? How can these two go to- 
gether? On the one hand the sinner has nothing, absolutely noth- 
ing good or praiseworthy; and on the other, this same sinner 
always retains features of the image of God ! 

Let us illustrate. Two horses become mad; the one is a com- 
mon truck horse, the other a noble Arabian stallion. Which is the 
more dangerous? The latter, of course. His noble blood will break 
loose into more uncontrollable rage and violence. Or, two clerks 
work in an office ; the one a mere drudge of slow understanding, 
the other a youth with brains and piercing eye. Which could do 
his master the greater injury? The latter, of course, and all his 
schemes would show his superiority working in the wrong direc- 
tion. This is always the case. There is no more dangerous ene- 
my of the truth than an unbeliever religiously instructed. In all 
his impious rage he shows his superior training and knowledge. 
Satan is so mighty because before his fall he was so exceedingly 
glorious. Hence in his fall man did not put off the original na- 
ture, but he retained it. Only its action was reversed, corrupted, 
and turned against God. 

When the captain of a man-of-war in a naval engagement betrays 
his king and raises the enemy's flag, he does not first damage or 
sink his ship, but he keeps it as efficient for service as possible, and 
with all its armament intact he does the very reverse of what he 


ought to do. " Optimi coruptio pessimal" says the proverb of the 
wise— /.<?., the greater the excellency of a thing, the more danger- 
ous its defection. If the admiral of the fleet were to choose which 
of his ships should betray him, he would say : " Let it be the weak- 
est, for defection of the strongest is the most dangerous." It is true 
in every sphere of life that the excellent qualities of a thing or be- 
ing do not disappear in reversed action, but become most excellently 

In this way we understand man's fall. Before it he possessed 
the most exquisite organism which by holy impulse was directed 
toward the most exalted aim. Tho reversed by the fall, this pre- 
cious human instrument remained, but, directed by unholy impulse, 
it aims at a deeply unholy object. 

Comparing man to a steamship, his fall did not remove the 
engine. But as before the fall he moved in righteousness, so he 
moves now in unrighteousness. In fact, as fast as he steamed then 
toward felicity, so fast he steams now toward perdition, i.e., away 
from God. Hence the retaining of the engine made his fall all the 
more terrible and his destruction more certain. And thus we recon- 
cile the two : that man retained his former features of excellency, 
and that his destruction is sure except he be born again. 

But in the divine image we must carefully distinguish : 

First, the wonderful and artistic organism called human nature. 

Second, the direction in which it moved, i.e., toward the holiest 
end, in that God created man in original righteousness. 

That God created man good and after His own image does not 
mean that Adam was in a state of imwcence, in that he had not sinned ; 
nor that he was perfectly equipped to become holy, gradually to as- 
cend to greater development ; but that he was created in true right- 
eousness and holiness, indicating not the degree of his development, 
but his status. This was his original righteousness. Hence all the 
inclinations and outgoings of his heart were perfect. He lacked 
nothing. Only in one respect his blessedness differed from that of 
God's children, viz., his good was losable and theirs not. 

Of these two parts constituting the divine image — first, the in- 
ward, artistic organism of man's being, and, second, the original 
righteousness in which the organism moved naturally — the latter is 
completely lost, and ih^ former is reversed; but the being of the 
instrument, tho terribly marred, remained the same, to work in the 
wrong direction, i.e., in unrighteousness. Hence the features or 


after-effects of the divine image are not found in the few good 
things that remain in the sinner, " but in all that he does" Man could 
not sin so terribly if God had not created htm after His own image. 

Scripture teaches, therefore, that they are all gone aside, that 
they are altogether become filthy, and that all come short of the 
glory of God ; while it also declares that even this fallen man is 
created after God's image— Gen. ix. 6, and after His likeness — 
James iii. 9. 

Rome. Socinus, Arminius, Calvin. 

*' And that ye put on the new man, which 
after God is created in righteousness 
and true holiness." — Ephes. iv. 24. 

It is not surprising that believers entertain different views con- 
cerning the significance of the image of God. It is a starting-point 
determining the direction of four different roads. The slightest 
deviation at starting must lead to a totally different representation 
of the truth. Hence every thinking believer must deliberately 
choose which road he will follow : 

First, the path of Rome, represented by Bellarminus. 

Second, that of Arminius and Socinus, walking arm-in-arm. 

Third, that of the majority of the Lutherans, led by Melanch- 

Lastly, the direction mapped out by Calvin, i.e., that of the Re- 

Rome teaches that the original righteousness does not belong to 
the divine image, but to the human nature as a superadded grace. 
Quoting Bellarminus, first, man is created consisting of two parts, 
flesh and spirit ; second, the divine image is stamped partly on the 
flesh, but chiefly on the human spirit, the seat of the moral and 
rational consciousness ; third, there is a conflict between flesh and 
spirit, the flesh lusting against the spirit ; fourth, hence man has a 
natural inclination and desire for sin, which as desire alone is no 
sin as long as it is not yielded to ; fifth, in His grace and compas- 
sion God gave man, independently of his nature, the original right- 
eousness for a defense and safety-valve to control the flesh ; sixth, 
by his fall man has willingly thrust this superadded righteousness 
from him: hence as sinner he stands again in his naked nature 
{in puris naturatibus), which, as a matter of course, is inclined to 
sin, inasmuch as his desires are sinful. 

We believe that the Romish theologians will allow that this is 
the current view among them. According to Catechismus Romanus, 


question 38 : " God gave to man from the dust of the earth a body, 
in such a way that he was partaker of immortality not by virtue 
of his nature, but by a superadded grace. As to his soul, God 
formed him in His image and after His likeness, and gave him a 
free will; morem'er [prceterea, besides, hence not belonging to his 
nature]. He so tempered his desires that they continually obey the 
dictates of reason. Besides this He has poured into him the origi- 
nal righteousness, and gave him dominion over all other creatures." 

The view of Socinus, and of Arminius who followed him close- 
ly, is totally different. It is a well-known fact that the Socinians 
denied the Godhead of Christ, who, as they taught, was born a 
mere man. But (and by this they misled the Poles and Hunga- 
rians) they acknowledged that He had become God. Hence after 
His Resurrection He could be worshiped as God. But in what 
sense? That the divine nature was g^ven Him? Not at all. In 
Scripture, magistrates, being clothed with the divine majesty which 
enabled them to exercise authority, are called "gods." This applies 
to Jesus, who, after His Resurrection, received of the Father power 
over all creatures in an eminent degree. Hence He is absolutely 
clothed with divine majesty. If a sinner, as a magistrate, is called 
god, how much more can we conceive of Christ as being called 
God, simply to express that He was clothed with divine authority? 

In order to support this false view of Christ's Godhead, the 
Socinians falsified the doctrine of the image of God, and made it 
equivalent to man's dominion over the animals. This was in their 
opinion also a kind of higher majesty, containing something divine, 
which was the image of God. Hence the first Adam, being clothed 
with majesty and dominion over a portion of creation, was there- 
fore of God's offspring and created in His image. And the second 
Adam, Christ, also clothed with majesty and dominion over crea- 
tion, the Scripture therefore calls God. 

That the Remonstrants also adopted this doubly false represen- 
tation appears conclusively from what the moderate professor 
A Limborch wrote in the beginning of the eighteenth century : " This 
image consisted in the power and exalted position which God gave 
to man above all creation. By this dominion he shows most clearly 
the image of God in the earth." He adds: " That in order to exer- 
cise this power, he was endowed with glorious talents. But these 
are only means. Dominion over the animals is the principal thing." 
Hence we infer that the bravest and coarsest tamer of animals. 


playing with lions and tigers as if pet dogs, is the tenderest child 
of God. We say this in all seriousness and without a thought of 
mockery, to show the foolishness of the Socinian system. 

The Lutheran view, as will be seen, occupies the middle ground 
between the Roman Catholic and the Reformed. 

Its most prominent part (readily recognized in the representa- 
tion of Dr. Bohl) is that the divine image is merely the original 
righteousness. They do not deny that man, as man, in his nature 
and being shows something beautiful and excellent, reminding one 
of the image of God; but the real image itself is not in man's na- 
ture, nor in his spiritual being, but only in the original wisdom and 
righteousness in which God created him. Gerhardt writes : " The 
real similarity with God lay in the soul of man, partly in his intelli- 
gence, partly in his moral and rational inclinations, which three 
excellencies together constitute his original righteousness." And 
Bauer : " Properly speaking, this image of God consists of some 
perfections of will, intellect, and feeling which God created to- 
gether with man {concreatas), which is the original righteousness." 
Hence the Lutheran doctrine teaches that the proper image of 
God is now totally lost, and that the sinner is as helpless before the 
work of grace as a stock or block, as one fettered and unable even 
to rattle his chain. 

The Reformed, on the contrary, have always denied this, and 
taught that the image of God, being one with His likeness, did not 
consist only in the original righteousness, but included also man's 
being and personality ; not only his state, but also his being. Hence 
the original righteousness was not something additional, but his 
being, nature, and state were originally in the most beautiful har- 
mony and causal relation. Ursinus says : " The image of God has 
reference : (i) to the immaterial substance of the soul with its gifts 
of knowledge and will; (2) to all in-created knowledge of God and 
of His will ; (3) to the holy and righteous inclination of the will, 
and moving of the heart, i.e., the perfect righteousness; (4) to the 
bliss, holy peace, and abundance of all enjoyment; and (5) to the 
dominion over the creatures. In all these our moral nature reflects 
the image of God, tho imperfectly. St. Paul explains the image of 
God from the true righteousness and holiness, without excluding, 
however, the wisdom and in-created knowledge of God. He rather 
presupposes them." 

These four views concerning the divine image present four 


opposing opinions that are clearly drawn and sharply outlined. 
The Socinian conceives of the image of God as entirely outside 
of man and his moral being, and consisting in the exercise of 
something resembling divine authority. The Roman Catholic does 
indeed look for the divine image in man, but severs him from the 
divine ideal, i.e., the original righteousness which is put upon him 
as a garment. The Lutheran, like the Socinian, puts the divine 
image outside of man, exclusively in the divine ideal, which he con- 
siders not as foreign to man, but calculated for him and originally 
created in his nature (however distinct from it). Lastly, the Re- 
formed confesses that man's whole personality is the impress of 
God's image in his being and attributes ; to which belongs naturally 
that ideal perfection expressed in the confession of original right- 

Undoubtedly the Reformed confession is the purest and most 
excellent expression of the Bible revelation; hence we maintain 
it from deepest conviction. It maintains that God created man in 
His image, and not his nature only, like Rome ; nor his authority 
only, like the Socinians ; nor his righteousness only, like the Lu- 

His divine image does not belong merely to an attribute, state, 
or quality of man, but to the whole man ; for He created tnan in His 
image ; and the confession which subtracts from this detracts from 
the positive Scriptural statement, i.e., from the Spirit's direct testi- 
mony: " Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness," 
and not : " Let Us re-form man in Our image." 

Neither is the divine image only in man's personality, as the 
Vermittelungs (Mediation) theologians, following Fichte, hold. 
Man's personality certainly belongs to it, but it is not all, nor even 
the principal thing. Personality is contrast to our equals, and con- 
trast can not be after the image of God, for God is One. Person- 
ality is a very feeble feature of the divine image. True personality 
is no contrast, but glorious completeness, like that in God. One 
person is something defective; three persons in one being, com- 

Wherefore we protest against these loud and emphatic asser- 
tions that the image is our imperfect personality, as leading the 
Church away from the Scripture. No ; man himself is the image of 
God, his whole being as man — in his spiritual existence, in the be- 
ing and nature of his soul, in the attributes and workings that adorn 


and express his being; not as tho this human being were a locomo- 
tive without steam, posing as a model, but a living and active 
organism exerting influence and power. 

As a being man is not defective, but perfect; not in a state of 
becoming, but of being — /. e. , he was not to become righteous, but was 
righteous. This is his original righteousness. Hence, that God 
created man in His image signifies : 

1. That man's being is infinite form the impress of the infinite 
Being of God. 

2. His attributes are in finite form the impress of God's attri- 

3. His state was the impress of the felicity of God. 

4. The dominion which he exercised was image and impress of 
God's dominion and authority. 

To which may be added that, since man's body is calculated for 
the spirit, it also must contain some shadows of that image. 

This confession the Reformed churches must maintain in the 
pulpit, in the catechetical classes, and above all in the recitation- 
halls of theology. 

The Neo-Kohlbruggians. 

" And Adam lived a hundred and thirty 
years, and begat a son in his own 
likeness, and after his image; and 
called his name Seth." — Gen. v. 3. 

Many are the efforts made to alter the meaning of the word, 
" Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness," by a dif- 
ferent translation ; especially by making it to read " in " instead of 
" a/Ur " our likeness. This new reading is Dr. Bohl's main support. 
With this translation his system stands or falls. 

According to him, man is not the bearer of the divine image, 
but by a divine act he was set in it, as a plant is set in the sun. As 
long as the plant stood in the dark, its shape and flowers are invisi- 
ble ; carried into the light its beauty becomes apparent. In like 
manner, man was without luster until God put him in the shining 
glory of His image, and then he appeared beautiful. Of course, 
this idea requires the translation : " Let Us create man in Our im- 

Let us explain the difference : Gen. i. 26 in the Hebrew has two 
different prepositions. The one standing before "likeness" (2) is 
invariably used in comparisons ; while the other before " image " is 
mostly used to denote that one thing is found in another. Hence 
the translation, " in our image and after our likeness," has appar- 
ently much in its favor. This translation (altho we believe it to 
be incorrect ; for our reasons see the next article) does not alter 
the meaning, if rightly interpreted. 

And what is that right interpretation.? Not that of Dr. Bohl; 
for, according to him, the newly created man did not stand in the 
m.idst of that image, but only in its reflection and radiation. The 
plant is not set in the sun, but in the sun-rays. No ; if Adam stood 
in the midst of God's image, then he was wholly encompassed by it. 
Let us illustrate. There are wooden images covered with paper 
on which is printed a head or bust, colored to imitate marble or 


bronze. The wood may be said to be in the image, covered by it 
from all sides. Again, the sculptor actually chisels the image, in 
his mind, or posing as a model, about tJu mard/e until it encloses the 
whole block. In like manner it may be said that Adam, upon his 
first awakening to consciousness, was enclosed by God's image ; not 
externally, and he only its reflection, but its ectype penetrating his 
whole being. 

The correctness of this exegesis appears from Gen. v. 1-3, the 
contents of which, tho often overlooked, settle this matter. Here 
Scripture brings Adam's creation in direct connection with his own 
begetting a son after his own likeness. We read : " In the day that 
God created man, in the likeness of God made He him ; male and 
female created He them ; and blessed them, and called their name 
Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived a 
hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after 
his image; and called his name Seth." 

In both instances the Hebrew word zelem, image, is used. 
Hence to obtain a clear and correct understanding of the statement, 
" to be created in the image and after the likeness of God," Scripture 
invites us to let the child's resemblance to the father assist us. 
And the father's likeness lies in the child's being, is part of it, and 
does not merely beam from the father upon the child externally. 
Even in his absence or after his death the resemblance of features 

Hence to beget a child in our image and after our likeness 
means to give existence to a being bearing our image and resem- 
blance, altho as a person distinct from us. From which it must fol- 
low that when Scripture says, regarding Adam, that God created 
him in His image and after His likeness, using the same words 
" image" {zelem) and " likeness" (demoetk), it can not mean that the 
divine image shone upon him, so that he stood and walked in its 
light ; but that God so created him that his whole being, person, 
and state reflected the divine image, since he carried it in himself. 

It is remarkable that the prepositions used in Gen. i. 26 appear 
also in this passage, but in a reversed order. Rendering the preposi- 
tion " a" " in," as in Gen. i. 26, it reads: " He begat a son in his like- 
ness and after his image." And this is conclusive. It shows how 
utterly unfair it is to deduce a different meaning from the use of 
different prepositions. Even if we translate " ?" by " /«" — " in the 
image of God " — the sense is the same ; in both, the image is not a 


reflection falling upon man, indicating his state only, but also his 
form, both state and being. 

However, before we proceed, let Dr. Bohl speak for himself. 
For we might possibly have wrongly understood him ; it is therefore 
reasonable that his own words be laid before our readers. 

We take these citations from his work, entitled, " Von der In- 
carnation des Gottlichen Wortes"; a dogmatic, highly important 
book, wherein he deals the Vermittellungs theologians blows that 
have filled our hearts with joy, partly because God is honored 
thereby, and also because of the consolation offered to broken 
hearts. Hence it does not enter our minds to belittle the labor of 
Dr. Bohl. We only contend that his presentation of the image of 
God is not the true one. We point, therefore, to the important and 
exceedingly clear sentences of pages 28 and 29: 

" Gott nun veranstaltete es so, dass der Mensch gleich anfangs unter 
den Einfluss des Guten zu stehen kam und somit das Gute that. Er schuf 
ihn im Bilde Gottes, nach seiner Gleichheit (Gen. i. 26). Was dies 
heisst. wird dann erst recht deutlich, wenn wir die WJederherstel- 
lung des gefallenen Menschen (nach Ephes. iv. 24 ; Col. iii. 9) in Betracht 
Ziehen. Paulus blickt hier auf den anfanglichen Zustand bin, wenn er 
redet von dera neuen Menschen, den wir nach Ausziehung des alten 
anzuziehen batten. Er bezeichnet nun diesen neuen Menschen als einen 
Gott gemass geschafiEen {KTicQkvTo) in Gerechtigkeit und Heiligkeit, wie 
sie nach Wahrheit ist. Diese apostolischen Ausdriicke enthalten eine 
Umschreibung jener Ausstattung, welche Mose rait den Worten : 'Im 
Bilde Gottes, nach seiner Gleichheit ' kennzeichnet. Die Wiedergeburt ist 
eine neue Schopfung, die aber nach der Vorschrift der alten bestellt ist, 
ohne etwas davon- noch dazuzuthun. Der Stand im Bilde Gottes, in dem 
der Mensch nach der Gleichheit Gottes war, ist also etwas, was man von 
dem Menschen hinwegnehmen kann, ohne die Creatur Gottes selbst auf- 
zuheben. Es ist dem Apostel weiter eigenthiimlich, die Bewegungen des 
neuen Menschen unter dera Bilde von verschiedenen Gewandern darzu- 
stellen, die raan anzuziehen habe (Col. iii. \2ff.) . Grund und Veranlassung 
fiir solche Umwandlung ist Christus, der Geist, den Christus vora Vater her 
sendet, oder der Stand in Christo oder in der Gnade (z. B. 2 Cor. v. 17; 
Gal. V. 16, 18, 25 ; Rora. v. 2) . Und ganz ebenso ist nach Gen. i. 26 Grund 
fiir die Gleichheit rait Gott der Stand ira Bilde Gottes."* 

• " God ordered it so that immediately, from the beginning, raan came to 
stand under the influence of that which is good, and consequently did that 
which is good. He created him in the image of God. after His likeness. 


The words in italics dispel, alas! all doubt. It is possible to 
conceive of the image of God as having completely disappeared, 
and yet man remaining man. 

Dr. Bohl repeats this clearly in the following words (p. 29) : 

" Wenn wir nun die Creatur aus jenem Stande hinausgetreten denken, 
so bleibt diese Creatur intact. " * 

This goes so far that Dr. Bohl himself felt how closely he thus 
returned to the boundaries of Rome, for which reason he continues, 
saying : 

"Nur freilich, dass diese Creatur nicht, wie die romische Kirche lehrt, 
immer noch genug iibrig behalt, um sich wieder mit Hilfe des Gnadenge- 
schenkes Christi selbst zu rehabilitiren. Sondern nach dem Falle ist der 
Mensch und zwar sein Ich mit den dem Menschen anerschaflfenen hochsten 
Gaben (siehe Calvin, ' Inst.,' ii., i, g) aus der rechten Stellung herausge- 
reten und dem Tode als Herscher, dem Gesetz als unbarmherziger Treibert 
preisgegeben." f 

The significance of this is made clear when we consider the restoration of 
fallen man (according to Ephes. iv. 24 ; Col. iii. 9) . Paul, speaking of the 
new man that we must put on, after having put off the old man, has refer- 
ence to the original state. And now he describes this new man as one 
that is created after God in righteousness and holiness, as he truly is. 
These apostolic expressions contain a description of the same equipment 
that Moses characterizes with the words : 'In the image of God, after His 
likeness. ' Regeneration is a new creation, which, however, is ordered 
after the model of the old, without taking anything from, or adding any- 
thing to it. Hence man' s standing in the image of God, ivherein he was 
after the likeness of God, is something that can be taken away from man 
without removitig God' s creature itself. Furthermore, the apostle de- 
scribes the movements of the new man under the image of various gar- 
ments which must be put on (Col. iii. \'2,ff.'). The ground and occasion of 
such being clothed upon is Christ, the Spirit whom Christ sends from the 
Father ; or the standing in Christ, or in grace {e.g. 2 Cor. v. 17 ; Gal. v. 16, 
18, 25 ; Rom. v. 2). And in just the same way is the ground for likeness 
with God, the standing in the image of God, according to Gen. i. 26." 

*"If we now think of the creature to have left this standing, yet this 
creature remains intact. " 

f "With this understanding, however, that the creature has not retained 
enough strength, with the help of the gracious gift of Christ, to restore 
himself, as Rome teaches. But after the fall, man's ego, with the highest 
gifts received in his creation, has left his true standing and is delivered to 
Death as bis ruler, and to the Law as his unmerciful driver. " 


But stronger still : Dr. Bohl is so firmly attached to this presen- 
Ution that he says even of Christ, that He. before His Resurrection. 
lacked the divine image. See page 45 : " Our Lord and Savior 
stood outside the image of God." " Ausserhalb des Bildes Gottes 
stand unser Herr." Which is all the more serious since in conse- 
quence of this presentation, the passions and desires toward the sin- 
ful are, considered by themselves, sinless, just as Rome teaches it. 

So we read on page 73 : 

"Dasder Mensch Begierden hat, dass ihn Leidenschaften (-06^) treibcn. 
wie Zom. Furcht. Muth, Eifersucht, Freude, Liebe, Hass, Sehnsucht, 
Mitleid, dies Alles constituirt noch keine Siinde. denn das Vermogen. um 
Zora. Unlust. oier Mitleid und dergl. m. zu empfinden, :st von Gott ge- 
schaffen. Ohne dem ware kem Leben und keine Bewegung im Menschen. 
Also die Begierde und iiberhaupt die Leidenschaften sind an sich nicht 
Siinde. Sie werden es vmd sind es im actuellen Zustand des Menschen, 
weil durch ein dazwischentretendes Gebot und durch jene verkehrte Lebens- 
richtnng, die Paulus einen vo/^< r^f afuif/ruu^ nennt, das menschliche Ich 
bewogen wird, zu den Leidenschaften und Begierden Stellung zu nehtnen. 
d. h. sich richtig oder unrichtig zu ihnen zu verhalten." * 

Let each judge for himself whether we said too much when we 
spoke of the necessity of protesting, in the name of our Reformed 
Confession, against the creeping in of this Platonic presentation, 
which later on was defended partly by the Romish, partly by the 
Lutheran theologians. 

Dr. Bohl is excellent when he shows that the original righteous- 
ness was not simply a germ, which had still to be developed, but 
that Adam's righteousness was complete, lacking nothing. Equally 
excellent is his proof against Rome, showing that man, in his naked 
nature, absolutely lacks the power to holiness. But he errs in rep- 

••'The fact that man has desires, that he is led by passions, such as 
anger, fear, courage, jealousy, joy. love, hate, longing, pity, all this does 
not constitute sin . for the power to experience anger, displeasure, or pity, 
and the like passions, la created of God. Without these there would be 
no life nor stir in man. Hence desires and passions m general are no sin 
in themselves They become and are sin in man's present condition, be- 
cause, by an intervening law, and by that perverted tendency of life which 
Paul calls a law of sin, the human Ego is compelled to determine its rela- 
tion to the passions and desires, i.e., to adopt a good or bad attitude 
toward them . " 


resenting the image of God as something without which man re- 
mains man. This places righteousness and holiness mechanically 
outside of us, while the organic connection between that imag^ and 
our own being, which once existed and ctight to exist, is the very 
thing that must be maintained. 

And yet, let it not be thought that Dr. Bohl has any inclination 
toward Rome. If we see aright, his deviation, psychologically ex- 
plained, springs from an entirely different motive. 

It is a well-known fact that Dr. Kohlbrugge has contended, 
with a glorious ardor of faith, against the reestablishing of the Cov- 
enant of Works in the midst of the Covenant of Grace : and has re- 
introduced us with stress and emphasis to the completely finished 
work of our Savior, to which nothing can be added. Hence this 
preacher of righteousness was compelled to make the child of God 
remember what he teas outside of Christ. Of course, outside of 
Christ, there is no difference between a child of God and a gpodless 
person. Then all lie in one heap; as the ritual of the Lord's Sup- 
per so beautifully confesses : " That we seek our life out of our- 
selves, in Jesus Christ, and thereby acknowledge that we lie in the 
midst of death"; as also the Heidelberg Catechism confesses: 
■ That I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God. 
and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil." 

If we see aright. Dr. Bohl has tried to reduce this part of the 
truth to a dogmatic system. He has reasoned it out as follows : 
" If a child of God has his life outside of himself, then Adam, who 
was a child of God. must also have had his life outside of himself. 
Hence the image of God was not in. but outside of. man." 

And what is the mistake of this reasoning? This, that the 
child of God remains a sinner until his death, and is only fully re- 
stored after his death. Then only complete redemption is his. 
While in Adam, before his fall, there was no sin ; hence Adam 
could never say that in himself he lay in the midst of death. 

With all the earnestness of our hearts we beseech all those who 
with us possess the treasure of Dr. Kohlbrugge's preaching care- 
fully to notice this deviation. If the younger Kohlbruggians 
should be tempted to misunderstand their teacher in this respect, 
the loss would be incalculable, and the breach in the Reformed 
Confession would be lasting; since it touches a point which affects 
the whole confession of the truth. 

After the Scripture. 

" In the day that God created man, 
in the likeness of God created 
He him." — Gen. v. i. 

In the preceding pages we have shown that the translation, " in 
Our image," actually means, " after Our image." To make anything 
in an image is no language; it is unthinkable, logically untrue. 
We now proceed to show how it should be translated, and give our 
reason for it. 

We begin with citing some passages from the Old Testament in 
which occurs the preposition " B " which, in Gen. i. 27, stands be- 
fore image, where it can not be translated " in," but requires a prep- 
osition of comparison such as " like " or " after." 

Isa. xlviii. 10 reads: " Behold I have refined thee, but not with 
silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Here the 
preposition " B " stands before silver, as in Gen. i. 27 before image. 
It is obvious that it can not be translated " in silver," but " as sil- 
ver." Surely the Lord would not cast the Jews in a pot of melted 
silver. The preposition is one of comparison ; as in i Peter i. 17 the 
refining of Israel is compared to that of a noble metal. It may be 
translated ; " I have refined thee, but not according to the nature of 
silver"; or simply: "as silver." 

Psalm cii. reads : " My days are consumed like smoke, and my 
bones are burned as an hearth." In the Hebrew the same preposi- 
tion " B " occurs before smoke, and almost all exegetes translate it, 
" as smoke." 

Again, Psalm xxxv. 2 reads : " Take hold of shield and buckler and 
stand up for mine help." " Stand up in my help" makes no sense. 
The thought allows no other translation than this : " Stand up so 
that Thou be my help;" or, "Stand up as my nelp"; or. as the 
Authorized Version has it: " Stand n^/or my help." 

We find the same result in Lev. xvii. 11:" The life of the flesh 


is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make 
an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an 
atonement for the soul. Here the same preposition " B " occurs. 
In the Hebrew it reads: " Banefesh" (t^fJ?), which was translated 
"for the soul." It would be absurd to render it: " in the soul "; for 
the blood does not come in the soul, nor does the atonement take 
place in the soul, but on the altar. Here we have also a compari- 
son (substitution). The blood is as the soul, represents the soul in 
the atonement, takes the place of the soul. 

We notice the same in Prov. iii. 26, where the wisdom of Solo- 
mon wrote : " The Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy 
foot from being taken." The same preposition occurs here. The 
Hebrew text reads "Bkisleka" (^v???), literally, "for a loin to 
thee." And because the loins are a man's strength, it is used 
metaphorically to indicate the ground of confidence and hope in 
distress. The sense is therefore perfectly clear. Says Solomon : 
" The Lord shall be to thee as a ground of confidence, thy refuge, 
and thy hope." For if we should read here : " The Lord shall be in 
your hope," it might be inferred that, among other things, the Lord 
was also in the hope of the godly ; which would be unscriptural 
and savor of Pelagianism. In the Scripture, the Lord alone is the 
hope of His people. Hence the preposition does not mean " in," 
but it indicates a comparison. 

To add one more example, Exod. xviii. 4 reads : " The God of my 
father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh." 
Translate this, " The God of my father was in my help," and how 
unscriptural and illogical the thought ! 

From these passages, to which others might be added, it appears: 
(i) That this preposition can not always be translated by " in." 
(2) That its use as a preposition of comparison, in the sense of 
" like," " for," " after," is far from being rare. 

Armed with this information, let us now return to Gen. i. 26; 
and in our opinion, it does not offer us now any difficulty at all. 
As in Isa. xlviii. 10, the preposition and noun are translated " as 
silver"; in Psalm cii. 4, "as smoke"; in Psalm xxxv. 2, "as" or 
"to my help"; in Lev. xvii. 11, "as" or "in the place of my 
soul"; in Prov. iii. 16, "as," or "to my confidence," the German 
Version of the Vienna Hebrew Bible translates, " Let Us make men 
to, or as Our image," i.e., let Us make men, who shall be Our image 
on the earth. Or nore freely : " Let Us make a sort of being who 


will bear Our image on earth, who will be as Our image on earth, or 
be to Us on earth for an image." 

Then it follows, in Gen. i. 27 : " And God created man for His 
image, to be an image of God created He him." 

It is, of course, exactly the same whether I say, " God created 
man after His image," i.e., so that man became bearer of His im- 
age, or " God created man for an image of Himself." In both in- 
stances, and in similar manner, it is expressed that man should ex- 
hibit an image of God. Thus far the image of God was lacking in 
the earth. When God had created man, the lack was supplied : for 
that image was man, upon whose being the Lord God had stamped 
His own image. Hence we see no difference in the two transla- 

Speaking of the image stamped on sealing-wax by a seal, I can 
say, " I have stamped the wax after the image of the seal, "referring 
to the concave image of the seal ; or, " The image is stamped on the 
wax" referring to the convex image on the wax. 

We add three remarks : 

First, the word " man " in Gen. i. 26 does not refer to one per- 
son, but to the whole race. Adam was not merely a person, but 
our progenitor and federal head. The whole race was in his loins. 
Humanity consists at any given moment of the aggregate of those 
who live or will live in this world, whether many or few. Adam 
alone was humanity ; when Eve was given him he and she were hu- 
manity. " Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness," 
is equal to: " Let Us create humanity, which will bear Our image." 
But it refers also to the individual in that he is a member of the 
human family. Hence Adam begat children in his image and after 
his own likeness. Yet there is a difference. Men have different 
gifts, talents, and qualifications ; the complete impress of the divine 
image could appear not in individual endowments, but in the full 
manifestation of the race, if it had remained sinless. 

Hence the Dutch Version uses the plural, altho the Hebrew has 
the singular " man " : not Adam alone, but the genus man, human- 
ity, was created in the divine image. 

Hence when the original man fell, the second Adam came in 
Christ, who, as the second federal Head, contained in Himself the 
whole Church of God. In His meditorial capacity Christ appeared 
as God's image in Adam's place. Wherefore every member of 
the Church must be transformed after His image — i Cor. xv. 49; 


Rom. viii. 29. And the Church, representing regenerated human- 
ity, is the pleroma of the Lord ; for it is called " the fulness of 
Him that filleth all in all." 

Secondly, since man is created to be God's image on earth, he 
must be willing to remain image, and never presume or imagine to 
be original. Original and image are opposites. God is God, and man 
is not God, but only the image of God. Hence it is the essence of 
sin when man refuses to remain image, reflection, shadow, exalting 
himself to be something real in himself. Conversion depends, 
therefore, solely upon his willingness to become image again, i.e., to 
believe. He that becomes an image is nothing in himself, and ex- 
hibits all that he is in absolute dependence upon Him whose image 
he bears; and this is at once man's highest honor and completest 

Lastly, God must have His image in the earth. For this pur- 
pose He created Adam. Having defiled it beyond recognition, man 
denies the existence of the divine image in the earth. And thus 
image- worship originated. Image-worship means that man says: 
" I will undertake to make an image of God." And this diametri- 
cally opposes God's work. It is His holy prerogative to make an 
image of Himself; and the creature should never dare undertake it. 
Hence it is presumption when, aspiring to be God, man refuses to 
remain His image, defiles it in himself, and undertakes to repre- 
sent God in gold or silver. 

Image-worship is an awful sin. God saith : " Thou shalt not 
make unto thee any graven image." This sin is from Satan. He 
always imitates God's work. He will not be less than God. When 
at last the Great Beast appears, the Dragon proclaims : " They that 
dwell in the earth should make an image of the Beast !" God has 
decreed to make His own image to be the object of His eternal 
pleasure. But Satan, opposing this, defiles that image and makes an 
image for himself; not of man, for he is defiled and ruined, but of a 
beast. And thus in his supreme manifestation he judges himself. 
God's Son became a man, Satan's creation is a beast. 

When finally the Beast and its image are overthrown, by One 
who is like a son of man, it is the Lord's triumph over His enemies. 
Then the divine image is restored, nevermore to be defiled. And 
the Almighty God rejoices forever and ever in His own reflection. 

The Image of God in Man. 

•' As we have borne the image of the earthy, 
we shall also bear the image of the 
heavenly." — i Cor. xv. 49. 

One more point remains to be discussed, viz., whether the 
divine image refers to the image of Christ. 

This singular opinion has found many warm defenders in the 
Church from the beginning. It originated with Origen, who with 
his brilliant, fascinating, and seducing heresies has unsettled many 
things in the Church ; and his heresy in this respect has found many 
defenders both East and West. Even Tertullian and Ambrose sup- 
ported it, as well as Basil and Chrysostom ; and it took no less a 
person than Augustine to uproot it. 

Our Reformed theologians, closely following Augustine, have 
strongly opposed it. Junius, Zanchius and Calvin, Voetius and 
Coccejus condemned it as error. We can safely say that in our 
Reformed inheritance this error never had a place. 

But in the last century it has crept again into the Church. The 
pantheistic philosophy occasioned it; and its after-effects have 
tempted our German and Dutch mediation theologians to return to 
this ancient error. 

The great philosophers who enthralled the minds of men at the 
beginning of this century fell in love with the idea that God became 
man. They taught not that the Word became flesh, but God be- 
came man ; and that in the fatal sense that God is ever becoming, 
and that He becomes a better and a purer God as He becomes more 
purely man. This pernicious system, which subverts the founda- 
tions of the Christian faith, and under a Christian form annihilates 
essential Christianity, has led to the doctrine that in Christ Jesus 
this incarnation had become a fact ; and from it was deduced that 
God would have become man even if man had not sinned. 

We have often spoken of the danger of teaching this doctrine. 



The Scripture repudiates it, teaching that Christ is a Redeemer 
from and an atonement for sin. But a mere passing contradiction 
will not stop this evil ; this poisonous thread, running through the 
warp and woof of the Ethical theology, will not be pulled from the 
preaching until the conviction prevails that it is philosophic and 
pantheistic, leading away from the simplicity of Scripture. 

But for the present nothing can be done. Almost all the Ger- 
man manuals now used by oiir rising ministers feed this error; 
hence the widespread prevalence of the idea that the image in 
which man was created was the Christ. 

And this is natural. So long as it is maintained that, even 
without sin, man was destined for Christ and Christ for man, it 
must follow that the original man was calculated for Christ, and 
hence was created after the image of Christ. 

For evidence that this deviates from the truth, we refer theolo- 
gians to the writings of Augustine, Calvin, and Voetius on this 
point, and to our lay-readers we offer a short explanation why we 
and all Reformed churches reject this interpretation. 

We begin with referring to the many passages in Scripture, 
teaching that the redeemed sinner must be renewed and trans- 
formed after the image of Christ. 

In 2 Cor. iii. 18 we read: "We all are changed into the same 
image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord " ; and 
in Rom. viii. 29: "That we are predestinated to be conformed to 
the image of His Son " ; and in i Cor. xv. 49 : " As we have borne the 
image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." 
To this category belong all such passages in which the Holy Spirit 
admonishes us to conform ourselves to the example of Jesus, which 
may not be understood as mere imitation, but which decidedly 
means a transformation into His image. And lastly, here belong 
those passages that teach that we must increase to a perfect man, 
" to the stature of the fulness of Christ " ; and that " we shall be like 
Him, for we shall see Him as He is." 

Hence believers are called to transform themselves after Christ's 
image, which is the final aim of their redemption. But this image 
is not the Eternal Word, the Second Person in the Trinity, but the 
Messiah, the Incarnate Word, i Cor. xv. 44 furnishes the undeniable 
proof. St. Paul declares there that the first man Adam was of the 
earth earthy, i.e., not only after the fall, but by creation. Then he 
says that as believers have borne the image of the earthy, so they 


will also bear the image of the heavenly, i.e., Christ. This shows 
clearly that in his original state man did not possess the image of 
Christ, but that afterward he will possess it. What Adam received 
in creation is clearly distinguished from what a redeemed sinner 
possesses in Christ ; distinguished in this particular, that it was not 
according to his nature to be formed after Christ's image, which 
image he could receive only by grace after the fall. 

This is evident also from what St. Paul teaches in i Cor. xi. 
In the third verse, speaking of the various deg^^ees of ascending 
glory, he says that the man is the head of the woman, and the head 
of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God. And yet, 
having spoken of these four, woman, man, Christ, God, he says 
emphatically, in ver. 7, not as might be expected, " The woman is the 
glory of the man, the man the glory of Christ," but, omitting the link 
Christ, he writes : " For the man is the glory of God, and the woman 
the glory of the man." If this theory under consideration were 
correct, he should have said: " The man is the image of Christ." 

Hence it is plain that according to Scripture the image after 
which we are to be renewed \% not that after which we are created ; 
the two must be distinguished. The latter is that of the Triune 
God whose image penetrated into the being of the race. The 
former is that of the holy and perfect Man Christ Jesus, our federal 
Head, and as such the Example [Dutch, Voorbeeld ; literally, an 
image placed before one. — Trans.], after which every child of God 
is to be renewed, and which at last he shall resemble. 

Hence Scripture offers two different representations : first, the 
Son who is the image of the Father as the Second Person in the 
Trinity ; second, the Mediator our Example [ Voorbeeld, image put 
before one], hence our image after which we are to be renewed; 
and between the two there is almost no connection. The Scripture 
teaching that the Son of God is the express image of His Person and 
the image of the Invisible, refers to the relation between the Father 
and the Son in the hidden mystery of the Divine Being. But 
speaking of our calling to be renewed after the image of Christ, it 
refers to the Incarnate Word, our Savior, tempted like as we are in 
all things, yet without sin. 

Mere similarity of sound should not lead us to make this mis- 
take. Every effort to translate Gen. i. 26, " Let Us make man in 
or after the image of the Son," is confusing. Then " Let Us" must 
refer to the Father speaking to the Holy Spirit ; and this can not 


be. Scripture never places the Father and the Holy Spirit in such 
relation. Moreover, it would put the Son outside the greatest act 
of creation, viz., the creation of man. And Scripture says: " With- 
out Him was not anything made that was made"; and again: 
" Through Him are created all things in heaven and on earth." 

Hence this " Let Us "must be taken either as a plural of maj- 
esty, of which the Hebrew has not a single instance in the first per- 
son; or as spoken by the Triune God, the Three Persons mutually 
addressing each other ; or the Father addressing the two other Per- 
sons. A third is impossible. 

Supposing that the Three Persons address each other ; the image 
can not refer to the Son, because, speaking of His own, He can not 
say, " Our image," without including the other Persons. Or sup- 
pose that the Father speaks to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; 
even then it can not refer to the image of the Son, since He is the 
Father's image and not that of the Holy Spirit. In whatever sense 
it be taken, this view is untenable, outside the analogy of Scrip- 
ture, and inconsistent with the correct interpretation of Gen. i. 26. 

To put it comprehensively : If the divine image refers to the 
Christ, it must be that of the Eternal Son, or of the Mediator, or of 
Christ in the flesh. These three are equally impossible. First, the 
Son is Himself engaged in the creative work. Second, without sin 
there is no need of a Mediator. Third, Scripture teaches that the 
Son became flesh after our image, but never that in the creation we 
became flesh after His image. 

The notion that the divine image refers to Christ's righteousness 
and holiness, implying that Adam was created in extraneous right- 
eousness, confounds the righteousness of Christ which we embrace 
by faith and which did not exist when Adam was created, and the 
original, eternal righteousness of God the Son. It is true that David 
embraced the imputed righteousness, altho it existed not in his day, 
but David was a sinner and Adam before the fall was not. He was 
created without sin ; hence the divine image can not refer to the 
righteousness of Christ, revealed only in relation to sin. 

In our present sad condition, we confess unconditionally thai 
even now we lie in the midst of death, and have our life outside a* 
ourselves in Christ alone. But we add : Blessed be God, it shaV. 
not always be so. With our last breath we die wholly to sin, and in 
the resurrection morning we shall be like Him ; hence in the etprna] 
felicity our life shall be no more without us, but in us. 


Wherefore, to put the separation which was caused only by sin, 
and which in the saint continues only on account of sin, in Adam 
before the fall, is nothing else than to carry something sinful into 
Creation itself, and to annihilate the divine statement that man was 
created good. 

Wherefore we admonish preachers of the truth to return to the 
old, tried paths in this respect, and teach in recitation-hall, pulpit, 
and catechetical class that man was created after the image of the 
Triune God. 


Adam Not Innocent, but Holy. 

" Created in righteousness and true 
holiness." — Ephts. iv. 24. 

It remains, therefore, as of old, that " God created man good and 
after His own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, 
that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, 
and live with Him in eternal happiness, and glorify and praise 
Him." Or, as the Confession of Faith has it : " We believe that God 
created man, out of the dust of the earth, and made him and 
formed him after His own image and likeness, good and righteous 
and wholly capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of 

Every representation which depreciates in the least this orig- 
inal righteousness must be opposed. 

Adam's righteousness lacked nothing. The idea that he was 
holy inasmuch as he had not sinned, and by constant development 
could increase his holiness, so that if he had not fallen he would 
have attained a still holier state, is incorrect, and betrays ignorance 
in this respect. 

The difference between man in his original state and in the 
state of sin is similar to that between a healthy child and a sick 
man. Both must increase in strength. If the child remains what 
he is, he is not healthy. Health includes growth and increase of 
strength and development until maturity be attained. The same 
is true of the sick man ; he can not remain the same. He must re- 
cover or grow worse. If he is to recover, he must gain in strength. 
So far both are the same. 

But here the similarity ceases. Increase the strength of the sick 
at once, and he will be well, and what he should be. But add the 
full strength of the man to the child, and he will be unnatural and 
abnormal. For the present the child needs no more than he has. He 
lacks nothing sX any given moment. To be a normal child in perfect 


health, he must be just what he is. But the sick person needs a 
great deal. In order to be healthy and normal he must not be what 
he is. The child, so far as health and strength are concerned, is 
perfect ; but the sick person is very imperfect as regards health 
and strength. The condition of the child is good ; that of the sick 
man is not good. And the former's healthy growth is something 
entirely different from the latter's improvement in health and 

This shows how wrong it is to apply sanctification to Adam be- 
fore the fall. Sanctification is inconceivable with reference to sin- 
less man; foreign to the conception of a creature whom God calls 

" Excellent," says one; hence Adam was born in childlike inno- 
cence gradually to attain a higher moral development without 
sin ; hence sanctification after all ! 

Certainly not. A believer's sanctification ceases when he dies. 
In death he dies to all sin. Sanctification is merely the process 
which partly or wholly eliminates sin from man. Wholly freed 
from sin he is holy, and it is impossible to make him holier than 
holy. Even for this reason it is absurd to apply sanctification to 
holy Adam. What need of washing that which is clean? Sanctifi- 
cation presupposes unholiness, and Adam was not unholy. Sin 
being absolutely absent, holiness lacks nothing, but is complete. 
Adam possessed the same complete holiness now possessed by the 
child of God in which he stands by faith, and by and by in actual- 
ity when through death he has absolutely died unto sin. 

Yet in heaven God's children will not stand still — their joy and 
glory will ever increase , but not their holiness, which lacks noth- 
ing. And to be more holy than perfectly holy is impossible. 
Their development will consist in drinking ever more copiously 
from the life of God. 

The same is true of sinless Adam ; he cou/d n/^t be sanctified. 
Sanctification is healing, and a healthy person can not be healed. 
Sanctification is to rid one of poison, but poison can not be drawn 
from the hand that is not bitten. The idea of holy, holier, holiest 
is absurd. That which is broken is not whole, and that which is 
whole is not broken, Sanctification is to make whole, and since in 
Adam nothing was broken, there was nothing to be made whole. 
More whole than whole is unthinkable. 


Yet altho holy, Adam did not remain what he was, he did not 
stand still without an aim in life. Take, e.g., the difference be- 
tween him and God's child. The latter possesses an unlosable 
treasure, but Adam's was losable, for he lost it. Not that he was 
less holy than the saint ; for this has nothing to do with it. 

Let us illustrate. Of two dishes, one is fine cut glass, hence 
breakable ; the other coarse glass, but unbreakable. Is the latter 
now more whole than the former.!* Or can the former be made 
more whole? Of course not; its wholeness has nothing to do with 
its being breakable or not. Hence the fact that Adam's treasure 
was losable does not touch the question of holiness at all. Wheth- 
er one is holy, or yet to be made holy, does not depend upon the 
losableness of the treasure, but upon its being lost or not. 

How this holy development of Adam was to be effected we do 
not know. We may not inquire after things God has kept from us. 
As sinners we can no more conceive of such sinless development 
than of the unfolding of the heavenly glory of God's children. 

Confining ourselves closely to Scripture, we know, first, that 
sinless man would not have died ; second, that as a reward for his 
work he would have received eternal life, i.e., being perfectly able 
from moment to moment to do God's will, he would always have 
desired and loved to do it ; and for this he would have been rewarded 
continually with larger measures of the life and glory of God. 

We compare the contrast between Adam's condition and ours 
to that between the royal child born possessor of vast treasures, 
and a child of poverty that must earn everything or have another 
to earn it for him. The former lacks nothing, altho he has only 
toys to dispose of; for his father's whole estate is his. Growing 
up, he does not become richer, for his treasures remain the same ; 
but he becomes more conscious of them. So Adam's treasures 
would never have increased, for all things were his, only as his life 
gradually unfolded would he have had more conscious enjoyment 
of his riches. 

Hence original righteousness does not refer to Adam's degree of 
development, nor to his condition, but to his state ; and that was per- 
fectly good. 

All those unscriptural notions of Adam s increase in holiness 
spring from the unscriptural ideas which men, tempted by panthe- 
istic heresies, have formed of holiness. 


" Be ye then perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is 
perfect," does not mean that you, boastful man, puffed up by philo- 
sophic madness, must become like God. A creature you will re- 
main even in your highest glory. And in that glory the conscious- 
ness that you are nothing and God is all will be cause of your most 
fervent adoration and deepest delight. No, Christ's word simply 
means, "Be whole," &\en as your Father in heaven is whole and 
complete. Saying that an earthen vessel must be as whole and 
sound as a porcelain vase does not mean that it must become like 
that vase. The former costs but a few cents; the latter is paid for 
with gold. It only means that as the vase is whole as a vase, so 
must the earthen vessel be whole as an earthen vessel. 

Hence Christ's word means: There are rents in your being; 
the edges are chipped; you are injured and damaged by sin. This 
must not be so. There may be no break in your being, nor should 
defect mar your completeness. Behold, as your Father in heaven 
is unbroken, so must you be wholly sound, unbroken, and perfect. 
That is, as God remained perfect as God, so must you remain whole 
and complete as man, a creature in the hand of your Creator. 

But generally it is not so understood. The current view is as 
follows: They?rj/ step in holiness is conflict with sin. Second, s\n 
becomes weak. Third, sin is almost overcome. Fourth, sin is en- 
tirely cast out. Then only, the higher sanctification sets in, and the 
whole ladder is being climbed; higher and higher, ever more holy, 
until holiness reaches the clouds. 

Of course, those who accept these fancies can not think of Adam 
otherwise than as created on a low plane of holiness and called to 
attain higher sanctification. But if there is but one sanctification, 
i.e., dying to sin and making the broken nature whole, then higher 
sanctification regarding Adam is out of the question. To Adam's 
holiness nothing can be added. He would have known his Crea- 
tor, heartily loved Him, and lived with Him in eternal happiness 
to glorify and praise Him, in ever-increasing consciousness ; but all 
this would not have added anything to his righteousness and holi- 
ness. To suppose this would betray a lack of understanding con- 
cerning holiness. Thus love is confounded with holiness; right- 
eousness with life ; state with condition ; word with being; and the 
very foundations are wrenched from their place. 

Yea, worse. Souls are severed from Jesus. For he that fails 
to understand original righteousness can not understand how Christ 


is given us of God for righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. 
He desires Jesus most assuredly. But how? " Jesus finds the sin- 
ner sick and perishing by the wayside. He puts him on His ani- 
mal, and takes him to the inn, where He pays for him until he is 
restored." Hence always the same representation as tho, after 
being redeemed, one must still seek for a righteousness and holi- 
ness which by constant progress will only gradually be attained. 

If this is correct then Christ is not our righteousness, sanctifica- 
tion, nor redemption ; at the most. He is a Friend supporting and 
strengthening us in our efforts to attain righteousness and holiness. 
No ; if the Church is to glory once more in the comforting and 
blessed confession that in Christ it possesses novj absolute righteous- 
ness, holiness, and redemption, it must first begin by understanding 
original righteousness, i.e., that Adam can not love, can not live in 
blessed fellowship with God, except he be first perfectly righteous 
and completely holy. 

Second Cbapter. 

Sin Not Material. 

•* Sin is lawlessness." — i John 
iii. 4 (R. v.). 

What did sin blunt, corrupt, and destroy in God's image-bearer 

Altho we can touch this question but lightly, yet it may not be 
slighted. It is evident that, for the right understanding of the 
Spirit's work regenerating and restoring the sinner, the knowledge 
of his condition is absolutely necessary. The mend must fit the 
rend. The wall must be rebuilt where the breach is made. The 
healing balm must suit the nature of the wound. As the disease 
is, so must also be the cure. Or stronger still, as is the death so 
must be the resurrection. The fall and the rising again are inter- 

Generalities are useless in this respect. Ministers who seek to 
uncover and expose the man of sin by simply saying that men are 
wholly lost, dead in trespasses and sin, lack the cutting force which 
alone can lay open the putrefying sores of the heart. These serious 
matters have been treated too lightly. Hence by ignoring general 
and shallow statements we simply return to the tried and proven 
ways of the fathers. 

We begin with pointing to one of the principal errors of the 
present time, viz., that of a resuscitated Manicheism. 

It would be very interesting to present in a condensed form this 
sparkling and fascinating heresy to the Church of to-day. The 
immediate effect would be the discovery of the origin or the fam- 
ily likeness of much pernicious teaching that is brought into the 


Church under a Christian name, and by believing men. But this is 
impossible. We confine ourselves to a few features. 

The mission of divine truth in this world is not to wanton with 
its wisdom, but to expose it as a lie. Divine Wisdom does not 
compromise with the speculations and delusions of worldly wisdom, 
but calls them folly and demands their surrender. In the Kingdom 
of truth, light and darkness are pronounced opposites. Hence the 
Church, in coming in contact with the learning and philosophy of 
the Gentile world, came into direct and open conflict with it. 

Compared to Israel, the heathen world was wonderfully wise, 
learned, and scientific; and from her scientific standpoint, she 
looked down with deep contempt and infinite condescension upon 
the foolishness of Christianity. That foolish, ignorant, and un- 
lettered Christianity was not only false, but beneath their notice, 
unworthy to be discussed. In Athens the good-natured people had 
for these unthinking men and their absurd babbling a Homeric 
smile, and the sinister ridiculed them with bitter satire. But nei- 
ther the one nor the other ever seriously considered the matter, for 
it was unscientific. 

And yet, after all, that stupid Christianity carried the day. It 
made progress. It obtained influence, even power. At last the 
great minds and geniuses of those days began to feel attracted to it ; 
until, after a conflict of nearly a century, the hour came when the 
heathen world was compelled to come down from its proud self-con- 
ceit, and acknowledge that ignorant, unlettered, and unscientific 
Christianity. The lively preaching of these Nazarenes had drowned 
the disputations of those dry philosophers. Soon the stream of the 
world's life passed by their schools, and flowed into the channel of 
the wonderful and inexplicable Jesus. Even before the Church 
was two centuries old, proud heathendom discovered that, mortally 
wounded, its life was in jeopardy. 

Then under the appearance of honoring Christianity, with cun- 
ning craftiness Satan vitally injured it, injecting poison into its 
heart. In the second century three learned and complicated sys- 
tems, viz.. Gnosticism, Manicheism, and Neo-Platonism, tried 
with one gigantic effort to smother it in the mortal embrace of their 
heathen philosophies. 

When the cross was planted on Calvary, two empires existed in 
heathendom: one in the West, containing Rome and Greece, and 
the other in the East, with its centers in Babylon and Egypt. In 


each of these centers, Babylon and Athens, there were men of rare 
mental powers, comprehensive learning, and profound wisdom. 
Both centers were swayed by a worldly and heathen philosophy ; 
altho its character in both was different. And from these centers 
the effort proceeded to drown Christianity in the waters of their 
philosophy. Neo-Platonism tried to accomplish this in the West ; 
Manicheism in the East ; and Gnosticism in the center. 

Manes was the man who conceived thatmagnificant, fascinating, 
and seducing system which bears his name. He was a profound 
thinker, and died about the year 270. He was a genial, pious, and 
seriously minded man ; he confessed Christ. It was even the aim 
and object of his zeal to extend the Lord's Kingdom. But one 
thing annoyed him : the endless conflict between Christianity and 
his own science and philosophy. He thought there were points of 
agreement and contact between the two, and their reconciliation 
was not impossible. To bridge the chasm seemed beautiful to 
him. One might walk to the heathen world, and in its brilliant 
philosophies discover many elements of divine origin ; and return- 
ing to Christianity lead some serious heathens to the cross of 
Christ. The profound glory of the Christian faith filled him with 
enthusiasm ; yet he remained almost blind for the inherent false- 
hood of heathen philosophy. And as both lay mingled in his soul, 
so it was his aim to devise a system wherein both should be inter- 
woven, and transformed into a brilliant whole. 

It is impossible here to introduce his system, which shows that 
Manes had thought out every deep question of vital importance, 
and with comprehensive eye had measured all the dimensions of 
his cosmology. All that we can do is to show how this system led 
to false ideas of sin. 

This was caused by his mistaken notion that the word " flesh " 
refers only to the body ; while Scripture uses it as referring to sin, 
signifying the whole human nature, which does not love the things 
that are above, but the things of the flesh. Flesh in this sense refers 
more directly to the soul than to the body. The works of the flesh 
are twofold : one class, touching the body, are the sins related to 
fornication and lust ; the other, touching the soul, consist of sins 
connected with pride, envy, and hatred. In the sphere of visible 
things it finishes its image with shameless fornication ; in the realm 
of invisible things it ends with stiffnecked pride. 

Scripture teaches that sin does not originate in the flesh, but in 


Satan, a being without a body. Coming from him it crept first into 
man's soul, then manifested itself in the body. Hence it is un- 
scriptural to oppose " flesh " and "spirit" as "body" and "soul." 
This Manes did; and this is the object of his system in all its fea- 
tures. He taught that sin is inherent in matter, in the flesh, in all 
that is tangible and visible. " The soul," he says, " is your friend, 
but the body your enemy. The successful resistance of the excite- 
ment of the blood and the palate would free you from sin." In his 
own Eastern environment he saw much more carnal sin than spir- 
itual; and deceived by this he closed his eyes for the latter, or 
accounted for it as caused by the excitement from evil matter. 

And yet Manes was quite consistent, which, giant-thinker that 
he was, could not be otherwise. He arrived at this singular con- 
clusion, essential to his system of inventions, that Satan was not 
a fallen angel, not a spiritual, incorporeal being, but matter itself. 
Hid in matter was a power tempting the soul, and that power was 
Satan. This explains how Manes could offer the Church such a 
singular and anti-scriptural doctrine. 

Manes's system bordered on materialism. The materialist says 
that our thinking is the burning of phosphorus in the brain ; and 
that lust, envy, and hatred are the result of a discharge of certain 
glands in the body. Virtue and vice are only the result of chemi- 
cal processes. In order to make a man better, freer, and nobler, 
we should send him to the laboratory of a chemist, rather than to 
school or church. And if it were possible for the chemist to lift 
the man's skull, and subject his cells and nerves to the necessary 
chemical process, then vice would be conquered, and virtue and 
higher wisdom would effectually sway him. 

In a similar way Manes taught that as an inherent and insep- 
arable power sin dwells in the blood and muscles, and is transmitted 
by them. He exhorted to eat certain herbs, as a means to overcome 
sin. There were, so he taught, animals, but chiefly plants, into 
which had penetrated a few redeeming and liberating particles of 
light from the kingdom of light which opposed evil; by eating 
these herbs the blood would absorb these saving particles of light, 
and thus the power of sin would be broken. In fact, the church of 
Manes was a chemical laboratory, in which sin was opposed by 
material agencies. 

This shows the logical consistency of the system, and the weak- 
ness of the men who, having adopted the false notion of material 


sin, try to escape from its tight hold upon them. But they can not, 
for, altho discarding the draperies belonging to the system as un- 
suitable to our Western mode of thinking, they adopt his whole 
line of theories, and thus falsify not only the doctrine of sin, but 
almost every other part of the Christian doctrine. 

And yet it is only in the doctrine of inherited sin that this error is 
so conspicuous that it can not escape detection. 

It is argued: By virtue of his birth man is a sinner. Hence 
every child must inherit sin from his parents. And since an infant 
in the cradle is ignorant of spiritual sin, and without spiritual de- 
velopment, the inherited sin must hide in his being, transmitted 
with the blood from the parents. And this is pure Manicheism, in 
that it makes sin to be transmitted as a power inherent in matter. 

The Confession of the Reformed churches, speaking of inherited 
sin, says, in article xv. : 

"We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is 
extended to all mankind ; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and 
an hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in 
their mother's womb, and which produceth in man all sorts of sin, being 
in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the 
sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it by 
any means abolished or done away by baptism ; since sin always issues 
forth from this woful source, as water from a fountain : notwithstanding 
it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by His 
grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in 
sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, 
desiring to be delivered from the body of this death. Wherefore we reject 
the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin only proceeds from imita- 

It is apparent, therefore, that the Reformed churches positively 
acknowledge inherited sin ; acknowledge also that the child inherits 
sin from the parents; even calls this sin an infection, which adheres 
even to the unborn child. But — and this is the principal thing — 
they never say that this inherited sin is something material, or is 
transmitted as something material. The word infection is used met- 
aphorically, and therefore is not the proper expression for the thing 
which they wish to confess. Sin is not a drop of poison which, like 
a contagious disease, passes from father to child. No; the trans- 
mission of sin remains in our confession an unexplained mystery, 
only symbolically expressed. 


But this does not satisfy the spirits of the present day. Hence 
the new school of Manicheists which has arisen among us. 

Entangled in the meshes of this heresy are they who deny the 
doctrine of inherited guilt ; who entertain false views of the sacra- 
ments, holding that in Baptism the poison of sin is at least partly 
removed from the soul, and that in the communion of the Holy 
Supper the sinful flesh absorbs a few particles of the glorified body ; 
and lastly, who advocate the ridiculous efforts to banish demoniac 
influences from rooms and vacant lots. All this is foolish, unscrip- 
tural, and yet defended by believing men in our own land. O 
Church of Christ, whither art thou straying? 

Sin Not a Mere Negation. 

" I see another law in my members, 
warring against the law of my 
mind." — Rom. vii. 23. 

Dr. Bohl's theory, that sin is a mere loss, default, or lack, is an 
error almost as critical as Manicheism. 

This should not be misunderstood. This theory does not deny 
that the sinner is unholy, nor that he ought to be holy. It says 
two things: (i) that there is no holiness in the sinner; but— and 
this indicates the real character of sin — (2) that there ought to be 
holiness in him. A stone does not hear, nor a book see ; yet the 
one is not deaf, nor the other blind. But the man who lost both 
hearing and seeing is both ; for to his being as a man both are es- 
sential. A chair can not walk; yet it is not lame, for it is not ex- 
pected to walk. But the cripple is lame, for walking belongs to his 
being. A horse is not holy, neither is it a sinner. But man is a 
sinner, for he is unholy, and holiness belongs to his being; an un- 
holy man is defective and unnatural. Sin, says St. John, " is un- 
righteousness," non-conformity to the law, or, literally, lawlessness, 
anomy. Hence sin appears only in beings subject to the divine, 
moral law, and consists in non-conformity to that law. 

Thus far this view presents only clear, pure truth; and every 
effort to give sin positive, independent entity contradicts the Word 
and leads to Manicheism, as may be seen in the otherwise fervent 
and conscientious Moravian Brethren. 

Scripture denies that sin has a positive character implying that 
it has independent being. Independent being is either created or 
uncreated. If uncreated, it must be eternal, and this is God alone. 
If created, God must be its Creator; which can not be, for He is 
not sin's Author. Hence Scripture does not teach that the power 
of evil inheres in matter, but in Satan. And what is Satan? Not 


an evil substance, but a being intended for, and endued with holi- 
ness ; who abandoned himself to unholiness, in which he entangled 
himself hopelessly, becoming absolutely unholy. The doctrine of 
Satan opposes the false notion that sin has entity. The idea that 
sin is a power, in the sense of a faculty exercised by an independ- 
ent being, is inconsistent with Scripture, 

So far we heartily agree with Dr. Bohl, and acknowledge that 
he has maintained the old and tried conviction of believers, and the 
positive confession of the Church. 

But from this he infers that, before and after the fall, Adam re- 
mained the same, with this difference only, that after the fall he 
lost the splendor of righteousness in which he had walked hitherto. 
So far as his powers and being were concerned, he remained the 
same. And this we do not accept. It would make man like a lamp 
brightly burning but soon extinguished, when it became a dark 
body. Or like a fireplace radiant with the glow and heat of fire 
this moment, cold and dark the next. Or like a piece of iron mag- 
netized by the electric current, which gives it power to attract; 
but the current withdrawn it ceases to be a magnet. When the 
light was blown out, the lamp remained uninjured. When the fire 
died, the hearth remained what it was before. And when the elec- 
tric fluid left the iron, it was iron still. 

And so says Dr. Bohl regarding man. As the current passes 
through the iron and magnetizes it, so did the divine righteousness 
pass through Adam and make him holy. As the lamp shines when 
lighted by the spark, so did Adam shine when touched by the spark 
of righteousness. And as the hearth is aglow with the fire, so was 
Adam radiant with the righteousness created in him. But now sin 
comes in. That is, the lamp goes out, the hearth becomes cold, 
the magnet is mere iron again. And man stands robbed of his 
splendor, dark and unable to attract. But for the rest he remained 
what he was. Dr. Bohl says distinctly that man remained the 
same before and after the fall. 

And with this we do not agree. As a sinner he was still man, 
undoubtedly, but man as the fathers confessed at Dordt (3d and 4th, 
Head of Doctrine, art. xvi.) : " That man by the fall did not cease to 
be a creature endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin, 
which pervaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the hu- 
man nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death." 
Dr. Bohl's statement, " Wenn wir die Creatur aus jenem Stande 


hin ausgetreten denken, so bleibt diese Creatur intact, "* directly 
contradicts this pure confession of the Reformed churches. 

No, the creature did not remain intact, but sin so seriously in- 
jured him that he became corrupt even unto death. And tho we 
acknowledge that sin has no real being in itself, yet with equal de- 
cision we confess, with our church, that its workings are by no 
means merely negative, nor exclusively privative, but most assur- 
edly very positive. 

Scripture and our best theologians (Rivet, Wallaeus, and Poly- 
ander by name, in their Synopsis) teach this so positively that it is 
almost unimaginable how Dr. Bohl could reach any other conclu- 
sion. Wherefore we are inclined to believe that on this point he 
agrees with the confession of the orthodox churches, but that he 
represents this matter in such a strange manner for the sake of 
something else and for an entirely different reason. 

If we may be frank, we would represent Dr. Bohl's course of 
reasoning as follows ; " My teacher, Dr. Kohlbrugge, used to op- 
pose strenuously the men that proudly say to the unconverted: 
Touch me not, for I am holier than thou. He used to emphasize 
the fact that the child of God, considered for a moment out of 
Christ, lies in the midst of death, just as much as the unconverted. 
Hence regeneration does not change man in the least. Before and 
after regeneration he is exactly the same, with this difference only, 
that the converted man believes and by \).\s faith walks in reflected 
righteousness. And if this be so, then regarding the fall the re- 
verse is true ; that is, before and after the fall man as such |re- 
mained the same ; the only change was that in the fall he left the 
righteousness in which he stood before." 

Of course we may be mistaken, but we dare surmise that in this 
way Dr. Bohl was tempted to this strange representation, and even 
to declare, as Rome teaches, that desire in itself is no sin ; some- 
thing which the Reformed Church on the ground of the Tenth Com- 
mandment has always opposed. 

In fact, the question regarding the fall and the restoration is the 
same. If the restoration does not affect our being, then neither 
can the fall have affected it. If redemption means only that a sin- 
ner is set in the light of Christ's righteousness, then the fall can 
mean no more than that man stepped out of that light. The two 

•"Removed by sin from this state [of righteousness], man remains 
intact. " 


belong together. As it was in the fall, so it must be in the restora« 
tion. A man's confession regarding redemption will, if he be con- 
sistent, tell what his confession is regarding the fall. 

Hence if Dr. Kohlbrugge had confessed that the restoration 
leaves our being unchanged and only translates us into a sphere of 
righteousness, then it should be conceded that he also represented 
the fall as leaving man and his nature intact. And this is the very- 
thing which we can not concede. Dr. Kohlbrugge has uncovered 
the actual corruption of our nature so forcibly and positively that 
we will never believe that according to his confession the fall left 
our being and nature intact. Neither can we concede that, accord- 
ing to his confession, in the restoration our being is left unchanged, 
even tho he connected that change, very rightly, with the mystic 
union and with the dying to sin in death. 

If he had actually intended to teach what many of his followers 
allege that he did teach, then we would call his tendency very defi- 
nitely erroneous. But since we can not interpret him without taking 
into account the misrepresentations which he so strongly opposed, 
and especially since his confession concerning the corruption of our 
nature was so complete, we maintain that he did not teach what 
many of his followers offer in his name. 

Hence our way is in the very opposite direction. Dr. Bohl says 
in other words: "Dr. Kohlbrugge, in his doctrine of redemption, 
starts from the idea that redemption leaves the sinner essentially 
unchanged; hence neither can sin have affected him essentially." 
While, on the contrary, we say : " The confession of Kohlbrugge re- 
garding the corruption of our nature is so complete that he could 
not but confess that in the fall, and therefore in the restoration, our 
nature was changed. " 

But be that as it may, this is sure, that, according to the word 
and the constant doctrine of our Church, sin, altho it is essentially 
and exclusively privative and lacking independent existence, is 
yet in its consequences positive and in its workings destructive. 

Our nature did not remain unchanged, but it became cor- 
rupt ; and corruption is the significant word which indicates the 
fatal, positive effects which resulted from this loss of life and 

A plant needs light to flourish ; light excluded, it not only lan- 
gfuishes, but soon withers, decays, and at last mildews; and this is, 
corruption. Cancer and smallpox are not merely loss of health ; 


but have a positive action, which destroys the tissues, creates 
morbid growth, and corrupts the body. A corpse is not merely a 
lifeless body, but the seat of dissolution and corruption. In like 
manner we are conscious that sin is not merely the deprivation of 
holiness, but we feel its fearful activity, corruption, and dissolution 
which destroy. Strongest proof is the fact that we do not joyfully 
welcome God's grace entering the heart, but with our whole na- 
ture oppose it. There is conflict which would be impossible if 
that deprivation and loss had not developed evil which opposes 

This corruption does not stop until the body is dissolved into 
its original constituents. We do not know what became of the 
bodies of Moses, Enoch, and Elijah. The Scripture makes excep- 
tions. Christ did not see corruption, and believers living at the 
Lord's return will escape bodily dissolution. But all others, mil- 
lions upon millions, will sicken and die, and return to the dust. 
Physical disease and death are types of soul-corruption which mere 
words fail to express. 

Scripture and experience show clearly that Satan is not merely 
bereaved, emptied, and lacking, but that he causes a positive, cor- 
rupting activity to proceed from him. And so, tho in less degree, 
the soul has become corrupt; not only in the sense of being dark 
instead of light, chilled instead of warm, but that this deprivation 
has resulted in positive destruction and corruption. Cold is loss of 
heat, which on reaching the freezing-point causes positive injury 
to the body. And such is sin. As to its being, it is loss, depriva- 
tion, and nakedness. And these cause in body and soul a destruc- 
tive working which affects man's whole nature, binding him with 
the fetters of corruption, altho he ceases not to be man. 

We reconcile s\n's privative beifig with its positive working as fol- 
lows: depriving the ceaseless activity of man's nature of correct 
guidance, it runs in the wrong direction, and wrests and destroys 

Sin a Power in Reversed Action. 

*' If ye live after the flesh ye shall 
die." — Rom. viii. 13. 

Altho sin is originally and essentially a loss, alack, and a depri- 
vation, in its working it is a positive evil and a malignant power. 

This is shown by the apostolic injunction not only to put on 
the new man, but also to put off the old man with his works. The 
well-known theologian Maccovius, commenting on this, aptly re- 
marks: "This could not be enjoined if sin were merely a loss of 
light and life ; for a mere lack ceases as soon as it is supplied." 

If sin were merely a loss of righteousness, nothing more would 
be needed than its restoration, and sin would disappear. The put- 
ting off of the old man, or the laying down of the yoke of sin, etc., 
would be out of the question. The light has only to dispel the 
soul's darkness, and its health will be restored. But experience 
shows that after we are enlightened, and the Holy Spirit has entered 
our heart, there is still a fearful power of evil in us; and this to- 
gether with the oft-repeated command not only to accept the right- 
eousness of God which is by faith, but also to put off, to lay aside, 
to be separate from all that is evil, proves sin's positive character 
and evil power in individuals and in society, in spite of its priva- 
tive character. 

Hence the Church confesses that our nature has become corrupt, 
which of course refers us back to the divine image. Our nature 
did not disappear, nor cease to be our nature, but in its orignal fea- 
tures and organs it remained the same ; the divine image was not 
lost, not even partly lost, but remained stamped upon every man, 
and will remain even in the place of eternal destruction, simply 
because he can not divest himself of his nature except by annihila- 
tion. But this being impossible, he must retain it as man and in 
mans nature. Wherefore Scripture teaches long after the fall that 
the sinner is created after the image of God. But concerning the 


effects of its features in the fallen human nature, the very opposite is 
true : these features have totally disappeared ; the ruins which re- 
main speak at the most only of the glory and beauty which have 

Hence the two meanings of the divine image should no longer 
be confounded. Forasmuch as it lies in our nature it will remain 
evermore ; so far as its effects upon the quality, i.e., the condition, 
of our nature are concerned, // is lost. The human nature can be 
corrupted, but not annihilated. It can exist as nature, even tho its 
former attributes be lost, and replaced by opposite workings. 

Our fathers discriminated between our nature's being and its 
zvell-being. In its being it remained uninjured and unharmed, i.e., 
it is still the real, human nature. But in its condition, i.e., in its 
attributes, workings, and influences, in its well-being it is wholly 
changed, and corrupt. Tho a poisoned insect-sting destroys the 
sight, yet the eye remains. So is the human nature ; deprived of 
its luster, checked in its normal activity, internally sore and foul, 
yet it is the human nature. 

But it is corrupted by sin. It is true man has retained the power 
to think, will, and feel, besides many glorious talents and faculties, 
even genius sometimes; but this does not touch the corruption of 
his nature. Its corruption is this, that the life which should be de- 
voted -to God and animated by Him is devoted with downward 
tendencies to earthly things. And this reversed action has changed 
the whole organism of our being. 

If the divine righteousness were essential to human life, this 
could not be so ; but it is not. According to Scripture, death is not 
annihilation. The sinner is dead to God, but in this very death 
throbs and thrills his life to Satan, to sin, and to the world. If the 
sinner had no sinful life. Scripture could never say, " Mortify there- 
fore your members which are upon the earth," for it is impossible 
to mortify that which is dead already. 

Let not similarity of sound deceive us. Human life is inde- 
structible. When the soul is active in conformity to the divine 
law. Scripture says that the soul lives ; if not, it is dead. This 
death is the wages of sin. But for this reason man's nature does 
not cease to work, to use its organs, to exert its influence. This is 
the life of our members which are in the earth — our sinful life, the 
Inward festering of evil in our corrupt nature ; for this reason it 
must be mortified. Hence since sin does not stop our nature from 


breathing, working, feeding, but it causes these activities, which 
under the sway of the divine law did run well and were full of 
blessing, to go wrong and be corrupt. 

The mainspring of a watch when detached from its pivot does 
not stop it immediately; but, being uncontrolled, it turns the 
wheels so rapidly as to ruin the mechanism. In some respects 
human nature resembles that watch. God has endowed it with 
power, life, and activity. Controlled by His law it worked well, 
and in harmony with His will. But sin deprived it of that control, 
and, while these powers and faculties remain, they run the wrong 
way, and destroy the delicate organism. If this condition lasted 
only for a moment, and the sinner were immediately restored 
to his original state, it could not lead to a positive evil. But sin 
lasts a long time ; sixty centuries already. Its pernicious influence 
has its effects ; a secondary disease after the primary ; accumulations 
of sinful dregs, and increase of festering sores. The threads of our 
nature's woof pull awry. Everything wrenches itself out of joint. 
And, since this secondary activity continues unchecked, its perni- 
cious working becomes more and more critical. 

What causes a felon? A sliver in the finger slightly checks the 
circulation. But the blood continues to circulate, trying to over- 
come the obstacle. The additional pressure against the walls of 
the capillaries produces more friction, and raises the temperature. 
The surrounding tissue swells, the delicate blood-vessels contract, 
the friction increases, and the boil throbs. Altho this is but the 
continued normal action of the circulation, yet it causes positive 
evil. There is a local congestion ; poisonous matter inflames the 
healthy tissue, and the parts are thoroughly diseased. 

And such is sin's course. The action of our powers continues, 
but in the wrong direction. This causes disorder and irregulari- 
ties, which inflame our nature toward evil. This sinful inflamma- 
tion creates unnatural and wicked deformations, which excite the 
tissues of the soul to a morbid growth, compared by Scripture to 
foul matter. And from this unholy marsh poisonous gases rise 
continually throughout our entire nature. Thus the whole economy 
is disordered. Having run away from the divine law without dis- 
cipline, body and soul become unruly. Hence, incited by its own 
inherent action, it involves itself more deeply and runs farther 
away from God. As a train that is derailed destroys itself by its 
very speed, so does man, having left the track of the divine law. 


compass his own ruin by the inherent impetus and working. Noth- 
ing more is needed. Destruction results necessarily from the very 
life of our nature. 

Hence the sinner is without knowledge, the feelings are per- 
verted, the will is paralyzed, the imagination polluted, the desires 
are impure, and all his ways, tendencies, and outgoings are at once 
evil; not in our eyes, perhaps, but because everything fails to meet 
the demands of God, who wills that everything should meet Him 
at the terminus of the road, i.e., to be with Him and in Him, ma- 
king His glory the final end of all things. 

And this makes many things sinful, unrighteous, and wicked 
that we consider fair and beautiful. Not our taste, but God's, de- 
cides what is right or wrong. He that wishes to know what that 
taste is, let him learn it from the law of God. That law is standard 
and plummet. But whatever the sinner seeks or desires to please 
God, he will not do this; e.^., he may be perfectly willing to hang 
his coat on the wall and do it gracefully, but not on the nail that 
God has struck in the wall of our life ; everywhere else, but not 
there. Thus everything in him becomes evil, his entire nature cor- 
rupt, incapable of any good, inclined to all evil, yea, prone to hate 
God and his neighbor. The deed may not be born, but the very 
inclination and desire are sin. 

Like the Romish and some Lutheran theologians, Dr. Bohl de- 
nies this. He teaches that there was this desire in holy Adam and 
even in Christ; not indulged, but held in with bit and bridle — as 
tho God had created man with this ravenous animal of desire in his 
heart, while He endowed him at the same time with the power to 
restrain it. To keep this desire in constant check would have been 
man's greatest excellence. 

But this is not according to Scripture. Nothing shows that holy 
Adam had any desire for the things he saw. The possibility of 
desire was created only by the prohibition : " Of the tree of knowl- 
edge of good and evil thou shalt not eat." And even after that we 
do not discover a trace of desire in him. Such eager looking at the 
fruit was not witnessed until Satan had inwardly incited Eve nof to 
eat of the fruit, but through it to become like God. This is the first 
desire awakened in man's heart, and that only after his eye was 
opened to see that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the 

In the righteous state Adam was filled with peace, harmony, and 


divine success ; without a trace of the anxiety necessarily springing 
from the task of restraining a dangerous monster. And in the 
heavenly glory it will not be an endless desire to restrain desire, 
but a complete deliverance from desire ; not the suction of a great 
deep in our bottomless heart, but all its depths filled with the love 
of God. 

The commandment " Thou shalt not covet" is absolute. The 
Lord Jesus was a total stranger to covetousness. He never desired 
what God withheld. In Gethsemane's terrible denouement He de- 
sired, yet not to receive a gift, but to retain His own, i.e., when 
tinder the curse not to be forsaken of His God. 

Our Guilt.* 

"Wherefore as by one man sin entered 
into the world, and death by sin ; and 
so death passed upon all men, for 
that all have sinned." — Rom. v. 12. 

Sin and guilt belong together, but may not be confounded or 
considered synonymous, any more than sanctification and righteous- 
ness. It is true guilt rests upon every sin, and in every sin there is 
guilt, yet the two must be kept distinct. There is a difference be- 
tween the blaze and the blackened spot upon the wall caused by it ; 
long after the blaze is out the spot remains. Even so with sin and 
guilt. Sin's red blaze blackens the soul; but long after sin is left 
behind, the black mark upon the soul continues. 

Hence it is of the greatest importance that the difference between 
the two be clearly understood, especially since confounding sin and 
guilt must lead to confounding justification and sanctification. much 
to the injury of the earnestness of the Christian life. 

If there were but one man on earth, he might sin against him- 
self, but he could not be in debt to others. And if, in accordance 
with modern theology, there were no living God, but only an idea 
of good, he might sin against the idea of good, and be exceedingly 
bad, but he could not owe God anything. 

Men owe God because He lives, exists, never departs, forever 
abides ; and because from moment to moment they must transact 
business with Him. With men we open accounts at will, and the 
firms in town with which we do so we will owe, but those with 
which we do not deal we will never owe. Many apply this to God, 
under the mistaken notion that if they have no dealings with God 
they can not owe Him anything and have nothing to do with Him. 
To them He is non-existing ; how, then, could they be in debt to 

*The Dutch word '" schu/d," literally "debt " includes the ideas oi guiit 
and of indebtedness in general. — Trans. 


But He does exist. It is not left to our choice to have dealings 
with Him or not. No ; in all our affairs, at all times and under all 
circumstances, we must deal and do deal with Him. There is no 
business transacted from which He is excluded. In all things what- 
ever we do. He is the most interested. In all our dealings and en- 
terprises He is the Preferred Creditor and Senior Partner, with 
whom we must settle the final account. We may bury ourselves in 
Sahara, or go down to the bottom of the ocean, but our account 
with Him never ceases. We can never get away from Him. Work- 
ing with head, heart, or hand, we open an account with God; and 
while we can deceive other partners and withhold part of the ac- 
counts from them. He is omniscient, He knows the most secret 
items. He keeps account of the smallest fraction, charging it to us; 
and before we have begun our reckoning, He has already finished it 
and laid it before us. 

Considering this, we realize what it is to be debtors to God ; for 
while at every moment, under all circumstances, and in all transac- 
tions we are obliged to pay Him the whole profit, we never do it, 
at least not in full. Hence every act of head, heart, or hand creates 
an item of debt, which we withhold from Him through being either 
unwilling or unable to pay. 

If God were not, or we were not related to Him, we would be 
sinners, but not debtors. If a few years ago the floods at Krakatoa 
had engulfed all Java, as was feared, would it not have canceled 
all our debts to Java firms? Or suppose that the Patriotic Party in 
China once more came into power, and the Emperor decreed to 
close the empire against all nations, so that during a whole life- 
time it was impossible to settle business with Chinese firms. Would 
this not cancel all the debts owing to China? Hence if God should 
cease to be or dissolve every tie binding us to Him, all our debts 
would at once be obliterated. But this is impossible ; the tie that 
binds us to Him can not be broken. Our debt to Him remains; we 
can not cancel it ; and our thinking that we can cancel it does not 
alter the fact. 

God created us for Himself, and that creates our indebtedness 
to Him. If He had simply created us for the pleasure of creating 
us, as a boy blows soap bubbles for his entertainment, and for the 
rest did not care what became of us, there could be no debt. But 
He did create us for Himself, with the absolute charge, in all things, 
at every moment, and under all circumstances, to lay life's gain 


npon the altar of His name and glory. He does not allow us to 
live three days out of every ten for Him, and the rest for ourselves; 
in fact, He does not release us for a single day or moment. He de- 
mands the gain of our existence for His glory, unconditionally, 
always and evermore. He planned and created us for this. Thus He 
claims us. Hence, being our Lord and Ruler, He can not forego the 
last farthing of life's gain ; and since we never have rendered Him 
the tribute, we are absolutely His debtors. 

What money is among men, loi^e is to God. He says to you and 
me and every man : " As you thirst for gold, so do I thirst for love. 
I, your God, want your love, your whole heart's love. This is My 
due. This I claim. This debt I can not cancel. Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with 
all thy strength." The fact that we do not render Him this love, 
or render it unholily and fraudulently, makes us His debtors perpet- 

We know that this is called the juridical conception , and that in 
these effeminate days men desire to escape from the tension of the 
right; wherefore the ethical conception is lauded to the skies. But 
this whole sentiment springs directly from a lie. This opposition 
against the juridical conception sets God at naught or ignores Him. 
Even without believing in God, one can dream of an ideal of holi- 
ness, according to the ethical conception, and strive against sin 
with inward thirst after holiness. But with only an ideal to incite 
him, there can be no room for right, no debt to God ; for one can 
not owe an ideal, but only a living persori. But when I acknowledge 
the living God, and that always and in all things I have to do with 
Him, then He has righteous claims upon me which I have violated, 
and which must be satisfied. Hence the juridical conception comes 

The ethical idea is ; "I am sick ; how can I become well?" The 
juridical idea is ; " How can God's violated right be restored? " The 
latter is therefore of primary importance. The Christian must not 
first consider himself, but God. It wounds the very heart of the Re- 
formed confession when the pulpit aims at sanctification without 
zeal for justification. Dr. Kohlbrugge's chief merit lay in this, that 
for God's sake he grieved over this neglect, and with powerful hand 
stemmed the tide of despising God's right, saying to church and 
individual: "Brethren, justification first." 

To say, " Oh, if I were only holy, my indebtedness to God would 


not much trouble me/' sounds very nice, but is deeply sinful. God's 
children desire to be holy as the children of vanity desire riches, 
honor, and glory — i.e.. it is always a desire for ourselves, our own 
ego, in ourselves to be what we are not. And the Lord God is left 
out. It is the Pelagian regulating his relation to God according to 
his own satisfaction. In fact it is sin, tho gilded, against the first 
and highest commandment. 

Surely the soul's deep longing after holiness is good and right, 
but only after the question is settled ; " How can I be restored to my 
right position before God, whose rights I have violated?" If this is 
our chief concern, then and then only do we love the Lord our God 
more than ourselves. Then the prayer for holiness will follow as 
a matter of course; not from the selfish desire to be spiritually en- 
riched, but from the soul's deep longing nevermore to violate the 
divine right. 

This is deep and far-reaching, and many will deem it harsh. Yet 
we may not hold it back. The unmanly and sickly Christianity 
now vaunted is not that of the fathers and of the godly of all ages 
and of the apostles and prophets. The Lord musi be First and 
Highest ; instead of being honored, His law is dishonored when, in 
the pursuit of holiness, God's right is forgotten. Even among men 
it is called dishonest when, with debts unpaid, a man goes to Amer- 
ica only to make his fortune ; and we would say to him : " Honestly 
to pay your debts is more honorable than merely to be successful." 
And this applies here. God's child does not enter the kingdom 
with a cry for success, but to balance his accounts with God. 

And this explains the difference between sin and guilt. A burg- 
lar repents and returns the stolen treasure. Is he now entitled to 
freedom? Surely not; but if he fall into the hands of the law, he 
shall be tried, sentenced, and suffer in prison the penalty of the vio- 
lated right. Let us apply this to sin. There is a /au> and God is 
its Author. Measured by it, transgressions of omission and com- 
mission are called sin. But that is not all. The law is not a fetish, 
nor the formula of a moral ideal, but God's co?nmandment ; " God 
spake all these words." God stands behind that law, maintains it, 
and lays it before us. Hence it is not enough to measure our act 
by the law and call it sin, but it must also be accounted for to the 
Lawgiver and acknowledged to be guilt. 

Sin is non-conformity of an act, person, or condition to the divine 
law ; guilt, encroachment by act, person, or condition upon the di- 


vine right. Sin creates guilt, because God has a claim upon all our 
acts. If it were possible to act independently of God, such acts, 
tho deviating from the moral ideal, would not create guilt. But 
since every man's act in every condition stands in account with 
God, every sin creates guilt. Yet they are not identical. Sin 
always lies in us and leaves our relation to God untouched ; but 
g^ilt does not lie in us, but always refers to our relation to God. 
Sin shows what we are in our antagonism to the moral ideal ; but 
guilt refers to God's claim upon us and to our denial of that claim. 

If God were like a man, this guilt would be compromised. But 
He is not. His claims are as pure gold, perfectly right ; not arbi- 
trary, but based invariably upon a firm and unchangeable founda- 
tion. Hence nothing can be deducted from that guilt. According 
to the strictest measure the whole remains forever charged to us. 

Hence fhe punishment. For punishment is but God's act of re- 
sisting the encroachment upon His rights. Such encroachments 
rob God, and would, if persisted in, detract from His divinity. And 
this can not be if He be God indeed. Hence His majesty operates 
directly against this encroachment. And this constitutes punish- 
ment. Sin, guilt, and punishment are inseparable. Only because 
guilt pursues sin, and punishment prosecutes guilt, can sin exist in 
God's universe. 

Our Unrighteousness. 

" My Spirit shall not always strive 
with man." — Gen. vi. 3. 

Before discussing the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner's 
restoration, let us consider the interesting but much-neglected ques- 
tion whether man stood in fellowship with the Holy Spirit before 
the fall. 

If it is true that the original Adam returns in the regenerated 
man, it follows that the Holy Spirit must have dwelt in Adam as 
He now dwells in God's children. But this is not so. God's word 
teaches the following differences between the two : 

1. Adam's treasure was losable, and that of God's children un- 

2. The former was to obtain eternal life, while the latter al- 
ready possess it. 

3. Adam stood under the Covenant of Works, and the regene- 
rated under the Covenant of Grace. 

These differences are essential, and indicate a difference of 
status. Adam did not belong to the ungodly that are justified, but 
was sinlessly just. He did not live by an extraneous righteousness 
which is by faith, as the regenerated, but shone with an original 
righteousness truly his own. He lived under the law which says: 
" Do this and thou shalt live; if not, thou shalt die." 

Hence Adam had no other faith than that which comes by " nat- 
ural disposition." He did not live out of a righteousness which is 
by faith, but out of an original righteousness. The cloud of wit- 
nesses in Heb. xi. does not begin with sinless Adam, but with Abel 
before he was slain. 

If ei^ery right relation of the soul is one of faith, then original 
righteousness necessarily included faith. But this is not Scriptu- 
ral. St. Paul teaches that faith is a temporary grace, which finally 
enters that higher and more intimate fellowship called "sight." 
Faith as a means of salvation is in Scripture always faith in Christ 


not as the Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity, but as Re- 
deemer, Savior, and Surety — in short, faith in Christ and Hitn cruci- 
fied. And since "Christ and Him crucified" does not belong to 
unfallen man, it is incorrect to place Adam in line with the justified 
sinner as regards faith. Even in the state of righteousness Adam 
did not live in Christ, for Christ is only a sinner's Savior, and not 
a sphere or element in which man lives as man. In the absence of 
sin. Scripture knows no Christ ; and St. Paul teaches that, when all 
the consequences of sin shall have ceased, Christ shall deliver the 
kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all. 

Hence Adam and the regenerate are not the same. The differ- 
ence between their status is most obvious in the fact that out of 
Christ the latter lies in the midst of death, having no life in him- 
self, as St. Paul says, " Yet not I, but Christ who liveth in me, who 
loved me and gave Himself for me"; while Adam had a natural 
righteousness in himself. 

The fathers have always strongly emphasized this point. They 
taught that Adam's original righteousness was not accidental, su- 
pernatural, added to his nature, but inherent in his nature ; not 
another's righteousness imputed to him and appropriated by faith, 
but a righteousness naturally his own. Wherefore Adam needed 
no substitute ; he stood for himself in the nature of his own being. 
Hence his status was the opposite of that which constitutes for the 
child of God the glory of his faith. 

Teachers of another doctrine are moved, consciously or un- 
consciously, by philosophic motives. The Ethical theory says: 
" Properly speaking, our salvation is not in the cross, but in Christ's 
Person. He was God and Man, hence divine-human ; and this divine- 
human nature is communicable. This being imparted to us, our 
nature becomes superior in kind, and thus we become the children 
of God." This is a denial of the way of faith, and a rejection of the 
cross and of the whole doctrine of Scripture — a fearful error indeed. 
Its conclusion is: "First, even in sin's absence the Son of God 
would have become man; second, of course sinless Adam lived in 
the God-man." 

Without assenting to these errors, others imprudently teach that 
sinless Adam lived by the righteousness of Christ. Let them be 
careful of the consequences. Scripture allows no theories which 
obliterate the difference between the Covenant of Works and that 
of Grace. 


But maintaining the approved doctrine of Adam's original right- 
eousness as inherent in his nature, and of the divine image as being 
in-created, the important question arises: Was the fellowship of the 
Holy Spirit enjoyed by Adam the same as that now possessed by 
the new-born soul? 

The answer depends upon one's opinion concerning the nature 
of the original righteousness. Adam's righteousness was intrinsic. 
He stood before God as man ought to stand. He lacked nothing 
but debt. He rendered the Lord all that he owed momentarily; 
for how long is unimportant. One second is long enough to lose 
one's soul forever, and equally long enough to get into the right 
position before God. Hence Adam possessed a perfect good ; for 
righteousness implies holiness, and both were perfect. Even the 
least unholiness would have created an immediate deficiency in 
Adam's returns to God. And when that unholiness became a fact, 
that righteousness was immediately damaged, rent, and broken; 
the least unholiness causes all at once the loss of all righteousness. 
Righteousness has no degrees. That which is not perfectly straight 
is crooked. Right and perfectly right are exactly the same. Not 
perfectly right is ?wt right. 

The question " Bou> Adam was perfectly good" received clearest 
light from the conflict of the Lutherans Flacius Illiricus and Victo- 
rinus Strigel. The former maintained that man was essentially 

One's opinion of sin necessarily depends upon his view of good- 
ness, and vice versa. A realistic nature is inclined to conceive of 
sin and goodness as material ; sin in his opinion is a sort of invisi- 
ble bacterium, almost perceptible by a powerful microscope. And 
virtue, goodness, and holiness have equally a tangible, independent 
existence, measurable and apportionable. This is not so. We may 
compare the spiritual to the material. What else is symbolism? 
The Scripture sets the example, comparing sin to a running sore, to 
a fire, etc. ; and goodness to drops of water quenching thirst, becom- 
ing a fountain of living water in the soul. Let symbolism retain 
its honorable place in this respect. But symbolism is the compari- 
son of things fl'/jsimilar, hence their identity is excluded. Sin is not 
something substantial, hence virtue and goodness are not essen- 
tially independent. 

And yet Flacius Illiricus felt that in this respect there was a 
difference between sin and virtue. Evil is unsubstantial, because it 


is the lack, the default of goodness. But goodness is not the lack, 
the default of evil. Loss indicates that which ought to be, but 
which is lacking. Evil never ought to be, hence never can be a 
lack. But regarding goodness the question is different, viz., wheth- 
er goodness as an extraneous and independent element was added 
to the soul, so that it might be said, " Here is the soul, and there is 
goodness." And this can not be. As a ray is unthinkable without 
light, so is goodness without a person from whom it proceeds. 

And this tempted Flacius Illiricus to teach that originally man 
was essentially righteous. Of course he was wrong. What he 
wanted to attribute to man can be attributed to God alone. Good- 
ness is goodness. God is goodness. Goodness is God. In God 
being and goodness are one. There is and can be no difference 
between the two, for God is perfectly good in all respects; hence 
the faintest separation between God and goodness is utterly un- 

God alone is a simple Being; not as Professor Doedes interprets 
in his criticism on the Confession, as tho in God there can be no 
distinction in perso7is, but that in God there can be no distinction 
of essence, as between Himself and His attributes. But this is not 
so in man. We are not simple, and can not be, in the same sense. 
On the contrary, our being remains, tho all our attributes are 
changed or modified. A man can be good and ought to be, but 
without goodness he remains a man ; his nature becomes comapt, 
but his being remains the same. 

Man's being is either deceitful or truthful, not because his soul 
is inoculated with the matter of falsehood or of truth, but by a 
modification of the quality of his being. Inherent goodness has no 
reference to our being, but only to the mantier of its existence. As 
a joyous or sorrowful expression of countenance is not the result of 
an external application, but of inward joy or sorrow, so is the soul 
either good or bad according to the manner of its standing before 

And this goodness was Adam's direct inheritance from God. 
God alone is the overflowing Fountain of all grace ; Adam never 
wrought a particle of good of himself on the ground of which he 
might have claimed a reward. Eternal life was promised him not 
as a prize or inherent element, but by virtue of the conditions of 
the covenant of works. Just as strongly as we oppose the applica- 
tion to sinless Adam of the conditions of the Covenant of Grace, as 


tho he lived in Christ, so strongly do we oppose the representation 
that any virtue, holiness, or righteousness proceeded from Adam not 
wrought by God in him. To deny this would make sinless Adam 
a little fountain of some good, and oppose the confession that God 
alone is the Fountain of all good. 

Hence we arrive at this conclusion, that in Adam all goodness 
was wrought by the Boly Spirit, according to the holy ordinance 
which assigns to the Third Person in the Trinity the inward oper- 
ation of all rational beings. 

However, this does not imply that before the fall the Holy Spirit 
dwelt in Adam as in His temple, as He does in the regenerated child 
of God. In the latter He can only djvell, since the human nature is 
corrupt and unfit to be His vehicle. But not so with Adam. His 
nature was created and calculated to be a vehicle of the Holy Spirit's 
operations. Hence Adam and the regenerated are similar in this 
respect, that in both there is no goodness not wrought by the Holy 
Spirit ; but dissimilar, in that the latter can offer only his sinful 
heart for the Holy Spirit's indwelling, while Adam's being un- 
derwent His operations without His indwelling, organically and 

Our Death. 

" You who were dead in trespasses 
and sin." — Ephes. ii. i. 

Next in order comes the discussion of death. 

There is sin, which is deviation from and resistance against the 
law. There is guilt, which is withholding from God that which, as 
the Giver and Upholder of that law, is due to Him. But there is 
a.\so punishffiefit, which is the Lawgiver's act of upholding His law 
against the lawbreaker. The Sacred Scripture calls this punish- 
ment " death." 

To understand what death is, we must first ask: " What is life?" 

And the answer in its most general form is : "A thing lives if it 
moves from within." A man found in the street, leaning against a 
wall, perfectly motionless, is supposed to be dead ; but if he turns 
his head, or moves his hand, we know that he is alive. The mo- 
tion, tho almost imperceptible and so feeble that it requires the 
practised fingers of the physician to detect it, is always the sign of 
life. The muscles may be paralyzed, tendons and sinews rigid, yet 
so long as the pulse beats, the heart throbs, and the lungs inhale 
the air, life is not extinct. In the doubtful cases of drowning, 
trance, or paralysis, the doubt is not removed, if removed at all, 
until motion has been observed. Hence we may safely say a body 
lives if it moves from within. 

This can not be said of a clock, for its mechanism lacks inher- 
ent, self-moving power. By winding, energy may be stored in its 
mainspring, but when this is spent the clock stops. But life is not 
a force added to a prepared organism, mechanically and temporar- 
ily, but an energy that inheres in the organism as an organic prin- 

Hence it is plain that the human body has no vital principle in 
itself, but receives it from the soul. The arm is motionless until 
moved by the soul. Even the functions of circulation, breathing, 


and digesting are animated by the soul ; for when the soul leaves 
the body all these functions stop. A body without a soul is a 
corpse. As physical life depends upon the union of body and soul, 
so is physical death the result of the dissolution of that bond. As 
in the beginning God formed the human body out of the dust of the 
earth and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life, so that it be- 
came a living being, so is the dissolving of that bond, which is 
death to the body, an act of God. Death is therefore the removal 
of that wonderful gift, the bond of life. God withdraws the for- 
feited blessing, and the soul departs in separate disembodiment; 
while the body, freed as a corpse, is delivered unto corruption. 

But this does not finish the process of death. Life and death are 
awful opposites, embracing body and soul. " Dying thou shalt die " 
is the divine sentence, which includes the entire person, and not the 
body only. That which possesses creaturely life can also die as a 
creature. Hence the soul, being a creature, can be dispossessed of 
its creaturely life. 

We admit that in another aspect the soul is immortal ; but to pre- 
vent confusion, we beg the reader to put this fact for a moment out 
of his mind. Presently we will return to it. 

Applying our definition of life to the soul as a living creature, it 
follows that the soul lives only when it moves, when acts proceed 
from it, and energies work in it. But its vital principle is not inher- 
ent any more than in the body, but comes from without. Origi- 
nally it was not self-existing, but God gave it an increated vital 
principle and moving power which He sustained and qualified for 
work from moment to moment. In this respect Adam differed from 
us. It is true that in the soul of the regenerated there is a vital 
principle, but the source of its energy is outside of ourselves in 
Christ. There is indwelling, but not interpermeation. The dweller 
and his house are distinct. Hence in the regenerated man life is 
extraneous, its seat is not in himself. But not so in Adam. Altho 
the life-principle energizing the soul proceeded from God, yet it 
was deposited in Adam himself. 

To obtain gas from the city's gas-works is one thing ; to manufac- 
ture it at one's own cost, in one's own establishment, is quite an- 
other. The regenerated child of God receives life directly from 
Christ, who is outside of Him at the right hand of God, through the 
channels of faith; but Adam had the principle of life within him 
from the Fountain of all Good. The Holy Spirit had placed it in 


his soul, and kept it in active operation, not as something extrane- 
ous, but as inherent in and peculiar to his nature. 

If Adam's life originated in the union which God had established 
between his soul and the life-principle of the Holy Spirit, it follows 
that Adam's death resulted from God's act of dissolving that union 
whereby his soul became a corpse. 

But this is not all. When the body dies it does not disappear; 
the process of death does not stop there. As a unit it becomes in- 
capable of organic action, but its constituent parts become capable 
of producing terrible and corrupting effects. Left unburied in a 
house, the poisonous gases of dissolution breed malignant fevers 
and cause death to the inhabitants and the community. After this 
dissolution of flesh and blood, which can not inherit the kingdom of 
God, the body as such continues to exist, with the possibility of 
being reanimated and refashioned into a more glorious body, and 
of being reunited with the soul. 

All this can almost literally be applied to the soul. When a 
I ■' soul dies, i.e., is severed from its life-principle, which is the Holy 
• j Spirit, it becomes perfectly motionless and unable to perform any 
A good work. Some things may remain, like loveliness upon the 
f ! face of the dead ; yet, however lovely, it is useless and unprofitable. 
• And as a dead body is incapable of any act and inclined to all dis- 
solution, so is a dead soul incapable of any good and inclined to all 

But this does not imply that a dead soul is devoid of all activity, 
] any more than a dead body. As the latter contains blood, carbon, 
and lime, so does the former possess will, feeling, intelligence, and 
imagination. And these elements of a dead soul become equally 
\ active with still more terrible effects, which are sometimes fearful 
, to behold. But as the dead body by all its activities can never pro- 
jduce anything to restore its organism, so can the dead soul by all 
its workings accomplish nothing to restore a harmonious utterance 

I before God. All its utterances are sinful, even as the dead body 
emits only offensive odors. 
Yea, the parallel goes still further. A corpse may toe embalmed, 
stuffed with herbs, and encased as a mummy. Its corruption is 
invisible, all unsightliness carefully concealed. So do many men 
i embalm the dead soul, fill it with fragrant herbs, and wrap it like a 
! mummy in a shroud of self-righteousness, so that of the indwelling 
1 corruption scarcely anything appears. But as the Egyptians by 


their embalming never could restore life unto their dead, so can 
these soul-mummies with all their Egyptian arts never kindle one 
spark of life in their dead souls. 

A dead soul is not annihilated, but continues to exist, and by 
divme grace can be reanimated to a new life. It continues to exist 
even more powerfully than the body. The latter is divisible, but 
the soul IS not. Being a unit it can not be divided. Hence soul 
death is not followed by soul-dissolution. It is the poisonous work- 
ing of the soul-elements after death that causes a terrible strain 
creatmg m the indivisible soul a vehement desire for dissolution- 
friction and confusion of elements that cry for harmony and peace' 
violent excitement kindling unholy f^res; but there is no dissolution 
Therefore the soul is called immortal, i.e., it can not be divided nor 
annihilated. It becomes a corpse insusceptible of dissolution in 
which the poisonous gases will continue their pestilential work in 
hell forever. 

But the soul is also susceptible of new quickening and anima- 
tion; dead in trespasses and sin, severed from the life-principle its 
organism motionless, incapable, and unprofitable, corrupt and un- 
done, but-still a human soul. And God, who is merciful and 
gracious, can reestablish the broken bond. The interrupted com- 
munion with the Holy Spirit can be restored, like the broken 
fellowship of body and soul. 

And this quickening of the dead soul is regeneration. 

We close this section with one more remark: The breaking of 
the bond which causes death is not always sudden. Death from 
paralysis is almost instantaneous, from consumption slow. When 
Adam had sinned, death came at once ; but so far as the body was 
concerned, its complete severing from the soul required more than 
nme hundred years. But the soul died at once, died suddenly • the 
bond with the Holy Spirit was severed, and only its raveling 
threads remain active in the feelings of s/iame. 

When we say that soul-death may be less pronounced in one case 
than in another, we do not mean to imply that while the one is 
dead the other is only dying. Nay, both are dead, the soul of each 
is a corpse ; but the one is embalmed as a mummy, and the other is 
in the process of dissolution; or, the conflicting, poisonous, and 
destructive workings in the soul of the one have just commenced 
while m the other they were stimulated and developed by educa- 


tion and other agencies. These differences among different persons 
depend upon the divine grace. 

Dissolution in a body at the North Pole is checked; in a body- 
under the Equator it is rapidly accomplished. In like manner dead 
souls are placed in different atmospheres. Hence the differences. 

UbirD (Tbaptcr. 

What Is It ? 

" We know that we have passed from 
death unto life, because we love 
the brethren. He that loveth not 
his brother abideth in death." — 
\John\\\. 14. 

It is unnecessary to say that the scope of these discussions does 
not include the redemptive work as a whole, which in its choicest 
sense is not of the Holy Spirit alone, but of the Triune God whose 
royal majesty shines and sparkles in it with excellent glory. It 
includes not only the work of the Holy Spirit, but even more that 
of the Father and of the Son. And in these three we see the triune 
activity of the tender mercies of the Triune God. 

These discussions treat only that part of the work which reveals 
the operation of the Holy Spirit, 

The first question in order is that of the so-called " preparatory 
grace." This is a question of surpassing importance, since Method- 
ism * neglects it and modern orthodoxy abuses it, in order to make 
the determining choice in the work of grace once more to depend 
upon man's free will. 

Regarding the principal point, it must be conceded that there is 
a "gratia prieparans," as our old theologians used to call it, i.e., 
a preparatory grace ; not a preparation of grace, but a grace which 
prepares, which is in its preparatory workings real grace, undoubted 
and unadulterated. The Church has always maintained this con- 
fession by its soundest interpreters and noblest confessors. It could 

*See the author's explanation of Methodism, section 5 of the Prefaco. 


not surrender it as long- as God is indeed eternal, unchangeable, 
and omnipresent; but by it must forcibly protest against the untrue 
representation that God lets a man be born and live for years un- 
noticed and independent of Himself, suddenly to convert him at the 
moment of His pleasure, from that hour to make him the object of 
His care and keeping. 

Tho it can not be denied that the sinner shared this delusion — 
because as he cared not for God, why then should God care for him? — 
yet the Church may not encourage him in this ungodly idea. For 
it belittles the divine virtues, glories, and attributes. Heretics of 
every name and origin have made the soul's salvation their chief 
study, but almost always have neglected the knowledge of God. 
And yet every creed begins with : " 1 believe in God the Father 
Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth " ; and the value of all that 
follows concerning Christ and our redemption depends only upon 
the correct interpretation of that first article. Hence the Church 
has always insisted upon a pure and correct knowledge of God in 
every confession and in every part of the redemptive work ; and has 
considered it its principal duty and privilege to guard the purity of 
this knowledge. Even a soul's salvation should not be desired at 
the expense of the slightest injury to the purity of that confession. 

Regarding the work of preparatory grace, it was before all 
things necessary to examine whether the knowledge of God had 
been retained in its purity, or whether to favor the sinner it had 
been distorted and twisted. And tested by this, it can not be de- 
nied that God's care for His elect does not begin at an arbitrary 
moment, but is interwoven with their whole existence, including 
their conception, and even before their conception, with the mys- 
teries of that redeeming love which declares : " I have loved thee 
with an everlasting love." Hence it is unthinkable that God should 
have left a sinner to himself for years, to arrest him at a certain 
moment in the midst of his life. 

Nay, if God is to remain (?^</and His omnipresent power unlim- 
ited, a sinner's salvation must be an eternal work, embracing his 
entire existence — a work whose roots are hidden in the unseen foun- 
dations of the wondrous mercies which extend far beyond his con- 
ception. It can not be denied that a man, converted at twenty-five, 
was during his godless life the subject of the divine labor, care, and 
protection; that in his conception and before his birth God's hand 
held him and brought him forth ; yea, that even in the divine coun- 



sel the work must be traced which God has wrought for him long 
before his conversion. 

The confession of election and foreordination is essentially the 
recognition of a grace active long before the hour of conversion. 
The idea that from eternity God had recorded a mere arbitrary 
name or figure, to quicken it only after many centuries, is truly un- 
godly. Nay. God's elect never stood before His eternal vision as 
mere names or figures; but every soul elect is also foreordained to 
stand before Him in his complete development, the object in Christ 
of God's eternal pleasure. 

Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, which satisfies for the elect, justi- 
fying them by His Resurrection, was not accomplished independ- 
ently of the elect, but included them all. The resurrection is a 
work of the divine Omnipotence, in which God brings back from 
the dead not only Christ without His own, but Christ with His own. 
Hence every saint with clear spiritual vision confesses that his 
heavenly Father performs in him an eternal work, not begun only 
in his conversion, but wrought in the eternal counsel through the 
periods of old and new covenants; in his person all the days of his 
life, and which will work in him throughout eternity. Even in 
this general sense the Church may not neglect to confess prepara- 
tory grace. 

However, the question is narrowed when, excluding what pre- 
cedes our birth, we consider only our sinful life before conversion, 
or the years intervening between the age of discretion and the hour 
when the scales fell from our eyes. 

During those years we departed from God, instead of coming 
more closely to Him. Sin broke out more violently in one than in 
another, but there was iniquity in us all. As often as the plummet 
was let down beside our souls, they appeared out of the perpendic- 
ular. And during this sijifid period, many hold that preparatory 
grace is out of the question. They say, " Where sin is, there can be 
no grace"; hence during those years the Lord leaves the sinner to 
himself, to return to him when sin's bitter fruit shall be ripe enough 
to move him to faith and repentance. They deny not God's gra- 
cious election and foreordination, neither His care for His elect in 
their birth ; but they do deny His preparatory grace during the years 
of alienation, and believe that His grace begins to operate only 
when it breaks forth in their conversion. 

Of course there is some truth in this; there is such a thing as 


the abandoning of the sinner to iniquity, when God lets a man walk 
in his own ways, giving him up unto vile passions to do things that 
are unseemly. But instead of interrupting God's labor upon such 
a soul, the very words of Scripture, " to give them uj,," " to give 
them over" (Rom. i. 24, 28), show that this drifting away upon the 
current of sin is not without God's notice. Men have confessed 
that, if inward sin had not revealed itself, breaking forth in its 
fury, they would never have discovered the inward corruption nor 
have cried to God for mercy. The realization of their guilt and 
the remembrance of their fearful past have been to many saints 
powerful incitements to labor with strong hands and pitying hearts 
for the rescue of those hopelessly lost in the same deadly waters 
from which they had been saved. The remembrance of the deep 
corruption from which they are now delivered has been to many 
the most potent safeguard from fancied self-righteousness, proud 
bearing, and the conceit of being holier than others. Many depths 
of reconciliation and grace have been discovered and sounded only 
by hearts so deeply wounded that, for the covering of their guilt, a 
mere superficial confession of the atoning blood could not suffice. 
How deeply did David fall ; and who ever shouted from mercy's 
depths more jubilantly than he? Who impressed the Church's pure 
confession more profoundly than Augustine, incomparable among 
the Church fathers, who from the abyss of his own guilt and in- 
ward brokenness had learned to gaze upon the firmament of God's 
eternal mercies. Even from this extreme view of man's sinful way 
it can not be affirmed that in that way God's grace was suspended. 
Light and shadow are here necessarily blended. 

And this is not all. Even tho by sin we have forfeited all, and 
the sinful ego, however virtuous outwardly, has tinctured every 
action of life with sin, yet this is not all of life. In the midst of it 
all, life was shaped and developed. The sinner of five-and-twenty 
differs from the child of three, who by his ugly temper plainly 
showed his sinful nature. During all those years the child has be- 
come a man. That which slumbered in him has gradually mani- 
fested itself. Influences have wrought upon him. Knowledge has 
been mastered and increased. Talents have been awakened and 
developed. Memory and remembrance have accumulated treasures 
of experience. However sinful the form, the character has be- 
come settled and some of its traits have adopted definite lines. The 
child has become a man — a person, living, existing, and thinking 

WHAT IS IT? 287 

differently from other persons. And in all this, so confesses the 
Church, was the hand of the Omnipresent and Almighty God. It 
is He who during all these years of resistance has guided and di- 
rected His creature according to His own purpose. 

Sooner or later the Sun of Grace will rise upon him, and, since 
much depends upon the condition in which grace shall find him, it 
is the Lord God Himself who prepares that condition. He prepares 
it by graciously restraining his character from adopting traits which 
would prevent him later on from running his course in the kingdom 
of God, and, on the other hand, by graciously developing in him 
such character and such features as will appear after his conversion 
adapted to the task which God intended for him. 

And so it is evident that even during the time of alienation 
God bestows grace upon His elect. Afterward he will perceive 
how evidently all things have worked together for good, not because 
he intended it so, but in spite of his sinful intentions, and only 
because the protecting grace of God was working in and by and 
through it all. His course might have been altogether different. 
That it is as it is, and not much worse, he owes not to himself, but 
to higher favor. Hence, reviewing his life's dark background, the 
saint thinks at first that it contains but a night of Satanic darkness ; 
later on, being better instructed, he perceives through that dark- 
ness a faint glimmer of divine love. 

In fact, in his life there are three distinct periods of thankful- 

First, immediately after his conversion, when he can think of 
no other reason of thankfulness than the newly found grace. 

Second, when he learns to render thanks also for the grace of his 
eternal election, extending far behind the first grace. 

Lastly, when the darkness between election and conversion be- 
ing dispelled, he thanks God for the preparatory grace which in the 
midst of that darkness watched over his soul. 

What It Is Not. 

•' We are His workmanship." — 
Ephes. u. lo. 

In the preceding article we contended that there is preparatory 
grace. In opposition to the contemporary deism of the Methodists,* 
the Reformed churches ought to confess this excellent truth in all 
its length and breadth. But it should not be abused to reestablish 
the sinner's free will, as the Pelagians did, and the Arrainians after 
them, and as the Ethicals do now, tho differently. 

The Methodist * errs in saying that God does not care for the 
sinner until He suddenly arrests him in his sinful way. Nor may 
we tolerate the opposite error, the denial of regeneration, the new 
starting-point in the life of the sinner, which would make the whole 
work of conversion but an awakening of dormant and suppressed 
energies. There is no gradual transition ; conversion is not merely 
the healing of disease, or an uprising of what had been suppressed ; 
least of all, the arousing of dormant energies. 

As regards his first birth, the child of God was dead, and can be 
brought to life only by a second birth as real as the first. Gener- 
ally the person so favored is not conscious of it. In the nattxre of 
the case, man is unconscious of his first birth. Consciousness comes 
only with the years. And the same applies to regeneration, of 
which he was unconscious until the time of his conversion ; and 
that may be ten or twenty years. 

The grounds upon which the Church confesses that a large ma- 
jority of men are born again be/ore holy Baptism are many indeed; 
wherefore, in Baptism, it addresses the infants of believers as being 


And what do the Semi-Pelagians of all times and shades, and 
the Ethicals of the present time, teach concerning this? They lower 
the first act of God in the sinners to a sort of preparatory grace. 

* See section 5 m Preface. 


imparted not only to the elect, but to all baptized persons. They 
represent it as follows : 

First, all men are conceived and bom in sin; and if God did 
not take the first step, all would perish. 

Second, He imparts to the children bom in the Christian Church 
a sort of assisting grace, relieving inability. 

Third, hence every baptized person has the power to choose or 
reject the offered grace. 

Fourth, wherefore, out of the many who received preparatory 
grace, some choose life and others perish. 

And this is the confession not of Augustine, but of Pelagius ; not 
of Calvin, but of Castellio; not of Gomarus, but of Arminius; not 
of the Reformed churches, but of the sects which they have con- 
demned as heretical. 

This impious lie, which pervades this whole representation, 
must be eradicated ; and the Methodist brethren deserve our strong- 
est support when with holy enthusiasm they oppose this false sys- 
tem. If this representation be true, then the counsel of God has 
lost its certainty and stedfastness; then the Mediator's redemp- 
tive work is uncertain in its application ; then our passing from 
death unto life depends in the end upon our own will ; and the child 
of God is robbed of all his comfort in life and death, since his new 
life may be lost. 

It does not avail the Ethical theologians when under many beau- 
tiful forms they confess their belief in an eternal election, and that 
grace can not be lost, and in the perseverance of saints. As long 
as they do not purge themselves of their principal error — viz., that 
in Baptism God so relieves the inability of the sinner that he can 
choose life of himself — they do not stand on the basis of the Re- 
formed churches, but are directly opposed to it. Nor will they be 
counted as children of the Reformed household of faith until, with- 
out any subterfuge, they confess definitely that preparatory grace 
does not operate at all, except upon persons who will surely come 
to life, and who will never be lost again. To suppose that this 
grace can work in a man without saving him to the uttermost is to 
break with the doctrine of Scripture and to turn the back upon a 
vital feature of the Reformed churches. We do not deny that many 
persons are lost in whom many excellent powers have wrought. The 
apostle teaches this very clearly in Heb. vi. : " They may have 
tasted of the heavenly gift." But between God's work upon them 


and that in His e/ect is a great gulf. The workings in these non- 
elect have nothing in common with saving grace ; hence prepara- 
tory grace, as well as saving grace, is altogether out of the ques- 
tion. Surely there is preparatory grace, but only for the elect who 
will certainly come to life, and who being once quickened will re- 
main so. The fatal doctrine of three conditions — viz., that (i) of 
the spiritually dead, (2) of the spiritually living, and (3) of men 
hovering between life and death — must be abandoned. The spread 
of this doctrine in our churches will surely destroy their spiritual 
character, as it has done in the ancient Huguenot churches of 
France. Life and death are absolute opposites, and a third state 
between them is unthinkable. He that is scarcely alive belongs to 
the living; and he that has just died belongs to the dead. One 
apparently dead is living, and he that is apparently living is dead. 
The boundary-line is a hair's breadth, and a state between does not 
exist. This applies to the spiritual condition. One lives, altho he 
has received no more than the vital germ, and still wanders uncon- 
verted in the ways of sin. And he is dead, tho tasting the heavenly 
gift, so long as life is not rekindled in his soul. Every other repre- 
sentation is false. 

Others advance the view that preparatory grace prepares not 
for the reception of life, but for conversion. And this is just as 
pernicious. For then the soul's salvation depends not upon re- 
generation, but upon conversion ; and this makes the salvation of 
our deceased infants impossible. Nay, standing by the graves of 
our baptized young children, confident of their salvation through 
the one Name given under heaven, we reject the teaching that sal- 
vation depends upon conversion ; but confess that it is effected by 
the divine act of creating in us a new life, which sooner or later 
manifests itself in conversion. 

Preparatory grace always precedes the new life ; hence it ceases 
even before holy Baptism, in infants quickened before being bap- 
tized. Hence in a more limited sense, preparatory grace operates 
only in persons quickened later on in life, shortly before conversion. 
For the sinner once quickened has received grace, i.e., the germ of 
all grace ; and that which exists can not be prepared. 

A third error, on this point, is the representation that certain 
moods and dispositions must be prepared in the sinner before God 


can quicken him ; as tho quickening grace were conditioned upon 
preparatory grace. The salvation of our deceased infants opposes 
this also. There were no moods or dispositions in them ; yet no 
theologian will say that they are lost, or that they are saved by an- 
other name than the One in whom adults find salvation. No; the 
sinner needs nothing whatever to predispose him for the implanting 
of the new life ; and, tho he were the most hardened sinner, devoid 
of every predisposition, God is able at His own time to quicken 
him. The omnipotence of divine grace is unlimited. 

The implanting of the new life is not a moral, but a metaphysical 
act of God— />., He does not effect it by admonishing the sinner, 
but independently of his will and consciousness ; yet despite his 
will. He plants something in him whereby his nature obtains an- 
other quality. 

Even the representation, still maintained by some of our best 
theologians, that preparatory grace is like the drying of wet wood, 
so that the spark can more readily ignite it, we can not adopt. 
Wet wood will not take the spark. It must be dried before it ca7i be 
kindled. And this does not apply to the work of grace. The dis- 
position of our souls is immaterial. Whatever it may be, omnipo- 
tent grace can kindle it. And, tho we do not undervalue disposi- 
tions, yet we do not concede to them the potentiality of kindling. 

For this reason the theologians of the flourishing period of our 
churches insisted that preparatory grace should not be treated 
loosely, but in the following order: "The g^ace of God first pre- 
cedes, then prepares, and IsiStly performs {prcevem'ens, prceparans, ope- 
rans)—i.e., grace is always first, never waits for anything in us, but 
begins its work before there is anything in us. Second, the time 
before our quickening is not wasted, but during it grace prepares 
us for our lifework in the kingdom. Third, at the appointed time 
grace alone quickens us unaided ; hence, grace is the operans, the 
real worker. Hence preparatory grace must never be under- 
stood as a means to prepare for the impartation of life. Nothing 
prepares for such quickening. Life is enkindled, wholly unpre- 
pared, not from anything in us, but entirely by the working of God. 
All that preparatory grace accomplishes is this, that God by it so 
disposes our life, arranges its course, and directs our development 
that being quickened by His exclusive act, we shall possess the dis- 
position required for the task assigned to us in the kingdom. 


Our person is like the field wherein the sower is to scatter the 
seed. Suppose there are two fields in which the seed must be 
sown; the one has been plowed, fertilized, harrowed, and cleared 
of stones, while the other lies fallow, uncared for. What is the 
result? Does the former produce wheat of itself? By no means ; 
tho the furrows were never so deep and the ground never so rich 
and smooth, if it receives no seed-grain it will never yield a single 
ear. And the other, not cultivated, will surely germinate the seed 
scattered therein. The origin of the wheat sown has no connection 
with the cultivation of the field, since the seed-grain is conveyed 
thither from elsewhere. But to the growth of the wheat, cultivation 
is of greatest importance. And so it is in the spiritual kingdom. 
Whether great or small, preparatory grace contributes nothing to 
the origin of life, which springs from the " incorruptible seed" sown 
in the heart. But to its developmeiit it is of greatest importance. 

This is why the Reformed churches so strongly insist upon the 
careful training of our children. For, altho we confess that all our 
training can not create the least spark of heavenly fire, yet we know 
that when God puts that spark into their hearts, kindling the new 
life, much will depend upon the condition in which it finds them. 

jFourtb Cbapter. 

Old and New Terminology. 

" That which is born of the flesh is 
flesh."— :/(?>^« iii. 6. 

Before we examine the work of the Holy Spirit in this impor- 
tant matter, we must first define the use of words. 

The word " regeneration " is used in a limited sense, and in a more 
extended sense. 

It is used in the ti'/nited sense when it denotes exclusively God's 
act of quickeni7ig, which is the first divine act whereby God trans- 
lates us from death into life, from the kingdom of darkness into the 
kingdom of His dear Son. In this sense regeneration is the start- 
ing-point. God comes to one born in iniquity and dead in trespasses 
and sins, and plants the principle of a new spiritual life in his soul. 
Hence he is born again. 

But this is not the interpretation of the Confession of Faith, 
for article 24 reads : " We believe that this true faith, being 
wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God and the opera- 
tion of the Holy Ghost, doth regenerate and make him a new man, 
causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of 
sin." Here the word " regeneration," used in its ivider sense, denotes 
the entire change by grace effected in our persons, ending in our 
dying to sin in death and our being born for heaven. While for- 
merly this was the usual sense of the word, we are accustomed now 
to the limited sense, which we therefore adopt in this discussion. 

Respecting the difference between the two — formerly the work 
of grace was generally represented as the soul consciously observed 
it ; while now the work itself is described apart frotn the conscious- 


Of course, a child knows nothing of the genesis of his own exist- 
ence, nor of the first period of his life, from his own observation. If 
he were to tell his history from his own recollections, he would be- 
gin with the time that he sat in his high chair, and proceed until 
as a man he went out into the world. But, being informed by oth- 
ers of his antecedents, he goes back of his recollections and speaks 
of his parents, family, time, and place of birth, how he grew up, 
etc. Hence there is quite a difference between the two accounts. 

The same difference we observe in the subject before us. For- 
merly it was customary, after the manner of Romish scholastics, to 
describe one's experience from one's own recollections. Being per- 
sonally ignorant of the implanting of the new life, and remember- 
ing only the great spiritual disturbance, which led one to faith and 
repentance, it was natural to date the beginning of the work of 
grace not from regeneration, but from the conviction of sin and 
faith, thence proceeding to sanctification, and so on. 

But this subjective representation, more or less incomplete, can 
not satisfy us now. It was to be expected that the supporters of 
" free will " would abuse it, by inferring that the origin and first 
activities of the work of salvation spring from man himself. A 
sinner, hearing the Word, is deeply impressed; persuaded by its 
threats and promises, he repents, arises, and accepts the Savior. 
Hence there is nothing more than a mere moral persuasion, obscur- 
ing the glorious origin of the new life. To resist this repulsive 
deforming of the truth, Maccovius, already in the days of the Synod 
of Dort, abandoned this more or less critical method to make re- 
generation the starting-point. He followed this order : " Knowl- 
edge of sin, redemption in Christ, regeneration, and only then faith." 
And this was consistent with the development of the Reformed doc- 
trine. For as soon as the subjective method was abandoned, it be- 
came necessary in answer to the question, " What has God wrought 
in the soul?" to return to ih.Q first implanting of life. And then it 
became evident that God did not begin by leading the sinner to re- 
pentance, for repentance must be preceded by conviction of sin ; 
nor by bringing him under the hearing of the word, for this re- 
quires an opened ear. Hence the first conscious and comparatively 
cooperative act of man is zX^a^y^ preceded by the original act of God, 
planting in him the first principle of a new life, under which act 
man is wholly passive and unconscious. 

This led to the distinction of ih& first and second grace. The 


former denoted God's work in the sinner, creating a new life with- 
out his knowledge ; while the latter denoted the work wrought in 
regenerate man with his full knowledge and consent. 

The first grace was naturally called regeneration. And yet 
there was no perfect unanimity in this respect. Some Scottish 
theologians put it in this way : " God began the work of grace with 
the implanting of the faith-faculty {fides potentialis), followed by 
the new grace of the faith-exercise {fides actualis), and of the faith- 
power {fides habitualis). Yet it is only an apparent difference. 
Whether I call the first activity of grace, the implanting of the 
" faith- faculty " or the " new principle of life" in both instances it 
means that the work of grace does not begin with faith or with re- 
pentance or contrition, but that these are preceded by God's act of 
giving power to the powerless, hearing to the deaf, and life to the 

For a correct idea of the entire work of grace in its different 
phases let us notice the following successive stages or milestones : 

1. The ifnplanting of the new life-principle, commonly called re- 
generation in the limited sense, or the implanting of the faith-/ar- 
ulty. This divine act is wrought in man at different ages ; when, 
no one can tell. We know from the instance of John the Baptist 
that it can be wrought even in the mother's womb. And the salva- 
tion of deceased infants constrains us, with Voetius and all profound 
theologians, to believe that this original act may occur very early 
in life. 

2. The keeping of the implanted principle of life, while the sinner 
Still continues in sin, so far as his consciousness is concerned. Per- 
sons who received the life-principle early in life arc no more dead, 
but live. Dying before actual conversion, they are not lost, but 
saved. In early life they often manifest holy inclinations, some- 
times truly marvelous. However, they have no conscious faith, 
nor knowledge of the treasure possessed. The new life is present, 
but dormant; kept not by the recipient, but by the Giver — like 
seed-grain in the ground in winter; like the spark glowing under 
the ashes, but not kindling the wood; like a subterranean stream 
coming at last to the surface. 

3. The call by the Word and the Spirit, internal and external. 
Even this is a divino act, commonly performed through the service 
of the Church. It addresses itself not to the deaf but to the hear- 


ing, not to the dead but to the living, altho still slumbering. It 
proceeds from the Word and the Spirit, because not only the faith- 
f acuity, but faith itself — i.e., X\iq pmver and exercise of the faculty— 
are gifts of grace. The faith-faculty can not exercise faith of it- 
self. It avails us no more than the faculty of breathing when air 
and the power to breathe are withheld. Hence the preaching of 
the Word and the inward working of the Holy Spirit are divine, 
correspondent operations. Under the preaching of the Word the 
Spirit energizes the i^x'Ca-f acuity, and thus the call becomes effec- 
tual, for the sleeper arises. 

4. This call of God produces conviction of sin and Justification, 
two acts of the same exercise of faith. In this, God's work may be 
represented again either subjectively or objectively. Subjectively, 
it seems to the saint that conviction of sin and heart-brokenness 
came first, and that then he obtained the sense of being justified by 
faith. Objectively, this is not so. The realization of his lost con- 
dition was already a bold act of faith. And by every subsequent 
act of faith he becomes more deeply convinced of his misery and 
receives more abundantly from the fulness which is in Christ, his 

Concerning the question, whether conviction of sin must not 
precede faith, there need be no difference. Both representations 
amount to the same thing. When a man can say for the first time 
in his life " I believe," he is at the same moment completely lost and 
completely saved, being justified in his Lord. 

5. This exercise of faith results in conversion; at this stage in 
the way of grace the child of God becomes clearly conscious of the 
implanted life. When a man says and feels " I believe," and does 
not recall it, but God confirms it, faith is at once followed by con- 
version. The implanting of the new life precedes the first act of 
faith, but conversion follows it. Conversion does not become a fact 
so long as the sinner only sees his lost condition, but when he acts 
upon this principle; for then the old man begins to die and the new 
man begins to rise, and these are the two parts of all real conver- 

In principle man is converted but once, viz., the moment of yield- 
ing himself to Immanuel. After that he converts himself daily, i.e., 
as often as he discovers conflict between his will and that of the 
Holy Spirit. And ven this is not man's work, but the work of 
God in him. " Turn Thou me, O Lord, and I shall be turned." 


There is this difference, however, that in regeneration and faith's 
first exercise he \fa.s passive, while in conversion grace enabled him 
to be active. One is converted and one converts himself; the one is 
incomplete without the other. 

6. Hence conversion merges itself in sanctification. This is also 
a divine act, and not human ; not a growing toward Christ, but an 
absorbing of His life through the roots of faith. In children of 
twelve or thirteen deceased soon after conversion, sanctification 
does not appear. Yet they partake of it just as much as adults. 
Sanctification has a twofold meaning:/-;-^/, sanctification vihich as 
Christ's finished work is given and imputed to all the elect ; and 
second, sanctification which from Christ is gradually wrought in the 
converted and manifested according to times and circumstances. 
These are not two sanctifications, but one; just as we speak some- 
times of the rain that accumulates in the clouds above and then 
comes down in drops on the thirsty fields IjcIow. 

7. Sanctification is finished and closed in the complete redemp- 
tion at the time of death. In the severing of body and soul divine 
grace completes the dying to sin. Hence in death a work of grace 
is performed which imparts to the work of regeneration its fullest 
unfolding. If until then, considering ourselves out of Christ, we 
are still lost in ourselves and lying in the midst of death, the arti- 
cle of death ends all this. Then faith is turned into sight, sin's 
excitement is disarmed, and we are forever beyond its reach. 

^ Lastly, our glorification in the last day, when the inward bliss 
will be manifest in outward glory, and by an act of omnipotent 
grace the soul will be reunited with its glorified body, and be 
placed in such heavenly glory as becomes the state of perfect 

This shows how the operations of grace are riveted together as 
the links of a chain. The work of grace must begin with quickening 
the dead. Once implanted, the still slumbering life must be awa- 
kened by the call. Thus awakened, man finds himself in a new life. 
i.e., he knows \i\ms^\i justified Being justified, he lets the new life 
result in conversion. Conversion flows into sanctification. Sanctifi- 
cation receives its keystone through the sneering of sin in death. 
And in the last ^ors , glorification completes the work of divine grace 
in our entire person. 

Hence it follows that that which succeeds is contained in that 


which precedes. A regenerate deceased infant died to sin in death 
just as surely as the man with hoary head and fourscore years. 
There can be no first without including the second and last. Hence 
the entire work of grace might be represented as one birth for 
heaven, one continued regeneration to be completed in the last day. 

"Wherefore there may be persons ignorant of these stages, 
which are as indispensable as milestones to the surveyor ; but they 
may never be made to oppress the souls of the simple. He who 
breathes deeply unconscious of his lungs is often the healthiest. 

Touching the question whether the Scripture gives reference to 
this arrangement over the old, we refer to the word of Jesus: " Ex- 
cept a man be bom of water and the Spirit he can not see the king- 
dom of God"; from which we infer that Jesus dates every operation 
of grace from regeneration. First life, and then the activity of life. 

Its Course. 

" No man can come unto Me, ex- 
cept the Father draw him."— 
John vi. 44. 

From the preceding it is evident that preparatory grace is differ- 
ent in different persons: and that distinction must be made between 
the many regenerated in the first days of life, and the few bom 
again at a more advanced age. 

Of course, we refer only to the elect. In the non-elect saving 
grace does not operate; hence preparatory grace is altogether out 
of the question. The former are born, with few exceptions, in the 
Church. They do not enter the covenant of grace later on in life, 
but they belong to it from the first moment of their existence' 
They spring from the seed of the Church, and in turn contain in 
themselves the seed of the future Church. And for this reason 
the first germ of the new life is imparted to the seed of the Church 
(which is, alas! always mixed with much chaff) oftenest either be- 
fore or soon after birth. 

The Reformed Church was so firmly settled in this doctrine that 
she dared establish it as the prevailing rule, believing that the seed 
of the Church (not the chaff of course) received the germ of life 
even before Baptism, wherefore it is actually sanctified in Christ 
already; and receives in Baptism the seal not upon something that 
IS yet to come, but upon that which is already present. Hence the 
liturgical question to the parents : " Do you acknowledge that, altho 
your children are conceived and born in sin, and therefore are sub- 
ject to condemnation itself, yet that they are sanctified in Christ 
and therefore as members of His Church ought to be baptized?" 

In subsequent periods, less stedfast in the faith, men have 
shunned this doctrine, not knowing what to make of the words " are 
sanctified." This they interpreted to mean that as children of 
members of the covenant they were counted ^^ belonging to the cov- 
enant, and as such were entitled to baptism. But the earnest and 


sound common sense of our people has always felt that this mere 
" counting in " did not do justice to the full and rich meaning of the 

And if you should inquire into the meaning of these words of the 
office of Baptism, " are sanctified," not of the weaker epigones, but 
of the energetic generation of heroes who have victoriously fought 
the Lord's battles against Arminius and his followers, then you 
would discover that those godly and learned theologians, such as 
Gysbrecht Voetius for instance, never for a moment hesitated to 
break with these half-way explanations, but spoke out plainly, say- 
ing : " They are entitled to Baptism not because they are counted as 
members of the covenant, but because as a rule they actually already 
possess the first grace ; and for this reason, and this reason alone, it 
reads : ' That our children are sanctified in Christ, and therefore as 
members of His body ought to be baptized. 

By this confession the Reformed Church proved to be in accord 
with God's Word and not less with the actual facts. With few ex- 
ceptions, persons who afterward prove to belong to the regenerate 
do not begin life with riotous outbreaks of sin. It is rather the rule 
that children of Christian parents manifest from early childhood a 
desire and taste for holy things, warm zeal for the name of God, 
and inward emotions that can not be attributed to an evil nature. 

Moreover, this glorious confession gave the right direction to the 
education of children in our Reformed families, largely retained to 
the present time. Our people did not see in their children off- 
shoots of the wild vine, to be grafted perhaps later on, with whom 
little could be done until converted after the manner of Method- 
ism ; * but they lived in the quiet expectation and holy confidence 
that the child to be trained was already grafted, and therefore 
worthy to be nursed with tenderest care. We admit that, latterly, 
since the Reformed character of our churches has been impaired 
by the National Church as a church for the masses, this gold has 
been sadly dimmed; but its original, vital thought was beautiful 
and animating. It made God's work of regeneration precede man's 
work; to Baptism it gave its rich development; and it made the 
work of education, not dependent on chance, cooperate with God. 

* For the sense in which the author takes Methodism, see section 5 in the 


Hence we recognize among the rising generation in the Church 
four classes : 

1. All elect persons regenerated before Baptism, in whom the im- 
planted life remains hidden until they are converted at a later age. 

2. Elect persons, not only regenerated in infancy, but in whom 
the implanted life was early manifested and ripened imperceptibly 
into conversion. 

3. Elect persons bom again; and converted in later life. 

4. The non-elect, or the chaff. 

Examining each of these four, with special reference to prepara- 
tory grace, we arrive at the following conclusions : 

Regarding the elect of the first class, from the very nature of 
the case preparatory grace has scarcely room here, in its limited 
sense. In its direct form, it is unthinkable with reference to an un- 
born or new-born child. In such it is only indirect — i.e., frequently 
it pleases God to give such child parents whose persons and natures 
practise a form of sin less outspoken in its war upon grace than 
other forms of sin. Not as tho such parents had anything from 
which the child could be grafted, for that which is born of the flesh 
is flesh ; nothing clean from the unclean ; it is always the wild vine 
waiting for the grafting of the Lord. Nay, the preparatory grace 
in this case appears from the fact that the child receives from its 
parents a form of life adapted to its heavenly calling. 

The same applies to the elect of the second class. Altho we con- 
cede that the divine call works upon such during their tender years, 
yet, while it prepares for conversion, it does not prepare for regen- 
eration, which it follows. The call is ineffectual unless the faculty 
of hearing be first implanted. Only he that has an ear can hear 
what the Spirit saith unto the churches and to his own soul. 
Hence, in this case, preparatory grace is scarcely perceptible. 
Surely there are many agencies that imperceptibly prepare for his 
conversion ; but this is different from a preparing for regeneration, 
and we speak now only of the latter. 

Properly speaking, preparatory grace in its limited sense is ap- 
plied only to the third class of elect persons. It comprehends their 
whole life with all its turns and changes, relations and connections, 
heights and depths, events and adversities. Not as tho all these 
could produce the slightest germ of life or possibility of quicken- 
ing. No ; the germ of life can never spring from preparatory grace, 


any more than the preparation of ten cradles, of a dozen of clothes- 
baskets, and of closets full of expensive infant-garments can ever 
juggle a single infant into any of those cradles. The vital spark is 
produced only by an act of the mighty God, independent of all 
preparation. But, from its birth, God guards that wild vine and 
controls the grovi^th of its wild shoots, so that in the hour of His 
pleasure, when He shall graft upon it the true vine, it may be all 
that it ought to be. 

And this ends the discussion, for regarding the fourth class, by 
and by they will be separated from the wheat and blown away by 
the fan which is in His hand ; hence preparatory grace is out of the 

And from this it is evident that the proper work of the Holy 
Spirit regarding preparatory grace is scarcely perceptible. 

Every feature of this work, so far presented, points directly not 
to the operation of the Holy Spirit, nor to that of the Son, but al- 
most exclusively to that of the Father. For the circumstances of 
the child's birth — i.e., the hereditary character of his family and 
more especially of his parents, and the future course of his life until 
the moment of his conversion — belong to the realm of the divine 
Providence. The appointed place of our habitation, our gene- 
ration and family, the formation of our immediate environment, 
the influences previously determined to affect us — all belong to the 
leadings of God's providence, ascribed by Scripture to the work of 
the Father. The Lord Jesus said : " No man can come unto Me, 
except the Father draw him." And altho this drawing of the Father 
has a higher aim and must be spiritually understood, yet it indi- 
cates generally that the determining of those things, which after- 
ward regulates their direction and course, is attributed particularly 
to the First Person. 

We notice a work of the Holy Spirit in this matter only as far 
as He animates all personal life, since He is the Spirit of Life; and 
as He cooperates with the Father in that special providence which 
refers to the elect. For, altho in our mind we can analyze the work 
of g^ace, yet we may never forget that the eternal reality does not 
fully correspond to this part of our analysis. 

Hence, in the elect, the work of providence and that of grace 
often flow together, being one and the same. Our Church has tried 
to express this, in her confession of a general providence which in- 


eludes all things and all persons, and a special providence which 
works only in the lives of God's elect. When thus the operations 
of Providence adopt a special character regarding the elect but not 
yet regenerate persons, the Holy Spirit cooperates with the Father 
and the Son to carry out the counsels of God's will concerning 

And this closes the discussion of preparatory grace, and we now 
proceed to discuss regeneration proper. We might speak of the 
grace that flows from regeneration and prepares the way for con- 
version, but this would ifn^roperly be called preparatory grace. 
All that which aims at the awakening of the life still slumbering 
in the regenerate soul is not preparatory grace, but belongs to 
the " call." And altho we would not absolutely condemn the use of 
the word in that sense, yet neither would we encourage it by our 
own example. 

Let us recapitulate. Physical life is the result of the union of 
body and soul; the dissolution of this union is physical death, 
which will be abolished only when body and soul are reunited. 
The same applies to things spiritual. Spiritual life results from a 
union between the soul and the life-principle of the Holy Spirit. 
Hence sin which annihilates this union causes death. This death 
can not be overcome until it please the Lord to reunite the soul 
with the Spirit's life-principle. 

Everything that precedes this reunion is preparatory grace. That 
which effects it is WiQ first grace- —i.e., working grace, saving grace, 
but no longer preparatory grace. When the Holy Spirit begins His 
work of effecting this union, preparatory grace ceases; hence it 
does not belong to the proper work of the Holy Spirit. 

Regeneration the Work of God. 

" The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, 
the Lord bath even made both of 
them." — Prov. xx. 12. 

" The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath even made 
both of them." This testimony of the Holy Spirit contains the 
whole mystery of regeiieration. 

An unregenerate person is deaf and blind ; not only as a stock 
or block, but worse. For neither stock nor block is corrupt or 
ruined, but an unregenerate person is wholly dead and a prey to 
the most fearful dissolution. 

This rigid, uncompromising, and absolute confession must be 
our starting-point in this discussion, else we shall fail to understand 
the claims of regeneration. This is the reason why every heresy 
that has conceded in one way or other that man has a share, most 
generally a lion's share, in the work of redemption, has always be- 
gun by calling in question the nature of sin. " Undoubtedly," they 
said, " sin is very bad — a terrible and abominable evil ; but there is 
surely some remnant of good in man. That noble, virtuous, and 
amiable being, man, can not be dead in trespasses and sin. That 
may be true of some scoundrel or knave behind the bars, or of 
robbers and unscrupulous murderers; but really, it can not be ap- 
plied to our honorable ladies and gentlemen, to our lovely girls, 
roguish boys, and attractive children. These are not prone to hate 
God and their neighbors, but disposed, with all their heart, to love 
all men, and render unto God the reverence due unto Him." 

Therefore away with all ambiguity in this matter! This meth- 
od of smoothing over unpalatable truths, now so much in vogue 
among the affable people, we can not indorse. Our confession is, 
and ever shall be, that by nature man is dead in trespasses and sin, 
lying under the curse, ripe for the just judgment of God, and still 
ripening for an eternal condemnation. Surely his being, as man, 
is unimpaired; wherefore we protest against the presentation that 


the sinner is in this respect as a stock or block. No; as man he is 
unimpaired, his being is intact; but his nature is corrupt, and in 
that corrupt nature he is dead. 

We compare him to the body of a person who has died of an 
ordinary disease. Such a body retains all the members of the hu- 
man organism intact. There is the eye with its muscles, and the 
ear with its organs of hearing; in the post-mortem examination 
heart, spleen, liver, and kidneys appear to be perfectly normal. A 
dead body may sometimes appear so natural that one is tempted to 
say : " He is not dead, but sleeping." And yet, however perfect and 
natural, its nature is corrupt with the corruption of death. And 
the same is true of the sinner. His beirig remains intact and whole, 
containing all that which constitutes a man ; but his nature is cor- 
rupt, yea, so corrupt that he is dead ; not only apparently, but actu- 
ally dead ; dead in all the variations which can be played upon the 
term "dead." 

Hence without regeneration the sinner is utterly unprofitable. 
What is the use of an ear except it hear, or of an eye except it see? 
Therefore the Holy Ghost testifies : " The hearing ear and the see- 
ing eye, the Lord has made even both of them." And since in the 
world of spiritual things deaf ears and blind eyes do not avail any- 
thing, the Church of Christ confesses that every operation of sa- 
ving grace must be preceded by a quickening of the sinner, by an 
opening of blind eyes, an unstopping of deaf ears — in short, by the 
implanting of the faculty of faith. 

And as the man that sat in darkness can see as soon as his eyes 
are opened, so we, without moving a hair's breadth, are translated 
from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. " Trans- 
lated" does not denote here an actual going, nor does " to be trans- 
lated " denote an actual change of place, but simply life entering 
into the dead, so that he that was blind can now see. 

This wonderful act of regeneration may be examined in two 
classes of persons: in the infant and in the adult. 

It is the safest way to examine it in the infant: not because this 
work of grace is different in an infant from what it is in an adult, 
for it is the same in all persons thus favored ; but to the conscious 
observation of an adult the workings of regeneration are so mingled 
with those of conversion that it is difficult to distinguish the two. 

But this difiiculty does not exist in the case of an unconscious 


child, as, e.g., in John the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Such in- 
fant has no consciousness to create confusion. The matter appears in 
a pure and unmixed form. And thus we are enabled to distinguish 
between regeneration and conversion in an adult. It is evident 
that in the case of an infant which, like John, is still unborn, there 
can be nothing but mere passivity — i.e., the child underwent some- 
thing, but himself did 7iothing j something was done to him, and in 
him, but not by him ; and every idea of cooperation is absolutely 

Hence, in regeneration, man is neither worker nor coworker j he 
is merely wrought upon; and the only Worker in this matter is 
God. And, for this very reason, because God is the sole Worker in 
regeneration, it must be thoroughly understood that His work does 
not begin only with regeneration. 

No; while the sinner is still dead in trespasses and sins, before 
the work of God has begun in him, he is already chosen and or- 
dained, justified and sanctified, adopted as God's child and glori- 
fied. This is what filled St. Paul with such ecstasy of joy when he 
said: " For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate ; and 
whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He 
called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also 
glorified " (Rom. viii. 29, 30), And this is not the recital of what 
took place in the regenerate, but the glad summing up of the 
things which God accomplished for us before we existed. Hence 
our election, foreordination, justification, and glorification precede 
the new birth. It is truo that, in the hour of love when regenera- 
tion was to be effected in us, the things accomplished outside of our 
consciousness were to be revealed to the consciousness of faith ; 
but so far as God was concerned all things were ready and pre- 
pared. The dead sinner whom God regenerates is to the divine 
consciousness a beloved, elect, justified, and adopted child already. 
God quickens only His dear children. 

Of course, God justifies the ungodly and not the righteous; He 
Q.aS\^ sinners \.o repentance and not just persons; but it should be 
remembered that this is spoken from the point of view of our own 
consciousness of sin. The still unregenerate does not feel himself 
God's child, nor that he is justified; does not believe his own elec- 
tion, yea, often gainsays it; yet he can not alter the things divinely 
wrought in his behalf, viz., that before the supreme bar of justice 
God declared him just and free, long before he was so declared 


before the bar of his own conscience. Long before he believed, he 
was justified before God's tribunal, by and by to be justified by 
faith before his own consciousness. 

But, however wonderful and unfathomable the mystery of elec- 
tion may be — and none of us shall ever be able to answer the ques- 
tion why one was chosen to be a vessel of honor, and another was 
left as a vessel of wrath— in the matter of regeneration we do not 
face that mystery at all. That God regenerates one and not anoth- 
er is according to a fixed and unalterable rule. He comes with 
regeneration to all the elect; and the non-elect He passes by. 
Hence this act of God is irresistible. No man has the power to say, 
" I will not be born again," or to prevent God's work or to put obsta- 
cles in His way, or to make it so difficult that it can not be per- 

God effects this gracious work in His own way, i.e.. He so roy- 
ally perseveres that all creatures together could not rob Him of one 
of His elect. If all men and devils should conspire to pluck a bru- 
tal man, belonging to the elect, from His saving power, all their 
efforts would be mere vanity. As we brush away a spider's web, 
so would God laugh at all their commotion. The powerful steam 
borer pierces the iron plate not more noiselessly and with less effort 
than silently and majestically God penetrates the heart of whomso- 
ever He will, and changes the nature of His chosen. Isaiah's word 
concerning the starry heavens — " Lift up your eyes on high, and be- 
hold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their hosts by 
number; He calleth them all by name, by the greatness of His 
might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth" — may be ap- 
plied to the firmament in which God's elect shine as stars : " Because 
of the greatness of His might, and that He is strong in power, not 
one faileth." All that are ordained to eternal life are quickened at 
the divinely appointed hour.- 

And this implies that the work of regeneration is not a moral 
work; that is, it is not accomplished by means of advice or exhor- 
tation. Even taken in its wider sense, including conversion, as, 
e.g., the canons of Dort use it now and then, regeneration is not a 
moral working in the soul. 

It is not simply a case of misunderstanding, the sinner's will 
being still uncorrupt, so that it requires only instruction and ad- 
vice to induce it to choose rightly. No ; such advice and admoni- 


tion are wholly out of the question regarding the unborn son of 
Zacharias; and the thousands of infants of believing parents, of 
whom at Dort it was correctly confessed that they may be sup- 
posed to have died in the Lord, i.e., being born again; and regard- 
ing those regenerated before Baptism but converted later in life. 

For this reason it is so necessary to examine regeneration (in its 
limited sense) in an infant, and not in an adult, in whom it neces- 
sarily includes conversion. 

The following reasoning can not be disputed : 

1. All men, infants included, are born dead in trespasses and 

2. Of these infants many die before they come to self-conscious- 

3. Of these gathered flowers the Church confesses that many 
are saved. 

4. Being dead in sin, they can not be saved without being born 

5. Hence regeneration does actually take place in persons that 
are not self-conscious. 

These statements being indisputable, it is evident, therefore, 
that the nature and character of regeneration can be determined 
most correctly by examining it in these still unconscious persons. 

Such an unborn infant is totally ignorant of human language ; it 
has no ideas, has never heard the Gospel preached, can not receive 
instruction, warning, or exhortation. Hence moral influence is 
out of the question ; and this convinces us that regeneration is not 
a moral, but a metaphysical act of God, just as much as the crea- 
tion of the soul of an unborn child, which is effected independently 
of the mother. God regenerates a man wholly without his fore- 

What it is that constitutes the act of regeneration can not be told. 
Jesus Himself tells us so, for He says: "The wind bloweth where 
it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell 
whence it cometh and whither it goeth ; so is every one that is bom 
of the Spirit." And, therefore, it is befitting to investigate this 
mystery with the utmost discretion. Even in the natural kingdom 
the mystery of life and its origin is almost entirely beyond our 
knowledge. The most learned physician is entirely ignorant con- 
cerning the manner in which a human life comes into existence. 


Once existing, he can explain its development, but of the inception 
that precedes all else he knows absolutely nothing. In this respect 
he is just as ignorant as the most innocent peasant boy. The mys- 
tery can not be penetrated, simply because it lies beyond our obser- 
vation ; it is perceptible only that life exists. 

And this applies in stronger sense to the mystery of our second 
birth. Post-mortem examination can detect the embryo and its 
locality, but spiritually even this is impossible. Subsequent mani- 
festations are instructive to a certain extent, but even then much is 
uncertain and unsettled. By what infallible standard can it be de- 
termined how much of the old nature enters into the expressions 
of the new life? Is there no hypocrisy? Are there no conditions 
unexplained? Are there no obstacles to spiritual development? 
Hence experience in this respect can not avail; tho pure and sim- 
ple, it can reveal only the development of that which is, and not 
the origin of life unborn. 

The only source of truth on this subject is the "Word of God; 
and in that Word the mystery remains not only unrevealed, but 
veiled. And for good reasons. If we were to effect regeneration, 
if we could add to or take from it, if we could advance or hinder it, 
then Scripture would surely have sufficiently instructed us concern- 
ing it. But since God has reserved this work altogether to Him- 
self, man need not solve this mystery any more than that of his first 
creation, or that of the creation of his soul. 

The Work of Regeneration. 

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he 
is a new creature ; old things are 
passed away ; behold all things are 
become new." — 2 Cor. v. 17. 

In our former article we contended that regeneration is a real 
act of God in which man is absolutely passive and unable, accord- 
ing to the ancient confession of the Church. Let us now reverently 
examine this matter more closely ; not to penetrate into things too 
high for us, but to cut off error and to clear the consciousness. 

Regeneration is not sacramentally effected by holy Baptism, 
relieving the sinner's inability, offering him another opportunity to 
choose for or against God, as the Ethicals maintain. 

Nor is it a mere rectifying of the understanding; nor a simple 
change of disposition and inclination, making the unwilling willing 
to conform to the holy will of God. 

Neither is it a change of ego ; nor, as many maintain, a leaving 
the ego undisturbed, the personality unchanged, simply putting 
the evil ego in the light and reflection of the righteousness of 

The last two errors must be refuted and rejected as positively 
as the first two. 

In regeneration a man does not receive another ego; i.e., our 
being as man is not changed nor modified, but before and after re- 
generation it is the same ego, the same person, the same human 
being. Altho sin has terribly corrupted man, his being remained 
intact. Nothing is lacking. All its constituent parts, that distin- 
guish it from all other beings, are present in the sinner. Not his 
being, but his nature became totally corrupt. 

Nature and being are not the same. Applied to a steam-engine, 
being is the engine itself, with its cylinders, pipes, wheels, and 
screws; but its nature is the action manifest as soon as steam enters 


the cylinder. Applied to man, being is that which makes him 
man, and nature that which manifests the character of his being 
and working. 

If sin had ruined man's being, he would be no more man, and 
regeneration would be impossible. But since his being, his ego, 
his person remained intact and the deep corruption affected only 
his nature, regeneration, i.e., restoration of his nature, is possible; 
and this restoration is effected by the new birth. Let this be 
firmly maintained. In regeneration we do not receive a new being, 
ego, or person, but our fiature is reborn. 

The best and most satisfactory illustration of the manner of re- 
generation is furnished by the curious art of grafting. The suc- 
cessful grafting of a budding shoot of the cultivated grape upon 
the wild vine results in a good tree growing upon the wild trunk. 
This applies to all fruit-trees and flowering plants. The cultivated 
can be grafted upon the wild. Left to itself, the wild will never 
yield anything good. The wild pear and the wild rose remain 
stunted and chary of fruit and blossom. But let the gardener graft 
a finely flavored pear upon the wild pear, or a beautiful double tea- 
rose upon the wild rose, and the former will yield luscious fruit and 
the latter magnificent flowers. 

This miracle of grafting has always been a wonder to thinking 
men. And it is a wonder. The trunk to be grafted is absolutely 
wild ; with its wild roots it sucks the saps and forces them into its 
wild cells. But that little graft has the wonderful power of con- 
verting the sap and vital forces into something good, causing that 
wild trunk to bear noble fruit and rich flowers. It is true the wild 
trunk vigorously resists the reformation of its nature by its wild 
shoots below the graft, and if successful its wild nature will forci- 
bly assert itself and prevent the sap from passing through the bud. 
But by keeping down those wild shoots the sap can be forced to the 
bud with excellent results. Forcing down the wild trunk, the graft 
will gradually reach almost to the roots, and we nearly forget that 
the tree was ever wild. 

This clearly represents regeneration so far as this divine mys- 
tery can be represented objectively. For in regeneration some- 
thing is planted in man which by nature he lacks. The fall did not 
merely remove him from the sphere of divine righteousness, into 
which regeneration brings him back, but regeneration effects a rad- 
ical modification in man as man, creating a difference between him 


and the unregenerate so great that finally it leads to direct oppo- 

To say that between the regenerate and the unregenerate there 
is no difference is equivalent to a denial of the work of the Holy 
Spirit. Generally, however, no difference is noticed at first, no 
more than in the grafted tree. Twins lie in the same cradle, one 
regenerated, the other not, but we can not see the slightest differ- 
ence between the two. The former may even have a worse temper 
than the latter. They are exactly alike. Both spring from the 
same wild trunk. Dissecting knife nor microscope could detect the 
least difference; for that which God has wrought in the favored 
child is wholly spiritual and invisible, discernible to God alone. 

This fact must be confessed definitely and emphatically, in op- 
position to those who say that the seed of regeneration is material. 
This error occupies the same ground as the Manichean heresy in 
the matter of sin. The latter makes sin a microbe, and this makes 
the seed of regeneration a sort of perceptible germ of life and holi- 
ness. And this falsifies the truth against which, among others. Dr. 
Bohl has earnestly protested. 

The seed of regeneration is intangible, invisible, purely spirit- 
ual. It does not create two men in one being, but before and after 
regeneration there is but one being, one ego, one personality. 
Not an old and a new man, but one man — viz., the old man before 
regeneration, and the new man after it — who is created after God in 
perfect righteousness and holiness. For that which is bom of God 
cannot sin. His seed remaineth in him. "Old things are passed 
away, behold, all tilings are become new." 

Yet the nature of the ego or personality is truly changed, and 
in such a way that, putting on the new nature in principle, he 
still continues to work through the old nature. The grafted tree is 
not two trees, but one. Before the grafting it was a wild rose, 
after it a cultivated one. Still the new nature must draw its saps 
through the old nature ; apart from the graft, tne trunk remains 

Hence before as well as after regeneration we lie in the midst 
of death, as soon as we consider ourselves outside of the divine 
seed. Wherefore, trying to avoid one false position, we must be 
careful not to run into another ; trying to escape the Siamese twin- 
ship of the old and the new man, and maintaining the unity of the 
ego before and after regeneration, we should not begin to teach that 


regeneration leaves our person unchanged, that it does not affect the 
sinner himself, but merely translates him into the sphere of an extra- 
neous righteousness. No ; the Scripture speaks of a new creature, 
another birth, a being changed and renewed. And this can not be 
reconciled with the notion that the sinner should remain unchanged. 

Regarding the question, what it is in the bud that has the po- 
tency to regenerate the wild trunk, the best-informed botanist can 
not discover the fiber or liquid that might have this power. He 
only knows that every bud has its own nature, and possesses the 
potency to produce another branch or tree of the same nature by 
its own formative power. 

And this applies to the work of regeneration. In the center of 
our being, ego, personality rules our nature, disposition, form of 
being, and existence, imparting its impress, form, character, and 
spiritual quality to what we are and work and speak. That all- 
controlling center is by nature sinful and wicked. Under its fair- 
est forms it is but unrighteous. Hence, willingly or unwillingly, 
we press upon our being, working, and speaking the stamp of un- 
righteousness. According to age and development this nature of 
the ego chisels out of the marble of our being an evil and sinful 
man, corresponding to the image contained in our nature from 
which it proceeds. In regeneration God performs in this controlling 
center of our being a wonderful act, converting this nature, this 
formative force into something entirely different. Consequently 
our being, working, and speaking are henceforth controlled by an- 
other commandment, law of life, and government; and this new 
formative force chisels another man in us, new and holy, a child of 
God, created in righteousness. 

But this change is not completed at once. The tree grafted in 
March may remain inactive during that entire month, because there 
is as yet no working in its nature. But this is sure : as soon as 
there is any action it will be according to the new, ingrafted 

And so it is here. The new, ingrafted life may lie dormant for 
a season, like a grain of wheat in the earth ; but when it begins to 
work it will be according to the nature of the new life. Hence 
regeneration implants the life-germ of the new man. -"vhom it con- 
tains in all his completeness, and from which W will proceed as 
surely as the wheat contained in the seed proceeds from it. 


In order to assist us in our representation of this mystery, the 
greatest theologian of the Reformed churches has presented the 
divine plan in regeneration in the following stages: 

(i) In His own mind God conceives the new man; whom (2) He 
modifies according to a particular person, thus creating the new 
man ; (3) He brings the germ of this new man into the center of 
our being; (4) in which center He effects the union between our 
ego and this germinating life; (5) in that vital germ God supports 
the formative power, which at His appointed time He will cause to 
come forth, by which our ego will manifest itself as a new man. 

Regeneration and Faith. 

" Being born again, not of corruptible 
seed, but of incorruptible, by the 
Word of God, which liveth and abi- 
deth forever." — i Peter i. 23. 

There is a possible objection to what has been said above con- 
cerning regeneration. It is evident that God's Word, and therefore 
our symbols of faith, offers a modified representation of these 
things which, superficially considered, seems to condemn our repre- 
sentation. This representation, which does not consider children, 
but adults, may thus be stated : Among a circle of unconverted per- 
sons God causes the Word to be preached by His ambassadors of 
the cross. By this preaching the call reaches them. If there are 
elect persons among them, for whom it is now the time of loi^e, God 
accompanies the outward ca.\\ with the inward. Consequently they 
turn from their ways of sin to the way of life. And so they are 
begotten of God. . 

Thus St. Peter presents the matter, saying: " Being born again, 
not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, 
which liveth and abideth forever." And also St. Paul when he de- 
clares, " That faith is by the hearing, and the hearing by the Word 
of God" (Rom. x. 17). It fully harmonizes with what St. Paul 
writes concerning holy Baptism, which he calls the washing of 
" regeneration," for in those days Jew and Gentile were baptized in 
the name of the Lord Jesus, immediately after their conversion, by 
the preaching of the apostles. 

For this reason our fathers confessed in their Confession (article 
24) : " We believe that this true faith, being wrought in man by the 
hearing of the word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, 
doth regenerate and make him a new man." And likewise teaches 
the Heidelberg Catechism (see question 65) : " Such faith proceed- 


eth from the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the 
preaching of the Gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacra- 
ments." And also the canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Heads of 
doctrine, section 17: "As the almighty operation of God, whereby 
He prolongs and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but 
requires the use of means by which God of His infinite mercy and 
goodness hath chosen to exert His influence ; so also the before- 
mentioned supernatural operation of God, by which we are regen- 
erated, in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the Gospel, which 
the most wise God hath ordained to be the seed of regeneration 
and food of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles and the teachers 
who succeeded them piously instructed the people concerning this 
grace of God, to His glory and the abasement of all pride, and in 
the mean time, however, neglected not to keep them by the sacred 
precepts of the Gospel in the exercise of the Word, the sacraments, 
and discipline ; so even to this day, be it far from either instructors 
or instructed to presume to tempt God in the Church, by separating 
what He of His good pleasure hath most intimately joined together. 
For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more 
readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this bless- 
ing of God working in us, and the more directly is His work ad- 

And now, in order to eradicate every suspicion that we contend 
against this representation, we declare openly and definitely that 
we give it our most hearty assent. 

We only beg it be considered that in this presentation both 
Scripture and the symbols of faith always point to the mysterious 
background, to a wonderful work of God hiding back of it, to an in- 
scrutable mystery without which all this comes to naught. 

The canons of Dort describe this mysterious, inscrutable, and 
wonderful background most elaborately and most beautifully in arti- 
cle 12, Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine : " And this is the regen- 
eration so highly celebrated in Scripture and denominated a new 
creation; a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God 
works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely 
by the external preaching of the Gospel, by moral suasion, or such 
a mode of operation that, after God has performed His part, it still 
remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be con- 
verted or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernat- 
ural work, most powerful and at the same time most delightful, 


astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable ; not inferior in efficacy to 
creation or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture in- 
spired by the Author of this work declares; so that all in whose 
hearts God works in this marvelous manner are certainly, infalli- 
bly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. Where- 
upon the will thus renewed is not only actuated and influenced by 
God, but in consequence ot this influence becomes itself active. 
Wherefore, also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, 
by virtue of that grace received." And also in article 11:" But when 
God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect, or works in them 
true conversion, He not only causes the Gospel to be externally 
preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His 
Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the 
things of the Spirit of God ; but by the efficacy of the same regenera- 
ting Spirit, He pervades the inmost recesses of the man ; He opens the 
closed and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which 
was uncircumcised ; infuses new qualities into the will, which, tho 
heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and 
refractory, He renders it good, obedient, and pliable ; actuates and 
strengthens it, that like a good tree it may bring forth the fruits of 
good actions." The Heidelberg Catechism points to this, in ques- 
tion 8 : " Except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God." And also 
the Confession, article 22 : " We believe that to attain the true 
knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindleth in our 
hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ with all His 

This mysterious background, which our fathers at Dort called 
" His pervading the inmost recesses of man by the efficacy of the 
regenerating Spirit," is evidently the same as what we call " the 
divine operation which penetrates the center of our being to im- 
plant the germ of the new life." 

And what is this mysterious working? According to the univer- 
sal testimony based upon Scripture, it is an operation of the Holy 
Spirit in man's innermost being. 

Hence the question, whether this regenerating act precedes, ac- 
companies, or follows the hearing of the Word. And this question 
should be well understood, for it involves the solution of this seem- 
ing disagreement. 

We answer : The Holy Spirit may perform this work in the sin- 
ner's heart before, during, or after the preaching of the Word. The 


inward call may be associated with the outward call, or it may fol- 
low it. But that which precedes the inward call, viz., the opening 
of the deaf ear, so that it may be heard, is not dependent upon the 
preaching of the Word; and therefore may precede the preaching. 

Correct discrimination in this respect is of greatest impor- 

If I designate the whole conscious work of grace from conversion 
until death, "regeneration," without any regard to its mysterious 
background, then I may and 7imst say with the Confession (article 
24) : " That this faith, being wrought in man by the hearing of the 
Word, and the operation of the Holy Spirit, doth regenerate him and 
make him a new man." 

But if I distinguish in this work of grace, according to the 
claims of the sacraments, between the origin of the new life, for 
which God gave us the sacrament of holy Baptism, and its support, 
for which God gave the sacrament of the holy Supper, then regen- 
eration ceases immediately after man is born again, and that which 
follows is called " sanctification." 

And discriminating again between that which the Holy Spirit 
wrought in us consciously and unconsciously, then regeneration desig- 
nates that which was wrought in us unconsciously, while conver- 
sion is the term we apply to the awakening of this implanted life 
in our consciousness. 

Hence God's work of grace runs through these three successive 
stages : 

I St. Regeneration in its Jirst stage, when the Lord plants the 
new life in the dead heart. 

2d. Regeneration in its second stage, when the new-born man 
comes to conversion. 

3d. Regeneration in its lAird stage, when conversion merges into 

In each of these three God performs a wonderful and mysterious 
work in man's inward being. From God proceed quickening, con- 
version, and sanctification, and in each God is the Worker: only 
with this difference, that in the quickening He works alone, finding 
and leaving man inactive ; that in conversion "Re finds us inactive, 
but makes us active; that in sanctification He works in us in such 
a manner that we work ourselves through Him. 

Describing it still more closely, we say that in the first stage of 
regeneration, that of quickening, God works ivithout means ; in the 


second stage, that of conversion, He employs means, viz., the preach- 
ing of the Word; and in the third stage, that of sanctification, He 
uses means in addition to ourselves, whom He uses as means. 

Condensing the foregoing, there is one great act of God which 
re-creates the corrupt sinner into a new man, viz., the comprehen- 
sive act of regeneration, which contains three parts — quickening, 
conversion, and sanctification. 

For the ministry of the Word it is preferable to consider only 
the last two, conversion and sanctification, since this is the ap- 
pointed means to effect them. The first, regeneration, is preferably 
a subject of private meditation, since in it man is passive and God 
only active; and also because in it the majesty of the divine opera- 
tion is most apparent. 

Hence there is no conflict or opposition. Referring, according 
to the Confession, article 17, only to conversion and sanctification, 
the unstopping of the deaf ear as preceding the bearing of the Word 
is not denied. And penetrating into the work which antedates con- 
version, " in which God works in us without our aid" (article 12 of 
the canons of Dort), it is not denied, but confessed, that conversion 
and sanctification follow the unstopping of the deaf ear, and that, 
in the proper sense, regeneration is completed only at the death of 
the sinner. 

Do not suppose that we make these two to conflict. In writing 
a biography of Napoleon it would be sufficient simply to mention 
his birth, but one might also mention, more in particular, the things 
that took place before his birth. Just so in this respect : I may refer 
either to the two parts of regeneration, conversion and sanctifica- 
tion, or I may include also that which precedes conversion, and 
speak also of the quickening. This implies no antagonism, but a 
mere difference of exactness. It is more exhaustive, with reference 
to regeneration, to speak of three stages— quickening, conversion, 
and sanctification; altho it is customary and more practical to 
speak only of the last two. 

Our purpose, however, calls for greater completeness. The 
aim of this work is not to preach the Word, but to uncover the 
foundations of the truth, so as to stop the building of crooked walls 
upon the foundation-stone, after the manner of Ethicals, Rational- 
ists, and Supematuralists. 

Exhaustiveness in treatment requires to ask not only, " How and 


what does the quickened sinner hear?" but also, "Who has given 
him hearing ears?" 

And this is all the more to be insisted upon because our chil- 
dren must not be ignored in this respect. At Dort, in 1618, our 
children were taken into account, and we may not deny ourselves 
this pleasant obligation. 

And herein lies a real danger. For to speak of the little ones 
without considering the first stage of regeneration — i.e., the quick- 
ening — causes confusion and perplexity from which there is no 

Salvation depends upon faith, and faith upon the hearing of the 
Word ; hence our deceased infants must be lost, for they can not 
hear the Word. To escape this fearful thought it is often said that 
the children are saved by virtue of the parents' faith — a misunder- 
standing which greatly confused our entire conception of Baptism, 
and made our baptismal form very perplexing. But as soon as we 
distinguish quickening, as a stage of regeneration, from conversion 
and sanctificatioti, the light enters. For since quickening is an un- 
aided act of God in us, independent of the Word, and frequently 
separated from the second stage, conversion, by an interval of many 
days, there is nothing to prevent God from performing His work 
even in the babe, and the apparent conflict dissolves into beautiful 
harmony. Moreover, as soon as I regard my still unconverted chil- 
dren as not yet regenerate, their training must run in the direction 
of a questionable Methodism.* What is the use of the call so long 
as I suppose and know: " This ear can not yet hear"? 

Touching the question concerning " faith," we are fully prepared 
to apply the same distinction to this matter. You have only to dis- 
criminate between the organ or the faculty of faith, the poiver to 
exercise faith, and the worki?ig of faith. The first of these three, 
viz., \.h.Q faculty of faith, is implanted in the first stage of regenera- 
tion — i.e., in quickening; the power of faith is imparted in the sec- 
ond stage of regeneration — i.e., in conversion; and the working of 
faith is wrought in the third stage — i.e., in sanctification. Hence 
if faith is wrought only by the hearing of the Word, the preaching 
of the Word does not create the faculty of faith. 

Look only at what our fathers confessed at Dort : " He who 
works in man both to will and to do produces both the 7vill to be- 

*See the author's explanation of Methodism in section 5 of the Preface. 


lieve and the act of believing also " (Third and Fourth Heads of Doc- 
trine, article 14). 

Or to express it still more strongly : when the Word is preached, 
I know it ; and when I hear it and believe it, I know whence this 
working of faith comes. But the implanting of the faith-faculty is 
an entirely different thing; for of this the Lord Jesus says: " Thou 
hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and 
whither it goeth " ; and as the wind, so is also the regeneration of 


Implanting in Christ. 

" Having become one plant with Him." 
— Rom. vi. 5. 

Having discussed regeneration as God's act wrought in a lost, 
wicked, and guilty sinner, we now examine the more sacred and 
delicate question : How does this divine act affect our relation to 

We consider this point more important than the first, since every 
view of regeneration that does not do full justice to the " mystical 
union with Christ " is anti-Scriptural, eradicates brotherly love, and 
begets spiritual pride. 

The holy apostle declares : " I live, yet not /, but Christ liveth in 
me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of 
the Son of God." * The idea that a saint can have life outside of the 
mystical union with Immanuel is but a fiction of the imagination. 
The regenerate can live no life but such as consists in union with 
Christ. Let this be firmly and strongly maintained. 

The Scriptural expressions, "one plant with Him"t and 
" branches of the Vine," which must be taken in their fullest signifi- 
cance, are metaphors entirely different from those which we use. 
We are confined to metaphors which express our meaning by anal- 
ogy ; but they can not be fully applied nor express the being of the 
thing; hence the so-called third term of the comparison. But the 
figures used by the Holy Spirit express a real conformity, a unity 
of thought divinely expressed in the spiritual and visible world. 
Hence Jesus could say : " I am the true Vine," that is, " every other 
vine is but a figure. The true, the real Vine am I, and I alone." 

Being exceedingly sober and choice in His metaphorical speech, 
the Lord Jesus does not say that a branch is grafted into the vine, 

* St. Paul does not declare in these words that he received another 
ego ; on the contrary, he says emphatically that in his ego, which contin- 
ued to be his, it is no more I that live, but Christ. 
f At least if the words "with Him " are original. 


simply because this is not done in nature, i.e., in the creation of 
God. In John xv., Jesus does not even touch upon the question of 
how one becomes a branch. That is the work of the Father. My 
Father is the Husbandman. In John xv. 3 he speaks only of a 
person who not abiding in Him withers and will be burned. 

Even Rom. vi. 5 does not speak of coming to Jesus, and Rom. 
xi. 17-25 only partly. The former calls it to become one plant 
with Him, but does not tell "how"; and " grafting " is not even 
mentioned. And the latter, speaking of broken olive-branches, and 
of wild olive-branches grafted upon a good olive, and lastly of 
broken branches restored to the original olive, makes no reference 
whatever to the implanting of individuals in Christ, as we will soon 

And yet the figure is only partly applicable. Indeed, in Rom. 
xi., St. Paul, with his characteristic boldness of speech and style, 
for comparison's sake reverses God's work in nature; for while in 
reality the cultivated bud is grafted on the wild trunk, he makes 
in this instance the wild bud to be grafted upon the good trunk. 
A bold stroke indeed and very profitable to us, for by it he makes 
us see clearly and distinctly the general implanting in Christ. But 
that is all. 

For, notice it well, the figure is not to be pressed too far. It is 
a mistake to make it refer to the regeneration of the individual sin- 
ner. For a person once implanted in Christ can not be severed 
from Him: "No man can pluck them out of My hand"; "Whom 
He has justified, them He also glorified." 

And yet, reference is made here to branches which are broken 
off and which were grafted in again. If this referred to particular 
individuals, then the Jews, who during the life of St. Paul denied 
the Lord, must have been regenerate persons who fell away and 
returned again before they died. 

If this had been St. Paul's meaning, subsequent events would 
have belied his words, and he would have revoked the whole tenor 
of his other teachings. But he plainly means that the tribes of 
Israel, who were in the Covenant of Grace, had lost their position 
therein by their own fault; yet that even outside of the Covenant 
they should be preserved throughout the coming ages, and that in 
the course of history the way would be opened even for them to be 
reintroduced into the Covenant of Grace. And this shows that 
Rom. xi. 17-25 does not teach the regeneration of individual per- 


sons, and that the good olive does not signify Christ, for he that 
is implanted in Christ can never be severed from Him, and he that 
is severed from Him never belonged to Him. Do we not believe 
in the perseverance of saints? 

It maybe objected that in John xv. reference is made to branches 
that are cast forth from the vine ; to which we answer : first, that 
this does not remove the difficulty that the apostate Jews of St. 
Paul's time were never grafted in again; and second, that with 
Calvin we hold that Jesus, speaking of the branches cast forth, had 
reference to persons who, like Judas, seemed to be implanted ; other- 
wise His own word, " No man can pluck them out of My hand," can 
not stand for a moment. 

We arrive, therefore, at this conclusion, that neither John xv. nor 
Rom. xi. has any reference to personal regeneration in its limited 
sense; while Rom. vi., which speaks of becoming one plant, does 
not introduce the idea of ingrafting, nor make the slightest allusion 
to the manner in which this " becoming one plant " had been accom- 

It is unnecessary to say that not a few exegetes judge the 
translation, " One plant with Him," incorrect, omitting the words 
italicized. "We do not express here an opinion regarding this ren- 
dering; but it shows clearly that Rom. vi. has nothing to say con- 
cerning the manner in which our union with Christ is effected. 

In fact. Scripture never applies the figure of grafting to regene- 
ration. Rom. xi. treats of the restoration of a people and nation to 
the covenant of grace ; Rom. vi. speaks only of a most intimate 
union ; and John xv. never alludes to a wild branch which became 
good by being planted in Christ. These figures set forth the union 
with Christ, but teach nothing concerning the manner in which this 
union is effected. Scripture is utterly silent concerning it; and 
since there is no other source of information, mere human inven- 
tions are utterly useless. Even Christian experience does not throw 
any light upon it, for it can not teach anything which Scripture has 
not taught already ; and again, we can easily perceive the union 
with Christ where it exists, but we can not see it where it does not 
exist, or where it is just forming. 

And yet this union with Christ must be strongly emphasized. 
The theologians who represent divine truth most purely lay most 
stress upon this matter. And altho Calvin may have been the most 


rigid among the reformers, yet not one of them has presented this 
unto mystica, this spiritual union with Christ, so incessantly, so 
tenderly, and with such holy fire as he. And as Calvin, so did all 
the Reformed theologians, from Beza to Comrie, and from Zanchius 
to Kohlbrugge. " Without Christ nothing, by this mystical union 
with Christ all," was their motto. And even now a preacher's value 
is to be strictly measured by the degree of prominence accorded to 
the mystical union with Immanuel, in his presentation of the truth. 
The strong utterance of Kohlbrugge. " One may be born again, one 
may be a child of God, one may be a sincere believer, yet without 
this mystical union with Christ he is nothing in himself, nothing but 
a lost and wicked sinner," was always the glorious confession of our 
churches. In fact, it is what our form for the administration of 
the Lord's Supper so well expresses; "Considering that we seek 
our life outside of ourselves in Jesus Christ, we acknowledge that 
we lie in the midst of death.' 

But it is wrong on this ground to teach — as some of our younger 
ministers are reported to teach — and derogatory to the work of the 
Holy Spirit, that regeneration accomplishes nothing in us, and that 
the whole work is performed completely outside of us . as some have 
said, " That we need not even be converted, for even that has been 
done for us vicariously by the Lord Jesus Christ." To say that 
there is no difference between a regenerate person and an unregen- 
erate is to contradict Scripture and to deny the work of the Holy 
Spirit. Wherefore we strongly oppose this notion. There is in- 
deed a difference. The former has entered into the union with 
Christ, and the latter has not. And upon this union everythifig de- 
pends . it makes a difference in men as between heaven and hell. 

Nor may it be said, on the contrary, " That a regenerate person, 
even without the union with Christ, is other or better than an unbe- 
liever ' , for this puts asunder what God has joined together. Out- 
side of Christ there is in man born of a woman nothing but dark- 
ness, corruption, and death. 

Hence we firmly maintain the indissoluble oneness of these 
two : " There is no regeneration without establishing the mystical 
union with Christ", and again: " There is no mystical union with 
Immanuel but in the regenerate." These two may never be sepa- 
rated ; and on the long way between the first act'of regeneration and 
completed sanctification, the unio mystica may not for a moment be 
lost sight of. 


The Ethical theologians will probably assent to all that we have 
said on this subject ; and yet, according to our deepest conviction, 
they have wholly bastardized and misapprehended this precious 
article of faith. Assuredly they strongly emphasize the union with 
Christ ; they even tell us that they do this more than we, maintain- 
ing that it is immaterial whether a man is sound in the Scripture or 
not so long as he is united with Christ. In that case there is no 
more need of any formula, confession, articles of faith, or even 
faith in the Scripture, A prominent Ethical professor at the Uni- 
versity of Utrecht has openly declared : " Altho I should lose the 
entire Scripture, yea, tho the truth of not one of the Gospel narra- 
tives could be verified, I would not be in the least affected, for I 
would still possess union with Christ ; and having that, what more 
can a man desire?" And this has such a pious ring, and taken in 
the abstract is so true, that many a conscience must agree with it, 
not having the faintest suspicion of the apostasy from the faith of 
the fathers contained in it. 

If one should ask us whether we do not believe that the soul 
united with Jesus possesses all that can be desired, we would almost 
refuse an answer, for he knows better. No, indeed, favored soul, 
having that you need no more ; depart in peace, thrice blessed of 

But because the mystical union with the Son of God is so 
weighty and precious an article of faith, we desire that every man 
should treat it most seriously, and examine whether the union 
which he says he possesses is actually the same mystical union with 
the Lord Jesus Christ which the Scripture promises to the children 
of God, and which they have enjoyed throughout the ages. 

Not a Divine-Human Nature. 

" I in them, and they in Me.'—/oAn 
xvii. 23. 

The union of believers with the Mediator, of all matters of faith 
the most tender, is invisible, imperceptible to the senses, and un- 
fathomable ; it escapes all inward vision ; it refuses to be dissected 
or to be made objective by any representation ; in the fullest sense 
of the word it is mystical — unto mystica, as Calvin, after the example 
of the early Church, called it. 

And yet, however mysterious, no man is at liberty to interpret 
it according to his own notions ; in fact, there is need of great vigi- 
lance lest under the pious appearance of this mystic love injurious 
contraband be smuggled into the divine sanctuary. We have there- 
fore raised our voice against the false representations of former 
mystical sects, and of the Ethical theorists of the present time. 

Let us first explain the Ethical teaching on this point. 

Their belief starts from the antithesis existing between God a.nd 
man. God is the Creator, man is a creature. God is infinite, man 
finite. God dwells in the eternal, and man lives in the temporal. 
God is holy, and man is unholy ; etc. So long as these contrasts 
exist, so they teach, there can be no unity, no reconciliation, no 
harmony. And as the pantheistic philosophy used to talk about 
three stages through which life must run its course— first, that of 
proposition (thesis), then that of contrast (antithesis), and lastly 
that of reconciliation, combination (synthesis) — so the Ethicals 
teach that between God and man there exist these three : thesis, an- 
tithesis, and synthesis. 

In the first place, there is God. This is the thesis, the proposi- 
tion. Opposed to this thesis in God, the antithesis, contrast, ap- 
pears in man. And this thesis and antithesis find their reconcilia- 
tion, synthesis, in the Mediator, who is at once finite and infinite, 
burdened with our guilt and holy, temporal, and eternal. 

It is only recently that we quoted the following sentence from 


Professor Gunning's little book, " The Mediator between God and 
Man " (page 28) : " Jesus Christ is the Mediator equally between the 
Jews and the Gentiles; and also between all things that need recon- 
ciliation and mediation ; as between God and man, spirit and body, 
heaven and earth, time and eternity." 

This representation contains the fundamental error of the Ethi- 
cal theology. It interferes with the boundaries which God has set. 
It effaces them. It causes all contrasts finally to disappear. And 
by this very thing, without intending it, it becomes the instrument 
of spreading the pantheism of the philosophic school. Not under- 
standing this system, one may be deeply in love with it. This pan- 
theistic ferment is deeply seated in our sinful hearts. The waters 
of pantheism are sweet, their religious flavor is peculiarly pleasant. 
There is spiritual intoxication in this cup, and once inebriated the 
soul has lost its desire for the sober clearness of the divine Word. 
To escape from the witchery of these pantheistic charms, one 
needs to be aroused by bitter experience. And once awakened, the 
soul is alarmed at the fearful danger to which this siren had ex- 
posed it. 

No ; the contrast between God and man must ?iot cease ; the con- 
trast between heaven and earth may not be placed upon the same 
line with that of Jew and Gentile ; the contrast between the infinite 
and finite must ?iot be effaced by the Mediator; time and eternity 
must fiot be made identical. There must be brought about a recon- 
ciliatio7i for the sinner. That is all, and no more. " To bring about 
reconciliation " is the work assigned to the Mediator, and that 
alone. And this reconciliation is not between time and eternity, 
the finite and the infinite, but exclusively between a sinful creature 
and a holy Creator. It is a reconciliation that could not have oc- 
curred if man had not fallen, necessitated only by his fall ; a recon- 
ciliation not essential to the being of Christ, but His per accidens, 
i.e., by something independent of His being. 

And since the essence of true godliness is based not in the re- 
moval of the divinely appointed boundaries and contrasts, but in a 
deep reverence for the same ; and on this ground the creature as 
distinguished from the Creator may not feel himself one with, but 
absolutely distinct from Him, it is clear that this error of the Ethi- 
cals affects the essence of godliness. 

The early Church discovered this same principle in Origen, and 


subsequently in Eutychus , and our fathers of the last century found 
it in the Hernhutters and sharply opposed il And only because 
we lack knowledge and penetration have these Ethical doctrines 
been able to spread so rapidly here, in Germany, in Switzerland, 
and even in Scotland, their pantheistic tendencies undetected. 

And how does this evil affect their Christology? It affects it to 
such extent that it is entirely different from that of the Reformed 
churches. Tho they tell us, " We disagree in our views on the 
Scriptures, but agree in our confession of Christ," yet this is abso- 
lutely untrue. Their Christ is not the Christ of the Reformed 
churches. Christ, as the Reformed Church according to the Scrip- 
ture and the orthodox Church of all ages confesses Him, is the 
Son of God, eternal Partaker of the divine nature, who in time, in 
addition to the divine nature, adopted the human nature, uniting 
these two natures in the unity of one person. He unites them in 
such a way, however, that these natures continue each by itself, 
do not blend, and do not communicate the attributes of the one to 
the other. Hence two natures are united most intimately in the 
unity of one person, but continuing to the end, and even now in 
heaven, to be two natures each with its own peculiar properties. 
"He is one not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by ta- 
king oi the manhood into God" (Confession of Athanasius, article 
35). And again; " He is one not by mixture of substance, but by 
unity of person" (article 36). 

In like manner do we confess in article 19 of our Confession: 
" We believe that by this conception the person of the Son is insepa- 
rably united and connected with the human nature , so that there are 
not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one 
single person; yet each 7iature retains its own distinct properties. As 
then the divine nature has always remained uncreated, without be- 
ginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth; so also hath 
the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, 
having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all 
the properties of a real body. And tho He hath by His Resurrec- 
tion given immortality to the same, nevertheless He hath not 
changed the reality of His human nature ; forasmuch as our salva- 
tion and resurrection also depend on the reality of His body. But 
these two natures were so closely united in one person that they 
were not separated even by His death." 

This clear confession, which the orthodox Church has always 


defended against the Eutychians and Monothelites, and which our 
Reformed churches in particular have maintained in opposition to 
the Lutherans and Mystics, is opposed by the Ethical view all 
along the line. The late Prof. Chantepie de la Saussaye said dis- 
tinctly in his Inaugural that it was impossible to maintain the old 
representation on this point, which was also upheld by our Confes- 
sion , and that his confession of the Mediator was another. Hence 
the Ethical wing deviates from the old paths not only in the mat- 
ter of the Scripture, but also in the confession of the person of the 
Redeemer. It teaches what the Reformed churches have always 
denied, and denies what the Reformed churches have always main- 
tained in opposition to churches less correct in their views. 

Under the influence which Schleiermacher's training among the 
Moravian brethren, and his pantheistic development and Lutheran 
dogmatics, have exerted upon the Ethicals, a Christ is preached by 
them who is not the Christ to whom the orthodox Church of all ages 
has bowed the knee; and whose confession has always been pre- 
served incorrupt by the Reformed, and especially by our national, 
theologians. For their conclusions are as follows ; 

I St. That the Incarnation of the Son of God would have taken 
place even if Adam had not sinned. 

2d. That He is Mediator not only between the sinner and the 
holy God, but also between the finite and the infinite. 

3d. That the two natures mix together, and communicate 
their attributes to each other in such a measure that from Him, who 
is both God and man, there proceeds that which is divine-hutnan. 

4th. That this divine-human nature is communicated to believ- 
ers also. 

This error is immediately recognized by the use of the word 
divine-human. Not that we condemn its use in every instance. 
On the contrary, when it refers not to the natures, but to ih.Q person, 
its use is legitimate, for in the one person the two natures are in- 
separably united. Still it is better in our days to be chary of the 
word. Divine-human has in the present time a pantheistic mean- 
ing, denoting that the contrast existing between God and man did 
not exist in Jesus, but that in Him the antithesis of the divine and 
the human was not found. 

And this is wholly anti-Scriptural, and results in its final conse- 
quences in a pure theosophy. For the actual result is a blending 
of the two natures; a divine nature in God. a human nature in 


man, and a divine-human nature in the Mediator. So that if man 
had not fallen, the Mediator would nevertheless have appeared in 
a divine-human nature. 

This is a truly abhorrent doctrine. It puts in the place of the 
Savior from our sins another and entirely different person; the 
contrasts between the Creator and the creature disappear, the di- 
vine-human nature of the Christ is actually placed above the divine 
nature itself. For the Mediator in the divine-human nature pos- 
sesses something that is lacking in the divine nature, viz., its rec- 
onciliation with the human. 

This shows how much further the Ethicals have departed from the 
pure confession of the Lord Jesus Christ than is generally believed. 
According to them there is in the Person of the Mediator a kind of 
new nature, a kind of third nature, a kind of higher nature, which is 
called "human-divine." And the union with Christ is found (not 
subjectively, but objectively) in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ 
pours into us that new, third, higher kind, viz., the divine-human 
nature. Hence the regenerate are the persons who have received 
this new, third, higher kind of nature. This has no connection 
with sin, but would have appeared even in the absence of sin. The 
reconciliation of sinners is something additional, and does not touch 
the root of the matter. 

The real and principal thing is, that the Mediator between the 
"finite and the infinite" (to use the very words of Professor Gunning) 
imparts unto us, who have the lower, human nature, this new, 
third, higher, divine-human nature. 

Not that the human nature is to be removed and the divine- 
human nature take its place. No, indeed ; but, according to the Eth- 
ical theologians, the human nature is originally intended and des- 
tined to be thus ennobled, refined, and exalted. As the slip of a 
plant, under the influence of the sun, develops and produces by and 
by choice flowers, so does the human nature develop and unfold 
itself under the influence of the Sun of Righteousness into this 
higher nature. 

That this must be accomplished by means of regeneration is on 
account 0/ sin. If there had been no fall in Paradise, and no sin 
after the fall, there would have been no regeneration, and our na- 
ture's lower degree would have passed over spontaneously into that 
higher, divine-human nature. And this is, in the circles of the Eth- 
icals. the basis of that much-lauded unio mystica with the Christ. 


The invisible church is, according to their view, that circle of 
men into whom this higher and nobler tincture of life has been in- 
stilled, and others not so favored still stand without. Hence their 
lack of appreciation of the visible churches; for does not the 
divine-human tincture of life determine this circle of itself? Hence 
their preference for the " unconsciotis" ; conscious confession and 
expression of thought is immaterial ; the principal thing is to be 
endowed with this new, higher, more refined, divine-human nature. 
This explains their generally lofty bearing toward men not sharing 
their opinions. They belong to a sort of spiritual aristocracy , they 
are of nobler descent, acquainted with more refined forms, living 
a higher life, from which with pitying eyes they look down upon 
those who do not dream their dreams of the higher life-tincture. 

Let it suffice here only to say that the Reformed churches can 
not indorse this representation of the unio mysHca, but must posi- 
tively reject it. 

The Mystical Union with Immanuel. 

" Christ in you the hope of glory."— 
Col. i. 27. 

The union of believers with Christ their Head is not effected by- 
instilling a divine-human life-tincture into the soul. There is no 
divine-human life. There is a most holy Person, who unites in Him- 
self the divine rt«^the human life; but both natures continue un- 
mixed, unblended, each retaining its own properties. And since 
there is no divine-human life in Jesus, He can not instil it into us. 

We do heartily acknowledge that there is a certain conformity 
and similarity between the divine nature and the human, for man 
was created after the image of God ; wherefore St. Peter could say, 
" That we become partakers of the divine nature " (2 Peter i. 4) ; but, 
according to all sound expositors, this means only that unto the 
sinner are imparted the attributes of goodness and holiness, which 
he originally possessed in his own nature in common with the di- 
vine nature, but which he lost by sin. 

Compared with the nature of material things, and with that of 
animals and of devils, there is indeed a feature of conformity and 
similarity between the divine and human natures. But this may 
not be understood as obliterating the boundary between the divine 
nature and the human. And, therefore, let this glorious word of 
St. Peter no longer be abused in order to justify a philosophic sys- 
tem which has nothing in common with the soberness and simplic- 
ity of Holy Scripture. 

What St. Peter calls " to become partaker of the divine nature " 
is called in another place, to become the children of God. But altho 
Christ is the Son of God, and we are called the children of God, this 
does not make the Sonship of Christ and our sonship to stand on 
the same plane and to be of the same nature. We are but the 
adopted children, altho we have another descent, while He is the 
actual and eternal Son. While He is essentially the eternal Son, 
partaker of the divine nature, which in the unity of His Person He 


unites with the human nature, we are merely restored to the likeness 
of the divine nature which we had lost by sin. 

Hence as " to be adopted as a child" and "to be the Son forever" 
are contrasts, so are also the following: " to have the divine nature in 
Himself" and " to be only partakers of the divine nature" 

The friend who shares a bereaved mother's mourning is not be- 
reaved himself, but through love and pity he has become partaker 
of that mourning. In like manner, accepting these great and pre- 
cious promises, believers become partakers of the divine nature, 
altho in themselves wholly devoid of that nature. Partaker does 
not denote what one possesses in himself, as his own, but a partial 
communication of what dees not belong to him, but to another. 

Hence this glorious, apostolic word should no longer be used in 
pantheistic sense. As it is unlawful to say that we are the essential 
children of God, but must humbly confess, through Christ, to be 
His adopted children, so it is not lawful to say that by faith we 
become in ourselves bearers of the divine nature ; but we must be 
satisfied with the confession that through the fellowship of love, 
God makes us partakers of the vital emotions of the divine nature, 
so far as our human capacities are able to experience them. 

This brings us back to the unio mystica with Christ, which, altho 
a great and impenetrable mystery, ought to be sufficiently defined 
to keep us from falling into error. We mention, therefore, its vital 
points and thus embody our confession concerning it: 

ist. The _;fri'/ point is, that the Lord Jesus does not require us to 
be purified and sanctified in order to be united to His Person. 

Jesus is a Savior not of the righteous, but of sinners. And for 
this reason He has adopted the human nature : not as the Baptist 
teaches, by receiving from heaven a newly created body, like the 
Paradise body of Adam, but by becoming partaker, as the little 
children, of our flesh and blood. And the same is true of His 
union with believers. He does not wait until they are pure and 
holy, then to be spiritually betrothed unto them ; but He betroths 
Himself unto them that they may become pure and holy. He is 
the rich Bridegroom, and the soul the poverty-stricken bride. In 
the shining robes of His righteousness He comes and, finding her 
black, unsightly, and in her native defilement, He says not, " Get 
thyself clean, wise, and rich, and as a rich bride I will betroth thee 
unto Me " ; but, " I take thee just as thou art. I say unto thee, in thy 


blood, Live. Tho thou art poor, betrothing thee, I will make thee 
partaker of Myself and of My treasure. But a treasure of thine own 
thou shalt never possess." 

This point should be firmly established. The Lord Jesus unites 
unto Himself not the righteous, but sinners. He marries not the 
pure and the spotless, but the polluted and the unclean. 

When the holy apostle Paul speaks of a bride whom he will pre- 
sent without spot or wrinkle, he has reference to something entirely 
different • not to His betrothal with the individual, but to the mar- 
riage of the Lord Jesus with His Church as a whole. So long as 
the Church continues in the earth, separated from Him, she is His 
bride, until in the fulness of time, the separation ended. He will 
introduce her to the rich and full communion of the united life in 

2d. The second point to which we call attention is the time when 
this union begins. 

To say that this unio mystica is the result of faith alone is only 
partly correct. For Scripture teaches very distinctly that we were 
already in the Lord Jesus when He died on Calvary, and when He 
arose from the dead; that we ascended with Him unto heaven; and 
that for eighteen centuries we have been seated with Him at the 
right hand of God. Hence we must carefully distinguish between 
the five stages in which the union with Immanuel unfolds itself: 

The ^/-j/ of these five stages lies in the decree of God. From the 
very moment that the Father gave us to the Son, we were really 
His own, and a relation was established between Him and us, not 
weak and feeble, but so deep and extensive that all subsequent 
relations with Immanuel spring from this fundamental root-relation 

The second stage is in the Incarnation, when, adopting our flesh, 
entering into our nature. He made that preexisting, essential rela- 
tion actual ; when the bond of union passed from the divine will, 
i.e., from the decree, into actual existence. Christ in the flesh car- 
ries all believers in the loins of His grace, as Adam carried all the 
children of men in the loins of his flesh. Hence, not figuratively 
nor metaphorically, but in the proper sense. Scripture teaches that 
when Jesus died and arose we died and arose with Him and in 

The third stage begins when we ourselves appear not in our 


birth, but in our regeneration ; when the Lord God begins to work 
supernaturally in our souls; when in love's hour Eternal Love con- 
ceives in us the child of God. Until then the mystic union was hid 
in the decree and in the Mediator; but in and by regeneration the 
person appears with whom the Lord Jesus will establish it. How- 
ever, not regeneration first and then something new, viz., union 
with Christ, but in the very moment of completed regeneration 
that union becomes an internally accomplished fact. 

This third stage must be carefully distinguished from 'Ca^ fourth, 
which begins not with the quickening, but with the first conscious 
exercise of faith. For, altho in regeneration the faculty of faith 
was implanted, it may for a long time remain inactive ; and only 
when the Holy Spirit causes it to act, producing genuine faith and 
conversion in us, is the union with Christ established subjectively. 

This union is not the subsequent fruit of a higher degree of holi- 
ness, but coincides with the first exercise of faith. Faith which 
does not live in Christ is no faith, but its counterfeit. Genuine 
faith is wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, and all that He imparts 
to us He draws from Christ. Hence there may be an apparent or 
pretended faith without the union with Christ, but not a real faith. 
Wherefore it is an assured fact that the first sigh of the soul, in its 
first exercise of faith, is the result of the wonderful union of the 
soul with its Surety. 

We do not deny, however, that there is a gradual increase of 
the conscious realization, of the lively feeling, and of the free en- 
joyment of this union. A child possesses its mother from the first 
moment of its existence ; but the sensible enjoyment of its mother's 
love gradually awakens and increases with the years, until he fully 
knows what a treasure God has given him in his mother. And thus 
the consciousness and enjoyment of what we have in our Savior be- 
comes gradually clearer and deeper, until there comes a moment 
when we fully realize how rich God has made us in Jesus. And by 
this many are led to think that their union with Christ dates from 
that moment. This is only apparently so. Altho then they be- 
came fully conscious of their treasure in Christ, the union itself 
existed (even subjectively) from the moment of their first cry of 

This leads to the fifth and last stage, viz., death. Rejoicing in 
Him with joy unspeakable and full of glory, altho not seeing Him, 
jnuch more remains to be desired. Hence our union with Him does 


not attain its fullest unfolding until every lack be supplied and we 
see Him as He is; and in that blissful vision we shall be like Him, 
for then He will give us all that He has. Therefore faith makes 
us partakers first of Hitnself and then of all His gi/ts, as the Hei- 
delberg Catechism clearly teaches. 

3d. The third point to which we call attention is the nature of 
this union with Immanuel. 

It has a naXViXQ, peculiar to itself; it may be compared to other 
unions, but it can never hQ fully explained by them. Wonderful is 
the bond between body and soul ; more wonderful still the sacra- 
mental bond of holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper; equally won- 
derful the vital union between mother and child in her blood, like 
that of the vine and its growing branches ; wonderful the bond of 
wedlock; and much more wonderful the union with the Holy 
Spirit, established by His indwelling. But the union with Imman- 
uel is distinct from all these. 

It is a union invisible and intangible ; the ear fails to perceive 
it, and it eludes all investigation ; yet it is very real union and com- 
munion, by which the life of the Lord Jesus directly affects and 
controls us. As the unborn babe lives on the mother-blood, which 
has its heart-beat outside of him, so we also live on the Christ-life, 
which has its heart-beat not in our soul, but outside of us, in heaven 
above, in Christ Jesus. 

4th. In the fourth place, altho the union with Christ coincides 
with our covena?tt-vela.tion to Him as the Head, yet it is not identical 
with it. Our relations of fellowship to Christ are many. There is 
a fellowship of feeling and inclination, of love and attachment ; we 
are disciples of the Prophet ; we are His blood-bought possession ; 
the subjects of the King ; and members of the Covenant of Grace of 
which He is the Head. But instead of absorbing the " u7no mysti- 
ca," they are all based M'^on it. Without this real bond all the oth- 
ers are only imaginary. Hence, while we know, feel, and confess 
that it is glorious to be safely hid in our Covenant-Head, it is sweeter, 
more precious and delightful to live in the mystical fellowship of 


3f(ftb Cbapter. 

The Calling of the Regenerate. 

"Whom He did predestinate, them He 
also called." — Rom. viii. 30. 

In order to hear, the sinner, deaf by nature, must receive hearing 
ears. " He that hath ears let him hear what the Spirit saith unto 
the churches." 

But by nature the sinner does not belong to these favored ones. 
This is a daily experience. Of two clerks in the same office, one 
obeys the call and the other rejects it; not because he despises it, 
but because he does not hear God's call in it. Hence God's quick- 
ening act antedates the sinner's hearing, and thus he becomes able 
to hear the Word. 

The quickening, the implanting of the faith-faculty, and the 
uniting of the soul to Christ, apparently three acts, are in reality 
but one act, together constituting (objectively) the so-called yfr^/ 
grace. In the operation of this grace the sinner is perfectly passive 
and indifferent; the subject of an action which does not involve the 
slightest operation, yielding, or even non-resistance on his part. 

In fact, the sinner, being dead in trespasses and sins, is under 
this first grace like a soulless, motionless body, with all the passive 
properties belonging to a corpse. This fact can not be stated with 
sufficient force and emphasis. It is an absolute passivity. And 
every effort or inclination to claim for the sinner the minutest co- 
operation in this first grace destroys the Gospel, severs the artery 
of the Christian confession, and is not only heretical, but anti- 
Scriptural in the highest sense. 

This is the point where the sign-post is erected, where the roads 


divide, where the men of the purified, that is, the Reformed Con- 
fession, part company with their opponents. 

Having stated this fact forcibly and definitely, it is of the utmost 
importance to state with equal emphasis that, in all the subsequent 
operations of grace (so-called second grace), this absolute passivity 
is made to cease by the wonderful act of the first grace. Hence in 
all subsequent grace the sinner to some extent cooperates. 

In the first grace the sinner is absolutely like a corpse. But the 
sinner's first passivity and his subsequent cooperation must not be 
confounded. There is a passivity, after the Scripture, which can 
not be exaggerated, which must be left intact ; but there is also 
a passivity which is pretended, anti-Scriptural, and sinful. The 
difference between the two is not that the former is partially 
cooperating, and the latter without any cooperation whatever. 
Surely by such temporizing the churches and the souls in them are 
not inspired with energy and enthusiasm. No; the difference be- 
tween the sound and the sickly passivity consists herein, that the 
former, which is absolute and unlimited, belongs to fhQ first grace, 
to which it is indispensable; while the latter clings to the second grace, 
where it does not belong. 

Let there be clear insight into this truth, which is after all very 
simple. The elect but unregenerate sinner can do nothing, and 
the work that is to be wrought in him must be wrought by another. 
This is the first grace. But after this is accomplished he is no 
longer passive, for something was brought into him which in the 
second work of grace will cooperate with God. 

But it is not implied that the elect and regenerate sinner is now 
able to do anything without God; or that if God should cease work- 
ing in him, conversion and sanctification would follow of them- 
selves. Both these representations are thoroughly untrue, un-Re- 
formed, and unchristian, because they detract from the work of the 
Holy Spirit in the elect. No ; all spiritual good is of grace to the 
end : grace not only in regeneration, but at every step of the way 
of life. From the beginning to the end and throughout eternity 
the Holy Spirit is the Worker, of regeneration and conversion, of 
justification and every part of sanctification, of glorification, and of 
all the bliss of the redeemed. Nothing may be subtracted from 


But while the Holy Spirit is the only Worker in the first grace, 


in all subsequent operations of grace the regenerate always coope- 
rates with Him, Hence it is not true, as some say, that the regen- 
erate is just as passive as the unregenerate ; this only detracts from 
the work of the Holy Spirit in the frst grace. Neither is it true 
that henceforth the regenerate is the principal worker, only assisted 
by the Holy Spirit; for this is eqtially derogatory to the Spirit's 
work in the second grace. 

Both these errors should be opposed and rejected. For altho, 
on the one hand, it is said that the regenerate, considered out of 
Christ, still lies in the midst of death ; yet, tho he be considered a 
thousand times out of Christ, he remains in Him, for once in His 
hand no one can pluck him out of it. And altho, on the other 
hand, the regenerate is constantly admonished to be active and 
diligent, yet. tho the horse does the pulling, it is not the horse but 
the driver ^cho drives the carriage. 

Reserving this last point until we consider sanctification, we 
now consider the calling, for this sheds more light upon the confes- 
sion of the Reformed churches concerning the second grace than 
any other part of the work of grace. 

After the elect sinner is born again, i.e., quickened, endowed 
with the faculty of faith, and united with Jesus, the next work of 
grace in him is calling, of which Scripture speaks with such empha- 
sis and so often. " But as He which has called you is holy, so be ye 
holy in all manner of conversation " ; " Who hath called you out of 
darkness into His marvelous light"; "The God of all grace who 
hath called us unto His eternal glory " ; " Whereunto He called you 
by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus 
Christ;" "Who hath called you unto His Kingdom and Glory'; 
" I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye were 
called ; " and not to mention more : " Give diligence to make your 
calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never 

In the Sacred Scripture calling has, like regeneration, a wider 
sense and a more limited. 

In the former sense, it means to be called to the eternal glory ; 
hence this includes all that precedes, i.e., calling to repentance, to 
faith, to sanctification, to the performance of duty, to glory, to the 
eternal kingdom, etc. 

Of this, however, we do not speak now. It is now our intention 
to consider the calling in its limited sense, which signifies exclu« 


sively the calling whereby we are called from darkness into light, 
i.e., the call unto repentance. 

This call unto repentance is by many placed upon the same level 
with the "drawing," of which, e.g., Jesus speaks: "No man can 
come unto Me except the Father draw him." This we find also in 
some of St. Paul's words: "Who hath delivered [Dutch translation, 
drawn J us from the power of darkness " ; " That He might deliver 
\draw\ us from this present evil world according to the will of God 
and our Father." However, this seems to me less correct. He that 
must be drawn seems to be unwilling. He that is called must be 
able to come. The first implies that the sinner is still passive, 
and therefore refers to the operation of \.\\q. first grace j the second 
addresses the sinner himself, and counts him able to come, and 
hence belongs to the second grace. 

This "calling "is a summons. It is not merely the calling of 
one to tell him something, but a call implying the command to 
come ; or a beseeching call, as when St. Paul prays : " As tho God 
did beseech you, be ye reconciled to God"; or as in the Proverbs: 
" My son, give Me thine heart." 

God sends this call forth by the preachers of the Word : not by 
the independent preaching of irresponsible men, but by those 
whom He Himself sends forth; men especially endowed, hence 
whose calling is not their own, but His. They are the ministers of 
the Word, royal ambassadors, in the name of the King of Kings 
demanding our heart, life, and person ; yet whose value and honor 
depend exclusively upon their divine mission and commission. As 
the value of an echo depends upon the correct returning of the 
word received, so does their value, honor, and significance depend 
solely upon the correctness wherewith they call, as an echo of the 
Word of God. He who calls correctly fills the highest conceivable 
office on earth ; for he calls kings and emperors, standing above 
them. But he who calls incorrectly or not at all is like a sounding 
brass; as a minister of the Word he is worthless and without honor, 
True to the pure Word, he is all ; without it, he is nothing. Such is 
the responsibility of the preacher. 

This should be noticed lest Arminianism creep into the holy 
office. The preacher must be but instrument of the Holy Spirit; 
even the sermon must be the product of the Holy Ghost. To sup- 
pose that a preacher can have the least authority, honor, or official 
significance outside of the Word, is to make the office Arminian ; 


not the Holy Spirit, but the dominie, is the worker; he works with 
all his might, and the Holy Spirit may be the minister's assistant. 
To avoid such mistake, our Reformed churches have always purged 
themselves of the leaven of clericalism. 

And through this office the call goes forth from the pulpit, in 
the catechetical class, in the family, in writing, and by personal 
exhortation. However, not always to every sinner directly 
through the office. On a ship at sea God may use a godly com- 
mander to call sinners to repentance. In a hospital without spir- 
itual supervision the Lord may use a pious man or woman, both to 
nurse the sick and call their souls to repentance. In a village 
where the quasi-minister neglects his duty, the Lord God may be 
pleased to draw souls to life by printed sermons and books, by a 
newspaper even, or by individual exhortation. 

And yet in all these the authority to call reposes in the divine 
embassy of the ministry of the Word. For the instruments of the 
call, whether they were persons or printed books, proceeded from 
the office. The persons were themselves called through the office, 
and they only transmitted the divine message ; and the printed 
books offered on paper what otherwise is heard in the sanctuary. 

This calling of the Holy Spirit proceeds in and through the 
preaching of the Word, and calls upon the regenerated sinner to 
arise from death, and to let Christ give him light. It is not a call- 
ing of persons still ^//regenerate, simply because such have no 
hearing ear. 

It is true that the preaching of missionary or minister of the 
Word addresses itself also to others, but this is not at all in conflict 
with what we have just said. In the first place, because there is 
also an outward call to the unregenerate, in order to deprive them 
of an excuse, and to show that they have no hearing ears. And 
second, because the minister of the Word does not know whether 
a man is born again or not, wherefore he may make no difference. 

As a rule, every baptized person should be reckoned as belong- 
ing to the regenerated (but not always converted); wherefore the 
preacher must call every baptized person to repentance, as tho he 
were born again. But let no one commit the mistake of applying 
this rule, which applies only to the Church as a whole, to every per- 
son in the Church. This would be either the climax of thoughtless- 
ness or a complete misunderstanding of the reality of the grace of 

The Coming of the Called. 

" That the purpose of God according 
to election might stand, not of 
works, but of Him that calleth." 
— Rom. ix. II. 

The question is, whether the elect cooperate in the call. 

We say, Yes; for the call is no call, in the fullest sense of the 
word, unless the called one can hear and hears so distinctly that it 
impresses him, causes him to rise and to obey God. For this rea- 
son our fathers, for the sake of clearness, used to distinguish be- 
tween the ordinary call and the effectual call. 

God's call does not go forth to the elect alone. The Lord Jesus 
said: " Many are called, few are chosen." And the issue shows that 
masses of men die unconverted, altho called by the outward, or- 
dinary call. 

Nor should this outward call be slighted or esteemed unimpor- 
tant; for by it the judgment of many shall be made the heavier in 
the day of judgment: " If the mighty works which have been done 
in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented 
long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Therefore it shall be more toler- 
able for Tyre and Sidon than for you " ; " And the servant which 
knew the Lord's will and did not according to His will shall be 
beaten with many stripes." Moreover, the effect of this outward 
call reaches sometimes much deeper than is generally supposed, 
and brings one sometimes to the very point of real conversion. 

The unregenerate are not so insensible to the truth as never to 
be touched by it. The decisive words of Heb. vi., concerning the 
apparently converted who have even tasted of the heavenly gift, 
prove the contrary. St. Peter speaks of sows which were washed 
and then returned to the wallowing in the mire. One can be per- 
suaded to be almost a Christian. But for the selling of his goods 
the rich young ruler would have been won for Christ. Wherefore 


the effect of the ordinary call is by no means as weak and meager 
as is commonly believed. In the parable of the sower the fourth 
class of hearers alone belong to the elect, for they alone bear fruit. 
Still there is among two of the remaining classes a considerable 
amount of growth. One of them even produces high stalks and 
ears; only there is no fruit. 

And for this reason the men that company with the people of 
God should earnestly examine their own hearts, whether their fol- 
lowing'of the Word is the result of having the seed sown in " good 
ground." Oh, there is so much of illumination and of delight even; 
and yet only to be choked, because it does not contain the genuine 
germ of life. 

All these unregenerate persons lack saving grace. They hear 
only with the carnal understanding. They receive the Word, but 
only in the field of their unsanctified imagination. They let it 
work upon their natural conscience. It plays merely upon the 
waves of their natural emotions. Thus they may be moved to 
tears, and they ardently love whatever so affects them. Yea, they 
often perform many good works which are truly praiseworthy; 
they may even give their goods to the poor, and their bodies to be 
burned. Their salvation is therefore considered to be a matter of 
fact. But the holy apostle completely destroys their hope, saying: 
" Tho you speak with the tongues of men and of angels, tho you 
understand all mystery, tho you give all your goods to feed the 
poor, and tho you give your body to be burned, and have not love, 
it profiteth you nothing." 

Hence to be God's child and not a sounding brass, deep insight 
into the divine mysteries, an excited imagination, a troubled con- 
science, and waves of feeling are not required, for all these may be 
experienced without any real covenant grace ; but what is needed 
is true, deep love operating in the heart, illuminating and vitali- 
zing all these things. 

Adam's sin consisted in this, that he banished all the love of 
God from his heart. Now it is impossible to be neutral or indiffer- 
ent toward God. When Adam ceased to love God, he began to hate 
Him. And it is this hatred of God which no wlies at the bottom of 
the heart of every child of Adam. Hence conversion means this, 
that a man get rid of that hatred and receive loi>e in its place. He 
who says from the heart, " I love the Lord," is all right. What 
more can he desire ! 


But as long as there is no love for God, there is nothing. For 
mere willingness to do something for God, even to bear great sacri- 
fices, and to be very pious and benevolent, except it spring from 
the right motive, is in its deepest ground nothing but a despising of 
God. However beautiful the veneering, all these apparently good 
works are inwardly cankered, sin-eaten, and decayed. Love alone 
imparts the real flavor to the sacrifice. Wherefore the holy apostle 
declares so sternly and sharply : " Tho you give your body to be 
burned, and have not love, it profiteth you nothing." 

To perform good works in order to be saved, or to oblige God, 
or to make one's own piety lofty and conspicuous, is a growth from 
the old root and at the most but a semblance of love. To cherish 
true love for God is to be constrained by love to yield one's ego 
with all that it is and has, and to let God be God again. And the 
ordinary, the general, the outward call never has such effect ; it is 
incapable of producing it. 

Wherefore we leave the ordinary call and return to the call 
which is particular, wonderful, inward, and effectual; which ad- 
dresses itself not to all, but exclusively to the elect. 

This call, which is spoken of as" heavenly" (Heb. iii. i), as "holy" 
(2 Tim. i. 9), as " being without repentance " (Rom. xi. 29), is " according 
to God' s purpose" (Rom. viii. 28), is "from above in Christ J esus our 
Lord" (Phil. iii. 14), and does not have its starting-point in the 
preaching. He that calls by it is God, not the minister. And this 
call goes forth by the means of two agencies, one coming to man 
from without and the other from within. Both these agencies are 
effectual, and the call has accomplished its purpose and the sinner 
has come to repentance as soon as their workings meet and unite 
in the center of his being. 

Hence we deny that the regenerate, hearing the preached 
Word, will come of himself. We do not thus understand their co- 
operation. If the inward call is sufficient, how is it that the regen- 
erate can sometimes hear the preaching without arising, unrepent- 
ant, refusing to let Christ give him light? But we confess that 
the call of the regenerate is twofold: from without by the preached 
Word, and from within by the exhortation and conviction of the 
Holy Spirit. 

Hence the work of the Holy Spirit in the calling is twofold : 

The first work is, as He comes with the Word: the Word which 
Is inspired, prepared, committed to writing, and preserved by Him- 


self, who is God the Holy Ghost. And He brings that Word to the 
sinners by preachers whom He Himself has endowed with talents, 
animation', and spiritual insight. And so wonderfully does He 
conduct that preaching through the channel of the otBce and of the 
historical development of the confession, that at last it comes to 
him in the form and character required to affect and win him. 

We see in this a very mysterious leading of the Holy Spirit. 
Afterward a preacher will learn that, under his preaching in such 
a church and at such an hour, a regenerate person was converted. 
And yet he had not specially prepared himself for it. Frequently 
he did not even know that person ; much less his spiritual condi- 
tion. And yet, without knowing it, his thoughts were guided and 
his word was prepared in such a way by the Holy Ghost ; perhaps 
he looked at the man in such a manner that his word, in connection 
with the Spirit's inward operation, became to him the real and con- 
crete Word of God. We hear it often said: "That was directly 
preached at me." And so it was. It should be understood, how- 
ever, that it was not the minister who preached at you, for he did 
not even think of you ; but it was the Holy Spirit Himself. It was 
He who thought of you. It was He who had it all prepared for 
you. It was He Himself who wrought in you. 

The ministers of the Word should therefore be exceedingly 
careful not in the least to boast of the conversions that occur under 
their ministry. When after days of failure the fisherman draws his 
net full of fishes, is this cause for the net to boast itself? Did it not 
come up empty again and again ; and then was it not nearly torn 
asunder by the multitude of fishes? 

To say that this proves the efficiency of the preacher is against 
the Scripture. There may be two ministers, the one well grounded 
in doctrine, the other but lightly furnished ; and yet the former has 
no conversions in his church, while the latter is being richly blessed. 
In this the Lord God is and remains the Sovereign Lord. He passes 
by the heavily armed champions in Saul's army, and David, with 
scarcely any weapons at all, slays the giant Goliath. All that a 
preacher has to do is to consider how, in obedience to his Lord, he 
may minister the Word, leaving results with the Lord. And when 
the Lord God gives him conversions, and Satan whispers, " What 
an excellent preacher you are, that it was given you to convert so 
many men!" then he is to say, " Get thee behind me, Satan," giv- 
ing the glory to the Holy Spirit alone. 


j5owever, it is not the Holy Spirit's only care in such a way 
and focus of life to cause the Word to come to a regenerate person, 
but He adds also a second uwrk, viz., that by which the preached 
Word effectively enters the very center of his heart and life. 

By this second care He so illuminates his natural understand- 
ing and strengthens his natural ability and imagination that he 
receives the general tenor of the preached Word and thoroughly 
understands its contents. 

But this is not all, for even pretended believers may have this. 
The seed of the Word attains this growth also in those who have 
received the seed into a rocky ground and among thorns. Hence 
to this is added the illumitiation of his understanding, which wonder- 
ful gift enables him not only to apprehend the general sense of the 
preached Word, but also to perceive and realize that this Word 
comes to him directly _/rf;« God; that it affects and condemns his 
very being, thus causing him to penetrate into its hidden essence 
and feel the sharp sting which effects conviction. 

Lastly, the Holy Spirit plies this conviction — which otherwise 
would quickly vanish — so long and so severely, that finally the sting, 
like the keen edge of a lancet, pierces the thick skin and lays open 
the festering sore. This is in the called a very wonderful opera- 
tion. The general understanding puts the matter before him ; the 
illumination reveals to him what it contains: and the conviction puts 
the sharp two-edged sword directly upon his heart. Then, how- 
ever, he is inclined to shrink from that sword ; not to let it pierce 
through, but to let it glance harmlessly from the soul. But then 
the Holy Spirit, in full activity, continues to press that sword of 
conviction, driving it so forcibly into the soul that at last it cuts 
through and takes effect. 

But this does not end the calling. For after the Holy Spirit has 
done all this. He begins to operate upon the will ; not by forcibly 
bending it, as an iron rod in the strong hand of the blacksmith, but 
by making it, tho stiff and unyielding, pliant and tender from with- 
in. He could not do this in the unregenerate. But having laid in 
regeneration the foundation of all these subsequent operations in 
the soul. He proceeds to build upon it ; or, to take another figure. 
He draws the sprouts from the germ planted in the ground. They 
do not start of themselves, but He draws them out of the germ. A 
grain of wheat deposited in a desk remains what it is; but warmed 


by the sun in the soil, the heat causes it to sprout. And so it is 
here. The vital germ can do nothing of itself; it remains what it 
is. Rut when the Holy Spirit causes the fostering rays of the Sun 
of Righteousness to play upon it, then it germinates, and thus He 
draws from it the blade and the ear and the corn in the ear. 

Hence the yielding of the will is the result of a tenderness and 
emotion and affection which sprang from the implanted germ of 
life, by which the will, which was at first inflexible, became pliant; 
by which that which was inclined to the left was drawn to the right. 
And so, by this last act, conviction, with all that it contains, was 
brought into the will ; and this resulted in the yielding of self, giv- 
ing glory to God. 

And in this way love entered the soul — love tender, genuine, and 
mysterious, the ecstasy of which vibrates in our hearts during all 
our after-life. 

And this finishes the exposition of the divine work of calling. 
It belongs to the elect alone. It is irresistible, and no man can hin- 
der it. Without it no sinner ever passed from the bitterness of 
hatred to the sweetness of love. When the call and regeneration co- 
incide, they seem to be one; and so they are to our consciousness: 
but actually they are distinct. They differ in this respect, that re^ 
generation takes place independently of the will and understanding ; 
that it is wrought in us without our aid or cooperation ; while in 
calling, the will and understanding begin to act, so that we hear 
with both the outward and inward ear, and with the inclined will 
are willing to go out to the light. 

Conversion of All That Come. 

" Turn Thou me and I shall be turned." 
—Jer. xxxi. i8. 

The elect, born again and effectually called, converts himself. 
To remain unconverted is impossible ; but he inclines his ear, he 
turns his face to the blessed God, he is converted in the fullest 
sense of the word. 

In conversion the fact of cooperation on the part of the saved 
sinner assumes a clearly defined and perceptible character. In re- 
generation there was none ; in the calling there was a beginning 
of it; in conversion proper it became a fact. When the Holy Spirit 
regenerates a man, it is an " Effatha," i.e.. He opens the ear. When 
He effectually calls him. He speaks into that opened ear, which 
cooperates by receiving the sound, that is, by barkening. But 
when the Holy Spirit actually converts the man, then the act of 
man coalesces with the act of the Holy Spirit, and it is said: " Let 
the wicked forsake his way, and let him return unto the Lord, and 
He will have mercy upon him "; and in another place : " The law of 
the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." 

It is a remarkable fact that the Sacred Scripture refers to con- 
\Qrs\ona.\mosi one hundred and forty times SLshQmg an act of man, and 
only six times as an act of the Holy Ghost. It is repeated again 
and again : "Repent and turn to the Lord your God"; "Turn, O 
backsliding children, saith the Lord" (Jer. iii. 22); "Sinners shall 
return unto Thee" (Psalm li. 13, Dutch Version); "Repent and do 
thy first works" (Rev. ii. 5). But conversion as an act of the Holy 
Spirit is spoken of only in Psalm xix. 8, " The law of the Lord is per- 
fect, converting the soul" ; in Jer. xxxi. 18, "Turn Thou me and I 
shall be turned"; in Acts xi. 18. "That God also to the Gentiles 
granted repentance unto life " ; Rom. ii. 4, " That the goodness of 
God leadeth thee to repentance"; in 2 Tim. ii. 25, " If God peradven- 
ture will ^/zr them repentance"; in Heb. vi. 6, " That it is impossi- 
ble to renew such (as fall away) to repentance." 


This fact should be carefully considered. When Scripture pre- 
sents conversion as the Spirit's act but six times, and as man's act one 
hundred and forty times, in preaching the same proportion should 
be observed. And, therefore, the preachers who, when preaching 
on conversion, treat it almost invariably in its passive aspect and 
in the abstract; who apparently lack the courage and boldness to 
declare to their hearers that it is their duty to convert themselves 
unto God, seriously err. It has a very pious look, but it is against 
the Scripture. And yet it is perfectly natural that one should hesi- 
tate to say, " You must convert yourself" so long as regeneration 
and conversion are still confounded. For then the declaration, 
" You must convert yourself," ignores the sovereignty of God, and 
implies that a dead sinner is still able to do something of himself. 
And this is the reason why the preachers who will not surrender 
the sovereignty of God, and who will not deduct anything from the 
deadness of the sinner, are afraid "to speak to deaf ears." Hence 
they /ray for the conversion of the hearers, but dare not in the 
Name of the Lord demand \t of them. 

And nothing may be deducted either from the divine sovereign- 
ty or from the sinner's deadness. Every demand for conversion 
which has such tendency is Pelagianism, and must be rejected. 
But if the teaching of the Reformed Church in this respect be 
thoroughly understood, the whole difficulty disappears. 

It should be noticed, however, that Scripture, speaking of con- 
version, does not always imply that it is saving conversion. The 
real work of salvation is always accompanied on its way by a phan- 
tom. Alongside of saving faith goes temporal faith ; alongside of 
the effectual call, the ordinary call ; and alongside of saving conver- 
sion, ordinary conversion. 

Conversion in its saving sense occurs but once in a man's life, 
and this act can never be repeated. Once having passed from 
death unto life, he is alive and will never return unto death. Per- 
dition is not a stream spanned by many bridges ; nor does the saint, 
tossed between endless hopes and fears, cross the bridge leading to 
life, by and by to return by another to the shores of death. No; 
there is but one bridge, which can be crossed but once ; and he that 
has crossed it is kept by the power of God from going back. Tho 
all powers should combine to draw him back, God is stronger than 
all, and no one shall pluck him out of His hand. 

We state this as distinctly and forcibly as possible, for at this 


point souls are often led astray. It is heard repeatedly these days. 
" Your conversion is not a momentary act, but an act of life which 
repeats itself constantly : and wo to the man who fails for a single 
day to be converted anew." And this is altogether wrong. Lan- 
guage should not be so confounded. Tho the child grows for twenty 
years after he is born, and before he attains maturity, yet he is born 
but once, and neither conception r\ov pregnancy before it, not growth 
after it, is called " birth." 

The fixed boundary should be respected also in this instance. It 
is true that conversion is preceded by something else, but that is 
called not " conversion," but " regeneration" and " calling"; and so 
there is something following " conversion," but that is called " sanc- 
tification." No doubt the word " conversion" may also be applied 
to the return of the converted but backslidden child of God, after 
the example of Scripture ; but then it refers not to the saving 
act of conversion, but to the continuance of the work once be- 
gun, or to a return not from death, but from a temporary going 

In order to discriminate correctly in this matter, it is necessary 
to notice the four/old use of the word conversion in the Scripture. 

1. "Conversion," in its widest scope, signifies a forsaking of 
wickedness and a disposition to morality. In this sense it is said 
of the Ninevites that God saw their works, that they turned from 
their evil works. This does not imply, however, that all these 
Ninevites belonged to the elect, and that every one of them was 

2. " Conversion," in its limited sense, signifies saving conver- 
sion, as in Isa. Iv. 7 : " Let the wicked forsake his way, and the 
unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, 
and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will 
abundantly pardon." 

3. And again, " conversion " signifies that, even after it has be- 
come a fact in our hearts, its principles must be applied to every 
relation of our life. A converted person may for a long time con- 
tinue to indulge in bad habits and ungodly practises, but gradually 
his eyes are opened for the evil, and then he repents and forsakes 
the one after the other. So we read in Ezek. xviii. 30: "Repent 
and turn yourselves from a/i your transgressions." 

4. Lastly, "conversion" signifies the return of converted per- 
sons to their first love, after a season of coldness and weakness in 


the faith, e.g. : " Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, 
and repent and do thy first works" (Rev. ii. 5). 

But in this connection we speak of saving conversion, of which 
we make the following remarks : 

First — It is not the spontaneous act of the regenerate. Without 
the Holy Spirit conversion would not follow regeneration. Even 
tho called, he could not come of himself. Hence it is of primary 
importance to acknowledge the Holy Spirit, and to honor His work 
as the first cause of conversion as well as of regeneration and call- 
ing. As no one can pray as he ought unless the Holy Spirit prays 
in him with groans that can not be uttered, so no regenerate and 
called person can convert himself as he ought unless the Holy 
Spirit begin and continue the work in him. The redemptive work 
is not like the growing plant, increasing of itself. Nay, if the saint 
is a temple of God, the Holy Spirit dwells in him. And this in- 
dwelling indicates that everything accomplished by the saint is 
wrought in him in communion with, by the incitement and 
through the animation of the Holy Spirit. The implanted life is 
not an isolated germ left to root in the soul without the Holy Spirit 
and the Mediator, but it is carried, kept, bedewed, and fostered 
from moment to moment out of Christ by the Holy Spirit. As men 
can not speak without air and the operation of Providence vitali- 
zing the organs of respiration and articulation, so it is impossible 
that the regenerated man can live and speak and act from the new 
life without being supported, incited, and animated by the Holy 

Hence when the Holy Spirit calls that man and he turns him- 
self, then there is not the slightest part in this act of the will which 
is not supported, incited, and animated by the Holy Spirit. 

Second — This saving conversion is also the conscious and volun- 
tary choice and act of the person bom again and called. While the 
air and impulse to speak must come from without, and my organs 
of speech must be supported by the providence of God, yet it is J 
who speak. And in much stronger sense does the Holy Spirit in 
conversion work upon the wheels and springs of man's regene- 
rated personality, so that all His operations must pass through 
man's ego. 

Many of His operations do not aflfect the ego, as in Balaam's 
case. But not so in conversion. Then the Holy Spirit works only 


through us. Whatever He wills He brings into our will ; He causes 
ail His actions to be effected through the organism of our being. 

Hence man must be commanded, " Convert thyself." The teach- 
er bids the pupil speak, altho he knows that the child can not do so 
unaided by Providence. In the new life the ego depends upon the 
Holy Spirit who dwells and works in him. But in conversion he 
knows nothing of this indwelling, nor that he is born again ; and it 
would be useless to speak to him about it. He must be told, " Con- 
vert thyself." If the Spirit's action accompanies that word, the 
man will convert himself; if not, he will continue unconverted. 
But tho he convert himself, he will not boast, I have done this my- 
self, but bow down in thankfulness and glorify that divine work by 
which he was co7iverted. 

In these two we find the evidence of genuine conversion : first, 
the man bidden, converts himself, and then he gratefully gives 
glory to the Holy Spirit alone. Not that we fear a man's conver- 
sion will be hindered by some one's neglect. In all the work of 
God's grace His Almightiness sweeps away everything that resists, 
so that all opposition melts away like wax, and every mountain of 
pride flees from His presence. Neither slothfulness nor neglect 
can ever hinder an elect person from passing from death into life 
at the appointed time. 

But there is a responsibility for the preacher, for the pastor, for 
parents and guardians. To be free from a man's blood, we must 
tell every man that conversion is his urgent duty ; and to be without 
excuse before God, after his conversion, we must give thanks to God, 
who alone has accomplished it in and through His creature. 

stjtb Cbaptcr. 


•' Being justified freely by His grace, 
through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus." — Rom. iii. 24. 

The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that true conversion con- 
sists of these two parts : the dying of the old man, and the rising 
again of the new. This last should be noticed. The Catechism 
says not that the new life originates in conversion, but that it 
arises in conversion. That which arises must exist before. Else 
how could it arise? This agrees with our statement that regenera- 
tion precedes conversion, and that by the effectual calling the new- 
born child of God is brought to conversion. 

We now proceed to consider a matter which, tho belonging to 
the same subject and running parallel with it, yet moves along an 
entirely different line, viz., Justification. 

In the Sacred Scripture, justification occupies the most conspic- 
uous place, and is presented as of greatest importance for the sin- 
ner : " For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God ; 
being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that 
is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. iii. 24). "Therefore, hemg justified 
by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" 
(Rom. V. I) ; " Who was delivered for our offenses and raised again 
for our Justification" (Rom. iv. 25); " Who of God is made unto us 
from God, wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemp- 
tion" (i Cor. i. 30). 

And not only is this so strongly emphasized by Scripture, but it 
was also the very kernel of the Reformation, which puts this doc- 


trine of " justification by faith " boldly and clearly in opposition to 
the " meritorious works of Rome." " Justification by faith" was in 
those days the shibboleth of the heroes of faith, Martin Luther in 
the van. 

And when, in the present century, a self-wrought sanctification 
presented itself again, as the actual power of redemption, it was 
the not insignificant merit of Kohlbrugge, that he, tho less compre- 
hensively than the reformers, fastened this matter of justification, 
with penetrating earnestness, upon the conscience of Christendom. 
It may have been superfluous for the churches still truly Reformed, 
but it was exceedingly opportune for the circles where the garland 
of truth was less closely woven, and the sense of justice had been 
allowed to become weak, as partially in our own country, but espe- 
cially beyond our borders. There are in Switzerland and in Bohe- 
mia groups of men who have heard, for the first time, of the neces- 
sity of justification by faith, through the labors of Kohlbrugge. 

Through the grace of God, our people did not go so far astray ; 
and where the Ethicals, largely from principle, surrendered this 
point of doctrine, the Reformed did and do oppose them, admon- 
ishing them with all energy, and as often as possible, not to merge 
justification in sanctification. 

Regarding the question, how justification differs, on the one 
hand, from " regeneration," and, on the other, from " calling and 
conversion," we answer that justification emphasizes the idea of 

Right regulates the relations between two persons. Where 
there is but one there is no right, simply because there are no rela- 
tions to regulate. Hence by right we understand either the right 
of man in relation to man, or the claim of God upon man. It is in 
this last sense that we use the word right. 

The Lord is our Lawgiver, our Judge, our King. Hence He is 
absolutely Sovereign : as Lawgiver determining what is right; as 
Judge judging our being and doing; as King dispensing rewards 
and punishments. This sheds light upon the difference between 
justification and regeneration. The new birth and the call and 
conversion have to do with our being as sinners or as regenerate 
men; but justification with the relation which we sustain to God, 
either as sinners or as those born again. 

Apart from the question of right, the sinner may be considered 


as a sick person, who is infected and inoculated with disease. 
After being bom again he improves, the infection disappears, the 
corruption ceases, and he prospers again. But this concerns his 
person alone, how he is, and what his prospects are ; it does not 
touch the question of right. 

The question of right arises when I see in the sinner a creature 
not his own, but belonging to another. 

Herein is all the difference. If man is to me the principal fac- 
tor, so that I have nothing else in view but his improvement and 
deliverance from misery, then the Almighty God is in this whole 
matter a mere Physician, called in and affording assistance, who 
receives His fee, and is discharged with many thanks. The 
question of right does not enter here at all. So long as the 
sinner is made more holy, all is well. Of course, if he is made 
perfect, all the better. Clearly understanding, however, that man 
belongs not to himself, but to another, the matter assumes an en- 
tirely different aspect. For then he can not be or do as he pleases, 
but another has determined what he must be and what he must 
do. And if he does or is otherwise, he is guilty as a transgressor: 
guilty because he rebelled, guilty because he transgressed. 

Hence when I believe in the divine sovereignty, the sinner 
appears to me in an entirely different aspect. As infected and 
mortally ill, he is to be pitied and kindly treated; but considered 
as belonging to God, standing under God, and as having robbed 
God, that same sinner becomes a guilty transgressor. 

This is true to some extent of animals. When I lasso a wild 
horse on the American prairies for training, it never enters my 
mind to punish him for his wildness. But the runaway in the city 
streets must be punished. He is vicious; he threw his rider; he 
refused to be led and chose his own way. Hence he needs to 
be punished. 

And man much more so. When I meet him in his wild career 
of sin, I know that he is a rebel, that he broke the reins, threw his 
rider, and now dashes on in mad revolt. Hence such sinner must 
be not only healed, but punished. He does not need medical treat- 
ment alone, but before all things he n^Qdis juridical treatment. 

Apart from his disease a sinner has done evil ; there is no virtue 
in him; he has violated the right; he deserves punishment. Sup- 
pose, for a moment, that sin had not touched his person, had not 
corrupted him, had left him intact as a man, then there would have 


been no need of regeneration, of healing, of a rising again, of sanc- 
tification; nevertheless he would have been subject to the ven- 
geance of justice. 

Hence man's case in relation to his God must be considered 
juridically. Be not afraid of that word, brother. Rather insist 
that it be pronounced with as strong an emphasis as possible. It 
must be emphasized, and all the more strongly, because for so 
many years it has been scorned, and the churches have been made 
to believe that this "juridical" aspect of the case was of no impor- 
tance ; that it was a representation really unworthy of God ; that 
the principal thing was to bring forth fruit meet for repentance. 

Beautiful teaching, gradually pushed into the world from the 
closet of philosophy : teaching that declares that morality included 
the right and stood far above the right; that " right" was chiefly a 
notion of the life of less civilized ages and of crude persons, but of 
no importance to our ideal age and to the ideal development of 
humanity and of individuals; yea, that in some respects it is even 
objectionable, and should never be allowed to enter into that holy 
and high and tender relation that exists between God and man. 

The fruit of this pestilential philosophy is, that now in Europe 
the sense of right is gradually dying of slow consumption. Among 
the Asiatic nations this sense of right has greater vitality than 
among us. Might is again greater than right. Right is again the 
right of the strongest. And the luxurious circles, who in their 
atony of spirit at first protested against the "juridical" in theology, 
discover now with terror that certain classes in society are losing 
more and more respect for the "juridical" in the question of prop- 
erty. Even in regard to the possession of land and house, and treas- 
ure and fields, this new conception of life considers the " juridical" 
a less noble idea. Bitter satire! You who, in your wantonness, 
started the mockery of the " juridical " in connection with God, find 
your punishment now in the fact that the lower classes start the 
mockery of this " juridical " in connection with your money and 
your goods. Yea, more than this. When recently in Paris a wom- 
an was tried for having shot and killed a man in court, not only did 
the jury acquit her, but she was made the heroine of an ovation. 
Here also other motives were deemed more precious, and the " ju- 
ridical " aspect had nothing to do with it. 

And, therefore, in the name of God and of the right which He 


has ordained, we urgently request that every minister of the Word, 
and every man in his place, help and labor, with clear conscious- 
ness and energy, to stop this dissolution of the right, with all the 
means at their disposal; and especially solemnly and effectually to 
restore to its own conspicuous place the juridical feature of the sin- 
ner's relation to his God. When this is done, we shall feel again 
the stimulus that will cause the soul's relaxed muscles to con- 
tract, rousing us from our semi-unconsciousness. Every man, and 
especially every member of the Church, must again realize his jurid- 
ical relation to God now and forever; that he is not merely man or 
woman, but a creature belonging to God, absolutely controlled by 
God; and guilty and punishable when not acting according to the 
will of God. 

This being clearly understood, it is evident that regeneration 
and calling and conversion, yea, even complete reformation and 
sanctification, can not be sufficient; for, altho these are very glori- 
ous, and deliver you from sin's stain and pollution, and help you 
not to violate the law so frequently, yet they do not touch your 
juridical relation to God. 

When a mutinous battalion gets into serious straits, and the 
general, hearing of it, delivers them at the cost of ten killed and 
twenty wounded, who had not mutinied, and brings them back and 
feeds them, do you think that that will be all? Do you not see 
that such battalion is still liable to punishment with decimation? 
And when man mutinied against his God, and got himself into 
trouble and nearly perished with misery, and the Lord God sent 
him help to save him, and called him back, and he returned, can 
that be the end of it? Do you not clearly see that he is still liable 
to severe punishment? In case of a burglar who robs and kills, but 
in making his escape breaks his leg, and is sent to the hospital 
where he is treated, and then goes out a cripple unable to repeat 
his crime, do you think that the judge would give him his liberty, 
saying: "He is healed now and will never do it again"? No; he 
will be tried, convicted, and incarcerated. Even so here. Because 
by our sins and transgressions we have wounded ourselves, and 
made ourselves wretched, and are in need of medical help, is out 
guilt forgotten for this reason? 

Why, then, are such undermining ideas brought among the 
people? Why is it that under the appearance of love a sentimental 
Christianity is introduced about the " dear Jesus," and " that we are 


so sick,' and " the Physician is passing by," and that " it is, oh! so 
glorious to be in fellowship with that holy Mediator" ? 

Are our people really ignorant of the fact that this whole repre- 
sentation stands diametrically opposed to Sacred Scripture — opposed 
to all that ever animated the Church of Christ and made it strong? 
Do they not feel that such a feeble and spongy Christianity is a 
clay too soft for the making of heroes in the Kingdom of God? 
And do they not see that the number of men who are drawn to the 
" dear Jesus" is much smaller now than that of the men who for- 
merly were drawn to the Mediator of the right, who with His pre- 
cious blood hath fully satisfied for all our sins? 

And when it is answered, " That is just what we teach ; recon- 
ciliation in His blood, redemption through His death! It is all 
paid for us! Only come and hear our preaching and sing our 
hymns!" then we beseech the brethren who thus speak to be seri- 
ous for a moment. For, behold, our objection is not that you deny 
the reconciliation through His blood, but that, by being silent on 
the question of God's right, and of our state of condemnation, and 
by being satisfied when the people " only come to Jesus," you allow 
the consciousness of guilt to wear out, you make genuine repentance 
impossible, you substitute a certain discontent with oneself for 
brokenness of heart ; and thus you weaken the faculty to feel, to un- 
derstand, and to realize what the meaning is of reconciliation 
through the blood of the cross. 

It is quite possible to bring about reconciliation without touch- 
ing the question of the right at all. By some misunderstanding 
two friends have become estranged, separated from, and hostile to 
each other. But they may be reconciled. Not necessarily by ma- 
king one to see that he violated the rights of the other; this was 
perhaps never intended. And even if there was some right viola- 
ted, it would not be expedient to speak of the past, but to cover it 
with the mantle of love and to look only to the future. And such 
reconciliation, if successful, is very delightful, and may have cost 
both the reconciled and the reconciler much of conflict and sacri- 
fice, yea, prayers and tears. And yet, with all this, such reconcil- 
iation does not touch the question of right. 

In this way it appears to us these brethren preach reconcilia- 
tion. It is true that they preach it with much warmth and anima- 
tion even; but— and this is our complaint — they consider and pre- 
sent it as an enmity caused by whispering, misunderstanding, and 


wrong inclination, rather than by violation of the right. And, in con- 
sequence, their preaching of reconciliation through the blood of the 
cross no longer causes the deep chord of the right to vibrate in 
men's souls; but it resembles the reconciliation of two friends, who 
at an evil hour became estranged from each other. 

Our Status. 

" And he believed in the Lord : and he 
counted it to him for righteousness." 
— Gen. XV. 6. 

The right touches a man's status. So long as the law has not 
proven him guilty, has not convicted and sentenced him, his legal 
status is that of a free and law-abiding citizen. But as soon as his 
guilt is proven in court and the jury has convicted him, he passes 
from that into the status of the bound and law-breaking citizen. 

The same applies to our relation to God. Our status before God 
is that either of the just or of the unjust. In the former, we are 
not condemned or we are released from condemnation. He that is 
still under condemnation occupies the status of the unjust. 

Hence, and this is noteworthy, a man's status depends not upon 
what he is, but upon the decision of the proper authorities regard- 
ing him; not upon what he is actually, but upon what he is counted 
to be. 

A clerk in an office is innocently suspected of embezzlement, 
and accused before a court of law. He pleads not guilty ; but the 
suspicions against him carry conviction, and the judge condemns 
him. Now, tho he did not embezzle, is actually innocent, he is 
counted guilty. And since a man does not determine his own 
status, but his sovereign or judge determines it for him, the status 
of this clerk, altho innocent, is, from the moment of his conviction, 
that of a law-breaker. And the contrary may occur just as well. 
In the absence of convicting evidence the judge may acquit a dis- 
honest clerk, who, altho guilty and a law-breaker, still retains his 
status of a law-abiding and honest citizen. In this case he is dis- 
honorable, but he is counted honorable. Hence a man's status de- 
pends not upon what he actually is, but what he is counted \.o be. 

The reason is, that man's status has no reference to his inward 
being, but only to the manner in which he is to be treated. It would 
be useless to determine this himself, for his fellow citizens would 


not receive it. Tho he asserted a hundred times, " I am an honor- 
able citizen," they would pay no attention to it. But if the judge 
declares him honorable, and then they should dare to call him dis- 
honorable, there would be a power to maintain his status against 
those who attack him. Hence a man's own declaration can not 
obtain him a legal status. He may fancy or assume a status of 
righteousness, but it has no stability, it is no status. 

This explains why, in our own good land, a man's legal status 
as a citizen is determined not by himself, but solely by the king, 
either as sovereign or as judge. The king is judge, for all judg- 
ment is pronounced in his name ; and, altho the judiciary can not 
be denied a certain authority independent of the executive, yet in 
every sentence it is the king's judicature which pronounces judg- 
ment. Hence a man's status depends solely upon the king's de- 
cision. Now the king has decided, once for all, that every citizen 
never convicted of crime is counted honorable. Not because all 
are honorable, but that they shall be counted as such. Hence so 
long as a man was never sentenced, he passes for honorable, even 
tho he is not. And as soon as he is sentenced, he is considered 
dishonorable, tho he is perfectly honorable. And thus his status is 
detertnined by his king; and in it he is accounted not according to 
what he is, but what his king counts him to be. Even without the 
judiciary, it is the king who determines a man's state in society, 
not according to what he is, but what the king counts him to be. 

A person's sex is determined not by his condition, but by what 
the registrar of vital statistics in his register has declared him to be. 
If by some mistake a girl were registered as a boy, and therefore 
counted as a boy, then at the proper time she would be summoned 
to serve in the militia, unless the mistake were corrected, and she 
be counted to be what she is. It may be a. pretended, and not the 
real, child of the rich nobleman in whose name it is registered. 
And yet it makes no difference whose child it really is, for the state 
will support it in all its rights of inheritance, because it passes for 
the child of that nobleman, and is counted to be his legitimate child. 

Hence it is the rule in society that a man's status is determined 
not by his actual condition, nor by his own declaration, but by 
the sovereign under whom he stands. And this sovereign has the 
power, by his decision, to assign to a man the status to which, ac- 
cording to his condition, he belongs, or to put him in a status where 
he does not belong, but to which he is accounted to belong. 


This is the case even in matters where mistakes are out of the 
question. At the time of the king's death and of the pregnancy of 
his widow, a prince or princess is counted to exist, even before he 
or she is born. And, accordingly, while the child is still a nursing 
babe, it is counted to be the owner of large possessions, even tho 
these possessions may be entirely lost, before the child can hear 
of them. And so there are a number of cases where standing and 
condition, without anybody's fault or mistake, are entirely different; 
simply because it is possible that a man be in a state into which he 
has not yet grown. 

The king alone can determine his own status ; if it pleases him 
to register to-morrow incognito, as a count or a baron, he will be 
relieved from the usual royal honors. 

We have elaborated this point more largely, because the Ethi- 
cals and the Mystics have got our poor people so bitterly out of the 
habit of reckoning with this counting of God. The word of Scrip- 
ture, " Abraham believed, and it was counted to him for righteous- 
ness," is no longer understood ; or it is made to refer to the merit of 
faith, which is Arminian doctrine. 

The Holy Spirit often speaks of this counting of God : " I am 
counted -with, them that go down into the pit"; "The Lord shall 
count them when He writeth up the peoples " ; " And it was counted 
unto Phineas for righteousness unto all generations, forever- 
more." So it is said of Jesus, that " He was counted [numbered] 
with the transgressors " ; of Judas that " he was counted with the 
eleven " ; of the i^^circumcision which keeps the law, that " it 
shall be counted unto him for circumcision " ; of Abraham that 
"his faith was counted unto him for righteousness"; of him "that 
worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly," 
that " his faith is counted unto him for righteousness " ; and of the 
children of the promise that " they are counted iov the seed." 

It is this very counting that appears to the children of this present 
age so incomprehensible and problematic. They will not hear of 
it. And, as Rome at one time severed the tendon of the Gospel, 
by merging justification in sanctification, mixing and identifying 
the two, so do people now refuse to listen to anything but an Ethi- 
cal justification, which is actually only a species of sanctification. 
Hence God's counting counts for nothing. It is not heeded. It 
has no worth nor significance attached to it. The only question is 


what a man is. The measure of worth is nothing else but the worth 
of OMXX personality. 

And this we oppose most emphatically. It is a denial of justifi- 
cation in toto J and such denial is essentially mutiny and rebellion 
against God, a withdrawing of oneself from the authority of one's 
legal sovereign. 

All those who consider themselves saved because they have holy 
emotions, or because they think themselves less sinful, and profess 
to make progress in sanctification — all these, however dissimilar 
they may be in all other things, have this in common, that they 
insist on being counted according to their own declaration, and not 
according to what God counts them to be. Instead of leaving, as 
dependent creatures, the honor of determining their status to their 
sovereign King, whose they are, they sit as judges to determine it 
themselves, by their own progress in good works. 

And not only this, but they also detract from the redemption 
which is in Christ Jesus, and from the reality of the guilt for which 
He satisfied. He who maintains that God must count a man ac- 
cording to what he is, and not according to what God wills to count 
him, can never understand how the Lord Jesus could bear our sins, 
and be a "curse "and "sin "for us. He must interpret this sin- 
bearing in the sense of a physical or Ethical fellowship, and seek 
for reconciliation not in the cross of Jesus, but in His manger, as 
many actually do in these days. 

And as they thus make the actual bearing of our guilt by the 
Mediator unthinkable, so they make inherited guilt impossible. 

Assuredly, they say, there is inherited stain, taken in a Mani- 
chean sense, but no original guilt. For how could the guilt of a 
dead man be counted unto us? It is evident, therefore, that by this 
thoughtless and bold denial of the right of God, not only is justifi- 
cation disjointed, but the whole structure of salvation is robbed of 
its foundation. 

And why is this? Is it because the human consciousness can 
not conceive the idea of being counted according to what we are 
not? Our illustrations from the social life show that men readily 
understand and daily accept such a relation in common affairs. 
The deep cause of this unbelief lies in the fact that man will not 
rest in God's judgment concerning him, but that he seeks for rest 
in his <77f'« estimate of himself ; that this estimate is considered a 
safer shield than God's judgment concerning him ; and that, instead 


of living with the reformers by faith, he tries to live by the things 
found in himself. 

And from this men must return. This leads us back to Rome ; 
this is to forsake justification by faith • this is to sever the artery of 
grace. Much more than in the political realm must the sacred 
principle be applied to the Kingdom of heaven, that to our Sover- 
eign King and Judge alone belongs the prerogative, by His de- 
cision, absolutely to determine our state of righteousness or of 

The sovereignty which reposes in an earthly king is only bor- 
rowed, derived, and laid upon him, but the sovereignty of the 
Lord our God is the source and fountainhead of all authority and 
of all binding force. 

If it belongs to the very essence of sovereignty, that by the 
ruler's decision alone the status of his subjects is determined, then 
it must be clear, and it can not be otherwise than that this very 
authority belongs originally, absolutely, and supremely to our God. 
Whom He judges guilty is guilty, and must be treated as guilty; 
and whom He declares just is just, and must be treated as just. 
Before He entered Gethsemane, Jesus our King declared to His 
disciples : " Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken 
unto you." And this is His declaration even now, and it shall for- 
ever remain so. Our state, our place, our lot for eternity depends 
not upon what we are, nor upon what others see in us, nor upon 
what we imagine or presume ourselves to be, but only upon what 
God thinks of us, what He counts us to be, what He, the Almighty 
and Just Judge, declares us to be. 

When He declares us just, when He thinks us just, when He 
counts us just, then we are by this very thing His children who 
shall not lie, and ours is the inheritance of the just, altho we lie in 
the midst of sin. And in like manner, when He pronounces us 
guilty in Adam, when in Adam He counts us subject to condemna- 
tion, then we are guilty, fallen, and condemned, even tho we dis- 
cover in our hearts nothing but sweet and childlike innocence. 

In this way alone it must be understood and interpreted that the 
Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors, altho He was holy ; 
that He was made sin, altho He was the living Righteousness ; and 
that He was declared a curse in our place, altho He was Immanuel. 
In the days of His flesh He was numbered with transgressors and 
sinners. He was put in their state, and He was treated accordingly ; 


as such the burden of God's wrath came upon Him, and as such 
His Father forsook Him, and gave Him over to bitterest death. In 
the Resurrection alone He was restored to the status of the right- 
eous, and thus He was raised for our justification. 

Oh, this matter goes so deep ! When to the Lord God is again 
ascribed His sovereign prerogative to determine a man's status, 
then every mystery of Scripture assumes its rightful place; but 
when it is not, then the entire way of salvation must be falsified. 

Finally, if one should say : " An earthly sovereign may be mis- 
taken, but God can not be ; hence God must assign to every man a 
status which accords with his work " ; then we answer : " This 
would be so, if the omnipotent grace of God were not irresistible." 
But since it is, you are not esteemed by God according to what 
you are, but you are what God esteems you to be. 

Justification from Eternity. 

" The righteousness which is of God 
by faith."— /'/it/, iii. 9. 

It has become evident that the question which most closely con- 
cerns us is, not whether we are more or less holy, but whether our 
status is that of the just or of the unjust, and that this is deter- 
mined not by what we are at any given moment, but by God as our 
Sovereign and Judge. 

In Adam's creation God put us, without any preceding merits 
on our part, in the state of original righteousness. After the fall, 
according to the same sovereign prerogative, He put us, as Adam's 
descendants, in the state of unrighteousness, imputing Adam's guilt 
to each personally. And in exactly the same manner He now jus- 
tifies the ungodly, i.e.. He places him, without any previous merit 
on his part, in the state of righteousness according to His own holy 
and inviolable prerogative. 

In the creation He did not first wait to see whether man would 
develop holiness in himself, so as to declare him righteous on the 
ground of this holiness ; but He declared him originally righteous, 
even before there was a possibility on his part of evincing a desire 
for holiness. And after the fall He did not wait to see whether sin 
would manifest itself in us, so as to assign us to the state of the 
unrighteous on the ground of this sin ; but before our birth, before 
there was a possibility of personal sin, He declared us guilty. And 
in the same manner God does not wait to see whether a sinner 
shows signs of conversion in order to restore him to honor as a 
righteous person, but He declares the ungodly just before he has 
had the least possibility of doing any good work. 

Hence there is a sharp line between our sandification and our 
justification. The former has to do with the quality of our being, 
depends upon our faith, and can not be effected outside of us. But 


justification is effected outside of us, irrespective of what we are, 
dependent only upon the decision of God, our Judge and Sover- 
eign ; in such a way that justification precedes sanctification, the 
latter proceeding from the former as a necessary result. God does 
not justify us because we are becoming more holy, but when He 
has justified us we grow in holiness; " Being now justified by His 
blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." 

There should never be the least doubt regarding this matter. 
Every effort to reverse this established order of Scripture must 
earnestly be resisted. This glorious confession, declared with so 
much power to the souls of men in the days of the Reformation, 
must continue the precious jewel, to be transmitted intact by us to 
our posterity as a sacred inheritance. So long as we ourselves 
have not yet entered the New Jerusalem, our comfort should never 
be founded upon our sanctification, but exclusively upon our justi- 
fication. Tho our sanctification were ever so far advanced, so long 
as we are not justified we remain in our sin and are lost. And if a 
justified sinner die immediately after his justification is sealed to 
his soul, he may shout with joy, for, in spite of hell and of Satan, 
he is sure of his salvation. 

The deep significance of this confession is faintly discernible in 
our earthly relations. In order to do business on the floor of the 
exchange, a trader must be an honorable citizen. If convicted of 
crime, justly or unjustly, he will be expelled from exchange, tho 
he be ten times more honest than others whose fraudulent transac- 
tions have never been discovered. And how will this dishonored 
man be restored to his former position.!* On the ground of future 
honest business transactions? That is out of the question ; for as 
long as he is counted dishonorable, he is not allowed to do business 
on the floor. Hence he can not prove his honesty by any dealings 
on exchange or in the market. So in order to start again, he must 
first be declared an honorable man. Then, and not before, can he 
set up in business once more. 

Call this doing of business sanctification, and this declaration of 
being a man of honor justification, and the matter will be illus- 
trated. For as this merchant, being declared dishonorable, can not 
do business so long as he continues in that state, and must be de- 
clared honorable before he can begin anew, so a sinner can not do 
any good work so long as he is counted lost. And so he must first 


be declared just by his God, in order to transact the honorable 
business of sanctification. 

To prove that this is effected absolutely without our own merit, 
doing or not doing, and entirely without our actual condition, we 
refer to the royal prerogative for granting pardon and reinstate- 
ment. Altho, among us, decisions of the judiciary are rendered in 
the name of the king, and yet not by the king himself, a certain 
opposition between the king and the judiciary is thinkable. It 
might occur that the judiciary declared a man guilty and dishonor- 
able, whom the king wished not to be so declared. To keep the 
majesty of the crown inviolate in such cases, the prerogative of 
granting pardon and reinstatement is retained by almost every 
crowned head; a prerogative which in the present day is narrowly 
circumscribed, but which nevertheless represents still the exalted 
idea that the decision of the king, and not our actual condition, 
determines our lot. Hence a king can either grant pardon, i.e., 
remit the penalty and release the guilty person from all the conse- 
quences of his crime, or, stronger still, he can grant reinstatement, 
i.e., he can restore the accused and condemned to the condition of 
one who had never been declared guilty. 

And this exalted royal prerogative, of which on account of sin 
there remains in earthly kings but a faint shadow, is the inviolable 
right in which God rejoices, Himself being the Source and all-com- 
prehending Idea of all majesty. Not you, but He determines what 
His creature shall be ; hence He sovereignly disposes, by the word 
of His mouth, the status wherein you will be set, whether it be of 
righteousness or of unrighteousness. 

It is also evident that the sinner's justification need not wait 
until he is converted, nor until he has become conscious, nor even 
until he is born. This could not be so if justification depended 
upon something within him. Then he could not be justified before 
he existed and had done something. But if justification is not 
bound to anything in him, then this whole limitation must disap- 
pear, and the Lord our God be sovereignly free to render this justi- 
fication at any moment that He pleases. Hence the Sacred Scrip- 
ture reveals justification as an eternal act of God, i.e., an act which 
is not limited by any moment in the human existence. It is for 
this reason that the child of God, seeking to penetrate into that 
glorious and delightful reality of his justification, does not feel 


himself limited to the moment of his conversion, but feels that this 
blessedness flows to him from the eternal depths of the hidden life 
of God. 

It should therefore openly be confessed, and without any abbre- 
viation, that justification does not occur when we become conscious 
of it, but that, on the contrary, our justification was decided from 
eternity in the holy judgment-seat of our God. 

There is undoubtedly a moment in our life when for the first 
time justification is published to our consciousness; but let us be 
careful to distinguish justification itself from its publication. Our 
Christian name was selected for and applied to us long before we, 
with clear consciousness, knew it as our name; and altho there 
was a moment in which it became a living reality to us and was 
called out for the first time in the ear of our consciousness, yet no 
man will be so foolish as to imagine that it was then that he actu- 
ally received that name. 

And so it is here. There is a certain moment wherein that jus- 
tification becomes to our consciousness a living fact ; but in order 
to become a living fact, it must have existed before. It does not 
spring />c;« our consciousness, but it is mirrored in it, and hence 
must have being and stature in itself. Even an elect infant which 
dies in the cradle is declared just, tho the knowledge or conscious- 
ness of its justification never penetrated its soul. And elect per- 
sons, converted, like the thief on the cross, with their last breath, 
can scarcely be sensible of their justification, and yet enter eternal 
life exclusively on the ground of their justification. Taking an 
analogy from daily life, a man condemned during his absence in 
foreign lands was granted pardon through the intercession of his 
friends, wholly without his knowledge. Does this pardon take 
effect when long afterward the good news reaches him, or when 
the king signs his pardon? Of course the latter. Even so does 
the justification of God's children take effect, not on the day when 
for the first time it i^ published to their consciousness, but at the mo- 
ment that God in His holy judgment-seat declares them just. 

But — and this should not be overlooked — this publishing in the 
consciousness of the person himself must necessarily /ollo7v j and 
this brings us back again to the special work of the Holy Spirit. 
For if in God's judiciary it is more particularly the Father who 
justifies the ungodly, and in the preparing of salvation more par- 


ticularly the Son who in His Incarnation and Resurrection brings 
about justification, so it is, in more limited sense, the Holy Spirit 
particularly who reveals this justification to the persons of the 
elect and causes them to appropriate it to themselves. It is by 
this act of the Holy Spirit that the elect obtain the blessed knowl- 
edge of their justification, which only then begins to be a living 
reality to thetn. 

For this reason Scripture reveals these two positive, but appar- 
ently contradictory truths, with equally positive emphasis: (i) 
that, on the one hand, He has justified us in His own judgment-seat 
from eternity; and (2) that, on the other, only in conversion are we 
justified by faith. 

And for this reason faith itself is fruit and effect of our justifica- 
tion ; while it is also true that, for us, justification begins to exist 
only as a result of our faith. 

Certainty of Our Justification. 

•• Being justified freely by His grace, 
through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus." — Rom. iii. 24. 

The foregoing illustrations shed unexpected light upon the fact 
that God justifies the ungodly, and not him who is actually just in 
himself; and upon the word of Christ: "Now are ye clean through 
the word which I have spoken unto you." They illustrate the sig- 
nificant fact that God does not determine our status according to 
what we are, but by the status to which He assigns us He deter- 
mines what we shall be. The Reformed Confession, which in all 
things starts from the workings of God and not of man, became 
again clear, eloquent, and transparent. So the divine Word, ordi- 
narily lowered to a mere announcement of what God finds in us, 
becomes once more Xh&Jiat of His creative power. He found an 
ungodly man and said, " Be righteous," and behold he became 
righteous. " I said to thee in thy blood, Live." 

In this way the various parts of the redemptive work are ar- 
ranged chronologically each in its own place. 

So long as the false and narrow idea prevailed that a man was 
justified after conversion on the ground of his apparent holiness, 
justification could not precede sanctification, but must follow it. 
Then man becomes first holy, and, as a reward or as a recognition 
of his holiness, he is declared righteous. Hence sanctification is 
first, and justification second ; a justification, therefore, without any 
value, for what is the use of declaring that a ball is round? 

The Scripture refuses to acknowledge a posterior justification. 
In Scripture, justification is always the starting-point. All other 
things spring from it and follow it. " Christ was made unto us wis- 
dom and righteousness," and only then " sanctification and redemp- 
tion." " ThQTGiore being justified by faith, we have peace with God 
through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we also have access." 


" Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is 
in Christ Jesus." And, " Whom He called, them He also justified; 
and whom He justified, them He also glorified." 

For this reason the Reformation made justification by faith the 
starting-point for the conscience, and by this confession bravely and 
energetically opposed Rome's justification by good works; for in 
this justification by good works that priority of sanctification found 
its root. 

The Church of Christ can not deviate from this straight line of 
the Reformation without estranging itself and separating itself from 
its Head and Fountain of Life, vitally injuring itself. Sects which, 
like the Ethicals and the Methodists,* detract from this truth sever 
the faith from its root. If our churches desire once more to be 
strong in the doctrine and bold in witness-bearing, they must not 
repose in lethargy on the mere form of the doctrine, but must 
heartily embrace the doctrine ; for it presents this cardinal point in 
a superior and excellent manner. He only who heroically dares 
accept justification of the ungodly becomes actual partaker of salva- 
tion. He only can confess heartily and unreservedly redemption 
which is sovereign, unmerited, and free in all its parts and workings. 

The last question that remains to be discussed is : How can the 
justification of the ungodly be reconciled with the divine Omni- 
science and Holiness? 

It must be acknowledged that, in one respect, this whole repre- 
sentation seems to fail. It must be objected : 

" Your argument is wittily thought out, but it does not stand the 
test. When an earthly sovereign decides that a man's state shall 
be otherwise than it actually is, he acts from ignorance, mistake, or 
arbitrariness. And since these things can not be ascribed to God, 
these illustrations can not be applied to Him." 

And again : " That an earthly judge sometimes condemns the 
innocent and acquits the guilty, and makes the former to occupy 
the status of the latter, and vice versa, is possible only because the 
judge is a fallible creature. If he had been infallible, if he could 
have weighed guilt and innocence with perfect accuracy, the wrong 
could not have been committed. Hence if sin had not come in, 
that judge could not have acted arbitrarily, but he would have 
acted according to the right, and decided for the right because it is 

*See section 5 of the author's Preface. 


right. And, since the Lord God is a Judge who trieth the reins and 
who is acquainted with all our ways, in whom there can be no fail- 
ure or mistake or ignorance, it is not thinkable, it is impossible, it 
is inconsistent with God's Being, that as the just Judge He ever 
could pronounce a judgment that is not perfectly in accordance 
with the conditions actually existing in man." 

Without the slightest hesitation we submit to this criticism. It 
is well taken. The mistake whereby a boy can be registered as a 
girl; the peasant's child for that of a nobleman; whereby a law- 
abiding citizen can be judged as a law-breaker, and vice versa, is 
out of the question with God. And, therefore, when He justifies 
the ungodly, as the earthly judge declares the dishonorable to be 
honorable, then these two acts, which are apparently similar, are 
utterly dissimilar and may not be interpreted in the same way. 

And yet the correctness of the objection does not in itself in- 
validate the comparison. Scripture itself often compares men's 
acts, which are necessarily sinful, to the acts of God. When the 
unjust judge, weary of the widow's tears and importunity, finally 
said, " I will avenge her, lest she come at last and break my head " 
(Dutch Translation), the Lord Jesus does not for a moment hesitate 
to apply this action, tho it sprang from an unholy motive, to the 
Lord God, saying: " And shall not God avenge His own elect, who 
cry night and day unto Him?" 

It can not be otherwise. For since all acts of men, even the 
very best of the most holy among them, are always defiled with 
sin, either it would be impossible to compare any deed of man with 
the doings of God, or one must necessarily consider such deeds of 
men apart from the sinful motive, and apply to God only the third 
of the comparison. 

And as Jesus could not mean that at last God must answer His 
elect, " lest they come and break His head," but without speaking 
of the motive, simply pointed to the fact that the inopportune 
prayer is finally heard, so did we compare the wrong decision of the 
judge, declaring the guilty innocent, to the infallible decision of 
God, justifying the ungodly, since, in spite of the difference of mo- 
tive, it coincides with a third of the comparison. 

Moreover, human mistakes are out of the question with reference 
to the granting of pardon and reinstatement. Hence this expres- 
sion of royal sovereignty is indeed a direct type of the sovereignty 
of the Lord our God. 


But this does not settle the question. Altho we concede that 
the unholy motive of mistake can not be attributed to God, yet we 
must inquire : What is God's motive, and how can the justification 
of the ungodly be consistent with His divine nature? 

We reply by pointing to the beautiful answer of the Catechism, 
question 60 : " How art thou righteous before God? Only by a true 
faith in Jesus Christ ; so that, tho my conscience accuse me, that I 
have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept 
none of them, and am still inclined to all evil ; notwithstanding, God, 
without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and im- 
putes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of 
Christ ; even so as if I never had had, nor committed any sin : yea, 
as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ hath 
accomplished for me ; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a 
believing heart." 

That the Lord God justifies the ungodly is not because He en- 
joys fiction, or delights by a terrible paradox to call one righteous 
who in reality is wicked ; but this fact runs parallel with the other 
fact, that such an ungodly one is really righteous. And that this 
ungodly one, who in himself is and remains wicked, at the same 
time is and continues righteous, finds its reason and ground in the 
fact that God puts this poor and miserable and lost sinner into 
partnership with an infinitely rich Mediator, whose treasures are 
inexhaustible. By this partnership all his debts are discharged, 
and all those treasures flow down to him. So tho he continues, in 
himself, poverty-stricken, he is at the same time immensely rich 
in his Partner. 

This is the reason why all depends upon faith in the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; for that faith is the bond of partnership. If there is no such 
faith, there can be no partnership with the wealthy Jesus ; and you 
are still in your sin. But if there is faith, then the partnership is 
established, then it exists, and you engage in business no longer 
on your own account, but in partnership with Him who blots out 
all your indebtedness, while He makes you the recipient of all His 

How is this to be understood? Is it the Person of the Christ 
who takes us into partnership? And, since God has no longer to 
reckon with our poverty, but can now depend upon the riches of 
Christ, does He therefore count us good and righteous? No, 


brethren, and again, no ! It is not so, and it may not so be pre- 
sented; for then there would be no justification on God's part. 
You have a bill to collect from a man who failed in business, but 
who was accepted as the partner of a rich banker, who discharged 
all his debts. Is there now the slightest mercy or goodness on your 
part, when you indorse that man's check? Doing otherwise, would 
you not flatly contradict solid and tangible facts? 

No, the Lord God does not act that way. Christ does not blot 
out the debt, and obtain us treasure outside of God ; nor does the 
ungodly enter, through faith, into partnership with the wealthy 
Jesus independently of the Father ; neither does God, being informed 
of these transactions, justify the ungodly, who already had become 
a believer. For then ther« would be no honor for God, nor praise 
for His grace ; it would be not the ungodly, but, on the contrary, a 
believer that was justified. 

The matter is not transacted that way. It was the Lord God, 
first of all, who, without respect of person, and hence without re- 
spect to faith in the person, according to His sovereign power, 
chose a portion of the ungodly to eternal life ; not as Judge, but as 
Sovereign. But being Judge as well as Sovereign, and therefore 
incapable of violating the right, He who has chosen, that is, the 
Triune God, has also created and given all that is necessary and re- 
quired for salvation ; so that these elect persons, at the proper time 
and by appropriate means, may receive and undergo the things by 
which in the end it will appear that all God's doing was majesty 
and all His decision just. 

And, therefore, this whole ordering of the Covenant of Grace ; 
and in this Covenant of Grace the ordering of the Mediator; and in 
the Mediator that of all satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness; 
and of that satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness, first the itnputa- 
tion, and after that the gift. 

Wherefore God does indeed declare the ungodly just before he 
believes, that he may believe, and not after he believes. This 
justifying act is the creative act of God, in which is also deposited 
the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, and from 
which flow also the imputation and granting of all these to the un- 
godly. Wherefore there is in this act of justification not the slight- 
est mistake or untruth. He alone is declared just who, being 
ungodly in himself, by this declaration is and becomes righteous in 


In this way alone it is possible fully to understand the doctrine 
of justification in all its wealth and glory. Without this deep con- 
ception of it, justification is merely the pardon of sin, after which, 
being relieved of the burden, we start out with newly animated 
zeal to work for God. And this is nothing else than genuine, fatal 

But, with this deeper insight, man acknowledges and confesses : 
" Such pardon of sin does not avail me. For I know : 

" ist. That I shall be again daily defiled with sin; 

" 2d. That I shall have a sinful heart within me until the day of 
my death; 

" 3d. That until then, I shall never be able to accomplish the 
keeping of the whole law ; 

" 4th. That, since I am already condemned and sentenced, I can 
not do business in the Kingdom of God as an honorable man." 

The answer of justification, such as Scripture reveals and our 
Church confesses it, covers these four points most satisfactorily. 
It accepts you not as a saint, with a self-assumed holiness, but 
as one who confesses: "My conscience accuses me that I have 
grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and have kept 
none of them, and that I am still inclined to all evil"; and yet, you 
are not cast out. It tells you that you can not depend upon any 
merit of your own, but must rely on grace alone. Wherefore it 
begins with putting you in the ranks of the law-abiding, of them 
that are declared good and righteous, " even so as if you never had 
had nor committed any sin." As the ground of godliness it does not 
require of you the keeping of the law, but it imputes and imparts 
to you Christ's fulfilment of the law; esteeming you as if you had 
fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished 
for you. And effacing hereby the difference of your past and 
future sin, it imputes and grants unto you not only Christ's satis- 
faction and holiness, but even His original righteousness, in such 
a manner that you stand before God once more righteous and 
honorable, and as tho the whole history of your sin had been a 
dream only. 

But the closing sentence of the Catechism should be noticed : 
" Inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart." And 
that "believing heart," and that "embracing" — behold, that is the 
very work of the Holy Spirit. 

Seventb Cbapter. 

Faith in General. 

" Through faith ; and that not of yourselves, 
it is the gift of God." — Ephes. ii. 8. 

"When the judicial act of the Triune God, justification, is an- 
nounced to the conscience, faith begins to be active and expresses 
itself in works. This leads us to call the attention of our readers 
to the work of the Holy Spirit, which consists in the imparting of 

We are saved through faith ; and that faith is not of ourselves, 
it is the gift of God. It is very specially a gift of the Triune God, 
by a peculiar operation of the Holy Ghost : " No man can say that 
Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost" (i Cor. xii. 3). St. Paul 
calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of faith (2 Cor. iv. 13). And in Gal. 
V. 22 he mentions faith as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

In salvation nearly everything depends upon faith ; hence a cor- 
rect conception of faith is essential. It has always been the aim of 
error to poison faith's being, and thus to destroy weak souls as well 
as the Church itself. It is therefore the urgent duty of ministers 
to instruct the churches concerning faith's being and nature; by 
correct definitions to detect prevailing error, and thus to restore 
the joy of a clear and well-founded consciousness of faith. 

For years the people have listened to the poorest and vaguest 
theories of faith. Every minister has had his own theory and 
definition, or worse, no definition at all. In a general way they 
have felt what faith is, and presented it eloquently; but these 
brilliant, metaphorical, often flowery descriptions have frequently 
been more obscuring than illuminating; they have failed to in- 
struct. The definition of faith being left to the inspiration of the 


moment, it often occurred that the minister unconsciously offered 
to his people one Sunday the very opposite of what he had elo- 
quently proclaimed the week before. This should not be so. The 
Church must increase in knowledge also ; and what sufficed for the 
apostolic Church is not sufficient now. The ideas of faith were 
confused then; and the earliest writings show that the various 
problems regarding faith had not been solved. 

But not so in the apostolic writings, whose inspiration is proven 
from the fact that they contain a clear and definite answer to nearly 
all these questions. But after the apostles had passed away, the 
depth of their word not yet understood, there was a childlike con- 
fusion of ideas in the Church of the first centuries ; until the Lord 
allowed various heretical forms of faith to appear, which the Church 
was compelled to oppose by the real forms of faith. To do this 
successfully it had to emerge from that confusion and to arrive at 
clearer distinctions and conceptions. 

Hence the many differences, questions, and distinctions which 
subsequently arose regarding faith's being and exercise. Owing 
to the earnest debates, the. real being of faith became gradually 
more defined and clearly distinguished from its false forms and 
imitations. That in the present time every path, good and bad, has 
its own distinctive sign-post, so that no one can turn in the wrong 
direction ig^norantly, is the fruit of the long conflict waged with so 
much patience and talent. 

Undoubtedly ignorance has caused much misunderstanding. 
But we maintain that a guide who neglects to examine the roads 
before he undertakes to guide travelers is unworthy of his title. 
And a minister of the Word is a spiritual guide, appointed by the 
Lord Jesus to conduct pilgrims traveling to the heavenly Jerusalem 
through the high Alps of faith, where the ordinary communications 
of the earthly life have ceased, from one mountain-plateau to an- 
other. Hence he is inexcusable when, merely guessing at the 
location of the heavenly city, he advises his pilgrims to try the 
path which seems to lead in that direction. By virtue of his office 
he should make it his chief business to know which is the shortest, 
safest, and most certain way, and then tell them that this and none 
other is the way. Formerly, when the various paths had not yet 
been examined, it was to some extent praiseworthy to try them all ; 
but now, since their misleading character is so well known, it is un- 
pardonable to try them again. 

38o FAITH 

And when the easy-going people say, " Above all things let us 
retain our simplicity ; what is the use in our Christian faith of all 
those wearisome distinctions," we would ask of them whether in 
the case of a surgical operation they would prefer a surgeon who in 
his simplicity only cuts no matter where or how; or in case of sick- 
ness, an apothecary who simply puts a mixture together from his 
various jars and bottles, regardless of the names of the drugs; or, 
to take another example, in case of a sea-voyage, would they em- 
bark in a vessel whose captain, chary of the use of charts and in- 
struments, in sweet simplicity steers his ship, merely trusting in 
^s luck? 

And wnen they answer, as they must, that in such cases they 
demand professionals thoroughly acquainted with the smallest de- 
tails of their professions, then we ask them in the name of the Lord 
and of their accountability unto Him, how they can go to work so 
simply, i.e., so carelessly and thoughtlessly, when it concerns spir- 
itual disease, or the voyage across the unfathomable waters of life, 
as tho in these matters thoughtful discrimination were immaterial. 

We refuse, therefore, to be influenced by that sickly talk about 
simplicity regarding faith, or by the impious cry against a so-called 
dogmatism, but shall diligently seek to give an exposition of the 
being of faith, which, eradicating error, will point out the only safe 
and reliable path. 

As a starting-point, let it be plainly understood that there is a 
sharp distinction between saving faith and the faith which in the 
various spheres of life is called "faith in general." 

When Columbus is incited, by internal compulsion, to direct 
his restless eye across the western ocean to the world which he 
there expects with almost absolute certainty, we call this faith, 
and yet, with this instinctive inclination in the mind of Columbus 
saving faith has nothing to do. And the preacher, using this and 
similar examples otherwise than as a faint analogy, does not ex- 
plain but obscures the matter, and leads the Church in the wrong 

Sometimes we have among our children one whose mind is con- 
stantly occupied by an unconscious aim or idea, that leaves him no 
rest. In after years it may appear to be his life's aim and purpose. 
This is the compulsion of an inward law belonging to his nature : 
the mysterious, constraining activity of a ruling idea governing his 


life and person. People thus constrained conquer every obstacle ; 
however opposed, they come ever nearer to that unconscious pur- 
pose, and at last, owing to this irresistible impulse, they attain 
what they have been so long aiming at. And this is also frequently 
called _/(2/V//y but it has little more than the name in common with 
the faith of which we are about to speak. For while such faith 
excites human energy, and exalts and glorifies it, saving faith, on 
the contrary, casts down all human greatness. 

The same is true of the so-called faith in one's ideas. One is 
young and enthusiastic; he dreams beautiful dreams of a golden 
age of happiness and sees delightful ideals of righteousness and 
glory. That beautiful world of his fancy seems to comfort him 
for the disappointments of this matter-of-fact world. If that were 
the real world, and if it were always to remain so, it would have 
broken his youthful heart and prematurely quenched its enthusiasm ; 
and, grown old when still young, he would have joined the pessi- 
mists who perish in despair, or the conservatives who find relief in 
the silencing of the higher dictates of the conscience. But fortu- 
nately their number is small. In this painful experience many 
discover a world of ideals, i.e., they have the courage to condemn 
this sinful world, full of misery, and to prophesy of the coming of 
a better and happier world. 

Alas! youthful presumption, chasing after its ideals, often fancies 
that the cause of all evils lies in the fathers. " If my fathers had 
only seen and planned things as I do now, our progress would have 
been much greater." But those fathers did not see it so. They 
went wrong; hence our ideals are not yet real. But there is hope ; 
a young generation, clearly understanding these things, will soon 
be heard; then great changes will occur: much of the existing 
misery will disappear, and our ideal world will become real. And 
cruel is the answer of unvarnished experience. For the son acts as 
foolishly as the father did before him. Consequently the ideal 
world is not realized. He cries aloud, but men will not hear; they 
refuse to be delivered from their misery, and the old sadness goes 
on forever. 

At this point the company of idealistic men is divided. Some 
abandon the effort ; call their dreams delusive, and, accepting the 
inevitable, increase the broad stream of souls trampled down to the 
same level. But a few nobler souls refuse to submit to this debased 

382 FAITH 

and ignoble wretchedness ; and preferring to run their heads against 
the granite wall, with the cry, " Advienne qui pourra," cling to 
their ideals. And these men who can not be sufficiently loved and 
appreciated are said to believe. But even this faith has nothing in 
common with saving faith ; to speak of this as the same is but con- 
fusion of tongues and a joining together of things dissimilar. 

Finally, the same is true of a much lower form, ordinarily called 
faith, which is the light-hearted expression of cheerfulness ; or the 
lucky guessing at something which accidentally comes to pass. 
There are cheery, mirthful souls, who in spite of adversity never 
seem to be cast down or harmed, who, however much suppressed, 
have always enough of elasticity in their happy spirits to let the 
mainspring of their inward life rebound into full activity. Such 
people have always an encouraging and hopeful eye for all their 
surroundings. They are strangers to gloomy forebodings, and un- 
acquainted with melancholy fears. Care does not rob them of 
sleep, and nervous restlessness does not send the blood to the heart 
at quickened pace. However, they are not indifferent, only not 
easily affected. Things may go against them, the clouds may 
overcast their sky, but behind the clouds they see the sun still 
shining, and they prophesy, with cheerful smile, that light will 
soon break through the darkness. Therefore it is said that they 
have faith in persons and in things. 

And this faith, if it be not too superficial, should be appreciated. 
"With millions of melancholy souls, life in this country would be 
unbearable; and it is cause for gratitude that our national char- 
acter, otherwise so phlegmatic, cultivates sons and daughters in 
whose hearts the faith of the cheerful burns brightly. And some- 
times their prophecies are really fulfilled; everybody thought that 
the little craft would perish, and, behold, it safely reached and en- 
tered the harbor; and it appeared that their cheerful faith was 
actually one of the causes of its happy arrival. And then these 
prophets ask you : Did we not tell you so? Were you not altogether 
too gloomy? Do you not see that it came out all right? 

But even this faith has nothing but the name, in common with 
saving faith. We must note this especially because, in Christian 
institutions and enterprises, we frequently meet with men and 
women who are upheld by this spirit of cheerfulness and unques- 
tioning confidence, and who by this hopeful spirit pilot many a 


Christian craft, which otherwise might perish, into a safe harbor. 
But this spiritual cheerfulness which, in the Christian, is perhaps 
fruit of the genuine faith, is by no means the genuine faith itself. 
And when it is said, " Do you now see what faith can do?" the sa- 
ving faith is again confounded with this general faith which is found 
sometimes even among the heathen. 

Faith and Knowledge. 

"He that believeth in the Son hath ever- 
lasting life; and he that believeth not 
the Son shall not see life."— y^j/iw iii. 36. 

In the discussion of saving faith, faith in general can not afford 
us the least assistance. To understand what " faith " is, we must 
turn in an entirely different direction, and answer the question : 
" What is, among the nations, the universal root-idea and original 
significance of faith?" 

And then we meet this singular phenomenon, that among all 
nations and at all times faith is an expression denoting at one time 
something uncertain, and at another something very certain. 

It may be said : " I believe that the clock struck three, but I am 
not certain"; or, " I believe that his initials are H. T., but I am not 
certain " ; or, " I believe that you can take a ticket directly for St. 
Petersburg, but it would be well first to inquire." In every one of 
these sentences, which can be translated literally in every culti- 
vated language, " to believe" signifies a mere guess, something less 
than actual knowledge, a confession of U7icertainty. 

But when I say, "I believe in the forgiveness of sin"; or, "I 
believe in the immortality of the soul"; or lastly, " I believe in the 
unquestionable integrity of that statesman"; " to believe" does not 
imply doubt or uncertainty about these things, but signifies strong- 
est conviction concerning them. 

From which it follows, that every definition of the being of 
faith must be wrong which does not explain how, from one and 
the same root-idea, there can be derived a twofold, diametrically 
opposed use of the same word. 

Of this difficulty there can be but one solution, viz., the differ- 
ence in the nature of the things in regard to which certainty is 
desired; so that, with reference to one class of things, highest cer- 
tainty is obtained by faith, and, with reference to another, it is not. 


This difference arises from the fact that there are things visible 
and invisible, and that certainty regarding things visible is obtained 
by knozvledge and not by faith ; while certainty in regard to things 
invisible is obtained exclusively hy faith. When a man says regard- 
ing visible things, " I believe," and not, " I know," he impresses us 
as being uncertain ; but in saying regarding invisible things, " I be- 
lieve," he gives us the idea of certainty. 

It should be observed here that the expressions " visible " and 
" invisible " must not be taken in too narrow a sense ; by things 
visible must be understood all things that can be perceived by the 
senses, as in Scripture ; and by things invisible, the things that can 
not be so perceived. Wherefore the things that pertain to the 
hidden life of a person must ultimately rest on faith. His deeds 
alone belong to the visible things. Certainty in regard to these 
can be obtained by the perception of the senses. But certainty 
regarding his inward personality, his thoughts, his affections and 
their sincerity, his character and its trustworthiness, and anything 
pertaining to his inward life, — certainty regarding all these can be 
reached by faith only. 

If we were to enter more deeply into this matter, we should 
maintain that all certainty, even regarding things visible, rests always 
and only upon faith; and we should lay down the following propo- 
sitions : When you say that you saw a man in the water and heard 
him cry for help, your knowledge rests, frst, upon your belief that 
you did not dream btit was wide awake, and that you did not imagine 
but actually saw it ; second, upon your firm belief that since you saw 
and heard something there must be a corresponding reality which 
occasions that seeing and hearing ; third, upon your conviction that 
in seeing something, e.g., the form of a man, your senses enable 
you to obtain a correct impression of that form. 

And, proceeding in this way, we could demonstrate that in the 
end, all certainty in regard to things visible, as well as to things 
invisible, rests ultimately not upon perception, but upon faith. It 
is impossible for my ego to obtain any knowledge of things out- 
side of myself without a certain bond of faith, which unites me to 
these things. I must always believe either in my own identity, that 
is, that I am myself; or in the clearness of m^y consciousness; or in 
the perception of my senses ; or in the actuality of the things out- 
side of myself; or in the axiomata from which I proceed. 

Hence it can be stated, without the slightest exaggeration, that 

386 FAITH 

no man can ever say, " / know this or that" without its being possi- 
ble to prove to him that his knowledge, in a deeper sense and upon 
closer analysis, depends, so far as its certainty is concerned, upon 
faith alone. 

But we prefer not to consider this deeper conception of the 
matter, because it confuses rather than explains the being of faith ; 
for it should be remembered that in Sacred Scripture the Holy Spirit 
always uses words as they occur in the ordinary speech of daily 
life, simply because otherwise the children of the Kingdom could 
not understand them. And, in the daily life, people do not make 
that closer distinction, but say, in the case above referred to : "I 
know that there is a man in the water, for I saw his head and I 
heard him cry." While, on the other hand, it is said, in the ordi- 
nary speech of daily life ; " If you do not believe me, I can not talk 
with you"; indicating the fact that, in regard to o. person, faith is 
the only means by which certainty can be obtained. 

And, keeping this in view, we shall, for the sake of clearness, 
present the matter in this way: that the Lord God has created man 
in such a way that he can obtain knowledge of two worlds, of the 
world of visible things, and of that of invisible things ; but so that 
he obtains such knowledge concerning each in a special and peculiar 
manner. He obtains knowledge of the world of visible things by 
means of the senses, which are instruments designed to bring his 
mind into contact with the outside world. But the senses teach 
him nothing concerning the world of invisible things, for which he 
needs altogether diflferent organs. 

We have no names for these other organs, as we have for the 
five senses ; yet we know that from that invisible world we receive 
impressions, sensations, emotions; we know perfectly well that 
these mutually differ in duration, depth, and power, and we also 
know that some of these aflfect us as real and others as unreal. In 
fact the invisible world, as well as the visible world, exerts influ- 
ences upon us; not through the five senses, but by means of un- 
namable organs. This influence from the invisible world affects 
the soul, the consciousness, the innermost ego. This working 
makes impressions upon the soul, excites sensations in the con- 
sciousness, and causes emotions in the inward ego. 

This is done, however, in such a way that there is always room 
for the question : " Are these impressions real? Can I trust these 


sensations? Is there a reality corresponding to these sensations, 
impressions, emotions?" And to this last question faith alone can 
answer "yes." in precisely the same manner as the question, 
whether I obtain certainty from my own consciousness and from 
my senses and from the axiomata, receives its "yes" exclusively 

and only by faith. 

To obtain certainty regarding the things invisible, such as love, 
faithfulness, righteousness, and holiness, the mystic body of the 
Lord-in a word, regarding all things that pertain to the mystery of 
the personal life in my fellow men. in Immanuel. in the Lord our 
God. faith is the proper and only divinely ordained way; not as 
something inferior to knowledge, but equal to it, only much more 
certain, and from which all knowledge derives its certainty. 

As regards the objection, that the Sacred Scripture declares that 
faith shall be turned into sight, we say that this " sight" has noth- 
ing in common with the sight by means of the senses. God sees 
and knows all things, and yet He does not possess any of the senses. 
His sight is an immediate act of penetration, with His Spirit, into 
the essence and consistence of all things. To Adam in Paradise 
something of this immediate wisdom and knowledge was imparted; 
but by sin he lost that glorious feature of the image of God. And 
Scripture promises that this glorious feature shall be restored to 
God's children, in the Kingdom of Glory, in much more glorious 
measure than in Paradise. 

But. while we still sojourn as pilgrims, not yet possessing the 
glorified body any more than the glory of our inward status, our 
contact with the invisible world does not yet consist in sight ; our 
mind still lacks the power to penetrate immediately into the things 
invisible ; and we still depend upon the impressions and sensations 
produced by them. Wherefore we can have no certainty regard- 
ing these impressions and sensations, except by direct faith. Still, 
existing and living as pilgrims together, we believe in each other's 
love, good faith, and honesty of character ; we believe in God the Fa- 
ther, in our Savior, and in the Holy Spirit ; we believe in the Holy 
Catholic Church; we believe in the forgiveness of sin, the res- 
urrection of the body, and the life everlasting. And we do not be- 
lieve in all these with the secret after-thought that we would really 
prefer to kno^u them, instead of beliei<ing them : for that would be 
just as absurd as to say. of an organ concert: "Really I would 

388 FAITH 

prefer to see this." Music can not be seen any more than one can 
become conscious of things invisible by means of the senses. And 
as the sense of hearing is the only proper means of hearing and en- 
joying music, so faith is the peculiar and only means whereby cer- 
tainty can be obtained regarding our contact with the world unseen 
and invisible. 

This being thoroughly understood, it can not be difficult to see 
that this faith in reference to things visible is far inferior to knowl- 
edge ; for the visible things are intended to be ascertained, care- 
fully and accurately, by means of the senses. Imperfect observa- 
tion renders our knowledge uncertain. Hence, in regard to the 
visible things, no other knowledge than that obtained by the senses 
ought to be considered reliable. 

But in a number of unimportant cases accurate knowledge is 
needless; e.g., in the difference concerning the respective heights 
of two steeples. In such cases we use the word " believe," as, "I 
believe that this steeple is higher than the other." And again, 
visible things impress their image upon the memory, which in the 
course of years becomes dim. Meeting a gentleman I have seen 
before, and fully recognizing him, I say, " This is Mr. B."; but be- 
ing uncertain, I say, " I believe that this is Mr. B." In this case we 
seem to be dealing with visible things, for a gentleman stands be- 
fore us; yet the image which recalls him belongs to the inward 
contents of the memory. Hence the difference of speech. 

We reach, therefore, this conclusion: 

First, that all certainty regarding things visible as well as invis- 
ible depends in the deepest sense upon faith. 

Second, that in ordinary speech certainty regarding things vis- 
ible is obtained by means of the senses, and regarding things invis- 
ible, especially things that pertain to personality, by believing. 

For this reason Brakel's effort to interpret the verb to belie7<e, 
according to the Hebrew and Greek idioms, as meaning to trust, and 
not as a means to obtain certainty, was a failure. Such meanings are 
the same in all languages, and there is no difference, because they 
are the direct result of the organism of the human mind, which, in 
its fundamental features, is the same among all nations. Confidence 
is the direct result of faith, but is not faith itself. 

" To believe " refers, in the first place, to the certainty or uncer- 


tainty of the consciousness concerning something. If there is no 
such certainty, I do not believe; being consciously certain, I be- 
lieve. When a person introduces himself to me as a man of in- 
tegrity, the first question is, whether I believe him. If I am not 
certain that he is a man of integrity, I do not believe him. But if 
I believe him, confidence is the immediate result. Then it is im- 
possible not to trust him. To believe that he is what he claims to 
be, and not trust him, is simply impossible. 

Hence " to believe " always retains the primary meaning of " as- 
suring the consciousness " j and saving faith requires me " to be certain 
that Christ is to me such as He reveals and ofers Himself in Sacred 

Brakel and Comrie.* 

" If in anything ye be otherwise minded, 
God shall reveal even this unto you." 
—Phil. iii. 15. 

We call the attention of our readers to the two lines which in 
the last century were most correctly drawn by Brakel and Comrie 
respectively ; and we do not deny that of the two, Comrie was the 
more correct. 

This is not intended to hurt the friends of Brakel, for then we 
should wound ourselves. However, altho the name of " Father 
Brakel " is still precious to us ; altho we appreciate his courageous 
protesting against church tyranny, and heartily acknowledge our 
indebtedness to his excellent writings ; yet this does not render him 
infallible, neither does it alter the fact that in the matter of faith 
Comrie judged more correctly than he. 

To do justice to both men, we will cite their respective argu- 
ments, and then show that Comrie, who did not always see correctly 
either, was more strictly Scriptural, and therefore more strictly 
Reformed, than Brakel. 

In the chapter on Faith (" Rational Religion," ii., 776, ed. 1757), 
Brakel writes : 

"The question is : What is the essential, fundamental act of faith? Is 
it the assent of the tntnd to the Gospel and its promises, or is it the trust- 
ing of the heart in Christ for justification, sanctifcation, and redemfi' 
tion ? Before we answer this question we wish to say : 

" First, that by ' trusting ' we do not understand a Christian's assurance 
and confidence that he is in Christ and a partaker of Christ and of all His 
promises ; nor his peace and rest in Christ, for that is & fruit of faith 
which some have more than others ; but by trusting we understand the 
act of the soul, whereby a man yields himself to Christ and accepts Him, 
entrusting Him with body and soul, as, e.g., one man entrusts his money 

• Brakel and Comrie were celebrated Dutch theologians in the eigh- 
teenth century. — Trans. 


to another, or as one entrusts himself to and leans on the strong shoulders 
of the man that carries him across a stream. 

"Second, that such trust necessarily requires a previous knowledge of 
evangelical truth and assent to its credibility ; and that, after that, faith 
exercises itself on and by its promises. 

"We now answer the question already stated as follows : True, saving 
faith IS not the act of the mind assenting to evangelical truth, but the 
trusting of the heart to be saved by Christ on the ground of His voluntary 
offering of Himself to sinners and of the promises to them that trust 
in Him. And we say also that faith has its seat, not in the tinder- 
standing, but in the will ; not being the assent to the truth it can not be 
in the understanding, and since it is trust it must have its seat in the 

"The truth of what we have said is evident: 

" First, from the name itself. What we call ' to believe ' Scripture calls 
'to trust,' 'to confide,' 'to entrust.' Speaking of divine things revealed 
to us in the Word alone, we must not be confined to our own language, 
for this would cause many to fall into error ; but we should adapt our 
speech and understanding to the nature and character of the original 
Hebrew and Greek. For in our language ' to believe ' means to accept 
promises and the narrative of events on the strength of another man's 
word ; but according to the force of the original languages the words, -laTtvu, 
VP^r^., ''?,3, naf, IDD^ are translated not only ' to believe, ' but ' to trust, ' ' to 
entrust, ' ' to lean upon. ' They are used, not to denote the nature of trust, 
but by trusting yielding oneself to Christ, relying on Him. 

"Secondly, the Scripture ascribes the act of faith to the heart: 'With 
the heart man believeth unto righteousness' (Rom. x. 10); 'If thou be- 
lievest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he said, I believe that 
Jesus Christ is the Son of God ' (Acts viii. 37). Trusting and believing 
are both acts of the heart, the will. If it be said that the heart refers also 
to the understanding, we answer, very rarely, and even then it refers not 
to the understanding alone, but also to the will, or to the soul with all its 

"Thirdly, if the act of faith did consist in the assent of the mind to the 
truth, it would be possible to have saving faith without accepting Christ, 
without trusting Him ; and you may know and acknowledge Christ as 
the Savior as long as you please, but what union and communion with 
Christ does that afford? To accept Christ and to trust and lean on Him 
would be only an effect of faith, but an effect does not complete the being 
of a thing which is complete before the effect ; and saving faith would not 
differ from historic faith, but be the same in its nature. For historic faith 
is also the assent of the mind to the truth of the Gospel, and even the 
devils and the unconverted have this faith. If it be said that the knowl- 

392 FAITH 

edge of the one is spiritual and that of the other is not, we answer: (i) 
While it is true that the knowledge of the converted is different from that 
of the unconverted, yet the matter remains the same. Their historical 
knowledge, if assented to, is historic faith in the one as well as in the other. 
(2) The Scripture never makes the spirituality of historic knowledge the 
distinctive feature of saving faith. (3) This is certain that the knowledge 
of faith of an unconverted person is not spiritual. And from faith itself 
one can never ascertain whether he truly believes ; this he can learn only 
from the fruits, and that would be altogether wrong. 

"Fourthly, saving faith believes in God, in Christ, and does not stop 
at the Word, but through the Word reaches the Person of Christ and trusts 
in Him. ' Neither do I pray for these alone, but for them also who shall 
believe on Me, through iJieir word' (John xvii. 20). This alone gives 
faith its point, nature, and perfection ; wherefore Scripture says that sa- 
ving faith is to believe in God, in Christ : ' Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ 
and thou shalt be saved' (Acts xvi. 31). To believe in Christ is faith 
itself and not the fruit of faith, which it must be if faith be mere knowl- 
edge and assent. 

" Fifthly, it is faith itself that unites the soul to Christ, appropriates 
the promises, satisfies the conscience, gives access to the throne of grace 
and boldness to call Him Father (Ephes. iii. 17 ; John iii. 36 ; Rom. v. i ; 
Ephes. iii. 12) . But mere assent to the truth can not do any of these things. 
You may assent as long as you please, but that will never make a single 
promise your own ; it will not unite the soul to Christ, nor will it give 
boldness to call ' Abba, Father. ' Hence mere assent is not saving faith. 
It may be said that it is the work of the assenting mind to accept Christ 
and to trust in Him, and so the above-mentioned results flow from the 
assent of the truth. But I answer : (i) That mere assent as such can not 
have such results, but that they are its fruits ; that the assent must first 
work acceptance and trust in Christ ; hence it is the form of faith, and not 
its nature. Moreover, Scripture ascribes all these things to faith itself, 
not to its fruits. (2) The same may be said of the knowledge of the mys- 
teries of the Gospel, that it has the same effect, that this also unites to 
Christ, appropriates the promises, etc. ; but since this would be absurd, it 
is also absurd to say that mere assent works these things. And therefore 
it is certain that saving faith is not assent, but trust. 

"Sixthly, the opposite of saving faith is not the rejection of the truth 
of the Gospel, but failure to trust in Christ. ' He that believeth on the 
Son ' : • He that obeyeth not the Son ' (John iii. 36, Dutch Translation) ; 
'Let not your heart be troubled — believe also in me' (John xiv. i) ; 
•Where is thy faith? ' (Luke viii. 25). In the last text faith is contrasted 
with fear. Hence true faith is not assent, but trust." 

Brakel's characteristic is that he considers faith, not as an in- 


herent habit, but as an outgoing act of the heart ; and, in connec- 
tion with this, that the organ of faith and its seat are not in the 
understanding, but chiefly in the will. 

Comrie, on the other hand, taught that faith is the increated and 
inherent habit, the principal moment of which is to \}q persuaded. 

In his " Explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism" (ii., 312) we 

"The question, 'What is true faith?' is very important, deserving 
most careful consideration ; for they only that have true faith can be 
saved. For altho in faith itself there is no inherent saving power, God 
has established such a connection between salvation and the imparted 
faith, that without the latter no person young or old can be saved. Chil- 
dren as well as adults must hereby be incorporated into Christ, for there 
is no salvation in any other. 

"This question is terribly wrested and distorted by those that always 
speak of faith as an act or acts. Reading the definition of faith (Heidel- 
berg Catechism, question 21), they say that this describes, not the nature 
and character of faith, but its perfection and highest degree. We will 
see how the Reformers have defined faith as an instrument according 
to the true foundation of the divine Word, in harmony with the doctrine 
of free grace and in its relation to justification, and not according to the 
principle of works of the semi-Pelagians, as many now do ; who also say 
that the authors of the twenty-first question did not describe the true 
faith of which the preceding answer had shortly spoken, showing that 
they only can be saved that are engrafted into Christ and receive all His 
benefits by a true faith ; but that they described the works of faith. But 
how is it possible that the authors of the Catechism could forget what 
they had just stated as the essential condition of salvation for every man, 
and speak of a high and perfect degree of faith, which is not attained by 
every one of the redeemed, if we take the words of the Catechism in their 
actual sense? No, beloved, the question refers to the same faith of which 
we have been speaking, the faith essential to all, children as well as 
adults; i.e., the imparted faith, which we have defined as an imparted 
faculty and habit, wrought in the elect by the Holy Ghost with re-crea- 
ting attd irresistible po7i'er, when they are incorporated into Christ ; by 
which they receive all the impressions which God the Holy Ghost imparts 
unto them through the Word {regarding children in a manner unknown 
to us) , and by which they are active according to the nature and the 
contents of the Word, the objects of which are revealed to their souls. 
Hence the reality or sincerity of the imparted faith does not depend upon 
the acts of faith, but the sincerity of these acts depends upon the reality 

394 FAITH 

and sincerity of the faculty or habit from which they spring ; so that, 
altho no acts spring from it, as in deceased elect children, yet they possess 
the true faith, from which acts would have sprung if they had been able 
to employ their rational faculties. 

"Moreover, the imparted faith develops all its powers, not in an 
instant, but gradually ; and altho one act does not appear as strongly 
pronounced as another, this is no sign of insincerity ; but it is the sign 
that such act or acts are not apparent. E.g. , the sense of taste can be per- 
fect altho one never tasted sweetness, and to form an idea of sweetness is 
then impossible ; yet when sweetness is tasted the idea is not produced 
by a new faculty to taste sweetness, but by a new object, which excites 
the faculty and produces the idea which was not possessed before. 

"The same is true of the inwrought faith ; with reference to the habit 
of faith it is imparted and perfected by the supernatural operation of the 
Holy Spirit in a moment, but it does not act until the soul becomes con- 
scious of it. And this is why some men, who by reason of the bondage of 
fear of death all their lifetime were never assured of their state in Christ, 
could still be saved. However, we do not dwell upon this point ; we wish 
only to say that the answer describes the real nature and character of im- 
parted/"<zzV^ as a faculty, whereby we receive the knowledge of all that 
God has revealed to us in His Word, and as a confidence that Christ and 
His grace are freely given us of God. 

"Hence it is evident — 

"First, that faith consists in a conviction or persuasion. This is the 
genus of faith. Faith, whether human or divine, is impossible without a 
conviction of the mind of the reality of the matter which is believed. 
When this is lacking there is no faith, but only a guess, a fancy, or a sup- 

"Secondly that this conviction or persuasion is the product or act, not 
of faith as such, but of the testimony which is so convincing and persua- 
ding that its truth can not be doubted. This is the nature of all persuasion ; 
the soul in order to be persuaded does not act, but merely receives the 
proofs of the matter in question, and becomes so deeply convinced that it 
is no longer at liberty either to reject or accept that conviction, but must 
yield itself with greatest willingness to the truth. 

"Thirdly, that according to the degree of clearness wherewith the 
divine testimony, as with an argument, impresses the itnparted faith 
concerning the matters of our lost estate and the way of salvation, the 
conviction of the truth or of the contents of the testimony shall be more 
or less firm and persuasive. 

"Lastly, that as faith is wrought by a testimony, so it is also tnade 
active by a testimony of God' s Word, rendered by an operation of the 
Holy spirit. Being therefore in the adult, the daughter of the Word 


{Bathkol, filia vocis), it is also from beginning to end subject to the 
Word, obeying and in all things following it. For among the Reformed 
this is an established rule, that through the operation of the Holy Spirit 
we first receive a faculty, from which subsequent activities proceed ; and 
that this imparted faculty does not work of its own energy except it be 
wrought upon {acii agimus : being enabled we act) by the Word and the 
omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit accompanying that Word, in which 
and by which it enters and penetrates the soul as its instrument and 
organ, to excite the soul to activity and to flow into that activity. 

" Concerning faith itself it should be remembered — 

" First, that nearly all the old and private confessions of various mar- 
tyrs, since the year 1527, have thus understood the imparted faith, as our 
Heidelberg theologians describe it, in the answer of the twentieth question 
in general, and in that of the twenty-first more particularly. 

"Secondly, we must call your Christian attention to the acts which flow 
from the imparted faith. Theologians entertain different opinions regard- 
ing the number of these acts of faith, and which is the proper act of faith. 
Just a word regarding both. In regard to the number, the celebrated 
Witzius mentions nine : three preceding, three proper, and three that fol- 
low. We do not object ; every man is free to express himself as he 
pleases. Yet we prefer the ancient method which holds that faith consists 
of three things ; knowledge, assent, and confidetice. We have no doubt 
that all that God's Word teaches regarding faith can easily be arranged 
under each of these three acts. Concerning the proper act of faith, which 
is called the actus fortnalis Ji del, i.e., the formal act of faith, the following 
opinions are held: (i) that it is the assent ; (2) that it \sih.e coming to 
Christ; (3) th.Q accepting of Christ; (4) a. certain confidence in Christ ; 
and lastly, that it is love. The discussions of the theologians on this point 
are violent, and many tracts are written by the various parties either to 
establish their own opinions or to refute those of others. 

" Beloved, we judge that we could let this matter pass without noticing 
it, were it not for the fact that this definition may favor the semi-Pelagians 
in this respect, who hold that faith is an act, and that it receives its formal 
being by an act: 'Forma dat esse rei ' (the form gives existence to the 
matter). And seeing that some begin to deviate, we say : That no act or 
acts can give faith its form or being. For this would imply that the im- 
parted faith which the Holy Spirit works in the elect is an unformed 
faith, lacking that which is essential to its being. And this is absurd, 
since by this implied ' actus formalis ' there is ascribed to us more than to 
the Holy Spirit ; yea, a g^eat deal more, inasmuch as the form is more 
excellent than the material. According to this supposition He imparts 
to us only the material of faith, without its form ; and by our act or acts 
we give form to that formless faith." 

396 FAITH 

Our principal aim in citing was that the student might receive 
the contrast from the very lips of these two men, and so discover 
that the slight deviation of Amesius from Calvin and Beza in 
Brakel already inclines too much to the subjective; and that the 
objective character of saving grace is sufficiently covered only by the 
line of Augustine, Thomas, Calvin, Zanchius, Voetius, Comrie. 
Brakel was right in opposing the petrified dogmatism of his day. 
But when he systematized his opposition he went too far in that 
direction. In exactly the same manner as Kohlbrugge was right 
when, in opposition to his contemporaries, he maintained the ob- 
jective as rigidly as possible, while his followers go wrong when 
they systematize his then necessary opposition. 

Following the line of Augustine, Calvin, Voetius, Comrie, one 
goes safest. 

Faith in the Sacred Scriptures. 

" With the heart man believeth unto 
righteousness, and with the mouth 
confession is made unto salva- 
tion." — Rom. X. lo. 

Calvin says beautifully and comprehensively that the object of 
saving faith is none other than the Mediator, and invariably in the 
garments of the Sacred Scriptures. This should be accepted un- 
conditionally. Saving faith is possible, therefore, only in sinful 
men and so long as they remain sinful. 

To suppose that saving faith existed already in Paradise is to 
destroy the order of things. In a sense there was no need of salva- 
tion in Paradise, because there was pure and undisturbed felicity ; 
and for the development of this felicity into still greater glory, not 
faith, but works, was the appointed instrument. Faith belongs to 
the " Covenant of Grace," and to that covenant alone. 

Hence it may not be said that Jesus had saving faith. For 
Jesus was no sinner, and therefore could not have " that assured 
confidence that not only to others, but to Him also, was given the 
righteousness of the Mediator." We have only to connect the name 
of Jesus with the clear and transparent description of saving faith 
by the Heidelberg Catechism to show how foolish it is for the Ethi- 
cal theologians to explain the words, " Jesus, the Author and Fin- 
isher of our faith," as tho He had saving faith like every child 
of God. 

Hence saving faith is unthinkable in heaven. Faith is saving; 
and he that is saved has obtained the end of faith. He no longer 
walks by faith, but by sight. It should therefore be thoroughly 
understood that saving faith refers only to the sinner, and that Christ 
in the garments of the Sacred Scripture is its only object. 

Two things must, therefore, be carefully distinguished: faith 
in the testimony concerning a person, and faith in ^aX person himself. 

Let us illustrate. A ship is ready to sail, but lacks a captain. 

398 FAITH 

Two men present themselves to the shipowner; both are provided 
with excellent testimonials signed by creditable and trustworthy- 
persons. Of the absolute truth of these testimonials the shipowner 
is thoroughly convinced. And yet in spite of this testimony one is 
engaged and the other dismissed. Conversing with both, the owner 
has found the first a very reasonable fellow, readily allowing him, 
as the owner of the ship, to issue orders; in fact, as captain he 
would have nothing to say. But the other, a real sailor, demanded 
absolute control of the ship, otherwise he would not take the re- 
sponsibility. And, since the shipowner enjoyed issuing orders, he 
preferred the meek and tractable captain and dismissed the rough 
sailor. Consequently the tame commander, obeying orders, lost 
the ship the first voyage, while the rival ship commanded by that 
Jack-tar returned home laden with a rich cargo. 

We distinguish here two kinds of faith. First, faith or no faith 
in testimony presented ; second, faith or no faith in the persons to 
whom this testimony refers. In the illustration, faith of the first 
kind was perfect. Those testimonies were accepted as genuine; 
the shipowner had perfect faith in the signatures. And yet it did 
not follow that he was immediately ready to entrust his property 
to either one of these captains. This required another faith; not 
only faith in the contents of those papers, but faith also that these 
contents would prove true regarding the command of his ship. 
Hence he carefully considered both men, and discovering that the 
one left no room for his self-assertion, it was natural that he en- 
gaged the other, who flattered his egotism. And, influenced by 
this egotism, he did not place that second faith in the right person. 
His neighbor, not so egotistically inclined, kept the end in view, 
had faith in the bold seaman, and his profits were almost fabulous. 
Hence both men had unconditional faith in the testimonies ; but the 
one, denying himself, had also faith in the excellent captain, and 
the other, refusing to deny himself, had not. 

Apply this to our relation to Christ. That vessel is our soul. 
It is tossing upon the waves and needs a pilot. The voyage is long, 
and we ask: "Who will safely pilot it?" Then a testimony is laid 
before us concerning One wonderfully skilled in the art of safely 
guiding souls into the desired haven. That testimony is Sacred 
Scripture, which throughout all its pages offers but one, ever-con- 
tinued, divine testimony concerning the unique excellence of the 
Christ as leading souls to the safe haven. With this testimony be- 


fore us, it is for us to decide whether we will accept it or not. Its 
rejection ends the matter, and Jesus will never be the Guide of our 
soul. But, accepting it, saying, " We believe all that is written," 
we can proceed. This confession implies: (i) faith in the genuine- 
ness of the testimony; (2) faith in God who gave it; and (3) faith 
in the truth of its contents. 

But this is not saving faith, only faith in the testimony. To 
believe that it will prove true in our case, in our own persons, is 
quite different. This depends, not upon the testimony, but upon 
whether we will subtnit ourselves to Him of whom it speaks. Altho 
this Captain pilots souls safely across very deep waters, He does 
Tiot pilot all souls. They must be able and willing to submit them- 
selves to Him according to His demands. The unwilling are left 
behind, and, trying to pilot themselves, they miserably perish. 
Hence we must submit. And this requires the laying aside of all 
our self-conceit, the utter casting out of self. So long as self stands 
in the way. we refuse Him as our spiritual Guide ; nor do we be- 
lieve in His power. But as soon as self is cast out, the ego si- 
lenced, and the soul abandons itself to Him, the second faith awa- 
kens, and, upon bended knee, we cry: " My Lord and my God!" 

It is exactly as our Catechism beautifully and comprehensively 
expresses it : " That true faith consists of two things, first, a certain * 
knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to 
us in His Word ; but also an assured confidence, which is a firm and 
stedfast confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the Gospel in 
my heart ; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, 
everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given of God ; 
merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits." 

Examining more closely what these two points have in common, 
we find, not that the one is knowledge and the other confidence, but 
that both consist in being perstiaded. 

With the testimony laid before him. the natural man is inclined 
to reject it. He has many objections. "Is it genuine?" " Was it 
not affected by various alterations? Can I rely on the truth of its 
contents?" For a long time he continues his resistance. He says: 
" No man can ever convince me ; I believe a great deal, but not 
that impossible Scripture." But the Holy Spirit continues His 
work. He shows ^lim that he is wrong; and, altho still resisting, 

*"Certa fudicia." Not a certain knowledge, but certain knowledge. 

400 FAITH 

it becomes like a fire in his bones until opposition is made impos- 
sible, and he confesses that God is true and His testimony genuine. 

However, this is not all. He still lacks the second faith : whether 
this applies to him personally. He begins with denying it. " It 
does not mean me," he says; "Jesus does not save a man like my- 
self." But here the Holy Spirit meets him again. He brings him 
back to the Word. He holds the image of the saved sinner before 
him until he recognizes himself in that image. And tho he still 
objects, "It can not be so; I only deceive myself," yet the Holy 
Spirit persists in persuading him until, wholly convinced, he ap- 
propriates Christ to himself and acknowledges : " Blessed be God, 
that saved sinner «;«/." Wherefore it is not first knou>ledge and 
then confidence, but both are an inward persuasion by the Holy 
Ghost. K.n^\h.QXi\axi'C!yiXS persuaded believes. He that is persuaded 
of the truth of the divine testimony concerning the Guide of souls 
believes all that is revealed in the Scripture. And being also per- 
suaded that the saved sinner described in Scripture is himself, he 
believes in Christ as his Surety. 

Hence the peculiar feature of faith in both its stages is to be 
persuaded. Saving faith is a persuasion, wrought by the Holy 
Spirit, that the Scripture is a true testimony concerning the salva- 
tion of souls, and that this salvation includes my soul. 

Is the Heidelberg Catechism wrong, then, in speaking of knowl- 
edge and of confidence? No; but it should be noticed that it 
speaks, not of faith's origin, but of its fruit and exercise, it being 
already established. Being persuaded that the Scripture is true, 
and believing the divine testimony concerning Christ, we at once 
possess certain and undoubted knowledge regarding these things. 
And being persuaded that that salvation includes my soul, I possess 
by virtue of this persuasion a firm and assured confidence that the 
treasure of Christ's redemption is also my own. 

Hence faith has three stages: (i) kno^vkdge of the testimony ; 
(2) certainty of the things revealed ; and (3) persuasion that this con- 
cerns me personally. These used to be called knowledge, assent, and 
confidence; and we are willing to adopt them, but they must be used 
carefully. By the first must be understood nothing more than the 
obtaining of knowledge independently of faith. Hence the Hei- 
delberg Catechism omits this as not belonging to faith proper, and 
mentions only assent and confidence. For that certain knowledge of 
which it speaks is not what the scholastics put in the foreground 


as knowledge, but what they call assent. Knmvledge is not the em- 
phatic word, but certainty * It is not the knowledge, but the cer- 
tainty of the knowledge that belongs to the true faith. 

Wherefore some used to distinguish knowledge and assent, and 
treated them separately. For it should be remembered that the 
unconverted do not understand the Scripture, nor can they read its 
testimony. Not being born of water and of the Spirit, they can not 
see the Kingdom of God. The natural man does not understand 
spiritual things. Hence we say emphatically, that the knowledge 
preceding faith and to which faith must assent implies the illumi- 
nation of the Holy Spirit. Only in that light can one see the glory 
of Scripture and apprehend its beauty; without this it is but a 
stumbling-block to him. Yet it is no part of faith, but only part 
of the Spirit's work making faith possible. 

A truth or a person is not faith, but the object of faith ; faith itself 
is to be persuaded when, all opposition ended, the soul has obtained 
undoubted assurance. Hence the absolute absurdity of speaking 
of faith cut loose from Scripture, or directed upon anything but 
Christ ; or of calling faith a universal inclination of the soul, crying 
after salvation, to quench its thirst. All this robs faith of its char- 
acter. When I say, " I believe," I mean thereby that this or that 
is to me an undoubted fact. In order to believe one must be 
assured, convinced, persuaded — otherwise there can be no faith; and 
the fruit of this being persuaded is rich knowledge, glorious con- 
fidence, and access to the Lord. 

However, it should be noticed that we have spoken of faith only 
a.s it ihovis \t^e\i above the ground. But that is not suiificient. We 
must still examine the root, the fibers of faith in the soul. We 
must examine the faculty that enables the soul to believe. Of this 
in the next article. 

* " Carta fudicia." Not a certain knowledge, but certain knowledge. 

The Faculty of Faith. 

"As many as are led by the Spirit 
of God, they are the sons of 
God." — Rom. viii. 14. 

Saving faith should always be understood as a disposition of 
man's spiritual being by which he can become assured that the 
Christ after the Scripture, the only Savior, is his Savior. 

We write purposely a " disposition " by which he can become as- 
sured. As water is in the pipes, altho not running just now, or as 
gas is in the tubes, altho not burning, so by virtue of regeneration 
is faith present as a disposition in man's spiritual being, even tho 
he believes not yet, or believes no more. If the house is connected 
with the city's water-works the water can run; but for this reason 
it does not always run ; nor does the gas always bum. That in 
your house the water can flow, and gas can burn, is the difference 
between your dwelling and your neighbor's which is not so con- 

There is a similar difference between the regenerate and the un- 
regenerate; that is, between him who is united to Jesus and him 
7iot so united. The difference is not that the former believes and 
always believes, but only this, that he can believe. For the unre- 
generate can not believe; he has purposely destroyed the precious 
and divine gift whereby he could have joined himself to the life of 
God. God gave him eyes to see, but he has purposely blinded him- 
self. Hence he does not see Jesus. The living Christ does not 
exist for him. Not so the regenerate child of God. True, he also 
is a sinner; he also has purposely blinded himself, but an opera- 
tion is performed upon him, restoring his eyesight, so that now he 
can see. And this is the \m^\&ri\.&^ faculty of faith. This faculty 
touches the consciousness. As soon as the fact that Christ is the 
only Savior and my Savior, as an undoubted, firmly established, and 


fundamental truth, is introduced to my consciousness — which is the 
clear representation of my whole being, and is perfectly adapted 
and joined to it — / believe. 

But this truth does not suit the consciousness of the natural 
man. He may insert it now and then by means of a temporary 
or historical faith, but only as a foreign element, and his nature 
immediately reacts against it, in precisely the same manner as the 
blood and tissue react against a sliver in one's finger. For this 
reason a temporary faith can never save a man, but, on the con- 
trary, it injures him ; for it causes his soul to fester. 

The human consciousness as it is by nature, and the Christ after 
the Scripture, are in principle diametrically opposed. The one ex- 
cludes the other. That which suits and fits the consciousness of the 
natural man is the persistent denial of Christ. This natural con- 
sciousness is the representation of his sinful existence ; and since 
an unconverted sinner always asserts himself and thinks himself 
savable, and proposes to save himself, he can not tolerate Christ. 
Christ is unthinkable to him; therefore he can not acknowledge 
Him. No, there is no need of Him ; he can save, too, with Jesus, 
or just as well as Jesus, or after the example of Jesus; wherefore 
this Jesus is by no means the only Savior. 

But if the Christ after the Scripture fits his consciousness, that 
consciousness must have been changed from what it was by nature ; 
and being the reflection and representation of his being and all that it 
contains, it follows that to make room for Christ, not to oblige 
Him, but from his own absolute necessity, h\s being mnst first be 
changed. Hence a twofold change : 

First, the Jte7v birth, changing the position of his inward being. 

Second, the change affecting his consciousness, by introducing 
the disposition to accept Christ. And this disposition, being the 
organ of his consciousness whereby he can do this, is the faculty 
of faith. 

The fathers have correctly observed that this disposition im- 
parts itself also to the will. And it can not be otherwise. The will 
is like a wheel moving the anns of a windmill. In sinless Adam 
this wheel stood squarely upon its shaft, turning with equal ease 
to the right and to the left — i.e., it moved as freely toward God as 
toward Satan. But in the sinner this wheel is partly moved from 
the shaft, so that it can turn only to the left. When he wants to 

404 FAITH 

sin. he can do so. In this direction the shaft is clear ; he has the 
power to sin. But the wheel can not turn the other way ; a little 
perhaps, with much difficulty and much squeaking, but never suffi- 
ciently to grind corn. The working of his will can never produce 
any saving good. He can not make the wheel of his life run with 
the energy of the will toward God. 

Even after he is inwardly changed, and the faith faculty has en- 
tered his consciousness, it is useless so long as the powerless will 
enters the consciousness to expel his Christian assurance. There- 
fore the will must be divinely wrought upon to serve the changed 
consciousness. Hence the disposition of faith is imparted not only 
to the consciousness, but also to the will, to adapt itself to the 
Christ of the Scripture. The will of the saint is made to move 
again freely toward God. When the ego is turned and the will 
changed, then only can the new disposition enter the consciousness, 
to be assured that Christ after the Scripture is the only Christ and 
his Christ. 

The faculty of faith is therefore something complex. It can not 
be independent from the consciousness and knowledge ; for it im- 
plies a change of man's being and the will's liberty to move toward 
God. Hence this faculty is not a spontaneous growth from the 
implanted life, neither is it independent of it ; but as a disposition 
it can enter us only after regeneration, and even then it must be 
given us by the grace of God. 

Of course, the man in whom the faculty of faith begins to work 
believes in Scripture, in Christ, and in his own salvation ; but with- 
out it he continues to the end to object against Scripture, Christ, 
and his own salvation. He may be almost convinced ; wholly con- 
vinced he will never be. This is temporary faith, historical faith, 
faith in ideals, but never saving faith. 

But if a man has received this disposition, is it possible for him 
immediately and always to believe? Surely not, no more than a 
normal infant can read, write, or think logically. And when at six- 
teen he can do these things, it is owing not to new faculties re- 
ceived since his birth, but to the development of those born in him. 
A new-born child of God possesses the faculty to believe ; but there 
is no immediate and actual believing. This requires something 
more. As a child can not learn and develop without teachers and 
in connection with his own environment, so the faculty of faith can 


not be exercised without the guidance of the Holy Spirit in connec- 
tion with the contents of Scripture. 

How this was effected in deceased infants we can not tell ; not 
because the Holy Spirit can not work in them as well as in adults, 
but because they do not know the Scripture. However, since the 
Scriptures testify only of Christ, He may have a way to bring the 
not-thinking child into connection with Christ, as He provided 
Scripture for thinking men. 

In either case, the faith faculty can not produce anything of 
itself, but must be stimulated and developed by the Holy Spirit's 
training and exercise, gradually learning to believe — a training con- 
tinued to the end ; for until we die the working of faith increases 
in strength, development, and glory. 

But this is not all. A man may have the faculty of faith fully 
developed and exercised, but it does not follow that therefore he 
always believes. On the contrary, faith may be interrupted for a 
season. Hence faith should not be called the breath of the soul j 
for when a man ceases to breathe he dies. No ; the faculty of faith 
is more like the power of a tree to blossom and bear fruit : appar- 
ently dead one season, and beautiful with blossoms the next. That 
I possess the faculty to think is evident, not from my uninterrupted 
thinking, for when asleep I do not think; but it is evident from my 
thinking when I inust think. Even so with the faculty of faith, 
which occupies the same position as the faculties of thinking, speak- 
ing, etc. 

Regarding these faculties, we distinguish three things: (i) the 
faculty itself; (2) its necessary development: (3) and its exercise 
when sufficiently stimulated. Hence we notice not only the Spir- 
it's first operation, implanting the faith faculty ; nor only the sec- 
ond, qualifying that faculty for exercise ; but also the third, sti7nu- 
lating and calling out the act of believing whenever it pleases Him. 

There is no man possessed of the faith faculty but the Holy 
Spirit has thus endowed him. There is no man enabled by this fac- 
ulty to believe but the Holy Spirit has also qualified that faculty. 
Nor is there a man using this qualification, actually believing, un- 
less the Holy Spirit has wrought this in him. 

Life has its ups and downs. We see it in our love. You have a 
child whom you love tenderly. But in the daily life you do not al- 
ways feel that love, and sometimes you charge yourself with being 

4o6 FAITH 

cold and without warm attachment for the child. But let some- 
body injure him, or let him be taken ill — or worse, let his life be in 
danger — and your slumbering love will at once be aroused. That 
love did not come to you from without, but it dwelt in the depths 
of your soul, slumbering until fully awakened by the sharp sting 
of sorrow. The same applies to faith. For days and weeks we 
may have to reproach ourselves for the faithless condition of our 
own heart, when the soul seems dry and dead, as tho there were no 
bond of love between us and our Savior. But lo ! the Lord reveals 
Himself to us, or distress overwhelms us, or the earnestness of life 
suddenly lays hold of us, and at once that apparently dead faith is 
aroused and the bond of Jesus's love is strongly felt. 

And more than this: inspired by love, you are constantly doing 
something for your darling without saying : " I do this or that for 
him because I love him so much." So also regarding faith: saving 
faith is a disposition whose activity we do not always notice, but 
like other faculties it works continually, its functions unnoticed. 
Hence we frequently exercise faith without being specially con- 
scious of it. We prepare ourselves especially to think or speak 
when special occasion calls for it ; and so we act from faith with 
conscious purpose when, peculiarly circumstanced, we must boldly 
stand up as witnesses or make some important decision. 

But our comfort is this, that faith's saving power depends, not 
upon some special believing act; nor upon acts less conscious; 
nor even upon the acquired ability of faith, but solely upon the 
fact that the germ of faith has been planted in the soul. Hence 
a child can have saving faith, even tho it never performed a single 
act of faith. And so we continue saved, even tho the act of faith 
slumbers for a season. The man, once endowed with saving faith, 
is saved and blessed. And when by and by the act of faith appears, 
he is not saved in higher degree, but it is only the evidence that, 
through the infinite mercy of God, the germ of faith has been 
planted in him. 

Defective Learning. 

" He that believeth on Him shall not 
be confounded." — I Peter ii. 6. 

St. Paul declares that faith is the gift of God (Ephes. ii. 8), His 
words, "And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," refer to 
the word "faith." 

A new generation of youthful expositors confidently assert that 
these words refer to "by grace are ye saved." The majority of 
them are evidently ignorant of the history of the exegesis of the 
text. They only know that the pronoun " that" in the clause " and 
that not of yourselves "is a Greek neuter. And without further ex- 
amination they consider it settled that the neuter pronoun can not 
refer to " faith," which is a Greek feminine. 

Allow us to put our readers on their guard against the thought- 
less prattle of shallow school-learning. It should be remembered 
that while our exegesis is and always has been the one accepted 
almost without exception, the opposite opinion is shared by only a 
few expositors of later times. Nearly all the church fathers and 
almost all the theologians eminent for Greek scholarship judged 
that the words " it is the gift of God" refer io faith. 

1. This was the exegesis, according to the ancient tradition, of 
the churches in which St. Paul had labored. 

2. Of those that spoke the Greek language and were familiar 
with the peculiar Greek construction. 

3. Of the Latin church fathers, who maintained close contact 
with the Greek world. 

4. Of such scholars as Erasmus, Grotius, and others, who as 
philologists were without peers, and in them all the more remark- 
able, since personally they favored the exposition that faith is the 
work of man. 

5. Of Beza, Zanchius, Piscator, Voetius, Heidegger, and even 
of Wolf, Bengel, Estius, Michaelis, Rosenmiiller, Flatt, Meier, 

4o8 FAITH 

Baumgarten-Crusius, etc., who to the present day maintain the 
original tradition. 

And lastly, Calvin, altho he is said to have favored the other 
exegesis. But if he had surrendered the original interpretation, 
he would have given some reason for it ; for he was thoroughly ac- 
quainted with it. And this makes it probable that he never in- 
tended to discuss the question. That he adhered to the traditional 
exegesis is proven from his own words, in his " Antidote Against the 
Decrees of the Concilium of Trente" (page 190, edition 1547): 
" Faith is not of man, but of God." 

Even our educated Reformed laymen are acquainted with the 
fact, if it were only from the study of the magnificent commentary 
on the Ephesians by Petrus Dinant, minister at Rotterdam, who 
flourished in the latter part of the seventeenth century. He pub- 
lished it in 17 10, and the book had such a large sale that it was re- 
issued in 1726; even now it is in great demand. We quote from it 
the following (vol. i., p. 451): '" And that not of yourselves, it is 
the gift of God.' The word ' that," tovto, refers either to the preced- 
ing ' being saved,' or to ' faith.' To the former it can not refer, St. 
Paul having stated already that salvation is a gift of God. Hence 
it must refer to faith. It is true the Greek tovto is a neuter, while 
■KiGTTjg, faith, is a feminine. But Greek scholars know that the rela- 
tive pronoun may refer just as well to the following dupov, gift, 
which is neuter, as to the preceding niarijc, which is feminine, ac- 
cording to the rule in Greek grammar governing this point. Hence 
' that, ' viz. , ' faith, is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 

But recent discoveries may have upset this ancient exegesis. If 
the modern expositors of Utrecht, Groningen, and Leyden, who 
make a hobby of this modern exegesis, will therefore show us this 
recent discovery, we will give them an attentive hearing. But they 
fail to do this. On the contrary, they say : " The matter is settled, 
and so plain that even a tyro in Greek can see it." And by saying 
this, they judge themselves. For brains incomparably superior, 
such as Erasmus and Hugo Grotius, knew so much of Greek that 
they were at least acquainted with the Greek rudiments. And we 
may venture to say that all the Greek scholarship now lodged in 
the brains of our exegetes at the universities just named would not 
half fill the cup which Erasmus and Grotius together filled to the 
brim. Wherefore we confidently maintain the traditional exegesis. 

The positive assurance wherewith these young expositors make 


their assertions need not surprise us. The explanation is easily 
found. They were nearly all prepared at universities whose pro- 
fessors of New-Testament exegesis seek to estrange their students 
from the traditional interpretation of the Scripture by making sur- 
prising observations; e.g., the students had learned at home that 
"the gift of God," in Ephes. ii. 8, refers to faith; but they had never 
consulted the original text. Then the professor observed, with 
perfect correctness, that it does not read avrri, but tovto, adding : " The 
gentlemen can see for themselves that this can not refer to faith." 
And, unacquainted with the subject, his inexperienced hearers sup- 
pose that nothing more remains to be said. If their Greek scholar- 
ship had been more thorough and extensive, they would have been 
able to judge more independently. 

With this conviction they enter the church ; and when a simple 
layman repeats the old exegesis, they delight, at least on such oc- 
casions, to parade the fruit of their academic training ; and the sim- 
ple layman is made to understand that he knows nothing of Greek, 
and that the Greek text plainly reads the other way, and that 
therefore he may not support the antiquated exegesis. 

When sometimes the Heraut* dares to repeat the old, well-tried 
opinion, these youthful savants can not help but think : " The 
Heraut does not act in good faith ; the editor knows perfectly well 
that it reads rovro, and that Tr/crrw is feminine." Of course, the 
Heraut knows this very well — just as well as Erasmus and Gro- 
tius knew it — and, knowing a little more of Greek than these child- 
like rudiments, has taken the liberty, supported by the goodly com- 
pany of the scholars just named, to entertain an opinion different 
from that of the Utrecht graduates. 

Undoubtedly every man has a right to his own opinion and to 
reject the traditional exegesis. Moreover, in Phil. i. 23, it is dis- 
tinctly stated that faith is gift of God. But we protest against the 
shallowness and artlessness of men who in their ignorance pose as 
scholars, and make it appear as tho even a tyro in Greek, if he be 
only an honest man, could not support the opposite opinion for a 
moment. For this is inexcusable in one who presumes to pro- 
nounce judgment upon another who knows what he is talking 
about, as will appear from the postscript of this article. 

The reader will kindly bear with us for treating this matter 

* A religious weekly publication edited by the author. — Trans. 


somewhat extensively, for it touches a principle. Our universities 
deny our confession of faith. They may still concede that God is 
the Author of salvation, but faith (such as they interpret it) is taken 
in the sense of a medium which originates from the union of the 
breath of the soul and the inworking of the Holy Spirit. Hence 
their manifest preference for such novel exegesis, apparent also 
from the energetic and persistent effort to popularize it. 

And this tendency is manifest in many other directions. For in- 
dividual, original research there is little opportunity. Hence the 
instruction received at Utrecht is the only source of information. 
And this is so thoroughly rooted in heart and mind that the student 
can not conceive that it can be otherwise. Moreover, the argu- 
ments have been presented so concisely and incessantly that con- 
vincing arguments for opposite views seem utterly impossible. 

This being the case, our young theologians, honest in and loyal 
to their convictions, declare from the pulpit and in private conver- 
sation that uncertainty regarding various doctrinal points is out of 
the question ; so that it must be conceded and acknowledged that 
the ancient expositors were decidedly wrong. And this is the cause 
of the strong opposition against many established opinions, even 
among our best ministers; not from love of opposition, but because 
sincere convictions forbid them to follow any other line of conduct, 
at least as long as they are not better informed. 

And this may not remain so. There is no earnestness in that 
position. It is unworthy of the man scientifically trained; it is un- 
worthy of the minister. There is need of individual research and 
investigation. These Utrecht novelties should be received with a 
considerable grain of salt. It may even be freely surmised that the 
learning of the Utrecht faculty, when they oppose the learning of 
the whole Church, must be discredited. 

And thus our young men will be compelled to return to original 
research. Not only that, but they will be compelled to buy books. 
The libraries of nearly all our young theologians contain scarcely 
anything but German works, products of the mediation theology ; 
hence exceedingly one-sided, not national, foreign to our Church, 
in conflict with our history. This lack ought first to be supplied. 
And then we hope that the time soon will come when every 
minister in our Reformed churches shall be in the possession of at 
least a few solid and better works. And when thus the opportunity 
is born for more impartial and more correct study, the rising gen- 


eration of ministers should once more resume their studies, and obtain 
the conviction by their own experience, even as others have done, 
that the work of study and research, which will bear good fruit for 
the Church of God, is not yet finished, but really only just begun. 
Then a generation of more earnest and better-trained men will 
treat the opinions which we have advanced with a little more ap- 
preciation, and, what is of much higher importance, they will treat 
the being of faith with more thoughtfulness. 

It is of vital interest that the exercise of faith and the faculty of 
faith be no longer confounded, and that it be acknowledged the 
latter may be present without the former. Otherwise there will 
be a complete deviation from the line of the Scripture, which is 
also that of the Reformed churches. It will make salvation de- 
pendent upon the exercise of faith, i.e., upon the act of accepting 
Christ and all His benefits ; and since this act is an act, not of God, 
but of man, we imperceptibly lose our way in the waters of Ar- 

Hence everything depends upon the correct understanding of 
Ephes. ii. 8. For faith is not the act of believing, but the mere pos- 
session of faith, even of faith in the germ. He that possesses that 
germ or faculty of faith, and who at God's time will also exercise 
faith, is saved, saved by grace, for to him was imparted the gift of 

Formerly theologians were used to speak of faith's being and 
well-being; but this had reference to another distinction, which 
must not be confounded with the one thus far treated. Sometimes 
the plant of faith seems more vigorous in one than in another, and 
its development riper and fuller, bearing branch, twig, leaf, blos- 
som, and fruit — which is evidence of the well-being of faith. It may 
also be that, in the same person, faith seems to pass through the 
four seasons of the year: there is first a spring-tide, in which it 
grows, followed by a summer, when it blossoms ; but there is also 
an autumn when it languishes, and a winter when it slumbers. 
And this is the transition from the well-hemg of faith to its mere 
being. But as a tree remains a tree in winter, and will possess the 
being of a tree even tho it have lost its well-being, so faith may re- 
main still living faith in us, tho temporarily without leaf and blos- 

For the comfort of souls, our fathers always pointed to the fact, 
and so do we, that salvation does not depend upon the w^/Z-being 

412 FAITH 

of faith, so long as the soul possesses the being of faith. Altho, 
after the example of our fathers, we add, that the tree does not live 
in winter, except it hastens on toward spring, when it shall bud 
again ; and that the being of faith gives evidence of its presence 
in the soul only by hastening on toward its a/^//-being. 


It is necessary to point out two things regarding the shallowness 
of which we complain. 

First, that the construction of a neuter pronoun with a feminine 
noun as its antecedent is not a mistake, but excellent Greek. 

Second, that the Church had reasons why until now she made 
the words " and that not of yourselves " refer to faith. 

In regard to thQ first point, we refer not to a Hellenistic excep- 
tion, but to the ordinary rule, which is found in every good Greek 
syntax, and which every exegete ought to know. 

A rule which, among others, was formulated by Kiihner, in his 
" Ausfiihrliche Grammatik der Griech. Sprache," vol. ii., i, p. 54 
(Han., 1870), and which is as follows: " Besonders Mufig steht das 
Neutrum eines demonstrativen Pronofnefis in JBeziehung auf ein fndnn- 
liches Oder weibliches Substantiv, indem der Begriff desselben ganz 
allgemein ah blosses Ding oder IVesen, oder auch als ein ganzer Gedanke 
aufgefasst wird." Which is in English: A neutral demonstrative 
pronoun is frequently used to refer to a preceding masculine or 
feminine noun, when the meaning expressed by this word is taken 
in a general sense, etc. 

The examples cited by Kiihner deal a death-blow to the Utrecht 
exegesis. Take, for instance, these from Plato and Xenophon : 

Plato, "Protagoras," 357, C. : 

'OfioTioyovfiEV iniaTtjfiTiq /iTjdev elvac Kpe'iTTOv^ a?.7[.a tovto cieI Kpareiv, birov av fry, 
Koi ^6ov^g Koi tuv aMuv aKavruv. 

Plato, "Menon," 73, C. : 

'EnecS^ toIvw rj avrrj apery ndvruv kari, neipu elnEiv kqi avafiv^adyvai^ ri aind 
^^i Topyiaf elvai. 

Xenophon, "Hiero," ix., 9. 

Et ifiTTopia u(ji£X€l Ti ndXiv^ Tifi6fi£V0i av 6 nXelara tovto noiuv kcI ifiirdpovf iv 
irActoif ayeipoi. 


To which we add three more from Plato, and a fourth from Demos- 
thenes : 

Plato, "Protag.," 352, B. : 

Iluf ix^^i ""POf tTricTiifiqv ; ndTepov Koi tovtS aoi SoKel oonep role TroX^Zf avOpitnoiq, 

Plato, "Phsedo," 61, A. : 

'YnEAa/i^avov ; ... /cat kfiol ovtu Mirviov, bnep InpaTTOv^ tovto eiriKtXeiecv, 
(lovaiKTiv iroielv, ug (jn^oaoipiag /lev ovatjc fieyicTTjg /novaiKf/c, ef^ov de tovto npaTTovrog. 

Plato, "Theaetetus," 145, D. : 

Xoipia 6e y olfiac ao<pol ol ao(poi ; — vai — tovto de vvv Sta^ipei tl iniaT^nrig. 

Demosthenes, " Contra Aphob. , " 11: 

'Eyo) yap, a avipeq SiKaoTal^ rrepl TTJg fiapTvpiac Tijg h tu ypafifiaTei(f} yeypa/nfiivrfc 
Eidug 6vTa fioi tov ayuva, koX nepl Toirov Tyv tj^tpov vfiag olaovTag kirtaTa/iEvog (prjdriv 
Selv K. T, A. 

For the present we postpone the discussion of the second point to 
another time. 

But it is evident that these citations upset all the quasi-learning 
of this defective scholarship ; and that the words, " And that not of 
yourselves, it is the gift of God," just with the neutral pronoun, in 
purest Greek, can refer to faith ; hence that all this fuss about the 
difference of gender, not only is without any foundation, but also 
leaves a very poor impression regarding the scholarship of the men 
who raised the objection. 

Moreover, we must also show not only that the ancient rendering 
of Ephes. ii. 8 jnay be correct, but also that it can not be anything 
else but correct. 

It reads : " For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not 
of yourselves, it is the^//7 of God ; not of works, lest any man should 
boast. ¥ov \^Q zxQ His workmanship." The principal thought is the 
mighty fact that the causative worker of our salvation is God. St. 
Paul expresses this in the most forcible and most positive terms by 
saying: " You are saved from grace, through g^ace, and by grace." 
If then it should follow, " And that not of yourselves, it is the gift 
of God," we would have a dragging sentence of superfluous clauses, 
thrice repeating the same thing: "You have received it by grace, 
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." And this might do, if it 
read, "You are saved by grace, and therefore not of yourselves"; 
but it does not read so. It is simply, " and that not of yourselves." 
The conjunction " and" stands in the way. 

414 FAITH 

Or, if it read, " Ye are saved by grace, not of yourselves, it is 
God's work," it would sound better. But first to say, " Ye are saved 
by grace," and then without adding anything new to repeat, "and 
that not of yourselves," is harsh and halting. And all the more 
so, since in the ninth verse it is repeated for the fourth and fifth 
time, "not of works ; we are His workmanship" And while all 
this is stiff and forced, labored and superfluous, by adopting the 
exegesis of the ancient expositors of the Christian Church it be- 
comes all at once smooth and vigorous. For then it reads: " You 
are saved by mere grace, by means of faith. (Not as tho by this 
means of faith the grace of your salvation would be partly not of 
grace ; no indeed not, for even that faith is not of yourselves, it is the 
gift of God.) And, therefore, saved through faith, not of works, 
lest any man should boast, for we are His workmanship." 

But then this creates a parenthesis, which is perfectly true ; but 
even this is truly Pauline. St. Paul hears the objection, and refutes 
it again and again, even where he does not formulate the contrast. 

Faith in the Saved Sinner Alone. 

'» And they believed in the Scripture." 
—John ii. 22. 

Faith is not the working of a faculty inherent in the natural 
man ; nor a new sense added to the five ; nor a new soul-function ; 
nor a faculty first dormant now active; but a disposition, mode of 
action, implanted by the Holy Spirit in the consciousness and will 
of the regenerate person, whereby he is enabled to accept Christ. 

From this it follows that this disposition can not be implanted in 
sinless man, and that it disappears as soon as the sinner ceases to 
be a sinner. The saint believes until he dies, but no longer. Or 
more correctly : faith disappears as soon as he enters heaven, for 
then he lives no more by faith, but by sight. 

The importance of this distinction is obvious. The Ethical 
theologians, denying that faith is a specially implanted disposition, 
but rather a sense or its organ, first dormant then awakened, can 
not admit this, but repeat that faith is perpetual, basing their opin- 
ion upon I Cor. xiii. 13. According to their theory, there is no 
absolute difference between the sinner and the sinless ; they do not 
believe that to save the sinner the Holy Spirit introduces an extraor- 
dinary expedient into his spiritual person. Hence their persistent 
effort to make us understand that Adam believed before the fall, 
and that even Jesus, the Captain and Finisher of our faith, walked 

by faith. 

But this whole presentation is opposed by the apostolic words ; 
" We walk by faith, and not by sight" (2 Cor. v. 7). And again, 
" Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am 
known" (i Cor. xiii. 12), in connection with the preceding: "When 
that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done 
away" (vs. 10). And not less by the word of our Lord, that we 
shall see God as soon as we are pure in heart (Matt. v. 8). 

And starting from this point, we know positively that faith in 

4i6 FAITH 

the sense of saving faith is not perpetual ; that it did not exist in 
Paradise, but can only be found in a lost sinner. To be endowed 
with saving faith, he must be a sinner, just as much as relief from 
pain can be given only to one suffering pain. 

" Very well," say the Ethicals, " we accept this. But when the 
physician tries to improve the breathing of the asthmatic by ma- 
king him inhale fresh air, it does not follow that a healthy person 
does not inhale. On the contrary, a healthy man inhales strongly 
and deeply, and it is the physician's purpose to assist the normal 
function of breathing. And the same applies to faith. True the 
Holy Spirit can give faith only to the sinner, but a healthy saint, 
like Adam before the fall and Christ, did most assuredly believe ; 
for faith is but the breath of the soul. In Adam and Christ this 
breathing was spontaneous ; in sinners like ourselves it is disturbed. 
Hence we need help to be healed. But when our souls once more 
freely inhale the breath of faith, we have received only what Adam 
and Jesus had before us." 

And this we oppose. Saving faith is not the ordinary breath of 
the soul, first disturbed, then restored. No ; it is the specific remedy 
for one lost in sin ; an expedient extended to him because he became 
a sinner; retained as long as he cofitinues a. sinner; withdrawn as 
soon as he ceases from sin. When the expedient is no longer needed, 
and the soul redeemed from sin can breathe freely toward God with- 
out the expedient of faith, wholly restored, entirely redeemed, then 
only he receives once more that natural, spontaneous communion 
with the Eternal which needs no intervening aid, but which is like 
that of holy Adam and Jesus. 

Faith is like a pair of glasses, not only useless, but hurtful to 
good eyes; very helpful for diseased or weak eyes. So long as 
eyes are abnormal, glasses are indispensable ; before they became 
abnormal, glasses were useless (Adam before the fall). Eyes never 
abnormal never needed them (Jesus). As soon as wholly restored, 
they are laid aside (the redeemed in heaven). 

Next in order is faith in connection with Sacred Scripture; and 
here the error of the Ethicals becomes very apparent. Their theory, 
that sinless Adam and Christ exercised faith, and that the redeemed 
in heaven still believe, leads away from Scripture. In Paradise, 
sinless Adam had no Scripture ; neither has Christ on the throne ; 
and in death the redeemed forever lose their Bible. Hence it is 


the logical consequence of this error that the faith of the Ethicals is 
possible without Scripture, and is not necessarily intended for Scrip- 
ture. According to their theory, to believe is the soul's breathing, 
but little more than another name for prayer. Indeed, there should 
have been no Scripture, and in the absence of sin there would have 
been none; hence faith, which is only the restoration of a soul- 
function disturbed by sin, is possible without Scripture. 

This theory is far-reaching. They believe that even among the 
heathen the Lord had His elect, tho they never had heard of the 
Scripture. The heathen of classic times were a sort of unbaptized 
Christians, entering the Kingdom of heaven under the leadership 
of their patriarch Plato. Tho modern rationalists reject Scripture, 
yet they are such lovely and devoted people that faith can not 
be denied them. Reasoning in this way, they arrive at the follow- 
ing conclusions : 

1. Not the Confession, but the motive of the heart is the main 
thing; and 

2. Tho men claim to have discovered intentional frauds in 
Scripture, and therefore reject it, they are still " brethren be- 

The consistency is evident. Wherefore ministers loyal to the 
Word should be careful how they speak of the being of faith, lest 
they feed the evil which they seek to restrain. All that vague and 
flowery talk about faith as the breath of the soul, as the soul's sweet 
trust of love, etc., has a direct tendency toward Ethical error. For 
the line is a dividing-line. Do you acknowledge or deny it? 

The Ethicals deny it. There is no settled boundary between 
God and man, but a certain transition between the finite and infinite 
in the God-man ; no absolute separation between the elect and the 
lost, but a sort of gradual transition in the presentation of a uni- 
versal redemption; no absolute separation between sin and holi- 
ness, but a certain conciliation in the sanctification of the saints; 
no absolute separation between life before and after death, but a 
bridge across the chasm in the state of believing. Nor is there be- 
tween the Bible and the books of men, but a kind of affinity in the 
legends of Scripture ; and, finally, not between the condition with or 
without faith, but a transfer from the one into the other in the pre- 
paratory workings. 

The practical result of this false standpoint is the belief in a 
tnediutn between believers and unbelievers, viz., a third state for 

4i8 FAITH 

troubled souls. Or we may call it philosophy ; but then it is earth- 
bom, in its pantheistic obstinacy refusing to admit the absolute 
contrast between the Creator and the creature, and boldly interpret- 
ing Scripture's ministry of reconciliation in the sense of an essen- 
tial system, i.e., the blending of one being with another. 

Scripture is diametrically opposed to this : " And God divided 
the light from the darkness"; "And God divided the waters from 
the dry land"; " And God divided the day from the night." Hence 
all who acknowledge the absolute separation between faith and un- 
belief must array themselves in direct opposition to the Ethicals. 
This explains the cause of our ecclesiastical conflict. 

They that deny the contrasts and efface the divinely ordained 
boundaries must be irenical; i.e., they must contend that a breach 
in the Church can not be allowed. The fatal inference of their 
pantheistic tendency is " No breaches, but bridges." Hence our posi- 
tion antagonizes this standpoint along the whole line of our eccle- 
siastical and theological life, with definite, stem, and absolute 
consistency: particular grace, or Christ pro omnibus; only two 
states, or three; direct regeneration, or universal, preparatory 
operations ; no divided Church, or a Church loyal to the Word of 
God; a God-man, or a Mediator between God and man; a Scripture 
absolutely inspired, or full of enlightened human opinions ; and re- 
garding faith, a disposition expressly brought into the sinner, or 
the restoration of a soul-function. Hence there is opposition all 
along the line. 

From this the relation between Scripture and faith is easily as- 
certained. Both exist for the sake of the sinner by virtue of sin, 
and to remove sin ; the one not without the other, both belonging 
together. Without Scripture faith is an aimless gazing. Without 
faith Scripture is a closed book. 

Experience proves it. Persons endowed with the faculty of faith, 
but ignorant of Scripture or wrongly instructed, make no progress ; 
once instructed, they live and gain strength. On the contrary, to 
persons familiar with Scripture from their youth, but without faith, 
the Bible is a closed book; the Word can not enter them. But 
when both Scripture and saving faith bless the soul, then the glory 
of the Holy Spirit appears ; for it was He who first g^ranted the par- 
ticular grace of Scripture, and then also that of faith. 

This is the reason why the arguments for the truth of the Scrip- 
ture never avail anything. A person endowed with faith gradually 


will accept Scripture ; if not so endowed he will never accept it, 
the he should be flooded with apologetics. Surely it is our duty 
to assist seeking souls, to explain or remove difficulties, sometimes 
even to silence a mocker; but to make an unbeliever have faith in 
Scripture is utteriy beyond man's power. 

Faith and Scripture belong together ; the Holy Spirit intended the 
one for the other. The latter is so arranged as to be accepted by 
the sinner endowed with faith. And faith is a disposition, com- 
pletely reconciling the consciousness and the Scripture. Hence the 
"testimonium Spiritus Sancti" should be taken, not in the rational- 
istic or Ethical sense of being the operation upon a certain universal 
disposition, but as a real testimony of the Holy Spirit, who dwells 
in the consciousness, and gives us to experience the adaptation- 
like that of the eye to color— of Scripture to faith. 


"Without faith it is impossible to 
please God." — Heb. xi. 6. 

In order to prevent the possibility of being led into paths of error, 
faith is directed, not to a Christ of the imagination, but to " the Christ 
in the garments of the Sacred Scripture," as Calvin expresses it. 

And therefore we must discriminate between (i) faith as a 
faculty implanted in the soul without our knowledge ; (2) faith as 
Sk power whereby this implanted faculty begins to act; and (3) faith 
as a result, — since with this faith (i) we hold the Sacred Scripture 
for truth, (2) take refuge in Christ, and (3) are firmly assured of 
our salvation in inseparable love for Immanuel. 

To which must finally be added that this is the work of the Holy 
Spirit alone, who (i)gave us the Holy Scriptures; (2) implanted the 
faculty of faith ; (3) caused this faculty to act ; (4) made this faith 
to manifest itself in the act; (5) thereby witnessed to our souls con- 
cerning the Sacred Scriptures ; (6) enabled us to accept Immanuel 
with all His treasures; and, lastly, made us find in the love of Im- 
manuel the pledge of our salvation. 

Wholly different from this is the historical faith, which Brakel 
briefly describes as follows : " Historical faith is thus called because 
it knows the history, the narrative, the description of the matters 
of faith in the Word, acknowledges them to be the truth, and then 
leaves them alone as matters that concern it no more than the his- 
tories of the world ; for one can not use them in his business, neither 
does it create any emotion in the soul, not even sufficiently to cause 
man to make a confession: * Thou believest that there is one God; 
thou doest well, the devils also believe and tremble ' (James ii. 19). 
' King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou 
believest' (Acts xxvi. 27)." 

Next comes temporary faith, of which Brakel gives the following 
description: " Temporary faith is a knowledge of and a consent to 


the truths of the Gospel, acknowledging them as the truth ; which 
causes some natural flutterings in the affections and passions of the 
soul, a confession of these truths in the Church, and an external 
walk in conformity with that confession ; but without a real union 
with Christ, to justification, sanctification, and redemption: 'But 
he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hear- 
eth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it ; yet, hath he not root 
in himself, but dureth for a while ; for when tribulation or persecu- 
tion ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended ' (Matt, 
xiii. 20, 21). ' For it is impossible for those who were once enlight- 
ened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made parta- 
kers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and 
the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew 
them again unto repentance' (Heb. vi. 4. 5)- ' For if, after they 
have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of 
the Lord Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and over- 
come, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning ' (2 
Peter ii. 20)." 

There is also o. faith of inirades, which Brakel describes in these 
words : " "1\vq faith of t?iiracles is a being inwardly persuaded, by an 
inward working of God, that this or that work shall be wrought, in 
a supernatural manner, upon our word or command, in ourselves 
or in others. But the ability to perform miracles is not of man, but 
of God, by His almighty power, in answer to faith : * If ye have 
faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this motuitain, 
Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove ; and nothing 
shall be impossible unto you ' (Matt. xvii. 20). ' And tho I have 
all faith, so that I could remove mountains' (i Cor. xiii. 2). ' The 
same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and per- 
ceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice. Stand 
upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked ' (Acts xiv. 9, lo). 
This faith was found especially in the days of Christ and of the 
apostles, for the confirmation of the truth of the Gospel." 

These three kinds of faith do in some respects resemble saving 
faith, but they lack its being. Least of all is the faith to perform 
miracles, which was found also in Judas. Faith which removes 
mountains is not justifying faith. Historical faith comes a little 
nearer, unless, by reason of a slothfulness and indifference, it merely 
echoes the words of others without accepting their truth, and thus 
opens the way to Pharisaism. Temporary faith comes nearest, 

422 FAITH 

which is indeed wrought by the Holy Spirit, and affords a taste of 
the heavenly gifts, but which has not root in itself. It is a bouquet 
of flowers, that for a day adorns the breast of the person who wears 
it, but which, being cut from its root, is not a plant in him. 

Finally, we might speak of faith in its most general sense, which 
is the absence of all hesitation, doubt, or obstacle to receiving in 
ourselves the immediate and direct inworking of the holy majesty 
of God, and of the majesty of His truth, in such a penetrating man- 
ner that spontaneously we believe that the Word and Being of God 
are the ground and foundation of all things. In this general sense 
St. Paul says that, " Without faith it is impossible to please God"; 
and in this most general sense faith also belonged to the Lord 
Jesus Christ. But this is not a saving faith, for it has nothing to 
do with salvation. 

Saving Jaith embraces Christ. How could such Christ-embra- 
cing faith dwell in Immanuel? 

Rather than to spend our strength in proving this clear fact, we 
lay before our readers Comrie's beautiful exposition of the saving 
knowledge of faith, in which he speaks in the following penetrating 

"We will shortly enumerate the objects of this knowledge of faith : 
" First, this knowledge is a divine light of the Holy Ghost, through the 
Word, by which I become acquainted, to some extent, with the contents 
of the Gospel of salvation, which hitherto was to me a sealed book ; which, 
altho I understood it after the letter and in its connections, I could not 
apply to myself, to direct and support my soul in the great distress, con- 
flict, and anguish which the knowledge of God and of myself had brought 
upon me. But now it became plain and knowable to me. Now I learn by 
the inshining of the Holy Ghost the contents of the Gospel, so that I 
can deal and commune with it. And so I suck from these breasts of conso- 
lation the pure, rational, and unadulterated milk of the everlasting Word 
of God. Truly, the souls that are really humbled by the imparted faith 
do not derive any benefit from their own notions and opinions of the truth 
of the Gospel ; on the contrary, they tend to fill them with dismay, be- 
cause their knowledge which is so great is of no use to them whatever. 
I have known men of excellent letter-knowledge who, by reason of their 
natural understanding of the truth, in their legal fear almost cried out in 
the words of devils : ' Thou comest to torment us before our time. ' Only 
remember Spira and others. I believe that the letter-knowledge of the 
Gospel, which was despised here, shall be a hell in hell. For it often 
occurs that this understanding of the letter, which is only an assent to the 


truth by itself, when neglected causes the soul to think : ' This is not for 
me, but for others. ' God knows how many a poor soul sinks away in this 
depth, and is kept there by others who speak boastingly. However, 
when the Holy Spirit causes the divine Gospel to shine into the dark 
prison of the soul, to illuminate the eyes of the inwrought faith with a 
heavenly and divine light, the soul receives the Gospel as good news, and 
as a word of instruction, encouragement, and direction ; and is led by it, 
step by step, as a child, which from its A B C learns to spell and read. 
Now it is : ' Behold, I see a way appear ! ' And then : ' Great sinners have 
been saved, surely there must be hope for me ! ' In the distance the 
gates of the City of Refuge are seen wide open, and Jesus is waiting be- 
hind those walls— yea. His glory is seen shining through the gates. And 
in this way, by means of the heavenly light, which pours in upon the in- 
wrought faith, the soul obtains knowledge of the secret of the Lord in 
Christ, who is revealed to her. How often this knowledge causes the 
soul to go out in holy desires, we need not tell. Many seem to attain with 
one step or bound the highest degree ; but, like noble exotics, the true 
faith grows slowly, step by step, from preceding depths of humiliation, 
until it is perfected in actual work and exercise. 

"Second, this knowledge is a divine light of the Holy Spirit in, from, 
and through the Gospel, by which I know Christ, who is its Alpha and 
Otnega, as the glorious, precious, excellent, and soul-rejoicing Pearl 
and Treasure hid in this field. Altho I knew all things, and I did not 
know Jesus by the light of the Spirit, my soul would be a shop full of mis- 
eries ; a sepulcher appearing beautiful without, but within full of dead 
men's bones. And this knowledge of Christ, imparted to the soul by the 
inshining of divine light, through the Gospel, can never from itself 
give any light to the soul so long as it is not accompanied by the imme- 
diate inworking and illumination of the Holy Spirit. For it is not the 
letter which is effectually working in the soul, but the direct working of 
the Holy Spirit by means of the letter. 

" And now you may ask. In what respect must I know Jesus ? We will 
confine ourselves to the following matters : This knowledge of faith, the 
object of which is Christ in the Gospel, is a knowledge by which I know, 
through the divine light of the Holy Spirit, my absolute need of Christ. 
I see that I owe ten thousand talents, and that I have not a farthing to 
pay ; and that I must have a surety to pay my debts. I see that I am a 
lost sinner, who is in need of a Savior. I see that I am dead and impo- 
tent in myself and that I need Him who is able to quicken me and to save 
me. I see that before God I can not stand, and that I need Him as a go- 
between. I see that I go astray, and that He must seek after me. Oh ! 
the more this necessity of Christ presses upon me, from this true knowl- 
edge of faith, the more earnest, intense, heart-melting, and persevering 

424 FAITH 

the outgoings of my soul are from the inwrought faith, and attended 
with greater conflict. Many do not appreciate them because they do not 
have them, but, being the effects of the Holy Spirit and the results of the 
inwrought faith, they are pleasing to God, to whom they are directed. 
For He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their 
prayer — Psalm cii. 17. 

" Third, it is through this knowledge that I, by the light of the Spirit, 
know Jesus in the Gospel, as adapted in every respect to tny need. It is 
the very conviction of the fitness of a thing which persuades the affections 
to choose that thing above every other ; which makes one resolute and per- 
severing in spite of every obstacle, never to abandon the determination 
to secure to himself the thing or person chosen for this fitness to his need. 
You can see it in the matter of marriage. 

"A young man may judge it absolutely necessary for him to marry. 
And yet, altho convinced of this necessity, he is groping in the dark. 
Now he is fully determined, and to-morrow he is not. Now he wants this 
woman, and the next day another. But as soon as he meets a person 
whom he considers adapted to him in every respect, he is fully resolved. 
This fitness is the arrow that penetrates his soul, and that causes the scale 
of his unsettled affections to turn in favor of the congenial object. Hence 
nothing can draw him away from her so long as he considers her adapted 
to himself ; if need be he will work for her as a slave twice seven years, 
which time will seem to him but as so many days by reason of the hope 
to call her his own in the end. 

"And this can easily be applied to the spiritual. It shows that altho 
one may be convinced of his need of Christ as his Savior, yet so long as 
he does not see and know Him by faith as wonderfully adapted to his 
person in particular, the affections are not drawn to Him. From which it 
follows that many, in ordinary soul-trouble, act so undecidedly : to-day 
they desire Christ, and to-morrow they do not. This moment they wish 
to be converted, and the next they do not. This is the reason that many 
who once were touched by Christ's fitness to their need, and therefore 
were seekers after Him for a season, go back again and no more ask for 
Him, simply because they do not think Him so much adapted to their 
need as to be able for His sake to bear the heat of the day and the cold of 
the night, or sacrifice all things, to possess Him. And this proves that 
they never have known His real fitness, that they never have seen it with 
the eye of faith ; otherwise the seed of God would have remained in them. 
But when the divine light of the Holy Spirit, in the Gospel, illuminates 
my soul, and I receive this knowledge of faith from Jesus, oh ! then I see 
in Him such fitness as a Surety, a Mediator, a Prophet, Priest, and King 
that my soul is touched in such a measure that I judge it impossible to 
live another happy hour, except this Jesus becomes my Jesus. My affec- 


tions are inclined, taken up, directed, and settled upon this object, and 
my resolution is so great, so determined, so immovable, that if it required 
the loss of life and property, of father and mother, sister, brother, wife 
and child, right eye or right hand — yea, tho I were condemned to die at 
the stake, I would lightly esteem all this, and would suffer it with joy, to 
have this wonderfully fit Savior to be my Savior and my Jesus. Oh ! my 
friends, examine your hearts, for, from the very nature of the case, any- 
thing less than this will not suffice. If you possess this you will joyfully 
part with all your sins, you will bid an eternal and joyful adieu to your 
most cherished lusts and bosom passions ; it will make you count all your 
righteousnesses, which you esteemed a gain, nothing but loss, rejecting 
them as unprofitable refuse, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ ; 
it will make you take joyfully the spoiling of your goods ; it will make you 
count it an honor, with the apostle, to be scourged for Christ's sake; it 
will make you say : ' Tho I have not yet found Him, and am only seeking 
after Him, whom my soul loveth, and altho I dare not say. My Beloved is 
mine and I am His, yet if I were to labor for Him twice seven years, and 
spend them in groaning and weeping, in tears and supplications, I would 
count them but as so many days, if only at last I might find Him to be 
my own. ' God Himself must fix your mind upon these things ; these re- 
sults are the infallible signs of the inward root of the matter. 

" Fourth, this knowledge of faith is a divine light of the Holy Spirit 
by which I know Christ in the Gospel in all His sufficient fulness. By this 
I see not only that He is well disposed toward poor sinners such as my- 
self — for a man might be favorably disposed toward another to assist him 
in his misery, but he might lack the power and the means to do so, and 
the best that he could do might be to pity the wretch and say, ' I pity your 
misery, but I can not help you ' — but this divine light teaches me that 
Christ can save to the uttermost ; that tho my sins are as scarlet and crim- 
son, heavier than the mountains, greater in number than the hairs of my 
head and the sands of the seashore, there is such abundance of satisfaction 
and merits in the satisfaction, by virtue of His Person, that, tho I had the 
sins of the human race, they would be, compared to the satisfaction of 
Christ, which has by virtue of His Person an infinite value, as a drop to a 
bucket and as a small dust in the balance. And this convinces my soul 
that my sin, instead of being an obstacle, much rather adds to the glory 
of the redemption, that sovereign grace was pleased to make me an ever- 
lasting monument of infinite compassion. Formerly, I always confessed 
my sin reluctantly ; it was wrung from my lips against my will only be- 
cause I was driven to it by my anguish, for I always thought. The more I 
confess my sin, the farther I will be from salvation and the nearer my 
approach to eternal condemnation ; and, fool that I was, I disguised my 
guilt. But, since I know that Jesus is so all-sufficient, now I cry out. 

426 FAITH 

much more with my heart than with my lips, ' Tho I were a blasphemer 
and a persecutor and all that is wicked, this is a faithful saying, and 
worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ has come into the world to 
save sinners, of whom I am chief. ' And, if need be, I am ready to 
sign this with my blood, to the glory of sovereign g^ace. In this way 
every believer, If he stands in this attitude, will feel inclined to testify 
with me. 

" Fifth, it is this knowledge by which I know, in the light of the Holy 
Spirit shining into my soul through the Gospel Jesus Christ, as the 
most willing and most ready Savior, who not only has the power to save 
and to reconcile my soul to God, but who is also exceedingly willing to 
save me. ' My God, what is it that has brought about such a change in 
my soul? I am dumb and ashamed. Lord Jesus, to stand before Thee, by 
reason of the wrong I have done Thee, and of the hard thoughts which I 
entertained concerning Thee, O precious Jesus! I thought that Thou 
wast unwilling and I willing ; I thought that the fault lay with Thee and 
not with me ; I thought that I was a willing sinner and that Thou hadst 
to be entreated with much crying and praying and tears to make of Thee, 
un-willing Jesus, a willitig Christ ; and I could not believe the fault lay 
with me. ' 

"This opposition or controversy often lasts a long time between the 
sincere soul and Christ, and never ends until by the divine light one sees 
the willingness of Jesus. However, it must not be supposed that there 
has been no faith in the soul during that time. But it may be said that, 
altho there has been faith, there has been no exercise of faith in relation 
to this matter. And when this appears, the soul says : ' With great shame 
and confusion of .soul I now see Thy willingness. Thou hast given me 
the evidence of Thy wi