Exposition

There are six articles included in this part of the Creed. The first of these treats of the person of the Holy Ghost; the next of the church, which the Holy Ghost gathers, confirms and preserves; whilst the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting include the benefits of Christ, which the Holy Ghost confers upon the church.

In speaking of the Holy Ghost there are three things which in particular claim our attention: these are his person, his office and his gifts, or operations. For a more complete exposition of the subject, however, we shall consider in their order the following questions:


What does the term Spirit signify?

Who and what is the Holy Ghost?

What is his office?

What, and how manifold are his gifts?

Of whom, and why was the Holy Ghost given?

To whom, and to what extent is he given?

When, and in what manner is he given and received?

How may he be retained?

Whether, and how may he be lost?

Why is he necessary?

How may we know that he dwells in us?

I. What does the term spirit signify?

The term spirit (from spirando) is sometimes taken for the cause, and sometimes for the effect. When taken for the cause it means the being or force that puts anything in motion, and is either uncreated, or created. It is uncreated in the sense in which God is essentially and personally a Spirit, that is, incorporeal, indivisible, having a spiritual essence, but no bodily dimensions. “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24.) Spirit as created is either immaterial, as the angels, both good and bad, human souls, &c. “Who maketh his angels spirits.” “Thou takest away their breath, they die.” (Ps. 104:4, 29.) Or it is material, as the wind, vapors, &c “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” (John 3:8.) When taken for the effect, or for the motion itself, it signifies,

1. The air which is moved.

2.The impulse and motion of the air.

3. The wind and vapors moved in different ways.

4. Spiritual affections, and exercises whether good or bad. It is in this way that we speak of the spirit of fear, of courage, of revolution, &c.

5. The gifts of the Holy Spirit. “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thes. 6:9.) As it is here used, the term spirit signifies the cause which influences or moves, which is the third person of the Godhead, who works effectually in the minds and wills of men.

The third person of the Godhead is called a Spirit,

1. Because he is a spiritual essence, immaterial and invisible.

2. Because he is inspired of the Father and the Son, and is the person through whom the Father and the Son immediately influences the hearts of the elect, or because he is the immediate agent of divine works.

3. Because he himself inspires and immediately influences the hearts of the people of God, in view of which he is called the power of the Highest.

4. Because he is God, equal and the same with the Father and the Son; and God is a Spirit. He is called holy,

1. Because he is holy in himself, and in his own nature.

2. Because he is the sanctifier, who immediately sanctifies and makes holy the people of God. The Father and the Son sanctify through the Holy Ghost; and, therefore, mediately.