The Spirit Gives Life (Boston)

The Whole Works of Thomas Boston (12 vols.) I really like the way Thomas Boston explained how the Holy Spirit gives life (cf. John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6).  I’ve updated the language slightly:

[Jesus said] “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me.” (John  6:37) Now, this also belongs to the promise of the Spirit, who is therefore called the Spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13) as being the principal efficient cause of faith (Zech. 12:10).

The effect of this promise (in John 6:37) is actual believing, produced by the quickening Spirit in the soul, immediately out of the spiritual life given to it by the communication of Himself thereto.  “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God” (John 5:25 compare with 1:12, 13; 2 Cor. 4:13). As receiving Christ passively, the sinner that was spiritually dead, is quickened; so being quickened, he receives Christ actively.

Christ comes into the dead soul by his Spirit: and so he is passively received; even as one, having a power to raise the dead, coming into a house, where there is none but a dead man; none to open the door to him, none to desire him to come in, nor to welcome him. But Christ being thus received, or come in, the dead soul is quickened, and by faith embraces Him; even as the restorer of the dead man to life, Christ would immediately be embraced by him, and receive a thousand welcomes from him who had heard His voice and lived.

When Christ, in the womb of His mother, entered into the house of Zacharias, and she saluted Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, he, the babe in Elizabeth’s womb, leaped as at the entrance of life: so doth the soul, in actual believing, leap at Christ’s coming into it by His Spirit. As God breathed into the first man the breath of life, and he became a living soul, who was before but a lifeless piece of fair earth; that is, God put a spirit, a soul, into his body, which immediately showed in the man’s, breathing at his nostrils: so Jesus Christ, in the time of love, puts His Spirit into the dead soul, which immediately shows itself alive, by believing, receiving and embracing Him, known and discerned in His transcendent glory. And thus the union between Christ and the soul is completed; Christ first apprehending the soul by His Spirit; and then the soul thus apprehended and quickened, apprehending Him again in the promise of the gospel by faith.

 Thomas Boston, The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: Human Nature in Its Fourfold State and a View of the Covenant of Grace, ed. Samuel M‘Millan, vol. 8 (Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1850), 479.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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