Joy of the Holy Ghost: Thomas Goodwin & John Owen

He is in one chapter, John xiv., termed The Spirit of truth,’ ver. 17, who reveals all truth to the understanding; ‘The Holy Spirit,’ who sanctifies the will, the chief subject of holiness; ‘The Comforter,’ who fills the heart with joy and peace in believing; which is therefore usually styled ‘joy in the Holy Ghost,’ in multitudes of places; that phrase speaking him not so much the object of it (which is rather Christ, 1 Peter i. 8, ‘In whom believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious;’ and God, Rom. v. 11) as the author of it: Rom. xv. 18, ‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.’

Thomas Goodwin

The general consequences in the hearts of believers of the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned — Consolation; its adjuncts, peace, joy — How it is wrought immediately, mediately.

HAVING proceeded thus far in discovering the way of our communion with the Holy Ghost, and insisted on the most noble and known effects that he produceth, it remains that it be declared what general consequences of these effects there are brought forth in the hearts of believers; and so we shall at least have made mention of the main heads of his dispensation and work in the economy of grace. Now, these (as with the former) I shall do little more than name; it being not at all in my design to handle the natures of them, but only to show what respects they bear to the business in hand:—

1. Consolation is the first of these: “The disciples walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the consolation of the Holy Ghost,” Acts ix. 31, Ôῇ ðáñáêëÞóåé ôïῦ ἁãßïõ Ðíåýìáôïò, He is ὁ ðáñÜêëçôïò, and he gives ðáñÜêëçóéí: from his work towards us, and in us, we have comfort and consolation. This is the first general consequent of his dispensation and work. Whenever there is mention made of comfort and consolation in the Scripture given to the saints (as there is most frequently), it is the proper consequent of the work of the Holy Ghost towards them. Comfort or consolation in general, is the setting and composing of the soul in rest and contentedness in the midst of or from troubles, by the consideration or presence of some good, wherein it is interested, outweighing the evil, trouble, or perplexity that it hath to wrestle withal. Where mention is made of comfort and consolation, properly so called, there is relation to trouble or perplexity; so the apostle, 2 Cor. i. 5, 6, “As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” Suffering and consolation are opposed, the latter being a relief against the former; so are all the promises of comfort, and all the expressions of it, in the Old and New Testament still proposed as reliefs against trouble.

And, as I said, consolation ariseth from the presence or consideration of a greater good, that outbalances the evil or perplexity wherewith we are to contend. Now, in the effects or acts of the Holy Ghost before mentioned lie all the springs of our consolation. There is no comfort but from them; and there is no trouble that we may not have comfort in and against by them. That a man may have consolation in any condition, nothing is required but the presence of a good, rendering the evil wherewith he is pressed inconsiderable to him. Suppose a man under the greatest calamity that can possibly befall a child of God, or a confluence of all those evils numbered by Paul, Rom. viii. 35, etc.; let this man have the Holy Ghost performing the works mentioned before towards him, and, in despite of all his evils, his consolations will abound. Suppose him to have a sense of the love of God all the while shed abroad in his heart, a clear witness within that he is a child of God, accepted with him, that he is sealed and marked of God for his own, that he is an heir of all the promises of God, and the like; it is impossible that man should not triumph in all his tribulations.

From this rise of all our consolation are those descriptions which we have of it in the Scripture, from its properties and adjuncts; as, —
(1.) It is abiding. Thence it is called “Everlasting consolation,” 2 Thess. ii. 16, “God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation;” — that is, comfort that vanisheth not; and that because it riseth from everlasting things. There may be some perishing comfort given for a little season by perishing things; but abiding consolation, which we have by the Holy Ghost, is from things everlasting:— everlasting love, eternal redemption, an everlasting inheritance.
(2.) Strong. Heb. vi. 18, “That the heirs of the promise should receive strong consolation.” As strong opposition lies sometimes against us, and trouble, whose bands are strong, so is our consolation strong; it abounds, and is unconquerable, — ἰó÷õñὰ ðáñÜêëçóéò. It is such as will make its way through all opposition; it confirms, corroborates, and strengthens the heart under any evil; it fortifies the soul, and makes it able cheerfully to undergo any thing that it is called unto: and that because it is from him who is strong.
(3.) It is precious. Hence the apostle makes it the great motive unto obedience, which he exhorts the Philippians unto, chap. ii. 1, “If there be any consolation in Christ;” — “If you set any esteem and valuation upon this precious mercy of consolation in Christ, by those comforts, let it be so with you.”
And this is the first general consequent in the hearts of believers of those great effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned. Now, this is so large and comprehensive, comprising so many of our concernments in our walking with God, that the Holy Ghost receives his denomination, as to the whole work he hath to perform for us, from hence, — he is the Comforter; as Jesus Christ, from the work of redemption and salvation, is the Redeemer and Saviour of his church. Now, as we have no consolation but from the Holy Ghost, so all his effects towards us have certainly this consequent more or less in us. Yea, I dare say, whatever we have in the kinds of the things before mentioned that brings not consolation with it, in the root at least, if not in the ripe fruit, is not of the Holy Ghost. The way whereby comfort issues out from those works of his, belongs to particular cases. The fellowship we have with him consists, in no small portion of it, in the consolation we receive from him. This gives us a valuation of his love; teacheth whither to make applications in our distress, — whom to pray for, to pray to, — whom to wait upon, in perplexities.

2. Peace ariseth hence also. Rom. xv. 13, “The God of hope fill you with all peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” The power of the Holy Ghost is not 252only extended to hope, but to our peace also in believing. So is it in the connection of those promises, John xiv. 26, 27, “I will give you the Comforter:” and what then? what follows that grant? “Peace,” saith he, “I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.” Nor doth Christ otherwise leave his peace, or give his peace unto them, but by bestowing the Comforter on them. The peace of Christ consists in the soul’s sense of its acceptation with God in friendship. So is Christ said to be “our peace,” Eph. ii. 14, by slaying the enmity between God and us, and in taking away the handwriting that was against us. Rom. v. 1, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” A comfortable persuasion of our acceptation with God in Christ is the bottom of this peace; it inwraps deliverance from eternal wrath, hatred, curse, condemnation, — all sweetly affecting the soul and conscience.

And this is a branch from the same root with that foregoing, — a consequent of the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned. Suppose a man chosen in the eternal love of the Father, redeemed by the blood of the Son, and justified freely by the grace of God, so that he hath a right to all the promises of the gospel; yet this person can by no reasonings nor arguings of his own heart, by no considerations of the promises themselves, nor of the love of God or grace of Christ in them, be brought to any establishment in peace, until it be produced in him as a fruit and consequent of the work of the Holy Ghost in him and towards him. “Peace” is the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. v. 22. The savour of the Spirit is “life and peace,” Rom. viii. 6. All we have is from him and by him.

3. Joy, also, is of this number. The Spirit, as was showed, is called “The oil of gladness,” Heb. i. 9. His anointing brings gladness with it, Isa. lxi. 3, “The oil of joy for mourning.” “The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” Rom. xiv. 17; “Received the word with joy in the Holy Ghost,” 1 Thess. i. 6, — “with joy,” as Peter tells believers, “unspeakable and full of glory,” 1 Epist. i. 8. To give joy to the hearts of believers is eminently the work of the Comforter; and this he doth by the particulars before instanced in. That “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” mentioned Rom. v. 2, which carries the soul through any tribulation, even with glorying, hath its rise in the Spirit’s “shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts,” verse 5. Now, there are two ways whereby the Spirit worketh this joy in the hearts of believers:—
(1.) He doth it immediately by himself; without the consideration of any other acts or works of his, or the interposition of any reasonings, or deductions and conclusions. As in sanctification he is a well of water springing up in the soul, immediately exerting his efficacy and refreshment; so in consolation, he immediately works the soul and minds of men to a joyful, rejoicing, and spiritual frame, filling them with exultation and gladness; — not that this arises from our reflex consideration of the love of God, but rather gives occasion thereunto. When he so sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, and so fills them with gladness by an immediate act and operation (as he caused John Baptist to leap for joy in the womb upon the approach of the mother of Jesus), — then doth the soul, even from hence, raise itself to a consideration of the love of God, whence joy and rejoicing doth also flow. Of this joy there is no account to be given, but that the Spirit worketh it when and how he will. He secretly infuseth and distils it into the soul, prevailing against all fears and sorrows, filling it with gladness, exultations; and sometimes with unspeakable raptures of mind.
(2.) Mediately. By his other works towards us, he gives a sense of the love of God, with our adoption and acceptation with him; and on the consideration thereof enables us to receive it. Let what hath been spoken of his operations towards us be considered, — what assurance he gives us of the love of God; what life, power, and security; what pledge of our eternal welfare, — and it will be easily perceived that he lays a sufficient foundation of this joy and gladness. Not that we are able, upon any rational consideration, deduction, or conclusion, that we can make from the things mentioned, to affect our hearts with the joy and gladness intended; it is left no less the proper work of the Spirit to do it from hence, and by the intervenience of these considerations, than to do it immediately without them. This process of producing joy in the heart, we have, Ps. xxiii. 5, 6, “Thou anointest my head with oil.” Hence is the conclusion, as in the way of exultation, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.” Of this effect of the Comforter, see Isa. xxxv. throughout.

4. Hope, also, is an effect of those workings of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us, Rom. xv. 13. These, I say, are the general consequents of the effects of the Holy Ghost upon the hearts of believers; which, if we might consider them in their offspring, with all the branches that shoot out from them, in exultation, assurance, boldness, confidence, expectation, glorying, and the like, it would appear how far our whole communion with God is influenced by them. But I only name the heads of things, and hasten to what remains. It is the general and particular way of our communion with the Holy Ghost that should nextly ensue, but that some other considerations necessarily do here interpose themselves.

John Owen

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