Manual of Theology

by John Dagg, 1857

Section 6. Doctrine Concerning the HOLY SPIRIT


Duty of Living And Walking In The Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:25)

We live, move, and have our being in God. His presence is ever with us; and by his power, we are, at every moment, upheld in being, and faculties and powers, from which all movements corporeal or mental, proceed, are preserved in existence and action. Such is our constant and immediate dependence on God. We are, in like manner and degree, dependent on the Holy Spirit, for the existence of spiritual life, and for the faculties and powers necessary to all spiritual action. Our dependence on the Holy Spirit extends still further. The very disposition to holy action, proceeds from the Spirit; and the production of this disposition, is his peculiar work in sanctification. In our natural actions, we live and move in God; in our spiritual actions, we live and walk in the Holy Spirit.

The Scripture representations of our dependence on the Holy Spirit, are full and strong. Our spiritual life comes from him, for it is the spirit that quickens (John 6:63); and he is called the Spirit of Life (Rom 8:2). When the prophet saw the dead bones in the valley, he prayed: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live;" (Ezekiel 37:9) and the spirit of life entered into them. So souls, dead in trespasses and sins, are quickened by the Holy Spirit. And we live in the Holy Spirit as dependent on him for spiritual life, as the body is dependent for animal life on the atmosphere which we breathe. Hence proceed the earnest prayers, that the Holy Spirit may be granted, and may not be taken away (Psa 51:11, 12). And hence the bestowment of the Holy Spirit is regarded as the giving of all good (Cf. Mat 7:11 with Luke 11:13). The importance of the Holy Spirit's influence in the exercises of the spiritual life, may be inferred from such passages as the following: "Led by the Spirit;" (Gal 5:18) "Mind the things of the Spirit;" (Rom 8:5) "Filled with the Spirit;" (Eph 5:18) "The Spirit lusts against the flesh;" (Gal 5:17) "If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live:" (Rom 8:13) "The Spirit helps our infirmity:" (Rom 8:26) "Changed into the same image by the Spirit;" (2 Cor 3:18) "The Spirit bears witness with our spirits." (Rom 8:16)

No believer, who has any just sense of his dependence on the Holy Spirit, for the divine life which he enjoys, and all its included blessings, can be indifferent towards the Agent by whom all this good is bestowed. He cannot willingly "grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom he is sealed to the day of redemption." He will seek to know, in all things, what is the mind of the Spirit; and, to him, the communion of the Holy Spirit will be the sweetest foretaste of Heaven, that can be enjoyed on earth. And to him, therefore, the study of the Holy Spirit's character and office, will be a source of delight.

Chapter I. The PERSONALITY of the Holy Spirit

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON, DISTINCT FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON. (Isa 48:16; Mat 3:16; John 14:6, 14:26; 16:7; Acts 10:19-20; 13:2; 15:28; 20:28; Eph 4:30; Mat 28:19)

The Holy Spirit is a person, and not a mere influence or operation. This may be proved by the following arguments:

1. When Christ promised his coming as another Comforter, the language clearly refers to him as a person: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you." (John 14:16) "The Comforter whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you." (John 14:26)

2. Things are, in the Holy Scriptures, attributed to the Holy Spirit, which can be true only of a person: "He divides to every man severally as he will;" (1 Cor 12:11) "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them;" (Acts 13:2); "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit;" (Acts 5:3) "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." (Eph 4:30)

3. The commission given to the apostles required them to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Mat 28:19) A mere influence or virtue, could not thus be associated with the Father and the Son; nor would it accord with the language of Scripture, to speak of the name of an influence; or with the analogy of faith, to administer baptism in the name of an influence. In the apostolical blessing, the Holy Spirit is connected, in a similar manner, with the Father and the Son: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." (2 Cor 13:14) In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, the Holy Spirit is introduced, together with God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, as a personal agent equally with them.

To these arguments, it may be opposed, that the Scriptures frequently use the words Spirit, Holy Spirit, to denote divine influence. But it is very common, in language, for an influence to be designated by the name of the source from which it emanates. We say: "This plant thrives in the shade; that, in the sun;" but by the word sun, we mean, not the body of the luminary, but the light and heat emanating from it. So, when it is said: "He will report that God is in you of a truth," (1 Cor 14:25) the general omnipresence of God is not meant; for this is equally true of all persons and places. A peculiar presence, implying special divine influence, is intended. It would be improper to argue from this passage, that God is nothing but an influence; and it is, in the same manner improper to argue that the Holy Spirit is not a person, because the name is used in the Scriptures for the influence which he, as a personal agent, exerts.

The frequency with which the name is used to denote the influence exerted, may perhaps be accounted for, from the fact, that the name is given to the agent, because of his influence. It cannot denote anything peculiar in the nature of the agent; for the first and second persons in the Godhead, are, in their nature, spirit, and holy, as truly as the third. The name must, therefore, be regarded as distinguishing him with reference to his operation. He is called holy, because he is the immediate agent in the production of holiness; and he is called the Spirit, the Spirit of God, because he is the immediate agent in exerting the invisible, life-giving, divine influence which proceeds from God.

The Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son. The same passages which prove his personality prove this also. He could not be another Comforter, if he were not distinct from the Father. In the commission to baptize, and in the blessing, his personality is not more manifest than the distinction from the Father and the Son, with whom he is named.


Chapter II. The DIVINITY of the Holy Spirit

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD. (Mat 28:19; Heb 9:14; Psalm 139:7; 1 Cor 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Acts 5:3-4)

When we have ascertained that there is a person to whom the name Holy Spirit is applied, we can have little difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that he is a divine person. The following arguments establish this truth.

1. In the commission he is equally included with the Father and the Son, in the name into which we are baptized. If he is not God when we devote ourselves to him in our baptism, we are guilty of idolatry. It is no objection to this argument, that Paul says the Israelites were baptized unto Moses. (1 Cor 10:2) A formal baptism in the name of Moses is neither affirmed nor intended. An analogy is exhibited between the course of a believer who dedicates himself to Christ in baptism, and the course of the Israelites, who gave themselves up to the guidance of Moses, from the Red Sea to the promised land: but an analogy only is all that is intended. The Corinthians were not baptized in the name of Paul (1 Cor 1:13); though it was their duty to follow him as he followed Christ: and the Israelites were not baptized in the name of Moses; though they followed him as their leader. The Angel, in whom the name of God was, went before them, in the pillar of cloud and fire; and Moses, equally with all the rest, followed his guidance, and acknowledged his authority.

2. In the blessing, the Spirit is named, equally with the Father and the Son, and regarded as the source of spiritual blessings. The words may be considered a prayer to the Holy Spirit, for the bestowment of these blessings.

3. When the bodies of believers are called the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), the deity of the Holy Spirit is recognized. They to whom temples of wood or stone were erected, were regarded as deities: and he to whom the bodies of the saints are temples, must be God. But we are not left to our own inference on this subject. Paul has drawn the conclusion for us: for after having stated that the bodies of the saints are the temples of the Holy Spirit, he speaks of them as belonging to God (1 Cor 6:20); and in another place, when speaking of the saints as a temple, he calls the building a "habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph 2:22) The same view is presented in 1 Corinthians 3:16: "Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." So the heathen deities were imagined to dwell in the temples dedicated to them; and so God was in his holy temple at Jerusalem.

4. The heinousness of the sin against the Holy Spirit, is proof of his divinity. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, Peter explained the enormity of their sin in these words: "You have not lied to men, but to God." (Acts 5:3-4) To sin against the Holy Spirit, is to sin, not against a creature, but against God. This argument acquires greatly increased force, when we consider the words of Christ: "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men (Mat 12:31). Whatever be the reason that renders blasphemy against the Holy Spirit unpardonable, it must include in it that he is God. If he is not God, sin committed against him would be less heinous than that committed against the Father and the Son.

5. Passages of the Old Testament which speak of Jehovah, the Supreme God, are, in the New Testament, applied to the Holy Spirit (Exo 17:7 compared with Heb 3:9; Isa 6:8, with Acts 28:25; Jer 31:31-34, with Heb 10:15-17).

6. The attributes of God are applied, in Scripture, to the Holy Spirit.

Eternity. "Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God." (Heb 9:14)

Omnipresence. "Where shall I go from your Spirit? and where shall I flee from your presence?" (Psa 139:7)

Omniscience. "The Spirit searches all things; yes, the deep things of God." (1 Cor 2:10)

7. Divine works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

Creation. "The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters." (Gen 1:2) "By his Spirit he garnished the heavens." (Job 26:13)

Providence. "You send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth." (Psa 104:30)

Miracles. "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Mat 12:28) "To another is given the working of miracles by the same Spirit." (1 Cor 12:10)

Resurrection of Christ. "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom 1:4) "Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." (1 Pet 3:18)

Resurrection of believers. "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you." (Rom 8:11)


Chapter III. The OFFICE of the Holy Spirit

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SANCTIFIER AND COMFORTER OF GOD'S PEOPLE. (Psa 51:10-12; Ezekiel 36:27; John 14:26; Acts 9:31; Rom 5:5; 8:13, 16, 26; 1 Cor 6:11; 2 Cor 1:22; 3:18; Gal 5:22; 2 The 2:13)

The Holy Spirit is the author of holiness in all those who are saved: "Through sanctification of the Spirit." (1 Pet 1:2) "You are washed, you are sanctified by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:11) He is the author of the new or spiritual life which is produced in regeneration (John 3:6). Not only the beginning of the new life, but its whole progress, is dependent on the Spirit: wherefore, believers are said to live in the Spirit (Gal 5:25), to walk in the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit (Gal 5:18), and be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18); and, for this reason David prayed, "Take not your Holy Spirit from me." (Psa 51:11) As it is his office to change the soul, and from a state of death in trespasses and sins, bring it into a new life, so it is his office to change our vile body, and fashion it like the glorious body of Christ: "He who raised up Jesus from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you." (Rom 8:11) As both body and spirit are redeemed by Christ, so both body and spirit are changed by the Holy spirit, and fitted for the presence and enjoyment of God.

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter of God's people. By his teaching, the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins is obtained. The Savior promised: "He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16:15) In fulfillment of this promise, the Spirit makes known the sufficiency and suitableness of Christ as Savior, and the efficacy of his blood to cleanse from sin. By the Holy Spirit the promises of the divine word are applied to the heart. Hence, peace and joy are called the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). These spiritual enjoyments, which are a foretaste of Heaven, are called "the earnest of the Spirit." (Eph 1:13-14; 2 Cor 1:22) And, as the earnest is given by him, we have reason to conclude that the full possession will be given by him. As Christ will be the medium through which the felicity of the future world will be bestowed; so, the Holy Spirit will be the immediate agent in bestowing it. The first comfort here below, and the full bliss and glory of Heaven, are alike his work.


Adam became a living soul when God breathed into him the breath of life: (Gen 2:7) and from that time, the process of breathing is evidence that life exists. Prayer may be regarded as the breathing of the spiritual man. Sufficient proof was given that Saul of Tarsus had been converted, when the Lord said, "Behold, he prays." (Acts 9:11) True prayer proceeds from the Holy Spirit, imparting spiritual life, and enkindling those spiritual desires which find their vent in prayer. These desires are breathed into the bosom of God, in the exercise of filial confidence in him; and, being in accordance with the will of God (Rom 8:27), they are regarded by him with favor, and obtain answers of grace and peace.

From this view of prayer, we may see the propriety of the Apostle's injunction: "Pray without ceasing." (1 The 5:17) The cessation of prayer would be the cessation of spiritual life. A form of words may not be incessantly used; but spiritual desires must ever have place in the heart; and the habit must ever exist, of looking to God for the fulfillment of these desires. This constant fellowship with God is the life of faith. We live with him, converse with him, and enjoy communion with him, through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us.

We often complain that our prayers are not answered; but it would be profitable to inquire, what those unanswered petitions were. Did we ask for wealth, power, and long life? If so, our desires were carnal, and did not proceed from the Spirit of God. We must learn to regulate our desires by the will of God, and our prayers will be sure to obtain a gracious hearing.

Sincere prayer begins with the very commencement of spiritual life. An infant's cries express its wants, before it knows how to express them in words; and the tender mother will understand this inarticulate language. So the desires of the spiritual infant may be signified by "groanings which cannot be uttered:" (Rom 8:26) but the Lord understands these groans, and knows what is the mind of the Spirit, who makes intercession for them. As the lamb in the bosom of the kind shepherd; as the babe on the breast of its tender mother; so the spiritual babe reposes on the bosom of eternal love; and in that bosom breathes all its desires.

Spiritual life, evidenced at first by the breathing of prayer, is afterwards indicated by spiritual growth. To be spiritual, we must not ever remain babes in religion. Paul said to the Corinthians, "I could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." (1 Cor 3:1) Spiritual life is progressive, and tends to make us men, strong men in Christ Jesus. The truth of God supplies the milk for babes, and the strong meat for those who have attained to greater age (1 Pet 2:2; Heb 5:12). We have been engaged in the study of this truth; and it will be well for us to inquire whether our spiritual life has been nourished by it, and whether we are growing in faith, and love, and every grace. Unless the truth strengthens the inner man, and gives increased vigor in the Christian life, our study of it has been in vain.