James Buchanan – The Holy Spirit Enlightening the Mind

Having considered the general design of the gift of the Spirit, in reference both to the world and the Church, and described the course or process by which a soul is translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, I propose to illustrate separately the various parts of the Spirit’s work, or his successive operations on the soul, from the time when it is first taken under his teaching, till it is made ‘meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.’

One of his most necessary operations is that by which he conveys spiritual light into the understanding; and to this part of his work, which is indeed so important, that it is often put for the whole, the apostle refers, when, speaking of the Holy Ghost as ‘the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,’ he prays that by the Spirit ‘the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened’ (Ephesians 1:17-18), and when he describes true converts as having had their eyes opened, and having been turned from darkness to light; nay, translated out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.

The illuminating work of the Holy Spirit may be said to be the groundwork of all his other operations; for it is by the truth known and believed that the Spirit fulfills all the functions of his glorious office.1 By enlightening the mind in the knowledge of sin, he lays a groundwork for the conviction of conscience; by enabling us to see the import and meaning of the Gospel, he proposes motives for conversion; by teaching us right views of God and of ourselves, our privileges and prospects, he supplies us with means of comfort; by showing us the nature and necessity of Gospel holiness, he carries forward the work of sanctification; by disclosing to us scriptural views of our spiritual necessities, he calls forth the spirit of prayer; and, generally, he does whatever he is wont to do, by means of the knowledge Hence it is important to give due consideration to this part of the Spirit’s work, that we may be prepared to understand, and rightly to improve, whatever we shall find revealed respecting his other operations on the soul. Such, indeed, is the inseparable connection, or rather the real affinity of all the saving graces of the Spirit, that none of them can exist without being accompanied or followed by all the rest; and hence any one of them may be used to signify the presence of all. Thus, knowledge, faith, repentance, and love are severally spoken of in Scripture as either comprehending or implying every thing that is essential to a sinner’s salvation; and hence a full exposition of any one of these fruits of the Spirit might embrace a description of the whole of the Spirit’s work. It is not, then, with the view of separating betwixt them, or assigning the precise order of their production, that we distinguish one part of the Spirit’s work from another; but rather with the view of unfolding it, in all the magnitude of its extent, and the variety of its aspects, as it is exhibited in the Gospel.

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