Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

cost, they at first believed on him with a true, though not with a luminous faith. This appears from the anguish which they felt upon being charged with having ' slain the Prince of life.' No man in his senses can be 'pricked to the heart' merely for having had a hand in the just punishment of an impostor and a blasphemer, who makes himself equal with God.' If therefore keen remorse pierced the hearts of those penitent Jews, it is evident, that they looked no more upon Christ as an impostor, but already believed in him as the true Messiah.

No sooner bad they thus passed from faith in the Father to an explicit faith in the Son, but they cried out, “What shall we do?' And Peter directed them to make by baptism an open, solemn profession of their faith in Christ, and to believe the great promise concerning the Holy Ghost. "The promise is unto you,' said he. “Be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins; and ye [every one of yon) shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' And upon their 'gladly receiving the word,' that is, upon their heartily believing the gladdening promise relating to pardon and to the Comforter ; and no doubt, upon their fervently praying, that it might be fulbilled in them, they were all filled with the Spirit,' all their hearts overflowed with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'

St. Peter, speaking (Acts xi.) of a similar outpouring of the Spirit, says, “The Holy Ghost fell on them [Gentiles] as on us [Jews] at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water [them that entered his dispensation,] but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost,' when you shall enter the full dispensation of my Spirit :- God, adds Peter, gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.'-- And when the apostles heard these things, they glorified God ;' not indeed by shouting, " Then hath God given the Gentiles power to speak Arabic:" But by saying, “Then hath God also to the

Gentiles granted repentance unto life,' according to the fulness of the Christian dispensation.

That this dispensation of the Holy Ghost, this coming of Christ's spiritual kingdom with power, is attended with an uncommon degree of sanctifying grace, is acknowledged by all ; and that the gift of tongues, &c., which at first, on some occasions and in some persons, accompanied the baptism of the Spirit, for a sign to bigoted Jews, or to stupid Heathens ;-that such a gift, I say, was a temporary appendage, and by no means an essential part of Christ's spiritual baptism, is evident from the merely spiritual effect which the receiving of the Holy Ghost had upon the penitent Jews, who, being 'born of water and the Spirit,' pressed after the apostles into the kingdom on the day of Pentecost.

“ Even iu the infancy of the church,” says an eminent divine, “ God divided those [miraculous] gifts with a sparing hand.“ Were all [even then] prophets? Were all workers of miracles ? Had all the gifts of healing ? Did all speak with tongues ?' No, in vo wise. Perhaps not one in a thousand. Probably none but the teachers of the church, and only some of them. It was therefore for a more excellent purpose than this that they, the brethren and apostles,' were all filled with the Holy Ghost.' It was to give them (what none can deny to be essential to all Christians in all ages] • the mind which was in Christ,' those holy 'fruits of the Spirit which whosoever hath not, is none of his ; -to fill them with love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness."

It is very remarkable, that although three thousand converts received the gift of the Holy Ghost,' on the memorable day, in which Christ opened the dispensation of his Spirit, no mention is made of so much as one of them working a single miracle, or speaking with one new tongue. But the greatest and most beneficial of miracles was wrought upon them all : For • all that believed,' says St. Luke, 'were together ; continuing daily with one accord in the temple, break

[ocr errors]

in me,

them to say,

ing bread from house to house, eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people,' by their humble, affectionate, angelical behaviour. Or, as the same historian expresses it, (Acts iv. 32,) “The multitude of them that believed'-spoke Greek and Latin? No; but 'were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own ; but they had all things. common ;' having been made perfect in one, agreeably to our Lord's deep prayer, recorded hy St. John : Neither pray I for these (my disciples] alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word, that they may be one ; I in them, [by my Spirit,) and thoi

that they may be made perfect in one.' 3. To this argument, takeu from the experiences of the primitive Christians, I may add, that the doctrine of the dispensations is indirectly taught by our church even to children iu her Catechism, where she instructs

“ By the articles of my belief I learn, First, To believe in God the Father, who made me, &c. : SecondLY, In God the Son, who redeemed me, &c. :

And THIRDLY, In Gud the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me.” For these three distinctions are expressive of the three grand degrees of the faith, “ whereby we inherit all the promises of God," and

are made partakers of the divine nature :" They are not descriptive of faith in three Gods, but of the capital manifestations of the tri-une God, in whose name we are baptized ; and of the three great dispensations of the everlasting gospel, namely that of the Heathens, that of the Jews, and that of spiritual Christians; the dispensation of Abraham beiug only a link between Heathenism and Judaism; and the dispensation of John the Baptist, or of Christianity begun, being only a transition between Judaism and Christianity perfected.

Our Church Catechism brings to my remembrance the office of Confirmation :: It was it seems originally intended to lead young believers to the fulness of the

6

[ocr errors]

Christian dispensation, agreeably to what we read, Acts viii. 12, &c. Peter and John went from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay their hands on the believers who had not yet been baptized with the Holy Ghost, and to pray

that they might receive him: For as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized by Philip in the name of the Lord Jesus.-When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith upon the earth ?' I fear but little of the faith pecutiar to his full dispensation. Most professors seem satisfied with John's baptism or Philip's baptism : The Lord raise us apostolic pastors to pray in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power :

Strengthen thy servants, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter ; and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace; the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength; the spirit of knowledge and true godliness ; and fill them with the spirit of thy holy fear now and for ever.Order of Confirmation. Can it be said that those in whom that prayer is not now answered, live under the dispensation of Christianity perfected ? Are they either established Christians or spiritual churchmen? How long shall the mystery of iniquity prevail ? How long shall a Pharisaic, Deistical world destroy the faith of the Son, under colour of contending for faith in the Father ? And how long shall a world of Antinomian, Solifidian professors destroy faith in the Holy Ghost, under pretence of recommending faith in the Son ? O Lord, exert thy power : Pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh,' and give wisdom to all thy ministers to divide the word of truth aright, and to feed thy people according to their states and thy dispensations !

If these answers give my objector no satisfaction, and he still think it his duty to attack my Essay, I heg leave to address him in the words of a judicious divine of the last century: “ I shall not need, I presume, to desire you, that in your answer you will not rise up in your might against the weaker, looser, or less consid

erate passages or expressions, (of which kind you may Sen very possibly meet more than enow,) but that you will

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

rather bend the strength of your reply against the strength of what you shall oppose. You well know, that a field may be won, though many soldiers of the conquering side should fall in the battle; and that a tree may flourish and retain both its beauty and firmness of standing in the earth, though many of the smaller twigs and lesser branches should prove dry and so be easily broken off. So may a mountain remain unmoved, yea, unmovable, though many bandfuls of the lighter and looser earth about the sides of it, should be taken up, and scattered into the air like dust. In like manner, the body of a discourse may stand entire in its solidity, weight, and strength, though many particular expressions, sayings, and reasonings therein, that are more remote from the centre, should be de tected either of inconsiderateness, weakness, or untruth."

END OF SECOND VOLUME.

JAMES NICHOLS, PRINTER,

2, Warwick Square, Newgate Street.

« ForrigeFortsæt »