The Gift of the Holy Ghost.
By Rev. John Morgan,
Prof. of the Lit. of the N. Test., in the Oberlin C. Instutute.
[Retyped by Rick Friedrich in May of 1999.]
A long line of prophets had, since the world began, predicted the incarnation of the Word, who was with God and was God,—and when he was to be manifested to Israel, his approach was heralded by a great prophet of miraculous birth and transcendent endowments, than whom a greater had never been born of woman. No mightier preacher had ever stirred up the tribes of the Lord. There went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region round about the Jordan, and were baptized of him in the Jordan confessing their sins. That was a great day in Israel—the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John whether he were the Christ or not. Could the Christ be a more powerful preacher than John—could the results of his ministry be more extensive and glorious? here was all Israel trembling at God's word, all Israel making humble confession, all Israel yielding themselves to the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Now John's ministry was indeed the culmination of prophetic instruction, so that no prophet was ever better qualified than he to tell expectant, anxious Israel in what respect the work of the Christ would transcend his own We pass over the testimony of John to the preeminent dignity of Christ's person and confine ourselves to what he says, of his work. John's testimony was emphatically given to the central truth that Christ is the victim by whose stripes we are healed. "John seeth Jesus coming to him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Again, the next day after, John stood and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God." Christ was also, according to John to destroy the incorrigibly wicked " to baptize them with fire,—to burn them up as chaff with fire unquenchable," and in this respect he would differ entirely from the greatest of mere human prophets. But to another point the testimony of the great prophet is chiefly directed, that in which his own ministry might be drawn into comparison with the work of him whose way he had come to prepare. His own baptism was a divine rite, no less than the baptism of repentance for the remission sins,—it could not be the design of the Baptist to disparage it. But that which was made glorious had no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth. "I indeed" earnestly cries the faithful prophet, "baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the holy Ghost. I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me." On this single point of John's testimony it is that all evangelists have dwelt, and it is to this that our Lord himself (Acts 1: 5.) referred as he was about to ascend to his Father; "John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the holy Ghost not many days hence."
The testimony of the Baptist is appropriately colored by a beautiful allusion to the characteristic rite of his own mission; and it is, as was fit for the Messiah's immediate herald, more express than that of any preceding prophet to the personal agency of the Savior in the bestowment of the great blessing. But the glowing language of Messianic prophecy expatiates variously upon the same theme. "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. I will dwell in them and walk in them. I will put my Spirit within you. It shall come to pass that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions ; and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will pour out my Spirit." The language of prophecy is frequently such that its import is sufficiently obvious to a cursory reader; but more frequently the light of New Testament exposition is needed to blend with the beautiful yet misty rays that shone upon the ancient church, in order that twilight or the early dawn may be turned into noon-day.
We might naturally be led to conclude from the language of prophecy and the testimony of John, that the Savior's earthly ministry would be signalized by the bestowment of the great promised gift. But the blessing was not to descend till he had finished his work on earth, and had ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. It was not, however, fit that our Lord himself should leave untouched the theme on which his forerunner had so emphatically dwelt. We accordingly find that the instructions of the Redeemer are more full and explicit on the subject than those of the whole line of prophets. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, he that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." "This spake he of the Spirit," says the Evangelist, "which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of Water springing up into everlasting life." "No one knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him. "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." But some of these passages need the light of those exceedingly explicit declarations which overflowed from the Savior's lips on the "same night that he was betrayed." "If ye love me, keep my commandments and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." "These things have I spoken to you, being yet present with you; but the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me." "I tell you the truth ; it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."...
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all the truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you the things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine : therefore said I, that he shall take of mine and show it unto you." (John 14: 15- 17, 25, 26; 16: 7, 8, 12—15.) As the Lord was about to be taken from his disciples, "being assembled together with; them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me; for John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the holy Ghost, not many days hence." " Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." (Acts 1: 4, 5; Luke 24: 49.) Nothing can be plainer than that most of these interesting passages relate to the same glorious theme on which the illustrious Baptist loved to dwell, the baptism which would, to the joy of his holy soul, eclipse his own, and which he most deeply felt and acknowledged, he needed to receive at the hands, of that lowly Jesus who came to him to be baptized with water.
But at length the earthly work of the Savior was accomplished, and he was parted from his disciples, and a cloud received him out of their sight. He who had descended to the lower parts of the earth that he might die, ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things; and seated at the right hand of the Father, he possesses gifts, and among them the most excellent of all gifts, to dispense to men. The inspired history of the early fulfilments of the great promise of the Father given in the predictions of prophets, and repeated by the Son with amplifications befitting him, is explicit and glorious. The disciples, as they were commanded, tarried at Jerusalem awaiting the promised baptism; but they waited not in supine idleness—they "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication." "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." It was no wonder that "when this was noised abroad, and the multitude came together," that they wore confounded, and totally at a loss to account for the phenomena they witnessed. But an Apostle of the Lord, with his brethren, was at hand, to expound the mystery and the marvel. He took his stand in one of the most ancient and most explicit of the prophecies—of which the predictions of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, pertaining to spiritual blessings, were mere expansions :—"This is that, which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my hand-maidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy." We have a glowing account of the effects of this effusion of the Holy Ghost, of the superhuman wisdom, energy, boldness, and success with which the before timid an inefficient Apostles preached the Gospel. Neither the high nor the low were able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which they spoke.
For a time, the blessing was confined to Jews; but when persecution scattered the disciples, Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them; and they believed Philip preaching the things pertaining to the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. When the Apostles Peter and John came to the city, they prayed for the new converts, that " they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their bands on them, and they received the holy Ghost."
The Samaritans had Israelitish blood in them, and were not among the uncircumcised; and the personal ministry of their Master had taught the disciples of unmixed Jewish blood, not to count them "common or unclean." But soon the partition wall between the Jewish and the Gentile world, was to be utterly thrown down, and the case of Cornelius was to show, that "in every nation," God could give "to him that feared him and worked righteousness," the most glorious of all blessings. While Peter, by God's command, was preaching the Gospel to the pious Cornelius and his friends, "the Holy Ghost fell on all those who heard the word. And they of the circumcision were astonished, as many as were with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost; for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God."
The Apostles letters are sprinkled with passages which inform us that the gift of the Spirit was the universal privilege of the saints, and the most illustrious token of their adoption. Paul, in writing to his Ephesians, reminds them that in Christ, after they believe, they were sealed with Holy Spirit of promise, which was the earnest of their inheritance." He expatiates on the great theme in his epistles to his Corinthians, to whom the Spirit bad discovered "what eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived." He reminds his faltering Galatians of the blessedness they once had—of the Spirit they had received by the hearing of faith—of the Spirit of the Son of God sent forth into their hearts, which as a second and superior soul in them, had cried to God, Abba, Father. He tells the Romans of their possessing the first fruits of the Spirit, which was life to them, while they were groaning under earthly ills waiting for the adoption, the revelation of the sons of God.
We have thus briefly sketched the tenor of the prophecies which relate to the effusion of the Holy Ghost,—given in some detail the words of Jesus Christ on the subject,—and exhibited an outline history of the first fulfillment of promises, in order to prepare the way for an inquiry into the nature of the blessing, and its relations to the church of God in the present and future generations.
1. It seems plain that the gift of the Holy Ghost, spoken of in the passages quoted, and bestowed on the Christian church, for the first time on the day of Pentecost, is not the same influence of the Spirit of God by which sinners are converted. On the other hand, of whatever nature it may be, it can be received and enjoyed only by the saints, as to them only is it promised. They only who believed on the Savior were to receive it; (Jno. 7: 39,) and the Lord Jesus expressly declares, (Jno. 14: 17,) that because the world seeth not the Comforter, neither knoweth him, it cannot receive him ; but that he dwelt with his disciples and should be in them. The Apostle Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, made repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus indispensable conditions of the reception of the gift. (Acts '2: 38.) "Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins ; and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Ghost."
The history corresponds with the promises. It was on believing Jews, including even the Savior's immediate followers, that the gift of the holy Ghost was poured out on the memorable day of Pentecost—it was to believing Samaritans it was given when the blessing passed the bounds of Judea—and it was on pious men it was bestowed when, as Peter preached Christ, the Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius and his friends. Paul tells his Ephesians (Eph. 1: 13.) that "after they believed they were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise"—and it was on twelve disciples (Acts 19: 1—7.) that the same Apostle laid his hand, when he found that "since they believed they had not yet received the Holy Ghost. "Because ye are sons," says he to his Galatians, (4: 6,) "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Thus it is the uniform testimony of the Scriptures, that the promise of the Spirit must be received by faith, and is not given in order to produce the first faith that the believer exercises.
But if it is plain that the baptism of the Spirit is the peculiar privilege of the saints, it is equally clear that, till they have received it, they are not prepared to turn ungodly men from the power of Satan to God. We will not say that the Apostles had no success before they were baptized with the Holy Ghost; but it was not without reason, apparent enough in the results of their subsequent labors, that the Lord Jesus bade them tarry in the city of Jerusalem till they were endued, with power from on high, and that he assured them that they should receive power when the Holy Ghost should come upon them. He had told them before (John 16: 7—8,) that when he went away he would send them the Paraclete, and that when he came, he would convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment. It was not to convert their own hearts that they needed the Spirit. The Savior had testified that they were already clean and were not of the world as he was not of the world. But for the purposes of their mission as under Christ the light of the world and the salt of the earth, they needed a full measure of that Spirit which without measure dwelt in their Lord. They needed this to be one with their Savior as He is one with the Father—that he should give to them the glory which the Father had given to him, in order that the world might believe that the Father had sent him. When they had obtained the promised blessing, many of those to whom they spoke were pierced to the heart, and cried out, Brethren, what shall we do? Now, "preaching the gospel with the holy Ghost sent down from heaven," the word was as a sword wielded by a more than fleshly hand; and the slain of the Lord were many. And many too, were those who were made alive. The before feeble preachers were made able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit. Their ministration was not the ministration of condemnation, but of righteousness as they went from place to place, they needed not letters of commendation as other men needed them. Their converts were their letters, known and read of all men—showing themselves to be letters of Christ ministered by them, written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God--not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. Such confidence they were permitted to have through Christ towards God.
A little consideration will make it evident that the baptism of the Spirit did not consist in the communication of miraculous powers. Long before they received it the Apostles wrought miracles ; and even the seventy returned with joy to Christ from a mission on which he had sent them saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject to us through thy name." We know not that the descent of the holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost made any essential difference in the miraculous powers of the disciples. But it appears that persons might have the Spirit and be destitute of the gift of miracles. Paul in the 12th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians has put this question forever at rest. The Apostle's whole discussion proceeds on the supposition that the Spirit is the common privilege of the saints. But in the conclusion he asks, "Are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret ?" And yet all had been made to drink into one Spirit.
We may, however, fairly draw one inference from Paul's representation,—that when the saints received the promised baptism of the Spirit, whatever gifts or graces they possessed before, they now all came under the sway and direction of him who had come to abide with them forever as the Spirit of Christ, the Paraclete, now the sole organ in them of their Lord and their God.
It seems from the history in the Acts that when the Spirit first came, the gift of tongues frequently, if not always, was the eternal token and evidence of his presence. But Paul plainly tells us in the above quoted passage that all who were endued with the Spirit by no means spoke with tongues. Still it will appear upon investigation that the gift of tongues was a most appropriate and beautiful symbol of that change in the inner man which the baptism of the Holy Ghost always effected. When the Spirit took of the things of Christ and showed them to them that believed on him and loved him, it seemed as though they needed many languages and many tongues, and those like as of fire, "to magnify God and speak forth his wonders."
But even if there were no positive evidence of the kind we have adduced, to show that the baptism of the Spirit did not consist in the gift of miracles or of tongues, there is enough in the nature of the case to demonstrate the justness of the position we assume. Ancient prophecy, John the Baptist's testimony, and the teachings of Jesus himself, set forth the effusion of the Spirit on the saints as the grand privilege and characteristic blessing of the Messiah's time. It was to be a blessing to which John's baptism was as nothing,—a blessing worthy to be the earnest of that day when complete redemption and adoption shall wipe away all tears from the faces of the saints, and death shall be swallowed up in eternal victory. And is this illustrious blessing the gift of prophecy, which a Balaam might possess? Is it the gift of miracles, which might be bestowed on a Judas? Was it even the gift of tongues so excellent as a symbol, but which an Apostle thought fit to disparage in comparison with prophecy? What can be more evident from the nature of the Gospel dispensation, than that its great characteristic privilege and prerogative cannot be any external endowment whatever, or any gift compared with which some other privilege and blessing must appear to the eye of reason and the heart of piety to excel. It plainly must be, in its essence, an internal blessing—a blessing, in the highest and best sense of the term, spiritual and divine. In short, it must be such a blessing that when the: child of God receives it, it must be to his mind and heart the very thing which meets the highest aspirations of his holy soul, and the deepest longings of his earnest and pious spirit.
3. Our readers who have been devout students of the Bible, will remember that it is to this effect that the word of God speaks. It speaks of pouring out water for him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. "Ho, every one that thirsteth," was the prophet's cry, "come ye to the waters." "Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, he that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." We have already seen that an inspired interpreter tells us that this saying related to the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not only the plain import of the words themselves, so decidedly internal and spiritual, but the occasion on which they were uttered, gives them a most interesting significance. "The eighth day of the feast, which was also the last festival day of the year," says Tholuck, "was celebrated with peculiar pomp and splendor. On the same day there was an universal Jubilee among the people, of which the Rabbins were accustomed to say, Whosoever has not witnessed these festive scenes, has no conception of what a Jubilee is. On every one of the eight feast days, at the time of the morning sacrifice, a priest brought in a golden vessel, full of water taken from the fountain Siloa and which sprung up in the innermost part of the temple mount, and carrying it into the inner court mingled it with the sacrificial wine and then poured it out upon the altar. The priests then sounded the trumpets and cymbals and sang the words of Isaiah l2: 3: "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation," [which words form the central gem of a most beautiful Messianic prophecy.] Under these circumstances it is altogether probable that Christ made the exclamation of John 7: 38 at the very time when the priest was carrying that holy water through the forecourt, and when the people had given themselves up to ecstasies of joy on beholding that holy symbol. He tells them that the reality of what they rejoiced in seen under the shadow of a figure, was offered to them in his person. The ancient Jews understood the passage in Isaiah, of the gift of the Holy Spirit to be enjoyed in the time of the Messiah ; and our Lord himself manifestly sanctioned the interpretation promising to those who believed in him wells and even rivers of salvation in their own bosoms.
4. But the Scriptures place it in our power to be much more definite in our account of the gift of the Holy Ghost. In that most affecting discourse of our Lord with his disciples (14, 15, 16,) which contains the principal promises of the Spirit that proceeded from his own gracious lips, we have very satisfactory information respecting the chief function of the Paraclete. He is there called emphatically three times, "the Spirit of Truth," and we are left at no loss to determine why he is so denominated; for our Lord tells his anxious friends, "He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you; he shall testify of me; he will guide you into all the truth; he will show you the things to come; he shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you: all things that the Father hath are mine—therefore said I that he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you." In accordance with these words of the Lord himself speak other passages of inspiration: "Eye bath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God bath prepared for them that love him ; but God bath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep, things of God. Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." "Ye have an unction from the Holy One," says John to the saints of Jesus, "and ye know all things." " The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you ; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it bath taught you, ye shall abide in him." "We now with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into, the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
The principal function, then, of the holy Ghost with respect to the saints is "to shine into their hearts to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." It is not such a knowledge of God as could be secured by the diligent study of the Bible, by the instructions of learned and pious Theologians, or as could be communicated by the oral eloquence of prophets and apostles, or even by the divine eloquence and wisdom of him who spake as mere man never spake. Without the communication of his Spirit, not even the Son of God himself could so make known either the Father or himself as that the knowledge imparted should be in the highest sense, Eternal Life. It is by the Spirit only that God commands the avenues to the human soul and its wondrous interior mechanism, so as to make it discern and appreciate the glory of his perfections.
The Apostle's were good men before the baptism of the Pentecost. But though they listened to the instructions, not of a prophet who was of the earth, therefore earthly and speaking from the earth, but of him who was from heaven and above all, and who spake the very words of God, how dull of apprehension ! How little they saw the glory or felt the power of the truth they heard ! Yet they knew more, believed more, loved more than all the rest of mankind. They possessed truth which flesh and blood had not revealed unto them, but the Father in heaven. But when the holy Ghost fell on them, what a glorious transformation! It was as if meridian day had burst upon them from the obscurity of an eclipse. As with tongues of fire they spoke forth the wonders which, though they knew them before, they till now had not known. God had passed before them and proclaimed his name—shown them his glory. The Spirit had taken the all glorious beams that blaze from the grace of Christ and had carried them far into their hearts. The chambers of their inner being had become all luminous; and every ray of light there glowed with a dissolving, melting warmth. The fountains of the great deep of their sensibilities were broken up, and floods of happy tears were shed over a thousand remembrances of their beloved Lord. His instructions, his miracles, his holiness, his love, his majesty, his sufferings, his cross, his resurrection, his ascension, his seat at his Father's right hand, his whole manifestation and work stood before them in a new and resplendent light and bathed in glory. They were now "endued with power from on high" and were prepared to act as ministers of the Everlasting Gospel of Salvation. They now "drank water with joy out of the wells of salvation," and could sing to each other in the words of the prophet:
"Praise Jehovah; call upon his name;
Make known among the people his deeds;
Make record that his name is exalted.
Sing to Jehovah: for he hath done glorious things;
Be this known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion;
For great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee."
Isaiah 12th cht Barnes Trans.
The disciples now knew the meaning of many things which till now they little understood. They knew now the import of many words, of the meaning of which before, they had but faint ideas, such as Salvation, Peace, Rest for the Soul, Life, Eternal Life, Glory, Fellowship with God, Love, Faith, Hope. They had an interpreter who realized to them the import of many of their dear Lord's precious sayings: "I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also." "At that day [the blessed day had arrived,] ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you." "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. And my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." They had a more perfect view of their heavenly Master, than they ever enjoyed while his corporeal presence was with them; and though now, as to the natural eye they did not see him, yet emphatically they loved him—though they beheld him not, believing, they rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
5. In another point of view the Spirit is spoken of in those passages where his presence is represented as the token or seal of adoption. The Spirit was doubtless given in certain relations and measures before the Lord Jesus Christ was glorified; but he appears to have been then, at best, the Spirit of servitude, given to guide and comfort accepted servants, who looked up to an approving Lord and Sovereign, on the throne in the heavens. (Rom. 8: 15.) But the Spirit of Christ received by his disciples, was not a second effusion of the Spirit of servitude in order to fear, but the Spirit of sonship whereby they cried Abba, Father. That very Spirit of adoption bore witness to their spirit that they were children of God—and if children then heirs ; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. The words of Paul, (Gal. 4: 6,) on this point, are of peculiar interest. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth into your hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying, Abba, Father." Here the representation is, that it is not so much their own feeble souls that make the filial cry, and put forth the filial claim, as the Spirit within their hearts of the only Son of God himself, with whom, by the communication of the Spirit, they have become one. It is as if the Savior himself had put his own soul within them, and led them up to the throne of his Father and theirs, and in their hearts, trembling with humble,. reverent fear had said, Abba, Father, for them. And what wonder that the soul which experiences this condescending tenderness of the Savior, waxes bold, and recognizes itself not only as an accepted servant but a child of God. "The same Spirit [of adoption,] bears witness to our spirit that we are God's children." The Apostolic inference easily follows : "If children, then heirs of God through Christ." But we do injustice to the Apostle—he individualizes: "If a son, an heir of God through Christ."
6. We have spoken of the union between Christ and his saints effected by the Holy Ghost. It is not merely the Spirit that is sent forth from God to act on the world that takes up his abode in believers. It is the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him as the Son. When John saw the Spirit descend on Jesus and abide on him, there came forth a voice from heaven, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And it is the Spirit, thus publicly given to the beloved Son, that is defused through the hearts of all his brethren, because they are beloved sons too, with whom their Father is well pleased also, and to whom their Elder Brother delights to communicate of his own fulness, even grace for grace. The union of Christ and his people, then, is a real union, a union in the participation of the self-same Spirit of the one Father in heaven. This accords with the Savior's prayer, so often inadequately interpreted of a mere union of affection: "Holy Father, keep [my disciples] in thy name which thou hast given me, that they maybe one, as we are: neither pray I for these alone, but for them also that believe on me through their word, that they may be one as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou didst send me. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one,—that the world may believe that thou didst send me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." In reference to the same humbling as well as elevating truth, the Apostle represents Christ and his people under the image of a body, He being the head and they the members, but all animated by one and the same spirit. The unifying instrumentality is not muscle or ligament, but "by one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body, and have all been made to drink into the same Spirit." At times Christ is made a great model temple, and each individual saint is also by the communication of the spirit, a temple of the living God. Again, Christ and his saints constitute one great temple, (he himself being the chief corner stone,) together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.
This joint sonship and joint heirship with the only-begotten of God, into which believers are adopted by the Most High, and to which they are sealed by a kind, of conscious personal union with Jesus, in the participation of the same Spirit—what an unspeakable blessing it is to those who enjoy it! What an astonishing honor put upon those "who were-nature children of wrath, even as others !" The adopted sons of the Most High, are in an exalted sense "partakers of the Divine Nature," and by a birth superior to conversion, having become really children, with Christ, of the Living God! And they are children too, who through the indwelling Spirit of the Only-Begotten, entertain thoughts, feelings, and aspirations suited to the high dignity and rank in the universe, to which, in Christ, they are advanced.
7. We have already remarked that whatever gifts or graces were possessed by the saints before the reception of the Holy Ghost, they were all, on his descent, doubtless taken under his sway and direction. Miracles might be performed, and prophecies be uttered, by wicked men ; and the All-wise God ordained that a few such instances, (and it was obviously fit that such instances should be but few,) should exist and have a place in Sacred History, to counteract that tendency to an over-valuation of external wonders, as "the best gifts" which human weakness has exhibited in every age—a melancholy, phenomenon which marred the glory of the Corinthian church, and which led the Apostle to expatiate with such impressive eloquence on the "more excellent way." Before the Spirit of adoption came, the saints exercised what miraculous gifts the exigencies of the case demanded; but they did it as those, who, sons though they were, differed in their present condition not at all from favored and beloved servants. The Spirit of Adoption at once exalted the gifts before exercised by those who received it, into endowments of sons. The graces before possessed, became the graces and virtues of children—who were called not merely to honor, by becoming conduct and a becoming character, a gracious Sovereign and Lord, but a tender, affectionate, smiling Father. A servant may sustain a very endearing relation to his master; but all the privileges and powers conferred upon him in that relation, great though they may be, do not make him a son. Let him be exalted to sonship, and he may be equally humble and reverent towards him who has thus favored him, but the filial element, introduced into his heart as well as into his condition will give a totally different cast to his spirit and his deportment. Not that his Father ceases to be his Lord: a king is lord and sovereign to his children as well as to his servants. He may not employ his Sons in more important stations, nor entrust them with higher powers than those enjoyed by some faithful, devoted servants. But after all, the son is more than the servant. He is conscious of a freedom, a dignity, a buoyant spirit, to which the servant is a stranger. The gifts his Father bestows on him, come from his Father, and all his feelings, and virtues, and actions bear the filial stamp. This we know to be so in mere human relations; and how much more emphatically would it be so, did every human father possess a spirit which he could in its living consciousness impart to all his children in a manner analogous to that in which God dwells and walks in all his sons and daughters. If these things are so, the same gifts and graces might have been possessed by the saints before they received the great promise of the Father, and the Spirit of Adoption might have so changed them, or the saints in the exercise of them, that they were no longer the gifts and graces of mere servants, but the appropriate endowments and characteristics of sons. But we should not say enough if we did not add that the graces, though not the purely miraculous gifts of the saints, did most certainly gain by the filial spirit an exaltation and expansion, an invigoration and a stability, greatly beyond what appeared in them before. Till the Paraclete came, how obscure the spiritual vision of even the Apostles! how feeble their love! how faltering their faith! how infirm their resolution! The Pentecost transformed them into Christian heroes of the highest order, each of them a terror to Satan and his whole realm.
We wish to add a little to the hints already thrown out on the relations of the gift of the Holy Ghost to the success of primitive preachers. Excepting a few sporadic cases like that of Saul of Tarsus where God exercises his grace in a peculiarly sovereign manner, the Lord employs his people as the channels of his mercy to the unconverted. As an almost universal rule, where there are no saints there are no conversions. Where the Gospel is not preached, mankind remain dead in trespasses and sins. We are, therefore, never told to pray God to send his Spirit down upon the millions in the remotest depths of Asia and Africa, but to beseech "the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest ;" and it seems to be assumed that if this is not done, the harvest must perish. It was no more truly necessary to the extensive conquests of Alexander, that his soldiers should march into the country he aimed to subjugate and fight there, than it is, according to God's plan, indispensable that the sacramental host of the elect should invade all the nations of the earth and fight in them the spiritual battles of the Lord. Now, in order that men may be converted, it is obviously necessary that they should learn the truth, and learn it in a powerfully impressive form. Good men as the Old Testament saints were, and as the disciples of Christ were before they received the promise, they in general did not themselves so know the truth as to be able to pierce with it the steel-clad souls of the masses of men. They needed that the truth should be manifested in more effulgent, burning power and glory to their own souls, till every fiber of their being was instinct with the life of God. They needed to be so penetrated and saturated with the mighty relations of man to God, Christ, Sin, Holiness, heaven, hell, that their whole external life should plainly be the efflux of the volcanic thoughts and emotions of their inner being. They needed no less, that this burning energy should be chastened by a divine sweetness, calmness, and wisdom; so that their whole character should commend itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. They needed too, language fit to convey to men's minds the wondrous, things that God had taught them—that utterance should be given them to open their mouths boldly as behooved them to speak. All these necessities were met by the gift of the Holy Ghost; and in the characters, and mighty words and deeds of the first preachers, the holy Ghost bore testimony to the gospel they proclaimed. But we must go farther, fully to express our view of the truth on this subject. In them, the Spirit of God came himself in contact with rebellious man. From them, as from his war-chariots, he fought his battles love, and shot his arrows of light, and power, and salvation. While the personal agency of the saints was fully exerted-- and they were infinitely far from being mere passive organs of another's activity—the Spirit so worked in them and by them that they were always ready to acknowledge that the excellency of the power was not of them but of God. how felicitous the expression of Paul's humility: "Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me,"—an undesigned echo of the Savior's saying: "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you."
In the same spirit the Old Testament worthies were accustomed to sing respecting achievements of another kind : "O, Lord, thou hast wrought all our works for us." It was not only the effects of the Spirit's immediate action on men's minds that they saw and acknowledged to be God's work and not theirs—they felt that in the results produced by their own transformed impressive characters, and their words of burning power and majestic wisdom, they were themselves so little and the Holy Ghost so much, that to ascribe any thing to themselves was to give a value to an infinitesimal in the presence of an infinite quantity. They were like the dry bones in Ezekiel's valley, entirely powerless, till God brought bone to its bone, and clothed the skeletons with flesh and "the Spirit of life from God" entered into them. They then had a mouth and wisdom which none of their enemies were able to gainsay or resist. Endued with the holy Ghost, whether the disciple was an Apostle, or an Elder, or a private Christian, he was in his sphere a man of power, and his testimony was to felt more than human.
9. We have as yet said nothing of the holy Ghost as the Spirit of prayer. The language of Paul to this point (Rom. 8: 26-27) is peculiarly striking : "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." The Spirit as here spoken of, is the Spirit of adoption, the Comforter placed within the being of God's children. The language seems to say that as the Spirit cries, Abba, Father, in them, so he prays in them, and prays with an earnestness which is expressed in the deepest sighings or groans. But the saint is not in this exercise passive,—he prays in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20,)—prays with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, watching thereunto with all perseverance. Eph. 6: 18.. We may, perhaps, obtain a faint idea of the meaning of Paul in Romans, if we call to mind the efforts which a wise and holy mother makes to teach her little ones to pray after she hopes God has blessed her endeavors for their conversion. They know not what they should pray for as they ought; but she spreads out before their feeble minds the objects of prayer, and as her own soul kindles, she breathes into them the fire of her own pious spirit, puts herself into their little place, and alluring them upward, utters with her own mouth the petition which through her own teachings swell their young bosoms and excite tender sighings in her own mouth, the petition which could go into the interior being of her children or send her soul there, and become to them as it were a higher and better self, we should have a much closer analogy. We sometimes see an instance of the same thing in the endeavors of a mature saint, who has had long and deep experience of prevalence in prayer, to bear up the soul of a young convert with his own soul as he leads him in supplication. "It is as when the eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, taketh them, beareth them on her wings."
Prayer thus offered by the Holy Ghost and in the Holy Ghost, is answered; for he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
10. We read of specific directions occasionally given to the first Christians, distinct entirely from illumination respecting the glory of Christ, and the truths of his Gospel. "The Spirit said unto Philip, Go and join thyself to that chariot." "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold three men seek thee." "The Spirit bade me go with thee nothing doubting." "They were forbidden of the holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia." "They essayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not." Directions of this kind, whether the common privilege of saints or not, are plainly not to be placed on a level with spiritual illumination and discoveries of the glories and perfections of Jehovah—that knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ which is life eternal; because such things a Balaam might receive, as his history plainly shows. But still they were given to Philip, and Peter, and Paul, not as the passive organs, but free children of God ; and they were not despised by those who valued every token of their Savior's presence, and his superintendence of their way.
11. We have occasionally, in the course of our remarks, employed the word Paraclete, rendered in our English Bible Comforter, because there is no word in our language that fully expresses its import, and it sometimes occurs in English books. The word is rendered in other versions, Monitor, Instructor, and in our version, (1 Jn. 2: 1,) Advocate. Calvin retains the original word, Paraclete, in the Gospel, and renders by the word Advocate in the Epistle. Recent investigations have made it clear that the meaning of the word is very comprehensive, and that it was intended to express, so far as one word could do it, all that the Holy Ghost is to the children of God--Instructor, Illuminator, Monitor, Guide, Comforter, Encourager, Advocate. By its etymology, the word denotes a friend whom we, or another for us, may, at any time when we need aid, call to our side. This accords with the saying, He dwelleth with you, or more literally, by you. The nearer and more intimate relation he was about to assume, is indicated by the subjoined promise, He shall be in you. We should choose to incorporate the word into our language rather than to dilute its import by the use of any single English word, and leave the delightful and appropriate task of explaining its significance to ministers of the Gospel. We have precedents for such a course, in the words Baptism, Paradise, Hades, the Christ or Messiah, and a number of other terms. It would be difficult to pursue the same course with respect to the cognate nouns and verbs when they refer to the Spirit's work, and perhaps the attempt is hardly desirable.
12. It is an inquiry of much interest and importance, whether each disciple experienced but one baptism of the Spirit, so that the blessing was thereafter never increased or repeated. In Acts 4: 31, it is said that when the disciples,—some of whom had enjoyed the Pentecostal blessing,—had prayed, "The place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word with boldness." A special fullness of the Spirit, imparted for the occasion, appears to be spoken of in the cases of Peter and Stephen, Acts 4: 8; 7: 55, when they were called to address the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the Jewish nation. Analogous illapses of the Spirit of the Lord acting in totally different relations, are mentioned in the Old Testatament as having fallen upon Gideon, Samson, Jepthah, and other heroes of the ancient people of God. It is true that some modern commentators explain such language as being a mere figure of speech; but we choose to recognize the actings of God's mighty Spirit, where the Lord is pleased to tell us he vouchsafed his presence, whether he put forth his strength to nerve his children for a corporeal or spiritual victory—for a battle with flesh and blood, or with the spiritual powers of the air.
As the blessing of the Spirit might be increased, so it might be diminished. A Peter might dissemble so as to deserve the rebuke of his faithful brother Paul. The Spirit might be quenched. The Holy Spirit of God, whereby the saints were sealed unto the day of redemption, might be grieved. Nay, possibly, a temple of the holy Ghost might be so desecrated, that he would move to the threshold of the house, and prepare to go far off from his sanctuary.
13. Persons of an enthusiastic temperament, have entertained the notion that those who enjoy the internal teachings of the Spirit, need no instruction from the Scriptures, and no spiritual aid from their fellow men, or from the diligent and vigorous exertion of their own intellectual faculties. According to this notion, the sayings of the Savior, which the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, was to call to the remembrance of his disciples, were of no use ; the Holy Scriptures were not able to make the spiritual Timothy wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus ; and it was very preposterous for the Apostle John to say, "I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and because no lie is of the truth." It seems that the Apostle's hope of the good success of his letter, was founded in the fact that they had an unction from the Holy One, and knew all things. According to Paul, 1 Cor. 3: 1, there were things to be spoken to those who were spiritual and which the spiritual only could bear, as well as things to be addressed to babes in Christ. The body of Christ is not such an anomaly that each member can say to the rest, I have no need of you. "The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary." Vain delusion, therefore, is the pretence that God's Spirit was designed to create among the members of the body of Christ such an independence as would be the disastrous occasion of everlasting schism. It is a glorious instance at once of the divine wisdom and love of him who gives gifts to men, that "he gave some [to be] apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive ; but speaking the truth in love may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love."
As to the exertion of our own intellectual faculties: the prophetic character of Daniel did not render it needless, to him "to learn by books the number of the years" of the captivity; the spiritual endowments of Timothy did not render reading useless to him or the study even of the Old Testament Scriptures, so despised by enthusiasts; nor did Luke's inspiration save him from the necessity of "following along from the beginning," (as the words of the original mean) all things which eye witnesses of the matter had declared; nor did even Paul's apostolic character make" books and parchments" superfluous to him. The blessing of the Holy Ghost was designed not only to be an unspeakable good in itself but to make every other blessing a blessing indeed; and especially to make the sayings of Jesus Christ "spirit and life" to the soul—to spread a glory over the whole sacred page—to
give effective value to all heaven-taught words—and to prosper every endeavor to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
14. The view we have exhibited of the nature of the gift of the Holy Ghost, makes it almost self-evident that it was not designed for the ungodly. Still it was by no mere arbitrary decree that they were excluded from its benefits. "The world cannot receive Him, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him." Only the pure in heart can see God—only such can appreciate those disclosures which the Holy Ghost makes of the Divine Glory. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Were God to hide him in a cleft of a rock, as he hid Moses, and pass by him, and proclaim his name—the words that spoke forth the moral perfections of the Eternal One, though expounded by the Spirit, would be to him little else than empty sounds. He has no organ, no receptivity for such communications. A man must have a heart to love the of the things of the Spirit before he can understand them.
Besides how would it consist with the honor of the Holy One of Israel to place the Shechinah of his glory, (not a resplendent cloud merely, but the Spirit himself,) in a temple still a "habitation of devils and a cage of unclean birds?" "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial ?" Those that receive the Holy Ghost are the temple of the Living God; "as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them. Wherefore, [this the unalterable condition,] Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not an unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and ye shall be my Sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty."
The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Adoption, given to sons as such--such in character and claims. Shall the gift be bestowed on those who are of their Father the Devil, whose lusts they will do? How would Abba, Father, sound from lips which have never uttered a word of filial penitence? And what have those who are still "children of wrath" to do with he Earnest of the glorious inheritance of the "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ ?"
15. The baptism of the Spirit appears to have been such a blessing, that those who received it were fully conscious of possessing it. Not that they all doubted of their own piety before, and that this blessing assured them of their acceptance. It seems plain that Peter and others were sure that they loved the Savior before the events of the Pentecost occurred. The lips of Christ had told his disciples that they were clean while as yet the Paraclete was not in them; and an angel had, assured Cornelius of his acceptance before the Apostle preached to him the Gospel and the holy Ghost fell on them that heard the word. If they were conscious of a relation of acceptance before the reception of the promise, how much more when the Spirit of adoption in their hearts cried Abba, Father ! "I think" says Calvin, "that the Apostle used this participle [crying] to express greater confidence ; for doubt does not suffer us to speak boldly, but holds the jaws as it were compressed, so that half-broken words hardly come forth from a faltering tongue. On the other hand, crying is a mark of security and of a confidence not at all vacillating. For we have not received the Spirit of servitude again to fear, but of liberty to full confidence."
16. The baptism of the Spirit was not always received ever after the Savior's glorification at the moment or hour of repentance and faith. The disciples waited ten days from the Savior's ascension before the promise came. The believing Samaritans did not receive it till Peter and John went down from Jerusalem and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. The twelve disciples at Ephesus had not so much as heard whether the holy Ghost was yet given. It was, probably, some years after the first effusion of the Spirit that the devout Cornelius and his friends obtained the gift. We have before spoken somewhat at large upon repentance and faith as necessary previous conditions. We here speak of the fact that it was manifestly in some instances a considerable time after those conditions existed before the promise was fulfilled. We merely suggest whether the delay till Pentecost had not respect, not to the subjective state of the disciples, but the fact that it was fit that the first effects of the great blessing should be witnessed by a great crowd of spectators from Israel both in Palestine and of the Dispersion. The connexion of the spiritual baptism of the Samaritans with the visit of Peter and John might have been intended to endear the Apostles as such to those first non-Jewish converts. The delay in the other recorded cases was perhaps owing to the general principle in the divine administration, that God does not bestow a particular blessing till he has told his people he has such a blessing to bestow and till he has thus called forth their believing desires and prayers. "He gives the Holy Spirit to those that ask it ;" and how shall they ask it till they know of the existence of such a blessing? The greater the blessing, the greater the necessity of previously rousing the soul, to long for it and to seek it by earnest supplication. This will cause it to be valued when it is bestowed, and to be cherished with the most watchful care. We may be quite sure that when holy desire and believing prayer have had their scope, the hand of the gracious Savior will not be held back so long that "hope deferred shall make the heart sick."
But what shall be said of those who know these things and do not care for them, or care for them not enough to seek the transcendent blessing with all their hearts? Too surely, such treat with practical contempt the great characteristic spiritual work of the Son of God—to baptize with the Holy Ghost. If we have not been spiritually baptized, and the fact is not owing to our ignorance, as in the case of Cornelius and the Ephesian disciples, but to wilful supineness and neglect, or to proud obstinate unbelief, the words of Paul (Rom. 8: 9) certainly belong to us, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
16. It remains to enquire whether the gift of the Holy Ghost was confined to the primitive age, or is the common privilege of the children of God in all ages. We know not that much which we have said will appear to have answered this inquiry. The answer is certainly to be found in many of the quotations we have made from the Holy Scriptures. It seems quite ridiculous to understand the predictions of the prophets, the emphatic language of John the Baptist, and the glowing words of Christ, of a handful of his first followers, and their immediate disciples. The interpretation which gives the oracles of God such a turn, is the blindest and most stupid infatuation. The eyes that see only miracles, and tongues, and other external marvels in the baptism of the Spirit, deserve not to be called eyes at all. Those wonders had their place and their importance in arousing the attention of a sense-besotted world, and in gaining a hearing for the words of salvation from those who "unless they saw signs and wonders would not believe ;" and we see not that God has uttered any declaration that should hinder him from granting their testimony again if the exigencies of the cause of truth should call for it. But still, to us the view of Pres. Edwards seems not irrational, that miracles belong rather to the infancy than the manhood of religion; but the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul as the author of Life, Light, Faith and Love, and the bond of union between the Savior and his people, the Infinite Father and his children—this belongs not to the childhood of religion only, but is the highest glory of its maturest and most exalted state, in heaven as well as on earth. For though the external condition and appointment of God's children in the future world will correspond with the splendors of their glorified Savior, (faintly exhibited in the transfiguration when "his face shone as the sun and his raiment was white as the light,") the manifestations which are made to their souls of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ will be to them the great stream of the river of life; "for this is Life Eternal, to know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Evermore as they gaze, with unveiled eyes,—and not in a mirror, but face to face,--on the glory of the Lord, they will be changed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord. In this world, however, the same discoveries are their life, while in compassion for their present weakness, the paternal tenderness of God interposes a mirror, lest beneath the full effulgence of divine glory their feeble corporeal frames should sink in death; "for no man," God himself told his beloved servant Moses, "shall see my face and live." Our salvation in the present and in the future worlds are essentially identical,—internal, spiritual, and consisting in the vision of God and filial fellowship with him.
With respect to the question whether the baptism of the Holy Ghost is designed for Christians of all generations, the words of the Apostle Peter, uttered in the ears of Israel assembled on the day of Pentecost, are perfectly explicit. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: for the promise is unto you and to your children, and "to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." The language of Paul to the Galatians, (3:7-14) if not quite so explicit as that of Peter, is entirely clear. We quote only enough of the passage to present the Apostle's view of the point we are discussing. "The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed, &c.—that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. This was the ultimate point. The salvation of the Gospel was not properly enjoyed till the Spirit of adoption was received, it is for this reason that the same Apostle asks these Gentiles (3: 2) so emphatically, "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or the hearing of faith ?" Nor does the language of Christ, (John 7: 38) divinely interpreted of the gift of the Holy Ghost not to be bestwed till our Lord was glorified, admit of any other sense, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, he that believeth on me—as the Scripture bath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
The baptism of the Holy Ghost, then, in its Pentecostal fulness, was not to be confined to the Primitive Church; but it is the common privilege of all believers—of believers even of this generation, and of every generation to come. It was at first indispensable to the appropriate happiness and befitting characteristics of children of God and brethren of Jesus Christ--a happiness and dignity Impossible except by becoming one with him, not by an external bond like that which unites the famous Siamese twins, but an internal union through the indwelling of the same Spirit. We say it was at first indispensable for these ends; and it has not ceased to be indispensable for the same ends by the lapse of time. It was necessary to make Apostles, and Prophets, and Saints, able, efficient ministers of the New Testament. Till endued by this baptism with power from on high, they were not prepared to convert the nations to God. The same necessity exists at the present day and will continue to exist, till the last sinner is converted through the Gospel preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. Who without the Holy Ghost is sufficient for these things? And of what other sufficiency from God does the inspired word make mention ? Nor will a less effusion of the Spirit, a less degree of the Spirit and power of sonship, answer now, than was found necessary in the Apostolic age. The human heart is not less rebellious and stubborn, Satan is not less active and wily, Christians are not in themselves less weak. The Cross is not less a stumbling-block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek. The sensualities, the superstitions, the philosophies of Asia, Africa, and Papal Europe, are not less potent for infatuation, nor do they hold their victims with a grasp less firm than the formalism of Palestine and the wisdom of Greece. If, as some have strangely intimated, the Holy Ghost was more mighty in the freshness of his first effusions, than we can ever expect him to be again, either in ourselves or in the Christians who are to come after us, alas for the millions of our race. For aught we see, the doom is passed upon them; for salvation shall no more go forth from Zion. Her God has put his hand into his bosom and will no more pluck it out. But no. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion ; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. The Holy Ghost shall yet descend on the Sons of God in greater power than has ever yet been displayed, and a nation shall be born in a day. Judgment shall run down as water, and righteousness as a mighty stream. "As for me, [they are the words of God to Israel, Is. 59: 21; 60: 3,] this is my covenant with them saith the Lord: My Spirit which is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, henceforth and forever. Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Does not the voice of God's word demand of us, the professed Christians of the present generation, to lay hold upon these great promises," lest that come upon us which is spoken of by the prophets :—Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you ?" Enlargement and deliverance for the laboring cause of God, will arise from some quarter. It will be most melancholy for us, if when we get to the end of our swift-passing probation, God should remind us of all the gracious promises of his lips of which we have known, and all the wonders of his grace of which we have heard, as he reminded obdurate Israel of the signs and great miracles done in their behalf upon Pharaoh and his land, and should be obliged to tell us, too, "Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear unto this day."