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incredulous Jew, that the Messiah should suffer and die for our sins : nor is there any need, says the carnal christian, that the Saviour should come in a spiritual manner to reign in my heart. The one destroys the body, the other the soul, of christianity : and both are equal strangers to the renovating power of the Gospel.
The true minister, struck with the magnitude of this sin, so general in the present day, incessantly la-, bours for the restoration of those, who are deeply plunged in so destructive an error.
THE EVANGELICAL PASTOR DEFENDS TIL DIS
PENSATION OF THE SPIRIT AGAINST ALL OP. POSLRS.
WHATEVER dispensation of grace the true minister announces, he is constrained, with St. Paul, to brandish bis spiritual weapons 66 on the right hand, and on the left." If he publishes the dispensation of the Father, he finds it necessary to defend its important truths against the daringly prophane, on the one hand; and on the other, against the vainly superstitious. When he preaches, the dispensation of the Son, he has still greater occasion to arm himself on every part, in defence of the doctrine he maintains. On the left hand, he is attacked either by deists, who wholly disclaim all ideas of a Saviour:or by socinians, who despoil that Saviour of his greatest glory: and on the right, he is assailed by ill-instructed christians who under pretence of exalting the Son, look down with contempt upon the dispensation of the Father; not considering, that, by this error, they oppose one principal design of Christ's appearing which was that we might worship the Fa. ther in Spirit and in truth. But it is chiefly with rea
spect to the third dispensation, that the christian preacher is constrained to wield, without ceasing, that “sword of the Spirit,” and that “shield of faith," with which St. Paul was so anxious to see every christian armed. As this doctrine is abundantly more elevated than the preceding dispensations, so it stands more exposed to the shafts of innumerable enemies. On the left, it is incessantly attacked by car'nal professors, and on the right, by fanatical zealots. These two classes of adversaries, though continually at war with each other, unhappily agree in opposing, either directly or indirectly, the progress of this glorious dispensation, obliging the faithful minister, with equal intrepidity, to combat both.
Observe the grand argument, with which carnal christians carry on this opposition. The Comforter,' say they, which was graciously promised to our Lord's first disciples, was undoubtedly received by those highly-favoured missionaries, and conducted them into all the truths of the Gospel. From this divine Spirit they received continual assistance in spreading that Gospel, and by him they were endued with those miraculous gifts, which served as so many incontestable marks of their sacred mission. But as christianity is at this time firmly established in the world, the letter of the Holy Scriptures is now abundantly sufficient for every purpose ; and there is no longer any necessity for that baptism and illumination of the Spirit, which were evidently requisite among the primitive christians.'
As the mistaken Jews, perfectly satisfied with the law of Moses inscribed upon tables of stone, rejected, with obstinacy, the promised Messiah: so these carnal christians, contented with the letter of the new Testament, perversely reject the " Holy Spirit of promise. Search the Scriptures ; for they testify of me," was our Lord's exhortation to those deluded formalists: and the true minister continues the same exhortation upon those, who blindly oppose the com
ing of Christ's spiritual Kingdom. He is anxious, with his heavenly Master, to put the matter upon this issue ; fully conscious, that they who peruse those sacred pages with an unprejudiced mind, must readily observe, that, instead of superseding the necessity of a spiritual baptism, they give ample testimony, that such baptism is to be considered as a privilege freely offered to the whole multitude of believers.
When christians affirm, that the manifestation of the Spirit is no longer to be sought after, except in that mysterious volume which promises this manifestation to the church; modern Jews might as well declare, that they look for no other manifestation of their Messiah, than that which is to be found in those books of Moses and the Prophets, where the coming of that Messiah is repeatedly promised. But if it be said, the Spirit of Christ was fully given to his first disciples, and that is sufficient for us : this argument has in it as great absurdity, as the following method of reasoning. Moses instructs us, that God created the Sun, and that the patriarchs were happily enlightened by it: but the supreme illumination of that Sun is no longer to be disco. vered, except in the writings of Moses : and those labourers are downright enthusiasts, who imagine they need any other rays from that luminary, except such as are reflected upon them from the book of Genesis. The scripture informs us, that God commanded the earth to produce a variety of fruits and plants for the nourishment of its inhabitants : , covenanung, on his part, 10 send refreshing rains and convenient seasons. But, we do not live, exclaims a rational farmer, in the season of miracles, nor am I enthusiastic enough to expect, that rain shall be sent upon the earth. Mention indeed is made in ar cient history, of the former and the lat
i rain, ; -and the books which speak of ihese fruckiyicgnshowers, and promise a continuance of them
to the latest posterity are undoubtedly authentic : nevertheless, all the rain we can now reasonably ex. pect, must flow from these books alone, and from those speculations, which our reason can make upon the truths they contain. Who will not smile al such a method of reasoning as this?.
In those things, which respect our temporal inte, rests, we are not stupid enough to be deluded by such wretched sophisms, though we frequently de. ceive both ourselves and others, with regard to s;;iritual things, by arguinents no less palpably ab. surd. God, says the orihodox professor, undoubi. edly caused the Sun of righteousness so effectually to shine upon believers, on the day of Pentecost, that they were instantaneously baptized - with the Holy Ghost and with fire." A celestial shower, at that time, refreshed the church : and the mystic vine matured on a sudden, by the direct rays of so glorious a luminary, was assisted 10. produce, intej'. nally, all the graces, and externally, all the fruits, of the Spirit. But some extraordinary phenomena, which accompanied that dazzling Sun and those gracious showers, have long ago disappeared. Nay, that Sun itself is totally eclipsed, with respect to us ; and the book, which bears testimony to the constant influence of that Sun, and the endless duration of those showers, now absolutely stands in the place of both. Ridiculous divinity! And shall they be called enthusiasts, who oppose such absurdities as these? Then fanaticism may be said to consist in making a rational distinction, between the pearl of great price, and the testament that bequeaths it; between that sacred volume in which the Comforter is merely promised, and the actual presence of that Comforter in the heart. To pretend, that we have no longer any need of the Spirit of Christ, because we are in possession of an incomparable book, which declares, that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his :" is not this to destroy, at once, both the letter and Spi.
rit of the Gospel ? And when we see those christians, who profess the utmost respect for revelation, deriding, without fear, the manifestation of that Spirit, by which alone " the love of God” can be “ shed abroad in our hearts :" what judgment can we form of such persons, but that they are disposed to treat the Gospel of our glorified Master, as Judas once treated its persecuted author? whatever air of devotion they may assume, while they salute the exterior of it, their se. cret intention is to betray the very life of the Gospel to derision and infamy. By arguments of this nature it is, that christian ministers are frequently obliged to defend the dispensation of the Spirit, from the outrageous attacks of carnally-minded christians.
But there are times, in which the faithful pastor finds it equaily necessary, to defend this part of his doctrine against high and fanatical professors. In every christian country there are not wanting such as have rendered the dispensation of the Spirit contemptible, by their ridiculous and impious pretensions. }'rotestants have blushed for the prophets of Cevennes, and Catholics for the convulsionaries of Paris. In order successfully to oppose the progress of enthusiasm, he publicly contrasts the two different characters of a presumptuous fanatic, and an enlightened christian, in some such terms as follow. The one extinguishes the torch of reason, that he may have opportunity to display, in its room, the vain flashes of his own pretended inspirations : the other entertains a just respect for reason, following it as the surest guide, so far as it is able to direct him in the search of truth ; and whenever le implores a superior light, it is merely to supply the defects of reason. The one destroys the clear sense of Scripture language, that a way may be made for his own particular manifestations : the other refers everything to the law, and to the Testimony," fully satisfied, that if high pretenders to sanctity « speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in thien." The former flatters himself, that