Page images
PDF
EPUB

the contrary, we might indulge a hope, that these proud reasoners would one day be seen, in company with humble believers, approaching the God of their Fathers, through the intercession of the Son, and with the energy of the Holy Spirit; crying out with St. Paul: “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; and through him we have access, by one Spirit, unto the Father."

There is another class of worshippers, who are zealous for the dispensation of the Son, and who, wholly taken up with the word manifested in the flesh,” imagine that his dispensation is rendered contemptible, if it be represented merely as the commencement of christianity, while the perfection of the Gospel is declared to consist in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. To the consideration of such, we would propose the following expression of St. Paul; “ Henceforth, know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet, henceforth know we him no more," after this manner. And though our Lord is acknowledged to have spoken on this wise, « whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life ; and I will raise him up. at the last day : for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”....yet, it must likewise be confessed, that he immediately added, It is the Spirit, that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing."

The following observations, it is hoped, will entirely dissipate the fears of these pious persons. “When the Spirit of truth is come,” saith our Lord, 6, he will guide you into all truth; and especially into those truths, which respect faith toward me, and repentance toward my Father. “He shall glorify me : for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew unto you,” the merits of my righteousness, the efficacy of my death, and the power of my Gospel. « The Father, shall give you another Comforter, whom ye" already 6 know.” in part; “ for he dwelleth with you,” even:

[ocr errors][merged small]

now in my bodily presence: but, hereafter, He “ shall be in you,"when I shall have baptized you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. “ I will not leave you comfortless : I will come unto you. The world seeth me no more ; but ye shall see me,” in the effects of my indwe!ling power: and because I live, ye shall live also. At that, day, ye shall know, that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and 1,” by my spirit, “ in you.” This spiritual abode of Christ in the souls of his people, is the most glorious mystery of the Gospel; and « if any man have not the Spirit of Christ,” he is at best, but a disciple either of Moses, or of John the Baptist: he is not in a spiritual, but in a carnal state.'

“I live: yea not I, but Christ liveth in me. Christ is our life. The mystery, which hath been hid from ages, is Christ in you the hope of glory. My little children, of whom I travail in birth, until Christ be formed in you. These," with a thousand other scrips tural expressions, must be utterly incomprehensible to those, who, resting contented with a literal knowledge of the incarnate word, admit not the internal manifestation of Christ by his spirit of revelation, wisdom, and power. “ The deep things of God are revealed unto us by his Spirit:. and, without this Spirit, we must continue strangers to the most exalted truths of the Gospel and be cut off from the purest springs of religious consolation. « This is he," saith St. John, “ that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ : not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit, that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." As though the Apostle should say ; Christ indeed, in the first part of his ministry, proclaimed that repentance toward God, which his own disciples, as well as John the Baptist, were accustomed to seal with a baptism of water. And to this sacred ceremony he himself condescendingly submitted. But, after this, he pro. ceeded further, when, as à visible Saviour, he sealed his own dispensation of grace with a baptism of blood

upon the cross. Moreover, it is the Spirit, that gives testimony to the unsearchable truths of the Gospel, by his still more excellent baptism : deepening our repentance toward God, and adding a“ full assurance" to our faith in Jesus Christ. Let no one then suspect, that the manifestation of the Spirit must necessarily obscure the glory of the Son ; especially since it is expressly declared,“ that no man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

. Before we close this section, we have to lament, that this important part of the Gospel is rarely published among professing christians. The greater part of the clergy are to be ranked with the most violent opposers of spiritual religion. They insult its followers, they condemn its advocates unheard, and presumptuously “ speak evil of those things which they know not.” As there was a time, in which the Jewish church overlooked the most important promise under the dispen ation of the Father; so it was intimated that a time would come, in which the christian church, sunk into a state of listlessness and incredulity, should neglect the grand promise under the dispensation of the Son. “ When the Son of man cometh," saith our Lord, “ shall he find faith on the earth?” He will find little indeed, if we may either rely upon our own observations, or give credit to the most solemn assertions of a predicting Apostle.

All our ecclesiastics, however, are not of this description. Among the thousands of this sacred order, we find many, who are possessed of godly fear, scriptural faith, and christian charity. These pious evangelists are anxious for the salvation of those committed to their charge. They labour to spread the Kingdom of God among men, though they have never ex. perienced that kingdom according to the fulness of the promise. And though they are unacquainted with the abundant plenitude of the Gospel, yet they cease not to publish that Gospel abroad with affection and zeal. They preach the cross of Christ : but they proclaim not the spiritual coming of a risen Saviour. As their careless brethren refuse to publish the coming of the Spirit; through infidelity and prejudice, so these upright ministers neglect to preach it, through uncertainty and irresolution. If they even entertain a just opinion of the doctrine for which we plead, yet they are restrained from speaking frequently and freely upon the subject, because, as many false christians have rendered the dispensation of the Son contemptible in the eyes of deists ; so many vainly-inspired zealots have caused the dispensation of the Spirit to appear ridiculous before sober-minded christians. But, notwithstanding the reproach, which many fanatics, of various sects, have brought upon this sublime part of the Gospel, by mingling with it the reveries of an heated imagination, yet it will constantly be regarded, by every well-instructed christian, as the quintessence of our holy religion.

There appears little probability, that this neglected doctrine will be either universally received or preached, in our degenerate day. But as truth has never been left entirely destitute of witnesses, and as the generality of ministers have still courage enough to maintain, before an unbelieving world, the dispensation of the Son; we may reasonably hope, that they will continue to mention the dispensation of the Spirit, at least, on every commemoration of the pentecostal glory. By this means we may preserve among us a precious spark of sacred fire, till our returning Lord, bursting through the clouds of incredulity, shall kindle the spark into an everlasting flame. In that day, the idle pretensions of enthusiasts shall no more influence believers to reject the Holy Spirit, than the vain pretension of those false Christs who formerly appeared among the Jews, could influence the faithful to reject their only Lord and Saviour. The dispensation of the Spirit shall then appear as glorious to the eyes of admiring christians, as the dispensation of the Son appeared to ravished Simeon : and every apostolic pas

tor shall conduct his flock from the dispensation of the Father, through that of the Son, to that of the Holy Spirit, in as rapid a manner, as St. Peter is reported to have done in his first discourse.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »