Page images

doctrine taught in the place; when an adult, it is, of course, a confession of the faith of the party thus act. ing.

It is worthy of observation, that Christ says, teach all nations, or make disciples, or Christians, of them. Now, how is this to be done but by teaching, or preaching to them the Gospel, the glad tidings of great joy ; by showing to them the need of a Saviour, and the all. sufficiency of that Saviour whom God hath provided ? Is it not the duty of every one who presents a child, to labour with all diligence to bring up that child, and feed it with the nourishment which the word of God provides; and to admonish, with all patience and fidelity, of the evil of transgression, and to show, that while God is in. deed the Saviour, yet as the moral governor of the uni. verse, he will not suffer his laws to be broken with im. punity ; that he hath made the way of the transgress. ors hard ? (Prov. xiii. 15.)

John had promised that Jesus Christ would baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Mat. iii. 11.) This is the baptism that is essential to our happiness. In what way hath Christ fulfilled this promise? We answer, by the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles were all, with one accord, in one place : and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rush. ing mighty 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 ut. terance. (Acts ii. 1-4.) Here it may be asked, what interest have we in this, for the age of miracles bath

long since passed away? We answer; the evidence we have of the performance of the miracle, being sufficient, is as good to us for the fact, as if we had been present. And again ; are not the Scriptures of the New Testament written under the influence of the Di. vine Spirit, or Holy Ghost ? and these being faithfully' handed down to us, therefore, wherever, and to whomsoever the sacred book is sent, in all ages, and to all the world, the Holy Ghost yet teacheth; and to those who listen and believe is the enjoyment of the holy flame of love, of love to God, as the Saviour and Sanctifier of man ; and love to man' as the redeemed of the Lord. Our faith and our felicity arise from our receiving the testimony of the Holy Ghost, as thus handed down to us through the apostles.

But is this baptism? It is; for if baptism be cleansing, or immersion, or both, then is it the baptism of the Spi. rit; for who can read, understand, and believe, the efficacy of the atonement, and not feel the influence of that blood which cleanseth from all sin ?

Who can see the Son of God suffer for him, and not loathe himself as a sinner, and love the Redeemer as his Saviour ?

And is not the natural influence of this feeling a tendency to moral cleansing ? and though while in the flesh he cannot hope for perfection of righteousness in himself, yet he looks to Christ as his righteousness.

Thus is he baptized or cleansed, in the way of God's appointment; and if baptism be immersion, what then are we to understand by the term ? Cannot a man be im. mersed in any thing but water? Is not a man immersed in that which is the chief pursuit of his life, and which

he desires above all other things ? When a man is ab. sorbed in business or in pleasure, in hatred or in love, do we not say he is so immersed in these, he is swallowed up in them? And when we find a man so taken up with the study of the principles and practice of that * which the Holy Ghost teacheth that all worldly interests are as nothing in comparison, is it any improper mode of expression for us to say, he is immersed in the things of the Spirit of God? Is this, or is it not, the baptism of the Holy Ghost? We think it is. We do not say, that there is any miracle in it, but that it is the natural effect of humbly listening to the divine teaching which God hath placed before us.

Was not Paul absorbed by, or immersed in, the Spirit, when he said, I deter. mined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified ? (1 Cor. ii. 2.)

Believe me, my friends, we are unwise if we do not make religion the great business of life ; if we do not consider fortune, fame, power, with all else that the world calls great and good, as of no value in compari. son ; and in truth they are not, for what enjoyment in this life can equal the peace of God, which passeth all understanding ? (Phil. iv. 7.) and beside this, the Assurance of the understanding, that we shall have a perpetuity of bliss in the world to come. The world has nothing that will compare with these ; nay, all things in the world are less than nothing, and vanity, beside them. The true Christian is the most happy man in the world ; nay, he is the only happy man in the world ; - for all the pleasures of life, whether inno. cent or vicious, end with life, but the pleasures of reli. gion last to eternity.

We are now to consider the close of our text, name. ly, the consequences of receiving the Gospel, or reject. ing it ; for the salvation consequent upon believing, is no part of the thing to be believed ; and surely the con. demnation can never be any part of good news. And first let us consider the effect of believing this good news. Perhaps we would do well to inquire what was the mental and moral state of the world in the day of the apostles, and by comparison with the effect of faith on the believer, see the salvation of faith. The apostle to the Gentiles tells they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ; and even as they did not like to re. tain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. (Rom. i. 21, 22. 28.) Nor does the Jew appear to be any better ; for he tells us of them, that through them the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles. (Rom. ii. 24.) And speaking of both Jew and Gentile, he says, what then? are we bet. ter than they? No, in no wise ; for we have before proved, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin : as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one ; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; they are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Rom. iii. 9—12.) And when writing to the church of Ephesus, and speaking of their state previous to their conversion, he says, that at that time they were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. (Eph. ii. 12.)

How terrible is this description of the world, as it then was! How miserable must it then have been !

It was necessary that we should thus see the true state of man, and the necessity there was, and is, for a Saviour ; and let us ever bear in mind, that the same cause will produce the same effect. And now, without entering into the subject of the civil and religious ad. vantages conferred on the world by the spreading of Christianity among the nations of the earth, let us ask ourselves, are not we, also, at least in some degrée, guilty of the transgressions of former days?

(We hope to close our subject at our next meeting.)

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »