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Spirit of God-no outward ceremonies can ever effect it. The dispensation of types and shadows, with its “divers washings" or baptisms, was finished and passed away when our blessed Lord was crucified; and was succeeded by the more glorious dispensation of the gospel, which is spirit and life to the penitent and obedient soul. The Holy Scriptures plainly declare that there is now but one baptism; and that this one baptism saves the soul; “not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but by the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Few of the advocates of water baptism contend that it is necessary to salvation; while the New Testament uniformly represents the baptism of Christ, which is with the Holy Ghost and fire, as effectual in purifying the soul from the defilement of sin, and consequently essential to its salvation.
The forerunner of our Lord testified, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire; whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” These striking figures are a lively representation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who submit to his operations, whereby they are thoroughly refined from the pollution of sin, and the transgressing nature winnowed away, so as to prepare the soul for being gathered into the heavenly garner.
To those who thus yield themselves to this fiery baptism, and follow Christ in the regeneration, the apostle addresses this language; "ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power : in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ ; buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who raised him from the dead."
As many as are thus baptized into Jesus Christ, are baptized into his death; and like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so these also walk in newness of life. They have put on Christ,” and “ become new creatures; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new, and all things of God." This, and this only, is the baptism of the gospel, and this is complete and effectual in itself; without the addition of any outward washing or sprinkling,—which relate to the body only, and can never affect the soul.
Our views respecting the participation of the Lord's supper, are of the same character. supper, at which Jesus gave the bread and wine to his disciples, was abolished, with the rest of the Jewish ceremonies, at his death; and although the disciples, from their attachment to the law of Moses, practised it after that event, as they did circumcision, and abstaining from blood and from things strangled; yet we find nothing in Scripture to warrant the assumption that it is a standing ordinance in Christ's church He himself declares, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you: whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last
day; for my fesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” When his disciples murmured at this doctrine, he told them, “ It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”
We believe that this communion of the body and blood of Christ, without which we cannot have eternal life, is inward and spiritual,--a real participation of his divine nature, through faith in him, and obedience to his Spirit in the heart; by which the inward man is daily nourished and strengthened, and kept alive unto God. This is the true communion of saints, in and with Christ Jesus their Lord, and it is not confined to those who have the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, or of the coming and sufferings and death of the Son of God, as the propitiation for sin; but is graciously granted to every sincere and obedient soul, who is faithful to the degree of light and knowledge with which it is favoured, agreeably to the testimony of our Lord himself; “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, , I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.”
Having thus set forth the views which we as a people have always believed and maintained, in regard to these important doctrines, we think it right renewedly to call the attention of our members to some of those Christian testimonies, into which the Lord was pleased to lead our worthy predecessors, and which it is no less obligatory on us faithfully to uphold at the present day.
Divine worship is the highest and most important duty in which the mind of man can be engaged. It is no less than holding intercourse with the Father of Spirits, and offering the tribute of homage and adoration to “the High and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;" but who condescends also, to “dwell with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit; to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." This solemn act is not dependent upon, or necessarily connected with, any thing which one man can do for another; but must be performed between the soul and its Almighty Creator; for “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Acceptable worship cannot be offered, but through the assistance of the Spirit of Christ; he being our Mediator by whom only we can approach unto God, and from whom we must derive, for this engagement, both “the preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue.” In order to experience this necessary qualification, it is our duty to have the mind withdrawn from all outward objects, and reverently and humbly to wait upon the Lord in the silence of all flesh; that so he may be pleased, through the revelation of his Spirit, to give us a true sense of our needs and a knowledge of his will, and enable us to offer a sacrifice well-pleasing in his sight, whether it be in silent mental adoration; the secret breathing of the soul unto Him; in the public ministry of the gospel, or vocal prayer or thanksgiving. Those who thus wait upon the Lord, and depend upon the assistance of his Spirit, will often be favoured with a broken and contrite heart, a sacrifice which, it is declared, He will not despise-their spiritual strength will be renewed, and they will experience a growth and establishment in the blessed truth. These, however small their number or remote and solitary their situation may be, are the true worshippers whom the Father seeketh to worship him; and to whom the Lord Jesus will fulfil his gracious promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
We tenderly entreat all to be constant in assembling with their brethren on first-days, and other days of the week when meetings for Divine Worship are held, in order to bear a public testimony to our dependence upon the Father of mercies, for the blessings we enjoy, and to experience a renewal of our ability to live in his fear, and to labour in his blessed cause and service. Let us not suffer the improper influence of temporal things, an indifferent or lifeless state of mind, the smallness of the number who meet, or the absence of a vocal ministry, to discourage us from diligently, attending all our religious meetings; remembering that it is our reasonable service to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. Where this is the sincere engagement of those gathered, whether it may please him to authorize any public ministry or not, the great minister of the sanctuary, Christ Jesus, will, in his own time, dispense to the waiting soul, that divine consolation or instruction which He sees to be best for it. Let none then,
weary or ashamed of our ancient and noble testimony to the excellence of silent waiting upon God; it having been found, in the experience of many of his servants, a