« PreviousContinue »
It will undoubtedly be granted, that this baptism mentioned in the commission must be that baptism of the Spirit, or the baptism of water ; But as the baptisın of water, nor the baptism of the Spirit is not personated in the text : seeing that my opponents take the liberty to suppose that water is intended; let them have their opinion. But let me suppose that the text has a special reference to the baptism of the Spirit, and suppose that my supposition is no more than theirs; but standing on a level, I will submit the decision to the trial of both scripture and reason--and leave the reader to judge for himself.
Some may think it strange indeed that this commission should be taken to mean the baptism of the Spirit: so no doubt the pharisees, and even many of Christ's disciples thought strange when Christ told them, that except they ate of the flesh of the Son of man, and drank his blood, that they could have no life in them. And according to the same mode of reasoning we might disbelieve every part of the commission; and say that it was inconsistent that men should have power to forgive sins. We might say too, that it was impossible that men should raise the dead, and open the eyes of the blind. The reason why we disbelieve that men should perform such miracles is, because no natural man has power so to do. But let me ask my candid reader, if he does not believe that the apostles did perform such miracles ? Answer, yes.
Why then, it must be by the power of God, that they were enabled to do so; and if the minister of God could raise the dead, would it be any more of a miracle if he should by the same help, baptize with the Holy Ghost. It absolutely becomes us to believe in miracles, or we must disbelieve the scriptures of truth; and because it was a miracle that men should baptize with the Spirit, and because men were not able of themselves to do any thing as they had ought; therefore Christ commanded them saying, “ Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalemn until ye be endowed with power from on high.”—Luke, xxiv. 49. Now if this baptism contained in the commission was nothing more than to baptize with water, what need was there that the apostles should confine themselves to the city of Jerusalem to wait for power; whereas as reason teaches us that any man could baptize with the baptism of water.
If it be said that the apostles were to tarry for the power of certain miracles, they might just as well say they tarried for power to baptize with the Holy Spirit, as it is no more of a miracle to do one than the other. If it be said that, that part of the commission which related to miracles was peculiarly given to the disciples; then might I not say that the whole of the commission was given to the disciples, and who would be able to show us any reason, that any part of the commission is now to be continued ? “But,” says
the objector, “how could the apostles baptize with the baptism of the Spirit ? And did not the apostles baptize with water after the commission was given ? If so, why is the argument not clear on our part ?”—That the apostles did baptize with water, after the commission was given, I do not pretend to deny. And after attending to the first question, I shall hold myself bound to show the apostles did not baptize with water in conformity to that charge, given of Christ; but that they acted in that, as they did in many things pertaining to the Jewish law, as they circumcised, observed vows, purified, anointed with oil. &c.
Should I appear upon the part of an oppo nent and say, that the apostles could not work miracles, I should be immediately charged with infidelity; or I should be met by my adversary, with a cloud or scripture testimony to show me, that men are able through God's strengthening them, to do all things. Christ gave power to his disciples, by virtue of that power which he had of his Father, and this power was all power in heaven and in earth. Having charged his disciples not to depart, nor leave the city of Jerusalem, until they had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, he says to them, “as my Father has sent me 80 send I you.” Now if we believe that Christ had power given him of his Father, then we believe, that he had
power to deles
gate the same power to his disciples: so that if he could baptize with the Holy Ghost, then they had power to do the same work; and for a full confirmation that the commission stood in the Spirit and power of God, let us notice the fulfilment thereof. Did not the apostles administer the baptism of the Spirit? Answer, Yes. Peter was imparting the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, when Simon the sorcerer offered him money, that he might possess the same power.-Acts, viii. 18. Again, when the apostle Paul came to Ephesus, he found there twelve disciples, who had only been baptized of John ; Paul says. to them, “have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” "Unto what then, were ye baptized, said Paul ? and they said unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him which should come. after him, that is, on Christ. When the disciples heard this they were baptized by the apostle Panl, who laid his hands upon them, and the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues. (Acts, xix. 2, 3, &c.) We have not only these testimonies to show us that the apostles did baptize with the Holy Spirit, but the scriptures abundantly concur in ascribing like power to the apostles as a virtue which they received through that
commission. It was also by the virtue of the commission that the apostles were able to retain, or remit sins. The witness of this power, we have shown us in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who kept back part of the price of their possession, saying they had brought all
. This offence against Peter as a minister of Christ, was considered nothing less than an offence against heaven ; and to lie to Peter, was to lie to God, and to the Holy Ghost-a crime punishable with immediate death. (Acts, v. 1, 2, &c.) The next proof of this power we witness in the apostle Paul (Acts, xiii. 9.) who being filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on Elymas the sorcerer, and for his obstinacy he was smitten with immediate blindness. Though this commission was outwardly verified by the laying on of hands, raising the dead, killing and making alive, yet it was no more verified in those signs, than it was by the apostle's preaching. For no sooner ihat power (for which they were commanded to wait,) had come upon them, than the virtue of the Holy Ghost was so manifest that thousands witDessed the powerful, and reaching effect of the preaching done by virtue of the commission. Well did Christ say to the disciples, (John, xiv. 12.) “ verily, verily, I say unto you. He that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father." There was more disciples made