Slike strani
PDF
ePub

ing as it does, though this cause may not be clearly before it in consciousness. But it may further be asked, Will they be found among the saved, or will some also be among the lost? We are disposed to believe that the common sentiment of enlightened and humane hearts, that they will be saved, is correct. Their salvation, however, is by no means due to their complete innocence. They, as well as others, are all by nature involved in the corruption of the race to which they belong. But the corruption, or disposition to evil in them, not having been strengthened or confirmed by the evil influence of their environment, and the evil determinations of their own will, is such as may be overcome by the presence of the good, which is able to draw them in virtue of its superior power. That true goodness does attract them is clearly implied in such sayings as these which are the common property of mankind : "Whom the gods love die early," “ Children are always disposed to go to the good rather than to the bad,” “ It is a good sign when children are fond of any one”; and in the words of our Lord: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” When, therefore, infants die, and are confronted, as they necessarily must be, by those who are in the spirit-world, there is every reason to believe that they are attracted not by the evil spirits, but by the good, who accordingly take them to their own place, and that in this way they, as well as all others in heathen lands who have in any way been drawn toward the good, are, as it were, regenerated by being delivered at death from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, where they will be trained and fitted for everlasting glory. The early death of infants is not, however, for this reason to be accounted any special gain to them. For though they are saved, yet there are valid grounds for believing that they will forever be comparatively infants, and on this account occupy a lower position in the eternal world than those who have attained the crown of everlasting life through tribulation and suffering for Christ's sake in the present evil world.

The intermediate state in its relation to salvation is accordingly not a state of beginnings, but of endings. It is not a state in which men are first brought into relation with God, but one in which the relations begun previously are perfectly consummated. It is so to speak the chrysalis state of human existence in which God's chosen ones are transformed from the earthly into the Heavenly, and thus made like unto the glorified Christ.

This view we believe to be in substantial accord with that of all past ages, and to us this is a strong confirmation of its correctness. The true can never be the altogether new.

It must ever have its roots in the beginning of things. In the form in which we have presented this view, we believe, moreover, light is cast upon some of the perplexing points of the subject under consideration. We do not, however, claim to have solved all the difficulties connected with it. Now we see through a glass darkly, and know only in part, and be who imagines that he can solve all mysteries, only shows that he has as yet failed to learn the limitations of his own powers, and is still ignorant of himself,

The view presented, we would yet say in conclusion, leaves to the present life all its importance and solemnity. Now we are determining our future, spinning the threads of life wbich will be the warp and woof of our final destiny. Here we all painting for eternity; and whether the result of our labors will be “a thing of beauty” and “ a joy forever,” worthy a place in the Heavenly mansion, or a miserable daub, fit only to be cast out into outer darkness, depends wholly on how we are using the brush and applying the colors which God has given us in our mental, moral and spiritual endowinents and in the circumstances in which He has placed us. In this life we are sowing what we shall reap after death. « Their works do follow them."

are

V.

SIMON BAR-JONA: THE STONE AND THE ROCK.

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

BY MRS. T. C. PORTER.

CHAPTER II.- Concluded.

A PECULIAR STONE.

“ Flesli and blood hath not revealed it unto thee."-St. Matt. xvi, 17.

SECTION V.

The Baptism of John.

That God's life was communicable could not be imagined under the old economy. There it was held, and rightly, to be incommunicable. The error, however, was in supposing it to be so in its nature, whereas it was only so under that dispensation. It could not be given to man sinful, except through man sinless; and to this end had been the simultaneous creation of Jesus and incarnation of the eternal Son. Therefore John, the forerunner, was further ignorant of what that baptizing with the Holy Ghost would really be, which he proclaimed of the Christ, in such strong contrast with his own, by the words: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” The “water” was unto repentance," but unto what was “the Holy Ghost ?" John could not say. It was merely his to declare that another baptizing should take place, and be the special and sole prerogative of the Messiah, but what would be the result of it belonged to the future. He, too, saw " through a glass darkly," * and knew but“ in part.” Another proof that this coming of the Holy Ghost was

* R. V. “In a mirror." I Cor. xiii. 12,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

peculiar, unknown to John and his baptism, lies in the fact that his disciples were re-baptized when they were taken into the Christian church. Many of the Jews, who, on the Day of Pentecost, cried : “Men and brethren, what shall we do?" no doubt owed the distressing conviction that in Jesus of Nazareth they had crucified their Messiah, as much to the awakening Spirit of John's baptism-latent in them, but now thoroughly roused-as to Peter's preaching, and yet all these, the apostle, also moved by the Spirit, “commanded to be baptized” (again with water) in order, as he said, that they might " receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Doubtless, too, among the three thousand converts of that day were many who had received from the disciples of Jesus a baptism of water which had also, like John's, for its object such an awakening of the sinner as would result in "repentance" and faith in Christ as a Saviour when He should thus be publicly declared; and yet all these, too, St. Peter commanded to be rebaptized. And those “twelve certain disciples," or believers, whom St. Paul found at Ephesus, and who had not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost,” though they had been baptized "unto John's baptism," this apostle likewise commanded to be re-baptized. Why? Because not in any of these cases had it been Christian baptism. It had not been "In," or "Into”* (as it really is) “the name of the Father,

“ and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It had not been in the name of the Trinity, as Jesus, after His resurrection, formulated it for the apostles. Though the Baptist was acquainted with the terms "Father," "Son," and "Holy Ghost," they were hardly associated in his mind as a coequal trinity. He could not know this doctrine. It is strictly Christian, and Christ was the first to teach it; for only the incarnate Son could truly reveal the Father and the Spirit, and the revelation was not made before John's death. Neither had his baptism, in any of the instances cited, been in that Name which is equal to all of these, “the Name of the Lord Jesus,” in whom “ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," because as Lord or Jehovah, Jesus, at the time of John's and His own disciples' baptizing, had not yet been revealed nor declared.

* New Test. Comm, and R. V. Matt, xxviii. 19.

Christian baptism cannot be given, through the ministration of men, in any other way than by the visible application of water. It is never knowingly repeated. It brings, in the germ, all that can be developed in man here and hereafter. It will never be superseded by any other, nor discontinued till Christ comes to render it unnecessary, and without it no one can be saved. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man

, be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God." By what, then, is it constituted ? Or, to develop it more fully: What is meant by “the Holy Ghost," which John said the Messiah should " baptize with ?” And what is that " Gift" which St. Peter, the new Baptist, after his convicting sermon at Pentecost, promised to all who would become its subjects, in the words : “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins?” Is not this enough? Is not this enough? Not at all, for he adds:

, "and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.”

SECTION VI.

The Holy Ghost." First, and negatively, by the Holy Ghost of Christian baptism is meant not alone that awakening energy, that convicting and illuminating Spirit of the Old Testament, as He comes bearing life's herald and promise—“light;" light to waken men and show them their sins and their Saviour. That was the office of John's baptism, and still is, since his has been joined to Christ's in the words: “Verily, verily, I say unto

I thee, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God." Nor, since it is He who cometh without observation, is it the Spirit as at Pentecost lle suddenly descended on the apostles and many more believers, "about an hundred and twenty," men and women, old and young, who "were all with one accord in one place,”

« PrejšnjaNaprej »