Slike strani

promise, for now was fulfilled to them the words that they should be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days. hence," and by this coming of His "be endued with power from on high."

To the disciples and brethren on whom the gift of tongues descended, likewise accompanied with fire, it was also "a sign of gifts of utterance," " of knowledge and spiritual insight," that they should be taught when, and what, and how to speak, and no doubt, too, of great zeal and fervor in the cause of the Lord. But this gift, unaccompanied with fire, and descending after Pentecost, in the presence of Peter and the brethren, on the Gentiles with Cornelius at their head as representatives of the heathen nations, was only to show and convince the former that the Gentiles were fellow-heirs with the Jews of salvation; and typical perhaps of the like destiny of the Romans to carry, later, the gospel to remoter heathen. To the Gentiles themselves it was a token of admission from God, the Saviour, to the privileges of His gospel; a fulfilment of His promise, "I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest to them that asked not after me." To the Jews, it was a sign that the Gentiles could be saved by baptism without first becoming members of the covenant of circumcision was an intimation that they must receive baptism, not that they had it already (invisibly), nor its benefits without it; and as such the brethren understood it, and St. Peter, irresistibly led, "commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the Lord." Had those extraordinary manifestations, miracles included, been the result of that wonderful Gift of the Holy Ghost which was to distinguish the Christian above the Jewish and all other religions, they would have continued to this day in the church and marked every one of its members. That they do not, proves they were only for a temporary purpose, and destined to depart as suddenly as they came. That purpose served, like all lesser gifts, "they failed." They were a sign that their subjects could be regenerated, not a seal that they were,; and if not followed by the visible baptism of

water when the opportunity offered, these would, after their withdrawal, have fallen back to their former state, for Peter had been sent equally to instruct and to baptize.

What then, positively, is meant here by "the Holy Ghost," and what is that greatest "gift" of His which comes with Christian baptism in the Name of the Trinity, (as this was then implied "in the Name of the Lord," or, "of the Lord Jesus," or, as it is in some of the older copies, "of the Lord Jesus Christ"), and both of which, Spirit and gift,“abide” in the ordinances of His church forever, and were prompted by God's "love," and love alone?


The Holy Ghost and His Gift.

By the former is meant here, more particularly, the Spirit of God, as, under the new dispensation, He proceeds from the Father and the Son, as the latter is incarnate in the Messiah. Both the Father and the Spirit, though not incarnate like the Son, are ever one with Him because of their indivisible and essential unity. Therefore, in Christ is said to dwell "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." As the Spirit is thus one with, and inseparable from Jesus Christ and the LORD incarnate in Him, He enters the believer. Hence the Scriptures say at times that "Christ" is in the Christian; and at others, "the Spirit of Christ;" and at others, "the Holy Ghost." Under the old dispensation, the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son as the latter was unincarnate. Under the new, He proceeds from them as the Son is incarnate. Under the old, His work was the natural and supernatural creation of unfallen man, out of matter already made by God. Under the new, it is the sinless re-creation or re-generation, or re-newing, or restoring of fallen man: and in all these acts He is, in new and old, spoken of as the Breath of God. "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." "And He breathed

on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

Moreover, under the new, He is represented to be what He never was under the old, the Giver of the life of God. Man, in the beginning, was made by the Spirit of God as He is the giver of breath, or created and mortal human life, in order that -should he stand-he might be generated by the Spirit as He is also the giver of uncreated and immortal human life. But man fell; and to save him from further calamity, and restore him to his original position of sinless mortality, and so give him another trial, the work of his creation had to be done over. This re-creation or re-newing takes place under the new dispensation. It is the first act in the history of its subjects, and hence the birth of Jesus, the second Father of man, is its first record, though He was really born (and consequently His people are) under the old dispensation, as it and the succeeding interlap each other and cannot be divided. The New Testament is as much a history of the generations of God's life, as the Genesis of the Old is a history of the creations of His breath. However, the new covenant is further marked above the old by an immeasurable advance. The life of God, which, under the old, was to be given to man. at the end of his probation, should it prove successful, is, under the new, given to him at the beginning of his second trial; for man had now not only to stand, but to be recovered from a deadly fall. His re-creation by God's breath, and generation by His life, is one act; though in man the life is only latent under the breath, and represented mortal as it, because dependent on it for its preservation and development. The Jews "slew Jesus of Nazareth," but at the same time they "killed the Prince of Life," " and crucified the Lord of Glory." And the Spirit under this form, or thus proceeding from the Father and the Son, and also through the Son as the latter is incarnate in the created Messiah, enters into the subject of regeneration, and enables him to recognize the Christ as perfect man and perfect God in one person, sinless and holy by

nature, and himself as sinful, undone and lost forever. Further, at this crisis He reveals the former to be a perfect Saviour, Mediator and Redeemer; and then if the subject cherishes Him and His work, his own sanctification is gradually and finally achieved, and with it the complete redemption of all that he lost, potentially as well as actually, by the fall of Adam, his first representative and father.

But pre-eminently, the Holy Ghost of Christian baptism is the Spirit of God as coming not only from, but through and with man's Redeemer, He is characterized by all the acts of the latter's life, chiefly His birth, death, resurrection, ascension and glorification. This peculiar marking, belonging both to Christ and the Spirit, it is evident could only begin with the Messiah's conception and incarnation. Hence St. John, speaking "of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive" (in the future, at Pentecost), says, "for the Holy Ghost was not yet" ("given" is interpolated), "because that Jesus was not yet glorified." In other words, the living mould through which He was to come to men was then only in process, and would not be perfected till Jesus was glorified and the historical Christ so far completed. And, therefore, the Holy Ghost, at the time St. John speaks of, was not only "not yet given," but He really was "not yet," or after this perfect manner prepared for men. How then could the Baptist know this form of the Holy Ghost, or even the disciples who sat at Jesus' feet know it, or Jesus Himself be able to give it, except in part? As little as men could be generated of the last Adam before He was in existence, and of the eternal Son before He was incarnate! All the remaining acts of the Messiah's life were to be passed through, and His seat taken at the right hand of power, before the Spirit, who should "not speak of Himself," could be sent into their hearts to take of the things of Christ and show them unto them, and guide them into all truth." This characterization of Him, or of the life which He was to bring, makes Him the very Spirit of Christ, so inseparable from Christ, that they are

[ocr errors]

spoken of as identical-" the Lord is that Spirit"—and yet they must not be confounded.

Indeed, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost" (according to the baptismal formula) are all represented as coming to and dwelling in the believer. "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," showing that the whole Trinity, by reason of their inseparableness, enters man for the complete redemption of his being, as he was made in the image of God as He is One Being as well as Three Persons or "subsistences." This unity or oneness of man may be his single and undying self-consciousness (called likewise his SOUL OF SPIRIT), out of which one living breath or principle probably spring the three living breaths or principles, each, of his "spirit, and soul, and body," and into which, perhaps, at death they retire, and he returns "naked" to his Maker; for the LORD God, or Jehovah God, is also and always the One and only "living" or self-conscious or personal God. Hence man's regeneration takes place, whether he knows it or not, in the very centre of his being, his self-consciousness, that which constitutes his one single personality.*

The Holy Ghost, then, of Christian baptism, who is always present with the Lord, is Himself a gift, purchased for man by his Redeemer at the cost of all that He endured from His coming to earth till His return to heaven. But the surpassing Gift which He, who is "the Lord and Giver of life," must needs bring to man, coming so inseparable from the incarnate Son, is the whole human † life, created and uncreated, of Jesus Christ the LORD. Christ's LIFE, therefore, is that peculiar

• "Personality is constituted by self-consciousness." Nevin's "Mystical Presence," note on page 169,

"Christ is personally present always in the church. This, of course, in the power of his divine nature. But his divine nature is, at the same time, human" [this word is Italicized in the original], "in the fullest sense; and wherever his presence is revealed in the church in a real way, it includes his person necessarily under the one aspect as well as under the other."-Nevin's " Mystical Presence," P. 174.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »