Imatges de pÓgina
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sentP; and which should carry to those also, to whom they were to preach, the evidence that God was with them. Nor did they do

Yet it is observable, that one very important act they in the mean time did, which we cannot suppose to have been done without the concurrence of that Spirit, who was promised to be their guide into all truth. I allude to the nomination of a successor to Judas Iscariot; in which, upon any interpretation of the gift of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, which would suppose that till then the Apostles were without his assistance and direction, they would appear to have acted in defiance of their Lord's instructions: but in which, according to the view now suggested, there will be no real anomaly.

The visible demonstration of the Spirit, in its first exhibition on the day of Pentecost, corresponded to its subsequent manifestations. It was in every case an external evidence vouchsafed to the new converts, or to those in whose presence it took place.

P John xx. 21.

That evidence

may not always have been afforded for the same purposes, nay it clearly was not so. In the case of its descent upon the Apostles themselves, it was to them the seal of their apostleship; the signal from on high, which they had previously been instructed to look for, that from that time they were to enter on the execution of their office: and so they received it. Peter immediately, and then for the first time, preaching Christ Jesus to the assembled multitude. To the assembled multitude it was, what they had so often asked from the blessed Jesus himself, a sign from heaven 9 of the Almighty's favour and presence with the apostles. In the case of Cornelius, upon which I shall say more presently, it was to Peter, when combined with the revelation already made to him, in the vision of clean and unclean meats, a sign and conclusive evidence, that the Gentiles also were to be admitted to the covenanted mercies of the Gospel. In the case of the Samaritan converts, and of others, who after Baptism re

q Luke xi. 16.

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ceived a visible manifestation of the Spirit, at the prayer and with the imposition of the hands of the Apostles; it would seem, that more than one important purpose was answered, and each, wholly independent of that gracious and ordinary gift of the Spirit, which we claim for Baptism itself.

It was for instance of the highest importance to the new converts to be assured, that those who had hitherto preached to them, (the fugitives from the persecution carrying on at Jerusalem,) were not insulated teachers, but indeed the members of an extended community, under the rule and guidance of persons, yet more highly favoured of God, than those from whom they had already received their admission to the church; and that they also should have that external and sensible confirmation of the divine commission of the Apostles, which, they had probably been already taught, had been afforded to the first converts on the day of Pentecost. It was a confirmation to them of the

promises made, and the doctrines promulgated to them by their first teachers.

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It was further probably of the highest importance towards the maintenance of a due subordination in the church itself, that its superior rulers should be able, in its early establishment, and that with visible demonstration of God's agency by them, to effect that for the converts, which the inferior teachers could not pretend to. And a tendency to similar, though we pretend not to equal effects, may be observed in the apostolic rite of confirmation, as it is still administered in the church.

Now with these views of the purposes, for which the visible and extraordinary effusion of the Spirit was vouchsafed to the primitive Christians, the annexation of the ordinary gift to Baptism in no way interferes: and the gift of the Spirit spoken of in the text, being manifestly that visible and extraordinary effusion peculiar to the apostolic times and apparently vouchsafed in the presence of the Apostles only, we cannot conclude, that, because in their absence the Holy Ghost had not been thus given, the converts had not received his gracious and ordinary influence in Baptism,

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according to the promises in other passages annexed to the rite.

Were it the object of the present course to take a full view of the doctrine of the sacraments, the baptism of the eunuch by Philip would next present some important topics of discussion. But the necessity of compression forbids my doing more than to notice the valuable testimony borne in it to water Baptism; and the confirmation it affords us of the fact, that no inference, in opposition to doctrines established upon other grounds, can safely be drawn from omissions on the record, in 'any particular instance, of particular points however apparently important. For if so, then was repentance not required of the eunuch, for it certainly is not mentioned. But it is undoubtedly implied, in the very act of acceptance of the new religion: nor was it possible for the eunuch to come to Baptism without that conviction of the truth, however produced, which in itself must include repentance, in its only applicable: sense; when spoken of as an universal qualification for admission to the Christian church. The

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