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which we assign to its ordinary operations? It was an irresistible testimony of God's approbation of what was going on, and as such was immediately recognized by St. Peter: but, while we have the authority of an Apostle for the diversity of the operations of the Spirit, we can see no reason, as there is clearly no necessity, to suppose, that the one interferes with the other, that the extraordinary supersede the necessity, or even neutralize the effect of his ordinary influences. If indeed a spiritual washing away of sin be, as we have contended, one proper grace of Baptism, we can well understand the importance of that rite, even to those who had already received the external testimony of the Holy Ghost. But were we still unable, from any thing that had occurred in our previous inquiry, to assign to Baptism its peculiar and distinguishing graces; we should nevertheless be entitled, from the narrative before us, considered in itself, to assert, that some great benefit was inseparable from, and unattainable without it; since but for this, the anxiety of St. Peter, that these Gentile converts, who had re
ceived the Holy Ghost, should be baptized, would be unexplained and inexplicable.
But, further, we learn from St. Peter's own defence of his conduct on this occasion to his brethren at Jerusalem, that it was this testimony of the gift of the Holy Ghost, conferred upon
the Gentiles, as it had been originally upon the Apostles themselves, that swayed his mind, and convinced him, that the will of God was, that between them and the Gentiles there should no longer be any division. And therefore it seems he baptized them. Why? Why, but because without Baptism a division would still have existed, the Gentiles would not without it have been admitted to the Christian fellowship of the Apostles and believing Jews: Baptism was the sign and the pledge, the occasion and the moment of admission into the Christian society, and to the benefits attending that admission.
These are the principal passages in the Acts of the Apostles, to which, as bearing on the subject of inquiry, the limits prescribed to our undertaking permit me to refer. Some others, did the time allow, might be noticed, as adding a collateral testimony to the conclusions already arrived at, or confirming indirectly some points of doctrine, assumed or insisted upon, in our previous inquiry. But upon these I forbear to dwell. The object of this discourse, and of the selection of texts made in it, has been attained, if, on the one hand, the general expectation of benefits appropriate to Baptism has been strengthened, by the obvious tenor of the passages brought under examination; and if, on the other, our particular conclusions have been confirmed, as we trust they have been, by the distinct and specific assignment, in the cases referred to, of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, as the ordinary concomitants, or immediate result of a participation in the rite. The further prosecution of our inquiry into the language of the New Testament upon the subject must be postponed till next we meet, when I shall proceed to an examination of the apostolical Epistles.
1 Cor. vi. 11.
But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye
are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,
and by the Spirit of our God. THE passages
in the apostolical Epistles which will come under examination in the present Lecture, may, like those we have already considered in the Acts of the Apostles, be distributed into two classes; the one, comprehending those texts from which the annexation of distinct and specific benefits to Christian Baptism may be deduced, and our more particular inferences from the nature of the rite and the words of institution strengthened; the other, comprising those from which the annexation of some benefit to the appointment may be anticipated, and our more general inferences from the character of external observances, both in nature and revelation, confirmed.
The number of passages to be considered, is not however so great, as to make such an actual distribution necessary to facilitate their examination ; nor need any confusion be apprehended from taking them as they occur in each Epistle: though, for the sake of some obvious advantages accruing from an observance of the chronological order of their composition, I shall consider the Epistles of St. Paul in the order assigned to them by bishop Pearson a.
According to this arrangement, the first passage which occurs bearing very directly upon the benefits annexed to Baptism, is that which I have chosen for my text, from the first Epistle to the Corinthians. It is, independently of the interest it derives from its early occurrence, one of the most important in the New Testament. In it St. Paul, while remonstrating with those to whom he is writing, on the perpetration of certain offences, which, if persevered in, will, he says, exclude them from the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven", presses
a In his Annales Paulini.
b 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.