Imatges de pÓgina
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ples of the religion of the Gospel, the office of the holy Spirit alone, if the effect be pro duced, the presence of the Spirit, as its proper agent, seems to be undeniable. And when we reflect upon the familiar use of water in other parts of Scripture, to signify and figure the Spirit and its operations', we are hence led to acknowledge an additional propriety in the selection of the rite, in its aptitude, not only to represent the benefit conveyed, but to typify the mode of effect

ing it.

With respect again to our restoration, in Baptism, to the title to eternal life forfeited by the transgression of our first parents, we may observe, that the pardon of the guilt

, and the removal of the stain of sin, being in effect the blotting out and effacing of the sole cause of enmity between man and his Maker, reconciliation to God, and a readmission to our original title to immortality, are the natural and necessary consequences of that pardon and removal. Without indeed the assurance of that eternal life

e See Mede, Disc. XVII. on Tit. iii. 5. p. 62. Works, edit. 1672.

so expressly characterized as the gift of God through Jesus Christ', redemption itself, though it might free us from the dark cloud of apprehension which overhung the prospect of futurity in a state of nature, would have been little entitled to the rapturous acknowledgments, with which the fulfilment of its prophetic annunciation in the Old Testament was justly hailed by the inspired promulgators of the New.

As completing the pardon of sin itself, and supplying a deficiency, which, had it really existed, would have rendered that first act of divine mercy ineffectual (so far as man himself is concerned) to its highest and noblest purposes, the restoration of our title to eternal life claims a place by the side of the pardon of sin, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, among the primary and positive benefits annexed to a participation in the ordinance of Baptism : and the three things deserve to be jointly considered, as the first-fruits of that reconciliation to God, which, having been achieved for his church in the sacrifice of Christ, is applied to the members of his mystic body, through the medium of the rite, by which they are first made partakers in the holy relationship, established between the members and the head.

f Romans vi. 23.

The proper proof indeed of the two latter inferences will be found in a subsequent

on of our inquiry. It is not on indirect arguments alone, that any doctrine of real importance to the investigation undertaken in these Lectures will be suffered ultimately to rest. Yet the notice of them even here may not be without its use. The harmony of doctrine arising from the mutual connection and dependance on each other of the several parts of revelation, is not merely a gratifying topic of Christian meditation, but is the test to which we involuntarily, and almost unconsciously, subject the justice and propriety of the particular conclusions by which it is illustrated The same feeling that induces us to look with diffidence on any. interpretations of Scripture or elucidations of its doctrine, which stand at first sight opposed, either

to the analogy of faith, or the general tenor of the sacred writings, disposes us, on the other hand, to receive with confidence the results of our particular investigations, when found in coincidence with what is already established. In tracing therefore from time to time, though with brevity, the various ramifications of the system, and pointing out, as we go on, how one doctrine branches out of, or is connected with, another, we are in fact preparing the way for the reception, if not for the proof, of our positions. That proof, so far as respects the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the restoration of our title to eternal life in Baptism, will, I trust, be abundantly supplied, as we proceed in our examination of the more direct testimony of Scripture upon the subject before us. But the prosecution of this must be deferred, till we again meet; when the passages in the Acts of the Apostles, in which the benefits resulting from the administration of Baptism are mentioned or alluded to, will be brought under consideration.

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