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baptism, as is evident from the following passage; "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received. the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands, the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost."* Here, not baptism but the imposition of hands was the outward sign; not at the time of baptism, but at some future period. Had the Holy Ghost been imparted by baptism, as a matter of course, Simon would not have been destitute of the heavenly gift.

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§ 20. But his Lordship supposes, that it is the office of baptism to impart the Holy Ghost to those who shall previously have repented and 'believed.' Here we might ask, did any ever believe and repent without the influence of the Holy Ghost? Is not the spirit of faith and

* Acts viii. i4—19.

repentance a heavenly gift? Do not all true penitents and believers readily ascribe this to the Father of lights, and the exalted Lord and Saviour? Does not supplication to God for the spirit of love, of repentance and faith, for unbaptized persons imply the same? Is not this communication of the Holy Spirit's influence different from his miraculous effusion, designed for different purposes, and attended with different effects? and was not that which was extraordinary given in a manner, and at different intervals of time, sufficient to prove that it was not the office of baptism to impart it? It is well worthy of consideration, whether to pray for the same kind of operation now, as what followed the apostolic laying on of hands, be not as much chargeable with presumption and enthusiasm, as to pray for the gift of tongues, or for power to raise the dead.

§ 21. His Lordship, when explaining the meaning of John the Baptist, asserts, that baptism administered by the apostles and their successors, • should convey the supernatural 'assistance of the Spirit of God.' If this, however, was the only use of baptism, it ought to have been discontinued from the time of the apostles, or at least of their immediate successors, when similar effects no longer followed. How much more worthy of the sacred oracles is the


other interpretation, viz. That the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was itself a kind of baptism, an initiation into the mysteries of Christ's spiritual reign, rather than a mystical effect of water baptism? That the word baptism was sometimes used figuratively by Christ and his apostles, as well as by John the Baptist, is evident. When our Lord was about to be initiated into his last sufferings, he says, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?"*" Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?--Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with." Here evidently the "cup" denotes deep sorrow; and

baptism" a being devoted to, set apart for, or initiated into that state in which he exclaimed,

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My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." St. Paul says, that the Israelites were baptized into Moses, when he clearly means initiated into his dispensation: and Saint Peter calls a sincere confession of the Christian faith baptism. Noah and his family, by entering into. the ark, were initiated into a new dispensation, and persons entering into the Christian church professed the same; and when their answer

Luke xii. 5. + Matt. xx. 22, 23.

Ib. xxvi. 38.

proceeded from "a good conscience," purified by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, it was connected with salvation:* the apostle expressly declares that by baptism he meant, "The answer of a good conscience towards God." If, therefore, the word was thus used figuratively by Christ and his apostles, why must John the Baptist, as above quoted, speaking of Christ baptizing with the Holy Ghost, be debarred from the figurative use of it; especially when the literal sense, expressing water baptism, is encumbered with so many and such insuperable difficulties.

§ 22. It must be allowed by every wellinformed and dispassionate person, that many who have succeeded the apostles officially, were contemptible moral characters. Be that as it may, to suppose that a penitent believer has not the Spirit of God imparted to him until he has been baptized, but has this blessing after, if but administered in due form by a successor of the apostles, (even though resembling Simon Magus in the temper of his mind,) is the direct way to a contempt of the religion that professes it, and to promote the cause of infidelity. That the unworthiness of the minister does not disannul the real design of a divinely instituted

* 1 Pet. iii. 22.

ordinance, is fully admitted. The objection lies against the pretended design or office of baptism. Baptism itself, however unworthy the minister, we maintain, exhibits, in a very signicant manner, our need of moral purity, the mercy of God by Jesus Christ in making provision for it according to the gospel,—and our obligations to renounce every thing inconsistent with Christianity. The notion of a divinely instituted rite conferring grace er opere operato, or as a condition sine qua non, or by any appointed inseparable connection of the sign and the thing signified, ought to be buried in oblivion, with other Jewish and Popish prejudices, lest the holy ordinances of God be exposed to contempt. If we would defend the gospel against unbelievers, or confirm the faith of Christians, let us not insult their understanding; but shew that its doctrines and institutions are not unreasonable, however inadequate the principles of reason were to discover them a priori.

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§ 23. Every Christian must possess the 'invaluable blessing of preventing grace.' This we cannot allow, unless by Christian' be meant, one who bears the moral image of Christ, as distinguished from one who is merely baptized. To suppose that the communication of the invaluable blessing of grace is made ' at

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