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shall supply the latter, except that energetic Spirit which "helpeth our infirmities ?” Rom, viii. 26.
2. These distinctions are founded upon revelation. The volume of truth informs us, that the Creator foretold the coming of a Redeemer; and that the Redeemer, during his outward manifestation, proclaimed the near approach of “another Comforter.” John xiv. 16, 17. It is undoubtedly true, that some earnests of redeeming grace, together with the first fruits of the Spirit, were experienced even by the most ancient inhabitants of the earth. It is true also, that, by means of those earnests and first fruits, many myriads of mankind have been saved in every age of the world. But it is no less true, that the plenitude of these sacred gifts was reserved to a very distant period of time; since, after the first promise of a Redeemer was given, near four thousand years elapsed before he made his public appearance; and while he continued upon earth, it is expressly said, that “the Holy Ghost was not yet given" in its full measure,
“ because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” John vii. 39.
3. Christians are taught to distinguish these different degrees of evangelical grace, and to rejoice in all the advantages of these three dispensations, when they are solemnly baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And this they publicly profess to do, so often as they repeat the three principal articles of the apostles' creed. Happy would it be, if, through the demonstration of that Holy Spirit in which they affect to believe, they were enabled experimentally to confess their almighty Father and his redeeming Son. Every one of them might then thankfully add, I experience the “communion of saints," and "the forgiveness of sins;" I joyfully and confidently expect “the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”
It is presumed that no doctrines can come more strongly recommended to the consideration of professing Christians than those which are undeniably founded upon reason and revelation,-upon that outward form of baptism, and that primitive creed, which are universally received in the Christian world.
The attentive reader will easily perceive, that the difference between these several dispensations is formed by those different degrees in which the Redeemer is manifested among men.
Under gentilism and Judaism, or under the general and particular dispensations of the Father, the Redeemer is both announced and expected: he is announced by the Father's original promise, by tradition, by types, by prophecies; and he is expected as a Saviour who shall, sooner or later, make his
Under the baptism of John, and under that imperfect Christianity which is received by a baptism of water, the Redeemer is apprehended, in some measure, by sense, or by a faith which merely respects the history of the gospel ; but he is apprehended only as a Saviour manifested in the flesh to accomplish the external act of redemption. It is otherwise under that perfect Christianity to which we are introduced by the mysterious baptism of the Spirit, in which the Redeemer is manifested after a manner abundantly more glorious. He is now received as coming in the Spirit, after having died for our sins, and risen again for our justification. Now he performs the spiritual work of redemption in the soul, delivering his people from the power of sin, by communicating to them the special efficacy of his death, his resurrection, and his triumph. Ilenceforth he is a Comforter, not only with but in us,
where he spiritually exercises his acknowledged offices, instructing, purifying, and, finally, subduing all things to himself,
PERSUADED that confusion is the source of a thousand errors, the prudent minister endeavours to place the truths of the gospel in their proper order ; and, reflecting upon those preachers who have formerly proclaimed them, he is enabled to produce something upon their separate testimonies which may serve to edify the different classes of his hearers. Thus St. Paul, when preaching to the Athenians, judged it convenient to cite one of their own poets, rather than Moses ; and thus, in addressing those teachers who leave the gospel in order to set up a vain philosophy,
the true minister may find it necessary to produce the description which Epictetus has given of a real philosopher.
Every dispensation has had its peculiar preachers; and the pastor who is led into all truth is anxious to second these preachers, by publishing, in their proper place, those sacred truths which they have respectively delivered, according to their different proportions of grace.
The preachers under the dispensation of the Father are,
1. The works of creation. The heavens,” saith David, “declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work.” Psalm xix. 1. “That which may be known of God,” adds St. Paul, “is manifest,” even heathen. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” Romans i. 19-21.
2. Providence. “The living God," saith the apostle, 6 who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Acts xiv. 15-17.
3. Those dreadful scourges with which an avenging God is constrained to correct a rebellious world, such as famine, pestilence, war, &c.
4. Reason, which is a ray from that divine Word, that eternal Logos, that“ true light which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world.”
5. Conscience. “For the gentiles," saith St. Paul, 6 which have not the law," written by prophets and apostles, " are a law unto themselves; their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts accusing, or else excusing, one another.” Romans ii. 14, 15.
6. Enoch, Noah, and all the holy patriarchs, who lived before the flood.
7. All those pious persons who have inculcated the fear of God, and published the traditionary promise which was given to our first parents.
8. The prophets and priests among the Jews, together with the sacred poets and true philosophers among the ancient heathens.
9. Those priests who, among Jews, Mahometans, and modern pagans, recommend with sincerity holiness and the fear of God.
And, lastly, all those preachers of Christendom who, blind to the dispensations of the Son and the Spirit, fall back into gentilism, delivering only such moral essays as have been abundantly exceeded by philosophers of old.
As this dispensation has ever had, and still continues to have, its celebrated preachers, so it has frequently had, and may yet continue to have, its confessors and martyrs. If it was possible to come at the history of all those who have been eminently distinguished by their piety under this economy, and who have nobly suffered in the cause of godliness, we might probably discover many an Abel, and many a Zacharias, many an Aristides, and many a Socrates, in every nation under heaven. In company with these amiable and honourable characters the evangelical pastor is constantly observed, so far as they proceed in the highway of truth; but he advances far beyond them, when he would associate with the preachers of the Son's dispensation.
The heralds of truth under this dispensation are,
1. The priest Zacharias, who announced the accomplishment of the promise made to the fathers. Luke i.
2. The angel who first brought down the tidings of the Messiah's birth, attended by a multitude of the heavenly host.
3. Those Jewish priests who directed the Magi from Jerusalem to the city in which Christ was born.
4. Those celestial voices which declared, upon mount Tabor, and on the banks of Jordan, that Jesus Christ was the beloved Son of the Father.
5. John the baptist, who proclaimed Christ come in the flesh, and endeavoured to prepare the penitent for the dispensation of the Spirit.
6. Those seventy disciples who were commissioned by our Lord to preach the gospel.
And, lastly, all those teachers of the present day who, like Apollos, in the beginning of his ministry, perceive nothing beyond that inferior dispensation of which an outward baptism is considered as the seal.
Under the dispensation of the Spirit the preachers are,
1. The apostles, who entered upon their excellent ministry, after being first miraculously endued with power from on high.
2. All those ministers of the gospel who, after receiving into their own hearts “the Spirit of adoption,” Rom. viii. 15, proclaim the coming of that Spirit to those who have already experienced “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts xx. 21. Such ministers alone may be said to proclaim the spiritual kingdom of God; and these alone can experimentally direct believers to the absolute fulfilment of every gospel promise. The teachers of this day, instead of proclaiming the grand promise of Christianity, unhappily renounce that promise, imagining, that it merely respected the first followers of Jesus, or, at most, that it was confined to the earliest ages of the Christian church. Far from publishing the gospel in its abundant plenitude, these unskilful evangelists are not able to preach all that imperfect gospel which in scripture language is called “the baptism of John." Acts xviii. 25. John publicly announced the baptism of the Holy Ghost; and, far from despising such baptism himself, openly declared that he had “need to be baptized of Christ.” Matt. iii. 14. Nevertheless, John was put to death before the promise of the Father was fully accomplished ; and on this account our Lord declared, that the “ least in the kingdom of heaven,” that is, the lowest under the dispensation of the Spirit, should be accounted “greater than he.” Matt. xi. 11. Yea, even the soldiers of Cornelius, after the Spirit had descended