Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


It was a great era in the history our language allows perhaps no of this world, when“ God was man- nearer approximation to the origiifest” in the person of Jesus Christ; nal; though this term no more brings the greatest, we believe, in the his. out the full force of the original, than tory of the universe. That was it would were it used in that

passage the period to which previous gener where John (1 Ep. i, 2) applies ations had been looking forward the same word to Jesus himself. with the eye of faith and eager ex. " If any man sin we have an advopectation, and to which all succeed. cate (paracleton) with the Father, ing generations will look back, as a Jesus Christ the righteous." period “ full of grace and truth.” Were we here to translate the How blessed the eyes which saw word as we do when applied to the what men then saw: an impersona. Holy Spirit, and call Jesus a Com. tion of the mighty God, in the form forter, we should have a shade of and nature of man !-when, point. the original, and that is all we have ing to one of human fashion and in the present case. The word ad feature, they could exclaim with vocate or patron comes perhaps as heart-felt assurance, “ My Lord and near to the original as any single my God!" What an exalted dis- word in our language. The meaning tinction was then enjoyed. The di- of “paracleton” is one called upon, vine Head of the church was visi. i.e. for assistance; one in whom we bly present among his people! can confide, who will make our in

But is the church since the ascen. terests his own, like an advocate sion of the Messiah deserted ? No- or lawyer, and not merely one, as we have another Comforter.” When the word “Comforter” indicates, sorrow filled the hearts of his disci. whose sole office is 10 administer ples, at the prospect of his removal consolation. The plain import then from them, Christ foretold the ado of this great promise is, that the vent of One who should abide with Holy Spirit after the ascension of them forever, whose wisdom should Jesus is to be, not merely what all be their guide, and whose power admit he is—the moving, vital prin. their protection-even the SPIRIT OF ciple of the church, the source of TRUTH. The fulfillment of this prom. her strength and efficiency--but likeise gives us in the place of a visible, wise the fountain-head of authority, an invisible Head.

her Director and Guide.
word "
other," or

Let us now turn to the Acts of the other,” implies, or rather directly Apostles and see whether the promteaches, that this Comforter was ise was fulfilled in the same sense now to take the place of the first, in which it was made. The scene and be to the church henceforth now changes. The clouds have what he had been.

closed upon our incarnate and visWe call him in our English ver- ible Paraclete, and there is ushered in sion“ another Comforter," because “ another," an unseen, mysterious

Agent, equal to the former in pow

er and glory, though he comes in "We acknowledge Christ alone as

different state. The book entitled the Head of his church, and the Holy " The Acts of the Apostles,” may Spirit as his substitute on earth.” (Con. be called the “ Gospel of the Holy fession of Faith of the congregation of Berlin attached to the German Catholic Spirit.” It is the glad tidings" of church, Art. XIII.)

the official advent of our other Para.

The very


[ocr errors]

clete, and a record of his mighty chief priests and fuels, but to a acts among the sons of men. company of shepherds. He grows

In the second chapter, we have a up in Nazareth and Capernaum, in record of the fulfillment of this great the despised province of Galilee, in promise ; an announcement of the the family of a carpenter, and final. official entrance of our other Com. ly calls around him, to assist in layforter into the world. We say, of his ing the foundations of his “everofficial entrance, for none can be un- lasting kingdom,” men unknown to aware that the Holy Spirit was in the 'any extent among the Jews. His world, as was the Son of God, before dress and mode of life are plain and he took his official position in the unostentatious, and the haughty church. The circumstances of his

Jews even

“ hide their faces from advent, though very unlike those him ;" they call him “the carpenwhich attended that of his divine ter's son!” He goes from place to coëqnal, are of a striking and won place, simply “bearing witness 10 derful character, and deserve atten- the truth," and "doing good.” Thus tion. In some respects we find a

he led the human mind one step resemblance, in others a contrast, farther toward the spiritual world. between the states and conditions in But still he comes himself to the which these two Paracletes com- very threshold of the carnal and mence their respective official duties outward world. He comes “ in the as Head of the church. In both cases Aesh," with a material and visible we notice a great advance upon the form.' He meets the mind of man carnal and sensuous notions of the in the world of sense, that he may Jewish mind. When the Son of lift it up to a purer and more spirGod appeared, the Jewish people itual state, and fit it for a higher were called 10 advance a step in and nobler dispensation hereafter. their progress toward heavenly and But lo! he is taken up and a spiritual views. They were told the cloud receives him out of sight. The time drew nigh, nay, then was, days of "the visible” are accomwhen the true worshipers should plished. Nothing now is to be seen worship the Father “in spirit and on earth but what is earthly and huin truth.” Their attention is called man. Divinity has retired from away from their outward and showy the world of sense. A cloud has forms of obedience, to the necessi- closed the portals of heaven. ty of an inward and spiritual service. The third Person of the God. Their carnal notions of the Messiah, head now takes the place of the as one who was to come in pomp and second, and lifts the mind still highpower to deliver them from Roman er in its destined progress. He reoppression, and lift them to a proud veals himself, not on the field of and lofty eminence among the na- outward vision, but in the world of tions of the earth, are met and re

mind. All the visible evidence we buked, and from the minds of some have of his advent is simply the mopartially eradicated. In striking con- mentary appearance of “ tongues of trast with all the glory of their tenfire." In the scheme of things ple service, with their pride, nation which commences with his official al, intellectual, religious ; in open advent, there is little or nothing that rebuke of the haughty Pharisees, appeals to sense.

There is none their true Messiah begins his mortal to whom we can listen with the outexistence in a town that is a little ward ear, and say, as could be said among the thousands of Judah," in the days of Jesus, this is our mas. is born of obscure parentage, and ter's voice. Invisible, intangible, incradled in a manger : his advent is audible, but still truly present is this announced in the night, not to the other Paraclete, to be to the church,


[ocr errors]


as Christ was, a ruler and a guide; and elders there, in the letter which to announce authoritatively the laws they brought back to Antioch we of the church, and to impart to the find an expression which implies members the dispositions which be- the truth we are aiming to establish. come them.

The language of the letter is, (xv, In our progress then toward the 28,) " for it seemed good to the Holy spiritual or heavenly dispensation, we Ghost and to us to lay upon you no are placed in a position one step in greater burden than these necessary advance of that which the church things." Chap. viii, 29—the Holy

. occupied in the days of the Messiah. Spirit here appears as the counsellor We are called up from the world of and director of Philip. - 'Then the sense in which Jesus appeared, to Spirit said unto Philip, go near and a higher state. We are brought join thyself to his chariot.” Chaps. one step nearer to God. Our Para. x, 19, and xi, 12, Peter likewise acts clete is a Spirit. We have the ex- under the same authority. “While alted dignity of living in a dispen. Peter thought on the vision, the sation where the aids of sense are Spirit said unto him, behold three in a great measure laid aside. Our men seek thee." The Spirit bade minds are brought into immediate me go with them nothing doubting.” communion with God, and he is In chap. xvi, 6, 7, we have another unfolding himself to us, in a meas- instance of the exercise of authority ure, as he will in the next or heav- over the apostles by the Holy Spir. enly dispensation.

it. “ Now when they had

gone But let us turn our attention from throughout Phrygia and the region the official advent of our other Para- of Galatia, and were forbidden of clete to some other portions of this the Holy Ghost to preach the word writing, and contemplate the evi- in Asia; after they were come to dence that the supreme authority Mysia they assayed to go into in the church was actually exercised Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered by the Holy Spirit. The most un- them not." There is likewise some. equivocal evidence of this is found thing worthy of notice in the phrase. in chap. xx, 28, where in his address ology in which the sin of Ananias to the elders of the church of Ephe. and Sapphira is spoken of, chap. sus, Paul gives them this significant v, 3. They are said to have “lied exhortation-" Take heed therefore to the Holy Ghost," and to have unto yourselves and to all the flock “tempted the Spirit of the Lord.” orer which the Holy Ghost hath The sin of which they were guilty made you overseers or bishops. was evidently not what is termed These elders then derived their au. the sin against the Holy Ghost." thority from the Holy Spirit. An. There is nothing in its nature, or in other passage equally clear is found the circumstances in which it was in chap. xii, vs. 1, 2, and 4" Now committed to render it unpardonthere were in the church that was able. Why then are they said to at Antioch, certain prophets and have committed this sin against teachers, as Barnabas, &c. As they the Holy Ghost,” but because he ministered to the Lord and fasted, then stood at the head of that Chris. the Holy Ghost said, separate me tian community from which they Barnabas and Saul for the work were withholding a part of their whereunto I have called, while they wished to have the The passage speaks for itself. At credit of giving up the whole ? the time when the dissension arose The conclusion to which we are at Antioch concerning circumcision, thus drawn, that the Holy Spirit ocand Paul and Barnabas went up to cupies the same position in the Jerusalem to consult the apostles church militant which Jesus occuVol. IV.



pied in the days of his flesh, has rently most unpropitious, without the been perverted by fanatics who aids of stratagem or physical force ; have fancied themselves to be guid. in opposition to the power of wealth ed by the direct teachings or inspic and learning, the terrors of the dun. ration of the Holy Spirit. This is geon, the rack, the gibbet, fire and no part of the doctrine. Our other sword; in opposition to the power Comforter laid down in the times of and cunning of the prince of darkthe apostles all the canons for the ness, and the prejudices of Jew and regulation and government of his Gentile ; that it is destined to be enchurch, and gave all the instructions Jarged, till it shall compass the world, which he deemed necessary; and and continued throughout an eternity what he now does to promote her to come, with no other instrumentality order and prosperity, is not by in. than that of THE TRUTH. “Alexspiration, not by imparting new ander, Charlemagne and myself," ideas, but by his operations on the Napoleon is reported to have said in heart, through the influence of truth his last days, “founded empires; before revealed. And it is on this but upon what did we rest the crealast account, chiefly, that it was ex. tion of our genius ? Upon force.” pedient for the church that her " In this war," said he, (alluding to former Comforter should go away, the triumphant progress of Christ's since her "other Comforter," being kingdom,)“ all the kings and poten. a divine Spirit, omnipresent, can tates of the earth were on one side; simultaneously have access to all on the other I see no army, but a minds, conveying to all every need. mysterious force-some men scat. ful impression. Our views have, tered here and there in all parts of

, therefore, no sympathy with the the world, and who have no other dreams and visions of a wild, delir- rallying point than a common faith ious excitement. It was declared in the mysteries of the cross. I by Thomas Munzer, the leader of die before my time, and my body that band of fanatics which arose in will be given back to the earth to the days of Luther, as an excre.

become food for worms. What an scence of the Reformation, that abyss between my deep misery and “ he who hath the Spirit, hath true the eternal kingdom of Christ, faith, although he should never once which is proclaimed, loved, and in all his life see the Holy Scrip. adored, and which is extending over tures.” This is a wild perversion the whole earth !" How does the of the doctrine that our “other glory of the kingdoms “ of this Paraclete" is now in the place of world” turn to shame, contrasted Christ, the acting Head of the church. with the glorious majesty of Christ's His name, "Spirit of Truth," points everlasting kingdom ! us at once to the great instrumental- “ The sword” which our other ity on which he relies for the subju. Paraclete wields in defense of the gation of the world and the disci. church and in the conquest of the pline of the church—10 the kind of world, and by which he preserves sway he exercises and the mode in order and subjection in the church, which he exercises it; and teaches is of no earthly fabric; it does not us an important lesson respecting glitter on the field of outward vision; the part we have to perform, if we it flashes out before the mind, "quick would coöperate with him in the con- and powerful, laying open the quest of the world. It is the glory of thoughts and intents of the heart”— that kingdom of which he is the Head, “the word of God.” He as well that it has been established, defend. as our former Paraclete is the King ed and enlarged to the present time, of Truth, and all that are of the in the face of circumstances appa. Truth hear his voice. He addresses himself to that inner citadel, into that the wall of China has at length, which none of the kings and war. in the providence of God, been Fiors of earth could ever carry their scaled ? Is it not a highway for authority. He brings down the heart himself, his ambassadors, bis Gos. of man before the majesty of Truth pel,which God is opening in various and makes him a willing captive. directions through this great moral

We can foresee a vast accession desert we inhabit ? of strength and energy to the In consequence of these vast pre. church, when she shall once wake parations, toward which the provie up to a clear and vigorous concep- dence of God has been tending for tion of this great fact. We have the last two thousand years, in conreached a new and critical era in sequence of the facilities here en. the experience of the Christian joyed for extending the empire church. " The night” which has of truth over the heathen world, so long brooded over the great and the demand actually made upon body of earth's population is, we us for the knowledge of God and believe, “ far spent-the day is at of his son Jesus Christ, there de. hand." We already discern a few, volves on the church of the present who in anticipation of the dawn, day, a necessity for action, for pa. are awake and to be seen moving in tient endurance, for self-sacrifice and different portions of the wide "field" self.denial, which she is yet imper. before us. Here and there in the fectly prepared to meet. If day is midst of the darkness, at various soon to break upon the slumbering points—in Africa, in Asia, even in millions of our race, she must first China itself, in many islands of the awake, must soon awake, and clothe sea—you notice a flickering light herself in the panoply of light. which indicates the abode of the She must be endowed with a life missionaries of Jesus; which tells and power, a faith and energy of us that some are aroused and purpose, far in advance of her pres. "about their Faiher's business.” ent attainments. The cause of mis. A highway among the nations of sions must cease to be regarded as the earth, before almost inaccessible a thing distinct from religion itself. to one another, has been opened by Christians must no longer feel that the hand of God even in our day in aiding this cause they are doing before our eyes. Almost in a lite. something more than is essential 10 ral sense have we seen the valleys an exhibition of vital piety. The filled, the mountains and hills church must unlock her coffers, and brought low, crooked things made scatter her hoarded wealth. Her straight, and the rough places converts must in making, that sur. smooth ; a highway in ihe desert render to Christ which the Gospel made straight for our God. Yes, demands, consider not only Weir for our God. Who can believe property, but themselves as no lona that it is merely for the purposes of ger their own but Christ's ; to go commerce? or the extension of the at his bidding and do what he will. arts and sciences, or any other They must like Saul of Tarsus, merely worldly purpose, ihat the throw themselves at the feet of Je . ends of the earth are now being sus and inquire—Lord what wilt brought together ; that "many are thou have us to do?' runniog to and fro," and that mutu. That this spirit may prevail, and al knowledge is so rapidly increas. the reign of Christ on earth be fully ing at the present day among the established, it is needful that the nations of the earth? Is it for church should have unwavering commerce only? is it to glorify the faith in her leader-the ALMIGHTY power and prowess of British arms, Spirit, who " when the enemy

« PreviousContinue »