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Ghost, he hath sent forth this which ye now see, and hear; assuring them, by this testimony, that God hath made that Same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord, and Christ. On hearing this, they were pricked to their heart, and asked what they should do? Peter, unto whom was committed the keys of the kingdom of heaven, now opens the door of faith unto the Jews, (Acts 14. 27.) and tells them to repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost; for the promise is unto you, and to your children, and those who were afar off. By all these facts these signs, and wonders, which had been predicted, and the words of the Apostles, explanatory of them, the gifts of the Holy Ghost which were received by those who believed in Jesus Christ, which was according to his promise, sand those signs shall follow them that believe, &c.” were the character, and authority of Jesus Christ ascertained, and es. tablised, and the truth of all that he said confirmed, both of what was past, is present, and future; and it is by the evidence of these things written, (for they are not to be acted over, that we are to believe, as John says, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and, believing, have life in his name.
The faith of the Gospel is of the operations of God, but not in the way generally believed in our day, or in the way which seems to have been supposed for many centuries past. The operations which are contended for as pre-requisite to faith in this day, are unauthorised by Christ, and the Apostles, and have no place in the Gospel plan. The operations of the Spirit
, which produced faith in the Apostolic day, were addressed to the external senses, and the mind through them, and explained by words--they were supernatural, and miraculous.
The spiritual gifts were never promised to, neither were they ever bestowed upon, or received by, any description of persons after Christ's ascension, except believers; who were made so, not by the internal, secret operations, but such as I before expressed of an external, supernatural, and miraculous kind. These, except on the day of Pentecost, were wrought, at the instance of the Apostles, in the name of Jesus Christ, consisting in healing the sick, raising the
dead, &c. and explained by them in words in proof of their divine commission to preach the Gospel, and to establish the fact that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and Redemer of men, being exalted by the right hand of God, a prince, and a Saviour; and that the efficacy of this salvation was to be - derived by faith in him. In correspondence with Christ's promise, as soon as a person believed by the supernatural testimony of the spirit, the gifts of the spirit were bestowed upon them, in confirmation of the divine truth of the
propositions believed. And these things are written that we may believe, and are the means so ordained of God. This will be my object hereafter to prove.
I must here entreat the christian reader to attend with care to the facts upon which I rely for the support, and establishment of what I have alledged. The proof which I shall adduce is divine, and supernatural, because it will be taken from the declarations, and promises of the Saviour himself, and their literal fulfilment after his ascension. The
present investigation cannot be uninteresting to those who have rejected christianity upon the account of a want of evidence, or from having been told that antecedent operations are necessary. I claim the belief of those propositions which compose the christian religion by the authority of evidence, of divine, supernatural evidence alone, addressed to the mind in intelligible terms.
I have said that the mind is formed with a capacity for acquiring supernatural, and spiritual knowledge, but that, in order to such an acquirement, nothing short of supernatural, and divine revelation can do. This, I must needs think, has been abundantly proven in the Sections of the preceding Chapter.
I now proceed to prove that faith, in the Apostolic day, was produced in the way before asserted, (viz.) by external manifestations in signs, and wonders, and words explanatory; and that the operations of the Spirit, contended for in our day, formed no part of the Gospel plan; and that the operations of the Spirit upon individuals in the form of gifts, and graces, were always subsequent to belief. Those who distinguish the operations of the Spirit, in the Apostolic day, from those which are supposed to exist in our day.in a se+
oret, insensible form, by which regeneration, and faith are produced, call the former miraculous, and the latter special operations. Against this distinction I must here enter my protest, and not only deny the distinction as being untrue in fact, but assert (as it will be one of my objects to prove,) that every instance of true, genuine, christian faith, has been produced by the same means which were employed in the Apostolic day, (that is, by miracles themselves, and precisely those which are recorded in the Bible,) since their ministrations closed. I again repeat it, that every instance of true christian faith, since the Apostolic day, has been produced by the very means which were employed in their day, of which we have the record; and that faith in Jesus Christ never was, never has been, nor will it ever be, by any other than supernatural, and miraculous means; the reason is, that the proposition “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and Saviour of the World,” is supernatural. The evidence, as well as the principles of truth which are supported by it since miracles ceased, and the cannon of scripture closed, are of record; they are, however, as supernatural when in writing, as they were when exhibited in real action, and declared by the immediate inspirations of the Holy Ghost. The divine, and supernatural character of revealed truth, and the evidence by which it supports itself, are just as well pres. served, and as demonstrable, and as well suited for divine, and supernatural instruction, though of record, as in the days of miracles. It was by words that miracles were, at any period of the church, applicable to the establishment of divine truth this arises out of the very nature, and necessity of the human mind. Without words to explain, and apply miracles to the divine purposes for which they were wrought, they could excite no other mental feeling than that of amaze. ment. In the record, the miracles, the supernatural matters of fact are detailed, as are the words which were dictated by the Holy Ghost, who alone knows the things of God, and the designs, and purposes for which they were wrought, by which their divine intention is explained, and applied to the establishment of heavenly truth. These words, in the days of miracles, were the instruments of divine knowledge; by them supernatural ideas were communicated to men's
minds, and sensible miraculous manifestations were made to the senses in order to establish them, or to arrest attention, and render the mind accessible to them. These words are the signs of the same ideas, they were near two thousand years ago, and sustain precisely the same divine character they then did; and the miracles are recorded for the same purpose for which they were first wrought, The word of God, when apprehended as the word of God, by its evidence, as effectually works now in those that believe it as such, as it did in the Thessalonian Church, Thess. 2. 13. In order to this belief, the reader will readily discern the necessity of preserving the word of God, as necessarily, and intrinsically supernatural, and divine; and of excluding entirely the idea of natural religion, which I have endeavQured to show in the preceding Chapter, is an act of logical necessity and also of silencing every other voice under hea.ven in the communication of original ideas upon spiritual subjects, or things not seen, but the voice of God. I will now proceed to the illustration, and proof of what I have stated. I design to stick close to the record, and to admit nothing in the investigation but what is supported by a "thus it is written."
Our blessed Lord, before his crucifixion, and after his resurrection, before his ascension; made inany promises to his disciples relative to his sending the Spirit, the promise of his Father. He also delineated to them the effects which the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, should produce, and the character of his operations, and the purposes they should ansiver? that he would reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they had not believed in him, &c.” He told the disciples that he had many things to say unto them, but by reason that they could not then bear them, he deferred them until the spirit of truth should come, whom, he told them, will guide you unto all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shew it unto you. John 16.
John 16. In another place, as recorded by the same historian, he addresseth his disciples (the twelve who had been with him from the beginning,) in the following man
ner--"Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very work's sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.-And whatsoever
ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name I will do it. If ye love me keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter that he may abide with
for ever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, &c. The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14.
. These were promises made to the twelve disciples. In the close of the 15th chapter of John, when addressing his twelve disciples, he tells them, “But when the comforter (or monitor) is.come whom I will send unto you from my Father; even the spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me; and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” In the seventeenth chapter of the same history which details Christ's prayer to his Father to glorify him, and preserve his disciples in unity, and in truth, he observes, “Neither pray I for these alone, (the twelve) but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one,” &c. In the 16th chapter of Mark, we find the following account: “And he said unto them, (the twelve) go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” In correspondence with these promises, Mark concludes his history, which was written thirty odd years after Christ's