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energies of God's people in every age. Is it right to think and speak more of John the Baptist, than of Jesus the Saviour ? So thought not John himself. “He that cometh after me is preferred before me. I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." Such were the declarations of John. How insignificant, even in his own view, was the office to which he was so successfully and honorably devoted, compared with that of him, whose alone was the office of baptizing with the Holy Ghost ! “ He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Let me then turn your thoughts from John to Jesus—from the peculiar province of one, as a forerunner, a baptizer with water, to that of the other as a baptizer indeed—a purifier, not of the body only, or chiefly, but of the soul. Be this our theme-THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST.
Let us inquire,
What is it?
Is it now attainable?
What are some of its consequences ?
What will secure it?
When may we look for it?
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE BAPTISM OF THE Holy Ghost? The words are plainly figurative. John had been accustomed to baptize with water; as the outward sign of spiritual cleansing. More than this he could not do the heart he could not wash. Jesus could. He could pour upon the heart such a flood of light and love, that the work would be done. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost,” of which this water is an emblem. Not that the Holy Ghostma pure, intelligent, omnipresent Being-can be literally poured out like water ; but that the influences of that Spirit, the blessings of his presence or favor, would be freely communicated by Jesus to the sons of men.
Nor, that these influences of the Spirit would be visible to the eye of mortals : but that the happy subjects of this baptism should thus be purified from sin, and led, in a remarkable manner, to the maintenance of a holy life. It is something more than is common, in the course of nature, of the presence of the Divine Spirit. It is an intercourse established between God and the soul of man-an intimate communion, an abiding, sensible fellowship--so intimate, that they occupy, in the most delightful union, the same dwelling. “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God ?"
Such is the baptism of the Holy Ghost in a single case. When the instances of these baptisms are greatly multiplied, in the same region, and about the same time; when whole masses—as it were, of a community are simultaneously moved as by one all-pervading mind to seek the favor of God-we are accustomed to speak of such an event as a REVIVAL OF RELIGION; that is, an extraordinary baptism of the Holy Ghost. Such an event occurred very shortly after the prediction, which we are now considering. It was principally to these extraordinary baptisms that the Saviour referred, when he said, as in the text, “ Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.” “ The Acts of the Apostles” may justly be regarded as the commentary of the Spirit on this promise of the Saviour
It, therefore, becomes a question of great practical interest,
II. Is TRIS BAPTISM NOW ATTAINABLE ? Have we as much reason to look for such events now, as in the days of Peter and Paul ? Yes, and more. We may not, indeed, expect that the days of miracles will return, that those thus baptized will speak with tongues, and cast out devils, and raise the dead. But we may expect, that men will be baptized, (and not the less for the want of these powers,) in greater number than in any former age of the world.
Let it be remembered, that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the sum of all the blessings, purchased for man by the blood of Jesus. It is the substance and the fulfilment of the promises, both of the Old and New Testaments. It is the subject matter
It is the subject-matter of the ancient prophecies and of the covenant of grace. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.” This, it was foretold, would especially characterize the days of the second covenant. “I will pour out my Spirit unto you." “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground ; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” “Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field.” « And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. In those days will I pour out my Spirit.” As we have already seen, it was this which chiefly attracted the notice of John, as characterizing the time of the Saviour's reign—" the kingdom of heaven." It was of this, principally, that the Redeemer discoursed in his last conference with his disciples, previous to his death. The text is but a repetition of the promise made in that tender and affecting interview.
In short, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the sum and substance of the last will and testament of our Lord Jesus Christ-his grand and abiding legacy to his church. So far was he from confining the visits of this Divine Being to the apostolic age, that he entailed the legacy on every succeeding age to the end of time. the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” It is therefore, with great propriety, that the whole period, intervening between his first and second coming, has been familiarly characterized as the dispensation of the Spirit.
"I will pray
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord," the kingdom of Christ is to be advanced in this world. Wherever, therefore, the cause of the Redeemer progresses, there the Holy Ghost is given. But we are taught that this kingdom is yet to extend “ from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same”-until “ the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord”—until "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold”–until "kings shall be nursing fathers, and their queens nursing mothers” in Zion. We are told that the time is coming, when "all flesh shall come and worship before the Lord;" when " the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him;" when “they shall no more
teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord,' because they shall all know him from the least to the greatest.” The time is yet to come, when there shall be heard “great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
As, therefore, this mighty renovation is to be effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit, we may confidently expect, that, as this period of spiritual glory advances, there will be baptisms of the Holy Ghost, more frequent, more abundant, and far more extensive than in the apostolic age. Yea, that there will be such outpourings of the Spirit in those days, that “the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” What, then, is to prevent our cherishing the hope of such blessings even now?
That you may have a glowing, unquenchable desire for such baptism from on high, consider,
III. WHAT ARE SOME OF ITS CONSEQUENCES ? When the heavens are bowed, and God comes down to earth, when the Divine Spirit enters the human heart, and there sets up his throne, and there holds the most free, tender, endearing intercourse, it can surely be no just cause for surprise, if large, unwonted, overwhelming communications of love, and manifestations of God in the glory of his holiness, are enjoyed by the highly favored subject of this grace. It would be exceedingly strange if it were not so. If the believer is made to possess a joy to which he was before almost a stranger-a joy to which he can find no parallel in his own previous experience
it is by no means marvelous that to others, not thus favored, his bi words should seem as idle tales."
1. First, then, Christians may expect large measures of love and joy. “He that believeth on me,” saith the Saviour, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the SPIRIT, which they that believe on him should receive.” Is this the privilege of every believer ? May every disciple's soul become a living fountain of joy, sending forth its “rivers of living water ?" What, then, may not he expect, who has sought and obtained an extraordinary baptism of the Holy Ghost ? And are not believers exhorted to be filled with the Spirit ? and to be filled with all the fulness of God? The very name by which the Redeemer introduced this Divine Guest is indicative of his work. "I will not leave you comfortless ; I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another COMFORTER.” And not only so, but so much greater blessings were to be communicated to the disciples through this new and abiding companion, that the Redeemer regarded this fact alone as sufficient to warrant his own departure: “It is expedient for you
that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him.” Yea, more than this; inasmuch as they had not yet asked for this Comforter, he tells them, "hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name ; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” And they found it so, when, having sought and waited "for the promise of the Father," they could say, "THE COMFORTER IS COME." What a joy then filled their hearts ?—a “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” In the midst of enemies thirsting for their blood, their peace was like a river-“the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."
But the Apostles have not been the only recipients of these favors. In every subsequent age there have been at least a few followers of the Son of God, who have obtained similar baptisms of the Holy Ghost. Some have left, for our confirmation, a record of what the Lord had done for their souls in these visits of grace. Look, for example, at the case of that eminent lady, Mrs. EDWARDS, wife of the venerable President EDWARDS. Having sought and obtained, in the year 1742, the extraordinary presence of the Holy Spirit, she describes her feelings in the following words : "I cannot find language express how certain the everlasting love of God appearedthe everlasting mountains and hills were but shadows to it. My safety, and happiness, and eternal enjoyment of God's immutable love, seemed as durable and unchangeable as God himself. Melted and overcome by the sweetness of this assurance, I fell into a great flow of tears, and could not forbear weeping aloud. of God was so near, and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of any thing else. I seemed to be taken under the care and charge of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner. The deace and happiness which I hereafter felt was altogether inexpressible. The whole world, with all its enjoyments, and all its troubles,