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mg between the gifts of the Spirit which were conferred on believers then, in consequence of believing, and by the imposition of the hands of the Apostles; and the effects of behieving since. A comparison between the operations of the Spirit, in the first ages of christianity, in the believer, and those which were employed in the signs, and wonders, wrought by the Apostles; in order to belief; and the suppo. sed operations of our day, would exhibit a strange contrast
, indeed. Although this is true in respect to the operations of the Spirit, as distinguished between the present time, and the first age of the church, yet it is equally true, that the genuine fruits of the Spirit, then, and now, are the same. By substituting imagination, feeling, and passion, for the real gifts of the Spirit, christianity has greatly suffered since those gifts ceased. Those spurious operations have produced divisions, and sub-divisions, in an almost endless varie. ty in the christian church; and every sect seeks to establish its own peculiar opinions by these spiritual operations, The operations, and revelations of the Spirit, in the A. postolic day, were susceptible of sensible demons'r ticathey manifested themselves by supernatural matters of fact. The possessors of those gifts exercised them in working of miracles; in healing the sick; in prophesying; in the disceriing of spirits; in the use of divers tongues; and in the interpretation of tongues. The operations, and gifts of the Sp. rit, in our day, manifest themselves in none of those ways; and if we are not restricted to the record for our spiritual knowledge, and to the belief of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, aided by the providences of God, &c. in the excitement of the religious affections, the joys, and transports, which the christian experiences, when conteniplating by faith the glories of the eternal world, and the inheritance of the saints, we havc no proper foundation for our hope: We do not build upon the Apostles, and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
If it is not agreed, that the revelations, and operations of the Spirit of God, recorded, are the means of spiritual knowl. edge, and faith; and if the religious feelings, and affections, are not the consequences of Gospel knowledge, and faith, and the religious exercises of the mind; it may, with truth, be
doubted, whether the Gospel was ever designed by God for the present inhabitants of the globe, or period of the world; for no other description of the operations of the Spirit were promised for the establishment of the Gospel; or have been employed since it began to be preached, than those record. ed, (which I have attended to, as described in the Acts of the Apostles,) and they do not now exist, in real action, as in the first age of the christian church; nor are they to be found any where except in the record. Nor do the inhabi. tants of christian countries differ in any thing from the pa. gan world, only as that difference is produced by the Gospel Record upon their intellectual, and moral characters, The agencies of God's Spirit are as much employed in sustaining the natural existence, and powers of the human body, and soul of the heathen, as the christian world; they however, do not know it. Admitting the revelations of the Spi. rit, and his operations as recorded, as the instrumental causes, established by God for spiritual knowledge, and faith; in connection with his providences, and ordinances, and all difficulties vanish. Nor could it be possible, with such an admission, honestly, consistently and conscientiously made, for men to differ essentially upon the fundamental principles of the Gospel. The same spiritual ideas, and knowledge; and the same faith, would be produced in every mind; because the same words, and sentences, the stipulated signs of ideas; and the same signs, and wonders, and miraculous operations of the Spirit, would be exclusively relied on for these purposes.
Men would soon see eye to eye; and the scriptures would be read, and studied by them with increasing advantage-their devotions would be the devotions of an enlightcned faith-they would grow in spiritual knowledge, and would live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God: "For the righteousness which is of faith speaketh in this wise, say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above-Or, who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring Christ again from the dead. The word is nigh thee, even in thy month and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith,” which is recorded in the Gospel, and was preached by the Apostles, "that if thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."* Rom. 10. 6-10.
Miraculous, and supernatural means were employed in the establishment of the Jewish, and Christian religions, These are the only religions which are supported by such evidence. In the first age of christianity, the immediate, and miraculous operations of the Spirit
, seem to have been indispensably necessary. How christianity could have been established, and propagated in its commencement without miracles, and the gifts of the Spirit, which were conferred on believers in confirmation of the divinity of the Gospel, and for their edification, I cannot conceive. At that time there was no Gospel record; the gifts, and graces of the Spirit, and the teaching of the Apostles,“ seem to have supplied its place. The Spirit taught the mind, by immediate inspirations, and revelations, then, what it learns from the record of them now. Agreeably to Christ's promises, the Spirit was to bring to the recollection of the Apostles what he had told them; this we are taught by what they have written, guided immediately by the Spirit, in the literal fulfilment of that promise. The Spirit was to take, and, by immediate revelation, shew to them the things' of Christ, when in his glorious mediatorial throne; these, we are taught by the record of those things which the Spirit shewed them, agreeably to the promise. The Spirit was to teach then things to come; these, we learn, by what they have written concerning future events. We have no true spiritual idea whose sign is not in the record, whether it relates to past, present, or future things. These signs, which are the words of God's Spirit, were stipulated by the Holy Ghost; and without them there are no spiritual ideas in the human mind:-Iminediate revelations having ceased, by which those signs were first established, the propagation of spiritual ideas,
and knowledge, is through the instrumentality of those signs which compose the word of God. This truth is conceded by all, except phrenzied enthusiasts, the quakers, and shakers, and those other religionists who approach to them. When any of them can exhibit an origi. nal spiritual idea, whose sign is not found in the word of God as the mean by which it was produced, I will yield the
point; and acknowledge that I have done them much wrong? As long as the signs of their ideas are found there; or the constituent parts are, by the record, furnished to their imaginations as the materials out of which they have formed new associations or combinations of them; and their imaginations are possessed of their natural powers; they have as little reason to claim immediate revelations, as a mechanic has, for asserting that the materials which he employs in constructing a watch, or in building an house, were immediately created by the Spirit of God to his hand or that their particular arrangement in the construction of the watch, or house, is effected by immediate miraculous inspirations, and power.
The gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were imparted by the laying on of the Apostle's hands in the name of Jesus Christ, seem to have been the divine credentials by which they es. tablished their own commission, as teachers sent from God, the divinity of the Saviour, and the authority of the Gospel truth. Without these gifts, I cannot conceive how the churches could have been established, in opposition to all the natural, and artificial obstacles which were opposed to them; or how they could have been governed by the Apostles. Difficulties surrounded them from every quarter. The long established authority of Judaism, from whence arose a most violent, and persecuting opposition; the ignorance, and corruption of the Gentile world, who were whol. ly given to idolatry; and the strength which their passions, lusts, pride, and imaginations, derived from their peculiar forms, rites, and ceremonies of worship, rendered the gifts of the Spirit indispensable. Paul, when writing to the several churches, derives all his authority for the correction of their errors, and the establishment of the truth, from the spiritual gifts which he imparted to them, and the miracles which he wrought amongst them by the Holy Ghost. His Epistle to the Romans he commences by a short recapitulation of his miraculous appointment to preach the Gospel, and the supernatural evidence of its truth. His introduction is in the following words: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle,” (Acts 9.3--16. and 22. 14–15. and 26. 16-18.) "separated unto the Gospel of God (Acts 13. 1-3.) (which he had promised afore bryan his Prophets in the holy scriptures) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead; BY WHICH WE HAVE RECEIVED GRACE, AND APOSTLESHIP, for obedience to the faith among all nations
for his name; among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.” In another place of this Epistle, when speaking in a more explicit manner respecting his divine commission, he says, “I have whereof I may glory through Christ Jesus, in those things which pertain to God; for I will not dare to speak of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient in word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God.” În reference to the spiritual instruction thus divinely, and supernaturally given, and established; and the gifts of the Spirit which followed those that believed, he observes: “Now, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” The grace, and Apostleship which Paul tells the Roman church he received from Jesus Christ our Lord, consisted in the MIRACULOUS POWERS, as well as the inspirations, and revelations of the Spirit; by which he was separated unto the Gospel of God, in order that, through his preaching, Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, the obedience of faith might be given to him among the Gentiles, on account of his being the Son of God.
It was by an appeal to those supernatural matters of fact, the power of working miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which even many of the common believers possessed, that Paul obtained his authority amongst the members ef the Roman church.
The introductory part of all Paul's Epistles, contains a short account of the nature of his Apostleship; and of the manner in which he was set apart for the work of the ministry; as exhibited in the beginning of his Epistle to the Romans; the true meaning of which is explained in the 9th, the 22nd, and 26th chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. In every Epistle he refers the church to the gifts of the Spirit