« PreviousContinue »
“Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” “And whosoever will not receive you, nor hear you, shake off the dust from under your feet, as a testimony against them. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.” “Offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christis Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 5. When any thing is represented as done in the name of another, (and in the name certainly means by the authority) a different preposition is usually, if not uniformly, used in the Greek. When Christ says, “I am come in my Father's name,” and “the works that I do in my Father's name,” the Greek preposition en, not eis, is used. So likewise in this text, “In my name they shall cast out devils,” &c. Accordingly the apostles performed miracles in the name of jesus. Thus said Peter to the impotent man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Thus Paul said to the spirit of divination, with which the woman was possessed, “I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her.” In the following instances, eis is used, “Where two or • three are gathered together in my name”—“Baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”—“Lest any should say, I baptized in my own name.” But in all these instances, name may mean glory, and the translation might have been jor the name, that is, for the glory or honor. No reasonable objection, it is presumed, can be stated against thus construing the text relative to the saints meeting or gathering in Christ's name. Meeting for his name, ... or for his glory, would undoubtedly be as correct and as striking an idea. Nor is it at all unnatural to suppose, that Paul's fear was, that it should be thought that he was seeking his own glory, and not the glory of Christ. And is it not to be feared,
172 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture.”
that some at this day do really baptize for their own name, or their own glory or praise 2 * * ** It has indeed been observed, that we have no example of the apostles’ baptizing in any other name than that of the Lord jesus. And now it is not doubted, that they baptized by the authority of the Lord jesus ; yet that might not be the meaning of the phrase which is translated in the name of the Lord jesus. It might as naturally be for the name, jor the glory of the Lord jesus. And to baptize for the glory of the Lord jesus, would amount to the same as baptizing for a memorial of what was done by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to prove that he is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. In this text, “ There are three that bear witness in the earth, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, and these three agree in one,” the same preposition eis is used. To express the sense, the translators have inserted the verb agree, which has no place in the original; but had they strictly regarded analogy, they might have expressed the same idea as correctly, and perhaps more forcibly, by the preposition only, “these three are for one,” that is, for one end, as testimony to prove that “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” Thus, Sir, you have before you some of the analogies which at least seem to justify me in supposing, that it was the design of Christ, in the apostles’ commission, to express the END for which, and not merely the Authority by which, baptism is to be administered. The Authorrry by which, is indeed expressed in the introductory words, “All power is given unto me in heaven and earth ; go ye, therefore " but the clause in dispute appears to me not designed to re-express the authority, but to show the END for which baptism was instituted. - * Can you, Sir, produce such analogies in support of the common construction of this passage 2 Can you produce one analogy from the Bible which will justify you in saying that this text requires us to baptize by the authority of the Holy Spirit as a distinct Person 2 If the construction now given of the passage should be admitted and adopted, it would occasion no change in the form of words to be used in baptizing, but simply that of using to or for instead of in. The adoption would, however, open a door for much to be pertinently and profitably
said, respecting that momentous event in which the promised Messiah was publicly inaugurated, endued, and an-... nounced to the world as the SoN of GoD ; and the grace and glory which was displayed on that memorable occaSIOrne In this inauguration we may contemplate a fulfilment of o what had been promised and predicted, and also of what had been typified in the manner in which Prophets, Priests, . and Kings, had been invested with their respective offices. o The holy oil was poured on the heads of Prophets and . Kings, as an emblem of the Holy Spirit, with which the Messiah was to be endued. And Aaron was first washed with water, and then had the oil of consecration poured onhis head, as the Son of God was first washed or baptized, and then endued with the Spirit of God. And if we may , connect, in one view, the Old and the New Testament, forms of inauguration or ordination; in that event we may, behold the Messiah condescending to come to John, his. herald, to be washed with water as Aaron was ; then we. behold him making his own ordination prayer; and what, is still more august, we may behold the ETERNAL FATHER performing the solemn rites of laying on of hands,and giving. the Right Hand of Fellowship—He first sent down his Holy Spirit, which is often represented as his Hand; this abode on the Son; then, with an audible voice, God proclaimed, in the ears of attending angels and men, “THIs Is MY BELovED SoN, 1N whom I AM well PLEAs ED.” A scene more august, and more expressive of GRAce and GLoRY, had perhaps never been seen in heaven nor earth.
LET it be distinctly understood, that the opinion, that baptism was instituted as a memorial of the inauguration of the Messiah, is not viewed by me as essential to the main. theory respecting the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The opinion resulted from a serious inquiry into the meaning of Christ's coming by Water, and of the Water's bearing witness. It is proposed, for examination, as that which appears to me probably true. But the main things had in view do not depend on the correctness of that opinion. Various reasons may be given for the use of the terms Holy Spirit, in the apostles' commission, which do not imply the
personality of the Spirit. But what, Sir, if no such reason could be given by me, or by yourself? Shall one clause of a text, of doubtful import, be admitted as proof of a fact, in opposition to the general tenor of plain and inspired representations 2 More, it is believed, than two hundred times, the Holy Spirit of God is brought into view in the Scriptures,in a manner which clearly conveys the idea,that, by the Spirit, a self-existent Person is not intended. And shall one, two, or three texts, which seem to favor your opinion, be allowed more weight than two hundred others which are clearly in opposition * Suppose, Sir, that after long and laborious inquiry, I could obtain no satisfactory exposition of the disputed clause in the apostles’ commission, which would accord with my present views of the Holy Spirit; and on that ground should give up the whole theory, and return to your doctrine of the Trinity ; what then would be my situation ? I must cease to reflect, or must take into view the numerous texts which naturally oppose your idea of the Spirit, with the multitude which are opposed to the self-existence of the Son of God, and the many thousands which distinctly represent God as one Person only. On the whole, then, instead of one perplexing text, I should have to encounter many thousands, each of which, according to the natural import of language, would be opposed to the doctrine that I should profess to believe. If you will show me how those numerous classes of texts can be fairly reconciled to your doctrine, and how the representations of Divine Love in the Gospel can be consistent with your views of the Son of God, you will easily reclaim me from my supposed error. For whatever may have been your views of my feelings or my motives, this is a fact, that it is far from being a pleasant thing to me to be obliged to dissent in opinion from such a multitude of Worthy charac£erS. There is one consideration which will probably have influence against the admission of the sentiments of these Letters, viz. That the writer is a person obscurely situated, of private education, and unpromising advantages. All this may, in truth, be said. But sometimes God has “ chosen” weak and unpromising instruments to carry on his work “ that no flesh should glory in his presence.” Besides, # “the Scriptures were inspired to instruct common readers, by using words according to their common acceptation,” it
is possible that a person, under all my disadvantages, may investigate the truth, by making the Scriptures his only ide. It has been no part of my object to invent a New THEoRy. My aim has been to investigate, represent, and support, such sentiments as are revealed in the BIBLE, admitting words to be used “according to their common acceptation,” comparing Scripture with Scripture. If, on due examination, it shall be found that any sentiment, in these Letters, may be properly ascribed to me as the author, let it be rejected. But you will allow, that sentiments, of which God is the Author, should not be rejected, whoever may be the writer. “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth " This, you will remember, was a question which once arose in the mind of an “Israelite #ndeed ;” and, perhaps, on the same ground, thousands of others, to their own ruin, rejected the SAvroR of THE world. On no better ground, it may be, that thousands will reject the sfnt IMENTs contained in these Letters, even if they are sanctioned by the ORAcLEs of GoD.
LETTER viii. - " -- .
conclusion. REV. SIR,
THIS series of Letters has already been extended beyond my original design. It shall now be closed. I am not insensible, that publishing my views exposes me to attacks from every denomination of professing Christians. Yet you will not doubt my sincerity in saying, that no man can have less desire to be engaged in public controversy.— But being not my own, it would be wrong to suppress what to me appears honorary to Christ, for the sake of private ease, quiet, or popularity. Freedom has been used in examining your opinions, and the opinions of others; but, at the same time, it has been an object of my care to cultivate, in my heart, feelings of tenderness and respect for my fellow Christians of different opinions. In writing, it has been my aim not to wound your feelings, or the feelings of any other man. While writing this last Letter of the series, my conscience bears