« PreviousContinue »
to the existence of the Third Person in the Sacred Trinity. It requires but little confideration, on the part of any who know what it is to be a DISCIPLE, to suspect the propriety of an interpretation, which represents these persons as ignorant of the first principles of that Gospel which an inspired writer declares they believed ; in darknels with respect to Him by whose power they must have been enlightened; yea, totally destitute of the knowledge of that God, whose they were and whom they served. And as a suspicion of this nature will always lead them that love the word of God to a closer investigation, and a more accurate comparison of fcripture with scripture; so the result will ever abound in fatisfaction to the enquirer, and will repay the labor of his research with increased views of the excellence and consistency of the Sacred Writings. For such researches thofe who are acquainted with the original language are above others qualified, and they are, on that account, peculiarly called to make them, not only for their own information, but for the inftruction of such as pofsess not the fame advantages. Having this object in view, we present our readers with a paffage which has suffered much by misinterpretation, and propofe to their acceptance what we deem a solution of such difficulty as appears to involve it. And
1. We observe that our translators have been guilty of inconsistency in their version of this text, compared with their version of John vii. 39. The Holy Ghost was not yet given. They manifestly considered this last (as it occurs in the original) to be elliptical, for in it they have supplied (given) a word of their own: but, forgetting that analogy which unity of subject and coincidence of expression required, they have
translated the other as if it were a complete sentence, merely introducing the word any, to express its supposed meaning more fully to the English reader.
2. In consequence of this inattention, the English version exhibits two different ideas, where the Greek text expresses but one; for, removing the supplied word from each, we read in John, The Holy Ghoff was not yet; and in Acts, Whether the Holy Ghoft BE; between which two clauses,
difcern an exact coincidence of expreffion, allowing only for the change of tense) so that the fubject of negation in the former, and of doubt in the latter, must be acknowledged to be one and the fame: whereas the common translation denies the giving of the Holy Ghost in the one, and in the other questions his existence.
3. The error will be corrected by applying the fame rule of interpretation to both, and by looking for guidance to whichever of these passages may be more clearly determinable than the other.
4. Now that the passage in John is elliptical, is most obvious; because otherwise an Evangelist (for these are John's own words) must be fupposed to deny the existence of the Holy Ghost previous to the glorification of Jesus. And not only fo, but the context marks the propriety of that very word (given) which has been fupplied; because it directs us to the long-promised defcent of the Spirit of God, called elsewhere the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was not to take place till Jesus was glorified, being necessarily subsequent to that event which it was designed to attest. Accordingly, the first preaching of the refurrection, and the first descent of the Holy Ghost, took place on the same day, the day of
Pentecost. The meaning of these words of the Evangelist being thus established,
5. We conclude that the passage under confideration is also elliptical, and is also to be supplied by the word given. It will then run so, we have not so much as heard whether the Holy Ghost be given; and thus the answer marks no ignorance of that spirit who dwelt in them, but merely intimates that they had not heard of the Holy Ghost's having yet been poured out; a circumstance which affected not their views of the only True God, involved no error in their faith of the gospel, and for which the place of their residence fully accounts.
ON THE WORD OF GOD.
My tongue shall speak of thy word. Pf. cxix. 172.
20%-of WHEN the great God has vouchsafed to his creatures a revelation of his will, we may at once pronounce concerning whatever he has declared, that it is worthy of all acceptation. Yet nothing is more common than for men, even while they profess a religion founded on what the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, either to be wholly inattentive to the voice from heaven, or deliberately to despise and reject it, if by chance it be obtruded on their ears. Such conduct shews the wickedness and ignoranee of men; but it cannot render that which they disregard, less faithful in its declarations, or less interwoven with their most important concerns. And indeed
to suppose that the scriptures do not partake of the character of Him who is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever ; is in effect to deny that such a Being has given them. How awful then the mistake, how alarming the state of multitudes, countless multitudes, whodaily surround us, and imagine they can walk acceptably before God, without the guidance of his word ! If it be true that God has amongst the sons of men a people saved by him, accepted with him, and brought near unto him (and if not, woe unto all the race of Adam); it is equally true that the word is the means by which this blessedness is communicated to them. This is known and confessed by all who really believe the sacred records; and how long will it be ere it awaken the fear of the fools who have neneglected them, or the scorners who have treated them with contempt ? Even so long as they are suffered to walk in their own ways, even till He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, Shine in their hearts ; accompany his word, by the demonftration of his fpirit ; and fo give them the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus ChriA. . The importance of the word of God for accomplishing his good pleasure towards his redeemed, is pressed upon our attention throughout the whole of fcripture. The word is that in the reception of which finners are fanctified, or separated unto God, as his peculiar people, his heavenly family, his dear children ; are delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son ; exchanging an unsatisfying portion in this world, for she inheritance of the saints in light. The word is that by which finners, dead in trespasses and fins, are made alive unto God; for it is the sword of the quickening
Spirit; the weapon, as it were, which the Almighty employs, to smite the enemies which the human heart opposes to the work of his grace; to cast down imaginations and every high thing, that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God; and to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Chrift. The word is that feed which, sown in ground prepared of the Lord for its reception, bringeth forth fruit in abundance to the lower ; yea, it has been, and ever must be, (for God himself hath fo determined) the instrument whereby the great Head cleanseth his church, that it should be holy and without blemish; causeth all his members to abound in every good word and tvork; and keepeth them walking in the paths of righteousness, till in his own good time he receives them to glory.
to glory. Finally the word is that word of faith, which is the gospel of salvation ; and which therefore he that believeth shall be saved, and be that believeth not, shall be condemned; and that very word fall judge its enernies at the last day, whose every mouth shall be stopped, and every conscience convicted that they rejected the counseli of God against themselves.
Such confiderations will, through grace, be: profitable to our brethren that believe. In them. we doubt not their efficacy to produce vigorous and unremitting researches into the repository of heavenly wisdom, that they may grow in the affurance of those truths, which it is their duty and confolation to bear in mind, and that they may be more thoroughly furnished for their Chriftian walk. And
who are fortified with hopes, underived from the gospel, how long will ye deceive yourselves ? To expect any real good, unconnected with the belief of the truth, is a mental effort to destroy a union which Infinite