By Rev. Asa Mahan
DOCTRINE OF THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST EXPLAINED AND ELUCIDATED.
THE preceding chapters have, we trust, opened the way for an exposition and elucidation of the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, as set forth in the New Testament.
In attending to this we will first of all quote the various passages of Scripture in which this doctrine is clearly set forth, and then suggest the various lessons which they appear to teach.
The first passage to which we refer is Acts xix. 1-6: "And it came to pass that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what, then, were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied." This passage teaches several truths of great importance in respect to the subject under consideration.
1. We learn that the gift of the Spirit was not received in but after conversion"Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?"
2. We are taught that in the judgment of inspired men, believers are not fully qualified for their sphere of Christian activity until this baptism is received.
The men whom Paul met he distinctly recognized as Christians, but in want of the chief qualifications for Christian usefulness until they had been "endued with power from on high," through this Divine Baptism.
Nor was this view peculiar to Paul. It was the view of the other apostles, as we may learn from Acts viii. 14-17: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, for as yet He was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
3. We learn from the passage before us, as well as from others, that when believers do receive this Divine Baptism, they enter at once upon forms of Christian activity and usefulness otherwise impossible to them. It was so with the twelve individuals referred to, and with the apostles and their associates at the Pentecost, and also with Apollos after he was instructed by Priscilla and Aquila.
4. We learn also that where the Holy Ghost is received such a change is wrought in the subject, that he himself is distinctly conscious of it. This change is also, with equal distinctness, seen by others. The transformation which took place in the believers in Samaria was observed even by Simon the sorcerer.
The change produced in the apostles and their associates at the Pentecost, was not only manifest to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but to the multitudes assembled from surrounding nations. The new forms of life and activity which followed the descent of the Spirit upon the believers assembled at the house of Cornelius were at once obvious to Peter and his companions from Joppa. Acts x. 4447: "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost, for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
That the change wrought by the gift of the Spirit should be visible to others, as well as to believers, was foreshadowed in prophecy: "The Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee."
5. The gift of the Spirit does not ordinarily come to believers unsought or unexpected, but where and when they are seeking it and waiting for it. We have but one case recorded in the New Testament in which this blessing came when not definitely sought. This is the case presented abovethe case in which the Gentiles first received this "unspeakable gift." Here it was thus given for reasons that at once disappeared. To us, the great truth stands plainly revealed, that "the sealing and earnest of the Spirit" will not be given to us, but upon the condition that we seek it and wait for it, as the apostles and primitive Christians sought and waited for it.
The second passage to which we call attention is Eph. i. 13: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom, also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." Here we have the order of facts as occurring in actual experience, viz., hearing, then believing, then, after believing, "the sealing with that Holy Spirit of promise." All is plain here but the meaning of the term "sealed." Reference is had, in the use of this term, to the final act of parties rendering permanently valid and mutually obligatory written covenants, in putting their hand and seal to the document.
When a penitent believes in Christ, "he sets to his seal that God is true;" then God gives His Holy Spirit unto him to seal on his heart, the fact that he is "accepted in the Beloved," and is brought into covenant relations with "the Father of lights." Until this is done he has no witness from God that his sins are blotted out and that his name is written in Heaven. It would evince great presumption in us to call ourselves His renewed and adopted children, without the testimony and sealing of His Holy Spirit. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
A third passage which we find on this subject is in 2 Cor. i. 22, where we read that God both "seals us and gives the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." In Eph. i. 14 we read that in the gift of the Spirit we receive not only a seal of our title to sonship with God, but "the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession."
The term "earnest" implies, in our language as well as in the original, two ideasa part of the inheritance given in hand, and that as a pledge of an ultimate possession of the whole. The part received being the same in kind as the remainder, puts the recipient in possession of the same blessedness in kind which he is afterwards to receive in its fullness. This, then, is true of all who receive the "sealing and earnest of the Spirit in their hearts." With them glory is begun below. Heaven itself has dawned upon their inner life.
The fourth passage to which we invite attention is Eph. iii. 1421. The passage is rather long, but will repay a careful consideration, as it throws great light on our present inquires, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
The reader will notice the various stages of Christian experience here presented, and how each is preparatory to that which follows next in order, until the whole culminates in the soul being "filled with all the fulness of God." It will also be observed that this fullness results primarily from one originating causethe indwelling of the Spirit in our hearts. Let us now contemplate these great central facts of the spiritual life, in the order here presented.
1. When we "receive the Holy Ghost, after we have believed," the first result is an expansion and accumulation of intellectual, moral, and spiritual power. Our faculties of apprehension and comprehension are greatly enlarged. In other words, we are "strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man." We become "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." We are able to think, to pray, to suffer, to submit, to do and to endure as would otherwise be impossible to us.
2. When our bodies thus become "the temples of the Holy Ghost," and we are "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit," Christ then "dwells in our hearts by faith," and is "in us the hope of glory." He and the Father "come to us and make their abode with us," and then "truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." We thus enjoy "the fellowship of the Spirit," and in this Divine fellowship we come to know and believe the love that God hath to us," and by this means our "love is made perfect," our characters take form after the Divine image, and we become "confirmed, settled, and strengthened;" that is, we become "rooted and grounded in love."
3. When thus "walking in the light as God is in the light," "beholding with open face the glory of the Lord," and having "fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ," we at length attain to "a comprehension of the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." We, then, know by experience what our Saviour meant when He said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
4. As a further result, all our powers and susceptibilities, and activities become pervaded and filled with "the light of God." Our dwellingplace is now in the center of an infinite fullness, where every want is met, where the "effect of righteousness is peace, and the fruit of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever," and where "God is our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning are ended." In other words, we are "filled with all the fulness of God."
5. The inspired caution which follows must not be overlooked in this connection. When our thoughts, desires, and prayers turn towards God, we must never "limit the Holy One." We must never suppose that the measure of grace, which He shall give, will be limited by what we "ask or think."
We are to bear in mind, on the other hand, that the measure of our real necessities, not as seen by ourselves, but as they lie out under the eye of God, is the limit with which He is able to fill us, and which He will confer when we "put our trust in Him." "According to the power"that is, by means of the power of the Spirit"that worketh in us," God is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." This is "the way of holiness," along which all are advancing who "receive the Holy Ghost after they have believed," and who do not "grieve" or "quench the Spirit," but "walk in the Spirit."
In addition to the above, there are various passages which speak of the power of the Spirit demanding special notice. The Spirit, as imparted to Christ, is called "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Jesus commanded His disciples to "tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high." Again, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
"Through the power of the Holy Ghost" we are "filled with all joy and peace in believing," and "abound in hope." Through the power of the Spirit the truth of God has an all-transforming influence over our whole moral and spiritual being and character. "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
The Spirit also has absolute control of all the elements of moral and spiritual power within us. He can purify our emotions and affections, quicken into immortal life and vigor our intellectual and executive activities, transform character and consolidate virtue, and thus render us "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" for all purposes of thought, action, and endurance. But more of this in another chapter.
Let us now turn our attention to the memorable utterance of our Saviour, found in John vii. 38, 39: "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, 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, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." The following important truths, undeniably revealed in this passage, deserve particular attention:
1. The Spirit, with all that shall follow His reception, is here promised absolutely to every believer to the end of time. "If any man thirst," says Christ, in the verse preceding, "let him come unto Me, and drink." "He that believeth on Me"that is, every individual that shall believe "as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." No promise can be more universal.
2. The Spirit, as here promised, was given to no believer until after Jesus was glorified, and never at that time in conversion, but only and exclusively after he had believed to the saving of his soul.
3. Let us now think of the moral and spiritual state, "the everlasting consolations," the assurances of hope, the immortal fellowships, and fullness of joy, represented by such language as this, "Rivers of living water." "Whosoever," says our Saviour again, "drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life." All that such language imports becomes real in the experience of every believer who "receives the Holy Ghost" after he has believed.
On no other condition can such a form of life and blessedness become real in the experience of any individual. "But this He spake of the Spirit." You may possess all this, reader, because you may "be filled with the Spirit," and may "walk in the Spirit." You must possess all this, or your Christian life, in its essential particulars, will be a melancholy failure.
The object for which the Spirit is given is also specified in the New Testament. 1 Cor. xii. 7: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal;" that is, to render him efficiently useful as a member of the sanctified family. "To one," we are told, 1 Cor. xii. 811, "is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will."
All who receive this baptism, we are taught (verse 13), "by one Spirit are baptized into one body," and "made to drink into one Spirit." All have not imparted to them the same gifts; but each receives, in connection with what is common to all, special gifts and influences, which adapt him to his particular place as "a member of the body of Christ." The specific object of the entire chapter before us is to elucidate this one truth.
The spirit of prophecy which attends this baptism requires special attention. Acts ii. 18: "And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out, in those days, of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy." Acts xxi. 9: "And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." The particular meaning of the term "prophesy," in the New Testament, is not to foretell future events, but, as we are informed, 1 Cor. xiv. 3, 4, to utter Divine truth under the illumination of the Spirit, so as to edify those that hearthe Church especially: "But he that prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth, edifieth the Church."
The effect upon worldly minds of the spirit of prophecy in the Church is set forth in verses 23 and 24 of the same chapter: "If therefore the whole Church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."
This prophetic power, the power of utterance for the edification of the Church and the conversion of sinners, is in all such passages and in other Scriptures represented as the common privilege of all believers. Let any worldly person enter a circle whose hearts are full of the Holy Ghost, and he will at once recognize himself as encompassed with the light of God, and will be impressed with the fact that the kingdom of God has come nigh unto him. When any one speaks there will be an unction about his utterance, which all will recognize as Divine.
Another portion of the New Testament, which has an important bearing upon our present inquiries, is the first baptism of the Spirit after "Jesus was glorified;" that which occurred at the Pentecost. A full account of this event is given in the first and second chapters of Acts. The following facts in this account deserve attention:
1. The apostles and their associates, knowing well that the promise of the Holy Spirit was about to be fulfilled, made every possible arrangement to receive Him; such as completing the required number of apostles, and the preparation of their hearts for His glorious entrance.
Having done this, they met together in perfect unity of prayer and expectation to receive "the promise of the Father." "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." Here is a revelation to us of the spiritual state in which we may expect this Divine baptismviz., a state of total consecration to Christ, and a waiting and praying for it with all our hearts.
2. We notice also the signs which immediately preceded the baptism itself. First of all, the place was shaken as by a mighty rushing wind; then appeared the cloven tongues; and lastly, the internal manifestation, when all in common "were filled with the Holy Ghost." We have, we believe, but three instances in which the bestowment of this blessing was preceded by external manifestationsthe anointing of Christ, the case before us, and the one after the release of Peter and John, recorded in Acts iv. 31: "And when they had prayed the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness." In all other instances the manifestation was wholly internal.
3. We notice, again, the special and the common effects of this baptismthe speaking with tongues and prophesying, or the utterance of Divine truth under Divine influence. The former was a miraculous power granted to the few; the latter, a special gift granted to all in common. Few spake with tongues; all uttered "the wonderful works of God," and "spoke the Word of God with boldness."
4. We notice, finally, in this connection, the universality of "the promise of the Spirit." This is manifest in the condition on which this gift of God was promised to those addressed by Peter on this occasion. Acts ii. 38: "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Here we are taught that all who repent and believe in Christ, and openly confess Him, become, for this reason, graciously entitled to this promise. So the apostle positively affirms in the next verse, "For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call." Here we have universality in its strictest and most absolute form.
One and only one other aspect of this great theme demands our notice in this connection; we refer to the doctrine of the Spirit as an abiding presence in the Church, and in all the membership of the same. On this subject the teachings of our Saviour are very specific. John xvi. 16: "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever."
The visible presence of Christ with His disciples was temporary: that of the Spirit was to be perpetual: and the blessings received through the presence of the Spirit were to be much greater than those received through the personal presence of Christ. John. xvi. 7: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; 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 unto you."
Such is the doctrine of the Spirit, as presented in the Scriptures of truth. Let us now attend to certain general suggestions tending to elucidate still further this great subject.
We will consider:
I. THE NATURE OF THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT.
1. The Spirit, as the crowning glory and promise of the New Dispensation, is not, although supernatural, any form of miraculous power. As a miracle-working power, He had been in the Church ever since the fall, and had been imparted as such to the disciples prior to the death of Christ; yet as promised by our Saviour, and foretold by the prophets, He was not given until after "Christ was glorified." The baptism at the Pentecost was the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.
2. The Spirit sustains one relation to the world and quite another to the Church. To the former He was a convicting and converting power; to the latter He is an all-illuminating, all sanctifying, and all-strengthening presence, through whom we are continuously transformed into the Divine image "from glory to glory," brought into "fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ," have a continuous earnest of eternal fruition, and are "filled with all the fulness of God."
3. The promise of the Spirit does not pertain merely to the apostles, the Primitive Church, or a favored few in subsequent ages. It is, on the other hand, the common gift to all who believe in Christ, the least as well as the greatest, and that to the end of time. Nothing can be more specific than the teachings of the Scriptures on this subject. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children;" "The promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call;" "He that believeth on Me (as the Scriptures have said), out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive."
4. While all who believe become thereby entitled to this promise, its fulfillment is to be sought by faith after we have believed in Jesus; just as pardon is sought in conversion. The promise is as absolute in one case as in the other. There is nothing which God so desires to bestow upon sinners as pardon, and with it eternal life. Neither is there any gift He is more willing to bestow upon believers than this Divine Baptism. Here all who ask receive, and all who seek find. Nothing but unbelief can prevent pardon; and nothing but a want of faith in the promise of God can prevent an "enduement of power from on high."
5. There is no natural, or intellectual, or educational, or moral, or ecclesiastical gift which can be a substitute for this. It is the all-essential and absolutely supreme gift of God in this dispensation. As the sun in the solar system, and life in the human body are the highest good, and nothing can supersede them; so this baptism is the noblest blessing of Christianity, and no other can fill its place.
II. SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF THIS BAPTISM.
In reference to the effects of this baptism, we would remark in general, that permanence and power are the leading characteristics. Without this, feebleness characterizes the strongest among us; with it, "he that is feeble among us is as David, and the house of David, as the Lord, as the angel of the Lord before him." In the former state, "our souls can neither fly nor go;" in the latter, "we mount up on wings as eagles, we run and are not weary, and walk and are not faint." In the former state "we walk in darkness," in the latter "God is our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning are ended." In the former state we are weary, "tossed with tempests, and not comforted;" in the latter, "our peace is as a river, and our righteousness as the waves of the sea." In the former state doubts and fears prevail, in the latter we walk in the cloudless sunlight of "the full assurance of hope." In the one state we groan and sigh, and "weep for sorrow of heart," in the other "we sing for joy of heart," returning and coming "to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon our heads."
To be more particular, we remark1. In this state all our natural powers are quickened and developed into unwonted activity and energy. When in the presence of great minds, great thoughts, deep emotions, and vast energies of action, all our mental powers take on forms of activity otherwise impossible to us. What, then, must be the effect upon our mental faculties when they are all brought consciously under the influence of the infinite and eternal mind, and move and act under the power of God's thoughts, emotions, and activities?
These statements are all sustained by universal observation and experience. Whenever anyone receives this baptism, a radical change is immediately observed in the forms which his actions assume. Thought is expanded, emotion deepened, and activity energized as never before.
2. Especially is there an increase of moral and spiritual power to endure and accomplish all things according to the Divine will. Without this baptism the mind remains in servitude to the natural propensities, faints under chastisements, is overcome when tempted, and rendered despondent through broken resolutions. Under this baptism we have a sovereign control over our spirit, we endure when tried, overcome when tempted, and when weak in ourselves find everlasting strength in God.
Power with God and with men is an invariable result of this anointing. After Luther received it, his enemies were accustomed to say that he could obtain anything from God for which he asked. After Knox received it, Mary Queen of Scots was accustomed to say that she feared the prayers of that one man more than she did the fleets and armies of Elizabeth. So it was with the apostles and first Christians after the Pentecost. Who among men could "resist the wisdom and the spirit with which they spake?" The same is true of the weakest in the churches when thus baptized with the Holy Ghost.
3. Soul-transforming apprehensions of truth is another marked result of this baptism. Void of this anointing, the Bible, in its spiritual teachings, seems to be a sealed book, or a dead letter. With it, every truth has an all-vitalizing power to quicken and enlarge thought, to deepen spiritual emotion, to quicken the mental faculties, and to transform the whole moral and spiritual being and character. We walk in the light of God, which, shining upon the sacred page, gives to its truth a cleansing, illuminating, elevating, and energizing effect upon our souls. We realize the force of what Paul teaches as the result of receiving the Spirit in 1 Cor. ii. 9-16.
4. Absolute assurance of hope is another equally marked result of this baptism. This assurance is represented by such forms of expression as these: "We know that we are of God," "we know that we have passed from death unto life," "we know in whom we have believed," and "truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." "Now we have received, not the spirit which is of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God." After the believer has received the witness of the Spirit, he can no more doubt his adoption than he can doubt his own being. There is nothing of which he does or can enjoy a more absolute assurance.
5. Another result of this baptism is conscious "fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Before the believer has received the Holy Ghost, Christ is to his apprehension far off in Heaven, and God is at an infinite remove. After this baptism, the soul becomes a temple of the Triune Deity. God then "walks in us and dwells in us." The Father and the Son "come to us and make their abode with us," and we are thus "filled with all the fulness of God." Christ is in us the hope of glory, and dwells in our hearts by faith. In prayer, we speak to Him as a personal presence, and inwardly "see His face." God "shines in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." We know then, and only then, what Christ means when He says, "I will come to you," "I will manifest Myself to him," and "I will come unto him and sup with him, and he with Me," and "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
6. We mention as another result, deep and permanent spiritual blessedness. This blessedness is set forth by such Divine expressions as "joy in God," "joy in tribulation," "rejoice evermore," "pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake," "everlasting consolations and good hope through grace," joy unspeakable, and full of glory," "the peace of God, which passeth understanding, keeps our minds and hearts through Christ Jesus," peace as a river, and righteousness as the waves of the sea," and "the Lord shall be their everlasting light, and the days of their mourning shall be ended." In short, when we have received the Holy Ghost after we have believed, our interior life will fully correspond with Christian experience, as foreseen by the ancient prophets and as described in the New Testament.
7. Christian unity and love is another result which will follow this baptism. We shall "have fellowship" not only "with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ," but also "one with another;" and the prayer of the Saviour in behalf of His people will be fully answered: "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me;" "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."
It is vain to look for such a condition of unity and concord as here prayed for only as the glorious fruits of a baptism of the Holy Ghost. Any other spirit than this will produce division and strife; but this running through every member will bring the whole as a body to the Head, fitly joined together and compacted, so that there shall be no schism in the body.
III. CONDITIONS ON WHICH THIS BAPTISM MAY BE OBTAINED.
In the expositions above given, the conditions on which this Divine baptism may be obtained have been rendered so plain, that only a few particulars need be specified under this division of our subject. It may be stated as a general principle of the Divine administration, and especially in connection with the gift of the Spirit, that no such blessing is conferred until its value is appreciated, until there is faith in the provisions and promises of grace in respect to it, and until it is specifically sought as a supreme good. What, then, are the conditions on which we may receive this all-owning gift of Divine grace? They are, among others, the following:
1. It must be clearly separated in thought from all miraculous endowments, and from that form of Divine influence which issues in conversion and justification. What if the disciples, when told to "tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high," had replied, "Lord we have the Spirit already, we have His miraculous gifts, and His converting influence has never left us." Would they have obtained the Pentecostal baptism? Assuredly not. Having such a state of mind, would any of the individuals subsequently addressed by the apostles upon this subject have been filled with the Spirit?
So with us at the present time. God has so clearly distinguished and separated this from all other gifts of grace and forms of Divine manifestation that, until we have distinctly recognized and credited what He has revealed upon the subject, we are not prepared to receive the blessing, and have no reason to expect it.
2. We must distinctly recognize ourselves, on account of our having exercised "repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," as formally entitled to plead "the promise of the Spirit," with the absolute certainty of receiving it. This is the distinctly revealed birthright of every believer.
3. In a state of supreme consecration to Christ, we must plead this promise before God, and watch for it and wait for it, as the disciples did at Jerusalem, until the baptism comes upon us. Here, all reap who faint not. Reader, "the highway of holiness" is now open before you. Will you walk in it? Will you tarry before God until you, for your life-mission and work, are "endued with power from on high?"
4. If as churches or as a body of believers we seek this baptism of the Holy Ghost, we must each meet the conditions above-named, so that we may appear before God for this blessing as the apostles and their associatesviz., "all continue with one accord in prayer and supplication." "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." Thus must we wait, pray, supplicate, and believe until the promise of the Father fall upon us as upon them at the beginning. And thus waiting, it will not be "many days" ere the Heavenly Gift come down, and we shall all be "filled with the Holy Ghost."