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if the one must be by pouring, surely so must be the other. Now as they were familiar with a use of water called a baptism, done in the same way, the baptism of tables, couches, &c., (Mark vii. 4, 8; Luke xi. 38,) the natural inference is that the baptism by water was done "as” the baptism of the Holy Ghost, that is, by pouring on the subject. Hence this we believe to have been the primitive mode of baptism, though laid aside when superstition began to creep into the church, and attach some saving efficacy to mere outward rites, and especially to the sacraments, at which time the washing of the whole body took the place of the simpler mode of the early church.
But the great fact presented in the promise was that the New Testament dispensation was to be one of the Spirit. There are depths of truth here which we can but imperfectly grasp, and on which we should meditate with profound reverence. But our Lord states a fact so emphatically and repeatedly that we cannot mistake its meaning. He says that he must depart from the earth before the Spirit could descend in power. This is reiterated in the gospel of John. (See ch. xiv. 16, 17, 26; xv. 26 ; xvi. 7, 13.) If he did not return to heaven, the Spirit would not come down to earth. The reason for this necessity we cannot fully understand. It may be that the whole plan of redemption is designed to set forth the sublime mystery of the Trinity, that as the one God, the Father, was most prominent before the incarnation, the Son revealed in the incarnation and life of Jesus on earth, so the Spirit was to be revealed in the next great phase, the life of the church on earth; and thus that human history in its relation to the work of redemption was designed to shadow forth the deep mysteries of the Godhead, and show that all spiritual blessings must be from the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Ghost.
Whatever be the remote reason of the fact, the fact itself stands clearly out, that the New Testament .dispensation is pre-eminently the dispensation of the Spirit. And the words of Jesus intimate that it was needful that he should make the grand triumphal entrance of the ascension, and be inaugurated as the King of glory above, before the Spirit could be poured out below; and that this great descent of the Holy One was to be the signal on earth that the mighty transaction in heaven had taken place, the everlasting doors been lifted up, and the King of glory entered in to his mediatorial throne in heaven. Hence, now we are to look for all blessings through the Son, as their medium, but by the Holy Spirit as their applying agency. The scriptures, to which we come for words of eternal life, are inspired by the Holy Ghost. Regeneration, the beginning of the spiritual life, is the work of the Holy Ghost.
Sanctification, the progress of the spiritual life, is by the agency of the Holy Ghost. Prayer, the breath of the spiritual life, is by the aid, often in "groanings that cannot be uttered,” of the Holy Ghost. Good works, the proof and product of the spiritual life, are the fruits of the Holy Ghost. The whole work of the spiritual life is the work of the Holy Ghost. As Christ is a Mediator with the Father to bring us to bim, the Holy Ghost is a Mediator between the soul and Christ to draw us to Jesus, and enable us to lay hold of him by faith.
Here we reach a most important fact that is often overlooked, the intercession of the Holy Ghost. We think almost exclusively of the in. tercession of Christ, forgetting that there is another intercession that is also most priceless to us, and should ever be cherished. There is an important distinction between these two intercessions, though a distinction but little regarded. Christ intercedes as Mediator with God; the Holy Spirit, as Paraclete, Pleader, with man. Christ intercedes as a Priest, completing the sacrificial and sacerdotal work which he assumed as our representative; the Holy Spirit, as an applyer of this priestly work to the human heart. Christ intercedes with the Father on the ground of his merit, having purchased a right to the travail of his soul; the Holy Spirit, on the ground of compassion, pleading only the guilt and ruin of man. Christ intercedes in heaven; the Holy Spirit, on earth.
Hence we are brought to a most touching fact in our spiritual relations, that a double intercession is ever going on in regard to us, if we are God's children ; Christ making intercession by his blood in heaven, the Holy Spirit making intercession for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered, on earth; the one at the throne of glory above, the other at the throne of grace below; the one preparing a place for us in the inheritance of the saints in light, the other preparing us for that place, by working in us a meetness for this heavenly inheritance. The promise of the Father, therefore, for which the disciples were to wait, was the great blessing of the New Testament, the great hope of a sinful world, the great reliance of a struggling church, the influences of the Holy Spirit, by which, “convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel," and by which "we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”
III. Effects of the fulfilment of the promise. " Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jeru
salem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
There is a peculiar ense in which the apostles were to be witnesses for Christ, as they were to attest his resurrection from the dead from their own personal knowledge. Hence they must have seen the risen Saviour. And in their writings, they are witnesses to the ends of the earth.
But there is a sense in which all Christians are included in this testifying character, for all are witnesses for Christ, and thus only can this witness be carried to the uttermost part of the earth.
Each Christian, by his life, must be a witness for Christ, and show that he has been with Jesus, and learned of him. Some are to witness for him in the pulpit, some in the pews, some in the city, some in the wilderness, some at home, some far hence away among the heathen, some in the parlour, some in the kitchen, some in the nursery, some in the senate ; but all required to bear the same testimony, that “Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation, to all them that believe." To bear false witness against our neighbour is a great sin, but to bear false witness for Christ, is much more fearful, for the man who does this lies, not against man, but against God.
But there is a passive witnessing for Christ as well as an active, and often a much harder testi