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Of receiving the Holy Ghoft.
[Preached on Whitfunday.]
ACTS xix. 2, 3.
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghoft fince ye believed? And they faid unto him, We have not so much as beard whether there be any Holy Ghoft: And be faid unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?
N the following Difcourfe up- SER M.
here made use of by the Apostle, and by
SERM.the new Converts with whom he difcour
II. fed; and then, fecondly, I fhall confider the general doctrine, concerning the Nature and Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which was the Foundation and Occafion of the particular incidents referred to in the Text. It was the Method of the Apostles, when they had preached the Gofpel in a Number of places, to return after a certain Time through the fame places where they had formerly preached; to confirm, and strengthen the Believers ; to set in order, the feveral Churches ; to redress, what was amifs; to exhort and comfort them, under the Perfecutions they were likely to meet with; and to examine how far they preferved pure and uncorrupt, That Doctrine which had been delivered unto them, with regard both to Faith and Practice. Acts xv. 36. Paul faid unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our Brethren, in every City where we have preached, the word of the Lord, and fee how they do. Ver. 41. And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches. And ch. xvi. 5. And fo were the churches eftablished in the Faith, and increased in
Number daily. The Text, with the fore- SER M. going and following verfes, is an Account of part of this Progrefs of St Paul in vifiting the Churches, and of the Defign and Effect of that his journey amongst them. Paul having passed through the upper coafts, came to Ephefus, ver. 1. And finding certain Difciples, he Jaid unto them, bave received the Holy Ghoft fince ye believed? As the Apoftles were themfelves baptized with the Holy Ghost at Pentecoft, fo it pleafed God at the first preaching of the Gospel, generally to endue others likewise, who were baptized by the Apoftles with fome vifible gifts of the Holy Ghost, such as speaking with tongues, prophefying, and the like. Not that This was the principal and most valuable Effect of Baptifm; For That confifted in the internal Benefit on the Mind of the perfons themfelves, Remiffion of past Sin, and Sanctification of the Spirit for the future: But in order to a more effectual conviction of Others to whom the Gospel was to be preached, and for the speedier propagating of the Doctrine of Chrift, it pleafed God that the Power of the Holy
SER M. Ghoft in Them who were baptized, difII. covered itself in those first times by external Evidences and miraculous Operations: Tongues, fays the Apostle, are for a Sign, not for them that believe, but for them that believe not; 1 Cor. xiv. 22. Tho' therefore these miraculous Effects of the Spirit conferred in Baptism, were not the principal with regard to the perfons themfelves on whom they were conferred; yet being the most visible to others, and at that Time generally attending the other more fecret and invifible Gifts, it was very natural for the Apoftle, when he came to examine into the State of fuch Difciples as had been converted in his absence, to to express himself after this manner, Have ye received the Holy Ghoft fince ye believed? The matter he was chiefly concerned to know, was the thing fignified; whether they were true Believers, and had received the Gospel in the Truth and Purity thereof. But the thing demanded in his question, was the Evidence or external Sign; Has God bestowed upon you thofe vifible Gifts of the Spirit, which are now the ufual Characterifticks
ifticks of the Disciples of Chrift? To this SER M. Question, they returned a very furprizing Anfwer indeed, if our Tranflation expreft it rightly; We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost : As if any either few or even Gentile, much lefs Chriftian Convert, could poffibly have beeen fo ignorant, as to know nothing at all, nor ever have heard any thing, either of the Being or Influences of the Spirit of God. The Meaning evidently is, (and fo the words ought to have been rendred,) We have not heard that there has beeen any fuch Giving of the Holy Ghoft; We have neither received any of these extraordinary Gifts ourselves, nor been informed of their being bestowed on others, or that we were to expect any fuch thing upon our believing. And indeed it may feem very wonderful, how it fhould happen they could be, even fo far ignorant as This. But the reafon appears, in what follows. For when the Apostle hereupon asks them again; Unto what then were ye baptized, if not unto the expectation of the Gifts of the Holy Ghoft? they reply, ver. 3; Unto John's Baptifm. Which