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of you, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost:" ἕκαστος ὑμῶν· not the meanest person amongst you all but shall receive this great thing which ye observe us to have received; and not only you, but your children too; not your children of this generation only, "sed nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis," but your children for ever: for 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." Now then let it be considered,
1. This gift is by promise; by a promise not made to the apostles alone, but to all; to all for ever.
2. Consider here at the very first as there is a 'verbum,' 'a word' of promise, so there is 'sacramentum' too (I use the word, as I have already premonished, in a large sense only, and according to the style of the primitive church): it is a rite partly moral, partly ceremonial; the first is prayer, and the other is laying on of the hands and to an effect that is but transient and extraordinary, and of a little abode, it is not easy to be supposed that such a solemnity should be appointed. I say, such a solemnity;' that is, it is not imaginable that a solemn rite annexed to a perpetual promise should be transient and temporary, for by the nature of relatives they must be of equal abode. The promise is of a thing for ever; the ceremony or rite was annexed to the promise, and therefore this also must be for ever.
3. This is attested by St. Paul, who reduces this argument to this mystery, saying, "In whom after that ye believed, signati estis Spiritu Sancto promissionis,' 'ye were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise."" He spake it to the Ephesians, who well understood his meaning by remembering what was done to themselves by the apostles but awhile before", who, after they had baptized them, did lay their hands. upon them, and so they were sealed, and so they received the Holy Spirit of promise; for here the very matter of fact is the clearest commentary on St. Paul's words: the Spirit which was promised to all Christians, they then received, when they were consigned, or had the ritual seal of confirmation. by imposition of hands. One thing I shall remark here, and that is, that this and some other words of Scripture relating to the sacraments or other rituals of religion, do principally
Ephes, i. 13.
Acts, xix. 6.
mean the internal grace, and our consignation is by a secret power, and the work is within; but it does not therefore follow, that the external rite is not also intended: for the rite is so wholly for the mystery, and the outward for the inward, and yet by the outward God so usually and regularly gives the inward, that as no man is to rely upon the external ministry, as if the 'opus operatum' would do the whole duty; so no man is to neglect the external, because the internal is the more principal. The mistake in this particular hath caused great contempt of the sacraments and rituals of the church, and is the ground of the Socinian errors in these questions.
But, 4. What hinders any man from a quick consent at the first representation of these plain reasonings and authorities? Is it because there were extraordinary effects accompanying this ministration, and because now there are not, that we will suppose the whole economy must cease? If this be it, and indeed this is all that can be supposed in opposition to it, it is infinitely vain.
1. Because these extraordinary effects did continue even after the death of all the apostles. St. Irenæus says they did continue even to his time, even the greatest instance of miraculous power: "Et in fraternitate, sæpissime propter aliquid necessarium, eâ quæ est in quoquo loco, universâ ecclesiâ postulante per jejunium et supplicationem multam, reversus est spiritus," &c. When God saw it necessary, and the church prayed and fasted much, they did miraculous things, even of reducing the spirit to a dead man.
2. In the days of the apostles the Holy Spirit did produce miraculous effects, but neither always, nor at all, in all men: "Are all workers of miracles? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? can all heal?" No, "the Spirit bloweth where he listeth," and as he listeth; he gives gifts to all, but to some after this manner, and to some after that.
These gifts were not necessary at all times any more than to all persons; but the promise did belong to all, and was made to all, and was performed to all. In the days of the apostles there was an effusion of the Spirit of God, it ran over, it was for themselves and others, it wet the very ground they trod upon, and made it fruitful; but it was not to all in like manner, but there was also then, and since
a Lib. 2. cap. 57.
1 Cor. xii. 29.
then, a diffusion of the Spirit, tanquam in pleno.' St. Stephen was full of the Holy Ghost, "he was full of faith and power" the Holy Ghost was given to him to fulfil his faith principally; the working miracles was but collateral and incident. But there is also an infusion of the Holy Ghost, and that is to all, and that is for ever: "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal," saith the Apostle. And therefore if the grace be given to all, there is no reason that the ritual ministration of that grace should cease, upon pretence that the Spirit is not given extraordinarily.
4. These extraordinary gifts were indeed at first necessary: "In the beginnings always appear the sensible visions of spiritual things for their sakes, who cannot receive the understanding of an incorporeal nature; that if afterward they be not so done, they may be believed by those things which were already done," said St. Chrysostom in the place before quoted; that is, these visible appearances were given at first by reason of the imperfection of the state of the church, but the greater gifts were to abide for ever: and therefore it is observable that St. Paul says that the gift of tongues is one of the least and most useless things; a mere sign, and not so much as a sign to believers, but to infidels and unbelievers; and before this he greatly prefers the gift of prophesying or preaching, which yet, all Christians know, does abide with the church for ever.
To every ordinary and perpetual ministry at first there were extraordinary effects and miraculous consignations. We find great parts of nations converted at one sermon. Three thousand converts came in at one preaching of St. Peter, and five thousand at another sermon: and persons were miraculously cured by the prayer of the bishop in his visitation of a sick Christian; and devils cast out in the conversion of a sinner; and blindness cured at the baptism of St. Paul; and Æneas was healed of a palsy at the same time he was cured of his infidelity; and Eutychus was restored to life at the preaching of St. Paul. And yet that now we see no such extraordinaries, it follows not that the visitation of the sick, and preaching sermons, and absolving penitents, are not ordinary and perpetual ministrations: and therefore to
e Acts, vi. 8.
d 1 Cor. xii. 7.
e In Matthæum.
fancy that invocation of the Holy Spirit and imposition of hands is to cease when the extraordinary and temporary contingencies of it are gone, is too trifling a fancy to be put in balance against so sacred an institution relying upon so many scriptures.
6. With this objection some vain persons would have troubled the church in St. Austin's time; but he considered it with much indignation, writing against the Donatists. His words are these: "At the first times the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers, and they spake with tongues which they had not learned, according as the Spirit gave them utterance. They were signs fitted for the season; for so the Holy Ghost ought to have signified in all tongues, because the Gospel of God was to run through all the nations and languages of the world; so it was signified, and so it passed through. But is it therefore expected that they upon whom there is imposition of hands that they might receive the Holy Ghost, that they should speak with tongues? Or when we lay hands on infants, does every one of you attend to hear them speak with tongues? And when he sees that they do not speak with tongues, is any of you of so perverse a heart as to say, they have not received the Holy Ghost; for if they had received him, they would speak with tongues, as it was done at first? But if by these miracles there is not now given any testimony of the presence of the Holy Spirit, how doth any one know that he hath received the Holy Ghost? Interroget cor suum, Si diliget fratrem, manet Spiritus Dei in illo."" It is true, the gift of tongues doth not remain, but all the greater gifts of the Holy Spirit remain with the church for ever; sanctification and power, fortitude and hope, faith and love. Let every man search his heart, and see if he belongs to God; whether the 'love of God be not spread in his heart by the Spirit of God:' let him see if he be not patient in troubles, comforted in his afflictions, bold to confess the faith of Christ crucified, zealous of good works. These are the miracles of grace, and the mighty powers of the Spirit, according to that saying of Christ, "These signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall tread on serf Tract. 6. in Canonicam Joan. circa med. et lib. 3. contr. Donatist. c. 6. Mark, xvi. 17.
pents, they shall drink poison, and it shall not hurt them; and they shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover." That which we call the miraculous part, is the less power; but to cast out the devil of lust, to throw down the pride of Lucifer, to tread on the great dragon, and to triumph over our spiritual enemies, to cure a diseased soul, to be unharmed by the poison of temptation, of evil examples and evil company: these are the true signs that shall follow them, that truly and rightly believe on the name of the Lord Jesus; this is to live in the Spirit,' and to walk in the Spirit ;' this is more than to receive the Spirit to a power of miracles and supernatural products in a natural matter: for this is from a supernatural principle to receive supernatural aids to a supernatural end in the diviner spirit of a man; and this being more miraculous than the other, it ought not to be pretended that the discontinuance of extraordinary miracles should cause the discontinuance of an ordinary ministration; and this is that which I was to prove.
7. To which it is not amiss to add this observation, that Simon Magus offered to buy this power of the apostles, that he also, by laying on of hands, might thus minister the Spirit. Now he began this sin in the Christian church, and it is too frequent at this day; but if all this power be gone, then nothing of that sin can remain; if the subject-matter be removed, then the appendant crime cannot abide, and there can be no simony, so much as by participation; and whatever is or can be done in this kind, is no more of this crime than drunkenness is of adultery; it relates to it, or may be introductive of it, or be something like it. But certainly since the church is not so happy as to be entirely free from the crime of simony, it will be hard to say that the power (the buying of which was the principle of this sin, and therefore the rule of all the rest) should be removed, and the house stand without a foundation, the relative without the correspondent, the accessary without the principal, and the accident without the subject. This is impossible, and therefore it remains that still there abides in the church this power, that, by imposition of hands of fit persons, the Holy Ghost is ministered. But this will be further cleared in the next section.