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SERMON II. of receiving the Holy Ghost.

[ Preached on Whitsunday.]

. Acts xix. 2, 3. He said unto them, Have ye received the

Holy Ghost fince ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as beard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized ?

Wo N the following Discourse up-SE R M. w on these words, I shall first II.

endeavour briefly to explain be the full Meaning of the se

veral particular expreffions here made use of by the Apostle, and by

the

SMS R

Serm.the new Converts with whom he discour11. fed ; and then, fecondly, I shall consider

the general doctrine, concerning the Nature and Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which was the Foundation and Occasion of the particular incidents referred to in the Text. It was the Method of the Apostles, when they had preached the Gospel in a Number of places, to return after a certain Time through the same places where they had formerly preached ; to confirm, and strengthen the Believers ; to set in order, the several Churches ; to redress, what was amiss ; to exhort and comfort them, under the Persecutions they were likely to meet with ; and to examine how far they preserved pure and uncorrupt, That Doctrine which had been delivered unto them, with regard both to Faith and Practice. Afts xv. 36. Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our Brethren, in every City where we have preached, the word of the Lord, and see how they do. Ver. 41. And be went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches, And ch. xvi. 5. And so were the churches established in the Faith, and increased in

Number

II.

Number daily. The Text, with the fore- SERM. going and following verses, is an Account, of part of this Progress of St Paul in visiting the Churches, and of the Design and Effect of that his journey amongst them. . Paul having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus, ver. 1. And finding certain Disciples, he said unto them, bave ye received the Holy Ghojt fince ye. believed ? As the Apostles were themselves baptized with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, so it pleased God at the first preaching of the Gospel, generally to endue others likewise, who were baptized by the Apostles with some visible gifts of the Holy Ghost, such as speaking with tongues, prophesying, and the like. Not that This was the principal and most valuable Effect of Baptism ; For That consisted in the internal Benefit on the Mind of the persons themselves, 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 Christ, it pleased God that the Power of the Holy

Ghost

m

SER M.Ghost in Them who were baptized, dis-
II. covered itself in those first times by ex-

t ernal Evidences and miraculous Opera-
tions : Tongues, says the Apostle, are for
a Sign, not for them that believe, but for
them that believe not ; i Cor. xiv. 22. Tho'
therefore these miraculous Effects of the
Spirit conferred in Baptism, were not the
principal with regard to the persons them-
felves on whom they were conferred; yet.
being the most visible to others, and at
that Time generally attending the other
more secret and invisible Gifts, it was
very natural for the Apostle, when he
came to examine into the State of such
Disciples as had been converted in his
absence, to express himself after this
manner, Have ye received the Holy Ghost
fince ye believed ? The matter he was
chiefly concerned to know, was the thing
fignified; whether they were true Belie-
vers, and had received the Gospel in the
Truth and Purity thereof. But the thing
demanded in his question, was the Evi-
dence or external Sign; Has God bestowed
upon you those visible Gifts of the Spis
rit, which are now the usual Character-

isticks

II.

isticks of the Disciples of Christ? To this Sermi Question, they returned a very surprizing Anfwer indeed, if our Translation exprest it rightly; We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost : As if any either few or even Gentile, much less Christian Convert, could possibly have beeen so 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 so the words ought to have been rendred,) We have not heard that there has beeen any such Giving of the Holy Ghost ; We have neither received any of these extraordinary Gifts ourselves, nor been informed of their being bestowed on others, or that we were to expe&t any such thing upon our believing. And indeed it may seem very wonderful, how it should happen they could be, even so far ignorant as This. But the reason appears, in what follows. For when the Apostle hereupon asks them again; Unto what there were ye baptized, if not unto the expectation of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost? they reply, ver. 3 ; Unto John's Baptism. Vol. VI.

D

Which

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