THE Lord has determined that all, in all unregenerated state, are under sin, that he might have mercy upon all. He has concluded that all, who have never been brought to Christ, are in unbelief. The prophet of the Lord says: "They have all gone out of the way;" that "there are none that do good: no not one." The whole world, without Christ, lies under the power of the wicked one--they are all lost, under guilt, condemned. The Lord came to save that which was lost. He came into the world "not to condemn," or, rather, not to judge "the world; but that the world through him might be saved." He did not come to save anybody irresistibly, "but that the world through him might be saved," or to give all the privilege of being saved. This was in view when the infinite breast was first moved with compassion for man--when he pitied the world, or loved it. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The infinite goodness suggested the grand scheme of redemption for man; the infinite will resolved it; the infinite wisdom devised it; the infinite power executed it. We may regard every step in the divine procedure, from the eternal purpose of God down through the ages till sinners are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, as a link in the chain of events tending directly on to mark out that which the infinite goodness suggested, the infinite will resolved, the infinite wisdom devised, and the infinite power carried into execution. The promise to Abraham: "In thee shall all nations be blessed," was an important item in the great work, and the time when it was made a distinct period. Then the lucid predictions of holy men form grand items, or distinct links, in the chain of the divine procedure, extending down through the ages, working out his eternal purpose. In fulfillment of the last words of the last prophet of the Old Testament, John the Immerser and harbinger of the Lord came; the forerunner, of the Messiah, to prepare a people for him, than whom a greater than he had not been born of woman. He announced the near approach of the reign of heaven, and, in view of it, called on the people to repent. He immersed with the immersion of repentance for the remission of sins, teaching the people that he was not the Messiah, but that they must believe on him who was to come after him--that is, on Christ Jesus.
A few months later the Lord entered his public ministry; also teaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, and teaching the people to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." He also called twelve men and sent them out to announce the approaching reign, commanding them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but to go not in the way of the Gentiles. He also subsequently strengthened this corps by adding seventy others--all calling upon the people to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. In calling, sending and supporting all these preachers, there is not as much said about raising money as there is in a district co-operation in sending out one evangelist. These were important items in the divine procedure; but all preliminary, preparatory and incipient in view of opening up the new institution. The crucifixion of the Lord ended all this work. While the apostles, and all these other men whom he employed, believed on him and preached what he told them to preach; they supposed he would be a temporal king, and his kingdom a mere temporal kingdom. Having this view, when he died their prospects were all blighted, their hopes all blasted, and they gave up all as lost. The Shepherd was smitten and the sheep were scattered. They gave up all as lost, and returned to their former avocation--to their fisheries. A more completely disappointed, defeated, disheartened and discouraged set of men were never seen. They supposed the whole matter was at an end, and that they were to be regarded as a poor and despised set of dupes. Not a man of them ever thought of reviving the matter in any form; not a man of them ever expected to see Jesus again, but each of them supposed he had not only deceived them, but been deceived himself, had been defeated by being put to death, and that the whole affair was ended.
So completely had this become a settled conviction with them, that when good friends and true came and told that "the Lord is risen," they did not believe it. "It seemed to them as idle tales." But when the Lord appeared to them, Thomas, the most unbelieving of them, exclaimed: "My Lord and my God!" He remained with them about forty days, talking over their previous travels, work, conversations, and explaining the Scriptures to them; showing that all things written by Moses, in the prophets and in the Psalms, concerning him, had been fulfilled; giving them a full opportunity to see him repeatedly in daylight, to hear him, handle him, eat with him and drink with him, thus enabling them to identify him and make themselves most competent witnesses of his resurrection.
When all things were ready, in his last interview with them, he said: "All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me." This placed him at the head--"Head over all things to the Church;" "In him all fullness dwells;" he is the Infallibility, and from him all authority must henceforth come. He proceeds to commission his apostles: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, immersing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."--Matthew xxviii. 19, 20.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."--Mark xvi. 15-18.
"Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins, should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."--Luke xxiv. 46, 47.
Thus the commission may be gathered as given by our Lord to the twelve apostles from Matthew, Mark and Luke. Paul's commission is in the following words:
"I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."--Acts xxvi. 16-18.
These extracts are not different commissions, but items of the same commission, though that to Paul was given at a different time, and to a different person. It was, nevertheless, the commission to preach the same gospel, for no man was or is allowed to preach any other gospel. To get the full commission, as it stands connected with remission of sins, or man's salvation from sin, we must gather it from these items, as found in the several extracts now made from different parts of the sacred record. They are items of the same commission, to be gathered and put together, and not isolated and distorted into different commissions. What do we find, then, in this commission?
1. We find where they were to go--into all the world.
2. We learn to whom they were to go--to all nations; to every creature.
3. That they were to preach.
4. What they were to preach--that they were to preach the gospel.
5. That men and women were to hear the gospel.
6. That they were required to believe the gospel.
7. That they were required to repent.
8. That they were required to be immersed.
9. That all this looks to salvation or remission of sins as its object.
The love of God for man looks to man's salvation. The sufferings and death of our Lord had in view the deliverance of man from sin. The commission the Lord gave the apostles had in view remission of sins; the turning man from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God--saving him. The preaching of the gospel--the power of God to salvation to every one that believes--the preaching of the cross, the wisdom of God and the power of God, has in view man's salvation. The faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is in order to salvation--that he who believes on him may not perish, but have eternal life. The repentance is in view of salvation--that men may not perish--"Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish." The immersion is in view of salvation--"He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved." The whole procedure, from the eternal purpose of God down to man's immersion into Christ, is in view of man's deliverance from sin and reconciliation to God; and the whole procedure, from his immersion into Christ through his life, is in view of his eternal salvation, or his final entrance by the strait gate into the everlasting city.
Who can deny the design of the commission, authorizing the apostles to preach repentance and remission, to be man's recovery from sin? The very object it has in view is man's pardon--his recovery from sin, or remission of sins.--Who can deny that the object of the apostles, in preaching repentance and remission of sins, under that commission, was man's pardon or salvation from sin? No man of intelligence can fail to see this. Who can fail to see that the belief of the gospel when preached is in view of salvation, or man coming, to God, as he who comes to him must believe? Can any man fail to see that the repentance is in view of the same thing--salvation or pardon? How, then, can any man fail to see that the immersion, connected with the faith, in the same sentence--"He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved"--is in view of, or in order to the same thing? Nothing short of the most thick darkness could hide anything as clear as this from the eyes of intelligent people.
All admit that the object of the great commission is man's recovery from sin. The object of the apostles in preaching "repentance and remission of sins in his name," is the salvation of man from sin. Their whole life and labor were in view of that one object--man's deliverance from sin. Their preaching was all in view of that one end or object; it centered in that one design. Hearing the gospel had in view the same object, and was in order to the same purpose. The belief of the gospel had in view the same thing--man's pardon or remission of sins--that man "might not perish, but have everlasting life." Repentance was in view of the same thing. Hence they "preached repentance and remission of sins"--taught "all men everywhere to repent," in view of the fact that "God will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he has ordained." The confession of Christ is in view of salvation. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." The immersion into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is an item of the commission, and in view of, or in order to the same thing. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," says the Lord.
What a strange and blind infatuation it is that has entered into the minds of some men, that, after admitting that the love of God to man was in view of his salvation; that the grace of God was in view of the same thing, and the gift of Christ; his wonderful sufferings and death; his shedding his blood; his entrance into the true holy place, into heaven itself; with his own blood to appear in the presence of God for us, was all in view of man's salvation--and, after admitting that the preaching of the gospel, and the very commission authorizing it to be preached, are in view of the same thing; that the belief of the gospel, the repentance and confession, are in view of the same thing, and then turns round and denies that the immersion, an item in the same connection, a link in the same chain, is not in view of man's salvation; not in order to the remission of sin, and has not the same object in view as all that has gone before--is not in order to the same end! Among all the unreasonable things of our time, there is nothing more ridiculous, nothing more absurd and preposterous. Strange, indeed, that in the divine procedure there should be such a long chain, and every link in it; such a train of items, and every one in view of the same thing--man's salvation from sin--till we come to immersion, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and that one, not in, view of man's salvation at all, not in order to the same thing at all, not in view of salvation from sin at all!
Come up and let us look the matter square in the face. The Lord connects faith and immersion together in the same sentence, in the commission, in view of the same object. That object is salvation from sin, or remission of sin, in the words, "He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved." Strike out the words, "and is immersed," and read, "He that believeth shall be saved"--and ask any one what the belief is for, or what it has for its object, or is in order to, and the answer will be--salvation. Not a man in a thousand would miss it. Well, the same words precisely here that tell us what faith is for, or what object it has in view, tell us what the immersion is for, or what object it has in view, when the words, "and is immersed," are left in the sentence where the Lord inserted them. The same words, in the same sentence, in the commission, tell us what both the faith and immersion have in view--and that is salvation. "He that believeth and is immersed"--two things for the creature to do--and what is the promise of the Lord? "Shall be saved." That is the object in view in both believing and being immersed. There is not a reason for an man refusing to do both, in view of the same object--salvation or pardon.
The Divine Spirit, Acts ii. 38, connected both repentance and immersion in the same sentence, in view of the same thing--remission of sins. He commanded believers to "Repent, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." The same words here that tell us what the repentance is for, or in order to, or what men are to have in view of repenting, tell us also what they are to have in view of being immersed. Not only the same words, but in the same sentence, tell us what is in view in both repenting and being immersed. They are both in view of the same thing--remission of sins. The object the sinner has, the seeker, or subject, is remission of sins. He repents and is immersed in view of this object. Strike the words, "and is immersed," out, and inquire what the repentance has in view, or is in order to, and it is plain. It will then read, "Repent, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Every one will see the object repentance has in view at once, or what it is in order to. Not a man will say, "It is because of pardon." Repentance is not because we are pardoned, but in view of being pardoned, or in order to pardon. It is an item to be done in the road to pardon, and not something to be done after pardon, and because we are pardoned. This no one can fail to see who will consult the words as we have quoted them. Well, the precise same words, in the same sentence, in the Scripture, tell us the design of immersion, or the object in view in being immersed. The two things, "repent, and be immersed," in the same sentence, are joined together by the conjunction "and," in view of the same end or object. That end or object is remission of sins. No one can fail to see this who will view the matter with a simple desire to know the truth.
In the commission the Lord puts faith and immersion in the same sentence, in order to, or in view of the same object--salvation. The apostle, in the first discourse under that commission, connected repentance and immersion together, in the same sentence, in order to the same end, or in view of the same object--salvation, or remission of sins. This connects the faith, repentance and immersion together; all in view of the same thing--remission of sins. Paul connects the confession with the same thing, or puts it in view of the same object. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." This puts the faith, repentance and confession all together, in order to the same end. The immersion is the completing item in the list, or the last item before coming to the promise, the last stop in the process of turning to the Lord, and the one in which man is received.
When Peter had spoken to the Gentiles, and the Lord had extended the "like gift" to them as he did to the Jews, and thus given them the same evidence of his willingness to receive them the same as the Jews, Peter put the question, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be immersed, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" They now had the gospel, had heard it preached, believed it, had the privilege of repentance granted to them, and God had shown them that he was ready to receive them, and, as this was done in immersion, he inquired: "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be immersed, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?"
This is where we find immersion placed in the commission. It is for the penitent believer, who desires to come to Christ and be accepted of him. He is the proper subject to be immersed into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It is the time he comes into the name, or takes the name on him, that he is accepted of the Lord, or received into covenant with him. The entire process is in view of this consummation; his having this sacred name on him; being accepted of God, and adopted into the heavenly family. The immersion is but the completion of, the process. This gives a reason for its occupying the conspicuous place it does in so many Scriptures, now to be introduced and commented on.
That it is not the insignificant ceremony some make it, is clear from several considerations:
1. Its place in the great commission, connected with the entrance, "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and salvation, as has abundantly appeared from the foregoing reasonings and Scriptures. It is the very act in which the penitent believer enters into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The faith, the repentance, the confession; all the change in heart, feeling and life, are in the man, and preparatory to the transfer into the new state, or "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This transfer into this name, brings a man to pardon, or acceptance with God.
2. The Lord says: "Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God." The "teacher in Israel," and "ruler among the Jews, could not understand how a man could be "born again," or "born when he is old." The Lord proceeded to express a little more, or the same thing a little fuller. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God." But now, does the Lord, by being "born of water," mean baptism, or, which is the same, immersion? That he means baptism has the unanimous sanction of the first church; it has the unanimous sanction of the fathers, so-called; the Greek Church gives it the same signification; the Romish Church does the same; the Church of England quotes these words and applies them to baptism in her ritual; the Methodist Episcopal Church copies the same from the Church of England, and indorses it in her ritual; the Presbyterian Church, in her Confession of Faith, quotes the words, "born of water," John iii. 5, and applies them to baptism--in one word, the main standard works in all the churches of any note; the criticisms, the commentaries, etc., have adopted the same application. From this there has been no dissent of any consequence among the distinguished reformers, critics, commentators, annotators, translators and historians. Scarcely anything has been more universally assented to than that our Lord meant baptism by the figurative expression, "born of water," till the special pleading of the nineteenth century was introduced. But special pleading has no respect to facts, to authority, or testimony, or anything except to make a case. It never examines any Scripture with a view simply to ascertaining the meaning of it.
What does our Lord mean by being "born again?" This evidently includes the entire process of turning to God, or, which is the same, conversion. It includes the entire matter of induction into the kingdom of God. The phrase, "born of water and of the Spirit," includes the same, but is a little fuller statement of the same thing. One thing, however, is clear, and that is, that whatever is included in the words, "born of water and of the Spirit," must go before entering into the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, here, is the body of Christ, or the Church of God. Entering into it is not the same thing as remission of sins; yet none enter into the kingdom of God who are not pardoned, or who do not obtain remission of sins. When we learn how a man gets into the kingdom of God, we learn how he obtains remission of sins; for the same process brings a man into the kingdom and to the remission of sins, and none enter into the kingdom that do not obtain remission of sins. When the Lord says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God," he virtually says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not" obtain remission of sins; for he can not obtain remission of sins without entering into the kingdom of God.
Whatever may be argued beside, when Peter says: or really turned them in heart, and the repentance prepared them in life to turn, or really turned them in life; nothing remained but the visible act in which a man gives himself to God, or turns to God. The visible act in which the penitent believer turns to God, gives himself, or vows allegiance to God, is immersion into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is the closing act, the completing point, the conclusion of the process, the birth of the child that brings it into the new state, into the new kingdom and into the heavenly family. This process is in order to the remission of sins, or salvation from sins. It is the turning-point. From this time forward he is held responsible as a member of the body, a child of God and a citizen of the kingdom. The baptism is the dividing line between the old and new life, between the Church and the world, between the converted and unconverted state. The life before his immersion is all passed by, and left out of view; and if the life from his immersion forward is all right, all is well so far as character or life is concerned. This is clear from many Scriptures.
The immersion is referred to as the turning-point. It is at the time of the immersion the relation is changed. The children of Israel were "all immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." They did not come into Moses first, and then be immersed in Moses, but they were all immersed into Moses. The immersion was not an institution in Moses, for the observance of the disciples of Moses, but the appointment of God by which they were brought into Moses. There was but one immersion into Moses, as they entered into Moses but once. "So many of us as have been immersed into Jesus Christ, have put on Christ." We do not come into Christ first, and then be immersed in Christ, as an item of Christian practice in Christ. No one who was in Christ was immersed, but those not in Christ were immersed into Christ. It was then that they put him on, or took him to be their Leader, or Head. Here, too, they came to pardon, or remission of sins, when they came into Christ, or were immersed into Christ. All in Christ are pardoned, or have received remission of sins.
We are all immersed into one body. We do not come into the body first, and then be immersed in the body. There is no account of any in the body being immersed, or any one being immersed in the body. There is no such an institution as immersion in the body. Those in the body had been immersed into it, but none were ever immersed after they were in the body. When they were immersed into one body, they were done with immersion, and had no more to do with it forever. It is not a "Church ordinance," but the initiatory rite, or the act in which we are transferred into one body, and consequently to the remission of sins. It is not the act of a member of the body, but the act of one becoming a member of the body. This is the reason we are never immersed but once; we never enter into Christ, into the body, or become a member of the body but once. This is too clear to need further argument.
Paul commands: "Husbands, love your, wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." The "washing of water" here is baptism, as all the authorities of any note admit, and "cleanse" is undoubtedly remission of sins. It is "by the word." What does this mean? The word is from the Spirit; the Spirit is from Christ; Christ is from God. The whole, then, is from God, who gave Christ, and from Christ, who loved the Church and gave himself for it and from the Spirit, who, through the apostles, spoke the word, and thus directed them to the water, or to immersion, that they might be sanctified or set apart to the service of God, and cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and thus introduced into the heavenly family. They were not sanctified and cleansed first, and then washed in water, but sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word. Here, again, the "washing with water" stands connected with sanctifying and cleansing, or the remission of sins, and there is no escape from it, nor any reason that any man who intends that the Lord shall guide him should try to evade it. But some one fears that, according to this, our "salvation is of works! No one need fear this, for Paul says: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit."--See Titus iii. 5. Several items of great importance may be gathered from this.
1. That it is God that saves us.
2. That it is not by works of righteousness which we have done.
3. That it is according to his mercy.
4. That it is being justified by his grace.
5. That it is by the washing of regeneration.
That the "washing of regeneration," here, is baptism, is the almost unanimous sense of all the authorities worth consulting. When God then saves us, pardons or justifies us, by his grace, according to his mercy, and "not by works of righteousness which we have done," it is by baptism, immersion, or the washing of regeneration. The baptism is not in the way of his grace, his mercy, or of saving us without works. But, according to this Scripture, when God, saves us, according to his mercy, justifies us by grace, and not by works, he does it "by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit." This Scripture teaches us how this renewing can be by the Holy Spirit, according to his mercy, all of God, justification by grace, and not of works, and yet "by the washing of regeneration," or baptism.
Whole bottles of ink have been written up, and tons of paper used, in showing that justification is by grace, and not of works, with no higher or more worthy object in view than trying to hoodwink the people and deceive them with the idea that if God saves a man, does it according to his mercy, justifies him by grace, and not by works, it is not by baptism; yet here is the very connection in which we are informed that God saves us according to his mercy, justifies us by grace, and without works--we are informed that it is "by the washing of regeneration," or, which is the same, by baptism. In whatever sense a man may take that Scriptural, he can not take it that "saves us, by the washing of regeneration, or by baptism, means saves us, without the washing of regeneration, or baptism. Yet such is precisely the meaning of much of the sophistry we have on this subject.
It is not a question about making much of baptism, or little of it, but about submitting to it in its proper place, or setting it aside entirely. Which shall be done? Shall it be maintained as a positive divine institution, the initiatory rite into the body of Christ, the consummating act in coming to God, or an unmeaning ceremony to be practiced by Christians? It is certainly not an item in the practice of one in Christ, or in the body, or a member of the body. We find no account of any one who was already in Christ being baptized, or any one being baptized after such an one was in Christ. It was not a thing done after persons were in the body, but on coming into the body. Hence we find the following expressions: "Lest any should say I had immersed into my own name;" "Into what then were you immersed?" "They were immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus;" "Immersed into one body;" "Immersed into Christ;" "Immersing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
It is connected with salvation, justification or pardon. "He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved." "Repent, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." He "sanctified and cleansed it with the washing of water by the word." He "saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit." "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
We find immersion always connected with turning to God. On Pentecost, as many as gladly received the word were immersed, and the same day there were about three thousand souls added to them. In Samaria the believers were immersed. When the gospel came to the Gentiles, as many as turned to the Lord were immersed. When the Ethiopian. officer received the gospel, he was immersed. When Saul of Tarsus believed on Christ, be was immersed. When Lydia and the Philippian jailer received the word, they were immersed. Not one came into the Church without immersion in the apostolic age. It was not an item in the worship, or the practice in the Church, but an item in coming into the Church.
Was it connected with faith? It certainly was; for he who comes to God must believe;" "Without faith it is impossible to please Him;" "Whatever is not of faith is sin;" "He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved;" If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest," said Philip--that is, you may be immersed; "Simon himself also believed and was immersed." Thus we see it is connected with faith, and not for any human beings without faith, no matter whether infants or adults. Disconnected with faith, or without faith, it is the empty ceremony some would represent it to be. Nor is it for the impenitent. The commandment is: "Repent, and be immersed," and the immersion without the repentance would be perfectly empty and idle. The probability, however, is that but few impenitent persons come to immersion. Such persons are much more liable to stand off and sneer at it. If they are present when it is administered, they may be seen generally pretty well back in the assembly, or on some eminence, and if not sneering and ridiculing, looking on with contempt. They look on it as it simple thing. Indeed, it must so appear to all persons without faith. It is perfectly meaningless to a man without faith.
In the nature of the case, there must be some way by which man can come and have assurance of his acceptance with God. That assurance must come from God in some shape. It must be a revelation--it must, in some way, reveal to us that we are accepted or pardoned; it must be, in old revelation, or a new one; it must be a revelation in the Bible, or one not in it. Does God make any revelations now, or does he make any new revelations? Mormons claim. that he does; Papists claim that he does; all Protestants deny this. Does God now make any revelations of any sort? Are there next thing lying before them and commanded them to "Repent, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Where is the evidence of acceptance here? In the promise of God--in the words, "and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." To whom does that promise apply? To believers, who are pierced in their hearts, repent and are immersed. Put this and the words in the commission, "shall be saved," together, and you have evidence from God of acceptance, not from a pretended new revelation, or some impulse immediately from God, but the reliable and final revelation from God, made and confirmed eighteen hundred years ago, not one promise of which ever failed. Put this immutable promise, confirmed by the oath of God, along side of an impression, a sensation, an emotion, a sound, sight, or dream, such as thousands in, our day are taking for evidence of pardon, or acceptance with God, and you have the contrast.
Is it possible to call men back to the revelation from God, to the religion of Christ itself, to the gospel of the grace of God? Or are the people of our day abandoned of God and given over to delusion? Is it possible that the people would rather be under the influence of the visionary, doubtful and uncertain, than the clear, authoritative and immutable revelation from God and his unfailing promise? Those who come to their reason, and hear the Lord, will live, and those who turn away from him will be lost.