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There is a remarkable coincidence between the preaching of John the Baptist, and the doctrine of Jesus Christ's gospel, as expressed by Jesus in his declaration to Nicodemus. "Ye MUST [imperatively, not, if you shall not Arminiously] be born from above." And John said to the Jews, of the coming Lord, "He SHALL [imperatively] baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." QueryIs not kai puri, better rendered by the phrase even fire, than by the phrase and with fire? I shall decide that it is. And I must farther give it as my sober conviction, that the phrase, "the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire," puri asbesto, must be referred in a necessary and direct relation to the kai puri, that operates in a direct relation by the pneumati agio, Holy Spirit. Hence the declaration" Our God is a consuming fire." Kai gar o Theos emon pur katanaliskon." Paul's use of this phrase is appropriate " Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably [How?] with reverence and [not a slavish, or an orthodox, but a] godly fear: for [kai gar, &c.] our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. xii. 28, 29.) In this translation the word is, is a supply; the indefinite article a, is introduced as implied; kai, which, in Luke iii. 16, is rendered and with, is here forgotten; and the translation commences with gar, because, or, for, o The emon, our God is a consuming fire; pur katanaliskon. Sometimes a blind guide will inform us, with much solemnity, "That God out of Christ is a consuming fire!" But it appears from Paul, John, and Jesus Christ, that God in Christ, is a consuming fire. Reader, "God is Love ;" and God is in Christ reconciling the kosmos, world, unto himself-Does it not therefore follow, that the fire and the love, are one and the same? One thing is certain, inspired writers have used these two terms in a relation to the Deity, as strictly convertible. Kai, may be rendered and, also, even, etc. But we have testimony still more explicit. A prophet, predicting the coming, or
opportunity to add another argument in support of the truth; and illustrative of the harmony of the Gospel of Christ, which is like a building fitly framed, all the parts meeting in a symmetrical union. See Titus ii. "Purify unto himself a peculiar people," &c. In the original katharise. Thus katharos, pure, clean, bright. Katharsis, a cleansing, a purification. Also, Heb. i. 3, " purged our sins ;" katharismon. The affinity in the signification of legitimate terms, is evidence of the relation existing in the roots of the terms.
appearance of the Lord Jesus, inquires, "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand [what tree shall resist the axe] when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap." (Mal. iii. 2.) The refiner's fire destroys all dross and impurity, and makes the silver pure. The fuller's soap cleanses the garment, and removes every spot. The figure is sublimely expressive; and full to the point, too; for the refiner does not refine himself by the action of his fire, suffering vicariously in the stead of the impure metal-neither does the fuller apply the soap to his own person-and neither the refiner nor the fuller, impute their own qualities to the impure articles, leaving them in their impure state. No, it was left to orthodox wisdom to make this wonderful discovery! I wonder what new contrivance they will make next, and patent in the archives of dogmatism!
Behold Paul's motive and morality: For the reason that Paul received a kingdom that could not be moved, that is sure, he was desirous of that grace or favour which would enable him to serve God with reverence, and a godly fear; that is, a fear which is in its character proper, and in perfect harmony with the God of love, who had given Paul assurance of a kingdom which cannot be moved. Now the reason why this kingdom is so sure and certain, is, gar, because, even our God is a consuming fire. All opposers of this kingdom shall be consumed. Every tree shall be levelled with the dust. The genera tion of vipers shall be baptized in, or, by the Holy Spirit, even fire!
I will inquire, whether John's morality is similar to Paul's? We learn that when John had told the people that every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire, that the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?" Now, reader, John is about to preach morality to the people-that is, in the parlance of our day, an Arminian sermon; and tell the people, the "generation of vipers," what they must do, to escape from an eternal Hell; an Arminian prisonhouse.
You must go to church regularly, and observe all the ordinances that are commanded by your preacher and his deacons, and the elders of the church. You must believe so, and so, and so. You must pull your purse out, and contribute liberally to save the souls of the poor blind hea
then, who are dropping into Hell by millions, for want of money to save them:
What! Did John preach to the people in old times, precisely as our modern orthodox clergymen preach, and say all those things?
No, reader, my conscience will not let me slander John so cruelly. He never said a word of it. Do you think John would preach such doctrine? No, not even to "a generation of vipers." When the wicked people asked John what they should do then? that is, in reference to the truths he had proclaimed to them-for John had told them to repent; or had preached to them "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;" therefore John replies to their interrogatory as follows:-"He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Reader, I ask you, was not John somewhat singular in his way of saving souls? Who ever heard of giving a sinner a secondhand-coat, and a good hearty meal of victuals, to prevent his soul from going to a future, and an endless Hell! I cannot help suspecting, that John considered the bodies of men to stand in greater need of salvation, by the aid of their fellows, than their souls. At all events, it is pretty certain, that John thought it expedient to look after the bodies first.
Here come a number of publicans, the odious tax gatherers; men who would sometimes extort unrighteously from their fellows, on pretence of collecting the sums due from the citizens to the State. If John don't send some of these vile characters to Hell, he will stand no chance in the orthodox church. And they, too, inquire of John, saying, "Master, what shall we do?" What an excellent opportunity John now has, to levy a contribution!
Well, did John wisely improve his opportunity, and make the publicans disgorge some of their ill-gotten gains?
No, reader, John appears to have let every chance slip. He merely said to them, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you."
Now, reader, the soldiers are coming: Who would have imagined so strange a thing! Soldiers, men whose trade is shedding of blood. Even these have come to John; incited, no doubt, by his terribly alarming sermons. What do you think, reader, will John say to these men, these blood-thirsty sinners? And they, these wick
ed soldiers, "demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?" Now there is a chance for a little orthodoxy. These soldiers are no better than "the generation of vipers." But John replies to them, saying, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
Why, that is precisely what the Quakers preach. No, reader, not exactly; for they would say, Sell, or destroy your weapons, and quit this wicked calling. However, if they do as John has advised, they will kill nobody.
We are next informed, that John addressed the people, indiscriminately, saying unto them all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
There are two particulars, deserving our attention. First-John's humility, in limiting his own power and efficiency. Second-The efficiency that John affirmed should characterize the ministry and work of Jesus, his Divine Master.
First-The humility of John, is exhibited in a striking contrast with the arrogant, not to say impious, pretensions of modern sectarians. What were John's pretensions, as founded on a Divine appointment of him to the work of preaching to the Jews, of the coming Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom, the kingdom of grace, the kingdom of God, or heaven, in the stead of the Jewish rituals? Answer, Jesus testified of John, that "he was a burning and a shining light." (John v. 35.) "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." (Matt. xi. 13, 14.) Notwithstanding John's credentials, the predicted of the prophets, specially appointed and called of God, as the forerunner of the Lord Jesus, we learn of John that he considered himself as not worthy to loose the latchet of the shoes of the coming Messiah. Also, that he pretended to no power or efficiency as a worker of the salvation of souls. No. John spoke of himself, as possessing no efficiency. But John was authorized, so far as credentials from Heaven can authorize a man, to assume a greater latitude of construction than our modern pretenders can assume, under any colour of authority from on High.
Second-Of the efficiency that John affirmed should attend, or characterize the ministry of the Lord Jesus the
Son of God, and his works, there can be no room for mistake. For John is explicit in his declaration of the coming Lord, that he should baptize men with "the Holy Spirit even fire." Also, that he should "thoroughly purge his floor;" not by, or through the instrumentality, aid, and co-operation of men, who pretend to be soul-savers, but that "he will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Not, that the chaff is wicked men, and a future Hell shall burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The reader has noticed, I presume, my substituting the word Spirit for Ghost. I will assign a reason for this. Lexicographers say, of the signification of the term Ghost, as follows: "The soul of a man; a spirit appearing after death; the third person in the adorable Trinity." A strange definition. For, first, the spirit of a man never appears after death. Second, the adorable Trinity is a human contrivance-a thing manufactured by men, and neither known nor recognised in any shape in the Scriptures. The term Ghost, therefore, is a term that has been manufactured out of pure love to superstition; and to accommodate men. Query-Will Christ baptize men with the Holy soul of man? Why render pneuma Spirit, in one place, and Ghost in another? How will it sound to say, that which is born of the Ghost is Ghost, instead of saying, that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit? Or, the Lord is that Ghost, instead of the Lord is that Spirit? It is high time that these ridiculous contrivances of error or superstition should be exploded, and truth and common sense tolerated in their stead.
Reader, can you discover any morality in John's preaching, which resembles modern dogmas, and sectarian refinement? I think not. Can you find any thing in John's preaching, which harmonizes with truth, reason, and common sense? I am of opinion that you can find nothing that disagrees with either of the three things mentioned. Consider John's morality: He taught the Christian virtues. Give clothing to those who need it. Also, food to those who need it. Also, to abstain from doing wrong to your fellow-man, in any way or shape. In a word"To cease to do evil, and learn to do well." This is the morality of the Scriptures. This conduct, of abstaining from injuring our fellow-men, and aiding them, by administering to their temporal wants, their necessities, while in the flesh, is the morality of the Scriptures; and is, em