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devour the adversaries.” One short sentence describes it with amazing vividness : “ Our God is a consuming fire." _ 2. As there is light in fire, there is always wisdom in God's destructions. But since this is so rarely the case in man's ruinous, work, we are more impressed with God's wisdom when he creates and constructs. In creation the Author of all first reveals himself, that he is, and what he is. In creating things and thinkers, he creates thoughts. Light, gently and softly diffusive, seems itself endowed with creative power, carpeting the fields, swelling the buds upon the trees, and waking the birds to song. Light is thus a fit emblem of the wisdom of Him " who dwelleth in light inaccessible.” There is thus figure as well as fact in the record of the first creation. “Let there be light, and light was;" for then God's wisdom appeared. There can be nothing unholy in perfect wisdom. “God is light” means not only, God is the source of all knowledge, but also, God is all pure. " In him is light and no darkness at all." “ God is light."
3. If God exercises his power, not in destruction nor creation, but in attraction, we lose sight of the power and the wisdom-we can only see the love. It is hard to find a ready symbol of this undeserved exercise of God's power. He seems to have created his own imagery in the blood of sacrifices ; and, no longer in a figure, sets forth his unsearchable love in the blood of Jesus Christ his Son." God is not only fire and light, but fire, light, and love. He who was nearest the Son says of the Father, “ God is love."
4. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Christ reveals God's character. Only in two of his miracles does he show us “ the consuming fire.” His own words and the sayings of others speak more plainly than his works. “ He shall baptize with fire,” “He shall throughly purge his floor, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire,” are John's prophecies of him. He speaks of himself as coming to judge, condemn, and execute judgment, and as “ destroying the works of the devil.” In the Apocalypse we have the most varied representations of his destructive power. The unveiling of God's wisdom is more evident in him who was “ that Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Christ's Divine wisdom shone in all his teachings. The Samaritan woman expected Christ would tell her all things; and so he did. This light is especially creative. Immediately after the apostle describes him as the Maker of all things, he calls him “ the Light.” “ If any man be in Christ, there is a new creation.” He “is made unto us wisdom, both justification and sanctification, and redemption." By the white light of his wisdom there is shed on the regenerate soul the primary blessings of pardon, purity, and salvation. Such results of his wisdom show the Divine love, since “ God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” The life and death of Christ is the strongest proof of, and clearest testimony to, the love of God. Whatever affection “ the Master” showed is not merely a reflection of God's, but actually like God's and equal to God's. “ Greater love hath none than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” “I am the good Shepherd, that layeth down his life for the sheep."
5. These three characteristics are in a degree displayed by the apostles. Take the very different persons of Paul and John as examples. There can be no mistake about the fiery energy of Paul. As a Pharisee fire was predominant in his spirit. It was not extinguished in the apostle who displayed a sacred, burning wrath against evil. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.” Though he did not teach in “ words of man's wisdom,” he spake with “ demonstration of the Spirit ;” and the mystery of the Gospel was largely unfolded by him, who could bring it to bear so practically on the lives of men. This energetic man, who wrote so luminously at times, was not without feelings. His emotions are wonderful for their strength. His love suffuses all he says, it lies over his letters like the early sunlight on the “ dewy grass ;" so that when you close one of his pamphlets, you feel, next to Christ's love, how Paul “ longs after them in the Lord.”
John is usually spoken of as gentle; so that it seems strange he should have been selected to behold and write the most fearful depictions of Divine wrath the Scriptures contain ; but he was not without this holy temper. Witness the way in which he speaks of the Jews and Judas. We should say, “If any man profess to love God and hate his brother, he is labouring under a most unfortunate mistake." John says, in words that burn, “He is a liar.” John, too, is a great teacher; greater than Paul: he stands next to Christ himself. His mother's prayer is in part answered, and one of the sons of Zebedee does sit at the right hand of the great Teacher. His words have inexhaustible meaning: they are simple as child-speech; they are clear as a mountain-stream; and they are deep as the deep sea. They will bear thought and over-thought, and then have more truth to give. John had, indeed," received of Christ's fulness," and his writings are full of light. And through all these breathes the spirit of love. He seems to have caught the heart and mind of Christ. The apostle knew it, Christ acknowledged it, and Mary experienced it. He was “ that disciple whom Jesus loved,” that “leant upon his bosom,” and that took the Saviour's mother “ to his own home."
6. These three characteristics vary in their proportionate manifestations ; but, as a rule, love is predominant. God is fire, destroying the disobedient; he is light, teaching the ignorant; and he is love, drawing the believer to himself. As in nature, it is not the burning fires at the earth's centre, nor the dark soil busily building up the plants through the roots, that God shows us, but the wavy grass, and purple heather, and sweet flowers, so in revelation, not the fire, not the creative light, but gentle beautiful love, covers all. God is love. The same remark is true of Christ. There is no fiction in his two-edged sword. There is nothing unreal and illusive in his words. He turns back the veil, and opens to our vision things that are new. Yet these are lost sight of when he cures the sick, blesses the weary, comforts the sad, and dies for the sinful. The sound of his “ Woe! woe!” the “ Verily, verily,” are lost in the music of his call, “Come unto me." This is the most evident impression left on the minds of children by Christian teaching—that Christ loves them (would that manhood, womanhood, and age, never lost it!) They forget his anger and his wisdom; they sing heartily of his love.
“ One is kind above all others :
Oh, how He loves!” And that they are right is shown in the only repeated sacrament we celebratein the memorials of the Saviour's dying love.
7. Amongst the many invisible powers of attraction, love is the highest. Where love is there must be life. Because Christ is love, he is also “ the Life.” “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” From him, by means of his love waking ours, we have life. The devil never loves, and his life is really death. The Saviour always loves, and his death becomes our life.
« Love is life's only sign,
As man embraced, as God adored.” This leads us to the very common, but very useful remark, that whatever fire, light, and love, the apostles had, it did not spring from within them, but was given from without. They waited at Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high; and when the Holy Ghost descended on them, it was in the symbol of power-in cloven tongues of fire. Like "the man clothed with
linen," in the vision of Ezekiel, they received coals of fire from Him that sitteth amongst the cherubim, to scatter over the disobedient. They rebuked covetous liars, that they died, and the sorcerer, that he lost his sight, and delivered men to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme. Crowned with fire from on high, they could revenge all disobedience, and had in hand “weapons mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." Their wisdom also was " from above." It was not so much reflected off them as refracted through them. They received God's wisdom as the clouds receive the sunlight : they were filled with it. They had å "single eye" to the Divine glory, and their whole spirit was "full" of the Divine light. “God shined into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." By heavenly grace, they were not only instructed, but also sanctified ; nor could they have been “shining lights," to bring glory to the “Father in heaven," unless they showed "good works,” as well as spoke “ good words;" for they were to "hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience," and the “wisdom from above is first pure." This was all derived. “In Christ was life, and the life was the light of men.” Their love also found its source in God. Love is so very personal, we might have thought it underived, intuitive; but man is so depraved, that love in him must needs be quickened by love in God. God is the attractive power, not man. He, in Christ, draws all men to him, and imparts to them the spirit of brotherly love, and strengthens it where it already exists. “Not that we first loved God, but that he loved us." "He that loveth God let him love his brother also."
8. The practical direction of these thoughts is very simple. One does well sometimes to be angry. The sultry day needs the lightning, and after lightning there is freshness. The plague-stricken city is blessed by the fire, and after the fire there is health. Sin must be burned out: nothing but caustic will do for proud flesh. The wise man does not shun plain consuming words against evil. When wrong is to be done away the tongue must be “set on fire” of Heaven. Wisdom is creative. Hast thou knowledge ? then have it not to thyself alone; set it at once to active labour, teaching others and purifying thyself; 80 shall thy “zeal” against sin not be “without knowledge,” and thy wisdom be a light round about. Love is to be shed over all and through all. Sin must be reproved in love to the sinner, and truth "spoken in love." Nor can we be Christlike, unless with fire and light we have also love. “Though I have the power to prophesy, and understand all knowledge, and have not love, I am nothing."
Since the apostles received all from above, we must look to the same source. Christ alone can inspire us with these sentiments. Sin is most hateful when seen by the Cross. Wisdom is brightest in Jesus, who bears witness to the truth. Love is most attractive in the sacrifice of Christ. If any man " names the name of Jesus," he must “ depart from evil.” If any man receive his words, “ they are spirit and life” to him. If we remember his “broken body" and “spilt blood,” we learn to love him who “died and rose again for us." When the feathery cloud lies on the mountain's breast, spreading its white arms round it as if in a fond embrace, it is not the cloud that has drawn the mountain, but the mountain the cloud. And if feeble man, whose life is but a vapour, would “ lie within the light of God, as on a mother's breast,” he must look to God in Christ, and not to himself; and he shall be filled from the fulness of fire, light, and love. God's greatness might deter us, his holy wrath amaze us, his wondrous wisdom dazzle and blind us; but his love is predominant, and draws us, “casting out fear ;" so that we can come in confidence like Job, and say, “ Will he plead against me with his power ? No, but he would put strength in me.”
THE RE-BAPTISM OF THE TWELVE DISCIPLES AT
BY THE REV. W. BONTEMS.
“Unto what then were ye baptized ?"-Acts xix. 3. The persons to whom, and the circum- be now, two modes of baptism ; but their stances under which, this question was put creed was defective, not the creed of the by the Apostle Paul, are sufficiently de- baptizer or the sponsors, but the important scribed to enable the attentive reader to point was that the creed of the baptized see the bearing and force of the question was not in the proper sense of the term a thus addressed.
Christian creed, and their baptism was not The persons are called disciples, which å Christian baptisın. If a defective creed term, when standing alone in the New invalidated their baptism, much more, as Testament, generally, if not always, sig must have been the case with infants, the nifies disciples of Christ. In this case absence of any creed at all. If the right it is applied to men who were very defec belief must be held at the time of baptism, tive in their knowledge of Christian facts so that the baptism must be the expression and doctrines, having received their in and profession of the belief, the act of structions from disciples of John who had baptism in the absence of any knowledge not advanced with the times in the direc or belief whatever must be an idle and tion pointed out by the faithful and de
senseless ceremony. voted friend and forerunner of his Lord. The only plausible reply to this argu
They had, however, been baptized, and | ment that I can conceive, must take as its their baptism, as in every instance found ground the creed and profession of the in Scripture, was a profession of their administrator, and maintain that if the faith ; and the point to which I wish now person who baptized held the Christian to direct attention is, that the baptism doctrine, it matters not what is the case which was found on the reception of fur- with the person who is baptized, whether ther light not to have been the profession he has a false creed or no creed at all. of the Christian faith, was not considered If any really Christian people held these Christian baptism ; and that it was deemed views and would use such pleas, I would necessary to receive baptism after a due reply that in the New Testament baptism knowledge of Christian doctrine, so that is always the profession of the faith of the the baptism should be the profession of parties baptized - that in this instance the faith of the baptized at the time of the correction consisted in the instruction their baptism. If this be the reason for of the subjects of baptism-and that the the re-baptism-and that it is the reason I knowledge and belief had to precede the think is as clear as the language of the baptism which was the profession of them. historian, taken in connection with the The change required to make them the whole circumstances, can make it—then we proper subjects of Christian baptism have a proof quite sufficiently strong and was not in the administrator but in the clear to decide the question so often dis subjects themselves. Neither was it sufficussed respecting the design and subjects cient that the subjects should regard the of baptism. This case would be decisive, act of baptism as already performed, and even if it stood alone ; but when it is found then carry back their reformed creed, and to agree with all other Scriptures on the in imagination append it to the previous subject, assurance is made doubly sure. act of baptism; but the act was to be
The conclusiveness of the argument de performed after the subjects had become rived from the facts before us against Christians in belief, or the baptism was not pædo-baptism, will appear if we consider Christian baptism. I dwell the more the course adopted to render the baptism emphatically on this point, because I am of these disciples valid as a Christian rite. convinced that, when duly considered, it Here were men who, as a profession of their will appear quite conclusive against the faith, had been baptized. There was no prevailing notions that baptism is an act to objection to the mode of their baptism; be performed by others upon subjects who indeed, there were not then, as there cannot l are unconscious of its performance, and
that the subjects may be satisfied by re. clare the mischievous falsehood of such a ferring back to the act which they are told baptism. was performed in their infancy, and append. Some of you, however, could reply, in ing to that act the faith afterwards obtained. the language of Paul, we “ were baptized Let the baptism be considered as the into Christ," we “put on Christ by bapprofession of the faith held at the time tism,” we " were baptized unto his death." by those who are baptized, and all is rea. Therefore“ we were buried with him by sonable, clear, and consistent; but on any baptism unto his death, that like as Christ other theory, this portion of Scripture, and was raised up from the dead by the glory indeed all the teachings of the word of of the Father, even so we also should walk God on the subject, are confused and con- in newness of life.” You can say with tradictory beyond hope of reconciliation. Peter, our baptiem was “the answer of a
Let us now consider the question which good conscience towards God.” Paul addressed to these disciples as one Now to such we would say, let the act of that may be reasonably addressed to any your baptism, and the meaning of it, be and all of us who have been baptized : often called to remembrance. By such “Unto what then were ye baptized ?" | a baptism you are pledged to the doctrines And the answer in many cases, if honestly 1 of the Gospel, are dedicated to the service given, must be in substance something of Christ. # Ye are not your own." You like this : Truly we do not know. Indeed, have presented yourselves “as living sacrifor ourselves, we were baptized without fices, holy and acceptable unto God, which aim or object, as we were altogether is your reasonable service." Such a bappassive in the matter, and should not have tism has a meaning, a Scriptural sanction, known that we were baptized if we had and a beneficial influence upon the heart not been afterwards informed by others of and life. Do not forget it when tempted the fact. If there were any design or to be careless, inconsistent, disobedient; belief in the case we were not parties to it; ask the question, “Unto what then were and if you wish to know unto “what we ye baptized ? ” And that question, duly were baptized,” you must ask our fathers considered, will quicken you in the Chrisand mothers, godfathers and godmothers, tian course. grandfathers or grandmothers, or whoever It is such a baptism as this that we are were the agents in procuring or performing now about to administer. our baptism.- Or perhaps you will refer to Our friends profess to believe in their the person who administered the rite, and guilt and depravity in the sight of God. he will tell you, either that you were They profess to be sorry for their sin, and baptized into a sort of general notion that to believe in the forgiveness of sin for the it is the proper thing to be done in a sake of Jesus Christ. They profess to have Christian country, unless you would live committed themselves to Christ for salvalike a heathen, and be buried like a dog, tion, and to place themselves under his or that one or both of your parents being direction. They profess to believe in the Christian people, you have a right to efficacy of his atonement and intercession. baptism as a seal of the covenant into They wish to be “ found in him "_"to which all the children of such parents are put on Christ”-“to be baptized unto his entitled to enter.–Or it may be, as indeed | death”- to love him and keep his comis the case in the majority of instances, mandments. If any one should ask them that you were baptized unto the doctrine afterwards, “ Unto what then were ye bapthat“ in your baptism you were made tized ? " they will, I trust, be able to give a member of Christ, a child of God, and “a reason for the faith that is in them.” an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” And I appeal to all present to apply the It was into this that I was 'baptized, question to their own case, and not to rest and well would it be if you and I could satisfied until the answer, conscientiously make those who thus baptized us prove given, is one that will stand the test of all the truth of their words. But, alas! reason, and accord with the teaching of Scripture and common sense alike de- ! the word of God.