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It is not necessary to the support of this reasoning, to assert that the communication of miraculous gifts invariably accompanied baptism : it is quite sufficient to account for the language of John, as well as to sustain the inference deduced from it, that such was the stated order. The instance of the Samaritans recorded in the eighth of the Acts, is urged as an exception, but when attentively examined, it is none. We are informed, indeed, that though they were already baptized, “ the Holy Ghost was fallen upon none of them;" not, however, because the gift of the Spirit did not usually accompany the administration of that rite, but because the apostles, to whom alone the power of conferring it belonged, were not present. The case of the apostles themselves, and of Cornelius, it is admitted, may be considered as exceptions. In the former instance the outward ceremony was superseded, as we apprehend, partly by the previous baptism of the Spirit, and partly by their having been converted to christianity before the institution of that rite. In the latter, there was merely an inversion of the usual order: the Spirit was given prior to the administration of baptism, instead of succeeding it; but still they were closely conjoined in point of time, and sufficiently connected to justify the language of John.

To relieve the tediousness of the present discussion, let me here present the reader with a sample of the author's logic: “ If these supernatural effects,” he triumphantly remarks,“

are

invariably to follow immersion in water, in order to demonstrate that this is really christian baptism, how is it they were copiously enjoyed by some who are supposed never to have received this institution ?"* By an argument precisely similar, it were easy to demonstrate that the possession of reason is no essential ingredient in the constitution of human nature. For it might with equal propriety be urged, if such a principle enters necessarily into the definition of human nature, how is it that it is copiously enjoyed by beings (angels for example) who are supposed never to have received such a nature? This reply may be deemed amply sufficient for such a mode of reasoning: but in addition to this, let it be observed, that it was neither asserted nor insinuated, that miraculous gifts are invariably requisite to constitute christian baptism; but simply that the fact of their accompanying it, when performed by the apostles, was held up by John as a striking feature in the new dispensation. And where is the absurdity of admitting that, without contending for its perpetuity, miraculous gifts sufficiently marked the transition from one economy to another; or that it is a peculiarity worthy of mention among the characteristics of a period, denominated in distinction from every preceding one, the dispensation of the Spirit?

V. Apprehensive of fatiguing the attention of the reader, we hasten to the last particular connected

* Plea for Primitive Communion, p. 30.

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with this branch of the controversy, which is the decisive proof of the truth of my hypothesis, resulting from the fact, that the disciples of John were baptized by St. Paul. As the author of the Plea, however, finds it necessary to contradict it, it will be proper to quote the whole passage, as it stands in the common translation, the accuracy of which no critic has impeached :

“ And it came to pass, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus, and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized ? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied."* In examining this passage, with a view to the inquiry whether these men were baptized by St. Paul, or not, it is the fifth verse which especially claims our attention. The question turns entirely on the interpretation of the following words :—“ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of

* Acts xix. 1-6.

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the Lord Jesus.” These words must be understood either as the language of St. Paul, or of Luke the historian. Our opponents contend that they are to be understood as a continuance of St. Paul's address, in which he describes the nature and effects of John's baptism. Upon this interpretation the passage last quoted has no relation to the disciples at Ephesus, except as it was intended for their instruction; it is descriptive not of what befell those disciples, but of the general submission of the Jewish people to the rite administered by John. And as it is asserted in the next verse that St. Paul laid his hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, we are led to a most extraordinary paradox, the assertion that St. Paul actually laid his hands not on the persons mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, but on that part of the Jewish people at large, who had been baptized by John, to whom he also communicated prophetic gifts. But as this proposition is too hard even for the powerful digestion of our opponents, they are compelled to adopt another expedient, which is to separate the relative pronouns in the last verse, and refer them, not to their immediate antecedent, but to a very remote one, at the distance of several verses.

The only apology they make for this strange perversion of the language of inspiration is, that such interruptions of continuity are not uncommon, whereas we challenge them to produce a single instance of such a construction, not merely in the New Testament, but in the whole compass of Greek literature. Examples may possibly be adduced, where the relative pronoun is connected with an antecedent equally remote, but none most assuredly where its relation to an immediate antecedent is so obvious, and so natural, that the true interpretation in opposition to that which presents itself at first sight, becomes a perfect enigma. Were there difficulties arising on each side, we might be induced to acquiesce in a construction, which, however unnatural or unusual, suggested the only consistent sense; but to have recourse to such a contrivance merely to avoid that construction, which is recommended by every rule of grammar, and against which not a shadow of objection lies, except its repugnance to hypothesis, is a proceeding at which liberal criticism must blush. If such a mode of expounding scripture were adopted on other occasions, it is difficult to say what absurdity might not be obtruded on the sacred volume. The manner in which the author of the Plea criticises the passage is such as might be expected from the advocate of so hopeless a cause.

He neither ventures to quote it, nor to make the slightest remark on its principal clauses; but contents himself with putting a speech into the mouth of St. Paul, in which every thing runs perfectly smooth and easy; and since it is much easier to make speeches than to elucidate difficulties, or establish paradoxes, we commend his policy. His only remaining effort is confined to the introduction of a

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