Elders’ Journal, October 1837

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
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my letter to you, as the subject of religion is one infinitely more important than any other, of which we can speak, & one in which all are, or ought to be concerned, so it demands our most serious consideration, and as there is a diversity of opinions upon this subject I am solicitous to examine the evidence for the faith of others being always ready myself to give a reason of the hope that is within me. Although I am under the necessity from the venoration I have for the ancient gospel & apostolic order of the church of dissenting from you upon some cardinal points, briefly noticed by you in the discourse referred to, yet it is with the best of feelings I take my pen to notice them, you quoted mark 16; 17, “these signs shall follow them that believe” * * expressed your surprise that any man would maintain that these should follow the believer, he at the same time professing to believe & acknowledging the signs do not follow him. Perhaps, I too might censure such a man for his inconsistency, if I had not met with so many who profess to believe the gospel, but when required to acknowledge its precepts, would rather deny its validity. But what were they required to believe, or what did those believe who the signs did follow: They credited and acknowledged there, the testimony of the apostles concerning the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus of Nazereth, they also believed, if they repented and were baptised for the remission of sins they would receive the gift of the holy Spirit.
The Jews at Jerusalem on the day of pentecost, evidently understood what they were to receive, as there was but one holy Spirit, they had nothing else to expect but the same which was shed forth upon the apostles and which they saw and heard. The Samaritans received the same Acts 8: 17, as did also the twelve disciples at Ephesus, Acts 19; 6, through laying on of Pauls hands. The same fell upon the house of Cornelius even as upon the apostles at the first. (day of pentecost) and it produces the same affects. This was that Spirit which God said by the mouth of the prophet Joel, he would pour out upon all flesh in the last days. It was the same by which, the prophet Agabus predicted the death which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, and testified to Paul that the Jews would bind him at Jerusalem.
It was the same also in which Philip was caught away from the Eunuch to Azotas, and it was the same into which the whole primitive church was baptised and no other Spirit of God or holy Spirit is known in the new testament. Can we then regard him a believer in the ancient gospel who does not believe as the ancients did, and are not those who believe they must receive the holy Spirit before they are worthy of baptism, and those who believe it subsequent to it, but something different from that which the first christians received equally unbelievers, with those who do not believe the holy Spirit is for any, in our day? But if it can be proven that the promise of the holy Spirit is no part of the gospel, then I must admit there may be believers in it in the nineteenth century, who do not believe as the first disciples did. In the days of the apostles baptism was for remission of sins, the laying on of hands was for the gift of the holy Spirit, and the elcharist was to show forth the Lords death till he come. If baptism is now for remission why not the laying on of hands for the gift of the Spirit but if we can obtain the Spirit without the laying on hands, why not obtain remission without baptism? Paul in enumerating the principles of the doctrine of Christ in the sixth of Heb. places amongst them the imposition of hands. Faith, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the holy Spirit, with signs following those who believe, was then the gospel which the apostles preached, of which Paul said, if we or an angel from heaven preach any other, let him be accursed. But you said there had been no miracles since the days of the apostles, I think this sentence must inadvertantly escaped from your lips, as it can be shown from good authority that miracles did not cease in the first century and even Mr. although diametrically opposed to the continuance of miracles, admits they did not wholy disappear with the apostles. You very briefly noticed the subject of spiritual gifts, as they appeared in the first christian church.
Those gifts you said, had now disappeared for the reason that the purpose or end for which they were given [p. 10]
my letter to you, as the subject of religion is one infinitely more important than any other, of which we can speak, & one in which all are, or ought to be concerned, so it demands our most serious consideration, and as there is a diversity of opinions upon this subject I am solicitous to examine the evidence for the faith of others being always ready myself to give a reason of the hope that is within me. Although I am under the necessity from the venoration I have for the ancient gospel & apostolic order of the church of dissenting from you upon some cardinal points, briefly noticed by you in the discourse referred to, yet it is with the best of feelings I take my pen to notice them, you quoted mark 16; 17, “these signs shall follow them that believe” * * expressed your surprise that any man would maintain that these should follow the believer, he at the same time professing to believe & acknowledging the signs do not follow him. Perhaps, I too might censure such a man for his inconsistency, if I had not met with so many who profess to believe the gospel, but when required to acknowledge its precepts, would rather deny its validity. But what were they required to believe, or what did those believe who the signs did follow: They credited and acknowledged there, the testimony of the apostles concerning the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus of Nazereth, they also believed, if they repented and were baptised for the remission of sins they would receive the gift of the holy Spirit.
The Jews at Jerusalem on the day of pentecost, evidently understood what they were to receive, as there was but one holy Spirit, they had nothing else to expect but the same which was shed forth upon the apostles and which they saw and heard. The Samaritans received the same Acts 8: 17, as did also the twelve disciples at Ephesus, Acts 19; 6, through laying on of Pauls hands. The same fell upon the house of Cornelius even as upon the apostles at the first. (day of pentecost) and it produces the same affects. This was that Spirit which God said by the mouth of the prophet Joel, he would pour out upon all flesh in the last days. It was the same by which, the prophet Agabus predicted the death which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, and testified to Paul that the Jews would bind him at Jerusalem.
It was the same also in which Philip was caught away from the Eunuch to Azotas, and it was the same into which the whole primitive church was baptised and no other Spirit of God or holy Spirit is known in the new testament. Can we then regard him a believer in the ancient gospel who does not believe as the ancients did, and are not those who believe they must receive the holy Spirit before they are worthy of baptism, and those who believe it subsequent to it, but something different from that which the first christians received equally unbelievers, with those who do not believe the holy Spirit is for any, in our day? But if it can be proven that the promise of the holy Spirit is no part of the gospel, then I must admit there may be believers in it in the nineteenth century, who do not believe as the first disciples did. In the days of the apostles baptism was for remission of sins, the laying on of hands was for the gift of the holy Spirit, and the elcharist was to show forth the Lords death till he come. If baptism is now for remission why not the laying on of hands for the gift of the Spirit but if we can obtain the Spirit without the laying on hands, why not obtain remission without baptism? Paul in enumerating the principles of the doctrine of Christ in the sixth of Heb. places amongst them the imposition of hands. Faith, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the holy Spirit, with signs following those who believe, was then the gospel which the apostles preached, of which Paul said, if we or an angel from heaven preach any other, let him be accursed. But you said there had been no miracles since the days of the apostles, I think this sentence must inadvertantly escaped from your lips, as it can be shown from good authority that miracles did not cease in the first century and even Mr. although diametrically opposed to the continuance of miracles, admits they did not wholy disappear with the apostles. You very briefly noticed the subject of spiritual gifts, as they appeared in the first christian church.
Those gifts you said, had now disappeared for the reason that the purpose or end for which they were given [p. 10]
Page 10