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John the Baptist and Christ baptized. But now especially by this institution is it established as an ordinance to be upheld in the Christian church to the end of the world. The ordinance of the Lord's supper had been established just before Christ's crucifixion.
IV. The next thing is the enduing of the apostles, and others, with extraordinary and miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost; such as the gift of tongues, the gift of healing, of prophecy, &c. The Spirit of God was poured out abundantly in this respect; so that not only ministers, but a very great part of the Christians through the world were endued with them, both old and young; not only officers and more honorable persons, but servants and handmaids, agreeably to Joel's prophecy, ch. 2: 28, 29; of which the apostle Peter takes notice, that it is accomplished in this dispensation. Acts, 2:11.
How wonderful a dispensation was this! Under the Old Testament but few had such honor put upon them by God. Moses indeed wished that all the Lord's people were prophets, Numb. 11 : 29; whereas Joshua thought it much that Eldad and Medad prophesied. But now we find the wish of Moses fulfilled. And this continued in a very considerable degree to the end of the apostolic age, or the first hundred years after the birth of Christ, which is therefore called the age of miracles.
This was a great means of the success of the Gospel, and of establishing the Christian church, not only in that age, but in all ages to the end of the world. For Christianity being established through so great a part of the known world by miracles, it was after that more easily continued by tradition ;
and by means of these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, the apostles and others were enabled to write the New Testament, to be an infallible and perpetual rule of faith and practice to the church. And these miracles recorded in those writings are a standing proof of the truth of Christianity to all ages.
V. The next thing is the revealing of those glorious doctrines fully and plainly, which had under the Old Testanient been obscurely revealed. The doctrine of Christ's satisfaction and righteousness, his ascension and glory, and the way
of salvation, were, under the Old Testament, in a great measure hid under the vail of types and shadows, and more obscure revelations, as Moses put a vail on his face, to hide the shining of it; but now the vail of the temple is rent from the top to the bottom. Christ, the antitype of Moses, shines ; his face is without a vail. 2 Cor. 3 : 12, 13, and 18. Now these glorious mysteries, which were in a great measure kept secret from the foundation of the world, are clearly revealed. Eph. 3: 3-5. Rom. 16: 25. • According to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but is now made mani. fest.” Col. 1:26. “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to his saints."
Thus the Sun of righteousness, after it is risen, begins to shine forth clearly, and not by a dim reflection as before. Christ, before his death, revealed many things more clearly than ever they had been in the Old Testament; but the great mysteries of Christ's redemption, reconciliation by his death, and justification by his righteousness, were not so plainly revealed before Christ's resurrection. Christ gave
this reason for it, that he would not put new wine into old bottles; and it was gradually done even after his resurrection. In all probability, Christ much inore clearly instructed them personally after his resurrection, and before his ascension; as we read that he continued with them for forty days, speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom, Acis, 1:3; and that " he opened their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures.” Luke, 24: 45. But the clear revelation of these things was principally after the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost
, agreeable to Christ's promise. John, 16:12, 13. I have yet many things to say unto
ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when ihe Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth.” This clear revelation of the mysteries of the Gospel, as they are delivered, we have chiefly through the hands of the apostle Paul, by whose writings a child may come to know more of the doctrines of the Gospel, in many respects, than the greatest prophets knew under the darkness of the Old Testament.
Thus we see how the light of the Gospel, which began to dawn immediately after the fall, and gra. dually increased through all the ages of the Old Testament, is now come to the light of perfect day, as the brightness of the sun shining forth in his un. vailed glory.
VI. The next thing that I would observe, is the appointment of the office of deacons in the christian church, of which we have an account in the 6th chapter of the Acts, to take care for the outward supply of the members of Christ's church, and the exercise of that great christian virtue, charity.
VII. The calling, qualifying and sending of the apostle Paul. This was begun in his conversion as he was going to Damascus, and was one of the greatest means of the success of Christ's redemption that followed; for this success was more by the labors, preaching and writings of this apostle, than all the other apostles together: he “labored more abundantly than they all.” As he was the apostle of the Gentiles, so it was mainly by his ministry that the Gentiles were called and the Gospel spread through the world. Our nation and the nations of Europe have the Gospel among them chiefly through his means; and he was more employed by the Holy Ghost in revealing the glorious doctrines of the Gospel by his writings, for the use of the church in all ages, than all the other apostles.
VIII. The institution of ecclesiastical councils for deciding controversies and ordering the affairs of the church of Christ, as described, Acts, 15:9.
IX. The committing of the New Testament to writing. This was all written after the resurrection of Christ by the apostles themselves, except the gospels of Mark and Luke, and the book of the Acts. He that wrote the gospel of Mark is supposed to be the son of Mary, in whose house they were praying for Peter when he, brought out of prison by the angel, came and knocked at the door. Acts, 12:12. “He came to the house of Mary, the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying." He was the companion of the apostles Barnabas and Paul. Acts, 15:37. He was Barnabas' sister's son, and seems some time to have been a compa.
nion of the apostle Paul. Col. 4:10. "Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner, saluteth you and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas; touching whom
received commandment: if he come unto you receive him.” The apostles seem to have made great account of him, as appears by those places, and also by Acts, 12: 25; “ And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jeru. salem, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark ;" and Acts, 13:5; 1. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they had also John to their minister;" and 2 Tim. 4:11; Only Luke is with me: take Mark and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
He who wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts was a great companion of the apostle Paul. He is spoken of as being with him in the last-mentioned place, and speaks of himself as accompanying Paul in his travels, and therefore speaks in the first person plural. We went to such a place; we set sail, &c. He was greatly beloved by the apostle Paul; he is that beloved physician spoken of, Col. 4:14. The apostle ranks Mark and Luke among his fellow-laborers. Philemon, 24. “ Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow-laborers.”
The books of the New Testament are either historical, doctrinal, or prophetical. The historical books are the writings of the four evangelists, giving us the history of Christ, in his purchase of redemption, his resurrection and ascension; and the Acts of the Apostles, giving an account of the great things by which the Christian church was first established and propagated. The doctrinal books are the epistles; most of which we have from the great apostle