The Ancient Faith
IMMERSION IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 CORINTHIANS 12:13
I have for some years been convinced that the immersion in the Holy Spirit is not fully understood, and that it needs investigation and discussion de novo. The same may be said of the entire subject of the Holy Spirit and his work in human salvation. Although there are some propositions upon this subject which are well defined, and well settled among us, yet on no other subject are there so many points in which we feel distinctly and painfully the want of certainty. It is a surprising fact, that amid all the myriads of volumes with which the presses of the past century have been teeming, we should have had no masterly and Scriptural work on the Holy Spirit. The work of Jenkyn comes nearer meeting the demand than any other; but it is marked by defects which are inseparably connected with Calvinism, and it stands almost alone. Even among our own brethren nothing more has appeared than a few well written essays on special points in the great range of inquiry. The most complete and Scriptural exposition of the subject is to be found in the Campbell and Rice debate; but there only a single branch of it comes under review. The range of the discussion upon which we are now entering must be still more limited; but if it should be the means of stimulating inquiry, and, as a final result, of leading some sound student of the Bible to give the world such a volume as we have indicated, it would not be by any means fruitless.
The main issue presented by the article [entitled “Baptism in one Spirit into one Body,”] under review is this: was the immersion in the Holy Spirit confined to certain persons who received miraculous gifts, or is it enjoyed by all disciples alike? The latter is the conclusion in which the writer’s course of reasoning terminates. A number of reasons are offered in support of this conclusion; but it is unnecessary to refer to them at all, if, as the writer declares, it is actually asserted, that we become members of the one body by “being immersed in one Spirit into it.” If this be asserted in the passage under consideration [1 Corinthians 12:13], it is not to be questioned, and needs no further proof than this assertion affords.
IMMERSION IN WATER
…The rule of criticism that the word immersion, when unqualified, must be understood in its primary sense of immersion in water, is strictly correct; and, unfortunately for the rendering and interpretation for which the writer contends, it applies to his text as well as to other passages. When Paul says, in this passage, that “we were all immersed into one body,” this rule requires us to understand the term “immersed” of immersion in water, unless it is so limited as to compel us to understand it differently. But the writer assumes that it is so limited here, and locates the expression “in one Spirit,” immediately after the term “immersed” for the very purpose of thus limiting the meaning of the latter term. But this is certainly a mislocation in fact, if not in meaning. The apostle locates this expression at the beginning of the sentence, so as to read, “In one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” Now, with this arrangement of the preposition, the expression “in one Spirit,” limits the term we, instead of the term immersed. Assuming that we were first in one Spirit, it asserts that we were immersed into one body; and makes the latter event take place subsequent to the former. This suits the Baptist idea that a man must first be in the Spirit, which in New Testament phraseology, is equivalent to having the Spirit in him (Rom. 8:9), and must afterwards be immersed into the body, which is the church. Indeed, it corresponds precisely to their conception of the case of Cornelius and his friends, who were first in the one Spirit, and afterwards immersed into the one body. According to Paul’s real collocation of his own words, therefore, the term “immersed” in this passage still means immersed in water, and the only difficulty in the case is found in determining the meaning and proper rendering of en eni pneumati.
Before proceeding to grapple with this difficulty, it may be proper to start the inquiry, may it not, after all, be true, that one or the other of the conclusions to which the writer’s rendering seems to drive us, is the correct conclusion?
First. Is it not true, that we are brought into the one body by immersion in the Spirit? If so, it is certainly not proved by the passage we have been considering; for, as we have just seen, this passage, even with the rendering in question, contains an entirely different proposition. Again, by the rule which requires the term immersion, when not otherwise limited, to be understood as immersion in water, it is certain that in the latter sense, we are immersed into Jesus Christ, and into his death. This is the one immersion which brings us in the unity of the Spirit into the one body. Moreover, it is certain that neither of the two immersions in the Holy Spirit which are expressly so styled in the Scriptures brought its subjects into the one body. The apostles constituted a part of the body of Christ before they were immersed in the Spirit; and Cornelius and his friends were immersed into the one body, born out of water into the kingdom, after they had been immersed in the Spirit. Now, how is it possible for us to maintain that all are brought into the one body by immersion in the Spirit in face of the fact that this is not true of the only persons who were unquestionably so immersed? Even if we had an express declaration that immersion in the Spirit brings us into one body, we would find extreme difficulty, if not an impossibility, in at-tempting to reconcile it with these facts.
Second. Is not the Baptist hypothesis the true one–that we are all first in the one Spirit, and afterwards, by immersion in water, brought into the one body? If so, we must find the historical facts upon the subject in harmony with this idea. But we find the apostles all in the one body before they were immersed in the Spirit; and we find the twelve disciples in Ephesus immersed by Paul “into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5-6), after which Paul laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And lest these should be considered anomalous cases, it was some days, if not weeks, after the Samaritans had been immersed by Philip, that the Holy Spirit came upon them in answer to the prayer of Peter and John: “for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:14-17). In all these cases the Baptist idea is reversed; and so it appeared to Paul and Peter in reference to all other cases; for Paul says: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6); and Peter commands, “Repent and be immersed for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
We now proceed to the inquiry, what is the real meaning of the expression, en eni pneumati? rendered by the writer, in one Spirit, and in the common version, by one Spirit. That en means in, and must be so rendered when there is nothing to rule otherwise, cannot be denied. And that en eni pneumati, standing alone, should be rendered in one Spirit, is equally undeniable. But en is sometimes rendered by, and must be so, when either the context, or the harmony of Scripture statement requires it. If we were to consult the context alone, there would be found nothing in either the grammatical or logical structure of the sentence to forbid the use of in. But we have already seen that other facts and statements in the New Testament forbid the idea expressed by the rendering, “in one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” This alone is sufficient ground for inquiring whether there is any other admissible rendering which will better harmonize with other unambiguous passages. If the laws of the language admit another rendering, we are compelled to seek it; and if New Testament usage furnishes any other in similar connections, we are invited to adopt it.
Now it so happens that there are just three forms in which the agency of the Holy Spirit is expressed by pneuma in con-junction with a preposition. These three are dia with the genitive, hupo with the genitive, and en with the dative. Of these three, all of which are rendered by or through the Spirit, the last occurs most frequently; so that the very expression under discussion, which the writer so unhesitatingly renders in one Spirit, is the Greek form most frequently rendered by the Spirit, and used in declaring that something is done by the Spirit as an agent or actor. That it is correctly thus rendered, will be apparent upon examination of a few of these passages. We find no less than four occurrences of this usage in the very chapter which contains the text in dispute, and in the immediate context. We read in the third verse, “No man speaking en pneumati theou, by the Spirit of God, calls Jesus accursed; and no man is able to say that Jesus is the Lord, but en pneumati agio, by the Holy Spirit. ” In neither of these cases can we render it in the Spirit, because it is evidently the purpose of the writer to express an agency of the Spirit; and because men can say that Jesus is Lord by the Spirit, though they be not themselves in the Spirit. It was by the Spirit as the source of all evidence, and not in the Spirit, that men were able to believe in and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus; and when a man called Jesus accursed, it was proof not merely that he was not in the Spirit, but that he did not speak by the light which the Spirit afforded through his divine testimony.
Again, in the ninth verse we read, “To another is given faith en to auto pneumati, by the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing en to auto pneumati, by the same Spirit. ” Now, the parties on whom these gifts were conferred were all in the Spirit, but these gifts were conferred by the Spirit, and this is what the apostle here affirms. In the ten verses of this chapter, from the third to the thirteenth, there are twelve things said to be done by the Spirit, and en pneumati is the prevailing expression, only varied for the sake of euphony by dia pneumatos once, kata pneuma once, and leaving en pneumati, to be understood throughout the tenth verse.
As this criticism constitutes a capital point in this inquiry, I will be excused for accumulating evidence upon evidence in its favor. The two forms hupo pneumatos and en pneumati, are used in the same sense by Matthew and Luke in describing the same event. Each says that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1), Matthew using the former expression, and Luke the latter. Peter and Paul do the same thing. In declaring that the prophets of old spake “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” Peter uses hupo with the genitive; while Paul, in speaking of the mystery which was not made known to other generations, “as it was revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,” uses en with the dative. (Comp. I Pet. 1:21 with Eph. 3:5). In view of all this evidence, we hold it is undeniable that the expression en pneumati is frequently used by the apostles in expressing what is done by the Spirit, and that it may be rendered by the Spirit wherever it is more suitable either to the context, or to the nature of the subject under discussion in a particular passage.
I think it may now be affirmed that we have established three propositions: First, That to render the passage in question, “we were all immersed in one Spirit into one body,” would be a mislocation of the apostle’s words, and untrue to fact. Second That it would be equally untrue to render it, “in one Spirit we were all immersed into one body,” meaning thereby, that we were first in the Spirit, and afterwards immersed into the body. Third, that the passage may be rendered, so far as grammatical propriety is concerned, “by one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” This last rendering being entirely consistent with New Testament usage, and the only alternative if the first two are rejected, we shall be compelled to adopt it provided it yields a sense in harmony with the context and with other known facts upon the same subject. This is now to be tested.
The writer objects to this rendering, and the meaning it yields, for several reasons which he does not “consume space to state,” and for one which he does state. He says, “The long and not very smooth ellipsis which it requires us to supply lies strongly against it.” Now, it would be very acceptable to us if the ideas of the apostles were always expressed in such a way as to avoid an ellipsis; but certainly the necessity of supplying an ellipsis is no very serious objection to a certain rendering, provided, the passage is so worded as to readily suggest that ellipsis. But, after all, is there any ellipsis in the passage? It states that “By one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” The sense is as complete as when it is said we are saved “by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” It may, and does, require the supply of a number of words in each of these cases, to show how these things are so; but these additional words constitute an explanation, and not the supply of an ellipsis. The writer supplies what he styles the ellipsis, in these words: “By the teaching of the one Spirit through the apostles, we have all been induced to submit to the one baptism in water, and by that act have all become united to and are therefore component members of the one body.” I confess that if this were an ellipsis, it would be a frightfully long one, and as awkward and unsightly as it is long. But the writer, in the hurry of a closing paragraph, has obviously miscalled an explanation by the name of an ellipsis; and even as an explanation, I fear he has thrown it into the contortions which disfigure it rather for the purpose of making it look ugly. Having a more affectionate regard for it, myself, I can smooth its features and dress it up more handsomely in this style: By one Spirit, as the divine agent moving us thereto, we were all immersed into one body; I declare, that to my eye, this looks very smooth, and it is certainly not very long. It looks, indeed, very much like some of its kindred in the same chapter: for when it is said (vs. 3), that “no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no man is able to say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit,” the same explanation is need-ed. It is not by the Holy Spirit as actually inspiring every believer, but by the Holy Spirit as the source of all divine evidence of the Lordship of Jesus. When it is said that we must be “born of the Spirit,” a similar explanation is needed, but there is no ellipsis.
But we have another passage which presents a still more striking parallel to the one in question. It is I Corinthians 6:11, where Paul says, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and en pneumati, by the Spirit of our God.” Now, they were not washed in the Spirit, neither were they sanctified or justified in the Spirit of God. But these were all done by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. Neither of them, however, was done directly by the Spirit. The act of justifying is the prerogative of the Father; and the Spirit can be said to justify only as he leads us to comply with the conditions of justification. Sanctification is the work of the Spirit, but it is accomplished through the truth. As for the washing here mentioned, it evidently refers to the effect of baptism, in which they “washed away their sins calling on the name of the Lord.” In what sense had this been done “by the Spirit of our God”? Evidently, in the same sense in which Paul says in the same Epistle that, “by one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” It was done, in one sense, by themselves; for they obeyed the gospel in immersion. It was done in another sense, by Paul, and Timothy, and Apollos, for they had been immersed by these men. But in still another sense, it was done by the Holy Spirit, for he both directed the administrator in commanding and performing the immersion, and also influenced the subject to submit to it. By the Holy Spirit, therefore, strictly and properly, the Corinthians had been washed, and by the same Spirit, in the same act, they had been immersed into one body.
I can but regard it as a serious defect in the article, that the writer did not state more fully his objections to this rendering, and the meaning which it so obviously expresses; and especially, as he must have known that it is the only rendering at all likely to prevail against his own. I attribute this, however, to a fact quite apparent throughout his article, that he had no great confidence in the correctness of his own position, but threw it before the brotherhood rather with the expectation, if not, indeed, the hope, that it would be thoroughly refuted. It is not his way of arguing a question when he is confident that he stands upon unassailable ground.
In the absence of formally stated objections, I can only revert to such as suggest themselves to my own mind. After what I have said concerning the grammatical issue involved, I can think of only one objection likely to strike the mind of a candid reader, which is this–that it appears far-fetched in the apostle, when referring to the person by whom they had been immersed into the one body, to say that it was by the Spirit, instead of saying that it was by Paul, and Timothy, and Apollos, and others, by whom they had actually been led into the water. But this objection is at once set aside, when we remember the purpose for which the whole statement was introduced. The purpose of the whole context was to establish the identity of that one Spirit by whom all spiritual manifestations were effected. He starts the proposition, in the fourth verse, that there are “diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” He then specifies: “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit.” Other gifts are specified, and he adds, “But all these work that one and self-same Spirit, dividing to each one severally as he will.” Lest it should appear strange to us that he should so earnestly insist upon a proposition which none of us ever doubted, we must remember that to the Corinthians this subject of spiritual manifestations was entirely new, and there were two obvious sources from which they might imbibe the error that Paul is here so earnestly combating. In the first place, the inability of the human mind to comprehend how the same Spirit could speak at the same moment, on a thousand different topics through a thous-and different and widely separated individuals, would naturally suggest that these manifestations were the work of a multiplicity of spirits. Again, when they observed that one inspired man had only the gift of tongues, and could not work other miracles, whilst another could work miracles but could not speak in tongues; that one had the gift of healing, but could not prophesy, whilst another could prophesy, but could not heal, it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that they were different spirits, and of different kinds of super-natural power. That this error did actually prevail in the church is rendered certain by Paul’s formal attempt to eradicate it. His course of argument consists in showing them that all these diversities of gifts were wrought by one and the same Spirit, distributing to the brethren, as he severally chose, limited and various degrees of his own supernatural power. And finally, in order that they all, both those who had gifts, and those who had not, might know still more definitely what Spirit this was, he tells them it was the same Spirit by whose direction and influence they had all been immersed into one body. Thus we see that the course of his argument most naturally and logically brought him to mention the Holy Spirit in connection with that ordinance by which they had become one body.
We may further remark, here, that the mention of the Holy Spirit in this connection must have had a more vivid effect upon the minds of these brethren, than it can have upon ours. For they recollected that when Paul came among them preaching Christ, he accompanied the word with “demonstrations of the Spirit, and of power,” and claimed that he spoke “not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches.” The whole of this, too, was for the express purpose, that their faith might not rest “in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Cor. 2:1-13). The Holy Spirit was a visible working power and authority in their presence, and it was with most explicit reference to him that the Corinthians, “hearing, believed and were immersed” (Acts 18:8). When, therefore, Paul refers to the fact that it was “by one Spirit,” they had all been immersed into one body, they could be at no loss to understand his meaning. The only reason why our minds do not as readily catch the same thought, is because the Holy Spirit did not exhibit himself, when influencing us, in the same startling “signs and wonders, and diverse miracles” in which he appeared to them. This shows the importance of transferring ourselves to the exact position of parties addressed in the Scriptures, if we would understand allusions which are made to their condition or past history.
That the interpretation of the passage in question which we have now given is the correct one, is confirmed by evidence in the passage itself. That the last clause of the verse, “and were all made to drink into one Spirit,” refers to the reception of the Holy Spirit, I would say is indisputable, had it not been disputed by most of the Commentators. (See Bloomfield in loco). They refer it to drinking the wine in the Lord’s Supper–a reference quite foreign to the subject of the context, and having nothing to suggest it or justify it except the word drink. But the drinking in that institution is drinking the blood of the Lord Jesus; not drinking the Holy Spirit. The term drink certainly expresses the idea of receiving within us what is drunk; and when used of the Holy Spirit it is scarcely possible that it does not refer to the reception of the Spirit within us. Why the term drink should be used in the connection, I would rather account for from the refreshing effects of receiving the Spirit, like a draft of cool water to a man parched with thirst; than by the writer’s conceit that it was suggested by the accident of drinking some water when one is immersed.
If we are right in thus understanding the last clause of the sentence, we are right in our interpretation of the first clause. For after saying that “we were all immersed in one Spirit into one body,” it would be but a useless repetition to add, “and we were all made to drink into one Spirit.” The reception of the Spirit is the fact affirmed in the last clause, and it is presented as something additional to what was said in the first; but if the reception of the Spirit is declared in the first, the last is not an additional fact, but a repetition. We conclude, therefore, that the first clause does not refer to the reception of the Spirit at all. On the contrary, it declares that it was by the Holy Spirit that we were induced to be immersed and become one body; while the last clause declares the additional fact that we all then became partakers of the refreshing influence of the Spirit as a guest within us.
We now dismiss the consideration of this passage; fully persuaded that the common version of it, and the meaning of it as commonly understood among our brethren are correct. With a few paragraphs upon the universality of immersion in the Spirit, we will bring our article to a close.
There seem to me but two methods by which it can be proved that all Christians are immersed in the Holy Spirit: First, by producing a declaration of Scriptures to that effect. Second, by proving that what is called immersion in the Holy Spirit, is identical with something said to take place with all Christians. The writer attempts the proof upon both of these methods. His main reliance under the first method, is upon the passage which we have just dismissed, and which fails to sustain him. He also makes use of a declaration or prophesy uttered by John the Immerser: “He shall immerse you in the Holy Spirit.” He says of this prophesy, “To limit the word you in this passage to such persons only as were miraculously endowed, seems to me to be a most unwarrantable restriction.” Now, this remark would undoubtedly be correct, if we were compelled to look at John’s words alone. But when we are permitted to see a prophesy and its fulfillment both at the same glance, we are not at liberty to interpret one without some reference to the other. The fulfillment, indeed, is often the only key to a proper interpretation of the prophesy. When this prophesy began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, there were one hundred and twenty disciples in Jerusalem, but it is certain that only the twelve apostles were then immersed in the Holy Spirit. This would require us to limit it forever to them unless we find it extended to others. Consequently, the reader of Acts naturally goes forward from the second chapter, under the impression that it is so restricted, until he is surprised, in the tenth chapter, as all the apostles were, to find the same gift bestowed on Cornelius and his friends (Acts 11:15). This is sufficient proof, that whether the restriction is authorized or not, John’s words do not establish the universality of immersion in the Spirit. The writer himself admits that his argument upon these words is not decisive.
We may further observe, that John’s prophesy may be, for aught that yet appears, one of those in which the prophet looked to all the wide flowing consequences of the event predicted, and swelled his words beyond their literal fulfillment, to take in this whole area. For it is true that though the immersion in the Holy Spirit may have been confined, as respects the Jews, to the apostles, and as respects the Gentiles, to Cornelius and his friends, yet from this beginning all the good effects of it were spread abroad to all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free. Such prophesies, like that to Abraham, that all the families of the earth should be blessed in him, must always await their fulfillment for the correct adjustment of their limitations.
Under the second method of proof which we have designated, the writer presents one argument which involves the whole question. He says: “If the soul of the inspired man is literally immersed in the Spirit which dwells in him, why not as well the soul of the uninspired be literally immersed in the Spirit which dwells in him?” The argument involved in this question is an attempt to prove the universality of immersion in the Spirit by showing that that which takes place in us all by the indwelling of the Spirit is the same thing that is called an immersion in the case of those who were immersed in the Spirit. If this can be clearly shown the attempt must prove successful. But to establish the identity of two effects, each must be unmistakably and clearly defined. This he well knew, and he has therefore attempted a definition of immersion in the Spirit. He says correctly that it pertains to the soul; and that it is a literal immersion of the human spirit in the Holy Spirit. It was during his debate with Mr. Caples in the fall of 1860, that this position was first advanced in public discussion, after being thoroughly canvassed in private conference; and I recollect distinctly how it thrilled the vast concourse of brethren who were present, like a sudden emission of new light from heaven; while it astounded Mr. Caples and his friends so completely that nothing more was said about proving pouring from the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This definition is undoubtedly correct. But an immersion of the human spirit in the Holy Spirit necessarily implies a con-tact between the two; and the contact of Spirit with spirit is not contact in its physical sense; but implies vital action of the one Spirit upon the faculties of the other. Such vital action must be contemplated as the chief part of the immersion; otherwise, it would be like the immersion of an inanimate block of wood in some inanimate liquid. The promise of immersion in the Spirit would have been a very empty promise, if it meant nothing more than the envelopment of one spirit in another, like the envelopment of a globule of floating gas in the surrounding atmosphere. The Saviour promised more than this, and there was more than this in the fulfillment of the promise; for when he immersed them in the Holy Spirit he brought about an action of that Spirit both upon their memories and their perceptive faculties. Their memories were quickened and rendered infallibly correct; and their perceptive faculties were lifted to the immediate perception of divine truth.
The writer denies that miraculous endowment was a part of the immersion, and distinguishes it as the work of the Spirit, while the immersion was the work of Jesus. He says it is positively false that the baptism and the endowment are identical; and that it can never be shown that the endowment is an invariable indication of the baptism. There is truth in this distinction; but it is truth which is still consistent with what we have said above. To make this appear, we have only to discriminate more closely in reference to what constitutes miraculous endowment, as distinguished from immersion in Spirit. Now to speak in tongues, to heal the sick, to prophesy, and to do any miracle is an endowment conferred by the Holy Spirit. These, of course, are distinguished from the immersion in the Holy Spirit. But before the Spirit conferred these powers, and in order to conferring them, he was placed in immediate contact with the human spirit, so that the latter became energized by the former. In order to justify calling it an immersion, this divine energizing must have pervaded at least the entire intellectual nature of the human spirit; for it is the intellect that we find directly affected. To separate this from the immersion is to take away from it all vitality, and reduce it, as we have said above, to a mere material immersion like that of one inanimate thing in another. We conclude, therefore, that whilst the power to work miracles, both physical and intellectual, was an endowment conferred by the Holy Spirit, the direct inspiration of the human soul was an essential part of its immersion in the Holy Spirit. This being the case, no one is immersed in the Holy Spirit in whom this inspiration does not take place. But Christians in general, whatever may be said of direct operations on their hearts, certainly are not subjects of an immediate impact of the Holy Spirit upon their intellects; therefore, Christians in general, are not immersed in the Holy Spirit.
We may reach the same conclusion by another course of argument. There are two events which in the Scriptures are called immersions in the Holy Spirit. There are certain other events similar to these two, which are not called immersions in the Holy Spirit. If, upon examination, we find these two classes of events precisely alike, then the fact that one of them is styled an immersion in the Spirit would justify us in applying the same term to the other. But if, upon examination, there is a marked difference between the two classes, it would be unwarrantable to thus extend the appellation; for no one could know but that this difference constituted the very reason, in the divine mind, why one was called an immersion in the Spirit, and the other was not. Now, upon examination we do find a very great distinction between what is styled immersion in the Spirit, and the indwelling of the Spirit common to all Christians–no less distinction than that in the former the intellectual powers of the subject were completely pervaded and possessed by the Holy Spirit while in the latter there was nothing of this kind. It is, therefore, unscriptural to call the latter immersion in the Spirit.
These two cases of immersion in the Spirit, are still farther distinguished from all other cases of inspiration or miraculous endowment. In all other cases, unless it be that of the Apostle Paul, of which we have no information, the Holy Spirit entered persons in answer to the prayers of apostles, and in connection with the imposition of their hands. In these two, it came upon them direct from Jesus Christ, the administrator of the immersion in the Holy Spirit. The fact, therefore, that these two were administered by Christ, and all others by the apostles, does constitute a material difference between the two; and this difference may be the reason why the latter are not called immersions in the Spirit. It would, therefore, be an unwarrantable extension of Scripture phraseology, and would involve the obliteration of distinctions maintained in the word of God, to say that even those brethren who received miraculous gifts by imposition of hands, were immersed in the Holy Spirit.
We have now discussed the salient points in the article before us, and though there are some minor matters mentioned in it of a speculative character, to which we have decided objections, we here dismiss it. We do so with our confidence not at all shaken, but rather strengthened, in the correctness of the views to which the brethren have been accustomed upon this subject. The truth can never suffer by the most thorough and sifting discussion; it must always gain by it. Error alone is afraid of objections, or becomes irritated when they are presented. Truth smiles at the opportunity of more thoroughly vindicating itself, and enters every conflict with calm and hopeful confidence. Let us, then, have all the objections which any man can offer against anything we teach, and let us consider them candidly.
[From Lard’s Quarterly, Moses E. Lard, editor, Vol. I, Georgetown, Kentucky, 1864, pp. 428-442. Due to the article’s extreme length, several introductory paragraphs from the article were eliminated.]