Baptism and Regeneration by William R. Williams
Excerpt from Chapter 3--Baptism and Regeneration, p. 68-69 and 72: [note: I capitalized the words 'He' and 'His' in these paragraphs below]
For great as is Reform and dread as is Revolution, a third word was launched on the world centuries ago, yet greater in significance and surely and only blessed in its workings. That word is the utterance of the Christ whose it was to set up the kingdom of God in the world. It is Regeneration; it contains in itself the pledge of a reform that shall be thorough and enduring. It is the first stir of an avalanche-revolution that shall travel with augmented might and with ever-growing massiveness adown all the centuries, and on for the obedient beyond the judgment-day into the far and blessed eternities, and for the disobedient into exile boundless and hopeless. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. It is within you, its seat in the renewed heart, its aims lifted heavenward, and taking its hold on the brother's heart of the Incarnate Christ and on the throne of the Everlasting and Omnipotent Father.
Until the great work of His passion was consummated, and the final culminant miracle of His resurrection and His ascension was superadded as the counterpoise and the enhancement of Christ's humiliation to death, it was not, in the harmonious order of the divine economy, as yet fitting that the Holy Ghost should be given in the full measure of His influence. After its outgushing in Pentecost, the apostles were prepared for carrying their worldwide testimony to all people. The Saviour had Himself honored in the centurion and in the Syro-phoenician woman and in the Samaritan a faith that as from Gentile homes was stretching out its hands to the Hebrew Messiah, who was also to show Himself the Desire of all nations and the Light of the entire world. The book called the Acts of the Apostles seems to some a disordered and fragmentary treatise; but it appears to us framed with a divine symmetry. It begins at Jerusalem with a Hebrew apostate. It wheels around to Antioch, a centre of Greek cultivation, where the disciples were first called Christians, and where the question is raised, Should Jewish proselytism be required to membership from Gentile converts in the new kingdom universal and eternal? From Jerusalem inspired apostles attest and sanction as right the course of Paul. The Gentile believer need not enter Christian privileges through Jewish portals. Then that great apostle of the Gentiles is dropped at the conclusion of the history of Rome, the pagan heart of that great Gentile civilization, there to deliver before Caesar and his motley household, and his many-tongued garrison, and polyglot traders and courtiers and visitors of that metropolis, a faith that demands the credence and the homage, and that propounds the salvation, of all people under the whole heavens.
Williams, William R. Lectures on Baptist History. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1877.