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ed to the kingdom of God generally, i. e. without re... spect to an immediate discipleship to Christ. They. were those who had been waiting for redemption in Is. rael. Perhaps they had some knowledge, and belief in the dispensation, of the Gospel, and in Christ, as the Messiah. Be this however as it may į they were sub. jects of John's baptism only. They were unacquainted even with the name of the Holy Ghost; the gift of which attended the baptism into Christ, in distinction from the baptism of John. They were now baptized by Paul, in the name of the Lord Jesus ; in consequence of which, they received the Holy Ghost, in his miraculous influences. Here then, was a complete rebaptization ; or else, the baptism of John, and Chris. tian baptism were materially different. A rebapti. zation will not be pretended. Therefore John's baptism was of a peculiar nature, and confined to him. To evade this, it is alledged, that Paul did not here baptize these persons ; but that the 5th verse, “And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus," is, merely a continuance of Paul's testimony respecting John ; i. e. Paul says, when the people heard what John said, that they should believe in Christ, then they were baptized by John in the name of the Lord Jesus. But this is wresting the passage at a shocking rate. It is departing from the plain and obvious meaning of it, and adopting one which inven. tion only can supply, John did indeed preach such doctrine. But there is no evidence that he baptized in. to the name of Christ. Evidence is altogether the other way. He could not, with propriety do it. For Jesus was not yet manifested. John's baptism was the baptism of repentance, which looked forward to Christ as to come. The baptism into the name of Christ, was a baptism into him as actually come. Besides, the Holy Ghost was given generally, not in consequence of confirma. tion by the imposition of hands, as a thing quite re. moved from baptism ; but in immediate connexion with baptism itself. *
* It is true, that a few Pædo baptists have adopted this construction ; but the reason is obvious. When men have an end to answer, truth is a secondary objeci.
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In connexion with this account of John's baptism, let us spend a few thoughts upon the particular bap. tism which was administered by John to the Messiah.
We can have no difficulty in concluding that the baptism administered to Christ, could not have been precisely for the same reason, nor have imported the same thing in all respects, with the other baptisms of John. For it could not have been a symbol of his being cleansed from sin, and becoming spiritually prepared to receive the Messiah, as king of Zion; he himself being that person, and antecedently holy. · Neither could it have been a seal of the covenant. That he had already received in his infancy. Nor could it have been an initiation into the Levitical priesthood. He was not made priest of the Aaronic order. “ For,” Heb. vii. 14, 15, 16. “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah ; of which tribe, Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident; for that after the similitude of Mel. chisedec, there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment ; but after the power of an endless life.” Christ was indeed priest, as well as prophet, and king. These three characters were combined in him, as they were in Melchisedec, his principal type.' But his priesthood had no connexion with that which was ordained by the Sinai law. To have assumed this sort of priesthood therefore, instead of being a fulfilment of righteousness, would have been a violation of rule.
What then was the import of this baptism?
It is to be remembered, that the three offices of prophet, priest, and king, in the Messiah, were inseparable. His manifestation to Israel, was therefore a manifestation of him, in all these respects. His baptism, which connected with it John's testimony ; the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him in the form of a dove ; and the voice from heaven, “ Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” was this manifestation. His baptism was eminently distinguished from Jolin's other baptisms, by these 'miraculous events, which were
a concurrent and decisive testimonial, that Jesus was the true Messiah. This seems to be confirmed by all the circumstances which preceded. Let us briefly run over them. “ Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan (a considerable distance) to John, to be bap. tized of him.” He came to John, because he was expressly designated, to manifest him to Israel, as the true Messiah. No other reason forhis coming to John, can be assigned. John had been told, John i. 33. “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” He had not been told to baptize Je.. sus. When Jesus therefore requested baptisni of him, he refused. What reason does he give ? * I have need to be baptized of thee ; and comest thou to me?" I am the servant. You are the master. I have need to be your disciple. It is unseemly for me to number you with mine. “Jesus replied, " Suffer it to be so now.” I am indeed your Lord and Master, the Messiah ; and you might well hesitate, if I proposed myself for baptism, upon the principle of being a sinner. But there is another reason why I should be baptized. This is requisite as a regular manifestation of me, in my official character. The reason is then given,.“ For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteouness." John's hesitancy was because he knew him to be the Messiah. And Christ's request to be baptized was on that very ground, that he was the Messiah. John was convinced by the reason assigned, that it was a part of his of. ficial duty, by this symbol, as well as by a direct testi. mony, to manifest him ; and that it was incumbent on Jesus to be thus manifested. Here was right, with respect to both. This right, i. e, the propriety of Joho's baptizing Jesus, and of Jesus' being baptized, must be the righteousness intended by Jesus, in the reason as, signed.
Righteousness supposes a law. What law was it which required this baptism? I answer, typical usage. This typical usage originated in the requirement that the priests of the Aaronic order, who, as is to be col.
lected from Numbers iy. 3, assumed their office at 30 years of age, should be washed with water, as a sym. bol of their investiture with this office, and of their be. ing true priests of the law. Symbols of this kind, plainly grounded upon this law, had ever been in use, in investing men, with the priestly, prophetic, and regal offices. And as these offices were all united and consummated in Christ, as Messiah, it became neces sary, (To agewov), it was comely, suitable, regular, that a corresponding symbol should attend his public in. duction into his Messiahship. Thus he became in all things like unto his brethren, a partaker even in their symbolical investitures. Thus also it appeared, that he took not this honor upon himself, the honor of a priesthood, after the order of Melchisedec, rashly, and in a disorderly way, as an impostor, but was called of God, as was Aaron.
Respecting the Lord's Day, the Lord's Supper, and Christian
baptism. In this chapter it is attempted to shew, that these ordinances are to be observed by Christian believers, as seals of the same covenant, of which the Jewisk Sabbath, the Passover, and Circumcision, were seals.
THAT what is called the Christian Church is the continuity of Israel, as an indissolvabļe society; and that this society, from its commencement to its completion, is founded upon the covenant of circumcision, as its constitutional basis, has been evinced. That the Sinai covenant was essentially distinct from this covenant, and added, as a temporary institution, and for temporary purposes, has also been proved. That this covenant, so far as it was of a peculiar character, as a shadow of good things to come, was to wax old, and vanish away, at the appearing of Christ; and did, in fact, become entirely obsolete, by the accomplishment of its typical design in his death, is made evident, by several passages which have been already introduced into this work, and is not controverted by any denom. Ination of Christians. We are therefore to consider that covenant, viewed as a separate and distirct insti. tution, as though it never had been. I say, as a dis. tinct institution. For there were some precepts wrought into it, which were not peculiar to it; which are essential to every institution of God, and of eternal obligation. These precepts are not improperly called moral; in distinction from positive. Such, for exam. ple, is the precept, which requires us, to love the Lord our God with all our heart; and our neighbour as our. selves. Such is the precept, which requires justice