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“ I said, I am not the Christ; but that I am sent before him. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
These are clear demonstrations that the baptism of John, and that of Christ, were two distinct and different baptisms; the one outward, shadowy, and typical, to continue only until the completion of the outward, legal dispensation, which is superseded by the dispensation of the Messiah, the great antitype thereof.
The baptism of John being thus outward, in elementary water, could only purify the body; and herein as a type, it clearly represents the baptism of Christ ; which being inward and spiritual, operateth to the purification of the soul. Thus, the baptism of Christ being that of the Holy Ghost and fire, according to John's testimony, was to increase ; and is to be experimentally witnessed by the true believers in Christ ; not only down to the present day ; but is ever to continue in the gospel dispensation.
As we do not find in Scripture either precept or example from Christ, which, in our opinion, requires the continuance of water baptism, we believe that it was to cease
* John, iji. 28, 30.
with the rituals of the law; and, therefore, we feel ourselves warranted in omitting the use of it, and cleaving to the one saving baptism, so emphatically described in various parts of the New Testament, as, Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Hence, as. there is one Lord, one true faith, so likewise there is only one true and saving baptism, which is not John's baptism with water, but that of Christ with the Holy Ghost and fire. Accordingly, the apostle, speaking of saving baptism, describes it as * not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.'
"b The nature and blessed effects of this saving baptism are thus pointed out by the apostle Paul: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free ; and have been all made to drink into one spirit.” And again, “ know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ; therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was
1 Pet. iij. 2:.
Gal. iii. 27.
d 1 Cor. xii. 1s.
raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
These texts are very descriptive of the nature of Christ's baptism ; which, no doubt, this holy apostle well understood : as also the nature of John's baptism with water, when he thanked God, that he baptized none of them, but Crispus and Gaius ;with a few others whom he there mentions ; declaring that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
Now, as Christ commanded his apostles to baptize all nations, the apostle Paul, who was not a whit behind the chiefest of them, if he had believed water baptism to be the baptism of Christ, could have had no cause to thank God, for omitting the use of it. I would therefore query, whether any can suppose, that Paul had not as full a commis. sion from Christ, as any one of the apostles, seeing he “laboured more abundantly than they all ?”! If that be granted, and that the command in Mat. xxviii, did not authorize him to baptize with water, how then does it any one after him ?
f 1 Cor. i. 14.
e Rom. vi. 3, 4. & 1 Cor. xv. 10.
Hibbard remarks in his work, page 105, " that till the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, “ the Jewish christians shewed a respect “ to the ancient sabbath, and the apos“ tles very often took the opportunity of " preaching to the Jews as they thereon as“ sembled in their synagogues." This serves to prove, that it was a considerable time before their attachment to the Jewish rites was entirely worn off. And although we believe that the baptism of water was to decrease, and give place to the baptism of Christ, yet it is evident, that some of the apostles were more or less in the use of it for a time, as they were also of other things enjoined under the law, such as abstaining from things strangled, and from blood: so, likewise, some of the believers contended strongly for circumcision, which indeed we don't find expressly disannulled by Christ any more than water baptism ; and it appears also, that Paul circumcised Timothy, because of the Jews, and that he baptized a few ; but it doth not appear that he had a divine commission for either. The apostles continuing for a time in the use of water baptism; or even their commanding it in one or two instances, is not the Master's command. But it doth not appear that
he had seen meet to forbid them, knowing their attachment to the rituals of the law; and that they could not bear that he should open to them at once the fulness of his spiritual dispensation, even as he told them," I have yet many things to say unto you ; but ye cannot bear them now : howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth ; for he shall not speak of himself ; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak ; and he will shew you things to come : he shall glorify me ; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” And, thus, I conceive that the apostles were, from time to time, illuminated by the Spirit of truth or Holy Ghost, whereby they came more fully to understand the spiritual nature of the gospel dispensation' ; and as they experienced more and more of its excellency, they were gradually delivered from their attachment to the rituals of the law ; which Peter calls a yoke that neither they, nor their fathers, were able to bear. Nor doth it appear, that the apostles understood the extent of the command of Christ, " Go and teach all nations ;” until Peter, by an extraordinary vision, was prepared to
+ John, xvi, 12. &c. .