Images de page

that was

coming of the Messiah, and their minds for the reception of his new religion, used it as a symbol of the purification of heart

necessary for the dispensation which was then at hand. He knew that his hearers would understand the meaning of the ceremony. He had reason also to believe, that on account of the nature of his mission they would expect it. Hence the Sanhedrim, to whom the cognisance of these legal cleansings belonged, when they were informed of the baptism of John, never expressed any surprise at it, as a new, or unusual, or improper custom. They only found fault with him for the administration of it, when he denied himself to be either Elias or the Christ.

It was partly upon one of the principles that have been mentioned that Jesus received the baptism of John. He received it, as it is recorded, because “ thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness.” By the fulfilling of righteousness is meant the fulfilling of the ordinances of the law, or the customs required by the Mosaic dispensation in particular cases. He had already undergone circumcision as a Jewish ordi


nance. And he now submitted to baptism. For as Aaron and his sons were baptized previously to the taking upon them the ofe' fice of the Jewish priesthood, so Jesus was baptized by John, previously to his entering upon his own ministry, or becoming the high priest of the Christian dispensation.

But though Jesus Christ received the bap-. tism of John, that he might fulfil all righteousness, others received it as the baptism of repentance from sins, that they might be able to enter the kingdom that was at hand. This baptism, however, was not initiative into the Christian church. For the Apostles rebaptized some who had been baptized by John. Those, again, who received the baptism of John did not profess faith in Christ. John, again, as well as his doctrines, belonged to the Old Testament.

He was no minister under the new dispensation, but the last prophet under the law. Hence Jesus said, that .“ though none of the prophets were greater than John the Baptist, yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Neither did he ever hear the Gospel preached; for Jesus did not begin his ministry till John had been put 4.


into prison, where he was beheaded by the orders of Herod. John, in short, was, with respect to Jesus, what Moses was with respect to Joshua. Moses, though he conducted to the promised land, and was permitted to see it from mount Nebo, yet never entered it, but gave place to Joshua, whose name, like that of Jesus, signifies a Saviour. In the same manner, John conducted towards Jesus Christ. He saw him once with his own eyes; but he was never permitted, while alive, to enter into his spiritual kingdom.


Second baptism, or that of Christthis the baptism

of the Gospel-his distinct from the former in point of time--and in nature or essence-As that of John was outward, so this was to be inward and spiritualit was to cleanse the heart-and was to be capable of making even the Gentiles the seed of Abraham-This distinction of watery and spiritual baptism pointed out by Jesus Christ -by St. Peter-and by St. Paul.

The second baptism recorded in the Scriptures is that of Christ. This may be called


the baptism of the Gospel, in contradistinction to the former, which was that of the Law.

This baptism is totally distinct from the former. John himself said, “ I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire *.

From these words it appears that this baptism is distinct in point of time from the former; for it was to follow the baptism of John: and secondly, in nature and essence; for whereas that of John was by water, this was to be by the Spirit.

This latter distinction is insisted upon by John in other places. For when he was questioned by the Pharisees, “ why he baptized if he was not that Christ, nor Elias, nor that prophet t,” he thought it a sufficient excuse to say, “ I baptize with water.' That is, I baptize with water only. I use only an antient Jewish custom.

I do not intrude upon the office of Christ, who is

* Matt. iii. 11. .

t John i. 25.

* "

coming after me, or pretend to his baptism of the Spirit. We find also, that no less than three times in eight verses, when he speaks of his own baptism, he takes care to add to it the word “ water to distinguish it from the baptism of Christ.

As the baptism of John cleansed the body from the filth of the flesh, so that of Christ was really to cleanse the soul from the filth of sin. Thus John, speaking of Jesus Christ in allusion to this, baptism, says, “whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the

garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire t.” By this he insinuates, that in the same manner as the farmer with the fan in his hand winnows


separates the light and bad grains from the heavy and the good, and in the same manner as the fire afterwards destroys the chaff, --so the baptism of Christ, for which he was preparing them, was of an inward and spiritual nature, and would effectually destroy the light and corrupt af

the corn,

[ocr errors]

• John i. 25-34.

+ Matt, iii. 12.


« PrécédentContinuer »