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that the Saviour of the world was about to appear among them, and that he was sent to entreat them to repent of their sins, to leave their wicked ways, and to be baptised; that is, to have water poured over them, in the name of God, as a religious ceremony.
would like to know, perhaps, why they were thus baptised.
God often uses signs, or something which we can see, to make us better understand something which we cannot see. Water is such a sign in baptism; and as water is used for the
purposes of washing and cleansing the stains from our bodies, so it is used in baptism, to show us that our sins must be washed away by our Saviour, and our hearts cleansed from all wickedness, before we can be acceptable to God.
The people were very much struck by John's powerful preaching; and many were so much convinced, that they entreated him to tell them what they should do to obtain the favour of God; which he accordingly did ; and all who really intended to leave off their sins, were baptised by him in the river Jordan, on the banks of which he generally preached, on account of the convenience of the water; for, in those hot regions of the world, springs and fountains and rivers are not every where to be found, as in these cooler climates.
One day, when John was engaged, as usual, in receiving and baptising the numbers of people who flocked to him from all quarters, he saw, to his great astonishment, Jesus himself approach among the rest. He could scarcely believe that our Saviour really intended
to be baptised, because he well knew that He had committed no sin which had need to be washed away; and, feeling his own unworthiness to perform this rite for the all-perfect Son of God, he humbly said to Him, “ It is 1, who have need to be baptised “ by Thee; and comest Thou to 66 me?"
“ Suffer it to be so, now," said our Lord; “ for it is our duty to fulfil all " righteousness;” meaning, that He Himself was to afford an example of performing all those duties which He ordained to his disciples.
When John, therefore, found that it was His pleasure to have it so, he obeyed, and baptised the Lord Jesus, as he had the rest of the people, in the river: when, lo! as Jesus was coming out of the water, the heavens above
were opened, and the Spirit of God was seen, in the likeness of a dove, descending, till it rested on His head.
The shape of a dove was probably chosen to denote the pure and peaceful nature of the holy religion Christ was about to establish: for the dove is well known as the most gentle of all birds.
When the Holy Spirit lighted on our Saviour, a voice was heard from on high, saying, -- This is my Be“ loved Son, in whom I am well pleased!”
Take example, then, my dear children, from the Beloved Son of God,” “ to fulfil all righteousness;” that is, to do all that is right. You must try not only to correct one or two of your faults, but every one of them. You must endeavour to do not only a few things well, but all things; but never forget, that you can do nothing right without the help of God. That help He sends by His Holy Spirit, not indeed in a visible shape as it descended on our Lord, but inwardly in our hearts; and whenever you feel disposed to be a good child, it is that blessed dove-like Spirit which so disposes you.