Page images
PDF
EPUB

I.

"n

[ocr errors]

enough for the necessities of modern times; and pro- SECT. fessors and divines of the same church are quite sure that their Founder is wrong, and that polla udata ought to be rendered

many waters.'

Dr. Doddridge, whose learning and candour were equalled only by his piety, translates the words in his paraphrase “because there was a great quantity of water there;” and his note in defence of this translation is highly satisfactory:~" Surely,” says the learned Doctor, “ nothing can be more evident than that (pollu udatu) many waters signifies a large quantity of water, it being sometimes used for the Euphrates, Jer. li. 13, (Septuagint.) To which I suppose there may also be an allusion, Rev. xvii. 1. Compare Ezek. xliii. 2; and Rev. i. 15; xiv. 2 ; xix. 6; where the voice of many waters does plainly signify the roaring of the high sea. The same term is used by Solomon describing a “ love which many waters Sol. Song,

viii. 7. cannot quench, neither the floods drown."-Robinson, with a just satire, remarks on this subject, 66 How it Hist. Bap. comes to pass that a mode of speaking, which, on every other occasion, signifies much, should in the case of baptism signify little, is a question easy to answer ;"_easy from the well known power of prejudice and the dire necessities of error.

Every point in the history of John, relating to the An inquiry. ordinance of baptism, has been brought under review, except the baptism of our Lord, which will form the subject of the next section :—will the reader pause and inquire, if any thing has appeared as yet, which tends in the slightest degree to encourage either the sprinkling or the baptism of infants?

P. 10.

[ocr errors]

Dr. Miller, p. 73.
Doddridge's Family Expositor. London, 1827, p. 53.

SECTION II.

THE BAPTISM OF JESUS CHRIST.

CH AP. This important fact is recorded by all the evangelists." II.

The most circumstantial account is that of Matthew, which I insert :

Matt. iii. 13 " Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be

14 baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be 15 baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering

said unto him, Suffer it to be so now : for thus it becometh us to 16 fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when

he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water : and, lo

the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God 17 descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice

from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well

pleased." Baptism at It has already been observed that baptism is assothe begin- ciated with the beginning” of every stage of the deChristianity velopement of Christianity. In its earliest dawn we have

found John baptizing; now Jesus himself refuses to enter on his public ministration till he has sanctioned that ordinance by submitting to it in his own person; then we find the disciples of Christ in their very first act of co-operation with their divine Master, baptizing ;-and, finally, when the commission is given to the apostles, no longer to confine their ministrations to Judea, but to regard the world as their field of labour, they are en

joined peremptorily to baptize as well as to teach. Moral By submitting to baptism at the hands of John, our effects of Christ's Lord authenticated the divine character of his mission, baptism.

a Matt. iii. 13-17. Mark, i. 9-11. Luke, iii. 21, 22. John i. 29–34.

confirmed and honoured the ordinance of baptism as a SECT. Christian institute, and prefixed his own example to the

III. command, which he evidently gave, immediately after, to his disciples, and which after his resurrection he confirmed and enlarged. Although in this instance the ordinance could not be emblematical of the purification from sin of the individual himself, yet it was still a most solemn figure of his death and resurrection, his sufferings and glory, by virtue of which all purification from sin, and all the glories of the resurrection were to accrue to his disciples. The effect of Christ submitting to the baptism of John, in Christ our

example. identifying that ordinance with the Christian dispensation, has already been sufficiently discussed; and it remains only to consider this act of condescension on the part of our Saviour, as an example to his disciples in all ages. This view of the subject is powerful on the mind of the Christian, and apt to lead converts into some stream, from the desire they feel to follow that example in all points in which it behoves them. This circumstance has induced many pædobaptist ministers to throw a

b The reasons suggested by the celebrated Witsius, as given by Mr. Booth, are well worthy of a serious perusal.

WITstus:—“Our Lord would be baptized, that he might con. ciliate authority to the baptism of John—that by his own example he might commend and sanctify our baptism-that men might not be loath to come to the baptism of the LORD, seeing the Lord was not backward to come to the baptism of a servant—that by his baptism, he might represent the future condition both of himnself and his followers, first humble, then glorious ; now mean and low, then glorious and exalted; that represented by IMMERSION, this by EMERSION—and, finally, to declare by his voluntary submission to baptism, that he would not delay the delivering up of himself to be immersed in the torrents of hell, yet with a certain faith and hope of emerging."--Miscel. Sac. T. II. Exer. xv. § 63.

CHAP. doubt, and others even actually to deny, that on this II. point our Lord was an “example to us." The pious

Dr. Scott, after urging the solemn importance of following the example of Christ " without exception," seems to fear the consequences, and to dilute, the force of his previous remarks, by the ill-placed observation that “we are not bound to do exactly as he did.” The trouble the good man is in between his desire to honour the Lord he loves, and to save infant baptism, to which he had the attachment of religious habit, is very apparent in the close of the passage.

Dr. Adam Clarke, with his usual vigour of fancy, while in one line he admits that this baptism was “the

c“ John, being aware of his divine dignity and excellence im. mediate revelation, hesitated to comply with this proposal, declar. ing that he needed to be baptized of Christ, with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and to be purged by him from his sins; and he could not but be surprised that Jesus should come for this purpose to him, who was his servant, and a poor sinful man. But Jesus, allowing the truth of his words, intimated that it was proper that he should permit it lo be so ; -for,' says he, • it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness.' We never find that Jesus spake of himself in the plural number; and it must therefore be allowed that he meant John also, and all the servants of God, in a subordinate sense. It became Christ, as our Surety and our example, perfectly to fulfil all righteousness ;' and it becomes us to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of God without exception, and to attend on every divine institution according to the meaning and intent of it, as long as it continues in force. Thus far Christ's example is obligatory; but as John's baptism, not being exactly the same as Christian baptism, is no longer in force, the example only proves that Christian baptism should be honoured and attended on. Controverted points, however, cannot thus be settled. Christ's exam. ple does not bind us to do exactly as he did, for he was circumcised, kept the passover, and observed the seventh day sabbath, according to the dispensation under which he lived; but we are not required to do these things."-Scott's Com. vol. iii. p. 13.

initiating ordinance of the Christian dispensation,” in sect. the next affirms it to be a compliance with a supposed II. law respecting washing the Jewish high-priest! The Christ not a

Levitical Doctor surely forgot that Christ was not a High Priest

priest. after the order of Aaron, but “after the order of Mel. Heb. vi. 20. chizedec.” As a Jew it would have been criminal instead of praiseworthy, for our Lord to have appropriated to himself any of the ceremonies belonging solely to the tribe of Levi; and no one has pretended to affirm any thing respecting the washing of Melchizedec. Indeed, not being of the tribe of Levi, it would have been a direct violation of the ceremonial law for Christ to have partaken of any of the ceremonies peculiar to the Levites.

These and similar attempts to divert the baptism of Christ's Christ from the great object “ of setting as an example

example

obligatory. that we should follow his steps,” serve only, as error ever does, as the dark ground of the painting, to show out the beauty of truth with the greater effect. When it is remembered that divine authority has affirmed he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” we need no longer search amidst Jewish rites for a reason why our

& "There was a kind of baptism among the Jews, viz: that of the priests at their consecration, Lev. viii. 6. Now as Christ had submitted to circumcision, the initiating ordinance of the Mosaic dispensation, it was necessary He should submit to the initiating ordinance of the Christian dispensation, instituted by the same authority. But it was necessary on another account. Our Lord represented the High Priest, and was to be the High Priest over the house of God: now as the High Priest was initiated into his office by washing and anointing, so must Christ be; hence He was baptized and anointed by the Holy Ghost. Thus he fulfilled the righteous ordinance of his initiation into the office of High Priest, and thus was prepared to make an atonement for the sins of mankind."- Dr. Clarke's Comment. Matt. iii.

« PreviousContinue »