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sign, to assist in turning the minds of the people to look for, receive, and submit to the burning, purifying baptism of the gospel. In short, water baptism and Christ's, are plainly type and antitype: and accordingly Peter, speaking of the baptism which now saves, uses the Greek word antilypon, 1 Pet. iii. 21.
Peter doubtless knew the type or figure could not save. It is “ the ingrafted word which is able to save" the soul. James i. 21. Christ sanctifies and cleanses the church, “ with the washing of water, by the word.” Eph. v. 26. This “ingrafted word,” this sanctifying “ washing of water by the word," is all inward and spiritual. It is the antitype of the divers washings under Moses, and equally so of water baptism, in every
form. This cleanses the soul, as outward water does the body, and puts away the filth of the spirit, as that does the filth of the flesh. Hence, and hence only, it is saving: herein is the alone propriety of Peter's words, “ baptism doth also now save us.” As Christ came to fulfil the law of commandments, contained in outward ordinances, and to end every dispensation of signs and shadows, he had many things to submit to, on purpose to fulfil the typical righteousness of those dispensations. Hence he was circumcised, kept the law, celebrated the passover, &c. On the same ground, it behoved bim to be baptized in water, the last lively typical representation of his own great work of sanctification; that is, the last in the course of time preceding his beginning the publication of the gospel word from Galilee. But when he came to John to be baptized of him, John not knowing his design in it, nor why it must be so, forbade him, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Mat. iii. 14. It is not at all strange that John forbade him ; for he knew his own baptism, being outward, typical, and preparatory, was to decrease and give place to Christ's. It was "unto repentance." By a total outside immersion, it pointed out the necessity of the removal of all sin, and bringing " forth fruits meet for repentance.” It was used for his manifestation to Israel, whose fiery baptism alone could effect this inward cleansing from all sin. Christ was neither ignorant of himself, nor guilty of sin. Hence he could not receive John's figurative immersion upon the same grounds as
others did, neither in order to repentance and remission of sin, nor in order to be made manifest to himself. John doubtless marvelled, therefore, to see him come to his baptism. For though it seems he did not, before this, so fully know him to be the Christ as he did afterwards, yet on his now coming to him, it seems he had some sense and knowledge of it, and marvelled at his coming. But our Lord graciously condescended to show on what grounds it was now necessary: that it was neither in order to repentance in him, nor to a manifestation of him to himself, nor yet to perpetuate a symbolical institution under the gospel; but, on the contrary, to fulfil it. Christ knew the sign must precede the substance. He knew the many symbols of the law were but “a shadow of things to come,” Col. ii. 17; that the law, with all its figurative offerings, cleansings, and divers washings, was a school-master, for a season, to lead to himself, the substance. See Gal. iii. 24. He knew “the baptism which John preached” was the peculiar sign or representation of his own, and was used to prepare the people's minds for it, and thereby prepare in their hearts the way of the Lord, and lead forward to his saving manifestation to Israel. Therefore, had he begun the publication of the gospel of that spiritual kingdom, which is without signs and shadows, and cometh not with outward observation, before John, the administrator of a baptism figurative thereof, had first fulfilled his course in that figurative administration, it would by no means so fully, strikingly, and instructively have answered and illustrated the designs of Eternal Wisdom, as his deferring it till afterwards ; for, how then could John's work have been strictly according to God's design in sending him; that is, to prepare the way of the Lord; to go before him; and make ready a people prepared for him? See Luke i. 17.
Hence it was necessary, that in the course of God's divine providence and divers dispensations, he who had to go
before our Lord in the power and spirit of Elias, thus to prepare his way, should be sent seasonably to begin and“ fulfil his course,” in that ministration and baptism which was in order to the manifestation of the great gospel baptizer, before the publication of that word which began from Galilee, after his baptism.
Hence, also, it was necessary that Jesus should be baptized in the figure, and thus accomplish what he had to do outwardly in the fulốilment of water baptism, previously to that wonderful descent of the holy ghost upon him. For as he was to be "anointed to preach the gospel,” (see Luke iv. 18.) and as this anointing was by the spirit of the Lord that was upon him, and not by his baptism in water, therefore, as the time drew near that he must enter, thus anointed, upon his public ministry, it behoved him first to submit to John's baptism, that all things might be done in proper season, and follow in regular succession one after another.
The Almighty had given John beforehand to understand, that he on whom he should see the holy ghost not only descending, but also remaining on him," the same is he which baptizeth with the holy ghost." John i. 33. Thus was the descent and abiding of the holy ghost, even on our Lord himself, pointed out as that which alone could qualify to baptize others with it; and it will hold good of all his disciples and ministers to the world's end. Therefore they have bis promise to be with them by his spirit, the holy ghost, in the execution of his great commission, to baptize into the divine name and power of Father, son, &c. And as all sent by him to baptize with the holy ghost, must be first so baptized themselves, he set the glorious example. And when he came afterwards to send them forth in the great work of baptizing, he declared with divine propriety, " as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." And showing plainly how that was, he “ breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the holy ghost.” John xx. 21, 22. See how exactly he sent them to baptize, &c. as his Father sent him. His Father, sending him to baptise with the holy ghost, breathed it, or caused it to descend and abide upon him. This proved and proclaimed him to be the baptizer with it. He sending his servants to baptize with the same baptism, breathed on them, that they might receive a measure of the qualification as he received of his Father. And this was truly necessary; the same work requires the same qualifications: “ he that believeth on me,” says Christ, " the works that I do, shall he do also." John xiv, 12.
He was not baptized with water, to qualify him so to baptize others; for he baptized none in water; the work which he did in baptism was inward, and with the holy ghost—the spiritual purifying fire of the Lord. He did not breathe on his disciples, and baptize them with the holy ghost, to qualify them to baptize others in water; that had not been sending them, as his Father sent him; it had not been sending them, nor enabling them to do the same work, and baptize with the same baptism, as he did. Had be, after breathing on them, sent them qualified with the holy ghost, to baptize with a mere element, it had been very different from his Father's sending him in the power and baptism of the holy ghost, to baptize others with the same. And as their qualification to administer his spiritual baptism was that of the holy ghost coming upon them, so, in his own case, the descent and abiding thereof upon him, was the very thing made use of, by the wisdom of God, whereby to manifest him more clearly unto John, as the gospel baptizer. Seeing, therefore, this his qualification for baptizing with his own great gospel baptism, which is after and superior to all signs, must be received from on high,-before he began that glorious gospel ministry, which is also without signs, it was, as before noted, necessary for him previously to submit to that baptism, which being but a sign, was to decrease and end in the substance which the sign pointed to. Hence the necessity of his waiting till John had first baptized many of the people, borne testimony to one coming after him, and turned their minds to the necessity of his more spiritual and refining baptism. And hence also the necessity of his receiving that baptism which was only in the sign, and to vanish as the substance was experienced; not after, but before, he received that descent and abiding of the holy ghost upon him, which pointed him out as the great administrator of that baptism which, in the very order of things, is after that which is but a shadow of the good things to come.
Thus the type was kept in its time and place; before, not after, the antitype. But had not Christ's baptism in the type, to fulfil it, as a thing ending in the antitype, been preposterous-had it been after his glorious antitypical baptism and anointing, by the descent and abiding of the holy ghost upon him? This being the case, there is evidently a very beautiful display of wisdom and pro
priety in our Lord's answer to John, when John forbade him. Indeed every part of it, to me, seems full of divine instruction. It satisfied John, and removed all his scruples; for though he did not at first know that Jesus must be baptized as well as circumcised, in the figure, and submit to the other figurative institutions of the law, in order to fulfil all the figurative or typical righteousness of the several dispensations preceding the gospel; yet he seems well to have known that his baptism must vanish and decrease, as being in its nature outward, and in its design but preparatory to Christ's. Hence, says he, “ He must increase, but I must decrease." John iii. 30. “ I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the holy ghost,” verse 11. And thus knowing the preparatory, decreasing, and terminating nature and design of water baptism, what further he wanted to know, to induce him to baptize our Lord, was, that in order properly to decrease and fulfil what he already knew must decrease and be fulfilled, the Lord of life and glory must stoop to it himself; and therefore, as soon as the blessed Jesus had convinced him of this, he readily, without more ado, baptized him. And of this, our Lord's answer at once convinced him, it being full to the purpose. Let us trace it.
The very first word is instructive. “Suffer it to be so," Mat. iii. 15, as if he had said: I indeed have no need of it, no sin to repent of; nor do I wish it done to manifest me to myself. It is not at all of necessity to me in this sense. Thou, John, art therefore rather to suffer it, than administer it as thou dost to others, to teach them their necessity of a thorough cleansing, and turn their minds to me and my baptism, which alone can effect it. It is true, as thou art sensible, this is not my baptism, nor any part of my gospel dispensation: mine, all have need of: thou art right in saying thou thyself hast need to be baptized of me. And as mine is the alone gospel baptism, it is not strange that thou admirest at my submitting to that of water; for truly it would be highly contrary to the purity and simplicity of my gospel, to perpetuate any ceremonial observances, under the full sunshine thereof. But this is by no means my intention, bu directly the reverse; I do it on purpose to fulfil outside things, and make way for me to introduce and publish to the world,