« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Babylon is not yet so fallen, as to rise no more: she is still lurking in a mystery. She is still mystery Babylon the great, and still the mother of many harlots; thousands are ensnared among some or other of her daughters, and are not aware of her cup. May the Lord graciously preserve the honest hearted, of every denomination, from the harmful influences of all her many and artful sorceries, and keep alive their hunger and thirst after true righteousness. I have no doubt but that, if I am finally so happy as to reign in life by Jesus Christ, my only hope and saviour, I shall be there accompanied by thousands, who have through their whole lives lived under the vail, as to outward ordinances ; but who, having in great sincerity done what they believed was their duty, in singleness as unto God, and not unto men, are and finally will be well accepted of him, who seeth not as man seeth, but looks through all outside things to the heart. And yet, on the contrary, I do firmly believe many, who have begun and run well for a season, have been by degrees, as outward things have become more and more considerable with them, drawn more and more from the true hunger, and been more and more easy and satisfied with little or nothing of the true bread, water, and wine of the kingdom, till at length they have centred in formality, and sat down in a rest short of the soul's salvation. That thou mayst shun this dangerous rock, dear reader, and be preserved living and growing in the holy root of divine life, to the end of thy stay here, and finally admitted to the joys of the blessed, forever to adore and bless the God of all grace and true consolation, is the prayer of thy sincere friend, and willing servant in the labour and travail of the gospel,
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST, &c.
Of the regular order and succession of divine dispensations. Signs and
figures pointed at life and substance. Hence Christ deferred his gospel ministry, till John's course, in a baptism but figurative of his own, was fulfilled. John's baptism and Christ's are type and antitype. Christ sent his disciples to baptize with his own baptism. So breathes on them the holy ghost. Great wisdom even in the timing our Lord's baptism by John, also in his answer to John. John preached the kingdom but at hand. In its nature and fulness, it is after, not before, nor joined with the type. John prepared the way. Some took the kingdom by force. All types end in the antitype. Christ's baptism cleanses thoroughly, as John's was total immersion. A picture, as truly a man, as water baptism Christ's. A single eye full of light, and then the shadow is behind us. Christ was baptized in water, not to continue, but fulfil, that decreasing sign; and so to make way for the increasing substance. He also ate, and thus fulfilled the passover.
It is very observable, that our Lord Jesus Christ deferred the open and express promulgation of the gospel of the kingdom till John the Baptist, his immediate forerunner, had fulfilled his course; and that not before, but after John had finished his preparatory ministration, ceased the voice crying in the wilderness, prepare, &c. quite ended his own decreasing work in that outward elementary baptism, which, as a sign, was to precede and prepare the way for Christ's, and was shut up in prison,-, he, the Lord of life and glory, the end and ender of all typical dispensations, immediately entered upon the publication of the gospel word; the new, the increasing and ever-continuing dispensation of life, substance, and salvation. For we read, Mat. iv. 12, “ Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee." And verse 17, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, repent; for the king. dom of heaven is at hand." This kingdom, now so near at hand, and which John had just before proclaimed to be so, was and is inward and spiritual; for our Lord himself declares, “ The kingdom of God is within you,” Luke xvii. 21. And it is clear that he waited for John's course to be first fulfilled, before he ever began publicly to preach it. See also Mark i. 14, 15, “ Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God; and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The gospel is not sign or figure, but life and substance, the "power of God to salvation,” free from all types and shadows, being the last and lasting dispensation; and which was not to commence in its general fulness, till after all others. Christ is often spoken of as coming after John ; and John, as going, or coming, or being sent before Christ: and therefore, as John's course in the very last of the shadows, water baptism, was now completed, the great minister of the sanctuary very pertinently, at the very beginning of his own gospel preaching, proclaimed, “ the time is fulfilled.” I know not what words he could have used more proper and significant, to introduce the glorious gospel, and teach mankind that all signs were to end in the substance. And from a sincere wish for the real good, and solid information of mankind, I desire this one word, “ fulfilled," in this and divers other places, may be specially noticed, and deeply considered. It is of vast importance.
And why did Jesus wait till John's course was fulfilled ? why then, immediately on hearing of his imprisonment, did he begin to preach the gospel of the kingdom as then just at hand? and why was he so careful, at his very entrance on this great work, to make this special declaration, “ the time is fulfilled ?" There is deep instruction in it all. He knew the times and seasons, though many who could discern the face of the sky, and had understanding in the forebodings of change in regard to the weather, were and are ignorant of the signs of the times; and tbrc gh this ignorance many did, and many still do, retain the shadow out of all proper season.
But Christ, as he knew, so
he carefully observed, the right time. He would have all things pertaining to his kingdom, especially his own immediate transactions, take place in their proper seasons. He would not hasten his first great miracle in Cana, of turning water into wine, even though his own mother solicitously prompted him to that glorious exertion of his divinity. He would not go up to the feast till the right time. So neither would he begin his own public ministration, (which was for the ending of all shadows, the abolition and blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances,) till John's, which was much in the shadow, was fulfilled. “The law and the prophets prophesied until John.” John was himself both a prophet, and under the law, yet he and his ministration were until Christ. His coming after the rest of the prophets, being sent immediately before the face of the Lord, and to prepare his way, in no wise hindered his being a prophet bimself. Christ testifies, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater. Mat. xi. 11. He also says, Mat. v. 17, 18, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil; for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulâlled.”
Here we see he came to fulfil both the law, and the predictions of the prophets. Accordingly, we read of divers things said to be done, that it might be fulblled which was spoken by the prophets, or spoken aforetime. Hence, though John came after the others, and as it were reached from them to Christ, yet be too came under the law, and was one among the prophets, which Christ came not to destroy, but whose predictions and forerunning dispensations he came to fulfil. John's prophetic declaration was eminently pertinent, in regard to the great work of Christ in gospel baptism, the sanctification of souls; and so was his figurative immersion: and Christ, in his saving baptism, amply fulfils both the propliecy and the sign. Christ was“ made under the law” himself, Gal. iv. 4.; then surely so was John. And seeing John's watery ministration was to prepare Christ's way, and lead to his saving baptism, Christ having thus carefully deferred his own public ministration till John's was fulfilled, as soon as this was done, and John cast into prison, the right time being now exactly arrived, he went forthwith, on hearing of John's imprisonment, into Galilee, and there and “from that time began to preach,” and proclaim the word and gospel of that unshadowy dispensation and kingdom, which ends and fulfils all mere signs and figures, and is to increase and remain of perpetual continuance. Hence Peter declares the word " was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.” Acts x. 37. And may we not safely conclude, from Peter's so particularly mentioning this, as being after John's baptism, and from the evangelist's mentioning it as after his imprisonment, that they had heard our Lord express his acting on special principle in thus deferring his own public ministry, till his forerunner's, in that forerunning baptism, was fulfilled; and especially as his going into Galilee, to begin his said public ministry, is expressly said to be, " that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet ?" Mat. iv. 14.
Thus it seems he acted with special design, both as to the place where, and the time when he began the open publication of the glorious gospel. It was therefore with divine pertinency, that as he began this gracious publication, he first of all announced “ the time is fulgilled.” His hour was now come. For well knowing when it was, and when it “was not yet come,” he had now waited till John had first preached, according to Paul's testimony," the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel;" and so had “ fulfilled his course.” See Acts xiii. 24, 25. All this tends forcibly and beautifully to open both the necessity of his being baptized of John just then when he was, and the meaning of his answer, when John forbade him.. John knew his own baptism was not saving, was not Christ's; but was to decrease and end in Christ's, being only designed for our Lord's manifestation to Israel, and to prepare the people for his saving baptism. And knowing this, John plainly and honestly testifies, " that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” John i. 31. This plain and full testimony, from the mouth of John himself, at once evinces that his baptism, being but with water, was far different from Christ's, and inferior to it; and that it was to introduce, or, as a