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Baptism-Two Baptisms that of John and of Christ-That of John was by water, a Jewish ordinance, and used preparatory to religious conversion and worship—hence John used it as preparatory to conversion to Christianity-Jesus submitted to it to fulfil all righteousness-others as to a baptism to repentance-but it was not initiative into the Christian church, but belonged to the Old Testament-Nor was John under the Gospel, but under the Law.
I COME now to the argument, which the Quakers have to offer for the rejection of the use of Baptism, and of the sacrament of the Supper; and first for that of the use of the former rite.
Two baptisms are recorded in Scripture, the baptism of John, and the baptism of Christ.
The baptism of John was by water, and a Jewish ordinance. The washing of gar
ments and of the body, which were called Baptisms by the Ellenistic Jews, were enjoined to the Jewish nations as modes of purification from legal pollutions, symbolical of that inward cleansing of the heart, which was necessary to persons before they could hold sacred offices, or pay their religious homage in the temple, or become the true worshippers of God. The Jews therefore, in after times, when they made proselytes from the Heathen-nations, enjoined these the same customs as they observed themselves. They generally circumcised, at least, the proselytes of the covenant, as a mark of their incorporation into the Jewish church, and they afterwards washed them with water, or baptized them ; which was to be a sign to them of their having been cleansed from the filth of idolatry, and an emblem of their fitness, in case of a real cleansing, to receive the purer precepts
of the Jewish religion, and to walk in newness of life.
Baptism therefore was a Jewish ordinance, used on religious occasions ; and therefore John, when he endeavoured by means of his preaching to prepare the Jews for the coming of the Messiah, and their minds for the reception of his new religion, used it as a symbol of the purification of heart that was 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
And he now submitted to baptism. For as Aaron and his sons were baptized previously to their taking upon them the of. 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 baptism 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 profes3 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 1
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 new kingdom.
Second baptism, or that of Christ-this the baptism of the Gospel-this 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 spiritual—it 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