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the baptism of the Gospel, in contradistinction to the former, which was that of the Law.
This baptism is totally distinct from the former. John himself said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance ; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire *"
From these words it appears that this baptism is distinct in point of time from the former; for is was to follow the baptism of John and secondly, in nature and essence; for whereas that of John was by water, this was to be by the Spirit.
This latter distinction is insisted upon by John in other places. For when he was questioned by the Pharisees, "why he baptized if he was not that Christ, nor Elias, nor that prophet †," he thought it a sufficient excuse to say, "I baptize with water. That is, I baptize with water only. I use only an antient Jewish custom. intrude upon the office of Christ, who is
I do not
́coming after me, or pretend to his baptism of the Spirit. We find also, that no less than three times in eight verses, when he speaks of his own baptism, he takes care to add to it the word "water," to distinguish it from the baptism of Christ.
As the baptism of John cleansed the body from the filth of the flesh, so that of Christ was really to cleanse the soul from the filth of sin. Thus John, speaking of Jesus Christ in allusion to this baptism, says, "whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire t." By this he insinuates, that in the same manner as the farmer with the fan in his hand winnows the corn, and separates the light and bad grains from the heavy and the good, and in the same manner as the fire afterwards destroys the chaff,-so the baptism of Christ, for which he was preparing them, was of an 'inward and spiritual nature, and would effectually destroy the light and corrupt af
*John i. 25-34..
Matt. iii. 12.
fections, and thoroughly cleanse the floor of
the human heart.
This baptism too was to be so searching as to be able to penetrate the hardest heart, and to make even the Gentiles the real children of Abraham. "For think not*," says John, in allusion to the same baptism, to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”—As if he had said, I acknowledge that you Pharisees can, many of you, boast of relationship to Abraham, by a strict and scrupulous attention to shadowy and figurative ordinances; that many of you can boast of relationship to him by blood, and all of you by circumcision: but it does not fol low therefore that you are the children of Abraham. Those only will be able to boast of being his seed, to whom the fan and the fire of Christ's baptism shall be applied. The baptism of him, who is to come after me, and whose kingdom is at hand, is of that spiritual and purifying nature, that it
*Matt. iii. 9.
will produce effects very different from those of an observance of outward ordinances. In can so cleanse and purify the hearts of men, that if there are Gentiles in the most distant lands, ever so far removed from Abraham, and possessing hearts of the hardness of stones, it can make them the real children of Abraham in the sight of God.
This distinction between the watery baptism of John and the fiery and spiritual baptism of Christ was pointed out by Jesus himself; for he is reported to have appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, and to have commanded them, " that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which," says he, " ye have heard from me. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence *"
St. Luke also records a transaction which took place, in which Peter was concerned, and on which occasion he first discerned the
* Acts i. 4.
baptism of Christ, as thus distinguished, in the words which have just been given: “And as I began to speak," says he, "the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John, indeed, baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized by the holy Spirit."
A similar distinction is made also by St. Paul; for when he found that certain disciples had been baptized only with the baptism of Johnt, he laid his hands upon them and baptized them again,—but this was evidently with the baptism of the Spirit. In his Epistle also to the Corinthians we find the following expression: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body."
* Acts xi. 15, 16.
† Acts xix.
1 Corr. xii. 13.