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Βαπτισμῶν διδαχή. Heb. vi. 2.
THERE were, as the Apostle to the Hebrews tell
eth us, in sacred use among the Jews diapopol Ban-Heb. ix. 10. Topol, several kinds of baptisms. The learned in Seld. de their laws and customs teach, that they never did Synedriis. receive any person into their covenant, whether that which was more strict, (to which natural Jews and proselytes of righteousness were tied,) or that which was more lax, with which strangers and proselytes of the gate did comply, without a baptism. And that priests and Levites entering into their office Exod. xxix. were to be sanctified by washing with water, we see Numb. viii. plainly prescribed in their Law; likewise that all 6. persons who had contracted any kind of defilement were purified by the like ceremony, particularly chil- Levit. xv.8, dren new born, is expressed there. Moreover, that xxii. 6. it was in use for persons, who were conscious to themselves of having transgressed God's law, being Ezek. xvi. in God's name invited by some person of eminent authority (a prophet, or like a prophet, one commissionated by God) unto repentance and amendment of life, to be washed by him, in testimony of their stedfast purpose to amend, and in hope to obtain pardon from God of their past offences, and to be reinstated in his favour, appears probable by St.John John i. 25, the Baptist's undertaking, and the success thereof. For if the manner of his proceeding had been alto
16, 18, 27.
BARROW, VOL. VI.
gether unusual and unknown, so many, it seems, would not so readily (without any stir or obstacle) have complied therewith; especially among the Scribes and Pharisees, those zealous adherents to traditionary practice, who, to maintain their credit and interest with the people, were so averse from all appearance of novelty. This practice then, of washing in so many cases, and to so many purposes, customary among God's people, to signify men's entering into a new state or course of life, being withal most apt and proper for his design, our blessed Saviour, who never favoured needless innovations, was pleased to assume and impose upon the disciples and followers of his religion, accommodating it to those holy purposes, which we shall now endeavour to declare.
What the action itself enjoined is, what the manner and form thereof, is apparent by the words of Mat. xxviii. our Lord's institution; Going forth therefore, saith Mark xvi. he, teach (or disciple) all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things which I have commanded you.
The action is baptizing, or immersing in water; the object thereof, those persons of any nation whom his ministers can by their instruction and persuasion render disciples; that is, such as do sincerely believe the truth of his doctrine, and seriously resolve to obey his commandments. It is performed in the name; that is, it is ministered by the authority, and bears special relation unto the Persons of the blessed Trinity, as the chief objects of the faith professed, and the sole objects of the obedience undertaken therein; as exhibiting gracious favours unto
the person baptized, and as receiving special obligations from him.
Such is the action itself declared to be; the mystery thereof consists in its being a notable sign to represent, and an authentic seal to ratify, the collation then made of certain great benefits to us; and our undertaking correspondent duties toward God.
The benefits which God then signifies, and (upon due terms) engageth to confer on us, are these:
1. The purgation or absolution of us from the guilt of past offences, by a free and full remission of them, (the which washing by water, cleansing from all stains, doth most appositely represent ;) and consequently God's being reconciled unto us, his receiving us into a state of grace and favour, his freely justifying us, (that is, looking upon us, or treating us as just and innocent persons, although before we stood guilty of heinous sins, and thereupon liable to grievous punishments,) that these benefits are conferred in baptism, many places of scripture plainly shew; [and the primitive church, with most firm and unanimous consent, did believe.] And now, Vid. Just. said Ananias to St. Paul, why dost thou tarry? Tertul. de Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins: Acts xxii. and, Repent, saith St. Peter, preaching to the Jews, Eph. v. 26. and let every one of you be baptized for the remission of sins: and, Christ, saith St. Paul again to the Ephesians, loved his church, and delivered himself for it, that he might sanctify it, purging it by the washing of water, ev ppar (that is, he effectually in baptism consigned to the members of his church that mercy and remission of sins which he purchased and merited by his passion :) and again, Such, saith he to the Corinthians, were some of you; 1Cor. vi.11.
(that is, ye were persons guilty of heinous sins;) but ye have been washed, ye have been sanctified, ye have been justified in the name of our Lord, and by the Spirit of our God: where having been washed in Christ's name doth (in congruity with what is said in other places) denote baptism in his name; being sanctified and justified do express the first benefits accompanying that baptism. And indeed, wherever a general remission of sins, or a full sanctification, or consecration, and justification of men's persons in God's sight, are mentioned; that remission of sins, that separation, or dedication unto God's service; that reception into grace, which are consigned in baptism, are (I conceive) understood; there being no other season or occasion, wherein ordinarily and visibly God doth exhibit those benefits.
Quid festinat innocens ætas
It may be demanded, How children, by reason of their innocent age, are capable of these benefits; ad remis- how they can be pardoned, who never had offended;
catorum? how they can be justified, who never were capable
of being unjust? I briefly answer, that because they come from that race, which by sin had forfeited God's favour, and had alienated itself from him; because also they have in them those seeds of pravity, from which afterward certainly, life continuing, (without God's restraining grace,) will sprout forth innumerable evil actions; therefore that God over-impletur looking all the defects of their nature, both relative apud nos and absolute, or personal, doth assume them into his
Sancto pue-special favour, is no small benefit to them, answerable to the remission of actual sin, and restitution from the state consequent thereon in others.
nocens ætas, &c. Cypr.
Epist. 10. 2. In baptism, the gift of God's holy Spirit is con
ferred, qualifying us for the state into which we then come, and enabling us to perform the duties we then undertake, which otherwise we should be unable to perform; for purification of our hearts from vicious inclinations and desires; for begetting holy dispositions and affections in our souls; for to guide and instuct us, to sustain and strengthen us, to encourage and comfort us in all the course of Christian piety: the which effects are well also figured by water, which purifieth things both from inherent and adherent filth. That this benefit is annexed to baptism, the scripture also teacheth us; Be baptized, saith St. Peter, in the name of Christ, Acts ii. 38. to the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: εἰς ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν, We being baptized in one body, are made to drink of 1 Cor. xii. one Spirit, saith St. Paul: and with the laver of13. regeneration St. Paul again joineth the renovation Nourgi Taλιγγενεσίας, of the Holy Ghost: and it is represented as an ad- ἀνακαίνωσις vantage of our Saviour's baptism above that of John, T that our Lord not only baptized with water to re-Tit. iii. 5. pentance, but with the Holy Ghost, and fire.
Some preventing operations of the Holy Ghost (whereby God freely draweth men to Christianity, persuading their minds to assent thereto, inspiring their hearts with resolutions to comply with it) do precede baptism; but a more full communication thereof, (due by compact, assured by promise,) for the confirming and maintaining us in the firm belief and constant practice of Christianity, is consequent thereon; After ye had believed, ye were sealed by Eph. i. 14. the Holy Spirit of promise, saith St. Paul. To signify which benefit then conferred, the ancient Christians did to baptism annex the chrism, or holy