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speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office; if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them." This language intimates, that he expected and calculated, that the instructions which he was now communicating, would come to their knowledge. But what reason for this calculation, if a judicial act had separated them finally from all knowledge of Gospel truth?
That the idea which has been given of the kingdom, which was to be taken from the unbelieving Jews, and given to the Gentiles, is correct, is proved by several corresponding passages. I will stay to mention but one. This is in the 17th of Luke. "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come; he answered, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, lo, here; or lo, there ; for behold, the kingdom of God is within you, (ev vy.lv) in the midst of you, or among you." Certainly the Pharisees, in their habits of speaking,attached a distinct ideato the phrase,the kingdom of God,and of this kingdom they had gotten their idea from the prophetic writings. The subject to which they applied this phrase was no other than the kingdom of their expected Messiah.— The question itself imports this. The answer of our Lord is in conformity to this idea. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." The advent of the kingdom of which you speak, is not attended mth that external pomp which your proud imaginations have fancied. This kingdom is of a spiritual na* ture. And I telly ou that it is in the midst of you.
Respecting John's ministry, and baptism; and the baptism which was administered by John to the Messiah.
THE nature of John's office, and baptism, is to be learned from his character, his mission, and the effects of his ministry. Here we must have recourse to prophecy. The prophetic designation of John, is found in Isaiah xl. 3, 4, 5. "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert, a high way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together-; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Also in Malachi iii. 1. "Behold I will »send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me." He is intended by Elijah the prophet, in the 5th verse of the 4th chapter. The effects of his ministry are described in the 6th verse. "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."
John's office then, was to prepare the way of the Messiah. This was to be done morally; by effecting a reformation in Israel. It was to be done also, by announcing his approach, and pointing him out, when he should actually appear ; by recognizing his Messiahship, and asserting his dignity, and glory. Accordingly we find his preaching to' have been, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The Messiah is coming to fulfil the promises made to the fathers. Pre. pare to meet him, by forsaking your sins. For you must be holy, to receive rightly so holy a character. His baptism is expressly called by Paul, Acts xix. 4* "The baptism of repentance." The subjects of the reformation wrought, in connexion with their baptism, openly confessed their sins." Mat. ii. 6. "And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." "He came for a witness, to bear witness of that light." John i. 7. Accordingly, in an express manner, he pointed out the Messiah when he came into his view. 29th verse, and on. "The next day, John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man, which is preferred before me; for he is before me, and I knew him not J but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water." John then, had a designation entirely different from any other character that has ever appeared, or ever will appear. And his baptism was entirely distinguishable from all preceding, and all following baptisms. To be sure it had a similar moral meaning with all other baptisms enjoined by God, whether before Christ, or after him. For they are all symbolical of internal purity; a cleansing from sin. So far, if you will, John's baptism was Christian baptism. But so far, it was Jewish, or Mosaic baptism also, or a baptism according to the law. For the bap tisms under the law were symbolical of inward spiritual cleansing, no less than those under the Gospel. Still John's baptism had a peculiar character. It was different from all other baptisms, essentially so. It was not an ap pointed seal of God's gracious covenant. Those to whom it was administered, were already subjects of this seal. They carried it in their flesh. It was not the baptism instituted by Christ, to be administered to converts from the Gentile world. This was to be, "into (eis) the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost." Into this name, baptism could not yet be administered.— For the Son was not yet manifested, and exalted to his kingdom. He had not yet bsen manifested to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead. And the Holy Ghost was not yet given, for Jesus was not yet glorified. Christian baptism is not a preparation, for the appearance of the Messiah; but looks back to him as already come. Christian baptism is administered, as expressive, that Jesus is glorified, and that the Spirit is given. The disciples of John were not as such, the disciples of Christ. Many of the former, no doubt, became the latter. But they are often spoken of as distinct and separate bodies.
John's baptism therefore, let the mode of it have been what it would, was appropriate to him. It was limited to his ministry, and terminated with the close of it. This is so plain a case, that perhaps to add any farther proof, would be entirely superfluous. But I am constrained to take notice of one other, and that the rather, because it is so often perverted and abused.— This is found in the beginning of the 19th chapter of the Acts. I will quote the passage at large. "And it came to pass, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard, whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John's baptism. Then, said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him, which should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve." These twelve persons, called disciples, though now resident at Corinth, were probably Jews. Their having received John's baptism, seems to prove that they were. For his ministry was addressed to the Jews only, and confined to the wilderness of Judea. They were disciples, as they belong
led to the kingdom of God generally, i. c. without respect to an immediate discipleship to Christ. They were those who had been waiting for redemption in Israel. Perhaps they had some knowledge, and belief in the dispensation, of the Gospel, and in Christ, as the Messiah. Be this however as it may; they were subjects of John's baptism only. They were unacquainted even with the name of the Holy Ghost; the gift of which attended the baptism into Christ, in distinction from the baptism of John. They were now baptized by Paul, in the name of the Lord Jesus; in consequence of which, they received the Holy Ghost, in his miraculous influences. Here then, was a complete rebaptization; or else, the baptism of John, and Christian baptism were materially different. A rebaptization will not be pretended. Therefore John's baptism was of a peculiar nature, and confined to him. To evade this, it is alledged, that Paul did not here baptize these persons; but that the 5th verse, "Andwhen they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus," is merely a continuance of Paul's testimony respecting John; i. e. Paul says, when the people heard what John said, that they should believe, in Christ, then they were baptized by John in the name of the Lord Jesus. But this is wresting the passage at a shocking rate. It is departing from the plain and obvious meaning of it, and adopting one which invention only can supply. John did indeed preach such doctrine. But there is no evidence that he baptized into the name of Christ. Evidence is altogether the other way. He could not, with propriety do it. For Jesus was not yet manifested. John's baptism was the baptism of repentance, which looked forward to Christ as to come. The baptism into the name of Christ, was a baptism into him as actually come. Besides, the Holy Ghost was given generally, not in consequence of confirmation by the imposition of hands, as a thing quite removed from baptism; but in immediate connexion with baptism itself.*
* It is true, that a few Pcedobaptists have adopted this construction ; but the 'oson is obvious. When men have an end to answer, truth is a secondary oLjers.