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In connexion with this account of John's baptism* let us spend a few thoughts upon the particular baptism which was administered by John to the Messiah.
We can have no difficulty in concluding that the baptism administered to Christ, could not have been. precisely for the same reason, nor have imported the fcaine thing in all respects, with the other baptisms of John. For it could not have been a symbol of his being cleansed from sin, and becoming spiritually prepared to receive the Messiah, as king of Zion; he himself being that person, and antecedently holy.
Neither could it have been a seal of the covenant. That he had already received in his infancy. Nor could it have been an initiation into thtfLevitical priesthood. He was not made priest of the Aar"onic order. "For," Heb. vii. 14, 15; 16. "It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe, Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident; for that after the similitude of Melchisedec, there ariseth another priest, who is made, 720/ after the law of a carnal commandment; but after the power of an endless life." Christ was indeed priest, as well as prophet, and king. These three characters were combined in him, as they were in Melchisedec, his principal type. But his priesthood had no connexion with that which was ordained by the Sinai law. To have assumed this sort of priesthood therefore, instead of being a fulfilment of righteousness, would have been a violation of rule.
What then was the import of this baptism?
It is to be remembered, that the three offices ofprophet, priest, and king, in the Messiah, were inseparable. His manifestation to Israel, was therefore a manifestation of him, in all these respects. His baptism, which connected with it John's testimony ; the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him in the form of a dove ; and the voice from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," was this manifestation: His baptism was eminently distinguished from John's other baptisms, by these miraculous events, which were a concurrent and decisive testimonial, that Jesus was the true Messiah. This seems to be confirmed by all the circumstances which preceded. Let us briefly run over them. "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan (a considerable distance) to John, to be baptized of him." He came to John, because he was expressly designated, to manifest him to Israel, as the true Messiah. No other reason forhis coming to John, can be assigned. John had been told, John i. 33. "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." He had not been told to baptize Jesus. When Jesus therefore requested baptism of him, he refused. What reason does he give? "I have need to be baptized of thee; andcomest thou to me?" / am the servant. You are the master. I have need to be your disciple. It is unseemly for me to number you with mine. Jesus replied, "Suffer it to be so now." I am indeed your Lord and Master, the Messiah; and you might well hesitate, if I proposed myself for baptism, upon the principle of being a sinner. But there is another reason why I should be baptized. This is requisite as a regular manifestation of me, in my official character. The reason is then given, "For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteouness." John's hesitancy was because he knew him to be the Messiah. And Christ's request to be baptized was on that very ground, that he was the Messiah. John was convinced by the reason assigned, that it was a part of his official duty, by thfs symbol, as well as by a direct testimony, to manifest him ; and that it was incumbent on Jesus to be thus manifested. Here was right, with respect to both. This right, i. e, the propriety of John's baptizing Jesus, and of Jesus' being baptized, must be the righteousness intended by Jesus, in the reason assigned.
Righteousness supposes a law. What law was it which required this baptism? I answer, typical usage. This typical usage originated in the requirement that the priests of the Aaronic order, who, as is to be collected from Numbers iv. 3, assumedjlieir office at 30 years of age, should be washed with water, as a symbol of their investiture with this office, and of their being true priests of the law. Symbols of this kind, plainly grounded upon this law, had ever been in use, in investing men, with the priestly, prophetic, and regal offices. And as these offices were all united and consummated in Christ, as Messiah, it became necessary, (to wffwov), it was comely, suitable, regular, that a corresponding symbol should attend his public induction into his Messiahship. Thus he became in all things like unto his brethren, a partaker even in their symbolical investitures. Thus also it appeared, that he took not this honor upon himself, the honor of a priesthood, after the order of Melchisedec, rashly, and in a disorderly way, as an impostor, but was called of God, as was Aaron.
Respecting the Lord's Day, the Lord's Supper, and Christian baptism. In this chapter it is attempted to shew, that these ordinances are to be observed by Christian believers, as seals of the same covenant, oj which the Jewish Sabbath, the Passover, and Circumcision, were seals.
THAT what is called the Christian Church is the continuity of Israel, as an indissolvable society; and that this society, from its commencement to its completion, is founded upon the covenant of circumcision, as its constitutional basis, has been evinced. That the Sinai covenant was essentially distinct from this covenant, and added, as a temporary institution, and for temporary purposes, has also been proved. That this covenant, so far as it was of a peculiar character, as a shadow of good things to come, was to wax old, and vanish away, at the appearing of Christ; and did, in fact, become entirely obsolete, by the accomplishment of its typical design in his death, is made evident, by several passages which have been already introduced into this work, and is not controverted by any denomination of Christians." We are therefore to consider that covenant, viewed as a separate and distinct institution, as though it never had been. I say, as a distinct institution. For there were some precepts wrought into it, which were not peculiar to it; which are essential to every institution of God, and of eternal obligation. These precepts are not improperly called moral; in distinction from positive. Such, for example, is the precept, which requires us, to love the Lord our God with all our heart; and our neighbour as ourselves. Such is the precept, which requires justice in all our dealings. These precepts are not appropriate- to the Sinai covenant. They extend to all beings; to all dispensations; to all times; and can never cease to he obligatory. These precepts were not properly added. They were previously in force.
We are then to consider the Church of God, after the resurrection of Christ, as holding the same moral position, that it held, anterior to the Sinai covenants Now, to the Church, in this state, there were appended three ordinances;* the. sabbath, thepassover, and circumcision. We will begin with the sabbath.
It is a matter of debate among divines, whether the Sabbath was observed during the period which preceded the exodus. Those who wish to examine this subject minutely, will find assistance, in President Edr wards's Discourses, upon the Change, and Perpetuity of the Sabbath; in that part of Dr. Paley's Moral Philosophy, which treats upon this subject; and in Witsius, and Baxter. The limits we have prescribed to ourselves will not admit of this investigation. Perhaps the observations which will be introduced, will convince the reader, that, as the Church did certainly exist, there is great reason to presume it never was without the enjoyment of the Sabbath; that it is as old as creation; or, at least, as the introduction of the jiew covenant; and that the observation of it cannot cease to be obligatory so long as the world endures.
It is a certain fact, that the Sabbath was appointed to Israel before the introduction of the Sinai covenant. See Exodus, xvi. 23. "And he said unto them. This is that which the Lord hath said. Tomorrow is the rest of the Holy Sabbath, unto the Lord." In the foregoing verse it is said "And it came to pass, that on the sixth day, they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man.'' How came this pre
* Some perhaps will be offended that the term ordinance should be applied %o the sabbath; as we have been accustomed to speak of the ordinances of the Christian Church as two only, baptism and the Lord's supper. They willallow it to bean institution. But the words are so nearly synonymous, that the author hopes he shall be indulged the liberty he takes, in applying the term oicUnance, to the sabbath also.