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As circumcision was the initiating ordinance into the church under the legal, so is baptism under the present dispensation. The one rite sensibly exhibited the putting off the old man with his deeds ; the other represents the putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. The former sacrament preaches the necessity of alteration in life and principle; the latter shows wherein it consists. They both cry down the attempt of making the old man good, according to the philosophy of reason; and jointly oppose all that false holiness of corrupted nature, which not only militates against the true, but against truth itself revealed from heaven. There is no real holiness or religion in the world, but that which is imparted from the skies. EVÉRY GOOD GIFT, AND EVERY PERFECT GIFT, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.*
As Abraham and all believers, with their children, under the law, were circumcised in the name of the Alehim, t and thus were formally brought into the bond of the covenant ; so believers, with their children, under the gospel, are privileged to be baptized into the same
James i. 17,
Gen, xvii. 7, 8.
name, * Gal, iii, 28,
name, only more expressly drawn out into that of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and are thereby made inheritors of the same promises with the fathers. There is but one Lord, to whom they are dedicated; one faith, in which they believe and serve him; one circumcision, or one baptism, by which they profess to belong to him. The general assembly of the first-bom, whose names are written in heaven, make but one church, who have all been baptized into Christ and have put on Christ; where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female; but where they are all one in Christ Jesus.
Of this the Israelites were reminded in that prophetic precept which enjoined, that as the members of the Jewish church were, so should the believing strangers, or proselyted Gentiles, who became members of that church, be, before the Lord. And believers under the gospel should recollect, that they are not a new house, temple, or olive-tree, distinct and separate from that of the patriarchs and the Hebrews, but parts of the same one great house and temple, branches grafted into one antient olive tree, fellow-heirs, united brethren, and joint members, with all that have gone before them, in every spiritual privilege and mercy. We have no new religion ; but the inseparable same, only under different forms adapted to different times, with the faithful Jews, and with their predecessors the patriarchs, up to • Abel and Adam.
Indeed, they had their doctrine of baptisms as well as we, and much to the same signification :* our distinct advantage in the flesh is, that, now all things being ful6Hled which related to Christ, the types and shadows of the law concerning those things are abated in force of practice, because no longer necessary when the things themselves have been manifested; and therefore two plain easy sacraments, for memorials, are instituted instead of a whole code of ceremonies, which were expressly imposed only till the time of reformation,+ i. e, till Christ should come, and alter the Jewish dispens sation
# Numb, xv. 15, 16,
The first of these sacraments (baptism) intimates a " death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness; for being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, we are hereby [i. e. by his death and our new birth] made the children of grace." We are in the unbelieving world at large, till by the outward riţe we are brought into the professing church : and we are afterwards usbelievers in the world, til, by the thing signified in the rite, we are made" members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven."
When the soul is truly turned by the Lord unto himself, and is made deeply sensible of sin by the convictions of the law; the first manifestation of mercy to it is to bring it to Christ the propitiation and atonement; and the next, to seal it with the grace of the Holy Spirit, really if not in full display, to the conscience, that it may know, love, and enjoy the blessings of redemption.
The learned reader may see a great deal upon this subject in SELD. de Synedr. Hebr. l. i. c. 3. p. 15–23, + Heb. ix. 10.
To this purpose is that remarkable passage--Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.* The apostle alludes to the figure in the ceremonial law, which prescribed the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice upon the worshipper, and to the washing at the laver which stood near the altar; and, under the symbol of this well known ceremony, he invites the believing Hebrews to approach unte God, as sinners, by the blood of Jesus the mediator, applied through faith, and by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Thus also they washed their garments under the idea of purification for the body, or the cloathing of the body ;t and they washed the body itself for the soul, under the spiritual intention of its being the garment of the soul. They were to be clean throughout, not merely in putting away the filth of the flesh, or the literal impurity which may cleave to it, but in being cleansed from all inward filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God: or fas the apostle expresses it elsewhere concerning the Corin, thians) ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye ure justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by, or in, the Spiriß of our God. To this effecţ likewise is the allusion of clean garments, undefiled garments, walking in white raiment, the being without spot or wrinkle, and the like phrases; all which denote the purity, which is main
* Heb. x. 22. + Exod. xix. 10. 14. Gen. xxxv. 2.
I Lev. xiv. 8. xv. 13, Exod. xxx, 20. 2 Kings v. 14. Ps.li.7. Isa. iv. 4.
tained in Christians, in part now but perfectly hereafter, by the cleansing renovation of the Spirit of God. The like sense do our Lord's words convey, when he affirms, that except a man be born of water, and (then explaining what the water means) of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The type is to be used; but the spirit of the type must accompany it, or the type fails of its intention. If we trust only in the form, we have nothing but the form; but if, through the form, we reach after the substance; then the form hath attaineda its end, in our good and in the glory of him that ordained it. But, alas, upon the slightest view, what a falling off is here in the religious world? “There are multitudes (said one of the most excellent of men) that are running headlong in the course tending to destruction, through the midst of all the means of salvation; even the saddest way of all to it, through word, and sacraments, and all heavenly ordinances, walking hell-wards. Christians, and yet no Christians; baptized, and yet unbaptized. But we have no other word nor other sacraments to recommend, than those that have been used so long to no purpose: only we would call men, from the dead forms, to seek the living power of them, that they perish not.*”
Of old, the apostle says of the Jews, all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the seu ; but all believed not; and therefore they were overthrown in the wilderness. They all used the form and were equal partakers of the outward sign; but those only,
LEIGHTON'S Com, on 1 Pet, iii, 21.