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to this, another ceremony was appointed by the Jews themselves, derived, as they imagined, from the law of Moses, and certainly stamped with the sancțion of high antiquity. Proud of their own peculiar fanctity, as the elect people of God, and regarding all the rest of mankind as in a state of uncleanness, they would not admit converts into their church without washing, to denote their being cleansed from their natural impurity. Profelytes, thus purified and admitted into the Jewish church by baptism, were faid to be regenerated, or born again: nor was this a mere empty appellation; but being considered dead to their former relations, they became intitled to rights and privileges, from which by nature they were excluded.
The duration of God's covenant with the Jews being limited, the rite of circumcision was of course limited, and was to cease upon the completion of God's promise in the fending of Christ. God had now accomplished his covenant with Abraham by fending that feed of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the · earth were to be blefied. And as there was no longer to be any distinction in favour of the Jews, the children of Abraham, above the other nations of the world, the outward mark of distinction was no longer useful. God was now to show no respect unto persons, to the
circumcised or to the uncircumcised; but in every nation, among the Gentiles as well as among the Jews, he that feared God and worked righteousness was equally to be accepted with him.
But upon the introduction of the new covenant in Christ, God was pleased to institute a new ceremony; whereby mankind at large were to be admitted into covenant with him, as the Jews had been by the rite of circumcifion. For this purpose Christ adopted baptism, which had been consecrated by his brethren after the flesh to a similar use; and ordained it as the rite, by which those, who believed in him, should be admitted to the privileges of his religion. “ He kept the ceremony,” says Bishop Taylor, “ that they, who were led 6s only by outward things, might be the better
called in, and easier enticed into the religion, « when they entered by a ceremony, which * their nation always used in the like cases : $ and therefore, without change of the out“ ward act, he put into it a new spirit, and
gave it a new grace and a proper efficacy : “ he sublimed it to higher ends, and adorned “ it will stars of heaven : he made it to fig
nify greater mysteries, to convey greater blef
fings, to consign the bigger promises, to 6c cleanse deeper than the skin, and to carry “ profelytes farther than the gates of the inftitution. For fo he was pleased to do in 66 the other facrament: he took the ceremony " which he found ready in the custom of the
Jews, where the Major-domo after the Pas“ chal fupper gave bread and wine to every
person of his family; be changed nothing of " it without, but transferred the right to greater “ mysteries, and put his own Spirit to their sign, " and it became a facrament evangelicala."
It was to this facrament of baptism, the institution of which he was anticipating, that our Saviour alluded, when he declared to the Jewish Rabbi, who was inquiring into the nature of his doctrine, “ Verily, verily, I say unto “ thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot “ see the kingdom of God :" and when, in reply to a farther inquiry, he repeated his former declaration, and stated it in more limited and specific terms, “ Verily, verily, I “ fay unto thee, Except a man be born of wa“ ter and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into " the kingdom of God.” It should appear, fay, that he was here alluding by anticipation to the facrament of baptism, which he intended to ordain ; and to that fupernatural grace, which was thereby to be conferred through the instrumentality of water, and by the agency of the Holy Ghost : adopting not only
: Life of Christ, part i. sect. 9.
the ceremony itself, which he meant to exalt to more noble and spiritual purposes ; but also the very term, by which the Jews had defcribed the change wrought in the baptized, although he undoubtedly employed it, in a fimilar indeed, but in an infinitely more dignified sense. To the profelyte from heathenism to the Jewish faith, baptism had been a death to his natural incapacities, and a new birth to the civil privileges of a Jew: to him, who should be admitted to a profession of the Christian faith, and who should be “ born not 4 of blood, nor of the will of the Flesh, nor of “ the will of man, but of God b," it was to be a death unto fin, and a new birth unto those spiritual privileges, which should accompany his deliverance “ from the bondage of corrup“ tion into the glorious liberty of the children “ of God." The Jewish profelyte had been baptized with water : the Christian was to be baptized, not with water only, but with the Holy Ghost.
Baptism,” says the fame pious and learned Prelate, to whom I just referred, asserting at the same time the doctrine, and explaining the ground of it ; “ Baptism is a “ new birth, by which we enter into the new
world, the new creation, the blessings and 4: fpiritualities of the kingdom. And this is
Jobn i. 13.
Rom. viii. 21.
“ the expreslion, which our Saviour himself 4 used to Nicodemus, Unless a man be born « of water and the Spirit. And it is by St. « Paul called λουτρον παλιγγενεσιας, the layer of “ regeneration. For now we begin to be 65 reckoned in a new census or account, God * is become our father, Christ our elder bro" ther, the Spirit the earnest of our inheritance, “ the Church our mother ; our food is the “ body and blood of our Lord ; faith is our “ learning ; religion our employment; and
our whole life is fpiritual, and heaven the object of our hopes, and the mighty price of
our high calling. And from this time for“ ward we have a new principle put into us, “ the Spirit of grace, which, besides our fou! “ and body, is a principle of action, of one na“ ture, and shall with them enter into the por66 tion of our inheritance. And because from 6 benceforward we are a new creation, the “ Church uses to assign new relations to the “ catechumens, spiritual fathers and suscep
I make no fcruple of considering the words of our Saviour in the text, as indicating the facrament of baptism ; because I believe it to be the doctrine of the Bible, and I am sure it is the doctrine of the Church of England,
Life of Christ, part i. sect. ix.