« ElőzőTovább »
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ORDINANCE OF
CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. As a body we are distinguished and Suppose we transport ourselves separated from the christian world back to a period when the practice of by our regard to the ordinance of the church was uniform ; when there baptism. We administer it only to was no controversy on this sacred professed believers. We administer subject, but when all were led by the it by immersion. We differ in this directions of our Lord, and by the from many other bodies of professors, authority of the apostolic teaching; and this is regarded as our badge when none were baptized but proand our reproach. We feel ourselves fessed believers, and the idea of contherefore compelled to assume a de- | verting immersion to sprinkling or fensive position, and in the discourses pouring had not been entertained by usually heard in our pulpits on bap- the most inventive and innovating tismal occasions, there is a constant professor ; what, at that period, reference to apostolic precedent and would be the chief characteristics of a practice, both as to the subjects who baptismal sermon? There was no should receive it, and the mode in controversy either as to the subject which it should be administered. or the mode. All were agreed ; and Reference is also frequently made to the apostles were at hand to give the testimony of early ecclesiastical their sanction to the proper course. history, as well as to the innumerable Would not the ministers of Christ then concessions of our opponents, as to expatiate on the authority by which the correetness of our practice. The the sacred rite was enjoined—the whole range of argument and of his solemn and interesting circumstances torical testimony are investigated in under which the Redeemer, when order to sustain and defend our posi- giving his commission to his disciples tion, and most conclusive and trium to preach the gospel to all nations, phant are the arguments and appeals appointed that believers should subthus adduced. But while this mode of mit to this rite as a token of their treating a sacred subject may be cor faith in him and their subjection to rect and suitable under the circum- his authority, and the significance stances in which we are placed, it and import of the rite itself-constimust be obvious to the reflective tute the chief topics of their dischristian, that such discourses and courses ? We apprehend that this is arguments are very different from unquestionable. Let us then medithose which were delivered by the tate on this sacred ordinance, and lay apostles and early christians on such aside all controversy, and assuming occasions.
the apostolicity of our practice, atVol. 13.-N. S.
tempt to realize its true significance. | blood of Christ, and is a commemoraThus we may perhaps enter more tion of his death. We have here fully into the idea of its importance various significant emblems. The and utility.
bread broken represents his broken We could never learn, however, body, and the wine poured out, the why Baptists of all men should be shedding of his blood for us and for placed on the defensive. The testi- the remission of our sins: and as mony of scripture and of antiquity is bread and wine sustain life and give so clear and convincing, and the vigour and animation to the physical practice of the infant sprinklers is so frame, so Christ, when received by manifestly opposed to scripture pre- faith and regarded as our atoning cedent, and their own principles are sacrifice, gives life and strength to the 80 conflicting and discordant, that, in inner, the spiritual man. My flesh,' our opinion it is they and not our-says our Lord, in this spiritual sense, selves who should stand on the de- 'is meat indeed, and my blood is fensive; and until they bring forward drink indeed.' 'Except ye eat the much stronger proofs and authority flesh of the Son of man and drink his than they have yet done, and come blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso more to an agreement among them- eateth my flesh, and drinketh my selves than they are likely to do at blood, hath eternal life ; and I will present, we may safely assume that raise him up at the last day.' In ours is unquestionably the apostolic that sacred ordinance, then, there is practice; we may therefore lay aside an interesting significance. So in all debate, refer all enquirers to the the rite of christian baptism, there is New Testament alone, and leave our to be expected a significance and antagonists to explain and argue, dis meaning. It exhibits some truth or cuss and reconcile as best they may. truths in a shadow, or by a symbol or · On this principle we shall be more figure. What is its obvious and dilikely to profit by a calm meditation vine significance? What is its proon this divine institution. It has a minent idea and purport? The resacred significance. What is it? and ply is, it points out and indicates what are some of the references to it three things, a death, a burial, and a contained in the writings of the in- resurrection Mark well the whole spired apostles? The significance of circumstances. The body of the a rite or ceremony consists in some person baptized, as one dead, is put resemblance which it has in figure or beneath the water as in a grave; and form to some of the great facts or is raised up again as one who is rising principles to which it has reference, from the grave. It so clearly indior with which it is connected. Thus cates this that when once this idea the entrance of the high priest into has been presented to the mind of an the most holy place, with the blood intelligent and unprejudiced person, of sacrifice, was a type and sign of he feels so satisfied with its correctthe entrance of Christ, our great High ness as never to think of looking for Priest, into heaven with his own another. This he feels to be its blood ; and his return in his gorgeous necessary import. This is also the vestments to bless the waiting people, view of it which is given by inspired was symbolic of the reappearance of authority. Know ye not,' says the Christ when he shall come in his great apostle, 'that so many of us as glory without sin (or a sin offering) were baptized into Jesus Christ, were unto salvation. Thus also, in the baptized into his death? Therefore christian dispensation, the Lord's- we are buried with him by baptism supper is symbolic of the body and into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of clare unto you the gospel which I the Father, even so we also should preached unto you, which also ye walk in newness of life.' And as have received, and wherein ye siand; seed when it is deposited in the by which also ye are savea-how earth is buried, and ultimately rises that Christ died for our sins accordand produces its beautiful fruit, so ing to the scriptures ; and that he the apostle, keeping the idea, but was buried, and that he rose again changing the figure, goes on to say, the third day according to the scrip. • For as we have been planted to- tures. This is not the whole of the gether in the likeness of his death, gospel system, but it is its essence. (by being buried with him in bap- That he might die and rise again for tism) we shall be also in the likeness the redemption and salvation of men, of his resurrection,' i. e., as he ap- was the great end of Christ's appear. pears in glory triumphant over the ing and incarnation and mission, and grave, so shall we also bear fruit unto without this there is no gospel. This life eternal. The same view of the great work was typified by the sacimport of this sacred rite is given re- rifices, promised to the fathers, and peatedly. • Buried with him in bap- foretold by the prophets. Here is tism, wherein ye are risen through displayed the wisdom and love of the faith of the operation of God, God. Here the justice of God is who hath raised him from the dead.' honoured, and salvation for sinful The true significance of this ordi- men is secured. Infinite attributes nance, therefore, is that of death, and awful claims, apparently conflictburial, and resurrection from the ing and irreconcileable, harmonize grave.
at the cross of Christ. Here is This being premised, we are in- our confidence, justification, and joyvited to proceed in our meditations, ful hope. It is this which is set and we shall speedily observe that forth in figure in the ordinance of the significance of baptism is intend baptism. Our Lord himself even ed to set before us and before man- denominates his sufferings and death, kind the facts and doctrines which his baptism. I have,' he said, when are the distinction and the glory of his death drew near, 'a baptism to the christian religion, and in this be baptized with, and how am I respect it is worthy of our admiration straitened till it be accomplished ! and regard. The great fact of the How greatly he suffered! How was christian system, that which distin- he overwhelnied with woes and sorguishes it from the Jewish, and that rows! Observe him in Gethsemane, which has ever been a stone of stum- bathed in sweat and blood, sorrowbling to proud, self-sufficient, and ful even unto death. Follow him to self-righteous man, is the atoning the Sanhedrim, to Pilate, to Herod, death and the triumphant resurrec. to Calvary, and look on him till his tion of our blessed Lord. However heart is broken with anguish and he numerous and important the facts and dies, and say how impressive is the doctrines of the religion of the Lord allusion. Even those whose practice Jesus Christ are, it is manifest that of sprinkling would have inclined them the greatest, most prominent, and im- to seek another illustration, awed by portant, and distinctive, is the death the appropriateness of the correct and resurrection of Christ. So com- figure concede the question. One manding and pre-eminent is this, says, "He was bathed in blood and that the inspired apostle even de- plunged in death.'* And another, nominates it the essence of the gospel itself. Moreover, brethren, I de
Immersion in water is to be consid. , stitution. A happy change has passed ered as exhibiting that dreadful abyss over his condition before God, which of Divine justice, in which Christ, for is thus brought before his eyes, and our sins, was for a time absorbed; as made palpable to the sense. in David his type, he complains, “It Is not there also here a reference am come into deep waters, where the to the great power which the grace of floods overflow me." '* After being God exerts over the character and placed in the tomb he rises from the life of the penitent believer? He is dead, and ascends up into heaven, 'created anew unto good works.' He 'having obtained eternal redemption is a new creature.' He has passed for us.' How interesting, and im- through an important mental, inoral, portant then is the rite of christian and spiritual change. Is not baptism baptism! How appropriate that this an appropriate outward and visible initiatory institution should betoken sign of an inward and spiritual grace?' the great and all-important fact of the It is the sign only, it is not the thing christian system! How manifest is itself. It represents, it does not prothe wisdom and intention of its Di. duce. An unsanctified person revine author!
mains such even after he may have Death and the resurrection being been washed in the waters of baptism. the prominent significance of this or. But to one who has been ‘renewed dinance, we advance further, and re- in the spirit of his mind,' it gives an mark that there is here a representa impressive view of the change he has tion of the great blessing which the experienced. It represents his death gospel imparts to its recipients. What unto sin. Convinced of the evil of is this blessing but life from the dead. sin, and the vanity and folly of all Sinners, and under the condemnation mere earthly pomp and show, he has of the law of God, all men are by na- renounced them. He has died to ture in the state of those who are them. He regards them as belunglegally dead. They are helpless and ing to a world which he has left undone. Through the gracious pro- for ever, and his baptism as a burial visions of the gospel, believers in the symbolizes the fact. It represents Lord Jesus Christ are delivered from his resurrection to a new state. As condemnation, justified, and thus pass one who has entered into a new world, from death to life. They are raised and who possesses new powers, and by faith through grace into the new converses with new objects, such are state, in which they enjoy pardon, those as have been enlightened and favour, and life. This is the great sanctified from above. Old things blessing freely given to every penitent are passed away, all things are become believer. So the apostle describes it: new. They have a new and divine • And you being dead in your sins, life. They have new desires and and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hopes. They have new sources of hath he quickened together with him, joy. God, Christ, the promises, and having forgiven you all trespasses.' heaven, are now the objects on which This description, given in immediate their delight rests. They walk in a connection with an allusion to chris- new course, putting off the works of tian baptism, suggests that this resur- darkness, they put on the armour of rection to life by the gospel is also a light. They walk in love, obedience part of the significance of baptism, to God, and in the light of his counwhich is happily symbolized when the tenance. Such is the change of which believer assumes the christian profes. baptism is the seal and symbol. How sion by submission to this sacred in- shall we who are dead to sin live any
longer therein? How significant and * Witsius.
appropriate that they who are dead to. sin, and have risen to newness of life, faith in the sight of heaven and of shouid be buried in baptism with their men. Standing by the side of the despised and adorable Redeemer. laver of regeneration,' he in effect
The religion of the Lord Jesus says :- I believe in God the Father Christ abolishes death, and brings Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his life and immortality to light.' It Son, who “was delivered for our ofgives to all true believers the hope of fences, and raised again for our justi. a glorious resurrection to immortality fication.” I believe in the Holy and life beyond the grave. Then that Ghost, the Comforter and Sanctifier "which is sown in corruption will be of believers, and in token thereof I raised in incorruption; that which is receive baptism in the name of the sown in dishonour will be raised in sacred Three. I rejoice in a dying glory; that which is sown in weak and an ascended Redeemer, through ness will be raised in power ; that whom I have obtained pardon and which is sown a natural body will be life, and have been made a partaker raised a spiritual body. The resur- / of the Holy Ghost, and have received rection and glorification of our Lord the promise and hope of eternal life. is the pledge and pattern of that of Thus I profess myself to be a chris. bis people. As we have borne the tian and a servant of God: thus I image of the earthly, we shall also proclaim my death to the world, and bear the image of the heavenly.' my renunciation of its follies and its Hence the christian rejoices in the sios: and thus I call heaven and hope of the glory of God. This hope earth to witness my vows, my prois his comfort and support amid the fessions, and my hopes : for this I am trials, the temptations, and the sorrows buried with Christ by baptism unto of the present life. It refreshes his death, that like as he rose again from spirit; it purifies his heart; it stimu- the dead to the glory of the Father, lates him to obedience. This hope so I may walk in newness of life.' involves the completion and the per- How solemn this rite when so ad. fection of all God's purposes of mercy ministered! How suitable! How in his people. This is the promise significant and impressive! But let that he has promised us, Eternal life.' us change the scene, and imagine And this great and glorious hope is sprinkling substituted for immersion, shadowed forth in the ordinance of and an unconscious babe for a living, christian baptism. There the believer responsible, and intelligent believer, sees the symbol of his own death and and how insignificant, puerile, and even burial; and there he recognizes the ridiculous it appears. Christ's ordisigo of his resurrection from the dead. nances, as well as Christ's religion, do How interesting then, and significant not admit of improvement from men. is our baptism! It sets before us the Their true significance and beauty and great fact, the great blessing, the gra- impressiveness, can only be retained cious power, and the glorious hope and secured, as his professed people which are peculiar to the religion of adhere to the pattern he has left us in the Son of God. It does this im. his own word, and in the examples of pressively, it does this solemnly, it his inspired apostles. does this by the appointment and de- We are sometiines called anabapsign of our Lord himself. When, tists, or re-baptizers. This is a term therefore, an intelligent believer sub- of reproach. It is a misnomer. mits to this sacred ordinance, he in Christian baptism is the immersion of effect professes all these things be- a believer on profession of his faith, fore men. His submission is to him by which act he voluntarily puts on the answer of a good conscience | Christ, or assumes the christian protoward God,' by thus professing his fession. Any other ceremony tban