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was necessary to persons before they could hold sacred offices, or pay their religious homage in the temple, or become the true worshippers of God. The Jews, therefore, in after times, when they made proselytes from the Heathen nations, enjoined these the same customs as they observed themselves. They generally circumcised, at least the proselytes of the covenant, as a mark of their incorporation into the Jewish church, and they afterwards washed them with water or baptized them, which was to be a sign to them of their having been cleansed from the filth of idolatry, and an emblem of their fitness, in case of a real cleansing, to receive the purer precepts of the Jewish religion, and to walk in newness of life.

Baptism therefore was a Jewish ordinance, used on religious occasions: and therefore John, when he endeavoured by means of his preaching to prepare the Jews for the coming of the Messiah, and their minds for the reception of the new religion, used it as a symbol of the purification of heart, that was necessary for the dispensation which was then at hand. He knew that his hearers would understand the meaning of the ceremony. He had reason also to believe, that on account of the nature of his mission, they would expect it. Hence the Sanhedrim, to whom the cognizance of the legal cleansings belonged, when they were informed of

the baptism of John, never expressed any surprise at it, as a new, or unusual, or improper custom. They only found fault with him for the administration of it, when he denied himself to be either Elias or Christ.

It was partly upon one of the principles that have been mentioned, that Jesus received the baptism of John. He received it as it is recorded, because "thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness." By the fulfilling of righteousness is meant the fulfilling of the ordinances of the law, or the customs required by the Mosaic dispensation in particular cases. He had already undergone circumcision as a Jewish ordinance, and he now submitted to baptism. For as Aaron and his Sons were baptized previously to the taking upon them of the office of the Jewish priesthood, so Jesus was baptized by John previously to his entering upon his own ministry, or becoming the high priest of the Christian dispensation.

But though Jesus Christ received the baptism of John, that he might fulfil all righteousness, others received it as the baptism of repentance from sins, that they might be able to enter the kingdom that was at hand. This baptism, however, was not initiative into the Christian church. the Apostles rebaptized some who had been baptized by John. Those, again, who received the


baptism of John, did not profess faith in Christ. John again, as well as his doctrines, belonged to the Old Testament. He was no minister under the new dispensation, but the last prophet under the law. Hence Jesus said, that though none of the prophets "were greater than John the baptist, yet he that is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." Neither did he ever hear the Gospel preached; for Jesus did not begin his ministry till John had been put into prison, where he was beheaded by the orders of Herod. John, in short, was with respect to Jesus, what Moses was with respect to Joshua. Moses, though he conducted to the promised land, and was permitted to see it from Mount Nebo, yet never entered it, but gave place to Joshua, whose name, like that of Jesus, signifies a Saviour. In the same manner John conducted to Jesus Christ. He saw him once with his own eyes, but he was never permitted, while alive, to enter into his spiritual kingdom.


Second baptism, or that of Christ—This the baptism of the gospel-This distinct from the former in point of time; and in nature and essence-As that of John was outward, so this was to be inward and spiritual-It was to cleanse the heart-and was to be capable of making even the Gentiles the seed of Abraham-This distinction of watery and spiritual baptism pointed out by Jesus Christ-by St. Peter-and by St. Paul.

THE second baptism, recorded in the scriptures, is that of Christ. This may be called the baptism of the Gospel, in contradistinction to the former, which was that of the law.

This baptism is totally distinct from the former. John himself said, "" I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."

From these words it appears, that this baptism is distinct, in point of time, from the former; for it

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was to follow the baptism of John: and secondly, in nature and essence; for whereas that of John was by water, this was to be by the spirit.

This latter distinction is insisted upon by John in other places. For when he was questioned by the Pharisees ▾ " why he baptized, if he was not that Christ, nor Elias, nor that prophet," he thought it a sufficient excuse to say, "I baptize with water;" that is, I baptize with water only; I use only an ancient Jewish custom; I do not intrude upon the office of Christ, who is coming after me, or pretend to his baptism of the spirit. We find also, that no less than three times in eight verses, when he speaks of his own baptism, he takes care to add to it the word "water," to distinguish it from the baptism of Christ.


As the baptism of John cleansed the body from the filth of the flesh, so that of Christ was really to cleanse the soul from the filth of sin. Thus John, speaking of Jesus Christ, in allusion to this baptism, says, * "whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." By this he insinuated, that in the same manner as the farmer, with the fan in his hand, winnows the corn, and separates the light

v John 1. 25.

w John 1. from 25 to 34.

x Mat. 3. 12.

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