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of salvation by grace is most significantly expressed, by the two special and perpetual ordinances of Christ.And the first, in order, which now claims our attention, is the ordinance of Baptisin.
Ever since the days of Moses, if not before, baptisms, or what are called divers washings, have been administered in the church of God. These divers washings, under the law of Moses, have been no human inventions; but have been practised according to divine institution; all of which were expressive of the native pollution of the human heart, and of sanctification by the Holy Spirit
. All the ancient washings and sprinklings, whether of water or of blood, conveyed, typically, some important instruction, relative to the more clear dispensation of the gospel, after the coming and work of the glorious Redeemer. A sense of sin, and of the pollution of the heart, and of the need of spiritual cleansing, or purification, was impressed on the minds of God's ancient people, by their ceremonial washings, and sprinklings. So that, generally speaking, the same kind of instruction has been derived from the application of water, in the various ages of the world; and under the various dispensations of divine grace. Corresponding with all other washings, was the baptism of John. It was the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It was designed to teach the people, that they were altogether polluted with sin, and, in their natural state, stood in perishing need of the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of John did indeed imply the prosession of repentance; for John required of all who came to his baptism, a new heart, and a new life. * Bring forth, therefore, fruits, meet for repentance.” Ancient ordinances, in general, were typical, and expressive of the same things which are expressed by present ordinances. For, in profession and practice, the church of God has been essentially the same, in all ages ; religion and salvation have been the same: and, beyond a doubt, the ordinances have been of the same general import? The Passover, for instance, while it commemorated the deliverance of God's people from
Egyptian bondage, by his passing over the houses, upon the doors of which the blood of the paschal lamb was discovered ; and destroying all the first born of Egypt; was a striking representation of the deliverance of sinners from spiritual bondage, by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. 66 Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us.? And how perfectly similar in its inport, was the passover to the sacramental supper! Both of them, in the clearest manner, exhibit the atonement by the sufferings and blood of the divine Redeemer.
The bloody ordinance of circumcision, likewise, which signified " the cutting off of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ," or by his sufferings and death, is found to signify the same thing as the christian baptism. Both were instituted, as successive signs and seals of the christian faith ; and of an interest in the blessings of the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace we find plainly stated in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis. The Lord appeared unto Abraham and said, “ I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect;"! be thou upright, sincere, or faithful; “ And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly.” The multiplication of spiritual, as well as natural seed is here intended. Hence it is allded, “ For in thee, and in thy seed, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." ső And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee."
Having proposed to Abraham the covenant of grace, the next thing was, to appoint a token, or seal of this gracious covenant; that all who were interested in its blessings, might be visibly distinguished from the world. Accordingly, and for this very purpose, the ordinance of circumcision was instituted, in these words, “ This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised. It shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.” To ascertain the precise meaning of circumcision, and to discover, at the same time, its
connection, or rather, its identity, or sameness with the christian baptism, we may attend to what is said by Paul respecting Abraham's receiving this ordinance. 56 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised." This definition of circumcision, applies equally, and exactly to the christian baptism. No one can frame a better definition of baptism. It is a seal or token of justifying faith. It is a token that the subject is already a believer, and not merely, that he ought to be a believer. It is a seal of the faith that he had, yet being unbaptized. A previous faith, is a requisite qualification. Of course, when circumcision ceased to be the token of an interest in the covenant of grace, baptism was substituted ; and has ever since been continued as the seal of the covenant, and the token of initiation into the visible church of Christ. As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” And as circumcision was a more special and distinguishing ordinance of God, than any other bloody institution in the Old Testament; be. cause it was the seal and token of an interest in the cov. enant of grace'; so is baptism a more special and distinguishing ordinance of Christ than any other, because it is the seal and token of an interest in the covenant of grace, under the present and last dispensation of the gospel. Thus we discover not only the real import of the christian baptism; but also, that it comports exactly with the ordinance of circumcision. This appears more clearly, by attending to the commission, given to the Apostles; and their consequent practice. Their cominission was, Go, teach all nations ;" literally speaking, "i Go, disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In Mark's gospel, the words are these, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Go as far as possible. Penetrate the heathen world, as well as the civilized; and preach the gospel to old and young, to bond and free; “ to every
creature.” “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be
The first administration of the christian baptism, was
account in the history of the life, ministry, or practice of the Apostles. A credible profession of faith in Christ, is the condition of the christian baptism.
Another branch of this important subject is, that, not only believers in Christ, but their infant seed and households are proper subjects of the christian baptism. This
point is settled by inferential reasoning, if not by direct scripture testimony. It is very evident, that infants and households were included in the covenant which was made with Abraham. 66 I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee.” “Every man-child among you shall be circumcised." Abraham's own faith, being sufficiently proved, to render bim a proper subject of circumcision;
he was commanded to circumcise his whole family. All, whether born in his house, or bought with his money: all, of whom he had a legitimate controul, 66 must needs be circumcised.” This was a standing rule in the Abrahamic church, so called, down to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Infants and households were always circumcised on account of the faith of the parents, or heads of the families. On their own account, they could not, consistently with the terms of the covenant, be proper subjects of circumcision. It is hence evident, that the covenant of grace does admit of such a thing, as parents acting for their children, so far as respects their receiving the token of a visible standing in the church. The same principle was evidently transmitted from the Abrahamic to the present dispensation ; in which baptism, instead of circumcision, is the seal of the covenant of grace. The spirit and essence of the covenant made with Abraham, is clearly recognized in the gospel: and on this ground it is written, that “The blessing of Abraham is come on the gentiles through Jesus Christ." As great spiritual blessings as Abraham inherited by faith, he has transmitted to all who believe, down to all generations. Accordingly it is said, “ If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The covenant of grace is evidently the same to believers now, that it was to Abraham. Most abun. dantly do the Apostles establish the union and identity of the church, in all ages! Gentile christians are said to be • fellow heirs with the seed of Abraham, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise, in Christ, by the gospel.” If the church be the same, from first to last ; and if the import of circumcision and baptism be the sanie, zyhich has been demonstrated ; and if circumcision was