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sign hereof might be to teach them humility, and brotherly kindness; yet it also signifies their being washed or cleased by his blood and Spirit.
Obj. 4. There is another objection on which very much. stress is generally laid, which I should not do justice to the cause I om maintaining, if I should wholly pass it over, taken from what the apostle says, in Rom. vi. 3, 4, 5. so many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death: Therefore we were buried with him by baptism (a) into death ;
(a) In Col. ii. 12. and context, is a succession of figures, designed, in different ways, to illustrate and enforce the same fact. Verse 11. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision, made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." That is, in putting off the old man, you are circumcised without hands; the work is effected by the Holy Spirit.-You are born again, which is spiritual circumcision. Circumcision is that of the heart." This renewing of the Holy Spirit consists in putting off the body of sin, in renouncing sin, and reforming the life. Or, we are buried with him in baptism." As the burial of Jesus Christ gave evidence, that he had really died, the just for the unjust; that he had yielded himself a sacrifice for sin; so we in our spiritual circumcision or baptism, the figure now used, show ourselves to be really dead to sin, crucified in the lusts of our minds. As Christ, when buried, was dead and separated from the world; so in regeneration we become separate from sin. We are new creaturês, having put off the old man. We are buried from the wicked indulgences and pursuits of the world.
The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, are, not only causes, but types and symbols to represent the death of our sins, our putting off the old man, and becoming new creatures.
No reference is made in the text to the water of baptism, any more than to the knife of circumcision in the preceding verse. The writer is speaking of that baptism, and of that alone, in which we "are risen with Christ, through the faith, which is the operation of God." This certainly can be nothing less than spiritual baptism, or regeneration; for the most violent advocate for dipping, or plunging, or burying, will not pretend, that this, necessarily, is connected with "faith;" he will allow it may be possible for a man to be plunged and buried in water, and yet not have " the faith, which is the operation of God." If he allow this, and allow this he must and will, then our text is no support of his cause. It cannot be water baptism which is mentioned.
Were not this the fact, nothing could be inferred respecting the mode of baptism. It would then only signify that, as Christ was buried and separated from the world; so we in baptism are buried and separated from a world of sin. The zeal for the literal construction of this figure may, perhaps, be extinguished by indulging it in other instances. St. Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ." Would any person suppose from this, that he had been led to Calvary, nailed to the cross, and pierced by the soldier's spear? Christians are said to be" circumcised in Christ." Does any one infer from this that all christians experience the bloody rite of the Jews? Or, because Christians" are partakers of Christ's sufferings," are all christians, therefore, betrayed by Judas, spit upon, buffeted, and crowned with thorns? Or, because St. Paul says the Phi lippians were his "crown," were they, therefore, formed into a crown of honer, and worn as a badge of future glory? Or, because the sacrament represents the sufferings and death of Christ, are all worthy communicants crucified? Were our baptist brethren consistent with themselves, such would be their explanation of these passages of scripture.
It immediately follows our text; "wherein also you were risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who bath raised him from the dead.” Ff
that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For
Wherein, or in which baptism "we are risen," actually "risen with Christ by the faith" which God gives to the new creature. You, who have this spiritual baptism, rise like Christ above the selfish motives, and sensual pursuits of a fallen world. You seek the kingdom of God; you aspire after divine good.
Persons, born again, like Jesus Christ, separate their hearts from the world, and rise to a divine life. That this is the only true construction of the text, may be inferred from a corresponding passage. Rom. vi. 4. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." By spiritual baptism we partake the privileges of Christ's death. By dying to sin ourselves, as we do in the new birth, we resemble Jesus Christ in his death, who died "to make an end of sin." As Christ was raised from the grave; so we, not in water baptism, but in regeneration or spirituai baptism, are" raised" to walk in newness of life. Old things are done away; all things are become new. If we have experienced this spiritual baptism, we shall have the Spirit of Christ, We shall be separate from the world of sin, as Christ was in the grave, and we shall like him rise to a holy, a new life. We obey a new master, seek a new way of salvation, act from new motives, to accomplish new designs; we choose new companions, experience new sorrows, and new joys. As if buried, we are separate from our former lives.
St. John says, "He [Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." The Selucians and Hermians understood this literally, and maintained that material fire was necessary in the administration of baptism. Valentinus, like our baptists, rebaptized those, who had received baptism out of the sect, and drew them through the fire. Herculian, cited by Clemens Alexandrinus, says that some applied a red hot iron to the ears of the baptized. St. Paul says, we are buried with Christ in baptism. This also has been understood literally; but such persons forget that to be consistent, on their plan, they should continue "buried" three days and three nights, the time Christ lay in the earth. Should any object that this would drown them, the baptist, in his way of treating figures, would have an easy answer, and readily prove that drowning was the very design of baptism. Rom. vi. 4. "We are buried with him by baptism into his death." We are not merely buried, for this is only a part, any more than sprinkling; but we are buried to death, "buried into his death." Thus he has scripture for drowning all whom he baptizes, and precisely as much scripture for drowning, as for burying. The very same passage, might he say, which commands burying, commands drowning, commands" death."
In the present mode of plunging, the resemblance is almost entirely lost, What is the difference between laying a dead body in a rock, covering it with a great stone; sealing it in a solemn manner; all things continuing in this state, three days and three nights, what is the resemblance between this, and suddenly plunging a living body into water, and instantly lifting it out of the water? What possible likeness is there between a living person in the water, and a dead body in a rock? The similitude is little better than that of the blind man, who supposed the light of the sun was like the noise of a cannon. We have accordingly endeavoured to show in the introduction, that the elegant scholar, the christian orator of Tarsus, had no thought of any such resemblance; his object was to show, that in regeneration or spiritual baptism, which is followed "with newness of life," or, a new life," through faith which is the operation of God," we are dead and buried to sin, and raised or made alive to God, as Christ was. The evident design of the text is to illustrate the preceding verse, which speaks of spiritual circumcision made without hands. This baptism is that by which we are raised with Christ; but in water baptism we are not always raised with Christ. If men are plunged they may generally be raised from the water; but this has no necessary connexion with rising with Christ." This baptism
af we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. From whence it is argued, that there ought to be a similitude between the sign and the thing signified; and, consequently, that baptism should be performed in such a way, that, by being covered with water, there might be a resemblance of Christ's burial; and by being lifted up out of the water, a resemblance of his resurrection: Therefore this ordinance doth not only signify the using the means of cleansing with water, but the mode, namely, being plunged, or, as it were, buried in water.
Answ. To this it may be replied, that it is not agreeable to the nature of a sacramental sign, in any other instance; that there should be an analogy between the thing done, and what is signified thereby, any otherwise than by divine appointment. Accordingly we observed, in the foregoing answer, that a sacrament has not a natural tendency to signify Christ, and his benefits; as the eating bread and drinking wine doth not signify the body and blood of Christ, any otherwise than as this signification is annexed by our Saviour, to the action performed; the same, I think, may be applied to baptism; especially our consecration, and dedication to God therein; and if any other external sign had been instituted, to signify the blessings of the covenant of grace, we should have been as much obliged to make use of it as we were of water. Therefore, I conceive, the apostle, in this scripture, mentioned in the objection, doth not refer to our being buried in water, or taken out of it, as a natural sign of Christ's burial and resurrection; but our having communion with him in his burial and resurrection. This, I think, would hardly be denied by many, on the other side of the question, did not the objection, but now mentioned, and the cause they maintain, render it expedient for them to understand the words in another sense. This is all that I shall say with respect to this matter in controversy, as to the subjects and mode of baptism; in which, as I should have been unfaithful, had I said less to it; so I have not the least inclination to treat those that differ from me in an unfriendly way, as having a just sense of their harmony with us, especially a great part of them, in those doctrines that have a more immediate reference to our salvation.
We shall now proceed to consider, that as there are some
is also effected" through faith which is the operation of God;" but a man may be raised out of an ocean of water, every day of his life, and remain destitute of faith; therefore, the text has no reference to water baptism.
REY. E. PARISH'S SERMON,
who appear to be grossly ignorant of the thing signified in baptism, who seem to engage in it, as though it were not a divine institution, concluding it to be little more than an external rite or form to be used in giving the child a name, being induced hereto rather by custom, than a sense of the obligation they are under, to give up their children to God by faith therein; so there are others who attribute too much to it, when they assert, that infants are hereby regenerated; and that if they die before they commit actual sin, they are undoubtedly saved, inasmuch as they are hereby made members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven: This seems to be an ascribing that to the ordinance, which is rather expected or desired, than conferred thereby.
As for the child's being signed with the sign of the cross, signifying hereby that he should not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, but manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil; how much soever this may be a branch of that baptismal obligation, which he is professedly under; yet I cannot see what warrant persons have to make use of this external sign and symbol, which can be reckoned no other than an ordinance for their faith, though destitute of a divine institution.
There is also another thing practised by some in baptism, that is greatly abused, namely, the requiring that some should be appointed as sureties for the child, by whom it is personated; and they engage, in a solemn manner, in its behalf, that it shall fulfil the obligation that it is laid under, which is not only more than what is in their power to perform; but it is to be feared, that the greatest part of these sureties hardly think themselves obliged to shew any concern about them afterward. And that which is farther exceptionable in this matter, is that the parents, who are more immediately obliged to give up their children to God, seem to be, as it were, excluded from having any hand in this matter.
I have nothing to except against the first rise of this practice; which was in the second century, when the church was under persecution; and the design thereof was laudable and good, namely, that if the parents should die before the child came of age; whereby it would be in danger of being seized on by the Heathen, and trained up in their superstitious and idolatrous mode of worship, the sureties promised, that, in this case, they would deal with it as though it were their own child, and bring it up in the Christian religion; which kind and pious concern for its welfare, might have been better expressed at some other time than in baptism, lest this should be thought an appendix to that ordinance: However, through the goodness of God, the children of believing parents are not
reduced to those hazardous circumstances; and therefore the obligation to do this, is less needful; but to vow, and not perform, is not only useless to the child, but renders that only a matter of form, which they promise to do in this sacred ordinance.
The only thing that I shall add under this answer, is, that if we have been baptized, either in our infancy, or when adult, we are obliged, in faithfulness, as we value our own souls, to improve it to the glory of God, and our spiritual welfare in the whole conduct of our lives. And this leads us to what is contained in the following answer.
QUEST. CLXVII. How is baptism to be improved by us? ANSW. The needful, but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long; especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others, by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein, by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to the grace of baptism and our engagements, by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament, by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace, and by endeavouring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ, and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit, into one body.
In this answer we may observe,
I. That our baptism, together with the engagements which we are therein laid under to be the Lord's, is to be improved by us; though this duty be too much neglected. That it ought to be improved is evident, inasmuch as it is an ordinance, or means of grace, for our attaining spiritual blessings; therefore we are not only guilty of a sinful neglect, but we lose the advantage that might be expected thereby, if we do not improve it so as to answer the valuable end thereof; and when we consider it as a professed dedication to God, as has been before observed, or a bond and obligation laid on us, to be entirely, and for ever, his, it cannot but be reckoned the highest affront offered to the divine Majesty, and a being unstedfast in his co