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of John, was a baptism of preparation and repentance, an outward or symbolical representation of that spiritual or internal purification, which those who came to it confessed they needed, to prepare and fit them for the new life they were to lead, in the kingdom of God about to be established. But of itself; it conveyed no grace or benefit to the receiver; it was a manifestation, on his part, of a disposition of mind adapted to the reception of the doctrines of the Gospel ; but it was not a. pledge, on the part of God, of any promises to man: by it the Holy Ghost was not given, nor ány new or extraordinary assistances afforded to the discharge of duty. This was reserved for the Baptism of the Messiah. He was to baptize with the Holy Ghost. His baptism was indeed, like that of John, to be a baptism of repentance; but it was to be more than that: it was to be a baptism of admission and initiation into a better covenant; into that kingdom, the approach of which John' preached, and for which his baptism did but prepare the way.



Now were this the first, or the only information we possessed upon the subject, it would perhaps be difficult to infer with certainty from the



either the fact, that the Baptism of the Messiah was to be a true water Baptism; or, that such water Baptism was to be accompanied with the gift of the Holy Ghost. It might then with some plausibility be urged, that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, here spoken of, referred, either to that ordinary influence of the Spirit, which under the gracious dispensation of the Messiah should be shed

the hearts of believers generally; or else, to that special and visible descent of the Holy Ghost, in which, by signs of fire accompanying it, God gave outward witness to the extraordinary effusion of his Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and on other occasions recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. And this interpretation would find support in the very form of words used by John the Baptist to enounce his doctrine; and which were, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, forcibly recalled to the memory of Peter, by the descent of the Holy Ghost, on Cornelius and his household; I baptize with water, but he with the Holy Ghost and with fire.


Such, we will allow, might have been our conclusion, antecedently to our knowledge of the actual institution of Baptism, and of the records of the sense in which it was understood and practised by the Apostles of our Lord. But such an interpretation of the words of the Baptist is inconsistent with the facts of the case. The Baptism actually established by the Messiah we know to be a material Baptism of water ; and we may therefore with confidence receive and make use of this declaration of John, as announcing by anticipation those effects of that Baptism, by which it was to be preeminently distinguished from his own: namely, by the efflux of the Spirit on those who received it. And the expression with fire, though not insignificant, when referred to the Pentecostal descent of the Spirit, may perhaps with greater probability be taken, as intended to exhibit more strongly the contrast between a Baptism which represented the good disposition

only of him who came to it, and one, which conveyed to him who partook of it inward and spiritual blessings: the one, being no more than a superficial, though symbolical, cleansing of the body; the other, through the agency of the Holy Spirit going with it, exerting a penetrating and searching influence on the heart.

It seems unnecessary to note the parallel texts in St. Mark and St. Luke; but a passage in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel should not be omitted ; because unconnected with the instituted rite, it would seem perhaps, like the preceding, to anticipate, on the part of John the Baptist, a Baptism of the Holy Ghost consequent upon the advent of the Messiah, to the exclusion of water Baptism. The Baptist says, He who sent me to baptize with water, the same, said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghostb. But to this passage the same observations apply, which were made upon the one just considered. The two Baptisms of our Lord and of his forerunner are indeed strongly contrasted, and without the knowledge of the instituted rite, the interpretation we now oppose would be at least as probable, as that for which we contend. But with the reality of the thing clearly set forth, anticipative allusions must be made to correspond ; and therefore this, like the former passage, must in consistency be interpreted of that gift of the Holy Ghost, which has been already shewn to accompany the water Baptism established by Jesus Christ.

b John i. 33.

The other parts of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, contain, with the exception of the history of institution, no direct and undoubted reference to the benefits annexed to Baptism ; though I am unwilling to pass over altogether a very probable conjecture of the learned Mede, with respect to our Lord's own Baptism by John, and which, if admitted, will corroborate in no small degree two important points of doctrine already asserted; namely, that in Baptism we receive the gift of

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