Imatges de pÓgina

is, of an internal purification, which the person was supposed to undergo, and which the external washing only signified; agreeing in this with the character we have assigned to Christian Baptism.

But more especially was the external act of washing conventionally applied, to represent and signify the purification required in the convert to any new religious system, or mode of worship; and under this idea Baptism became an almost universal rite of initiation into all religions. And it clearly became so, in every case, on a twofold assumption; first, that till some purification had taken place, the parties were unfit for the society, to which they craved admission; and secondly, that such purification was conveyed to them by the Baptism administered at their reception. And this idea of spiritual purgation it retained, in the remarkable instance of its administration to Gentile proselytes to Judaism. Here it was, evidently, not properly the rite of initiation, for this was circumcision; but preparatory to this an external washing was required of the converts, indicative of the

putting off the impurities contracted in their state of heathenism; and which, unremoved, were, in the eyes of natural born Jews, an insurmountable obstacle to their reception of the rite of circumcision, and their actual admission into the Jewish church. Now this purification, limited, as it was, and referring, as it did, to a merely imaginary defilement, was plainly, though conveyed by the outward act of Baptism, itself, in the idea at least of those who administered it, internal and spiritual; agreeing in this with our view of Christian Baptism. And it may be observed, that the use thus made of Baptism, in the case of Gentile converts under the Jewish law, not only falls in with that which we have assigned to Christian Baptism; but that the absence of any similar rite, in the case of the initiation of the infant Jew himself into the religion of his Fathers, while it is continued to every individual admitted into the Christian church, is upon like principles to be accounted for. The washing of Jewish proselytes had reference to the imaginary defilement of their heathen state

alone; and therefore had no place among the children of those who were born under the covenant. The removal of whatever in the native Jew required abscission was aptly typified by the initiation of circumcision. But the stain removed by Christian Baptism being real, permanent, and hereditary, even in those who descend from Christian parents, the reiteration of that Baptism takes place of necessity, even among those, who, from their parentage, on Jewish ideas, might seem free from defilement. The child of the Christian, no less than his parent, requires, even in infancy, to be purified from the stain of original sin, and if Baptism be deferred, from the guilt of actual transgression.

The correspondence of the conventional significancy of the rite, with that for which we have already contended, thus adds force to the conclusions previously deduced from the very nature of the material action, and the words and circumstances of institution.

These conclusions, so far as the inquiry has hitherto been carried, have been as follows: from the consideration of the action

itself we have inferred, that the primary intent and object of Baptism is purification; which purification, from the very words of institution, appears to be spiritual; and from the nature of the religion to which it is introductory, a purification from the defilement of sin. From the words of St. Mark, apparently accompanying the appointment, or certainly immediately referring to it, it farther appears, that the concomitant, or consequence of Baptism, is salvation, Christian salvation; that is, salvation from sin, and by implication the remission of its penalties.

In the direct results thus arrived at from the sources of information hitherto referred to, we might be content to rest satisfied, as of themselves furnishing abundant reason for the assignation of specific and important benefits to a participation in the sacrament. No higher or more intelligible benefits are indeed to be looked for than a purification from the stain, and a liberation from the penalties of sin. But it would neither be doing justice to the method of investigation pursued, nor to the claims of Baptism itself,

as deduced from the views of its nature and efficacy already opened, were we to omit, even in this first stage of our inquiry, to notice two other inferences hardly less important, or less certain, than those on which we have already insisted. Though not so immediately flowing from the consideration of the sacrament in the point of view in which we have hitherto regarded it; they are in fact inseparably connected with the results already obtained, and indispensable to a full apprehension of the benefits arising out of the administration of the rite. I allude to the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the restoration of our title to eternal life; of which, the one would seem to be the necessary concomitant of the spiritual purification typified in Baptism; the other, the immediate consequence of the pardon conveyed in it.

The first of them, indeed, the gift of the Holy Ghost, would appear to follow irresistibly from the fact once admitted, that a spiritual purification is conveyed in the washing of Baptism. For the working of this effect, being, upon the fundamental princi


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