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NATURE AND DESIGN
S E R M O N S.
BY JOHN CRANE, D. D.
PASTOR OF THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN NORTHBRIDGI.
ACTS, XVIII. 25.
KNOWING ONLY THE BAPTISM OF JOHN.
THIS was said of the eloquent Apollos, who was one of the greatest teachers in the fchool of John the Baptist. This mode of expreffion imports his imperfect acquaintance with the doctrines and institutions of the gospel. It places him back, in a time when less perfect notions of christianity prevailed. He needed more instruction, in order to be conipletely furnished for preaching the gospel. When, therefore, Aquila and Priscilla perceived his ignorance, “they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Apollos then knew only the docirine and baptism of John. Hence we conclude, that John's baptism belonged to a dispenfation less perfect than the christian difpenfation.
The principal inquiry is, what was the defign of John's baptism? Are we to consider it a christian ordinance, or a Jewish rite ? Shall we place it under the gospel, or the legal dispensation ? In order to take a proper view of the subject, it must be obferved, that the disciples of Christ, under his di.
rection, administered baptism. I now propose to consider John's baptism, and the baptism used by the disciples of our Lord.
It will first be made to appear, that John's baptism, and that of the disciples under our Lord's direction, were designed to answer the same purpose. In doing this, let us pay particular attention to the character and preaching of John, and also to the preaching of the disciples, who were sent out to preach during our Lord's ministry. The character given of John, in the prophets, is that of a forerunner of Christ. It was foretold, that John should be sent to prepare the way of Christ. Isaiah, xl. 3, “ The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a high way for our God.”
our God.” When John came,
the first words which he uttered, were, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The principal design of John's preaching was to give notice
of the immediate approach of the Meffiah; to inform the Jewish nation, that Christ was at hand, and to prepare the people to receive him. Such was the great Redeemer, and such was his divine mission, that a forerunner was necessary to proclaim his immediate approach. This information was suitable to prepare the people to receive him. Luke, i. 76, 77, “ And thou, child, (John) shalt be called the prophet of the highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins."
John's preaching was chiefly designed to prepare the Jewish nation for the reception of Christ. The twelve and the seventy disciples were sent forth upon a similar errand. The directions which our Lord gave the twelve disciples are found in Matthew, x. 5, 6, 7, “ These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, go not into the
way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not : but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
The commission, which our Lord gave to the seventy disciples is found in Luke, x. 1-11, “ After these things the Lord appointed other feventy, also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself would come. And among other things, which he gave in charge to them, he directed them to say, “ The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
The particular directions which our Lord gave to the seventy disciples clearly discover the principal design of their mission. They were fent, two and two, before the face of Christ, into every city and place which he intended to visit. They were required to go before the Saviour, and give notice of his coming, that all the people might be in readiness to receive him. This was the object contemplated in John's preaching. The fame may be said of the preaching of the twelve disciples. Christ faid to them, Matthew, x. 23, “ But when they persecute you in this city, flee
in this city, flee ye into another ; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till' the Son of man be come." The language of Christ to his disciples, on this occafion, was this ; when you preach in one city, and they begin to perfecute you, do not stay to contend with them, but flee to another place; for your time is short to make me fufficiently known to the cities of Israel.