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which the rest of the scriptures, the classical writers, and the most enlightened travellers into the Holy Land, do not confirm ? Is there any colouring, any artifice; or any inadvertence, any mistake ? If you detect any thing of this kind, deduct it from my argument, and place it, if necessary, on the other side of the question. But when all is done, tell me, may I not turn to the advocates of immersion Baptism, and say, “ Is there a single point of resemblance, between the burial of Christ and your method of baptizing? Is there one shadow of proof, or even of possibility, that the history of the one should enjoin, or so much as countenance, the practice of the other ?” The inference so frequently drawn from the passage before us, is a fair specimen of many cases, in which a superficial glance seems perfectly decisive on one side, while a thorough investigation proves really decisive on the other.
Let us consider, 3dly, The union with Christ in his burial, which is signified by our Baptism. In our Baptism, we receive the figure of the washing of the body with pure water.
This sacred office, we have seen, was performed to the dead body of Christ, when his disciples anointed it, that it might not see corruption, but be preserved in honour till the resurrection. The performance of it was an evidence of his death; an emblem of separation from the pollutions of this world ; and a pledge of the abolishing of death, and the bringing to light of life and incorruption. The union of believers with Christ, then, which is signified by Baptism, is Regeneration. Baptism is
not, as some maintain, Regeneration itself, but it is a figure of it; and the figure teaches the necessity of the reality. Alluding probably to the ordinance, which, as a new confessor of the faith, Nicodemus was likely soon to receive from his disciples, Jesus said to him, John iii. 5. “ Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This ordinance represents the believer as dead with Christ to sin, which Jesus bore, though he knew no sin ; as dead also to the world, of which Jesus said, “ Now is my kingdom not from hence,” John xviii. 36; and as quickened by the Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, to a new, a spiritual, an heavenly, and an eternal life. “ For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died : and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation : old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become, new,” 2 Cor. v. 14-17. This view of the meaning of our Baptism is confirmed by Col. ii. 11-13. where Baptism is declared to be circumcision. “ 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; buried with him in
Baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."
'" The circumcision made without hands,” is an expression which shows that the Apostle did not mean that Baptism was itself the spiritual blessing represented by the old circumcision; for Baptism is performed by hands as well as the old circumcision was. He meant that the one ordinance succeeded the other, because both had the same meaning. Whether it were by manual circumcision of old, or manual Baptism now, the spiritual blessing signified is the product, not of human, but of divine agency, namely Regeneration. That this was the spiritual blessing signified by circumcision is evident by many passages; for example Deut. xxx. 6. “ And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Christians enjoy the same spiritual blessing, being buried with Christ in Baptism. The interest which this view of Baptism gives in it, to the children of believers, will be considered afterwards. Meanwhile we see the connection between the “ forgiveness of all trespasses” and regeneration. Sinners are called to repent, because the kingdom of heaven is come.
This is called, “ Preaching the Baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins.” Those who be
lieve it are, in the original propagation of the gospel, baptized, confessing their sins. And, although they were before living in sin, they are thenceforward “ washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor. vi. 11.
Let us consider, 4thly, The design of the Apostle, in reminding us of this sign of that union. It is to prove the holy tendency of the doctrine of justification by grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, obtained by faith, and not by works; and to exhort believers to prove and exemplify it, by perseverance in the faith and obedience of the gospel. “ Therefore we are buried with him by Baptism into death; 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.” We are to maintain a decided practical profession of what we have believed through grace; and to adhere to it in spite of opposition and danger. - Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. And having our bodies washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering ; for he is faithful that promised,” Heb. x. 22, 23. and compare Ezek. xxxvi. 25–27. That we may thus be sanctified, Christ died, and rose, and reigns, and will come again at the last day. " Christ loved the church, and gave
himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious
church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” Ephes. v. 25–27. Where this progress in holiness is wanting, Peter tells us, the professor of the faith is as defective in principle as in practice. 2 Pet. i. 9. “But he that lacketh these things is blind, shutting his eyes, and admitting forgetfulness of the purification of his old sins.” Nay, he declares the danger of such a state in still stronger terms, 2 Epis. ii. 20-22. “ For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again en, tangled therein, and overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the
of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned unto his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
While endeavouring to illustrate the preceding particulars, I have been obliged to oppose views of the passage to which they refer, held by many respected brethren. It gives me pleasure to remark, that if there be a difference of judgment respecting the three first particulars, there is none respecting the last. That a man must be born again; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord ; and that he that endureth to the end shall be saved; are not matters of controversy, but things which are most surely be