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the word sacrifice has that signification; and as Moses expressly ordered, "one law and one manner shall be for you and for the stranger (f)," they held it to be necessary to baptize proselytes: "By three things," says Maimonides, "did Israel enter into covenant; by circumcision, and baptism, and sacrifice: circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written, No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof; baptism was in the wilderness, just before the giving of the law, as it is written, Sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their cloaths; and sacrifice, as it is said, And he sent young men of the sons of Israel, which offered burnt-offerings; and so in all ages when a heathen is willing to be a proselyte to our religion, he must be circumcised, and be baptized, and bring a sacrifice (g)." When John commanded the Jews to repent, he commanded them also to be baptized, not only as a symbol of sanctification, but as a confession of their being sinners; and the Jews, accustomed to this practice upon the admission of the heathen into their society, expressed no surprise at the connexion of repentance and purification; they only enquired who he was that assumed to himself
(f) Numbers, c. 15. v. 16.
(g) Issura. Biah. Perek. 13. Vide also Lightfoot, Harm. in Joan. c. 1. v. 25.
himself such an authority (h). gave his sanction to the baptism requiring John to baptize him (i).
That Christ, during his ministry, directed those who declared their belief in his divine mission to be baptized, and that after his resurrection he commanded all nations to be baptized in the name of the blessed Trinity, has been already noticed (k). And we learn from the Acts, that the Apostles preached baptism as the appointed and necessary form of being admitted into the religion of Jesus, and that those who embraced the Christian faith were invariably baptized. St. Peter, after his sermon on the day of Pentecost, which was the very first attempt to propagate the Gospel after the ascension of our Saviour, said to his hearers, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ; and they that gladly received his word were baptized (1)." When the Samaritans "believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (m)." Again, after Cornelius and
(h) John, c. 1. v. 19, &c.
(i) Matt. c. 3. v. 13.
of John, by
(k) Art. 25.
and his friends had received the Holy Ghost, and so were already baptized in that sense, Peter asked, "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we (n);" And at Ephesus St. Paul baptized several persons in the name of Jesus, who had already been baptized by John the Baptist (0). When, therefore, John says, "that he baptized with water, but Christ shall baptize with the Holy Ghost (p)," he does not mean, that Christians should not be baptized with water, but that they should have the Holy Ghost poured out upon them in consequence, and as the distinguishing privilege, of Christ's baptism. When St. Paul says, that Christ sent him "not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel (q)," he means that preaching was the principal thing he was to do in person; he might appoint others to baptize under him, and it appears that he generally did. In like manner St. Peter did not baptize Cornelius and his friends himself, but commanded them to be baptized by others; and we read in St. John's Gospel, that "Jesus baptized not, but his disciples (r).”
(n) Acts, c. 10. v. 47. (p) Matt. c. 3. v. 11. (r) John, c. 4. v. 2.
(0) Acts, c. 19. v. 5. (q) 1 Cor. 1. v. 17.
Baptism, thus instituted by Christ, and practised by his Apostles, has been continued in every age of the Christian church. This fact is so universally acknowledged, that it is unnecessary to produce authorities in support of its truth; but it may be useful to quote from the early ecclesiastical writers a few passages, which may serve to explain the customs formerly used in the performance of this holy ordinance. "We will relate,” says Justin Martyr, in his Apology presented to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, about forty years after the death of St. John the Evangelist," in what manner we dedicate ourselves to our God, being renewed by Christ, lest by omitting this we should appear to act unfairly in this account. Whoever are persuaded and believe that those things are true, which are taught and said by us, and promise to live agreeably to them, are instructed to pray and ask of God with fasting, forgiveness of their former sins; and we also pray and fast together with them. Then are they led by us to a place where there is water, and they are regenerated in the same manner we ourselves were regenerated; for they are washedin the name of God the Father and Lord of all, of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. For Christ said, if ye be not regenerated, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
heaven (s)." And Tertullian, who lived about sixty years afterwards, says, "They that come to baptism must use the devotions of frequent prayer, fastings, kneelings, and watchings, and the confession of all their past sins, that they may at least do as much as was done in John's baptism (t)." From these passages it appears, that the persons to be baptized were required to undergo certain preparations, and to make certain promises; and that the whole of this important business might be conducted with the greater regularity and solemnity, it was customary to perform baptism, except in cases of necessity, only twice in the year, namely, at Easter and Whitsuntide. The candidates gave in their names several weeks before the day appointed; they were in the mean time instructed and examined by the ministers of the church; and it was indispensably necessary that they should be able to give some account of the grounds of their faith; and besides this previous instruction, they were called upon, at the time of their baptism, by answering certain questions, to declare their belief in the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, and to promise obedience to its precepts, in a manner similar to our form of baptizing adult persons; and in case of
($) Apol. 2.
(t) Tert. de Bap.