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representations of our character and conduct in the wilderness. The manna is typical of our heavenly bread. The smitten rock is typical of our precious, smitten, wounded Christ. The water typical of those streams which flow from the Rock, and attend us all through the desert. In these and many more, Israel as a nation, were a typical people ; but as the words can only fully apply to the election of grace, let us contemplate them as applicable to the people of God, and in so doing, notice1st, The everlasting love of God to his people. 2nd, The blessed security of his saints. 3rd, The position they are brought to occupy. And 4th, The infallible nature of their instruction.
In the first place, we have to consider the everlasting love of God to his people. The sentence is prefaced with an eternal yea : “Yea, He loved the people.” The love of God is a subject endless in its duration, for ever telling, yet untold; like its great Author, incomprehensible and past finding out. Angels are eternally celebrating it, saints are for ever soaring into its amazing heights, diving into its mighty depths, and realizing something of its wondrous lengths and breadths ; but it is, and will for ever remain, an unfathomable ocean without a bottom, brim, or shore. All the mighty minds of angels, with all the innumerable host of God's elect, will find everlasting sea room here for their most expanded and glorified powers and faculties to dive in. This will be heaven to the saint ; to be immersed in love, to swim in love, in God himself; for “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” What volumes have been written upon this subject. How many tongues have been, and will be employed to warble it forth! But who can fathom it? Who can comprehend it ! Who can describe a millionth part of it ! God only knows the love of God. What then can be said on a subject so vast, on a theme so infinite and profound! Yet it is the privilege of the objects of this love to know it, to taste it, to feel it, to drink of it, to talk of it, and to sing of it,—" And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." Its great Author is known, its nature is known, its properties are known, its expressions are known, and its blessed results are known. Everything in heaven, and everything great on earth is employed by its great Author to set it forth : the types, the prophecies, the promises and doctrines of the glorious gospel, all conspire in proclaiming it; but time and eternity itself will never fully utter it. What, therefore, can a sinful mortal say of it ? Ah! wonderful consideration! man can say more of it, and know much more of it, than unfallen angels ; for it is to sinners God commendeth or setteth forth his love in its most wonderful forms. Herein is love, and hereby perceive we the love of God, because he (God) laid down his life for us.
“ Greater love hath no man than this : that a man lay down his life for his friends.” But * here is infinitely greater love, for “God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The great Godman laid down his life for his people while they were enemies. It is sinners that know most of this love, in its wondrous and attractive forms. Saved sinners trace up their salvation to this high eternal source. It was love fixed upon their persons before time-love that came down into time, and comprehended of course the whole of the little speck of time. It is love under the fall, love in precious blood, and love appearing in ten thousand forins of condescending grace and mercy. Pardoned blood-washed sinners are they who know most of God's love, and who will in highest strains adore and praise the Eternal Lover. Therefore, though it is an endless subject, yet it should be our best subject, our constant theme as sinners saved by grace ; and though we can never comprehend the sublime mystery, yet, as little fish, as well as gigantic ones live in the same mighty ocean, swim in the same element, and drink of the element they swim in, and according to their capacities go into the depths of the ocean, so it is with the objects of God's love, all have not the comprehensive powers and enlarged capacity of a grace-saved Paul, and of other inspired apostles, to preach, to publish and set forth some of the amazing heights and depths of grace ; yet the feeblest saint dwells in the same love, swims in the same element, and is as much interested in the boundle 83 ocean thereof, as those who go down into the depths.
If Paul, therefore, is a specimen of those who know most of this deep mystery, we see the most that is known is enough to make such an one exclaim, in holy wonder and admiration, “Oh the depths ?" heights above him, depths unfathomable beneath him ! lengths before him, and breadths eternal all around him. He declares it will take a whole eternity to shew forth “the exceeding riches of His grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.” But let us contemplate it in our little way, and
May our thoughts delighted rove,
Amidst the wonders of His love." “Yea, He loved the people.” This is God's yea, as contained in Jeremiah xxxi. 3. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love ! Yea! this is God's Amen,his eternal solemn oath. He loved. It is yea, and can never be nay, unless God can change, which is impossible. It is done, and done by the great Jehovah himself. He loved! Who is this great Eternal Lover? It is Jehovah in the Trinity of his Persons : Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is, therefore, a triune love, yet one love-love flowing in three distinct mighty rivers, in parallel lines ; all originating and emanating from one great source or spring, and all terminating in the source from whence it arose. Hence all rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full, because all rivers and streams first run out or proceed from the sea ; there is water in the mighty deep, water flowing in a thousand channels, water concealed in the springs of the earth, water drawn up into the clouds, water conveyed in those aeriel chariots, water descending in torrents or showers, or in the form of dew ; it is the same everywhere, though discovered and revealed in divers forms and ways. So God is love, an ocean of love ; this love is concealed in the depths, breaks up in the fall, meets and centres in Christ as the great Reservoir, is drawn from him and deposited in the clouds, his ministers, who are clouds, not without water, but who are fraught from Christ's fulness, directed by the Spirit where to go, scattered sometimes by the winds of persecution, and caused to drop down in showers of blessing ; when and where the great Sovereign of all worlds pleases.
It is a parental love ; the love of the Father. It is a fraternal love ; the love of the Son. It is a spiritual love ; the love of the Spirit. It is a love before time, making everlasting provision for time, and for a boundless eternity. It is love manifested and expressed in time, and it will be love unfolding and for ever revealing beyond the bounds of time. It is love adopting, love predestinating, love planning, love scheming, love arranging, love providing. And all this is infinite love. What will not creature love do? It will do according to its strength and ability. What then will not, or has not God the Father's love done, where there is divinity, eternity, and infinity in it all; and there is all this in God the Father's love. He is all that that most precious name imports, Father! “I am a Father to Israel ; as well as the Father of Israel.” It was this form of love manifested, which caused the beloved John to exclaim with holy admiration, “ Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God!" &c. It is love bestowed, and bestowed on us, and not on angels that fell. It is a fixed love, a love fixed on persons, a love fixed on the persons of God's people, in Christ, before the world began, a love which embraced the whole election of grace in its pure arms, in the pure mass of God's creatureship, and, consequently is an eternal love--an unchangeable love. It is the love of God's own good will and pleasure, therefore a sovereign love. Nothing out of God himself ever moved him to love. He loves because he will love, and can never withdraw the love he has fixed upon the objects thereof. We love our children because they are our children. God's love noved him to make them sons, and he cannot cease to love them as sons. He loved all his people alike, with the selfsame love,-loved them in Christ, loved them like Christ, loved and chose Head and members together. And it is a sweet and blessed consideration, that, as there was nothing in them to move their God to love them, so there can arise nothing to move God to cease to love them; the cause of love is in himself. From this great source sprang all the expressions and manifestations of the love of God. “Yea! He loved the people :" " the people,” mark, not their principles, but their persons ; and not all people, or any people, but the people.
“ The chosen people were of old
Pure in Jehovah's sight;
But with a vast delight.” The love of God before time was an active love. It was love and wisdom that framed the everlasting covenant ;-love filled up every part of it ; love prepared the mansions, settled the kingdom upon the heirs, contrived the wondrous plan of mercy, provided the Saviour before sin was born, or Satan fell, registered the names of God's chosen to life, and love blessed them irreversibly and eternally in Christ with all spiritual blessings. Love settled all secured all, and rested in itself. Islington (To be continued.)
SALVATION BY BAPTISM. An Abstract of a Sermon preached in the Baptist Chapel, Braunston, Rugby,
by J. W. COLE.
" The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the
filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”—1 Pet. iii. 21.
It has been supposed by some, that Peter's first Epistle was especially addressed to Gentiles who had believed in the true God, and his Son Jesus Christ, without submitting to the Jewish rite of circumcision. The object of its writer appears to have been to assure these persons that they were saved by the grace of God, through the redemption of Jesus, without the sacrifices and ordinances of the Mosaic economy. The first five verses of the epistle appear to us to favour this view; and the verses immediately preceding the text have a like import. The text itself has been considered one of the most difficult in the epistle, and many have been the mistakes made regarding it.
In considering these words, two things naturally call for our attention : the fact referred to, and the figure mentioned.
The fact referred to is the deluge, and the salvation of Noah and his family therefrom. In endeavouring to understand this passage, it is of importance to bear in mind, that the same element that wrought the destruction of the guilty world, was made the means of salvation to the eight persons who were kept alive. That the apostle had this view in truth is apparent, for in the 20th verse he speaks of “eight souls” being “saved by water." The water that destroyed the unbelievers saved the believers. The flood was a “ savour of death unto death,” unto the one, and of “ life unto life" unto the other. This was effected by the employment of certain means, which transformed the element of death into an element of life. These means were the ark, made according to Divine direction, the entering into it by the eight souls, and Jehovah's shutting them in.
Having thus briefly adverted to the fact alluded to, let us now glance at the figure mentioned : “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us." Or, as the words have been more lucidly rendered, " And baptism the copy of this now saveth us." The copy of the salvation of Noah saveth us ; that is, as he was saved, so are we; the idea evolved by the text is plainly this, " Salvation by baptism.”
How ? and by what baptism ? are the questions which will now engage our attention. Persons very frequently are led into error, through not clearly understanding terms employed. When listening to the conversation of some, we have been almost led to think that there is but “one baptism” mentioned in God's
word ; but we know, by a careful study of that word, that there are several. In the present day, the word “ baptism” is employed, almost exclusively, to express the initiatory rite of Christianity. But the Bible writers use the word baptism in a variety of senses, and consequently make it express more than one meaning. In Heb. vi. 2, we read of the doctrine of “baptisms," not baptism; and in the 9th chapter and 10th verse we read of divers baptisms ;” or different kinds of baptisms. The question, then, may be properly propounded, “What kind of baptism, is the baptism of our text ? Now I have no hesitation in affirming that I do not consider the baptism of the text as having any direct reference to the baptism of believers. In my opinion it plainly refers to the baptism of Christ for believers. That it cannot primarily refer to believers' baptism,” we as Baptists shall readily admit, because the text speaks of this kind of baptism as saving us; and we hold that baptism, upon a profession of faith, does not, and cannot save any man.
We go further even than this, and maintain that a man, to be a fit subject for baptisn, must be already saved. But, in this matter, we are not left to mere conjecture. Peter himself is careful to inform us that he does not allude to water baptism ; for, in parenthesis, he says, “ Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” i.e., not fleshly washing, or purification, by immersion in water, but that baptism which gives a man the answer of a good conscience towards God.” And what baptism is this? Surely not water baptism. That purifies no man's conscience.
Baptismal regeneration ” has no place in our creed. The baptism of the text, then, às we have before stated, is the baptism, not of water, but of blood, the baptism of the Redeemer for, or instead of his people. In Luke's Gospel xii. 50, the Saviour is spoken of as uttering these words, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened (or pained) till it be accomplished.” This was the baptism that saved his church, and this is the baptism of our text. In order to an elucidation of this truth, let us again refer to the fact from which the figure is derived. The antediluvian world was destroyed by water, and those who were saved were saved by water, through being shut up in the ark, which ark the sake of Noah and his family, baptized with water. “ The waters of Noah” (see Isa. liv. 8, 9) were a type or figure of the waves of Divine wrath ; the ark of Noah was a type of Jesus, the ark of the new covenant. Above, around, below, the foaming waters of the deluge leaped ; iminersing, or baptizing the ark, and yet those within were safe. “ The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us." That which destroys the ungodly saves the church, through the ark Christ Jesus. What is it that will destroy the world ? Divine wrath. What is it that will be the means of salvation to the church ? Divine wrath poured upon the ark of the New Testament. For forty days and forty nights the billows raged and roared around the ark of Noah, but the higher the waters rose the higher arose the ark also, with its living freight, until, at last, it rested, in the sunshine, upon the mountains of Ararat. The resurrection of Noah's ark over and above the billow's foam, and the consequent preservation of the patriarch and his family is a beautiful “
figure” of the resurrection mentioned in our text,“ the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”. A deluge of Divine wrath was poured upon God's well beloved Son. He could truthfully exclaim, “ All thy billows have gone over me !" Christ was baptized in the fierce waters of tribulation. The waves of retributive justice overflowed him, our“ Hiding-place.” In Gethsemane, and on Calvary, the baptism of wrath was His ; but above it all He rose; like the ark of olden time, He could not be destroyed; above the waves of Almighty wrath He ultimately soared ; his resurrection and ascension were the evidences of his triumph. In the Scriptures, the believer is constantly spoken of as“ in Christ.” As Noah and his family were literally in the ark, so figuratively the whole redeemed family of God are in Christ. The consideration of these truths caused the sainted Doddridge to sing,
“How dire the wreck! how loud the roar!
How shrill the universal cry
Re-echoed from the frowning sky.
“Yet Noah, humble, happy saint !
Surrounded with the chosen few,
And praised the grace that steered him througlı.
While storms of vengeance round me fall,
Above what shakes this earthly ball." An important question may now be put to each one of us. Have we felt that Jesus has been baptized for us? Has the Holy Ghost revealed this truth to our souls? In other words, Are we in Christ? The safety of Noah and his fainily consisted in this ; they were in the ark. Owing to the peculiar construction of that noble vessel the waters that destroyed all else had no power to destroy it, hence all its inmates were safe. Owing to the complex nature of the Lord Jesus, the blending of the human with the Divine, God's wrath which could destroy all else could have no destructive power upon him. Hence the everlasting security of all who are found in him.
Another important truth appears to be evolved by this text,--the bond of spiritual union which unites believers is not woven by outward ordinances, however important these may be. Salvation does not depend upon what one Christian does for another, but upon what Jesus has done for all. Water baptism is but the means of uniting us in the outward, Christ's baptism for us, through the eternal Spirit, unites inwardly. This baptism is the procuring cause of Christian unity. In the time of the deluge, what was it that separated the family of Noah from the doomed world ? Their being in the ark. The latter was outside, terror-stricken and dismayed ; the former inside, peaceful and secure. What is it that separates the world from the church? The being in or out of Christ. Difference of opinion upon outward ordinances cannot sever the souls of true believers.
“ We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren,” and “the brethren ”are all who have fled to Christ for refuge, and are safe within the ark of the everlasting covenant. In saying this much, we are not undervaluing the doctrine of believers' baptism, we trust we shall always give that its proper prominence, its right position, among the “divers baptisms ” of God's word. We are now echoing the sentiment of an inspired apostle, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.”
It is worthy of notice that two things were gained through the deluge, by those who were saved from it ; namely, deliverance from all those who were opposed to them, and, eventually, a renovated world. Just so, all who are in Christ will gain two corresponding blessings, from the baptism to which, as the ark of the everlasting covenant, He was exposed on their behalf. Deliverance will be theirs, ulti, mately, from all their enemies, both spiritual and temporal; and, in the end they will dwell upon a renewed and purified earth.
An observation or two upon the words “ the answer of a good conscience toward God," and we have done. You will observe that the apostle does not speak of the answer of a good conscience toward man. We are not called upon to be always satisfying men regarding our conduct; and if we tried to do so we should most certainly fail. Furthermore, the apostle does not write of the answer of a good conscience towards ourselves. Hundreds and thousands are able to satisfy themselves in matters of conscience, who will never be able to satisfy God. We must have " the answer of a good conscience towards God.” Supposing, amid the crash and roar of the flood, the question had been put to Noah, “How do you know that you will certainly be saved ?” He would not have said, I hope I shall be saved, or I think I shall be saved, or I feel I shall be saved. His conscience would not have turned inward for reply, but outward. He would have replied somewhat after this fashion, “He that sent the deluge to destroy all who are not in the ark has promised that all who are in shall be saved. I rely upon that promise, I repose upon the faithfulness and the power of Him who made it." I am in the ark, the means, the only means of escape of God's devising, and I know that I am safe. I have believed, I do believe, and