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sees had heard, that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John:” and then, the words expressing that Jesus did not baptize in person, come in as a parenthesis. Here it appears, that the Pharisees, like the disciples of John, considered Jesus as the principal agent in what was done by his disciples: the fact being unequivocally understood, that it was with his knowledge, and by virtue of his command. And with this agrees what is added“He left Judæa, and departed again into Galilee:” retiring from too great notoriety, in this stage of his ministry; agreeably to what is said by him in the chapter but one preceding—"Mine hour is not yet
Such are the circumstances, here thought to repel the only objection, which has been made to the position, that our Lord, at a very early period of his ministry, instituted a rite of baptism, of which the use of water was an accompaniment. The objection rests entirely on the taking of the parenthesis in the second verse of the fourth chapter, without regard to the twenty-third verse of the chapter immediately preceding; and both of the places, disjoined from the attendant circumstances.
The second point, is the commission given by Christ in the last act of his ministry, * that of “ teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Whatever acknowledgments have been made of the intendment of water baptism in other places; it has been perceived, that there is no way of detach. ing this place from subserviency to the rite, but by interpreting it of spiritual baptism. Against this there lies the objection, that it supposes the apostles clothed with power, more than human. On the other hand, to sustain the interpretation, there is adduced—“ In Christ Jesus, I have begotten you, through the gospel.”+ But let the circumstances of
the two sayings be considered. The apostles, in the preceding chapter, had been discoursing of that factious spirit, which led the Corinthians to arrange themselves under the characters of the persons, by whom they had been respectively brought within the fold. Although he had disclaimed any headship of this sort over any of them; yet he does not disdain to remind them, of his having been the founder of their Church. There was especial propriety in this, when he was about to announce to them an intended visit of ecclesiastical discipline, and to ask them"What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?"* All these circumstances show a reference to visible Church membership. On this subject, it was no overstrained figure to say to them“ Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” But what analogy is there between such a saying, on such a subject, and in a glow of mind excited by argument; and a similar saying, where the subject is the operation of the grace of God over the human heart; and under the solemnity of a command, which was to be operative to the end of time? To administer an ordinance divinely instituted, might be the act of man: and if any benefit attached thereto, it was of the grace of God. And yet, that this is in the power of man, is involved in the merely spiritual interpretation given to the passage. What is here affirmed will be distinctly seen, if we suppose any Christian minister speaking of him. self, as performing an operation thus supposed to have been committed to them all, at all times, and in all places.
The third point, is the practice of the apostles, immediately succeeding the receipt of their commission. The book of the Acts of the Apostles abounds with instances of this. After the first ser
• Verse 21.
mon of St. Peter, three thousand entered the Church
had baptized none of them besides the persons specified. Here was a reason, peculiar to that case; and certainly evidencing the Christian spirit of the apostle. We may imagine a case resembling it. Let there be supposed a congregation, among whom different preachers of the gospel from different quarters, had occasionally exercised their ministry. The congrega. tion become occupied by foolish dissensions, concerning the comparative merits of these men, and their respective gifts. One of them, in a pastoral address of censure to that people, tells them among other things, that he is glad of having preached to them very seldom, lest he should seem to have contributed to the excesses of their litigious spirit. To infer from such an address, that the minister making it considered preaching as not within his ecclesiastical department, would be an argument very like the supposing concerning St. Paul, that he had little esteem for the ordinance of baptism; because it had been only in a few instances adminis. tered by him, in the single city of Corinth. If the same minister be supposed occupied in a theological depart. ment, not requiring him to appear often in the pulpit; and if he were to allude to that his occupation, as what had principally been the cause of his not having preached oftener to the congregation in question; it would bring the case still nearer to that under consi. deration.
The next point, is the irrelevancy of what is urged concerning the baptism of the spirit
, foretold by John. It was foretold, not only by the Baptist, but by Jesus himself after his resurrection, when he instructed his disciples--" John verily baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many day's hence.”* It is confessed on all hands, that the prophecy was fulfilled by what is recorded in the next chapter “ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance.”+ This construction is also warranted
by the authority of St. Peter; where, in reference to the case of Cornelius, and the descent of the Holy Ghost in that instance, the apostle says" Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”*
It was conceded in the lecture, that these places have no reference to any baptism, accompanied by the element of water; but it was contended, that neither do they relate to those influences of divine grace, which are affirmed on the other side to be intended in Matt. xxviii. 19; and which the advocates for water baptism consider as attached to the due use of that element. If this view of the subject be correct; it follows, that in the places in question, the word baptism is used in a metaphorical sense; as on other occasions, the terms life and death are transferred from a temporal to a spiritual signification; and as we are said to be crucified with Christ, when it means, not any bodily injury, but the mortifying of corrupt propensities. The propriety of this construction, will appear on due attention to the circumstances of the last mentioned case, and to the tenour of the prophecy thus fulfilled.
Although in the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Cæsarians, Peter already perceived the fulfilment of the promise of his master, in that metaphorical baptism which was without water; yet the narrative represents him saying—"Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we?”+ And then follows“He com. manded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord'-confessedly meaning with water. How little does this agree with the supposition, that the one and only baptism was what the apostle had immediately before seen performed by a divine energy!
There are other considerations manifesting, that the pouring out of the miraculous gifts, which began on the day of Pentecost, could not have been the spiritual * Acts xi. 16. † x. 47.