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were needful to the apostles and first preachers of the gospel.
This, however, was not that baptism of which John was speaking, which is needed by every man in every age; and which Peter promised to the first assembly of believers, when he exhorted them to “ repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."9 All Christians were not to be “ evangelists, or prophets, or pastors, or teachers;" but all must become “ new creatures ;"
" all must abandon their wickedness, and leave the sins which had separated them from God; all must perform those good works," which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” All, therefore, stood in need of that Spirit with which Jesus should baptize them, and which could alone affect the heart, and turn it “ from the power of Satan unto God :” could produce that change of which St. Paul speaks, when he reminds the Ephesians of the truth which they had learnt, “ the truth as it is in Jesus;” that they “put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful Justs; and that they put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” ?
This is the true baptism of the Holy Ghost, to which even the extraordinary gifts of the day of Pentecost must yield. For “ whether there be prophecies, they shall fail ; whether there be tongues, they shall cease;" } whether there be miracles, they shall be no more needful; but of the Spirit there 9 Acts ii. 38.
See Eph. iv. 11. . Eph. iv. 20—24.
3 See 1 Cor. xiji. 8.
will be perpetual need, and of its fruits there shall be no decay : “ love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” these shall never fail, but flourish for ever “ in the kingdom of Christ and of God.".
BAPTISM OF JESUS.
MARK i. 9-11.
9. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
Thus he saw it good to “ fulfil all righteousness :" to be a complete pattern to his people in every age of all that he designed them to follow. He had no corrupt nature, and needed no cleansing, being “ without spot of sin.” Nevertheless, since all who are“ brought to God" through the redemption wrought by him, are required to seal their faith in him by baptism, and testify their purpose of leading a life according to his will : Jesus has left them his own example, and entered upon his ministerial course by being baptized of John in Jordan.
* Gal. v. 23.
10. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the hearens opened, and the Spirit like a dore descending
He saw the heavens opened. As if to convey a promise and encouragement to as many as “ receive him, and believe in his name.” Their baptism is the entrance upon a new life on earth, which leads to eternal life above: opens to the redeemed and sanctified soul that inheritance in the heavens, which otherwise were closed against it for ever. ?
He saw too the Spirit like a dove descending upon him : and indicating that we may expect a like blessing for those who are baptized in his name ; may justly pray, that being “ born again of water,” they may be also“ born again of the Spirit;" that their carnal nature may be changed, and renewed “ after the image of God.”
11. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
It may be said here, as was said on another occasion, This voice from heaven came not for Christ's sake, but for our sakes. It was the solemn testimony of God to the person and character of Christ. It directed those who heard it to the Saviour whom he had sent, and to the salvation which he had prepared for them. It was an assurance, first, that he was well pleased with the work which his beloved Son had undertaken, when he accomplished the prophecy, “Lo, I come, to fulfil thy will, O God.” 3 Lo,
See Chrys. in loco. 2 Ιb. ένα μαθης, ότι και σου βαπτιζομενου τουτο γινεται. 3 Ps. xl. 7. Heb. x. 7-9.
I come to offer that sacrifice which has been planned “ before the foundation of the world,” that perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of ail men, that they may be brought back to the Father whom they have abandoned. With this sacrifice God was well pleased. It was agreeable to his HOLINESS that sin should be thus shown to be “exceeding sinful ;" that its dreadful consequences should be manifested to the world ; as was most evidently shown, when the beloved Son, the only begotten of the Father, was lifted up upon the cross, that he might bear our transgressions and be bruised for our iniquities.
And, further, it was agreeable to the MERCY of God, that man whom sin had ruined, should be delivered from destruction. He saw Jesus entering upon a course which all his disciples were to follow : he saw him submit to baptism, in token of that deliverance from the power of Satan, and that dedication to the service of God which should hereafter
bring many sons to glory.” He saw this, and was well pleased : for he“ willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live :" and in this commencement of the ministry of reconciliation he foresaw the multitude of all ages and countries who being turned from darkness to light on earth, should dwell “ among the saints in light " eternally.
But there was another reason why God declared himself well pleased with his beloved Son. He was not only that “ Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world :" but he was also, like the lamb by which he was prefigured, without blemish
+ Rom. vii. 13.
and without spot :”s he was “ holy, harmless, unde
' filed;" "without sin,” “neither was guile found in him:” a pattern of all righteousness. He took our nature upon him, first and chiefly, that he might “bear our sins in his own body;" in a body of that nature which had sinned. But he also set before us, in the same nature, an example of all that God
approves, in manner of life, in love, in patience, in meekness, in long-suffering, in purity, in charity, in humility. And this character is pleasing to God: and the followers of this perfect pattern are pleasing to him also, when they faithfully imitate, and earnestly aspire after it. According to the frequent exhortation of the apostles, “Let the same mind be in you,
which was in Christ Jesus :" who left us an example that we should follow his steps, and strive after holiness, “even as he who hath called us is holy.”
Therefore the testimony here borne to Jesus concerns ourselves, and warns us to inquire how
consent to it, how far our thoughts accord with the voice from heaven. This is the purpose for which we are constantly studying Scripture, that our minds may be brought into conformity with the divine will. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him."6
But we, we Christians, are not of nature, but of grace; we are not to retain the sentiments of the natural man: and let us ask ourselves, how far our mind has been well brought to agree with the mind of God, who is well pleased with his
5 Ex. xii. 5.
1 Pet. i. 29.
6 1 Cor. ii. 14.