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attention awakened by these points of resemblance had caused the Jews to suspend their judgment, and to wait for further evidence, then their candour and docility would in time have been rewarded. For as John bare witness to Jesus, without performing any miracles, so Jesus afterwards bare witness to John, and confirmed his witness by miracles. Accordingly John did not preach faith but repentance. It was Jesus and the ministers of the Gospel who preached belief ; because they and not John presented miraculous proofs to their hearers. All that John's ministry seems designed to accomplish was, “ to prepare the way of the Lord;" to cause men to lend a candid and attentive ear to him ; to suspend their decision; and to admit the force of his miraculous evidence when displayed to them.
The Baptist's testimony respecting our Lord was, that he was mightier than himself: and, that instead of a mere baptism by water such as his, there was to be a baptism with the Holy Ghost. From this declaration you would infer that some new connection with the Holy Ghost is acquired by Christian baptism, such as no other baptism could communicate, no not even John the Baptist's; although“ among them that were born of women there had not arisen a greater than John' Accordingly we read in the Acts, that some whom John had baptized, were re-baptized by St. Paul, in order to admit them to this privilege'; and we find our Lord, in his last charge to his apostles, not only commanding them to baptize all nations, but declaring that “ he that believeth and is baptized shall be saveds." It is not of course that there is any charm in the waters of baptism, nor that it affects us like a medicinal application; but the ceremony is a fulfilment of a condition, which it has pleased Christ to enjoin on us; and he who complies with it, “ is saved” or admitted to the rights and privilege of a Christian, not because he is affected by the water, but because he has performed a specific act of obedience to Christ. It is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,” in which, according to St. Peter, the saving efficacy of Baptism consists".
Ver. 9—11. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
In St. Matthew it is mentioned, that when Jesus approached John to demand baptism of him, John objected, " saying, I have need to be baptized of thee.” But Jesus told him,
• Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness ;” and upon this John baptized
If therefore it be asked, why our Lord, who had no sins to repent of, and who was himself to impart to mankind the Holy Ghost, should have been baptized, and should have had attached to his baptism the emblem of his union with the Holy Spirit ; the proper answer must surely be that which he himself gave to the scruples of John. It was done “ because thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”—because this was henceforth the established mode of attaining the
· Matt. iii. 14.
means of righteousness or justification”. Christ must be considered in this, and in several acts of his life, as fulfilling the office of pattern to his Church, and to each individual; and as doing, not what was needful for him, but what was needful because “ thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. He was baptized ; and immediately his union with the Holy Spirit was manifested by the descent of the Shechinah, -the brilliant flame which denoted God's presence-to shew, that by following this appointed mode, we too should enjoy fellowship with the same Spirit. Hence in allusion to a similar manifestation attached to the infant Church on the day of Pentecost, he speaks of their being“ baptized with the Holy Ghost?,” the very language of John the Baptist before he baptized the Lord. It is in allusion to his declaration on this occasion—that he was baptized because “ thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”—that he is said by the apostle to have been “ justified” or “ made righteous in the Spiritm."
* In the original Greek, these two terms are expressed by the same word, δικαιοσύνη. | Acts i. 5. and xi. 16.
k 2 Tim. iii. 16.
The Holy Ghost is said to have descended on Him“ like a dove," not meaning that there was the semblance of a dove, (for that would not have been recognized as the token of divine presence ;) but, that the holy light, or “ glory of the Lord,” the established symbol of God's revelation of himself, descended on him either in shape like a dove, or else with that easy motion with which a dove alights on any object. It was, no doubt, the same brilliant emblem, which, in the form of many tongues, descended on the Church afterwards at the day of Pentecost ; and which, in the long series of God's communications with man, had been the chosen sign of his immediate pre
The cherubim that guarded the gate of Eden held a flaming sword; it was out of a burning bush that the Lord first called unto Moses; mysterious lightnings played around the summit of Mount Sinai when the Law was preparing, as they afterwards struck Saul blind at his conversion; it was a pillar of fire that guided the Israelites through the wilderness; and a glorious light that was first attached to their tabernacle, and afterwards abode in their temple, where God fixed his name. And now, in like manner, when