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THE

DOCTRINE

OF

BAPTISM S.

THE Lord, foreseeing how great an evil it would be in the church, to leave men, either to their own or to other men's opinions and judgment in the things of God, did, in the very beginning of the Gospel, command and bind all the faithful to hear Christ alone, saying from heaven (that we might give absolute credit to his voice) This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him: And the more the faithful have kept to the word of Christ, the more they have been free from error; and the more they have left this, and turned aside after the doctrines of men, (though men, in some measure faithful and holy) the more they have been perverted and seduced; insomuch that the true church of God, and the very faithful themselves, have received, held and maintained divers errors, and false doctrines, and opinions, even for many ages and generations; yea, and have not been altogether free from some, from the very apostles times; And because many or most godly men in former ages, held such and such opinions, therefore the following ages have taken them upon trust from them, and have entertained them as sure and certain, though not at all consulting, in those points, with the great doctor and apostle of the New Testament, Jesus Christ. And thus have the very elect themselves been drawn into much er

ror, though they have still had Christ for their foundation, and were built on him so firmly by faith, that the gates of hell could not prevail against them.

Now to free the faithful from the former mistake, (and consequently from all error) there is no other way than this wholly to forsake the doctrines of men, and to lay by all those opinions that we have sucked in from our very cradles, and which are now become even a natural religion to us; I say, utterly to lay by, and wholly to forget all these things, and to come immediately to the pure and unerring word of God, and to the voice of Jesus Christ himself by his Spirit, wherein all things are true, sincere and perfect; and not to bring hearts to the word, that are prepossessed with doctrines and opinions learned of men; but to come thither with hearts and consciences free and unengaged, and in all meekness, uprightness, and simplicity of heart, to hear what Jesus Christ, the faithful and true witness, will say to his Spirit, which also is the Spirit of truth; and to receive and believe that alone, though never so differing from the opinions and doctrines of this present age, as well as of the former, though perhaps the whole nation would be offended with it.

And this is the course that I have observed, to come to some clear and certain knowledge in the doctrine of Baptisms for having read much, and discoursed with many, touching this point, and having seriously considered what they say, as one that searched after the truth, for itself only, and for the satisfaction of my own soul; I do profess, I could scarcely find any thing spoken, for my spirit boldly and safely to lean on, perceiving most of what they said, to be but the apprehensions and thoughts of men; and that they spake very much by conjecture, and at uncertainty in this matter; and thereupon I resolved, wholly to withdraw from such discourse, and

to lay down whatever opinions I had before entertained touching this point, and to come to the plain and manifest scriptures, and from thence (after much seeking God) to learn whatever the Lord should please to teach me; choosing rather, to build on the clear word, though alone, than on any uncertain inferences, and blind conjectures of men, though embraced and magnified by all the world.

Now in this inquiry from the word, I met with that place in Heb. vi. 2. where the apostle, speaking of some of the first, and initial points of the Christian religion, names Bμ Aidann, the doctrine of Baptisms: whence I perceived, that in the primitive church, they had the doctrine of Baptisms in the plural number, and therefore did apply myself to search from the word, what these Baptisms might be; and so met with the baptist's own doctrine touching Baptisms, mentioned Matt. iii. Mark i. Luke iii. and John i. for all the evangelists make mention of this, it being a matter of so great concernment, and Luke makes mention of the ground of this doctrine of the baptist, chap. iii. 15. As the people were in expectation, (saith he) and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not: John answered, saying, &c. The people, it seems, had great and high thoughts of John, because he was the son of the high priest, conceived after an extraordinary manner, his parents being both well stricken in age, and past children by the course of nature and then the manner of his life was strange, for he lived in the wilderness, out of the ordinary converse of the world; and his apparel and diet were unusual, being raiment of camels hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his meat, locusts and wild honey; but especially his ministry was mighty, being in the spirit and power of Elias; and his baptism, new and famous; so that all the people stood in great expectation of some

work or event from Him, that should manifest him to be the Christ. Wherefore John, to take them off from that gross and dangerous mistake, plainly told them all, and that openly, that he was not the Christ, but that there was a great deal of difference between himself and the Messias, and that both in regard of his person and office.

First for his office. For he begins to shew the difference from thence, because the newness of his baptism was the occasion of the peoples' conceiving that he was the Messias; whereupon he vilifies his own baptism in respect of Christ's; saying, I indeed baptize you with water; that is, my baptism is but water-baptism, that washes the body only with a corporeal element; but one mightier than I, comes; for I am but a creature, He the power of God; I but a servant, He the Lord of all; and one so infinitely excellent above all that I am, that the latchet of his shoes I am not worthy to unloose; that is, I am unworthy to perform the meanest and lowest office for Him. And having thus first spoken meanly of his own baptism, and then magnified Christ's person above his own, now he proceeds also to magnify Christ's baptism above his own: He (saith he) shall baptize you with the Holy Spi rit, and with fire; that is, I that am a servant, do baptize with water; but he that is the Son, baptizes with the Spirit; my baptism washes but the body from the filth of the flesh, but his, the soul from the filth of sin; so that, by how much the spirit excels water, and God the creature, so much his baptism transcends mine.

Now, hence I gather clearly, even from the baptist's own mouth, that John's baptism and Christ's were distinct baptisms, the one water-baptism, the other fire-baptism: And though our late writers have, and do affirm, that John's baptism and Christ's make up but one entire baptism, yet the ancient christians generally apprehended them to be distinct; one whereof saith, Illud mani

festum est, alium fuisse Johannis Baptismum, alium Christi:* And I could produce many more testimonies besides, but it is not my meaning to entangle any body with the authorities of men; and therefore I shall make it plain by clear scriptures, and evidences from them, that John's baptism and Christ's are distinct.

1. John's baptism and Christ's are distinct in their appellations in scripture; for John's. baptism was still so called, even when the Apostles used it; and it was not called by their names who administered it, but was still called John's baptism: Yea, after Christ's baptism came in, John's still retained its name, as being distinct from it; and therefore, Acts xviii. 24, 25, it is said, Apollos taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

2. The scripture saith, that Christ's baptism was to follow John's, and did not accompany it at the same time: for in Matt. iii. John saith, I do baptize you with water, but he that comes after me, i. e. in order of time, he shall baptize you: And in Luke iii. I have baptized you, but he shall baptize you; which places plainly declare, that Christ's baptism did not go along with John's, but was to follow it; and that he was to baptize with the Spirit, after John's water-baptism had had its full course, to wit, when he was risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And therefore Christ, after he was risen from the dead, and immediately before he was to ascend into heaven; though his disciples had used water-baptism, or John's baptism, for above three years; yet affirms that that which John had said of Him, touching his baptizing with the Spirit, was not yet fulfilled, but was shortly to be fulfilled, as appears, Acts i. 4, 5. Christ, being assembled with the Apostles, commanded them that they should not depart from

*Aug. contr. liter. Petil. 2. c. 37.

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