« PreviousContinue »
BAPTISM OF CHRIST,
INWARD AND SPIRITUAL.
Not, like John's, into Water; but, according to the real Nature of the Gospel into the very Name, Life, and Power of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
That the Apostles' use of Water Baptism was by no means an ordinance of Christ, but as the Baptism of John; and that all who are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, not only professionally, but substantially: that is, have put him on as the whole armour of light, and walk in him in newness of life.
THIS little treatise, reader, is written chiefly for the help and information of such as are in a state of honest inquiry, and who have not yet seen clearly beyond some of those former observances, which at the very best were but preparatory, and pointing to him, and his work on the soul, in whom they all end, and are done away forever; but partly for the confirmation and establishment of such as have been already convinced of the unshadowy dispensation of the gospel.
I have long seen with sorrow, that many sincere souls are much detained from the substance, by undue attachments to the
sign. I have once known and groaned under this bondage and entanglement myself; for though I was never a partaker in any of those outward ordinances, yet I was divers years blinded in my understanding, through the vail that was over me, in reading the accounts of baptism in the New Testament. I could not understand why the apostles used water, especially after Christ's resurrection, if it was not Christ's baptism; nor how men could possibly baptize with the holy ghost; and therefore finding men commanded to baptize, and that they did baptize with water, I concluded, very ignorantly, that water was commanded by Christ. This conclusion, I have since seen, was the natural result of inexperience, in an anxious investigation of things not known by mere human wisdom, or creaturely abilities, but only spiritually discerned. And as my mind was sincerely engaged to see for myself, and avoid all deception, it pleased him who has the key of David, (after I had passed several years of doubt and hesitation, sometimes concluding I should before long be baptized in water, and then struck with an inward and feeling conviction of its utter insufficiency towards effecting the renovation and cleansing which my soul at times longed for,) to open my understanding, chiefly by his own internal operations and illuminations in my inquiring mind, without much of any instrumental means, either reading or hearing; so that I saw clearly (which I had too long been very dull in believing, and fearful in receiving) that Christ himself in spirit had long time been striving with me, moving in me, wooing, calling, knocking, checking, restraining, constraining, and powerfully impressing my mind; but I knew him not, and, in that inward and immediate way, sought not after him. When, alas! had I but known the gift of God, and who it was that inwardly talked with me, I might have asked of him, and received the living water of his heavenly kingdom; as afterwards I did, to the full satisfaction of my thirsty soul. And when this became my joyful experience, wherein the beloved of my soul met with me, as with many others, in the garden, saying, "Eat, O friends-drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved," Cant. v. 1, I became perfectly satisfied, that outward bread, wine, and water, were no part of the baptism or supper of the Lord, nor VOL. II.-55
any way necessary to his anointed, in things pertaining to salvation. It was not very long after this, before I not only believed, but knew, by most consolatory experience, that men, even in in our day, though helpless of themselves, are through divine assistance enabled, instrumentally, in a very powerful and heartwatering manner, to baptize with the holy ghost. For being now engaged to feel after God, if happily I might from time to time renewedly find him, he was not only pleased in these my silent approaches, in religious meetings, and more retired waitings, to arise in me immediately, with the brightness of a morning without clouds, and powerfully to manifest himself to me and in me, as a fountain of living waters; but was also graciously pleased to send among us, of his servants, such as were well qualified to do the work of evangelists, and who being largely acquainted with the soul-saving baptism of Christ in themselves, were so filled with the holy ghost, and spake so demonstratively, in the life, evidence, and divine virtue and vigour of it, that it was like the oil poured on Aaron's head, which ran down to the very skirts of his garment; it even reached, overflowed, and filled my poor soul.
Much I could write respecting these blessed days of my espousals, but enlargement here may be improper; I shall therefore just say, that had I not felt living desires that others may come to a full participation of the same blessed experience, and that none may be longer unprofitably amused and detained, by lifeless signs and symbols, from the all-sufficient substance, thou reader, had never heard from me in this way. I know many find their interest in keeping up a show in these things, and representing them of exceeding great importance. I have no doubt many very sincerely urge them upon their friends and acquaintance, as believing them injunctions of the gospel ; but I am also sadly sensible that too many "seek their gain from their quarter," and obtain it, by keeping up a lifeless round of prayers, preaching, singing, eating, drinking, dipping, sprinkling, &c. and am convinced beyond scruple, that the mammon of unrighteousness, this way increased, is a powerful obstruction to the coming of the kingdom of our Lord, in life and power, unclouded and uneclipsed by the retention of vailing and darkening observances.
Babylon is not yet so fallen, as to rise no more: she is still lurking in a mystery. She is still mystery Babylon the great, and still the mother of many harlots; thousands are ensnared among some or other of her daughters, and are not aware of her May the Lord graciously preserve the honest hearted, of every denomination, from the harmful influences of all her many and artful sorceries, and keep alive their hunger and thirst after true righteousness. I have no doubt but that, if I am finally so happy as to reign in life by Jesus Christ, my only hope and saviour, I shall be there accompanied by thousands, who have through their whole lives lived under the vail, as to outward ordinances; but who, having in great sincerity done what they believed was their duty, in singleness as unto God, and not unto men, are and finally will be well accepted of him, who seeth not as man seeth, but looks through all outside things to the heart. And yet, on the contrary, I do firmly believe many, who have begun and run well for a season, have been by degrees, as outward things have become more and more considerable with them, drawn more and more from the true hunger, and been more and more easy and satisfied with little or nothing of the true bread, water, and wine of the kingdom, till at length they have centred in formality, and sat down in a rest short of the soul's salvation. That thou mayst shun this dangerous rock, dear reader, and be preserved living and growing in the holy root of divine life, to the end of thy stay here, and finally admitted to the joys of the blessed, forever to adore and bless the God of all grace and true consolation, is the prayer of thy sincere friend, and willing servant in the labour and travail of the gospel,
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST,
Of the regular order and succession of divine dispensations. Signs and figures pointed at life and substance. Hence Christ deferred his gospel ministry, till John's course, in a baptism but figurative of his own, was fulfilled. John's baptism and Christ's are type and antitype. Christ sent his disciples to baptize with his own baptism. So breathes on them the holy ghost. Great wisdom even in the timing our Lord's baptism by John, also in his answer to John. John preached the kingdom but at hand. In its nature and fulness, it is after, not before, nor joined with the type. John prepared the way. Some took the kingdom by force. All types end in the antitype. Christ's baptism cleanses thoroughly, as John's was total immersion. A picture, as truly a man, as water baptism Christ's. A single eye full of light, and then the shadow is behind us. Christ was baptized in water, not to continue, but fulfil, that decreasing sign; and so to make way for the increasing substance. He also ate, and thus fulfilled the pass
It is very observable, that our Lord Jesus Christ deferred the open and express promulgation of the gospel of the kingdom till John the Baptist, his immediate forerunner, had fulfilled his course; and that not before, but after John had finished his preparatory ministration, ceased the voice crying in the wilder ness, prepare, &c. quite ended his own decreasing work in that outward elementary baptism, which, as a sign, was to precede and prepare the way for Christ's, and was shut up in prison,he, the Lord of life and glory, the end and ender of all typical dispensations, immediately entered upon the publication of the gospel word; the new, the increasing and ever-continuing dispensation of life, substance, and salvation. For we read, Mat. iv. 12, "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee." And verse 17, "From that