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-whether it was enjoined on the High Priest, or on the leper, or on the proselyte from heathenism, or on the disciple of John, or on the convert of the apostles,-it was, I believe, in all cases, a rite of purification. Thus we find, that the baptism of John excited a disputation, between him and the Jews, on the subject of purifying ; John iii, 25: thus Paul was exhorted by Ananias to be baptized (or, as in the Greek, to baptize himself), and to wash away his sins; Acts xxii, 16: and thus, in apparent allusion (although in a spiritual sense) to the rite of baptism, the same apostle describes his own converts, as washed and sanctified; I Cor. vi, 11; comp. Eph. v, 26; Heb. x, 22, &c. Now, it is certain that, at the Christian era, the Jews considered the Gentiles to be unclean persons, so that they were not permitted to associate with them, or to eat in their company; see Acts x, 28; comp. John iv, 9, &c. Hence, therefore, it must have followed, as a matter of course, that no Gentile could become a Jew--could become clean himself, or fitted for association with a clean people-without undergoing the rite of baptism.
uch are the positive evidences and plain reasons which appear to prove, in a very satisfactory manner, the antiquity of the Jewish rite of baptism on conversion, and which confirm the opinion of Hammond, Selden, Lightfoot, Wall, and other learned writers, that this ceremony was perfectly familiar to the Jews, before the incarnation of our Lord. Accordingly, we may observe that, when John“ baptized in the wilderness, and preached the baptism of repentance (or conversion) for the remission of sins," his doctrine was very far from being strange or surprising to his hearers; nor did they evince the least difficulty in submitting themselves to the ordinance. On the contrary, multitudes pressed around him for the purpose: “And there
went out to him," says the evangelist, “ all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins;" Mark i, 4, 5.
It was the office of the Baptist to proclaim the, approach of that heavenly kingdom-that more perfect dispensation for which the pious among the Jews were so anxiously looking; and the faith, into the profession of which he baptized, was faith in the coming Messiah, the long-expected ruler of restored and renovated Israel. “John, verily," said Paul,
baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus;" Acts xix, 4. On the ground of his being either the Christ himself, or Elias the expected forerunner of the Christ, no objection could be taken to his baptism by the Pharisees who came to dispute with him ; for, in either of these characters, he would be the authorized minister of a new and purer faith, and, as a matter of course, a baptizer. It was because of the declaration of John, that he was not the Christ—that he was not Elias-that he was not that prophet,--and for that reason exclusively, that the Pharisees addressed the question to him, “Why baptizest thou then?" John i, 25.
And so it was, also, with the disciples of Jesus. As John baptized, on conversion, to a faith in the Messiah to come, so they baptized, on conversion, to a faith that Jesus was the Messiah. Both John and the apostles were engaged in the work of convertingin making disciples to a new system of faith and conduct, to a holier law, and to a more spiritual dispensation,—and, therefore, on a well-known Jewish principle, and in conformity with an acknowledged Jewish practice, they respectively baptized their converts in water.
Secondly, with respect to the “ Lord's Supper.” It may be doubted whether this supper, as it was observed by the primitive Christians, could justly be considered as a direct ceremonial ordinance. But, upon the supposition that the apostles and their companions, like more modern Christians, were accustomed to practise it as a religious rite, and as a part of their system of divine worship, such an institution must be regarded as immediately connected with the Jewish Passover. The lamb eaten at the Passover, and the bread broken, and wine poured forth in the Christian Eucharist, were equally intended as types; and they were types of the same event—the death and sacrifice of Christ. The two ceremonies, therefore, may be looked upon as the same in point of principle. But, it is more especially to our present purpose to rèmark, that the breaking of the bread, and the pouring forth of the wine, together with the blessing and giving of thanks, which distinguish the ceremony of the Eucharist, actually formed a part of the ritual order to which the ancient Jews were accustomed, in celebrating the supper of the Passover. This fact is sufficiently evident, from the narrations contained in the Gospels of our Lord's last paschal meal with his disciples, and is fully substantiated on the authority of the Rabbinical writers, who, in their minute statements respecting the right method of conducting that ceremonial Jewish supper, have explicitly directed the observance of these several particulars; see Extracts from the Talmud and Maimonides, in Lightfoot. Hor. Heb. in Matt. xxvi.
Before we draw a conclusion from the facts now stated, it may be desirable briefly to review the former part of the argument. In explaining that great law of the New Covenant, that God, who is a spirit, must be worshipped in spirit and in truth, I have adverted to the comparison so evidently instituted by Jesus Christ, when he pronounced the law in question, between the spiritual and substantial worship thus enjoined on his own followers, and that which was customary among the ancient Samaritans and Jews. The two systems of worship are described as completely distinct; the one was about to die away, the other to be established. The old worship consisted principally in the performance of typical rites. The new worship was of a precisely opposite character. The ordinance was to cease; the shadow was to be discontinued; the substance was to be enjoyed; and, in the total disuse of ancient ceremonial ordinances, communion was now to take place between the Father and the souls of his people, only through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and under the saving influences of the Spirit of Truth. On the supposition, therefore, that the ceremonies of water-baptism and the Eucharist are truly of Christian origin, yet, being shadows and types, and nothing more, they perfectly resemble the ordinances of the Jewish law, and plainly appertain to the principle of the Old Covenant. But, further--on a fair examination of the history of these ceremonies, we find, that they not only appertain to the principle of the Old Covenant, but, were practices observed on that principle by the Jews themselves, before the introduction of the Christian revelation. Thus, then, it appears, that they actually formed a part of the ritual system of Judaism itself; and, since it is, on all hands, allowed that the whole of that ritual system, although observed for many years after the death of Jesus by most of his immediate disciples, is nevertheless null and void under the Christian dispensation, we appear to be brought to a sound conclusion, that, in connexion with the worship of Christians, the ceremonies in question are rightly disused.
reasonableness, and of consistency with the leading characteristicks of Christianity, will scarcely be denied by any persons who entertain a just view of the spirituality of true religion. But, on the other hand, it is pleaded, that the New Testament contains certain passages, in which the practice of these rites is not only justified, but enforced; and which, in fact, render such practice obligatory upon all the followers of Christ.
In order to form a sound judgment, whether this notion is correct or erroneous, it will be necessary for us to enter into a somewhat detailed examination of the
passages in question, and of several others in which baptism and the dominical supper are either alluded to, or directly mentioned. Previously, however, to entering on such an examination, I may venture upon one general observation; namely, that if, on philological principles, any such passages are found fairly to admit of either a literal or a spiritual interpretation, -and if it be allowed (as I think it must be, for the general reasons already stated), that the latter is far more in harmony than the former with the admitted character of the Christian dispensation; in such case, we are justified, by the soundest laws of biblical criticism, in adopting the spiritual, and in dropping the literal, interpretation.
I shall commence with Baptism.
The first passage to be considered, in reference to this subject, is that in which the apostle John has described our Lord's conversation with Nicodemus, on the doctrine of regeneration. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee,” said our Saviour, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."... “ Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;" John üü, 3–5. I cannot deny that, when our Lord thus spake of being born of water, his