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sary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which, if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well ; fare ye well.” When the epistle was read publicly to the multitude at Antioch, they rejoice ed for the consolation. Thus circumcision was for, mally and publicly abolished, with respect to the Gentiles. But it had been before Christ obligatory, with respect to the Gentiles. This then amounted to an implicit abolition of it altogether; though for reasons abovementioned, the believing Jews continued for sometime in the practice of it. They probably did till the distinction between Jew and Gentile was lost, in the christian Church,
The other question is, whether the essence, or spirįtual meaning of circumcision, as a token or seal of the covenant, was perpetuated in baptism, Baptism had been before in extensive use ; but confined to the Jews, and therefore of an appropriate meaning, not a sign of initiation into the covenant. John's baptism was the baptism of repentance, or preparation for the coming of the Messiah, Tbe baptism which the dis. ciples of Jesus administered, was the baptism of disci. pleship. John iv. 1. ♡ When therefore, the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard, that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.” This baptism was administered to those who had already the token of the covenant upon them; who were previ. ously of the visible seed ; and therefore signified mere, ly their separation from their unbelieving and disobedient brethren, to a visible submission to Christ as the Messiah.
We now speak of that baptism which is properly denominated Christian baptism ; of baptism as a formally instituted ordinance of Christ, to be administer, ed to all who should be gathered in from the Gentile world. This baptism is entirely distinguishable from all previous baptisms. It was instituted by Christ af ter his resurrection ; was wrought into the grand commission he gave to his disciples to preach the Gos,
pel to every creature ; was to go side by side with the recovering influence of their preaching ; and to be, “ into the name (tio ovoce) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Matthew xxviii. 19. , ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost : Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." The question now is, whether circumcision, in the spirit and meaning of it, as a token of the covenant, or seal of the righteousness of faith, be perpetuated, in this instituted baptism. We have seen, that the covenant is one, and everlasting ; and that all the promises of it are irreovocable and effectual, being yea and amen in Christ, Christ is declared to be the minister of the circumcision, for the truth of God, ta confirm the promises made to the fathers. The covenant, is in fact carried into effect by his agency, in the ingathering of the Gentiles. God saw it wise that the public seal, circumcision, should be appended to the covenant, and put upon all the visible subjects of it, during that long period which went before Christ.--What reason can be given why a seal, equivalent with it, should not be appended to it, and applied to all the visible subjeéts of it, during the whole time it is pub. lished to the world, and the promises of it are fulfilling ? Is not God's condescension to his people's circumstan, ces and wants, as great as before ? Do not his people, under the Gospel day, need confirmations of his grace, as much as those did who lived under the former dispensation'? Must not a public symbol of initiation in to the covenant, be of as great utility, in the instruc. tions it administers, and the testimony it impressively bears, to unbelievers, under the latter, as under the former dispensation ? Is the fatness of the olive tree diminished, since Jesus has been glorified, the Gospel more extensively preached, and the Spirit given in more plentiful effusions? It has pleased God to per. petuate, under new modifications, the other signs of his covenant. And is it to be supposed that this,
which was the most significant of its nature, and which had a distinct design, not expressed by the others, is withdrawn, without leaving any thing of equiv. alent import in its stead ? Let us besides look directly at baptism itself. What is baptism? Is it a mere ceremony ? No. It would be impious to call it so.Has it any spiritual meaning ?. Most undoubtedly. “ He who believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved : But he who believeth not, and (implicitly) is not baptized, shall be damned. Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Baptism indicates very much indeed ; all that circumcision ever indicated. It denotes a spiritual indissoluble union to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is spoken of by one Apostle, as saving: I. Peter iii. 21. • The ļike figure whereunto, even baptism doth now saye 4s.” In this important respect, it has the same character, which is given by Paul to circumcision. Romans ii. 25. “ For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law."profiteth, How? Certainly unto salvation.
By the passage quoted from St. Peter, we are taught, that baptism is a figure. Of what is it a figure, or symbol ? It is conceded on all hands, that it is a symbol of internal cleansing from sin ; or of rising to newness of life. But this is exactly the same with becoming a recipient of the covenant. And this is the same with becoming a subject of membership in Christ, being united to the true Israel, or graffed into the olive tree. And such certainly the scripture teach, es us that it is. Says Peter, Acts X. 47. “ Çan any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we ?':And in the passage of his Epistle, just quoted, “ Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh; but the an. swer of a good conscience towards God.” And says Paul.“ Know ye not that so many of us as are baptized into Jesus Christ, have put on Christ ?" Here membership in Christ is expressly brought into view as sig. mified by baptism. But Christ is eminently the sced, Those who are in him, are so in fulfilment of the prom. ises made unto the fathers. They are all covenant cor. relates with him. “ He who sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one.” Then baptism is precisely equivalent with circumcision, save that it has not its typical signification. The scriptures exhibit them as parallel. Is circumcision “ that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the flesh ?” So is baptism, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh; but the answer of a good conscience towards God." Are christians baptized into Christ, so that they may properly be called the baptized ? They are also " the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, having no confidence in the flesh.” Were proselytes to the covenant, under the former dispensation, circumcised, in token of their proselytism ? So proselytes to the coveriant under the present dispensation, are to be; and by all denominations, the quakers excepted, are, in fact, baptized in token of the same thing. Were the circumcised deemed clean, in distinction from the uncircumcised world, who were deemed unclean ? So christians, who are baptized, are said to be "washed.” As certain then, as one is a token of the covenant, or a seal of the righteousness of faith ; so, though not thus expressly denominated, is the other ; and the latter is, to all intents and purposes, a substitute for the former. The passage,
Colossians ii. 12, 13, commonly introduced in support of the truth now advocated, and too much to the purpose to be overseen by an at. tentive enquirer, must here, as additional evidence, be carefully noticed. “In whom also (speaking to Gentile christians) ye are circumcised, with the circumcis. ion, made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are also risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God.” Some Pædobaptists, and those very learned men, have contended, that, by the circumcision of Christ here, the apostle means water baptism. It cannot perhaps be demonstrated, that this is, or that it is not the thing intended. On the supposition that it is, then we have here baptism expressly determined to be christian circumcision. On the supposition that it is not, the ev: idence is scarcely less conclusive, Let it be conced. ed, that the apostle is here treating of the sanctification of the heart. What will follow? If, by the circumcision of Christ, in the 12th verse, be meant sanctificationi of heart ; then by baptism, in the 19th verse, must certainly be meant the same thing. For this verse is not the assumption of an entirely new subject. It is a continuity of the sentence, which closes at the end of the verse, and therefore respects the same subject. He tells these Colossians, that they had risen with Christ in baptism. Now, if the subject is the same, and if to put off the body of the sins of the flesh, and to rise with Christ though the faith, which is of the operation of God, be the same thing ; which it is presumed no body will dispute ; then circumcision and baptism are used as of exactly equivalent import. Then who can doubt that the one is in the place of the other ?
It has been sometimes objected to this idea, that if this were the case, the church in Jerusalem might have given a ready reply to the Antiochian christians. They might have told them at once, that baptism was substituted for circumcision, and therefore circumcision was no longer obligatory. To this I reply, that such was precisely the answer that the Jerusalem Church sent back, though not in so many words. These christians had been baptized. They are told, that after this was done, circumcision is not necessary. Baptism, under the christian dispensation, is of equivalent import with, and therefore supercedes the necessity of circumci: sion.
It has been also asked, If baptism be in the place of circumcision, why is it not confined to males, and administered on the eighth day, as circumcision was ? Å
This question goes upon the supposition, that, in or. der that one institution may be a substitute for another, they must be similar in circumstantial things ; than