Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

supposition that it was the design of the ordinance to represent the burial and resurrection of the Saviour, has no scriptural evidence for its support. There is not the faintest allusion to such a design in any of the

passages where the rite of baptism is mentioned, in any part of the New Testament. The Jewish baptisms, and the baptism of John, were simply rites of purification. The rite of Christian baptism was intended to be, in like manner, an emblem of spiritual purification, and an expression of trust and devotedness to him who purifies the soul. Nothing can be more incongruous than the supposition, that the symbol of spiritual purification should be also the representative of a corporeal burial. 4. This resemblance would afford but a very feeble support to the reasoning of the apostle. We are not to continue in sin, and why? Because the form of the ceremony by which men are introduced to Christianity is imagined to resemble the burial of the body of Christ; and they, whose bodies are immersed in water, in imitation of the entombment of his body in the side of a rock, are supposed to promise a spiritual, when observing a corporeal correspondence to the burial of Jesus. But no mention is made in the scriptures, either of the supposed resemblance between baptism and burial, or of the supposed promise of spiritual conformity to the burial of Christ. This reasoning is most involved, obscure, and unsatisfactory. If there were any reference to external baptism, it is more likely that the design of this symbolical ordinance should be referred to than its mode. The plain and well known fact, that submission to Christ's holy precepts was implied in the reception in his name of baptism with water, would be an argument which, though not strictly appropriate, would be much more valid than that afforded by the slight and unmentioned resemblance, thought to exist, between the placing of a dead body in the cave of a rock, and the depression of a living body in a pool of water. If there be any reference in this passage to baptism with water, the meaning and not the mode of the rite must be that which is referred to. But there is nothing in the associated words or phrases, nothing in the subject or scope of the apostle's reasoning, to favour the supposition that Bantićw means to dip, or that baptism was a symbol of the burial of Christ, or that the baptized were dipped, or that any allusion is made to the mode of baptism, or that there is any reference to baptism with water. But from all these sources of evidence we derive proof, that the baptism spoken of, is the purification of the soul, and that Bantitw means to purify.*

IV. “Being united to him, ye are circumcised by a circumcision not effected with the hand, by putting off all sensual propensities, by the circumcision of Christ, being buried with him by the purification, by

*“We are to be purified (kaðapla daval) not only from all transgression and sin, but from all bodily and mental deflement (μολυσμού σαρκός και πνεύματος;) and then being baptized for the death of the Lord, to be brought into a resemblance to his death, which consists in being dead to sin, to self, and to the world.” Basil, de Bap. tom. i. p. 653, 1.

which also ye have risen, through trusting to the power of God who raised him from the dead.” Col. ii. 11.

This passage resembles the preceding, and a similar process of investigation will lead us here to the same conclusion, The term βάπτισμα stands alone, in the condition which suits the sense purification, and agrees with the frequent construction of words denoting such an effect ; but this condition does not suit the sense of dipping, and does not accord with the construction common to words designating a mode of action.

On looking to the context, we find that what is named a baptism is also styled, 1. A circumcision not effected with the hand; i.e. a spiritual circumcision, i.e. a spiritual purification; 2. A putting off all sensual propensities ; 3. The circumcision of Christ; 4. The burial of baptism is one from which we arise by trusting to God. The close connexion and correspondence of the several clauses of ver. 11 and 12, make it evident that they refer to the same subject, and that this subject is the purification of the soul. The circumcision not effected with the hand, is a spiritual purification ; the putting off all sensual propensities, is a spiritual purification; the circumcision of Christ, is a spiritual purification ; and as in this purification the Christian becomes dead to sin, and is as it were buried with Christ, so also does he rise by faith to a life of holiness. If the burial with Christ in baptism corresponds to the spiritual and Christian purification before mentioned, it cannot be immersion in water. If from this burial the Christian is raised by faith, it cannot be an immersion in water. It is scarcely possible for any context more clearly to indicate the spiritual nature of the subject to which the word Bártloua is applied. But the spiritual circumcision, the putting off sensual propensities, could not be designated a dipping or overwhelming. The most proper designation would be purification; and this we conclude to be the meaning of Bártioua.

The design of these statements is evident from ver. 8. The Colossians, like many other Christian churches, both of the first and of later ages, were in danger, through an improper deference to the traditions of men, of supposing that Christianity would be improved by adding to it the ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation. These ceremonies, originally intended to be simply exhibitions of truth, and means of moral improvement, had been perverted by the Jews, and were now regarded by them as possessing intrinsic worth, and as a task work, for which recompense might justly be expected. It was on this account that the introduction of circumcision and other Jewish rites was so earnestly opposed, and so solemnly condemned, by St. Paul. As understood by the proselyting Jewe, these corporeal ordinances were inconsistent with the nature of Christianity, as a spiritual system, and a dispensation of mercy. The exhortation given in the 8th ver. is, “ Take heed, lest any make you

their prey, through a philosophy and empty sophistry, agreeing with the traditions of men and the elementary instruction of the world, but not with

Christ.” To support this, the apostle refers to the divinity of the Lord Jesus: " In his person all the perfections of the Deity resided;" and to the complete salvation he imparted: "Ye obtain all things by union to him, who is supreme over all dignity and authority.” He then mentions the blessings bestowed, the perfection of which made useless all additions from the former economy. Why should they receive, in obedience to the Mosaic law, the circumcision of the body, who received, by trust in Christ, the circumcision not made with the hand, the purification of the soul? By this purification they were not only freed from sin, but also from subjection to that elementary instruction, which consisted of ordinances for corporeal service. ver. 20. And by this purification they were raised, not only from the service of sin to the service of God, but also from the service which consisted in obeying such precepts as “touch not,” “taste not,” “handle not,” to the spiritual service of living in accordance with the example of the Lord Jesus. ver. 21. iv. 10. Το suppose that the apostle exhorts the Colossians not to receive the rite of circumcision, because they had received the rite of baptism, is not only inconsistent with the language of the passage, but is utterly opposed to the whole tenor of the apostle's feasoning.

V. “Such as are purified for Christ, put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. iii. 27.

To put on Christ is a figure denoting the reception of his doctrines, his principles, and temper by his followers ; so that their character bears a resemblance to his. The phrases " to put on Plato,” and “to put on Pythagoras,"occur in the classics, and denote the reception by their followers of the doctrines and principles of these philosophers. In the Epistle to the Romans, xii. 14, the phrase “ Put on the Lord Jesus," denotes obedience to his precepts, and an imitation of his example. “To put on the new man,” is a phrase used in the Epistle to the Ephesians, iv. 24, and in the Epistle to the Colossians, iï. 10, to denote the possession of that new character, those holy dispositions of mind, by which the Christian is to resemble his God and Saviour. As no reference is made in any of these passages to a change of clothes, there can be no reason in the form of the expression for supposing, that here any allusion is made to the putting on and putting off garments.

To ascertain who are designated by the first clause of the 27th verse, we have merely to consider what is asserted of them in the second. “They who are baptized for Christ put on Christ.” This cannot be affirmed of all who receive the ritual baptism; it can be affimed only of those who receive the spiritual baptism of Christianity. It cannot truly be said, Such as are dipped for Christ are put on Christ. It can be said with truth, Such as are purified for Christ put'on Christ. The latter, therefore, and not the former, must be the signification of the passage. If it be said that they did so in profession, if not in practice, it may be replied, that this is not the natural interpretation of the passage; that it would make the statement of the apostle less relevant; and moreover, that it would not be correct. The tenour of the passage renders it clear, that the putting on Christ, is more than the acknowledgment of his divine mission. But this is all that appears to have been understood, as involved in the reception of the rite of baptism. To put on Christ, is to become a follower of Christ exclusively, to acknowledge him alone as Lord, to trust solely to him for salvation. It is something quite inconsistent with that mingling of Judaism with Christianity, which the apostle is here opposing. Now the discontinuance of the Mosaic ritual, for Jew as well as Gentile, was not taught by the apostles to all who were baptized with water. This was a lesson gradually learnt by those only, who being taught, and purified by the Spirit, were thus consecrated to Christ alone.

VI. “ There is one body and one Spirit, as ye are called with one hope belonging to your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one purification ; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and among all, and in us all.” εις Κύριος, μία πίστις, έν βάπτισμα. Ephes. iv. 6.

The train of ideas in this passage is obviously more consistent, if we suppose, that the purification of the soul is meant, by baptism, and not the dipping of the body; all the subjects mentioned will then be spiritual in their nature. The reception of the same spiritual purification, is a much stronger plea for Christian unity, than the observance of the same outward rite. There is no reference in the context to water: but the gift of the Holy Spirit is mentioned, as designed to secure the union and perfection of all Christians. Every consideration favours the conclusion, that the passage means, One Lord, one faith, one purification :" and not, “One Lord, one faith, one dipping.”

VII. “For even Christ once suffered for sins, the good on behalf of the wicked, to bring us near to God; being put to death in his body, but still living in his spirit. (In which also he preached to the spirits in prison; who were disobedient at the time, when in the days of Noah the forbearance of God waited while the ark was prepared, into which a few persons were brought, viz. eight, and borne safe through the water.) So also a purification corresponding thereto, now saves us, (not the putting away bodily defilement, but the pursuit of a good conscience in reference to God,) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” o και ημάς αντίτυπον νυν σώζει βάπτισμα. 1 Ρet. iii. 18-22.*

* “Since our nature is twofold, consisting of soul and body, the one visible, the other invisible; so is our purifying twofold, (kábapois,) by water, and by the Spirit; the one being received visibly and corporeally; the other, which is associated therewith, being incorporeal and invisible; the one typical, the other real, and purifying most deeply.” (Báơn KawaipovTos.) Greg. Naz. Orat. 40. “ There is a twofold baptism, one apprehended by the senses, (alo Ontov,) through

the other apprehended by the reason, (vontbv,) through the Holy Spirit." Excerpta ex Theodoti Script. p. 800.

water ;

[blocks in formation]

To ascertain the nature of the baptism here mentioned, the following particulars should be observed. 1. It is said to save men. 2. It is expressly declared to be spiritual, and not corporeal,- to belong to the mind, and not to the body. 3. It is described as a spiritual purification, being, not the putting away of bodily defilement.-which would be a purification of the body; but the seeking to have a good conscience, which is a purification of the soul. 4. It depends, either for its existence or its efficacy, on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 5. It corresponds to what is before mentioned, the death as well as the resurrection of Christ. All these particulars coincide with the conclusions, that Bántioua denotes a purification ; and that it is used for the purification of the soul : but they are all opposed to the suppositions, that Bantuoka means a dipping or overwhelming; and that reference is made to the mode, or to any thing pertaining to the rite of baptism.

Men are not saved by being dipped in water: they are saved by being purified from sin. A purification in water is a putting away bodily defilement ; and it is not the pursuit of a good conscience : but the purification of the soul is not the putting away bodily defilement; and it is the pursuit of a good conscience. The bodies of men are not dipped through the resurrection of Jesus Christ : but their souls are purified and saved through his resurrection. The death of Christ in the body, and his eternal spiritual life, have no resemblance to the depression of a body under water, and its elevation from the water : but they do resemble the death of the Christian to the world, by the crucifixion of sensual and sinful propensities; and his new life in those exercises and enjoyments which are spiritual and holy. The crucifixion, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Christian, are exhibited in the Epistle to the Romans, as the antitype of the crucifixion, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. They are the effects, which the knowledge of our Lord produces on the minds of his followers ; the impress of his character left upon them, by which they are made to bear his image.

The supposition that baptism is a figure of the deluge, or the deluge a figure of baptism, is most strange and incongruous. The resemblance between the flood, and the immersion of a person in water, is of the slightest possible kind. There was water in the flood, and there is water in baptism; and here the resemblance ends. It can hardly be pretended that they are like, in respect to the quantity of water employed ; and the manner in which the water was used, and the ends for which it was used at the flood, are in direct opposition to the manner in which it is used, and the end for which it is used, in baptism by dipping. The water came to men in the flood; men go to the water where they are dipped. Noah and his family were not dipped into the waters of the deluge; but it is imagined that Christians are dipped into water at baptism. Noah went into the ark that he might not be immersed ; we are told that we must be immersed, in order that we

« AnteriorContinuar »