Графични страници
PDF файл

which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels and tables; to whom and to the multitude the Lord said, Hearken unto Me every one of you, and understand; there is nothing from without a man, that entering into him, can defile him, but the things which come out of him, those are they which defile the man,” Mark vii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 15.

672. What man of sound reason cannot discern, that the washing of the face, of the hands and feet, and of all the limbs, nay of the whole body in a bath, effects nothing more than to wash away the dirt, so that the outward form may appear clean in the sight of men? and who cannot understand, that it is impossible for any such washing to enter into the spirit of man, and in like manner render that clean? for a thief, a robber, or an assassin have it in their power to wash themselves, even till their skin shine; but will that wash away their thievish, pillaging, and murderous disposition? Does not the internal enter by influx into the external, and operate the effects of its will and understanding? and is not this agreeable to nature, because it is agreeable to order? But for the external to enter by influx into the internal is utterly impossible, being contrary to nature, because it is contrary to order.

673. Hence it follows, that washings, and baptism also, unless the internal of man be purified from evils and falses, are of no more avail than the washing of cups and platters by the Jews, or than the whitening of the sepulchres mentioned in the same passage, which "appear beautiful without, but within are full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness," Matt. xxiii. 25 to 28. This is further evident from this circumstance, that the hells are full of satans, who were once men, some baptized, and some not baptized. Baptism therefore, (the advantages of which will be seen presently), if it be without its uses and fruits, contributes no more towards salvation, than the triple cap on the pope's head, and

the sign of the cross on his shoes, contribute towards his pontifical super-eminence; nor than a cardinal's purple robe to his dignity; nor than a bishop's lawn sleeves to the discharge of his ministry; nor than a king's throne, crown, sceptre, and royal robes, to his regal power; nor than a a square cap on the head of a learned doctor to his intelligence; nor than the standard carried before a regiment of cavalry to their valour in battle; nay, it may be still further asserted, that a man can no more be purified by baptism alone, without its uses and fruits, than he could by the washing of a sheep or a lamb preparatory to its being shorn : for the natural man separate from the spiritual man is a mere animal, nay, as was shewn above, he is a fiercer and more savage beast than any that lives wild in the forest; so that supposing him to be washed with rain-water, with dew, with the streams of the purest fountains, or, according to the language of the prophets, to be cleansed with nitre, hyssop, or soap, every day, it would still be impossible to purify him from his iniquities, except by regeneration. But on this subject see the chapters on Repentance, and also on Reformation and Regeneration.


674. In the Christian world it is known, that there is an internal and an external man, and that the external is the same as the natural man, and the internal the same as the spiritual man, because his spirit is in it; and, as the church consists of men, it is further known, that there is both an internal and an external church; and if the succession of churches, from ancient times to the present, be inquired into, it will be seen, that former churches were external churches,

in other words, that their worship consisted in external rites, representing the internal principles of the Christian church, which was founded by the Lord during His abode in the world, and which is now beginning to be built up by Him. The primary rite which distinguished the Israelitish church from the other Asiatic churches, and afterwards from the Christian, was circumcision; and since, as just observed, all the ordinances of the Israelitish church, which were external, were figures of all things in the Christian church, which are internal, hence the primary sign of that church was inwardly similar to the sign of the Christian Church; for circumcision signified the rejection of the lusts of the flesh, and consequently purification from evils; and the same is also signified by baptism. Hence it is evident that baptism was instituted in lieu of circumcision, to the end both that the Christian church might be distinguished from the Jewish, and that it might be more readily known to be an internal church; and this is known by the uses of baptism, which will be described presently.

675. That circumcision was instituted as a sign that the members of the Israelitish church were of the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is plain from these words: "God said unto Abraham, this is My covenant which ye shall keep between Me and you, and thy seed after thee; every manchild among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt Me and you," Gen. xvii. 10, 11; which covenant, or its sign, was afterwards confirmed by Moses, Levit. xii. 1, 2, 3. And as that church was distinguished from all others by that sign, it was therefore enjoined, before the the children of Israel passed over Jordan, that they should again be circumcised, Josh. v: the reason was, because the land of Canaan represented the church, and the river Jordan introduction into it: and moreover, that they might remember that sign in the land of Canaan itself, this injunction was given : "When

ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised; three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you, and shall not be eaten," Levit. xix. 23. That circumcision represented and thence signified, in like manner as baptism, the rejection of the lusts of the flesh, and consequently purification from evils, is plain from those passages in the Word, where it is said, that they should circumcise the heart; as in the following: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked," Deut. x. 16: "Jehovah, thy God, will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live," chap. xxx. 6: and in Jeremiah: "Circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, that He may remove the foreskins of your hearts, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest My anger go forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings," chap. iv. 4: and in Paul: "In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcison, but faith working by love, and a new creature," Gal. v. 6, chap. vi. 15. From these passages it is now evident, that baptism was instituted in the place of circumcision, because the circumcision of the flesh represented the circumcision of the heart, which also signifies purification from evils; for evils of every kind arise from the flesh, and the foreskin signifies its polluted loves. Inasmuch as circumcision and the washing of baptism signify the same thing, it is therefore said in Jeremiah, "Circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, that he may remove the foreskins of your heart," chap. iv. 4; and a little after, "O, Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved," verse 14. What is meant by circumcision and washing the heart, the Lord teaches in Matthew, chap. xv. 18, 19.

676. There were formerly many among the children of Israel, and there are still many among the Jews, who sup

pose themselves elected in preference to all others, because they were circumcised; and many Christians entertain the same notion because they have been baptized; when nevertheless both circumcision and baptism are given only as a sign and memorial that the persons receiving them should be purified from evils, and so become elect or chosen. What is an external without an internal in man, but like a temple without worship, which is of no use, except possibly to serve for a stable? And further, what is an external without an internal, but like a field full of mere rushes and reeds, without any corn? or like a vineyard consisting of mere branches and leaves, without any grapes? or like a fig tree without its fruit, which the Lord cursed? Matt. xxi. 19; or like the lamps in the hands of the foolish virgins without oil? Matt. xxv. 3: nay, what is it but like a habitation in a mausoleum, where the ground is full of dead corpses, and bones are piled around the walls, while frightful spectres are seen flying beneath the roof? or like a carriage drawn by leopards, with a wolf sitting as coachman, and an ideot in the inside? For the external man is not a man, but only the figure of a man; it is the internal, which consists in wisdom from God, which constitutes the man the same is true of a circumcised and baptized person, unless he circumcise or wash his heart.


677. That baptism is an introduction into the Christian church, is plain from many circumstances, as from the following: I. That baptism was instituted in the place of circumcison, and that as circumcision was a sign that the persons circumcised were of the Israelitish church, so baptism is a sign that the persons baptized are of the Christian church, as was shewn in the preceding article: and a sign answers

« ПредишнаНапред »