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OUR SAVIOUR'S BAPTISM.
MATT. iii. 13-17.
13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
NEITHER of the histories of our Saviour gives any account of his childhood, and early youth, except that Luke relates one circumstance respecting his visiting Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary, when he was twelve years old. From that account we learn that he was capable of instructing the learned men in the temple, that he loved the duties of religion at that age, and that he was obedient to Joseph and Mary. The period between our Saviour's birth and his baptism, of which we have an account in the verses above, was about thirty years. All that time we have now passed over, and as you read this chapter, you must not think of Jesus as a babe in the arms of Mary, but as of a man about the age of thirty years. In the thirteenth verse we are told that Jesus came to John to be baptized of him. John was a very pious man, whom God sent to prepare the way for his Son; that is to tell the people Jesus was coming,
and exhort them to repent, baptize the penitents, and prepare them to receive him. He was so much devoted to the service of God, that some thought he was the Saviour; but he told them distinctly that he was not, but that Jesus was so much better than he, that he "was not worthy to bear his shoes." By this he meant that he was not worthy to be a waiter or servant for the Saviour. From the fourteenth verse we learn that John was surprised that Jesus should come to be baptized by him, and at first he did not consent, but said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Jesus answered, "suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.' As if he had said to John, "The circumstances are such now that it is proper I should be baptized by you. I have come into the world to obey all my Father's commands, and to set a perfect example for my followers." These reasons satisfied John, and "he suffered him," that is, he consented to baptize him.
It may be, my young friends, that you have seen persons baptized in a font, or stream, or at the margin of the sea. Perhaps you have stood on a verdant bank, while a soft breeze was playing over the scene, and all nature was lovely around you; and as you listened, the voice of prayer was heard ascending from beside the still waters; and while the people were all solemn and thoughtful around you, the minister led a person slowly down into the water, and laid him gently beneath the waves, and then raised him up as he pronounced, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost!" This you know was
called a baptism. But did you think it was a ceremony which had no meaning, and one which we might attend to, or omit, just as we pleased? Far from this. Jesus said it became HIM "to fulfil all righteousness;" and it is the duty and pleasure of all who love him, to follow his example, and obey all his commands.
We understand from the Scriptures, that our Saviour appointed this ordinance for all his followers to observe in all ages unto the end of the world. He was baptized himself to set an example for all christians to follow, and, besides this, baptism, that is being buried under water and raised up, was designed to show forth our death to sin, and resurrection to a new life, and to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on our behalf. In speaking of his own death, Jesus says, "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." Christians are baptized in obedience to the command of Christ; but he did not command them to do a thing which had no use or meaning. All persons who are baptized show by that act to all who know them that they intend to forsake the world, and join the christian church, and endeavor to live always as the religion of Jesus requires. They show also, by having their "bodies washed in pure water," that their sins are washed away in the blood of Christ; that is, are forgiven, because Jesus has suffered and died for sinners, and now that God has shown them the wickedness of their hearts, and taught them to hate sin, they hope to be saved from the punishment they deserved through his mercy in Christ Jesus. They show also that they
trust in Jesus to raise up their bodies from the grave, even though they have mouldered back to dust, just as they are now raised up from the liquid grave in which they have been buried by baptism.
I hope my reader realizes that it is a very solemn thing to be baptized. It is promising to the world, to angels, and to the great and holy God, that we will no longer live to ourselves, but "to him who hath loved us and given himself for us." No one should be baptized but such persons as truly believe in Jesus Christ, love him as their Saviour, depend wholly on his grace, and resolve by the help of God they will obey all his commands, join the church, and follow Christ. It is a very solemn thing to witness a baptism. When you stand by the water's side let your mind be sober and attentive. Listen thoughtfully to the prayers and singing, and look on the ordinance not only to see the candidate laid beneath the wave, but to think of the Saviour's love for sinners, and to think of that blessed hope which all enjoy who trust in him—the hope that they will be raised up from the grave, and taken to heaven to live forever with the Lord.
We learn from the sixteenth verse that when Jesus was baptized, as he was going up out of the water, "the heavens were opened unto him," and he, that is John, "saw the Spirit of God descending like the appearance of a dove and lighting upon Jesus." In the seventeenth we are told that a voice from heaven was heard saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Although our Saviour's baptism was in many circumstances like those which you and I have witnessed-in this it
was far different. No other baptism has been like this; none can ever be like it, for God will not say of any other person, "This is my beloved Son."
In this wonderful manner did God make known to John, and to the people, that his Son, whom he had long since promised to send, had now come into the world to be a Saviour for sinners.
THE PREACHING OF JESUS CHRIST.
MATT. iv. 17.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
I AM now about to study with you, the preaching and the works of Jesus Christ, of whose birth and baptism you have been reading. If I do not understand the Bible myself, I cannot explain it to you. If I teach you that which is false, I must give account of it in the day of judgment. I therefore ask in prayer that my heavenly Father will teach me, that I may teach you. I therefore study the Bible with great care; and besides I read the books which good men have written about the Bible, that I may not give you one idea which I do not think is right, or which your pious friends will not
Now let us attend to the preaching of our Saviour. To preach, you know, is to speak in public; therefore we understand from the passage above that the time had now come when Jesus