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most moment, we select Colos-cumcision in the flesh was a sign of sians ii. 11, 12. as affording matt circumcision without hands, i. e. ter for preliminary remarks ne- putting off the body of the sins of cessary to be made in illustration the flesh. Here also we learn, and defence of infant baptism. that baptison signifies a burial The apostle, in the 8th verse of with Christ, and a rising with this chapter, begins the polemic Christ, through faith of the operaor controversial part of the epis- tion of God. The thing signified by tle. He cautions the Colossian both rites is thus identified. For believers against Pagan philoso- the putting of the body of the sins phy on the one hand, and Jewish of the flesh, is precisely of the prejudices on the other. He as- same import with buried with sures them that they are com- Christ, and risen with him. To plete in Christ, who is the head be buried with Christ in baptism of all principality and power; has by some been considered an and therefore have no need of allusion to the mode of adminisany additions to his religion from tering baptism by immersion. “ [t any quarter, or on any pretence. is however plain,” says Dr. Evans, Then follows the passage to " that it is not the sign, (i. e. bapwhich we have referred, where-tism) but the thing signified in in the apostle refutes the ob- baptism, which the apostle calls jection which a Judaizing teacher being buried with Christ.' And might make against his position. the expression of hurying alludes “ You say,” we adopt now the to Christ's burial. As Christ was language of such a teacher ad- buried that he might rise to a dressing the apostle, “ You say, new and heavenly life, so we are that Christians are complete in in baptism buried, i. e. cut off Christ; but you are deceived, from the life of sin (being dead to and do deceive others. They it) that we may rise again to a are not complete, or perfect, for new life in faith and love." This they are not circumcised ; and mode of expression then is equiwithout circumcision they cannot valent to being crucified with be accounted the Lord's people, Christ and dead with Christ, and nor received into the covenant in this connexion stands opposed which God made with Abraham to ver. 13, “ being dead in your and his seed after him.” Nay, re- sins, and the uncircumsion of your plies the apostle, it is not so ; for flesh.” Surely, therefore, no in bim, i. e. Christ, Christians candid man can or will deny, that are circumcised with the circum- to be buried with Christ means cision made without hands, in put- the same as to put off the body of ting off the body of the sins of the the sins of the flesh. Thus the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; apostle identifies baptism and cirburied with him in baptism, where-cumcision, by showing that they in also ye are risen with him through have one and the same use and the faith of the operation of God, meaning.
“ But as the same who hath raised him from the thing cannot subsist in different dead.
forms at the same time, and as A few remarks, explanatory of the first form, i. e. circumcision, these words, are necessary. Here is laid aside, it follows, that the the apostle teaches us that cir-l seal of God's covenant is per
petuated under the second form, circumcision, i. e. a new heart and i. e. baptism ; and that it signifies a sanctified nature, here called the and seals in a manner suited to putting off the body of the sins of the evangelical dispensation what the flesh, and therefore needed ever was previously signified and not that sign; and, lest they sealed by the rite of circum-should object that Abraham had cision."* Hence the apostle calls, this thing signified before his cirin this place, baptism the circum- cumcision, and therefore accordcision of Christ, i. e. Christian ing to God's ordinance the sign circumcision. For he says, “ Ye was still necessary, be declares are circumcised with the circum- that there is a sign instituted by cision made without hands" - by Christ, which is his circumcision the circumcision of Christ. What - and that this sign is baptism. is this? He tells us directly, Since then we are here plainly buried with him in baptism, and taught that baptism is to Christian raised with him in newness of believers what circumcision was life-this is the circumcision of to Jewish believers ; since any Cbrist. Jewish circumcision was other conclusion would involve no institution of Christ for the the whole reasoning of the aposgospel Church. In its place tle in impenetrable obscurity, we Christ instituted baptism for a tou do not hesitate to lay down this ken of the covenant between God direct and plain position, that and his Church. It is impossible “ the circumcision of Christ,” or to give any satisfactory reason for that circumcision of which he the interchange of the names cir- was the institutor, is baptism, in cumcision and baptism, and for the name of the Father, and of the perfect identity of the things the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. signified by both, if they were Let us then inquire into the not to serve the same end, the nature, the design, and the subone superceding the other by di-jects of circumcision. The con vine appointment. On no other sideration of these particulars principle than the identity of will afford additional evidence of these two rites can we see the the correctness of our position, force or meaning of the apostle's and at the same time strikingly argument. The reader will re- illustrate the nature, the design, collect, that he is speaking of and the subjects of Christian bapcompleteness or perfection in tism. Christ, independent of vain phi- The first mention of circumlosophy and of Jewish prejudices. cision we find in Gen. xvii. 1--14. As his chief contest was with the “ And when Abram was ninety latter--for every part of his epis- years old and nine, the Lord aptles show us how the Judaizing peared to Abram, and said unto teachers sought to destroy the sim- him, I am the Almighty God : pticity of truth—50 here he an-walk before me, and be thou perswers their great objection arising fect. And I will make my covefrom their favourite rite, circum- nant between me and thee, and cision. He maintains that Chris- will multiply thee exceedingly, tians have the thing signified by And Abram fell on his face : and
God talked with him, saying, As Christian's Magazine, vol. I. p. 394. for me, behold, my covenant is
with thee, and thou shalt be a theories than soberly to investifather of many nations. Neither gate plain matter of fact, have shall thy name any more be called maintained that this rite of cir. Abram, but thy name shall be cumcision was borrowed from the Abraham ; for a father of many heathen nations. There is, how. nations have I made thee. And I ever, no doubt, that these latter will make thee exceeding fruit-borrowed the practice from the ful, and I will make nations of descendants of Abraham. The thee, and kings shall come out of rite itself, like sacrifices, is posithee. And I will establish my tive and significant. God, in the covenant between me and thee, passage just quoted, calls it a and thy seed after thee, in their token of the covenant between generations, for an everlasting him and Abraham ; and the apos, covenant, to be a God unto thee, tle, Rom. iv. 11. calls it a sign and to thy seed after thee. And and seal of the righteousness of I will give unto thee, and to thy the faith which Abram had, being seed after thee, the land wherein yet uncircumcised. What then, thou art a stranger, all the land we ask, was this covenant, of of Canaan, for an everlasting which circumcision was a token? possession ; and I will be their The answer to this question will God. And God said unto Abra- explain the righteousness of faith, ham, Thou shalt keep my cove- of which the apostle says circumnapt therefore, thou, and thy seed cision was a seal. This covenant, after thee, in their generations. commonly called the Abrahamic This is my covenant, which ye covenant, is a subject of much shall keep between me and you, controversy aniong Christians. and thy seed after thee ; Every On a correct view of its nature, man-child among you shall be a variety of important particulars circumcised. And ye shall cir- are dependent and more especumcise the flesh of your fore- cially is such a view indispensably skin ; and it shall be a token of necessary for a right understand. the covenant betwixt me and you. ing of baptism. And he that is eight days old shall A covenant is the mutual stipu. be circumcised among you, every lation of two parties, opon certain mao-child in your generations ; conditions, with promises sushe that is born in the house, or pended on the fulbiment of these bought with money of any stran- conditions. In a covenant it is ger, which is not of thy seed. pecessary that both the parties be He that is born in thy house, and able to fulfil the conditions. But, he that is bought with thy money, though able to fulfil these condi. must needs be circumcised : and tions, one of the parties may be my covenant shall be in your in a state of dependence upon the flesh for an everlasting covenant. other, prior to the covenant, so And the uncircumcised man-child, that he is under an obligation to whose flesh of bis foreskin is not perform the very things about circumcised, that soul shall be cut which they have made the coveoff from his people; he hath pant. Such a state of dependence broken my covenant.” Learned does not militate against the form. men, more disposed to display ation of a real covenant. The their ingenuity by inventing superior has a moral right to dic. Vol. II....No. 4.
tate any terms in a covenant that strains us to consider the transache thinks proper, and the inferior tion between God and Christ as must receive them. This gives both a covenant and a testament. it, in the first instance, the nature To him it was a covenant; for to of a law, binding the other party him the Father promised a seed, to receive and observe it. When on condition of his dying for them, a promise of some good, not and redeeming them from the otherwise attainable, is annexed curse. To them it cannot be a by the superior to the perform-covenant in any sense, for they are ance of the obedience prescribed, not able to fulfil the conditions of and the inferior freely accedes to eternal life. God can make no the terms, for the purpose of ob- compact or agreement with them taining the promise, it assumes as a party. The transaction bethe nature of a covenant. Thus tween God and Christ to them is a father may covenant with his a testament. God graciously inchild, and a prioce with his sub- tended to convey the blessings of ject, each promising a certain the heavenly inheritance to such benefit, on condition that certain as he chose in Christ to be heirs duties are performed. Of this of it, and made a grant in their kind was the covenant between favour to the Son, as their repreGod and Adam. Adam was able sentative bead, authorizing him, to fulfil the conditions which God on the condition already menrequired, because he was made tioned, to transfer it to them. He upright-but these conditions he performed the condition, rewas, previous to God's promise, deemed the forfeited inheritance, bound to perform on account of and acquired a full right to conhis dependent nature. The cove- vey it to his people. Thus he nant of grace is of a very different teaches us himself, Luke xxii. kind. It was made with Christ, “ I appoint unto you a kingdom, as the second Adam. He was not as my Father hath appointed unto under any obligation prior to his me: that ye may eat and drink at own voluntary engagement-for my table in my kingdom.” The he is “the man that is Jehovah's deed of the Father was federal fellow.” By this covenant he that of Christ testamentary. The was constituted head of the elect ; death of Christ, as a surety, sealed all the concerns of their salvation the covenant, being a fulfilment were put in bis band ; and all the of its condition : his death, as tespromises were made to him. tator, ratified the promises in that Some of these promises belong to covenant which related to the him exclusively, such as promises elect, in virtue of which they asof direction, aid, and encourage-'sumed a testamentary form. In ment in bis work-of being made this way it appears to us we must heir of all things ; of a numerous understand the fourth section of seed-an everlasting kingdom, the seventh chapter of the Conand“ a name above every name.", fession of Faith of the Presby. Others are made to him concern- terian Church, where it is said, ing his elect, for all the promises “ This covenant of grace is fremade to them are in him yea, quently set forth in Scripture by and in bim Amen. This two- the name of a testament, in refer. fold view of the promises con-ence to the death of Jesus Christ,
the testator, and to the everlasting is the literal rendering of the inheritance, with all things be- word. But who is the purifier ? longing to it, therein bequeathed.” and what is meant by cutting him This distinction between cove-off? The purifier is the Lord Jenaot and testament also throws sus, who was promised as the Seed light upon many parts of Scrip- of the woman to bruise the serture. As a covenant, we see, in pent's head. His great work is to this transaction between God and remove or destroy sin which is Christ, in what way all the bless- the moral defilement or impurity ings of salvation are secured
of our race. He was to be cut not by the elect, but by their off, as we are told in Daniel, in surety. As a testament, we see due time, for the serpent was to the riches of divine grace display- bruise the heel of the seed; but ed, in conveying these blessings this cutting off was not for himto them.
self, it was to finish transgression Having made these remarks on and make an end of sin. Hence, the nature of a covenant, and es- we are assured his blood cleanses pecially on the nature of the co- from all sin. Of this cutting off venants of works and grace, it of the purifier, this slaying of the remains for to determine seed of the woman, sacrifices of wbether the transaction of God brute victims were appointed with Abraham was a covenant or the standing memorials and types. a testament. Assuredly it was not Having ascertained the meaning a covenant, the explanation al- of the words cutting off and coready given be correct--for venant separately, it is necessary Abram was not able to fulfil the to see what is meant when it is conditions of a covenant. Our said, “ The Lord cut of the puritranslation however calls this fier," with Abraham. He did not transaction a covenant, in the cut him off in fact, but he did in chapter already quoted, and also the word of the promise, typified in Gen. xv. 18. where it is said, by the sacrifice of brute beasts, “the Lord made a covenant with which he commanded Abraham Abraham." The original of to offer. Between the pieces of " made a covenant” is, literally the victims sacrificed, " A smoktranslated, “cut off a covenant.” ing furnace and a burning lamp,” This cannot refer to the sacri- symbols of Jehovah's presence, fice of animals as a sanction of a passed, and in the passage concovenant, for then the expression sumed them: thus cutting off the would be, “cut off the victim ;" typical purifier and by this sobut the “cutting off' refers to lemn act promising that the porithe covenant itself. What then fier should in due time be slain to is the meaning of the original of purchase saving benefits, and covenant, no3? In answer we bless the nations. But in God's observe, that their opinion who transaction with his friend Abratranslate it by the word purifier, ham, there is something more than appears to be most correct, the a mere promise included. The least liable to difficulties, and most original covenant was made with agreeable to the great design of Christ, and is exbibited and disthe revelation of God's mercy. pensed to us, as has been observCutting off, or slaying the purifier, led, by promises. These were