THE ORDER AND CONNEXION OF CIRCUMCISION AND THE PASSOVER UNDER MOSES,

 

AND OF

 

IMMERSION AND OF THE LORD'S SUPPER UNDER CHRIST:

 

OR

 

THE UNION OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE CALLED FOR BY GOD.

 

BY R. GOVETT.

 

NORWICH:

FLETCHER AND SON, PRINTERS, DAVEY PLACE.

1896.

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In ĎThe Three Eatings,í the rites of joint-eating commanded to Israel and to the Church respectively, were alone treated of.But beside these united feasts, a preparatory rite was enjoined to individuals.This, together with its consequences, is the main point, which is treated of in the ensuing tract.

 

To Adam and his wife, God forbade, by a law, the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (or, Ďof right and wrong, morally consideredí).Eve trusted the word of Satan, against the law of the Most High.The effects of that sin abide to this day.That disobedience entailed on our first parents conscience, or the knowledge of right and wrong.The very possession of a conscience was and is, the sufficient ground of condemnation; for How was it obtained?This Jehovah brought out, when Adam excused himself for fleeing from the face of God, because he was naked."Who told thee that thou wast naked?Hast thou eaten of the tree?"Then came confession; and sentence was passed on the guilty; the sentence of trouble in life, of death, and corruption after death, till the body returned to the dust.Immediately after comes the driving of Adam and Eve from Paradise, nevermore to be entered by them or any of their posterity. Their eating thenceforth was to be with toil and sorrow.

 

Even in such forlorn circumstances are found some glimpses of mercy.Their clothing of fig-leaves, borrowed from the tree, is exchanged for the coats of skin, made for the culprits by the Lord.A hint of victory over Satan, who had deceived them, was given.From Eve, whom he had duped, would proceed One, who after suffering, should inflict eternal judgment on the deceiver.

 

After the Flood of wrath, Jehovah chooses Abraham; who, unlike Eve, "obeys His voice;" and God binds Himself by oath to fulfil to Abraham and to Isaac, the offered on the altar, all the promises that He had made.These promises referred (1) to the land He would give, and (2) to the two plural seeds which would be bestowed on Abraham.

 

1. The first of these were the sons of his flesh, or Israel.

 

2. The second, the sons of Abrahamís faith: or, Godís Assembly now gathering for the Great Day when He shall accomplish His millennial promises.

 

Let us look a moment at the unfolding of this His counsel.

 

Our first parents sinned by a forbidden joint-eating.

 

To His two people, redeemed from the sin and heritage of the first Adam, was commanded the celebration of the Passover; or the eating together of a lamb without blemish, on a fixed day of the year.

 

2. To "the Assembly of God" - that which is generally called Ďthe Churchí - is commanded the religious eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper together.

 

These feasts were, however, to be preceded by a distinct ceremony - enjoined on each of the two bodies, respectively.

 

1. To Abraham, Jehovah commanded, after his justification by faith, the observance of circumcision; and the patriarch at once obeyed - obeyed the same day.

 

When Moses is sent to enslaved Israel, to deliver them out of Egypt, the Passover was enjoined.And the Most High forbade any one to partake of the lamb of redemption, unless he were first circumcised.This was the only opening at which a foreigner could enter, and partake with his people Israel."For no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof:" Ex. 12: 48.It was to be distinctive of a people separated from the godless, disobedient nations of the earth.And those of Israel, who did not observe this rite of the redeemed, were to be excluded from the heritage of Israel. "The man that is clean, and is not on a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people:" Num. 9: 13.It was to be celebrated by the males of the nation in one spot - at Jerusalem, Jehovahís chosen city: Deut. 12.

 

2. So, too, before Godís Church or Assembly celebrated the Lordís Supper, a previous rite was required. "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"Then Peter said unto them: (1) "Repent, and (2) be immersed, every one of you, on the name (authority) of Jesus Christ, unto the forgiveness of sins.""Save yourselves from this crooked generation.""Then they that gladly received his word were immersed - and the same day were added about three thousand souls: Acts 2. (Greek).

 

2. Baptism was begun by John the Baptist, and received by our Lord, long before the Supper was appointed.

 

(1) Baptism, at His last interview with the eleven, is first, expressly and by name, commanded by the Redeemer; then comes the injunction to observe all other His commands."Go ye, therefore, disciple all the nations; immersing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you" Matt. 28: 19, 20.

 

(2) At Pentecost, baptism is commanded expressly, and is observed before the Supper. "Then they that gladly received his word were immersed." "And they continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine, and in the fellowship of the breaking of bread, and in the prayers." (The true reading.)

 

The tokens then of Godís new people of the Church, were to be first, (1) faith, or Repentance, and then (2) obedience to the injunction of the Most High.They were to show themselves sons of Abraham in these appointed ways, and unlike to the (1) unbelief, and consequent (2) disobedience, of Adam and Eve.Adamís disobedience brought on all his race the endowment of conscience, which condemns all.

 

The Second Adam, by his righteousness and obedience brought from heaven the gifts of the Holy Ghost, for all those that submitted to Him as their Lord."We are His witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him:" Acts 5: 32.

 

LET US NOW LOOK AT THE WAY IN WHICH JEHOVAH LED ABRAHAM OUT FROM ADAM, AND FROM THE NATIONS.

 

For Abraham, is, by Godís appointment, Father of the two people whom He owns.

 

Israel came out first from Adamís position, through their being sons of Abraham, and children of the covenant of circumcision. "The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, 'I am El Shaddai: walk before Me, and be perfect:"í ver. 1."Behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations:" ver. 4."I will establish My covenant between Me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant:" ver. 7. "Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou and thy seed after thee in their generations:" ver. 9."Every male among you shall be circumcised:" Gen. 17: 10.So they were to be known, as the chosen people of God, and heirs of the land of promise.Those not circumcised on the eighth day were to be cut off, as breakers of the covenant.

 

Circumcision was both a (1) sign and a (2) seal in the flesh.

 

(1) As it was a sign -

 

1. It was a confession, that evil existed in the flesh ever since the Fall; but that it was to be kept under by walking before El Shaddai.

 

2. It was a pledge to overcome the evil tendencies of the flesh. ĎLord, I will obey, though the flesh rises against it.'

 

(2) It was also a seal-

 

1. Of faith in Godís promise, to give to Abraham and to his seed, like the sand of earth, the land of Canaan.

 

2. It was attached to Abrahamís Seed as the redeemed out of Egypt.The abiding mark in the flesh bespoke Israel to be the nation of Godís choice.Love was to urge them to obey Jehovah.

 

3. It proclaimed, that they were, if obedient, to enter on the heritage promised to the fathers.

 

The earthly seed of Abraham, at Godís command, went down into Egypt.At Josephís death came in the hard slavery and murderous law, of the Pharaoh who afterwards arose.The oppressed nation groaned to God; and He raised up Moses to be their Deliverer.Moses wrought before the elders of Israel the three signs given him.The elders believed; and at once God gives command, that they shall be let go.Pharaoh proudly refuses; and Jehovah sends plague after plague, desolating the land.But none of them overpower the resistance of Pharaoh.God must send His judgment, cutting off the firstborn of Egypt.But if the Egyptians are smitten, how can Israel, who are sinners also, escape?

 

The Most High appoints a lamb to be slain.

 

(1) Its blood is a sacrifice offered to Himself, visible on the door: an appeal to Him to spare the guilty by the shedding of blood.ďFor without shedding of bloodĒ no forgiveness takes place: Heb. 9.

 

(2) Then the flesh of the atoning lamb is commanded to be eaten: giving strength to the people to march out of Egypt under the leading of Jehovah.

 

The appointment of the Passover looks back to the Sin of the Garden.

 

"And when the woman saw, that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eves, and a tree to be desired to make one wise - she TOOK of the fruit thereof and did EAT, and GAVE unto her husband with her, and he did EAT:" Gen. 3.

 

In consequence, God, in commanding the festival of the Passover, four times gives command to Israel to TAKE.

 

1. "They shall take to them every man a lamb" Ex. 12.

2. "Let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls."

3. "Ye shall take (your lamb) out from the sheep, or from the goats."

4. "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side-posts."

 

Then comes the command to EAT.

 

1. "The blood (was to be sprinkled) on the upper door-post of the houses wherein they shall eat it."

2, 3. "They shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs they shall eat it."

4. "Eat not of it raw:" verse 9.

5. "Thus shall ye eat it:" verse 11.

6. "Ye shall eat it in haste:" verse 11.

7. "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread :"verse 15.

8. "Whosoever eateth leavened bread-shall be cut off from Israel:" verse 15.

 

But I need not adduce more instances; twenty times does this word occur in chapters 12 and 13.

 

Let me give a rapid sketch of chapters 12. and 13.All Israel is to take a perfect lamb, and kill it between the evenings.They were to eat it after its roasting with fire, as those ready to depart.The rite was to be kept in the land for ever.

 

The Passover has two main aspects: (1) It is a feast on the lamb, which brings immediate rescue.(2) It is also the feast of unleavened bread, which is to be observed by Israel in the land.The eater of leaven shall be cut off, when the accepted of Israel enter the land.They were to teach their children, when arrived at the land, Godís justice in cutting off the firstborn of murderous and rebellious Egypt, while Jehovah spared the firstborn of Israel in mercy.The Passover was to be kept not in Egypt only, but in the land yearly.

 

Israel bows and worships, and goes away from Moses to obey.Then comes the midnight-stroke; and Israel is driven out, not to return.They are willing to give any gifts, so that they may be rid of them.Israel being thrust out in haste, is forced to eat unleavened cakes.

 

Chapter 13.Observance of the Passover in the land.The seventh day is to be a feast to Jehovah.This speaks of the millennium.Arrived in the land of promise, the firstborn, whether of man or beast, belong to Jehovah.The Passover is grounded on Godís mercy to their firstborn, while those of Egypt were cut off.They were His redeemed people - singled out herein from the other nations of the earth: Ex. 6: 6; 15: 13.

 

By the blood on the door, Israelís firstborn were to be spared.They were then to eat unleavened bread.Egyptís leaven of malice, in pursuing Israel after setting them free, is avenged by overthrow in the Red Sea, while Israel is delivered.

 

Much more might be said on Ex. 12., 13.I must confine myself within the limits of the things in hand.

 

Ex. 12. presents the Lamb of deliverance for Israel from Egyptian slavery.

 

1. The Lamb is first a "sacrifice."Its blood is to be shed, and presented to God.For Israelites are sinners: and without shedding of blood no forgiveness takes place: Heb. 9.The blood is put outside the house for God's eye. " When I see the blood, I will pass overÖ" verse 13,

 

1. "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover:" 12: 27.

 

2. "Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left until the morning." This is a word to Moses, when, the first covenant being broken, a new covenant is made with him alone: 34: 25.

 

Then there is a feast on the sacrifice for the people of God; the feast of Deliverance. The flesh of the lamb is to be eaten with unleavened bread.

 

1. This is then to teach us - that JUSTIFICATION COMES FIRST. No work is to be done by the justified, in order to their justification: verse 10. "Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him:" Rom. 5: 9. "We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son:" verse 10. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast ... with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth :" 1 Cor. 5.

 

Hereby Godís firstborn will escape the wrath coming on an evil world.

 

2. Sanctification is by God knit to Justification. The rescued by blood who partake of the Lamb, must not eat of the leaven of malice and wickedness. Any who eat leavened bread during the feast of the Passover are to be cut off from the congregation of the Lordís people, when the others enter the land of promise: Ex. 12: 19, 20.

 

So there are two cuttings off. 1. One for those who are unjustified, unsheltered by the blood of Christ.

 

2. There is the cutting off also of those, who, while justified, have, not become sanctified (or are eaters of leaven).

 

The time of judgment has not yet come.ĎTis not yet the worldís midnight, when God will go forth to cut off the enemies. Not yet are the firstborn delivered out from the earth of the wicked.

 

But the point of especial force in relation to the present subject is THE NECESSITY OF THE RECEPTION OF THE PREVIOUS RITE OF CIRCUMCISION, BEFORE EATING THE PASSOVER: Ex. 12: 43-51.

 

"There shall no stranger eat thereof:" verse 43.

 

A bought slave might eat it, if circumcised: verse 44.

 

A foreigner and a hired servant should not eat of it.

 

"And when (a freeman), a sojourner - shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised; and then let him come near and keep it." "For NO UNCIRCUMCESED PERSON SHALL EAT THEREOF: verse 48. Hence the Passover excluded females.

 

Israel obeys: verse 50.

 

That same day the Lord led them out : verse 51.

 

The fulfilment of the Passover is yet to come, aud Israel is delivered, only when Christ returns. "I will not," says our Lord, "any more eat thereof, till it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God " - (Luke 22: 16), the kingdom of glory. And then the Lord will cause His Nazarite vow of abstinence from wine to cease: verses 17, 18. By these two signs it is clear, that the Kingdom of God has never yet come.

 

When Israel enters the land under Joshua, there is a second circumcision of the people before the Passover is kept: Joshua 5.

 

How clearly then does the legislation to Israel concerning the necessity of circumcision before eating the Passover tell on the observance of baptism (that is immersion) before eating the Lord's Supper! God does not, indeed, forbid the reception of the Supper, till the believer has received immersion. That is not Godís style of procedure under the Gospel. But His mind is clearly seen.

 

1. Immersion represents the new birth, which of course ought to precede the taking of food.

 

2. The Christian has not come out from Adam and from Moses, as God has taught - until he dies, and is buried with Christ to both Adam and law. "For as many of you as have been immersed into Christ have put on Christ" Gal. 3.

 

3. The sprinkling of infants is no rite of Christ: it is an invention of man, which is no obedience to Christ. "In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." It is "will-worship" and that is a sin, hindering progress in the day of mercy, and entailing loss of blessing in the day, when recompense shall be rendered to each according to his work.

 

We must begin at Godís beginning or go astray. A crumbling stone laid at the foundation may bring a lofty building to the ground. Omission of Christís first command after believing lies at the root of much of present feebleness of service, and slenderness of blessing in the Supper.

 

4. The previous rite, both in Mosesí law, and under the Gospel, is of much moment. Both circumcision and immersion speak of the necessity of previous redemption, before the Passover or the Supper call be rightly observed. Observance of the Passover and of the Supper respectively, told of Godís acceptance of the observers as belonging to His people. And if we would gain the fulness of blessing both now and hereafter, we must walk in the way that God has appointed.

 

Now the proclamation of "the Gospel of the Kingdom" began with the "immersion of repentance unto the forgiveness of sins." The Lord's Supper was only added by Christ just on the eve of His betrayal. And when He takes leave of the eleven on the Mount of Galilee, He sets immersion in the front. "Go ye therefore, make disciples of all the nations, immersing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," the Supper being included, in "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

 

Immersion then must, in all propriety, precede the Supper; or the Church is not visibly set "in Christ," and indwelt by the Holy Ghost, under Gospel grace.

 

The Church of England, which upholds the sprinkling of infants, instead of the immersion of believers, puts all who obey her under law. "God spake these words, and said, ĎI am the Lord thy God.'" God is not the Lord God of the British, but of Israel alone. Therefore slip omits what shows, that the Ten Commandments were given to Israel alone; as truly as redemption out of Egypt was given to the twelve tribes only. What did God say? "I am the Lord thy God, whieh have delivered thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." That is not true of the British. The Ten Commands are the foundation of the Law of Moses. "And He (the Lord) declared unto you His Covenant, which He commanded you (Israel) to perform, even Ten Commandments, and I wrote them on two tables of stone:" Dent. 4: 13 ; 9: 11 ; 29: 1.

 

THE TRUE PLACE OF RITE, shown in Rom. 4.

 

Abraham is justified by faith; is righteous, and is "Blessed" before God. He was blest, while he was in uncircumcision: verses 9, 10. Years after, the Most High commanded him, and the males of his house, to be circumcised. "He received the (1) sign of circumcision, (2) a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised." Here are two aspects of the ceremony. It was a sign from God, that evil dwells in the flesh, and that the duty of the justified is to keep it under. It is the sign of a greater thing, which God demanded, even in the days of Moses. "Circumcise therefore, the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked:" (Deut. 10: 16). Jer. 4: 4. "For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh! But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" Rom. 2: 28, 29.

 

2. It was also a SEAL: a permanent mark in the flesh. It was Godís mark on Abraham, testifying that he was Godís accepted and righteous one. It had also all aspect toward the future. Godís seal on Abrahamís body betokened that it should arise out of the tomb, to enjoy the promised land.

 

Under the Gospel, the sign and the seal are separated. The sign is immersion into death. Under Christ, the flesh not only carries evil partially, but it is so incurably evil, that it is fit only to be buried. But that rite is no seal. Immersion leaves no trace on the flesh. The seal under Christ, was the miraculous giving of the Holy Ghost, bestowed by the laying on of the hands of apostles. That we have not now; for we have no apostles: Acts 2., 8., 19; Eph. 1: 13; 4: 30.

 

It is a false and destructive doctrine, that immersion is to precede faith, and to produce it! 1. The passage, Romans 2: 28, 29, testifies against such a doctrine. 2. John the Baptist trampled upon the thought: Matt. 3: 9. Circumcision indeed proved the Jew to be a son of Abraham after the flesh: but Jehovah would refuse the Jew of uncircumcised heart, and accept the Gentile, if a man of faith. 3. Our Lord testifies too, to the circumcised but unbelieving Jew, that he was a child of the devil: John 8. And Judas the circumcised was so evil, as to be sent to a special place among the lost: Acts 1.

 

"Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness:" Luke 11: 39. And if the sign given by God under the law, did not carry with it the thing signified, much less will the traditional sprinkling of unconverted infants effect regeneration and salvation. For "In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" Matt. 15. "Why do ye transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" Shall menís transgression of the command of God to immerse believers, bring blessing to those who set up the traditions of men, which make void the word of God?

 

Blessing came on Abraham as the obedient of God. He showed himself unlike to Adam, who disobeyed the one command given him, drew down on himself and his children the fatal faculty of conscience, and fell under sin and death.

 

Of the feast of redemption under Moses, mention has been made.

 

The Saviour also has appointed a feast of redemption for those who are His. It is the Lordís Supper, celebrated at His table by His redeemed ones, who eat and drink before Him. It is the Feast of His absence, and is designed to bring Him to remembrance now that He is away. "Do this in remembrance of Me:" 1 Cor. 11: 24, 25. That is said in respect of both the eating and the drinking at the Lordís table. And the Supper is to cease, when He is returned. "Ye show forth the Lordís death, till He come." Then will come the better feast of the Kingdom, in resurrection, and those "accounted worthy, will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God:" Luke 13: 28. That can only take place when they are risen from among the dead.

 

Now Godís mind is that those who partake now of the Supper, should first receive the opening rite of immersion, just as He would have none to partake of the feast of earthly redemption in the Passover, but those who had accepted the rite of circumcision.

 

What then must the Lord think of the mass of believers under the Gospel, who celebrate the feast of redemption without observing the primary rite of redemption? They who do so are not in the path of obedience. They have never come visibly and obediently out from their standing under Adam and law, to take their place with Christ in grace.

 

By way of confirmation, let us look at the way of the Saviourís ordination for those who receive with the heart.

 

In its bearing on this subject, Romans chapter 4., 11th and 12th verses, are of critical force.

 

Abrahamís life has reference to both his seeds; (1) Israel the people of his flesh, (2) Believers of the Gospel, his people after the Spirit. He was justified by faith.

11. "And he received (1) the sign of circumcision, as (2) the seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised: so that he is father of all that believe, while uncircumcised, in order that righteousness may be imputed to them also:

 

12. "And (2) father of circumcision, to those who are not (men) of uncircumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, which he had when uncircumcised."

 

Abraham has two plural seeds: (1) Israel, and (2) Believers of the Gospel, and to both of them he is a pattern set before us by God.

 

1. He is the pattern to the Assembly of God, as being justified by faith, before his works of obedience.

 

2. He is pattern also to Israel, the circumcised and sealed nation, that are called to believe in God with the heart, as well as to obey with the hand.

 

For the Most High is calling for two things. (1) First faith; (2) then, the obedience of faith Rom. 1: 5; 15: 18; 16; 26.

 

1. Faith is the acceptance of God's word; and it carries with it justification.

 

2. But faith is not of itself active. "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is imputed unto righteousness" Rom. 4: 5.

 

(1) Faith alone then is only the first of Godís two claims. He expects to see also, when commands are given from Himself, (2) obedience; "the obedience of faith," and not merely the obedience of the hand without the heart.

 

Now Abraham is the pattern (1) of faith first unto justification; and of (2) obedience afterwards, as the way of sanctification. Tested by his example, there are two failures of his two families, in opposite directions.

 

1. Israel, circumcised at eight days old, and thus bound to keep the law (Gal. 5: 3) before faith and justification, trust in circumcision as the sign and seal; as proving themselves to be Jehovahís approved ones, though they are not.

 

2. His Gentile sons, men of faith unto justification, shirk the walk of faith and the steps of obedience commanded by God after justification.

 

So, of the two things which God asks for, each of the families gives only one. 1. Israel rests in circumcision, as the seal of Godís acceptance; and believe that they are justified by works (Phil. 3.). But the seal on those who have no faith, is only a mark of their obligation to render to God entire obedience, as the way to justification not possessed: Rom. 9., 10., Gal. 5.

 

2. Abrahamís Gentile sons of faith, oft, yea generally draw back from the walk of obedience, which is to follow after faith. They have the chief things, justification and eternal life. Of what moment is rite? Hence they skirk immersion, which is the Lordís command after faith: Acts 2: 38, 39. And they are not possessed of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which should follow after baptism; and they do not regard the promise which ensues. "Be immersed every one of you, on the authority of Jesus Christ, unto the forgiveness of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise (of it, by Joel: verses 17, 18) is to you (Jews) and to your children, and (2) to all that are afar off (believing Gentiles), as many as the Lord our God shall call:" Acts 2.

 

Instead of obeying, by immersing believers, they offer to God a sign of their own devising the sprinkling of infants - displeasing to Christ, as being "will-worship;" and empty and deceptive to themselves. The seal of God, the gifts of the Spirit they overlook, and are standing on the traditions of men at their entry on the Faith, instead of on the Word of God.

 

At the next advance of the Gospel, in Philipís message to Samaria, we have (1) faith in the coming kingdom of glory, and the (2) name of Jesus Christ as Saviour (verse 12). "They believed and immersed, both men and women." There is no notice of infants, because they had no faith.

 

But while Philip manifested "powers" of the coming age and kingdom, in the signs which he showed, thus putting aside their subjection to Simon the Magician, and his wonders; he did not impart any gifts to the believers there. It would seem, that he was unable to effect this, as he was no apostle.

 

But apostles at Jerusalem perceive the deficiency, and send to them Peter and John, who, by laying hands on them, impart the seal of God's acceptance, as tongues, and prophecy, by the laying on of hands. Then is discovered to us, in Peterís actings toward Simon, that though baptized, he had not really faith, (1) either in the millennial day, or (2) in the tidings concerning Jesus Christ, as dying and risen. Wherefore he is admonished to pray for forgiveness of sins, and would receive no gifts of the Spirit, till they were satisfied of his faith.

 

Acts 9. Saul the persecutor is converted, and his first step after faith is to receive immersion, before eating or drinking, although he had been fasting three days. And he was filled with the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of the hands of Ananias, specially commissioned by the Lord Jesus to instruct, and to receive, him.

 

Acts 10., 11. Peter is sent to preach the Gospel to Cornelius, and his friends. While he is declaring Jesus Christ as the Pardoner of sin, and before he speaks of the kingdom of glory yet to come, the Holy Spirit falls on the hearers, and they begin to speak with tongues. The apostle does not say, as many do now - ĎThose baptised by the Spirit have no need of the baptism of water. They have the chief thing - what need have they of the lessOn the contrary, he says "Can any forbid the water, that these should not be immersed, who have received the Holy Spirit as we ourselves have? And he commanded them in the name of the Lord to be immersed" (Greek).

 

That is, both the (1) sign and the (2) seal of God are to be received by believers of the Gospel. Abraham is the pattern. He received both. And his sons, whether Jews sealed in the flesh before faith; or his Gentile sons, received after faith and justification, are to observe both the sign and the seal.

 

This reception of Gentiles displeases the circumcision, who mark not, that Mosesí sign and seal were buried when they came over, by faith, to Christ. Peter tells them the true view of the matter; and they are satisfied, that believing Gentiles are sealed by God.

 

Paul preaches at Pisidian Antioch in the synagogues. Before him are Jews, and Gentile proselytes. Great is the stir, when Mosesí inability to save those who trust him is declared; and the power of the Lord Jesus to forgive sins is proclaimed. The Jews blaspheme, and drive out the apostle: Acts 13.

 

Acts 18. Paul preaches at Corinth; many believe and are immersed. The communication of the gifts of the Spirit is not named in the Acts; but in the first epistle the subject is taken up in its details. "They came behind in no gift."

 

Acts 19. At Ephesus, Paul comes upon disciples who had received instruction and immersion from John the Baptist; but of the baptism of the Spirit as actually received they had not even heard. He would draw them away from dependence on John as their leader. They then receive immersion, and the laying on of hands from the apostle, and thereby become possessed of tongues and prophecy.

 

Acts 20. In this chapter we find the Lord's Supper, under the presidency of the apostle, together with the resurrection of Eutychus. The chapter closes with his farewell address to the elders of Ephesus. The apostle had taught repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus. He proclaimed both the (1) Gospel of grace, and the (2) good news of Christís return and kingdom. He had declared to them the whole counsel of God.

 

Thus, then, while apostles lived, they maintained both (1) DOCTRINE and (2) RITE; and each retained in its due place.

 

But how stand these things now?

 

The nation of Israel is cast off for unbelief (1) after their slaying the Redeemer, (2) and refusing to own His resurrection, and (3) the descent of the Holy Spirit, as promised by our Lord. (4) His blood lies on them and their children: Matt. 27: 25. This is declared by Peter at Pentecost : Acts 2: 34-36. God and Israel are at variance. They slew the Holy One. He had exalted Him to His own right hand. And the Most High was about to put under Christ's feet all His foes. Peterís hearers, convicted of sin and dismayed with a view of judgment at hand, enquire with trembling ĎIs there any escape from this awful position

 

There is. (1) "Repent" - let them turn from their unbelief in Christ, and its impious acts. (2) "Be immersed every one of you, on the authority (Greek) of Jesus Christ, unto the forgiveness of sins." As true sons of Abraham they obey at once. And after the immersion in water comes the immersion in the Spirit, received through the laying on of apostlesí hands verses 38, 39; Acts 8: 18.

 

After this, "they continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine, and in the fellowship of breaking bread, [here is the Supper after immersion] and in the prayers."

 

The eleven apostles do not go out to the nations as our Lord appointed. He therefore arrested Saul the persecutor on the road to Damascus. Saul enquires, What is he to do? "Arise, go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Ananias is sent to him by Christ. He lays hands on the apostle, and he receives sight immediately. "He arose and was immersed. And when he had received food, he was strengthened" Acts 9. So here immersion is received by Paul, whom we are taught to imitate: 2 Thess. 3: 7, 9. Before he either eats or drinks, he receives baptism after a three daysí continual fast. He even then receives a gentle reproof, "And now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and be immersed, and bathe away thy sins, having called on the name of the Lord" 22: 16 (Greek).

 

Paul, as apostle, visits Asia Minor and Europe, sent by the Holy Spirit. He preaches to Jews and to Gentile proselytes at Antioch of Pisidia, and calls both to leave ĎMases who cannot save them for Christí. "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. And from all things, from which ye could not under the law of Moses be justified, in Him every one that believeth is jutistified:" Acts 13: 38, 39 (Greek).

 

At Philippi he leads two companies of believers to immersion - (1) Lydia, and her household; (2) the jailor, and his household : Acts 16: 15-33.

 

After (1) the history of the Acts, we have set before us the apostleís (2) doctrine concerning immersion in Romans 6. and in Colossians 2.

 

The teaching of Romans is very much to our present purpose. In Romans 5. Paul shows us the two Great Heads of men: (1) Adam, the head of sin and death; (2) and Christ, the head of Righteousness and Life - with a brief view of Godís dispensations and their results.

 

In Romans 6. we have the immersion of believers set before us, as the passing out from Adam in his death and corruption, to walk with Christ risen in newness of life. The Roman believers had already received this immersion; and the Great Apostle expounds for them its meaning. It had also an onward aspect toward the blessedness of the First Resurrection, and the Kingdom of God.

 

Let us now look at THE ORDER APPOINTED BY GOD.

 

1. UNDER MOSES, Circumcision is to precede eating the Passover. The rite which precedes the Passover testifies to Israelís leaving the standing of Adam, or condemnation and death. Jehovah sends to Israel, by Moses a new message. He knew their sorrows as slaves in Egypt, and would deliver them, leading them onward to the good land, which he sware to their fathers to give them. "And the people believed: and when they heard that Jehovah had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped:" Ex. 4. When plagues set them not free from their task-masters, the blood and flesh of the lamb opened to them deliverance.

 

This rite once celebrated in Egypt is to be observed by them, both in the wilderness, and in the land. But the rite of circumcision must precede it, both in the case of Israelites, and of the strangers that would join them.

 

But our question respects particularly the standing in Christ and grace, after leaving Adam and Moses. The first rite of Christ is immersion. That is a leaving of both Adam and Moses.

 

Mosesí law was addressed to those born of Abraham and Sarah; its mark was on the flesh. The diseased in flesh by leprosy might not draw near to the Tabernacle of God. And "the mind of the flesh is death," but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. "Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can it be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God:" Rom. 8: 6-8.

 

Hence our Lord at Jerusalem testifies to Nicodemus the new foundation on which his religion was to rest: John 3. And therefore He notices to him the new rite which He had appointed - in order to mark the difference from Moses, circumcision, and law. The new foundation is the being begotten, not by the flesh, or by Abraham and Sarah, but the being begotten from above by the Holy Spirit.

 

Without this there is no seeing the millennial kingdom of glory. But, after regeneration by the Spirit of God, comes the birth out of water. As the Holy Spirit is the new and heavenly Father of Christís people; so they are to be manifested as sons of God by the birth out of water, the new mother. And when Nicodemus objects, our Lord puts prominently forward the new foundation of the Faith. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be begotten out of water AND Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of' God," yet to come. "That which is begotten of the flesh is flesh; and that which is begotten of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ' Ye must be begotten from above: "' verses 5-7.

 

The men of the earth are not sons of God, nor do they receive the Son of God. But to as many as receive the Lord Jesus, "to them gave He the right to become sons of God." These "were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God:" John 1: 12, 13.

 

They then occupy the new standing of sons of God in Christ the Son. They have left Moses, and the birth from Abraham and Sarah. They stand under grace: they have righteousness and eternal life in Him.

 

Then comes THE LORDíS SUPPER.

 

Let us look at it from two points of view. 1. In itself. 2. As compared with the Passover.

 

The regenerate sons of God are alone welcome to the Lord's table.

 

The Supper in general is rightly observed by evangelicals, where the Priest is not set up, and the worship of the elements is not observed; nor "the Lord's table " changed into an altar.

 

The Holy Spirit by Paul rebukes two main sins

 

(1) The associating Christ with idolatry of demons: 1 Cor. 10. And (2) the lack of sympathy with the suffering Saviour, and want of the fellowship with one another, which ought to reign between members of Christ. "When ye come together therefore, into one place, this is not to eat the Lordís Supper. For each taketh before (others) by eating his own supper, and one is hungry, and another is drunken:" 1 Cor. 11: 20, 21.

 

The main fault of the present day regards THE OMISSION OF THE RITE PRUVIOUS TO THE SUPPER. The standing of birth in Adam, and under Moses, has not been left. The partakers have not passed out of these, as Christ commanded. "Make disciples of all the nations; immersing then into the name of the Father,of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" See also Acts 2:38. Then, after immersion, comes "the fellowship in the breaking of bread:" verse 42. Eating in the fellowship of Christ, in obedience to Him, takes place properly only after being bathed from sin, and clothed for the feast.

 

Baptism is the confession, in Godís way, of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the putting off of Adam and Moses, and the putting on of Christ. Where the traditions of men set aside the commands of God, the Most High refuses to own the observance. "Why do ye transgress the commandments of God by your tradition?" "Ye have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." "In vain do they worship Me; teaching for doctrines the commandments of men:" Matt. 15. ; Mark 7.

 

2. As compared with the Passover.

 

In the feasts of the Law, women are not named. Eve had been the first to sin. But under the Gospel women of faith are welcome to the Supper. While law set up the distinctions of the flesh - as to (1) sex, (2) nation, and (3) civil standing, - as free, or enslaved; these are all buried in the grave of the waters - and all believers are, one in Christ: Gal. 3: 27-29. Yet at the Supper of the Lord, one distinction between man and woman is enjoined. "Let her be covered:" 1 Cor. 11. "For this reason, ought the woman to have power over her head [to cover, or uncover it, in spite of her usual subjection to her father, husband, or brothers,] because of the angels:" Here is a difficulty not easily explained. But it is removed, when we remember, that sin came in by her listening to Satan, the fallen angel; and that her fault was repeated in Noahís day, when the sons of God [angels: Job 1: 6; 2: 1; 38: 7] lawlessly took them wives of all that they chose: and the wrath of the Flood came in upon the world of the ungodly.

 

There is a reference in her covered head to her former sin in ruling the man, and leaving her place as his "helpmeetĒ in taking first of the forbidden fruit, and giving to him.

 

Let us now look at the MEANING of the Passover, and of the Lord's Supper respectively.

 

They are not hostile to one another; though they mark the difference between the two people of God. Jesus, our Lord, at one table and one time, owned both the Passover, and the Lordís Supper. This is seen most forcibly in Luke 22: 15-30. Both the remnant of the tribes of Israel, and the accepted ones of the Gospel, will be together in the kingdom of millennial glory: while the latter approved ones will be rulers of the men of Israel, and even guests at the Lordís Table in His Kingdom. Then it will be no longer a feast of remembrance of One away - Nor, "Take, eat, this is My blood:." Nor, "This My blood of the New Testament, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins." But the Great Nazariteís vow will then end; and He who drank wine on earth in the flesh, will drink it new with His risen apostles in the millennial kinadom. "It shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with water, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord:" Joel 3. "The mountains shall drop sweet wine:" Amos 9: 13.

 

To the Passover are attached the promises of this life and earth. To the Supper belong "the better country, that is a heavenlyĒ and the New Jerusalem, with its everlasting foundations; the New Eden, and its tree of life. The Passover tells of the stroke of judgment yet to come, at the worldís midnight. The Supper is for those who are not only sheltered from the Destroyer, but possessed of the forgiveness of sins. In the one, the children of Abraham set down; in the other, the sons of God are awaiting the return of the Son of God. In the one, the circumcised eat of the lambs of earth; in the other, the regenerate of the Holy Spirit feed on the Lamb of God by faith in His Word, and with thanksgiving.

 

The observance of the Passover now is unbelief. It says: 'We are awaiting Messiah; the true Lamb is not come. We are of Moses, and are under law.' The observance of the Supper testifies, that "Christ our sacrifice is slain for us. Therefore let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." We too are awaiting Messiah; but not to atone for sin. "Unto them that look to Him for salvation, He shall appear the second time without sin:" Heb. 9: 28 (Order of the Greek):

 

They who would see Christís face with joy, must be obedient to His words. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." Baptism is noticed and taught in the New Testament some ten times as much as the Supper. How it is entwined in the Acts! And in the Gospels!

 

Why is the Supper so little named? Partly, because the Lord foresaw how much immersion, despised and ridiculed by the world, would be resisted by believers. Its emersion opens the door to the hope of the Christian, - the millennium. But when the sprinkling of infants came in, a new doctrine and hope entered, thrusting out Godís hope. Instead of the joy of the First Resurrection at Christís advent, there came in the so generally received teaching, of the believer's entry into the Presence of God in heaven, at once on death, as a glorified spirit. This pushes away the doctrine of resurrection from the eye of faith. If we gain heaven without "the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body," what need is there of the flesh?

 

He who has been only sprinkled as an infant, has not the sign, either of death, burial, or resurrection. He has never taken his stand before Christ as His Lord, as God commanded: Acts 2: 36-38. The sprinkling of infants has thrust out the commandment of God. To this some may be disposed to reply - ĎWell, we see you have a good deal to say in favour of your views. But baptism is only a confession of Jesus Christ; and that confession we have long ago made, and continue to the present day

 

This supposes, that the one meaning of Christís commanded immersion is confession. That is indeed one aspect of it; but 'tis far from being the only one. The Saviour came to John the Baptist to be immersed. He had perfectly confessed His Father; and without flaw fulfilled His Word. But he would observe the new command. He moves onward the reluctant John, with - "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."

 

For immersion assures us of pardon, and eternal [age-lasting] life.

 

"For he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." You have not fulfilled Peterís exhortation. "Save yourselves from the crooked generation:" How was that done? "They therefore that (gladly) received His word were immersed:" Acts 2: 41 (Greek). Put off Adam and Moses, and "put on Christ:" Gal. 3. As a believer you have entered into the Ark of Christís righteousness; now pass safely through the waters 1 Peter 3. Until you have been buried with Christ, by immersion into His death, and come out from the waters, you have not confessed, as God would have you, your oneness with Christ as slain, risen, ascended. "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, why we shall be also of the (First) Resurrection:" Rom. 6: 5. Mark that IF, let it no longer stand against you!

 

"They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that (millennial) Age, and the Resurrection from among the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. For neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto angels, and are sons of God, as being sons of the Resurrection:" Luke 20: 35, 36. "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to be set before the Son of man:" 21: 36. "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the (millennial) kingdom of heaven but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL of My Father which is in heaven:" Matt. 7: 21. "He that saith he abideth in Him (Christ) ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning:"1 John 2: 7. "Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. lf that which ye have heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father:" verse 24.

 

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