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MATT. XXVIII. 19, 20.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing
them in 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 : and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
These words contain that great commission and charter, granted by our Saviour to his Apostles and their successors, by virtue of which we and all mankind have been called to the knowledge and practice of true religion, inforced by the motives of eternal felicity or misery. As it had been chiefly in Galilee, that he instructed his disciples before his death : so he appointed them to retire thither after his resurrection, that he might add to his instructions whatever then became proper; and more fully acquaint them with such things, as pertained to the kingdom of God *. There our Evangelists informs us, he appeared to them on a mountain: perhaps the same, on which he had begun to open the doctrine of Christianity, in that noble discourse, which we have in the fifth and following chapters of this gospel : and given them a specimen of his and their future
glory, at his transfiguration *. When they saw him, the generality immediately worshipped him: but some, we are told with the usual fairness of the sacred writers, doubtedt. Whether these were only persons, who accompanied the Apostles, and had not yet seen him since he rose again : or whether some of the Apostles, themselves, who might not with certainty know him at a distance, is not clear. But the doubts of either could not but vanish when Jesus came up to them, as St. Matthew assures us he did, for so the original word signifies f, and conversed familiarly with them. Many such conversations he held with these his followers: for St. Luke in their Acts informs us, that they continued forty days Ş. But the substance of them all must be, what the text expresses : where, in consequence of that fulness of power, which he tells them, in the foregoing words, was given him over all things in heaven and in earth; as the Father had sent him, he sends them ||, to make disciples, for that is the more accurate rendering 1, not of the Jews alone, but of all nations. And that they may do it rightly and effectually, he distinctly sets forth,
I. The doctrines, they were to teach.
III. The protection and happiness, of which they might assure, both themselves, and all those, who faithfully preached his gospel, and who sincerely embraced it.
* Grot. in Loc. saith, There is ancient tradition for the last. See Rexland Palæst. p. 334, &c. + v. 17. 1 Προσελθων, ν. 18. ♡ Acts i. 3.
ll John XX. Maonteuw is not used in the Septuagint: nor Maontas. In the New Testament it is found thrice, besides the text: and signifies to make Disciples, Acts xiv. 21. to be a Disciple, Matth. xxvii. 57. and in the passive voice may signify, to be made a Disciple, Matth. xiii. 52. It signifies also in Plutarch, to be a Disciple. See Steph. in Voc.
I. The doctrines, they were to teach. These are briefly, but sufficiently, comprehended in the direction of baptizing men in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : for the better understanding of which phrase, it will be proper to explain,
1. What is meant by being baptized in the name of any one, and particularly of these three.
2. What is the faith in these three, which our baptism requires us to profess.
1. For the completer apprehension of the former of these points, it will be useful to observe, that in our Saviour's days, it had been an ancient custom amongst the Jews, when any Gentile forsook idolatry, and believed the law of Moses, to receive him into their religion, amongst other ceremonies, by baptism : as indeed they had themselves been prepared for the reception of that law, by a solemn and religious washing, as we read Exod. xix. Nay even the Heathens made use of purifications by water, when they initiated, or entered, any one into the mysteries of their Deities. And this rite being not only thus universally used, but also naturally expressive of those two things, which, on professing Christianity, chiefly wanted to be expressed : a promise on our part, carefully to preserve ourselves pure, from the defilement of sin, through the assistance of the Holy Spirit : and a promise on God's part, graciously to consider us, as pure from the guilt of it, through the merits of his Son: therefore our blessed Lord condescended to make this the form of entering into his religion also. But at the same time he thoroughly distinguished the Christian baptism, both from that of the Heathens, who were baptized into superstitions and idolatrous follies; and from that of the Jewish Proselytes, who
were baptized, as the Apostle expresses it, into Moses *, by directing, that his followers should be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In the language of Scripture, doing any thing in the name of God, signifies doing it by virtue of his authority. Thus our Saviour saith to the Jews, I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not : If another shall come in his own name, him ye ceivet. In this sense baptism is administered in the name of the Holy Trinity, being a divine appointment, with a distinct reference to each of the three persons. And in this sense the phrase appears to have been used by St. Peter, when he commanded the family of Cornelius to be baptized in the name of the Lord f: that is, by virtue of his commission to baptize all nations. Till that day, the Apostles had understood this only concerning Jews and Proselytes of all nations. But now, St. Peter being sent by express revelation to Cornelius, a Gentile; and perceiving, in the midst of his discourse to him and his friends, that, on their believing, the Holy Ghost was fallen upon them , Gentiles as they were : after some astonishment, he argues very justly, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we ? and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord || : that is in pursuance of our Saviour's general directions.
But though the expression in the text undoubtedly implies this meaning, yet it comprehends a further
For the phrase translated in the name, is different from that in the passage relating to St. Peter, and signifies in strictness, into the name of the Father, * 1 Cor. x. 2. + John v. 43.
| Acts x. 48. s Acts v. 44.
|| Acts v. 47, 48.
Son, and Holy Ghost : which word, into, the New Testament uses nine times besides *, in speaking of baptism, whereas it uses a word signifying, in, at most but once besides t. The particular import of this term, I shall now explain to you.
It hath ever been usual, that the believers or professors of any doctrine should be called by a name, derived from the first or chief teacher of that doctrine. And by whatever form or ceremony they declared themselves his Disciples, by the same they were understood to take upon them his name. Thus the Jews, when, taking Moses for their prophet and guide, they followed him into the midst of the Red Sea, are said by St. Paul, in allusion to the water through which they passed, to have been baptized into Moses I: which is equivalent to saying, that they
Acts viii. 16. xix. 3. 5. Rom. vi. 3. 1 Cor. i. 13. 15. X. 2. xii. 13. Gal. iii. 27.
+ Acts ii. 38.; where the preposition is eru. Now, επι το ονοματο appears to signify the same thing as εν τω ονοματι. . Matth. xxiv. 5. Mark ix. 39, xiii. 6. Luke ix. 49. xxi. 8. Acts iv, 18. v. 28. 40. Emi tw oropati signifies also for the sake of, or from regard to ; Matth. xviii. 5. Mark ix. 37. Luke ix. 48.; and so doth EIS TO Ovoja, Matth. X. 41, 42; as doth Dub. Thus the Samaritans circumcised their children Om Ows into the name of Mount Gerizim. Avoda Sara, fol. 27.1. in Schoetg. Hor. Heb. in Matth. xxviii. 20; i. e. devoted him to the worship there instituted; of which Schwarzius, in his Exercitationes in Pent. Sam. Witemb. 1756, p. 51, saith the explanation is (as he cites it from the Talmudical book. 75177 nudo Edzardi Ed. Hamb. 1710, p. 42.) that they circumcised them ous
) , the image on the top of Mount Gerizim, which image they worship, and circumcise their children 177,73197 OW'in, or into, the name of this dove. The only places where the phrase es to oroua occurs besides, are John i. 12. j. 23. iii. 18. 1 John v. 13; where the phrase is πιστευειν εις το ονομα; and Matth. xviii. 20. συνηγμενοι εις το εμον ονομα. Here some understand it, for my sake, others to pray in my name, others by virtue of my command.
f 1 Cor. x. 2.
in, or into, the name of דמות בראש הר גריזים ועובדיו לה עבירה