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NATURE AND DESIGN
BY JOHN CRANE, D. D.
Pastor o* The Congregational Church In Northbridoi.
ACTS, XVIII. 25;
1 HIS was faid of the eloquent ApolJbS,.who was one of- the greateft teachers in the fchoolofjohn the Baptift. This mode of expref. 'fion imports his imperfect acquaintance with the doctrines and inftitutions of the gofpel. It places him back, in a time when lefs perfect notions of chriftianity prevailed. He needed more inftruction, in order to be completely furniftied for preaching the gofpel. When, therefore, Aquila and Prifcilla perceived his ignoranee, "they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."' Apollos then knew only the doclrine and baptifm of John. Hence we conclude, that John's baptifm belonged to a difpenfation lefs perfect than the chriftian difpeiifation.
The principal inquiry is, what was the defign of John's baptifm? Are we to confider it a chriftian ordinance, or a Jewifh rite? Shall we place it under the gofpel, or the legal difpenfation? In order to take a proper view of the fubjecb, it muft be obferved, that the difciples of Chrift, under his dire&ion, adminiftered baptifm. I now propofe to confider John's baptifm, and the baptifm ufed by the difciples of our Lord.
It will firft be made to appear, that John's baptifm, and that of the difciples under our Lord's, direction, were defigned to anfwer the fame purpofe. In doing this, let us pay particular attention to the character and preaching of John, and alfo to the preaching of the difciples, who were fent out to preach durirtg our Lord's miniftry. The character given of John, in the prophets, is that of a forerunner of Chrift. It was foretold, that John mould be fent to prepare the way of Chrift. Ifaiah, xl. 3, "The voice of him that crieth in the wildernefs, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make ftraight in the defert a high way for our God." When John came, the firft words which he uttered, were, " Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." The principal defign of John's preaching was to give notice of the immediate approach of the Meffiah; to inform the Jewifh nation, that Chrift was at hand, and to prepare the people to receive him. 'Such was the great Redeemer, and fuch was his divine million, that a forerunner was neceffary to proclaim his immediate approach. This information was fuitable to prepare the people to receive him. Luke, i. 76, 77, ".And thou, child, (John) malt be called the prophet of the higheft: for thou (halt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of falvation unto his people by the remiffion of their frns."
John's preaching was chiefly defigned to prepare the Jewifh nation for the reception of Chrift. The twelve and the feventy difciples were fent forth upon a fnnilar errand. The directions