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through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thus much concerning the first appearance.
Now we will speak somewhat of the second ; that is, of the baptism of Christ. In the baptism of Christ, three things are to be considered : the first, the heavens were opened when he was baptized; the second, the Holy Ghost was seen in the likeness of a dove ; and the third, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Christ vouchsafed to be baptized with water, by which he hath hallowed baptism, and made the water thereof holy, that he which is baptized in his name, might likewise become holy and cleansed from sin.
Christ was not baptized for himself, for he was not infected with the least spot of sin. He acted like a good physician, who first drinks of the bitter portion, and then offers it to the sick, that they may the more gladly and boldly drink of it afterwards": for we in baptism drink a bitter portion; namely, the mortification of the old Adam: for dipping into the water, or sprinkling with it, signifies nothing else, than that the old Adam should perish and die. This is greatly furthered by the cross, which God by his divine will layeth upon us; which we ought not to cast off, but bear willingly with a patient mind.
But that this might be easier for us to do, Christ hath taken it upon himself; he suffered himself to be baptized, he took his cross and carried it without resistance or gainsaying, and was obedient to his Father unto death, even the death of the cross : as Paul saith, Phil. ii. that he might deliver us from our sins, and might appease his heavenly Father, which surely he did of his mere grace without any desert of ours; whereof baptism is a sign and pledge; as Paul saith to Titus : " But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Secondly, when Christ was baptized, the Holy Ghost appeared in the likeness of a dove, whereby is signified that we also receive the Holy Ghost in baptism, which ruleth and guideth us according to the will of God; which is present with us, and helpeth us in bearing the burden of the holy cross, which exhorteth us, enforceth us, and when we yield to the burden of the cross, it is present and helpeth us; if we fall it raiseth us up again, and is always a faithful companion in our journey,
He maketh the burden of the cross light, which we should otherwise be unable to bear. If we fall into sin, we must remember to go back to baptism, for this is the ship wherein we pass over the sea of sin; for baptism is the beginning of repentance. After such a renewing of the life, followeth the praise of God, and thanksgiving unto him for the grace received. Then the person behaveth himself friendly towards his neighbour, and doth good to him in all things. This is signified by the Holy Ghost appearing upon Christ in the likeness of a dove. The dove hath no gall : such they also become which receive the Holy Ghost in baptism ; to wit, they are gentle and without bitterness toward all men.
Thirdly, the voice of the Father is heard in the baptism of Christ, which saith, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." This is that Saviour which delivereth us from the tyranny of sin, death, satan, and hell. Here we may learn how we must come to God: he that desireth to become a child of God the Father, must attain to it through Christ, and through him alone, the beloved Son, who
sitteth in the bosom of the Father; unto whom alone the Father looketh; without whom he alloweth nothing; but whatsoever pleaseth the Father, it pleaseth him with respect to the Son: therefore he that desireth to go to the Father, must cleave to this his beloved Son: nothing is of value or estimation with the Father, except his beloved Son.
He that desireth to be in favour with the Father, and to be beloved by him, let him flee to the bosom of the Son, by whom he findeth access to the Father; as Paul saith, Eph. “ Through Christ we are adopted :” and, “Without Christ we are the enemies of God." Therefore, whosoever cleaveth to Christ through faith; abideth in the favour of God; he also shall be made beloved and acceptable, as Christ is; and shall have fellowship with the Father and Son. This is a mighty and excellent voice ! This is
beloved Son, in whom all things consist and are comprehended, which are extant in the whole scripture:
As all things are delivered into the hands of Christ, and gathered into one, that they may obey him, God saith, this is my beloved Son:" by shewing Christ only, and naming no other, he maketh it plain that none is his beloved Son beside him. If others are not his beloved sons, it is certain that they are the children of wrath and indignation. If there were more beloved sons, he would not have used this saying ; neither would he turn his eyes to him only as though he knew no other. Paul saith in his epistle to the Hebrews, “Unto which of the angels said he at any time, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee ?? and again, “ I will be his Father, and he shall be
It is most certain that Christ, in these words, is declared to be the true and only Son of God; seeing that these words were never said to any other creature. Howbeit, he was as much the Son of God, and would have remained so forever, even as
he hath been from everlasting, if this had not been spoken to us from heaven: neither is any thing added or taken away from him by this name ; but we must think that this praise and honour of Christ was spoken for our sakes; as it is said in John xii. 30. Jesus answered and said, this voice came not because of me, but for your sakes." He hath no need that it should be said unto him, that he is the Son of God; for he knew this before; and hath had from everlasting by his nature, that which he heareth.
This word teacheth us to know Christ, in which knowledge our salvation consisteth, as witnessed by Isaiah, Paul, and Peter. But how does it teach us to know him ? it teacheth us to know him as the Son of God, who pleaseth the Father ; by which the Father cheereth
the hearts of all the faithful, and greatly delighteth them with comfort and heavenly love. When Christ speaketh, or doth any thing for me, I remember these words of the Father, that he is the beloved Son ; then I am forced to think, that all which Christ speaketh and suffereth for my sake, doth well please the Father. How can God show himself more liberal and loving, than by being pleased that Christ his Son doth deal so kindly and tenderly with us ; that he looks upon us with so much affection, and with such unusual love, as to suffer and die for our sakes.
But we are cold, and sluggish, and unthankful wretches ; we pass over such precious words as things of no importance; as if uttered by man; as being contained in a book, or written on paper, as things utterly decayed ; as if grown out of use by long custom; as if they pertained to Christ, and not to us. Being dull and senseless, we do not perceive that they belong not to Christ, but were committed to writing and are extant for our sakes only. Christ being in so great favour with God in all things, and
at the same time serving us, as he himself witnesseth, we are without doubt in the same favour with God, as Christ himself. “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John xiv. 23. Also, xii. 26. “Where I am, there shall also my servant be.” Again ; I pray that they may be one, even as we are one; I in thee, and thou in me, and they in me.
But where is Christ? In the favour of God ; in the depth, of his heart : there also are we, if we know and love Christ ; there our refuge is placed, where no evil can come. But in this, faith is required; the works of the law, and our own merit, will not prevail. Christ is here declared the only Son of God; which at once overthrows whatsoever maketh itself God. Men and satan, who please themselves, and love themselves only, seek not after God, but strive to become gods themselves : but God will say unto these very different things from what he said unto Christ. Christ is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, seeing that he glorifieth not himself, although he be God: but ye are wretches, in whom I allow nothing, seeing that ye glorify yourselves, being but creatures and men.
This sentence given of Christ, humbleth the world, and showeth them all to be void of divinity; and ascribeth it to Christ, all for our benefit, if we believe and admit this sentence; or to our condemnation, if we contemn it. Then we may say at once, without Christ there is no favour, beloved Son; but the wrath and sore displeasure of God.
We shall now quote certain sentences out of the scripture concerning Christ, whereby is declared that through him we are loved by the Father, and without him are refused. Thus it is said, John i. 16, 17. “Of his fulness, (to wit, Christ's,) have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was