Discovered Plainly and Faithfully, According to the
WORD of GOD,
Is set forth the Glorious Pattern of our Blessed Saviour JESUS CHRIST, the Pattern of all Believers in his Subjection to Baptism. Together with the Example of Thousands who were Baptized after they Believed.
By JOHN NORCOTT
This short book on the subject of Believer’s Baptism was first published before 1694 and passed through at least five editions before 1721. The author, John Norcott, was a much respected pastor of the church in Gravel Lane, London. He died on March 4th 1675 in middle life, and his funeral sermon was preached by Benjamin Keach who evidently thought very highly of him.
C. H. Spurgeon had such a regard for this book that he had it reprinted in a “corrected and somewhat altered edition.” In 1911 this edition of Spurgeon’s was reprinted by Famcombe and Sons. Copies are not readily available today and, as it is a simple and valuable statement of Baptist conviction which came out of a period ,of English history when believers went through great trials for their faith, it is hoped to reprint the book in sections in this magazine. It may then be possible at a later date to republish the book entirely. In this version some of the more archaic expressions have been modernized.
When by reading you go to search out the mind of God, let your cry be, Lord, anoint mine eyes with eye-salve, that I may see; and if it has been the day of God’s power with your soul, I will bid truth
welcome, in whatever dress it comes; and think more on what is comprised in the letter, than be frightened at the poor clothing of the messenger; especially, knowing that it comes from one whose name is “The great God.” Therefore in handling this truth, of Believers’ Baptism, as it was practised by Christ and the primitive churches, my great request to you is, that you will read what is said without prejudice. And whatever you find according to truth, receive it as that which is more precious than your life, and judge of it according to the Holy Scriptures; for when all is said that can be, the Holy Scriptures must be judge in all controversies of religion.
Christ is the foundation and all who build upon Him shall never be confounded, 1 Cor. 2.11. I shall therefore first make a few observations concerning our Lord Jesus Christ’s being baptized;
and herein I would have you take careful note how exact the Holy Scriptures are to set down the circumstances of His baptism, that we might not lack an exact pattern, and might the more easily attain to the happiness of those concerning whom it is written, “These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.”
Christ was Baptized in the River of Jordan.
Concerning the Baptism of Jesus Christ you may read it at length in Matt. 3.13 to 17. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him.” Every word has emphasis. Then -before He entered upon His public ministry, as you see in Matt. 4.17 “From that time Jesus began to preach.” Cometh – He might have commanded John to have attended Him; but to show His subjection He cometh. From Galilee – many miles, and probably on foot;
every step we take for God is acceptable, and one day shall have a glorious reward. To Jordan – where there was a river, where thousands had been baptized, for it was a suitable place for John to dip Christ in, as will be seen afterwards.
Now I shall take notice of eight things concerning the baptism of Christ.
1. Concerning His age, it’s said, “Jesus being baptized” (Luke 3.21), “began to be about thirty years of age” (ver. 23). Here you see that Christ Himself was baptized as an adult. If any might be baptized in infancy, why not Christ? Christians, be not ashamed, your Captain is gone before you, He was thirty years old when baptized. Christ is not ashamed to call you brethren. Heb. 2.11.
2. Another thing to be observed in the baptism of Christ, is the administrator of this holy ordinance, John, who confesses himself that he was not worthy to unloose the straps of His sandals, Mark 1.7. Now if Christ would receive baptism from such an unworthy instrument never think slightingly of the ordinance, because of the
unworthiness of the administrators, let your eye be on Christ your example.
3. Note the repulse, “John forbade him”, Matt. 3.14. Difficulty in duty must be no excuse; we must take no denial in following God. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate,” Matt. 7.13.
4. Note, John’s argument. Matt. 3.14. “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” Some will not be baptized except it be proven that they have need of it. Their carnal argument is, may I not go to heaven though I be not baptized? Is it necessary to salvation? Now this is selfish and unholy. Is this like your Lord and Master? Was not He a perfect Saviour? Was not the Spirit poured on Him without measure? He had no sins to be washed away, and yet He was baptized. Wherefore see your Example. He does it not because of need but in obedience to his Father’s will.
5. Note the excellent terms which our Lord Jesus gives to this ordinance of baptism, [a] He calls it “Righteousness”, Matt. 3.15. It is righteous and just that I should be about my Father’s business, [b] He declares it to be a comely thing, it becomes us. Oh it is a very comely thing in God’s children, to have respect to all the commandments of God. [c] He mentions a conjunction between Himself and His people. This is implied in the word us – thus it becometh us. He means, “you and me, and all my followers.” John 12.26. “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be”, [d] He speaks of it as a completion, it is a fulfilling. We are to aim at this; 2 Cor. 10.5, 6, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled.” Obedience must be fulfilled, [e] He uses the universal term all righteousness. Baptism is one part of the all. Christ reckons it so. You cannot walk in all the commands, nor fulfil all righteousness, if this is omitted.
6. Note, concerning Christ’s baptism the form of administration, Matt. 3.16. “And he went up straightway out of the water”. Straightway – because baptism is dipping once. Up – had He not been down, it would not have been said that He went up. He went -and therefore He was not carried in arms as infants are. Out – if He went out of the water then He must have been in it. We never say one goes out of the house when he never was in, so Christ could not be said to come out of the water, had He not been in. He went up out – had a little water been brought to Him in a basin, He had not been said to go up out of it. Of the water – this water was the river of Jordan: Christ stoops to notice small things because they were connected with a divine ordinance.
7. Note, concerning Christ’s baptism, the Father’s acceptance,
Matt. 3.16, 17. The heavens were opened – some of Christ’s followers have found glorious openings of heaven in baptism. The Spirit descended – the very same that is promised to believers in their baptism, Acts 2.38. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost.” Objection. But does every one receive the Holy Ghost who is baptized? Answer. If not, the defect lies not in baptism, but in the want of faith and repentance; without which no ordinance is effectual. “And lo, a voice from heaven. This is my beloved Son” – Christ, as head of His Church, was sealed for the whole body; and in baptism the sonship of His members is held forth. “In him I am well pleased” – not only in all He has done and does but in this very act of baptism, as an act of obedience to my glorious will, “I am well pleased”, and so is the Lord well pleased with the same act of obedience in all believers, wherein from the heart we obey the form of doctrine delivered to us, Rom. 6.17. This same voice bore witness to the blessed Son of God in the mount, saying, “This is my beloved Son: hear him”., Luke 9.35. Hear Him in His commands and appointments. Hear Him now in His baptism. Oh, says Christ, thus it becometh us; you that have my Father for your Father, you that have my God for your God. Thus it becometh us to be baptized and to fulfil all righteousness. He is God’s beloved Son, hear Him.
8. Note, how in Christ’s baptism the Trinity meets; the Father speaks with a voice, the Son is baptized in person, the Holy Ghost descends like a dove. And surely one reason, why baptism specially is to be administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is because he who sincerely believes and is baptized, has the whole trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit, for his portion. The glorious union of the Trinity, in Christ’s baptism, is in every believer’s baptism commemorated, and therefore it deserves to be reverently thought about. He that despises an ordinance in which that sacred Name is named should beware lest he be found guilty of taking the Name of the Lord in vain.