JAMES E. QUAW, A. M., V.D.M.
By Jeff Paton
the law and to the testimony—Isa. 8: 20.
all things according to the pattern—Heb. 8: 5.
is mighty and will prevail—Tertulian.
who hates truth shall be the dupe of lies—Cowper.
From the Editor: This is a most
intriguing title which certainly rises to the task that it sets out to do! For
those that are truly open to truth, few will say that after reading this that
they were not in some way better “instructed." Some may see that author
as being repetitive, but I soon realized the method in which he employed. Under
every topic he has a new direction or basis in which he is arguing the topic.
Many writers refuse to repeat a point that they have already made to avoid any
appearance of repetition. Our author appears to regroup, and with each
successive angle, he applies any and all evidences and proofs to the
angle at hand. This benefits the reader who would scan for the topic that
interests them, then reads only that section. The author, by the virtue of
regrouping, leaves nothing out of a section in favor of brevity. One does not
have to worry whether they will give any and all proofs because they were
mentioned elsewhere. This makes the book a perfect "pick up and start
reading where you want" book that is up to the task.
This book was written in a western log-cabin; in a room which, at one and the same time, answered for a study, a parlor, a sitting-room, a dining-hall, bed-room, and kitchen. The hours which, for six or eight months, the Author could spare from the discharge of the duties of a New Testament Bishop, he has, in this rather romantic study, devoted lo this work. The reader must determine whether they have or have not been profitably employed. That the work required labor will be manifest to those who may read it with care. Indeed, this is evident from the single fact, that to complete it on the plan which the Author adopted, more or less words from twelve foreign languages, ancient and modern, have been introduced into the work.
This work was written to remove the rubbish that learning and ignorance and learned ignorance have thrown round a plain Scriptural truth and duty; and then to place these clearly before the reader's mind, with the evidence in their favor. It has not been- written in answer to any hook, or in opposition to- any class of men. The subject of baptism has been examined with some degree of care. What men have said in favor or immersion being the only mode of baptism, has been brought to the test of truth and examined. Their assertions, as a substitute for Scriptural evidence, often, when examined, appear ridiculous. But when this is the case, the fault is not in the truth, or in those who present it to the mind ; both, in those who, by mistake or otherwise, substitute unsupported assertions for Divine Revelation.
If this work is noticed publicly, by the friends or enemies of Divine truth, not with- sneers, assertions or questions, but by facts and arguments which point out any error in the proof presented, or in the positions taken, the Author will be much obliged to those- who do so. This will enable him to correct any mistakes or errors which it may contain. Those who "gnaw at the cover," quibble at trifles, or misrepresent what it contains, will only show what they would do if they could. That no man ever has or ever can prove immersion to be the only Scriptural mode of baptism, is certain; because the Word of God makes no such declaration in any form of expression. But notwithstanding this, when errors are discovered in the following work, the Author will cheerfully correct them.
This book, like
most others, will, no doubt, fall into the hands of different kinds of readers.
Some of these will be prejudiced, and therefore will not judge correctly. Some
will be cynical. These can discover faults whether the book does or does not
contain any. But such persons can neither discover nor correct real errors or
mistakes. Those who are very ignorant
will of course be very severe in their censures. The jealous will judge
maliciously. The envious will judge with a jaundiced eye and an envenomed heart.
Some who hate God's truth on this subject, will rage like the sea in a storm;
while others among them will scatter their silent venom like the poison tree of
fabulous notoriety. But such persons as love Divine
truth, wherever they discover it, will examine candidly, judge impartially, and
discover and correct errors with discretion; while they will perceive and acknowledge
the force of evidence where it
That the Bible is the only Rule in all religious duties, is a grand mark of distinction between Christians and others. To admit that any deviation from this rule, is a part of Christianity, is to declare virtually, that the Bible is defective, and that men are wiser than God. If the Bible is a perfect rule, it cannot be made better by any additions or omissions which men may suggest. Deviations from its perfect requirements cannot be holy; they must be sinful. Since the wisdom of God is revealed in his word; none can forsake this without admitting practically, that they prefer the wisdom of men to that of God. Those who take the Bible for their only rule in all religious duties, have perfect wisdom to direct them. Its teaching is plain, positive and uncompromising. It does not teach opposite and contradictory sentiments. In its declarations, we have more than the opinions of men; we have the authority of God. Those who take the scriptures of truth for their only rule in all religious duties,
Ascertain the exact meaning of its words.
They take the words in their literal signification, unless the context or
parallel passages require them to be used figuratively.
In figurative expressions, they deviate as little as possible from the literal
signification of the words.
What the scriptures teach, they take for positive proof on all religious
What the scriptures require, and that only, they receive and practice as parts
of their religion.
What the scriptures forbid, they do not practice for any purpose; certainly not
as a part of their religion.
On the subject of baptism, therefore, the scriptures only can be recognized as authority to which all are bound to submit.
Bible Baptism is, by many competent judges, said to be the most valuable work written on the subject of which it treats. Moreover, it is the only one in print which discusses the subject of baptism in all its various parts. They also affirm that it ought to be in the hands of every man, woman and child who can read the English language. But the publisher says; read the book. It will recommend itself.
WITH WATER TAUGHT IN THE WORD
1. The Scriptures definitely teach that baptism with water was required by Divine authority. John the Baptist repeatedly declares, in the most positive language, that he baptized "with water.” His language on this subject is; "I baptize with water;" I am "come baptizing with water;" He—"sent me to baptize with water;" John 1: 26. 31. 33. Mat. 3: 11. Mark 1: 8, Luke, 3: 16.: Acts 10: 47., Acts 8: 36.; Matt. 28:19.
"I indeed baptize you with water." That John, by Divine authority, used water in baptism, is as definitely taught by the language just quoted, as it is possible for words to leach any fact whatever. To deny therefore, that John baptized "with water," cannot be less than a positive denial of the plain declarations of God's word.
2. The disciples of Christ baptized with water after His resurrection. The language of Peter recorded by Divine inspiration, teaches this truth. It is this; "Can any man forbid water that" Cornelius and his friends" should not be baptized ?" The language of the Eunuch teaches the same fact; "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Both these statements, in relation to the use of water in baptism, were made some time after the resurrection of Christ; and in each of them the fact that the disciples used water in baptism, is most clearly taught.
3. The commission to baptize shown that, baptism with water was intended. In this Christ says; "Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them." Here the disciples are required to administer baptism. They did baptize as they are here required to do. They administered the very ordinance included in this command. But as they did not, and could not baptize with the Holy Ghost, that being the work of a Divine person, and as they did baptize as the commission directed; they must therefore have baptized with water. When the Apostles administered the baptism mentioned in their commission, it is manifest that they then baptized not with the Holy Spirit, but with water.
4. Persons were commanded by the Apostles to be baptized with water. Peter "commanded" Cornelius and his friends after "the Holy Ghost fell on them," "to be baptized" by some person or persons authorized to administer the ordinance of baptism. As these persons had already been renewed by the power of the Spirit, and made new creatures, when Peter commanded them to be baptized, the command must have required them to be baptized with water. When Peter, with the eleven, on "the day of Pentecost," preached to the "men of Judea," and to all those who dwelt " at Jerusalem," and commanded them to "Repent and be baptized," and declared that they should " receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," It is manifest that the baptism here mentioned is distinct from repentance, and from " the gift of the Holy Ghost." This baptism therefore must have been with water, not with the Spirit; because these are mentioned as really different from each other. Besides, Peter, with the eleven, would not command the Holy Ghost to baptize persons; and if the command were given to men and executed by them, then the baptism must have been with water, not with the Holy Ghost; for baptism with the Holy Ghost, is the work of a Divine person, not of men.
WITH WATER TO CONTINUE TILL
THE END OF TIME
is no evidence that baptism with
water is to be discontinued. If the whole scriptures should be searched,
not a single passage could be found that would teach either directly or
indirectly, that baptism with water was to cease
in any age of the New Testament church. But, since it
was administered by Divine authority; and since God has not, in any passage of
scripture, directed men to discontinue the practice of baptizing with water, and
since there is nothing in baptism itself
to limit its duration, therefore to lay aside that ordinance, is a practical
repeal, by men, of a Divine law. No man can do this without great guilt in the
sight of God. Baptism with
water must therefore be continued in the
2. The commission to baptize teaches that baptism with water is to continue till the end of time. The commission to baptize includes the promise; " Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." In this promise, Christ engages to be with those whom he commissions to teach and baptize. The duration of the commission is also mentioned. It is to be in force till "the end of the world." But since the whole commission is to be in force till the end of time ; therefore that part of it which requires the Apostles and their successors in office to be baptized with water, must remain as long in force. As the same commission requires Christ's ministering servants to teach and baptize with water; the duty to teach and baptize must continue together or cease at the same period. But teaching is to continue till the end of time; and therefore baptism with water, required in the same commission which requires ministers to teach, must also continue till the end of time.
3. Inspired men teach that baptism with water is to continue till the end of time. These baptized with water after the resurrection of Christ. This shows that they understood what their commission required them to do. They thus taught that they knew that baptism with water was an ordinance in the church, which did not cease to be binding at the death or resurrection of Christ. Nor, as inspired men, could they be mistaken in this matter. Thus baptism with water was, by the example of inspired men, handed down to the church; and by the church it has been practiced ever since the New Testament dispensation of it commenced, till the present day. Those who do and will after follow the same inspired instructions and examples, will baptize with water " even unto the end of the world."
4. Baptism with water as a Divine institution, is to continue in the church till the end, of time. Our Savior in his mediatorial character instituted the ordinance of Christian baptism. He claims this character in the expression; "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." In his human nature merely, he could not have received all this "power;" in his Divine nature merely he possessed it already; but in his human and Divine natures united in one person, he could and did receive "all power." In this character he gives the commission to teach and baptize. He says; "All power is given unto me—Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them." Because he possessed all power, he directed them to teach and baptize. This commission therefore is of Divine authority. All it contains is therefore Divinely instituted. It requires baptism with water to continue till the end of time; and therefore whenever and wherever this ordinance is administered "according to Christ's appointment" and by his authority, the administration is in obedience to a Divine command; and therefore the ordinance thus administered is always a Divine institution.
ADMINISTERED BY DIVINE
AUTHORITY BEFORE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
Israelites were "baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea."
This baptism was administered about 1491 years
before the birth of Christ. About 50 years after his birth, we are informed that
the Jews were all "under the cloud and all passed through the sea;"
and that they "were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the
God had not told us in his word, that the Israelites were baptized "in the
cloud and in the sea," we would not have even conjectured that the cloud
passing over them and pouring
"out water" upon them, was baptism;
or that they, passing through the sea on "dry ground," were
baptized. But this was baptism
and this account in Exodus is the most ancient record existing that mentions baptism.
In this baptism, no
human hand administered the ordinance. But God himself baptized the nation of
2. This baptism was typical. We are informed that a number of things among which this baptism "unto Moses," is mentioned, "were our examples;" and "happened unto them for ensamples." These things therefore were intended to symbolize certain occurrences in New Testament times. Baptism unto Moses is especially mentioned as one of these. It was therefore a typical or symbolical baptism. It may have typified Christian baptism.
3. This baptism was expressive of the union of the Israelites to Moses as their leader. They were "baptized unto" (Greek sis to, in or into) him. This expression indicates, not that they were all entirely covered over in the body of Moses; but that they were thus united to him as their leader and law-giver, under God their king. By receiving this baptism, they publicly recognized this as their relation to Moses. God, by administering this baptism to them, gave his solemn sanction to this their union. Therefore this relation to Moses as their leader was, not only expressed by this baptism, but it also in this ordinance received the Divine approbation.
4. In this baptism, their obedience to Moses was indicated. Obedience to the person or being, in, unto, to or into whom or in whose name, the ordinance is administered, is always recognized as due from the baptized. He who administers baptism or requires others to do so, essentially demands obedience from those to whom it is administered. This obedience is to be rendered to him in whose name or unto whom they are baptized. When God requires this obedience; the baptized are always bound to render it; because the requirement is then always just; and obedience therefore always proper. Hence, when the Israelites were baptized to, in, unto or into Moses; they were under baptismal obligations to render him personal and prompt obedience.
DIVERS BAPTISMS.1. These baptisms were Old Testament washings. The "gifts and sacrifices" in Old Testament times, it is said, "stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings" or baptisms," and carnal ordinances." In the Greek, these "divers washings" are expressly called baptisms. They are also mentioned as belonging exclusively to the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant, and including all its ceremonial washings. Of these washings or baptisms, three specimens are definitely named. Two of these are with blood and one with water. These are all mentioned as ceremonial purifications. With one or both these fluids, the "unclean,"—"the book and, all the people,"—"the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry," were ceremonially purified. The various ceremonial washings therefore belonging to the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant are, by the Holy Spirit, called "Divers baptisms.'' In this expression they are all included.
2. These "Divers baptisms" were numerous. If any type of ceremonial washing existed among the Israelites before the days of Moses, they are not definitely mentioned in the word of God; nor are any kind of washings before this, called baptisms. But from the time the Passover was instituted, 1491 years before Christ, till he suffered on the cross; these washings which the Holy Ghost calls " baptisms" were so numerous that under "the law almost all things," were "purged with blood," and some with water. To produce ceremonial purification, blood was applied to "the altar,"— to "the people,"—to "the tabernacle,"—to "the vessels of the ministry ;" and for the same purpose it was frequently applied to other things. Water also was used in cleansing the "leper,"—the Israelites' "clothes,"—"Aaron and his sons,"—the other "Levites," and in several other instances. It is manifest therefore, that these "divers washings" or baptisms among the Israelites, were very numerous.
3. Certain vessel? Under special circumstances were to be cleansed by these washings or baptisms. If "the pot" in which the "sin-offering" was "sodden," was made of brass, it was to be thus ceremonially purified with "water." Vessels for ordinary use, into which any "unclean" reptile might fall; or those "of wood" touched by a person who had an "issue," were also to be cleansed ceremonially with "water," and the various other ceremonial washings or baptisms mentioned with Divine approbation in the Old Testament, the Israelites had the positive command of God. It ought also to be continually borne in mind that all these washings are, by the Holy Spirit, denominated baptisms.
BY DIVINE AUTHORITY DURING
CHRIST'S MINISTRY ON EARTH
the Baptist was a truly great man. Before he was born, the angel who
foretold his birth, declared of him; “He shall be great in the sight of the
Lord." That he was all that “Gabriel" said he would be, will be
manifest to any person who will examine what God, in His word, says of him. John
was, (1.) by birth a Jewish Priest. He was the
son of Zacharias, a priest "of the course of Abia." And because he was
a priest's son, he was by the Levitical law, "consecrated to minister"
to God "in the priest's office." (2.) He was Elias or Elijah, not
in person, but in spirit and in power. When the Jews said to him; "Art thou
Elias I" meaning Elias or Elijah in person; “he saith, “I am not."
The angel speaking of him before his birth, said; "He shall go before"
the Lord” in the spirit and power of Elias." Our Saviour says of John the
Baptist; "This is Elias which was for to come;" that is, this is he
who was "to come" in the spirit and power of Elias, according to the
prediction of the prophet. (3.) He was the harbinger or forerunner of Christ.
God says; "Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way
before me." This is, by our Saviour, applied to John as being
“written" of him. He was also, in his very infancy, addressed in this
language; " And thou, child—shalt go before the face of the Lord, to
prepare his way." (4.) "He was a burning and a shining light."
He is so called by his Great Master; because, both by precept and example,
he clearly reflected the bright beams of "the Sun of righteousness."
(5.) He was a "voice." As such he directed the attention of the
Jews to himself, and from himself to the Lord Jesus Christ. (6.) He
was “a prophet,"—" the prophet of the Highest." In this
character, he predicted that Christ would very soon appear in public as the
Messiah so often foretold by other prophets. (7.) He was "more than a
prophet." He was a prophet; a priest; a light; a voice; the forerunner
of Christ, &c. To be all this, is to be "much more than a prophet,
"(8.) He was inferior to none who lived before him. On this point
Jesus Christ declares; "Among them that are born of women, there hath not
risen a greater than John the Baptist."(9.) He was a martyr. For his
faithfulness in reproving Herod for his sins, he was first "cast into
prison" and then "beheaded." He was the last, in all probability,
who suffered death for his religion, before the Great Sacrifice was offered on
the cross.(10.) The "least in the
2. John the Baptist lived
and died under the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant. This is
undeniably certain from a number of facts stated in the word of God. (1.) Old
Testament ordinances continued in force till the death of Christ. These were
circumcision and the Passover. Being ordinances peculiar to the Old Testament,
they could remain in force only during that dispensation. Of the last Passover,
Christ, just before his crucifixion, says to his disciples; "With desire I
have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you,
I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of
God:"— and " I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the
kingdom of God shall come." This language clearly indicates that "the
kingdom of God" here mentioned, had not come, or commenced, when this was
spoken; nor that the typical Passover of the Old Testament was at that time
fulfilled in Christ our Passover," who was not then yet sacrificed for
us." But in the death of Christ, its whole design was completed. It was
then swallowed up in the great Antitype. The prophecies were completely
fulfilled at the death of Christ, our paschal "Lamb slain," in the
purpose of God, “from the foundation of the world.” As Christ eat the
Passover which was an Old Testament ordinance, a very short time before he
suffered on the cross; so whatever took place before his death must have been
under that dispensation, of which the Passover was an ordinance or a part. John
the Baptist was "beheaded" before Christ eat the last Passover;
therefore he lived and died under the Old Testament dispensation, while the
paschal ordinance was legally in force. (2.) John, in his preaching, taught
definitely that the New Testament dispensation of the covenant had not then
commenced. That which is “at hand," is near; within reach; but is not
yet in possession. “The
3. John Baptized. This appears, (1.) from his title. He is called the Baptist, because he baptized. (2.) He himself declares that he baptized. He repeatedly says; "I baptize with water." (3.) John the Evangelist, with other sacred writers, teaches that he baptized "in Bethabara"—'"in Enon..," (4.) "The baptism of John" is often mentioned in scripture, as a fact universally known and admitted- From evidence such as this, none who believe the scriptures to be the word of God, can hesitate to admit that John baptized.
4. John's authority to baptize was Divine. That this was the case, is proved, (1.) from the general evidence given in the account of his life and character contained in the Holy Scriptures. (2.) It is also expressly declared that he was "sent from God,"—"sent to baptize"—and that “the word of God came unto John." This language shows clearly that his commission to baptize was Divine. (3.) Jesus Christ informs us that John's authority to baptize, was "from Heaven" or Divine. This he does in the question; " The baptism of John, whence was it? From Heaven or of men?" This interrogatory affirmation is equivalent to a positive declaration that John's baptism was "from Heaven;" or that he baptized by Divine authority. His commission to baptize was therefore ''from God."
5. God the Father, as his personal act, commissioned John to baptize. This fact John himself teaches. He declares; “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." This account which John gives of his commission, shows clearly that his authority to baptize was not derived from the Son or Spirit as the personal act of either; and that therefore, since this his authority was Divine, it must have been obtained from the Father, as his personal act.
6. John's commission to baptize did not include succession. He had no right to transfer to others his authority to baptize. The commission which includes succession, not only permits, but absolutely requires this. In his commission, it is stated that John was "sent from God;" that he was "sent to baptize;" but not the least intimation is given in any portion of the word of God, that John was required, authorized or permitted, to send or commission others to baptize ; or that at any time he did or attempted to do so.
was to “decrease." Speaking of himself, he
declares; " I must decrease." (1.) He was to decrease in influence,
as the moon's influence decreases when the sun rises. (2.) He was to
decrease in usefulness, as the bright rays of the sun renders the pale
moon-beams of little or no value; or as the harbinger's work is done when his
lord whom he
announced, has appeared.(3.) The number of his disciples was to decrease.
His public ministry was soon ended; and then he could baptize, in person, no
more disciples. He had no authority to empower others to baptize and
therefore the disciples whom he baptized must soon pass into the eternal world
and leave no others to occupy their place. (4.) His office of forerunner of
Christ was to decrease in importance as the Messiah became more and
more manifest to Israel; till at last it would entirely cease when all its
duties were completely discharged; that is, when Christ was fully and
clearly pointed out to the Jews. John was to decrease. It cannot be,
therefore, that every person who is baptized increases by one, the number
of his followers, or "disciples;" as those whom he baptized are
called. (5.) John's commission to
baptize was special in its design. An important part of this design was to
make the Lord Jesus Christ "manifest to
baptism was intended for the
Jews only. This we learn, (l.) by knowing the situation of the
places where he baptized. He baptized "in Bethabara beyond
10. John's baptism was peculiar to himself. It was administered by him and by no other person. This appears, (1.) from the fact that, by his commission, he, and no other person, was authorized to baptize. His baptism, without Divine authority, would have been mere mockery. Hence we are informed that God sent him to baptize; so that he was empowered to administer this baptism. But no person before or after him, had or has Divine authority to administer the same baptismal rite that John administered; therefore his baptism was peculiar to himself. (2.) The name by which it is called, proves this fact. It is often denominated "John's baptism" and "the baptism of John ;" but it is not specified in scripture by any other distinguishing appellation. Since therefore it is properly called "John's baptism" or "the baptism of John," and is not known in the word of God by any other name; his baptism must have been peculiar to himself. (3.) His title proves that his baptism was peculiar to himself. He is entitled "the Baptist. "
John, and no other person named in the whole word of God, is called the "Baptist." Though many others baptized, yet no other one received this title. Since therefore he only of all that baptized in scripture times, was called "the Baptist;" therefore his baptism, from the administration of which he was entitled "the Baptist," must have been peculiar to himself. If it were not so, others who baptized as, well as John, would also, in the word of God, have been called Baptists. Had not the baptism of others been essentially distinct from that of John, they would have deserved and received the same title that John did. (4.) Of those whom he baptized he chose some as his immediate followers. These are often called "his disciples." They were called “John's disciples;” because he baptized them, and then received them under his immediate care as their instructor. They would not have been called "his disciples," any more than the disciples of any other man, had not his baptism been peculiar to himself. It appears therefore from John's commission, it being confined to himself; from the fact that his baptism is called by his own name; from his title; and from the distinctive appellation given to his immediate followers whom he baptized; that his baptism was of a special kind, peculiar to himself.
11. John did not baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." In the administration of Christian baptism, this form is indispensable. But in John's baptism it was not used. This is manifest from the fact that some who had been baptized unto “John’s baptism"—" had not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." If John had baptized in the name of the Triune God or used the form prescribed by our Saviour; those whom he baptized, would certainly have heard of the "Holy Ghost;" because in that case this name, as well as that of the Father and Son, would have been mentioned at their baptism.
12. Persons whom John baptized were re-baptized by Apostolic authority. When those who had received John's baptism without hearing of the "Holy Ghost" were instructed by Paul, they were baptized in the name of the "Lord Jesus," not deluding but including the Father and Spirit; as is manifest from the passage here quoted, taken in connection with the commission by which Christ authorized his disciples to baptize. This commission expressly required them to baptize in the name of "the Father" and Spirit as well as "of the Son." None are allowed by the word of God to re-baptize those who had received Christian baptism; but those whom John baptized were re-baptized, therefore John's ' could not have been that baptism which none are authorized to repeat.
Of the "three thousand" baptized "at Jerusalem'' on " the day of Pentecost," it is more than probable that a portion had heard John preach and had been baptized by him. It Would have been scarcely possible to find three thousand persons, at Jerusalem, in a promiscuous assembly, in less than seven years, perhaps less than four from the time John began to preach and baptize, not one of whom had formed a portion of "the multitude" composed of "Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region round about Jordan," who were baptized by John. It is highly probable therefore that not a few of these three thousand who were baptized on "the day of Pentecost," had before received John's baptism. If this was the case, the evidence that John's disciples were re- baptized would be repeated,—but scarcely strengthened; as no language can be more positive and pointed than that already quoted on this subject.
13. John's baptism was not the seal of the covenant into which God entered with his visible church. As he lived and died under the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant (a), during which circumcision and the Passover, not baptism and the Lord's supper, sealed its promises and confirmed other blessings ; so his baptism could not have been its seal. Circumcision then sealed the covenant, and was the mark by which a person's standing in the visible "congregation of the Lord,"|| was at that time known. John was therefore circumcised, and so was the Lord Jesus Christ who was born six months after him. His baptism could not therefore have been the seal of God's covenant entered.
law and the prophets did not end when John appeared.
(1.) The moral law did not cease to be binding at the birth, public
appearance, imprisonment or death of John. That law is of perpetual
obligation as a rule of life; because,” through faith"—" the
law" is not made” void," but "established.(2.) The ceremonial
law continued to be binding till, at the death of Christ, it was nailed "to
His cross;" and but just before this, our Saviour in eating the Passover,
observed a part of the ceremonial law. It was therefore, when he eat the last
Passover, yet in force. (3.) Not a few prophets, besides the Apostles and
Evangelists lived after the death of John; after the-death of Christ. The law
therefore, when John appeared, did not lay aside its binding force; nor did God
then cease to send forth men to prophesy in his name. And, although the Old
Testament scriptures, (often called "the law and the prophets,) were, until
John" appeared, the only Divine revelation which God had then given to man;
yet, it by no means follows that they should at that time, as a matter of
course, cease to be observed, or that no other prophets should appear after
those mentioned in the Old Testament. Moreover, "the law and the prophets
were, until John" came "in the spirit and power of Elias,"
continually pointing the Jewish nation to him as the harbinger of "the
Prince of peace." Besides, "All the prophets and the law prophesied
until John," of him, as a great prophet. He was to be the last prophet
under the legal or Old Testament dispensation; the "Elijah" who was to
appear “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the
Lord;" the one who was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, and
point him out as "the Lamb of God" to guilty
15. The New Testament dispensation did not commence during John's ministry. Ceremonies peculiar to Old Testament times cannot be properly practiced in the New Testament church as religious duties. To do this would confound the legal and gospel dispensations of the covenant. It would bring Christians under "the yoke of" ceremonial "bondage," and would be only to "tempt God," not to serve Him. John, " on the eighth day" after his birth, received circumcision, the Old Testament " seal of the righteousness of—faith." At the time of his circumcision therefore, the Old Testament dispensation yet existed and was in force. Six months after John's circumcision, it still continued; for then Christ was circumcised. He had been born in "the fullness of time." When the time fixed for his birth in the Divine purpose and predicted by the prophets, had fully come, then he was born; and on the eighth day was circumcised. After John's death, our Saviour ate the Passover, an Old Testament ordinance. As therefore circumcision and the Passover which, as religious ordinances, were peculiar to the Old Testament, were in force till after John's death; the New Testament dispensation, the sealing ordinances of which are not circumcision and the Passover, could not have commenced during or before his public ministry. Besides, John lived and died under the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant and therefore before the New commenced; for none will maintain that a person can live and die under the Old Testament dispensation and yet live under the New; for a person cannot live under a dispensation which does not commence till after his death.
When Paul, about nineteen years after the death of Christ, "took and circumcised" Timothy, it was " because of the Jews," not because circumcision was then a religious duty; for then "circumcision" was " nothing;" though formerly it had been the external "seal" or "token of the covenant" entered into between God and his visible people Nor is it intimated that the circumcision of Timothy was intended as a religious rite, but merely as an act which, at that time, was in itself completely indifferent. It cannot therefore be adduced as a proof that in New Testament times, circumcision may or must he practiced as a religious rite.
During John's ministry the New Testament dispensation did not commence; because (1.) circumcision, as a religious duty, was practiced during his life; (2.) the Passover was, after his death, observed as an Old Testament ordinance; (3.) he lived and died under the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant.
16. The New Testament dispensation did not commence till all the types had been fulfilled in the Antitype. In the Old Testament, many types are mentioned. Some of these have special reference to the death of Christ for their fulfillment. The whole paschal sacrifice was typical of Christ who, as “our Passover," was " sacrificed for us" on the cross. The fact that "a bone of" the Pascal lamb was not to "be broken," was a typical prophecy, which was fulfilled when a bone of Christ was not broken on the cross. These Old Testament types, referring specially to the death of Christ, could not have their complete fulfillment in any event before or after his crucifixion. In that event, and in that only, could these types meet in the Great Antitype. Before this event therefore, the Old Testament dispensation of which these types were a part, did not and could not end, nor the New commence.
The expression, "the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God," does not signify that when John appeared, then the gospel first began to be preached; for about nineteen hundred years before this. "The gospel" was preached “unto Abraham." It was also “preached to the Israelites in the wilderness. Moreover "the gospel of Jesus Christ" was preached when, in the first promise, it was said, the seed of the woman, the Redeemer of sinners. He "shall bruise" the serpent's "head." The gospel therefore instead of being first preached when John began his public ministry, had been preached four thousand years before he was born. Nor does the language used in this passage teach that when John appeared, the gospel was first preached; or that it was not preached before; or that then the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant ended; or that the New or Gospel dispensation, then commenced.
17. John did not sustain the office of a minister of the New Testament church. This appears, (1.) From the fact that John was beheaded before the office of the New Testament ministry was instituted. It was not till after the resurrection of our Saviour, that he said to "the eleven disciples" and to their successors in the ministerial office; "Go ye—and teach all nations." John was not one of "the eleven ;" nor was he one of their successors; for he was " beheaded" more than a year and a half before Christ rose from the dead. As John died before the office of the Christian ministry was instituted; so he could not have sustained that office. (2.) John was an Old Testament priest, and died under that dispensation; therefore, his was not the office of a New Testament minister. (3.) John's commission did not include succession; it could not therefore be that of a New Testament minister, which does include succession. (4.) It was confined to the Jews; and hence it was not the New Testament ministerial commission which extends to the Gentiles. (5.) His baptism was not administered in the name of the Trinity; and (6.) The subjects of it were re-baptized; his commission to baptize could not therefore have been that of a minister of the New Testament dispensation of the church. It is manifest then that John's office was not that of a New Testament minister, by which those sustaining it, ore authorized to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
18. John's baptism was not the Christian sacrament called baptism. To the very existence of the ordinance of Christian baptism, several things are indispensably necessary. (1.) He who administers it, must live at least a part of his life, during the Christian dispensation; because a man cannot administer any ordinance after his death. John died before the Christian dispensation commenced, and while that of the Old Testament continued. The baptism therefore which he administered could not be the Christian sacrament of baptism ; because he lived no part of his life during the Christian dispensation. (2.) Christian baptism was not instituted till after John's death. Like the office of the Christian ministry, it was instituted after Christ’s resurrection. And as John's death preceded that of the Saviour, it must have preceded the institution of the Christian ordinance of baptism ; because this last did not precede but followed the death of Christ. John could not then administer an ordinance which was not instituted till some time after his death. (3.) He did not baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.". In this name, and in this only, can Christian baptism be administered; therefore, John's, since it was not administered in this name, could not have been Christian baptism. (4.) John's baptism was repeated by apostolic authority, therefore, John's was not Christian baptism ; for this is not to be repeated. (5.) It was not the Son but the Father by whom John was sent to baptize; his, therefore, was not Christian baptism. (6.)
instead of being the ordinance of Christian baptism,
very little in common with that sacrament (a). It is perfectly manifest then,
that his was not Christian baptism.
it is supposed to be; whether it is considered as one of the "divers
washings" or baptisms of the Jews; or as an ordinance peculiar to himself
as the harbinger of Christ, in the morning-twilight of the gospel or New
Testament day, just as the darkness of the ancient dispensation was beginning to
break away; one thing is certain; his was not the Christian sacrament of baptism.
TO JESUS CHRIST
standing of Jesus Christ in the covenant, was recognized by circumcision, not by
baptism. This we may learn,
(1.) From the fact that circumcision was the "seal of the righteous
of—faith,"—the " token of the covenant," when he was
"eight days" old. He was then circumcised. By thus receiving this seal
of the covenant, he was publicly recognized and registered as a visible member
of " The congregation of the Lord," as one of Jehovah's professed
" people"—" Israel." (2.) The Jews are called “His
own" people; because, among other reasons, he was a circumcised descendant
of Abram. He was therefore in his human nature a member of the Jewish nation. By
birth he was a Jew. His standing therefore in the covenant made with Abram,
must, like that of other Jews, during that dispensation, have been recognized by
circumcision. (3.) Jesus Christ is expressly called "A minister of the
circumcision, "Being circumcised and being a minister of the circumcision,
both intimate that his standing in the covenant made with Abram was recognized
by circumcision. (4.) He eat the Passover several times during his life; and
also just before his death. By this, it is clearly taught that the Old Testament
ordinances remained in full force till his death; and therefore circumcision did
not, before that event, cease to be the seal or "token of the
covenant." (5.) His covenant relation to the visible people of God, was
recognized by circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth; and he was not
baptized till he was "about thirty years of age." Hence his standing
in the visible
Christ was baptized by John. This fact is several times recorded by the
inspired writers. "Jesus" came from
3. Jesus Christ did not receive John's baptism in the same sense that others did. John's was to the Jews, “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." They were baptized "unto repentance," confessed "their sins," and were required to “bring forth fruits meet for repentance." In the very act of receiving his baptism, they publicly professed all this. Those therefore whom John baptized, (except our Saviour,) professed, by receiving his baptism, to repent of their sins, confessed them and were to prove the sincerity of their repentance in those appropriate " fruits," by bringing forth which, they corrected the evils of which they had been guilty. Since Jesus Christ was “holy, harmless, undefiled,'' and "separate from sinners;" and since he "did no sin;" He had no sins to repent of and confess, to forsake and correct. His baptism therefore could not have been "unto repentance for the remission of sins," as was that of other Jews. He did not then receive John's baptism in the same sense that others did. When therefore John baptized Christ, and when he baptized others; the baptism had an essentially different signification.
4. Jesus Christ did not receive the ordinance of Christian baptism. This appears, (1.) from the fact that Christian baptism was not instituted till after Christ was baptized; nor indeed till some time after the death of John who administered the ordinance of baptism to him. His, therefore, could not have been Christian baptism. (2.) Christ received John's baptism. This was not the ordinance of Christian baptism. As the baptism which he received was John's, his, therefore, was not the ordinance of Christian baptism. (3.) It is improper to baptize a person in his own name; because the baptized, in the very act of receiving the ordinance, come under baptismal engagements to render obedience to him in whose name the baptism is administered. For a person to engage to render obedience to himself, and enter into a solemn obligation to do so, would be but solemn trifling. But if Christ was baptized in his own name, he thereby came under solemn baptismal engagements to obey himself personally. Of such trifling, Christ was not, could not be guilty. He was not therefore, baptized in his own name; and if he was not, then his was not the ordinance of Christian baptism; for this must be administered in the name of the Son as well as of the Father and Spirit. But it was very consistent with propriety for Christ, in a way peculiar to himself, to receive John's baptism, which was not administered in the name of the Trinity. It is evident then, that Christ's was not the Christian ordinance of baptism. (4.) Christian baptism supposes sin in the person baptized. Where there is no sin, none can be washed away; nor can the sign of the washing away of sin, in such a case, have any appropriate signification. As Christ was personally and perfectly free from sinful defilement in nature and in practice, his could not be the ordinance of Christian baptism; because this last symbolizes, among other things, the washing away of sin by the blood and Spirit of Christ. As he had no personal sins, he did not suffer for himself; "but he was wounded for our transgressions; He was delivered for our offences;"—" He did for the ungodly;"—for "sinners." (5.) He did not need Christian baptism. As Christ was inherently holy, neither His own sufferings, nor the renewing grace of the Spirit, could be necessary to make him so. He did not need these in any degree, for his own personal purification; and therefore he did not need, could not, properly speaking, receive their external sign in the ordinance of Christian baptism. Where the thing signified cannot in any degree exist in the nature of things, the external sign must be inappropriate. Christ being personally holy, did not need, and could not receive, the regenerating, converting, renewing grace of the Holy Spirit. He could not then with propriety receive Christian baptism which includes the symbolical representation of these. (6.) Christ's ministry on earth was under the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant. He "was a minister of the circumcision;" He observed the Old Testament ordinances of circumcision and the Passover; and with his expiring breath, he said; "It is finished." All this shows conclusively that his ministry on earth was under the Old Testament dispensation. But Christian baptism was not an Old Testament ordinance; the baptism therefore which he received during His ministry on earth, could not be the New Testament ordinance of baptism.
5. Jesus Christ was a Priest. (1.) He is often so called. He is said to be "a priest,"—" a priest for ever,"—" a high priest,"—"a great high priest,"—"a priest after the order of Melchisedec." (2.) He is said to have a "priesthood.": None but a priest can have a priesthood. (3.) As a priest, "he offered himself without spot unto God? He was offered to bear the sins of many;"—"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." This language and much more similar to it, teaches definitely that the Lord Jesus Christ was, and is, and will continue to be, a priest.
was, by his baptism,
set apart to
his priestly office. He was a priest. As such, he, in order
to comply with the Divine law, must be set apart to his office according to its
requirements. The moral law did not require water to be applied to persons for
any purpose; neither did the civil law of the Jews. No
part of the ceremonial law required the application of water to persons before,
at or after, they were "thirty years of age" as a religious ordinance,
except that which required the priests to be thus set apart to their office.
These were at first to serve “from thirty years old—until fifty years
old." In after ages, they were required to serve “from- the age of twenty
years and upwards." But before any of them could legally engage in
officiating as priests, they must observe the law relating to their
consecration. They must be, by Divine authority, set apart to their office. Therefore
Jesus Christ, when he was "about thirty years of age," in giving the
reason why he was then to be baptized or have water applied to him, says, it was
"to fulfill all righteousness." "To fulfill all
righteousness" is simply to
comply perfectly with every portion of a righteous law. As Jesus Christ
came into the world to fulfill perfectly every part of the Divine law; so, in
entering on the public discharge of what the office of a priest required, he
would comply with the Divine direction given to the Levitical priests by the
ministry of Moses. God commanded Moses to "wash" Aaron and his
sons "with water;" and he "washed them with water." Here the
priests are commanded to be washed with water. To comply with this law, our
Saviour must be washed with water in some mode, before he could legally enter
publicly upon his priestly office. These passages do not mention the mode by
which the priests were to be washed, but another does. It is this; "
Thus shalt thou do unto them to cleanse them; sprinkle
water of purifying upon them." The Levites then, including the
family of Aaron, were all to be washed by having "water of purifying" sprinkled
on them when they were about to begin to minister in holy things. When Christ
was about thirty years old, he was so far advanced in life that no one on
account of his age could deny his right to enter publicly upon the office of a
priest. But to
enter this office legally, he must be baptized, or have water applied to him by
a Levite of the family of Aaron, or of some other family. John was by birth a
priest, and therefore as such, as well as from his office of prophet, and that
of Christ's forerunner (a), he was a proper person to set apart legally, the Son
of God to his
priestly office. For this purpose water must be applied to him, according to the
provisions of the Levitical law.
He was not taken to " the door of the tabernacle ; for that was a mere
circumstance, essential to the ordinance only when it was mentioned, and at no
time connected with it only while the tabernacle stood. Since, therefore, our
Saviour was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness," or in other
words, to comply with the requirements of a just law; and since no law, except
that which required the priests to be washed with water, required persons, at or
about the age of thirty, to have water applied to them as an ordinance; it
follows as an undeniable inference that he was baptized in order to be legally
set apart to his priestly office.
7. To complete his consecration as a priest, Christ was anointed. The Levitical priests were to be anointed “throughout their generations." God said to Moses, "thou shalt anoint" Aaron;—" thou shalt anoint" his sons; and "Moses took of the anointing oil—and sprinkled it upon Aaron—and upon his sons." From these and similar expressions it appears that the priests, Aaron and his sons, throughout their generations, were to be anointed with oil as a part of their consecration to qualify them to discharge publicly the duties of their office. The Lord Jesus Christ, when he was about to enter publicly upon his priestly office, was also anointed. He is (1.) called the "anointed" of the Lord. (2.) He is often called the "Messiah" and "the Christ." The word Messiah in Hebrew and the word Christ in Greek, each denote the anointed. (3.) He is said to be "anointed;" (4.) To be "anointed with the oil of gladness;" (5.) In this anointing, "the Spirit" was given him "without measure;" (6.) "The Lord".—"God," the Father " anointed" him with the Spirit that Christ might legally act as a priest, he was not only baptized; but he was also anointed with the Holy Spirit. This anointing was infinitely superior to that of mere oil. Our Saviour therefore was in every respect legally set apart for the public discharge of the functions of the priesthood. For this purpose, he was baptized; for this he was anointed.
was not baptized as a substitute for his people. It is not said in any
part of the word of God, that he was baptized for that purpose. To say that he
was, is therefore to turn aside from the scriptures as a rule of duty (a). It
is often stated that he died to save "his people," "his
sheep,"— and to be a ransom for "many ;" but
in no passage of scripture, is it said that he was baptized for his people or as
a substitute for them. Moreover, he lived under the Old Testament
dispensation, when the ordinance of Christian baptism was
not required of his people. Hence
they did not need a substitute to do that for them, which they themselves were
not in duly bound to do. Besides, he himself expressly mentions the reason why
he was baptized. To "fulfill all righteousness," not to be a
substitute for his people, is the reason he gives for receiving John's baptism.
Lord Jesus Christ was not therefore baptized as a substitute for his people.
9. He was
not baptized to set an example for his followers. No
such instruction is given in the Holy book of God. Our Saviour
himself definitely declares that he was baptized for a certain purpose. This
was "to fulfill all righteousness," not to set an example for his
followers. He definitely states for what he was baptized. Men tell us that, in
receiving John's baptism, he had a design
different from that which he mentions. He says he was baptized "to fulfill
all righteousness;" men
say, he was baptized to set his followers an example. Which
are we bound to believe ? Jesus Christ ? or mere man ? Christians believe what
Christ says on this subject as well as on others, rather than the mere
assertions of mere men.
10. If Christ, in his baptism,
did set an example, it is not imitated by his followers. To
imitate an example set by a person, is to do what the person did. A number of
things concurred in our Saviour's baptism. (1.) He
"was baptized" by "John;" (2.) "In" or at or near
If his baptism
was intended as an example for his followers, the whole of it must be
imitated. An example must be followed in all its parts. This must be the case,
from its very nature as an example. If the whole is not to be followed;
who is to determine which part of the example is to be imitated, and which is
not if one person, without Divine authority, may refuse to imitate one part of
an example, another person may refuse to imitate another of its parts; and thus,
by different persons, the whole example might be set aside, or be rendered
totally useless. What therefore is given to us as an example, must be imitated
in all its parts, unless God makes exceptions; and then the excepted parts do
not belong in fact to the example. What
is not given as an example for our imitation, we have no right to make such. The
Arian’s deny the supreme deity of Jesus Christ. It is said that in
Even if he were
plunged in the
It is the business of the Christian to take for examples, those actions which the word of .God mentions as such. He has no right to make that an example which the scriptures do not present for our imitation. Christ was circumcised when he was “eight days” old; he was “baptized" when he was “about thirty years of age;” and just before his death he "eat" the "Passover." But not the least hint is given which might lead us to suppose that any one of these his actions, was intended as an example which his followers are to imitate. His baptism we know was not intended for our imitation; because he himself positively declares that his baptism was intended for another purpose. To take it therefore as an example, is, in this matter to net, not only without Divine authority; but it is to act in direct opposition to the positive declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he says, he was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness."
Jesus Christ complied with all the Divine institutions which were in force during his ministry on earth. In this way he honored, as well as "magnified" "the law." In the same manner also, men are bound to comply with all the Divine institutions which are in force during the dispensation under which they live. He introduced none of the traditions of men into religion. He in fact excluded from it, every invention of man. All should do this; because the word of God directs the whole human family in religious duties to go "to the law and to the testimony." It declares, "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." What does not accord with God's word, is destitute of Divine light, and cannot therefore be, or be made by man, a part of Spiritual religion.
CHRIST AND HIS DISCIPLES ADMINISTERED BEFORE HIS RESURRECTION
1. Jesus Christ himself baptized his twelve Apostles. The testimony of God's word is very plain on this point. (1.) It is positively declared that "Jesus and his disciples" came” into the land of Judea and there he tarried with them and baptized, "He came into “Judea" with” his disciples, “tarried with them" and "baptized." If it be asked, whom did he baptize? The answer must be; he baptized "them." If it is asked, who are intended by the word "them?" the answer must be, his disciples." The language when examined is very definite. Jesus Christ therefore baptized his twelve disciples. (2.) The disciples of John in addressing him, teach the same truth. They say to him; " Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness; behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." They declare the fact that Jesus baptized; but they do not say that he baptized all men; nor that he baptized all who came to him. Here then we have another passage to prove the fact that our Saviour administered baptism. (3.) It is also stated that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." Two facts are here presented for our consideration. The first is; Jesus made and baptized disciples; the second, he made and baptized more disciples than John. The immediate followers of Christ were "the twelve." The number of John's immediate disciples or attendants was less than twelve; for Christ's disciples or immediate attendants, were only "twelve," and they exceeded John's in number. John's must therefore have been less than twelve. (4.) Jesus did not baptize any but "the twelve." This is manifest from the fact that when it is said that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John;" it is immediately added, "Jesus baptized not" any others, "but his disciples" did. Our Saviour baptized his twelve disciples in Enon. This is clearly intimated, if not expressed, in this language; "Jesus—baptized" his disciples;" and John also was baptizing in Enon,"—"and they came and were baptized." To say that John also baptized in Enon, shows that Jesus Christ, who just before is said to have baptized, administered the ordinance in that place as well as John. If he had not, the word also would not have been used in that connection.
2. The twelve Apostles, or at least some of them, baptized before the resurrection of Christ. This is taught in the expression, "Jesus—baptized not but his disciples;" that is, "his disciples" baptized. Who were baptized by the twelve, we are not informed. They may, however, have baptized the "seventy" disciples, or the "hundred and twenty," whom Peter addressed immediately after the ascension of Christ. A part of these might in fact have been the seventy sent out by our Saviour to every city which he intended to visit personally during his ministry on earth. But, that the Disciples of Christ baptized some persons before his resurrection, is certain from the language already quoted.
3. The baptism which the Disciples of Christ administered before his resurrection, was administered by his authority. He himself baptized by his own authority as King and Head of his own church. He needed no commission from any other being to authorize him to administer baptism. But his disciples being mere men, must derive all their authority to administer Divine ordinances from a Divine Person. That he authorized them to baptize, may be learned; (1.) from the fact that at the time they administered baptism, they were with him. (2.) He did not reprove them for baptizing. This he would certainly have done, had they attempted to baptize without his approbation. (3.) The whole passage, where it is stated that they baptized, shows that they administered the ordinance with his approbation and authority. That he authorized them to baptize, cannot in truth be denied.
4. The baptism
administered by the Disciples of Christ, was confined to the Jewish
nation. When Christ sent them out before his resurrection; he commanded
them not to go “into the way of the Gentiles," or enter “into any city
of the Samaritans;" but to go “to the lost sheep of the house of
5. This commission to go among the Jews only, did not include succession. It was given to individuals. It did not authorize them to send out others as Christ had sent them out. They therefore could not, by this commission transfer to others, the powers which, by it, they had received. It did not therefore include succession, or authorize those to whom it was given to transfer its powers to other persons.
6. The baptism
which Christ personally administered, was not the ordinance of Christian baptism.
This will be evident from a few considerations. (1.) He administered
before the Old Testament dispensation terminated. This ended at his death.
Before this, he baptized his twelve disciples. (2.)
When he baptized the twelve, the ordinance of Christian baptism
was not instituted. Its institution did not take place till after his
resurrection. (3.) Christ's mission on earth was limited to the Jews. He
declares, " I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of
7. The baptism which the disciples administered before the resurrection of Christ, was not Christian baptism. This is ascertained, (1) from the fact that the Old Testament dispensation had not then terminated, nor the New commenced. Of the New, not of the Old dispensation is Christian baptism an ordinance. (2.) This their first commission was confined to the Jews and did not include succession (c). The baptism under it could not therefore be Christian baptism; because the commission authorizing it to be extended to "all nations" and included succession "even unto the end of the world." (3.) When they administered baptism before the death of Christ, the Old Testament ordinance of the "Passover" was in full force. Christian baptism therefore which is a New Testament ordinance, could not be in full force at the same time. These reasons, with many others which might be mentioned, show that the baptism administered by the Disciples of Christ before his resurrection, was not in very deed, the ordinance of Christian baptism.
8. The baptism
which Christ and his twelve disciples administered before his
resurrection was designed to be a substitute for Christian baptism.
To perceive clearly the truth of this proposition, it will be
necessary to attend with care to several points. (1.) If Christ, in his wisdom
saw fit, he had a right to institute an ordinance which should, for the time
being and in special cases, be a substitute for Christian baptism.
Those very perfections by which he might authoritatively institute the
positive ordinance of Christian baptism,
might, if he chose, be exercised in instituting a substitute for it to be and
continue in force for a time. As head of his church, he had a right to institute
positive ordinances; and therefore, if he saw proper, he might institute
substitutes for them. But this prerogative does not belong to mere creatures.
(2.) With Christ, "the twelve" disciples” eat the" last
"Passover." At this time their circumcision was in force as the seal
of the covenant; for " no uncircumcised person" was
allowed to eat of the Passover. If an "uncircumcised" person even
entered the "sanctuary," it was thereby rendered ceremonially unclean.
An uncircumcised person was not, by Divine authority, permitted to enter a
sacred place; much less to eat the Passover. When therefore the disciples eat of
the paschal sacrifice with Christ's approbation; their circumcision then must
have been valid. (3.) A person's standing in the New Testament Church was
indicated by baptism,
not by circumcision. This was the case with the Jews who had been
circumcised, as well as with the Gentiles who had not received that "seal
of the righteousness" of faith. Paul, though a "Hebrew of the
Hebrews" and "circumcised the eighth day," yet when he was about
to enter the New Testament Church, was directed to "be baptized;" and
"he arose and was baptized." He was taught by the Holy Spirit that his
"circumcision" was then "nothing." As, in New Testament
times this sign did not avail "any thing" to those who were" in
Christ Jesus" or to others; it could not therefore under the New
dispensation be a seal of God's covenant. While circumcision was a
"token" or seal of the "everlasting covenant" which Divine
mercy had made with his visible people, so far from being at that time
"nothing" and of no avail, its "advantage" was great
"every way." But when, as a religious rite, it became
"nothing;" then the Jews or "the men of Judea" and those who
By similar evidence, it may be proved; that, if any of those to whom the apostles administered baptism before the resurrection of Christ, were, after this, publicly recognized as members of the New Testament Church; their baptism was also, by the Saviour, intended to answer as a substitute for the ordinance of Christian baptism.
BY DIVINE AUTHORITY AFTER THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
1. Christian baptism was not instituted till after the resurrection of Christ. That baptism unto Moses and the divers washings or baptisms used in the ceremonial purifications of the Jews, were not the ordinance of Christian baptism, is too evident to need illustration. John's was not Christian baptism, nor was that administered to Jesus Christ; nor yet was that administered to or by the twelve apostles before the resurrection of Christ, the ordinance of Christian baptism. That the ordinance of Christian baptism was not instituted at the same time with the Eucharist, is manifest from the fact that at that time not one word is spoken concerning baptism. Nor is baptism so much as mentioned while Christ was on the cross or in the tomb. There is not therefore the least shadow of evidence to prove that Christian baptism was instituted before the resurrection of our Saviour. Those then who take the word of God for their rule of duty cannot believe that it was instituted before that event.
2. Christian baptism is an instituted ordinance. An instituted ordinance is an external requirement which is to be performed in succeeding generations. That which is required to be done in it, must be perceptible by the senses. It must also represent something Spiritual. He who issues the command, by which an ordinance is instituted, must have the requisite authority, or the observance of the ordinance, instead of being a religious duty, would be but solemn trifling. In Christian baptism is found every thing that is essential to an instituted ordinance, and therefore it must be such.
3. Jesus Christ after his resurrection instituted the ordinance of Christian baptism. In the command to his disciples to teach "all nations, baptizing them," he instituted the ordinance of Christian baptism. He commanded it to be observed. A visible emblem was to be used; it was to be performed in succeeding ages; and the command was given by him who had the requisite authority. Before he gave the command to teach and baptize "all nations," he declared; "All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth." As in his human nature merely, he could not receive " all power;" and as in his Divine nature, he already possessed this power; he therefore in his human and Divine natures united in one Person, might and did receive all power" in Heaven and in earth." Jesus Christ therefore as Emmanuel, “God with us," instituted the ordinance of Christian baptism. Being possessed of “all power," and being "Head over all things to the church," he had all the authority which was requisite to institute this ordinance. He did this after the Angel had expressly stated; "He is not here" in the tomb; "He is risen as he said." It is evident therefore, (1.) That Jesus Christ instituted the ordinance of Christian baptism; (2.) That this was a mediatorial act; for he, as God and man in one Person, instituted this ordinance; (3.) That he instituted it after his resurrection; (4.) That people were to receive this ordinance.
is the risible emblem to be used in Christian baptism.
(1.) The command by which Christ authorized his disciples to administer
the ordinance of Christian baptism,
shows that they were to baptize with water. These actually
administered the ordinance which was required by their commission. (2.) Inspired
men used water when they baptized. Peter enquires; "Can any man forbid
water that" Cornelius and his friends "should not be baptized?"
and the Eunuch said;” See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized.
And after he and Philip “went down into the water,"—the Eunuch was
"baptized." These, and many other similar expressions, show clearly
that water is to be used in administering the ordinance of Christian baptism.
(3.) It is to be clean water; for God, speaking to his people of New
Testament times, says; "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you." In
this passage, we are taught by the prophet of the Lord that clean water is to be
used by Divine authority in the New Testament church. But in this, water is used
as a Divine ordinance only in baptism.
In fulfilling this prediction therefore, clean water must be used in baptism.
It is evident then, from God's word, that clean
water is the visible emblem which Divine wisdom has authorized to be
used when Christian baptism
eleven Apostles and their successors in the ministerial office, are authorized
to administer Christian baptism.
Our Saviour after proving by his resurrection from the dead, that
he possessed all power in Heaven and in earth, said to "the eleven
disciples;" " Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing
them." Before Christ gave them this command, they had no authority to teach
and baptize the various nations of the earth; because, before this, no such
authority was given them. In this command “the eleven" received their
commission as ministers of the
"The eleven" had another commission given them before they were entrusted with this. It was their apostolic commission. To have this, the person must, (1.) see the Lord Jesus Christ with his natural eyes. (2.) He must be appointed to it by a personal act of Christ. (3.) He must be able to work miracles. (4.) This commission cannot be transferred or committed to others by him to whom it is given. (5.) Those who claim, the apostolic office, unless they have these marks are called “liars." When a man exhibits these marks to prove that his is the apostolic commission; all are bound to admit his authority. But if he who claims to have the apostolic commission of the disciples, cannot show these signs of an apostle; all are bound to treat him as a deceiver who-lays claim to that which he does not possess. True ministers of Christ only claim the ministerial, and not the apostolic office of the eleven.
6. Christian baptism must be administered in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This, in the commission to teach and baptize, our Saviour expressly requires. He positively commands his ministering servants to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, " In administering the ordinance of baptism, he has not authorized them to omit this name or substitute another in its place. If persons do either therefore when they apply water to others; their act, with such an omission or alteration, cannot be the baptism which Christ requires to be administered; for this must be administered in the name of the Trinity. To omit, in baptism, the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, would be to attempt to baptize in no name or in an unauthorized one. In either case the act would be but solemn mockery. Whoever therefore has received Christian baptism, has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; for Christ has not authorized any person either directly or indirectly to administer it in any other name.
to be administered to Gentiles as well as Jews. This is taught, (1.) in
the commission given
to baptize. The disciples and their successors in office are commanded to
“teach all nations, baptizing them." All nations is an expression which
includes both Jews and Gentiles. (2.) In obedience to the requirement contained
in this commission, both Jews and Gentiles were baptized by inspired men. On
"the day of Pentecost," many Jews "were baptized."
Soon after Stephen's martyrdom, not a few "men and women" in
to continue in the New Testament church till the end of time. (1.) As
the whole commission requiring this baptism
to be administered, is to remain in full force “even unto the
end of the world;” so that part of it requiring this ordinance must remain in
force as long. (2.) The eleven and their successors in office are required to
as one part of their official duty, till the world shall end; so long
therefore will the ordinance continue to be administered. (3.) There is no
evidence either in the word of God or in the nature of Christian baptism
to prove that it will be discontinued in the
9. Christian baptism is a significant ordinance. The Lord's Supper is a lively emblem of the "death" of Christ. The bread broken aptly symbolizes his sufferings on the cross; and the wine poured out, his blood shed. When he died, his soul and body were separated. His burial was no part of his sufferings or death, though it was of his humiliation. Had his soul and body continued separate, the ordinance of Christian baptism would not have been instituted; for it was not till after he rose from the dead, that he directed his ministering servants to go and "teach all nations, baptizing them." When he rose from the dead, his soul and body were re-united again. This re-union, not his departure from the tomb, constituted his resurrection. He, after he rose from the dead, instituted the ordinance of Christian baptism to represent the work of the Holy Spirit which he, as a living Saviour, sends forth into the hearts of sinners to renew and sanctify them. That Christian baptism signifies or represents the work of the Spirit, in its various parts, will appear to the reflecting mind when the attention is directed to a few passages in God's word which mention this subject. Christian baptism signifies, (1.) Regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit. Of true Christians it is said, "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." Of this same work that is here called baptism, it is said "the Spirit quickeneth" all in whom new life is produced. As regeneration or the quickening power of the Spirit on the soul, is called baptism, so baptism must represent that operation of the Holy Ghost, by which a sinner is new-created in Christ Jesus the Lord. (2.) It signifies conversion or the new birth which is the necessary effect of regeneration. Christ says of true believers that they are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;" that is, of God the Spirit: and again, " except a man be born of water," or is baptized,—" he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" on earth, or become a member of the New Testament church: and, "except a man be born—of the Spirit," or made a new creature by the converting grace of the Holy Ghost,—" he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" above. (3.) It represents the coming of Christ by his Spirit, into the soul of his people. Jesus Christ, it is said, "came by water and blood." In New Testament times, water is used only in Christian baptism as an ordinance in the church. When therefore it is said that Jesus Christ came by water, it must be by water in baptism as an emblem of his Spirit's influence. (4.) It signifies union to or engrafting into Christ. It is affirmed that "so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death :" it is said again ; " as the body is one—so also is Christ; for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body:"
(a) The Lord Jesus Christ did not institute an ordinance of any kind, either to symbolize or represent the act of laying his dead body in the tomb; for a mere man, Joseph of Arimathea, performed this net, us is taught in Matt. 27: 57-60, Luke 23: 50-53. Nor did he institute any ordinance to represent or commemorate the departure of his body from the tomb after it was restored to life; for this was an act that his mere human nature or even a mere creature might have performed.
a sacrament of the
a seal by which blessings are confirmed. No unbaptized person can be
publicly recognized as a member of the visible church in its New Testament
dispensation. Every person who is properly baptized is, from that fact,
recognized as a member of the visible church. This truth the word of God clearly
teaches; "they that gladly received the word, were baptized; and the same
day there were added unto" the then visible church “about five thousand
souls;" “and they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Even Simon the
Samaritan sorcerer, "when he was baptized—continued with Philip."
Being baptized, he was so externally united with the visible people of God, that
he continued with them. Those who are baptized members of the visible Church,
are often said to be sealed. No others are thus described. But since the
baptized, and they only, are said to be sealed; baptism
must therefore be the seal; or, in other words, the seal and Christian baptism
are merely two names for the same thing. The visible Church in its members, is
baptized. This same church is called "a fountain seal." Paul, under
the inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit, says of himself and other
Christians; "God—hath sealed us and given us the earnest of his Spirit in
our hearts." The seal is here mentioned as something distinct from the work
of the Spirit in the heart. One angel said to others; "Hurt not the
earth—till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads." All
baptized church members are, by profession, “sealed" servants of God. The
angel noticed and marked these. For their sake, the earth was to be spared for a
time. The number of the "sealed" is very great. For them God manifests
a special regard. The "locusts" were commanded to hurt "only
those men who not have the seal of God in their foreheads." This intimates
that those who were "sealed" should not be hurt by the locusts.
"To the saints—at
12. Christian baptism requires obedience to be rendered to him in whose name it is administered. To be baptized “in the name," is to be baptized by the authority “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." In the administration therefore of this ordinance, the Triune God in whose name it is-administered, claims sovereign authority. This includes the claim of obedience, prompt, implicit and universal. When therefore baptism is administered in the name of the Trinity; in obedience to the Triune God is unequivocally demanded. To baptize a person into the name of Father, Son and Spirit, is expressive of union to the Triune God as a sovereign. This relation includes a demand of obedience from the person baptized. Christian baptism therefore which must always be administered in or into the name of the Trinity (a) requires the baptized to render obedience to the Triune God.
13. By receiving Christian baptism, the baptized are recognized as under covenant obligations to obey him in whose name the ordinance is administered to them. When baptism is administered in the name of the Triune God, obedience is required (a). This demand is made in every case when Christian baptism is administered. It is so essential to the ordinance, that it is included in the very form of words which Christ requires to be used when it is administered. The justice and propriety of this demand, no believer in Divine revelation can doubt. The unbaptized person is under legal obligations to obey all the demands of the Divine law. Its precepts are “holy, just and good," and therefore ought to be obeyed. But in addition to this, the baptized individual is recognized as being in a state in which he, actually, or virtually and externally, stands bound also in covenant by the reception of this ordinance, to obey the Divine requirements. The duties of the baptized are not increased; but by this ordinance they are more firmly bound to obey; because now they are bound by law as others are to do all that God requires; and they, by being recognized as in a state which admits the propriety of all God's demands, are also bound in covenant to render obedience. Hence by receiving baptism in the name of the Trinity, the baptized are acknowledged as in a covenant state with the Christian’s God, and therefore recognized as under covenant as well as legal obligations to obey him.
14. Christian baptism does not change the state of the baptized. In whatever light this ordinance is viewed, it cannot, by the mere act of receiving it, change the state of the person baptized. If, before his baptism, he is in a sinful and condemned state, he is not delivered from it by this ordinance, but by the converting power of God's Spirit. It is expressly declared that men are "justified by faith." But no passage of God's word contains the least intimation that persons are, by water baptism, justified or delivered from a state of condemnation. If baptism is viewed as a seal of the covenant into which God has entered with his visible people; then it can only be applied to those in this covenant; for it is the property of a seal to confirm the promise made in the covenant. If the baptized are already "justified by faith," this ordinance does not, cannot reduce them to a state of condemnation. Christian baptism therefore does not change the state of the baptized. It supposes a covenant relation to exist between God and the person to be baptized. The ordinance seals or confirms the promise of this covenant. But it does not change the state of the baptized.
15. The institution of Christian baptism supposes that all the bloody rules were abolished. The Lord Jesus Christ just before he suffered, "eat" the "Passover." At this time therefore, it was, as a religious rite, still in force. As such however it was to cease, when "Christ our Passover" was "sacrificed for us." As the Passover was an annual* sacrificial feast; it was impossible for it to be again observed before his resurrection, which was to take place on "the third day" after his crucifixion. During this short space of time, the Passover could not be eaten by Divine authority. As soon therefore as the last legal Passover was observed by him; he instituted the holy supper. But during the time Christ was to suffer on the cross and lie under the power of death in the tomb; it might be necessary, in order to obey the Divine law, to circumcise children. Circumcision, with the other rites and ceremonies peculiar to Old Testament times, would cease to be binding as religious ordinances, when their whole design was completely accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. But before his death, it was a positive duty, originating in the Divine command, to observe religiously all these precepts. While therefore these were in force and men might be called upon by the Divine law, to observe them; New Testament ordinances were not instituted; for Christ came not "to destroy the law" in any of its parts, "but to fulfill" it in all its demands. Since, while he suffered on the cross and lay in the tomb, children might, by the law, be required to be circumcised; he did not therefore institute the ordinance of Christian baptism at the time or before he instituted the Eucharist; for then circumcision was in force. But after his death "the hand-writing" of these “ordinances" being blotted out, baptism might, with propriety, be instituted. And instituting it thus as a New Testament ordinance, was a public declaration that the rules peculiar to Old Testament times were abolished. But these being abolished, all bloody rites must cease as none of these belong to the New Testament dispensation of the covenant. The institution of baptism therefore supposes that all bloody rites had then ceased to sustain the character of religious ordinances.
16. Christian baptism is not regeneration. To generate or beget literally, denotes that natural act which is followed by a natural birth; or it is the procreation of a natural creature in addition to those already in existence. To regenerate is to generate or beget again; or it denotes to re-beget. The same person that is once generated or begotten and is then born into the world, is often said to be regenerated, re-begotten or begotten again. That this regenerating or re- begetting is not a repetition of the natural act by which he was pro-created, is too manifest to need proof. In the word of God, regeneration is several times mentioned. To that which it signifies the mind is not infrequently directed. Persons are said to be "begotten—again;" to be "begotten—through the gospel;" to be begotten "of the Father's will,"—"by the word of truth ;" ministers of the gospel are mentioned in connection with this act as the persons who present the truth to the mind of others; and those who are regenerated are, as the result of this act, said to be "born again,"—" born— of the Spirit,"—" born of God." To be regenerated then or to be begotten again, is to have the Spirit of God to operate in such a way upon the person in the act of regenerating him, that he is born of God the Spirit, and thus made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Since regeneration results in the Spiritual birth of a Spiritual creature, it must be a Spiritual act. As natural generation results in the birth of the natural man; so regeneration or Spiritual generation results in the Spiritual birth of the new man. Regeneration therefore in its literal import, signifies, (1.) That act of the Spirit of God, which produces, in the regenerated person, a new” nature,""—" a new heart,"—" a new spirit,"—new life, and therefore makes him a “new creature." The same operation of the Spirit is what truly converts the sinner or turns him away from the love and practice of sin to the love and practice of holiness; that is, it produces in him a love to the principles and practices required in the word of God, and a desire to turn away from every invention of man, that claims to be a part of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also, at the same time, implants in the regenerated person, all the graces and affections of the child of God. It produces in him the principle of faith, of repentance, of love to God, of hatred to sin, and gives him desires after holiness. These are only a specimen of what is done for the sinner who is regenerated by the Spirit of God. (2.) The word of truth is the means usually employed by the Holy Spirit in regenerating sinners. (3.) The ministers of the gospel who preach the word of truth, not those who preach falsehood in the name of the Lord, are usually employed by the Spirit in presenting the truth to the mind of the sinner by which he is truly regenerated. (4.) The truly regenerated receive, believe, love and practice what God in his word teaches; while they turn aside with a degree of abhorrence from false doctrines and unscriptural practices as parts of their religion. No person truly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, can possibly believe that regeneration is effected by Christian baptism, by whomsoever or in what manner whatsoever it may be administered. To say that water applied to the body, in any mode or by any person, regenerates the soul, is a perfect absurdity to the true Christian. That the Holy Spirit does not always regenerate the baptized is manifest from the case of Simon the sorcerer; for after "he was baptized," he was still "in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." Every person in Christian lands knows, from his own observation, that not a few baptized persons give no scriptural evidence of being regenerated; for none will say that intoxication, profane swearing, card-playing, and such practices, are scriptural proofs that those who are guilty of them, are the children of God. In these the baptized sometimes engage. This proves that they are not truly regenerated.
This act of the Spirit is called "the washing of regeneration," (not the washing of baptism;) because by it the sinner is purified from the guilt of his sins. It is called "the renewing of the Holy Ghost ;" because in it, the renewing or sanctifying work of the Spirit, is commenced; and from this point it will continue to increase during the believer's life on earth. To the true Christian no truth can be more evident, therefore, than that baptism with water is not regeneration. Nor indeed can an intelligent man whose soul has not been enlightened by the Spirit of God, believe that water applied to the body in baptism, regenerates the soul; unless he has become the mere slave of superstition. Let any intelligent man reflect on the subject untrammeled by superstitious bigotry, and he cannot believe that Christian baptism administered by a mere man, is the regenerating act of the Spirit of God upon the soul, by which the sinner is made "a new creature."
17. Christian baptism is not to be repeated. Christian baptism cannot be administered without Divine authority. Every attempt to perform a religious act the observance of which, God in his word has not required, is mere mockery. It is a positive violation of that command which directs men to go "to the law and to the testimony" for instruction in all religious duties. It is "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Such "worship" is " vain." It has but a mere "show of wisdom and humility," while it is really rank "will-worship." It is an insult upon the wisdom of God. It is not only a practical declaration that his wisdom is defective; but it is also an act by which men declare that their own wisdom is superior to that of God. For if his was perfect wisdom in their estimation, they would not then desire to practice any thing for religion, which, in his word, he had not required. Moreover if they did not fancy themselves to be wiser than God ; they would not desire to introduce into his worship that which he had not mentioned as a part of the service which he requires of his creatures. Without Divine authority then baptism could not be administered as a religious ordinance. Without Divine authority therefore it cannot be repeated as a part of true religion. But God has given no authority in his word, either by precept or example, to repeat the ordinance of Christian baptism; or in other words to baptize a second time, any person who had already received that ordinance. To attempt to do so then would be an act of mere mockery; a direct insult offered to the God of wisdom. Besides, as the regenerating work of the Spirit on the soul, is an act which Christian baptism signifies and is not, cannot, in the nature of things, be repeated, so there would therefore be a manifest impropriety in repeating its external sign. It is evident then that Christian baptism cannot be repeated without offering a direct insult to the King of the universe.
"repent and do thy first works," addressed to the church at
18. Though Christian baptism is not, the Lord's Supper is, to be repealed. In relation to the holy supper, the Spirit of God in addressing professing Christians, says to them expressly, “as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." In this passage of scripture it is stated that Christians are "often" to commemorate the death of Christ; till, at his "second" coming, “he shall appear without sin unto salvation." The Lord's supper then is to be frequently observed by the children of God; while Christian baptism is not to be, indeed cannot be, repeated; because for its repetition, God has given no authority ; and because an attempt to repeat it is a direct insult offered to God himself.
OF BAPTISMS; ONE BAPTISM;
FOR THE DEAD
1. The doctrine of baptisms is mentioned as one of the first principles of Christianity. A doctrine is a principle taught. All doctrines are either true or false. When truth is taught; the doctrine is true. When falsehood or a mixture of truth and falsehood, is taught; the doctrine is false. “The doctrine of baptisms," is true; because it is mentioned as one of "the first principles of the oracles of God." A plurality of baptisms is here mentioned. The word “baptisms," in the plural number, clearly teaches this. In this expression more than one baptism is necessarily included. But what baptisms are intended, is not so manifest. These may be, (1.) The ordinance of Christian baptism and Spiritual baptism denoting regeneration. These may be intended; as they are among the very first principles of vital godliness in the soul, and of external religion in the life. No true Spiritual religion can exist in the sinner's heart before he is regenerated; nor can he be recognized as a member of the visible church, before he has received the ordinance of Christian baptism. These therefore may be presented as among the very first principles of true religion. This view of the subject is confirmed by the fact that the “laying on of hands" is mentioned in connection with "the doctrine of baptisms." By the laying on of the apostle's hands, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were often communicated to men. This being an act accompanied by the Holy Spirit and mentioned in connection with the doctrine of baptisms, intimates that one of these baptisms may be Spiritual. It may also be remarked that the ministerial office was also transferred by “laying on"—" the hands of the presbytery." But (2.) this "doctrine of baptisms" may denote what is taught of the different kinds of ceremonial “washings" or baptisms, mentioned in the word of God, and especially in the Old Testament. A number of these baptisms are mentioned. The doctrine or what is taught by these, may with propriety be called "the doctrine of baptisms." That all these had ceased to be binding at the death of Christ, and no baptism or ceremonial washing, except the Christian ordinance of baptism, was to be in force after that event, was and is, one of the first principles of true religion.
The "doctrine of baptisms," is therefore an expression which may denote (1.) Christian and Spiritual baptism, which will continue till the end of time; or, (2.) it may signify those ceremonial washings which ceased at or before the death of Christ; or, f3.) it may include all these ; as they are all " first principles of the oracles of God."
2. 'The expression, one baptism, is used by the Holy Spirit. As the word “baptisms" necessarily includes more than one; so the phrase “one baptism necessarily limits the mind to a single baptism. (1.) This expression cannot relate to the baptisms administered before the resurrection of Christ because these were numerous. This expression (2.) cannot teach the doctrine that there is but one mode of baptism, or that but one person is to be baptized; because the word mode or person is not used in the sentence or in the connection in which the words are used. Nor does any word in the passage of which this phrase is a part, express unity of mode in baptism; or that but one person is to be baptized. The word “one" does not express mode or person. If the word "baptism," in the singular number, expresses "one" mode of baptism; then the word " baptisms" in the plural number, must, by the same rule, denote several modes of baptism; for if one baptism signifies one mode of baptism, then ten baptisms must denote ten modes of baptism; because, on that principle, every baptism must denote a mode of baptism. But, as, in the passage, the mode of baptism is not mentioned either directly or indirectly, so those who take the word of God for their only rule of duty, will not be readily induced to mistake for scripture, the addition of the word mode, which men, to sustain a favorite system, may please to make to this portion of Divine revelation. But (3.) the expression "one baptism," teaches that the baptism which is intended, is one in its nature; however various the modes of its administration may be. If Christian baptism is intended, then the language shows that this ordinance is one, whether the mode of its administration be one or various. If spiritual baptism or regeneration is intended; then the phrase "one baptism," shows that the operation of the Spirit on the soul in regeneration, is one act of Almighty power, however various may be the means employed or the modes of this operation. (4.) That this "one" is spiritual “baptism" or regeneration, may be easily learned from the connection in which the words are used. In the context “one body,"—" one Spirit,"—" one hope,"—" one Lord,"—"one faith,"—"one God and Father of all," are mentioned. In this connection the attention is directed to seven unities. Six of them are manifestly spiritual. The "one body" is a spiritual, not a literal body; the " Spirit" is the Holy Ghost the "hope" is an expectation of a spiritual "calling ;" the "one Lord" is a spiritual sovereign ; the "faith" is a spiritual grace ; the "one God" is a spiritual king. As all the other unities mentioned in the connection, are spiritual ; so the "one baptism" must be a spiritual ordinance or regeneration, as there is nothing in the language itself or in the connection or in parallel passages of scripture to require or even authorize a different sense to be given to the words in this passage.
3. Baptism for the dead is mentioned in God's word. The language used is this; " what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead." On this passage, it may be remarked, (1.) That baptism for the dead is mentioned as an evidence to prove that a resurrection of the dead shall take place. This is evidently the design of the passage, as is manifest from the language used and from the connection in which it is found. (2.) The expression “baptized for the dead" does not teach that one living person may or must be baptized as a substitute for or in the room of, one or more of the dead. The language used in the passage does not affirm this; nor could the fact that a living person was baptized as a substitute for the dead, be an evidence to prove that the body will be raised to life again after it has moldered to dust in the tomb. The word for in the English language, does not always, or necessarily, or even frequently, express substitution; and when it does, that idea is clearly determined by the connection in which the word is found. The original word in this passage translated for, does not literally denote substitution. The connection does not allow this sense to be given to the word ; and no such a signification can be found for it in parallel passages, for no other passage in the word of God so much as mentions baptism for the dead in any form of expression. That this passage of scripture therefore does not teach that a living person may or must be baptized as a substitute for the dead, is manifest, from the language used in the translation and in the original ;—from the fact that such an act could not prove the resurrection of the dead, as this passage does;—and that to baptize a living person as a substitute for the dead, would be but a mere farce, as it could be of no possible use to the dead or to the living;—and also that no such sense can be given to the language used, in its literal signification, from the connection or from a reference to parallel passages. Whatever therefore this portion of God's word teaches; it is evident that it does not authorize or require a living person to be baptized as a substitute for the dead. (3.) If, in the passage, it was stated as a positive fact, that the living were baptized as substitutes for the dead, that would not prove it to be right or authorize others to do so; because there is not a word in the language or in the connection, or in any other portion of scripture, which could lead a reflecting mind to suppose that God required or approved such an act, or that he commanded, authorized or even permitted others to make it an example for their imitation (a). Men have no right to take that for an example which God has not made such. To do so would be substituting their own wisdom for his. It would be forsaking "the fountain of living waters," for their own "broken cisterns." (4.) The expression "baptized for the dead" may or does teach, that the living who were baptized for the sake of obeying the command of a Saviour who had died and rose again, proved by this act to all to whom it was known, that they had evidence in their own mind sufficiently powerful to convince them that the doctrine of a-resurrection from the dead was true. Without such evidence, clear and conclusive, they would not, in the face of danger and of death, have been baptized in his name. The Greek word translated "dead," is in the plural number. This form of the word may be the intensitive plural, used to intimate the dignity of Christ, the Person mentioned. (5.) The original word translated for, literally signifies above. The expression therefore, "baptized for," or above " the dead," may signify that living persons had such clear and undeniable evidence of " the resurrection at the last day," that they would willingly receive the ordinance of Christian baptism and thus profess their faith in Christ, over the very dead bodies of those who had received the martyr's crown, and to whom the iron heart of cruelty had denied the privilege of being laid in the grave. (6.) As the original expression may embrace both these ideas; the Holy Spirit may, by using this language, have in- tended to leave on the reader's mind, both these impressions. It appears then that the expression "baptized for the dead," does not, cannot signify that the living may or must be baptized as a substitute for the dead; but that it may and does teach the careful reader of God's word, that those who have, for thousands of years, been held in the cold embrace of death, will, at the last day, all spring again into life, by the vivifying power of Almighty God.
WITH THE HOLY GHOST
1. In the Scriptures, baptism with the Holy Ghost, is taught. This is proved, (1.) From the fact that this is the very language used by the Holy Spirit on this subject. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost," is the language of the scriptures and it is often repeated; again, it is said of Christ; "He—baptizeth with the Holy Ghost;" and yet again; "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." This language expressly shows that baptism with the Holy Ghost is a truth taught in the word of God- (2.) Many synonymous expressions teach the same truth. Some of these may be noticed. One is, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh;" another is," The Holy Ghost fell on" Cornelius and those with him; another, "On the Gentiles—was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost;" and yet another is, "The Holy Ghost came on" those who were re-baptized by the direction of Paul. Other instances might be mentioned; but these are sufficient to show those who will take the language of scripture for proof, that baptism with the Holy Spirit is positively taught in the word of God.
with the Holy Ghost is extraordinary and ordinary.
It is (1.) Extraordinary or miraculous. In the case of the Apostles the
miraculous power which it expressed, was of a peculiar kind. When they were
first sent to preach to the Jews only; they were empowered to work miracles. Our
Saviour after his resurrection directed the eleven to "tarry—in the city
3. Jesus Christ baptized with the Holy Ghost. Speaking; of him to the Jews, John the Baptist positively and repeatedly declares "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." From this and similar language it is undeniably certain, that to baptize with the Spirit, is not the work of mere man, but of the Divine Redeemer. The converting, as well as the miraculous work of the Holy Ghost, was therefore a part of what the Great Shepherd purchased for his sheep. To some whom he baptized with the Holy Ghost, he gave miraculous powers; to others he gave only converting grace, sanctifying power and eternal glory, with whatever is necessary to make an enemy of God his true friend.
4. Upon those baptized with the Spirit, he, in his influences, descended. Of such, it is said; the Spirit was poured "out" or "fell on them." This, with much similar language which is used in relation to baptism with the Holy Ghost, shows that when persons were thus baptized, the influences of the Spirit descended or came upon them. This is manifest. Indeed, nothing can be more evident than, that when the Spirit is "poured out" on men and falls on them or enters them so that they are "filled" with it, they are not, at the same time, put all over into the Spirit. From the language of God's word then it is manifest that the Spirit in his influences descends or comes upon those who are baptized with the Holy Ghost.
5. When the Apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost, there was an external appearance. This was that of "cloven tongues like as of fire." It "sat upon each of them." The word it stands for the fire, or rather the fiery appearance which remained for a time on each of the disciples. The appearance of "cloven tongues" resembling fire, resting on each of them, as the Holy Ghost was baptizing them, may indicate that then each of them was about to be enabled to speak with new tongues. These were "cloven" or divided. This might indicate to them that they were soon to be sent to different parts of the then known world to use their miraculously acquired power of speaking different languages, in publishing the gospel of salvation. But whatever might have been the design of God in causing this visible appearance at the time the Holy Ghost was baptizing them; the fact that such an appearance existed, is certain.
1. Baptism with fire is taught in the word of God. The language of scripture on this subject is very definite. Baptism "with fire" is twice explicitly mentioned. The fact that baptism “with fire" is taught in the word of God, must then be manifest to every person who will read its language.
2. Jesus Christ baptizes with Fire. Of him it is said to the Jews; " He shall baptize you—with fire.": That the Lord Jesus Christ baptizes with fire is here taught in language too plain to be disputed by any who can believe the evidence of their senses.
3. To baptize with fire is forcible language. Literal fire either purifies or consumes material substances. To baptize with fire then may indicate that those who receive this baptism, are either by it to be purified or consumed. Christ baptizes his people with fire, when he purifies them "in the furnace of affliction;" or when he sanctifies them by the operations of his Spirit in their souls; or when he uses both these for the purpose of making them more and more holy. When both are used for this purpose, afflictions are the means, and the Spirit the efficient operator by which the means are made effectual in sanctifying the soul. He baptizes his enemies with fire when he sends upon them fearful temporal calamities, or the horrors of an awakened or of a seared conscience; and especially when he consigns their immortal souls to the gnawing of the "worm" that never dies, and to the dark dismal flames of that fire which shall not be "quenched."
4. This baptism usually manifests itself by its effects. That afflictions are generally manifested by their effects, all can perceive. When baptism with fire denotes sanctification; it manifests itself by leading those who enjoy its purifying influence to become more and more conformed to the word of God, in principle and in practice. When "God," to the sinner out of Christ becomes "a consuming fire," his hardened heart, his seared conscience, his careless rebellion against Heaven, his adoption of unscriptural principles and practices for religion, his hatred of Divine truth, proclaim the fact to all who will hear; and in the world of woe, his "weeping"—and "wailing" and "gnashing of teeth" cannot be concealed. It will be evident therefore to the observing mind that baptism with fire is usually, if not universally, manifested in its external effects.
1. This baptism is taught in the scriptures. Our Saviour after describing his sufferings and death by crucifixion, calls them "the cup that" he should "drink of," and "the baptism that" he, at that time, was, and was soon more manifestly, to be "baptized with." In addressing James and John, he says; 'Are ye able—to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" This shows that at the very time he was speaking, he was receiving this baptism; and that at that time it was not yet completed, appears when he says of it; "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?" That baptism which, when he addressed James and John, he was actually receiving, and which was not then completed, could be no other than the baptism of suffering. It could not be that which John the Baptist administered; because that was completed long before this time. It is therefore evident that the baptism mentioned in these portions of God's word, is baptism with sufferings.
2. Jesus Christ received this baptism. He declares expressly "I am baptized with" this baptism; and "I have a baptism to be baptized with and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?" This he says in relation to his baptism with sufferings.
Apostles, James and John, were to be, and were baptized with sufferings. That
they were to be thus baptized is positively stated. Christ said to them;
"Ye shall—be baptized with the baptism
that I am baptized with." That they were thus baptized, is certain;
for Herod killed "James— with the sword;" and "John—was"
banished to " the isle" of "
4. The martyrs were baptized with sufferings. Many of these have suffered death with " fire, with the sword," with various kinds of torture, with scourging, with " imprisonment," with being " sawn asunder," with wandering " in deserts,—in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth." More than fifty millions of the professed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have suffered death by the unrelenting hand of persecution. These, like their blessed Master, were severely baptized with sufferings.
5. All true Christians receive this baptism in a greater or less degree. Jesus Christ says to all his disciples; "In the world ye shall have tribulation ;" and again, the same truth is stated in this language; " AH that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." All such persons shall be baptized with suffering. The distress of some will be exceedingly great; that of others only like a drop from the ocean. But as a general rule, the more holy and devoted the Christian is, the more persecution he will in this life be called to endure. The more he conforms to the word of God in principle and in practice,—the more he resembles in heart and life the great Redeemer; the more will the enemies of God hate and persecute him. Those who profess to be Christians, while they hate God and the truths of his word, will generally be most bitter and unprincipled in their persecuting attacks upon his children. Indeed, persecutors may be so blinded with sin that, while they are killing the disciples of Christ, they may imagine, they are doing "God service?" But all true Christians must expect to " suffer persecution." In whatever way their enemies persecute them, or by whatever means they may attempt to justify their wickedness; one truth is undeniably certain; all who, in this life, truly love God, will find the world a “vale of tears." They will all be baptized with sufferings.
DIVINE AUTHORITY BEFORE CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
1. The ordinary self-baptism of the Jews was unauthorized by Divine wisdom. The fact that they did frequently baptize themselves, is positively stated in this language; "when they come from the market, except they wash or “baptize,” as it is expressed in the original, "they eat not." In the practice of these their ceremonial washings or baptisms; our Saviour charges them with laying "aside the commandment of God" and observing "the tradition of men." Moreover, it is said on a certain occasion, that a Pharisee "marveled" because the blessed Redeemer "sat down to meat" before "he had—first washed," or baptized. The fact that the Pharisee "marveled" because Christ did not wash or baptize before dinner, shows that the custom of doing so, was very general if not universal among the Jews; and the fact that he did not wash or baptize before he "sat down," proves that such ceremonial washings were not of Divine appointment. The Lord Jesus Christ therefore, both in words and actions condemns those washings or baptisms which the Jews practiced without Divine authority.
2. The baptism
by the Jews of various domestic articles was not required by the law of
God. When they, under the direction of the Pharisees, turned aside from
the Divine rule laid down in the scriptures; they received from them various
traditions. Among these they had adopted, as a religious rite, "the
washing" or baptizing "of cups,
and pots, and brazen vessels, and tables," or couches. Though some of
these, under certain circumstances, might, by the Divine law, be ceremonially
purified with "water". Yet the Jews had no
authority to wash or baptize them when they returned from market. Our Saviour
therefore charges them with laying "aside the commandment of God" and
adopting "the tradition of men," when they baptized or ceremonially
washed these articles without Divine authority. In relation to these and
"many other such like things," which they had invented and practiced
as portions of religious service, our Saviour says; "in vain do they
worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The washing or
baptizing of these domestic articles was a mere act of will-worship. It was in
fact an insult offered to the God of wisdom; as are all human inventions
introduced into religious worship.
3. God did not authorize the Jews to baptize proselytes. The fact that they did baptize them is not explicitly stated in the word of God. Indeed, concerning their baptism, nothing is said in the scriptures. The copy of Josephus examined on this subject, does not intimate that the Jews baptized proselytes. But notwithstanding this, the fact that they did baptize, as well as circumcise, proselytes, is sustained by unanswerable evidence). That they had no Divine authority for doing so, is manifest, (1.) From the fact that, in the word of God, no authority is given for such a practice. (2.) This practice may be condemned in the expression of disapprobation used by our Saviour to the Jews, when he says ; they had "many other" unauthorized washings or baptisms, besides those which he had definitely mentioned. (3.) The passage of scripture upon the authority of which they profess to act when they baptize proselytes, does not so much as mention or even allude to the baptism of persons with water. The passage is this; "And the Lord said unto Moses, go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes." (4.) This direction was given more than four hundred years after circumcision was instituted. It could not therefore have with it, any necessary connection. (5.) But if it had, the language does not express baptism with water. To sanctify does not necessarily denote to apply water to the person in baptism: to "wash"—"clothes" does not signify to baptize or wash the person. (6.) Besides, this direction is given to the Jews themselves on a particular occasion and for a particular purpose. It was not an established ordinance for perpetual observance even among the Jews, much less was it applicable to the Gentiles who might desire to embrace the religion of Israel; and least of all, did it require these last to be baptized as well as circumcised when they were received by the Jews as proselytes to their religion. The baptism therefore of proselytes by the Jews was unauthorized by Divine wisdom.
DIVINE AUTHORITY AFTER CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
1. Baptism administered by laymen is without Divine authority. Sometimes mere laymen or those who do not sustain the office of Christian ministers, perform the act of baptizing persons. This is only a solemn farce. The Lord Jesus Christ gives to his ministering servants, and to no others, the authority to administer baptism. None but such can therefore administer this holy ordinance. For others to attempt to administer it, is solemn mockery, is practical blasphemy, since by such an act, a man assumes the prerogatives of a Divine person, for he acts in this matter as if he were independent of God.
2. Females have no Divine authority to administer baptism. Among Romanists, females, under certain circumstances, are allowed, if not required, by their regulations, to administer baptism. But the word of God does not give them any such authority. In giving the New Testament commission to his disciples and to their successors in the ministerial office, by which they were empowered to preach the gospel and administer the Christian sacraments, Jesus Christ did not authorize females to baptize. The apostles and their official successors were not directed to transmit this office to females, but to "faithful men who" should "be able to teach others." Since therefore, in the scriptures, females have no authority given them to preach or baptize; whenever they attempt to do either, they are engaged in practical rebellion against God.
be administered except in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The
Sabians of Syria, some Arians and a few others, apply water in what they call baptism,
without using the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. These Sabians, or
"Daily Baptists," as they call themselves, use a form in their
baptismal ceremony which, when translated, reads thus; " / baptize thee
with the baptism with
which John the Baptist baptized''. They call this ceremony "the baptism
of Light." Some Arians apply water simply in the name of God,
without using the name of the Trinity. Some others, it is understood, use this
or a similar form; "I baptize, or I immerse thee in or into the
To attempt to administer baptism without Divine authority, is treating the Great Head of the church with contempt. It is, by those who do so, a practical declaration that they have as good authority as he had, to say who may baptize, and what form is to be used; and by practicing on their own plan, they declare it to be superior to his. The sin of such a system must be great in the sight of the King of Zion. Can a true Christian be guilty of thus habitually insulting his crucified Redeemer?
VARIOUS MODES OP BAPTISM
1. The word mode ought to be understood. The mode of doing a thing denotes the particular manner in which it is performed. It is evident to any reflecting mind that the same thing may be performed in a variety of different ways or modes. A man may be killed with a dirk, with a pistol, with poison or with a sword. The same crime may be perpetrated in these and a thousand other modes. Indeed the mode or manner of performing an action, whether in the discharge of a duty or in the commission of a crime, is never essential to the action, unless the command requiring or forbidding its performance, specifies or includes the mode. The command, "thou shalt not kill," prohibits murder in what mode howsoever it may be perpetrated. But the command, "thou shalt not kill" with a dirk, forbids the crime to be committed in one particular mode and in no other. If God commands an action to be done or a duty to be performed, without specifying in what mode or manner it is to be done, then it is manifest that the action or duty may be attended to in any mode. But if God requires a duty to be performed in a particular manner and in no other, then attempting to perform it in any other mode is simply rebellion against his command. If he requires a duty to be performed, and does not specify the mode, men have no right to do so. If the mode or manner of doing an action is, by Divine authority, made essential to the performance of it; then to attempt to do it in any other way, is an insult upon the wisdom of God. It is a virtual attempt to correct Omniscience. If God has required baptism to be administered in one particular mode and in no other; then he has mentioned this in his word in definite language. If he has not so mentioned it, then we know that he makes no such requirement of his creatures. To say that God teaches men to baptize in a particular mode of which he says nothing, is to affirm that he teaches what he does not teach; or in other words; to make such a statement would be to utter a positive untruth. It is certain then that in investigating the subject of baptism, the term mode ought to be understood.
2. To sprinkle is an expression easily understood. It signifies to cause a fluid to fall in drops. When it is used to denote the application of water in connection with baptism; it signifies to cause water to fall in drops on the forehead or upper part of the face, of the person to whom the element is applied. But to sprinkle is an expression too plain to need farther illustration.
3. Water is sometimes poured upon persons for baptism. To pour signifies to cause a small quantity of a fluid to flow down upon some object. A person is said to be poured in baptism, when a small quantity of water is poured on his head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In the word of God, to pour signifies to fall in drops as a shower of rain descends. When it is said; "the clouds poured out water;" the expression shows that a shower of rain fell in drops. In the scripture sense of the word therefore, pour does not materially differ in its meaning from the word sprinkle. They both denote to fall in drops.
4. Men often say that immersion is baptism. When it is used as a substitute for baptism, it expresses a very complex action. With those who immerse adults and no others; the action which they express by it, is eight-fold. In immersion, after adjusting their dress, they (1.) repair to some river, pond, brook or cistern; (2.) the person to be immersed wades into the water nearly or quite up to the waist; (3.) the administrator takes both the hands of the person to be immersed into one of his and places the other between the shoulders of the subject who, at this stage of the operation, sometimes stands and sometimes kneels; but when he kneels he generally chooses more shallow water than when he stands; (4.) the administrator puts that portion of the person which is yet above water, entirely under its surface, by laying him down on his face or on his back, so that the external garments of the person, if he is dressed, is usually for a moment under the water; (5.) he immediately raises the person up again; (6.) the subject wades out of the water ; (7.) he then leaves the stream, pond, or cistern; (8.) he changes his dress, substituting dry for wet garments; unless he had performed the operation in a state of nudity. When immersion is practiced for baptism, two of these actions are always and necessarily included in the signification of the word. These are the fourth and fifth. The parts of the body which are yet above are, by the administrator, put entirely under the surface of the water, and then immediately raised up again. When a person is immersed, the body must be entirely under water. If he was left in this state, the action certainly would not be complete. If he was left entirely under water, his natural life must, in a very few minutes, be destroyed. Few, even of those most in favor of a "watery grave," would be willing to remain many minutes totally covered with water. If they were thus left; indeed, if they were not very soon raised from beneath the surface of that element; nothing but a miracle could save them from almost instant death. As therefore to put a person entirely under water and leave him' there, would be one mode of killing him; no Immerser who is not in favor of destroying life, will affirm that the whole action of immersion as a substitute for baptism, ends when the person is completely covered with water. To be immersed therefore for baptism, is to be put entirely under water and taken out again; a part at least of which acts must be performed by the administrator.
Those who immerse infants exclusively, or nearly so, (a) besides a great variety of ridiculous ceremonies, usually put the child entirely under water. The fluid is usually warmed a little. The child is frequently put under the water by a minister. It is thus immersed three times. He sometimes uses the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost and sometimes he does not. Indeed sometimes the god-father of the infant immerses it three times without using any form of words whatever.
immerse only a part of their communicants. Some do not view immersion
as the only mode of baptism
and some do. Some of them will admit unbaptized persons to partake with
them of the Lord's Supper. Some will, and some will not, immerse infants. Some
put on an over-dress when they are immersed, lest their bodies should be
entirely wet with water. But in Western Europe and in
For a person to be entirely covered with air, or fog, or smoke, or sand, is not to be immersed. If that were the case, then every person is constantly immersed; as each individual of the human race, is, while living, entirely covered with air, and often with smoke and fog. If a person should be entirely covered with sand; not many Immersers would suppose that he, on that account, was properly baptized. It is undeniable, then that to be immersed is to be covered entirely with water, and not with any other material.
It generally appears like a voluntary act on the part of the immersed when they are grown to years of manhood. But it seldom is so in reality; because very few of them examine the subject and compare it with the word of God before they are immersed. They therefore act under the guidance of those to whom they submit themselves as their leaders. If they ever examine the scriptures in relation to the matter; it is to find something to justify them in what they have already done; not to ascertain what God the Lord teaches them to do.
POINT TO BE EXAMINED STATED
1. It is important to know the point in dispute. If this is not known and definitely fixed, the mind is in constant danger of wandering from it, or of being led away from it by those who have more cunning than honesty. But when the point to be examined is clearly perceived and well understood; then the connection of an argument with it will be perceived; and the fallacy of sophistry will more readily be discovered. Truth never shuns the point; falsehood always does. If a position is true, the more evident it is, the brighter it will shine; and if it is false, the more easily will it be detected by having the point clearly stated. It is then, in all subjects of dispute, a matter of great importance to have a clear view of the exact point to be examined. Without this, little can be done to ascertain the validity of the claims of immersion to be the only mode of baptism.
2. What the point is not, deserves attention. The point to be decided is not (1.) Whether baptism with water is or is not a duty. That it is, both parties admit; (2.) Not whether immersion is a mode of baptism or not; (3.) Not whether immersion or another mode is more or less convenient; (4.) Not whether it is more or less desirable or solemn than another mode; (5.) Not whether it is or is not a cross; (6.) Not whether it is shame or pride or fear or the influence of others that leads persons to choose or refuse to be immersed; (7.) Not whether many or few adopt this or another mode; (8.) Not whether men sanction or disapprove one mode of baptism or another; (9.) Not whether Immersers are good men or bad; wise or unwise. Whether these matters are important or otherwise, they form in fact no part of the subject of discussion between those who do, and those who do not, maintain that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
point to be settled is this. Is immersion
the only mode of baptism?
Men often declare that immersion
and that only is baptism.
They say that it is so essential to the ordinance, that without it, baptism
cannot exist; and that those and those only who are immersed are
baptized. The evidence in favor of this exclusive claim, is the point to be
4. This point has two parts. The position laid down by the exclusives on this subject, is, that immersion is the only mode of baptism; or in other language, they say, that immersion and that only is baptism. When it is said that immersion is the only mode of baptism, a twofold declaration is made. It is affirmed, (1.) That immersion is baptism or a mode of baptism; and (2.) That it is the only mode of baptism; or that immersion and nothing else, is baptism. Both these ideas are manifestly included in the assertion that immersion is the only mode of baptism; because, as the same thing may be done in different ways or modes (a), so baptism may be performed in different modes unless God requires it to be administered in some one particular mode and in no other. In the examination therefore of this subject, it is necessary, (1.) To see whether the word of God definitely teaches that immersion is a mode of baptism; and (2.) See whether it informs us that immersion is the only mode in which that ordinance can be administered. If either or both these positions are true, then we have definite evidence to sustain such truth in the word of God.
5. Exclusive claims must lie sustained by positive evidence. When a man affirms that immersion is the only mode of baptism; to prove his statement he ought to show at least one passage of scripture which positively states that immersion is baptism; or he ought to show a passage which declares that some one person was baptized by immersion. He should then point to a portion of God's word, which states that immersion is the only mode of baptism; or that there is no other mode or only one mode of baptism. If he fails to do this; his exclusive claim stands unsupported by proper evidence. It is a mere proof-less assertion. He who makes exclusive claims, must not expect, among persons of reflection, to sustain them by positive assertions or by asking questions. He must expect that persons of sense, will call upon him to present plain, positive, pointed evidence to sustain his dogmatic assertions; and if he is unable to do this; he must not be surprised if he finds himself ranked among mere demagogues. To suppose that an exclusive claim may be sustained without positive testimony is an insult offered to the good common sense of mankind. When a man makes a positive assertion of any kind; it is but right that he should sustain it by proper evidence; much more should this be demanded of him who makes an exclusive claim. Those therefore who affirm that immersion is the only mode of baptism, ought to have something more than an assertion and a question to prove their position. They must bring a "thus saith the Lord" for it, if they would fairly convince intelligent men that their claim is supported by the word of God. When a man makes a positive assertion which includes an exclusive claim, and then undertakes to sustain it by conjecture or saying, it may be so, or there is no proof of something else, or by saying it must be so, or by asking why such a thing was done if it was not so; he either knows very little concerning the nature of evidence or supposes his hearers know but little on that subject. In a word, such a step would seem to intimate that he had either very little knowledge or very little honesty.
FROM THE WORD OF GOD
IN THE SCRIPTURES,
ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BE IMMERSED
in his word, does not command persons to be immersed. In
no portion of the scriptures is it said to any person, for any purpose; Be
immersed; or ye shall be immersed; or thou shalt be immersed. There is therefore
no command in the word of God given in any form of language requiring any person
to be immersed for any purpose whatever.
does not require any person to immerse others. He does not direct
any of his ministering servants or any individual of the human race, to immerse
others. He does not, in any passage of his word, say to any; go ye and immerse;
nor does he in any form of words command them to immerse any one person or more.
No person can find in God's word any such direction; for this plain reason; none
such is recorded in that Holy book. God,
therefore, does not in his word, command any person to immerse others.
3. God does not direct persons to be baptized by immersion or to baptize others in this mode. New Testament ministers are commanded to "Go—and teach all nations, baptizing them." But they are not told to administer this ordinance by immersion. In no portion of the book of God, are men directed or authorized by any requirement, to baptize by immersion. Persons are commanded to be "baptized," but not a word is said in such directions to them concerning the mode in which baptism is to be administered. Nor are they in any other passage directed to be baptized by immersion.
person speaking of himself or others, is, in the scriptures, represented as
saying I or they immerse or baptize or were baptized by immersion.
John said, "I baptize;"—and Paul, "I
baptized;"—and another sacred writer; “men and women" were
baptized. But no person mentioned in
the word of God, says; I immerse or I immersed or they immersed, or that any
individual baptized or was baptized by immersion.
word immerse is not found in the word of God. Any person can
determine this matter for himself by reading the scriptures. He will not find
the very word immerse itself in any part of Divine revelation. It is not so much
as mentioned by any sacred writer, either in the Old or New Testament. It is not
used in God's word for baptism
or for any other purpose. So
far therefore are men from being required, by Divine authority, to be immersed
or to immerse others, that the word immerse itself is not once used for any
purpose whatever, in any part of the scriptures of truth.
6. In the original scriptures, men are not commanded to immerse or to be immersed for baptism or to be baptized by immersion. In the Greek language there are two words which frequently but not always signify to put the thing mentioned entirely under water or under something else. Neither of these is the very word immerse itself; nor is either of them, at any time, used in the original spriptures to denote baptism. Indeed, only one of them is used by the Spirit of God for any purpose whatever; but that one is not at any time or in any passage in the Greek Testament, used to signify baptism. If God had intended to teach the world that immersion is baptism or the only mode of baptism; he would certainly for this purpose have used, at least once, one of the words which sometimes signify to immerse or to put entirely under water. In the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, no word is used for baptism, which denotes immerse. If the King of kings had intended to inform the world that immersion is the only mode of baptism; it is strange, passing strange, that he has not told men so in a single passage in his own holy book ! ! It is truly astonishing that men should be called upon to believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism, when the word immerse is not used so much as once in the whole word of God, for baptism, or in English for any other purpose! And when neither of the original words which sometimes denote immerse is, at any time, used in Scripture for baptize. If the word immerse was ever employed in the scriptures for any purpose resembling baptism; men might fancy that in such an instance the word denoted baptism.— But how can they imagine that the word is recorded in the book of God and that it denotes baptism! And then to crown the imaginary climax, they appear to fancy that they can make people of sense believe that immersion is not merely a mode, but that it is the only mode of baptism. Is it possible for a man to believe, that God commands him to be immersed or to immerse others, when the scriptures do not so much as mention immersion as a mode of administering that ordinance? If he can, he can believe that God commands what is not so much as once mentioned as baptism in the whole of Divine revelation.
7. God, in his word, does not say that baptize signifies immerse. Any person by reading that holy book can easily perceive, that God therein does not say, that the word baptize always denotes immerse. He does not say that to immerse is its radical meaning; nor does he so much as intimate that it is ever used in that sense. Not even a suggestion of this kind, is found in the whole word of God. By explaining the word therefore, God does not teach that baptize always or ever denotes immerse. Had he chosen, he could have so defined the word baptize. His wisdom could have discovered an expression by which it might have been explained, if none such had existed among men. But words did then exist in the Greek language, by which mankind might have been taught that baptize meant immerse, if that was in truth its signification. Either of the two words which in Greek frequently signify to immerse, might have been used as a substitute for or to define the word baptize. If either or both these words had at any time been used by Divine inspiration, for baptism, or to define that word; probable evidence would have thus been furnished to prove that immersion is one mode of baptism. But neither of them is ever used in the word of God, either as a substitute for or to explain the word baptize. The word for immersion is used three times in the Greek Testament; but in not one of them does it denote baptism; and it is by no means certain, that in any of them it denotes immerse.— God therefore in his word does not teach mankind, that immerse is the only meaning, or the radical meaning, or any meaning of the word baptize. To affirm that this is its meaning, is, therefore to make an assertion unsupported by the language of inspiration. It is to turn aside from the Divine instruction of God's word.
no passage of Scripture does the word baptism
evidently signify immerse. In the English New Testament,
the word baptize, in its various modifications, is used eighty-nine times; and
in the Greek Testament the original word for baptize in its different forms, is
found in ninety- three places. In some of its forms, it is translated into
English by the words " wash "—"washing"—"washed,
"and "washings." But
in no one of these ninety-three passages does the connection evidently show that
necessarily the meaning of the word baptize. To give it a different
sense will not, in any place where it is used, destroy or injure the meaning of
the passage. If it be said that John baptized at the
EXAMPLE Of IMMERSION
RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE
1. God in his word does not say that any person was immersed. It is “said” of Christ and of the Eunuch and of Paul and of others; they were "baptized;" but of not one person, is it said, in the whole book of God; he was immersed.
2. No one named in the word of God says of himself that he was immersed. In the scriptures, persons are often mentioned as speaking of themselves. But in no instance are we told in the word of God; that any person good or bad, declares of himself, I was immersed, or I am about to be immersed, or I will be immersed, or God requires me to be immersed. No one individual mentioned in scripture, wise or unwise, Christian, Jew or Heathen, pretends to present himself as an example of immersion.
3. The original Scriptures do not present any example of immersion for baptism. No word denoting immerse is used for baptism in the original scriptures. Neither of the two words used in Greek sometimes denote immerse, is used of any person to express his baptism. Only one of these words is used in the Greek New Testament. It is employed by our Saviour when he says; "He that dippeth" "his hand with me in the dish shall betray me." "It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish;"— "When he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas." No person, in any of these expressions, is mentioned as being baptized. Since no word which definitely expresses immersion, is used in scripture to denote any person's baptism; it is evident that the word of-God contains no definite example of any person being baptized by immersion.— And without positive precept or example in the word of God to sustain the position, men are called upon to believe that immersion, and that only, is baptism!! What an unblushing demand!!
4. No person mentioned in Divine revelation intimates that he immersed others or that he baptized any one by immersion. It is often stated that persons baptized others. John "baptized " the Lord Jesus Christ; Paul baptized " Crispus and Gaius ;" Philip " baptized " the Eunuch ;t and many other examples of baptism being administered, are mentioned in the Divine word. But not an instance is mentioned of one person immersing another for baptism or for any other purpose whatever. Moreover, it is not stated in a single passage of God's word, that any person baptized another by immersion; or that the word baptize ever signifies immerse. There is therefore no example of immersion for baptism mentioned in the whole word of God,
INFERENTIALLY TAUGHT IN THE WORD OF GOD
1. What is intended by an inference or inferential evidence may be properly noticed here. An inference is not a mere assertion; nor is it taking for granted the point to be proved; nor yet is it an artful evasion of the subject in discussion. But an inference is a conclusion fairly drawn from what is admitted to be true or has been before proved. That which is a proper inference, must be found in, and be a component part of, what is admitted or proved to be true; or it must be manifestly and inseparably connected with it. If this is not the case, the conclusion drawn, is not, properly speaking, an inference. It is only conjecture or assertion. In consequence of man's imperfect judgment; inferences may appear fair to one person, and dark, if not fanciful to another. In religious matters therefore but little reliance can be placed upon inferences or upon the inferential evidence resulting from-them, where there is no positive scripture testimony on the subject. This remark has the more force, as every religious doctrine or duty which God requires men to believe or practice, is expressed in some portion of his word in plain, positive language. Every doctrine or practice therefore which claims to be religious, and which has no positive scriptural evidence to support its claims, ought to be rejected as being destitute of Divine authority by which it can be sustained.
the use of the word “into”, it
cannot be inferred that persons were immersed for baptism.
One essential part of immersion
is to go or be put entirely under water (a). This is not the only meaning
of the word “into." Indeed this is not even one of its significations. It
does not denote under or entirely under. When
"Abram went down into Egypt," he did not go under the ground; when
Christ went up into a "mountain," he did not
go down under it; when the two Marys' entered "into" our
Saviour's "sepulcher," they did
not go under it; when the mariners with whom Paul was sailing to Rome,
were in distress, "they were minded" to "trust" the ship
" into," not under a
"certain creek." These
and similar passages in the word of God, show most conclusively, that the word
into does not mean under. When it is said of Philip and the Eunuch;
“they both went down into the water;" the language does not convey the
idea that they went under
the water; or performed one essential part of immersion.
If it had been said that both Philip and the Eunuch went down under the
water; then each of them would have performed one act which is essential to immersion.
But to go “down into the water" is
not to go under it; because
into never means under. To go down into the garden, or into
the meadow, or into the cellar; is not to go under the garden, or under the
meadow, or under the cellar. To go into, then, is not to go under; and to go
down into the water is not therefore to go under it in any proper sense of the
words used. Nor did going “into the water'' baptize the Eunuch. But after they
had both gone down “into the water,"… then
Philip baptized him. The language used plainly teaches this fact. It is this;
"And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch; and he
baptized him." If it were asked; what did Philip do to the Eunuch after
they had both gone "down into the water?" the answer would be; “he
baptized him." The act of going into the water, was not therefore
going under it, was not immersion
in any of its essential parts, was not baptism;
for the ordinance of baptism
was administered after
they were both in, or at the water. To say
therefore that the Eunuch was immersed because he went down into the water, is
to affirm what the language does not teach either wholly or in part. Here then
we have no inferential evidence in favor of immersion.
In this passage there is no position mentioned or admitted, or proved,
from which to infer that the Eunuch was immersed. The
declaration that he was baptized by immersion
is a mere assertion un-sustained by Divine authority or by even a
tolerable inference. It is mere unsupported fancy.
the use of the words "out of," immersion
cannot be inferred. Because it is said that "Moses—
brought" the children of
doctrine of immersion
cannot be inferred from the use of the Greek word (eis) translated "into."
This Greek word is found more than six hundred times in the Greek Testament.
It is used in a great variety of senses. Twelve of these are here mentioned. It
denotes on, to, in, unto, into, (not under,) at, against, before,
upon, for, towards, among. But
it does not signify under, nor is it so rendered in the New Testament.
From the use of this word by the Holy Spirit, it
cannot be ascertained that either Philip or the Eunuch wet so much as the soles
of their feet, when "he baptized him." All we
can certainly know from its use is, that the Eunuch was not immersed; for
the word (eis) or
into, does not denote under.
If the Spirit of God chooses to use a word which denotes to, at, towards, and
the like; no person can, without presumption, say positively, that it means in
or into in a particular connection, unless the sense of the passage requires
it to have that particular signification. As the sense of the passage which
speaks of the baptism of the Eunuch, will not be injured by translating the word
(eis) for "into," by to or towards; either of
these may, in that very connection, be its signification. From
this word therefore, it cannot be fairly inferred that either Philip or the
Eunuch touched the water with their feet when Philip administered the ordinance
him; and much less that either of them was entirely under its surface. Besides,
this Greek word (eis) does not denote under or below the surface, and to
go or be put under water is indispensable in immersion.
therefore, when it is said ; they "went down" (eis) " into
the water," the sense would not be injured, if the word (eis) was
rendered to or towards, instead of into; and since this Greek word
does not denote under or below the surface; no fair inference can be drawn from
it to sustain immersion.
that the Eunuch was not immersed is certain, because the language used by
inspiration does not signify immersion.
the use of the Greek word (ex) translated "out of," immersion
cannot be inferred. This word is used by the Holy Spirit,
when it is said; " Philip and the Eunuch came "up out
of the water," and in more than three hundred other places in the
Greek Testament. It literally denotes from. It is so translated in nearly
two hundred passages in the New Testament; It marks the point from which a
movement is made. This appears from the expression; “there came other
boats" (ex) "from Tiberias." These boats must have
commenced their movement from some part of the water near which the town of
the use of the, Greek word (en) rendered
cannot be inferred. In the Greek Testament this word (en)
is used about three hundred limes. It is translated into English by the word
“at," more than one hundred times; and by the word "with,"
in more than one hundred and fifty passages; and by other words in other
it does not signify, and is not translated, under, in the whole
This word therefore cannot be forced into the service of immersion
by any fair construction; nor can it be made the ground from which immersion
can be inferred. As the word (ev)
does not denote under or below the surface; when it is said, "John
baptized" (en) " in"
(not under) "Enon,"—(en)
"in Jordan," (not under it,)—(en)
"with water;" it cannot be inferred from this language, that he
baptized under the waters of Jordan or under those at Enon; because
the word (ev)
in Greek never denotes under; nor is this
the signification of either in or with, in English. But from the
language used, it may be fairly concluded, that John baptized at or near Enon or
the Jordan, "with water" taken from that fountain or river; because
the Spirit of God uses a word (en) in
these passages of scripture, which almost universally signifies at or with,
though it is not used to express under. And it should always be borne
in mind that in receiving immersion
the person not only goes near or to or in or into,
but he must necessarily go or be put under, the water in order to be
immersed. From the use of this word (en),
it cannot therefore be inferred with any degree of propriety, that John, when he
baptized, wet the soles of his own feet; or that the foot of any one whom he
baptized came in contact with water. No
therefore, from the use of this word (en),
even conjecture that John immersed or put entirely under water, all whom he
Even when this Greek word (en) is translated in, it frequently denotes at or near by. This is manifest from the following language; "In" (en) "the place where" Jesus "was crucified, there was a garden." Certainly, this garden was at or near, not under, the place where our Saviour was crucified.
7. Immersion cannot be inferred from the use of the Greek word (apo) translated, “out of." It is used in the Greek Testament more than three hundred times. It literally signifies from, and is so translated in the New Testament more than two hundred and fifty times. It not only may, but often must, be so translated; as in the question which John proposed to some of the Jews; " Who hath warned you to flee" (apo) "from," (not out of,) "the wrath to come." Besides, this word (apo) never signifies from under, any more than do the English words "out of". The expression, "Jesus—went up:—out of the water" might, without injuring the sense or deviating from the original, be rendered ; Jesus went up from the water. As therefore the original word (apo ) here rendered "out of," never signifies from under; it cannot, when used of our Saviour, intimate that he had been under the water or immersed. If a person comes “out of” the water, it may be fairly inferred that he had been in it; but to infer that because he came "out of," that therefore he had been under, the water, would be absurd. But how much more absurd would it be, to infer that because Jesus Christ came (apo) from, that therefore he had been under the surface of the water. From the use of this original word, all that can be fairly inferred is, that our Saviour had been at or near, and then came (apo) from the water; and by no means that he had been under the water or below its surface.
inferred from the use of the word baptize. This is the word, the
meaning of which is sought. To
say that the word baptize denotes immerse, because some men assert that it does,
is not fair inferential evidence. To infer immersion
from the use of this or any other word; it is necessary to find it so
situated in some one passage at least of the word of God, that no other
signification can fairly be given to it without destroying, or at least
injuring, the sense. The word baptize is not so situated in any passage of
scripture. In every place where it is found in God's word; it may have a
signification different from immerse. In the baptism
of Christ, or of the Eunuch, or of Paul, or of any other person or
persons mentioned in the word of God, not a
single expression is used which necessarily includes or teaches immersion.
That the word baptize denotes immerse cannot therefore be inferred from
the connection in which it is found in any passage of scripture; because the
connection in no passage necessarily requires this to be its signification.
Since therefore, God in his word, does not say that baptize signifies immerse;
since he does not use the word in any connection which requires it to have this
meaning; since he does not, in one passage of scripture, call that baptism,
which in another, he calls immersion;
we have no scriptural evidence that immersion
is the only, the principal or any meaning of the word baptize. As
that cannot be fairly inferred from a word, which is not proved to be in
no one can, consistently with reason, infer that the word baptize denotes
immerse; because this is not necessarily one of its scriptural significations;
nor is this proved, from the word of God, to be one of its meanings. From
the use of the word baptize, therefore, no proper inference can be drawn in
favor of immersion
being even a mode, and much less the only mode of baptism.
9. That immersion is baptism cannot be inferred from the fact that the word baptize is transferred into the English Bible. In every passage, except four, where baptize is used in the Greek Testament, it is transferred into English by merely omitting the prefixes and giving the words an English termination. This one fact proves conclusively that the translators of the Holy Scriptures into the English language, were wise and faithful men. There is no other single word in the English language, which can express all that baptize frequently signifies. When water is, by a New Testament minister, applied to a person "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" he is said to be baptized. This one word often expresses all that is denoted by this whole sentence. But all this cannot be expressed by any other single word in the English language. A log or an animal may be immersed or put entirely under water; but neither can be baptized. A person who is not a minister of the gospel, may immerse himself or another; but a minister only can baptize (a). Indeed there is no one word which is originally a part of the Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldee, Arabic, Ethiopic, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish or English language, which will convey to the mind, the exact meaning of the Greek word (baptidzo) for baptize. Perhaps no other word in any language, would be a complete substitute for the word baptize. This being the fact, wisdom to discover this point, and faithfulness in presenting the original idea in proper words, will lead those who translate the New Testament from the Greek into other languages, to transfer the original word (baptidzo) for baptize into their translations. Nor would this transfer of the word baptize imply that it denoted immerse; nor could any person on that account infer that immersion was one of its significations. To alter the word baptize, therefore, in order to sustain a favorite notion, is not a mark of that “wisdom" which “is from above.” But to do so shows a bigoted attachment to preconceived opinions, and a reckless disregard of Divine truth. The Christian loves his religious principles and practices, because God in his word teaches them. But he does not adopt the scriptures of truth; because, and so far as, they sustain his peculiar opinions.
10. Learning cannot find in the word of God, any inferential evidence in favor of immersion. Learning cannot find that which does not exist. And, as there is no inferential evidence in the Holy Scriptures to sustain the claims of immersion; so learning cannot find any such evidence in God's word. Learning does not create evidence of any kind on any subject. It only discovers and presents evidence clearly to the mind. Ignorance leaves evidence undiscovered or unperceived, and substitutes assertion for argument. And when learning throws so much light on a subject that even ignorance cannot but perceive in some degree the force of truth; then it begins to revile learning, as if it’s great and principal business was to deceive those who were able to perceive the force and application of the evidence which it presents in favor of truth. Thus the votaries of ignorance are led on by its despotic influence in the paths of self-deception, till they stumble on the dark mountains of vanity, and are “destroyed for lack of knowledge." These, at the same time, are, by this their tyrannical master, induced to believe that ignorance is almost immaculate purity, and learning only varnished vileness. When a subject is made so plain by learning that even the ignorant cannot avoid perceiving the convincing power of evidence, they then immediately fancy that learning can prove wrong to be right and right, wrong. In this way ignorance keeps its slaves bound in its chains, and will continue to do so, unless they allow themselves to believe that learning which makes difficult subjects plain, is at least as likely to be honest as ignorance which darkens "counsel by words without knowledge.” Indeed, a wiser "than Solomon" teaches us, that men love" darkness rather than light, because their deeds" are “evil." Upon ignorance therefore which loves "darkness rather than light,"! Must the charge of dishonesty rest. That which brings matters to the light cannot be chargeable with keeping them in the dark. If a charge of dishonesty is to be made, it must therefore be made against ignorance, not against learning. Besides, ignorance costs nothing. No. labor, no time, no means are required to make a person ignorant. But not a little of all these is required to make a person learned. Now since ignorance can deceive as well as learning, if not better, (because it may be sincere in its deceptions,) who would labor long and hard for the sake of deceiving others when by remaining in a state of ignorance, he could, without labor, accomplish his object better? There is little danger of real learning deceiving any person in relation to baptism or any other subject; while sophistry, self-sufficiency, bigotry and ignorance are to be dreaded by all who would not be their dupes. There is no danger of true learning ever presenting any inferential evidence in favor of immersion, as if that were thus taught in the word of God ; for this plain reason, that true learning, when it is brought to bear on that subject, will soon perceive that, in the Scriptures, there is no such evidence in favor of immersion.
ALLUSION TO IMMERSION
IN THE WORD OF GOD
1. An allusion cannot, properly speaking, be made to that which does not exist. To allude or make an allusion is to refer to something. In making an allusion, the thing alluded to is not generally at the time, mentioned in plain words. But the fact that an allusion is made to any thing, proves that what is alluded to, does exist. If therefore a thing does not exist, it cannot be alluded to. But as immersion is not so much as once mentioned in the whole word of God, no person ought to expect to find therein an allusion made to it; for it must be but a fanciful conjecture to suppose that Omniscience would allude in the Divine word, to what he, in it, does not even once name. Nor would it be less fanciful to. imagine that God would very often mention baptism in his word by its own proper designation, and not once call it immersion, or in any way describe it by language which denotes immerse, if he intended to teach mankind that this was- baptism or the only mode of baptism. To find an allusion made in the word of God to immersion, is not to be expected; because the thing itself is not there.
2. The word bury does not allude to immersion. The word in English does not either literally or figuratively refer to immersion. To say that a person is buried, might allude to the decay of his body, or to its resurrection, or possibly to the immortality of the soul of him whose body was buried; but to say that bury literally alludes to immersion, is mere unbridled conjecture. Every one knows that to bury the dead is not the same thing as to put the living entirely under water. To bury does not mean to immerse. To say that a person is buried then cannot literally teach or allude to immersion. Figuratively, the word bury denotes to hide or conceal, not to immerse. The person who is immersed is not even concealed the moment he is under the water. Nor is there any attempt made in immersion to conceal or hide the person immersed. Nothing of this kind was attempted, when individuals, both male and female were immersed in a state of perfect nudity. So far then is the word bury, in its figurative signification, from alluding to or teaching immersion, that Immersers themselves do not even attempt to conceal or hide the immersed. This act therefore does not, cannot bear any resemblance to the figurative meaning of the word bury..
The Greek word used for bury expresses all the parts of an ancient funeral. These were various. (l.) The dead body was washed, not by immersing it entirely under, but by applying water to it; (2.) It was wrapped in a clean cloth; (3.) It was laid out; (4.) It was laid in a suitable place, usually for one or more days; (5.) It was anointed; (6.) It was embalmed; (7.) It was carried out to the narrow "house appointed for all the living;" (8.) It was deposited in the grave. This original word in its various modifications, expresses much more than the English. For a person therefore to say that, when this word is used, an allusion is made to immersion, or that immersion is taught by it, is to bluff their way through with dogmatic assertions and not intellect. If a person should affirm that the word funeral referred to immersion, or that going to a funeral indicated that immersion was baptism; the assertion would be sufficiently absurd. But to say that a word which denotes to wrap in a cloth, to anoint, to lay out and to embalm, besides expressing all that is included in the term funeral, alludes to immersion; is crowding too hard on the common sense of mankind.
word bury or buried does not in any passage of scripture, allude to immerse.
Men have quoted three passages of the word of God, to prove such an
allusion. In two of these, the word buried is used; in one it is not, though the
death of Christ is mentioned in this last. These are (1.) "We are buried
with him by baptism
into death;" (2.) Ye are "buried with him in baptism;"
(3.) "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into
his death." These expressions of scripture are sometimes supposed to allude
to immersion. Men
often assert that they teach this to be a mode, if not the only mode of baptism.
As the word bury or buried does not, either
in its literal or figurative sense, denote immerse; so in the use of
that word, no such allusion can be found. If these portions of God's word are
carefully examined, no allusion to immersion
can be found in them. This appears (1.) From the fact that the word bury,
or "buried," does not signify any thing that resembles what
is done to a person who is immersed. The word bury or buried does not in itself,
allude to immerse. (2.) Moreover, in the burying mentioned in these passages,
persons are said to be “buried with" Christ” by
death," not into the grave. The death of Christ took place on
the cross. We "are buried with him by baptism
into death." But death by crucifixion has no resemblance to immersion;
therefore baptism into
Christ's death on the cross, does not, cannot, teach, or even allude to immersion.
is not the least resemblance between the Saviour's death on the cross several
feet above the ground, and the putting of a person entirely under water. That
any person should ever imagine that being buried with
death on the cross, had any reference to immersion,
(3.) Besides, if this burying, instead of being into death on the cross, as it
is, had been, buried with him into his grave; still there could be, even then,
no allusion to immersion.
Saviour when buried was laid in a "new tomb—hewn out of a rock.” A
"great stone" was "placed at the door of" this his
"sepulcher." The place in which he was laid was so large that the two
Marys' " entering into the sepulcher—saw a young man sitting at the right
side" of it; and that Peter and the beloved " disciple" entered
it at the same time. Our Lord's sepulcher was therefore a small room hewn out of
a rock, sufficiently large for a number of persons to enter and remain, in it
is then no more resemblance between the act of laying the dead body of Christ in
the tomb and that of a living person going entirely under water, than there
would be between immersion
laying a dead body in a small bed-room.
Between the two acts, there is not the least resemblance; nor is there the most
distant allusion in one of them, made to the other. (4.) Between the mode of
disposing of the dead in any country by any people and immersion,
there is not the least resemblance; and consequently in the one there can be no
allusion made to the other. Some portions of the human race consume their dead
on funeral piles; some deposit a part of them at least on trees; some place the
body in a sitting posture; some place the dead in a kind of artificial caves
called vaults; and some remove the earth and lay the body in the place from
which the material was removed and then sprinkle or shovel the earth in upon the
corpse. The last two modes are adopted by Christian and civilized nations. The
others are practiced by the savage and semi- barbarous. It is manifest that to
consume a body by fire or place it on a tree, or in a sitting posture, cannot
To lay a
corpse in a vault is like placing it in a cellar, not like putting a living man
under water. Nor does that mode of interment resemble immersion,
the earth is removed from its original position; the body laid in the place from
which the earth was taken, and then the dead covered by putting upon it a small
quantity of earth at a time. This mode of burying might resemble sprinkling or
pouring, but could not resemble immersion;
because in this, there is no one act that looks in the least like putting a
living person under water. Immersion
practiced by any class of Immersers, does not and cannot resemble the mode in
which any people bury their dead. (5.)To
be buried with Christ "by baptism
death," does not teach or allude to any mode of baptism
is expressly stated that those who are buried with him by baptism
death, are "baptized into Jesus Christ;"
"walk in newness of life;" have their "old man—crucified
;" do "not serve sin ;" are dead " unto sin;" are
" alive unto God ;" are " alive from the dead ;" have
"obeyed from the heart;" are " made free from sin;" are
" the servants of righteousness ;" are "become the servants of
God ;" are "risen with him through the faith of the operation of God
;" are " quickened together with him;" and "have their
trespasses" forgiven. The persons here described must have been true
Christians. No external application of water in any mode or by any person, could
possibly remove from the sinner, his "carnal mind which is enmity against
God," and produce in him that spiritual mind which is here described. To
do this is the work of the Holy Spirit (a); not of baptism
water. It is manifest
from facts that baptism
water, whatever may be the mode or whoever the administrator, is not always
preceded, accompanied or followed by the regenerating and converting grace of
God's spirit. Too many after they are baptized, no matter how or by whom the
ordinance may have been administered, prove by their actions that they are yet
"enemies" of God "by wicked works." Simon the Samaritan
sorcerer, after "he was baptized" with water, was still "in the
gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." His could not therefore
have been that baptism
leads those who receive it to “walk in newness of life." As no baptism
of the Holy Ghost can produce this new and spiritual “walk;” so whenever
this "newness of life" is produced, baptism
Holy Ghost or regeneration has taken place. But this holy walk results from
being "baptized into" Christ's" death;" therefore
be "with the Holy Ghost," and not with water; because this does and baptism
water does not, invariably produce "newness of life."
mentioned in these passages, being baptism
the Holy Ghost does not teach or allude to immersion
any mode of water baptism.
(6.) Christians, it is
said, "are risen with" Christ," through the faith of the
operation of God." This rising is not the act of coming out of the grave.
Christians, as well as others, will start from the sleep of ages, when the sound
4. Noah and his family were preserved in the ark, but this fact docs not teach or allude to immersion. The language in which some persons fancy that immersion is taught or alluded to, is this; "God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was—preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water; the like figure whereunto, even baptism doth also now save us." In the ark, Noah and his family were saved from the all-devouring flood. They "only remained alive" of the whole human race who then lived on earth. The ark, the vessel in which they were saved from this overwhelming calamity, was borne up by, and "went upon, the face" or surface "of the waters." Noah and his family were saved in the ark. This vessel was borne up, "upon the face of the waters." This deliverance from a tremendous temporal judgment, of all who were actually in the ark, represents the deliverance, from eternal misery, of all true believers. This spiritual salvation is enjoyed by those, and by those only, who have by faith entered the spiritual ark, the Lord Jesus Christ. By faith sinners are brought into this ark; for by faith, and by faith only, are they united to Christ. God the Spirit, in regeneration, or when they are baptized with the Holy Ghost, produces this "faith" in their souls. The baptism here mentioned saves us. As no baptism is essential to salvation, except that of the Spirit; so this baptism which saves us, or is essential to salvation, must therefore be baptism with the Holy Ghost, and not with water. It is this spiritual baptism therefore, of which Noah's preservation in the ark was a figure. But his preservation in the ark could not be a figure of immersion; because there is no resemblance between the one and the other. That there is no allusion to immersion in the preservation of Noah and his family in the ark, appears; (1.) From the fact that they were saved by being in the ark, above the water, not by being put under that fluid, as is the case with all who are immersed; (2.) From the fact that the ark "went on the face of the waters," or floated on their surface, so that even the vessel in which they were saved, was not immersed or put entirely under water. (3.) To be carried in the ark above water, could not possibly allude to, or represent immersion, or the putting of persons all over under its surface. (4.) They were under the roof of the ark; and persons are usually immersed in the open air. (5.) They were entirely hid from those who were on the outside of the ark; but when persons are in the act of receiving immersion, they are visible to those who are near them; because water is transparent, but the covering of the ark was not. (6.) The covering of the ark did not come in contact with Noah and his family, or with their dress; but those who are covered with water in immersion, have the covering element, water, in contact at least with their dress. It is manifest therefore that the preservation of Noah and his family in the ark, did not, in any sense of the word, allude to immersion. In those who perished in the flood, an allusion to immersion might easily be discovered; for these were entirely covered with water, and so are the immersed. Here then is a very manifest resemblance between those who were wholly covered with the waters of the deluge, and those who are wholly covered with water in immersion. But Noah and his family were not immersed or put entirely under water. Even the very ark in which they were preserved, was not immersed; for it moved on the surface of, instead of sinking entirely under, the water. A person in the ark was as safe from being immersed, as he would be in a house or church, in which no cistern could be found. In the preservation of Noah and his household in the ark, there was not a single point which resembles immersion in the least. Noah and his family were saved from being immersed in water. Those who enjoy that baptism of which their preservation in the ark was a type, are now saved from being immersed in sin, from remaining under “the wrath of God" and from legal condemnation. They will also, in the world to come, be saved from being immersed “in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." In the preservation, therefore, of Noah and his household in the ark, there can be no allusion to, or evidence in favor of, immersion.
5. The expression “washing" or “washed with water," 'does not allude to immersion. The language used by inspiration, and which includes the words "washing" and "washed," is this; "Ye are washed;"—"Christ—loved the church—that he might—cleanse it with the washing of water by the word ;"—" He saved us by the washing of regeneration;"—" Let us draw near" to God, " having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water ;"—and " wash away thy sins." In relation to these passages, it may be remarked, (1.) That the word immerse is not used in any of them. (2.) If the washing mentioned in them, is literal; then to perform such a washing, more is necessary than to dip that to be washed into water, so that it may be entirely covered and then immediately take it out again. No literal pollution could be removed in this way. To wash away literal defilement supposes more than this. Indeed, in washing literally, a part of the thing washed, if not the whole of it, is frequently out of the water during the operation. Moreover, in washing a person, or almost any vessel, the water is applied to what is washed, instead of even dipping what is washed into the water. If the article washed is not so much as dipped into the water, certainly it could not be immersed or put entirely under water in the act of being washed. When persons wash themselves, or are washed by others, or when tables, churns, tubs, pails, or the like, are washed; they are not usually, if at all, immersed in water. A literal washing therefore requires more than immersion; and it is not usually performed by immersing the articles washed. (3.) In ceremonial washings water is applied to a part only of the person washed, to make him ceremonially ' clean every whit." (4.) The word wash is used to express the falling of tears on the part washed. Our Saviour's feet were "washed" with "tears." Every one knows that tears always fall in drops. That which is washed "with tears," is therefore washed with drops falling upon it; or in other words, it is washed by sprinkling. This washing then could not possibly teach immersion; for no one can, for a moment, suppose that our Lord's feet were put entirely under water in the tears with which they were washed. (5.) If the washing mentioned in these passages, is spiritual; then the body is not represented as being washed either wholly or in part; because, spiritual washing is that of the soul,—not the washing of the body in any of its parts, or for any purpose. (6.) The first of these passages may denote that Christians "are washed" in the blood of Christ ; in the second and fourth, the persons washed had water applied to them in some mode to symbolize the washing away of sin. The third, as it is expressly called “the washing of regeneration," not the washing "of water," or of baptism, must denote the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit in his regenerating power upon the soul. In the fifth, the washing “away of sins," is mentioned. No truly converted person can be made to believe that this work is affected by the application of water to the body. Only two of these passages therefore can possibly speak of baptism. And in neither of these is any word used, that denotes immersion; nor is any such word found in the context. Not the least intimation then is given us in any one of these passages that immersion is baptism. But as nothing is said in them, either directly or indirectly, in favor of immersion for baptism or for any other purpose; they can therefore contain no real allusion to that substitute for a Divine ordinance. (7.) As sprinkling is mentioned in one of these passages, that mode may be taught or alluded to when the application of water is mentioned. (8.) But it is clear that immersion is not taught or alluded to, in any of these passages, whether a literal, ceremonial or spiritual washing is taught in one or more of them. (9.) The word wash does not signify immerse. This is not one of its meanings in the English language. (10.) If it, at any time, signifies baptize, this is a figurative sense of the term; as baptize and wash are by no means synonymous in their significations. It is manifest therefore that to wash with water, is not an expression which alludes to immersion.
be covered all over with any material, docs not allude to or teach immersion.
If to be covered with any substance is immersion,
then all persons are constantly immersed; for all are at all times covered with
atmospheric air. This is essential to our very existence. In the ordinary course
THE ONLY MODE OF BAPTISM
1. Christian baptism is mentioned in the word of God. This fact is taught in the commission given by the Lord Jesus Christ to the disciples and their successors in the ministerial office. These are commanded to teach and baptize. That they did baptize with water, in obedience to Christ's direction, is a fact often stated in scripture; and that persons were commanded to receive the ordinance of baptism after his resurrection, is also too frequently mentioned to be denied by any person who believes the bible to be a revelation from God. That the ordinance of Christian baptism is mentioned in the book of God, is therefore an undeniable fact.
2. Immersion is not, in the Scriptures, mentioned as a mode of baptism. Any person who reads the word of God, can easily determine this point for himself. It is a mere matter of fact. If the word immerse or immersion is once recorded in the scriptures of truth, it can be found and the chapter and verse mentioned. The person who examines this subject, with the least degree of care, will soon discover that the much-loved word immerse is not, in the scriptures, used for baptism. Notwithstanding all the noise which has been made to induce persons to believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism; God has not definitely taught mankind in his word that it is even one mode of administering that ordinance. It will be difficult to make men of sense believe that what is not so much as once mentioned in the whole word of God as baptism, is the only mode by which it can, be administered.
3. Immersion, as a mode of baptism, is not, by other language, definitely taught in the Holy Scriptures. There is, in, the word of God, no command for immersion; no example of immersion; no inferential evidence in favor of immersion; nor is there in the scriptures even a manifest allusion to immersion. This therefore cannot be the only mode of baptism. But though to sustain its claims, it has no authority from the word of God, no evidence in its, favor either direct or indirect, from Divine truth; -yet immersion, with all the self-importance of an Eastern Despot, Steps forth and demands to itself submission from all, as the only mode of baptism. It is so self-opinionated that it is not, (without any definitely expressed scriptural evidence of any kind; in its favor,) satisfied to be allowed a standing as a mode of baptism. It even demands to be acknowledged as the only mode.
4. If any number of passages of Scripture stated expressly that immersion was baptism, and that persons were immersed for baptism, this would not prove immersion to be the only mode of baptism. If one passage or ten or ten thousand, stated expressly that immersion was baptism, or a mode of baptism then scriptural evidence would thereby be furnished to prove that immersion was baptism. But no number of declarations to prove immersion to be baptism, would prove it to be the only mode of baptism; or that nothing but immersion is baptism. If Immersers could prove from the express language of scripture that immersion was baptism; the same express language of scripture, might prove that water applied in a different mode was baptism also. To prove the position therefore which the exclusive Immersers always take, that immersion is the only mode of baptism; they must furnish proof to the point. They must first show by some express declaration, of scripture, that immersion is baptism. This they cannot do, for this plain reason; there is no such passage recorded in God's book. And then after they have accomplished this impossibility; they have another to accomplish, which is not less difficult than the former. They have then to produce one passage of scripture or more to prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But no portion of' the word of God, teaches explicitly that immersion is baptism; and, much less that it is the only mode of baptism. So far therefore as Divine, revelation is concerned; there is not the least intimation given to mankind to prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
5. If there is but one mode of baptism, that cannot be immersion. That which is not expressly mentioned in the word of God, cannot be the only mode of baptism. Immersion is not thus mentioned; it cannot therefore be the only mode of baptism. In no portion of scripture, is immersion called a mode or the only mode of baptism. God, in one passage of his word, speaks of "one baptism; but in no. portion of it, does he speak of one mode of baptism; and least of all does he say that there is only one mode of baptism. But if there is only one mode of baptism, it is perfectly certain to those who take God's truth for their rule of duty in all religious matters, that immersion is not that mode. Those who read the scriptures know full well that Divine truth does not declare that immersion is a mode or the only mode of baptism. It is manifest to them that what is not once definitely named, in God's word, as baptism, either in the original or in any correct translation, cannot be the only way in which that ordinance is to be administered. What God does not plainly teach in his word, cannot be even a religious duty which men are, by Divine authority, required to observe. That immersion is not thus taught, is too manifest to be denied by any person who reads and believes what is revealed in God's word.
6. Baptism, in some mode may be explicitly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, though immersion as baptism is not so revealed. Because the word immerse is not found in the translation of the scriptures into English; it does not follow that no other word is used in them. Though immersion is not plainly taught therein; other words may be used, which may teach a mode of baptism entirely different from immersion. And although no word in the original scriptures denoting immersion, is so much as once used for baptism or to define that word; yet words in the original languages of God's book may be used to teach another mode of baptism. It does not therefore follow that if there is no evidence to prove that immersion is baptism; then no evidence can be found to prove that baptism may be administered in any other way. The point then to which the mind is brought on this subject, is; not whether a person is to be immersed or not baptized-; but whether a person is to substitute immersion which is not mentioned in scripture as a mode of baptism, for that which is so mentioned; and let this thing which as baptism, is totally nameless in the word of God, arrogate to itself the exclusive privilege of being the Divine ordinance of baptism!! From these remarks it can be seen of how much value is the assertion; “If immersion is not the mode or the only mode of baptism, then there is no baptism." Would such persons really lay aside the word of God rather than their own beloved substitute for baptism ? From the language they often use, it appears that at least some of them would.
is not probable that persons were immersed in places where it is certain they
were baptized. (1.) John baptized “in Bethabara beyond
2. It is not probable that the Jews always immersed themselves before their meals. That they were accustomed to ceremonially wash or baptize themselves before meals is clearly taught in the word of God. A "certain Pharisee besought" our Saviour " to dine with him." He accordingly "went in and sat down to meat; and when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed," Greek “baptized,” " before dinner;" and again it is said of "all the Jews," "when they come from the market, except they wash," or baptize, "they eat not." It was therefore the custom of the Jews to baptize or wash themselves before eating their ordinary meals. It is by no means probable that they always or generally immersed themselves before they eat, or when they returned from market. Besides, the custom of the Jews was to wash or baptize themselves for these their ceremonial purifications, in "water- pots of stone—containing two or three firkins apiece" or less than twenty-five gallons each. There is not, therefore, the least probability that, when they washed or baptized themselves in these before their meals or when they came from market, the act of ablution was by immersion.
did not leave the place where they applied for baptism
in order to receive that ordinance. This may be easily
learned from the facts relating to this point. Persons are often mentioned as
being baptized in the same place where they heard the gospel. This was the fact
with "both men and women" who were baptized; of Paul, who "arose
and was baptized;" of "Cornelius—and his friends;" of
"Lydia—and her household ;" of " the jailer and all his;"
of the twelve men who were "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus;"
and of John who "did baptize—and preach"
in the same place. As persons heard the gospel, believed, and without changing
their location, were baptized, it is certainly improbable that they were always
taken away to some river, pond or cistern, to be immersed ; and that this
circumstance should not be so much as once mentioned in the word of God. If
persons were always immersed for baptism,
then there must have been water of sufficient depth for this purpose where they
were immersed. This deep water must have been where they heard the gospel and
applied for baptism,
must have gone to some water deep enough for the purposes of immersion.
no proof in the word of God or elsewhere that either was the case. Men who
believe that for which they have good evidence, cannot believe without the least
evidence that deep water was always found at the very spot where persons asked
to be baptized, or that they always went to places where such deep water was to
is not probable that persons are required to be immersed in places where they
are required to be baptized. Christ commands his ministering
servants to "teach all nations, baptizing them." All nations are
therefore to be taught and baptized. It may be remarked than, (1.) that the
inhabitants of Greenland, Iceland, Labrador, Norway, Lapland, and other Northern
regions, are to be baptized. In many of these countries, in order to immerse, a
hole must be cut through the ice. This, in high latitudes, for more than half
the year, is from ten to fifty feet thick. Moreover for months in succession,
the cold is so intense, that in a very few minutes, perhaps two or three, after
a hole was cut in the ice, the water would again be frozen over. It is not
probable that all adult persons, even delicate females, are required to be
immersed in these bleak regions. Even in the more temperate climates of Europe,
5. It is very improbable that those who were "baptized” for the dead were immersed. This baptism for the dead is mentioned as a proof of the resurrection from the dead. In immersion a living person is put under the water. This could not prove that a dead person was to be restored to life by Almighty power. Besides, the original word (huper) rendered ''for" literally denotes " above.''' It is not probable that a cistern was made above the dead in which to immerse the living. It is very improbable, therefore, that living persons were immersed when they were baptized for or above the dead.
show that immersion
is not, in all probability, the only mode of baptism.
(1.) It is a fact,
that the claim of immersion
to be the only mode of baptism,
“un-churches” a very large portion of professing Christians. Let a
Universalist, a Unitarian, a Deist, an Infidel, a Pantheist, an Atheist, and the
most devoted Christian, present themselves at the Communion Table of many
Immersers; and each would receive the same treatment. Each would be debarred.
Not one of them would be allowed to taste the crumbs that might fall from the
Lord's Table. And why is this devoted Christian put on a level with the Atheist?
Why? Simply because he has not been immersed as
a substitute for baptism;
because he has not taken that for the Divine
ordinance of baptism,
which is not so much as once named in the whole word of God.
All professing Christians, save the immersed, and even some of them, are thus
un-churched. They are, so far as external ordinances are concerned, put by many
Immersers, on a par with Atheists. There are in the world more than one hundred
and seventy-five millions of professing Christians. Of these, about one million
maintain that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
All these persons have or may have the same Bible. Nearly half of them
profess to be guided by its instructions in all religious duties. Now, it is
certainly very improbable that in a matter, where the intellect only is
concerned, but one out of more than a hundred, should be right, and all the
others wrong. And this must be the case, if immersion
and that only, is baptism.
(2.) It is a fact, that many of those denominations
of professing Christians, which do not admit that immersion
is the only mode of baptism,
require their public teachers of religion to be thoroughly educated men.
They require them to be particularly well versed in Hebrew and Greek, the
languages in which the scriptures were originally written (a). It is not
probable that all these men, thoroughly educated for the ministry, should be
entirely mistaken in relation to the mode of applying water in baptism.
(3.) It is a fact, that no denomination which
maintains that immersion
is the only mode of baptism,
does now, or ever did, require their ministry to be thoroughly educated
men. Many of their preachers have not even a good English education. They
frequently speak of learning in a minister as useless or even pernicious. It is
not probable then that one such uneducated preacher should be wiser than ten,
twenty, fifty or a hundred, educated men, in relation to the mode of baptism.
(4.) It is a fact, that almost all errorists who
baptize, adopt immersion
as one of their modes, if not as the only mode of baptism.
Errors are generally found in clusters. When therefore a number of
uneducated errorists uniformly adopt immersion
as their mode of baptism;
and more than ten times as many sound educated men, as uniformly adopt a
different mode, and turn aside from theirs; it becomes exceedingly improbable
that immersion is
the only mode of baptism
(&). Indeed, among those who profess to take the word of God for
their only rule of duty in religious matters; immersion
usually assumes an importance in proportion to their love of human,
instead of Divine authority. Accurate knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and
habitual obedience to the positive commands of
7. It is not probable that to baptize, a large quantity of water is necessary. Baptism is a significant ordinance (&). It symbolizes the work of God's Spirit on the souls of the truly converted, when, in regeneration, he applies to them the atoning blood of Christ. A large quantity of water is not necessary for this purpose. Neither scripture nor reason teaches that water enough to immerse the body is necessary to symbolize the purification of the soul from sin. It is not probable therefore, that this quantity is required or was always used for baptism.
8. It is not probable that tables or couches upon which persons formerly reclined at meals, were immersed. These were so large that at least twelve persons might recline at once on one of them while they were eating together. The "washing" of these “tables” is, in the original, expressly called for the baptizing of them. Now it is entirely improbable that these tables or couches (a) were immersed every time they were washed or baptized. It is therefore utterly improbable that baptize always means immerse, or that immersion and that only, is baptism.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ would not require baptism to be administered in such a way as to destroy life. To imagine that he would, is to suppose that he would act totally inconsistent with his character. He "came not to destroy men's lives, but to save." He " was holy, harmless," and "undefiled." To imagine therefore that he would direct his ministering servants to baptize in such a mode as to violate the command, "Thou shalt not kill," would be to suppose that he would act inconsistent with himself. That he would thus act, is impossible; because to do so would be inconsistent with his Divine nature. The commission, "Go ye—and teach all nations, baptizing them," includes persons in every state or condition in life. It therefore includes the sick, whatever may be their disease. To immerse or put entirely under water, especially in winter, those who are in certain stages of some diseases, would destroy life almost as soon as poison. Humanity shudders at the very idea of killing a sick person by immersion. And if that is the only mode of baptism, then Immersers must destroy life by this act or some diseased persons cannot obey the command which requires them to be "baptized." To command all the sick in every stage of every disease and at any season of the year to be immersed, is manifestly inconsistent with the character of him who "will have mercy and not sacrifice." He does not, in the case of any diseased person, dispense with obedience for a single day, whatever may be the degree or nature of his complaint No person, however severe the cold may be, is authorized by the word of God to defer his baptism for any length of time, till his health is restored. In (he scriptures no direction is given by which an individual is required, authorized or even permitted, to defer his baptism in consequence of disease. If it is impossible for believers in Divine revelation, to suppose that Christ would require his ministers to destroy life in the administration of this ordinance, it is equally impossible for .such to believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism. The opinion that death has been caused or hastened and disease induced by immersion, is not mere theory. Instances are known where both these evils have resulted from putting the bodies of diseased persons and others under water for baptism. The command, "Thou shalt not kill," stands in the way, therefore, of the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
2. It is impossible for a person to be immersed while standing. Paul was directed to "arise and be baptized;" and it is expressly stated that he "arose and was baptized." To be immersed, a person must be laid down on his face or on his back in the water, and then thrust under the element; or he must kneel down in it and be turned over forward till he is entirely covered with the water. Some Immersers adopt one of these modes and some another, as their fancies or leaders may dictate. But none of them ever think of rising up to be immersed; this impossibility they have not yet attempted. It is, therefore, as impossible for immersion to be the only scriptural mode of baptism, as it would be for Paul or others to be immersed while standing. Acts 22:16, and 9:18.
person cannot lie immersed by applying water to him. In every
mode of immersion,
and in every case, the person is applied to the water, and not the water
to the person. No class of Immersers, however their fancies may lead them into
absurdities, have yet attempted to immerse persons by applying water to them.
But wherever in the word of God this matter is mentioned, water is spoken of as
being applied to the person baptized; and in no one instance is the person
represented as being applied to the water. John, it is said, "baptized with
water"; but in no instance is it said that he applied persons to
or put them under the water. Peter says, "can any man forbid water
that" Cornelius and his friends" should not be baptized?" Not…
“can any man forbid these to be put under water?” As water is applied to the
person in baptism,
and as it is impossible to immerse by applying water to any one, so it is
therefore impossible for immersion
to be the only mode of baptism.
The use of the
preposition with after the word baptize
excludes the possibility of immersion
being the only mode of administering that ordinance. "With
water" does not signify under water. The word with
never denotes under or below the surface. When therefore God in his
word declares that baptism
"with water" was practiced, he
teaches, by such language, that immersion
was not the mode. Indeed, the language used shows that in such instances
not have been the mode. The original word (en) translated with, often
denotes at, sometimes in, and occasionally it has other
significations; but in the Greek language it does not signify below the surface
or under water. When, therefore, it is said of a man; he baptized (ev)
"with water," it is certain
that the language teaches that water is by him applied in baptism
to persons, and not the persons to the water. It
is also certain that to baptize "with water" cannot be immersion;
because to immerse is not to baptize "with
water." It is to put or have the person go entirely under that element. To
those who are baptized "with water,"
the fluid is applied. Such
cannot be immersion;
for in this last the person is invariably applied to the water, not the water to
is impossible to immerse persons on dry ground. This is so manifest that
no one ever thinks of making the attempt. Nor could any person who had no
favorite scheme to defend, ever imagine it possible to put an individual
entirely under water on dry ground. The Israelites in escaping from Egyptian
bondage passed through the
5. It is impossible for a person to immerse himself or be immersed in a vessel containing less than twenty-five gallons. It was the custom of the Jews to perform their ceremonial purifications in stone "water-pots"—" containing two or three firkins apiece". These might contain from one to twenty-three gallons each. Of these purifications of the Jews, it is said, "except they wash" or baptize, as it is in the original, "they eat not." That the Jews were accustomed to wash or baptize before their ordinary meals, is manifest from the fact that the Pharisee "marveled" because our Savior had not " washed," or baptized "before dinner, " Had the omission to wash before meals been customary, the Pharisee would not have marveled" when he observed the Lord Jesus Christ sitting down at the table without attending to this traditional ceremonial observance. It is manifest therefore that the Jews were accustomed to wash or purify themselves ceremonially before they ate their ordinary meals. These their ceremonial washings are in the original expressly called baptisms. When it is said of these purifications, they "-wash" or "washed," the Greek word for baptize or baptized is used. But they were accustomed to wash or baptize themselves in "water-pots of stone," containing, at the very most, less than twenty-five gallons. That these baptisms or washings were by immersion, is, therefore, as impossible, as it would be to immerse a full-grown man in a vessel containing not less than one, or more than twenty-three gallons. It is perfectly manifest that an. adult, person could not possibly be immersed in such a, vessel. But as the washing of adults in these water-pots, is called baptism, so it is perfectly certain that this baptism in these pots, not greatly exceeding in size a half-barrel, and perhaps much less, could not possibly be immersion; and therefore, immersion cannot possibly be the only Scriptural mode of baptism.
a miracle, it would be impossible for one man to immerse five thousand persons
each day for five hundred days in succession. The time which
intervened between the commencement of John's, public ministry and its close,
did not much, if any, exceed a year and a half. During this time, "
7. Twelve men could not immerse three thousand persons in about five hours. Peter "with the eleven" began his discourse to the Jews "at the third hour of the day;" or about nine o'clock in the morning. After he had spoken some time, they said to him, "and to the rest of the Apostles, men and brethren what shall we do? Peter answered this inquiry, and "with many other words," he exhorted them. How much time was spent in these discourses we are not informed. But we cannot suppose that after all these exercises more than five hours of the day remained. Peter and "the eleven" are the only persons mentioned as being, on this occasion, engaged either in preaching or baptizing. There is no evidence that the seventy disciples were there; and if they had been, they had no authority to baptize; for Christ, when he sent them, out, did not authorize them to administer baptism. In part of a day, these twelve baptized "about three thousand," or about two hundred and fifty each. If these were immersed, and four minutes, a shorter time than Immersers usually occupy in performing the ceremony, be allowed to put each person under water, it would have required more than sixteen hours to have immersed the whole three thousand. Without a miracle, no twelve men could immerse three thousand persons in part of a day. In this case we have no evidence that a miracle was-performed or was necessary. Immersers cannot deny that the three thousand were baptized in part of a day; for "the same day," they were received into "fellowship'' with the apostles. According to most of them, the only door into Christian fellowship and of the "breaking of bread" in the Lord's Supper, is immersion. That the three thousand therefore were baptized on that day, before or at the time they were received into fellowship, no exclusive Immerser can deny or doubt. Besides, at or near "Jerusalem," where these three thousand were baptized, there is no stream, pond or brook, sufficiently large to immerse an adult person in; and the hatred of the chief priests and other Jews to Christianity and to the apostles, would not allow them to permit the pools, (if they were deep enough, or the public cisterns, if any such existed and were suitable,) to be used for the administration of the ordinance of baptism. The Jewish rulers would not allow the apostles to occupy in peace, even their own private apartments for religious purposes. Certainly then, these Jews would not allow them to use for such purposes, any water over which they could exercise control. It is therefore manifest, (1.) That, as these three thousand were all baptized in part of a day, and as it was impossible for them to be immersed by twelve men in so short a time; so it is impossible for the baptism of these to have been by immersion. (2.) It was impossible for the apostles, at that time, to immerse at Jerusalem even if they had been so disposed; for the Jewish rulers who had just before "crucified the Lord of glory," had then both the will and the power to prevent them from doing so. And those who so sincerely hated every thing holy, as they did, could not, consistently with their hatred, have, either directly or indirectly, encouraged the apostles in the practice of any part of their religious duties. (3.) At or near Jerusalem, there was no water deep enough to immersion. To suppose therefore that the three thousand persons added to the church on the day of Pentecost, were immersed is to suppose an absolute impossibility.
8. To be immersed into death, on the cross is impossible. Christ died on the cross. When therefore true believers "are buried with him by baptism into death;" they are "baptized into" (eis) "his death" on the cross. It is impossible for baptism into such a death to be immersion. Death on the cross is produced by elevating the person above the earth; and in immersion, the person goes or is put entirely under water. No two things can be more unlike than death by crucifixion and immersion. It is therefore impossible for that baptism which is into the death of Christ on the cross to be immersion.
9. That baptism which is a figure of Noah's preservation in the ark, cannot be immersion. Noah and his family were preserved from being overwhelmed by the universal deluge, by being carried in the ark "on the face" or surface "of the waters," not by being immersed in them. The baptism then which is a "figure":): of their preservation, cannot be immersion. They were saved from being destroyed in the flood, because they were in the ark above the waters, not because they were thrust under their surface. It is impossible therefore for immersion to be the mode of baptism which figuratively represents the preservation of Noah and his family from the deluge. Immersion or going under water, cannot be a "figure" of sailing in the ark above or "on the face of the waters." What a wild fancy that man must have, who can suppose that being in the ark "on the face of the waters," is symbolized by putting the body of a person entirely under their surface!!
10. That baptism which is a seal cannot be immersion. A seal never covers the whole, nor even the greater part of what is sealed. The size of a seal does not affect its binding force. Whether it is large or small, so long as it is a seal, its binding force remains the same. But if the whole or even the greater part of the instrument intended to be sealed is covered with the sealing material; its validity, instead of being confirmed, would thereby be destroyed. To cover a deed or bond or mortgage or will, with wax or wafers, would not confirm but destroy its validity. That to cover it thus with the sealing material would destroy the binding force of the seal, is too manifest to need farther illustration. Christian baptism is a seal (a). It confirms the promise of blessings to the person baptized. As a seal cannot wholly cover the thing sealed; so immersion, as in it, the immersed are covered all over with water the sealing material, cannot be a seal to them. Immersion destroys the very nature of a seal; because in it the persons intended to be sealed, are entirely covered with the sealing material. It is impossible therefore for immersion to be that baptism which is a seal.
11. Baptism ''with the Holy Ghost" cannot be immersion. In immersion the body is put entirely underwater. In baptism "with the Holy Ghost," the Spirit of God operates on the soul in his regenerating power or in his miraculous gifts or in both (b). In regeneration, neither soul nor body is immersed; but in the subjects of this gracious operation a new nature, a new heart, spiritual life, all the Christian graces and affections, are produced by that "Divine power" which gives to God's people "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." In baptism with the Holy Ghost, therefore, when the expression denotes regeneration, nothing like the entire submersion of either soul or body in water or in any thing else, is mentioned. No person surely, can imagine that the regeneration of the soul, is the immersion of the body.
Baptism with the Holy Ghost, is an expression which also denotes his miraculous powers, especially the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost. The disciples were thus "baptized" not "many days" after the resurrection of Christ. When they received this miraculous baptism; "there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting." "Cloven tongues" then "sat upon each of them”—"and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost," not immersed in the Spirit; and then they "began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." The apostles in this baptism were ''filled with the Holy Ghost;" and the cloven tongues or the fire or the sound "sat upon each of them." It was impossible for them at that time to have been immersed in the Spirit; because they were then filled with the Spirit or the Spirit was in them. Nor is it said or intimated that they were entirely covered with the Spirit. The tongues sat upon them; the sound like that of a mighty wind, came "from heaven" into the house; so that into these there could be no immersion; and if there was, it would not be immersion into the Spirit, but into sound or wind. But no man can imagine, that to be baptized with sound or wind, if such a thing was mentioned, is the same as to be baptized with the Holy Ghost. God, in no passage of his word, says any thing of baptism with sound or wind. Besides, they were not put into the sound or wind; but the sound, like that of a rushing wind, came into and filled the house in which they were. As the sound or wind filled the house, the disciples might have been surrounded with one or both of these; but this would be essentially different from immersion; and it would be impossible for any person to suppose that sound or wind resting on them, was baptism with the Holy Ghost. When baptism with the Spirit, signifies his miraculous influences; it simply intimates that God works miracles of some kind by the persons thus baptized. In this baptism, Divine power is exercised through those who are thus enabled to work miracles. But that the baptism in which the Spirit entered the apostles, or by which they were enabled to work miracles, or by the influence of which persons are truly regenerated, is immersion or the putting of the body entirely under water, is not only impossible, but absolutely absurd.
12. Baptism "with fire" cannot be immersion. The expression, "baptism—with fire" when used of Christians, may denote the purifying influence of the blood of Christ applied to the soul by the Holy Spirit in the work of sanctification. But whether this is or is not the true import of the expression; it is certain that it cannot mean the immersion of the body in water. To baptize "with fire" cannot signify to cover the body with water. Fire and water are opposite elements; to be baptized with fire therefore cannot signify to be immersed or covered entirely with water.
of the Saviour with sufferings in the
14. That which is indecent, cannot be the only mode of baptism. In Christ's kingdom "all things" must "be done decently and in order." But in immersion are many things so indecent that to them, modest females could not easily be induced to submit, if their minds were pointedly directed to them. A few of these may be noticed here. (1.) The immersed wade up to the waist in water. (2.) They are laid down flat in the water. (3.) The dress of females often floats on the surface of the element. (4.) The wet dress adheres to the limbs of females in a very indecent manner, while they are walking out of and returning from the water. Such indecent practices cannot be indispensable to an ordinance of Christ's church; where "all things" must" be done decently" as well as "in order." Many indecencies formerly practiced by Immersers are too gross to be mentioned here.
15. That cannot be the only mode of baptism, which agitates the mind and renders it for the time unfit for serious thought and solemn devotion. That immersion does this, every one knows who has been suddenly put entirely under water. By the act of immersing a person, his ears and nose are filled with water. During the time his head is below the surface, he cannot breathe. While this part of the ceremony is in progress, the person can have no serious devotional exercises. The expectation of being submerged, agitates the person more or less. Wet garments must, after immersion, be removed and their places supplied with others. This always and almost necessarily follows immersion. All these and similar exercises are very far from being consistent with the solemnity of a Divine ordinance As therefore immersion agitates the mind, is inconsistent with solemnity and turns away the thoughts from God and devotion, at, and for a time after, the person is put under the water; so it cannot possibly be, that Divine wisdom has adopted that as the only mode of baptism. God acts consistently with himself. He does not command men to offer him solemn service and devout worship, in that, the very performance of which destroys solemnity and devotion. If any person is not convinced that immersion does this, he can satisfy himself of the fact by going suddenly under water.
16. It is impossible for that baptism which denotes the Old Testament washings, to be immersion. These washings are collectively called baptisms. In the whole Old Testament scriptures, where these various ceremonial washings are very frequently mentioned, they are not once called immersions. When the mode of these is mentioned, it is not in any case said to be by immersion. For one who takes the word of God for his only rule in all religious duties, to believe that these baptisms which are never called immersions in Divine revelation, were always performed by immersion, is impossible.
Moreover, it may be observed here, that all religious ordinances of Divine appointment, are addressed to the understanding, to the heart and to the conscience; never to the imagination or to the fancy. It is a well known fact that immersion so operates on the imagination or fancy of the careless and prayerless part of a community, that they will, at almost any time, leave their other amusements to see a person immersed. Immersion therefore, since it is addressed to the imagination or fancy, cannot be one of those Divine ordinances which are not addressed to either of these mental powers. Thus it is manifest that the word baptize is often used where it is impossible for it to denote immerse. It is therefore absolutely impossible for a true believer in Divine revelation, after he has carefully examined this subject, to believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
1. Assertions cannot prove immersion to be baptism, or the only mode of baptism. If they could, proof in abundance on this subject would thus be furnished. That immersion is the only mode of baptism, is often asserted with as much assurance, as if the declaration was, not only made, but frequently made, in the word of God. When the inquirer after truth, takes the liberty of reading the scriptures for himself, and does not find the word immerse used so much as once for any purpose whatever, in the whole of Divine revelation; nor yet find it intimated in a single passage, that any person was put under water for baptism; he feels as if attempts had been made to impose on his common sense. The assertions most frequently made by Immersers on this subject, may here be noticed. (1.) They often assert, that the original word (baptidzo) for baptize always signifies immerse. But God in his word does not tell us that it always or ever has such a signification; so that on this point, we have merely their assertion instead of proof. This does not pass current with all persons as a substitute for Divine revelation. (2.) They often assert, that immersion is the principal meaning of the original word for baptize. But the word of God does not say this. It is mere assertion without proof. If however this were its principal signification; no evidence would thereby be furnished to prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism. If this assertion were true, (but it is not,) it would simply prove that immersion is one mode of baptism; not that it is the only mode. (3.) It is often asserted, that immersion is the original meaning of the word baptize. By this expression, they seem to intimate that the Greek word for baptize originally denoted immerse and nothing else. But here again we have nothing but a bold assertion, totally destitute of truth. Besides, the word of God makes no such statement. (4.) It is often asserted, that the root (baptidzo) from which the original word for baptize is derived, always signifies immerse. But in the scriptures no such declaration is made. Moreover, the assertion itself is entirely destitute of truth. All these and similar statements are mere assertions without the least semblance of proof from the word of God. They are in fact only false assertions. (5.) It is stated, that Philip and the Eunuch went down into the water; but it is not said that they went down under the water (a). When persons are immersed, they do more than go into, they also go or are put under the water. To go into the water is not to be immersed. Many persons go into the water who do not go under its surface. (6.) It is asserted, to prove immersion, that the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as Philip and the Eunuch, "came up out of the water;" but to come out of the water is not to come from under it (4). Many persons have come out of the water who had never been immersed, or been under its surface. Those who have been immersed come from under, not merely out of the water. Those who have been in or into the water one inch or six, come out of it. Those who have been immersed, come from under it, or from below its surface. (7.) It is asserted, that pious men believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But pious men's belief is not Divine revelation. Besides, ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred or more pious men believe that immersion is not the only mode of baptism, where one believes that it is. (8.) It is assorted, that learned men say that the original word (baptidzo) for baptize, always denotes immerse. But these men are not God. The scriptures contain no such declaration. Besides, when a man makes such an assertion as this, either his learning on this subject, or his veracity will be questioned by every person who understands the original scriptures and has carefully examined that word. (9.) It is often stated that, if immersion is not baptism or the only mode of baptism; then this ordinance is not mentioned in the word of God. It does not follow however, that if immersion is not found in God's word, then nothing else is found there. Baptize or sprinkle may be found recorded in Divine revelation, though immersion is not. But if nothing was said in the scriptures concerning sprinkling or baptism in any mode; this silence would not prove immersion to be the only mode of baptism. (10. It is frequently asserted that there is as much evidence in favor of immersion, as there is in favor of any mode of baptism. If this were the case, it would not prove immersion to be the only mode of baptism. It would simply prove that it is one mode. But if, in God's word, there is no more evidence for baptism, than there is for immersion; then there is none for either; because it has already been shown, that, in the whole scriptures, there is no precept for immersion, no example of immersion, no inferential evidence in favor of immersion, nor even an allusion made to immersion.
Moreover, it may be remarked that the assertion so often made, that there is as much evidence, in the word of God, to sustain immersion as there is in favor of sprinkling, is not really the position which Immersers are to prove. Their position is that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But if there is as much evidence in favor of sprinkling as there is for immersion, then sprinkling, according to this their own admission, must be a mode of baptism, sustained by as good evidence as immersion is. If this is true, then immersion cannot be the only mode of baptism; and the assertion that it is such cannot be true. When he who asserts that immersion is the only mode of baptism, does not even attempt to present scriptural evidence to sustain his position, but affirms that there is as much evidence for immersion as there is for sprinkling ; he shows, by employing such sophistry, that he is himself satisfied that God's word does not sustain his exclusive position. Besides, if it was expressly declared in the scriptures, that sprinkling is not a mode of baptism, even such a declaration would not prove that immersion is the only or even one mode of administering this ordinance. If it was made, (but it is not,) it would simply prove that sprinkling is not baptism. But such a declaration would, by no means, prove that immersion is what it pretends to be, the only mode of baptism. It is often imagined that the preceding and similar assertions prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism. When men substitute assertions for proof, it is no wonder that they mistake falsehood for truth.
2. Questions do not prove that immersion is baptism or the only mode of baptism. They only show the amount of knowledge which the individual to whom they are proposed may possess or may wish to communicate on the subject to which they relate. The fact that an individual does not answer a question proposed to him, merely proves that he either cannot or will not do so. It does not prove that the question asked cannot be answered by others. It does not even prove that the question is a difficult one. But to prove that any one person or more possesses a large or a small amount of knowledge on the subject of baptism, or on any other subject, cannot prove that immersion is or is not baptism or the only mode of baptism. To prove the exclusive claims of immersion, something more than asking questions, is necessary. Indeed, this plan of asking questions, instead of presenting positive proof, is a plan often resorted to by designing men to sustain, in appearance, a cause which they perceive, has, in reality, no support. They suppose the person cannot answer the question proposed to him. If they are right in this their supposition, they endeavor to leave the impression on his mind, that the proof of the position is therefore complete. If the first question they propose is answered correctly, they ask another, and thus continue on, till the person they are questioning discovers their intrigue or fails to answer. But it ought always to be remembered that asking or answering questions never proves any thing, but the amount of knowledge possessed by him who answers them and the intrigue of such as propose them. On this point, they make an appeal to the real or supposed ignorance of the persons they question; and then endeavor by that ignorance, if it exists, to sustain their position, instead of doing so by fair argument or positive proof.
begin to see how utterly unfounded their exclusive claims are; and how
completely destitute they are of scriptural evidence to support their much-loved
system of immersion
as the only, or even as a mode of baptism
expressly taught in Divine revelation, they then resort to questions. They
enquire; why did John baptize "in
are not answered in the word of God. The answers to them cannot therefore be a
matter of importance in a religious point, of view. They cannot be even a part
of the religion of the Christian; for this plain reason; they are not recorded
in the scriptures. What is not revealed in God's book, is not, and cannot be
made by man, a portion of the religion of Christians. It is however, no
difficult matter to find answers to these questions. But it ought to be
remembered, that whether they are answered right or wrong, or not at all, no
proof can be furnished by the answers in favor of immersion
being the only mode of baptism.
John baptized in or at the
AUTHORITY RELATING TO IMMERSION
AND DICTIONARIES ON IMMERSION
1. Greek Lexicons do not teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Whatever these teach, it should be remembered, is only human wisdom. The instruction which they contain, is, in fact, no authority in a Divine ordinance. Whether therefore they do or do not teach that immersion is a mode or the only mode of baptism, is not material. The word of God and that only can decide with authority as to the mode of baptism. Each of the principal Greek Lexicographers teach that the original word (baptidzo) for baptize has a great variety of meanings. Seven of the principal authors who have made it their business to explain the meaning of Greek words, give together, more than forty different significations to the Greek word (baptidzo) for baptize. The whole of them present the following as the true signification of the original word in the various connections in which it is used by different writers. It denotes, they say, to purify, wash, sprinkle, dip, immerse, submerge, plunge, sink, depress, humble, overwhelm, bathe, paint, be dejected, cleanse, baptize, saturate, perform ablution, imbue largely, cleanse ceremonially, soak thoroughly, receive baptism, to baptized, bestow liberally, confound totally, drench with wine, be immersed, overwhelm with any thing, administer the rite of baptism, procure one's own baptism, receive the gifts or miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost, be immersed in a sea or flood of afflictions, endanger one's life, to die, bind to the performance of some duty, impose obligation by baptism, receive the rite of baptism, be baptized to any one, bind one's self to honor, obey and follow any one, be initiated by the rite of baptism, be prodigal towards one, be immersed in or overwhelmed with miseries, oppressed with calamities, wash with water in token of purification from sin or spiritual pollution, immerse repeatedly into a liquid, voluntary reception of baptism, and dip in a vessel and draw. Several of these meanings, it will be seen, are nearly synonymous. They are all that are given by seven of the principal Greek Lexicographers. Nor is it known that any other Greek Lexicon will add any thing of importance to these significations. Certain it is, that no other Lexicon will add any thing more to what these say on the subject of immersion. The original word (baptidzo) for baptize has however a number of other meanings, though the Lexicons do not mention any more. (It is worthy of observation here that a few years ago, Immersers were accustomed to admit that the Lexicons were against their exclusive notions;) These Greek Lexicographers, it is manifest, do not teach that immersion is the only signification of the original word for baptize; neither do they intimate that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Four of them clearly teach that in the New Testament, the original word (baptidzo) for baptize, does not signify immerse; and these alone of the seven distinguish between its meanings in the New Testament and in other books. Two of them explain the original by Latin words. To define the Greek word (baptidzo) for baptize, they use the Latin words (baptizo) for baptize, (mergo) for dip, (abluo) for wash, and (lavo) for lave, sprinkle or draw out. All these Latin words are used in common by both these writers to express the meaning of the Greek word for baptize. These seven Lexicons are therefore very far from supporting the exclusive claims of immersion. Four out of the seven definitely teach that the word (baptidzo) for baptize does not, in the New Testament, signify immerse. One of these four does not give this even as a definite meaning of this term (baptidzo;) the other three do not say whether it does or does not, in the original scriptures, signify immerse; and not one of them so much as intimates, that this is the only, or even the principal meaning of baptidzo,) the original word for baptize. These authors therefore furnish no evidence to prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Besides, from the meanings which these principal Greek Lexicographers give to the original word for baptize, it is evident that its general signification is fourfold. According to them, it denotes, (1.) The application of water; as when it is used to signify wash, sprinkle, &c. (2.) It is used when water may or may not be used; as when it denotes to cleanse, saturate, overwhelm, &c. (3.) It is used when the idea of water applied in any way, is not included in its meaning; as when it denotes to paint, depress, humble, bestow liberally, and the like. (4.) It denotes to drink largely; as when it implies to drench or physic with wine. These are the significations which the best Greek scholars give of the word (baptidzo) for baptize, instead of saying that it always denotes immerse or the submersion of what is baptized entirely under water.
These same writers inform us that the word (baptidzo) for baptize is derived from another (bapto) which signifies, to dip, dip in, sprinkle, tinge, sink, wash, wet, moisten, bathe, steep, imbue, dye, stain, color, plunge, immerse, submerge, draw out water by dipping a vessel into it, fill by drawing out of one vessel into another, temper metals by immersing them in water, draw up, fill by drawing up, and to be lost as a ship. This word, it appears, does not always signify immersion, any more than the original one (baptidzo) for baptize. Like its derivative (baptidzo) it has a large number of meanings. It is used (1.) Where water is applied; as when it denotes to wash, wet, sprinkle, and the like. (2.) It is used when water is not applied; as when it denotes to color, dye, stain, &c. (3.) It expresses destruction whether by water or otherwise; as a ship may be lost or wrecked on a rock as well as be foundered at sea. It is undeniably certain, from the various meanings of the word for baptize, and also from those of (baptidzo) the root from which it is derived, that immersion is far, very far, from being the only signification of the word baptize, as given in the Greek Lexicons. It is moreover, from the same evidence, equally manifest that immersion cannot be the only mode of baptism.
2. Latin Dictionaries do not teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. The principal writers of Latin Dictionaries) inform us that the word (baptizo) used in that language for baptize, denotes to baptize any one, to wash in a baptismal font, to sprinkle, to initiate into the Christian religion, and to initiate a person into a Christian assembly. But they do not represent immerse as being even one meaning of the Latin word for baptize; and much less do they intimate that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
3. French and German Dictionaries do not sustain the exclusive claims of immersion. The French Dictionaries explain baptize to mean, to christen, to administer the sacrament of baptism; and the German explain it by a word (taufen,) which signifies to christen, to baptize. These Dictionaries do not even intimate that immersion is ever one of the significations of the word baptize. They cannot therefore be said in truth to inculcate the sentiment that immersion is a mode, or the only mode of baptism.
Other Gothic languages do not teach
that immersion is
the only mode of baptism.
5. English Dictionaries do not inform us that the word; baptize always denotes immerse.
6. Writers of Concordances do not teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. In these are frequently collected the various meanings of important words found in the scriptures. The principal one of these says that baptism is, (1.) An outward ordinance or sacrament wherein, the washing with water, represents the cleansing of the soul from sin by the blood of Christ, 1 Pet. 3: 21; (2.) An inward, spiritual washing whereby the gifts and graces of the Spirit, signified by the outward sign, are really and actually bestowed, Mat. 3: 11; (3.) The sufferings of Christ, whereby he was consecrated and prepared for his entrance upon his kingly office, Matt. 20: 22, Luke 12: 50; (4.) So much of the gospel as John the Baptist taught his disciples when he baptized them, Acts 18: 25. In all this, immersion is not so much as mentioned as one mode of baptism. It is not once even named as a meaning of the word baptize. It is certain therefore that immersion is not here represented as being the only or even as being one mode of baptism.
7. Hebrew Lexicons do not teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. The word baptize is not found in the Hebrew language.
Of more than twenty of the principal Dictionaries and Lexicons in eleven different languages, not one sustains the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Not one half of them mention immerse as one of the meanings of the word baptize ; nor do those among them which give this as one of its meanings, intimate that they use it to express the action of putting a person under water and then immediately taking him out again. Not one of them teaches that when he gives immerse as a meaning of the word baptize ; he intends by it to express the idea of putting a person under the surface of water. And this is by no means the necessary or only meaning of the word immerse. The exclusive claims of Immersers cannot therefore be sustained by the Lexicons and Dictionaries.
RELATING TO IMMERSION
1. Where the word baptize is used in the Apocrypha, it does not teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Judith, it is said, “washed herself in a fountain," literally she baptized herself at, over or on the spring or well of water. The same preposition which is used here, is used where it is said of Christ, "he sat"—"on the well;" and also in the expression, "he shall reign" “over the house of Jacob.” In that country springs or wells did not usually contain a sufficient quantity of water to immerse adults in. Moreover the Greek word (epi) does not denote under nor convey the idea of immersion. A participle from the same word is used to indicate the ceremonial washing of a person who had touched a dead body. The mode of performing this purification was not by immersion. It was always by sprinkling. In the Apocrypha therefore Immersers can find no support for their exclusive system; no proof that immersion is the only mode of baptism or the only meaning of the Greek word for baptism.
writers do not countenance the notion that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
Many early Christians wrote in Greek. Some Jews also wrote in
that language. These, as well as the heathen natives of
3. Pedobaptist(c) writers do not hold or teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Immersers frequently assert this; but to sustain this assertion they have not the least shadow of evidence whatever. They sometimes affirm that Henry, Doddridge, Scott, and others, teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But no one of these, or indeed any other Pedobaptist writer of any note, and probably not one of any kind, does now, or ever has taught that immersion, and that only, is baptism. Immersers have so altered Henry's exposition of the Bible, as to make it say many things which its own author did not say, or teach, or believe. But by all these alterations, they can scarcely make that old saint's writings help to build up their exclusive system. Indeed, they have not yet named a single Pedobaptist writer, good or bad, wise or unwise, who has sustained their exclusive notions. Those they have named are very far from sustaining their position. Besides, with all their boasting on this point; it is believed that they cannot name one Pedobaptist writer who now does, or ever has, maintained the opinion, that immersion is the only mode of baptism. While several of them admit, that baptism may be administered by immersion as well as by sprinkling; it is not known that any among them denies the validity of the ordinance when administered in this last named mode. Moreover, it is not known that an individual among them teaches in his writings or in words that immersion and that only is baptism; or that immersion is essential to the ordinance of Christian baptism. To assert therefore that Pedobaptist writers sustain the doctrine that immersion is the only mode of baptism, is a crime which will not here be named. Immersers cannot, on this point, even appeal to the Greek Church for support; for, though that church, among its other deviations from the word of God, generally practice the immersion of their infant children; yet there is no evidence that they maintain the exclusive notion that nothing but immersion is baptism; but there is positive evidence to the contrary.
Greek writers the word for baptize, its root, and their compounds, have a
variety of meanings not usually mentioned, by Lexicographers. Some of
these may be noticed here. The various significations given in the Lexicons to
the' Greek word for (baptidzo) baptize, and to the one from which it is
derived, have already been mentioned. Some others, from Greek authors, will here
be presented. The reader, especially if he has an accurate knowledge of the
Greek language, will readily perceive the propriety of these significations,
from the connections in which the words are found. The principal meanings of
these words which are not mentioned in the Greek Lexicons, are (1.) To wet a
very small part. It is said of the priest when preparing to cleanse the leper;
“he shall take" the living bird, and the cedar-wood, and the scarlet, and
the hyssop, and shall dip them—in the blood of the bird that was killed."
It is evident from this and other passages of scripture, that the Greek word (bapto)
translated dip, signifies to wet a very small part of what is dipped. (2.) To
extend to, toward or near to; as in the passage "he that" "dippeth
his hand with me in the dish—shall betray me." As it would be
inconsistent with common propriety for each of two persons to immerse or put a
hand entirely under the food in a dish out of which they and others were eating,
or even to put any part of their hands into the food; so the meaning of the word
here translated dip, must be to extend to, towards or near to the dish out of
which they were receiving food. (3.) To touch; as in the passage "the feet
of the priests"— "were dipped in the brim of the water" of the
DENOMINATIONS AS RELATING TO IMMERSION
Greek Church does not sustain the exclusive system of modern Immersers. This
Church extends over nearly twenty countries in Europe, Asia and
2. A very large portion of the Denominations into which the Christian world is divided, reject the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism. The thirty millions connected with the Greek communion who, while they usually immerse, do not hold that immersion is the only mode of baptism, need not here be mentioned. Nor is it at all necessary, in order to swell the amount of human testimony on this subject, to name the more than seventy millions of Romanists who invariably sprinkle in what they call baptism. Without these, the evidence from human testimony that immersion is not the only mode of baptism, is completely overwhelming. Of at least, sixty-five millions of Protestants, more than sixty-four millions uniformly deny that immersion is the only mode of baptism. This they constantly do both in principle and practice. Many of them do not at any time immerse persons for baptism. Indeed, among Protestants, the more biblical knowledge and scriptural piety any denomination of Christians, has, the less is, usually, if not uniformly, their regard for immersion even as one mode of baptism. Of all the Protestant denominations, less than one person in a hundred rejects baptism with water entirely; and about the same proportion hold that immersion is essential to baptism. When more than sixty millions of Protestant Christians, many of whom are confessedly men of extensive scriptural knowledge, and devoted piety, reject immersion as the only mode of baptism, the fact becomes manifest that most of the professedly Christian world turn aside from and refuse to sustain the exclusive claims of Immersers.
3. Some denominations of Immersers admit that immersion is not the only mode of baptism. The Baptists of Holland, are called Mennonites, after Menno Simon, one of their early champions. These last have for more than one hundred years, laid aside immersion. Both these, as well as the Greek Church and some others, admit that sprinkling is baptism; though some of them habitually practice immersion. This proves that truth can find its way, a little at least, into some minds, notwithstanding the blinding influence of superstitious bigotry.
most bigoted of the exclusive do not, in fact, teach that immersion is the only
mode of baptism.
After showing from what the word (baptidzo)
for baptize is derived, they affirm that it signifies "to dip, plunge,
immerse, imbue, drench, soak and overwhelm." Now these words are not
synonymous. They do not all denote the same thing. If all the meanings of the
original word (baptidzo) for baptize
are accurately given by them, (but they are not,) then it has
more than one signification, Immersers themselves being judges. But if this word
has more than one meaning, then there may be more than one mode of baptism.
certainly be the case, unless in the word of God, one mode is specially
mentioned. But so far as the use of this one word is concerned, according to
their statement, dipping is one mode of baptism;
plunging is another; immersing is another; imbuing another;
drenching another; and so on. The words used by Immersers to express the
sense of the original word for baptize, have various significations. To dip is
used (1.) where no fluid can be supposed to exist; as " to engage in an
affair, to engage as a pledge, to enter slightly, to choose by chance, to drop
by chance into any mass. A man dips into a book, when he becomes slightly
acquainted with its contents. The dipping-needle is said to dip, when it moves
from a perpendicular towards a horizontal position. The word dip therefore may
be properly used where a single drop of water is not present. (2.) It denotes
also "to put into any liquor, to moisten, to wet" generally a small
part. When a swallow dips in the pool, it wets the tips of its wings in the
water. To plunge signifies "to put into any state suddenly, to hurry into
any distress, to force in suddenly, to fall or rush into any hazard or distress,
to put suddenly under water". These are the principal meanings of this
word. It is said of a horse, he plunges into a river, when he is forced or leaps
into it carelessly, though his legs only are covered with the water. A man
plunges into sin, when he engages in it with reckless perseverance. A stick is
plunged into a liquid, or a sword into a man, when only a part of the stick or
sword enters. To imbue is "to tincture deep, to infuse any tincture
or dye"; and to infuse denotes to instill, infuse by drops or bring in
imperceptibly; that is, to fall into or upon any thing in very small drops, or
to sprinkle. To drench is "to soak, to steep, to saturate with drink
or moisture, to physic by violence". When a man is drenched or drunk with
drink, the liquor is in him, not he in the liquor. To soak is “to lie
steeped in moisture, to enter by degrees into pores, to drink—intemperately,
to macerate in any moisture, to steep, to keep wet till moisture is
imbibed, to drench, to drain, to exhaust". A log may be soaked in water
for years and not sink below the surface in all that time. To overwhelm is
“to crush underneath something violent and weighty, to overlook
gloomily". If stones, or earth, or a heavy rain, or sand, should, in large
quantities full on a man, he would be overwhelmed. But to force him against or
even under any of these, would not overwhelm him. To immerse is “to
sink or cover deep, to depress," as well as "to put under water".
When therefore Immersers themselves define the word (baptidzo)
for baptize, they do not teach that immersion, in their sense of the term, is
the only mode of baptism.
Even the inelegant Latin word (immersio) modified into immerse, in
the use of which they take so much delight, is not exclusively confined, either
in Latin or English, to one meaning. When the significations of the words used
by Immersers to define the original one (baptidzo)
for baptize, are accurately examined, they teach that, among other things, it
denotes to wet a small part, to descend, to touch water, to sprinkle, to fall
upon, &c. Strange,
that men with such language on their lips, should still insist that in baptism,
the person must always be put entirely under water!
5. Immersers do not pretend that the word baptize expresses the whole of what they do in immersion. The action which they perform in immersion, is eight-fold. Two parts of this action are so essential to it, that it cannot exist without them. These are putting the parts of the person not before wet, under water, and taking him up out of it again. No Immerser pretends that the word (baptidzo) for baptize, or its root (bapto,) always and necessarily denotes both these parts of immersion. They do not pretend that baptize ever expresses them both. Immersers, with all their learning, and ignorance, and learned ignorance, have never pretended to discover in the Greek (baptidzo) or English word baptize, but a very small part of what they do in immersion. If the word baptize always signified to put entirely under water, instead of seldom or never having that meaning; even this would not authorize them to perform all the other parts connected with immersion. They would not thereby be authorized to perform even the two parts which are indispensable to it, and without both which, it cannot exist. If "compliance must be so, and no more, and no less, and no otherwise", and this principle seems to be correct, then in immersion, they do not render obedience; for they do more than they pretend the word (baptidzo) for baptize ever means. If they will neither do more nor less, than what they say the word means, then they will not wade into the water or raise up the person after he is put under its surface. To do this, is to do more than what the word means, according to their own assertions in relation to the original term. They do more than they say it means; and therefore, as they themselves decide, do not render obedience. They do not practice according to their own rule. They do not conform, even in a tolerable degree, to what they say the word signifies. The word for baptize in Greek, is very far from ever denoting even the two essential parts of the action performed by them in immersion, and much less the whole eight parts, of which this action is usually composed. It may be well doubted whether any word in any language has this complicated signification. When the word (baptidzo) for baptize, or its root (bapto) or any other word in the Greek language, does not signify the whole or even the greater part of what they do in immersion; how absurd to talk of that being the only mode of baptism! When this word (baptidzo) in the scriptures is not once definitely used to denote any part or even any portion of any part, of what is done in immersion; to expect an intelligent believer in Divine revelation, who has examined this subject, to believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism, is to suppose that such a person can believe without evidence. It is to fancy him to be an infant in intellect; or that he can be made to take assertion for proof.
do not put the person immersed entirely under water. The person
himself generally, if not always, wades or enters into the water some distance.
In this way, a considerable part of the subject is, by his own act, covered or
wet with water. The part which is thus wet, is immersed by
himself, not by the preacher who immerses the remainder of the body. The
subject performs one part of the immersion;
the preacher the other. It is
manifest therefore; that, since the administrator immerses but one part of the
person immersed, only one part of him is properly immersed, unless he has a
right to immerse one part, while the preacher does the other. Besides, this
not performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Now if a man
without authority, can, in no name, perform properly this half immersion
of himself; he might, one would suppose, on the same grounds, immerse
himself without the preacher's assistance. If
the preacher only has a right to immerse, and if he must perform this act in the
name of the Trinity; then that part of the body which the person himself
immerses in no name whatever, cannot be properly immersed; for that part is
not immersed by the preacher; is not immersed in the name of the Trinity.
Since, when a person is immersed; the Immerser puts only a part
of the body under water; he, if immersion
could be only half baptized. It is a wonder that the advocates of the opinion,
that for baptism, a
person must be put entirely under water, do not take up the subject and,
after holding him above the surface, at least for an instant, so that all
present might see that he was fairly out of it, put him entirely under its
surface. By doing this, they would act according to their professed principles.
But none of them do this. None of them usually, if ever, put more than a part of
the immersed under water, the other part being immersed by the subject himself.
It appears therefore that if to be baptized, a person must be put entirely under
water, then modern
Immersers in Western Europe and in
7. In being immersed, a person is seldom entirely in contact with the water. His clothes are generally put entirely under water by himself and the operator; and usually most parts of them are wet. But where the dress is tight, especially round the waist; the water does not and cannot penetrate through the garments, during the moment they are under the water. This partial wetting, Immersers admit to be baptism. If the washing or wetting of the whole person is essential to baptism; then very few of the immersed, particularly of those who wear the over-dress, are baptized. But if water applied by a minister to a part of the body, in the name of the Trinity, is baptism; then sprinkling, as this is water thus applied to a part of the body, must be baptism. If it be said that the intention of the parties renders this partial application of water, valid in their case ; it may be remarked that if this Romish principle will answer in their case; it may, at least in their estimation, answer as well in the case of those who intend to administer baptism by sprinkling. It is manifest therefore that, both in theory and practice, Immersers, notwithstanding their loud professions to the contrary, admit that water applied to a part of the person, or, which is the same thing in fact, that a part of the person applied to the water, is valid baptism. By their own admissions and practices therefore, their exclusive system is overthrown.
SUPPOSED TO RELATE TO IMMERSION
1. In the early ages of the church, washing preceded baptism. This washing was sometimes partial and sometimes it extended over the whole person. At first it was practiced for the sake of cleanliness. The subject, occasionally at least, was washed in a state of entire nudity. Immersers and even others, sometimes mistake this washing for baptism. But where it existed, it always preceded and was really distinct from the ordinance of baptism. It had not necessarily, in fact, any more connection with that sacrament than a washing to remove bodily defilement at the present day, would have with baptism. The writers who mention this washing sustain this position. Some of them do this very clearly, and others less so. This practice may have originated in persons supposing that a literal washing for cleansing*was intended by such language as the following:
over-dress is a dress which many modern Immersers pat
on over their other clothes when they are put under the water as a
substitute for baptism.
"Ye are washed;"—"our bodies washed;"—Christ—
cleansed the church "with the washing of water;"—the washing of
regeneration;" and the like. But the washings here
mentioned were ceremonial or spiritual. If they were spiritual, then they could
not be performed with water; for spiritual cleansing or the removing of the
guilt or pollution of sin from the soul cannot be effected by applying water to
the body. If they were ceremonial, then they were or might have been
performed by sprinkling, as ceremonial washings usually, if not universally
were. But the practice of washing before
might have been its origin, cannot sustain the notion that immersion
is the only mode of administering that ordinance.
This washing which was sometimes partial and sometimes extended over the whole body, preceded the ordinance of baptism. Though it constituted no part of that sacrament, yet it soon became invested with a kind of superstitious regard. In the third century, it was viewed as a general prerequisite to baptism; so much so that many persons maintained, that before the ordinance was administered either to infants or adults, the person to be baptized ought to be first washed. But still this washing was in reality no part of the ordinance of baptism. It is very possible however, indeed it may be probable, that some persons becoming more ignorant, bigoted and superstitious than others, occasionally substituted this washing in the room of baptism. But this substitution, if it did at any time take place, could not change this washing into baptism. However, in after ages, immersion, among ignorant and superstitious men, may have received some countenance from these superstitious washings. But if they had, at their first origin in the third century, been substituted for baptism; they could not, even in that case, prove that immersion was then the only mode of baptism; for these washings were not baptism and were often partial.
monumental pictures and engravings
do not teach that immersion
is the only or even a mode of baptism.
More than fifty of these have been preserved. These have come
down to the present day. The motto on some of them is in Greek; that on others
is in Latin. They
mark the mode of baptism
from about the year A. D. 300, till A.
D. 1100. They were made by different artists in
different ages and countries. To ascertain the meaning of these pictures and
engravings, a person has only to open his eyes. They speak a language which all
can understand. In these the person who baptizes is,
in no instance, represented as being in the water when he administers the
ordinance. Nor do we find the least intimation
in the word of God, that John or any other person, stood in the water while he
In this then, as well as in other points, these monuments of antiquity
agree with Divine revelation. In
all these, the water is represented as being applied to the person, not the
person to the water. The person baptized is sometimes represented
as standing nearly or quite up to the waist in water, and sometimes as standing
in a bath; but he is much more frequently represented as standing during his baptism,
on the ground or on the floor. In
not one instance however is he represented as being put under the water for baptism.
It is moreover manifest from these monuments that standing in the water
formed no part of the ordinance of baptism
; because if this was a part of it; then the ordinance could not have
been, as it often was according to these representations, administered while the
person baptized was standing on the ground or on the floor. Since some of those
whose baptism is
represented in these monuments of antiquity, were baptized while entirely out of
the water, as the representations themselves clearly show; being in the water,
could not in their case have been an essential part or indeed any part of their baptism.
representations do not show, or intimate that a single person, during the ages
in which they were made, was immersed for baptism;
so they do not, cannot teach that immersion
is the only mode of administering that ordinance. These plain speakers
then, whose language defies criticism, do not give testimony in favor of immersion.
marble font in the cathedral at
exclusive claims of Immersers, do not prove theirs to be the only mode of baptism.
Unsupported claims are frequently made. These are sometimes
exclusive. Indeed, it may almost be laid down as a general rule, that the
farther persons wander from the word of God as the only rule in all religious
duties; the more exclusive and dogmatic they become. But in Popery and, High
Church Episcopacy, it is clearly exhibited. These do not even pretend to take
the scriptures as their only rule of faith and practice in all religious duties;
and yet, each is so exclusive as to hold very strenuously, that no society of
Christians can constitute a branch of the church of Christ, unless Diocesan
Episcopacy forms one of its essential ingredients; though this is not so much as
once named in the word of God. Immersers are so
exclusive that, in the estimation of many of them; no class of Christians
constitutes a church or a branch of the
5. To call immersion a cross does not prove it to be the only mode of baptism. When Christ requires a person to perform a duty which, for some cause, may, at the time, be disagreeable to him; the performance of it under such circumstances, may be called a cross. To make a particular action a cross, it must be a duty positively required in God's word; and it must, from some cause or causes, be disagreeable to the person at the time it is to be performed. But what is not positively commanded in the scriptures cannot be made a Christian’s cross. What God does not command, may be a cross which Satan, the world or men, may require us to bear; but this last cross is essentially different from that which Christ directs his people to “take up" and " bear." To “bear" the cross which he commands us to take up, is essential to Christianity. Without doing this, no person can be a true child of God. Our Saviour himself has determined this point. He says, “whosoever doth not bear his cross cannot be my disciple." Whatever cross Christ requires us to "take up" and “bear," ought to be borne cheerfully in obedience to his command. Satan, the world or men may direct us to do what is not required in God's word. Obedience to their mandate may not be pleasant to us. They may call what they require, a cross in order to induce us to obey. But we ought to know, that such a cross is only a creature's invention; not a cross which Christ requires us to bear. To take up a cross of the creature's invention, is not to serve, hut to disobey, the Redeemer of sinners. To call that a cross which God in his word does not require, cannot make it such. But in the scriptures, men are not required to be immersed; therefore immersion cannot be that cross which every "disciple" must "bear." Besides, to be put entirely under water is, or is not, a cross according to the temperature of the weather. Whether an act is, or is not, a cross of Christ, does not, however, depend upon the temperature of the weather, or on the change of the seasons. As therefore immersion is not required in the word of God; and as it is, or is not, a cross according to the temperature of the weather, so it cannot be a cross which Christ commands his disciples to bear. To call it a cross, when God does not, may deceive men, but cannot deceive Omniscience. It is manifest from these remarks, that to call immersion a cross, cannot prove it to be the only mode of baptism.
6. Immersion cannot be a sign of what is signified in baptism. Christian baptism signifies the work of the Holy Spirit on the soul. When the operations of the Spirit are mentioned, whatever may be their degree of kind, the person is, in no passage of scripture, said to be immersed in the Holy Ghost, or to be put under or even into the Spirit. If these operations of the Spirit, or even any part of them, were represented as being by immersion, then external immersion might be a sign of them. But as no part of the Spirit's operations, is said to be by immersion, or by putting the person into or under the Holy Ghost; so literal immersion cannot represent any portion of them. Literal immersion might represent spiritual immersion. But, as the work of the Spirit is not, either wholly or in part, said in scripture to be by immersion; so immersion under water, cannot be a sign of the whole or of any part of the Spirit's operations. The Spirit, in his operations, is often said to be “poured out" upon men; and persons are represented as being "filled with the Holy Ghost," when his converting, sanctifying or supernatural influences are enjoyed in an unusual degree. When the Spirit is "poured out" upon persons, or they are “filled with" his influences, the Spirit is in or upon them; but they are certainly not put under or immersed all over in the Spirit. When the Spirit enters into and fills a man, that man then is not put entirely into or under the Spirit. That which falls upon a person may be a sign of the outpouring of the Spirit on him. But to put him under water cannot possibly be a sign of what falls on him ; because to fall upon, be poured out upon, or be filled with, does not, in the least degree, resemble immersion. As the influences of the Spirit, which are “poured out"—"shed"—"fall upon" or "fill the soul," are symbolized by baptism; so immersion in which water is not poured out or shed, and does not fall upon the person immersed, cannot be a sign of these operations of the Holy Ghost.
It may also be remarked here, that immersion cannot symbolize the death of Christ. He suffered on the cross; and there is no possible resemblance between the death of a person while suspended on the cross, several feet above the earth, and being put entirely under water in immersion. Nor can it be a sign of, or symbolize his burial. He was laid in a "tomb" "hewn out of a rock," not in water. Immersion cannot be a sign or token by which his burial is represented; for there is no resemblance between the two actions. In his resurrection, his human soul and body were re-united. This is what is always included in the language when the resurrection of a dead body is mentioned. Without this re-union of soul and body, no resurrection can take place. With it, there is a resurrection from the dead. This is in fact what constitutes a resurrection of the dead. That exercise of Divine power by which the human body and soul of Christ were re-united on the third day after his death, had nothing in it which, in any particular, resembles the going or the putting of a living person entirely under water. Nor did the resurrection of Christ from the dead, or in other words, the re-union of his human soul and body, resemble, in the least degree, the raising of a living person from under the water; and this act is one essential part of what is done in immersion. Immersion therefore, in any of its parts, or in them all united, cannot be a sign of, or symbolize the resurrection of Christ, or the re-union, by Omnipotent power, of his human soul and body. Immersion does not in the least, resemble, and therefore cannot symbolize his departure out of the tomb. To walk, in any way, out of the tomb in which he had been laid, could no more be represented or symbolized by immersion in any of its parts, than to walk out of one room into another, or out of a house into the street, can be signified or represented by putting a person under water and then taking him out from under it again. To suppose that our Saviour's departure out of his tomb, which was a small room hewn out of a rock, can be symbolized by raising a person up from under water, is manifestly absurd(a). Coming out of such a tomb, or out of a house, cannot, surely, appear to any reflecting person, like going into and under the water, and then being immediately raised up again from under its surface. But as baptism was not instituted to represent, symbolize, or be a sign of these or of any of them; so farther remarks here in relation to them, are unnecessary. It is manifest however, that as the influences of the Spirit represented by baptism, descended upon persons; so thrusting them entirely underwater in immersion and immediately taking them from under its surface again, cannot be a sign of, or symbolize these operations of the Holy Ghost.
command to baptize is not limited to any place; nor does it require water to be
brought in any particular way. When Christ directs his
ministering servants to "teach all nations, baptizing them," he does
not inform them in what particular way, water is to be obtained for that
purpose. Nor does he require them to administer the ordinance in any particular
place. He does not say, whether the water is to be brought in a bowl in the
hand, or in a hogshead on a cart to fill a cistern. He gives us no direction as
to the mode in which the water is to be brought to the place where it is to be
used. Indeed, this, even in the estimation of Immersers, can hardly be
considered an essential part of baptism.
Moreover, the practice of the apostles clearly shows that the place where
administered, or the mode in which the water is procured, constitutes no part of
that ordinance. Nor would the fact that Immersers fill a cistern with water,
drawn in very large vessels, prove that immersion
is the-only mode of baptism.
It may be remarked also, that as the act of bringing the water to be used
in baptism, is
not one of religious worship; so no person ought to be surprised when he finds
that nothing is said on that particular point in the scriptures. Nor would a
single remark have been here made upon it, if Immersers did not sometimes, when
driven by argument from every other ground, attempt to sustain the claims of immersion
by saying that no person can show scriptural evidence to prove that water
was brought in a bowl into a house to be used for the purpose of baptizing
persons. This demand shows that they fancy that the mode of bringing water to be
used in baptism, is
a part of, or essential to the ordinance. And if it is, they ought to be
prepared to prove their position, and to show that water, for this purpose, must
be drawn on a cart in sufficient quantities to fill a cistern, in order that immersion
might be practiced. But all such statements do not prove that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
They only prove that Immersers feel how absolutely impossible it is to
sustain, with any tiling like tolerable evidence, the exclusive claims of their
suppose that, because it is not stated in the word of God, that water was
brought in a bowl to be used in baptism,
to be the only mode, is that kind of trifling which ought to make even an
Immerser blush. But certainly no person of common reflection could possibly
believe that this would sustain the position that immersion
is the only, or even a mode of baptism.
PERSONS ARE IMMERSED
IMMERSED TURN ASIDE FROM THE WORD OF GOD
1. Facts prove this position. That Immersers, on this subject, turn aside from the word of God, appears, (1.) From the fact that the scriptures, in no one passage teaches that immersion is the only mode of baptism; (2.) From the fact that the word immerse or immersion for baptize or for baptism, is not once found in the whole book of God, either in the original or in any proper translation; and (3.) From the fact that no person is, in Divine revelation, said to be immersed, or is required to immerse others for baptism or for any other purpose. That these are facts, any person can learn by reading the scriptures. It is manifest then that those who adopt immersion as the only, or even as a mode of baptism, must turn aside from the word of God.
2. The language of Immersers proves that, on this subject, they turn aside from the word of God. When asked, why they adopt the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism; they generally, if not universally, give one or more of the following statements as an answer. They often say; (1.) That they know some good man who believes that immersion is the only mode of baptism; (2.) That they felt very solemn on a certain occasion when they saw some person immersed; (3.) That their conscience teaches them that immersion is the right mode of baptism; (4.) That many persons in the neighborhood have been or are about to be immersed; (5.) That they were always taught, by some good men, that immersion is the only mode of baptism; (6.) That their parents, who were Christians, believed in this mode of baptism; (7.) That this seems to them to be the only mode of baptism; (8.) That the other mode has become antiquated, while this modern mode shows the march of mind. These, and similar reasons, are given as the evidence by which they are led to be immersed, or to believe in that substitute for baptism. But as their conscience is not the rule of duty ; and as all these notions merely turn aside the mind from the scriptures, which are the only rule of duty for Christians, in all religious matters ; so they prove that Immersers, in adopting immersion as the only mode of baptism, turn aside from the word of God. These fancies ought to be all rejected. They really compose no part of the Christian’s duty. “To the law and to the testimony," all ought to come for religious instruction on this and on every other subject.
3. The immersed do not examine the foundation on which immersion builds its exclusive claims. This is (1.) The groundless assumption that the word (baptidzo) for baptize, always means immerse. That there is no ground for such an assumption, is manifest to any person who has even a tolerable acquaintance with the meaning of this word either in Greek or English, as it is used either in the scriptures or in other books. (2.) Immersers do not understand, or they designedly misrepresent the meaning of the prepositions (eis) into, (ek) out of, (apo) from, and (en) with. They seem to imagine that the use of these words must certainly prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But such expressions do not even intimate that immersion is one mode of baptism. It is certain therefore that they cannot teach that it is the only mode, Immersers seem to fancy that there is a resemblance between immersion and being buried with Christ by "baptism into death" on the cross. But between these, there is not the least resemblance. It appears therefore that immersion, even as a mode of baptism, is obliged to depend for support on a mere assumption, on a mistake or misrepresentation, and on a fancy. These often lead persons blindfolded into the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism. By neglecting to examine the real evidence upon which immersion builds its exclusive claims, many persons are deceived into the adoption of the system.
if any persons, can turn to any one passage of scripture and say; this taught
me. that immersion
No expression in scripture, either in the literal or
figurative sense of the language, teaches immersion
to be even a mode of baptism.
say that the word (baptidzo) for
baptize, in the scriptures denotes immerse, is mere assertion or fancy.
No such signification is, in the whole of Divine revelation, given to this word.
The connection in no one passage, shows this to be its definite signification. As
such a meaning for the word (baptidzo)
is only found in the fancies of persons, so but few who examine the scriptures,
can be led to imagine that the word baptize, in that holy book, really means
immerse. But few can therefore turn to any portion of the Divine word, and show that
as the evidence which teaches them to believe in immersion
as a mode of baptism
which they suppose is therein taught.
5. No one ever found immersion as the only mode of baptism, taught in the scriptures or truth. The reason is simply this; not the least evidence of any kind in favor of immersion being the only mode of baptism, is found in scripture. To this, there is not the most distant allusion made in the whole word of God. There is not the least intimation given in it that immersion is essential to baptism. This notion has nothing in God's word to sustain it even in appearance. This holy book says nothing that the most unrestrained or misguided fancy could torture into the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism. The language of scripture contains no literal, no figurative, no fanciful meaning to sustain Immersers in their exclusive claims. No one could therefore ever find, in the scriptures, any kind or degree of evidence to prove, even to his own imagination, that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
IMMERSED MISTAKE THE POINT TO BE PROVED
1. What their point to be proved is, ought to be kept in mind. This is not whether immersion is, or is not, a mode of baptism; but the point is, whether it is, or is not, the only mode. That immersion is the only mode of baptism, is what Immersers assert. This is a very different position from the assertion that immersion is baptism, or one mode of baptism. This point ought to be kept before the mind in order that it may be fairly investigated.
frequently mistake this point. They adopt immersion
simply as a mode of baptism;
not as the only mode. From the supposition that they are to be immersed, merely
as a preferable mode of baptism,
they go into and allow themselves to be put under the water. They
afterwards, perhaps, discover that, by taking this step, they have really, in
their practice at least, adopted the notion that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
Having been blindly led to take
this step; a desire to justify their own practice, or a wish to appear
consistent, or to justify the course of their party, will usually soon induce
them to insist that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
Having taken the first false step, they are the more easily persuaded
to take the second. Thus they become entangled in the mazes of error. They
are first immersed without finding either precept or example in the word of God
for going under the water; and then they are easily led, without a shadow of
proof, to assert that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
Thus they are frequently induced to be immersed merely as a mode of baptism;
and then they are led to adopt, as a second part of the same lesson, the notion
that immersion is
the only mode of baptism.
This is mere deception. But
multitudes are, by this kind of Jesuitism, induced to unite with Immersers and
adopt their exclusive system.
OFTEN MISTAKE ASSERTIONS FOR PROOF
1. Immersers often assert that immersion is the only mode of baptism. This assertion is frequently made by them with the most unblushing assurance, though there is not, in the word of God or in Greek writers, the least shadow of evidence to sustain it. These positive assertions, many mistake for proof; and more suppose that men professing to be religious teachers, would not make such unqualified statements without the least evidence to support them. Many, by these their positive assertions, totally unsupported by any evidence whatever, are induced to adopt immersion as the only mode of baptism.
2. The assertion that, sometimes ministers of other denominations, unite with Immersers, is often mistaken for evidence that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But this simply proves that these men, notwithstanding their professions, have not carefully examined this subject. If, however, they, at first, either through ignorance or from design, had deceived others in this matter; it might be difficult to determine whether, after their professed change of opinion, they were entirely worthy of all confidence, even so far as their own assertions are concerned. Besides, at least as many forsake the ranks of Immersers to join others, as forsake others to join Immersers. It is manifest therefore that a few persons who may unite themselves with Immersers, after they have been members of other denominations of professing Christians, do not and cannot, by their assertions, prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism. The assertions of such persons are really no better evidence than those of other Immersers. Perhaps they are not quite so good proof as the declarations of those who have not like them, either from ignorance or design, turned aside from truth and adopted the unscriptural notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
3. They often assert that Christ and, the Eunuch were immersed. That this is mere assertion without proof, is evident to any one who will only read what the Spirit of God teaches in relation to their baptism. It is not said that either of them was put under the water, or was taken up from under, or came up from under, the water. Neither of the two actions which are essential to immersion, is mentioned as being performed either by or for Christ or the Eunuch. To say that they were immersed is therefore mere assertion without proof.
4. Immersers seldom attempt to prove their position. They assert that immersion is a mode, the only mode of baptism. This they seldom or never attempt to prove. They find it much more convenient to make such an assertion than to sustain it by even the appearance of evidence from the word of God. But before they ask any person to believe their exclusive assertion to be true; they ought to prove its truth by the express language of Divine revelation. But they seldom attempt to do this. They very seldom undertake to show from God's word that immersion is a mode, much less that it is the only mode of baptism. Instead of attempting to prove their position, like men who honestly supposed they had good evidence for that purpose; instead of bringing forward positive proof to sustain the exclusive claims of their system, as they are bound to do before they can reasonably ask men of sense to adopt the notion that immersion and that only is baptism; they, as if they knew and felt the weakness of their own cause, turn round and begin to question others. They thus put these last on defending themselves. This is done in order to prevent them from requiring evidence, plain and pointed, in favor of the exclusive claims of immersion. In this way the eyes of not a few are blinded. Immersers seldom or never attempt to bring forward any pointed proof to show that immersion is the only mode or even one mode of baptism. To assert this and suppose it needs no proof, is much more convenient for them. This plan will also deceive many, much more effectually than awkward attempts to prove that in favor of which there is no evidence. They can accomplish this, too, with much more ease than they could attempt the impossible task of naming the book, chapter and verse in Divine revelation, which teaches that immersion is a mode or the only mode of baptism. This total want of evidence in favor of immersion in the word of God, bore so hard upon their exclusive system that, to escape from the dilemma into which they were brought by it, they even altered the scriptures of truth so as to make an immersion bible for themselves. By this and similar management, they show that they feel the entire insufficiency of the evidence on which they attempt to erect their exclusive system. But notwithstanding this, not a few are deceived by this sophistry. By it, numbers are induced to go under, instead of to or into the water, as was the case in one or two, out of the many instances of baptism mentioned in scripture. They submit to be applied to the water, instead of having the baptismal water applied to them.
scriptural evidence to prove that immersion
is the only mode of baptism,
is demanded, it is often asserted that there is as much evidence for immersion
as there is for sprinkling. This assertion admits that sprinkling, as a
mode of baptism, is
supported by as good evidence as immersion
is. It therefore destroys the exclusive claims of Immersers; for if sprinkling
is a mode of baptism;
if it is supported by as good evidence as immersion
is, then immersion
cannot be the only mode of baptism
; and that it is such, is the position which the exclusives on this
subject always take. If it was a fact therefore that there is as much evidence
in favor of immersion,
as there is for sprinkling, it would not prove that immersion
is the only mode of baptism.
If the scriptures contained no evidence for sprinkling, if they even
declared that sprinkling is not a mode of baptism,
no proof would even then be thus furnished to show that immersion
is baptism or
the only mode of administering that ordinance. If sprinkling water upon a person
in the name of the Trinity, is not baptism,
it by no means follows as a necessary consequence or even as a fair
inference, that immersion
is the only mode. By
adopting such sophistry, Immersers show that they feel how totally destitute
their system is of substantial evidence for its support.
5. They often assume an inference, and mistake this for proof. They say, the Eunuch was immersed, because he went into the water. This is assuming for truth a mere inference; and an inference too not found in the premises. It by no means follows that, if the Eunuch went into the water, he was therefore immersed. Many persons go into, without going under water. Perhaps a thousand persons go into water without going or being put under it, for one that goes into it for the purpose of being immersed. But this is their assumed inference, though in reality it is mere assertion, is often mistaken for proof that immersion is the only mode of baptism. And in this way, some are led under the water as a substitute for Christian baptism.
ORIGIN AND EVILS OF IMMERSION
THE ONLY MODE OP BAPTISM
DID NOT ORIGINATE
1. Immersion did not originate with the Apostles. Immersion as baptism, or rather as a substitute for baptism, did not originate with the apostles; because they did not immerse for that or for any other purpose. Immersion could not therefore have originated with them. Neither of the two available Greek words which would unmistakably denote “immerse,” are used to express any ordinance administered by the apostles. There is not therefore the least shadow of evidence to prove that immersion had its origin with the apostles of our Saviour.
2. Immersion did not originate with John the Baptist. This position is proved from the fact that he did not immerse. (4). It is repeatedly stated that he baptized; but it is not asserted, in a single passage in the whole scriptures, that he immersed. Neither of the two words which in Greek sometimes signify immerse, is used to express what John did when he baptized the Jews. Besides, John baptized in a different mode. He baptized "with water," not under that element. He who baptizes "with water," does not immerse. To baptize “with water," is to apply the fluid to a person. To immerse is to apply the person to, and then thrust him entirely under the water. John baptized with, not under, water. It cannot therefore be true that he immersed. Nor can it hence be possible that immersion originated with him.
3. Immersion did not originate among the Jews as one of their ceremonial washings. These are not, in any passage of scripture, called immersion or immersions. These are collectively called baptisms. But in no instance are they all, or is any one of them said to be performed by immersion. Whenever the mode of performing these their ceremonial washings or baptisms, is mentioned, it is always said to have been by sprinkling, never by immersion. To say therefore that the Jews performed their Divinely appointed ceremonial washings or baptisms, by immersion, is manifestly mere assertion. To make such a declaration would be to speak without evidence. Such a statement would be contrary to undeniable facts. It cannot therefore be that immersion originated with the Jews at or before the death of Christ.
4. This ceremony did not originate with the Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptures do not teach that he immersed or directed others to immerse persons for baptism or for any other purpose. He baptized and directed his ministering servants to baptize others, But it is not stated in the original scriptures, nor in any accurate translation, that he himself immersed or that he directed others to do so. It is worse than trifling then to suppose that immersion originated with the blessed Redeemer.
5. Immersion did not originate at or before the time of the Apostles. No Greek word which, even frequently, denotes immerse, is used in the scriptures for baptism. Of the two words in the Greek language which frequently, though not in the word of God, surely express immerse, or the putting of what is mentioned entirely under water, neither is, at any time, in the original, used for baptism. If the Holy Spirit had intended to teach mankind that immersion is the only mode, or even a mode of baptism, certainly one of the words denoting immerse, or both, would have been used as often as once at least, for baptize. But this is not the case. No word which in the original, usually signifies immerse, is, in any one passage, used for baptism or baptize. The word (baptidzo) for baptize, is not, itself, so connected with other words in a single passage, in the original scriptures, as to require it to signify immerse; nor is it intimated that immerse is its only signification, or even one of its meanings. (&). There is therefore no evidence that immersion originated in the days of the apostles or before. It may be left to Immersers to believe, or rather profess to believe, that for which the word of God furnishes not the least evidence. Men who take the scriptures for their only rule of duty in every part of their religion, must beg to be excused from following the mere conjecture of their fellow creatures. They do not choose to adopt that as the only mode of baptism, which is not so much as once mentioned in the whole word of God, even as one mode by which that ordinance may be administered.
6. Immersion did not originate with the early Greek Fathers. These frequently mention baptism. But when they do so, they use the word (baptidzo) for baptize; but in no instance do they use, to denote this ordinance, either of the Greek words that often signify immerse. Since they did not use a word for baptize which usually signifies immerse, it cannot with the least propriety, be supposed that with them originated the opinion that immersion is a mode or the only mode of baptism. Modern Immersers frequently speak in the most unequivocal language on this subject. They do not hesitate to use the word immerse. The early Greek Fathers do not, for baptize, use a word which generally denotes immerse. If these Fathers and modern Immersers mean the same thing; their mode of expressing it is exceedingly different!! It cannot, therefore, be even conjectured with any degree of probability, that immersion, as the only, or even as a mode of baptism, originated with the early Greek Fathers. As immersion-for baptism is not mentioned in the word of God, nor in the writings of any of the early Greek Fathers; it must be sought for elsewhere. It is certain to those who examine the subject carefully, that immersion, as the only, or even as a mode of baptism, was unknown in the days when "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" because the word immerse, or a Greek word denoting it, is not used in the scriptures for baptism or for baptize. For the same reason, it is certain that immersion for baptism was unknown in the early ages of the church.
AND WHERE IMMERSION,
AS THE ONLY MODE OF BAPTISM,
1. Immersion as a mode of baptism, originated in the dark ages. From about the year A. D. 700, till about the year A. D. 1500, moral and spiritual darkness spread a fearful gloom over the world. The light of revelation was almost extinguished. Immorality threw its withering curse over almost every portion of Christendom. Iniquity, like a desolating tide of liquid fire, spread its blighting influence over the nations. “Darkness" covered ”the earth," and” gross darkness the people." Ignorance was almost universally prevalent. True science had but few advocates, and true religion, scarcely any. Those centuries during which ignorance and unbridled wickedness prevailed and exercised a domineering influence over the minds of men, are emphatically called "THE Dark Ages." During these ages of spiritual desolation, immersion, as a mode of baptism, had its origin. Between the years A. D. 1110 and 1150, a few persons among the Albigenses and Waldenses, adopted, as is supposed by some, the opinion that immersion is a mode of baptism. These were few in number and continued but a short time. They adopted the opinion that infants cannot be saved. They were called Petrobrussians, after their leader Peter De Bruys. It is supposed, though it is not certain, that this little, short-lived, fanatical sect, sometimes practiced immersion as a substitute for baptism. But there is no evidence that any even of these fancied it to be the only mode of baptism. Some of them rejected baptism entirely, as the Quakers and others do at present. This is the earliest definite intimation given in Ecclesiastical history of any thing like immersion being practiced for baptism. The word baptize is often, before this date, used to express this holy ordinance; but before this, .no word is expressly used for it, which universally or even generally denotes immerse.
2. In the Greek Church, immersion for baptism, originated in the dark ages. The Greek or Eastern Church separated from the Latin or Western, about the year 1050. It has a greater extent of territory than the Latin Church and all the branches which have originated in departing from its communion. At the time the Greek separated from the Latin Church, immersion had no name as an ordinance among professing Christians. No word which universally or even generally signified immersion, had then been used for baptism. But it is not certainly known how soon after this separation, immersion was introduced into the Greek Church for baptism. It is probable however that, at first, the washing which, at that time and long before, often preceded baptism, was at length occasionally substituted for that ordinance. In this way, immersion for baptism, might have been gradually introduced. But this church, with all its superstitious foibles, does not maintain that immersion is the only mode of baptism. And, for more than a thousand years after the birth of Christ, its members had not used any Greek word for baptism which generally signified immerse. But whether this immersion, frequently practiced by the Greek Church, or that of the Petrobrussians, is the most ancient, is not easily determined; nor is this a matter of any importance in reference to the argument. It is certain that with the one, if it existed at all, it did not originate before the year 1110; nor with the other, before the year 1050. They both had their origin in the dark ages; and neither of them did or does hold that immersion is the only mode of baptism,
the only mode of baptism,
was first taught during the progress of the Reformation from Popery.
This “Reformation” commenced about the year 1517. About the year 1521, the
Anabaptists began to preach and organize themselves in
therefore from this chapter, (1.) That immersion
as one mode of baptism,
or rather as a substitute for this ordinance, may have been
1. Several evils
are practiced in persuading persons to be
immersed. These are various. Only a few of them need be
mentioned here. Those, whom Immersers are attempting to lead into their snare,
are (1.) Deceived by false
are told that Christ was immersed; that the Eunuch was immersed; that Christ was
baptized to set us an example; that John's was the ordinance of Christian baptism)
that the word baptize always signifies immerse; that immersion
is the only scriptural baptism; that the Lexicons and Pedobaptist writers
teach that immersion
is the only mode of baptism;
that immersion is
a Christian cross; and they make a variety of other statements as destitute of
truth as those here named are. (2.) By these false statements, persons are
often led to turn aside from the word of God. They are thus induced to be
immersed as a substitute for baptism;
when immersion as
not so much as once mentioned in the whole scripture. Having thus turned aside
from Divine authority in relation to baptism,
they (3.) Are prepared to take the assertions of men for their
rule instead of the plain declarations of God's word. In this way they
adopt the exclusive system of Immersers. These are evils of no small magnitude.
2. A number of evils are committed in the very act of receiving immersion. (1.) The command of God is violated in which he requires men, in every religious practice to act according "to the law and to the testimony." As there is no precept or example in God's word for immersion; in the very act of going under the water as a part of their religion, they disobey this command. They also in this act violate all such commands as speak in this or similar language; “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man." (2.) As in this act they trust in the directions given by man instead of those which God reveals; they may, by adopting it for baptism, draw down upon themselves that curse which is revealed in these words; “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man."; (3.) In this act, they use a mere human invention which originated in gross ignorance and in most wicked fanaticism as if it was a Divine ordinance, the observance of which God had positively required, and which he had as positively forbidden to be observed in any other mode. (4.) Not a small proportion of Immersers make, or at least seem to make, a saviour of immersion. As soon as they are immersed, they appear to act as if they had no other service of a religious nature to perform. In doing so, they sometimes affirm that immersion is essential to salvation; and most of them talk as if they supposed that no person could be a Christian or even a moral man who refuses to be immersed. It appears therefore that they or many of them nearly or quite make a saviour of immersion.
8. Immersion is an evil to the immersed. By being immersed as a substitute for baptism, they are (1.) Prepared to reject or pervert every passage of scripture which speaks of the mode of baptism. As not one passage in the word of God, mentions immersion as the only mode, or even as a mode, of baptism; so they, to sustain their system, must reject or pervert every passage which mentions that subject. (2.) This cultivates prejudice against those who take the word of God for their only rule of duty. (3.) To sustain their system, they are under the necessity of making false statements as to the language of the scriptures, of Lexicons and of those who reject their notions in relation to baptism. These and many other evils, are brought upon the immersed, from adopting the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
4. Others suffer in consequence of men adopting the opinion that immersion is the only mode of baptism. (1.) Some have lost their lives in attempting to be immersed. In such cases, the crime of man-slaughter, if nothing worse, is committed. (2.) The health of many is destroyed or very materially injured, by being immersed. Every observing person who lives among Immersers, can, no doubt, refer to instances of this evil. (3.) This opinion promotes infidelity by leading its advocates to reject the Old Testament, as if it was no part of God's word; and by frequently leading them to mistake an excitement of the imagination for true religion. (4.) Some who adopt this notion refuse the seal of God's covenant to a part of those to whom the command requires it to be applied. (5.) Those that hold that immersion is the only mode of baptism, often put Christians on a par with atheists. They debar the children of God from the table of their Saviour; because they do not adopt as the only mode of baptism, what is not mentioned as baptism in the -whole of Divine revelation. They thus, as far as their principles can do so, unchurch all who will not substitute human for Divine authority in relation to the ordinance of baptism. (6.) It has a tendency to continue its advocates in ignorance, by leading them to suppose that God says one thing when he means another,—that when he says baptize, he means immerse. This same system originating, as it did, in ignorance and wickedness, introduces men who can scarcely read their mother tongue with tolerable accuracy, into that sacred office which requires all who hold it to be able to teach all things that Christ has commanded, to place ignorance in the office of the gospel ministry, has always been, and yet is, practiced by every class of Immersers. While men who have so little regard for the gospel of Christ and for the souls of our race, that they will not spend the time and labor which are necessary to qualify them in some degree for teaching what all whom the Redeemer of sinners sends out as his ambassadors must teach, are introduced into the sacred office; so long will ignorant and wicked men be found in the ministry; and so long as those who submit to the exclusive claims of immersion, admit such men to be public teachers among them; so long will their system promote ignorance and wickedness.
Thus a few of
the evils of immersion,
have been mentioned. These vary in their degree of guilt, from falsehood
to man-slaughter. They are perpetrated by the Immerser and by those who are
immersed. They are either directly or indirectly countenanced by all those who
only mode of baptism.
and moral men ought to be excused from adopting such a system.
GENERAL VIEW OF
THE ONLY MODE OF BAPTISM;
PRESENTED IN , A DIALOGUE
Baptizer. Mr. Immerser, do you hold that immersion is the only mode of baptism?
Immerser. Yes, that is my belief.
B. Does God in his word, command persons to immerse or to be immersed?
I. No. He commands persons to be baptized; but says not one word concerning immersion for baptism.
B. Does God say that any person ever was immersed for baptism?
I. No. He does not. The word immerse is not once used in the whole of Divine revelation.
B. Do the scriptures teach that the word “baptize” always denotes immerse?
I. No. They say nothing of the kind.
B. Do they intimate that immerse is the principal signification of that word?
I. No. The bible does not inform us that the Greek word (baptidzo) for baptize or (bapto) its root signifies immerse.
B. Are either of the words in the Greek language, which very specifically denote immerse, ever used for baptize?
I. No. Neither of them is, either in the scriptures or in other books, used to denote baptism.
B. What does the word baptize mean?
I. It has a great variety of significations. Among these, it denotes to sprinkle, to wet a very small part, &c.
B. When it is said that Philip and the Eunuch “went down into the water;" is immersion taught by these words?
I. No; for if it was, then Philip must have been immersed as well as the Eunuch; because "they both went down into the water."
B. Was the act of going into the water baptism?
I. No; because Philip baptized the Eunuch after they "went down into the water." *Acts 8: 38.
B. Do the words "down into" ever mean “under?”
I. No. Down into the meadow does not mean under the meadow; nor down into the cellar, under the cellar, &c.
B. Do the words “up out of," signify “from under?”
I. No. When
the Israelites came "up out of the
B. Does the word baptize ever signify to put persons entirely under water and then take them up again?
I. No. Immersers never pretend that the word baptize denotes more than a very small part of what they do when they immerse persons. Indeed, it is by no means certain that the word baptize ever signifies to put a person entirely under water.
B. Did John
immerse in Enon or in
I. No. He
himself declares, that when he baptized in Enon and in or at
B. Is there any water at Enon sufficiently deep to immerse adults in?
Sacred Geography informs us that there is no stream in all
B. Why do you believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism?
I. My conscience tells me, that is the right way.
B. Does the word of God tell you that immersion is the only mode of baptism?
I. No. The bible tells me no such thing.
B. Then why did you adopt the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism?
I. I just made up my mind to be immersed; and then I went to the scriptures to find something to support my determination.
B. Did you find any support for your system in the word of God?
I. No; not the least. Indeed I discovered an irreconcilable opposition between my system and the word of God.
B. What did you do then?
I. Why, I determined to make such additions, alterations and amendments in the scriptures, as would make them correspond with my notions concerning immersion.
B. How did you succeed?
B. What will you do to escape from this difficulty?
I. I do not know. But I would rather give up the bible entirely, than forsake my long cherished, much-loved, exclusive notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
B. I thought so. You do not love immersion because it is taught, as you may fancy, in the word of God; but you love that holy book only so far as you think it teaches immersion to be the only mode of baptism. It may be well for you to lay aside this your superstitious bigotry, and hereafter take the scriptures for your only rule of duty in every religious act. See to it that you have a Divine command for every part of your religion. If you do this, you will soon lay aside your notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
A MODE OF BAPTISM
AUTHORITY FOR SPRINKLING AS A MODE OF BAPTISM
AS A MODE OP BAPTISM
TAUGHT IN THE SCRIPTURES
sprinkling is a mode of baptism,
is expressly taught in the word of' God. The King of Zion
says to his spiritual
Of the blessed Jesus, it is declared by the prophet; he shall "sprinkle many nations." The Eunuch was reading a part of the language found in connection with this passage when he "was sitting in his chariot." From this prophetic description of Christ, Philip "preached unto him Jesus," and "baptized him." The only passage in the whole of this portion of Isaiah's prophecy, which gives the least intimation of the use of water, is that in which it is said ; he shall "sprinkle many nations." But from hearing this prophetic scripture explained, the Eunuch desired to be baptized. It appears therefore that this sprinkling mentioned by the prophet, was explained by Philip to be the application of water in baptism. Since Philip baptized the Eunuch after preaching Jesus to him from this prophetic description of the Son of God; we are clearly taught that Christ, by his servants, shall "sprinkle many nations" in baptism. As we are taught that many nations shall be sprinkled; we are not entirely without instruction as to that mode of baptism. The declaration; he shall "sprinkle many nations," contains positive evidence that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. The Hebrew word here used by the Spirit of God, literally signifies to "sprinkle." That part of the verb, which generally expresses causality, is, in this passage, employed by inspiration. The idea therefore when expressed in the most literal form of words possible, would be; " he shall cause many nations to be sprinkled," or " he shall cause" men " to sprinkle many nations." This is precisely the force of the words, he shall "sprinkle many nations," used in the common English translation of the bible. This same Hebrew word is frequently used in the Old Testament. It is used in the expressions; the priest " shall sprinkle him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times;" — " the priest — shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times ;" — " he shall — sprinkle the house seven times," and in a great variety of other passages. The language of God's word therefore, both in the original and in the English translation of this passage, clearly and explicitly declares, that Christ, by his ministering servants, "shall," in New Testament times, "sprinkle many nations" in the administration of the holy ordinance of baptism.
word baptize signifies to sprinkle. That the word (baptidzo)
for baptize has a great variety of significations, is certain. When this is the
fact in relation to any word, it becomes a matter of importance to be able to
ascertain its exact meaning in any book or passage of a book in which it may be
used. How can this be done? is an important inquiry. If the word, the exact
meaning of which is sought, is a very important one, the importance of knowing
its exact signification becomes proportionally great. If we would ascertain the
definite meaning of any word as it is used in any book, or in any passage of the
works of an author, we must not take what may possibly be its signification in
one or two places, and then assert that this is the only proper meaning of the
word. Such a course may pass with ignorant demagogues, with deliberate
deceivers, and with those who mistake their assertions for proof. In
Dictionaries or Lexicons, the usual meanings of a word are generally found. But
to ascertain the exact meaning of a word in any particular passage of any book,
one or both of two ways may be adopted. One is from the connection. This may be
such that but one meaning will make sense in the passage. In that case the
connection must determine what meaning is to be attached to the word. Another
mode by which the exact signification of a word may be determined, is, by having
it defined or
described by the author who uses it. In this last way, the exact meaning of a
word, as used by any good writer, can always and certainly be ascertained. If
the word (baptidzo) for baptize is
thus defined and described in Divine revelation, then its exact scriptural
meaning can be certainly known. In relation to the exact scriptural
signification of this Greek word (baptidzo)
it may be remarked, (1.) That it does not, from the connection in which
it is used in any passage of God's word, necessarily denote any one thing which
is done in immersion.
be evident to any one who reads with care those passages which mention baptism
with water. (2.) It is frequently so used that it cannot possibly signify any
part of what is done in immersion.
Those passages of scripture which mention baptism
water clearly teach this truth. (3.) It is frequently so used that sprinkling
and nothing else, will make sense in the passage. (4.) To sprinkle is one
legitimate meaning of this word, as given in the Lexicons. (5.) The root (bapto)
from which it is derived, signifies to sprinkle. This the Lexicons also teach.
(6.) In every passage of scripture in which baptism
is required or mentioned, sprinkling may be or may have been the mode. (7.) When
God in his word expressly mentions the mode of baptism,
it sprinkling. Of this ordinance the King of Zion has said to his people in New
Testament times; “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you;" and again,
it is declared of him, “he shall sprinkle many nations." Here Omniscience
to be the
sprinkling of clean water upon his spiritual
The history of the word baptize deserve here a passing remark. This word in
its various modifications, is employed ninety-three times in the New Testament.
It is frequently used by Josephus. He wrote soon after the Romans destroyed
3. Sprinkling is the only mode of baptism definitely mentioned in the word of God. Baptism is often mentioned in the scriptures when the mode is not stated. It is also frequently mentioned in such connections as to render it impossible for the word to denote the application of water in any mode. But in every passage of scripture where the mode of baptism is explicitly mentioned, sprinkling is spoken of as that mode. The Old Testament ceremonial washings are collectively called baptisms. Each of these is therefore one baptism. Whenever, in the whole of Divine revelation, the mode of any one or more of these washings or baptisms, is definitely mentioned, sprinkling is.
Immersers used the present English translation of the scriptures for more than 200 Years after it was first published in 1611. During all this time, they sanctioned the use of the word baptize which it contained. They were so decidedly in favor of this word that they even adopted it as a denominational name. From this very word, they called themselves Baptists. Thus, for more than 200 years, they have done all they possibly could, to establish the claims of this word to be a part of the English language. By the course they have pursued all this time, they have taught that it was the most proper English term by which to express the idea contained in the Greek word (baptidzo) for baptize. Now, and for a few years past, these same Baptists, yet wearing this word for a name, represent the use of it in the English New Testament is a "heaven-daring crime," (See Bliss on Baptism.) Let it be remembered too, that this very word (baptidzo) one which the Spirit of God uses in revealing to us his will.
4. The root (bapto) from which the word (baptidzo) for baptize, is derived, signifies to sprinkle. This is one meaning of the Greek word. It is seldom used in the New Testament In one passage it denotes to wet the end of the finger. This is truly a very small part of the whole body. The rich man in torment, asks that Lazarus "may dip" (bapto) " the tip of his finger in water and cool" his "tongue." This word cannot here signify more than to wet an exceedingly small part of the whole person. In another passage it is difficult to determine its exact import. It is the one in which our Saviour points out the person of his betrayer. He declared that he to whom he gave “a sop" or small piece “when" he had (bapto) "dipped it," would betray him. Whether this word denotes to take up, break off, take from a dish, or out of a liquid or to wet a small part or the whole of the sop, is not easily determined. But when it was dipped; he gave it to Judas. The other text in which this word (bapto) is found, is used in describing the Captain of Salvation as a conqueror returning victorious from the field of battle, with his "vesture" "dipped in blood." The mode in which the warrior's garments are stained with or dipped in blood, is, (not by taking them off and immersing them in the purple fluid, but) by the blood gushing out upon them from the wounded adversary or fallen foe. This word therefore in the New Testament, signifies to wet a very small part of the person; and to stain the vesture by sprinkling it profusely with blood.
5. The Hebrew word which, in the Septuagint, is translated by (bapto) the root from which baptize is derived, signifies to sprinkle. This Hebrew word often denotes a ceremonial washing; while another word in Hebrew more frequently indicates a literal cleansing. The dew falls in very small drops. They are so minute as to be sometimes almost or quite imperceptible to the senses. The word therefore which denotes to wet with dew must signify to sprinkle with small drops. This Hebrew word is used when it is said of Nebuchadnezzar; "his body was wet with the dew of heaven." It is certain therefore that it means to sprinkle; because it is used to indicate a wetting with dew; and this can only take place by an exceedingly gentle sprinkling. This same Hebrew word is used to express the wetting of a very small part of the bird, cedar-wood, scarlet, and hyssop, mentioned in the cleansing of the leper. This Hebrew word therefore; since it denotes to wet with dew must signify to sprinkle.
6. What is signified by Christian baptism, is denominated sprinkling. When, in the scriptures, what is signified by baptism, is, at any time so mentioned as to indicate the mode of the Spirit's influence; it is expressly called sprinkling, or other words which signify to sprinkle are employed. This will be evident by a few examples, (1.) To denote the work of the Spirit in regeneration; it is said “our hearts" are "sprinkled from an evil conscience." (2.) To express the application of the blood of Christ to the soul at conversion, by the power of the Holy Ghost; it is called “the blood of sprinkling;" and the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (3.) The various operations of the Spirit which are, or may be, denominated, baptism with the Holy Ghost, are expressed by words which indicate sprinkling. The Holy Spirit, in his operations upon the souls of men, is said to drop as rain or dew or showers; to be poured out upon them, as rain from a cloud or as tears from the eye; to be given; to descend; to be shed; to come and to fall upon them. These words all indicate sprinkling. To pour out water as from a cloud upon the earth, is to sprinkle it profusely; to fall as the rain or dew or as a shower is to fall in drops or to sprinkle; to be shed down, is to fall or be poured down like a heavy shower. These expressions therefore, so repeatedly made, show that spiritual baptism or the work of the Holy Ghost, being that which is signified in Christian baptism, is expressed by sprinkling. Literal sprinkling in baptism is a proper external symbol or sign of this internal spiritual sprinkling or baptism with the Holy Ghost. It is clear therefore that the ordinance of Christian baptism, which is the sign of spiritual sprinkling, must, or at least may be, administered by sprinkling. Between internal and external sprinkling, there is an exact resemblance. They are both by sprinkling. But immersion cannot be a sign of spiritual sprinkling; because there is not the least similitude between sprinkling the blood of Christ, or the falling of the Spirit on the soul, and the entire submersion of the body in water. Literal immersion cannot be a sign to symbolize or represent spiritual sprinkling; while this symbolical representation is manifest in literally sprinkling clean water upon the person.
Besides, baptism is a sacrament. In the sacrament the resemblance between the sign and the thing signified, ought to be as exact as possible. That which is signified in Christian baptism, is expressed by sprinkling; the sign therefore to secure a resemblance, must be by sprinkling. The work of the Spirit, which is signified in this ordinance, is spiritually pure; therefore to resemble this, clean or pure water, ought to be used in administering the ordinance of Christian baptism.
scriptural mode of performing ceremonial washings, is by sprinkling. The
mode of performing these, is not always mentioned in the word of God. But
when it is mentioned, it is always represented as being performed by sprinkling.
Either the word sprinkle is used or other terms which signify to sprinkle. In
no case is any one scriptural ceremonial washing
said to be performed by immersion.
The material used in these purifications, is said to be sprinkled, whenever
the mode is mentioned. The “blood" used in these, was sprinkled: The
“water" was sprinkled; "Ashes" were sprinkled; Oil was
sprinkled; Persons were sprinkled. The priests and Levites and all the
"people" are said to have been sprinkled. Things were sprinkled; such
as the "altar," the " horns of the altar," the
"tabernacle," the "book," houses, the "vessels of the
ministry," the "tent," the "mercy-seat," before
"the mercy-seat," &c. Words which do not express mode, such as
wash, cleanse, and the like, are occasionally used to denote ceremonial
purifications. But in every
instance where their mode is expressed, it is, in some form of words,
uniformly denominated sprinkling. Christian baptism
is a ceremonial washing. It is the only one to be used in New Testament
times. The command in relation to this washing includes succession. The
directions for other washings do not. The washing of the disciple's feet was
under the Old Testament dispensation, and the direction on that subject did not
include succession. Baptism
is not a washing for cleanliness. It is not administered for the putting
away of the filth of the flesh. It is not therefore a literal washing the design
of which is to cleanse a part or the whole of the person. It does not, and
cannot purify the soul. It is not therefore a spiritual washing which removes
sinful pollution from the person. It must then be a ceremonial washing of those
who are baptized. In such purifications, when a part is washed, the
individual is "clean every whit." This
baptismal ceremonial washing is an external sign of the work of the Spirit on
the soul. It is a scriptural washing. But as scriptural ceremonial washings,
whenever the mode is mentioned, are represented, as being by sprinkling; so baptism,
as it is a scriptural ceremonial washing, must or at least may, be
properly performed by sprinkling.
8. Sprinkling is a baptismal seal. Christian baptism is a seal. As such it can only be applied to a part of what is sealed. To cover with the sealing material, the whole of what is intended to be sealed, does not confirm but destroys its validity. The size of a seal does not render it more or less valid, if it is not so large as to destroy its nature as a seal. The seal which is a quarter of an inch in diameter confirms as thoroughly what is sealed, as that would do which covered a thousand times greater surface. The least quantity of the sealing material, will confirm as really and be as valid, as if the quantity was increased. The least quantity therefore of water, the sealing material in baptism, applied to the smallest surface on or near the proper place, by a minister of Christ, in the name of the Trinity, is a baptismal seal equally valid with a larger quantity; if the quantity is not so large as to destroy the nature of a seal. For not too small, but too large a quantity of the sealing material, destroys the nature of a seal and renders it invalid.
The baptismal seal is to be applied to the forehead. The servants of God are to be" sealed," and to be “sealed" in "their foreheads." The name of God is thus "written" or stamped on "their foreheads." That baptism therefore which is a seal, must be a quantity of water, the sealing material, no matter how small, applied to the forehead of the person baptized or sealed. Water sprinkled on the forehead is therefore a proper baptismal seal; or sprinkling water upon the forehead of a person in the name of the Triune God, is Christian baptism.
is the only mode of baptism,
that can be universally administered. This holy ordinance
is to be administered in all climates, and in all
seasons of the year, and to persons in
every stage of any disease(a). The commission to baptize includes all
this. The Lord Jesus Christ directs his ministering servants to "Go—and
teach all nations, baptizing them;" and to “preach the gospel to every
creature.” These directions show that the gospel is to be preached in every
nation; and that persons in every condition in life are to be baptized, in the
different nations of the earth. On this point, it may be remarked, (1.) That
sprinkling can be administered in any climate. Wherever human beings
can live, they can, at any season of the year, be baptized by sprinkling. This
is self evident. (2.) In
any disease, this mode of baptism
may be adopted. It is perfectly evident that any person in any
stage of any disease, will not suffer by being baptized by sprinkling. Neither
the burning heat of the torrid zone, nor the insupportable cold of the frigid;
neither the ravages of disease, nor the thirsty, unwatered desert, can render
sprinkling, as a mode of baptism,
either impossible or improbable. Baptism
be thus administered with equal ease in the parched desert, in the frozen north
and in the temperate plain. (3.) In all places where baptism
is said to have been administered; sprinkling may have been the
mode. John might have baptized by sprinkling in or at "
10. That with which baptism is administered, descends upon the baptized. A few instances will show this fact. (1.) When Nebuchadnezzar was "wet" or baptized "with the dew of heaven;" the small drops of dew descended upon him. (2.) When the Israelites were baptized in (en) or with "the sea;" the spray of the sea must have descended upon them. They were not immersed or put entirely under water. While in "the midst of the sea; "they were on "dry ground." The water then could not be poured on them out of vessels; and if it had been, it would have descended upon them. While the Israelites were walking on dry ground, through the opening made in the sea by Divine power; it was impossible for them to be baptized in any mode without the water descending upon them. Had they been immersed as the Egyptians were; the water must have come down upon them. In "the midst of the sea," they were on "dry ground." In such a situation, it was impossible to thrust them under water. But, as they were baptized while on dry ground in the opening made in the sea ; the water must have descended upon them in spray while they were passing through. (3.) When they were baptized in (en) or with " the cloud;" the drops of rain were " poured" down upon them. (4.) Of the "divers washings" or baptisms, the mode of which is mentioned in the word of God, many specimens are given. These are all by sprinkling (a). In these therefore the water and blood which were sprinkled, descended upon what was in this way ceremonially cleansed. (5.) When persons were baptized with the Holy Ghost; he is said to descend or fall, to be poured out, to be shed, upon them. That therefore with which persons were baptized, descended upon them.
11. John intimates that he baptized by sprinkling. In speaking to his disciples of his baptism as a ceremonial washing, he says to them of Christ; “God giveth not the Spirit by measure" or out of a measure, "to him." Here John appears to be contrasting his baptism with water, with that which Christ received with the Spirit in his human nature. When therefore he declares that Christ did not receive the one out of a measure; it is clearly intimated that he did receive the other from John out of a measure capable of containing water. Thus he intimates that he baptized with water out of a measure; or that he administered his baptism by sprinkling.
as a mode of baptism,
is often positively commanded in the word of God. To
sprinkle is one meaning of the word baptize. Whenever therefore a command
to baptize is given, sprinkling as a mode is required, if baptism
with water is intended. Because one meaning of the word baptize is to
sprinkle; every passage which commands baptism
with water, requires it to be administered by sprinkling as one mode.
Several particular commands may here be noticed. (1.) God sent John "to
baptize with water."' He was therefore required to administer his baptism
by sprinkling; because that is one meaning of the word baptize. (2.)
Christ commands his ministering servants to baptize all nations; and as the word
baptize denotes to sprinkle, therefore they were to administer the ordinance of
Christian baptism by
sprinkling as a mode. (3.) The inspired
Peter commanded his hearers "on the day of Pentecost," to " be
baptized."(4.) Paul was directed to "be baptized.” As baptize, a
word which signifies sprinkle, is used, each of these commands requires
sprinkling to be practiced as one mode of baptism.
and other instances, show conclusively that baptism
water, by sprinkling, is a commanded duty(a). Since sprinkling is one of the
legitimate meanings of the word baptize(b), and since this mode may have been
practiced in any place and under any circumstances in which baptism
in the scriptures said to have been administered(c), this must therefore be a
mode, and may be the only scriptural mode of baptism.
13. In every passage of scripture in which baptism with water is mentioned, sprinkling, as one mode, is taught. Baptism with water is very frequently mentioned either directly or indirectly, in the word of God. In each of these passages the word baptize which denotes to sprinkle, is used; or the word sprinkle itself is employed. All those passages therefore in which the word baptize is used to express the Christian ordinance of baptism, or any other baptism with water, teach that sprinkling is a mode. Whether the word baptize, which signifies to sprinkle, is used, or the word sprinkle itself; the same truth is presented to the mind. The use of either word proves conclusively, that sprinkling is a mode of baptism; because one meaning of the word baptize is to sprinkle.
EXAMPLES OF SPRINKLING AS A MODE OF BAPTISM
Christ was baptized by sprinkling. He was baptized to fulfill
the demands of that law which required the priests to be washed with water,
before they entered on the duties of their office. He had water applied to him
in order "to fulfill all righteousness." As to fulfill all
righteousness, is to comply, in every point, with all the demands of a righteous
law; so our Saviour, in order to be legally qualified to enter publicly upon the
functions of the office of a priest, which was one part
of his Mediatorial work, was washed with water. This washing of the priests, is
three times mentioned in the word of God. Moses was commanded to “wash"
Aaron and his sons "with water;" and he "washed them with
water." God, by his servant, expressly mentions the mode of this
washing." The Lord spake unto Moses, saying; take the Levites." The
word Levites, included the whole Tribe of Levi. Aaron and his sons were
of this Tribe. What God directs to be done to the Levites, must include Aaron
and his sons, as well as other members of the Tribe, unless they are excepted in
some form of language. God is now about to mention the mode in which water was
applied to the Levites. He said to Moses; "thus
shalt thou do unto them to cleanse them; sprinkle water of purifying upon
we are expressly informed that the Levites were to be sprinkled with water when
they were to be set apart to the service of God. Aaron was a
"Levite." His sons were therefore Levites. The Levites then included
Aaron and his sons. These last were set apart as priests under the Old Testament
dispensation of the covenant. Not the least hint is contained in the scriptures,
which could lead us to suppose that the mode by which Aaron and his sons were
washed, differed in any respect from that by which the other Levites were
washed. The Levites were washed by sprinkling. Aaron and his sons were Levites;
therefore they were washed by sprinkling. Jesus
Christ had water applied to him in order to comply perfectly with that law which
required water to be applied to the priests when they were about to enter
publicly on the discharge of the duties of the priestly office. This
law required water to be sprinkled upon them; therefore
to comply perfectly with this law, Jesus Christ must have been sprinkled with
water, when John, "to fulfill all righteousness," baptized him.
If he was not sprinkled, then that
part of the Divine command which required the "water of purifying" to
be sprinkled, was not fulfilled by him. But as Christ did fulfill every part of
this law as well as of all others, the water must have been sprinkled upon him,
as God had directed. The righteousness of the law which he was about to
fulfill in his baptism,
required the water to be sprinkled. He therefore, as he fulfilled this
law at his baptism,
had water sprinkled upon him as the law required. Jesus
Christ was therefore baptized by sprinkling.
Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized by sprinkling. This Eunuch was
sitting in his chariot, in his journey from
3. Paul was baptized by sprinkling. He "arose and was baptized." If he had been baptized in any other way except by sprinkling; he would have lay, sat or kneeled down to receive the ordinance. Those who are immersed as a substitute for baptism, always lie down. Those who have water poured upon them for baptism, always kneel down or sit down. But persons never arise to receive the ordinance of baptism except when they are sprinkled. As therefore Paul "arose" to be "baptized;" so he must have been baptized by sprinkling. In his case too, the word baptize which signifies to sprinkle, is used of this ordinance. This twofold evidence, the fact that he arose and the use of a word which denotes to sprinkle, must be an unanswerable proof to the unprejudiced mind that Paul was baptized by sprinkling.
4. Those who were baptized by John were sprinkled. That he administered his baptism by sprinkling, is proved, (1.) From the language used. Wherever his ceremonial washing is definitely mentioned, the word baptize which denotes sprinkle, is employed. If, at any time, he had immersed for his ceremonial washing; one of the Greek words which sometimes evidently signify immerse, would have been used at least once for his baptism, when it is so frequently mentioned in the scriptures. But when the word baptize which signifies to sprinkle, but does not in the whole of Divine revelation, signify immerse, is uniformly employed to express his baptism; the evidence is clear that he baptized by sprinkling. (2.) He baptized Jesus Christ by sprinkling; therefore that was his mode of baptism. There is not the least intimation given in the account of our Saviour's baptism, which can lead persons to suppose that John adopted, in the baptism of Christ, a mode which differed in any external point from that used by him when he baptized other persons. But as he baptized Christ by sprinkling; that therefore was his mode. (3.) The number he baptized daily, proves that sprinkling was the mode he practiced. "John did no miracle;" and without a miracle, it would be absolutely impossible for one man to baptize in any mode except that of sprinkling, the numbers to whom he applied water. John therefore baptized by sprinkling. All then baptized by him, are examples of persons baptized by sprinkling.
whole nation of
6. Every example of baptism with water mentioned in the scriptures, proves that sprinkling is one mode of administering that ordinance. Whenever water is said to be applied to persons in this ordinance; the word baptize which signifies sprinkle is employed. It is said of the three thousand on “the day of Pentecost;" they ”were baptized.” It is also declared that Peter and Philip and Ananias and Paul and others baptized persons. In all these cases, and in every other instance where any person is said to administer or receive this ordinance; the Greek word (baptidzo) for baptize is used. And, as this word signifies to sprinkle as one of its meanings, and as this is its only meaning definitely mentioned in the scriptures; so therefore in every example of baptism mentioned in Divine revelation where this word is used, (and it is used in them all,) sprinkling as one mode of baptism, is taught. Every example therefore of baptism with water mentioned in the whole book of God, shows that sprinkling is one, if not the only, mode of administering this ordinance.
7. The scriptural evidence which proves sprinkling to be a mode of baptism, is clear and full. That sprinkling is a mode of baptism, is taught, (1.) From the express language of scripture; (2.) From several millions of scriptural examples of this mode of baptism; (3.) From the meanings of the word (baptidzo) for baptize, one of which is to sprinkle; (4.) From the fact that (bapto) the root from which the word for baptize is derived, often denotes to sprinkle; (5.) From the meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated into Greek by the root of the word for baptize. This Hebrew word denotes to sprinkle, to wet a small part, &c. (6.) From the fact that what is signified by baptism is often said to be sprinkled; (7.) From the fact that literal sprinkling is a proper sign of that which is spiritual; (8.) From the fact that the uniform mode of performing scriptural ceremonial washings, is by sprinkling; (9.)From sprinkling being a proper baptismal seal; (10.) From the fact that sprinkling is the only mode which can become as universal as the commission to administer baptism, requires the ordinance to be administered. These, and the other evidences which have been noticed from the word of God, show most conclusively that sprinkling is a scriptural mode of baptism.
If there is but one mode of baptism,
that must be by sprinkling. There
is no definite evidence in the whole word of God to prove that immersion
is a mode, and much less that it is
the only mode of baptism.
But that sprinkling is a mode of baptism,
is taught by inspired men, in the most unequivocal language. If
therefore there is but one mode of baptism;
sprinkling, as it is often definitely taught in the word of God, both If
however there is only one mode by which the ordinance of Christian baptism
can be administered; that cannot be immersion.
It must be by sprinkling; as this is the only mode definitely taught in
the revelation which God has been pleased to give to mankind.
AUTHORITY ON SPRINKLING AS A MODE OF BAPTISM,
AND DICTIONARIES ON SPRINKLING AS A MODE OP BAPTISM,
1. Human authority is no part of the Christian's rule of duty in religious matters. However numerous and learned the writers may be, who adopt a particular view, their authority is not the Christian’s rule of duty. This authority may be valuable in various respects. Men may direct the mind to the word of God. They may present, explain or enforce Divine truth. But their declarations, however plain and positive and learned and valuable, do not form any portion of the rule for man's religious duties. The word of God and that only it, and nothing else can be made, his rule of duty. Human authority on sprinkling as a mode of baptism, is here presented, not as any part of the Christian’s rule; but it is mentioned merely to show that Immersers are nearly as destitute of evidence from this source to sustain their exclusive claims, as they are from the scriptures of truth.
2. Greek Lexicons teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. Their mode of doing this is two-fold. (1.) They inform us that sprinkle is one meaning of the word (bapto) from which that for baptize is derived. Hence the derivative (baptidzo) which is also a diminutive of the same word (bapto) and therefore expresses less than its primitive, must signify to sprinkle; or rather to sprinkle with fewer or smaller drops than (bapto) its root. That the derivative cannot denote more, and may express less, than the primitive word from which it is derived, will be manifest from a few examples. Blackish is derived from black; reddish from red: wettish from wet; foolish from fool, &c. From these and other examples; it is evident that a derivative word cannot denote more than that from which it is derived. That blackish cannot denote more than black, reddish than red, whitish than white, &c., is too manifest to need illustration. (2.) Greek Lexicographers teach that the word (baptidzo) for baptize itself, signifies to sprinkle. Greek Lexicons therefore teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism.
3. Hebrew Lexicons teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. They say that the word which is translated into Greek by (bapto) the root for baptize, signifies to sprinkle, to wet a small part, &c. The authority of these Lexicons is, therefore, in favor of the position that sprinkling is one, if not the only mode of baptism.
4. English Dictionaries teach that sprinkling is one mode of baptism. They call baptism a sprinkling with water. This they would not do, if they did not intend to inform men that sprinkling is a mode of baptism.
The Lexicographers in other ancient and modern languages might be here quoted, were it necessary, to sustain the position that the Lexicons and Dictionaries teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. In every language in which the word baptize is used, authority might be given to prove that sprinkling is one mode by which this ordinance may be administered. But to refer to more of this kind of authority, is deemed unnecessary. Lexicographers then, since they give sprinkle as one meaning of the word baptize, positively teach that sprinkling is a mode of administering the holy ordinance of Christian baptism.
WRITERS ON SPRINKLING AS A MODE OF BAPTISM
1. The Apocryphal writers teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. By one of these, it is said; "he that washeth" or baptizes "himself after — touching — a dead body, if he touch it again, what availeth his washing". When the mode, in which a person who had touched a dead body was to be ceremonially cleansed, is mentioned; it is four times in one chapter said to be by sprinkling. By comparing what is here said to have been done, with the mode of doing the same thing as mentioned in the word of God; we have a manifest instance of a baptismal ceremonial washing performed by sprinkling. Moreover, it is affirmed of Judith that she "washed" or baptized "herself in" at, on or upon "a fountain of water in" or by "the camp". That this was a ceremonial washing appears from the circumstances of the case. She was a Jewess. She would therefore perform her ceremonial washings after the manner of that nation. That the Jewish ceremonial washings were performed by sprinkling, cannot but be evident to any one who will read the Old Testament. These washings are very frequently said to be by sprinkling. As therefore this washing of Judith was a Jewish ceremonial washing, and as the word baptize which signifies to sprinkle is used; so her washing must have been by sprinkling.
Greek Fathers teach that sprinkling is a mode of bap/ism. All the
principal, and perhaps the whole, of these, use the word (baptidzo)
for baptize, which signifies sprinkle, when they mention this ordinance.
But none of them uses one of the words which frequently signify immerse, to
express the ordinance of baptism.
They therefore, by using this word for baptism,
show that they held to sprinkling as a mode of administering this
ordinance. Of these Fathers, a number may here be named. (1.) Polycarp was born
about the year A. D. 67, was converted to the Christian faith in A. D. 81, and
was martyred about the year 160. He was a disciple of John the apostle. (2.)
4. Pedobaptist commentators on the scriptures, teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. Only a very few of the principal of these can be mentioned here. (1.) Henry says of the eleven and their successors in the ministerial office; they were to "admit" persons "into the church—by sprinkling water upon them" in the ordinance of baptism. He then quotes the passages; I will "sprinkle clean water upon you," and he shall "sprinkle many nations," as prophetic descriptions of the mode by which baptism was to be administered in New Testament times. By these passages, it is clearly intimated that the commission to baptize, requires those to whom it is entrusted by the Great Head of the church, to administer this ordinance in the same way or mode which he, by his prophets, had predicted that it should be administered. Henry therefore clearly teaches that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. (2.) Dr. Thomas Scott, declares plainly that immersion is "certainly not the only mode of baptism." He also as positively affirms that "baptism" may be administered "by—sprinkling." (3.) Dr. Adam Clark, says that "immersion" is not the only mode of baptism, and also, that those who are "sprinkled" in the name of the Trinity are "evangelically baptized." Again he declares; "baptism—administered by—sprinkling, signifies a full consecration of the person to the service of that Being in whose name it is administered." He farther says, that "sprinkling" is a "legitimate" form "of baptism," and that "baptism is essentially performed by sprinkling." This language undoubtedly teaches that he believes sprinkling to be a mode of baptism. (4.) Guise in his Paraphrase, definitely teaches that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. Moreover, Owen, Doddridge, Wall, Bradbury, Bostwick, Towgood, Adding- ton, Williams, Edwards, Miller, Evans(a), Alexander, Fleury, Bogardus, Fonda, Milligan, Prime, and a number of others, all able men, have written in favor of sprinkling being a mode of baptism. It is evident from the names here mentioned, that the principal Pedobaptist commentators and writers, maintain that sprinkling is one mode of baptism. When therefore it is affirmed, that these or other Pedobaptist writers, teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism, or that baptism cannot be administered by sprinkling; the name of the writer, and the page or chapter in his book, ought to be mentioned. These should be plainly pointed out before the eyes of Pedobaptists. Then they would be furnished with the only suitable proof which can be given to show that any of these writers do now teach or ever have taught that sprinkling is not a mode of baptism. Till this is done, evidence in favor of such a position is wanting. Besides, when an Immerser has occasionally manifested so much temerity as to mention the name of a Pedobaptist writer as one who sustains his exclusive system, the assertion has always, upon examination, proved to be untrue. Instead of such Pedobaptist writers teaching that immersion is the only mode of baptism, they teach expressly that sprinkling is a legitimate mode of administering that ordinance. When therefore it is asserted that Pedobaptist writers teach that immersion is the only mode of baptism; men who yield their assent to that and to that only for the support of which they have good evidence, must beg leave to decline giving implicit confidence to these and similar statements, till at least one such writer is discovered by them.
The fact that some of the above mention or admit that immersion, as well as sprinkling, is a mode of baptism, does not in the least degree, sustain the exclusive claims of Immersers. The position of the exclusives is, not that immersion is one mode of baptism, but that it is the only mode. That immersion is a mode of baptism, is one thing; and that it is the only mode, is a position essentially different. The latter is the ground taken by the exclusive Immersers. To change their position, as if their only intention was to teach that immersion is one mode of baptism, when they really maintain that it is the only mode, proves their want of candor; not that immersion is the only mode of baptism. To change their ground thus, also shows that they feel how incapable they are of sustaining their exclusive claims by evidence brought to bear on the position they profess to maintain.
5. Ancient monumental pictures and engravings prove that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. About fifty of these have been preserved. They indicate the mode of baptism practiced from about the year 300, till about the year A. D. 1100. By no one of these is immersion taught. In each of them, the water is represented as being applied to the person, not the person to the water. In all of them the water is uniformly represented as being sprinkled or poured upon the head of the person baptized. The recipient of the ordinance is sometimes represented ns standing in the water and sometimes as standing out of it on the floor or on the ground. In every instance the administrator is represented as being entirely out of the water, while he is administering the ordinance. It is manifest therefore, that being in the water, was no part of the ordinance of baptism; for if it was, then baptism could not have been administered while the recipient was entirely out of it ; as, according to these evidences, it often was. Of these monumental representations, at least five exhibit the baptism of Christ. In four of these, John is represented as sprinkling water on the head of our Saviour; and in one, as pouring it on him out of a small shell. It is manifest therefore that by these ancient monumental pictures and engravings, sprinkling, as a mode of baptism, is taught.
ON SPRINKLING AS A MODE OF BAPTISM
1. Christians in general maintain that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. They teach this both by precept and example. Of the one hundred and seventy-five millions of professing Christians in the world, more than one hundred and seventy millions admit that sprinkling is a mode of baptism; and more than one hundred and forty millions practice that mode. Of these millions of professing Christians, at least seventy-five millions are Romanists; not less than thirty millions are connected with the Greek Church; and about sixty-five millions are professedly Protestant. The Romanists all sprinkle in what they call baptism; the Greek church do not exclude sprinkling from being one mode of baptism, though they usually immerse persons and call that baptism. They also sometimes baptize by sprinkling. But the intelligent Protestant will not admit that the authority of these, is of much consequence; as they do not even profess to take the unadulterated word of God for their only rule in all religious duties. But the authority of sixty-five millions of professed Protestants may be noticed. Of these less than one million wholly reject baptism with water. About the same number maintain that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Here then are more than sixty millions of Protestants who teach, both by precept and example, that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. From the facts here stated, it is certainly true that professing Christians in general, maintain that sprinkling is a mode of baptism.
large denominations teach that this is on f mode of administering the ordinance
A few of these may here be named. That sprinkling is a mode of
taught by the Waldenses, Albigenses, &c., of the early and middle ages. It
is also held, (1.) By the church of Scotland; (2.) By the Free Assembly of
Moreover, it is a remarkable fact, worthy of a passing notice here, that no class of persons who maintain that immersion is the only mode of baptism, do now or ever did require their public religious teachers to be thoroughly educated men. Besides, the exclusives are not at all scrupulous in their practical adherence to the word of God in their religious exercises. As examples of their deviations from the scriptures in what they call religion; several instances may be mentioned. (1.) They often use anxious seats. (2.) They frequently wear long beards. (3.) Many of them, for years, maintained the notion that the day of judgment was to take place in the year 1843, or before April 1st, 1844. (4.) They sometimes even violate the commands of God under the name of religion. They not infrequently violate that command ; " let your women keep silence in the churches," and that which requires men to "remember the Sabbath day" and "keep it holy;" and also that which says, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Since they can mistake the violation of some of the positive commands of God for religious service; and since they can so readily violate others; their authority in matters of religion, even if they were equally numerous, might be questioned with much greater propriety than that of those millions who take the word of God, both in principal and in practice, for their only rule in all religious duties.
Synods and Assemblies, hold to sprinkling as a mode of baptism.
Only a very small portion of the principal of these can be
mentioned here. (1.) The council at Attica in
All these believe and habitually teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. They uniformly reverence the authority of God. They manifest habitual love to him and to his cause. They read the scriptures with prayerful attention, to ascertain what the will of the Lord is. They love righteousness. They take pleasure in obeying the Divine commands. With all this piety, this devotion to the service of God, this earnest anxiety to learn that he teaches in his word; they believe and habitually affirm that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. If their uniform assertion is not true, then they are all guilty of habitual lying. They all assert habitually that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. If it is not so; then, every time they make the assertion, they are guilty of uttering a solemn falsehood. They must therefore be habitual liars, or sprinkling must be what they constantly affirm it to be, a mode of baptism. Habitual liars are not Christians,—are not even moral men. Millions and tens of millions of persons who, to all appearance, are true, devoted followers of the Lamb, now declare, and hundreds of millions, not a few of whom have suffered martyrdom for their religion, have heretofore, while they lived on earth, habitually declared sprinkling to be a mode of baptism taught in the word of God. If this their uniform declaration is not true; then all these professing Christians,—these martyred followers of the blessed Saviour, are living, or have lived and died, with a "lie in" their "right hand." And we know that "all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Such a charge brought against the great body of professing Christians, ought to be sustained by at least one explicit passage of scripture. To say that the knowledge of these persons is or was defective on this subject is but a sorry apology for them. Men of veracity take care to know that what they habitually affirm is true. They do not regularly affirm that for truth of which they have no knowledge. When men uniformly declare that sprinkling is a mode of baptism; they either tell the truth, or their declaration is not true. If it is false, then those who constantly make it, are habitually uttering a most solemn falsehood. But those who are guilty of doing this, are habitual liars. Who, on the mere unsupported assertion of a few Immersers can believe that all these millions of professing Christians are, or were, while they lived, habitual liars? Those who cannot do this, must believe that sprinkling is a mode of baptism.
The charge of
being thus guilty of "lying" and of being "monomaniacs" or
deranged in relation to the subject of baptism,
is by Immersers, brought, in plain, unvarnished language, against all who
baptize infants by sprinkling. These and many other similar expressions, are
used in relation to them. If these charges are true, then all who baptize
infants by sprinkling, must be most odiously wicked persons. To say that a lying
rebel against the king of
SPRINKLING AS A MODE OF BAPTISM,
PRESENTED IN A DIALOGUE BETWEEN A BAPTIZER AND AN IMMERSER
Immerser. Mr. Baptizer, do you believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism ?
Baptizer. I do not.
I. Why do you not believe that immersion is the only mode of Baptism?
B. Because, in the word of God, there is no precept, no example, no evidence of any kind to prove that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
I. Do you believe that immersion is one mode of baptism?
B. I cannot say that 1 do. That which has no scriptural evidence to sustain its claims to be a mode of baptism; that which is not even mentioned in the whole of Divine revelation as a mode of baptism, can scarcely be called a Christian ordinance, by those who take the word of God and that only, for their rule of duty. That there is no evidence in scripture to sustain the claims of immersion is perfectly certain. No one can find any positive evidence in the scriptures to prove immersion to be a mode of baptism; for this plain reason; no such evidence is recorded in God's word.
I. Do you believe that baptism with water is an ordinance of Divine appointment to be observed in the New Testament church?
B. I do; for there is positive scriptural evidence to prove that baptism with water is to be observed in the Christian church till the end of time.
I. In what mode of baptism do you believe?
B. I believe that sprinkling is a scriptural mode of administering the ordinance of Christian baptism.
I. Have you any evidence for this your belief?
B. I have much; and it is as positive as language can make it.
I. Do the scriptures in any passage, positively teach that sprinkling is a mode of baptism?
B. They do, in many passages and in different forms of expression.
I. Does the word baptize ever denote sprinkle?
B. It does frequently.
I. Does God in the scriptures command persons to be sprinkled as a mode of baptism?
B. He does, in every passage where baptism with water is commanded.
I. Are there any scriptural examples of sprinkling as a mode of baptism?
B. There are, hundreds, thousands, millions of such examples. Do wise and good men admit that sprinkling is a mode of baptism?
B. Yes; millions of them do. Indeed, almost the whole of the professedly Christian world maintain that sprinkling is a mode of baptism.
I. Do not a very few wise and good men deny that sprinkling, in the name of the Trinity, is a mode of baptism?
B. Some few that are so called, deny this. But if they were men of knowledge on this subject, they could not believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism; and if they were really good men, they would not maintain what they did not believe. It may therefore be doubted, with much propriety, whether any truly good man, thoroughly acquainted with this subject, ever really believed the notion that immersion is the only mode of baptism. But if wise and good men did believe it, their belief would not prove it to be true. If a wise and good man believes a falsehood, his belief will not change the falsehood into truth.
I. Ts not the word baptize of Greek origin?
B. It is. This word was transferred from the Greek into English at a very early period in the history of our language.
I. Is it right to transfer words from one language into another?
B. It certainly is. In doing so, there can be no manner of impropriety.
I. If the word baptize may without sin, be transferred from Greek into English; why may not every word in that language be transferred into ours j Now I've cornered you.
B. If there is no sin in transferring the low Latin word immerse from that language into English, why may we not transfer all low words from that language into ours ?
I. Really, I do not know. I never thought of that before.
B. Then I
will tell you. There would, in reality, be no sin in transferring all the words
in any one language into any other. Words which now compose parts of the English
language have been transferred from more than twenty others. The Saxon is
generally, and with propriety, considered the original of the English language.
The Saxon is a dialect of the Old Teutonic. From this last originated the present
German and other Gothic languages. When the Saxons invaded
I. I think not. But do you really believe that sprinkling is the only mode of baptism?
B. I cannot say that I do. It is however the only mode expressly taught in the word of God; and if there is but one mode of baptism, that must certainly be by sprinkling.
I. Why, you tear immersion up by the roots; and I won't hear another word from you on the subject.
B. Do not be displeased with me. I am not to blame, because God in his word, has not taught that immersion is the only mode of baptism. Nor is it my fault that men will not read and believe what the scriptures declare in relation to this subject. God's word, plainly and positively and repeatedly, teaches that sprinkling is a mode of baptism. I am not to blame for this; am I?
I. I won't hear any more from you on this subject. You make it so plain, every person will soon believe in sprinkling; and then, O, what will become of my dear, favorite scheme of immersion!! This too, you accomplish, without altering Divine revelation to make it suit your views of baptism; while I had to alter the Bible to obtain some faint shadow of evidence to prove that immersion is even one mode of baptism. O, my immersion, you're overthrowing that! How can I live, if my own dear immersion is exposed in all its naked deformity! This you are doing. For this you are to blame. I'll hear no more of this. I'll leave you.
B. Farewell, Mr. Immerser. I pray the Lord to give you light to perceive and grace to receive God's truth in love. I. I tell you I won't hear you any longer. B. He's gone. How unwilling he is to receive the truth on this subject. Perhaps God has given him up to believe a lie, because he was willing to be led blindfolded into this maze of error. When the truth flashes on his intellect, he appears to hate it. May the Lord give him grace. May he teach him, and every other Immerser, to read and believe and love his own holy word; and then they will all soon forsake their exclusive system, unsupported as it is, by the scriptures of truth.
SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM
IN CHURCH ORGANIZATION
1. The church is a society. This appears from the fact that it is composed of persons united together for certain purposes. The word church is, in the scriptures, used in a variety of senses. In each of them it denotes a society of persons or its officers. The term “churches" in the plural number, is often found in the word of God. It then denotes different branches of this society. The word church is sometimes used to signify the whole society and sometimes only a part of it. Moreover, its officers are occasionally expressed by the word church.
church is a religious society. The very design of this society is
to unite for religious purposes. In every passage of scripture where the
3. The church is a society in covenant with God. Each member of this society is hound in covenant to believe all that God teaches in his word, and to obey all his requirements. This is the very nature of the covenant into which every person enters who unites with any branch of this society. By the very act of joining a church, a person ratifies this covenant relation.
4. This covenant has a seal or seals and parties. A seal is, in fact, an essential part of a covenant. It is that which confirms its promise to the party to whom it is made. No covenant can therefore be complete without a seal or seals. Parties are also essential to the very existence of a covenant. It is a solemn, sealed agreement, made between the parties. God and the church, in its members or in its head, are the parties in the covenant which constitutes this society. The promise of the covenant is sealed and sure to all who, by themselves or by their substitute, perform its stipulations.
1. Uninspired men cannot certainly know who are the members of this church. On this account it is frequently, and not improperly, called the invisible church. The commencement of true grace in the soul is often imperceptible to human beings. J It is with propriety therefore that this church is called invisible. Besides, some of its members have passed into the unseen world ; and others are not yet born. These of course are not visible to man on earth.
2. All Us members are included in the covenant of grace. This is “the church—which" Christ” hath purchased with his own blood." Its members compose "God's elect." They all have been, or will be truly regenerated by the Spirit of God, and eventually taken to eternal rest. This is "the church" over which Christ is the spiritual "head." All its members are or certainly will be saved through the merits and intercession of Jesus Christ its glorious Redeemer.
3. The parties in this covenant are God the Father and Christ as the representative and substitute of his people. Christ is often mentioned as “head" of this "church," and as a substitute for his people, for his "sheep." The Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the head or representative, and the substitute of his people. This covenant was made between the Father and the Son as the head of his people.
4. Adults and infants are interested in this covenant. A part of these entered heaven before the death of Christ; a portion have left this world since; some live on earth at present; and some are not yet born. That both infants and adults are interested in this covenant, appears from the express language of scripture. God says of those in this covenant; “I will give them one heart that they may fear me forever, for the good of them and of their children after them." Here parents and "their children" are both expressly mentioned as having an interest in this covenant. Its promise is made alike to both. It is "for the good of them" and "of their children." That some infants are saved, few persons will deny. But if any ever were or ever will be saved, then infants are included in this covenant. Such infants as are saved, must belong to Christ as a part of his people; as a portion of his flock. Several infants are mentioned in the scriptures, as being interested in the grace of this covenant. Among these, may be noticed the child of David, the child of Jereboam, together with Jeremiah and John the Baptist. It is therefore undeniably certain, that both adults and infants are interested in the covenant of grace; for it is certain that some of both classes have been saved.
5. The covenant of grace has a seal. This is essential to it as a covenant. This “seal" is often mentioned in the word of God. It is called the "circumcision—of the heart," spiritual baptism, a being " born again,"—" born of the Spirit,"—" born of God," and the like- Those therefore who are in this covenant, either have been or will be "sealed" with " the Holy Spirit of God."
invisible church is one. It is made up of all true believers in
every age and country. (1.) These are called "one." (2.) They have one
"head." (3.) They have one regenerating Spirit by which they “are
sealed." (4.) They have “one God and Father." (5.) They have one
rule to which to conform in all their religious principles and practices. This
is the Spirit speaking in the scriptures. (6.) They, together, constitute the
“one body" of Christ. (7.) They are one “building." (8.) They have
one “foundation." From these evidences, it is clear that the true,
spiritual and holy
WATER INCLUDED INVISIBLE CHURCH ORGANIZATION
1. God organized a visible church. This is certain, from the fact that there is a visible church on earth. If God had not organized a church, then there could not possibly have been any organized society which could at any time have united or rendered him acceptable service. To act without God's authority, is not serving him. It is rebellion against his commands which require mankind to “obey his voice," and to go "to the law and to the testimony" for directions in all religious duties. That there is on earth a church, or a society of persons in visible covenant relation with God, is positive proof that it was organized by him; or that it was, in some way and at some period of time, received into covenant by him.
organized the visible church in the days of Abram. God had his
people on earth before this date. They served him in a visible form. This was by
offering sacrifices according to his appointment. Before this, God had not
entered into a special covenant with his professed servants. But "when
Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to" him, "and
said ;"—" I will make my covenant between me and
thee;"—" I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy
seed after thee;"—" I will multiply thee;"—" Thou shalt
be a father of many nations;"—" I will give unto thee and to thy
seed—all the land of Canaan; and I will be their God. Here is the covenant
definitely mentioned. Its promise is also plainly stated. Moreover, God pointed
out to Abram what, in this covenant, was to be required of him and of his seed.
This is done in positive language. He says to him; "Walk before me and be
thou perfect;"—" Thou shalt keep my covenant—thou and thy
seed;"—"My covenant shall be in your flesh." To this Abram
agreed for himself and for his seed. This is evident from the account of this
whole transaction. Moreover, it was necessary, in order to complete the
covenant, that he should accept its stipulations, or agree to the demands which
it proposed. These were all evidently and perfectly just. With them he could not
therefore with propriety refuse to comply. The "seal" or
"token" of this covenant, is expressly named. This was circumcision.
"Every man-child among you shall be circumcised;"—" Ye shall
circumcise the flesh of your foreskin." In this covenant one party is God;
adults and infants compose the other. Abram, an adult, "ninety years old
and nine," Ishmael, a lad of " thirteen," and Isaac, an infant,
"eight days old," were all circumcised to comply with the stipulations
of this covenant. This was to them the "token"—"sign" or
"seal" of this "covenant." We have here then presented, (1.)
The condescension of God. He proposes to enter into covenant with a man and his
seed, both literal and spiritual.(2.) The covenant which is proposed on the part
of God, is accepted on the part of Abram. (3.) The covenant requirements are
mentioned. (4.) The promise of the covenant is definitely made. This is
two-fold. It proposes temporal blessing to all who sustain this covenant
relation. It also includes spiritual blessings for all who, by the grace of
their substitute, perfectly comply with its stipulations. All spiritual
blessings are included in that part of the promise expressed in this language;
"I will be a God
unto thee and to thy seed." (5.) There is a visible seal mentioned as
belonging to this covenant. This is one of its necessary parts. Without this,
the external covenant relation between God and his visible people, would have
been incomplete. (6.) The parties in this covenant are mentioned. A covenant
always supposes parties. Without these it could not therefore have existed. Here
then are presented all the parts, complete of a visible church organization. No
one part is wanting. None is defective. The right to organize this church, being
from God, was perfect. In every part of its organization, Divine wisdom is
clearly exhibited. It is perfectly manifest therefore that in the days of Abram,
visible church organization, in all its parts, is permanent. This
appears from several considerations. (1.) There is nothing in the nature of the
parties, or in the covenant, or in the design which God had in forming a visible
church on earth, or in his purposes of mercy towards men, which, in the nature
of things, would disorganize this church. (2.) There could be no necessity, so
far as God or man might be interested in the church, for dissolving this
organization, and leaving the world again to uncovenanted mercies. (3.) If God
should disorganize this church in the formation of which his wisdom was
displayed, no greater or different wisdom would be exhibited in another. If this
therefore should be disorganized, as the same wisdom and the same power would be
manifested in organizing another; the last would be precisely like the first in
every thing essential to church organization. It cannot be supposed therefore
that a Being of perfect wisdom, would disorganize a church of his own formation,
merely for the purpose of organizing it again. (4.) There is positive evidence
that this church is permanent in its duration. The covenant which is
essential to its existence, is permanent. It is expressly and repeatedly
called "an everlasting covenant." As there is nothing in the covenant,
or in the parties, or in the nature of things, to limit its duration; men have
no right to do so. This covenant therefore will continue while the earth
remains, in all its parts which belong to the church in time, and through
eternity in all its parts which relate specially to the
world of spirits. Always after this covenant was made in the days of Abram, those
to whom its seal was applied, are represented as being the professed people of
God. They are called the "people of God;" "the congregation
of the Lord ;"—the "
4. The covenant into which God entered with Abram and his seed, was not disannulled, but confirmed by our Saviour. This is positively declared by inspired men. Of Christ's personal appearance on earth, the prophet says; "he shall confirm the covenant with many," not make another with them. He confirmed this "covenant" by personally receiving its seal. He was circumcised. He also complied with all its other demands, and so it was confirmed by him. He confirmed "the promises made" in this covenant "unto the fathers." To do this he became "a minister of the circumcision." It is also said of this whole "covenant," that it was "confirmed of God, in Christ," before the ceremonial law was given . Since this Abrahamic covenant was "confirmed—in Christ;" it is perfectly certain that he did not disannul it. To disannul and to confirm are perfectly opposite to each other. What Christ confirms he does not therefore disannul.
visible church organized in the days of Abraham, is and will remain, essentially
one in every subsequent age till the end of time. This unity of
the visible church, does not suppose, that all its members must live at the same
time; nor that it has one visible head ; nor that there should be but one
denomination ; nor that all its members must be equally pure ; nor external
agreement in every point. But it does suppose, that they all sustain a visible
covenant relation to God. That the visible church is one or that all and each of
its members are in covenant with God, appears from many declarations made in the
scriptures. (1.) It is expressly called "one;" Christ "hath made
both" Jews and Gentiles "one." (2.) It has one "head,"
the Lord Jesus Christ. (3.) It "is his body." (4.) It is represented
as one " church," one "pillar," one " house," one
"city," one "temple," one " Zion," one "
Jerusalem," one " kingdom,'" &c. (5.) In all ages since its
organization, it has had one "covenant"— "confirmed" in
Christ; one promise of this covenant including temporal and spiritual blessings,
and a seal of the same spiritual import.(6.) The whole visible church is
mentioned as one "olive-tree," as the collective "branches"
of one vine, and as having externally one description of members. Of these some
are truly united to Christ by faith and others only nominally so. (7.) It has
one Saviour, Christ, and one way of justification through his righteousness
imputed to the soul. (8.) Its members have had, and will, at all times, have one
Spirit to convert, sanctify and renew the soul; to give true faith and true
repentance, with all the other Christian graces and affections, to each one of
God's elect among them. Moreover it may be observed here, that Zion, the
collective body of his people, while they retain their former appellations,
have, in New Testament times, been "called by a new name" as the
prophet predicted. It is the same Old Testament Zion, not a new one, which,
under the New dispensation, was to have a "new name." The same
6. Members of this church have a right to the visible seal of the covenant. A covenant is a solemn agreement between parties. The seal is an essential part of it. By this, the promise made in the covenant is confirmed. The bargain therefore must be made, the agreement entered into, before it can be sealed. This agreement may be made by the parties themselves, or by their representatives properly appointed. When an agreement is confirmed by a seal, it then becomes a covenant, complete in all its parts. If a person neglects or refuses to confirm a solemn agreement made with him and which requires this confirming token, he becomes thereby a covenant-breaker. Of such a person, God says; "he hath broken my covenant." A person cannot break a covenant with which he is not connected as a party. But the moment he is thus in covenant, by his own act or by that of a Divinely appointed representative, its promise then becomes his and he has a right to its confirming seal. Members of the visible church sustain to God a visible covenant relation. They are a party in the covenant. They therefore have a right to its seal whatever that may be. If those who are in covenant are not entitled to its seal, then no persons can be; for those who are not in it cannot claim its promise, much less the seal by which that promise is confirmed.
7. The engagements of this Abrahamic covenant are perpetually binding. This arises from its very nature. Those in this covenant are always bound in covenant to perform all its requirements. They may neglect or refuse to do this; and by this course of conduct, they may lose a right to the blessings promised in it. They then become "covenant- breakers;" but this does not free them from its obligations. They may be, by acts of discipline, suspended or excluded from the privileges of the covenant. But then they are members suspended or excluded from its blessings. They are not thereby released from one of its obligations. These acts of discipline, however just or unjust, do not, cannot, excuse the party from his covenant obligations. He is still bound in covenant to fulfill all its stipulations. Such "covenant- breakers" are guilty of a double sin. They break God's law and transgress his covenant. As there is no way by which a person can escape from these covenant engagements, they must therefore be perpetual.
and infants are members of the visible church which God has organized. In
the covenant entered into when this church was organized, there were two
parties. God was one party; and the other was composed of adults and infants.
Men do not often, attempt to exclude God from being a party in this covenant.
But they sometimes break in upon the other party. It is however, from scripture,
manifest, (1.) That adults constituted one portion of this party in the
covenant at its formation. This is plainly taught by the express
language of "Divine Revelation." "Abram" and " all the
men of his house "and " Ishmael," are expressly mentioned as
being a portion of one of the parties in this covenant. These therefore, were
all "circumcised." In New Testament times adults are represented as
being members of the visible church which had been organized. The "Lord
added to the church—such as should be saved." Of these, "men and
women" are expressly mentioned." (2.) Infants are also definitely
mentioned as forming the other portion of this party in the covenant. This
appears (1.) from the express language of scripture. "He that is eight days
old shall be circumcised." He that is born in thy house— must—be
circumcised." The "uncircumcised man-child— shall be cut off from
his people." Here infants at eight days old, are expressly recognized as
being in this covenant. They are acknowledged as members of this church. To
them, by the positive command of God, the seal of this covenant was to be
applied. (2.) Infants as members of this church were to be and were actually
circumcised. Isaac, John the Baptist and our Saviour are all mentioned as being
circumcised in obedience to the engagements entered into in this covenant.
Infants therefore formed a portion of one of the parties in the covenant into
which God entered with Abraham and his seed when he first organized the visible
church. Infants yet form a part of the members of this one only visible
church which God organized. This appears (1.) From the fact that God who
constituted them members of his church at its formation, has not excluded them
from it or from its seal. He expressly mentioned them as a portion of one
party in the covenant. He commanded its seal to be applied to them. That party
in the covenant made up of
human beings, was not composed of adults alone, nor of infants alone. Both these
classes of persons united, formed this party in that covenant, and were
therefore together members of God's church. If Abram had refused infants a
standing in the covenant, if he had declined to apply its seal to them; he would
have refused the covenant of his God, as truly as if he had refused to apply its
seal to adults. God made infants a portion of one party in this covenant, a
portion of "his people," of his flock, of the members of his church
when it was first organized. He and he alone had a right to receive them as
members into his church, and he alone has a right to exclude them from
membership. To receive or to exclude them is alike God's prerogative, not man's.
God in his wisdom received infants into his church, into covenant relation with
himself, and required its seal to be applied to them. He and he alone has a
right to exclude them. And since he has not excluded them; they still retain to
him the same relation which they did when this covenant relation was formed.
They have the same standing in the visible church which God gave them when it
was organized. He has not excluded them from it; men have no right to do so.
They are therefore yet a portion of its members. (2.) Infants
are mentioned as members of his visible church. They are often spoken of
as church members in the New Testament as well as in the Old. Our Saviour says
of "infants," of " young children," of "little
children," whom "he took—up in his arms;"—" of such is
the kingdom of heaven,"—"of God." That the expression
"kingdom of God" or "of heaven," denotes the visible church
and especially the visible church in New Testament times, is often and very
plainly taught in the word of God. (a). When our Saviour says of any class of
persons; "of such is the
9. God provided for the continuation and increase of the members of his church. This he did in a two-fold way. (1.) The children of those in covenant were to be its members from their earliest infancy. This truth is expressly taught in the word of God. Abram's "seed after" him are commanded to keep God's covenant. They were, in infancy, to receive its seal, because they were in covenant with God. "Children—that suck the breasts," are mentioned as a part of the "congregation" of the Lord, more than a thousand years after this covenant engagement was first made. In New Testament times they are very frequently mentioned as composing a part, if not a principal part of God's visible kingdom on earth.
As instances of parents and their children, families or households, being received into the church, " Lydia" and " her household," the jailer and his "house," &c., may be mentioned. Here are heads of families and their households admitted together into the church of God in New Testament times. Indeed, there is not, on record, a single instance, either in Old or New Testament times, of a parent being admitted into the church from the world, and his children excluded from or suffered to remain out of the covenant. From what has been here stated, it is clear, that parents who were before strangers to the covenant, might, with their children, be received into the church. But there is not the least intimation given, in the whole word of God, which parents may be received into covenant, and their children excluded or suffered to remain among the professed enemies of God. Those parents therefore who will not bring their children with them into covenant relation with God, have no scriptural right to enter themselves into that relation.
The church is
God's visible kingdom on earth. In all kingdoms, citizenship by birth is at
least as valid as that by naturalization. To exclude infants, born under any
government from the right of citizenship, or the protection of the laws, so far
as they could enjoy the one or needed the other, would be perfect folly and
unmitigated cruelty. To say that all natural born citizens must be put on a par
with foreigners, and like them be naturalized before they can enjoy the
privilege of citizens, would be very unwise in any government. But the God of
perfect wisdom has adopted in the church which is his visible kingdom, no such
law as would brand with folly any of the potentates of the earth. He has not
said to the children of his visible subjects; ye are "aliens from the
10. This church has a seal by which the promise of the covenant is confirmed. The seal of the covenant, in Old Testament times, was circumcision. This is called " the token of the covenant;"—"the sign of circumcision;" and "a seal of the righteousness of—faith." That circumcision was a token or seal of the covenant, and that spiritual as well as temporal blessings, were promised in it, are facts too plainly taught by the language of inspiration to be denied without leaning far towards infidelity. That baptism is the seal of the covenant in New Testament times, has already been shown. There is now a visible church. This is a fact known and admitted by all professing Christians. A church supposes a covenant, and a covenant supposes a seal. Those persons who were added to the church were baptized. They first entered or were received into this visible covenant with God and then its seal was applied to them. That circumcision, as a seal of the covenant, was discontinued and became "nothing," and that baptism is required as an ordinance in the New Testament church, are facts abundantly proved from the word of God. It is also manifest that none were without baptism admitted to church fellowship after the death of Christ. Baptism is therefore the seal of the covenant, which must be applied to all church members in New Testament times.
Commemorative ordinances belong to the visible church. The
Passover was the commemorative ordinance in Old Testament times. It commemorates
the deliverance of
12. God's organization of a visible church is the very best of which man can form a conception. Believing parents and their children composed its members at first. They do so still. This organization throws the restraints of God's covenant as well as those of his law around children who are baptized. The parents too were and are thus bound in covenant as well as by the law and natural affection to " train up" their children " in the way " they " should go." If thus trained up, we have the Divine promise, that when they are old, .they " will not depart from " that way. This organization secures more true scriptural piety, more scriptural knowledge, more morality, more conformity to the word of God in every respect, than any other organization ever yet attempted by man.
13. All attempts to organize a visible church composed only of true believers, are absurd. No such a visible church has ever existed. The church in Old Testament times, had in it unconverted members. In apostolic times, the church had its "Ananias" and "Sapphira;" its "Simon;" its "Hymeneus and Philetus," and others who had no true interest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, to organize a church composed only of true believers, would require a constant miracle by which men might be taught supernaturally, who were and who were not truly converted.
14. Discipline must be exercised in the visible church or it will soon become corrupt. In Old Testament times, those who violated any part of the ceremonial law, or neglected circumcision or the Passover, were to be "cut off from " God's "people." Those who violated the moral law were to be put to death, or punished in some other way which supposed excommunication from visible covenant relation with God and his people. "Sinners " or immoral persons were not to be allowed a standing " in the congregation of the righteous.'' Neglect of discipline in the Old Testament church opened the door for all manner of wickedness. This wickedness of the Jews became so great in the days of Christ's ministry on earth, that they eventually, crucified him. In New Testament times, none from the world are to be admitted into the visible church till they give good evidence that they are true Christians. To do this they must receive with love what God teaches in his word and practice what he commands in the scriptures. No immoral persons nor such as reject any part of God's truth are allowed by the king of Zion to enter or remain in his visible church. All such should be suspended from scaling ordinances. By the neglect of discipline among professing Christians, large portions of the once Christian church, have become antichristian. Church discipline is therefore indispensable.
15. The New Testament church is five-fold. It is true, formal, false, nominal or antichristian. (1.) The true Christian church believes and practices all that God in his word requires of persons during the dispensation under which they live. These church members do not receive or practice for religion either more or less than what he commands. They learn from God's word what he teaches. With this they are satisfied. In the scriptures they find just what pleases them; nor do they find any thing in those holy writings which they desire to explain away or reject. The word of God as it is, exactly suits them in every particular. To conform to this, they are satisfied, is their wisdom as well as their duty. That they comply so imperfectly with its requirements, is to them, a cause of grief; but this does not lead them to wish to make alterations in God's word. (2.) A formal church is one which, in mere profession and external actions, complies with what God teaches in his word. But in general the members of a formal church have no true love for God's truth or for his requirements, (3.) A false church adopts either more or less than God requires in his word. Many, if not all, its members choose, in some things which they call religion, to follow the directions of men rather than to receive and practice just what God requires. (4.) A nominal church is one that takes the Christian name without even professing to take the word of God as their only rule of duty in all their religious principles and practices. (5.) An antichristian church is one which rejects God's truth in some of its parts. In it the whole gospel cannot be preached. Ministers and Christians who will believe and practice as religion, neither more nor less than what God teaches in his word, will not be allowed to remain in it; or its members and rulers will continually disturb their peace while they live in exact accordance with God's holy truth. This is, in principle, a persecuting church. Belonging to each of these five parts, there are or may be different denominations. It is the duty of every person to be or become a member of some branch of the true church.16. Those who turn aside in religious matters from the word of God are guilty of the sin of division. Every person who becomes connected with the church thereby pledges himself to serve God according to his word. If he does either more or less as a part of his religious duties than God requires in the scriptures, he becomes thereby a covenant- breaker.
(a) Those who join any church which professes to be Christian, solemnly declare before God and the world, by the act of uniting with such church, that the religious principles and practices of the body with which they thus unite, express their views of scriptural truth. While they continue united with any professedly Christian church, they habitually make the same declaration If therefore, the religious doctrines and practices of the church to which any person belongs do not express his views of scriptural truth, he is living In the sin of habitual falsehood.
17. The visible church has a ministry. In Old Testament times, its ministry was composed of heads of families, prophets, priests and Levites. These discharged their respective duties by obeying the commandments of God. In executing the duties of their stations, they offered gifts and sacrifices according to his appointment. They also taught the people. In New Testament times, the visible church has a ministry composed of persons each of whom (if he is a true servant of Christ,) sustains the office of an ambassador of the Prince of Peace.
18. Those who have no interest in the covenant made with Abram and his seed, are not members of the visible church. God has organized no other church, but that which he formed in the days of Abram. He has formed no other visible covenant relation with his professed people, but that which was entered into with Abram and with his literal and spiritual seed. This covenant was confirmed in Christ. It was to be everlasting. That church has not been disorganized. That covenant has not been disannulled. Though its seal has been changed, yet the covenant remains in full force. By rejecting this covenant, men refuse to receive an interest in the only visible church which God has ever organized on earth. By turning away from this", they slight the covenanted mercies of God. As therefore there is not now and never has been, any other visible church organized on earth, but that which God formed in the days of Abram; so those who are not members of some branch of that church cannot be members of any. They may form human associations; but these are not Divinely organized churches. Men ought to make a solemn pause before they, for any consideration whatever, reject or turn aside from the covenant of God, and set at naught his grace in organizing a visible church among our guilty race.
19. The privileges of the visible church are extended in New Testament times. This may be observed in several particulars. (1.) Since the death of Christ, the seal of the covenant has been actually extended to females. Before this it was virtually theirs, in consequence of their relation to the males. (2.) Infants of parents, only one of whom is in covenant, are entitled now to its seal. (3.) Its blessings are offered to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. (4.) All its members are freed from the bondage of the ceremonial law. (5.) Its ministers may now be taken from any family. (6.) It has a greater amount of written revelation. In these and other respects the privileges of the visible church are extended. But in no instance is any privilege, in New Testament times, taken away from the church. Not the least evidence is found in the whole word of God, to show that the privileges of the New Testament church are to be less in any respect than those of the Old. It cannot be supposed then that infants who, when the covenant was first made and during its whole Old Testament dispensation, constituted more than one half of one of the parties in it, should, in New Testament times, be excluded from it and from the use of its seal. God has not told us, in any form of words, that he has excluded infants from their standing in the covenant. He has not taken this privilege from them or from their parents. God received the infant with the parent into covenant relation with himself. In many respects he has extended the privileges of the church in New Testament times. He has not diminished these, nor taken them from infants. That he has done either, is unsupported by any evidence, and is not therefore to be believed by intelligent men.
20. In the organization of the visible church, baptism with water is included as the seal of the covenant in New Testament times. This will appear by presenting the principal parts of this subject before the mind at once. (1.) The visible church was organized in the days of Abram. (2.) Its members were adults and infants. (3.) Circumcision, when the covenant was first made, was its seal. (4.) It was to be applied to infants whose parents were in covenant. (5.) God has not excluded infants from the church or from a right to the seal of the covenant. (6.) In New Testament times, baptism is the seal of this covenant. (7.) If one parent is in covenant, so are the children. (8.) Adopted children are in covenant and therefore have a right to its seal. It appears therefore that the very organization of the visible church included the application of water to infants in the ordinance of Christian baptism; because the seal of the covenant, whatever it is, belongs to infants. That seal is now baptism; therefore they are to receive that ordinance; for it is now the seal of the covenant.
MAY NOT, AND WHAT MAY BE BAPTIZED
NOT THINGS, BUT PERSONS ARE TO BE BAPTIZED
1. An inanimate substance cannot receive the ordinance of Christian baptism. This appears, (1.) From the fact that when the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned men to administer Christian baptism, he did not authorize them to baptize inanimate matter. In this commission, he directs men to teach "all nations, baptizing them;" but in it he gives no authority for baptizing mere material substances. Men therefore have no right to do so. (2.) As there is no authority in the word of God for baptizing bells, buildings, &c., so no person has a right to apply water to them in the name of the Trinity. As they are totally incapable of receiving what is signified in the ordinance, so to attempt to baptize them, is only a solemn farce over which Christianity weeps, and from which common sense turns away with disgust.
2. Animals cannot receive the Christian ordinance of baptism. No authority is given to men by our Saviour to administer the ordinance of baptism to animals any more than to inanimate matter.
3. Human beings and they only can receive Christian baptism. To sustain this position many arguments may be presented. (1.) To them, and only to them, the Lord Jesus Christ requires the ordinance to be administered. He directs his ministering servants to "teach all nations, baptizing them." (2.) In obedience to this command, his inspired servants baptized "both men and women." These and many other portions of God's word, teach that human beings alone were to be, and were baptized by Divine authority. They alone are capable of receiving what is signified in Christian baptism. They only can have the blood of Christ applied to them by the Holy Spirit in his converting and sanctifying influences. To them only can the sign of this work of grace be therefore applied with propriety. Human beings therefore and no others, can receive Christian baptism which signifies the work of the Spirit on the soul. To receive what is signified in this ordinance is not inconsistent with their nature. They may therefore be baptized. To receive what Christian baptism signifies is totally inconsistent with the nature of all other creatures. These others therefore cannot receive Christian baptism. It follows then that human beings, and they only, can receive the ordinance of Christian baptism.
IS NOT AND WHAT IS, IN THE SUBJECT, ESSENTIAL TO BAPTISM
1. If true faith was essential to Christian baptism, man could not administer that ordinance. To "search the heart" is a Divine prerogative. God alone can see into the soul of man. He can determine whether true faith exists there or not. A minister of Christ, however faithful, intelligent and pious, cannot "search the heart." He may be deceived as to the real piety, the true faith, of any person who may desire to receive any ordinance of the Christian church. If true faith was indispensable to the validity of baptism; the minister could not, in any case, certainly tell, whether he was engaged in administering a solemn Christian ordinance, or performing an act of mere mockery.
2. No class of men really hold that true faith in the subject is essential to valid baptism. Those who adopt the anti-Christian fancy that baptism is regeneration, and therefore maintain that faith is communicated in the very act of administering this ordinance, do not, of course, say that the person baptized had this faith before its administration commenced. Those who assert that mankind are born holy, cannot suppose that, if any of them, are baptized before they sin, they can have faith conferred upon them either at or before their baptism; because true Christian faith, as one of its exercises, leads those who possess it to trust in Christ to save their souls from the guilt of sin. Those who are perfectly holy, or are totally free from sin before they receive baptism, cannot need this true Christian faith. Some persons however, by their professions, would lead the unwary to suppose that they hold to what they call believer's baptism. They thus intimate that true faith must invariably precede valid baptism, A person unacquainted with their practice would suppose, from their language, that they never admitted any baptism to be valid unless the subject of it was a true believer before he received the ordinance.
4. Certain things in the subject are essential to the very existence of Christian baptism. These may be known by him who administers the ordinance. If they could not, he could never be certain that the person to whom he applied water, was really baptized. These are few and very plain. (1.) The subject of Christian baptism must be a human being. None but human beings can be baptized. Men have no authority to administer this ordinance to any but to human beings. (2.) The subject of Christian baptism must be a sinful creature. None but sinful creatures can be regenerated, converted; or have the blood of Christ applied to their souls. No others therefore can receive what is signified in Christian baptism. Hence to any others, the ordinance would be a mere unmeaning ceremony. (3.) In his nature, the subject of baptism must be capable, at the time, or before, or after it is administered, of receiving what is signified in the ordinance.
ARE PROPER SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM
believers are proper subjects of baptism.
Though, true faith is not essential to the existence of
Christian baptism(a), yet every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has a
right to be baptized. This appears from many plain declarations of scripture.
"The people of
In the declaration; “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," we are taught that the true believer shall be saved. The baptism here mentioned is represented as existing at the same time with true faith. The believer is baptized; not he shall or will be baptized. This baptism is represented as being administered either at the moment the person believes or before. As this, together with faith, appears to be inseparably connected with salvation, so it is more than probable that spiritual baptism or regeneration is here intended. This kind of baptism always takes place the instant true faith is produced in the soul. Every true believer is therefore baptized with this spiritual baptism. But if baptism with water is intended; then, as it is represented as actually existing the moment the person believes; so it must have been administered before true faith was produced in the soul; because baptism with water cannot be administered in an indivisible point of time. But if the declaration was, (as it is frequently though very incorrectly represented,) believe and be baptized; it would simply prove that true believers ought to be baptized. This is a truth often taught in other passages of scripture, and which no believer in baptism with water ever pretends to deny. All such maintain that true believers ought to be baptized, if the ordinance had not, before they believed, been administered to them.
Moreover, if the argument which Immersers attempt to fabricate from this passage, be examined; it will exclude from salvation, every infant which it would exclude from baptism. The exclusives say, faith must precede baptism; infants cannot believe; therefore infants cannot be baptized. By the same kind of logic, infants must be excluded from salvation. They might say with equal or even with greater propriety; faith must precede salvation; infants cannot believe; therefore infants cannot be saved. But God does not say that faith must precede baptism; and the spirit of God, by his new-creating power, can produce the principle or grace of faith in the soul of an infant, as easily as he produced it in that of Saul of Tarsus. That sophistry must be worse than useless which can, with equal ease, exclude infants from baptism and from eternal felicity.
2. Those who have, received, spiritual baptism or have been truly regenerated, are to be baptized with water. (1.) These are always true believers. .To believe and to be spiritually baptized or regenerated, are only different expressions to denote different parts of the same change. When therefore this change is described by one word which indicates that the person is entitled to water baptism; his right to it is as clearly proved as when for this purpose, a different word is used. The believer may be baptized. Those who are spiritually baptized, are believers; therefore these, being true believers, are to be baptized with water. (2.) Peter asks, "can any man forbid water that" Cornelius and his friends, "should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we ?"—" and he commanded them to be baptized." The very reason given to show that these persons ought to be baptized with water, is; they had been baptized with the Holy Ghost, or had been regenerated. It is certain therefore that those who have been spiritually baptized ought to receive the ordinance of Christian baptism.
3. Those who truly repent are to be baptized. Faith and repentance do not exist separately in the same person. He who is truly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, at the very same instant receives into his soul the principles of true faith and true repentance. These principles are active. They manifest themselves in the life of those who receive them. The true penitent therefore, because he is a true believer, may and ought to be baptized. That those who exercise evangelical repentance ought to be baptized, is also taught in the command; "repent and be baptized every one of you." This language clearly intimates that every one who truly repents, is in duty bound, if he had not before been baptized, to receive the ordinance of Christian baptism.
4. Professed believers are proper subjects of baptism. A personal profession of faith in Christ, is not in the scriptures represented as essential to the existence of the ordinance of Christian baptism. To make such a profession, while the heart is not right with God, is an act of egregious wickedness. But notwithstanding all this, those who “profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him," have a right to be baptized. Those who, in profession, believe in Christ, professedly believe what he teaches in his word; and they actually, in external matters, obey all his holy requirements. Those who thus profess their faith in Christ and prove the sincerity of their profession by their actions, are to be baptized.
are proper subjects of baptism.
They were, by our Saviour, required to be baptized. The
ordinance was actually administered to them by inspired men. (1.) They were
commanded to be baptized. When our Saviour directs his ministering servants to
"teach all nations, baptizing them;" he commands females to be
baptized, because females constitute an essential part of every nation. (2.)
Females were baptized by inspired men. It is expressly stated that
"women" were baptized. "
Testament times, females were not actually, but they were virtually,
circumcised. They had this virtual circumcision in consequence of their relation
to the males. That they were virtually circumcised appears from the fact that
they eat the Passover. No "uncircumcised person" was permitted to
do this. But "the whole assembly,"— "all the congregation
to prove that adults are to be baptized, does not militate against infant
bap/ism. It is positively proved from the word of God, that adult
persons, both male and female, are proper subjects of baptism.
True believers, professed believers, the spiritually baptized, and those
who repent, are to be baptized with water. But
it by no means follows, that because adults may be baptized, therefore infants
may not receive that ordinance. The fact
that adults were to be circumcised, did not prove that infants were to be
excluded from that “seal of the righteousness of—faith." To prove that
"men and women" were baptized, is to say nothing whatever against
Such proof might favor, but cannot possibly
oppose, the baptism
of children. It might, with a good degree of propriety, be said,
that since the child of a circumcised Israelite must be circumcised, therefore
the child of a baptized Christian or spiritual Israelite, must, or at least may,
be baptized. But if a parent may be baptized, it does not, cannot follow as a
legitimate consequence, that his child must remain unbaptized till he arrives at
mature age. The
fact then that adults are to be baptized, does not prove or intimate that
infants may not receive the same ordinance.
ARE PROPER SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM
1. They are human beings. A mere look at an infant will prove this position to any person of reflection. Everyone can perceive at a glance that infants do not belong to the inanimate, to the brute, or to the angelic creation. No person who believes the evidence of his senses can refuse to admit that they are a part of the human race. They are therefore possessed of one thing which, in the subject, is essential to the ordinance of Christian baptism.
are sinful creatures. None but sinful creatures can possibly receive
That infants are sinful is clear both from the word of God and from the
experience of mankind. (1.) The scriptures teach that infants are sinful. It
is declared that believers “were by nature the children of wrath even as
others." As God's wrath is against nothing but what is sinful;
so those who are by nature children of wrath, must be by nature sinful.
Believers and others are by nature children of wrath; they must therefore be
sinful by nature. Infants have the same human nature which adults have; theirs
must therefore be a sinful nature. The inspired Psalmist positively declares;
"behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive
me." David " was shapen in iniquity" and "conceived in
sin." This language shows that he was a sinner in some sense as soon as he
was a human being. The Psalmist also affirms; “the wicked—go astray as soon
as they are born, speaking lies." In this passage, the very first actions
of men and their first articulate, and perhaps inarticulate sounds, are
mentioned as sinful.
3. Infants are capable of receiving what is signified by Christian baptism. It denotes the work of the Spirit on the soul. The Holy Spirit is certainly as capable of producing a new nature, a new heart, true faith, love to God, and every other essential Christian principle, in an infant, as in Saul of Tarsus, while "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of" Christ. By the Almighty power of God's Spirit therefore, an infant can be regenerated and have the blood of Christ applied to its soul. Moreover, infants have been truly converted or born "of the Spirit." David, after his child's death, said; "I shall go to him." This expression intimates that the child was in a state and place of happiness; and that it had therefore been born " of the Spirit," and had thus been prepared to "enter into the kingdom of God" above. Jeremiah was "sanctified" from his earliest infancy; and John the Baptist was "filled with the Holy Ghost" from his birth. Samuel was but a young "child" when he "ministered before the Lord." Timothy "from a child" knew "the holy scriptures." These instances clearly show that infants and very young children have enjoyed the renewing grace of God's Spirit. They teach that they have experienced what is signified in Christian, baptism.
4. Infants are capable of being in covenant with God. That they can sustain this covenant relation with God, is expressly and frequently taught in the scriptures. God made "a covenant with" Noah and his "seed after" him. Abraham’s infant "seed," as well as himself, were required to enter into "covenant" with God. This they did according to the Divine direction. Again the Israelites positively affirm that the "Lord—made a covenant with" them" in Horeb." This "covenant" they declare was riot "made with" their "fathers" but with them in person. The covenant, which was made on a mountain which, as a whole, was called Horeb, while one part or peak of it received the name of Sinai, was entered into forty years before this language was used. When therefore this covenant was made with them, most of them must have been infants and young children. That infants were received, by the special command of God, into covenant relation with himself, is a fact frequently stated in his word. But it is not necessary to mention any more instances. Those already mentioned are sufficient to convince those who believe the scriptures to be a revelation from God, that infants are capable of being in covenant with him. But if they can be a party or a portion of a party in a covenant, then they can receive its seal.
It appears therefore that infants are human beings(a), are sinful creatures(b), maybe "born again"—"of the Spirit"(c), and are capable of being in covenant with God. To them therefore, in common with adults, belongs whatever is essential to a subject of baptism.
God himself has determined this point. Into covenant with himself he received infants who, from their age, were incapable of giving or withholding their personal consent. He made them a portion of one party in this covenant. The other was composed of adults. It is manifest therefore that, from the fact that infants have been received into covenant with God, personal consent is not in all cases necessary to enjoy an interest in that covenant into which he has entered with his visible church.
5. Infants are guilty of nothing which can exclude them from the covenant or render their baptism invalid. No infant is or can be guilty of any open immorality. No one of them can therefore be excluded by proper ecclesiastical discipline from the covenant.
6. God does not forbid the baptism of infants. In no passage of scripture is it said that infants may not, or shall not be baptized. Nor does the word of God contain the least intimation of any such prohibition ever being given. Infants who are themselves proper subjects of baptism, are not therefore rendered unfit to receive that holy ordinance by any positive enactment. Infants then are, and will always remain, proper subjects of baptism; for God will not change their nature, nor his word in relation to them. If it had been his intention to have excluded them, in New Testament times, from the seal of the covenant, he would have expressed his intention in some form of words. But as he has not, in any portion of the scriptures stated or even intimated in any mode of expression, that infants were to be or have been excluded from the seal of the covenant entered into with his visible people, it is certain that he did not intend to exclude them from its use. God had commanded the seal to be applied to them. To say nothing further on the subject was to leave the existing command in full force. Since therefore God has commanded the seal of the covenant to be applied to infants; and since, in New Testament times this seal is baptism; the fact that he has not forbidden them to receive baptism, the New Testament seal of the covenant, is undeniable evidence that the former command requiring them to receive this seal, remains unrepealed—is yet in full force. To secure to infants the New Testament seal of the covenant, it was not necessary to repeat the former command. To leave it unrepealed, or not to forbid them to be baptized is all that was really necessary in their case. But God has not only left the former command in full force; but he has repeated it in almost every conceivable mode of expression.
AUTHORITY IN FAVOR OF INFANT BAPTISM
MEMBERS ARE OR OUGHT TO BE BAPTIZED
1. Members of the visible church in New Testament times are, or ought to be baptized. This position is admitted by all who believe that baptism with water is an ordinance to be observed in the Christian church. Each church member is in visible covenant with God. The fact that he is a church member proves this. But the person who is in covenant, or who, in other words, is a church member, has a right to the seal of the covenant. This, in New Testament times, is baptism. Every church member therefore who is not baptized, is entitled to this ordinance.
Christ teaches that infants are to be baptized. He
expressly says of certain persons; " of such is the kingdom of
heaven;"—"such is the
Spirit of God by Paul teaches expressly that infants are to be baptized.
This apostle in addressing the Galatians, calls them "brethren"
and mentions those to whom he wrote as "churches." But some of the
members of these "churches," some of these "brethren," he
expressly calls "little children." A part of these church members then
were "little children." The original word here translated "little
children," is very pointed in its signification. It is derived from another
Greek word which denotes a child and sometimes one unborn. It is a diminutive,
and therefore denotes very "little children." Such language does the
holy Spirit use in addressing some of the members of the "churches" in
were baptized in the
6. Ancient Prophets predicted that infants, in New Testament times, are to be baptized. They clearly point out the fact that infants are to be members of the Christian church. On this subject, they use such language as this; " a little child shall lead" the lion and the leopard ;—"the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den;"—the Messiah " shall gather the lambs with his arm and carry them in his bosom;"—" the Gentiles—shall bring thy sons in their arms and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders;"— " a little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation;"—" my people—mine elect—are the seed of the blessed of the Lord and their offspring with them;"— " I will gather all nations—and they shall—see my glory;"—"the children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee;"—" their children —shall be as aforetime." The prophets in predicting the spiritual prosperity of the church in New Testament times, use many expressions similar to those here quoted. This prophetic language clearly teaches that "little children,"— "sucking" children, "weaned" children, such "lambs" and "sons" as were to be carried in the "arms," the "offspring" of his people, their "seed," the "nations" which always and necessarily include infants, should have a standing in the Christian church. But, as all church members in New Testament times have been or have a right to be baptized; so when the church membership of infants is predicted, their baptism is necessarily included. Whenever therefore infants as church members in New Testament times, are baptized; these and similar predictions are receiving their fulfillment.
passage in the New Testament, which mentions children as living under the
Christian dispensation, teaches that infants are to be baptized. These
passages all inculcate infant church membership, and therefore teach infant baptism;
for all church members are baptized or ought to be. Certain words are, in the
New Testament, used to denote church members. To apply one of these words or
more to an individual, is to call him a member of the visible church in New
Testament times. When therefore "little children" or infants are
addressed or mentioned as part of those to whom the epistles were written, they
are addressed as church members; for what had the apostles "to do to
judge" those who were "without" the pale of the church? An
inspired man would not address an epistle to a class of persons as church
members when some of them were not such. When therefore an epistle addressed to
a church by an apostle, mentions a particular class of persons as a part of
those to whom it was written, that class must have been church members ; for all
to whom each of the epistles in the New Testament, was addressed, were such.
When therefore children or "little children" are addressed in any one
epistle or more; they are thus recognized as members of the visible church. But
as members of the visible church in New Testament times, they were baptized or
had a right to the ordinance of baptism.
Some word which indicates church membership,
is invariably used of “little
children" or "infants" whenever they are mentioned as living in
New Testament times. A few instances of infant church membership, may here be
noticed. (1.) Church
members are called saints or holy ones. Infants are called "holy,"
therefore infants are church members; because the word holy which
indicates church membership, is applied to them. It
is said to parents, only one of whom is a believer; " your-
children—are—holy." No true Christian can ever imagine that the word
“holy" in this passage of God's word, denotes "converted."
This would be to give the term a very unusual signification. Besides, no person
who has any experimental knowledge of the work of the spirit on his own soul,
can even for a moment suppose, that because one of the parents of a child is a
believer, therefore the child is born of the spirit or is truly converted. But
it may with much propriety be said that the children of such parents are
federally “holy," or in other words, that they are in covenant with God.
The word “holy" is frequently used in the scriptures to express this
covenant relation. The Jews, because they were in covenant, are called a
"holy people;" professing Christians, because they are in
covenant, are called a "holy nation" and also "saints" or
holy ones. Whoever
therefore is in visible covenant with God, is holy by profession and by covenant
engagement. When infants therefore are called holy, their church membership is
definitely recognized. (2.) Church members are called faithful, so
also are children; therefore children are church members. Timotheus—was
"faithful; "Paul" obtained mercy—to be faithful;" church
SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OF INFANT BAPTISM
The Abrahamic covenant
includes infant baptism.
This covenant was made about 1900 years before the birth of
Christ, and more than 400 years before the law was given to Moses on
Those who belong to Christ are "Abraham's seed according to the promise." These and similar passages show most conclusively that the promise of the Abrahamic covenant extends to Christians in New Testament times. Besides, Christians are said to be "the children of promise" as Isaac was; and "Jesus Christ"— confirmed "the promises made unto the fathers."! Here then the promise of this covenant made with Abram, is, in a great variety of expressions, mentioned as belonging to New Testament Christians. Abram is called the father of all believers, because he was their progenitor in this covenant. On the day of Pentecost, the promise of this covenant was urged upon the Jews as a reason why they should “repent and be baptized." To them the Spirit of God, by Peter, said; “the promise is unto you and to your children." They are also called "the children of the covenant— made with—Abraham."! That the promise proposed to them and to their children, was that of the Abrahamic covenant, is manifest from the fact that the language was addressed to believing parents and to their children, the very persons who were interested in the promise of that covenant. It was predicted by the prophet that, in the beginning of the New Testament dispensation of the church, persons would be empowered to work miracles, speak with tongues and prophecy. This prediction was fulfilled when the apostles were supernaturally qualified to speak sixteen or seventeen different languages or dialects, and were “filled with the Holy Ghost." It is not therefore to be fulfilled in every true believer. As all true believers and their children do not possess these miraculous powers, it is certain that this prophecy is not the promise which God, by his servant, proposes to them and their children. But, as all who are in Christ are "Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise;" so this promise must belong to them. In New Testament times, therefore, the promise of the Abrahamic covenant belongs to believers and to their children. As the seal confirms the promise of the covenant, so it must belong, in some form, to all to whom the promise is made. This is made to believers and their children; the seal of the covenant must therefore be applied to both these classes of persons. All who are "Christ's," whether infants or adults, are " heirs according to the promise" of the Abrahamic covenant. While therefore Christ has a people on earth, so long will this promise be theirs. (9.) The seal of the covenant may be changed. If it is changed, the standing of the parties in the covenant, their privileges, or its promise, cannot thereby be affected. Different materials may be used as a seal. Wax, or a wafer, or a mere mark may be employed to seal an instrument which requires to be thus confirmed. One seal may be removed and another used to supply its place. When this is done, the last as truly confirms the promise as the first. By changing the seal, the rights of the parties in the covenant, are not destroyed. By this act, their covenant privileges and obligations are neither altered nor diminished. It does not exclude either party from the covenant. Much less can this act divide one of the parties and exclude one portion of it from covenant privileges, while the other portion is retained and allowed to enjoy them all. Adults and infants together, constitute one party in this covenant. When infants are excluded, then one portion of this party is deprived of its privileges; then the covenant of God is rejected. (10.) Circumcision is not now, and never was, since the resurrection of Christ, the seal of this covenant. This was its seal in Old, not in New Testament times. Soon after the resurrection of Christ "certain men—taught the brethren" that they ought to be circumcised." But men inspired by the holy Spirit "gave no such commandment." Those heathen converts who were baptized brethren, were not to be circumcised. To the Jews circumcision was entirely unavailing—was "nothing" in New Testament times. Once it was a "seal of the righteousness of—faith," though after Christ's resurrection it was "nothing." From and after that time, the Jew as well as the Gentile must view circumcision as no longer the seal of the covenant which God had entered into with his professing people. (11.) Baptism is now and always has been, since the resurrection of Christ, the seal of this covenant. It is the only seal of membership in New Testament times. Persons partake of the Holy Supper because they are members of the church, not to bring them into its pale. A visible church is composed of persons who are visibly in covenant with God. Where any branch of this church exists, there are persons, by profession, in covenant with God. A covenant is a solemn agreement, the promise of which is confirmed by a seal. A church therefore supposes a covenant, and a covenant supposes a seal. In New Testament times, there is a church whose members are in visible covenant with God. This covenant must have a seal by which each person in it is publicly recognized as being by profession on the Lord's side. This seal, in some form, must be as permanent as the covenant is; because it, as a part of the agreement, confirms the promise. It has been or ought to be, applied to every person in the covenant. Baptism is that which every church member in New Testament times, has received or to which he is entitled. It is that which remains constantly with him and by which he is publicly recognized as being in fellowship with the church. When either Jews or Gentiles wished to enter the visible church in New Testament times, they were directed to be "baptized,"—or desired to be " baptized,"—or were " baptized." It is manifest therefore that baptism is the seal of membership during the New Testament dispensation of the covenant. Besides, as circumcision is now "nothing ;" baptism must now be the seal of the covenant or it has none; and if there is no seal, then there is no ratified covenant and therefore no church. But since there is a visible church, there must be a covenant whose promise is confirmed by a seal; and that, as we have no other seal of visible church membership in New Testament times, must be baptism with water. (12.) Baptism is New Testament circumcision. To the Collossians who were about to add the worship of angels and circumcision, to their religious service, the Spirit of God, by the apostle, says; "Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism." Moreover, Christians are said to be “the circumcision" who "worship God in the Spirit."
Christians are the circumcision in New Testament times; therefore baptism
must be New Testament circumcision. Besides, the
circumcision of Christ, or Christian circumcision and baptism
are used to denote the same spiritual blessings. But if spiritual baptism
is our only spiritual circumcision, then literal baptism
must be our only literal circumcision. Baptism
therefore is New Testament circumcision. Moreover, all who practice baptism
with water, admit by their actions that this ordinance occupies the place
of circumcision. These all use baptism,
not circumcision, as the ordinance by which persons are or ought to be
publicly recognized as members of the visible church. They therefore all
practically admit that baptism
has taken the place of circumcision as the initiatory rite in the New
Testament church. Moreover, it may be remarked here that Justin
Martyr who was a disciple of the apostles and wrote about the year 139, less
than 40 years after the death of John the Divine, states in relation to this
subject; "We Gentile Christians—have not received—circumcision
according to the flesh, but that—which is spiritual." "Moreover we
have received this circumcision in baptism".
In the year 163 he was beheaded for being a Christian. Epiphanius
was pastor of a church in the
This covenant then which, in the person of Abraham, God entered into with all believers and their seed, is now in full force. Those who have a standing in it, may look to God for covenant blessings, and plead covenant promises. He has not changed this covenant. He has not excluded infants from its advantages. He has not revoked that command which requires its seal to be applied to them. The visible church, both in Old and New Testament times, is essentially one. Infants and adults composed its members at its first organization. They do so still; for God has not excluded either of these classes of persons from his church. He has, in fact, expressly recognized them both as belonging to it in New Testament times as well as during the former dispensation. If nothing had been said on this subject, except what relates to the Abrahamic covenant, no true believer in Divide revelation, could, after a careful investigation of this subject, exclude infants from its New Testament seal.
who are included in the New Covenant, ought to ~be baptized. This
is the covenant of grace. It is new in opposition to the “first" covenant
which is "old." The first covenant mentioned in the scriptures is that
made with Adam as the head and representative of all his natural posterity. J
Another covenant was made with Noah and his “seed." Both these were made
before that was entered into with Abram and his "seed." The Abrahamic
covenant then was not the first or old covenant in opposition to the new. But
the first to which the new covenant is opposed, must be that of works made with
Adam. This is the first covenant the parts of which are mentioned in the word of
God. That the new covenant is that of grace is also manifest from its promise.
God says to those in this covenant; "I will put my laws into their mind and
write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me
a people;" and they "all shall know me from the least to the
greatest,—and their sins and their iniquities will
I remember no more." Parents and "their
children after them" are expressly included in this covenant. This promise
can belong only to those who are or shall be heirs “of the righteousness which
is by faith." Believers and their children are expressly mentioned as those
to whom the promise of this covenant belongs. If then infants may be and
often are included in this new covenant of grace, if they may be and sometimes
at least, are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, if they may receive what is
signified by baptism,
they ought to receive the sign; because none can consistently deny the ordinance
of water baptism,
who are born of the Spirit. Infants
who are included in the covenant of grace, ought therefore to be baptized.
who are prepared for heaven may be baptized. Of the salvation of
infants dying in infancy, two instances are mentioned in the word of God, of
these, one was the child of a believer, the other of an unbeliever. The
first mentioned is the infant child of David. Soon after its spirit had left
this world, he consoled himself by this reflection; “I shall go to him."
This was consolation in his affliction. But the thought of meeting his son in
the world of woe, instead of being consolation, would have been the most
exquisite misery. The inspired David then, the "man after" God's
"own heart," teaches that his departed infant son was in heaven. The
other is "Abijah the son of Jeroboam." In him, though a
"child" when he-died, was "found some good thing toward the Lord
the Baptist baptized infants. This fact is clearly taught in the
word of God. The scriptures declare that, “there went out unto" John,
5. Christ commands his ministering servants to baptize infants. He directs them to "teach all nations, baptizing them.” Infants form a component part of every nation. Adult persons do so also. Christ commands his servants to baptize "all nations." This command includes all the classes of persons of which every nation is composed. He does not name adults. He does not say baptize men and women. Nor yet does he name infants. But he uses a word which necessarily includes men, women and children, or persons of every age and sex. The word "nations" as certainly includes infants as it does adults. It would be as impossible to find a nation without an infant, as to find one without an adult. To baptize a nation therefore is to baptize both infants and adults. A command to baptize "nations," is a command to baptize both infants and adults; because both are necessarily and certainly included in every nation. Nor has one man any more right to exclude infants from the word “nations" than another has to exclude adults from it. In the command to baptize, Christ has used the word "nations" which always and necessarily includes infants. In order to obey this positive command of Christ, infants must be baptized. Those who refuse to do so, divide, and therefore nullify the ministerial commission. To refuse obedience to a part of a command, is as truly a rejection of the authority that gives it, as to reject the whole. Those who thus nullify the ministerial commission which Christ has given to his servants, have a solemn account to settle with the King of Zion.
This commission also requires
those to whom it is entrusted, to teach the nations "whatsoever"
Christ has commanded. In this commission the words "teach" and
"teaching" are both used. The word translated "teach,"
literally signifies a disciple, or to receive as a learner, each person
mentioned. If the word "teach" preceding baptize, proves that persons
must always be instructed before they are baptized; then because the word
baptizing is used before teaching, persons, by that same rule, must always be
baptized before they are taught. Moreover, if the preceding word always
indicates that what it expresses must precede what is expressed by the
subsequent word, then baptism,
or being born of water, must always precede regeneration or baptism
with the Spirit. Our Saviour expressly says; "except a man be born
of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
It may be remarked, however, that infants begin to learn as soon as they are born, or very shortly after. They therefore are always, or at least often, learners, or are discipled before they are baptized. Before this ordinance is administered to them, they are taught. They learn by imitating the example of others if not by precept. And as to true spiritual knowledge, none of them can have less of that than Simon the sorcerer who “was baptized". A person is discipled, becomes a. learner or student, the moment he begins to receive instruction, as truly as he does afterwards. - Children, properly speaking, are capable of being learners, and do learn from their earliest infancy. They may therefore be both taught and baptized.
It is also a fact worthy of notice, that those who have their children baptized, are always most anxious to have them taught the fundamental principles of Christianity. Facts abundantly prove this position. The Commission by which Christ empowered his ministering servants to baptize, requires them to baptize infants. This, their commission, cannot be divided. His ministers baptize those to whom their commission commands them to administer the ordinance. These are infants and adults. It does not intimate that the baptism of either class may be dispensed with or neglected.
Of the Lord Jesus Christ the prophet predicts; he shall “sprinkle many nations." Each of these nations includes infants. Christ, by his servants, is to sprinkle them. To fulfill this prophecy, infants and adults who together compose every nation, must be baptized by sprinkling.
were baptized by Divine authority. This proves most conclusively
that infants were baptized. The
Greek word for family, certainly includes infants. An infant
constitutes a part of the family or household as truly as an adult does. Its
relation, not an increase of age or stature, constitutes an infant a member of a
family. House or family, and household are words often used in the scriptures.
In English they frequently denote the same thing. They usually signify the
children as distinct from the head of a family. When the word household is
synonymous with family and the word house denotes persons, these terms in
English are nearly of the same import." Two leading points here demand
attention. (1.) It is a fact that
families were baptized by Divine authority. (2.) It is a fact
that the Greek word for house, denoting family, embraces infants. That these are
facts will now be proved. (I.) That
families were baptized, is a fact often expressly taught in scripture. A
number of these baptized families are mentioned. (1.)
(II.) It is a fact that the Greek word “house,” certainly includes infant children. This can be certainly ascertained. The word (oikos) for house, signifying a family, is frequently used in the scriptures. Its signification, from the connection in which it is found, is generally manifest. Its true import ought to be carefully sought, lest man's assertion should be mistaken for God's word. This may be noticed in a number of particulars. (1.) It primarily signifies children, little children, in- fonts. In the Septuagint(a) the Greek word (oikos) for house often denotes infants and them only.
Nothing is more evident than that the house mentioned in these portions of the word of God, denotes the family, not the place of its abode. A family can be built up or increased in one way and in no other. Infants must be born as members. When God built up David's family or house, infant children were added to it. Each one of his descendants must have been an infant the very moment it became a part of his house or family which God was thus building up. Each member of which a house or family is built, must begin its relation in infancy. By adding infants to David's family, his house was made or built up. By them only can a family be established so as to be, by actual members, perpetuated for ages to come. When therefore God establishes a house or family for generations to come, he always invariably does so by the addition of infants to it. To do this children must be born to the parents. Therefore, whenever God speaks of a house which he builds, makes, establishes or blesses; infant children are invariably and necessarily intended by the word house. It is perfectly certain therefore that the word house, in this connection, includes infants or very small children.
Uninspired writers frequently
use the Greek word (oikos) for house
in the scriptural sense here mentioned. In the Apocrypha, it is said; "the
blessing of the father establisheth the houses of children." In this
quotation houses must denote children. If then this word (oikos)
for house is employed when families are said to be baptized; no language can
more definitely express infants. When children and little children are mentioned
as baptized church members as they frequently are, the unsupported assertion is
often made; these are metaphorical children or infants. This declaration is
made without any authority from God's word for doing so. It is intended
merely to ward off the arrow of conviction from the heart and conscience of
those who make the assertion.
But when the word (oikos) for house
or family is used almost invariably to signify or include infants; there is no
way, when this is used for those who were baptized, to escape from the force of
truth, but by denying such an array of facts as infidelity itself would hesitate
anyone in the days of the apostles had said to a Jew, whether learned or
unlearned, a (oikos) house was
baptized; the idea of infant baptism
would have been instantly presented to his mind. If to a person
acquainted with the Greek language, it had been said;
whole force of the Greek language
is used by the Holy Spirit in favor of infant baptism.
Six words in Greek are used to denote infants or little
children. Of these, the one denoting, a new born child and that denoting a small
child, are roots. Of the
"infants" concerning whom our Saviour says; "of such is the
few of the leading evidences in favor of infant baptism,
may here be summed up. (1.) Jesus Christ commands his ministers to
baptize nations, Nations certainly
include infants; therefore he certainly commands his ministers to baptize
infants. (2.) The Jewish nation certainly included infants. The whole Jewish
nation were “baptized in the cloud and in the sea"(b) ; therefore infants
were certainly baptized. (3.)
8. God intimates that infants are to be baptized. Addressing church members, God says to them; "ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints." The parents are "fellow-citizens with the saints," by external profession. Externally they are on the Lord's side. They professedly belong to his kingdom. But it is a settled principle that infant children are citizens of the same government with the parents. If this be a correct principle, and no defect is perceived in it, then the infant children of God's professed people must be externally on his side. When the parent is a citizen in human governments, so are his infant children. When the parent is externally a fellow- citizen “with the saints," so must his infant children be; for God has not excluded them.
by implanting parental affection in the human breast, indicates that infants
ought to be baptized. The parent who really desires to be in
covenant with God, will desire to have his children sustain the same relation.
The cords of affection bind the parent's heart to the child. God has implanted
this affection in the parental bosom. It leads
the parent to desire for his child, the same blessings which he desires for
himself. The parent therefore who sincerely desires to be himself in covenant
with God, and really values that relation, will desire to bring his children
with him into this covenant relation. God therefore directed Abram to bring his
seed into the same covenant into which he himself was permitted and required to
enter. Nor has he ever yet excluded either believing parents or their infant
children from an interest in that covenant. When an adult receives the seal of
the covenant, God does not then break the cords of affection which bind him to
his child. He permits, he requires the child, as well as the parent, to be
dedicated to the Triune God in baptism.
10. The scriptures indirectly teach infant baptism. What they indirectly teach is inspiration. It is as truly God's revealed will as what is more directly taught. The only difference is this. In the one case the revelation is more manifest; in the other it is less so. To ascertain what God's will is, when he teaches indirectly in his word, requires more close attention than when he uses definite language. But the instruction is no less valuable than if it was more directly communicated. When God indirectly teaches infant baptism, it ought to be as firmly believed as if it was more directly taught. It is not the manner of teaching, but the instruction, and the authority of the Instructor, which secures the belief, the love, reverence and obedience of him who takes the word of God for his only rule in all religious duties. Infant baptism is indirectly taught in the scriptures. This a few particular cases will prove. (1.) The Lord's Supper is the New Testament Passover. “Christ our Passover" has been "sacrificed for us." A "bone of him shall not be broken" is equally true of the Old and New Testament paschal lamb. In the holy supper, the Lord Jesus Christ, our paschal Iamb, is sacramentally present. He teaches this truth when he says; "This is my body" in emblem; " this is my blood" emblematically exhibited to you. But as the Lord's Supper is the New Testament Passover, so baptism must be New Testament circumcision. New Testament believers have nothing except baptism as a substitute for circumcision. As one Old Testament sacrament is found in the holy supper, so the other must be found in baptism. Two sacraments were instituted under each dispensation of the covenant. One New Testament sacrament takes, without dispute, the place of the Passover; the other must therefore take the place of circumcision. But men first reject infant baptism and then deny that baptism takes the place of circumcision. In both these steps they substitute the wisdom of man for that of God. But baptism being New Testament circumcision, it is evident that as infants were required to be circumcised when circumcision was the seal of the covenant, so infants are required to be baptized when baptism is the seal of the covenant. Here therefore infant baptism is indirectly taught in God's own book. (2.) The Jews did not find fault with Christ or with his disciples for excluding infants from their relation to the church or from the New Testament seal of the covenant. If Christ before his death, or his disciples afterwards, had taught that infants were to be excluded from the covenant and from the use of its seal, the Jews who were constantly seeking something against them with which they could find fault, would certainly have opposed them on this account. The Israelites highly valued the seal of the covenant. They adhered to it with superstitious tenacity. To be without the seal of the covenant, or to be uncircumcised, was exceedingly reproachful in the eyes of a Jew. Those who thus highly valued the seal of the covenant, while they were bitter enemies of Christ and his people, would not have neglected to oppose them for refusing to infants its New Testament seal, if they had done so. On this point, the silence of the Jews is an eloquent argument in favor of infant baptism. Silence, on certain occasions, reaches the understanding and the heart. It is as eloquent as language can be; perhaps more so. The fact that the scriptures mention no instance of opposition made by the Jews against our Saviour and his disciples for excluding infants from the covenant, or from its seal, is manifestly indirect if not positive evidence, that they did not do so. Indeed, this silence proves, that malice itself could not find the least foundation upon which to build even a suspicion for such a charge against the blessed Redeemer and his inspired servants. (3.) The baptism of adults, who were before Jews or Gentiles, is frequently mentioned in the word of God. But not one instance is on record in that holy book, of a person being baptized in adult age, who was born of believing parents. No person can suppose that not one child of any believer was converted by the power of the holy Spirit in nearly seventy years, the time which elapsed between the death of Christ and that of John the apostle. But if any of the descendants of professing Christians, became communicants in adult age, then they must have been baptized in infancy or at the time they publicly professed their faith in Christ. But if they were baptized after they had grown up, where is the evidence? The baptism of other adults is often mentioned. The baptism of the adult children of professed believers, is of as much consequence, at least, as that of heathen or Jews. Since the scriptures furnish no evidence that the adult children of professed believers were baptized, they thus indirectly teach that these, their offspring, had received that ordinance in their infancy. (4.) The order of God's house indirectly teaches infant baptism. (5.) The Old Testament dispensation was not more favorable to children than that of the New is. No intimation of this kind is contained in the scriptures. But, as under the former dispensation, infants received the seal of the covenant, so must they also in New Testament times, unless the New Testament is less favorable to infants than the Old. But as this is not the case; so therefore that infants in gospel times must be baptized, is thus indirectly taught. (6.) The fact that the apostles taught that parents "ought not to circumcise their children," indirectly teaches infant baptism. If infants were not to be circumcised, then what was to be done for them? Adults were not then to receive circumcision as the seal of the covenant, any more than infants were. But what was to be done for adults who were not to be circumcised? They were to be baptized. Then what else was to be done for infants who were not to be circumcised? The fact therefore that infants were not to be circumcised, teaches indirectly that they were to be baptized.
covenants entered into between God and man, infants have been included. Infants
suffer death, the penalty threatened in the covenant made with Adam. In the
covenant made with Noah, his “seed after" him are included. In that made
with Abram, his “seed" are included. In the covenant made with
EXAMPLES OF INFANT BAPTISM
2. The examples of infants baptized by John are numerous. John baptized infants. He probably baptized not less than two millions five hundred thousand persons. If one in five of these was an infant, he then must have baptized five hundred thousand infants. But if he baptized only one million of persons, and only one in ten of these was an infant, even then he must have baptized one hundred thousand infants. That John baptized infants, is as definitely taught, as it is that he baptized adults. Moreover, it may be observed that Ambrose, about the year 374, and Augustine about the year 390, both affirm that John baptized infants. That John baptized many infants is therefore manifest.
3. Examples of infant baptism are required by the commission which Christ gave to his ministering servants. The standing command which it contains, is; “teach" or disciple "all nations, baptizing them.” The various nations of the earth at any one time embrace from six hundred to ten hundred millions of persons of all ages and of both sexes. If one fifth part of these are infants then the world contains from one hundred and twenty to two hundred millions of infants; and if only one in ten of the inhabitants of the globe is an infant, then there are at any one time on earth, from sixty to one hundred millions of infants. This commission contains a standing command to baptize all nations. These probably contain one hundred millions, and certainly not less than sixty millions of infants. Here therefore we have the standing command of Christ, which requires from sixty to a hundred millions of infants to be baptized. Here therefore are a multitude of examples of infant baptism. It may also be a fact that this command requires at least two hundred millions of infants to be this day baptized. When this command is completely obeyed, even in the external act, at least sixty millions of infants will be baptized in every age. This ministerial commission therefore embraces millions of examples of infant baptism.
4. Examples of infant baptism are found in the families which inspired men baptized. The commission by which they were authorized to administer Christian baptism, required them to baptize infants. They did not disobey the injunction which it contained. They baptized many families. Eight of these are named; and many were evidently baptized, which are not expressly named. They baptized "all" the "house" of Cornelius,—the house or "household" of Lydia, the " house"—" all" the " house" of the Philippian jailer, and many others. That these families included infants, is certain; because a word (oikos) which primarily signifies infant children, is used for family in every instance where the baptism of the household is mentioned. The Greek word which denotes all the house, the whole household is used in the Greek Old Testament, when infants, “little ones," the "sons, sons" and the "sons' daughters" of Jacob are intended. The same Greek word is used of the jailer's house or family which was baptized. As infants are certainly included when this word is used of Jacob's descendants; so it must as certainly include infants when it is used of the jailer's descendants. If it is said that infants are excluded from the word when it is used of the jailer's family, men of sense will ask at least a very little evidence to support the assertion. In this therefore and in the other families the baptism of which is mentioned in the word of God, we have more examples of infant baptism. To suppose one infant or little child to a family is not too great an average. The baptism of eight families definitely mentioned as taking place after the resurrection of Christ, furnishes therefore eight more examples of infant baptism to the millions already mentioned. Moreover, it is probable that not less than eight thousand families were baptized, which are not definitely named in the word of God. These will give a probable increase of eight thousand more examples of infant baptism, for those who will not be satisfied with millions.
indefinite number of examples of infants having been baptized, is mentioned in
the New Testament. Besides those already noticed, every
individual, who is, in the New Testament, publicly recognized as a church
member, must have been baptized. An indefinite number of publicly recognized
church members, and who must, as such have been baptized, are addressed by the
appellation of "little
children." This Greek word is a diminutive derived from another,
which signifies a child, a young child, and sometimes a child unborn.
This original word must therefore denote a very little child and in the plural
very "little children." When therefore the Spirit of God by the
apostle addresses an indefinite number of members in the "churches" in
6. The examples of infant baptism may be summed up. When this is done, the number of infants certainly and probably baptized, as well as that of those to whom the ordinance is commanded to be administered, will be very great. Examples of Infants certainly baptized;
the cloud, 250,000
the sea the same,. 250,000
Jesus Christ commands the baptism of 60,000,000
families certainly more than 8
by John as being baptized, 30,000
amount to 60,630,108
of Infants probably baptized;
In the cloud, 1,000,000
the sea the same, 1,000,000
Christ commands the baptism
120,000,000 or 200,000,000
families probably more than 8,000
by John as probably baptized, l,000,000(a)
amount to 122,608,500 or 202,608,500
These examples of infant baptism will be sufficient to satisfy those who can be satisfied with the word of God. But those who are not pleased with Divine instruction, will have to change "little children" into adults. They must also, by some new-coined legerdemain, banish infants from families and nations. If they find this to be a task too difficult for their inventive genius, they might so re-model the scriptures as to leave out of their copies all those "infants" and "little children" that now trouble their consciences so very much. What true believer in Divine revelation, can, after examining these examples of infant baptism so definitely recognized in the word of God, turn away and say; there is no example of infant baptism mentioned in, the scriptures? A person might, with equal propriety, deny that examples of adult baptism are recorded by inspired men.
AUTHORITY IN FAVOR OF INFANT BAPTISM
CHRISTIANS ON INFANT BAPTISM
1. Early Christian writers teach the doctrine of
infant baptism. Those Christians who
wrote between the apostolic age and about the year 450 or 500,
may be denominated early Christian writers. An unbroken line of such writers
will here be presented to the mind. They inculcate infant baptism.
They begin before the death of John the apostle, and continue on till
about the year 500 after Christ. (1.) Ignatius was born 12 years before the
death of Christ. He says; "truly did I see him after his resurrection?
He was martyred in the year 107, at the age of 86. (2.) Clement of
Moreover, it may be observed here, that Ireneus, about the year 176, wrote an account of all the professedly Christian sects which had sprung up between the death of Christ and his own time. Epiphanius, who wrote about the year 370, describes eighty sects of professing Christians. These he says, are "all the sects of Christians that" he had "ever heard of in the world." Austin or Augustine, about the year 400, mentions eighty-eight sects; and Philostrius, shortly after this, enumerates one hundred different sects. He made a sect out of the least difference of opinion about any trifling matter. Theodoret wrote his account of heresies about the year 430. It is a very “learned, methodical, particular and full" treatise on this subject. But in no one of these catalogues, is there to be found the least intimation of any (except such as denied water baptism altogether,) who did not hold to the baptism of infants as a Divine institution." In “all these catalogues, the differences of opinion which" existed” in primitive ages" on the subject of baptism,” are particularly mentioned" and carefully described. But however much they differed in other respects, they all held to infant baptism as an ordinance of God's appointment. None, who believed in baptism with water, denied or pretended to doubt that infant baptism was a Divine institution. Such facts as these, speak a language which, one would suppose, might make an impression on the mind even of an Immerser.
2. Children were recognized as baptized church members in both the Greek and Latin churches.
3. Commemorative inscriptions show that the early Christians baptized infants. A considerable number of these have been examined. Only a very few need be noticed here. (1.) "Posthumius," was "a believer" who "lived six years". A word which describes church members, is here applied to a child six years old. He is called a believer or a faithful. He was therefore a publicly recognized or baptized church member. This inscription is not dated ; but the symbol in early Greek characters, placed above and on the left side of it, shows that its date could not have been much if any later than the year 150. (2.) "Here lies Zosimus a believer, descended from ancestors who were believers. He lived two years one month and twenty-five days.' This child could not possibly be any thing more than a ritual believer, or a baptized church member. (3.) "Leopardus rests here in peace with holy spirits ;—he received baptism" and " lived seven years and seven months." This monumental inscription was written about the year 290. (4.) "Achillia, newly baptized, is buried here. She died at the age of one year and five months." (5.)
"Maureutius—lived five years eleven months and two days." He was “worthy to repose in peace among holy persons." (6.) "Cervonia" is "gone" to enjoy happiness "with holy spirits." This inscription is dated A. D. 291. (7.) " Julia reposes in peace among holy persons"(a). The words holy and in peace indicate that these three last named children were baptized church members. (8.) "Cyriacus, a believer, died" when he was " eight days less than three years of age." (9.) "Polichronio, a believer—lived three years." (10.) "Urcia Florentina, a believer—lived five years eight months and eight days." (11.) " Rufillo, newly baptized— lived two years and forty days." (12.) "Domitius, newly baptized—lived three years and thirty days." (13.) The son of Vilerius—" newly baptized—lived three years ten months and fifteen days." (14.) "Pisentus—lived one year eight months and thirteen days." He was "newly baptized." (15.) "Jovius—lived six years ten months and nineteen days." He was "newly baptized." (16.) "Aristus— lived eight months." He was "newly baptized." (17.) "Libna—lived eight years." She was "newly baptized." (18.) "Flavia Jovina—lived three years and thirty-two days." She was "newly baptized." This inscription is dated A. D. 367. (19.) " Two brothers—newly baptized— lived eight years two months and six days;" also, "Justus, a believer—lived seven years." This is dated A. D. 394. (20.) "Pascasius lived six years and received baptism." This child died in the year 463(a). These are a few of the inscriptions on the tombs of infants and children. They are much abbreviated. Only the age of the child and its baptism are mentioned. They speak a language that cannot be misunderstood. They teach that, at the time of their dates, infant baptism was practiced in the Christian church. The testimony of these inscriptions comes to us like a voice from the unseen world. Infant baptism must have been practiced at the time of their dates; for if it had not been, no parent or friend would have written such inscriptions. Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of the infant children of Christian parents, of whom no memento is preserved, must have died in the early ages of the church. Of those concerning whom some memorial remains, very few comparatively, have been examined. But the testimony of these few in favor of infant baptism, is pointed, plain, convincing, unanswerable.
ecclesiastical writers teach infant baptism.
Not one writer from and after the year 360, so much as advises the
delay of infant baptism, till about the year 1140.
About the year 200, Tertullian who supposed that sins committed after baptism
were nearly or quite unpardonable, did, for that and several similar
reasons which he called prudential, advise the delay of this ordinance in
certain cases. For the same reasons, he held that healthy youths should delay
their baptism till after their marriage. But
notwithstanding this notion, he maintained that unhealthy infants and all who
were not expected to live long, should, by all means, be baptized. About the
year 360, Gregory, though for different reasons, advises the delay of infant baptism,
till children should arrive at the age of about three years. This delay,
it is said, he practiced in the case of his own children. But not one writer
whose works have, in any form, reached the present day, either opposed infant baptism,
or advised its delay, for more than 750 years after A. D. 360. All who
mention the subject during this interval speak in favor of infant baptism.
Moreover, to baptize infants, is frequently
mentioned as the universal practice of the Christian church. All the Christian
writers therefore in the whole Christian world for more than 750 years from and
after the year 360, teach the doctrine of infant baptism.
And before that year, all inculcated the same
doctrine; because even the two who advised its delay in particular cases,
were in favor of it under other circumstances. The first professing Christians
who opposed infant baptism, were a small sect
which originated in the year 1110, and continued till about the year
1150(&). This sect rejected infant baptism, because
those who composed it, imagined that infants could not be saved. For more than
350 years after these few followers of Peter De Bruys dwindled away and
disappeared, no one opposed infant baptism.
All who mention it, speak in its favor, and represent it as the universal
practice of the visible church. The true church then was and had been for
centuries before, among the Waldenses, Albigenses, &c., who resided in the
this chapter an unbroken historical chain has been presented to the reader's
mind. No link has been omitted. This historical evidence commenced before the
death of John the apostle. It extends till the year 1844. During the first
eleven hundred years after the death of Christ, not one writer opposes infant baptism
such. And during these eleven centuries, only two writers advised its delay in
certain cases. All who wrote in relation to the subject, gave it
their approbation as of Divine origin. More than eleven hundred years after the
death of our Saviour, a little sect arose which continued for a few years and
then ceased to exist. This sect denied baptism to
infants on the ground that, in the nature of things their salvation was
impossible. The baptism of infants met with no
other opposition till more than fifteen hundred years after the birth of Christ.
Then the German Anabaptists arose. These wild
fanatics strenuously opposed infant baptism.
For more than eleven hundred years, the
whole voice of history decidedly teaches that infants ought to be and were
baptized. This voice then is for a moment opposed by a mere whisper from
a little sect that very soon died away. History, after this slight interruption,
continues to speak on as before in favor of infant baptism,
till it was again interrupted by the Anabaptists in
CHRISTIAN WRITERS ON INFANT BAPTISM
1. All Pedobaptist writers of any note teach the doctrine of infant baptism. Editor's note: I did not feel that Pedobaptists agreeing with infant baptism was any more persuasive or relevant to proving the issue than quoting Baptist's would be for immersion. Section noted, but omitted.
ON INFANT BAPTISM
1. Almost all denominations of professing Christians inculcate infant baptism. This they do both by precept and example. In the world there are not less than 175 millions of persons who profess to believe in Christ..
Sabtan Christians of
4. The principles of those who baptize none but adults prove that infants ought to be baptized. They admit, as a principle, that those who are truly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, may be baptized. If those who are born again, converted, baptized with the Holy Ghost, sanctified and fit for heaven, may not be baptized; it is difficult, if not impossible to conceive who may receive that ordinance. But if the truly regenerated may be baptized, then infants may be baptized; because infants have been and may again be made the subjects of the renewing grace of God. They have been and maybe "sanctified," and "filled with the Holy Ghost" in his regenerating influences from their earliest infancy. Little children then must be baptized; for they, by the renewing power of the Spirit, have been prepared for heaven. But since those who are the subjects of God's converting grace may be baptized, then infants may receive this ordinance; for in their souls, the Holy Spirit has produced, and may again produce the principles of the Christian graces and affections. If all infants dying in infancy are new-created in Christ Jesus, then certainly infants ought to be baptized. They are guilty of no heresy in principle or in practice on account of which they can with propriety be excluded from that holy ordinance.
Uninspired men cannot tell what infants are regenerated, nor can they tell what adults are truly born of God'. But if they may baptize adults without knowing certainly that they are the true children of God ; they certainly may, on the same principle, baptize infants without knowing certainly that they are or have been the objects of the renewing grace of the Spirit. If an adult professes to be a Christian when he is not, he is uttering a solemn falsehood. To be guilty of such a heinous sin, even an Immerser would scarcely say, was essentially necessary in him who would receive the ordinance of baptism. Few persons would be willing to say that to utter a positive untruth in the most solemn way was really necessary to the validity of baptism with water. But if to do so is not essential to baptism, then an infant who says nothing may be baptized while destitute of the renewing grace of God, as truly as an adult who professes to be born "of the Spirit" when he is not. The very principles therefore of those who baptize none but adults, prove that infants who are or may be born again, ought to be baptized no less than adults who are or may be born again. Such persons must therefore baptize infants or prove recreant to their own professed principles. They, to be consistent, must baptize infants, or deny that they are or may be regenerated, or deny that the truly regenerated may be baptized. If the regenerated may be baptized, and if infants are or may be regenerated, then infants may be baptized.
MATTERS CONNECTED WITH INFANT BAPTISM
INFANTS ARE TO BE BAPTIZED
1. Parents who are in covenant are bound to have its seal applied to their children. God commands parents who are not in covenant to enter it and receive its seal. He also commands those who have received the seal of the covenant to apply it to their children. If the parent has been baptized, believes all the truths of God's word, manifests his love to these by obeying the Divine requirements in an orderly walk and a conversation becoming the gospel; then charity requires that he should be viewed as being in a truly converted state. He who has received the seal of the covenant, who believes and loves all the truths of God's word, and whose external deportment is fair, cannot, with propriety, be suspended from any privilege of the covenant which he may desire to enjoy. He might, upon such evidence of regeneration, be allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper. But if he himself might be permitted to receive the Holy Communion, he certainly may be allowed to have the seal of God's covenant applied to his child. He cannot, while he thus, in principle and in practice, conforms to the word of God, be suspended from covenant privileges. But to refuse to baptize a person's child, is, in fact, to suspend him from the use of covenant or church privileges. By that very act, he is deprived of a privilege which those who have a standing in the covenant, have a right to enjoy. If he asks to have the seal of the covenant applied to his child before he asks to sit down at the Lord's Table, he, if he might with propriety enjoy both privileges, ought not to be deprived of the one, merely because he asks it before he does the other. But if a person is immoral, rejects any one truth or more of God's word, slights or treats with disrespect any Divine ordinance or disregards any commanded duty; he then, not only may, but ought to be suspended from the privileges of the church. While in that state, he ought not to be allowed to take his seat at the Lord's Table. He ought not then to be allowed to receive the seal of the covenant for his child. The child is in covenant, because the parent is. When therefore the parent is suspended from the covenant, either directly by a positive act of discipline, or indirectly, by refusing baptism to his child, he cannot, while in that state, receive its privileges either for himself or for his child. The child while in infancy, being incapable of asking the seal of the covenant for itself, neither asks for nor is refused any privilege. If therefore than parent is refused the privileges of the covenant, the child, from its infant state, cannot ask for itself this seal or any other privilege. To refuse to baptize the child of a parent is to suspend that parent from the privileges of the church. But parents who are in covenant are bound to discharge its duties. One of these is to have their children baptized.
2. Some infants have a right to be baptized. Some infants are in covenant with God. They were received into that relation by Divine authority. Those infants therefore who are in covenant, have a right to its seal. This, in New Testament times, is baptism. God receives infant children, with their parents, into covenant with himself. When therefore one of the parents is in covenant with God; so also are the children. But if the parent with the children, is in covenant, they, unless the parent is deprived of this privilege, have a right to this ordinance. Whatever is a proper covenant seal for the parent to receive is also a proper one for the child. When the parent has a right to the seal of the covenant, his child has also a right to this into confirming token. God himself has established this principle. He has definitely settled this matter. If the parent has a right to the seal of the covenant, so has the child. This is God's decision. It must therefore be proper. It is then manifest that while the parent has a standing in the covenant, the child has a right to its seal; and as in New Testament times, the seal of the covenant is baptism, so now the children of baptized parents who retain their standing in the covenant, have a right to this holy ordinance.
3. Any infant can be baptized. Whatever is essential to a subject of baptism belongs to every infant. Any infant may therefore be baptized. It is as possible to baptize an infant child of any parent, as it would be to baptize the parent. No infant can, in its own person, be more destitute than he was, of nil spiritual qualifications for baptism. Every infant, as certainly as he did, possesses all that is essential to a proper subject of baptism. When a child is baptized, it receives the seal of God's covenant. Before it receives this seal, it must be either directly or indirectly, received into covenant. If its parents are in covenant, then it sustains a covenant relation by a direct and positive enactment of God. If its parents are not in covenant, then it is indirectly received into covenant by one of the ambassadors of Christ. This act, as well as the administration of the ordinance of baptism, is official. When the child of unbaptized parents is baptized, the responsibility of him who administers the ordinance, is fearfully great. Such parents are not in covenant with God. They themselves neglect to enter into covenant with him. They do not receive its seal. They thereby prove that they have no regard for God's ordinances. They will therefore take little or no interest in the spiritual welfare of their children. To bring infants into covenant, and under such circumstances, apply its seal to them, is fearful unfaithfulness on the part of him who administers the ordinance. Such an act on the part of a minister, shows that he has no true regard for God's authority. On the part of the parent, it shows that, while, by having his child baptized, he professes to be a Christian, he is, nevertheless, entirely destitute of the power of godliness. By this act he takes hold of God's covenant, while he disregards a covenant God. The infant who is baptized under these circumstances, is laid under covenant obligations to live for the glory of God. It is bound in covenant to obey all his commands.
4. Persons baptized in infancy know the fact. There are a number of ways by which a person may become acquainted with a fact. He may know the truth of a statement; (1.) By the evidence of his senses; (2.) By mathematical demonstration; (3.) By Divine revelation ; (4.) By historical evidence; (5.) By experiment; (6.) By the testimony of records and of living witnesses. A reasonable amount of evidence presented to the mind from any one of these sources, convinces reasonable men. When convinced by evidence which is suitable in kind and sufficient in degree, they believe the position thus proved. They believe it, because they know it to be true by the knowledge which they have obtained from some proper source of evidence. Reasonable men believe what they know from good evidence. They do not believe that of which they have no knowledge; and they know that for which they have proper evidence.
They know that they, in infancy, have received the ordinance of Christian baptism, (1.) From the testimony of their parents; (2.) From that of the minister who baptized them; (3.) From the senior members of the Church; (4.) From the testimony of the Church records. Those who know a fact from such testimony as this, know it just as certainly as they could know it from any other evidence. But be this as it may, they know the fact of their own baptism, from the very same kind of evidence, and know it as certainly, as any Immerser knows that his fellow Immersers have been entirely under water as a substitute for baptism. If knowledge arising from the testimony of others will do for Immersers, they show more of the old Serpent's cunning than of true spiritual wisdom, when they endeavor to lead persons to doubt whether they were or were not baptized in infancy, by telling them that they do not know the fact, because they were infants when the ordinance was administered to them. But it ought to be remembered, that if the testimony of others is good evidence for Immersers, it is also good for baptizers. If an Iimmerser can know that a person has been immersed who was put under the water while he was at the distance of one hundred or five hundred miles, a baptizer can know, from the very same kind of evidence, that is, the testimony of others, that he was baptized in infancy. Persons who have been baptized in infancy may know the fact by a four-fold evidence. This is sufficient for those who believe that for which they have good proof. But those who, without any evidence, believe that immersion is the only mode of baptism, and without any authority exclude infants from the seal of God's covenant, would certainly feel insulted if it was insinuated that they require evidence for that which they believe. But no such insinuation is here intended. Indeed, they believe their exclusive system, (if they really do believe it,) without the least shadow of evidence of any kind. It would be entirely wrong therefore to suppose that they require evidence in favor of what they believe, or rather of what they profess to believe.
OF INFANT BAPTISM
1. To be in covenant with God is an advantage. The infant descendants of Abram were in visible covenant with God. All the advantages of having a God in covenant was theirs. The promise of God's covenant was theirs. Baptism is of as much advantage to the Christian’s child as circumcision was to the infant seed of a Jew. The promise of the covenant was made to the Jew and his seed. The same promise of the covenant is continued to the Christian and to his "children". To be entitled to the promise of the covenant is a special advantage. To those who are interested in this covenant, its promise belongs. For infants therefore to be in the covenant and to be entitled to its promise must be a great advantage, unless circumstances render it otherwise.
To question the utility of a Divine ordinance, is truly impious. Baptism was instituted by Divine wisdom. It was by the same authority required to be administered to infants. For a worm of the dust to step forward and demand of his Maker, what advantage there is in obeying his command, is an unblushing insult offered to the King of kings.
2. To be publicly recognized as in risible covenant with God, is an advantage. When infants are baptized, they are, by that act, publicly recognized as sustaining a covenant relation to God and to his visible people. In baptism they receive the seal of the covenant. This is, in itself, a great blessing. But this like other blessings, if the baptized violate the covenant, will become a curse on the head of the transgressor. Those who are in covenant are in the way of covenant blessings. Every Christian knows the advantages of being in this way. Here he frequently meets and holds communion with his covenant God. Here, to the Christian’s children, he is often manifested as their covenant-keeping God.
is often asked with a sneer, "what good does it do to sprinkle a little
water on an infant's face? It might be
asked in reply, "what good does it do to put an adult entirely under
water?" So far as the mere act of putting an adult under
water is considered, and the act of sprinkling water on an infant, the one is
certainly as important as the other. Besides, sprinkling a little water on an
infant's face does no harm. But immersing the body entirely under water often
does(a). As far therefore as the two acts are concerned, sprinkling a little
water on an infant's face will, in the estimation of sensible men, appear to be
at least as useful as the immersion of an adult
entirely under water. But when baptism is viewed
as a seal of that covenant into which God has been pleased to enter with his
visible church, when it is contemplated as a Divine ordinance, as a solemn
religious duty ; then sneering is out of place. Under such circumstances, with
those who regard the authority of their Creator, preserver and final judge it
will scarcely be allowed to pass with a silent rebuke. The baptism
of infants is a solemn duty, or it is an act of solemn mockery. With the
King of kings, a sneer will not answer as a substitute for a solemn duty. With
men of sense, it will not answer as a substitute for evidence. It will only have
a tendency to deceive the more ignorant part of those who know not the Lord
Jesus Christ. Those
who first substitute immersion
then sneer at God's own ordinance, deserve the pity and prayers, if not the
stern rebuke, of all God's people.
3. The blessings of the covenant are numerous. To those in covenant, these are promised. Those children who are in covenant are (1.) Entitled to covenant instruction. This is a special blessing. In this matter God appears in his majesty as the children's friend. His direction on this subject is this; "these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart; and thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children." (2.) They are entitled to covenant restraints. The very thought of being bound in covenant to conform to all the requirements of the Divine law, will restrain the waywardness of children and youth. The covenant instruction which they receive exercises a restraining influence over them. (3.) They may plead the promises of their covenant God. What a blessing this is! (4.) They often receive covenant grace. Every Christian will at once perceive that these blessings are special privileges which belong only to those who are in covenant with God. They can easily perceive how important they are to children.
4. The obligations of the covenant are a great advantage. Those who are in covenant are under covenant obligations. God requires them to keep his covenant. By this language they are bound to conform to all the stipulations of the covenant. These all require what is right and proper. It is therefore the interest no less than the duty of all others as well as of children, to comply with the whole of them. Those in covenant are bound by a two-fold obligation to comply with all the Divine injunctions. They are bound both by the commands and by the covenant of their God, to perform all its stipulations or duties. To obey is both a privilege and a duty. The more firmly persons are bound to do right, the more likely they are to do so. To have the obligations of the covenant laid upon infant children and to teach them these obligations as soon as they are capable of reflection, are to them great and unspeakable advantages.
5. All baptized persons are bound in covenant to read, believe, love and practice what God in his word requires. They are bound in covenant to take the scriptures of truth for their only rule of duty in all religious matters. Those among them who believe and practice as religion either more or less than what God in his word requires, are covenant-breakers. The covenant requires them to believe as religious doctrines just what the scriptures teach, and to conform to all the Divine commands as their only external religious duties. All persons are by the Divine law, bound to do all this. But the baptized are also under covenant obligations to discharge these duties. These covenant obligations are exceedingly valuable to all baptized persons. They are specially so to children; because children need more restraint, more direction, more instruction than adults do.
6. Parents are bound in covenant to pray for and instruct their baptized children. All parents, because they are such, are commanded by the law of God to do all this for their children. They are thus bound to “train" them” up in the way" they "should go," to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." These and similar directions require all parents, both by precept and example, to train up their children to believe, think, speak and act in all religious duties, in accordance with God's word. At the child's baptism, the parent publicly recognizes his solemn covenant obligations to do for it what he was before bound by the law to do.
7. All ministers and church officers are bound in covenant to promote the spiritual interest of baptized children. That this is an advantage few will deny. They are bound by the law to promote the spiritual interest of children in general. But they are under special obligations to watch over and instruct those who are baptized. These are in a very important sense, the lambs of Christ's flock. Indeed, baptized children are his visible lambs; because they are in visible covenant with him. Concerning these, the great Shepherd gives a special charge to all his ministering servants. He says to each of them; “feed my lambs." It is their duty to "feed the" whole” flock;" but they ought to watch with special care over the lambs. They are all to be fed with spiritual ': knowledge and understanding." To do this they are bound by their covenant obligations. It is even included in the ministerial commission. The expression “all nations" certainly includes infants and baptized" children. Those whom " the good Shepherd " commissions to feed his flock, certainly will not reject the lambs, the young of "the sheep," from the fold. Those who have any true regard for the sheep, will not turn the Iambs out into the wilderness to become the prey of wild beasts. But they will watch over and feed them with care. The under-shepherd who really loves God's truth, wilt take pleasure in communicating it to the- lambs of Christ. But if it dwells only on his lips, or if he rejects the whole or even a part of it; then the lambs will be in great danger of being neglected To have the office-bearers in the church of Christ, bound in covenant to watch over and instruct a child hi the knowledge of true religion, and in other ways to promote his eternal welfare, is an unspeakable advantage. To this privilege the child, at its baptism, becomes entitled.
8. Each person in covenant owes special duties to every other. Those who are all in covenant with God, are thus bound, as far as they have an opportunity in providence, to pray for, watch over, instruct, and guide each other. This is a great advantage to adults. It often prevents them from falling into sin. It not (infrequently restores the wanderer, strengthens the weak, confirms the wavering, encourages the desponding, and enlightens the ignorant. But if the watchful care of experienced Christians is an advantage to adults, it is much more so to children. The principal advantages of infant baptism mentioned in this section, are of special importance in childhood and youth. It ought ever to be remembered that all adult church members are bound in covenant; (1.) To pray for baptized children; (2.) To watch over them; (3.) To guide them both by precept and example into paths of truth and holiness; (4.) To instruct them, especially in the doctrines and duties of religion, as they are contained in the word of God.
9. The relation which baptized infants sustain to God is a special blessing. They are in covenant with him. Its seal has been placed upon them. Its promise is theirs. God himself gives them this. He said to Abram, I will "be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee;" and to Christians, he by his servant, says; "The promise is unto you and to your children" The relation of children begins in earliest infancy. Here he promises to "be a God unto" infants, to children who are in covenant with him. When he makes such a promise as this to infant children, it includes invaluable blessings. To baptized infants and to others who have received this ordinance, he is a God in covenant. To all these and especially to baptized infants, he often grants (1.) Covenant restraints; (2.) Covenant directions; (3.) Covenant associates; (4.) Covenant instruction; (5.) Covenant temporal blessings; (6.) Covenant afflictions; (7.) Covenant promises; (8.) Covenant threatenings; (9.) Covenant ordinances; (10.) Covenant grace. Indeed, whatever they receive on earth, comes from a covenant God. Whether he smiles or frowns, he is still their covenant God. To the baptized person, whether infant or adult, he sustains this covenant relation. The blessings connected with it are numerous and valuable. To an adult they are important, but to an infant many of them are much more so. This will be manifest to any person who will only learn the number and kind of blessings promised in the covenant of which baptism is a seal. He can at once perceive that these are all as important to infants as they are to adults, and some of them, such as the restraints, directions and associates of the covenant, much more so. The covenant relation then which baptized infants sustain to God, is a very special blessing to them.
baptized in infancy are not deprived of any privilege.
From what has been stated in this chapter, it is evident that baptism is not in any respect less advantageous to an infant than it is to an adult. It is also evident that in some respects, it is even more important to infants than to others.
OF NEGLECTING INFANT BAPTISM
1. To baptize infants is a duty. This duty is frequently and pointedly and positively taught in the word of God. When therefore infant baptism is neglected, a positive duty is neglected. God requires the seal of his covenant to be applied to infants. To neglect to do so, is therefore to neglect a duty to God. The parent owes this duty to his child. If he neglects it, he then neglects a duty which he ought to perform for his child. To do what God requires, is also a duty which the parent owes to himself. To neglect to obey those commands which require him to dedicate his child to God in baptism, is to neglect his duty to himself as well as to God and to his child. To neglect such a manifest duty to himself, to his child and to God, is one great evil of which every parent is guilty who, from any cause, neglects to attend to the baptism of his infant children.
2. To neglect infant baptism is a sin. To neglect a duty is a sin. Parents who neglect the baptism of their children, are living in the habitual neglect of this duty. They continually violate all those precepts which, either directly or indirectly, require them to dedicate their infant children to God in baptism. The sin of this neglect is exceedingly complicated. Its name might be Legion. Such parents violate the command of God. They transgress or neglect his covenant. They leave their children to grow up in the continual reception of uncovenanted mercies. They neglect God's offered blessings. They leave their children exposed to all the temptations of Satan and to the allurements of the world. The restraints of God's covenant are not thrown around them for their protection. In all this sin and much more, every parent who neglects to have his children baptized, habitually lives. The guilt of neglecting this duty has no palliation, when God in his providence gives the parent an opportunity of having his child baptized.
If a parent does not believe it to be his duty to have his children baptized, this, his sin, will not thereby be diminished. It may be increased. Men's duties do not depend on what they do or on what they do not believe to be such. When God commands, it is every man's duty to obey. All are bound to believe that to be a duty which God requires; and to neglect one duty cannot be a good excuse for neglecting another. Men's unbelief cannot free them from their obligations to obey the Divine commands. It cannot become a substitute for the discharge of any duty. The word of God requires every parent to believe in and practice infant baptism. His unbelief cannot remove this, his obligation. It will not even have a tendency to lead him to engage in the discharge of this solemn, this interesting duty which he owes to God, to himself, to his children, and it may be added, to the church and to the world. If a man does not believe it to be his duty to pray for his children or instruct them, his unbelief will not make the commands "of God without effect." The Divine command, not men's belief or unbelief, is the rule of duty. When he commands, men ought to believe and obey. But to neglect or refuse to believe, will not excuse a single human being from his obligations to render obedience to every or any Divine command
3. To neglect infant baptism is to turn aside from God's mercies. In his mercy, in his rich, free and sovereign grace, he permits, he commands parents to have the seal of the covenant applied to their infant children.
4. To neglect infant baptism is to lose all its advantages. These are many; and each of them inconceivably valuable. To neglect and thereby lose all the blessings of the covenant is an evil the extent of which cannot be determined by man on earth.
Merely to neglect infant baptism, when God, in his providence gives us an opportunity of attending to it, is a sin of no small magnitude. Every parent ought to reflect on this subject. He ought to ask himself, what account he is prepared to give to God for neglecting to apply the seal of the covenant to the infant children whom he is training for eternity. The obligation is constantly resting upon the parent to dedicate his child to God in baptism. He must perform the duty or live in habitual sin. Parent, which of these will you do?
OF REJECTING INFANT BAPTISM
1. Some men reject infant baptism. This truth is generally known and acknowledged. Infant baptism is a positive duty required in the scriptures. It might therefore be expected that some persons would reject it. That to baptize infants is a scriptural duty has already been clearly shown. That men refuse to discharge this duty, is also certain. The general reason why they reject this duty is simply this. They do not love, they even hate it. The word of God is plain and positive on this subject. Human authority on it is overwhelming. It must therefore in general at least be hatred to this duty or to the word of God which requires it, or certainly a want of love for these, which leads men to reject infant baptism. If men really hate this duty, it might well be doubted, even if they did not habitually violate other Divine commands, whether they in truth love any part of God's word. He who hates to discharge any one of the duties plainly and positively required in the scriptures, may well doubt whether he truly loves any of them. Those who love God's word, love it all. Those therefore who reject infant baptism, if they do not reject the scriptures entirely, certainly neglect to take them for their only rule in the performance of all religious duties. This is an evil of a fearful magnitude.
Of those who reject infant baptism and yet profess to believe the scriptures to be a revelation from God; some entirely reject baptism with water, while others immerse adults only. These would all manifest much more consistency, if they did not profess to receive the word of God as infallibly true, or if they did not professedly take it for their only rule in all religious duties. But for persons to profess to take that holy book for their only rule of duty, and then to alter it so as to endeavor to make it teach at least a small part of what they believe, is not a mark of love for God's truth. To reject, as they do, some of the duties which Divine revelation positively teaches, and frequently, if not habitually, violate some of its positive commands, is in those who profess to be guided by its precepts, very inconsistent to the mind of the Christian.
2. Those who reject infant baptism reject God's covenant. God entered into covenant with his visible church in the days of Abram. Into this, as one of the parties, God brought infants and adults. He has not, at any time, excluded either of these classes of persons from the covenant. They therefore both together constitute one party in this covenant. Those who reject that covenant, a portion of one of the parties in which, is made up of infants, reject God's covenant. The church which he organized embraces infants and adults. Those societies therefore which refuse membership to infants or which do not recognize them as members, are not branches of that church which God has organized. In this his church, infant membership is recognized. By refusing to recognize infant membership in their societies, they reject the covenant into which God has entered with his professed people. This embraced their infant children. When they reject this covenant there is no other made with his visible people for them to embrace. The only one into which God has entered with his visible church, includes infants as a portion of one of the parties. He has organized no church embracing adults only. Those societies which embrace adults only, cannot therefore be portions of that church which includes infants. That which God organized certainly embraces infants. When men exclude from the covenant one or more of the parties in it, they reject the covenant itself. If a society of persons should reject all adults from membership that could not be a branch of the visible church; because they would then reject those whom God had received. On the very same principle, those who reject infants, cannot be a portion of the visible church. Such persons divide a party in the covenant and then reject one portion of those whom God made collectively one of its parties. By doing this, they destroy the covenant, or in other words, they leave it with but one party. The other is not composed of adults alone, but of infants and adults together. These together, not separately, form one of the parties in the covenant. To divide this party and reject a portion of it, is to destroy the party ; and to destroy a party in the covenant is to destroy the covenant. Those who reject or destroy God's covenant, practically disorganize, as far as they can do so, the visible church on earth. This is one great evil of refusing to infants the seal of the covenant, or of rejecting infant baptism.
3. To reject infant baptism is to substitute the wisdom of man for that of God. He, in his wisdom, received infants into covenant with himself. He required its seal to be applied to them. The Lord Jesus Christ directed his servants to baptize them. He received them into his church. Those who reject infant baptism say, by their actions if not in words, that infants ought not to be or cannot be received into covenant with God. They deny its seal to them. They refuse to baptize them. They do not allow them a standing in the visible covenant into which God has entered with his people. In their wisdom, they reject infants from the covenant God, in his wisdom, receives them into it as a portion of one of its parties. In their wisdom, they refuse to infants the seal of the covenant. God commands it to be applied to them. Christian baptism is now this seal. Therefore those who refuse to infants this baptismal seal of the covenant substitute their own wisdom for that of God. This is nothing less than a direct insult offered to Divine wisdom. It is to prefer the wisdom of man to that of God. It is an evil of no small magnitude.
4. To reject infant baptism entirely could leave the world without a visible church. The church which God organized embraced infants at its formation. It does so yet; for he has not excluded them from the covenant or from its seal. If men exclude them from their societies and refuse to apply to them the seal of the covenant, they thereby reject God's church and God's covenant. In God's church and in his covenant, infants are included. From theirs infants are excluded. Their church and covenant cannot therefore be the same as God's. But that which God organized is the visible church on earth. This included infants. The seal of his covenant was applied to them. To refuse infants the seal of the covenant is therefore to reject the visible Church which God organized on earth. This, if practiced by all, would leave the world without a visible church. There could then be no people in external covenant relation with the King of Zion. Then there could be no visible church. To cast infants out of the covenant which God has made with his visible people is to leave it with but one party; or in other words, this is to destroy the covenant. But where there is no covenant, there can be no church. If therefore all mankind should reject infant baptism, the world would be left without a visible church. This is no small evil.
5. The injury which those who reject infant baptism do to children is very great. To exclude infants from baptism is to deprive them of all its advantages. Those who do so, refuse to train them up in the way they should go. They leave them exposed to all the temptations of Satan and to the manifold allurements of the world They eject the lambs of the flock from the visible fold of Christ. They refuse to bring them to the great Shepherd in the holy ordinance of baptism; and those who would bring them they often hinder. They deny them covenant mercies. These are only a specimen of the various and complicated injuries which the rejecters of infant baptism are guilty of doing to children.
6. Opposition to infant baptism is rebellion against God. For men to oppose what God requires is open rebellion against him. God made a covenant with his visible people. Into this he received infants. For men then to exclude them from it, is rank rebellion against heaven. Those who do so invade God's holy covenant and exclude from it one of the classes of persons who were, by Divine authority, made a portion of one of its parties. Such persons profane God's "covenant." They, by rejecting it, treat it as if it was unworthy their regard. In rejecting infants from the covenant and its seal, they invade the prerogatives of the Most High. They even attempt to undo what he has done. As far as they can do so, they reject infants whom God has received into covenant. Thus they would exalt themselves above the Sovereign of the universe. They affect to remodel his covenanted church, that they may make it better calculated to promote the cause of religion. By acting thus they incur the guilt of rejecting the covenant and of insulting the wisdom of God. To oppose infant baptism is therefore to engage in open rebellion against a covenant-making, a covenant-keeping God.
The preacher who refuses to baptize infants, or who opposes infant baptism, rejects that part of the ministerial commission which requires those who hold it to baptize " nations"—" all nations." This is certain; because every nation,—" all nations" certainly include infants. He who will not baptize infants, refuses to baptize families, whole families if an infant or young child is found in them. He therefore refuses to do what the apostles often did. Preachers therefore who oppose the baptism of infants or who refuse to baptize them, are living in habitual rebellion against the very directions which the Lord Jesus Christ gives to his ambassadors in their ministerial commission.
It is no small
sin to live in rebellion against God. But the evil of leading others to trifle
with his mercy and to rebel against the gracious covenant into which he has
entered with his church, his visible kingdom on earth, is a degree of wickedness
which, in view of a coming judgment, ought to make the guilty tremble. This
subject claims the careful, the deep, the solemn
attention of those who oppose infant baptism. They
ought to realize that in doing so, they are living in habitual rebellion against
that God who, in mercy and love, received infants into covenant relation with
himself. They ought to know that
Such are a few
of the evils of rejecting infant baptism. Eternity
alone can completely reveal their magnitude. A load of guilt, like a mountain of
lead, must rest upon the soul of him who ventures to trample thus on the
gracious covenant of a merciful God. May his guilt be washed away by the blood
of the infant's precious Redeemer who says, "Suffer little children to come
unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the
GENERAL VIEW OF INFANT BAPTISM
THE FORM OF A DIALOGUE BETWEEN A BAPTIZER AND AN IMMERSER
Immerser. Mr. Baptizer, do you hold to believer's baptism?
Baptizer. Please to state what you mean by believer's baptism.
I. Why, to hold to believer's baptism, is to maintain that believers ought to be baptized.
B. Then I hold to believer's baptism; because I hold that all true believers ought to be baptized if they have not received that, ordinance.
I. But that is not exactly what I meant to ask. My intention was to enquire whether you maintain that professed believers ought to be baptized.
B. If such persons have not been baptized, they certainly ought to be. Indeed, a credible profession of a person's faith is all the evidence that man can have in this life to prove that any individual is a true believer. Men cannot search the hearts of their fellow-creatures.
I. But all this does not come to the point at which I am aiming.
B. Well, then, have the goodness to explain yourself more fully.
I. I intended to ask whether you do or do not hold to infant baptism!
B. I certainly do. The scriptures are too full and explicit on that subject for any intelligent believer in them to reject infant baptism.
I. I believe the scriptures to be a special revelation from God, and yet I reject infant baptism.
B. Do you believe that men have a right to repeal any portion of God's law?
I. 1 do not. For men to attempt to repeal or nullify any Divine command, would be to reject the scriptures. Such persons cannot believe in the word of God.
B. God has received infants into covenant with himself. When he organized the visible church in the days of Abram, they formed a part of its members. God required the seal of the covenant to be applied to them. Have men a right to repeal that portion of the law of the covenant which requires its seal to be applied to infants?
I. They have not. To attempt to do so would be to usurp the Divine prerogatives. God only can repeal his own laws. He and no other being can change his covenant or alter its seal or exclude from it any portion of that party which is composed of human beings.
B. Has God ever excluded infants from his covenant, or from a right to its seal?
I. He has not. The scriptures do not so much as intimate any such thing. Though infants are frequently mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments, their exclusion from the covenant or from a right to its seal, is not, in any form of words, taught in a single passage.
B. Have men any right then to exclude them from God's covenant and from its seal?
I. No; they have not. To attempt to do so would be rebellion against the high authority of heaven.
B. Has circumcision, in New Testament times, ceased, by Divine authority, to be the seal of the covenant for both adults and infants?.
I. It has. It is no longer the seal of the covenant for any person old or young.
B. What is now the seal of the visible covenant into which God once entered with his professed people?
I. The seal of this covenant is now Christian baptism, and it always has been so since the institution of that ordinance.
B. Did circumcision seal spiritual blessings to any of the circumcised?
1. It certainly did ; for circumcision was "a seal of the righteousness of—faith ;" and a part of the promise of this covenant was, "I will—be a God unto thee and to thy seed." This certainly includes spiritual blessings.
B. Infants, you say, have not been, by Divine authority, excluded from this covenant, and that, in .New Testament times, its seal is baptism.
I. I do say so. The seal of the covenant is now baptism, and God has not deprived infants of its use.
B. Why then do you not have your children baptized, since infants now have a right to that seal of the covenant?
I. I don't believe in infant baptism.
B. Will your unbelief on this subject be a substitute for your duty?
I. No; I don't believe it will.
B. Why then do you refuse to have your children baptized?
I. The truth is, to be plain with you, I do not like the obligations publicly recognized by parents in the baptism of their infant children.
B. But these obligations, all rest upon you as a parent. To neglect these duties will not diminish their magnitude or number.
I. I know that. Have you any other evidence in favor of infant baptism?
B. I have, much. In the word of God, the command to baptize infants is positive and frequently repeated. The direction which Christ gives to his ministering servants, requires millions of infants to be dedicated to the Triune God in baptism. Indeed, every passage in the scriptures which mentions infants as living in New Testament times, describes them as being actually baptized, or as having a right to that ordinance. Multitudes of examples of infant baptism are also mentioned in the New Testament. Infants were baptized by John,—were baptized in the cloud and in the sea,— were baptized in families,—and they are frequently mentioned as baptized church members. These and similar statements abound in the word of God. They all teach infant baptism in language too plain to be misunderstood by any person who will read the scriptures with care.
I. The word of God is so very pointed on this subject that no true believer in its statements, who is untrammeled by prejudice, can withhold his full assent to the doctrine of infant baptism.
B. Why then are you unwilling to have your children baptized?
I. J don't see any use in baptizing infants.
B. Is that a good reason why you should neglect to obey the positive command of God?
I. No; it is not. But there is no harm in neglecting to have my children baptized.
B. Do you really believe that there is no harm in neglecting to obey the positive command of God?
I. No ; I do not believe that either. To neglect to obey the command of God, must be a sin.
B. Do you believe that you sustain a covenant relation to God?
I. I do.
B. How was this relation formed?
I. God, in the days of Abram, entered into covenant with his professed people. This covenant continues in full force in New Testament times. I became one of God's professed people, and by making a profession of religion, I entered into covenant with him.
B. Did you leave your children behind, when, as you say, you entered into covenant with God ?
I. I did. I left them because they were infants.
B. Then you yourself are not in covenant with God.
I. Why so? May I not have him for my covenant God and leave my infant children to his uncovenanted mercies?
cannot. God makes no covenant with professing parents to the exclusion of their
infant children. You cannot enter God's covenant and leave your children in an
uncovenanted state. He has made no provisions for such a step. He has not
authorized you to enter into covenant with him, and, at the same time, leave
your children "aliens from the
I. I cannot see how baptism can do an unconscious infant any good.
B. What good does it do an adult to be baptized?
I. Why? why ? why ? indeed I never thought of that.
B. Let me tell you then that baptism does an infant as much good as it does an adult. When therefore you ascertain the amount of good it does an adult to be baptized, you will know what good it does to baptize an infant. But if you should still remain ignorant on this subject, if you should never know so much on it as to be able to determine what advantage it is to an infant to be baptized; your ignorance would not be a substitute for your duty, or prove that infants ought not to be baptized.
1. I know all that very well. It is also undeniably certain that the scriptures teach the doctrine of infant baptism.
B. If then you believe the scriptures to be a revelation from God, and the only rule of duty, you will have your children baptized.
B. It is certainly his duty to do so ; and if he does not at least habitually obey the external commands of God, he acts very inconsistently, if he professes to take the scriptures for his only rule in all religious duties. He would show much more honesty and regard for veracity, if he even rejected the word of God as a Divinely inspired rule of action for man while on earth, than to profess and act as you do.
I. Well, I don't believe in those parts of the bible which teach infant baptism. I only believe in the inspiration of the New Testament. That is enough for a Christian.
B. A true Christian believes in the inspiration of the Old Testament as well as in that of the New. But the New Testament teaches the doctrine of infant baptism as pointedly as the Old does; perhaps more so. It also teaches that the Old Testament is inspired. Those therefore who reject the inspiration of the Old Testament cannot believe that the New teaches truth, much less that it is Divinely inspired.
I. But I can so explain every passage in the New Testament as to make it consistent with the rejection of infant baptism.
B. That would prove that you are able to pervert the word of God. But such a course would not prove that infant baptism is not taught in the scriptures. Besides, you would then have your own explanations or perversions of scripture for your guide, instead of God's own truth.
I. Do you suppose?
B. It is no matter what 7 or you or any other person may suppose. We have nothing to do with suppositions. The word of God is the only rule for Christians in all religious duties. This has nothing to do with men's suppositions. It contains God's directions. It requires infants to be baptized.
I. Well, if the scriptures, in a thousand passages, taught infant baptism, I would not believe it to be true.
B. It is manifest then that you have no real love for God's word. It is also quite evident that you have no more respect for it than for any human production. Your belief in Divine revelation, if it can be called belief, has no heart in it. You follow your own fancies or those of other men, and then pervert the word of God in order to obtain its apparent countenance for your wild notions. As you value your eternal interest, I entreat you to seek the pardoning mercy of God for your sin in neglecting to have your children baptized. The Lord is yet waiting to be gracious. Do not any longer, I beseech you, trifle with his long-suffering patience.
I. You may say what you please. But I won't have my children baptized. If God does teach it in his word, I would rather not attend to it and that is reason enough for me.
B. I must
now leave you. I pray the Lord to give you grace in the heart which may lead you
to obey his holy commands in your life. These you profess to take for your only
rule of duty. But yours is manifestly mere profession. You cannot now even plead
ignorance on this subject. God's word is too plain to allow any palliation for
your sin on that account. Ecclesiastical history, during the days of the
apostles, and from that time till the present moment, shows that the
I. But stop a moment. Infants do not know what is done for them when they are baptized.
B. God knew this when he received them into covenant with himself,—when he directed its seal to be applied to them,—when he commanded his servants to baptize them. When infants were circumcised, they had no knowledge of the nature of that “seal of the righteousness of—faith." But this their want of knowledge, did not prevent that seal from confirming to them the promise of the covenant. Nor can the ignorance of infants in New Testament times, render their baptism more or less valid. It is not the knowledge or ignorance of the infant subject of baptism, which entitles him to that ordinance. Nothing can do this but Divine authority. When this authority requires infants to be baptized, then they not only may, but must be baptized. If they are not dedicated to God in this ordinance, then those who neglect to have it administered to them refuse to comply with the Divine commands on this subject. Such persons continue to live in habitual rebellion against God. Besides, the ignorance of your children will not be a good substitute for your duty. God commands you and all other parents to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He requires you also to dedicate your infant children to Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It is your duty to obey this and every other command of God. For you to say to him in relation to this Divine command; ' Lord my children are ignorant, they do not know what is done for those who are baptized,' would not be prompt and filial obedience. This would, in fact, be an attempt to teach Omniscience. It would be saying in effect; ' Lord, thou dost command me to dedicate my infant children to thee in baptism, but they do not understand the nature of that holy ordinance, therefore I will not obey thee in this requirement. In my judgment thou art wrong in this matter. I will, for the sake of promoting thy glory, neglect to obey, nay, I will oppose this thy positive command.' Such is the language of your actions. God, when he commanded infants to receive the seal of the covenant— to be baptized—knew certainly what was and would be the amount of their knowledge. And with this his perfect prescience on this subject, he directed them to be baptized. This you would not have done, would you? ~ I. Indeed I would not. In that you are right.
B. You therefore differ from God. I prefer his wisdom to yours. May the Lord enlighten your understanding to perceive his mercy and grace in requiring parents to dedicate their infant children to God in baptism. My labors with you are now ended. The blessing of God and that only, can render them useful to your soul. Adieu. Remember, the Divine command requires you to dedicate your children to God in baptism.
Not a word of proof is found;
a nation, it is certain,
baptized upon dry ground.
informs us, that to sprinkle,
a mode to be baptized;
In no other does he teach us,
his grace is symbolized.
of believing parents,
in covenant with the Lord;
its seal they're hence entitled
In accordance with his word.
by Divine direction,
with water be baptized; Christ commands it as a duty; Not by men to be despised.
command is plain and pointed;
obey the gracious voice
Of the infant's loving Saviour,
a duty, not mere choice.
should listen to his teaching,
recorded in his word;
Then would infants be by sprinkling,
to the Lord.
when an Immerser attacks you on his favorite topic, just ask them,
To prove by some one passage of scripture that immersion
a mode of baptism;
(2.) Request them to point to at least one verse in any portion of Divine revelation, which will prove, either by precept or example, that immersion