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.. ON THE MODE OF CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. Before any thing be offered on the mode of baptism, with a view to reconcile differences between Baptists and Pedobaptists, it is important that the point in debate should be accurately stated and rightly understood. The question between the two denominations is not, whether immersion is valid baptism: This we admit. Nor is it, whether this mode of administering baptism is preferable. to any other : For we are willing that those in our churches who prefer immersion should be gratified. . Nor is it, whether immersion has been a frequent mode of baptizing in some past ages: For this we do not deny.—I do not say that neither of these points is questionable; but neither of them is the precise question in dispute.

The point at issue is, in few words, this :—Is IMMERSION ESSENTIAL TO THE ORDINANCE ? Our Baptist brethren contend that it is. They tell us that the idea of immersion enters into the very nature of baptism ; 'that the . terms baptism and immersion are equivalent and interchangeable."*. “The meaning of the word (baptize) is always the same, and it always signifies to dip. It never has any other meaning.+ All Baptists hold, that there.

* Judson's Sermon, p. 14. t. Carson and Cox on Baptism, pp. 13, 83.

can be no baptism without immersion ; that this is essential to the ordinance. To this point, therefore, all their reasonings ought to tend. Whatever they may offer to show that immersion is a valid mode of baptism; or even *the most proper mode; or that it was frequently practised in ancient times, has no direct bearing on the controversy, and no tendency to bring it to a close. Let them prove, what we deny, that immersion is essential to baptism-s0 essential that there can be no baptism without it, and our differences on the subject are at an end. · And here, obviously, the burden of proof lies upon them. Theirs is the laboring oar. It is not necessary for us to urge one argument to prove the negative of the proposition in debate; it is incumbent on them to prove the affirmative.

I am willing, however, to waive any advantage which , might arise from acting merely on the defensive. There

should be no special pleading-110 dispute for victory on either side. After long and patient examination, I am satisfied that immersion is not essential to baptism, and shall proceed to offer reasons in support of this opinion.

1. The rite of immersion is not calculated for universal practice. It cannot be administered with prudence and convenience, if indeed it can be administered at all, in all situations and to all persons. Portions of the eartlı have been discovered, and are inhabited, where collections of water sufficient for this mode of baptizing might not once occur in travelling hundreds of miles. There are other portions, where, amidst mountains of ice and almost perpetual snow, immersions must be very inconvenient and imprudent, if not impracticable. Yet the religion of Christ will one day penetrate these arid, and these frozen regions. Their inhabitants will be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. WNI they be immersed ? Were thousands to come forward

together, in either of the situations to which I have referred, (and such a season of ingathering has once been witnessed under the gospel,) would they, could they be immersed? The thing speaks for itself.* . ..

We may suppose another case of frequent occurrence. A person in a declining state of health is brought to the knowledge of the truth, and wishes to obey his Lord's commands. He wishes to be baptized in the name of Christ; and to eome to his table. But in his circumstances, to be immersed is perhaps impossible. He dares not attempt it. He might not survive the administration. Hence, on the ground of exclusive immersion, he is effectually debarred from the ordinances of the gospel. He can never receive Christian baptism, or partake of the memorials of his Saviour's death. Can it be, then, that the scheme here controverted is according to the gospel ? Is it likely that the Lord Jesus, who designed that his re- . ligion should be universal, has.appended to it and made essential a rite, so ill fitted for universal practice? : 2. The signification of water baptism shows the propriety of some other mode of administration besides immersion. Water baptism is a symbol, an emblem of spiritual baptism. It sets forth, by an expressive sigri, the cleansing, purifying operations of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the mode of water baptism might be expected to accord with the mode in which the Divine Spirit is represented as descending upon the heart. But this is uniformly by pouring or sprinkling. “I will pour out my Spirit unto you." "I will pour my Spirit on thy seed." "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” “He shall come down like rain on the mown grass." "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.” “So shall he sprinkle many nations.”+ This pouring out and

* See Appendix, Note A. + Prov. i, 23; Is. xliv. 3; Joel ii. 28; Ps. Ixxii. 6; Ezek. xxxvi. 25; Is. lii. 15. :

sprinkling of the Holy Ghost is in Scripture called the baptism of the Holy Ghost,-of which water baptism is the instituted sign. It seems evident, therefore, that pouring or sprinkling must be a proper-not to say the . most proper-mode of water baptism.

The advocates of exclusive immersion have attempted to evade this argument in a variety of ways. Some have said, that none' were ever baptized with the Holy Ghost except on the day of Pentecost; and that then the Spirit was so copiously poured out, that the disciples may be said to have been immersed in it.* But not to insist on the absurdity of this representation—the Spirit poured upon the disciples, till they were immersed or plunged into it!!—it is certain that all regenerated persons have been baptized with the Spirit. “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” 1 Cor. xii. 13.

Others have said, that the pouring out of the Spirit, and the baptism of the Spirit are not the same ;-that the Divine influence is first shed forth, and then the believer is plunged into it.t But this account of the matter is in plain contradiction to the Scriptures. Our Saviour promised his disciples, just before his ascension, that they should " be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.” But, speaking of this same event, almost immediately after, he describes it as "the Holy Ghost coming upon them." Peter' also speaks of this memorable bapa tism with the Spirit, as a fulfilment of the prediction of Joel, “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” Acts i. 5, 8, and ii. 17.. So when Peter preached to Cornelius and his family, “the Holy Ghost,” he says, fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.Acts xi. 15. Moreover, Paul represents the • See Judson's Sermon, p. 8. + Carson and Cox on Baptism, p. 171.

baptism of the Spirit, as “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly.". Tit. iii. 5,6. In view of passages such as these, who can avoid seeing and acknowledging, that the falling, the pouring, the shedding forth of the Spirit, and .the baptism of the Spirit are the same?

It is sometimes urged, that baptism with water is not significant of the baptism of the Spirit, but rather of the burial and resurrection of Christ. “We are buried with him in baptisın into death.” See Rom. vi. 4, and Col. ii. 12. But if baptism with water is not significant of the baptism of tlie Spirit, then why, are the two baptisms placed by Christ in such immediate connexion ? “ Ex.cept a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot .

enter into the kingdom of God.” “John truly baptized . with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy

Ghost.John iji.. 5. Acts i. 5. And why is the renewing of the Holy Ghost spoken of at all under the figure of a baptism, if this renewal is not the thing signified, shadowed forth, in literal baptism?—The passages above referred to, in which believers are said to be "! buried wi.. Christ by baptism into death,” do not seem to me to have any reference to the mode of baptism with water. Thething here spoken of is spiritual baptism*"the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." In egeneration, believers are said “to die unto sin.” They are spiritually “crucified with Christ,” die with him, e buried with him, and rise with him to. “newness of life and to new obedience." But what has all this to do with the mode of water baptism ?. And how far can it go towards proving that a total immersion in water is essential to the ordinance ?t

* “The Apostle is speaking of spiritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism." Judsu's Sermon, p, 28.

| See Appendix, Note B.

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