OF BAPTISM AND RE-BAPTISM

  • Now he saw the tide of popularity turning away from himself to the Saviour. Day by day the CROWDS ABOUT HIM LESSENED. When Jesus came from Jerusalem to the region about Jordan, the people flocked to hear Him. The number of His disciples increased daily. Many came for baptism, and while CHRIST HIMSELF DID NOT BAPTIZE, HE SANCTIONED THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ORDINANCE BY HIS DISCIPLES. Thus He set His seal upon the mission of His forerunner. But the disciples of John LOOKED WITH JEALOUSY upon the growing popularity of Jesus. They stood ready to criticize His work, and it was not long before THEY FOUND OCCASION. A question arose between them and the Jews as to whether baptism availed to cleanse the soul from sin; they maintained that the baptism of Jesus differed essentially from that of John. Soon they were in dispute with Christ’s disciples in regard to the FORM OF WORDS PROPER TO USE AT BAPTISM, and finally as to the right of the latter to baptize at all. DA 178.2

 

KJV John 3:25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about PURIFYING.

 

  • Disciples were being daily added to Christ, and people flocked from cities and villages to hear him. Many came to him for baptism; but Christ baptized none. His disciples performed this ordinance. And while Christ’s disciples were baptizing large numbers, there arose a question among the Jews and the disciples of John, whether the act of baptism purified the sinner from the guilt of sin. THE DISCIPLES OF JOHN ANSWERED THAT JOHN BAPTIZED ONLY UNTO REPENTANCE, BUT CHRIST’S DISCIPLES UNTO A NEW LIFE. John’s disciples were jealous of the popularity of Christ, and said to John, referring to Christ, “He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing except it be given him from Heaven.” 2SP 68.1

 

“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.”

 

  • The prejudice of the Jews was aroused because THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS DID NOT USE THE EXACT WORDS OF JOHN IN THE RITE OF BAPTISM. JOHN BAPTIZED UNTO REPENTANCE, BUT THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS, ON PROFESSION OF THE FAITH, BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. The teachings of John were in perfect harmony with those of Jesus, yet his disciples became jealous for fear his influence was diminishing. A dispute arose between them and the disciples of Jesus in regard to the form of words proper to use at baptism, and finally as to the right of the latter to baptize at all. 2SP 136.1 – 2SP 136.3
  • Before He left them, Christ gave His followers a positive promise that after His ascension He would send them the Holy Spirit. “Go ye therefore,” He said, “and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER A [PERSONAL GOD] AND OF THE SON A [PERSONAL SAVIOUR], AND OF THE HOLY GHOST sent from heaven to represent Christ: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:19, 20. 12MR 260.2

 

Now they heard the disciples declaring that it was the Son of God who had been crucified. Priests and rulers trembled. Conviction and anguish seized the people. “They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Among those who listened to the disciples were devout Jews, who were sincere in their belief. The power that accompanied the words of the speaker convinced them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

 

  • “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the NAME OF JESUS Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” AA 43.1 – AA 43.2

 

On his arrival at Ephesus, Paul found twelve brethren, who, like Apollos, had been disciples of John the Baptist, and like him had gained some knowledge of the mission of Christ. They had not the ability of Apollos, but with the same sincerity and faith they were seeking to spread abroad the knowledge they had received. These brethren knew nothing of the mission of the Holy Spirit. When asked by Paul if they had received the Holy Ghost, they answered, “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” “Unto what then were ye baptized?” Paul inquired, and they said, “Unto John’s baptism.”

 

  • Then the apostle set before them the great truths that are the foundation of the Christian’s hope. He told them of Christ’s life on this earth and of His cruel death of shame. He told them how the Lord of life had broken the barriers of the tomb and risen triumphant over death. He repeated the Saviour’s commission to His disciples: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 28:18, 19. He told them also of Christ’s promise to send the Comforter, through whose power mighty signs and wonders would be wrought, and he described how gloriously this promise had been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy the brethren listened to Paul’s words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and received Him as their Redeemer. THEY WERE THEN BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS, and as Paul “laid his hands upon them,” they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which they were enabled to speak the languages of other nations and to prophesy. Thus they were qualified to labor as missionaries in Ephesus and its vicinity and also to go forth to proclaim the gospel in Asia Minor. AA 282.1 – AA 283.1

 

Said the angel, “Jesus has nearly finished His work in the sanctuary. It is no time to be stupid now. A quick work will the Lord do upon the earth. The four angels will soon let go the four winds.” Said the angel, “Beware how thou treadest enchanted ground all around the east and west, north and south. If Satan can get thee to slumber now, he is sure of his prey.” I saw that some in Israel had been half starved for food, and when the present truth was presented to them they ate it with thankfulness and gratitude like half-starved children. Said the angel, “Can ye stand in the battle in the day of the Lord? Ye need to be washed, and live in newness of life.” Then I saw that those whose hands are now engaged in making up the breach and are standing in the gaps, but that have formally since’44 broken the commandments of God and have so far followed the pope as to keep the first day instead of the seventh, would have to go down into the water and be baptized in the faith of the shut door and keeping the commandments of God, and in the faith of Jesus who is coming to sit on the throne of His father David, and to redeem Israel. I also saw that those who have been baptized as a door into the professed churches will have to be baptized out of that door again, and into the faith mentioned above; and all who have not been baptized since’44 will have to be baptized before Jesus comes, and some will not gain progress now until that duty is done, and then they must live anew unto God and serve Him faithfully. 18MR 11.4

 

Men whose lives are not holy and who are unqualified to teach the present truth enter the field without being acknowledged by the church or the brethren generally, and confusion and disunion are the result. Some have a theory of the truth, and can present the argument, but lack spirituality, judgment, and experience; they fail in many things which it is very necessary for them to understand before they can teach the truth. Others have not the argument, but because a few brethren hear them pray well and give an exciting exhortation now and then, they are pressed into the field, to engage in a work for which God has not qualified them and for which they have not sufficient experience and judgment. Spiritual pride comes in, they are lifted up, and act under the deception of thinking that they are laborers. They do not know themselves. They lack sound judgment and patient reasoning, talk boastingly of themselves, and assert many things which they cannot prove from the Word. God knows this; therefore He does not call such to labor in these perilous times, and brethren should be careful not to push those out into the field whom He has not called. EW 97.2

 

Those men who are not called of God are generally the very ones that are the most confident that they are so called and that their labors are very important. They go into the field and do not generally exert a good influence; yet in some places they have a measure of success, and this leads them and others to think that they are surely called of God. It is not a positive evidence that men are called of God because they have some success; for angels of God are now moving upon the hearts of His honest children to enlighten their understanding as to the present truth, that they may lay hold upon it and live. And even if self-sent men put themselves where God does not put them and profess to be teachers, and souls receive the truth by hearing them talk it, this is no evidence that they are called of God. The souls who receive the truth from them receive it to be brought into trial and bondage, as they afterward find that these men were not standing in the counsel of God. Even if wicked men talk the truth, some may receive it; but it does not bring those who talked it into any more favor with God. Wicked men are wicked men still, and according to the deception they practiced upon those who were beloved of God, and according to the confusion brought into the church, so will be their punishment; their sins will not remain covered, but will be exposed in the day of God’s fierce anger. EW 98.1

 

These self-sent messengers are a curse to the cause. Honest souls put confidence in them, thinking that they are moving in the counsel of God and that they are in union with the church, and therefore suffer them to administer the ordinances, and, as duty is made plain that they must do their first works, allow themselves to be baptized by them. But when light comes, as it surely will, and they are aware that these men are not what they understood them to be, God’s called and chosen messengers, they are thrown into trial and doubt as to the truth they have received and feel that they must learn it all over again; they are troubled and perplexed by the enemy about all their experience, whether God has led them or not, and are not satisfied until they are again baptized and begin anew. It is much more wearing to the spirits of God’s messengers to go into places where those have been who have exerted this wrong influence than to enter new fields. God’s servants have to deal plainly, act openly, and not cover up wrongs; for they are standing between the living and the dead and must render an account of their faithfulness, their mission, and the influence they exert over the flock of which the Lord has made them overseers. EW 99.1

 

  1. We are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Matt.28:19. By this we express our belief in the existence of the one true God, the mediation of his Son, and the influence of the Holy Spirit. {1858 UrS, BSA 21.7}

 

Because it is said in Acts 2:38; 8:16, and 19:5, that they were baptized in the name of Jesus, some have inferred that the apostles baptized in the name of Christ only. But this conclusion is very lame. To discover the fallacy of this idea, it will only be necessary to examine the terms of the commission under which they acted. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.2}

 

  1. The Saviour told them to teach all nations, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.3}

 

  1. He commanded them to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. They were neither to preach nor to baptize until the Holy Ghost came upon them. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.4}

 

  1. The promised power came upon them on the day of Pentecost; and on that day was preached the first sermon after the great commission was given. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.5}

 

  1. If they did not baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, they did not obey their Lord’s commandment–they did not fulfill the commission under which they acted and by which alone they had authority to baptize. We trust none will be willing to risk such a conclusion as this. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.6}

 

If the record in Acts was the only evidence in the case, the omission of the names of the Father and of the Holy Ghost might be taken as decisive. But knowing that they were acting under a commission, the specific terms of which required the use of the three sacred names, the case appears quite different. {1878 JHW, TOB 63.1}

 

When we consider the prejudice which existed among the Jews against the person and the name of Jesus, we see good reason why his name should be presented with peculiar emphasis to them, for no such prejudice existed against the names of the Father and the Holy Spirit. But to conclude thence that they did not obey their Lord’s commandment–that they did not fulfill their commission to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost–is more than the inspired record will warrant. {1878 JHW, TOB 63.2}

 

Thoughts on Baptism

BY ELD. J. H. WAGGONER

 Many are ready to justify the differences of opinion which exist in regard to Scripture truth, while they deplore and condemn the controversies which are the necessary result of such differences. Every conscientious person will endeavor to spread the views which he holds, as long as he considers them connected with the will and glory of God, and the well-being of his fellow-men. These differences show that error prevails, and as it may be with ourselves, we should never refuse to bring our faith to the test of examination by the light of the word of God, ever remembering that it is the truth alone which can sanctify us. John 17:17. {1878 JHW, TOB 10.2}

 

WHAT IS BAPTISM?

It is often claimed that words, when used in the Scriptures, have a different meaning from that which they have when used elsewhere, and this claim is especially made in regard to the word baptizein, the Greek infinitive to baptize. Our understanding of language is gained only through our knowledge of the meaning of its terms. If these are not clearly defined, then we can have no clear understanding of the language. If words in the Bible do not have the meaning which is established by usage and given in the lexicons of the languages in which they were written, then it follows evidently that we cannot understand the things which are professedly revealed unless we have a special lexicon to give these unusual meanings of the words. Such a claim really destroys the efficiency and sufficiency of the word of God as a revelation. By connection with a certain doctrine or ordinance, a term may come to have a technical or restricted application, but its meaning is not thereby changed. {1878 JHW, TOB 11.1}

 

When spoken in Christian lands, and especially in discussions of the Scriptures, the mind at once turns to the ordinance of Christian baptism. But in the phrase, “Christian baptism,” we have added to the word baptism all that we have associated in our minds with the act or thing as a Christian ordinance. Of course, association attaches much that is foreign to the simple meaning of the term to it. When searching for the meaning of a term we ought to free it from all such associations or foreign elements. In this case the word had an established meaning before it was used to designate a Christian ordinance. And if the ordinance was not made to conform to the meaning of the word, then the word so used did not convey a correct idea to the mind of the hearer or reader; and such a use would be well calculated to create confusion. {1878 JHW, TOB 12.1}

 

We cannot suppose that the Institutor of the ordinance designed to be obscure in his directions for the discharge of a gospel duty. Then the question arises, Was there any word in use in our Saviour’s time which would specify any particular action in the administration of this ordinance? We answer, There was; and such a word was chosen by him; one having an established and unmistakably definite signification. {1878 JHW, TOB 13.1}

 

It should be borne in mind that it is not safe to trust to modern dictionaries for the meaning of words adopted from other languages. They aim to give the signification of words as they are now used. And here it is proper to remark that usage takes precedence of the lexicon as authority. When use has established the meaning of a term, the dictionary gives that meaning. A dictionary cannot make meanings. It is a standard only so far as it gives correctly the meaning established by the best usage. If we wish to ascertain the true meaning of words in other languages, we must resort to the usages and lexicons of those languages. We have an illustration of this in point. We have an old English dictionary published in Scotland in which the only definition given of baptize is “to christen.” That was the idea attached to the word at the time when, and the place where, the book was published. But insert that definition in a Scripture text, as Mark 16 or Acts 2, and it is found to be, not only erroneous but, ridiculous. {1878 JHW, TOB 13.2}

 

Again, we should never try to settle the meaning of the word by our ideas of the intention of the ordinance. The intention of ordinances is always more or less a subject of controversy; and the occasion of controversy is increased by confusion in regard to the meaning of the terms used. We do not learn the meaning of words by the intention of ordinances; but we learn, rather, what the ordinance is by the meaning of the words which define it. {1878 JHW, TOB 13.3}

 

There are eight words in the Greek of the New Testament referring to the several actions which are supposed to be admissible in the administration of the ordinance of baptism. These are,– {1878 JHW, TOB 14.1}

 

  1. Baptizo. This word is never translated in the Authorized Version, that is, in our Bible, commonly known as King James’ Translation. It always appears under its anglicized form, baptize. We pass this for the present to briefly consider the others. {1878 JHW, TOB 14.2}

 

  1. Rantizo. This word is used six times in the New Testament and is translated sprinkle every time. It has no other meaning. It is found in Heb. 9:13, 19, 21; 10:22; 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2. {1878 JHW, TOB 14.3}

 

  1. Proschusis. This occurs but once in the New Testament, Heb. 11:28, rendered sprinkling. The lexicons give it the definitions of pouring upon, and sprinkling. {1878 JHW, TOB 14.4}

 

  1. Ekcheo. This word is used eighteen times, and is translated pour out and shed forth. The lexicons give this definition. Ekchuno is considered a form of the same word, having the same signification, and is rendered in the same manner. It occurs ten times. {1878 JHW, TOB 14.5}

 

  1. Epicheo is used but once, Luke 10:34, and is rendered pouring in. {1878 JHW, TOB 14.6}

 

  1. Katacheo occurs twice, Matt. 26:7; Mark 14:3, and is rendered pour. {1878 JHW, TOB 15.1}

 

  1. Kerannumi (kerao) occurs three times, Rev. 14:10, and 18:6 twice. In the first-named text it is rendered poured out, and in the latter is used thus: “In the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double.” The lexicons give it the definition, to mix, mingle, or pour out, as “from one vessel to another.” {1878 JHW, TOB 15.2}

 

  1. Ballo. This word has the definition of throw or cast. It is used one hundred and twenty-five times; rendered cast, ninety times; pour out, twice, Matt. 26:12, and John 13:5. {1878 JHW, TOB 15.3}

 

Of the seven words last noticed, not one of them is ever used in referring to the ordinance of baptism. The word ekcheo is supposed to be an exception, but it is not; for the ordinance is a subject of commandment, but the baptism of the Spirit, to which the word is applied, is not a subject of precept. But this will be noticed more particularly hereafter. {1878 JHW, TOB 15.4}

 

We come now to consider the word baptizo. This is defined immerse in all the lexicons. We say, in all, for we have never seen or even heard of an exception. We might give authorities to any length in justification of this statement, but as it would only lengthen our remarks needlessly, we forbear, contenting ourselves with some quotations from Prof. Moses Stuart. We choose to offer Prof. Stuart as authority, for several reasons: 1. He occupied a prominent position in the Presbyterian denomination, and his admissions will therefore carry more weight than the claims of Baptist authors, though their testimony may be in perfect agreement. 2. His ability and learning were unquestioned; he long stood as a distinguished teacher in a theological school. 3. His writings being of recent date, he was in possession of all the advantages of the investigation on this subject, ancient and modern. Of the Greek he says: –

 

  • “Bapto and baptizo mean to dip, plunge, or immerge into anything liquid. All lexicographers and critics of any note are agreed in this. My proof of this position, then, need not necessarily be protracted; but for the sake of ample confirmation, I must beg the reader’s patience while I lay before him, as briefly as may be, the results of an investigation which seems to leave no room for doubt.” {1878 JHW, TOB 16.1}

 

WASHING AND BAPTIZING

It has been said, and often said, that Scripture usage shows that wash is the equivalent of baptize; and as washing may be performed by various methods, so may baptizing. The fallacy of this is easily shown. {1878 JHW, TOB 23.1}

 

In 2 Kings we find the commandment of Elisha, given to the Syrian, to “wash in Jordan;” and accordingly he “dipped himself in Jordan.” Where the preposition is thus used,–in Jordan,–the mind is naturally led to dipping as the method of washing. But washing may be performed by other methods, or without dipping; therefore washing and dipping are not equivalents. Washing designates neither dipping nor pouring, but may include both. Thus in signification it materially differs from either. Washing indicates an action; dipping or immersing indicates a method of action. The latter is specific; the former is not. The latter is always used in reference to the gospel ordinance; the former is never so used. There is no necessity for mistake in this matter. {1878 JHW, TOB 23.2}

 

But the objection is based chiefly on Mark 7:

 

“And when they come from the market, except they wash [ baptisôntai ], they cat not. And many other things there be which they have received to hold, as the washing [baptismous] of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables,” or couches. {1878 JHW, TOB 24.1}

 

Here it is assumed that baptism is used where immersion is, at least, improbable. The reader will be interested in the following extracts from Clarke’s comment on the text:– {1878 JHW, TOB 24.2}

 

“Except they wash] or dip; for may mean either. But instead of the word in the text, the famous Codex Vaticanus, (B) eight others, Euthymius, have , sprinkle. However, the Jews sometimes washed their hands previously to their eating; at other times, they simply dipped or plunged them into the water.” {1878 JHW, TOB 24.3}

 

“And of tables] Beds, couches– . This is wanting in BL, two others, and the Coptic. It is likely it means no more than the forms or seats, on which they sat. A bed or couch was defiled if any unclean person sat or leaned on it,–a man with an issue, a leper, a woman with child , etc. As the word , baptisms, is applied to all these, and as it is contended that this word, and the verb whence it is derived, signify dipping or immersion alone, its use in the above cases refutes that opinion, and shows that it was used, not only to express dipping or immersion, but also sprinkling and washing. The cups and pots were washed; the beds and forms perhaps sprinkled; and the hands dipped up to the wrist.” {1878 JHW, TOB 24.4}

 

This is the most that can possibly be said on that side of the question. It would have been well for his opinion if facts would have permitted him to say more than “perhaps sprinkled.” More than a “perhaps” should be inquired for by every one who seeks a “full assurance of faith.” Heb. 10:22. On this subject we have “the law,” which settles all controversies. {1878 JHW, TOB 25.1}

 

DIP AND SPRINKLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Inasmuch as the advocates of sprinkling endeavor to bring the Old Testament to their aid, by citing to those passages which state that water or blood was required to be sprinkled on certain things, it may be of use, certainly it will be of interest, to inquire whether the language of the Old Testament is definite in its distinctions between the two actions; whether immersion and sprinkling are so separated that one cannot, in its language, be mistaken for the other. We affirm that the order to sprinkle the blood on the mercy-seat would not have been obeyed if the priest had immersed the mercy-seat in blood. It was no mere chance by which the apostle spoke of the blood of rhantismos, instead of the blood of baptismos; for the former, or sprinkling of blood, was required and practiced, but the latter, baptism of blood, was unknown to the Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, except in such cases as Lev. 4:6, where the priest was required to dip his finger in blood, and sprinkle the blood before the vail. But here the two actions are clearly and necessarily distinct. So, also, it is no mere chance, but by evident design, that the rite of baptismos is so often and so definitely enjoined in the gospel, while that of rhantismos is never mentioned. But to the Old Testament terms. {1878 JHW, TOB 26.1}

 

This embraces the entire use of the Hebrew word tah-val in all its forms. In the first instance, emolunan is used in the Septuagint, which, in the New Testament, is rendered defile. This does not conflict with the meaning of the terms, as it (Joseph’s coat) might be defiled with the blood by being dipped in it. And so our version renders it. And no objection can be raised in that bapto is used instead of baptizo; for they both proceed from the same monosyllabic root, and the first meaning of bapto is to dip, or immerse, and baptizo has no other meaning. {1878 JHW, TOB 27.2}

 

This last statement has been contradicted by some authors, who have endeavored to make baptizo carry the two definitions of bapto, namely, to dip, or immerse, and to dye. The method of the last of these meanings of bapto indicates its relation to and derivation from the first meaning, as it was common to dye by dipping. Dr. Carson has very clearly proved that baptizo does not take this second meaning of bapto, but, for obvious reasons, we prefer to quote the conclusions of Prof. Stuart on this point. In examining the inquiry “whether bapto and baptizo are really synonymous, as they have often been asserted to be,” Prof. Stuart says: –

 

“Let us now inquire whether, in actual usage, baptizo has a different meaning from bapto. In particular, is it distinguished from bapto by the writers of the New Testament? {1878 JHW, TOB 28.1}

 

  • “The answer to these questions will be fully developed in the sequel. I have already intimated that baptizo is distinguished from bapto in its meaning. I now add, that it is not, like this latter word, used to designate the idea of coloring or dyeing; while in some other respects, it seems, in classical use, to be nearly or quite synonymous with bapto. In the New Testament, however, there is one other marked distinction between the use of these verbs. Baptizo and its derivatives are exclusively employed when the rite of baptism is to be designated in any form whatever; and in this case bapto seems to be purposely, as well as habitually, excluded.” {1878 JHW, TOB 28.2}

 

And in another paragraph he says: –

 

  • “The idea of plunging or immersing is common to both the words bapto and baptizo, while that of dyeing or coloring belongs only to bapto.” {1878 JHW, TOB 28.4}

 

This is worthy of the most careful consideration. Not only is every word which signifies pour or sprinkle excluded from the texts in the New Testament which speak of the rite of baptism, but a word which signifies dip or immerse, in common with baptizo, is also excluded because it has another meaning also; and a word is chosen to designate the ordinance which has the signification of immerse, and that only. Such is the remarkable precision of the Greek language used by our Saviour to designate the duty of his followers in this rite. The foregoing table plainly shows that the idea of sprinkling is not contained in the Hebrew word tah-val.  {1878 JHW, TOB 28.5}

 

There has much ado been made over the use of bapto in Dan. 4 and 5, rendered in our version, “wet with the dew of heaven.” But it is admitted by all that bapto has acquired, or secondary, meanings, which baptizo has not. And inasmuch as baptizo is always used for the ordinance, from which, as Prof. Stuart remarks, bapto is carefully excluded, we cannot see that the opponents of immersion gain anything at all on this scripture. It is scarcely an outpost of the citadel of baptism, which stands solely on the use of the word baptizo. This is the only case, however, in all the Scriptures in which even bapto carries any other signification than that of dip.  {1878 JHW, TOB 29.1}

 

Dip is once derived, in the Old Testament from the Hebrew [original illegible], mah-hhatz, which occurs fourteen times, and is rendered wound, seven times; smite, three times; pierce, twice; strike, once; and dip, once; viz., in Ps. 68:23, where the Septuagint has baphe (bapto). Its use in the latter text is peculiar, though it may stand related to its signification, as pierce does to smite. This is the entire use of the word dip in the Old Testament. {1878 JHW, TOB 29.2}

 

“In allusion to the divers washings and sprinklings of the ritual law, the Lord promised to sprinkle clean water upon his people, and to make them clean from all their filthiness and idols.” This reference is correct, as may be seen by examining a few passages. In Num. 8:7, they were commanded to “sprinkle water of purifying” upon the unclean. In chap. 19:18, it is commanded that, if any one touch the dead body of a man, he shall be unclean; “and a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave.” {1878 JHW, TOB 32.6}

 

This was for what is denominated “ceremonial uncleanness,” having no relation to moral defilement. Paul refers to it in Heb. 9:13: “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh.” It was not as an ablution to cleanse from filth, but it was figurative, ceremonial, and typical; and the gospel fact which it prefigured is stated by the apostle thus: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Verse 14. And for this reason Paul speaks of “the blood of sprinkling,” and “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” Heb. 12:24; 10:22. {1878 JHW, TOB 33.1}

 

Thus it is seen that these sprinklings of the ritual law, to which reference is made in Eze. 36:25, have no relation to any New Testament ordinance; they looked to a different object. And while that object is so definitely stated, there can be no excuse for the error of applying them to baptism in order to give countenance to sprinkling for that ordinance. The sprinkling of the conscience by the blood of Christ is declared to be their antitype, and a gospel duty is as clearly shown in connection therewith: “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb. 10:22. {1878 JHW, TOB 33.2}

 

Isa. 52:15, has been the ground of much speculation and the source of some very erroneous conclusions. Even Dr. Clarke, who approves the rendering of the Septuagint, which is quite different from our common version, asks, in brackets, “[Does not sprinkling the nations refer to the conversion and baptism of the Gentiles?]” Scott, who lets the translation stand, much more appropriately refers it to the blood of sprinkling, the same as Eze. 36:25; to the sacrifice of Christ, to which so plain reference is made in the context. But the translation cannot be defended. {1878 JHW, TOB 33.3}

 

It should be understood that there are different forms or species of every Hebrew verb; and some of these have significations peculiar to themselves, which do not belong to any other species of the same word. Gesenius gives two definitions to that form of nah-zah here used: 1. To cause to leap for joy, to exult, to make rejoice. 2. To sprinkle, e. g., water, blood, also oil, with upon or towards. He accordingly renders this text, “So shall he cause many nations to rejoice in himself.” {1878 JHW, TOB 34.1}

 

The Septuagint has thaumasontai from thaumazo, to wonder, marvel, or to admire. This very well preserves the idea of the original, and carries out the parallelism of the composition. “As many were astonished at thee, so shall he cause many to wonder or admire.” And this parallel Gesenius notices and approves, thus: “Gr., Syr., Vulg., Luth., Eng., ‘So shall he sprinkle many nations,’ see no. 2., i.e., my servant the Messiah shall make expiation for them; but this accords less with the parallel verb shah-mam.” Shah-mam is the verb used in verse 14, and means, to be astonished. {1878 JHW, TOB 34.2}

 

BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

An argument in favor of pouring is supposed to be found in this baptism, because the Spirit was poured out, or shed forth. See Acts 2. But there are two decisive difficulties in the way of this conclusion: 1. The word ekcheo is never once used in the numerous instances in the New Testament where the ordinance of baptism in water is referred to. 2. Though the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, it filled the whole room wherein the disciples were. If water were poured out into a room until the room was entirely filled, all the persons in that room would be entirely surrounded with, or submerged in, the water. And this was the case in the pouring out of the Spirit. When speaking of the Spirit the word ekcheo is used, which is defined, poured out. But when speaking of the persons the word baptizo is used, which in all the lexicons is defined, immerse. This was literally accomplished by the Spirit filling the whole room wherein they were. {1878 JHW, TOB 37.1}

 

SCRIPTURE ILLUSTRATIONS

The apostle Paul twice speaks of baptism as a burial. This expression is just according to the meaning of the word immersion. But the term is not well chosen if it is intended to represent sprinkling or pouring. It is likened to the burial and resurrection of Christ, to which the ordinance has undoubted reference. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Rom. 6:4. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Col. 2:12. The most eminent scholars, among those who advocate and practice sprinkling, have been constrained to admit that these illustrations have undoubted reference to the primitive practice of immersing in the rite of baptism. {1878 JHW, TOB 38.1}

 

INSTANCES OF BAPTISM

John baptized in the river Jordan. Christ, our pattern, was baptized in the Jordan. The record says, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.” Matt. 3:16. Alas, how many professed followers of Christ would be ashamed to go down into the water to be baptized; be ashamed to be seen coming up out of the water, as Jesus their Lord was seen! {1878 JHW, TOB 40.3}

 

“John also was baptizing in Ænon, near to Salim, because there was much water there.” John 3:23. The reason here given for baptizing in that place looks unmistakably to the same action as we find indicated in Matt. 3, baptizing in a body of water. We may safely leave it to the judgment of every reader that this reason would never be offered in favor of the modern practice of rhantism, if it can even be called that; as we recently saw a minister barely touch the ends of his fingers in water, and lay them upon the head of a child. Water was not even sprinkled upon the child. Nothing of that kind is found in the language of the New Testament. {1878 JHW, TOB 41.1}

 

The circumstances attending the baptism of the eunuch afford important evidence on this subject. First, we notice in this case the importance of baptism in the preaching of the gospel. Philip “preached unto him Jesus,” and in the same interview the eunuch desired baptism, which proves that the preaching of Jesus included preaching baptism in the ministry of the apostles and evangelists. How different was this from the teaching and preaching of many at the present day. {1878 JHW, TOB 41.2}

 

Secondly, we notice that they both went down into the water, and there Philip baptized the eunuch. And together they came up out of the water. This is not consistent with the idea of any administration but that of immersion. The only remark we find in Prof. Stuart on baptism which gives occasion to doubt his candor as a writer, is on this text. He says: –

 

  • “If katabesan eis to hudor is meant to designate the act of plunging or being immersed into the water, as a part of the rite of baptism, then was Philip baptized as well as the eunuch; for the sacred writer says that both went into the water. Here, then, must have been a rebaptism of Philip; and what is at least singular, he must have baptized himself as well as the eunuch.” {1878 JHW, TOB 42.1}

 

These remarks are entirely uncalled for by the record; they are as unworthy of the man who wrote them as of the subject on which they are written. Going down into the water is a necessary prerequisite to baptism (but not to sprinkling); but no one ever claimed or even thought that katabesan eis to hudor expresses “the action of plunging or being immersed.” We fear the idea sprung up in the mind of a theologian rather than of a critic; for almost the next sentence says “kai ebaptisen auton,” “and he baptized him.” This excludes every possibility of obscurity. {1878 JHW, TOB 42.2}

 

It is true that they both went down into the water, and this is always the case when immersion is practiced. The administrator and subject both go down into the water. But going down into the water is not and was not baptism. Does the record say they both went down into the water and were baptized? No. “They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” It is no part of candor nor of reverence for the Scriptures to raise a dust over such plain and unmistakable testimony as this. {1878 JHW, TOB 42.3}

 

A doubt has been raised about there having been sufficient water for immersion in this instance, because verse 26 speaks of the country as being “desert.” The word desert, (erçmos)  does not necessarily mean a dry, barren place, destitute of water or vegetation, as may be supposed, but a solitary, uninhabited region. See Greenfield, and compare Matt. 14:13, 15, 19. This scripture says they were in “a desert place apart,” and because it was desert, and the day was passing, the disciples requested Jesus to send away the multitude that they might go into the villages and procure food. But he commanded the multitude to “sit down on the grass” and he fed them there. So far the point is proved. In the case in question, Acts 8, they came to standing water, as is indicated by the sudden exclamation of the eunuch,–“See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Travelers who have passed “from Jerusalem to Gaza,” say there were springs and pools on the route quite sufficient for the purpose. {1878 JHW, TOB 42.4}

 

“The Bourdeaux Pilgrim, less than three hundred years after the event [a. d. 333], described with care its situation. His note is (as he advances from Bethlehem): ‘Thence to Bethazsora is fourteen miles, where is the fountain in which Philip baptized the eunuch. Thence to the oak where Abraham dwelt, is nine miles. Thence to Hebron is two miles.’ Eusebius, on the word Bethsur, has the following note: ‘Bethsur of the tribe of Judah or Benjamin. There is also now a village Bethsoron, twenty miles distant from Jerusalem toward Hebron, where also a fountain issuing from a mountain is shown, in which the eunuch of Candace is said to have been baptized by Philip.’ Jerome in like manner says on the same word: ‘Bethsur in the tribe of Judah or Benjamin. And there is at this day a village Bethsoron, to us going from Jerusalem to Hebron, at the twentieth milestone; near which a fountain, boiling up at the foot of a mountain, is absorbed by the same soil from which it springs, and the Acts of the Apostles record that the eunuch of Queen Candace was baptized in this by Philip.'” {1878 JHW, TOB 43.1}

 

ONE BAPTISM OR THREE BAPTISMS

There are those who affirm that three immersions (“trine immersion”) are necessary to the full consummation of the ordinance; and they are accustomed to refer, with great confidence, to the practice of certain people or churches, as proving the correctness of their views. We have no regard whatever for the practice of churches, except wherein they conform to the specified requirements of the sacred word. Neither age nor popular consent gives warrant to error. Our inquiry is not, What has been practiced? but, What is truth? We care nothing for what people have done, but for what they ought to have done. We know that many grievous errors were brought into the church at a very early age. But we have no more confidence in, or respect for, a practice or an institution which can be traced to the darkness of the third century, than if it could be traced only to the fifteenth century. “What say the Scriptures?” is our sole inquiry. {1878 JHW, TOB 46.6}

 

But it is urged thus: “The Greek Church practice trine immersion, and we ought to give place to them in the understanding of their own language.” We reply to this, There is no mention of trine immersion in the Greek of the New Testament. There is a commandment to be baptized (âáðôéóçôù) and the Greeks, in obedience to this precept, are immersed. So far we safely trust their knowledge of the Greek tongue. But the Greek also says, Eph. 4:5, there is one baptism ([original illegible] âáðôéóìá), and if they depart from this and practice three baptisms, then they depart from the text of their own language, and we may not follow them. For trine immersion is nothing else but three baptisms, as the following will show: –

 

  1. They who practice trine immersion never sprinkle; they agree with us that the Greek word is properly translated immerse; and therefore we are agreed that baptism is equivalent to immersion. Hence, if Eph. 4:5, were translated throughout, it would read, “One Lord, one faith, one immersion.” Therefore their system is clearly contrary to this scripture; for they really have three baptisms. To reply, as they always do, that they have one baptism with three immersions, is only to contradict their own avowed faith, that baptism is immersion. For if baptism is properly translated immersion, then the expression, “one baptism with three immersions,” is as much of a paradox as if they said, one baptism with three baptisms, or one immersion with three immersions. This is certainly so, unless we admit that baptism is not identical with immersion. But if we do this we concede the entire ground, and the question of mode has yet to be settled; that is, it will remain to be proved that immersion, and that only, is baptism. {1878 JHW, TOB 47.2}

 

  1. It does not appear reasonable that three baptisms are required because there are three names given in the commission. That view involves too much separation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even in commercial transactions, anything done by an agent for a firm of three parties is done once for them all; as a debt of one thousand dollars could not be collected three times, once for each one of the firm, if one thousand were the sum specified. But the union of a firm in business comes far short of representing the unity existing between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and one baptism is the specified requirement. {1878 JHW, TOB 48.1}

 

  1. It is not correct to claim that the ellipses of the language of the commission can only he supplied by the reading, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and baptizing them in the name of the Son, and baptizing them in the name of the Holy Ghost.” It is against the facts of Scripture and the analogies of language. Separately baptizing in each name is three baptisms, and it cannot be denied. As to analogy, we read that Jesus will come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and in that of the holy angels. Their method of argument would make it read thus: “When he shall come (once) in his own glory, and come (twice) in the glory of his Father, and come (three times coming) in the glory of the holy angels.” But that is not the truth. It is but one coming in the three-fold glory. {1878 JHW, TOB 48.2}

 

There is full better reason to affirm on Ex. 3:6, that there are three Gods,–“the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” There is a just difference between the use and the abuse of language, and all should recognize it. {1878 JHW, TOB 49.1}

 

  1. But, again, their practice is not consistent with their theory. They insist that three immersions are necessary to one baptism. Then if we read the commission as they do, and apply the definition of baptism as they claim it, it will stand thus: baptizing them (thrice immersing) in the name of the Father, and baptizing them (thrice immersing) in the name of the Son, and baptizing them (thrice immersing) in the name of the Holy Ghost. And thus nine immersions are necessary to fulfill the commission! They cannot possibly avoid this conclusion unless they acknowledge that they properly and truly baptize in each name by one immersion in each name, which is to say that one baptism is truly administered by one immersion, which is fatal to their theory. {1878 JHW, TOB 49.2}

 

  1. Heb. 6:2, is quoted by them (“doctrine of baptisms”) as proof that there is a plurality of baptisms. But if this is proof in point, why do they deny that they practice three baptisms? and what is the necessity for their inventing the paradoxical expression of “one baptism of three immersions”? The text quoted is truth, but not in the sense in which they take it. The Scriptures speak of one baptism of water and one baptism of the Spirit. To admit of three of one kind most surely contradicts Eph. 4:5. Whether Eph. 4:5, speaks of the baptism of water or of the Spirit, it certainly proves that there is but one of the kind of which it speaks. {1878 JHW, TOB 49.3}

 

  1. Paul, in Rom. 6:3, says we are baptized into the death of Christ, or planted in the Zlikeness of his death. 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, says that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. This is the order. And that it is this to which the apostle refers in Rom. 6:1-3, is plain, for he gives our baptism or burial as proof that we are dead; he makes death (very properly) precede the burial. We inquire, then, Did Christ die three times? We insist that he died as often as he was buried. And if we are buried three times, we are not planted in the likeness of his death; for he died and was buried but once. This is decisive on the subject. {1878 JHW, TOB 50.1}

 

Whether a person should be buried face downward, as the trine immersionists baptize, may be, perhaps, a matter of taste, but we think no such method of burial was ever known. One author says we cannot safely appeal to custom in this matter, because the Romans cremated or burned the dead, instead of burying them! But the Saviour was not cremated, nor was this a custom with the Jews. Could it be shown that Jesus was laid in the grave face downward, there would be some show of reason for that practice. But we do not think he was; nor do we think burial in that manner is at all seemly, and we shall ever follow that which appears to be a more proper way. {1878 JHW, TOB 50.2}

 

NON-BAPTISM OF THE FRIENDS, OR QUAKERS

While noticing prevailing errors on the subject of baptism, we must briefly notice that of the Friends, who ignore the rite altogether. This error is not so much founded on a misconstruction or false exhibition of particular texts, as on the adoption of a false principle, which is applied, professedly, to all that pertains to Christianity. We say professedly, for actually they come far short of uniformly applying the principle. {1878 JHW, TOB 53.1}

 

They profess to believe that all true worship is internal, and that the only baptism required is that of the Spirit. Outward forms or externals they regard as being vain, or as carnal substitutes for the internal and the true. Therefore they entirely discard the Sabbath, the Lord’s supper, and baptism. They might, we think, with equal propriety, discard public assemblies for worship, and audible prayer. While they reject that which is plainly commanded because it is outward and seen, with a strange inconsistency they attach great importance to a particular phraseology of speech, and even to the cut of a coat or the fashion of a bonnet. They chide us (kindly, it is true) for not using the same forms of speech used by the Saviour, as thee instead of you, seeming not to understand that neither of these forms was used by the Saviour, because he did not speak the English language. {1878 JHW, TOB 53.2}

 

A correct translation into any language at a certain time is a translation according to the proper usage of that language at that time. The present method of speaking the English language gives as correct a rendering from the Greek as the form used two or three centuries ago. For a people to plead for either in preference to the other, while they discard explicit precepts given by the Saviour, is like tithing mint and cummin, and omitting the weightier matters of the law. {1878 JHW, TOB 54.1}

 

Usage and association have caused us to regard the English language as it was spoken three centuries ago, as the sacred style, only because the sacred Scriptures were given to us by translation into that style. It would seem now to be quite irreverent to address the throne of grace in modern English, or in the form of speech commonly used in addressing our fellow-mortals. But if our reverence is fostered by such a discrimination in forms of address, it is proportionally decreased by addressing our fellows in the more solemn style now specially appropriated to devotion. One no more than the other gives the form used by our Saviour; but one is by custom or usage only, adapted to devotion, while the other, being the present form of the language, is properly used in every-day life. {1878 JHW, TOB 54.2}

 

We are led to make these remarks on the views of the Friends, as it seems necessary to understand their method of applying the principle which they have adopted. {1878 JHW, TOB 54.3}

 

Every principle which conflicts with the plain testimony of the divine word is of a surety a false one. Applied to the subject of the Lord’s supper, their principle must be disapproved. The Saviour commanded his disciples to drink the fruit of the vine and eat the bread in remembrance of him. Luke 22:17-20. Paul corrected abuses of the ordinance, and further explained its use, showing that it should continue till our Lord comes again. 1 Cor. 11:23-26. A principle must be false by which a duty so plainly enjoined is rejected. No matter how much is claimed for spirituality in worship, there is neither spirituality nor worship in disobedience. As if man could better understand what is pleasing in the sight of God than we can learn from his word, which is given as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.–“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” John 17:17. Thus our Saviour prayed to his Father. The closer we cling to the word, the more perfectly we walk in the truth. The more perfect our obedience to his commandments, the greater our sanctity. 1 Pet. 1:22; John 14:15; 1 John 5:3. {1878 JHW, TOB 54.4}

 

As in regard to the Lord’s supper, so we reason in regard to baptism. Our Saviour commanded it, and his apostles taught and practiced it. The assertion that the baptism of the Spirit is the baptism required in their teachings does not at all meet the case, for both Christ and his apostles commanded baptism. But the baptism of the Spirit is a blessing promised and to be received; while baptism in water is a duty commanded and to be performed. This truth is evident to every reader of the Bible. The Spirit is called “the Holy Spirit of promise,” because it is purely a matter of promise, and is distinguished, not only in this reason, but by direct Scripture proofs, from baptism in water, which is a matter of precept.  {1878 JHW, TOB 55.1}

 

The Saviour, in his commission to his disciples, enjoined baptism. The first sermon under this commission, as we argue elsewhere, is recorded in Acts 2. In this sermon, baptism is made a condition of the promise of the Spirit. “The gift of the Holy Ghost” is the blessing promised; repentance and baptism are the duties commanded in order to receive the blessing of the promise. Here is a relation of the two which cannot be ignored without ignoring the commission and its fulfillment, and thereby ignoring the authority of our divine Lord. {1878 JHW, TOB 56.1}

 

Philip the evangelist went and joined himself to the chariot of the eunuch by special direction of the Spirit of God. Acts 8. What he said and did was by the inspiration of the Spirit. Having preached Jesus to the eunuch, on their coming to water the eunuch requested baptism. Philip must have preached baptism in the preaching of Jesus. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. And the Spirit, under whose direction Philip had baptized the eunuch, caught him away that the eunuch saw him no more; and the eunuch went his way rejoicing. {1878 JHW, TOB 56.2}

 

Peter, also by special direction of the Lord, went to the house of Cornelius. An angel told Cornelius to send for Peter, saying to him, “He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.” Peter preached the gospel to all those assembled, and they believed, and the Spirit fell upon them, even as it had fallen upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Then Peter said: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” In this instance the heavenly messenger referred to what Peter would tell him as something which he ought to do. And Peter commanded him to be baptized. That which he ought to do was to be baptized in water, for so Peter said, and the baptism of the Spirit they had already received. Peter, under inspiration and the direction of Heaven, did not tell them that the baptism of the Spirit was all that was necessary, but gave the receiving of this as proof of the propriety of their being baptized in water. {1878 JHW, TOB 56.3}

 

Paul came to Ephesus and found certain disciples who had not been properly instructed in the doctrine of the gospel, who had not received the Holy Ghost. Under his teaching and by his commandment they were baptized; and after they were baptized, Paul laid his hands upon them and the Holy Ghost came upon them. Here this inspired apostle, by whose interposition the Holy Ghost came upon them, required them to be baptized before he laid his hands upon them. The order, in relation to the duty and the gift, here followed, is that laid down by Peter in Acts 2:38, 39. {1878 JHW, TOB 57.1}

 

We have now presented five points of Scripture, each plain and positive in its teachings, which show that the apostles, acting under the inspiration of the Spirit, taught and practiced water baptism, and Jesus commanded them so to do. They who reject baptism in water, reject the counsel of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, as shown in the teachings and actions of the Lord and his apostles. The wisdom of such in this respect is not according to the word of the Lord, and therefore cannot be from above. {1878 JHW, TOB 57.2}

 

Of this class we say, as of the one last referred to, By a staid and quiet demeanor they have generally won the respect of their acquaintances. But no amount of pious bearing will excuse a departure from the plain requirements of the Scriptures. Our Saviour said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” No matter how great the appearance of sanctity, it is quite possible to make all our worship vain by making void the commandments of God by human traditions, or by walking according to the doctrines of men contrary to the precepts of the Scriptures. {1878 JHW, TOB 58.1}

 

THE BAPTISM OF JOHN

There has been much questioning in regard to the relation of John’s baptism to the gospel, –whether or not it was gospel baptism. It may not be of much importance, having but little practical bearing on present duty, but a brief notice of it may not be out of place. Our opinion is, that there is not so much difference between the baptism of John and that of the disciples of Jesus as is generally supposed. {1878 JHW, TOB 58.2}

 

Speaking of “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Mark commences with the baptism of John, and the proclamation of John was identical with the first proclamation of Jesus. John said, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Matt. 3:2. The Saviour’s first preaching was this: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15. John said he preached the baptism of repentance, and faith in him that was to come, that was, Christ. The first sermon after the resurrection of Christ was of repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus. It appears that the whole period from the beginning of the preaching of John until the time when the apostles turned to the Gentiles, about three and a half years after the death of Christ, was one of transition from one dispensation to the full establishing of the other. The two dispensations were for a time interwoven, as the following will show. {1878 JHW, TOB 58.3}

 

Jesus and his apostles preached the gospel, and their baptism was certainly gospel baptism. But Jesus, when he healed a certain person, commanded him to show himself to the priests and to offer the offering required by the law of Moses. And thus he recognized the validity of that law of the Levitical dispensation at that time. And the apostles were not permitted to preach to the Gentiles, even after the death of Christ, until they had offered the gospel to the Jews, or until the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 were fulfilled. Yet the New Testament was ratified by the death of Christ, Heb. 9:15-17; and the rites of the Levitical law were taken out of the way by his death, being nailed to the cross. Col. 2:14. {1878 JHW, TOB 59.1}

 

  • Acts 19 does not afford so clear proof that they who were baptized unto John’s baptism were again baptized by the apostles as has been supposed by many. This was an unusual case, according to the record. On being questioned by Paul they said, “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” They had not been baptized by John, but by some of his followers, and they had not been instructed as John instructed those who came to him for baptism. Matt. 3:11. Thus it appears that they were not even well-instructed disciples of John, and it seemed just and necessary that the apostle should commence with them as novices. {1878 JHW, TOB 59.2}

 

But this instance does present satisfactory proof that it is right to re-baptize those who have not met the requirements of the gospel rite in their first baptism. Of this we may speak more particularly hereafter. Intimately connected with this subject is:

 

THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST

We do not by this mean that baptism which was taught or administered by Christ, as in the case of John, but that which he received at the hands of John in Jordan. On this also there has been much conjecture. IT IS MOSTLY SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN MERELY FOR AN EXAMPLE. JESUS TRULY WAS OUR EXAMPLE; BUT WE THINK HIS BAPTISM HAS A SIGNIFICANCE BEYOND THAT OF MERE EXAMPLE. And here again, if John’s baptism was so essentially different from that of the gospel as most people suppose, his example under one would carry no weight in favor of obedience to the other. To this point we would call particular attention. {1878 JHW, TOB 60.2}

 

  • Christ was not our example merely, but he came into the world to be our substitute and our sacrifice. They who deny (as some do) the sub-stitutionary or vicarious nature of the work of Christ, set aside the efficiency of his work unto our salvation. His suffering for us was not altogether on the cross; his whole life was one of trial, of temptation, and of affliction. In the garden his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; but an angel strengthened him that he might not then sink under the heavy burden of suffering. When Paul said, “He hath made him to be sin for us,” he evidently meant he was made to occupy our position, or be a partaker of our condition. And again when he said, “He was made under the law,” he must have meant that he was subjected to our condemnation; the apostle’s argument on the need and work of justification shows that this expression–under the law–signifies under its condemnation. He was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. NOT UNDER OBLIGATION TO THE LAW, AS SOME VAINLY URGE, FOR THAT CONDITION DOES NOT CALL FOR REDEMPTION. ADAM WAS SUBJECT TO THE LAW BEFORE HE FELL, BUT NOT A SUBJECT FOR REDEMPTION. It is a sinful condition, or being condemned by the law, which calls for redemption. It is evident that Christ was “made under the law” in this sense: as “the wages of sin is death;” he was “made sin for us,” to fall under death for our sakes… {1878 JHW, TOB 60.3}

 

There is a wonderful significance in his baptism which seems to be entirely lost if we lose sight of this momentous truth. “He bore our sins;” he acted and suffered as our substitute–in our stead. They who pervert or lightly esteem baptism, must lightly esteem the sufferings and the cross of Christ, as well as his example. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.1}

 

BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

Because it is said in Acts 2:38; 8:16, and 19:5, that they were baptized in the name of Jesus, some have inferred that the apostles baptized in the name of Christ only. But this conclusion is very lame. To discover the fallacy of this idea, it will only be necessary to examine the terms of the commission under which they acted. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.2}

 

  1. The Saviour told them to teach all nations, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.3}

 

  1. He commanded them to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. They were neither to preach nor to baptize until the Holy Ghost came upon them. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.4}

 

  1. The promised power came upon them on the day of Pentecost; and on that day was preached the first sermon after the great commission was given. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.5}

 

  1. If they did not baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, they did not obey their Lord’s commandment–they did not fulfill the commission under which they acted and by which alone they had authority to baptize. We trust none will be willing to risk such a conclusion as this. {1878 JHW, TOB 62.6}

 

If the record in Acts was the only evidence in the case, the omission of the names of the Father and of the Holy Ghost might be taken as decisive. But knowing that they were acting under a commission, the specific terms of which required the use of the three sacred names, the case appears quite different. {1878 JHW, TOB 63.1}

 

When we consider the prejudice which existed among the Jews against the person and the name of Jesus, we see good reason why his name should be presented with peculiar emphasis to them, for no such prejudice existed against the names of the Father and the Holy Spirit. But to conclude thence that they did not obey their Lord’s commandment–that they did not fulfill their commission to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost–is more than the inspired record will warrant. {1878 JHW, TOB 63.2}

 

THE COMMISSION STILL IN FORCE

There is a large number of persons who appear to be zealous for the rite of baptism, in regard to both its form and its subjects, who yet, to avoid the evidence of the continuous direct presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, affirm that the commission of Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15-18, was given to the apostles alone and expired with them. But this affirmation places its advocates in a very unenviable and inconsistent position. That commission was the authority by which the apostles baptized; and if the commission has expired, there remains no authority to administer the rite of baptism. It will not then do to say, as they say, that we must follow the example of the apostles in this; for the example of the apostles, when they acted under a special commission given only to them, gives no warrant to others, who never received the commission, to follow in the same action after the commission has expired. Such a course would indicate the boldest assumption of authority under any government. {1878 JHW, TOB 63.3}

 

BAPTISM IS NOT CIRCUMCISION

Baptism has, by very many, been considered the antitype of circumcision, or as filling the same place in the New Testament that circumcision did in the Old. Popular theories have been projected on this hypothesis, and Dr. Clarke incautiously says, It has never been proved that baptism does not supply the place of circumcision. That is not the correct method of viewing the argument. The question is this, Has it ever been proved that baptism is in the place of circumcision? We know it has been inferred, it has been supposed, it has been asserted; but it has not been proved. If the negative could not be proved, that would not be conclusive evidence that the affirmative is true. But in this case it is easy to prove that baptism is not the circumcision of the New Testament by showing what is that circumcision. {1878 JHW, TOB 65.1}

 

In Rom. 2:29, it is said circumcision is that of the heart; in the Spirit, and not in the letter. In chapter 4:11, circumcision is called both a sign and a seal, which, indeed, are the same thing. Eph. 1:13, 14, says, “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” When circumcisioin was first given to Abraham, it was called the token of the covenant, in which the promise was made that he should inherit the land. Gen. 17:11. Token is the same as earnest or assurance; equivalent also to sign or seal. Eph. 1:13, but confirms Rom. 2:29;–circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit. And this is further confirmed by Eph. 4:30: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Also by 2 Cor. 1:22: “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” {1878 JHW, TOB 65.2}

 

The Lord said to Abraham that the uncircumcised man child should be cut off; he had no part in the covenant, because he had not the seal or token of the covenant. Even so, we are told in Rom. 8:9, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” He has no part in the new covenant because he has not the seal of the Spirit–the circumcision of the heart, which is the seal of the new covenant. This is a point of the utmost importance, involving our relation to the covenant of grace. And there is this difference under the arrangements of the two covenants: under the first, circumcision related to the men children; but under the second, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female;” that is, no such distinctions are recognized in the provisions of the gospel, but “ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” All classes, all nationalities, must alike receive the circumcision of the heart, and are all, in Christ, “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal. 3:28, 29. {1878 JHW, TOB 66.1}

 

There is yet further proof on this point. It has been inferred from the close connection of the statements in Col. 2:11, 12, that baptism is shown to be circumcision, but the proof is decisively to the contrary. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” But baptism is administered by hands, as entirely as was circumcision under the old covenant. {1878 JHW, TOB 67.1}

 

Rom. 2:28 says, “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh.” This exactly corresponds to the evidence already presented, that circumcision or the seal is that of the Spirit–of the heart. But baptism is an outward ordinance, and therefore cannot be that circumcision which is not outward; and such is the circumcision of the New Testament. {1878 JHW, TOB 67.2}

 

Thinking to relieve themselves of this difficulty, the advocates of that theory say that baptism serves now, as circumcision did then, as “an outward sign of inward grace.” But this is really no relief at all; it makes baptism fulfill the place of circumcision, the very thing which Paul says it does not, he showing that something else does take its place. That statement is very incautiously and imprudently made. {1878 JHW, TOB 67.3}

 

The Abrahamic covenant, identical with the gospel, ran parallel with the first covenant made with Israel. There was no salvation in the covenant with Israel, only as it led to faith in the offerings and promises of the Abrahamic covenant. Heb. 9:8–12; 10:4. “Circumcision of the heart” was taught in the law and the prophets, see Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4, etc., because it was their object to direct to the faith and blessings of the new covenant. Of this, outward circumcision was the sign. But Paul shows that there is no such outward sign now; circumcision of the heart, the antitype, alone remains. {1878 JHW, TOB 67.4}

 

To baptism is never ascribed the place, nor is it given any of the titles, which the Scriptures apply to typical circumcision. They who give it such place and titles commit two errors; they assign to it that which the Scriptures never assign to it, and destroy the distinctions which exist between the two covenants in regard to the sign or seal, as shown by Paul. {1878 JHW, TOB 68.1}

 

  • This theory that baptism occupies in the new covenant the place which circumcision occupied in the old, was invented to uphold the doctrine of infant baptism. It is a pity that first impressions are so strong in any, that, while they renounce infant baptism, they are slow to renounce the means which have been devised for its support. {1878 JHW, TOB 68.2}

 

SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM

The saying is very old–“There are two sides to every question,” and no one will contradict it. But when we come to examine the two sides, we find that they resolve themselves into a right side and a wrong side. There cannot be two sides equally right to any question. {1878 JHW, TOB 68.3}

 

We have said, and firmly believe, that in Biblical questions, the path of safety lies in keeping as strictly as possible to the exact terms of the Scriptures. But besides those who adhere to this principle and rest only on evidence positive or direct, there is, unfortunately, another class who place strong reliance upon that which is suppositive or inferential. Few Bible doctrines are difficult to understand if we confine ourselves to that which is revealed. They become difficult, and the ground of confusion, when inference takes the place of statement.  {1878 JHW, TOB 68.4}

 

In regard to the subjects of baptism, we have some plain, undeniable statements in the Scriptures: –

 

  1. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Belief is here presented as preceding and prerequisite to baptism. Over this text there is no chance for dispute. {1878 JHW, TOB 69.2}

 

  1. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized” Here repentance also precedes and is prerequisite to baptism. With so plain a statement, denial is impossible. {1878 JHW, TOB 69.3}

 

No text of Scripture is to be taken alone when others speak on the same subject. The two here quoted, one in the great commission and the other in its fulfillment, agree in their testimony, and they teach us that,– {1878 JHW, TOB 69.4}

 

  1. Penitent believers are proper subjects of baptism. {1878 JHW, TOB 69.5}

 

But the texts quoted are given in an authoritative manner, and come with the power of a precept or law; and therefore we learn from them that,– {1878 JHW, TOB 69.6}

 

  1. The requirement of baptism is a commandment; it is presented as a duty to be performed. Of course to be performed by the parties to whom reference is made,–penitent believers. {1878 JHW, TOB 69.7}

 

Thus far we stand on safe ground. The testimony challenges the approval of every reader. No one can, with the least show of reason or of reverence for the Scriptures, say that baptism is not a duty to those who believe the gospel; or that baptism is not a duty to those who repent; or that baptism is not a precept, and does not demand obedience. No one dares to assume these positions. {1878 JHW, TOB 70.1}

 

But now comes a class of persons who say they do not deny these statements; they only go beyond them and insist that baptism is appropriately administered also to those who cannot believe, who cannot repent, and who cannot obey a precept. No direct or positive evidence is offered in favor of these positions; and we are called upon to examine whether the suppositions or inferences presented in their favor are just and necessary, or unjust and unnecessary. We think that, in the execution of a law, we have no more warrant to go beyond than to come short of its requirements. It is presumption, and opens the way to every usurpation of authority. {1878 JHW, TOB 70.2}

 

First in the order of inferential arguments in favor of the baptism of infants is this, that baptism stands related in the gospel as circumcision did in the first covenant; and as that related to infants, so must this. But the premise is defective, and the argument has no foundation in fact. A positive duty of the gospel must have some direct testimony in its favor. A small work in our possession lays down as the foundation of the argument for infant baptism this proposition: “Baptism is both a sign and a seal.” No Scripture proof is offered to establish this proposition. The argument proceeds on the hypothesis that as circumcision, which was a sign and seal, was applicable to infants to bring them into covenant relation to God, so baptism, which is a sign and seal, and thus answers to circumcision, is also necessary to bring infants into like covenant relation in this dispensation. The serious and fatal defect in this argument is, that baptism does not occupy, in the new covenant, the place which circumcision occupied in the old covenant. The advocates of that idea are justly held to bring some Scripture evidence to support it, as a supposed likeness of one to the other is no proof at all in such a case; but the Scriptures afford direct and positive disproof of it, by plainly declaring that the circumcision or seal of the new covenant is something else, namely, the Spirit of God in the heart of the believer. {1878 JHW, TOB 70.3}

 

We are well aware that in these statements we come into conflict with the feelings of many parents whose early training and constant thought in that direction, together with the idea that a real benefit is imparted to children in the rite, causes them to feel very deeply on the subject. Said an aged friend, while the tears were starting from his eyes, “Would you not let us seal our children to the Lord?” We should readily answer in the affirmative if two necessary conditions were proved or could be proved: 1. That it is possible for us to seal our children, and, 2. That it is required of us in the Scriptures. It is not enough to show that it gratifies even our pious feelings, or to claim a pious use for the rite. All this has been urged in favor of every innovation and every error that has been brought into the church from the days of Tertullian and of Constantine to the present time. When we learn that the sign, or seal, of the new covenant is not outward, but is the circumcision of the heart by the operation of the Spirit, we perceive that it is impossible for us to affix the seal to any one. As we are not required to do that which is impossible, the Scriptures never intimate that any duty exists in that direction; but all religious observances, in the absence of Scripture requirement, are will-worship. {1878 JHW, TOB 71.1}

 

Paul makes an important statement in regard to the relation of the seal, which is in perfect harmony with all the evidence that has been presented, but fatal to the idea of sealing infants. He says, “After that ye believed, ye were sealed” Eph. 1:13, 14. This is the only order admissible according to the Scriptures. And this text at once reverses the conclusion, and destroys the premise, of those who contend for infant baptismal sealing; it says: “After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance,” the same as the sign or token, which outward circumcision was in the old covenant. No scripture says, Ye received the sign, or seal, or token, or earnest, of baptism; and no scripture says, Ye were sealed before ye believed. All that kind of talk is sheer assumption, and all assumptions on Bible doctrines are only hindrances to the progress of simple revealed truth. {1878 JHW, TOB 72.1}

 

The statements of the Scriptures in regard to the two rites of circumcision and baptism, are so different as to preclude any reasoning from one to the other. Were there no conditions stated concerning baptism,–were it left on conditions previously given, or were there any reasons given why the facts relating to one rite could be referred to the other,–the case would be quite different. It is distinctly stated that circumcision is to be performed when the subject is eight days old, and, of course, repentance and faith are not given as prerequisites to circumcision. It is never stated that baptism is to be administered at the age of eight days, or any number of days or years, but when the subjects receive the word preached, and repent of their sins. All efforts to enforce baptism, or to define the extent of its relations and application because of its supposed likeness to circumcision, are not only without any warrant of Scripture, but directly against the plainest statements of the Bible, where the two rites are defined. {1878 JHW, TOB 72.2}

 

Second in this line of inferences is the supposed reference to infants in certain promises made to your children, especially in Acts 2:38, 39: “The promise is unto you and to your children.” But this argument is defective also, and the conclusion gratuitous. The term children need not refer to infants, and in this and kindred texts does not refer to them, as may easily be shown. {1878 JHW, TOB 73.1}

 

“To you and to your children” refers to the Jewish people then present and to their posterity; while “all that are afar off” refers to the Gentiles. The first statement is proved by such texts as Gen. 45:21; “the children of Israel” referred only to the adult sons of Jacob who went into Egypt to buy food; and so in numerous instances. So also in the New Testament. “They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Gal. 3:7. “Ye are the children of the prophets.” Acts 3:25, and others. The second statement, that the Gentiles are referred to as “afar off,” is proved by Eph. 2; the apostle declares to the Gentiles that the gospel was preached “to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh,” by which means Jews and Gentiles are made both one, the Gentiles being also “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Nothing may be inferred from Acts 2:39, in reference to infants, or to irresponsible little children. {1878 JHW, TOB 73.2}

 

The inference is not only unnecessary, but is actually forbidden by the connection. {1878 JHW, TOB 74.1}

 

The promise is so related to conditions to be fulfilled that an application to infants is out of the question: –

 

  1. The promise is made to those whom the Lord our God shall call. But infants are not subjects of any calling. {1878 JHW, TOB 74.3}

 

  1. The promise is on condition of repentance. But infants cannot repent. {1878 JHW, TOB 74.4}

 

  1. The promise is on condition of obeying the precept to be baptized. But infants cannot obey any precept. {1878 JHW, TOB 74.5}

 

  1. The requirement to repent refers only to sinners, and that to be baptized is for the remission of sin. But infants have no sins of which to repent, or to have remitted. The last two propositions call for more extended notice. {1878 JHW, TOB 74.6}

 

No one can possibly deny that baptism is always presented in the New Testament as a commandment to be obeyed, and never as a blessing to be passively received. The writer once asked an aged friend if the duty to be baptized is not found in a commandment. The answer was promptly given in the affirmative. Next the question, “Does an infant when it is baptized (if it were baptized), obey the commandment?” The answer was, “No; it is not the obedience of the child; it is obedience on the part of the parent.” Then followed the important question, “When the child grows up to manhood and personally accepts the Saviour, will you baptize him in your church, if he asks for baptism?” “No,” was the answer; “for he was once baptized, and it is wrong to repeat it.” {1878 JHW, TOB 74.7}

 

The conclusion is evident; it is even in the answer. It was not obedience on the part of the child, and if he grows to age, and believes and repents, the church will not permit him to obey; the action of the parent having forestalled his obedience! Can this be right? How can it be defended? Can a church lawfully adopt rules which are not laid down in the Scriptures, which prevent obedience to those which are given in the Scriptures? But this is exactly the case with infant baptism. Religious duties cannot be discharged–commandments cannot be obeyed–by proxy. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you,” is the authoritative precept which sounds in every sinner’s ears; and no action of man, either priest or parent, can absolve from the duty to obey this precept. Here is an indictment of infant baptism from which its friends can never rescue it. {1878 JHW, TOB 75.1}

 

Again, as baptism stands related to repentance on the part of the subject, and the remission of sin, it cannot be appropriately administered to infants; for they have neither ability nor need to repent. Repentance is for sin committed, and remission is for those only who have committed sin; and these do not apply to innocents. To relieve the practice from this difficulty, the weak pretext has been framed that they are baptized because of the sin of Adam! for to this amounts the assertion that they are baptized for original sin, or to obviate natural depravity. This last idea has led further to a wrong estimate of, and false dependence on, baptism. The idea of baptismal regeneration is inseparably connected with infant baptism. They are not only connected by logical sequence, but they stand connected in the writings of the advocates of the practice. On this point we must make some quotations. {1878 JHW, TOB 75.2}

 

Rev. R. Pengilly, of Ireland, author of an excellent tract on Baptism, says: –

“From my earliest childhood, I was taught to say that, ‘in my baptism, I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven.’ See the Church of England Catechism, and Baptism of Infants. My instructors would readily admit, and in effect taught, the following sentiments, lately given to the world by different writers. {1878 JHW, TOB 76.2}

 

  • “One affirms: ‘With the water of our baptism, the grace of regeneration, the seed of the Holy Ghost, the principle of a higher existence, is committed to the soul; it grows with us as an innate impression of our being. As long as the believer trusts to his baptism as the source of life, all is well.’ Mr. W. Harness, minister of St. Pancras’ chapel, London, in a sermon on Baptismal Regeneration. {1878 JHW, TOB 76.3}

 

  • “Another adds: ‘On a topic so interesting I might have well enlarged. I might have told you that only by baptism we are admitted into Christ’s flock on earth; by baptism we are adopted into his covenant, incorporated into his church; that in baptism all our sins are pardoned, and the Holy Ghost bestowed.’ W. B. Knight, Perpetual Curate of Margam, and Examining Chaplain to the Lord Bishop of Llandaff, Letter on Baptism.” {1878 JHW, TOB 76.4}

 

These teachings are not confined to the Church of England. Dr. Clarke says substantially the same thing, as follows: –

  • “Baptism brings its privileges along with it, is a seal of the covenant, does not lose its end through the indisposition of the receiver.”–Com., at the end of Mark. {1878 JHW, TOB 77.2}

 

In the baptismal service of the Methodist Episcopal Church are the following words of prayer for an infant, at its baptism: –

  • “We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt look upon this child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost, that he, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ’s church.” {1878 JHW, TOB 77.4}

 

And hymn 259, of the Methodist Hymns, says: –

  • “Now to this favored child be given Pardon, and holiness, and Heaven.” {1878 JHW, TOB 77.6}

 

  • Wesley says; “If infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism; seeing, in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved, unless this be washed away by baptism. It has been already proved, that this original sin cleaves to every child of man; and that hereby they are children of wrath and liable to eternal damnation.” And again, quoting the “rubric” of the church, he says: “It is certain, by God’s word, that children who are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are saved.” {1878 JHW, TOB 77.7}

 

These are sufficient to show, and conclusively show, that salvation is based entirely upon baptism–“baptismal regeneration.” The remark of Dr. Clarke is singular,–the indisposition of the receiver is no bar to receiving the benefit of the ordinance. It must then remain a question, What is necessary, on the part of the receiver, to invalidate baptism or to forfeit its benefits? Who shall determine this? {1878 JHW, TOB 78.1}

 

And it is evident, also, that, if these teachings are true, unbaptized children are certainly lost! If, by baptism, sins are pardoned, the Holy Ghost received, the principle of a higher existence is committed to the soul, a child is made a member of Christ and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven, it follows that without baptism none of these benefits can be received. For how shall an infant receive pardon who is not thus “favored”? How else is an unconscious babe delivered from the wrath of God and brought into the church? The Arminians are accustomed to speak sharply against the Calvinists on account of their belief in infant reprobation, but the parties are not so very far apart so far as “infant damnation” is concerned. In effect, both parties teach it. {1878 JHW, TOB 76.1}

 

But the whole system is wrong, in every particular. Wrong in principle, and wrong in its methods of proof. The salvation of little children stands on a different basis. The infant of days has committed no sin, cannot repent or believe, and needs no remission. Or else, of what is it pardoned? As it has no sin of its own, it must be pardoned of the sin of another. Of course, then, without such pardon it would stand condemned, and finally be lost, for the sin of its forefather! But the Lord says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” Eze. 18:20. Each individual of the race must bear his own sin, and the sin of no other. How will the advocates of this theory meet this Scripture truth? {1878 JHW, TOB 79.1}

 

We will now present an argument, which, we think, is justified by reason and the Scriptures:

As no person is answerable for the sins of another, so no person can repent of the sins of another. We may, indeed, be sorry that others have sinned. I am sorry that Adam sinned; sorry that my parents sinned; yes, sorry that you, reader, have sinned; but I am not required to repent of their sins or of yours. I cannot do it. I can repent of my own sins only. And as baptism is so intimately connected with repentance, I was baptized for my own sins, and for no others. However much Adam may have sinned, I should not have been required to be baptized if I had not sinned. It is as unscriptural and unreasonable to be baptized for the sins of another, as it is impossible to repent of the sins of another. {1878 JHW, TOB 79.3}

 

The Scripture says, “In Adam all die.” Adam, because of his sin, was shut away from the tree of life, lest he should eat, and live forever; Gen. 3:22,23; and thus mortality was settled upon him because of sin; for “the wages of sin is death.” Of course his children, and so all his posterity, received from him a nature no higher than his own; with him all were shut out from the tree of life, all became subject to death, all returned to the dust. This death, which we variously call natural death or temporal death, and the first death in distinction from eternal death, or “the second death,” was a penalty inflicted upon Adam for his sin; and it was the penalty of that sin only. As he only was the transgressor, he only could bear the penalty; for “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” To his posterity it is a consequence of their relation to him, and not a penalty. The “second death” is the penalty for the personal sins of Adam’s posterity. When sentence was pronounced upon Adam, a new probation was given to man through “the seed of the woman.” Through a promise of the Son of God, who should become a son of man, the gospel scheme was opened to the race; and as the race was already involved by the fall of Adam, shut out from the tree of life, and doomed to return to the dust, or to die, another death was placed before Adam’s race as the penalty for personal sin; for it is true, under all conditions and dispensations, that “the wages of sin is death.” {1878 JHW, TOB 79.4}

 

That the death which the race has fallen under ever since the fall of Adam is not the penalty of our personal sins, is proved by the following considerations; They who accept the gospel of Christ are justified through faith in him, and receive pardon of their sins; yet they die “in Adam,” as the unjustified do. But no one can believe that sin is pardoned and punished also. The remission of sin is the remission of its penalty. The individual who is pardoned by the gospel escapes the penalty of personal sin; “on such the second death hath no power.” Rev. 20:6. But they who are not pardoned–are not justified by faith in Christ–shall fall under the second death. This is proof sufficient that the second death is the penalty of personal sin. {1878 JHW, TOB 80.1}

 

Repentance, faith, remission, all combined, will not remove the consequence of Adam’s transgression. We still die “in Adam,” saints as well as sinners; and therefore this death is not the penalty of personal sin. The gospel may bring from it, as a benefaction; but it does not save from it by means of remission. It is remitted to nobody. {1878 JHW, TOB 81.1}

 

As in the case of the saints–the justified–so in the case of infants. They have no sins for which to answer. They cannot fall under a penalty, because they are innocent. Yet they die; of course not as sinners condemned, but as mortal creatures cut off from the tree of life by the action of Adam. His sin brought condemnation to himself, and it was deserved; but it brings no condemnation to these innocent ones; they do not deserve it, and “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” {1878 JHW, TOB 81.2}

 

What, then, it may be asked, does the gospel actually offer in the case of infants? We answer, life; it offers them a resurrection from the dead. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.Infants die because of their connection with Adam, not on account of any sin of their own; and they are made alive in Christ, not because of their obedience, but as members of the race for whom he died. What they lost in the first Adam is restored to them by the second Adam. See a promise of a resurrection to children, in Jer. 31:15–17. This is positive, tangible; it stands on no uncertain inference. {1878 JHW, TOB 81.3}

 

There will be three classes in the resurrection. One, of sinners condemned, who have never accepted the gospel nor received pardon through Christ. The second death claims them as its own. Another, the saints; those who have had their sins washed away by the blood of the Redeemer. Being justified, the law has no claim against their lives. “On such the second death hath no power.” The third, infants, who have never sinned. Of course they are not condemned; they have done no wrong; on no principle of justice can they be condemned. Through Christ they are brought up from death, of course to die no more. They stand related to the law as the saints do; not as the saints, pardoned, but as innocents, against whom no charge can be brought. Having no sin upon them, they will die no more. That life they get through Christ as truly as do the saints. Hence they can join the everlasting song of redemption, with all the saints in glory. Had it not been for Christ they would have remained dead. For eternal life, its joys and its glory, they are as truly indebted to divine love and favor in the gospel as David, or Peter, or Paul. Thus it is easy to see that infants are saved by the gospel, but not by means of faith, repentance, and baptism. These are for sinners, not for innocents. {1878 JHW, TOB 82.1}

 

When strong men endeavor to maintain their theories by weak assumptions or flimsy arguments, it often becomes strong evidence of the erroneousness of their theories. They will do the best they can under their circumstances.

 

We will give a brief summary of the points in evidence on this subject: –

 

  1. Baptism does not take the place of circumcision; and therefore it is not allowable to argue from circumcision in the Old Testament to baptism in the New, as is so frequently done. {1878 JHW, TOB 94.4}

 

  1. Preaching the word comes before baptism; a candidate for the ordinance must first understand his relation to the divine government, as a sinner. {1878 JHW, TOB 94.5}

 

  1. Faith comes before baptism, according to the terms of the great commission. We must have faith in the name of Christ before we can be baptized into his name. {1878 JHW, TOB 94.6}

 

  1. Repentance comes before baptism. This also is in the order laid down by Inspiration. {1878 JHW, TOB 94.7}

 

As baptism is for the remission of sin, and is the pledge of a new life, repentance is necessary; for without this there can be no assurance of future obedience. {1878 JHW, TOB 94.8}

 

  1. The same is shown further in that baptism is a burial; and death precedes burial. This death is a death to sin; but there is no death to sin without conviction by the law of God, and repentance. Without these there is no walking in “newness of life.” {1878 JHW, TOB 95.1}

 

  1. Baptism is commanded, and the commandment requires obedience on the part of all who can understand a precept. No others can obey it. {1878 JHW, TOB 95.2}

 

  1. Baptism is not a blessing which may be received without volition or obedience. To regard it as a privilege merely, and not as a precept, lays the foundation for gross errors concerning baptismal regeneration, and its necessary counterpart, the destruction of all unbaptized infants. {1878 JHW, TOB 95.3}

 

  1. Baptism is related to remission of sin; it belongs to a remedial system, and is to be obeyed by all those who have sins to be remitted. It applies to no others. {1878 JHW, TOB 95.4}

 

  1. Baptism is not for “original sin.” The sin of Adam brings no condemnation to his children, and baptism does not stand related to it. The gospel does not save anybody from that death which we inherit from Adam. Exceptions do not destroy the truth that “in Adam all die.” We all inherit mortality from him, but not condemnation. But the gospel saves from the second death, the penalty for personal sin. {1878 JHW, TOB 95.5}

 

  1. Baptism does not remove natural depravity, in any case. In this respect, baptized infants are no better than others. It has no power to impart “a higher life to the soul;” it is not “a saving ordinance” in any such sense. Adults are not freed from their fallen natures in baptism, but have to overcome, even to the end. Christian life is a warfare with self. {1878 JHW, TOB 95.6}

 

  1. Infants are brought from the dead by the great Lifegiver, and die no more because they have no sin for which to answer. They are not saved by repentance, faith, and the remission of sin. The first two they could not exercise; the last they did not need. {1878 JHW, TOB 96.1}

 

  1. In every instance recorded in the New Testament, the preaching of the word preceded baptism, and they who gladly received the word were baptized. {1878 JHW, TOB 96.2}

 

  1. The term “children” does not necessarily refer to infants, nor even to young people; and never refers to infants where duty is enjoined, as in Acts 2:38, 39, and Eph. 6:1. {1878 JHW, TOB 96.3}

 

  1. The baptism of households affords no evidence in favor of infant baptism. While there is nothing in the statements from which an inference may justly be drawn in favor of infant baptism, a conclusion against it is justly drawn from the statements in regard to the faith and labors of the households. {1878 JHW, TOB 96.4}

 

An inference, to be admissible, must have the probabilities in its favor; but in this case the probabilities are decidedly against any just inference for infant baptism. The terms of the commission, the records of its fulfillment, the relations and conditions of baptism,–all lead to a conclusion against it; and the records of household baptisms are such as to shut out such an inference. An inference is necessary only when nothing else can reasonably be drawn from the text; which is not the case in any of the inferences in favor of infant baptism. And an unnecessary inference is worthless, and should not, for a moment, be entertained where questions of duty are involved. {1878 JHW, TOB 96.5}

 

The power of the truth in its simplicity, unalloyed by the theories of the wisdom of the world, is shown in the following incident, which we copy from the Biography of Dr. Carson: –

  • “In the year 1807, James Haldane, after having sprinkled an infant, was accosted by his little son, a child six years of age, with the pertinent question, ‘Father, did that child believe?’ ‘No,’ said the parent, ‘why do you ask me such a question?’ ‘Because, father, I have read the whole of the New Testament, and I find that all who were baptized believed. Did the child believe?’ It was enough. God’s simple truth, which had been hidden from the wise and prudent, was revealed to the babe. The strange question, ‘Did the child believe?’ haunted the mind of that father, until, after a thorough examination, he renounced his former errors, and was publicly immersed. His brother Robert soon followed his example. Whole churches saw the light of this ordinance flashing upon them; and thousands of the most devoted men of Scotland, who had taken the Bible as their sole directory, reformed their ‘Tabernacle Reformation’ and followed the Lord fully.” {1878 JHW, TOB 97.2}

 

If left free from the glosses of “theology” and the obscurities of tradition, every one could find what that child found in the New Testament; that they who believed–who “gladly received the word”–were baptized. The conditions of the ordinance, the terms in which the duty is set forth, exclude all besides penitents and believers. Though our examination of this branch of the subject has been somewhat brief, we trust such evidences have been presented as will lead the mind, unavoidably, to the truthful conclusion. {1878 JHW, TOB 97.3}

 

BAPTISM IN THE FIRST CENTURIES

If the example of the church in the first centuries is of any weight or importance as indicating our duty in regard to baptism, it can only be because they preserved it in purity. For if they did not preserve it pure–if they perverted and corrupted it–then their example should be avoided, and not followed. We shall now give abundant reasons for not only distrusting the acknowledged teachers and leaders of the early centuries, but turning away from them with feelings of pity for their blindness and folly, if, indeed, we are not led to indulge stronger feelings than those of pity. {1878 JHW, TOB 166.1}

 

  • Bingham gives the various titles which were given to baptism, going back as early as Tertullian. It was called “absolution,” for an evident reason; “regeneration of the soul;” “illumination,” because it was supposed to impart a knowledge of divine things to the understanding; “salvation,” because it was supposed to be necessary to salvation and to insure it; “the sign of God,” “character Dominicus,” because the character of the Lord was supposed to be imparted to the subject! “It was a saying that baptism washes away all sins.” It was for this reason that Constantine, for thirteen years after he professed Christianity, refused to be baptized, only requesting it on his death-bed, thus to make sure that his sins might all go together, as if to “compound his felonies” with Heaven! It was considered useful for physical as well as spiritual disorders, as a cure for diseases. Bingham relates that those who had no interest in Christianity themselves used to carry their infants to the bishops for baptism, in order to preserve them from diseases. It is said of Novatus, “From a hope of recovering his health he professed Christianity.” “He was baptized in his bed when apparently about to die.” Such were the views of baptism in the second, third, and fourth centuries. {1878 JHW, TOB 166.2}

 

Connected with it, and as necessary to the full performance of baptism as “trine immersion,” was “the renunciation.” And Bingham says, “The antiquity of this renunciation is evidenced from all the writers that have said anything of baptism.” If antiquity gives authority or makes it apostolical, then this ceremony must be accepted! Bingham gives Dionysius as his authority, thus: –

 

  • “In another place he thus describes the whole ceremony: The priest makes the person to be baptized to stand with his hands stretched out toward the west, and striking them together (the original denotes collision, or striking them together by way of abhorrence); then he bids him thrice exsufflate, or spit, in defiance of Satan; afterwards, thrice repeating the solemn words of renunciation, he bids him thrice renounce him in that form; then he turns him about toward the east, and with his hands and eyes lift up to Heaven, bids him enter into covenant with Christ. Vicecomes thinks this triple renunciation was made, either because there were three things which men renounced in their baptism, the devil, his pomps, and the world; or to signify the three persons of the Trinity; by whom they were adopted as sons upon their renouncing Satan.”–Book 11, chap. 7, § 3 and 5. Section 4 says, “It was accompanied with some other ceremonies.” {1878 JHW, TOB 167.2}

 

Then there were the unction, signing with the cross, and the consecration of the water. {1878 JHW, TOB 168.1}

 

  • “The bishop begins the unction by thrice signing him with the sign of the cross, and then commits him to the priests to be anointed all over the body, whilst he goes and consecrates the water in the font.”–Id. {1878 JHW, TOB 168.2}

 

  • “–The unction of confirmation, which was then usually the conclusion of baptism, both in adult persons and infants; and many of the passages which speak of the sign of the cross in baptism do plainly relate to this as an appendage of baptism, and closely joined to it, as the last ceremony and consummation of it.”–Book 11, chap. 7, § 4. {1878 JHW, TOB 168.3}

 

And § 3 says, “The water of baptism was signed with the sign of the cross.” {1878 JHW, TOB 168.4}

 

There is no doubt that the ceremony of consecrating and crossing the water had much to do in building up the idea of the wondrous effects of the water of baptism, both physically and spiritually. Thus Chrysostom said: –

 

  • They who approach the baptismal font are not only made clean from all wickedness, but holy and also just. Although a man should be foul with every human vice, the blackest that can be named, yet should he fall into the baptismal pool, he ascends from the baptismal waters purer than the beams of noon.” See Coleman, Ancient Chris. Exemplified, pp. 368, 369. {1878 JHW, TOB 169.1}

 

There was a regenerating and saving power ascribed to the consecrated waters. Neander says: –

 

  • “Chrysostom specifies ten different effects of grace wrought in baptism; and then he complains of those who make the grace of baptism consist simply in the forgiveness of sin.”–Vol. 2, p. 665. {1878 JHW, TOB 169.3}

 

This superstition of consecrating and crossing the water, dates as early as the age of Tertullian. Of its efficacy he thus speaks: –

 

  • “All waters, therefore, in virtue of the pristine privilege of their origin, do, after invocation of God, attain the sacramental power of sanctification; for the Spirit immediately supervenes from the heavens, and rests over the waters, sanctifying them from himself; and being thus sanctified, they imbibe at the same time the power of sanctifying.”–Tertullian on Baptism, chap. 6. {1878 JHW, TOB 169.5}

 

This mass of nonsensical mockery is traced to the second century, almost to the very time of the apostles! {1878 JHW, TOB 169.6}

 

Tertullian mentions, also, sponsors in baptism and penance for sins after baptism. He is the first writer who mentions them, and also some other errors; but his mention proves that such customs existed in Africa in his day. {1878 JHW, TOB 169.7}

 

There seems to be no doubt that sprinkling was first introduced, with many other things herein related, as an addition to baptism, and not altogether as a substitute for it. This is confirmed by the ritual of the Armenians which required that the candidate be both sprinkled and immersed. But such additions or appendages soon supplant the original, as man, in the pride of his heart, ever tries to introduce his own institutions as an improvement of the Lord’s plan. The following words of Tertullian do clearly show that, in his day, sprinkling was considered sufficient to fulfill the act of baptism. They are concerning a controversy as to whether the apostles were baptized by other than John’s baptism. He says:

 

  • “Others make the suggestion–forced enough, clearly–‘that the apostles then served the turn of baptism when, in their little ship, they were sprinkled and covered with the waves; that Peter himself also was immersed enough when he walked on the sea.’ It is, however, as I think, one thing to be sprinkled or intercepted by the violence of the sea; another thing to be baptized in obedience to the discipline of religion. . . . Now whether they were baptized in any manner whatever, or whether they continued unbathed to the end,” etc.–Tertullian on Baptism, chap. 2. {1878 JHW, TOB 170.3}

 

Reading these remarks, we must bear in mind that Tertullian does not speak against sprinkling itself, but against the occasion referred to, as not being in “the discipline of religion.” For he elsewhere shows that sprinkling was then practiced in baptism, and his words, “baptized in any manner whatever,” show that one particular manner was not then deemed essential. {1878 JHW, TOB 171.1}

 

Also in his book on Repentance, chap. 6, urging a genuine repentance, he says: –

 

  • “For who will giant to you, a man of so faithless repentance, one single sprinkling of any water whatever?” {1878 JHW, TOB 171.3}

 

The prevalence of infant baptism at this early day cannot be fairly questioned. The historical evidence on this point is very full and explicit. Tertullian himself did not favor the baptism of infants, not because he did not regard the ordinance in the same light in which it was regarded by others, but he held the same view which afterward influenced Constantine. However, where death was to be apprehended, he thought they ought to be baptized. Bingham draws a just conclusion from Tertullian’s opposition to it, thus: –

 

  • “Of his own private opinion he was for deferring the baptism of infants, especially where there was no danger of death, till they came to years of discretion; but he so argued for this, as to show us that the practice of the church was otherwise.”–Book 11, chap. 4, § 10. {1878 JHW, TOB 171.5}

 

We should not overlook this important fact, right here, that, though the words of Tertullian prove the practice of infant baptism, they equally prove that he did not consider it of authority higher than tradition. Had he believed that it was in accordance with a Scripture commandment, he certainly would not have argued against it. {1878 JHW, TOB 171.6}

 

The reader will readily agree with us that this is enough on this subject. The early church, even in the second century, did not retain baptism in the purity of the gospel. They connected with it an almost inconceivable number of rites, some of them of the most ridiculous form and nature. Therefore it is beyond all question true that we do not safely appeal to them for the true practice–the gospel form, and apostolic practice–of baptism. {1878 JHW, TOB 174.2}

 

 REASONS FOR THREE IMMERSIONS—THE CONSEQUENCES

A most important point remains to be noticed. It is that of the reasons offered for three immersions. It will generally be found that in regard to religious rites and institutions, scriptural reasons and scriptural methods stand or fall together. When any people give an unscriptural reason for their practice, the presumption is that their practice is itself unscriptural, or a perversion of Scripture. Very early in the Christian Church, reasons were assigned for three immersions which are either contrary to the Scriptures, or others than those given in the Scriptures. While on the other hand, wherever we find “one baptism” literally and strictly followed, there we find the scriptural reason assigned for the action. {1878 JHW, TOB 174.3}

 

Those who will have the patience to read the writers of the early centuries in their controversies over the doctrine of the Trinity, must agree in this, that very much which was then written on the subject was an interminable jargon, a bitter contention over words to no profit; made up more largely of invectives and personal criminations than of argument; showing more zeal for party success than piety. With one thing we have been particularly struck,–that the dominant or orthodox writers sometimes expressed their faith in the very same words which were bitterly assailed as the rankest heresy when used by an opposing party. The “Athanasian creed” was saved only by the greater influence of the bishop of Rome. Athanasius himself was not always considered orthodox; he was not only banished from his place in the church, but a reward was set upon him by the emperor Constantius “to whomsoever should bring him alive or dead.” The bishop of Rome endeavored to procure his pardon, to whom the emperor replied:– {1878 JHW, TOB 179.2}

 

  • “All without exception have been injured by him, but none so deeply as I have been. Not content with occasioning the death of my eldest brother, he endeavored to excite Constans, of blessed memory, against me; and had not his aims been frustrated by my moderation, he would have caused a violent contest between us. None of the victories which I have gained, not even those obtained over Magnentius and Silvanus, appear so satisfactory to me as the ejection of this despicable man from the government of the church.”–Theodoret, book 2, chap. 16. {1878 JHW, TOB 180.1}

 

The creed was formulated and the faith defined by Athanasius. Previous to that time there was no settled method of expression, if, indeed, there was anywhere any uniformity of belief. Most of the early writers had been pagan philosophers, who to reach the minds of that class, often made strong efforts to prove that there was a blending of the two systems, Christianity and philosophy. There is abundance of material in their writings to sustain this view. Bingham speaks of the vague views held by some in the following significant terms:– {1878 JHW, TOB 180.2}

 

  • “There were some very early that turned the doctrine of the Trinity into Tritheism, and, instead of three divine persons under the economy of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, brought in three collateral, co-ordinate, and self-originated beings, making them three absolute and independent principles, without any relation of Father or Son, which is the most proper notion of three gods. And having made this change in the doctrine of the Trinity, they made another change answerable to it in the form of baptism.”–Antiquities, book 11, chap. 8, § 4. {1878 JHW, TOB 180.3}

 

Who can distinguish between this form of expression and that put forth by the Council of Constantinople in a. d. 381, wherein the true faith is declared to be that of “an uncreated and consubstantial and co-eternal Trinity”? The truth is that we find the same idea which is here described by Bingham running through much of the orthodox literature of the second and third centuries. There is no proper “relation of Father and Son” to be found in the words of the council, above quoted. And we willingly leave it with the good judgment of every unprejudiced reader that three baptisms are more consistent with the idea of “three collateral, co-ordinate, and self-originated beings,” than with the idea of baptism into the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in the likeness of the Saviour’s death and resurrection. {1878 JHW, TOB 181.1}

 

Bingham says this error in regard to a Trinity of three co-ordinate and self-originated and independent beings arose in the church very early; and so we find it in the earliest authors after the days of the apostles. He said that a change was made in the form of baptism corresponding to this form of belief; and so we find that three baptisms were announced by the same writers. Three baptisms are contrary to the express words of the Scripture, and contrary to the Scripture ideas of baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. We must determine, and that to a certainty, that three baptisms is that erroneous form which was made to correspond to the doctrine of three co-eternal beings, which did not regard the true relation of Father and Son, and which gave rise to a rejection of the baptism of the gospel, into the death of Christ. {1878 JHW, TOB 181.2}

 

THE CONSEQUENCES

Some may be led to inquire, Does it not invalidate the Christian faith, or raise a doubt of the accuracy and sufficiency of the New Testament, to thus prove that the writers of the second and third centuries were so divided in sentiment, or so completely followers of traditions? We answer, {1878 JHW, TOB 183.2}

 

Not at all. It proves the correctness of the New Testament, which pointed out this very state of things as soon to exist after the day s of the apostles. Even in their own times they had to labor against this spirit of contention and division, which already began to distract the churches. Paul at Ephesus said:-

 

  • “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” {1878 JHW, TOB 184.2}

 

This fitly represents the condition of the poor, distracted church, under the leadership of ambitious men, such as obtained the controlling influence in the early centuries. We have no doubt that many honest souls mourned over this declension, but the willful and the ambitious are the ones who are heard, and who leave their impress on the multitude, and stand out most prominent in history. This contentious and ambitious spirit gave rise to the Roman hierarchy, a dominion in the church of Christ such as the Scriptures never sanctioned, and Christ himself forbade. The Papacy, as a power among the kingdoms of earth, was erected in the sixth century; but we shall greatly mistake if we think it arose so late as that. Paul, speaking of the “falling away” and the revealing of the “man of sin,” said, “The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” We must bear in mind that this mystery of iniquity was working in the church; it was by a falling away that the man of sin was developed. {1878 JHW, TOB 184.3}

 

Such being the case, is it any credit to any system or doctrine that it found advocates and followers in that age? If we pay proper regard to the warnings of the apostles, and respect to the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice, we shall rather avoid quoting the opinions of “the fathers” in favor of any dogma, knowing that they lived in an age of darkness and great confusion. We pass no judgment upon their sincerity of purpose or honesty of intention. But we do affirm that it is not safe to follow every one who, we think, intends well; we must remember their liability to be deceived. We contend for “the Bible and the Bible alone.” Centuries ago this was declared to be “the religion of Protestants.” But alas for the day! Protestants, or those calling themselves by this name, are turning again to the fog of tradition for support, and rejoice when they can find the testimony of the fathers on their side, as if they had found great treasures. {1878 JHW, TOB 184.4}

 

We do not consider it necessary to consume time and space to show why the writings of the fathers have not been preserved as free from corruptions and interpolations as the Holy Scriptures. Reasons, good and sufficient, may be given. We never feel more thankful that we have the Bible, given by inspiration of God, and wonderfully preserved by the providence of God, than when we are reading the writings of the successors of the apostles. They present a labyrinth of contradictions and superstitions, from which we turn to find glad relief in the writings of those who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” {1878 JHW, TOB 185.1}

 

WHEN TO BE RE-BAPTIZED

 When precious rays of light from the Sun of Righteousness have shone upon our pathway, some have opened wide the door of the heart, welcoming the heaven-sent light into the chambers of the soul. They receive the words of Christ Jesus gladly. Others have needed the divine anointing to improve their spiritual eyesight, in order that they may distinguish the light of truth from the darkness of error. Because of their blindness, they have lost an experience that would have been more precious to them than silver and gold. Some, I fear, will never recover that which they have lost.  {7MR 261.3}

 

There are many at the present day who have unwittingly violated one of the precepts of God’s law. When the understanding is enlightened, and the claims of the fourth commandment are urged upon the conscience, they see themselves sinners in the sight of God. “Sin is the transgression of the law” and “he that shall offend on one point is guilty of all.” The honest seeker after truth will not plead ignorance of the law as an excuse for transgression. Light was within his reach. God’s Word is plain, and Christ has bidden him search the Scriptures. He reveres God’s law as holy, just, and good, and he repents of his transgression. By faith he pleads the atoning blood of Christ, and grasps the promise of pardon. His former baptism does not satisfy him now. He has seen himself a sinner, condemned by the law of God. He has experienced anew a death to sin, and he desires again to be buried with Christ by baptism, that he may rise to walk in newness of life. Such a course is in harmony with the example of Paul in baptizing the Jewish converts. That incident was recorded by the Holy Spirit as an instructive lesson for the church.–Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 133. (1883)  {3SP 420} also in {Ev 372}

 

The subject of rebaptism should be handled with the greatest care. After the truth is presented upon the Sabbath question and other important points of our faith, and souls manifest the moral courage to take their position upon the truth, they will see this question in the Bible light if they are fully converted. But by some these questions have been handled unwisely, and God has sent reproof many times on this point. Those who place the subject of rebaptism in the front, making it of as much importance as the Sabbath question, are not leaving the right impression upon the minds and correctly representing the subject. It requires great discrimination to bring in kindred truths with the Sabbath, rightly dividing the Word, giving to each his portion of meat in due season. {Lt56-1886} also in {Ev 372.3}

 

This is a subject which each individual must conscientiously take his position upon in the fear of God. This subject should be carefully presented in the spirit of tenderness and love. Then the duty of urging belongs to no one but God; give God a chance to work with His Holy Spirit upon the minds, so that the individual will be perfectly convinced and satisfied in regard to this advanced step. A spirit of controversy and contention should never be allowed to come in and prevail on this subject. Do not take the Lord’s work out of His hands into your own hands. Those who have conscientiously taken their position upon the commandments of God, will, if rightly dealt with, accept all essential truth. But it needs wisdom to deal with human minds. Some will be longer in seeing and understanding some kindred truths than others, especially will this be the case in regard to the subject of rebaptism, but there is a divine hand that is leading them–a divine spirit impressing their hearts, and they will know what they ought to do and do it. Let none of our zealous brethren overdo this matter. They will be in danger of getting before the Lord and making tests for others which the Lord has not bidden them to make. It is not the work of any of our teachers to urge rebaptism upon anyone. It is their business to lay down the great principles of Bible truths, especially is this the case in regard to rebaptism. Then let God do the work of convicting the mind and heart. {Lt56-1886}

 

Some workers in the cause of God have been too ready to hurl denunciations against the sinner; the grace and love of the Father in giving His Son to die for the sinful race have been put in the background. The teacher needs the grace of Christ upon his own soul, in order to make known to the sinner what God really is–a Father waiting with yearning love to receive the returning prodigal, not hurling at him accusations in wrath, but preparing a festival of joy to welcome his return (Zephaniah 3:14-17).  {1SM 184.1}

 

If you differ with your brethren as to your understanding of the grace of Christ and the operations of His Spirit, you should not make these differences prominent. You view the matter from one point; another, just as devoted to God, views the same question from another point, and speaks of the things that make the deepest impression on his mind; another viewing it from a still different point, presents another phase; and how foolish it is to get into contention over these things, when there is really nothing to contend about. Let God work on the mind and impress the heart.  {1SM 183.1}

 

One man may be conversant with the Scriptures, and some particular portion of the Scripture may be especially appreciated by him; another sees another portion as very important, and thus one may present one point, and another, another point, and both may be of highest value. This is all in the order of God. But if a man makes a mistake in his interpretation of some portion of the Scripture, shall this cause diversity and disunion? God forbid. We cannot then take a position that the unity of the church consists in viewing every text of Scripture in the very same light. The church may pass resolution upon resolution to put down all disagreement of opinions, but we cannot force the mind and will, and thus root out disagreement. These resolutions may conceal the discord, but they cannot quench it and establish perfect agreement. Nothing can perfect unity in the church but the spirit of Christlike forbearance. Satan can sow discord; Christ alone can harmonize the disagreeing elements. Then let every soul sit down in Christ’s school and learn of Christ, who declares Himself to be meek and lowly of heart. Christ says that if we learn of Him, worries will cease and we shall find rest to our souls.  {11MR 266.1}

 

All who profess to be children of God should bear in mind that as missionaries they will be brought into contact with all classes of minds. There are the refined and the coarse, the humble and the proud, the religious and the skeptical, the educated and the ignorant, the rich and the poor. These varied minds cannot be treated alike; yet all need kindness and sympathy. By mutual contact our minds should receive polish and refinement. We are dependent upon one another, closely bound together by the ties of human brotherhood. {MH 495.3}

 

Every association of life calls for the exercise of self-control, forbearance, and sympathy. We differ so widely in disposition, habits, education, that our ways of looking at things vary. We judge differently. Our understanding of truth, our ideas in regard to the conduct of life, are not in all respects the same. There are no two whose experience is alike in every particular. The trials of one are not the trials of another. The duties that one finds light are to another most difficult and perplexing.  {MH 483.1}

 

Will you please to present this that I have written to Brother Kunz? I have been shown that our brother will have to learn in the school of Christ many lessons that are essential before he can be a successful teacher. He carries too much of the burden of self, and manifests too little of the meekness and lowliness of Jesus, and he is constantly in danger of moving unwisely in presenting the subjects of truth. He needs greater wisdom from heaven and more of the love of Christ and the spirit of forbearance and patience brought into his work. Then he will have greater power to win souls to Christ and to the truth. In regard to rebaptism he should not place this on a level with the Sabbath. He needs to treat this subject with great caution. If any one comes to him for knowledge upon this subject, he should not create a controversy but in meekness give the light that he has from the Bible and then let the Lord do all the pressing and urging. Every honest soul who accepts the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will see and understand his duty in time. But it will take time for some. It is not a subject to be driven and forced upon those newly come to the truth, but this subject will work like leaven; the process will be slow and quiet, but it will do its work if our ministering brethren will not be too fast and defeat the purpose of God. Those who have long looked upon this subject see it quite clearly and think all others should see it just as they do. They do not consider that with some newly come to the faith this matter looks like denying all their former religious experience. But in time they will come to regard the matter differently. As the truth is constantly unfolding to their minds, they will see advanced steps to be taken; new light will flash upon their pathway; God’s Spirit will work upon their minds, if men will not interfere and seek to drive them to the positions which they think are truth. Now let it be distinctly understood, from time to time, all through our experience, God has given me testimonies of caution to our brethren in regard to handling the subject of rebaptism. Our good Brother Bates and several others of our ministers I was shown were making a mistake at some point in their experience in putting in the front and making a test question of rebaptism. This is not the way that the subject should be treated. It is a matter to be treated as a great privilege and blessing, and all who are rebaptized, if they have the right ideas upon this subject, will thus consider it. These good brethren were not bringing those newly come to the faith along step by step cautiously and guardedly, and the result was that some were turned from the truth, when a little time and tender, careful dealing with them would have prevented all such sad results. {Lt56-1886}

 

Our ministering brethren make a decided failure of doing their work in a manner directed by the Lord. They fail to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. They have not gained an experience through personal communion with God, or a true knowledge of what constitutes Christian character; therefore many are baptized who have no fitness for this sacred ordinance, but who are knit to self and the world. They have not seen Christ or received Him by faith.—{Review and Herald, Feb. 4, 1890} also in {Ev 319.2}

 

Said the angel, Can ye stand in the battle in the day of the Lord? Ye need to be washed and live in newness of life. (Then I saw those whose hands are now engaged in making up the breach and are standing in the gaps that have formally, since ’44, broken the commandments of God and have so far followed the Pope as to keep the first day instead of the seventh, would have to go down into the water and be baptized in the faith of the shut door and keeping the commandments of God, and in the faith of Jesus coming to sit on the throne of His father David and to redeem Israel. I also saw those who have been baptized as a door into the professed churches will have to be baptized out of that door again, and into the faith mentioned above, and all who have not been baptized since ’44, will have to be baptized before Jesus comes, and some will not gain progress now until that duty is done and then they must live anew unto God and serve him faithfully.) {Ms5-1850} also in {18MR 11.4}

 

I saw those who have been baptized as a door into the churches, would have to be baptized again as a door into the faith. Those who have not been baptized since 1844 will have to be before Jesus comes. And some I saw would not make progress till the duty was performed.  {SpM 3.8}

 

To our brethren at the Medical Missionary Council,—

I speak to our leading brethren, to our ministers, and especially to our physicians. Just as long as you allow pride to dwell in your hearts, so long will you lack power in your work. For years a wrong spirit has been cherished, a spirit of pride, a desire for pre-eminence. In this Satan is served, and God is dishonored. The Lord calls for a decided reformation. And when a soul is truly reconverted, let him be rebaptized. Let him renew his covenant with God, and God will renew His covenant with him. My brethren, show true repentance for departure from God. Let angels and men see that there is forgiveness of sin with God. Extraordinary power from God must take hold of Seventh-day Adventist churches. Reconversion must take place among the members, that as God’s witnesses they may testify to the authoritative power of the truth that sanctifies the soul. Renewed, purified, sanctified, the church must be, else the wrath of God will fall upon them with much greater power than upon those who have never professed to be saints. {Lt63-1903}

 

Said the angel, “Jesus has nearly finished His work in the sanctuary. It is no time to be stupid now. A quick work will the Lord do upon the earth. The four angels will soon let go the four winds.” Said the angel, “Beware how thou treadest enchanted ground all around the east and west, north and south. If Satan can get thee to slumber now, he is sure of his prey.” I saw that some in Israel had been half starved for food, and when the present truth was presented to them they ate it with thankfulness and gratitude like half-starved children. Said the angel, “Can ye stand in the battle in the day of the Lord? Ye need to be washed, and live in newness of life.” Then I saw that those whose hands are now engaged in making up the breach and are standing in the gaps, but that have formally since’44 broken the commandments of God and have so far followed the pope as to keep the first day instead of the seventh, would have to go down into the water and be baptized in the faith of the shut door and keeping the commandments of God, and in the faith of Jesus who is coming to sit on the throne of His father David, and to redeem Israel. I also saw that those who have been baptized as a door into the professed churches will have to be baptized out of that door again, and into the faith mentioned above; and all who have not been baptized since’44 will have to be baptized before Jesus comes, and some will not gain progress now until that duty is done, and then they must live anew unto God and serve Him faithfully. 18MR 11.4

 

Men whose lives are not holy and who are unqualified to teach the present truth enter the field without being acknowledged by the church or the brethren generally, and confusion and disunion are the result. Some have a theory of the truth, and can present the argument, but lack spirituality, judgment, and experience; they fail in many things which it is very necessary for them to understand before they can teach the truth. Others have not the argument, but because a few brethren hear them pray well and give an exciting exhortation now and then, they are pressed into the field, to engage in a work for which God has not qualified them and for which they have not sufficient experience and judgment. Spiritual pride comes in, they are lifted up, and act under the deception of thinking that they are laborers. They do not know themselves. They lack sound judgment and patient reasoning, talk boastingly of themselves, and assert many things which they cannot prove from the Word. God knows this; therefore He does not call such to labor in these perilous times, and brethren should be careful not to push those out into the field whom He has not called. EW 97.2

 

Those men who are not called of God are generally the very ones that are the most confident that they are so called and that their labors are very important. They go into the field and do not generally exert a good influence; yet in some places they have a measure of success, and this leads them and others to think that they are surely called of God. It is not a positive evidence that men are called of God because they have some success; for angels of God are now moving upon the hearts of His honest children to enlighten their understanding as to the present truth, that they may lay hold upon it and live. And even if self-sent men put themselves where God does not put them and profess to be teachers, and souls receive the truth by hearing them talk it, this is no evidence that they are called of God. The souls who receive the truth from them receive it to be brought into trial and bondage, as they afterward find that these men were not standing in the counsel of God. Even if wicked men talk the truth, some may receive it; but it does not bring those who talked it into any more favor with God. Wicked men are wicked men still, and according to the deception they practiced upon those who were beloved of God, and according to the confusion brought into the church, so will be their punishment; their sins will not remain covered, but will be exposed in the day of God’s fierce anger. EW 98.1

 

These self-sent messengers are a curse to the cause. Honest souls put confidence in them, thinking that they are moving in the counsel of God and that they are in union with the church, and therefore suffer them to administer the ordinances, and, as duty is made plain that they must do their first works, allow themselves to be baptized by them. But when light comes, as it surely will, and they are aware that these men are not what they understood them to be, God’s called and chosen messengers, they are thrown into trial and doubt as to the truth they have received and feel that they must learn it all over again; they are troubled and perplexed by the enemy about all their experience, whether God has led them or not, and are not satisfied until they are again baptized and begin anew. It is much more wearing to the spirits of God’s messengers to go into places where those have been who have exerted this wrong influence than to enter new fields. God’s servants have to deal plainly, act openly, and not cover up wrongs; for they are standing between the living and the dead and must render an account of their faithfulness, their mission, and the influence they exert over the flock of which the Lord has made them overseers. EW 99.1

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES – THE WORDS OF BAPTISM

 The prejudice of the Jews was aroused because THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS DID NOT USE THE EXACT WORDS OF JOHN IN THE RITE OF BAPTISM. JOHN BAPTIZED UNTO REPENTANCE, BUT THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS, ON PROFESSION OF THE FAITH, BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. The teachings of John were in perfect harmony with those of Jesus, yet his disciples became jealous for fear his influence was diminishing. A dispute arose between them and the disciples of Jesus in regard to the form of words proper to use at baptism, and finally as to the right of the latter to baptize at all. 2SP 136.1 – 2SP 136.3

 

  • Before He left them, Christ gave His followers a positive promise that after His ascension He would send them the Holy Spirit. “Go ye therefore,” He said, “and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER A [PERSONAL GOD] AND OF THE SON A [PERSONAL SAVIOUR], AND OF THE HOLY GHOST sent from heaven to represent Christ: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:19, 20. 12MR 260.2

 

It is of special notice that in this baptismal formula above, Ellen White does not talk of a PERSONAL SPIRIT but she talks the same of the Father and the Son.

 

  • In the Book of Acts Now they heard the disciples declaring that it was the Son of God who had been crucified. Priests and rulers trembled. Conviction and anguish seized the people. “They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Among those who listened to the disciples were devout Jews, who were sincere in their belief. The power that accompanied the words of the speaker convinced them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” AA 43.1 – AA 43.2

 

  • “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? And they said unto him, WE HAVE NOT SO MUCH AS HEARD WHETHER THERE BE ANY HOLY GHOST. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE ON HIM WHICH SHOULD COME AFTER HIM, THAT IS, ON CHRIST JESUS. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-5) “These brethren knew nothing of the mission of the Holy Spirit. When asked by Paul if they had received the Holy Ghost, they answered, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.’ ‘Unto what then were ye baptized?’ Paul inquired, and they said, ‘Unto John’s baptism.’ “Then the apostle set before them the great truths that are the foundation of the Christian’s hope. He told them of Christ’s life on this earth and of His cruel death of shame. He told them how the Lord of life had broken the barriers of the tomb and risen triumphant over death. HE REPEATED THE SAVIOUR’S COMMISSION TO HIS DISCIPLES: ‘ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH. GO YE THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.’ MATTHEW 28:18, 19. He told them also of Christ’s promise to send the Comforter, through whose power mighty signs and wonders would be wrought, and he described how gloriously this promise had been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy the brethren listened to Paul’s words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and received Him as their Redeemer. THEY WERE THEN BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS, and as Paul ‘laid his hands upon them,’ they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which they were enabled to speak the languages of other nations and to prophesy. Thus they were qualified to labor as missionaries in Ephesus and its vicinity and also to go forth to proclaim the gospel in Asia Minor…” (AA 282.2 to 283.1)

 

Their badge of authority for teaching and preaching religious matters was by the name or authority of Jesus. All the records in the book of Acts that mentioned the baptism performed by the apostles were not an allusion to the “form of words” to be used, but the mention of Jesus’ name was alluding to the authority that gave them the right to preach, teach, heal, and to baptize. However, when they baptized, the form of words that they used were the ones instructed by the Lord in Matthew 28:19. Notice: –

 

  • The disciples were to carry their work forward in Christ’s name. Their every word and act was to fasten attention on His name, as possessing that vital power by which sinners may be saved. Their faith was to center in Him who is the source of mercy and power. In His name they were to present their petitions to the Father, and they would receive answer. THEY WERE TO BAPTIZE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. Christ’s name was to be their watchword, their BADGE of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing was to be recognized in His kingdom that did not bear His name and superscription. {AA 28.2}

 

We earlier read that:

  • The prejudice of the Jews was aroused because the disciples of Jesus did not use the exact words of john in the rite of baptism. John baptized unto repentance, but the disciples of Jesus, on profession of the faith, BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. The teachings of John were in perfect harmony with those of Jesus, yet his disciples became jealous for fear his influence was diminishing. A dispute arose between them and the disciples of Jesus in regard to the form of words proper to use at baptism, and finally as to the right of the latter to baptize at all. 2SP 136.1 – 2SP 136.3

 

The disciples of John had declared that all men were coming to Christ; but with clearer insight, John said, “No man receiveth His witness;” so few were ready to accept Him as the Saviour from sin. But “he that hath received His witness hath set his seal to this, that God is true.” John 3:33, R. V. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” NO NEED OF DISPUTATION AS TO WHETHER CHRIST’S BAPTISM OR JOHN’S PURIFIED FROM SIN. IT IS THE GRACE OF CHRIST THAT GIVES LIFE TO THE SOUL. APART FROM CHRIST, BAPTISM, LIKE ANY OTHER SERVICE, IS A WORTHLESS FORM. “HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT THE SON SHALL NOT SEE LIFE.”  {DA 181.2}

For pdf click on the title below

Of Baptism and Rebaptism

God bless you all

 

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