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and the person baptized, they went down both into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch.
This, however, was not the baptismal act; going into the water was not baptizing; for after the historian had stated that they went down both into the water, he adds, " and he baptized him." How the ordinance was administered the inspired writer has not told us. This we are therefore left to gather from the circumstances of the case; and from what in Scripture appears to have been the uniform practice of the Apostles.
The plain, common sense interpretation of this passage undoubtedly is this; Philip and the now believing Eunuch, having come to water, and not being furnished with a vessel for dipping water, it was necessary for them to walk down to, and perhaps to step in the water, (which would unhesitatingly be done in that warm climate, where men go barefooted, or only shod with sandals,) so that Philip might conveniently dip water with his hand, and apply it to the Eunuch. The fact, as critics well know, and has often been stated on this very point; the fact is, that the prepositions as and ex, translated into and out of, might as well have been translated to and from; so they are translated in many other parts of the New Testament, and especially in the writings of Luke. The translation of a preposition, and that a preposition of doubtful and various significations, may indeed sometimes throw light upon a subject, but can never decide a controversy.
But we have another difficulty: It relates to the
quantity of water at the place where the Eunuch was baptized. This must have been considerable, upon the supposition that he was immersed; but of this there is no evidence. GUISE, in his paraphrase of the passage has the following note, which I presume my readers will consider satisfactory; at least, until counter testimony as to the fact involved, is produced. "Ti udwp, a certain water, seems to be of dimınutive signification, and to intimate that it was not water of any depth; and JEROME, SANDYS, and other travellers, speak of it as a certain spring or fountain, that rises at the foot of a mountain in the tribe of Judah or Benjamin, whose waters are sucked in by the same ground that produces them and they report that this was the place where the Eunuch was baptized by Philip.*
Finally, the opposers of baptism by sprinkling, tell us that baptism is in Col. ii. 12, spoken of as a being buried with Christ, and that therefore the subject of this ordinance ought to be immersed or buried under the water.
I deny that this refers to water baptism; and call on the affirmer to make good his assertion. I open my Bible, and read the passage in connexion with the preceding verse: "In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the
*Vid. Hieron de locis Hebr page 41, and Sandy's Travels, lib. II. page 142.
faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
Now, here we have an account of " a circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ,"that is, we have an account of the circumcision of the heart. We have also an account of a baptism, in which the subject is buried with Christ, and also raised with him through the faith of the operation of God,—that is, we have an account of the baptism of the heart.
The latter expression has no more to do with the waters of baptism, than the former has to do with the knife of circumcision; and it would be just as logical and just as scriptural to say, as the Church of Rome does, that we ought, in baptism, to mark the subject with the cross, because regeneration and sanctification are in scripture spoken of as a being crucified with Christ.
"The evident design of the 12th verse (as Dr. Parish remarks) is to illustrate the preceding verse, which speaks of spiritual circumcision made without hands. This baptism is that by which we are raised with Christ; but in water baptism we are not always raised with Christ. If men are plunged, they may generally be raised from the water; but this has no necessary connexion with "rising with Christ." This baptism is also effected through faith, which is the operation of God; but a man may be raised out of an ocean of water every day of his life,
and remain destitute of faith. Therefore the text has no reference to water baptism."
We therefore, upon a review of the whole ground, conclude, that baptism may be properly and validly administered by sprinkling; nay, that sprinkling is the mode supported by scripture phraseology and Apostolic practice.
LETTER VI. 1
Subjects of Baptism-Adult believers, and their children.
We have ascertained, I trust, to your satisfaction, in what manner the water used in baptism is to be applied. Our next enquiry naturally is, to whom is this ordinance to be administered? To answer this question, it is necessary to recur to what has already been said concerning the nature and design of this institution. Baptism was appointed by Jesus Christ to be, under the new dispensation, the visible seal and token, of an interest in God's covenant, as circumcision was under the old. This being the fact, it follows, as a matter of course, that this seal of the covenant can, in truth, be administered only to such as are embraced in the terms and provisions of the
The badge of church-membership can, with propriety, be put only upon such as are members of the church. To baptize a person, is not to make him a member; but to recognize his previous membership. It is a public declaration, that the person so baptized is a member of the church of God, as visibly organized in the family of Abraham. This sentiment is found in our form for the administration of baptism to infants; "and therefore, as members of the church, ought to be baptized." To baptize any others, would be to mis-apply and profane a sacrament-to alienate a privilege, which God has ceded only to his church-and to seal a palpable falsehood.
The great question, then, to be resolved, is this: Who are members of the church; and in what way is this distinction acquired? This is certainly a question of primary importance; and we design to bestow upon it a suitable degree of attention.
In our examination of the Abrahamic covenant, we ascertained that the church, as visibly organized, in the family of that distinguished patriarch, embraced believing adults, together with their infant offspring. Not only the natural seed, but all under the care and government of Abraham, whether born' in his house, or bought with money; for of all such he was the moral parent.* "In the self-same day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael, his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and
See Gen. xvii. 12, 13.