Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

its being baptism, there is a very serious opposition to our views of scriptural truth; when an infant, or any unbelieving person receivés sprinkling on the faith, as is sometimes said, of the parent, or some other ancestor, or the guardian, or of the church, there is a still wider departure from what we deem to be the representations of Scripture. Now since the opinions respecting baptism are the foundation of the difficulty respecting the Lord's supper, we claim that the whole ground of dissent in regard to baptism should be kept in view.

We have made these distinct explanations in this place, so that if, in the progress of the discussion, our remarks should be restricted to a part of the controversy respecting baptism, we yet may not be misunderstood.

Dr Griffin attempts to prove that immersion is not essential to the performance of baptism. “In the nature of things," says he in his first reason, “the validity of the ordinance cannot depend on the quantity of water, for the end is essentially answered by less as well as by more. The correctness of this assertion depends solely on the answer to the question, What is the end or design of baptism? A question, we hesitate not to say, the inost important in regard to baptism; decisive of every point in controversy, whether respect be had to the manner in which the ordinance is to be performed, or to the subjects to whom it should be administered. Settle this point, and there will be no further occasion for dispute respecting baptism. Would every minister of Christ, in simplicity and godly sincerity, search the Scriptures, in order to discover what is the design of this ordinance, or what purpose it is intended to answer; and would he follow into all its necessary consequences the result of this investigation, there would soon be but one mind and one judgment among the stewards of the mysteries of God. Would every person about to make a public profession of religion, examine what the Scriptures say on this point, unbiassed by any extraneous considerations; and then, with unwavering confidence in God, act in accordance with the Scriptural design of baptism, what a vast diminution would there be of that mental disquietude which so many experience at that tender and interesting period—and which even ministers of the Lord Jesus sometimes endeavor to remove by the unwarrantable representations that such a time is not suitable for examining the subject; that, after having made a profession of religion, it can better be investigated ; that baptism is nonessential; that it is a mere form of a ceremony; that one way is as good as another. Our hearts sicken when we think how even good men prevent disciples of the Lord from ascertaining and obeying his will; when we are compelled to think, that some who are appointed to be lights in the church, do really envelope in darkness the tender mind of a young convert who wishes to inquire, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?

It is our honest conviction, that there are in the Bible, statements in regard to baptism sufficiently explicit to show what this service means.

So plainly does the Bible seem to us to speak on

this point that we think no emendation necessary to make it speak more plainly. The author of this letter declares what he conceives to be the end of baptism. “It is,” he says, “only an emblem; an emblem which, voluntarily used, is a profession of faith in a purifying Saviour.” This language needs no comment: baptism is “ an emblem of purification;" and he who voluntarily uses it expresses his "faith in a purifying Saviour." From this representation of an uninspired man, we turn to the oracles of God, 'to the law and to the testimony;' for if men, however venerable through age, or learning, or dignity of manners and station, or piety, • speak not according to this word,' we hold ourselves bound to desert their guidance.

When we first meet with baptism as performed under the authority of our Lord, mentioned in the Gospel by John iv. 1, 2, and then go forward to the solemn period when he extended the commission and said, 'Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost :' that is, baptizing them into the worship and service of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the first thought that enters our mind is, that baptism was intended to separate from all others and to collect into one body, all the truly pious. But while this general purpose was answered and was conspicuous even from the commencement, there were some particular ends to be accomplished, for which baptism had a peculiar significancy. Water being a purifying element, and bathing for cleanliness as well as for comfort, being customary, Jesus also having come to save his people from their sins, how appropriate is baptism to express the idea of cleansing, of moral purification! In conformity with this design was the address of Ananias to Saul of Tarsus, when this persecutor of the church had become a disciple of the Lord Jesus: 'Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

To the same purpose, in immediate connexion with 'putting off the body of the sins of the flesh,' by Christian circumcision, that is, by the renovation of the heart, the Colossians (ii. 11, 12,) are represented as having been buried in baptism.'

Is there any additional significancy in this rite? In the Acts of the Apostles, viii. 37, 38, occurs the account of the Ethiopian officer baptized by Philip. As a nccessary antecedent to his receiving of baptism, the eunuch made the following profession. 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. During the conver-sation between Philip and this man, a minute account appears to have been given of the character, the sufferings, and the consequent glory of the Lord. He was induced to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. A reference to Romans x. 9, will lead us to think that in this profession there was included the belief of a specially important event: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. In the act, then, of confessing the Lord Jesus, there is also implied a belief in his resSept. 1829.

40

urrection from the dead, and in his previous death and burial. That this object was always viewed by the primitive Christians in close connexion with baptism, we have the fullest evidence from Romans vi. 3. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ,' or as his disciples, were baptized into his death,' or did by our baptism acknowledge his death as declared in the gospel ? And that with this acknowledgment of the Saviour's death,' there was also in baptism an acknowledgment of our duty to be dead to sin and to lead a new life, is evident from the succeeding verse. “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.'

In writing to the Colossians also, the Apostle very distinctly brings to view this striking significancy of baptism: ii. 12. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein (in which emblem) also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God (or through faith in the power of God) who hath raised him from the dead.'

In 1 Peter iii. 21, the same connexion between baptism and the resurrection of our Lord is exhibited. In the ark of Noah, 'eight souls were saved by water; the like figure whereunto, even baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,' that is, the profession of a conscience made tranquil towards God, 'by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.'

With this view of the design of Christian baptism, how accordant is the remark of the apostle in the epistle to the Galatians, iii. 27. 'For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ,' that is, as his disciples,' have put on Christ,' that is, have entered into a very intimate union with Christ; a union in regard to moral disposition, and in regard to the relation towards God, as his children. How is this union represented ? Not merely by performing a ceremony, but by performing the appointed ceremony which symbolically represents him as having undergone a death on account of sin, and yourselves as having undergone a death unto sin ; a ceremony which reminds you of him as rising to a state of triumph and glory, and represents yourselves as rising to a spiritual and divine life.

Look now at the end of baptism, and say whether it is answered by less water as well as by more. One can hardly help exclaiming, How meagre is the account of baptism in this letter! How materially do our Christian brethren divest this ordinance of its significancy! How different are the considerations which they associate with baptism, from those with which the apostles cheered and incited the early believers, whenever this ordinance supplied them with topics of remark! And we cannot help adding, how much ought Baptists to feel themselves peculiarly bound to cherish a mortified temper; to live not to themselves but to him who died for them, and into whose death they have been baptized ; to him who rose again, and in conformity to whose resurrection they

have by a most significant rite acknowledged their obligation to walk in newness of life!

Baptism is more than a profession of faith in a purifying Saviour. It is also a profession of faith in a Saviour dying, buried, rising from the dead. Can the death, the burial, the resurrection of the Saviour be represented by less water as well as by more? What person, when he sees a wet hand applied to a child's or an adult's forehead, or a few drops of water scattered on his face, is by this act reminded of a dying and a rising Saviour, and of the individual's death, to sin, and resurrection to spiritual life? So en. tirely destitute of such significancy is sprinkling, that we wonder not at the acknowledgements which candid Pedobaptists make, and at the difficulty which others feel in reference to the above quoted passages from the Epistle to the Romans, and from that to the Colossians.

Since a mistake lies at the foundation of the argument we have been considering, the argument manifestly is of no force. The end of baptism cannot be answered, unless there be an immersion of the believer ; hence immersion is essential to the validity of the ordinance. And hence we cannot regard as baptized, those who have not been immersed ; and not regarding them as baptized, Dr Griffin's own avowed principles will not permit us to unite with them at the Lord's table, even though we esteem them as Christians.

From this account of our opinion respecting baptism, it is man. ifest that it is viewed in very different lights by Baptists and by Pedobaptists. In our view, it sustains an intimate connexion with those events on which are suspended our dearest hopes, as candidates for immortality. So that when we think of the Lord Jesus as delivered for our offences, and as raised again for our justification, our thoughts naturally recur to the time when we were buried in baptism, when we voluntarily submitted to an act which publicly marked us as dead to sin, and which publicly sealed our avowal of obligation and our declaration of serious purpose to lead a holy life. And 0, what a reproof is a remembrance of that hour adapted to convey to our hearts ! Meditation on our having been baptized, suggests to our minds the fact that we have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, and the obligation 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.' Connecting baptism thus with the history of Christ, and with our obligations to be conformed to him, it cannot be surprising that we are always willing to converse respecting it, and that we desire all Christians to participate in correct views of it.

We mean not to intimate that those whose opinions differ from ours respecting this ordinance, connect with it no practical considerations. But many of the considerations which they connect with it are such as the Apostles did not present in connexion with baptism; and a part of those which the Apostles did connect with it they omit. When we think of this fact, we wonder not at the long continued controversy; for the reasonings on the opposite

sides proceed from materially different views, almost as if they had respect to disconnected subjects. The design of baptism should be the point in controversy. This design, in our opinion, is not the same as it is represented by Pedobaptists. How can the writer of this letter expect, then, that we should act according to the consequence which he draws from his opinion of the design? Let us all, in the first place, acknowledge the truth as to the scriptural design of baptism, -and we venture to promise that he and we will go hand in hand iu observing all things which the Lord has commanded his disciples.

We would remark in passing, that the Design of Baptism has been so amply discussed in the sermon preached, Sept. 1828, by Professor Chase, before the Boston Association, and which has recently appeared in a third edition, that it seems to us unnecessary to enter more fully upon this subject. To that sermon we respectfully invite the attention of all who seriously wish to ascertain the truth.

The principle implied in the second reason of this letter, however true in general, is not appropriate to the matter in hand. For although “an emblem of purification applied to a part of the body is as effectual as if applied to the whole body," it by no means follows that the application of a few drops of water to a part of the body is valid baptism ; because, however such an application might be an emblem of purification, it cannot be an emblem of the other things which enter into the design of baptism, and consequently it cannot answer the ends of baptism. To Dr Griffin's use of the passage of Scripture introduced in this connexion, John xii, 1–10, we have two objections to make. First, It was no part of our Saviour's design to communicate, in that pas. sage, instruction respecting baptism. Secondly, In order to defend Dr Griffin's explanation, there must be conceived to be in our Lord's remark to Peter, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet,' a strange mixing of figurative and of literal language; as, He that is washed (that is, he that has experienced an inward cleansing) needeth not save to wash his feet (that is, literally to wash a part of his body.)

Let the passage speak for itself. As one of the closing acts of our Saviour's life, he wished in a striking manner to correct the disposition which his disciples had manifested in the question, Who shall be greatest ? Accordingly, he prepared to wash their feet; a service which his disciples, from the customs of the country, had associated with the most menial situation. Peter could not endure the thought that he, to whom he had always looked up with reverence, as altogether his superior ; he who stood in the exalted dignity of the Messiah, should perform for him the most menial part of a servant's duty. The Saviour endeavored to gain the consent of Peter by assuring him that though he did not then perceive what was intended by this transaction, yet when it had been performed, it should be explained to him. Peter still declined. Our Lord then solemnly assured him, 'If I wash thee not, thou

« AnteriorContinuar »