Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the disciples of Jesus, were performed by dipping the subject into cold water ; as is evident from the following passages.

Matt. iii. 6, Bertilorto sy tq logdar were baptized in Jordan. v. 16. Insovs even ato tov üdatos Jesús ascended out of the water. John iii. 23. étı üdata modda gy azgı because there was much water there.

.“ And that they actually did understand it so, is proved, partly by those passages in the New Testament, which evidently allude to immersion. Acts viii. 36, &c. 'ore aveßnoay ex tou jdatos when they had come up out of the water. v. 39. xvi. 12—15, Fague Terapoy at the river.

Rom. vi. 4, συνεταφημεν αυτω (το Χριστω) δια του βαπτισματος, ένα ώσπερ ηγερθη Xριστος εκ νεκρων are buried with him, (Christ) by baptism, so that as Christ was raised from the dead, &c. Compare Col. ii. 12, and 1 Peter iii. 21, where baptism is termed the antitype (HYTITUTOV) of the flood. And partly, from the fact, that immersion was so customary in the ancient church, that even in the third century, the baptism of the sick, who were merely-sprinkled with water, was entirely neglected by some, and by others was thought inferior to the baptism of those who were in health, and who received baptism not merely by aspersion, but who actually bathed themselves in water. This is evident from Cyprian (Epist. 69. ed. Bremæ, p. 185, &c.) and Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. I. vi. cap. 43,) where we find the following extract from the letter of the Roman Bishop Cornelius : *Novatus received baptism on a sick bed, by aspersion, (reguxudeus,) if it can be said that such a person received baptism.' *No person who had, during sickness, been baptized by aspersion, was admitted into the clerical office. Moreover, the old custom of immersion was also retained a long time in the western church, at least in the case of those who were not indisposed. And, even after aspersion had been fully introduced in a part of the western churches, there yet remained several, who for some time adhered to the ancient custom. Under these circumstances, it is certainly to be lamented, that Luther was not able to accomplish his wish with regard to the introduction of immersion in baptism, as he had done in the restoration of wine in the Eucharist.” pp. 290, 291. A few lines after, speaking of the change of the ancient custom of immersion, he says, It ought not to have been made." *

* The preceding extract is from an English translation of a work in German; which German work is a translation from the Latin of Storr's Christian Doctrine, accompanied with notes and illustrations, by Professor Flatt. It is worthy of being known, that the translator into English has employed certain terms in this connexion, which are not warranted by the real opinions of Storr. We refer to the “caption, or summary view of contents” prefixed to the Illustration from which the extract is taken. By referring to the work, our readers may see that the following sentence introduces this Illustration : The primitive mode was probably by immersion.”. This qualified remark, so poorly adapted to the illustration which it introduces, did not proceed from Storr, but from the translator into English. With Storr the truth of what he asserts was not a matter of mere probability, but of moral certainty. The following expression deserves also to be specified : “who actually bathed themselves in water.” The words which Storr used are, when correctly translated, were bathed. The use of the word themselves, intimating by its connexion, that the baptized performed the operation themselves,

Storr mentions the wish of Luther respecting the use of immersion. In the appendix to Professor Chase's sermon, is an extract from the works of Luther, in which that eminent reformer very explicitly states his conviction in regard to baptism.

Passing by the concessions which might be drawn from the commentaries of Macknight, and Rosenmueller, and others, we invite attention to two or three sentences from the Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus of Suicer; a work in two folio volumes, exhibiting a digest of the voluminous theological writings of the Greek Fathers.

* The going under and then rising in baptism was used, that thus the burial and the resurrection of Christ might be shadowed forth. This the ancient writers teach.'*

* This going under and then rising, was in use in the first centuries which immediately succeeded the apostolic age. This is plain from those testimonies of the Fathers which with sufficient copiousness have already been adduced.'t

These declarations are abundantly sustained by appropriate extracts from the Fathers, as any one may see by consulting the work.

See also the result to which this learned author was led in regard to the subjects of baptism in the primitive ages, by his lengthened and laborious investigation of the early Christian writers.

like the Jewish proselytes, did not originate with Storr. In proof of what we have stated, we copy the original Latin of Storr.

Quum discipulos baptizari jussit Dominus (Matt. xxviii. 19,) apostoli per ea, quæ antecesserant (Jo. i. 25, 26, 28, 31, 33. iv. 1, 2. coll. Matth. iii. 6, 16. Jo. iii. 23,) nihil aliud intelligere potuerunt, quam immergendos esse homines aqua, nec intellexerunt profecto aliud, nisi immersionem, ut sacrarum literarum testimonio (Act. viii. 36-39. xvi. 13~15. Rom. vi. 4. Col. ii. 12. 1 Pet. iii. 21.) et priscæ ecclesiæ usu (v. Suiceri Thes. eccles. voc. avaduw, et Binghami Orig. eccl. I. xi. c. xi. Opp. Lond. 1726. Anglice editorum Vol. I. p. 521. ss.) patet, quo immersio ita recepta fuerat, ut seculo adhuc tertio vel clinicorum baptismus propterea, quod perageretur affundenda aqua, ab aliis omnino rejectus, ab aliis certe baptisino reliquorum, qui sani baptizati, h. e. aqua salutari non ægrorum more perfusi, aut adspersi, sed loti (Eph. v. 26. Tit. iii. 5. i Petr. iii. 21, cf. Ebr. x. 22,) essent, longe prosthabitus fuerit (v. Cypriani Ep. 69. ed. Brem. p. 185. ss. et Cornelium, Romanæ ecclesiæ episcopum, apud Eusebium I. vi. H. E. c. 43. p. 244. s.) Ceterum vetus consuetudo certe in iis, qui sani baptizabantur, etiam in occidentali ecclesia diu servata est, imo tum quoque, cum partim ex ecclesiis occidentalibus, immutato pristino more, affusionem universe introduxissent, non defuerunt aliæ, quæ veterem consuetudi. nem tenere aliquamdiu pergerent. Quæ cum ita sint, id omnino dolendum est (cf. Buddei Inst. theol. dogm. p. 1444 -1446,) quod Luthero nostro optata, quæ de immersionis usurpatione in baptismo deinceps administrando æque, ac de calicis usu communi in sacra coena, optavit (v. Opp. Lips. 1729. T. xvii. p. 272, 536,) ex altera duntaxat parte licuit perficere.-Doctrinæ Christiane Pars Theoretica e Sacris Literis Repetita. pp. 313, 314.

* Keruduois ista et Avaduois ideo in Baptismo fuit adhibita, ut sepultura et resurrectio Christi hac ratione adumbrarentur. Id docent veteres.- Tom. I. p. 260. Art. avaduw.

+ Hæc autem demersio et emersio primis aliquot seculis, quæ Apostolicum ævum proximé exceperunt, in usu fuit. Patet hoc ex iis Veterum testimoniis, quæ copiosé satis hucusque adducta sunt.- Tom. I. p. 261. Art. avaduw.

[ocr errors]

• In the first two centuries, no one received baptism, unless being instructed in the faith, and imbued with the doctrine of Christ, he could testify that he was a believer-on account of these words, He that believeth and is baptized. Therefore to believe preceded. Thence arose in the church the order of Catechumens. It was also then the constant custom, that the Eucharist should be given to those Catechumens immediately after baptism. Afterwards the opinion prevailed, that no one could be saved unless he had been baptized. But because formerly the Eucharist was given to adult Catechumens as soon as they had been bathed in sacred baptism, this also was appointed to be done in the case of infants, after Pedobaptism was introduced.'

Such were the sentiments of this learned man; sentiments which resulted from twenty years' indefatigable researches among the writings of the early Christian Fathers.

Had there, then, been no departure from primitive practice, im-
mersion would have been universal. But can this departure from
the originally established form be justified? Yes, say some men;

because the change of the ancient custom of immersion, although
it ought not to have been made, destroys nothing that is essential
to this ceremony as it was instituted by our Saviour.' But sure-
ly it is essential to this ceremony that it be the significant action
ordained by our Lord. The change which human contrivance
has introduced may answer some of the purposes intended, yet in
other respects it destroys the significancy of the ordinance. Im-
mersion expresses the whole, but any substitute necessarily omits a
part of what was intended to be expressed. Shall we, then, make
void any part of God's commands, through a confessedly human
contrivance?

Dr Griffin's fifth remark, that if nothing but immersion is baptism, there is no visible church except among the Baptists,' is a conclusion of his own forming, for which we have already disclaimed all responsibility. The fact, however, that God pours out

[ocr errors]

* Primis duobus seculis nemo Baptismum accipiebat, nisi qui, in fide instructus, et doctrinâ Christi imbutus, testari posset, se credere, propter illa verba, Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit. Ergo prius erat credere. Inde ordo Catechumenorum in Ecclesia. Mos etiam tum perpetuus constanter observatus fuit, ut secundum Baptismum Catechumenis illis statim daretur Eucharistia. Postea opinio invaluit, neminem salvari posse, nisi qui baptizatus fuisset. Quia autem Catechumenis adultis olim simul ac loti fuissent sacro Baptismate, dabatur Eucharistia, hoc etiam in infantibus ut fieret institutum, post Pædobaptismum introductum. Tom. II. p. 1131. Art. Euratıs, IV. b.

+ The following is the title of his work: Joh. Caspari Suiceri SS. Lingg. in Schola Tigurina Professoris Publici Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus e Patribus Græcis, Ordine Alphabetico, exhibens, quæcunque Phrases, Ritus, Dogmata, Hæreses, et hujusmodi alia spectant. Insertis infinitis penè vocibus, loquendique generibus Græcis, hactenus à Lexicographis vel nondum vel obiter saltem tractatis. Opus Novum, Viginti annorum indefesso labore adornatum. Amstelædami,

It will be gratifying to many of our readers to know that, by the munificence of a generous friend, an extensive collection of the early Greek and Latin Fathers, selected with much care in Europe, has recently been added to the library of the Newton Theological Institution.

[ocr errors]

MDCLXXXII.

his Spirit upon Pedobaptists in their assemblies, and at the table of the Lord,' that they 'spread around them the savor of the Redeemer's name by their holy examples and evangelical efforts,' and that they are a great majority of the chosen instruments to carry the gospel to the heathen, can be explained otherwise than by referring it to the divine acknowledgment of their being churches. The error which our Pedobaptist brethren cherish, though producing injurious effects, cannot prevent all the consequences which appropriately flow from the many precious truths which they maintain. When their ministers preach repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, clearly and forcibly, God will bless his truth. When they devote their wealth and their exertions to the spread of the gospel, God will bless their efforts, notwithstanding the error with which they have enveloped a part of divine truth. But it becomes them to consider whether, if they should receive the whole truth of God, and open their hearts to its whole influence, a still greater blessing would not rest upon them, both at home and abroad; and whether

they would not be happily freed from many perplexing and hurtful circumstances. It is our belief, that if, with all their present advantages for growing in piety, and for usefulness, they also should abandon error respecting baptism, and come under the influence of the whole truth as it is in Jesus, the result would be inconceivably happy.

What occurs under the sixth head is so similar to what immediately precedes, that we deem it unnecessary to make any additional explanations. We will only ask, whether, supposing it to be true, that Pedobaptist 'preachers are not church members, and therefore have no right to preach, and certainly are not ministers of Christ, and therefore have no right to administer the Lord's supper, and are guilty of awful profanity in doing this,' whether, even supposing all this to be indubitably true, Dr Griffin seriously believes that God would drive them from the earth like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? Does he honestly believe this? Men sometimes speak boldly, rather than soberly. What if we should hear of a profane company of young men meeting, during a revival of religion, for the express purpose of celebrating in mockery the ordinance of the Lord's supper; and it should be told us that He who is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, did not cause the earth to open and to swallow up the offenders; but that on the contrary, so marvellous are the ways of God, there was fastened on the conscience of one, such a conviction of guilt that he found no peace till he applied to that Saviour with whose sufferings he had been sporting :-Would this exceed the bounds of belief? The dispensation under which we are permitted to live does not require those immediate, outward manifestations of divine displeasure which were appropriate to a former age. The remarks under the seventh head and under the eighth,

imply that the refusing to mingle ourselves with our Pedobaptist brethren in celebrating the Lord's supper, is a violation of the

spirit of Christian love and union; and arises from bigotry and selfishness. Thus we come back to the hackneyed commonplace in which many people indulge themselves. And is it Dr Griffin that is treading upon this beaten ground? a man who seems to perceive on what principle the Baptists withhold from uniting with others at the Lord's table, and who assents to the correctness of the principle; a man who has been understood to vindicate Baptists from the charge of illiberality, and who has been understood to say that if his sentiments on baptism corresponded with those of the Baptists he would practise as they do in regard to communion ? Henceforth we will not wonder when the unreflecting multitude thus accuse us. We will leave our cause with God, and earnestly implore that we and all our Christian brethren may be more thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the Lord Jesus; that the strife of tongues may cease; that whether we, or they, are in fault, error may be exposed, and that under the mild influences of truth, the church of the Lord may flourish.

Our hearts were pained by the unkind remarks under these heads. Let any Christian solemnly reflect on the endearing relation which subsists among the children of God, the expectants of heavenly bliss ; let him warm his heart by meditating on the love of Jesus Christ, and by communing with his Lord and Master, and we persuade ourselves he will regret that such a train of thought should have been expressed, when the conscientious, selfdenying practice of acknowledged brethren in Christ was the subject. We judge not the author of these remarks. We believe the recollection of his having made them, and of his having permitted them to be published, must excite some painful emotions. There is, too, so manifest a difference between the casting of such reflections, and the manner in which the letter commences, that one might be excused for doubting whether both parts came from the same pen. But so it is. And we are compelled to place this among the proofs, that age and experience, dignity and piety, may swerve from Christian kindness and rectitude; may be mingled with human imperfections, and may still have occasion in brokenness of heart to seek forgiveness from that Saviour who can abundantly pardon.

We refuse not to associate at the Lord's table with other Christians because we are bigoted, or selfish, or because we wish to shut our adherents in by a sort of impassable gulf. The practice for which we are censured is not recommended to us except by a regard to what we think the will of our Lord. Nor is the practice at all inconsistent with the purest and most generous Christian love. For we can love our brethren with pure hearts fervently, while yet we do not join with them in every religious observance. There are occasions, and those of perpetual occurrence, on which the expressions of Christian affection are less questionably genuine, than the occasion afforded by celebrating the Lord's supper. Our practice does not imply want of love for the disciples of our Lord; it implies conscientious adherence to principles which we think our Lord has established in his church. Nor is our practice

« AnteriorContinuar »