« AnteriorContinuar »
cloud, and in the sea." Now it is evident, that they were baptized in no other way than by being sprinkled with the spray, or drops, falling from the cloud. But I need not enlarge. The attentive and critical reader well knows, that the original term means sprinkling as well as immersion. Paul, Heb. ix. 10, calls the Jewish purifications, which we know were generally performed by affusion or sprinkling, divers washings. In the original it is διαφοροις
2. It will occur to every reader, that in sacraments, it is an object of high importance, that there should be as strict a resemblance between the sign and the thing signified as the nature of the case admits of. We have before remarked, that the water in baptism ought to be pure, to make it a proper emblem of spiritual cleansing. We now assert, that the water used in baptism ought to be applied in that way, in which the benefits signified by the water are said to be applied; and in what way are those benefits said to be applied? By sprinkling. This is an important consideration; and to me it appears to possess more weight than any other that can be urged in relation to the subject in dispute. forming our judgment of the validity of the mode by aspersion (says the writer above referred to), it deserves to be particularly remarked, that sprinkling is, throughout the sacred writings, used as one of the most common and significant emblems of purity, of cleansing, of repentance-of every thing that is implied in the waters of baptism. Not to speak of the
innumerable aspersions used for this purpose under the Levitical law: The blood of the atonement is expressly called the blood of sprinkling, Heb. xii. 24. Isaiah, in announcing the office and the grace of the future Messiah, declares he shall sprinkle many nations, (lii. 15.) The prophet Ezekiel, in proclaiming the sanctifying influence of the gospel, does it by this figure: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean," (xxxvi. 25.) And when the Apostle would express in the strongest terms that purity of mind which, in our approaches to God, we ought to bring with us to the throne of grace, he says Heb. x. 22, Let us come to him having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience."
It is not necessary to multiply quotations, nor to comment on the passages cited in the foregoing extract: They speak for themselves; and with one accord declare, that the benefits signified and sealed in baptism, particularly justification, and sanctification, are in scripture spoken of under the idea of sprinkling; and that, therefore, baptism not only may, but ought to be administered, under the form of sprinkling.
3. A third consideration in favour of baptism by sprinkling relates to Apostolic practice.
In the second chapter of Acts, we are informed, that on the memorable day of Pentecost, when a glorious wave-offering, the first fruits of a more glorious harvest, was presented to the Lord, three
housand persons were converted, and by baptism added to the church. Now it is not to be believed, that all these were baptized by immersion: Nay, it was utterly impossible, that Peter, and all the assistants, of whose services he could avail himself, could in that way have baptized such a multitude in one day.
The case of Cornelius, the centurion, of whom we have an account in the xth chapter of Acts, is also in point. When, under the preaching of Peter, the Holy Ghost, in his miraculous gifts, as well as saving grace, fell upon Cornelius, and others assembled on the occasion, Peter said, "Can any man forbid water (intimating that the water had to be brought, and then applied,) that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we ?"
The baptism of the Jailor, related in the xvith chapter of Acts, is the last I shall notice to prove that the Apostles baptized by sprinkling. It was midnight when the foundations of the prison were shaken, by a great earthquake-when all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed,— at the dead hour of the night, and in the midst of all the confusion occasioned by the earthquake, &c. the trembling Jailor cried, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? and they (Paul and Silas) said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house; and
he took them, the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized he and his straightway."
Now, let who will believe, that the Jailor left the prison exposed at midnight, (the doors having just been thrown open, and the bands of the prisoners loosed,) and went to a place, convenient for administering baptism by immersion. To me it appears most evident, that the hour of the night, and the state of the prison, both forbad the Jailor's leaving the house; and that baptism was then, as it always ought to be, administered by sprinkling.
Indeed, I question very much whether the New Testament gives account of a single baptism administered by immersion, or employs a single expres→ sion which can, by fair inference, be made to sanction that mode? I know that this is to question what some assert to be as clear, as though it had been written with a sun-beam. But I am not to blame, for not being able to see with other men's eyes. I am, however, not unwilling to attend to what they have discovered, and to listen to what they have to say, in relation to this matter.
'The baptism of John, (say they) was adminis→ tered by immersion; and this is evident from the circumstance, that he retired to Enon, near Salim, because there was much water there.' John iii. 23.
To this we reply, that as John's baptism preceded the introduction of the evangelical dispensation, it is not entitled to the high distinction of gospel baptism; neither can his practice be imposed on us as
a rule, by which we are to be regulated, in the administration of that ordinance. Very great, unquestionably, was the honour which the Master put upon the Baptist, by commissioning him to be his forerunner, to prepare his way to announce his advent
and to point him out to the multitude, as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.* But the honour of a name, and a standing in the gospel church, was never conferred on this distin guished character. Such honour was expressly denied him by the Saviour, when he said, "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven [i. e. gospel church] is greater than he." The evangelical dispensation did not commence until the types had received their accomplishment, by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Then the Redeemer exclaimed, with his expiring breath, It is finished; and then, too, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. Both expressive of the fact, that then the ceremonial law had received its accomplishment, and answered its purpose; and that then the new state of things, or evangelical age,
was to commence.
This fact suggests the propriety of enquiring into the nature and object of the baptism of John. Such enquiry will be of use, on more than one occasion, in the course of our remarks. And if we succeed in establishing our assertion, that the baptism of John
*Jo. i. 29.
+ Matt. xi. 11..