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have been mentioned, except incidentally. But if positive precept or precedent be required, for all the ordinances, forms, and circumstances of christian worship, then many things, which are now practised in all churches, must be given up; and among the rest, female communion, for where is there any precept or precedent to be found for this in the word of God? It may be replied in the language of scripture, "There is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus, for ye are all one in Him." But it may with equal truth be affirmed, that in Christ Jesus there is neither adult nor infant. There is no doubt of the right of females to the privileges of the Lord's table; but there is no express precept, nor any example for it in the scriptures. The admission of females to christian communion, and that of infants to christian baptism, rest on exactly similar grounds. Admit argument from the analogy of faith, inferences from undisputed promises, the evidence of church history, and both are established upon a firm and solid foundation.
(4). Another objection has been made, on the ground that infant baptism is attended with no advantages.
This assertion I consider too unholy to deserve any notice. If the practice of infant baptism be in conformity to the word and will of God, who would presume to say that it is of no advantage? As well might it be averred that there was none in circumcision, or in adult baptism; for the same spiritual blessings are connected with the baptism of infants, as with that of adults. "Of such is the kingdom of God," and every suhject of this kingdom receives the blessings, expressly spoken of in relation to this ordinance. "If we have been planted together (by baptism) in the likeness of Christ's death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
I will conclude my subject with two brief remarks.
First.—Those principles by which infants are debarred from the privilege of christian baptism. the only introductory rite to a visible standing among God's people, appear to be unreasonable, unscriptural, and uncharitable; though their supporters may not see them to be so.
Finally, while on the one hand, we ought not to neglect an ordinance of the Lord, on the other, we must not rest in it; but consider the end, for which it was given, and the obligations under which it brings us, to live unto God. Baptism, whether it be received in our infancy, or in adult age, "is a mark of our christian profession ; which is, to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him, that as he died and rose again for us, so should we die to sin, and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living."
Matthew xxviii. 19.
GO YE THEREFORE AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.
In the plan I laid down for these discourses on the doctrine of Christian Baptism, I purposed to consider,
I. In the first place, the nature of baptism.
III. Thirdly, the mode of its administration.
IV. In the fourth place, what are the benefits connected with it?
V. And, finally, what are the obligations of the institution?
In the two preceding lectures, I fully entered on the first two particulars, shewing that baptism is the initiatory ordinance of Christianity, that it is a symbol of man's impure and corrupt state by nature, and an emblematic representation of many spiritual blessings, which are in scripture connected with it. In reference to the subjects of baptism, it was remarked, that they consist of all adults, who profess repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, together with their infant offspring. All these points were elucidated and proved, from the doctrines and declarations of the word of God, from the analogy of faith, from the practice of the church of God in all ages, and from the testimony of all the ancient fathers of the christian church who have noticed the subject. Without farther recapitulation of what has been already advanced, I now proceed to the other three heads of my subject.
III. Let us then consider, in the third place, what is the mode of the administration of baptism.
I think it may confidently be affirmed, that the mode in which this rite was administered nowhere appears in the word of God—whether by immersion, by affusion or pouring, or by sprinkling: whether one of these modes was used exclusively, or two of them were practised, or all of them were used indifferently, is not stated. I would therefore neither dispute with, nor condemn any professors of Christianity for using either of these modes in preference to the other two. That the scripture fixes on no mode is most evident. The church of England gives the preference to immersion, but admits of pouring or sprinkling, though it does not appear that the former was ever generally practised in the English church, at least, not since the time of the reformation. If any adult, however, before unbaptized, should, from conscientious scruples, wish to have the ordinance administered to him by immersion, or any parents should desire to have their children baptized by this mode, the minister, on the principle of conformity to
the rubric, would be undoubtedly bound to comply with their request. Since, therefore, scripture has not defined the mode, and no facts are recorded which prove that any one was made use of in preference to another, and much less that it was used exclusively, the inference is, that the mode of baptism is free and variable; and that the proper subject of the ordinance would be rightly baptized, whether the sacrament might be administered by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling.
But in order to remove that undue importance, which is by some attributed to the mode of immersion, arguments might be brought forward to shew, that immersion was not generally used in the primitive times of Christianity, if indeed it were used at all. These arguments may be classed under three particulars :—first, on the meaning of the word baptize; secondly, on the probabilities arising from those accounts in the word of God, where baptism is spoken of; and, thirdly, from the general language of scripture on the subject.
1. Let us consider if there be any evidence that immersion was the mode of baptism, from the meaning of the word baptize.
The advocates for dipping argue, that the word baptize, signifies exclusively to immerse. But, in fact, this is not the case. The word neither signifies to immerse, nor to pour, nor to sprinkle, exclusively, though it may be used to express either of these actions. The word "wash" answers more strictly than any other to the import of the term