Twelve Reasons why
is no Baptism
I could not help myself from purchasing this old book with such an intriguing title! It has proven to be every bit as fiery as I expected it to be, and much more challenging to immersion than I ever expected! There is no secret agenda; no slipping in an argument in a subtle or sneaky way. The title reveals the straightforward purpose of the author without any deception. Many will ask, “Why would someone oppose immersion?” It is without a doubt accepted in most every Christian circle today as “the” legitimate mode of water baptism in the New Testament and the early church!
Most today speak
dogmatically as if it has always been the case that Christians of all
generations accepted this as a fact. This however, isn’t so. Sprinkling and
pouring have been accepted modes of Christian baptism starting with the New
Testament through to today. Why would the author be so opposed to immersion?
Perhaps it is because many immersionists, especially in his day (1888), were
boldly and dogmatically exclaiming that those who were not immersed in baptism
were yet unbaptized and disobedient to the command of Christ. At that time they
were excluded from membership and Communion because they would not abjure their
former baptism in which they knew was legitimate. Such a statement would imply
that they were not real Christians, and to be rebaptized by immersion would be a
testimony that their former Christian life was a sham. This has been the
motivator of many who lived in that generation to strike out at the unchristian
attitude and false assumptions of those who marginalized them as sub-Christian
people. This still goes on today, but happens less and less as the majority of
Christians passively accept exclusive baptism by immersion without the slightest attempt
to see if any other
mode may be in Scripture. The Church, as a majority, appears
to have taken the path of least resistance and has just ignored pouring and
sprinkling as a possibility.
should you read this? Specifically because of love for truth! Secondarily, because most of us have never been told or
taught anything other than the evidence “for” immersionism, and have no idea
of its profound weaknesses. Is there a Biblical view of baptism? Can we look at
the evidence for an alternative to what we “know” with an open mind? That my
friend is up to you!
As I read these
pages, I was struck at inherent strength of the author’s argument when I
considered the “whole” of his argument. I must admit that when I initially
did a “spot” reading of the text, I did not see many of the arguments as
being all that strong; I had missed the power of all of the connections
together, and did not “see” what the author saw as being such a strong
argument. If you can, read it from the beginning so you too will not miss these
important and factual observations.
This work has helped
me to see with greater clarity the connections between the Covenants, and the
continuity of Scripture so that it does not drive a wedge of contradiction between the operation
of God in the New and the Old Testaments. Salvation is conditioned upon the
same thing in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament; which is faith.
When one sees this, and that there is a well planned consistency in God (as one
would expect), there is no reasonable justification to create such a strong break
between the Testaments, and God's plan for man as so many do,
but it is the greater part of wisdom to seek continuity in Scripture, thereby maintaining the integrity of the
universal and racial aspect of
salvation, the covenantal facet, and the symbolical consistency that the author
seeks to do in an effort to rescue the Scriptures from the lash of much great error. This book
will enrich your appreciation of the
fact that God is consistent, and in control. He does not have a “new” plan
or approach to His people every thousand years or so.
His "plan" is not fickle, but unswerving from the beginning till now,
if we will allow it!
I have been in the Christian ministry for fifty-two years, and the second year of my ministry a public debate on this subject was forced upon me, and although I have never loved or sought discussion for its own sake, yet I have loved the truth, as I have understood it, and in the order of Providence I have been forced to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” in many public discussions on the subject. After debates with the Baptists, Campbellites, and Mormons, I am persuaded that , while many of my brethren are far more learned and talented than myself, there are few that have studied this subject in all its bearings as I have. If, in the following pages I appear to differ from the opinion of others, or depart from the old beaten path of my predecessors, all I ask is a fair and candid hearing and an impartial judgment.
It will be perceived
that I follow no man’s lead; that my mode of argument in many respects is new,
yet I trust that it will be found not only logically true, but in perfect
harmony with God’s revealed truth. I will then, say to every one into
whose hands this work shall fall, read carefully, weigh the arguments candidly,
compare it with the Scriptures diligently, and
pray earnestly for light divine to lead you into all truth upon this subject.
Christian Baptism is a part of that gospel which Christ’s ministers are commanded “to preach to every creature.” Therefore, if it is done as it should be, it must be well calculated to edify and save the people. The opposition many feel to the discussion of this subject arises, I conceive, not so much from the subject itself, but as to the improper manner of treating it. Much has been said and written upon the subject, and still the controversy continues. We appear no nearer to a termination than when it first began. There must be a cause for this, and this cause, as it appears to me, is not because of any obscurity in the testimony of God’s word upon this subject; by no means; but, rather, to the improper manner of treating it. For instance, all admit that Baptism is one of the sacraments of the Lord’s house; and as such, it is an emblematic ordinance; hence, if the outward sign is examined, disconnected (as it generally is) from the thing signified, it is impossible to understand it. Again, in this controversy “words have been multiplied without knowledge,” by bringing in a vast amount of foreign matter that had no bearing whatsoever upon the question. All this I will explain hereafter.
If the plain teaching of God’s word is permitted to decide the question, it will soon be settled, for I will say here, that Baptism is of such importance in God’s plan of grace that He has, by positive law, determined the duty, the subjects, and the mode of the ordinance, and each so plain, positive, and incontestable, as I expect to prove, that no sane , unprejudiced man need to doubt.
WHAT DOES THE WORD BAPTIZE, OR BAPTIDZO,
On this point I want to say that our cause has suffered more from its friends than from its enemies. Nearly all of our writers have considerately admitted that these words meant “to immerse sometimes, but not always.” This admission is, undoubtedly, an entire surrender of the argument, for if the word ever meant to immerse since the world began, it never did, and never can, mean anything else. Why? Because immerse is a SPECIFIC term, and contains in itself one specific idea. It came from the Latin terms in and merge. It puts one thing into another. Hence, its meaning is fixed, unalterably, forever, without any possibility of change. No specific word ever did, or ever can, change its meaning. To this all the critics of the world agree with Alexander Campbell, when he says: “No specific word can have but one meaning; for, the moment you give it a second meaning, you destroy the first.” This is common sense. Try it when or as you will, and you can never get the meaning of sprinkling into immerse; or any other idea, but the single one of putting one thing into another, either in fact, or figure. Hence, to talk about the primary and secondary meaning of a specific word, as some do, is simply nonsense. The difference, then, between a specific and a generic word, is this: The one can have but one meaning throughout all time; the other may have a number of meanings, because it simply means the thing done, and leaves the mode, or manner of doing it, to others. There is no mode in a generic term. For instance, the word travel does not mean a specific mode of traveling. So it is with every generic word. It simply signifies the thing done, with no reference to mode.
Now, the position I take is this: That the words “baptize” and “baptidzo” are generic, and not specific. They simply signify the thing
done, and have no reference to mode at
all. The proof of this fact is so abundant, so clear, and so universal, that
it is almost an insult to human intelligence to attempt its vindication. It is
thus defined by all the English dictionaries and by all the Greek lexicons—by
all the classic uses of the word, by all the translators of the Bible, and by
all the most learned Baptists, authors
themselves. Here I call attention to two
facts: First, the only thing necessary
to prove any word to be generic, one simply has to prove that it has more
meanings than one, or, that there are more
ways than one of doing the thing. Second,
a generic term may be defined by lexicographers by specific terms, as these
words frequently are, by the words immerse, sprinkle, etc., but this proves
nothing but the simple fact that these generic terms may be used in that sense to express their various modes
of operation. These definitions apply, therefore, to the use of the word, and not to the word itself. Deny this, and you
make the lexicographers to be fools. The English dictionaries, Johnson,
Again, this is precisely the case with the Greek lexicons—that Baptidzo is generic there, and does not mean mode at all, is so plainly and evidently manifest that any Greek scholar ought to be ashamed of himself to doubt it. Why? Simply because there is not one scholar in the world that does admit that the word is not limited to one singular meaning; which proves its generic character. The thing done by this word, in classic Greek, is “to cover up,” or, “bury”; “put out of sight”; and this invariably is a finality, for from this burial there is, throughout the whole range of Greek literature, NO RESSURRECTION. But, while this was the thing done, the mode of doing it, as every Greek scholar knows, varies with them as it does with us; proving conclusively that even they admit that the word itself had no mode in it. Again, the translators of our Bible prove the same thing. The Sahidas of the second century, the Besmuric of the third, the Latin Vulgate of the fourth, Wickliffe, A.D. 1380; Tindales, 1535; French, 1535; Cranmers, 1539; Geneva, 1557; Spanish, 1556; Italian, 1562; Rheims, 1582, also our English Bible, all substitute the general term Wash, or Baptize, for baptidzo. Again, I will give testimony of a few of the most eminent Baptist authors:
Dr. Carlson, one of the most learned and extensive Baptist authors in the world, says (page 59) that “all the lexicographers and commentaries of the world are against him on this one point, that Baptidzo means mode.” His position is, that it is specific, and means mode; but that all the rest of the world (he says) are against him on this point.
Dr, Cone, the president of “The Bible Union,” a Baptist institution dedicated to publishing a Baptist Bible, says in justification of the enterprise, “that since our standard lexicographers give to Baptize the meaning of sprinkle, pour, asperse, and Christian, etc., the American Bible Union must come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty, and put immersion into the Bible; for if it is not there, we have no right to preach it!” So, in the estimation of the learned Baptist divine, no man who uses our English Bible has any right to preach or practice immersion! And I heartily agree with him.
Dr. Lind, says: “There can be no doubt that the word Baptize, in English literature, is generic.” And the Rev. Dr. John L. Walter, a man of the highest Baptist authority in this country, says, “It is vain to reason with any person who seriously insists that the word Baptize means to immerse, or that it is modal; and we might as well attempt to teach logic to an orangutan as to impart the laws of language to a man who would gravely dispute a point so self-evident. Such an individual must be given over to believe a lie.”
THE MEANING OF THE WORD IN THE BIBLE
Whatever may have
been the meaning of Baptidzo in classic Greek, that has no bearing whatsoever on
its meaning in the Bible; and to go to this
source for its meaning there, is
an insult to all intelligence, both human and Divine, for this reason: Two
hundred and eighty-five years before John the Baptist was born the Old Hebrew
Scriptures were translated into Greek; and in this translation there were two
Hebrew words, “Rahats” and “Tabal,” that must be rendered into Greek,
and they both signified the same thing—WASHING
or PURIFICATION. With this difference: Rahats
signified any washing in things of common life, while Tabal was never used in this sense at all, but to express only purification
from sin. It was a religious ordinance only; hence, these translators find Lono in Greek exactly answering to Rahats in Hebrew, and they
substituted the one for the other; but when they look into the Greek for a word
answering to “Tabal,” it is not there!
Why? Because the Greeks were
heathens, and they had no use for a word that expressed only a religious
ordinance of purification from sin. Now there was but one thing they could do,
and that was what they did.: They substituted Baptidzo for
Tabal, not because
they were synonymous, but because it had some resemblance to the one they
wanted. Its original meaning among the Greeks, therefore, has nothing to do with
its Bible meaning; since it has been made a substitute for Tabal,
it means, as any child ought to know, precisely what “Tabal” meant
before. Nothing more, nor less.
The word Baptize, or Baptidzo, then, in the Bible, has but one meaning—purification, or salvation from sin. Not the condition of salvation, as some stupidly affirm, but salvation itself. (Editor’s note: The author is speaking of the spiritual aspect of baptism here, and not any mere function of baptism in water. This will be abundantly affirmed in Chapter 15. Keep this in mind as you read the following). But says one: “Do you teach that Baptism is a saving ordinance?” Certainly I do. The word itself means salvation, and nothing else, and without it there is salvation for none of our race. This is the very thing that saves, and the only plan that God has, or that He has ever had, of saving sinners. For, as we have but one Savior, so we have but one Sanctifier, and the word “Baptize” expresses the entire work of the Holy Ghost in saving us from our sins, through the all-cleansing blood f the atonement. This one spiritual saving Baptism, however, has a sign, and that is water baptism. The one saves in reality, and the other, emblematically.
Again: the Bible overflows with proofs of the above facts, both the Old and New Testaments. Paul, in speaking of the various purifications of the Jewish law (Heb. 9:10), calls them “Diaphorois Baptismois”—diverse Baptisms. And that these baptisms of vital importance, like ours, to save from sin, he says (ver. 13, 14); “For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of the heifer (this was the water of purification from sin, the element used in Jewish baptism), sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Here it is distinctly taught: (1) That this “Water of Purity” represented the blood of Christ—just as our water of baptism does. (2) Its application saved them, emblematically, just as our saves us. (3) The real saving baptism then, as now, was the application of the atoning blood by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Hence he concludes his argument by urging upon their consideration the fact that, while the external sign saved them ceremonially, the blood of Christ alone could save them really.
Again (Luke 11:38), we read that a certain “Pharisee invited Christ to dine with him, and he went in and sat down to meat; and when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not ‘Ebaptis The” !—baptized before dinner.”
On this text please observe: (1) This word is never used for common washing. (2) It is never used to indicate anything among the Jews, but a legal purification. (3) The water of purification alone was the element used. (4) As Christ had mingled with the multitude of Publicans and sinners, He had, as the Pharisee thought, contracted ceremonial uncleanliness that must be purged away by the water of cleansing before He could consistently eat. For this Law said (Num. 19:20): “But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water of separation was not sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.” (5) The sprinkling of this water of purification purified the unclean, and our text calls it baptism.
Again (Mark 7:5), our Savior informs us that the Jews, as a
nation, were in the constant practice of two
baptisms—one, of their person, every
time they came from market—eau ne
baptisoontai—except they baptize, they eat not; and many other such things
they have received to hold, such as the Baptismons—baptism
of pots, cups, and brazen vessels; and Klinoon—couches,
places to recline on; translated “tables,” because they composed an
important part of the visible table furniture. That these two baptisms refer
alone to the sprinkling of the water of purification, is a self-evident fact; that the Jews immersed themselves every time they
came from the market, no sane man ever did believe. And that they immersed their
table and all of its furniture every time they eat, is a self-evident
absurdity; for, aside from impossibility, it would have spoiled the Jews dinner.
Besides, this is not the way the Jews purified, for in John 2:6, we read,
“There were set six pots of stone, after the manner of purifying of the
Jews.” A bunch of hyssop was dipped into the water of purity, kept in these
vessels, and sprinkled upon the persons or things to be purified, as their law
required, and this, our Savior Himself
Again, the Jews were taught by their prophets to expect
that Christ, when He came, would purify the people, and give them a higher and
better baptism than any prescribed by their law. Malachi
3:1-3: “Behold, I send My messenger before my face, and he shall prepare My
way before Me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even
the Messenger of the Covenant, who ye delight in: behold He shall come, saith
the Lord.” When the question is asked, “But who may abide in the day of His
coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth”? Why? Because “He is like
refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s-soap; and He shall sit as the refiner and
purifier of silver; and He shall thoroughly purge the sons of Levi, and purify
then as gold and silver.” This promise
of purification they understood to mean
baptism. This utterly refutes the heresy of some, who teach that baptism
originated with John, and it fully explains the reasons why the Jews received
the baptism of John as a matter of course, since they were familiar with the
same exact practice. The baptism of John was no
surprise, as they would have been had it been a new thing. And it
throws a flood of light upon the following Scriptures (Luke 3:15, 16): “All
men were in expectation, and mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the
Christ or not.” And in John 1:19-26, we read that a deputation of priests and
Levites from the Sanhedrim at
Again, (John 3:25), we read that while Christ was baptizing
in Judea, and John was baptizing in Enon, near to Salem (because there was much
water there-“Polla Hudata,” many
springs, or watering places for drinking and culinary purposes necessary to
the multitudes), then there arose a question between the Jews and John’s
disciples about purifying; not about the
mode of it, for they were all Jews,
and their law had long since
establishes the mode of baptism or
purification, and divine authority had settled the question forever; but who should do it, was the question. Christ is purifying the people
down there in
Here is a
demonstration of three facts:
(1) Baptism with the
Jews was no new thing. The thing itself had been a fundamental principle in
their law for 1,500 years, and had been distinctly understood under the name of
baptism for 285 years, and they were just as familiar with the nature, design,
subjects, and mode of baptism as we are. (2) So well understood was this
subject, that the words baptize and purify with them were synonymous terms. They
were used interchangeably, for the same thing: to baptize was to purify, and to
purify was to baptize. (3) This settles the mode of John’s baptism, finally and forever; for, if it was a
Jewish purification, as the above facts “abundantly” prove, then its mode
was unchangeably fixed by God Himself in
their law. The water of purity MUST BE SPRINKLED. (See Numbers 19: 13-20.)
Therefore, when we
read of “John the Baptist,” we are not to understand by that term anything
with regard to the mode of his
baptism, but that he was a very eminent administrator of the
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
Man is a compound being, containing a visible, and invisible, a material and an immaterial nature—a soul and body; and as it is the soul that is defiled by sin, and needs spiritual cleansing to fit it for heaven, and as the word baptize in the Bible, as we have seen, means salvation from sin, it is a self-evident fact that the only real baptism is that of the soul by the Holy Ghost, and that this baptism includes the whole work of the spirit in our salvation, just as the whole work of our redemption was complete in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But, as this is denied by all immersionists, we will now
prove by infallible word: 1. That the
baptism of the Holy Ghost is the covenant privilege of all God’s people: nay,
that it is the work of grace by which alone they became such. When John
baptized “all Judea, and all
Again, to Peter were given the keys of the
Here, then, at the opening of the Gospel kingdom the entire church, men and women, Jews and gentiles, are baptized with the Holy Ghost, and this is both a pattern and pledge to the church., to the end of time. Again (Luke 25:49 and Acts 1:5), the Savior calls the baptism of the Holy Ghost “the promise of the Father.” There are many fathers in the world, but Christians have but one Father; and this Father has made many promises to His children, and many of them exceedingly precious. But there is one promise definitely pointed out and distinguished from all others, AS THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER.
Why this distinction and exaltation? Because the promise of the Spirit’s baptism saves from sin, unites the soul to Christ, makes us partakers of the divine nature, and brings us into the divine family, and thus lays a foundation for all other promises and virtually includes them all. Again, the Spirit’s baptism is expressly called by Paul (Gal. 3:14) “the great blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant, and that Christ was made a curse for us, that this blessing might come on the gentiles, as well as the Jews, through Jesus Christ, that we may receive the promise of the Spirit, through faith.” Hence, as all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant were made to one person, Christ, the Mediator of that covenant, so these blessings can be ours, only through the Spirit’s baptism, by which the atoning blood is applied in our salvation. Therefore, he adds (verses 27-29): “As many of us (gentiles as well as Jews) as were baptized into Jesus Christ, have put on Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male or female—for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye are CHRIST’S then we are ABRAHAM’S SEED, and heirs according to the PROMISE.” That is, if we are Christians, we belong to the family and Covenant of Abraham, and are heirs to all the blessings of grace here, and glory hereafter—purchased by the death of Christ, the promised seed of Abraham—and included in the promise of the Spirit’s baptism.
Again, when this promise of the Spirit’s baptism was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, to the joy of the disciples, and the confusion of the infidel Jews who mocked, Peter, full of the Holy Ghost, informed them “that these men were not drunken as they supposed; it was far too early in the morning. But it was the fulfillment of the promise of God to the church by Joel, the prophet, saying: ‘It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh all the members of my family, and upon my servants, and upon my handmaidens, will I pour out of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophecy,” etc. He that refers then to Christ, and says, “That by wicked hands they had crucified and slain Him—that God had raised Him from the dead—and being exalted at the right hand of God, He hath received THE PROMISE of the Spirit, and had shed forth this, the effects of which ye see and hear.” He then exhorts them to repent and accept of Christ as their Savior, “and they” (likewise) “should receive the same gift of the Holy Spirit”—for saith he, “THE PROMISE is unto you and your children, and unto all that are afar off; even to as many as the Lord our God shall call by His word and spirit to the end of time.” This authority is conclusive. The baptism of the Holy Ghost, is the great covenant blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ—to all our race (gentiles as well as Jews), to the end of time—to all who obey the divine call of the Gospel. And thank God, this promise is not only unto us, but also TO OUR CHILDREN.
THE NATURE OF THE SPIRIT’S BAPTISM
There is no truth
taught in the Bible more clearly, or emphatic that these three fundamental facts: (1) Christ is our only Savior. (2)
The Holy Spirit is our only Sanctifier. (3) The word baptism includes the whole work of the Spirit in saving the soul.
This is clearly taught in Gal. 3:15-29. The Spirit’s baptism is here said to be “the blessing of Abraham”—that it comes on gentiles as well as Jews, through Jesus Christ, and that His atonement purchased it, and that by it we become children of God by faith. And that this baptism constituted us the children and heirs of God, for it brought us into Christ and made us one with Him. Again (1 Cor. 12:13), Paul says: “For by one spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or gentiles, and have been all made to drink into one spirit.”
On this important text, observe: (1) the expression “in
Christ,” embraces all the work of the present salvation; (2) the Holy
Ghost is the sole agent in this work; (3) if any of our race are ever thus
united to Christ—drink into his spirit—and are made new creatures in Christ
Jesus, it is the baptism of the Holy Ghost that does the work. Again (
On this text please observe: (1) what is called circumcision in the 11th verse is also called a burial in baptism in the 12th; (2) it is performed “without hands,” therefore, it is spiritual; (3) it saves from sin, or “puts off the body of the sins of the flesh; (4) it unites the soul to Christ, and makes us “complete Christians in Christ, our complete Savior;” (5) all this is conditioned upon faith; (6) this baptism effects a death unto sin—a burial from it, and a resurrection to spiritual life; (7) and it required the same power to do all this that it did to “raise Christ from the dead.”
We might multiply examples, but these are sufficient to demonstrate beyond contradiction or cavil, that the baptism of the Holy Ghost in the Bible, expresses all that work of the divine spirit, by which the blood of Christ is applied to the soul in “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” by which we are saved from sin, brought into the divine family, and made heirs of eternal life.
THE MODE OF THE SPIRIT'S BAPTISM
As the world has but one Savior and one Sanctifier in all
ages, so God has never had but one way of
saving sinners. And, as God in
unchangeable, the Holy Spirit has never had but one mode of applying the all cleansing blood, and for this very
reason God Himself calls it “the blood of sprinkling.” Sprinkling then
is the only mode of the Spirit’s work.
But, says one, is not the Spirit’s baptism said to be poured out under the Gospel dispensation to indicate the superior grace of the present over the former dispensation? I answer, this may be true, but that does not alter the case, for sprinkling and pouring are one and the same thing, as far as mode is concerned, only one makes a more plentiful effusion than the other.
When there is s slight shower we sat, it sprinkles. But in a heavy rain we say, it pours down. Both are the same mode of operation, therefore, the Spirit is said (Psalm 72: 6) “to come down like rain upon the mown grass, and like the showers that water the earth.” In both cases the baptizing element is applied to the subject, and not the subject to the element.
That sprinkling is the only one mode of the Spirit’s
work, is evident from the following facts:
(1) “The blood of sprinkling,” is the element applied; (2) By divine law, sprinkling was the
mode of the Spirit’s work in the Jewish Church for 1,00 years, in all its
types of blood in their sacrifices, and in all their legal baptism of the
“water of purity;” (3) All the Old testament saints speak of it only
as a sprinkling. In Psalms 51,
Again (Ezek. 36: 25), God promises: “I will sprinkle
clean water upon you and ye shall be
clean, and from all your filthiness and from all your idols I will cleanse you,
saith the Lord; a new heart will I give you.” Etc.
Here is a fair example of the Spirit’s baptism, under the former
dispensation. Notice: (1) Jewish baptism, like ours, had a two-fold
application—the “water of purity” was applied to the body with them as
with us, to represent the Spirit’s work upon the soul. (2) The baptizing
element in both cases is sprinkled. (3) The Spirit’s baptism then, as now, not
only cleanses, but renews—imparts “a
new heart and a new spirit.” It
regenerates and saves.
Again (Isaiah 52: 15), the prophet, in speaking of the coming Christ and His work of saving sinners, says: “So shall He sprinkle many nations.” This He does when He by His spirit baptizes their souls—“sprinkling their hearts from an evil conscience, to serve the living God.” And when by his ministers, the outward sign is administered by sprinkling.
Here the mode of Christian baptism is settled beyond controversy, for God Himself has said that it is sprinkling, and any other mode appears impious, for it contradicts the God of truth. Hence, when the baptism came down on the Day of Pentecost, and also on the household of Cornelius, it was “poured out,” fell upon its subjects, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,” according to the promise. God had not only fore-ordained sprinkling as the mode of the Spirit’s work, and required its practice in all its types for 1,500 years and foretold that this should be its mode under the Gospel, but both John the Baptist and Christ had affirmed that Christian baptism, both in itself and its emblem, should be sprinkling; for it was with water and with the Holy Ghost, “not ‘in’ the water, or ‘in’ the Holy Spirit. The difference is essential, for the baptizing element in one case is applied to the subject, and in the other, the subject is applied to the element. (Editor’s Note: Notice that the emblem follows the actual event, i.e., the Spirit being applied to the subject by falling upon them from above in baptism. This could only be logically represented by the emblem of water if it is done by effusion from above; by pouring or sprinkling).
In one case the
subject of baptism is not moved—remains
in status quo; and the baptizing
element, whether of water or of the Spirit, is brought and applied to
Him just where he is, and just as he
is. This fact alone, shows clearly that immersion never was, and never can be,
Christian baptism, for that mode reverses heaven’s order and renders
conformity impossible, and sends its subject of in search of the baptizing
element, in opposition to common sense and the Bible.
Again (Heb. 9: 13,14), Paul says: “For if the blood of
bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer (the Jewish water of baptism),
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the pouring of the flesh, how much more
shall the blood of Christ who, through the eternal spirit, offered Himself
without spot to God purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living
God?” And chapter 10: 22, “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil
conscience, and our bodies washed (or baptized) with pure water.” These texts
prove the following facts: 1. The Jews of the Old Testament were saved just as
we are, by the “blood of Christ,” applied by the Holy Ghost. 2. The
application of this blood by the Holy Ghost had its emblem in the sprinkling of
the water of purity upon the body, so that as the one was to the
body, so the other was to the soul. 3. The apostle teaches emphatically the identity
of Jewish and Christian baptism. I
do not mean that there was a resemblance—some little similarity. I mean what I
say—that they are one and the same
thing, in nature, design, subjects, name,
and mode. Paul was a Jew and
he is writing to Jews, and he speaks of their baptism of water as an emblem of
the Spirit’s baptism, and says, “that Christian baptism is the same
thing;” for he says, “our bodies are washed with pure
water.” No one could understand him to mean anything else than the
“water of purity,” as it was
used and understood among the Jews as an emblem of the Spirit’s work in their
salvation. Hence, just as true as that none of our race can be saved except
through “the blood of sprinkling,” applied by the one and only
Sanctifier—the Holy Ghost—and His work in saving the soul is of necessity
the same in all ages, so its external emblem, water baptism, must be unchanged
and unchangeable in all its essential elements though all time. And sprinkling
only, is, without question, the mode of both.
WATER BAPTISM-ITS NATURE
I wish right here to enter my solemn protest against the opinion so common, that the baptisms of Jewish law, John’s baptism and Christian baptism were essentially different. This I deny in toto. I affirm that they were and are identical in name, nature, design, subjects, and mode. True, John’s baptism was into a faith in a Savior to come, and the baptisms of the Jewish law pointed to the same thing; the preparation of its water directed their faith at once to the anointing blood of the coming Christ—and both, like ours, was a lively emblem of the application of that blood by the Holy Ghost in the salvation of the soul from sin; hence its name. “the water of purification from sin.”
Christian baptism, then, is not a new thing, it is a Jewish baptism brought down into the Christian dispensation, stripped of its non-essential adjuncts necessary only to that typical dispensation. The simple element of water is now to us our “water of purity,” as Paul affirms, as their prepared water was to them.
But, says one, is not Christian baptism distinct from
Jewish baptism in this, that it is in the
name of the Trinity? Let us see. In Heb. 9: 19, Paul, in speaking of the
baptism that consecrated the Mosaic covenant at
Again, external baptism, in all dispensations, must be
essentially identical, from the fact that it is the visible emblem of the Spirit’s work in our salvation—this
work is the same in all ages and among all people. If the Jews were saved at all, they were saved by faith in the blood
of a Savior to come, just as we are
saved in a Savior already come. And the Holy Ghost alone applied that blood
then, as now. And as the substance is
the same now, as then, so must also the
Again (Eph. 4: 5, 6), Paul informs us that God is one; so far as our race is concerned there is but “one body”—or Church—“one spirit, even as ye are called, in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Just as true, therefore, as there is but one God, and this one God has but one Spiritual family on earth, just as true, each member of this family has received the same baptism. You say “this is the baptism of the Holy Ghost,” even that as mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:13: “for by one spirit are we all baptized into one body—whether we be Jews or gentiles, bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one sprit.” I admit that this is the Spirit’s baptism, and that it alone has brought all the saints into the body of Christ, from Abel to the present time; but, bear in mind, this work of the Divine Spirit has an external sign, by God’s own appointment; and this is water baptism—and as the one is immutably the same, in all ages and among all people, so is the other.
Again, all agree that water baptism is a sacrament of the Lord’s House, like the Lord’s Supper, and as such it is an emblematic ordinance. There is no truth of the Bible more clearly taught than that the water of baptism represents the cleansing blood—so that as the one is to the soul, so the other is to the body; so that both are called by the same name—baptism—and both express the same thing—salvation from sin by the Holy Ghost. Both Testaments are full of this truth. All the baptisms of the law and the prophets overflow with it. And in the New Testament, the baptism of water, and of the Spirit, everywhere are connected together—as a sign of the thing signified, the shadow and the substance.
There has never been but two
sacraments in the Lord’s house, representing the two great fundamental principles of our holy religion. Baptism
represents our salvation from sin, by
the Holy Ghost, and the Lord’s Supper the great
and meritorious cause of that salvation—the atoning death of Christ. The
former dispensation had these sacraments identical with us. With this necessary
difference, the Lord’s Supper is the new edition of the Lord’s Passover,”
the same thing, much improved, while
the present ordinance of baptism, by simple water, takes the place of both
circumcision and baptism; as the seal of God’s covenant, and to represent the Spirit’s
work in our salvation. I need not dwell on this point for it is a
self-evident fact. Circumcision was only necessary till the promised
seed should come, hence it was applied only to males, while Jewish baptism
applied alike to men, women, and children, like ours. And I defy any man to
point out a single thing represented by either, or both of them, that water
baptism does not represent. It covers the whole work of the Spirit, represented
by both, and supersedes them as the new
edition of the same sacrament. The Church under both dispensations, was the
same in its sacraments as it was in
its atoning Savior and its Divine Sanctifier. That Christian baptism is a new
edition, and improved Jewish baptism, needs no argument. And that it supersedes
circumcision, is not only proved by all the
facts in the case, but
Now, one of two things must be true: either all men are now saved from sin, and made complete Christians, by Christ’s personal circumcision, when an infant, or baptism is the circumcision of the Christian dispensation. The first idea is an absurdity; the latter is demonstrated to be the truth. Water baptism, then, as the present seal of the covenant, is binding on all the members of the family of grace, as circumcision and baptism were formerly; and while God baptizes the soul from sin, brings us into the body of Christ and His seal of salvation upon us, water baptism, as our seal to the covenant, publicly acknowledges God’s righteous claims, and pledges future obedience. And in doing this there is a divinely constituted harmony between these two seals, the human and the divine. They correspond exactly as sign and the thing signified, as shadow and substance. On this point I wish to be emphatic. I have said that water baptism, as a sacrament of the Lord’s house, is a representative ordinance, and as such it can represent but one thing, just as a shadow can have but one substance, or a picture of one original. If, then, Christ’s minister baptizes the body in order to represent the Spirit’s work upon the soul, it can have no reference to anything else. Water baptism, then, has no more reference to Christ’s work in our redemption than the Lord’s Supper has to the Spirit’s work in our salvation.
And here I want to say, that two things are essential to the validity of a sacrament. (1)
An exact conformity of the sign to the thing signified. This is true of all
emblematic ordinances. In the Lord’s Supper there must be bread and wine! Why?
Because they represent “the body broken and the blood shed.” No other
elements would do. Why? Because they would break the connection between the sign
and the thing signified, and thus destroy the ordinance.
Again, these elements must be eaten!
Why? This represents us as “feeding on Him by faith, with thanksgiving.”
Suppose we put them in our pockets, or throw them away! Would that be the
Lord’s Supper? You know it would not. Why? Because it breaks the
connection between the sign and the thing signified, and in either case you
nullify the ordinance. (2) The validity of an emblematic ordinance requires only
an exact conformity between the shadow and the substance, but the sign must be
used with an enlightened faith in the thing represented. Any failure here is
fatal to the validity of the ordinance. This was the mistake of the Corinthians;
they had the elements alright, and they ate them, but it was to their
condemnation. Why? Because “They discerned not the Lord’s body.” That was
false, for it constituted their own supper,
and not the Lord’s!
I insist on these self-evident facts, because there are many who are so deluded as to think that baptism is designed to represent what Christ had done for us 2,000 years ago; and that they must be immersed to represent two different things. Your picture cannot represent yourself, and at the same time be a good likeness of a camel or a jackass! The one is no more absurd than the other. If baptism represents the Spirit’s work, it does not, and cannot, represent the Lord’s work. And if we use the Supper with no reference to Christ at all, but to represent the Spirit’s work within us, would annul the ordinance, as we all know that it would; so, to use the sign of he Spirit’s work in baptism, to represent Christ’s work for us, utterly destroys and nullifies the ordinance, and whatever else it is, it is not, and cannot be, Christian baptism! Let it be, then, distinctly understood, that to use water in any mode, with any reference at all to Christ’s work, is no baptism. And as no sane person ever could be immersed to represent a sprinkling, immersion is not baptism, never was, and never can be. The very idea is an absurdity, without a shadow of support, either from the Bible or common sense. But more of this hereafter.
WATER BAPTISM IN ITS MODE
(1) This is not
immersion. All admit that baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, is a
sacrament, or emblematic ordinance, and as the sign must correspond exactly to
the thing signified, the entire question of mode
depends solely upon the things represented. Just as a picture or a shadow
derive their very existence and form from their original, so water baptism is the shadow or picture
of the Spirit’s baptism; and from it
alone derives its name, its nature, its design, and
its mode .Separate it from its
original, or make it the sign of anything else, and you annihilate it. Immersion
does this, for it dissolves all connection between the shadow and the substance.
(Editor’s Note: The
author presses the obvious point to its inevitable conclusion. There are many
that allow all three “modes” of baptism: immersion, pouring and sprinkling
as if they are all legitimate baptism, but they do not follow their conclusion to the
logical end that they "all” do not represent the
very same thing, and therefore, “all”
cannot be symbols of the very same thing. While accepting all
three modes as "legitimate baptism”
is the most ecumenical approach, it falters
greatly in that all these modes do not represent the same work of God in the
What connection can
there be between immersion and sprinkling? How can one be the shadow of the
other? Was any man ever insane enough to be immersed to represent “the
sprinkling of our hearts from an evil conscience?” Who does not see that
nothing apart from sprinkling the body can represent the application of “the
blood of sprinkling” upon the soul? Immersion,
then, is not baptism, because it severs all connection between the sign and the
(2) It is not
baptism, because it makes it the sign of the Lord’s work, “The death,
burial, and resurrection of Christ;” the very thing the Lord’s Supper
represents. This is a double absurdity, for two signs, both being different,
cannot represent the same thing. It would be to charge God’s wisdom with the
folly of and absurdity of ordaining two sacraments to represent the very same
thing. Faith in immersionism
therefore destroys the validity of the ordinance, not only by the absurdities
involved, but by making it the sign of another thing entirely different, it
severs all connections between the sign and the thing signified, and thus makes
it an unmeaning ceremony, with no authority to sustain it, either in the Bible
or common sense!
(3) No sacrament, or
emblematic ordinance, can be valid unless it is used with an enlightened
faith in the thing represented. This is a self-evident fact. Immersion
ignores the baptism of the Holy Ghost altogether, and makes it the sign of
another thing. Hence, it is an unmeaning ceremony, for both the sign and the
thing signified are rejected.
(4) Immersion, of
necessity, supersedes the Spirit’s baptism altogether, and claims to be the
only one baptism, for the church has but
one (Eph. 4: 5), and thus contradicts all that the Bible says about the
baptism of the Spirit, and water as its sign.
(5) As it claims to
be the only baptism of the church, it involves the heresy of water salvation. That baptism saves us, either in fact
or figure, is a fact so plainly taught by both Testaments that no one can deny
it. Its very name means salvation. It brings all men to Christ, “into one
body;” puts off the body of the sins of the flesh;” It is baptism into a
“death unto sin and to a walk in newness of life.” And long before the
external sign was instituted the thing itself existed. For none of our race were
ever saved without it, any more than they were saved without Christ’s atoning
death, for the one purchases the
blessing, and the other applies it. (Editor’s
Note: How could the “symbol” of burial in water be the “emblem” of
something that had not yet been stated? All baptisms before Romans six (est. 60
A.D.) are never said to have anything to do with with a representative "burial,"
yet all previous baptisms
had to represent “something!”
It is clear that according to Scripture, that emblem or symbol always represented
the cleansing of the
Spirit: not “death to self in burial with Christ in baptism.” Baptism prior
to Paul's writing of Romans chapter six is never a burial. Baptism did not
Romans chapter six is not even speaking about water baptism at all! It is not
speaking of any "mode," of water baptism, but the "effect"
of spiritual baptism (as stated in point #6 below). One must read
immersion into every Scripture concerning baptism in order to force it out of
it; there is not one drop of water in Romans six!).
If, therefore, the New Testament baptism be immersion in water, it can have no connection with the Spirit’s work; it stands alone as the only baptism, and if so, then WATER is the only saving element in the universe, and its administration the only saving agent.
(6) True baptism is called “a burial” (Rom. 6, and Col.
2), but it is not thus called as to its mode.
Of “mode,” Paul is not speaking; he is speaking to its
effect. And mark this, the effect was because of the Spirit’s
baptism, and not of its mere sign, for it was performed “without hands.” It
“Put off the body of the sins of the flesh;” it was “a baptism into Jesus
Christ,” and into “his death,” and made us “complete in him;” and the
whole was conditioned on “That faith which raised Christ from the dead,” and
any man that can believe mere water can do all
that ought to be favored with a home in the lunatic asylum!
Again, the word “buried” here is used, not in literal, but figurative sense. Paul, in this same connection, to express the effect of the Spirit’s work upon the soul, calls it a “crucifixion,” a “burial,” “ a planting,” a “circumcision,” “performed without hands,” etc. And to refer to any of these figures of speech as the mode of baptism is an insult to common sense. Again, the mode by which this “burial,” “planting,” etc., was effected was a sprinkling. The Bible declares this everywhere, and no man can find an example to the contrary. This ought to settle the question, but as some people are so wise that no logic can convince them, it may be necessary to prove to them the absurdity of their “water burial.” Paul says (Rom. 6): “Know ye not that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death, therefore we are buried with him,” etc. Now, let me ask, do you honestly believe this? Did Paul tell the truth? If he did, and this burial was a water immersion, then these Roman Christians were buried under water twenty-seven years, were still under water, and Paul was under water writing to them. Let us see. Some of these Romans we among Peter’s converts on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2)—they were then “buried.” This was in the thirty-third year of the Christian era. Paul is now writing in the sixtieth year; subtract thirty-three from sixty and you will see that twenty-seven remains. Twenty-seven years ago, then, some of these Romans were baptized; and Paul says: “This burial is into death.” What death? Of the body? Yes; most certainly. If it was the body that was buried here, then Paul is writing to dead men, men drowned twenty-seven years ago. Can you believe such nonsense as this? And yet all this nonsense you must believe; and more than that, you must believe that Paul was both a liar and a fool, or give up your immersion theory as founded upon these texts. But, understanding this burial into Christ to be the effect of the Spirit’s baptism, all is plain. Twenty-seven years ago these Romans were baptized into Christ by the Holy Ghost—because they were dead to sin—and they had not back-slidden; they were still “in Christ,” dead to sin, and full of spiritual life.
(7) Immersion is not baptism, from the fact that the word “baptize” never meant to immerse since the world began. In classic Greek, as we have seen, it is generic, with no reference to mode, and in the Bible its only meaning is purification from sin by sprinkling.
(8) It is not baptism, from the fact that the word is not used in the Bible at all, and from this fact alone no man has any right to preach or practice it.
(9) It is not
baptism, from the fact that neither the word immerse, dip, or bury is found
in the Bible in connection with the mode of
baptism, either with that of the Spirit, or its emblem, water.
(10) It is not
baptism, from the fact that baptism indicates the grace of our salvation, while the idea of immersion—to be “overwhelmed”—everywhere in the
Bible indicates wrath and ruin.
(11) It is not baptism, from the fact that baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, is a sacrament, or ordinance, of the Lord’s house and ought to be administered there, and immersion requires us to leave the Lord’s house to administer one of these ordinances. This is an absurdity.
This shows the modern existence of baptismals
sufficient to immerse in, as
existing as part of the historical Christian sanctuary, to be a farce; something
that has never been part of the Christian sacramental system).
(12) It is not
baptism, from the fact that every example of baptism that we have in the
Bible proves that a place of worship was
never left in order for a convert to be baptized; not
in a single instance! Water was always obtained wherever the Gospel was
preached, and the people believed, whether Jew of gentile, whether by night or
by day, they were baptized then and there,
without any removal from the place or delay in time. And
there is no country on earth where this could be true, if immersion was the
made, much less in
WATER BAPTISM IN ITS MODE (Continued).
Christian baptism is sprinkling ONLY, because this is the mode of the Spirit’s work. All admit that baptism saves us. But the great heresy of the church has been to mistake the shadow for the substance, and to glorify the mere application of water to the body, as the only specific for past sin. Absurd as this theory is, many have believed it, and still do believe it.
If the baptism of water is the figure, emblem, shadow, or sign of the baptism of the Holy Ghost., then it is a sign of nothing else! And the sign must exactly correspond, in every respect, to its original—just as your person could have but one shadow, and this must correspond to your person. Why? Because your shadow could not exist as it is caused by your person. Many think that the mere mode of water baptism is not essential; and although they believe that it is the sign of the baptism of the holy Ghost, and that sprinkling is the only Bible mode, yet they say: “The validity of the ordinance does not depend upon the mode, and that any mode may be practiced consistently to suit the choice of the subject.” Others say: “Baptism is an answer to a good conscience,” as taught by Peter (Peter 3: 27), “and so the conscience is the subject of baptism is satisfied—it is no concern of mine.” I answer, neither the subject, nor the administrator, has any right to any conscience in the matter of a positive ordinance. What Peter affirms is this: “That baptism answers to a good conscience,” just as “face answers to face in a glass;” that is, water baptism is an exact sample of a good conscience sprinkled with the atoning blood, by the Holy Ghost, and thus made good—and that baptism of water must be sprinkled in order to correspond. Peter here positively prohibits immersion or any other mode except sprinkling, because, as the souls of baptism are sprinkled. No other mode can answer to it! Nothing but sprinkling, then, is baptism.
The mode, then,
is essential to the ordinance for two
reasons: (1) Water baptism is an emblem
of “the sprinkling of our hearts from an evil conscience.” For this
reason water baptism can have no form, no
meaning; NOT EVEN AN EXISTENCE! Only as it conforms to its principal; and as
its mode is the only visible resemblance, any other mode destroys
the ordinance. Apply water in any other mode, and call it what you please, does
not make it baptism! If water baptism does not sprinkle the body, just
as the Spirit’s baptism sprinkles the soul, then it is not an emblem at
all! And right here, in the name of God, I demand of any minister of Christ:
What right do you have to baptize differently from the example set you by the
Master Himself? When the Lord Himself has given you sprinkling for the sign,
what authority have you to substitute something else in its stead? Besides, it
appears to me that moral principle is involved here at another point. How can you consistently go down into the water, and before immersing
your candidate, say, “I baptize you,” when you know immersion is no emblem
of sprinkling, and, therefore, cannot be baptism at all!
(2) Again, sprinkling, as the mode of baptism, must be essential to the validity of the ordinance, from the fact that God ordained it, by positive law, when He first instituted it by the hand of Moses. And for 1,500 years the sign, both in the blood, of its sacrifices, and the water, of its purity, and its original were in perfect harmony at this point, by God’s express and repeated command, without a single thought of variation in one single instance. And when John the Baptist and Christ came, practicing the same baptism with simple water, the other ingredients peculiar to that dispensation being no longer necessary, so far from repealing this law, they confirmed it by obeying it. Why is all this true? Because God evidently had an infinite reason for the command: “Thou shalt sprinkle this water of purity upon the unclean,” etc. (Numbers 19). And certainly the same divine reason exists still in full force, and must to the end of time. Hence, God’s command to baptize is a command to sprinkle, and no other mode obeys the command, or is baptism.
Again, but say one: “Did not Philip and the eunuch go down into the water?” Suppose they did; that proves nothing in regard to the mode, for after they got there we read, “and he baptized him.” How he performed this baptism is not stated by the text, but on the authority of God’s word and common sense, I affirm the mode was sprinkling, for the following reasons:
Philip was a Jew, and as such, sprinkling was the only mode of
baptism he had ever heard of.
(2) The eunuch had never heard of Christ or Christian baptism, until Philip’s sermon converted him, and the prophecy of Isaiah that the eunuch was reading, and that Philip explained to him, plainly affirmed two things: (1) Christ’s atoning death; and (2) his baptism as sprinkling. “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” Of course Philip preached sprinkling to him; he could not have preached anything else, and have been either sane or honest; and, of course, he gave him Christian baptism by sprinkling.
That the translators of our Bible were strongly immersionists,
history clearly assures us; and that they erred in their translation here, is
too plain to be denied. The Greek preposition, eis,
here translates “into,” does not mean “in” or “into,” since it
has not been so since the world began. It does not and cannot indicate locality,
for it is always preceded by an active verb and governs only the accusative
case. Dr. Anthon, in his “New Greek
Grammar,” says: “It means
“to,” in the sense of towards, and answers to the question whether, and is
distinguished from the preposition era, in
this: The one signifies place, and the
other motion towards a place.”
And Alexander Campbell says (C. and R. Debate, p.441): “Eis
always marks boundaries; it denotes change of position; it indicates a
transition from one place or state to
another.” This is true throughout the whole range of Greek literature. The
office it invariably fills in the sentence is, to show the relation between one
object in transit from one state or
place to another. And as it is on the move
you cannot locate it. Hence, it
cannot possibly have been the meaning either of “in” or “into”; and that
our translators were not ignorant of this law of the language, is evident from
the fact that this preposition occurs ten
times in this same chapter, and nine times out of the ten they are governed
by this law and violate it in one solitary case. Why they should translate eis
Hudor different from “eis
Again, I have proved, I think, conclusively, that sprinkling is the only Christian baptism, by the following facts:
(1) Baptism, as a sacrament of the Lord’s house, is an emblematic ordinance.
(2) It is the emblem or sign of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
As a sign of the Spirit’s
baptism, it derives its name, its nature, its mode, and its very existence from
its original; so that, as one is to the soul, so the other is to the body.
(4) As sprinkling is the only mode of the Spirit’s baptism, this alone settles the question, and demonstrates sprinkling to be the only mode of baptism, both of the Spirit and of water as its sign.
(5) That God ordained sprinkling by positive law as the only mode of baptism, both of the Spirit and of water as its sign.
(6) That for 1,500 years the Jewish church practiced sprinkling alone for baptism by God’s expressed and oft-repeated command.
(7) That when Christ and John the Baptist came and practiced the same baptism, in its improved form, they found the whole Jewish nation in the daily practice of sprinkling for baptism, and not a word was said, or any information given, of the law being repealed, or the old mode being changed.
(8) I proved that when God ordained sprinkling as the mode of His baptism, He had an infinite reason for so doing; and as human nature and salvation from sin are the same now as they ever were, that divine reasoning favor of sprinkling still continues, and must continue to the end of time.
That the mode was essential
to the ordinance, and that the least variation here was suicidal; that the
shadow must conform strictly to the substance—the picture to the original.
That two things were necessary to the validity of this, and every
other emblematic ordinance: (1) an exact conformity of the sign to the thing
signified; and (2) to use the sign with an enlightened faith in the thing
signified. Therefore, sprinkling was the
only mode of baptism, because any other mode violated both of thee conditions,
and, of course, nullified the sacrament by
making it a nonentity—an unmeaning ceremony.
(11) I proved that immersion for baptism was a senseless absurdity, from the fact that it could not represent the Spirit’s action upon the soul, and as this is the only thing the mode of baptism can represent, hence, immersion is just as absurd as for you to sit for your picture and when you receive it from the artist it proves not to be your likeness at all, but the likeness of a jackass! This is no burlesque, but the sober, honest truth; for immersion has no more resemblance to the Spirit’s work than the one picture has to the other.
(12) That there is no immersion in the word “baptize”; that in the Bible it has but one meaning—salvation from sin by sprinkling; that no writer, either of the New or Old Testament, ever spoke of the mode of the Spirit’s baptism, or that of its emblem—water—but as a sprinkling (sprinkling and pouring being, as we have seen, the same mode).
And for these reasons, ant one of which would be sufficient to establish any truth in the universe, but altogether they ought to force conviction into the darkest mind, and overcome the prejudices of the hardest heart, and satisfy every conscience that sprinkling alone is baptism.
THE MODE OF BAPTISM (Continued)
In perfect harmony
with the foregoing, all the examples of baptism in the Bible prove sprinkling top be its
Again (Num. 19), we have the specific law of baptism among the Jews. Its water
is prepared with great care to represent the atoning blood of the coming Christ,
and when prepared, it is called by God Himself “the water of purification from
sin,” or “of separation.” That is, sanctification, for baptism both
purifies and saves (verse 9). And the
sprinkling of this water purified the unclean; and this mode was essential.
God commanded it, and unless it was sprinkled it avails nothing. See verses 13
Again (Num. 19), we have the specific law of baptism among the Jews. Its water is prepared with great care to represent the atoning blood of the coming Christ, and when prepared, it is called by God Himself “the water of purification from sin,” or “of separation.” That is, sanctification, for baptism both purifies and saves (verse 9). And the sprinkling of this water purified the unclean; and this mode was essential. God commanded it, and unless it was sprinkled it avails nothing. See verses 13 and 20.
Again, the baptism that purified and consecrated the Levites to the service of God was sprinkling. Num. 8: 6, 7: “Take the Levites from among the congregation and cleanse them”—that is, baptize them. “ And this shalt thou do to cleanse them” (mark you, this is a positive command): “Thou shalt sprinkle the water of purification upon them.”
Again, the baptism that cleansed the lepers was a sprinkling. Lev. 14: 7: “And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy, seven times, and shall pronounce him clean.” This terrible disease was an acknowledged type of sin, and its mode of cleansing determines that of baptism.
Again, the baptism that consecrated the priests to their office was a sprinkling. Exod. 40: 12: “Thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; to minister unto man in the priests office.”
Again, the baptism of John the Baptist was a sprinkling. It is not possible for
it to have been anything else for the following reasons: (1) John was a Jew,
and as such, had been familiar with sprinkling as the only mode all his life, knew nothing else, and never heard
anything else; saw it practiced by the whole nation all around him, in their
day, by legal purification. (2) His baptism was a Jewish purification with simple water; was so understood by the
entire nation, as we have already proved, and it was so understood by John
himself. (3) God had willed and ordained
sprinkling as the only mode of purification, and for John to have varied from it
would have been open sin and rebellion
against God. And such a violation of God’s law would have shocked and
driven all the people from him. (4) John himself settles this question when he
affirms that his baptism was “with
water,” just as that that of the master was “with the Holy Ghost.” This
puts it beyond question, for the sign must correspond to its original, and this
is sprinkling only.
But, says one, why did he go to
Again, Christ’s baptism was a sprinkling, for: (1) His baptism was official—not personal—as the Holy One he needed it not, and John in this sense refused to baptize Him. (2) Christ affirms it, when He says, “the righteousness of God’s law requires it.” (3) No precept in God’s law applied to Him except officially; this required Him to be 30 years old, as the law directed, then, to receive His priestly washing at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Again, when they went to market, they not only mingled with the unclean,
but they might buy their provisions from unclean persons, even the filthy
gentiles themselves, and their very food might
be unclean; hence the necessity of these baptisms. (4) The idea of immersion
being the mode of these baptisms is an insult to common sense for three reasons:
(1) A personal immersion for every Jew every time he either ate or came from the
market is an absurdity that no sane man ever did or could believe. (2) An
immersion of his table and all its contents, even to the klinoon
upon which he lay, was not only an impossibility, but it would dilute his
soup and spoil his dinner. (3) This was not the mode of Jewish baptism, hence we
read (John 2: 6): “There were set six water pots of stone, after the manner of
the purification of the Jews.” This language proves three things: (1) The Jews
all obeyed the law of purification and kept its water on hand, ready in every
family. (2) These
purifications Christ calls baptism, and they were so understood by all the people. (3)
Sprinkling was the only mode by positive law. CHAPTER
X MODE OF BAPTISM
MODE OF BAPTISM
We conclude the argument on the mode of Baptism by reference to the emphatic statements of the prophets and apostles on this subject. In Psalms 51: 7, David prays: “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” True, the prophet prays for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which alone could cleanse his soul from sin, but he evidently refers to the mode of the outward sign, for the hyssop mentioned was dipped in the water of baptism, and by God’s direction sprinkled upon the unclean.
Again, (Ezek. 35: 25), God promises: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: and
from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new
heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Here the
baptism of both soul and body are referred to, and sprinkling is the mode of
both; God Himself says so.
Again, in Isaiah 52: 15, God inspires the prophet to foretell three events: (1) The promised Christ would come “meek and lowly, be despised and rejected of men.” (2) He was to suffer and die for the sins of the world; “He was wounded for our sins,” bruised and chastised for our iniquities, “and His soul was to be made an offering for sin.” (3) His baptism was to be a sprinkling: “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” This He does when, by his Spirit, He “sprinkles their hearts with His own blood, cleansing them from sin,” and when, by his ministers, he administers the outward sign, water baptism by sprinkling. Make baptism anything else but sprinkling and the prophet is charged with falsehood, and this prophecy never was fulfilled and never can be. And this is not all, for we are here met with a most fearful truth. These three events are so connected together in this one prophecy that they cannot be separated; they must stand or fall together. If one is true they all are true; if one is false they all are false! Just as true, therefore, as Christ has come at all, as the prophet foretold, and just as true as he dies for sinners, as the prophet described, just that true it is that Christian Baptism is sprinkling only. Deny this and you charge both God and the prophet with falsehood! Deny it, and you deny Christ’s advent, His sufferings, His death, His atonement, altogether; for sprinkling is the mode of Christ’s baptism, just as true as that Christ has come and suffered for all.
Again (in Heb. 10:22), Paul, in speaking of “the new and living way into the holiest,” which we have the boldness to enter, through the blood of Jesus, says: “Let’s draw near with a heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed (or baptized) with pure water.” This testimony is clear, unequivocal, and conclusive. The baptism of both soul and body is spoken of as a sprinkling; the first is affirmed, and the latter clearly implied. Notice: (1) The washing the body with “pure water” all admit is Christian baptism; 920 Paul was a Jew, and was writing to Jews, who, all their lives, had been using this “pure water” in their baptisms. Therefore, there is but one thing he could have meant, or that they could have understood, and that was, that as their “water of purity” had always been sprinkled, as an eternal emblem of that purity of soul affected by the blood of Christ, so water baptism is sprinkled, as an eternal emblem of that purity of soul effected by the blood of Christ, so water baptism is sprinkled to represent the same thing. Paul’s testimony is for sprinkling only.
places and circumstances of baptism, recorded in the Bible, demonstrate
sprinkling to have been the mode. In the city of
Were converted and baptized in one day, and a few days after, 5,000 more. Notice: they were baptized in the city, and not only so, but in the temple where they were converted, for the Bible does not suffer them to leave the spot until it is done. The Gospel is preached; the people believe; the Holy Ghost baptizes their souls, and Christ’s minister baptizes their bodies at the same time and place, without a single exception, all through the Bible. This fact (and it cannot be denied) is utterly inconsistent with any other mode. Again, suppose they were allowed to leave the spot for water, where was it to be found? Nowhere, except in the public pools, and these were in the hands of their enemies and certainly would not be allowed to be used: and besides, any man who can believe in the possibility of eleven men immersing 3,000 to 5,000 persons in four or five hours (and it is not reasonable to give them more time before nightfall), is certainly beyond the reach of rational argument—“Given over to believe a lie.”
Again (in Acts 10), we have an account of the conversion and baptism of the gentiles. Peter preaches, the people believe, God baptizes their souls, and Peter their bodies, then and there before the meeting closed. So Phillip baptized the Samaritans in their own city, and at the place of worship. Paul was converted and baptized in a private house, and in an erect posture, for Annanias said to him, as he lay prostrate praying for mercy: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins; and he arose and was baptized, just as he stood.” The jailor of Phillipia was converted and baptized in the jail, and after midnight at that. And all these facts throw light upon the subject utterly fatal to the immersion theory, and in favor of sprinkling as the only mode of baptism.
THE SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM
As the word baptize in the Bible means salvation from sin, and as water baptism is the external sign of the internal baptism of the Spirit and the seal of the covenant of grace, follows, therefore, conclusively that those only have a right to this sign and seal who are redeemed by Christ sanctified by the Spirit, and are adopted into the Christian family. But as all admit that believing adults are thus saved and have the right to baptism, and as outward baptism is a public acknowledgment of what God ha done for and in them, “by the washing, or baptism of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” it is their imperative duty to do so. I will pass this part of the subject and come directly to the point: Are infant children proper subjects of baptism? And is it the imperative duty of all parents and guardians to thus acknowledge the claims the Lord has upon them? I claim infants (children) are proper subjects; that God requires it; that we have Scripture example for it; and, that if we withhold it we are guilty of violating positive law; and that, in thus withholding it, we deny their interest in Christ and their title to heaven, “to the law and to the testimony.”
Mark the fact—the whole question of infant baptism rests
upon the fact of infant salvation. If
infants are saved they must be baptized, for there is no salvation without it. (Editor’s
Note: He speaks of spiritual baptism, not water baptism. In
reference to John 3:5, God says emphatically, “unless a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom
All admit that baptism is an emblematic ordinance, like the
Lord’s Supper; and as it derives all its meaning from its original, this fact
determines the subjects as well as the
mode of the ordinance, for as the sign must correspond exactly to the thing
signified in its mode, or it is null and void, so if the soul is baptized with
the holy Ghost this fact alone proves that God wills, and requires His ministers
to baptize the body, and thus glorify Him by acknowledging His claims; for
if God puts His seal of the Spirit’s
baptism upon the soul, for us to withhold our
part of the covenant seal would break the covenant.
I emphasize this self-evident fact because the whole controversy really turns upon this one point: Does the Master baptize their souls? If so, then the question is settled; the minister of Christ must give them the outward sign and seal. God wills it, duty requires it, and it is a fearful sin to refuse, or neglect it. All this is a self-evident fact. We come, then, to the question: Are infant children (cleansed by the Holy Ghost?) Mark you, the question is not whether Christ died for them—this is not denied—but are they “washed of that which bars them from heaven?” Does the Holy Spirit apply the all-cleansing blood to their hearts in the new birth? In determining this question please notice: (1) All admit (besides unscriptural fatalists) that children are saved—that they go to heaven when they die. Now, if they are saved, I ask: what are they saved from? And who saved them? You answer, Christ is their only Savior. But if Christ saves them, it is from sin; and what sin do they have to be saved from? Guilt? No; they have none to be pardoned. There is, therefore, but one sense in which He can save them, and that is from the depravity of their nature that unfits them for heaven. Call this salvation—what you please; it is the thing water baptism represents, and proves their right to the sign. Again, if infants were not fallen beings they would need no atoning Savior nor any Divine Sanctifier. Our infant children need and must have, both the sign and the thing signified, and without the cleansing of the Holy Spirit they cannot be saved. God’s plan, originally, appears to have been to raise up a holy family from our race by natural generation; but when his plan failed by the sin and fall of Adam, the plan changed. A holy and happy family is now raised up, not by natural generation, but by regeneration through the atoning blood, applied to the soul by the cleansing of the Holy Ghost.
This is more forcibly expressed by our Savior (Mark 10:
13,14): “And Jesus said, suffer the little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not, for of such is the
Again, (in Matt. 18:3), Christ says: “Verily, I say unto
you, except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall in no case
enter into the
Again (in Mark 9: 36,37), we read: “He took a little child and set him in the midst of them, and said, whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me; and whosever receiveth me receiveth not me but Him that sent me.” In order to understand the full force of this text, observe, (1) Christ is here in private, instructing His ministers to a lost world in reference to their official duty as ministers of Christ; (2) that the future discharge of their duty as His ministers, “making disciples of all nations and receiving them into the church by baptism,” that they must not overlook the infant members of His family, but be sure to receive them in His name with the others; (3) To receive anyone in the name of Christ is to receive Him as a Christian—it can mean nothing less than that. (4) And to encourage them in the discharge of this duty, He promises them that whenever they received in the way of infant children in His name (publicly) put Christ’s name upon them in baptism; that, in thus acknowledging them as Christians, they might be assured that they made no mistake—that they are really Christians; for both me and the Father are with and in them! “They are living branches of the true vine.” If, therefore, to receive a person in the name of Christ is to acknowledge him as a Christian, and if a minister of Christ cannot officially receive a person as a Christian but by baptism, then we have here an emphatic injunctive to baptize children.
Again (in Rom. 5: 18) we read: “For as by the offence of
one judgment came upon all men unto condemnation, even so by the righteousness
of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Notice
here: (1) The “free gift” spoken of is “eternal life,” or the opposite
of the “judgment unto death,” that came upon the race for Adam’s sin; and
(2) this free gift brought justification unto life to the entire race. If the
one was spiritual death, the other was spiritual life. Here then, is infantile
justification. Christ purchased the blessing and the Holy Ghost applied it,
and our infants came into the world in this state of grace—children of God and
heirs of glory. Many of them die and go to glory before they ever see the light of this
world; but it matters not, they have a Savior and the grace of God saves
them—is the very thing water baptism represents, and proves their right to the
Again, infant salvation and baptism is proved by the
acknowledged fact that they belonged to the family and covenant of Abraham, and
received the covenant seal by the express command of God. There are two parties
to a covenant, and both parties have its seal. God’s seal is inward,
Spiritual, and saving; man’s seal is external and emblematic.; formerly it was
circumcision, now it is baptism. The
Christian family, or Church, is as old as the world, for God has never “left
Himself without a witness.” And God’s true worshipers have been the
Christian church in all ages, for they were saved by faith in Christ, even as we
are, since the days of Abel, learn from Hebrews 11. But this church was not
formally organized, with its family covenant signed and sealed, till the days of
Abraham. Now, if it can be proved by the plain teachings of God’s word that
this family covenant and circumcision of Abraham was, in truth, the Christian
church covenant and circumcision,
then it conclusively follows that as God’s family, or Church, is like its
Divine Author, Spiritual and unchangeable in all ages, and as infant children
were members of this Church by divine authority, and received its covenant seal,
it is demonstrated that God Himself endorses their gracious state and requires
their recognition, as in His gracious covenant, by receiving its sign and seal.
We assume, then, that the Abrahamic was the Christian church and covenant, and
in proof we observe: (1) All agree that God made covenant with Abraham and his
seed, and that circumcision was its sign and seal, including his infant
children. (2) All agree, farther, that 430 years after God made covenant with
the Jews, as a nation, at
Gal. 4:22-26: We learn that Abraham had two sons by two wives—the one was
bond, and the other free; the one
was born after the flesh, and the other by promise. And these two children were
an allegory representing the two branches of
the family of Abraham—the literal and
visible, and the Spiritual and invisible; and
the two covenants that God makes with them: “The bond-woman and her fleshly
son answereth to Jerusalem that now is, and is in bondage with her children,”
but “the free woman and her son, born of promise, represents the Jerusalem
which is above, and is free, and is the mother of us all.” Can anything be
made plainer than this? Here is the church visible and the invisible—the
And in farther confirmation of these great truths, notice the following facts:
As all the promises of this covenant were made to Christ alone, this covenant, therefore, contained no promise of natural seed or of an earthly Canaan, for surely he neither needed, desired, or possessed any of them. This alone ought to settle this question finally, especially in connection with the overwhelming and incontrovertible facts preceding. Again, that this covenant of Abraham is the Christian covenant, is evident from the fact that if it were not, if it was the mere Jewish affair, as our opponents affirm, then it and the Mosaic covenant would be two editions of the same thing. The two families the same, all distinctions would be dissolved; they would, of necessity, have the same parties, the same mediator, the same promises, be heirs of the same inheritance, and it would not contain any gentile; it could not contain any Christ, or heaven, or require any saving faith or true piety as its condition. It would depend alone upon natural birth, and require only the flesh, blood, and bones of Abraham to entitle their possessor to a more worldly inheritance.
But every one of these assumptions are contradicted by the Apostle, and the opposite affirmed so plainly, positively, and emphatically that no one can doubt that he intended to settle the question forever that the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants were entirely distinct and separate in their parties, mediators, inheritance, promises, etc., and that, as natural birth was the condition of the one, and faith and the new birth the condition of the other, the one represents only the invisible, or Spiritual church, and it its promised blessings are all in Christ, grace and salvation here, and “the heavenly Jerusalem” hereafter. This is made still more evident from the fact that the members of the one family and covenant could not inherit with the other. Hence the command: “Cast out the bond-woman and her son, for the son of the bond-woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman:” “So, then, we brethren (gentile Christians) are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free.” And in Chapter 3: 13 Paul says: “That Christ,” the Mediator of this covenant, “was made a curse for us that the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant might come upon the gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Here we are taught explicitly that the great blessing of this covenant was “the promise of the Spirit” in our salvation from sin: that this blessing was only through Jesus Christ, and that Christ died to purchase it for gentiles as well as Jews, and that the whole was conditional on faith. And in verses 26-29 he comes to this conclusion: “For we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ; for as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ have put on Christ; there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus: and if we are Christ’s, THEN WE ARE ABRAHAM’S SEED, and his heirs according to the promise.” This settles the question, I trust, forever. The family and covenant of Abraham was the Christian family and covenant.
I have said that temporal blessings made no part of the Abrahamic covenant;
that they belonged exclusively to the other branch of the family. And yet
temporal blessings, such as a numerous natural seed and an earthly
INFANT BAPTISM (Continued)
Here we might safely rest the question of infant membership and baptism, assured that the proof, by divine authority already furnished, is so plain, full, and emphatic as to defy criticism, and command the faith of the most skeptical; but we cannot do justice to the subject without proving the Spirituality of circumcision as the seal of the Christian covenant. We have proved, I trust, to the satisfaction of every candid mind, that the family and covenant of Abraham was the Christian family and covenant; and if this is so, then circumcision, its sign and seal, was a gospel ordinance, and as such altogether Spiritual, for two reasons: (1) There are two parties to the covenant, God and His Spiritual family, and for this reason the covenant seal must be Spiritual. (2) It seals only Spiritual blessings. God’s seal saves from sin, imparts holiness, brings us into the divine favor and family; and our seal emphatically represents this work of grace, initiates into the family of God visibly, and pledges future obedience.
The above view is abundantly sustained by the divine record. “I will
circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, with
all thy heart, and with all thy mind, that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30: 6);
and Paul says to us gentile Christians: “For we
are the circumcision, which worship God in Spirit, and rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3: 3); “But he is
a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit; whose praise is not of men but
of God” (Rom. 2: 29). And in speaking of Abraham he says: “And he received
the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had,
being yet uncircumcised” (Rom. 4: 11). Here
notice: Abraham believed in a Savior to come, on this condition. God pardoned
and saved him, and outward circumcision was to him what baptism is to us. He
received it as the outward sign of the spirit’s work within and as his part of
the covenant seal.
Again, here in this connection is presented another truth of great importance in this controversy; that is, the identity of the sacraments of the church under all dispensations. Under the patriarchal dispensation the ordinances of religion were few and simple. First, the atoning work of the coming Christ; second, the saving influences of the Holy Ghost; third, the essential doctrine of salvation by simple faith. The first two were indicated by sacrifice and circumcision; and these were precisely to them what the Lord’s Supper and baptism are to us—the sacraments of the church. And under the Mosaic dispensation, when the visible church was more perfectly organized, its ordinances were more numerous and specific, and the sacraments of the church were made more prominent. A specific sacrifice indicated the “Lord’s Passover;” and baptism, was added to circumcision to indicate more clearly the Spirit’s work in our salvation; but under the Gospel, Christ, the promised Seed having come and suffered, the same sacrifices appear in the simple form of the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Thus the Church, like its Divine Lord, is unchangeably the same in all essential elements, under all dispensations—in its membership, in its sacraments, in its Savior, in its Sanctifier, in its faith, its hopes, its enjoyments, and its promised inheritance. And God’s church has always included infant children. Heaven is full of them. They belong to Christ’s kingdom here, and are included in the arms of its covenant. And as an example in all dispensations, infant children have always received its sign and seal by Divine authority. We are not left to mere inference here. We have no option in the case; God has settled the question Himself. His positive command is upon us; we must give them the sign of the covenant, or take the consequences of breaking God’s covenant. God has said it; and if we refuse or neglect this plain and indispensable duty, we rebel against God and set at naught His Divine authority. And if we deny Him by this act, we deny their interest in Christ—their membership in His family, and their title to the promised blessings of the covenant. Here, then, we have perfect harmony in all the dispensations of God’s grace to man; for as God is one, and His religion is one, so His church and covenant are one through all ages and dispensations. In its religion, its covenant, its membership, and its sacraments, they are one in their nature, their design, and their specific obligations. The Lord’s Supper is, as everyone knows, a full representation of everything essential in the sacrifices of former dispensations, and especially of the “Lord’s Passover.” And baptism evidently covers the whole ground, as a representative ordinance, of both circumcision and the baptisms of the Jewish law as a sacrament of the Lord’s house.
I have said that “the Lord’s Supper” has taken place of both sacrifices and the Passover as a sacrament of the Christian church. Like the Supper, all the bloody sacrifices of former dispensations, as well as the Passover, pointed directly to the atoning sacrifice of the Savior to come and the blood that was to be shed, just as in the Supper the “broken bread and wine” point to the same sacrifice, only now “the body is broken and the blood is shed.” Again, all the sin offerings, even as the paschal lamb, was to be eaten, just as the Supper is, to indicate that Christ was to be our life, as well as our atoning sacrifice. So in Christian baptism, it is “the water of separation, or purification from sin,” to us now, just as it was to the church then. And as the inward circumcision, or baptism of the soul, has in all ages been the same thing, bringing its subjects into the same family, and sealing the same Christian covenant, so water baptism, so far from being a new institution, is the NEW EDITION of the old sacrament of both circumcision and baptism, for every essential feature of both are expressed by it, as a representative ordinance, and as a sign and seal of the Spirit’s work in our salvation.
In conclusion upon this part of the argument, I will say, that as the Abrahamic family covenant and circumcision was a Christian family covenant and circumcision (as we have proved); and as this family is the invisible, Spiritual family, distinct and separate from the visible church as organized by Moses; and as its covenant promised only Spiritual blessings here and a heavenly Jerusalem hereafter; and as circumcision, its seal, on God’s part, saved from sin and imparted holiness, and on the part of the church, it bore witness to the grace that saved, and was a solemn public pledge of consecration and future obedience; and as infant children were members of this family, not only by divine authority, but by the direct application of the “blood of sprinkling” by the Holy Ghost; and as God has baptized their souls, He requires their external baptism as the outward sign of the work, and as a public acknowledgement of the divine claims and grace.
As the church is the same now as it was then, and its membership and sacraments essentially the same, Christian baptism having taken place of both baptism and circumcision, therefore baptism is now what circumcision was then; and if so, the command to circumcise is a command to baptize. We have no option in the case. The command is positive. Just as true as baptism has come in the place of circumcision as a seal of the covenant—and of this there can be no doubt, for no truth in the Bible is more clearly demonstrated—God’s command to give to children the seal of the covenant is just as binding on us today as it was on Abraham; and for us to withhold, or neglect it, is just as great a sin against God, and just as great an injustice to them, as it would have been in the case of Abraham. It matters not what the seal may be called, it is enough for us to know that our children, through the infinite mercy of God, are redeemed and saved, and that God has taken them into His own seal and requires theirs; and as baptism is the seal of the covenant now, to withhold it is to “break God’s covenant.” And as the same divine reasons for this duty are still in full force, the sin of neglect both against God and them must be fearfully great, in proportion to the light and love against which we rebel.
“But,” says one, “what good will it do them?” Tell me what good it do for yourself, and you will answer your own question; for no man living can tell of one single thing that water baptism does for the adult that it does not do for the infant. “But faith must precede baptism, for I read, “believe and be baptized.” So I read: “He that believeth not shall be damned.” And neither applies to infant children, for they are not guilty; and as infants can be saved without faith, they can be baptized without it. (Editor’s Note: Reach a little deeper into this objection and you will see the absurdity of it! If we apply the passage to infants, as adult immersionists do, then all infants are damned to Hell! They do not have “faith,” and are “damned already” according to this passage if we apply it to infant baptism. It is shameful exegesis to demand that infants should not be baptized according to this passage, and is to conveniently ignore the result that it can teach nothing other than universal infant damnation!) Yea, infants must be baptized, for the shadow and substance must go together. “ But let them wait and choose the mode of baptism for themselves. (Editor’s Note: And did God let Jewish boys 'choose’ the date and time of their circumcision? Did God let infant girls ‘choose’ the date and time of their initial purification by water?) God has chosen the mode of His own baptism, and when He willed and commanded sprinkling as the only mode that would indicate the thing intended, do you think that He did not know His own business? That He did not have an infinite reason for His choice? And when God has said that “the water of cleansing shall be sprinkled,” and has condescended to give you not only a reason, but the best kind of reason for it—yea, two of them: (1) It follows the example of the Master and baptizes the body just as He does the soul. (2) Water baptism is the sign or shadow of the other, and sprinkling is the only mode commanded or allowed! Now, you claim the right to rebel against God; but why are we not expressly commanded in the New Testament to baptize children? I answer, laws once enacted are in force until they are repealed, and as baptism fills the place in the church now that circumcision did formerly, the command to circumcise is a positive command to baptize. So Peter understood it on the Day of Pentecost, for he told the Jews that the same covenant “promise was not only unto them,” but also (as it always has been), “unto their children, too.” And the Savior gives a direct command in the Great Commission to baptize children. Let us see. He says: “Go disciple all nations, baptizing them.” Bear in mind they were all Jews. Now suppose the commission had said “Go disciple all nations, circumcising them,” what then? Would it not have included children, and a direct command to give them the seal of the covenant? Well, then, the commission is a direct command. “But why have we not plain examples of infant baptism?” We have two; 1 Cor. 10: 1, 2; and Heb. 9: 16-19. God Himself is the administrator in one case, and Moses in the other; and the whole congregation, men, women, and children, were subjects in both cases; and in each case not less than a million of children were baptized with water at one time, and they were included in all the baptisms, as well as the circumcisions of the former dispensation. “But I find many things said of circumcision that do not accord with your view of the subject.” True; but this only proves that the Christian ordinance of circumcision, like baptism, could be abused and misapprehended then as now.
That the apostles taught and practiced infant baptism is evident from two incontestable facts:
Here is a very learned and prominent bishop of the church whose doctrine
would have led him to deny infant baptism if he could, still he affirms it;
and with all his learning and extensive travels through nearly all the
Christian world, yet he had never heard or read of anyone that was impious
enough to deny a doctrine so important, so precious, and so universally
cherished by the church. The first opposers of infant baptism the world ever
heard of was a little heretical sect called “Petrobrusians,”
from Peter Bruis, a Frenchman, that arose in
THE DESIGN OF BAPTISM
There has never been but two systems of justification of sinners before God—the one of works, and the other of faith. The one saves us for Christ’s sake alone, and the other saves us, either wholly or in part, for our own sake. The latter is not only the universal mistake of the heathen world, but it has always been the most fatal heresy of the Christian Church. In the Christian sacraments the shadow has been substituted for the substance. The external ordinance of circumcision formerly, and baptism now, was and is glorified into a saving ordinance, and thus our own work is substituted for the merit of Christ’s blood and the saving power of the Holy Ghost. At this point I want to say, and I want to impress the truth indelibly upon every mind, that God has never made but two covenants with our race, and these two were made, both of them, with Adam in the garden—the one before, and the other after the Fall; the one was the covenant of works, and the other grace through faith. The terms of the one was do this and live, and the terms of the other was believe and be saved; the one is called “The Law,” and the other “The Gospel.” The one had no redeemer, no mediator, for it needed none—man was innocent, and, being perfect, he had the ability in himself to remain so; the other has both a redeemer and a mediator, because man is guilty and helpless. Under the law of works, man could save himself by his own doings; but when he fell he lost all hope from the law, for his depravity deprived him of all ability to keep the law, and his guilt also demanded death; and in the law there was no mercy, no provision for pardon, or for the renewal of our fallen nature, and, almighty as it was to protect the innocent, it was equally potent to condemn the guilty.
At this point the new covenant intervenes, and Christ, as its Mediator and our Savior, assumes our nature, lives and dies for us, suffers for our offense and violation of the law, releases us from its claims as our surety; and in His Gospel offers us not only pardon for our guilt, but also a renewed nature, by which “the righteousness of the law” may be fulfilled in or by us “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Through Christ, then, our entire race “is dead to the law,” and “the law to us.” “The law has no more dominion over us, for we are not under the law, but under grace.” The Gospel dispensation, then, commenced with the promise of a Savior, and since then all our obligations are due to Christ, whose we are, and to whom all of our obligations to the law are counted, since “we are bought with the price of His precious blood.” So that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
Therefore, justification by works rejects Christ—rejects His atonement; rejects the Spirit’s influence in the renewal of our nature; rejects the doctrine of pardon through the blood of Christ, and of regeneration altogether. In fact it is an utter rejection of the plan of salvation through Christ, and is the identical heresy condemned by Paul (Gal. 1: 6-8), and called “another gospel,” or a “perversion of the Gospel of Christ,” and claims that those who preach it “ought to be cursed.” True, they claimed to be justified by circumcision and outward obedience, and these claim justification by baptism and external obedience, but the principle is the same. Justification in each case is for and in consideration of our own doings and merit, and, of course, a rejection of Christ and the whole plan of salvation through Him. For is righteousness be of the law, then is “Christ died in vain,” for says Paul: I testify again unto you, that if ye be circumcised (or trust in baptism) Christ shall profit you nothing: Whosoever of you are justified by the law ye are fallen from grace.”
Let it be distinctly understood, that whenever the law is contrasted with the Gospel, no reference is made to the moral code delivered at Sinai, or the ceremonial law of the Jews; for these laws were a part of the Gospel of Christ, as much so as the sermon on the mount, for they both imply a mediator and were conditioned on faith. These laws express a new edition of the old law of works dispensed through Christ, our surety, whose grace enables us to obey them, if that grace is received through faith in His merits alone. Justification, then, is by faith only, for the following reasons: (1) Works are an impossibility; the law of works required perfection, and, as fallen beings, we are imperfect, hence obedience is impossible. (2) If perfect obedience were possible, it would avail nothing, for it could not atone for past sin. (3) Being guilty, the law demands death, and nothing can remove the awful curse but the atoning blood of the Son of God; therefore, faith in Him and His merits is the only remedy possible to us. Reject Him and there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin—nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment, and “fiery indignation that shall devour the adversaries.” (4) Justification from past sin cannot be by “faith and obedience, as some claim. Why? Because if we are saved at all it is alone for Christ’s sake, and not for our own, in whole or in part; and this is the truth of reason and revelation both. For us to come to God for pardon, even in part of our own work, is an insult to heaven, for it denies the righteous claims of Christ—robs Him of His glory, denies salvation by grace, and claims at least a part of the merit and glory; and Christ cannot share His glory with another. Again, justification by “faith and works” is both a falsehood and an absurdity. It is a falsehood in this: Faith claims salvation for Christ’s sake alone—that is, because Christ has satisfied the law for us, and works denies the whole thing and claims justification for its own doings; and it is an absurdity from the fact that it claims that the imperfect obedience of a sinner can satisfy the claims of God’s perfect law, and also atone for past sin. (5) We must be justified altogether, either by the law of works or the law of faith. There can be no medium. It must be by our own merits alone, or for Christ’s sake alone; and as the law of works has ceased and given place to the Gospel of grace, therefore, “He that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousness.”
Making water baptism a condition of salvation is an absurdity, for the following reasons:1. It would damn ninety-nine hundredths of our race for not complying with an impossible condition. (1) All mankind for the first 4,000 years; (2) all the heathen of the present, who have not the Gospel; (3) all in Christian lands who lack the opportunity, or cannot believe in its absurdity.
2. It suspends the salvation of every man upon a condition that he cannot do himself—he cannot baptize himself.
3. It makes water and its human administrator essential, and thus glorifies water to be the only saving element, and the administrator to be the only saving agent in the universe, and thus robs the blood of Christ of its merit and the Holy Ghost of His agency.
4. It takes the salvation of the sinner out of the hands of Christ and the Holy Spirit altogether, and suspends it solely upon the will and work of the human administrator.
5. It makes water baptism a saving ordinance, not an emblem, but in reality! And thus denies the baptism of the Holy Ghost; and thus they substitute the shadow for the substance, and stupidly dream that the mere element of water applied to the body can cleanse the soul from sin.
6. It not only rejects divine agency in regeneration, but denies its necessity and claims of purpose (that we can do ourselves) all the change necessary.
7. It not only rejects a divine change of heart, and the Spirit’s work in applying the blood of sprinkling, but it rejects Christ and His atonement as well, for it substitutes water for the blood, and human for divine agency for its application—the body for the soul, a change of purpose for a change of nature, and our own work and merit for the work and merits of Christ. Therefore, we conclude with Paul: “That a man is justified by faith, without the deed of the law: For by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified;” but “he that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousness.
The only text in the bible that appears to favor the heretical assumption
of justification by works is Acts 2: 38: “Repent and be baptized every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive
the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The only text in the bible that appears to favor the heretical assumption of justification by works is Acts 2: 38: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
This text, it is affirmed, requires water baptism as an
essential condition of pardon, from the fact that the word for means
“in order to.” This assumption is mere
sophistry, for the conclusion is not in the premises. The word for may mean “in
order to” as a means as well as a condition; and if so, it might be useful,
like any other means of grace, without being at all necessary as a condition. But we are prepared to prove, to a perfect
demonstration, that it has no such meaning in either case. Mark the following
Again, the history of this
transaction is important from another fact, to wit: As Peter’s sermon on the
Day of Pentecost was the opening of the Christian dispensation to the Jews, so
this was the opening of the Gospel kingdom to the gentiles; and as
the condition of salvation now preached was to be the
pattern and rule of the Gospel kingdom to the end of time, therefore,
whatever may have been required of the Jews at Pentecost, it is certain that as
far as the gentiles are concerned, no man has any right or authority even to mention water to them while the world stands, until after
they are pardoned and saved by simple faith. But lest some one should
still think that Peter was inconsistent, and preached a different Gospel to the
Jews on the Day of Pentecost, we will permit him to explain himself. This he has
done in two places. In the next chapter, in defending himself before the
council, he said: “As I began to
speak the Holy Ghost fell on them, as it did on us at the beginning, who
believed.” Mark you, the blessing is
by faith in both cases. And in
chapter 15: 8, 9, he says: “God, who knoweth the hearts, gave unto them the
Holy Ghost, even as unto us, and put no
difference between them and us, purifying their hearts by
faith.” This settles the question forever. Peter explains his own words on the
Day of Pentecost in perfect harmony with his doctrine to the gentiles. The
hearts of both were purified by faith, and God put no difference between them,
either in the blessing received, or the condition
of it! Water baptism in the Christian system is, and can be, the condition
of nothing. But, says one, “the Bible nowhere says by faith only.” Let
us see. What does the word “only” mean? Does it not indicate something that
STANDS alone—something by itself?
And when Paul said “We are all
children of God by faith in Jesus
Christ,” and “Abraham believed God, and it
was counted to him for righteousness,’ and “To him that worketh
not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted
for righteousness,” and when Peter says that the hearts of both Jews and
gentiles “are purified by faith,” does
not faith stand alone? By itself? In the singular number? And all through the
Bible, is there one single case where anything is associated with faith as a
condition in the pardon of the sinner? (Editor’s
Note: This “faith” does not exclude the condition of repentance, but assumes
that it is inclusive in “saving” faith. True faith will turn from that sin
which damns them. One cannot have saving faith and remain in open rebellion to a
Holy God, or the Christ crucified for that very sin. The author does not bring
this up in his argument, but clearly does not deny a fruitful “saving”
faith). God has not only established faith as the only condition of pardon, but He has kindly given as many divine
reasons therefore. We have time and space for a few: “It is by faith that it
might be by grace to the end, that the promise might be sure to all the seed,
not only to that which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of
Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Here are a few reasons:
Other articles on baptism