Theological Institutes

Part Fourth - The Institutions of Christianity

By Richard Watson

Chapter 3


THE obligation of baptism rests upon the example of our Lord, who, by hi disciples, baptized many that by his discourses and miracles were brought to profess faith in him as the Messias;-upon his solemn command to his apostles after his resurrection, "Go and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," Matt xxviii, 19. And upon the practice of the apostles themselves, who thus showed that they did not understand baptism, like our Quakers, in a mystical sense. Thus St. Peter, in his sermon upon the day of pentecost, exhorts, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and shall receive the Holy Ghost," Acts ii, 38.

As to this sacrament, which has occasioned endless and various controversies, three things require examination,-its NATURE; its SUBJECTS; and its MODE.

I. ITS NATURE. The Romanists, agreeably to their superstitious opinion as to the efficacy of sacraments, consider baptism administered by a priest having a good intention, as of itself applying the merit of Christ to the person baptized. According to them, baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, and they therefore admit its validity when administered to a dying child by any person present, should there be noriest at hand. From this view of its efficacy arises their distinc­tion between sins committed before and after baptism. The hereditary corruption of our nature, ad all actual sins committed before baptism, are said to be entirely removed by it; so that if the most abandoned person were to receive it or the first time in the article of death, all his sins would be washed way. But all sins committed after baptism, and the infusion of that grace which is conveyed by the sacrament, must be expiated by penance. In this notion of regeneration, or the washing away of original sin by baptism, the Roman Church followed Augustine; but as he was a predestinarian, he was obliged to invent a distinction between those who are regenerated, and those who are predestinated to eternal life; so that, according to him, although all the baptized are freed from that corruption which is entailed upon mankind by Adam's lapse, and experience a renovation of mind, none continue to walk in that state but the predestinated. The Lutheran Church also places the efficacy of this sacrament in regeneration, by which faith is actually conveyed to the soul of an infant. The Church of England in her baptismal services has not departed entirely from the terms used by the Romish Church from which she separated. She speaks of those who are by nature "born in sin," being made by baptism "the children of grace," which are, however, words of equivocal import; and she gives thanks to God "that it hath pleased him to regenerate this infant with his Holy Spirit," probably using the term regeneration in the same large sense as several of the ancient fathers, and not in its modern theological interpretation, which is more strict. However this be, a controversy has long existed in the English Church as to the real opi­nion of her founders on this point; one part of the clergy holding the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, and the absolute necessity of baptism unto salvation; the other taking different views not only of the doctrine of Scripture, but also of the import of various expressions found in the articles, catechisms, and offices of the Church itself. The Quakers view baptism only as spiritual, and thus reject the rite altogether, as one of the "beggarly elements" of former dispensations; while the Socinians regard it as a mere mode of professing the religion of Christ. Some of them indeed consider it as calculated to produce a moral effect upon those who submit to it, or who witness its administration; while others think it so entirely a ceremony of induction into the so­ciety of Christians from Judaism and paganism, as to be necessary only when such conversions take place, so that it might be wholly laid aside in Christian nations.

We have called baptism a federal transaction; an initiation into, and acceptance of, the covenant of grace, required of us by Christ as a visible expression and act of that faith in him which he has, made a condition of that salvation. It is a point, however, of so much import­ance to establish the covenant character of this ordinance, and so much of the controversy as to the proper subjects of baptism depends upon it, that we may consider it somewhat at large.

That the covenant with Abraham, of which circumcision was made the sign and seal, Gen. xvii, 7, was the general covenant of grace, and not wholly, or even chiefly, a political and national covenant, may be satisfactorily established.

The first engagement in it was, that God would "greatly bless" Abraham; which promise, although it comprehended temporal blessings referred, as we learn from St. Paul, more fully to the blessing of his justification by the imputation of his faith for righteousness, with all the spiritual advantages consequent upon the relation which was thus established between him and God, in time and eternity. The second promise in the covenant was, that he should be "the father of many nations," which we are also taught by St. Paul to interpret more with reference to his spiritual seed, the followers of that faith whereof cometh justification, than to his natural descendants. "That the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to that which is by the law, hut to that also which is by the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,"- of all believing Gentiles as well as Jews. The third stipulation in God's covenant with the patriarch, was the gift of Abraham and to his seed of "the land of Canaan," in which the temporal promise was manifestly but the type of the higher promise of a heavenly inheritance. Hence St. Paul says, "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, dwell­ing in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;" but this "faith" did not respect the fulfilment of the temporal promise; for St. Paul adds, "they looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God," Heb. xi, 19. The next pro­mise was, that God would always be "a God to Abraham and to his seed after him," a promise which is connected with the highest spiritual bless­ings, such as the remission of sins, and the sanctification of our nature, as well as with a visible Church state. It is even used to express the felicitous state of the Church in heaven, Rev. xxi, 3. The final engagement in the Abrahamic covenant, was that in Abraham's "seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed;" and this blessing, we are ex­pressly taught by St. Paul, was nothing less than the justification of all nations, that is, of all believers in all nations, by faith in Christ :-" And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen by faith, preached before the Gospel to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they who are of faith, are blessed with believing Abraham," they receive the same blessing, justification, by the same means, faith, Gal. iii, 8, 9.

This covenant with Abraham, therefore, although it respected a natural seed, Isaac, from whom a numerous progeny was to spring; and an earthly inheritance provided for this issue, the land of Canaan; and a special covenant relation with the descendants of Isaac, through the line of Jacob, to whom Jehovah was to be "a God," visibly and specially, and they a visible and "peculiar people;" yet was, under all these temporal, earthly, and external advantages, but a higher and spiritual grace embodying itself under these circumstances, as types of a dispensation of salvation and eternal life, to all who should follow the faith of Abraham, whose justification before God was the pattern of the justification of every man, whether Jew or Gentile, in all ages.

Now, of this covenant, in its spiritual as well as in its temporal pro. visions, circumcision was most certainly the sacrament, that is, the "sign" and the "seal;" for St. Paul thus explains the case: "And lie received the SIGN of circumcision, a SEAL of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised." And as this right was enjoined upon Abraham's posterity, so that every "uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin was not circumcised on the eighth day," was to be "cut off from his people," by the special judgment of God, and that because "he had broken God's covenant," Gen. xvii, 14, it therefore follows that this rite was a constant publication of God's cove­nant of grace among the descendants of Abraham, and its repetition a continual confirmation of that covenant, on the part of God, to all prac­tising it in that faith of which it was the ostensible expression.

As the covenant of grace made with Abraham was bound up with temporal promises and privileges, so circumcision was a sign and seal of the covenant in both its parts,-its spiritual and its temporal, its superior and inferior, provisions. The spiritual promises of the covenant continued unrestricted to all the descendants of Abraham, whether by Isaac or by Ishmael; and still lower down, to the descendants of Esau as well as to those of Jacob. Circumcision was practised among them all by virtue of its Divine institution at first; and was extended to their foreign servants, and to proselytes, as well as to their children; and wherever the sign of the covenant of grace was by Divine appointment, there it was as a seal of that covenant, to all who believingly used it; for we read of no restriction of its spiritual blessings, that is, its saving engagements, to one line of descent from Abraham only. But over the temporal branch of the covenant, and the external religious privileges arising out of it, God exercised a rightful sovereignty, and expressly re­stricted them first to the line of Isaac, and then to that of Jacob, with whose descendants he entered into special covenant by the ministry of Moses. The temporal blessings and external privileges comprised under general expressions in the covenant with Abraham, were explain­ed and enlarged under that of Moses, while the spiritual blessings re­mained unrestricted as before. This was probably the reason why circumcision was re-enacted under the law of Moses. It was a con­firmation of the temporal blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, now, by a covenant of peculiarity, made over to them, while it was still recognized as a consuetudinary rite which had descended to them from their fathers, and as the sign and seal of the covenant of grace, made with Abraham and with all his descendants without exception. This double reference of circumcision, both to the authority of Moses and to that of the patriarchs, is found in the words of our Lord, John vii, 22: "Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;" or, as it is better translated by Campbell, "Moses insti­tuted circumcision among you, (not that it is from Moses, but from the patriarchs,) and ye circumcise on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a child receive circumcision, that the law of Moses may not be violated," &c.

From these observations, the controversy in the apostolic Churches respecting circumcision will derive much elucidation.

The covenant with Abraham prescribed circumcision as an act of faith in its promises, and a pledge [to perform its conditions] [on the part of his descendants.] But the object on which this faith rested, was "the seed of Abraham," in whom the nations of the earth were to be blessed: which seed, says St. Paul, "is Christ;"-Christ as promised, not yet come. When the Christ had come, so as fully to enter upon his redeeming offices, he could no longer be the object of faith, as still to come; and this leading promise of the covenant being accomplished, the sign and seal of it vanished away. Nor could circumcision be con­tinued in this view, by any, without an implied denial that Jesus was the Christ, the expected seed of Abraham. Circumcision also as an insti­tution of Moses, who continued it as the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant both in its spiritual and temporal provisions, but with respect to the latter made it also the sign and seal of the restriction of its temporal blessings and peculiar religious privileges to the descendants of Israel, was terminated by the entrance of our Lord upon his office of Mediator, in which office all nations were to be blessed in him. The Mosaic edition of the covenant not only guaranteed the land of Canaan, but the peculiarity of the Israelites, as the people and visible Church of God to the exclusion of others, except by proselytism. But when our Lord commanded the Gospel to be preached to "all nations," and opened the gates of the "common salvation" to all, whether Gentiles or Jews, circumcision, as the sign of a covenant of peculiarity and religious distinction, was done away also. It had not only no reason remaining, but the continuance of the rite involved the recognition of exclusive privileges which had been terminated by Christ.

This will explain the views of the Apostle Paul on this great question. He declares that in Christ there is neither circumcision nor uncircum­cision; that neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumci­sion, but "faith that worketh by love;" faith in the seed of Abraham already come and already engaged in his mediatorial and redeeming work; faith, by virtue of which the Gentiles came into the Church of Christ on the same terms as the Jews themselves, and were justified and saved. The doctrine of the non-necessity of circumcision he applies to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles, although he specially re­sists the attempts of the Judaizers to impose this rite upon the Gentile converts; in which he was supported by the decision of the Holy Spirit when the appeal upon this question was made to "the apostles and elders at Jerusalem," from the Church at Antioch. At the same time it is clear that he takes two different views of the practice of circum­cision, as it was continued among many of the first Christians. The first is that strong one which is expressed in Gal. v, 2-4, "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing; for I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no eject unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace." The second is that milder view which he himself must have had when he circumcised Timothy to render him more acceptable to the Jews; and which also appears to have led him to abstain from all allusion to this practice when writing his epistle to the believing Hebrews, although many, perhaps most of them, continued to circumcise their children, as did the Jewish Christians for a long time afterward. These different views of circumcision, held by the same person, may be explained by considering the different principles on which circumcision might be practised after it had become an obsolete ordinance.

1. It might be taken in the simple view of its first institution, as the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant; and then it was to be condemned as involving a denial that Abraham's seed, the Christ, had already come, since, upon his coming, every old covenant gave place to the new covenant introduced by him.

2. It might be practised and enjoined as the sign and seal of the Mosaic covenant, which was still the Abrahamic covenant with its spiritual blessings, but with restriction of its temporal promises and special ecclesiastical privileges to the line of Jacob, with a law of observances which was obligatory upon all entering that covenant by circumcision. In that case it involved, in like manner, the notion of the continuance of an old covenant, after the establishment of the new; for thus St. Paul states the case in Gal. iii, 19, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions until THE SEED should come. After that therefore it had no effect :-it had waxed old, and had vanished away.

3. Again: Circumcision might imply an obligation to observe all the ceremonial usages and the moral precepts of the Mosaic law, along with a general belief in the mission of Christ, as necessary to justifica­tion before God. This appears to have been the view of those among the Galatian Christians who submitted to circumcision, and of the Jew­ish teachers who enjoined it upon them; for St. Paul in that epistle constantly joins circumcision with legal observances, and as involving an obligation to do "the whole law," in order to justification. "I tes­tify again to every man that is circumcised that he is a debtor to do THE WHOLE LAW; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace." "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ," Gal. ii, 16. To all persons therefore practising circumcision in this view, it was obvious that "Christ was become of none effect," the very principle of justification by faith alone in him was renounced, even while his Di­vine mission was still admitted.

4. But there are two grounds on which circumcision may be conceived to have been innocently, though not wisely, practised among the Christian Jews. The first was that of preserving an ancient national distinction on which they valued themselves; and were a converted Jew in the present day disposed to perform that rite upon his children for this purpose only, renouncing in the act all consideration of it as a sign and seal of the old covenants, or as obliging to ceremonial acts in order to justification, no one would censure him with severity. It appears clear that it was under some such view that St. Paul circum­cised Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess; he did it because of " the Jews which were in those quarters," that is, because of their national prejudices, "for they knew that his father was a Greek." The second was a lingering notion, that, even in the Christian Church, the Jews who believed would still retain some degree of eminence, some superior relation to God; a notion which, however unfounded, was not one which demanded direct rebuke, when it did not proudly refuse spiritual com­munion with the converted Gentiles, but was held by men who "re­joiced that God had granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life." These considerations may account for the silence of St. Paul on the subject of circumcision in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Some of them continued to practise that rite, but they were probably believers of the class just mentioned; for had he thought that the rite was continued among them on any principle which affected the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, he would no doubt have been equally prompt and fear­less in pointing out that apostasy from Christ which was implied in it, as when he wrote to the Galatians.

Not only might circumcision be practised with views so opposite that one might be wholly innocent, although an infirmity of prejudice; the other such as would involve a rejection of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ; but some other Jewish observances also stood in the same circumstances. St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, a part of his writings from which we obtain the most information on these questions, grounds his "doubts" whether the members of that Church were not seeking to be "justified by the law," upon their observing "days, and months, and times, and years." Had he done more than "doubt," he would have expressed himself more positively. He saw their danger on this point; he saw that they were taking steps to this fatal result, by such an observance of these " days," &c, as had a strong leaning and dangerous approach to that dependence upon them for justification, which would destroy their faith in Christ's solely suffi­cient sacrifice; but his very doubting, not of the fact of their being addicted to these observances, but of the animus with which they re­garded them, supposes it possible, however dangerous this Jewish conformity might be, that they might be observed for reasons which would still consist with their entire reliance upon the merits of Christ for salvation. Even he himself, strongly as he resisted the imposition of this conformity to Jewish customs upon the converts to Christianity as a matter of necessity, yet in practice must have conformed to many of them, when no sacrifice of principle was understood; for, in order to gain the Jews, he became "as a Jew."

From these observations, which have been somewhat digressive, we return to observe that not only was the Abrahamic covenant, of which circumcision was the sign and seal, a covenant of grace, but that when this covenant in its ancient form was done away in Christ, then the old sign and seal peculiar to that form was by consequence abolished. If then baptism be not the initiatory sign and seal of the same covenant in its new and perfect form, as circumcision was of the old, this new covenant has no such initiatory rite or sacrament at all; since the Lord's Supper is not initiatory, but, like the sacrifices of old, is of regular and habitual observance. Several passages of Scripture, and the very nature of the ordinance of baptism, will, however, show that bap­tism is to the new covenant what circumcision was to the old, and took its place by the APPOINTMENT of Christ.

This may be argued from our Lord's commission to his apostles, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to ob­serve all things, whatsoever I have commanded you," Matt. xxviii, 19, 20. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," Mark xvi, 15; 16.

To understand the force of these words of our Lord, it must be observed, that the gate of" the common salvation" was only now for the first time going to be opened to the Gentile nations, he himself had declared that in his personal ministry he was not sent but to " the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" and he had restricted his disciples in like manner, not only from ministering to the Gentiles, but from entering any city of the Samaritans. By what means therefore were "all nations" now to be brought into the Church of God, which from henceforth was most truly to be catholic or universal? Plainly, by baptizing them that believed the "good news," and accepted the terms of the new covenant. This is apparent from the very words; and thus was baptism expressly made the initiatory rite, by which believers of "all nations" were to be introduced into the Church and covenant of grace; an office in which it manifestly took the place of circumcision, which heretofore, even from the time of Abraham, had been the only initiatory rite into the same covenant. Moses re-enacted circumcision; our Lord not only does not re-enact it, but, on the contrary, lie appoints another mode of entrance into the covenant in its new and perfected form, and that so expressly as to amount to a formal abrogation of the ancient sign, and the putting of baptism in its place. The same argu­ment may be maintained from the words of our Lord to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." By the kingdom of God, our Lord, no doubt, in the highest sense, means the future state of felicity; but he uses this phrase to express the state of his Church on earth, which is the gate to that celestial kingdom; and generally indeed speaks of his Church on earth under this mode of expression, rather than of the heavenly state, If then he declares that no one can "enter" into that Church but by being "born of water and of the Holy Spirit," which heavenly gift followed upon baptism when received in true faith, he clearly makes baptism the mode of initiation into his Church in this passage as in the last quoted; and in both he assigns to it the same office as circumcision in the Church of the Old Testament, whether in its patriarchal or Mosaic form.

A farther proof that baptism has precisely the same federal and initiatory character as circumcision, and that it was instituted for the same ends, and in its place, is found in Colossians ii, 10-12, "And ye ire complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power; in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism," &c. Here baptism is also made the initiatory rite of the new dispensation, that by which the Colossians were joined to Christ in whom they are said to be "complete;" and so certain is it that baptism has the same office and import now as circum­cision formerly~-with this difference only, that the object of faith was then future, and now it is Christ as come,-that the apostle expressly calls baptism "the circumcision of Christ," the circumcision instituted by him, which phrase he puts out of the reach of frivolous criticism, by adding exegetically,-" buried with him in baptism." For unless the apostle here calls baptism "the circumcision of Christ," lie asserts that we "put off the body of the sins of the flesh," that is, become new creatures by virtue of our Lord's own personal circumcision; but if this be absurd, then the only reason for which he can call baptism "the circumcision of Christ," or Christian circumcision, is, that it has taken the place of the Abrahamic circumcision, and fulfils the same office of introducing believing men into God's covenant, and entitling them to the enjoyment of spiritual blessings.

But let us also quote Gal. iii, 27-29, "For as many of you as have been baptized INTO Christ, have put on Christ; there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus; and if ye are Christ's," by thus being " baptized," and by "putting on" Christ," then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

The argument here is also decisive. It cannot be denied that it was by circumcision believingly submitted to, that " strangers" or heathens, as well as Jews, became the spiritual "seed of Abraham," and "heirs" of the same spiritual and heavenly "promises." But the same office in this passage is ascribed to baptism also believingly submitted to; and the conclusion is therefore inevitable. The same covenant character of each rite is here also strongly marked, as well as that the covenant is the same, although under a different mode of administration. In no other way could circumcision avail any thing under the Abrahamic covenant, than as it was that visible act by which God's covenant to justify men by faith in the promised seed was accepted by them. It was therefore a part of a federal transaction; that outward act which he who offered a covenant engagement so gracious required as a solemn declaration of the acceptance of the covenanted grace upon the covenanted conditions. It was thus that the Abrahamic covenant was offered to the ac­ceptance of all who heard it, and thus that they were to declare their acceptance of it. In the same manner there is a standing offer of the same covenant of mercy wherever the Gospel is preached. The "good news" which it contains is that of a promise, an engagement, a cove­nant on the part of God to remit sin, and to save all that believe in Christ. To the covenant in this new form he also requires a visible and formal act of acceptance, which act when expressive of the required faith makes us parties to the covenant, and entitles us through the faithfulness of God to its benefits. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" or, as in the passage before us, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ; and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

We have the same view of baptism as an act of covenant acceptance, and as it relates to God's gracious engagement to justify the ungodly by faith in his Son, in the often-quoted passage in 1 Peter iii, 20, "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure where­unto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

When St. Peter calls baptism the " figure," antitupon, the antitype of the transaction by which Noah and his family were saved from perishing with the ungodly and unbelieving world, he had doubtless in mind the faith of Noah, and that under the same view as the Apostle Paul, in Heb. xi, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which" act of faith "he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith ;" an expression of the same import as if he had said, "by which act of faith he was justified before God." It has been already explained in another place (Part ii, chap. xxii, p. 171) in what way Noah's preparing of the ark, and his faith in the Divine pro­mise of preservation, were indicative of his having that direct faith in the Christ to come, of which the Apostle Paul discourses in the eleventh of the Hebrews, as that which characterized "all the elders," and by which they obtained their "good report" in the Church. His preserva­tion and that of his family was so involved in the fulfilment of the more ancient promise respecting the seed of the woman, and the deliverance of man from the power of Satan, that we are warranted to conclude that his faith in the promise respecting his own deliverance from the deluge, was supported by his faith in that greater promise, which must have fallen to the ground had the whole race perished without exception. His building of the ark, and entering into it with his family, are therefore considered by St. Paul as the visible expression of his faith in the an­cient promises of God respecting Messiah; and for this reason baptism is called by St. Peter, without any allegory at all, but in the sobriety of fact "the antitype" of this transaction; the one exactly answering to the other, as an external expression of faith in the same objects and the same promises.

But the apostle does not rest in this general representation. He proceeds to express in a particular and most forcible manner, the nature of Christian baptism,-' not the putting away of the filth of the flesh; but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Now, whether we take the word eperwthma, rendered in our translation "answer," for a demand or requirement; or for the answer to a question or questions; or in the sense of stipulation; the general import of the passage is nearly the same. If the first, then the meaning of the apostle is, that baptism is not the putting away the filth of the flesh, not a mere external ceremony; but a rite which demand, or requires something of us, in order to the attainment of a "good con­science." What that is, we learn from the words of our Lord: it is faith in Christ: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" which faith is the reliance of a penitent upon the atonement of the Saviour, who thus submits with all gratitude and truth to the terms of the evangelical covenant. If we take the second sense, we must lay aside the notion of some lexicographers and commentators, who think that there is an allusion to the ancient practice of demanding of the candidates for baptism whether they renounced their sins, and the service of Satan, with other questions of the same import; for, ancient as these questions may be, they are probably not so ancient as the time of the apostle. We know, however, from the instance of Philip and the eunuch, that there was an explicit requirement of faith, and as explicit an answer or confession: "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest; and he answered, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God." Every administration of baptism indeed implied this de­mand; and baptism, if we understand St. Peter to refer to this circum­stance, was such an "answer" to the interrogations of the administrator, as expressed a true and evangelical faith. If we take the third render­ing of "stipulation," which has less to support it critically than either of the others, still as the profession of faith was a condition of baptism, that profession had the full force of a formal stipulation, since all true faith in Christ requires an entire subjection to him as Lord, as well as Saviour.

Upon this passage, however, a somewhat clearer light may be thrown, by understanding the word eperwthma in the sense of that which asks, requires, seeks, something beyond itself. The verb from which it is derived signifies to ask or require; but eperwthma occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; and but once in the version of the Seventy, Dan. iv, 17, where, however, it is used so as to be fully illustrative of: the meaning of St. Peter. Nebuchadnezzar was to be humbled by being driven from men to associate with the beasts of the field; and the vision in which this was represented concludes. "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand, to eperwthma, by the word of the Holy Ones, to the intent that the living may know, in a gnwsin ot zwnte~, that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men." The Chaldaic word, like the Greek, is from a word which signifies to ask, to require, and may be equally expressed by the word petitio, which is the rendering of the Vulgate, or by postulatum. There was an end, an "intent." for which the humbling of the Babylonian king was required "by the word of the Holy Ones" that, by the signal punishment of the greatest earthly monarch, the living might know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men." In like manner baptism has an end, an intent," "not the putting away the filth of the flesh," but obtaining "a good Conscience toward God;" and it requires, claims this good conscience through that faith in Christ whereof cometh remission of sins, the cleansing of the "conscience from dead works," and those supplies of supernatural aid by which, in future, men may "live in all good conscience before God." It is thus that we see how St. Peter preserves the correspondence between the act of Noah in preparing the ark as an act of faith by which he was justified, and the act of submitting to Christian baptism, which is also obviously an act of faith, in order to the remission of sins, or the obtaining a good conscience before God. This is farther strengthened by his im­mediately adding, "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" a clause which our translators by the use of a parenthesis, connect with "baptism doth also now save us;" so that their meaning is, we are saved by baptism through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and as he "rose again for our justification," this sufficiently shows the true sense of the apostle, who, by our being "saved," clearly means our being justified by faith.

The text, however, needs no parenthesis, and the true sense may be thus expressed: "The antitype to which water of the flood, baptism, doth now save us; not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but that which intently seeks a good conscience toward God, through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ." But however a particular word may be disposed of, the whole passage can only be consistently taken to teach us that baptism is the outward sign of our entrance into God's covenant of mercy; and that when it is an act of true faith, it becomes an instrument of salvation, like that act of faith in Noah, by which, when moved with fear, he "prepared an ark to the saving of his house," and survived the destruction of an unbelieving world.

From what has been said it will then follow, that the Abrahamic covenant and the Christian covenant is the same gracious engagement on the part of God to show mercy to man, and to bestow upon him eternal life, through faith in Christ as the true sacrifice for sin, differing only in circumstances; and that as the sign and seal of this covenant under the old dispensation was circumcision, under the new it is baptism, which has the same federal character, performs the same initiatory office, and is instituted by the same authority. For none could have authority to lay aside the appointed seal, but the being who first instituted it, who changed the form of the covenant itself, and who has in fact abrogated the old seal by the appointment of an­other, even baptism, which is made obligatory upon "all nations to whom the Gospel is preached, and is" to continue to "the end of the world."

This argument is sufficiently extended to show that the Antipaedobaptist writers have in vain endeavoured to prove that baptism has not been appointed in the room of circumcision; a point on which, indeed, they were bound to employ all their strength; for the substitution of baptism for circumcision being established, one of their main objections to infant baptism, as we shall just now show, is rendered wholly nugatory.

But it is not enough, in stating the nature of the ordinance of Christian baptism, to consider it generally as an act by which man enters into God's covenant of grace. Under this general view several particulars are contained, which it is of great importance rightly to understand. Baptism, both as a sign and seal, presents an entire correspondence with the ancient rite of circumcision. Let it then be considered,-

1. As A SIGN. Under this view, circumcision indicated, by a visible and continued rite, the placability of God toward his sinful creatures, and held out the promise of justification, by faith alone, to every truly penitent offender. It went farther, and was the sign of sanctification, or the taking away the pollution of sin, "the superfluity of naughtiness," as well as the pardon of actual offences, and thus was the visible emblem of a regenerate mind, and a renewed life. This will appear from the following passages: "For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God," Rom. ii, 28. "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live," Deut. xxx, 6. "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusa­lem," Jer. iv, 3. It was the sign also of peculiar relation to God, as his people: "Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise, THEREFORE, the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked," Deut. x, 15, 16.

In all these respects, baptism, as a sign of the new covenant, corresponds to circumcision. Like that, its administration is a constant exhi­bition of the placability of God to man; like that, it is the initiatory rite into a covenant which promises pardon and salvation to a true faith, of which it is the outward profession; like that, it is the symbol of regeneration, the washing away of sin, and "the renewing of the Holy Ghost ;" and like that, it is a sign of peculiar relation to God, Christians becoming, in consequence, "a chosen generation, a peculiar people,"- his "Church" on earth, as distinguished from "the world." "For we," says the apostle, "are the circumcision," we are that peculiar people and Church now, which was formerly distinguished by the sign of cir­cumcision, "who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

But as a sign baptism is more than circumcision; because the cove­nant, under its new dispensation, was not only to offer pardon upon believing, deliverance from the bondage of fleshly appetites, and a peculiar spiritual relation to God, all which we find under the Old Testament; but also to bestow the Holy Spirit, in his FULNESS, upon all be­lievers; and of this effusion of "the power from on high," baptism was made the visible sign; and perhaps for this, among some other obvious reasons, was substituted for circumcision, because baptism by effusion, or pouring, (the New Testament mode of baptizing, as we shall after-ward show,) was a natural symbol of this heavenly gift. The baptism of John had special reference to the Holy Spirit, which was not to be administered by him, but by Christ, who should come after him. This gift only honoured John's baptism once, in the extraordinary case of our Lord; but it constantly followed upon the baptism administered by the apostles of Christ, after his ascension, and "the sending of the promise of the Father." Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," Acts ii, 17. "According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed," or poured out, "on us abundantly through Jesus Christ." For this reason Christianity is called "the ministration of the Spirit;" and so far is this from being confined to the miraculous gifts often bestowed in the first age of the Church, that it is made the standing and prominent test of true Christianity to "be led by the Spirit,"- "If ANY MAN have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Of this great new covenant blessing, baptism was therefore eminently the sign; and it represented "the pouring out" of the Spirit, "the descending" of the Spirit, the "falling" of the Spirit "upon men," by the mode in which it was administered, the POURING of water FROM ABOVE upon the sub­jects baptized.

As a SEAL also, or confirming sign, baptism answers to circumcision. By the institution of the latter, A PLEDGE was constantly given by the Almighty to bestow the spiritual blessings of which the rite was the sign, pardon and sanctification through faith in the future seed of Abraham; peculiar relation to Him as "his people;" and the heavenly inheritance. Of the same blessings, baptism is also the pledge, along with that higher dispensation of the Holy Spirit which it specially represents in emblem. Thus in baptism there is on the part of God a visible assurance of his faithfulness to his covenant stipulations. But it is our seal also; it is that act by which we make ourselves parties to the cove­nant, and thus "set to our seal, that God is true." In this respect it binds us, as, in the other, GOD mercifully binds himself for the stronger assurance of our faith. We pledge ourselves to trust wholly in Christ for pardon and salvation, and to obey his laws ;-" teaching them 'to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:'" in that rite also we undergo a mystical death unto sin, a mystical separation from the world, which St. Paul calls being "buried with Christ in or by baptism ;" and a mystical resurrection to newness of life, through Christ's resurrection from the dead. Thus in circumcision, an obligation of faith in the promises made to Abraham, and an obligation to holiness of life, and to the observance of the Divine laws, was contracted; and Moses, therefore, in a passage above quoted, argues from that peculiar visible relation of the Israelites to God, produced by outward circumcision, to the duty of circumcising the heart: "The Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, ever you above all people; circumcise THEREFORE the foreskin of your heart," Deut. x, 15.

If then we bring all these considerations under one view, we shall find it sufficiently established that baptism is the sign and seal of the covenant of grace under its perfected dispensation ;-that it is the grand initiatory act by which we enter into this covenant, in order to claim all its spiritual blessings, and to take upon ourselves all its obligations ;-. that it was appointed by Jesus Christ in a manner which plainly put it in the place of circumcision ;-that it is now the means by which men become Abraham's spiritual children, and heirs with him of the promise, which was the office of circumcision, until "the seed," the Messiah, should come ;-and that baptism is therefore expressly called by St. Paul, "the circumcision of Christ," or Christian circumcision, in a sense which can only import that baptism has now taken the place of the Abrahamic rite.

The only objection of any plausibility which has been urged by Anti-paedobaptist writers against the substitution of baptism for circumcision, is thus stated by Mr. Booth: "If baptism succeeded in the place of circumcision, how came it that both of them were in full force at the same time, that is, from the commencement of John's ministry to the death of Christ? For one thing to come in the room of another, and the latter to hold its place, is an odd kind of succession. Admitting the succession pretended, how came it that Paul circumcised Timothy, after he had been baptized?" That circumcision was practised along with baptism from John the Baptist's ministry to the death of Christ may be very readily granted, without affecting the question; for baptism could not be made the sign and seal of the perfected covenant of grace, until that covenant was both perfected, and fully explained and proposed for ac­ceptance, which did not take place until after "the blood of the ever­lasting covenant" was shed, and our Lord had opened its full import to the apostles who were to publish it "to all nations" after his resurrec­tion. Accordingly we find that baptism was formally made the rite of initiation into this covenant for the first time, when our Lord gave commission to his disciples to "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,"-" he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." John's baptism was upon profession of repentance, and faith in the speedy appearance of Him who was to baptize with the Holy Ghost, and fire; and our Lord's baptism by his disciples was administered to those Jews that believed on him, as the Messias, all of whom, like the apostles, waited for a fuller development of his character and offices. For since the new covenant was not then fully perfected, it could not be proposed in any other way than to prepare them that believed in Christ, by its partial but increasing manifestation in the discourses of our Lord, for the full declaration both of its benefits and obligations; which declaration was not made until after his resurrection. Whatever the nature and intent of that baptism which our Lord by his disciples administered, might be, (a point on which we have no information,) like that of John, it looked to something yet to come, and was not certainly that baptism in the name "of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," which was afterward insti­tuted as the standing initiatory rite into the Christian Church. As for the circumcision of Timothy, and the practice of that rite among many of the Hebrew believers, it has already been accounted for. If indeed the Baptist writers could show that the apostles sanctioned the practice of circumcision as a seal of the old covenant, either as it was Abrahamic or Mosaic, or both, then there would be some force in the argument, that one could not succeed the other, if both were continued under inspired authority. But we have the most decided testimony of the Apostle Paul against any such use of circumcision; and he makes it, when practised in that view, a total abnegation of Christ and the new covenant. It follows then, that, when circumcision was continued by any connivance of the apostles,-and certainly they did no more than connive at it,-it was practised upon some grounds which did not regard it as the seal of any covenant, from national custom, or preju­dice, a feeling to which the Apostle Paul himself yielded in the case of Timothy. He circumcised him, but not from any conviction of necessity, since he uniformly declared circumcision to have vanished away with that dispensation of the covenant of which it was the seal through the bringing in of a better hope.

We may here add, that an early father, Justin Martyr, takes the same view of the substitution of circumcision by Christian baptism:

"We, Gentiles," Justin observes, "have not received that circumcision according to the flesh, but that which is spiritual-and moreover, for indeed we were sinners, we have received this in baptism, through God's mercy, and it is enjoined on all to receive it in like manner."

II. The nature of baptism having been thus explained, we may proceed to consider its SUBJECTS.

That believers are the proper subjects of baptism, as they were of circumcision, is beyond dispute. As it would have been a monstrous perversion of circumcision to have administered it to any person, being of adult age, who did not believe in the true and living God, and in the expected "seed of Abraham," in whom all nations were to be blessed; so is faith in Christ also an indispensable condition for baptism in all persons of mature age; and no minister is at liberty to take from the candidate the visible pledge of his acceptance of the terms of God's covenant, unless he has been first taught its nature, promises, and obli­gations, and gives sufficient evidence of the reality of his faith, and the sincerity of his profession of obedience. Hence the administration of baptism was placed by our Lord only in the hands of those who were to preach the Gospel," that is, of those who were to declare God's method of saving men "through faith in Christ," and to teach them "to observe all things, whatsoever Christ had commanded them." Cir­cumcision was connected with teaching, and belief of the truth taught; and so also is Christian baptism.

The question, however, which now requires consideration is, whether the infant children of believing parents are entitled to be made parties to the covenant of grace, by the act of their parents, and the administration of baptism?

In favour of infant baptism, the following arguments may be adduced. Some of them are more direct than others; but the reader will judge whether, taken all together, they do not establish this practice of the Church, continued to us from the earliest ages, upon the strongest basis of SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY.

1. As it has been established, that baptism was put by our Lord him­self and his apostles in the room of circumcision, as an initiatory rite into the covenant of grace; and as the infant children of believers under the Old Testament were entitled to the covenant benefits of the latter ordinance, and the children of Christian believers are not ex­pressly excluded from entering into the same covenant by baptism; the absence of such an explicit exclusion is sufficient proof of their title to baptism.

For if the covenant be the same in all its spiritual blessings, and an express change was made by our Lord in the sign and seal of that covenant, but no change at all in the subjects of it, no one can have a right to carry that change farther than the Lawgiver himself, and to exclude the children of believers from entering his covenant by baptism, when they had always been entitled to enter into it by circumcision. This is a censurable interference with the authority of God; a presumptuous attempt to fashion the new dispensation in this respect so as to conform it to a mere human opinion of fitness and propriety. For to say, that, because baptism is directed to be administered to believers when adults are spoken of, it follows that children who are not capable of personal faith are excluded from baptism, is only to argue in the same manner as if it were contended, that, because circumcision, when adults were the subjects, was only to be administered to believers, therefore infants were excluded from that ordinance, which is contrary to the fact. This argument will not certainly exclude them from baptism by way of inference, and by no act of the Maker and Mediator of the covenant are they shut out.

2. If it had been intended to exclude infants from entering into the new covenant by baptism, the absence of every prohibitory expression to this effect in the New Testament, must have been misleading to all men; and especially to the Jewish believers.

Baptism was no new ordinance when our Lord instituted it, though he gave to it a particular designation. It was in his practice to adapt, in several instances, what he found already established, to the uses of his religion. "A parable, for instance, was a Jewish mode of teaching.- Who taught by parables equal to Jesus Christ? And what is the most distinguished and appropriate rite of his religion, but a service grafted on a passover custom among the Jews of his day? It was not ordained by Moses, that a part of the bread they had used in the passover should be the last thing they ate after that supper; yet this our Lord took as he found it, and converted it into a memorial of his body. The 'cup of blessing' has no authority whatever from the original institution; yet this our Lord found in use, and adopted as a memorial of his blood taken together, these elements form one commemoration of his death. Probability, arising to rational certainty, therefore, would lead us to infer, that whatever rite Jesus appointed as the ordinance of admission into the community of his followers, he would also adopt from some ser­vice already existing-from some token familiar among the people of his nation.

"In fact, we know that 'divers baptisms' existed under the law, and we have every reason to believe, that the admission of proselytes into the profession of Judaism, was really and truly marked by a washing with water in a ritual and ceremonial manner. I have always understood that Maimonides is perfectly correct when he says, 'In all ages, when a heathen (or a stranger by nation) was willing to enter into the covenant of Israel, and gather himself under the wings of the majesty of God, and take upon himself the yoke of the law-he must be first circumcised, and secondly BAPTIZED, and thirdly, bring a sacrifice; or if the party were a woman, then she must be first BAPTIZED, and secondly bring a sacrifice.' He adds, 'At this present time wizen (the temple being de­stroyed) there is no sacrificing, a stranger must be first circumcised, and secondly BAPTIZED.'

"Dr. Gill, indeed, in his Dissertation on Jewish Proselyte Baptism, has ventured the assertion, that 'there is no mention made of any rite or custom of admitting Jewish proselytes by baptism, in any writings or records before the time of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles; nor in any age after them, for the first three or four hundred years; or, however, before the writing of the Talmuds.' But the learned doctor has not condescended to understand the cvidcnce of this fact. It does not rest on the testimony of Jewish records solely; it was in circulation among the heathen, as we learn from the clear and demonstrative tes­timony of Epictetus, who has these words: (he is blaming those who assume the profession of philosophy without acting up to it:) 'Why do you call yourself a Stoic? Why do you deceive the multitude? Why do you pretend to be a Greek when you are a Jew? a Syrian? an Egyptian? And when we see any one wavering, we are wont to say,

This is not a Jew, but acts one. But when he assumes the sentiments of one who hath been baptized and circumcised, then he both really is, and is called a Jew. Thus we, falsifying our profession, are Jews in name, but in reality something else.

"This practice then of the Jews,-proselyte baptism-was so noto­rious to the heathen in Italy and in Greece, that it furnished this philosopher with an object of comparison. Now, Epictetus lived to be very old: he is placed by Dr. Lardner, A. D. 109, by Le Clerc, A. D. 104. He could not be less than sixty years of age when he wrote this; and he might obtain his information thirty or forty years earlier, which brings it up to the time of the apostles. Those who could think that the Jews could institute proselyte baptism at the very moment when the Christians were practising baptism as an initiatory rite, are not to be envied for the correctness of their judgment. T he rite certainly dates much earlier, probably many ages. I see no reason for disputing the asser­tion of Malmonides, notwithstanding Dr. Gill's rash and fallacious lan­guage on the subject." (Facts and Evidences on the Subject of Baptism.)

This baptism of proselytes, as Lightfoot has fully showed, was a bap­tism of families, and comprehended their infant children; and the rite was a symbol of their being washed from the pollution of idolatry. Very different indeed in the extent of its import and office was Chris­tian baptism to the Jewish baptisms, nevertheless, this shows that the Jews were familiar with the rite as it extended to children, in cases of conversions from idolatry; and, as far at least as the converts from paganism to Christianity were concerned, they could not but understand Christian baptism to extend to the infant children of Gentile proselytes, unless there had been, what we nowhere find in the discourses of Christ and the writings of the apostles, an express exception of them.- In like manner, their own practice of infant circumcision must have misled them; for if they were taught that baptism was the initiatory seal of the Christian covenant, and had taken the place of circumcision, which St. Paul had informed them was "a seal of the righteousness which is by faith," how should they have understood that their children were no longer to be taken into covenant with God, as under their own former religion, unless they had been told that this exclusion of children from all covenant relation to God, was one of those peculiarities of the Christian dispensation in which it differed from the religion of the patriarchs and Moses? This was surely a great change; a change which must have made great impression upon a serious and affectionate Jewish parent, who could now no longer covenant with God for his children, or place his children in a special covenant relation to the Lord of the whole earth; a change indeed so great,-a placing of the children of Christian parents in so inferior, and, so to speak, outcast a con­dition in comparison of the children of believing Jews, while the Abrahamjc covenant remained in force,-that not only, in order to pre­vent mistake, did it require an express enunciation, but in the nature of the thing it must have given rise to so many objections, or at least inquiries, that explanations of the reason of this peculiarity might naturally be expected to occur in the writings of the apostles, and espe­cially in those of St. Paul. On the contrary, the very phraseology of these inspired men, when touching the subject of the children of believ­ers only incidentally, was calculated to confirm the ancient practice, in opposition to what we are told is the true doctrine of the Gospel upon this point. For instance: how could the Jews have understood the words of Peter at the pentecost, but as calling both upon them and their children, to be baptized?-" Repent and be baptized, for the promise is unto you and to your children." For that both are included, may be proved, says a sensible writer, by considering,

"1. The resemblance between this promise, and that in Gen. xvii, 7, 'To be a God unto thee, and unto thy seed after thee.' The resem­blance between these two lies in two things: (1.) Each stands connected with an ordinance, by which persons were to be admitted into Church fellowship; the one by circumcision, the other by baptism. (2.) Both agree in phraseology; the one is, 'to thee and thy seed;' the other is, 'to you and your children.' Now, every one knows that the word seed means children; and that children means seed; and that they are precisely the same. From these two strongly resembling features, viz, their connection with a similar ordinance, and the sameness of the phraseology, I infer, that the subjects expressed in each are the very same. And as it is certain that parents and infants were intended by the one; it must be equally certain that both are intended by the other.

"2. The sense in which the speaker must have understood the sen­tence in question: 'The promise is to you, and to your children.' In order to know this, we must consider who the speaker was, and from what source he received his religious knowledge. The apostle was a Jew. He knew that he himself had been admitted in infancy, and that it was the ordinary practice of the Church to admit infants to member­ship. And he likewise knew, that in this they acted on the authority of that place, where God promises to Abraham, 'to be a God unto him, and unto his seed.' Now; if the apostle knew all this, in what sense could he understand the term children, as distinguished from their parents? I have said that tekna, children, and sperma, seed, mean the same thing. And as the apostle well knew that the term seed intended infants, though not mere infants only; and that infants were circum­cised and received into the Church as being the seed, what else could he understand by the term children, when mentioned with their parents? Those who will have the apostle to mean, by the term children 'adult posterity' only, have this infelicity attending them, that they understand the term differently from all other men; and they attribute to the apostle a sense of the word which to him must have been the most forced and infamiliar.

"3. In what sense his hearers must have understood him, when he said, 'The promise is to you, and to your children.'

"The context informs us, that many of St. Peter's hearers, as he himself was, were Jews. They had been accustomed for many hun­dred years to receive infants by circumcision into the Church; and this they did, as before observed, because God had promised to be a God to Abraham and to his seed. They had understood this promise to mean parents and their infant offspring, and this idea was become familiar by the practice of many centuries. What then must have been their views, when one of their own community says to them, 'The promise is to you and to your children?' If their practice of receiving infants was founded on a promise exactly similar, as it was, how could they possibly understand him, but as meaning the same thing, since he himself used the same mode of speech? This must have been the case, unless we admit this absurdity, that they understood him in a sense to which they had never been accustomed.

"How idle a thing it is, in a Baptist, to come with a lexicon in his hand, to inform us that tekna, children, means posterity! Certainly it does, and so includes the youngest infants.

"But the Baptists will have it, that tekna, children, in this place, means only adult posterity. And if so, 'the Jews to whom he spoke, unless they understood St. Peter in a way in which it was morally impossible they should, would infallibly have understood him wrong. Certainly, all men, when acting freely, will understand words in that way which is most familiar to them; and nothing could be more so to the Jews, than to understand such a speech as Peter's to mean adults and infants.

"We should more certainly come at the truth, if, instead of idly cri­ticising, we could fancy ourselves Jews, and in the habit of circumcising infants, and receiving them into the Church; and then could we ima­gine one of our own nation and religion to address us in the very language of Peter in this text, 'The promise is to you and to your children;' let us ask ourselves whether we could ever suppose him to mean adult posterity only!" (Edwards on Baptism.)

To this we may add that St. Paul calls the children of believers holy, separated to God, and standing therefore in a peculiar relation to him. 1 Cor. vii, 14; a mode of speech which would also have been wholly unintelligible at least to a Jew, unless by some rite of Christianity children were made sharers in its covenanted mercies.

The practice of the Jews, and the very language of the apostles, so naturally leading therefore to a misunderstanding of this sacrament, if infant baptism be not a Christian rite, and that in respect of its subjects themselves, it was the more necessary that some notice of the exclusion of infants from the Christian covenant should have been given by way of guard. And as we find no intimation of this prohibitory kind, we may confidently conclude that it was never the design of Christ to re­strict this ordinance to adults only.

3. Infant children are DECLARED BY CHRIST to be members of his Church.

That they were made members of God's Church in the family of Abraham, and among the Jews, cannot be denied. They were made so by circumcision, which was not that carnal and merely political rite which many Baptist writers in contradiction to the Scriptures make it, but was, as we have seen, the seal of a spiritual covenant, comprehending engagements to bestow the remission of sins and all its consequent blessings in this life, and, in another, the heavenly Canaan. Among these blessings was that special relation, which consisted in becoming a visible and peculiar people of God, his CHURCH. This was contained in that engagement of the covenant, "I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people;" a promise, which, however connected with temporal advantages, was, in its highest and most emphatic sense, wholly spiritual. Circumcision was therefore a religious, and not a mere political rite, because the covenant, of which it was the seal, was in its most ample sense spiritual. If therefore we had no direct authority from the words of Christ to declare the infant children of believers competent to become the members of his Church, the two circumstances,-that the Church of God, which has always been one Church in all ages, and into which the Gentiles are now introduced, formerly admitted infants to member­ship by circumcision,-and that the mode of initiation into it only has been changed, and not the subjects, (of which we have no intimation,) would themselves prove that baptism admits into the Christian Church both believing parents and their children, as circumcision admitted both. The same Church remains; for "the olive tree" is not destroyed; the natural branches only are broken off, and the Gentiles grafted in, and "partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree," that is, of all the spiritual blessings and privileges heretofore enjoyed by the Jews, in consequence of their relation to God as his Church. But among these spiritual privileges and blessings, was the right of placing their children in cove­nant with God; the membership of the Jews comprehended both children and adults; and the grafting in of the Gentiles, so as to partake of the same "root and fatness," will therefore include a right to put their chil­dren also into the covenant, so that they as well as adults may become members of Christ's Church, have God to be "their God," and be acknowledged by him, in the special sense of the terms of the covenant, to be his "people."

But we have our Lord's direct testimony to this point, and that in two remarkable passages, Luke ix, 47, 48, "And Jesus took a child and set him by him, and he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me; for be that is least among you all, the same shall be great." We grant that this is an instance of teaching by parabolic ac­tion. The intention of Christ was to impress the necessity of humility and teachableness upon his disciples, and to afford a promise, to those who should receive them in his name, of that special grace which was implied in receiving himself. But then, were there not a correspond­ence of circumstances between the child taken by Jesus in his arms, and the disciples compared to this child, there would be no force, no propriety, in the action, and the same truth might have been as forcibly stated without any action of this kind at all. Let then these correspond­ences be remarked in order to estimate the amount of their meaning. The humility and docility of the true disciple corresponded with the same dispositions in a young child; and the "receiving a disciple in the name" of Christ corresponds with the receiving of a child in the name of Christ, which can only mean the receiving of each with kindness, on account of a religious relation between each and Christ, which religious relation can only be well interpreted of a Church relation. This is far­ther confirmed by the next point of correspondence, the identity of Christ both with the disciple and the child, "Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me;" but such an identity of Christ with his disci­ple stands wholly upon their relation to him as members of his mystical "body, the Church." It is in this respect only that they are "one with him;" and there can be no identity of Christ with "little children" but by virtue of the same relation, that is, as they are members of his mystical body, the Church; of which membership, baptism is now, as circumcision was then, the initiatory rite. That was the relation in which the very child he then took up in his arms stood to him by virtue of its circumcision; it was a member of his Old Testament Church; but, as he is speaking of the disciples as the future teachers of his perfected covenant, and their reception in his name under that character, he manifestly glances at the Church relationship of children to him to be established by the baptism to be instituted in his perfect dispensation.

This is, however, expressed still more explicitly in Mark x, 14, "But when Jesus saw it he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God :-and be took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." Here the children spoken of are "little children," of so tender an age, that our Lord "took them up in his arms." The purpose for which they were brought was not, as some of the Baptist writers would suggest, that Christ should heal them of diseases; for though St. Mark says, "They brought young children to Christ that he might touch them," this is explained by St. Matthew, who says, "that he should put his hands upon them, and pray ;" and even in the statement of St. Mark x, 16, it is not said that our Lord healed them, but "put his hands upon them, and blessed them ;" which clearly enough shows that this was the purpose for which they were brought by their parents to Christ. Nor is there any evidence that it was the practice among the Jews, for common unofficial persons to put their hands upon the heads of those for whom they prayed. The parents here appear to have been among those who believed Christ to be a prophet, "that Pro­phet," or the Messias; and on that account earnestly desired his prayers for their children, and his official blessing upon them. That official blessing,-the blessing which he was authorized and empowered to be­stow by virtue of his Messiahship,-he was so ready, we might say so anxious, to bestow upon them, that he was "much displeased" with his disciples who "rebuked them that brought them," and gave a command which was to be in force in all future time,-" Suffer the little children to come unto me," in order to receive my official blessing; "for of such is the kingdom of God." The first evasive criticism of the Baptist writers is, that the phrase "of such," means of such like, that is, of adults being of a child-like disposition; a criticism which takes away all meaning from the words of our Lord. For what kind of reason was it to offer for permitting children to come to Christ to receive his bless­ing, that persons not children, but who were of a child-like disposition, were the subjects of the kingdom of God? The absurdity of this is its own refutation, since the reason for children being permitted to come, must be found in themselves, and not in others. The second attempt to evade the argument from this passage is, to understand "the kingdom of God," or "the kingdom of heaven," as St. Matthew has it, exclu­sively of the heavenly state. We gladly admit, in opposition to the Calvinistic Baptists, that all children, dying before actual sin committed, are admitted into heaven through the merits of Christ; but for this very reason it follows that infants are proper subjects to be introduced into his Church on earth. The phrases, "the kingdom of God," and "the kingdom of heaven," are, however, more frequently used by our Lord to denote the Church in this present world, than in its state of glory; and since all the children brought to Christ to receive his blessing were not likely to die in their infancy, it could not be affirmed, that "of such is the kingdom of heaven," if that be understood to mean the state of future happiness exclusively. As children, they might all be members of the Church on earth; but not all as children, members of the Church in heaven, seeing they might live to become adult, and be cast away. Thus, therefore, if children are expressly declared to be members of Christ's Church, then are they proper subjects of baptism, which is the initiatory rite into every portion of that Church which is visible.

But let this case be more particularly considered.

Take it that by "the kingdom of God," or "of heaven," our Lord means the glorified state of his Church; it must be granted that none can enter into heaven who are not redeemed by Christ, and who do not stand in a vital relation to him as members of his mystical body, or otherwise we should place human and fallen beings in that heavenly state who are unconnected with Christ as their Redeemer, and uncleansed by him as the sanctifier of his redeemed. Now, this relation must exist on earth, before it can exist in heaven; or else we assign the work of sanctifying the fallen nature of man to a future state, which is contrary to the Scriptures. If infants, therefore, are thus redeemed and sanctified in their nature, and are before death made "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light;" so that in this world they are placed in the same relation to Christ as an adult believer, who derives sanctify­ing influence from him, they are therefore the members of his Church, -they partake the grace of the covenant, and are comprehended in that promise of the covenant, "I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." In other words, they are made members of Christ's Church, and are entitled to be recognized as such by the administration of the visible sign of initiation into some visible branch of it. If it be asked, "Of what import then is baptism to children, if as infants they already stand in a favourable relation to Christ?" the answer is, that it is of the same import as circumcision was to Abraham, which was "a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircum­cised:" it confirmed all the promises of the covenant of grace to him, and made the Church of God visible to men. It is of the same import as baptism to the eunuch, who had faith already, and a willingness to submit to the rite before it was administered to him. He stood at that moment in the condition, not of a candidate for introduction into the Church, but of an accepted candidate; he was virtually a member, although not formally so, and his baptism was not merely a sign of his faith, but a confirming sign of God's covenant relation to him as a par­doned and accepted man, and gave him a security for the continuance and increase of the grace of the covenant, as he was prepared to receive it. In like manner, in the case of all truly believing adults applying for baptism, their relation to Christ is not that of mere candidates for membership with his Church, but that of accepted candidates, standing already in a vital relation to him, but about to receive the seal which was to confirm that grace, and its increase in the ordinance itself, and in future time. Thus this previous relation of infants to Christ, as ac­cepted by him, is an argument for their baptism, not against it, seeing it is by that they are visibly recognized as the formal members of his Church, and have the full grace of the covenant confirmed and sealed to them, with increase of grace as they are fitted to receive it, beside the advantage of visible connection with the Church, and of that obligation which is taken upon themselves by their parents to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

In both views then, "of such is the kingdom of God,"-members of his Church on earth, and of his Church in heaven, if they die in infancy, for the one is necessarily involved in the other. No one can be of the kingdom of God in heaven, who does not stand in a vital sanctifying re­lation to Christ as the head of his mystical body, the Church, on earth; and no one can be of the kingdom of God on earth, a member of his true Church, and die in that relation, without entering that state of glory to which his adoption on earth makes him an heir, through Christ.

4. The argument from apostolic practice next offers itself. That practice was to baptize the houses of them that believed.

The impugners of infant baptism are pleased to argue much from the absence of all express mention of the baptism of infants in the New Testament. This however is easily accounted for, when it is consider­ed that if, as we have proved, baptism took the place of circumcision, the baptism of infants was so much a matter of course, as to call for no remark. The argument from silence on this subject is one which least of all the Baptists ought to dwell upon, since, as we have seen, if it had been intended to exclude children from the privilege of being placed in covenant with God, which privilege they unquestionably enjoyed under the Old Testament, this extraordinary alteration, which could not but produce remark, required to be particularly noted, both to account for it to the mind of an affectionate Jewish parent, and to guard against that mistake into which we shall just now show Christians from the earliest times fell, since they administered baptism to infants. It may farther be observed, that, as to the Acts of the Apostles, the events nar­rated there did not require the express mention of the baptism of infants, as an act separate from the baptism of adults. That which called for the administration of baptism at that period, as now, when the Gospel is preached in a heathen land, was the believing of adult persons, not the case of persons already believing, bringing their children for bap­tism. On the supposition that baptism was administered to the children of the parents who thus believed, at the same time as themselves, and in consequence of their believing, it may be asked bow the fact could be more naturally expressed, when it was not intended to speak of in­fant baptism doctrinally or distinctly, than that such a one was baptized, and all his house;" just as a similar fact would be distinctly recorded b a modern missionary writing to a Church at home practising infant baptism, and having no controversy on the subject in his eye, by saying that he baptized such a heathen, at such a place, with all his family.

For, without going into any criticism on the Greek term rendered house, it cannot be denied that, like the old English word employed in our translation, and also like the word family, it must be understood to comprehend either the children only, to the exclusion of the domestics, or both.

If we take the instances of the baptism of whole "houses," as record. ed in the Acts of the Apostles, they must be understood as marking the common mode of proceeding among the first preachers of the Gospel when the head or heads of a family believed, or as insulated and peculiar instances. If the former, which, from what may be called the matter-of-course manner in which the cases are mentioned, is most probable, then innumerable instances must have occurred of the baptizing of houses or families, just as many in fact as there were of the conversion of heads of families in the apostolic age. That the majority of these houses must have included infant children is therefore certain, and it follows that the apostles practised infant baptism.

But let the cases of the baptism of houses mentioned in the New Testament be put in the most favourable light for the purpose of the Baptists; that is, let them be considered as insulated and peculiar, and not instances of apostolic procedure in all cases where the heads of families were converted to the faith, still the Baptist is obliged to assume that neither in the house of the Philippian jailer, nor in that of Lydia, nor in that of Stephanas, were there any infants at all, since, if there were, they were comprehended in the whole houses which were baptized upon the believing of their respective heads. This at least is improbable, and no intimation of this peculiarity is given in the history.

The Baptist writers, however, think that they can prove that all the persons included in these houses were adults; and that the means of showing this from the Scriptures is an instance of "the care of Providence watching over the sacred cause of adult baptism;" thus absurdly assuming that even if this point could be made out, the whole controversy is terminated, when, in fact, this is but an auxiliary argument of very inferior importance to those above mentioned. But let us examine their supposed proofs. "With respect to the jailer," they tell us that "we are expressly assured, that the apostles spoke the word of the Lord to all that were in his house;" which we grant must principally, although not, of necessity exclusively, refer to those who were of sufficient age to understand their discourse. And "that he rejoiced, believing in God with all his house;" from which the inference is, that none but adult hearers, and adult believers, were in this case baptized. If so, then there could be no infant children in the house; which, as the jailer appears from his activity to have been a man in the vigour of life, and not aged, is at least far from being certain. But if it be a proof in this case that there were no infant children in the jailer's family, that it is said, be believed and all his house; this is not the only believing family mentioned in Scripture from which infants must be excluded. For, to say nothing of the houses of Lydia and Stephanas, the nobleman at Capernaum is said to have believed "and all his house," John iv, 53; so that we are to conclude that there were no infant children in this house also, although his sick son is not said to be his only offspring, and that son is called by him a child, time diminutive term paidion being used. Again, Cornelius is said, Acts x, 2, to be "one that feared God, and all his house." Infant children therefore must be excluded from his family also; and also from that of Crispus, who is said to have "believed on the Lord with all his house;" which house appears, from what immediately follows, to have been baptized. These instances make it much more probable that the phrases " fearing God with all his house," and '-believing with all his house," include young children under the believing adults, whose religious profession they would follow, and whose sentimanents they would imbibe, so that they might be called a Christian family, and that so many houses or families should have been constituted only of adult persons, to the entire exclusion of children of tender years. In the case of the jailer's house, however, the Baptist argument manifestly halts; for it is not said, that they only to whom the word of the Lord was spoken were baptized; nor that they only who "believed" and "rejoiced" with the jailer were baptized. The account of the baptism is given in a separate verse, and in different phrase: "And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized, he and all his," mill belonging to him, "straightway;" where there is no limitation of tine persons who were baptized to the adults only by any terms which designate them as persons "hearing" or "believing."

The next instance is that of Lydia. The words of the writer of the Acts are "Who when she was baptized, and her house." The great difficulty with the Baptists is, to make a house for Lydia without any children at all, young or old. This, however, cannot be proved from the term itself, since the same word is that commonly used in the Scripture to include children residing at home with their parents: "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity." It is however conjectured first, that sine had come a trading voyage, from Thyatira to Philippi, to sell purple; as if a woman of Thyatira might not be settled in business it Philippi as a seller of this article. Then, as if to mark more strikingly the hopelessness of the attempt to torture this passage to favour an opinion, "her house" is made to consist of journeymen dyers, "employed in preparing the purple she sold;" which, however, is a notion at variance with the former; for if she was on a mere trading voyage, if she had brought her purple goods from Thyatira to Philippi to sell, she most probably brought them ready dyed, and would have no need of a dying establishment. To complete the whole, these journeymen dyers, although not a word is said of their conversion, nor even of their existence, in the whole story, are raised into "the brethren," (a term which manifestly denotes the members of the Philippian Church,) whom Paul and Silas are said to have seen and comforted in the house of Lydia, before they departed!

All, however, that the history states is, that "the Lord opened Lydia's heart, that she attended unto thee things which were spoken of Paul," and that she was therefore "baptized and her house." From this house no one has the least authority to exclude children, even young children, since there is nothing in the history to warrant the above-mentioned conjectures, and the word is in Scripture used expressly to include them. All is perfectly gratuitous on the part of the Baptists; but, while there is nothing to sanction the manner in which they deal with this text, there is a circumstance strongly confirmatory of the probability that the house of Lydia, according to the natural import of the word rendered house or family, contained children, and that in an infan­tile state. This is, that in all the other instances in which adults are mentioned as having been baptized along with the head of a family, they are mentioned as "hearing," and "believing," or in some terms which amount to this. Cornelius had called together "his kinsmen and near friends;" and while Peter spake, "the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word," "and he commanded them to be baptized." So the adults in the house of the jailer at Philippi were persons to whom "the word of the Lord" was spoken; and although nothing is said of the faith of any but the jailer himself,-for the words are more properly rendered, "and he, believing in God, rejoiced with all his house,"-yet is the joy which appears to have been felt by the adult part of his house, as well as by himself, to be attributed to their faith. Now, as it does not appear that the apostles, although they baptized infant children, baptized unbelieving adult servants because their masters or mistresses believed, and yet the house of Lydia were baptized along with herself, when no mention at all is made of the Lord "opening the heart" of these adult domestics, nor of their believing, the fair inference is, that "the house" of Lydia means her children only, and that being of imma­ture years they were baptized with their mother according to the com­mon custom of the Jews, to baptize the children of proselyted Gentiles along with their parents, from which practice Christian baptism appears to have been taken.

The third instance is that of "the house of Stephanas," mentioned by St. Paul, 1 Cor. i, 16, as having been baptized by himself. This family also, it is argued, must have been all adults, because they are said in the same epistle, chap. xvi, 15, to have "addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints," and farther, because they were persons who took "a lead" in the affairs of the Church, the Corinthians being exhorted to "submit themselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us and laboureth." To understand this passage rightly, it is how ever necessary to observe, that Stephanas, the head of this family, had been sent by the Church of Corinth to St. Paul at Ephesus, along with Fortunatus and Achaicus. In the absence of the head of the family, the apostle commends "the house," the family of Stephanas to the regard of the Corinthian believers, and perhaps also the houses of the two other brethren who had come with him; for in several MSS. marked by Griesbach, and in some of the versions, the text reads, "Ye know the house of Stephanas and Fortunatus," and one reads also, "and of Achaicus." By the house or family of Stephanas, the apostle must mean his children, or, along with them, his near relations dwelling together in the same family; for, since they are commended for their hospitality to the saints, servants, who have no power to show hospi­tality, are of course excluded. But, in the absence of the head of the family, it is very improbable that time apostle should exhort time Corin­thian Church to "submit," ecclesiastically, to the wife, sons, daughters, and near relations of Stephanas, and, if the reading of Griesbach's MSS. be followed, to the family of Fortunatus, and that of Achaicus also. In respect of government, therefore, they cannot be supposed "to have had a lead in the Church," according to the Baptist notion, and especially as the heads of these families were absent. They were however the oldest Christian families in Corinth, the house of Stephanas at least being called "the first fruits of Achaia," and eminently distinguished for " addicting themselves," setting themselves on system, to the work of ministering to the saints, that is, of communicating to the poor saints; entertaining stranger Christians, which was an important branch of practical duty in the primitive Church, that in every place those who professed Christ might be kept out of the society of idolaters; and receiving the ministers of Christ. On these accounts the apostle com­mends them to the especial regard of the Corinthian Church, and ex­horts "ina kai umei~ upotasshsqe toi~ toistoi~, that you range yourselves under and co-operate with them, and with every one," also, "who helpeth with us, and laboureth;" the military metaphor contained in etaxan in the preceding verse being here carried, forward. These families were the oldest Christians in Corinth; and as they were foremost in every good word and work, they were not only to be commended, but the rest were to be exhorted to serve under them as leaders in these works of charity. This appears to be the obvious sense of this other­wise obscure passage. But in this, or indeed in any other sense which can be given to it, it proves no more than that there were adult persons in the family of Stephanas, his wife, and sons, and daughters, who were distinguished for their charity and hospitality. Still it is to be remembered, that the baptism of the oldest of the children took place several years before. The house of Stephanas "was the first fruits of Achaia," in which St. Paul began to preach not later than A. D. 51, while this epistle could not be written earlier at least than A. D. 57, and might be later. Six or eight years, taken from the age of the sons and daughters of Stephanas, might bring the oldest to the state of early youth, and as to the younger branches, would descend to the term of infancy, properly so called. Still farther, all that the apostle affirms of the benevolence and hospitality of the family of Stephanas is perfectly consistent with a part of his children being still very young when he wrote the epistle. An equal commendation for hospitality and charity might be given in the present day, with perfect propriety, to many pious families, several members of which are still in a state of infancy. It was sufficient to warrant the use of such expressions as those of the apostle, that there were in these Corinthian families a few adults, whose conduct gave a decided character to the whole "house." Thus the arguments used to prove that in these three instances of family baptism, there were no young children, are evidently very unsatisfactory; and they leave us to the conclusion, which perhaps all would come to in reading the sacred history, were they quite free from the bias of a theory, that "houses," or "families," as in the commonly received import of the term, must be understood to comprise children of all ages, unless some explicit note of the contrary appears, which is not the case in any of the instances in question.

5. The last argument may be drawn from the antiquity of the prac­tice of infant baptism.

If the baptism of the infant children of believers was not practised by the apostles and by the primitive Churches, when and where did the practice commence? To this question the Baptist writers can give no answer. it is an innovation, according to them, not upon the circum­stances of a sacrament, but upon its essential principle; and yet its introduction produced no struggle; was never noticed by any general or provincial council; and excited no controversy! This itself is strong presumptive proof of its early antiquity. On the other hand, we can point out the only ancient writer who opposed infant baptism. This was Tertullian, who lived late in the second century; but his very opposition to the practice proves, that that practice was more ancient than himself; and the principles on which he impugns it, farther show that it was so. He regarded this sacrament superstitiously; he appended to it the trine immersion in the name of each of the persons of the trinity; he gives it gravely as a reason why infants should not be baptized, that Christ says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," therefore they must stay till they are able to come, that is, till they are grown up; "and he would prohibit the unmarried, and all in a widowed state, from baptism, because of tine temptations to which they may be liable." The whole of this is solved by adverting to that notion of the efficacy of this sacrament in taking away all previous sins, which then began to prevail, so that an inducement was held out for delaying baptism as long as possible, till at length, in many cases, it was post­poned to the article of death, under the belief that the dying who received this sacrament were the more secure of salvation. Tertullian accordingly, with all his zeal, allowed that infants ought to be baptized if their lives be in danger, and thus evidently shows that his opposition to the baptism of infants in ordinary, rested upon a very different prin­ciple from that of the modern Antipaedobaptists. Amidst all his argu­ments against this practice, Tertullian, however, never ventures upon one which would have been most to his purpose, and which might most forcibly have been urged had not baptism been administered to infants by the apostles and their immediate successors. That argument would have been time novelty of the practice, which he never asserts, and which, as he lived so early, he might have proved, had he had any ground for it. On the contrary, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, in the second century, and Origen in the beginning of the third, expressly mention infant baptism as the practice of their times, and, by the latter, this is assigned to apostolic injunction. Fidus, an African bishop, applied to Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, to know, not whether infants were to be baptized, but whether their baptism might take place before the eighths day after their birth, that being the day on which circum­cision was performed by the law of Moses. This question was con­sidered in an African synod, held A. D. 254, at which sixty-six bishops were present, and "it was unanimously decreed, 'that it was not neces­sary to defer baptism to that day; and that the grace of God, or baptism, should be given to all, and especially to infants." This deci­sion was communicated in a letter, from Cyprian to Fidus. (Cyp. Ep. 59.) We trace the practice also downward. In the fourth century, Ambrose says, that "infants who are baptized, are reformed from wick­edness to the primitive state of their nature;" (Comment. in Lucam, c. 10;) and at the end of that century, the famous controversy took place between Augustine and Pelagius concerning original sin, in which the uniform practice of baptizing infants from the days of the apostles was admitted by both parties, although they assigned different reasons for it. So little indeed were Tertullian's absurdities regarded, that he appears to have been quite forgotten by this time; for Augustine says he never heard of any Christian, catholic or sectary, who taught any other doctrine than that infants are to be baptized. (De Pecc. Mor. cap. 6.) Infant baptism is not mentioned in the canons of any council; nor is it insisted upon as an object of faith in any creed; and thence we infer that it was a point not controverted at any period of the ancient Church, and we know that it was the practice in all established Churches. Wall says, that Peter Bruis, a Frenchman, who lived about time year 1030, whose followers were called Petrobrussians, was the first Antiptedobaptist teacher who had a regular congregation. (Hist. part. 2, c. 7.) The Anabaptists of Germany took their rise in the begin­ning of the fifteenth century; but it does not appear that there was any congregation of Anabaptists in England, till the year 1640. (Bishop Tomline's Elements.) That a practice which can be traced up to the very first periods of the Church, and has been, till within very modern times, its uncontradicted practice, should have a lower authority than apostolic usage and appointment, may be pronounced impossible. It is not like one of those trilling, though somewhat superstitious, additions, which even in very early times began to be made to the sacraments; on the contrary, it involves a principle so important as to alter the very nature of the sacrament itself. For if personal faith be an essential requisite of baptism in all cases; if baptism be a visible declaration of this, and is vicious without it; then infant baptism was an innovation of so serious a nature, that it must have attracted attention, and pro­voked controversy, which would have led, if not to the suppression of the error, yet to a diversity of practice in the ancient Churches, which in point of fact did not exist, Tertullian himself allowing infant baptism in extreme cases.

The BENEFITS of this sacrament require to be briefly exhibited. Baptism introduces the adult believer into the covenant of grace, and the Church of Christ; and is the seal, the pledge, to him on the part of God, of the fulfilment of all its provisions, in time and in eternity; while, on his part, he takes upon himself the obligations of steadfast faith and obedience.

To the infant child, it is a visible reception into the same covenant and Church,-a pledge of acceptance through Christ,-the bestowment of a title to all the grace of the covenant as circumstances may require, and as the mind of the child may be capable, or made capable, of receiv­ing it; and as it may be sought in future life by prayer, when the period of reason and moral choice shall arrive. It conveys also the present "blessing" of Christ, of which we are assured by his taking children in his arms, and blessing them; which blessing cannot be merely nominal, hut must be substantial and efficacious. It secures, too, the gift of the Holy Spirit, in those secret spiritual influences, by which the actual regeneration of those children who die in infancy is effected; and which are a seed of life in those who are spared, to prepare them for instruction in the word of God, as they are taught it by parental care, to incline their will and affections to good, and to begin and maintain in them the war against inward and outward evil, so that they may be Divinely assisted, as reason strengthens, to make their calling and election sure.

In a word, it is, both as to infants and to adults, the sign and pledge of that inward grace, which, although modified in its operations by the difference of their circumstances, has respect to, and flows from, a covenant relation to each of the three persons in whose one name they are baptized,-acceptance by the FATHER,-union with CHRIST as the head of his mystical body, the Church,-and "the communion of the HOLY GHOST." To these advantages must be added the respect which God bears to the believing act of the parents, and to their solemn prayers on the occasion, in both which the child is interested; as well as in that solemn engagement of the parents, which the right necessarily implies, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of time Lord.

To the parents it is a benefit also. It assures them that God will not only be their God; but "the God of their seed after them;" it thus gives them, as the Israelites of old, the right to covenant with God for their "little ones," and it is a consoling pledge that their dying, infant off­spring shall be saved; since he who says, "Suffer little children to come unto me," has added, "for of such is the kingdom of heaven." They are reminded by it also of the necessity of acquainting themselves with God's covenant, that they may diligently teach it to their children; and that as they have covenanted with God for their children, they are bound thereby to enforce the covenant conditions upon them as they come to years, example, as well as by education; by prayer, as well as by profession of the name of Christ.

III. The MODE of baptism remains to be considered.

Although the manner in which the element of water is applied in baptism is but a circumstance of this sacrament, it will not be a matter of surprise to those who reflect upon the proneness of men to attach undue importance to comparative trifles, that it has produced so much contro­versy. The question as to the proper subjects of baptism is one which is to be respected for its importance; that as to the mode has occupied more time, and excited greater feeling, than it is in any view entitled to. It cannot, however, be passed over, because the advocates for immersion are often very troublesome to their fellow Christians, unsettle weak minds, and sometimes, perhaps, from their zeal for a form, endanger their own spirituality. Against the doctrine that the only legitimate mode of baptizing is by immersion, we may first observe that there are several strong presumptions.

1. It is not probable, that if immersion were the only allowable mode of baptism, it should not have been expressly enjoined.

2. It is not probable, that in a religion designed to be universal, a mode of administering this ordinance should be obligatory, the practice of which is ill adapted to so many climates, where it would either be exceedingly harsh to immerse the candidates, male and female, strong and feeble, in water; or, in some places, as in the higher latitudes, for a greater part of the year, impossible. Even if immersion were in fact the original mode of baptizing in the name of Christ, these reasons make it improbable that no accommodation of the form should take place, without vitiating the ordinance. This some of the stricter Baptists assert, although they themselves depart from the primitive anode of partaking, of the Lord's Supper, in accommodation to the customs of their country.

3. It is still more unlikely, that in a religion of mercy there should be no consideration of health and life in the administration of an ordi­nance of salvation, since it is certain that in countries where cold bath­ing is little practised, great risk of both is often incurred, especially in the case of women and delicate persons of either sex, and fatal effects do sometimes occur.

4. It is also exceedingly improbable, that in such circumstances of climate, and the unfrequent use of the bath, a mode of baptizing should have been appointed, which, from the shivering, the sobbing, and other bodily uneasiness produced, should distract the thoughts, and unfit the mind for a collected performance of a religious and solemn act of devotion.

5. It is highly improbable that the three thousand converts at the pentecost, who, let it lie observed, were baptized on the same day, were all baptized by immersion; or that the jailer and "all his" were baptized in the same manner in the night, although the Baptists have invented "a tank or bath in the prison at Philippi" for that purpose.

Finally, it is most of all improbable, that a religion like the Christian, so scrupulously delicate, should have enjoined the immersion of women by men, and in the presence of men. In an after age, when immersion came into fashion, baptisteries, and rooms for women, and changes of garments, and other auxiliaries to this practice came into use, because they were found necessary to decency; but there could be no such con­veniences in the first instance; and accordingly we read of none. With all the arrangements of modern times, baptism by immersion is not a decent practice; there is not a female, perhaps, who submits to it, who has not a great previous struggle with her delicacy; but that, at a time when no such accommodations could be had as have since been found necessary, such a ceremony should have been constantly performing wherever the apostles and first preachers went, and that at pools and rivers in the presence of many spectators, and they sometimes unbelievers and scoffers, is a thing not rationally credible.

We grant that the practice of immersion is ancient, and so are many other superstitious appendages to baptism, which were adopted under the notion of making the rite more emblematical and impressive. We not only trace immersion to the second century, but immersion three times, anointing with oil, signing with the sign of the cross, imposition of hands, exorcism, eating milk and honey, putting on of white garments, all connected with baptism, and first mentioned by Tertullian; the inven­tion of men like himself, who with much genius and eloquence had little judgment, and were superstitious to a degree worthy of the darkest ages which followed. It was this authority for immersion which led Wall, and other writers on the side of infant baptism, to surrender the point to time Antipaedobaptists, and to conclude that immersion was the apostolic practice. Several national Churches, too, like our own, swayed by the same authority, are favourable to immersion, al though they do not think it binding, and generally practise effusion or sprinkling.

Neither Tertullian nor Cyprian was, however, so strenuous for immersion as to deny the validity of baptism by aspersion or effusion. In cases of sickness or weakness they only sprinkled water upon the face, which we suppose no modern Baptist would allow. Clinic baptism too, or the baptism of the sick in bed, by aspersion, is allowed by Cyprian to he valid; so that "if the persons recover they need not be baptized by immersion." (Epist. 69.) Gennadius of Marseilles, in the fifth century, says that baptism was administered in the Gallic Church, in his time, indifferently by immersion or by sprinkling. In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas says, "that baptism may be given, not only by im­mersion, but also by effusion of water or sprinkling with it." And Erasmnus affirms, (Epist. 76,) that in his time it was the custom to sprinkle infants in Holland, and to dip them in England. Of these two modes. one only was primitive and apostolic. Which that was we shall just now consider. At present it is only necessary to observe, that immersion is not the only mode which can plead antiquity in its favour; and that, as the superstition of antiquity appears to have gone most in favour of baptism by immersion, this is a circumstance which affords a strong presumption, that it was one of those additions to the ancient rite which superstition originated. This may be made out almost to a immoral certainty, without referring at all to the argument from Scripture. The ancient Christians," the "primitive Christians," as they are called by time advocates of immersion, that is, Christians of about the age of Tertullian and Cyprian, and a little downward,-whose practice of immersion is used as an argument to prove that mode only to have had apostolic sanction,-baptized the candidates NAKED. Thus Wall in his History of Baptism: "The ancient Christians, when they were baptized by immer­sion, were all baptized naked, whether they were men, women, or children. They thought it better represented the putting off of the old man, and also the nakedness of Christ on the cross; moreover, as baptism is a washing, they judged it should be the washing of the body, not of the clothes." This is an instance of the manner in which they affected to improve thus emblematical character of the ordinance. Robinson also, in his History of Baptism, states the same thing: "Let it be observed that the primitive Christians baptized naked. There is no ancient historical fact better authenticated than this." "They, however," says Wall, "took great care for preserving the modesty of any woman who was to be baptized. None but women came near till her body was in the water; then the priest came, and putting her head also under the water, he departed and left her to the women." Now, if antiquity be pleaded as a proof that immersion was the really primitive mode of baptizing, it must be pleaded in favour of the gross and offensive circumstance of baptizing naked, which was considered of as much importance as the other; and then we may safely leave it for any one to say whether he really believes that the three thousand persons mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles were baptized naked? and whether when St. Paul baptized Lydia, she was put into the water naked by her women, and that the apostle then hastened "to put her head under water also, using the form of baptism, and retired, leaving her to the women" to take her away to dress? Immersion, with all its appendages, dipping three times, nakedness, unction, the eating of milk and honey, exorcism, &c, bears manifest marks of that disposition to improve upon God's ordinances, for which even the close of the second century was remarkable, and which laid the foundation of that general corruption which so speedily followed.

But we proceed to the New Testament itself, and deny that a single clear case of baptism by immersion can be produced from it.

The word itself, as it has been often shown, proves nothing. The verb, with its derivatives, signifies to dip the hand into a dish, Matt. xxvi, 23: to stain a vesture with blood, Rev. xix, 13; to wet the body with dew, Dan. iv. 33; to paint or smear the face with colours; to stain the hand by pressing a substance; to be overwhelmed in the waters as a sunken ship; to be drowned by falling into water; to sink, in the neuter sense; to immerse totally; to plunge up to the neck; to be immersed up to the middle; to be drunken with wine; to be dyed, tinged, and imbued; to wash by effusion of water; to pour water upon the hands, or any other part of the body; to sprinkle. A word then of such large application affords a good proof for sprinkling, or partial dipping, or washing with water, as for immersion in it. The controversy on this accommodating word has been carried on to weariness; and if even the advocates of immersion could prove, what they have not been able to do, that plunging is the primary meaning of the term, they would gain nothing, since, in Scripture, it is notoriously used to express other applications of water. The Jews had "divers baptisms" in their service; but these washings of the body in or with water, were not immersions, and in some instances they were mere sprinklings. The Pharisees "baptized before they ate," but this baptism was "the washing of hands," which in eastern countries is done by servants pouring water over them, and not by dipping :-" Here is Eli­sha, the son of Shaphat, who poured water on the hands of Elijah," 2 Kings iii, 11; that is, who acted as his servant. In the Same manner the feet were washed: "Thou gayest me no water upon, epi, my feet," Luke vii, 44. Again, the Pharisees are said to have held the "washing" or baptism "of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables;" not certainly for the sake of cleanliness, (for all people hold the washing or baptism of such utensils for this purpose,) but from superstitious notions of purification. Now, as "sprinkling" is prescribed in the law of Moses, and was familiar to the Jews, as the mode of purification from uncleanness, as in the case of the sprinkling of the water of separation, Num. xix, 19, it is for this reason much more probable that the baptism of these vessels was effected by sprinkling, than by either pouring or immersion. But that they were not immersed, at least not the whole of them, may be easily made to appear; and if " baptism' as to any of these utensils does not signify immersion, the argument from the use of the word must be abandoned. Suppose, then, the pots, cups, and brazen vessels, to have been baptized by immersion; the "beds" or couches used to recline upon at their meals, which they ate in an accumbent posture, couches which were constructed for three or five persons each to lie down upon, must certainly have been exempted from the operation of a" baptism" by dipping, which was probably practised, like the "baptism" of their hands, before every meal. The word is also used by the LXX, in Dan. iv, 83, where Nebuchadnezzar is said to have been wet with the dew of heaven, which was plainly effected, not by his immersion in dew, but by its descent upon him. Finally, it occurs in 1 Cor. x, 2, "And were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;" where also im­mersion is out of the case. The Israelites were not immersed in the sea, for they went through it, "as on dry land;" and they were not immersed in the cloud, which was above them. In this case, if the spray of the sea is referred to, or the descent of rain from the cloud, they were baptized by sprinkling, or at most by pouring; and that there is an allusion to the latter circumstance, is made almost certain by a passage in the song of Deborah, and other expressions in the Psalms, which speak of " rain," and the "pouring out of water," and "droppings" from the "cloud" which directed the march of the Jews in the wilderness. Whatever, therefore, the primary meaning of the verb "to baptize" may be, is a question of no importance on one side or the other. Leaving the mode of administering baptism, as a religious rite, out of the question, it is used, generally, at least in the New Testament, not to express immersion in water, but for the act of pouring or sprinkling it; and that baptism, when spoken of as a religious rite, is to be understood as administered by immersion, no satisfactory instance can be adduced.

The baptism of John is the first instance usually adduced in proof of this practice :-The multitudes who went out to him were "baptized of him IN Jordan ;" they were therefore immersed.

To say nothing here of the laborious, and apparently impossible task imposed upon John, of plunging the multitudes, who flocked to him day by day, into the river; and the indecency of the whole proceeding when women were also concerned; it is plain that the principal object of the evangelist, in making this statement, was to point out the place where John exercised his ministry and baptized, and not to describe the mode; if the latter is at all referred to, it must be acknowledged that this was incidental to the other design. Now it so happens that we have a pas­sage which relates to John's baptism, and which can only be fairly interpreted by referring to HIS MODE or BAPTIZING, as the FIRST considera­tion; a passage too, which John himself uttered at the very the he was baptizing "in Jordan." "I indeed baptize you with water unto repent­ance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." Our translators, in this pas­sage, aware of the absurdity of translating the preposition en, in, have properly rendered it with; but the advocates of immersion do not stumble at trifles, and boldly rush into the absurdity of Campbell's translation, "I indeed baptize you in water, he will baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire." Unfortunately for this translation, we have not only the utter senselessness of the phrases baptized, plunged in the Holy Ghost, and plunged in fire to set against it; but also the very history of the completion of this prophetic declaration, and that not only as to the fact that Christ did indeed baptize his disciples with the Holy Ghost and with fire, but also as to the mode in which this baptism was effected: "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it SAT UPON each of them. And they were all filled with THE HOLY GHOST." Thus the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire was a descent UPON, and not an immersion INTO. With this too agree all the accounts of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: they are all from above, like the pouring out or shedding of water upon the head; nor is there any expression in Scripture which bears the most remote resemblance to immersing, plunging in the Holy Ghost. When our Lord received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, "the Spirit of God DESCENDED like a dove, and LIGHTED upon him." When Cornelius and his family received the same gift, "the Holy Ghost FELL On all them which heard the word;" "and they of the circumcision that believed were astonished, because that on tb3 Gentiles also was POURED OUT the gift of the Holy Ghost," which, as the words imply, had been in like manner "poured out on them." The common phrase, to "receive" the Holy Ghost, is also inconsistent with the idea of being immersed, plunged into the Holy Ghost; and finally, when St. Paul connects the baptism with water, and the baptism with the Holy Ghost together, as in the words of John the Baptist just quoted, he expresses the mode of the baptism of the Spirit in the same manner:

"According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which HE SHED ON us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour," Titus iii, 5,6. That the mode therefore in which John baptized was by pouring water upon his disciples, may be concluded from his using the same word to express the pouring out, time descent, of the Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus. For if bap­tism necessarily means immersion, and John baptized by immersion, then did not Jesus baptize his disciples with the Holy Ghost. He might bestow it upon them, but he did not baptize them with it, according to the Immersionists, since he only "poured it upon them," "shed it upon them," caused it "to fall upon them;" none of which, according to them, is baptism. It follows, therefore, that the prediction of John was never fulfilled, because, in their sense of baptizing, none of the disciples of JESUS mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles ever received the Holy Ghost but by effusion. This is the dilemma into which they put them selves. They must allow that baptism is not in this passage used for immersion; or they must deny that Jesus ever did baptize with the Holy Ghost.

To baptize "in Jordan," does not then signify to plunge in the river of Jordan. John made the neighbourhood of Jordan the principal place of his ministry. Either at the fountains of some favoured district, or at some river, baptize he must because of the multitudes who came to his baptism, in a country deficient in springs, and of water in general; but there are several was of understanding the phrase "in Jordan," which give a sufficiently good sense, and involve no contradiction to the words of John himself, who makes his baptism an effusion of water, to answer to the effusion of the Holy Spirit, as administered by Jesus. It may be taken as a note of place, not of mode. "In Jordan," therefore, the ex­pression of St. Matthew, is, in St. John, "IN Bethabara, beyond," or situate on, "Jordan, where John was baptizing;" and this seems all that the expression was intended to mark, and is the sense to be preferred. It is thus equivalent to "at Jordan," "at Bethabara, situate on Jordan;" at being a frequent sense of en. Or it may signify that the water of Jordan was made use of by John for baptizing, however it might be applied; for we should think it no violent mode of expression to say that we washed ourselves in a river, although we should mean, not that we plunged ourselves into it, but merely that we took up the water in our hands, and applied it in the way of effusion. Or it may be taken to ex­press his baptizing in the bed of the river, into which he must have de­scentled with the baptized, in order to take up the water with his hand, or with some small vessel, as represented in ancient bas-reliefs, to pour it out upon them. This would be the position of any baptizer using a river at all accessible by a shelving bank; and when within the bed of the stream, he might as truly be said to be in the river, when mere place was the principal thing to be pointed out, as if he had been immersed in the water. The Jordan in this respect is rather remarkable, having, according to Maundrell, an outermost bank formed by its occasional "swellings." The remark of this traveller is, "After having descended the outermost bank, you go a furlong upon a level strand, before you come to the immediate bank of the river." Any of these views of the import of the phrases "in Jordan," "in the river of Jordan," used plainly with intention to point out the place where John exercised his ministry, will sufficiently explain them, without involving us in the inex­tricable difficulties which embarrass the theory, that John baptized only by immersion. To go indeed to a river to baptize, would, in such countries as our own, where water for the mere purpose of effusion may readily be obtained out of cisterns, pumps, &c, very naturally suggest to the simple reader, that time reason for John's choice of a river was, that it afforded the means of immersion. But in those countries the case was different. Springs, as we have said, were scarce, and the water for domestic purposes had to be fetched daily by the women in pitchers from the nearest rivers and fountains, which rendered the domestic supply scanty, and of course valuable. But even if this reason did not exist, baptism in rivers would not, as a matter of course, imply immersion. Of this we have an instance in the customs of the people of Mesopotamia, mentioned in the Journal of Wolfe, the missionary. This sect of Christians call themselves "the followers of St. John the Baptist, who was a follower of Christ." Among many other questions, Mr. Wolfe inquired of one of them respecting their mode of baptism, and was answered, "The priests or bishop baptize children thirty days-old. They take the child to the banks of the river; a relative or friend holds the child near the surface of the water, while the priest sprinkles the element upon the child, and with prayers they name the child." (Journal, vol. ii, p. 311.) Mr. Wolfe asks, "Why do they baptize in rivers?" Answer: "Because St. John the Baptist baptized in the river Jordan." The same account was given afterward by one of their bishops or high priests: "They carry the children, after thirty days, to the river, the priest says a prayer, the godfather takes the child to the river, while the Priest sprinkles it with water." Thus we have in modern times river baptism without immersion; and among the Syrian Christians, though immersion is used, it does not take place till after the true baptismal rite, pouring water upon the child in the name of the trinity, has been performed.

The second proof adduced by the Immersionists is taken from the baptism of our Lord, who is said, Matt. iii, 16, "to have gone up straight. way out of the water." Here, however, the preposition used signifies from, and anebh apo vs udato~, is simply "he went up from the water." We grant that this might have been properly said in whatever way the baptism had been previously performed; but then it certainly in itself affords no argument on which to build the notion of the immersion of our Saviour.

The great passage of the Immersionists, however, is Acts viii, 38, 39: "And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him; and when they were come up out of tine water," &c. This is relied upon as a decisive proof of the immer­sion and emersion of the eunuch. If so, however, it proves too much; for nothing is said of the eunuch which is not said of Philip, "They went down BOTH into the water,"-" And when THEY were come up out of the water;".-and so Philip must have immersed himself as well as the eunuch. Nor will the prepositions determine the case; they would have been employed properly had Philip and the eunuch gone into the water by partial or by entire immersion, and therefore come out of it on dry land; and with equal propriety, and according to the ha­bitual use of the same prepositions by Greek writers, they would express going to the water, without going into it, and returning from it, and not out of it, for ei~ is spoken of place, and properly signifies at, or it indi­cates motion toward a certain limit, and, for any thing that appears to the contrary in the history of the eunuch's baptism, that limit may just as well be placed at the nearest verge of the water as in the middle of it. Thus the LXX say, Isa. xxvi, 2, "The king sent Rabshakeh from Lachish, ei~, to Jerusalem," certainly not into it, for the city was not captured. The sons of the prophets "came ei~, to Jordan to cut wood," 2 Kings vi, 4. They did not, we suppose, go into the water to perform that work. Peter was bid to "go, ei~, to the sea, and cast a hook," not surely to go into the sea; and our Lord, Matt. v, 1, "went up, ei~, to a mountain," but not into it. The corresponding preposition ek, which signifies, when used of place, from, out of, must be measured by the meaning of ei~. When ei~ means into, then ek means out of; but when it means simply to, then ek can express no more than from. Thus t his passage is nothing to the purpose of the Immersionists.

The next proof relied upon in favour of immersion is, John iii, 22, 23: "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea, and there he tarried with them and baptized; and John also was baptizing in Aenon, near to Salim, because there was much water there, and they came and were baptized." The Immersionists can see no reason for either Jesus or John baptizing where there was much water, but that they plunged their converts. The true reason for this has however been already given. Where could the multitudes who came for baptism be assembled? Clearly, not in houses. The preaching was in the fields; and since the rite which was to follow a ministry which made such an impression, and drew together such crowds, was baptism, the necessity of the case must lead the Baptist to Jordan or to some other district where, if a river was wanting, fountains at least existed. Thee necessity was equal in this case, whether the mode of baptism were that of aspersion, of pouring, or of immersion.

The Baptists, however, have magnified AEnon, which signifies the fountain of On, into a place of "many and great waters." Unfortu­nately, however, no such powerful fountain, sending out many streams of water fit for plunging multitudes into, has ever been found by travellers, although the country has been often visited; and certainly if its streams had been of the copious and remarkable character assigned to them, they could not have vanished. It rather appears, however, that the "much water," or "many waters," in the text, refers rather to the whole tract of country, than to the fountain of ON itself; because it appears to be given by the evangelist as the reason why Jesus and his disciples came into the same neighbourhood to baptize. Different baptisms were administered, and therefore in different places. The baptism administered by Jesus at this time was one of multitudes; this appears from the remark of one of John's disciples to his Master: "He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and ALL MEN come to him." The place or places, too, where Jesus baptized, although in the same district, could not be very near, since John's disciple mentions the multitudes who came to be baptized by Jesus, or rather by his disciples, as a piece of information; and thus we find a reason for the mention of the much water, or many waters, with reference to the district of country itself, and not to the single fountain of On. The tract had probably many fountains in it, which, as being a peculiarity in a country not generally so distinguished, would I lead to the use of the expression, "much water," although not one of these fountains or wells might be sufficient to allow of the plunging of numbers of people, and probably was not. Indeed if the disciples of Jesus baptized by immersion, the Immersionists are much more concerned to discover "much water," "many waters," "large and deep streams," somewhere else in the district than at AEnon; because it is plain from the narrative, that the number of candidates for John's baptism had greatly fallen off at that time, and that the people now generally flocked to Christ. Hence the remark of John, verse 30, when his dis­ciples had informed him that Jesus was baptizing in the neighbourhood, and that "all men came to him,"-" He must increase, I must decrease." Hence also the observation of the evangelist in the first verse of the next chapter, "The Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John."

As these instances all so plainly fail to serve the cause of immersion, we need not dwell upon the others. The improbability of three thou­sand persons being immersed on the day of pentecost, has been already mentioned. The baptism of Saul, of Lydia, of the Philippian jailer, and of the family of Cornelius, are all instances of house baptism, and, for that reason, are still less likely to have been by plunging. The Immersionists, indeed, invent "tanks," or "baths," for this purpose, in all these houses; but, as nothing of the kind appears on the face of the history, or is even incidentally suggested, suppositions prove nothing.

Thus all the presumptions before mentioned, against the practice of immersion, lie full against it, without any relief from the Scriptures themselves. Not one instance can be shown of that practice from the New Testament; while, so far as baptism was emblematical of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of immersion wholly destroys its significancy. In fact, if the true mode of baptism be immersion only, then must we wholly give up the phrase, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which in any other mode than that of pouring out was never administered.

The only argument left for the advocates of immersion is the supposed allusion to the mode of baptism contained in the words of St. Paul, Rom. vi, 3, 4: "Know ye not that so man of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism, into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." It is necessary, however, to quote the next verses also, which are dependent upon the foregoing, "For if we have been PLANTED together," still by baptism, "in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is CRUCIFIED with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin," v, 5-7. Why then do not the advocates of immersion go forward to these verses, so inseparably connected with those they are so ready to quote, and show us a resemblance, not only between bap­tism by immersion, and being buried with Christ; but also between im­mersion, and being "planted with Christ?" If the allusion of the apostle is to the planting of a young tree in the earth, there is clearly but a very partial, not a total immersion in the case; and if it be to GRAFTING a branch upon a tree, the resemblance is still more imperfect. Still farther, as the apostle in the same connection speaks of our being "CRUCIFIED with Christ," and that also by baptism, why do they not show us how immersion in water resembles the nailing of a body to a cross?

But this striking and important text is not to be explained by a fancied resemblance between a burial, as they choose to call it, of the body in water, and the burial of Christ; as if a dip or a plunge could have any resemblance to that separation from the living, and that laying aside of a body in the sepulchre, which burial implies. This forced thought darkens and enervates the whole passage, instead of bringing forth its powerful sentiments into clearer view. The manifest object of the apostle in the whole of this part of his epistle, was to show, that the doctrine of justi­fication by faith alone, which he had just been establishing, could not, in any true believer, lead to licentiousness of life. "What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we that are DEAD to sin, live any longer therein ?" The reason then which is given by the apostle why true believers can NOT continue in sin, is, that they are "DEAD to sin," which is his answer to the objection. Now, this mystical death to sin he proceeds to attribute to the INSTRUMENTALITY of baptism, taking it to be an act of that faith in Christ of which it was the external expression; and then he immediately runs into a favourite comparison, which under various forms occurs in his writings, sometimes accompanied with the same allusion to baptism, and sometimes referring only to "faith" as the instrument,-a comparison between the mystical death, burial, and resur­rection of believers, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This is the comparison of the text; not a comparison between our mystical death and baptism; nor between baptism, and the death and burial of Christ; either of which lay wide of the apostle's intention. Baptism, as an act of faith, is, in fact, expressly made, not a figure of the effects which follow, as stated in the text, but the means of effecting them "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death?" we enter by this means into the experience of its efficacy in effecting a mystical death in us; in other words, WE DIE with him, or as it is expressed in verse 6, "Our old man is crucified with him." Still farther, "by baptism," dia to Baptismato~, through, or by means of, baptism, "we are BURIED with him;" we not only die to sin and the world, but we are separated wholly from it, as the body of Christ was separated from the living world, when laid in the sepulchre; the connection between sin and the world and us is com­pletely broken, as those who are buried and put out of sight are no longer reckoned among men; nay, as the slave (for the apostle brings in this figure also) is by death and burial wholly put out of the power of his former master, so, "that we should not serve sin; for he that is dead is freed from sin," But we also mystically RISE with him; "that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life," having new connections, new habits, new enjoyments, and new hopes. We have a similar pas sage in Col. ii, 12, and it has a similar interpretation: "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." In the preceding verse the apostle had been speaking of the mystical DEATH of Christians under the phrase, "putting of the body of the sins of the flesh;" then, as in his Epistle to the Romans, he adds our mystical BURIAL with Christ, which is a heightened representation of death, and then also, our RISING again with Christ. Here too all these three effects are attributed to baptism as the means. We put of the body of sins "by the circumcision of Christ," that is, as we have seen, by Christian circumcision or baptism; we are buried with him by baptism; being obviously used here, like dia, to denote the instrument; and by baptism we rise with him into a new life.

Now, to institute a comparison between a mode of baptism and the burial of Christ, wholly destroys the meaning of the passage; for how can the apostle speak of baptism as an emblem of Christ's burial, when he argues from it as the instrument of our death unto sin, and separation from it by a mystical burial? Nor is baptism here made use of as the emblem of our own spiritual death, burial, and resurrection. As an em­blem, even immersion, though it might put forth a clumsy type of burial and rising again, is wanting in not being emblematical of DEATH; and yet all three, our mystical death, burial, and rising again, are distinctly spoken of, and must all be found represented in some TYPE. But the TYPE made use of by the apostle is manifestly not baptism, but the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord; and in this view he pursues this bold and impressive figure to even the verge of allegory, in the succeeding verses: "For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God; LIKEWISE reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

In the absence therefore of all proof, that, in any instance found in the New Testament, baptism was administered by immersion; with so many presumptions against that indecent practice as have been stated; with the decisive evidence also of a designed correspondence between the baptism, the pouring out, of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism, the pouring out, of water; we may conclude, with confidence, that the lat­ter was the apostolic mode of administering that ordinance; and that first washing, and then immersion, were introduced later, toward the latter end of the second century, along with several other superstitious additions to this important sacrament, originating in that "will worship" which presumed to destroy the simplicity of God's ordinances, under pretence of[1] rendering them more emblematical and impressive.

Even if immersion had been the original mode of baptizing, we should, in the absence of any command on the subject, direct or implied, have thought the Church at liberty to accommodate the manner of applying water to the body in the name of the trinity, in which the essence of the rite consists, to different climates and manners; but it is satisfactory to discover that all the attempts made to impose upon Christians a practice repulsive to the feelings, dangerous to the health, and offensive to delicacy is destitute of all Scriptural authority, and of really primitive practice.


[1] Baptism, as an emblem, points out, 1. The washing away of the guilt and pollution of sin. 2. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit. In Scripture it is made an emblem of these two, and of these only. Some of the superstitions above alluded to sin therefore by excess; but immersion sins by defect. It retains the emblematical character of the rite as to the washing away of sin; but it- loses it entirely as to the gift of the Holy Ghost; and, beyond the washing away of sin. is an emblem of nothing for which we have any Scriptural authority to make it emblematical. Immersion, therefore, as distinct from every other mode of aplying water to the body, means nothing. To say that it figures our spiritual death and resurrection, has, we have seen, no authority from the texts used to prove it; and to make a sudden pop under water to be emblematical of burial, is as far-fetched a conceit as any which adorns the Emblems of Quarles, without any portion of the ingenuity.