By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
By this is meant the application of water to a person as a sacrament or religious ceremony. A kind of baptism or ablution was practiced among the Jews as a symbol of purification. II Kings 5:1-14. This was especially required of those who were inducted into the priestly office. Exod. 29:4; Lev. 8:5-6; Num. 8:5-7.
It was in conformity to this law that Jesus was baptized, Matt. 3:13-15; hence not till he was thirty years of age. Compare Num. 4:3,47; Luke 3:21, 23.
John's baptism by water was introductory to the higher baptism of the Spirit, instituted by Christ. Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:5; 19:3-5. (165. What is baptism? What is said of Jewish baptisms? Of the baptism of Christ? John's baptism?) He was called the Baptist, or baptizer, because specially sent for this purpose. John 1:33.
Christ, very early in his ministry, baptized by water through his apostles, John 3:22, 26; 4:1-2; and just before his ascension, commanded them to make disciples in all nations baptizing them in the name of the Holy Trinity. Matt. 28:19-20.
Thenceforth the practice ever prevailed as a rite or ceremony of initiation into the visible Church of Christ. Acts 2:38, 41; 8:36-38; 10:47-48; I Cor. 12:13.
It is the duty, therefore, of all who have true faith in Christ to unite with his visible Church and, by so doing, make that "confession before men" on which Christ, the head of the Church, has laid so much stress. Matt. 10:32, 33.
Moreover, by attending to this duty we are enabled to share in the outward ordinances of the Gospel which Christ has commanded his disciples to receive, and are accelerating the fulfillment of those promises which relate to the final destination of the Church. Isa. 2:1-4; Matt. 16:18; Ps. 2:8, etc. (166. Did Christ personally baptize by water? Did he authorize his ministers to do it? Did it ever after prevail as a rite of initiation into the church? Of what is it the sign or symbol?)
By entering the Church through baptism we are contributing to make Christianity a visible institution on earth, as it was designed to be by its Divine Founder. Matt. 5:14-16; 18:17; Acts 2:41-47; Phil. 2:15-16.
As to the subjects of baptism, infants and all believing adults who have not been baptized before are considered proper candidates.
That adults must believe in order to baptism is evident from the fact that the Scriptures require faith in such, and that such as did believe were baptized. Mark. 16:16; Acts 2:41; 8:12, 37; 16:31-33. When the Scriptures speak of faith as necessary to baptism, or salvation, they refer solely to adults, or those who are capable of believing. Mark 16:16.
That the requirement of faith cannot refer to infants is evident from the fact, that a want of true faith, which disqualifies for baptism, excludes also from salvation. Mark 16:16; John 3:18, 36.
That infants are proper subjects of baptism is evident, because,- a. The Christian Church is a continuation of the Jewish Church, and the covenant remains the same, though the seal, or token of it, is changed. Heb. 8:6-13. (167. Who are the subjects of baptism? Why must adults believe in order to be baptized? Does this faith refer solely to adults? Why? How is infant baptism proved as scriptural?)
b. The token of the covenant in the former Church was circumcision. This was, by Divine command, administered to infants, and thereby they were constituted members of the Church Gen. 17:9-14.
c. Baptism is now substituted for circumcision; and as the right of infants to Church membership was never taken away, it is argued that they should still receive the token of the covenant. Col. 2:10-12. If the children of believing Jews had been excluded from the new covenant, so great a curtailment of rights would have awakened discussion; but though matters of minor importance were discussed, this great question never arose, Acts 21:20; hence the inference that children were not excluded from the new covenant.
d. That infants are to be received into the Church, and as such baptized, is also inferred from the following Scriptures: Isa. 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28; Matt. 18:1-4; 19:13-14; Acts 2:38-39; I Cor. 7:14.
e. The practice of the Apostles is further proof, as appears from the record of their baptisms-not less than four households or families are recorded as baptized: that of Cornelius, of Lydia, of the Jailer, and of Stephanas. (168. First proof? Second? Third? Fourth? Fifth?) When we consider that old people are not easily converted, there is a strong probability that those we have enumerated were comparatively young, and that there were infants in their families. Acts 16:15, 33; I Cor. 1:16.
f. All ancient writers of distinction refer to its practice by the apostles; nor was it denied or controverted by any till the twelfth century after Christ, when the sect called Waldenses denied the rite to infants, on the belief that all such were damned-a doctrine not of Christ surely, Luke xviii, 15-17, but of devils, I Tim. iv, 1; 2 Pet. ii, 1.
g. Only one hundred and fifty years after the death of St. John, a council of sixty-six bishops unanimously decided that "the baptism of infants was not to be delayed to the eighth day after the birth, as circumcision had been, but might be given them at any time before." The question they decided was, not whether infants should be baptized, but whether they should be baptized before they were eight days old.
h. It is true there is no positive command for infant baptism, nor is there any against it, as there should have been if Christ intended to abridge the rights of Jewish parents under the Abrahamic covenant. (169. Sixth proof? Seventh? Eight?)Nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week, or for family devotion, or for women to receive the Lord's Supper. The reasons are obvious; there was no controversy in either case that called for it.
i. All who thus dedicate their children to God, either in circumcision or in baptism, are supposed to take upon them the requisite obligation of training them to the service of God, by teaching them in all the doctrines and duties of the true religion. Deut. 6:7; Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:1, 4.
The mode of baptism is nowhere in Scripture particularly specified. The command is to baptize, without designating the mode. The mode, therefore, is not essential, or, if it be essential, it would seem that pouring or sprinkling is the proper mode, since water baptism is the symbol of spiritual baptism, which is uniformly expressed by the terms sprinkling or pouring. Isa. 44:3; Ezek. 36: 25; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:18, 33; I Cor. 10:1-2; Titus 3:5-6; Heb. 10:22; 12:24. (170. What is expected of those who thus dedicate their children? Is any particular mode of baptism enjoined? What mode seems most proper?)
The mode of immersion is unfavorable to universal practice, while the other modes can be performed in any place, at any time or season of the year, and to any person: in the desert waste, or in the city full; by the side of Jordan, at the house of Cornelius, in Phi1ippi's prison, by the penitent's cross, or on the bed of sickness and death. Besides, baptism by affusion or sprinkling may always take place with decency, modesty, and safety, which is not true of immersion, as thousands could testify.
It is said (Matt. 3:6) that John baptized "in Jordan;" but the Greek word here rendered in is often and more properly rendered at and by, especially when used in connection with a river, as here. I Kings 17:3, 5; II Kings 26-7; 23:6. The words therefore indicate, not the mode, but the place only of baptizing, namely, one of the banks of Jordan, of which there were several. Joshua 3:15; 4:18; I Chron. 12:15.
The phrases "went down into," and "came up out of, the water," (Acts 8:38, 39,) are no proof of immersion, for the expressions apply alike to the eunuch and Philip, the baptized and the baptizer. So also in the case of Christ's baptism. Matt. 3:16. (171. Why should immersion not be practiced? What is said respecting John's baptizing in Jordan? Of the baptism of the eunuch?)
The phrase "buried with Christ by baptism" is figurative, as are the expressions "planted" and "crucified" with him, all denoting simply the completeness of the believer's spiritual union with Christ, in which he is made a partaker of the benefit of his suffering, death , and resurrection. Romans 6:3-8; Phil. 3:10-11; Col. 2:12.
B. THE LORD'S SUPPER
Is that holy ordinance in which the sufferings and death of Christ are commemorated; instituted by Christ himself on that memorable night in which he was betrayed. I Cor. 11:23, etc.
The elements used in this institution are bread and wine, which are designed to represent the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ in behalf of sinful man. I Cor. 11:23, etc.
The special design of this institution is, to preserve a grateful and affectionate remembrance of the blessed Savior. (172. What is meant by being buried with Christ by baptism? What is the Lord's Supper? When was it instituted? What are the proper elements? What do they represent? What is the special design of this sacrament?) It is a memorial of his death, and it expresses the guilt and wretchedness of man, and the grace of God in his salvation.
The obligations to observe this institution are gratitude, personal benefit, the honor and command of Christ, and the practice of the apostles and primitive Christians. Ps. 116:12-13; Matt. 10:32-33; Luke 22:19.
This sacrament should be administered by regularly constituted ministers of the Gospel, who are to perform it in their official capacity.
This ordinance is designed only for visible Christians in regular Church standing, of whatever denomination.
That we may worthily partake of this supper, it is proper there should be suitable meditations, not only before, but at and after partaking of it. I Cor. 5:7-8; 10:21; 11:28; II Cor. 13:5.
To partake of this supper "unworthily" is to do it as the Corinthians did, without making any distinction between that and their ordinary meals; and more especially by an excessive intemperate use of the elements. I Cor. 12:20-22, 27-30. (173. What are the obligations to observe the sacrament of the Lord's Supper? By whom is it to be administered? For what is it designed? What is meant by partaking unworthily?)
The fact that the Corinthians were drunken on these occasions, shows that the wine they used was intoxicating; and not that such wine was commonly used, or considered suitable to a proper observance of this sacrament. Their being rebuked rather implies that theirs was an exception to the general practice, they not having been fully converted from their former drunken revels and other heathen practices I Cor. 8:7; 5:1, 7-8.
The wine used at the supper by Christ he calls the fruit of the vine, Matt. 26:29; evidently referring to what is called the pure blood of the grape. Deut. 32:14. The idea that he used fermented or intoxicating wine is inconsistent with the prohibition of leavened or fermented bread at the sacrament. Compare Matt. 26:17, with Exod. 12:18-20.
The time of the day for celebrating this ordinance is not material, and the posture of the body in receiving it is, of itself, indifferent. The Scriptures lay no stress on these points. Our choice and convenience must determine. (174. Why were the Corinthians made drunk? Does not this prove that intoxicating wine should not be used? What of the wine used by Christ? What time of day, and in what posture, should we receive it?)
The doctrine of transubstantiation, or that the bread and wine are literally converted into the body and blood of Christ, is one of the gross absurdities of the Romish Church, since the bread is called bread after as well as before consecration. I Cor. 11:27-28.
It supposes that Christ partook of his own body and blood, and that the identical human body of the crucified is present on all sacramental occasions.
The doctrine of consubstantiation, or the actual, substantial presence of the body of Christ with the bread and wine, so that the communicant partakes of that body and is benefitted by the material elements, is an error and delusion, destructive of spirituality.
The doctrine of the ritualists, that Jesus Christ's spiritual presence so pervades the bread and the wine as to impart to them a saving efficacy and to render them worthy of worship, is an abominable perversion of the simple symbolism of the holy Eucharist designed to be an impressive memorial of the broken body and shed blood of the adorable Savior. (175. What is said of transubstantiation? What is said of Consubstantiation? What of the doctrine of the ritualists?)