« PreviousContinue »
unite with Mr. Carson in inviting, not the unlearned only, but all—learned and unlearned—to turn to Rom. 6: 3, 4, and Col. 2: 12.
§ 30. Points at issue-Principles of reasoning.
Let us first present in full these remarkable and important passages of the word of God, and then endeavor to ascertain upon what points the interpretation of them turns. They are as follow: "H«yvoeīts, őrı ögoi éfanrio inuev kis Xploròv ’Incow eis τον θάνατον αυτού εβαπτίσθημεν ; Συνετάφημεν ούν αυτώ διά του βαπτίσματος εις τον θάνατον ίνα ώσπερ ηγέρθη Χριστός εκνεκρών διά της δόξης του πατρός ούτω και ημείς εν καινότητα ζωής negctatńcWuEv. Rom. 6:3, 4. EvvraQÉVTES &vto šv zõ Barτίσματι εν ώ και συνηγέρθητε διά της πίστεως της ενεργείας του OkoŨ roũ šyɛípavros åvzóv én vergőv. Col. 2: 12.
Upon these passages two distinct questions may be raised. I. Is the BAPTISM of the believer here spoken of external ?
II. Are the BURIAL and RESURRECTION of the believer here spoken of external ?
I here assume the following positions or principles, the first of which has been already proved, and the second of which is so obviously true as to need no proof.
1. The philological question, as to the import of Bantita, neither depends upon the interpretation of this passage, nor is affected by it. Each stands upon its own ground, and must be decided by its own evidence. And if it were proved that external baptism, burial and resurrection are here referred to, it would only prove, that, under a command to purify, they did in fact purify by immersion. And we must still translate the passage: “ We have been buried with him by purification into his death,''--not by “immersion” into his death. For we have already shown that, as a religious term, Bantitw does not mean to immerse, but solely to purify. In other words, we could prove immersion, &c. only by the word bury, and not at all by the word baptize.
2. As the baptism is, so is the burial. That is, if the baptism is external, so is the burial; and if internal, so is the burial. We are buried by the baptism spoken of,—Evvetognuer evro did toū Bantiquatos, etc. Rom. 6: 4. And an external baptism cannot produce an internal burial, nor can an internal baptism produce an external burial.
$ 31. Position to be proved—Sources of evidence.
We now proceed to consider the two questions above stated. In answering them, three positions have been taken:
1. The baptism into Christ is external, and of course the burial and resurrection.
2. The baptism is external, but the burial and resurrection are internal.
3. The baptism, burial, resurrection, etc. are all internal, and the passage does not refer to the external rite at all, nor derive any of its language from it; but the language would have been just as it is, if the rite had been administered by sprinkling alone, or even if there had been no external rite.
The third is the position which I intend to maintain ; and it is obviously the direct antagonist of the first, the usual position of the Baptists, and also of the Fathers and others. The second is an intermediate position, advocated by Wardlaw, Prof. Stuart and others, but, as I have indicated above, inconsistent with itself; because if the baptism is external so must be the burial and the resurrection. It is on this ground that Prof. Ripley reasons, and I think conclusively, against Prof. Stuart. “This opinion” (that the burial is internal), he says, “ seems effectually opposed by the circumstance that the burying is performed by baptism, an external rite.” p. 86. And all, who admit that the external rite is here spoken of, must, it seems to me, be inevitably driven to Prof. Ripley's ground. But, believing as I do that the external right is not meant, and that the external interpretation of this passage is not only false, but injurious to the cause of truth and holiness, I shall proceed to state the evidence which seems to me to overthrow the first position, and to establish the last. My leading arguments may be arranged under the four following heads :
1. Evidence from the logical exigencies of the passages, i.e. from the course of the argument.
2. Evidence from the usus loquendi, as to spiritual death, burial, resurrection, &c.
3. Evidence from the congruity of the interpretation with the general system of truth.
4. Evidence from the moral tendencies and effects of each interpretation.
$ 32. Argument from the logical exigencies of Rom. 6:3, 4. Let us then consider, 1, the course of the argument, and 2, the logical exigencies of Rom. 6: 3, 4. We shall consider Col. 2:12 by itself. The argument involves three points :
1. An objection stated in the form of a question, v. 1. “What then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound ??! Does not the doctrine of the free forgiveness of the greatest sins, by the abounding grace of God through Christ, lead to this result? Or, to put it in the form of a positive objection, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by free grace tends to relax the power of motives to holiness, and to encourage men to live in sin.
2. A reply, v. 2:“God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" Here Paul speaks in the name of all who are really forgiven, and virtually asserts, that all, who are in fact forgiven, are of course dead to sin, and cannot live any longer therein. Implying, of necessity, that the sys. tem itself produces this effect on all who experience its true and genuine influence, and that this is necessary and universal. In brief, the objection is: Does not the system encourage men to sin? The answer is : No, it makes them dead to sin, so that they cannot live any longer in it.
3. A proof that the fact alleged is true i. e. that the system does tend to holiness, with immense power, and not to sin. vs. 3-11. · The question now at once arises, What is good and logical proof of such a point, i. e. of the true and natural operation of a moral system on the human mind? In answering this, we shall perceive at once the logical exigencies of the passage.
Can such proof then be found in external rites, solemn promises, and significant symbols? Or must we look for it in a clear statement of the internal, natural and inevitable operation of the system as a system on the mind ? As to the first, I need only ask, what system, beit good or bad, is destitute of significant rites and symbols, and of solemn professions and promises ? Papists and Protestants, Arminians, Calvinists, Unitarians, Campbellites, Mormonites--all have them: even the rite of immersion is common to some of the worst with some of the best. But in what case have hese things given to any system a regenerating or sanctifying power sufficient to uproot and destroy the desperate depravity of the human heart? Is it not a well known fact, that the radical effects of all systems depend, not on external rites and solemn promises, but on principles? These are the internal and germinating power of every system, and just so far as these are adapted to act on the human mind, so is the system. And as a general fact, those who depend most on promises, professions and external rites, as a means of subduing sin, have the least success.
In order then to make out a sound logical argument, it is necessary that Paul should exhibit the internal operation on the mind of the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by faith, and prove that it does in fact cause all who come under its influence to be dead to sin. This, according to the internal mode of interpretation, he does ; but, according to the external mode he does it not. The one states the actual and inward effects of the forgiveness of sins through faith. The other merely refers us to the influence of an external rite. That this is so let us now proceed to establish.
The fundamental points in the interpretation are four:
1. 'EBontío Inuev is to be interpreted, we have been purified or purged, in the legal or sacrificial sense, to denote the actual purification, or purgation of the conscience from guilt by the Spirit. This is the spiritual baptism of the Holy Ghost, and the first actual influence of the system on the mind of a convicted sinner. Of this state of mind we have the following beautiful description from the pen of Watts :
Sweet was the time when first I felt
Thus, by this mode of translation, we pass at once, not to an external rite, but to the actual influence of the system on the mind.
2. 'Eßantio Inuev eis Xploròv is to be interpreted as indicating no external rite, but an actual union with Christ by this spiritual purgation, or sense of the forgiveness of sins. This consciousness of forgiving love awakens corresponding love, and produces an entire union to Christ and devotedness to him. 6 Whom not having seen ye love ; and in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This is a spiritual baptism into Christ, involving a real and vital union to him.
3. As the baptism into Christ is thus internal and spiritual, so are the death, burial and resurrection spoken of as produced by it; and these are to be regarded as the genuine and universal effects of the system of forgiveness by faith in Christ.
4. These changes involve a crucifixion to sin, a death to it, a burial as it regards the old man, and a resurrection as it regards the new, analogous to the natural crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Thus the propositions of Paul may be briefly reduced to this: By forgiveness of sins we are truly and vitally united to Christ, and the inevitable effect of this union is to exterminate, radically and entirely, our old sinful character, and to produce a new one, pure and holy like his own. That these propositions, if true, do make a logical argument, none can deny. Thus,
Objection. The system of forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ tends to embolden men in sin.
· Reply. It does not; for all who are truly forgiven are dead to sin, and cannot live in it any longer. This is the natural and necessary consequence of the system.
Proof. All who are forgiven are united by it to Christ, and it is the inevitable consequence of this union to cause death unto sin and life unto God.
Now if the facts alleged are not only true, but obvious and well known, then the argument is not only logical, but one of the highest power. But need I attempt to show that they are so ? Look first at a spiritual baptism. See the convinced sinner, agonized by the scorpion stings of a guilty conscience and fears of coming wrath, and earnestly inquiring, What shall I do ? Next look at him baptized by the Holy Ghost, his conscience purged from guilt by the blood of Christ, his sins forgiven, his soul redeemed an enemy, an alien, a rebel no more, but a child of God, a son, an heir. In the midst of all his joy, what one thought above all others will of necessity fill and overwhelin his mind? It is this : To the death of Christ I owe it all ;
Oh what had eternity been to me had it not been for the death of Christ! And now what must be what will be the inevita able course of his soul? Can he endure the thought of living in sin any longer ? Speak, oh speak, ye who have ever felt the overwhelming, the infinite, the irresistible power of a Sa. viour's love. Was not its natural, its necessary tendency to produce an entire and vital union of the soul to Christ, and a ceaseless and intense desire to be formed in his perfect image, and under the power of his love to make efforts to exterminate every sin, of which not even the remotest idea had been formed