« PreviousContinue »
present Controversy does not at all relate to the Manner or Subjects of Water-Baptism. For instance, 'tis none of my present business to inquire, whether dipping be required, or sprinkling be sufficient; whether Infants may be baptized, or adult persons only. These things are indeed disputed between our selves and some other Adversaries : but they are not properly Quaker Controversies, tho' the Quakers are very apt to digress into them. The Question therefore now depending between the Quakers and our felves, is this, whether Water-Baptism be commanded, or no; whatever the proper Manner of Water-Baptism be, or whoever be the proper Subjects of it. And this Question I shall now proceed to determine, by thewing that we are commanded to be baptized with Wa
CH A P. XXIII.
That God has commanded us to be bapti
zed with Water, proved from John 3.5. and Eph. 4. 5.
Irst, Our Savior faies, Except a Man be born of
Water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, John 3:5. For the Explication of which words I observe, 1. that to be born of the Spirit is universally allowed to signify the same as to be born of God. Now to be born of God fignifies to be renewed in the inner Man, to be fan. Erified or made holy. This appears from St. John's Words, who faies, Whoever is born of God, doth
not commit Sin, 1 John 3:9. and again, we know that whosoever is born of God, finneth not, i John 5. i8. And consequently to be born of the Spirit, signifies to be renewed in the inner Man, to be sanctified or made holy. This is a regeneration of our Souls, a giving (as it were) a new being to them, by subduing their vicious Inclinations, ima planting good ones, &c. 2. that to be born of Water, signifies to be baptized with Water. This Phrase would perhaps be inexplicable, did not the Jewish Writings afford us such light as is sufficient for the right Understanding of it. Now their Books do inform us, that 'twas usual with them to baptize with Water all those persons who from Heathenism became Proselytes to Judaism, and that they accounted those who were so baptized as perfons born again or new born. For the
proof of this . I refer the Reader to Mr. (a) Selden, Dr.(b) Lightfoot, and Mr. (c) Wall. Since therefore those Pera sons who were baptized with Water; were account, ed as new born or born again upon the account of their being so baptized; the being born of Water must in the Jewish Phrase denote being baptized with Water.
These things being premised, our Savior's Difa course with Nicodemus is very intelligible. St. John faies, ch. 3.
v. 1. There was a Man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
(a) Selden de Jure Nat. & Gent, lib. 2. cap.4. p.158, 159. Argentor. 1665. (b) Lightfoor's Harmony of the Evangelists, part. 2. sect. 12. P: 525, 526, 527. of the rit Vol. of his Works, Lond. 1684.
(0) Wall's History of Infant-Baptism, Vol. 1. Introduct. Lond. 1705.
V. 2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi; we know that thou art a teacher come from God. For no Man can do these Miracles that thou doet, except God be with him.
v. 3. Jesus answered and said unto him, your acknowledging that I am a Teacher come from God, is not sufficient for your seeing or entring into the Kingdom of God. For, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a Man be born again, be cannot see the Kingdom of God.
V.4. Now Nicodemus did not apprehend what our Savior meant by being born again; and therefore he faith unto him, How can a Man be born, when he is Old, as I am? if this be a condition, without which I cannot enter into or see the Kingdom of God, I must despair thereof. For can be that is Old, enter the Second time into his Mother's Womb, and be born?
v. 5. Jesus answered, I wonder how you can thus misunderstand me. Can you think, that I am fo unreasonable, as to make it necessary for everyone that intends to be my Disciple to return into the Womb of his Mother, and be born of her Body a Second time? You might well have believed, that I do not speak of a proper, but of a figurative Birth. However, to prevent your mi. staking me for the future, I will speak more plainly. Wherefore, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except à Man be born of Water by being baptized therewith, and of the Spirit by being fanatified thereby, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
«V.6. I fay, I require this double regeneration; the regeneration by Water, as the Ceremony of Initiation into my Discipleship; and the regeneration by the Spirit, as that which makes Men
true, real, sincere, hearty, obedient Followers of me, such as I intend to reward. Wherefore 'tis necessary that a Man be born again both Waies. For that which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh, that is, 'tis the Flesh or outward Man only, that is born again of Water according to your own Notions. For you believe, that the Gentiles are defiled by being descended of impure Parents, and you baptize them with Water to purify them from their native Filth, and render them an Holy Seed, even as clean as tho' they had been descended from your own Race. But this Regeneration by Water regards the Flesh or outward Man only; whereas I require a Regeneration of the inner Man also, a Sanctification of the Heart, and therefore I say that ʼtis necessary for a Man to be born of the Spi. rit. For that which is born of the Spirit ; is Spirit ; that is, 'tis the Spirit or Soul of Man, which is born again by Operation of the Holy Ghost, even as the Flesh'or Body of Man is by you supposed and said to be born again of Water, when 'tis, baptized therewith.
v. 7. Marvel not therefore, &c.
Now I shall not dispute what is meant by the Kingdom of God in this place; but supposing that, to see or enter into the Kingdom of God does fignify (as it certainly does) either being made a. Member of Christ's Church, or being glorified in Heaven, 'tis plain, that Water-Baptism is commanded us. For since being born of Water, that. is, being baptized with Water, is made the condition of our seeing or entring into the Kingdom of Heaven ; our Savior has certainly obliged us to perform that Condition, that is, to be baptized with Water.
I confess, Mr. (d) Barclay has objected, that if by Water here were to be understood outward Water, it would infer, that Water-Baptism is absolutely necefsary to Salvation. To which I answer, that Water-Baptism is absolutely necessary to the Salvation of those, to whom God has given sufficient means of knowing that 'tis commanded, as I have already faid in the foregoing Chapter.
Secondly, St. Paul saies, there is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, Eph. 4.5. Now 'tis granted by our Adversaries themselves, that we are commanded to be baptized with the Baptism here mentioned. I shall therefore
I shall therefore prove, that the Baptism here mentioned is Water-Baptism. For,
1. The Baptism here mentioned is not the Baptism with the Holy Ghost.For I have largely shewn, that the Baptism with the Holy Ghost signifies the effusion of the Miraculous Gifts of the Holy Ghost
. Now the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, or Ef. fusion of the Extraordinary Gifts of the Holy Ghost, was never bestowed upon all Chriítians, even in the primitive Times. In the very be. ginnings of the Gospel, tho’ it was frequent and common, yet it was not universal.
And I am apt to believe, that it was seldom granted to any, but those that were called to the Ministry. For we learn from Afts 8. 17. that the Gift of the Holy Ghost was bestowed after the Imposition of the Apostle's Hands. And, Acts 19. 6. 'tis said, that when Paul had laid bis Hands upon them (who had been already baptized with Water) the Holy Ghost came on them, and they Spake with Tongues, and prophecied. Now we know, that Imposition of Hands was the usual Form of