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ever mortal man meet with so loose, and comparison in the two texts now before unsatisfactory--(I will not use a stronger us any thing like them? Are Christ's epithet) so loose and unsatisfactory an sufferings best represented by an immerinterpretation of inspired words? Does sion, or by having a few drops of water not this paraphrase get rid of the fact sprinkled or poured upon the face ? of the baptism of the eunuch altogether? Would the latter process have suggested I trust, my friend will not consider me as the metaphor used by Christ? His sufdealing out hard measure to him. I ac- ferings were overwhelmingly great and knowledge I tremble, and I fancy he terrible; they occupied His whole frame. will blush, at the havoc made with God's Body and mind were, so to speak, seized, Word by his mode of explaining Scrip- buried, covered with them; hence the ture adopted in this instance. The text language He employs; an illustration, I tells us, Philip baptized the eunuch. Of conceive, that the meaning of baptize” course we must 'not, and Mr. Clayton is not to sprinkle or affuse, but to immerse. must not, take for granted the very Read either of the passages, as you thing in dispute. The question is, what did the last text under consideration, was done to the eunuch? Read the in various ways.
“ I have a sprinkling text in the several ways our respective with which to be sprinkled!” « I have sentiments require. Take Mr. Clayton's a pouring with which to be poured!” first: “ And he sprinkled him.” Why, More monstrous still does the comthen, did they go down into the water parison become if it be read, " I “And he poured him." This makes have a purification with which to be nonsense of the text. “And he purified purified." Let it be read, "I have an him.” An idea is here brought into the immersion with which to be immersed,” text, over and above what the historian and the figure is natural, poetic, and imrecords. “ And he dipped him.” The pressive. Thus far, then, you will be sense is clear and natural; and I confess satisfied, that Mr. Clayton is not right I despair of demonstrating any thing in his version of the word “ baptize.” from plain Scripture statement, if this be He adverts to two passages, however, left in doubt.
which with considerable confidence are (Luke xii. 50; Matt. xx. 22)—Nei- urged as supporting his views. Let us ther of these passages pertains to bap- see how far they do so. They are Acts tism directly ; the ordinance serves the xvi. 33; and Acts ii. 41. As to the purpose of an illustration, and the terms first, Mr. Clayton asks, “ Is it to be supemployed are used allusively. In one posed, that in the dead of the night and of them, our Lord expresses His anti. that same hour,' the jailor and all his cipation of His own sufferings~"I have were immediately baptized by being ima baptism to be baptized with, and how mersed in water?” Surely there is nothing am I straitened till it be accomplished !” more incredible in this supposition, than Christ uses the figure evidently to ex- that they were sprinkled or poured upon. press the character and amount of His Most houses of any size in Asiatic towns sufferings. In the other, he intimates to and cities, were furnished with a bath the ambitious, mistaken sons of Zebedee, kept ready for use; and it is just as likely that they would have to endure sufferings that in the public jail of a chief city of like His own : Are able to drink of Macedonia,“the jailer and all his” had the
cup that I shall drink of, and to be recourse to their bath, as that the ewer baptized with the baptism that I am was introduced, and a sprinkling probaptized with ?" The figure is of the cess conducted. As to the second, Mr. same import;
expresses the character Clayton asks, “ How would it have been and amount of the Redeemer's suffer possible to have baptized [to baptize] ings. We may be assured of the pro- three thousand persons in the afternoon priety, the perfectly good keeping of the of a single day, had the laborious and figure used by the Saviour. Now what onerous process of immersion been the do the sufferings of Christ most re- mode practised ?” Peter's address was semble ? Affiictions, when very heavy, being delivered at nine in the morning, are compared to floods of great waters : previously to which hour the multitude “At the noise of Thy waterspouts all had come together on account of the miThy waves and Thy billows are gone racle. There were twelve men to conover me :” “When thou passest through duct this “laborious and onerous prothe waters, I will be with thee.” Is the 'cess,” even suppose they availed them
selves of no assistance from their commands. That they would do what seems panions, of whom there were more than to us unreasonable, extreme, or even abone hundred—(Acts i. 15). And fur- surd, is perfectly credible. Did they not ther; suppose that the baptism was all “strain at their gnats and swallow effected within the very day of twelve camels ?” Thirdly, The passage properly hours in length, on which the Spirit had read contains a climax, not brought out descended, it would give but two hun- indeed in our version, for there two words, dred and fifty per man; and is there not at all alike,are both rendered “wash,' any reasonable doubt that this was, one in each verse ; words too, which the even with facility, to be effected sense of the text requires to be considered On Christmas day last, my friend Mr. as set in contrast with each other. Dr. Philippo baptized one hundred and sixty- Campbell, a sprinkler, thus renders the eight persons in the sea in Jamaica, even text; “ For the Pharisees, and indeed all before it was high day. He immersed the Jews, observing the tradition of the them most certainly ; and so far as time elders, eat not until they have washed and physical strength are concerned, their hands by pouring a little water would, had it been necessary, have bap- upon them; and if they be come from tized twice the number. A cause can- market, by dipping them; and many not be good that seeks support in con- other usages there are, which they have jectures and doubts, such as Mr. Clayton adopted, as baptism of cups and pots throws out. But, dear friends, though and brazen vessels and beds.” Among he asks the questions I have quoted and the notes by which this translation is answered, do not suppose either that he supported, Dr. Campbell remarks on the would rest his sprinkling, or I my im- word “wash,” in verse 4, or dipping, mersion, on the questions or the answers as he renders it-" This word limits us to you have heard.
a particular mode of washing, for baptizo There are two other passages, to which denotes 'to plunge,''to dip. Fourthly, Mr. Clayton refers with equal, perhaps Dipping (not sprinkling, but dipping) with even greater confidence." These “
cups and pots and brazeu vessels and also we will examine. They are- -Mark beds” was common among the Jews in vii. 3, 4; and 1 Cor. x. 2.
every case of ceremonial defilement. First, Mark vii. 3, 4. “Is it at all Their canons or rules for religious pracrational to suppose," asks Mr. Clayton, tices say, “ A bed that is defiled, if it " that the couches on which the ancients be dipped part by part, it is made pure.' reclined at their repasts, were immersed Again ; “If the bed be dipped in a pool in water? rather were they not sprinkled?" of water, it is made clean.” I fancy In reply, I beg to remark on the whole you will see now, that immersing the passage. First, Mr. Clayton has no couches or beds was no such irrareason for saying that the evangelist re- tional thing as Mr. Clayton would have fers to the couches,on which the ancients us conceive ; or absurd and irrational as reclined at their repasts. They used the practice was, the Pharisees and all other couches, and the reference might the Jews adopted it, and this is all our be to them; not to their divans, or the present argument requires.* couches in ordinary use in their dining Secondly, 1 Cor. x. 2. The people
* Beds,' my friend will say; ' it is were “ baptized unto Moses." Mr. more unlikely still that these should be Clayton says,“ By the spray of the water, dipped.' I shall have something to add or by the showers which descended at on that subject in a moment or two; in that very time, for it is said, that the the meantime, you must not think of beds clouds poured out water." He adds, like ours-(Matt. ix. 6.) Secondly, “ Their baptism was the baptism of the The evangelist is speaking of what an rain, which descended at the time of this exceedingly superstitious class of per- remarkable miracle.” Let us examine sons, even Pharisees, were in the habit whether this be a simple and natural of doing, in obedience to what they construction of the text. deemed religious and ceremonial com- To be “ baptized into Christ" is a
Commentators, albeit sprinklers, or pourers, as to their baptismal practice, might be quoted almost out of number, to show that this passage, till lately, has never been thought to offer any difficulty in the way of the immersionist. I may be permitted to suggest the following observations of a learned Jewish Archæologist to Mr. Clayton's attention.
“ The Pharisees judged the omission of ablution to be a crime of equal magnitude with fornication,
phrase employed (Gal. iii. 27) for put- | imagined the walls were coming down ting on a profession of Christianity. To upon them? He supposes, moreover,
baptized unto Moses," precisely that rain fell upon them from the cloud the same form of speech, seems to be above; his reference to Psalm lxxvii. 17, used in this text to convey a similar idea. indicates a total misunderstanding of the The
scope of the passage is to guard the psalmist's meaning, and the supposition Corinthians against carelessness and sin of rain is as unlikely as that of the sea —they might trust in their privileges. spray.
In his ordinary ministrations, • We are the baptized disciples of Christ, my esteemed neighbour, I am sure, exwe partake of the elements of bread and plains the Word of God with greater wine in tokeri of our relation to Him;' correctness and judgment. From im
think not on that account,' the apostle probable suppositions, turn to the narrasays, 'to escape with impunity; the fa- tive as it is, and it will be seen that the thers were in a similar condition. They sea and the cloud combined to cover were baptized unto Moses, they ate and and protect the host of Israel. Whether drank of spiritual food and drink; this be nearer to sprinkling or pouring their manna and their water from the than to immersing, I need not say. The rock typified to them some such thing, as youngest Sunday School child here prethat which to you is set forth in the bread sent can instantly tell. and wine of which you partake' (verses But my neighbour employs another 3, 4). The argument does not turn argument against immersion, founded upon the mode in which the Israel- on the thing which baptism is intended ites were baptized" baptism” is used in to represent. This thing, he says, is not the text altogether allusively-the argu- the death and resurrection of Christ ment turns simply on the Israelites hav- (you will look perhaps at Romans vi. ing made a profession, not much unlike 3--10, and at Cól. ii. 12, at your leisure, that which, by being baptized into for information on this point)—it is the Christ, the Corinthians had made. purification of our character.
I might dismiss this text, therefore, as ordinance of baptism,” Mr. Clayton adds, not at all pertaining to our present in " is the symbol of purification; the quiry, but that, if I did so, it might be spiritual purification of the mind from said I had not met the question as to the the defilement of sin, is the thing repremeaning of the word which the apostle sented in baptism." Be it so. Is the employs. It is expressly said, the fathers argument which Mr. Clayton employs,
baptized in the cloud and in the therefore, a good one? The mind is
How? Brethren, just conceive purified by the blood of Christ sprinkled of the condition of the Israelites at the upon the conscience, and by the Holy remarkable period referred to. They Spirit's grace shed, or poured out; therewent down into the bed of the sea ; the fore sprinkling or pouring is baptism, waters stood as a wall on each side of and immersion is not baptism.' You them ; the cloud covered them; it went will at once perceive, that this argument, before them to mark their way, it rested such as it is, is not made to rest upon upon them, it fell behind them to con- the meaning of any part of God's Word; ceal them from their pursuers. Mr. it is not in answer to the inquiry of Clayton has to suppose a spray thrown“What saith the Scripture?" but, what upon the Israelites from the miraculous on a certain principle of criticism, must it walls on their right hand and their left- be understood to say? That principle is, an exceeding unlikely thing, since this that the thing signified, and the figure would have had the effect of terrifying employed, must agree in all respects. If and throwing them into disorder. When not, Mr. Clayton will see that the agreethey felt the spray, must they not have ment required by his argument is the
and worthy of death. Those who had departed from their house (as, for instance, to the market) washed in a bath, or at least immersed their hands in water with the ngers distended."-Jahu's Sac. Antiq. g 320.
The sanie learned author's account of the Jewish beds, $ 40, also shows that they might easily be immersed. Why not as easily immersed as carried ?-John v. 8--12.
By the way, I may observe here, that any one who will turn to bis Greek Testament, will see cause to question the correctness of any translation of verse 4, which makes the washing to refer to the hands. The hands are mentioned in verse 3, as the objects of the verb “ wash.” In verse 4 no object to the verb is mentioned. It is of the middle or reciprocal voice; and without an object would be properly translated" They wash themselves.” I mention this, not however as laying much stress upon it.
very thing to be proved. I would like, in immersion, nor in pouring, is there moreover, to know whether in this ar- strictly a likeness to the mode of Divine gument Mr. Clayton considers the operation on the mind. The ideas consprinkling of the blood of Christ on the veyed are of the utmost importance ; conscience, and the pouring of Divine but they are of another kind from influence upon the mind, reality-a that, which is the exclusive prinliteral reality; or whether he will regard ciple of Mr. Clayton's most unsatisfacit as itself a figure employed to set forth tory argument. The Spirit is said to something which is literal and most be poured out, because of the resemblance, potent and gracious. Does he mean to in the respects already mentioned, besay, that a man's conscience is literally tween His influences and those of a sprinkled with the blood of Christ; as copious supply of water in an arid counthe altar, and all things about the altar, try. They refresh and fructify and were sprinkled with the blood of the adorn the character. It is an accommoslain victim under the Levitical eco- dation to our ways of thinking. In like nomy? Is the grace of the Holy Spirit manner, as when the blood of the sacriliterally, like oil or water, poured out on ficed victim was sprinkled on the priest that which it is intended to purify? I or other party, he was cleansed from think I can anticipate his reply. He con- ceremonial defilement, delivered ceives of nothing so gross and material. perhaps from moral guilt, and so But what then becomes of his principle ? placed in a condition to come near to The thing signified and the sign must God's altar, by the application of the resemble each other. And what, of the blood of Christ to the conscience (or, if conclusion from it-'therefore sprinkling it be deemed better to keep to Scripture or pouring is baptism?' Figures are em- phraseology, by the sprinkling of the ployed to set forth realities, not figures. blood of Christ,) the penitent obtains a Should purification be the thing intended sense of pardon, and can come to God in baptism, in contradistinction from with humble boldness; he is accepted the death and resurrection of Christ, of Him. Oh that Mr. Clayton had which Mr. Clayton affirnis, still baptism, not seemed to lose sight of this purpose, in the mode of its administration, cer- of these sacred resemblances, in his tainly does not prefigure the emblem by eagerness to construct an argument for which that purification is said to be his favourite practice ! effected.
If illustration be necessary of the In connection with this consideration truth of what I have said here, call to I may be referred to Acts i. 5—“ Ye mind the fact, that the Spirit's influences shall be baptized with the Spirit not are compared to many other things. If many days hence ;” and it may be said, " the sign and the thing signified must this figure must of course be explained in all respects) agree,” how strange, in harmony with other passages, in how motley a notion must be formed on which the Spirit's influence is compared this sublime and delightful topic! The to dew, to floods, to copious rain poured communication of the Spirit, spoken of forth. Certainly it must; and my ques- as a pouring, is set forth by baptism; the tion is, what do such comparisous indi- sign and the thing signified must agree; cate; the manner in which Divine in therefore baptism is pouring. The same fluence is communicated, or the abun- subject is set forth by another figure, dance, the fructifying, refreshing effect as
seen in John iv. 14. of that influence? Take, for instance, What will be Mr. Clayton's conclusion Isaiah xliv. 3, or any similar passage,
on this resemblance ? Again-(see and let my question bé fairly answered. Psalm xlvi. 4)—the figure or sign is If the latter of these two things, not the furnished by streams irrigating and reformer, be the purport of the figure, let freshing a crowded city. What are we the text now before us be explained by to say to this passage ? And what to those all means in harmony therewith. It in which fire and the wind, not to menmay be said, we cannot be immersed tion other things, are taken as the signs with or in the Spirit. True. Neither can to set forth Divine influence on the the Spirit be poured upon us. However heart? Must we notfall back upon the well common the latter form of expression known canon of interpretation-Strain be, it is figurative altogether. Neither not a resemblance. Do not force a
press one idea.'
figure. It is enough, if it clearly ex- ing them so much currency belongs to a
You will make absurd church, from which my venerated neighnonsense of the Bible, if this rule be over- bour is at as great a distance, in every looked.
feeling of his bosom, as any man can be. Other passages might be examined, I have said nothing of the subjects of and other points of my neighbour's this rite; my reason is, that I have had argument might be analyzed; but I have another topic to discuss. My friend, said enough, I apprehend, to show, that however, ventures a sentence or two; the ordinance, as we attend to it, is not so and I may perhaps so far follow his ex“positively, in every feature, unlike the ample. Singularly enough, when his text original," as he considers it to be; and was borne in mind, my friend acknowperhaps enough, also, to entitle me to ledges, that the Scriptures contain no expect a little less dogmatism, a little direction to baptize infants.
“ We want less confidence, and a little less flippancy, none,” he says. Is not baptism, however, when next it shall be opposed.
an ordinance pertaining not to any forOf two facts, matters of history, per- mer dispensation, but to Christianity haps I may take leave to remind you. alone? Was it not new, perfectly new, One is, that on the meaning of the when Christianity began to be taught ? word ó baptize,” not one authority It is said in favour of the baptism of inworth quoting, till of modern date, tants, that this ordinance took the place ventures even
Admissions of circumcision ; but Christianity did not on this point, are not that "immer- abolish circumcision ; it could not theresion is one meaning of the term" made fore appoint anything in its place. And in the spirit of amiable candour. Il moreover, we have express command could quote a hundred unquestionable to baptize such as believe the Gospel. authorities, who say with the illustrious A command which specifies the cases Calvin—" The very word baptize, how- to which it applies, excludes all other ever, signifies to immerse, and the rite cases, except where such conclusion of immersion was observed by the ancient would contradict some other command church”-(Instit. Lib. iv. cap 15 $ 19): equally express, or some known and well language employed by that celebrated confirmed law or principle of the governman, moreover, after the maintaining, ment commanding. We dowant, therefore, that whether immersion once or thrice, a command, or something equivalent to a or only pouring or sprinkling be adopted, command, to warrant the administration “is of no importance; churches ought of this rite to any others than those who to be left at liberty in this respect, to act believe in the Son of God. The account according to the difference of countries.” given in the New Testament of what bapHe places pouring or sprinkling on its tism is, so far as the party baptized is true ground; whether you will be satis- concerned, utterly precludes the admisfied that it is good ground, I have not sion of infants to it-See, for instance, much doubt. It is, that though Christ's 1 Peter ii. 21. language is precise, the very word My brother, in common with almost meaning to immerse, churches or coun- all who take his view of baptism, adverts tries are at liberty to alter His appoint to the baptism of households in supment; something else than what He port of the right of infants to the ordicommands may be practised, because nance. Now not to employ against him the church has ordained it.
the fact of there being scores of houseThe other fact, now a matter of his holds everywhere, in which there are no tory, is, that immersion is the practice infants, I am disposed to use here the in all countries, or it was uniformly till inquiry of the text, “What saith the of late the practice; and even now, but Scripture ?" Exclusive of the baptism very few exceptions are allowed, where of Christ, and of the multitudes by John, Popish power and superstition have , and also of the disciples whom Jesus, as never prevailed. So remarkably is this it was rumoured, made and baptized, the case, that immersion becomes a sort (John iv.1)—there are, I believe, eleven of ecclesiastico-geographical boundary. recorded instances of baptism in the New Pouring and sprinkling are both modern Testament. Multitudes more were bapinnovations, moreover, not five centuries tized unquestionably ; but these are the old scarcely. The bad eminence of procur- I only instances, so far as I remember,