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where they were sitting ; 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. Here we are directly told, that the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, was accomplished by the Affusion of both on the Disciples, from Heaven. To avoid the force of these direct declarations of the Prophet and the Historian, some of those, with whom I am contending, have, in the indulgence of an excursive imagination, gravely told us, that St. Luke declares the Holy Ghost to have filled the house. Hence they conclude, that the Disciples were enveloped, and in a proper sense immersed, in the Holy Ghost. This is one, among many specimens, of the length, to which even wise and good men are carried by favouritism for a darling point. Beside the metaphysical absurdity, and, as I think, indecency, of attributing place and extension, in this manner, to the Divine Spirit, these gentlemen do direct violence to the words of the Evangelist. St. Luke informs us, that the sound filled the house. The pronoun It, which precedes the verb filled, has, for its antecedent, sound; the only substantive in the verse, to which it can possibly refer. The words of the original are still more explicit; and are thus literally rendered : And suddenly there came from Heaven a sound, like that of a rushing mighty wind, and filled the whole house, where they were sitting. Were there any room for a possible doubt, that doubt is removed by the exposition of an Inspired Commentator. Therefore, says the Apostle Peter, verse 33, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He, that is, Christ, hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. The word, translated hath shed forth, is sexse, hath pour- . ed out : the same verb, which St. Peter uses to denote the same thing in translating the passage from Joel. Here, then, is another instance, in which the word Barrigw does not mean, to immerse.
I shall be excused, on account of the length of even the most concise comments of this nature, from proceeding any farther. Suffice it, to say, that there are many other instances, in which it is, in my own view, incredible, that this verb, and its derivatives, should mean Immersion; and that, on the contrary, Cleans
ing is directly indicated by them, in all cases, as their principal meaning.
3. It is incredible, that the multitudes, whom John baptized in the wilderness, were immersed. Of these a very great multitude were women.
These multitudes certainly came to hear John, without having prepared any proper dress, in which to be baptized : for they could not even know, that he would baptize them. It will not be mistrusted, that this promiscuous assembly were immersed naked. To have immersed them, with their clothes on, would have exposed them to certain disease and death.
4. It is impossible, that those, whom Peter and his companions baptized on the day of Pentecost, should have been immersed.
All the difficulties, which attended the Baptism of John's followers, attended that of these people also; and probably, in a still higher degree ; because they did not assemble to be baptized, nor even to hear the preaching of the Apostles. They, therefore, certainly assembled in their own usual dress. At the same time, it seems almost a thing of course, that the Apostles, who had just received a spiritual Baptism, by the Affusion of the Holy Ghost, and announced it to their hearers, should follow the mode, in which this Baptism was administered to them, in administering the Baptism, which was symbolical of it, to their hearers.
But, independently of these considerations, the thing itself could not be done by the Apostles, in the circumstances, and within the time, specified, in the mode of immersion. St. Luke informs us, that they, who received the word of Peter were then baptized; and that the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls. The only way, in which these persons could be known to be added to the Church, or could in fact be added to the Church, was by their Baptism. They were, therefore, baptized that day. But the Apostles could not, in any supposable circumstances, furnished by the City of Jerusalem, nor indeed in any circumstances whatever, baptize by Immersion three thousand persons within the utmost part of that day, which the story will allow us to consider as left for this purpose, after the other transactions, mentioned in it, were ended. The least considera
tion of the time, necessary for each administration, will clearly show this impossibility. I conclude, therefore, without hesitation, that these persons were not immersed.
5. The fact, that the Afusion of the Holy Ghost is called Baptism, is a direct proof that the Afusion of Water is, in the view of the Scriptures, Baptism also.
The only question, with which we are here concerned, respects the mode merely. If, then, the communication of the Holy Ghost, whether for the purpose of enduing with supernatural gifts, or of sanctifying the soul, regularly expressed in the Scriptures by the verbs sxxew, sxxuw, and sxxuvw, to pour out, be in the same Scriptures styled Baptism; then the affusion of water in the ordinance symbolical of this spiritual Baptism, is, in the view of the Scriptures, Baptism also.
6. Christ has expressly taught us, that Immersion is unessential to the administration of this ordinance.
In John xiii. when Christ offered to wash the feet of Peter, he at first opposed it; but, afterwards consenting, requested, that not only his feet, but his hands and his head, might be washed also. Our Saviour replied, He that is washed need not, save to wash his feet; but is clean every whit. The word, here rendered, he that is washed, is, o 282.8Msvos, generally denoting the washing of the whole body, or bathing; and by respectable Critics is supposed to have this meaning here. My reasons for differing from them are the following.
First; The words of Christ are a reply to those of Peter, and intended to oppose the proposal made by him, that his master should wash his hands, and his head, as well as his feet.
But the declaration, that a person bathed has no occasion to wash any part of his body, except his feet, contains no opposition to Peter's proposal ; since Peter was not bathed; nor indeed any relation to it, so far as appears to me, except what is very distant and fanciful.
Secondly; Peter, upon this declaration of Christ, yields the point; and consents to have his feet only washed, on the ground of this declaration.
Had he understood his master to intend by exusvos, a person zoho had been bathed; he would naturally have replied, that this
was not his own situation; at least, he could not have failed to think in this manner.
Thirdly; The opinion of those, who consider Christ as speaking here of a person bathed, is, if I mistake not, that He intends, by a figurative use of this term, a person regenerated, or sanctified. But, in this sense, I cannot see, that the declaration is true. Understood in this manner, Christ declares, that a person, who is regenerated, is, with a small additional purification, perfect. The Scriptures, on the contrary, exhibit mankind as very imperfect in their best estate. Sl. Paul, when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans, and was about fifty-six years of age, and of course far advanced in the Christian character, says, Oh! wretched man, that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? It can hardly be believed, I think, that in the view of Paul, the additional purification, indicated by washing the feet, would have made him a perfect man.
If Christ is supposed here to intend a literal bathing; the meaning is obvious enough, and undoubtedly contains a truth; but the application of it to the case in hand, seems difficult, if not impossible, to be conceived; the situation of a person, who had been bathed, not being that of Peter.
The meaning of the passage, in my view, is this. The washing of the Disciple's feet was a symbolical washing. As Christ performed it, it exhibited, on the one hand, his pre-eminent condescension, and on the other, indicated the fact, that He was the Author of their internal purification. This appears to me decisively proved by the declaration of Christ in answer to Peter, who, at first, not understanding the design of the washing, and thinking it very improper, that his Master should perform it for him, said, Thou shalt never wash may feet. Christ then answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me : that is, “ Unless thou receivest the sanctification from me, of which this washing is a symbol, thou art not my Disciple.” Peter appears to
” me, plainly, to have understood it in the same manner : for, being now acquainted with the real design of Christ, he replied, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands, and my head : Christ rejoined,
, he that is washed, needeth not, save to wash his feet; but is clean every whit. A symbolical washing is perfect although applied
only to the feet; as perfect, as if it were also applied to the hands and the head. If this construction be admitted, it must also be admitted, that the declaration is general, and extends to every other symbolical washing; and therefore, to Baptism, unless excluded by some plain exception.
7. The same doctrine is taught by God in the thirty-sixth chapler of the Prophet Ezekiel.
Here, speaking of the Israelites, He says, Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.
statutes. Whether this is a direct prediction of the ordinance of Baptism, as well as of the Regeneration symbolically denoted by it, or not, is, to the present purpose, a matter of indifference. It cannot be denied, that it is symbolical language, in which God thought it proper to denote Regeneration, by the affusion of his Spirit upon the soul. But if the language describing the act of sprinkling, was proper symbolical language to denote the act of Regenerating, then the act itself of sprinkling, is a proper symbolical act, unless God has made it improper by some plain declaration. The propriety of the act, as a symbol, is evidently the only source of propriety in using the language, descriptive of the act, as a symbolical exhibition of that, which it denotes ; to wit, Regeneration.
To these observations may be added, the unsuitableness of Immersion as an ordinance of public worship, to the circumstances of many nations in the world. In a nation, whose manners are like ours, there is, to a
the least, a degree of impropriety in this practice, which is very unhappy. This, it will be easily seen, is a subject, on which I cannot here expatiate. It will be sufficient to say, that, whatever impressions may be made by this practice in countries, where Bathing is a standing custom ; here, they are of a very unfortu. nate nature, and such as are directly opposed to every religious feeling. I speak from facts, and not from opinions; and from facts, repeated through a century, and therefore operating, not by their novelty, but by their nature.
At the same time, the Health, and the Lives, of those, who are baptized, are often injured, and destroyed. Here, also, I speak