« PreviousContinue »
the blood of the Lamb," Rev. vii. 14. There are, in such expressions, the ideas of sprinkling, and ablution ; but who ever heard of the blood of immersion ? Never was such an idea suggested by any thing, whether literal or figurative, under the law, or under the gospel. Unfortunately, however, it is not only suggested, but associated with the most exalted joys of the people of God, by the excellent Cowper, in the beginning of one of his most beautiful hymns.
“ There is a fountain fill'd with blood,
I dare say many sing this stanza with delight, without remarking any impropriety. For my own part, I must confess, that, much as I admire this hymn, in other respects, I have always felt the unwarrantable allusion in its commencement to be of a distressing nature. It seems to me to form a wonderful, and, I am happy to say, a solitary, exception to the accuracy and elegance of its pious and accomplished author. It may not be such good versification, but I submit whether it is not more scriptural language to say,
“ There is a fountain fill'd with blood,
See Hebrews xii. 24.
My Antipædobaptist brethren are naturally gratifi
ed at the admission by some theoretical Immersionists, that, as to the mode of Baptism, “all antiquity is in their favour.' But of all the arguments which have been used in the controversy, there is not one of greater sound, or less weight, than this pompous asseveration. What do the words, “ all antiquity," mean? In the mouths of those who make this concession, they mean the antiquity of the Cyprianic age. In this sense, all antiquity is in favour, not only of immersion Baptism, and of the trine immersion, but of all the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, and, with a little latitude of interpretation, of all the rites and ceremonies of the Church of Rome. The same remark will apply to the superstitious practices of the Greek church. The scriptures inform us, that the mystery of iniquity was already working before the apostles had finished their course. The favour, therefore, of ecclesiastical antiquity we had better decline, unless it be itself countenanced by the favour of divine inspiration.
I have dwelt at considerable length, on the mode of Baptism, not only because I was led to do so, in vindication of the explanations in my Grammar and Lexicon, but because a doubt about the mode shakes our faith, in regard to this service, no less than a doubt about the extent of the administration; and because the Antipædobaptists think that, on this point at least, their advantage is unquestionable. I am also persuaded, that this part of the subject has
See Candid Statement,' Preface, p. xiii.
seldom received that justice which is due to it, even from those who practise the mode which is agreeable to the word of God, but who, on this point, have of ten condemned themselves in the thing which they allowed, or have treated the whole question as unworthy of consideration : a negligence frequently attributed to the concealed conviction of a bad cause.
ADMINISTRATION OF BAPTISM.
Nothing can be more direct and obvious than the argument from scripture for infant Baptism. It rests on the simple principle that the history of the Acts of the Apostles is of the same authority with that of the four gospels. When this is granted, it evidently follows, that the practice of Baptism before the resurrection of Christ is explained by the practice after it; and that this practice, as far as it is mentioned in scripture, being followed by Apostles, or by evangelists and christian brethren, under their inspection and command, is an example, and a rule of duty, to christians, and particularly to ministers of the gospel, in all ages.
As the reader is probably aware, I refer to the well known fact, that, according to the history of the Acts of the Apostles, Baptism was administered to believers, and their houses. This fact is mentioned, not in the general history of the propagation of the gospel, but in the particular history of its propagation among the Gentiles. The first case of family Baptism is that of Cornelius and his family, Acts x. the first fruits from among the Gentiles in Cæsarea. The second case is that of Lydia and her family, and the third that of the jailor and his family; the first fruits of Macedonia, Acts xvi. The fourth is that of the family of Stephanas ; the first fruits of Achaia, 1 Cor. i. 16. and xvi. 15. Of the probability of more cases being expressly mentioned in scripture, I shall say, as Paul does, of the numbers he baptized at Corinth, “Besides I know not whether there be any other.”
In the account given of the cases, mentioned above, it is evident that the administration of Baptism to families was nothing new. They were not singular cases, or rare cases, or cases to be accounted for, and justified, by any peculiarity of circumstances; such as had not happened before, and might not soon happen again. The question put by Peter in the house of Cornelius, Acts X. 47. regarded, not the baptizing of the family along with the head of it, but the baptizing of Gentiles as well as Jews, since Gentiles as well as Jews, had received the Holy Spirit. In like manner, the Baptism of Lydia and her family is mentioned as, then, a matter of course." And when she was baptized, and her house." -Acts xvi. 15. The same observation will apply to the Baptism of the jailor's family, and to that of Stephanas.
Although, therefore, it is, in the Acts of the Apostles, that family Baptism is first mentioned, it was not, for the first time, then practised. There is but“one Baptism," Eph. iv. 5. in the church of God; and, from first to last in scripture history, there is no reason to doubt that it was administered in one way. On these grounds, we are supported in holding, that family Baptism was practised from the beginning ; and we request the reader to examine, whether the language of the gospels, does not always correspond with this tenet. There were always children in attendance during our Saviour's ministry. Matt. xviii. 2-6. "
Ànd Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt. xxi. 15, 16. “ And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David ; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea,