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The Anabaptists of the 16th Century and the Baptists of the 19th Century
By the Late W. T. Beeby, Esq. of London
      We will show, 2ndly. The manner of administering the ordinance.

      As the learned writers already quoted, declare so distinctly the sense and meaning of the word baptism, we shall consider it sufficient to say (without quoting their own words), that they also acknowledge the mode of administering the ordinance in primitive times to have been by immersion, and produce merely a few other authorities in proof of this practice.

      GROTIUS. “Buried with him by baptism. Not only the word baptism, but the very form of it, intimates this. For an immersion of the whole body in water, so that it is no longer beheld, bears an image of that burial which is given to the dead. There was in baptism, as administered, in former times, an image both of a burial, and of a resurrection."

      ARCHBISHOP SECKER. “Burying, as it were, the person baptized in the water, and raising him out of it again, without question, was anciently the more usual method, on account of which, St. Paul speaks of baptism, as representing both the death, and burial, and resurrection of Christ, and what is grounded on them, our being dead and buried to sin, renouncing it, and being acquitted of it; and our rising again to walk in newness of life.”

      MR. JOHN WESLEY. “Buried with him; alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion.” - On Romans vi.

      BISHOP TAYLOR. “The custom of the ancient churches was not sprinkling, but immersion; in pursuance of the sense of the word (baptize) in the commandment and example of our blessed Saviour. Now this was of so sacred account in their esteem, that they did not account it lawful to receive him into the clergy, who had been only sprinkled in his baptism, as we learn from the Epistle of Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch.”

      ARCHBISHOP USHER. “Some there are, that stand strictly for the particular action of diving or dipping the baptized under the water, as the only action which the institution of the sacrament will bear; and our church allows no other, except in case of the child's weakness; and therein is expressed our Saviour's baptism, both the descending into the water, and the rising up.”

      ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON. “We see that to be baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, is to be baptized into the similitude and likeness of him; and the resemblance is this, that, as Christ being dead was buried in the grave, and, after some stay in it, was raised out of it, so Christians, when they were baptized, were immersed into the water, their bodies being covered all over with it, which is therefore called our being buried with him by baptism into death, and after some short stay under water, were raised up again out of it, as if they had been recovered to a new life.” - Works, vol. x. pp. 252, 253.

      ARCHBISHOP SECKER, Bishop Burnett, Bishop Hoadley, Dr. Wall, and many others, state the same.

      CHURCH of ENGLAND. “As we be buried with Christ by our baptism into death, so let us daily die to sin, mortifying and killing the evil motions thereof. And as Christ was raised up from death by the glory of the Father, so let us rise to a new life, and walk continually therein.” - Homily of the resurrection.

      ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA. “The Muscovite priests plunge the child three times over head and ears in water.” -- Article on Russia.

      WITSIUS. That immersion may be practised in cold countries, without any great danger of health and life, the Muscovites prove by their own example; who entirely immerse their infants three times in water, not believing that baptism can be otherwise rightly administered. Nor do they ever use warm, except for those who are sick and weakly.”

      DR, WALL states, that the Greek church does still use immersion, and that so do and ever did all other Christians in the world who never owned the Pope's usurped power. Further, that “all the Christians in Asia, all in Africa, and about one-third part of Europe are of the last sort, (i.e. practise immersion) in which third part of Europe are comprehended the Christians of Graecia, Thracia, Servia, Bulgaria, Rascia, Wallachia, Moldavia, Russia, Nigra, &c.; and even the Muscovites, who, if coldness of the country will excuse, might plead for a dispensation with the most reason of any.”

      MR. GEORGE. WHITEFIELD. “It is certain, that in the words of our text, (Romans vi. 3, 4) there is an allusion to the manner of baptism, which was by immersion: which our own church allows; and insists upon it that children should be immersed in water, unless those that bring the children to be baptized assure the minister that they cannot bear the plunging.”

     “Question - How many parts are there in a sacrament?
     “Answer. - Two: the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.

     “Question. - What is the outward visible sign, or form in baptism?
     “Answer. - Water; wherein the person is baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

      MR. RICHARD BAXTER. “It is commonly confessed by us to the anabaptists, as our commentators declare, that in the apostles' time, the baptized were dipped over head in the water, and that this signified their profession, both of believing the burial and resurrection of Christ; and of their own present renouncing the world and flesh, or dying to sin and living to Christ, or rising again to newness of life, or being buried and risen again with Christ, as the apostle expoundeth (Colossians iii. and Romans vi.) and though we have thought it lawful to disuse the manner of dipping, and to use less water, yet we presume not to change the use and signification of it.”

      DR. WHITBY. “It being so expressly declared here (Romans vi. 24, and Colossians ii. 12) that we are buried truth Christ in baptism by being buried under water; and the argument to oblige us to a conformity to his death, by dying to sin, being taken hence; and this immersion being religiously observed by all Christians for thirteen centuries, and approved by our church; and the change of it into sprinkling, even without any allowance from the Author of this institution, being that which the Romanist still urgeth to justify his refusal of the cup to the laity; it were to be wished that this custom might be again of general use, and aspersion only permitted, as of old, in case of the Clinici, or those in present danger of death.”

      DR. WALL. “Their (the primitive Christians') general and ordinary way was to baptize by immersion or dipping the person, whether it were an infant, or grown man, or woman, into the water. This is so plain and clear by an infinite number of passages, that as one cannot but pity the weak endeavors of such Pedobaptists as would maintain the negative of it; so also we ought to disown and show a dislike of the profane scoff, which some people give to the English Anti-pedobaptists, merely for their use of dipping.

      “ ‘Tis a great want of prudence, as well as of honesty, to refuse to grant to an adversary what is certainly true, and may be proved so. It creates jealousy of all the rest that one says.
     ‘Tis plain that the ordinary and general practice of St. John, the apostles, and primitive church, was to baptize by putting the person into the water, or causing him to go into the water.”

      “John iii. 23, Mark i. 5, Acts viii. 58, are undeniable proofs that the baptized person went ordinarily into the water, and sometimes the baptist too. We should not know by these accounts whether the whole body of the baptized was put under water, head and all, were it not for two later proofs, which seem to me to put it out of question. One, that St. Paul does twice, in an allusive way of speaking, call baptism a burial; which allusion is not so proper, if we conceive them to have gone into the water only up to the armpits, &c. as it is if their whole body was immersed.”

      The first book of Common Prayer, appointed by authority of the King and Parliament, to be used in all churches, was that at the time of the Reformation, in the reign of Edward VI. 1549; in which “Trine immersion” was the prescribed mode of baptism; but this was altered three years after, in the edition of 1552, to single immersion, as it continues to the present day.

      CHURCH OF ENGLAND. Public Baptism of Infants. “Then the priest shall take the child into his hands, and shall say to the god-fathers and god-mothers, ‘Name this child.’ And then, naming it after them (if they shall certify him that the child will endure it), he shall dip it in the water, discreetly and warily, saying,” &c. But if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it, saying the aforesaid words.” (Book of Common Prayer. Editions of 1552, 1559, 1638, 1774, to the present time.)

      “Baptism of such as are of riper years. ‘When any such persons as are of riper years are to be baptized, timely notice shall be given to the Bishop, or whom he shall appoint for that purpose, a week before, at the least, by the parents or some other discreet persons, that so a due care may be taken for their examination, whether they be sufficiently instructed in the principles of the Christian religion; and that they may be exhorted to prepare themselves with prayers and fasting for the receiving of this holy sacrament.’ ” After various prayers, questions, and answers prescribed, “Then shall the priest say, “O merciful God, grant that the old Adam, in these persons may be buried, that the new man may be raised up in them. Amen!’ ” After which and other prayers, “then shall the priest take each person to be baptized by the right hand, and placing him conveniently by the font, according to his discretion, shall ask the godfathers and godmothers the name; and then shall dip him in the water, or pour water upon him.” At the close of the service, speaking to the newly-baptized persons, he shall proceed and say - “And as for you who now have, by baptism, put on Christ, it is your part and duty also, being made the children of God, and of the light, by faith in Jesus Christ, to walk answerably to your Christian calling, and as becometh the children of light; remembering always that baptism representeth unto us our profession: which is to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him; that as he died and rose again for us, so should we who are baptized die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living.” -- (Book of Common Prayer. Editions of 1774 to the present time.)

      As to the introduction and process of sprinkling, the Edinburgh Cyclopaedia gives the following account:

      “The first law for sprinkling was obtained in the following manner: Pope Stephen II. being driven from Rome by Adolphus, king of the Lombards in 753, fled to Pepin, who, a short time before, had usurped the crown of France. Whilst he remained there, the monks of Cressy, in Brittany, consulted him whether, in case of necessity, baptism poured on the head of the infant would be lawful. Stephen replied that it would. But though the truth of this fact should be allowed - which, however, some Catholics deny - yet pouring, or sprinkling, was admitted only in cases of necessity. It was not till the year 1811 that the legislature, in a council held at Ravenna, declared immersion or sprinkling to be indifferent. In Scotland, however, sprinkling was never practised in ordinary cases, till after the Reformation (about the middle of the sixteenth century). From Scotland it made its way into England, in the reign of Elizabeth, but was not authorized in the Established Church.”—Article. Baptism.

      Such is the testimony which these learned, and some of them eminently pious, men afford us of the meaning of the word baptism, and the practice of the apostles, primitive Christians, and more modern churches. The fact, as Dr. Wall says, “is so plain and clear,” that it would be “a great want of prudence and of honesty” to attempt to deny what can thus be proved.

      Having, then, as we trust, satisfied the reader as to the word and the practice, that baptism or immersion was the emblem used by the apostles and first churches, to signify that Christians “are buried by baptism with Christ their Lord;" and as he was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so they, at their baptism, are likewise raised up to walk in newness of life, through the faith of the operation of God, which alone can produce the spiritual and saving effect which the sacred right was to signify: we will now inquire who are,

      3rdly, The proper subjects to be baptized.

      Bishop Burnett says, “There is no express precept or rule given in the New Testament for baptism of infants."

      DR. WALL. “Among all the persons that are 1ecorded as baptized by the apostles, there is no express mention of any infant - there is indeed no express mention of any children baptized by them.”

      MR. FULLER. “We do freely confess, that there is neither express precept nor precedent, in the New Testament for the baptizing of infants.”

      LUTHER. “It cannot be proved by the sacred Scripture, that infant baptism was instituted by Christ, or begun by the first Christians after the apostles.”

      MR. BAXTER. “If there can be no example given in Scripture of any one that was baptized without the profession of a saving faith, nor any precept for so doing, then must we not baptize any without it. But the antecedent is true; therefore so is the consequent. In a word, I know of no one word in Scripture that giveth us the least intimation that ever man was baptized without a profession of a saving faith, or that "giveth the least encouragement to baptize any upon another faith.”

      CALVIN, in his fourth Book of Institutes, chapter xvi. confesseth, that it is nowhere expressly mentioned by the Evangelists that any one child was by the apostles baptized. To the same purpose are Staphilus, Melancthon, and Zuinglius quoted.

      VITRINGA. “That some in the ancient church, long ago, doubted, and that others now doubt, whether infants ought to be baptized, proceeds principally, I think from hence; it is not related, in fact, in the Gospels and Acts of the primitive church, that infants were baptized by Christ, or by the apsotles.”

      MR. SAMUEL PALMER. “There is nothing in the words of the institution, nor in any after-accounts of the administration of this rite, respecting the baptism of infants: there is not a single precept for, nor example of, this practice through the whole New Testament.”

      STAFFERUS. “There is not any express command, in the Holy Scripture, concerning the baptism of infants.”

      LIMBORCH. “There is no express command for it (infant baptism) in Scripture; nay, all those passages wherein baptism is commanded, do immediately relate to adult persons, since they are ordered to be instructed, and faith is pre-requisite as a necessary qualification, which are peculiar to the adult alone. There is no instance that can be produced from whence it may indisputably be inferred, that any child was baptized by the apostles. The necessity of Paedobaptism was never asserted by any council before that of Carthage, held in the year 418. We own that there is no precept, no undoubted instance, in Scripture, of infant baptism.”

      MR. CAWDRY. “The Scriptures are not clear, that infant baptism was an apostolic practice.” (On the contrary, they are so clear, that there is no mention whatever of any such practice.)

      DR. FIELD. “The baptism of infants is therefore named a tradition, because it is not expressly delivered in Scripture, that the apostles did baptize infants; nor any express precept there found, that they should do so.”

      BISHOP SANDERSON. “The baptism of infants, and the sprinkling of water in baptism, instead of immersing the whole body, must be exterminated from the church, according to their principle; i.e. that nothing can be lawfully performed, much less required in the affairs of religion, which is not either commanded by God, in the Scripture, or at least recommended by a laudable example.

      BISHOP STILLINGFLEET. “Whether baptism shall be administered to infants or no, is not set down in express words, but left to be gathered by analogy and consequences.”

      DR. TOWERSON. “That which seems to stick much with the adversaries of infant baptism, and is accordingly urged at all times, against the friends or asserters of it is, the want of an express command, or direction, for the administering of baptism to them; - which objection seems to be the more reasonable, because baptism, as well as other sacraments, receiving all its force from institution, they may seem to have a right to, or benefit by it, who appear not by the institution of that sacrament to be entitled to it; but rather by the qualifications it requires, to be excluded from it.

      “These Pedobaptists, it will be seen, agree that there is no express precept nor plain example, for infant baptism recorded in the New Testament. That all those places where baptism is commanded, regard none but adults. That there is no instance from which it can be inferred, incontrovertibly, that any child was baptized by the apostles. And here we may demand, in the remarkable words of Mr. Baxter, ‘What man dare go in a way which hath neither precept nor example to warrant it, from a way that hath a full current of both?” And we may add, shall we then presume to say, that we have obeyed the positive institutions of the Saviour, for which we have in his Testament both precept and example, when we have neither attended to the precept nor the example, viz., previous repentance and faith, and the emblematical rite, by immersion, of death, burial, and resurrection?

      “Those baptized by John confessed their sins, and were baptized in Jordan, and at Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there. Matthew iii. 6; Mark i. 5; John iii. 23. Do those who pour or sprinkle, go to a river to do it, or ever give as a reason for their pouring or sprinkling at a certain place, that there was much water (or many waters) there?”

      “Jesus Christ was baptized in Jordan when he was about thirty years of age, and was sanctioned and a proved by his Heavenly Father.” Mark i. 9. Luke iii. 22, 23.

      “John's disciples informed him, that all men came to Christ to be baptized, and the Pharisees heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.” John iii. 26, and iv. 1.

      “The Lord Jesus Christ gave the command to teach and baptize.” Matt. xxviii. 19; Mark xvi. 15, 16.

      “At the day of Pentecost, they who gladly received the word were baptized, and they afterwards continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts, ii. 41, 42, 47.

      “At Samaria, those who believed were baptized, both men and women.” Acts viii. i2.

      “The Eunuch openly avowed his faith (in reply to Philip's statement, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest), and went down into the water, and was baptized.” Acts viii. 35-39.

      “Saul of Tarsus, after his sight was restored, and he had received the Holy Ghost, arose and was baptized. Acts ix. 17, 18.

      “And that he was immersed, is clear from Romans vi. 4. We are buried with him in baptism.” See Whitfield, Wesley, and Doddridge, on this text.

      “Cornelius and his friends heard Peter, received the Holy Ghost, and were baptized.” Acts x. 44-48.

      “Lydia heard Paul and Silas, the Lord opened her heart, and she was baptized, and her household.” Paul afterwards went to her house, and “comforted the brethren.” They were not infants. Acts xvi. 14, 15, 40.

      “The jailer and all his house, heard the word and were baptized, believing and rejoicing in God.” Acts xvi. 32-34.

      “Crispus and all his house, and many Corinthians, heard, believed, and were baptized.” Acts xviii. 8.

      “The disciples at Ephesus heard, and were baptized.” Acts xix. 5.

      The household of Stephanas, baptized by Paul, were the first fruits of Achaia, and addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” I Corinthians i. 16, and xvi. 15.

[To be Continued.]

[From The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, April, 1843, pp. 97-103; via Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.].

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