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Reasons For Becoming A Baptist
* By W. B. Crisler, A. M., 1854
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      A decent respect for the opinions of others, especially my brethren with whom I have been heretofore connected, and from whom I am now about to be separated in church relationship, impels me to make a few remarks upon this occasion. A regard also for myself, in order that I may not be misunderstood in the step I am about to take, prevents me from silence at this time. I fain would act out the convictions of my mind silently; I fain would descend into this water, and be baptized in the way I verily believe my Saviour commands his disciples, in all ages, to be baptized, even upon a profession of their faith in him; if in this, all, and especially my Methodist brethren, could read the tablet of my heart, and know the motives that impel me to the act. A few who know me best will appreciate me correctly. To them I need not address myself. There are others, perhaps, who will attribute such motives to me, as should not influence a man of the world, much less a Christian. To such I address myself upon this occasion particularly. And yet there is another class of persons, who may not be disposed to attribute any motives, good or bad, to me; who wish simply to learn something of the reason why I have become
* Reasons for Becoming a Baptist: A discourse delivered in the Bank Street Baptist church, New Albany, by W. B. Crisler, A. M.

a Baptist. To such I also address myself. It cannot be expected, however, that I should go into a detailed argument at this time. Your patience, and the hour I have allotted to myself, will not permit. I design only to let the public into a knowledge of a few things, which only a few persons have heretofore known; for in the agitation of mind which I have passed through in the last four years, upon this subject, I have sought the companionship of but few, contenting myself by gleaming from every source that came in my way, the arguments pro et con, upon this subject, I think I have pretty thoroughly ranged the field of argument touching the mode and subjects of baptism. All the arguments of any moment in determining the question have, from time to time, passed through my mind. I have arrested them. I have looked at them, I have duly weighed them ere I let them pass. In this matter I have endeavored to act as an impartial judge, who sits in judgment to hear patiently both sides of a cause before he decides; and when heard, the decision is given according to law and evidence. So have I endeavored to decide this question. I trust I have listened to all the witnesses as the impartial judge. I have heard doctors of divinity. I have consulted lexicons. Classic Greek has testified. Hebraistic Greek has been on the stand. The Fathers have come along in solemn phalanx, bearing testimony on this subject; and last, but not least, our own English bible has spoken; and is it presumption then in me, after hearing all these witnesses, perhaps not as learnedly as some, yet sufficiently, I think, to decide this question for myself? I say for myself; for another I do not decide. I hold that all such questions we are to decide for ourselves. We are to look at the testimony, and in fear of God, at whose bar we are to be judged, we are to make the decision. And no one, after he has thoroughly canvassed the subject, who feels the dignity of his own mind, and the grandeur of that God who dwelleth in light unapproachable, and whose prerogative it is to govern all intelligence, can hesitate for a moment to decide all questions touching the grand assizes of eternity.

      We, as Protestant Christians, hold that the bible alone is to be the rule of our faith and practice; or as expressed in the words of Chillingworth, “The bible! the bible alone is the religion of

Protestants.” This we hold as Protestant in contradistinction to the Popish belief in tradition and the decisions of councils. We want no tradition, no decisions of councils, bishops, or popes. We want the pure Word of Him who presides in the councils of Heaven. And to this stern test we bring all the decisions of popes, cardinals, councils, doctors of divinity, and all others, who presume to speak of divine things. If they cannot stand this test they fall as chaff to the pround to be blown away.

      I design to give you in brief the results of my investigations.


      The first thing that shook my confidence in pouring and sprinkling, as modes of baptism, was the Greek word baptizo and its cognates. About the first word, after I commenced the study of Greek, whose meaning I sought out, aside from my prescribed lesson, was that of this word baptizo. To my surprise, I did not find sprinkle or pour given as definitions. I searched in vain in the Lexicons to find these definitions, but never could I find sprinkle or pour, except in one, in which sprinkle was given as the seventh meaning. The Lexicons always set out with immerse, dip, plunge, overwhelm, as the definitions of baptizo. And in all the figurative definitions reference is always had to the primary meaning. If to wash is given, the person or thing washed is to be immersed. If to dye, it is to be done by immersion. So far as classic Greek is concerned, there is no exception to this rule. Baptizo and its cognates always in classic Greek contain the idea of immersion. I make this assertion not dogmatically, but as being the result of my investigations on this point. I know that learned men have tried to show that the idea of immersion is not always contained in the word. Cases have been adduced to establish their view. But I must candidly say that all these cases drawn from classic Greek fail of their purpose, and so far from establishing pouring or sprinkling, have on the contrary, in every case I remember, had the effect to strengthen, rather than weaken, the idea of immersion in the word. I might cite a number of these cases, but it is not necessary, as I do

results of my investigations . But it has been said that classic Greek cannot determine this matter. Indeed, Mr. Hibbard, of the Genesee Conference, in his work on Baptism , page 52, says: “They,” (i.e., those who attempt to argue from the meaning of baptizo in classic Greek, to its meaning in the New Testament,) “might as well have gone to Homer, Aristotle, and Xenophon to prove the doctrines of St. Paul.” Now, to this view I never could give my consent. It violates common sense. Homer, Aristotle, and Xenophon are no authority for any doctrine in the New Testament, but they are good authority for the philological use of Greek words. Classic Greek is to determine the use of Greek words every where, unless it can be proved that they are used in a different sense, in the places where found. It seems to me that no one can object to this canon. Now, that baptizo is used in the New Testament differently from its use in classic Greek, I could never see. There are what are denominated Hebraisms in the New Testament, consisting mostly, I believe, of references to the ceremonies and rites of the Old Testament; yet in these Hebraisms I have still to learn that a single Greek word is changed from its original mean ing. God took the Greek as it was, a perfected language, in which to reveal his will in the new dispensation. I consider it was no part of his design to change his language, but to use it as a vehicle to convey ideas, which every Greek might understand. Certainly, if this was not his design great confusion would be introduced in our interpretation of what he intends to reveal, some clinging to a classical use of words, while others to a theological use. And I may say that such a confusion does exist in the minds of many, thereby causing a perversion of the plainest declarations of the Bible. Now, let us examine what is the fact in regard to the use of this word baptizo in the New Testament. Is there reason to think it is used differently from its ordinary and only meaning in the Greek authors? I must say there is no reason of which I am acquainted; and assiduously have I searched to see this difference. Remember that the burden of proof rests on those who contend that baptizo means a different thing in the New Testament from its meaning in classic Greek. They have to prove this difference. They have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. All admit that
baptizo means immerse. None scarcely can be found so reckless of truth and his reputation as a scholar, as to deny this. But Pedobaptists say it is a generic word, having no particular reference to mode, or rather including all modes of the application of water to the subject to be baptized. Baptists say it is a specific word - a word that conveys the idea of mode in all cases, and that mode is immersion. Every one who can reason, must see that the onus probandi, or burden of proof, lies on Pedobaptists. They have to prove that the word means to pour or sprinkle, or cease to say that baptizo is a generic term. Baptists are not required to prove that it means to immerse, because that is always admitted. Pedobaptists have attempted to prove that the word has these different meanings, but to my mind all such attempts have been failures. There is nothing surely in the circumstances of Christ's baptism in Jordan to make us think be was sprinkled or poured upon. But it seems to me every one reading this simple narrative, would always get the idea that our Saviour was immersed. I must say that when a child, I got this idea, before I knew anything of the learned disquisitions on pouring, sprinkling, or immersion - before I knew that there was any question at all about the matter. It may be proper here for me to quote from the Notes of George Campbell, a learned Presbyterian divine of Scotland, on the third chapter of Matthew, in which he narrated the baptism of our Saviour. He says, “the word baptizein,” the infinitive mood of baptizo, “both in sacred authors and classical, signifies to dip, to plunge, to immerse, and was rendered by Tertullian, the oldest of the Latin Fathers, tingere, the term used for dyeing cloth, which was by immersion. It is always construed suitable to this meaning.” Further on in the same note he says, “when, therefore, the Greek word baptizo is adopted, I may say, rather than translated into modern languages, the mode of construction ought to be preserved so far as may conduce to suggest its original import. It is to be regretted that we have so much evidence that even good and learned men allow their judgments to be warped by the sentiments and customs of the sect which they prefer. The true partizan of whatever denomination, always inclines to correct the diction of the spirit by that of the party.”

      The case of the Eunuch certainly does not lead us to infer that he was baptized by sprinkling. But circumstantially it proves

immersion as clearly as the baptism of our Saviour. The circumstances under which John baptized certainly look like immersion was the mode. It is said that he “baptized in Jordan,” “in Enon, because there was much water there.” To say that he had the people all arranged along the shore, and with some hysop sprinkled them, seems to me to be drawing considerably upon the imagination, John Calvin, the founder of Presbyterianism, in some remarks on John iii: 22-23, says: “From these words we may infer that John and Christ administered baptism by plunging the whole body be neath the water.” On Acts viii:38, he says: “Here we see the rite used among the men of old times, in baptism, for they put all the body into the water. Now, the use is this, that the minister doth only sprinkle the body, or the head. But we ought not to stand so much about a small difference of a ceremony, that we should, therefore, divide the church, or trouble the same with brawls, . . . . . wherefore the church did grant to herself liberty since the beginning, to change the rites somewhat, excepting the substance.” I know that a good deal has been said about the Greek prepositions, viz: ek, eis, en, apo, etc. I am free to admit that they of themselves prove nothing conclusively. But taken in connection with baptizo, and the circumstances of baptism in the river Jordan, and “in Enon, because there was much water there,” they prove a great deal for immersion. Instance the use of apo. When it is said Christ came up straightway out of the water, or from the water, we are to determine the meaning of apo (i.e. whether it means out of or from) by the connection in which it is used. It is here used with baptisthesis and anebe from anabaino, which means to arise, to emerge, to ascend; that is with two words, the one baptisthesis, implying that an immersion had taken place, and the other, anebe, implying a coming up from the element in which the immersion had taken place, that is an emergence. Hence we see, that to follow the strict propriety of the usage of the language, we should translate apo, out of, instead of from. The same general remarks may be made of the other prepositions. I must in this connection advert to the Greek preposition en, to show how we may be led astray by an imperfect, or rather an improper translation. We sometimes hear it asserted that the Bible says “baptized with water,” “baptized with the Holy Ghost,” and that these expressions
are inconsistent with immersion; it being a bad use of language to say “immersed with water,” “immersed with the Holy Ghost.” But any one who can read the Greek Testament knows that the Greek says baptized, “en hudati,” baptized “en hagio pneumati,” i.e., “in water,” “in the Holy Spirit;” en in Greek having precisely the same force that it has in our language. Indeed, our word in comes, as any one can see, from the Greek en, simply by changing the e into i. I will here quote the words of Dr. George Campbell, the Presbyterian to whom I have already referred on this point. I quote from his notes on Matthew 3d chapter. In remarking on the Greek en hudati, en hagio pneumati, translated into the English Testament, with water, with the Holy Ghost, he says: “The Vulgate,” a Latin translation of the Greek Testament, has “in aqua , in Spiritu Sancti,” and “in this the Latin is not more explicit than the Greek.” “I am sorry,” says he, “to observe that the Popish translators from the Vulgate have shown greater veneration for the style of that version than of the original. Yet so inconsistent are the interpreters last mentioned, that some of them have not scrupled to render en to Jordane, in the sixth verse, in Jordan, though nothing can be plainer, than that if there be any incongruity in the expression in water, this in Jordan must be equally incongruous. But they have seen that the preposition in could not be avoided there, without adopting a circumlocution, and saying with the water of Jordan, which would have made their deviation from the text too glaring.” There is as much propriety in saying, “baptized with the Jordan,” “baptized with the wilderness,” as “baptized with water,” “baptized with the Holy Ghost.” I mean so far as the original Greek is concerned, for the same preposition en is used in all these cases. And why the translators made a difference in the translation, you have aready seen from the quotation from Dr. George Campbell. I will dismiss the prepositions by saying that the argument from them, so far as I can ascertain, is on the Baptist side. Some have said that the three thousand, on the day of Pentecost, could not have been immersed. Why not? Because there was not time enough, and because there was not water enough in Jerusalem. I believe it takes about as long to sprinkle or pour a person as it does to immerse him. I think either can be done in about one half minute.
If this is so, then the twelve apostles and seventy disciples could have baptized the three thousand without much difficulty about time, as any one can see by making the calculation. But where could the water be procured? It is sufficient to say that where there is water enough for such a city as Jerusalem, for the ordinary and necessary purposes of life, and for their baths, (for every one cognizant with Eastern manners, knows that a bath was an essential appendage to every dwelling,) there would be enough for immersion. But in regard to that remarkable passage in Mark vii:4, how can it be reconciled with immersion? It reads thus: “And when they,” (the Scribes and Pharisees) “come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups and pots, brazen vegsels and tables.” The Greek word here translated “wash” is baptisontai, and the word “washing” is the Greek noun baptismous. Now, the objection here to immersion is, that it would be too much trouble to bathe every time they came from market; and to immerse tables is beyond the credence of the most credulous. They would have to take them apart in order to do this. Now let us meet this difficult passage fairly. This I will attempt. It is said that the Scribes and Pharisees, when they return from the markets, “wash,” “baptize,” that is bathe themselves, or their hands. If it were only the hands, then certainly there is no difficulty in the way of immersion . But take it for granted that it was the whole body which was washed or baptized. Then the question is, how was it done? To bathe was the custom. It was enjoined by the law of Moses that when anything unclean had been touched, or any defilement incurred, to go through a process of purification. In the time of our Saviour, owing to the traditions of the Elders, the most frivolous circumstance, even going to the markets, made it necessary to go through this process of cleansing. And to show that it was done by bathing the whole body in water, I will here quote you the language of Buck, a celebrated Pedobaptist divine and author. In his Theological Dictionary, which I believe is a standard work, under the head - “Impurity,” he says: “These legal pollutions were generally removed by bathing, and lasted no longer than the evening. The person polluted plunged over head into the water, and either had his clothes on when he did so, or washed himself and
his clothes separately.” I quote this to show the error into which many have fallen, in supposing that these ceremonial purifications were performed by sprinkling alone. Sprinkling was used in many of these ceremonies, but they did not stop with this. The purification was performed by bathing the whole body, and washing the clothes, which was done by dipping them in water. But tables were to be immersed, and is it probable that they would go to so much trouble as to take them apart and put them io water! Any one who can read the Greek Testament, knows that the Greek word klinon, here translated “tables,” means “ beds,” “couches”. It is the same word employed by our Saviour, when he told the man sick of the palsy to take up his “bed” and go to his house. It consisted simply in something similar to a quilt or carpet, answering to our pallet. These were used by the Orientals to recline upon at their meals, and were generally large enough for three persons. Now, these couches were baptized if any impure person or animal touched them, such as a leprous person, a dead body, a dog, etc. It is not said that they were thus purified every day. How often we are not told, but as often, I suppose, as they became ceremonially impure. The law of purification was, whatever could not stand the test of fire must pass through water. And though it might have been inconvenient to immerse these couches or mats as often as their strict notion of purity demanded, yet what is there too difficult for blind superstition to do? Look at the history of Popery and Paganism; and see the rigorous penances, and self-mortifications to wbich their devotees have always smilingly submitted . No one can doubt, it appears to me, that the superstitious Scribes and Pharisees would willingly go to the trouble of bathing themselves when they came from the markets, and also that they would immerse their “beds” or “mats” and wait till they were dry. This passage, which is generally considered so difficult for immersionists, has been given up by the learned world as a passage highly favorable to their view. This I will attempt to show by a brief reference to the original Greek, and one or two quotations from learned Pedobaptist authors. In the third verse it is said: “For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the Elders.” The Greek word here translated “wash” is nipsoontai, but in the fourth verse, the Greek word “wash” is baptisoontai.
The first, nipsoontai, means a washing by pouring the water or liquid on the thing washed; the latter, baptisoontai, a washing by an immersion of the thing or person washed, in the water or liquid used. Such is the use of the words in the Greek language. Now, if the Evangelist intended to convey the same idea in these two verses by the word translated “wash” in our version, why did he not use the same Greek word in both? Why did he take two words which are never synonymous, as to mode, unless he intended by the one, nipsoontai, to wash the hands by pouring the water on them, and by the other, baptisoontai, to wash the hands or the body by an immersion! This distinction certainly was intended, and it seems to me every Greek scholar must see the strength of this argument. I here quote on this point Dr. Lightfoot, a learned Pedobaptist, endorsed, as I believe, by Dr. A. Clarke, the Methodist commentator, than whom there is scarcely better authority on such points. Dr. Lightfoot says: “The Jews used the washing of hands, and the plunging of the hands. And the word nipsoontai, “wash,” in our Evangelist, seems to answer to the former - and baptisoontai, baptize, to the latter . . . . . Those who remain at home eat not unless they wash the fist. But those that come from the market eat not unless they plunge their fist into the water, being ignorant and uncertain what uncleanness they came near unto in the market. The phrase, therefore, seems to be meant of the immersion or plunging of the hands only.”

      Dr. George Campbell, of Scotland, a Pedobaptist, says on this passage: “For illustrating this passage, let it be observed, first, that the two verbs rendered wash in the English translation, are different in the original. The first is nipsoontai, properly translated wash, the second is baptisoontai, which limits us to a particular mode of washing, for baptizo denotes to plunge, to dip . This is more especially the import when the words are, as here, opposed to each other.” Accordingly Dr. Campbell translates the passage thus: “For the Pharisees eat not until they have washed their hands by pouring a little water upon them; and if they be come from the market, by dipping them.”

      Rosenmuller, in his notes on this passage, speaks of two modes of washing the hands, namely: “Immersion of the hands in water, and when one hand is washed by the other.” It seems clear to me from the above facts, and admissions of Pedobaptists themselves,

that captlsoonta here translated “wash” in the English version, ought to be translated immerse in accordance with the uniforin signification of the word in classic Greek. Whether the whole body or the hands only were dipped it makes no difference so far as the argument is concerned. The question is, whether the washing here spoken of was a dipping or not. I think I have amply proved that it was a dipping, and that proved the point is gained. I believe, however, that it was the whole body immersed, not simply the hands. The third verse has ean me baptisoontai cheiras, “unless they wash their hands,” while the fourth verse has only ean me baptisoontai, without cheiras, “hands,” and baptisoontai is in the middle voice, which makes the verb reflexive in its nature, i.e., the action terminates on the subject of the verb, and we are not at liberty to limit the reflex nature of the verb to merely a portion of the subject, namely, the “hands,” unless it is indicated or called for by the context, or by an object expressed, thus limiting to a portion of the subject. Such I believe to be a rule of interpretation. I there fore conclude that the whole body was dipped, not the hands alone. And the rule of the Jews in regard to any vessel or couch, which became unclean, was to dip it into water.

      We find it in Leviticus xi:32, where it is directed that any vessel upon which the dead body of an unclean animal had fallen: “Whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water” in order to be cleansed. “The only exception to this was in respect to earthen vessels, which being thus polluted, were to be broken into pieces,” (verse 38). And we are informed that the Jews were so strict in carrying out this regulation of cleansing articles by putting under water, that if anything should be adhering to them, such as pitch, or any fringe left uncovered by the water, the washing was considered as not properly performed, and had to be repeated.

      I have been longer here than I otherwise would have been, if this passage were not claimed by Pedobaptists as strongly favoring their view.

      Immersion is admitted by all to be a mode of baptism; sprinkling and pouring are not; therefore, those who say that they are mcdes - scriptural modes - must prove it. And this proof must be so clear that no reasonable, unprejudiced mind can avoid the

conclusion. I have been trying for four years past to convince myself that baptize means to “pour” or “sprinkle” as well as to “immerse,” i.e., that “baptize” is a mere generic word, not specific. Especially in the New Testament have I looked for this variety of signification, for in classic Greek I have long since abandoned the hope of finding such meanings. I have regarded this passage, in Mark, as being the passage to sustain pouring and sprinkling. And the reason I thought so was, because I understood that purification was performed by hyssop sprinkling alone, and that it was impossible to immerse tables without taking them apart, mistaking, or rather being led astray by the translation, as to what tables mean in this place. Besides the difference of the Greek words translated “wash” in the third and fourth verses, by which it becomes evident that the washing referred to in the fourth verse was an immersion, and the custom of the Jews to immerse articles which had become impure, were unknown to me, and as I believe is generally the case with others. I have endeavored to give a fair and plain statement on this point.

      I will now direct your attention to two, and only two more passages under this head, which always seemed to me to favor immersion. Indeed there is no donbt in my mind that they refer to immersion. I allude to Colossians ii:12, and Romans vi:3–4: “Buried with him in baptism wherein also ye are risen with him throngh the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death; therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we, also, should walk in newness of life.” Here a figure is drawn, as I believe, from the mode and signification of baptism, to direct the mind to spirituality in Christ.

      Dr. Chalmers, the great Presbyterian divine, and moral philosopher of Scotland, says reference here is to the apostolic mode of administering baptism by immersion. I will quote you his words from his lecture on Romans vi:3–7. He says: “The original meaning of the word baptism is immersion, and though we regard it as a point of indifference, whether the ordinance so named be performed in this way or by sprinkling, yet we doubt not, that the prevalent style of administration in the apostle's days, was by an actual

submerging the whole body under water. We advert to this for the purpose of throwing light on the analogy that is instituted in these verses. Jesus Christ by death underwent this sort of baptism - even immersion under the surface of the ground, whence he soon emerged again by his resurrection. We, by being baptized into his death, are conceived to have made aa similar translation. In the act of descending under the water of baptism, to have resigned an old life, and in the act of ascending to emerge into a second or new life, along the course of which it is our part to maintain a strenuous avoidance of that sin, which as good as expunged the being we had formerly, and a strenuous prosecution of that holiness which should begin with the first moment that we were ushered into our present being, and to be perpetual and make progress toward the perfection of full and ripened immortality."

      So Mr. Dodridge, a learned and good man, a Pedobaptist, says on this passage: “It seems the part of candor to confess that here is an allusion to the manner of baptizing by immerson.”

      Dr. Clark, the celebrated Methodist commentator, says in a note on the same passage: “It is probable that the apostle here alludes to the mode of administering baptism by immersion, the whole body being put under the water, which seemed to say, the man is drowned, is dead; and when he came up out of the water, he seemed to have a resurrection to life; the man is raised again; he is alive! he was, therefore, supposed to throw off his old Gentile state as he threw off his clothes, and to assume a new character, as the baptized put on new or fresh garments.”

      Certainly there is no sprinkling or pouring referred to in these passages, which is the point to be proved by Pedobaptists. How it can be done, I have endeavored in vain to see. Certainly the circumstances under which baptism was performed, and the places of baptizings do not afford any satisfactory evidence that either sprinkling or pouring was practiced. Then how can I believe in them as modes of baptism? All the learned world admit - all

Pedobaptist scholars of any note - all the Fathers — the whole Greek Church in practice admit, and declare that “immerse” is the primary meaning of baptizo. Take the rule that Blackstone, the great writer on common law, lays down in regard to the use of words. He says: “Words are generaliy to be understood in their most usual and known signification; not so much regarding the propriety of grammar, as their general and popular use." And more pointed, if possible, is the language of Ernesti, a learned Pedobaptist. He says: “The literal meaning of a word is not to be deserted, without reason or necessity.” And why the literal meaning of this word baptizo, (and indeed its only meaning, for there is scarcely a more specific word in the Greek language,) has been deserted, and “pouring” and “sprinkling," or rather nothing as to mode substituted instead, is exceedingly strange. The tendency of the human mind is ever to change, never contented with what God has instituted, but ever attempting to improve upon Infinite Wisdom. I think, however, that it can be proved from church history that sprinkling and pouring originated with the error into which the church fell, about the third century, in making baptism essential to salvation. Hence, when persons were too sick to be immersed, it was allowed to sprinkle or pour some water upon them, in place of immersing them. These were called clinical or sick bed baptisms; and they were never permitted only in the most extreme cases of sickness, where there were no hopes of recovery. And such was the vast quantity of water poured upon the subject, that he was literally immersed, being completely covered over or saturated with water. This was considered equivalent to an immersion, although it was never resorted to only in these extreme cases. I will here refer to a principle in the usage of words which I deem has an important bearing upon this question. The principle I refer to is this: Whenever any word in any language expresses a particular mode or action of being, it cannot express any other mode or action of being - if it does it ceases to be a model word - i.e., it expresses no mode. Take a familiar illustration. If any one is commanded to go, the command may be obeyed by walking, running, riding, etc., there is no mode specified, but if the command is to run, then the command cannot be
obeyed by walking, or by any other mode of going. There is but one mode to go and that is to run. Now, to apply this to the use of baptizo. If this word baptizo means definitely to immerse, and all Pedobaptist authors of any note admit that it does mean to immerse, then the conclusion is inevitable, if the principle I have laid down be a true one, that it can not mean any thing else. If it could it certainly would not express the idea of immersion, any more than the word go the idea of running, walking, etc. Pedobaptists must deny that baptizo means to immerse, for such an admission is fatal to their cause, and then it would devolve upon Baptists to prove that it does mean immerse, which if they could prove, the question would be theirs beyond a cavil. But as I said before, Pedobaptists admit this definition, without even an argument, and with this admission their foundations are swept away. Such being the facts, what then is the conclusion I am forced to? Surely I am bound as an honest man, entertaining these views, to reject pouring and sprinkling in toto, as being mere innovations, and to hold to immersion as being the only valid scriptural baptism. And this position I do take, and in the fear of God, before this assembly, I intend to act it out tonight. But I have been longer on this portion of my subject than I intended. I will now make some remarks on infant baptism.

      On the subject of infant baptism, if it be an institution of God, that which strikes an inquiring mind with the most surprise, is that it is found no where in the New Testament. There is neither precept nor example, of which I am acquainted, authorizing its performance. If there is a precept - a command - we would naturally look for it in the great commission. But I am sure that no unsophisticated mind will find it there. Matthew gives it. “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them,” etc., “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” etc. Mark gives it thus: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” Now, here is teaching, preaching, and believing before baptism. Will it be said that it was just an accident that teaching,

preaching, and believing came in before baptism! If any one can satisfy his mind by such an explanation, he can do more than I can. I suppose Christ gave his commission in very plain terms, and in the exact order in which he wished it to be observed; and also that it contains the whole of His mind upon this subject. If He intended the apostles to baptize infants, surely he would have mentioned it. But some say the word “nations” includes infants, they being a part of all nations. And so they are, and so are infidels, whoremongers, liars, drunkards, and the abominable of all kinds, yet no one will suppose for a moment that our Saviour intended the Apostles to baptize such, until they repented and believed the gospel. I certainly would have no objection to the baptism of infants, if it were not for teaching, preaching to, and persuading those infants to believe before they can be baptized. If any one believes that infants can be taught the gospel, or be preached to, or believe, then certainly in his mind there is no difficulty in believing that they are included in the great commission. But I cannot for a moment entertain the opinion that infants are capable in any of these respects; therefore in my mind, they can not possibly be proper subjects of baptism. And moreover they are virtually forbidden to be baptized; because the apostles had no right to transcend the commission, and do more than it required. To grant that they had a right to do more than it required would compel us to believe in all the mummeries, traditions, and nonsense which Popery has appended to Christianity. On this principle the Romish church has of right seven sacraments. The Saviour instituted but two. Yet God has no where forbidden in positive terms the five appended ones. Still no one of us will doubt, that they come in the category of things forbidden, simply because they are not commended. We as Protestants are bound to take this position, to combat successfully the usurpations of Rome; and to preserve intact to ourselves the pure unperverted word of God. Then, according to this principle, if infant baptism is not in the great commission, (and surely if it is anywhere in the New Testament it must be there,) it is forbidden. I do not see how this conclusion can be avoided. But to make it more certain that infants are not included in the great commission, let us
look at the practice of the apostles. Certainly their practice is the best commentary on it we can get. Their practice decides the matter. We will now attend and see what it was. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit manifested himself in a wonderful manner, so that three thousand were converted . Peter preached and explained to them what this was. When he got through, it is said, “They that gladly received his word were baptized.” And a little farther on it is said, “All that believed were together,” etc. They had just before cried out, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The whole of this language implies that those addressed were adults. It is useless for me to say that those who are called upon to repent and believe are not intants. No one can doubt, it appears to me, for a moment, that they were capable of hearing and accepting the gospel. But it is said in this connection, “the promise is to you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” “Here certainly is infant baptism,” say some. The promise is to children as well as adults. This, I believe, is considered by the friends of infant baptism one of the strongest arguments drawn from the New Testament in its favor. The Greek word teknois here translated “children” means posterity, descendants, without any reference at all to age. But there is nothing in the word to determine the age of children here spoken of. The latter part of the verse determines the age conclusively to my mind. The promise was “to as many as the Lord our God shall call.” I suppose infants are not capable of listening to the gospel call, therefore none are to be baptized. But let us pass to the case of Lydia and her household. Lydia was a seller of purple of Thyatira. She was at Phillippi, when the apostles Paul and Silas came there. She was some two or three hundred miles from home. Happening out at the river side she heard Paul preach. The Lord opened her heart, and she and her household were baptized. Now the question is, were there any infants baptized? A little further we read that after Paul and Silas got out of prison, “they went into the house of Lydia, and when they had seen the brethren,
they comforted them and departed.” They certainly did not com fort the infant brethren in Lydia's house. Those brethren in her house were most likely those who assisted her in making and selling purple. To say that infants were baptized in this case, is to assume that Lydia was a married woman, that she had young children, and that they were with her three hundred miles from home. This appears to me too much to be taken for granted. Besides the apostles had no authority from the commission to baptize infants, and therefore they were virtually forbidden to do so. Then, granting that Lydia had infants in her household, (which certainly cannot be proved,) still they could not be baptized by the apostles, without transcending their authority. But the case of the Jailer seems to be equally unfortunate for the supporters of infant baptism. In the agitation of his mind, after seeing the prison doors opened by an earthquake, he brings the apostles out, and says, ”Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” “Believe,” says the apostles, ”on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in the house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and was baptized he and all his straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God and all his house.” In this case the apostles certainly adhered to the letter of the commission; for they baptized none but believers, and those capable of rejoicing. In this connection I will notice the case of Philip and the Eunuch, and also Philip's preaching to the Samaritans. When Philip and the Eunuch came to a certain water, the Eunuch said, “See here is water, what doth it hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Then he was baptized. It seemed that Philip had no idea of baptizing until faith in the Son of God had been first expressed by the subject to be baptized. In the case of the Samaritans it is said, ”when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women.” But not a word is said about children. If there had been any infants,
Burely they would have been meniioned here, where the language is so specific as to the subjects. But the baptism of Cornelius and his house. In Acts x. 1, 2, it is said, “there was a certain man in Cesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” It is sufficient to say that not only Cornelius “feared God,” but all his house, and surely none of these were infants that feared God. In all these cases I am disposed to adhere sternly to the text, as being in my opinion the surest way to arrive at the truth. There is only one more household baptism mentioned, in which any particulars are given, viz: that of Stephanas. It is said about this house, in 1 Corinthians xvi. 15, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it was the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)“ etc. Now infants cannot “addict themselves to the ministry of the saints,” therefore there were none baptized in the house of Stephanas. These are the only cases of family baptisms mentioned in the New Testament, of which any particulars are given, and I am sure there is nothing in them to induce us to believe any infants were beptized. The apostles always speak of believing, repenting, or some expression denoting a change of heart, before baptism. I know no exception to this where any particulars are at all given. Their practice and teachings, to my mind, plainly prove that they did not understand that they were authorized by the great commission to baptize infants. I cannot see how doubt can be entertained on this point. And it does seem to me that this is sufficient to settle the question forever, whether infants are proper subjects of baptism or not.

      But some one says, “Does not baptism come in the place of circumcision?” “Is not the Jewish church and the Christian church substantially the same?” Here is the main prop of infant baptism. I reply to these interrogations in a few words. While I do not hesitate to say that the Jewish and Christian churches are parts of one great plan of God for the salvation of the world; yet in their organization, they are certainly very different. While the Jewish church, no doubt, contained God's spiritual church, yet it

was to all intents and purposes a national church; and the door into it, as such, was circumcision. The Christian church has no nationality about it. It is eminently a spiritual church, and none but spiritual persons can be proper subjects of admission into it. Now infants are not spiritual, therefore they cannot be admitted. And to strengthen this conclusion, it is no where said in the New Testament, or elsewhere in the bible, that baptism in the Christ ian church takes the place of circumcision in the Jewish church, This must be proved by the friends of infant baptism, before it can be used as premises on which to argue. I take the position that it cannot be sustained from the sacred Scriptures. But admitting that it could be sustained - that baptism comes in the place of circumcision - yet the very nature and constitution of the Christian church would forever bar infants from coming into it by baptism. If they are proper subjects of baptism, they certainly are proper subjects to partake of the Supper. But this latter part few can be found to vindicate in these days, yet there is as much reason and scripture, so far as I can see, for the one as the other. But some one may say, “What is to become of infants if they cannot come into the church?“ I will answer this by asking another question. Do you believe that infants are saved by baptism? Will they not go to heaven, if they die in infancy, as well without baptism as with it? Certainly says every one who is not a Papist. Then I ask what is the use of baptizing infants at all? You trammel their consciences in thou sands of cases, when they are grown up. Why should not bap tism be their own act as well as every thing else in religion? All our religious duties are personal acts. No one can do them for us. We must do them for ourselves. And I ask why should baptism be an exception to this rule so universal. No reason can be given, as I can see. If baptism can be done by proxy, then why not all the other duties peculiar to Christianity? No; the time is coming when Christian parents will tremble to take such responsibility upon themselves as to attempt to do for their children, what they of a right must do for themselves when they come to years of accountability. I will not tire your patience longer on this
head. In conclusion, I have to say that I do not find infant baptism in the New Testament, either by precept or example. I do not find it sustained by any inferential argument drawn from the practice of circumcision in the Jewish church. The eminent spir ituality of the Christian church forever prevents it; then am I not, as an honest man, fully believing that all the arguments urged in its favor to be unreasonable and therefore unsatisfactory, I say, am I not bound to reject the doctrine in toto as being a mere human invention engrafted upon our holy religion. I certainly am so bound. I care not how good an intention my parents may have had in having me sprinkled in infancy, (and most assuredly I do not doubt the uprightness of their intentions in this thing,) yet I am compelled by the honest convictions of my own mind to declare their act null and void; and do for myself what they could in no wise perform for me, any more than they could any other Christian duty in my stead.


      I will now offer a few remarks on the terms of Church communion.

      I believe there is no point on which Baptists are more vehemently assailed than on what is termed their close communion. But it does appear to me that there is no reason for these assaults. I believe that all orthodox denominations consider baptism a door into the visible church, and as such, a pre-requisite to being ad mitted to the communion table. Character alone is not the only pre-requisite. There must be an ontward obedience. A person may be ever so holy, yet before he is baptized he cannot partake of the emblems of the dying love of the Son of God, simply because he is not in the church. It is evident that there cannot be any church communion to any one who is not in the church. I speak of church communion, for there is a vast difference between it and Christian communion or the communion of saints. Christian com munion commences at the moment of conversion, while church communion may never commence. And I think it is the confounding of these two kinds of communion together, making them identical, which makes the ground of controversy and censure

against Baptists. I do not hesitate to say that all evangelical denominations act upon the same principle in this matter that govern Baptists. They are all close communionists in principle. And if there is any deviation from this principle among any of them, it is merely an exception. The general rule of all of them is that baptism must precede church communion. I am aware this will not be denied by any Presbyterian or Episcopalian, but some of my Methodist brethren will, no doubt, take issue with me here, and say I misstate their position, therefore it is incumbent upon me to produce proof of my statement, which I will do in as brief a manner as I can. We will go first to the Discipline of the church, as being the highest authority in a question of this kind. On page 24, Sec. 2, of the edition of 1850, it is asked, “How shall we prevent improper persons from insinuating themselves into the church? Answer. Let none be received into the church until they are recommended by a Leader, with whom they have met at least six months on trial, and have been baptized.” It is true that probationers for full membership may be admitted to the Lord's table if they have been baptized. To this agrees the general in vitation on communion occasions, as found on page 106. It is as follows: “Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commands of God, and walking henceforth in His holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to your comfort." Now here we see that baptism is necessary to membership in the Methodist church, and hence necessary to its church communion. “Following the commandments of God” is also necessary before communion, but baptism is one of the “commandments of God,” therefore the conclusion follows again, that baptism is the pre-requisite to communion in the Methodist church. And this agrees with what Bishop Hedding, (much venerated, and justly so, in the church,) says in his discourse before the New York, Providence, New England, and Maine Conferences, pp. 72, 73, in answer to the question, “Is it proper for aa preacher to give out a general invitation in the congregation to members in good standing in other churches, to come to the Lord's supper?” The Bishop replies, "No; for the most unworthy persons
are apt to think themselves in good standing, and sometimes persons, who are not members of any church, will take the liberty from an invitation to come. “Now I ask if this is not the same close communion we find in the Baptist churches! The Bishop thinks that the communicant must be a member of a church; and the Discipline says to be a member of the Methodist church yon must be baptized; therefore the conclusion is forced upon us, that baptism in the Methodist church, is a pre-requisite to communion. And in this I do not blame the church, for I believe it is precisely the right principle. Mr. Wesley, the great founder of Methodism, in his notes on Acts v. 2, says, “Here is a native specimen of a New Testament church, which is a company of men collected by the gospel, grafted into Christ by baptism.” Mr. Watson, the great theologian of the church, says in his Institutes, vol. 3, in the chapter headed, “The Christian church,” “that the church of Christ in its largest sense, consists of all who are baptized in the name of Christ, and who therefore make a visible profession of faith in His divine mission.” And again he says on the same page, “It is obligatory upon all who are convinced of the truth of Christianity to be baptized, and upon all thus baptized, frequently to partake of the Lord's supper.”*

      Now these quotations show conclusively what these two great exponents of Methodism held on this point. I might add many more to the same point; but I will close my argument by quoting from the work of Mr. Hibbard, of the Genesee Conference, on baptism, referred to in the early part of this discourse. This work is recognized by the General Conference a text book. It belongs to the third year's course of study for the ministry. It then is good authority. I quote from the edition of 1845, page 174. He says, “Before entering upon the argument before us, it is but just to remark that in one principle the Baptist and Pedobaptist churches agree. They both agree in rejecting from communion at the table of the Lord, and in denying the rights of the church
* It is proper here for me to state that for the collection of the above facts, I am indebted io the Rev. S. Remington, who was formerly a Methodist preacher, but now a Baptist. I have no doubt of their correctness, and if any one has, let him examine for himself.

fellowship, to all who have not been baptized. Valid baptism they consider as essential to constitute a visible church membership. This also we hold. The only question, then, that here divides us, is, What is essential to valid baptism? The Baptists, in passing the sweeping sentence of disfranchisement upon all other denominations, only act upon a principle held in common by all other Christian churches, viz: That baptism is essential to church membership. They have denied our baptism, and, as unbaptized persons, we have been excluded from their table. That they err greatly in their views of Christian baptism, we of course believe. But according to their views of baptism, they certainly are consistent in restricting thus their communion.

      “We would not be understood as passing judgment of approval upon their course; but we say, their views of baptism force them upon the ground of strict communion; and herein they act upon the same principle as other churches, that is, they admit those whom they consider baptized persons to the communion table. Of course they must be their own judges as to what baptism is. It is evident, that according to our views of baptism, we can ad . mit to our communion; but with their views of baptism, it is equally evident, they can never reciprocate the courtesy. And the charge of close communion is no more applicable to Baptists than to us; inasmuch as the question of church fellowship is determined by as liberal principles as it is with any other Protestant churches, so far, I mean, as the present subject is concerned; I that is, it is determined by valid baptism.”

      I here rest my argument, believing that I have fully proved that the Methodist church occupy precisely the same ground in regard to admitting persons to the Lord's supper, that the Baptist, Presbyterians, and Episcopalian churches do. If there is any deviation from this rule among the Mothodists, then they certainly violate their discipline, and the views of their standard authors. Now to sum up. If all the other churches act on the same principle in this matter that the Baptist churches do, how then can they consistently censure the Baptists for what they themselves do? They cannot justly. They may censure them for their close baptism, but certainly not for their close communion.

And to ask them to give up their close baptism would be to ask them to give up every thing which makes them Baptists. Then Baptists are certainly consistent in their close communion, Pedobaptists themselves being judges. They cannot believe that anything, except immersion, is scriptural baptism, therefore they cannot commune with Pedobaptists, unless they abandon the principle adopted by all, viz: that baptism is a pre-requisite to church communion; and such an abandonment will not be asked for by any. I trust I have been sufficiently clear upon this part of the subject. I will not protract my remarks upon it farther.

      It is proper, in conclusion, that I should add a few general re marks, in order that I may not be misunderstood in regard to the importance I attach to baptism. I may say, in brief, that I attach no more importance to baptism now than I ever have since I have been a Christian. I never supposed it could be neglected with impunity by a Christian, unless there were some obstacle in the way to prevent its performance. I never believed that baptism of itself is a saving ordinance. Water cannot wash away sins. It is Christ's blood that does this, and that alone. The importance that I attach to baptism is, that it is a command of God, therefore we are not at liberty to neglect it. We cannot knowingly neglect it without showing our disobedience to God. In the same light I view the mode. The mode, so far as I can see, in itself, apart from a representation of the burial and resurrection of Christ, is a matter of indifference: But when God has commanded a particular mode, even immersion, as I verily believe, then it certainly is not a matter of indifference whether I am immersed or not. It is not my prerogative to change God's commands in any respect . I wish to bow obediently to them. I desire no will of my own in this matter, for I am certainly convinced that the true dignity of onr nature consists in humble, child-like obedience to the behests of Him who is God over all blessed forever. Amen.

      I will now say a few parting words to my Methodist brethren. While I may differ in some respects from them in doctrine, yet I do not differ from them in the belief that religion should be in earnest. I must always admire the simple and earnest zeal of their pioneer preachers. They have done a work for our beloved country - a

work of moral elevation, which, to a great extent, is yet unwritten history, embalmed, however, in the hearts of thousands, whose hearts are the best monuments that can be reared to their memory. Future historians will yet do them justice. I part from my brethren in this city without a single unkind feeling towards them. It is true I have not been with them long, yet long enough to know that there are true-hearted men among them; and for whom, I trust, I shall ever entertain the highest respect. I thank them for the kindness they have ever exhibited towards me. I pray for their spirit ual prosperity. With these remarks I close. If I am mistaken in the step I am about to take, I am honestly mistaken; and appealing to God to witness my sincerity, I do not hesitate to go forward and do what I believee he has laid upon me.

[From S. H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, Janaury, 1854, pp. 565-590. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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