Christian immersion the act
appointed for the profession of gospel faith.
The twelve disciples at Ephesus?The faith professed by a Catholic baptism?Campbellite?Episcopalian?Methodist?Presbyterian?Baptist?What
is scriptural baptism?
what then were ye baptized?" (Acts 19:3).
ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized
into his death?" (Rom. 6:3).
our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies bathed in pure
water, Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without
wavering." (Heb. 10:22,23).
Sixth Mark of the Church of Christ
Its baptism is the
profession, on the part of the subject, of the faith of the Gospel by which he
baptism is not the celebration of a religious rite by modes indifferent; but it
is a specific act, instituted for the expression of specific truths;
to be administered by a specific body, to persons possessing specific qualifications.
When one of these properties is wanting the transaction is null?since, unless
the ordinances are observed as Christ commanded, they are not obeyed, but
divine institutor of the rite selected but one word to indicate the act he
intended, and that word?baptizo?which never had but one meaning when
referring to persons, viz., "To dip in, or under water,"
(Liddell and Scott?s Greek Lexicon, sixth and last
edition, gives but this one definition) and, therefore, immersion in water was
the act He specifically commanded; by specifying one act, He forbade any other
to be done in His name, Having seen that a scriptural church is the only
organization He has authorized to administer the act, and only to persons who
give satisfactory evidence of being regenerate in heart, it now remains to
inquire for the symbolism of the rite.
Scriptures are clear, in teaching that baptism is for the profession of
something on the part of the subject, and that something is the faith of
the gospel?the ground on which the soul must rest upon for its salvation. Paul
explicitly states this fact. (See Heb. 10:23, above quoted.) That ground is the
finished work of Christ, and our participation in it. This we are to profess and
set forth in our baptism.
heard from the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19), that they had not so much as heard
of the existence of the Holy Spirit, he asked, with evident astonishment,
"Into what then were ye baptized?" He was understood by them to ask
what faith they could have professed by their baptism; and they said they were
baptized into John?s baptism, which evidently means they professed the faith
John preached in their baptism. They did not say they had been baptized by John,
but their very answer implies they had not. They could not have heard John
preach, or been baptized by him, without hearing of, and having experienced,
the converting and regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit.
baptized only those who gave him evidence of having repented toward Cod, and
were exercising faith in Christ soon to appear, and no one could exercise these
graces without the influences of the Holy Spirit; and he did distinctly mention
the existence and work of the Spirit. These disciples had, doubtless, been
immersed by Apollos, a disciple of John, who was preaching in these parts, for
he knew nothing but the baptism of John. Now the faith which John preached
before Christ came, was not the proper faith to be preached after he came; since
he required them to believe that Christ was yet to come, and no
one but John was authorized to administer his baptism. There were, therefore,
three things unscriptural connected with their case.
persons were unregenerate when they were immersed.
2. They did
not profess the proper faith in their baptism.
3. They were
not baptized by one having any authority to baptize.
acted conscientiously, and were perfectly satisfied with the act, they were
nevertheless unbaptized. This case should convince any one that Brother
Jeter?s position is wrong. He holds that if persons have been dipped in water,
in the name of the Trinity, and are satisfied with the act, it is valid baptism
to them, irrespective of the faith they professed in it, or the moral or
ecclesiastical qualifications of the administrator. These had been dipped, and
were satisfied with the act. The immersion of a traveling imposter, without the
vote of any church, would then be valid baptism, and Paul, under the direction
of the Holy Spirit, baptized them. This has been the authority quoted by
Anabaptists in all ages, as well as in this age, to justify them in baptizing
those immersed by unscriptural organizations; and those who oppose them are
forced to deny that these Ephesian disciples were rebaptized. "But by no
rules governing the Greek language can the original be wrested to teach
otherwise than that Paul, or one of his companions, baptized these
disciples." The English is a faithful translation of the text; and by the
laws of the English language, the version can not be construed to teach
otherwise than that Paul laid his hands upon those who were said to be baptized;
and it is certain that he did not lay his hands upon those John baptized. For a
critical exposition of this passage, see little work by the author?"The Baptism
of John." This example is positive instruction to us to
readminister the act where there has been an irregularity. The church at Corinth
conscientiously believed it was correctly administering the Lord?s slipper,
but it was not, but utterly perverting it, and making themselves guilty of the
body and blood of Christ. To return, that baptism has been regarded as the
profession, on the part of the subject, of the faith of the church baptizing,
whether true or false, from the third century and onward?the
"catechumens"?those applying for baptism were required to repeat the
creed of the church, and then the question was invariably asked: "Wilt thou
be baptized into this faith?"?i.e.. Do you desire to
profess that you receive, and will hold this faith, and rest your salvation upon
it? Only upon the candidate answering "I will" was baptism
administered. When the apostate churches perverted the rite of baptism to
"a sacrament" and "seal" of salvation, and gave it to
unconscious infants to secure their salvation, they invented sponsors, and
godfathers, and godmothers, to answer for the infant. The Episcopalians retain
this custom (See Baptism of Infants).
thou believe all the articles of the Christian faith as contained in the
by sponsor for the infant) "I do."
thou be baptized in this faith?"
"That is my desire."
established the fact that the subject of baptism does not profess any private
personal faith he may entertain, but always the faith or creed of the
church baptizing him, let us here notice the faith of each of the leading
denominations around us; that we may know into what we were baptized?if we
have been baptized by them, or expect to be baptized by them.
Greek Catholic Church (A.D. 313-337).
oldest apostate church existing today, requires all its subjects personally, or
by sponsors, to be baptized into this faith, as the ground of salvation:
believe that baptism is a sacrament appointed by the Lord, which, except a
person receive, he has no communion with Christ; from whose death,
burial, and resurrection proceed all the virtue and efficacy of baptism. We are
certain, therefore, that both original and actual sins are forgiven to those who
are baptized in the manner which our Lord requires in the gospel; and that
whoever is washed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost, is regenerated, cleansed, and sanctified."
There is no
mistaking this language. The baptismal rite is Cod?s appointed channel by
which He conveys the grace of salvation to the soul, and is therefore called a
"sacrament," without which there can be no salvation.
Roman Catholic Church (A.D. 610)
faith, and requires all baptized in her communion to profess it, viz.:
is a sacrament instituted by our Savior to wash away original sin, and all those
we may have committed; to communicate to mankind the spiritual regeneration and
grace of Jesus Christ, and to unite them to the living Head.
man shall say that baptism is not essential to salvation, let him be accursed .
. . In baptism, not only our sins are remitted, but all the punishment of sins
and wickedness" . . . (Council of Trent).
The faith of
these two "churches," that constitute the apostate part of
Christendom, from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries, are very similar. The
perversion of the primitive faith, touching the ordinance, was by transposition;
they put the water before the blood, and made it necessary to reach the blood
through the water. This simple change corrupted the whole gospel, perverted the
whole plan of salvation, and made regeneration depend upon the will of men?the
priesthood. I ask every Baptist right here to stop and answer this question:
Should the most esteemed and influential Baptist Church on this continent, from
this day, baptize into this faith, and for this purpose, would you vote to
receive the baptisms of that church as scriptural and valid? You can decide
Design of Baptism
above with the faith into which Campbellites baptize their converts. They
baptize for the remission of sins. What do they mean by the expression?
Mr. Campbell, the originator of the sect, is certainly qualified to explain:
and by the act of immersion, as soon as our bodies are put under the water, at
that very instant all our former or old sins are washed away" (Christian
Baptist, p. 100).
is the means divinely appointed for the actual enjoyment of the first and
great blessings."?Millennial Harbinger.
of sins can not be enjoyed by any person before immersion."
of this testimony is what impelled us into the water, knowing that the efficacy
of his blood is to be communicated to our consciences in the way which
God has pleased to appoint; we stagger not at the promise, but flee to the
sacred ordinance [water of baptism] which brought the blood of Jesus
in contact with our consciences. Without knowing and believing this,
immersion is as a blasted nut?the shell is there, but the kernel is
wanting" (Christian Baptist, p. 521).
can see for himself that Campbellites baptize into the self-same faith the
Catholics do. He, if possible, more strongly emphasizes the doctrine of
baptismal regeneration. He asserts, with all the force he can give his language,
that the sinner can only come to Christ through the water; that he can only
reach the blood of Christ by being immersed into the water; and he
elsewhere affirms that immersion and regeneration are terms meaning the same
thing. Campbellites, therefore, unite with the apostate teachers of Christianity
in placing water before blood; thus bringing an unpardoned,
unregenerated sinner to water baptism, as a sacrament of salvation. Can a church
of Christ indorse this pernicious doctrine, by receiving those baptized by
Catholics and Campbellites as scripturally baptized? There are three vital
features lacking in their immersions: 1. They have not the scriptural
authority?their societies not being churches. 2. The subjects are confessedly
unpardoned and unregenerate when they come to the water; and 3. The faith which
they profess in the act is not the faith of the gospel.
Protestant Episcopal church baptizes into this faith: viz., in the catechism the
subject is taught to say, there are two sacraments as generally necessary to
salvation?i.e., baptism and the supper of the Lord. At
his confirmation he is required to answer thus to the question: "Who gave
you this name?"
"My sponsors in baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the
child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." All who are
baptized in this "church," come to the water as sinners, unpardoned
and unregenerate, in order to receive pardon, and regeneration, and salvation.
The teachings of the prayer-book abundantly sustain this.
Methodist Episcopal Church
Many come to
us immersed by these societies, but are they baptized? Let the question be
asked, into what is every Methodist baptized?
space I will state that the office for the baptism of both infants and adults in
the Discipline, is copied, almost verbatim, from the Book of
Common Prayer used by the Episcopalians; and, touching the efficacy of
baptism in the case of infants, Wesley, the father of the system, who copied the
office from the Book of Common Prayer, is competent to explain.
certain that our church supposes that all who are baptized in their
infancy, are at the same time born again; and it is allowed [no Methodist ever
disputed it in Wesley?s day] that the whole office for the baptism of infants
proceeds upon this supposition" (Wesley?s Works, vol.
1, p. 405).
what do Methodists baptize adults?
baptism, we who are by nature children of wrath, are made the children of
God." In all ages the outward baptism is a means of the inward . . . By
water, then, as a means?the water of baptism?we are
regenerated or born again (Wesley?s Works, vol. 6, sec.
quote pages of similar teachings; and lest some one should say this is not what
Methodists now teach, I ask, Do they not still use the office prescribed in
the Discipline, and pray the same prayers at baptism, as they did
in Wesley?s day? The last Methodist Conference that met in Memphis,
in an official report, decided that for Methodists to require a profession of
regeneration before baptism is an evil! I quote a paragraph:
too, has been unnecessarily deferred, not only in case of children, but
sometimes postponed to an indefinite period in the case of adults. The practice
of requiring a public profession of regeneration before baptism, has resulted in
evil, and that the design of the sacrament is perverted, and the people
encouraged to expect the divine blessing without the use of means, [i.e., baptism].
We call attention to these evils, that we may seek diligently to remove
them" (Copied from Western Methodist).
sufficient. To teach and practice that a sinner can be regenerated without water
baptism, as a means, is an evil in the estimation of the Methodist conference
today. No regenerated person can be baptized according to the "Methodist
Discipline." Every adult, without exception, is required to confess himself
unregenerate, and unpardoned, and that he comes to baptism to obtain these
blessings. Every song prepared to be sung at their baptism teach the same thing.
Now, can a Baptist, with the teachings of God?s Word before him, indorse such
baptisms as valid, and the design scriptural, by receiving them? That Baptist
must know that immersion would be worse than null, if administered by Baptist
Churches for such a purpose. The subject would profess a false and
pernicious faith in his baptism. There are three vital defects in immersions
administered by Methodists.
1. There is
the lack of any church authority?Methodist societies are not churches of
Christ, and therefore can not baptize.
2. The lack
of qualification on the part of the subject?he confesses him- or herself
unregenerate, and that he seeks it in the act.
design is unscriptural?the faith it requires to be professed, as shown above,
false and pernicious.
Presbyterian Faith Required to be Professed
to "Shorter Catechism" we find this:
is a sacrament?
sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein [i.e.,
in the receiving of which] by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the
New Covenant are represented, sealed and applied to believers."
covenant of grace is worthless to any one, unless it is sealed and applied to
him. Therefore, unless the sacrament is received, none of the benefits of
Christ?s death can be enjoyed by any one. This is clear. Now, what ordinances
sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord?s Supper.
is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing
with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost to be
a sign and seal, of engrafting into himself of remission of sins
by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit of adoption, and resurrection unto
everlasting life."?S. Catechism. This is a palpable
misrepresentation. For Christ commanded to dip in or under water; and Christ
immersed into the river Jordan; and John said: I, indeed, baptize you in?en,
not meta, with?water.
extracts it is clearly taught that baptism is a sacrament?i.e.,
a rite by which the benefits of Christ?s death are applied; and also, a seal,
by which they are made sure?confirmed to those receiving. Of course, if
the benefits of Christ?s death?i.e., regeneration,
justification, pardon and adoption?are applied in and by baptism, it can not
be supposed the subject possesses them before baptism; and, therefore, none but
unregenerate and unpardoned persons can be baptized, in accordance with the
Presbyterian design of baptism. It is substantially the same as the Catholics
and Campbellites?to make one a Christian and child of God. Water is put before
or baptism by this sect would be marked by the same three vital defects with
that of the Catholics?i.e., no scriptural authority?for
Presbyterian societies are not churches (see last chapter)?an unscriptural
subject, and an unscriptural design; and Baptist Churches can not recognize them
as valid by receiving them without renouncing their own as unscriptural; for, of
two contradictory propositions, if one be true, the other must he false.
Faith Professed in Baptism
historical ancestors, the Anabaptists (A. D. 1120), five hundred years before a
Protestant sect existed, or Luther or Calvin had been born, taught this
concerning the above doctrine of regeneration by baptism, in a little work
third work of Antichrist consists in this, that he attributes the regeneration
of the Holy Ghost unto the mere external act, baptizing infants into that faith,
teaching that thereby baptism and regeneration must be had; on which principle
he bestows orders, and, indeed, grounds all his Christianity, which is contrary
to the Word of the Holy Scriptures."
Can it be
that Baptists of this age, instead of protesting against, will approve and
indorse the teachings and act as scriptural, by receiving them? Those old
Baptists held the faith concerning baptism that we profess to teach. From
fourteen articles of faith they put forth I copy?
7.?We believe in the ordinance of baptism. The water is the visible external,
which represents to us that, which by virtue of God?s invisible operation, is
within us, viz., the renovation of our mind and the mortification of our members
through faith of Jesus Christ; and by this ordinance we are received into the
holy congregation of God?s people, previously professing and declaring our
faith and change of life."
our great exemplar as well as teacher, and He not only indicated by His example
how we should be baptized, but at the very water?s edge He declared the true
design of baptism. He declared that His own was to fulfill all righteousness."
We know He came to earth to work out a righteousness for His people, to
satisfy the infinite claims of Divine justice. This He could not accomplish
literally, by being baptize , else He might have ascended in a chariot of glory
to the right hand of His Father when He came up out of the water. But He did
fulfill all righteousness, in some sense, and it must have been fulfilled figuratively.
He painted before their eyes the three great acts by which He did fulfill
the all-righteousness the law required. 1. He must sink in death. 2. Be buried.
3. Rise again from the dead. By these acts, prefigured in His baptism, He
prefigured His crucifixion, His burial, and His resurrection. Paul taught .that
Christian baptism represented the crucifixion of Christ (Col. 3:1), and Christ,
referring to His coming crucifixion, called it a baptism ?immersion
(Luke 12:50). Paul also declares that three acts constitute the whole gospel, by
which we are saved, if we rightly apprehend and believe: 1. How that Christ died
for our sins; 2. That he was buried; 3. That He rose again the third day (1
then, in a lively figure, set before the eyes of all His sacrificial work?the
gospel of our salvation?and He has made it the duty of every disciple of His
to do the same. And is it too much for Christ to require us to represent these
great acts of His redemptive work, and profess our own personal faith in them,
for our own salvation, as we are about to enter His church? The soul, redeemed
by His precious blood, will rejoice to do it, despite the sneers of an ungodly
world, and the opposition of modem priests and Pharisees.
This is the
baptism Christ instituted for His church, and He forbade it to recognize or
receive any other. In this design we see it is?
simple test human societies, and all counterfeit churches, can be easily
distinguished from the churches of Christ, viz., in the former, water is put
before blood, and the church before Christ; in the latter Christ is put before
the church, and blood before water. Reader, how do they stand in your faith, and
which came first in your baptism, blood or water?"
there is no scriptural baptism, there are no scriptural churches of Christ, no
scriptural ordinations, no scriptural ministers, no scriptural ordinances.
(Brother N. L. Rice, Presbyterian, admits this?"no baptism, no
immersion be the act which Christ exemplified in His own baptism, and commanded
for baptism, then Pedobaptist societies are without baptism, and, consequently,
are not churches, and are without scriptural ministers or scriptural ordinances.
baptism is not a "seal," nor the law of pardon, nor a
"sacrament" of salvation, but an act by which we profess the saving
faith we possess, and in which we symbolize the death, burial and resurrection
of Christ, then it must be admitted that Baptists, alone, truly baptize, and the
immersions of other denominations are in no sense baptisms, and should not be
indorsed as valid.
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