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forbids us to conclude, that the quantity of water made use of in this facrament, any more than the quantity of bread and wine consuned in that of the LORD's Supper, can be essential to the validity of the institution.

When Peter, ignorant of the spiritual nature of Christ's washing, required him not only to wash his feet, but also his hands and his head, judging that a partial washing could not effect a general cleansing, our SAVIOUR's answer was catulated to rebuke his carnal application of the act, iy telling him, that

he that is washed, needeth na fave to wash his feet, but is clean every whit' John xiii. 10. Peter therefore was given to understand, that the effect produced in this case, wa not by the outward application of the element of water, because parts were said to be cleansed whia the water had not touched; but by the operatior of the spirit on the soul, producing that inward prity, of which an idea was conveyed to the mind by this familiar application to the body. Thus, in ike manner, the effect of washing in baptism is not roduced by the water applied to the body, either ir whole or in part; but by the spirit of God accompınying an ordinance of his own institution, and proluing that effect upon

the foul of the party, of which the water is designed to be the type or emblem.

But it is to be further observed, that the circum. stance now reckoned by some few individuals so efsential to baptisın, from the consideration of CHRIST'S having been baptized in a river, was, in the primitive church, either not regarded at all, or at least deemed a matter of indifference. For though the form of plunging the whole body was in general observed, as most significant of the idea meant to be conveyed on the occasion; nevertheless this was done, not in a river, but in a baptistry, or building adjoining to their churches; where every thing was prepared for the decent administration of this service.

It is moreover weil known not to have been an uncommon thing among the early Christians, to defer their baptism till they were supposed to be on their death-beds ; upon the idea of guarding thereby against the probability of falling away from grace; in which cases, the form of plunging the party either in a river or elsewhere must, it is presumed, have been dispensed with. And in the case of the gaoler's family who were baptized in the prison, there is reafon to think that the Apostle made use of still more discretionary latitude in the performance of this office;

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from the consideration that there could be no river to be made use of on this occafion; together with the improbability that the gaoler's house should be provided with conveniences for the immersion of the whole body. For, according to the account given of this transaction, we find that it was a business of immediate dispatch; no time being given for preparation on the subject. Immediately upon the discovery of the situation of his prisoners, the gaoler (we read) “ took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized, he and all his, straitway.Acts xvi. 33.

And allowing, what might have been the cafe, that the gaoler's house was provided with a fountain, in which he and his family might have been baptized by immersion; yet this fountain not being a river, a deviation from the suppofed established practice of baptism in one point, as circumstances then required, renders the imitation of our Saviour's example, as to the letter, not essential to this service.

From these premises, we feel ourselves warranted in concluding, that the baptism of John in the river Jordan constitutes no precedent for the baptism of Christians; and from the circumstance, that baptizing in a river, considered as the necessary form of admission

into the Christian church, has neither the authority of scripture, antiquity, or reason for its support, it consequently follows, that the example of Christ, in this case, was not meant to apply to his disciples.

But there is another and still more essential con, fideration belonging to this subject, which it is my duty to place before you.

Baptism is the seal of a covenant; à pledge, to assure the parties to whom it is applied, of the performance of those conditions, by which a gracious God has been pleased to bind himself to man. The affixing this seal God has made the peculiar office of his appointed ministers.

Now we know, that in all human covenants the size or shape of the seal, whether it be large or small, round or square, is a matter of no importance; the validity of it depending solely upon the character of the person who makes the impression. In a case where the affixing the seal is not the personal act of the contracting party, should the person who undertakes to do it, not be authorized to represent that party, the signature becomes ineffectual; and the covenant into which this self-appointed representative has presamed to enter, of course not binding. Apply this to the subject of baptism, and the conclusion, it is presumed, will

be, that it is not a matter of so much consequence, where baptism is administered, as by whom; and that the baptism in the church is valid, not on account of the particular form in which it is administered, but because those who administer it, have received a commiffion to bind the contracting party; and that the baptism out of the church, whether the service be performed in a river or elsewhere, is not so, for the opposite reason.

Much more might be said, and has been said upon this subject at different times; though, alas! with little effect; because men wedded to an opinion, however ill-founded, are seldom in a disposition to be convinced; the best arguments appearing weak and unsatisfactory, when opposed to inveterate prejudices.

Indeed, when I consider the liberal nature of the Gospel covenant, the general tenour of the Apostolic commission, and the universal practice of the primitive church consequent thereupon, I cannot tell where to find ground for a dispute upon this subject. But when I consider the nature of man, together with the many absurdities which have at different times found their strenuous advocates in the church; I am surprised at no conclusion that may be drawn by a being, who, as the world now goes, claims a right of

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