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and propagating both. This is the professed object of the ensuing discourse; in which I mean to speak, and wish to be heard, with the spirit of candor.
We and our brethren agree that water baptism is a divine institution; and we differ only in respect to the mode in which, and of the subjects to which, water is to be applied in the administration of this sacred ordinance. And the words which I have read, will naturally lead us to the consideration of both these points of difference. Paul and Silas, being called into Macedonia, resided a number of days in the principal city of that colony. And, in the account which they give us of their preaching and conduct there, they say, “ On the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made. And we sat down and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there.” The circumstances here related, naturally lead us to conclude, that Lydia's family were not present, when she first heard and embraced the gospel; that after she became a believer, she returned to her house, where she professed her faith, to the satisfaction of the apostles; that her profession of faith was the sole ground upon which Paul baptized both her and her household; and that the ordinance of baptism, at this private house, was administered by affusion, or sprinkling. And according to this view of our text, it directly leads us to inquire,
I. How water is to be applied in baptism; and,
We agree with those with whom we are concerned in this discourse, that there is but one scriptural mode of baptizing. Christ appointed baptism as a standing ordinance, to be administered in all ages and in all parts of the world. He knew that baptism must be administered, either by sprinkling or by plunging. He knew that these two modes of applying water to the subjects of baptism, are extremely diverse from each other, both in their appearance and necessary circumstances.
He could not view it, therefore, as a matter of mere indifference, in which of these modes this sacred and perpetual rite should be administered. Hence we must conclude that he actually appointed that particular mode of baptizing, which, all things considered, appeared the best suited to answer his own wise and gracious designs in the institution of the ordinance. But,
whether he appointed sprinkling, or plunging, as the only proper mode of baptizing, is the single question which now lies before us. And, in order to determine this point, let us consider,
1. The true scriptural meaning of the word, baptize.
This word is derived from the Greek word, B-77136, which is variously understood by various authors.* Mr. Leigh says, in bis · Critica Sacra,' that "it primarily signifies such a kind of washing, rinsing, or cleansing, as is used in bucks, where linen is plunged and dipt. Yet it is taken more largely for any kind of washing, rinsing, or cleansing, even where there is no dipping at all.” And he quotes Doctor Featly as saying, 66 Christ no where requireth dipping, but only baptizing: which word, (as Hesychius, Stephanus, Scapula, and Budæus, the great masters of the Greek tongue, make good, by very many instances and allegations out of classic writers) importeth no more than ablution, or washing." But here we ought to consider, that it is the use, rather than the derivation of words, which must determine their proper signification. It is very common, in all languages, for a word to lose its original or primary sense, and, by use, to take another and very different meaning. The word, Berliv, which is derived from B4X76, to dip, might, therefore, originally signify dipping, and yet, afterwards, by common use, signify washing or sprinkling; especially when applied to a religious ceremony. Supposing then it could be made to appear, by all Greek writers, except the inspired penmen, that B177i3« primarily signified dipping, yet this would by no means prove that it does not properly signify sprinkling, when applied to the particular mode of administering a sacred rite.
And now, if we look into the Bible, we shall find that it not only may, but must, in a variety of cases, signify sprinkling or washing. It is said of all the Jews, in Mark, vii. 4. that “when they come from the market, except they wash (szev un Baniowe, except they are baptized) they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing (Barlo uous, baptisms) of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables." In this passage, Bar)iswv711 and Barloucuç evidently signify
" washing or sprinkling. The Jews, it is well known, used to wash their hands by pouring water upon them : and this was the only proper, if not the only possible mode of washing their tables or seats, upon which they reclined at their meals. Christ also used the word baptism, in a sense very different from plunging. We are told that the same day in which he ascended up to heaven, he said to his disciples, " John truly baptized
“ with water ; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not
See Dr. Hemmenway on Infant Baptism.
many days hence." This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost
, when “ there appeared unto the apostles cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This descent of the Spirit upon the apostles, much more resembled affusion than immersion; and, therefore, so far as we can gather any thing from it respecting the mode of baptism, it favors the idea of sprinkling.
2. Let us next inquire, whether the thing principally signified by baptism serves, in any measure, to determine the proper mode of its administration.
Our brethren suppose there is something in the signification of baptism which favors the mode of immersion, and often cite several figurative expressions in scripture to support their opinion. Let us look at this matter fairly. It must be allowed by all, that the thing principally signified by baptism, is the renovation of the heart by the special operation of the Spirit of God. This was the thing signified by circumcision. So says the apostle : " He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh : But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” In the same manner, baptism signifies the renovation of the heart by the special operation of the divine Spirit. Accordingly, we read of the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
But here the turning point is, whether either circumcision or baptism was designed to represent the operation of the Spirit, or the fruit of the Spirit. Circumcision certainly signified only the fruit of the Spirit; for there was nothing in the mode of circumcising, that resembled the mode of the Spirit's operation upon the human heart. And it is equally evident that baptism represents only the fruit of the Spirit, without any respect to the mode of the Spirit's operation. With this idea in our minds, let us read those two texts which our brethren so often urge, to prove the mode of baptism from the thing signified by it. The first is in Col. ii. 10 — 13. “ And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ; Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised bim from the dead. And you being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him.” The plain and obvious ideas, which lie upon the face of this text, are these: circumcision and baptism signify the
same thing; the thing signified by both is the renovation of the heart, or the resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life; and this renovation of the heart, or spiritual resurrection, is the fruit of the special operation of God. Hence, there is nothing in this passage of scripture to determine the mode of baptism, any more than the mode of circumcision. As it was not the mode of circumcision that made it signify the renovation of the heart, so it is not the mode of baptism, which makes it signify the same fruit of the Spirit. The other text we have alluded to, and which is parallel to this, is in Romans, vi. 3—6. “ 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection ; Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Believers are here said to be buried with Christ by baptism, because, being baptized into him, they were baptized into his death as well as into his burial. And from this representation, we may as well conclude that the mode of baptism resembles the form of Christ's person, and the manner of his crucifixion, as the mode of his burial. But the truth is, by believers being baptized into Christ, into his death, into his burial, and into his resurrection, nothing more nor less is here intended than their putting off the old man and putting on the new; or their being renewed in the spirit of their minds, and exhibiting, in their life and conversation, the same temper which Christ exhibited, both in his life and in his death. This great change in their hearts and lives was the fruit of the Spirit, and therefore properly signified by baptism, in whatever mode administered. It is the nature, and not the mode of baptism, which renders it a proper emblem of sanctification, which is the fruit of the Spirit. And this single consideration shows the absolute impropriety of pretending to determine the mode of baptism from its signification.
But after all, if it should be supposed, and even granted, that baptism is designed to signify, not the fruit of the Spirit but the mode of his operation, yet, even on this supposition, we must conclude that sprinkling is the scriptural mode of baptizing. For sprinkling much more resembles the mode of the Spirit's descent and influence upon the minds of men, than plunging. The Psalmist, speaking of the descent of the Spirit, says,
“ He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as
showers that water the earth.” God says, “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” And again he says to the same people, " Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Paul says, Christ loved and gave himself for the church, " that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” And again he says, that believers are saved, not
“ by works of righteousness,” but “by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” If rain, and dew, and sprinkling, and washing, are here designed to represent the mode of the Spirit's descending and operating upon the minds of men; and if water ought to be applied in baptism, so as most clearly to represent this mode of the Spirit's descending and operating upon the human mind; then it is certain that baptism ought to be administered by affusion, or sprinkling, rather than plunging. And this will be farther confirmed, if we consider,
3. Several instances of baptism recorded in the New Testament. Though we are told that Lydia heard and embraced the gospel by the river side, yet we have no account that she and her household were baptized by immersion. It seems rather to be intimated that, after she believed, she returned from the river side to her own house; and that, for the convenience of the spectators, she and her family were baptized at her own door. For the apostles expressly say, “ When she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there."
There is another instance of baptism, in this chapter, which is more circumstantially related : I mean that of the jailer and all his. At midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God. Suddenly upon this there was an earthquake, which opened the prison doors, and set all the prisoners free. This alarmed the jailer, who sprang into the prison, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, “ Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said unto him, Believe 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 his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." The tiine of this whole transaction was extremely short. It was midnight before it began, and it was finished before day. For it is added, “And when it was day, the magis