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CAN ANY MAN FORBID WATER, THAT THESE
SHOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED, WHO HAVE RE-
THOUGH the religion of the gospel is a pure and spiritual service, not incumbered with ceremonies, yet being adapted to the nature of man, it does not wholly omit positive duties. It enjoins two simple, easy, and expressive rites, as signs and means of moral goodness and vital piety; viz. baptism and the Lord's fupper. Baptism with water has been almost universally by christians believed to have been appointed by the author of the dispensation as a standing ordinance. The apos
tles evidently administered it to converts, Jewish · and Gentile, in token of their admission into the number of Christ's followers, and as a public acknowledgment of the admitted persons, that they were his disciples, and owned him for their Lord
and Master. There is reason to suppose, that this rite was uniformly observed by all professors of christianity, in the age immediately succeeding the apostles, and therefore had the fanction of both apostolic instructions and practice. It is believed that the early history of the church does not point to a time when it was considered as a novelty, or when the propriety and neceflity of the ordinance were called in question. i The nature and design of this service have been variously explained, and without doubt grossly mistaken and perverted in subsequent periods. In our times, not only the mode and subjects, but even the obligation and use of the ordinance, have become matters of dispute with some, who name the name of Christ. There are those who contend against forms with a precise formality; and there are others who seem to think positive duties of no value, because moral duties are superior; and some have probably been led to disparage. rites altogether, from disgust at the abuses attending themn.
Different fects in modern times have maintained that baptism with water was not commanded by Christ; and that though it was administered by the apostles and first ministers of the church, yet they did not consider it as a gospel ordinance, but as a ceremony to be used or neglected according to their discretion. Hence they have inferred, that if baptism be lawful, yet it is not required. One feet profefs to account it a Jewish carnal ordinance, which is abolished. Another talk of there being but one christian baptism, that of the Holy Ghoft and of fire, at the same time ad uitting that if any wish for water baptism, either by sprinkling or in
mersion, for themselves or their infants, they may be gratified. In the following discourse we shall attempt to show that baptism with water is a standing ordinance of the gospel. All unbaptized persons should be baptized in testimony of their faith, engagements, and privileges as christians. The question of the right of children to this rite, and of the mode of administering it, is not now to be confid. ered. The text has respect to a sentiment of those who decry the rite in question, viz. that baptifin by the spirit is all which is meant by baptism in the New Testament. From this paslage it appears, that though the descent of the spirit, or spiritual bap. tism had preceded, yet the apostle Peter alleges this as a reafon for baptizing with water afterwards.
1. The first class of argument in support of the universal and perpetual obligation of this practice is derived from Christ's cominission to his apostles. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo! I am with you always even unto the end of the world."
Here we say is the institution of water baptismi by Jesus Christ; a general account of its meaning and design; and a strong intimation of its perpetual obligation. Here our Lord expressly appoints that water shall in a solemn manner be applied to believers. The apostles are not only to teach or disciple, but to baptize ; and to baptize in ihe pal
* Matthew, xxviii. 19, 20.