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fage under consideration, must mean to make an application' of water. Though water is not expressly mentioned in the commission, there is not the least reason to doubt that it was intended. Words are always to be taken in their literal, proper, common, and obvious fignification, unless they be otherwise explained, or unless some good reason appear for understanding them otherwise. Now it is certain that the literal, proper, common, and obvious signification of baptism is a wetting, bath. ing, or aspersing with water. There is no necessi. ty, there is no ground for affixing a different meaning to it in the passage before us. It would be contrary to all the approved rules of interpretation-it would confound the meaning of language, and render it useless to any purpose of instruction, Where baptism is used with relation to the descent of the Holy Spirit, it is used in a figurative fense, and the Holy Spirit is expressly mentioned. That the apostles' mult have understood Christ in his commission to intend water baptism, may be inferred from the received and general sense of the word ; and from the circumstance, that during the whole term of his personal ministry, they had practised baptism with water.* That they did understand him to intend this baptism is evident from their subsequent conduct ; for in pursuance of his commands, they proceeded to baptize all their converts. This commission, therefore, contains an injunction of the Author and Finisher of our faith, delivered to his first ambassadors, to apply water to the subject in admitting him into the number of christians, and implies the obligation of those who
* John, iii. 22. iv. 1, 2, 3.
heard the gospel, not only to believe it, but to tes. tify their belief by submitting to this application. What is said thus far may be allowed, and yet the perpetuity of the rite be denied. To show that it was not to be a custom peculiar to the apostolic age, we may draw arguments from the character of Christ as a divine teacher of the world, from the nature and use of the act to be done, and from the very language of the commission to the apostles. Is there not ground for the following remarks? “ Jesus Christ was sent of God to promulgate a divine dispensation of religion to mankind, to deliver doctrines of universal concern, to enjoin laws of universal obligation. All his injunctions must be understood to be universally binding, unless he himself see fit in some way to limit them, or somewhat in the nature of the things or circumstances of the injunction limits them. This general principle is true, not only of his moral precepts, but of other precepts, peculiar to himself and his religion.
Thus, for instance, the directions and promises, which he delivered concerning offering prayers to God in the name of Christ, though addressed directly to his immediate followers, without any express mention made of his future disciples, yet have been understood by all christians as obligatory on themselves, and a sufficient foundation for their practice.” Were nothing faid by Christ, intimating that not only his immediate ambassadors, but all his ministers in all future times should administer baptism to believers; and that all believers in succeeding ages should alk and receive it, it would still be our duty to inquire whether any thing in the nature or circumstances of the injunction, con
] : fined it to the persons, to whom it was first delivered. Now the reasons on which baptism is founded are common to all ages.
This ordinance was directed to be given and recieved in or into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and in the name of Jesus Christ ; i. e. in token and acknowledgment of our relation to them and their relation to us ; and particularly as a sign that we look upon ourfelves as the disciples of Jesus Christ, obliged to hearken to his doctrine, to follow his instructions, and to obey his commandments; and that we defire to have an interest in his mediation. The words of Christ's commission to his apostles represent baptism as a solemn initiation into the christian profession; and all its engagements and privileges. Other passages teach that it typifies in a particular manner the necefsity of moral purity and righteousness. *66 Christ gave himself for the church, that he might fanétify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” These are moral uses of the ceremony not confined to any age of the church. As all persons of all times are interested to pay due regards to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to exercise the faith, and trust, to make the resolutions and vows that belong to christians, so are they alike interested in a rite which expresses these acts and dispositions.—Hence because the words of the commission do not limit the duration of the observance of baptism; and there is nothing in its nature, or the circumstances of the times to limit it, we have reason to think it intended to be perpetual.
* Rom. vi. 3, 4. i Peter, üi. 21. Ephes. v. 26.
On the other hand, the words strongly intimate that it should be continued. They enjoin upon those to whom they are addressed two acts, that of teaching or making disciples, and that of baptizing. They contain an encouragement to these services, which is the promise of the presence of the Redeemer to the end of the world. The duration of the duties is to be supposed coeval with the dura, tion of the promise. This construction is confirmed by the very general terms of the direction in Mark, xvi. 15, 16. “. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to ev. ery creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be damned." We cannot think that baptism would be mentioned in such a connection, as an act necefsary to express and accompany faith, unless it were important, and required to be observed by all be lievers.
2. The practice of baptism with water by the apostles, during the Lord's personal ministry, af. fords arguments in favour of the ordinance in queftion, John, iii. 22. After these things came Jesus
and his disciples into the land of Judea, and there · he tarried with them and baptized. iv. 1, 2, 3. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more difciples than John ; though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples, he left Judea and departed again into Galilee. Christ is said to do what the apostles did, because they acted by his direction. Had our Lord no design in this ? It must proba. bly have been intended to be introductory to chriftian baptism.
3. Another proof is taken from John, üi. 5. compared with verse 26 of the same chapter. • Jefus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” As if he had said to the Jewish ruler, 6 you must have new principles and a new character, and in token of your conversion be baptized with water, in order to become a regular member of my kingdom.” In the same chapter, v. 26, it appears that they who received Jesus as the Saviour were baptized.
4. The doctrine of this discourse is confirmed by those numerous passages which directly or impliedly speak of baptism by water, as a standing ordinance in the spiritual religion of Jesus Christ, according to apostolic practice. Rom. vi. -4. We are buried with him by baptism. Ephe. iv. 5. One baptism. Col. ii. 12. Buried with him in baptism. Heb. vi. 2. Doctrine of baptisms. 1 Pet. iii. 21. Baptism doth now fave us. Acts, ii. 33. Be baptized every one of you. EVERY ONE OF YOU. 41st verse. They that gladly received his word were baptized. viii. 12. They were baptized both men and women. NO DISTINCTION OF SEX AS IN CIRCUMCISION. 13th verse, Simon believed and was baptized. 16th verse, Only they were baptized in the name of Jesus. 38th verse, Here is water, what doth hinder to be baptized ? 38th verse,
And be baptized him, ix. 8. Saul received fight, and arose and was baptized. X. 47. Can any forbid that these should not be baptized ? 48th verse. Peter commanded them to be baptized. COMMANDED. xvi. 15. Lydia was baptized and her household. 33d verfe, The Jailor was baptized, he and ALL HIS