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is immersion. But a resort to such means will nev. er decide the main question. Saith a modern au. thor, " But when an article of christian doctrine of momentous importance, is either assailed or defenda ed by criticism alone, there is always something fufpicious.”. Much, indeed, has been said on our fide of the question, against the baptists, for excluding all christians from their communion, who do not unite with them, in believing that christian baptism is immersion. It is true that serious and extensive evils result from a rigid adherence to this sentiment. Their excluding all pædobaptists from a visible standing in the church of Christ, creates coldness, and excites jealousies among brethren. In confequence of their rigid adherence to their peculiar notions of baptism, the baptists and pædobaptists act, in many respects, in opposition to one another, and weaken and destroy one another. They lose all that energy, which their united influ. ence would give them. But great and ferious as these evils are, the baptists are entirely consistent with their own system. If baptism be immersion only, then all who are not immersed are unbapti. zed. Their practice, in treating pædobaptists as unbaptized persons, results from the belief that nothing is baptism but immersion. Grant them their creed respecting this subject, and grant them too, that baptism is a term of christian communion, and they are shielded to the heel. Their errour is, their maintaining that baptism, in all cases, is immersion. This is certainly taking a stand which can never be fupported by express scripture authority. Where, in all the Bible, is it said, in so many words, that baptism shall be administered after this or that manner ? When our Lord gave directions concern
ing prayer, he said, " After this manner there. fore pray ye.” Had there been the like explicit declarations, in favour of baptism by immersion, the cause would be decided in support of the baptists. But since this positive declaration concern. ing baptism by immersion is wanting ; since baptism does not, in all cases, mean the total immer. fion of the thing baptized ; since it is certain that, in some instances, baptism means no more than the application of water, either by aspersion or affusion, it undoubtedly follows, that the baptists assume too much to themselves. Accuracy in faith rests upon the authority on which it is built. If there is pofitive divine declarations, in support of our creed, we are not chargeable with error, in positively maintaining our belief. If a subject be left undeci. ded, as to the manner of performing it, no man may be positive, in declaring how it shall be performed. Had the baptists embraced immersion, as in their opinion the scriptural baptism, and not have pofitively denied that affusion was scriptural baptism, they would have exhibited a modesty much more becoming christians than what now appears in their writings. Since the baptists are not able to bring positive conclusive proof, that in all cases baptism in the New Testament does mean immersion only, they seem to be tenacious of an article of their faith, not so much because they have scriptural reasons for it, as because it is a favourite idea in their scheme.
Take away John's baptism, as an example, and the consequence is, they must resort to times fucceeding the resurrection of Christ, to determine whether baptism is immersion or not. It has already been observed, that there is no proof, that John baptized by immersion. Consider candidly the instance of Paul's baptism, Acts, ix. 9--18. Paul appears to have been baptized in the same place, where he had remained three days.
The circumstances attending his baptism, are such as naturally lead us to think that he never went out of the house to receive baptifm. " And he received fight forthwith, and arose and was baptized.” No man, in reading the account of Paul's conversion and baptism, would ever suppose that he was plunged all over in water.
It is highly improbable, that the jailer and his house were baptized by immersion. Paul and Silas had been confined in the inner prison. The jailer brought them out of the inner prison, and probably placed them in his own apartment. It was a late hour in the night when the jailer was baptized. It is not said that they went out of the house to a river or to any water. Nothing is said about their return to the house again. Nothing is faid about their changing garments on this occafion. Nothing is said, which makes it even probable, that their baptison was performed by immersion. Peter's speech, at the baptism of Cornelius and his friends, imports the application of water in a manner different from immersion. “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be bapti. zed, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as me ?"
This form of speech, taken in connection with their being baptized at the command of Peter, makes it probable that they were baptized in the same place where they were ; and that water was brought in some vessel for the purpose.
They bonis faid the by play
Without having recourse to other instances of similar import, it may be observed, that there is no positive proof that baptism, in the apostolic age, was in any case performed by immersion. It certainly cannot be proved that immersion was invari. ably in use, from any circumstances attending the administration of baptism. No mention, in a fingle case, is made of changing garments on the occafion; a circumstance, the omission of which it is difficult to account for, upon the supposition that baptism was invariably performed by immersion.
If any person, after all, fhould believe that the apostles baptized by plunging all over in water, be. cause it is said that they resorted to the water, when they baptized ; and at the time of administering baptism, they went down into the water, and came up out of the water, let him consult the following extract from the Rev. Ebenezer Chaplin's Treatise on the Nature and Importance of the Sacraments, relative to the words in question, page 123—127.
"Prefuming on the candour, and indulgence of my readers ; I observe, that the words under consideration, are a part of speech called prepositions. The 'Greek word in those places translated In, is En. The word exprefsing, Jesus went up Out of the wa. ter, is Apo. The word expressing, Philip and the Eunuch went down Into the water, is Eis. The word expressing they went out of the water, is Ek.
« Now I could easily have told, that these prepofitions, and all others, take various constructions, and different words, in translating from one language to another ; according to the different circumstances attending, events related ; and according to the different Idioms of languages. And I could have given a long catalogue, of those various constructions, from the Lexicon and Dictionaries; without costing me any labour. But as those con. structions in the Lexicon, are grounded on all the Greek authors extant : and as I from the beginning, professed to go solely by the Scriptures; I have given myself, the trouble, and labour to examine all those four prepositions, through the books wherein they are used, relative to baptism, viz. Mat. Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. I have examined those prepositions, in all those five books, how they are translated in every place, where they are used.* There are of all that I have examined, 2859. En is used 1033 times, of which 47, are rendered in adverbs. 25, The sense is involved in other words, . so that there is no distinct word in English, answering to En, in the Greek. The rest, 964, are rendered in English prepositions, seventeen different ways; viz. in, by, with, among, within, for, under, at, through, on, before, unto, into, of, to, about, over. It is translated in, more than all the rest, but it is rendered at 53 times, by 44, with 42, among 45, on 30. The rest are less, as 10, 7, &c.
I will give the reader examples of those I have specified.
Examples of En translated. “ IN-Mark, i. 4. John did baptize En, in the wilderness.
* I have aimed, to make the examination correct ; yet very probable, in such a multiplicity of words, there may be fome errours : But it may be relied on, there are none such as affect the object in view ; viz. to give the common reader, a general Idea, of the various coustruction of words, in tranllating from one language to another.