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when they might have concentrated their strength within the limits of an impregnable fortress.” “It is right to be vigilant; but it is not right to waste the strength or the credit of a good cause upon the defence of an untenable position, and more especially if that position be wholly insignificant."
" We have already endeavoured to shew, how, without any invasion even on the literalities of the Mosaic record, the indefinite antiquity of the globe might safely be given up to naturalists, as an arena—whether for their sportive fancies, or their interminable gladiatorship On this supposition the details of that operation narrated by Moses, which lasted for six days on the earth's surface, will be regarded as the steps by which the present economy of terrestrial things was raised, about six thousand years ago, on the basis of an earth then without form and void . while, for aught of information we have in the Bible, the earth itself may before this time have been the theatre of many lengthened processes, the dwelling-place of older economies, that have now gone by, but whereof the ves. tiges subsist even to the present day, both to the needless alarm of those who befriend the cause of Christianity, and to the unwarrantable triumph of those who have assailed it." (Chalmers's Nat. Theol. vol. i. pp. 250–256.)
A SCRIPTURAL GEOLOGIST.
THE REV. J. HINTON ON BAPTISMAL IMMERSION; WITH
REMARKS ON HIS LETTER.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. ALTHOUGH the information which “ Your Constant Reader" (1838, page 809,) desires for “one of his daughters,” is not specifically requested of me; and although I am by no means entitled to say what " the Baptists" may require, or would do, I beg him to accept of my views on the subject of his letter.
I am not aware that the Baptists have, as your correspondent intimates,“ required” any alterations in “ the practice of the English version." No change, I believe, in “ the English version, or in “ the practice" of it, therefore, has been “required," attempted, or thought of, by the Baptists ; nor is such a matter any way implicated in my letter (hitherto unanswered) to Lord Bexley. The fact simply is, that the Baptists have conducted their versions of the Scriptures into other tongues upon a principle different from that adopted by the authors of the English version ; these transferred certain words from the original language, but we translute them. Whether, if a Baptist were now to translate the Scriptures into English, he would use the term immerse instead of baptize, I cannot positively say ; but this I suppose I may affirm, (speaking generally, as I must throughout) that, if he did not, it would not be because he felt either impropriety or difficulty in such a rendering, but merely because he might regard the word baptize as, by long usage, sufficiently anglicized for his purpose. In foreign versions, the term Baxtlw would by a Baptist be rendered by a term equivalent to the English term immerse ; but none of us would use such a phrase as immersed with water, or with fire, or with the Spirit. We should say, immersed in water, in the Holy Spirit, and in fire, as in Matt. iii. 11, &c. That we should do so with perfect justice must be apparent to any one who knows that the preposition rendered with is ev, of which in is undoubtedly a most legitimate, and in some cases a necessary, rendering An example of this occurs in relation to the subject before us. in Matt. iii. 6. ; where we are told that the people “were baptized" (immersed) by John ev tw 'lopòavn," in (not will) Jordan."
Your correspondent, as a member of the Church of England, admits
that immersion is a “ proper (of course he means a scriptural) mode" of baptism ; but he says it cannot be “conceded " that “the Greek word refers to that mode always and exclusively." I trust he is sufficiently candid to concede any thing to the force of truth ; and if he really wishes to know the truth in this matter, I beg to recommend to his perusal, and that of his inquiring children, a treatise on Baptism by Mr. Carson, in which every passage in which the word occurs, whether in sacred writers or profane, is adduced and examined ; and by which the conclusion is irrefragably established, that to baptize does mean, “always and exclusively,” to immerse. I may also remind him that this is the evident opinion of his own church, which enjoins that the priest “ (if they shall certify him that the child may well endure it) shall dip it in the water : "" but if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it." Such are the terms of the rubric; from which it appears that im. mersion is the only mode of baptism enjoined by the Church of England, the alternative of pouring being merely declared to“ suffice," if it be certified that the child is “ weak," and not able to “endure" immersion. Now this is full proof, in my judgment, that the framers of the rubric took immersion to be the only mode intended by the scriptural term ; since, if they had believed any other mode to have been also meant by it, it is inconceivable that they should not have allowed it to a healthy child, as well as to a weakly one. This being the case, no conscientious man can be at a loss to determine whether there is validity in a baptism which is not immersion.
J. H. HINTON. *** The correspondent whom Mr. Hinton replies to, did not ask for the information merely “for one of his daughters," but for himself; as he could not answer her question. It is, however, very important that both daughters and sons, who are to be the fathers and mothers of the next generation, should be well acquainted with the irrefragable proofs by which the validity of infant baptism, and of the mode by affusion or sprinkling, in common with immersion, is supported. Anabaptists, that is, re-baptisers—we use this appellation advisedly, for we cannot concede to Mr. Ilinton and his friends the selfassumed title of “ Baptists,” which is meant to convey the bigoted and preposterous notion that there is no valid baptism but in their own little narrowminded sect; that not a single Roman Catholic or Protestant,—no Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Independent,--no member of the Church of England, or Scotland, or of any dissenting body ; is baptized, or is entitled to sit down at the table of the Lord, who has not repudiated his infant baptism, or even his adult baptism if it was not administered by immersion, and submitted to be anabaptized. Where sects assume titles which cast no reproach upon their neighbours, we are quite willing to adopt their own nomenclature; but we do not feel bound to call one sect exclusively “ Friends," as if there were no brotherhood in any other society; or another “ Unitarians," as if Trinitarians were Tritheists; or Mr. Irving's followers “ the spiritual Church,” as if every body else is “carnal;” and, least of all, the sect of Baptizers-again-by-adult-immersion, Baptists, to the expelling all the rest of Christendom from the covenant of God. There is really nothing so wretchedly bigoted as this in the Church of Rome itself; for Rome, with all her exclusiveness, does admit the validity of Baptism, where the recipient has been dedicated by water (be it little or much,) in the name of the Holy Trinity; and accounts it a despite to the ordinance of God to repeat it; and the Church of England, which is so roundly accused of intolerance, directs that in any doubtful case the administration shall be only hypothetical, “If thou hast not been already baptized." But Mr. Ilinton's sect have not the modesty or charity to admit even the bare possibility that any person but themselves can be right. If an Episcopalian, or Presbyterian, or Independent, wishing to unite with them, should feel any lurking scruple as to peremptorily unchurching the catholic church of Christ ; and should wish, in being re-baptized as an adult by immersion, to add an “if" as respects the invalidity of his infant or affusive baptism; he is told at once, that the baptism of infants is a mere human invention, utterly opposed to the ordinance of Christ; and that, as Mr. Hinton somewhat arrogantly says in his letter, “no conscientious man can be at a loss to determine" that baptism by affusion is invalid. It is somewhat surprising that the Independents, who have so much to say, and justly, respecting the selfish intolerance of those Episcopalians who would unchurch the Church of Scotland and all non-episcopal churches, should not reserve a little of their indignation for their neighbours the Anabaptists, who unchurch all the churches of Christendom, calling their own score or fifty members in a town or village exclusively “TITE church," the only Church of Christ in that place, all other bodies of Christians being virtually heathens. Some of the sect unite inconsistency with bigotry ; admitting to the Lord's supper persons whom they do not allow to have been baptized : though the more rigid, as they are called—but in truth, the really consistent-follow out their principles from the baptistery to the table of the Lord. It is doubly surprising that the largest Religious Tract Society in the world should have been founded upon the monstrous compact of excluding everything that contravenes the preposterous notion that the baptism of all Christendom, except the sect called Baptists, is invalid, either as to the mode or the subject, and in most cases both ; thus unchurching all the churches of Christ, and practically invalidating his holy sacrament. For the Anabaptists, to do them justice, are not at all squeamish in their charges. Thongh but a little sect, they use mighty words ; boldly calling the whole Christian world-we quote from their organ, the “ Baptist Magazine "_" Anti-Baptists ;" that is, wilful rejectors of Christ's holy ordinance ; and the Bible used wherever the English language is spoken, the “ sectarian” and “ Anti-Baptistical version of England," We do not mean that every Baptist exemplifies this spirit. The late Rev. J. Hughes was one among the bright exceptions; and it was he who framed and brought forward the truly wise and catholic rule, that the word “immerse " should not be used for baptize in the Bible Society's Indian versions. “ But,” says Mr. Hinton, in his letter to Lord Bexley, “it is well known that Mr. Hughes's views on the subject of baptism were in some degree modified, or kept in abeyance, by his extreme solicitude to aroid giving offence to others." Truly there is no reason to impute this unhappy solicitude to certain of his brethren.
We have run away at the word Anabaptists, as we did not wish to use an appellation which the sect called Baptists complain of, without shewing that we have just cause for employing it; since, to admit their self-assumed name, is 10 predicate the invalidity of the baptism of all Christendom; for even those churches which use immersion baptize infants.
Mr. Hinton's letter having relation only to the mode, not the subjects, of baptism, it is not necessary that we should digress into a discussion of the latter point; though we would urgently advise all the members of our Church to make themselves masters of the subject; more especially as the exaggerated Popish notions which have been lately revived respecting the effects of baptism upon in
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 13,
fants, are not unlikely—such are the oscillations of that most vagrant pendulum the human mind to lead some unstable persons to question altogether the propriety of baptizing infants; and if Mr. Hinton agrees with us in nothing else, we think he will in the opinion that he has not a more efficient coadjutor in England than Dr. Pusey. But early tradition is not less valuable as evidence of fact, than it is powerless as authority. It cannot prove that such and such spiritual effects attended the baptism of infants, but it substantiates the fact that the infants of believers were baptized ; that in no period of the church to which tradition reaches back were they not baptized ; and this, to say the least, is a most striking collateral proof that the interpretation of Scripture which includes infants, is the correct one. We are not speaking of a matter of doctrine, but of fact. Were there any children in the households " of Lydia, of the Jailor of Philippi, and of Stephanas? It seems very unlikely that there should not have been some : and if so, they are expressly declared to have been baptized ; as indeed we might justly conclude they were, in the absence of all proof to the contrary, from the analogous case of circumcision, and from the promises of the Christian covenant; but it adds strongly to the force of the evidence, that in the early ages of the Church, immediately subsequent to the days of the Apostles, there is unequivocal testimony that the children of believers were brought to holy baptism. The Fathers of the first three centuries are unanimous upon the subject; and as to the argument that it is not expressly enjoined in the New Testament, where is the change of the Sabbath, or the participation of women in the Lord's supper, expressly enjoined ? rather, why is not the baptism of infants expressly forbidden, if unlawful ? seeing that the Jewish converts would naturally transfer to their offspring, under the New Testament, the privileges which they had enjoyed under the Old.
But Mr. Hinton's letter refers only to the manner. Now no member of the Church of England has any difference of opinion with the Anti-pædo-baptist, as to immersion being a legitimate mode. We believe that some persons have strained the matter so far wide of truth as to say that to baptize never means to immerse ; but not so the Anglican Church. It makes immersion the rule, and affusion the exception. The exception, from the variations of climate, modes of dress, and habits of society, has become more frequent than the rule; and even affusion is usually limited to a very small quantity in the form of sprinkling; but still there is no difference of opinion as to immersion being a rightful method. We think it probable that our Saviour himself was so baptized ; and the early Christians often, if not generally, used immersion. Such passages also as “ Buried with Christ in baptism,” shew how significative is the rite thus administered; though affusion equally well points out spiritual washing and cleansing. But we cannot agree with Mr. Ilinton-nor, we are sure, could even Mr. Carson's treatise convince us—that to baptise means, “always and exclusively," to immerse. We are perfectly sure that it often signifies to pour out; and all the probabilities of the case indicate that in the baptism of households-often hastily as in the case of the jailor's familyand of vast numbers of persons at a time, it was administered in this form. We have not the slightest doubt that the word is used without any specific reference to immersion in such passages as Luke xi. 38; Mark vii. 4; and Ilebrews ix. 10. We do not believe that in the first of these passages the Pharisee marvelled that Jesus had not bathed himself before dinner ; but that he had not “washed.” This washing before meat is also spoken of in the second, where we learn respecting the Pharisees, that“ unless they wash, they eat not.” In both these passages the word is baptize; yet correlative with it, we read in the preceding verse (Mark vii. 3) that the Pharisees, “except they
wash their hands oft, eat not;" where the word is not BartioWrtas, but wrtal, which is simply to wash without any reference to immersion ; for we do not suppose that any person reads Matt. v. 17, “ Iinmerse thy face;" and so on of other passages. The “divers washings ” (baptisms), in the third passage (Heb. ix. 10), are shewn from Numbers viii. 7, and xix. 18, 19, to include “sprinklings.''
The history of the early church indicates that the Apostles had not taught that immersion was essential to the validity of the rite, When, for example, Basilides, as Eusebius narrates, was baptized by his brethren in a prison, we cannot suppose that either a bath was allowed by his jailors, or that the Church considered that the office would be useless without it. St. Lawrence is related to have baptized a soldier from a pitcher of water; and St. Cypriau admitted the validity of clinical aspersion to sick persons. In warm climates, where bathing was a constant habit, immersion was doubtless generally practised; but the other method was not accounted invalid, nor is there anything in Scripture to prove it so.
We ought, however, to add that affusion, or sprinkling, was not much used in England till the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; when it was practised and encouraged by the English exiles returning from the continent, who, says Wheatley, " thought they could not do the Church of England a greater piece of service than to introduce a practice dictated by so great an oracle as Calvin.” Hitherlo there had been no sanction to the practice, except in case of the child being weak. In the Catechism, as issued at the accession of James I. we read, “ Water wherein the person baptized is dipped, or sprinkled with it;" but this might be meant only to relieve scruples where the latter was necessary, not to recommend it. But the Directory, issued by the Parliament upon the subversion of episcopacy, declared it “not only lawful, but sufficient and most expedient, that children should be baptized by pouring or sprinkling water on the face;" and to prevent immersion, it was expressly provided that baptism should not be administered " in the places where fonts, in the time of Popery, were unfitly and superstitiously placed.” Popery, we must suppose, included the Church of England; but it is somewhat remarkable, that Popery, which was made the bugbear for the occasion, had been the chief promoter of affusion or sprinkling. before the time of Calvin; for the Greek, and we believe all the oriental churches, used immersion. At the Restoration our present rubric was introduced ; adhering to the ordinary primitive usage, if the child is certified able to bear it; but allowing affusion to prevent danger.
This alternative was more charitable than Mr. Hinton's remark upon it; for he gives his opinion that “the framers of the Prayer-book took immersion to be the only mode intended by the Scriptural term,” yet that they allowed weakly children to be baptized in a manner which “no conscientious man ” believes to be valid. A more just and candid inference would have been, that seeing they allowed weakly children to be baptized by affusion, they did not consider immersion to be “the only mode intended by the Scriptural term.” We scorn to reply to such a charge as that these holy men wilfully contravened Scripture, and profaned a sacrament, by allowing a mode of administration which they perfectly well knew was invalid. This is precisely the same charge which the Anabaptists have been urging against the Bible Society, The Episcopal Christians and Missionaries in India, could have no distaste for any word implying immersion, if they thought it in all cases a correct, and the only correct, translation ; but as there are differences of opinion in this matter, they conscientiously prefer retaining the original word baptize, as is done in the English and many other accredited versions. For this they are charged by the Anabaptists