Графични страници
PDF файл

I believe, no considerate philologist will take it upon him to assert that it is absolutely false. In this state of things, I have so much respect for public opinion, that if one of my arguments on the mode of baptizing had depended on my analysis of the word, that argument I would have, in this edition, withdrawn. But I purposely avoided laying any stress on an opinion, which I knew would be contested. In my inductive account of the meaning of Barro, and of all the words relating to Baptism;-that is, the account of them taken from examples of their actual occurrence in various authors ;—in that part of my explanation, there may be new illustrations, but there is no novelty of sentiment. I agree with the oldest writers on the subject, ever since that era of free discussion, the Reformation from Popery. In John Knox's Liturgy," the Order of Baptisme" describes the mode of administration thus: "And as hee speaketh these words, (I baptize thee, &c.) hee taketh water in his hand, and layeth it upon the child's forehead." The very same expression is used by Milton, one of the first classical scholars of his age.* I have met with nothing more accordant than this with my own views. Again, Dr. Owen, in his Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. ix. 9, 10.† says, Barious is any kind of washing, whether by dipping or sprinkling; putting the thing to be washed into the water, or applying the water to the thing itself to be

* See Page 61, Note.

† Vol. vi. p. 268, of Dr. Wright's edition.


washed." This, I presume, has ever been the doctrine, as to the meaning of the word, of all who have opposed the practice of Immersion, in the observance of the ordinance: a doctrine which, I believe, will be found, the more it is examined, the more undeniable. The sum of this part of the controversy is, the friends whose opinion I oppose think, that, to BAP with water, is, to dip in water; and, in observing the ordinance of Baptism, to do so till there be a complete submersion, and then to lift up again: those whose opinion I maintain, think, it is to wet with water; and, in observing the ordinance of Baptism, to do so, by the mode of pouring, and by the measure of the capacity of the human hand.

My dear and respected Antipædobaptist brethren, (for I trust you will still permit me so to call you) I have used great freedom with your distinguishing sentiments. "Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth," 2 Cor. xi. 11. I certainly think your Baptism to be the human improvement of a superstitious age, and to partake of all the monstrosity in its form, and all the cruelty of unwarrantable exclusion in its diminished administration, which might be expected from such an origin. When a society, or when individuals, are led to renounce the Baptism of the Holy Scriptures, and to repeat the ordinance under a form of their own; when they refuse the pledge of God's special regard for the posterity of his people, and banish from their families, an ordinance which expressly includes them, without any exception; I am sometimes told, that such persons, and such only,

[ocr errors]

are baptized Christians. This is language, my friends, to which I give place by subjection, no, not for an hour. Your principles, and your practice, and somewhat also of your manner of speaking,* with regard to the ordinance of Baptism, are quite opposite, as you have already seen, to every view which I have been able to take, of the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. With our motives, and our final account, (matters of very grave consideration for ourselves) other mortals happily have nothing to do. "The Lord grant unto us, that we may find mercy of the Lord in that day!"

I regard many of you as saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus. Your Antipædobaptism is to me a cause of no small regret. But for yourselves I entertain sincere affection and esteem, which, I trust, may last, till, in time, or in eternity, we shall be favoured of God with unlimited agreement. Some of you were once under my pastoral care; and it may have been owing in part to my defective teaching, that you were led to renounce principles, which you saw I adhered to, but thought I was unable to maintain. Should this have been the case, you will perhaps consider, whether any thing is offered to your attention now, in addition to that which before did not convince you. Some may suppose I am foolishly sanguine, in expecting the return of any who have taken

• I allude not here to any thing personal. When discussing our difference of sentiment in conversation, I have been always treated by my Antipædobaptist brethren, with the utmost kindness and urbanity.

their ground on a point of this nature. But I am convinced, that in pleading for an article of faith, I should act in faith, and leave the effect to God. Should I never hear of an instance of recovery, I shall still believe it was my duty to attempt it; and what the Lord would not honour as a remedy, he may be graciously pleased to own as a preventive. Whether I shall live to see any approach to so happy a state myself, it is certainly not too much to hope, that a period will come, in which the Holy Scriptures will be better understood, and there will be less difference of judgment among the people of God on the subject of Baptism.

To inquirers I beg leave to offer one advice. Take a little time to your inquiry. If you have read the foregoing pages, you must have observed that, in every view of the question, the field of discussion is pretty extensive. I do not think that the subject is in itself difficult. But it admits of numerous illustrations; and the controversy which has arisen from it has been made difficult, partly by early superstition, and partly by modern ingenuity and zeal. It has often surprised me, therefore, to see persons, young in years, and young in Christianity, deciding on a point entirely new to them, with a promptitude, and a confidence, and a contempt of brotherly or pastoral expostulation, which I could not ascribe to the strength of the evidence that had been laid before them. I will not deny, that some may adhere to my views of the subject, from education and prejudice, rather than conviction. On the other hand, I know

many who renounced them, with very little distinct knowledge of either that which they abandoned, ór that which they embraced. With some it is indeed gloried in, as a test of truth on the question, that their belief is obvious, and compliance with their practice an immediate duty. The step, once taken, is certainly not often retraced. Perhaps it is not often seriously reviewed. It ought, therefore, to be the more seriously considered beforehand. I have been sometimes accused of endeavouring to perplex and to confound inquirers. If I ever do, it must be very wrong. At any rate, I would not hurry them. I should be glad to prevail with them, neither to hurry themselves, nor to allow themselves to be hurried by others. That you may act for yourselves, you must judge for yourselves. That you may judge for yourselves, you must carefully examine the rule of judgment. The doctrine of scripture is not always to be seen in the apparent language of one or two detached passages. Search the Bible as a whole, and search it with prayer for divine direction. Beware of prejudice in favour of change, as well as of prejudice in favour of custom. Many a one, who thought he could not be mistaken in the step to which he was at one time strongly inclined, has afterwards been very thankful for the unwelcome admonition which led him to proceed with greater deliberation.*

The following narrative of the case of the late Rev. Thomas Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford, may be considered as an example of the benefit of taking time to this Inquiry.

"When I had published The Force of Truth, I had never at

« ПредишнаНапред »