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calling on the name of the Lord. I wil! illustrate this by relating the aifair of Paul's baptism. Ananias says to Paul, " and now why tarriest' thou? arise, and be baptized, ani wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Now here, I admit water baptism is meant, and faith in Jesus ; two separate things: but if the words ran thus, " arise and be baptized, washing away thy sins," it would do away water baptisin entirely (See Acts xxii. 16); 'mor is there anything remarkable, that Ananias, a devout man, according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, should baptize the Apostle Paul with water-a man so amiable in his temper, and condescending to the Jews, his countrymen, in every thing not actually unlawful. And let it be observed, it does not appear that Ananias was told to make use of water in this instance.
The three thousand souls converted on the day of Pentecost it is more than probable were not baptized into water at all, but into Jesus Christ, by faith in his resurrection. They that gladly received the word were baptized (converted) certainly ; they put on Christ; they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine, the breaking of bread, and the fellowship and prayers. Baptismal water has certainly prevailed, like some epidemic distemper in the heads of adult persons, and does so to an alarming degree in the present day, much more so than the hydrocephalus does in children; the consequence of which is, their senses and reason are defiled therewith.
The commission (as related by Mark) reads thus: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved,” &c. Now the baptism here spoken of is separate and distinct from the belief of the truth, and evidently means the baptism of the spirit, which was confined to the apostolic age, as atfording sufficient evidence of the truth of the Christian religion for all future generations. The Apostles, and many others who believed on Christ, were thus baptized; they (the Apostles) went forth and preached everywhere: the Lord working with and confirming the word with the following signs: such as casting out demons in the name of Jesus, speaking with new tongues, &c. in the case of Cornelius, and all that were with him who heard the word preached by Peter, the holy spirit fell on them, as on the Apostles at the beginning; they spake with tongues, rophesied, and did magnify God. The disciples at Ephesus,
whom Paul preached, were thus baptized also. The sum and substance of Christ's commission to the Apostles appears to be, as recorded by Luke, comparing their several testimonies. They were to preach repentance and remission of sins, in the name or authority of Jesus, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, where they were to tarry till properly qualified
for such an arduous undertaking, Jesus promising to be with them to the end of the world, or uttermost part of the earth.
How it could ever enter the minds of men of all denominations since the Apostles days, who, undertaking the cure of souls, have with such assurance concluded that this commission was addressed to them also, I am at a loss to conceive, une less it be this one thing, they have beheld the golden cup in the hand of the woman arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and diccked with gold and precious stones. These merchants of the earth have waxed rich through the abundance of lier delicacies. How suitable do the words of Nathan, " thou art the man, apply to the many thousands who mount the pulpit in this country, to go no farther? Have I not seen dissenting preachers dressed in the babiliments of Rome, and the name of blasphemy engraved on their doors? Have I not seen the enlightened Unitarian teacher exalted above his fellows, with fine linen bands, and a long silk gown ? O, ye friends ofsacred trut'), by whatsoever name ye may be called, is there any of these and such like things belonging to the religion of Jesus ?
It is said, that the Apostles understood Jesus to mean water baptism in his commission, and practised it accordingly. ] believe they understood no such thing, though it cannot be denied that the Apostles Peter and Paul did baptize ; but if such practice was in obedience to the new command of Jesus, how caine it to pass that neither of them used the formula scribed by their lord and master on those occasions, and so universally used in the present day? and how came it to pass that Peter should, when his judgment was more matured, and he more fully understood his lord's commission, hesitate a moinent about baptizing Cornelius and his company with water, after every doubt seemed to be removed from his mind, as to the true import of Christ's commission. But there appeared to be some difficulty on this subject in the mind of Peter, or it would not have been said of him, then answered Peter; and bis asking the question he did. After all, he commanded them to be baptized, leaving that ceremony to be performed by those of the circuincision who accompanied him.
Peter soon after the above transaction was called upon by the Apostles and brethren that were in Judea to give an account of this natter to them of the circumcision, for they still considered it unlawful to eat with Gentiles. Peter, therefore, rehearsed from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, but says not a word about water baptism as having been observed ; nor does it appear that the Apostles and brethren present even asked Peter the question whether he had baptized them or not; of so little, if any, consequence did they consider water baptism as being necessary for Gentile con
verts. The concluding part of this meeting is worthy of remark : after Peter had finished his speech, they held their peace and glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. This one thing needful was quite suficient to satisfy their mind, without any question or jarring contention about water baptism, the very first ceremony insisted on at the present time in some form or other to be observed.
After this, we find Peter again rehearsing the matter before the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem ; he speaks of the Gentiles as having heard the word of the gospel, and believing; God also giving them the gift of the holy ghost, and their hearts being purified by the faith ; but not any mention of water baptism. If we are to believe any thing on supposition, I can only say, " In at that door hath all superstition crept." Surely at such a meeting as this, convened for the express purpose of forming a code of laws needful to be observed by Gentile churches, if water baptism was to have been a standing ordinance in those churches, it would have been mentioned at this time. Those few things that were enjoined appear to have been only requisite for the then existing circumstances and state of the Gentile churches. *
I am persuaded, by scriptural evidence, that in every instance of the Apostles or others baptizing with water after the resurrection of Jesus, it was observed in compliance to the prejudices of their countrymen the Jews; or it arose from their imperfect view of the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, as in the case of Peter objecting to eat with his Gentile brethren when they of the circumcision were present. (Gal. ii. 12.) The Apostle Paul carried this compliance to a very great length; see his conduct at Jerusalem, through the entreaty of James and all the elders present (Acts xxi. 19-27.) . The same Apostle thought proper to circumcise Timothy, because of the Jews which were in those quarters, although he was present at the apostolic council a little time before, when the practice of circumcision was fer ever abolished among the Gentiles. It is
very evident that the church at Jerusalem continued to observe the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses for some time after the death of Christ, probably till the place was destroyed by the Romans. I infer from these circumstances, that however proper it may have been for Jewish converts to obBerve Jewish ceremonies, such as the passover supper, or only bread and wine as a part ofit, or water baptism, that also being a Jewish ceremony, though not of the Mosaic dispensation, they
* I have seen in the margin of some Bible, the word translated fornication in Acts xv. 20, and 29, rendered swine's fiesh. Whether the original will admit this interpretation I do not know.
were altogether useless and improper for Gentile churches. Paul himself declares that Christ sent bin not to baptize but to preach the gospel, yet we find he baptized Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, and a few others. Even these had made such a bad use of it, that the Apostle thanks God he baptized no more of them, appearing convinced of the evil consequences resulting from such practice.
The evidences in favour of water baptism, ifany, to be found in the epistles are very slender. Paul to the church of God at Rome—“ Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? (Rom. vi. 3.) Paul to the Galatians~" For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal. iji. 27.) Surely no water is meant here but the washing of water by the word, preached unto them, whereby Christ doth sanctify and cleanse his church. (Ephes. v. 14-27.) Paul to the Corinthians, who were turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, the Apostle, putting them in mind of what they once were says,
" and such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit (word) of our God (1 Cor. v. 11); for by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit. (1 Cor. 12. 13.) The writer to the Hebrews speaks of their hearts being sprinkled (cleansed) from an evil conscience, and their bodies (living souls) being washed with pure water. (Ileb. x. 22.) Nowhere do I read in the New Testament of pure water implying common river or spring water; nor does it here. The word of God is pure, converting the soul. This view of the subject accords with the prayer of Jesus for his disciples, and those who should believe on him through their ministry. Sanctify (cleanse) them through thy truth; thy word is truth. Paul to the Colossians, says, they were buried with Christ in baptism, wherein also they were risen (not with water, but) through the faith of the operation of God. (Col. ii. 12.)
The two following evidences of baptism I consider as decisive: —Peter writing to believers in general, mentions the eight persons that were saved by water in the ark. The like figure whereunto (or whose antitype) baptism, doth now save us (not the putting off the filth of the flesh, or baptism of water, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by (or through the belief of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God. Here the Apostle Peter plainly shews what is the one saving baptism, and what is not. The testimony of Paul is equally clear; in his epistle to the saints at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ
Jesus, he positively states that there is but one Lord (Christ), one faith, one baptisnı, one God and father of all.
Now I have been told that this one baptism means two, the type and antitype. ' I might on the very same ground be told that the Apostle here means one lord to be two lords, one faith two faiths, one God two Gods ; surely then, I must study some theological arithmetic to understand the cyphers made use of in holy writ. Baptism into water has been said to be meant; this I disbelieve, because it does not correspond witla the one saving baptisın stated by Peter afore-noticed, and likewise it would be making the Apostle Paul guilty of a very important omission by not stating that there was one Lord's Supper in his summary of articles necessary to be believed by the faithful in Christ Jesus in all ages ; nor can this one baptism mean that of the spirit, which was confined to the Apostles days, though I have heard of some in after ages professing to be baptized of the holy ghost or the spirit, but there have been those visible and undeniable signs wanting, as mentioned by Mark ; therefore I conclude they must have erred, not knowing the scriptures.
It may now be asked what baptism do I take it to be? why, truly, I do believe the Apostle Paul to mean the very same one baptism as that which Peter describes to be the saving baptism; nor can I express it in plainer terms than he has done, i.e. The answer of a good conscience towards God, by (or through the belief of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This I consider to be the only one Christian baptism, by which we may obtain eternal life. So saith the Scripture. The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Rom. x. 8 and 9). Viewing the subject in this light I feel myself justified in rejecting water baptism as an unnecessary and Anti-Christian ceremony.
If, Sir, this my farther narrative meets your approbation, I purpose to conclude the same in my nex by a few remarks on what is commonly called the Lord's Supper.
I remain, your's, &c. Stoke Newington, December 4, 1811.
P.S. I have had nothing to say about infant baptism, or sprinkling. 25 the church to which I did belong do not hold in such an absurd and ridiculous practice, having neither Scripturo uor reason to support it.