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tion, merely that they may renew the solemn farce which was performed by their sponsors at baptism; and that they might take a vow which they never intended to fulfil ?"*
What these questions implied, and the preceding remarks expressed, appeared to me awfully serious; and the CONTRARIETY of sentiment which prevailed, and which the foregoing quotations exhibit, was ex. ceedingly perplexing. My highest and best interest for time and eternity was here involved. On the one hand, I was told that by my baptism * all was well,” and on the other, that the ordinance, as observed upon me, was a “ solemn farce !*
What should I do in this case? Why this, I resolved, I would do : I would take a New Testament, and go through it, and mark down and distinguish in the margin, all those passages which related to baptism ; and when I had done so, I would read them all over in succession, as one chapter, with care and attention; and as I knew this blessed book was the only original and divine authority on the subject, here, I infered, I should learn correctly what this ordinance did for children, what was the office of sponsors—and how the ordinance sealed to me the blessing of the covenant.
To my surprise, the New Testament was ENTIRELY SILENT upon ALL these points! I could not find a single passage relating to the baptism of infants—nor one relating to sponsors—nor one about baptism bringing me into the covenant, or sealing to me its blessings! Every passage I could find, descriptive of the persons baptized, either by John or the disciples of Christ, represented them as persons grown up, instructed, and believing the gospel; nor could I find any passage relative to their bringing their children with them, or at any period to be baptized. I found, also, that all the commands and instructions given respecting baptism entirely related to its administration to believers, and not one included the duty of parents in securing, by this all-important ordinance, the spiritual and eternal well-being of their children!
Now, when I considered the unbounded benefits said to be consequent upon children's baptism, and the solemn manner in which I was required to repeat
these statements in early life, as if they were the plainest subjects in Scripture, the reader may judge of my surprise in finding them entirely destitute of that sacred authority!
In the end, I was brought to believe that the institution was altered that it was not now observed, where I was early instrụcted, as originally appointed of Christ. Yet to alter Christ's institutions appeared
to me a VERY PRESUMING ACT: it was derogatory to the authority of Christ, and a reflection on his wisdom; and as I remembered how God manifested his displeasure against any alteration of what he had appointed, under the Old Testament, so I inferred he must be equally displeased with any alteration of the New Testament ordinances. A passage
I met with in MATTHEW HENRY's Exposition, respecting the conduct and awful fate of Aaron's sons in taking common fire, instead of fire from the altar, to burn incenso, I deemed very impressive, and quite appropriate to this subject :
* In“THE RECORD," (a paper in the Church of England interest,) for Novem ber 30, 1829, headed,'. Questions for the Consideration of the Ecclesiastical Authorities of the Realm. See also Mr. HYATT, cited at p. 63.
« Not being holy fire, it is called strange fire; and, though not expressly forbidden, it was crime enough that God commanded it not, For, (as Bishop Hall well observes here,) • It is a dangerous thing, in the service of God, to decline from his own institutions; we have to do with a God who is wise to prescribe his own worship, just to require what he has prescribed, and POWERFUL to revenge what he has not prescribed. Now that the laws concerning sacrifices were newly made, lesi any should be tempted to think lightly of them, because they descended to many circumstances which seemed very minute, these that were the first transgressors were thus punished for a WARNING to others, and to show how jealous God is in the matters of his worship. Being a holy God and sovereign Lord, he must always be worshipped exactly according to his own appointment; and if any jest with him, it is at their peril."-On Lev. x.
My mind was considerably exercised upon this subject. 'Not willingly,' I was constrained to say, 'would I jest with Christ's ordinances, or would I support any alteration of his institution. If I knew his will, I would observe and keep it; for the time is coming when I must stand at his bar to give an account of the deeds done in the body; and if I was one of those who altered his ordinances, or countenanced such a daring presumption, I should have cause to anticipate his divine displeasure.' With these impressions I came to the determination, that, at any risk, what the Scriptures taught on baptism I would endeavour to receive and hold,—that as Christ was to be my only JUDGE at the last, so he should be my only Guide upon this subject. His command to every disciple is, “ follow me;" and to enable him to do so he added, “ Search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of me.” Here I saw the path of duty plainly marked out by the footsteps of my Saviour, and instructions of his word; and his unbounded love and his infinite digo nity rendered obedience to him unspeakably solemn and delightful. I resolved, also, to read whatever authors I could meet with upon
this subject, and though I was soon brought to decide, and acted upon that decision, guided, I hope, by the word of God; yet for several years there was not an author that fell in my way, whether treating of the subjects of baptism, or the mode of it, or the spiritual intention of the ordinance, but I felt disposed to examine his arguments. Nothing surprised me more than the strange diversity and opposition of sentiment which I observed between different very eminent writers. What one labored? to establish, another as zealously exploded; and I am thoroughly convinced that the only way for an inquiring mind to obtain solid satisfaction upon the subject is to lay aside all preconceived sentiments and prejudices, and to come, with a teachable spirit, to the fountain-head of information,—to take the New Testament and to go through it, allowing one passage to assist in the understanding of another, and here, on Heaven's authority, to form his opinions, and to come to a decision.
Bat those portions of Scripture which relate to this ordinance are interspersed throughout almost the whole of the New Testament, and for the use of an INQUIRER upon this subject, a Tract, containing a comPLETE Collection of all those passages, appeared to me exceedingly desirable. Being called, by the grace of Christ, to the all-important work of the ministry in the body of Christians, with which, from con.
scientious principles, upon giving up my early views in favor of infant baptism, I became united, I felt the want of such a pamphlet when referring inquirers to the divine and infallible source of information. Not finding such a work in existence, I resolved to prepare it. My first effort was well received ; and I afterwards enlarged it, by subjoining to each section of Scripture a few explanatory observations, and supported the sense I had given by extracts from the works of eminent pædobaptist writers. This work is now before the reader, and the following is its arrangement.
PLAN AND CONTENTS. The various portions of Scripture relating to baptism, I have here arranged as Three Chapters.
Chap. I. The several passages in the Four Gospels, divided into VII sections, as they occur ; page 9 to 27.
Chap. II. The several passages in the Acts of the Apostles, divided into IX sections, as so many successive instances of baptizing; p. 27 to 44.
Cuap. III. The several passages in the Epistles, divided into III sections, as they have special allusions; p. 45 to 52.
To these Scriptures and their illustration, I have subjoined an APPEN. DIX, containing a BRIEF EXAMINATION, I. Of the common Reasoni and Arguments by which the Baptism of Infants is urged and defended, 52 to 70. IL Of the Evidence in favor of Immersion as the Mode, p. 71 to 80. III. Of the Design of the Great Head of the Church in the appointment of this ordinance, p. 80 to 81. And, finally, offering a few general ConcLUDING OBSERVATIONS upon the subject, p. 81 to 86.
I am not conscious that I have written a single sentence, but as the dictate of sincere conviction ; and, I hope, not one inconsistent with Christian candor. I love my brethren in the faith, notwithstanding upon this particular subject they may differ from me; and though I have seen no small portion of sarcastic wit brought into the controversy, I nave not once borrowed from that treasury; my cause wanted not that auxiliary.
I take this opportunity of expressing the satisfaction I have felt in the kind recommendations which numerous ministers have given to this little work, not only in Britain, but in India, and especially in the United States of America, where it has gone through several large editions. But, most of all, my gratitude is due to the Author of all goodness, for the testimonies I have received that “the publication has been eminently useful to many of the disciples of Christ, in freeing their minds from the mists of error, engendered by the doctrines and commandments of men, and leading them into scriptural views of this important institution of the kingdom of heaven.” (New Baptist Miscellony, for 1828, p. 109.) I hope the alterations and additions made in the present edition will render it still more acceptable and useful.
Newcastle upon Tyne, Jan. 1, 1836.
Seot. 1. The Mission, Preaching, and Baptizing of John the
9 Of the Mode of John's Baptism,
12 2. The Baptism of Jesus Christ, from the four Evan
gelists, Christ Baptizing, by his Disciples, in Judea, 18 4. John's last Baptizing in Ænon,
20 5. References of Jesus Christ to John, his Baptism and success,
21 6. Christ represents his Sufferings under the figure of
6 a Baptism,” 7. The Commission which our Lord gave his Apostles
about the Time of his Ascension into Heaven, containing the formal Institution of Christian Baptism,
23 Conclusion of the Four Gospels,
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
Seot. 1. The Baptism at the Feast of Pentecost,
27 2. Philip Baptizing at Samaria,
29 3. The Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch,
31 Of the Mode of the Eunuch's Baptism,
31 4. The Baptism of the Apostle Paul,
33 5. The Baptism of Cornelius and his Friends, 34 6. The Baptism of Lydia and her Household, 36 7. The Baptism of the Philippian Jailer and House,
39 8. Paul Baptizing at Corinth,
40 Reflection on the Baptism of Households, 42 9. Certain Disciples at Ephesus baptized,
43 Conclusion of the Acts,