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UNIVERSALITY AND PERPETUITY
OBLIGATION UPON CHRISTIANS
OBSERVE THE RITE OF
BAPTISM WITH WATER;
WATER BAPTISM A STANDING ORDINANCE
GOSP E L.
S E R M ( N.
ACTS, X. 47.
CAN ANY MAN FORBID WATER, THAT THESE
SHOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED, WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST AS WELL AS we?
THOUGH the religion of the gospel is a pure and spiritual service, not incumbered with ceremonies, yet being adapted to the nature of man, it does not wholly omit positive duties. It enjoins two simple, easy, and expressive rites, as figns and means of moral goodness and vital piety; viz. baptism and the Lord's fupper. Baptism with water has been almost universally by christians believed to have been appointed by the author of the dispensation as a standing ordinance. The apostles evidently administered it to converts, Jewish and Gentile, in token of their admission into the number of Christ's followers, and as a public acknowledgment of the admitted persons, that they were his disciples, and owned him for their Lord
and Master. There is reason to fuppofe, that this rite was uniformly observed by all profeffors of christianity, in the age immediately succeeding the apostles, and therefore had the sanction of both apostolic instructions and practice. It is believed that the early history of the church does not point to a time when it was confidered as a novelty, or when the propriety and necessity of the ordinance were called in question.
The nature and design of this service have been variously explained, and without doubt grossly miltaken and perverted in subsequent periods. In our times, not only the mode and subjects, but even the obligation and use of the ordinance, have become matters of dispute with some, who name the name of Christ. There are those who contend against forms with a precise formality; and there are others who seem to think positive duties of no value, because moral duties are fuperior; and some have probably been led to disparage rites altogether, from disgust at the abuses attending thein.
Different sects in modern times have maintained that baptism with water was not commanded by Christ; and that though it was administered by the apostles and first ministers of the church, yet they did not consider it as a gospel ordinance, but as a ceremony to be used or neglected according to their discretion. Hence they have inferred, that if baptism be lawful, yet it is not required. One feet profefs to account it a Jewish carnal ordinance, which is abolished. Another talk of there being but one christian baptism, that of the Holy Ghoft and of fire, at the fame time admitting that if any wish for water baptism, either by sprinkling or immersion, for themselves or their infants, they may be gratified. In the following discourse we fhall attempt to show that baptism with water is a standing ordinance of the gospel. All unbaptized persons should be baptized in testimony of their faith, engagements, and privileges as christians. The question of the right of children to this rite, and of the mode of administering it, is not now to be confidered. The text has respect to a sentiment of those who decry the rite in question, viz. that baptism by the spirit is all which is meant by baptism in the New Testament. From this paffage it appears, that though the descent of the spirit, or spiritual baptism had preceded, yet the apostle Peter alleges this as a reason for baptizing with water afterwards.
The first class of argument in support of the universal and perpetual obligation of this practice is derived from Christ's cominission to his apostles. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghoit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have conımanded you. And lo! I am with you always even unto the end of the world."
Here we say is the institution of water baptism by Jesus Christ; a general account of its meaning and design ; and a strong intimation of its perpetual obligation. Here our Lord expressly appoints that water shall in a solemn manner be applied to believers. The apostles are not only to teach or disciple, but to baptize; and to baptize in the pal
* Matthew, xxviii. 19, 20.