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ON CHRISTIAN BAPTISM.
MATTHEW, XXVIII. 19, 20.
GO YE, THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS,
BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST ; TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED: YOU : AND, LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.
My dear friends, and beloved brethren,
It is my present design to address you on the ferious and important subject of Baptism. Treating this point, as God shall enable me, in a course of sermons, I shall endeavor to handle the subject with great plainness and candor, not feeking so much the applause of man, or the conviction of those who differ from us, as the establishment of your minds in the truth. The words which I have now read are joyful, folemn words, They were spoken in a very 'affecting situation they are fome of the last words of our blessed Lord and Saviour to his dear disciples. In the precedor ing chapter, we have an account of his crucifixion and painful death on the cross-In this, of his joyful resurrection and appearance to the apostles, whom he informed of his acceptance with God as the Mediator and Saviour, and of his great power in heaven and earth. He gave them the commission in our text—" Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ;– Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
I shall here mention several things of great importance to the subject before us, in which all parties agree ; and beg you will keep them in view through the ensuing discourses.
Firt, Our blessed Saviour's command, in this text, is equally binding on all his ministers, in all ages of the world--that they are to preach the gospel to every creature, and to teach all who are capable of instruction, in all the doctrines he has revealed in his word.
Second, The ministers of Christ are to baptize among the nations, “ in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," all those, and only those, who, according to his revealed will, are the proper subjects of baptifm.
Third, All his ministers, by this, are bound to teach the nations to observe and obey all things, whatsoever he hath commanded; all the laws, ordinances, and institutions, which, according to the scriptures, are in force under the gospel dispensation.
Fourth, Let it be well observed, that according to this promise, Christ will be with his ministers, to
support and comfort them to bless and succeed them in the glorious work unto the end of the world. These things being observed, I shall proceed to consider our text, with reference only to the sacrament of baptism-and shall endeavor to thew,
I. That baptism with water is an institution of Christ, to be a standing ordinance in his church to. the end of the world.
II. I shall speak of the mode of baptism as it refpects the controversy between us and our brethren called Baptists.
I. I am to speak of water-baptism, and shew that it is an institution of Christ, to be a standing ordinance in the church to the end of the world.
There is a baptism of the Holy Ghost, and with fire, agreeably to Mark, i. 8. “1, indeed, have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Luke, iii. 16.
6. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. But its administration Christ has reserved to himself. We no where read of his commanding any to ad. minister such a baptism. Some, indeed, since the apostles' day, have undertaken to do it ; but we expect they will stand reproved in the great day of the Lord.
That baptism by water is an institution of Christ, is very evident from our text. “Go, says Christ, teach, or disciple all nations, baptizing them,” &c. They are commanded to teach, and they are commanded to baptize. The same precept is also recorded, Mark, xvi. 15, 16. “ And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”-We accordingly find
the apostles, and primitive ministers of Christ, baptizing all whom they disciplined to him. On the day of Pentecost, when three thousand were added to the church in one day, the apostles called on them to repent, and be baptized. The Quakers, and fome others, deny that baptifm with water is to be continued in the church ; but the contrary seems evident, from the very face of the command. The apostles, and succeeding ministers of Christ, were commanded to teach, to preach the gospel, and to baptize all nations; and in faithfully teaching and baptizing, Christ promises to be with them to the end of the world. Our blessed Saviour, likewise, expressly enjoins on the apostles, to teach his difciples to observe all things whatsoever he hath commanded them ; but baptism by water was the command which had just then proceeded from his facred lips. It is manifest that the primitive church received the practice from the apostles, and observed it is a command of Christ.
The design of baptism as a seal of the covenant, and badge of the Christian profession--its use as an initiating ordinance into the church, and its obvious signification, all plainly fhew it to be a standing institution in the church, and to be administered with water, to all proper subjects, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by all the fathful ministers of Jesus Christ.
II. I am now to fpeak of the mode of baptism.
Before I proceed, two remarks are worthy of particular notice.
1. As baptism is merely a positive institution of Chrift, nothing, with regard to its mode, should be made effential, but what Christ has expressly enjoined. This observation must be too evident to meet
with any opposition. Should any think this or that mode most decent, convenient, or fignificant, let them answer a good conscience, where the scriptures are filent; but let them not make it essential to baptism, unless it is expressly enjoined by Christ.
2. No denomination of Christians has a right to fet
up one mode of baptism as essential, and exclude all other modes without express scripture warrant, or some pofitive proof, that it is the will of Christ, the
great king and head of the church. The reason of this is plain. Since it is the prerogative of Christ to appoint the ordinances of his church, it must belong to him alone to determine, what should be considered essential to them. For any, therefore, to determine the exclusive mode of baptism, or make anv thing essential to it, which Christ himself has not appointed, is not only very uncharitable to their brethren, but also a great presumption on the prerogative of Christ. Our brethren, the Baptists, my hearers, hold with us, that baptifm must be administered, by a regular minister of Christ, with water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; but, they assert, that it must be done in the mode of dipping, or plunging the whole body under water, otherwise it would be no christian baptism. Let us now candidly ex. amine this matter. The question is not, whether dipping or plunging is baptism, but whether plunging or dipping is the only mode of christian baptism. It is not sufficient for them to prove in the clearest manner, that plunging is a proper mode of baptism ; but they ought to prove, and must prove, if they do any thing to the purpose, that plunging is the only mode of baptism by water instituted by Christ. Inattention to this circumstance,