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I believe, has been the occasion of much doubt and confusion in the minds of some, if not the source of real impofition, in this point, on many christians. But, I hope, your minds may be free from all such impositions, and that you may be able, in the truth, to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you
free. Let us now, keeping these things in view, consider the words of the institution, as we have them 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." Here we have the plain command to baptize, but not any thing positive respecting the mode. Does this prove that plunging is the only scripture baptism-Would not one of the baptists have expressed it differently, if he designed to establish dipping the body under water as the only mode of baptism? Since the baptists affert, that the true meaning of the word baptize, is to dip or plunge under water, this must command some attention ; but as it will lead us back to the original language in which the gospel was written, waters too deep for most of you, my dear hearers, I shall first lead you where you may see for yourselves.
1. We affert, that the word baptize does not now generally fignify to plunge or dip any thing under water; nor is it any where confined to this fignification alone, but among the baptists. They fay, on the contrary, that we have perverted the word to support our own practice.-- We therefore affert,
2. That the word baptize did not, in our Saviour's time, always signify plunging or dipping. Luke, xi. 38, “ And, when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled, that he had not first washed before dinner ;" or, as it is in the original, that he was not first baptized. We all know that baptizing here does not mean the dipping or plunging of the whole body under water, but only the washing of the hands. But is the word baptize here misapplied and perverted ? Who has done it?
It is also certain, that this word is used by inspiration to signify divers washing without any reference to the mode, Mark, vii. 4, “And from the market, except they baptize or wash, they eat not." The word baptismous, in this and the eighth verse, deferves particular attention. Being in the plural number, it must signify various modes of walhing, of
cups, pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. The word is likewise applied to the many kinds of ceremonial washings. Heb. ix. 10.“ Only in meats and drinks, and divers baptisms or washings." Some of these washings or cleansings were performed by pouring, others by sprinkling, and fome of them could not be done by dipping or plunging.
There are many other places in the scriptures where the word is used to signify any kind of washing or cleansing, even where there is no dipping. Some of our brethren, the Baptists, may, perhaps, still insist, that according to the best lexicographers and most approved masters of the original language, this word fignifies dipping or plunging only.
It may therefore be necessary for their fakes, to pay
some farther attention to this matter ; though if all the Lexicons in the world should confirm their appropriate meaning of the word, it ought to
have no weight with you contrary to the known use of it by divine inspiration—However, for your better satisfaction, I have examined a number of lexicographers, and find, that all of them allow the word baptizo, to signify any kind of washing, or cleansing with water. This matter I believe, will be clear beyond all doubt, to any one who will take the trouble to examine Hesychius, Budeus, Scapula, Stephanus, apd .Dr. Leigh's Critica Sacra. They are all acknowledged to be great masters in the Greek language, and they allow the word to fignify washing in general.
In their Lexicons and Commentaries, they say, baptizo lavo, which signifies, beyond all dispute, washing in general-baptisma lavatio, ablutio, washing, ablution, which we all know may be done, and is often well done, without plunging the body all under the water. It is of no force to say, that the word also signifies to wash by dipping, or plunging; because it then allows of other modes of baptizing besides dipping.
This is granting all we contend for in the text, that our bleffed Saviour did not command and fix any particular mode of washing with water in the sacred institution of baptism, and that he does not require dipping or plunging, any more than sprinkling or pouring, but only baptism.
Some say, that the word baptizo is derived from bapto,* which all allow to fignify dipping or plunging only, as the dyers do when they mean to tinge, or form a bright colour; and, therefore, it must have been the design of our Saviour to fix the mode of baptism by that word.—But this is nothing
· Even the word bapto does not always signify to dip or plunge. It (is used in Dan. iv. 33, where it fignifies to wet or sprinkk.
to the purpose. If our Saviour designed to establifh the mode by the word, why did he not in the institution of baptism, make use of bapto instead of baptizo, which would at once have carried the al. lufion more strongly, and forever fixed the mode of baptism to plunging only, as the Baptists would have it ?-It is more than probable that the word baptizo was used by our Saviour, and not bapto ; because it carried the beautiful allusion of the oth: er, but left his church at liberty to use the various modes of administering the holy ordinance according to the different climes and seasons-according to the different circumstances and necessities--and according to the various infirmities of his dear people.
It was his maxim, “ I will have mercy and not sacrifice.”—But not to weary you with these remarks, we shall return to the law and testimony-I imagine you see that the mode of dipping as the only true baptism, is not enjoined by our Saviour in the words of the institution, where we should most certainly have found it, had it been his defign-let us examine scripture example respecting the mode of baptism. There we have a right to expect some positive proof, that dipping is the only mode, especially since it is not positively and expressly enjoined in the words of the institution. But if áll the examples of baptism we have record. ed, were most evidently performed by plunging, it would no more than prove that plunging is one scriptural mode, or at least it would not alone prove, that it is indispensably necessary to baptifm. The baptism of our blessed Saviour, by John, in Jordani, claims our first attention. Matt. ii. 16, " And Jesus when he was baptized, went straightway out of
the water.”—This may be true history, though he were not baptized by plunging. His coming up out of the water may have no respect at all to the mode of baptism; for it was manifestly after he was baptized. Here we might most surely have expected it to have been established, were any one of the modes of baptizing to be the only true baptism. But we are still left without any thing certain to determine, whether our blessed Saviour himself was baptized by sprinkling, pouring, plunging, or some other way.--Mark also says, “ Jesus was baptized of John, in Jordan ;" but respecting the mode, he is wholly silent.--He might have been baptized by either mode, especially as, there was water enough for dipping.--The fact that Jesus came up out of the water after he was baptized, cannot with any certainty prove, that he had been plunged all under the water upon that folemn ocsanon.
The next example is John's baptizing at Enon, John, iii. 23, “And John was also baptizing in Enon, near to Salem, because there was much water there ; and they came and were baptized.” This does not even prove that John baptized by plunging, much less that dipping is the only mode of baptism. Where there were such multitudes of people as resorted to John, much water must have been necessary for their use, had he baptized by pouring or sprinkling.
John, notwithstanding all that appears to the cohtrary from the sacred history, might have used all the modes on different subjects, according to their sex, age, and circumstance. On the day of Pentecost, when there were three thousand added to the church in one day, is it not very improbable