« AnteriorContinuar »
subject are more distinct and satisfactory than they were before, the delay in this publication will be no matter of regret: if to some they shall seem less defensible, let them impute nothing to my friend, but what appears
in his own letter. Had he been still within my reach, there was no man, whose advice I should have more earnestly sought, on this occasion ; but it pleased God to take him hence, long before these pages were begun. I beg leave to mention here, that the parts of the Grammar and Lexicon, written by my friend, were, the analysis of the verb, the syntax, and the explanation of the prepositions in the Grammar ; with the greater part of the remarks and quotations in the seven first sections under Barri(W, (baptizo,) the whole of the illustrations under Báttw, (bapto,) and the greater part of those of its other related words, in the Lexicon. The rest of the book was written by me; and the immediate cause of this Essay, besides that of showing that I abide by the sentiments of my friend, is a consciousness of deficiency, on my part, and of a tone of improper hesitation, which might seem to be indifference, in some of the remarks, which I added to those of my friend, under Barriţw, (baptizo,) particularly in section eighth. These faults shall, if the Lord will, be duly corrected in a new edition, after being fully exposed in the following pages.
I hope that Christians of the Antipædobaptist persuasion will not regard this Essay as a token of hostility. An endeavour to detect error, and to establish truth, is an act of friendship to every member of the
body of Christ. That the difference of judgment I am to treat of appears to me to be a very serious
one, I frankly acknowledge. But the general articles of the faith of my opponents, the constitution and government of their churches, and the excellence of their Christian character, are, for the most part, so unexceptionable, and so distinguished, that if, through the blessing of God, we could but come to an agreement on this ordinance of Baptism, there would remain nothing to prevent our most cordial union. Even as things are, some of my most loving, and beloved, Christian friends are of the persuasion, which I feel it my duty to oppose. I shall contend earnestly to gain my brethren. For the truth's sake, and for their sakes, I must tell them what I believe to be truth, and must warn others against following their example, in what I believe to be error. But few things would cause me greater distress, than to give them any just ground of offenee, or to cherish in myself, or in others, any unkind disposition towards them.
EXPLANATION OF TERMS.
We have remarked the inaccuracy of explaining Baptism to be washing. It is not washing, but a figure of washing. This is true, in whatever way it
be administered. We have also remarked the inaccuracy of calling Baptism sprinkling. We shall meet with sufficient evidence, that sprinkling is one of the meanings in which we find the use of the word, Baptize. But I never saw the ordinance of Baptism administered by sprinkling. To sprinkle is to scatter in drops. It requires to be done with such a jerk, as to make the adhering fluid fly from the place where it is, to the place which we intend it should strike, and that with such force and velocity, as shall cause it to be dissipated in its flight. Thus, the high-priest, dipping his finger in blood, sprinkled the mercy-seat. Thus Moses took blood with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people. Is Baptism ever dispensed in this manner?
There is another form, which is thought to belong to the ordinance of Baptism, commonly called immersion. It consists in putting the subject of Baptism completely under water, and then lifting him up again. This is a transaction between one man and another, which, for any purpose, common or sacred, I have not been able to meet with in the holy scriptures.
What then do I conceive to be the scriptural form of the ordinance of Baptism? It is the pouring out of water, from the hand of the baptizer on the turnedup
face of the baptized. This I conceive to be the only scriptural mode of administering the ordinance.
Although the word Baptize, which is a Greek word, occurs in the original text of the New Testament, it is not the word which must have been
originally applied to the ordinance, which we are now to consider. The language spoken in Judea, at the time of our Saviour's incarnation, was called Hebrew, and was in fact a mixed dialect of Syriac and Chaldee. The Syriac translation of the New Testament is generally allowed to be the most ancient which is extant, and is supposed to have been made in the first century. In this translation, all the words used for Baptizing, Baptism, and Baptist, are taken from the Hebrew word, Tey, which signifies, to stand, continue, subsist; to cause or make to stand, to support as by a pillar, to set up as a pillar, to set, or raise up, to place, present, or establish. It is the same word also which is used for Baptism, in the Arabic version. This word is certainly worthy of particular attention in the present inquiry, because in the Syro-Chaldaic dialect, it was in all probability the very word originally used by John the Baptist, as the name of the new ordinance which he administered, when he came to prepare the way of the Lord; the very word used by the messengers from Jerusalem, when they asked his reason for dispensing this new ordinance, saying, “Why baptizest thou ?” the very word used by Jesus when he gave the apostolic commission: the very word used by the apostles and evangelists, as long at least as they preached and baptized, in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. I know that another Hebrew word, bao, (the meaning of which shall be noticed afterwards,) is more familiar to many, as the term for Baptism, because it is used
by the Talmudical writers, and other Rabbins, (some of the most celebrated of whom are as late as the twelfth century,) for what some imagine to be a Jewish Baptism. But it is very doubtful whether, by this word, they meant any thing at all corresponding to Christian Baptism; and if they did, their authority in doing so is not a whit better than that of the schoolmen, in applying the word, Transubstantiation, to the Lord's Supper.
To return, then, to the word toy, I ask: Is it intended that
allusion should be understood in it to the setting up of pillars, to the placing, presenting, or establishing, of “gold, and silver, and precious stones,” in the building of a temple holy to the Lord; when, in the original propagation of the gospel, believers and their families are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? Would the use of this name, for this ordinance, throw any light on the anointing of Jacob's pillar, Gen. xxviii. 18.; on the setting up of the pillars of Solomon, in the porch of the temple, the formation, and dimensions, and names of which, occupy so prominent a place in the account of his building a house for the God of Israel, 1 Kings vii. 15–22.; on Saul's being desired to arise, and be baptized," Acts xxii. 16. and ix. 18.; or on the many apostolic descriptions of the church of Christ, to wit, that “ Christ loved it, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water, by the word,” Eph. v. 25, 26.; that it is “God's