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right and authority to declare : “the performance of that command and institution is not essential!"-especially, when he unites a blessing therewith, whilst the command of an earthly King is perhaps a heavy burden to his subjects--for what reason did Christ command his Apostles: "Baptize all nations,” if it is not essential ? Can any intelligent and enlightened Christian, imagine himself, that Jesus who is the fountain of all wisdom, would ordain and command an ordinance, which is to be performed in the name of the Triune God, that is not essential, not a means of Salvation ?--that He who shed his precious blood for the Salvation of mankind, should present them with empty insignificant ceremonies ? Indeed such thoughts are nothing but mockery, and do highly dishonour the Saviour, and likewise prove a great deal of unbelief!
2d. Jesus declares Mark 16: 16, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; this Declaration of the Saviour, is a strong and undeniable proof, that Baptisın is essential, yea that it is a means of Salvation.
3d. On the day of Pentecost, when the Apostle Peter declared the word of life unto the multitude at Jerusalem, many were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles : “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Then Peter said unto them: “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Now observe: what was the question of the multitude ? “What shall we do ?" undoubtedly—to be saved, to receive remission of sins &c.—and what was required by the inspired Apostle ? repentance (which implies, sorrow for sin and faith in Christ) and Baptism, and in verse 41, we read “then they that gladly received his word, were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Now those who deny Baptism to be essential, admit that repentance is required, but proves not this passage, that Baptism is just as requisite as repentance? The Apostle did not say (as perhaps some professors in our days would have said, if they had been in the place of St. Peter) “Repent, and if you please, or if you think it to be necessary, be baptized, however it is not essential.” No, such was not the language of an inspired Apostle of Jesus, who had received of his great Master, the solemn Command,“ teach and baptize them.” Peter answered the important inquiry of his hearers distinctly—“repent and be baptized every one,” He spake the language of the holy spirit, hence the language of God, who had taught him what he should say, John 14: 26. Now suppose, the Holy Spirit would personally come down to us, and tell us the same words, which Peter told unto the Jews, would any of us be so bold, and refute or contradict Him, by saying it is not essential to be baptized !-it imports nothing! I think not. But are not the words which we have in divine record of the same authenticity, as if spoken by God himself? But says one, the Apostle spoke them to the Jews, hence they have no reference to us--1 answer, with the same propriety I can say nothing in divine revelation bath any reference to us, because it was first declared to the Apostles, Jews and Gentiles. Therefore if it was coVol. V. No. 1.
sential for the first converts of the Christian Church, for those at Je rusalem, for Cornelius and others Acts 10, for Lydia and her household and the Jailor and his family Acts 16, for the Apostle Paul Acts 22: 16, then it is manifest, that it must be essential for us too, or are we better than they were? The scripture declares Romans 3, in no wise, for there is no difference, for all have sinned, and it would be abominable to think, that hey should have been baptized merely for the sake of a useless custom. The order of salvation is not altered since the time of the Apostles, for the holy spirit is not changeable or double-tongued, that he at one time says so, and at an other time otherwise. Gallations 1: 8.
4th. Our Saviour declares, John 3:5, “verily verily I say unto thee except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” This passage in connection with Paul's Declarations Titus 3: 5, and Ephesians 5: 25 26, shew clearly, that Baptism with water, is a means of regeneration—now if regeneration is essential, which is not denied then Baptism must be the same, for it is a means of regeneration. The limits of a periodical, will not permit, to answer all the objections which are made against the doctrine of Baptism being a means of religion. However I shall quote somc, and answer them. I would also observe, that many have composed Sermons, Hymns, &c. to prove that: “Baptism is not regeneration," no reasonable Christian will believe, that it is regeneration itself to state, Baptism is regeneration, is just as absurd as to say, the mother is the child-hence such intend to prove the inconsistency of something, which is not in existence, therefore they fight as on ethat beateth the air, 1st Corinthians 9.26. and it would be of no use to spend time and paper to answer their arguments.
To prove that Baptism is not the means of regeneration, some allege: “that when our Lord uttered these words, Baptism as a christ tian ordinance, had not been instituted, though, the Baptism of Jobn was generally practised, but it is not likely, that our Lord would insist in this solemn manner on the absolute necessity of Baptism, when as yet, it was not ordained by Christ himself, hence the term water in that passage cannnot mean water Baptism." If this is a sufficient proof, to argue that water Baptism cannot be the means of regeneration, because it was not yet ordained, when Christ uttered these words, then I may just as well argue, the holy spirit cannot be the means, for we read John 7: 39, "for the Holy Ghost, was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” It is manisest from the contents of the passage John 3: 5, that Christ could mean nothing but natural water, together with the spirit; in the 12th verse, our Lord says: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things." Christ mentioned water in the 5th verse, which is an earthly thing. Now when Christ told Nicodemus of an earthly thing, he could not mean spirit, alone, for that is heavenly and divine. But why should they believe earthly things ? because the heavenly thing are therewith connected. In the sacraments, God bestowed heavenly blessings unto the earthly man, hence he combines the earthly with the heavenly, in them
Therefore Baptism is not mere water, but it is that water which the Ordinance of God enjoins, and which is connected with God's holy word, and God has inseparably connected the Holy Spirit with the word, for the Saviour declares John 6: 63 the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. “By the preaching of Gospel the spirit is administered, Galatians 3: 2 5; "this only would I learn"
says St. Paul, “received ye the spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing of faith,” Romans 10: 17, “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” It is further evident that Christ, when he said “Except a man be born of water and of spirit &c." must have alluded to the Baptism with water; for thus we read in this same chapter v. 22 23, “after these things came Jesus and his disci. ples, unto the land of Judea, and there tarried with them and baptized. Others say: the term water in that passage is to mean spirit, but why then would he add the word spirit? if the water is to signify spirit, then it would be the same as if Christ had said, “except a man be born of the spirt and of the spirit &c.” which would be inconsistent. If he had said: except a man be born of water and not mentioned spirit at all, then there would be more reason to believe, that the word water should signify spirit; further, it is erroneous to suppose that water in this passage, is an emblem of the spirit, an emblem is an allusive picture hence an image, alluding to some person or thing. But is it possible that water can be an emblem of the 'holy spirit? the holy spirit is God, and cannot be represented by water, nor any thing else Isai 40: 18, “to whom will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him ?” Others say we must be baptized with the inward Baptism of the Holy Ghost, of which the Baptism with water is only an emblem, hence they must teach, that there are two Baptisms, the one an emblematical with water, and the other the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. But the Apostle expressly said Ephesians 4: 5, "One Lord one faith, one Baptism." Thus agreeably to the apostle's declaration, there is but one Baptism, and not two, i. e. an emblematical and spiritual, and this one Baptism consists of Water and Spirit. We read of a Baptism of the spirit, but it can be sufficiently proved, that this Baptism, did allude to the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and that the Apostles received this promised Baptism of the spirit on that day, whose descent was signalized by a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind, and accompanied by the phenomenon of cloven tongues, as of fire, and thus they received those miraculous gifts, that they could speak in different Languages, heal the sick by the laying on of their hands, cast out devils, and raise up the dead. Christians in common during the primitive age, received miraculous gifts of the spirit by the imposition of the Apostle's hands; for they could speak with tongues, and prophecy. In this manner the divine authenticity of the religion of Jesus was established and confirmed; Hebrews 2: 4. But this Baptism ceased, for after the Christian religion was sufficiently attested by signs and wonders, their continuation became unnecessary. Such as pretend to have received this Baptism of the spirit, the same as the Apostles and primitive christians, let them manifest
those miraculous operations. But whilst we see no such works, all the pretensions of having received this Baptism, are nothing but idle dreams.
Others allege: the Apostle St. John in his first Epistle 5: 4, says: “that all that are born of God overcome the world.” But is this the character of all baptized christians ? “Has their Baptism changed the disposition of their hearts, so that they do not love the world, nor the things of the world ?” &c. This point has been already touched in the beginning of this essay, and I shall add few words more in answer of it. Something can be a means, yet it may not have the same blessed effect upon all, to whom it is administered, but that is no proof, that it is not the means ; for if this be a good reason that Baptism is not a means of regeneration, because there are wicked & worthless people, who are baptized; then I may argue with equal propriety, the holy scriptures are not the word of God, because there are many, who read and hear them, yet are and remain infidels m-prayer is a useless exercise, because there are many who pray, and yet continue hypocrites-the Holy Ghost himself, cannot be the means of regeneration or a divine energy; because the Jews and many thousands besides, with whom he strove, were not turned, nor regenerated. I would further ask, is it not possible for a regenerated Person to fall from his state of grace? 2 Peter 2: 20 21 if it were not possible, for what reason did Christ say to the Church of Ephesus Revelations 2: 5. “Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fal-. len and repent, and do the first works," and verse 7 “To him that overcometh, &c.” and Paul Hebrews, 3: 12. “Take heed brethren, lesť there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” Many whose children have been baptized, bestow no labour upon them, when they arrive at the age of maturity, to instruct them with respect to the use and design of Baptism, hence, as the good seed receives no nourishment, how can it be expected to prosper? A regenerated person can spiritually die, hence lose his spiritual life, and alas, that is the case with many, and if they remain in such awful and dangerous state they will finally die forever, except they remember, how they have received and heard, and hold fast and repent; Revelations 3: 3, a godly life, a spiritua life is the blessed fruit of regeneration. There is another objection which is often alleged against this doctrine. If Baptism be the means of regeneration, then it must follow, that all those who are not baptized, will be damned. There are many thousands, who are unbaptized, now to suppose all such to be lost, is extremely uncharitable. In this way I might also prove that it is very uncharitable to teach, that whosoever does not believe in Jesus Christ shall be damned, because there are many thousands who do not believe, and many more have never heard his name. What Christian would presume to say, that faith in Jesus Christ, is not essential to salvation, because it would be uncharitable to suppose all such as lost, who are destitute of it ? Whatever dispensation God may have ordered to save Heathens through Christ does by no means interfere with the dispensation under which we live. We have no reason to expect he will dispense with the means where he has sent the light of the Gospel. Sundry other objections could be mentioned and refuted, many of them have their origin from the doctrine of absolute, unconditional election and reprobation and irresistible grace. If such who believe and teach these doctrines, would admit, that the Sacraments are means of grace and Salvation, then they would contradict themselves, by teaching those doctrines, and many adopt their sentiments concering the Sacraments, without examining from what source they flow. I shall now come to a conclusion by making a few remarks more on the subject.
Our Lord Mark 16 16 declares “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," when the Jailor asked Acts 16 30 31, “Sirs what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” and in verse 33, we read, “and was baptized he (the Jailor) and all his, straightway.” It is evident, that he would not have received Baptism, without being informed by the Apostle, that it was essential, for they spake unto him the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, v.32, further Paul in his Epistle to Galatians Chap. 8 26 and 27 says "for ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized with Christ, have put on Christ.” Now our Saviour did not prescribe two different orders of Salvation, hence to believe and be baptized, must be the same, as to be born of water and of the spirit, if a man can be saved by faith and Baptism, if he is a child of God and puts on the Lord Jesus Christ by believing in Christ, and being baptized in Christ, then nothing more is essential; a man that believeth and puts on Christ is a new creature and the blessed fruit of such happy state will be, that be walks not after the flesh, but after the spírit. The words which Christ told to Nicodemus imply the same, that he declares Mark 16 16. I admit that a person may receive Baptism and is not regenerated, for only a believer can receive what Baptism gives and benefits. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Without faith, Baptism will not benefit us, though in itself it is an invaluable divine blessing, “for what if some did not believe ? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid.” Faith worketh by love hence a person that really believeth shall discover it to God, by a simple dependence upon Christ, and to men by the practice of good works. I do sincerely agree with the learned author of the essay in the Intelligencer, vol. 4 No. 8 (Influence of the holy spirit upon the soul,) that the whole work of -being born again” is made so dark, so inexplicable, that whilst it urges one inquiring soul to give up the task, another is unnecessarily and unnaturally driven into a state of despondency, and often delirium ; altogether foreign to what that rel
ion requires, in which Christ and his Apostles, whilst on earth, required sinners to believe, in order to obtain salvation." Let us then rejoice in the glorious blessings which we have received in our Baptism, but let us strive to make a good improvement of them. Let us walk in newness of life Romans 6 3 &c. Let us hold that fast which we have, that no man take our crown. Let us not be backward and lukewarm in that which is good. As we have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord