Page images

17. Episcopalian.-The clergy are ordered, before proceeding to baptize, to make the following prayer: *

"Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy great mercy, didst save Noah and his family in the Ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel, thy people, through the Red Sea; figuring thereby thy holy baptism; and by the baptism of thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, didst sanctify the element water, to the mystical washing away of sin; we beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon these thy servants; wash them and sanctify them with the Holy Ghost; that they, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the Ark of Christ's church; and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally they may come to the land of everlasting life; there to reign with thee, world without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

After reading a part of the discourse with Nicodemus, they are ordered to make the following exhortation: +

"Beloved, ye hear in this gospel the express words of our Saviour Christ, that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this sacrament, where it may be had. Likewise, immediately before his ascension into heaven, (as we read in the lest chapter of St. Mark's Gospel,) he gave command to his disciples, saying, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned. Which also showeth unto us the great benefit we reap thereby. For which cause St. Peter the Apostle, when upon his first preaching of the gospel many were pricked at the heart, and said to him and the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethreu, what shall we do? replied, and said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: for the promise is to you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words exhorted he them, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. For, as the same Apostle testifieth in another place, even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Doubt ye not, therefore, but earnestly believe that he will favorably receive these present persons, truly repenting, and coming unto him by faith; that he will grant them remission of their sins, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghost; that he will give them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom.”

18. The Methodist Creed says

"Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin, (and that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and they that are in the flesh cannot please God, but live in sin, committing many actual transgressions:) and that our Saviour Christ saith, None shall enter * Common Prayer, p. 165. + Page 165.

into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate, and born anew of water and of the Holy Ghost; I beseech you to call upon God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of of his bounteous goodness he will grant to these persons, that which by nature they cannot have; that they may be baptized with water and the Holy Ghost, and received into Christ's holy church, and be made lively members of the same."

Then it is ordained that the minister say, or repeat the following prayer:

"Almighty and immortal God, the aid of all that need, the helper of all that flee to thee for succor, the life of them that believe, and the resurrection of the dead: We call upon thee for these persons; that they coming to thy holy baptism, may receive remission of their sins, by spiritual regeneration. Receive them, O Lord, as thou hast promised by thy well-beloved Son, saying, Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you; so give unto us that ask; let us that seek, find; open the gate unto us that knock; that these persons may enjoy the everlasting benediction of the heavenly washing, and may come to the eternal kingdom which thou hast promised by Christ our Lord. Amen.”—Dis. p. 105.

19. Baptist.-Chapter xxx. Sec. 1.-"Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized a sign of his fellowship with him in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life."

The Baptist follows the Presbyterian church as survilely as the Methodist church follows the English hierarchy. But she avows her faith that immersion is a sign of remission. A sign of the past, the present, or the future! A sign accompanying!

20. Confession of Bohemia.-"We believe that whatsoever by baptism is in the outward ceremony signified and witnessed, all that doth the Lord God perform inwardly. That is, he washeth away sin, begetteth a man again, and bestoweth salvation upon him: for the bestowing of these excellent fruits was holy baptism given and granted to the church."

21. Confession of Augsburg.-"Concerning baptism, they teach that it is necessary to salvation, as a ceremony ordained of Christ: also, by baptism the grace of God is offered."

22. Confession of Saxony.-"I baptize thee-that is, I do witness that by this dipping, thy sins be washed away, and that thou art now received of the true God.”

23. Confession of Whittenburg.-"We believe and confess that baptism is that sea, into the bottom whereof, as the Prophet saith, God doth cast all our sirs."

24. Confession of Helvetia.-"To be baptized in the name of Christ, is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God; that is to say, to be called the sons of God, to be purged also from the filth

iness of sins, and to be endued with the manifold grace of God, for to lead a new and innocent life."

25. Confession of Sueveland.-"As touching baptism, we confess that it is the font of regeneration, washeth away sins and saveth us. But all these things we do understand as St. Peter doth interpret them. 1 Peter iii. 21."

Could any thing be added confirmatory of the creeds, we should look to the great Ecclesiastic Fathers, such as—

1. Barnabas, in his Catholic Epistle, chap. xi. says:-Let us now inquire whether the Lord took care to manifest any thing before hand, concerning water and the cross. Now, for the former of these, it is written to the people of Israel, how they shall not receive that baptism which brings to forgiveness of sins; but shall institute another to themselves that cannot. For thus saith the Prophet, Be astonished, O heavens! and let the earth tremble at it; because this people have done two great and wicked things: They have left me, the fountain of living waters, and have digged for themselves broken cisterns that can hold no water. Is my holy mountain, Zion, a desolate wilderness? For she shall be as a young bird when its nest is taken away.'--'Consider how he hath joined both the cross and the water together. For this he saith, 'Blessed are they, who, putting their trust in the cross, descend into the water; for they shall have their reward in due time: then, saith he, will I give it them.' But as concerning the present time, he saith, 'Their leaves shall not fail.'-Meaning thereby, that every word that shall go out of your mouth, shall, through faith and charity, be to the conversion and hope of many. In like manner does another Prophet speak: 'And the land of Jacob was the praise of all the earth;' magnifying thereby the vessels of his Spirit. And what follows? And there was a river running on the right hand, and beautiful trees grew up by it; and he that shall eat of them shall live forever.' The signification of which is this: that we go down into the water, full of sins and pollutions; but come up again bringing forth fruit; having in our hearts the fear and hope which are in Jesus by the Spirit: And whosoever shall eat of them shall live forever.' That is, whosoever shall hearken to those that call them, and shall believe, shall live forever."

2. Hermas deposes as follows, in a work of his called 'The Commands of Hermas :'

"And I said to him, I have even now heard from certain teachers, that there is no other repentance besides that of baptism; when we go down into the water, and receive the forgiveness of sins; and after that we should sin no more, but live in purity. And he said to meThou hast been rightly informed."

3. Justin Martyr wrote about forty years after John the Apostle died, and stands most conspicuous among the primitive Fathers.He addressed an apology to the Emperor Antoninus Pius. In this apology he narrates the practices of the Christians, and the reasons of them. Concerning those who are persuaded and believe the

things which are taught, and who promise to live according to them, he writes

"Then we bring them to some place where there is water, and they are regenerated by the same way of regeneration by which we were regenerated: for they are washed in water (en to udati,) in the name of God the Father and Lord of all things, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit: for Christ says, Unless you be regenerated you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; and every body knows it is impossible for those who are once generated (or born) to enter again into their mother's womb."

4. Tertullian, the first who mentions infant baptism, flourished about A. D. 216. He writes against the practice: and among his most conclusive arguments against infant immersion, (for then there was no sprinkling,) he assumes, as a fundamental principle not to be questioned, that immersion was for the remission of sins; and this being universally conceded, he argues as follows:

"Our Lord says, indeed, 'Do not forbid them to come to me;' therefore, let them come when they are grown up-let them come when they understand-when they are instructued whither it is that they come. Let them be made Christians when they can know Christ. What need their guiltless age make such haste to the forgiveness of sins? Men will proceed more warily in worldly goods; and he that should not have earthly goods committed to him, yet shall have heavenly! Let them know how to desire this salvation, that you may appear to have given to one that asketh."-p. 74.

5. Origen, though so great a visionary, is, nevertheless, a competent witness in any question of fact. And here I would again remind the reader, that it is as witnesses in a question of fact, and not of opinion, we summon these ancients. It is not to tell their own opinions or the reasons of them; but to depose what were the views of Christians on this institution in their times. There was no controversy on this subject for more than four hundred years, and therefore, we only expect to find incidental allusions to it; but these are numerous, and of the most unquestionable character. Origen, in his homily upon Luke, says:

"Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Of what sins? Or when have they sinned? Or how can any reason of the law, in their case, hold good, but according to that sense that we mentioned even now? (that is) none is free from pollution, though his life be but the length of one day upon the earth."

And in another place he says, that—

"The baptism of the church is given for the remission of sins." And again—

"If there were nothing in infants that wanted forgiveness and mercy, the grace of baptism would be needless to them."

In another place he says

"But in the regeneration, (or new birth,) by the laver, (or baptism) every one that is born again of water and the Spirit, is clear from pollution: clear (as I may venture to say) as by a glass darkly."

6. And as for Chrysostom, he expressly says "In baptism, or the spiritual circumcision, there is no trouble to be undergone but to throw off the load of sins, and receive pardon for all foregoing offences.” And again—"There is no receiving or having the bequeathed

inheritance before one is baptized; and none can be called a son until he is baptized.”

7. Cyprian. "While, says he, I lay in darkness and uncertainty, I thought on what I had heard of a second birth, proposed by the divine goodness, but could not comprehend how a man could receive a new life from his being immersed in water, cease to be what he was before, and still remain the same body. How, said I, can such a change be possible? How can he, who is grown old in a worldly way of living, strip himself of his former inclinations, and inveterate habits? Can he, who has spent his whole time in plenty, and indulged his appetite without restraint, ever be transformed into an example of frugality and sobriety? Or he who has always appeared in splendid apparel, stoop to the plain, simple, and unadorned dress of the common people? It is impossible for a man, who has borne the most honorable posts, ever to submit to lead a private and an obscure life: or that he who was never seen in public without a crowd of attendants and persons who endeavored to make their fortunes by attending him, should ever bear to be alone. This, continues he, was my way of arguing: I thought it was impossible for me to leave my former course of life, and the habits I was then engaged in and accustomed to: but no sooner did the life-giving water wash the spots off my soul, than my heart received the heavenly light of the Holy Spirit, which transformed me into a new creature; all my difficulties were cleared, my doubts dissolved, and my darkness dispelled. I was then able to do what before seemed impossible; could discern that my former life was earthly and sinful, according to the impurity of my birth; but that my spiritual birth gave me new ideas and inclinations, and directed all my views to God."

Cyprian flourished A. D. 250.

On what occasion or on what question could we with more propriety or with more confidence than on the present ask-"What need have we of farther testimony? We have heard the Harbinger of the Messiah and the Messiah himself; we have heard his holy Apostles and Evangelists; we have heard the primitive Apostolic church, the most venerable and reputable eeclesiastic Fathers; we have heard the Hebrew church, the Greek church, the Roman church, and all dissenting churches confess "ONE BAPTISM FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS." We have not only heard the renowned founders, reformers, and acknowledged oracles of all Protestant parties, but also have read in their own words, in the symbols, creeds, and formulas of their communion and intercommunion, their expositions and defences of Christian baptism as a sign and a seal of remission of all past sins-and again of confession and petition as the means of pardon for all sins committed after baptism. There is not only a general, but I might say a universal admission of the theory, with comparatively few dissentients, as respects the practice and explicit dispensation of the ordinance for this purpose.

Some, nay many have taught and exhibited baptism alone as an effectual mean of salvation and pardon. Hence originated infant baptism, and hence, too, originated a denial of baptism for remission of sins. This is the history of the whole controversy in one sentence. The Greek and Roman churches, during their apostacy, taught baptism alone, or without faith, for remission of sins. Some of the reformed churches, while they practised the papal rite of sprinkling babes, repudiated its connexion with the remission of sins, but were never able to give a good reason for this practice that did not imply such a belief.

Baptists, too, borrowing every thing from their pedobaptist brethren, but

« PreviousContinue »