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been so uncharitable as to deny that they were Christians. When I have taken a serious view of the doctrine of water baptism, and admitted, for the sake of examination, that it was necessary, I have always stumbled at the consequences which must connect with such a belief. If, for instance, we say that a soul cannot be saved unless the body of the person is dipped in water, or sprinkled by another, that the cona sequence must be, that the grace of God, or manifestation of the spirit, is not a sufficient means for salvation; that even the Almighty cannot perfect the salvation of man, without the aid of one of his creatures to sprinkle or dip the person to be saved. This I could never admit, and yet it must be admitted, if there is no salvation without. But there is, and has been salvation without it: for no one can be. lieve that the innumerable company which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, which stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, &c. were all baptized with water; yet if one of them was saved without, then salvation is possible without water baptism. But it is even probable that water baptism was not so much as heard of by many. of. them. The foregoing considerations on the subject were sufficient to satify me that this baptism was not a divine ordinance, intended to be necessary, or entaileil upon the church of Christ. But lest however it should be thought that this is not a sufficient enquiry into the subject, I will pursue it further. John the Baptist was sent to baptize with water unto repentance. But it does not appear to us that his dispensation or service ever extended to the opening of the mysteries of the kingdom of Christ: this, we believe remained to be separately reserved as the work of the spirit. And we apprehend we are authorized to hold this belief, because there is no evidence that any after John were commanded to practise the baptism of water. We find no proof that the mia nistration of John the Baptist was to be continued in the Christian church. And we doubt not but that every soul which is brought under the baptism of the spirit of Christ, and abides the refining operation of it, will be saved whether baptized with water or not; and therefore we believe that the only baptism which is saving, is the baptism of the spirit. Those who think otherwise, and can reconcile all the consequences of their watery baptism, must be left
until they may be favoured to see their way out of it. It is however desirable that when they have fulfilled this form, they may not sit down contented, and suppose the work of the soul's salvation is accomplished. For this I believe is a consequence which is very liable to attend all those who are dwelling on the falfilnent of outward ordinances; and such appears to have been the judgment of the apostle Paul. “ But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Gal. iv. 9, 10, 11. I might add many other passages from the Scriptures, to shew that a dependence upon outward means for salvation was disapproved of by the faithful.
- In order more fully to state the ground on which the society of Friends refuse to own water baptism, I may observe, that a main pillar in the profession of Friends, is that the grace of God, which has appeared unto all men, is all-sufficient for salvation. But if water baptism be indispensible, then is this grace or manifestation of the spirit not sufficient: and it ought to be said that by the baptism of water, and the gift of the holy spirit, man only can be saved ; and that though a soul experience the refining power of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, yet unless the body experience the influence of water baptism, there is no salvation possible. Should the latter be insisted upon, it will be necessary to resort to the Scriptures for proof. But though John baptized with water unto repentance, we do not find that he has in one instance held out that his baptism was sufficient; but he' points to Christ, as the all-sufficient baptizer. And it appears that for this end he was raised up and qualified; not as the advocates for water baptism suppose, to establish an outward ordinance in the Christian church; but to point to him, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. And thus he is spoken of by the prophet: “ the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, maké straight in the desert a highway for our God." Isaiah xl. 3. To this end he came, turning the Jews from their desert and wilderpess state to Christ, the Son of God. The pro. :
phet has, in this summary of the character and mission of John the Baptist, held up no system to be established by him ; neither has he shewn any connexion in the mission of this prophet and Christ; but simply that the former was a preparatory messenger to the Jews; a kind of outward witness which a merciful God condescended give them of the Messiah : that as they were told by the same prophet that Christ should come, so they might have in evidence his forerunner to prepare them, to let go their confidence in the desert and wilderness of ceremony, and be by him turned to Christ, the Lamb of God, who only can take away the sin of the world. To this end we believe John the Baptist came. The prophet Malachi has spoken of him more particularly by name.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Mal. iv. 5. But neither does he attribute to him the authority to set up or establish any system or ordinance in the church, or clothe this forerunner with power to administer any part of the means of salvation; and the evangelist Luke, who refers to this prophet, explains this Elijah to mean a messenger in the spirit and power of Elias;