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implied in a statement of its principles and leading positions. It is not, however, complete so far as its cumulative power is concerned. A large number of facts still remains, which, in their proper place, will strongly confirm every main position I have assumed. But here the regular operations of the mind are interrupted by the entrance of disturbing forces of great and bewildering power. In every fundamental investigation of the mode of baptism, three inquiries are commonly involved and combined. 1. The import of the word Bantico. 2. The original practice of the church. 3. The full and perfect signification of the rite. The influences of these two last inquiries on the question of philology, I call bewildering and disturbing forces—not because they are not important and legitimate objects of inquiry in their proper sphere; and not because they have no bearing on the main question of the mode—but because they have exercised over the question of philology, an unauthorized though unsuspected power. No attentive observer of the operations of the human mind can have failed to notice, that the impression of an argument, true and sound in itself, is often destroyed by the secret influence of some fact or principle, which does not appear in the discussion. These deep under-currents have frequently a power entirely superior to the logical force of the argument presented, and produce a state of mind which, if expressed in words, would be in substance this: “All this looks well enough; it is quite plausible, to be sure; but still it cannot be true ; there must be an error somewhere." States of mind like this—felt but not announced—often do more to break the strength of an argument, than
any direct perception of its falsehood.
this discussion, in a part of the edition, which the reader is
42, line 8, for models read modes,
that the philological argument has been stated, I have no doubt that the thought will arise in many a mind: “Well, after all, it is a fact that the early Christians did universally immerse, and did attach great importance to that form; and they surely understood the import of the word as well as we. Besides, the rite is designed to represent, not merely purification from sin, but purification in a way significant of the death and resurrection of Christ, as we are expressly told in Rom. 6: 2, 3, and Col. 2: 12. All these learned philological inquiries are no doubt very fine, and quite plausible; but the single expression, “buried with Christ in baptism,” is enough to dissipate them all. Now, while these under-currents of thought are overlooked, it is in vain to attempt to give to the philological argument, however sound in itself, any power at all. As some mighty stream, undermining banks, trees and houses, precipitates them together into the flood, and hurries them along in promiscuous ruin, so do these deep under-currents undermine and lay prostrate the walls of the best-compacted logical fabric. Considerations like these, indeed, produce a greater popular effect than reasonings, however profound. The ideas lie upon the surface, and are therefore easily stated and easily apprehended.
It is essential, then, to inquire what are the facts on the first of these points, and what is their bearing on the philological question ? Having done this, we may resume and review our investigations.
8 23. What, then, are the facts, as it regards the practice of the earlier ages of the church? I am willing freely and fully to concede that, in the primitive church, from the earliest period of which we have
any historical accounts, immersion was the mode generally practised, and, except in extraordinary cases, the only mode. I do not mean that these remarks shall apply to the apostolic age, but to the earliest historical ages of the uninspired primitive church. The practice of the apostolic age, I shall
Fathers themselves. For a comprehensive, clear and definite view of the great outlines of primitive practice in this respect, I know of no passages more full, and at the same time eloquent, than the sermons of Augustine to the Neophytes, pp. 97-99, vol. i., supp., Paris, 1555. I do not mean that the early practice included all which is stated by Augustine; for many superstitious usages had, by this time, become prevalent. It is the main outline to which I refer. But admitting these things to be facts, what then? Does it follow of course, that the Fathers were led to adopt this form by a belief that the import of the word Bontíšw is to immerse ? This I know seems very generally to have been taken for granted on both sides of the question. For example, Professor Stuart, after an able and clear exhibition of the proof that the early churches did baptize by immersion, says: “In what manner, then, did the churches of Christ, from a very early period, to say the least, understand the word Boatiču in the New Testament? Plainly they construed it as meaning immersion.” “That the Greek Fathers, and the Latin ones who were familiar with the Greek, understood the usual import of the word Bentito, would hardly seem to be capable of a denial.” Bib. Rep. Vol. III. 362. Now, all this is manifestly based on the assuinption, that the practice of the Fathers in this case is an infallible index of their philology; i.e. if they did in fact immerse, they must of course have believed that Bantigo means to immerse. Indeed, this seems generally to have been regarded as a first principle, an indisputable truth. As long as it is so regarded, the facts already stated, as to early practice, will exert a strong, disturbing influence on the mind. The scholar in the region of philology and logic finds all plain; but he enters the dizzy and bewildering region of early practice, and his brain reels, his energy is dissolved, and some unseen power seems to be wresting his previous philological conclusions from his grasp. Indeed, if it is a sound principle that we must infer the opinions of the Fathers, as to the import of Banrico, from their practice, I see not how he can avoid letting them go; for of the facts there can be no doubt. But it is high time to ask: Is the principle sound ? is it logical ? has it any force at all? It may seem adventurous to call in question a principle so generally received and so firmly believed. Nevertheless, I am compelled to say that I cannot perceive that the position is based on any sound principle of philology or logic; nay, it seems to me that there is abundant evidence that it is entirely illogical and unsound. 1. Because, where a given result may have been produced by many causes, it is never logical to assume, without proof, that it is the result of any one of them alone. The proper course is, to inquire which of the possible causes was, in fact, the real and efficient cause of the result in question. 2. Because, on making the inquiry, it appears manifest to me, that the practice in question did not originate in a belief that the word Barrio means immerse, but in entirely different and independent causes. Suppose now the word to mean to purify, it is neither impossible nor improbable, that certain local and peculiar causes may have led to some one mode of purifying rather than another, and that this mode may have been immersion; and if all these things may have been so, who has a right to assume, without proof, that they were not so? I believe that they were. If it is inquired: What causes they were? I answer: 1. Oriental usages and the habits of warmer regions. 2. A false interpretation of Rom. 6: 3, 4, and Col. 2: 12. 3. A very early habit of ascribing peculiar virtue to external forms. The first cause is sufficient to begin the practice; the other two to extend, perpetuate and confirm it. Now, if it can be shown that these causes did exist, and did operate, and had great power, then a sufficient account of the origin and progress of the usage may be given by these alone; and thus, all presumption against the meaning I have assigned to Bantito, or in favor of the sense to immerse, will be taken away; and thus, the way will be prepared to resume the direct philological proof, that in the earlier ages the word Borrico did mean purify But of their existence or their power, can there be a doubt? Did not Christianity begin in the warm regions of the East, and in the midst of a people whose climate, habits, costume and mode of life were all adapted to bathing ? and was not the practice nearly universal ? Hence nothing could be more natural than its use on convenient occasions, as a mode of religious purifying; and if, as some maintain, the form had been previously used as a religious rite, nothing could be more natural than its adoption as a mode of purifying in the church. As to the interpretation of Rom. 6:3,4, and Col. 2: 12, as referring to the external form, all may not be ready to concede that it was false; yet that it was early prevalent and powerful, no one, I think, at all acquainted with the facts of the case, will deny. But of this, more in another place. As to a superstitious attachment to forms—who can deny it? nay, who
that is a Protestant does ? Evidence of it throngs on every page that records the early history of the church. To omit all else, the history of this rite alone would furnish volumes of proof. Let the holy water-the baptismal chrism, to symbolize and bestow the Holy Spirit—the putting on of white robes after baptism, to symbolize the putting on of Christ—the baptism of men and women perfectly naked, to denote their entire moral nakedness before putting on Christ let the anointing of the eyes and ears, to denote the sanctification of the senses—let the eating of honey and milk—the sign of the cross; and finally, let baptismal regeneration—the sum and completion of all these formal tendencies—bear witness to the mournful truth. Now, when the tendencies to formalism and superstition were so allpervading and almost omnipotent, what could avert a blind and superstitious devotion to an early form-one especially in which so much was supposed to be involved, both of emblematical import and of sanctifying power.
§ 24, Having now pointed out causes, amply sufficient in extent and power, to account for the early prevalence of immersion, and thus removed all presumption against the sense I claim, Í will resume, and exhibit more fully the philological evidence, that the early understanding of the church was, that Bantito, as a religious term, did signify to purify. I shall, i, notice more at large those cases in which it is not only in the highest degree probable that Buntíto has the sense to purify, but, in which it is positively absurd to assign it any other meaning. For examples of such cases, see § 21: 2, 3. 2. Show that a very large number of coincident facts sustains and gives verisimilitude to this view. The argument already presented is, to my own mind, perfectly conclusive. For it has been shown that the sense to purify is, a priori, probable according to the laws of language and of the mind, and from the nature of the subject. See 90 4—7. It has also been shown that the fair and obvious import of a large class of passages demands the sense ; that the coincidence of so many separate probabilities brings together an array of proof that cannot be broken; and also, that no opposite probabilities exist. See $$ 8—21. Still, it
may be felt, if not said, how much better, in a case so important, to have proof so clear, unequivocal and decided, that the opposite sense shall not only be highly improbable, but