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" It is not lawful for a Christian to use superfluities in apparel; as neither to use such games, sports, and plays, under the notion of recreations, as are not consistent with gravity and godly fear.”
As to both these propositions, there is no difference between Quakerism and Christianity. Only observe, touching the former, that the sin of superfluous apparel lies chiefly in the superfluous expense. To make it therefore a point of conscience to differ from others, as to the shape or colour of your apparel, is mere superstition ; let the difference lie in the price, that you may have the more wherewith to clothe them that have none.
“ It is not lawful for Christians to swear before a magistrate, nor to fight in any case.”
Whatever becomes of the latter proposition, the former is no part of Christianity; for Christ himself answered upon oath before a magistrate. Yea, he would not answer till he was put to his oath ; till the high priest said unto him, “I adjure thee by the living God.”
Friend, you have an honest heart, but a weak head; you have a zeal,but not according to knowledge. You was zealous once for the love of God and man, for holiness of heart and holiness of life.
You are now zealous for particular forms of speaking, for a set of phrases and opinions. Once your zeal was against ungodliness and unrighteousness, against evil tempers and evil works. Now it is against forms of prayer, against singing psalms or hymns, against appointing times of praying or preaching; against saying you to a single person, uncovering your head, or having too many buttons upon your coat. O what a fall is here! What poor trifles are these, that now well nigh engross your thoughts ! Come back, come back, to the weightier matters of the law, to spiritual, rational, Scriptural religion. No longer waste your time and strength in beating the air, in vain controversies and strife of words ; but bend your whole soul to the growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the continually advancing in that holiness, without which you cannot see the Lord.
A TREATISE ON BAPTISM.
CONCERNING baptism I shall inquire, what it is ; what benefits we receive by it; whether our Saviour designed it to remain always in his Church ; and who are the proper subjects of it.
I. 1. What it is. It is the initiatory sacrament which enters us into covenant with God. It was instituted by Christ, who alone has power to institute a proper sacrament, a sign, seal, pledge, and means of grace, perpetually obligatory on all Christians. We know not, indeed, the exact time of its institution; but we know it was long before our Lord's ascension. And it was instituted in the room of circumcision. For, as that was a sign and seal of God's covenant, so is this.
2. The matter of this sacrament is water; which, as it has a natural power of cleansing, is the more fit for this symbolical use. Baptism is performed by washing, dipping, or sprinkling the person, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who is hereby devoted to the ever
blessed Trinity. I say, by washing, dipping, or sprinkling ; because it is not determined in Scripture in which of these ways it shall be doné, neither by any express precept, nor by any such example as clearly proves it; nor by the force or meaning of the word baptize.
3. That there is no express precept, all calm men allow. Neither is there any conclusive example. John's baptism in some things agreed with Christ's, in others differed from it
. But it cannot be certainly proved from Scripture, that even John's was performed by dipping. It is true, he baptized in Enon, near Salim, where there was much water. But this might refer to breadth rather than depth ; since a narrow place would not have been sufficient for so great a multitude. Nor can it be proved, that the baptism of our Saviour, or that administered by his disciples, was by immersion. No, nor that of the eunuch baptized by Philip; though they both went down to the water :" for that going down may relate to the chariot, and implies no determinate depth of water. It might be up to their kness; it might not be above their ankles.
4. And as nothing can be determined from Scripture precept or example, so neither from the force or meaning of the word. For the words baptize and baptism do not necessarily imply dipping, but are used in other senses in several places. Thus we read, that the Jews " were all baptized in the cloud and in the sea ;" 1 Cor. x, 2; but they were not plunged in either. They could therefore be only sprinkled by drops of the sea water, and refreshing dews from the cloud ; probably intimated in that, “ Thou sentest a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and refreshedst it when it was weary," Psalm lxviii
, 9. Again: Christ said to his two disciples, “ Ye shall be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with,” Mark x, 38 ; but neither he nor they were dipped, but only sprinkled or washed with their own blood. Again we read, Mark vö, 4, of the baptisms (so it is in the original) of pots and cups, and tables or beds. Now, pots and cups are not necessarily dipped when they are washed. Nay, the Pharisees washed the outsides of them only. And as for tables or beds, none will suppose they could be dipped. Here, then, the word baptism, in its natural sense, is not taken for dipping, but for washing or cleansing. And, that this is the true meaning of the word baptize, is testified by the greatest scholars and most proper judges in this matter. It is true, we read of being “buried with Christ in baptism." But nothing can be inferred from such a figurative expression. Nay, if it held exactly, it would make as much for sprinkling as for plunging; since, in burying, the body is not plunged through the substance of the earth, but rather earth is poured or sprinkled upon it.
5. And as there is no clear proof of dipping in Scripture, so there is very probable proof of the contrary. It is highly probable, the Apostles themselves baptized great numbers, not by dipping, but by washing, sprinkling, or pouring water. This clearly represented the cleansing from sin, which is figured by baptism. And the quantity of water used was not material; no more than the quantity of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. The jailer " and all his house were baptized” in the prison; Cornelius with his friends, (and so several households,) at home. Now, is it likely, that all these had ponds or rivers, in or near their houses, sufficient to plunge them all ? Every unprejudiced person must allow, the contrary is far more probable. Again : Three thousand at ono time, and five thousand at another, were converted and baptized by St. Peter at Jerusalem ; where they had none but the gentle waters of Siloam, according to the observation of Mr. Fuller : “ There were no water mills in Jerusalem, because there was no stream large enough to drive them.” The place, therefore, as well as the number, makes it highly probable that all these were baptized by sprinkling or pouring, and not by immersion. To sum up all, the manner of baptizing (whether by dipping or sprinkling) is not determined in Scripture. There is no command for one rather than the other. There is no example from which we can conclude for dipping rather than sprinkling. There are probable examples of both; and both are equally contained in the natural meaning of the word.
II. 1. What are the benefits we receive by baptism, is the next point to be considered. And the first of these is, the washing away the guilt of original sin, by the application of the merits of Christ's death. That we are all born under the guilt of Adam's sin, and that all sin deserves eternal misery, was the unanimous sense of the ancient Church, as it is expressed in the Ninth Article of our own. And the Scripture plainly asserts, that we were “ shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mother conceive us ;" that “we were all by nature children of wrath, and dead in trespasses and sins ;" that “ in Adam all die;" that “ by one man's disobedience all were made sinners ;" that “ by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; which came upon all men, because all had sinned.” This plainly includes infants; for they too die; therefore they have sinned: but not by actual sin; therefore by original ; else what need have they of the death of Christ? Yea, “ death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned” actually “according to the similitude of Adam's transgression.” This, which can relate to infants only, is a clear proof that the whole race of mankind are obnoxious both to the guilt and punishment of Adam's transgression. But " as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men, to justification of life.” And the virtue of this free gift, the merits of Christ's life and death, are applied to us in baptism. “He gave himself for the Church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word;" Eph. v, 25, 26; namely, in baptism, the ordinary instrument of our justification. Agreeably to this, our Church prays in the baptismal office, that the person to be baptized may be " washed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and, being delivered from God's wrath, receive remission of sins, and enjoy the everlasting benediction of his heavenly washing ;" and declares in the rubric at the end of the office, “ It is certain, by God's word, that children who are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin are saved.” And this is agreeable to the unanimous judgment of all the ancient Fathers.
2. By baptism we enter into covenant with God; into that everlasting covenant, which he hath commanded for ever; Psalm cxi, 9; that new covenant, which he promised to make with the spiritual Israel ; even to “ give them a new heart and a new spirit, to sprinkle clean water upon them,” (of which the baptismal is only a figure,)“ and to remember their sins and iniquities no more ;' in a word, to be their God, as he promised
to Abraham, in the evangelical covenant which he made with him and all his spiritual offspring, Gen. xvü, 7, 8. And as circumcision was then the way of entering into this covenant, so baptism is now; which is therefore styled by the Apostle, (so many good interpreters render his words) “ the stipulation, contract, or covenant of a good conscience with God."
3. By baptism we are admitted into the church, and consequently inade members of Christ, its head. The Jews were admitted into the Church by circumcision, so are the Christians by baptism. For “ many as are baptized into Christ,” in bis name, “ have” thereby “put on Christ;" Gal. iii, 27; that is, are mystically united to Christ, and made one with him. For s by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body," 1 Cor. xii
, 13, namely, the Church, “ the body of Christ,” Eph. iv, 12. From which spiritual, vital union with him, proceeds the influence of his grace on those that are baptized; as from our union with the Church, a share in all its privileges, and in all the promises Christ has made to it.
4. By baptism, we who were “ by nature children of wrath,” are made the children of God. And this regeneration which our Church in so many places ascribes to baptism is more than barely being admitted into the Church, though commonly connected therewith; being“ grafted into the body of Christ's Church, we are made the children of God by adoption and grace.” This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," John iii, 5. By water then, as a means, the water of baptism, we are regenerated or born again ; whence it is also called by the Apostle, “ the washing of regeneration.” Our Church therefore ascribes no gr ter virtue to baptism than Christ himself has done. Nor does she ascribe it to the outward washing, but to the inward grace, which, added thereto, makes it a sacrament. Herein a principle of grace is infused, which will not be wholly taken away, unless we quench the Holy Spirit of God by long continued wickedness.
5. In consequence of our being made children of God, we are heirs of the kingdom of heaven. “If children,” (as the Apostle observes,) “then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Herein we receive a title to, and an earnest of,“ a kingdom which cannot be moved.” Baptism doth now save us, if we live answerable thereto; if we repent, believe, and obey the Gospel : supposing this, as it admits us into the Church here, so into glory hereafter.*
III. 1. But did our Saviour design this should remain always in his Church? This is the Third thing we are to consider. be dispatched in few words, since there can be no reasonable doubt, but it was intended to last as long as the Church into which it is the appointed means of entering. In the ordinary way, there is no other means of entering into the Church or into heaven.
2. In all ages, the outward baptism is a means of the inward ; as out
(* That Mr. Wesley, as a clergyman of the Church of England, was originally a high-churchman, in the fullest sense, is well known. When he wrote this treatise, in the year 1756, he seems still to have used some expressions, in relation to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which we at this day should not prefer. Some such, in the judgment of the reader, may perhaps be found under this second head. This last sentence, however, contains a guarded corrective. It explains also the sense in which we believe Mr. W. intended much of what goes before to be understood.)
And this may
ward circumcision was of the circumcision of the heart. Nor would it have availed a Jew to say, “ I have the inward circumcision, and therefore do not need the outward too :" that soul was to be cut off from his people. He had despised, he had broken, God's everlasting covenant, by despising the seal of it, Gen. xvii, 14. Now, the seal of circumcision was to last among the Jews as long as the law lasted, to which it obliged them. By plain parity of reason, baptism, which came in its room, must last among Christians as long as the Gospel covenant into which it admits, and whereunto it obliges, all nations.
3. This appears also from the original commission which our Lord gave to his Apostles: “Go, disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them. And lo! I am with you always even unto the end of the world." Now, as long as this commission lasted, as long as Christ promised to be with them in the execution of it, so long doubtless were they to execute it, and to baptize as well as to teach. But Christ hath promised to be with them, that is, by his Spirit, in their successors to the end of the world. So long, therefore, without dispute, it was his design that bapusm should remain in his Church.
VI. 1. But the grand question is, Who are the proper subjects of baptism? grown persons only, or infants also ? In order to answer this fuly, I shall, First, lay down the grounds of infant baptism, taken from Scripture, reason, and primitive, universal practice; and, Secondly, answer the objections against it.
2. As to the grounds of it: If infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism ; seeing, in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved, unless this be washed away by baptism. It has been already proved, that this original stain cleaves to every child of man ; and that hereby they are children of wrath, and liable to eternal damnation. It is true, the Second Adam has found a remedy for the disease which came upon all by the offence of the first. But the benefit of this is to be received through the means which he hath appointed; through baptism in particular, which is the ordinary means he hath appointed for that purpose ; and to which God hath tied us, though he may not have tied himself. Indeed, where it cannot be had, the case is different; but extraordinary cases do not make void a standing rule. This therefore is our First ground. Infants need to be washed from original sin; therefore they are proper subjects of baptism.
3. Secondly. If infants are capable of making a covenant, and were and still are under the evangelical covenant, then they have a right to baptism, which is the entering seal thereof. But infants are capable of making a covenant, and were and still are under the evangelical covenant.
The custom of nations and common reason of mankind prove that infants may enter into a covenant, and may be obliged by compacts made by others in their name, and receive advantage by them. But we have stronger proof than this, even God's own word: “ Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your captains, with all the men of Israel; your little ones, your wives and the stranger,--that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God,” Deut. xxix, 10–12. Now, God would never have made a covenant with little ones, if they had not been