Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptism Book IV 1851

B O O K   F O U R T H. The Design of Baptism Chapter I and II

CHAPTER I.

AS there cannot be a general providence without a special one, so there cannot be a general design in the Christian Institution without a specific design in every part of it. If, indeed, religion be a reasonable service, there must be a reason for every part of it; and that reason, whatever it may be, is the proper design of it; for reason without design is inconceivable. Reason and design are, indeed, inseparable; or, rather, they are two names for the same thing. Now, as the whole universe is but one grand system of designs terminating in one grand result, so the Christian Institution is one great system of means and ends terminating in one grand consummation--the supreme glory of its Author, in the purity and happiness of his intelligent and moral offspring.

The gospel system is a system of redemption--a deliverance of its subjects from ignorance, guilt, and bondage. It contemplates a new creation--a transformation of man in body, soul, and spirit. It is, therefore, a great system of physical, moral, and spiritual means and ends. Hence, its doctrine, its precepts, and its promises are but developments of a remedial system, originating in the benevolence of God, guided by his wisdom, and perfected by his power.

This scheme of mercy has its parts; and each of these parts has its own peculiar object. Faith is not a substitute for repentance, holiness, or righteousness; but a means to these ends. As a means, it is, indeed, indispensable to every one of them. Prayer, reading or hearing, and meditation are means of sanctification. But any one of these, without the other, would be incomplete and incompetent to the end proposed. So of the positive institutions of the Christian system. Baptism, the Lord's day, and the Holy Supper are indispensable provisions [247] of remedial mercy. Not one of them can be dispensed with by any one who desires the perfection of the Christian state and of the Christian character. Eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising, though not of the same nor of equal importance, are, nevertheless, all essential to the preservation and comfortable enjoyment of the human system.

These things premised, we are induced, according to our plan, to institute an inquiry into the use of Christian baptism, or, rather, into the design of it. It is a conspicuous and prominent part of the Christian religion, and is spoken of and alluded to more than one hundred times in the New Testament. It is worthy of a full examination, and of the most respectful consideration and regard. It could not occupy so much space in so small a volume, and yet be considered as a matter of indifference, or of but little importance. We must, therefore, regard it with the respect and reverence due to a very prominent divine institution.

But the design of this institution has long been thrown into the shade because of the wordy and impassioned controversy about what the action is, and who may be the proper subject of it. Now, it must be confessed that, whatever importance there may be in settling these questions, that importance is wholly to be appreciated by the design of the institution. This is the only value of it. The question concerning the value of any action is incomparably superior to the question, What is the act itself? or to the questions, Who may perform it? or, Upon whom may it be performed? We are, therefore, induced to believe that the question now before us is the all-interesting important question--indeed, the transcendent question in this discussion.

The appeal, therefore, must be made to the proper tribunal. It must be carried up to the Apostles and Evangelists of Jesus Christ. What, then, do they propose as the deign of New Testament baptism? We say New Testament baptism, because we have in that book "THE BAPTISM OF JOHN," and the baptism ordained by Jesus Christ. Although not one, nor identical, they may materially unfold and illustrate each other. They both came from heaven. They both immersed believing and penitent persons, and were alike indicative of divine wisdom and benevolence.

The Harbinger was sent "to prepare a people for the Lord." [248] He designed to enlighten and purify them. Hence he was both a preacher of faith and reformation, and proclaimed "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." It would, then, appear from the very annunciation of John's baptism, that its design was of a transcendently important and interesting character.

The form of expression is exceedingly familiar and intelligible; and, were it not for an imaginary incongruity between the means and the end, or the thing done and the alleged purpose or result, no one could, for a moment, doubt that the design of baptism was "for the remission of sins."

The form of expression is the most common in language, and especially in the simple and sacred style of the Apostles and Evangelists. From the few examples at the foot of the page, any one may see with what little reason and evidence any one can intimate that the form of the expression does not indicate the design of an action. Indeed, if this preposition does not intimate design, we might well ask, What other word in that language could suggest such an idea?

Nor is it only casually intimated that New Testament [249] baptism was ordained for this purpose. It is the only purpose for which it was ordained; whether in the hands of John or of the twelve Apostles. What could be more plain or intelligible than such forms of expression as the following:--"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." (Mark i. 4.) It was not a baptism, but the baptism of repentance. It was not for remission of sins, but for the remission of sins. The fixtures of language could not more safely secure the intention of an institution. It was not because your sins have been remitted; but it is for, or in order to the remission of sins.

Nor is this a form of expression peculiar to one Evangelist. Luke, as well as Mark, uses the same formula:--"And John came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Luke iii. 3. John's baptism was as certainly "for the remission of sins" as it was "the baptism of repentance." The death of the Messiah, or the blood of the new covenant; was not more certainly for the remission of sins, so far as the expression goes, than was the baptism of John for the remission of sins. Indeed, they are not merely similar, but are identical expressions in both cases. It does not, however, follow that they are in the same sense "for the remission of sins." But that they are, in some sense, for the remission of sins, can be denied by no man who either understands the language of the Bible or the language of men.

From the apostolic style, one might as reasonably 

conclude that Jesus died because man's sins had been remitted, or because the sin of the world had been taken away, ash that men are to be baptized, or that John baptized men "because their sins had been remitted." To take such freedom with language, with the language of the Bible, would be to make the word of God of no effect; or, what is the same thing, of no certain interpretation: in other words, of no meaning. If goods are laid up for past years--if men buy food for those who never can use it--if men provide money for the expenses of journeys already paid for,--then may it be said that John baptized for sins already remitted; or that his baptism was for those who were already cleansed from their pollutions. 

When the Lord said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world," does he not intimate that he had a design in coming into the world? When Stephen said that [250] Pharaoh cast put the children of the Israelites to the end that they might not live, does he not mean that their destruction was designed by their exposure? When Stephen again says (Acts vii. 5) that God promised Canaan to Abraham "for a possession," was it not his design to invest him with that inheritance? And when it is said by the people of Damascus, (Acts ix. 21,) that Saul of Tarsus came to that city "for the intent that he might" persecute the disciples; and if, eis, the word always used when baptism and remission of sins are connected, be the word in all these cases containing the sense of "FOR," "in order to," "to the intent that," or "for the intent," shall we hesitate to allow, that, in connection with remission of sins, it has the same meaning; or, that our translators so understood it? Should any one be so regardless of his reputation, he would be as unsafe as unworthy to be reasoned with on any question of religion or morality, whenever he stands committed to its affirmative or negative.

So far, then, as the force of the preposition is of any consequence or value to show a connection between baptism and remission of sins, it is incontrovertibly indicative of that connection. But were it translated in every case by into or unto, (versions of the word very common in all writings, sacred and profane,) it is as certainly, though not so obviously to all minds, indicative of such a connection. To baptize into remission, or unto remission, intimates that the subject of that act is about passing into a new state; as entering into partnership, or entering into marriage, indicates that it is for such purposes the action, whatever it may be, is performed. "Unto what, then, were you baptized?" (Acts xix. 3,) is equivalent to the question, For what were you, then, baptized; or, into what were you, then, baptized? In either case, the relation of the person baptized is changed.

It only remains in this part of our essay that we present, in the order of the inspired books, all the passages that plainly import any connection between baptism and remission of sins. They are the following:--

1. "John did baptize--and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mark i. 4. [251 

2. "The people of Judea and Jerusalem were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins." Mark i. 5.

3. "And he came into all the country about the Jordan preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Luke iii. 3.

4. "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins." Acts ii. 38.

5. "Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, invoking the name of the Lord." Acts xxii. 16. These are oracles as express and explicit as any we can imagine. Any one of them would establish the connection for which we plead. For, if once such a connection is clearly established, it depends not upon the repetition of it, but upon the clearness and definiteness of the expression of it. This is intimated clearly in another passage:--

6. "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Eph. iv. 5.

Now, if there be but one baptism, and if it appear that both the New Testament dispensations of baptism, by John and by the Apostles, clearly affirm a connection between baptism and remission of sins--must it not follow that the only diviner-instituted baptism is for the remission of sins.

It may, however, tend to the confirmation of those halting between two opinions, to inquire, whether there be any other connection between baptism and any thing else noted in the Christian Scriptures; and, if so, of what nature and kind it is?

In the first place, then, no one is commanded to be baptized for any thing else; and no one is ever said to have been baptized for any thing else, than for the remission of sins. This is a very important fact, and worthy of much reflection.

I know, indeed, it may be said that there are two or three forms of expression that might be translated in such a way as to intimate some other connection. For example:--

"As many of you as were baptized for Jesus Christ were baptized for his death." Rom. vi. 3.

"Know you not that all our fathers were baptized for Moses--in the cloud and in the sea?" 1 Cor. x. 2.

"For by one Spirit we are all baptized for one body." 1 Cor. xii. 13.

"For as many of you as have been baptized for Jesus Christ, have been baptized for his death."

These four passages complete the canon--the whole volume [252] on the subject of the relation of baptism to spiritual rights, privileges, and honours. We have, for the sake of uniformity, and of giving weight to all conceivable objections, preferred the common version of these passages.

The reader will remember, that in all these it is, in the common version, "into Christ," "into his death," "into one body," &c. Whether, then, we read for or into one body, and for or into his death, the sense is the same. If any one be baptized for the Lord, for his death, or for his body, as a design, as an end, it is for the sake of the rights, privileges, and honours of his body, or for the sake of the rights, privileges, and honours accruing from his death, his church, or himself. Of all these, remission of sins is the leading and the introductory blessing--from which follow, as consequences, all spiritual privileges, honours, and immunities. "For, if you be Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Evident, then, it is, that there is no specific design on account of which any one can constitutionally be baptized, except it be for the remission of sins previously committed. We are not commanded to be baptized for faith, for repentance, for justification for regeneration, for sanctification, for adoption, for the Holy Spirit, for eternal life. We are commanded to be baptized "for the remission of sins" not for the remission of "original sin"--not for the remission of sins yet to be committed or in advance; but for the remission of sins that are past, that have been committed, "through the forbearance of God."

True, when immersed into Christ, we have "put on Christ;" and, of course, are in him and under him, interested in all the provisions of that covenant of life and salvation of which he is the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and the Mediator. Still, through faith and repentance, we are commanded to be baptized for one specific purpose, just as much as we celebrate the Lord's day and the Lord's supper for a specific purpose. Every Christian institution has, indeed, its own peculiar and specific object, which can be neither secured nor enjoyed so well any other way.

Having, then, philologically ascertained that, in the sacred writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of our King, the baptisms of the New Testament were all for the remission of sins, and for no other specific purpose; our second leading inquiry must be, In what sense is baptism for the remission of sins. The connection between baptism and remission being now fully ascertained [253] and established, the nature of that connection comes deservedly under our immediate examination.

The relations of time in which one thing may stand to another, are antecedent, simultaneous, and consequent. But the question is not about their relations as respects mere time, place, or circumstance; but as respects natural or necessary dependence--such as that of cause and effect. We contemplate the relations of persons and things with regard to the causes of their existence or the various influences which they may exert on one another. When a man's salvation, for example, is sometimes ascribed to faith, to repentance, to baptism, to the grace of God, to the blood of Christ, to his own efforts, we are desirous to know why a man's salvation should be assigned to so many causes. To prevent confusion, or to relieve the mind from a perplexed, indistinct, and imperfect conception of the influences of numerous and various causes, affecting the existence of any thing, either as respects itself or our conceptions of it, we have given to the word cause a very comprehensive meaning, and have been obliged to select names to express the various applications of the word. Thus, we have a moving or original cause, an efficient or meritorious cause, an instrumental cause, a concurrent cause, a final cause.

Every theory of redemption and salvation, with more or less clearness of perception and precision of expression, admits the necessity of such distinctions as these. Since the days of St. Augustine, Calvin, and Luther, since the Jansenists and their rival orders of monkery, all writers and reasoners on this subject, have been constrained to admit of a system of causes cooperating in man's salvation.

The kingdoms of nature,--mineral, vegetable, and animal,--are replete with such combinations of concurring causes in the various results of the divine wisdom, power and goodness. There is not any thing in the universe of created things, that is the result of a single cause, as to its being, its continued being, or to its well-being. Indeed, the different attributes of God himself are so many concurrent causes in our conceptions of things, both material and mental. Portions of nature, celestial and terrestrial, are to be ascribed to his wisdom, his knowledge, [254] his power, his goodness; and every single result has in it the concurrence of all these.

But, to keep distinctly before our minds the design and place of Christian baptism--(for we must observe, that for most minds, it is enough to read the precept, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, for the remission of sins," without presuming to comprehend or develop the necessity of it)--two facts are most obvious:--First, that all men alike need the Christian institution; second, that, whatever any one institution is to any one proper subject of it, it is in some degree the same to every other proper subject of it. Therefore, we all need every divine institution.

Philosophers are generally more curious and inquisitive than wise. They delight to comprehend every thing, or to assume to understand all mysteries. But who can specify, enumerate, and sort up the causes that convert one grain of corn into the flesh, blood, bones, and covering of a man, a horse, or any other animal that lives upon it? Or can set forth the number, the variety, and the order of the causes that are necessary to animal life, health and comfort? If not, then why so dogmatical and pragmatical--so inquisitive and positive--so dictatorial and absolute in matters solely depending upon the positive will and law of God?

To conclude our remarks on this part of the subject, we must assign to every institution of Heaven its own proper place, whether in nature, in providence, or in redemption. We must give to grace, to faith, to repentance, to baptism, to the purpose of the Father, to the blood of the Son, to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit--to each of these severally its proper place and importance in redemption and salvation; and to all of them a concurrent efficacy in the rescue and delivery of man from sin, misery, and ruin.

While, then, we must say with Peter, "Baptism doth also now save us," we will also say with Paul, that "we are saved by grace," "justified by faith," "redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus," "sanctified by the Spirit of our God," and with James, that "a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."

We do not, however, place baptism among good works. Good works have our brethren, and neither God nor ourselves, for their object. They directly and immediately terminate upon man; while, in their reflex influence, they glorify God, and [255] beatify ourselves. In baptism, we are in spirit, as well as in person, buried with the Lord, "wherein also we are raised with him." Dead men neither bury themselves nor raise themselves to life again. In baptism, we are passive in every thing but in giving our consent. We are buried and we are raised by another. Hence, in no view of baptism can it be called a good work. The influence which baptism may have upon our spiritual relations is, therefore, not because of any merit in the act as our own; not as a procuring cause, but merely as an instrumental and concurring cause, by which we "put on Christ," and are united to him formally as well as in heart, entering into covenant with him, and uniting ourselves to him in his death, burial, and resurrection. Hence, said the Apostle, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death"--"have put on Christ."

While, then, baptism is ordained for remission of sins, and for no other specific purpose, it is not as a procuring cause, as, a meritorious or efficient cause, but as an instrumental cause, in which faith and repentance are developed and made fruitful and effectual in the changing of our state and spiritual relations to the Divine Persons whose names are put upon us in the very act.

It is also a solemn pledge and a formal assurance on the part of our Father, that he has forgiven all our offences--a positive, sensible, solemn seal and pledge that, through faith in the blood of the slain Lamb of God, and through, repentance, or a heartfelt sorrow for the past, and a firm purpose of reformation of life, by the virtues of the great Mediator, we are thus publicly declared forgiven, and formally obtain the assurance of our acceptance and pardon, with the promised aid of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and furnish us for every good thought, and word, and work.

Some have such a puerile and inadequate conception of Christian baptism, as to regard it as a mere ceremonial introduction into the church--a way of making a profession of the Christian religion--no way affecting the spiritual relations of the subject. This view of it ought to have been expressed by such a precept as the following:--"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for admission into the church." But no such precept, in form, in substance, or in sense, is found in God's own book. As we have, then, but one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and [256] that baptism is "for the remission of sins"--to give us, through faith and repentance, a solemn pledge and assurance of pardon, any other baptism is a human invention and of no value; wanting, as it does, the sanction of the Lord Jesus, who ordained it, and submitted to the baptism of John as an example to others to honour and obey every divine institution. But there are other passages of Sacred Scripture that both illustrate and confirm the views now presented.

It is a very important and interesting fact, that no great doctrine or institution of Christianity wholly depends upon a single passage, or even upon a mere plurality of passages. Such is not the Lord's way of teaching his will to weak and erring mortals. He gives us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; wisdom for the wise, knowledge for the prudent, and information for all. No great doctrine; no important principle, no solemn, moral, or religious duty ever was confined to a single enunciation. The more important the duty or the more valuable the privilege, the more ample, explicit, and frequent the allusion to it, except in cases so plain and of such easy intelligence and comprehension that he may run that reads it.

Baptism, a new institution, is an ordination of great significance, and of the most solemn and sublime importance. It is a sort of embodiment of the gospel; and a solemn expression of it all in a single act. Hence the space and the place assigned it in the commission. It is a monumental and commemorative institution, bodying forth to all ages the great facts of man's redemption as developed and consummated in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, immediately upon the first constitutional promulgation of it on the part of the Christian Lawgiver and Saviour, he adds, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."

This has in all past time, and will in all future time impart to this institution a solemnity, a significance, and an importance which no art or ingenuity of corrupted Christianity can long obscure or successfully deface. It will give to it an authority and a claim upon the understanding, the conscience, and the affections of the humble and the devout, which no sophistry or hardihood can weaken or destroy. To associate faith and baptism as antecedents, whose consequent is salvation, no matter what the connection may be, will always impart to the [257] institution a pre-eminence above all other religious institutions in the world. The Lord does not say, he that believeth and obeys this or that moral precept shall be saved; but "He that believeth the gospel and is baptized shall be saved." This very intelligible and prominent annunciation, just before his ascension, greatly explains and justifies the new precept promulged by Peter, a few days afterwards, when the ascended Lord had sent down his Holy Spirit to advocate his cause. Peter, after the new light imparted in the commission, feared not to say to the inquiring Jews, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins." Nor did any one, so far as the history of the apostolic labors is reported, ever express a doubt or an inquiry upon the connection thus solemnly established between faith, repentance, baptism, and remission or salvation. So far from this, that the Apostles frequently allude to the subject in their epistles as though, by universal consent, it was understood to be a symbol of moral purification--a washing away of sin in a figure, declarative of a true and real remission of sin--a format and definite release of the conscience from the feeling of guilt and all its condemnatory power.

There remains, in the historical books of the New Institution, another very striking evidence of the proper design of Christian baptism. It being a change of the verbiage of Peter, and from another speaker, and addressed to a great sinner, it is peculiarly striking and impressive. It is the address of Ananias to Saul of Tarsus, than whom had not then lived a more fierce and hostile spirit opposed to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth. When commanded to wait for a message from the Lord, Ananias waited upon him; and, after a very short introduction, be said to Saul of Tarsus, "Arise, brother Saul, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, invoking the name of the Lord." A most unguarded and unjustifiable form of address, under the sanction of a divine mission, if baptism had not for its design the formal and definite remission of sins, according to the Pentecostian address.

From the express authority and evidence of Apostles and Evangelists, without any inferential reasoning, we feel constrained to conclude that the baptisms of this New Testament, both of John and Jesus, were for the true, real, and formal remission of sins, through faith in the Messiah, and a genuine repentance towards God. We shall, however, for the sake of [258] some of our readers who are slow to believe all that the Apostles have spoken, devote to the subject another essay, in the further examination of the sacred writings, and in some notices of the traditions of the fathers.

   1 The preposition translated for in this connection of means and designs is often so translated; and might have been hundreds of times much better so translated in the common version of the New Testament, than by into or unto, or to.    We shall give a few examples, selected out of many such in the common version:--    Matt. v. 13: "It is good for nothing." "Take no thought for to-morrow:" vi. 34. "Do it for a testimony to them:" viii. 4. "For a testimony against them:" x. 18. "Shed for many for the remission of sins:" xxvi. 28. "Told for a memorial of her." xxvi.13. "Gave them for the potter's field"--"for the burial of strangers:' xxvii. 7, 8.    Do not these indicate the design or the end for which a thing is given or done? Did not the Messiah shed his blood for the remission of sins? Was not the money given for the potter's field? Was it not for the burial of strangers?    As Luke writes "the Gospel" and "Acts of the Apostles," we shall give a few examples from him also:--"For the fall and arising of many in Israel." "For a sign which shall be spoken against:' Luke ii. 34. "For, therefore, [for this purpose,] I am sent:" iv. 43. "Take nothing for your journey" ix. 3. "Buy meat for all this people:" ix. 13. "He is not fit for the kingdom of God." ix. 62. "Goods laid up for many years:" xii. 19. "It is not fit for the land, or for the dunghill:" xiv. 24. "Be baptized for the remission of sins:" Acts ii. 38. "Gave it to him for a possession:" vi. 5. "Nourished him for her own son:" vi. 21. "Came here for that intent:" ix. 21. "Are come up for a memorial:" x. 4. "For the work I have appointed them:" xiii.2. "That thou shouldest be for salvation:" xiii. 47. "For the work which they fulfilled:' xiv. 26. These are but a few examples from Luke. [249]    2 Here it is eiV, for, to the end that, the word always used in reference to "baptism for the remission of sins." [251]    3 See, in Book v., the article on Justification. [254]

CHAPTER II.

DESIGN OF BAPTISM.

EVERY divine institution has its own specific design. They all, indeed, have one grand, general design;--the glory of God, and the happiness of man. But, as neither the glory of God nor the happiness of man consists in one item, or in one manifestation, his precepts and our acts of obedience are necessarily both numerous and various. Nature and religion being the offspring of the same supremely wise and benevolent mind, may be supposed to carry in them conclusive evidence of the same divine original. Hence, the numerous and various parables and allusions to nature on the part of the great Teacher, while developing that gracious institution, of which he is the beginning, middle, and end.

Now as in nature, no one ordinance or institution can become a substitute of another, so, in Christianity, no one, ordinance can either be dispensed with or substituted for another, but at the detriment and loss of the subject. There is a specific virtue in every ordinance of religion, as in every ordinance of nature. There is no substitute for air, light, heat, or moisture, in either the vegetable or animal kingdom; and there is no substitute for faith, repentance, and baptism, in the present dispensation of grace. It is not for us to ask, nor is it due to us from God to give, the reason why. He ordains and commands blessings to be bestowed in his own way; and it is alike our duty and our happiness implicitly to obey and enjoy them. We have only to ascertain the fact that God has so commanded, and our duty then is to obey.

All the ordinances of Christianity are means of grace. Faith, repentance, baptism, the Lord's day; the Lord's supper, the church and its ministry, are all means of grace. There are, indeed, many graces requisite to the completion and perfection of Christian character. There is the grace of faith--the grace [259] of repentance--the grace of forgiveness--the grace of justification--the grace of sanctification--the grace of adoption--the grace of assurance--the grace of perfection--the grace of happiness. There are means of each and of all of these graces. Is there the grace of faith? There are the means of faith; the well-attested testimony of God. Is there the grace of repentance? There are the arguments drawn from our guilt and God's infinite mercy. Is there the grace of forgiveness? There are the blood of Christ, the love of God, and the promises addressed to our faith. Is there the assurance of pardon? There is baptism for the remission of sins; and, as a consequence, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Spirit. Is there the grace of justification? There are the death of Christ; faith in it, repentance, and a baptism into his death. Is there the grace of adoption? There is the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God. Is there the grace of perfection? There are the precepts, the example of Christ, the Lord's day, the Lord's supper, the fellowship and prayers of kindred spirits, and the obedience of faith. Is there the grace of happiness? Then there are the love of God shed abroad in the heart, the favour of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Ghost--a pledge and an earnest of the eternal rest.

But we have now before us the special design of baptism, as the assurance of remission; a pledge of pardon, of our burial with Christ, and our resurrection to a new life. This is "baptism for the remission of sins." That baptism was designed for the remission of sins, for a pledge and an assurance of pardon, through the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; we shall now first proceed to prove.

1. Testimony of the Harbinger himself: "In those days came John the Baptist; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mark, the Evangelist; chap. i. 2, 3, 4.

2. Luke also affirms, chap. iii. 3: "And he came into all the country about the Jordan preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."

3. Peter, to whom the keys of the approaching Reign of Heaven were committed by the Lord in person, in opening the [260] gospel kingdom, when first asked by penitent believers what they should do in order to remission, answers--"Repent," or reform, "and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins." Acts ii. 37.

4. This connection between faith and baptism for the remission of sins, nay, for salvation itself, was, indeed, first announced by the Lord in person, in giving the commission after his resurrection--"Preach the gospel to every creature." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mark xvi. 16.

5. Ananias, sent specially to Saul of Tarsus by the Lord, preaches after the same manner, when he says, Acts xxii. 16, "Arise, brother Saul, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord."

6. Cornelius, the centurion, on hearing Peter, was hearing words by which an angel told him, "he and his family should be saved." And when these words were announced, Peter commanded him and all present forthwith to be baptized. Acts x.

7. We shall hear Luther, the great Reformer:--

"This is not done by changing of a garment, or by any laws or works, but by a new birth, and by the renewing of the inward man, which is done in baptism, as Paul saith, 'All ye that are baptized have put on Christ,' Also, 'According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.' Tit. iii. 5. For besides that they who are baptized are regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost to a heavenly righteousness and to eternal life, there riseth in them also a new light and a new flame; there riseth in them new and holy affections, as the fear of God, true faith, and assured hopes, &c. There beginneth in them also a new will, and this is to put on Christ truly and according to the gospel.

"Therefore, the righteousness of the law, or of our own works, is not given unto us in baptism; but Christ himself is our garment. Now Christ is no law, no lawgiver, no works, but a divine and an inestimable gift, whom God hath given unto us, that he might be our justifier, our Saviour, and our Redeemer. Wherefore to be appareled with Christ according to the gospel, is not to be appareled with the law or with works, but, with an incomparable gift; that is, with remission of sins, righteousness, peace, consolation joy of spirit, salvation, life, and Christ himself." Luther on Galatians: Phila. 1801, 8vo. p. 302.

8. We shall next hear Calvin:--

"From baptism out faith derives three advantages, which require to be distinctly considered. The first is, that it is proposed to us by the Lord as a symbol, and token of our purification; or, [261] to express my meaning more fully, it resembles a legal instrument properly attested, by which he assures us that all our sins are cancelled, effaced, and obliterated, so that they will never appear in his sight, or come into his remembrance, or be imputed to us. For he commands all who believe, to be baptized for the remission of their sins. Therefore, those who have imagined that baptism is nothing more than a mark or sign by which we profess our religion before men, as soldiers wear the insignia of their sovereign as a mark of their profession, have not considered that which was the principal thing in baptism; which is, that we ought to receive it with this promise, 'He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.' Mark xvi. 16.

"2. In this sense we are to understand what is said by Paul, that Christ sanctifieth and cleanseth the church 'with the washing of the water by the word,' Ephes. v. 26; and, in another place, that 'according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,' Tit. iii. 5; and by Peter, that 'baptism doth save us,' 1 Pet. iii. 21. For it was not the intention of Paul to signify that our ablution and salvation are completed by the water, or that water contains in itself the virtue to purify, regenerate, end renew; nor did Peter mean that it was the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and assurance of it is received in this sacrament: which is sufficiently evident from the words they have used. For Paul connects together the 'word of life' and 'the baptism of water;' as if he had said, that our ablution and sanctification are announced to us by the gospel, and by baptism this message is confirmed. And Peter, after having said that 'baptism doth save us,' immediately adds, that it is 'not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,' which proceeds from faith. But on the contrary, baptism promises us no other purification than by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ; which is emblematically represented by water, on account of its resemblance to washing and cleansing. Who, then, can pretend that we are cleansed by that water, which clearly testifies the blood of Christ to be our true and only ablution? So that, to refute the error of those who refer all to the virtue of the water, no better argument could be found, than in the signification of baptism itself, which abstracts us as well from that visible element, which is placed before our eyes, as from all other means of salvation, that it may fix our minds on Christ alone.

"3. Nor must it be supposed that baptism is administered only for the time past, so that for sins into which we fall after baptism, it would be necessary to seek other new remedies of expiation, in I know not what other sacraments, as if the virtue of baptism were become obsolete. In consequence of this error, it happened in former ages, that some persons would not be [262] baptized except at the close of their life, and almost in the moment of their death, so that they might obtain pardon for their whole life; a preposterous caution, which is frequently censured in the writings of the ancient bishops. But we ought to conclude, that at whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified for the whole of life. Whenever we have fallen, therefore, we must recur to the remembrance of baptism, and arm our minds with the consideration of it, that we may be always certified and assured of the remission of our sins. For though, when it has been once administered, it appears to be past, yet it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ is offered to us in it; and that always retains its virtue, is never overcome by any blemishes, but purifies and obliterates all our defilements."

9. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale, says:--

"To be born of water here means baptism and in my view it is as necessary to our admission into the visible church, as to be born of the Spirit is to our admission into the invisible kingdom." "It is to be observed, that he who understands the authority of this institution and refuses to obey it, will never enter into either the visible or the invisible kingdom."

10. Dr. Thomas Scott, author of the Commentary, says:--

"Men and brethren, what shall we do?--To this the Apostle replied, by exhorting them to repent of all their sins, and openly to avow their firm belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, by being baptized in his name. In thus professing their faith in him, all who truly believed would receive a full remission of their sins for his sake, as well as a participation of the sanctifying and comforting graces of the Holy Spirit." Scott's Commentary on Acts ii. 38.

11. Witsius (on the Economy of the Covenants, London, 1837, 2 vols. p. 429) says:--

"Thus far concerning the rites of immersion and emersion. Let us now consider the ablution or washing, which is the effect of the water applied to the body. In external baptism there is 'the putting away the filth of the flesh,' 1 Peter iii. 21, which represents the ablution or washing away the filth of the soul contracted by sin, Acts xxii. 16, 'Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' But the filth of sin may be considered either with respect to the guilt, which is annexed to the filth or stain, and so it is removed by remission, which is a part of justification; or with respect to the stain itself, or spiritual deformity and dissimilitude to the image of God, and so it is taken away by the grace of the sanctifying Spirit; and both are sealed by baptism. Of the former, Peter speaks, Acts ii. 38, 'Be baptized, every one of you, in the [263] name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.' Concerning the latter, Paul writes, Ephes. v. 25, 26, 'Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.' And they are laid before us both together, 1 Cor. vi, 11, 'But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.'"

So speaks one of the moat learned and influential of the great continental doctors, in his work on the Economy of the Covenants.

12. Rev. James McCord, one of the most popular and learned Presbyterian ministers of Kentucky, of the present century, said some years ago:--

"You will not, therefore, deem it an unreasonable statement, that there is no ordinary possibility of salvation without the precincts of the Christian church, if once we can clearly make it out to you that the church is the great mean of effecting man's salvation.

"This is not one of those questions that are only to be settled by long and difficult argument. It is a question of fact; and you mil find the decision written, as with a sunbeam, in every page of Scripture. When the Saviour gave commandment to his Apostles to proclaim his great salvation to all people under heaven, what was the declaration that accompanied this commandment? 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.' When those Apostles made the first proof of their ministry, in the city of Jerusalem, on the memorable day of Pentecost, what was their answer to the agonized multitudes who felt convicted of the sin of crucifying God's own Messiah, and cried out in horror, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' '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.' This was their answer to the eager inquiry. When the Apostles went abroad among the Gentile nations, what other prescription did they ever give for attaining to God's salvation? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ:' 'believe and be baptized:' 'the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart--that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For, with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."' Last Appeal, p. 165, 166.

13. And that this is all consistent with certain declarations of the Westminster Catechism and Confession of Faith, the following extracts show:-- [264]

 "Q. 165. What is baptism?

"A. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself; of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's."

The doctrine of the Confession is more fully declared in chap. 28, sec. 1;--to which we invite attention. It is in the words following:--

"Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party, baptized, into the visible church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world."

14. To the same effect speak other Confessions of Faith, such as--

15. Episcopalian: The clergy are ordered, before proceeding to baptize, to make the following prayer:1

"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:2 [265]

"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 last 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 brethren, 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 favourably 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:'

16. 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 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 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 [266] helper of all that flee to thee for succour, 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 to 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.

17. 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 ingrafted 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 servilely 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!

18. 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 sway 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."

19. 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."

20. 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."

21. Confession of Wittenburg: "We believe and confess that baptism is that sea, into the bottom whereof, as the Prophet earth, God doth cast all our sins."

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

23. 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 Peter doth interpret them. 1 Peter iii. 21." [267]

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 beforehand, 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 with 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 he 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 for ever: 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 for ever: That is, whosoever shall hearken to those that call them, and shall believe, shall live for ever."

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 me--'Thou 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 [268] 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 name 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 instructed 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 sine. Of what sins? Or, when have they sinned? Or, how can any [269] 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 honourable posts, ever to submit to lead a private and obscure life: or, that he who was never seen in public without a crowd of attendants and persons who endeavoured 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 [270] 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 ecclesiastic 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 or remission of sins. This is the history of the whole controversy in one sentence. The Greek and Roman churches, during their apostasy, 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 connection 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 the subject and action of baptism, have reduced it [271] to a mere form of making the Christian profession--a door into their church. But when in, they harmonize in every thing with those without the pale of their communion, orthodox in their opinions of the true theory of Christian doctrine. So that, among all these parties, there is no true and scriptural dispensation of Christian baptism.

Baptism, according to the Apostolic church, is both "a sign" and "a seal" of remission of all former sins. In this sense only does "baptism now save us." Not in putting away the filth of the flesh, but in obtaining a good conscience through faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This faith in our hearts is expressed in the sign of baptism, our burial and resurrection with him, indicated by an immersion in water and an emersion out of it.

Circumcision is said to have been, in one case at least, a sign and a seal. Baptism, in the same sense, and in a similar case, is also both a sign and a seal--the sign, however, at most, is only indicative of what has been sealed. Such, indeed, are all sensible signs. The sense, we may say, is in the sign, and the confirmations in the seal. This circumcision, or cutting round, and cutting off, was a sign of the insulation or separation of Abraham and his seed from every other nation and people. But to Abraham himself, previously possessed of faith in the promised Messiah, it was also a seal, or confirmation of that faith and its rightfulness which he had experienced and expressed before he was circumcised. But such it was not to either Ishmael or Isaac. To them was a sign of their separation from other tribes, and a people, and a confirmation that they were of the seed of Abraham and heirs of Canaan, accord to a divine charter.

Baptism, though not an antetype of a type, a sign of a sign, or a seal of a seal, as some system-makers would make it when representing it as coming in the room and standing in the stead of circumcision, is, indeed, analogous to circumcision, as the Sabbath to the Lord's day, or as the Passover to the Lord's supper, especially in this:--

that in one point it is a sign of the burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and of our burial and resurrection in and with him; and, in another point of view, a seal of the righteousness of faith, or the remission of all our past sins, through faith in his blood, then, and in that act, publicly expressed and confirmed.

This, most unquestionably, is [272] its place, its meaning, and importance in the Christian institution. This, and no other view of it, now entertained by professing Christians, fully expounds and exhausts all that is said of it in the Apostolic Scriptures, in the abstracts of Christian doctrine and formulas of the primitive and ancient church, as well as in the sayings and expositions of our most gifted, learned, and Christian expositors of the Christian doctrine, a few samples of which, and but a few of those in our possession, have now been presented to the reader. 

Yet these are, we presume to say, enough to reconcile us to such sayings as these:--"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins." "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins." "The like figure corresponding thereunto, baptism doth save us," &c. &c. Not, indeed, that there is anything in the mere element of water, or in the form of placing the subject in it, or in the person that administers it, or in the formula used upon the occasion, though both good taste and piety have something to do in these particulars, but all its virtue and efficacy is in the faith and intelligence of him that receives it. 

To him that believeth and repenteth of his sins, and to none else, then, we may safely say, "be baptized for the remission of your sins," and it will surely be granted by the Lord, and enjoyed by the subject with an assurance and an evidence which the word and ordinances of the Lord alone can bestow. [273]

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