IT should be distinctly understood that the subject here introduced is of no importance, only connected with the gospel in man's salvation, and with a proper subject. To a man without faith it is a matter of no consequence. To him there is not a more empty and unmeaning thing in the world than baptism, and, with him, it matters not one particle what the action is, whether it be the action of a few drops falling on the forehead, or the action a larger quantity poured on the head, or the action of immersing a man in water--for he does not believe there is any divine authority in any of it. But to a man who believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that he is divine; that all the fullness of the Deity dwells substantially in him; that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to him; and that he gave the last commission: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you"--it is important to know what he meant when he said, "baptizing them." What he here commanded the apostles to do, could not have been done without knowing what he meant by these words.
This is to be the matter of inquiry in this discourse. When the Lord says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," all who want the salvation promised, desire to know what it is to believe and be baptized. When Peter "commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord," at the house of Cornelius, all who are disposed to obey the command, need to know precisely what they did to obey. No man can know that he has obeyed that command, that does not know precisely what was commanded. Mr. Wesley says: "The mode is not revealed." Others have said the same. Mode means manner, form, or way; and the man who says, "The mode is not revealed," says the manner, form, or way to obey the command is not revealed. But this is only kicking up dust to obscure, and not affording light by which to see. It is assuming that a command is given without telling what is commanded. A command in the nature of the case requires something to be done, and must tell what is to be done. This the Lord did when he commanded persons to be baptized. They knew what he commanded them to do, arose and did it, and there was not the least inquiry about how it was to be done, different modes of doing what was commanded, or the most remote intimation that they did not all do the same thing.
We never read of a mode of baptism in the Bible. What can be the reason of this? The reason is that the word baptize tells precisely what is to be done, as distinctly as the word immerse. We never speak of the mode, or a mode, of immersing. Immersing is simply one specific act. The same is true of sprinkling or pouring. We never speak of a mode of sprinkling, or a mode of pouring. The reason is that sprinkling or pouring is a specific act, and there is but one way to do it. Sprinkling, is a distinct thing, and any one knows when it is done. You never sprinkle by pouring or immersing; you never pour by sprinkling or immersing; so you never immerse by sprinkling or pouring. When you immerse you do not sprinkle or pour at all; when you sprinkle you do not immerse or pour at all; when you pour you do not immerse or sprinkle at all. If the word baptize means immerse, it does not mean sprinkle or pour at all, for any one knows that immerse does not mean sprinkle or pour. If the word baptize means sprinkle, it does not mean immerse at all, because immerse does not mean sprinkle or pour. These are matters that any one can see without studying Greek or Latin. They are matters of common sense.
It is maintained that the word baptize has different meanings or definitions. Whatever may be said about different meanings, one thing is certain, and that is, that neither baptize, nor any other word, is ever used in different senses or with different meanings, when applied to the same thing. When Jesus used the word baptize in the commission, he did not use it in three or any other number of different senses. He used it in one sense, and only one, in that commission. If it is ever used in any other sense, it must be when used in reference to something else. In the words, "Be baptized," one thing is commanded to be done, and but one. The word baptize does not mean sprinkle, pour and immerse. If it does, the command is to be sprinkled, poured and immersed. Nobody believes that. It does not mean be sprinkled, poured or immersed. There is no authority in the world that says it means that. In the command to "Be baptized," it means simply one thing; it means, "Be immersed." There is nothing about sprinkle or pour in it. Sprinkling or pouring, or sprinkling and pouring, have nothing to do with it. This much by way of introduction; now for the argument.
In the new institution we have the command, "Be baptized," given to thousands of persons at one time. They went ahead and did what was commanded. There is not an intimation about doing what was commanded in different ways, or there being different modes of doing it. There is not room for a doubt about their all doing the same thing. Had some been immersed, some sprinkled upon, and some poured upon, the historian could not well have avoided some kind of allusion to it, or mention of it; but there is not a mention of but one way. Nothing is said about any choice of ways, or preference of one way over another, inquiry about ways, or dispute of any sort on the subject. It is manifestly evident that they had but one way. All knew what that one way was, and there is not one word in the Book of God about a single man or woman who wanted to be baptized having the least trouble in finding out how it was to be done. All knew how to be baptized who desired baptism, and there is not an account of one having to inquire how it was to be done. The inspired apostles were there and knew what Jesus commanded, and made it known to the people, and they did what was commanded.
There is not in the Bible an account of but one way, and that was to be buried with the Lord in baptism. There is not an intimation of any sprinkling or pouring for baptism in the book. The word sprinkle is there, but not for baptism. Where we find sprinkle there is no baptism, and where we find baptism there is no sprinkle. No two words are used more distinctly from each other than baptize and sprinkle. The same is true of baptize and pour. The two words are never used in the same sense. Where you find the pouring there is no baptism, and where you find the baptism there is no pouring. There is not an account of any sprinkling or pouring for baptism in the Bible. This ought to settle the matter forever. Whatever has no authority in the Bible has no divine authority anywhere.
There is not an account of any sprinkling or pouring for baptism in anything written in the first two centuries of the Christian era, in the Bible or out of it, no matter by whom written. The simple reason is that nothing of the kind existed at that time. It could not get into the history before it existed. This must face every man that sprinkles or pours for baptism--that he not only has not a precept or example in Scripture for it, but not an allusion to its existence in the Bible, or anything else written in the first two centuries. This is more than enough to set it aside forever with those who regard divine authority.
In the Greek lexicons used in the schools, colleges, and by the scholars of the country, there is not one that gives sprinkle or pour as a definition of baptizo at all. There was one edition of Liddell & Scott published, that had sprinkle as a secondary meaning but the learning of the world was against it, and it has not appeared in subsequent editions. If sprinkle or pour is not in the lexicons at all, as definitions of baptizo, then neither sprinkle nor pour has any place in the matter in hand. These words are left entirely out of the controversy, and have nothing to do with it.
It is insisted that baptizo has different meanings. True, several meanings are given in the lexicons; but sprinkle or pour is not given as a meaning at all. Why, then, should these words be lugged into the controversy? They have no part in it, either as primary or secondary meanings, tropical or any other. What is the use of pleading for different meanings? Immersion is a meaning; and more, it is the meaning of the word. This is practiced in obeying the command to "Be baptized." What other meaning is practiced at all? It is contended that the word means to stain, to tinge, to color, to wash. But who practices or contends for any one of these words as the model? Who practices or contends for the staining mode? Who practices or contends for the tinging mode? Who practices or contends for the coloring mode, or the washing mode? One man said that the word means to pop, but who contends for that as a mode, or practices it?
There is one class who say the word means immerse, and they practice immersion. These find no trouble, for they find that the first, or what is called the primary meaning of the word, is immerse. They have not simply a meaning of the word in their favor, but the primary meaning. Those who sprinkle or pour for baptism, not only have not the primary meaning of the word in their favor, but they have no meaning of the word baptize at all in their favor. That which they practice is not named among the definitions at all, but is left entirely out, and has nothing to do with it!
But now for a few words on tropical or secondary meanings of the word baptize. How came these secondary meanings? They came in the following manner:
Things are moistened by dipping or baptizing them. As the object, in some instances of baptizing, was to moisten, they took the result for the meaning of the word. The result of baptizing was moistening, and they gave that as a secondary meaning. But any one can see that there is no moisten in the word baptize, or you could not baptize without moistening. But the moistening depends on the substance in which you baptize. If you baptize your hand in water, it is moistened; but the moistening is only the result of the baptizing, and not the baptizing itself. Baptize your hand in flour, and it is not moistened. You do not get the idea of moisten from the word baptize, for it has no such idea in it. Baptize your hand in water and it is moistened; but you do not get the idea of moisten from the word baptize at all, but from the word water. Baptize a man in ink, and you have the idea that he is stained; not because the idea of stain is in the word baptize. It has no such idea in it; you get the idea of stain from the word ink. Baptize a man in water, and you have the idea that his body is washed; but you do not get that idea from the word baptize, for it has no such idea as wash in it. You get the idea of wash from the word water. Baptize a man in fire, and you receive the idea that he is burned; but not from the word baptize, for it has no such idea as burn in it, but from the word fire. Baptize a man in Spirit, and you receive no idea of burn, stain or moisten, because there is no such idea in that word. Baptize a man in filth, and you receive the idea that he is defiled; but not from the word baptize, for it has no such idea as filth in it, but from the word filth. But the one idea of dip is present wherever you find the word baptize at all; whether it is in water, sufferings, Spirit, or fire. The word baptize, as used in the time of the apostles, is never used where the idea of dip is not present. Dip is no tropical meaning, no secondary meaning, nor result of baptizing, nor mode; but it is baptize precisely--no more, no less. Baptize is dip, and dip is baptize.
We read of no such thing in the Bible as baptizing by immersion. That is the same as immersing by immersion, or sprinkling by sprinkling, or pouring by pouring. There is simply no sense in baptizing by immersion. If a man is immersed he is baptized; if he is baptized he is immersed. There is simply, in and of itself, disconnected with all other words and associations, nothing but the idea of immerse or dip in the word baptize. It has no such idea as ordinance, or purify, or cleanse in it; no such idea as wash, stain, tinge, color or moisten in it. All such ideas must come from other words, or things associated with it, and not from the word baptize. They are not in. it. There is nothing sacred in the word. It must be associated with the name of the Lord, the faith of Christ and the salvation of man, to give it any religious significance; it must have the sanction of the supreme and the absolute authority, to give it the solemnity of an ordinance in religion. It is not for the body, not for the flesh, not to cleanse literally at all; but for the mind, the conscience--a test of man's allegiance to the great King. Man can not see that it can do any good to immerse a man in water; or, rather, so far as cleansing him from sin, or saving his soul is concerned, he can see that it can not do any good; that it can not take away sin; that water can not cleanse the heart. He can see no reason for it, only that the wisdom of God requires it. Whoever goes into it has to do so purely by faith. No human eye can see any reason for it, only that the supreme and absolute authority commands it. Separate it from this authority and it is all nothing. Without this authority it is as empty and meaningless as the counting of beads for prayers, or Papal incense.
We have the word sprinkle several times in the New Testament, but the original is not baptizo, but rantizo. But the word sprinkle is never applied to the rite or ordinance at all. Where we find the word sprinkle we find no baptism, and where we find baptism we find no sprinkling. This is invariable in the New Testament. We read in the New Testament nothing about baptism by sprinkling. There is no such style as that there. We read of the heart being sprinkled, of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; but this is not baptism. Moses sprinkled the books and the people; but this is not baptism. There is nothing about baptism in it, or it has no connection with baptism. The words baptizo and rantizo are two distinct words, never used the one for the other. If any man thinks this is incorrect, let him try it and see what kind of sense it will make. Insert baptism for sprinkling. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and baptism of the blood of Jesus Christ."--1 Peter i. 2. This would be a new kind of baptism. Take another example: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts baptized from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."--Hebrews x. 22. No man would plead for this. The bodies being washed would be a result of baptizing the body, but not of baptizing the heart. Take another example: "Through faith he kept the passover, and the baptism of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them."--Hebrews xi. 28. Any one can see that it will not make sense to insert baptize for sprinkle here. See one more example: "And to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of baptizing, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."--Hebrews xii. 24.
Ridiculous as this is, it is no worse than in substituting the word sprinkle for baptize. Let us now have a few examples of this sort. "One Lord, one faith, one sprinkling."--Ephesians iv. 5. "All our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all sprinkled into Moses in the cloud and in the sea."--1 Corinthians x. 1, 2. "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were sprinkled of him in Jordan."--Matthew iii. 5, 6. See one more example: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were sprinkled into Jesus Christ, were sprinkled into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by sprinklinginto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."--Romans vi. 3, 4. This is sufficient. The two words, rantizo and baptizo, are never used in the same sense, any more than the two English words, sprinkle and immerse.
The same is true of the word pour. It occurs several times in the New Testament, but is never used in the same sense as baptize. This can be shown by quoting a few passages, inserting baptize for pour. Take an example: "On my servants and on my handmaidens I will baptize out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."--Acts ii. 18. The Spirit was not baptized, but the Spirit was poured; the people were baptized, but not poured out. How will it read to insert pour for baptize? It will make sense if baptize means pour. Take an example: "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were poured of him in Jordan."--Matthew iii. 5, 6. Look at the following: "I indeed pour you with water into repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall pour you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire."--Matthew iii. 11. Again: "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be poured of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be poured of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Thou he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was poured, went up straightway out of the water."--Matthew iii. 13-16. Any one can see from these examples, and numerous others that can easily be produced, that baptize and pour do not mean the same. Baptizo and cheo, in the original, are as distinct in meaning as immerse and pour in the English, and are never used interchangeably.
The construction of all the passages where these words occur shows this. No matter what the baptism is in, or with, to stick to the King James' style, the element is not baptized. Water is not baptized on persons, any more than water is immersed on persons. It is not the water that is baptized, but the persons. We pour water, but never pour persons. In the baptism of the Spirit, the persons were baptized, and not the Spirit; but before the baptizing, and in order to it, the Spirit was poured out. The pouring was not the baptizing, for it was the Spirit that was poured, and the baptizing followed. The people were baptized. Jesus was baptized in the river of Jordan. He surely was not poured in the river of Jordan, and John did not pour the river of Jordan on him. Jesus was baptized in sufferings; the sufferings were not baptized on him, nor were the sufferings baptized at all--the Lord was baptized.
Now for a few facts:
1. All the Greek lexicons used in the schools and colleges of the country define baptizo, immerse, or something equivalent, as plunge, dip, or overwhelm.
2. They all give immerse, or its equivalent, as the primary meaning of baptizo.
3. Not one of them gives sprinkle or pour as a meaning at all.
4. No translator of the New Testament has translated baptizo, sprinkle or pour, or claims that it should be so translated.
5. No critic, or commentator, claims that baptizo, should be translated sprinkle or pour.
6. Luther maintained that baptizo means immerse, and that immersion was the original practice.
7. John Calvin says that the word baptize means immerse, and that immersion was the practice in the first church.
8. The great Pedobaptist historians, Wall, Mosheim and Neander, testify that immersion was the practice for the first two hundred years--the invariable practice.
9. The entire Greek Church testifies that immersion was the original practice, and it has practiced immersion all the time.
10. The Romish Church admits that immersion was the original practice.
11. The Church of England admits that immersion was the original practice.
The question will naturally rise in the mind, On what ground did so many of these fall into the practice of sprinkling, admitting, as they did, that immersion was the original practice? The Papacy set the example in claiming the right to change forms and ceremonies, so that they retained the substance. They admitted the change in the form, as they phrased it, but maintained that they retained the substance. In one word, they admit that they have given up the very thing that the Lord commanded, immersion, and that they have substituted another thing in its place, which is sprinkling, but retained the substance. They do not do the thing that the Lord commanded, and that was practiced by the apostles, but another thing--but they have retained the substance. How they did this is a great mystery! This is one step, and a long one, in the wrong direction.
12. The Methodist Church indorses immersion, and has done so all the time. In her ritual she says: "If the candidate desires it, he" (the administrator) "shall immerse him in water, saying, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This comes with the authority of Conference. If the candidate desires it, the administrator shall immerse him, saying, I baptize thee. Thus this Church has for more than one hundred years been indorsing immersion, by calling it baptism, and doing this in the name of the Lord. There is no dispute about immersion; it has never been in doubt. The doubting, disputing and debating have all been about the substitutes, and not about immersion.
But now, will this not unchristianize and leave a great majority unbaptized? This has nothing to do with ascertaining the truth. We want to know the truth on this and on all other matters; we want to know precisely the will of the Lord, or what he requires, not to Christianize, or unchristianize the dead, or to effect them in any way, but to Christianize and save the living. We can do nothing in this matter that will in any way benefit or injure the dead, but we may do something that will benefit or injure us. This is the matter for us to consider. Talking about the dead may prejudice ignorant people, but we desire to enlighten well-disposed and honest people, for their own good, and with a view to their future life and the good of the world. Let us, then, look at a few points intended to prejudice the public mind against immersion.
1. It has been maintained that an overwhelming number of all that have ever been in the Church have been sprinkled for baptism--that an immense majority of all that have been in the Church have been sprinkled for baptism, and only a mere handful, comparatively, have been immersed! According to this, a great majority have never been baptized! It will certainly not be out of place here to give this some attention.
1. If baptism is the unimportant affair some people make of it, there is nothing in all this taking any view of it. They are simply raising a noise about a thing for which they care nothing, to prejudice other people.
2. But now is it a fact that the great majority have been sprinkled upon for baptism? The Greek Church now is put down in the Cyclopaedia Americana at 66,000,000. All that have ever been in this Church have been immersed. This would make an overwhelming number. For the first thirteen hundred years immersion was invariably practiced by all Christians throughout the world, except after the introduction of sprinkling, in case of clinics, or cases of weakness, or sickness, where immersion was thought to be impracticable. Dr. Wall, in his great history of infant baptism, says that no fact is more clearly sustained by all history than this; and, furthermore, that, these clinics, who had received something short of an immersion for baptism, were not considered regularly baptized, and not permitted to hold any office in the Church. He further states that France was the first country in the world that practiced sprinkling generally, and that not till in the thirteenth century. Even up till the time of John Wesley, in case of an infant, the rule in the Church of England was immersion, unless a plea was put in of weakness. A case occurs in Wesley's journal showing this. The cases of sprinkling or pouring for baptism did not exist at all on any account in the first and second centuries, and then only in cases of weakness, for thirteen centuries, and in the Greek Church not at all at any time, and after the thirteenth century not at all general, nor even in a majority of all professedly baptized, and during the past one hundred and fifty years, including the Greek and Romish Churches, with all the balance, there have not been more than three sprinkled upon for one immersed. It may be safely summed up as follows:
1. During the first two centuries no sprinkling at all--all were immersed.
2. After the second century, and down to the thirteenth, almost all were immersed among all Christians throughout the world.
3. The Greek Church immersed all from the beginning.
4. From the thirteenth century till one hundred and fifty years ago, a majority of all professedly baptized were immersed in all the world.
5. During the past one hundred and fifty years about three have received sprinkling where one has received immersion.
Foot this up and you can see where the great majority of the sprinkled are. They are immensely in the minority, not making one for ten in all probability. No sympathy can be roused from this source, therefore.
But the fact that a great number have received sprinkling for baptism has nothing to do with the question whether we can obey the command of the Lord by having water sprinkled on us. It is simply a matter of fact, to be inquired into as other matters of fact are. Whether many or few have been immersed is not the question. Did they do what the Lord commanded in being immersed? On the other hand, did those who received sprinkling for baptism do what the Lord commanded?
We can learn something in reference to the matter by considering the places and circumstances where persons were baptized. Multitudes came to John the Baptist and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan. If sprinkling had been the practice, no one would have found such a description as this of what was done. It never would have been said they came to John and were sprinkled by him in the river of Jordan. We find no such language as this in the history of sprinkling. The accounts of sprinkling are not written in this style.
We have two statements about the baptism of our Lord that we never should have had if he had received sprinkling, viz: That "he was baptized of John in Jordan," and that he "went up straightway out of the water." He was certainly not sprinkled of John in Jordan, and would not have gone up out of the water from receiving sprinkling. Sprinkling would not have taken him into the water, and he could not have gone up out of it without being in it. Sprinkling does not account for going tip out of the water. If sprinkling for baptism had been the order, we never should have read of John "baptizing in Enon, near Salem, because there was much water there." Much Water is not needed for sprinkling. The subterfuge that they needed much water for their beasts; for cooking and washing purposes, is not admissible; for it does not say John resorted there because there was much water there, but that he was baptizing in Enon, near Salem, because there was much water there.
We never would have had the history in its present form of the baptism of the Ethiopian officer, if sprinkling had been practiced. The history says: "They came to a certain water." Where did that place them? On the brink of the water. The officer said: "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" The evangelist says, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." He replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." The history proceeds: "They went down both into the water." This does not describe the way to sprinkling, but the way to immersion. But the objector says the preposition eis there, translated into, only means at, near by, on the brink, and not into. This can not be, for they had already come to a certain water. That was to the edge of it, or on the brink of it; near by, or at it. After they were on the brink, near by, or at the water, they both went down into the water. They were on the way to immersion, not to sprinkling. They went down; that is, after they were on the brink of the water. Went down where? Into the water. Who were they? Both Philip and the eunuch There is no misunderstanding who they were. And he baptized him. They went down into the water to do this. The road they have come is the road to immersion and not the road to sprinkling. Now is the road away from it the road from immersion, or from sprinkling? Let us read: "And when they were come up out of the water." This does not describe coming away from sprinkling, but from immersion. When they come away from sprinkling, they do not come up out of the water. They have not been in the water, and can not come up out of it without having been in it.
We read of having the body washed with pure water. This is a result from immersing the body in water, but not from sprinkling water on the head. There is no idea of washing the body in sprinkling water on the face, or forehead. This language has no connection with sprinkling, and is in no sense an allusion to it. We, are said to be planted together with Christ, in allusion to baptism, but this bears no similitude to sprinkling. There is nothing in sprinkling or pouring water on a person that could possibly remind any one of planting a person. Water is sprinkled or poured, but nothing is planted, in any sense. We read also of being buried in baptism. Persons are buried in immersion, but never in sprinkling. That buried in baptism is an allusion to immersion is admitted by nearly all the critics and commentators. It is here that we are in the likeness of his death, and from this we are said to be risen with him to a new life. Immersion accounts for all these figurative allusions, but nothing else does. Not one of them points to sprinkling or pouring. There is nothing more clear than that sprinkling or pouring neither has any connection with the appointment of the Lord in which we are initiated into Christ.
Objection 1. The great numbers baptized on such occasions as the Pentecost could not have been immersed. A little reflection will obviate this difficulty very much. The Jews were accustomed to sundry washings and bathings, and their manner of life was very different from ours. They generally wore coarse and strong raiment, and slept in a tent on a simple couch that they could roll up and pack on the back, and frequently slept in the same garments they wore through the day. They were hardy, and accustomed to much of an out-door life. The masses of them would have thought nothing of being immersed, and wearing their wet garments till they would dry on them. The country abounds with hardy people now, who would think nothing of being immersed and wearing their garments till they would dry. It would require but little time to immerse these without any hurry. Men have noticed the time occupied in immersing in our time, and found that one in a minute, on an average, can be immersed in good order, and no hurry. At this rate the twelve apostles alone would have immersed the three thousand in less than half a day. But, with the little preparation they would make in that day, and in numerous instances none, each man would have averaged more than two per minute, and thus immersed all of them in some two hours. In addition to this, it should be recollected that there were seventy others whom the Lord sent out under the first commission. There must have been many of these among the one hundred and twenty brethren, and it may be the greater portion of them; in which case the immersion of the three thousand would have been so easy a matter, that the historian could mention their baptism without any intimation of their being anything difficult about it.
Objection 2. There was no water about Jerusalem to immerse, to which they could have had access. This is plainly set aside by Bible accounts, and the plainest statements in the New Testament, referring to brooks and pools, some of which were prepared with much expense, and always abounded with water. No such city as Jerusalem ever existed without abundant water for immersing. Water is a commodity that everybody must have. It is of daily use both for man and beast, and an indispensable at that. It is not simply an article that they have where it is convenient, but an article that must be had in all cities. Where there is water for common uses, there is no trouble in finding plenty for immersing persons. Travelers are visiting Jerusalem every year, and their journals all testify the same--that is, that there is. abundant water for immersing. None but the weakest and most reckless of men would deny that there was water in Jordan to immerse. The objectors disagree among themselves about the river of Jordan. Some of them think there was not water sufficient to immerse, and others think the water too deep and swift, and the banks too precipitous to admit immersing in Jordan. But this is all special pleading, and can have no influence on the minds of people sufficiently candid to become Christians. It is, however, maintained that there certainly was no water sufficient for immersing in "the way leading from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert." This is in direct disrespect for the authority of Scripture and the accounts we have of that country. The Scripture says: "They came to a certain water." They certainly did not "come to a certain water" where there was no water; nor did they both go "down into the water" where there was no water. This is beyond dispute. Not only so, but the maps used in all the schools in the country show a water winding through that very country, in its course to the Mediterranean Sea.
The jailer was baptized in his house, and therefore could not have been immersed. We have immersed several persons in houses, and one of those in an upper room, or a room on the second floor. If it could be shown that the jailer in Philippi was baptized in his house, it would not prove that he was not immersed. But he was not baptized in his house. Look at the narrative: "And they" (Paul and Silas) "spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when be had brought them into his house, be set meat before them, tint rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." To whom did Paul and Silas speak the word of the Lord? To the jailer and all that were in his house. They were in his house when they spoke to them. What follows? He took them. Where did he take them? The history does not say, but informs us that he washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. What followed this? "And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them," etc. When he took them they were in his house. He must have taken them out of his house, or he could not have brought them into his house. The washing of their stripes and the baptizing took place while they were out of the house, for they were in the house before he took them, and brought into the house after he was baptized. He then took them out, and they were out when the baptizing was done.
But there is nothing but inference in all these cases. It is simply inferred from circumstances that they could not have been immersed, and then inferred that they must have been sprinkled or poured upon. But this is simply inferring something never hinted at or alluded to in the Bible. Sprinkling or pouring for baptism is something to which there is not all allusion in Scripture, and a thing for which there is not a shadow of proof in anything written in the first two centuries.
"It is not essential any way!" Is it not? Yet it is a fact that we have not an intimation of a single person in the Church, in the time of the apostles, without it! What of this? Nor is there a Church now in the world, of any note, that will receive members without what that Church calls baptism! How is this, if it is not essential any way? But this is not all. The Lord says: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God." All the authorities of any note understand "born of water" to be baptism. This being so, a man can not enter into the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, or the Church, without it. The Lord himself came to John the Baptist to be baptized of him, and when John, in humility, excused himself, on account of his inferiority to the Lord, the Lord replied: "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." If it became our Lord to submit to baptism to fulfill all righteousness, how can men fulfill all righteousness in our time and refuse to be baptized? If we are all "baptized into one body," "baptized into Christ," "baptized into his death," "baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit;" and if, as the Lord says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God"--how can any man prove that he is in the one body, in Christ, in his death, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, or in the kingdom of God, unless he has been "born of water and of the Spirit," or baptized? If those who refused to be baptized by John the Baptist, "rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized by John," as the Lord said they did, what does he do who refuses to submit to the baptism required by our Lord? He refuses to submit to the initiatory rite of the new institution, and thus refuses initiation into that institution, or, which is the same, into the kingdom of God. Be not deceived in this momentous matter, only once required for all time and for eternity. In it you have the promise: "He that believeth and is immersed, shall be saved." Come in full assurance of faith and live!