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Thoughts on Baptism

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    CHAPTER X. THE ORDER OF BAPTISM

    If there is one part of the doctrine of baptism of more vital importance than another, we have that part now presented before us. We say if, for we do not wish thus to discriminate where every part is important, and where all is of divine authority. But this point is most intimately related to the most vital parts of Christian life.TOB 98.1

    Baptism has its form. Of this no active duty can be destitute. Paul thanked God that his brethren had “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine” which was delivered unto them; and this was spoken in connection with an argument relating to baptism. To change the form is to change the thing itself. It is not strictly correct to speak of “the mode of baptism,” though we often use the expression to conform to the common forms of thought on this subject. Baptism is neither more nor less than immersion; and the “mode of immersion” is an awkward expression.TOB 98.2

    Baptism has its subjects. To destroy the distinction of character in the subjects, and administer it to all without discrimination, would entirely destroy the ordinance as an institution for the followers of Christ. Therefore, it is necessary strictly to keep within the bounds of the teachings of the Scriptures as to the subjects of baptism, lest we pervert the ordinance and make it merely a means to minister to our own feelings. If we pervert it to such uses, we make it our own institution, and it is thenceforth no more the institution of our Lord.TOB 98.3

    Baptism has its order. There is a time in the experience of an individual when it may properly be administered; outside of that order it is not the institution of the gospel.TOB 99.1

    We heard a person once remark that his charity was of the largest kind: he could fellowship every one who was baptized in the name of Christ. Now this expression is very liable to be misunderstood. Not every one who is immersed in water, even after the formula given by the Saviour, is baptized in the name of Christ according to the Scripture meaning of the phrase. A hypocrite, destitute of faith and godliness, may be so immersed; yet he has not been baptized within the intention of the ordinance. The necessary conditions of the rite have not been complied with in such a case. We cannot subscribe to the sentiment of learned advocates of the baptism of non-believers, that the benefit of baptism is not lost because of the indisposition of the receiver.TOB 99.2

    There is another expression not so liable to be misconstrued as that of being baptized in the name of Christ; that is, being baptized into the death of Christ. This is necessary to Christian baptism. If this is complied with, the ordinance is administered according to its true intent.TOB 99.3

    We are very far from allowing that there is the shadow of a conflict between these two expressions. We insist that the truth is found in the harmony of Scripture testimony. When we have all that the Scriptures say on a given point, then we have the whole truth on that point. And we are free to express our opinion that if the original were more uniformly translated and rendered into his name, as it is rendered into his death, the meaning would be more apparent to the general reader.TOB 100.1

    Paul takes up this subject in his letter to the Romans, and carries it out very thoroughly. His premises and conclusions are so clearly set forth that the expositor has little to do more than to trace the line of his argument.TOB 100.2

    There were some in the days of the apostle who had such erroneous views of the gospel as to think it allowable to do evil if the result was good! This idea has never been eradicated from the professed church of Christ. It has led into a multitude of false doctrines and wrong practices, and introduced into the church what are commonly known as “pious frauds.” According to this view, traditions, and doctrines not found in the Bible, may be safely followed if they have a “pious use;” and long-established errors must be let alone for fear of weakening somebody’s faith in Christianity. But Christianity is never benefited by compromises with error, under any pretense whatever.TOB 100.3

    Said Paul, “The law entered that the offense might abound.” Romans 5:20. Not that sin is increased by the law; but, as he said in chap. 7:13, “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” The sinfulness of sin is increased by the increase of light. This effect was produced in the giving of the law; for “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20.TOB 100.4

    Again the apostle says, “For until the law, sin was in the world.” This means until the law was delivered on Mount Sinai, as is shown by this reference, “Death reigned from Adam to Moses.” Romans 5:13, 14. It has no reference to the origin of the law at that time, as some assume, for he adds, “But sin is not imputed when there is no law.” As by the law is the knowledge of sin, no one can be proved guilty in the absence of law. And if man’s knowledge of the law is imperfect, his ideas of sin will be imperfect. Thus is shown the meaning of the expression, “That sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” The law does not really increase sin, more than the mirror increases the defilement of the person. That only makes the defilement manifest. It is in this sense that the law entered that the offense might abound; or, as it is expressed again in chap. 7:13, “But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good,” that is, by the law. In the same connection the apostle says the law is not death; it does not create sin. It proves the sinful nature of sin; it brings death where sin actually exists, and nowhere else.TOB 101.1

    As there is no guilt, or imputation of sin, where there is no law, so no law will prove a person guilty but that law which he has transgressed. We would not take that law which forbids blasphemy to prove a man guilty of theft. Hence, that law which entered that the offense might abound, or appear sin, was the law which had been transgressed. It was not the making but the renewing, of the law, which took place at that time.TOB 101.2

    But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Sin called for a special manifestation of grace, and this came through the Son of God. And as God is glorified in his Son, the question is raised, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Some say, “Yes, we frustrate grace if we keep the law; we restrain the fullness of the gospel, and thereby dishonor Christ.” Many to this day reason thus. But Paul gives the question a decided negative; he says, “God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Life and death are opposites. If we are living in sin, we are surely not dead to it; it is impossible to be dead to sin, and to live in sin at the same time. And he gives a demonstration of this death to sin: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death.”TOB 102.1

    This ought to be conclusive to every one. If we were not dead to sin, why were we buried? The proper time for burial is after death, not before death. The proper time for burial in baptism is when we die to sin—to the transgression of the law; for “sin is the transgression of the law.” But they who still live in violation of the law could not have been buried in this order. They were buried alive; “the body of sin” was not destroyed; the “old man” in them still lives. This is what is plainly taught in Romans 6.TOB 102.2

    Having now fairly introduced this relation, we will go hack to notice the instruction previously given by Christ and his apostles.TOB 103.1

    In our Lord’s sermon on the mount, he fully announced the nature and object of his mission: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.” The law to which he there referred was not a new law; not one which was yet to be introduced. It was a law then in existence; which was known to his hearers, and which was connected with the teachings of the prophets. He also said that whosoever shall do and teach the commandments of this law shall be great in the kingdom of Heaven.TOB 103.2

    The “golden rule” was enforced on the authority of the law. “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” The law guards all our rights and all our relations in respect, to life, chastity, property, reputation, etc. All that we have, together with ourselves, is protected by the law; and as we desire to have our rights respected, so should we respect the rights of others. This is the law, and this is the golden rule. The law which forbids our doing any injury to our neighbor, guards our own rights with equal care.TOB 103.3

    He who breaks down the authority of law, breaks down the safeguard of his own rights, and makes a wreck of his own privileges. To give a warrant to lawlessness is to open the gates to a flood which is sure to overwhelm us. There is no higher morality than that contained in the law of God. The very essence of the gospel —glory to God, and peace and good will to man—is the object and spirit of the law.TOB 103.4

    We do not here refer to the law of types; to those shadows which find their antitype in Christ. We know that these were nailed to his cross, and done away in him. We are speaking in defense of the law of ten commandments, which God spake with his own voice, and wrote with his own finger on tables of stone; which was deposited in the ark, over which the high priest sprinkled the blood of expiation. This is preeminently “the will of God.” It is identified as such in Romans 2:17-23, as follows:—TOB 104.1

    “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?”TOB 104.2

    This is a decisive vindication of the ten commandments as the will of God, through breaking which, God is dishonored. And this casts light on other texts. Jesus said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:16, 17. Here a distinction is made between the will of the Father, and the doctrines of the Son; the same as between “the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus;” Revelation 14:12; or the distinction between the law and the gospel. As Jesus was sent of God, he could do and teach nothing contrary to the revealed will of God. If any man teach a gospel contrary to the will or law of God, we may be assured it is not from Heaven; it is from beneath. It is not the doctrine or gospel of Christ; for he came to do the will of his Father, and to lead men to cease their warfare against the will and authority of his Father. And so he said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven.”TOB 104.3

    The first sermon preached under the Lord’s great commission, that on the day of Pentecost, leads us to the same conclusion. After laying before his hearers the facts of the gospel system, and convicting them of their guilt, Peter proceeded to declare the duties of the convicted sinner. The first is to repent; the second, to be baptized for the remission of sin. In this our day, the antinomian view is largely believed, that all law, the ten commandments as well as the ceremonial law, was abolished at the death of Christ. But it was then true, as it is now, that “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” and “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” If all law had then boon abolished, there could be no conviction of guilt, for there could be no imputation of sin; how, then, could the duty lie upon them to repent, and to be baptized for the remission of sin? It is easy to see that the antinomian view involves an absurdity; we are surprised that men of apparent intelligence and judgment should ever be found to advocate it.TOB 105.1

    Where moral relations exist, law must exist. To destroy one is to destroy the other. The declaration is no more scriptural than it is reasonable, that “sin is not imputed where there is no law;” for “where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15. But sin was imputed on the day of Pentecost, and without this, baptism would have been a nullity. Therefore the law then existed; by it they were condemned as transgressors.TOB 106.1

    If, then, “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” as the apostle says, we are proved to be sinners as long as we continue to transgress the law. He who fails to do the will of the Father, has no interest in the kingdom of Heaven, no matter how earnestly he calls Jesus Lord. Character is determined by relation to law, and not by profession. The transgressor of the law is a sinner, whether he is in or out of a church. And this brings us to the subject introduced in Romans 6. He who is a transgressor of the law, no matter what his profession may be, is living in sin, and he has no reason to show why he should be buried in baptism.TOB 106.2

    The condition or relation here brought to view is indispensable to Christian life; for no one can rise to walk in newness of life if the old life of sin still continues. “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Being planted in the likeness of his death can have respect only to the form and order of our burial with him, or our baptism into his death. “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; ... he was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4. These are the facts as they occurred, and they present the paitern of duty in the gospel: 1. Die to sin; 2. Be buried in baptism; 3. Rise to walk in newness of life. This is “the likeness of his resurrection;” for “in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:10, 11.TOB 106.3

    The same idea runs through the illustration and its application in Romans 7. The woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as her husband liveth. “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.” Her relation to the law must be changed to enable her to marry another; and this change is effected by death. But death does not change the law: it changes her relation to the law. The law remains to convince of sin, the same as before. The application he makes thus: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”TOB 107.1

    The whole connection shows that becoming “dead to the law,” is to become dead to the transgression of the law; the same as “dead to sin.” The law holds us under condemnation as sinners, and the wages of sin is death. Where sin is found, death must ensue. And the law in justice presses its demand until the penalty is inflicted. Christ so honored the claims of the law in respect to its penalty that we are now permitted to die with him, be buried with him, and be raised with him, Romans 6:8, 4; Colossians 2:12, and so avert the penalty in the future—the second death. An option is thus afforded us of dying to sin or dying for sin. By dying to sin, our relation to the law is so changed, through Christ, that we shall escape the curse which the law inflicts on the sinner. For “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.” Galatians 3:13. He does not redeem us from the obligation, but from the curse. In this sense we “are delivered from the law;” delivered from its condemnation, or curse.TOB 107.2

    It has been unjustly inferred from the conjunction of the two expressions, “dead to sin” and “dead to the law,” that sin and the law are equivalents. No excuse can be admitted for this inference, for no one can accept this conclusion who takes the pains to read the chapter; for the apostle expressly denies it. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid.” The law is not sin: so far from it, that it condemns sin; it forbids and makes known sin. “I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” That is, he had not known the nature of his propensities or desires if the law had not enlightened him. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.”TOB 108.1

    It is sin that brings the curse of the law upon us. We must not blame the law if we find ourselves under its condemnation. Our complaint must fall upon ourselves. Had we not arrayed ourselves against the law in transgression, it would not be against us to condemn us. Sin is the cause of our trouble, and not the law. “For sin,” said the apostle, “taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” It is true the law—and it only—convinces of sin. “For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” This is a record of an important part of his experience. His being alive without the law refers to that part of his life wherein he thought he was doing God service in persecuting the church of Christ. John 16:2. His conscience was not awakened, because his mind was in darkness; he did it ignorantly in unbelief. 1 Timothy 1:13. “When the commandment came”—when he was enlightened by the law of God—“sin revived;” he found himself to be a murderer instead of a servant of God; he stood condemned, and as the only alternative, “I died”—died to sin; ceased to fight against God, and found a refuge and a remedy in the blood of the cross of Christ. The commandment was never given to condemn and slay people; it “was ordained unto life;” it was given in love, to form our characters aright, and thus to fit us to enjoy the favor and presence of God. Only when sin enters, is it “found to be unto death.”TOB 108.2

    Paul, using the first person, reckons himself among those who were buried with Christ. And when was he buried? Of course, when the commandment came and he died. When else should he have been buried? And when should we be buried? It becomes a very important matter for us to determine whether we have died to sin; whether we have been planted in the likeness of the Saviour’s death.TOB 109.1

    We have said there is no higher morality than that contained in the law of God. The apostle confirms this, saying, “For we know that the law is spiritual.” Romans 7:14. And if the law is spiritual, then obedience to the law is spiritual worship. Some affect to think that it evinces a lack of spirituality to keep the law; that it is mere carnality; or, as before noticed, they say it frustrates grace and dishonors Christ and his gospel. We have seen that Paul gave a very decided negative to the idea that we may transgress the law that grace may abound; and again we find him declaring that the law is spiritual. This ought to silence every cavil against a law which is holy, just, and good. But Paul goes farther: he not only vindicates the law from the charge of carnality, but, he turns the charge pointedly against its originators. He says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7. The carnal mind—literally, the minding of the flesh, or walking after the flesh—is the opposite of obedience to the law, and so it must be, as “the law is spiritual;” for spirituality and carnality cannot agree. And the high morality of the law is further shown by Paul in stating the object of the gospel: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:4.TOB 110.1

    The gospel is remedial. It is a cure for sin, or for the transgression of the law. Had there been no sin, there would have been no gospel; it would not have been needed. Then the righteousness of the law would have been fulfilled in every soul of man, for all would have lived in perfect obedience. It was “to put away sin” that Jesus came; to restore fallen man to obedience to the Heavenly Father. This is accomplished only in the obedient believer in Jesus; who accepts him as his sacrifice “for the remission of sins that are past,” and is “reconciled to God by the death of his Son;” who “keeps the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Romans 5:10; Revelation 14:12. In such, and in such only, is the righteousness of the law fulfilled and the carnal mind subdued.TOB 110.2

    One point in the apostle’s argument in Romans 7 remains to be noticed. The woman’s relation to the law must be changed by death before she can be married to another without being called an adulteress. “My brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead.” This is a plain declaration that he who seeks such a union with Christ before death has changed his relation to the law—before he has died to sin—is guilty of spiritual adultery. And as baptism is the rite whereby we signify our union with Christ (” as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27), this rite is illegally performed if there is such an impediment to the marriage as is spoken of in Romans 7:1-4. And thus we find in this illustration a strong proof of the view introduced in chap. G, that death to the transgression of the law must precede burial in baptism. Death to the law—to its condemnation for sin—must take place before we can be united to Christ; for Christ cannot be joined to “the body of sin.”TOB 111.1

    We think we hazard nothing in the assertion that that is not Christian baptism wherein the conditions of the gospel are not met. We would speak with modesty, leaving it to each one’s conscience as to how wide a divergence from the divine plan there must be to justify an imitation of the course pursued, by Paul and the believers, recorded in Acts 19:1-5. But we would speak decidedly in favor of having both candidate and administrator look well to the teachings of the gospel on this subject. It is no light thing to trifle with divine ordinances. He who administers them improperly does so at his peril. Paul praised his brethren inasmuch as they kept the ordinances as they were delivered to them; and when they perverted one, he very deeply blamed them for not preserving it pure according to its intention. 1 Corinthians 11. The importance of the ordinance of baptism, as presented by the Saviour in Mark 16:16, and by the apostle Paul in Romans 6 and 7, cannot be overestimated; and the necessity of carefulness in its observance is according to its importance.TOB 111.2

    Paul to the Colossians speaks in terms equally direct and decisive on this subject: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12. This adds new luster to the ordinance. Dead to sin; buried with Christ by baptism into death; and risen with him in the same ordinance. It cannot be possible that they who speak disparagingly of baptism, as some unfortunately do, have ever examined with care this impressive passage. Here it is shown that “the likeness of his resurrection “is not altogether reserved to a future life. “Risen with him.” As he died to sin and lives to God, so we must die to sin, be buried with him, and rise with him to a new life—to a life of obedience to the Heavenly Father’s will.TOB 112.1

    “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1. This brings to view the entire Christian life,—a life of consecration to God in imitation of the love and zeal of our Saviour. In the present argument it is not necessary to pursue this further, having fully met our design,—to show the important place which baptism occupies in the divine plan for the remission of sin and union with Christ.TOB 113.1

    We do not present these views in a captious spirit, or with any desire to find fault, but with a deep sense of responsibility for the honor of the cause of Christ, which is so often shamed by the lives of those who consider themselves Christians because they have been baptized and accepted as members of a church. We deprecate the practice of baptizing people on too slight evidence of purpose of heart,—with a conversion altogether too superficial, or no conversion at all. We have reason to believe, and it pains us to record it, that there are ministers not a few in this land of gospel privileges, who think far more of the numbers they are able to call in and baptize in a given time, than of the Christian walk, of the stability and integrity of their converts after they are baptized. Gathering a mass of unstable souls, who are deceived into the belief that they are Christians because they have assented to certain truths and been baptized, and who show that their convictions of sin were not deep, and that their hearts were never touched by the enlightening and converting power of the Holy Spirit, is not the way to find acceptance with God as a laborer, or to honor the Christian cause and the Christian ministry.TOB 113.2

    Such workmen would do well to remember that their work is yet to be tried, and if it does not abide they will suffer loss. Gold, silver, and precious stones are the only material which will be accepted and bring a reward to the builder in the temple of our Master. The “foundation “is exceedingly precious and valuable, and the counsel is worthy of being held in constant remembrance,—“Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” 1 Corinthians 3:9-18. Often have we seen the record set forth that so many scores were baptized during a certain meeting, while in a year from that time the strength of the church under whose auspices the labor was performed, was not a whit increased by the effort. Wood, hay, and stubble are not accepted for the building, and bring no reward to the builders.TOB 114.1

    It is true that the Scriptures give no warrant to put off the baptism of the penitent. But we should have some evidence of sincerity and purpose of heart; evidence that the claims of God’s holy law, and the requirements of the Scriptures for a holy life, are somewhat appreciated. As the “present truth “for any age should receive our most earnest attention, even so the prevailing errors of any age should be specially guarded against. If there is danger of erring, it is better to even err on the side of carefulness where a want of caution, because of prevailing false teachings, is likely to cause the professing believer to settle down into a state of false confidence and self-deception.TOB 114.2

    In thus speaking, it is not our purpose to abate one jot of the necessity and importance that the penitent should be baptized. It is because the duty is important—the institution is too sacred to be trifled with—that we so earnestly plead for maintaining it in its purity, and administering it only according to the revealed will and intention of the divine Institutor.TOB 115.1

    The unity of truth is well illustrated in this subject. To mar it in one part is to injure the whole. No error stands alone; when once it enters, it multiplies, and taints the whole system. Very few in the present day apprehend how far the truth on the subject of baptism has been obscured by a change of the ordinance. Being accustomed to view it only in the light of tradition or of popular opinion, the thoughts of the majority seldom rise above these to the full intent of the simple but grand truths of divine revelation. It seems fitting that we close our remarks on the relations of baptism, with a few quotations which have in view the same things which we have tried to set forth.TOB 115.2

    In Conybeare and Howson’s “Life and Epistles of Paul,” vol. 1, p. 439, are the following remarks:—TOB 115.3

    “It is needless to add, that baptism was (unless in exceptional cases) administered by immersion, the convert being plunged beneath the water to represent his death to the life of sin, and then raised from this momentary burial to represent his resurrection to the life of righteousness. It must be a subject of regret, that the general discontinuance of this form of baptism (though perhaps necessary in our northern climates) has rendered obscure to popular apprehension some very important passages of Scripture.”TOB 115.4

    These authors, of the Church of England, show the powerful influence of popular error by themselves excusing the wrong they deplore, the evil tendency of which they seem to understand. We leave it to the reverent reader that an error is neither slight nor excusable which “obscures to popular apprehension some very important passages of Scripture.”TOB 116.1

    Chancellor Est, of the University of Douay, (Catholic) on Romans 6:3, says:—TOB 116.2

    “For immersion represents to us Christ’s burial; and so also his death. For the tomb is a symbol of death, since none but the dead are buried. Moreover, the emersion which follows the immersion, has a resemblance to a resurrection. We are, therefore, in baptism, conformed not only to the death of Christ, as he has just said, but also to his burial and resurrection.”TOB 116.3

    Dr. Conant, in his work entitled “Baptizein,“ published by the American Bible Union, says:—TOB 116.4

    “The word ‘baptize’ is an anglicized form of the Greek baptizein. On this account it has seemed to some that it must necessarily express the same meaning. It has been said that no other word can so perfectly convey the thought of the Holy Spirit as the one chosen by himself to express it in the original Scriptures; and that we are, therefore, at least right and safe in retaining it in the English version. A comparison of the meaning of baptizein, as exhibited in sections 1-3 of this treatise, with the definitions of ‘baptize ‘as given in all dictionaries of the English language, and with its recognized use in English literature and in current colloquial phraseology, will show that this is far from being the case. The word ‘baptize’ is a strictly ecclesiastical term; broadly distinguished by that characteristic from the class of common secular words to which baptizein belonged. It is a metaphysical term, indicating a mystical relation entered into with the church, by virtue of the sacramental application of water. In both these respects it misrepresents the Saviour’s manner and intent. Concealing the form of the Christian rite under a vague term, which means anything the reader may please, it obscures the idea thereby symbolized, and the pertinency of the inspired appeals and admonitions founded on them. The essence of the Christian rite is thus made to consist in this mystical church relation, into which it brings the recipient. With this view associates itself, naturally and almost necessarily, the idea of a certain mysterious efficacy in the rite itself; and, accordingly, we find the belief prevailing in the majority of Christian communions that, through baptism, the recipient is not externally alone, but mystically united to the body of Christ. Thus the rite ceases to be the symbol of certain great truths of Christianity, and becomes an efficacious sacrament. The tenacity with which this fatal error is adhered to, even in communions not connected with the State, is largely due to the substitution, in our English Bibles, of this vague foreign term of indefinite meaning, for the plain, intelligible English signification of the Greek word.”TOB 116.5

    We have taken the liberty to italicize one sentence in the above. And to these we must add, that it is much to be regretted that many who see the necessity of restoring the ordinance, as to the form, yet lose sight of the “great truths of Christianity” which are symbolized by it. Ignoring the truth that “sin is the transgression of the law,” and that repentance has respect to the law of God as faith has to the Son of God, Acts 20:21, they shut out the idea that death must precede burial, and introduce the very error so clearly pointed out by Dr. Conant. And thus we think we have fully justified our statement that the form, without regard to the order or relation, does not constitute it the baptism of the gospel. A person may be immersed, and yet so hold the rite in his faith and in his life as to destroy it, so far as it is a symbol of the death and resurrection of the Lord, and of our death to sin and rising to walk in a new life of righteousness or obedience.TOB 118.1

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