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Thoughts on Baptism

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    THE CONSEQUENCES

    Some may be led to inquire, Does it not invalidate the Christian faith, or raise a doubt of the accuracy and sufficiency of the New Testament, to thus prove that the writers of the second and third centuries were so divided in sentiment, or so completely followers of traditions? We answer,TOB 183.2

    Not at all. It proves the correctness of the New Testament, which pointed out this very state of things as soon to exist after the days of the apostles. Even in their own times they had to labor against this spirit of contention and division, which already began to distract the churches. Paul at Ephesus said:—TOB 184.1

    “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”TOB 184.2

    This fitly represents the condition of the poor, distracted church, under the leadership of ambitious men, such as obtained the controlling influence in the early centuries. We have no doubt that many honest souls mourned over this declension, but the willful and the ambitious are the ones who are heard, and who leave their impress on the multitude, and stand out most prominent in history. This contentious and ambitious spirit gave rise to the Roman hierarchy, a dominion in the church of Christ such as the Scriptures never sanctioned, and Christ himself forbade. The Papacy, as a power among the kingdoms of earth, was erected in the sixth century; but we shall greatly mistake if we think it arose so late as that. Paul, speaking of the “falling away” and the revealing of the “man of sin,” said, “The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” We must bear in mind that this mystery of iniquity was working in the church; it was by a falling away that the man of sin was developed.TOB 184.3

    Such being the case, is it any credit to any system or doctrine that it found advocates and followers in that age? If we pay proper regard to the warnings of the apostles, and respect to the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice, we shall rather avoid quoting the opinions of “the fathers” in favor of any dogma, knowing that they lived in an age of darkness and great confusion. We pass no judgment upon their sincerity of purpose or honesty of intention. But we do affirm that it is not safe to follow every one who, we think, intends well; we must remember their liability to be deceived. We contend for “the Bible and the Bible alone.” Centuries ago this was declared to be “the religion of Protestants.” But alas for the day! Protestants, or those calling themselves by this name, are turning again to the fog of tradition for support, and rejoice when they can find the testimony of the fathers on their side, as if they had found great treasures.TOB 184.4

    We do not consider it necessary to consume time and space to show why the writings of the fathers have not been preserved as free from corruptions and interpolations as the Holy Scriptures. Reasons, good and sufficient, may be given. We never feel more thankful that we have the Bible, given by inspiration of God, and wonderfully preserved by the providence of God, than when we are reading the writings of the successors of the apostles. They present a labyrinth of contradictions and superstitions, from which we turn to find glad relief in the writings of those who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”TOB 185.1

    “Should all the forms that men devise
    Assault my faith with treacherous art,
    I’d call them vanity and lies,
    And bind the gospel to my heart.”
    TOB 185.2

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