BAPTISM AN ACT OF FAITH, OF OBEDIENCE, AND OF SALVATION.

 

By

 

Robert Govett, M.A.

 

SOME time ago a Christian of note in the North of England, sent the writer a tract in favour of Infant Baptism.It asserted, that baptism was the act of the baptizer, not of the baptized.The tract was not to be retained, but to be sent back with the reply to the objection.Again the same mysterious tract has fallen into the writerís hands.And now he puts forth the present sheet in answer to its errors.

 

1. - BAPTISM IS AN ACT OF FAITH.

 

This great truth lies upon the surface of Scripture.John the Baptist was sent of God to announce to Israel the coming kingdom of glory.Those who desired to have part in that were to repent, and believe in Messiah close at hand.

 

"Then said Paul, ĎJohn verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.í" Acts 19: 4.

 

The acceptors of Johnís tidings were immersed in the Jordan, confessing their sins: Matt. 3.On this his mission turned our Lordís appeal. "The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven? or from men?They reasoned among themselves, If we shall say - ĎFrom heaven,í - He will say - Why then did ye not believe him!" Matt. 21: 24-27. Believers in Johnís message believe in the God who sent him.

 

When baptism was commanded by our Lord after His resurrection, faith was the pre-requisite."He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved :" Mark 16: 16.This, or its equivalent - repentance, the apostles sought to produce in the hearts of hearers, after the Holy Ghost come down, and the Church had begun to be. "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins."

 

Philip goes to Samaria and proclaims Christ and His coming kingdom of glory, there; (Acts 7: 5) confirming his glad tidings by the signs of that kingdom of God, which shall put down Satanís.The diseased were healed and demons cast out."But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women:" 12.How is it that infants are overlooked?

 

Peter preaches to the Gentile Cornelius and his friends concerning Jesus as the Saviour."To Him gave all the prophets witness that whosoever believeth in Him * has received forgiveness of sins:" Acts 10: 43.The gifts of the Holy Ghost were bestowed on these as truly as on the Jewish disciples at Pantecost: 11: 17.They were as really believers as the Jewish ones.And the Israelite disciples at Jerusalem were convinced by this sign, that these Gentiles occupied the same ground of faith and salvation with themselves. "Then hath God even to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life:" 18; 15: 7-11. They were baptized at once on faith: 10: 48.

 

[* Past tense. See also Acts 13: 39]

 

Paul arises, and proclaims his Gospel.He also baptizes those who believe the tidings. "Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized:" Acts 18: 8.Of Lydia we read, "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things spoken of Paul." "She was baptized and her household."So with the jailor at Philippi.He and his household listen to the word of God, believe it, and are baptized: 16: 21-34.The whole household become believers, and rejoice in the Lord.

 

Faith, then, is the condition previously required of the baptized.What is not of faith is sin: Rom. 14 23.But faith needs a word of God on which to rest.Now there is no precept or example for baptizing unbelievers.Therefore infant baptism is a sin in the baptizer; for it is not of faith on his part.Moreover in ministering the rite to one not possessed of faith, he is offending against the Masterís call for faith in the receiver.

 

Peter knows only of the baptism of believers.He required repentance to precede it, at Pentecost.And when he writes his first Epistle, he is still of the same mind.The essential part of the rite was not the application of water and the bathing of the manís whole body, but the answer of ďa good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" 1 Pet. 3: 21.But that answer no new born infant can give.Therefore Peter never baptized an infant.

 

The same truth appears in the, Epistle to the Romans.The Holy Spirit there discovers to us, that both Jew and Gentile are alike unable to save themselves by their works.Therefore God has been pleased to provide salvation for the lost, by means of the righteousness and atonement of His Son Jesus.Believe in Him, and you are justified.As truly as you were lost in Adam before you began personally to sin, so you may be saved in Christ before you begin to work righteousness: Rom. 5: 1.But does not this scheme open the door to all licentiousness of life?ĎIf I am justified by the obedience of another, may I not be disobedient myself?Do I not thereby enhance the glory of God in His grace of pardon?íThis is an objection, then, against Godís scheme of salvation by faith.How does the Spirit reply to it?By observing what Godís plan and requirement is - ĎThat all who are justified in Christ by faith should, as their next step to faith, be immersed into ChristBut that immersion means burial.And who are buried but the dead?The accepter of the salvation of Christ is judicially dead with Christ his substitute.He is, indeed, physically alive in the flesh.But he is, by Godís order, buried "into death."For the waters are the element of death, such as they were shown to be in the Flood, and in the destruction of Pharaohís host.

 

There is, therefore, no ground on which this imputation against Godís scheme of salvation can be rested.The justified by faith in Christ are buried with Him in the waters; undergoing an emblematic death, along with Christ, to sin; and an emblematic resurrection to righteousness.But this rite is only for the justified by faith.For the objection applies to them alone.The inspired reply touches them alone.

 

The objection stated by the apostle lays hold on the reality of Godís acceptance and salvation of the believer.The more that is seen, the stronger is the seeming force of the objection. ĎI am saved. May I not then go on in sin?íThe answer of the Spirit is - ĎDeath to sin, and resurrection with Christ to holiness are to follow at once on justification in HimThat is Godís scheme.It leaves no loophole for the entrance of licentiousness among the justified.But neither the objection nor the reply hold good in the sprinkling of infants.They are not justified in Christ; nor would their evil deeds after coming to adult age prove, that justification by faith in the righteousness of another is a scheme calculated to produce immorality.The objection applies only to the justified by faith.The Spiritís answer is - 'Baptism is, by Godís order administered to the justified by faithand the meaning of that proves that your objection against Godís scheme is groundless.

 

Since infants are not justified by faith, nor will their misdoings afford the unbeliever a handle against the truth, no infant was then baptized.It was a rite belonging only to the justified by faith in Christ: Rom. 6: 1-6.

 

Circumcision of the Jewish male infant was perfectly right; for the basis of that dispensation was the flesh put under law, to discover to us what man is.But to perform ceremonies now in which the receiver is destitute of faith is to degrade Christís Gospel to the level of the flesh, and to set men again under law.It is to do so, after it has been expressly told us, that the flesh profiteth nought; that in it dwelleth no good thing; that the children of the flesh are not sons of God: Rom 9: 8; 7: 18; 8: 6; John 6: 63.

 

The service of God now is service in spirit and in truth.Wherever, therefore, there is not the spirit in the service of God, there is not truth: John 4: 23.It is to fall into the error of the latter day, the religion of which is denounced as the form, denying the power: 2 Tim. 3: 5.Even John the Baptist could refuse the attempt to present in baptism the flesh of Abrahamís sons of God: Matt. 3: 9.Take up the flesh as your foundation now, and baptismal regeneration enters at that door, together with a fleshly priesthood, and a salvation by ceremonies, not by faith.The only children God owns now are the receivers of His Son, born not of flesh, but of the Spirit: John 1: 12, 13.

 

Are we to introduce into the assembly of Godís children those whom we own to be as yet only flesh begotten of the flesh?Nay!What says the Spirit of God to this proposal?"Do ye not hear the law?"Even so far back as Abrahamís days the thing was decided."Cast out the bondwoman and her son" [of the flesh]: Gal. 4: 21-31.

 

It was bad to work confusion in Israel under law; is it not much worse to do so in the Church of God, in the presence of far greater light?Godís house is to be built up of "living stones" alone: 1 Pet. 2: 5.They are no members of Christís body who are not alive in Him.

 

The rite of circumcision recognised and set up the three great distinctions of the flesh.It discriminated between (1) male and female.It was designed for males, not for females.(2) It distinguished between Jew and Greek.It was designed for the Israelite; not for the Gentile.(3) It severed between freeman and slave.The slave was to be circumcised as soon as bought. But baptism is of Godís express design a rite directly the opposite of this.It is the burial beneath the waters of all these fleshly distinctions, to set up instead in the risen Christ a new unity of the Spirit.

 

We come to the next aspect of the subject.

 

2. BAPTISM IS AN ACT OF OBEDIENCE.

 

Here it is objected - ĎObedience to an ordinance is something unchristian, and quite alien to the character of our dispensation.'

 

1. What do you mean by an Ďordinance?íDo you mean Ďa command in general?íThen obedience to Christís commands is of the very spirit of the Gospel. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments:" John 14: 15. "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love, even as I kept My Fatherís commandments and abide in His love:"15: 10."Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you:" 12: 2; 2 Pet. 2: 21; Acts 5: 29, 32.

 

2. Will you say, you mean thereby Ďa ceremonial command?íEven with this narrowing of the sense, it is untrue. "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them unto you:" 1 Cor. 11: 2. "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God: " 1 Cor. 7: 19; 14: 37."Hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments:" 1 John 2: 3-6; 3: 22-24; 5: 2, 3.

 

It is indeed a weak way of putting the duty of baptism, to say - ĎSubmit yourself to the ordinance.íBut did not the writer know WHOSE command is in question, when that phrase is used?Is not the Church to be obedient to all the commands of Christ, even as the wife is to obey the husband? Eph. 5.The sinner accepts the grace of God manifested in Christ, and then begins to obey Him: Act 5: 29; Heb. 5: 9.The ungodly are, on the contrary, characterised as "children of disobedience," in whom the devil works (Eph. 2: 2), and on whom the wrath of God is coming: v. 6.Believers are to walk as "the children of obedience:" 1 Pet. 1: 14, 22.Why was Godís own people of old shut out from the hope of their calling when now they had already arrived at the borders of the land? Because of their disobedience arising out of partial unbelief: (Greek.) Heb. 4: 6, 11.The very object of Paulís apostleship was to lead his hearers to "THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH:" Rom.1: 5; 4: 12; 16: 26.

 

ĎBut (it is objected) baptism is the act of the baptizer, not of the baptized

Was ever anything more weak?That the baptized is passive while being immersed, is true.But morally speaking, all through the observance, he is active.Was not Jesus active in taking a long journey to seek baptism at the hands of John, and in over-ruling the resistance of the baptizer?Was not Paul obedient and active in submitting to baptism at the exhortation of Ananias? Acts 9: 18; 22: 16. Was not the eunuch active in asking for baptism? in descending into the water, and coming, out of it? Acts 7.Doeís not the Scripture say - "As many of you as were baptized into Christ put on Christ:" Gal. 3: 27.Is there no activity here?

 

ĎBut (says the opponent again), there is only a command to the baptizer to baptize; none to the baptized to be baptized

 

And so it is thought that infant baptism may be smuggled in.For certainly infants are not active in seeking baptism!But to what strange statements are opposers driven!ĎNo command issued by Christ to hearers of the Gospel to be baptized!' Even in Matthew 28: 19 - the text pointed at - the contrary is apparent.There our Lord commands the disciples to immerse the receivers of the Gospel.Is not that an indirect call to the receivers of the Gospel to be baptized?When Lysias called to him two centurions,and said - "Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea" (Acts 23: 23), was it not his command to the two hundred to get ready?

 

Would they not have been justly punished, if disobedient?Was it not the voice of their commander issuing through their officers?Of course it was!

 

So, then, when Jesus calls on apostles to baptize disciples, it is an indirect call to disciples to be immersed.When He says - "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" - He virtually says to the hearers - ĎAs then you believe My word, and value My salvation, be immersed!íBelieve the Gospel!Be immersed as the proof of such belief!Ergo, infants are excluded. For infants have no faith."How shall, they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?"

 

Again, if the call be to the baptizer or the supposed active party alone, where is the demand on Christian, parents to get their children baptized ? ĎThis is their duty,í you say. Show us, then, the passage where this call is given! We do not own any duties of Christians but those written in the New Testament.

 

But there are DIRECT COMMANDS TO BELIEVERS TO BE BAPTIZED. (1.) As soon as the Holy Spirit descended, and the Church began to be built, the direct and individual command was given.To the enquiry- ĎMen and brethren, what shall we do?' comes the answer - "Repent and BE BAPTIZED EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST:" Acts 2: 38.Can he be one well-taught in the Scriptures who overlooks the second of Acts?

 

(2.) Peter is sent to preach to Cornelius and his friends.They believe."He commanded them to he baptized in the name of the Lord:" Acts 10: 48.

(3.) Saul the persecutor is arrested by the Lord.Changed of heart, he enquires, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to do?" Jesus assures him, that in the city of Damascus it should be told him what he is to do.Accordingly Ananias is sent, who bids him be baptized: 22: 16."And he arose and was baptized:" 9: 18.Here is the special and direct command and here the obedience of faith!Twice is Paulís baptism brought before us.And who is Paul?The apostle to whom especially the doctrine of "the Church" is committed.Paul is the especial witness of the believerís membership with Christ.What is he to do who receives this truth?To be immersed at once into Christ!This is our Lordís answer to Paulís enquiry.Christian! how can yon refuse?

 

This is a most weighty case.He has not been three days a believer.He has eaten nothing for that time.But as soon as his eyes are opened, and before he partakes of food, he is baptized.Even this rapid baptism, as we think it, is gently chided of delay. "And now WHY TARRIEST THOU."How long have you tarried, reader?And why?

 

Before he testifies to others of forgiveness in Christ, he is to receive the sign of forgiveness himself."Arise and wash away thy sins!"Is that passivity or activity?And what says he to those assembled under his teaching?"Be ye followers (imitators) of me, even, as I also am of Christ: " 1 Cor. 11: 1.Now Christ was immersed, though He might have pleaded exemption; and with this act of righteousness the Father is so well pleased, that He opens the heaven, and proclaims Jesus His Beloved Son.In this Paul follows Christ.Being commanded to submit to the ordinance of baptism, he obeyed.So then, Christian, if you would not be disobedient, you must follow in the footsteps of Paul and of Christ.

 

The baptism which Paul preached was the baptism of believers.It is an error to speak of as if that were the point for which we contend.We will baptize those who believe, even though they should be but children of twelve or fourteen.

 

Thus received, baptism is a testimony of much weight, and is felt by all to be so.When in heathen lands, one is wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and is about to join the Church of Christ, at what point do the agents of Satan assault the young believer? They contest his being baptized.Against that rite, and its vivid testimony, they direct all their engines.Promises, threats, curses, entreaties, are not spared.He may even hold his views in secret, if he will not proclaim them by that public, God-ordained action.

 

Let me take an example or two.Bundhoo was an Indian idolater.He became servant in a missionaryís house.There he was taught the Scriptures, and prayed for.He asked for a New Testament, that he might read "the good news" himself.He began to go to chapel, and his attention to the preacher was observed by many.At home he was often found in some retired place, on his knees, in prayer.By degrees, all his heathen practices were given up.That drew upon him scorn and contempt from his family and friends, though he had done nothing to occasion the loss of caste.When asked why he did not profess himself a disciple, he would reply, with tears, "How can I give up my wife and child?"He thought he could be a Christian in heart, while a heathen in name.But the Spirit of God was striving with Bundhoo.A short time ago he came to the missionary with whom he now lives, and said, "My mind is much troubled, I can wait no longer, I desire to be baptized."You may be sure his minister was very glad to hear him say so, believing that he had long been a Christian in heart.Not so his friends and neighbours, when they knew he was determined to join the Christians.They were very angry, and did all they could to hinder him.He had to endure the scoffs and reproaches of his relations, and even the curses of his mother.They then drove him away from them, and he went to stay at the house of the missionary. "His wife deserted him, but they could not take his little boy from him, though they tried to do so." "I believe it was on the 9th of last March, about eight in the morning he was baptized in the river Ganges, just opposite the house in which he first heard of Jesus." - Jvv. Miss. Herald, 1845, p. 81.

 

Take another case, of a young female in India:

 

"No words can tell with what intense interest and love we watched this lamb daily reaching nearer and nearer to the door of escape from the dark wilderness of heathenism, into the safe and happy fold of the Good Shepherd on earth.Again and again she came imploring to be allowed to receive baptism in the name of the Good Shepherd.We encouraged her to wait, and hope, and pray.We told her she was the Good Shepherdís little lamb, and He was watching her with tenderest love.He knew all the dangers to which she was exposed, and that He would protect and deliver her whilst she kept looking only to Him.

 

"On Saturday, September 4th, Soobbee came to us.During five nights previous to her coming she was unable to sleep, from the multitude of thoughts within; and no wonder, since she was about to cut herself off from relations and friends, and moreover, there was the fear lest after all she might not escape. - She came, and we sent and called for her parents at once. On their arrival, Mr. - explained to them the reason of calling them, namely, not to ask their permission as to the baptizing of the child, but as to what they would do with her after she had been baptized?Would they receive her again at home, treat her kindly, and give her food?Or would they cast her off?He said there was nothing in the receiving Christian baptism which justified them in abandoning their children, and he hoped the day would soon come when parents would allow their children freedom in their homes to worship, God according to the dictates of their consciences.This was the point kept steadily before them, and by it the responsibility of forsaking their child was thrown on them.It was as a very trying time.Our hearts ached for the parents, and ached for the child, placed in so trying a position, who in order to follow Jesus was obliged to turn a deaf ear to the weeping entreaties of parents and friends.Her relatives tried every means to induce her to change her mind, and return home with them without receiving baptism.Soobbee, however, by God's grace, was as firm as a rock, proving by her steadfastness that the inner change was the work of God, and not the work of man.Once and again they seized her as they would a naughty child, and tried to compel her to go, by angrily commanding her to arise and go home.Then we interfered and told them we could allow no violence to be used in our house.Relation after relation, friend after friend, appealed by turns to her, but in vain.Finally the mother threw herself at my feet, and entreated me to command Soobbee to go with them.

To this I replied the door was wide open, and her child was at liberty to go if she wished to do so; but I could not and would not command her to go, as she had chosen the right path.They all went away at five o'clock, and in the presence of several Christian friends, Mr, C - administered baptism to her, and gave her the name of Caroline, that being the name of the kind friend who has offered to pay her wages as monitor.

 

"Her people came again on Sunday morning to say farewell.In the evening Caroline was very desirous to go to the Lordís house, and thinking her people had given her up and would make no disturbance, we went.Soon, however, her friends found out she was in their neighbourhood, and shortly after the church was filled with them.They sat and gazed upon her as she sat quietly in a row of young companions.She saw them, and whispered to my ayah, ĎNaomi, I am not afraid.íBut some hearts were afraid for her, lest she should be seized and torn in pieces whilst in the defenceless attitude of kneeling.However, the Lord kept them back, and we drove quietly off without receiving any injury.Then Caroline said, ĎThey would like to kill me; let them do so; I am not afraid; I should go to my Fatherís house, and there is no sorrow there.íI felt for the sorrowful tone in which the last words wore said - Ďno sorrow there;í but in reply said, ĎI hoped she would be spared for many, many years, to serve faithfully the Lord she loved so well.íĎI wish that too,í she answered, quietly.On Monday morning they came again to demand her few jewels.

 

"I told Caroline we would give them back in case her parents asked for them, and I would replace them.To this her instantaneous reply was, ĎI do not want them any more.íNative girls are famous for their love of ornaments; so we see in her reply an additional evidence how real was the change wrought by the Spirit of God in her.

 

"Knowing she was fond of cocoa nuts they gave her one.She did not eat it, as we had warned her against tasting anything given her at this time by her friends.It turned green in the course of the day.Her friends came again and again to ask her if she would go home with them.They had put something into the cocoa nut which would have affected her mind.At last, seeing she was unchangeable, her brother, looking like a demon, furiously exclaimed to me, ĎIt is all your doing; it is all your doing.í Caroline, frightened, escaped within, and I shut the door, saving the parents might come within, but no one else."

 

Was there no activity here?Was there no testimony to the power of faith in Christ?Even so there is, though in less degree, in this country; specially when the party baptized is a female.

 

(1) Baptism is a profession of faith on the part of the believer before the Church of Christ, on the ground of which he is ordinarily received. ĎI believe in Christ, who died, was buried, and rose!Let me be buried with Him, and with Him rise!I die to Adam and Moses.Bury me to them!I rise, to walk with Christ!íGod demands of the hearer and receiver of the gospel, the mouth as well as the heart: Rom. 10: 9, 10; Matt. 10: 32.This is Godís way of asking our testimony to His Son.And the questions put by the baptizer drew out the witness of the baptized : 1 Peter 3: 21.

 

(2.) Baptism is a confession before the world. It is a visible leaving of the perverse generation: Godís own, appointed way of testifying our death and burial to it. "With many other words (after the call to be baptized) did he testify and exhort, saying, ĎSave yourselves from the untoward generation.'Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:" Acts 2: 40, 41.

 

How strongly did Paul confess Christ, when, after having been the persecutor, as the follower of Moses, he was buried to the law, in order to follow Christ: Gal. 2: 19.

 

(3) It is also full of consolation and benefit to the believerís self.God witnesses visibly to the immersed man of faith, that his sins are washed away, and that himself is in Christ.He is set in the place of Godís grace and acceptance.He has visibly passed from death to life.He is on his way to the first and blest resurrection.He is one of the violent ones, forcing his way to the kingdom and its glory, despite the opposition of men and Satan: Matt. 11: 12.

 

ĎBut what good would it be, if I, a Christian of twenty or thirty yearsí standing, were to submit to baptism?Would it add anything to my previous testimony?What would people say about it?í

 

ĎWould it be any good?íYes, it would!It were indeed rather humiliating to have to confess, that for so long a period I stood out against the clear command of the Saviour; the first command addressed to one who has received the Gospel.But ĎBetter late than never!íBetter be humbled before men now, than rebuked by Christ at His judgment-seat for disobedience?ĎJohn, did you hear masterís bell ring?íĎYes; but it was half an hour ago.I wish I had gone at first, but itís too late now!íNo, disciple!It's not too late yet!But soon the Master will be here, and then it will be too late."Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."Jesus had been for thirty years then the Fatherís servant, yet He obeys. Never mind what men say! Look to Christ.

 

But why were apostles not baptized with Christian baptism?That they were baptized with Johnís, I grant.But Johnís was wholly different from Christís.

 

This should be proved, not assumed.Fundamentally Johnís baptism was the same as Christís.They used the same element - water.The requisite preparation for such was repentance, or faith: Mark 1: 4.The spiritual meaning of each was - the forgiveness of sins; and severance from the evil generation.Baptism in each signified the giving up of all hope from ourselves:. Mark 1: 5.It was a death and burial to Moses: a rising in new life, to listen to Jesus the Christ.Its meaning as it regards the future, is a washing and cleansing with a view to entering the millennial kingdom of glory: Isa. 1: 16, 19, 31.These things hold good still.

 

Jesus before His death is baptized with Johnís baptism, in His character of Son of God: Mark 1: 9.He is the example for the sons of God: 1 Pet. 2: 21.In it God is well pleased: the heavens open, and the Persons of the Godhead on whose name our dispensations turns, then manifest themselves: Matt. 3.; 28: 19.After that, Jesus' and John both baptized together; and Jesus proclaims the future kingdom of glory, as John did: John 3: 22; Mark 1: 14, 15.Why was John sent to immerse in water?On purpose to manifest Jesus to Israel: John 1: 31.And when envy prompted Johnís disciples to inquire about this new baptizer, who proved more attractive than John - John bears witness to Jesus as the Christ, the Son : John 3: 28, 35.Then baptism, received on such testimony, was in its essence Christian baptism.

 

That there were differences, we admit.

 

(1) John was sent to Israel. Jesus, after His rejection by Israel, sends His message and baptism to all nations: Matt. 28: 19 ; Acts 13: 24.

 

(2) John was unable to communicate the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.Jesus sent them at Pentecost.But the immersion in water and its spiritual meaning continued.Jesusí baptism, then, is inclusive of Johnís, but goes beyond it.

 

(3) And Christian baptism takes a deeper tone because of Christís now finished work.Jesus must be owned to be the Christ in order to the reception of Christian baptism.Also it should be seen, that the believer is one with the Christ in His death and resurrection.The supernatural gifts we have not.Jesus accepts the apostles as baptized: in their case baptism was not to be repeated: John 13: 10.

 

ĎBut this is a dispensation of Godís grace - why then not admit the infant into the place where the Holy Ghost dwells

 

Because the flesh ought not to be set in the Church, where the Holy Ghost dwells.And no rite can put the flesh there.The infant is only flesh begotten of flesh.You are disobeying Christ, and working confusion, if you do.There are, moreover, two aspects of grace.The Holy Ghost works in the world, to convince of sin, of righteousness, and judgment to come.That is the place which God assigns to all who are of the world, sons of Adam and not sons of God.In the Churches of old all were believers, sons of God by faith : Gal. 3: 26.Besides if you admit the infant into the Church because the Spirit is there, why not the adult unbeliever?To put the unbeliever among the sons of God is mischief to the souls of multitudes.

 

Either give the infant the Lordís Supper as well as baptism, or neither.Self-examination and faith are indeed required previous to partaking the Supper.But if the want of faith can be got over in regard of baptism, so may it in regard of the Supper.If the Supper be the union of the members of Christ, and the infant be not one of them, neither then is it to be immersed into Christ, and exhibited as one of His members in baptism.

 

ĎBut what of 1 Cor. 7: 14?Does not that prove that the infants of families where one parent was a believer were baptized

 

Nay! the very reverse!If so, the heathen wife was not, as Paul assumes she was, on a level with the baptized children.But see a tract in which this question is fully gone into.*

 

[* "Your children holy," or Were infants baptized in Apostolic times?Fletcher, Norwich.]

 

ĎBut does not Jesus in Matthew 18. charge disciples to receive little children?Does He not say there? Ė ďOf such is the kingdom of heaven."'

 

No: He does not!There is no word about the reception of infants in Matthew 18.It is the reception of those men of faith who resemble little children: verses 4, 5.It refers to "little ones who believe in" Christ: 6.And where Jesus in the nineteenth chapter declares, that of persons resembling little children the kingdom is composed; He does not baptize the infants that were brought.Moreover He is speaking of the future millennial kingdom of glory.All who wish to enter that, must be men of peace, and not of strife and envying."Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, verily I say unto you, he shall not enter therein."

 

We come to the third point.

 

3. THE BAPTISM OF FAITH IS AN ACT ASSURING SALVATION.

 

(1) This is testified by well-known texts. "He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved:" Mark 16: 16. "The like figure whereunto (to Noah's salvation in the ark) baptism doth now save us also.. not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" 1 Peter 3: 21 ; Luke 1: 77 ; Rom. 10: 10; Acts 2: 21, 47 ; Titus 3: 5.

 

It is strangely objected ĎThat it is unscriptural to affirm baptism to be the expression of a spiritual standing already given.'

 

This is an objection quite necessary to the argument of a sprinkler of infants. For if the contrary be the case, Infant Baptism is unscriptural. But we have already shown that all rightly baptized persons are saved. Peter expressly affirms it. The essential requisite to baptism is "the answer of a good conscience." Where that is found, conjoined with baptism, there is salvation. But are all infants who are baptized (let us grant, for argumentís sake, sprinkling or pouring to be baptism) saved? None will affirm it - none at least of those with whom we have to do.

 

Abraham is the father of all believers, of all the justified by faith. His justification was the pattern of ours. How was it then with him? He was first justified, then he received circumcision as a sign and seal of the righteousness by faith which he already possessed while uncircumcised: Rom. 4: 11.

 

Proceed we further to exhibit proofs that the baptism, owned by Christ represents and assures to the believer his salvation.

 

(2.) Let us take the work of Christ. Faith in that saves. The believer really dies with Christ by faith: Rom. 7: 2. "You, dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh bath He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses:" Col. 2: 13 ; Gal. 2: 16, 20. This previous standing given by faith is shadowed forth visibly to all in the believerís burial beneath the waters, and his arising out of them. With Paul, the burial in baptism with Christ is the proof of a previous death with Him.

 

(3.) Regard salvation as the work of the Holy Spirit. Then he that believes in Jesus is already begotten of God: John 1: 12, 13; 3: 3; 1 John 4: 1; 5: 1. He is begotten again to a living hope, who was dead in sins. He has new life.

 

Now to the new invisible life God has annexed a new BIRTH. The begotten of God are by His will to be born out of water: John 3: 5. The old Adam is visibly buried as dead, the new man alive to God comes forth, in emblem, from the womb of the waters. The visible ceremony is Godís appointed testimony to the previous invisible reality. And this testimony, striking the heart through the eye, has oft been blessed of God to convincing the unbeliever of his sin, and leading him to faith in Christ and regeneration by the Spirit.

 

(4.) Take the typical histories to which the Holy Ghost appeals: 1 Peter 4: 17-21. Our salvation is like that of Noahís family in the ark, which by Godís command the patriarch constructed, for the saving of his house from the destroying flood. Our ark now is the righteousness framed by Christ in His obedience and death. If that be denied, let us say then that Christ is the ark. But the ark now is invisible. It is entered by faith alone. Whoever enters is saved. Entry into the ark is virtual salvation. But the believerís passage through the waters of baptism is the visible salvation which testifies of the previous virtual one. He is buried under the waters of death, and sunk under judgment. But he comes out saved; visibly set beyond the floods of destruction. Like Noah on Ararat, he treads on a new world - he stands under the favour of God.

 

(5.) Or look at Israelís deliverance. The first and virtual rescue was that granted at the passover, when the blood on the door shielded from the angelís sword and when the lamb fed upon within, gave token of a passage out of Egypt. But the passage through the waters was visible salvation from their foes. After the memorable night of the passover their foes still pursued, and terror seized the host of the Lord, till safe landed on the other side, they beheld the drowned ranks of their enemies. Thus the believer is virtually saved by faith in the blood of the Lamb. But salvation through death and resurrection in union with Christ his sacrifice, is visibly represented in the passage through the waters.

 

The cleansing of the man from sin is primarily effected by faith. This God hath done for him who believes: Acts 10: 15; 11: 9. The Most High purified the Gentilesí heart by faith, as well as the Jewsí. 15. But after faith came baptism, or the visible and entire bathing of the whole man, emblematic of the previous forgiveness of the disciple.

 

But how does that hold in Gal. 3? "As many as were baptized into Christ put on Christ" - not "witnessed our having previously put Him on."

 

What saith that Scripture? "For ye are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus." How is that true of babes? Are they all the children of God by faith? Are they "in Christ?" Here, while baptism is partly passive, it is seen to be, both before and after the immersion, active. And the reference in this verse (Gal. 3: 27) is to the change of dress required by immersion. The baptized put off their old and wet clothes to put on their new and dry ones. Now the old clothes put off represent the habits of the old Adam; the new clothes put on represent the emblematic clothing with Christ.

 

How can infants be thus active? How can they put on Christ of whom they have not heard? The clothing with Christís righteousness takes place at once on faith. The clothing after baptism is a visible clothing representative of the former.

 

(6) Baptism represents also the believerís consecration as priest. By the blood of Christ he becomes one of the new priesthood. But his visible consecration is effected in baptism. His immersion was typified of old in Exodus 29: 4.

 

(7) In like manner Christian baptism answers to the, lawís service over the healed leper. He must first be healed. Then came the bathing of his whole body in water, and he should be visibly clean: Lev. 14: 9. The bath witnessed to his present condition, as delivered from his plague. Godís reception of the man at once on his invisible regeneration, precedes. Then follows baptism to testify to man of Godís previous acceptance. God witnessed by the supernatural unction of the Holy Ghost to His reception of Cornelius and his friends. After that how could man refuse to receive them by baptism into the visible assembly of God? Acts 15: 7-9.

 

To sum up then. It has been shown that baptism is an act (1) of faith, (2) of obedience, and (3) of salvation. But on these grounds infants are excluded. They possess not the essential requisite of faith; they cannot render the obedience of faith; nor do they possess the blessed result - salvation. This ordinance of Christ as applied to them is an acted lie. Baptism represents death to Adam and life in Christ. The infant is still dead in sins, and is not alive in Christ. Baptism figures the manís death to sin, and new life toward God. The babe is not dead to sin, and has not been begotten of God. Baptism testifies that the person is saved. He is a son of Noah within the ark of salvation, and has passed the waters of death and, judgment. That is false as it regards the infant of the flesh. And so it runs throughout each aspect of this ceremony of Christ.

 

The question here discussed is most momentous to the cause of truth. Either the scheme of God supposes faith to precede baptism, and then salvation and its accompanying benefits are already possessed. Or faith is not required: all that is demanded is a ceremony wrought upon a child of the flesh. Then it follows, that baptism is a magical rite, which effects faith and salvation. For certain it is that the Scripture supposes the baptized to be men of faith, already saved. "By grace ye are saved." "For by grace are ye saved through faith" Eph. 2: 5, 8. Which of these views is the truth if the latter, the ceremonial religion of the priest and of Rome is established in principle. If the former, infant baptism is overturned from the foundations. How long will Christian brethren halt between these two opinions? How long will men of God, versed in Scripture, be blind to the choice to which the Spirit of Christ is calling them?

 

Does not God love truth? Does not Christ call for faithfulness in His stewards? Only by connecting the sign with the thing signified can you keep up truth and reality. The red flag hoisted on yonder heath is the sign that the Rifles are practising, and that if you draw near, you are within range and in danger. A board of notice tells you so. Hoist the flag, then, when the firing is going on, and the sign and the thing signified agree. But what if the flag be run up when there is no one on the ground? And never hoisted, when the soldiers are in exercise? 0 then, here is just ground of complaint, and of the punishment too, of those who have falsified the sign. If any are killed because of it, the blame lies at their door.

 

First, ascertain the reality - then give the sign! The railway signal-man must first see the train in the tunnel before his red flag gives notice of it. If he runs up the green flag when there is danger, and the engineer hurls his express against the obstruction which he could not see, the signal-man is impeached and punished. Baptizer of infants - you are that guilty signal-man!

 

Of what then is baptism the sign? Of the receiverís faith in a risen Christ! It is a token that he is forgiven, cleansed from sin. Apply this to an unbeliever, and you act an untruth! What does baptism signify? That the receiver is alive to God, regenerate by His Spirit. Apply this to one spiritually dead, in the flesh and not in the spirit, and you deceive! Baptism affirms, that the receiver is a member of Christ. Apply this sign to one who is only a child of Adam, and you sin.

 

You do mischief to the world. You lead it, and the sprinkled, when they grow up, to trust in sacraments. You corrupt the Church by building dead stones among the living ones of Godís temple. The Lord awaken His ministers to see this sin and flee from this unfaithfulness! "It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful"

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