BLTC Press Titles

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

Baptism: the design, mode and subjects

by Nathan Lewis Rice


Deak Sir: Your long expected book on baptism, which was partly printed more than eight years ago, has, at length, made its appearance. It is, I think, you have said, your last work on this subject, which, for more than thirty years, has occupied your mind and employed your pen. You have taken ample time to review the arguments on both sides, since I had the pleasure of meeting you in the Lexington Debate. This book, of course, presents your most mature views, supported by your strongest arguments. If it fails to sustain the opinions of anti-podobaptists, we may fairly conclude that they are indefensible. I propose, by way of complying with requests repeatedly made, to weigh your arguments in the scales of the sanctuary, and thus to give to the public the results of the investigations I have made on this subject.

Passing your "antecedents," I propose, first, to examine your arguments on what you call the "Action of Baptism." You have undertaken to establish the following proposition: "Immersion in water into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is the only Christian Baptism." If you have succeeded, two serious conclusions follow inevitably, viz:

1st. That the overwhelming majority of Protestant Christians, to say nothing of Roman Catholics, are unbaptized. Amongst these, are found great numbers of the wisest and best men the world has known.

2d. That the churches which practice pouring or sprinkling, are not true churches of Christ, and their ministers are not true ministers of Christ, but intruders into the sacred office, and profaners of sacred things. For you will scarcely undertake to prove, that the Scriptures recognize unbaptized churches, or an unbaptized ministry.

These consequences, I admit, should not deter us from a thorough examination of the subject; but they should teach us not lightly or hastily to adopt views which bear in their train consequences of so grave importance. They should induce us to approach the subject with all possible candor, and to examine it prayerfully and thoroughly. For the church of Christ, all counted, is "a little flock." No true Christian would be willing to reject from his fellowship any portion of them. Besides, to reject those whom Christ receives, and to produce schism in his mystical body, are sins of no ordinary magnitude.

On the following points, we are happily agreed, viz:

I. That Christian baptism was instituted by our Lord after his resurrection, when he gave to his apostles the great commission: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them," etc. In times past, our Baptist friends have earnestly contended, that the baptism of John is Christian baptism. In your Christian Baptist, you have pointed out the radical differences between the two, and have strongly maintained, that Paul did re-baptize certain disciples of John. You say: "I know to what tortures the passage has been subjected by such cold, cloudy, and sickening commentators as John Gill. But no man can, with any regard to the grammar of language, or the import of the most definite words, make Luke say that when these twelve men heard Paul declare the design of John's immersion, they were not baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."* Again, "Nothing can-more fully exhibit the pernicious influence of favorite dogmas, than to see how many of the Baptists have been Gillized and Fullerized into the notion that these twelve men were not baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, when they heard Paul expound to them the design and

meaning of John's immersion," The language of the great Robert Hall on this point is as strong as yours. "In the whole compass of theological controversy," says he, '' it would be difficult to find a stronger instance of the force of prejudice in obscuring a plain matter of fact; nor is it easy to conjecture what could be the temptation to do such violence to the language of the Scriptures, and to ervery principle of sober criticism, unless it were the horror which certain divines have conceived against everything which bore the shadow of countenancing ana-baptistical error." Just here let me ask, whether it has ever occurred to you, that possibly that same powerful prejudice which induced such men as Gill and Fuller to misinterpret and pervert the plainest language in Scripture, may have misled them and even yourself in interpreting other language in the same volume, on the same subject? May it not be, that -your zeal and theirs for exclusive immersion, is simply the result of that prejudice?

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