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in Enon, near to Salim, because there was much water there," it may be inferred, that baptism was administered by John and Christ, by plunging the whole body under water. Here we perceive how baptism was administered among the ancients; for they immersed the whole body in water: now it is the prevailing practice for a minister only to sprinkle the body or the head. Calvin.
Baptism by immersion was undoubtedly the apostolical practice, and was never dispensed with by the church, except in cases of sickness, or when a sufficient quantity of water could not be had. In both these cases, baptism by aspersion, or sprinkling, was allowed, but in no other. Bower's History of the Popes.
The church of Rome hath drawn short compendiums of both sacraments. In the eucharist, they only use the wafer; and instead of immersion, they introduce aspersion. I have now given what testimony I could find in our English authors to prove the practice of immersion, from the time the Britons and Saxons were baptized, till King James's days, when the people grew peevish with all ancient ceremonies; and through the love of novelty, and the niceness of parents, and the pretence of modesty, they laid aside immersion, which never was abrogated by any canon ; but is still recommended by the rubric of our church, which orders the child to be dipped discreetly and warily. Sir John Floyer's History of Cold Bathing.
Some there are that stand strictly for the particular action of diving, or dipping the baptized under water, as the only action which the institution of the sacrament will bear; and our church allows no other, except in cases of the child's weakness; and there is expressed in our Saviour's baptism, both the descending into the water, and rising up. Archbishop Usher..
The party to be baptized was wholly immerged, or put under water, which was the almost constant and universal custom of those times; whereby they did more notably and significantly express the three great ends and effects of baptism.
Dr. Cave's Primitive Christianity. The observation of the Greek Church, in relation to this matter, (the baptism of Christ) is this: that he who ascendeth out of the
water, must first descend down into it; and, consequently, that baptism is to be performed not by sprinkling, but by washing the body. And, indeed, he must be strangely ignorant of the Jewish rites of baptism, who seems to doubt of this; since, to the due performance of it, they required the immersion of the whole body to such a degree of nicety, that if any dirt was upon it, that hindered the water from coming to the part, they thought the ceremony not rightly done. The Christians, no doubt, took this rite from the Jews, and followed them in their manner of performing it. Accordingly, several authors have shown, that we read nowhere in the Scriptures of any one's being baptized, but by immersion; and, from the acts of councils and ancient rituals, have proved, that this manner of immersion continued, as much as possible, to be used for thirteen hundred years after Christ. Stackhouse's History of the Bible.
The rites of baptism, in the primitive times, were performed in rivers and fountains; and this manner of baptizing the ancient church entertained, from the example of Christ, who was baptized of John Sir Thomas Ridley,
I think the most probable meaning of the phrase, baptized for the dead, is to be fetched from Matt. xx. 22. Luke xii. 50. and Mark x. 38. in all which places, BawToba signifies to die aviolent death by the hands of persecutors. It seems to have been a metaphor taken from the custom of those days in baptizing; for the person baptized went down under the water, and was, as were, buried under it. Hence St. Paul says, Rom. vi. 4. and Col. ii. 12, that they were "buried with Christ by baptism." So that this custom probably gave occasion to our Saviour, to express bis being to suffer death by the hands of the Jews, in the phrase of a baptism, that he was to be baptized with. And St. Paul seems to have taken up the same phrase with a little variation, but still with the same Bishop Pearce. meaning, Their (the primitive Christians') general and ordinary way to baptize by immersion, or dipping the person, whether it were an infant or grown man or woman, into the water. This is so plain and clear, by an infinite number of passages, that as one cannot
but pity the weak endeavours of such Pado-Baptists as would maintain the negative of it; so, also, we ought to disown, and show a dislike of the profane scoffs, which some people give to the English Anti-Pædo-Baptists, merely for their use of dipping. It is one thing to maintain, that that circumstance is not absolutely neces'sary to the essence of baptism; and another to go about to represent it as ridiculous and foolish, or shameful and indecent, when it was, in all probability, the way by which our blessed Saviour, and for certain, the most usual and ordinary way by which the ancient Christians did receive their baptism. It is a great want of prudence, as well as of honesty, to refuse to grant to an adversary what is certainly true, and may be proved so; it creates a jealousy of all the rest that one says. It is plain, that the ordinary and general practice of St. John, the apostles, and primitive church, was to baptize by putting the person into the water, or causing him to go into the water; neither do I know of any protestant who has denied it, and but very few men of learning that have denied, that where it can be used, with safety of health, it is the most fitting way. John iii. 23. Mark i. 5. Acts viii. 38. are undeniable proofs that the baptized person went ordinarily into the water, and sometimes the baptist too. We should not know, by these accounts, whether the whole body of the baptized was put under water, head and all, were it not for the two latter proofs, which seem to me to put it out of question; one, that St. Paul does twice, in an allusive way of speaking, call baptism a burial, which allusion is not so proper, if we conceive him to have gone into the water only up to the arm-pits, &c. as it is, if their whole body was immersed; the other, the custom of the near succeeding times. As for sprinkling, I say, as Mr. Blake, at his first coming up in England-Let them defend it that use it: they (who are inclined to Presbyterianism) are hardly prevailed on to leave off the scandalous custom of having their children, though never so well, baptized out of a basin, or porringer, in a bed-chamber, bardly persuaded to bring them to church, much farther from having them dipped, though never so able to endure it.
Dr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism. All the Christians in Asia, all in Africa, and about one-third of
Europe, are of the last sort, i. e. practise immersion; in which third part of Europe, are comprehended the Christians of Grecia, Thracia, Servia, Bulgaria, Rascia, Wallachia, Moldavia, Russia, Nigra, &c.; and even the Muscovites, who, if the coldness of the country will excuse, might plead for a dispensation with the most reason of any. Ibid.
The word baptism signifies a washing, particularly when it is done by immersion, or by dipping or plunging a thing under water, which was formerly the ordinary way of administering the sacrament of baptism. But the Church, which cannot change the least article of the Christian faith, is not so tied up in matters of discipline and ceremonies. Not only the Catholic Church, but also the pretended Reformed Churches, have altered this primitive custom in giving the sacrament of baptism, and now allow of baptism by pouring or sprinkling water on the person baptized. Nay, many of their ministers do it, nowadays, by fillipping a wet finger and thumb over a child's head, or by shaking a wet finger or two over the child; which it is hard enough to call a baptizing in any sense. Dr. Wetham's Annotations on Matt. iii. 6.
From the foregoing authorities, I think we may conclude that immersion in water was the original mode of admitting into the church the new convert to the Christian Religion.
It also appears to me to be pregnant with very significant meaning; for when I reflect on the manner in which the great moral Governor of the world has been pleased to instruct the successive generations of men, I find they have often been taught by signs and wonders wrought in the earth.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the hea ven, to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons. Gen. i. 14.
Speak thou unto the children of Israel, saying Verily, my s ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD, that doth sanctify you. Exod. xxxi. 13.
And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. Exod. vii. 3.
Circumcision was also given as a sign to all the descendants of Abraham. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you. Gen. xvi. 10, 11.
In process of time came John the Baptist, raised up by divine ap pointment, "to prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; and his commission was to baptize, or immerse in water, all that came to him, they first making a confession of their sins. This was emblematical of the new dispensation of things, that was about to be established, or a washing away of the old law, with all its covenants; "for we are not under the law, but under grace." It was also a sign of washing from sin; and the rising up out of the water a sign of rising to newness of life.
To them shall give in charge,
To teach all nations what of him they learn'd,
Salvation shall be preach'd, but to the sons
Of Abraham's faith, wherever through the world.
Our Protestant Church, in her General Catechism, very properly styles it," an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."
It is also an emblem of the resurrection of the body: "We are buried with him by baptism into 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." Rom. vi. 4.