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the apostles had believed Friends' doctrine, they would have expressed themselves in different language-foxian, for example. “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Acts, 10:47, 48. Is there any need of comment or could proof be more conclusive? Is Quakerism christian
Look at tlie case of the thousands of Pentecost; Acts, 2:41, of the converts at Samaria; 8: 12, of the Ethiopian eunuch ; 38, of Paul; 9:18, of Lydia and the jailer; 16:15, 33. and others recorded in the book of the practice of the apostles, and recorded to this very end, that we might compare
actions with words, and so ascertain the mind of the Holy Ghost ! How much inward light and inspiration must be requisite to convince a man that water baptism is not a divine institution !
If it be said Peter misunderstood the ministerial commission, in thinking that the gentiles were not included ; I reply, (1) Peter was not all the apostles ; and his prejudice as a jew on the article of communion with the uncircumcised, though common to his nation, is a mere exception to the rule, but one that was not lasting. At first he thought as a jew. It was his personal infirmity, his private imperfection. God wrought a miracle indeed to correct it; but his views of baptism were not corrected, for he baptized the household of Cornelius immediately after the miracle. (2) Paul was miraculously converted, was baptized and never misunderstood his commission in any thing on record. He also practised baptism; and though his colleagues, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, and others, most probably officiated
oftener than himself in the rite of baptism, yet was it done in his presence and with his authority. No miracle was ever wrought to correct the administration of baptism : and if the exception (a transient one) confirms the rule, it is true that the apostles did understand their commission. Their public practice too is without exception, uniform, decisive. This was especially true after the gospel began to be preached to the nations by universal consent.
Besides, the position, to which we now refer, respects the inspiration of the apostles in their public administration. This indeed is the only proper idea of their inspiration. The private actions and words of the apostles were not inspired. Inspired actions, that abortion of moral agency, is one of the inventions of the religious society. They were inspired only when they professed inspiration; only when authoritatively delivering, by word or writing, the will of God to others, or when they received it for their own official government. Inspiration did not remove or impair their personal accountability or consecrate all their individual conduct; but where they spake or wrote professedly the will of God to bind the consciences of others, where they all concurred in the measures and duties of his worship, and where their recorded practice under the high seal of heaven proposes to illustrate the duties of men, there
, the position is in its place-plainly none but an infidel can doubt that the inspired apostles understood this fundamental matter, their commission!
Three of their objections I will here consider; premising that I have often heard them urged by their leaders; that they are the strongest with which I am acquainted; and that properly expounded they are totally against themselves. They are all texts of scripture.
Objection 1. “ The like figure,” &c. 1 Pet. 3:21. From this they infer that water baptism is not meant ; that “a good conscience” is all; and that this they
i can have in perfection while they entirely omit the figure.”
Without circumlocution I will give what I am sure is the plain and proper meaning of this passage, in a paraphrase ; adverting to its connection with the preceding verses: As eight persons were saved in the ark, when the whole world perished by the just judgment of God; so now, those who duly submit to the ordinance of baptism find that to be figuratively an ark of safety to them : not that the mere mechanical action which removes “the filth of the flesh,” or mere symbolical washing, comprehends the important matter; the substance must ever accompany or rather precede the sign, in order to its salvation: but how could we feel safe were we to neglect it? how could we possess “the answer of a good conscience toward God” if we were to omit what he hath commanded ? In order to be assured of his favor, we are ever to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless: Luke, 1:6, for “a good conscience toward God” is always the concomitant and consequence of universal obedience. This " figure” gives a terrible implication against
“ the hopes of those who neglect baptism. It is the
« ark” in which the church is saved; while a worse deluge than that of the days of Noah awaits the souls of them that contemn God, and who yet boast of their “good conscience” while they deny HIS ordinances! Many a poor dupe of the light within has vaunted his mistake (and now continues to do it) as if it were his piety : and boasted or believed in “a good conscience” as his own, while he refused the very thing to which the passage refers as constituting it.
In proof of the validity of the exposition, let it be remembered (1) generally, that christianity and truth are always self-consistent; (2) that this Peter is the same who officiated in the house of Cornelius, and who thus called to the thousands on the day of Pentecost; “Repent and be baptized EVERY ONE OF you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Besides, the drift of the context obviously requires this interpretation.
Objection 2. “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in (into) mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas; besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize ; but to preach the gospel.” 1 Cor. 1 : 14-17. From this they gather that baptism is at best a small affair ; that it was no part of Paul's proper office to perform it; and that it can be no very culpable matter for them wholly to dispense with it. To which I reply
(1) That this is wholly changing their ground; it is a fair concession of the fact that the rite was practised by the apostles of God: for if spiritual baptism be all, then this is meant; and if so, are Friends to be seen disparaging its importance! Paul must have meant the rite, and not that signified by it—or, he regretted the salvation of men!
(2) There is no such thing in the passage as any disparagement of the rite. Paul does not say that it was not his proper business ; for then why did he baptize at all? Did he perform what was improper and wrong? If his had been the notion of Friends, would he have baptized Crispus, and Gaius, and Stephanas and his household! He does indeed say that it was not his principal business or the duty most appropriate to his office as the Apostle of the nations. But is this depreciating or impeaching baptism as a divine ordinance! Far from it. See him at Ephesus, Acts, 19 : 1-7, imposing christian baptism upon twelve of John's disciples :—who had been before baptized by the Baptist ; as I must believe, notwithstanding the show of venerable names, (and nothing else,) in favor of a different view. But the church was divided into parties; and some (we may guess who) piqued themselves not a little on their conversion under the ministry of Panl, and especially that they had received their baptism at his hands. By the way, they ralued baptism and associated it with their conversion to God! Panl then rejoiced in the circumstance that he had baptized very few of them, “ lest any should say that he" was accessary to their partizanships. But did he assert or imply that the others were not baptized? or