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Baptism a Divine Commandment to be Observed.
Being a SERMON Preached at BARBICAN, OEtober 9, 1765. at the BAPTISM of the Reverend Mr ROBERT CARMICHAEL,
Minister of the Gospel in EDINBURGH.
The P R E F A C
ACE. ΤΗ HE following discourse was not designed for the press; had it, the subject
of it would have been a little more enlarged upon; and, perhaps, might have appeared in a little better dress; but as the publication of it is become necessary, I chose to let it go just as it was delivered, as nearly in the very words and expressions, as niy memory could affist me; the sense, I am sure, is no where departed from ; that it might not be said, that any thing that was spoken is concealed, changed, or altered. The warmest solicitations of my friends would never have prevailed upon me to have made it public, being unwilling to renew the controversy about baptism unnecessarily; and being determined only to write in self-defence, when attacked, or whenever the controversy is renewed by others; for I am very sensible, that the argument on both sides is greatly exhausted, and scarce any thing new can be expected, that is serious and pertinent : but the rude attack upon the sermon in two letters in a news-paper, determined me at once to send it out into the world, as being a sufficient confutation of itself, without any remarks at all, of the lies and fallhoods, caluninies, cavils and impertinencies, with which the letters abound; whereby it will appear to every reader, how fallly that writer charges me with railing against my brethren, and the whole christian world; and how injuriously he represents me, as treating all that differ from me as fools, unlearned, ignorant of the scriptures, and unclean. It is hard we cannot practise what we believe, and speak in vindication of our practice, without being abused, vilified and insulted in a public news-paper ; is this treating us as brethren, as the writer of the letters, in a canting way, affects to call
us ? And how does this answer to the false character of Candidus, he assumes ? I shall not let myself down so low, nor do I think it fitting and decent to go into, and carry on a religious controversy in a newspaper, and especially with so worthless a writer, and without a name. This base and cowardly way of writing, is like the Indians manner of fighting; who set up an hideous yell
, pop off their guns behind bushes and hedges, and then run away and hide themselves in the thickets. However, if the publication of this discourse should be of any service to relieve or strengthen the ininds of any, with respect to their duty in the observance of the ordinance of baptism, I am content to bear the indignities of men, and shall reckon it an over-balance to all their reproaches and insults.
J. G. VOL. II.
Being about to administer the Ordinance of Baptism, before we enter
upon the administration of it, I shall drop a few words on the occasion, from a passage of scripture you will find in
1 John V. 3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his
commandments are not grievous.
WHAT I shall say in the following discourse, will much depend upon
the sense of the word commandments; by which are meant, not the ten commandments, or the commandments of the moral law delivered by Moses to the children of Israel; which, though they are the commands of God, and to be observed by christians under the present dispensation ; since we are not witbcut law to God, but under the law to Christ“; and are to be kept from a principle of love to God, for the end of the commandment is charity, or love, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned"; yet these commands are not easy of observation, through the weakness of the flesh, or corruption of nature; nor can they be perfectly kept by any of Adam's fallen race ; for there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and finneth not"; and he that offends in one point is guilty of all“; and is exposed to the curse and condemnation of the law, which runs in this tenor, Cursed is every one that continuerh not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do theme; hence this law in general is called a fiery law, the letter which kills, and the ministration of condemnacion and death, which make it terrible to offenders; however, it inay be deligheed in by believers in Christ after the inward man: nor are the commandments of the ceremonial law intended, which being many and numerous, were burdenfom; especially to carnal men, who were frequently ready to say concerning
them, a i Cor. ix. 21. bi Tim. i. s. · Eccles. vii. 20.
d] . Gal, iii. 10,
them, What a weariness is it? One of its precepts, circumcision, is called a yoke, which, says the apostle Peter, neither our fathers nor we were able to bear ; because it bound persons to keep the whole law, which they could not do; and the whole is said to be a yoke of bondage 5, and consequently its commandments grievous ; besides this law was abrogated before the apostle John wrote this epiftle, and its commandments were not to be kept; Christ had abolished this law of commandments contained in ordinances; and there is now a disannulling of the whole of it, because of its weakness and unprofitableness": rather the commandments of faith and love the apostle speaks of in chap. iii. 23. may be defigned; And this is his commandment, that wé Mould believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as be gave us commandment: these were exhorrations, injunctions and commands of Christ to his disciples, which were to be kept by them, and were not grievous. Ye believe in God, says he', believe also in me; and again, A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you k ; but inasmuch as Christ, as lawgiver in his church, has appointed some special and peculiar laws and ordinances to be observed, and which he calls his commandments, be that hath my commandments and keepeth them, be it is that loveth me'; very agreeably to our text; and after he had given his apoftles a commission to preach and baptize, he adds, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you"; and whereas, among these commandments and ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper are the chief and principal, I chuse to understand the text of them"; and since we are about to admi. nister the first of these at this time, I shall confine my discourse chiefly to that, and shall attempt the following things.
I. To shew that baptism, water-baptism, is a command of God and Christ,
or a divine command. II. That being a divine command, it ought to be kept and observed. III. The encouragement to keep it; it is the love of God, and it is a commandment not grievous. 3.5 2
Acts xv. 10.
Gal. v. 1.
Ephes. ii, 15. Heb. vii. 18. John xiv. i. * John xüü. 34
John xiv. 21. m Matt. xxvii. 20. Let the commandments be what they may, which are chiefly intended in the text; yet since water-baptism is a commandment of God, and allowed to be such, and the rest of the commandments mentioned are not denied to be, nor excluded from being the commandments of God; there can be no impropriety in treating on the commandment of baptism particularly and fingly from this passage of scripture ; and it might have escaped, one would have thought, a saeer, though it has not, of a fcurrilous writer, in a late news-paper, referred to in the preface.
I. The ordinance of water-baptism is a divine command. Jobn, the fore. runner of our Lord, was the first administrator of it, and from thence was called the Baptist; and he did not administer it of his own mind and will, buc had a million and commision from God to do it; There was a man fent from God, whose name was John; and he was sent by him, not to preach the gospel only, but to baptize; for so he himself says, be that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, &c. Hence Christ put this question to the chief priests and elders of the Jews, the baptism of John, whence was it? from beaven or of men'? this brought them into such a dilemma, that they knew not what answer to give, and chose to give none ; our Lord's design by the question was to shew that John's baptism was of divine institution, and not human; wherefore he charges che Pharisees and Lawyers with rejeEling the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him ?, that is, of Jobn; and he elsewhere 'speaks of his baptism as a part of righteousness to be fulfilled, and was fulfilled by him. Now John's baprisin and Christ's were, as to the substance of them, the same ; John's baptism was allowed of and approved of by Christ, as appears from his submission to it; and the ordinance was confirmed by the order he gave to his apostles to administer it : one of John's disciples said to his master, Rabbi, be that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, bebold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to bim '; though, as is said afterwards, Jesus bimself baprized not, but his disciples'; that is, they baptized by his orders; and which were renewed after his resurrection from the dead, saying, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them, &c". and which orders were obeyed by his apostles, as many instances in che Aets of the Apostles Thew; and that it was water-baptism they administered, according to Christ's instructions and directions.
In matters of worship there ought to be a command for what is done; as this ordinance of baptism is a solemn act of worship, being performed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the boly Ghost. God is a jealous God, and especially with respect to the worship of him ; nor should any thing be introduced into it but what he has commanded ; and careful should we be hereof, left he should say unto us, who hath required this at your hands w? it is not enough that such and such things are not forbidden; for on this footing a thousand fooleries may be brought into the worship of God, which will be resented by him. When Nadab and Abibu offered strange fire to the Lord, which he commanded not, fire came down from heaven and destroyed them: we should have
a precept • John i. 6, 33. P Matt. xxi. 25, 26. 9 Luke vii. 30. · Matt, iji. 15. • Jobo iii. 26.
• John iv, 2. u Matt. xxviï. 19.
Isai. i. 12.
a precept for what we do, and that not from men, but from God; left we incur the charge of worshipping God in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men", and involve ourselves in the guilc of superstition, and willworship.
Wherefore, the baptism of infants must be wrong; since there is no command of God and Christ for it ; if there was any, it might be expected in the New Testament, and in that only; it is absurd to send us to the Old Testament for a command to observe a New Testament-ordinance; it is a gross absurdity to send us so far back as to the xviich chapter of Genesis for a warrant for the ordinance of baptism ; we might as well be sent to the first chapter of that book; for there is no more relating to that ordinance in the one than in the other. Was there a like precept for the baptism of infants under the New Testament, as there was for the circumcision of infants under the Old Testament, there could be no objection to it; but it is an absurdity of absurdities to affirm, chat baptism comes in the room of circumcision; since baptism was in force and use long before circumcision was abolished ; circumcision was not abolished until the death of Christ, when that, with other ceremonies, had an end in him ; but baptism was administered many years before to multitudes, by John, by the order of Christ, and by his apostles; now where is the good sense of laying, and with what propriety can it be said, that one thing succeeds another, as baptism circumcision, when the one, said to succeed, was in use and force long before the other ceased, it is pretended ic succeeded ?
If there is any precept for Infant-baptism, it must be in the New Testament; there only it can be expected, but there it cannot be found; not in Matthew xix. 14. Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is tbe kingdom of heaven ; which is no precept, but a permillion, or grant, that little children might come, or be brought unto him; but for what? not for baptism; but for that for which they were brought, and which is mentioned by the evangelist in the preceding verse, that be pould put bis bands on them,
3 Matt. xv. 9.
y That we are ever referred to this chapter, for a proof of Infant-baptism, is denied, and
pronounced a wilful misrepresentation, by the above mentioned writer, in his second letter in the news. paper. This man must have read very little in the controversy, to be ignorant of this. The very laft writer that wrote in the controversy, that I know of, calls the covenant made with Abraham in that chapter," the grand turning point, on which the issue of the controversy very much depends ; “ and that if Abrabam's covenant, which included his infant-children, and gave them a right to “ circumcision, was not the covenant of grace; then he freely confesses, that the main ground, on “ which they affert the right of infants 10 baptism, is taken away; and, consequently, the principal:
arguments in support of the doctrine, are overturned." Bostwick's Fair and Rational Vindi. cation of the Right of Infants to the Ordinance of Baptism, &c. p. 19.