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AD Fillmore Cineinnot:
TRACTS FOR THE PEOPLE-No. XXX.
BAPTISM–No. XIX. We do not think that we would presumetoo much upon the candor and good sense of all impartial inquirers after the proper action and subject of Christian baptism, who may have read with impartial consideration, our previous essays on these highly interesting topics, if we should say, that, in their judgment, these two important items of the divine will have been amply and satisfactorily developed by an appeal to the proper sources of evidence and authority on such questions. Still, as the minds of very many well disposed persons have been greatly sophisticated by a show of authority and certain special pleadings based on some comparatively obscure passages of scripture, or allusions to ancient customs, not well understood, I judge it expedient to select a few specimens of these by way of appendix to the direct evidence already furnished on those topics.
And, first, on the action of baptism much has been inferred from one occurrence of the word baptizo, rendered by the word wash, Mark vii. 3, 4.
Professor Stuart, of Andover, in his very elaborate essay to sustain the opinion of Calvin-viz. "It is of no consequence at all whether the person baptized is totally immersed, or whether he is merely sprinkled by an affusion of water. This should be a matter of choice to the churches in different regions, although the word baptize signifies to immerse, and the rite of immersion was practised by the ancient church.” p. 364. “To this opinion,” says he, “I do most heartily subscribe.” Of course, then, the strict and proper meaning of the word baptize is of no consequence whatever, as every one's choice is all-sufficient to please God! The Lawgiver of the universe enacts a positive law, and gives to every man his choice of three modes of observing it. Whichever of the three SERIES III.-- VOL. V.
best pleases A, B, or C, will perfectly please God!! This is certainly a very complaisant and generous condescension to human predilections and caprices. But with him the word wash justifies this: for as we may wash by sprinkling, pouring, dipping, it is wholly indifferent which of the three we use. Whichever pleases us pleases God!
In looking over the use of baptizo in the New Testament, finding that in eighty times occurring, it is twice translated wash; and baptismos, occurring sour times, though never applied to the ordinance, is three times translated washing, he assumes that this rendering, because of its permitting three ways of using water, is the very meaning which we should always affix to the word when indicating the institution of Christ!! Yet, strange to tell, by only looking at a good concordance, he might see that the word baptisma, appropriated to the ordinance by the Messiah and his Apostles, though occurring twenty-two times, is never translated by the term wash or washing. What a glorious ambiguity is here created! Out of the whole family of baptizo, though occurring one hundred and twenty times in the New Testament, he finds once wash and washed, and thrice washing
Now, then, the only ground of debate at present is, Does the term wash in these passages, or rather the verb wash, as found in the English Testament, Mark vii. 3, 4, indicate any thing short of immersion in tha“ particular case? And that I may save the labor of much writing, I will freely quote from Professor Ripley's Examination of Professor Stuart's Essay. On pages 39–47, the Professor says:
“The whole passage, as expressed in the common version, is the following: "For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders: and when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not.” Here are mentioned two instances of washing, (so called;) the first, a matter of constant occurrence; the second, an observance performed after returning from the market. The inquiry is a very natural one, Did these washings differ from one another in any respect?
To this inquiry, an affirmative answer can scarcely be avoided. For, in the first place, one was a washing which commonly occurred before a meal, without regard to the employment that and preceded its so that even if a person had remained at home, still before taking his meal, he would wash his hands. The other was a ceremony, performed after having been exposed to the various occasions of defilement which would be connected with his attendance at market. Such was the variety of persons and things with which he might have contact, that a more formal and thorough ablution would naturally be performed.