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setting forth his truth before men: one, by words or language; the other, by symbols or visible representations. The two symbols of the new dispensation represent the central, vital truths of the gospel. But the significance
, of a symbol, like that of a picture or portrait, depends on the distinctness and accuracy of the form. If the form, is changed, it no longer conveys the truth designed. Who would not be indignant if a man should venture to alter the solemn words of Christ, “Ye must be born again"? But if it would be impious to alter the divine words which teach the necessity of regeneration, is it not equally impious to alter the divine symbol by which this great truth is visibly set forth before men ? What finite mind can measure the injury done to the cause of vital religion and the souls of men by so altering this divine symbol as to destroy its power to set forth this momentous truth?
For more than three centuries the ripest scholarship has been engaged in biblical criticism, seeking to restore to the Hebrew and Greek text of God's word the very words in which the Holy Spirit spoke. With quenchless zeal and tireless industry, men like Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles have devoted their lives to the discovery and collation of ancient manuscripts, so as to ascertain with certainty the original words of Holy Writ. And we applaud their work: to find the very words in which God revealed eternal truth is an object worthy of heroic toil and sacrifice. But the ordinances, those great symbols in which God has also set forth his truth, and in which that truth was to be emphasized and made more impressive than was possible in words is the maintenance of the original form and use of these an unimportant thing? Shall we be careful of the letter of God's word, and be careless as to the form of God's symbols ?
The idea, therefore, that the form of the ordinance is non-essential is an utter misconception. For here the Holy Spirit is revealing truths by visible objects; and, as in all object-teaching, the whole value of the symbol lies in its form, its power to represent, to body forth, the truth symbolized. If this is destroyed, its whole purpose is lost. In insisting on the original God-given power of the ordinance we are not insisting on a non-essential point, but on the essence of the ordinance itself. We insist that man has no more right to alter a divine symbol than to alter the divine word; and in presuming to change the heaven-appointed symbol, he imperils the great truth that symbol was designed to represent.
The symbolism of the ordinances renders the divine order of them equally imperative. For baptism is the symbol of regeneration-it marks the entrance on a new spiritual life-while the Lord's Supper is the symbol of that faith in Christ's death by which this new life is sustained. The one symbolizes the new birth; the other, the bread of life by which the new-born are nourished. To administer the Lord's Supper to the unbaptized is to invert the natural order and destroy the divine symbolism. The apostles sacredly observed the divine order; it is never inverted in the Bible. Who, then, may presume to change the God-instituted order of these ordinances, and, by changing their relation, destroy their power to represent the truths he intended ?
Baptism is the rite of admission to the church, the public act of separating from the world and uniting with God's people. It is the door of the house of God. The Supper, on the other hand, is an ordinance within the church, and is the highest expression of churchfellowship. The divine order distinctly symbolized the vital truth that regeneration is precedent to membership in the church. An inversion of the order of the ordinances, therefore, destroys their power to symbolize as God intended the distinction between the church and the world, and such an inversion necessarily tends to the actual obliteration of that distinction.
THE FORM OF BAPTISM.
Bapto, the radical form, is never used to designate the rite of baptism, but is, as Professor Stuart rightfully says, “purposely, as well as habitually, excluded.” Its meaning, as all parties concede, is: 1. To immerse, to plunge ; 2. To dye, to stain. The latter is derived from the former, as dyeing was usually effected by dipping. The term, therefore, needs no examination here, especially as the concession is also universal that baptizo, while retaining the primary signification of bapto, to immerse, is not in all respects a synonym of it.
Baptizo, with its derivatives, is exclusively employed when the rite of baptism is designated; this term, therefore, demands our exclusive attention.
I. THE CLASSIC USAGE. The classics never employ baptizo, or its derivatives, except when an immersion or a complete covering of the person or thing spoken of is indicated as the radical idea. Dr. Conant, after an elaborate examination of the word through the whole compass of Greek literature, says: “The grand idea expressed is to put into or under water (or other penetrable substance), so as entirely to immerse or submerge; this act is always expressed in
the literal application of the word, and is the basis of its metaphorical uses. The idea of emersion is not included. Whether the object immersed sinks to the bottom, or floats in the liquid, or is immediately taken out, is determined, not by the word itself, but by the nature of the case, and by the design of the act in each particular case."* Dr. Anthon, the eminent classical editor, says: "The primary meaning of the word is to dip or immerse; and its secondary meanings, if it ever had any, all refer in some way or other to the same leading idea. Sprinkling, etc., are entirely out of the question.” Professor Moses Stuart, of Andover, who carefully examined the subject, seeking a different conclusion, is constrained to admit that the only established classic senses of the word are: 1. To dip, plunge, immerse anything in liquid: 2. To overwhelm, literally or figuratively.† Liddell and Scott, the acknowledged lexical authority in classic Greek, define baptizo" To dip in or under water;" and they explain its figurative uses, such as to soak, to drown, to sink, as derived from this. The highest scholarship of this age, and of all preceding ages, sanctions the decision of these eminent linguists. The figurative usage of the word in the classics is rich and varied; but no example has been adduced in which the force of the figure does not depend, either directly or remotely, on this radical signification.
II. THE SEPTUAGINT USAGE. Baptizo is used in the Septuagint four times : 2 Kings v. 14: Naaman “ dipped himself seven times in the Jordan;" Isa. xxi. 4, which may be rendered literally “ Iniquity immerses," "or overwhelms,” me; Judith xii. 7;
Sirach xxxiv. 25. The last two of these only require special examination; the others, without reasonable question, indicate immersion.
Judith xii. 6-9: And Judith “sent to Holofernes, saying, Let my lord now command to suffer his handmaid to go forth to prayer. And Holofernes enjoined his bodyguards not to hinder her. And she remained in the camp three days, and went forth nightly to the ravine of Bethulia and dipped herself in the camp at the fountain of water." It is objected in this case that an immersion was here impossible, and, if possible, it would have been indecorous. We reply: 1. The fountains of Bethulia must have been abundant, since, according to chapters vi. and vii., the entire supply of water for the city was derived from them. 2. The design of the ablution was the removal of ceremonial defilement contracted by contact in a heathen camp; for this the law required an entire ablution of the body. 3. The time was midnight; the lady was attended by her maid (chap. xiii. 3); the soldiers were specially charged not to molest her: all the circumstances forbid the idea of spectators. 4. If she required for the purification only sprinkling or pouring, there was no reason for leaving her tent at all to go to the fountain, for in this case a pitcher of water would have sufficed.
Sirach xxxiv. 25: “He who is immersed from a dead body and toucheth it again, what did he profit by his bathing?" It has been objected that baptizo here signifies sprinkling, since the water of separation” was sprinkled on him whọ touched a dead body. But observe: The law (Num. xix. 2-9) required several acts of him who touched a dead body—to be sprinkled with the water of separation; to wash his clothes; “to bathe himself in water.” Plainly, the last act in the process is here, by synecdoche, made to designate the whole, as, in Heb. ix. 13, the first act of the