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shows-1. That Noah was saved by water—that is, he was delivered from destruction in the corruption of the old world, and borne into the new and renovated world by means of water. 2. That this salvation of Noah by means of water was a type of our salvation by waterthat is, by baptism, by which in symbol we pass from the corrupt world of sin into the new world of holiness. 3. That we are saved by baptism, not because salvation is secured by the outward act (by which only the filth of the body could be removed), but by a conscience made right toward God through the resurrection of Christ; of which resurrection baptism is a symbol. Plainly, the passage thus analyzed was not designed to teach the form, but the relation, of baptism; but, so far as the form is indicated, immersion only meets its conditions. For the waters of baptism are compared to the Flood. Baptism, as an outward act, is "the putting away of the filth of the flesh," and as the symbol of an inward act it represents a conscience made right toward God by the resurrection of Christ.
Thus, in all instances of the figurative use of baptizo, the radical idea or basis of the figures is an immersion.
Seventh : The design of baptism, as an ordinance, indicates, with equal clearness, immersion as the only form of administration. As a symbol, it sets forth :
1. Regeneration, or the new birth. Jesus said: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John iii. 5), where "water" evidently refers to baptism as the outward symbol in which the inward work of the Spirit finds expression. The outward act is first mentioned, because, though not preceding in order of time, it is, as outward, the more obvious; as is also done Rom. x. 9 and Tit. iii. 5. Now, a change so radical and comprehensive as regeneration,
the entrance of the soul on a new spiritual existence, could not be symbolized in sprinkling or pouring; but in a solemn immersion it finds fitting expression.
2. A death to sin and a resurrection to a new life in Christ. Paul addresses believers in Christ as “buried with him by baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. ii. 12). Baptism is here a symbolic burial and resurrection; and the immersion of the body in water and emersion from it clearly and strikingly symbolize the inward, spiritual facts. The force and beauty of this symbolism has the recognition of all the ages. But how can sprinkling or pouring set forth a burial and resurrection ? The symbol and the facts symbolized are incongruous.
3. The complete surrender of the whole being, body, soul, and spirit, to the triune God, in full and eternal allegiance to Christ. Believers are baptized “into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” to indicate the entire yielding of themselves to God. They “put on Christ,” are “baptized into Christ,” to show their entrance into all the new relations and privileges—righteousness, sonship, heirship-arising from their union with Christ and their full identification with Christ; so that whatever Christ is and has, they are and have by virtue of being one with him. Here, also, the utter inadequacy of sprinkling and pouring as symbols of the facts intended is evident; while the immersion of a believer to signify his voluntary death to all the conditions and relations of the old sinful life, and the emersion to signify entrance on all the conditions and relations of the new life in Christ, constitute a symbolism appropriate and impressive.
It seems evident, therefore, that the design of baptism as a symbol imperatively requires an immersion and an
emersion as the only adequate expression of the things intended to be symbolized.
IV. PATRISTIC USAGE. The form of the baptismal act during the Patristic period is clearly defined by the following things :
1. The words and circumstances found in connection with the rite. Justin Martyr calls baptism "the water-bath for the forgiveness of sins," and "the bath of conversion and the knowledge of God." Tertullian says of baptism: “With so great simplicity, without display, without any novelty of preparation, finally without expense, a man let down into the water, and while a few words are spoken is immersed.” Chrysostom says: “ As he who is baptized in water rises again with great ease, not at all hindered by the nature of the waters, so also he (Christ), having gone down into death, with greater ease comes up; for this cause he calls it a baptism.” In these and many other patristic passages the attending words and circumstances clearly necessitate an immersion and emersion.
2. Those passages in which the force of a comparison or of an argument depends on an immersion. Hermas, A. D. 150, says: “This seal is water, into which men descend appointed to death, but from which they ascend appointed to life.” Tertullian, A. D. 200: “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death ? ... For by an image we die in baptism, but we truly rise in the flesh, as did also Christ." Basil, A. D. 320: "Imitating the burial of Christ by the baptism; for the bodies of those immersed are, as it were, buried in the water." “The water presents the image of death, receiving the body as in a tomb." Chrysostom, A. D. 320: “Divine symbols are therein celebrated—burial and deadness, and resurrection and life; and all these
take place together; for when we sink our heads down in the water, as in a kind of tomb, the old man is buried, and, sinking down beneath; is all concealed at once; then, when we emerge. the new man comes up.” Ambrose, A. D. 400: “We discoursed respecting the font, whose appearance is, as it were, a form of sepulchre into which, believing in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are received and submerged and rise—that is, are restored to life.” *
In these passages, which are cited only as examples of a multitude that occur, the whole force of the argument or of the figure depends on the form of the rite as symbolizing a burial and rising; apart from this, the language is meaningless.
3. The general opposition to clinic baptism, given to such as were near death, which was performed at first by perfusion (perichusis), or pouring water on and around the sick person, and at a later period probably by sprinkling. The first recorded instance of this is the case of · Novatian, at Rome, who, being, as was supposed, in mortal sickness, was perfused (perichutheis), but recovered, and whose ordination as a presbyter was opposed on account of this baptism. Eusebius, quoting the language of Cornelius in regard to the ordination, says: "All the clergy and many of the laity resisted it, since it was not lawful that one who had been baptized on his sick-bed by aspersion, as he was, should be promoted to the clergy.” This widespread disrepute of clinic baptism, grounded, in part at least, on the imperfection in its form, is one of the plainest facts of patristic history, and can only be accounted for by the common practice of immersion.
4. The testimony of all reputable church historians. Here
* Most of the patristic citations here and elsewhere are from Conant's Meaning of Baptizein, where the original is also given. See, also, The Act of Baptism, by Burrage, Am. Bap. Pub. Society.
all authorities concur. Neander, writing of the first three centuries, says: "In respect to the form of baptism, it was, in conformity with the original institution and the original import, performed by immersion, as a sign of entire baptism into the Holy Spirit, being entirely penetrated by the same."* Schaff, on the same period, says: “The usual form of the act was immersion, as is plain from the original meaning of the Greek baptizein, baptismos; from the analogy of John's baptism in the Jordan; from the apostle's comparison of the rite with the miraculous passage of the Red Sea, with the escape of the ark from the flood, with a cleansing and refreshing bath, and with burial and resurrection; finally, from the custom of the early church, which prevails in the East to this day.”+ Coleman declares: “In the primitive church, immediately subsequent to the age of the apostles, immersion, or dipping, was undeniably the common mode of baptism. The utmost that can be said of sprinkling in that early period is that it was, in case of necessity, permitted as an exception to a general rule. This fact is so well established that it were needless to adduce authorities in proof of it.”I Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, in its elaborate article on baptism, says: "Passages already quoted in this article will have sufficed to show that the ordinary mode of baptism in primitive times, at least in the case of adults, was that the catechumen should descend into a font of water (whether natural or artificial), and while standing therein dip the head thrice under the water.” Such also in substance is the testimony of Mosheim and Geisler, of Bingham and Hagenbach, of Guerike and Hase. Indeed, this part
* Church History, vol. i., p 310, Torrey's ed.