Images de page

The mind of Peter began now to be opened, and to see things in a clearer light; when a new occurrence, that took place nearly at the same time, seems to have removed the film still more from his eyes: for, while he preached to Cornelius and the others present, he perceived that "the Holy Ghost fell upon all of them that heard his words, as on himself and the other apostles at the beginning." Then remembered Peter the words of the Lord, how that he said, "John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost:" that is, Peter, finding that Cornelius and his friends had received, by means of his own powerful preaching, the Holy Ghost, perceived then for the first time, to his great surprise, that he had been executing the great commission of Jesus Christ; or that he had taught a Gentile, and baptized him with the Holy Spirit. Here it was that he first made the discrimination between the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ.

From this time, there is reason to think that his eyes became fully open; for in a few years afterwards, when we have an opportunity of viewing his conduct again, we


find him an altered man, as to his knowledge of spiritual things. Being called upon, at the council at Jerusalem, to deliberate on the propriety of circumcision to Gentile converts, he maintains that God gives his Holy Spirit as well to the Gentiles as to the Jews. He maintains, again, that God purifies by Faith. And he delivers it as his opinion, that circumcision is to be looked upon as a yoke. And here it may be remarked, that circumcision and baptism uniformly went together, when proselytes of the covenant were made, or when any of the heathens were desirous of conforming to the whole of the Jewish law.

At a time, again, subsequent to this, or when he wrote his Epistles, which were to go to the strangers all over Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, he discovers himself to be the same full-grown man in spiritual things on the subject of baptism itself, in those remarkable words which have been quoted," whose antitype, baptism, doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ;" so that the last


opinion of Peter on the subject of water-baptism contradicted his practice when he was but in his noviciate in Christ's kingdom.

With respect to the apostle Paul, whose practice I am to consider next, it is said of him, as of St. Peter, that he baptized.

That Paul baptized is to be collected from his own writings. For it appears by his own account, that there had been divisions among the Corinthians. Of those who had been converted to Christianity, some called themselves after the name of Cephas, others after the name of Apollos, others after the name of Paul; thus dividing themselves nominally into sects, according to the name of him who had either baptized or converted them. St. Paul mentions these circumstances; by which it comes to light that he used water-baptism: and he regrets that the persons in question should have made such a bad use of this rite, as to call themselves after him who baptized them, instead of calling themselves after Christ, and dwelling on him alone. "I thank God," says he, "that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I baptized in my own name. And I baptized


also the house of Stephanas. Besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel

* ""

Now this confession of the apostle, which is usually brought against the Quakers, they consider to be entirely in their favour, and indeed decisive of the point in question. For they collect from hence, that St. Paul never considered baptism by water as any Gospel-ordinance, or as any rite indispensably necessary, when men were admitted as members into the Christian Church. For, if he had considered it in this light, he would never have said, that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach his Gospel. Neither would he have thanked God, on account of the mere abuse of it, that he had baptized so few; for doubtless there were many among the learned Greeks who abused his preaching, and who called it foolishness: but yet he no where says, that he was sorry on that account that he ever preached to them; for preaching was a Gospel-ordinance, enjoined him, by which many were

1 Cor. i. 14, 15, 16.


to be converted to the Christian faith. Again, if he had considered water-baptism as a necessary mark of initiation into Christianity, he would have uniformly adopted it, as men became proselytes to his doctrines. But, among the thousands whom in all probability he baptized with the Holy Ghost among the Corinthians, it does not appear that there were more than the members of the three families of Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas, whom he baptized with wa


But still it is contended, that Paul says of himself that he baptized. The Quakers agree to this; but they say that he must have done it in these instances, on motives very different from those of an indispensable Christian rite.

In endeavouring to account for these motives, the Quakers consider the apostle Paul, not as in the situation of Peter and others, who were a long time in acquiring their spiritual knowledge, during which they might be in doubt as to the propriety of many customs, but as coming, on the other hand, quickly and powerfully into the knowledge of Christ's kingdom. Hence, when he baptized,


« PrécédentContinuer »