Images de page

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 Scephanas, whom he baptized with water. 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 bap



tized, they impute no ignorance to him. They believe he rejected water-baptism as a Gospel-ordinance, but that he considered it in itself as a harmless ceremony; and that, viewing it in this light, he used it out of condescension to those Ellenistic Jews, whose prejudices, on account of the washings of Moses, and their customs relative to proselytes, were so strong, that they could not separate purification by water from conversion to a new religion. For St. Paul confesses himself, that “ to the weak he became as weak, that he might gain the weak, and was made all things to all men, that he might by all means save some.” Of this his condescension many instances are recorded in the New Testament,--though it may necessary to advert to one. council of Jerusalem, where Paul, Barnabas, Peter, James, and others were present, it was determined that circumcision not necessary to the Gentiles*. St. Paul himself, with some others, carried the very letter of the council, containing their determination


this subject, to Antioch, to

be only At the great


* Acts xv.


the brethren there. This letter was addressed to the brethren of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. . After having left Antioch, he went to Derbe and Lystra; where, notwithstanding the determination of himself and the rest of the council, that circumcision was not a Christian rite, he * circumcised Timotheus, in condescension to the weakness of the Jews who were in those quarters.

In addition to these observations on the practice and opinions of the Apostles, in the course of which the Quakers presume

it will be found that the baptism of John is not an ordinance of the Gospel, they presume the same conclusion will be adopted, if they take into consideration the practice and opinions of Jesus Christ.

That Jesus Christ never forbad water-baptism, the Quakers readily allow. But they conceive his silence on this subject to have arisen from his knowledge of the internal state of the Jews: he knew how carnal their minds were, how much they were attached to outward ordinances, and how difficult it

* Acts xvi. 3.


6. It is

was all at once to bring them into his spiritual kingdom. Hence he permitted many things for a time, on account of the weakness of their spiritual vision.

That Jesus submitted also to baptism himself, they allow. But he submitted to it, not because he intended to make it an ordinance under the new dispensation, but, to use his own words,“ that he might fulfil all righteousness.” Hence also he was circumcised; hence he celebrated the Passover; and hence he was enabled to use these remarkable words upon the cross, fulfilled.”

But though Jesus Christ never forbad water-baptism, and though he was baptized with water by John, yet he never baptized any one himself.

A rumour had gone abroad among the Pharisees, that Jesus had baptized more disciples than John the Baptist. But John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, who had leaned on his , bosom, and who knew more of his sentiments and practice than any

careful in correcting this hear-say report, as if unworthy of the spiritual mind of his master,

is very

other person,


and states positively " that Jesus baptized not The Quakers lay a great stress upon

this circumstance: for they say, that if Jesus never baptized with water himself, it is a proof that he never intended to erect water-baptism into a Gospel-rite. It is difficult to conceive, they say, that he should have established a sacrament, and that he should never have administered it. Would he not, on the other hand, if his own baptism had been that of water, have begun his ministry by baptizing his own disciples, notwithstanding they had previously been baptized by John? But he not only never baptized himself, but it is no where recorded that he ordered his disciples to baptize with water t. He once ordered a leper to go to the priest and to offer the gift for his cleansing; at another time I, he ordered a blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam ; but he never ordered any one to go and be baptized with water. On the other hand, it is said by the Quakers, that he clearly inti


* John iv.o.

+ Matt, viii. 4.

John is. 7.


« PrécédentContinuer »