The following excerpt is from Bishop A.R. Fausset’s “ Cyclopedia”:
Baptisms in the sense of purifications were common in the Old Testament The “divers washings” (Greek “baptisms”) are mentioned in Heb 9:10, and “the doctrine of baptisms,” Heb 6:2. The plural” baptisms” is used in the wider sense, all purifications by water; as of the priest’s hands and feet in the laver outside before entering the tabernacle, in the daily service (Exo 30:17-21); of the high priest’s flesh in the holy place on the day of atonement (Lev 16:23); of persons ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 14; 15; Lev 16:26-28; Lev 17:15; Lev 22:4-6), a leper, one with an issue, one who ate that which died of itself, one who touched a dead body, the one who let go the scape-goat or buried the ashes of the red heifer, of the people before a religious festival (Exo 19:10; Joh 11:55). The high priest’s consecration was threefold: by baptism, unction, and sacrifice (Exo 29:4; Exo 40:12-15; Leviticus 8).
“Baptism” in the singular is used specially of the Christian rite. Jewish believers passed naturally from the Old Testament baptismal purifications, through John’s transitional baptism, to Christian baptism and the subsequent laying on of hands, accompanied with the Holy Spirit (Act 8:12; Act 8:14-17). The spiritual sense of ceremonial baptisms was recognized in the Old Testament (Psa 26:6; Psa 51:2; Psa 51:7; Psa 73:13; Isa 1:16; Isa 4:4; Jer 4:14; Zec 13:1.)
Ceremonial washings had been multiplied by tradition, before the Lord’s coming (Mar 7:3-4). Even the Gentile Pilate washed his hands to symbolize his innocence of Jesus’ blood. The Targum of Jonathan on Exo 12:44 is the earliest authority for the common notion that the Jews baptized male (besides circumcising them) and female proselytes. No notice of such a custom occurs in Philo, Josephus, or the Targum of Onkelos; the commonness of such ceremonial purifications makes it a probable one. In the 4th century A.D. it certainly prevailed. In the case of Jewish proselytes from Ishmaelites and Egyptians, who were already circumcised, some such rite would be needed. Probably it was at first merely the customary purificatory washing before the sacrifice offered in admitting the proselyte, whence Philo and Josephus would omit mentioning it as being usual at all sacrifices. When sacrifices ceased, after the destruction of the temple, the washing would be retained as a baptism of initiation into Judaism.
John’s “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luk 3:3) was the pledge his followers took of their determination to separate themselves from the prevalent pollutions, as the needful preparation for receiving the coming Messiah, who remits the sins of His believing people. The “remission” was not present but prospective, looked for through Messiah, not through John (Act 10:43). John’s baptism was accompanied with confession (Mat 3:6), and was an act of obedience to the call to renounce all sin and believe in the coming Redeemer from sin. The universal expectation of the Messianic king “in the whole East” (says Suetonius, a pagan writer, Vespas. 4) made all ready to flock to the forerunner. The Jews hoped to be delivered from Rome’s supremacy (Mal 3:1; Mal 4:5-6).
The last of the prophets had foretold the coming of Elijah before the great day of the coming of the Lord, the Sun of righteousness, the messenger of the covenant. Elijah was to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,” namely, the disobedient children to the faith and fellowship of their pious forefathers, Abraham, Jacob, Levi, Elijah (Luk 1:17), lest Messiah at His coming” should smite the earth with a curse.” The scribes accordingly declared, “Elias must first come.” Jesus declared that John was this foretold Elias (Mat 11:13-14; Mat 17:10-12). John’s preaching was “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand,” the latter phrase referring to Dan 2:44; Dan 7:14. The Jews, as a nation, brought the “curse” on their land (“earth”) by not repenting, and by rejecting Messiah at His first advent.
Their sin delayed the kingdom’s manifestation, just as their unbelief in the wilderness caused the 40 years of delay in entering into their inheritance in Canaan. He brought blessing to those who accepted Him (John was the instrument in turning many to Him: Joh 1:11; Joh 1:36), and shall bring blessing to the nation at His second advent, when they shall turn to the Lord (Rom 11:5; Rom 11:26; Luk 13:35). John’s baptism began and ended with himself; he alone, too, administered it. But Christ’s baptism was performed by His disciples, not Himself, that He might mark His exclusive dignity as baptizer, with the Holy Spirit (Joh 4:2), and that the validity of baptism might not depend on the worth of the minister but on God’s appointment. It continues to the end of this dispensation (Mat 28:19-20). John’s was with water only; Christ’s with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luk 3:16).
The Holy Spirit in full measure was not given until Jesus’ glorification at His ascension (Joh 7:39). Apollos’ and John’s disciples at Ephesus knew not of the Holy Spirit’s baptism, which is the distinctive feature of Christ’s (Act 18:25; Act 19:2-6; compare Act 1:5; Act 11:16). The outward sign of an inward sorrow for sin was in John’s baptism; but there was not the inward spiritual grace conferred as in Christian baptism. Those of the twelve who had. been baptized by John probably received no further baptism until the extraordinary one by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Christian baptism implies grafting into fellowship or union with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; for the Greek expresses this (Mat 28:19): “Go ye, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name (the revealed person) of the Father,” etc.
John, being among the Old Testament prophets, not in the kingdom of God or New Testament church, preached the law and baptism into legal repentance and reformation of morals, and Messiah’s immediate advent. Christian baptism is the seal of gospel doctrine and spiritual renewal. Jesus’ own baptism by John was, Christ saith, in order “to fulfill all righteousness” (Mat 3:15). Others in being baptized confessed their sins; Jesus professed” all righteousness.” He submitted, as part of the righteousness He undertook to fulfill, to be consecrated to His ministry in His 30th year, the age at which the Levites began their ministry (Luk 3:23), by the last of the Old Testament prophets and the harbinger of the New Testament, His own forerunner. At the same time that the outward minister set Him apart, the Holy Spirit from heaven gave Him inwardly the unction of His fullness without measure; and the Father declared His acceptance of Him as the sinners’ savior, the anointed prophet, priest, and king (Joh 3:34; Joh 1:16): “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Since God, against whom we have sinned, is satisfied with Him (and God cannot but be so, seeing it was the Father’s love and justice which provided Him), so also may we. As the high priest’s consecration was threefold, by baptism, unction, and sacrifice, so Jesus’ (compare Act 10:38) baptism began His consecration, the Holy Spirit’s unction was the complement of His baptism, and His sacrifice fully perfected His consecration as our priest forevermore (Heb 7:28, margin). This is the sense of 1Jo 5:6; “this is He that came by water and blood;” by water at His consecration by baptism to His mediatorial ministry for us, when He received the Father’s testimony to His Messiahship and His divine Sonship (Joh 1:33-34). Corresponding to His is our baptism of water and the Spirit, the seal of initiatory incorporation with Him (Joh 3:5).
Jesus came “by blood” also, namely, “the blood of His cross” (Heb 9:12). His coming “by water and blood,” as vividly set forth in the issue of water and blood from His pierced side, was seen and solemnly attested by John (Joh 19:34-35). John Baptist came only baptizing with water; therefore was not Messiah. Jesus came, undergoing Himself the double baptism of water and blood, then baptizing us with the Spirit cleansing, of which water is the sacramental seal, and with His atoning blood once for all shed and of perpetual efficacy; therefore He Messiah. It is His shed blood which gives water baptism its spiritual significancy. We are baptized into His death, the point of union between us and Him, and, through Him, between us and God, not into His birth or incarnation (Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12).
“The Spirit, the water, and the blood agree in one” (Greek: “tend to the one result,” “testify to the one truth”), i.e., agree in testifying to Jesus’ Sonship and Messiaship by the sacramental grace in water baptism received by the penitent believer through His droning blood and His inwardly witnessing Spirit (1Jo 5:5-6; 1Jo 5:8; 1Jo 5:10), answering to the testimony to Jesus’ Sonship and Messiahship by His baptism, by His crucifixion, and by the Spirit’s manifestation in Him. By Christ’s baptism, by His blood shedding, and by the Spirit’s past and present working in Him, the Spirit, the water, and the blood are the threefold witness to His divine Messiahship. On and after the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostles preached, Repent (including faith in Christ), and be baptized, as the sacramental seal to yourselves inwardly of your faith, and the open confession outwardly of it before the world. Compare Rom 10:9-10; Act 2:38; Act 8:12-36; Act 10:47; Act 16:15; Act 16:33.
As circumcision was the painful entrance into the yoke of bondage, the law of Sinai, so baptism is the easy entrance into the light yoke of Christ, the law of liberty and love. Circumcision was the badge of Jewish exclusiveness in one aspect; baptism is the badge of God’s world-wide mercy in Christ. As He was “the desire of all nations,” consciously or unconsciously, so all nations are invited to Him. Any spiritualizing that denies outward baptism with water, in the face of Christ’s command and the apostles’ practice, must logically lead to rationalistic evasions of Scripture in general. Preaching, no doubt, takes the precedency of baptism with the apostles, whose office was evangelistic rather than pastoral (1Co 1:14; 1Co 1:17). The teaching and acceptance of the truth stands first; the sealing of belief in it by baptism comes next not vice versa.
“Go ye, teach (or make disciples), baptizing,” etc. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not (whether he be baptized or not) shall be damned.” There might be salvation without baptism, as the penitent thief on the cross was saved; but not salvation without believing, to those capable of it. As circumcision bound the circumcised to obedience to the law, and also admitted him to the spiritual privileges of Judaism, so baptism binds the baptized to Christ’s service, and gives him a share in all the privileges of the Christian covenant. But in stating these privileges Scripture presumes that the baptized person has come in penitence and faith. Thus 1Pe 3:21, literally “which water, being antitype (to the water of the flood) is now saving (puts in a state of salvation) us also (as well as Noah), to wit, baptism.”
It saves us also, not of itself (any more than the water saved Noah of itself; the water saved him only by sustaining the ark, built in faith), but the spiritual thing conjoined with it, repentance and faith, of which it is the seal: as Peter proceeds to explain, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God (the instrument whereby it so saves, being) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (Col 2:12; Eph 1:19-20); not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but of the soul. Water baptism can put away that filth, but the Spirit’s baptism alone can put away this (Eph 2:11). The ark (Christ) and His Spirit-filled true church saves, by living union with Him and it; not the water which only flowed round the ark and buoyed it up, and which so far from saving was the very instrument of destroying the ungodly.
The “good conscience’s” ability to give a satisfactory “answer” to the interrogation concerning faith and repentance ensures the really saving baptism of the Spirit into living fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The same union of the sign and the grace signified, repentance and faith being presupposed, occurs (Joh 3:5; Act 22:16): “Be baptized, washing away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord” (Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5; compare 1Co 10:1-2). The passage through the Red Sea delivered Israel completely from Egyptian bondage, and thenceforward they were, under God’s protecting cloud, on their way to the promised land. hence it is written, “they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (the sea, according to some of the fathers, representing the water, the cloud the Spirit). In Col 2:11-12, baptism is represented as our Christian “circumcision made without hands,” implying that not the minister, but God Himself, confers it; spiritual circumcision (“putting off the body of the sins of the flesh”) is realized in union with Christ, whose “circumcision” implies His having undertaken for us to keep the whole law (Luk 2:21).
Baptism, coincident with this spiritual circumcision, is the burial of the old carnal life, to which immersion corresponds. “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him by faith IN the operation of God who hath raised Him from the dead” (Col 2:12; Eph 1:19-20). Here, and in Rom 6:3-4-5-6, baptism is viewed as identifying us with Christ, by our union to His once crucified and now risen body, and as entailing in us also a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness, and as involving as the final issue our bodily sharing in the likeness of His resurrection, at the coming first resurrection, that of the saints. Figuratively, death is called a “baptism” (Mat 20:22; Mar 10:38; Luk 12:50). The Greek word does not necessarily mean immersion of the whole body: compare Mar 7:3-4; Luk 11:38; Heb 9:10).
In some cases the palpable descent of the Spirit was before, in others after, the baptism, and. in connection with the laying on of hands (Act 2:38; Act 10:47; Act 19:5-6); proving that the water sign and the Spirit are not inseparably connected. At the same time, there being but one preposition to govern both nouns, “born of water and the Spirit” implies the designed close connection of the two in the case of penitent believers (Joh 3:5). In Eph 5:26 “Christ gave Himself for the church, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the laver (Greek) of water by the word.” The bride, the church, must pass through her purifying bath before being presented to the Bridegroom, Christ. The gospel word of faith, confessed in baptism, carries with it the real, cleansing, regenerating power (Joh 15:3; Joh 17:17; 1Pe 1:23; 1Pe 3:21).
Baptism being regarded according to its high ideal, Scripture asserts of its efficacy all that is involved in a believing appropriation of the divine truths it symbolizes. In Tit 3:5, “He saved us by the laver (Greek) of regeneration, and (by) the (subsequent, gradually progressive) renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Paul in charity assumes that Christian professors are really penitent believers (though some were not so: 1Co 6:11), in which case baptism with water is the visible laver of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. “Faith then is confirmed, and grace increased, by virtue of prayer to God” (Church of England, Article 27). Infants are charitably presumed to have received a grace in connection with their Christian descent, in answer to the believing prayers of their parents or guardians presenting them for baptism (1Co 7:14), which grace is visibly sealed and increased by baptism. They are presumed to be regenerated, until years of developed consciousness prove whether they have been actually so or not.
The tests whether it has or has not taken place in the baptized are 1Jo 3:9; 1Jo 3:14; 1Jo 5:1; 1Jo 5:4. The infants of pagan parents are not admissible to baptism, because faith is not in the parents. The faith of the beads consecrated the households (1Co 7:14), as in the case of Lydia and the jailer of Philippi, so that even the young were fit recipients of baptism. Christ’s power and willingness to bless infants is proved by Mat 19:13-15. So that infant unconsciousness is no valid objection to infant baptism. Since the believer’s children are “holy” in the Lord’s view, why refuse them the seal of consecration? (1Co 7:14; Act 16:1; Act 16:15; Act 16:33.) Infant baptism tacitly superseded infant circumcision, just as the Lord’s day superseded the Jewish sabbath, without our having express command for the transference.
A child may be heir of an estate, though incapable of using or comprehending its advantage; he is not hereafter to acquire the title to it; he will hereafter understand his claim, take his wealth, and be responsible for the use. So the baptized infant. The words which follow Jesus’ command, “baptizing them,” etc., express the necessary complement of baptism for it to be availing, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” “Illumination,” in subsequent writers used for “baptism,” is found connected with it in Heb 6:4; Heb 10:32. The “baptizing with fire” (Mat 3:11), symbolized by the “tongues of fire” at Pentecost (Act 2:3), expresses the purifying of the soul by the Spirit, as metal is by fire. In Gal 3:27, “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ (compare Rom 6:3; Mat 28:19, Greek: ‘into the name’) have put on Christ;” ye did, in that act of being baptized into Christ, clothe yourselves in Christ.
Christ is to you the man’s robe (the toga virilis assumed by every Roman on reaching manhood). Christ being the Son of God by generation, and ye being one with film, ye also become sons by adoption. Baptism, when it answers to its ideal, is a mean of spiritual transference from legal condemnation to living union with Christ, and sonship to God through Him (Rom 13:14). Christ alone, by baptizing with the Spirit, can make the inward grace correspond to the outward sign. As He promises the blessing in the faithful use of the means, the church rightly presumes in charity that it is so, nothing appearing to the contrary (compare on the other hand Act 8:13; Act 8:18-24). In 1Co 12:13, “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, … and were all made to drink into one Spirit” (all the oldest manuscripts omit “into”), the two sacraments are alluded to. Where baptism answers to its ideal, by the Spirit the many members are baptized into the one body (Eph 4:4-5), and are all made to drink the one Spirit (symbolized by the drinking of the wine in the Lord’s Supper).
Jesus gives the Spirit to him only that is athirst (Joh 7:37). God (1Jo 3:9; 1Jo 5:1; 1Jo 5:4; 1Jo 5:18) gives us crucial tests of regeneration: whosoever lacks these, though, baptized, is not, in the Scripture view, “regenerate” or “born again.” “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (habitually); for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin (be sinning), because he is born of God”; i.e., his higher nature doth not sin, his normal direction is against sin; the law of God after the inward man is the ruling principle of his true self (Rom 6:14; Rom 7:22), though the old nature, not yet fully deadened, rebels: “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”; “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world”; “whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
The Nicene Creed has no authority but so far as it can be proved from Scripture; the clause, “one baptism for the remission of sins” was the decision arrived at by its members as to the question, Were those baptized by heretics, or those who having been baptized had lapsed into heresy, to be rebaptized? Basil on the contrary thought they ought to be rebaptized. A questioning at the time of baptism as to the candidate’s repentance and faith seems implied as customary in 1Pe 3:21. A profession of faith in a “form of sound words” is spoken of in 2Ti 1:13. Timothy “professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1Ti 6:12). Christians derived “sponsors” from the Jewish usage in baptizing proselytes; mention of them occurs first in Tertullian in the 3rd century.
The laying on of hands after baptism is spoken of as among the first principles of the Christian teaching in Heb 6:1-2. Though the miraculous gifts imparted thereby at first have long ceased, the permanent gifts and graces of the spirit are in all ages needed. The sevenfold gift is described Isa 11:2-3. Our dispensation is that of the Holy Spirit, who is Christ’s second Self, His only Vicar in His bodily absence (Joh 14:16-18). Besides the first sealing by the Spirit in baptism, a further confirmation, unction, or sealing by the Spirit is needed to establish us firmly in the faith, and to be an earnest, or installment, of future blessedness (Act 8:12-14; 2Co 1:21-22; Eph 1:13; Eph 4:30; 1Jo 2:20).
The laying on of hands; as a sign of spiritual blessing or strengthening, occurs in Jacob’s blessing on Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48:14); Joshua’s ordination in Moses’ room (Num 27:18; Deu 34:9); in Christ’s blessing of children (Mat 19:13) and healing the blind man (Mar 8:23); in the apostles’ healing of the sick (Mar 16:18); in Saul’s recovery of sight, and Publius’ father’s healing of fever (Act 9:17; Act 28:8). The laying on of hands, originally following close on baptism as a corollary to it (Act 19:5-6), became subsequently, and rightly in the case of infants, separated by a long time from it. The Latins made it then a sacrament, though wanting both the material element or sign and the institution of Christ.
Baptism for the dead. 1Co 15:29; “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?” What profit would they get who are baptized to take the place of the dead? (2Ti 2:2.) Of what use are fresh witnesses for Christianity, baptized to minister instead of those dead? “Why are they then baptized for” (literally, in behalf of) “the dead? Why then (too) stand we in jeopardy every hour?” “Why are they baptized, filling up the place of the martyred dead, at the risk of sharing the same fate?”
Possibly some symbolical rite of baptism or dedication of themselves to follow the martyred dead even to death, grounded on Mat 20:22-23, is alluded to. Or, without such rite, “baptized” may be figuratively used, as in 1Co 10:2 (where “baptized in the cloud,” which became FIRE by night, typifies the baptism with water and the Holy Spirit). As the ranks of the faithful are thinned by death (natural or violent), others step forward to be baptized to take their place. This is in behalf of the dead saints, seeing that the consummated glory will not be until the full number of saints shall have been completed.
(From McClintock and Strong’s “Cyclopedia”)
a rite of purification or initiation, in which water is used; one of the sacraments (q.v.) of the Christian Church. The word baptism is simply an Anglicized form of the Greek βαπτισμός, a verbal noun from βαπτίζω (likewise Anglicized “baptize”), and this, again, is a derivative from βάπτω, the predominant signification of which latter is to whelm or “dye,” Lat. tingo. Not being a verb implying motion, βαπτίζω is properly followed in Greek by the preposition ἐν, denoting the means or method (with the “instrumental dative”), which has unfortunately, in the Auth. Engl. Vers., often been rendered by the ambiguous particle “in,” whereas it really (in this connection) signifies only with or by, or at most merely designates the locality where the act is performed. The derivative verb and noun are sometimes used with reference to ordinary lustration, and occasionally with respect to merely secular acts; also in a figurative sense. In certain cases it is followed by the preposition εἰς, with the meaning “to,” “for,” or “unto,” as pointing out the design of the act, especially in phrases (comp. πιστεύειν εἰς) expressive of the covenant or relation of which this rite was the seal. (In Mar 1:9, the εἰς depends upon ῏ηλθεν preceding; and in Mar 14:20, there is a constructio praegnans by which some other verb of motion is to be supplied before the preposition.) On these and other applications of the Greek word, see Robinson’s Lex. of the N.T. s.v.; where, however (as in some other Lexicons), the statement that the primary force of the verb is “to dip, immerse,” etc., is not sustained by its actual usage and grammatical construction. This would always require ἐν, “into,” after it; which occurs in 15 examples only out of the exhaustive list (175) adduced by Dr. Conant (Meaning and Use of Baptizein, N. Y. 1860); and a closer and more critical examination will show that it is only the context and association of the word that in any case put this signification upon it, and it is therefore a mere gloss or inference to assign this as the proper sense of the term. The significations “p plunge,” “‘submerge,” etc., are here strictly derived, as cognates, from the more general and primitive one of that complete envelopment with a liquid which a thorough wetting, saturation, or dyeing usually implies. In like manner, Dr. E. Beecher (in a series of articles first published in the Am. Bib. Repos. during 1840 and 1841) has mistaken the allied or inferential signification of purification for the primitive sense of the word, whereas it is only the result expected or attendant in the act of washing. See further below.
As preliminary to the theological discussion of this subject, it will be proper here to discuss, more fully than can be conveniently done elsewhere, the classical and Biblical uses of the word, and some subordinate topics, reserving the conitroverted points for later consideration.
I. Philological Usage of the Word βαπτίζειν. —
1. By Classical Writers. — No instance occurs in these writers of the use of βάπτισμα, and only one in a very late author (Antyllus) of the use of its equivalent βαπτισμός; but the verb occurs frequently, especially in the later writers. It is used to designate:
(1.) The washing of an object by dipping it into water, or any other fluid, or quasi-fluid, for any purpose whatever: as βάπτισον σεαυτὸν εἰς θάλασσαν, “bathe yourself by going into the sea” (Plut. Maor. p. 166 A.); βαπτίζειν τὸν Διόνυσον πρὸς τὴν θάλατταν (Ibid. p. 914).
(2.) The plunging or sinking of an object: as Οὐδὲ γὰρ τοῖς ἀκολύμβοις βαπτίζεσθαι συμβαίνει ξύλων τρὸπον ἐπιπολάζουσι, where βαπτίζεσθαι, in the sense of “submersed,” is contrasted with ἐπιπολάζουσι, in the sense of “float;” ἐν ὕδασι γενέσθαι τὴν
πορείαν συνέβη, μέχρι ὀμφαλοῦ βαπτιζομένων, being in water up to the navel (Strabo, Geogr. xiv, p. 667); μόλις ἕως τῶν μαστῶν ὅι πεζοὶ βαπτιζόμενοι διέβαινον (Polyb. in). So Pindar says (Pyth. 2:145), ἀβάπτιστός εἰμι, φελλὸς éς, where the cork of the fisherman is. styled unbaptized, in contrast with the net which sinks into the water. From this, by metonomy of cause for effect, is derived the sense to drown, as ἐβάπτισ᾿ εἰς τὸν οϊvνον, “I whelmed him in the wine” (Julian AEgypt. Anacreont.).
(3.) The covering over of any object by the flowing or pouring of a fluid on it; and metaphorically (in the passive), the being overwhelmed or oppressed: thus the Pseudo-Aristotle speaks of places full of bulrushes and sea-weeds, which, when the tide is at the ebb, are not baptized (i.e. covered by the water), but at full tide are flooded over (Mirabil. Auscult. § 137, p. 50, in Westermann’s edit. of the Script. Rer. Mir. Gr.); Diodorus Siculus (bk. 1) speaks of land animals being destroyed by the river overtaking them (διαφθείρεται βαπτιζόμενα); Plato and Athenaeus describe men in a state of ebriety as baptized (Sympos. p. 176 B.; and Deipnos.v.); and the former says the same of a youth overwhelmed with sophistry (Euthyd. 277 D.); Plutarch denounces the forcing of knowledge on children beyond what they can receive as a process by which the soul is baptized (De Lib. educ.); and he speaks of men as baptized by debts (Galbae, c. 21); Diodorus Siculus speaks of baptizing people with tears (bk. 1, c., 3); and Libanius says, “He who hardly bears what he now bears, would be baptized by a little addition” (Epist. 310), and “I am one of those baptized by that great wave” (Ep. 25).
(4.) The complete drenching of an object, whether by aspersion or immersion; as Α᾿σκὸς βαπτίζῃ, δῦναι δὲ τοι οὐ θέμις ἐστι, “As a bladder thou shalt be washed (i.e. by the waves breaking over thee), but thou canst not go down” (Orac. Sibyll. de Athenis, ap. Plutarch, Thesei).
From this it appears that in classical usage βαπτίζειν is not fixed to any special mode of applying the baptizing element to the object baptized; all that is implied by the term is, that the former is closely in contact with the latter, or that the latter is wholly in the former.
2. By the Septuagint. — Here the word occurs only four times, viz. 2Ki 5:14 : “And Naaman went down and baptized himself (ἐβαπτίσατο) seven times in the river Jordan,” where the original Hebrew is וִיִטְבֹּל, from טָבִל, to dip, plunge, immerse; Isa 21:4; Isa 21:6 Iniquity baptizes me” (ἡ ἀνομία με βαπτίζει), where the word is plainly used in the sense of overwhelm, answering to the Hebrews בָּעִת, to come upon suddenly, to terrify; Jdt 12:7, “She went out by night . . . and baptized herself (ἐβαπτίζετο) at the fountain;” and Sir 31:30, [Sirach 34], “He who is baptized from a corpse” (βαπτιζομένος ἀπὸ νεκροῦ), etc. In these last two instances the word merely denotes washed, without indicating any special mode by which this was done, though in the former the circumstances of the case make it improbable that the act described was that of bathing (comp. Num 19:19).
In the Greek, then, of the Sept., βαπτίζειν signifies to plunge, to bathe, or to overwhelm. It is never used to describe the act of one who dips another object into a fluid, or the case of one who is dipped by another.
3. In the New Testament. — Confining our notice here simply to the philology of the subject, the instances of this usage may be classified thus:
(1.) The verb or noun alone, or with the object baptized merely: as βαπτισθῆναι, Mat 3:13-14; βαπτισθείς, Mar 16:16; βαπτίζων, Mar 1:4; βαπτίσωνται, 7:4; βαπτίξεις, Joh 1:25; ἐβάπτισα, 1Co 1:14, etc.; βάπτισμα αὐτοῦ, Mat 3:7; ž ν βάπτισμα, Eph 4:5; βάπτισμα, Col 2:12; 1Pe 3:21, etc.; βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων, Mar 7:4; Mar 7:8; βαπτισμῶν διδαχῆς, Heb 6:2; διαφόροις βαπτισμοῖς, Heb 9:10.
(2.) With addition of the element of baptism: as ἐν ὕδατι, Mar 1:8, etc.; ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί, Mat 3:11, etc.; ὕδατι, Luk 3:16, etc. The force of ἐν in such formulse has by some been pressed, as if it indicated that the object of baptism was in the element of baptism; but by most the ἐν is regarded as merely the nota dativi, so that ἐν ὕδατι means no more than the simple ὕδατι, as the ἐν πλοίῳ of Mat 14:13, means no more than the πλοίῳ of Mar 6:32. (See Matthiae, sec. 401, obs. 2; Kuhner, sec. 585, Anm. 2.) Only in one instance does the accusative appear in the N.T., Mar 1:9, where we have εἰς τὸν Ι᾿ορδάνην, and this can hardly be regarded as a real exception to the ordinary usage of the N.T., because εἰς here is local rather than instrumental. In connection with this may be noticed the phrases καταβαίνειν εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ, and ἀποβαίνειν ἐκ or ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος. According to some, these decisively prove that the party baptized, as well as the baptizer, went down into the water, and came up out of it. But, on the other hand, it is contended that the phrases do not necessarily imply more than that they went to (i.e. to the margin of) the water and returned thence.
(3.) With specification of the end or purpose for which the baptism is effected. This is usually indicated by εἰς: as βαπτίζοντες εἰς τὸ ὄνομα, Mat 28:19, and frequently; ἐβαπτίσθημεν εἰς Χριστόν . . . εἰς τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ, Rom 6:3, al.; εἰς τὸν Μωυσῆν ἐβαπτίσθησαν, 1Co 10:3; εἰς ἕν σῶμα ἐβαπτίσθημεν, 1Co 12:13; βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος . . . εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, Act 2:38, etc. In these cases εἰς retains its proper significancy, as indicating the terminus ad quem, and tropically, that for which, or with a view to which the thing is done, modified according as this is a person or a thing. Thus, to be baptized for Moses, means to be baptized with a view to following or being subject to the rule of Moses; to be baptized for Christ means to be baptized with a view to becoming a true follower of Christ; to be baptized for his death means to be baptized with a view to the enjoyment of the benefits of his death; to be baptized for the remission of sins means to be baptized with a view to receiving this; to be baptized for the name of any one means to be baptized with a view to the realization of all that the meaning of this name implies, etc. In one passage Paul uses ὑπὲρ to express the end or design of baptism, βαπτιζόμενοι ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν, 1Co 15:29; but here the involved idea of substitution justifies the use of the preposition. Instead of a preposition, the genitive of object is sometimes used, as βάπτισμα μετανοίας Luk 3:3, al.= βάπτισμα εἰς μετανοίαν, the baptism which has μετανοία as its end and purpose.
(4.) With specification of the ground or basis on which the baptism rests. This is expressed by the use of ἐν in the phrases ἐν ὀνόματι τίνος, and once by the use of ἐπί with the dative, Act 2:38 : “to be baptized on the name of Christ, i.e. so that the baptism is grounded on the confession of his name” (Winer, p. 469). Some regard these formulae as identical in meaning with those in which εἰς is used with ὄνομα, but the more exact scholars view them as distinct.
The two last-mentioned usages are peculiar to the N.T., and arise directly from the new significancy which its writers attached to baptism as a rite.
II. Non-ritual Baptisms mentioned in the N.T. — These are:
1. The baptism of utensils and articles of furniture, Mar 7:4; Mar 7:8.
2. The baptism of persons, Mar 7:3-4; Luk 11:38, etc.
These are the only instances in which the verb or noun is used in a strictly literal sense in the N.T. and there may be some doubt as to whether the last instance should not be remanded to the head of ritual baptisms. These instances are chiefly valuable as bearing on the question of the mode of baptism; they show that no special mode is indicated by the mere use of the word baptize, for the washing of cups, of couches, and of persons is accomplished in a different manner in each case: in the first by dipping, or immersing, or rinsing, or pouring, or simply wiping with a wet cloth; in the second by aspersion and wiping; and in the third by plunging or stepping into the bath.
3. Baptism of affliction, Mar 10:38-39; Luk 12:50. In both these passages our Lord refers to his impending sufferings as a baptism which he had to undergo. Chrysostom, and some others of the fathers, understand this objectively, as referring to the purgation which his sufferings were to effect (see the passages in Suicer, Thes. s.v. βάπτισμα, 1:7); but this does not seem to be the idea of the speaker. Our Lord rather means that his sufferings were to come on him as a mighty overwhelming torrent (see Kuinol on Mat 20:22-23; Blomfield, ibid.). Some interpreters suppose there is an allusion in this language to submersion as essential to baptism (see Olshausen in loc.; Meyer on Mar 10:38); but nothing more seems to be implied than simply the being overwhelmed in a figurative sense, according to what we have seen to be’ a common use of the word by the classical writers.
4. Baptism with the Spirit, Mat 3:11; Mar 1:8; Luk 3:16; Joh 1:33; Act 1:5; Act 11:16; 1Co 12:13. In the first of these passages it is said of our Lord that he shall baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Whether this be taken as a hendiadys = the Spirit as fire, or as pointing out two distinct baptisms, the one by the Spirit, the other by fire; and whether, on the latter assumption, the baptism by fire means the destruction by Christ of his enemies, or the miraculous endowment of his apostles, it does not concern us at present to inquire. Respecting the intent of baptism by the Spirit, there can be little room for doubt or difference of opinion; it is obviously a figurative mode of describing the agency of the Divine Spirit given through and by Christ, both in conferring miraculous endowments and in purifying and sanctifying the heart of man. By this Spirit the disciples were baptized on the day of Pentecost, when “there appeared unto them cloven tongues of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Act 2:3-4); by this Spirit men are saved when they are “born again of water and of the Spirit” (Joh 3:5); when they receive “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit 3:5); and when there is the putting away from them of the filth of the flesh, and they have the answer of a good conscience toward God (1Pe 3:21); and by this Spirit believers are baptized for one body, when through his gracious agency they receive that Spirit, and those impulses by which they I are led to realize their unity in Christ Jesus (1Co 12:11). Some refer to the Spirit’s baptism also, the apostle’s expression, ž ν βάπτισμα, Eph 4:5; but the common and more probable opinion is that the reference here is to ritual baptism as the outward sign of that inner unity which the εϊvς Κύριος and the μία πίστις secure and produce (see Alford, Ellicott, Meyer, Matthies, etc. etc. in loc.). In this figurative use of the term “baptism” the tertium comparationis is found by some in the Spirit’s being viewed as the element in which the believer is made to live, and in which he receives the transforming influence; while others find it in the biblical representation of the Spirit as coming upon men, as poured upon them (Isa 32:15; Zec 12:10; Joe 2:28; Act 2:17), and as sprinkled on them like clean water (Eze 36:25).
5. Baptism for Moses. — In 1Co 10:2, the apostle says of the Israelites, “And they all received baptism (‘the middle voice is selected to express a receptive sense,’ Meyer) for Moses (εἰς τὸν Μωυσῆν ἐβαπτίσαντο) in (or by, ἐν) the cloud, and in (or by) the sea.” In the Syr. εἰς r. M. is translated “by the hand of Moses;” and this is followed by Beza and others. Some render una cum Mose; others, aupiciis Mosis; others, in Mose, i.e. “sub ministerio et ductu Mosis” (Calvin), etc. But all these interpretations are precluded by the proper meaning of εἰς. and the fixed significance of the phrase βαπτίζειν εῖς in the N.T. The only rendering that can be admitted is “for Moses,” i.e. with a view to him, in reference to him, in respect of him. “They were baptized for Moses. i.e. they became bound to fidelity and obedience, and were accepted into the covenant which God then made with the people through Moses” (Ruckert in loc.; see also Meyer and Alford on the passage).
III. The Types of Baptism. —
1. The apostle Peter (1Pe 3:21) compares the deliverance of Noah in the Deluge to the deliverance of Christians in baptism. The apostle had been speaking of those who had perished “in the days of Noah when the ark was a-preparing, in which few, that is eight souls, were saved by water.” According to the A.V., he goes on, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth now save us.” The Greek, in the best MSS., is ῾῏Ο καὶ ἡμᾶς ἀντίτυπον νῦν σώζει βάπτισμα. Grotius well expounds ἀντίτυπον by ἀντίστοιχον, “accurately corresponding.” The difficulty is in the relative ὅ. There is no antecedent to which it can refer except ὕδατος, “water;” and it seems as if βάπτισμα must be put in ap- position with ὅ, and as an explanation of it. Noah and his company were saved by water, “which water also, that is, the water of baptism, correspondingly saves us.” Even if the reading were ω῏/, it -would most naturally refer to the preceding ὕδατος. Certainly it could not refer to κιβωτοῦ, which is feminine. We must, then, probably interpret that, though water was the instrument for destroying the disobedient, it was yet the instrument ordained of God for floating the ark, and so for saving Noah and his family; and it is in correspondence with this that water also, viz. the water of baptism, saves Christians. Augustine, commenting on these words, writes that “the events in the days of Noah were a figure of things to come, so that they who believe not the Gospel, when the church is building, may be considered as like those who believed not when the ark was preparing; while those who have believed and are baptized (i.e. are saved by baptism) may be compared to those who were formerly saved in the ark by water” (Epist. 164, tom. 2, p. 579). “The building of the ark,” he says again, “was a kind of preaching.” “The waters of the deluge pre-signified baptism to those who believed — punishment to the unbelieving” (ib.).
It would be impossible to give any definite explanation of the words “baptism doth save us” without entering upon the theological question of baptismal regeneration. The apostle, however, gives a caution which no doubt may itself have need of an interpreter, when he adds, “not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer (ἐπερώτημα) of a good conscience toward God.” Probably all will agree that he intended here to warn us against resting on the outward administration of a sacrament, with no corresponding preparation of the conscience and the soul. The connection in this passage between baptism and “the resurrection of Jesus Christ” maybe compared with Col 2:12.
2. In 1Co 10:1-2, the passage of the Red Sea and the shadowing of the miraculous cloud are treated as types of baptism. In all the early part of this chapter the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness are put in comparison with the life of the Christian. The being under the cloud and the passing through the sea resemble baptism; eating manna and drinking of the rock are as the spiritual food which feeds the church; and the different temptations, sins, and punishments of the Israelites on their journey to Canaan are held up as a warning to the Corinthian Church. It appears that the Rabbins themselves speak of a baptism in the cloud (see Wetstein in loc., who quotes Pirke R. Eliezer, 44; see also Schottgen in loc.). The passage from the condition of bondmen in Egypt was through the Red Sea, and with the protection of the luminous cloud. When the sea was passed the people were no longer subjects of Pharaoh, but were, under the guidance of Moses, forming into a new commonwealth, and on their way to the promised land, It is sufficiently apparent how this may resemble the enlisting of a new convert into the body of the Christian Church, his being placed in a new relation, under a new condition, in a spiritual commonwealth, with a way before him to a better country, though surrounded with dangers, subject to temptations, and with enemies on all sides to encounter in his progress.
3. Another type of, or rather a rite analogous to, baptism was circumcision. Paul (Col 2:11) speaks of the Colossian Christians as having been circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, when they were buried with Christ in baptism, in which they were also raised again with him (ἐν ω῏/ περιετμήθητε . . . . συνταφέντες αυτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι. The aorist participle, as often, is contemporary with the preceding past verb.” — Alford in loc.). The obvious reason for the comparison of the two rites is that circumcision was the entrance to the Jewish Church and the ancient covenant, baptism to the Christian Church and to the new covenant; and perhaps also that the spiritual significance of circumcision had a resemblance to the spiritual import of baptism, viz. “the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh,” and the purification of the heart by the grace of God. Paul therefore calls baptism the circumcision made without hands, and speaks of the putting off of the sins of the flesh by Christian circumcision (ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοà), i.e. by baptism.
4. Before leaving this part of the subject, we ought perhaps to observe that in more than one instance death is called a baptism. In Mat 20:22; Mar 10:39, our Lord speaks of the cup which he had to drink, and the baptism that he was to be baptized with; and again, in Luk 12:50, “I have a baptism to be baptized with.” It is generally thought that baptism here means an inundation of sorrows; that, as the baptized went down in the water, and water was to be poured over him, so our Lord meant to indicate that he himself had to pass through “the deep waters of affliction” (see Kuinol on Mat 20:22; Schleusner, s.v. βαπτίζω). In after times martyrdom was called a baptism of blood. But the metaphor in this latter case is evidently different; and in the above words of our Lord baptism is used without any qualification, whereas in passages adduced from profane authors we always find some words explanatory of the mode of the immersion. Is it not then probable that some deeper significance attaches to the comparison of death, especially of our Lord’s death, to baptism, when we consider, too, that the connection of baptism with the death and resurrection of Christ is so much insisted on by Paul?
IV. Names of Baptism. —
1. “Baptism” (βάπτισμα: the word βαπτισμός occurs only three times, viz. Mar 7:8; Heb 6:2; Heb 9:10). The verb βαπτίζειν from βάπτειν, to wet) is the rendering of טָבִל, to plunge, by the Sept. in 2Ki 5:14; and accordingly the Rabbins used , טְבילָהfor βάπτισμα. The Latin fathers render βαπτίζειν by tingere (e.g. Tertull. adv. Prax. c. 26, “Novissimo mandavit ut tingerent in Patrem Filium et Spiritum Sanctum”); by mergere (as Ambros. De Sacramentis, lib. 2, c. 7, “Interrogatus es, Credis in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem? Dixisti Credo; et mersisti, hoc est sepultus es”); by mergztare (as Tertullian, De Corona Militis, c. 3, “Dehinc ter mergitamur”); see Suicer, s.v. άναδυω. By the Greek fathers the word βαπτίζειν is often used figuratively for overwhelming with sleep, sorrow, sin, etc. Thus ὑπὸ μέθης βαπτιζόμενος εἰς ὕπνον, buried in sleep through drunkenness. So μυρίαις βαπτιζόμενος φρόντισιν, absorbed in thought (Chrysost.). Ταῖς βαρυτάταις ἁμαρτίαις βεβαπτισμενοι, steeped in sin (Justin M.). See Suicer, s.v. βαπτίζω.
2. “The Water” (τὸ ὕδωρ) is a name of baptism which occurs in Act 10:47. After Peter’s discourse, the Holy Spirit came visibly on Cornelius and his company; and the apostle asked, “Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost?” In ordinary cases the water had been first administered, after that the apostles laid on their hands, and then the Spirit was given. But here the Spirit had come down manifestly; before the administration of baptism; and Peter argued that no one could then reasonably withhold baptism (calling it “the water”) from those who had visibly received that of which baptism was the sign and seal. With this phrase, τὸ ὕδωρ, “the water,” used of baptism, compare “the breaking of bread” as a title of the Eucharist, Act 2:42.
3. “The Washing of Water” (τὸ λουτρὸν τοῦ ὕδατος, “the bath of the water”) occurs Eph 5:26. There appears clearly in these words a reference to the bridal bath; but the allusion to baptism is clearer still, baptism of which the bridal bath was an emblem, a type, or mystery, signifying to us the spiritual union betwixt Christ and his church. For as the bride was wont to bathe before being presented to the bridegroom, so washing in the water is that initiatory rite by which the Christian Church is betrothed to the Bridegroom, Christ.
There is some difficulty in the construction and interpretation of the qualifying words, ἐν ῥήματι, “by the word.” According to the more ancient interpretation, they would indicate that the outward rite of washing is insufficient and unavailing without the added potency of the Word of God (comp. 1Pe 3:21), “Not the putting away the filth of the flesh,” etc.); and as the λουτρὸν τοῦ ὕδατος had reference to the bridal bath, so there might be an allusion to the words of betrothal. The bridal bath and the words of betrothal typified the water and the words of baptism. On the doctrine so expressed the language of Augustine is famous: ‘‘Detrahe verbum, et quid est aqua nisi aqua? Accedit verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum” (Tract. 80 ins Johan.). Yet the general use of ῥῆμα in the New Testament and the grammatical construction of the passage seem to favor the opinion that the Word of God preached to the church, rather than the words made use of in baptism, is that accompaniment of the laver without which it would be imperfect (see Ellicott, in loc.).
4. “The washing of regeneration” (λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας) is a phrase naturally connected with the foregoing. It occurs Tit 3:5. All ancient and most modern commentators have interpreted it of baptism. Controversy has made some persons unwilling to admit this interpretation; but the question probably should be, not as to the significance of the phrase, but as to the degree of importance attached in the words of the apostle to that which the phrase indicates. Thus Calvin held that the “bath” meant baptism; but he explained its occurrence in this context by saying that “Baptism is to us the seal of salvation which Christ hath obtained for us.” The current of the apostle’s reasoning is this. He tells Titus to exhort the Christians of Crete to be submissive to authority, showing all meekness to all men: “for we ourselves were once foolish, erring, serving our own lusts; but when the kindness of God our Savior and His love toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we performed, but according to His own mercy He saved us by (through the instrumentality of) the bath of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost (διὰ λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίας καὶ ἀνακαινώσεως Πνεύματος ἁγίου), which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs of eternal life through hope (or according to hope, κατ᾿ ἐλπίδα).” The argument is, that Christians should be kind to all men, remembering that they themselves had been formerly disobedient, but that by God’s free mercy in Christ they had been transplanted into a better state, even a state of salvation (ἔσωσεν ημᾶς), and that by means of the bath of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. If, according to the more ancient and common interpretation, the laver means baptism, the whole will seem pertinent. Christians are placed in a new condition, made members of the Church of Christ by baptism, and they are renewed in the spirit of their minds by the Holy Ghost.
There is so much resemblance, both in the phraseology and in the argument, between this passage in Titus and 1Co 6:11, that the latter ought by all means to be compared with the former. Paul tells the Corinthians that in their heathen state they had been stained with heathen vices; “but,” he adds, “ye were washed” (lit. ye washed or bathed yourselves, ἀπελούσασθε), “but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.” It is generally believed that here is an allusion to the being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; though some connect “sanctified” and “justified,” as well as “washed,” with the words “in the name,” etc. (see Stanley, in loc.). But, however this may be, the reference to baptism seems unquestionable.
Another passage containing very similar thoughts, clothed in almost the same words, is Act 22:16, where Ananias says to Saul of Tarsus, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord” (ἀναστὰς βάπτισαι καὶ ἀπόλουσα τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου, ἐπικαλεσάμενος τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ). See Calvin’s Commentary on this passage.
5. “Illumination” (φωτισμός). It has been much questioned whether φωτίζεσθαι, “enlightened,” in Heb 6:4; Heb 10:32, be used of baptism or not. Justin M., Clement of Alexandria, and almost all the Greek fathers, use φωτισμός as a synonym for baptism. The Syriac version, the most ancient in existence, gives this sense to the word in both the passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and other Greek commentators so interpret it; and they are followed by Ernesti, Michaelis, and many modern interpreters of the highest authority (Wetstein cites from Orac. Sibyll. 1, ὕδατι φωτίζεσθαι). On the other hand, it is now very commonly alleged that the use is entirely ecclesiastical, not scriptural, and that it arose from the undue esteem for baptism in the primitive church. It is impossible to enter into all the merits of the question here. If the usage be scriptural, it is to be found only in the two passages in Hebrews above mentioned; but it may perhaps correspond with other figures and expressions in the New Testament. The patristic use of the word may be seen by referring to Suicer, s.v. φωτισμός, and to Bingham (E. A. bk. 11, ch. 1, § 4). The rationale of the name, according to Justin Martyr, is, that the catechumens, before admission to baptism, were instructed in all the principal doctrines of the Christian faith, and hence
“this laver is called illumination, because those who learn these things are illuminated in their understanding” (Apol. 2:94). But if this word be used in the sense of baptism in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as we have no mention of any training of catechumens in the New Testament, we must probably seek for a different explanation of its origin. It will be remembered that φωταγωγία was a term for admission into the ancient mysteries. Baptism was without question the initiatory rite in reference to the Christian faith (comp. τρία βαπτίσματα μιᾶς μυήσεως, Can. Apost. 1). Now that ‘Christian faith is more than once called by Paul the Christian “mystery.”
The “mystery of God’s will” (Eph 1:9), “the mystery of Christ” (Col 4:3; Eph 3:4), “the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph 6:19), and other like phrases, are common in his epistles. A Greek could hardly fail to be reminded by such language of the religious mysteries of his own former heathenism. But, moreover, seeing that “in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” it seems highly probable that in three memorable passages Paul speaks, not merely of the Gospel or the faith, but of Christ himself as the great Mystery of God or of godliness.
(1) In Col 1:27, we read, “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, τοῦ μυστηρίου τούτου, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν
(2) In Col 2:2, Lachmann, Tregelles, and Ellicott, as we think on good grounds, adopt the reading τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ Θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ, rightly compared by Bp. Ellicott with the preceding passage occurring only four verses before it, and interpreted by him “the mystery of God, even Christ.”
(3) It deserves to be carefully considered whether the above usage in Colossians does not suggest a clear exposition of 1Ti 3:16, τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον ὃς ἐφανερώθη κ. τ. λ· For, if Christ be the “Mystery of God,” he may well be called also the “Mystery of godliness;” and the masculine relative is then easily intelligible, as being referred to Χριστός understood and implied in μυστήριον; for, in the words of Hilary, “Dens Christus est Sacramentum.”
But, if all this be true, as baptism is the initiatory Christian rite admitting us to the service of God and to the knowledge of Christ, it may not improbably have been called φωτισμός, and afterward φωταγωγία, as having reference, and as admitting to the mystery of the Gospel, and to Christ himself, who is the Mystery of God.
V. We pass to a few of the more prominent passages, not already considered, in which baptism is referred to.
1. Joh 3:5 — “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” — has been a well-established battle-field from the time of Calvin. Hooker states that for the first fifteen centuries no one had ever doubted its application to baptism (Eccl. Pol. v, 59). Zuinglius was probably the first who interpreted it otherwise. Calvin understood the words “of water and of the Spirit” as ἕν διὰ δυοῖν, “the washing or cleansing of the Spirit” (or rather perhaps “by the Spirit”), “who cleanses as water,” referring to Mat 3:11 (“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire”), as a parallel usage. Stier (Words of the Lord Jesus, in loc.) observes that Licke has rightly said that we may regard this interpretation by means of a hendiadys, which erroneously appealed to Mat 3:11, as now generally abandoned. Stier, moreover, quotes with entire approbation the words of Meyer (on Joh 3:5): “Jesus speaks here concerning a spiritual baptism, as in chap. vi, concerning a spiritual feeding; in both places, however, with reference to their visible auxiliary means.” That our Lord probably adopted expressions familiar to the Jews in this discourse with Nicodemus may be seen by reference to Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in loc.
2. The prophecy of John the Baptist just referred to, viz. that our Lord should baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Mat 3:11), has usually been interpreted by that rhetorical figure (hendiadys) which designates one thing by a double expression. Bengel thus paraphrases it: “The Holy Spirit, with which Christ baptizes, has a fiery force, and this was once even manifest to human sight” (Act 2:3). The fathers, indeed, spoke of a threefold baptism with fire: first, of the Holy Ghost in the shape of fiery tongues at Pentecost; secondly, of the fiery trial of affliction and temptation (1Pe 1:7); thirdly, of the fire which at the last day is to try every man’s works (1Co 3:13). It is, however, very improbable that there is any allusion to either of the last two in Mat 3:11. There is an antithesis in John the Baptist’s language between his own lower mission and the divine authority of the Savior. John baptized with a mere earthly element, teaching men to repent, and pointing them to Christ; but He that should come after, ὁ ἐρχόμενος, was empowered to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. The water of John’s baptism could but wash the body; the Holy Ghost, with which Christ was to baptize, should purify the soul as with fire.
3. Gal 3:27 : “For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In the whole of this very important and difficult chapter Paul is reasoning on the inheritance by the Church of Christ of the promises made to Abraham. Christ — i.e. Christ comprehending his whole body mystical — is the true seed of Abraham, to whom the promises belong (Gal 3:16). The law, which came afterward, could not annul the promises thus made. The law was fit to restrain (or perhaps rather to manifest) transgression (Gal 3:23). The law acted as a pedagogue, keeping us for and leading us on to Christ, that he might bestow on us freedom and justification by faith in him (Gal 3:24). But after the coming of faith we are no longer, like young children, under a pedagogue, but we are free, as heirs in our Father’s house (Gal 3:25; comp. ch. Gal 4:1-5). “For ye all are God’s sons (filii emancipati, not παῖδες, but υἱοί, Bengel and Ellicott) through the faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on (clothed yourselves in) Christ (see Schottgen on Rom 13:14). In him is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female; for all ye are one in Christ Jesus” (Rom 13:26-28). The argument is plain. All Christians are God’s sons through union with the Only-begotten. Before the faith in him came into the world, men were held under the tutelage of the law, like children, kept as in a state of bondage under a pedagogue. But after the preaching of the faith, all who are baptized into Christ clothe themselves in him; so they are esteemed as adult sons of his Father, and by faith in him they may be justified from their sins, from which the law could not justify them (Act 13:37). The contrast is between the Christian and the Jewish Church: one bond, the other free; one infant, the other adult. The transition point is naturally when by baptism the service of Christ is undertaken and the promises of the Gospel are claimed. This is represented as putting on Christ and in him assuming the position of full- grown men. In this more privileged condition there is the power of obtaining justification by faith, a justification which the law had not to offer.
4. 1Co 12:13 : “For by one Spirit (or in one spirit, ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι) we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, and were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The resemblance of this passage to the last is very clear. In the old dispensation there was a marked division between Jew and Gentile; under the Gospel there is one body in Christ. As in Gal 3:16, Christ is the seed (τὸ σπέρμα), so here he is the body (τὸ σῶμα) into which all Christians become incorporated. All distinctions of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, are abolished. By the grace of the same Spirit (or perhaps “in one spirit” of Christian love and fellowship (comp. Eph 2:18), without division or separate interests) all are joined in baptism to the one body of Christ, his universal church. Possibly there is an allusion to both sacraments. “We were baptized into one body, we were made to drink of one Spirit” (ἕν Πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν: Lachm. and Tisch. omit εἰς). Both our baptism and our partaking of the cup in the communion are tokens and pledges of Christian unity. They mark our union with the one body of Christ, and they are means of grace, in which we may look for one Spirit to be present with blessing (comp. 1Co 10:3; 1Co 10:17′; see Waterland on the Eucharist, ch. 10, and Stanley on 1Co 12:13).
5. Rom 6:4, and Col 2:12, are so closely parallel that we may notice them together. As the apostle in the two last-considered passages views baptism as a joining to the mystical body of Christ, so in these two passages he goes on to speak of Christians in their baptism as buried with Christ in his death, and raised again with him in his resurrection. As the natural body of Christ was laid in the ground and then raised up again, so his mystical body, the church, descends in baptism into the waters, in which also (ἐν ω῏/, sc. βαπτίσματι, Col 2:12) it is raised up again with Christ, through “faith in the mighty working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Probably, as in the former passages Paul had brought forward baptism as the symbol of Christian unity, so in those now before us he refers to it as the token and pledge of the spiritual death to sin and resurrection to righteousness; and moreover of the final victory over death in the last day, through the power of the resurrection of Christ. It is said that it was partly in reference to this passage in Colossians that the early Christians so generally used trine immersion, as signifying thereby the three days in which Christ lay in the grave (see Suicer, s.v. ἀναδύω, II. a). — Smith, Append. s.v.
1. JEWISH BAPTISM. — Purifications by washing (q.v.) were very common among the Jews. In the language of the prophets, cleansing -with water is used as an emblem of the purification of the heart, which in the Messianic age is to glorify the soul in her innermost recesses, and to embrace the whole of the theocratic nation (Eze 36:25 sq.; Zec 13:1).Of the antiquity of lustrations by water among the Jews there is no question, but it is still a disputed point whether baptism was practiced, as an initiatory rite, in connection with circumcision, before the coming of Christ. It is well established that, as early as the second century of the Christian sera, this proselyte baptism was an established rite among the Jews; and their writers, as well as many Christian theologians (e.g. Lightfoot, Wetstein, Wall, and others), claim for it a much greater antiquity. But this opinion is hardly tenable, for, as an act which strictly gives validity to the admission of a proselyte, and is no mere accompaniment to his admission, baptism certainly is not alluded to in the New Testament; while, as to the passages quoted in proof from the classical (profane) writers of that period, they are all open to the most fundamental objections. Nor is the utter silence of Josephus and Philo on the subject, notwithstanding their various opportunities of touching on it, a less weighty argument against this view. It is true that mention is made in the Talmud of that regulation as already existing in the first century A.D.; but such statements belong only to the traditions of the Gemara, and require careful investigation before they can serve as proper authority. This Jewish rite was probably originally only a purifying ceremony; and it was raised to the character of an initiating and indispensable rite, coordinate with that of sacrifice and circumcision, only after the destruction of the Temple, when sacrifices had ceased, and the circumcision of proselytes had, by reason of public edicts, become more and more impracticable.
2. JOHN’S BAPTISM. — It was the principal object of John the Baptist to combat the prevailing opinion that the performance of external ceremonies was sufficient to secure participation in the kingdom of God and his promises; he required repentance, therefore, as a preparation for the approaching kingdom of the Messiah. That he may possibly have baptized heathens also seems to follow from his censuring the Pharisees for confiding in their descent from Abraham, while they had no share in his spirit; yet it should not be overlooked that this remark was drawn from him by the course of the argument (Mat 3:8-9; Luk 3:7-8). We must, on the whole, assume that John considered the existing Judaism as a stepping-stone by which the Gentiles were to arrive at the kingdom of God in its Messianic form. The general point of view from which John contemplated the Messiah and his kingdom was that of the Old Testament, though closely bordering on Christianity. He regards, it is true, an alteration in the mind and spirit as an indispensable condition for partaking in the kingdom of the Messiah; still, he looked for its establishment by means of conflict and external force, with which the Messiah was to be endowed; and he expected in him a Judge and Avenger, who was to set up outward and visible distinctions. It is, therefore, by no means a matter of indifference whether baptism be administered in the name of that Christ who floated before the mind of John, or of the suffering and glorified One, such as the apostles knew him; and whether it was considered a preparation for a political, or a consecration into a spiritual theocracy. John was so far from this latter view, so far from contemplating a purely spiritual development of the kingdom of God, that he even began subsequently to entertain doubts concerning Christ (Mat 11:2). John’s baptism had not the character of an immediate, but merely of a preparatory consecration for the glorified theocracy (Joh 1:31). The apostles, therefore, found it necessary to rebaptize the disciples of John, who had still adhered to the notions of their master on that head (Acts 19). To this apostolic judgment Tertullian appeals, and in his opinion coincide the most eminent teachers of the ancient’ church, both of the East and the West.” — Jacobi, in Kitto’s Cyclop. s.v.
The Baptism of Jesus by John (Mat 3:13; Mar 1:9; Luk 3:21; comp. Joh 1:19), as the first act of Christ’s public career, is one of the most important events recorded in the evangelical history. We might be apt to infer from Luke and Matthew that there had been an acquaintance between Christ and John prior to the baptism, and that hence John declines (Mat 3:14) to baptize Jesus, arguing that he needed to be baptized by him. This, however, has been thought to be at variance with Joh 1:31; Joh 1:33. Lucke (Comment. 1:416 sq., 3d edit.) takes the words “I knew him not” in their strict and exclusive sense. John, he says, could not have spoken in this manner if he had at all known Jesus; and had he known him, he could not, as a prophet, have failed to discover, even at an earlier period, the but too evident “glory” of the Messiah. On the other hand, the narrative of the-first three Gospels presupposes John’s personal acquaintance with him, since, although the herald of the Messiah, he could not otherwise have given that refusal (Mat 3:14) to the Messiah alone; for his own language necessarily implies that Jesus was not a stranger to him.
With regard to the object of Christ in undergoing baptism, we find, in the first instance, that he ranked this action among those of his Messianic calling. This object is still more defined by John the Baptist (Joh 1:31), which passage Lucke interprets in the following words: “Only by entering into that community which was to be introductory to the Messianic, by attaching himself to the Baptist like any other man, was it possible for Christ to reveal himself to the Baptist, and through him to others.” Christ himself never for a moment could doubt his own mission, or the right period when his character was to be made manifest by God; but John needed to receive that assurance, in order to be the herald of the Messiah who was actually come. For all others whom John baptized, either before or after Christ, this act was a mere preparatory consecration to the kingdom of the Messiah; while for Jesus it was a direct and immediate consecration, by means of which he manifested the commencement of his career as the founder of the new theocracy, which began at the very moment of his baptism, the initiatory character of which constituted its general principle and tendency.
Baptism of the Disciples of Christ. — Whether our Lord ever baptized has been doubted. (See Schenk, De lotione a ‘Christo administrata, Marb. 1745.) The only passage which may distinctly bear on the question is Joh 4:1-2, where it is said “that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.” We necessarily infer from it that, as soon as our Lord began his ministry, and gathered to him a company of disciples, he, like John the Baptist, admitted into that company by the administration of baptism. Normally, however, to say the least of it, the administration of baptism was by the hands of his disciples. Some suppose that the first-called disciples had all received baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, as must have pretty certainly been the case with Andrew (see Joh 1:35; Joh 1:37; Joh 1:40), and that they were not again baptized with water after they joined the company of Christ. Others believe that Christ himself baptized some few of his earlier disciples, who were afterward authorized to baptize the rest. But in any case the words above cited seem to show that making disciples and baptizing them went together; and that baptism was, even during our Lord’s earthly ministry, the formal, mode of accepting his service and becoming attached to his company.
After the resurrection, when the church was to be spread and the Gospel preached, our Lord’s own commission conjoins the making of disciples with their baptism. The command, “Make disciples of all nations by baptizing them” (Mat 28:19), is merely the extension of his own practice, “Jesus made disciples and baptized them” (Joh 4:1). The conduct of the apostles is the plainest comment on both; for so soon as ever men, convinced by their preaching, asked for guidance and direction, their first exhortation was to repentance and baptism, that thus the convert should be at once publicly received into the fold of Christ (see Act 2:38; Act 8:12; Act 8:36; Act 9:18; Act 10:47; Act 16:15; Act 16:33, etc.). (See Zimmermann, De Baptismi origine et usu, Gott. 1816.)
3. CHRISTIAN BAPTISM is a sacrament instituted by Christ himself. When he could no longer personally and immediately choose and receive members of his kingdom, when at the same time all had been accomplished which the founder thought necessary for its completion, he gave power to the spiritual community to receive, in his name, members by baptism. The authority and obligation of baptism as a universal ordinance of the Christian Church is derived from the commission of Christ, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in (to, εἰς) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mat 28:19). See II below.
1. Design and Benefits of Baptism. — As to the design and benefits of baptism there are various views held. The principal are the following:
1. That it is a direct instrument of grace; the application of water to the person by a properly qualified functionary being regarded as the appointed vehicle by which God bestows regenerating grace upon men. This is the view of the Roman and Eastern churches, and of one (the “High-Church”) party in the Protestant Episcopal and the Lutheran churches. Nearly the same view is held by the Disciples of Christ (Campbellites), who regard baptism as the remitting ordinance of the Gospel, or the appointed means through which the penitent sinner obtains the assurance of that remission of sins procured by the death of Christ. 2. That it is neither an instrument nor a seal of grace, but simply a ceremony of initiation into church membership. This is the Socinian view of the ordinance.
3. That it is a token of regeneration, to be received only by those who give evidence of being really regenerated. This is the view adopted by the Baptists.
4. That it is a symbol of purification, the use of which simply announces that the religion of Christ is a purifying religion, and intimates that the party receiving the rite assumes the profession, and is to be instructed in the principles of that religion. This opinion is extensively entertained among the Congregationalists of England.
5. That it is the rite of initiation into the visible church, and that, though not an instrument, it is a seal of grace, divine blessings being thereby confirmed and obsignated to the individual.
This is the doctrine of the Confessions of the majority of the Reformed churches. The Augsburg Confession states,
Art. 9: “Concerning baptism, our churches teach that it is a necessary ordinance; that it is a means of grace, and ought to be administered also to children, who are thereby dedicated to God, and received into his favor. They condemn the Anabaptists who reject the baptism of children, and who affirm that infants may be saved without baptism.” The Westminster Confession,
Art. 28: “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life; which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel lawfully called thereunto. Dipping of the person into water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time. The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person.” In the 17th article of the Methodist Episcopal Church it is declared that “Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized, but it is also a sign of regeneration, or the new birth. The baptism of young children is to be retained in the church.” The same formula appears in the Articles of the Church of England and of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, with certain additions, as follows:
“Art. 27. Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of regeneration, or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church: the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed -and sealed: faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.” The following excellent summary of the benefits of baptism is given by Watson (Institutes, 2:646): “Baptism introduces the adult believer into the covenant of grace and the Church of Christ, and is the seal, the pledge to him on the part of God of the fulfillment of all its provisions in time and in eternity, while on his part he takes upon himself the obligations of steadfast faith and obedience. To the infant child it is a visible reception into the same covenant and church-a pledge of acceptance through Christ — the bestowment of a title to all the grace of the covenant as circumstances may require, and as the mind of the child may be capable, or made capable of receiving it, and as it may be sought in future life by prayer, when the period of reason and moral choice shall arrive. It conveys, also, the present ‘blessing’ of Christ, of which we are assured by his taking children in his arms and blessing them; which blessing cannot be merely nominal, but must be substantial and efficacious. It secures, too, the gift of the Holy Ghost in those secret spiritual influences by which the actual regeneration of those children who die in infancy is effected, and which are a seed of life in those who are spared, to prepare them for instruction in the Word of God, as they are taught it by parental care, to incline their will and affections to good, and to begin and maintain in them the war against inward and outward evil, so that they may be divinely assisted, as reason strengthens, to make their calling and election sure. In a word, it is, both as to infants and to adults, the sign and pledge of that inward grace which, though modified in its operations by the difference of their circumstances, has respect to, and flows from, a covenant relation to each of the three persons in whose one name they are baptized-acceptance by the Father, union with Christ as the head of his mystical body, the church, and the communion of the Holy Ghost. To these advantages must be added the respect which God bears to the believing act of the parents, and to their solemn prayers on the occasion, in both which the child is interested, as well as in that solemn engagement of the parents which the rite necessarily implies to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Exaggerated ideas of the necessity and efficacy of baptism developed themselves as early as the second and third centuries (see references in Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, § 72). It became the custom to defer baptism as long as possible (a practice recommended, e.g. by Tertullian, De Bapt. c. 18). Many would not be baptized until just before death; e.g. Constantine. They supposed that baptism removes all previous sins in a sort of magical way; but that sins after baptism are remitted with difficulty, or not at all. Hence the baptism of new converts was delayed, entirely contrary to the ‘spirit and practice of the apostles, who baptized’ converts immediately (Act 2:41; Act 16:15). See Baumgarten, De Procrastinatione Baptismi ap. Veteres, Halle, 1747. After Augustine, through whom the doctrine of “no salvation out of the church” came to be received, it began to be held that infants dying without baptism were lost, and the baptism of very young infants became the common rule, while the baptism of adult converts was hastened (Knapp, Theology, § 141).
The Church of Rome continues to teach that original sin is effaced by the sacrament of baptism. The Anglican Church holds that “this infection of nature doth remain in them that are regenerated.” The Russian Catechism declares that in holy baptism the believer “dies to the carnal life of sin, and is born again of the Holy Ghost to a life spiritual and holy;” which is the doctrine of the Greek Church generally.
II. Obligation and Perpetuity of Baptism. — That baptism is obligatory is evident from the example of Christ, who by his disciples baptized many that, by his miracles and discourses, were brought to profess faith in him as the Messiah; from his command to his apostles after his resurrection (Mat 28:19); and from the practice of the apostles themselves (Act 2:38). But the Quakers assert that water baptism was never intended to continue in the Church of Christ any longer than while Jewish prejudices made such an external ceremony necessary. They argue from Eph 4:5, in which one baptism is spoken of as necessary to Christians, that this must be a baptism of the Spirit. But, from comparing the texts that relate to this institution, it will plainly appear that water baptism was instituted by Christ in more general terms than will agree with this explication. That it was administered to all the Gentile converts, and not confined to the Jews, appears from Mat 28:19-20, compared with Act 10:47; and that the baptism of the Spirit did not supersede water baptism appears to have been the judgment of Peter and of those that were with him; so that the one baptism spoken of seems to have been that of water, the communication of the Holy Spirit being only called baptism in a figurative sense. As for any objection which may be drawn from 1Co 1:17; it is sufficiently answered by the preceding verses, and all the numerous texts in which, in epistles written long after this, the apostle speaks of all Christians as baptized, and argues from the obligation of baptism in such a manner as we could never imagine he would have done if he had apprehended it to have been the will of God that it should be discontinued in the church (compare Rom 6:3, etc.; Col 2:12; Gal 3:27). Doddridge, Lectures on Divinity, Lect. 201. For a clear view of the obligation of baptism, see Hibbard on Christian Baptism, pt. 2, ch. 10. ; .
III. Mode of Baptism. — The ceremonies used in baptism have varied in different ages and countries; a brief account of them is given below (VIII). Among Protestants baptism is performed with great simplicity; all that is deemed essential to the ordinance being the application of water by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
1. The Baptists (q.v.) maintain, however, that immersion is the only valid baptism, in this point separating themselves from all the rest of Christendom. They rely for their justification chiefly upon the following arguments:
(1.) That the word βαπτίζω means, literally, to “immerse,” and nothing else; while its figurative uses always include the idea of “burying” or “overwhelming;”
(2.) that the terms washing, purifying, burying in baptism, so often mentioned in the Scriptures, allude to this mode;
(3.) that the places selected for baptism in the New Test. imply immersion;
(4.) that immersion only was the practice of the apostles, the first Christians, and the church in general for many ages, and that it was only laid aside from the love of novelty and the coldness of climate. These positions, they think, are so clear from Scripture and the history of the church that they stand in need of but little argument for their support.
(5.) Farther, they also insist that all positive institutions depend entirely upon the will and declaration of the institutor; and that, therefore, reasoning by analogy from previously abrogated rites is to be rejected, and the express command of Christ respecting baptism ought to be our rule. .
2. The Christian Church generally, on the other hand, denies that immersion is essential to the ordinance of baptism, and admits any of the three modes, sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. The Greek Church requires trine immersion in its rubrics, but in Russia baptism by sprinkling or affusion is regarded as equally valid. The Roman ritual favors affusion thrice repeated, but admits also of immersion. In the “Office for the Public Baptism of Infants” in the Church of England it is directed that the “priest shall dip the child in the water if the sponsors shall certify him that the child may well endure it;” but “if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it.” In the “Office for the Private Baptism of Infants” it is directed that the baptism shall be by affusion, the infant in such cases being always certified to be weak. In the “Office for the Baptism of Adults,” it is left altogether to the discretion of the minister to dip the person to be baptized in the water or to pour water upon him. The framers of the Office evidently, by the discretionary power left to the officiating minister, have decided that the mode in this respect is immaterial. The ritual of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in like manner, leaves the administrator free; and he is so, in fact, in most (but not all) Protestant Churches. The substantial question, therefore, between the Baptists and the Christian Church generally, is whether immersion is essential to baptism or not. The negative is maintained by the following arguments (besides others for which we have not space), viz.
(1.) As to the meaning of βαπτίζω, it is allowed, on all hands, that it is (at least sometimes) applied to acts involving the process of immersion both by profane and sacred writers (see above). But the best lexicographers agree that this is not its exclusive meaning, and none but a daring controversialist would assert that it is. The word βαπτίζω is derived from βαπτὸς, the verbal adjective of βάπτω, to wet thoroughly, and its etymological meaning is to put into a drenched or imbued condition
(Meth. Quar. Rev. 1850, p. 406). In the New Testament it generally means to purify by the application of water. (See Beecher on Baptism; Murdock, in Bib. Sac. Oct. 1850, on the Syriac words for baptism.) “As the word βαπτίζω is used to express the various ablutions among the Jews, such as sprinkling, pouring, etc. (Heb 9:10), for the custom of washing before meals, and the washing of household furniture, pots, etc., it is evident from hence that it does not express the manner of doing a thing, whether by immersion or affusion, but only the thing done — that is, washing, or the application of water in some form or other. It nowhere signifies to dip, but in denoting a mode of, and in order to, washing or cleansing; and the mode or use is only the ceremonial part of a positive institute, just as in the Lord’s Supper the time of day, the number and posture of the communicants, the quantity and quality of bread and wine, are circumstances not accounted essential by any part of Christians. If in baptism there be an expressive emblem of the descending influence of the Spirit, pouring must be the mode of administration, for that is the scriptural term most commonly and properly used for the communication of divine influences (Mat 3:11; Mar 1:8; Mar 1:10; Luk 3:16-22; Joh 1:33; Act 1:5; Act 2:38-39; Act 8:12; Act 8:17; Act 11:15-16). The term sprinkling, also, is made use of in reference to the act of purification (Isa 52:15; Eze 36:25; Heb 9:13-14), and therefore cannot be inapplicable to baptismal purification” (Watson). So far, then, as the word βαπτίζω is concerned, there is no foundation for the exclusive theory of the Baptists.
(2.) As for the fact that John baptized “in Jordan,’ it is enough to reply that to infer always a plunging of the whole body in water from this particle would, in many instances, be false and absurd. Indeed, if immersion were intended, the preposition should be εἰς and not ἐν. The same preposition, ἐν, is used when it is said they should be “baptized with fire,” but few will assert that they should be plunged into it. The apostle, speaking of Christ, says he came not, ἐν, “by water only,” but, ἐν, — “by water and blood.” There the same word, ἐν, is translated by; and with justice and propriety, for we know no good sense in which we could say he came in water. Jesus, it is said, came up out of the water, but this is no proof that he was immersed, as the Greek term ἀπό properly signifies from; for instance, “Who hath warned you to flee from,” not out of, the “wrath to come?”
with many others that might be mentioned. Again, it is urged that Philip and the eunuch went down both into the water. To this it is answered that here also is no proof of immersion; for if the expression of their going down into the water necessarily includes dipping, then Philip was dipped as well as the eunuch. The preposition εἰς, translated into, often signifies no more than to or unto, see Mat 15:24; Rom 10:10; Act 28:14; Mat 3:11; Mat 17:27; so that from none of these circumstances can it be proved that there was one person of all the baptized who went into the water ankle deep. As to the apostle’s expression, “buried with him in baptism,” that has no force in the argument for immersion, since it does not allude to a custom of dipping, any more than our baptismal crucifixion and death has any such reference. It is not the sign, but the thing signified, that is here alluded to. As Christ was buried and rose again to a heavenly life, so we by baptism signify that we are separated from sin, that we may live a new life of faith and love. (See above.)
(3). It is urged further against immersion that it carries with it too much, of the appearance of a burdensome rite for the Gospel dispensation; that it is unfit publicly for so solemn an ordinance; that it has a tendency to agitate the spirits, often rendering the subject unfit for the exercise of proper thoughts and affections, and, indeed, utterly incapable of them; that in many cases the immersion of the body would, in all probability, be instant death; that in other situations it would be impracticable for want of water: hence it cannot be considered as necessary to the ordinance of baptism, and there is the strongest improbability that it was universally practiced in the times of the New Testament, or in the earliest periods of the Christian Church; indeed, the allegation of the exclusiveness of this mode is far from being adequately supported by ancient testimony, while in many instances (e.g. that of the Philippine jailer, Act 17:33) this theory involves the most unlikely suppositions. See above (I-V).
IV. Subjects of Baptism. — The Christian churches generally baptize infants as well as adult believers, and this is believed to have been the practice of the church from the apostolical age. The Roman and Lutheran: churches teach that baptism admits children into the church and makes them members of the body of Christ. The Reformed churches, generally, teach that the children of believers are included in the covenant, and are therefore entitled to baptism. The Methodist Church holds that all infants are redeemed by Christ, and are therefore entitled to baptism, wherever they can receive the instruction and care of a Christian church or family.
(I.) As to the antiquity of infant baptism, it is admitted by Baptist writers themselves that it was practiced in Tertullian’s time (A.D. 200); but they insist that beyond that date there is no proof of any other baptism than that of adult believers. The principal passages cited in the controversy are from Origen, Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr.
1. Origen (A.D. 185-253) speaks in the most un- equivocal terms of the baptism of infants, as the general practice of the church in his time, and as having been received from the apostles. His testimony is as follows: “According to the usage of the church, baptism is given even to infants; when, if there were nothing in infants which needed forgiveness and mercy, the grace of baptism would seem to be superfluous” (Homil. VIII in Levit. ch. 12). Again: “Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Of what sins? Or, when have they sinned? Or, can there be any reason for the laver in their case, unless it be according to the sense which we have mentioned above, viz. that no one is free from pollution, though he has lived but one day upon earth? And because by baptism native pollution is taken away, therefore infants are baptized” (Homil. in Luke 14). Again: “For this cause it was that the church received a tradition from the apostles (παράδοσις ἀποστολική) to give baptism even to infants” (Comm. on Rom. lib. v, cap. 9). Neander (Ch. Hist. 1:514) depreciates this testimony, but without any real ground. On any ordinary subject it would be taken as decisive, at least as to the prevalence of infant baptism in Origen’s time, and long before. \
2. Tertullian (A.D. 160-240), in his treatise De Baptismo (c. 18), opposes infant baptism on the ground (1) “that it is too important; not even earthly goods are intrusted to infants;” (2) that “sponsors are imperilled by the responsibility they incur.” Tertullian adopted the superstitious idea that baptism was accompanied with the remission of all past sins, and that sins committed after baptism were peculiarly dangerous. He therefore advised that not merely infants, but young men and young women, and even young widows and widowers, should postpone their baptism until the period of their youthful appetite and passion should have passed. In short, he advised that, in all cases in which death was not likely to intervene, baptism be postponed until the subjects of it should have arrived at a period of life when they would be no longer in danger of being led astray by youthful lusts. And thus, for more than a century after the age of Tertullian, we find some of the most conspicuous converts to the Christian faith postponing baptism till the close of life. Further, if he could have said that infant baptism was “an innovation,” he would; no argument was surer or weightier in that age; and he constantly appeals to it on other subjects. All attempts to invalidate this testimony have failed. If any fact in history is certain, it is that infant baptism was practiced in Tertullian’s time, and long before. For the Baptist view, however, on this point, see an able article in the Christian Review, 16:510. See also Bibliotheca Sacra, 3, 680; v. 307.
3. Irenaeus (circ. A.D. 125-190) has the following passage (lib. 2, cap. 39): “Omnes venit per semetipsum salvare; omnes, inquam, qui per eum renascuntur in Deum, infantes et parvulos et pueros,” etc.; i.e. ‘ He came to save all by himself; all, I say, who, by him, are born again unto God, infants, and little children, and youth,” etc. All turns here on the meaning attached by Irenaeus to the word renasci; and this is clear from a passage (lib. 3, c. 19) in which he speaks of the Gospel commission. “When,” says he, “[Christ] gave this commission of regenerating to God [renasci], he said, ‘Go, teach all nations, baptizing them, etc.’“ Neander (whose loose admissions as to the entire question are eagerly made use of by Baptists) remarks of this passage that “it is difficult to conceive how the term regeneration can be employed in reference to this age (i.e. infancy), to denote any thing else than baptism” (Ch. Hist. 1:314).
4. Justin Martyr, who wrote his “Apology” about A.D. 138, declares that there were among Christians, in his time, “many persons of both sexes, some sixty and some seventy years old, who had been made disciples to Christ from their infancy” (ο‰ ἐκ παίδων ἐμαθητεύθησαν τῷ Χριστῷ, Apol. 2), and who must therefore have been baptized during the lifetime of some of the apostles. In his Trypho he says, “We are circumcised by baptism, with Christ’s circumcision.” If ἐκ παίδων means from infancy, which is probable, but not absolutely certain, this passage is conclusive.
These citations seem clearly to carry back the practice of infant baptism to a date very near the apostles’ time. If it were then “an innovation,” we should have had some indication of so great a change; but there is none. Up to the rise of the Anabaptists in the 16th century, the practice of infant baptism existed in the church without opposition, or with only here and there an occasional word of question.
(II.) At the present day the Greek Church, the Roman Church, and all Protestant churches (except the Baptists) hold to infant baptism. The usage rests on the following grounds (among others), viz.
1. If the practice of infant baptism prevailed at the early period above mentioned, and all history is silent as to the time of its introduction, and gives no intimation of any excitement, controversy, or opposition to an innovation so remarkable as this must have been had it been obtruded on the churches without apostolical authority, we may fairly conclude, even were Scripture silent on the subject, that infant baptism has invariably prevailed in the church as a new Testament institution.
2. From the very nature of the case, the first subjects of the baptism of Christ and his apostles were adults converted from Judaism or heathenism. But although there are no express examples in the New Testament of Christ and his apostles baptizing infants, there is no proof that they were excluded. Jesus Christ actually blessed little children; and it is difficult to believe that such received his blessing, and yet were not to be members of the Gospel church. If Christ received them, and would have us “receive”
them, how can we keep them out of the visible church? Besides, if children were not to be baptized, it is reasonable to expect that they would have been expressly forbidden. As whole households were baptized, it is also probable there were children among them.
3. Infants are included in Christ’s act of redemption, and are entitled thereby to the benefits and blessings of his church. Moreover, they are specifically embraced in the Gospel covenant. The covenant with Abraham, of which circumcision was made the sign and seal, is not to be regarded wholly nor even chiefly, as a political and national covenant. The engagement was,
(1.) That God would bless Abraham. This included justification, and the imputation of his faith for righteousness, with all spiritual blessings.
(2.) That he should be the father of many nations. This refers quite as much to his spiritual seed as to his natural descendants.
(3.) The promise of Canaan; and this included the higher promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb 11:9-10).
(4.) God would be “a God to Abraham and to his seed after him,” a promise connected with the highest spiritual blessing, and which included the justification of all believers in all nations. See Gal 3:8-9.
Now of this spiritual covenant, circumcision was the sign and the seal, and, being enjoined on all Abraham’s posterity, was a constant publication of God’s covenant grace among the descendants of Abraham, and its repetition a continual confirmation of that covenant. Baptism is, in like manner, the initiatory sign and seal of the same covenant, in its new and perfect form in Christ Jesus; otherwise the new covenant has no initiatory rite or sacrament. The argument that baptism has precisely the same federal and initiatory character as circumcision, and that it was instituted for the same ends, and in its place, is clearly established in several important passages of the New Testament. To these we can only refer (Col 2:10-12; Gal 3:27; Gal 3:29; 1Pe 3:21).
“The ultimate authority for infant baptism in the bosom of a regular Christian community and under a sufficient guarantee of pious education- for only on these terms do we advocate it — lies in the universal import of Christ’s person and work, which extends as far as humanity itself. Christ is not only able, but willing to save mankind of all classes, in all circumstances, of both sexes, and at all stages of life, and consequently to provide for all these the necessary means of grace (comp. Gal 3:28). A Christ able and willing to save none but adults would be no such Christ as the Gospel presents. In the significant parallel, Rom 5:12 sq., the apostle earnestly presses the point that the reign of righteousness and life is, in its divine intent and intrinsic efficacy, fully as comprehensive as the reign of sin and doubt, to which children among the rest are subject
— nay, far more comprehensive and availing; and that the blessing and gain by the second Adam far outweigh the curse and the loss by the first. When the Lord, after solemnly declaring that all power is given to him in heaven and earth, commands his apostles to make all nations disciples (μαθητεύειν) by baptism and instruction, there is not the least reason for limiting this to those of maturer age. Or do nations consist only of men, and not of youth also, and children? According to Psa 117:1, ‘all nations,’ and according to Psa 150:6, ‘every thing that hath breath,’ should praise the Lord; and that these include babes and sucklings is explicitly told us in Psa 8:2, and Mat 21:16. With this is closely connected the beautiful idea, already clearly brought out by Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp, and the faithful medium of the apostolical tradition descending from John’s field of labor-the idea that Jesus Christ became for children a child, for youth a youth, for men a man; and by thus entering into the various conditions and stages of our earthly existence, sanctified every period of life, infancy as well as manhood. The Baptist view robs the Savior’s infancy of its profound and cheering significance.” — Schaff, Apost. Ch., § 143.
(III.) The BAPTISTS reject infant baptism, and maintain that the ordinance is only to be administered to persons making a profession of faith in Christ. The arguments by which they seek to maintain this view are substantially as follows, viz.
1. The commission of Christ to the disciples (Mar 16:15-16) fixes instruction in the truths of the Gospel and belief in them as prerequisites to baptism.
2. The instances of baptism given in the N.T. are adduced as confirming this view. “Those baptized by John confessed their sins (Mat 3:6). The Lord Jesus Christ gave the command to teach and baptize
(Mat 28:19; Mar 16:15-16. At the day of Pentecost, they who gladly received the word were baptized, and they afterward continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship (Act 2:41-42; Act 2:47). At Samaria, those who believed were baptized, both men and women (Act 8:12). The eunuch openly avowed his faith (in reply to Philip’s statement, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest), and went down into the water and was baptized (Act 8:35; Act 8:39). Saul of Tarsus, after his sight was restored, and he had received the Holy Ghost, arose and was baptized (Act 9:17-18). Cornelius and his friends heard Peter, received the Holy Ghost, and were baptized (Act 10:44-48). Lydia heard Paul and Silas; the Lord opened her heart, and she was baptized, and her household.”
3. The Baptists farther assert that the N.T. affords no single example of infant baptism. They explain the baptisms of “households” by the assumption that none of their members were infants.
4. They argue that if infant baptism be a Christian ordinance, it must be expressly enjoined in Scripture, which is not the case.
5. They argue, finally, that as “Christian faith is a personal matter, its profession ought to be a matter of free conviction and choice, which cannot be the case with infants.” .
V. The Minister of Baptism. — The administration by baptism is a function of the ministerial office (Mat 28:16-20). But it is the general opinion, both of the Roman and Protestant churches, that the presence of an ordained minister is not absolutely essential to the ordinance, and that, in extreme cases, it is lawful for lay persons to baptize. At the present day, not only lay baptism, but baptism administered by heretics, schismatics, and even women, is held to be valid by the Greek and Roman churches. The Lutherans also hold the same view. Baptism by midwives was admitted by the Church of England in extreme cases down to the Great Rebellion. Not that it was believed that laymen have the right to baptize, but that, the baptism having been once performed, it is valid to such an extent that rebaptism is improper. (LAY).
VI. Repetition of Baptism. — In the third century the question arose whether the baptism of heretics was to be accounted valid, or whether a heretic who returned to the Catholic Church was to be rebaptized. In opposition to the usage of the Eastern and African churches, which was defended by Cyprian, the principle was established in the Roman Church under Stephen, that the right of baptism, if duly performed, was always valid, and its repetition contrary to the tradition of the church. In the next age Basil and Gregory of Nazianzen followed Cyprian’s view, but by the influence of Augustine the Roman view became the prevalent one; but the Donatists maintained that heretics must be rebaptized. (Hagenbach, Hist. of Doct. § 72 and 137, and references there). After the Reformation, the Roman Church, compelled by its old usage and principle, continued to acknowledge the validity of Protestant baptisms, while Protestants, in turn, admit the validity of Roman Catholic baptism.
VII. Sponsors or Godfathers. — Sponsors (called also godfathers and godmothers) are persons who, at the baptism of infants, answer for their future conduct, and solemnly promise that they will renounce the devil and all his works, and follow a life of purity and virtue; and by these means lay themselves under an indispensable obligation to instruct them and watch over their conduct. In the Roman Church the number of godfathers and godmothers is reduced to two; in the Church of England, to three; formerly the number was not limited. It is prohibited, in the Roman Church, to sponsors to marry their godchildren, or each other, or either parent of their godchild; nor may the baptizer marry the child baptized or its parent. The custom of having sponsors is not in use among the dissenting denominations in England, nor among the evangelical churches in America. The parents are held to be the proper persons to present their children for baptism, and to train them up afterward; indeed, while they live, no other persons can possibly take this duty from them. In the early church the parents were commonly the sponsors of infants. The duty of those who undertook the office of sponsor for adult persons was not to answer in their names, but to admonish and instruct them, both before and after baptism. In many churches this office was chiefly imposed upon the deacons and deaconesses. The only persons excluded from this office by the ancient Church were catechumens, energumens, heretics, and penitents; also persons not confirmed are excluded by some canons. Anciently one sponsor only was required for each person to be baptized, who was to be of the same sex as the latter in the case of adult persons; in the case of infants the sex was indifferent. The origin of the prohibition of sponsors marrying within the forbidden degrees of spiritual relationship appears to have been a law of Justinian, still extant in the Codex (lib. v, tit. 4, De Nuptiis, Leg. 26), which forbade a godfather to marry the woman for whom he had stood sponsor at baptism. The council in Trullo extended this prohibition to the marrying the mother of the baptized infant (can. 53); and it was subsequently carried to such an extent that the council of Trent (Sess. 24, De Reform. Matrimon. cap. 2) was compelled to relax it in some degree. — Bingham, 11, 8. .
VIII. Ceremonies, Places, and Times of Baptism. —
1. In the earlier ages of the Church there were several peculiarities in the mode of baptism which have now fallen into disuse, except, perhaps, in the Roman Catholic and Greek churches. Among there usages were trine immersion (i.e. dipping three times, once at the naming of each person in the Trinity, Tertull. Cont. Prax. 26), anointing with oil, giving milk and honey to the baptized person, etc. After the council of Nice, Christians added to baptism the ceremonies of exorcism and adjuration, to make evil spirits depart from the persons to be baptized. They made several signings with the cross, they used lighted candles, they gave salt to the baptized person to taste, and the priest touched his mouth and ears with spittle, and also blew and spat upon his face. At that time also baptized persons wore white garments till the Sunday following.
Three things were required of the catechumens immediately before their baptism:
(1.) A solemn renunciation of the devil;
(2.) A profession of faith in the words of some received creed; and
(3.) An engagement to live a Christian life. The form of renunciation is given in the Const. Apost. lib. 7, cap. 41.
The time of administering the rite was subject to various changes; at first it was without limitation. Soon Easter and Whitsuntide were considered the most appropriate seasons, and Easter-eve deemed the most sacred; afterward, Epiphany and the festivals of the apostles and martyrs were selected in addition. From the tenth century the observance of the stated seasons fell into disuse, and children were required to be baptized within a month of their birth (Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. 11, ch. 6; Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 19). .
Until the time of Justin Martyr there appears to have been no fixed place for baptism, which was administered wherever it best suited; but in after times baptisteries were built near the churches, in which alone baptism might be administered. Baptism was not permitted to be conferred in private houses without the bishop’s express license, and persons so baptized could never be received into priest’s orders (Council of Neocaesarea, Song of Solomon 2). Such private baptisms were called παραβαπτίσματα. Afterward the font appears to have been set up in the church porch, and thence was removed into the church itself. .
2. The following are the baptismal ceremonies of the Church of Rome, though not all of universal obligation:
(1.) The child is held without the Church, to signify an actual exclusion from heaven, which is symbolized by the Church.
(2.) The priest blows three times in the face of the child, signifying thereby that the devil can be displaced only by the Spirit of God.
(3.) The sign of the cross is made on the forehead and bosom of the child.
(4.) The priest, having exorcised the salt (to show that the devil, until God prevents, avails himself of every creature in order to injure mankind), puts it into the mouth of the infant, signifying by it that wisdom which shall preserve him from corruption.
(5.) The child is exorcised.
(6.) The priest touches his mouth and ears with saliva, pronouncing the word Ephphatha.
(7.) The child is unclothed, signifying the laying aside the old man.
(8.) He is presented by the sponsors, who represent the Church. (9.) The renunciation of the devil and his works is made.
(10.) He is anointed with oil.
(11.) The profession of faith is made.
(12.) He is questioned whether he will be baptized.
(13.) The name of some saint is given to him, who shall be his example and protector.
(14.) He is dipped thrice, or water is poured thrice on his head.
(15.) He receives the kiss of peace.
(16.) He is anointed on the head, to show that by baptism he becomes a king and a priest.
(17.) He receives the lighted taper, to mark that he has become a child of light.
(18.) He is folded in the alb, to show his baptismal purity (Elliott, Delineation of Romanism, 1:241). The practice of exorcising water for baptism is kept up in the Roman Church to this day. It exhibits a thoroughly pagan spirit. The following formula, taken from the Rituale Romananum, is used at the ceremony of exercising the water: “I exorcise thee, creature of water, by God + the living, by God + the true, by God + the holy; by God who, in the beginning, separated thee by a word from the dry land, whose Spirit over thee was borne, who from Paradise commanded thee to flow.” Then follows the rubric: “Let him with his hand divide the water, and then pour some of it over the edge of the font toward the four quarters of the globe, and then proceed thus: I exorcise thee also by Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who, in Cana of Galilee, changed thee by his wonderful power into wine; who walked upon thee on foot, and who was baptized in thee by John in Judaea, etc.; . . . that thou mayest be made water holy, water blessed, water which washes away our filth, and cleanses our guilty stain. Thee therefore I command — every foul spirit — every phantasm — every lie — be thou eradicated, and put to flight from the creature of water; that, to those who are to be baptized in it, it may become a fountain of water springing up into life eternal, regenerating them to God the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, in the name of the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall come again to judge the living and the dead, and the whole world by fire, Amen.” Then follows a prayer, in which the priest supplicates the Almighty to send down the “ANGEL OF SANCTITY” over the waters thus prepared for the purpose of purification. Afterward the rubric directs that “he shall BLOW THREE TIMES upon the water, in three different directions, according to a prescribed figure Ψ. In the next place, he is to deposit the incense upon the censer, and to incense the font. Afterward, pouring of the Oil of the Catechumens into the water after the form of a CROSS, he says, with a laud voice, Let this font be sanctified, and made fruitful-by the Oil of salvation for those who are born again thereby unto life eternal in the name of the Father +, and of the Son +, and of the Holy Ghost +, Amen.” Then follows another rubric: “Next, he pours in of the CHRISM after the manner above mentioned, saying, Let this infusion of the Chrism of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, be made in the name of the sacred Trinity, Amen.” Again: “Afterward he takes the two vessels of the before-mentioned holy Oil and Chrism, and in pouring from each in the form of a Cross, he says, Let this mixture of the Chrism of Sanctification, of the Oil of Unction, and of the Water of Baptism, be made together in the name of the Father +, and of the Son +, and of the Holy Ghost +, Amen.” Finally, the rubric again directs as follows: “Then the vessel being put aside, he mingles with his right hand the holy Oil and the infused Chrism with the water, and sprinkles it all over the font. Then he swipes his hand upon (what is termed) medulla panis; and if any one is to be baptized, he baptizes him as above. But if there is no one to be baptized, he is forthwith to wash his hands, and the water of ablution must be poured out into the sacrarium (see Rit. Romans p. 58. — Elliott, Delineation of Romanism,, bk. 2, ch. 2).
3. The ceremonies of baptism in the Protestant churches are: generally very simple, consisting, as has been said, in the application of water, by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Ritual services are fixed in the Church of England, and the same (or nearly the same) are used in the Protestant Episcopal Church in America (see Prayer-book, Ministration of Baptism). The same forms, omitting the sign of the cross, and those parts which imply baptismal regeneration (ex opere) and the use of sponsors, is used in the Methodist Episcopal Church (Discipline, pt. 4, ch. 1). The Presbyterian Church prescribes no complete ritual, but gives certain rules in the Directory for Worship, ch. 7. The Reformed Dutch Church prescribes a simple and scriptural form (Constitution of R. D. Church, ed. Mentz, p. 93). The German Reformed Church admits sponsors, but they must be “in full communion with some Christian church (Constitution, pt. iv); and a form approaching to that of the Methodist Episcopal Church is given in the Provisional Liturgy of 1858, p. 204. The Lutheran Church prescribes forms of baptism (Liturgy, § 4), and admits sponsors, who may be the parents of the child.
The sign of the cross is used in baptism in the Greek and Roman churches, and in the Church of England; it is optional in the Protestant Episcopal Church. .
IX. Works on Baptism. — The literature of the subject is very ample. Besides the works cited in the course of this article, and the writers on systematic theology, see Baxter, Plain Proof of Infants’ Church Membership (1656); Wall, History of Infant Baptism, with Gale’s Reflections and Wall’s Defence, edited by Cotton (Oxford, 1836 and 1844, 4 vols. 8vo); Matthies, Baptismatis Expositio Bibl. — Hist. — Dogmatica (Berlin, 1831, 8vo); Lange, Die Kisnerstaufe (Jena, 1834, 8vo); Walch, Historia Paedobaptismi (Jenae, 1739); Williams, Antipaedobaptism examined (1789, 2 vols. 12mo); Facts and Evidences on Baptism, by the editor of Calmet’s Dictionary (London, 1815, 2 vols. 8vo; condensed into one vol., entitled Apostolic Baptism, N. Y. 1850, 12mo); Towgood, Dissertations on Christian Baptism (Lond. 1815, 12mo); Ewing, Essay on Baptism (Glasgow, 1823); Bradbury, Duty and Doctrine of Baptism (Lond. 1749, 8vo); Woods, Lectures on Infant Baptism (Andover, 1829, 12mo); Slicer, On Baptism (N.Y. 1841, 12mo); Wardlaw, Dissertation on Infant Baptism (Lond. 12mo); Neander, History of Doctrines, 1:229 sq.; Beecher, Baptism, its Import and Modes (N. Y. 1849, 12mo); Coleridge, Works (N. Y. ed., v. 187); Hibbard, Christiano Baptism, its Subjects, Mode, and Obligation (N. Y. 1845, 12mo); Hofling, Sacrament der Taufe (Erlang. 1846, 2 vols.); Rosser, Baptism, its Nature, Obligation, etc. (Richmond, 1853, 12mo); Gibson, The Fathers on Nature and Effects of Baptism (Lond. 1854); Cunningham, Reformers and Theology of Reformation, Essay v; Summers, On Baptism (Richmond, 1853, 12mo); Hall, Law of Baptism (N. Y. 1846, 12mo); Studien u. Kritiken, 1861, p. 219; Litton, On the Church, 243 sq. One of the best tracts on infant baptism is Dr. Miller’s, No. VIII of the Tracts of the Presbyterian Board. On early history, doctrines, and usages, Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 19; Schaff, Apostolical Church, § 142; Palmer, Origines Liturgicae, 2:166 sq.; Procter On Common Prayer,’ 361 sq.; Mosheim, Commentaries; Dorner, Doctrine of the Person of Christ, 1:168 sq.
On the Baptist side: Gale, Reply to Wall (bound in Cotton’s edition of Wall); Booth, Apology fu the Baptists (Works, vol. 51); Booth, Paedobaptism Examined (Lond. 1829, 3 vols. 8vo); Gill, Divine Right of Infant Baptism and other Essays (in “Collection of Sermons and Tracts,” Lond. 1773, 2 vols. 4to); Hinton, History of Baptism (Philippians 1849, 12mo); Robinson, History of Baptism (Lond. 1790, and later editions, 4to); Carson, Baptism in its Mode and Objects (Lond. 1844, 8vo; Phila. 5th ed. 1857, 8vo); Noel, Essay on Christian Baptism (N. Y. 1850, 12mo); Orchard, Concise History of Foreign Baptists, etc. (Lond. 1838); Curtis, Progress of Baptist Principles (Boston, 1856); Pengilly, Scripture Guide to Baptism (Phila. 1849, 12mo); J. T. Smitti, Arguments for Infant Baptism examined (Phila. 1850, 12mo); Haynes, The Baptist Denomination (N. Y. 1856, 12mo); Jewett On Baptism (Bapt. Pub. Soc.); Conant, Meaning and Use of Baptizein (N. Y. 1860, 4to)……
(from παῖς, παιδός, a child, and βαπτισμός, baptism) is applied to the baptism of children or infants in the Christian Church, or what is popularly termed infant baptism. Under the general subject of baptism, it is that part which relates especially to the proper subjects of baptism.
I. Historical View of the Introduction and Prevalence of Infant Baptism. — The early history of this, as of any other Christian rite, involves, naturally and necessarily, two things: — the idea expressed in the rite, and the rite itself. Each of these must be traced in its historical connection, since, a rite or ordinance is the outgrowth of some idea which it is intended to symbolize. In this instance, the rite is the application of water in a certain way to a child; the idea is a certain relation of children to the Church, namely, that the children of Christian parents, by virtue of their parentage, are brought into such a relation to the Church that they are regarded as in a certain sense within its membership, i.e. just as there is a visible and invisible Church, so there should be recognised a visible and invisible membership; the former being acquired by actual public admission after profession, the latter being acquired by virtue of the descent, and holding good only until the persons enjoying such a membership reach the age of independent action, when it becomes of non- effect unless supplemented by the visible connection. Those entitled to invisible membership are consequently recognised by the Church as fit candidates for baptism, and therefore the rite is administered by the Church when asked for. This historical view of the idea and the rite in the early Church will naturally be taken by two periods — the New Testament or apostolic period, and the period of the fathers.
1. The Idea and the Rite in the New Testament.
(a) The religion of the New Testament is historically, organically, and spiritually connected with the religion of the Old Testament, through the birth, the person, the position, the teaching, and the life and death of Christ. Christ was a Jew, “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” He came “not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil.” Many of the religious ideas which Christ proclaimed and fulfilled have their roots in the Old Testament. The idea which is necessarily involved in infant baptism is plainly a prominent one in the Old Testament, in this form, that the children of Jewish parents were members of the religious organization of the Jewish people. The whole people, as the seed of Abraham, were a divinely constituted religious organization. The nation felt itself to be a religious organization in covenant with God. This caused what we call Church and State to be one, making a theocracy, in which what corresponds to Church and to State with us actually existed, though in union. They were “a Church in the form of a nation.” It is a historical fact that infant children of Jewish parents were regarded as members of this religious, national organization by virtue of their parentage. The conception of the family in the Old Testament brought children within the covenant which God made with Abraham and his family, and which was continued with all the families of his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, when they became a nation. As a sign of this covenant the children were circumcised.
This idea of the family, bearing so plainly in the Old Testament the mark of divine origin and approval, appears also in the New Testament, and, in the transitional fulfilment of the Old Testament in the religion of Christ, it passed into Christianity and the Christian Church also. It appears at first, of course, because John the Baptist and Christ and his apostles were Jews, and were circumcised in accordance with the old Jewish idea and custom. In the very persons of Christ and his apostles themselves this idea was illustrated in their families, and as they grew up it would naturally become a part of the system of opinions which would be formed by their Jewish education. After the baptism of Jesus, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him, and after the day of Pentecost, when the apostles were under the full enlightenment of the Holy Ghost, we do not find this idea rejected explicitly as an unauthorized tradition of the elders, but implied in their actions and utterances, though it had been perverted.
As evidence of this, Paedobaptist writers refer to the following incidents and utterances: In Mat 19:1-15, the evangelist has brought together two incidents touching family relations in the kingdom of heaven, as Christ viewed them. One relates to husband and wife, the other to children. In Christ’s blessing little children and saying, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven,” the chief idea present, especially in Mark and Luke, is its illustration of the true Christian disposition. But, at the same time, in .the bringing of the children to him by the mothers, the chief idea on their part is that of some peculiar good coming to their children by persons of saintly character or of high ecclesiastical position putting their hands upon them and blessing them. So thought they of Jesus. In his act and in his words there is a response on his part to this belief of theirs, and in this response there is a recognition, strongly apparent in Matthew, of a peculiar position of children as such in the kingdom of heaven. Calvin well remarks, “Tam parvuli, quam eorum similes.” It is a manifestation, on the part of those bringing them, of the long-prevalent idea of children as a part of the theocracy, and Christ recognises it in his kingdom of heaven. Its bearing upon infant baptism lies chiefly in the fact that in this symbolical action of Christ we have a recognition of a principle that is also the basis of baptism. Says Meyer, in his Commentary upon Matthew, “this blessing is a justification of infant baptism.” The language of Jesus regarding Zaccheeus contains the same conception of the family as a whole participating in salvation through its head: “This day is salvation come to his house (οἴκῳ, “the family of this house,” Meyer), forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Similar also is his language in his directions to his disciples (Mat 10:12-15): “And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it” (comp. Lange, ad loc.). This peculiar theocratic and religious relationship of children, or of posterity in general, if this be assumed as the true sense, suggests doubtless Peter’s expression (Act 2:39), For the promise is unto you and to your children.”
Again he says, in rehearsing the words of the angel to Cornelius (Act 11:14): “Who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” In the same way Paul and Silas say to the jailer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Act 16:31). Later than this, in the time of Paul’s epistles, when the Church was more fully organized, most commentators are of opinion that this peculiar relationship of children to Christ and to the Church is contained in Paul’s language in his epistles. Thus in Eph 6:1, when he says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord,” as Alford says, “he regards both parents and children as in the Lord” — that is, as being within the sphere of that peculiar fellowship with Christ which this so frequent phrase signifies. This at least is certainly implied, while most commentators think that the reference here is really to baptized children, and that the apostle regards them as belonging to the Church. So Braune and Riddle in Lange, Hofmann, Stier, Schaff, and others. Meyer rejects any reference to baptism, but considers the passage to contain this peculiar relationship of Christian parents and their children: “The children of Christians, even without baptism, were ἃγιοι (see 1Co 7:14; Act 16:15) through their vital fellowship with their Christian parents” (Com. ib. Eph.). In 1Co 7:14, this idea is very plainly expressed. There Paul says that the children of parents of which only one is a believer are holy and not unclean-that is, they “are not outside of the theocratic fellowship and divine covenant; they do not belong to the unholy κόσμος” (Meyer).
They are ἃγιοι, holy-that is, not subjectively sanctified, but consecrated, standing within the fellowship and covenant of the Christian body, just as children under the old Jewish religion were within the fellowship and covenant of the divinely constituted Jewish body. This results: from the union which exists by birth and in the family life between the children and their Christian parents. They are thus included in the fellowship of the Church in a certain real sense, and that without any personal holiness or faith on their part. The manner in which the apostle uses this in his argument shows that it was the established, universally acknowledged view among them at the time. It is, in fact, the conception and relation which existed under the Jewish economy continued in the New-Testament Church. While touching upon this passage, we may notice its value as evidence of the actual practice of infant baptism at the time. Meyer, Kling, and some other modern German writers find in it evidence more or less strong against such practice in the apostolic Church. It is said by Meyer that “if the baptism of children had been in existence, Paul would not have argued as he did, because then the ἁγιότης of the children of believers would have had another ground” — that is, baptism itself, instead of their descent and fellowship in the family. But to this it is replied that it reverses the relation between the rite and the ἁγιότης, or holiness. The Jewish child was circumcised because he was holy, not to make him holy; and if children were baptized at the time, it was because they were holy, or consecrated by their birth in the believing family, not to make them holy; so that, even though children were baptized, their baptism would not be the ground of their holiness, and hence would not be used by Paul in his argument. It may, indeed, be justly said, as does Kling in Lange, that “had such a practice existed. it would be fair to presume that the apostle would have alluded to it here. That he did not affords some reason for concluding that the rite did not exist.” But with a true view of the ground and purpose of the argument the reason for such a conclusion becomes much weaker than might otherwise appear. In further proof of the prevalence in the apostolic Church of the idea upon which infant baptism is based, it is evident from Act 21:21, that Jewish Christians in Paul’s time circumcised their children, and probably also for some time after him. Paul in all probability did not oppose it; and the charge brought against him of teaching that they ought not to circumcise their children was “certainly false” (Meyer).
It thus appears from the thought and language of the New Testament that the idea of the peculiar covenant relationship of children of believing parents, so prominent in the Old Testament from Abraham to Christ, passed into the conception of Christianity which Christ and the apostles have given us. The family was an organic unity; the family, as a family, through its head came into the religious organization of the Jews as they stood in covenant with God; the children were members of it at birth, and participators, according to their capacity as they grew up, in the blessings of the covenant which God had made with them. The theocracy of the Old Testament corresponds in its religious ideas and life, and in its organization and rites, with the Church of the New Testament. The Church of Christ is essentially the fulfilment and continuation of the theocracy of the Old Testament. They are one and the same Church. This connection, continuation, and fulfilment are expressed in the genealogies of the New Testament, in Christ’s language, as in the Sermon on the Mount, and in Paul’s writings, especially in the epistles to the Romans and Galatians, in which he insists on the fulfilment and continuance among believers in Christ of the Abrahamic covenant. Accordingly the family came, as a family could, into that form of the Church which succeeded under Christ, the Messiah. Formerly the children were circumcised as a sign and seal of this fact; subsequently, when baptism became the sign of entrance into the Church, and circumcision fell into disuse, the children would be baptized. This correspondence between circumcision and baptism is mentioned by Paul, Col 2:11-12, in which passage, “buried with him in baptism” (Col 2:12) is explanatory of “ye are circumcised,” and of “the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11) (Meyer) and the citations there made from Justin Martyr, evidently alluding to this passage of Paul, and from Tertullian and others of the fathers, showing that this was their understanding of the New Testament in regard to the relation of the two rites. Whether, therefore, in the instances of baptism recorded in the New Testament, children were actually baptized or not, its language clearly contains the idea and principle from which the practice so soon originated, and upon which it is based in the evangelical churches to-day.
(b) We come now to consider the evidence in the New Testament of the actual baptism of children, of the actual performance of the rite, which is a sign and seal of the idea and fact. Excluding the baptisms by John the Baptist, we have eleven particular instances of baptism mentioned, namely, of two individuals at different times:
 the eunuch (Act 8:38);  Saul (Act 9:18); then households explicitly mentioned:  Lydia “and her household” (Act 16:15);  the jailer “and all his” (Act 16:33);  “the household of Stephanas” (1Co 1:16); the remaining instances are:  Crispus and Gaius (1Co 1:14);  “many of the Corinthians” (Act 18:8);  Cornelius and those with him (Act 10:48);  “they that gladly received his word” (Act 2:41) on the day of Pentecost;  “both men and women” by Philip in Samaria (Act 8:12);  certain disciples who had been baptized “unto John’s baptism” (Act 19:5).
In the first two instances there could have been no children. In the next three the baptism of “a household” is explicitly mentioned, the phrase “all his” being synonymous with household. In the case of Crispus, Paul says (1Co 1:14) that he baptized him; and in Act 18:8, it is said that “he believed on the Lord with all his house.” We have in this instance the inclusion of the household or family with its head in their belief, at least, and most probably they were baptized as the household of Stephanas was. Of Cornelius it is said (Act 10:2) that he was “one that feared God with all his house.” It is not probable that infant children were among the company gathered together to hear Peter speak, nor can we say it is probable that on the occasion of the immediate baptism of those who “heard the word,” and upon whom “the Holy Ghost fell,” that children were baptized. But this new religious relation of Cornelius would take his house with him, according to the universal conception, as it had done in his devotion to Judaism; and as we have express mention of the baptism of households, as if it were a common custom, it follows with great probability that if there were children in this family, they were baptized, and that it was an instance of “household baptism,” as assumed by Schaff (Apost. Church, p. 571).
Peter’s language on the day of Pentecost has already been noticed in its bearing upon the idea connected with the rite. It has some force also as evidence of the actual practice of infant baptism, from the fact of its being part of an exhortation “to repent and be baptized.” In the remaining two instances, of the baptism of “men and women” by Philip, and of the disciples of John the Baptist, there is no implication of the faith or baptism of a family. We have then three instances certainly, and most probably five, out. of eleven instances of baptism in the New Testament, in which households or families were baptized. That οικος and οἰκία and οἱ αὐτοῦ πάντες include children in their general meaning there is no question. That there certainly were children in any of these families cannot be asserted it is only a probability, but in the nature of the case a very strong one, amounting almost to certainty. And when “we reflect that the mention of these households, with nothing to intimate that their baptism was strange or exceptional, implies the baptism of other households besides those mentioned, the question of Bengel expresses no more than the real strength of probability: “Who can believe that in so many families not one infant was found, and that the Jews, accustomed to circumcision, and Gentiles to the lustration of infants, should not have also brought them to baptism?” Conybeare and Howson say, “We cannot but think it almost demonstratively proved that infant baptism was the practice of the apostles.” So Lange, Hodge, Schaff, and others.
(c) The presence of the idea or principle upon which infant baptism is grounded, we may say, is an indisputable fact in the New Testament; the evidence of the actual practice of infant baptism can only be said to amount to a very strong probability or a moral certainty. All Baptists assert that there is no ground for this probability. Some eminent historians and critics. also, who are nevertheless paedobaptist in principle, declare that the evidence is against the practice in apostolic times. Thus Neander (Plant. and Training, p. 162) says, “It is in the highest degree probable that the practice of infant baptism was unknown at this period.” Meyer also remarks (Con. uber die Apostelgesch. p. 361) that there is no trace of infant baptism to be found in the New Testament. But it is to be noted that while these eminent scholars do not find sufficient evidence of. the actual practice of the rite in the New Testament history, yet both affirm that the conception of the family there actually present was the idea from which it naturally grew, or which logically and historically justifies it. Neander, for example, in speaking of 1Co 7:14, says, “In the point of view here taken by Paul, we find (although it testifies against the existence at that time of infant baptism) the fundamental idea from which the practice was afterwards developed, and by which it must be justified to agree with Paul’s sentiments: an intimation of the pre-eminence belonging to children born in a Christian community; of the consecration for the kingdom of God thereby granted them, and of an immediate sanctifying influence which would communicate itself to their earliest development” (Plant. and Train. p. 164). Similarly Kling in Lange, Com. on Corinthians, and Meyer.
We should observe that certain circumstances of the time would affect the practice itself, and the mention of it in historical records. Christianity being preached as a new faith, or as a renewal or revolution of an old faith, it must begin mainly with adults; the work of spreading it would be missionary work, and baptism of adults would be most important and most numerous. It was characteristic of Christians to insist with emphasis upon a living, personal faith in their converts, in contrast to the formal, perverted faith in Abrahamic descent among the Jews, and a formal, superstitious faith among the Gentiles. This makes it appear in most instances as if this personal adult faith were the indispensable condition of entering into the Church in any way, and of baptism. Again, Jewish Christians, as we have noticed, continued to circumcise their children; and although baptism and circumcision were regarded, as we have. seen, as analogous, and as having the same signification, yet there would naturally be some time before this would take full possession of the Jewish mind, and it would be some time also before baptism would entirely supersede circumcision. Further, the idea in accordance with which children would be baptized was so thoroughly inwrought into Jewish thought, and passed so naturally into the thought of the New Testament, that we should not expect to find either the idea or the rite spoken of with that prominence and explicitness which would certainly have been the case had they been something new.
2. Historical Testimony in the Post-Apostolic Church. — The first unquestionably explicit reference to infant baptism in Christian literature occurs in Tertullian’s De Baptismo, written about A.D. 202. That this at least is such a reference is universally allowed by Baptists themselves in opposing the practice. Earlier fathers, whose writings are quoted as testifying to infant baptism, are Justin Martyr and Irenseus; but it is disputed by opponents of paedobaptism that the passages quoted imply its existence. In the doubtful and scanty remains of other early writers, as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, the epistles of Ignatius and of Clement of Rome, there are no references to the baptism of children. This silence is looked upon by Baptists as evidence that the practice was unknown; by Paedobaptists as evidence that infant baptism was so generally accepted as not to have been disputed at the time. We present in what follows the passages from Justin Martyr, Irenmus, and Tertullian.
Justin Martyr (born about A.D. 100, died A.D. 166), in his First Apology for the Christians, addressed to the emperor Antoninus Pius, written about A.D. 138, says; “Many persons among us of both sexes, some sixty, some’ seventy years old, who were discipled to Christ from childhood (οἵ ἐκ παίδων ἐμαθητεύθησαν τῷ Χριστῷ), continue uncorrupted.” Ε᾿κ παίδων may mean from very early childhood, or from infancy, as in Mat 2:16, “from two years old and under.” The phrase “were discipled” is the one used by Christ in connection with the word baptizing in the commission in Mat 28:19, the participle βαπτίζοντες expressing the means by which they were made disciples (Meyer, Lange, Alford, Schaff). If, as is most probable, baptism continued to be implied as the means of the μαθητεύειν, then the persons spoken of must have been baptized as παῖδες, perhaps as infants, and that too in the time of some of the apostles. Allusion has already been made to Justin Martyr’s association of circumcision and baptism. Writing at so short an interval after the apostles, his association of the two is strong evidence that they were regarded as corresponding in the apostolic Church, as indicated in Col 2:11-12, and evidence that baptism was performed upon children as circumcision had been. In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, § 29, he says, “What then is circumcision to me, who have a testimony from God? what is the use of that baptism to one that is baptized with the Holy Ghost?” Also § 43: “We have not received that circumcision which is according to the flesh, but a spiritual circumcision; and we have received it by baptism.” In § 61 of his Apology, he explains to the emperor “the manner in which we have consecrated ourselves to God.” This is an account of baptism, and apparently of adult baptism only. This would lead us to think that infant baptism was not common, but the omission of allusion to it in the account does not give us reason to assert that it was not practiced.
Irenaeus (about A.D. 125-190), a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John, in his Adversus Hoereses, lib. 2, 22, 4, says: “Omnnes enim yenit per semet ipsum salvare; omnes, inquam, qui per eum renascuntur in Denum, infantes, et parvulos, et pueros, et juvenes, et seniores” (For he came to save all by himself; all, I say, who through him are born again unto God-infants, and little children, and boys, and old men). The testimony of Irenmeus depends upon the meaning of renascuntur in Deum. Paedobaptist writers affirm that lie includes baptism in the meaning as a part of the means by which they are born again; for not only with Ireneus, but with Justin Martyr and others of the fathers, baptism is connected with regeneration as having some mystical, magical, or spiritual agency in effecting it. It is the beginning of baptismal regeneration, resulting from their interpretation of Joh 3:5, “Except a man be, born of water and of the Spirit,” and Tit 3:5, “the washing of regeneration.” So inseparably associated with regeneration had baptism become; that the word regeneration almost always, included it. Regeneration had come to mean commonly that change which takes place in and through baptism. In proof of baptism being alluded to in the passage quoted, reference is made to another, Adv. Haer. 3, 17, 1: “Et iterum potestatem regenerationis in Deum dans discipulis, dicebat iis, ‘Euntes docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti’“ (Giving them the power of regeneration to God, he said to them, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them, etc.). Again, 3, 18: “Baptismus tribuit regenerationem” (Baptism imparts regeneration). He used also the phrases “baptism of regeneration,” and “bath of regeneration.” The conclusion seems to be well founded that Irenaeus in the phrase quoted refers to baptism in speaking of the regeneration of infants. Neander admits no trace of infant baptism earlier than this father, and on this passage remarks, “It is difficult to conceive how the term regeneration can be employed in reference to this age (i.e. infancy), to denote anything else than baptism.” The Baptist view of this passage may be seen in the following extract from an article by the Rev. Irah Chase, D.D., in the Bibliotheca Sacra, November, 1849: “According to Irenaeus, Christ, in becoming incarnate, and thus assuming his mediatorial work, brought the human families into a new relation under himself, and placed them in a condition in which they can be saved. In this sense he is the Saviour of all. He became, so to speak, a second Adam, the regenerator of mankind. Through him they are regenerated unto God (‘per eum renascuntur in Deum’).” Comp. also the Christian Review, June, 1838. But, though this may have been a view of Irenseus, the preponderance of critical opinion is very decidedly in favor of the view that this term in the passage in question, and generally, includes baptism in its meaning.
Tertullian (A.D. 160-240), in his De Baptismo, has, as we have already mentioned, an unmistakable reference to infant baptism as being practiced, which very few Baptist writers are disposed to dispute. This treatise was written A.D. 202. The reference is as follows, in c. 18: “Itaque pro cujusque personae conditione ac dispositione, etiam’aetate, cunctatio baptismi’utilior est: prsecipue tamen circa parvulos. Quid enim necesse est, sponsores etiam periculo ingeri? quia et ipsi per mortalitatem destituere promissiones suas possunt et proventu malse indolis falli. Ait quidem Dominus: Nolite illos prohibere ad me venire (Mat 19:14), veniant ergo, dum adolescunt, veniant dam discunt, dum, quo veniant, docentur; fiant Christiani quum Christum nosse potuerint. Quid festinat innocens aetas ad remissionem peccatorum?” (Therefore, according to every one’s condition and disposition, and also their age, the delaying of baptism is more profitable, especially in the case of little children. For what need is there that the godfathers should be brought into danger? because they may either fail of their promises by death, or they may be deceived by a child’s proving of a wicked disposition. Our Lord says, indeed, “Do not forbid them to come to me;” therefore let them come when they are grown up; let them come when they understand, when they are instructed whither they are to come. Let them become Christians when they are able to know Christ. Why should their innocent age make haste to the forgiveness of sin?) Tertullian thus advocates the delay of baptism in general, and in the case of little children especially. But he speaks of their baptism in such a way as to imply that it was a common practice to baptize them as well as others. It is to be noted that he does not oppose the baptism of infants on the ground of its being an innovation, and not of apostolic origin, but on the ground of its not being profitable or expedient. If he could have spoken of it as an innovation, it is quite certain from the nature of the case, and from his frequent use of this argument in other matters, that he would have done so. If it was a frequent practice at that time, it must have been practiced at least some time before, and must have been regarded as legitimately involved in apostolic teaching and tradition.
From the time of Tertullian’s De Baptismo, references to the baptism of children are frequent and unequivocal, establishing the fact that it was a recognised rite in the Church at the time, and was a common though not universal practice. Origen (A.D. 185-253) was himself baptized soon after his birth, and in his homily on Luke 14 he makes this statement, “Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins.” He also expressly asserts that “the Church derived from the apostles a tradition to give baptism even to infants.” Tertullian’s opposition seems to have had but little influence. Cyprian, a pupil of Tertullian mentions and advocates infant baptism’. The practice of it is also spoken of by Ambrose, Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzen, Augustine; and others. From this time until the rise of a sect called the Petrobrusians in France, about A.D. 1130, it existed in the Church without question. This sect opposed infant baptism because infants, as they said, were incapable of salvation. They maintained themselves, however, only about thirty years; and we hear of no body of men rejecting infant baptism until the rise of the German Antipsedo baptists, A.D. 1522.
The basis of infant baptism, when it appears in the age succeeding the apostles, seems not to have been so much the organic unity of the family, and the participation of children in the covenant relations with their parents, as the belief in the efficacy of baptism to cleanse from sin and to insure the regeneration of the child.
II. Literature. — Richard Baxter, Plain Scripture Proof of Infants Church Membership and Baptism (1656); Wall, History of Infant Baptism, with Gale’s Reflections and Wall’s Defence, edited by Cotton (Oxford, 1836 and 1844, 4 vols.); Lange, Die kindertaufe (Jena, 1834); Walch, Historia Paedobaptismi (ibid. 1739); Williams, Antipaedoboptism Examined (1789, 2 vols.); Dr. Leonard Woods, Works (Boston, 1851), vol. iii; Wardlaw, Dissertation on Infant Baptism (London); J.W. F. Hofling, Das Sakrament der Taufe (Erlangen, 1846, 2 vols.); W. Goode, Efects of Infant Baptism (1851); Edwin Hall, The Law of Baptism (Presb. Pub. Com., Phila.); F. G. Hibbard, Christian Baptism, its Subjects, Mode, and Oblgation (New York, 1845); Rev. Philippe Wolfe, Baptism, the Covenant and the Family (Boston, 1862); Rev. Edward Williams, Practical Reflections on Baptism (Charlottetown, P. E. Island, 1863); Rev. I. Murray, Baptism, its Mode and Subjects (Cavendish, P. E. Island, 1869); S. M. Merrill, Christian Baptism, its Suijects and Mode; H. Martensen, Die christliche Taufe und die baptistische Frage (Hamb. 1843); Dr. H. Bushnell, Christian Nurture (New York, 1868); Rev. N. Doane, Infant Baptism briefly Considered (ibid. 1875); Gray, Authority for Infant Baptism (Halifax, 1837); Rev. H. D. Wickham, Synopsis of the Doctrine of Baptism to the End of the Fourth Century (Lond. 1850). On Origen on infant baptism, see Jour. of Sac. Lit. 1853; Christian Review (Dr. Chase), 1854; Amer. Presb. and Theol. Rev. 1865; Presb. Qu. and Princeton Rev. October, 1873; Southern Presb. Rev. 1873; Amer. Presb. and Theol. Rev. 1867, p. 239, “Irenueus and Infant Baptism.”
Against Paedobaptism: Gale, Reply to Wall (see above); Booth, Paedobaptism Examined (Lond. 1829 3 vols.); Hinton, History of Baptism (Phila. 1849); Carson, Baptism in its Mode and Subjects (Lond. 1844; 5th ed. Phila. 1857); Pengilly, Scripture Guide tb Baptism (Phila. 1849); John Gill, Infant Baptism, a Part and Pillar of Popery (Phila. Amer. Bapt. Pub. Soc.); J. Torrey Smith, The New Testament and Historical Arguments for Infant Baptism Examined (Phila. do.); The Covenant of Circumcision Considered in Relation to Christian Baptism (ibid.); The Baptist Quarterly, Jan. 1869; Difficulties of Infant Baptism.
See also the works cited by Malcom, Theological Index, s.v. Infant Baptism.