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Q. Is there any reason to believe that these points are capable of being proved ?
Q. Will you state the reasons why you believe immersion is not essential to baptism?
A. With pleasure, in the following sections.
Not one of the Inspired Writers has said that IMMERSION is
ESSENTIAL TO BAPTISM. Q. Has any one of the inspired writers ever said, that immersion is necessary to constitute Christian baptism; so essential, that without it there is no baptism?
A. No: as the exclusive immersionists have never, and can never, produce the passage from the Bible, which expressly asserts that immersion is necessary to baptism.
Q. Has the Holy Ghost, then, by express declaration, restricted baptism to immersion ? A. No.
Q. Has this fact an important bearing on the subject in question ?
A. Yes: as it shows, that all the evidence in favour of exclusive immersion is only inferential.
Q. Would you suppose this to be the case, from the mode in which the advocates of exclusive immersion generally speak on the subject?
A. From the confident manner in which they speak, I should suppose, that their evidence from the Scriptures was not at all inferential, but of a strictly positive character ; indeed, that the word of God has in express terms RESTRICTED baptism to immersion.
Q. When they speak thus confidently, what course would you advise to be pursued ?
A. Just ask them to show, “ Thus saith the Lord,” or the plain and positive declaration of any one of the inspired writers, in support of their opinion ; and it will be found, that, instead of producing such a declaration, they have to betake themselves to a kind of proof altogether inferential, thus leaving the inferential proof open to investigation.
In no one place has any one of the inspired writers EXPRESSLY
SAID, that any one person, when BAPTIZED, was IMMERSED, or PLUNGED UNDER WATER, by another."
Q. Has any one of the inspired writers ever said, in express terms, that any one person, when baptized, was totally immersed, or plunged under water, by another?
A. It is said, that persons were baptized; but never, that they were totally immersed, or plunged under water.
Q. In case a person should say, that there is an express declaration, to the effect, that individuals, when baptized, were totally immersed, what would
do ? A. I would ask him to produce the passage; which I know can never be done.
Q. How, then, must the manner, in which the actual baptisms, mentioned in the New Testament, were performed, be determined ?
A. Whether they were performed by immersion, or by sprinkling or pouring, must be determined by circumstances.
IMMERSION is not calculated for UNIVERSAL PRACTICE.
A. No. There are circumstances in which persons may be placed when immersion would be impracticable. Q. Will
mention some of these circumstances ? A. For instance : it would be impossible to immerse the inhabitants of a desert, or of a besieged city, within whose precincts there was no collection of water, or of certain countries, in the time of great drought, or of the more northern regions, during the severity of the winter season. Nor could the ordinance be performed by immersion with respect to a person on a sick or death bed.
Q. What do you infer from these circumstances ?
A. That the God of wisdom, who has commanded his Ministers to baptize all nations, has not restricted baptism to immersion ; a mode which is not calculated for universal practice, which, in fact, cannot be practised in circumstances in which sprinkling or pouring is perfectly feasible.
The Greek words BaptizO, BAPTISMA, used by the inspired
writers in reference to BAPTISM, do not signify immersion
Q. What Greek word is used in the New Testament in reference to the ordinance in question ? † A. Baptizo, with its inflexions and derivations.
Q. Is baptizo a primitive word, underived from another? A. No: it is a derivative from bapto.
Q. How does this circumstance affect the meaning of the word baptizo?
A. “Baptizo is a derivative, terminating in izo, and therefore, according to grammarians, a diminutive.”—Dr. REED.
“ Baptizo is a derivative from bapto; but it is a general principle or rule in the Greek language, that derivatives in izo are not limited to the original meaning of their primitives, but have, uniformly, an extended meaning.”—Dr. WORCESTER.
“The word baptizo is a derivative from bapto, and is a diminutive of it.”-Rev. WILLIAM THORN.
Q. What is the legitimate inference from these statements ?
A. “Hence, according to the ordinary construction of the Greek verbs, if bapto signify to dip, baptizo means to dip less ; -or, if bapto signify to pour or sprinkle, baptizo means to pour or sprinkle less.
Q. Is the word bapto ever used in the New Testament to express
the ordinance of Christian baptism ? A. No: it is not used in one instance in reference to this ordinance.
Q. What would you reasonably infer from this ?
A. That the invariable use of the diminutive, baptizo, was by design; and that the New Testament writers did not consider it as perfectly synonymous with its root, bapto.
Q. But, does the root, bapto, itself, always signify immerse ?
Q. Can you give any instances to prove this assertion? 1.4.
A. The following are taken from the SepTUAGINT, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and which was made by Jews about 277 years before the coming of Christ.
Leviticus xiv. 6.-"As for the living bird, he (the priest, ver. 5) shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall (bapsei) dip (or tinge) them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water.”
It is very evident that the word bapto, of which bapsei is an inflection, cannot here signify immerse, or plunge under. The liquid was the blood of one bird only; into which the cedar wood, the scarlet, the hyssop, and the living bird, were to be dipped, or with which they were to be tinged. Now, is it possible, that all these things could have been totally immersed In the blood of the one bird that was killed ? No: and therefore, here is one irrefragable proof that bapto does not invariably signify immerse.
Leviticus xiv. 16.—" And (the priest) shall (bapsei) dip his right finger in (apo) the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil) with his finger, seven times before the Lord.”
Now, a person cannot hold oil or water enough in his left hand to admit of the total immersion of his right finger into it. Any person can make the experiment for himself. Bapto here does not signify immerse.
DANIEL iv. 30.-(Corresponding with Dan. iv. 33, of our version.) “ And his (Nebuchadnezzar's) body was wet (ebaphe) with the dew of heaven.”
Daniel v. 21.-" And his (Nebuchadnezzar's) body was wet (ebaphe) with the dew of heaven.”
Now, what action, in these verses, is expressed by the word ebaphe, an inflection of bapto? Is it that of dipping or immersing? Was Nebuchadnezzar dipped in, or plunged under, the dew of heaven? Or is the action that of sprinkling? Was not the king sprinkled with the dew? If we let the Scriptures explain their own phraseology, the case is decided in favour of sprinkling: “The dew fell upon the camp in the night." (Numbers xi. 9.) “ His heavens shall drop down dew." (Deut. xxxiii. 28.) “As the dew falleth on the ground.” (2. Sam. xvii. 12.) “The clouds drop down the dew." (Prov. iii. 20.) Bapto here cannot possibly signify immerse.
Q. Have you anything more to say at present respecting bapto?