« EelmineJätka »
To Baptists of every name and party, in the United States of America and in the British Provinces, who speak our vernacular, as an humble Tribute of his respect and esteem, on account of their uniform and persevering advocacy of freedom of thought, of speech, and of action, in all that pertains to the rights of conscience and to civil liberty, as well as for their constant and untiring efforts to sustain the Apostolic institution of Christian Baptism: And especially to those who plead for the Union and Co-operation of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, on the basis of “ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT, AND ONE HOPE,” this Volume is respectfully and affectionately inscribed by
The important question of Christian Baptism is yet, with many, an undecided question. With many, too, it has been decided wrong, because decided on human authority, or on partial evidence, without personal and proper examination. Neither Christian faith nor Christian character can be inherited, as the goods and chattels of this world. There is no royal or ancestral path to faith, piety, or humanity. Whatever truly elevates, adorns, or dignifies a human being, must be, more or less, the fruit of his own efforts.
Five points are necessarily involved in this discussion, essential to a rational and scriptural decision of the question. These are: 1. The action, called baptism. 2. The subject of that action. 3. The design of that action. 4. The antecedents; and, 5. The consequents of that action. These are distinct topics, each of which must be scripturally apprehended in its evangelical import and bearings, before this solemn and sublime symbol can be truly enjoyed in its spiritual influences and importanoe. And such is the prominent and imposing attitude in which its Author placed it, when, in giving a commission to his apostles to convert the nations of the earth to him, he makes this the consummating act of their preaching Christ-of converting and evangelizing the world. “Go,” said he, “into all the world, convert the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Misconceptions of this institution are, it has been often remarked, more or less connected with misconceptions of the whole Christian institution, and lie as the sub-basis of the present apostasy from original Christianity. By the grand “Mother of Harlots” and delusions, it has been degraded to the rank of a mere rite or ceremony, and made a door of admission, wide as the whole world, into the bosom of what is impiously called “The Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.”
In view of this, the following treatise discusses the whole subject, in what its author esteems its natural and logical order, placing before the mind of the reader each and every point, in its proper position and relative importance to the whole institution. This gives a somewhat miscellaneous appearance to the volume; but, in view of the whole premises, it will, he hopes, make it more really useful and satisfactory to every reader, 80 much interested in the subject as to give it a candid and careful perusal.
The author regards the antecedents and consequents of Christian Baptism, as furnishing not only much material for profitable reflection, on the part of every earnest inquirer after the truth and design of Christianity, but as also furnishing argumonts in support of the divine origin, authority, and value of Christian Baptism, necessary to an intelligent and satisfactory decision of the much litigated questions, What is Christian Baptism? and What are the benefits thereof?
He has condensed a very large amount and variety of materials on the special questions, What is Christian Baptism? Who are its legitimate subjects? and What its specific design? into as small a space as possible, not desiring to say even a moiety of what he might say on the premises. Much of what is said is designed to be suggestive to the mind of the reader, rather than to leave him nothing to do but to read what is written ; to open to his mind the unwasting fountains of light and knowledge
contained in the Divine Records of eternal wisdom and providence, that he may see, in the clear, full, and certain light of God's own book, the glorious scheme of redemption, as indicated in the precious and sublime symbol of Christian Baptism.
The continual agitation of this subject is important and benevolent, so long as unscriptural views of it are not only entertained, but made the bitter root of discord amongst good men, and of schism in the Christian profession. Truth ever gains, and error uniformly loses, by discussion. The results of the discussions of this subject during the last thirty years, are at least the addition of a hundred thousand persons to the profession of «
one Lord, one faith, and one baptism;" and, so far, have contributed to the triumph of truth, the union of Christians, and the conversion of the world. We, therefore, commend to the blessing of the Lord, this new offering on our part to the advancement of truth in the world, and as an humble means of promoting the cause of Christian union and co-operation amongst all who love Zion and seek the peace and happiness of Jerusalem.