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now to practife Water-baptifm. 'Tis confeffed then by our Adverfaries themselves, that Waterbaptifm is here meant; and this being granted, I doubt, this Text will prove a Demonstration that Water-baptifm is in any wife to be retained. This will appear from the fcope of the Author, and the force of the words themselves.
The Author to the Hebrews had been difcourfing of our Savior's Priefthood, and comparing it with that of Melchifedech, Chap. 5. But this point of Christ's Melchifedechian Priesthood was deep and mysterious, and fuch as the Hebrews were not competent Judges of. Wherefore the Author adds, verse 11. Of whom we have many things to fays and hard to be uttered, feeing ye are dull of hearing. Then he reproves their ignorance, and exhorts them to make greater proficiency in Chriftian Knowledge; not content-ing themfelves with understanding the first Principles of their Religion, but endevoring to attain greater skill, and a more perfect knowledge of it, faying, Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doArine of Baptifms, and of laying on of hands, &c. Heb. 7. 1, 2.
'Tis plain then, that the Doctrine of Baptifms (that is, of Water-baptifm) is one of the Principles of the Doctrine of Chrift, and part of that Foundation of Religion which the Apoftles laid. It is numbered with Repentance, and Faith, and other matters of the greatest concern. And confequently, this principle of the Doctrine of Baptifms must not be forfaken, nor this part of the Foundation be removed or deftroyed; leaft we defert
defert or throw down that part of our Religion which is built upon it. And confequently WaterBaptifm muft of neceffity be conftantly practifed by us.
But, fay they, does not the Author talk of leaving the principles of the Doctrine of Chrift, of which Water-Baptifm is one? I anfwer by asking another question, Are not repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the refurrection of the dead, &c. fome of thofe principles of the Doctrine of Christ, which this Author talks of Leaving? But furely no Man in his wits will fay, that we must - leave the practice of Repentance, Faith, &c. because this Author faies we must leave them. And why then must we leave the practice of WaterBaptifm, because this Author faies we muft leave it ?
But in fhort, the word leaving (in this place)) does not import our omitting or neglecting to perform the duties here mentioned; for then we muft neglect Repentance, &c. as well as Water-Baptifm: but by leaving the Author means ceafing to treat farther of them. The Original reads thus, apirne dexñs rê Xeisỡ nóg, that is, leaving, ceafing or omitting to difcourfe farther about the principles of the Doctrine of Chrift, and not leaving the practice of thofe principles. Wherefore the word leaving does by no means invalidate the Neceffity of Water-Baptifm; but the Author's recounting it amongst the principles of the Doctrine of Chrift does abundantly confirm it.
Fourthly, They tell us, that Chrift is the Subftance; and that there are no Types and Shadows under the Gospel. Now Water-Baptifm (fay they) is a Shadow or Type of the inward washing and cleanfing of the Heart. To this anfwer, 1. that Chrift
is indeed the Subftance; but of what? Why of all thofe Types and Shadows which prefigured him under the Mofaic Law. And furely, we do not plead for any of thofe Shadows; as if our Lord, who is the Subftance, were not come in the Flesh. But, 2. can there be no Types and Shadows under the Gofpl, because Christ was the Substance of many Types and Shadows under the Law? Yes; dou tlefs there may be fome Types and Shadows now, as there were alfo under the Law, of which Chrift is not the Subftance. For instance, the Sabbath both was and is a Type (not of Christ's coming in the Fleth, but) of our Eternal reft in Heaven. So that a Type or Shadow may be observed under the Gofpel; and confequently Water-Baptifm, which our Adverfaries call a Type or Shadow, may be obferved also.
But I need not infift upon this. I have plainly proved, that God has commanded the practice of Water-Baptifm. And we are not to break God's command under pretence that the thing command~ed is a Type or Shadow.!
Fifthly, They tell us, that St. Paul faies, 1 Cor. 1.17. that Chrift fent him not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. And thotis true he had baptized fome few Corinthians, v. 14, 16. yet he thanked God that he had baptized no more of 'em. v. 14. And confequently, God cannot be fuppofed to -have commanded us to be baptized with Water. This Objection our Adverfaries take to be of great Weight; and therefore (Ffhall endevor to return a very full and fatisfactory Anfwer to it.
The occafion of St. Paul's writing these words was this. He had planted a Church at Corinth, and baptized Crifpus and Gains and fome few others with his own Hands, 1 Cor 114, 16. tholmany
of the Corinthians were baptized by others, as appears from Acts 18. 8. Now Baptifm in the Name of Chrift made the Corinthians our Savior's Difciples; but alas! they fell into Contentions and Divifions, faying, I am of Paul, that is, I am Paul's Difciple; and I of Apollos, that is, I am Apollos's Difciple; and I of Cephas, and I of Chrift, 1 Cor. 1. 11, 12. St. Paul therefore asks them, Is Chrift divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the Name of Paul? v. 13. As if he had faid; I pray confider, that you are his Difciples, in whofe name ye were baptized. Was any of you therefore baptized in the Name of Paul, or Apollos, or any other Minifter of the Gospel? Because ye fay, I am Paul's Difciple; I am Apollos's Difciple, &c. Wherefore fince you make fuch ill ufe of the perfon who baptized you, and call your felves by his Name, as if you were his Difciples; therefore for my part I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crifpus and Gaius; left any should Say, that I had baptized in mine own Name, pretending thereby to make you my Difciples, and not the Difciples of Chrift, verf. 14,15. And I baptized alfo the houshold of Stephanas. Befides I know not whether I baptized any other, v. 16. For Chrift fent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gofpel, v. 17. That is, tho' I have power to baptize with Water, as well as the other Apoftles, given me by virtue of Chrift's General Commiffion (recorded, Matt. 28. 19.) yet my main Business is not baptizing with Water, but preaching the Gofpel. Preaching the Gofpe! amongst the Gentiles, and planting the Chriftian Faith amongst 'em, is a matter of much Labor and Difficulty, and requires a great Measure of the Extraordinary Gifts of the Holy Ghoft; and God has peculiarly fitted
me for this weighty Impbyment, and therefore I take it to be my principal Work. But as for the Baptifm of thofe whom I convert by my Sermons, it may be adminiftred by others, who are not fo able to do God Service in the firft Converfion of Nations, as my felf.
This is the true and natural Interpretation of that paffage. And I am perfuaded 'twould puzzle any Man living, to prove from hence, that Water-Baptifm is not commanded by God. Yea, but (fay the Quakers) Paul thanked God that he baptized no more. And what then? Surely St. Paul had reafon fo to do; because they made fuch an ill use of their being baptized by perfons of Note and Eminence. For they called themselves by their Names, and profeffed themselves their Difciples, and thereby raifed great Disturbances in the Church of Chrift.
But (fay they) Paul faies, he was not fent to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. True; but does not Chrift fay alfo, Go, teach all Nations, baptizing them, &c. And have not I proved, that WaterBaptifm is commanded in that and many other Texts? Here then is a feeming Contradiction, but it is not difficult to reconcile it.
Confider therefore, that when God faies to the Jews, I defired mercy, and not facrifice, Hol. 6.6. he did not mean, that he defired no Sacrifice at all; for 'tis plain that he had made it their indifpenfable duty to offer Sacrifice to him: but he defired Mercy rather than Sacrifice. And this he explains by faying in the very next Words, And the Knowledge of God more than burnt Offerings. Wherefore he defired Mercy chiefly, tho' he defired Sacrifice too.