- Baptist Why and Why Not – Introduction
- The Distinctive Baptist Why
- Why The Bible And Not Other Standards
- WHY BAPTIST AND NOT ROMAN CATHOLIC
- WHY BAPTIST AND NOT EPISCOPALIAN
- WHY BAPTIST AND NOT METHODIST
- WHY BAPTIST AND NOT PRESBYTERIAN
- WHY BAPTIST AND NOT CAMPBELLITE
- WHY BAPTISM OF BELIEVERS AND NOT INFANTS
- WHY IMMERSION AND NOT SPRINKLING OR POURING
- WHY BAPTISM AS SYMBOL AND NOT A SAVING ORDINANCE
- WHY CLOSE COMMUNION AND NOT OPEN COMMUNION
- WHY CONVERTED CHURCH-MEMBERSHIP
- WHY SUNDAY SCHOOLS IN BAPTIST CHURCHES
- WHY MISSIONARY AND NOT ANTI-MISSIONARY
- WHY MISSIONARY AND NOT “OMISIONARY”
- WHY LOCAL CHURCHES AND NOT A STATE CHURCH
- WHY CONVENTIONS OF BAPTIST CHURCHES
- WHY EDUCATION BY BAPTIST SCHOOLS
That which is born of the flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6.
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Rom. 14:17.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. – John 3:3, 7.
The Greek word episcopos, from which the word episcopal comes direct, means strictly an overseer. In the Greek version of the Old Testament it designates the captains in an army (Num. 31:14), the officers over the house of God (2 Kings, 11:18), the director of the temple repairs (2 Chron. 34:12), and various other public officials. Applied to Christian ministers in the New Testament the word is used by Paul only, and it is translated overseer (Acts 20:28), or bishop (Phil. 1:1).
An episcopal church, then, is a bishopal church, a church governed by… a bishop or by bishops. The Anglican, the Arminian, the Catholic, the Coptic, the Greek and several Methodist churches are representatives of this class, all being episcopal. The Protestant Episcopal church, however, is commonly known simply as the Episcopal church, and to it especially reference is made in the question, Why be a Baptist rather than an Episcopalian?
This question need not provoke any bitterness or arouse any sectarian feeling. It can not be settled by sentiment, or social aspirations, or worldly interests. It involves some of the deep things of our most holy faith. It ought to be considered calmly, devoutly, impartially. It ought to be decided in harmony with the truth.
Some points which mark the separation between Baptists and all Pedobaptists are not here considered, but only such matters as accentuate the difference between Baptists and their Episcopal brethren.
I. ”THE HISTORIC EPISCOPATE.”
The doctrine of the historic episcopate, as it is called, is highly esteemed among Protestant Episcopalians, and is proclaimed by the House of Bishops as a necessary constituent of an acceptable basis of organic union among Christians. It takes its name from the rank, functions and succession of bishops; and it involves a theory which may be set forth in the following propositions:
- Bishops, as the official successors of the apostles from whom they have descended in unbroken line, the name being changed while the office remains the same, have the sole right of consecration, ordination, confirmation, and jurisdiction, being overseers both of preachers and people, so that, from this view, no place of worship has been truly set apart to the service of God unless it has been consecrated by a bishop, and no minister however devout and learned has any authority to perform the duties of his office unless he has been ordained or consecrated by a bishop, and no person however pious and useful is really a church member unless he has been confirmed by a bishop.
- Priests, elders, or pastors constitute an inferior order or grade of ministers who receive from their superiors the authority to preach and to administer the sacraments of baptism and holy communion, but have no power to transmit that authority to others.
- Deacons are a still lower order or grade of ministers who have from their bishops authority to preach and to baptize, but not to administer holy communion.
This doctrine assumes the dogma of Holy Orders, which the Catholic Episcopal church exalts into a sacrament, and defends with her anathema. In the history of Prote.stant Episcopacy it has instigated war, awakened persecution, and kindled the fires of martrydom. Nevertheless, if it is a doctrine of the New Testament, it ought to be accepted by all, regardless of consequences. Let it be tested by the word of God.
The first division of the subject, as given above, involves three positions which are in debate.
( 1) That only apostles or ministers of apostolic rank have the right of consecration, ordination, confirmation and jurisdiction. This position is not only an assumption, but it is an assumption which collides with the inspired records. There is no account that any apostle of the New Testament ever consecrated any altar, bell, book, candle, chalice, house, lectrum, table, or anything else in the paraphernalia of ritualism; and so any statement about an apostolic right of consecration is entirely destitute of Scriptural warrant. As ministers of the gospel the apostles participated in ordination with the imposition of hands (Acts 6:6; 2Tim. 1:6); but others also had the same right. It seems probable that Ananias was especially authorized to ordain Paul (Acts 9:17). Later Barnabas and Paul were ordained to a special work by the laying on of the hands of certain prophets and teachers at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). Timothy was ordained by a presbytery (1 Tim. 4:14), a council of elders of whom Paul was one (2 Tim. 1:6). The New Testament knows nothing of confirmation as a religious rite, as will appear later; and any assertion of apostolic privilege in the matter is entirely gratuitous. And elders as well as apostles had a certain right of jurisdiction, and were commended to consideration for ruling well (1 Tim. 5:17). So this whole theory of the exclusive right of apostles vanishes in the light of the truth.
(2) That bishops are the successors of the apostles in rank and authority. This is implied in the idea of apostolic succession, and will not be denied by loyal Episcopalians. But where is the proof of this marvelous proposition? Unwilling to lack all semblance of Scriptural authority, the advocates of this view remind us that Jesus chose twelve whom he named apostles (Luke 6:13), a fact which no one disputes, but which does not touch the question of identity in rank between the apostles and diocesan bishops. They, cite Matt. 28:19, 20, and John 20:20, 21, though neither passage shows the slightest connection between apostles and bishops of any kind; indeed, both passages are addressed to the disciples, rather than to the apostles as a class. In a labored effort to defend the position the Rev. M. F. Sadler, M. A., mentions a dozen instances in which Paul speaks of himself as an apostle, and a score or more in which Paul claims authority; but a tyro in logic, much more a Master of Arts, ought to know that proof of Paul’s apostleship and authority, which are cordially received, does not affect the question at issue. The failure to bring Scripture proof that bishops are apostles in rankis not surprising. There is no such proof. In the New Testament not one of the apostles is even once called bishop, and no bishop is called an apostle.
The position not only lacks Scriptural warrant, but it also fails before the logic of facts in the following particulars, the names apostles and bishops being used briefly for the offices which they represent. Apostles are men who can bear personal testimony to the resurrection of our Lord (John 15:27; Acts 1:21, 22); bishops are not men who can bear personal testimony to the resurrection. Apostles have seen the risen Lord (Acts 1:2, 3; 1 Cor. 9:1); bishops have not. Apostles are inspired teachers (John 16:13; Acts i :8; 2 Tim. 3 :i6); bishops are not. Apostles heal the sick (Acts 5 :16; 28 :8); bishops do not. Apostles expel unclean spirits (Acts 19:11, 12); bishops do not. Apostles impart miraculous gifts (Acts 19:6); bishops do not. Apostles raise the dead (Acts 9:41); bishops in the presence of death are as helpless as others. Paul gives the tokens of apostleship, ” signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Cor. 12:12) ; but the most loyal Episcopalian is obliged to admit that his bishop shows none of these apostolic signs. How then can he be in apostolic succession? The bishop himself is obliged to acknowledge that no intellectual or spiritual power of any kind was imparted through the process of ordination or consecration. As quoted by Dr. Hall, Archbishop Whately, who ought to be respected by our Episcopal brethren, says: ”We read of bishops consecrated when mere children; of men officiating who barely knew their letters; of prelates expelled and others put in their places by violence; of illiterate drunkards and profligate laymen admitted to holy orders.” Yet, good people, who take things for granted instead of thinking for themselves, rather glory in the fancy that diocesan bishops are apostles by another name.
The theory contradicts itself. If bishops have apostolic succession and rank, certainly their utterances about that rank ought to harmonize; but instead they are quite antagonistic. Some of the most eminent bishops of the Episcopal church reject the doctrine of the historic episcopate. Cranmer, the .great archbishop under Henry VIII, said: ”The bishops and priests were at one time, and were not two things, but both in one office in the beginning of Christ’s religion.” With similar import spoke Bishops Barrows, Brooks, Chillingworth, Davenant, Hoadley, Lightfoot, Stillingfleet, Tillotson, Whitby, and many others whose utterances could be given, if it were necessary.
(3) That the line of succession from the apostles down to the present is unbroken. From what has already been shown, this is an empty claim. But whatever the succession, it goes through Romanism, as every candid scholar admits. Persons only moderately acquainted with the history of England know that in the beginning of his reign Henry VIII was an ardent adherent of popery, and wrote what was regarded as an able treatise in its defense; that later for various reasons, among them a desire for a divorce, he broke his allegiance to the Pope, and had himself declared head of the church. The plea that there had been a previous church in England, and that there was always a latent or manifest opposition to the Romish domination, is sophistical. Dating backward three hundred years and more from Henry’s time, England was under the sway of the Pope, and her bishops were either Roman Catholics or hypocrites. The evidence, however, shows that they and the clergy generally were very ardent Catholics, and were brought to terms after the manner of the times. They were indicted, and were threatened with the confiscation of their property and the forfeiture of legal protection; the alternative was submission, or ruin. Some, like Woolsey, refused, and suffered accordingly; others yielded, ”and took out new commissions from the crown, in which all their episcopal authority was expressly affirmed to be derived from the civil magistrate, and to be entirely dependent on his good pleasure.” Referring to these troublesome times out of which the Church of England arose, the late Bishop Kip (Double Witness, p. i67) says: ”More than one hundred and twenty years passed-from the year 1537, in the reign of Henry VIII, to the year 1662, in the reign of Charles II – while this church was going through its successive steps, and gradually maturing to the form in which we now have it.” The learned Bishop further states that ”the first step was in the reign of Henry VIII.” So here the chain of succession is broken. The next preceding link is distinctly Romish; and the Romish chain is made only by violent assumptions, and by admitting to the list of bishops men destitute of Christian virtue and even common morality. And shall our Episcopal brethren glory in a succession which includes ”atheistical, heathenish and bloody monsters wearing mitres, whose constant work was to torture and destroy the disciples of the Lord?”
The second division of the subject, relating to priests, elders and pastors, has been practically disposed of in the preceding discussion. There being no succession of a first rank in the ministry, there can be no second rank. It may be observed, however, that in the New Testament no apostle, elder, pastor, bishop, deacon or disciple is ever called a priest, and the term, like the system to which it belongs, is unscriptural and misleading.
The third division assumes that the deacons of the New Testament are ministers of the gospel. The office seems to have originated as described in Acts 6:1-6. In this passage the distinction is clearly drawn between the ministry of the word and the ministry of secularities. The apostles said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve, or act the deacon for, tables (v. 6); wherefore, look ye seven men whom we may appoint over this business. What business? Evidently the business of distributing the common funds of the church, and seeing that no one was neglected. These early deacons had orders to serve tables. The fact that Philip soon afterwards became a preacher does not affect the argument; all the other disciples became preachers at the same time (Acts 8:1-5). In his New Testament Lexicon, Robinson specifies that a deacon in the primitive church was one who had charge of the alms and money of the church, and was a sort of overseer or bishop of the poor. This is the view of scholars generally. The late Edwin Hatch, Professor of Church History in the University of Oxford, takes the ground that it was the deacon, and not the preacher, who developed into the modern bishop. He says (Bamp. Lee p. 41) that names indicative of other functions fell into disuse, and ”the title which clung to him was that which was relative to his administration of the funds, episcopos or bishop.”
Baptist views on the issues of the historic episcopate are quite simple, and may be set forth as follows:
- The apostles had divine authority, not because they were ministers of the gospel, but because they were endowed with power, and spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance (Matt. 10:1, 8; Acts 2:4). The Greek word apostolos (verb apostollein), from which the word apostle comes direct, means one sent, ”he that is sent” (John 13:16), ”messengers” (2 Cor. 8:23), ”messenger” (Phil. 2:25). The twelve whom Jesus called apostles, he immediately sent forth to preach (Matt. 10:5). Apostle is Greek for missionary, which is derived from the Latin. But these early missionaries were endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:4). Out of these special gifts came their divine authority (2 Tim. 3:16).
- In all that was divinely authoritative in their teachings, the apostles had no successors. Peter makes this quite clear in the discussion of a successor to Judas (Acts 1:21, 22). Here it is distinctly stated that the successor even of Judas Iscariot was obliged to be one of the men ”which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.” This utterance closes the discussion with all who accept Peter as inspired and infallible authority. And Paul himself was obliged to appeal to this principle in defense of his apostleship. Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus Christ ? (I Cor. 9:1.)
- Bishop, elder and pastor are different terms applied to the same persons in the New Testament. This is the view not only of Baptists, but of the predominant scholarship of the world, Disciple, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and non-religious. It is the view held by learned Episcopalians. In his work on Episcopacy (p 12), the late Bishop Onderdonk, of New York, says:
”The name bishop, which now designates the highest grade of the ministry, is not appropriated to that office in the Scriptures. That name is there given to the middle order, or presbyters.” The good Bishop further states that ”when we find in the New Testament the name bishop we must regard it as meaning the bishop of a parish, or presbyter,” presbyter being another term for elder. Pages of similar testimony might be given, if necessary.
The testimony of the Scriptures, however, is quite clear, and needs not the support of learning. Paul distinctly identifies elders and bishops, and exhorts them to do the work of a shepherd or pastor (Acts 20:17, 28). He calls the elders of Ephesus, and bids them take heed unto the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers or bishops, to feed-the Greek is ”act the shepherd to” the church of God. Here, then, are elders, who are bishops, doing the work of pastors, the three terms being applied to the same persons at the same time. A similar identification is made in the letter to Titus (1 :5~7). Speaking of the ordination of elders in the churches, the apostle passing on to mention their qualifications calls them bishops: ”For a bishop must be blameless.” Elsewhere (Phil. 1:1) he addresses bishops and deacons, as an exhaustive division of Scriptural church officers, bishops representing the preachers, and deacons the non-preaching class, nothing at all being said of a third class. Again in the instructions to Timothy (1, 3:1-13) relative to church officers, mention is made of only two classes, bishops and deacons. If there were another class, it would seem strange for the apostle to ignore them, and give no instructions as to their character and qualifications. The only reasonable conclusion is that there was no such class, but that bishops, pastors and elders were the same persons by different titles.
Peter does not use the Greek noun episcopos in speaking of the ministry, but he uses the cognate verb in a way that helps in the solution of this question (1 Pet. 5 :i-3). Apostle as he is, he calls himself an elder; he claims no pre-eminence, but exhorts his fellow elders to feed, or act the shepherd to, the flock, taking the oversight, or acting the bishop thereof, not as bosses over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock. The beloved John also calls himself the elder, as he writes unto Gaius and the elect lady. And in the light of these passages the correctness of the Baptist position becomes quite clear. Professor Hatch (Bamp. Lect., p. 39) says: ”The admissions of both mediaeval and modern writers of almost all schools of theological opinion have practically removed this from the list of disputed questions.”
- Deacons are men of recognized character, who are ordained to superintend the temporal affairs of the church, especially to manage the distribution of alms (Acts 6:3), and to exercise a certain disciplinary power, ruling their children, and their own houses well (1 Tim. 3:12). Speaking of New Testament church organization, Dr. Broadus says: ”We find just two ceremonies, baptism and the supper; and just two officers, the bishop or elder, and the deacon; and then a third ceremony used in the public recognition of these officers, namely, ordination with the imposition of hands.” That preaching was not essentially connected with the office is made perfectly clear by the fact that Paul calls Phebe the deacon of the church at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1), here translated servant, and Paul was clearly opposed to female preachers (1 Tim. 2:12, 13). Phebe had deacon’s orders, but they were ’not orders to preach.
In the light of these facts the candid and fearless enquirer need not hesitate in deciding between Baptists and Episcopalians on the issues of the so – called historic episcopate.
II. THE FUNCTIONS OF THE MINISTRY.
Having wrong notions of the ministerial office, our Episcopal brethren naturally fall into error in regard to ministerial functions. In his work on Church Doctrine Mr. Sadler, previously quoted, devotes fifty pages to a discussion of what he calls The Christian Priesthood. In this discussion (p. 208) he claims that in addition to preaching, teaching and administering the ordinances, ”the Catholic church has ever held that her ministers have power from God to dispense officially certain other benefits to the faithful, in some cases by word of mouth/as in absolution or benediction, in other cases by laying on of hands, as in confirmation and ordination. As an integral part of the Catholic church, the Church of England claims these powers for her ministers.” In the same strain the Ordinal directs the bishop who officiates at an ordination to say to the candidate: ”Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest in the church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained.”
In this official statement of Episcopal belief the objectionable points may be specialized in the following propositions:
- The Christian ministry is a priesthood, the essence of which, says Bishop Whittingham, is ”ministerial intervention for the forgiveness of sins.”
- As a priesthood the ministry has power to dispense blessings by pronouncing absolution, and by administering the rite of confirmation, and of ordination.
In support of the first proposition, that the ministry is a priesthood, three considerations are offered, each and all of which are utterly inconelusive
(1) The Catholic church has ever held that her ministers possess priestly powers. But this proves nothing to the point, as the Catholic church has ever held views which are contrary to the Scriptures, devout Episcopalians themselves being the judges.
(2) The priesthood is recognized in the Old Testament as an established order of ministry, and so the ministry of the New Testament also is a priesthood. But this conclusion is an inference which collides with well known facts. It is proper to call certain Old Testament ministers priests, because the Bible again and again so designates them. The word was perfectly familiar to inspired writers; but not once in all the Scriptures is a human minister of the gospel called a priest. The only rational explanation of this fact is that gospel ministers are not priests, and in justice to truth ought not to be called what they are not. ”It matters not a straw whether the name of priests were given them,” says the Episcopalian (Ch. Doc., p. 223); but to one who really desires to do right, does it not matter a good deal what the Bible says?
(3) Preachers perform priestly acts, and therefore are priests, whatever they are called. But here again the argument is fallacious. Preachers write like editors, and visit like physicians, and speak in public like lawyers, and lead public worship like priests, but certainly those facts do not prove that preachers are editors, or physicians, or lawyers, or priests. The distinctive function of priesthood is to offer sacrifice for sin and make atonement. Of this the proof is concise and abundant in both Testaments (Lev. 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 9:?; 14:20; 16:24; Num. I5;25; Heb. 5:1; 8:3; 10:11). When Peter refers tropically to Christians in general as priests, he takes pains to explain that they are to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). To some probably ”it matters not a straw” what the Scriptures say; nevertheless these passages are quite clear. Every priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin; but no minister of the gospel is so ordained, and hence no minister is a priest. Once in the end of the world hath Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:26); by his own blood he entered once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for his people (Heb. 9:12), and there is no more offering for sin (Heb. 10:18), and no need of any (Rom. 6:10; I John 1:7). The inspired writers made no mistake when they failed to call preachers priests; they simply spoke in harmony with the truth. The Christian ministry is not a priesthood.
The second proposition relative to the preacher’s power to bless by absolution and confirmation and ordination practically passes with the passing of the priestly idea of the ministry; and yet a few words may be helpful to the honest enquirer.
Mr. Sadler says, ”Absolution is not merely declaratory. It must in some sense convey what it declares” (Ch. Doc., p. 250); and he devotes a chapter to the discussion, hardly the elucidation of the subject. In proof of his position he cites the bishops words to the candidate at ordination, ”Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven, etc.” This proves that absolution is a doctrine of the Episcopal church, but does not prove that it is a doctrine of the Bible. Jesus used similar words to his inspired apostles (John 20:23); but bishops are not successors of Jesus, and apostles have no official successors. The ancient Scribes regarded it as blasphemous for a mere man to assume the power of forgiving sin (Matt. 9:3). Who but God can forgive? Devout Episcopalians probably regard the formula of absolution as only a form which does not convey what it declares. If the Lord forgives, no other forgiver is needed; if the ”priest” forgives, no other Lord is needed.
By the Catholic church confirmation is regarded as a sacrament, and it was so rated in the earlier service books of the Anglican Church, but in later revisions it was assigned the place of a simple rite. In support of the practice Episcopalians cite the laying on of hands mentioned in Acts 8:i7 and 19:6, and Heb. 6:2, and also passages in which ministers are said to confirm persons (Acts 14:22; 15:32, 41). It is one of the marvels of Episcopal reasoning that the laying on of hands is ordination in Acts 6:6, confirmation in Acts 8:i7, and consecration in 2 Tim. 1 :6, while in Heb. 6:2 it does triple duty in support of consecration, ordination or confirmation, as occasion may require. But a moderate knowledge of the Scriptures apprehends facts which are fatal to the confirmation theory.
(1) The laying on of hands by Peter and John produced results visible to the eyes even of a wicked man, and Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given (Acts 8:18); but no manifestation of power attends an Episcopal confirmation, and the unfortunate bishop who performs the rite can give no certificate that the Holy Ghost is imparted.
(2) The imposition of Paul’s hands enabled the twelve at Ephesus to speak with tongues and prophesy (Acts 19:6); and the claim that any modern bishop does essentially what Paul did is manifestly untrue.
(3) The Christian commission for the evangelization of the world (Mat. 28:19, 20; Mark
16:15, 16) gives no hint of confirmation as a religious rite; and there is no mention of hands laid upon thousands of the early Christians (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14,et al.).
(4) The passages that speak of ministers as confirming certain persons are not to the point. The Greek word used does not express a formal rite; it simply means to strengthen in the faith (Acts 16:5; 18:23). In tne first case Paul and Barnabas strengthened the disciples, not by the laying on of hands, but by exhorting them to continue in the faith (Acts 14:22). In the next, Judas Barsabas and Silas, who were not apostles but prophets, confirmed the brethren, not by a ceremony, but by exhorting them with many words (Acts 15:32). In the third case Paul strengthened, not the Catechumen class, but the churches. The Episcopal church acted wisely in dropping confirmation from the list of sacraments; her Methodist daughter acted more wisely in dropping it altogether, as having no warrant whatever in the New Testament.
The Baptist view of the ministry may be set forth in a few simple sentences abundantly supported by the Scriptures.
- By direct impression or providential indications God puts suitable men (1 Tim. 3:2-7) into the ministry (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 3 :6; 5:18; Col. 1 :25; 1 Tim. 1:12), and directs them to special fields (Acts 8:26; 16:6-10).
- Persons who give evidence of a divine call are entitled to public recognition and ordination to the work with the laying on of the hands of a Presbytery (Acts 13:3; i Tim. 4:14).
- Ministers as persons occupying a position of dignity are called elders (i Tim. 5:1, 17, 19; Tit. 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1), as preachers carrying the gospel to the destitute regions they are evangelists or missionaries (Acts21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5), as ministers over a local church they are shepherds, or pastors, to feed the flock (Acts 20:28), or bishops to take the oversight thereof (i Pet. 5:2).
- The minister is not the ruler but the servant of the church (1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 4:5); his authority rests not in his official position, but in the character that renders him fit for his position, and in the conformity of his life and teachings to the revealed will of Christ (Phil. 2:29; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17; Gal. 1:9; Matt. 23:8-10).
III. THE EFFICACY OF ORDINANCES.
- Baptism. The standard catechism of the Episcopal church speaks of baptism as that ”wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” This language is clear, and appalling; baptism by this teaching is a means of changing the character of people; of taking them from a state of nature as children of wrath, and making them, as Bishop Brownwell says, ”in deed and in truth, children of God, and heirs of the Kingdom.”
No wonder that many intelligent persons who happen to be connected with the Episcopal church through sentiment, or the force of circumstances, rather than conviction, shrink from this simple statement of Episcopal doctrine, and try to explain it away or break its force by conditions of which the catechism gives no hint. To the loyal Episcopalian the language means what it says. Bishop Seabury, quoted and endorsed by Bishop Kip (Doub. Wit., p. 211), says: ”The benefits of baptism are remission of sins, regeneration or adoption into the family of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the body and everlasting life.” All this as the result of a ceremony in which the infant takes no conscious part, but is brought by others, and simply smiles or frowns, coos or cries, and so forth, according to natural rather than spiritual impulses!
The clear statement of this doctrine is a sufficient refutation; but there are certain considerations which will be helpful to those who honestly seek the truth.
(1) Children who have been sprinkled in infancy give no evidence whatever of being different from other children. That any change has been wrought by the christening process is purely a matter of credulity, as no proof can be adduced either from experience, observation or revelation.
(2) Persons duly baptized on profession of faith sometimes give evidence of being anything else than children of God. The only rational conclusion is that baptism is not a process for making Christians.
(3) A child is the child of his father, and no power on earth can alter that fact, or change that relationship. Voltaire and many others as wicked in spirit and as filthy in conduct were christened in very early infancy. If they were thus made children of God, who unmade them? And how was it done?
The Baptist view is quite simple, (1) Whether born of atheistic or infidel, heathen or Mohammedan, Jewish or Christian parents, ’all infants, or other irresponsible persons, who die before attaining unto the intelligence necessary to accountability, are saved. This belief is based on the general idea of the justice and mercy of God, and on the specific declarations that Christ takes away the sin of the world (John 1129), and that by the obedience of the One the many are made righteous (Rom. 5:19).
(2) Baptism, which makes no appeal to reason, but rests solely on the authority of Jesus was designed as a token of simple faith in Him and of complete surrender to His will, and is essentially a voluntary act. The New Testament records no case of baptism administered by force, or without the consent of the baptized. Faith brings salvation (John 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 5: 24; 6:47; Acts 10:43; 13:38, 39; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 2:8, 9, et a/.), and this salvation is symbolized (1Pet. 3:20, 21) in baptism as a washing away of sin (Acts 22:16), as death to an old life and resurrection to a new (Rom. 6:3, 4; Col. 2:12), or as union with Christ (Gal. 3:27).
The candid reader will ponder these truths, and decide for himself whether Episcopalians or Baptists hold the true view as to the design of baptism.
- The Lord’s Supper. The Episcopal church holds what is called the doctrine of consubstantiation, the gist of which is that while the bread and wine of the supper remain unchanged, ”the whole human nature of Jesus is really united with the bread and wine, so these exist together, and both are distributed to the communicant.” Dean Goulburn says: ”The elements are not only the sign and symbol of the body and blood of Christ, but also the instruments of conveying an actual participation in his crucified human nature;” and he asserts that this is done in ”eating and drinking the consecrated elements of bread and wine, which pass into and are absorbed in our living frames” (Far. Coun., p. 82). Our learned friend Mr. Sadler, says of the supper: ”In it we have offered to us the greatest benefits of redemption; and these benefits become ours . .. .through the communication of partaking of His lower nature, his flesh and blood” (Ch. Doc., p. 158); and it is not strange that he felt constrained immediately to say, ”A moment’s consideration of all this must be unutterable and inexplicable,” and he might have added absurd. The extent of the absurdity is suggested in the following considerations based upon the utterances of these Episcopal brethren:
(1) The crucified human nature of Christ was in a material body manifest to the physical senses (Heb. 2:16; 6:5; John 20:20, 27); yet contrary to all observation these learned brethren assure us that this human and lower nature is present with the bread and wine and is distributed to the communicant.
(2) The eating of human flesh and blood is not usually regarded as a religious exercise; yet these brethren solemnly insist that cultivated and loyal Episcopalians are in the habit of actually partaking of the lower and crucified flesh and blood of Jesus as an act of deep devotion. In the expressive words of Mr. Sadler, this is ”unutterable and inexplicable.”
The Baptist view of this solemn ordinance involves nothing shocking, unutterable, or absurd, but conforms to the simple teachings of the Scriptures (Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 1 Cor. 11:23-34.)
(1) The bread and the wine are symbols of the flesh and blood of Jesus. The Scriptures positively and clearly state that Jesus is a Door, a Vine, a Way, a Rock, a Lion, a Lamb; but a literal interpretation of these terms stultifies reason and fosters infidelity. Equally absurd is it to hold that, while sitting alive and sound in the presence of his disciples, Jesus broke his own body and shed his own blood. Baptists think he broke bread and poured wine, as symbols of his flesh and blood.
(2) The Lord’s Supper, as an institution extending backward to the guest chamber in Jerusalem (Mk. 14:14, 15) and destined to continue until the end, is a perpetual monument to the life and death of our Lord (1 Cor. 11 ’.26).
(3) It is a means of grace in no peculiarly mysterious way, but only as obedience to any command, ”Eat,” ”Drink,” is a means of grace, and as it turns the thoughts toward death, and stimulates adoration, gratitude and renewed consecration by fixing the mind on that Death through which the soul escapes eternal death (Matt.26128; 1 Cor. 11:24, 25).
In conclusion the intelligent reader is reminded that in a little while (Job 16:22) the name by which persons are known here will be a small matter; the supreme issue will be their standing before the Lord. No tradition, or sentiment, or human creed will then avail; but the Word of God will be the test of faith and character (John 12:48). Search the Scriptures. Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 4:16; 6:12).