A. B. (Alonzo Bowen) Chapin.

A view of the organization and order of the primitive church: containing a Scriptural plan of the Apostolic church; with a historical outline of the church to the end of the second century: to which is added, the Apostolic succession, connecting it with the church of the present day online

. (page 5 of 32)
Online LibraryA. B. (Alonzo Bowen) ChapinA view of the organization and order of the primitive church: containing a Scriptural plan of the Apostolic church; with a historical outline of the church to the end of the second century: to which is added, the Apostolic succession, connecting it with the church of the present day → online text (page 5 of 32)
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circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of
the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ ; buried
with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him
through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised
him from the dead." (Col. ii. 10—12.)

In these verses there is a direct reference to two distinct
rites, circumcision and baptism ; and consequently, both must
be construed alike. Now it is sometimes claimed, that when
the Apostle speaks of being " buried with him in baptism," he
alludes to an actual and physical burial of the person under
water. But we have already shown that this form of expres-


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sion will not bear that constructton. Besides, if the allusion
to baptism is to be constroed as having reference to an actual
burial, as the mode of baptism, then the allusion to circumcis-
ion must hare a similar reference to the actual mode of per-
forming it This, however, can not be allowed, as the lan-
guage of the Apostle confines the circumcision to sl putting
off, {apekdusei,) or mpre properly, " a renunciation* of the sins
of the flesh tn (en) the circumcision of Christ." Now there
is not the remotest analogy between the mode of an actual
physical circumcision, smd the metaphorical and spiritual cir-
cumcision ; the whole resemblance being in its effects ; for as
a physical circumcision is the taking away of the impurities
of the natural man, so a spiritual circumcision, is a putting
away of the impurities of the spiritual man.f

The same rule of construction must be applied to the other
part of the Apostle's argument, " buried with him in baptism."
We are not, therefore, to understand him as alluding to di. phys-
ical burial, as the unity of his argument will not allow it ; but
as referring to a spiritual burial '' of the sins of the flesh,"
which were put off in our spiritual circumcision. No refer-
ence whatever, is therefore made to the mode either of cir-
cumcision or baptism, the effect being the thing the Apostle in-
tended to bring into view. But further, we are said in this
place not only to be buried with him, but also to be " raised
with him." Now in no sense is it true that we are raised
with him in baptism. Yet if this might ever be true, it could
not be admitted in this place, as the means by which, or the
immediate and efficient cause through which, we are raised
from this burial, is faith, " Buried with him in baptism ;

*Rob. Gf. Lex. p. 74.

f President Beechec has undertaken to show, that baptizo, in the New
Testament, always signifies *' to purify or cleanse thoroughly, without any
reference to the mode in which it is done.** Bib. Rep. 2d series, iii. pp. 40 —
66. 322—371 ; v. 24—47 ; vi. 28—55.


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wherein ye are also risen with tdtti through the faith of the
Operation of God;'' Here, then, we have a burial and resur-
rection answering to each o^er, mki a resurrection which is
purely spiritual, such an one ais would neoessarily follow from
the spiritual circumcision already described. Inasnmeh theO)
as the resurrection w^ spiritual, the^ buirial must hare been
spiritual ; and as no aUi^on whatever is made to the tnode of
eireumeisiony we are not at liberty to infer, that any allusion is
made to the mode 43f baptism. We see, therefore, that the
phrase, " buried with him in baptism,'^ does i^t, and can not
authorize the inference, that baptism was performed by m-

If . We shall now proceed to examine the meaning of the
phrases, " they went dmm into the water,^* and " they came up
out of the water ^^

As great stress is laid upon these forms of expression, to
prove that immersion Was the Aposldic mode of b^iptism, we
shall briefly inquire whether they authorize the inference. It
is sufficient in the English language to justify the expression,
they " go into the water," that persons shoidd merely step
into the water. Indeed, our phrases, " he is in the water,"
and " he has gone into the water," do not, without some quali-
fying words, imply that the perscm is immersed, or put all over
under water." So when a person who has^ stepped into the
water, steps out again, he ^* comes out of the water," or, if he
stepped into a brook, " he comes up out of the brook, or up out
of the water." These are common sense and every-day
mode* of expression, found alike in the speech of the unlet-
tered rustic,, and in the composition of the classic scholar.
These forms of expression will not, therefore, sustain the in-
terpretation sought to be given them, unless the genius and
idiom of the Greek language differs from ours in this respect,
concerning which we shall now inquire.

(1.) And first, does the phrase, **^they went down into the


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water,'" denote that " they went down under the water ?" To
this inquiry there can he but one answer, and that in the neg^
ative. The Greek preposition eis, denotes into, but never
under^ which idea is expressed in Greek, by hypo. If, there*
fore, St. Luke, in giving an account of the baptism of the
Eunuch by Philip, (Acts viii. 38,) had intended to say that the
Eunuch was immersed, he would have said, ^' he went down
under the water," and not " into the water." But the narrative
will not allow this alteration, for it is said, that ** both went
down into Ae water, both Philip and the Eunuch." li, there-
fore, the narrative proves that the Eunuch went down under
the water, it proves that Philip also went down under the
water, and that Philip was as really immersed as the Eunuch
himself. Besides, katabaino, from baino, '* to go, or walk,^^ and
kata, " dovm,^^ implies that they walked down into the water,
as a person would now walk down into a brook, and that after
having so walked into the water, Philip babtized the Eunuch,
but whether by immersion or not, is not intimated.

(2.) Second, does the phrase " they came up out of the wa-
ter,^ denote that " they came up from under the water ?" This
question must also be answered in the negative, as anabaino,
to come up, to ascend, is the opposite of katabaino, to go
down, to descend ; and consequently, can denote only an ascent
from a descent previously made. Nor can the preposition
ek, out of, from, authorize any other inference, for though
used in Acts, (viii. 39,) in the account of the baptism of the
Eunuch, its place is supplied in Matthew, (iii. 16,) in the ac-
count of the baptism of our Saviour, by apo, which has the
general meaning oi from, away from* The passage in Mat-

* The Apostolic Liturgy, so called, in the Syriac, represents Christ at his
baptism, as standing, and " bowing his head** into the water. Ass. I.
257, n. 287. The monuments of the Greek Church represent Christ and
John as standing in. the water, and John pouring water on the head of Je-
sus. This is said on the authority of Mr. £. A. Sophocles, a native Greek,
of great learning and accuracy.


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&ew, (iii. 16,) therefive, migkt properly be translated : ^< And
Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway from the
water f that is, he ascended from the place where he stood
when be was baptized, which might have been either on the
bank of the Jordan, or mthe edge of the river. But in nei-
ther case does it furnish any ground to infer the practice of
vmmerskwi. We have now examined all the strong arguments
md proof texts, which are urged in favor of the exclusive va-
lidity of immersion, and have found, that not one of the argu-
ments are sound, and not one of the positions, tenable.

III. The usage of the primitive Christians is such as to neg'
ative the idea of immersion,

Barnabas. One of the earliest Fathers, was Barnabas,
supposed by many to be the same as the Apostle Barnabas,
though probably without sufficient reason. He wrote, as ap-
pears from his epistle, (which is cited by Clement, of Alex-
andria,* and by TertuUian, in Uie second century,t by Origen,t
in the third, and by many subsequent writers,) soon after the
destruction of Jerusalem. The whole of his Epistle is in a
strain o( allegory ; but we shall copy all tiiat appears to have
any bearing on the mode of baptism.

'< Let us now inquire whether the Lord foretold any thing
of the water and the cross. Now of the water, it is written
to Israel, how that they woudd not receive that baptism, {bap-
tisma,) which brings to remission of sins, but would institute
another to themselves ; as sitith the Prophet : < Be aston-
ished, O Heaven ! and let tiie earth tremble at it, because this
people have done two great and wicked things ; they have
left me the living fountain, and dug for themselves broken cis-
terns.'" (c 10.)

In this place, baptism has no direct reference to any mode

♦ Stro. ii, p. 410. Stro. v. p. 571. f I>e Pud. c. 20.

% Cont. Cel. L. i.


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of washing, but refers to the partaking of that '^ well or fottn-
t^in ^ living water" of which every man, who desires eter-
nal life, must drink. (John ir. 10 — 15,) If it has any indi-
rect reference to the mode of washing, it is to those ceremonial
washings which denote purification. That these were not
performed by immersion, is evident frcnn the language of Bar-
nabas, as well as from what we have before said on this point.
In c. 8, he explains the Jewish mode of purification, described
in Numbers, (xix.) Thus, he says, "The heifer to be offered
by wicked men, is Jesus Christ; but the young men [in
Numb. xix. the clean men] that performed the sprinklingy
{rantizontes,) [i. e. of the people, that they should be clean
from their sins,] signify those who preach to us the remission
of sins and the purification of the heart, to whom the Lord
gave authority to preach his gospel, being at the beginning,

Here, then, we have " remission of sins and purification of
heart," wrought by " the sprinkling of the twelve," that is.
Apostles. So in c. 5. (of the Old Latin Version, the Greek
of ihsii place being lost,) it is said, that " the Lord gave liis
body to destruction, that we might be sanctified, through the
remission of sins, which is by the sprinkling (sparsione) of
his blood." In all these cases <* remission of sins and purifi-
cation of heart," are said to be wrought by sprinkling ; and
as these purificaUons are also called baptisms, the necessary
inference is, that baptism, in the days cf Barnabas, was per-
formed by sprinkling, or, as^he words may signify, by pouring.
There are, however, two other passages in the Epistle of this
writer, which have been claimed in favw of immersion, and
we give them both entire :

♦* Consider how he has jdned the cross and the water, for
this he saith : Blessed are they who when they have trusted

in the cross, descend into the water And there was a

river running on the right hand, and beautiful trees grew up


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by it, and he that shall eat of them shall live forever. The
signification of which is, that we descend inta the water full of
sins and pollutions, but ascend, beanng fruit, having in our
hearts hope and fear in Jesus hy the Spirit." (c. 10.)

In respect to the sentences in these extracts printed in
italics, we need only say, that they are quoted fircwn Acts,
(viii. 38, 39,) where this language is a|^lied to both Philqp
and the Eunuch, and must, therefore, be construed in a sunilar
manner. We need, therefore, only refer our readers to the
remarks we have before made upon that place, to show that
this does not denote immersion. We will add, however, the
remark, that these phrases seem to authorize l^e inference,
that the candidate for baptism took his- stand on^ or more prob-
ably im the edge of the water in which he was baptized, when
baptized in a river or brook, and that tKe water was then
poured upon him.

Hermas. Another allegorical writer of the early ages of
Christianity, was Hermas* He has been supposed by some
to belong to the first century ; but this is prtAably a mistake.
He seems to have written a little before the middle of the
second century. He represents the Church under the simili-
tude of <* a great tower built upon the water, with bright square
stones."* The building of the tower he describes as per-
formed by six young men, or angels ; who first " drew up from
the deep, stojaes so weH polished, that they exactly fitted to-
gether, so that the tower seemed to be built of one stone."t
The stones thus drawn up from the deep, denoted men of the
former ages, " who died in ri^eousness and great purity, only
the seal [of baptism] was wanting to th^n, withiHit which
they could not enter the kingdom of God,"J With them also
ascended certain other stones, which represented the Apostles

* L. i. Vis. iii. c. 2, 3. f L- i* ^19. iii. c. 2., L. iii. Sim. ix. c. 16.

±L. iii. Sim. ix. c. 16.

' 6*


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and teachers, who [having received the eeal of the Son o(
God, and] dying after they had received his faith and power,
preached to them who were dead, and gave them the same
seal," that is, " the seal of haptism." "These [i. e. the Apos-
tles and teachers] went down into the water with them, [i, e.
those who died in righteousness and great pnrity,] and again
came up. But these [the Apostles, &c.] went down ahve,
and came up alive; whereas those who were before dead,
went down dead, but came up alive."*

Thus far, there is nothing which at first sight appears to
bear directly upon the xjuestion under consideration. Yet it
is not irrelevant, for we have seen that those righteous men
who died before the coming of Christ, are represented as de*
scending into the water, deady that is, not having received the
seal of the Son of God in baptism ; while the " Apostles who
had received this seal, it is said, descended into the water
alive,^ and then administered this rite to those who had gone
down dead. From this, therefore, we learn the important
fact, that the " descent into the water," was not, in the opinion
of Hermas, baptism. This is also in perfect conformity with
the baptism of the Eunuch by Philip. In the language of
Hermas, Philip, who had received the seal of the Son of
God, in the ordinance of baptism, and was therefore alive,
went down into the water with the Eunuch, w^ho, not having
received that seal, was Jcad ; and while both were in the
water, the rite of baptism was administered. In both of these
cases, the descent into the water was no part of the baptism.

The building of the tower proceeded thus far, when " the
stones ceased to ascend from the deep, and they which built,
rested a little. Then those six men commanded the multitude
that they should bring stones out of the mountams for the
building of the tower. So they cut out stones of divers

♦L. Ui. Sim. ix, c. 16.

. Digitized

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odors, from all the mountains^ and brought them to the vir-
gins, which, when they received, being [round, were cut away
and made square,* and delivered to] those who built the
tower.^t But the stones which had been so cut, and which
represented the persons then living, and who w6re to compose
a part of the tower of the Church, were required " to be
cleansed before they could be put in the building,"^ which
was done by the virgins, as follows : " Then those virgins
took besoms, and cleared all theplace around, and took away
all the rubbish, and sprinkled {sparserurit) water, and the place
became delightfiily and the tower beauteous."^

Here we have a cleansing, which can be applied* only to
baptism, and that performed by sprinkling, or pouring, spargo
being capable of both senses. As far, therefore, as any in-
ference can be drawn from Hermas, as to the mode of baptism,
it is most distinctly in favor of appljdng the instrument used
in performing Ae rite, to the person, and not by applying the
person to the instrument, as is done in cases of total immer-
sion. There are, however, a couple of passages which are
usually cited" in favor of immersion ; both of which are quo-
tations of the language of the Acts, (viii. 38, 39,) already
spoken of, and must, therefore, be construed in accordance
with what has already been said of that place. We give
them, however, entire, that our readers may be able to see the
whole evidence on which the claim of the exclusive validity
of immersion rests. The first passage J is used in reference
to the righteous men who died before the com^g of Christ,
of which we have already spoken.

" Before a man receives the name of the Son of God, he
is ordained imto death, but when he receives that seal, he is
freed from death, and assigned imto life. Now that seal is

* L. i. ViB, iii. o. 6, f L. iii. Sim- ix. c. 4. $ L. iii. Sim. ix. c. 7.
$ L;. iii. Sini. ix- c. XO. || L. iii. Sim. ix. c. 16.


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the water, into which men descend ordained unto deaths but
asce^id assigned unto life."

The other passage is in the Commands,* " I have heard
from certain teachers that there is no other repentance than
that, when we descend into the water and receive remission of

Upon thi», we remark, that as the whote of Hermas is alle-
gorical, it is not certain that the water is to be understood lit-
erally ; the more so, as the water into which men are repre-
sented as descending^ is that " by which their lives are saved."t
Besides, the descent into the water is not baptism, in the lan-
guage of Hermas, as we have seen that he speaks of men de-
scending into the water who had not. received the seal of bap-
tism, and of others descending, who had received that seal4
There is not, therefore, in these passages, any thing which at
all militates against the conclusion before drawn from the lan-
guage of Hermas.

Justin Martyr. Next to Hermas, and probably cotem-
porary with him, was the learned and accomplished Justin,
the Martyr. He was a native and resident in Syria, and con-
sequently acquainted with the common or spoken Greek of
Palestine, and had been educated in the most refined schools
of classic literature. He is, therefore, a most important wit-
ness as to the mode of baptism. The most full description he
has given, is contained in his first Apology, or Defense of the
Christian Religion, addressed to the Roman Emperor, about
A. D. 150.§ ,

" We then lead them [the candidates for baptism] to a
place where there is water, and they are regenerated, (ana-
gennethemen,) in the same mode of regeneration as we were

*L. ii. Com. iv. c. 3. fL. i. Vis. iii. c. 3.

I L. iii. Sim. ix. c. 16.

§ We quote from p. 94 of the Paris edition ; p. 89 in the edition of Thirl-
by, Lond. 1722, c. 79, in the translation o( Chevalier.


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regenerated ; for they are washed (hutrbn) in water, in the
name of God, the Father and Lord of the Universe^ and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ; for Christ has said,^ except
ye be regenerated, {anagennelhese^) ye can not enter into the
kingdom of God*" He also quotes, in immediate connection
with this, and as bearing directiy upon the same point, Isaiah
i. 16 : " Wash you, {husathej) make you clean." " And this
washingy'y{lautron,) he says^* is " called illumination."

That this is a description of baptism, admits not of doubts
There is, however, a remark, which naturally arises from the
hmguage of Justin, altogether too important to be omitted in
this place. It is claimed and admitted, that, in classic Greek,
haptizo more generally denotes a washing performed by ap-
pl3dng the thing baptized to the element in which the baptism
was performed, ai^d that iouo is the proper word to be used to
signify washing of a general nature, or, more properly, when
it is performed by applying the water to the person washed.
Now as Justin was a thorough classic scholar, and also fa-
miliarly acquainted with the common spoken Greek of Pales-
tine, it is evident that he is the most competent witness that
can be produced, concerning the common meaning of haptizo,
in Palestinian Greek, in accordance with which it is used in
Scripture, as is now admitted by all critics.^

The first thing, then, that we observe, is, that JusUn, in
writing to the Rcmian Emperor, who was also thoroughly
versed in classic Greek, but knew notMng of any peculiarities
of the dialects of Palestine, never uses baptiao, to denote bap-
tism, which word, as imderstood by the Emperor Pius, would
signify, that the candidate was put into the water ; but always
uses louoy from which Pius would understand that the water
was applied to the person baptized. Hence, if baptism was
performed by immersion in the days of Justin, he intentionally

* Page 94, or 90, and c. 80. t Stuart Heb. Gr.


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[lage, which he knew would mislead the emperor,
;oo, . when he could gain nothing by it, and oould
Lotive to do it Not so, however, with Justin, when
against the Jews, who were familiar with all the pe-

of the dialects of Palestine ; for in his Dialogue
^ho the Jew, he uses haptizo and hmo as synonymous
The authori^ of Justin, therefore, sustains the con-
at we have before drawn, from our examination of
>ture usage, that haptizo and huo, in the common
Palestine, were words of similar import ; and hence
' this word in Scripture, to denote baptism, can not

a presumption in favor of immersion.
re is another passage in Justin, still more decisive ;
ich he expressly declares that baptism was perform-
Lnkling. To a full understanding of the passage,
bear in mind, that Justin, in his Apology, was at-
o show, that the various heathen mysteries were im-
)f the rites and ordinances instituted by God; that
roneously imitated what was really perf<mned, be-
3y did not perfectly understand the prophecy."!
ays, that the story of the ascent of Bacchus and Bel-
into heaven, were imitations of the prophecies con-
'hrist, as also some of the stories of Hercules and
s4 were copied from the character of the same being.
e says, that the demons raised up false Christs, to
he people,^ and that the practices of the priests
ations of what Moses did.|| Hence, he says : '* It
jrefore, that we hold the same opinion with others,
11 others speak in imitation (mimoumenoi) of ours."ir

ill be seen by comparing pp. 163^ 164, 173, 174, 193, 194,
pp. 231, 232, 236, 246, Par. Ed.

^C.7l. §Cc.73, 76. IIC.81.

}. 93. Par. Ed., Apol. I. ^



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Then, aflei giving the account of baptism, quoted above, he

" This foashing (hutron) is called illumination, since the
minds of those who are thus insdructed, are enlightened.
And he who is so enlightened, t^ washed^ {louetai^) i. e. hap-
tized, idso in the name of Jesus Christ^ who was crucified
under Pontius^ Pilate, and in the name of the Holt Ghost,
who, by the prophets, Ibretdd all things concerning Jesus.
The demons, also, who heard that this washing, {loutron,) i. e.
rf baptism, was predicted by the prophet, caused that those
who entered into their holy places, and were about to ap-
proach them^ to offer iibations and the fat of victims, should
SPRINKLE {rantizein) themselves."

Two things are expressly asserted by Justin, in this place :
(1,) that the baptism of demons was by sprinkling, and, (2,)
that this was in imitation of Christian baptism. Hence, it
necessarily follows, that Christian baptism toas sometimes at
least performed by sprinkling,*

Justin also distinguishes the " going down into the water,"
firom the baptism. Thus he says, that " Jesus coming to the
river Jordan when John was baptizing, he (John) went down
with Jesus into the water."t

Clement, of Alexandria, about 190. From him we learn
that baptism was then denominated charisma, gift of grace,
photisma, illumination, teleion, perfection, hnUron, washing,:|:
and he often uses loutron himself, to signify baptism.

Tertullian. We proceed to examine what is said by
Tertullian as to the mode of baptism. But before we do this,
-we must premise several things : (1.) though the earliest of
the Latin Fathers, he was a Carthagenian by birth, and Latin

* St. Cyprian, A. J). 256, says, the sacrament is equally efficacious,
W"hether the person be plunged in water, or whether it be sprinkled upon
him. (Ep. 66.)

f Dial. Tryph. P. 11. p. 331. ifPed. L. i. c. 6.


Online LibraryA. B. (Alonzo Bowen) ChapinA view of the organization and order of the primitive church: containing a Scriptural plan of the Apostolic church; with a historical outline of the church to the end of the second century: to which is added, the Apostolic succession, connecting it with the church of the present day → online text (page 5 of 32)