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Liver pooL 1851.






Baptism is the subject which we now propose to present before the


following heads:

First, The antiquity of
Second, The mode of Baptism.
Third, The object of Baptism.
Fourth, The subjects of Baptism.

Fifth The necessity of Baptism. ,

2.-The first division of the subject presented for exammatmi ,s,


We have the testimony of many eminent writers, f^^^^g
by the Jews as a religious ceremony, ages anterior to the birt of -
It is said that the Jews, not only circumcised, but baptized all new ton eits
to their fjth ; and that in the days of Solomon, great numbers were proselyted
from the surrounding nations, and were baptized.

3 _It is by some supposed that the Jews, before Christ did not baptize
those of Jewish descent, but only such as were proselyted from foreign nations.
But it is certain that Baptism was administered, under the law of Moses unto
numerous multitudes of Jews ; for John the Baptist who was the legal heir of
the Aaronic priesthood, through the lineage of his Others, did administer
this right to thousands of the Jews for the remission of their sins; and t ,
too, at a time when the law of Moses was in full force.. Even Jesus himself,
had not yet been baptized. None of the old institution was yet abolished
' and no new institutions were, as yet, introduced. And while under the
strictest obligations to keep the old law, John was baptizing ; and there went
out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan
and were baptized of him n Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew in. o, b.
4 John expressly declares that the object of Baptism was for the re-
mission of sins.^ (Mark i. 4.) If Baptism for the remission of sins was
necessary under the Jewish law, in the days of John, it was equally necessary
in the days of Solomon, of David, of Samuel, and of Moses.
essential to minister the right to Jewish proselytes, that they might
remission of sins, it was equally essential to the Jews themselves.



5. Though Baptism was a rite celebrated under the Jewish law, yet, it
was not originated under that law : it formed no part of it, but belonged to a
higher law, to which the law of Moses " was added because of transgres-
sion." The higher law was no less than that of the Gospel of which Baptism
is an ordinance. Hence, the apostle Paul, in speaking of Israel in the wil-
derness, says, " For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them ;
but. the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in
them that heard it." (Hebrews iv. 2.) It appears from this passage, that
the Gospel preached after Christ, was of great antiquity, being preached to
Israel in the wilderness ; "'but the word preached did not profit them." Be-
cause of " not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."

6. It Tvill be admitted by all, that two of the principles of the Gospel,
namely, Faith and Repentance, were taught among Israel, during the whol
time that the law of Moses was in force. Why should it be thought strange
that a third principle of the Gospel, namely Baptism, should also co- exist with
the other two ?

7. The Jews, while under the law, must have considered Baptism of very
great importance, or they would not have gone from all the region round about
in such great multitudes, to be Baptized in Jordan. Even many of the self-
righteous Pharisees and Sadducees came to be Baptized, which they never
would have done, if they had looked upon Baptism as a new ordinance, then
just originated and introduced for the first time among their nation. They
would have considered it an innovation upon the law of Moses, and rejected
it with an apparent holy horror ; but instead of having any doubts, as to its
divinity, they came forward even in their impenitent state, and demanded
Baptism, without any question relative to the divinity of the ordinance itself.
Bat John " Said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to
flee from the wrath to come ? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for Repent-
ance." (Mathew iii. 7, 8.)

8. Though the Jews had no dubiety on their minds in regard to Baptism's
being a diviue institution, yet, some of them seemed to doubt, as to the
divine authority of John to administer the ordinance ; for while John was
baptizing in Bethabara beyond Jordan, near thirty miles from Jerusalem,
" the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art
thou ? And he confessed, and denied not, but confessed I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then ? Art thou Elias? And he saith I am
not. Art thou that prophet ? And he answered, No. Then said they unto
^'rn, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us.
What sayest thou of thyself? He said I am the voice of one crying in the
wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him and
said unto him, Why Baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor
Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with
water." (John i. 19 26. These Pharisees were evidently doubtful about
the legal authority of John ; but expressed no doubt whatever as to Water
Baptism's being of divine origin, providing that it was administered by a
prophet, or some one divinely authorized.

9. That Baptism was essential under the Jewish law, is still farther
evident from the reply of Jesus to John, when the latter, on account of hi*
own imworthiness, declined to baptize his Saviour. Jesus " said unto him,
Sailer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.


Then he suffered him." (Matthew iii. 15.) Now if there had been no
existin^ law, requiring men to be baptized, Jesus could have fulfilled "all
righteousness " -without going down into Jordan. Hence, there must have
been a law relating to baptism, with which both Jesus and John were well
acquainted ; and they both knew that " all righteousness " could not be
fulfilled without obeying that law.

10. That Baptism wa% essential in all ages prior to Christ is most
expressly declared in the words of our Saviour to Nicodemus, " Verily, verily,
I say unto thee ; Except a man be born of Water and of the Spirit, he cannot
enter into the kingdom of God." (John iii. 5.) Now as Abel, Enoch, Noah,
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets, and righteous men, before
Christ, have evidently entered into the Kingdom of God, every one of them
must have been " lorn of the Water," as well as of the Spirit. Therefore
Water Baptism must have been practised in every dispensation from the days
of righteous Abel, until John the Baptist, Nicodemus, most undoubtedly,
was well acquainted with this ancient rite, but never had reflected upon it in
the light of a second birth. Hence he enquires with astonishment, " Ho\r
can these things be ? Jesus answered and said unto hirh, Art thou a master
of Israel, and knowest not these things?" (John iii. 9, 10.) It is evident
from this question, that " a master of Israel " was expected to be well
acquainted with the ancient rite of Water Baptism. For' ".a Ruler of the
Jews " to be ignorant of the nature of this institution, was inexcusable,
especially when no man, in any age or dispensation, could enter into the
kingdom of God without it.

11. Baptism not only existed during the law of Moses, but all the hosts
of Israel were baptized " in the eea," before the law of Moses was thundered
from mount Sinai. To this fact the Apostle Paul bears the following
testimony; "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant,
Low that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea ;
and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea ; and did all
eat the same spiritual meat ; and did all drink the same spiritual drink ;
for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them ; and that Rock was
Christ." (1 Corinthians x. 1 4.) This Baptism in the sea took place
about three months before the Lord descended upon mount Sinai, and about
four or five months before the law vtas given to them upon the second tables
of stone, or before Aaron was consecrated to the office of the Priesthood,
(See Exodus chap. xiv. also chap. xix. 1. alsoDeut. ix. 11, 18, 25.) Baptism
in the sea was undoubtedly administered to them immediately after they had
safely passed over on dry ground to the eastern shore. Being delivered from
all their enemies, and safely encamped upon the eastern bank, beyond the
reach of all apparent danger, they would naturally feel an inclination to
attend to that solemn rite without which they could not enter into the
kingdom of God.

12. The ordinance of Water Baptism was administered to Israel in the
Bed Sea by persons holding authority ; for though the law of Moses was not
yet given, and though Aaron and his sons had not yet been set apart
according to the law, through the holy anointing, yet there were many
priests among Israel who had been ordained to minister, not under the law
from Sinai, for that was not yet given, but under the higher law which pre-
viously existed, pertaining to the patriarchal dispensation. The lesser priest-
hood was afterwards continued in the tribe of Levi: but the 'priests who


officiated at the Red Sea were doubtless chosen from various tribes, according-
to their righteousness, without regard to lineage. These priests are men-
tioned, as being among Israel, before the Lord singled out the house of Aaron
ef the lineage of Levi (See Exodus xix. 6, 29, 24. " And the Lord said
unto Moses " " Let the PRIESTS also, which come near to the Lord, sanc-
tify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them." (Verse 22.) These
priests here mentioned, might have been of the Melchisedec order, or they
might have been of an order, similar to the one that was afterwards continued
in the tribe of Levi. To which of these orders they belonged, is not revealed ;
but it is revealed, that they were priests acknowledged of God, and that they
" eame near to the Lord," in their ministrations. Both the Melchisedec and
Aaronic priesthoods held the authority to baptize, as exemplified in the
ministrations of Jesus and John the Baptist.

13. But all the fathers of Israel were not only baptized in the sea, but
also in the cloud of glory; that is, " they drank of that spiritural Rock that
followed them ; and that Rock was Christ." And the glory of Christ over-
shadowed them, as a cloud by day and as a fire by night. They had faith in
Christ and were Baptized with the Spirit, and even drank of the spiritual
Rock, the same as Baptized believers who lived after Christ. Hence the
same Gospel that was preached after Christ was also preached ages before
Christ, with all its commandments, ordinances, and blessings. And the
people knew of Christ, and believed in him, as their future Redeemer, with
the same faith and hope as those who lived after he came. And they were
born of Water and of the Spirit, and entered into the Kingdom of God in all
ages, when an authorized priesthood was upon the earth.

14. But the Baptism of Israel in the Red Sea was not the origin of that
sacred institution ; it was as old as the everlasting Gospel itself, of which it
constitutes a part. The Apostle Paul says, " The Scripture, foreseeing that
God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto
Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. iii. 8.) It is
evident that the heathen and all nations were to be blessed in Abraham ;
that is, by becoming Abraham's seed by adoption, or by receiving the same
Gospel that Abraham received, and walking in the steps of his faith. With-
out Baptism the heathen could not be justified and become Abraham's seed ;
for Paul further says, " For as many of you as have been Baptized into
Christ, have put on Christ." " And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abrahams
seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. iii. 27, 29.)

15. It is not to be wondered at that the Jews, under the law of Moses,
Baptized all proselytes from foreign nations ; inasmuch as they could not put
on Christ, nor become Abraham's seed, without Baptism. The same Gospel
that was preached to Abraham to justify him, was ever afterwards intended
to justify the heathen and all nations ; and as we find that Baptism was re-
ceived by the latter, the former must have received it also. Therefore,
Abraham, as well as his adopted children, had to enter into the kingdom of
God by the new birth, or by the Baptism of Water and of the Spirit.

16. We are aware that the book of Mark is entitled, by its author " The
Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." But it is quite
evident that this very appropriate title had no reference to the Gospel, then,
for the first time, being originated ; but had especial reference to the begin-
ning of the events connected with the birth, travels, and ministry of Jesus
Christ, intended to be recorded by the author in his narrative or book. That


this title had no reference whatever to the origin of the Gospel is well known,
from the fact that Faith, Repentance, and other Gospel principles, existed
ages before, being preached to Israel in the wilderness, and to Abraham, the
great father of the Baptized believers of all nations.

17. Even the very earth itself was Baptized in the mighty flood. The
Baptism of the earth, to wash away its sins, was a literal representation of
the Baptism of all penitent believers to wash away their sins. As Noah was
saved by water in the Ark, so are penitent believers saved by Water Baptism
in the kingdom of God. The Apostle Peter, when speaking of Noah's ark,
very appropriately expressed himself by saying, " The long-suffering of God
waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is,
eight souls, were saved by Water. The like figure whereunto even Baptism
doth also now save us." (1 Peter iii. 20, 21.)

18. Noah was a " preacher of righteousness," and called upon the ante-
diluvians to repent. But righteousness is by the Gospel ; for Paul says,
" Therein " (that is, in the Gospel) " is the righteousness of God revealed
from faith to faith." (See Romans i. 16, 17.) If righteousness be revealed
by the Gospel, Noah could not have preached righteousness, and been "a
just man and perfect in his generations," without understanding the same.

J 9 The Apostle Paul says, that Jesus Christ " brought life and immor-
tality to light through the Gospel." (2 Tim. i. 10.) It follows, therefore,
that whoever, in any age of the world, had a knowledge of " life and immor-
tality," must have obtained that light through the Gospel. Hence, Enoch,
who was translated by faith, to " life and immortality," must have been well
acquainted with the Gospel.

20. Righteous Abel, being a prophet and living cotemporary with Adam,
fmist have understood the law of righteousness, and had a knowledge
of the sacrifice of Christ, of which the sacrifice that he offered in faith
\vas typical. From these circumstances it is very certain that he was taught
the Gospel.

21. From tb.3 afore-mentioned facts, it cannot be reasonably doubted but
that the Gospel, with all its conditions, laws, ordinances, and blessings, wa
in the world as early as the days of Adam. And that Faith, Repentance, and
the Baptism or birth of the Water and of the Spirit, were known to Adam,
and to all of his righteous descendants that ever entered into the kingdom
of God.

22. But the Saints have additional testimony of the most positive nature
that Water Baptism commenced with the great progenitor of the human race.
For a knowledge of this fact we are indebted to a revelation in the prophecy
of Enoch, revealed to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, in December, 1830. (See
" Pearl of Great Price," pp. 1, 2, 3.)

23. Enoch spake the words of God, and said

" God hath made known unto my fathers that all men must Repent. And H
dled upon our father Adam by His own voice, saying, I am God : I made the
vorld and men before they were. And He also said unto him." * * * *
"Turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and Believe and Repent of all
*ny transgressions, and be Baptized even by Water, in the name of mine Only
Begotten Son, which is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only
name which shall be given under heaven whereby salvation shall come unto tht
children of men ; y shall ask all things in his name, and whatever ye shall ask it
shall be given. And our father Adam spak unto the Lord and said, " Why is it that
men must Repent and be Baptized by Water ? And the Lord said unto Adam, Be-


hold I have forgiven thee thy transgressions in the garden of Eden. Thenre came the
saying abroad among the people, That Christ hath atoned for original guilt, wherein
the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they
are whole from the foundation of the world.

24. " And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying, Inasmuch as thy children are con-
ceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and
they taste the bitter that they may know how to prize the good. And it is given unto
them to know good from evil : wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have
given unto you another law and commandment : wherefore teach it unto your chil-
dren, that all men, everywhere, must Repent, or they can in nowise inherit the
kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in His presence ; for
in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is His name ; and the name of His Onlj
Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a Righteous Judge which shall come.

25. " I give unto you a commandment to teach these things freely unto your
children, saying, That inasmuch as they were born into the world by the fall which
bringeth death, by Water and Blood and the Spirit which I have made, and so become
of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again of Water and the Spirit, and
cleansed by Blood, even the Blood of mine Only Begotten, into the mysteries of the'
kingdom of heaven ; that ye may be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of
eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory :
for by the water ye keep the commandment, by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the
Blood ye are sanctified, that in you is given the Record of heaven the Comforter
the peaceable things of immortal glory the truth of all things that which quicken-
eth all things which maketh alive all things that which Rnoweth all things, and
hath all power, according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.

26. " And now, behold, I say unto you, this ibthe plan of salvation unto all men :
the Blood of mine Only Begotten, which shall come in the meridian of time. And
behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear
record of me, both things which are Temporal and things which are Spiritual ; things
which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth ; and things which
are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath : ail
things bear record of me.

27. " And it came to pass when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father,
that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord,
and was carried down into the Water, and was laid under the Water and was
brought forth out of the Water: and thus he was Baptized, and the Spirit of God
descended upon him ; and thus he was born of the Spirit, and he became quickened
in the inner man : And he heard a voice out of heaven saying, Thou art Baptized
with Fire and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father and the Son,
from henceforth and forever : and thou art after the order of Him who was without
beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity. Behold, thou art one in me, a
Son of God ; and thus may all become my sons. Amen."

28. Enoch in his prophecy further says

" And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me, look ; and I looked and beheld
the land of Sharon, and the land of Enoch, and the land of Omner, and the land of
H&i, and the land of Shem, and the land of Haner, and the land of Hanannihah,
ann all the inhabitants thereof ; and the Lord said unto me, Go to this people, and
say unto them, Repent, lest I come out and smite them with a curse, and they die.
And He gave unto me a commandment, that I should Baptize in the name of the
Father, and the Son, which is full of grace and truth, and the Holy Spirit, which
bears record of the Father and the Son."

of). In the book of Genesis, as translated by inspiration, through the great
modern Prophet, Joseph Smith, we read that Noah preached Repentance and
Baptism. We give the following extracts :

30. "And in those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to
take away his life ; but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was
upon him."


31. "And the Lord ordained Noah, after His order, and commanded him that

he should go forth and declare His Gospel unto the children of men, even as it wa&
given unto Enoch.

32. "And it came to pass that Noah called upon men that they should repent;
but they hearkened not unto his words ; and also, after that they had heard him, they
came up before him, saying, Behold, we are the sons of God : Have we not taken
unto ourselves the daughters of men ? and are we not eating and drinking, and mar-
rying, and giving in marriage ? Our wives bear unto us children, and the .same are
mighty men, which are like unto them of old, men of great renown. And they
hearkened not to the words of Noah.

33. "And God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the earth
and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being-
only evil continually.

" And it came to pass that Noah continued his preaching unto the people, saying,
Hearken, and give heed unto my words, Believe and Repent of your sins, and be
Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers did, and
ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made mani-
fest ; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you. Nevertheless, they
hearkened not ; and it repented Noah, and his heart was pained that the Lord had
made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said I will
destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man. and beast,
and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air : for it repenteth Noah that I havs
created them, and that I have made them ; and he hath called upon me ; and they
have sought his life." (Pearl of Great Price," pp. 16, 17.)

34. From the foregoing quotations, it will be seen that the great plan of
falvatiorj, called the Gospel, was known among the ante-diluvians from Adam
to Noah, during which time Water Baptism was taught, as well as Faith and

35. Iii the history of Abraham, as revealed to Joseph Smith, the Seer,
we learn that the same Gospel was taught to Abraham as to his fathers. The
following is an extract :

36. " But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother's son, prayed unto the Lord, and the
Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me, Arise, and take Lot with thee, for I haTC
purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my
name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting
possession, when they hearken to my voice. For I am the Lord thy God ; I dwell in
heaven ; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my
roice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot ; I say to the mountains, depart
hence, arid behold they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly. My
name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning, therefore my hand shall
be over thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above
measure, and make thy name great among all nations ; and thou shalt be a blessing-
unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and priest-
hood unto all nations, and I will bless them through thy name ; for as many as re-
ceive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and
fhall rise up and bless thee, as their father ; and I will bless thm that bless thee, $hd
curse them that curse thee ; and in thee, that is, in thy priesthood, and in thy seed,

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Online LibraryOrson PrattWater baptism → online text (page 1 of 3)