The object set before us is to maintain the proposition, that Immersion in water is essential to Christian Baptism.
The point here involved is not by any means the most important of those upon which Baptists differ with many of their fellow Christians. The questions: Who ought to be baptized? and, What does baptism signify and effect? appear to us, so far as it is proper to assign degrees in matters of divine ordinance, to be of far greater consequence.
To insist on the Scriptural act of baptism is a necessary consequence of a great fundamental principle, which was once held by Baptists almost alone, but which many of our brethren of other connections are now coming to share-the exclusive authority of Scripture. We do not say simply the authority, nor the paramount authority, but the exclusive authority of Scripture. Baptism is performed at all, simply because the Scriptures direct us to perform it; therefore we feel bound to inquire what it is that they direct, and to do that. We cannot acknowledge any other authority. The opinions and practices of eminent Christians in past ages, yea, of our own best friends, our pastors, our parents, must not be regarded, except in so far as they may help us to determine what is taught on the subject in the Scriptures.
And it is not an inquiry as to the mere manner of performing a duty. The popular phrase, “mode of baptism,” seems to us to beg the question. The real question is, What is baptism? Compare the case of the Lord’s Supper. No Protestant insists strongly on any particular mode of observing the Lord’s Supper. We may have our preference, and may recommend it – as sitting around a table, kneeling around a railing, sitting in the pews, etc., – yet we do not insist. But when the Romanist gives only the bread to the laity, reserving the cup for the priests, all Protestants cry out. The Romanist might say, “Why, does not the bread really represent the great fact that Christ gave himself for us? Does not the body include the blood? May we not get all that is essential to the ordinance in taking the bread alone?” We – all who are commonly called Protestants – answer two things: First, to take the wine also, makes a more complete and expressive representation. Second, our Lord told us to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him; what right have we to alter that which he appointed, is if we knew better than he?
Now just the same ground do Baptists take as to baptism. They do not insist strongly on the mere manner and circumstances of its administration. Thus, it is a mere question of taste and convenience whether it shall be performed in a stream or a baptistery. Dr. Judson preferred to baptize face foremost. Even the practice of trine immersion, which was once very common, and still exists in some quarters, while it is in our judgment unwarrantable and improper, may be considered a matter of no great importance. The question is, not what is the most appropriate manner of performing baptism, but what is the act to be performed. And when any think proper to alter this act, we object most earnestly, and for the same two reasons as in the other case. First, the act enjoined gives a more complete and expressive representation of those things which baptism denotes; in fact, without it the representation is grievously defective. Second, our Lord told us to baptize; what right have we to alter his appointment? He did not tell us to recline at a table as he was doing, and take bread and wine, but he told us to take bread and wine; and we do not insist on the reclining: we insist on the bread and wine. He did not tell us to be baptized in the Jordan, or in a river, as he was, but he told us to be baptized; and we do not insist on the Jordan, or any river, or any other mere circumstance, but we insist on the baptizing.
John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism
HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MARTYRS TO THE FIRST GENERAL PERSECUTIONS UNDER NERO
Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania Africa, and even in Britain in which latter country he was crucified, AD 74.
John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
A. Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, (Psalm 110:3) in ruling and defending us, (Matthew 2:6; 1 Corinthians 15:25) and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism
Published in 1646
The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.
CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.
XXXII THE only strength by which the saints are enabled to encounter with all oppositions and trials, is only by Jesus Christ, who is the captain of their salvation, being made perfect through sufferings; who hath engaged His faithfulness and strength to assist them in all their afflictions, and to uphold them in all their temptations, and to preserve them by His power to His everlasting kingdom.
John 16:33,15:5; Phil.4:11; Heb.2:9,10; 2 Tim.4:18.
The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46
This declared by the first class of works, viz., the admirable motions of the heavens and the earth, the symmetry of the human body, and the connection of its parts; in short, the various objects which are presented to every eye.
2. In attestation of his wondrous wisdom, both the heavens and the earth present us with innumerable proofs not only those more recondite proofs which astronomy, medicine, and all the natural sciences, are designed to illustrate, but proofs which force themselves on the notice of the most illiterate peasant, who cannot open his eyes without beholding them. It is true, indeed, that those who are more or less intimately acquainted with those liberal studies are thereby assisted and enabled to obtain a deeper insight into the secret workings of divine wisdom. No man, however, though he be ignorant of these, is incapacitated for discerning such proofs of creative wisdom as may well cause him to break forth in admiration of the Creator. To investigate the motions of the heavenly bodies, to determine their positions, measure their distances, and ascertain their properties, demands skill, and a more careful examination; and where these are so employed, as the Providence of God is thereby more fully unfolded, so it is reasonable to suppose that the mind takes a loftier flight, and obtains brighter views of his glory. Still, none who have the use of their eyes can be ignorant of the divine skill manifested so conspicuously in the endless variety, yet distinct and well ordered array, of the heavenly host; and, therefore, it is plain that the Lord has furnished every man with abundant proofs of his wisdom. The same is true in regard to the structure of the human frame. To determine the connection of its parts, its symmetry and beauty, with the skill of a Galen, (Lib. De Usu Partium,) requires singular acuteness; and yet all men acknowledge that the human body bears on its face such proofs of ingenious contrivance as are sufficient to proclaim the admirable wisdom of its Maker.
John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 5-Henry Beveridge Translation
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
Here the Apostle anticipates an objection which was likely to be brought against what he said in verses 26-30. Does not the teaching that justification is entirely by grace through faith evince that God has relaxed His claims, changed the standard of His requirements, set aside the demands of His government? Very far from it. The Divine plan of redemption is in no way an annulling of the Law, but rather the honoring and enforcing of it. No greater respect could have been shown to the Law than in God’s determining to save His people from its course by sending His co-equal Son to fulfill all its requirements and Himself endure its penalty. Oh, marvel of marvels; the great Legislator humbled Himself unto entire obedience to the precepts of the Decalogue. The very One who gave the Law became incarnate, bled and died, under its condemning sentence, rather than that a tittle thereof should fail. Magnified thus was the Law indeed, and for ever “made honorable.”
Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism
IF our congregations were what they ought to be, it would be a very simple matter to preach, for a sermon would then only need to be like the orders given by a commanding officer to his troops, short, sharp, plain, clear, distinct. Our hearers would not want illustrations and metaphors; they would ask simply to be told what they must do to be saved; and the more plainly they could be told, the better pleased would they be. I am going to try this evening to preach that kind of sermon, sinking the preacher in the teller of good news, plainly speaking of the way of salvation. If you want to be saved, listen to my message. If you do not care for salvation, yet, mayhap, while you hear of it, you may be set a-longing, and God may bless you.
My text is preceded and followed by other important words, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” The gospel, then, is for “every creature.” Wherever there is a man, woman, or child, an intelligent creature, the gospel is to be preached to such a person. You who are gathered tonight are clearly within that description, and therefore the gospel is to be preached to you. But if we are commanded to preach it, it is implied that you are commanded to hear it. To hear it without attention, to hear it without resolving to obey it, will be useless work. Hear it, therefore, as I desire to preach it, remembering that Christ stands here to hear me preach, and to mark how you accept the message from himself that I am to deliver.
Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889