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ACTS, X. 47.
CAN ANY MAN FORBID WATER, THAT THESE SHOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED, WHO HAVE RECEIVED The Holy Ghost As Well As We?
I HOUGH the religion of the gofpel is 'a pure and fpiritual fcrvice, not incumbered with ceremonies, yet being adapted to the nature of man, it does not wholly omit pofitive duties. It enjoins two fimple, eafy, and .expreffive rites, as figns and means of moral goodnefs and vital piety; viz. baptifm and the Lord's fupper. Baptifm with water has 4>een almost univerfally by chriftians believed to have been appointed by the author of the difpenfation as a standing ordinance. The apostles evidently adminiftered it to converts, Jewifh and Gentile, in token of their admiffion into the number of Chrift's followers, and as a public acknowledgment of the admitted perfons, that they were his difciples, and owned him for their Lord
and Mafter. There is reafon to fuppofe, that this rite was uniformly obferved by all pfofeflbrs of chriftianity, in the age immediately fucceeding the apoftles, and therefore had the fan&ion of both apoftolic inftructions and practice. It is believed that the early biftory of the church does not point to a time when it was confidered as a novelty, or when the propriety and neceffity of the ordinance were called in queftion.
The nature and defign of this fervice have been varioufly explained, and without doubt grofsly miftaken and perverted in fubfequent periods. In our times, not only the mode and fubje&s, but even the obligation and ufe of the ordinance, have become matters of difpute with fome, who name the name of Chrift. There are thofe who contend againft forms with a precife formality; and there are others who feem to think pofitive duties of no value, becaufe moral duties are fuperior; and fome have probably been led to difparage rites altogether, from difguft at the abufes attending them.
Different fects in modern times have maintained that baptifm with water was not commanded by Chrift; and that though it was adminiftered by the apoftles and firft minifters of the church, yet they did not confider it as a gofpel ordinance, but as a ceremony to be ufed or negle&ed according to their difcretion. Hence they have inferred, that if baptifm be lawful, yet it is not required. One ft ct profefs to account it a Jewifh carnal ordinance, which is abolimed. Another talk of there being but one chriftian baptifm, that of the Holy Ghoft and of fire, at the fame.time admitting that if any wifh for water baptifm, either by fprinkling or im