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T.W. Brents

The subject of baptism has engaged the attention of many of the wisest heads, and employed the tongues and pens of many of the ablest speakers and writers that have blessed the world by their labors since the days of the Apostles. In the examination of a subject upon which there has been so much spoken and written, it will not be expected that we shall be able to present a single thought that has not been presented in some shape by someone who has preceded us. If there is a subject connected with man’s salvation that has been exhausted, surely this one has. We have read everything that has come in our way on the subject, and have profited especially by the writings of Campbell, Carson, Conant, Booth, Gale, Hinton, Bailey, and Stuart, whose works we have by us at this writing; but we will write just as though nothing had ever been written on the subject before, presenting everything we may deem important to a thorough examination of the subject in our own way, without regard to the source from which we learned it, whether from the Bible or the writings of men tried by the Bible. If we speak not as the oracles of God speak, then prove all things and hold fast that which is good.

First, then, we inquire:


When Jesus commanded his disciples to teach all nations, baptizing them, did He mean anything? if so, what? It is scarcely necessary to say to the reader that the words baptist, baptism, baptize, baptized, and baptizing are all Greek words anglicized in termination to satisfy the demands of English euphony, and transferred (not translated) to our version of the sacred Scriptures; hence, if we would comprehend the subject, we must learn correctly the meaning of these words, not as defined by authors whose works are made to reflect the faith of the party to which they belong, but we must get at their import at the time the Saviour and the inspired speakers and writers employed them.

The word baptisma, rendered baptism, occurs in the New Testament twenty-two times. The word baptismos occurs four times, three times rendered washing and once baptism. Baptistees occurs fourteen times connected with John, and is rendered baptist. Baptidzo occurs eighty times, seventy-eight times rendered baptize, baptized, etc., and one time each wash and washing. This family of words is derived from bapto, and each derivative partakes of the primary import of this word. It occurs five times in the New Testament, and embapto once. Matt. xxvi:23, Mark xiv:20, Luke xvi:24, John xviii:26 (twice) and Rev. xix:13. This word is never used to indicate baptism, and hence is not transferred but translated every time; hence you will find it dip, dippeth, dipped. Language has no law that is better established than that derivative words inherit the radical form and primary meaning of the words from which they are derived. This being so, and the primary meaning of bapto being dip, does it not follow that its derivative baptidzo must be rendered dip, immerse, or by some word equivalent thereto? If baptism may be performed by sprinkling or pouring, is it not strange that we never have baptidzo, the word used to indicate it, rendered sprinkle or pour? These words often occur in the sacred Scriptures, but never from the word baptidzo. Sprinkle is always from its own representative raino, and pour from cheo.

While the primary meaning of bapto, and, per consequence, of its derivative baptidzo, is to dip, immerse, overwhelm, the meaning of sprinkle is to scatter in drops, and pour to turn out in a stream. As well might we expect purely English parentage to produce a progeny of baboons and monkeys as for baptidzo, or any other word derived from bapto, to mean sprinkle or pour. Worcester, in his unabridged Dictionary, first defines the Greek word baptismos “a dipping,” and then proceeds to define the same word (less two letters) as an English word thus: “Act of baptizing, a Christian rite or sacrament, symbolical of initiation into the church and consecration to a pure life; performed by immersion, ablution, or sprinkling, and accompanied with a form of words.”

Now, how are we to reconcile his definition of baptismos, “a dipping,” with his definition of baptism, “performed by immersion, ablution, or sprinkling?” The former is the primitive meaning of the Greek when Jesus used it to indicate His will, the latter is the modern abuse of the term defined in accommodation to present usage. The Greek baptidzo he defines “to dip or merge,” and then defines baptize “to administer baptism to; to immerse in water, or to sprinkle with water, in token of initiation into the Christian church; to christen.” Here again we see that the word employed by the Lord means to dip or merge, while its modernized equivalent means to immerse or sprinkle. Webster, in his unabridged Dictionary, defines “baptisma baptismos, from baptidzein, to baptize, from baptein, to dip in water.” Then he defines baptism as from these: “The act of baptizing, the application of water to a person, as a sacrament or religious ceremony, by which he is initiated into the visible church of Christ. This is usually performed by sprinkling or immersion.” When defining the Greek, it means to dip, but in these days it is usually performed by sprinkling or immersion! Can dipping be done by sprinkling? We introduce these authors, not for the purpose of objecting to them, for they were bound to define words as used when they wrote, but we introduce them, first, to show the marked difference between the Greek words employed by inspiration and the modern abuse of them; and, secondly, that we may have the benefit of their authority in showing that the Greek, from which we have the words in controversy, means to dip or immerse. Had there been any such meanings as sprinkle and pour in the Greek, surely they would have found them, and the definitions they give to the anglicized equivalents show that had they found them they would have given them. Ours is a living, growing, and, therefore, a changing language, and the import of adopted words is as liable to be changed by usage as native English words. Surely, it would have astonished the Greek writers of eighteen hundred years ago to have found a definition to baptisma, like those given to baptism by Webster and Worcester, saying, “it may be performed by immersion, ablution, or sprinkling.”

 But let us examine the works of those whose peculiar business it is to define Greek words:
1. PICKERING defines baptidzo “to dip, immerse, submerge, plunge, sink, overwhelm; to steep, to soak, to wet, to wash one’s self, or bathe.”
2. GROVES: “Baptidzo (from bapto, to dip), to dip, immerse, immerge, plunge; to wash, cleanse, purify.”
Mr. Groves and many others show that baptidzo comes from bapto, to dip; hence, however numerous the meanings of bapto, baptidzo inherits only the primary meaning dip, in accordance with the law already laid down.
3. ROBINSON: “Baptidzo — to immerse, to sink; for example, spoken of ships, galleys, etc. In the New Testament, to wash, to cleanse by washing; to wash one’s self, to bathe, perform ablution,”etc. Mr. Robinson was a Presbyterian and gives the primary meaning of the word baptidzo to immerse, and then gives the meanings wash, cleanse, etc., from the New Testament, from such passages as do not speak of baptism, and where the word is translated, as Mark vii:4, Luke xi:38.
4. LIDDELL and Scott: “Baptidzo — to dip in or under water; of ships, to sink or disable them. Pass., to be drenched. 2. 2. Metahp., soaked in wine, over head and ears in debt; being drowned with questions or getting into deep water. To draw wine by dipping the cup in the bowl. 3. To baptize. Mid., to dip oneself; to get oneself baptized. [Latest edition]. “Baptismos — a dipping in water, ablution. “Baptistas — one that dips, a baptizer, the Baptist, N.T.” In the first American edition of Liddell and Scott’s lexicon to pour upon was in the definition of baptidzo, but this was expunged from subsequent editions. In a discussion at Flat Creek, our opponent read these definitions from his edition of Liddell and Scott, remarking that this work had been tampered with by immersionists until it is difficult to tell when we have the real definitions of the authors — that it is likely an edition will be presented not having pour upon in its definition of baptidzo. When asked who was the editor of his edition, he said, “Drisler.” Drisler is the editor of our edition, and, as far as we are informed, is the only American editor who has ever published Liddell and Scott. So, it is certain that the same editor had control of the work when pour upon was in the definition, and when it came out; and could such a definition have been verified by examples it would doubtless have been retained. As it could not be sustained and had to come out, it is quite clear that sectarianism put it there and would have kept it there if any such meaning belonged to the word.
5. DONNEGAN: “Baptidzo — to immerse repeatedly into a liquid, to submerge; to soak thoroughly, to saturate, hence to drench with wine. Metaphorically, to confound totally; to dip in a vessel and draw. Passive, to be immersed.” Some lexicographers regard the termination “zo” as a frequentative, indicating a repetition of the act; hence they define baptidzo “to dip repeatedly.” But Moses Stuart, a justly celebrated Presbyterian critic, in his work on baptism, has clearly shown this to be an error. Indeed, those who oppose us cannot base an objection on this hypothesis, for then would they have to repeat their sprinkling as often as we our immersion.
6. SCHREVELLIUS, whose definitions are given in Latin, defines baptidzo, “baptizo, mergo, abluo, lavo;” which we translate, I baptize, I immerse, I cleanse, I wash. The foregoing definitions we have taken directly from the original works of the authors quoted. The definitions following, we collate from debates where they were presented in presence of opponents competent to have exposed any want of fidelity to the works from which they were taken. That they are correct we have no doubt.
7. SCAPULA: “Baptidzo — to dip, to immerse; also, to submerge or overwhelm, to wash, to cleanse.”
8. STEPHANUS: “Bapto and baptidzo — to dip or immerse, as we dip things for the purpose of dyeing them, or immerge them in water.”
9. ROBERTSON: “Baptidzo — to immerse, to wash.”
10. PASOR: “Bapto et baptidzo — to dip, immerse, to dye, because it is done by immersing. It differs from  dunai, which means to sink to the bottom and to be thoroughly submerged.” “Metaphorically, in Matthew, afflictions are compared to a flood of waters, in which they seem to be immersed who are overwhelmed with the miseries and misfortunes of life, yet only so overwhelmed as to emerge again.”
11. PARKHURST: Baptidzo — to immerse in or wash with water, in token of purification.” “Figuratively, to be immersed or plunged into a flood or sea, as it were of grievous afflictions and suffering.”
12. BRETSCHNEIDER: Baptidzo — properly, often to dip, often to wash; to wash, to cleanse; in the middle voice, I wash or cleanse myself. An entire immersion belongs to the nature of baptism. This is the meaning of the word; for in baptidzo is contained the idea of a complete immersion under water; at least so is baptisma in the New Testament. In the New Testament baptidzo is not used unless concerning the sacred and solemn submersion, which the Jews used.” “Baptisma — immersion, submersion. In the New Testament it is used only concerning the sacred submersion, which the Fathers call baptism.”
13. SUIDAS: “Baptidzo — to sink, to plunge, immerse, wet, wash, cleanse, purify.”
14. GREENFIELD: “Baptidzo means to immerse, immerge, submerge, sink.” In New Testament, “to wash, perform ablution, cleanse; to immerse, baptize, and perform the rite of baptism.”
15. BASS: “Baptidzo — to dip, immerse, plunge in water; to bathe one’s self; to be immersed in sufferings or afflictions.”
16. DR. JOHN JONES: Baptidzo — I plunge, I plunge in water, dip, baptize, bury, overwhelm.”
17. WAHL: “Baptidzo (from bapto — to immerse; more frequently, to immerse in N. T.) To immerse (always in Josephus, Ant. IX, 10, 2, etc. Polyb. etc.). Properly and truly concerning sacred immersion.”
18. HEDERICUS: “Baptidzo — I plunge, immerse, overwhelm in water, I cleanse, wash, I baptize, in a sacred sense. Baptisma — immersion, dipping, baptism. Baptistees — one who immerses, who washes; one who baptizes; a baptizer.
19. EWING: “Baptidzo — in its primary and radical sense, I cover with water or some other fluid, in whatever manner this is done, whether by immersion or effusion, wholly or partially, permanently, or for a moment; and in the passive voice, I am covered with water or some other fluid, in some manner or other. Hence, the word is used in several different senses, referring either mediately or immediately to the primary idea. It is used to denote, First: I plunge or sink completely under water. Second: I cover partially with water, I wet. Third: I overwhelm or cover with water by rushing, flowing, or pouring upon. And in the passive voice, I am overwhelmed or covered with water in that mode. Fourth: I drench or impregnate
with liquor by effusion. Fifth: I oppress or overwhelm, in a metaphorical sense, by bringing afflictions or distresses upon. Sixth: I wash, in general, without specifying the mode. Seventh: I wash for the special purpose of symbolical, ritual, or ceremonial purification. Eighth: I administer the ordinance of Christian baptism; I baptize.
20. Vossus: “Baptidzo — to baptize, signifies to plunge. It certainly, therefore, signifies more than epi polazin, which is to swim lightly on top, and less than dunein, which is to sink to the bottom so as to be destroyed.”
21. TROMMIUS: “Baptidzo — to baptize, to immerse, to dip.”
22. BAGSTER: “Baptidzo — to dip, to immerse, to cleanse, or purify by washing, to administer the rite of baptism, to baptize. “Baptisma — immersion, baptism, ordinance of baptism. “Baptismos — an act of dipping or immersing.”
23. SOPHOCLES: “Baptidzo — to dip, to immerse; sink, to be drowned (as the effect of sinking), to sink. Trop., to afflict; soaked in liquor; to be drunk, intoxicated.”
24. LEIGH: “Baptidzo — the native and proper signification of baptidzo, is to dip in water, or to plunge under water.”
25. RICHARDSON: “Baptidzo — to dip or merge in water, to sink, to plunge or immerse.”
26. SCHOTTGENTUS: Baptidzo, from bapto — properly, to plunge, to immerse, to cleanse, to wash.”
27. CASTEL.: “Baptidzo — to bathe, baptize, immerse.”
28. CONSTANTINE: Baptismos — baptism, the act of dyeing; that is, of plunging.
29. MINHERT: “Baptidzo — to baptize, properly, indeed, it signifies to immerse, to plunge, to dip in water. But because it is common to plunge or dip a thing to wash it, hence it signifies also to wash, to wash away. “Baptisma — immersion, dipping into, washing, washing away; properly, and according to its etymology, it denotes that washing that is done by immersion.”
30. THAYER: “Baptidzo — 1 Prop. to dip repeatedly, to immerge, submerge … 2. to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water … to wash one’s self, bathe. Met. overwhelm. Baptisma — N.T. immersion, submersion.
31. SUICER: “Baptidzo — properly denotes an immersion or dipping into.”
32. ANTHON: Dr. Anthon, though not a lexicographer, as a scholar has no superior in America. He says: “The primary meaning of the word (baptidzo) is dip or immerse, and its secondary meanings, if it ever had any, all refer to the same leading idea. Sprinkling, pouring, etc., are entirely out of the
33. STOKIUS: Stokius defines in Latin, and is supposed to give some comfort to those who practice effusion and aspersion. The plan of his work is somewhat different from other lexicographers, as indicated in the title page, which we give, as follows: “Clavis of Christian Stokius, Professor in Public Academy at Jena; Opening the way to the sacred tongue of the New Testament; exhibiting, in convenient order, first, the general and then the special meanings of words; assisting especially the studies (or efforts) as well of tyros as of the cultivators of homiletics and exegesis; and then supplying the place of  concordances with an index of words. Fourth edition, enlarged and improved.” By this it will be seen that he gives, first, the general and then the specific meanings. Hence, he defines baptidzo “to wash, to baptize,” and then proceeds to define the word specifically as follows: “Generally, and by force of the word, it obtains the notion of a dipping and an immersion. Second: Specifically, and properly, it is to immerse or to dip into water. Figuratively, by metalepsis, it is to wash, to cleanse, because a thing is accustomed to be dipped or immersed in water that it may be washed or cleansed; although washing or cleansing can and is accustomed to be done by sprinkling water.” [Thus, we see how it is that baptidzo comes to mean wash, because things are accustomed to be dipped that they may be washed.]
“Baptisma — baptism: 1. Generally, and by force of its origin, it denotes immersion or dipping. 2. Specifically, properly it denotes the immersion or dipping of a thing into water that it may be cleansed or washed; hence, it is transferred to designating the first sacrament of the New Testament, which they call [the sacrament] of initiation — namely, baptism, in which those to be baptized were formerly immersed into water; though at this day the water is only sprinkled upon them, that they may be cleansed from the pollutions of sin, obtain the remission of it, and be received into the covenant of grace as heirs of eternal life. 3. By metaphor, it signifies the miraculous effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other believers, not only on account of the abundance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as formerly water was abundantly poured upon those baptized, or they were immersed deep into the water, but also on account of the efficacy and virtue of the Holy Spirit, which, like living water, refreshes in heart, cleanses from filth, and purifies.” Thus, we have given a perfectly literal translation of the Latin of Stokius, made directly from his original work, that the reader may have the full benefit of it. He shows clearly that baptidzo primarily means to dip or immerse, and that it means to wash only because things are accustomed to be dipped that they may be washed. Nor is this all; he most clearly shows that the custom of the present day is a departure from the original practice. As to when, how, and by whom this departure from primitive practice was introduced we will see at the proper time. He also shows that persons were baptized, in early times, that they might be cleansed from the pollutions of sin and obtain the remission of it. Will the reader remember this when we come to examine the design of baptism?
34. SCHLEUSNER: “Baptidzo — properly, I immerse, and I dip (intingo), I sink into the water. From bapto, and corresponds to the Hebrew tabal; 2 Kings v:14, in the Alexandrian version; to tabang, in the writings of Symmachus, Psalmody 68:5, in anonymous Psalm 9:6. But it is never used in this signification in the New Testament, but is frequently thus used in Greek writers. “Now, because a thing is accustomed to be immersed, or dipped in water, that it may be washed, hence it marks (or denotes) I cleanse, I wash, I purge with water; thus it is used in Mark vii:4. “Jesus did not wash himself before dinner. Luke xi:38. “Metaphorically, as in Latin, I wet, or I soak, I give and supply largely and copiously, I pour forth abundantly; e.g., Matt. iii:11. ‘He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.’ “It can be proved that baptidzesthei, in many places, signifies, not only to be washed, but also that one washes himself. “Baptisma — baptism; a verbal noun from the passive participle of bebaptisma, of the verb baptidzo, (1) properly, immersion, dipping into water, a washing. Hence, it is transferred to the sacred rite which, par excellence, is called baptism, in which formerly those to be baptized were plunged into water that they might be bound to the true divine religion. Thus, it is used concerning the baptism which John the Baptist administered by divine command (Matt. iii:7, Luke vii:29), which, par excellence, is called the baptism of repentance, because he bound men to a willing obedience to God and an emendation of their spirits. Here, truly, it should be observed that the expression ‘the baptism of John’ has sometimes a wider signification, and by synecdoche it signifies the whole function, institution, and doctrine of John the Baptist. By metaphor, the heaviest afflictions and calamities were endured on account of religion, in which those who sustained them were as if they were submerged, which formerly were not improperly called a baptism in blood. “Baptismos — a washing, cleansing, purification.” As Schleusner’s Lexicon, like that of Stokius, is in possession of but very few, and is not published in America making it almost impossible to purchase it without an order to London, we have given a literal translation, made directly from the Latin of his work. And as his language is most cruelly perverted, and those who have not the lexicon are imposed upon by those who are willing to support a favorite dogma at the expense of truth, we have given all he has said which we regard at all calculated to throw any light on the subject. His definition of baptidzo is quoted thus: “Properly to immerse or dip, to plunge into water, from bapto but in this sense it never occurs in the New Testament.” See Louisville Debate, page 487. It was also thus used in debate with us at Flat Creek. By leaving out the words to which the author refers when he says “in this sense it never occurs in the New Testament,” he is made to say that baptidzo never occurs in the sense of immerse, dip, or plunge into water, in the New Testament. By reference to his definition it will be seen that he says in the sense of tabang it is never used in the New Testament. Tabang means to sink, to be sunk, immersed, as in mire or a pit; and the examples referred to are cases where baptidzo is used in this sense, without any reference to emersion from that into which the immersion occurred. The author’s definition of the noun baptisma (which was left out in the debates referred to), shows that because it does mean immerse, dipping, etc., it is transferred to the sacred rite which, par excellence, is called baptism, in which those formerly to be baptized were plunged into water. Thus, Schleusner was made to say just the opposite to what he did say. Certainly, the whole weight of his authority is in favor of immersion as baptism. Thus, we have the definition of baptidzo from thirty-four lexicons, most if not all of which were made by pedobaptists, and with great unanimity they give dip, immerse, or some equivalent word as its primary meaning. Surely, if authority can settle the meaning of a word, the settled meaning of baptidzo is to dip or immerse. But we have the testimony of other profound scholars who have incidentally defined the word baptidzo when writing on other subjects. At the risk of wearying our readers we will hear them also:
1. MICHAELIS: To baptize, to immerse, to bathe.
2. SCHAAF: “To bathe one’s self, to bathe, to dip, immerse in water, baptize.”
3. GUIDO FABRICUS: “To baptize, dip, bathe.”
4. BUXTORF: “To baptize, dip, bathe one’s self.”
5. SCHINDLER: “To baptize, dip, bathe, immerse in water.”
6. PASCHAL AUSCHER: To baptize, to wash by plunging in water.”
7. MEKITAR VARTABED: The same as Auscher.
8. ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA: Baptism, that is, dipping, immersion, from the Greek word baptidzo.”
9. EDINBURGH ENCYCLOPEDIA: In the times of the apostles the act was very simple. The person was dipped in water.”
10. KITTO’S ENCYCLOPEDIA: The whole person was immersed in water.”
11. ALSTEDIUS: “Baptidzein signifies only to immerse, and not to wash, except by consequence.”
12. WILSON: “Baptize, to dip in water, or plunge one into water.”
13. DR. WILLIAM YOUNG: To dip all over, to wash, to baptize.”
14. BAILEY: “Baptism, in strictness of speech, is that kind of ablution or washing which consists in dipping, and, when applied to the Christian institution, it was used by the early Christians in no other way than that of dipping, as the learned Grotius and Casaubon observe.”
15. BUTTERWORTH renders baptidzo “to dip, immerse, or plunge.” Bliss, Let. p. 18.
16. JOHN ASH’S Dictionary, London, 1776, renders baptize “to dip, plunge, to overwhelm, to administer baptism.”
17. BRANDE’S ENCYCLOPEDIA of Science, Literature, and Art, article Baptism: “Bapto — I dip. Baptism was originally administered by immersion. At present sprinkling is generally substituted
for dipping — at least in northern climates.”
18. BEZA: “Christ commanded us to be baptized, by which word it is certain immersion is signified. To be baptized in water signifies no other than to be immersed in water, which is the external ceremony of baptism.”
19. ALTINGIUS: “Baptism is immersion when the whole body is immersed, but the term baptism is never used concerning aspersion.”
20. BISHOP BASSUET: To baptize signifies to plunge, as is granted by all the world.”
21. HOSP1NIANUS: “Christ commanded us to be baptized, by which word it is certain immersion is signified.”
22. GURTLERUS: “To baptize, among the Greeks, is undoubtedly to immerse, to dip; and baptism is immersion, dipping. The thing commanded by our Lord is baptism, immersion in water.”
23. BUDDEUS: “The words baptizein and baptismos are not to be interpreted of aspersion, but always of immersion.”
24. VENEMA: “The word baptizein, to baptize, is nowhere used in the Scripture for sprinkling.”
25. PROFESSOR FRITSCHI: “Baptism was performed, not by sprinkling, but by immersion; this is evident not only from the nature of the word, but from Rom. vi:4.”

26. PROF. PORSON: “The Baptists have the advantage of us; baptism signifies a total immersion.”
27. CATTENBURGH: “In baptism the whole body is ordered to be immersed.”
28. KECKERMANUS: “We cannot deny that the first institution of baptism consisted in immersion, and not sprinkling.”
29. STOURDZA, a native Greek: “The verb baptizo has only one acceptation. It literally and perpetually signifies to plunge. Baptism and immersion, therefore, are identical; and to say baptism by aspersion is as if one should say immersion by aspersion, or utter any other contradiction of the same nature.”
30. JEREMIAH, the Greek Patriarch: “The ancients were not accustomed to sprinkle the candidate, but to immerse him.”
31. DANIEL ROGERS: “That the minister is to dip in water, the word denotes it. None of old were wont to be sprinkled.”
32. BISHOP JEREMY TAYLOR: “The custom of the ancient churches was not sprinkling, but immersion — in pursuance of the sense of the word in the commandment and the example of our
blessed Saviour.”
33. DR. GEO. CAMPBELL: “The word baptizein, both in sacred authors and in classical, signifies to dip, to plunge, to immerse, and was rendered by Tertullian, the oldest of the Latin fathers, tingere, the term used for dyeing cloth, which was by immersion. It is always construed suitably to this meaning.”
34. DRS. STORR AND FLATT’S THEOLOGY: “The disciples of our Lord could understand his command in no other manner than as enjoining immersion. Under these circumstances, it is certainly to
be lamented that Luther was not able to accomplish his wish with regard to the introduction of immersion in baptism, as he had done in the restoration of the wine in the eucharist.”
35. LONDON QUARTERLY REVIEW: “There can be no question that the original form of baptism — the very meaning of the word — was a complete immersion in the deep baptismal waters, and
that, for at least four centuries, any other form was either unknown or else regarded as exceptional, almost a monstrous case.”
36. CURCELLIUS: “Baptism was performed by plunging the whole body into water, and not by sprinkling a few drops, as is now the practice. Nor did the disciples that were sent out by Christ
administer baptism afterwards in any other way.”
37. MARTIN LUTHER: “The term baptism is a Greek word; it may be rendered into Latin by mersio — when we immerse anything in water, that it may be entirely covered with water. And though this
custom be quite abolished among the generality (for neither do they entirely dip children, but only sprinkle them with a little water), nevertheless they ought to be wholly immersed, and immediately to
be drawn out again, for the etymology of the word seems to require it.”
38. KNAPP’S THEOLOGY: “Baptisma, from baptizein, which properly signifies to dip in, to wash by immersion.”
39. DR. BLOOMFIELD, on Mark i:9: “The sense of ‘was baptized in’ is ‘was dipped or plunged into.’ He underwent the rite of baptism by being plunged into the water.”
40. VETRINGA: “The act of baptizing is the immersion of believers in water. This expresses the force of the word. Thus, also it was performed by Christ and the apostles.”
41. PROF. MOSES STUART: “Bapto and baptizo mean to dip, plunge, or immerse into anything liquid. All lexicographers and critics of any note are agreed in this.”
42. CALVIN: “The word baptize signifies to immerse, and the rite of immersion was practiced by the ancient church.”
43. WITSIUS: “It cannot be denied that the native signification of the words baptein and baptizein is to plunge, to dip.”
44. ZANCHIUS: “The proper signification of baptize is to immerse, plunge under, overwhelm in water.”
45. DR. CHALMERS: “The original meaning of the word baptism is immersion, and, though we regard it as a point of indifference whether the ordinance so named be performed in this way or by sprinkling, yet we doubt not that the prevalent style of administration in the apostles’ days was by an actual submerging
of the whole body under water.”
46. SMITH’S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE: “Baptisma, baptism (the word baptismos occurs only four times, viz: Mark vii:4, 8, Heb. vi:2, ix:10). The verb baptidzein (from baptein, to dip) is the rendering of the Hebrew by the LXX, in 2 Kings v:14. The Latin fathers render baptidzein by tingere, mergere, and mergitare. By the Greek fathers the word baptidzein is often used, frequently figuratively, for to immerse or overwhelm with sleep, sorrow, sin, etc. Hence baptisma properly and literally means immersion.”
47. PICTET: “They immerse the whole body in water in order that the baptized might be counted a child of the covenant. Now, John (the Baptist) administered the rite among the Jews in the manner above described, and the same rite was used by Christ.”
48. SALMASIUS: “Baptism is immersion, and was administered in former times according to the force and meaning of the word.” R. Fuller, p. 20. “Baptism signifies immersion, not aspersion,
nor did the ancients baptize any but by dipping.” Witsius’ Works, Vol. III, pp. 390, 391.
49. AUGUSTI: “The word baptism, according to etymology and usage, signifies to immerse, submerge, etc., and the choice of the expression betrays an age in which the latter custom of sprinkling had not been introduced.”
50. BRENNER: The word corresponds in signification with the German taufen, to sink in the deep.”
51. PAULLUS: “The word baptize signifies in Greek sometimes to immerse, sometimes to submerge.”
52. SCHOLZ: “Baptism consists in the immersion of the whole body in water.”
53. IKENIUS: “The Greek word baptismos denotes the immersion of a person or a thing into something.”
54. CASAUBON: “To baptize is to immerse.” Fuller, p. 72. “This was the rite of baptizing that persons were plunged into the water, which the very word baptizein, to baptize, sufficiently declares.” Judson p. 11.
55. CHRISTOPHULUS, a Greek: “We follow the examples of the apostles, who immersed the candidate under the water.”
56. RIDGELEY: “The original and natural signification of the word baptize imports to dip.”
57. LIMBORCH: “Baptism consists in washing or rather immersing the whole body in water, as was customary in primitive times.”
58. SIR JON FLOYER: “Immersion is no circumstance but the very act of baptism.”
59. POOLE’S CONTINUATORS: “To be baptized is to be dipped in water; metaphorically, to be plunged in afflictions.”
60. VALESIUS, in his edition of Eusebius’ Eccl. Hist., speaking of the pouring of water all over Novatian while he was sick says: “Moreover, since baptism properly signifies immersion, such perfusion (pouring over) could hardly be called baptism.”
61. COLEMAN: “The term baptism is derived from the Greek word bapto, from which term is formed baptizo, with its derivatives baptismos and baptisma, baptism. The primary signification of the original is to dip, to plunge, immerse. The obvious import of the noun is immersion.”
62. EDINBURGH REVIEWERS: “They tell me (says Carson) that it was unnecessary to bring forward any of the examples to prove that the word signifies to dip, that I might have commenced with this as a fixed point universally admitted.”
63. WETSTENIUS: “To baptize is to plunge, to dip. The body, or part of the body being under water, is said to be baptized.”
64. MELANCTHON: “Baptism is an entire action; to wit: a dipping and a pronouncing the words I baptize,” etc.
65. ISAAC BARROW: “The action is baptizing or immersing in water.”
66. BURMANNUS: “Baptismos and baptisma, if you consider the etymology, properly signifies immersion.”
67. RICHARD BENTLY: Baptismos — baptism, dipping.
68. BECKMANUS: “Baptism, according to the force of its etymology, is immersion and washing or dipping.”
69. BUCANUS: “Baptism, that is, immersion, and by consequence washing. Baptistery, a vat or large vessel of wood or stone in which we are immersed for the sake of washing. Baptist, one that immerses or dips.”
70. OTTO VON GERLACH: “The Greek word (baptizo) properly signifies dip. Baptism was performed in the first times of Christianity by immersion in water.” The foregoing quotations are mostly from Bailey’s Manual, where he gives references to the works from which they are taken, many of which we have examined and know that they are correct. Added to the lexicographers quoted, they make one hundred and four scholars who say, one and all, that the word used by the Lord to indicate the act required by Him of those who would become obedient to His will, primarily and literally means to dip or immerse. He who will not be satisfied with this testimony would not likely be satisfied by the presentation of much more that might be adduced.

We propose next to examine the use of the term by those who lived before, during, and subsequent to the time when Christ and the apostles used it. Carson, Stuart, and Conant have given us perhaps every known occurrence of the word in the whole range of Greek literature. Dr. Conant, in his “BAPTIZEIN,” has given two hundred and thirty-six examples of its use, of which he says: “The examples of the common meaning and use of the word in Sections I and II, are from every period of Greek literature in which the word occurs.

They include all that have been given by lexicographers, and by those who have written professedly on this subject; and these, with the examples added from my own reading, exhaust the use of this word in Greek literature. “The quotations have been copied, in every instance, by myself or under my own eye, from the page, chapter, or section referred to. Special pains have been taken to make these references as definite and clear as possible, that any passage may be easily found; the author’s name being given, the name of the treatise and its divisions (if any are made), and the volume and page of the edition in most
common use, or of the one accessible to me.” We have not room to give our readers the benefit of all the examples given by Dr. Conant, but we will give a sufficient number to indicate the import of the term at the time it was used by the authors of the New Testament. We give the number attached to each example in Dr. Conant’s work, by which they may be found by anyone who may choose to look for them. We do not follow the numerical order of the Doctor, because we wish to present such examples as will give the use of the word at a sufficient period before the days of the Saviour, and coming down through His time to a sufficiently late period to give its use at the time He employed it.

EXAMPLE – PINDAR, born 522 before Christ, Pythic Odes, II, 79, 80 (144- 147). Comparing himself to a cork of a fisher’s net, floating at the top, while the other parts of the fishing tackle are doing service in the depth below, he says: “For, as when the rest of the tackle is toiling deep in the sea, I, as a cork above the net, am undipped (unbaptized) in the brine.”

EXAMPLE – POLYBIUS, born 205 before Christ, History, book i, chap. 51, 6. In his account of the sea fight at Drepanum, between the Romans and Carthagenians, describing the advantages of the latter in their choice of a position, and in the superior structure and more skillful management of their vessels, he says:
“For, if any were hard pressed by the enemy, they retreated safely, on account of their fast sailing, into the open space; and then, with reversed course, now sailing round and now attacking in flank the more advanced of the pursuers, while turning and embarrassed on account of the weight of the ships and the
unskillfulness of the crews, they made continued assaults and SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) many of the vessels.

EXAMPLE – The same work, book viii, ch. 8, 4. Describing the operations of the engines which Archimedes constructed for the defense of Syracuse when besieged by the Romans, and with which he lifted the prows of the besieging vessels out of the water, so that they stood erect on the stern, and then let them fall, he says: “Which being done, some the vessels fell on their sides, and some were overturned, but most of them, when the prow was let fall from on high, being SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED), became filled with sea-water and with confusion.”

EXAMPLE – The same history, book xxxiv, ch. 3, 7. In his description of the manner of taking the sword-fish (with an iron-headed spear or harpoon), he says: “And even if the spear fall into the sea, it is not lost, for it is compacted of both oak and pine, so that when the oaken part is IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) by the weight, the rest is buoyed up, and is easily recovered.”

EXAMPLE – The same work, book iii, ch. 72, 4. Speaking of the passage of the Roman army, under the consul Tiberius, through the river Tebia, which had been swollen by heavy rains, he says: “They passed through with difficulty, the foot soldiers IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) as far as to the breast.”

EXAMPLE – AESOPIC FABLES; fable of the mule, who, finding that he lightened his load of salt by lying down in the water, repeated the experiment when loaded with sponges and wool. “One of the salt-bearing mules, rushing into a river, accidentally slipped down, and rising up lightened (the salt becoming dissolved),
he perceived the cause and remembered it; so that always, when passing through the river, he purposely lowered down and IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) the pannier. Of uncertain date (related in Plut. Moral., Skill of Water and Land Animals, xvi).

EXAMPLE – AESOPIC FABLES; writer and date unknown; fable of the Man and the Fox: “A certain man, having a grudge against a fox for some mischief done by her, after getting her into his power contrived a long time how to punish her, and DIPPING (BAPTIZING) tow in oil, he bound it to her tail and set fire to it.”

EXAMPLE – HOMERIC ALLEGORIES, ch. 9; (B. C., uncertain how long). The writer explains the grounds of the allegory (as he regards it) of Neptune freeing Mars from Vulcan thus: “Since the mass of iron drawn red hot from the furnace is PLUNGED (BAPTIZED) in water; and the fiery glow, by its own nature quenched with water, ceases.”

EXAMPLE – STRABO, born about 60 years B. C., Geography, book xii, ch. 2, 4. Speaking of the underground channel through which the waters of the Pyramus (a river of Cilicia in Asia Minor) forced their way, he says: “And to one who hurls down a dart from above into the channel, the force of the water makes so much resistance that it is hardly IMMERSED (BAPTIZED).

EXAMPLE – The same work, book vi, ch. 2, 9: “And around Acragos Agrigentum in Sicily: are marsh lakes, having the taste indeed of seawater, but a different nature; for even those who cannot swim are not IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) floating like pieces of wood.

EXAMPLE – The same work, book xiv, ch. 3, 9. Speaking of the march of Alexander’s army along the narrow beach (flooded in stormy weather) between the mountain called Climax and the Pamphilian Sea, he says: “Alexander happening to be there at the stormy season, and accustomed to trust for the most part to fortune, set forward before the swell subsided, and they marched the whole day in water, IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) as far as to the waist.

EXAMPLE – The same work, book xiv, ch. 2, 42. Speaking of the asphalt in the lake Lirbanus, which floats on the surface on account of the greater specific gravity of the water, he says: “Then floating at the top on account of the nature of the water, by virtue of which we said there is no need of being a swimmer, and
he who enters in is not IMMERSED (BAPTIZED), but is lifted out.”

EXAMPLE – STRABO, born about the year 60 B.C., Geography, book xii, ch. 5, sec. 4. Speaking of the lake Tatta, in Phrygia (which he calls a natural salt pit), he says: “The water solidifies so readily around everything that is IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) into it, that they draw up salt crowns when they let down a circle of rushes.”

EXAMPLE – DIODORUS wrote his history about 60-30 B.C., Historical Library, book xvi, ch. 80. In his account of Timoleon’s defeat of the Carthagenian army on the bank of the river Crimissus, in Sicily, many of the fugitives perishing in the stream, swollen by a violent storm, he says: “The river, rushing down with the current, increased in violence, SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) many, and destroyed them attempting to swim through with their armor.”

EXAMPLE – The same work, book 1, ch. 36. Describing the effects of the rapid rise of water during the annual inundation of the Nile, he says: “Most of the wild land animals are surrounded by the stream and perish, being SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) but some, escaping to the high grounds, are saved.”

EXAMPLE – JOSEPHUS, born A.D. 37, Jewish Antiquities, book xv, ch. 3, 3. Describing the murder of the boy Aristobulus, who (by Herod’s command) was drowned by his companions in a swimming-bath, says:
“Continually pressing down and IMMERSING (BAPTIZING) him while swimming, as if in sport, they did not desist till they had entirely suffocated him.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Jewish Wars, book 1, ch. 22, 2, relating to the same occurrence, says: “And there, according to command, being IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) by the Gauls in a swimming-bath, he dies.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Jewish Wars, book iii, ch. 8, 5: “As I also account a pilot most cowardly, who, through dread of a storm, before the blast came, voluntarily SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) the vessel.

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Jewish Wars, book iii, ch. 9, 3. Describing the condition of the vessels in the port of Joppa, during a storm, he says: “And many [of the vessels] struggling against the opposing swell toward the open sea (for they feared the shore, being rocky, and the enemies upon it), the billows, rising high above, SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) them.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Antiquities of the Jews. book ix, ch. 10, 2. In his narrative of Jonah’s flight, and of the events that followed, he says: The ship being just about to be SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED).

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Life of Himself, sec. 3, says: For our vessel having been SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) in the midst of the Adriatic, being about six hundred in number, we swam through the whole night.”

EXAMPLE – PLUTARCH, born A.D. 50, Life of Theseus, xxiv, quotes the following oracle of the Sybil, respecting the city of Athens: “A bladder, thou mayest be IMMERSED (BAPTIZED), but it is not possible for thee to sink.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Life of Alexander, xvii. Describing a season of revelry in the army of Alexander the Great, when returning from his eastern conquests, he says: “Thou wouldest not have seen a buckler, or a helmet, or a pike, but the soldiers, along the whole way, DIPPING  (BAPTIZING) with cups, and horns, and goblets, from great wine- jars and mixing-bowls, were drinking to one another.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, on Superstition, iii. The superstitious man, consulting the jugglers on his frightful dreams, is told: Call the old Expiatrix, and PLUNGE (BAPTIZE) thyself into the sea, and spend a day in sitting on the ground.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, Gryllus, vii. He says of Agamemnon: Then bravely PLUNGING (BAPTIZING) himself into the lake Capais, that there he might extinguish his love and be freed from desire.”

EXAMPLE – LUCIEN, born about 135 A.D., Timon or the Man-hater, 44. Among the resolves for the direction of his future life (to testify his hatred of mankind) is the following: “And if the winter’s torrent were bearing one away, and he with outstretched hands were imploring help, to thrust even him headlong, IMMERSING (BAPTIZING) so that he should not be able to come up again.”

EXAMPLE – The same writer, True History, book ii, 4. In this satire on the love of the marvelous, he pleasantly describes men walking on the sea (having cork feet), and says: “We wondered, therefore, when we saw them not IMMERSED (BAPTIZED), but standing above the waves and traveling on without fear.”

EXAMPLE – DION CASSIUS, born A.D. 155, Roman History, book xxxvii, ch. 58. In the description here given of the effects of a violent storm of wind, he says: “So that very many trees were upturned by the roots, and many
houses were thrown down; the ships which were in the Tiber, and lying at anchor by the city and at its mouth, were SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED), and the wooden bridge was destroyed.

EXAMPLE – The same work, book xii, ch. 42. Describing the defeat of Curio by Juba, king of Numidia (at the siege of Utica, in Africa), and the fate of the fugitives, many losing their lives in their eager haste to get aboard of their vessels, and others by overloading and sinking them, he says: “And many of them who had fled perished; some thrown down by the jostling in getting on board the vessels, and others SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED) in the vessels themselves by their own weight.”

EXAMPLE – PORPHYRY, born A.D. 233, Concerning the Styx. Describing the Lake of Probation, in India, and the use made of it by the Brahmins for testing the guilt or innocence of persons accused of crime, he says:
“The depth is as far as to the knees; … and when the accused comes to it, if he is guiltless he goes through without fear, having the water as far as to the knees; but if guilty, after proceeding a little way he is IMMERSED (BAPTIZED) unto the head.”

EXAMPLE – GREGORY, A.D. 240, Panegyric on Origen, xiv. Describing him as an experienced and skillful guide through the mazes of philosophical speculations, he says: “He himself would remain on high in safety, and, stretching out a hand to others, save them as if drawing up persons SUBMERGED (BAPTIZED).

EXAMPLE – ACHILLES TATIUS, A.D. 450, Story of Clitophon and Leucippe, book iii, ch. 1. The vessel being thrown on her beam ends in a storm, the narrator says: “We all, therefore, shifted our position to the more elevated parts of the ship, in order that we might lighten that part of the ship that was IMMERSED (BAPTIZED).

EXAMPLE – The same writer (Ibidem). “But suddenly the wind shifts to another quarter of the ship, and the vessel is almost IMMERGED (BAPTIZED) .

EXAMPLE – ACHILLES TATIUS, A.D. 450, Story of Clitophon and Leucippe, book ii, ch. 14: “And there is a fountain of gold there. They PLUNGE (BAPTIZED) into the water, therefore, a pole smeared with pitch, and open the barriers of the stream. And the pole is to the gold what the hook is to the fish, for it catches it; and the pitch is a bait for the prey.” Many other examples might be given, but these are deemed
sufficient to show that baptidzo, at the time the Saviour and the writers of the New Testament used it, primarily meant to dip or immerse. It is admitted that classic Greek writers often employed the word in a metaphorical sense, but we are seeking for its primary and literal meaning, as used in the New Testament. 

The examples given cover a period of nearly a thousand years, embracing the time when the Lord and the apostles lived. Josephus was born A.D. 37, and hence lived and wrote contemporaneously with the apostles. He was a native Jew and wrote in the Greek language, and certainly understood the word as used by his people. As a scholar he was inferior to no man of his day. He says: “Now, my father Matthias was not only eminent on account of his nobility, but had a higher commendation on account of his righteousness, and was in great reputation in Jerusalem, the greatest city we have. I was myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother; and I made mighty proficiency in the improvements of my learning, and appeared to have both a great memory and understanding. Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high-priests and principal men of the city then came frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law,” etc.

Again: Ant., book xx, ch. xi, sec 3, p. 139, he says: “I am so bold as to say, now I have so completely perfected the work I proposed to myself to do, that no other person whether he were a Jew or a foreigner, had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so accurately deliver these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these books. For those of my own nation freely acknowledge that I far exceed them in the learning belonging to the Jew. I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness,” etc.

 Although these extracts were written by Josephus himself, yet the literary world awards him all the ability claimed in them, as the following paragraph will show:
“JOSEPHUS, FLAVIUS, a celebrated Jewish historian, was born at Jerusalem 37 A.D. He was of both royal and sacerdotal lineage, being descended, on the mother’s side, from the line of Asmonean princes, while his father, Matthias, officiated as a priest in the first of the twenty-four courses. The careful education he received developed his brilliant faculties at an unusually early period, and his acquirements both in Hebrew and Greek literature — the two principal branches of his studies – soon drew public attention upon him.” Chambers’s Encyclopedia. Josephus used the word baptidzo, in some of its forms, fourteen times, several examples of which we have given, and surely he knew the meaning his people attached to it; and had they used it in a sense different from him, it is likely it would have been mentioned by him somewhere. It is sometimes said that he used the word in the sense of drowning, but this is manifestly an error. The boy Aristobulus, of whom he speaks, was indeed drowned, but we know the fact, because it is so stated, and not because of any such meaning in the word baptidzo. Many persons admit that the word baptidzo in classic Greek means to dip or immerse, but they insist that it has a different meaning in the New Testament. The reader will remember that the seventy authors already quoted defined the word in its scriptural application, and they say it means immerse when used to indicate baptism; and the examples given from the classics show that with the Greek classic writers it meant the same thing.

Moses Stuart says: “That the Greek fathers and the Latin ones who were familiar with the Greek understood the usual import of the word baptidzo would hardly seem to be capable of a denial. That they might be confirmed in their view of the import of this word, by common usage among the Greek classic authors, we have seen in the first part of this dissertation.” — Stuart on Baptism, p. 154. How could the fathers be confirmed in the fact that baptidzo meant immerse by classic usage, if their use of it differed from its use among the classics? Mr. Hughey, a distinguished Methodist debater, of great learning and research, in his debate with President Braden, p. 81, says: “I will show by examples from the classics that
the classical usage agrees with the Hellenistic and patristic usage of the word.” After giving some examples of its use, on page 82, he says: “These examples show, by the usage of the word, that classical usage agrees exactly with the scriptural usage and also the usage of the fathers.” When summing up his argument, on page 157, he says: “I showed by a number of examples from the classics that classical
usage agrees with Scripture and patristic usage.” Thus, we have his testimony, in three different places, that the classic usage of baptidzo differs not from scriptural and patristic usage. Such is his testimony, though different from some of his brethren.

Dr. H. A. W. Meyer, in his Manual on the Gospels of Mark and Luke, says: “The expression in Mark vii:4, is not to be understood of the washing of hands (as interpreted by Lightfoot and Wetstein), but of the immersing — which the word always means in the classics and in the New Testament.” Bailey’s Manual, p. 294. Thus, with Dr. Meyer, it means the same in both places. Dr. George Campbell says: “The word baptidzein, both in sacred authors and classical, signifies to dip, to plunge, to immerse.”

Campbell on Baptism, p. 142. Dr. George Campbell, as a scholar and biblical critic, had no superior in his time, and he unites his testimony with the others given, and still others which might be given, in proving that baptidzo means to dip or immerse in both sacred and classic usage. It is true, as shown by Schluesner, that the Greek classic writers sometimes used the word to indicate sinking without regard to emersion, while in the Scriptures it is used in the sense of dip, as in 2 Kings v:14, which includes the idea of emersion. Hence says Paul: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him.” Col. ii:12. But this is rather a difference in application than in primary import. Immersion is the leading idea in the classics as well as in the Scriptures. But were we to admit a difference in the primary import of the word, unless it be shown to mean sprinkle and pour in the New Testament, the admission could not serve sprinklers any purpose?  This is the point which they must prove. That dip, immerse, or some equivalent word, is necessary to express the primary meaning of baptidzo, is admitted by all; but it is insisted that wash, wet, stain, dye, etc., are figurative meanings; and, as washing, wetting, staining, and dyeing may be done by pouring or sprinkling, therefore baptism may be performed in either of these ways. Wash, wet, stain, dye, etc., cannot be real meanings, but are purely metonymical — that is, they are effects of the true or real meaning of the word.

No two meanings can be given to the same word which are antagonistic to each other. Stains are removed by washing, and, therefore, the same word cannot literally mean both wash and stain. Washing may be the effect of immersing in clean water, while staining and dyeing may be done by immersing in impure or coloring fluids; hence these opposite meanings cannot be otherwise than metonymical — that is, they are effects produced by the real meaning, dipping or immersing. All these figurative meanings, so- called, may be the effect of immersion, but they cannot all be the effect of sprinkling or pouring, for washing and dyeing are not done in either of these ways. Sprinkling a few drops of water on a filthy garment would not be likely to wash it well, nor would pouring a little water on one end of a garment be very apt to wash or cleanse the balance of it. And if it were a coloring fluid it would not be a good process by which to dye a whole web to sprinkle or pour a little of the fluid on one end of it.

But does the word baptidzo ever mean to color or dye? We beg the attention of the reader to the following very appropriate remarks of Dr. Carson on this subject. He says: “The word BAPTO, from which is formed BAPTIDZO, signifies, primarily, to dip; and, as a secondary meaning, obviously derived from the primary, it denotes to dye. Every occurrence of the word may be reduced to one or other of these acceptations.” Carson on Baptism, p. 18. On page 19 he says: “There is a very obvious difference in the use of the words, and a difference that materially affects the point at issue. This difference is, BAPTO IS NEVER USED TO DENOTE THE ORDINANCE OF BAPTISM, AND BAPTIDZO NEVER SIGNIFIES TO DYE. But the derivative is formed to modify the primary only, and in all the Greek language, I assert that an instance is not to be found in which it has the secondary meaning of the primitive word. If this assertion is not correct, it will be easy for learned men to produce an example in contradiction. That bapto is never applied to the ordinance of baptism any one can verify who is able to look into the passages of the Greek Testament where the ordinance is spoken of. Now, if this observation is just, it overturns all those speculations that explain the word, as applied to baptism, by an allusion to dyeing; for the primitive word that has this secondary meaning is not applied to the ordinance, and the derivative word, which is appointed to express it, has not the secondary signification of dyeing. Bapto has two meanings; baptidzo in the whole history of the Greek language has but one. It not only signifies to dip or immerse, but it never has any other meaning. Each of these words has its specific province, into which the other cannot enter, while there is a common province in which either of them may serve. Either of them may signify to dip generally, but the primitive cannot specifically express that ordinance to which the derivative has been appropriated, and the derivative cannot signify to dye, which is a part of the province of the primitive. The difference is precise and important.” While we think it likely that Dr. Carson’s language is rather strong in some respects, he shows most conclusively that baptidzo cannot mean to dye. Indeed, we have no faith in the transmission of secondary or metonymical meanings from primitive to derivative words. They inherit the primary but not foreign meanings of the words from which they came. But as Dr. Carson was an immersionist it may be well to hear from those who practiced effusion and aspersion.  Dr. Moses Stuart says: “I have already intimated that baptidzo is distinguished from bapto in its meaning. I now add that it is not, like the latter word, used to designate the idea of coloring or dyeing; while in some other respects it seems, in classical use, to be nearly or quite synonymous with bapto. In the New Testament, however, there is one other marked distinction between the use of these verbs. Baptidzo and its derivatives are exclusively employed when the rite of baptism is to be designated in any form whatever, and in this case bapto seems to be purposely as well as habitually excluded.” Here we have a confirmation of Dr. Carson’s statement by one whose authority will not be questioned by those who oppose us. If these authors are worthy of credit, baptidzo does not mean to dye.

But suppose that in this they are mistaken, as immersion is admitted by all to be the primary meaning of the word representing baptism, we wish to know why it is to give place to figurative or metonymical meanings, such as wash, wet, stain, dye, etc.?

 All philological laws require preference to be given to the primary meaning of words, unless good reason be shown for its removal. We submit the following rules for the use and interpretation of words, arranged by Moses Stuart, of Andover, aided by Edward Robinson, author of Robinson’s Greek Lexicon, Robinson’s Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon, etc.

1. “To every word in Scripture there is unquestionably assigned some idea or notion, otherwise words are useless, and have no more signification than the inarticulate sounds of animals.” Ernesti, p. 7.
2. “The literal meaning of words is the sense that is so connected with them as to be spontaneously presented to the mind as soon as the sound of the word is heard, and that is first in order. The
literal sense does not differ from the sense of the letter.” Ibid.
3. “A particular meaning being attached to a word can no more be changed or denied than any historical event whatever. All men in their daily conversation and writings attach but one sense to a word, at the same time and in the same passage, unless they design to speak in enigmas. The sense of a word cannot be diverse or multifarious at the same time and in the same passage or expression.” Ibid., p. 9.
4. “There can be no certainty at all in respect to the interpretation of any passage, unless a kind of necessity compels us to affix a particular sense to a word, which sense must be one, and unless
there are special reasons for a tropical meaning, it must be literal.” Ibid, p. 10.
5. “The sense of words depends upon the usus loquendi.” Ibid., p. 13.
6. “Words are proper and tropical, literal and figurative. First: A proper or literal word is a definite name given to a certain thing. Originally, words were undoubtedly used in their proper and literal sense. Second: Tropes or metaphorical words are called by Aristotle strangers, foreigners. Ibid, p. 21.
7. “In no language can a word have more than one literal meaning in the same place.” Ibid.

By these rules we see that a word can have but one meaning at the same time and in the same place, and that the primary meaning must be given to words unless there be special reasons for its removal. These rules come to us from the very fountain of authority in America, and have existence in the nature of all language. Having thus found that the primary meaning of baptidzo is to dip or immerse, dare we set it aside and adopt a metonymical, metaphorical, or figurative meaning, for no better reason than to save a favorite theory or to avoid going into the water where the Lord commanded us to go?

In the Septuagint Greek of the Old Testament we have baptidzo as a translation of the Hebrew word taval, which modern theologians insist means sprinkle or pour. Although this word is never employed to indicate baptism, as baptidzo is once a translation of it, it may be well for us to examine it briefly. In the Hebrew Bible it is used fourteen times, and is rendered by King James’ translators dip, every time; hence, we have the unanimous testimony of the forty-seven distinguished scholars employed by him in the translation of the Hebrew Bible, that this is the meaning of the word. The following are the connections in which it occurs:

Genesis xxxvii:31: “And they took Joseph’s coat and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood.”
Exodus xii:22: “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin.”
Leviticus iv:6: “And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood;” chap. ix:9: “And the sons of Aaron brought the blood unto him, and he dipped his finger in the blood;” chap. xiv:6: “And shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed;” verse 16: “And the priest shall dip his finger in the oil;” verse 51: “And he shall take the cedar wood and the hyssop, and the scarlet and the living bird and dip them in the blood of the slain bird and in the running water.”
Numbers xix:18: “And a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in water.”
Deut. xxxiii:24: “Let him dip his foot in oil.”
Joshua iii:15: “The feet of the priests that bear the ark were dipped in the brim of the water.”
Ruth ii:14: “And dip thy morsel in the vinegar.”
1 Sam. xiv:27: “Wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in an honeycomb.”
2 Kings v:14: “And dipped himself seven times in Jordan,” chap. viii:15: “He took a thick cloth and dipped it in water.”
In Lev. ix:9, we have dipped and poured in the same verse; dipped is from taval, but poured is not. In Lev. xiv:16, we have dip and sprinkle in the same verse; dip is from taval, sprinkle is not. Why is this? If taval means to sprinkle and pour, why was it not used to express sprinkling and pouring even when it was employed in the same verse? We have four Hebrew lexicons by us as we write, which define the word as follows: “Taval — to dip, to dip in, to immerse, to dip or immerse one’s self. Ex. 2 Kings. v:14: He went down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan.

 ROBINSON & GESENIUS Heb. Lex., p. 364.
“Taval — 1, to dip, immerse, plunge; 2, to tinge or dye with a certain color, which is usually performed by dipping.”

PARKHURST, page 255.
“Taval — 1. He dipped; 2. He was dipped.”

 ROBERTSON’S Hebrew Dictionary by Joseph, page 111.
“Taval — dip, dip in, immerse, submerge.” STOKIUS, Vet. Test., Vol. 1, p. 421.
“Taval — merge, immerse.” M. STUART, Chr. Bap., p. 119.
SCHUEUSNER incidentally defines taval in his definition of
baptidzo thus: “to immerse, dip, plunge into water; from bapto, and corresponds to the Hebrew taval.”

Besides these, we have in other works the following definitions of taval, viz.:
1. By DAVIDSON: “Taval — 1, to dip, to immerse; 2, to stain.”
2. BUXTORF: “Taval — to dip, to dip into, to submerge, to immerse.”
3. DR. KLEEBURG, a celebrated Jewish rabbi, of Louisville, Ky., answered certain interrogatories propounded to him, thus: “I. What does taval mean? It means to immerse, to dip. 2. Does it ever
mean to sprinkle or pour? It never means to sprinkle or pour. 3. Did the Hebrews always immerse their proselytes? They did. The whole body was entirely submerged.

4. Were the Jewish ablutions immersions? [Before eating and prayer, and after rising in the morning they washed; when they have become unclean, they must immerse.” Louisville Debate, p.652. Thus, we see these authors concur in giving the import of taval to dip or immerse; hence, as far as it throws any light upon baptidzo, it certainly does not give any support to sprinkling or pouring.

We next present the reader with a table of versions of the New Testament, showing the several languages into which, it has been translated, when the translations were made, and the word representing baptidzo in each of the languages, which we copy from Bailey’s Manual, pages 121, 122, 123: 










2d century,  




6th century,  








7th century (?)  













shustan and shuzidan,  



4th century,  












3d century,  


immerse, plunge.  


2d century,  




3d century,  




5th century,  




9th century,  





(same root)  




(same root)  




(same root)  




(same root)  




(same root)  


Dorpat Esthonian,  


(same root)  



4th century,  















Dutch, etc.,  









8th century,  




8th century,  







Of the early Fathers,  

2d century,  




3d century,  




4th century,  















English (Wickliffe),  


wash, christen, baptize,  


English (Tindale),  
















Here are thirty-eight versions of the New Testament, made at periods extending from the latter part of the second century to 1822, none of which represent baptism by a word indicating to sprinkle or pour, nineteen of which represent it by a word meaning to immerse, six by a word meaning to dip, and one to plunge, while others use words meaning to bathe and cleanse, which manifestly refer to the same leading thought. But it is insisted that the Syriac word amad means to pour or shed forth. In support of our table of versions we offer the following testimony as to the meaning of this word:

SCHAAF: “Amad — to bathe one’s self, to bathe, dip, immerse into water, baptize.” Syriac Lex., Lyons, 1708.
MICHAELIS: “Amad — to bathe, baptize, immerse.” Syriac Lex., Gottingen, 1788.
GUIDO FABRICUS: “Amad — to baptize, dip, bathe.” Syro-Chal. Lex. accompanying Antwerp Polyglot, Antwerp, 1592.
BUXTORF: “Amad — baptize, dip, bathe one’s self.” Chaldee and Syriac Lex., Basle, 1662.
BEZA: After remarking that baptidzo properly means to immerse and never to wash, except as a consequence of immersion, says: “Nor does this signification of ‘amad,’ which the Syrians use for
‘baptize,’ differ at all from this.” Appendix to Stewart on Baptism, p. 249.
ULEMAN: “Amad — to suffer one’s self to be dipped, to suffer one’s self to be baptized. Amada — dipping, baptism.” Syriac Gram. with Sex. by Hutchinson, p. 359.
EPHRAIM CYRUS was a native Syrian, who lived in the fourth century; speaking of Christ, says: “How wonderful is it that thy footsteps were planted on the waters; that the great sea should subject itself to thy feet; and that yet, at a small river, that same head of thine should be subject to be bowed down and baptized in it.” Gotch’s Bible Questions, p. 130.

These definitions and examples of the meaning of amad are quite sufficient to sustain our table of versions as to this word. But it is further insisted that the German taufen signifies to sprinkle or pour. If this be so, our table needs correction at this point.

Let us see how this is:
LUTHER says: “The Germans call baptism tauff, from depth, which they call tief in their language, as if it were proper those should be deeply immersed who are baptized. And truly, if you consider what baptism signifies you shall see the same thing required.” Luther’s Works, Vol. 1, p. 72, Wittenberg, 1582.

HEINSIUS: “Taufen signifies, in a general sense, to plunge into water (as a bomb dipped in pitch and rosin); in a more limited sense, to immerse in water in a religious way.” German Dict., 4 vole., Hanover, 1822.

SMILTHENNER: “Taufen, in old German, taufian, from taufa,which signifies tiefe, (i.e., deep), consequently it means to immerse.” Etymol. Dict., 1834.

KALTSCHMIDT: “Taufen — to immerse (eintauchen) to consecrate to Christianity, to name.” Germ. Lex., Leipsic, 1834.

SCHWENCK: “taufen — to immerse in water; specially, to purify with water for admission to the Christian church. Taufen is the same as tauchen.” Etymol. Dict. 3d ea., 1838.

GEMTHE: “Tauchen and taufen were originally the same; the act expressed by taufen was performed by immersion (untertauchen). At present the word taufen retains its proper signification — overwhelm with water.” Gemthe’s Germ. Synonyms, 1838.

WIEGAND’S GERMAN SYNONYMS: Taufen – originally equivalent to untertauchen (to dip under), signifies, in its religious use, to immerse in water.”

KNAPP’S THEOLOGY, Vol. ii, p. 501, Andover edition, taufen is incidentally defined. This great German scholar says:  “Baptisma, from baptidzein, which properly signifies to immerse, like the German taufen, to dip in, to wash by immersion.”

WEBSTER and WORCESTER each give taufen as the German synonym of dip.

Surely these authorities are sufficient to establish immersion or dipping as the meaning of taufen, the German word representing baptism. The Chaldee word tseva is also brought into the service of sprinklers in modern times.

GESENIUS defines it thus: “To dip in, to immerse; hence to tinge, to dye.” Heb. and Chal. Lex., p. 891. M. STUART says: “The Syriac has a word like the Chaldee tseva …which means to plunge, immerse.” Christ. Bap., p. 155. Thus it will be seen that there is not much appearance of sprinkle or pour in it.  Having viewed the word baptidzo through the light of thirty- four lexicographers, seventy commentators and critics, numerous examples of its use among the classics, and its representatives in thirty-eight different versions, made at different times and in different countries, and every-where found that its primary import is to dip or immerse, and that the laws of interpretation require us to retain the primary meaning, unless good reason be found for its removal, we are now prepared to open the New Testament and see what the Lord required of those commanded to be baptized.


To the apostles Jesus said: “Go teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Matt. xxviii:19. Here, He who was possessed of all authority in heaven and upon earth commanded his apostles to do something, to which the obedient of all nations were bound to submit. We have found a rule of interpretation saying: “To every word in Scripture there is unquestionably assigned some idea or notion, otherwise words are useless, and have no more signification than the inarticulate sounds of animals.” What particular idea, notion, or thought is attached to the word “baptizing” in the commission given by the Lord? Did He employ the term in its ordinary, current signification, or did He attach to it some figurative or tropical meaning? If He used the word out of its current signification, and gave no notice thereof, we see not how He expected to be understood by those who heard Him. Unless a command is understood it cannot be obeyed; hence, we see not how persons are to submit to baptism when they know not what is required of them. Therefore, as it was necessary that He should be understood in order to be obeyed, we conclude He used the term baptizing in its ordinary or current acceptation; and if so, He commanded the apostles to immerse the people, for we have shown this to be the current meaning of the word used by Him.

Indeed, if the word means to sprinkle and to pour, it is difficult to see how the command can be obeyed at all; for the command requires the people to be baptized and not the water to be baptized upon the people. If sprinkling or pouring be the act required, then it is the water or element used that is baptized, and not the people; for it is certainly water that is sprinkled or poured. We are aware that Paul says: “When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people, according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people.” Heb. ix:19. But we regard this as no valid objection to the position we have taken, for Paul’s language was evidently elliptical, as may be seen by reference to the historical account of what Moses did: “And he took the book of the covenant and read in the audience of the people, and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the
blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” Ex. xxiv:7, 8. Hence, the ellipsis in Paul’s language being supplied, it means that Moses sprinkled the blood upon the people. 

But we may be asked, is not the commission also elliptical? Suppose it is; this will not affect our argument at all, as may be seen by supplying the ellipsis: 1. Teach the people, sprinkling (water upon) them. 2. Teach the people, pouring (water upon) them. 3. Teach the people, immersing them (in water).  Though the ellipsis be supplied, it changes not the act indicated. The government is not changed when the ellipsis is supplied as to immersion, the object of the action expressed by the participle is the people; hence they are immersed; but as to the act of sprinkling and pouring the government is entirely changed — the act expressed by the active participle sprinkling takes effect upon the water, and the word people is governed by a preposition. The same remark applies to pouring. The act expressed by it takes effect upon the water or element poured, and the word people is governed by a preposition. Then, when the word baptizing in the commission is made to mean pour it is the water that is baptized, because it is the thing poured, and when it is made to mean sprinkle it is the water that is baptized, because it is the thing sprinkled; but when it means immersing, the command can be obeyed by the people, for they may be immersed but cannot be sprinkled or poured.

But there is another difficulty involved in the idea of substituting sprinkling or pouring for immersion. The verb sprinkle means to scatter in drops, and is always followed by the material to be sprinkled, either expressed or understood. We may sprinkle blood, water, sand, or ashes on a man, but we cannot
sprinkle a man on anything. We sometimes speak of sprinkling a man with water when we mean to sprinkle water upon him, but the language is an outrage upon all grammatical accuracy. If we say, we sprinkle a man with water, the language must mean one of two things: first, that we sprinkle (that is, scatter in drops) both the man and the water together, as we eat butter with our bread; or, second,
that the water is the instrument with which we sprinkle or scatter the man, as we sprinkle water with a broom.

In the first construction, the nouns man and water are the objects of the action expressed by the verb sprinkle; and in the second construction, the noun man is alone the object and water the instrument — either of which involves a physical impossibility.

The verb pour means to turn out in a stream, and is followed by the thing poured, which must be something fluid or composed of small particles. It is as much impossible to pour a man as to sprinkle him. But those who practice sprinkling, pouring, and immersion as baptism tell us that the only authority, they have to baptize anybody is found in this verse: Matt. xxviii:19. (See Louisville Debate, p. 15.)

Then, when they sprinkle water upon any one as baptism they derive authority from this verse; when they pour water upon any one as baptism they derive authority from this verse; and when they immerse a man in water as baptism they get their authority from this same verse, hence, the word baptizing must mean sprinkle, pour, and immerse in this one place, in clear violation of the rule of interpretation, which says: “The sense of a word cannot be diverse or multifarious at the same time and in the same passage or expression;” and again: “In no language can a word have more than one literal meaning in the same place.”

Sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are three separate, distinct, and specific acts, diverse from each other; hence they cannot all be used as the meaning of “baptizing” in this place. But it may be said that sprinkle and pour are tropical meanings. This does not relieve the difficulty, for we have shown that immersing is the literal import; hence, you cannot give a literal and tropical meaning to the same word in the same place. If you do, the word becomes “multifarious” in violation of the laws of interpretation.

Again: if sprinkling, pouring, and immersing are all required to make up the full import of the word indicating the command in this place, then no one has been baptized in obedience to the command until he has submitted to all three of these acts — that is, until he has had water sprinkled upon him, poured upon him, and has been immersed in it.

But if it be insisted that in this one place the word authorizes one man to be immersed, another to have water sprinkled upon him, and a third to have water poured upon him, and that each case is a baptism, it follows that as they are different acts performed by different persons, each being a baptism, they are not one but three baptisms, and Paul was mistaken when he said that there is “one baptism;” for the phrase “one baptism” as much implies that there is but one baptism as does the phrase “one God” imply that there is but one God. Hence, we conclude that when the Lord said “go teach all nations, baptizing them,” He intended one specific act, and not three different acts. This one act is baptism — nothing else is.


We propose now to examine an example of baptism furnished in the baptism of Jesus by John, an account of which we have in Mark i:9, 10, as follows: “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him.”

Here we learn that Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan, after which He came up out of the water. For thus going into and coming out of the water there could have been neither reason nor propriety had sprinkling or pouring water upon Him been the baptism to which He submitted. It is true that in modern times we hear of persons going down into the water and having some of it poured or sprinkled upon them. This seems to be an artifice on the part of the administrator to satisfy the credulous subject, if possible, without at all doing the thing commanded. Surely, none will dare say the Lord ever commanded such a procedure.

But we are told that apo, the Greek word here rendered out of, primarily means from, and that nothing more was signified by it than that Jesus came up from the margin of the water. If apo be the correct word in the original text — about which we will see directly — is it not bound by the nature of the transaction, and by the meaning of the other words related to it in this connection, to mean out of? Mark tells us that John baptized Jesus in Jordan.

Hence, if the baptism took place in Jordan, must not the subject (Christ) come from within Jordan, or the place where the baptism occurred? But we are told that the Greek word eis, here rendered in, is sometimes rendered at, and may be so translated in this passage. Hence, John simply baptized Jesus at Jordan. But the whole force of this argument is based upon the primary meaning of apo; why, then, shall we not be allowed to demand the primary meaning of eis? We grant that primary meanings are to be preferred unless good reason be given for another. We dare not adopt or reject the meanings of words just as they may chance to favor or oppose our peculiar views.

The primary meaning of eis is into, and were it so rendered, the connection would show that John baptized Jesus into Jordan. As Jordan was a river, into the water of which Jesus was baptized, it is easy to see why He came “up out of the water;” and although apo, as contended, may primarily mean from, it is only from the place that eis put Him, and as this was into the water, the necessity of the case demands, as our rules of interpretation allow, a secondary meaning for apo, out of. Nor is there anything in apo making it unreasonable that from, in the passage, means from within the water. A man might say, “I came from Nashville,” when in truth he came from the Maxwell House in the very heart of the city.

Pickering, in his Greek Lexicon, gives us an example in which we see that apo means out of; as, From or out of Egypt. He further says: “It is also used instead of the prepositions ek, epi, peri, and hupo; as, Out of a hundred and twenty youths one only escaped;” thus showing us clearly that apo may and does often mean out of.

But some of the very best authorities known have ek in place of apoin the original text, among whom we may mention Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford, Greene, Bengel, Lackman, and Meyer. When, in connection with all this, we consider the additional fact that the multitudes were being baptized by John in the river of Jordan, the conclusion that he was immersed by John in Jordan is irresistible. If John did not baptize in the river, he did not preach in the wilderness. Matt. iii:1. If Jesus was only baptized at the Jordan, then He was only led by the Spirit at the wilderness, for both are expressed by the same original word. 

We have no confidence in the pictures exhibited by debaters in modern times, showing that John poured water on the head of the Saviour. But there is a thought or two connected with them to which we would solicit the attention of the reader. We have seen some ten or twelve of these, each representing the scene in a different manner from the others. No higher evidence than this is needed to prove them unfaithful in delineation, for, as He was baptized but once, it is not possible that a dozen modes were adopted.

Some of them represent Him as standing up to the waist in water, at least sufficiently deep to be immersed, while their criticisms upon eis and apo have Him baptized at or near the margin of the stream, and not in the water at all. Thus, their own pictures contradict their criticisms. Truly, “the legs of the lame are unequal.”

But it is said that “John baptized the people with water,” and hence applied the water to the subject and not the subject to the water. And, by way of illustration, they give us examples like the following: “I shave with a razor,” “I write with a pen,” etc. As an offset to these examples we might give the following: “The tanner tans his leather with ooze,” “The lady colors her web with dye,” etc. Surely, it will not be insisted that the tanner makes his leather by sprinkling a little ooze upon it, or that the lady colors her web by sprinkling a few drops of her dye thereon. Hence, the examples given by the objector can prove nothing. The original word from which we have the word with in the connection, “I indeed baptize you with water” (Matt. iii:11; Mark i:8), is the Greek en, the primary meaning of which is in, and which must be the meaning used, as our rules say, unless there is some circumstance compelling some other.

But so far from there being those compulsory circumstances, the other words and circumstances compel the retention of the primary meaning in. But we are told that en conveys the idea of instrumentality and must be rendered with. If so, when John baptized the people (en) with the river Jordan, we suppose he had rather an unwieldy instrument, to say the least of it. But we are told that the fearfully impetuous current of the Jordan would have rendered it impossible for John to have stood in it and baptized the people. As the testimony of Lieut. Lynch is invoked upon this subject, it will be well for us to hear what he says about it.

On page 255 of his work titled the “DEAD SEA AND THE JORDAN, he says:
“At 9:30 P.M. we arrived at ‘El Meshra,’ the bathing place of the Christian pilgrims, after having been fifteen hours in the boats. This ford is consecrated by tradition as the place where the Israelites passed over with the ark of the covenant, and where our blessed Saviour was baptized by John. Feeling that it would be desecration to moor the boats at a place so sacred, we passed it, and with some difficulty found a landing below. “My first act was to bathe in the consecrated stream, thanking
God first for the precious favor of being permitted to visit such a spot; and, secondly, for his protecting care throughout our perilous passage. Tradition, sustained by the geographical features of the country, makes this also the scene of the baptism of the Redeemer. The mind of man, trammeled by sin. cannot soar in contemplation of so sublime an event. On that wondrous day, when the Deity, veiled in flesh, descended the bank, all nature, hushed in awe, looked on, and the impetuous river, in grateful homage, must have stayed its course, and gently raved the body of its Lord.”

Thus, it will be seen that Lieut. Lynch did not think it impossible for the body of the Lord to have been gently raved by the waters of the Jordan. In describing a visit by a company of pilgrims to the Jordan, he says: “The party which had disturbed us was the advanced guard of the great body of the pilgrims. At 5, just at the dawn of day, the last made its appearance. coming over the crest of a high ridge, in one tumultuous anal eager throng.

In all the wild haste of a disorderly rout, Copts and Russians, Poles, Armenians, Greeks and Syrians, from all parts of Asia, from Europe, from Africa, and from far distant America, on they came; men, women, and children, of every age and hue, and in every variety of costume; talking, screaming, shouting, in almost every known language under the sun. Mounted as variously as those who had preceded them, many of the women and children were suspended in baskets or confined in cages; and, with their eyes strained toward the river, heedless of all intervening obstacles, they hurried eagerly forward, and dismounting in haste and disrobing with precipitation, rushed down the bank and threw themselves into the stream. They seemed to be absorbed by one impulsive feeling, and perfectly regardless of the observations of others. Each one plunged himself, or was dipped by another, three times below the surface, in honor of the Trinity; and then filled a bottle or some other utensil from the river. The bathing-dress of many of the pilgrims was a white gown with a black cross upon it. Most of them, as soon as they dressed, cut branches either of the agnus castus or willow, and, dipping them in the consecrated
stream, bore them away as memorials of their visit. “In an hour they began to disappear, and in less than three hours the trodden surface of the lately crowded bank reflected no human shadow. The pageant disappeared as rapidly as it had approached, and left to us once more the silence and the solitude of the wilderness. It was like a dream. An immense crown of human beings — said to be 8,000, but I thought not so many — had passed and repassed before our tents and left not a vestige behind them. Every one bathed, a few Franks excepted, the greater number in a quiet and reverential manner, but some, I am sorry to say, displayed an ill-timed levity.” Pages 261, 262.  This needs no comment. We leave it with the single remark, that where so many in so short a time could bathe themselves without difficulty, surely John the Baptist could have no difficulty in baptizing those who came to him.

Rev. D. A. Randall visited the Jordan at the time of harvest, when it “overfloweth his banks all the time.” In consequence of the falling rains and melting snows of the far distant mountains of Herman, it was near its greatest depth, yet he and his comrades enjoyed the pleasure of a bath in its waters. Handwriting of God, Part ii, p. 233. The river Jordan, like all other streams, has its rapids and its eddies, in the latter of which there are doubtless numerous places in which it would be safe to immerse. It is a little remarkable to what extremes the opponents of immersion will go in their zeal to show the impossibility of performing this act in the Jordan. Heretofore, some have contended that immersion could not have been the act,
because this river is so small that “a man might step across it, or arrest its current with his foot,” but since the observations of Lynch, Randall, and others have been published, it suddenly becomes so impetuous and deep as to make it impossible for John to have immersed the people in it. Before leaving this part of the subject we deduce another argument in favor of immersion from John’s clothing: “John had his raiment of camel’s hair and a leathern girdle about his loins,” Matt. iii:4; Mark i:6. Why was he thus clad? I suppose it means something or it would not have been recorded. Some suppose that the coarse hair-cloth with which he was clad was used as the best protection against the water. Certain it is that leathern girdles then and now are used to strengthen the loins under physical exertion. We can see propriety in this girdle to sustain him while immersing the vast crowds baptized by him, but none whatever if he only sprinkled water upon them. Surely, his loins needed no support for such labor as this, since the most fashionably clad may now administer the rite without physical effort or damage to silks or satins.

As a further evidence that John practiced immersion, we find he “was baptizing in Aenon, near to Salem, because there was much water there.” John iii:23. Why should he have gone there to sprinkle or pour a few drops of water upon the people? This could not have required much water. We suppose a single gallon would be quite sufficient for a modern preacher for a whole day. But we are told that much water was necessary to supply the people and their animals with drink while attending his preaching. Then the passage should read, “John was holding a meeting at Aenon, near Salem, because there was much water there.” Would not this have been much more appropriate? But, on the contrary, “he came into all the
country about the Jordan preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Luke iii:3. Thus we see that John preached every-where, but when he went to baptize, he went where there was much water. It is reasonable to suppose that quite as many people attended his preaching in the country as witnessed his baptism at Aenon, yet much water is not mentioned as an accommodation for those who attended his preaching, but is given as a reason for his “baptizing at Aenon.” For a beautiful description of the waters of Aenon and their adaptation to the purposes for which John selected them, see Barclay’s “City of the Great King,” pp. 559-562.


We now pass to the examination of a law of translation found in the convertibility of terms, which may be stated substantially in the following words: “When the correct meaning of a word, in a given place, is substituted for the word, it must make sense, and harmonize with the other words m construction with the word for which the substitution is made.” This rule lies at the foundation of all translation and must obtain, though in some instances, from force of habit, the euphony may seem somewhat impaired. Be it further observed that the demands of the rule are not that every meaning a word may have will make sense every-where it occurs, but the correct meaning of a word in a given place must make sense in that place. By this rule we will try the meaning of the word baptize in a few passages, and see whether or not it may mean sprinkle or pour — remembering, in the meantime, that sprinkle means to scatter in drops, and pour means to turn out in a stream.

Let us now read the passages and submit these definitions to the rule stated: “Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were sprinkled (scattered in drops) of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his sprinkling (scattering in drops) he said unto them,” etc. Matt. iii:5-7. Were the people scattered in drops by John in Jordan? “He that believeth and is sprinkled (scattered in drops) shall be saved.” Mark xvi:13.

“Repent and be sprinkled (scattered in drops) every one of you.” Acts ii:38. “When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were sprinkled (scattered in drops), both men and women.” Acts viii:12. These scriptures need only to be read — no comment is necessary to show that sprinkle will not bear the test. Will pour do any better? We will try it. “Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round  about Jordan, and were poured (turned out in a stream) of him in Jordan.” “He that believeth and is poured (fumed out in a stream) shall be saved.” “Repent and be poured (turned out in a stream) every one of you.” “When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were poured (turned out in a stream), both men and women.” Thus, we see that the sense is as completely destroyed by substituting pour as by sprinkle.

Now, let us subject immersion to the same ordeal; if it will do no better, away with it. “Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were immersed of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his immersion, he said unto them,” etc. “He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved.” “Repent and be immersed every one of you.” ‘When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were immersed, both men and women.” Thus, we might try every place in the New Testament where the word occurs, and the result would be the same. A man may be immersed in water, blood, oil, grief, suffering, debt, etc., but sprinkled or poured he cannot be, and live.

As the Holy Spirit was shed forth on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles were baptized with it, it is sometimes insisted that this is the meaning of baptize. Then let us try it. “Go teach all nations, shedding them forth in the name,” etc. Matt. xxviii:19. “And they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he shed him forth.” Acts viii:38. Will this do? Once more: At the house of
Cornelius “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Acts x:44. It is therefore insisted that fell on is the meaning of the word baptize, and indicates the manner in which it should be performed. Then we will try this also. “Go teach all nations, falling on them in the name of the Father,” etc. “And they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he fell on him.” We will not offer a word of comment to make these definitions more ridiculously absurd than they are in their own native deformity. These illustrations clearly show that the lexicons and critics were right in giving immerse as the primary and literal meaning of baptidzo, as used in the New Testament. Hence the conclusion that John immersed Jesus and the multitudes who demanded baptism of him, in the waters of Jordan and Aenon, is irresistible. To the reader, then, we say, “go thou and do likewise.”


We deduce another argument in favor of immersion from the language of Jesus to Nicodemus, as follows:   “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John iii:5.

The language “born again” is to be understood figuratively, of course; but the figure is based upon the real or natural birth, and as a figure must, in some sense, resemble the fact upon which it is based, so a birth of water must, in some sense, resemble a natural birth. Natural birth contemplates delivery, so when a man is born of water, he must be delivered from or come forth out of it. As he cannot be delivered from or come forth out of that in which he has never been, it follows that a man must be placed in water before he can be delivered from or born of it. Hence, in order to be born of water, a man must be immersed in it that he may emerge from it. But what resemblance to a birth has sprinkling or pouring water upon any one? Can a man be born of a substance less than himself? Such a thing is impossible with every one save him who practices sprinkling or pouring water as baptism. How a grown man or woman may be born of a drop or a spoonful of water is a mystery which needs explanation. For a full examination of the New Birth the reader is referred to the chapter on this subject, the object here being only to examine it so far as it bears upon the action of baptism. That the words “born of water” refer to baptism, see authorities quoted in argument based upon this verse in the chapter on the Design of Baptism. 


“Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism.” Rom. vi:4. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him.” Col. ii:12. That these passages refer to immersion is so manifestly plain that it seems almost an insult to common sense to attempt an argument to show it. There are three things which, though not all in the word, are implied in the idea of a burial. First, the thing buried; second, the thing buried in; and, third, the act of burying. A burial may differ as to the thing buried; it may be a seed, or it may be a man. It may differ as to the thing buried in; it may be in earth, it may be in water, but as to the act of burying there can be no difference; it must be a placing in and covering up in every burial, whether it be a seed or a man, in the earth or in water. Then, when a man has a few drops of water sprinkled on him, is he buried? Surely not. When he has a small stream poured upon him, is he
buried? He is not. When he is immersed in water, is he buried? Most certainly he is. We have shown that baptism means immersion; hence, when Paul said he and his brethren had been buried with Christ by baptism, is it not clear that he spake of that burial which was effected by immersion? Lives there a man beneath the sun, who has only had a few drops of water sprinkled on him, who can approach the mercy-seat of Christ, and, with his hand upon his heart, say “I have been buried with Christ by baptism?” We think not. But we are told that Paul alluded to Holy Spirit baptism. Suppose he did, does this bring any support to those who oppose immersion? When they wish to make an argument in favor of pouring, they tell us that the Holy Spirit was poured upon the Pentecostians; and as that was Holy Spirit baptism, water baptism must be like it, and therefore must be pouring. Spirit baptism and water baptism must be administered in the same way. Well, then, if Paul spoke of Holy Spirit baptism, it was a burial, and if water baptism be like it, it must also be a burial. Hence this passage proves baptism to be immersion, whether he spoke of water or Spirit. If of water, the proof is direct; if of Spirit, it is by analogy, our opponents being judges. But did Paul allude to Holy Spirit baptism? In submitting to it his brethren obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine delivered to them. See verse 17. Luke tells us that Jesus commanded his disciples “that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” What promise? “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Acts i:4, 5. Promises may be enjoyed, but cannot be obeyed. We may obey commands, but cannot obey promises. Then, as the baptism of the Spirit was a promise, and as submission to the baptism of which Paul spoke was obedience, it follows, clear as demonstration, that he spoke not of spiritual baptism.

Commentators and critics have, with great unanimity, in all ages, decided that Rom. vi:4, and Col. ii:12, refer to immersion in water. At the risk of being tedious we will collate a few extracts, which will serve to show the decision of the learned on this subject:
1. JUSTIN MARTYR, born A.D. 140: “We represent our Lord’s suffering by baptism in a pool.” Adkins, p. 127.
2. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, A.D. 200: “You were led to a bath as Christ was conveyed to the sepulcher, and were thrice immersed, to signify Christ’s three days’ burial.” Adkins, p. 127.
3. ATHANASIUS, Bishop of Alexandria, A.D. 328: “To immerse a child three times in a pool or bath, and to emerse him; this shows the death and resurrection of Christ on the third day.” Stuart, p. 148, Conant, Ex. 188.
4. GREGORY NYSSEN, A.D. 328: “Coming into water, the kindred element of earth, we hide ourselves in it as the Saviour did in the earth.” Stuart, p. 147. “Let us, therefore, be buried with Christ in baptism, that we may also rise with him; let us go down with him, that we also may be exalted with him.” Conant, Ex. 188.
5. AMBROSE, A.D. 340: “You were asked, ‘Dost thou believe in GOD ALMIGHTY?’ Thou saidst, ‘I believe,’ and thus thou wast immerged (mersisti); that is, thou wast buried.” Stuart, p. 147.
6. CHRYSOSTOM, A.D. 347: “To be baptized and to
submerge, then to emerge, as a symbol of descent to the grave and of ascent from it. And therefore, Paul calls baptism a burial when he says: ‘We are therefore buried with him by baptism into death.'” Westlake, ch. 3. Stuart, p. 147.
7. APOSTOLICAL CONSTITUTIONS, written in the fourth century: “Immersion denotes dying with him (Christ); emersion a resurrection with Christ.” Stuart, p. 148.
8. CYRIL, BISHOP of JERUSALEM, A.D. 350: “Thou, going down into the water, and in a manner buried in the waters, as he in the rock, art raised again, walking in newness of life.” Conant, Ex. 176.
“Ye professed the saving profession and sunk down thrice into the water, and again came up, and thereby a symbol shadowing forth the burial of Christ.” Conant, Ex. 178.
9. BASIL THE GREAT, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, A.D. 370: “By three immersions we represent the death of Christ — the bodies of those that are baptized are buried in water.” Conant, Ex. 181.
10. FOURTH COUNCIL OF TOLEDO, Can. 5: “The immersion in water is, as it were, the descent into the grave, and the emersion from the water the resurrection.” Adkins, p. 128.
11. PHOTIUS: “The three immersions and emersions of baptism signify death and the resurrection.” Stuart, p. 148.
12. GELASIUS: “The three immersions and emersions of baptism signify death and the resurrection.” Adkins, p. 129.
13. GREGORY: “The three immersions and emersions of baptism signify death and the resurrection.” Ut supra.
14. PELAGIUS: “The three immersions and emersions of baptism signify death and the resurrection.” Ut supra.
15. ARCHBISHOP CRANMER: The dipping into water
doth betoken that the old Adam, with all his sin and evil lusts, ought to be drowned and killed by daily contrition and repentance.” Westlake, ch. 3.
16. SCUDDER: “Baptism doth lively represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, together with your crucifying the affections and lusts: being dead and buried with him unto sin, and rising with him to newness of life and to hope of glory.” Westlake, ch. 3.
17. PICTETUS: “That immersion into and emersion out of the water, as practiced by the ancients, signify the death of the old and the resurrection of the new.” Ut supra.
18. NICHOLSON, Bishop of Gloucester, Expos. of Ch. Catechism: “The ancient manner of baptizing and putting the person baptized under the water and then taking him out again, did well set forth these two acts: the first his dying, the second his rising again. In our baptism, by a kind of analogy or resemblance, while our bodies are under the water we may be said to be buried with him.” Ut supra.
19. DR. MANTON, Chaplain to the King of England: “The putting the baptized person into the water denoteth and proclaimeth the burial of Christ, and we, by submitting to it, are dead and buried;
so that it signifieth Christ’s death for sin and our death unto sin.” Ut supra.
20. AUGUSTINE: “That thrice repeated submersion expresses a resemblance of the Lord’s burial.” Ut supra.
21. BENGELLIUS, Professor of Theology at Denkendorf, Germany, in 1713: “He that is baptized puts on Christ, the second Adam; he is baptized, I say, into a whole Christ, and therefore into his death; and it is like as if that very moment Christ suffered, died, and was buried for such a man, and such a man suffered, died, and was buried with Christ.” Westlake, ch. 3.
22. DR. GOODWIN, member of the Westminster Assembly:
“There is a further representation therein of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, in the baptized’s being first buried under water and then rising out of it. Therefore, it is said we are buried with him in baptism.” Ut supra.
23. DODDRIDGE’S Family Expositor on Rom. vi:4: “Buried with him in baptism. It seems to me the part of candor to confess that here is an illusion to the manner of baptizing by immersion.”
24. WHITBY’S Commentary on the New Testament — Note on Rom. vi:4: “It being so expressly declared here (Rom. vi:4, and Col. ii:12) that we are buried with Christ in baptism by being buried under water, and the argument to oblige us to a conformity to his death being taken hence, and this immersion being religiously observed by all Christians for thirteen centuries, and approved by our church, and the change of it into sprinkling, even without any allowance from the Author of this institution, or any license from any council of the church, being that which the Romanist still urges to justify his refusal of the cup to the laity, it were to be wished that this custom might be of general use, and aspersion only permitted, as of old, in cases of the clinic or present danger of death.” Pengilly, p. 47.
25. WELLS’ Illus. Bible on Rom. vi:4: “St. Paul here alludes to immersion or  dipping the whole body under water in baptism.” Pengilly, 46.
26. ADAM CLARKE, Com. on Rom. vi:4: “When he [the person to be baptized] came up out of the water, he seemed to have a resurrection to life. He was, therefore, supposed to throw off his old Gentile state, as he threw off his clothes, and to assume a new character, as the baptized generally put on new or fresh garments.”
27. JOHN EDWARDS: “The immersion into the water wasthought to signify the death of Christ, and their coming out his rising again, and did no less represent their own resurrection.” Pengilly, p. 49.
29. EDINBURGH REVIEWERS: “We have rarely met, for example, a more weak and fanciful piece of reasoning than that by which Mr. Ewing would persuade us that there is no allusion to the mode by immersion in the expression ‘buried with him in baptism.’ This point ought to be frankly admitted and indeed cannot be denied with any show of reason.” lb., p. 47.
30. BLOOMFIELD’S GREEK TESTAMENT, note on Rom. vi:4: “By which the rite of immersion in the baptismal water and egress from it were used as a symbol of breaking off all connection with the present sinful life and giving one’s self to a new and pure one. We have been thus buried in the waters of baptism. There is a plain allusion to the ancient custom of baptism by immersion,” on which (says Bloomfield) see 31 SUICER’S Eccl. in V. cited in confession.
32. BINGHAM’s Antiquities of the Chr. Ch.: “Immersion universally prevailed, since all the ancients thought that burying under water did more lively represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.” Bloomfield also cites to the same effect Bishops Sherlock and Warburton.
33. SAURIN’S SERMONS, Vol. iii, p. 17:6: “Paul says we are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that is, the ceremony of wholly immersing us in water when we were baptized signified that we died to sin, and that of rising again from our immersion signified that we would no more return to those disorderly practices in which we lived before our conversion to Christianity.” Benedict’s History,
p. 179.
34. ARCHBISHOP LEIGHTON: “We are buried with him, the dipping into the waters representing our dying with Christ, and the return thence our rising with him.” Works, p. 277.

35. MATHIES’ Biblical, Historical, and Dogmatical Exposition of Baptism, which obtained a prize in the University of Berlin, says: “Paul, as we have seen (Rom. vi:4), has in his mind only the rite of immersing and emerging; and in the apostolic church, in order that a communion with the death of Christ may be signified the whole body of the person to be baptized was immersed in the water or river, and then, in order that a connection with the resurrection of Christ might be indicated, the body again emerged or raised out of the water. That this rite has been changed is indeed a calamity, for it is placed before the eyes most aptly the symbolical meaning of baptism.” Dr. 1. Chase, on Bap., pp. 50, 51.
36. ROSENMULLER, Professor of Theology at Leipsic, says: “Immersion in the water of baptism and coming forth out of it was a symbol of a person’s renouncing his former life, and, on the contrary, of beginning a new one. The learned have rightly reminded us, that, on account of this emblematical meaning of baptism, the rite of immersion ought to have been retained in the Christian church.” 1. Chase on Bap., p. 49.
37. JASPIS, in his Latin version of the Epistles, says: “Paul in this place (Rom. vi:4) alludes to the custom then usual of immersing the whole body, which immersion resembled the laying of a man in a sepulcher.” Ut supra, p. 49.
38. TURRETIN: “For as in baptism, when performed in the primitive manner, by immersion and emersion, descending into the water and again going out of it, of which descent and ascent we have an example in the eunuch, in Acts viii:38, 39. Yea, and what is more, as by this rite, when persons are immersed in water they are overwhelmed, and as it were buried, and in a manner buried together with Christ; and again they emerge, seems to be raised out of a grave, and are said to be risen again with Christ.” Frey on Baptism, p. 186.
39. THEOPHYLACT, a Greek commentator on Col. ii:12: “Baptism typifies by immersion the death, by emersion the resurrection of Christ.” Adkins, p. 128.
40. LEO, bishop of Rome, Decret. 9: “Trine immersion represents the three days’ burial of Christ.” Ut supra.
41. THEOBUCK, on Rom. vi:4: “In order to understand the figurative use of baptism we must bear in mind the well-known fact that the candidate in the primitive church was immersed in water and raised out of it again.” Ut supra, p. 130.
42. WINER, in his Manuscript Letters on Christian Antiquities, says: “In the apostolic age baptism was immersion, as its symbolical explanation shows.” Ut supra.
43. PROF. LANG, on Infant Baptism, 1834: “As Christ died, so we die (to sin) with him in baptism. The body is as it were buried under water, is dead with Christ; the plunging under water represents death, and rising out of it the resurrection to a new life.  A more striking symbol could not be chosen.” Ut supra.
44. DR. JORTIN’S Sermons. Of the baptized he says: “He that descended into the water and stooped or laid down in it – this represents death and the grave. His ascending out of the water under which he had been hidden represents the resurrection of Christ for our justification, and the new life and second birth of the baptized person, who was thenceforward to live to God and to do good works.” Frey on Bap., pp. 128,129.
45. SUPERVILLE, Pastor of the French Protestant Church at Rotterdam, says: “You know that in ancient times baptism was administered by immersion, so that the person who was baptized, being entirely plunged into the water, appeared for a moment as one dead and buried; after which, emerging from the water, he seemed as one rising from the dead. Hence the language of the apostle in Rom. vi:4, Col. ii:12,” Ut supra.
46. BURMANNUS, Synop. Theol.: “Immersion was used by the Jews, the apostles, and the primitive church, especially in warm countries. To this, various forms of speaking used by the apostles refer: Rom. vi:4, Col. ii:12, etc.” Frey, p. 132.
46. PETER MARTYR: As Christ by baptism hath drawn us into his death and burial, so he hath drawn us out into life. This doth the dipping into the waters and the issuing forth again signify when we are baptized.” Westlake, ch. iii.
47. ALBERT BARNES: It is altogether probable that the apostle in this place had allusion to the custom of baptizing by immersion.” Note on Rom. vi:4.
48. ESTIUS: “Immersion, in a more expressive manner, represents the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and of us.” Frey, p. 150.
49. BRAUNUS, in his Doctrina Federum: “By baptism we are plunged under water, and, as it were, buried; but we do not continue in a state of death, for we immediately rise again from thence, to signify that we, through the merits of Christ, and with Christ, mortify the old man, are buried with Christ, and with him arise to newness of life.” Haynes’ Bap. Cyclopedia, p. 78.
50. DR. BOYS’ Works: “The dipping, in holy baptism, has three parts: the putting into the water, the continuance in the water, and the coming out of the water. The putting into the water doth ratify the mortification of sin by the power of Christ’s death, as Paul in Rom. vi:4.” Ut supra, p. 99.
51. RHEINHARD’S Ethics: “In sprinkling, the symbolical meaning of the ordinance is wholly lost.” Hinton’s History, Bap. 
52. BISHOP BURNETT’S Expos. of the Thirty-nine Articles, pp. 374, 375: “They (the primitive ministers of the gospel) led them into the water, and with no other garments but what might cover nature. They first laid them down in the water, as a man is buried in a grave, and then they said the words ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’ Then they raised them up again, and clean garments were put on them, from whence came the phrases of being baptized into Christ’s death, of our being buried with him by baptism into death, being baptized into Christ’s death, of our being risen with Christ, and of our putting on Christ, putting off the old man and putting on the new man.”
53. CARDINAL CAJETAN: “‘We are buried with him by baptism into death.’ By our burying he declares our death from the ceremony of baptism: because he who is baptized is put under the water, and by this bears a likeness of him that was buried, who is put under the earth. Now, because none are buried by dead men, from this very thing we are buried in baptism, we are assimilated to Christ when he was buried. Christ ascended out of the water, therefore he was baptized by John, not by sprinkling or pouring water upon him, but by immersion.” Booth’s Ped. Ex.
54. DR. CAVE’S Primitive Christianity: “As in immersion there are, in a manner, three several acts, the putting a person into the water, his abiding there for a little time, and rising again; so by these were represented Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and in conformity thereunto our dying unto sin, the destruction of its power, and our resurrection to a new course of life. By the persons being put into water was lively represented the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, and being washed from the filth and pollution of them,” etc. Booth’s Ped. Ex.
55. BISHOP DAVENANT, of Salisbury, Eng., 1641, Exposition of Col. ii:12: “In baptism, the burial of the body of sin, or of the old Adam, is represented when the person to be baptized is put down into the water, as a resurrection when he is brought out of it.” Haynes’ Bap. Cyclopedia, p. 186.
60. JOHN FELT, Bishop of Oxford, in his Paraphrase and Annotations on St. Paul’s Epistles, Rom. vi:4: “The primitive fashion of immersion under the water representing our death, and elevation out of it our resurrection, our regeneration.” let supra, pp. 246, 247.
61. DR. QUENSTEDT (Lutheran): “Immersion is similar to a burial, emersion, to a resurrection.” Wiberg, p. 83.
62. CH. STARK: “The apostle has reference to the then prevailing custom, according to which the candidate was entirely immersed in water, and after he had been left under a little while, was again taken up out of it. Baptism, consequently, does not only contain the image and power of the death of Christ, but of his burial; so that, as the Lord, by his burial, has done away with the curse that lay upon him, we also might be partakers of his burial when we were laid down under the water as in a grave and covered with it.” Wiberg, p. 113.
63. LOCKE: “We did own some kind of a death by being buried under the water — even so we, being raised from our typical death and burial in baptism, should lead a new sort of life.” Campbell and Rice, p. 235.
64. DR. G. C. KNAPP: “The image is here taken from baptized persons as they were immerged (buried) and as they emerged (rose again); so it was understood by Chrysostom.” Theol., Vol. ii, p. 525.
65. MACKNIGHT: “In baptism, the baptized person is buried under water, as one put to death with Christ on account of sin, in order that they may be strongly impressed with a sense of the malignity of sin and excited to hate it as the greatest of evils.” On Epist., Vol. 1, p. 259. “Christ submitted to be baptized, that is, to be buried under the water by John, and to be raised out of it again, as an emblem of his future death and resurrection. In like manner the baptism of believers is emblematical of his own death, burial, and resurrection.” On Rom. vi:4.
66. JOHN WESLEY: “Buried with him — alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion.” Notes on Rom. vi.:4; Vol. ii:12.
67. GEORGE WHITFIELD: It is certain that, in the words of our text, Rom. vi:4, there is an allusion to the manner of baptizing, which was immersion.” Pengilly, p. 47.
68. DR. WALL: “St. Paul does twice, in an allusive way of speaking, call baptism a burial.” Defense of Hist. of Infant Bap., 131.
68. ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON: “Anciently, those who were baptized were immersed and buried in the water, to represent their death to sin, and then did rise up out of the water, to signify their entrance upon the new life; and to these customs the apostle alludes in Rom. vi:4.” Pengilly, p. 46.
69. ARCHBISHOP SEEKER: “Burying, as it were, the person in the water and raising him out again, without question, was anciently the more usual method, on account of which St. Paul speaks of baptism as representing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and what is grounded on them — our being dead and buried to sin, and our rising again to walk in newness of life.” Pengilly, p. 46.
70. SAMUEL CLARKE: “We are buried with Christ by baptism, etc. In the primitive times the manner of baptizing was by immersion, or dipping the whole body into water. And this manner of doing it was a very significant emblem of the dying and rising again referred to by St. Paul in the abovementioned similitude.” Ibid.
71. BURKITT’S Notes on the New Testament. On Rom. vi:4:”The apostle alludes, no doubt, to the ancient manner and way of baptizing persons in those hot countries, which was by immersion or putting them under the water for a time, and raising them up again out of the water, which rite had also a mystical signification, representing the burial of our old man, sin in us, and our resurrection to newness of life.”
72. OLSHAUSEN’S Commentary on Rom. vi:4: “In this passage we are by no means to refer the baptism merely to their own resolutions, or see in it merely a figure in which the one-half of the ancient baptismal rite — the submersion merely prefigures the death and burial of the old man — the second half the emersion, the resurrection of the new man.”
73. CONYBEARE AND HOWSON, Life and Epist. of St. Paul: “Baptism was immersion, the convert being plunged beneath the surface of the water to represent his death to sin, and then raised from this momentary burial to represent his resurrection to a life of righteousness.” Also on Rom. vi:4: “This passage cannot be understood unless it is borne in mind that the primitive baptism was by immersion.”
74. DR. HAMMOND on Rom. vi:4: “It is a thing that every Christian knows, that the immersion in baptism refers to the death of Christ; the putting of the person into the water denotes and proclaims the death and burial of Christ.” Haynes’ Last Reply to Cook and Towne, p. 107.
75. BISHOP HOADLEY: “If baptism had been then performed as it is now among us, we should never so much as heard of this form of expression, of dying and rising again in this rite.” Ibid.

76. DR. STORR AND FLATT’S Biblical Theol., Andover, 1826: “The disciples of our Lord could understand his command in no other manner than as enjoining immersion; and that they actually did understand it so is proved partly by those passages of Scripture which evidently allude to immersion: Acts viii:36, Rom. vi:4.” Ut supra.
77. MARTIN LUTHER: “Baptism is a sign of both death and resurrection. Being moved by this reason, I would have those who are to be baptized to be altogether dipped into the water, as the word doth express and the mystery doth signify.” Ut supra, pp. 109, 110.
78. DR. R. NEWTON, on Rom. vi:4: “Baptism was usually performed by immersion or dipping the whole body under the water, to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ together.” Slack’s Reasons for Becoming a Bap., p. 56.
79. RICHARD BAXTER: “It is commonly confessed by us of the Anabaptists, as our commentators declare, that in the apostles’ times the baptized were dipped over-head in the water, and that this signified their profession both of the believing the burial and resurrection of Christ, and of their own present renouncing of the world and flesh, or of dying to sin and living to Christ, or rising again to newness of life, or being buried and risen again with Christ, as the apostle expoundeth in the fore cited texts.” Westlake, ch. v.
80. BISHOP SMITH: “Buried in baptism — all continue to render the fact as early ascertained far more reconcilable with Scripture than any contrary theory can be. If anyone practice of the early churches is clearly ascertained, it is immersion.” Bliss’ Letters, p. 24.
81. WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES, Annotations on Rom. vi:4: “‘Buried with him in baptism.’ In this phrase the apostle seemeth to allude to the ancient manner of baptism, which was to dip the parties baptized, and as it were bury them under water.” Judson, p. 24.
82. WILLIAM TYNDALE: “The plunging into the water signifieth that we die and are buried with Christ, as concerning the old life of sin, which is in Adam; and the pulling out again signifieth that we rise again with Christ in a new life.” Westlake, p. 5.
83. DR. CHALMERS on Rom. vi:4: “In the act of descending under the water of baptism, to have resigned an old life, and in the act of ascending, to emerge into a second or new life — along the course of which it is our part to maintain a strenuous avoidance of sin.”
84. GROTIUS: “Buried with him by baptism. Not only the word baptism, but the very form of it, intimates this. For an immersion of the whole body in water so that it is no longer beheld, bears an image of that burial which is given to the dead. So Col. ii:12. There was in baptism, as administered in former times, an image both of a burial and of a resurrection, which in respect of Christ was external, in regard to Christians internal.” Rom. vi:4. Booth on pedobaptism, abridged by Bryant, p. 52.
85. CHURCH OF ENGLAND: “As we be buried with Christ by our baptism into death, so let us daily die to sin, mortifying and killing the evil motions thereof. And as Christ was raised up from death by the glory of the Father, so let us rise to a new life and walk continually therein.” Homily of the Resurrection, Booth. pp. 52, 53.
86. WOLFIUS: “Immersion into water, in former times, and a short continuance under the water, practiced by the ancient church, afford the representation of a burial in baptism.” Curae, ad Rom. vi:4.
87. BISHOP PEARCE: “It seems to have been a metaphor taken from the custom of those days in baptizing, for the person baptized went down under the water and was (as it were) buried under it. Hence St. Paul says, in Rom. vi:4, and Col. ii: 12, that they were buried with Christ by baptism.” Ibid, p. 68.
88, 89. BISHOP SHERLOCK and BISHOP WARBURTON are cited to the same effect in Bloomfield on Rom. vi:4: and still others might be given, but surely the reader is ready to say with us, these are enough. This list is mostly made up of those who practiced sprinkling and pouring, and surely were not influenced by any disposition to favor immersion, but when speaking as scholars and critics were compelled to testify to the truth, whether for or against their practice. The reader will please observe that some of them lived early in the second century; and we have taken some from every period in the history of the church from then until now, thus showing that, almost with one voice, the learned of all ages and countries testify that this passage refers to the ancient custom of baptizing by immersion. Surely, nothing but a cause reduced to desperation would demand of its advocates a departure from a meaning so plainly taught by all these authorities floating (as it were) upon the very surface of this passage. 


“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb. x:22. That the apostle here alludes to baptism is very generally admitted. He had been reasoning on the subject of the Jewish priesthood and the process of consecration connected with it, a partial account of which we have as follows: “Thus shalt Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh, and so put them on.” Lev. xvi:3, 4.

Under the Christian dispensation every Christian is regarded as a priest. Speaking of his brethren, Peter said: ‘Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. ii:5. Again, verse 9, he says: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.” As Christians are priests, we can see a peculiar fitness in Paul’s allusion to the washing of a Jewish priest in the ceremony of his consecration, illustrative of the washing of a Christian in the ceremony of his consecration. That it did not consist in the application of a small quantity of water to the face may be seen in the fact that the same general term flesh is used to indicate the extent of the washing, that is used to indicate the parts on which the priestly garments were worn. That the Jews understood the phrase wash the flesh in the sense of bathing the whole body may be seen in the washing of Naaman. “Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” 2 Kings v:10-14. Here we see that Naaman was commanded to WASH himself seven times in Jordan; and, guided by those who are presumed to have understood what was meant, he DIPPED himself. That he correctly obeyed the command is evident from the fact that he dipped himself according to the saying of the man of God, and God recognized his act by curing him of his leprosy.

This case throws a flood of light upon all the Jewish washings, and clearly shows what they did when they washed themselves, or anything else, in accordance with their law. The word dipped, which expresses the act performed by Naaman, is from the Hebrew word taval, which the seventy Jews who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek rendered baptidzo, the very word which the Lord subsequently employed to indicate baptism. Then, as King James’ translators gave us dip as the English equivalent of taval, and the Jewish translators gave us baptidzo as its Greek representative, it follows that, in the judgment of the seventy scholars who made the Septuagint, and the forty-seven who made the common version, baptidzo in Greek and dip in English are synonymous. And since things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other, it follows that baptidzo in Greek and dip in English, being equal to taval in Hebrew, are equal to each other, hence dip is demonstrably the proper translation of baptidzo.

In confirmation of our position on Heb. x:22, we quote Bloomfield as follows: “This is not an admonition to corporeal purity, but the expression turns wholly on a comparison with the legal rite of washing for purification; and there is an allusion to baptism, as also in the foregoing expression we have a parallel with a Jewish rite. The Jews (to use the words of Prof. Stuart) were sprinkled with blood in order that they might be purified, so as to have access to God — Christians are internally sprinkled; i.e., purified by the blood of Jesus. The Jews were washed with water in order to be ceremonially purified, so as to come before God — Christians have been washed by the purifying water of baptism.” The reader will observe that in this quotation we have not only the authority of Dr. Bloomfield, but also that of Prof. Stuart, approvingly quoted by him. But Paul speaks of the body as washed in pure water. We are a little curious to know how it is that a drop of water applied to the head can be regarded as a washing of the body. The Greek word lelumenoi here used indicates a washing of the whole body, while nipsosthai is used to indicate a partial washing, as the hands or feet. (See MacKnight on this verse.) It occurs to us that had the Lord intended a topical application of water in baptism He would have designated the part to which it should be applied. Surely, this was not a matter unworthy of note, for in matters perhaps less significant the parts involved are specifically named. When God instituted circumcision in the family of Abraham. He specifically named the part to be excised. When a man was slain by unknown hands among the Jews, the elders of the city next to him were to “wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley.” Deut. xxi:6. 

When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, the parts washed are specifically mentioned. John xiii:5. When Aaron and his sons were going to enter the tabernacle, they had to wash their hands and their feet. Ex. xl:31. In the consecration of a Jewish priest, there were applications to be made to the head, the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, and each part is specifically designated. Then, if it were important to thus designate specifically and plainly each part to which an application was to be made in the examples given, it was not less important that the part to be wet in the act of baptism should have been designated with at least equal precision. Why should not Paul have mentioned this part, in place of the body, which he said was washed in pure water? We respectfully suggest that there is quite as much Scriptural authority for baptizing the hand or foot as there is for baptizing the head, and we may justly demand by what law of Christ or by what example of the apostles is any one authorized to apply water to the face or the head rather than to the hands, the feet, or any other part of the body?


“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered, and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” Acts viii:36-39.

We call the reader’s attention to the progressive steps in the foregoing narrative and to the force of the several prepositions used. First, while on their journey, they came unto a certain water. This brings them to or at the water. Secondly, they went down into the water where the baptism took place. Thirdly, they come up out of the water. All this is perfectly rational if immersion was the act performed, but worse than useless if sprinkling or pouring was what was done. If the phrase come unto a certain water brought them to or at it, it follows that, if the phrase they went down into the water moved them at all, it must have carried them beyond its margin, hence a preposition indicating motion, into, was used to indicate the thought. We have into from the Greek word eis, which primarily means motion toward or into, and is; therefore, correctly rendered in the passage before us. Out of is from ek, the primary meaning of which is, not from, but out of, just as here rendered; and when construed with water, as it is here, it must mean literally out of the water; hence eis must have taken them just as far into the water as ek brought them out of it. If this language does not show that they really and literally went down into and came up out of the water, then we submit that it is beyond the power of language to express or embody the thought. No more appropriate language could have been used.

We have already seen that the rules of translation require the primary meanings of words to be retained unless good reasons be shown for their removal. Therefore, if we substitute the secondary meanings of eis and ek in the passage under consideration for into and out of, their primary meanings, there must be a better reason shown for it than the salvation of a favorite theory or the support of an unscriptural practice.

But as it is said that eis in this passage should be rendered at or near to, it may be well to examine a few passages where the word occurs. “It is better for thee to enter (eis) into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast (eis) into everlasting fire.” “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter (eis) into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast (eis) into hellfire.” Matt. xviii: 8, 9. Here are four examples of eis in this quotation, which might be as correctly rendered at as in Acts viii:38: thus, enter at life — cast at everlasting fire, etc. Again: “Depart from me, ye cursed (eis) into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matt. ….”. It would rejoice the hearts of many if eis in this place could be rendered at or near by. Verse 46: “And these shall go away (eis) into everlasting punishment: but the righteous (eis) into life eternal.” Matt. xxv:46. While the translation of eis by at in the verse might bring joy to the wicked, it would destroy the hopes and happiness of the righteous.

 Numerous examples might be given, but these are deemed sufficient to show the absurdity of translating eis otherwise than by into, its primary meaning, in passages similar to the one under consideration. But Prof. Stuart says “that if the phrase ‘they both went down into the water’ is meant to designate the action of plunging or being immersed into the water, as a part of the rite of baptism, then was Philip baptized as well as the eunuch; for the sacred writer says that BOTH went into the water. Here, then, must have been a rebaptizing of Philip, and, what is at least singular, he must have baptized himself as well as the eunuch.” Stuart on Bap., p. 97.

Here is a false issue made over a most ridiculous quibble by a truly great man; and we may well ask whether truth ever demands of its advocates a resort to such support? We insist that the very fact of such transcendent ability as Prof. Stuart possessed being reduced to such straits is evidence that he had a hard cause to defend. He knew well that the act of baptism was not expressed by the phrase “they both went down into the water,” but was expressed by the phrase “he baptized him.” All that is claimed for the language they both went down into the water, where the baptizing was done, and afterward came up out of the water is that it expresses acts wholly incompatible with the notion that baptism was sprinkling or pouring, but perfectly harmonious with the idea that Philip immersed the eunuch. Why was it necessary that Philip and the eunuch should have gone down into the water, or to have even got out of the chariot at all? When he commanded the chariot to stand still, why did he not order the driver to bring a pitcher, bowl, or cup of water with which to baptize the nobleman? Surely, any one traveling in such style, and so far as was this nobleman, might well be presumed to have such vessels. Nor will it do to presume them unworthy of mention had they been employed in connection with the sacred rite, for when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet the basin that contained the water, and the towel wherewith he was girded were both thought worthy of their notice and are therefore recorded.  Was the use of such implements of any more importance connected with the washing of feet, than a bowl, pitcher, or cup would have been in connection with baptism, had any such thing been employed? Is it not a little remarkable that we have no account of  Peter, James, John, or Philip’s taking a little water from any such vessel for the purpose of baptizing any one, since for the want of any such facility they were compelled sometimes to leave the house at midnight in order to perform this rite? Not only so, but we find them going where there was much water — baptizing in a river — going down into and coming up out of the water, none of which is more worthy of note than would have been a bowl or pitcher had it been employed.

But it is insisted that, as the eunuch was reading the 53d chapter of Isaiah when Philip approached him, it is likely he had previously read the 52d chapter, the 15th verse of which says, “So shall he sprinkle many nations,” and as Philip preached Jesus as the party referred to, when he came to the water the eunuch concluded that there was a suitable place for him to be sprinkled, as one of a nation referred to. We have the word sprinkle in Isaiah lii:15, from the Hebrew word nazah, which Gesenius thus defines: “To leap, to spring, to exult, to leap for joy; when applied to liquids, to spirt, to spatter, to be sprinkled.” The reader will please note the fact that the word nazah only means to be sprinkled in the passive form, and only then when it refers to liquids; and as in Isaiah it refers to nations and not liquids, this meaning will not apply.

Hence, we must adopt one of the first meanings, and these are all expressive of joy or rejoicing. A distinguished scholar renders this verse: “So shall many nations exult on account of him.” Bailey’s Manual, p. 271. Perhaps the thought would be correctly expressed thus: “Many nations shall rejoice at his coming.” Dr. BARNES, the celebrated Presbyterian commentator, says: “It may be remarked that whichever of the above senses is assigned, it furnishes no argument for the practice of sprinkling in baptism. It refers to the fact of his purifying or cleansing the nations, and not to the ordinance of Christian baptism; nor should it be used as an argument in reference to the mode in which that should be administered.” Com. on Isa. lii:15.


“And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely. Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, “Do thyself no harm; for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said,” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” Acts xvi:23-34.  

It is insisted by those who oppose immersion that the jailer was baptized in the house at or after midnight, and hence was baptized by sprinkling or pouring. We frankly admit that, should we find, on examination, he was baptized in the house, it would raise a presumption in favor of their hypothesis, but, still, it would not be conclusive, for persons are often now and might then have been immersed in the house. On the other hand, should we find that he left the house, at the time indicated, in order to be baptized, it must raise a strong presumption in favor of immersion.  

Let us, then, very carefully examine as to how this was. “Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.” Here we find that Paul and Silas were lodged in the inner prison. Let us watch them closely, and see how and when they leave and whither they go. “Then he [the jailer] called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out.” Out where? “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” Here we learn that the jailer had brought them from the inner prison into his house where the preaching was done. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Remember that the preaching took place in the house, then the jailer took them to a place where there was water enough to wash their stripes and to baptize him and all his. Was this in the house? Surely not. For in the next verse we are informed that “when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them.” How could it be said that they were brought into the house after baptism if they had not left the house to be baptized? Seeing, then, that they were not baptized in the house, but left it in the night to be baptized, we claim the benefit of a strong presumption in favor of immersion – for surely no one would now think of leaving the house, at such an hour of the night, to sprinkle or pour a few drops of water on any one in lieu of baptism.

But we are told that, in the morning Paul and Silas refused to leave the prison, and it is unlikely they would have left it the night before as it would have been dissembling in them to do so. We beg the objector to remember that it was one thing to leave the prison in company with their keeper in the discharge of sacred duty and return in ample time to be ready to meet the charges which had been preferred against them, and quite another thing to leave the prison and the city privately, without a trial or an honorable acquittal, thus furnishing their enemies with a pretext for saying they had fled from justice. They had given abundant evidence of the fact that they did not wish to escape, by not leaving the prison when the doors were opened and their bands loosed; and as he had saved the jailer from a violent death at his own hands, it is reasonable to suppose that his confidence in them was such as allowed no fears of efforts on their part to escape. All things considered, we are driven to the only probable solution of the matter — which is, that they left the house and went to where there was water in which to be immersed and were immersed. In commenting on a phrase in the writings of Justin Martyr [They are led out by us to a place where there is water], Prof. Stuart says: “I am persuaded that this passage, as a whole, most naturally refers to immersion; for why, on any other ground, should the convert who is to be initiated go out to the place where there IS water? There could be no need of this if mere sprinkling, or partial effusion only, was customary in the time of Justin.” Stuart on Baptism, p. 144. Now, if the fact that going to a place where there was water to baptize, in the days of Justin, was evidence of immersion, why is not the same fact evidence that the jailer was immersed, especially when we remember that he went at or after midnight? If Prof. Stuart’s conclusion was a reasonable deduction from the language of Justin (and we think it certainly was), why does he not come to a like conclusion as to the baptism of the jailer? Yea, why should we not come to a like conclusion in a case surrounded by similar  circumstances? That he did leave the house to be baptized is as certain as the language of Holy Writ can make anything, yet Prof. Stuart gives the baptism of the jailer as one of three cases where immersion was not the act performed. As to whether or not he is consistent the reader will judge for himself. 


“Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts xxii:16.
It would have been wholly unnecessary that Paul should arise to have water sprinkled or poured on him, but indispensable to his being immersed, as he could not go to a place suited to immersion without arising, while water could just as easily have been sprinkled or poured upon him lying, sitting, or in any other position, as standing, without the necessity of arising. Hence, the fact that he was told to arise raises a presumption that he was immersed; and this presumption is made a certainty by his own declaration that he was “buried with Christ by baptism.” Rom. vi:4.


“Moreover, brethren, I would not have you ignorant how 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.” 1 Cor. x:1, 2.
That the baptism of the Israelites unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, was in some sense typical of our baptism into Christ, is very generally admitted. As we will have occasion to introduce proof of this when we come to look for the design of baptism, we will not introduce it here.

In what sense are we to understand baptism in this passage? In a literal or figurative sense? If in a literal sense, the baptism consisted in specific action, as we have seen that the word primarily and literally indicates specific action. Was there specific action in this baptism? If so, what was it? The Israelites were not dipped in the cloud and in the sea, nor were they sprinkled or poured in the cloud and in the sea. Hence, the specific act of dipping, sprinkling, or pouring was not in this baptism. Therefore, we conclude the baptism was figurative, not literal. As figures are based upon facts, and must resemble them, we may expect this figurative baptism in some sense to resemble the literal one. The word baptidzo is sometimes used metonymically; that is, the result reached by the specific action indicated by the term is put for the act itself. In such cases the result must be such as to resemble that produced by the specific act. The specific act indicated by baptidzo being dipping or immersion, the result must always be such as to resemble that produced by dipping or immersion — namely, overwhelming or burial. These things premised, we are now prepared to read an account of this baptism recorded in Exodus xiv:15-31, the sixteenth verse of which says to Moses: “Lift thou up thy rod and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” Again, verses 19-22: “And the angel of God which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left.” Thus we see what Paul meant when he said they were under the cloud and passed through the sea. And as he understood baptism to be a burial (Rom. vi:4; Col. ii:12), it is not strange that he should call the passage of the Israelites through the sea and under the cloud a baptism, for truly they were buried, the sea being a wall on their right hand and on their left, and the cloud over and behind them.

But we are told that the Israelites were baptized by spray blown from the sea in their passage. When we remember that the hosts of Israel numbered six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, and that they all passed through the sea in a single night, taking everything possessed by them, it will be seen that an opening several miles in width must have been required for their passage; and as a wind could blow spray but in one direction, and as it would fall much thicker and heavier on the side next its source, it must have deluged those on one side in order to have reached those of the other side at all, and yet we are told that all passed on dry ground. But, worse still, the sacred historian tells us that “the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.” Ex. xv:8. Now, it occurs to us that such a wind as would have blown congealed water, in spray, upon the Israelites would have blown them to the promised land before the time, or lifted them over the sea without passing through it at all.

But it is said that the Psalmist comes to the aid of the objector, saying: “The clouds poured out water.” Psalm lxxvii:17. But it will be observed that clouds, in the plural, poured out water, while it was a cloud, in the singular, which covered the Israelites, and was a cloud of fire and not of water. But the Psalmist is again quoted: “The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved with the presence of God, the God of Israel. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance.” Psalm Ixviii:8, 9. Truly, this quotation speaks of rain, but it was that which fell on the Israelites when at the base of Sinai, and not when passing through the sea. If we would have David’s description of their delivery and how they obtained water to drink, we have it briefly stated in the following words: “He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through: and he made the waters to stand as an heap: in the day-time also, he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire:
he crave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths; he brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” Ps. Lxxviii:13-16.

Thus we see that David confirms rather than conflicts with the statement of Paul and Moses.
MOSES STUART says: “They went through the sea on dry ground. Yet they were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. The reason and ground of such an expression must be, so far as I can discern, a surrounding of the Israelites on different sides by the cloud and by the sea, although neither the cloud nor the sea touched them. It is, therefore, a kind of figurative mode of expression, derived from the idea that baptizing is surrounding with a fluid. But whether this be by immersion, affusion, suffusion, or washing, would not seem to be decided. The suggestion has sometimes been made that the Israelites were sprinkled by the cloud and by the sea, and this was the baptism which Paul meant to designate. But the cloud on this occasion was not a cloud of rain; nor do we find any intimation that the waters of the Red Sea sprinkled the children of Israel at this time. So much is true, viz: that they were not immersed. Yet, as the language must evidently be figurative in some good degree, and not literal, I do not see how, on the whole, we can make less of it than to suppose that it has a tacit reference to the idea of surrounding in some way or other.” Stuart on Baptism, p. 113. This is a candid admission from one writing confessedly in the interest of sprinkling and pouring. Indeed, it is just the truth. No one ever supposed that the Israelites were immersed or dipped, but they were surrounded by the cloud and sea, suggestive of Paul’s idea that baptism is a burial.


“But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” Matt. xx:22, 23. “But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask; can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized with shall ye be baptized.” Mark x:38, 39. “But I have a baptism to be baptized with: and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Luke xii:50.

Upon these passages eminent critics have written as follows:
WITSIUS: “Immersion into water is to be considered as exhibiting the dreadful abyss of divine justice, in which Christ for our sins was for a time, as it were, absorbed; as in David, his type, he complains (Ps. lxix:2), ‘I am come into deep waters where the floods overflow me.'” Bailey’s Manual, p. 232.
DODDRIDGE’S FAMILY EXPOSITOR: “Are ye able to drink the bitter cup of which I am about to drink so deep, and be baptized with the baptism, and plunged into that sea of sufferings with which
I am shortly to be baptized, and, as it were, overwhelmed for a time? I have indeed a most dreadful baptism to be baptized with; and I know that I shall shortly be bathed, as it were, in blood, and plunged in the most overwhelming distress.”
HERVEY: “He was baptized with the baptism of his sufferings, hashed in blood, and plunged in death.” Bailey’s Manual, p. 235.
SIR H. TRELAWNEY: “Here, I must acknowledge, our Baptist brethren have the advantage; for our Redeemer’s sufferings must not be compared to a few drops of water sprinkled on the face, for he was plunged into distress and environed with sorrows.” Ibid.
BLOOMFIELD’S GREEK TESTAMENT: “This metaphor of immersion in water, as expressive of being overwhelmed by affliction, is frequent, both in the Scriptures and in classical writers.” Vol. 1, p. 97.
WESLEY’S NOTES, p. 123: “Our Lord was filled with sufferings within, and covered with them without.”
PROF. STUART: “I have a baptism to be baptized with – that is, I am about to be overwhelmed with sufferings, and I am greatly distressed with the prospect of them.” “Can ye indeed take upon you to undergo, patiently and submissively, sufferings like mine — sufferings of an overwhelming and dreadful nature?” Stuart on Baptism, p. 72. The awful sufferings of Jesus may well be called a baptism, for truly he was overwhelmed in them. Will the reader follow Him to the garden of Gethsemane, and see Him, as it were, sweating great drops of blood, and say that such agony was in anticipation of a little sprinkle of suffering? Shall we enter the judgment hall of Pilate and see him clothed with a mock robe and crown of thorns, and still say this was a little sprinkle of insult and injury? Shall we stand upon the summit of Calvary and see the rusty nails sent hissing through His quivering flesh as He is made fast to the cross, and say this is yet only a sprinkle of suffering? Shall we stand by the cross on which he is suspended for three long hours, suffering all the horrors of a malefactor’s death, derided by enemies, forsaken by friends, and for a time even forsaken by His God, and still say this is all a mere sprinkle of sufferings? Is not such a thought monstrously impious? Yet it is involved in the idea that sprinkling or pouring is baptism. We will not dignify it by a further examination in connection with the sufferings of our blessed Lord.


“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Matt. iii:11. This was a prophetic declaration made by John the Baptist; and before we proceed to look for its fulfillment it may be well for us to remark that the preposition with, which occurs three times in this passage, is from the Greek preposition en, the primary meaning of which is in, and should be so rendered here, unless good reasons, which we are not able to see, be shown for its removal. Thus translated, the passage reads: “I indeed baptize you in water but he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire.” On the day of Pentecost this remarkable prediction was fulfilled as to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, an account of which we have as follows: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts ii:14. As we have elsewhere remarked, there was here an absolute impact of the human spirit and the Holy Spirit. They being filled with the Spirit, it follows that their spirits were overwhelmed or immersed in the Holy Spirit. But was this a baptism of the Holy Ghost?

On a subsequent occasion Peter said: “As I began to speak [at the house of Cornelius] the Holy Ghost fell on them as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with [in] water; but ye shall be baptized with [in] the Holy Ghost.” Acts xi:15, 16. This shows that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, and at the house of Cornelius. But we are told that, as the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, that the pouring was the baptism. If this is true, it was the Spirit that was poured, and consequently it was the Spirit that was baptized and not the people. That this is a figurative use of the term baptidzo is very generally admitted by the learned.

In Dr. ROBINSON’S Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 126, he says: “Metaphorically, and in direct allusion to the sacred act, baptize en pneumati hagio kai puri — to baptize in the Holy Ghost and in fire, to overwhelm, richly furnish with all spiritual gifts, or overwhelm with fire unquenchable. Matt. iii:11, etc.”
CYRIL, Bishop of Jerusalem, A. D. 350, says: “As he who is plunged in the water and baptized is encompassed by the water on every side, so they that are baptized by the Holy Spirit are also wholly covered over.” Bailey’s Manual, p. 222. Substantially the same, Stuart on Bap., p. 148.

PROF. STUART on Baptism, p. 74, says: “The basis of this usage is very plainly to be found in the designation by baptidzo of the idea of overwhelming — i.e., of surrounding on all sides with a fluid.”
GURTLERUS: “Baptism in the Holy Spirit is immersion into the pure waters of the Holy Spirit, or a rich and abundant communication of his gifts. For he on whom the Holy Spirit is poured out is, as it were, immersed unto him.” Campbell and Rice Debate, p. 222.

BISHOP REYNOLDS: “The Spirit, under the gospel, is compared to water, and that not a little measure, to sprinkle or bedew, but to BAPT1ZE the faithful in (Matt. iii:11; Acts i:5), and that not in a font or vessel, which grows less and less, but in a spring or living water.” Ut supra.
IKENIUS: “The Greek word baptismos denotes the immersion of a thing or person into something. Here, also (Matt. iii:11, compared with Luke iii:16), the baptism of fire, or that which is performed in fire, must signify, according to the same simplicity of the letter, an immission or immersion into fire — and this the rather, because here, to baptize in the Spirit and in fire are not only connected but also opposed to being baptized in water.” Ibid.
LE CLERC: “He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit. As I plunge you in water, he shall plunge you, so to speak, in the Holy Spirit.” Ibid.
CASAUBON: “To baptize is to immerse — and in this sense the apostles are truly said to be baptized; for the house in which this was done was filled with the Holy Ghost, so that the apostles seemed to be plunged into it as into a fish-pool.” Ut supra.
GROTIUS: “To be baptized here is not to be slightly sprinkled, but to have the Holy Spirit abundantly poured upon them.” Ibid.
MR. LEIGH: “Baptized — that is, drown you all over, dip you into the ocean of his grace; opposite to the sprinkling which was in the law.” Ut supra.
ARCH’P TILLOTSON “It (the sound from heaven, Acts 2) filled all the house. This is that which our Saviour calls baptizing with the Holy Ghost. So that they who sat in the house were, as it were, immersed in the Holy Ghost, as they who were buried with water were overwhelmed and covered all over with water, which is the proper notion of baptism.” Ibid.

BISHOP HOPKINS: “Those that are baptized with the Spirit are, as it were, plunged into that heavenly flame whose searching energy devours all their dross, tin, and base alloy.” Ut supra.
MR. H. DODWELL: “The words of our Saviour were made good, Ye shall be baptized (plunged or covered) with the Holy Spirit, as John baptized with water without it.” Ibid.
THEOPHYLACT, commenting on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, says: “That is, he shall inundate you abundantly with the gifts of the Spirit.” Bailey’s Manual, p. 223. These authors all concur in the fact that the word baptidzo, when applied to the Holy Spirit, indicates an overwhelming in Spirit, drawn from the result reached by the primary meaning of the word, hence the overwhelming was the baptism, and not the outpouring. And if the spiritual or inner man was baptized in the Holy Spirit, as they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, we may well see why this was called a baptism or overwhelming of the human spirit in the Holy Spirit.


“And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt-sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it a second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.” 1 Kings xviii:33-35.

Origen, one of the most learned of the Greek fathers, was born A.D. 185, and probably wrote about the middle of the third century. He incidentally alludes to the baptism of the altar, wood, etc., by Elijah; and as the water was poured on the altar, the opponents of immersion insist that the pouring was what Origen called the baptism. If so, we again insist that he made an improper use of the term baptidzo, his great learning to the contrary notwithstanding; for, as the water was poured and not the altar or wood, it follows that the water was baptized upon the altar and the latter not baptized at all. Certainly, it was the complete saturation or  overwhelming of the altar to which he alluded as a baptism, for he was, as before stated, one of the most learned of the Greeks, and as such knew well that baptidzo never meant to pour. What he understood baptism to be may be learned from his own words, as follows: “They are rightly baptized who are washed unto salvation. He that is baptized unto salvation receives the water and the Holy Spirit; such baptism as is accompanied with crucifying the flesh and rising again to newness of life is the approved baptism.” Orchard’s Hist., Vol. 1, p. 35. But if the pouring constituted the baptism to which Origen referred, there must have been as many baptisms as there were pourings, hence he could not have spoken of a baptism, for there were twelve barrels of water used, and each one would have constituted a pouring, therefore there must have been twelve baptisms.

But we are told that there were no barrels in those days, and that Elijah only used twelve leathern bottles of water, a quantity wholly insufficient to have saturated or overwhelmed the altar. Such persons should take heed lest they deprive the prophet of the benefit of the trial between himself and the prophets of Baal, for the very object he had in applying the water was to so completely inundate the altar as to forbid the supposition or possibility of fire being concealed beneath it. 

We come next to an examination of the bathing of Judith in or at the fountain in the valley of Bethulia. This case, recorded in the apochryphal books of the Bible, is no part of the inspired volume, and therefore has no just claim to our consideration, but as the advocates of sprinkling always introduce it, as drowning men catch at straws, we will therefore examine it. “Then Holofernes commanded his guard that they should not stay her: thus she abode in the camp three days, and went out in the night into the valley of Bethulia, and washed herself in a fountain of water by the camp.” Judith xii:7. Some copies have at the fountain in place of in the fountain. Hence it is insisted that she sprinkled a little water upon herself as a mere ceremonial cleansing, but we have quoted the above from Bagster’s large family edition, which is one of the most authentic copies known.
DR. CONANT says: “One of the oldest Greek manuscripts (No. 58), and the two oldest versions (the Syriac and Latin), read immersed (baptized) herself in the fountain of water (omitting in the camp). According to the common Greek text, this was done at the fountain to which she went, because she had there the means of immersing herself. Any other use of water for purification could have been made in her tent.” Baptizien, p. 85. Surely, this is a rational conclusion. Why should she, like the Philippian jailer, have left her tent after midnight and gone out into the valley to sprinkle a few drops of water upon her person? The fact that she did go at such an hour proves that she went in obedience to the Jewish law that required her to bathe her whole person.

We have another case in the apocryphal writings suggested in the following words: “He that washeth himself after the touching of a dead body, if he touch it again, what availeth his washing?” Eccles. xxxiv:25.  We need not say to the Bible reader that anyone who had touched a dead body was regarded as unclean, and that the law required him to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water that he might be clean at even. See Numbers xix:19. Let it not be said that this bathing was a mere sprinkling, for they were required both to sprinkle and bathe, and both are specifically named in the same verse. Hence, all that is meant by baptizing from a dead body is that they baptized from the ceremonial uncleanness contracted by contact with a dead body. A similar form of expression is found in Heb. x:22, where we are said to be sprinkled from an evil conscience and the body washed in pure water.

We next come to examine the baptism of cups, pots, brazen vessels, and tables, recorded Mark vii:4, as follows: “And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.” Although these washings had nothing to do with the baptism commanded by the Lord, yet, as the word wash is the translation of baptidzo, they are relied upon as expressive of its meaning. By reference to the Jewish law it will be seen that the washings here referred to were more than mere sprinkling. In Lev. vi:28, it is said: “The brazen pot shall be scoured and rinsed in water” — not a little water simply sprinkled upon it, but scoured and rinsed in water. As a brazen pot was one of the articles mentioned in Mark, it is fair to conclude that the other articles were cleansed as it was. But again, the law says: “Upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel
of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be wherein any work is done, it must be put into water; and it shall be  unclean until the even, so it shall be cleansed.” Lev. xi:32. This puts the whole matter beyond the reach of cavil; they were to be put into water, and anything short of this would have been an insult to the Giver of the law. Hence, the word baptidzo in Mark vii:4, should be rendered dip or immerse, according to its primary import; and MacKnight, in his Harmony of the Gospels, so renders it.

THOMAS SHELDON GREEN, of London, in an improved version of the Greek Text, has this verse and a translation of it, by himself, as follows: “And coming from the market-place, they do not eat unless they dip themselves, and there are many other matters which they have received to hold, dipping of cups, and jars, and brazen vessels, and couches,” etc.
On this verse BEZA remarks: “Christ commanded us to be baptized; by which word it is certain immersion is signified; baptizesthai in this place is more than niptein, because that seems to respect the whole body, this only the hands.”

“DR. H. A. W. MEYER, in his Manual on the Gospels of Mark and Luke, says: ‘The expression in Mark vii:4, is not to be understood of the washing of the hands (as interpreted by Lightfoot and Wetstein, but of the immersing which the word always means in the classics and the New Testament; that is here, according to the context, the taking of a bath. So Luke xi:38. Having come from the market, where among a crowd of men, they might have come in contact with unclean persons, they eat not without having first bathed themselves. The representation proceeds after the manner of a climax: before eating they always observe the washing of hands, but (employ) the bath when they come from the market and wish to take food.'” Louisville Debate, p. 563.
“VATABULUS, professor of Hebrew in Paris, says of Mark vii:4: ‘They washed themselves all over.’ GROTIUS, the great German writer, says: ‘They cleansed themselves more carefully from defilement contracted at the market, to wit: not only by washing hands, but by immersing their bodies.'” Braden and Hughey Debate, p. 45. The Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts give us beds or couches in place of tables in the common version. Hence, it is insisted that baptism must have been a sprinkling, as beds could not have been immersed — basing their argument, of course, upon the assumption that beds then were such as are now used. They forget, however, that Jesus commanded persons to take up their beds and walk. See Matt. ix:6; Mark ii:9-11; John vi:11, 12.
CALMET says: “The word bed is in many cases calculated to mislead the reader and perplex him. The beds in the East are very different from those used in this part of the world. They are often nothing more than a cloth or quilt folded double.” Braden and Hughey Debate, p. 46. Though not always so, it is evident that the beds of those times were often composed of a light fabric which could be conveniently spread down or taken up, folded and carried along at pleasure.
MAIMONIDES, a Jewish rabbi, learned in the ceremonial law and  traditions of the elders, says: “Wherever, in the law, washing of the flesh or clothes is mentioned, it means nothing else than dipping the whole body in a laver; for if a man dips himself all over except the tips of his little finger, he is still in his uncleanness. In a laver which held forty sacks (one hundred gallons) of water, every defiled man dips himself, except a profluvious man, and in it they dip all unclean vessels. A bed that is wholly defiled, if he dip it part by part, is pure. If he dip the bed in a pool, although its feet are plunged in the thick clay of the bottom, it is clean.” Ibid. p. 45. Maimonides was one of the greatest lights in the Jewish church, and lived about the twelfth century, when the baptismal controversy was not so rife as now, and surely had no motive to misrepresent the fact. But we are told that some versions have sprinkle in place of wash, in Mark vii:4. This is true, but we deny that it is a translation of baptidzo, here or elsewhere.
SCELEUSNER says that some manuscripts have rantizonti in place of baptizonti, in Mark vii:4; hence any translator having such a manuscript before him must necessarily have sprinkle in his version. Although we thus account for the appearance of sprinkle in some versions, we have no idea that rantizonti is the correct word for the text, because we have seen that the washings referred to were immersions.
One other text, we believe, exhausts the proof of those who practice sprinkling for baptism, and, like the one just considered, it has no allusion to baptism whatever. It is found in Luke xi:38, as follows:
“And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner,” etc.
GREEN, of London, translates this verse thus: “And as he spake, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, and he went in and lay down. But the Pharisee wondered that he had not dipped before dinner.” Twofold New Testament, p. 131.

We have already seen that this rendering is in harmony with the Jewish law. When any one went out where he was liable to come in contact with such things as would render him unclean, he must bathe his flesh in water as though he were really unclean. Hence, this cannot be taken as evidence sufficient to justify the conclusion that the washing referred to was not an immersion. We have abundantly shown that baptidzo means to immerse or dip; hence, wherever it occurs we are bound to presume that the act indicated was dipping or immersing as long as there remains a possibility that this was the act performed. A mere possibility that it may have been done otherwise is not sufficient to overturn the settled meaning of the word.


We have now passed over and examined every scripture relied upon to prove sprinkling or pouring as baptism, and have not found a single passage where the word baptidzo occurs in the New Testament, where it may not justly be translated dip or immerse. And it is not a little remarkable that more importance is attached to the word in places where it has NO reference to baptism, as commanded by the Lord, than in those places where He used it to express the act He required of His followers, or in places where any inspired apostle employed it with reference to the act enjoined by Him. Mark vii:4, and Luke xi:38, are regarded by them as of more importance than even the commission itself; and yet these passages have no reference to Christian baptism. No scholar has ever been found willing to hazard his reputation by pointing out a single place in the New Testament where the word baptidzo refers to the rite in question, and saying that it means sprinkle or pour and should be so rendered in that place, or who has ever been able to point to a single clear example of sprinkling or pouring for baptism.

We now pass to the history of baptism, and we will begin with the writings of those who lived contemporaneously with the apostles, and see if we can learn how the primitive Christians obeyed the command of the Lord in baptism.
HERMAS lived in the days of the apostles and wrote before John wrote his gospel. See Wall’s History of Infant Baptism, Vol. 1, pp. 52-56. He says: “For before any one receives the name of the Son of God he is liable to death, but when he receives that seal he is delivered from death and is assigned to life.
Now, that seal is water, into which persons go down liable to death, but come out of it assigned to life.” Ut supra, p. 51. Here, we see, they went down into and came up out of the water.
BARNABAS was the companion of Paul. He says: “For these words imply, Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the Cross, have gone down into the water. This meaneth that we, indeed, descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear of God and trust in Jesus in our spirit.” Apostolic Fathers, p. 121.
JUSTIN MARTYR was a Christian, and was put to death for his faith in Jesus Christ. He was born A.D. 114, and wrote about A.D. 150. He says: “Then we bring them to some place where there is water, and they are regenerated by the same way of regeneration by which we were regenerated: for they are washed with water in the name of God, the Father and Lord of all things, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ says: Unless ye be regenerated, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Wall’s Hist. Inf. Bap., p. 68. Why should they have been taken to a place where there was water, to be “regenerated” (or, more properly, born again) ? There is nothing in sprinkling or pouring resembling a birth or which could have created a necessity for going to a place where there was water in order to be born again.
MOSHEIM, in speaking of the first century, says: “The sacrament of baptism was administered in this century without the public assemblies, in places appointed and prepared for that purpose, and was performed by an immersion of the whole body in the baptismal font.” Maclaine’s Mosheim’s
Church Hist., Vol. 1, p. 49.  Of the second century he says: “The persons that were to be baptized, after they had repeated the creed, confessed and renounced their sins, and particularly the devil and his pompous allurements, were immersed under water, and received into Christ’s kingdom by a solemn invocation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, according to the express command of our blessed Lord.” Ibid., p. 69. This not only shows that the parties were immersed under water, but that it was done according to the express command of our blessed Lord.” Of the fourth century the same author says: “Baptismal fonts were now erected in the porch of each church, for the more commodious administration of that initiating sacrament.” Ibid., p. 121. We are not here told expressly how baptism was administered in the fourth century, but surely it would have been unnecessary to erect fonts in connection with churches in order to practice sprinkling or pouring. Mosheim is one of the most reliable ecclesiastical historians we have, and practiced sprinkling and pouring himself. It is not to be presumed, therefore, that he would misrepresent the facts of history in favor of immersion.
NEANDER, another church historian, says: “In respect to the form of baptism, it was in conformity with the original institution and the original import of the symbol, performed by immersion, as a sign of entire baptism into the Holy Spirit, of being entirely penetrated by the same. It was only the sick, where the exigency required it, that any exception was made, and in this case baptism was administered by sprinkling. Many superstitious persons, clinging to the outward form, imagined that such baptism by sprinkling was not fully valid, and hence they distinguished those who had been so baptized by denominating them the clinici.” Neander’s Church History, by Torry, Vol. 1, p. 310. Neander is a voluminous and reliable author, and as the church of which he was a member practiced sprinkling, it is reasonable to suppose that he did also, and most likely gave unwilling testimony to the facts of history against his own practice.

DR. WALL, the pedobaptist historian, says: ‘Their general and ordinary way was to baptize by immersion, or dipping the person, whether it were an infant or grown man or woman, into the water.
This is so plain and clear by an infinite number of passages, that, as one cannot but pity the weak endeavors of such pedobaptists as would maintain the negative of it, so also we ought to disown and show a dislike of the profane scoffs which some people give to the English anti-pedobaptists merely for their use of dipping. It is one thing to maintain that that circumstance is not absolutely necessary to the essence of baptism, and another to go about to represent it as ridiculous and foolish, or as shameful and indecent, when it was, in all probability, the way by which our blessed Saviour, and for certain was the most usual and ordinary way by which the ancient Christians did receive their baptism. I shall not stay to produce the particular proofs of this. Many of the quotations which I brought for other purposes, and shall bring, do evince it. It is a great want of prudence as well as of honesty to refuse to grant to an adversary what is certainly true and may be proved so. It creates a jealousy of all the rest that one says. “Before the Christian religion was so far encouraged as to have churches built for its service, they baptized in any river, pond, etc. So Tertullian says: ‘It is all one whether one be washed in the sea or in a pond, in a fountain or in a river, in standing or in running water; nor is there any difference between those that John baptized in Jordan and those that Peter baptized in the river Tiber.’ But when they came to have churches, one part of the church, or place nigh the church, called the baptistery, was employed to this use, and had a cistern, font, or pond large enough for several at once to go into the water; divided into two parts by a partition, one for the men and the other for the women, for the ordinary baptisms.” Wall’s Hist. Inf. Bap., Vol. ii, pp. 384, 385. As Wall here refers to examples previously given as evidence of the correctness of his conclusions, it may not be amiss to give the reader the benefit of a few of them recorded in the first volume of his work. On the language of Justin Martyr, which we have already quoted, he marks as follows: “I bring it because it is the most ancient account of the way of baptizing, next the Scripture, and shows the plain and simple manner of administering it. The Christians of these times had lived, many of them at least in the apostles’ days.” Vol. 1, p. 69.
CLEMENT, of Alexandria, says: “If any one be by trade a fisherman, he will do well to think of an apostle and the children taken out of the water.” Again, the same author says: “If there be engraved in a seal ring the picture of a fisherman [or rather, as Clement’s own words are, if a fisherman will have an engraving on his seal], let him think of St. Peter, whom Christ made a fisher of men; and of the children, which, when baptized, are drawn out of a laver of water as out of a fish-pool.” Ibid., p. 86. These quotations from Clement show that after the introduction of infant baptism, even they were immersed, being drawn out of a laver of water as out of a fish-pool. There was rather a novel question mooted before the Council of Neocaesarea, in the year 314 A.D., with regard to which Dr. Wall remarks as follows: “So much is plain,  that some about that time and place had put this question: Whether a woman with child, that had a mind to become a Christian and be baptized, might conveniently receive baptism during her going with child, or must stay till she was delivered? And it is agreed likewise that the reason of the doubt was, because when she was immersed into the water, the child in her womb did seem to some to be baptized with her, and consequently they were apt to argue that that child must not be baptized, or would not need to be baptized, afterward for itself. This any one will conclude from the words of the council, which are these.” (Here follow the words of the council.) Ibid, Vol. 1, p. 151. It strikes us that such a question would never have arisen with reference to the offspring of a mother who had had only a few drops of water sprinkled upon her head. Other examples might be cited, but these are sufficient to justify Wall in the conclusion to which he came.
PROF. STUART says: “Tertullian, who died in A.D. 220, is the most ample witness of all the early writers. In his works is an essay in defense of Christian baptism, which had been assailed by some of the heretics of his time. Passing by the multitude of expressions which speak of the importance of being cleansed by water, being born in the water, etc., I quote only such as are directly to the point.” He then proceeds to quote Tertullian as follows: “In aquam de missus, let down into the water — i.e., immersed — and inter pauca verba tinctus — i.e., dipped between the utterance of a few words. There is, then, no difference whether any one is washed in a pool, river, fountain, lake, or channel, alveus (canal), nor is there any difference of consequence between those whom John immersed (tinxit) in the Jordan or Peter in the Tiber. Not that we obtain the Holy Spirit in aquis [i.e., in the baptismal water], but being cleansed in the water we are prepared for the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, going out from the ablution or bath, we are anointed. Thence we are thrice immersed (ter mergitamur), answering, i.e., fulfilling somewhat more than the Lord has decreed in the gospel.” On these quotations from Tertullian Prof. Stuart remarks: “I do not see how any doubt can well remain, that in Tertullian’s time the practice of the African church, to say the least, as to the mode of baptism, must have been that of trine immersion.” Stuart on Bap., pp. 144-46.

“But enough. ‘It is,’ says Augusti, ‘a thing made out,’ viz., the ancient practice of immersion. So, indeed, all the writers who had thoroughly investigated this subject conclude. I know of no one usage of ancient times which seems to be more clearly made out. I cannot see how it is possible for any candid man who examines the subject to deny this.” Ibid, p. 149. On page 152, Prof. Stuart quotes Augusti further: “Thirteen hundred years was baptism generally and ordinarily performed by the immersion of a man under water, and only in extraordinary cases was sprinkling or effusion permitted. These latter methods of baptism were called in question and even prohibited.” After quoting Chrysostom, Ambrose, Cyril, and Brenner to show that in their times persons were baptized in a nude state, Prof. Stuart says: “Still, say what we may concerning it in a moral point of view, the argument to be deduced from it in respect to immersion is not at all diminished. Nay, it is strengthened. For if such a violation of decency was submitted to in order that baptism might be performed as the church thought it should be, it argues that baptizing by immersion was considered as a rite not to be dispensed with.” Ibid, p. 151. After quite an array of testimony concerning the ancient practice, Prof. Stuart gives his conclusions in the following words: “We have collected facts enough to authorize us now to come to the following general conclusion, respecting the practice of the Christian church in general, with regard to the mode of baptism, viz: that from the earliest ages of which we have any account, subsequent to the apostolic age, and downward for several centuries, the churches did generally practice baptism by immersion, perhaps by immersion of the whole person; and that the only exceptions to this mode which were usually allowed were in cases of urgent sickness or other cases of immediate and imminent danger, where immersion could not be practiced. It may also be mentioned here, that aspersion and affusion, which had in particular cases been now and then practiced in primitive times, were gradually introduced.

These became at length, as we shall see hereafter, quite common, and in the western church almost universal, sometime before the Reformation. “In what manner, then, did the churches of Christ, from a very early period, to say the least, understand the word baptidzo in the New Testament? Plainly, they construed it as meaning immersion. They sometimes even went so far as to forbid any other method of administering the ordinance, cases of necessity and mercy only excepted. If, then, we are left in doubt after a philological investigation of baptidzo, how much it necessarily implies; if the circumstances which are related as accompanying this rite, so far as the New Testament has given them, leave us still in doubt; if we cannot trace with any certainty the Jewish proselyte baptism to a period as early as the baptism of John and Jesus, so as to draw any inferences with probability from this, still we are left in no doubt as to the more generally received usage of the Christian church down to a period several centuries after the apostolic age. That the Greek fathers, and the Latin ones who were familiar with the Greek, understood the usual import of the word baptidzo, would hardly seem to be capable of a denial. That they might be confirmed in their view of the import of this word by common usage among the Greek classic authors, we have seen in the first part of this dissertation. For myself, then, I cheerfully admit that baptidzo in the New Testament, when applied to the rite of baptism, does in all probability involve the idea that this rite was usually performed by immersion, but not always.” Ibid, p. 153, 154. 

Is it not strange that such a termination should follow such testimony and admissions? After telling us that bapto and baptidzo mean to dip, plunge, or immerge into anything liquid, and that all lexicographers of any note are agreed in this — that the churches of Christ, from a very early period, to say the least, understood the word baptidzo to mean immersion in the New Testament — that it could not be denied that those who so used it understood its import — that aspersion and effusion were gradually introduced — that he cheerfully admitted that baptidzo in the New Testament, when applied to the rite of baptism, in all probability involved the idea of immersion, he then closes with “not always.” And he repeats, with emphasis, “I say usually and not always.” And what are the examples to which he refers as exceptions? The reader shall have the benefit of them. He says: “To say more than this, the tenor of some of the narrations, particularly in Acts x:47, 48; xvi:32, 33, and ii:41, seem to me to forbid. I cannot read these examples without the distinct conviction that immersion was not practiced on these occasions.” p. 154.

Now, we confess ourselves wholly unable to see anything in these examples calculated to overturn the settled meaning of the word used to indicate the act required, and the construction placed upon it in the New Testament by the primitive Christians acknowledged competent to understand it, and the practice of the church from an early period in harmony with these authorities. May we briefly examine the  exceptional cases to which he refers us? Acts x:47, 48, reads as follows: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” On this passage Prof. Stuart says: “Observe that the idea in this case seems almost of necessity to be: Can any one forbid that water should be brought in, and these persons baptized? He does not say: ‘Can any one forbid the bath, or the river — i.e., the use of these, by which these persons should be baptized; but the intimation seems to be that they were to be baptized on the spot, and that water was to be brought in for that purpose.” Stuart on Bap., p. 110.
Now, is it not strange that persons can see what is not said on one side and be blind as to what is not said on the other? He says: “He does not say: Can any one forbid the bath or the river?” No; nor does he say: Can any man forbid that water should be brought in, and yet he can easily infer it. Candor compels him to admit “that another meaning is not necessarily excluded which would accord with the practice of immersion.”

In view of the admissions of Prof. Stuart, as long as there remains a possibility that the command was obeyed as commanded, we have no right to infer that something else was done not indicated by the command. The second example to which he refers, in Acts xvi:34, we have already examined, and we have seen that, according to rules of interpretation given by Prof. Stuart himself, we are bound to presume that the jailer was immersed. We refer the reader to the argument there presented without repeating it here. His third example claims a brief notice at our hands. The passage reads: “They that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts ii:41. On this passage Prof. Stuart asks: “Where and how were they baptized? Was it in the brooks or streams near Jerusalem? I cannot find this to be probable. The feast of Pentecost, being fifty days after the Passover (Lev. xxv:15), must fall in the latter part of the month of May, and after the Jewish harvest. In Palestine this is usually a time of drought, or at least of great scarcity of rain.” Ibid., p. 108. How easy it is to imagine a thing just as we would have it to be! Prof. Stuart was anxious to find some testimony favoring baptism by aspersion or affusion, and hence he imagines that the Jewish harvest was at a time of great scarcity of water in Jerusalem, and therefore those baptized could not have been immersed. Joshua says: “Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest.” Josh. iii:15. Jordan was one of the chief rivers of that country, and is only eighteen miles from the city of Jerusalem by the ordinary road of travel. At a time when Jordan was overflowing his banks we cannot easily imagine a great drought in Palestine. Josephus informs us that no less than two million seven hundred thousand two hundred persons assembled in Jerusalem to eat the feast of the annual passover. (Wars of the Jews, book vi, ch. 9.) Now, it occurs to us that a city which had water facilities for the accommodation of such a number of persons could furnish water enough to baptize them all in if necessary. “There were in Jerusalem the following pools: Bethesda, twenty-two rods long and eight rods wide; Solomon’s pool, fifteen rods long and six rods wide; the pool of Siloam, fifty-three feet long and eighteen feet wide, with a smaller pool; Old pool, twenty rods long and thirteen rods wide; pool of Hezekiah, fifteen rods long and nine rods wide; lower pool of Gihon, thirty-six rods long and sixteen rods wide, now, in the days of the apostles it covered over four acres.” Braden and Hughey Debate, p. 129. Here were acres upon acres of water, besides numerous other sources of water of which we have no names, and yet not water enough in which to immerse three thousand!! But Prof. Stuart admits that they might have been immersed even in baths or washing places. He says: “I do not say that this was impossible for every one acquainted with the Jewish rites must know that they made much use of ablutions, and therefore they would provide many conveniences for them.” Stuart on Bap., p. 109. But we are told that the water was controlled by the enemies of the disciples, and hence they would have objected to their using it for such purpose. But Luke says they had “favor with all the people.” Acts ii:47. Why should a people with whom God had given them favor forbid the use of the public watering-places for the immersion of those converted by their preaching? After making an argument based upon the supposition that there was not time enough for the apostles to have baptized so many, Prof. Stuart says: “However, I concede that there are some points here which are left undetermined, and which may serve to aid those who differ from me in replying to these remarks. It is true that we do not know that baptism was performed by the apostles only nor that all the three thousand were baptized before the going down of the sun. The work may have extended into the evening, and so, many being engaged in it, and more time being given, there was a possibility that the work in question should be performed although immersion was practiced.” Stuart on Bap., pp. 109, 110. Here he so completely meets his own argument that we feel disposed to dismiss it just where he left it — only asking the candid reader whether or not these three examples to which Prof. Stuart refers us are sufficient to overturn the evidence furnished by himself in favor of immersion? How are we to know what the Lord requires of us in any matter only as we learn it from the words employed by Him to express His will? We have seen a rule for the use of words given by Prof. Stuart himself, which says: “To every word in Scripture there is unquestionably assigned some idea or notion, otherwise words are useless and have no more signification than the inarticulate sounds of animals.” Ernesti, p. 7. This being so, when the Lord used the word baptdzo there was unquestionably assigned to it some idea or notion — what was it? Prof. Stuart says: “Bapto and baptidzo mean to dip, plunge, or immerge into anything liquid. All lexicographers and critics of any note are agreed in this.” Stuart on Baptism, p. 51. He gives us numerous examples from the classics, showing that this statement is true as far as they are authority. Then he quotes largely from the primitive fathers, showing that they so understood the word baptidzo in the New Testament, and admits that they did understand its import. Finally, he shows by undoubted historical testimony that the church practiced immersion only as baptism, from its organization on, for many centuries; then seeks to overturn it all by referring us to three cases in the New Testament which seem to teach otherwise; and yet, when he comes to examine them, his candor compels him to admit that they are not conclusive, and that even these may have been immersed. It is but just to Prof. Stuart to say that there is no higher authority in all the ranks of orthodoxy than he; yet with all his learning he was compelled to bring to the support of sprinkling and pouring mere possibilities, which he seeks to make probabilities by ridiculous quibbles unworthy of notice but for the fact that they emanate from a man whose fame, though starting at Andover, is not confined to America. 


Having seen that primitive Christians practiced immersion only as baptism, we come now to inquire for the origin of sprinkling and pouring. The first case known to us is that of Novatian, in the year 251 A.D., an allusion to which we have, given by Wall, as follows: “Novatian was by one party of the clergy and people of Rome chosen bishop of that church, in a schismatical way, and in opposition to Cornelius, who had been chosen by the major part and was already ordained. Cornelius does, in a letter to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, vindicate his right, and shows that Novatian came not canonically to his orders of priesthood; much less was he capable of being chosen bishop; for that all the clergy and a great many of the laity were against his being ordained presbyter, because it was not lawful (they said) for any one that had been baptized in his bed in time of sickness, as he had been, to be admitted to any office of the clergy.” Wall, Inf. Bap., Vol. ii, pp. 385, 388.  Mosheim, in his Historical Commentaries, p. 62, Vol. 1, gives us the history of the baptism of Novatian. He says: “He was seized with a threatening disease and was baptized in his bed, when apparently about to die.” He recovered from his sickness and was subsequently made a presbyter in the church by Bishop Fabian, contrary to the whole body of priests and of a large part of the church. The author says: “It was altogether irregular and contrary to ecclesiastical rules, to admit a man to the priestly office who had been baptized in bed — that is, who had been merely sprinkled, and had not been wholly immersed in water, in the ancient method. For by many, and specially the Roman Christians, the baptism of clinici (so they called those who, lest they should die out of the church, were baptized on a sick bed) was accounted less perfect, and indeed less valid, and not sufficient
for the attainment of salvation.” Louisville Debate, pp. 439, 440.

The reader will please observe that the objection made to the ordination of Novatian was that he had been merely sprinkled (in the language of the author), and not wholly immersed in water, in the ancient method, thus showing clearly that immersion was the ancient method. From this time sprinkling and pouring as baptism seem to have been practiced, but only upon persons dangerously ill. Much discussion of its validity ensued, until about eighty years afterward the question was laid before the Neocaesarean Council, the twelfth canon of which is: “He that is baptized when he is sick ought not to be made a priest (for his coming to the faith is not voluntary, but from necessity), unless his diligence and faith do afterward prove commendable, or the scarcity of men fit for the office requires it.” Wall’s Hist., Vol. u, pp. 383, 387.

On the validity of this baptism Bishop Cyprian remarks: “The breast of the believer is washed, the soul of the man is cleansed by the merits of faith. In the sacraments of salvation, where necessity compels and God gives his permission, the divine thing, though outwardly abridged, bestows all that implies on the faithful.” Neander’s Church History, Vol. i, p. 310. 

Observe here, that while Cyprian held that clinic baptism secured the blessings implied in the rite, he acknowledges it to be an outward abridgment of the divine thing. Who has a right to abridge divine things? “The first general law for sprinkling was obtained in the following manner: Pope Stephen II, being driven from Rome by Adolphus, king of the Lombards, in 753, fled to Pepin, who a short time before had usurped the crown of France. Whilst he remained there, the monks of Cressy, in Brittany, consulted him whether, in case of necessity, baptism poured on the head of the infant would be lawful. Stephen replied that it would. But though the truth of this fact be allowed — which, however, some Catholics deny — yet pouring or sprinkling was admitted only in cases of necessity. It was not till the year 1311 that the legislature, in a council held in Ravenna, declared immersion or sprinkling to be indifferent.

In Scotland, however, sprinkling was never practiced in ordinary cases, till after the Reformation (about the middle of the sixteenth century). From Scotland it made its way into England, in the reign of Elizabeth, but was not authorized in the Established Church.” Edinburgh Encyclopedia, article Baptism.
It has been insisted that sprinkling or pouring was first practiced in cold countries, but Dr. Wall says: “By history it appears that the cold climate held the custom of dipping as long as any; for England, which is one of the coldest, was one of the latest that admitted this alteration of the ordinary way. Vasquez having said that it was the old custom both in the East and the West to baptize both grown persons and infants that were in health by immersion, and that it plainly appears by the words of St. Gregory that the custom continued so to be in his time. … I will here endeavor to trace the times when it begun to be left off in the several countries in the  West, meaning still, in the case of infants that were in health, and in the public baptism; for in the case of sickly or weak infants, there was always, in all countries, an allowance of effusion or sprinkling, to be given in haste, and in the house, or any other place. “France seems to have been the first country in the world where baptism by effusion was used ordinarily to persons in health, and in the public way of administering it. … “It came more and more into request in that country till, in Bonaventure’s time, it was become, as appears by his words last quoted, as very ordinary practice; and though he says some other churches did then so use it, yet he names none but France. “The synod of Angiers, 1275, speaks of dipping or pouring as indifferently used, and blames some ignorant priests for that they dip or pour the water but once, and instructs them that the general custom of the church is to dip thrice or pour on water three times. … From France it spread (but not till a good while after) into Italy, Germany, Spain, etc., and, last of all, into England. … In England there seem to have been some priests so early as the year 816 that attempted to bring in the use of baptism by effusion in the public administration, for Spellman recites a canon of a council in that year: ‘Let the priests know that when they administer holy baptism they must not pour the water on the head of the infants, but they must always be dipped in the font.'” Wall’s Hist., Vol. ii, pp. 392-396.

On page 397, Dr. Wall quotes Wickliffe thus: “And the church has ordained that in case of necessity any person that is fidel [or that is himself baptized] may give baptism, etc. Nor is it material whether they be dipped,” etc. By this quotation from Wickliffe it will be seen that the church ordained the departure from the ancient custom by making it immaterial whether the subject was dipped, etc. On page 398, Dr. Wall says: “From the time of King Edward, Mr. Walker (who has taken the most pains in tracing this matter)
derives the beginning of the alteration of the general custom. He says that ‘dipping was at this time the more usual, but sprinkling was sometimes used, which, within the time of half a century [meaning from 1550 to 1600], prevailed to be the more general (as it is now almost the only) way of baptizing.'”

We call the reader’s special attention to the beginning of the alteration of the general custom. We might quote numerous other extracts from Dr. Wall, showing that the primitive practice was dipping or immersion, and that the church through her councils, popes, and bishops has assumed the right to change it, but the amount of testimony we wish to present from other sources forbids further quotations from him.
DR. KENDRICK, Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Baltimore, says: “When religion had consummated her triumphs over paganism in the various countries of Europe, the custom of Christians baptizing children being universal, ages passed away almost without an instance of the baptism of adults. Hence the necessity of receding from the mode of immersion became still more frequent, since the tender infant oftentimes could not be immersed without peril to its life. These cases thus multiplying, the more solemn method fell gradually into disuse, until it was in most places entirely superseded.
“Another cause contributed to favor effusion: A class of females formerly existed in the church, under the name of deaconesses, who, among other exercises of piety, instructed and prepared for baptism the catechumens of their sex, and performed some of the ceremonies preparatory to its administration. This class of females having ceased, from a variety of causes, it became expedient to abstain from the immersion of females.” Kendrick on Baptism, pp. 172, 173. And on page 174 he says: “The change of discipline which has taken place in regard to baptism should not surprise us; for, although the church is but the dispenser of the sacraments which her divine spouse instituted, she rightfully exercises a discretionary power as to the manner of their administration. She cannot change their substance.”
Again, on same page: “The church wisely sanctioned that which, although less solemn, is equally effectual. The power of binding and loosing which she received from Christ warrants this exercise of governing wisdom, that, the difference of times and places being considered, condensation may be used with regard to the mode of administering the sacraments without danger to their integrity.”
DR. JOHNSON said: “As to giving the bread to the laity, they may think that, in what is merely ritual, deviations from the primitive mode may be admitted on the ground of convenience; and I think they are as well warranted to make this alteration as we are to substitute SPRINKLING in the room of ANCIENT BAPTISM. Campbell, Debate with Rice, p. 173.
MR. BONNER says: “Baptism by immersion was undoubtedly the apostolic practice, and was never dispensed with by the church, except in cases of sickness, or when a sufficient quantity of water could not be had. In both these cases baptism by aspersion or sprinkling was allowed, but in no other.” Booth on Baptism, p. 176.
CHAMIERUS: “Immersion of the whole body was used from the beginning, which expresses the force of the word BAPTIZO: whence John baptized in the river. It was afterward changed into sprinkling, though it is uncertain when or by whom it commenced.” Ibid, p. 192.
BISHOP STILLINGFLEET’S Rites and Customs of the English Church: “Rites and customs apostolical are altered; therefore men do not think that apostolical practice doth bind, for if it did, there could be no alteration of things agreeable thereunto. Now, let anyone consider but these few particulars, and judge how far the pleaders for a divine right of apostolical practice do look upon themselves as bound now to observe them.” Ut supra.
DEYLINGIUS: “It is manifest, that while the apostles lived the ordinance of baptism was administered, not out of a vessel or a baptistery, which are the marks of later times, but out of rivers and pools, and that not by sprinkling but by immersion. … So long as the apostles lived, as many believe, immersion only was used, to which afterward, perhaps, they added a kind of pouring.” Ibid, p. 194.
HEIDEGGERUS: “Plunging or immersion was most commonly used by John the Baptist and by the apostles. … It is of no importance whether baptism be performed by immersion into water, as of old, in the warm Eastern countries, and even at this day, or by sprinkling, which was afterward introduced in colder climates.” Ut supra.
EDWARD LEIGH: “The ceremony used in baptism is either dipping or sprinkling; dipping is the more ancient. At first they went down into the rivers; afterward they were dipped in fonts. … Zanchius and Mr. Perkins prefer (in persons of age, and in hot countries, where it may be safe) the ceremony of immersion under water, as holding more analogy to that of Paul (Rom. vi:4).” Ut supra.
HORNBEKIUS: “In the Eastern churches baptism was more anciently administered by immersing the whole body in water. Afterward, first in the Western churches, on account of the coldness of the countries, bathing being less in use than in the East, and the tender age of those that were baptized, dipping or sprinkling was admitted.” Booth, Abridged, pp. 100, 101.
GROTIUS: “The custom of pouring or sprinkling seems to have prevailed in favor of those that were dangerously ill, and were desirous of giving up themselves to Christ – whom others call clinics. See the Epistle of Cyprian to Magnus.” Ibid., p. 101.
E. SPANHEMIUS: “In these northern and colder countries, out of regard to the tender age of infants, we use aspersion in the place of immersion, which, of old, was usually practiced, either in open rivers or in private baptisteries and vessels filled with water.” Ut supra.
BISHOP BURNET: “The danger of dipping, in cold climates, may be a very good reason for changing the form of baptism to sprinkling.” Ut supra.
DR. TOWERSON: “The first mention we find of aspersion in the baptism of the elder sort was in the case of the clinici, or men who received baptism upon their sick beds; and that baptism is represented by St. Cyprian as legitimate, upon the account of necessity that compelled it, and the presumption there was of God’s gracious acceptation thereof because of it. By which means the lawfulness of any other baptism than by immersion will be found to be in the necessity there may sometimes be of another manner of administering it.” Ibid., pp. 101, 102.
SIR JOHN FLOYER: “The Church of Rome hath drawn short compendiums of both sacraments. In the eucharist they use only the wafer, and instead of immersion they introduced aspersion.” Ibid, p.102.
SCHLEUSNER, in defining baptisma, says: “Properly, immersion, dipping into water, a washing; hence, it is transferred to the sacred rite which, par excellence, is called baptism, in which formerly those to be baptized were plunged into water.” New Testament Lexicon.
STOKIUS, in defining baptisma, says: “Specifically, properly it denotes the immersion or dipping of a thing into water that it may be cleansed or washed; hence it is transferred to designating the first sacrament of the New Testament, which they call the sacrament of initiation — namely, baptism, in which those to be baptized were formerly immersed into water, though at this day the water is only sprinkled upon them.” New Testament Lexicon. Formerly they were immersed, now they have water only sprinkled on them. How came the change?
DR. R. WITHAM: “The word baptism signifies a washing, particularly when it is done by immersion, or by dipping, or plunging a thing under water, which was formerly the ordinary way of administering the sacrament of baptism. But the church, which cannot change the least article of the Christian faith, is not so tied up in matters of discipline and ceremonies. Not only the Catholic Church, but also the pretended reformed churches, have altered this primitive custom in giving the sacrament of baptism, and now allow of baptism by pouring or sprinkling water on the person baptized.” Booth, Abridged, pp. 102,103.
MOSES STUART: “It will be seen from all this, that Christians began somewhat early to deflect from the ancient practice of immersion.” Stuart on Chr. Bap., p. 175. In debate with J. S. Sweeney, Dr. J. B. Logan, an eminent Cumberland Presbyterian debater, said: “The church claimed the right to change the mode but not the ordinance itself, and in that I agree with the church and can cheerfully admit it.” Sweeney and Logan Debate, p. 72. We have already quoted from Prof. Stuart “that aspersion and effusion, which had now and then been practiced in particular cases in primitive times, were gradually introduced.” The fact that they were gradually introduced shows that they came not from the Lord. He says that these became at length quite common in the Western church, but “the mode of baptism by immersion the Oriental church has always continued to preserve, even down to the present time.” Stuart on Bap., p. 151.
DEYLINGIUS says: “The Greeks retain the rite of immersion to this day, as JEREMIAH, the Patriarch of Constantinople, declares.” Booth on Baptism, Abridged, p. 93.
BUDDEUS: “That the Greeks defend immersion is manifest, and has been frequently observed by learned men, which LUDOLPHUS informs us is the practice of the Ethiopians.” Ut supra.
VENEMA: “In pronouncing the baptismal form of words, the Greeks used the third person saying, ‘Let the servant of Christ be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,’ and immerse the whole man in water.” Ut supra. Other authorities might be given, but these are deemed sufficient to show that, while the Western or Roman Catholic Church gradually introduced the practice of aspersion and effusion until they became common by the time of the Reformation, the Oriental or Greek Church has continued faithful to the commands of the Lord and still practices only immersion as baptism. As the Greeks are presumed to better understand the Greek language than others unaccustomed to speak it, the fact that they have always understood baptidzo to mean immersion, and have practiced accordingly, is an item of no small importance in arriving at a knowledge of what the Lord required as baptism. If any people may be presumed to know the import of the word used by the Lord it is certainly those by whom the Greek language has been always spoken. If they have not understood their native tongue, who has understood it?
PROF. STUART quotes Calvin, thus: “It is of no consequence at all whether the person baptized is totally immersed, or whether he is merely sprinkled by an effusion of water. This should be a matter of choice to the churches in different regions, although the word baptize signifies to immerse, and the rite of immersion was practiced by the ancient church;” and then says “To this opinion I do most fully and heartily subscribe.” Stuart on Bap., pp. 156, 157.

 Thus we see that, after conceding immersion to be the meaning of the word used by the Lord to indicate His will, and that immersion was the practice of the ancient church, these two great lights in the ranks of orthodoxy think it a matter of indifference, and should be left to the choice of the church; hence, the church may decide whether the people shall obey the Lord or not. Kind reader, which will you obey? “If the Lord be God, serve him; if Baal, serve him.” But what are the reasons given by Prof. Stuart for the conclusion to which he comes? “1. The rite in question is merely external.” Suppose it is, is that any reason why it should not be obeyed? Jewish circumcision was “outward in the flesh” (Rom. ii:28), yet God said: “The uncircumcised man-child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” Gen. xvii:14. Does any one believe that God would have excused a Jew from circumcision or have justified him in changing the act to something else upon the ground that the rite was merely external? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. Prof. Stuart argues the right of the church to change the act of baptism at great length with all the plausibility of an ingenious sophist, but we have room only for a few short extracts, which we give as follow: “Must I show that we are not at liberty, without being justly exposed to the accusation of gross departure from Christianity, to depart from the modes and forms of the apostolic church in any respect? I have shown that all the churches on earth do depart from these, in their celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and yet without any apprehension of being guilty of an impropriety, much less of being justly chargeable with the spirit of disobedience and revolt. But what is the case in respect to baptism? Will nothing but the letter do here? So you may think and reason, but are you not entirely inconsistent with yourself? Mere externals must be things of particular time and place. Dress does not make the man. One dress may be more convenient or more decorous than another, but neither the one nor the other is an essential part of the person. So the common feeling of men has decided about most of the external matters pertaining to religion the world over. They have always been modified by time and place, by manners and customs, and they always will be. Accordingly, long before the light of the Reformation began to dawn upon the churches, the Roman Catholics themselves were gradually adopting the method of baptism by sprinkling or effusion, notwithstanding their superstitious and excessive devotedness to the usages of the ancient church. 

All this serves to illustrate how there sprang up, in the bosom of a church superstitiously devoted to ancient rites and forms, a conviction that the mode of baptism was one of the adiaphora of religion — i.e., something unessential to the rite itself, and which might be modified by time and place, without any encroachment upon the command itself to baptize. Gradually did this conviction increase until the whole Roman Catholic Church, that of Milan only excepted, admit it. By far the greater part of the Protestant world have also acceded to the same views. Even the English Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church, both zealous in times past for what they supposed to be apostolic and really ancient usage, have had no difficulty in adopting modes of baptism quite different from that of immersion.” Stuart on Baptism, pp. 169-172. 

Thus we see that Prof. Stuart thinks that the church may change the forms and usages of worship just as a man may change his dress to suit time and place. He shows us, with an air of seeming pleasure, that the Roman Catholic Church had gradually left her devotedness to the usages of the ancient church and adopted sprinkling and pouring, and that the Protestant churches had followed her example. Daniel prophesied of a power that should “speak great swelling words against the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time; but the judgment shall sit, and they shall take his dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” Dan. vii:25, 26. Does not the power assigned by Prof. Stuart to the church resemble that claimed by the government spoken of by Daniel? Though he seemed to triumph for a time, judgment came upon him in the end.

Let us learn a lesson here, and seek not to change laws and times which God has arranged in accordance with His own will. “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 These. ii:3, 4. The Pope of Rome has gone on from one act of usurpation to another, changed the act of baptism in accordance with his views of propriety, and has, finally, had himself proclaimed infallible, thus sitting in the temple of God and seeking to show himself that he is God. But Daniel said a day of judgment would  come that would break the power of the usurper, and we feel encouraged to hope that the day of his power is fast drawing to a close. Will Protestant parties continue to cling to the changes which he has made for them in the divine law? “Why call ye me Lord,
Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke vi:46. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John xiv:15.

[This if from The Gospel Plan of Salvation (1874).  A special thanks to Lindsay England for her hard work in formatting this sermon.]

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”