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parallel passage ; but unfortunately it turns out that his pretended parallel affords an example of as plain and obvious a construction of words as is to be found in the sacred pages. It is a passage which, instead of presenting a choice of difficulties, difficulties of his kind I mean, where grammar is on one side, and hypothesis on the other, suggests a sense in which all mankind have acquiesced—a sense which no degree of stupidity can miss, or artifice evade.* The only resemblance it bears to the portion of history under consideration is, that it relates a similar incident, where certain persons who had been baptized had not yet received the gifts of the Holy Ghost. To attempt the defence of a most unnatural interpretation of Greek words, not by an appeal to a passage which exhibits a similar peculiarity of construction, but merely a similarity of occurrence, is egregious trifling.

To the argument founded on the extreme improbability that none of the numerous converts on the day of Pentecost were previously disciples of John, no reply is attempted.

I cannot dismiss this subject without noticing the extreme deficiency of information respecting the history of religious opinions this author evinces, when he stigmatizes the sentiments advanced, as a modern theory. They are so far from meriting that reproach, that they boast the suffrages of all the fathers, without exception, who have touched upon the subject; nor would it be easy to discover a single divine, previous to the reformation, by whom they were not embraced; and since that period they have received the sanction of a Grotius, a Hammond, a Whitby, a Doddridge, a Chillingworth, and a multitude of other names of nearly equal celebrity. On an accurate inquiry, it will probably be found that the absurd interpretation of the passage we have just been considering, which is so necessary to the support of the opposite hypothesis, originated in the horror excited at the conduct of the anabaptists at Munster, by which certain divines of the reformation felt themselves strongly disposed to shun whatever might bear the semblance or colour of anabaptism; that, in short, the doctrine here advanced is the revival of an ancient, rather than the invention of a new opinion.

* This wonder-working passage is as follows :—"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John : who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them : only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” Acts viii. 14–17.

To the sincere inquirer, the antiquity or the novelty of a doctrine will appear a consideration of little moment, compared to the evidence by which it is supported; yet, as a natural prejudice exists against violent departures from the ancient course of interpretation, it is but just to endeavour, as much as possible, to disengage the cause of truth from this incumbrance.


The author of the Plea expresses a sort of horror at the thought of a plurality of baptisms, forgetting, it should seem, that the doctrine of baptisms, in the plural number, is placed by St. Paul amongst the first principles of the oracles of God. It is difficult to conceive to what baptisms he could refer, except those which are the subject of the present discussion: the baptism of the Spirit, which was the highest gift of God, could with little propriety be termed a doctrine, much less enumerated amongst the first principles of christianity; and the Jewish washings constituted no part of that system.

Having presented the reasons on which the baptism of John was affirmed to be essentially distinct from the christian ordinance, at so much length, it is high time to relieve the attention of the reader, by dismissing the subject.

There is one more observation, and one only, to which the author requests his attention. If we admit that the Jewish people were baptized in the name of Christ, considering the prodigious multitudes who repaired to John for that purpose, the conduct of a great part of that nation must be viewed in a new light; and instead of being chargeable with a uniform rejection of the Messiah, they must be considered as apostates ; upon this supposition, they violated the most sacred engagements, and impiously crucified their Prince, after consecrating themselves to his service by the most awful solemnities. The evangelist informs us that “he came to his own, but his own received him not;" but the more accurate statement would have been, that they first received, and afterwards rejected him ; received him on the testimony of the forerunner, and rejected him after witnessing the immaculate purity of his life, the wisdom of his discourses, and the splendour of his miracles.

There is attached to apostasy a character of perfidy and baseness peculiar to itself—a species of guilt which the inspired writers frequently paint in the darkest colours; yet, strange to tell! though they had no motives to conceal or palliate the conduct of their countrymen, in their treatment of the Messiah, but many motives to the contrary, not a syllable escapes them of the charge of apostasy. What terrible energy would that accusation have lent to St. Peter's address! What unspeakable advantage for alarming their consciences would he have derived from reminding them of their baptismal vows, and of their unspeakable impiety in crucifying the divine person to whom they had previously dedicated themselves in solemn rites of religion. When St. Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, gives loose to one of his finest bursts of indignant feeling and rapid eloquence, in a brief portraiture of the character of his countrymen, the circumstance which would have given incredible force to the picture is suppressed; and not having perused the author of the Plea, he seems to entertain no suspicion of their having been baptized in the name of Jesus.

It is not less unaccountable that the ancient prophets contain no allusion to this event, but describe the future rejection of the Messiah as coeval with his appearance ; and that the most singular fact in sacred history is neither the subject of narration, nor of prophecy, but was reserved for the detection of the nineteenth century.

Having replied to this anonymous writer on every particular connected with the baptism of John, it is unnecessary to trouble the reader by animadverting on the other parts of his performance: the few observations it contains which are pertinent to the subject, are too loose and superficial to deserve attention, especially since a work is announced by a writer, who will probably discuss the remaining topics with superior ability. . We shall notice only two circumstances, illustrative of the author's management of the controversy. He devotes his first section to a synopsis of the principles advanced in the treatise On Terms of Communion; which he has extended to the number of fourteen. Several of these, disguised by a little variety of language, are identically the same ; some grossly misrepresented; and all of them expressed, not in the terms of the author, but in such as are adapted to give them as much of the air of paradox as possible. It is obvious that he who wishes to judge of them fairly, must view them in their proper place, accompanied with their respective proofs and illustrations; and that to tear them from their connexion, and exhibit

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