The experience of holiness, or Christian perfection, is the mainspring of all gospel truth. It was doubtless the hindrance to the development of the apostasy in apostolic times mentioned by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:7. And if the possessions of holiness by the apostolic church kept back the apostasy so long as it was retained within the hearts of her members, may we not well look for a return to the pure doctrines of Christianity as we in the present reformation emanate from the dark wilderness of the apostasy by means of our return to the experience of apostolic holiness?
Isaiah predicted that the ransomed of the Lord should return upon the way of holiness unto Zion. Zion is a metaphor signifying the New Testament. See Heb. 12:18-24. Therefore to return to Zion is to return to the true church and doctrine of Christ as set forth in the New Testament. This prediction we are now seeing fulfilled in the breaking forth of the light that was to shine in the “evening time.”
God has led his people out of the dark theories that have originated under the apostasy, in respect to the holy observances enjoined by our Saviour, and we feel it our duty to set forth the true New Testament teaching in respect to the ordinances of Christ, that we may if possible lend a helping hand to our much beloved brethren in Christ, who are struggling to unlearn the dark theories they have gathered in mystic Babylon.
The word “ordinance” in this little volume shall be applied in the sense of a ceremony, and in this light we may consider three divine institutions of our Saviour–Baptism, Feet-washing, and the Communion Supper.
At the close of the work we shall notice two other scriptural commandments, the Holy Kiss and the Lifting up of Holy Hands, which are not included in our application of the word “ordinance,” but because generally neglected, we shall briefly consider them.
Some pretended holiness-teachers affirm that to teach and practice the ordinances is but a hindrance to the progress of holiness, but such sentiments cannot be imbibed by a pure heart. By urging upon the people a strict obedience to all the Word we accelerate rather than retard the progress of the cause of holiness; for the very principle of obedience lies in the experience of holiness, and there is no holiness without obedience. Peter taught that the sanctification of the Spirit was unto obedience (1 Pet. 1:2), and I should like to know how I, by teaching the brethren to strictly obey all the ordinances instituted by our Saviour am going to retard the progress of a sanctification unto obedience. The very experience of holiness constrains me to teach and practice all the divine institutions of our Saviour, and I am persuaded that those who oppose these sacred works have not the apostolic experience of sanctification unto obedience.
Obedience is essential to prove our love to God. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” Ver. 23. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” Ver. 21. “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.” Ver. 24. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. According to these several texts they are deceived who profess love to God while possessed with a spirit of disobedience. We are not to estimate our love from some peculiar sensation in our bosom, but from the spirit of true obedience, without which we are loving in word and in tongue only.
By obedience we also prove ourselves the friends of Jesus. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:13. How inappropriate the name of “Friends” assumed by the Quakers, who oppose all the precious ordinances instituted by our Saviour. Such generally make great pretensions to piety and wear a sanctimonious air to make themselves appear sweet and pure, but if we stand upon the Word, by the standard of which alone uprightness is to be imputed, we cannot acknowledge them true friends of Christ.
A spirit of obedience is necessary to prove ourselves in possession of a saving knowledge of God. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 9.
We must take a radical stand upon these plain teachings of the Bible, and let whomsoever the Word unchristianizes become unchristianized. We cannot acknowledge those who oppose the sacred institutions of our Saviour to be the servants of God. Neither can we acknowledge those who teach against them to be led by the Holy Ghost. These declarations may be by some considered harsh, but if they be carefully weighed by those whose hearts are filled with trueness to God’s word, it will be discovered that is only Christian loyalty.
In conclusion of these introductory remarks we wish briefly to call attention to another false idea advanced by those who oppose the ordinances of Christ. It is, that the ordinances always divide the Christian people, and are the principle cause of division among Christians. If this be true, we should like to know the cause of so much strife and division among those who are infected with the antiordinance ideas. There is no more dissentient spirit upon earth than that which propagates antiordinancism. Quakerism herself, the mother of all these God-dishonoring ordinance-opposing heresies, has been divided into several jangling factions. I had far rather adhere to Paul’s idea of the cause of division: “Whereas there is among you envyings, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1 Cor. 3:3.
The Abolished Ordinances
On every Bible doctrine, inspiration has given us a few texts which seemingly contradict the general voice of the Scriptures. This is true of every other, and none the less of the doctrine of the ordinances. Hence, many who do not live near enough to God to receive correct interpretations from him, who only knoweth the word of God (Rev. 19:12, 13), often, in their blindness, misconstrue these texts into a deceptive doctrine directly opposite to the pure doctrine of Christianity. Such is the delusion under which holiness-fighters, water-salvationists, antiordinance people, etc., are laboring.
But the texts which seemingly contradict the general voice of the Bible on any Christian doctrine, are not antagonistic, but have been, by the mind of inspiration, so mysteriously arranged as to prevent the carnal-minded man from illegally obtaining a correct understanding of the holy Scriptures (See Luke 8:10). But they are easily interpreted in harmony with the uniform voice of holy writ, when viewed in the true light of the Spirit of God.
We shall proceed to quote, and show the true meaning of the texts which fighters of New Testament ordinances wrest to substantiate their doctrine.
“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” Eph. 2:15.
It is very evident that this text teaches the abolition of something, but to my mind it is the wonder of the age that intelligent and cultured human minds can see in it the abolition of any of the ordinances of the New Testament. They could not without infernal assistance. Now, Mr. Ordinance-fighter, if you will allow me to catechise you upon this text, I believe, by the help of the Lord, I can make you see its true meaning.
Q. What does this text say Christ abolished?
Ans. “The law of commandments contained in ordinances.”
This expression signifies the ten-commandment code, encircled with all the ceremonies of the Mosaic system. So the text under consideration only teaches the abolition of the Mosaic system. No mention is made of any of the holy observances instituted by Christ.
Q. What else does Paul call that which he says Christ has abolished?
Ans. He calls it “the middle wall of partition” between the Jews and the Gentiles. Ver. 14. Also, in verse 15 he calls it an “enmity” between the Jews and the Gentiles.
Here we have another key which will unlock to our minds a true conception of that which is abolished. The law of Moses only enjoined the Jewish nation, thus actually cutting off or separating that nation from all others; hence was a real wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles. The entire New Testament system is enjoined upon all nations (Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15); therefore, can not be ranked with the abolished “enmity” between the Jews and Gentiles.
Q. Why did Christ abolish the Mosaic system?
Ans. “For to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Ver. 15:16.
It is here stated that Christ abolished the Mosaic system, that he might effect a reconciliation of the entire human family unto God. From this we see that the abolition took place coincident with the great reconciliation. So we have only to learn the date of this reconciliation, to know the date of the abolition. If we turn to Rom. 5:10, we will see the time of reconciliation clearly set forth: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Here we see the date of the reconciliation fixed at the time of Christ’s death, which, as we have already seen, is the time of the abolition.
We will now consider another ordinance-fighters’ text: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and, having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Col. 2:14, 15).” Now, Mr. Ordinance-fighter, if you do not object, we will continue our catechising upon this text.
Q. What does this text say Christ blotted out? Ans. “The handwriting of ordinances.”
Q. Is there anything in this text that will give us any clue to the date of the blotting out of the handwriting of ordinances?
Ans. Yes, it tells us Christ blotted out the handwriting of ordinances by “nailing it to his cross,” referring thus again to the death of Christ as the date of abolition. This is the only date of abolition mentioned in the New Testament. Ordinance-fighters seeing baptism, feetwashing, and the Lord’s supper commanded by inspiration, and observed by the apostolic church after the Saviour’s death, try, in their dishonesty, to fix the date of abolition later than the death of Christ. But all such are teachers of error, and in the name of Jesus we defy them to substantiate by the sacred writing of the New Testament any other date of abolition than the death of Christ. All, therefore, that Jesus abolished, he abolished at the time of his death. And what he did not then abolish has never been abolished by him. If he abolished baptism, feet-washing, and the communion supper, we say amen to their abolition. But if he abolished them not at his death, he has never abolished them. And if Jesus has not abolished the New Testament ordinances, nobody else has a right to abolish them, and we are not disposed to accept any of their abolitions.
We have seen that it was “the handwriting or ordinances’’ that Jesus blotted out and nailed to the cross at his death. Therefore baptism, feet-washing, and the Lord’s supper cannot be included in the code which the Lord blotted out, for none of these were in handwriting at that time.
The very language employed by the apostle to set forth the blotting out of the “handwriting of ordinances” proves he had no reference to any of the New Testament ordinances. He says Christ “took it out of the way.” By this expression we understand Paul to teach that Jesus only abolished that which was in the way of, or a hindrance unto the great work of redemption which he came to accomplish. This is not true of any of the ordinances of the New Testament. It is not only preposterous, but base and criminal even to think that Jesus would institute observances which would hinder his work of redemption, and which he was compelled to blot out before his plan could prove a success. Such a blunder would prove our Lord not infallible.
The Mosaic law, having been enjoined upon one nation only, was a real hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Under it Jesus could only send his gospel to the Jews, and it was not until the law was abolished at the Saviour’s death, that the Gentile nations could receive the gospel. Before the Saviour’s death, both himself and his apostles preached only to the Jews. He forbade his apostles to preach to the Gentiles. Matt. 10:5, 6.
But after his death had taken the law of the Jews out of the way, we hear him commanding his apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Matt. 28:19.
The conclusion drawn by the apostle immediately after he shows the blotting out of the “handwriting of ordinances,’’ proves that he had exclusive reference to the Old Testament system. He says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Col. 2:16, 17.
If it were the ordinances of the New Testament that Paul declares blotted out and nailed to the cross in verses 14 and 15, verses 16 and 17 would read, “Let no man therefore judge you in baptism, or in feet-washing, or in the communion supper.” But no mention is made of anything pertaining to the New Testament. Every thought contained in either the text or the context proves that the apostle had exclusive reference to the law of Moses.
Heb. 9:10 is also used in a wrested manner by ordinance-fighters, against the New Testament ordinances. The language of Scripture itself so clearly explains this text, that little more is needed by way of commentation than the mere insertion of a few verses of the context. We will insert verses 8-11.
“The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.” Heb. 9:8-11.
“The time of reformation” mentioned in verse 10 was the coming of Christ and the ushering in of the gospel dispensation.
This “which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances,” mentioned in verse 10, is the “first tabernacle” mentioned in verse 8. The first tabernacle was the one Moses pitched in the wilderness, which pertained to the first covenant, or Old Testament. Verse 1. So it is very clearly to be seen that the ordinances mentioned were those which belonged to the service of the tabernacle under the Old Testament.
The first tabernacle is styled “a figure for the time then present,” in verse 9. By this is meant that it was a figure, or type, of the greater and more perfect tabernacle (the Church of God) pitched by the Lord Jesus Christ. See verse 11 and chapter 8:2. The entire law system was one of types and shadows, which met their fulfillment in the setting up of the New Testament system. And while the Old Testament and its ordinances were being taken away, the New Testament and its ordinances were being set up.
Col. 2:20 is also sometimes resorted to by ordinance-fighters, which we might justly pronounce their last resort. I am sure the text, together with the two succeeding verses, explains itself. Let us quote them. “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using), after the commandments and doctrines of men?”
The reader will observe that the sentence is not completed in the twentieth verse, and as the twenty-first and a part of the twenty-second verse is in parenthesis, we must read the parenthesis to find the end of the sentence. We can find no proper end of the sentence until we reach the interrogation point at the end of the twenty-second verse. Dropping out the parenthesis, for the sake of connecting both ends of the sentence, the question reads “Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to the ordinances, after the commandments and doctrines of men?”
The reader will quickly comprehend that this makes no reference to ordinances enjoined by the Lord, but to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men; that is, such ordinances as are gotten up by men.
When the New Testament Came into Force
“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Heb. 9:15-17.
The apostle here shows that as the will of a man comes into force at his death, so the New Testament came into force at the death of the Saviour. This is the same date at which the Old Testament was abolished, as we have seen in the preceding chapter.
The claim of ordinance-fighters that baptism, feetwashing, and the Lord’s supper are not to be observed in the new dispensation, because they were instituted under the Old Testament, and before the New Testament came into force is a very weak argument, because the whole New Testament system was, and of necessity had to be, introduced before the death of the Saviour. As we have seen before, the New Testament came into force at the death of Christ, in the same sense that a man’s will comes into force at his death, and it would hardly be proper to say an addition to a will would be legal after the testator’s death.
Mark shows that the introduction of the New Testament commenced with the baptism of John. The following are his words: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Mark 1:1-4.
Jesus also taught, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached.” Luke 16:16.
Taking all the aforesaid thoughts into consideration, we are enabled to see that the doctrine of the New Testament was introduced between the time when John began to cry in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and the crucifixion of Christ. As the ordinances of baptism, feet-washing, and the Lord’s supper were instituted during that time, they are of the New Testament.
The Three New Testament Ordinances
Water baptism is one of the ordinances of the New Testament, and not, as some affirm, of the Old. We find no trace of it, as practiced by Christians, in the Old Testament. There is no inspired proof of its existence earlier than John the Baptist; with whose preaching, as we have seen in the previous chapter, begins the introduction of the gospel.
But concerning John’s baptism, was it from heaven, or of men? Matt. 21:25. It was not of his own invention, because John testified that some one had sent him to baptize. John 1:33. From whom did John receive his commission? “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” John 1:6.
The baptism of John was approved by all the persons in the godhead. It was approved by Christ when he received baptism at the prophet’s hands. It was approved by the Holy Ghost when he descended upon the Saviour at the time of his baptism, in the visible form of a dove. It was approved by the Father when he spoke concerning his Son on the occasion of his baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
But Jesus did not only approve the baptism of John, he was himself the institutor of a baptism now known as Christian baptism, which, though not differing from the baptism of John with respect to its mode, is administered for a different purpose. We read of Jesus administering baptism in John 3:22. He did not baptize with his own hands, but by proxy. “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples).” John 4:1, 2.
While the law of Moses was still standing, baptism, as well as all other principles of the doctrine of Christ, was taught and administered unto Jews only. If, therefore, baptism had been, as the ordinance-fighters affirm, abolished at the death of Christ, no Gentile would ever have received it.
But ordinance-fighters are mistaken. We find Jesus forty days after his resurrection, upon the mount of Olives just before his ascension, commissioning his ministers to preach and administer baptism unto all nations. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” Matt. 28:19. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Mark 16:15, 16.
Opposers of the ordinances are often heard saying that the baptism Jesus commissioned his ministers to administer to all nations is spirit baptism. This must be considered an error, for three reasons.
1. There is nothing in the contexts to show that the word “baptize” is used in a metaphoric sense, and in such cases it must always be taken in a literal sense.
2. It is to be administered by men, and men cannot baptize with the Holy Spirit. Holy men can pray for, and lay their hands upon, and exercise faith for those who are seeking, but God only can impart the Holy Ghost.
3. The apostles understood the commission in a literal sense, because we see them throughout the book of Acts continuing to preach and practice water baptism.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter taught baptism, as follows: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38.
That he here enjoined water baptism, is evident from the fact that he makes a distinction between baptism and the reception of the Holy Ghost. In obedience to Peter’s teaching, the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost proceeded at once to be baptized. It was water baptism that those converts received on that day, because they did not receive the Holy Ghost until a later date. See Acts 4:31.
After the persecution had driven nearly all the members of the church from Jerusalem, we read that “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” Acts 8:5.
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Vs. 12.
The baptism they received at the hands of Philip was of water, because the language immediately following shows that they had not received the Holy Ghost. “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.” Verses 14-17.
No man of candor can fail to see in the above, that the Samaritans received water baptism. They were converted and baptized in a meeting held by Philip, and received the Holy Ghost in a meeting held by Peter and John.
Surely none can deny that the eunuch was baptized in the water. The words of Scripture are sufficient to settle this point. “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 thine 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 8:36-39.
It is also very evident that water baptism was administered in the case of Paul. For after Ananias had laid his hands on Paul for the reception of the Holy Ghost, he commanded him to arise and be baptized (Acts 9:17, 22:16). And we read of him, that “he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” Acts 9:18.
As his baptism took place subsequent to his reception of the Holy Ghost, how could we draw any other sensible conclusion than that it was a baptism by water?
The next instance of the teaching of water baptism in the inspired records, we find in the tenth chapter of Acts. It is best set forth in the words of Scripture itself.
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 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.” Verses 44-48.
That Peter here taught water baptism to Cornelius and his household is too clear to be denied by any one. They had received the Holy Ghost after which Peter asked, “Can any man forbid water,” etc., and then he commanded them to be baptized.
But the ordinance-fighters claim that about this time Peter received different light, by which he saw that previous to this time he had been in error on the ordinance question, and that after this date he ceased to teach and administer water baptism. This they gather from his words before the church at Jerusalem, when they held him at fault for preaching unto the Gentile household of Cornelius. The following are the words they thus wrest: “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I, that I could withstand God?” Acts 11:16, 17.
These words the antiordinance people regard as Peter’s confession that he had done wrong in teaching Cornelius and his household to be baptized, when nothing of the kind is hinted at.
In the first place let it be remembered that Peter was not faulted by the church for teaching Cornelius to be baptized, but as Cornelius was a Gentile, they faulted him, saying, “Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” Ver. 3. At that date the church in general had not learned that Gentiles as well as the Jews were entitled to salvation. This is more clearly set forth in verse 19 – “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” Thinking, as the above clearly shows, that none but Jews were to be saved, they thought Peter had committed an offense when he carried the gospel to Cornelius.
In defense of what he had done, Peter related to them how God had showed him with the vision of the sheet knit at the four corners that Gentiles as well as Jews were entitled to salvation (verses 4-10); and how God had commanded him to go and preach the gospel to Cornelius (verse 12); and how an angel had appeared to Cornelius, and commanded him to send for Peter. Ver. 13. Then he told how, while he was preaching to Cornelius’ household, God poured out the Holy Ghost upon them. Ver. 17. After that he asks, “What was I, that I could withstand God?” Not intending by these words to convey the idea that he had withstood God when he had commanded Cornelius and his household to be baptized; but that he would have withstood God, had he refused to preach the gospel to that Gentile family.
Verse 18 shows that Peter’s defense satisfied his accusers, and is further proof that the point in question was not water baptism, but the salvation of the Gentiles.
“When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Ver. 18.
Neither do Peter’s words in verse 16, “Then remembered I the word of the Lord,” etc., show, as they affirm, that Peter on that occasion found out that he had been wrong in teaching baptism, for immediately after these words came to his mind, which was at the time the Holy Ghost fell upon Cornelius and his household (Read carefully verses 15, 16), he commanded them to be baptized in water (Acts 10:44-48).
Another point worthy of mentioning here is, that nineteen years after these words of the Lord came into Peter’s mind, in his first general epistle, he teaches water baptism to be an essential ordinance of the New Testament. See I Pet. 3:21. So it is very evident that Peter never received any new light on the subject of baptism, causing him to turn antiordinance. But evidences from every direction prove the Quaker theories false.
We will cite one more instance of the administration of water baptism. We read of twelve brethren at Ephesus who were converted and baptized by Apollos, a disciple of John. Acts 18:24-28; 19:3, 7. Apollos at that time knew nothing of the coming of the Saviour, because we read of him, that he knew “only the baptism of John.” Acts 18:25.
After Apollos had closed his meeting and had left Ephesus, “Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples [They were those twelve converts of Apollos], he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” Acts 19:1-6.
The foregoing language shows clearly that the twelve Ephesians had been baptized unto John’s baptism, but now they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; that is, received Christian baptism, and apart from both these baptisms, when Paul laid his hands upon them they received the Holy Ghost. Surely none would deny that water baptism was applied in their case.
We sometimes hear ordinance-opposers say, “Water baptism is of John, therefore, properly ended with John’s mission.” We will admit that John’s baptism did end with his mission. But the fact that the Ephesians were rebaptized under Paul’s instructions, and perhaps by his own hands, when they heard his explanation of the difference between John’s baptism and Christian baptism, proves that the renowned apostle himself understood that there was a water baptism that did not begin and end with John the Baptist.
Ordinance-fighters make a great hobby of Paul’s words in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. But, as with other Scriptures, they place a different construction upon them from that intended by Paul. Surely it would not be sensible to conclude that this great apostle taught against baptism in his first epistle to the Corinthians, when his Roman epistle, written a year later, clearly sets forth baptism as a Christian ordinance. See Rom. 6:4. Paul did not say, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius (1 Cor. 1:14)” because he had received new light on the subject of baptism, but he himself assigns his reason for so saying, with his very next breath: “Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.” Ver. 15.
His words, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (verse 17), prove nothing in favor of the antiordinance heresy. If he was not sent to administer baptism, he was sent to preach the gospel, and was therefore sent to preach baptism, for baptism is a part of the gospel. If he had never baptized a single individual by his own hands, yet preached baptism, the arguments still lie on the side of baptism. But Paul testifies in the contest that he did baptize Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. This proves that, though he was not especially sent to baptize, whenever there were no other brethren present to administer baptism, he did the work himself. So in this, as in all other instances, the Quaker theory fades into oblivion.
Heb. 6:1, 2 is also used by antiordinance people against the doctrine of baptism. The text reads as follows: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”
By carefully studying these verses in connection with the last three verses of the previous chapter, we clearly see that Paul classes the doctrine of baptism with the first principles of the doctrine of Christ; but no more so than repentance, faith toward God, resurrection of the dead, and the eternal judgment. If therefore Paul is to be understood to teach against baptism in Heb. 6:1, 2 then also we are to understand him to teach against the resurrection of the dead, the laying on of hands, and the general judgment; and also repentance and faith toward God. This would make him a rank infidel. Surely ordinance-fighters have not fully analyzed this twist of the inspired writings before they advanced it.
Observe also that Paul tells the Hebrews, “Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” Heb. 5:12. So Paul thought it was necessary that the Hebrew brethren have the doctrine of baptism with the other Christian doctrines mentioned above, taught to them again. This does not sound very much like a refutation of baptism. Nay, it establishes it more and more as a Christian ordinance.
The true teaching of Paul unto the Hebrews, in the texts cited above, might be summed up as follows: The Hebrew brethren had been converted, but had not gone on unto perfection; that is, had not been sanctified (Heb. 10:14). Paul urges them to “go on unto perfection.” It appears also that they had to some extent strayed away from the doctrine of baptism, and the other very essential doctrines of Christianity, hence it became necessary that these doctrines be taught them again. How any man can see in this the least argument against water baptism is a mystery to me.
We believe that we have now produced abundant evidence to convince any teachable person that baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, and we leave the subject with you in the fear of God.
The word “communion” is applied by the apostle Paul to an ordinance of the New Testament which was instituted by the Saviour the night of his apprehension, which ordinance is also denominated, “The Lord’s Supper.” The following are Paul’s words: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” I Cor. 10:16. Nothing is more evident than that Paul here refers to the observance by the apostolic church of the very commemorative ordinance instituted by our Lord the night he was betrayed by Judas, of which he says they all partook. Verse 17.
The account of the institution of this ordinance has been handed down to us by four of the inspired writers – Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Cor. 11:23-29. Matthew was an eye witness. Mark and Luke were apostolic men; hence, received the account from the apostles. Paul testifies that he had received his information from the Lord. They all agree as to the constituents and design of the institution. They tell us that Jesus instituted it of the product of the field, and the fruit of the vine, and that it is a monument erected in remembrance of his death.
Ordinance-fighters argue concerning the communion supper as they do concerning baptism, that, inasmuch as it was instituted before the Saviour’s death, which abolished the Old Testament and brought the New Testament into force, it was of the Old Testament and ended with it. We have shown in a previous chapter that with the same argument we could as successfully argue the abolition of the entire New Testament, for while it was not committed to writing, it was all introduced before the Lord’s death; and now we will proceed to show the foolishness of the argument in reference to the ordinance under consideration.
This ordinance, as we have seen, was to be observed in remembrance of the Lord’s death. How then say the Quakers that it belonged to that dispensation which was brought to an end with that event? Can an event be commemorated before it transpires? If the communion supper was abolished at Christ’s death, the New Testament is mistaken in its teaching that it was intended by the Saviour to be observed in remembrance of his death.
Our Quaker friends may pause when they come to this point and ask, “Can it be clearly proved by Scripture that the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine were intended by our Lord as a commemoration of his death?” To answer this question we have but to call the reader’s attention to the commandment of the Lord with which he enjoined this ordinance upon us – “This do in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19. – What particular event in his life did Jesus mean the communion supper should commemorate? “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Cor. 11:26. Mark well the words: “till he come,” which show that this ordinance is to be observed right up to the very second coming of Christ.
If the Quaker theory be true, this text should read: “As often as they ate that bread, and drank that cup, they did show the Lord’s death till he died.” A Quaker Bible would contain some strange readings.
Again, if the theory of antiordinancism is correct, this ordinance was abolished no later than twenty hours after it had been instituted, and the apostles had not a single opportunity of obeying the commandment, “This do in remembrance of me.” Surely Quakerism is a mass of confusion.
The most substantial argument which we can offer to prove the communion supper of the new dispensation, is the very words Jesus uttered on the occasion of its institution. These words have been carefully penned down by all of the four inspired writers who have left us a record of the event. The following are their respective accounts.
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matt. 26:28.
“And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” Mark 14:24.
“This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:20.
“This cup is the new testament in my blood.” 1 Cor. 11:25.
Is it reasonable that we should believe the ordinance-fighters’ saying that the communion supper is of the Old Testament, when the Word of God four times tells us it is of the New Testament?
We will now proceed to the consideration of another antiordinance dodge. After they have been driven by the multiplicity of scriptural evidences, to the admission of the fact that Jesus instituted the communion supper for, and enjoined it upon New Testament saints, we often hear them assert that it is to be observed only in a spiritual sense. Then they fly to some passages of Scripture teaching a spiritual feast, promised by Christ to his faithful followers, saying, “These set forth the true supper of the Lord.” The following are among the principle texts thus used by them.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” Rev. 3:20.
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” John 6:53-58.
That these texts teach a sublime spiritual feast to be enjoyed by faithful Christians, is indisputable. But they afford us no proof that there is no literal ordinance called the Lord’s Supper. We should apply such texts as speak of spiritual things, to spiritual things; and such texts as speak of literal thinks to literal things. It is both erroneous and absurd, to attempt to identify Scriptures which speak of literal things, with those which speak of spiritual things.
The Bible student will observe the following clear distinctions between the feast of the foregoing texts and the ordinance instituted by our Lord the night of his betrayal.
1. The one is spiritual, the other literal.
2. The Scriptures which record the spiritual supper will not admit literalizing, while those Scriptures which record the literal supper will not admit spiritualizing.
3. The Scriptures which speak of the spiritual supper are addressed to sinners, while those which speak of the literal supper are addressed to Christians.
4. The spiritual supper is a continuous feast. When we open our heart unto him who stands and knocks at the door, he does not come in as a guest to dine with us and then depart, but he says, “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23. The literal supper is to be eaten at intervals. “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor. 11:25. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup,” etc. Ver. 26.
5. The terms “Lord’s supper” and “communion” are applied to the literal ordinance, but never to the spiritual feast of the soul.
6. Of the literal supper men may partake unworthily (1 Cor. 11:27), but of the spiritual supper none but the worthy can partake (I Cor. 10:21).
Can the communion supper, in any case, be observed in a spiritual manner? No, because the institution of it was literal. A spiritual observance can never be reckoned in obedience to a commandment to imitate a literal exemplification. Had Jesus exemplified in a spiritual manner the communion supper (a thing indeed impossible), it would have been of a spiritual nature and could have been observed only in a spiritual manner. Or if, when he had literally exemplified this ordinance, he had made the statement that he was intending only to teach a spiritual lesson, he would have instituted a spiritual ordinance, and we could, without difficulty, have understood that it was to be spiritually observed. But he gave us no such instructions, but when he administered literal bread and literal wine, he commanded, saying, “This do in remembrance of me,” which commandment can only be obeyed by partaking of literal emblems such as Jesus administered.
The apostolical church believed the communion supper to be a literal institution, because they taught and practiced a literal ordinance. An ordinance meeting held by them is upon record in the New Testament.
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7.
The breaking of bread mentioned above, signifies the observance of the communion supper. Some suppose this text to teach a weekly observance of the ordinances by the apostolic church. But whether this be true or not it is evident that the text proves at least one observance of a literal Lord’s supper, thirty years after the death of Christ, which is abundant proof that the apostles understood Christ’s institution of the communion supper literally.
Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians (A. D. 59), classes the ordinance of communion with the ordinances of the New Testament, which he commanded them to observe. I Cor. 11:2, 23-25.
We believe we have now produced Scriptttres to convince any teachable mind that the literal communion supper is an ordinance instituted by Christ, and we turn our attention to the third ordinance of the New Testament.
We now come to consider the ordinance which has been spurned and scorned by modern professors more than all the rest of the commandments of our Saviour. Many who faithfully labor to refute the false arguments offered by antiordinance people against the Lord’s supper, employ the same antiordinance arguments against the ordinance of feet-washing.
The most prominent religious sects disdain the ordinance-fighter’s argument that the communion supper was of the Old Testament, yet they do not scruple to offer the same antiordinance theory against the observance of the ordinance of feet-washing.
The saying of the Quakers, that the Lord’s supper is to be spiritually observed, they regard as an outrage on the Bible, yet the same proof is among the first objections they raise against literally obeying the Lord’s command to wash one another’s feet.
How inconsistent to raise objections against an argument offered by another against one institution, and employ the same argument yourself against another institution of the same rank.
Many other objections are raised against feet-washing, both by those who reject the ordinances and by those who profess to believe in them. These we will refute in this chapter.
The institutions of the ordinance under consideration is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of John. For the convenience of the reader, we will insert the entire account, dividing it into verses as in the Bible; thus making it possible to find any quotation, hereafter referred to, at a glance.
1. “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4. He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7. Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10. Jesus saith unto him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13. Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
One of the principle objections raised against the ordinance of feet-washing, by those who trample upon this humble ordinance, is that Jesus did not intend the washing of his disciples’ feet by himself as an example to be imitated by us. This false argument is best refuted by Jesus’ own words in verses 14, 15. “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” Do not these words clearly show that Jesus taught feet-washing as a thing to be observed by Christians? The fact that Jesus denominated the washing of his disciples’ feet an example proves it to be intended for imitation, for nothing can be properly called an example that is not intended for imitation. But says one, “These words are not imperative.” It is true that they are not written in the imperative, but in the potential mode, but this is no proof that feet-washing is not obligatory upon Christians, because duties are often set forth in the potential mode in the New Testament.
John says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” I John 4:11.
James says, “Go to now, ye that say, To-day or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy, and sell, and get gain …for that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James 4:13-15.
Paul says, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.” Eph. 5:28.
Everybody acknowledges a duty in each of these verses, yet they are not set forth in the imperative mode, but in the potential, the same as feet-washing. How inconsistent to say “Ye ought to love one another” implies a duty, and “Men ought to love their wives” implies duty, but “Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” implies a nonessential! Such is the dilemma into which men are driven when they endeavor to explain away the ordinance of feet-washing. The fact is, both ought and should always imply obligation. Webster’s Dictionary, discussing these two words, says, “Both words imply obligation…Should may imply merely an obligation of propriety, expediency, etc., ought denotes an obligation of duty.” From this it appears that Jesus, in the institution of the ordinance of feet-washing, made use of two of the strongest words language affords, which words everybody acknowledges to be significative of a duty in every instance where they are used by sacred or profane writers, except where Jesus applied them to feet-washing, in the thirteenth chapter of John. God help all men to become honest enough to acknowledge them significative of a duty in John 13:14, 15 also.
But Jesus not only said concerning feet-washing, “Ye ought,” and “Ye should” do it, but, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Ver. 17. Mark the fact that he uses the plural form of the word thing. This is a proof that he instituted more than one ordinance the night of his apprehension. Besides feet-washing, the communion supper is the only ordinance that sprang into existence that night. As one cannot be denominated “things,” we must place feet-washing among the things to be done by Christians, or we convict the Saviour of the improper use of a word in its plural form. The very construction of the context shows that feet-washing especially is included in the things which Jesus promised to bless us in obeying.
Those, therefore, who reject the ordinance of feetwashing, will fail to receive at least one of the blessings Jesus promised “to them who obey him.” If others will not be persuaded of the truth, I myself feel the safest when I am doing what Jesus says I ought and should do, and shall be blessed if I do.
The next objection raised by those against feet-washing is what might be termed the spiritual dodge. After being driven to admit that Jesus enjoined feet-washing upon us, they begin to argue that it is to be observed in a spiritual manner. But the ordinance of feet-washing, like that of the communion supper, will not admit spiritualization, because it was literally instituted by our Saviour. After he had washed the feet of his disciples (Surely none would deny that he literally washed their feet), he said, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” Had Jesus set some spiritual example, the words, “do as I have done” would have implied a spiritual observance. Or had he, even after he had set a literal example, stated that he meant to teach a spiritual lesson, it would have been plainly understood that this ordinance was to be observed in a spiritual manner. He gave us no such instructions, but after setting a literal example, instructed us to do as he had done, which instructions can only be obeyed by literally washing one another’s feet.
Another argument offered against the observance of feet-washing is that which might be termed the dodge of substitution, which runs about as follows: “I believe I can wash my brother’s feet by doing him some kindness. For instance, if I keep my brother all night, give him his supper and breakfast, and feed his horse, that would be the same as washing his feet.” With equal propriety a man might justify himself in disobeying any other commandment of the New Testament. I might argue that to pray for the poor would be counted the same by the Lord as literally supplying their needs. This is as good doctrine as that presented by those opposing feet-washing, but neither of them will stand the test of the great judgment day.
The doctrine of substitution has no place in the Bible. God always means what he says and says what he means. Concerning feet-washing, Jesus did not say, “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to keep your brother all night, and feed his horses, or do him some other act of kindness,” but, “If I, then your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” This will we cheerfully do, Lord resigning all the glory to thy blessed name forever.
One commentator argues that the words “do as I have done to you” do not imply a literal imitation of the Saviour’s example. Had he said, “Do what I have done,” he argues, “we would have understood that we were literally to wash one another’s feet.” What a foolish argument! Let common sense answer, How could we do what Jesus did? What did Jesus do? He washed the feet of his twelve apostles. This has been a thing impossible ever since the death of the apostles. Jesus could not have enjoined feet-washing upon the Christians of today with the words our opponent suggests. We cannot do what Jesus did, but we can do as he did, by laying aside our garments, and taking a towel, and girding ourself, and pouring water into a basin, and washing somebody’s feet, and wiping them with the towel wherewith we are girded.
Another false claim made by those who reject this ordinance, is that the feet-washing of John 13 was a mere Jewish custom, and belonged to the Old Testament. This idea is as truly false as any of those we have already considered, which the record of the ordinance in question alone, will show. It appears that Peter was struck with amazement when the Lord approached him to wash his feet: and he said, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” Peter was a Jew, and had this been a Jewish ordinance, he would have known all about it. The fact is, Peter had never seen nor heard of such an observance as Jesus was there instituting; hence, his surprise at his Master’s conduct.
The law of Moses gave no commandment for washing feet, except for the priests when they entered into the tabernacle. Ex. 30:19-21; 40:30-32. We can read of people washing their feet in the Old Testament, but not such washing of feet as that instituted by our Saviour. The ancient Jews, like all other clean people of ancient and modem times, washed their feet when they became dirty, without any injunction from the Lord. But this has nothing to do with the ordinance instituted by our Lord.
Do not modern opposers of the ordinance of feet-washing, wash their feet as a custom of cleanliness? They, therefore, practice all the feet-washing recorded of common people among the Jews of the Old Testament, yet none of them will venture to claim they do this in obedience to Jesus’ instructions in the thirteenth chapter of John. So it is very evident that even the ordinance-fighters can see a difference between washing our feet as an act of cleanliness, and washing “one another’s feet” as a New Testament ordinance. In every instance recorded, the individual washed his own feet, just as we do in the modern custom of cleanliness. See Gen. 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Ex. 30:19, 21; 40:31; 2 Sam. 11:8. This is another evidence that the ordinance of washing one another’s feet is different from anything known to the people of the Old Testament. So their 0ld Testament argument also falls into oblivion.
We will now conclude this chapter with a consideration of this important question, Did the apostolic church practice the ordinance of feet-washing? It is a common thing to hear ordinance-fighters affirm that they did not, but ancient records speak differently.
Paul, in his instructions to Timothy concerning the number of those to be financially maintained by the church, says, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” 1 Tim. 5:9, 10.
It is evident that the apostle does not in this Scripture refer to the washing of our feet as a custom of cleanliness because he does not say if she have washed her feet, but “if she have washed the saints’ feet,” which shows that he referred to the ordinance instituted by the Saviour. And the fact that he makes it a test of faithfulness to God proves that it was practiced by the church of his day.
Some object to this as a proof text because Paul here only calls feet-washing a good work, and not an ordinance. This is a very foolish argument, for what does it matter to us whether it is an ordinance or a good work. Either proves it obligatory upon us. Surely the Bible does not release us from obedience to a commandment by calling it a good work.
But let us see if we cannot find feet-washing elsewhere in the New Testament styled an ordinance. “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you.” I Cor. 11:2. The apostle here praises the Corinthian church for keeping “ordinances” (plural). This is evident that he had reference to more than one ordinance. The communion supper is the only ordinance he mentions. What other ordinance, therefore, shall we number with it to form the plurality? Those who reject feet-washing would doubtless answer, baptism. But baptism could hardly be ranked with the communion supper as an ordinance of the class described by the language employed by Paul. It would hardly be proper to say, I praise you, brethren, that ye keep baptism as I delivered it unto you, because such language is applicable only to such ordinances as are to be observed at intervals. Baptism is not of such a nature, but after it has been administered once, it is intended that the applicant live true to God forever, that it need never be repeated. Therefore, as the very nature of the ordinance of baptism prevents our including it with the ordinances mentioned in this text, what other New Testament commandment except feetwashing could be classed with the communion supper to form the plurality – “ordinances” – of which the apostle speaks? So we rightly conclude that feet-washing is denominated an ordinance in the word of God, that it was taught by Paul to the Corinthian church, and that it was observed by them according to his instructions. Surely further scriptural evidence is not needed to convince teachable individuals that the apostolic church observed the ordinance of feet-washing.
It is the common belief today that the voice of ancient church history is silent upon the subject of feet-washing. Modern historians pass over it in silence, as though it found no part of Christianity, but the church fathers make occasional reference to it in such terms as will warrant the belief that the church universally continued the observance of this ordinance for several hundred years after our Saviour’s ascension.
Tertullian, who wrote near the close of the second century, speaks of feet-washing as though it was a common practice among the saints of his time. “Tertullian urges it as one strong objection to the marriage of a Christian woman with an unbeliever, that she could…not wash the feet of the saints, nor offer to them either food or drink, but must if she would honor them, conceal them in the house of another, because of her husband’s unwillingness to gratify her in this particular.” —Ancient Christianity Exemplified, by Lyman Coleman.
Like the apostle Paul, Tertullian classes feet-washing with the regular duties of Christians. He brings forth nowhere in his extensive writings, any arguments to substantiate the ordinance of feet-washing. Is this not proof that down to his times this ordinance was never impugned? If feet-washing were not in his day a common practice, to make it as he does, a Christian duty, would have called for at least some proof to establish its orthodoxy. As nothing of the kind is employed, could we but conclude that all understood it to be a regular Christian duty which could have been so looked upon, only by its being in actual practice among the Christians of that day?
We will next call the reader’s attention to the writings of Chrysostom and Augustine.
Homily on St. John, No. 71, which is but a comment on the 13th chapter of John.
“Ver. 14, 15. ‘If I then,’ he saith, ‘your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.’
“And yet it is not the same thing, for he is Lord and Master, but ye are fellow-servants one of another. What meaneth then the ‘as’? ‘With the same zeal.’ For on this account he taketh instances from greater actions that we may, if so be, perform the less. Thus schoolmasters write the letters for children very beautifully, that they may come to imitate them, though but in an inferior manner. Where now are they who spit on their fellow-servants? Where now they who demand honors? Christ washed the feet of the traitor, the sacrilegious, the thief, and that close to the time of the betrayal, and incurable as he was, made him a partaker of his table; and art thou highminded, and dost thou draw up thine eyebrows? ‘Let us then wash one another’s feet,’ saith some, ‘then we must wash those of our domestics.’ And what great thing if we do wash even those of our domestics? In our case ‘slave’ and ‘free’ is a difference of words, but there, an actual reality. For by nature he was Lord and we servants, yet even he refused not at this time to do. But now it is matter for contentment if we do not treat free men as bondsmen, as slaves bought with money. And what shall we say in that day, if after receiving proofs of such forbearance, we ourselves do not imitate them at all, but take the contrary part, being in diametrical opposition, lifted up, and not discharging the debt? For God hath made us debtors one to another having first so done himself, and hath made us debtors of a less amount. For he was our Lord, but we do it, if we do it at all, to our fellow-servants, a thing which he himself implied by saying, ‘If I then your Lord and Master – so also do ye.’ It would indeed naturally have followed to say, ‘How much more should ye servants,’ but he left this to the conscience of the hearers.
“…And he mentioned not the greater action, that ‘if I have washed the feet of the traitor, what great matter if ye one another’s?’ but having exemplified this by deeds, he then left it to the judgment of the spectators. Therefore he said, ‘Whosoever shall do and teach, the same shall be called great’ (Matt. 5:19); for this is ‘to teach’ a thing, actually to do it…’
“Ver. 16-18, ‘Verily I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all – but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.’
“What he said before, this he saith here also, to shame them, ‘For if the servant is not greater than his master, nor he that is sent greater than him that sent him, and these things have been done by me, much more ought they to be done by you.’ Then, lest any one should say, ‘Why now sayest thou these things? Do we not already know them?’ He addeth this very thing, ‘I speak not to you as not knowing, but that by your actions ye may show forth the things spoken of.’ For ‘to know’ belongeth to all, but ‘to do,’ not to all. On this account he said, ‘Blessed are ye if ye do them’ and on this account I continually and ever say the same to you, although ye know it, that I may set you on the work. Since even Jews ‘know,’ but yet they are not ‘blessed,’ for they do not what they know.”
Comment on John 13:14 Homily 58.
“‘If I then,’ he says, ‘your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.’ This, blessed Peter, is what thou didst not know when thou wert not allowing it to be done. This is what he promised to let thee know afterwards, when thy Master and thy Lord terrified thee into submission and washed thy feet. We have learned, brethren, humility from the Highest; let us, as humble, do to one another what he, the Highest, did in his humility. Great is the commendation we have here of humility: and brethren do this to one another in turn, even in the visible act itself, when they treat one another with hospitality; for the practice of such humility is generally prevalent, and finds expression in the very deed that makes it discernible. And hence the apostle, when he would commend the well-deserving widow, says, ‘if she is hospitable, if she has washed the saints’ feet.’ And wherever such is not the practice among the saints, what they do not with the hand they do in heart, if they are of the number of those who are addressed in the hymn of the three blessed men, ‘O ye holy and humble of heart, bless ye the Lord.’ But it is far better, and beyond all dispute more accordant with the truth, that it should also be done with the hands; nor should the Christian think it beneath him to do what was done by Christ. For when the body is bent at a brother’s feet, the feeling of such humility is either awakened in the heart itself, or is strengthened if already present.”
Such sentiments at the foregoing, from Chrysostom and Augustine, two of the brightest lights of the fourth century, are proof that feet-washing was practiced in the church down to their times, for it cannot be that such brained expositors of the Word of God would have penned such words, if they did not express the orthodox sentiments of their day.
Neither could they have occupied the place amongst the fathers as orthodox writers, which they have ever occupied, had they indulged in the wild fancies they evidently indulged in, were the ordinance of feet-washing not taught and practiced by the church of their day.
Surely there were more Christians than Chrysostom and Augustine in the fourth century who practiced feetwashing. And if we say they did not practice it, we make them of the class who “say, and do not.”
But we need not conjecture, since Augustine declares in the above concerning the visible act of feet-washing in his day, “The practice of such humility is generally prevalent.” So anti-feet-washers not only make Augustine a hypocrite by saying he did not practice feet-washing, but they make him a liar when they say it was not generally practiced by the church in his day.
The Mode of Baptism
Doubtless no Bible subject has been a greater source of controversy than that we are now bringing into consideration. Some favor sprinkling, others pouring, immersion, triune immersion, etc., while all profess to be governed by the same Bible, to be led by the same Holy Ghost, to be worshiping the same God, to be traveling the same road, to be going to the same heaven. Such a mass of confusion could but disgust any thinking mind, and is productive of nothing short of skepticism in those who are unable to discriminate between true and false Christianity. Can it be that the Bible substantiates so many antagonistic theories? No, the Bible tells there is but one baptism (Eph. 4:4). But which of the baptisms is the one taught in the Bible? To this question we believe we can give an answer that will prove satisfactory to candid and teachable minds.
The true mode of baptism is the definition of that important word. Therefore to say sprinkling is the true mode of baptism is to say that to baptize means to sprinkle. To say triune immersion is orthodox, is to say baptize means to immerse three times, etc. But let us at once appeal to our lexicons for a definition of this word. We will take Webster’s International Dictionary. BAPTISM. “The application of water to a person, as a sacrament or religious ceremony.” No light is imparted by this definition; so we will take the verb form. “BAPTIZE. “To administer the sacrament of baptism to.” Then baptize means to administer baptism, but still it is undefined. One dictionary, however, gives us the following. “BAPTIZE. “To administer baptism to by sprinkling or immersion.” If we accept this definition, we must admit that both sprinkling and immersion are orthodox baptisms.
But is there any reason why we might doubt this definition? Yes, because many of the definitions in our dictionaries are created by usage. By this we mean that scholars, when compiling our dictionaries, give as definitions of each word, all its applications amongst the people. And when an improper application of a word becomes common it is placed in the dictionaries and becomes thus a proper definition. This will do very well for common use, but when a duty to God depends upon the definition of a word, we do not feel like letting it rest upon any uncertainties, but rather like going back to the words originally used by the Lord when he gave the commandment, and finding out what those words meant to the people of that day. Then we will understand clearly the nature of the work God requires us to do. This we can easily do, because we still have the New Testament in Greek, which is the language in which it was originally written.
“Baptisma” is the word always used for baptism in the Greek Testament. “Baptizo” is its verb form. The reader will observe that the words used in our standard English version are but anglicized forms of these same Greek words. So it is proper that we should appeal to the Greek lexicons for their definitions.
BAPTIZO. “To dip in or under water.” —Liddell and Scott. Liddell and Scott’s lexicon is the standard Greek lexicon amongst English-speaking people, both for classic and Bible Greek. However, to give more force to the definition of this important word, we will insert other authorities. Having before us an excellent collection of testimonies from lexicographers of profound scholarship, in Winebrenner’s book “Doctrinal and Practical Sermons,” we’ take liberty to insert them.
“SCAPULA, a learned foreign lexicographer of the sixteenth century, says, ‘Bapto and baptizo – to dip, to immerse; also to wash, to dye, because these are done by immersion.’
“ROBERTSON, of the seventeenth century, defines baptizo by the words ‘mergo and lavo’ (Latin), meaning in English, to immerse, to wash.
“SCHLEUSNER, a learned and distinguished German lexicographer, says, ‘These words, bapto and baptizo, signify, 1. To immerse, to dip in water; 2. To wash, or cleanse by water, because for the most part, a thing must be dipped into water that it may be washed.’
“PARKHURST says, ‘Baptizo first and primarily means to dip, to immerse, to plunge in water.’
“DONNEGAN defines baptizo to mean ‘to immerse, to submerge, to saturate.’
“STOKINS, another master critic and great linguist, says, ‘Baptizo properly means to dip, to immerse in water.’”
The Voice of Scholars, Theologians and Commentators
LUTHER. “The term baptism is a Greek word. It may be rendered a dipping, as when we dip something in water, that it may be entirely covered.” —As quoted by Winebrenner. “Luther, acknowledging baptism to be immersion, says, ‘So Paul explains it (Rom. 6.) * On this account, I could wish that such as are to be baptized should be completely immersed into water according to the meanlng of the word, and signification of the ordinance; as also without doubt it was instituted by Christ.’” —Bible Baptisma, by McDonald.
CALVIN. “…it is evident that the term baptize means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive church.” —Institutes, Book IV. Chap. 15, Sec. 19.
THOS CHALMERS. “The original meaning of the word “baptism” is immersion.” —Lecture on Rom. 6:4.
BEZA, Calvin’s successor. “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.” —As quoted by Winebrenner.
GILL. “This word in its first and primary sense signifies to dip, or plunge into, and so it is rendered by our best lexicographers, mergo, immergo, to dip, or to plunge into. And in a secondary consequential sense, abbuo, lavo, to wash, is used, because what is washed is dipped, there being no proper washing but by dipping.” —As quoted by Winebrenner.
PROF. C. ANTHON, of New York. “There is no authority whatever, for the singular remark made by Rev. Dr. Spring, relative to the force of baptizo. The primary meaning of the word is to dip, or immerse, and its secondary meanings, if ever it had any, all refer, in some way or other, to the same leading idea. Sprinkling, etc., are entirely out of the question.” —As quoted by Winebrenner.
GEORGE 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 immersion. It is always construed suitably to this meaning.” —Note on Matt. 3:11.
PROF. STUART, of Andover Theological Seminary. “Bapto and baptizo mean to dip, plunge, or immerse into any liquid. All lexicographers and critics of any note, are agreed in this.” —As quoted by Winebrenner.
AUGUSTI, Vol. V. p. 5. “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.’’
BRENNER. “The word corresponds in signification with the German word, taufen, to sink into the deep.”
BRETSCHNEIDER, in his Theology of 1828, Vol. II. pp. 673, 681. “An entire immersion belongs to the nature of baptism.” “This is the meaning of the word.”
PAULLUS, in his Com., Vol. I p. 278. “The word baptize signifies in Greek, sometimes to immerse, sometimes to submerge.”
RHEINHARD. Ethics, V. p. 79. “In sprinkling, the symbolical meaning of the ordinance is wholly lost.”
SCHOLZ, on Matt. 3:6. “Baptism consists in the immersion of the whole body in water.”
BRETSCHNEIDER. “In the words baptizo and baptisma is contained the idea of a complete immersion under water; at least so is baptisma in the New Testament.”
DR. CHADMERS on the sixth chapter of Romans. “The original meaning of the word baptism is immersion.”
The last thirteen testimonies are from Hinton’s “History of Baptism.” He represents them as pedo-baptists. So they were men who belonged to sects who are opposed to immersion as a mode of baptism.
WILSON, Emphatic Diaglott. “Bapto occurs three times [in the New Testament], Luke 16:24; John 13:26; Rev. 19:13, and is always translated dip in the common version. Baptizo occurs seventy-nine times. Of these, seventy-seven times it is not translated at all, but transferred, and twice, viz., Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38, it is translated wash, without regard to the manner in which it was done. All lexicographers translate it by the word immerse, dip, or plunge; not one by sprinkle or pour. No translator has ever ventured to render these words by sprinkle or pour in any version.”
To the above list of testimonies might be added the translators who render baptizo immerse throughout the New Testament. Rotherham; H. T. Anderson; Bible Union; Campbell, Doddridge & Macknight; Wilson and others always translate it immerse. All other English translators, like the standard version, leave the word untranslated.
Having now clearly shown from the testimonies of many of the greatest scholars of the world, that baptizo, the original word for baptize, and its relative terms, mean to immerse only, it is evident that immersion is the mode of baptism taught by our Saviour and practiced by his apostles.
This fact would be fully comprehended by every English reader, had our standard translators given us the Bible throughout in radical English. By radical English, we mean such words as may be defined within the bounds of our own language. Baptize would be a radical English word, had its definition been transferred with the word itself from the Greek language. And we should have no occasion to fault our scholars, had they done this. But to transfer a word, as they have in the case of baptism, from a dead language, and give it a different definition, is not the proper way to handle the book upon which hangs the eternal destiny of every human soul, and it is shouldering a responsibility that we should not wish to carry in that day to come.
But that immersion is the mode of baptism that was practiced in Bible times may be proved satisfactorily to any candid mind without reference to the definition of the word baptize, by a careful consideration of the construction of the texts in which it is found.
In no instance is it recorded that they brought the water to the applicant, but they always went to the water to administer baptism.
“John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.” John 3:23. See also Matt. 3:6, 13; Mark 1:5, 9; Acts 8:36.
They went down into the water, both the minister and the applicant.
“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.” Acts 8:38.
They were buried in baptism. That is, they were immersed.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death.” Rom. 6:4.
“Buried with him in baptism…” Col. 2:12.
They came up out of the water.
“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.” Acts 8:39.
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.” Matt. 3:16.
Surely no thinking man can fail to be convinced by these texts that the apostolic church practiced immersion. And as the New Testament gives no account of the practice of any other mode of baptism, what is wanting to convince any teachable individual that the early church practiced immersion only? Can it be that the apostles practiced a mode of baptism that has not been recorded in the sacred volume? If we are to credit the sublime truth, universally acknowledged by the nominal Christian world, exclusive of Romanism, that “the Bible contains all things essential to life and godliness,” we need not search after further apology for our faith that immersion only is baptism.
Sprinkling and Pouring
Neither sprinkling nor pouring can be baptism, unless, as we stated in the previous chapter, they are proper definitions of that important word. If the true sense of the word baptize is perfectly conveyed in the English words sprinkle and pour, then both these words are synonymous with the word baptize.
The best way to test a synonym, is to substitute it for the word it is said to be synonymous with, and see what kind of sense it makes.
“Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the regions round about Jordan, and were sprinkled of him in Jordan.” Matt. 3:5, 6.
“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was poured of John in Jordan.” Mark 1:9.
“And John also was sprinkling in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were sprinkled.” John 3:23.
If John was sprinkling the people on this occasion, he certainly gave them a thorough sprinkling, for it seems to have required much water.
“Therefore we are buried with him by sprinkling into death.” Rom. 6:4.
“Buried with him in pouring.”
It is useless to proceed further, for we certainly believe the reader is convinced by this time that sprinkle and pour are not synonymous with the word baptize.
Having clearly seen that those who believe in sprinkling or pouring have no argument in the definition of the word baptize, we now proceed to examine the texts of Scripture which they interpret in their favor.
Ezek. 36:25 is frequently used by these aspersionists to substantiate their doctrine. It says, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” That the sprinkling of water mentioned here is to be received in the Christian dispensation is very evident, but it does not signify water baptism, for two reasons:
lst. It was to be applied by the Lord, and he never administered water baptism to anybody except by proxy. John 4:1, 2.
2nd. This sprinkling is to effect a cleansing of the heart from all filthiness, and the New Testament tells us baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” I Pet. 3:21.
The water God promised by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel to sprinkle upon us is the same as that mentioned by our Saviour in John 7:38. “He that believeth on me, as the seripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
“But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should reeeive.” Ver. 39.
The jailer’s baptism is also frequently resorted to to prove the orthodoxy of sprinkling and pouring. In this the sprinklers seem to see a bulwark of argument. In speaking of the jailer’s baptism they are frequently heard to say, “He could not have been immersed, beeause we read that he was baptized the same hour of his conversion, and there was no water suitable to immerse in that might have been reached within one hour.”
There is a slight misrepresentation of the Scriptures in this assertion, for it is not stated that he was baptized the same hour of his conversion. The Word says, “He took them [Paul and Silas] the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” From this it appears that the washing of the apostles’ stripes occurred the same hour of the jailer’s conversion, and the baptism was administered straight way; that is, as soon as it could be accomplished. This would have given the apostles two hours, or three hours to baptize the jailer, if it had required that length of time to reach the water.
But it is very strange that water was so scarce in a great city like Philippi, that they could not find enough to immerse the jailer and his household. Let us examine the Word carefully on this point. Luke says of Paul and his company in Philippi, just before he and Silas were cast into prison: “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.” Acts 16:13. We see by this text that Philippi was situated near a river. The ancient name of this river was Gangites, and its modern name is Gantista. See Encyclopedia Britannica.
In Acts 20:6, we read, “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleaven bread.” So we see the river that flowed by the city of Philippi was navigable for boats. It would be wisdom for the defenders of sprinkling to post themselves a little before they try to preach a waterless city.
It is sometimes affirmed by the advocates of sprinkling that the jailer was baptized in the jail wherein Paul and Silas were imprisoned. But this the inspired narrative itself refutes, for it is clearly stated that the jailer brought them out of the jail unto his own house. And after himself and his entire household had obtained salvation, he took them and washed their stripes. Then with his entire family he received baptism at their hands, after which it says, “And when he had brought them int his house, he set meat before them.” Read verses 29-34.
We now come to another very common argument of those who try to defend sprinkling and pouring; which is based upon Acts 2:41. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Those who favor sprinkling argue that it would have been impossible for the apostles to have immersed three thousand that same day. It is very evident that those who make use of this argument have never made a very accurate calculation upon what they are speaking against, or else they are wanting in candor.
To show the folly of their vain talk, we will calculate on the baptism of the three thousand. We will first find out how many ministers were present on the day of Pentecost. We read that Jesus first ordained twelve apostles (Mark 3:13, 14); after that seventy others. Luke 10:1. One of the twelve made shipwreck (John 13:21-30; 18:1-5; Matt. 27:3-5), but another was ordained in his stead. Acts 1:15-26. So there were in all eighty-two ministers present on the day of Pentecost to assist in the administration of baptism. The usual time required to administer immersion is about three minutes for two persons. At this rate the eighty-two ministers would have immersed 3,280 in one hour. It was nine o’clock when Peter began his sermon. If he preached one hour and a half, he had finished his sermon by half past ten. Supposing they spent half an hour praying with the seekers (We believe that would have been ample time on that powerful occasion.) they could still have been ready to begin the immersing by eleven, and would have finished by noon. It is useless for the defenders of sprinkling to plead insufficiency of water in this instance, for numerous pools were to be found throughout the city. Even had they been compelled to go five miles to find a sufficient place to immerse, they would still have completed the noble work long before the day was ended.
We now come to the Gibraltar of the defenders of aspersion – the phrase, “with water.” This expression is found eight times in the New Testament, and is held by those who believe in sprinkling to express the mode of John’s baptism. Their argument runs about as follows: “The Word says John baptized with water, and if he baptized with water, the water must have been applied to the applicant, and not the applicant to the water. John must therefore have baptized by sprinkling or pouring, and not by immersion.”
This indeed has a show of argument before the uninformed; but a small degree of enlightenment removes the thin veil of argument from around it, and exhibits its falsity. Prepositions in Greek as in English are generally very elastic, therefore no great argument can be founded upon them. The major parts of speech are the more forcible. But the preposition from which with, in the phrase under consideration, is translated, is one of the most uniform and specific of Greek prepositions.
It is en, acknowledged by the unanimous voice of scholars to literally signify in. Even the revisers of our standard version say in the margin opposite Matt. 3:11, its literal rendering is in.
A literal translation of “Ego men baptizo humas en hudati,” in Matt. 3:11, is, “I indeed immerse you in water.”
This rendering may be sustained by other expressions in the common version, which prove that John’s baptism was by immersion. We read that John baptized the people “in Jordan” (Matt. 3:6), “in the river of Jordan” (Mark 1:5), etc. If John baptized his converts in the river, he certainly baptized them in the water, and why should there be further quibbling about it? Our translators gave the preposition its literal signification in the phrases “in Jordan,’’ “in the river,” etc., which comes from the same Greek preposition as with in the phrase “with water” and we are unable to see why in both instances it should not have been rendered in, except that the translators were desirous of withholding the truth for the sake of their creed.
The reader may see from the above that even the prepositions of the Bible are in harmony with the doctrine of immersion, but upon the true meaning of the verb baptizo, which our translators have criminally withheld from the English reader, is to be based the weightier arguments.
We believe we have now brought forth sufficient Scriptures to justify us in saying that the custom of sprinkling for Christian baptism did not begin with Christ and his apostles. The writings of the early fathers show that immersion only, was looked upon as baptism amongst the orthodox Christians for at least two hundred years after the ascension of our Lord.
BARNABAS. “We indeed descend into the water…but come up.” —Ch. XI.
Tertullian in the early part of the third century also clearly states that Christians still continued to practice immersion. In fact the united testimonies of the AnteNicene Fathers show that immersion continued uninterrupted amongst the Christians during that period.
Sprinkling originated among the heretical Gnostics of the second century. Irenaeus gives us the following account of its origin.
“But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned.” —Book 1, Ch. 21.
The earliest case of pouring on record is that of Novatian in the third century. See Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History.
The principle argument advanced by those who advocate trine immersion, is based upon the construction of the commission in Matt. 28:19. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
The repetition of the article in this text is ofttimes said to imply a repetition in the action of the verb. To substantiate this interpretation, trine-immersers sometimes affirm it to be an established rule of the Greek language that, “The repetition of the article signifies a repetition in the action of the verb.” With this alleged Greek rule before them they argue that three immersions are clearly set forth in the commission, because the original Greek says “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” They say, “Had the article not been repeated before Son and Holy Ghost, but one immersion would have been implied.”
But let us put their Greek rule to a test. If we literally translate I Cor. 10:2, it will read, “And all into the Moses were immersed in the cloud and in the sea.”
The article occurs before Moses, and cloud and sea; therefore according to the trine-immerser’s rule we are to understand from this text that the whole nation of Israel on their journey across the sea were baptized by trine immersion – They were baptized once into Moses, once, in the cloud, and once in the sea. This is surely a very strange exposition of this text, but we are only bringing out the force of the trine-immersers’ rule.
We will test this rule a little further. If we translate literally Luke 9:26, it reads as follows: “Who for ever may be ashamed me and the my words, this the Son of the man will be ashamed, when he may come in the glory of himself, and of the Father, and of the holy messengers.”
Here we have the article repeated as in the commission, and if a repetition in the action of the verb is implied we are to understand from this text that Christ is coming three times; once in his own glory, and once in the glory of his Father, and once in the glory of the holy angels. This brings out a ridiculous abuse of our Saviour’s teachings, but it is only carrying out the recently constructed Greek rule of trine-immersers. The reader can certainly see by this time that there is no such rule in the Greek language.
Another weighty argument against trine immersion is that the apostolic church did not understand the commission as do the modern advocates of trine immersion. They did not even understand that the words of Matt. 28:19 were to be used as a formula when they administered baptism. They only used the name of Jesus, when commanding and administering baptism. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts 2:38. “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Acts 10:48. “They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 8:16. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 19:5.
Not in a single instance did the apostle use the trine name as a formula. Now if trine-immersers are bound to believe that to baptize in the name of three persons implies trine immersion, should they not also believe that to baptize in the name of one person only implies single immersion? Their doctrine is opposed to itself upon this point. They are compelled by the force of their own argument to admit that the apostolic church practiced single immersion.
A clear exposition of the doctrine of trine immersion is as follows: We are to be immersed once in the name of the Father, exclusive of the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; once in the name of the Son, exclusive of the name of the Father and of the Holy Ghost; once in the name of the Holy Ghost, exclusive of the name of the Father and of the Son. According to this, two of these immersions are unscriptural, for Paul commands, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Col. 3:17.
If to dodge this point trine-immersers say they do not administer each immersion exclusive of the name of two persons in the trinity, they again attack their own doctrine, and virtually admit that they are practicing three perfect single immersions.
The fact is, it is impossible to act in the name of one person of the trinity and not in the name of the other two. To act in the name of another is to act with his authority, and how could we act with the authority of one of the persons of the trinity, and not with the authority of the three, for “these three are one”? 1 John 5:7.
If three men are united in a company for the purpose of transacting business, and they send out an agent to transact business for them, he is not sent by one member of the firm but by the three. All his business transactions are performed in the name of the three co-partners. And if the agent should use but one name in some of his transactions he is nevertheless acting with the authority of the three, because the three are united as one, so far as business is concerned. So likewise when the apostles immersed, using only the name of the Lord Jesus, they were baptizing in the name of, or with the authority of, the whole Godhead, because, as we have already seen, “these three are one.”
Trine-immersers have another argument as follows: “A trine-branched tree cannot make a mono shadow. Baptism is a symbol of the trinity, and must therefore be administered by trine immersion, or the symbolical import of the ordinance is destroyed.” This argument they present with a great flourish of defiance against their opposers, but it is false from the ground up. The Bible no place teaches that baptism is a symbol of the trinity. This idea is one of the imaginations of their own hearts. Therefore their whole argument falls to the ground without a single ray of gospel truth to prop it up. And not only so, but their traditional symbol ignores the true Bible symbol in baptism, namely that of a burial. See Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 2:12. The dead are never buried three times.
When driven to their wits’ end by this unanswerable argument, trine-immersers ofttimes ask, “What about those who have been cremated?” This has nothing whatever to do with this subject. We do not believe that it can be very successfully proved that Christians have ever practiced cremation. But supposing they had, that would not change the definition of the word bury. Bury would mean just what it does mean, if none of the dead had ever received a Christian burial. Paul does not say we are cremated with Christ by baptism, but he does say, “We are buried with Christ by baptism.” Viewed in the light of any gospel truth, trine immersion appears false and unscriptural.
Trine-immersers also make great boasts that history is on their side. They say they can trace trine immersion to the apostles. But this is as false as their claim of scriptural evidences. The earliest well-authenticated author is Tertullian, who in the early part of the third century, concernlng the administration of baptism says, “To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the gospel.” —From The Crown, Chap. III.
This is nothing in favor of the orthodoxy of trine immersion. Because, while it states that it was practiced in Tertullian’s time, it shows very clearly that Tertullian understood that the gospel demanded a pledge of loyalty to God in single immersion only, because he plainly says that by being thrice immersed they were “making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the gospel.”
Such language seems to convey to our mind the thought that trine immersion was then a newly gotten up invention. It also shows a greater degree of honesty than the modern propagators of the trine-immersion theory exhibit; for they will not, like Tertullian, acknowledge that three dips make an ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the gospel.
But we are not as yet ready to admit that the trine immersion mentioned by Tertullian was practiced by the orthodox body, because Tertullian was a heretic (Montanist) a great part of his life, and his work in “The Crown,” from which we have quoted above, is classed by scholars amongst his Montanistic writings. So by ferreting this matter to the bottom, we find that trine immersion, like the rite of sprinkling, arose amongst the heretics.
The Forward and Backward Actions
Trine-immersers generally hold that apostolic baptism was performed by the forward action. This they attempt to prove by the Word of God. Rom. 6:5 seems to be their strongest text. It reads: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
Trine-immersers hold that this planting in the likeness of the Saviour’s death is water baptism, and as Jesus bowed his head when he gave up the ghost, so we are to bow our heads when we receive baptism. This they hold to be an unanswerable proof of the orthodoxy of the forward action. But if we carefully study this text, it is no great difficulty to see that neither the forward nor the backward action is referred to here.
The words “planted together in the likeness of his death,” are correctly interpreted in the following manner. Jesus taught, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” By these words he meant that as a seed in its germination dies and springs up into a new life, so he must die and come forth from the dead to complete the salvation of the human family. So also must we die to every sinful element within our nature to have a part with our Lord in his kingdom. This dying out takes place within us when we are changed by the saving grace of God, and is called in the New Testament dying to sin. This is the true planting in the likeness to Christ’s death.
To substantiate this interpretation we will again quote the text in question, with what immediately follows. “For if we have been planted in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Ver. 5-7.
Observe how the apostle here identifies the planting “in the likeness of his death” with the freeing of our souls from sin. But let us quote a little further.
“Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Verses 8-11.
Here, as the reader will observe, our spiritual death to sin is very closely associated with the death of Christ, as though the former is the antitype of the latter. Paul commands because we have been planted in the likeness of his death, to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin. All this but substantiates the fact that the planting takes place when our hearts are changed by the grace of God.
Trine immersers believe because the planting under consideration follows closely the mention of water baptism in verse 4, that the planting in the likeness of his death surely has reference to water baptism. But in this conclusion they are again mistaken, because there are two baptisms mentioned in this place. The baptism in verse 4 is water baptism, but that mentioned in verse 3 is a spiritual baptism. Verse 3 reads as follows: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” The baptism mentioned here is spiritual, because it places us into Christ, and Paul in I Cor. 12:13 clearly shows that it is the Spirit that baptizes into Christ. This baptism is also in the text we have just quoted said to be into Christ’s death, which is another proof that it is identical with the planting “in the likeness of his death.” “Therefore [for the reason that we have already been baptized into Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit], we are buried with him by [water] baptism,” etc. So it is very evident that the baptism in water is not to be administered until the applicant has first been planted by the Spirit. Thus the whole argument in favor of the forward action falls defeated by the testimony of divine inspiration.
Trine-immersionists often assert that the backward action was invented since the reformation. But this they come as far from proving as they come short of substantiating the forward action. They quote a few modern authors, but modern authority is worthless except it be based upon ancient evidences. In these times of antichrist rage every deception is backed by somebody’s pen. It is ancient evidence that we want, and there is none in favor of the forward action.
The Bible, while it makes no plain statements concerning the action of baptism, symbolically shows the backward action to be the apostolic mode. We have seen that baptism is set forth by the apostle Paul, as a symbolic burial. As the bodies of the dead are always buried with the face upwards, the apostle surely intended that we should understand from this symbol that in baptism we are to sink backwards beneath the water, and arise by the forward action, having thus made a public pledge to walk in newness of life.
The Object of Baptism
The object of baptism, like its mode, has for some time been a source of much controversy. Formalists, as a rule, believe baptism to be a saving ordinance; that is, they believe it to be an initiation into the kingdom of God and that no one is a true Christian until he has been baptized in water. On the other hand the truly spiritual have ever held baptism to be of no greater importance than all other ordinances and commandments of the New Testament, and that it is conditional of salvation, only as obedience to all the teachings of the gospel are conditional of retaining the grace of God in our souls, after we have received salvation, that we may receive admission into heaven by and by.
There are some texts which, if they be taken apart from the rest of the Bible and interpreted literally, would seem to set forth the idea that we are to receive salvation in the act of being baptized. We desire in this chapter to carefully consider all these texts, and prove by the general voice of the Word of God that they do not teach water baptism to be a saving ordinance.
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Rom. 6:3. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Gal. 3:27. These texts have indeed a show of argument in favor of the theory that we are saved by water baptism, but as the New Testament teaches more than one kind of baptism, we should make thorough investigation before we decide that it is the literal plunging in water that is here referred to. The safest clue to the interpretation of these texts is the fact that the baptism mentioned places the applicant into Christ. Let us therefore search the Word to find out by what baptism we are baptized into Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Cor. 12:13.
In this text it is clearly stated that the baptism which places us into the one body, the church (See Col. 1:24), which is the same as being baptized into Christ, is the work of the Spirit. This is a proof that the baptism “into Christ,” mentioned in the verses quoted above, is not the literal ordinance of water, but that which is administered to the soul in regeneration.
Mark 16:15, 16 is also used to prove baptism a saving ordinance. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
These words surely prove baptism conditional of salvation in some sense. Let us give them a careful analysis, that we may be able to understand this important text. It is here stated that “he that believeth not shall be damned.” “Believeth not” is in the present tense, and “shall be damned’’ is in the future tense. Therefore the damnation here referred to is not received as soon as unbelief is shown, but is to be received at some later time. I believe all will agree with me that the damnation here referred to is to fall upon the unbelievers at the awful judgment day. We will now examine the clause which stands in contradistinction to the one we have just explained.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Here the believing and baptism stand in the present tense, and the salvation is in the future tense. Therefore the salvation of which believing and baptism are here made conditional is not received coincident with out believing and baptism, but at a later date. Baptism is therefore, not set forth in this text as conditional of a present but of a future salvation. The future salvation standing as it does in contradistinction to the damnation which shall fall upon the unbelievers in the final judgment, is surely that which Paul denominates “eternal salvation.” Heb. 5:9. So we have yet no proof that baptism is conditional of the salvation from sin to be received in this life.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:3’8. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16.
These texts are the strongholds of those who hold water baptism to be a saving ordinance. And indeed if they are to be interpreted literally, they will surely substantiate that theory. We are not going to try to twist these texts from the meaning naturally expressed in them, but shall endeavor, by resorting to other Scriptures, to ascertain whether baptism washes away sins in a literal or a spiritual sense. Peter is the author of one of these texts, therefore he will be a good interpreter to resort to. His explanation is as follows: “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 3:19-21.
Peter here states plainly that baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh. According to this we are not to understand those texts in Acts literally. After mentioning the salvation of the eight souls by water, he says, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us.” According to this the salvation of Noah’s family by means of the ark was only figurative. As the ark bore up his body, thus preserving his physical life, so the Spirit of God carried his soul, and preserved his spiritual life. Baptism is a “like figure;” therefore baptism does not save literally, but only in a figure. As the salvation of Noah’s temporal life, so our baptism is a figure of the salvation of our soul by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. As our body is entirely covered by the water in baptism, so our soul is perfectly overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and hidden with Christ in the heart of God. From these facts we see that the expressions “be baptized for the remission of sins” and “be baptized and wash away thy sins” are to be understood to teach that baptism only figuratively, not literally, washes away sins.
It is held by some that Peter’s words in Acts 2:38 teach that baptism is a condition upon which the Holy Ghost is received. They affirm that the order of the commandment, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you” and the promise, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” proves that the Holy Ghost cannot be received until we have first been baptized in water. This is evidently a mistake, because God does not follow this order. We read of some who were baptized before and some who were baptized after they had received the Holy Ghost. While Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his household, who were every one of them unbaptized, we are told, “…The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 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.” Acts 10:44-48. This account of salvation work under Peter’s own labors proves that he did not mean to teach in Acts 2:38 that the Holy Ghost could not be received until after baptism had been administered.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5. Water-salvationists hold this text to be an unanswerable proof that salvation cannot be received without water baptism. But it is certainly wrong to literalize the word water in this text, for two reasons.
1st. It throws us into an unmerciful rigidity of belief that would bar even the penitent thief upon the cross, whom the Saviour so lovingly received, from our confidence and fellowship, and would prevent our faith from holding a poor sinner in his struggle with death up to the throne of grace, because he had not been baptized.
2nd. The water mentioned in this text is one of the agents mentioned which together with the Spirit of God produces spiritual birth, and it is certainly entertaining a mean opinion of our Saviour to hold him guilty of teaching that water possessed power to produce spiritual birth.
Would it not be much more sensible to search the Word to find out whether there is another agent which assists the Holy Spirit in the work of regenerating the heart, and consider the word water a metaphor signifying that agent? But is there such an agent? Yes, we read in 1 Pet. 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” The Word of God is here set forth as a regenerating agent, and it is not hard to believe that it possesses power to beget spiritual life. Would it not, therefore, be reasonable to believe that the water mentioned as a regenerating agent in such close connection with the Spirit, is the Word of God? Beyond doubt this is the true interpretation of this text. So to be born of the water and of the Spirit, is to be born of the Word and of the Spirit.
We believe we have fully considered all the texts offered as proof by those who hold baptism to be a saving ordinance. Now we will proceed to show the true Bible object in baptism. We believe the following Scriptures set this matter before us clearly.
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 3:21.
“Therefore we are buried with him in baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Rom. 6:4.
“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 thine heart, thou mayest, And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:36, 37.
The first of the above texts shows that baptism is a figure of salvation, and an answer of a good conscience. The second makes it a figurative burial and resurrection with Christ, and a pledge to walk in newness of life. The third teaches that baptism is a public confession of faith in Christ. We doubt if any other object in baptism can be substantiated by the Word of God.
Applicants for Baptism
We have seen that baptism is the answer of a good conscience. This is evidence that a good conscience must be obtained before we are proper candidates for baptism. The conscience can only be purged by means of the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14). Therefore, baptism is not to be administered until the blood has first been applied to the heart. We have also seen that baptism is a public confession of faith in Christ. A man is therefore to possess faith in Christ before he presents himself for baptism.
We have also seen that baptism is to represent a burial and resurrection with Christ. This is a proof that we must pass through the moral change of heart known as death to the world, and a resurrection unto a plane of holy living by the grace of God, before we are proper subjects for baptism.
We have also seen that in baptism we pledge ourselves to walk in newness of life, and as it is unreasonable to demand such a vow of a man of unclean lips and sinful nature, it is evident that the heart must first be changed by divine grace before he can be a proper candidate for baptism. All these facts show that baptism is to be administered to saints and not to sinners.
We have now struck a topic which is foreign to the Bible, hence very much calculated to embarrass the writer who desires to stay within the bounds of holy Scripture. The Bible furnishes no account of infant baptism, either as an example or a precept. The Saviour teaches very plainly that all infants shall be saved (Mark 10:14), but he drops no hint that their salvation was predicated upon certain conditions, or that baptism is essential in the case of infants. None of the apostles even speak of infant baptism in any of their writings. We can read of the baptism of both men and women, but not of infants. Acts 8:12. We can read of the baptism of households (Acts 10:16), but there is no mention of any infants in those households. So emphatically, infant baptism has no place in the Word of God. A man, therefore, who will venture to teach infant baptism should be frank enough to confess first of all that it is not a Bible question.
About the only argument worthy of attention, advanced by infant sprinklers, is based upon the supposition that baptism is the antitype of circumcision and ought therefore like circumcision to be administered to infants. But this idea is without a single text of Scripture to back it and is contrary to sound reason. Circumcision was for males only (Gen. 17:10). Therefore baptism, if it stood in its stead, would be intended for males only. Surely those who believe in infant baptism would not endeavor to sustain such an argument. Circumcision was no type of baptism. It was a token of the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:1-10), and is antityped by the inward circumcision of the heart which we have in Christ. Rom. 2:28, 29; Col. 2:11.
Infant baptism should be rejected on the following grounds.
1. Because it is not taught in the Bible and is therefore an invention of men.
2. Baptism is not to be administered until after the applicant has first sought the Lord and found peace to his soul. Therefore it is not to be administered to one who is too young to comprehend repentance, faith, and regeneration, and actually obtain salvation.
These arguments are sufficient to set aside infant baptism in the minds of those who are desirous of accepting the whole truth. A child who is too young to intelligently repent of sins, is too young to be held guilty before God. If such a one die, he will be admitted to eternal life unconditionally, and we need not trouble them with a humanly invented rite.
The brilliant light of the gospel now shining forth in the “evening time” has brought into consideration the subject of rebaptism; and this little volume would not be complete without a few thoughts under this heading. It is held by some that it is wicked and wholly unscriptural under any circumstances to be rebaptized. But this is not the proper stand to take, because the New Testament shows very clearly that the apostles sometimes rebaptized.
In the nineteenth chapter of Acts, we read of the rebaptism of twelve brethren at Ephesus by the hands of Paul. They had formerly received the baptism of John from the hands of Apollos. Paul taught them that John’s baptism, since the appearance of Christ, was invalid, because it was administered in the faith of a Saviour yet to come (See verse 4.) while Christian baptism is administered in the faith of a Saviour who has already appeared. This seems to be the only proof employed by the apostle, and it was sufficient to convince all these twelve Ephesian brethren that a rebaptism in their case was necessary. This circumstance is sufficient to furnish us the argument that persons who have not been baptized by a proper and valid baptism should be rebaptized.
The Bible furnishes established laws regulating baptism, and I am unable to see why God should sanction a baptism that has not been administered according to his divine laws. On the other hand, men have invented a great many laws concerning baptism, of which we can find no account in the Bible, and baptism when administered according to their human-invented laws becomes a human rite and cannot therefore receive the sanction of heaven. The person unto whom such baptism has been administered should be treated as unbaptized.
Among the human laws mentioned above is that which legalizes infant-baptism, which we have before proved unscriptural. A person, therefore, who has received this popish rite, should not deem himself baptized when he has grown to manhood, but should be properly baptized when he has become converted to Christ.
The laws legalizing sprinkling, pouring, and trine immersion as proper modes of baptism, are also of human invention: hence, those who have received such applications of water are yet unbaptized and should accept true Christian baptism.
There is also among some professors the false doctrine that baptism is intended to wash away the condemnation of sin, and many are baptized in that faith, while their hearts are unregenerated. Such baptism is invalid, because baptism is not scriptural and valid when administered to one who has not previously been born of the Spirit. And persons who have received such invalid baptism, though it may have been administered by the true scriptural mode, should be rebaptized.
Another very important point in connection with this subject, is the commission under which the minister administers baptism. No man is scripturally qualified to administer baptism until he is divinely commissioned by the Holy Ghost to preach and baptize. This proof would prove much of the baptism administered by the sectarian ministers invalid, because many of them have never been divinely alone commissioned. In fact, those who are truly sent of God, are not allowed to baptize under the divine commission alone and should one of them administer baptism because God by the Holy Ghost has commissioned him, before he has received a commission from the sect, he is held as an offender. Baptism in sectism is invariably administered under the commission of men; therefore, God’s people should not hesitate to ignore the authority of sectism, when they hear the voice from heaven calling them out of Babylon, by being rebaptized under the divine commission.
But are there any circumstances under which a person who has been in every respect scripturally baptized should be rebaptized? We answer, Yes. If a child of God should fall from the grace of God and renounce his covenant with God by going out into a life of open rebellion against God, he has renounced his baptism, and should he ever return to the Lord, he should be rebaptized. But should a soul lose the grace of God out of his heart without going out into a life of sin, and immediately renew his covenant with God, he has not fully ignored his covenant, and we can see no reason why a rebaptism in such a case is necessary.
The Lord’s Supper
The expression Lord’s supper is found but once in the Bible. Paul uses it as follows: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.” 1 Cor. 11:20.
Just what the apostle here denominates the Lord’s supper, has been somewhat of a controverted point amongst the people. Some hold it to be a full meal, while others hold that it is composed of the emblems of the true ordinance of communion only. This point must be settled by the Word of God. In the first place let it be observed that the apostle in the text quoted above is reproving an improper observance of the Lord’s supper. His words, “This is not to eat the Lord’s supper” imply that the manner in which the Corinthian church ate it, was not a proper eating of the Lord’s supper. At the same time it is to be remembered that he in the same chapter praises them for keeping the ordinances as he had delivered unto them. Ver. 2. If they were keeping the ordinances as Paul had directed them, the improper eating of the Lord’s supper practiced amongst them could not have been a perversion of the proper ordinance instituted by our Saviour, but must have been a substitution of something that does not properly pertain to the Lord’s supper.
This position is verified in verses 20, 21: ”When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before the other his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken.” This text is not intended to describe the proper eating of the Lord’s supper, because there is no eating of our “own supper” before we eat the Lord’s supper required in the Word. It is a description of the disorderly observance of the sacred ordinance among the Corinthians.
The supper eaten before must therefore signify an extra supper eaten by this apostolic church before they partook of the true Lord’s supper, and which they held to be a part of the Lord’s supper. But the apostle tells them, “This is not to eat the Lord’s supper,” and says, “in this I praise you not” (Ver. 22). He then proceeds to show them the true constituents of the Lord’s supper. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” Verses 23-26.
Such is the description given by the apostle of what he in verse 20 denominates the “Lord’s supper,” which he declares he had received from the Lord. No mention is made of anything but the bread and the cup. The Lord’s supper therefore is identical with the communion and includes the bread and wine only.
As a further argument against the full meal, we might insert the words with which Paul rebuked it among the Corinthians. “What! have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” Ver. 22. “And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.” Ver. 34.
These words surely prove that the Lord’s supper is not a full meal, and is not intended to satisfy hunger; for you will observe he says, “If any man hunger, let him eat at home.” And does not this language clearly overthrow the false argument so frequently offered by the propagators of the full-meal theory, that the word supper can only be applied to a full meal?
But we hear the modern Corinthians say, Jesus ate a full meal with his disciples the night of his apprehension. True, but that full meal they ate was not the Lord’s supper, but the Jewish passover.
Some endeavor to prove that it was not the passover that Jesus ate with his disciples, by referring to John 18:28, “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.”
The event here referred to took place the day following the evening upon which Jesus and the twelve apostles ate the supper in question; “Hence,” say the defenders of the full meal, “it could not have been the passover that Jesus ate because this text proves beyond doubt that the time had not yet arrived for the Jews to eat the passover.” This argument is not sound, because the feast of the passover lasted for eight days (See Ex. 12:18-20); therefore the fear of the Jews lest they should be barred from eating the passover through defilement, does not necessarily imply that the time for the eating of the paschal lamb had not arrived, but can be consistently applied to the eating of the remainder of the feast. So we must look elsewhere in the Word to ascertain whether it was or was not the Jewish passover that Jesus ate the night of his betrayal. Nothing is more emphatically stated in the Word than this very thing.
“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.” Mark 14:12-18.
It certainly requires a case of genuine blindness to fail to see in this New Testament record just what constituted the last supper of our Lord. It is here four times styled the passover. The records given in Matt. 26:17-21 and Luke 22:7-15 are the same in substance as that we have quoted from Mark, and why should anyone say the last supper of our Lord was not eaten on the proper day to eat the passover, when the three gospel writers cited above tell us it was eaten on “the first day of unleaven bread, when the passover must be killed”? They also tell us Jesus sent his apostles to make ready the passover, and also that they made ready the passover; and according to Luke’s account Jesus himself while they were eating the supper in question called it the passover. Luke 22:15.
The advocates of the full meal, upon being driven to acknowledge that it was the passover that Jesus ate with his disciples the night of his apprehension, endeavor to dodge the truth by asserting that there are two literal feasts known in the Word as passovers, and that the one Jesus ate with his disciples was not the Jewish passover, but another passover instituted by Christ, which they call the Lord’s supper. This position they endeavor to substantiate with Christ’s words in Luke 22:15– “And he said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” The words “this passover” are held by these full-meal advocates to be a positive proof that the passover Jesus and his twelve apostles ate was not the Jewish passover.
This we regard as a masterpiece of scripture-twisting. The passover was observed once a year and the words “this passover” simply signify the passover that came in the year in which our Saviour was speaking. In the verse immediately following, Jesus speaking of the same passover, says, “I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” According to this language the passover which constituted the last supper, was a thing to be fulfilled; that is, it was a type that should be antityped. This thought alone is sufficient to prove it an ordinance of that great system of types and shadows–the Old Testament.
We have now surely given sufficient proofs that it was the Jewish passover Jesus and the twelve ate the night he instituted the communion supper. There is not a single evidence to be drawn from the inspired records that Christ and the apostles ate any other supper the night of the betrayal, but the passover of the Jews, and the sacred ordinance of communion, afterwards styled by the apostle Paul the Lord’s supper. But supposing he had eaten another supper, there is no reason why it should be imitated, because Christ only enjoined the observance of the communion.
The passover was a lamb of the first year eaten by every family of the Jewish nation on the evening of the 14th day of the first month in every year, except when a lamb was too large for a family, when it was to be divided between two families. See Ex. 12.
It was prepared by roasting it in the fire, and it was in this manner the broth was procured into which Jesus dipped the sop. John 13:26.
The paschal lamb was a type of the crucifixion of Christ the blessed Lamb of God; hence, is not to be observed in the new dispensation, and the only literal supper to be eaten by us as an ordinance, is the sacred communion of the body and blood of the Lord.
The Kind of Bread to be Used for the Lord’s Supper
“The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Cor. 10:16, 17. Wilson’s translation of this text reads as follows: “The loaf which we break, is it not a participation of the body of the Anointed One? Because there is one loaf, we, the many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf.” This text, which Wilson and several other translators translate much better than King James, shows that the bread in its unbroken state represents the spiritual body, or church (Eph. 1:22, 23) of Christ.
Therefore it would not be proper to chop the bread in little pieces or make upon it any marks of division, for this would represent a church and the church of God is not divided. Sectarians invariably use such bread, but this only represents their divided condition. But the church of the living God should use none but the one loaf. Such was used by the apostles, as Paul clearly shows in the text quoted above. The breaking of the loaf in the communion supper represents the breaking of the literal body of Christ, namely, his crucifixion. See 1 Cor. 11:24.
The Kind of Wine to be Used for the Lord’s Supper
The New Testament enjoins no commandment designating the wine of the emblematic cup. Jesus simply denominates it “the fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18), without stating whether it was or was not fermented. But a description of the emblematic wine is not necessary, since the Word of God enjoins total abstinence from fermented wine. “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” Prov. 23:31, 32. To use fermented wine on any occasion, is to disobey the above commandment. How much more wicked to use it in the communion supper, since it there signifies the precious blood of Christ. Sectarians do not scruple to use fermented wine on such occasions; sometimes even buying it at the lager beer saloons. But the church of the living God should use none but the pure, fresh, unfermented juice of the grape.
The Time of the Day the Ordinances of Feet-Washing and Communion Should be Observed
The time of the day names the meal. And as the ordinance of communion is called a supper in the Word of God, it is very easily understood that it can only be properly observed in the evening. The apostolic church observed these ordinances in the evening. Acts 20:7-12. The church never digressed from the true time of the observance of these ordinances during the first century, as will be seen from the following: “At the first communion was enjoined by a love feast [testimony meeting], and was then celebrated in the evening, in memory of the last supper with his disciples. But so early as the second century these exercises were separated, and the communion was placed in the morning, and the love feast in the evening.” From C.M. Butler’s Ecclesiastical History, p. 148.
As God is now leading his people in the “old paths” in which the apostles walked, we, as did they, meet to observe these ordinances in the evening. (Webster: “Evening,’’ the last part of the day and the early part of the night. In some parts of the South, the period from noon through sunset.”)
[Publisher’s Note: We believe ordinances may be observed at any time.]
The Holy Kiss
In the seventh chapter of Luke we read that Jesus reproved a Pharisee who had invited him to take dinner with him, for not giving him a kiss. Ver. 45. Does not this show that Jesus taught and practiced the benevolent kiss? Had it not been a common practice with Christ and his apostles, Judas had not chosen it a sign unto his followers.
The apostles practiced the holy kiss after the day of Pentecost. “And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed.” Acts 20:1. “And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him.” Ver. 37. The holy kiss is five times commanded in the epistles of the New Testament.
“Salute one another with an holy kiss.” Rom. 16:16. “Greet ye one another with a holy kiss.” I Cor. 16:20. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” 2 Cor. 13:12. “Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.” I Thess. 5:26. “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.” 1 Peter 5:14.
These ordinances are not to be practiced promiscuously but as Paul commands “decently and in order.” 1 Cor. 14:40.
The holy kiss was practiced after Bible times. Buffer’s Ecclesiastical History speaks as follows concerning the observance of this commandment in the second period of the church, A. D. 100-312: “The fraternal kiss used on admission to the church and at the Lord’s supper, were not empty forms, but the expression of a true feeling, and of a real experience.” —Page 132. “Of this Justin Martyr gives the following description: ‘After the prayers…we greet one another with the brotherly kiss.’” —Page 146. “The communion was a regular part of the Sunday worship. In many places it was celebrated daily. It began after the dismissal of the catechumens, by the kiss of peace given by men to men and women to women.” —Page 147.
Lifting up of Holy Hands
This was a practice in the Old Testament dispensation. See Ex. 17:8-12; I Kings 8:22; Ezra 9:5; Psa. 28:2; 63:4; 88:9; 119:48; 134:2; 143:6; Lam. 3:41. It was carried over into the New. “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Tim. 2:8. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down.” Heb. 12:12. This ordinance is an emblem of a full surrender to God. Therefore to selfish and unconsecrated people, it is burden grievous to be borne. But to those who have denied themselves, and taken up the cross to follow the meek and lowly Jesus, it is a delightful observance.
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” 1 Tim. 6:3, 5.
William G. Schell