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did then consider the Sabbath as ended when the sun did set; consequently they began at the setting of the sun. And the Jews have practised agreeable to this from that time down to this day, beginning their Sabbaths and all their other festivals at the going down of the sun.
Jesus and his disciples observed the Jewish Sabbath, which began and ended at the setting of the sun; and the apostles would of course begin the Christian Sabbath at the same time, which succeeded the Jewish Sabbath, on the first day of the week, and began when that ended; and ought to do so, unless they had a particular command to begin it at a different time, of which there is not the least intimation. Though the Jewish Sabbath is abolished, and the first day of the week is appointed to be the Christian Sabbath, and thus the day is altered, yet this is no warrant to alter the time of beginning the day, but it must remain the same, unless God has manifested it to be his will that it should be altered, and fixed another time on which to begin the day, which he has not done. Since the change is only of the day, and not of the time of beginning it, and the first day began when the seventh day ended, which was at sundown, is not this sufficient evidence that it is the will of God that the Christian Sabbath shall begin at the going down of the sun, when the Jewish Sabbath ended? And does not this, in conjunction with what has been observed in the preceding particular, sufficiently discover the will of God respecting the beginning of the holy days, which he makes so for the use of man? And is it not presumption and willworship, to begin the Sabbath at any other time of the day, without a divine warrant, sufficient to counteract what God has done and revealed, in the instances which have been mentioned ?
7. It is as proper and convenient to begin the Sabbath at sundown as at any other time, and in some respects more so. A care and exertion to have all worldly affairs and business finished so as to be laid aside by that particular time, is a proper expression of regard to a divine institution. And if the heads of a family, and their household, be pious, and delight in the Sabbath, they will find no insuperable difficulty, in ordinary cases, to be prepared to meet and welcome the Sabbath when the time comes on, and come together and begin it in joining in social worship. The Jews find no insuperable difficulty or inconvenience in punctually beginning their Sabbath at sundown, when they commonly join in social worship. And Christians may certainly, with equal convenience and propriety, begin their Sabbath at the same time.
Baptism is an ordinance, or sacrament, which Christ has instituted. This is to be performed by the application of water to the person baptized, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In order to be a proper subject of baptism, a person, if adult, must profess his faith in Christ, and subjection to him, and engage to do all those things which he has commanded, and appear to be a true Christian, or real believer in Christ, and to understand and believe the great and essential doctrines and precepts of the gospel. This ordinance is to be applied to every one who appears to be qualified, according to the rules which Christ has given, to be a member of the visible church. And no one is to be considered and treated as a member of the church and kingdom of Christ unless he be baptized with water, as this is the only door by which persons can be introduced into the visible kingdom of Christ, according to his appointment; and all who are baptized according to his direction are visible members of his church. Christ, in his commission to his disciples, directed them to baptize all whom they proselyted. (Matt. xxviii. 19.) And we find, by the history we have of their preaching and conduct, that they practised accordingly. The words of Christ to Nicodemus express the essential qualifications by which a person becomes a true and real member of his visible church.“ 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 iii. 5.) By the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heayen, when mentioned by Christ, he commonly means his visible church and kingdom in this world. By being born of the Spirit, is meant that renovation of heart by which persons become real Christians and members of the invisible kingdom of Christ. To be born of water is to be baptized with water according to the institution and command of Christ, by which persons enter into the visible church, and become members of the visible kingdom of God, without which they cannot enter into this kingdom, as this is the only appointed way to enter into that covenant of which baptism is the initiating seal, and so to be made a visible member of this kingdom. The former, his being born of the Spirit, does not make him a member of the visible church or kingdom of God. But in order to this, he must profess his faith, and enter into covenant, and have this visible seal of the covenant put upon him. As a person may be born of the Spirit before he is a visible member of the kingdom of God,
and must be so in order to be a real and true member at any time, and he is supposed and appears to be such a one when he is baptized, and by it becomes a visible member of this kingdom; so a person may appear to be born of the Spirit, and profess that which implies it, and be baptized and enter into the visible kingdom of God, and yet not be really born of the Spirit. He is not a member of the invisible church, but may be a member of the visible church, admitted according to the rules which Christ has given to his church. He is not in the kingdom of God in the sight of God, but is so in the sight of men. But he who is born of the Spirit, and is baptized, has entered into the kingdom of God, in the sight of God and man, and appears to be what he really is, and shall be saved; whereas, the other, who is born of water only, is a hypocrite, and is a member of the kingdom of God only in appearance; that is, he is a visible member only, and not a complete one, and has no title to salvation.
Baptism is an appointed seal of the covenant of grace, both on the part of Christ, and of him who is baptized. It is a seal of the truth of the promises of this covenant, to all who believe, and are the true friends of Christ. And he who is baptized makes this a visible seal and token of the truth of his profession, of his believing in Christ, and of his friendship to him, and his willingness to obey and serve him; so it is a visible, solemn covenant transaction between Christ and him who is baptized, by whicb his sins are visibly washed away and forgiven, and he is visibly entitled to ail the promises of the covenant of grace, and numbered among the saved, and is really so, if his heart be answerable in any degree to his profession and this solemn transaction, as it is if he be born of the Spirit of God.
Christian baptism is not to be repeated, or administered more than once to the same person, because we have no precept or example for this in the Scripture. And there does not appear any reason for doing it; for by this, persons are introduced into the visible church of Christ, as appearing to be real members of his kingdom. And if one so baptized and introduced be afterwards rejected and cast out for his visible bad conduct, and after this profess and appear to be a true penitent, there can be no visible evidence that he was not a real Christian when he was baptized and first introduced ; therefore, there is no more reason for rebaptizing him than for repeating the baptism of any other visible member of the church, and though he has been rejected, his relation to the church does not cease on supposition he shall repent; therefore, when he appears to repent, he restores himself to the same station in the visible church in which he was before.
Baptism is a public ordinance, and the church is to know who are baptized and who are not, and it is, therefore, in ordinary cases, to be administered in public. But there may be instances in which it is proper and necessary to do it more privately, of which we have examples in the days of the apostles.
There have been, and still are, different and opposite sentiments among professed believers respecting the ordinance of baptism, especially with regard to the mode of applying water in baptism, and the proper subjects of this ordinance; and many volumes have been written containing controversy on these points. And as no new light can perhaps be given now on these subjects in dispute, it is not thought needful to enter particularly into this controversy here. A few things, however, will be observed respecting these points, of the propriety and truth of which every one will judge for himself.
1. The difference and opposition in sentiment and practice respecting this institution, and all other Christian doctrines, duties, and ordinances, is not owing to any want of light and instruction in the Scriptures on these points. this, is a reproach on divine revelation, and the author of it, and an implicit denial that it comes from God. All differences of this kind are owing to something defective and wrong in man, by which he is blind to that which is clearly revealed in Scripture. This ought to encourage and excite every honest man diligently to search the Scriptures on this subject, as well as others, praying that he may not be blinded by prejudice or any wrong bias, but that his eyes may be opened to see what God has revealed. We are not to confine ourselves to one part of the Bible in neglect of others, or to conclude nothing to be revealed which we do not find asserted in express words, but all parts of Scripture are to be carefully examined, and compared together, in order to learn what is the whole revealed will of God. And whatever is the just and necessary consequence from any one or two, or more propositions or facts which are expressly asserted, is as really revealed as those propositions and facts themselves.
However we may differ now in sentiment and practice on the subject of baptism, and oppose and censure each other, when men shall be more upright, discerning, and diligent, in attending to the Bible, ready to receive with meekness what God has revealed, as they will be in the days of the millennium, all those differences will cease, and what is so much disputed now will then be seen to be clearly decided in divine revelation; all former errors will be rectified, and, doubtless, it will then be seen that we were all more or less in the wrong on this point. We must, therefore, go to the law and the testimony; and if we think and speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in us, while it shines sufficiently clear in the Bible.
2. As to the mode of baptism, and the form and manner of using and applying water in this ordinance, to the person baptized, it does not appear to be decidedly fixed in the Scripture, whether it be by plunging, pouring on water, aspersion, or sprinkling. Each of those ways have been embraced and practised by different churches, and some do insist that plunging the person wholly under water is the only scriptural mode of baptism, and that none are really baptized, who are not thus plunged. But when the Scripture is carefully examined, it will not appear that this form of baptism was instituted by Christ, or practised by the apostles; or that the word in the original, translated baptism, or to baptize, invariably signifies plunging the whole body in water. This has been particularly considered and proved over and over again, by writers on this subject. Therefore, their opinion and practice, with regard to baptism, seems to be most agreeable to Scripture, who think no particular form of applying water in baptism is prescribed there, by precept or example, or by any thing that is there said on this point; therefore, every church is left to adopt that particular mode which appears to them most decent and convenient; or that different persons may be baptized in different ways of application of water, as shall be most agreeable to them, allowing all to be really baptized, to whom water is religiously applied by a proper person, in the name of the sacred Trinity, whether by plunging, pouring on water, or by aspersion and sprinkling, as the Christian baptism does in no degree consist in the particular manner of using and applying water; and that it is as real baptism, according to the institution of Christ, when performed in different modes. And they seem to be rigid beyond any Scripture warrant, and in a degree superstitious, who insist that all shall be baptized by plunging, and reject all those to whom water has not been applied in this particular mode, as not baptized. This is doubtless making that essential to this ordinance which the Scripture has not made so, and rejecting those from Christian communion and the privileges of the visible church whom Christ receives. If they who have adopted this mode of baptism by plunging did not make it a term of communion, and exclude all as not baptized who have not had water applied to them in this particular way, and not visible Christians, the dispute and contention would be at an end, and they who think and practise differently might hold communion with each other, and