necessarily disunited. Since baptism is in charge of the church, she can attach baptism to the former and not to the latter.
We of course deny that the separation of baptism from faith is ever necessary. We maintain, on the contrary, that thus to separate the two is to pervert the ordinance, and to make it teach the doctrine of hereditary church membership and salvation by outward manipulation apart from faith. We say with Dean Stanley (on Baptism, in the Nineteenth Century, Oct. 1879) though not, as he does, with approval, that the change in the method of administering the ordinance shows ?how the spirit that lives and moves in human society can override the most sacred ordinances.? We cannot with him call this spirit ?the free spirit of Christianity.? We regard it rather as an evil spirit of disobedience and unbelief. ?Baptists are therefore pledged to prosecute the work of the Reformation until the church shall return to the simple forms it possessed under the apostles?
(O. M. Stone). See Curtis, Progress of Baptist Principles, 234-245.
Objections: 1. Immersion is often impracticable. We reply that when really impracticable, it is no longer a duty. Where the will to obey is present but providential circumstances render outward obedience impossible, Christ takes the will for the deed.
2. It is often dangerous to health and life. We reply that, when it is really dangerous, it is no longer a duty. But then, we have no warrant for substituting another act for that which Christ has commanded. Duty demands simple delay until it can be administered with safety. It must be remembered that ardent feeling nerves even the body. ?Brethren, if your hearts be warm, ice and snow can do no harm.? The cold climate of Russia does not prevent the universal practice of immersion by the Greek Church of that country.
3. It is indecent. We reply, that there is need of care to prevent exposure but that with this care there is no indecency, more than in fashionable sea- bathing. The argument is valid only against a careless administration of the ordinance, not against immersion itself.
4. It is inconvenient. We reply that, in a matter of obedience to Christ we are not to consult convenience. The ordinance, which symbolizes his sacrificial death and our spiritual death with him, may naturally involve something of inconvenience, but joy in submitting to that inconvenience will be a test of the spirit of obedience. When the act is performed, it should be performed as Christ enjoined.
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