Pittsburgh Gazette'April 17, 1905


The congregation which usually meets at Bible House Chapel, Allegheny, met yesterday afternoon and evening at Carnegie Hall. Their chapel, usually crowded, would have been quite insufficient for yesterday, which was a special occasion. In the evening the annual memorial service was held, which Pastor C T Russell explained commemorated Christ's death on its anniversary, corresponding to the time when our Lord taking some unleavened bread of the Passover and fruit of the vine, instituted the Memorial Supper, by which he requested his followers to celebrate every year his death and their release from the slavery of sin and Satan, instead of the Jewish Passover Supper, which celebrated the typical release from Pharaoh and Egypt. About four hundred partook of this communion in the evening.

The afternoon service was evidently a preparatory one, on "True Baptism, its Import and its Symbol," from Rom. 6:3-5. Following it quite a number were buried symbolically (immersed) at Bible House Chapel fount. The discourse follows:

Christian people are a unit in understanding that the New Testament teaches baptism, although there is a great diversity or confusion of thought respecting its mode and significance.


The great falling away from the faith, alluded to by the apostles in the New Testament, had gained such headway by the second century that very superstitious views regarding baptism had gained control in the nominal church of that time. Water baptism was supposed, not only to bring the subject into relationship with God by canceling past sins, but also to bring to him certain graces or favors from God as a member of the Church of Christ, which could not otherwise be secured.

At that early day, not only did believers seek baptism for themselves, but also for their children; and because infants could neither believe nor enter into covenant for themselves, an arrangement was made by which other than the parents might become sponsors for the children- "spiritual parents." They solemnly promised that the children should believe in the Lord and walk in His ways. These were called godfathers and godmothers, or sponsors.

Both the teachers and taught progressed rapidly to formalism. In the third century special fonts for baptismal purposes were built outside the churches. They consisted of a private room which connected with an outside porch, the latter being open to the public, in whose presence the baptismal vows were taken, after which the subject was baptized in the font privately. The officiating minister exercised the candidate to cast out devils, blowing in his face three puffs of breath, as representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


The water in which the baptism took place was consecrated by an elaborate formula, constituting it sacred water, a part of the formula being exorcism or casting out of evil spirits from the water. The candidate was stripped of clothing, as representing the complete putting off of the old man, and was baptized three times, once in the name of the Son, once in the name of the Father, and once in the name of the Holy Spirit. All this was done outside the [HGL294] church, to intimate that the candidate was not yet a member of the church and could not be a member until thus inducted. After the baptism service the candidate for membership wore white clothing until the following Sunday.

Later on, the separation of the baptistry from the church ceased, and the baptismal pools were built in the churches. The Roman and Greek Catholics still maintain to a considerable degree the elaborate ceremonial of the third century, changed and applied to sprinkling.

It is not surprising that Protestants of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, having inherited these traditions and participated in them, would be considerably under their influences, and that while divesting themselves of much of the extreme ceremony, they maintained many of the same views and ceremonies. Even to-day, otherwise intelligent people have a superstitious fear respecting what might be the everlasting future of their children dying in infancy without having been baptized without having received remission of sins, and induction into the church.


In harmony with these superstitions we find that, although every effort is made in all denominations to keep all power, privilege and authority in the hands of the clergy and out of the hands of the laity, nevertheless it is very generally the custom that in extreme cases, where an infant is not expected to live, and where the services of a clergyman cannot be secured in time, any person may perform a baptism service the thought being that no risk is to be taken in respect to the child's eternal welfare.

The privilege of the laity under such circumstances is clearly recognized even in the Roman and Greek Catholic churches; and in the rubric of the Church of England in the time of Edward the 6th. the matter was ordered thus: "Pastors and curates shall often admonish the people that without great cause and necessity they baptize not children at home in their houses, and when great need shall compel them so to do that then they minister it."

We quote the following explanation of baptism from the authorized Roman Catholic Catechism (page 248):

"The first and most necessary sacrament is baptism, because before baptism no other sacrament can be received," and "because without baptism no one can be saved." "In baptism original sin and all sins committed before baptism are forgiven; the temporal as well as the eternal punishment is remitted by baptism." "In baptism we are not only cleansed from all sin, but are also transformed in a spiritual manner, made holy, children of God and heirs of heaven."

The Lutheran Church holds to a very similar statement on the subject. The Church of England, though with a slightly varied wording, attaches the same significance to infant baptism. The following extracts from their Book of Common Prayer show this:

"Sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that this child, now to be baptized therein, may receive the fullness of Thy grace, and ever remain in the number of the faithful and elect children."

"We receive this child into the congregation of Christ's flock; and do sign him with the sign of the cross." "Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits."

"We yield Thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with the Holy Spirit."


The Westminster Confession, Art. 28, says: "Baptism is a sacrament. . . a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins," etc. It declares it to be applicable to infant children, one or both of whose parents are Christians, but not to other children. It adds, "Although it be a great sin to neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated."

Attaching less importance to baptism, Presbyterian rules permit none but ministers to perform the service, and by its ministers laying stress upon the importance of baptism, and comparatively few knowing of the last quoted clause, it follows that Presbyterians, as well as others, fear the consequence of their infants dying unbaptized.


As illustrating this matter an anecdote is told of a certain doctor who was called late at night to attend a dying infant. He arrived just a moment in advance of the clergyman sent for at the same time. It being evident that the physician could do nothing further for the child, he at once stepped aside, while the minister hastily took a bowl of water, sprinkled a few drops in the face of the child, saying, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." The child a moment later expired, and as the doctor and minister left the house together the former remarked to the latter, "You arrived just in the nick of time; two minutes more and you would have been too late. May I ask what kind of shoes you wear?" "Congress gaiters," responded the clergyman. "Ah, how fortunate!" said the doctor. "Had you worn laced boots you would not have been in time, and think what disaster that would have meant for the child!"

True, many of the more enlightened Christian people would deny any such false superstitious thought as that God would hand over an unbaptized infant to devils to eternally torment it, or do anything else to its detriment. Nevertheless, many of these same people manifest great concern if by any means one of their children should die without this ceremony; and some of the illiterate certainly have a most positive belief in the necessity of the rite, and a most torturing fear of the consequences if it is omitted so strong is the influence coming down to us from the centuries of false beliefs the "dark ages."


Amongst those who recognized that baptism is enjoined upon believers, and that one person cannot believe for another, infant baptism is repudiated as being unscriptural. Moreover, the same people generally hold that nothing constitutes the baptism commanded by our Lord and [HGL295] the apostles except an immersion in water. These call attention to the fact that the Greek word signifying baptism, "baptizo," has the significance of immerse or cover or plunge or completely make wet, and that wholly different words are used in the Greek when sprinkling is referred to.

These believers in immersion in water generally practice one immersion backward in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, though a few practice it face forward three times, once in the name of the Father, once in the name of the Son, and once in the name of the Holy Spirit, the explanation for the latter form being that Christ bowed his head forward when he died, and hence His followers should be immersed in the likeness of His death, face-forward. It does not seem to occur to these Christian friends that Christ was not buried face forward, and that the Father and the Holy Spirit neither died nor were buried at all, and that, therefore, such symbolizations are wholly inconsistent, and that the significance of the words, "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" would properly be by the authority of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


Of those who practice one immersion backward are Baptists and Disciples, who, nevertheless, perform the service with very different sentiments respecting its significance and the results. The view of the Disciples or Christian denominations is that baptism (immersion in water) is for the remission of sins, and that such as have not yet been immersed in water are still in their sins, "children of wrath."

This view of the subject cuts off the great mass of humanity, and even professed Christians of all denominations, not immersed Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, United Presby-terians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, etc. as sinners, unjustified before God and, therefore, exposed to the wrath of God, understood by nearly all, including the "Disciples," to mean an eternity of torture.

This is a hard position to take, especially in regard to Christian professors, and we do not wonder that our "Disciple" friends generally avoid pressing the question to so extreme a statement, although the logic of the proposition is evident. We cannot accept this to be a correct view of baptism to us it is neither Scriptural nor reasonable. The Christian denomination errs. We deny that the Lord has made the eternal welfare of our race dependent on their immersion in water. The explanation of their proof-texts we already have in print, but we have not time to consider them in detail here.


Our Baptist friends, while no less strenuous in their advocacy of immersion in water as the only baptism, set up a totally different claim respecting its efficacy. They deny that it is for the remission of sins, which can only be experienced through faith. They hold, however, that baptism is the door into the Church, and that only those who have been immersed have really entered the Church, and that others should not expect nor be granted the privileges and blessings belonging to the Church, either in the present life or that to come.

In harmony with this Baptists in general decline to welcome to the communion table any not immersed in water, saying that it is not for the world, but only for the Church, and that none are in the Church except those who have passed through the door of water immersion. The few Baptist churches which in recent years have relaxed their rules have done so in contravention of their theory. In illustration of this subject we quote from a recent article by Rev. J T Lloyd in the Religious Herald. He says:

"Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost nothing else is baptism. Baptist churches are the only Christian churches in existence. Pedobaptists (child baptizers) have no right to the Lord's Supper. Whenever they partake of the Lord's Supper they partake unworthily and eat and drink damnation to themselves."


If the Baptist theory be the correct one it follows that all members of other denominations of professed Christians who have not been immersed in water have deceived themselves in thinking that in any sense of the word they belong to the Church of Christ. We do not wonder that our Baptist friends, and especially those of the highest standard of heart and intellect, hesitate to press upon the public these, the only logical, conclusions of their belief. To do so would be to bring down upon them the indignation and contumely of many whom they are bound to respect as Christians, notwithstanding their theory to the contrary. But what would it mean if this Baptist theory were true? We answer that, according to all the creeds of Christendom, it would mean that only immersed persons would be saved, and that all the remainder of all denominations would be lost, for is it not the theory of all the creeds that only the Church is to be saved, and that all others are hastening to destruction or eternal torment or some other awful future, the destiny to which is fixed at death.


From all the foregoing, as imperfect human theories, whose inconsistencies are clearly manifest, the mere statement of them carries instant conviction of their erroneousness to every intelligent and unprejudiced mind. We cannot admit that either the Disciple denomination or Baptist denomination, or both of these constitute "The Church of the Living god, whose names are written in heaven," to the exclusion of all the unimmersed of other denominations. We cannot admit that when the Son of Man sowed the good seed of the Gospel in the field, the wheat was all brought under Baptist fencing, and that the tares were all outside. Nor can we even admit that all the wheat is to be found amongst those immersed in water, and all the tares as well, so that all other Christians would be excluded from the Lord's parable of the wheat and tares. (Matt. 13.) We claim that all these conflicting theories are wrong disapproved of God. We claim that all sects and denominations are contrary to the divine institution one Head, one faith, one body, one baptism. We are not claiming that the [HGL296] Lord's Church, the new creation, is multitudinous, but admit that in all it is a little flock.


"Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?"

The Apostle is addressing those who are already members of Christ. He says, "Know ye not that so many of you as were baptized into Jesus Christ" he does not say, so many of us as were sprinkled with water, nor so many of us as were immersed in water, but, "so many of you as were baptized (immersed) into Jesus Christ" as members of His body, the Church. How do we get into the body of Christ? The Apostle answers that we were baptized into it, and hence are now counted as members of our Lord not members of the Baptist or Disciple Church.

But let us inquire particularly what was the process by which we came into membership in Christ Jesus. The Apostle answers the question in his next statement, "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death." Not a word about being baptized into Him by being baptized into water. No, no! How evident it is that if we were baptized a thousand times in water it would not bring us into membership in the body of Christ! But, accepting the Apostle's statement, we realize that our union with Christ, our membership in His Church or Ecclesia, whose names are written in heaven, dated from the time that we were baptized into the death.

But when and how were we baptized into the Lord's death? We answer that this baptism into death with the Lord, this overwhelming or burial of ourselves, our flesh, which resulted in our incorporation by Him as members of His body, as new creatures, took place at the moment when we made the full surrender of our wills to him consecrating our all, to follow and obey him, even unto death.

The will represents the entire person and all that he possesses. The will has control of the body, hands, feet, mouth, eyes and brain. It has control, too, of the pocket, the bank account, the real estate. It controls our time, our talent, our influence. There is not a thing of value that we possess which does not properly come under control of the will, and, hence, when we surrender our wills to the Lord or, as the Scriptures sometimes represent it, our "hearts" we give Him our all; and this burial of our human wills into the will of Christ is our death as human beings, our baptism into death the burial of self. "Ye are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3.) This death, this burial, is our baptism into His death. Henceforth, from the divine standpoint, we are not to count ourselves as human beings, of human nature, of the earth, earthy, and as having earthly aims, objects, and hopes, but as new creatures in Christ Jesus.


The instant of this burial or immersion of our wills into the will of Christ was followed by our begetting to newness of life to a new nature. As our Lord consecrated His human nature to death in the doing of the Father's will, and gradually spent His earth life, and was raised from the dead to a newness of nature, so we who thus in consecration become "dead with Him," sharing in His consecration, will not be left in death, but shall ultimately be granted a share in the First Resurrection. Nay, we by faith may reckon our resurrection as already beginning, and may instantly rise through faith to a realization of our kinship to the Lord as new creatures. Thus the Apostle declares, "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of Christ dwell in you." Rom. 8:9.


That our Lord did not receive water immersion at the hands of John as the real immersion, but merely as its figure or illustration, can be readily demonstrated. In evidence mark His words about the time of the Last Supper: "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." (Luke 12:50.) Here our Lord shows that His baptism was not the water baptism, but the death-baptism baptism into death, in harmony with the divine arrangement, as man's redemption price. He consecrated Himself to this death baptism at the earliest possible moment, when He attained 30 years of age, and having during the three and one-half years of His ministry carefully carried out the provisions of that consecration- "dying daily," "pouring out His soul unto death," using up His life, His energy, His strength, in the service of the Father, in the service of His followers, and, in a large sense, in the service of His enemies. His baptism into death was completed on the cross when He cried, "It is finished!" and died.

The "mystery" of our relationship to Christ in sacrifice, in death-baptism now, and the resulting relationship and union with Him in the glory that is to follow, is incomprehensible to the world. It should, however, be appreciated by the Lord's faithful, and is asseverated repeatedly in the Scriptures. "If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with Him;" "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him." We are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, if so be that we suffer with Him (if we experience death-baptism with Him as His body members) that we may also be glorified together." 2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 6:8; 8:17.

In the fourth verse the Apostle repeats the same thought from another standpoint, saying, "Therefore are we buried with Him by baptism into death." Again no suggestion of water baptism, but a most positive statement of death-baptism, our consecration unto death. Proceeding, the Apostle carries forward the picture, stating the reason of our baptism into Christ's death, saying, "Like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Only indirectly does the Apostle here refer to our share in the First Resurrection, when we shall share the glory of the Lord in the Kingdom. He refers chiefly to the present life.

All who make full consecration of their lives to the Lord, to be dead with Him, to be joint-sacrificers with Him in the service of the Truth, are to reckon themselves while living in the world as being separate and distinct from others around them. They covenant to die to earthly things which so engross others, an may, therefore, only use them as servants of the new creation. As new creatures we became alive through the Redeemer to heavenly things and prospects which the world around sees not, understands [HGL297] not. In harmony with this our lives in the world should be new, distinct, separate from those of others about us; because we are animated by the new spirit, new hopes, new aims, the heavenly.


Coming to the fifth verse, the Apostle still makes not the slightest reference to the water baptism, although some, at first, might think otherwise of his words, "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection." If this being planted together in the likeness of His death be understood to mean water baptism, it would be laying more stress upon it than any teacher in the world would be willing to admit that water baptism will insure a part in the First Resurrection.

But when we understand this verse, in harmony with the two preceding it, to refer to baptism into death, to planting in the likeness of Christ' death, then all is plain, all is reasonable. Having been called of the Lord to be joint-heirs with His Son, and to suffer with Him and to be dead with Him, and to live with Him and to reign with Him, how sure we may feel that if we are faithful to this call, if we are planted or buried into His death, like as He was buried in death, we shall eventually get the full reward which God promises to such, viz., a share in the First Resurrection to glory, honor and immortality.

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