TO THE EDITOR OF THE FERMANAGH TIMES
--I did not reply to Mr. Ward last week knowing that you had other letters re the above crushed out for want of space. I now beg to thank you for your courtesy in sending me a proof of the letter of "Amicus Veritatis." This letter, with Mr. Ward's may be taken as their reply to mine of February 16, in which I gave full Scriptural proof of my argument that—
(1)--Infant Baptism has no place in the Scriptures.
(2)--That it is really the foundation alone for the absurd theory of Baptismal Regeneration.
(3)--That both are contrary to the Word of God and contrary to every command of our Lord and His apostles.
(4)--That Believer's Baptism was taught, practiced, and preached by Jesus, John the Baptist, and all the New Testament preachers.
Neither of your correspondents attempt to answer me, both prefer to descend to personalities and to avoid the issue. I have long since learned that abuse is not argument, and that to try to twist the truth of God to prove an unscriptural, absurd, and nonsensical doctrine or practice always defeats its own ends. When reading both replies one must be struck with their sameness and their disregard for plain Scriptural truth. I therefore have come to the conclusion that both must have graduated at the same theological seminary because both seem past masters in the art of proving white black and black white. I did not, however, consider Mr. Ward capable of so deliberately misrepresenting my interview with him in the Schoolhouse. Many persons then present have, since reading his letter, expressed surprise and astonishment at his utter disregard for facts.
However, Mr. Editor, I'm not sorry I went to the Schoolhouse to hear his lecture. I'm glad because a few people have got to see--through this controversy--that the plan laid down and lived out by Jesus should never have been altered by men.
How little regard men who profess to be teachers of the people have for the truth as it is in Jesus, who would dare to attempt to prove (1) infant sprinkling Scriptural. (2) that Baptism comes before belief, that (3) it takes the place of circumcision as the new covenant, etc. How truly we may say with Paul, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world against spiritual wickedness in high places--Eph vi, 12. I notice Mr. Ward refers to the three households mentioned in the New Testament as having been baptized, stating that they must have contained babies; to say the least of it, this is a slender thread to hang such a far-reaching doctrine upon. When we must bring supposition to the rescue at every corner---it shows how hard up we must be for proof. The Holy Spirit, however, does not leave us in the dark in these three cases, for if we read carefully, we find (1) the Philippian jailor's whole household believed--Acts xvi. 24. (2) The house of Stephanus addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints, Cor xvi, 15--babes don't generally minister, they need to be ministered unto. (3) The house of Lydia--We are told there were brethren in the house of Lydia who were comforted by Paul and Silas. Now if there were babes in these households (1) they were believing ones, (2) they were capable of ministering (3) and of being comforted, and, therefore, all proper subject for baptism.
Both correspondents argue that baptism should come before belief, and seek to give us proof from the New Testament by retranslating certain passages from its original. I must, however, prefer the common translation given in the authorized and revised versions to either Mr. Ward's or A V's. I always understood that these translations engaged the attention of the best scholars in the world for generations, and I, therefore accept their rendering with thanks in preference.
The following writers will, I have no doubt, be accepted as authorities on this subject, which all go to prove that infant baptism had its origin long after the days of Jesus and the apostles of His time.
Luther--It cannot be proved that infant baptism was initiated by Christ, or by the first Christians after Christ.
Calvin--It is nowhere expressed by the evangelists that infants were baptized.
Erasmus--It is nowhere in the apostles' writings that they baptized children.
Jeremy Taylor--It is against the perpetual analogy of Christ's doctrine to baptize infants.
The Oxford (Church of England) Helps to Study of the Bible gives the following definition of Baptism--"A symbolic rite practised by John the Baptist and adopted by the Christian Church with the sanction of our Lord. Signifying repentance from sin and the entrance upon a new life of holiness. The word means immersion or submersion, and this, no doubt, was the original mode of baptism."
Dean Stanley, Dean of Westminster--It was an entire submersion in deep water.
After all it is hardly necessary to give these proofs; it is sufficient to know that there is no instance from Genesis to Revelations of a baby being sprinkled, and it is not likely that God would leave us in the dark on a question of such vital importance. It is also an absurd and ridiculous argument to say that when we are not forbidden to do it, it may or should be done. With regard to the wretched and senseless theory that baptism comes before belief; it's an insult to the intelligence of your readers to use such an argument. Every example given in the New Testament goes to prove without doubt and without exception that belief comes first; for instance, observe how careful Philip was that the Eunuch believed before he went down into the water. It's pure waste of time to argue this question, and sand throwing to blind us to what is really behind it all. Mr. Ward has let the fat into the fire by his references to the covenant, and his telling us that unsprinkled babies are outside that covenant. I admire the skill with which he tries to coat this pill. However, murder will out, and he might just as well have said that in the case of death babies outside this imaginary covenant must perish. Here we have a Protestant clergyman--at the beginning of the 20th century, subscribing to this most awful doctrine, that unless some priest--be he Protestant or Catholic--sprinkles water in the face of the unconscious little innocent, it must suffer the pains of eternal death. Such a doctrine at once places the Priest as the Saviour and God as the monster—I must here tell another secret. In the year of Grace 1907, a Protestant priest baptized an abortion who had only a few minutes to live in the enlightened County of Fermanagh--Lucky job the priest was so near!! Had this infant died without him it would have been denied the right of Christian burial--a right freely accorded to all baptized persons be they drunkards, thieves or libertines--no questions are asked as to their faith or morals so far as I ever heard-- provided they have been baptized as babies wherein they were made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. Who is it that has not asked himself the question as he stood beside the open grave of the impenitent drunkard, or blasphemer--is there such a thing as genuine religion at all, when he heard the "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure, and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life "recited in the most solemn tones of the funeral dirge!
We have, however, to go to old mother Babylon herself to get this doctrine openly taught and strictly carried out to its logical conclusion. We are told that at childbirth, where it is a question of save either the mother or the babe, it is enjoined that the child's life must be saved in order that it may be baptized. The mother of course being baptized already is a fit subject for the Kingdom of Heaven-- therefore her life would not be such a loss as the soul of the child. (See M'Carthy's Priest and People in Ireland, page 414.) The mother is, therefore, murdered in order that this doctrine may be strictly and impartially carried out.
The devil is never so angry as when his pet theory (as old as you like) is touched upon. This doctrine must be as precious to him as the apple of his eye, else he would not fight so wickedly in it defence. Ordinary intelligence might tell us that where God is silent on any point of doctrine it's not our business to be prying into it. God has never told us anything as to the future state of the child who dies in infancy, or the imbecile, hence we should be content to leave these things in His hands. Should we not rather fear and tremble at the thought of how the cunning, craftiness, and slight of men for some ends of their own, have distorted His plain word, and doctrine, and thereby have deceived and damned millions of our fellow-creatures.
Mr. Ward tells us that baptism takes the place of circumcision, because the Lord's Supper succeeded the Passover. Have you no further proof, Mr. Ward. I doubt if you can prove this. I don't believe it. There is no proof from the Word that this is so; if so, where? As a proof that it did not take the place of circumcision we find that Timothy was circumcised long after baptism--Acts xvi, 3. We find also "The apostles, elders and brethren" of the Church at Jerusalem had to come together to consider the question of circumcision being forced upon converted Gentiles. If Baptism took the place of circumcision that would have been Paul's opportunity for saying so, but not a word was said about baptism during the whole controversy. Of course Mr. Ward had to come along later and make the discovery. A Jewish man child received circumcision as a sign he entered the family by natural birth. It was God's covenant with Abraham that he would make the Jews a great nation--and related only to earthly greatness, hence it was for males only--Gen xvii, 10. We find the new covenant at Hebrews viii, 10, and is spiritual, Behold I will make a new covenant with my people; I will put my laws in their hearts, and on their minds I will write them; I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people. Both male and female can enter the new covenant. Both covenants are mentioned in Jeremiah xxxi, 31-34. It was the seed of Abraham that were circumcised. It's the seed of God, born from above, through the preaching of the Gospel by apostolic ministry that were baptized by immersion. Circumcision was outward to teach the need of true circumcision of the heart--Jer iv, 4. In conclusion, let me point out to Mr. Ward that apostolic authority never came through Church Synod or Sanhedrin. I know he claims this mystic prerogative; let me tell him, however, the Bishop of Rome would say "you went out from us because you were not of us." Then his claim of apostolic ancestry would fall through. I will tell him when he tells me who sent John the Dipper. Jesus the Dipper, Peter and Paul, all dippers--all of whom were denied and cast out as evil by the clergy of the day, and who were continually questioning their authority to cast out devils, etc. and trying to hinder them on every hand. Let me tell Mr. Ward there were practically nothing but dippers for the first four centuries until the mystery of iniquity developed itself, and the devil succeeded in deceiving almost all Christendom by setting up a way other than God's way. However, there has (sic) always been a few dippers outside the ecclesiastical camp, and will while Jesus, the Chief Dipper, sits at God's right hand and reigns in the hearts of honest man (sic). A word for Mr. Maye--I did not begin this controversy. I cannot, however, keep silent when it is sought to teach error for truth much as I dislike the task. And if Mr. Maye would begin and stand for truth he would soon find himself where I am and perhaps worse. Read, Gal i, 8-9; 3 John i, 10, 11; Isa ix, 15, 16. I am sorry for the necessity of this letter.
Your obedient servant, JOHN WEST.
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