The following is from:
THE PLAN OF SALVATION MADE PLAIN TO THE SINNER.
IN THREE PARTS.
BY JOHN H. HUNDLEY,
A MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST.
MOORESVILLE, LIMESTONE COUNTY, ALABAMA. 1858.
IV.—IMMERSION IN WATER.
This forms the fourth condition in the order of salvation. About it there has been the greatest dispute among religionists; and there is to this day the greatest variety of opinions. After what our learned brother Campbell has done towards setting the world right in regard to this institution, it would be presumption in me to undertake any lengthy argument concerning it; and I shall not attempt such a thing. Still I shall endeavor to prove from the Bible that it is an essential to salvation, which I think is a proposition very easily sustained.
The error in regard to this ordinance is twofold. The first is as to the mode ; and the second is as to the importance of it.
The error in regard to the mode is, that immersion is denied to be the only way in which it can be administered, sprinkling and pouring being considered equally proper and efficacious. There are three objections to be urged against this opinion; either one of which is sufficient to overthrow it.
1st. The proper and primary meaning of the word in the original Greek is immersion, – or rather the verb is, to plunge, to dip, etc.
2nd. Immersion, it is conceded, was the practice of the primitive Christians, even up to the third century; about which time infant baptism was introduced, and it being found difficult to immerse infants, sprinkling or pouring was resorted to, as being a more feasible method.
3rd. The connexion in which baptism is referred to in the Bible, with the attendant circumstances. Paul says that we are buried with Christ in baptism. Common sense teaches us that a burial must necessarily be a covering up of the whole person. Again, in reference to John, the Immerser, it is said that he baptized in a certain place, because there was muck water there. The inference is plain. And then in the case of Philip and the eunuch, it is related that they both went down into the water. Was there any need of this, except it was immersion which Philip administered? Could he not have very easily taken up a little water in his hand, and wet the forehead of the Ethiopian? – for such is the custom of the sects of this day.
But I shall come now to consider the institution as essential to the pardon of one’s sins. There is not a proposition in the whole Scriptures of Divine Truth more clearly set forth than this. We find it in Christ’s commission to his Disciples: “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 condemned.” If there be any sense in language, baptism is here as necessary for salvation as is faith.
Again, on the day of Pentecost, when the three thousand believed, and requested what they should do to be saved, Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.”
Now, if a man can repent because his sins have been forgiven, then our Baptist brothers are right in their interpretation of this passage, viz: that a man should be baptized because his sins have been remitted. No man in his senses, however, is willing to believe that a remission of sins ever causes sorrow. It is too absurd a proposition to be entertain- ed for a moment. Of course, then, repentance and baptism are for one and the same thing—to-wit, re- mission or pardon of past sins. Paul’s conversion proves this. For three days he was a firm believer in Jesus Christ, and most bitterly all that time did he repent him of his iniquities. If faith brings salvation, Paul surely ought to have been pardoned long before Ananias visited him. Or, if repentance alone secured remission of sins, Paul ought to have been pardoned before Ananias visited him. But what did Ananias say to him so soon as he came into his presence? Did he ask after his experience? Did he say, “Brother Paul, you have been most signally visited by our gracious Lord, for I understand you have seen a great light and heard a mighty voice, by which means God has informed you that you are an accepted son and child of glory?” Oh, no. But Ananias said to him on this wise: “Why tarriest thou, brother Paul? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Can any man doubt now that baptism is for the remission of sins? If he can, he doubts God’s Word, and is at heart a scoffer and an infidel. Here we have a man who has believed and repented, and who is yet told to arise and wash away his sins by immersion. If he had been saved by faith, as I re- marked a while ago, there would have been no sins to wash away. So neither would there have been had he been saved by repentance. But God’s plan is the more perfect one, and here we see it exemplified. Paul is told to wash away his sins by baptism – not that the virtue is in the water, but simply because God has chosen to make that His ordinance. Under the Mosaic Law it was customary for the priest to take a goat, and laying hands on him to send him forth into the wilderness, and God promised that thus the sins of Israel should be carried away, and hence this was called the scape-goat. Does any man think the virtue to bear off sins was in a goat? Of course not. It was God’s command, and there lay all the merit. So in the case of water baptism. God has commanded us to per- form the ordinance in order to remission, and it is obedience to God’s Word that ensures salvation and cleanses us from all sin, and not the mere washing of water. Or, as Peter has expressed it, for doubt- less the same objections were urged against this institution then as now, “The like figure where unto baptism doth now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good con- science toward God, ) by the. resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
This much will suffice on the subject of immersion, for if a man will not believe the Apostle Peter, he will not even listen to anything which I might feel inclined to write.