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they are convinced, a less scriptural communion. With whatever motives the books are written, printed, and circulated, one class of highly respectable tradesmen receive no little benefit from them. The booksellers have no ground of complaint. It will be a gloomy day for Paternoster-row, when this controversy is brought to a termination. Paper-makers, printers, folders, binders, carriers, porters, will suffer; and the great establishment in St. Martin's-le-Grand will suffer too; for, amongst the pamphlets which have been making their rapid transit by post from point to point throughout Great Britain and Ireland, not a few have reached us on the immersion side of the controversy. And one little fiery brochure, which met our eye at the breakfast-table one morning, all but plunged into our accustomed cup of beverage, (we could scarce rescue it from the dip,) in order eagerly to announce to us its decided opinion, that the missionaries of that society with which we happen to be connected, ought at once to abandon an extensive and only partially cultivated field, that it might be left to the exclusive possession of the sect to which the author of this igneous production was evidently most ardently attached.
To a quiet and calm observer-one, we mean, of a cool, philosophical temperament-all this appears amusing only; but to a man who duly appreciates the true spirit of Christianity, it is painful. What should we say, if a similar amount of time, toil, and expense were to be bestowed on the mode in which the Lord's supper ought to be administered, and the persons to be regarded as worthy participants? Only think for a moment what a field would be opened. Are we to sit, to stand, or to recline? Are we to receive it in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening? Are we to attend to it in our usual place of assembling for religious worship, or in an upper chamber? Are we to restrict it to males, or to extend it to include both sexes? Are we to observe it as a religious rite, in obedience to the command of Christ, every day, once a week, once a month, or four times, or only twice in the year? And then, what test are we to employ to ascertain the fitness of the candidates, and who is to be the judge of the degree in which the tested answers to the test? Many of these questions are quite as important, if not more so, than any which can be propounded relative to the Baptist controversy.
It is not a little remarkable, that while great differences of opinion have existed on the subject of these two ordinances, controversy has been almost exclusively confined to one of them. We have no strife between the sitters, the kneelers, and the recliners at the ordinance of the Lord's supper. We have no fiery dogmatism, interlarded with series of vituperative phrases, on the evening, as opposed to the morning observance of the rite. We have no separate sect formed; no new designation adopted to divide the one-sense interpreters of the word Aivov from all other Christians. No shouts of laughter and boisterous
cheering at the exposure, real or fancied, in an assembly of the onesense men, of the errors or want of principle of their weak or wicked brethren. Whence this wide difference? Both ordinances have been abused by the Roman Catholic, and by other churches. Both are regarded by all consistent followers of our Lord as symbolic of spiritual blessings, as designed to aid the mind through the medium of the senses; the one to be attended to, as an initiatory rite, only once in the life of the Christian, the other to be frequently repeated, even down to the day of his death. The latter, then, appears the more important. Its very frequency of reception implies this. Would it not strike some stranger from a higher and holier sphere as monstrous, that the waters of strife should have been stirred on the less important, to the all but entire neglect of one single movement as to the more important rite; and yet more monstrous still, that of the less important, the minor point in this controversy, the mode, and not the subjects of baptism should be most insisted on? How is this strange infatuation, -it deserves no better a name,-to be accounted for? We can only think of one solution. This is to be found in our poor, weak, fallen nature, which, as it can learn and repeat the watchword of a party, so it can understand it with infinitely greater facility, than it can grasp and comprehend the wide circle of Divine truth, in its all-important bearings and relations. Thus it is sometimes in science; thus it is frequently in politics; and, alas! thus it is also in religion.
But we must notice the works we have placed at the head of these observations.
The essay of the venerable Thomas Clarkson is more remarkable for benevolence than for acumen. It evinces a justifiable fear of Puseyism, but is not quite the sort of production to cope with its subtleties. may, however, be useful in the circle in which the advocate for liberty to the slave now moves, It is without any of the acerbity of the controvertist; and, addressed to members of the Established Church, its arguments are much better suited to tell on them, than on members of our Methodist, or more evidently dissenting brethren. Mr. Munro's pamphlet is on the mode of baptism, and is as remarkable an instance of compression, as the bulky volume it exposes (Dr. Carson's) is of expansion; and the former in this, as in most other cases, is stronger than the latter. Dr. Carson's is an extraordinary book. He himself has passed to his account, but his book lives, and of this we hesitate not to speak. It would be a fearful thing to have such a writer for an enemy; if evil indeed, could accrue to us from abusive vituperation, scornful epithets, and harshly supercilious sentences. We have read a few books written in this style, but Dr. Carson's excels them all. Swift might hence have enriched his description of the Yahoos; and the old enemies of the Methodists, who, some fifty or sixty years since, sup. posed they had arrived at perfection in this style, had hid their
blushing faces in their silk aprons, lawn sleeves, or behind the covers of the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, could they but have had such a master as this. Here is "a king over all these children of pride."
What does such a style as Dr. Carson's evince? It certainly does not prove that the writer of it is ignorant or unlearned—for knowledge and learning are, unhappily, quite compatible with an ill-regulated temper; but it does prove the existence of great contempt for the opinions, the intellectual stores, and the mental powers of other men, and, moreover, no small amount of conceit, of self-sufficiency, and certain other unenviable dispositions, which shall be nameless. But yet more. Abusive epithets, and vituperative sentences and paragraphs, while they add not one jot nor tittle to the force of an argument, inevitably induce the suspicion, that the writer himself has some fears as to the strength of his position. They resemble that sound and fury to which, in the absence of thought, some public speakers have recourse. The arguments of a writer are not improved, while his reputation is put to fearful hazard by such a mode of conducting them. Far be it from us to say, that Dr. Carson was neither a scholar, a gentleman, nor a Christian. We fully believe he was the last; he had undoubtedly pretensions to the first; and it is now only this unfortunate volume of 513 pages in closely-printed octavo, that can introduce to any mind a doubt as to the second. But the true character of a man is not always seen in his controversial writings, especially when he is compelled, as every man must be who engages in the Baptist strife, to go over the oft and hard-trodden ground of verbal criticism. The very act of compiling, or even selecting and arranging such a mixed medley of dry materials, may well disturb the temper of a man who has no passion for the hortus siccus of etymology. Dr. C. has, indeed, hunted the panting syllables that compose the words Bán and Barrio, from land to land, and from clime to clime, of this babbling earth, till he appears bewildered with the chase. We question if the same unsteady and half-vacant state of the intellect, does not happen to ninety-nine out of every hundred of the long list of subscribers, who may, perhaps, travel through the volume.
One obvious remark-obvious we mean to those who are acquainted with the laws of language-may serve to show, how much labour has in this controversy been lost in etymological inquiries into the primate meaning of words, and the ideas associated with their derivations in cognate tongues. The sciolist in biblical literature ought to be fully aware that the Greek of the New Testament is not classical, and that the idiom is the idiom of the Septuagint, and this of the Hebrew, whence it was translated, and in not a few portions, literally transferred to the Greek. To assign, therefore, a classical meaning to a Greek word in the New Testament, especially when that word designates a
religious rite, may lead to the grossest misconception of the sacred writers. Etymology is not to be lost sight of; but here, as in every other case, it ought to be the servant, and not the master. It may afford a little occasional aid, but it ought never to be permitted to take the lead, to order, or to direct. On these grounds we regard a vast mass of the learned references, re-arranged, or perhaps re-collected, in Dr. C.'s, and in almost all books on each side of this controversy, as out of place, a mere waste of paper, print, time, thought, and learned inquiry. The question, in the interpretation of the New Testament, is not, What does the word βάπτω, or βαπτίζω, or any other word, Δικαιωμα for instance, mean in Homer, in Esculapius, or even in Xenophon? but, What is its import in the Septuagint, and in the New Testament? In the true meaning of a word, Homer is the best interpreter of Homer, Longinus of Longinus, Chrysostom of Chrysostom, and the New Testament of the New Testament. It would appear hypercritical, or idly inquisitive, in ascertaining the meaning of the word us in Homer, to search through all writers of Greek, and from their concurring use of the word, to prove that it must mean wrath, when the same word in the same sense, or in a sense slightly deviating from it, is to be found in this same writer, some fifteen or twenty times. The scholar will in such a case be satisfied with Homer; the pedant may accumulate a hundred more authorities. When Dr. C. has proved that the word βάπτω or βαπτίζω has only one meaning, or more than one, he has done just as much towards settling this controversy, as is done by an opponent who in the same manner attempts to prove, from the same source, something different. One passage of the Old or New Testament will avail, where a hundred classical quotations will not.
Take an example from Godwin, pp. 46-51. But let the reader bear in mind an important fact-namely, this is the first time that the word occurs in the Septuagint version. "And Naaman went down and baptized himself at the Jordan seven times, according to the bidding of Elisha, and his skin became again as the skin of a little child."
"What were the circumstances of this case? A Syrian officer of high rank, had long suffered from leprosy; and, hearing that there was a prophet in Israel by whom he might be healed, he came to seek his help. His disorder appears to have affected one part of his person, for he thought that the cure would be effected by the prophet's calling on the name of the Lord his God, and, putting his hand on the diseased place, that
* Καὶ κατεβη Ναιμαν καὶ ἐβαπτισατο εν τῷ Ιορδάνη ἐπτάκις. It is the Greek text that must determine the meaning, not the translation. This was made by those who favoured dipping; a mode of administering baptism which gradually crept in as the sensible and ritual grew into importance, and rose above the spiritual and simple; for dipping, with all that precedes, attends, and follows it, is much more imposing than the affusion now, happily, generally restored.
it might draw together, and be healed. Contrary to his expectation, Elisha did not even come down to him, when he stood at the door of his house, but sent by his servant this prescription; Go, and wash seven times at the Jordan, and thy flesh will return upon thee, and thou wilt be healed,' v. 10. Disappointed and indignant at the contempt with which he imagined he had been treated, and at the preference which he thought was given to the natural virtue of the Jewish waters, he resolved to return to his own land; that if he washed anywhere for his leprosy, it might be at Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus. But on the sensible and affectionate remonstrance of his servants, who reminded him how simple was the prophet's command—to wash that he might be healed—he changed his purpose, and, according to the direction of the man of God, he baptized himself. Now what is it likely that he did? and how is his action described? To reply to these questions, it is proper to ascertain what was the washing required by the Mosaic law in cases of leprosy, since this would determine the common practice; and the law and the practice together would probably determine the action of Naaman, and the language both of the historian and the translator. The law is given, Lev. xiv. 7: ‘And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed for the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean. And he that is to be cleansed, shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself with water, that he may be clean.' This law consists of two parts, the first is ceremonial, the second is sanatory. The sprinkling seven times, was the testimony given by the priest to the leper's cure, and readmitted him to his social and religious privileges. The subsequent washing and shaving seem designed to remove the danger of infection. Now since the cure was in this case miraculous and complete, it is as likely that the prophet, in his direction, if he referred to the law, referred to what was ceremonial, as to what was sanatory. When he told the Syrian to wash seven times, he might allude to the seven sprinklings, which were usually received by the leper, as much as to the two washings and shavings of the whole person, which, with the interval of a week, were afterwards attended to. But if it be supposed, that it was to the latter that he referred, or that his direction merely corresponded to this part of the Mosaic law, then it is certain that the law did not enjoin dipping; and it is most improbable, that not being required, it should be generally practised. It is not impossible that Naaman dipped himself seven times in the river, but it is improbable, for the following reasons. 1st. He was only required to wash, and this term is repeated twice afterwards. 2nd. What he was to do is represented as a small thing. 3rd. His temper of mind was not that which would lead him to do more than was enjoined. And 4th. His action is stated to have been in accordance with the prophet's command. But to have dipped himself dressed would not have been the washing required. To have dipped himself, undressed, in public, would have been a needless and offensive operation. “But whatever may have been the mode in which Naaman obeyed the prophet's order, that his action is not described as a dipping is evident, from these considerations. 1st. If so ordinary a signification was to be expressed, Bánтw, or some common word might be expected, and not a word whose rare occurrence indicates that it had already some peculiarity of meaning, like that which it is found to possess afterwards. 2nd. There is nothing to show that dipping was in the thoughts of the writer, for there is no word in the context, and nothing in the scope of the passage, having the least relation thereto. On the contrary, while apart from the supposed signification of the word itself, there is nothing to lead to the supposition that Naaman was dipped, we know that he was cleansed. The action, however, performed, was a purification, and that it is presented by the historian under this aspect is probable. For, 1st, it is three times referred to under this aspect, as a washing, the end being expressed, and not the mode. 2nd. The cure is described immediately