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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From The Baptist Reporter, 1858
To the Editor of The Baptist Reporter:
I am a young Baptist, and have only seen your Reporter for Jan., 1858. Having recently joined the body, I inquired for one of the publications published by the Baptists, and a minister directed me to the Reporter, with which I am quite delighted. It occurred to me that I would mention a few of the objections to believers’ baptism which I met with whilst I was among the Independents. I am a young man, and am occasionally engaged in giving a word of exhortation to my neighbours; but I am what is called a “self-educated man,” for I have had to pick up what little knowledge I have obtained; and therefore I trust you will excuse the imperfections which you may discover in this communication.
When among the Independents, in conversations with my fellow-members, the subject of baptism was at times introduced, when one or another would say, “Well; I do think that the Baptists are right, and that their mode of administering the ordinance is scriptural.” “Well,” was my reply, “if you consider that the Baptists are right, and that their mode is scriptural, why not join them, and be right too, and observe that which you say is scriptural?”
The reply they generally gave was, “Oh, it is so inconvenient; and if we are baptized, we shall be expected to join the Baptist body, and then what will our minister and the people say? I do not think it matters much.”
It appeared to me an odd thing for them so to acknowledge their duty, and then give such feeble reasons for declining. I could not but wonder what there could be in believers’ baptism that made the ordinance so objectionable.
I talked with other friends on the matter, but was annoyed by their ignorance. They knew not so much as he who was enquiring. Some said, “Oh, these baptists think all wrong but themselves. Have nothing to do with them.” Others said, “Such a mode would suit a warm climate very well, where the people are in the habit of constantly bathing, but not a cold country like ours.” Others “thought that there was something very indecent about it.”
I then spake to a more intelligent class, and they informed me “that Christ only intended the ordinance to be observed by his servants in heathen lands, where Christianity was unknown, so that the converts to the gospel, by that ordinance, might publicly disown and cast off all their old heathenish practices.”
Others reminded me, “that if I was going to enquire into such a subject, perhaps I would inform them why Christians do not recline at the table and take the bread and break it into pieces, instead of having it partly cut.”
Such were some of the helps I met with in the path of enquiry, from persons who professed to make the New Testament their rule of practice.
There are many in the Independent and other bodies who can say no more than the above. Why? Because, like those I have already mentioned, they have never thoroughly and impartially examined the subject. Ask them whether they have looked through the New Testament for instances of Infant Baptism; they reply, “No”. Ask them whether they have for evidence of believers’ baptism; they give the same reply.
Dissatisfied with such evasions, I resolved to search the New Testament for myself, with prayer for Divine guidance, and the result was that I became a Baptist.
Editor’s Note: An Independent was not a Baptist; it was a split from the Presbyterians.