Page images

most common sense, as referring to the administration of the rite of baptism; and have therefore set themselves to wrest a meaning suited to their purpose out of ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν. The most successful perhaps is Werenfels, a translation of whose remarks was published in the Lit. and Evan. Mag. for Jan. 1823. He gives to vExpoí the meaning assigned to it above; but by retaining the religious sense of Barril, he has encumbered himself with difficulties that could be removed only by a train of reasoning; which, after all, brings him, if any where, to the sentiment above given. Some suppose that the plural is used by enallage for the singular, and that vexpoímeans Christ ; others consider it as equivalent to θάναros death, and suppose it refers to baptism on account of approaching death, like the extreme unction of the Catholics; others again, as Chrysostom, Hammond, Wetstein, &c. think o vexpoí to be put instead of the resurrection of the dead, and that the Apostle would ask, 'why, if they did not believe there was a resurrection, they were yet baptized into the profession of such a belief?' All these are mere conjectures, and one is therefore of just as much value as another; and they all make the passage amount only to an argumentum ad hominem. Others suppose that ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν means over the sepulchres of the dead, referring to the place of baptism; but it is at least difficult to discover what this would have to do with the Apostle's argument. LeClerc on no authority thinks that rέp means dvrí, and that instead of those who had been removed by death, new converts were pressing forward to receive baptism and supply their places. Others refer up τῶν νεκρῶν to the cheerfulness which was manifested by Christians in the hour of death, on account of which many were induced to embrace Christianity and be baptised. But the most simple interpretation, apart from the one above given, (so far as

Should it be objected, that the view above presented, (1.) of the meaning of the word Barrigw, goes to show that the original mode of administering the rite of baptism was probably by immersion, and that

the mere words are concerned,) is therefore we are bound to follow that

that which refers the expression to vicarious baptism, by which, it is said, if any one died while a catechumen before he had received baptism, another person was baptized in his name and place; by which ceremo ny the dead person received all the benefits of the rite. This opinion is adopted by Grotius and Michaelis. But that such a custom prevailed in the time of Paul, there is no evidence whatever ab extra; there is no other passage in the N. T. which can be construed into the remotest allusion to it; nor is there any hint of such a custom in the ancient history of the Church,except among the Marcionites as mentioned by Tertullian (adv. Marcion.) and even they would seem to have adopted it in their scrupulous observance of the precepts of Paul through a misconstruction of this very passage. In later ages, indeed, we read of the custom of administering baptism, and even the eucharist, to the dead bodies of catechumens (Canones Concil. Carthag. XVIII or XIX. LXXXIII.) in order, probably, that they might enjoy the benefit of the prayers of the church, which were not offered up for any who were not in full communion. In this, however, there was nothing vicarious. But granting that such a custom did exist, this mode of explanation would convert the powerful appeal of the Apostle to his state of danger and of suffering-an appeal upon which he dwells emphatically in the three succeeding verses, into a mere argumentum ex concessis; and that too in respect to a custom which Paul certainly would be the last to sanction, and which, being in itself groundless, would of course render his argument comparatively trivial.

bound to retain the modus in the one
case, when it is universally neglected
in the other? Is the rite of baptism
of greater consequence than that of
the Lord's supper? Is there a more
important difference between immer-
sion and affusion or sprinkling, than
there is between leavened and un-
leavened bread? or between the
highly emblematic wine of Palestine
and the unwholesome mixtures with
which our communion tables are
served? or between an upright and
a recumbent posture? or between
that striking ceremony of bathing the
disciples' feet as performed by our
Lord himself, and the utter neglect
of it by all his followers? Or, in
itself considered, does the value of
the baptismal rite depend on the
quantity of water employed? Does
the mere fact that he has been im-
mersed, enable a Christian to 'wor
ship God in spirit and in truth,' more
than if he had received the rite by
sprinkling or affusion? In short,
of the greater consequence,
the sign itself, or the thing signified?
the modus, or the res ipsa? When
all these questions, and many others
which may be put, shall have been
satisfactorily answered, I shall be
ready to admit the inference which I
have above denied.

mode at the present day; I readily
concede the fact, but do not admit the
inference. In all his external con-
duct, his teaching, his dress, his food,
his worship, &c. our Lord conform-
ed himself to the customs of his coun-
try. The same is true of the exter-
nal ordinances of his religion, bap-
tism and the Lord's supper. In the
former, in that hot country where bath-
ing was a luxury, and where it was
already known and practised as a
part of religious worship, (Lev. xvii.
15, 16. 22: 6. Num. xix. 7;) he
adopted it as the sign of initiation in-
to the faith and profession of his re-
ligion. In the latter, he partook of
the sacred meal in an upper cham-
ber, the usual apartment among the
Jews for eating; he broke for his
disciples the unleavened bread of the
passover, there being no other on
that day throughout the country;
the wine which he poured out was
probably the common red wine of
that region, a most significant em-
blem of blood; and they all partook
of the repast while placed as usual
around the low table in a recumbent
posture. After the supper too, we
are informed by John (xiii. 4.) that
Jesus girded himself with a cloth, and
washed his disciples' feet. Now I
would ask, by what authority are we


For the Christian Spectator. Remarks on the manner of celebrating our National Independence. To celebrate the anniversary of any national blessing in a mode calculated to destroy that blessing is surely irrational and pernicious. Independence is indeed a blessing, yet who will deny that we are independent no longer than we are a virtuous and christian nation? Can it then be maintained that the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon, and the release of a great part of the pop

ulation, not only from the restraints of industrious employment, but too often from the laws of morality, has a tendency to improve our morals and to give permanence to our national independence? And who does not know that, in the apprehension of many, the laws of morality are on this day somewhat relaxed? That many in honour of the day are not ashamed to do what on other days would be illicit? A little boisterous mirth, a little tipsy patriotism, is not only allowable but even commendable.

Nor can much be said in favour of the numerous effusions with which, under the name of orations we are deluged. Perhaps a few good ones are to be found, like angels' visits, few and far between. But could the majority of them live long enough to exert any influence on our national character, or to cross the Atlantic, their weak politics, gasconading eulogiums, improbable anticipations, and universal denunciations of all sorts of government except our own, would justly render us contemptible. Their effects might be positively injurious were they not, happily, too weak to be felt. Particularly would this be the case when, as too often happens, they are made the instruments of inflaming party feeling alienating still more those who are already too much alienated, and cutting the cords of national strength. If any man deserves to be detested, it is he who can by sectional considerations and party prejudices pollute the sacred feelings which belong to the birth day of our country,--that day when all hearts should throb in unison.

By these considerations I do not intend to deny the propriety of celebrating the day, nor do I object to the firing of cannon, or the ringing of bells, or any other indications of joy in themselves innocent. But I do object not only to all that has a direct demoralizing tendency but to the entire prevalence of those indications of joy that are in themselves neutral. There should be some positive moral and elevating influence exerted. For on a day of so much excited and irregular feeling, unless some good object is presented, or some restraining influence exerted, unless something of a more than neutral character is done, it is almost inevitable that hurtful excesses will prevail.

Anuiversaries and public days, if well conducted, are useful in many respects. They tend to awaken the energies of society, to give a healthy tone to the public feeling, to diffuse

information and to banish that sluggishness and narrowness of mind which are necessarily produced by seclusion and exclusive attention to local or individual interests. Men need to expand their minds, and to look abroad on the state of nations and of the world, that their mental energies may not wax small for want of excitement or their social feelings grow torpid for want of considerations calculated to exercise them.

But on such occasions true political wisdom is always conversant with facts; leaving the regions of fancy to the poet or speculatist. The true state of the nation, the means of national prosperity, our greatest dangers, with the means of avoiding them, are always important and useful subjects of consideration on public and national festivals. But no politics are perfect that do not practically acknowledge and bring into view the government of God. A nation where the eternal realities of the Christian religion do not exert a general and powerful influence is on the road to ruin. Human depravity makes government necessary, and is at the same time the source of national dangers and decay; and the Christian religion alone purifies the heart and lays deep the foundations of national independence and happiness.

Many who are not experimental christians, and even infidels, compelled by facts, pay homage to christianity and acknowledge its beneficial effects. Ought not christians then, in all proper cases, to exert that moral influence which christianity throws into their hands? If christians really feel that the religion of the bible alone can purify the nation and establish our government immovably, are they not bound to enlarge the sphere of its operations as far as possible ?-Let infidel politicians and the wise men of this world sneer-can this alter facts? Shall christians shut their eyes because others are blind? Shall those who know and feel make concessions

tions, yet the spirit by which these are done is entirely at her control.

to the ignorant and senseless? It is then greatly to be desired that the celebration of the anniversary of our independence should assume a religious aspect, that the christian community should on that day thankfully and publicly acknowledge the national blessings for which we are indebted to the God of nations, confess national sins, and implore forgiveness and continued mercy. In all this there is something so rational, so dignified, and so elevating, that it commends itself immediately to the heart and to the understanding. No rights of conscience are violated. Those who dislike religion can do what they please; but let christians make the day an occasion of exerting a powerful moral influence for the good of the nation. And the God of Hosts will look down with approbation, and He by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, will save by his own right hand, and be our ruler and guide.

Before I close I will suggest some considerations respecting a portion of the inhabitants of our country to whom the yearly return of the day which freemen hail with transport, brings no joy for the past, and no hope for the uture. Surely compassion for them is no crime, whom neither liberty, nor intellectual enjoyment, nor christianity consoles. There is here no occasion for irritating expressions or hostile feelings. An immense evil exists, and there is room for benevolent feeling in attempting to remove or lessen it. An attempt of this kind has been made by the American Colonization Society, and surely, it is the part of every christian patriot to assist this effort or to disclose a better plan. And it is worthy of the serious consideration of the christian public, and of all freemen, whether a contribution yearly raised throughout the United States on the anniversary of our independence, for the sake of assisting the funds of this society, would not materially benefit the cause of liberty and religion. D. R.

It is the glory of Christianity that though sublime in theory, it is no less perfect in its practical tendency: it is designed and it ought to govern all things. Much has been said, and often justly said, against introducing politics into religion; but who will say that religion should not be introduced into politics? Is it a fact that the author of christianity governs every movement of every earthly government, and are there those who think that christianity has nothing to do with politics? He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision."

It is not indeed the part of Christianity to forget her heavenly character; her kingdom is not of this world, but she bears with her the light of eternity to illuminate the transactions of time; she points out to the elector, to the lawgiver, to the judge, the path of duty, and the consequences of transgression to the government and to the people. Though she does not make laws, or directly regulate national transac

To the Editor of the Christian Spectator Inquiry respecting the Authority of

the Saybrook Platform.

Many of the ministers and intelligent lay-members of the Congrega. tional churches in this State, are of the opinion, that a more intimate and definite union of all the churches in the State than that which at present exists, is both expedient and practicable. It is now more than a century, since the "Saybrook Platform,” our only formulary of fellowship among separate churches, was adopted. In several sections of the State, the authority of this instrument is but partially admitted. Its provisions have been gradually sus pended, either by customs or by consociational or associational rules, oc

casioned by the changes which so long a period produces, in the principles and circumstances of christians. Reference to the Platform" as a standard, is now seldom made in deliberations on "church order and discipline," and when made, it is rather as evidence of the principles and proceedings of our fathers, than as decisive of what should be our own. So feeble, indeed, is the influence of that ancient ecclesiastical code, that for the most part, cases of discipline and fellowship, whether they respect the internal govern ment of single churches, or the external relations of neighbouring churches, are determined by the general precepts of the gospel and the known and ancient habits of the people, as interpreted and applied by the parties themselves. Traditionary and oral law is subject to the caprice of expediency, and to the violence of passion. A written constitution of uncertain meaning and authority is nugatory. If then it be important to the peace and harmony of single churches,that they should maintain christian intercourse, it is essential that the nature and terms of their fellowship should be definite and certain. I beg leave, therefore, to call the attention of yourself or your correspondents to this subject. I wish to be informed what is, or what ought to be, the authority of Say

brook Platform over the ministers and churches in this state? Whether that instrument needs a revision, or whether a system, new in some particulars, is demanded by the "signs of the times ?" Will a general consociation consolidate the energies, and thereby increase the strength and bring out the resources of our churches? An answer to these inquiries will be thankfully received by

[ocr errors]

The Pastor of a Church in Connecticut.

[blocks in formation]

Oh, dread and silent Mount! Igaz'd upTill thou, still present to the bodily sense, Didst vanish from my thought: entranced

on thee,

in prayer, I worshipped the Invisible alone. Yet like some sweet beginning melody,

So sweet we know not we are listening to it,

Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my thought,

Yea with my life, and life's own secret
Till the dilating soul, enwrapt, transfused,
Into the mighty vision passing :-there,
As in her natural form, swelled vast to


Awake, my Soul! not alone these swelling tears,

Mute thanks, and secret ecstasy! awake,
Voice of sweet song! awake, my heart,
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my

Hymn !

Thou, first, and chief, sole Sovran of the vale!

Or struggling with the darkness of the night,

And visited all night by troops of stars, Or when they climb the sky, or when they sink :

Companion of the Morning Star at dawn, Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn Co-herald wake, O wake, and utter


Who sunk thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?

Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?

Who made thee Parent of perpetual streams?

« PreviousContinue »