A Defense of Credo-Baptism

I testify that baptism or dipping in water is one of the commandment of this Lord

Jesus Christ.

By John Clark, Physician of Rhode Island in America, 1652

That this commandment of Jesus is by way of dipping, and, as it were by drowning, overwhelming or burying in water and not by sprinkling with water, appears many ways.

1. In that although there be frequent mention made of that appointment of Christ in His last will and testament, yet is it never expresses by the word that may be rendered rantism, or sprinkling, but by the word that is rendered baptism, or dipping.

2. In that the word by which it is so frequently expressed doth in proper English signify to dip, to plunge under water, and as it were, to drown, but yet so as with safety so that the party (as to the manner) may be drowned again and again, see the instance of Naaman. He dipped himself seven times in Jordan (2 King5:14) and to this sense of the word (at least in that place) both the Greek, Latin and English Churches agree.

3. In that the phrase (in which there is mention made of such an appointment of Christ) doth necessarily import such a thing, and, therefore, when mention is made of baptizing, there generally followeth that word the preposition (iv) which is commonly translated in or into which suits the dipping, and not the preposition (sun) which signifies with and so suit with sprinkling. It may as well be rendered I baptize you in water and he shall baptize in the Holy Spirit (Mar 1:8) as it is rendered John did baptize in the wilderness and in the river of Jordan (vs 4, 5) or that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Rev 1:10) and they were baptized in the cloud and in the Sea (1 Cor 10:2). Yea, it might as well be rendered I baptize, or dip you, into water as it is rendered they were casting a net into the Sea (Mar 1:16) for the words are the same and it would be an improper speech to say John did baptize with the wilderness and they were casting a net with the Sea.

4. That this appointment of Christ is by way of dipping, and not sprinkling, appears in that for the resemblance and likeness hereunto. The Israelites passing under the cloud and through the Sea where the Egyptians that were their lords and commanders, their pursuers and enemies, that sought their destruction were drowned, left behind and seen no more, is by the Holy Spirit called a baptism (1 Cor 10:1,2) They were baptized in the cloud etc. Observe, it is not here rendered with the cloud and with the Sea, as in the other place (Mar 1:8) with water, because it suits with sprinkling although the word be the same, but in the cloud and in the Sea which suits with dipping or overwhelming. So, with the appointment of Christ, they passing through the midst of the red or bloody Sea on dry land which stood on both sides as a wall, and being under the Cloud, were as men, in a carnal eye, overwhelmed and drowned and yet truly saved and safe from their enemies.

5. That this appointment of Christ was not by sprinkling, but by dipping, or putting the person into or under the water appears by Phillip’s baptizing the Eunuch. It is said They went down into the water, both Philip the baptizer and the Eunuch that was the person to be baptized, and being there in the water, Philip baptized, or dipped him in that water as John did Jesus in the river of Jordan. Then it is said as they descended, or went down into the water, so they ascended or went straight way up out of the water. See Acts 8:38, 39; Matt 3:16. Mark the expression: “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water..”, therefore had he been down in the water.

6. That this appointment of Christ was not by sprinkling, but by dipping, or , as it were a drowning, appears in that John the Baptizer, his work being to baptize, remains in the wilderness by the river of Jordan and afterward in Aenon. The reason that this is rendered by the Spirit of God why there he abode, was, because there was much water there, which need not have been if that appointment could have been performed by sprinkling and not by dipping. See Luke 3:2,3 John 3:23.

7. That this appointment of Christ was not to be performed by sprinkling, but by dipping etc. Appears from the nature of the Ordinance itself. It is such an Ordinance as whereby the person that submitteth thereto doth visibly put on Christ Jesus the Lord and is hereby visibly planted into His death, holding forth therein a lively similitude and likeness unto His death. Whereby only through faith he now professeth he hath escaped death and is in hope to obtain life and peace everlasting and so to have fellowship with Him in His death as to be dead with Him and thereupon to reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin, Satan, the law and the curse. See Gal 3:27; Rom 8:2,3; 5:7,8,11; 1 Cor 15:29. But the planting of a person into the likeness of death is no ways resembled by sprinkling. But by dipping it is lively set forth and demonstrated.

8. This appointment of Christ, Baptism, is an ordinance whereby the person that submitteth thereto, doth visibly and clearly resemble the burial of Christ, and his being buried with Him. So, as in respect of the old man, the former lusts and conversation, like the Egyptians, to be taken out of the way and seen no more. See Romans 6:4,6; Col 2:12. But sprinkling doth no way lively resemble the burial of Christ, or the persons being buried with Him as dipping doth.

 9. This appointment of Christ, Baptism, is an ordinance whereby the person that submitteth thereto doth visibly and lively hold forth herein the resurrection of Christ, declares Him Whose life was taken from the Earth to be alive again, Who although he died and was buried, yet was He not left in the grave to see corruption, but was raised again and behold He liveth for evermore. As hereby he holds forth the resurrection of Christ, so doth he also his own being planted in the likeness thereof so as to reckon himself to be in his soul and spirit quickened and risen with Christ from henceforth to live unto God the fountain of life and to Christ Jesus the Lord Who died for him, and rose again and so to walk in newness of life in this present evil world, being also begotten unto a lively hope that in the world to come, he shall be raised and quickened both in should and body to a life everlasting. See (Rom 6:4,5,8,11; Acts 8:33,35,36; Col 2:12; Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:29; 1 Pet 1:3. Sprinkling doth no way lively resemble the resurrection of Christ, or the souls or bodies rising, or being raised by Him, as the way of dipping doth. Therefore, this appointment of Christ was, and still is, to be performed by way of dipping or putting the person into or under the water and not by sprinkling.

 That this dipping in or into water in the name of Jesus is one of the commandments of this Lord Jesus Christ doth evidently appear Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15, 16 compared with Acts 2:38, 41; 8:36, 38 and 10:47, 48. And that it is also to be observed by all that trust in Christ, as other of is commands, as He is Lord, until He come again, is likewise expressly manifested to be His will: Matt 28:20; Gal 1:7, 8; Jude 3; 2 Tim 2:2; Col 2:5, 6; Rev 2:25; 3:11 Hold fast till I come. Rev 22:14, 19; Heb 12:25

A visible believer or disciple of Christ Jesus (that is, one that manifesteth repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ) is the only person that is to be baptized with that visible baptism or dipping of Jesus Christ in water

 That a visible disciple or scholar of Christ, one that manifesteth himself to have heard Him, to have been taught by Him and to have yielded himself to Him as his teacher, is the only person, etc. Will be made manifest:

 1. By the commission itself and the argument stands thus-they and they only have right t this ordinance and appointment of Jesus Christ, whom the Ordainer Himself, Christ Jesus the Lord, hath appointed it to disciples and to believers and to such only. The first proposition cannot be denied and the second will easily be roved. See the commission by which the apostles were warranted to administer this ordinance. So must all baptize or they will appear but usurpers (Mat 28:18, 19). All power is given to me in heaven and in earth, saith the Lord, Go ye therefore and disciplize or make disciples not among the Jews only, but among the Gentiles and Nations and baptize them. If the question should have been made, Lord whom shall we baptize of the Nations among the Jews and Gentiles? His answer was given in the words before. He would have given no other. You shall baptize amongst the Nations Jews and Gentiles, such as first been taught, and by teaching have been made my disciples. Mar 16:16 go ye into all the World, saith the Lord, and preach the gospel to every creature-to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved etc. If the question should be here propounded again who among the religious and strict Jews and the loose and profane Gentiles should be baptized, the answer is plain-those to whom the Gospel first hath been preached and they through that Gospel have also believed.

 2. By the practice of the commissioners of Christ who were faithful unto their Lord and to the charge which He gave them. The argument stands thus: Such as faithful Apostles, and first commissioners of Christ Jesus the Lord administered this ordinance of baptism unto such and only such ought to be made partakers thereof. But the Apostles and first commissioners of Christ administered not this ordinance unto carnal babes, infants of days(these are by the scriptures declared to be conceived in sin to be brought forth in iniquity, and in being born of the flesh to be but flesh, and so by nature the Children of wrath, one as well as another, being also untaught), but to such as first were taught and were ordained by the immortal seed of the world to be born again and as new born babes in Christ, having tasted of the sincere milk of the word, desire still more of the same that they might grow up thereby and such as appeared to be converted and to become as little ones, such little ones as believed in Jesus.

 The first proposition I suppose none that own Christ and his Apostles will dare to deny. And the second which is more questionable will also be proved. See Acts 2:38, etc. Although Peter with the 11 calls upon the convicted Jews to repent and to be baptized every one in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, and tells them that then they shall be made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and that they should not need to distrust it, he shows them the largeness of the promise that was made concerning the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit, it being promised to be poured forth upon all flesh as they had expressed in the beginning of their discourse out of Joel 5:16, 17 and therefore saith ‘tis to you and to your children and to all that are a far off even as many(of you, your children and such as are a far off) as the Lord our God shall call. Yet, he baptized none, but such as were called by the holding forth the word of salvation by Jesus Christ as appears in the words. For they that gladly received his word were baptized and they only, for they that were baptized were added and continued together in the disciples’ doctrine and in fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayer and continued daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. This place, therefore, if rightly considered, will be so far from affording a ground for the baptizing of the children of believing parents, because here it is said the promise is to you and your children, that it will sufficiently evince the contrary. Such an apprehension is accompanied with 2 or 3 evident mistakes. There is a mistake in the promise, in the parties to whom the promise belongs and the manner how it is to them and their children.

 1. There is a mistake if the promise in that it is looked at as the covenant of Grace which doth ingratiate the soul into and gives it an interest in all the privileges of the Gospel of Christ. So in order doth go before baptism or any other visible ordinance and appointment of His whereas is very truth by promise there, is meant that Holy Spirit of promise which they which believed in Christ, and obeyed Him, should, according to promise, receive after He was ascended unto the right hand of the Father as appears John 7:39; 14:16; 16:7. That which He had here shed abroad in a powerful manner upon the Apostles, and that which these Jews also believing and obeying the Gospel of Christ should also receive and therefore saith Peter, Repent and be baptized and ye shall receive etc. And was no other than that which was of old prophesied of by Joel as is declared in v.16 and so is a promise that follows faith and obedience and not such as goes before to give right to this appointment of Christ.

 2. There is a mistake in the parties to whom the promise belongs. For whereas it is said to you and to your children, and thereupon it is conceived to be meant believers, and their infants of days which upon that account are to be baptized, it is plain and evident when the apostle spoke these words to them, they could not be looked upon as believers, forasmuch as they being pricked at the heart and only convinced of their evil in murdering the Lord of life, propounded what they should do to be saved which is far from believing. To which the apostle replies, Repent and be baptized in the name of the Jesus for the remission of sins. To conceive that by their children were meant infants of days, it may be as well as understood by your sons and daughters which should so receive of the promise of the Spirit as to prophecy mentioned in the seventeenth verse of this chapter to which these words are related: and to make it appear that the promise was not so either to them or their children (as yet manifested) to give them right unto baptism. After many more words used by the apostle to persuade them to save themselves from this adulterous generation, it is said, but as many as gladly received his word, were baptized and but only such and not their infants of days. They that were baptized continued together in such appointments of Christ as infants are in no measure capable of.

3. There is a mistake in the manner how this promise is to them and their children, not spoken to them now as believers and their children as having right and interest peculiar by them, but, indeed, to them and their children no otherwise than to all that are a far off. If taken in the general, cannot be understood but with respect to the general promise which is to pour forth His Spirit upon all flesh. But, if with the restriction, which is, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, then parents and children, Jews and Gentiles, such as are near, and such as are a far off, must be called by the word of His grace before they can have a peculiar right and interest in this Spirit of promise. So a child that is called to believe and obey the Gospel may have this promise made good unto him before his father, and a Gentile that is a far off before a Jew that is near.

This will appear also by other instances as of Philip baptizing in Samaria. They were men and women that he baptized there, such as believed and received the word with great joy (Acts 8:8, 12). When the Eunuch seeing the water, asked what should let him to be baptized. Philip intimates that although he had been taught, yet want of a manifestation of faith would be a let (v. 36, 37) and whereas there is mention made of whole houses that were baptized, that the commissioner might appear faithful unto their Lord, and keep close to the very words of their commission, you shall find they were first taught, and by teaching, were made His disciples, and gladly received His word. See it in Cornilius’ household (Acts 10:44, 47) compared with the jailers’ household (Acts 16: 32, 34). They spake unto him the word of God and unto all that were in his house, and he set meat before them, and rejoicing, believing in God with all his house. See it also in Crispus’ household (Acts 18: 8-11), Stephanus’ household (1 Cor 1:16, 17 compared with 16:15). And as for Lydia’s household (Acts 16), the Spirit of God being more silent therein, they that cannot interpret it by the other four, nor yet by the commission itself, nor by the commissioners’ faithful observance thereof in all other instances, let them prove, if they can, these three particulars: a. That Lydia ever had a husband. B. In case she had, that ever she had any children by him, and if so, then in the c. That they were not dead or so grown up that they might hear and receive the word gladly as well as their mother.

 A third argument to prove that a visible believer is the person that according to the mind of Christ is to be baptized in water may be taken from the order which the Spirit of Christ lays down: faith and baptism, in the scriptures of truth, putting faith still in the first place witness Mark 16: 15, 16, Matt 28: 19; Heb 6; Eph 4.

 A fourth argument may be taken from the nature of the ordinance and a fifth from John’s baptism. Yea, much more might be said to this point, but this may suffice.

 The only person that is to walk in the visible order of his house and so to wait for his coming the second time in the form of a Lord and King with his glorious Kingdom according to promise.

 That he is the only person that is to enter into and walk in the visible order of His house will evidently appear, if the order in which our Lord left His house when he went to His father to receive His Kingdom, be duly considered. In His last will and testament, we shall find it thus recorded. When our Lord was about to be gone, he gave order unto His apostles whom He made stewards in His house of the mysteries of God to make Him disciples of all Nations and that such as were to be made should then be baptized and so visibly be planted into Christ and put on Christ, and having so received Him, should walk in Him, observing all things whatsoever He had commanded. The first thing whereof as touching order was to be added or joined one to another in the fellowship of the Gospel by a mutual professed subjection to the Scepter of Christ and being a company thus called out of the world, from worldly vanities, and worldly worships after Christ Jesus the Lord (which is the proper English of these words-the Church of Christ, and is in other terms called the Household of faith) should steadfastly continue together in the Apostles’ doctrine, the consolation, reproof, and instruction thereof, in fellowship, the mutual support both inward and outward, in breaking of bread, thereby remembering the death of our Lord whose soul was made an offering for sin. As His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood drink indeed by the help of the Spirit to nourish our souls and spirits up unto eternal life and in prayer, one with and for another. This is the absolute order which the Lord hath appointed in His last will and testament. This appeareth both by His own precept and command, and by the practice of such as first trusted in Him. And, if so, then neither infants of days, nor yet such as profess themselves to be believers in Jesus, but refuse as a manifestation thereof, according to the practice of such as first trusted in Christ, to yield themselves to be planted into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and so visibly to put Christ on, as did the Christians of old, I say, such have no right to enter into, or walk in the order of the Gospel of Christ. To conclude the point the argument stands thus: they, and they only , have visible right to enter and walk in the visible order of Christ’s house, and so to wait for His coming, whom Christ Jesus Himself being the Lord of the house, hath appointed, and His Apostles being His stewards, have approved of, but such as first have been taught and made disciples or scholars of Jesus and believers in Christ, and afterwards have been baptized or dipped and thereby visible and lively planted in to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, are they, and they only, whom Christ hath appointed and the apostles approved of. See His commission. Peruse their practice, ergo, they and they only have visible right to enter into and walk in the order of Christ’s house and so to wait for His coming the second time in the for of a King with His glorious Kingdom according to promise. See for a further confirmation of the last clause in the first epistle to the Corinthians !: 7; 1 The 1: 10; 2 The 3: 5.

8 thoughts on “A Defense of Credo-Baptism

  1. According to the encyclopedia of “Religion” infant baptism was a religious practice of ancient Egypt. The command of God is “Do not practice the customs of the Egyptians.”
    In regard to the entry Way into the church Jesus is head of first it is necessary to hear their message then obey it.

  2. And history records that the first “Christian” baptism of infants took place in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. as a superstitious “safeguard” for infants that were close to death. Then people thought if it was good enough for ill infants, it was good for all infants. And then the state church saw that they could use infant baptism records to tax people and control them. And the entire paedo-baptist system of theology was constructed to support infant baptism, rather than from a humble study of God’s Word.

  3. Just amused at the implied rewrite of the scriptures by the anti-dippers….I sprinkle with water but He will sprinkle with the Holy spirit.

  4. T.I. – you well see the inherent problem with paedobaptist theology: it requires Scripture be re-written :-) An honest paedobaptist will admit that one cannot support the practice from Scripture, but only by argument based on a presupposition.

  5. Manfred, I’ve always been struck by the account of the Ethiopian eunuch. Obviously, it says they went down into the water, and came up out of it, but those who believe in sprinkling / pouring can say that it doesn’t say how deep the water was.

    But the thing in that account that simply makes me wonder how anyone could see it as anything but requiring immersion is that they stopped the chariot. The eunuch must have been a passenger, because he’d been reading. So they didn’t have to stop the chariot if sprinkling was acceptable. And they simply wouldn’t have been cruising across the desert in a chariot without water. So if he wanted to be sprinkled or poured upon, he could have just grabbed the water bottle and said, “Here it is, Philip, sprinkle me!”

    And isn’t that what you’d do in the circumstance, if that was considered acceptable? Rather than stop the chariot in the middle of the desert and go down into the water, wouldn’t you just do the sprinkle thing and go on? This account seems to me compelling, not only that he was immersed, but that immersion was the only thing that was considered acceptable.

  6. I agree Jon – but men have an inclination to irrationally cling to their presuppositions, even when Scripture is clearly opposed. May it not be so among us!

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