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III. We have still before us the question of the Mode of baptism. We propose remarking upon it, however, only as it stands connected with its import.
Those, who agree with us that consecration is its central and predominant idea, and that infant baptism is binding, will have little hesitation about the propriety of some simpler method than immersion. For, the essential idea of the rite being the consecration of the individual to the Trinity, the mode of using the water to set forth this idea, as God has not intimated his will, at once sinks to a place of secondary and comparatively trivial importance; and sprinkling or effusion is as appropriate and suggestive as immersion, for this purpose. Indeed, it is probable that, had not the Christian Fathers exalted the element of purification in this rite above its central and primary import, they never would have gone to the extreme of trine and nude immersion, as it is certain many of them did.1 The excess to which they carried the baptismal act, reveals their wrong notions of its import and use; and, as purification was to be gained by baptism, they held it safe to have enough of it. It is probable also, that such modern writers as Neander and Bunsen never would have taken up the belief, in the confessed absence of any historical evidence to that effect, that immersion was the mode of baptism first practised in the christian church,— unless from their psychological and dogmatic peculiarities, they had been swayed more by the metaphorical references to this rite in the Scriptures, where its indirect purificatory import is referred to, than by those passages where the rite of baptism is itself the subject of remark, and where its import may be gathered directly and unequivocally. Missing the consccratory nature of the rite, exalting a minor and incidental element above its central and primary import, and then seizing on figurative expressions, where this subordinate meaning is alluded to, as the key to the mode of baptism, it is not strange that they should think that immersion was the primitive
1 "Apostolic Baptism," pp. 158, 165, 179.
method; although they do not regard it as essential or important that modern Christians should adopt it. And, moreover, those Christians who do regard the mode as essential, and consider immersion that mode, and whose denominational existence depends on the maintenance of these views, are in great measure led to this unnatural and unevangelical1 magnifying of the form of a rite, by their mistaken estitimate of its import and design. Let them see that it is dedicatory, and the charm of immersion over the imagination is broken.
In adhering, therefore, closely to the native import of the institution, we escape the powerful, though it may be unconscious, motive to give an undue prominence to immersion; and are left to consider any mode proper which brings out the idea of the consecration, — especially since neither Christ n or the Apostles have intimated a preference for any particular mode.
The essential thing in this rite we regard to be consecration to the Father, Son, and Spirit by the solemn use of water; the mode being left by Christ, as in the case of the other institutions of the gospel, for the free life of the church to shape and modify, according to her instincts and wants, by the process of a living adaptation. Thus, take the Church itself: Christ instituted a Church; but its form and mode of organization he leaves to human freedom to complete, change, diversify; to join it on to the existing and ever-varying wants of his people, and adapt it to their inner and outer life, as his spirit working in them shall lead them to judge best. Again, Christ evidently intended that his followers should have some mode of worship; but how careful not to prescribe that mode — a liturgy with rigid details and outlines, to embarrass and confine their free life in succeeding ages! Take also the sacrament of the Supper: Christ appointed this for all time; but how flexible and ductile he has left the form!
1 Bnnsen, speaking on this point, says: "They arc inclined to attiu-li to their own form a superstitious power, by which the efficacy of a continually renewed faith is thrown into the background.'' (Hip. and his Age, 3. 208.)
Now, as he has revealed to us its essential characteristics — consecration by the use of water—and as he has been careful to cause that no inspired man should utter a word to indicate the mode, are we to suppose that he designed for baptism alone a hard and unbending form? Is it probable that he would here leap, with a wide bound, from all his analogies, and frame this ordinance alone with iron outlines; and intend it to go down through the centuries, as a harsh, unyielding rigidity; and then leave no record indicating what that mode should be? The conclusion is, to our mind, unavoidable, that the mode was purposely left open ; and that any form of the use of water, whether by sprinkling, effusion, or immersion, by which one is consecrated to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is, if administered by an authorized person, christian baptism.
BY UMAX COLEMAN, D. D., mlLADKLFHIA.
Eusebius was a native of Palestine. Of his parentage and early education we arc in singular ignorance. The date even of his birth is not well defined; but from certain incidental data in his writings, it appears that he must have been born within the period from A. D. 2-59 to 270. About the year 315 he was chosen bishop of Cacsarea, and continued for twenty-five years the incumbent of this office until his death, A. D. 340.
One of the first of his literary labors was a work on history and chronology, entitled Chronicon. In this he undertook to describe the origin and progress of all nations irom their rise respectively to the age of Constantine, and to establish the chronological data of their several histories. It was, perhaps, the first compend of universal history. The original work is lost, but some fragments of it yet remain, while other parts have been preserved in a translation by Jerome.
Among the chief works of Eusebius now extant, may be mentioned:
An Evangelical Preparation, or Preparation for the Demonstration of the Truth of the Gospel. His course of argument is extended through fifteen books, in which he exposes the folly of heathen theology and worship, Grecian, Phoenician and Egyptian, together with the vanity of their oracles and arts of divination. He answers the objections of Jews and Gentiles against Christianity, and exhibits the superiority of the Jewish above other forms of religion, showing at length that the Greeks borrowed all that was really good in their philosophy from the Jews.
As a sequel to his Evangelical Preparation, Eusebius published A Demonstration of the Truth of the Gospel in twenty books, ten of which are lost. This Demonstration was designed chiefly for the conviction of the Jews. In the course of his argument he shows the superiority of the Christian to the Jewish religion, in that it is not adapted to one people only, but to all nations. He labors to convince the Jews, out of their own Scriptures, that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, evidently foretold and set forth as such by their own prophets. The value of this work and of all the author's expositions of the Scriptures, is greatly impaired by his interpretations, according to which he, like Origen, his great master, considers the double sense of all revealed truth.
We have from the same hands a treatise on the Topography of the Scriptures, commonly denominated the Onomasticon of Eusebius. Living at an age so early, and having passed all his life in Palestine, in familiar acquaintance with the sites of sacred history, he possessed peculiar advantages for establishing the localities of the cities and scenes of the historical portions of the Scriptures.
Eusebius sustained also a conspicuous part in the theological controversies of his age. He was deeply implicated in the Arian controversy; and became a prominent member of the famous council of Nice. The heresies and persecutions of the age also frequently employ his pen. Under this class of his literary efforts may be reckoned three books concerning the martyr Pamphilus. Five books written by himself in defence of Origen, the Book of Martyrs in Palestine, his works against Porphyry, Hierocles, and Sabellius, together with several other treatises.
We have yet to mention the works on which the reputation of Eusebius, as an historian, is chiefly founded, and with which we are more immediately concerned, — his Ecclesiastical History, in ten books, and his History of the Life of Constantine, in four books. His Life of Constantine is not a biography of the Emperor, but a continued and extravagant panegyric for his support of the Christian Religion, and his various benefits to the clergy and the church. The earlier fathers had written much in explanation and defence of the Christian Religion, but none had attempted a continued history of the church through the vicissitudes of alternate persecution and peace, heretical dissensions, fanatical zeal and steadfast faith which from the beginning had marked her progress. Of those eventful scenes Eusebius was the first and exclusive historian. By the countless multitude of historians who have followed in his footsteps, Eusebius has been generally received as their undisputed, undoubted voucher for the period of the first three centuries of the christian church. By common consent, therefore, he stands accredited as the Father Of Ecclesiastical History.
This verdict of ages, at once so honorable and so uniform, we would not wantonly impeach. We freely accord to our historian the merit of great learning, of tireless industry, and vast and varied research, the results of which in almost every department of literary labors then known, he has transmitted down to us from that distant age in which he lived and wrote.