<< previous (3:348) next (3:350) >>

p471 Dear Mrs. Bevan, - I am somewhat surprised that - should be so far back on these subjects. But I can only touch on what is important in it. Thank God it has never injured fellowship amongst us a moment. Those of baptist views were - a few of them, really only one I think - excited for a moment, not (as - thinks) by some retaining tradition, but by a very great many who had had baptist views giving them up, and when there were families, having their children baptised. I had last week two letters from such to get their children baptised. This those seeing otherwise, cannot understand. The great and mischievous mistake which baptists make is not seeing that there is a place of blessing set up by God, besides the fact of individual conversion. "What advantage then has the Jew?. . . much every way: chiefly that unto them were committed the oracles of God." They were not converted, the apostle is proving them all under sin, and as to the Jews just by reason of this. Then they say that was of Jews. No doubt: but this the apostle transfers to the christian body. The Israelites he says, warning Christians (1 Cor. 10), "were all baptised to Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and drank the same spiritual drink, but with many of them God was not well pleased." . . . That is, there is a sacramental introduction into the place of blessing which does not secure a person. The apostle goes on to warn them of the like thing happening to them. I am not using this to prove that infants are to be baptised, but that there is (the ignorance of which is the spring of all baptists' thoughts, namely) something set up by God on earth where He has set His promises, His blessings - now His Spirit. "Ye are God's building," says he. But if a man build in wood, hay, stubble, his work will be burned: that is, what was set up according to God on earth may be spoiled when entrusted to the responsibility of man, but it did not cease to be God's building. Again, Romans 11 is the direct assertion that the Gentiles were graft into the tree of promise, where the root and fatness of the olive tree were, and were to take heed lest they also should be cut off, if they did not continue in God's goodness. That could not be if it were real conversion; here they are brought in where the blessing was, and yet are cut off for unfaithfulness. Judgment begins at the house of God.

The tares are the devil's sowing by false doctrines: that does not apply to a child. The Lord received children entirely differently; "of such is the kingdom of heaven," "their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." Again - calls them heathen, the word of God calls the children of a christian parent holy; that is the opposite to heathen. If a Jew married a heathen the Jew who was holy profaned himself, and the children had no title to be received as holy. Grace reigns now, and if one party be converted this one sanctifies the unbeliever, and the children are holy, and have a right to the privileges of the place of God set up in blessing, as in the Jewish case he had not. The child is not sanctified, but holy in contrast with unclean; that is, in scriptural phraseology, has right to come in.

God does not recognise individuals unconverted as such, save as to responsibility and judgment, as to which He does fully recognise them. But - is quite wrong when she says that God recognises no third class. He does recognise as the church (Christ does) what He spues out of His mouth in judgment. He does recognise as His servant him whom He cuts asunder and appoints a portion with the unbelievers. "Blessed is that servant . . . But and if that servant say in his heart, . . ." and he is judged as such, and by much more terrible judgment because he has been in that place. All this I refer to to shew that a state of things, and a relationship with God, is positively contemplated and taught in scripture, and on which judgment depends, which is not founded on personal conversion: not merely responsibility because of what they knew, but which is called church but spued out of Christ's mouth, or servant yet has a portion with hypocrites and unbelievers, yet the Lord is "the Lord of that servant." We get plain directions in 2 Timothy 2, 3, what to do in this case: turn away, purge ourselves, etc., when the corruption and evil have taken the form there designated. But it does not cease to be God's building because wood, hay, and stubble are built in; the Holy Ghost is there which makes it God's building. Scripture, therefore, does speak of a third class; that is, of persons in relationship with God and responsible according to that relationship and cut off, rejected, judged, but whom the Lord judges as "Lord of that servant," and individually even cut off from the olive tree into which it had been grafted.

Besides, children of God and children of the devil are not called so till manifested. Take a person unconverted, afterwards brought to the Lord: I do not call him chaff, he is not burned with unquenchable fire; dead and lost he is, but not chaff: that is manifested in judgment, may be before. This seems to me precipitate. Further - would have them presented to God and sanctified, that is flesh (chaff) presented to God and sanctified. Nothing can be more totally unscriptural. When a parent comes to me, to the church or assembly in principle, to do this, as they naturally would as - feels; I say I cannot receive what is born of the flesh but by death, the death of Christ, and I baptise them to His death: - presents them, sanctifies them without it. As to putting on Christ, does not believe what she says. Does she mean that a believer when baptised really and actually puts on Christ, as to life and being in Him? In contrast with becoming or being a Jew or Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond, free, he puts on none of these things. A circumcised Gentile puts on Judaism in his profession and place, a baptised person puts on Christ. If not, every baptised person would be saved, and those not would be lost. But - does not believe that by baptism they put on Christ thus. It applies professedly and explicitly to every baptised person absolutely, without any condition or limitation, and so I take it.

These views then to me are in every respect unscriptural, nor did I ever find a Baptist who could stand on scripture. They are conscientious, and if they think they are not baptised at all, of course they ought to be so; I have no quarrel with them. Paul was not sent to baptise - the Twelve were to baptise the Gentiles - but baptism was accepted by Paul as already instituted. But he had no mission for it; whereas a special revelation was given to him of the Lord's supper, though both were alike instituted by the Lord. The commission of the Twelve was never that we know fulfilled. It was to disciple the nations and baptise them. The commission was on and from earth, not from heaven. Luke's was from heaven, beginning with Jerusalem. Mark makes it necessary to salvation, because it was professedly becoming a Christian; and I have so used it with a Jew who said he believed but would not be baptised, it would kill his mother. I cite it to shew the force of the passage. The cases of Philip and Cornelius prove conclusively that it was not obedience, but admission into christian privileges and position. I am now in the midst of a great baptised profession in which 2 Timothy 2, 3 tell me how to act. I may add, it is not a testimony to privileges already conferred, but the act of admission to them. I am baptised to His death, not because I have died. I wash away my sins not because my sins are washed away. I put on Christ, and am not baptised because I have put Him on. That is, it is the formal entrance into the privileges, not a witness that I have received them. I see no trace in scripture of its being a testimony to others, though every faithful confession of Christ turns to a testimony. Most of the ground - takes is given up by those who maintain baptist views among brethren as untenable before scripture. I have never sought to convince or influence any one, and have no intention to do so. If they are content to follow their conscience I have nothing to say. But I am sure if scripture be right their views are wrong. If there be any light which I have not got which would lead me to it, that is another thing; but I am sure they have false views of the whole matter according to scripture. The root I conceive to be, making it all individual and obedience (which is absurd for a man cannot baptise himself), and not seeing that there is a place of blessing, and ground established by God on earth, which is not individual conversion, but is responsibility - branches grafted in but broken off.

Yours very truly.