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Thoughts on Baptism

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    WEIGHT OF HISTORICAL QUOTATIONS

    Those who favor trine immersion seem to think that their argument is strong if they can quote many authors who agree that trine immersion prevailed among the early Christians. We admit that it did, and ten thousand witnesses to that effect do not at all increase the truthfulness, nor yet the importance, of the fact. But, while we know that many scandalous errors, held to this day by some, but by most repudiated, prevailed at the same time, and were introduced fully as early, the bare fact that the practice existed at an early age proves nothing at all in its favor. The question is not, Did it exist? but, By what authority did it exist? Satan existed at a very early age, and assumed to take his place among the sons of God; but neither his age nor such association gives any sanctity to his character.TOB 160.1

    If it could be shown that the church was exceedingly pure in the age of its first recognition by “the fathers,” and that no other error had yet obtained a footing among the bishops and presbyters, that would be a presumption in its favor. Yet only a presumption, if it cannot plainly be found in the Scriptures. History makes no authority. It is for this reason we did not pursue the historical argument at the first, because it has no weight in our minds. We should not have deviated from the course first marked out, to notice the historical argument at all, had it not been for the request of brethren whom we highly respect, and whose judgment we honor. We said, and we repeat it, We care nothing for what people have done; our sole inquiry is respecting what they ought to have done. History may inform us what they did, but we look to the Bible alone for duty—for what we ought to do. But in addition to this statement, we must record our most solemn conviction that history—early history—is not at all in favor of trine immersion. We trace it directly to Africa for its first adherents, and find them acknowledging tradition as its basis.TOB 160.2

    There are three points which we must examine: the weight of the testimony of the Greek Church; the light in which baptism was held among the ancient Christians; and the reasons which were early urged in favor of trine immersion. And firstTOB 161.1

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