BAPTISM - EVERYTHING, ANYTHING & NOTHING by John Leland
Baptism, by some, is made everything; by some, anything; and by others, nothing. The Episcopalians make it everything; they say that the water is blest to the mystical washing away of sin; that, by it, children are regenerated, and engrafted into the body of Christ, which is everything we need. The Methodists make it anything; either sprinkling, pouring or immersion. No matter how it is done, if it is done. Can it be supposed that Jesus, who was faithful in all his house, in the character of a son, should be less definite in his orders than Moses was, who was only a servant? See (says the Hebrew prophet) that thou makest the tabernacle, in all things, according to the pattern shown to thee in the Mount; and is the pattern of Jesus of no more use than to be made anything of? That which is to be done but once in a man’s life, should be well done. Are the words of St. Paul inapplicable here? “One baptism.”
The Quakers make it nothing; but when they regard the word of God more, and the word of Barclay less, they will then find baptism, not only to be a command, but the first command, after repentance and faith.
If baptism is everything, Simon, the witch, is gone to heaven, and the thief dropt from the cross to hell. If it is anything, we may say of it, as Mr. Wesley does of praying time, “Any time is no time.” And if it is nothing, why is the noun, with its verb and participle, recorded almost one hundred times in the New Testament? If men can be perfect or obedient in all things, without it, what means this bleating of the Scriptures which I hear?
From The Writings of the Later Elder John Leland, (as published in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. III No. 4, July-August 1995, p. 3)