"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 11, Number 4, April 2008
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Earl of Kent
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]
The Arbitrary Nature of Higher Critical Dissecting of the Pentateuch:
The Candid Confession of a Higher Critic
“We possess hardly any reliable criteria for dating pentateuchal literature. Every dating of the pentateuchal ‘sources’ rests on purely hypothetical assumptions, which only have any standing through the consensus of scholars.”
Quoted with documentation by Gordon J. Wenham
Numbers (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1981), p. 23.
[In short, the whole J, E, D, P, etc. dissection of the Law of Moses is admittedly a sham, a fraud, a house of cards, a critical anti-supernatural-driven fabrication imposed on the text, not the outcome of objective analysis--editor]
“Holy Men of Old” Once Again
We received several replies from readers concerning our attempt at tracing to its source the commonly-met with phrase “holy men of old,” a semi-quote--or misquote--of 2 Peter 1:21 (see “ ‘Holy Men of Old’,” As I See It, 11:3). Of particular note was a letter from Dr. Maurice Robinson of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He provided references in the published works of Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, and so far the earliest reference, a sermon by George Whitefield.
We had traced the phrase backward from the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Bible Fellowship (1950) back through the World Baptist Fellowship to the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Bible Union (1923). These references were demonstrably genealogically connected. But from there, we had to go back to the 1878 Niagara Bible Conference and its published “Articles of Belief,” which may or may not have influenced these particular 20th century occurrences. And yet earlier, though rather nebulously connected at best to any of the above, was a quote from Adam Clarke’s commentary, not later than 1831. There the trail turned cold.
But Dr. Robinson has given us a new scent trail to follow. First, in a sermon in the first published volume of sermons by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), when Spurgeon was just 20 years old, he uses the phrase twice:
But do we not read in Scripture something more of the Holy Ghost? Yes, we are told that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” When Moses penned the Pentateuch, the Holy Ghost moved his hand; when David wrote the Psalms, and discoursed sweet music on his harp, it was the Holy Spirit that gave his fingers their Seraphic motion; when Solomon dropped from his lips the words of the Proverbs of wisdom, or when he hymned the Canticles of love, it was the Holy Ghost who gave him the words of knowledge and hymns of rapture. Ah! and what fire was that which touched the lips of the eloquent Isaiah? What hand was that which came upon Daniel? What might was that which made Jeremiah so plaintive in his grief? Or what was that which winged Ezekiel and made him like an eagle, soar into mysteries aloft, and see the mighty unknown beyond our reach? Who was it that made Amos, the herdsman, a prophet? Who taught the rough Haggai to pronounce his thundering sentences? Who showed Habakkuk the horses of Jehovah marching through the waters? Or who kindled the burning eloquence of Nahum? Who cause[d] Malachi to close up the book with the muttering of the word curse? Who was in each of these, save the Holy Ghost? And must it not have been a person who spake in and through these ancient witnesses? We must believe it. We cannot avoid believing it, when we read that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
New Park Street Pulpit, vol. I, p. 27. [Italics added]
Spurgeon presents the phrase as a quotation from Scripture, as the quotation marks clearly show, though he actually misquotes the precise Scriptural wording both times (I wonder if he does the same elsewhere in his voluminous writings, or if he quotes its precisely later on). We are willing to be forgiving of such a misquote, in view of Spurgeon’s youth. It is quite possible that Spurgeon’s influence through his published sermons led to the later recurrence of the phrase “holy men of old” in the 19th and 20th century occurrences we have already noted.
But where did he get the phrase? Perhaps from Adam Clarke, whose commentary he knew and consulted, but more likely earlier.
Spurgeon did read extensively in the writings of John Wesley, and even gave a famous lecture on the Wesley brothers, John and Charles (see our review of Spurgeon’s The Two Wesleys in AISI 2:8). He may have gotten it from Wesley (who likewise could have influenced Adam Clarke, his much younger associate, who is buried right next to John Wesley’s tomb behind Wesley’s chapel in London). In a sermon titled “On Knowing Christ After the Flesh,” based on 2 Corinthians 5:16 and delivered at Plymouth-Dock, August 15, 1789 (when Wesley was 86 years old), near the close, Wesley remarks, concerning overly-familiar language employed by some of his contemporaries in either addressing God or speaking about God:
And hence it was that their really good affections a little exceeded the bounds of reason, and led them into a manner of speaking, not authorized by the oracles of God. And surely these are the true standard, both of our affections and our language. But did ever any of the holy men of old speak thus, either in the Old Testament or in the New Testament?
The Works of John Wesley, 3rd edition
Vol. VII, p. 296, sermon # CXVII
Hendrickson 1991 reprint
But this isolated published reference does not seem sufficient to have scattered the phrase far and wide. Perhaps it was a regular manner of reference for Wesley and his contemporaries. If so, I suspect this phraseology may occur elsewhere in the substantial corpus of his published remains.
But it is certain that at least one influential occurrence does precede this Wesley quotation, in a source which Wesley--and Spurgeon--would have been familiar with.
In George Whitefield’s (1714-1770) published sermons, there is one titled, “Walking with God,” based on Genesis 5:24 as the sermon text (sermon #2 in standard editions of Whitefield’s published sermons, of which there are only seventy-five). In the introductory paragraph, Whitefield is answering an objection about the practicality and possibility of obeying God’s commands:
The Holy Ghost, foreseeing this, hath taken care to inspire holy men of old, to record the examples of holy men and women; who, even under the Old Testament dispensation, were enabled cheerfully to take Christ’s yoke upon them, and counted his service perfect freedom.
Sermons on Important Subjects
by the Rev. George Whitefield, A. M.
London: William Tegg, n.d., p. 46
It is plain from his wording that Whitefield is expressly alluding to 2 Peter 1:21.
These collected sermons of Whitefield include another, “The Indwelling of the Spirit, the Common Privilege of All Believers,” based on John 7:37-39, (sermon #38). About halfway through that sermon, Whitefield states:
If thou canst prove, thou unbeliever, that the book, which we call the Bible, does not contain the lively oracles of God; if thou canst show, that holy men of old did not write this book, as they were inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, then will we give up the doctrine of original sin; but unless thou canst do this, we must insist upon it, that we are all conceived and born in sin; if for no other, yet for this one reason, because that God, who cannot lie, has told us so.
Ibid., p. 436.
These references supplied by Dr. Robinson set me to searching Whitefield’s other writings--sermons, journals and letters--and I immediately came across the phrase in question again. Immediately preceding the above in sermon #37, “The Duty of Searching the Scriptures,” based on John 5:39, we find on the second page of the sermon, in describing the nature of the Scriptures, Whitefield declaring:
They are not of any private interpretation, authority, or invention, but holy men of old wrote them, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Ibid., p. 424. Italics added
Whitefield’s published sermons came from relatively early in his ministry, the 1740s as I recall, though I cannot locate a specific date of publication.
At the very least, “holy men of old” seems to have been the standard way Whitefield quoted/ referred to 2 Peter 1:21 (a thorough search of his sermons, journals and letters would probably yield other examples). From Whitefield, it could have readily passed into the vocabulary of Wesley and Clarke, and multitudes more of preachers and laymen who heard Whitefield in person throughout Great Britain, Ireland and the English colonies in America. Of Spurgeon, who set Whitefield up as his personal role model in the ministry, it can be said with a high degree of probability that he encountered the phrasing in reading Whitefield’s sermons.
But did Whitefield originate this phrasing? He was himself strongly influenced by reading the works of Matthew Henry (1662-1714), and if the phrase is found in Henry’s famous commentary (and we shall see that it does occur therein), he may have picked it up from there. Whitefield’s biographer John Gillies reports that Whitefield “read Mr. Henry’s Annotations on the Bible, upon his knees before God” (Memoirs of the Reverend George Whitefield, p. 231; for a fuller account of Henry’s influence on Whitefield, see Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield, vol. I, pp. 81-83, et al.).
The phrase in question does indeed occur, at least once, in Henry’s commentary (and we have Pastor Frank Sansone to thank for this reference). In the comments on Hebrews by William Tong (Henry himself completed the work only up through Acts), at Hebrews 9:8-13 (vol. VI, p. 926 of the standard Revell edition), we read: “The scriptures of the Old Testament were given by inspiration of God; holy men of old spoke and wrote as the Holy Ghost directed them,” (Italics added; in the preface to this same volume by we know not whom, we find the statement, “We must believe that these holy men spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” [p. v., italics in original] not committing itself either way, whether to “of old” or to “of God).
This one reference in Henry’s voluminous commentary (unless the phrase recurs elsewhere) theoretically may have influenced Whitefield and even been the fountain-head for the phrase in question, but current evidence in hand points to Whitefield as the propagator, or at a minimum the popularizer, of the phrase “holy men of old” in the stead of the verbally more precise “holy men of God” as found in the King James Bible text at 2 Peter 1:21.
We will leave the file open for further evidence.
At this point, after completing the above, it occurred to us to do a “Google” search of the phrase “holy men of old.” And a veritable Pandora’s box of references did we find. Giving the merest sampling: from the 20th century, in at least five different works, Herbert Lockyer, author of the famous “All the [fill in the blank] in the Bible” series of books, employs the phrase, as does the revised International Standard Bible Encyclopedia edited by Geoffrey Bromiley, which in the article “Canon of the NT” by R. P. Meye, has the remark, “Indeed, the Spirit gave to holy men of old the inspiration (see esp. 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16) that led to the production of the components of the Old Testament canon,” (vol. 1, p. 601b; italics added).
From the 19th century, Princeton theologian Charles Hodge’ famous Systematic Theology includes the statement, “The Spirit not only thus reveals divine truth, having guided infallibly holy men of old in recording it,. . . “(vol. I, p. 532, italics added). Likewise, the American edition of William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible in four volumes, edited by H. Hackett, in the article “Prophet” by Frederick Meyrick, as it were “quotes” 2 Peter 1:21 thus: “The prophets were not the authors of their predictions, ‘but holy men of old spake by the impulse (pheromenoi) of the Holy Ghost,’ “ (vol. IV, p. 2600b; italics added). And there was indeed, as we suspected, at least one more occurrence in Spurgeon’s works, in a sermon preached May 14, 1885 (but not published until May 23, 1912). Spurgeon, speaking of the Bible, says “Though there be many authors, and the Book be divided into many treatises, yet it is all of one as to its innermost authorship, since holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 58, p. 242; italics added).
By-passing other references in that century, we reach back to the 18th, where, besides the Wesley, Whitefield and Henry references noted above (not all of those came up on “Google”), there was a reference to a work by William Law (1686-1761), namely, A Humble, Ernest Address to Clergy. Law had a very large impact on Whitefield and the Wesleys (and Samuel Johnson, too), chiefly through his book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, and it is reasonable to suppose his other works were read by them, too, exposing them to this phrase there.
But we can reach back yet earlier. Political theorist and philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) issued a revised edition of his monumental work An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which included a new chapter, “Of Enthusiasm.” In that chapter, in paragraph 15, we read, “Thus we see, the holy men of old, who had revelations from God, had something else besides that internal light of assurance in their own minds to testify to them that it was from God,” (edition abridged and edit by A. S. Pringle-Pattison, Oxford, 1924, p. 363. Italics added). Here we have drifted away from religious and theological literature, into philosophy. This strongly suggests to me that some standard and almost universally familiar British religious work--the Book of Common Prayer, perhaps--had influenced Locke, and ultimately all these others previously noted.
But back into the world of religion, we find that Baptist pastor Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) in a work issued first in 1682, Tropologia: a Key to Open Scripture Metaphors, etc., uses our phrase. In the 1855 edition of this work (p. 528), Keach wrote: “That the Holy Spirit or third Person of the holy Trinity is a greater Light than the Holy Scripture is not denied, by virtue of which holy men of old were inspired that gave them forth,” (italics added). And I found a reference in the works of Puritan John Owen (1616-1683). The reference is to “p. 95” of one of the volumes of his works, which, if the standard 16-volume set is meant, isn’t in volumes 7, 8, or 16 (only these do I possess). And more references beyond these--a veritable abyss of references.
There were even a couple of references to works by Calvin (Institutes) and Augustine (Confessions) in which the phrase in question is alleged to occur, though I could not find it in the editions I own (there being numerous English translations and editions of both). Either or both of these would have been well enough and widely enough known in English translation to “salt” the literature with the phrase. But as the change from “God” to “old” seems to be an intra-English corruption, I doubt that the Latin originals of these works include the phrase “Holy men of old,” regardless of how they were translated into English.
After negotiating through this labyrinth, we must still confess “the end is not yet.” The elusive “ultimate source” has not been identified, and so we leave the file open.
The “Thirty-Nine Articles” Regarding the Scriptures
The Church of England’s official summary statement of beliefs is the famous “Articles of Religion,” also known as the “Thirty-Nine Articles” because it is divided into that many separate headings. The Articles date back in their origins to the mid-16th century, and achieved their present number and form in 1571 under Elizabeth I. Anglican clergy, while not technically bound to these Articles, are required to acknowledge them as in harmony with the Bible and to agree not to teach contrary to them (which, from the heresy propagated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other lesser officials in recent years, indicates that the Articles are at present chiefly observed in their breech). They are regularly printed as part of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. (For a discussion of the history and content of the Thirty-Nine Articles, as well as the Book of Common Prayer, see “Thirty-Nine Articles, The” and “Common Prayer, The Book of” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F. L. Cross, various editions, 1957 and later; for the complete 1562 Latin text, 1571 English translation, and 1801 American revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles along with an introduction, see The Creeds of Christendom, edited by Philip Schaff, sixth edition revised by David Schaff, 1931, vol. 3, pp. 486-516).
Article VI is titled the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, and begins as follows:
HOLY Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.
As far as it goes, we fully agree: nothing more and nothing less than what the Bible expressly affirms or reasonably requires (i.e. what is provable from Scripture by sound reason) is compulsory as regards salvation. However, we would insist that this Sola Scriptura principle regarding salvation applies with equal force to the other doctrines taught in the Bible: regarding Scripture itself, God Himself, man, sin, sanctification, baptism, death, heaven, hell, angels and the rest. Where the Bible speaks, it speaks with complete authority; where the Bible is silent, or insufficiently clear, then such doctrine cannot be deemed obligatory.
Of course, such a wide-reaching, all-encompassing principle of “sola scriptura” consistently applied to all Bible doctrines would be the end of infant baptism, union of church and state, a priestly caste, rituals, and all the other things in the Church of England which are based on tradition and custom rather than the Bible alone.
Global Warming Caused by Carbon Dioxide?--NOT!
A scientist’s view from 1972
“When we burn fuel, such as wood, coal, oil, and natural gas, in our furnaces, we also liberate vast amounts of carbon dioxide. By burning gasoline and diesel oil in our automobiles and trucks, we also liberate large amounts of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gases, as well as nitrogen oxides. As the population increases, so does the production of carbon dioxide. Scientists have predicted that increased production of carbon dioxide would create an ‘insulating blanket’ in the atmosphere of the world, causing the temperatures to warm up. Some have predicted that this would cause the polar icecaps to melt, resulting in a rise in the ocean level and the flooding of many coastal areas, including large cities of the world.
We all know that this has not happened, even though the population of the world has continued to increase rapidly. There has not been a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air (it has remained constant at 0.03 per cent as long as man has been analyzing it) despite the many thousands of times’ increase in the amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the air from our increased population.
What many people have forgotten is the simple basic reaction of plants: carbon dioxide plus water, in the presence of chlorophyll, through energy from the sun, produces sugar, giving off oxygen as a by-product. As the population has increased, so has the food requirement, and so has the production of food, feed, and fibers. All of this production requires additional carbon dioxide. It appears, then, that Mother Nature [sic] is continuing to maintain perfectly the delicate balance of carbon dioxide in the air.
Perhaps in the past crop yields have been limited, in some cases owing to a lack of carbon dioxide. One practice in greenhouse production of crops is to inject carbon dioxide to improve crop growth. Manure, applied heavily, decomposes in the soil and also liberates large amounts of carbon dioxide, thus providing additional benefit to crop growth.”
Kermit C. Berger
Sun, Soil, and Survival: An Introduction to Soils
Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972
pp. 3-4 (emphasis added)
[Editor’s note: one conveniently “overlooked” aspect of the “carbon dioxide/ global warming” debate (or, rather, media propaganda crusade) is that carbon dioxide is an essential ingredient in all plant growth, whether farm and garden crops, grasses, trees, seaweed or algae, and that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide stimulate greater plant growth, and thereby greater conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen by plants, a divinely-created self-regulating mechanism to prevent global ecological catastrophes. That a respected scientist such as Kermit C. Berger was declaring this as much as 36 years ago, renders the complete ignoring--or ignorance--of this fundamental scientific fact by the leftist media and radical “greens” inexcusable, and almost criminal. Interestingly, Berger continues the above quote, “With all the concern over the ecology of the world and with so many charlatans in the field seeking to blame minority groups such as farmers for all the pollution, . . .” (p. 4, emphasis added). Today, it is the U.S. that has become the favorite whipping boy of these charlatans’ rabid--and under-informed--rants, all us evil, energy-consuming Americans.]
Sectarian Translation in the KJV Has Engendered Religious Strife
“Had our [KJV] translators, who were excellent and learned men, leaned less to their own peculiar creed in the present authorized version, the Church of Christ in this country would not have been agitated and torn as it has been with polemical divinity.”
Adam Clarke (1762-1832)
Comments on Hebrews 6:6
Clarke’s Commentary (Abingdon edition)
Vol. VI, p. 725
Charismatic Chaos by John F. MacArthur, Jr. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. 415 pp., paperback.
Though this excellent treatment of the doctrinal and practical errors of the modern charismatic movement has been in print for a decade and a half, we are just now getting around to reading it, motivated by an attempt (sadly, successful) by charismatics to seize control of a non-denominational jail ministry of which we were a part for seven years (but can no longer conscientiously be)
MacArthur treats all aspects of the current charismatic error--its history, celebrities, claims concerning present day signs and wonders (chiefly tongues and healings), modern authoritative Divine revelations which supercede Scripture (and make it more or less unnecessary), the prosperity Gospel, and the sham “super spirituality” claimed by many charismatics. Some remarkable, even shocking heresies taught by the likes of Kenneth Copeland are noted (Copeland claims, inter alia, that believers become little “gods”--exactly the lie the devil promised Eve, and which Mormons also teach!) The documentation is thorough, though alas stuck in the back of the book.
On some matters and details, we differ somewhat from MacArthur’s presentation (though on the whole finding it highly recommendable). As to what the Bible means by “Holy Spirit baptism,” he understands it as more or less synonymous and contemporaneous with regeneration; we understand it to refer only to the events of Acts 2, and its echo in Acts 10. I Corinthians 12:13 we understand as referring to water baptism, not Holy Spirit baptism at all. But we are in solid agreement that there is no Biblical warrant for seeking “Holy Spirit baptism” at some point after conversion, a key claim of the charismatics. On lesser matters, he allows for the continued existence of “service” gifts today though affirming the cessation of all the “sign” gifts in the first century A.D.; we think this distinction between “service” and “sign” gifts is artificial--one which the Bible does not make--and argue for compete cessation of all the charismata in the first century (see: “How Were the Charismata Transmitted in New Testament Times?” in AISI 7:1). And MacArthur argues, from I Corinthians 14, that some in the church at Corinth were trying to imitate the true gift of tongues (i.e., the miraculous ability to speak a foreign, human language without previously learning it) by employing gibberish, after the modern charismatic manner; we think all references to Corinthian practices in Chapter 14 are abuses of the true gift.
This volume is available quite inexpensively from CBD (www.Christianbooks.com), and should be purchased in quantity for self, church libraries, and distribution to those influenced by the charismatic movement.
With Malice Toward None: the Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates. Harper & Row, 1977. 493 pp., hardback.
The literature on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln is vast, and there are biographies aplenty (see “An Introduction to Lincoln Literature,” AISI 2:2). Some are excellent ; many are not. This volume by Oates falls into the former category. Dr. Oates is a professional historian, not a Lincoln “groupie” with a theory to push or a malignant critic with an axe to grind. His research is thorough and his style definitely readable (unfortunately, his documentation is shoved to the back of the book, and there is no general bibliography). He does not indulge in the cheap “psychological analysis” of the “victim” (subject of the book) as is common for historians of the modern sort to do, nor does he lambaste Lincoln for what he “ought to have done” in various circumstances--judged by modern standards of justice, equality and fairness--but rather faithfully reports what he did do.
Oates does not make this a “history of the American Civil War” though obviously that plays a large part in the narrative. He rather focuses on Lincoln’s interactions with his war-time cabinet, and the rapid succession of Union commanding generals (nearly all marginally competent and scarcely any having a “big picture” grasp of the military situation or having anything like sufficient initiative--until Grant and Sherman), and extremists on all sides: rabid abolitionists who criticized the Emancipation Proclamation as not going far enough, and anti-war Democrats who criticized Lincoln for issuing it at all, and who demanded peace at almost any price, calling for “bringing the boys home” right now (has nothing changed in 140 years?), since no white man’s blood was worth spilling to liberate black slaves (so they affirmed). Oates relates several incidents of note that I don’t ever recall reading in the several other Lincoln books I have read over the years. This is surely one of the best one-volume Lincoln biographies, at least the equal of that by Benjamin Thomas, and of course well ahead of that by David Donald of Harvard, a work so disappointing I couldn’t even finish it.
Christian Baptism, A Sermon Preached in Lal Bazar Chapel, Calcutta, on Lord's-Day, September 27, 1812, by Adoniram Judson. Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, 1817 reprint. 71 pp.
Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), a pastor’s son, was converted from malignant unbelief in 1809 and was soon burdened to be a missionary in the Orient (for all the particulars, see Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore: the Life of Adoniram Judson, reviewed in AISI 1:12). He and new wife Ann Hasseltine sailed on February 19, 1812 with another missionary couple bound for India. A Congregationalist on departure, with that denomination’s approval and financial support, during the voyage Judson re-examined the whole issue of infant baptism (the practice of the Congregationalists). Compelled by the evidence, Judson arrived in India a convinced adherent of believer’s immersion as the only valid NT baptism, and in spite of the great personal cost to himself (loss of all denominational support and 10,000 miles from home), he testified to his belief in believer’s immersion on September 6, 1812, the ordinance being performed by Baptist missionary in India William Ward. Three weeks later, Judson preached the sermon reproduced in this book.
Valuable as the testimony of one who abandoned infant baptism after a long and thorough study of the subject, herein Judson demonstrates from Scripture, church history, and the writings of recognized Christian scholars that Biblical baptism was only by immersion, never by sprinkling or pouring, that it was performed only on professing believers, not unthinking infants, and that it was a testimony to faith, not a saving or regenerating ritual. All these non-biblical beliefs and practices were clearly post-NT innovations and departures from the practice, precedent and command of Christ and the Apostles. By his own acknowledgement, Judson was dependent for many of the authorities cited on the learned Abraham Booth’s (1734-1806) Paedobaptism Examined.
Many of the authors quoted are now long-forgotten and obscure figures known only to specialists in church history, with the works cited completely inaccessible today; the documentation is, besides, not up to modern standards by any means (failing to note editions, publishers and dates). Even so, the testimonies marshaled are sufficient to prove Judson’s theses to anyone open to hear evidence.
The language is at times a bit tedious, after the manner of the day, and on a point or two Judson argues in extensio far beyond what was necessary to prove his case (for example, in demonstrating that baptism is not a successor rite to OT circumcision). I would rank the treatments of baptism in John Gill’s Body of Divinity, A. H. Strong’s Systematic Theology and T. J. Conant’s Baptizein as on the whole better and/or more concise treatments of the subject, though Judson references numerous works and authors they do not include. Even so, this is a valuable work by a pioneer missionary, and can be read with interest and profit, if met with (the copy I read was a photocopy supplied by a friend).