Wednesday, August 04, 2010

M'Crie on Baptism #1

Although over 200 years old (published in 1801) Thomas M'Crie's Lectures on Christian Baptism remain a useful classic work on this subject. He describes it as "the result of the readings and reflections of many years". M'Crie is not so much writing in order to advance polemic as to state his case clearly. "On the subject in general, it is to be feared much ignorance and misapprehension prevail. The first and simplest of the Christian institutes has been involved in a labyrinth of metaphysical subtlety and theological discussion, the very aspect of which deters many from examining it." His intention is to provide a discussion "in a plain, popular, and practical manner, adapted to the comprehension of all". What is particularly noteworthy is the gracious manner in which he approaches the subject. "It is extremely difficult to speak on the point at all without offending cherished prejudices; and it is our special unhappiness in this question, that we are brought into collision with brethren whose personal piety and public zeal in the cause of Christ entitle them to the highest praise. But the interests of truth (and this seems eminently a part of " the present truth ") require that we should take up the question under this disadvantage; and it has been the author's intention, however he may have succeeded in carrying it out, to avoid all uncharitable invective and needless irritation".

He concludes his preface in the attitude of prayer using "one of the Prayers anciently used at the celebration of baptism in the French and Scottish Churches:— 'Hear us, Father of mercy, that so the Baptism which we dispense, according to thy institution, may produce its fruit and virtue, in such sort as thou hast declared to us in thy Gospel!'"

Is this not the spirit to approach this and all such similar controversies?