"It is true, that the word Baptism is often taken in a Figurative and Allegorical Sense, to mean the INWARD BAPTISM, the Washing, or Cleansing of the Heart: But so is the word Washing also, as often, as Jer. iv. 14. &c. And there is scarce a Word in the World but is capable of many Figurative and Allegorical Meanings."
— Leslie, Charles (1650-1722)
The Quakers will not own that the Baptism here mentioned was the Outward, or Water-baptism: Which I will endeavour to make very plain, that it was; and that in the first place,
From the Signification and Etymology of the word Baptize.
1. The word is a Greek word, and only made English by our constant usage of it: It signifies to Wash, and is applied to this Sacrament of Baptism, because that is an outward Washing.
To Wash and to Baptize are the very same; and if the word Baptize had been rendred into English, instead of, Go and BAPTIZE, it must have been said, Go and WASH Men, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. So that the outward Baptism, with Water, is as much here commanded, as if it had been expressed in English words, or as we can now express it.
But because the word Baptize was grown a Technical Term, in other Languages, whereby to express the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, long before our English Translation, therefore our Translators did rightly retain the word Baptize in this Text, Matth. xxviii. 19. and in other Texts which speak of that Holy Sacrament.
But in other places they translate the word Baptize, as Mark vii. 4. When they come from the Market ??? ?? ??π????????, except they are Baptized, which we literally translate except they Wash. And in the same Verse, ??π??????? π???????, &c. The Baptisms of Cups and Pots, &c. which we translate the Washing of Cups and Pots. And Heb. ix. 10. speaking of these Legal Institutions, which stood only in Meats and Drinks, and divers Washings, and carnal Ordinances, &c. the word which we here translate Washings, is, in the Original, ??π???????, Baptisms: In Meats and Drinks, and divers Baptisms. And in the Vulgar Latin, the Greek word is retained in both
these Texts, Mark vii. 4. Nisi Baptizentur, non Comedunt. Except they are Baptized, i.e. Wash their Hands, they eat not. And Baptismata Calicum, &c. The Baptisms of Cups, &c. And Heb. ix. 10. In Cibis & Pontibus, & variis Baptismatibus, i.e. In Meats and Drinks, and divers Baptisms. So that it is plain that the word Baptism, and the word Washing, tho' not the same word, have yet the self-same meaning.
2. It is true, that the word Baptism is often taken in a Figurative and Allegorical Sense, to mean the INWARD BAPTISM, the Washing, or Cleansing of the Heart: But so is the word Washing also, as often, as Jer. iv. 14. &c. And there is scarce a Word in the World but is capable of many Figurative and Allegorical Meanings. Thus Circumcision is very often used for the Inward Circumcision or Purity of the Heart. And Fire is taken to express Love, and likewise Anger, and many other things.
But it is a received Rule for the Interpretation of Scripture, and indeed of all other Writings and Words, that the plain Literal Meaning is always to be taken, where there is no manifest Contradiction or Absurdity in it; as when a Man is said to have a Fire burning in his Breast, it cannot be meant of the Literal Fire: So when we are commanded to Wash or Circumcise our Hearts, and the like. But on the other hand, if any Man will take upon him to understand Words in a Figurative Sense, at his own will and pleasure, without an apparent Necessity from the Scope and Coherence, he sets up to Banter, and leaves no Certainty in any Words or Expressions in the World. Therefore I will conclude this Point of the natural Signification and Etymology of the word Baptize: And, unless the Quakers can shew an apparent Contradiction or Absurdity to take it in the Literal Signification, in this Text, Matth. xxviii. 19. then it must be meant of the OUTWARD WASHING or BAPTISM, because that is the only True, and Proper, and Literal Signification of the Word.
And it will be further Demonstrated in the next Section, that there can be no Contradiction or Absurdity to take it in a Literal Sense, because the Apostles, and Others thereunto Commissionated by them, did Practise it, in the Literal Sense.