Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Baptism

I found the following as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: Baptism", The Juvenile Instructor 13/03 (1 February 1878): 34.
Next in order to repentance we find baptism. Perhaps our young readers will be surprised to learn that a variety of opinions exist among the so-called Christians of our day, not only as to the mode, but as to the object, or intent, of baptism.

Some hold that it is a mere outward sign of inward grace, and may be administered by any one who thinks, from some impression of the mind, that he is called to preach, no matter whether he is ordained by proper authority or not.

There are but few, except the Latter-day Saints, who will admit that it has anything to do with people's salvation. There are many who have no other baptism than sprinkling a little water in the candidates' faces, which is generally when they are infants. There are different churches who do this. Another mode is for the candidates to kneel down in the water, or in a meeting house, and have water poured on their heads. Some believe in being immersed once with their faces upwards, others three times, face downwards, while others discard all baptism except that of the Holy Ghost. Some do not believe that baptism or any other outward ordinance is essential to salvation. In fact, I believe all, or nearly so, except the Campbellites, or Christian Baptists, look upon baptism and all other outward forms as having nothing to do with salvation.

The Book of Mormon tells us that those who baptize infants are in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity, and have cause to repent; because such little children are in a state of salvation already, and need no baptism. It also tells us that baptism is for the remission, or forgiveness, of sins; and that little children have no sins to be baptized for.

The Lord, in a revelation to Joseph Smith, said that all of the spirits that took bodies in this world were innocent and pure before Him until they became old enough to know right from wrong, or good from evil. Then, if they sinned, knowingly, they were guilty before Him; but not until then.

When some little children went up to Jesus, our great Redeemer, upon one occasion, His disciples thought a great man like He was would not like to be troubled with them; but He said "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Again He said, "Except ye become as a little child, ye can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven." Hence, you see, it is plain that they have no sins to be forgiven, and need no baptism.

Jesus taught very differently from what most religious people, except Latter-day Saints, teach in these days. A devout man, a religious ruler of the Jews, once came to Jesus by night, to find out what he should do to be saved. Jesus told him he must be born again, or he could not see the kingdom of God. He thought it very strange, and asked Jesus to explain what He meant. Then He said "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

I understand the birth first spoken of to mean a change of heart, which usually follows the preaching of the gospel, before repentance or baptism. For instance, your parents will tell you that when they conversed with the Elders, or heard them preach, the gospel appeared plain; and when they read the Bible then they could understand it as they never understood it before. They could see the beauty of the organization of the Church, with apostles, prophets, helps, gifts, etc. Receiving this reflection of life, I understand, is being "born again," in the sense implied by the Savior. It is seeing the kingdom and the way to enter it, which, as we have already shown, is by being born of water and of the spirit, or, in other words, by being immersed in water and receiving the Holy Ghost.

If there was no other scripture to prove that immersion was right, this would be sufficient, as a person could not be born of water, unless he were first buried in it.

Before Jesus was crucified, He chose and ordained twelve apostles, some quorums of seventies, etc. He told His apostles to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; that those who believed and were baptized should be saved, while those who did not believe should be damned. Hence you see it was just as necessary that they should be baptized as it was to believe; for they must do both if they would be saved. They were also promised certain gifts and powers if they would believe and obey the gospel. But we will talk more about these gifts hereafter. The apostle Paul tells the former-day Saints that they were buried with Christ in baptism. This is very plain; they were buried with water, like burying a corpse in the grave. In fact, he compares it to Christ being covered up in the tomb, where He was completely shut in, and coming out after the angel rolled the great stone from the door.

Baptism follows repentance, and is for the remission of sins. Peter taught this doctrine on the day of Pentecost.

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