Brethren Archive
The Year 1865

Christian Baptism, What is it? A Scriptural Inquiry

by C.H. Mackintosh

Stephen said ...

CHM followed up this lengthy article some years later (in 1871) with a short paper, entitled "On Baptism", which can be found here:

Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 : 01:53
Theophilus said ...

It must not be supposed that this pamphlet is by CHM. If so, where is the evidence?

Monday, Aug 12, 2019 : 06:05
Stephen said ...

The evidence is fourfold: (1) the title, consisting of a topic followed by the text "What Is It?" is characteristic of CHM; (2) the style of writing is consistent with other papers by CHM; (3) the last page of the pamphlet lists other pamphlets available "By C. H. M."; (4) this pamphlet is written in the form of an inquiry and CHM writes in "On Baptism" (some years later), "I have for thirty-two years been asking, in vain, for a single line of scripture for baptizing any save believers or those who professed to believe.  Reasonings I have had, inferences, conclusions, and deductions; but of direct scripture authority not one tittle".  Others can assess for themselves whether this evidence is sufficient to establish CHM's authorship.

Monday, Aug 12, 2019 : 19:05
Tom said ...
That sounds pretty convincing to me Stephen. I don't know if Theophilus is aware of any other theory for it's authorship?
Monday, Aug 12, 2019 : 22:18
Martin Arhelger said ...
Josiah Sanders Teulon wrote a hostile book about brethren: "The history and teaching of the Plymouth Brethren", see here
and here:
Teulon writes on page 83: "Mr. Mackintosh in his 'Christian Baptism, what is it? A Scriptural Inquiry,' regards it indeed as an ordinance of Christ . . ." etc.
This proves that the authorship of Mackintosh was even known by authors not with "Brethren".
Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 : 04:17
Theophilus said ...

Stephen, You need to carefully ponder CHM's note in Things New and Old vol. 15 (1872) page 48. There he says, “For my own part—seeing the question has been thus forced upon me” etc. Impossible that he could have written these words (the question being forced upon him) if seven years earlier he had of his own volition published a pamphlet on the controversy. Also, he takes great care to distinguish himself as replying to A.M., London [without doubt his friend Andrew Miller], giving his initials, his editorship of TN&O, and even the date and place of writing. Would a writer who goes to such lengths to reveal his identity hide under a cloak of anonymity seven years earlier? I think not. Again he says, “I complain not of any who conscientiously hold this or that view on the subject; but I do complain of those who instead of preaching and teaching Jesus Christ, are disturbing the minds of God's people by pressing [a particular view of baptism].” Does it seem likely that someone who writes thus would be found pressing a particular view of baptism seven years earlier? Especially as then he was actively engaged in preaching and teaching the Lord Jesus in the aftermath of the 1859 revival, and when all of his written output was appearing in Things New and Old. I think not. Again, if someone so prominent as CHM was the author, we might expect some record of it to have come down to us in the correspondence of the period by JND, WK, or other brethren. Their silence is deafening. Lastly, it would have been totally out of character for CHM to have engaged in polemics on baptism.

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 : 20:56
Theophilus said ...
In response to the fourfold 'evidence':
(1) All CHM's topical titles with “What is It” clearly carried his initials. This one does not. That is very significant. A title with “What is It” is easily copied. It proves nothing as to authorship.
(2) This is subjective, but I for one would dispute that the style is consistent with other papers by CHM. Also, the author quotes learned authors, not something CHM was accustomed to doing, and also refers to Greek, in which CHM was not proficient.
(3) So, “The last page of the pamphlet lists other pamphlets available
'By C. H. M.' ” And why would it not? Since CHM was Morrish's best-selling author, it was natural to advertise his pamphlets widely. Other pamphlets and books by other writers also carry his lists at the back. The argument is also a double-edged sword. I have seen many lists of books and tracts by CHM. In not one that I am aware of is “Christian Baptism: What is It” ascribed to CHM. Nor is it included in “Miscellaneous Writings of CHM”. Surely the publisher would have known to include it if by CHM.
(4) “Christian Baptism: What is It” masquerades under the form of an inquiry, but in reality is a strong polemic for the baptism of believers, not the approach CHM took. This is not CHM's style. Any superficial resemblance to his later note is merely casual. It is not a controversy he engaged in, nor would have wished to engage in, as he pointed out in TN&O.
Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 : 21:32
Theophilus said ...

Martin, The citation from prebendary Teulon proves nothing other than his own supposition. William Kelly in his review indicates that he was not well informed. The French edition of Plain Papers on Prophetic Subjects was initially wrongly attributed to CHM. In many of the attacks on the brethren by unsympathetic writers tracts were attributed to wrong authors. But it does seem the title “Christian Baptism: What is It?” was framed to give the impression the pamphlet was written by CHM, so we may understand Teulon's confusion, as others more recent. The British Museum librarians were well-informed [where the Google scan originated] and they listed the pamphlet as anonymous. I have seen it on an internet site under the initials CHM, but this is quite reckless. Nevertheless if proper evidence of authorship can be adduced, I am willing to be a convert.

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 : 21:54
Stephen said ...

Theophilus, The well-known words from Shakespeare's Hamlet come to mind, "The Lady doth protest too much, methinks".

(1) Concerning baptism, Jesus' commission to His disciples is clear: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". Matthew 28:19. Jesus instructs His disciples to baptize persons "of all the nations" who have become disciples through their evangelical work and teaching ministry. I urge you to read the article and discern whether what is written is consistent with the Holy Scriptures.

(2) I agree that Teulon was not well-informed concerning doctrines held by brethren, but this does not automatically translate into "confusion" concerning the authorship of this article.  I believe that Martin's conclusion concerning Mackintosh's authorship is quite convincing.  Furthermore, C. H. M. is known to have published some of his articles anonymously (according to the Editor's Preface to the First Volume of "Short Papers on Scripture Subjects", by C. H. Mackintosh), but the editor notes, "This casts no uncertainty upon their authorship, since C. H. M.'s style is quite peculiar to himself, and easily recognized by anyone who is familiar with his writings".  I have read much of CHM's writings and I stand by what I wrote in my August 12 comment above.  In a situation like this, we do not have 100% certainty, but the preponderance of evidence points to C. H. M.'s authorship.

(3) I note that you altered the phraseology to read "... by pressing [a particular view of baptism]" when quoting a sentence in CHM's article "On Baptism". The full sentence, in context, reads as follows in the published article: "I believe the course of some of our friends, in urging on this question of baptism will, unless God in His mercy interpose, lead to most disastrous results. I complain not of any who conscientiously hold this or that view on the subject; but I do complain of those, who instead of preaching and teaching Jesus Christ, are disturbing the minds of God's people by pressing infant baptism upon them." From Short Papers on Scripture Subjects, volume 2, page 274, by C. H. Mackintosh - from "Things New and Old".

Friday, Aug 16, 2019 : 18:28
Tom said ...

Thank you Stephen,

Another proverb that might be relevant is "There are none so blind as those who will not see". I have found it is generally useless trying to reason with those who practice what is called "infant baptism", of the Biblical truth on the matter, as they have already made their minds up for other reasons what they want to believe. Of course what they call "infant baptism" ("household baptism" the term they prefer to use is a mis-nona), is no baptism at all. Even the world recognises this now, as it is almost always referred to simply as Christening in our day. Dedicating a new born child to the Lord, none could argue with, but in forcing this man-made institution upon it, and potentially keeping the child from fulfilling the Lord's command at an appropriate time later in life is both dangerous and damaging.

As to the evidence presented above, the quote Martin has shared from Teulon would almost be convincing in it's own right, yet with that and the other evidence alluded to, one can have no realistic doubt about the authorship. This actually provides a good illustration about a common misconception of statistics; ie. the probability that any of the pieces of evidence by themselves were incorrect could not be discounted, but the probability of all of them being incorrect at the same time (what we call conditional probability) is much smaller. Also to question the reliability of Teulon's information on the basis that there is the odd example of other authors being attributed incorrectly is disingenuous, as it is presented above in a manner which would suggest these two pieces of information weigh off against each other, whereas in reality there are 1,000s of correct attributations to compare with a handful or so of incorrect ones.

Monday, Aug 19, 2019 : 17:23
Michael said ...

I'm totally neutral as to CHM's authorship and pretty tolerant as to baptism, but I must confess that I find Theophilus' arguments more convincing, especially his observation that the pamphlet doesn't appear in any contemporary list of CHM's writings. The editors of What is it? Ministry of Charles Henry Mackintosh also seem to have had their doubts since they didn't include Christian Baptism in the volume.

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 : 05:53
Tom said ...
The conclusion of those arguments would be that somebody deliberately and obviously wrote a pamphlet to impersonate C.H.M., I assume to add a sense of authority to what was written. The pamphlet then was published by Morrish et all, clearly under the illusion it was written by CHM .. and yet never did anyone, neither C.H.M. or any of the peudo-baptists, write one sentence to state he was not the author. Surely he would have received written questions about it, and yet we are to believe he never took the simple step of distancing himself from that which he apparently didn't write? It seems extremely unlikely to me.
Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 : 06:15
Martin Arhelger said ...
On page 1 the tract says in the footnote: "this tract has in no way emanated from the recent discussion on this subject; it was under consideration before that controversy arose."
Can anyone enlighten me as to this "recent discussion"?
The last page of the booklet advertises "Things New and Old" Vols 1-7 (that is 1858 - 1864). From this I gather that the tract itself was published in 1865.
Friday, Aug 23, 2019 : 00:55
Martin Arhelger said ...
Personally I don't have any interest in attributing this tract to CHM or not. But I want to add a word about the style of the tract:

Only looking at the first page, I found at least two expressions which are typical of Mackintosh's writings:

1) The phrase "in the face of all this". Using the google search of STEMpublishing I could verify that CHM used this phrase at least 7 times in his writings. All other writers of STEMpublishing together used it only 5 times - no other single writer using it more than once. (These 5 users cannot be the authors: JND's opinion differed from the writer's and WTPW, HS, WWF and AJP were too young to be authors of a tract in 1865.

2) Another characteristic expression of CHM is "thoughts and opinions" (in a negative sense: human thoughts and opinions in opposition to God's thoughts). I found this phrase 8 times in CHM's writings and about the same frequency by all other writers together - all of whom (with the exception of an unknown writer in the Christian Friend) were living too late or of different opinion to be author of our tract (namely FBH, SR, JTM and WJH).

Examinationg otherer pages will probably give more hints about CHM's authorship. This is no strict prove but a hint.

Friday, Aug 23, 2019 : 01:35
Theophilus said ...
I had assumed that the reference was to the baptismal regeneration controversy following a sermon by Spurgeon in mid-1864.
Friday, Aug 23, 2019 : 06:24

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