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Cromwell, Indiana

Brother Beebe: - The Signs of the Times still continues to come as a welcome messenger to us, and we wish to have them continue to come as long as we can raise the money to pay for them. In your last you requested each subscriber to try to procure at least one additional subscriber, and I have done so. You will find the money enclosed, etc.

Brother Beebe, I am going to trouble you for your opinion. I will name the circumstances: We had two Baptist preachers here last spring, and there are five or six Baptist members here - but they are not organized in a church - and there were one or two who wished to be baptized, but the members, under present circumstances, did not wish to go into a constitution. Now, would it have been right or wrong for one of those preachers to have baptized those persons, if they had given him a satisfactory evidence of their hope in Christ? I would like to have your opinion on the subject.

William H. Smith

Reply: - If there was no Baptist church of our faith and order near, and the preacher, and the brethren in the vicinity, were satisfied that the applicants for baptism were proper subjects of the ordinance, we can see no valid reason why they should not be baptized on profession of their faith in Christ. The commission to preach the gospel, not only authorizes the commissioned ministers, but commands them to baptize believers, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The apostolic practice was to baptize all such, as in the case of Philip, and the Eunuch, the Jailer, Lydia, and many other instances. Yet, where there are constituted churches of the gospel faith and order, within a reasonable distance, it would be presuming for an itinerant minister to receive and baptize without the concurrence and fellowship of such church. Of course, we only speak of the case as stated above. We do not know whether the brethren mentioned were all agreed in regard to the reception into their fellowship of the persons wishing to be baptized: but on the supposition that there was nothing more in the way, the brethren being unorganized as a church, we should not regard as a valid objection, if that were all.

Middletown, N.Y.,
January 15, 1863

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 308 – 309