An Important Explanation
The reader's attention is called to a matter which may create confusion if not understood. Section 14 of Chapter One begins the author's recital of quotations from the early fathers. These quotations continue on into those of writers of later centuries.
Some of the early quotations, while confirming adult immersion, seem to imply baptismal regeneration, as, for example, the quotations from Barnabas, Chapter 1, Section 14; from Justin Martyr, Chapter 2, Section 4, second paragraph; and others which will be obvious to the critical reader.
Two explanations are offered for these apparent contradictions of Baptist conviction on believer's baptism: (1) There was already creeping into beliefs of the early Christians the idea that baptism had something to do with one's salvation, for baptismal regeneration is the earliest heresy this side of Judaism. (2) Many of these writers expressed themselves in very definite symbolism, so that the symbol is made to appear to be the real sense which it is intended to represent.
This is not without abundant precedent in the New Testament. For example, in Acts 22:16, Paul in recounting his conversion says:
"Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Without the teaching on salvation from the rest of the New Testament, one would be led to believe that Paul meant that actual water baptism washed away his sins, while it is obvious that he is using this expression in a symbolic sense. Another good example is in John 6:53, 54. Jesus here speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It is obvious again that the expression is symbolic, though it seems to say that one must eat His actual flesh and drink His actual blood.
In such a sense the early Christian writers often expressed themselves.
Furthermore, the historian uses these quotations to prove especially that adult baptism is all that is known in this time, by showing that each candidate for baptism was required to think and act for himself. No infant baptism known in these early times is the historian's contention.