Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 10, 1971

"The Dipper"

Robert H. Farish

The following is taken from the "Life of Elder John Smith" by John Augustine Williams:

"Soon after this, he went out on Slate Creek, and began to preach the Ancient Gospel among the Methodist and Baptists of that region. An itinerant of the Methodist Church was already on the ground, and the attention of the people was soon divided between the two preachers. Smith had but few brethren in the neighborhood, and the views of the Pedobaptist generally prevailed. The two congregations met in groves not far apart, and each emulated the enthusiasm of the other. Soon a number of anxious penitents found religion at the Methodist altar; and soon Smith began to immerse believers on the profession of their faith in Christ.

One day, a mother brought her infant into the Methodist congregation, that it might receive baptism at the hands of her preacher. Water was applied according to the custom of his Church, no regard being paid to the cries and struggles of the child, that with all its strength resisted the ordinance.

On the next day, Smith, in the presence of all the people, who crowded the banks of the beautiful stream hard by, led forth ten persons, one by one, into the water, and immersed them for the remission of sins. Seeing the Methodist preacher in the crowd, he walked up from the stream, and pressed through to the place where he stood. The song went on; for the people supposed that another candidate was about to be buried in baptism. Seizing the preacher by the arm, he pulled him gently but firmly along toward the water. Resistance would have been in vain; for the Dipper, as the people now began to call him, was a man of powerful muscle.

"What are you going to do, Mr. Smith?" said the man, uncertain what the strange procedure meant.

"What am I going to do!" said Smith, affecting surprise at the question; "I am going to baptize you, sir!"

"But I do not wish to be baptized," said the man, trying to smile at what he deemed to be rather an untimely jest, if, indeed, it was a jest at all.

"Do you not believe?" said Smith.

"Certainly I do," said the preacher.

"Then, come along, sir," said the Dipper, pulling him still nearer the water; "believers must be baptized!"

"But," said the man, now uneasy at the thought that possibly it might not be a joke at all, "I'm not willing to go. It certainly would do me no good to be baptized against my will."

Smith now raised his voice so that the multitude could hear, for the song had ceased, and every ear was open to catch his words. "Did you not," said he, "but yesterday, baptize a helpless babe against its will, though it shrunk from your touch, and kicked against your baptism? Did you get its consent first, sir? Come along with me, for you must be baptized!" and with one movement of his powerful arm, he pulled the unwilling subject to the water's edge. The preacher loudly and earnestly protested, and the Dipper released his hold. Looking him steadily in the face he said:

"You think, sir, that it is all right to baptize others by violence, when you have the physical power to do it; but when you yourself are made the unwilling subject, you say it is wrong, and will do no good. You may go for the present; but, brethren and friends," said he, lifting up his voice to the people, who now perceived the purpose of the jest, "let me know if he ever again baptizes others without their full consent; for you yourselves have heard him declare that such a baptism can not possibly do any good!"

But little mirthfulness was excited by this scene, for it deeply impressed the people; in fact, a thousand arguments could have done no more."

Box 141, Lewisville, Texas