« PreviousContinue »
the baptism of any, but to be satisfied, they are Baptized, before they are admitted into communion with it*." It will be easily seen, that these opinions of Dr. Gill coincide with those, which I have advanced, in every particular but one. He supposes baptized persons not to be members of the Church in any sense. I consider them, as members of the Church General, but nol of a particular church.
The way is now prepared for an answer to the objection, which we are examining. Persons, baptized in Infancy, are baptized on the ground of that Profession of Religion, which their parents have made, when they themselves became members of particular churches. This I shall have occasion to show hereafter. . At present I shall take it for granted. Whenever they themselves make the same profession of Religion; they become entitled to communion at the sacramental table in any church, which acknowledges their baptism, and their profession, to be scriptural. This communion is that, which is customarily called Occasional communion : such, as a member of one church enjoys with another, of the same communion. Whenever they enter into a Church-covenant; and engage to adopt the worship, fellowship, and discipline, agreed upon by a particular church; they then, and not till then, become members of a particular church. I have heretofore shown, that a profession of religion was necessary to constitute us members of the church of Christ. It has been here shown, and I hope satisfactorily, that what may be called a Church-covenant is indispensable to constitute us Members of particular churches.
If these things be admitted; the situation of persons, baptized in their Infancy, becomes sufficiently plain, with regard to their communion at the Sacramental table. Those particularly, whom I am opposing, cannot, so far as they admit the opinions of Dr. Gill, object any longer to the Baptism of Infants on this score.
With respect to the discipline of persons, baptized in Infancy, my own views are these. It is chiefly committed to their Parents and Guardians; and is supremely administered in religious
* Gill's Body of Divinity, Vol. III. p. 311.
education, involving instruction, habituation, and government; duties respecting the person baptized, which are of no small importance, and are incumbent also on the Church and on its individual members. But the consideration of this subject, I shall resume, when I come to the examination of Christian-discipline.
THE EXTRAORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.
FOR INFANT BAPTISM.
MATTHEW xxvii. 19.
Go ye, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In the preceding discourse, I considered the principal objections of the Antipedobaptists to the Doctrine under consideration, so far as I recollected them. I shall now proceed to offer some direct arguments, to prove that Infants are proper Subjects of Baptismt.
1. Infants were circumcised in the Church, under the Abrahamic Dispensation : Circumcision was the same ordinance with Baplism: therefore Infants are to be baptized.
The Covenant, made with Abraham, was that, which is made with the Church, under the Christian Dispensation. To Abraham God said, Genesis xvii. 7, I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an ever. lasting covenant ; to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. In Lev. xxvi. 3, 12, it is said, If ye walk in my statules, and keep my commandments, and do them, then will I walk among you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people. In conformity to this language, Moses declares to the Israelites, Deut. xxvi. 17, after they had entered into a solemn, public, national covenant with God, Thou hast avouched the Lord, this day, to be thy God; and the Lord hath avouched thee, this day, to be his people.
In conformity to this covenant, God styled himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and afterwards the God of Israel; JEHOVAH, God of Israel; and TRE Holy One of Israel. Moses, and the Prophets, addressing the Israelites, call him perpetually your God; and, when addressing the nation as one, thy God. But notbing is more evident, than that God could not be the God of Israel, or of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in any sense, in which he is not the God of all na. tions, and of all individuals, except by his own sovereign and gracious determination, expressed in his covenant. Equally evident is it, that no inspired man would style him the God of this nation, or of these individuals, but by his appointment. It deserves to be remarked, that he is never styled the God of Ephraim, nor the God of Judah. The Covenant was not made with either of these divisions of Israel, separately considered, but with the whole nation. Nor is he ever styled the God of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Solomon, Hezekiah, or Josiah ; the Cove. nant having never been made, in form, with either of these persons. But he is styled the God of David, with whom he renewed this covenant in a peculiar form. See 1 Kings vii. and i Chron. xvii.
God is also called, as you well know, the God of Zion, or of his Church, for the same reason; to wit, that his covenant is made with her.
Now this is the very Covenant, which is made with the Church under the Christian Dispensation. Of this the evidence is unanswerable. St. Paul, quoting in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, from the thirty-first of Jeremiah, verses 31—34, says, For if that first covenant had been faultless, to wit, the Covenant made at Sinai, of which Moses was the mediator, then should no place have been found for the second : to wit, that
of which the Apostle here declares Christ to be the Mediator. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah: not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand, to lead them out of the Land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel, After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts : and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people : And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord ; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquities, will I remember no more. It will be observed, that the words of this covenant are the same with the words of that, which was made with Abraham ; as, from time to time, publicly and solemnly repeated by the nation of Israel; and the same in substance with those, which God himself used in his original promulgation of the covenant to that Patriarch: all, that is involved in this covenant, being expressed in this single, comprehensive declaration, I WILL BE YOUR GOD, AND YE SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
As the Prophet Jeremiah has informed us; as St. Paul, quoting his declarations, and commenting upon them, has informed us; that this is the covenant, made with the Church under the Christian dispensation; we cannot, without doing violence to the piainest language of the Scriptures, hesitate concerning this truth. As God made this very covenant with Abraham; as Mo. ses, and all the inspired men who followed him in the nation of Israel, have declared these to be the very words of that covenant; it cannot, as I think, even with decency, be denied to be the same covenant.
But in this covenant, God expressly promised to be a God to Abraham, and to his seed. The proper import of these words is explained by God himself, when promulging the covenant to Abraham, Gen. xvii. 10-14, in a manner, which seems to admit of but one construction. This is my covenant, which ye shall