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and import, are not worth a moment spent in disputing. And I verily believe, that this latter question, as it is termed, does so essentially affect the former, that if the true import of infant baptism had been clearly maintained in the church, both in practice and in doctrine, the Baptist dispute had never existed.
I must also disagree with our author, that it is either our duty or our privilege, to baptize our children, when we do not rightly understand the purport of the institution. God winked at the ignorant worship and superstition of ancient Pagans; but it does not follow, that he will so far indulge a similar grossness in us. Many of the Jews, at the time of Christ, though they utterly perverted the meaning and import of circumcision; yet they tenaciously practised it. But was it either their duty or their privilege? Their taking upon them the sign of circumcision, thus detached from its true import and instruction, was no evidence that Abraham was their father. On the contrary, it was the greatest possible evidence against them, that they were of their father the Devil, and were liars; for by thus putting a false sense upon the ordinance of God, they did the works of him who was a liar from the beginning.
Our Lord gave commission to his ministers, saying, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and "of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." We are commanded, therefore, to teach people the nature and import of the gospel covenant, previ ously to applying the seal. They who Christ thus sent to teach and baptize, were surely themselves taught the true import and profit of baptism. And if we do not understand, but have yet to learn, what is the purport of the institution, it is because we have run, when the Lord has not
sent us. As a Protestant professor, I solemnly protest against the sentiment of our author, that we ought to observe the institution of baptism, whither we understand the true import of it or not, as being unwarranted, superstitious, most dangerous, and, in the face of our divine commission, to teach and baptize." It is a snare to the "man who devoureth that which is holy, and "after vows to make inquiry."
Our author conceives that it is improper for the Baptists to "hold a language, as if it were "incumbent on us to shew what is the import "of Infant Baptism, in order to prove its obliga"tions." As a Pædobaptist, I must acknowledge that I feel a deep conviction, from the practical nature of the ordinance, that it is incumbent on us to shew to the Baptists, and to all others, what is the import and profit of this institution. And I have not the least idea, that we shall ever afford to them proper conviction of its obligations, until this be done. This is surely the all important question.
In the discourses, the question is brought up, as from an objector, "What good can it do in"fants to be baptised?" Another question follows, which is doubtless pertinent to the answer. "What good could it do the infants of the "church, anciently, to be circumcised? But here our author might have paused, and remembered that the infants of the church, anciently, were a part of that people who were saved of the Lord......they were a part of that people whom the Lord took to himself to be a peculiar people, whom he called his own, his Israel, his son, and his first-born, and was not ashamed to call himself their God. They were a part of that people among whom he walked to make them high in name and in praise above all the nations of the earth. Those infants composed a part of that
Koly nation of which Jehovah was king; an inseparable part of that body, of which Christ was the head; and of that family, of which it's Maker was it's Husband. Those infants, equally, and on the same ground with their parents, were heirs of the good land, and of the blessings of Jacob, according to the promise. Those infants. were intitled to the privileges of that covenant people; and according to their capacities, were subject to the government of that church, the same as their parents; as completely so, as the children of the United States are intitled to the common privileges, and subject to the laws and authorities of this nation. These are undeniable facts. And all these high privileges, and glori ous relations, were signified and sealed to them by circumcision.
But our author denies that our infants have such a standing in the church; therefore, as the cases are so infinitely dissimilar, for an answer to the question, what profit is there in Infant Baptism? to point to the circumcision, anciently, of the infant of the church, is, for him, nothing to the purpose.
The foregoing remarks are deemed sufficient. to shew, that the grounds taken in the discourses, are hostile to the institution of infant baptism, repugnant to the scriptures, and subversive of the hope of the gospel..
As our eye has been upon the scheme of our author, we have not so directly brought into view the opposite sentiments; and therefore, in this place, it may be proper to set down the the grounds on which Infant Baptism has usually been defended.
1stly. That the promises are all in Christ, and they are made to the church and people, bear ing his name, only as being one with him,
2dly. That the infant children of the church,
are a part of this people, inseparably one with their parents in Christ; and that this is signified and sealed by their baptism.
3dly. That God has bestowed upon his church and people, outright, the unspeakable gift of a king and a country; his Christ, with all his glories! and his goodly mountain, with all its riches!
4thly. That this people, as a body, stand related to Christ and the blessings in him, as the tree does to its root; and every individual, as the branch to the vine.
5thly. That in this standing, the whole, and every individual, old and young, are intitled to the privileges and blessings peculiar to the church and people of God; and, for one and the same reason, viz. their relation to Christ.
6thly. That this relation takes place according to the good pleasure of God, by virtue of his own covenant, and not by their faith and obedience, so that the relation may exist where faith and uprightness does not.
7thly. That persons who have this standing may, therefore, loose it; for though friendship and faith be not the things which constitute membership in communities; yet, in the nature and fitness of things, love to our country, and fidelity to our government, are indispensable duties in such a relation; and absolutely necessary in order to preserve a standing. Hence, the branch may be cut off from the tree or vine, which is a fearful case; and through unbelief, this, in many instances, has taken place; and there is now the greatest reason to fear, and we ought to take warning, lest some of us should fall after the same example of unbelief.
8thly. That this does not in the least affect the doctrines of election, perseverance, &c. because the election covenant, or covenant of redemption between the Father and Son, and the covenant
of promise made with Abraham, are in many respects distinct things.
In consistency with these grounds the Scriptures may be understood and reconciled......The reason is apparent, why it is said, that Esau sold his birth-right: Why also that the murmurers and provokers in the wilderness were disinherited; that the Jews, rejecting Christ, though the natural branches of the good olive tree, were broken off; that the children of the kingdom shall be cast out; and that, If a man abide not in me, Christ, he is cast forth as A BRANCH, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned, John xv. 6.
We can understand, in consistency with these grounds, why God styled himself the God of Israel; of the individuals of ever description, as well as of the whole body......We can understand how it was, that, in the covenant sense, he called himself the God of them to whom he gave the law; and how he could say to that hypocritical people who are addressed, and against whom he testified, in the fiftieth Psalm, I am God, even thy God; and why, also, they who received not Christ were called his own, John i. 11. Upon this ground we can understand why the children of believers are called holy, they are in the holy covenant; and why they are addressed particularly in the Epistles addressed to the Churches, to the saints, &c. These children are in the churches, and the Lord has sanctified them for himself........They are the Lambs of the Flock, of which Christ is the Shepherd.
On this ground we need not oppose the common sense and experience of evangelical people, by bringing up to them the style of the covenant of works, and talking of proposals and conditions and of working ourselves and our children into covenant with God.