« 上一页继续 »
availed with these teachers, it was virtually given. For it was authoritatively determined in Apostolic council, that the Gentile brethren-those who had been baptized had no need to be circumcised..
2. It is objected that the Jewish believers knew noth-, ing of the substitution of baptism in place of circumcision, as they continued, under the direction of the Apostles, to circumcise their children. But why did the Apostles, or any of them; permit the Jewish converts to circumcise their children? Not, surely, because they regarded circumcision as still binding. They acted in this case, as in many others, from a commendable regard in things indifferent, to the long established customs and prejudices of the Jews. As the import of the two ordinances was the same, and the relation of children to the church was intended to be continued, they saw, no inconsistency in yielding, for a time, to this feeling of the Jewish converts. But this same feeling of regard, which led the Apostles to tolerate circumcision, would prompt them not · to enlarge on the substitution of baptism in its place. .'
3. It is urged that baptism cannot have come in the place of circumcision, since the latter was applied to none but males. But why was circumcision applied to none but males ? Not because of anything in its internal import, which rendered it improper that it should be administered to females ; for these were included in the covenant with Abraham, and were really of the circumcision, as much as the males.* The reason lay in the peculiar nature of the external ceremony. God, in his wisdom, instituted a token of his covenant, under the former dispensation, which could be applied to but one of
'* No uncircumcised person was allowed to partake of the Passover Yet females partook of it as well as males ; (See Luke ii. 41.) which show's that though they bore not the external mark, they were regarded as of the circumcisior.
the sexes. In the exercise of the same wisdom, he has appointed a token under the present dispensation, which can be applied to both. And to use the language of Mr. Flavel: “ Cannot baptism stand in the place of circumcision, because it answers all its ends, with an advantage ?”
-We know that, under the former dispensation, a distinction obtained between the sexes in regard to most divine institutions. But this distinction is now in general abolished; so that under the Gospel, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female.” Both sexes participate equally in Christ, and have equal access to the ordinances of his kingdom.
4. It is objected again, that if baptism has come in the place of circumcision, then servants as well as children must be baptized. Abraham was commanded to circumcise him that was " bought with money of any stranger, which was not of his seed.”—To this it may.be replied, . that certain practices were tolerated under the former dispensation, which are at present disallowed. Such were polygamy, slavery, &c. Unless it can be shown that the New Testament authorizes the purchase and holding of slaves, and of consequence the slave trade, the case so far as it is objectionable, can no more lawfully occur.*
5. It is farther objected that, on the ground we have taken, baptism cannot be lawfully administered to children sooner or later than the eighth day. “He that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you.”—The. reason why circumcision was enjoined on the eighth day.
* It is believed that children, who are taken permanently into the families and under the care and government of professing Christians, may with propriety be baptized. Christians may consistently be sponsors for such children. They may enter into covenant respecting them that they will train them up for God, and may seal their engagements in the water of baptism.
is clearly expressed in the law of Moses. "If a woman have borne a man child; she shall be unclean seven days, and on the eighth day he shall be circumcised." Lev. xii. 2, 3. On account of the mother's uncleanness, her child · could not lie at her breast, or so much as touch her, until after seven days, without contracting ceremonial pollution. And on the eighth day it must be circumcised. The language of the covenant was then virtually this, ' Let the child be circumcised as soon as possible.' And such is still its language in respect to baptism.' .
The principles which have been here established fur'nish a reply to an objection which is sometimes urged against the baptism of children. 'If baptism signifies regeneration, then why should it be applied to children, or to any but hopefully regenerated persons ? But circumcision signified regeneration as much as baptism ; and yet this was expressly commanded to be applied to children. The truth is, that while both circumcision and baptism shadow forth regeneration, and import its necessity, they do not of themselves certify that all those to whom they are applied are regenerated persons. Baptism was administered by Philip to Simon the sorcerer ; but this did not prove him to be regenerated. And neither does circumcision or baptism, when applied to infants, indicate that they are, at the time, the subjects of a regenerating influence.
.:. Section V. The Infant Children of believing, covenanting parents are to be baptized.
This is the great point in controversy, in relation to the subjects of baptism. And it is a proposition, the truth of which may be inferred from what has been established in each of the preceding Sections.
If the Christian church is the same with the church of Israel, in which children were visibly dedicated to God; then doubtless they are to be dedicated still..
If the covenant with Abraham, the token of which be. longed to the offspring of those interested in it, is still the covenant of the visible church; then the members of this church are still under obligations to apply the token to their infant children. ...
If the children of covenanting parents sustain a rela- .. tion to the visible church, as they did to the church of. Israel; then they must be proper subjects of that rite by which this relation is established..
And if baptism is substituted in place of circumcision which was applied, by a divine command, to the seed of covenanting parents; then the same divine command now binds the covenanting parent to apply baptismal water to his infant offspring.
Here is the foundation of infant baptism ;-a foundation as sure as the word of God, -and on which the ordinance, I doubt not, will rest, till the end of time.
What remains is to introduce some collateral evidence in support of the proposition, that the children of believing covenanting parents are to be baptized. And,
1. The sentiment contained in this proposition, is reasonable in itself, and in accordance with our best affections. In the children of those we love, we all naturally feel a peculiar interest. A good Prince would wish and provide, that the children of his beloved and faithful friends should be placed in a near relation to himself. And shall it be supposed that the Prince of life will not regard with tokens of peculiar favor the children of his covenant people? Will he not grant them some special pledge of love? Will he take his people under the shadow of his wings, and make no special provision for their offspring. In his care of the sheep, will he forget the
lambs of his flock ?-And how reasonable that the pious parent, who loves his children and is chiefly concerned for their spiritual welfare, should wish to place them under the particular care and protection of Jehovah ;should wish publicly to dedicate and devote them to God, and bind himself by solemn vows to train them up for him ?*
2. The analogy of God's covenant dealings in past ages is in favor of the doctrine of infant baptism. In all the '. covenants which God has hitherto made with men, children have been connected with their parents. Thus it was in the covenant with Adam; and in the covenant with Noah; and in the covenant with Abraham; and in the covenant with David. · God dealt favorably with the children of Lot for their father's sake ; and he declares himself to be a God, keeping covenant with those that love him “ to a thousand generations.” How unlikely then, let the covenant of the Christiani church be what it may, that God has swerved from the invariable economy
of his covenant dealings in past ages, and cut off children : under the gospel froin any kind of connexion with their covenanting parents
3. If infant baptism is not according to Scripture, then the privileges of-believers under the present dispensation are less than they were formerly under the law. It is a precious privilege to the enlightened Christian parent, to bring .his beloved children to Christ; publicly to resign them into his hands; promise to educate them according to his precepts; and to see affixed to them the token of his holy covenant. It is a privilege " to do this in the temple of God, where the prayers of many will ascend with his own to the Lord of heaven and earth, for a blessing.” As believing parents formerly enjoyed this privilege, it is unreasonable to suppose that they are de
* Se Appendix, Note F.