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ny as the Lord our God shall call.” The promise of the covenant terminates also, in those elect Gentiles, who are to be gathered in, to make up the one fold of the great Shepherd of Israel. The declaration assures us, that the promise still had a seminal descent, and ter minated upon their children, in the same manner that it did upon them. The reader is here referred to the explanations which have been given, respecting the seed. If then, being a subject of the covenant, consti. tuted membership, here is the continuance of infant membership
9. Another proof of the continuance of infant membership, and this, particularly among the Gentile bę. lievers, is presented in I. Corinthians vii. 14. “ For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean ; but now are they holy.”—
The force of the evidence, and it is certainly demon. strative, lies in the closing declaration ; but now are they holy. It is to be reinembered, that Corinth was a city of Greece; and that the believing adults of the Church, which was collected there, consisted principal. ly of converts from the Gentile inhabitants of that city. To them the apostle is speaking; not to a single indi. vidual ; but to the whole Church. The children of this whole Church, he expressly pronounces holy, in opposition to unclean. * Let the matter of enquiry, and the reason of the declaration be what they may, the declaration itself is conclusive, if the term holy, involve membership. To say that it does not, is to say, that here is a large collection of children, the offspring of believing parents, pronounced, by an inspired apostle, holy, who yet have no manner of spiritual relation to the Church of Christ; but-are as much of the world
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“ If any should say, that though the terms which the apostle uses are indiscriminate, and general, "else were your children unclean, but now are they holy," he really does not mean to be understood, as speaking of any other children, than such as were born of parents, in the particular condition mentioned in the context : I reply, that if children, who are the offspring of parents, one of whom only is a believer, are holy ; those children, who are the offspring of pa. rents, both believers, must certainly be holy. And all the children of this Church, and of every Church, must come under one or the other of these predica.
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(-as any children of Pagan unbelievers. To support
an assertion so opposite to the ordinary import of the term holy, must require some invention. But inven. tion, I apprehend, will be found a feeble auxiliary in this service..
The term holy, as it is used in the scriptures, has but two senses. A thing is holy internally, or externally ; in itself, or by some relation: As that which is unclean, must be so, internally or externally ; in itself, or by some relation. It is not necessary, that by the term holy, as used in the passage before us, we should understand that which is internal, or that all these children were subjects of real sanctification. Though, if this interpretation were to be adopted, the membership of infants would, it is evident, follow of course. For there can be no debate whether children, who are known and testified, by an infallible authori. ty, to be really sanctified, belong to the Church...
The térm holy, as it respects that which is visible; and by relation, has its determinate meaning in the scripture. The people of Israel, in their collective capacity, are repeatedly called holy. “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holy nation.". By this epithet, an idea is conveyed to us of their external character, as visibly separated from the world, and appropriated by covenant institution to God, as his peculiar people. We have mention made of holy ground, the most holy place—most holy offerings—most holy things of the holy mountain, and of the holy temple. All consecrated things are termed holy. Visible chris. tians are called holy, in distinction from profane men, who form another sort of society. The sense of the term holy, is precisely the same in all these cases. It intends peculiar appropriation to God, as his ; and this, as either subject to the covenant, or subservient to it. And what else do we, or can we mean by membership in the Church of Christ ? A consecration to God, and to his service, according to the provisions of the covenant of grace, involving a relative union to his people, is the essence of church membership.
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Forms are circumstantial things. Dedication, if it re? spect a person, amounts to this membership. To unite ourselves to the Church of Christ, is to dedicate ourselves to his service, in that Church ; and vice versa. The one is inseparable from the other. If a child is appropriated by God as his, it becomes necessa. rily a member of his kingdom, by virtue of that appropriation. Nothing less can possibly be signified by it. If it is dedicated by the parent, in an instituted manner, that dedication necessarily.involves mémber. ship. The meaning of the term holy, as used here, in opposition to unclean, has besides its explanation under divine, authority. . Acts x. 15. “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” This di. rection had respect to the ingathering of the Gentiles into the kingdom of the Messiah. Clean, or holy then, characterizes those who are brought into this kinga dom. But if this be the proper meaning of the term holy, as expressing a visible character or relation, the declaration of the apostle, respecting the children of the Church of Corinth, absolutely concludes in behalf of the extension of infant membership among the believing Gentiles, as well as of the perpetuity of it among the believing Jews.
To evade the force of this evidence, the opposers of infant membership allege, that by the term holy, the apostle means legitimate. But this is a term much more equivocal than the other. We have to ask, In what sense legitimate ? Legitimate is a relative term, which always has respect to some existing law. Ac. cording to what law then does the apostle assert these children to be legitimate ? Is it a law of God ? If it be, then it must be that law, for it can be no other, which obliged the Israelites to confine their matrimonia al alliances entirely to themselves. Such a law there was. Marriages formed within these limits were religious. ly lawful. Marriages formed beyond them, or with the idolatrous nations, were religiously unlawful. The offspring of the former, having a descent in agreement with law, were counted for the seed. The offspring of the
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latter, being the product of a prohibited alliance, and of a breach of covenant, were accounted not of the seed; or unclean ; and were to be put away, as such, from the midst of the holy people. * If the children of the Church of Corinth, are pronounced by the apostle holy, in respect to this law, why then, it amounts to the same thing exactly, with their being holy in the sense just established ; i. e. visibly and relatively holy, or within the Church of Christ. Was this a political law ? Was it a law of the civil government under which these christians lived ? Did the holy apostle mean to pronounce these children legitimate, in opposition to their being bastards, according to the laws of this government? If so, why did he not cut the matter short, and say what he intended, in the use of a term which could be understood, instead of introducing one appropriate to the church, and to scripture, and never before used under this signification ? But this is not the case. The apostle was a minister of Jesus. He had resolved he would know nothing but Christ, and him crucified.-He had nothing to do in settling mere civil questions.
Legitimacy in this sense, did not at all relate to the subject of enquiry. The question referred to the decision of the apostle, respected a christian, and his duty as a follower of Jesus Christ. It would seem from the introductory verse, that there were several questions sent by this Church to Paul, for his solution. What they were, we are not told. It is probable they all related to marriage. The one, which the passage before us particularly respected, it would seem, was this.Whether a believer ought to repudiate his or her unbelieving correlate ? This question is the same as, Whether the continuance of the matrimonial alliance, under such a circumstance, were right, religiously considered ? This is a question entirely distinct from the other, whether it were right according to the civil
law. Such a question they had no occasion to put; . and the apostle was the last person to whom such a question could be pertinently referred. The civil law
* Sce Ezra x. 3.
had nothing to do with belief or unbelief; and the apos, tle was no determiner of civil questions. The answer which he returns is such as supposes the enquiry to havę respected religious right. He sanctions the con. tinuance of the connexion, though one be an unbeliey. er. He says it is made religiously right, by the faith of the other. If it were not, if the connexion were criminal, in a religious sense, the issue of it would stand just where the children of the idolatrous world do, in an uncovenanted state. As it is, the children are holy. They are like the offspring of Israel, born to God. For his people cannot be deprived of the blessing, by the unbelief of their connexions. Upon the whole, the evasion is frivolous, and shews the des. perate state of the cause it was invented to support.
But our Baptist brethren tell us, our construction is embarrassed with insuperable difficulty, from the application of the term sanctified to the unbelieving par. ent. They say, if holy, (aylo) involves church mem. bership, as applied to infants, sanctified, (nriaclai) as applied to the unbelieving husband, must signify the same thing with respect to him. If the consequence follow, be it so. There is no evading the premise. But the consequence is denied. We cannot determine the force; of a verb, when applied to a particu. ular object, from the force of an adjective, when appli, ed to a very different object, though derived from the same root. The verb does not characterize. The adjective does. The verb merely expresses an action which passes from the agent to the object. Though in a passive form, it expresses an effect only, which effect may not extend to character. Let it be suppos. ed that by sanctified, is meant dedicated ; let it be supposed moreover, that there is an instrumental agency on the part of the believing wife, or a natural tend. ency in her piety, to make the husband a religious man; a character is not given. Though therefore, it be admitted that an agency is expressed by the verb, cor. responding with the character given by the adjective, there is no concluding from the one to the other. The