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is necessary that an adult be taught, in order to his be, ing a disciple ; and that he can become such, by consent only. Still, the commission is conclusive proof of the continuance of infant membership.
The following things will make this proof appear.
1. This is the most full and formal commission to the apostles, and their successors, for preaching the Gospel, and extending the Church among the Gentiles, which is to be found in the scripture.
2. The objects of this instruction, or making of dis. ciples to Christ, are the whole family of man, without any respect to inferior distinctions of rank or age, (Tarte Ta edvą.) This language comprises the whole family of man; not excepting the infant part of this family. If it should be said that the word teach, necessarily limits the commission to persons who have arrived to years of understanding, and therefore excludes infants, as they are incapable of being taught; then most certainly the other rendering, which has yery much beside to prove its justness, and which some baptist writers have adopted, must be admitted ; i. e. the making disciples of all nations ; because no such limitation is expressed, or even intimated in the commisşion,
3. The commission evidently supposes the natural possibility, that the whole family of man should be so effectyally taught, or made disciples, as that it should be incumbent to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. To say that this is a natural impossibility, is to say, that the Savior gave out a commission, which was incapable of being executed.
4. That which is naturally possible ; and for which a public, solemn commission is given by the Savior, with the encouraging assurance, “Lọ, I am with
I you alway, even unto the end of the world,” may be
supposed to be a reality. Unless diyines mistake very much in constructing the prophecies, such a state of things will take place before time is no more.. Satan will be driven entirely from his usurped dominion. He will be bound, and cast down into the bottomless pit, and there holden in chains of darkness, so that he shall be able to deceive the nations no more, for a thousand years. The earth shall become exclusively the inheritance of the saints. All things will be made morally new; so that there will be nothing to hurt or offend. There shall be written even upon the bells of the horses, holiness to the Lord. Now then let us suppose,
5. That the Gospel had in fact so run, and been glorified, in the course of a year, or even a century, as that the whole family of man, all nations, had been brought to a saving subjection to the Messiah. None will deny, that in such a case, the infant part of this great family would necessarily be gathered into his kingdom, and numbered with his disciples. Undoubtedly they would be disciples upon a different principle from that of personal consent to the Gospel. It would be connectively with their parents, and by virtue of this unlimited dispensation of grace. If any one will contend that discipleship belongs exclusively to adults, he will certainly place himself in a state of open warfare with this commission, which Christ gave to the apostles. The commission necessarily involves infant discipleship; therefore the continuance of the membership of infants in Christ's kingdom.
6. We have another proof of the continuance of infant membership in the declaration of Peter, Acts ii. 39. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” This passage has been a subject of much altercation, and has been tortured in a most shocking manner. It is imagined that the analy. sis which has been given of the covenant of circumcision, and the view which has been taken of the manner, in which it has been carried into execution, lead to an easy, and evident explanation of this passage. The promise is certainly of a gracious nature, and belongs to the covenant of circumcision, let the particular thing designed by promise, as the Apostle here uses the word, be what it may. All the Gospel promises belong to that covenant; and are yea and amen in Christ, They are inseparably linked together; and form a common inheritance. He who is interested in any gracious promise, is certainly a subject of that covenant. For,
Jesus Christ is a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." The baptist writers generally, not universal. ly, contend, that the term promise here, refers especially to a prophecy in Joel. The prophecy is this; Joel ii. 28. " And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons, and your daughters shall prophecy; your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids, in those days, will I pour out my Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, (probably Jews and Gentiles) blood, fire, and pillars of smoak. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, (figurative language, representing desolating judgments to be brought upon unbelieving Jews) before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” Suppose it be allowed that by the prom. ise, the Apostle Peter means this prophecy, it will not follow that it has not respect to the covenant ; and therefore nothing is gained by the adversaries of infant membership. To make any thing of the construction, it must be shewn that this prophecy is wholly disconnected from the covenant. But this can never be done. Nothing is more certain than that the promise, in this prophecy, is but a branch of the covenant.
The cov. enant comprehended and secured the very blessings, which God engages here to confer in the Gospel day, upon Jews and Gentiles. " For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” As the Lord hath said. Where had the Lord said this ? Un. deniably in the covenant of circumcision. For says Paul, Gal. iii. 16. “He saith not, and to seeds, as of many ; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ, And this I say, that the covenant that was before confirmed of God in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of nong effect.? Here we see plainly enough whatis meant by the promise. It is the coming of the seed, and salvation in him. A correspondent påssage we have in Acts, xiii. 32. “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise, which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Fesųs again," as it is also written in the 2d Psalm, Thou art my son; this day have I begot. ten thee.” Connect with this the 38 and 39th verses, which are explanatory of what is intended by the prom ise. “Beit known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man, is preached unto you
the forgive. ness of sins; and by him all that believe, are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.” The Messiah, with all the de ļiverances connected with his appearing, is the sum. mary good of the covenant. This is evidently the thing intended in the prophecy of Joel. All the promises center in Christ. All deliverances are in him. The Jews knew well enough what was meant by the promise. They had but one opinion about it. They all understood it respecting the Messiah promised in the cove. nant with Abraham. Even the expectations of the carnal Jews, with respect to a temporal kingdom, terminated in him. The whole Gospel gives this yiew of the promise.
The evidence which the passage furnishes, of the continuance of infant membership in the Gospel day, will now be easily seen. “ The promise (in the covenant established with Abraham, of a Savior, and salvation in him) is unto you." You are the seed of Abra. ham, in whom that promise terminates :
" And to your children.” They also are the seed whom the prom. ise respects.
66 And to all that are afar off, even as ma.
hy 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 giveni, respecting the seed. If then, being a subject of the covenant, constituted membership, here is the continuance of infant membership:
9. Another proof of the continuance of infant membership, and this, particularly among the Gentile be. 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, elsč 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 mariner of spiritual relation to the Church of Christ; but are as much of the world
" If any should say, that though the terms which the apostle uses are indiscriminate, and general, "clse 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 pas rents, both believers, must certainly be holy. And all the children of this Chureh, and of every Church, must come under one or the other of these predicar meats.