Page images
PDF
EPUB

envious persons. Nay, we must withstand the opinions of the brethren themselves, if they are influenced by motives unworthy of the gospel. Gal. ii. 11., &c. “when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Nor ought the weak believer to judge rashly of the liberty of a Christian brother whose faith is stronger than his

own, but rather to give himself up to be instructed with the more willingness. Rom. xiv. 13. “ let us not therefore judge one another any more.”

Neither this reason, therefore, nor a pretended consideration for the weaker brethren, afford a sufficient warrant for those edicts of the magistrate which constrain believers, or deprive them in any respect of their religious liberty. For so the apostle argues i Cor. ix. 19. 'though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all;" I was not made so by others, but became so of my own accord ; free from all men, and consequently from the magistrate, in these matters at least. When the magistrate takes away this liberty, he takes away the gospel itself; he deprives the good and the bad indiscriminately of their privilege of free judgment, contrary to the spirit of the well known precept, Matt. xiii. 29, 30.

“ lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them : let both grow together until the harvest."7

5 • I have shown that the civil power hath neither right, nor can do right, by forcing religious things : I will now show the wrong it doth, by violating the fundamental principle of the gospel, the new birthright of every true believer, Christian liberty. A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prose Works, II. 539. “Liberty, which is inseparable from Christian religion. Ibid. 352.

6 • None more cautious of giving scandal than St. Paul. Yet while he quade himself servant to all, that he might gain the more, he made himself so of his own accord, was not made so by outward force, testifying at the same time that he was free from all men.' Ibid. 543.

On earth
Who against faith and conscience can be heard
Infallible ?

Paradise Lost, XII. 528. 'Seeing then that in matters of religion, as hath been proved, none can judge or determine here on earth, no not church-governors themselves against the consciences of other believers, my inference is, or rather not mine, but our Saviour's own, that in those matters they neither can com. mand or use constraint, lest they run rashly on a pernicious consequence,

7

6

[blocks in formation]

CHAP. XXVIII.— OF THE EXTERNAL SEALING

COVENANT OF GRACE.

THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE, under the law and the gospel respectively, has been considered ; we are now to speak of the SEALING OF THAT COVENANT, or rather of its representation under certain outward signs. This

representation, like the covenant itself and its manifestation, is common both to the law and the gospel : under the former it consisted in CIRCUMCISION and the PASSOVER ; under the latter it consists in BAPTISM and the SUPPER OF THE LORD. These ceremonies, particularly the two latter, are generally known by the name of SACRAMENTS.

A Sacrament is a visible sign ordained by God, whereby he sets his seal on believers in token of saving grace, or of the satisfaction of Christ; and whereby we on our part testify our faith and obedience to God with a sincere heart and a grateful remembrance.

Respecting CIRCUMCISION, compare Gen. xvii. 10, &c. “this is my covenant which ye shall keep between me .ad you, and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised ; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin ; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you.” Rom. iv. 11, 12. “he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed unto them also; and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” Deut. x. 16. “ circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.” xxx. 6. “ Jehovah thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God—” Jer. iv. 4. “ circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, forewarned in that parable, Matt. xiii. from the 29th to the 31st verse, lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them ; let boti grow together until the harvest ; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares,' &c. A Treatise of Caril Power', &c. II. 535.

and take away the foreskins of your heart.” Sometimes, by a similar figure, it signifies sanctification even under the gospel. Col. ii. 11. “in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.”

Subsequently, however, to the giving of the law circumcision seems to have typified the covenant of works. Rom. iv. 12. “the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only.” ii. 25. “ for circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” Gal. v. 3. “I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." Hence it is said to have been given by Moses, John vii. 22, 23.

Respecting the PASSOVER, compare Exod. xii. 3, &c. “ in the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house," &c. v. 13. “the blood shall be to you for a token

upon the houses where ye are, and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt,” v. 15. days shall ye eat unleavened bread: even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses.”

The passover typified the sacrifice of Christ, and the efficacy of the sprinkling of his blood for the salvation of such as celebrated the feast with purity of heart. John i. 29. “ John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” xix. 36. “these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken." 1 Cor. v. 7. “purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened: for even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.'

Under the gospel, the first of the sacraments commonly so called IS BAPTISM, wherein TIE BODIES OF BELIEVERS WHO ENGAGE THEMSELVES TO PURENESS OF LIFE, ARE IMMERSED IN RUNNING WATER,S TO SIGNIFY THEIR REGENERATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THEIR UNION WITH CHRIST IN HIS DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION.

8 In profluentem aquam. By the adomission of this word into the definition, it is evident that Milton attributed some importance to this cir. cumstance, probably considering that the superior purity of running water

seven

OF BELIEVERS. Matt. xxvii. 19. “teach all nations, baptizing them - ” Mark xvi. 15, 16. “preach the gospel. ... he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” Acts viii. 36, 37. "what doth linder me to be baptized ?.. if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Eph. V. 26. “that he might cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” 1 Pet. iii. 21. “the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Hence it follows that infants are not to be baptized, inasmuch as they are incompetent to receive instruction, or to believe, or to enter into a covenant, or to promise or answer for themselves, or even to hear the word. For how can infants, who understand not the word, be purified thereby; any more than adults can receive edification by hearing an unknown language? For it is not that outward baptism, which purifies only the filth of the flesh, that saves us, but “the answer of a good conscience,” as Peter testifies, of which infants are incapable. Besides, baptism is not merely a covenant, containing a certain stipulation on one side, with a corresponding engagement on the other, which in the case of an infant is impossible; but it is also a vow, and as such can neither be pronounced by infants, nor required of them. See Book II. Chap. iv. under the head of vows.

It is remarkable to what futile arguments those divines have recourse, who maintain the contrary opinion. They allege was peculiarly typical of the thing signified. Hence it appears that the same epithet employed in Paradise Lost, in a passage very similar to the present, is not merely a poetical ornament.

Them who shall believe
Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign
Of washing them from guilt of sin to life
Pure, and in mind prepar'd, if so befall,

For death, like that which the Redeemer died. XII. 441. Tertullian concludes differently, arguing that any water which can be conveniently procured, is sufficient for the spirit of the ordinance. “ Nulla distinctio est mari quis an stagno, flumine an fonte, lacu an alveo diluatur ; nec quidquam refert inter eos quos Johannes in Jordane, et quos Petrus in Tiberi tinxit ; nisi et ille spado quem Philippus inter vias fortuita aqua tinxit, plus salutis aut minus retulit.' De Baptismo, IV.

9 For an answer to this, see Wall's Defence of his History of Infanı Baptism, p. 213. and Whitby on Matt. iii. 16.

ور

1

Matt. xix. 14. “suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' It appears however that they were not brought to him for the purpose of being baptized; v. 13. “then were there brought unto him little ch ren, that he should put his hands on them and pray;” neither did Christ baptize them, but only put his hands on them, v. 15. Mark x. 16. " he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” “Seeing then that they were neither brought to Christ to be baptized, nor, when received, were actually baptized by him, it is impossible to admit the sophistical inference, that they were properly qualified for baptism ; or, which is still more difficult to conceive, that not little children merely, but infants, are so qualified. For if competent to be baptized, they are competent on the same grounds to be partakers of the Lord's Supper. Let the church therefore receive infants which come unto her, after the example of Christ, with imposition of hands and benediction, but not with baptism. Again, they remind us, that of such is the kingdom of heaven. Is this to be understood of all without distinction, or only of such as shall subsequently believe? How perfectly soever God may know them that are his, the church does not know them

Š what they are in the sight of God is one thing, and what they are by church privilege is another. It must mean, therefore, of such in respect of simplicity and innocence; whereas neither simplicity nor innocence, although they may be predicated of little children, can properly be attributed to infants, who have not as yet the faculty of reason ; neither does it follow, that because any one is an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, he is therefore admissible to every religious sacrament; or that, because he is included in the covenant, he has therefore the right of participating in such signs and seals of that covenant as demand the exercise of mature faith and

For the thing signified in the Supper of the Lord appertains no less to infants than the thing signified in baptism ; and yet infants are not admitted to the former rite, although they were admitted to the passover, which held the same place in the former dispensation as the Lord's Supper in the present. Hence, by the way, we may perceive how

weak

reason.

See Beveridge on the Twenty-seventh Articlo.

« PreviousContinue »