Page images

it is to reason as follows: baptism has succeeded to circumcision ; but infants were circumcised, therefore infants are to be baptized : seeing that it is equally certain that the Lord's Supper has succeeded to the passover, notwithstanding which, infants, who were admitted to the latter rite, are not admitted to the former.

They argue, again, that as it is said, “ we were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea," 1 Cor. x. 2. infants must be included in the general expression. I answer, that “ all did eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink,” iii. 4. yet that infants are not on this ground admitted to partake of the Lord's Supper.

They lay much stress likewise on Gen. xvii. 7. “ I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee .... in their generations.” No one, however, will seriously affirm that this is to be understood of infants, and not of the adult posterity of Abraham in their generations, that is, successively. Otherwise, we must suppose that God intended to give the land also to infants, v. 8. and that infants are commanded to keep the covenant, v. 9. Again, Acts ii. 39. “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. Your children, that is, as they understand it, your infants : in other words, God calls those who cannot understand, and addresses those who cannot hear; an interpretation which can only have proceeded from the infancy of reasoning. Had these commentators but read two verses farther, they would have found it expressly stated, they that gladly received his word were baptized; whence it appears that understanding and will were necessary qualifications for baptism, neither of which are possessed by infants. So also Acts viii. 37. “if thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest be baptized ;" whereas infants, so far from believing with all their heart, are incapable of even the slightest degree of faith. With regard, however, to the text on which they insist so much, the promise is unto you and to your children, if they had attended sufficiently to Paul's interpretation of this passage,

Rom. ix. 7, 8. they would have understood that the promise was not to all seed indiscriminately, seeing that it was not even to the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, but only to the children of God, that is, to believers, who

alone under the gospel are the children of the promise and are counted for the seed. But none can be considered believers by the church, till they have professed their belief. To those therefore to whom it does not appear that the promise was ever made, the church cannot with propriety give the seal of the promise in baptism.

Again, they allege the analogy between baptism and circumcision, which latter was performed on infants. Coloss. 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 ; buried with him in baptism—”. In the first place, there is no other analogy between being circumcised and being buried with him in baptism, than that which exists among all sacraments by which the same thing is signified, the mode of signification being different. But, secondly, why is it necessary that things which are analogous should coincide in all points? Of circumcision, for instance, women were not partakers; in baptism they are equally included with men, whether as being a more perfect sign, or a symbol of more perfect things. For circumcision, although "a seal of the righteousness of faith, ” Rom. iv. 11, 12. was such only to Abraham, who being uncircumcised had already believed, and to others who should believe in like manner; not to his posterity, who in after-times were circumcised before they were of an age to exercise faith, and who, consequently, could not believe in the uncircumcision. To them it was a seal in the flesh, indistinctly and obscurely given, of that grace which was at some distant period to be revealed ; whereas baptism is a seal of grace already revealed, of the remission of sins, of sanctification ; finally, a sign of our death and resurrection with Christ. Circumcision was given mder the law and the sacrifices, and bound the individual to the observance of the whole law, (Gal. v. 3.) which was a service of bondage, and a schoolmaster to bring its followers to Christ; through baptism, on the other hand, we are initiated into the gospel, which is a reasonable, manly, and in the highest sense free service. For under the law men were not merely born, but grew up

- See Wall on Infant Baptism, Part II. Chap. x. Sect. 1. Burnet, Beveridge, and Tomline on the Tienty-seventh Article.


infants in a spiritual sense ;under the gospel, in baptism, we are born men. Hence baptism requires, as from adults, the previous conditions of knowledge and faith ; whereas in circumcision all conditions are omitted, as unnecessary in the case of servants, and impracticable in that of infants. Lastly, circumcision was performed not by the priests and Levites, but by the master of a family, Gen. xvii. by the mother, Exod. iv. 26. or by any other person, a surgical operator for instance ; whereas baptism, according to our opponents themselves, can only be administered by a teacher of the gospel; and even those who hold a wider opinion on the subject, allow that it can only be performed by a believer, and by one who is neither a new convert, nor unlearned in the faith. To what purpose is this, unless that the person to be baptized may be previously instructed in the doctrines of the gospel ? which in the case of an infant is impossible. There is therefore no necessary analogy between circumcision and baptism ; and it is our duty not to build our belief on vague parallels, but to attend exclusively to the institution of the sacrament itself, and regard its authority as paramount, according to the frequent admonition of our opponents themselves.

They contend, however, that circumcision was the seal of the righteousness of faith,” Rom. iv. 11, 12. notwithstanding which infants were circumcised, who were incapable of belief.* I answer, as above, that it was indeed the seal of the righteousness of faith, but only to Abraham, and to such as after his example believed being yet uncircumcised ; in the case of infants it was a thing of entirely different import, namely, an outward and merely national consecration to the external service of God, and, by implication, to the Mosaic form of worship which was in due time to be ordained.

Lastly it is urged that the apostles baptized whole families, and consequently infants among the rest." The weakness of

3 The best of them, as St. Paul saith, was shut up unto the faith under the law their schoolmaster, who was found to entice them as children with childish enticements. But the gospel is our manhood.' Apology for Smectymnuus, Prose Works, III. 166. “They will be always learning and never knowing; always infants.' The likeliest means to remove Hire. lings, &c. Ibid. 4).

4 See Bps. Beveridge and Burnet on the Twenty-seventh Article. 5 See Bp. Tomline on the Twenty-seventh Article.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

this argument is clearly shown by Acts viii. 12. “when they believed .... they were baptized, both men and women," infants not being included. xvi. 31–34. “ believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house : and they spake unto him the word of the Lord and to all that were in his house: and he took them .... and was baptized, he and all his, straightway .. .. and he rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."

Here the expression all his house obviously comprehends only those who believed in his house, not infants ; therefore those alone unto whom they spake the word of the Lord, and who believed, were baptized. The same is evident from chap. xi. 17. “ forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us who believe-." xviii. 8. Crispus .... believed on the Lord with all his house : and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” Even the baptism of John, which was but the prelude to that of Christ, is called “the baptism of repentance,” Mark i. 4. and those who came to it were baptized, confessing their sins," Matt. iii. 6. whereas infants are incapable either of repentance or confession. If then infants were not meet for the baptism of John, how can they be meet for the baptism of Christ, which requires knowledge, repentance, and faith, before it can be received ?

IMMERSION. It is in vain alleged by those who, on the authority of Mark vii. 4. Luke xi. 38.5 have introduced the practice of affusion in baptism instead of immersion, that to dip and to sprinkle mean the same thing; since in washing we do not sprinkle the hands, but immerse them. TO SIGNIFY THEIR REGENERATION. John iii. 5. "

except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ;” that is, if the omission proceed from neglect. Acts xxii. 16. “why tarriest thou ? arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” 1 Cor. vi. 11. but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Eph. v. 26. “ that he might fanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Tit. iii. 5. "by the washing of regeneration."

UNION WITII CHIRIST IN HIS DEATH, &c. 1 Cor. xii. 13. 5 See Wall on Infant Baptism, Pari 11. Chap. viii. Vol. II. p. 300. Defence, &c. Vol. III. p. 106—133. Walker's Doctrine of Baptisms.

[blocks in formation]


can ye

by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” Gal. iii.

as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Rom. vi. 3. “know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? therefore weare buried with him by baptism into death." Coloss. ii. 12. “buried with him in baptism.” Hence it appears that baptism was intended to represent figuratively the painful life of Christ, his death and burial, in which he was immersed, as it were, for a season : Mark x. 38.

be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? Compare also Luke xii. 50. Respecting the administration of baptism, see Chap. xxix. on the visible church, and Chap. xxxi. on particular churches.

The baptism of John was essentially the same as the baptism of Christ; but it differed in the form of words used in its administration, and in the comparative remoteness of its efficacy. If it had not been really the same, it would follow that we had not undergone the same baptism as Christ, that our baptism had not been sanctified by the person of Christ, “that Christ had not fulfilled all righteousness,” Matt. iii. 15. finally, that the apostles would have needed to be rebaptized, which we do not read to have been the case. In some respects, however, there was a difference ; for although both baptisms were from God, Luke iii. 2, 3. vii. 29, 30. and both required. repentance and faith, Acts xix. 4, 5. these requisites were less clearly propounded in the one case than in the other, and the faith required in the former instance was an imperfect faith, founded on a partial manifestation of Christ; in the latter, it was faith in a fully revealed Saviour. The baptism of Christ was also administered with a more solemn form of words, “ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” (although it is nowhere said that this form was ever expressly used by the apostles) and attended, as above observed, with a more immediate efficacy ; inasmuch as the baptism of John was with water only, Matt. iii. 11. John i. 33. Acts i. 5. xix. 2. except in the single instance of Christ, the design of which exception was not to prove the virtue of John's baptism, but to bear testimony to the Son of God. Hence the apostles did not receive the Holy Ghost till a much later period, Acts i.' 5. and the Ephesians, who had been baptized with the baptisni of John, “ had not so much as heard whether

« PreviousContinue »