Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

name of obloquy for not giving the infants one sacrament more, than they are disliked for not affording them the other? If anabaptist shall be a name of disgrace, why shall not some other name be invented for them that deny to communicate infants, which shall be equally disgraceful, or else both the opinions signified by such names be accounted no disparagement, but receive their estimate according to their truth?

19. Of which truth, since we are now taking account from pretences of Scripture, it is considerable that the discourse of St. Peter,—which is intended for the entitling infants to the promise of the Holy Ghost, and by consequence to baptism, which is supposed to be its instrument and convenience---is wholly a fancy, and hath in it nothing of certainty or demonstration, and not much probability. For besides that the thing itself is unreasonable, and the Holy Ghost works by the heightening and improving our natural faculties, and therefore it is a promise that so concerns them as they are reasonable creatures, and may have a title to it, in proportion to their nature, but no possession or reception of it-till their faculties come into act; besides this, I say, the words mentioned in St. Peter's sermon (which are the only record of the promise) are interpreted upon a weak mistake. "The promise belongs to you and to your children ;” therefore infants are actually receptive of it in that capacity : that is the argument. But the reason of it is not yet discovered, nor ever will; for “to you and your children” is to you and your posterity, to you and your children when they are of the same capacity, in which you are effectually receptive of the promise; and therefore Tertullian calls infants, “ designatos sanctitatis ac per hoc etiam salutis," " the candidates of holiness and salvation, those that are designed to it.” But he that, whenever the word ' children’ is used in Scripture, shall by ‘children' understand infants, must needs believe that in all Israel there were no men, but all were infants : and if that had been true, it had been the greater wonder they should overcome the Anakims, and beat the king of Moab, and march so far, and discourse so well, for they were all called the children of Israel.'

20. And for the allegation of St. Paul, that infants are holy if their parents be faithful,-it signifies nothing but that they are holy by designation, just as Jeremy'and John Bap

tist were sanctified in their mothers' womb, that is, they were appointed and designed for holy ministries, but had not received the promise of the Father, the gift of the Holy Ghost, for all that sanctification : and just so the children of Christian parents are sanctified, that is, designed to the service of Jesus Christ, and the future participation of the promises.

21. And as the promise appertains not (for aught appears) to infants, in that capacity and consistence, but only by the title of their being reasonable creatures, and when they come to that act of which by nature they have the faculty; so it did, yet baptism is not the means of conveying the Holy Ghost. For that which Peter says, “ Be baptized, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost," signifies no more than this, First be baptized, and then, by imposition of the apostles' hands (which was another mystery and rite), ye shall receive the promise of the Father. And this is nothing but an insinuation of the rite of confirmation, as is to this sense expounded by divers ancient authors; and in ordinary ministry the effect of it is not bestowed upon any unbaptized persons, for it is in order next after baptism: and upon this ground Peter's argument in the case of Cornelius was concluding enough' á majori ad minus ;' thus the Holy Ghost was bestowed upon him and his family, which gift, by ordinary ministry, was consequent to baptism (not as the effect is to the cause or to the proper instrument, but as a consequent is to an antecedent in a chain of causes accidentally and by positive institution depending upon each other); God by that miracle did give testimony, that the persons of the men were in great dispositions towards heaven, and therefore were to be admitted to those rites, which are the ordinary inlets into the kingdom of heaven. But then from hence to argue that wherever there is a capacity of receiving the same grace, there also the same sign is to be ministered, and from hence to infer pædo-baptism, is an argument very fallacious upon .several grounds. First, because baptism is not the sign of the Holy Ghost, but by another mystery it was conveyed ordinarily and extraordinarily, it was conveyed independently from any mystery ; and so the argument goes upon a wrong supposition. Secondly, if the supposition were true, the proposition built upon it is false ; for they that are capable of the same grace, are not always capable of the same sign:

VOL. VIII.

M

vey his

his

.

for women under the law of Moses, although they were capable of the righteousness of faith, yet they were not capable of the sign of circumcision. For God does not always con

graces in the same manner, but to some mediately, to others immediately; and there is no better instance in the world of it than the gift of the Holy Ghost, -which is the thing now instanced in this contestation : for it is certain in Scripture, that it was ordinarily given by imposition of hands, and that, after baptism (and when this came into an ordinary ministry, it was called, by the ancient church, chrism or confirmation); but yet it was given sometimes without imposition of hands, as at Pentecost, and to the family of Cornelius; sometimes before baptism, sometimes after, sometimes in conjunction with it.

And after all this, lest these arguments should not ascertain their cause, they fall on complaining against God, and will not be content with God unless they may baptize their children, but take exceptions that God did more for the children of the Jews. But why so? Because God made a covenant with their children actually as infants, and consigned it by circumcision. Well; so he did with our children too in their proportion. He made a covenant of spiritual promises on his part, and spiritual and real services on ours ; and this pertains to children when they are capable, but made with them as soon as they are alive, and yet not so as with the Jews' babes: for as their rite consigned them actually, so it was a national and temporal blessing and covenant, as a separation of them from the portion of the nations, a marking them for a peculiar people; and therefore while they were in the wilderness and separate from the commixture of all people, they were not at all circumcised; but as that rite did seal the righteousness of faith, so, by virtue of its adherency, and remanency in their flesh, it did that work when the children came to age. But in Christian infants, the case is otherwise : for the new covenant, being established upon better promises, is not only to better purposes, but also in distinct manner to be understood; when their spirits are as receptive of a spiritual act or impress as the bodies of Jewish children were of the sign of circumcision, then it is to be consigned. But this business is quickly at an end, by saying, that God hath done no less for ours

than for their children; for he will do the mercies of a father and creator to them, and he did no more to the other. But he hath done more to ours, for he hath made a covenant with them, and built it upon promises of the greatest concernment; he did not so to them. But then for the other part, which is the main of the argument, that unless this mercy be consigned by baptism, as not at all good in respect of us, because we want the comfort of it; this is the greatest vanity in the world. For when God hath made a promise pertaining also to our children (for so our adversaries contend, and we also acknowledge in its true sense), shall not this promise, this word of God, be of sufficient truth, certainty, and efficacy, to cause comfort, unless we tempt God and require a sign of him ? May not Christ say to these men, as sometime to the Jews, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, but no sign shall be given unto it?" But the truth of it is, this argument is nothing but a direct quarrelling with God Almighty.

23. Now since there is no strength in the doctrinal part, the practice and precedents apostolical and ecclesiastical will be of less concernment, if they were true, as is pretended, because actions apostolical are not always rules for ever: it might be fit for them to do it pro loco et tempore,' as divers others of their institutions, but yet no engagement passed thence upon following ages; for it might be convenient at that time, in the new spring of Christianity, and till they had engaged a considerable party, by that means to make them parties against the Gentiles' superstition, and by way of preoccupation, to ascertain them to their own sect when they came to be men; or for some other reason not transmitted to us, because the question of fact itself is not sufficiently, determined. For the insinuation of that precept of baptizing all nations, of which children certainly are a part, does as little advantage as any of the rest, because other parallel expressions of Scripture do determine and expound themselves to a sense that includes not all persons absolutely, but of a capable condition; as “ Adorate eum, omnes gentes; et psallite Deo, omnes nationes terræ,” and divers

more.

24. As for the conjecture concerning the family of Stephanas, at the best it is but a conjecture: and besides that

it is not proved that there were children in the family; yet if that were granted, it follows not that they were baptized, because by whole families' in Scripture is meant all persons of reason and age within the family; for it is said of the ruler at Capernaum, “that he believed and all his house.” Now you may also suppose that in his house were little babes, that is likely enough; and you may suppose that they did believe too before they could understand, but that is not so likely: and then the argument from baptizing of Stephanas' 'household may be allowed just as probable. But this is unmanlike, to build upon such slight airy conjectures.

25. But tradition by all means must supply the place of Scripture, and there is pretended a tradition apostolical, that infants were baptized. But at this we are not much moved ; for we, who rely upon the written word of God as sufficient to establish all true religion, do not value the allegation of traditions: and however the world goes, none of the reformed churches can pretend this argument against this opinion, because they who reject tradition when it is against them, 'must not pretend it at all for them. But if we should allow the topic to be good, yet how will it be verified ? For so far as it can yet appear, it relies wholly upon the testimony of Origen, for from him Austin had it. For, as for the testimony pretended out of Justin Martyr, it is to no purpose; because the book from whence the words are cited, is not Justin's, who was before Origen, and yet he cites Origen and Irenæus. But who please, may see it sufficiently condemned by Sixtus Senensis, Biblioth. Sanct. 1. 4. verbo Justinus. And as for the testimony of Origen, we know nothing of it; for every heretic and interested person did interpolate all his works so much, that we cannot discern which are his, and which not. Now a tradition apostolical, if it be not consigned with a fuller testimony than of one person whom all afterages have condemned of many errors, will obtain so little reputation amongst those who know that things have, upon greater authority, pretended to derive from the apostles, and yet falsely,--that it will be a great argument that he is credulous and weak, that shall be determined by so weak probation in matters of so great concernment.

And the truth of the business is, as there was no command of Scripture to

John, iv. 53.

« AnteriorContinuar »