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2. God commanded that the seal of the righteousness of faith should be administered to infants, who are received into the church with their parents. Circumcision was once this feal in the church, but, under the gospel, baptisın is the seal of the righteousness of faith; therefore, by divine appointment, baptism must be administered to those infants, who are admitted into the church with their parents under the gospel dispensation.
3. The great privilege, that infant children should be received into the church with their pa..rents, and have the sign of the covenant, the seal
of the righteousness of faith, administered to them, is, under the gospel, confirmed and continued to believers. Hence it clearly follows, since baptism is the seal of the righteousness of faith, that when adult persons, upon their repentance and faith, are admitted into the gospel church, their infant children are to be received with them, and to be baptized. Thus the apostle Peter, on the day of Pentecost, in the application of that most successful sermon, applies the promise exactly to this purpose. He enforces on his affected audience the gospel call to repentance, faith and christian baptism, by this inestimable privilege. Acts, ii. 38, 39. “ Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of fins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: 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.” It may not be improper here to take notice of some other passages of the sacred fcriptures, which may be considered as direct proofs of infant baptism. The commission of our blessed Saviour on this
point, claims our first attention. Matt. xxvii. 19. Though it is brought by the Baptists as an objection ; yet, properly considered, I think it is so far from being in their favor, that it will afford a convincing proof of our doctrine to any person free from prepossessions.
1. The apostles were commanded to go out into all the world. Till then they had been confined to the Jews, and both circumcision and baptifm were administered tò those who embraced the gospel, and to their infants. There was not the least hint antecedent to this, that infants were to be excluded, but much to the contrary, as has been shewn. The apostles theinselves did not know that it would be lawful for them to go out to the Gentiles ; much less that infants, as the Baptists assert, were to be cut off from this privilege in the gospel church. They were here commanded to teach all nations, and preach the gospel to every creature. It is probable that even the Baptists do not imagine, that this inimediately respects infants, as to the external teaching and preaching of the word, they being wholly incapable of this. But it certainaly does some way respect them. The words are
plain-The command is express Go teach all nations-Go preach the gospel to every creature. Surely our Saviour, who so tenderly took the dear little ones into his gracious arms, who fo affectionately blessed them, I say surely he did not forget them on this most interesting occasion--Surely he was not ignorant of the tender feelings-Surely he was not a stranger to the pious breathings of the parental heart of his dear people in ages past. On this occasion, when the life of a thousand poor Ishmaelites was at stake, he had not forgotten the the anche race of integre, that he e
burit of Abraham's fatherly heart, 6 Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee !" Gen. xvii. 18. Nor was the compassionate Saviour insensible to those pious parental desires of true believers to. wards their infant offspring through all future ages, inuch less can any suppose, that he excludes them from the race of intelligent creatures, to whom the apostles were to preach the gospel. We must either deny that they are part of all nations-we must also either deny that they are rational creatures, or we must suppose that they are some how included in the apostle's mission.
2. The apostles are hereby coinmanded, to teach ( matheteusate) to disciple all nations, and preach the gospel to every creature. Since then it is certain, that the teaching and preaching of the gospel does some way respect infants, I confess, upon the Baptist's plan, I am utterly at a loss how to understand it, unlefs it be wholly to exclude them froin christian baptism, from the church, and from heaven ; and either to strike them out of existence all together, or to plunge then headlong into eternal damnation. But if we understand the commiffion in the plain and natural sense, according to the circumitances in which it was spoken, as an honest, pious Jew would take it, and as it is clear the apostles understood it, the whole matter is plain. The teaching and preaching of the gospel, were to disciple infants by baptism with their believing parents, as had been a common known custom among the Jews, when they profelyted a heathen to the true religion.
The commission was express-It was very easy to be understood by those to whom it was given
ce they were weh acquainted with the command.
by which infants were to be received into the church
If we grant, as the Baptists assert, that infantbaptism was neither allowed nor practised by the church in the apostolic age, it is utterly impossible -that it should have been introduced in any fubfequent period of the church. They, therefore,
might as well assert that it never has been practised.
Let us now candidly examine this matter. Some confidently affirm, that this practice was first intro. duced into the church in the dark days of Popery. This cannot possibly be true. It is easy to shew from the most authentic writers in those times, that it was practised in the church long before; and, if I mistake not, some of the Baptist writers themselves allow that it was practised in the African church before the dark period of Popery. But be this as it may, it was not then first introduced into the church. If it was not the practice in the apoftles' day, it must have begun in some of the succeeding ages before Popery. It is generally allowed that it commonly prevailed through all the churches after the fourth century. Mr. Tombs, on the part of the Baptists, * expressly says, that St. Austin's authority carried it in the following ages almost without control; but St. Austin most fol. emnly professes, that he never heard of any in his time that opposed infant-baptism. We have only the four first centuries to examine. We are certain that the practice was first begun in one of them. Let us, therefore, go back and fee if we can posli. bly find when it was first introduced into the church.--Our brethren, the Baptists, are, with us, equally interested in this inquiry. St. Austin, who lived in the fourth century, speaks of it as prevailing in his day; and that it was not decreed by any council, but had been ever in use. . The same author, in his dispute with the Pelagians about origa inal sin, brings infant-baptism as an unanswerable. proof of original corruption. This was about
thor, in his diipuinfant-baptism as This was ab
* Part 1, Sechiuse