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Rev. Sir, ::.. IN my last I mentioned the first source ef argument against infant baptism; and endeavored to show its fallacy and ir.conclusiveness. For a second source of argument I should have to bring into view several passages of Scripture, from which it appears that believers were baptized, and that, of adults, a profession of faith was requir: ed as a prerequisite to baptism and from such premises I should have to infer that infants were not baptized. But I must not act a dishonest part to draw such a conclusion when my conscience assures me that no such thing is implied in the premises ? Toargue simply from such passages of Scripture, I might as well infer that, in the Apos. tles' days, believers had no children, as to infer that their children were not baptized. For neither the one nor the other is implied in the premises. . · I will now state a case which may illustrate the fallacy of both the arguments against infant bap. tism. Suppose I had imbibed a prejudice against the practice of having little children attend public worship. I advance the sentiment that no chil. dren under twelve years of age should appear in the house of God, excepting when brought in infancy to be presented to the Lord.*
* When Jesus was tuelve years old, he went wih his parents to Jerusalem, to attend the passover, after the custom of the feast. These words, after the custom of the feast, have probably reference to the age at which children first accompanied their parents to the feast of the passover. This may appear by reading two verses in connexion :
“ Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
“ And when he was twelve years old, they went up to JerusaFem after the custom of the feast.”
IV. In support of my opinion I deny that there is any Thus saith the Lord or explicit warrant for the practice in the gospel state of the church. That there is no express precept nor unquestionable example. And, hence, the practice must be unlawful under the gospel dispensation.
For further proof I introduce the second source of argument; and exhibit those passages of Scripture which plainly show that adult persons were required to attend, and the examples of their attendance : And hence infer that children did not attend in the Apostles' days ;—that it was not the design of Christ that they should attend, and that the practice of their attendance in the present age is supported only by tradition, and is unauthorized, unlawful, and wicked. Would not many children under twelve years of age be able to see the weakness and fallacy of such reasoning? How, then, does it come to pass that men of the first abilities among the Baptists, will urge such arguments as conclusive against infant baptism ?*
Upon the last verse, Mr. Pool's Continuators make this obser, vation—"It is said by those learned in the Jewish writings, that till a child was of that age, he was not obliged by the law to go" that is, to the passover.
* You will be pleased, Sir, to observe, that public worship, as really as baptism, is a divine and positive institution ; and the dan. ger of deviating from the divine warrant, is as great in the former case as in the latter. And now, Sir, I wish to address some serious questions, not to the passions of the multitude, but to your own conscience. On the supposition that a person had adopted this sentiment, that we have no warrart from Scripture for a child to attend public worship between ONE and TWELVE years of age ; might he not-adopt the whole course of your reasoning, declama. tion, and ridicule, against infant baptism, and apply it in support of his new theory ? The two arguments have already been con. sidered. Might he not, also, urge the example of the blessed Jesus, and dwell upon this topic in a very moving manner ? Might he not go into the same course of vehement, frightful, and censorious declamation, which you adopt ; and with equal propriety apply your favourite texts to frighten parents from the practice of taking their children with them to the house of public worship ? : Such as the following_" Teaching them to OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU” What thing soever I command you, observe to do it : thou shalt not ADD thereto, mor DIMINISN from it"-" To obey is better than sacrifice, and to liearken than the fat of rams" " If ye love me, keep my commandments"-" In vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men"_" Who hath required this at your hands !"- With as much propriety, Sir, as you apply the last words, might not such a teacher adopt the whole verse, with a little comment ? " When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hands to tread my courts," with your -unqualified children by your side And if the practice of ridi. culing infant baptism were not too abominable to be described, I might ask why the same might not be applied in the case before us, by asking us why we do not take our “ lambs and calves and young cattle” to the house of God, as proper subjects of the ordinance of public worship ? :
Should I become a Baptist, while I should have nothing to urge against infant baptism but such weak and inconclusive arguments, in opposition to these I should have to meet a connected chain of conclusive reasonings, which I foresee no possible way to break or to invalidate.
From the sacred Scriptures it would be clearly proved, that in the gracious covenant which God made with Abraham, and under which the church was formed in his family, and by which he was constituted the father of all that believe, the all. sufficient God engaged to be a God to him and to his seed :
That as a “seal of the righteousness of faith,” and a token of the covenant,” circumcision was instituted :
That as the promise was to him and his seed, so both he and his seed were commanded to be circumcised :
That the blessing of Abraham has come on
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the Gentiles that believing Gentiles are heirs of the promise, even as Isaac was that the covenant of the gospel church is the same that was made with Abraham, and the promise to believ. ers the same, I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee. That baptism signifies the same thing which circumcision did, viz. the renovation of the heart, and is the substituted token of the same covenant. Accordingly, as Abraham and his household were circumcised, so the Apostles, baptized believers and their households. 1. In support of these ideas, the history of the church would afford evidence that infant baptism was handed down from the Apostles, and that it has been generally and uninterruptedly practised in the church, from the days of the Apostles to the present time. From such premises, rational conclusions may be drawn in favour of infant baptism, as practised at the present day. I know, however, that such conclusions may be denied, and even ridiculed ; but, in my opinion, they never can be refuted.
With respect to the three households which were baptized by the Apostles, I am willing to admit that there is no positive evidence that in either of them there were little children. By persons of your denomination, this want of pos. itive evidence that there were children in those houscholds, seems to be considered and treated, as amounting to positive evidence that there were not. But it ought to be understood, that there is no positive evidence that there were children in those households, nor that there were not. It is but supposition on the one side, and on the other. We may then candidly inquire which is the most probable supposition ? According to what we know of households, it will not, I think, be thought extravagant, for a general and compari. tive estimate, to say, that there are three households which have in them little children, to one that has none. If therefore one household only had been mentioned, the supposition that there were little children in that household, would be threefold more probable than the supposition that there were not. But as three households are men.. tioned, and as three times three are nine, the probability is as nine to one, that, in one or other of those households, there were little children.. .
It may be proper to add, that whether there were or were not little children in those households, it is clear to my mind, from the represen. tations in Scripture, that a household was baptized upon the faith of one person. Your's, &c.
LETTER V. * Rev. Sir,
SOME may suppose, that I have already said more than was needful to shew the fallacy of your arguments against infant baptism ; yet I have a desire to exhibit an examination of these arguments in another point of view. .
You object to our practice of infant baptism, on this ground, That we have no explicit warrant. Whether your objection be proper, or not, depends entirely on the correctness or incorrectness of this principle, viz. That in respect to positive institutions, explicit warrunt is necessary to justify our practice.
; , Now, Sir, let it be observed, that with respect 'to baptism, we voluntarily adopt one mode of