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he ever baptized is elect. 3. And God hath given no such rule for sealing and delivering his covenant with the benefits as to cast it hap hazard among all, because it is possible or probable it may belong to some.
Obj. "You have no certainty what adult professor is sincere, nor to which of them the special benefits belong; no, not of any one in a church. And yet because there is a probability that among many there are some sincere, you baptize them all. Take then the birth privilege but as equal to the profession of the adult.
Answ. This partly satisfied me sometimes: but I cannot forget that a visible, false, or hypocritical profession is not the condition of God's own covenant of grace, nor that which he requireth in us, to make us partakers of his covenantbenefits; nay, he never at all commandeth it; but only commandeth that profession of consent, which followeth the real consent of the heart; he that condemneth lying, maketh it neither the condition of our church-membership, as his gift by promise, nor yet our duty
And mark well, that it is a professed consent to the whole covenant that God requireth, as the condition of our true right to any part or benefit of it. He that shall only say, 'I consent to be a visible church-member,' doth thereby acquire no right to that membership; no, not in foro ecclesiæ :' but he must also profess that he consenteth to have God for his God, and Christ for his Lord and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit for his Sanctifier. So that he must be a liar, or a sound believer that maketh this profession.
But for an infant to be born of true believers, and sincerely by them dedicated in covenant to God, is all the condition that ever God required to an infant-title to his covenant; and it is not the failure of the true condition as a false profession is.
Indeed if the proposition were thus laid, it would hold good : 'As we know not who sincerely covenanteth for hime self, and yet we must baptize all that soberly profess it; so we know not who doth sincerely covenant for his infant, and yet we must baptize all whom the parents bring with such a profession, for themselves and them.'
But if the sincere dedication of a sound believer, shall be accounted but equal to the lying profession of the adult,
which is neither commanded, nor hath any promise, then infants are not in the covenant of grace, nor is the sincerest dedication to God either commanded or hath any promise,
If I were but sure that the profession of the adult for himself were sincere, I were sure that he were in a state of grace. And if I am not sure of the same concerning the parent's dedication of his infant, I must conclude that this is not a condition of the same covenant, and therefore that he is not in the same covenant (or conditional promise of God) unless there be some other condition required in him or for him; but there is no other that can be devised.
Object. Election is the condition.
Answ. Election is God's act and not man's; and therefore may be an antecedent, but no condition required of us. And man is not called to make profession that he is elected, as he is to make profession of his faith and consent to the covenant. And God only knoweth who are his by election, and therefore God only can baptize on this account.
And what is the probability which the objecters mean, that many of the infants of the faithful are elected? Either it is a promise, or but a prediction ; if no promise it is not to be sealed by baptism : if a promise, it is absolute or conditional. If any absolute promise, as, I will save many children of believers, 1. This terminateth not on any singular person, as baptism doth, and 2. It is not the absolute promise that baptism is appointed by Christ to seal. This is apparent in Mark xvi. 16. and in the case of the adult. And it is not one covenant which is sealed to the aclult by baptism, and another to infants. Else baptism also should not be the same. But if it be any conditional covenant, what is it, and what is the condition ?
And what is it that baptism giveth to the seed of believers, if they be not justified by it from original sin? You will not say, that it conveyeth inherent sanctifying grace, no not into all the elect themselves, which many are many years after without. And you cannot say, that it sealeth to them any promise, so much as of visible church privileges. For God may suffer them presently to be made janizaries, and violently taken from their parents, and become strangers and despisers of church privileges, as is ordinary with the Greek's children among the Turks. Now God either
promised such church privileges absolutely, or conditionally, or not at all. Not absolutely, for then they would possess them. If conditionally, what is the condition? If not at all, what promise then doth baptism seal to such, and what benefit doth it secure? God hath instituted no baptism, which is a mere present delivery of possession of a churchstate, without sealing any promise at all. True baptism first sealeth the promise, and then delivereth possession of some benefits.
Yea, indeed outward church-privileges are such uncertain blessings of the promise, that as they are but secondary, so they are but secondarily given and sealed, so that no man should ever be baptized, if these were all that were in the promise. The holiest person may be cast into a wilderness, and deprived of all visible church-communion; and doth God then break his promise with him? Certainly no. It is therefore our saving relations to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which the promise giveth, and baptism sealeth; and other things but subordinately and uncertainly as they are means to these. So then it is plain, that believers' infants have a promise of salvation, or no promise at all which baptism was instituted to seal.
I have said so much more of this in my Appendix to the “ Treatise of Infant Baptism,” to Mr. Bedford, in defence of Dr. Davenant's judgment, as that I must refer the reader thither.
8. I think it very probable that this ascertaining promise belongeth not only to the natural seed of believers, but to all whom they have a true power and right to dedicate in covenant to God; which seemeth to be all that are properly their own, whether adopted or bought; but there is more darkness and doubt about this than the former, because the Scripture hath said less of it. .
9. I am not able to prove, nor see any probable reason for it, that any but sound believers have such a promise for their children, nor that any hypocrite shall certainly save his child, if he do but dedicate him to God in baptism. For, 1. I find no promise in Scripture made to such. 2. He that doth not sincerely believe himself, nor consent to God's covenant, cannot sincerely believe for his child, nor consent for him. 3. And that faith which will not save the owner, as
being not the condition of the promise, cannot save another. Much more might be said of this. I confess that the church is to receive the children of hypocrites as well as themselves; and their baptism is valid in foro externo ecclesiæ, and is not to be reiterated. But it goeth no further for his child, than for himself.
10. Therefore I think that all that are rightfully baptized by the minister, that is, baptized so as that it is well done of him, are not certainly saved by baptism, unless they be also rightfully baptized, in regard of their right to claim and receive it. Let them that are able to prove more do it, for I am not able.
11. Whereas some misinterpret the words of the old rubric of confirmation in the English liturgy, as if it spake of all that are baptized, whether they had right or not, the words themselves may serve to rectify that mistake, ‘ And that no man shall think any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their confirmation, he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God's Word, that children being baptized have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved. Where it is plain that they mean, they have all things necessary 'ex parte ecclesiæ,' or all God's applying ordinances necessary, though they should die unconfirmed, supposing that they have all things necessary to just baptism on their own part. Which is but what the ancients were wont to say of the baptized adult; but they never meant that the infidel, and hypocrite, and impenitent person was in a state of life, because he was baptized; but that all that truly consent to the covenant, and signify this by being baptized, are saved. So the Church of England saith, that they receive no detriment by delaying confirmation; but it never said, that they réceive no detriment by their parents' or sponsers' infidelity and hypocrisy, or by their want of true right coram Deo’to be baptized.
12. But yet before these Questions (either of them) be taken as resolved by me, I must first take in some other Questions which are concerned in the same cause; as
Quest. xxxvi. What is meant by this speech, that believers and
their seed are in the covenaat of God; which giveth them right to baptism?
Answ. Though this was opened on the bye before, I add, 1. The meaning is not that they are in that absolute promise of the first and all following grace, supposed ordinarily to be made of the elect (as such unknown) viz. "I will give them faith, repentance, conversion, justification, and salvation and all the conditions of the conditional promise, without any condition on their part,' which many take to be the meaning of‘I will take the hard heart out of them, &c.' For 1. This promise is not now to be first performed to the adult who repent and believe already; and no other are to be baptized at age. If that absolute promise be sealed by baptism, either it must be so sealed as a promise before it be performed, or after: if before, either to all, because some are elect, or only to some that are elect. Not to all; for it is not common to infidels. Not to some as elect; for 1. They are unknown. 2. If they were known they are yet supposed to be infidels. Not after performance for then it is too late.
2. The meaning is not only that the conditional covenant of grace is made and offered to them; for so it may be said of heathens and infidels, and all the world that hear the Gospel,
But 1. The covenant meant, is indeed this conditional covenant only. “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved u.
2. To be in this covenant is, to be a consenting believer, and so to be one that hath by inward heart-consent, the true conditions of right to the benefits of the covenant, and is thereby prepared solemnly by baptism to profess this consent, and to receive an investiture and seal of God's part, by his minister given in his name.
3. Infants are thus in covenant with their parents, because reputatively their parents' wills are theirs, to dispose of them for their good. And therefore they consent by their parents, who consent for them,
Quest. XXXVII. Are believers' children certainly in covenant
before their baptism, and thereby in a state of salvation? Or not till they are baptized ?
u Mark xvi. 16.