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Because they take it for an adding to the ordinance of God, a thing which Scripture never mentioneth. To which I answer, . 1. I grant it unlawful to suppose another to be the parent or proprietor that is not; or to suppose him to have that power and interest in your child which he hath not; or to desire him to undertake, what he cannot perform, and which neither he nor you intend he shall perform; I grant that you are not bound to alienate the propriety of your children, nor to take in another to be joint proprietors ; nor to put out your children to the godfather's education. So that if you will misunderstand the use of sponsors, then indeed you will make them unlawful to be so used.
But if you take them but as the ancient churches did, for such as do attest the parents' fidelity (in their persuasion,) and do promise first to mind you of your duty, and next to take care of the children's pious education if you die, I know no reason you have to scruple this much...
Yea more, it is in your own power to agree with the godfathers, that they shall represent your own persons, and speak and promise what they do, as your deputies only, in your names. And what have you against this? Suppose you were sick, lame, imprisoned or banished, would you not have your child baptized ? . And how should that be done, but by your deputing another to l'epresent you in entering into covenant with God?
Object. “But when the churchmen mean another thing, this is but to juggle with the world. .
Answ. How can you prove that the authority that made or imposed the liturgy, meant any other thing? And other individuals are not the masters of your sense. Yea, and if the imposers had meant ill, in a thing that may be done well, you may discharge your conscience by doing it well, and making a sufficient profession of your better sense.
2. But then it will be no sinful addition to God's ordinance, to determine of a lawful circumstance, which he hath left to human prudence: as to choose a meet deputy, witness or sponsor, who promiseth nothing but what is meet.
Quest. xl. On whose account or right is it that the infant
hath title to baptism and its benefits? Is it on the parents,' ancestors, sponsors,' the church's, the minister's, the magistrate's, or his own?
• Answ. The titles are very various that are pretended ; let us examine them all. • I. I cannot think that a magistrate's command to baptize an infant, giveth him right, 1. Because there is no proof of the validity of such a title. 2. Because the magistrate can command no such thing if it be against God's Word, as this is, which would level the case of the seed of heathens and believers. And I know but few of that opinion.
II. I do not think that the minister as such giveth title to the infant: for, 1. He is no proprietor. 2. He can shew no such power or grant from God. 3. He must baptize none but those that antecedently have right. 4. Else he also might level all, and take in heathen's children with believers.' 5. Nor is this pretended to by many, that I know of.
III. I cannot think that it is a particular church that must give this right, or perform the condition of it. For, 1. Baptism (as is aforesaid) as such, doth only make a Christian, and a member of the universal church, and not of any particular church. And 2. The church is not the proprietor of the child. 3. No Scripture commission can be shewed for such a power. Where hath God said, All that any particular church will receive, shall have right to baptism? 4. By what act must the church give this right? If by baptizing him; the question is of his antecedent right. If by willing, that he be baptized. (1.) If they will that one be baptized that hath no right to it, their will is sinful, and therefore unfit to give him right. (2.) And the baptizing minister hath more power than a thousand or ten thousand private men, to judge who is to be baptized. 5. Else a church might save all heathen children that they can but baptize, and so level infidel's and Christian's seed. 6. It is not the church in general, but some one person, that must educate the child : therefore the church cannot so much as promise for its education : the church hath nothing to do with those that are without, but only with her own; and
heathen's children are not her own, nor exposed to her occupation.
IV. I believe not that it is the universal church that giveth the infant title to baptism : for, 1. He that giveth title to the covenant and baptism, doth it as a performer of the moral condition of that title. But God hath nowhere made the church's faith, to be the condition of baptism or salvation, either to infidels or their seed. 2. Because the universal church is a body that cannot be consulted with to give their vote and consent: nor have they any deputies to do it by. For there is no universal, visible governor: and if you will pretend every priest to be commissioned to act and judge in the name of the universal church, you will want proof, and that is before confuted. 3. If all have right that the universal church offereth up to God, or any minister or bishop be counted its deputy or agent to that end, it is in the power of that minister (as is said) to level all, and to baptize and save all ; which is contrary to the Word of God.
V. I believe that godfathers as such, being no adopters or proprietors, are not the performers of the condition of salvation for the infant, nor give him right to be baptized. 1. Because he is not their own, and therefore their will or act cannot go for his: because there is no Word of God for it that all shall be baptized or saved that any Christians will be sponsors for. God's church blessings are not tied to such inventions, that were not in being when God's laws were made. Where there is no promise or word, there is no faith. 3. No sponsors are so much as lawful (as is shewed before) who are not owners, or their deputies, or mere secondary subservient parties, who suppose the principal covenanting party. 4. And as to the infant's salvation, the sponsors may (too oft) be ignorant infidels and hypocrites themselves, that have no true faith for themselves; and therefore not enough to save another. 5. And it were strange if God should make no promise to a wicked parent for his own child, and yet should promise to save by baptism all that some wicked and hypocrite godfathers will offer him. 6. And that thus the seed of heathens and Christians should be levelled, and yet an ignorant, bold undertaker to carry away the privilege of saving persons from them
both. All this is but men's unproved imaginations. He that never commandeth godfathers, but forbiddeth the usurping sort, and only alloweth human prudence to use the lawful sort, did never put the souls of all children, Christians and heathens into their hands, (any more than into the hands of the priest that baptizeth them).
VI. I do not find that remote ancestors that are dead, or that are not the proprietors of the children, are the performers of the condition by which they have right to baptism or salvation 1. Because God hath put that power and work in the hands of others, even the parents which they cannot nullify. 2. Because the promise of mercy to thousands is on supposition that the successors make no intercision. 3. Else the threatenings to the seed of the wicked would signify nothing, nor would any in the world be excluded from right, but all be levelled; because Noah was the common father of mankind : and if you lay it on dead ancestors, you have no rule where to stop till you come to Noah.
VII. I conclude therefore that it is clearly, the immediate parents, (both or one) and probably any true domestic owner of the child, who hath the power to choose or refuse for him, and so to enter him into covenant with God, and so by consent to perform the conditions of his right. For, 1. Abundance of promises are made to the faithful and their seed, of which I have spoke at large in my book “ Of Infant Baptism.” And besides the punishment of Adam's sin, there is scarce a parent infamous for sin in Scripture, but his posterity falleth under the punishment, as for a secondary, original sin or guilt. As the case of Cain, Ham, the Sodomites, the Amalekites, the Jews, Achan, Gehazi, &c. shew. And it is expressly said, “Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy x,” (of the sense of which I have spoke as aforecited).
Object. “But if owners may serve, one may buy multitudes, and a king or lord of slaves, whose own the people are, may cause them all to be baptized and saved.
Answ. 1. Remember that I say, that the Christian parent's right is clear, but I take the other as more dark; for it is principally grounded on Abraham and the Israelites circumcising their children born to them in the house or bought with money: and how far the parity of reason here will reach is hard to know. All that I say is, that I will not deny it, because ‘favores sunt ampliandi.' 2. If such a prince be an hypocrite, and not a sincere Christian himself, his faith or consent cannot save others, that cannot save himself. 3. It is such a propriety as is conjunct with a divine concession only that giveth this power of consenting for an infant : now we find clear proof of God's concession to natural parents, and probable proof of his concession of it to domestic owners, but no further that I know of. For, (1.) It is an act of God's love to the child for the parent's sake; and therefore to such children as we are supposed to have a special nearness to, and love for. (2.) And it is a consent and covenanting which he calls for, which obligeth the promiser to consequent pious education, which is a domestic act. (3.) They are comprised in the name of parents, which those that adopt them and educate them may be called. (4.) And the infants are their children, not their slaves. But now if the emperor of Muscovy, Indostan, &c. had the propriety in all his people as slaves, this would not imitate paternal interest and love, but tyranny, nor could he be their domestic educater. Therefore I must limit it to à pro-parent, or domestic, educating proprietor,
* 1 Cor. vii. 14.
Quest. Xli. Are they really baptized who are baptized accor
ding to the English liturgy and canons, where the parent seemeth excluded, and those to consent for the infant who have no power to do it?
Answ. I find some puzzled with this doubt, Whether all our infants' baptism be not a mere nullity: for, say they, the outward washing without covenanting with God, is no more baptism, than the body or corpse is a man. The covenant is the chief essential part of baptism. And he that was never entered into covenant with God was never baptized. But infants according to the liturgy, are not entered into covenant with God, which they would prove thus: they that neither ever covenanted by themselves, or by any authorized person for them, were never entered into covenant with God (for that is no act of their’s which is done by