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and, with respect to him, St. Mark informs us, ch. i. 9, 10, II. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan, (or as it might have been truly and. better rendered, dipped of John into Jordan) And Jlraighlway coming up out of the water, he jaw the heavens opened, and the jpirit like a dove descending upon Irim. And there came a voice from heaven, faying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. The other is in the book of the Ails, after our Lord's ascension, and sending down the Holy Ghost upon the apostles, which was promised to lead them into all truth, John xvi. 13. and by which they were dued with power from on high, to confirm their doctrine. And under the influence of this, Philip was directed to attend the chariot of the eunuch, and preach the gospel to him; the issue of which is thus related by St. Luke. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, see, here is water; what doih hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believjl with all thine heart, thou maycjl. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Chriji is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to (land Jlill: and they went doivn both into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch ; and he baptized [or dipped] him. And when they were come up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the Eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts viii. 36—39." This is sufficient, as a general detail of the argument under the first head of inquiry. I now proceed to the second, which is this:
Who are the proper subjects of baptism, and that they are only the adult, upon their making a free and voluntary prosession of their faith in Christ, and repentance towards God, is, I think, abundantly confirmed by the whole strain and current of the New Testament. Of this Gal. iii. 27. in particular appears to me to afford a manisest and strong demonstration, in which is directly asserted, that as many, that is, all without exception; for St. Paul himself docs not exclude one single case, and therefore Christians ought not; however necessary it may be to the support of a - favourite scheme, to which they are most zealously and fondly devoted; in this text, I fay, it is directly aliened, that all without exception, who are baptized into Chriji, do put on Chriji. The phrase plainly denotes a voluntary act of their own, an act of pi^ty in the subjects of baptism, and not a forced ty, not a mere external and mechanical operation; and consequently, infants are plainly declared, by this passage, to be incapable of baptism, if we proceed rightly, according to the christian rule, because they are incapable of reason, and faith, and free determination. And this interpretation the fame apostle has confirmed beyond all contradiction in another place, where he opposes putting on the Lord "Jesus Christ 19 making provision for the Jiejh, representing both as actions equally voluntary, and that relate to a moral character. As to put on the new man is explained by being renewed in the spirit of our mind; so to put on Christ is to take upon us the christian character, and to bind ourselves, in a solemn engagement, to imitate the temper and lise of Christ; as alldid, if we may give credit to St. Paul, who were baptized in the first age of Christianity, but infants cannot possibly do; and therefore the baptizing such car* be regarded in no other light than that of an innovation, absolutely unknown in the apostolical times. And indeed, if we examine the commission itself, which our Lord gave the apostles to baptize, this error of modern Christianity will appear in as full and distinct a view. The commission runs thus, Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of tht Son, and of the Holy Ghost ; where it is obvious to observe, First, that the stated order is to teach, and then to baptize. And, Secondly, that there is no more reason to affirm that all, who were taught, were obliged to he baptized, than that all, who were baptized, were to be previoufly taught. The text is equally explicit in both cases, and the subjects of both are of exactly the fame extent, all nations. But I must only suggest hints; and therefore proceed to mention some other texts, which undeniably prove, that the practice of the apostles was strictly conformable to the rule established by their great Lord and master.
Thus, when by St. Peter's first sermon the people, who heard him, were convinced of the sin and infinite danger of their unbelief and stubborn contempt of the gospel, and said to him and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what/hall we do? His answer was, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, Jor tht remission os fins. And it is afterwards added, torn they that gladly received his word, were baptized. In like manner, when the Eunuch, upon a firm persuasion os the truth of Christianity, desired to be admitted to baptism, N Philip Philip laid before him trie necessary" and .unaTteraMe condition of his receiving that privilege, in these words, If thou believe/t with all thine heart, thou may,-/}. Ajid to suppose, that there are two sorts of .qualifications for one and the fame ordinance, when no distinction at all li once intimated in any single passage of the New Testament; nay, to. imagine that the qualifications are equally valid, which are as difserent from each ojherj as faith, and no faith; or, which amqunts to the fame, as knowledge and. ignorance, a voluntary prosession of (phriffianity, and the
being capable of no religion at all; this is not only framing an arbitrary scheme, but, in my opinion, an absolutely incoherent and incredible scheme. The nature and ends of baptism as,,adrhiriistered to believers, and the nature and ends of it, if it be administered to such as cannot believe, must certainly be as different, as those of any two different ordinances, that we can possibly conceive of. But the nature and uses of .christian baptism are always described in one . uniform strainj suited to, the case of adult believers only, and impossible, by any force or stretch of invention, ,to be adapted to the state of infants. Upon the whole then, as it is generally acknowledged, that there is no express command for baptising infants^, nor a single precedent to be found in favour of it, throughout the whole New Testament; so neither.is there the least, most obscure, involved, and distant hint, that it had ever been practised, or was in itself allowable. The commission, the examples, the descriptions and accounts relating to baptism, are confined to quite difserent subjects, and absolutely discourage all such pretensions. Upon what foot then, it may be asked, can a custom, of which there are no traces in the religion of Christ, and which seems, indeed, to be quite alien from the genius and complexion of it, as a rational and moral institution;
christian order and worship?
I answer, that our brethren themselves are not rightly and thoroughly agreed upon the fundamental principle, on which to raise and establish their scheme. Some talk of the Abrahamic Covenant, which they stile the covenant of grace, the same in substance with the dispensation of the gospel; and that as infants were admitted to circumcision, which they make the seal of this Abrahamic covenant nant of grace, they must, by a parity of reason, have a right to baptism; since it cadnbt be conceived that their privileges are retrenched, but it may rather be expecled, that they would be considerably enlarged under a religion, which' is the completion'of ail other's, and'contains the fullest and brightest displays of the grace'and tender merges of 'God.' "The following remarks will,' 1 apprehend, tit-abundantly sufficient to shew, that this is asoundation 'much too weak to uphold' the superstructure that has been, erected upon'it,'and a principle clogged "with heavy arid unsufmountabledifficulties. ''''' 1'
r."What they call'the Abrahamic covenant does not appear to have any thing In it like'a covenant: It was only a promise, by way of' prediction, of blessings that would'be derived to the 'faithful, from Abraham's seed, in future, and far, far distant ages.' "It was not a stipulation of blessings, as this strange and perplexed notion of a covenant implies ; it was nos, 'I fay,' * stipulation of blessings, which Abraham himself would evet liVe to see or enjoy; but of a privileae, not designed to be communicated till the times of the Mejstah! And tho'this is declared, by St. Paul, to be a preaching the gospel to 'Abraham, it is only in a more improper and figurative sense: just as many prophecies and promises of'the Old Testament might b$ .said to be preaching the gospel, 'long before that'holy and most spiritual inllitution'conm.enced, tfethe' whole jtekst/^nation.' ----'.»-; .» .-•» Ter
1. Circumcision is never stiled the seal of any covenant, but if it belonged to the covenant of gracej 'it was a seal not at all necessary with respect even to such, as are' allowed to have been really Interested in that covenant." ,Fo
all semales were utterly excluded from it,' without any the 'leaft prejudice, I would hope,' to their spiritual arid'eterrial concerns. If infants therefore are excluded from baptism, they also may sustain no damage. So that'twwhole of this'plea for infants is a heap of confusion and inconsistency; and all the warm: and pathetic exclamations, that are so often mixed with it, aTe mere dismal sounds, that have no energy in them, can never convince the truly considerate and divested of all prejudice; nor answer Hits' valuable purpose. Infants arc as sase, their privileges as entire, and their state as good, upon this principle; 'v^ithout baptism,' as writh it; as that of one half of 'thfe jewijb nation was without circumcision. Why then Ihoistd' Jhey be sorted, without their consent, to undergo
.t,Wv!» » MI fif-t «-vv i f>:.i\ Jf-^''"-' i» . >- "''What what is called the ordinance of baptism, without any encouragement from, and against the plain rules and examples of, the New Testament? But,
3. What has been offered under the foregoing head affords, I think, a strong probability that circumcision had, and could have, no relation at all to the covenant of grace, but only to the peculiar immunities of the race and der scendants of Abraham. For did the great God, whose tender mercies are over all his works, enter into a covenant relation with the males only? Or if an instituted seal of the covenant be such an extraordinary privilege, as our brethren prosess it to be, could not one have been instituted, that would have discovered universal and more impartial goodness; that might have been equally a seal to all that were included within the terms of the imagined covenant? But,
Finally, and to dismiss this topic, that circumcision could not belong to the covenant of grace, or to the gospel preached to Abraham, is manisest, even to a demonstration, from what St. Paul has so strenuofly asserted, aud copiously argued, in his epistle to the Galatians; where he resers it entirely to what, in the language of school-divinity, is slilcd the covenant of works, according to the strict tenor of which, no man could reasonably hope for salvation. Is, says this great apostle, ye be circumcised, Christ/hall profit you nothing. For1testify again, to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to da the whole law. ('which law ran in this searful, rigid strain, Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them, Gal. iii. 10.) Christ is become of no effed unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law ; ye are fallen from grace, Gal. v. 2, 3, 5. By these, it is likely, and other considerations of a like nature, several of our Pxdobaptist brethren have been so struck and convinced, that they have deserted the old foundation, and built upon a new one; and that is, the custom of baptizing proselytes and their children, in use, as they fay, betoreour Saviour's coming, amongst ihcjews, and which he intended his disciples should imitate. To which I shall only say, First, that if this be a good argument for infant-baptism, it must hold equally strong for baptizing none but proselytes and their children. Secondly, that pur Lord, by instituting baptism only for disciples instructed and believing, has plainly discovered, that he intended different subjects os baptism from those, which this argument