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believers. If such difficulty exist, let it be clearly stated.
'In the form of public baptism of infants, the * minister prays, in the beginning of the service, 'that the child may be ' received into the ark of 'Christ's church: that he may come to the land 'of everlasting life, there to reign with God 'world without end;' and 'that he may come 'to the eternal kingdom which God has promised 'by Christ our Lord:' and consequently our '. church supposes, that every child brought to be 'baptized is capable of attaining eternal salva'tion. The minister afterwards prays, that' this 'child now to be baptized may receive the fulness 'of God's grace, and ever remain in the number 'of God's faithful and elect children.' This prayer 'evidently shews, that our church considers bap'tism as placing every child in the number of 'God's elect, and that this election does not imply 'a certainty of salvation. Every baptized child, 'says our church, is an elect person, may or may 'not continue an elect person, and may or may not 'be saved. Can any assertions be more opposite to 'the fundamental principle of Calvinism? After 'the baptismal words are pronounced, the child is 'declared to be 'made partaker of the death of 'Christ,' and consequently the redemption pur'chased by Christ, according to our church, ex'tends to every person received into his holy 'religion by baptism.'l
Why do we jrray for these blessings, if they be inseparable from the external administration of baptism? Where does our church say that' every 'baptized child is an elect person?' Certainly the assertions here made are opposite to the fundamental principles of Calvinism, but they are not the assertions of our church. The prayer is offered before the child is baptized; and therefore, if baptism be election, (as well as regeneration and justification,) before it is elected: so that the words, 'ever remain in the number of thy faithful and
1 Ref. 270, 271.
* elect children,' cannot refer to the present state of the child, as unbaptized, according to this principle. Indeed they refer to 'receive the fulness 'of God's grace,' rather than to baptized. But the word faithful ought also to be noticed. Does baptism likewise make the infant faithful, or a believer ?' Why then are infants baptized, when
* by reason of their tender age they cannot perform 'them' (repentance and faith)? When the infant, advancing to riper years, becomes a true believer, and,' receives the fulness of God's grace,' in answer to the prayers made for him; he is manifested to be one of the elect children of God; and we pray that he may thus be numbered with them, and continue among them to the end. "I know that ** this shall turn to my salvation, through your "prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Christ."' Our continuance in a state of grace, however ensured by the promise and covenant of God, and the intercession of Christ, must always be sought by prayer, as pleading the promise; and this is as proper, in respect of others, as ourselves, and the doctrine of our church coincides in this scriptural statement of the subject. But how can an election, received in baptism, and liable to be lost again, be made to accord with the apostle's words? "He hath chosen us in Christ before the founda"tion of the world, that we should be holy, and "without blame before him in love:" "God "hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of "the truth; whereunto he hath called you by our "gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord "Jesus Christ."' Or to the words of our Article: 'God has decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to 'deliver from curse and damnation those whom 'he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind; and to 'bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as 'vessels of honour.' Can a baptismal election, such as is described in the quotation, be the election here spoken off—Universal or general redemption implies something more, than that every baptized person should have encouragement to seek forgiveness, through the propitiation of the death of Christ; for this all men, to whom any report of the gospel comes, equally possess: but it implies much less, than that every unbaptized person is actually interested in that propitiation in the same manner as all true believers are.—It has been observed, that the offices of our Church go upon the supposition that men are what they profess to be: the profession made in baptism by adults, if sincere, actually proves them partakers of the death of Christ: and the profession made by parents and sponsors at the baptism of infants, in their name and stead, is taken as the profession of the infants; and so they are spoken of as par1 Eph. i. 4. 2Thess. ii. 13, 14.
'Phil. i. 19.
takers of the death of Christ. But it does not appear to me that this has any relation to the subject under consideration: for, even were every baptized person partaker of the death of Christ in the fullest sense, as inseparably connected with everlasting salvation, nothing could from this be inferred in respect of the immense multitudes of unbaptized people in the world.
'All the elect people of God,' that is, as we have 'just seen, all who are admitted into the church 'of Christ, by the appointed form of baptism.''
If the compilers of our liturgy meant to say this, why did they not say it, in clear and explicit terms? If * all that are admitted into the church of Christ* be " the elect people of God," then they are all 'sanctified by the Holy Spirit,' without excepting the most profligate and impious persons to be found, not only in protestant churches, but in the church of Rome also: nay, every man who has been baptized, is so, however distinguished by abominable vices, or damnable heresies; for ' the
* Holy- Ghost sanctifies 'all the elect people of 'God." Few men, I should suppose, viewing this opinion in all its bearings, as breaking down all distinction between real and nominal Christians; between the most eminent saints and the most atrocious murderers; will be disposed to accede to it. Surely the " elect of God, holy and beloved ;" those "whom God hath chosen in Christ before "the foundation of the world;" "the elect ac"cording to the foreknowledge of God the Fa"ther, through sanctifieation of the Spirit, unto "obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Christ;" are a distinct company from the heterogeneous mass who have been 'admitted into the church 'by the appointed form of baptism !'—' Wherefore 'they, which be endued with so excellent a bene'fit of God,' (as that of 'being chosen in Christ 'out of mankind,') ' be called, according to God's 'purpose, by his Spirit working in due season; 'they through grace obey the calling; they be 'justified freely; they be made sons of God by 'adoption; they be made like the image of his 'only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk reli'giously in good works; and at length, by God's * mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.' Are these the same persons as the whole company of those who are baptized?
1 Ref. 272.—See Catechism, Answer to the Question, 'What
* dost thou chiefly learn in these articles of thy belief?
VOL. VIII. Q
'' All the world' comprehends the whole cre'ation; 'all mankind' is less extensive, and in'eludes only the rational part of the world; 'all 'the elect' is again more confined, and includes 'only that part of mankind who are members of 'the church of Christ.'l
There wants nothing in this passage but the word true, before 'members of the church of Christ,' to render it, according to our views, correct: but not all baptized persons, not'all who profess and 'call themselves Christians,' are true members of 'the church of Christ;' else why do we continually pray ' that they may be led into the way of 'truth ?'2 For all true members of the church of Christ, have been 'led into the way of truth.'
1 Ref. 272, 273. 'Prayer for all conditions of men.