« AnteriorContinuar »
to baptism, the only instituted sign of admission into this kingdom. Except any one be born of water, he cannot enter into thi? kingdom. Hence the christian church is said to be cleansed by the washing of water * If by the kingdom of God, we understand the invisible kingdom above, then here is a plain declaration, that infants belong to that, and consequently may be born of the spirit; for except one be bom of the spirit, he cannot enter into that kingdom, which flesh and blood do not inherit. And if they may be born of the spirit, doubtless they may be born of water, or baptized. As the church is the gate of heaven, so baptism is the sign of regeneration. And if they may be admitted into heaven by regeneration, they may be admitted into the church by baptism. If the things signified belong to them, the sign and token must be supposed to belong to them. The Apostle Peter\ plainly teaches us, that they, to whom the promise of the spirit pertains, have a right to baptism, the sign of the promise. In whatever sense therefore we understand the kingdom of God, the con
» Eph. v. 36. + Acts ii. 39.
elusion is the same, that infants are subjects of baptism.
It cannot reasonably be said, that the words—of such—intend only persons of a childlike disposition: For then how would this be a reason why little children should be brought to Christ, and why he should be displeased with his disciples for endeavouring to.hinder them? This makes our Lord's argument run thus. Suffer infants to be brought to me, for my kingdom consisteth only of adult persons resembling children in their disposition. He elsewhere makes Lambs and Doves emblems of a christian temper; and according to this interpretation, he might as well have said, Suffer Lambs and Doves to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of God ; i. e. it consists of persons of a lamblike and dovelike temper.
Well, 'but the christian rite of baptism was not given to these children; they were brought to Christ for his blessing and prayers, accompanied with imposition of hands/ True; but our Saviour declares, that such^ i. e. the infants of believers, belong to this kingdom, into which none are admitted, but
by being born of water; so that here is a plain declaration, that infants were to be introduced into his church by baptism. And by taking them into his arms, praying for them, and blessing them, he shewed that such are capable subjects of the intluence and blessing of the Spirit, which are the things represented in baptism. ... He did not pour water on them ; but he performed a ceremony quite as sacred and solemn, and thus shewed, that infants are meet subjects of that external rite, which denotes the conveyance of spiritual blessings; and such a rite is the ordinance of baptism. 4. The baptismal commission, Mat. xxviii. 19, gives a plain warrant for admitting infants to baptism. It runs thus. Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe, &c. - Some will say, ‘Infants are not expressly mentioned here.' True; neither are Adults. But Christ uses the word, nations, which is a collective term, and must naturally be understood as including both. And had he intended to teach his Apostles, that persons
of every age must be admitted to baptism, he could not have chosen any single word. to express it better. Baptize ull nations. The christian church is called a nation, a people, because it consists of persons of every age.” But it is objected; “Teaching is required previous to baptism, which infants are not capable of.” Here let it be observed, that the word Matheteusate, rendered teach, is not the same which is commonly used for teaching, but of a more general signification. The proper import of it is, to proselyte or make disciples. The commission then is this. Go, disciple all nations, baptizing them—teaching them to observe all things, &c. Here are two words in the commission rendered Teaching. The latter, didascontes, signifies to indoctrinate; the other is more general, and signifies to make disciples, which may be done by introduction into a school in order to future teaching. Now if we can shew, that infants are ever considered as disciples—-as belonging to
* 1 Pet. ii. 9. *
Christ, then it will appear that they come within the commission, Disciple all nations, baptizing them. We are told, Mat. xviii. 5, That Jesus having set a little child before him, said, Whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. To receive one in Christ's name, is to receive him as being Christ's disciple and as belonging to. him. So the phrase is explained, Mark ix. +1. Whosoever shall give you a cup of water in my name, because ye belong to Christ. And Mat. x. 4?. Whosoever shall give to one of these little ones a cup of water only in the name of a disciple, shall not lose his reward. It is plain here that infants, who are to be received in Christ's name may be his disciples and belong to him, to his church and kingdom. Accordingly they who contended, that persons under the gospel ought to be circumcised after the manner of Moses, are said to tempt God to put a yoke on the necks of the disciples. Acts xv. 10. Infants were to be circumcised after the manner of Moses, and therefore are comprehended among the disciples, on whom the yoke would be kid. The commission then must respect