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ply, As much good as circumcision could do to them formerly ; or as much as the public presentation of first born infants to God could do them. The apostle says, The profit of circumcision, (which was usually administered to infants) was much every way. The profit of infant baptism may be as much. Particularly,
1. It is evident, that God treats infants as sinners for Adam's transgression. In consequence of his apostacy, they suffer a sad variety of pains and diseases, which often issue in early death. And from that bias and inclination to evil, which they soon discover, there is reason to suppose, they are infected with some moral disorder, which needs to be removed in order to their entrance into the world of glory. By one man, says the Apostle, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passes upon all men, for that all ham sinned.—By one man's offence, judgment came upon all to condemnation.—In Adam all die.—By Jus offence many are made sinners. lu this language, he speaks in the 5th chap, to the Romans.
Now the gospel assures us, that Christ has obtained redemption from the condemnation of sin, and that in this redemption, all who believe, are unfailingly interested. But we see, that a very great part of the human race are cut off in infancy, while they are incapable of actual faith. What becomes of them? Is any provision made for their salvation? Or must they perish and be lost forever? This is a natural inquiry. Now to comfort our minds concerning such, God has seen fit to assure us, that they may become partakers of redemption by Christ, and be made heirs of the kingdom above, notwithstanding their incapacity for an actual compliance with those terms which are proposed to the adult. And to confirm our faith* and hope in his promise, he has appointed, that they shall be received with their believing parents into his visible kingdom, the church*, and have the seal of his covenant affixed to them. .-.
The great promise of the covenant is, that God will be a God to believers and their seed. This promise is often explained in scripture to import the happiness of the life to come. And God's appointing the seal of this promise to be applied to our infant seed, is a most comfortable ground of our faith and hope, tlrat if they should be removed by an early death, they will be transplanted into that happy clime, where they will spring up in everlasting life.*
* The children of believing parents may be said to be born in covenant, as they are born under that promise of the covenant, / will be a God to thee and to thy seed. Accordingly God calls them ins children, born to Hi v. To those who die in infancy, this promise may be understood as importing a resurrection to eternal life. As the Apostle argues concerning the patriarchs, (Heb. xi.) so we may reason concerning these; since they enjoy no distinguishing favour in this world, there must be some ;ood reserved for them in another; else the promise fails. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city. To those who arrive to moral agency, tbe promise may import, not only the enjoyment of the external means of religion, but the attendant influences of the divine spirit. The Apostle tells us, that among the many advantages of circumcision, this is one of tbe chief, that to t/iem are committed the oracles of God. (Rom. iii. J.) And God expressly promises to Jacob his servant, and to Israel whom he has chosen, / will pour my spirit on thy seed, and my blessing on thine offspring, and they shall spring up as among the grass, and as willows by the watercourses. (Isai xliv3.) Their interest in this promise, as the childreu of God's servants, is one ground of their admission to baptism, the token of God's faithfulness, and of their obligation to serve him. But then it is by baptism, that they are declared to be within, the church, and entitled to the visible privileges of it. Persons may be virtually in covenant by their own, or their parents faith; but
God is said to have established his covenant with the cattle and the fowls, when he engaged no more to drown the earth with a flood; and as a token of this covenant, he appointed his bow in the cloud. And surely he may, in as just and rational a sense, establish the covenant of grace with infants, engaging to pour his spirit and blessing upon them, and appointing the seal of this covenant to be affixed to them, in token of his faithfulness to fulfil his gracious promise.
2. The parent, by dedicating his children to God in baptism, solemnly binds himself to give them a religious and christian education, and to use his influence, that they shall keep the way of the Lord, and not put themselves out of that covenant, into which
they are not visibly and professedly in covenant, or in the church, till they have passed under the appointed ceremony. When we speak of persons being admitted into the church by baptism, we mean not, that this conveys the right of admission; for it presupposes the right, and the qualification or relation, in which the right, by divine institution, is founded; but that it declares the right, aud thus introduces to visible privileges. God says,' The uncircumcised man child shall be cut off from among his people, he hath broken my covenant.' He was previously in covenant, else he could not be said to break it by his uucircumcision. So also the unbaptized person is to be cut off, or excluded from the privileges of the christian church..
they have been thus visibly introduced. Now if it is any privilege for children to have a religious education, it is a privilege that such an education should be secured to them; and consequently a privilege that the parent, by this public transaction, should covenant and engage to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It may be asked perhaps, How a parent can covenant for his children But the answer is obvious. He can covenant for himself to discharge such and such duties to them, and can commend them to God, in hope of the divine blessing upon his pious endeavours. In this sense may every, religious parent, as Joshua did, covenant for his house, As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. 3. As the parent, who dedicates his children, should consider himself bound by his own act to educate them religiously; so children thus dedicated, when they come to the age of reflection, should realize, that, having been given to God, they are not their own, but his; and are bound to live, not to themselves, but to him whose they are ; and that