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^vhich was the most significant of its nature, and which had a distinct design, not expressed by the others, is withdrawn, without leaving any thing of equiv^ alent import in its stead? Let us besides look directly at baptism itself. What is baptism? Is it a mere ceremony ? No. It would be impious to call it so.— Has it any spiritual meaning? Most undoubtedly. "He who believeth, and is baptised, shall be saved: But he who believeth not, and (implicitly) is not baptized, shall be damned. Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Baptism indicates very much indeed; all that circumcision ever indicated. It denotes a spiritual indissoluble union to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is spoken of by one Apostle, as saving. I. Peter iii. 21. "The like figure whereunto, even baptism doth now save us." In this important respect, it has the same character, which is given by Paul to circumcision. Romans ii. 25. "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law."— profteth. How? Certainly unto salvation. .1I}&k£
By the passage quoted from St. Peter, we are taught, that baptism is a figure. Of what is it a figure, or symbol? It is conceded on all hands, that it is a symbol of internal cleansing from sin; or of rising to newness of life. But this is exactly the same with becoming a recipient of the covenant. And this is the same with becoming a subject of membership in Christ, being united to the true Israel, or graffed into the olive tree. And such certainly the scripture teaches us that it is. Says Peter, Acts x. 47. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received, the Holy Ghost, as well as we ?>'— And in the passage of his Epistle, just quoted, " Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh; but the an-, swer of a good conscience towards God." And says Paul. "Know ye not that so many of us as are baptized into Jesus Christ, have put on Christ?" Here membership in Christ is expressly brought into view as signified by baptism. But Christ is eminently the seed, Those who are in him, are so in fulfilment of the promises made unto the fathers. They are all covenant correlates with him. "He who sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one." Then baptism is precisely equivalent with circumcision, save that it has not its typical signification. The scriptures exhibit them as parallel. Is circumcision " that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the flesh?" So is baptism, " not the putting away of tfte filth of the flesh; but the answer of a good conscience towards God." Are christians baptized into Christ, so that they may properly be called the baptized? They are also "the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus,having no confidence in the flesh." Were proselytes to the covenant, under the former dispensation, circumcised, in token of their proselytism? So proselytes to the covenant under the present dispensation, are to be *, and by all denominations, the quakers excepted, are, in fact, baptized in token of the same thing. Were the circumcised deemed clean, in distinction from the uncircumcised world, who were deemed unclean? So christians, who are baptized, are said to be "washed." As certain then, as one is a token of thecovenant, or a seal of the righteousness of faith; so, though not thus expressly denominated, is the other; and the latter is, to all intents and purposes, a substitute for the former.
The passage, Colossians ii. 12, 13, commonly introduced in support of the truth now advocated, and too much to the purpose to be overseen by an attentive enquirer, must here, as additional evidence, be carefully noticed. "In whom also (speaking to Gentile christians) ye are circumcised, with the circumcision, made without hands/in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are also risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God." Some Pcedobaptists, and those very learned men, have contended, that, by the circumcision of Christ here, the apostle means water baptism. It cannot perhaps be demonstrated, that this is, or that it is not the thing intended. On the supposition that it is, then we have here baptism expressly determined to be christian cuv cumcision. On the supposition that it is not, the evidence is scarcely less conclusive. Let it be conceded, that the apostle is here treating of the sanctification of the heart What will follow? If, by the circumcise ion of Christ, in the 12th verse, be meant sanctification of heart; then by baptism, in the 19th verse, must certainly be meant the same thing. For this verse is hot the assumption of an entirely new subject. It is a continuity of the sentence, which closes at the end of the verse,- and therefore respects the same subject; He tells these Colossians, that they had risen with Christ in baptism. Now, if the subject is the same, and if to put off the body of the sins of the flesh, and to rise •with Christ though the faith, which is of the operation of God, be the same thing; which it is presumed no body will dispute; then circumcision and baptism are used as of exactly equivalent import. Then who can doubt that the one is in the place of the other?
It has been sometimes objected to this idea, that if this were the case, the church in Jerusalem might have given a ready reply to the Antiochian christians. They might have told them at once, that baptism was substituted for circumcision, and therefore cireu mcision was ntf longer obligatory. To this I reply, that such wa» precisely the answer that the Jerusalem Church sent back, though not in so many words. These christians had been baptized. They are told, that after this was done, circumcision is not necessary. Baptism, under' the christian dispensation, is of equivalent import with, and therefore supercedes the necessity of circumcij sion.
It has been also asked, If baptism be in the place of circumcision, why is it not confined to males, and administered on the eighth day, as circumcision was? This question goes upon the supposition, that, in order that one institution may be a substitute for another, they must be similar in circumstantial things ;- thai* which nothing is more unjust. , It is not necessary for Us to know all the reasons for the ordinances God institutes, or the modifications to which he subjects them. But in this case, the reason of this circumstantial difference seems plain enough. The seed, to whom the promises vverc: made, who was to be a male, and the holiness of whose descent was signified by circumcision, is come. The desfgn of this appropriate. Hon, ;rs therefore answered. Its drscoiitinUance was fieces's&y 4o 66incide "With the Cospel dispensation.
The evidence that baptism is in the place of circumcision, will be considerably strengthened,, from the proofs Which will be produced, of infant membership, and infant baptism., For by these will appear the entire coincidence between (hi one and the other. Td this subject therefor*, We will tZxt -proceed.
Respecting the membership of infants in the Jewish, and Chrir^ tian Church; the application of the seals to them ; and the manner in which they are to be treated, by the officers, and adult members of the Church.
-- ••"- • "% Dr. GILL, and several other Baptist writer*, have freely conceded the fact, of the membership of infants in the Jewish Church. But they have not been candid enough to carry up this membership to itsfounda* tion in the Abrahamic covenant, notwithstanding they can find no posterior law, ordaining such a revolution in the society of Israel. To get rid of this difficulty, which' seems altogether insuperable, they set up their own authority against that of the Deity; and, in opposition todemonstrative evidence, convert the garden of God into an aceldema of dry bones.
It is presumed that the analysis which has been given of the Abrahamic covenant has proved, that infant membership was established in that covenant; that it was in fact, the most distinguishing feature of it. This covenant, it has been shewn, constituted a religious and an indissolvable society, which was to be transmitted, allowing for adult proselytism, seminally, from generation to generation to-the end of the world.
It is accordingly a fact, that from Abraham to the Exodus, infants were comprehended in the covenant alliance, and went to compose the society of Israel. It is a fact, not to be contested, that this continued to be the case till the Sinai covenant. And it is a fact conceded, which therefore we have no need to spend time to prove, that it continued ever afterwards, to the coming of the Messiah. He himself became a member