« AnteriorContinuar »
pf this society by birth. No law of the Sinai covenant, ordaining the membership of infants at all, and especially as a new thing, can be produced. Infants then must have held their membership, not by the Si. nai covenant; but by the Abrahamic covenant only. The abolition of the Sinai covenant did not, of course, affect this establishment. \
The only question therefore, now before us, on this subject is, Has the institution of infant membership been revoked under the christian dispensation? None, it is evident, could revoke it but God. For he only, Who rightfully, and authoritatively establishes a law, is competent to repeal it. And if the revocation have taken place, it must have been as public, and express, as the law.
Now, that there has been no such revocation, and that infant membership is continued, in its full force, under the christian dispensation, may appear from the following considerations.
X. Infant membership cannot be annulled ; because to annul it, would be to diminish materially the blessing, which the covenant secured. The covenant entailed, not the curse, but the blessing. "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee
—and thou shalt be a blessing the blessing is in the
house of the righteous—and all that see them, shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." The blessing attached itself to the society perpetually. It was entailed upon the adopted, as fully as upon the natural seed. "I will bless him that blesseth thee." Galatians iii. 8. "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preaehed before the Gospel unto. Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Here was an irrevocable grant of the entire blessing of the covenant to the believing Gentiles. It is therefore added, in the next verse. "So then, they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." And at the 1,4th verse, "That the blessing of Abra* ham, ir/:ght come on the Gentiles through Jesus
Christ.'/ Here is the very blessing with which God blessed Abraham, full, and entire, determined by the -apostle to have come on the Gentiles. Hence it M said in the two last verses, "There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female, for ye are att one in Christ.— And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." The complete inheritance belongs to them, as proper heirs, by virtue of the absolute promise of the covenant. This blessing' could neither be withdrawn, nor diminished ; for it was given by will. It might be enlarged, at least in its ef.feets. And we have abundant evidence, that at the advent of Christ, and in the Gospel day, it was enlarged. It was not narrowed into a more diminutive stream, but swelled into a broader river. "And I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream." Infant membership was an important part of the blessing. Its revocation cannot therefore have taken place.
2. Infant membership is not only secured in the covenant, as a part of the blessing; but it is so insep-' arably connected with the covenant, as to be essential* to its existence. If this be withdrawn, the covenant itself is done away. The seed isthe great object of covenant promise. "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed." Abraham was but one. The seed were' to be innumerable, and were to come on, in succession, by birth. Infant membership must necessarily coexist with the duration, and execution of the covenant. If it were to be annulled, the enquiry would present itself in a moment, Why? Is the covenant at an end? Has God reversed his engagement, that he will be a God to Abraham and his seed? Has God;castaway people whom he foreknew? Has he chan^his counsels, and forfeited his oath? •'•'•'' -tf-W&yi
3. If infant membership were revoked under 1 christian dispensation, it must have brought about 45 great revolution in the Church; and this revolution""' must have been a matter of public notoriety. It muatA have impressed the minds of the adult members ofth$ Church, especially the Jewish believers, very sensibly. It must have been a source of commotion, of objection, at least of solicitous enquiry ; and it seems Impossible that very much should not be found in the scriptures respecting it. Such a change could hardly have failed to be a subject of prophecy ; and of history, after it had taken place. Infant membership had existed about two thousand years; and all the habits of epinion and practice, in Israel, had become conformed^ to it. Changes of far less moment, and calculated to affect the feelings of individuals, and the economy of the Church, far less sensibly, were subjects of prbphe- * „ey, and of particular record. If a small Pcedobaptist Church in these days, becomes Antipoedobaptist, or even a majority of them, it is noised all over the country, and becomes a matter of public agitation; of exultation on the one hand, and of regret on the other. JJut not a lisp of any such thing do we find in the scripture history.
4. If such a revocation has been given out, it is not lost. It is certainly someivhere in the scripture, and can be produced. But the opposers of infant membership have not been able, they have not even attempted to proV duce such a revocation; though urgently and publicly cal-, fed upon to do it. And now they are once more challenged to produce such a revocation. A recourse to. the miserable pretence, that the Sinai covenant was a political compact, and the Jewish Church a worldly commonwealth, will not be accepted in the room of it; '. 5. There are several prophecies and promises, in the Old Testament, which looked forward to the Cospel day, and which could not possibly be fulfilled, but upon the principle of the continuity of the membership of infants. Such, for example, is the promise, of making a new covenant with the house of Israel ; off which we have so particularly commented in the course of this work. That clause only, will be here quoted, which respects the present point. "And they shall* teach no more, every man his neighbor, and every man.
his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." This prophecy had ultimate respect to a period yet future. It embraces the infant part of Israel as subjects pf the salvation promised.— out can they be subjects of this salvation, and yet have no covenant connexion with the people of God?
In the 46th chapter of Isaiah, the 3d and 4th verses, we have this gracious declaration, addressed to Israel. "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by rticfrom the belly, which are carried from the womb. And even to your old age, I am he; and even to hoar hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will, bear, even I will carry, and deliver you." This declaration is not merely descriptive of God's providence, which extends, to the world as much as to the Church; but it is, covenant language. It expresses God's covenant care over the individuals of Israel, from their birth; and. extends to all future, as well as to past time. But this language cannot apply, if infant membership is, discontinued.
In the 30th chapter of Jeremiah, at the 18th verse,, is the following gracious promise. "Thus saith thc~ Lord, behold, J, will bring again the captivity of Ja,-. cob's tents, and haye mercy on his dwelling places; and the city shall be b.uilded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And., out of them shall proceed thanksgiving, and the voice of them that make merry; and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few, I will glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime,." This promise, as is the case with the most of the promises of the Old Testament, had undoubtedly, immediate respect to the return from the Babylonian captivity; but ultimate respect to a period yet future, when the Jews shall be brought in with., the fulness of the Gentiles, and so all Israel shall be saved. But how is it possible the promise should be, fulfilled, if there be "a revocation of infant member
ship? Such a revocation must place the infant part of Israel, out of the gates of Zion, abroad, in the midst of the uncovenanted world; a condition just the opposite of what they wefe aforetime.
'6. The membership of infants, instead of being anhulled, is fopenly recognized and confirmed, by our Savior.- Matth. xix. 13. "Then were there brought unto him, little children, (wctlSla; in Luke it is, /3jf<pvt, infants) that he should put his hands on them, andpray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto ine; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." The Baptist writers are undoubtedly correct, in saying, that these infants were not brought to Christ for baptism. Nothing of this kind appears. Infant baptism was not probably now in use ; because infant circumcision was. Buty whatever some of this sort of writers may indiscreetly insinuate to the contrary, the best informed, are generally constrained to acknowledge,' that infants in! years are meant. The circumstance of their being brought; of those being rebuked who brought them;; and not the children for coming; and their being taken into the Redeemer's arms, decide, that they were infants, literally. Dr. Gale freely concedes this. Reflections, page 431. They could not have been brought, fliis writer contends, for spiritual blessings; because, being without sin, and not moral agents, they were incapable of such blessings. Me says they were brought to have their diseases healed. This he says without one word of evidence. He says it even against evi-' dence. For why should the disciples interpose to' prevent the miraculous works of Christ, in healing the diseases of infants, any more than those of adults? The text says, they were brought to have the Savior n lay his hands on them, and pray." For what should he, could he pray in their behalf, but for spiritual blessings? And was he not always heard, so that his prayers were as efficacious as absolute promises, to secure to the subjects of them, the blessings of the coveBant? Ifthisbethe just construction, and no other