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the nature of the token, be of any force with a candid mind, to weaken this conclusion? At any rate, we see that the commission of Christ, from the very terms of it, necssarily involves infant baptism.
2. The declaration of our Savior, John iii. 5, is of weight to determine that baptism ought to be extended to the infant seed of believers. "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto.thee, except a man, (t/<t, any one) be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Here water baptism is placed in connexion with the renewing of the Holy Ghost; and the former is made as essential to an entrance into the kingdom of God as the latter.* It is made as essential to infants as to adults j if they equally need regeneration; and if they are comprehended under the universal term T/<t. This declaration of Christ, introduced with a double asseveration, is equivalent with that of the apostle Peter, I Peter, iii. 21, '* The like figure whereunto, even baptism doth now save us." It is equivalent also with what God told Abraham, with respect to circumcision. *' And the uncircumcised manchild, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul s,hall be cut off from his people." These passages concur in the absolute necessity of our observing the ordinances of God when made known to us. To trample upon any of them is fatal.
As to this passage in John, it is certain, that the primitive fathers very generally understood it as precluding salvation, at least in ordinary cases, without' water baptism; and this with respect to infants as wrell as adults. The letter of the passage certainly concludes in this principle. And the parallel places coincide with it. Let who dare go directly in the face of the Savior's declaration and say, that millions may enter the kingdom of God, who are not born of water. f Dr.
* It is supposed, that in this case, as in the case of circumcision, a neglect, not founded in permission, or involuntary 'gnorance, but in impietv, is that which excludes from the kingdom of God. An adult may be disinherited •f the blessing by this impiety; and he may, according to divine constitution, disinherit his child. It is as great impiety to trample upon an instituted. rite, as to live in the commission of any other sin.
+ Some persons insinuate, that water baptism is not here intended. Dr Bald* win satins to take this for granted. But upon what grounds I cannot conceive,
•Gale denies that this passage has any application to infonts. His reason is, that not being subjects of sin, they are incapable of renovation of heart. They are, according to him, to be classed with brutes, as incapable of any sort of moral action, and therefore both of the blessing and of the curse. This Pelagian doctrine, it is apprehended few-, who oppose infant baptism, will in these days, readily adopt. Certainly many antipcedobaptist writers contend for the opposite sentiment.— The limitation, which the Doctor's construction makes, is against the letter of the passage; and the principle upon which it is founded, is repugnant to the current of scripture. It is not contended, that infants are to b'ame that they are not baptized. Nor were they to blame, under the former dispensation, if they were not circumcised. But all are by nature children of wrath; and God has a sovereign right to extend salvation to whom he pleases; and to except whom, and in such a way as appears to him wisest, from being subjects of it. Allowing that, if infants are saved, they are saved wholly by grace, and as subjects of sanctiiication, we cannot reasonably consider the words of our Savior as less applicable to them thai, to adults. And if he designed the salvation of any of them; and we see that the promise of salvation terminates upon the seed, we shall be constrained to admit, that he has made provision for their being baptized. The passage then concludes, that baptism, according to Christ's institution, extends to proper subjects among infants, as well as to proper subjects among those who have arrived to adult years. Whether by the kingdom of God, is to be understood, the real church of the Messiah on earth; or that church in its glorified state in heaven, the conclusion is the same; though it seems necessary to understand the latter.
Surely no words can be plainer. Dr. Doddridge understands the passage o£ water bapti.m ; and so did all antiquity I do not see how it is possible to give any other construction of it, which shall be at all in agreement v«ith the analogy of scripture, or with common sense. Poole, it is true, introduces a manner of constructing the passage, which some have been disposed to adopt, which makes this clauseoaltogether figurative. But it is too absurd to be entitled to notice. 4 Here is nothing like a figure, unless it be in the term born.
3. The fact, that Jewish believers continued, after the typical design of circumcision was answered, and till the distinction between Jew and Gentile was lost, to cirumcise their children, afibrds proof that baptism ought to be applied to the seed of Gentile believers. That this was a fact, has been sufficiently established, and probably no one will deny it.. This fact has been introduced to prove the perpetuity of infant membership in the church of Christ. Now it is introduced in proof of infant baptism. If the children of Jewish parents were circumcised, because they were children of the covenant; and held with their parents a membership in the church, it seems but a necesary inference, that the children of Gentile parents, who are partakers of the same faith, and fellow heirs 6f the same blessing, should, as they are equally with the others, children of the covenant, and members of the fam. ily, be baptized. All the reasons there are for the. one, exist with respect to the other.
4. The entire silence of scripture, as to limiting baptism to adult believers, is proof of the right of apply? ing it to infants. The silence of scripture, as to infant baptism, is often urged by antipoedbbaptists, as an unanswerable argument against it. But.the argument in our hands, is altogether a better one than in theirs.— An explicit precept is not necessary where other evidence is clear. If we had no such evidence, then it might be admitted, that an explicit precept would be requisite. This is precisely the case with antipcedobaptists. They have scarcely a shred of an argument against infant membership, and infant baptism. In our opinion they have not even that. They scarcely attempt to prove a negative. The sorry plea, that baptism is placed in connexion with personal faith in adults, which is wholly irrelevant, is the sum of what they have to say. As they are so poorly furnished with other evidence; and oppose that, which, to say the least, has a considerable claim to be thought decisive, they ought to be able to produce an explicit restriction, which should finally determine the practice, and harmonize the members of the church of Christ. It was infinitely important that the apostles, and their successors in the ministry, should know how they were to proceed in this article of duty. The subject intimately concerned the whole Church, and every period of its existence. Upon the principle, that the infants of believers were to be passed by, in the administration of baptism, the church were extremely exposed to error. The nature of the covenant; "the numerous promises of the Old Testament respecting the children of God's people; the relation these children had ever holden in Israel; the practice of infant circumcision, as an indispensable thing; the custom, which there is much reason to believe prevailed, of receiving proselytes and their children, by baptism, into the community of Israel; the declarations of Christ in favor of little children; the necessity of bapr tism to salvation, as taught by him, without any limitation of the doctrine to adults; the commission given to the disciples; and the language of prophecy; aH concurred, with greater force than we at this day can well conceive, to lead them directly into infant baptism. Hence divines of very opposite theories in theology ; and churches founded on very different principles in other respects, have harmoniously adopted infant baptism. Even when the foundation of it was not well understood, the collateral evidence has been sufficient to convince. It seemed therefore absolutely necessary, that, if baptism were to be restrained to believing adults, there should be an explicit restriction authoritatively binding the apostles and their successors, not to apply baptism to the seed. But no such restriction^ to be found. The entire silence of the scripture in this regard, is therefore proof, that the children of christian parents, ought to be baptized. < s"I 5. The actual baptism of the households of Gentile believers, is proof that the children of believers ought to be baptized. Of this, we have at least three examples. They have been already mentioned. Lydia, and her household ; the jailor, and his houshold »
and Stephanas, and his household. The cases of th« two former are to be found in Acts xvi. and shall be cited at large. "And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us."— The story of the jailor is this. "And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God ; and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell dovyn before Paul and Silas; and brought them out, and said. Sirs, What must I do to be saved r And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them, the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his straightway. And when he had brought them into His house, he sat meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house." Both these persons were inhabitants of Philippi, a city of Macedonia. Stephanas, as has been observed, was an inhabitant of Corinth, a city of Greece. The baptism of his household is but transiently mentioned. I. Corinthians i. 16. The reader will here recollect the remarks which have been made on the manner of tlie apostle's expressing himself in this place.