« AnteriorContinuar »
understand by it? Nothing, reader, but his public inauguration into the priest's office, according to the prescriptions of the ceremonial law.-Christ was now thirty years old, the time when the priests under the law entered upon their office: And he was now to enter on his public ministry, and to fulfil all righteousness, as he told the hesitating Baptist-be was baptized of John—that is, to fulfil the righteousness of the ceremonial law: "Legitimas observationes," as Beza remarks.-The ceremonial law required that the priest should be consecrated to his office, by Christ was washed or washing, anointing, &c.* baptized by John, and immediately afterwards he was anointed with the Holy Ghost.+
The whole objection is drawn from what has no relation to the subject in dispute. And, even if it were relevant, it destroys itself by proving too much. For if the baptism of Christ is to serve as an example, by which we are to be regulated in the reception of that ordinance-if the time that Christ was baptized, fixes the time when we are to be baptized-it will follow, no person ought to be baptized until he is thirty, even if he should have been converted at fifteen!
Our Baptist friends will join us, in exclaiming, This will not do! And so we think of the whole objection.
4. The fourth, and last objection, I shall notice, is this. Baptism can be of no use to infants; and therefore ought not to be administered to them.-To † Mat. iii. 16.
* Lev. viii. 6, 12.
this, it is a sufficient reply, to say, that baptism can be of as much use to Christian children, as circumcision was to the children of the Jews. And further; that it is impious in us to question the utility of any divine institution.
The children among the Jews were, by a positive statute, commanded to be circumcised. It was always esteemed by the Jew an important benefit, to put the seal of the covenant upon his infant offspring. The Christian has the same reason to rejoice in the privilege of offering up his children to God in baptism, that the Jew had to offer up his in circumcision. And whenever the opposers of infant baptism will prove to us, that it was of no use to circumcise children under the law-that it was an unmeaning and useless ceremony-it will then be time enough for us to show, that baptism, the substitute for circumcision, is not a useless ordinance in our day.
But this is a point worthy of serious investigation --not to refute the objection last stated, which was satisfactorily done in the general remarks just made; but to impress upon the minds of parents, that it is a sacred duty, in which the welfare of their children is deeply involved, to dedicate them, while in a state of infancy, to the living God in the holy ordinance of baptism.
The importance of baptism will, therefore, claim our attention whenever we shall have finished our remarks in relation to the subjects.
Thus have I given you an opportunity to judge of the merits of this controversy, by bringing under
your consideration the objections which are genęrally urged against the practice of infant baptisn..~ You are now able to examine both sides of the subject; and to determine on which side truth lies.
The prominent objections, I can assure you, have been honestly brought forward: And, indeed, I do ot know of any objection, besides those which I have mentioned, which is deserving of any consideration at all. I trust, that those which have been noticed, are answered in a way which will be satisfactory to you; and tend to increase your gratitude to the God of the covenant, whose promise is to us and our seed; and who confirms to them, as well as to us, an interest in covenant mercies, by the application of the authorized seal.
The question Whose children have a right to the ordinances of baptism?' considered and answered.
WE have already ascertained, that unbaptized adults, making a credible profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, are entitled to the ordinance of baptism, as a token of the covenant which God made with Abraham, and as a seal of the righteousness of faith.
I trust, it has also been proved to your satisfaction, that in the covenant which God made with Abraham, an interest, and place was secured to children, of which they have never since been deprived; and that, as circumcision has been abolished, their interest and standing in that covenant can now only be sealed by baptism: And that, consequently, it must be the will of God that children should be baptized now, as much as it was his will that they should be circumcised, during the period of the Jewish church.
Suffer me now to observe to you, that all that has been advanced in favour of infant baptism, has fallen far short of proving that infants of every description are now entitled to the ordinance of baptism. Neither was it my design to prove this. You will bear in mind, that I expressly stated, when entering on the discussion in relation to infant baptism, that the question to be considered and decided, was not whether all children have a right to baptism? but whether any are entitled to that exalted privilege? As this question has been decided in the affirmative, we now proceed to consider a no less important question,-viz. Whose children are to be admitted to the sacrament of baptism? Hic labor, hoc opus est, as good old Boston says in relation to this very point. -Here lies the difficulty. May the Spirit of God lead us into all truth, and make us acquainted with the mind and will of Christ in this enquiry.
To every system, whether of theory or practice, belong certain great and leading principles, which
are to be considered and used as the land-marks of truth and duty. Several of these principles, in relation to the doctrine of baptism, have been ascertained in our preceding discussions; and it will now be necessary to call in their aid to assist us to deterinine the question under consideration.
You will then recollect:
1. That the visible church has been organized, in the way of a covenant made with Abraham, which remains in full force and operation to this day,
2. That in that covenant provision was made for the church membership of infants: "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee."
3. That circumcision was, by divine appointment, the token of the covenant, and the confirmation of membership, until the time of the evangelical dispensation; when baptism, by the same divine authority, was substituted in its place.
4. That this token of the covenant, and confirmation of church membership, belong only to such infants as are born within the covenant, and members of the church.
5. That no child can, by birth, be within the covenant, and a member of God's visible church, unless, at least, one of the immediate parents sustains that relation. 1 Cor. vii. 14.
These principles have all been asserted and established, in preceding papers; we have now only to make a practical application of them to the subject under consideration.
From these principles, you will at once perceive,