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right of infants They are mem
as in the days of Abraham. The must, of course, remain the same. bers of the covenant and church of God; and have been so acknowledged by Jehovah himself, ever since the days of Abraham. Enumerating some of the benefits of the new economy, God says, by the prophet Isaiah, that his people "shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them." And in the prophecies of Joel,t "the infant, not yet weaned," is expressly mentioned, as belonging to "the congregation of the Lord." In full accordance with this, our Saviour, while on earth, said "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
This standing of children" in the kingdom of God," or gospel church, as visibly related to the God of the covenant, can (seeing circumcision has been done away,) now be sealed only by the ordinance of baptism. It follows then, most clearly, that children must be baptized.
Reader, I speak not in the language of invective, when I say that, upon a review of this first argument, I tremble for those who debar infants from a privilege with which God has invested them; and unreasonably contend, that, under the mild and beneficent dispensation of the gospel, privileges have been ta
* lxv. 23.
+ ii. 16.
Mark x. 14, 16
ken away, which were enjoyed under the comparatively dark and oppressive dispensation of the law. O! that God would cause his people to see eye to eye, and by his Holy Spirit lead them into all truth!
2. My second argument in favour of infant baptism, respects the capacity of children to partake of the blessing signified and sealed in the ordinance of baptism; viz. remission of sin through the blood of Christ, and sanctification through the influence of the Holy Ghost.
That it is possible for infants to be in a state of favour with God, and, dying in infancy, to be saved from the wrath to come, the opposers of infant baptism will not deny. A very large majority of them would, probably, notwithstanding no explicit declaration upon the subject is recorded in the Bible, join in expressing a hope, that children, dying in infancy, are happy. But, if such children are saved, it cannot be on the ground of their personal innocence; for they are both guilty and depraved, as the children of fallen Adam. They can be saved only in that one way, which the gospel points out-the mediation, the righteousness, and grace of the Lord Jesus. Children, then, are capable of an interest in the blessings which Christ has purchased, and which baptism signifies and seals. Yea; we positively know, that, in some instances, children are actually partakers of these blessings, as it is evident from the case of Jeremiah, as well as that of John the Baptist. See Jer. i. 5, and Luke i. 15.
If then children may be, and sometimes actually are, partakers of the benefits signified and sealed in the ordinance of baptism, where can be the impropriety of administering to them the sign of these benefits? Especially since the promise, as recited by Peter on the day of Pentecost, is to us, and to our children? To this, the pious and learned authors of our Heidelbergh Catechism allude, when, in the section already referred to, they say, in support of infant baptism, that "redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult."
This argument, which is certainly not destitute of weight, contains in it, as you will hardly fail to notice, a satisfactory reply to the reproachful, indecent, 'and, I inay add, without being uncharitable, impious remark: You might as well sprinkle your calves and your pigs! Our calves and our pigs have no souls: But our children have; and souls, too, that may be saved through our Lord Jesus Christ! And if Baptists wish to rank their children with brutes, we can only regret the circumstance, and express our dissent.
3. Our third argument in favour of infant baptism contemplates the practice of the Apostles. Apostolic example must be received as law, and submitted to as a decision from which there is no appeal; and we claim the practice of the Apostles in support of
That the Apostles baptized whole families, is so plainly stated in scripture as not to admit a doubt
Of such families, baptized by the Apostles, three are mentioned in the New Testament; viz. the family of Lydia, Acts xvi. 15; the family of the Jailor, Acts xvi. 33; and the household of Stephanas, 1 Cor. i. 16. To these we might add, with propriety, although the inspired statement is not so explicit, the family of Cornelius, the centurion, Acts x. 48; and the family of Crispus, Acts xviii. 8. This
would increase the number to five.
Now the probability, that there were children in one of these families, is, at least, as fifteen is to one; and if there was but one child in one of these families, and that child was baptized in virtue of the promise, "I will be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee," it is sufficient to establish the fact, that infants are proper subjects of gospel baptism.
It may not be improper in concluding this argument, drawn from Apostolic practice, to state a circumstance in relation to the baptism of Lydia's family. The Syriac translation of the New Testament was made not more than a hundred years after the crucifixion: The authors of it must, therefore, have been pretty correctly informed on the subject of Apostolic practice. That translation, in relating the baptism of Lydia, says, "And when she was baptized, and the children of her household." I do not mean to say, that this is a correct translation. I only mention it as an historical fact, throwing light upon the subject under consideration. And, I ask, how, if infant baptism had never been heard of in that day, as our opponents assert, how it entered the
heads of these translators to say, that the children of Lydia were baptized with her?
But of proof like this, I might furnish abundance. The history of the church, as well as the practice of the Apostles, is most decidedly in our favour.
4. Let us then, as containing a fourth argument in favour of infant baptism, turn our attention to the history of the church. Ireneus, who was instructed by Polycarp, the disciple of the Apostle John, declares expressly that the church learned from the Apostles to baptize children. Origen, in the third century, affirmed, that the custom of baptizing infants was received from Christ and his Apostles. In the same century, and in the days of the famous Cyprian of Carthage, a council of sixty-six pastors was held to decide, whether it was necessary that infants should be baptized on the eighth day, as that had been the day for circumcising the Jewish children? or whether some other, and more convenient time, would answer the same purpose? No one asked, whether infants should be baptized at all? That was universally acknowledged. The only doubt entertained in relation to the subject, respected the particular time for the administration of the ordinance. On this point, the council decided, "that an infant might be baptized on the second or third day, or at any time, after its birth."
In the fourth century, Chrysostom, another fathers, in a public sermon, pressed and urged the duty of infant baptism.
In the fifth century, the heretic Pelagius, who de