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those who profess faith in Christ are likewise the proper subjects of christian baptism.
This is a most important portion in a discussion on the doctrine of baptism; but it is too copious for me to enter upon at present. Allow me, however, just to say, that the right of the infants of those who profess faith in Christ, may be established on scriptural arguments, equally as strong as those which may be alleged for the right of admitting believing and baptized females to the Lord's table. The subject is important; and will, in the next lecture, be more fully entered upon.
Matthew xxviii. 19.
GO YE THEREFORE AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.
These words form part of the commission which our blessed Lord gave to his disciples before his ascension. I have considered them solely with reference to the ordinance of baptism. After some preliminary observations, I proposed to consider,
I. In the first place, the nature of baptism. II. Secondly, who are the proper subjects of the ordinance.
III. The mode of its administration.
IV. The benefits connected with it.
V. The obligations which result from this institution.
I. Under the first head—What is the nature of Christian baptism? I remarked,
1. That it is the initiatory ordinance of Christianity.
2. That it is a symbol of man's corrupt state by nature.'
3. That it is an emblematic representation of many spiritual blessings.
Under this particular it was demonstrated from a variety of express portions of the word of God, that the blessings connected with Christian baptism are (1), Remission of sin. (2), Salvation through Jesus Christ. (3), Union and communion with Christ, and his body the church. (4), The putting on Christ as our spiritual covering and complete righteousness. (5), The effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the soul. (C), Regeneration, or the quickening influences of the Divine Spirit to subdue the corruption of our nature. (7), And sanctification, by which we are meetened for the enjoyment of God, and in which the church will be presented by Christ to the eternal Father, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
All these particulars were illustrated, and I think clearly demonstrated, by express passages from the sacred scriptures.
In the second place I proceeded to inquire,
II. Who are the proper subjects for the ordinance of baptism.
And here it was observed, in the first place, that,
1. All those adults (not having been previously baptized) who profess repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, are to be admitted to this rite.
Thus far christians of all denominations are agreed. Upon this profession believers were baptized, at the introduction of Christianity. It was impossible they could receive christian baptism, when they were infants; for Christianity did not then exist. The first christians of riper years must therefore have been baptized as adults. The case of the heathen is now exactly similar to this. And therefore christian missionaries, whether belonging to the established or any other church, baptize adults when they are converted to the christian faith, as the disciples baptized the first believers in their time: and if any person in a christian country, has not been baptized in his infancy, he is to be baptized in riper years, on the profession of his repentance and faith. There can be no dispute on this subject. Thus far all are agreed. The only difference would be in the mode of obtaining a hopeful evidence, that the profession of faith and repentance was sincere.
Thus far I proceeded in my former discourse: I now remark, as a second particular under this head,
2. That the infants of those who profess faith in Christ, are likewise the proper subjects of christian baptism.
On this position, one denomination of christians differs from the rest of the religious world; and argues in opposition to the sentiments of the church in general, that no infants are to be baptized. This point appears to me to be one of great importance. I shall make it the subject of the remaining part of this discourse. In doing this,
First, I shall prove my position, that the infants of those who profess faith in Christ, are proper subjects of baptism.
Secondly, I shall answer the objections made to this position.
VOL. II. p
(1). Infants are proper subjects for the baptismal rite, from the appointment of God.
It is an incontestable fact, that God appointed the membership of infants in his church, and from thi~ membership he has never excluded them.
In the dispensation which God made to Abraham, he gave him the sign of circumcision, as a seal of the righteousness of faith; and by this rite, infants were, at the express command of God, admitted within the pale of the church. This appointment continued not only from the time of Abraham to Moses; but likewise all through the Mosaic dispensation, till the coming of Jesus Christ, who himself, when an infant, that he might fulfil all righteousness, was by circumcision introduced into the then constituted visible church of God. If God, therefore, has not excluded infants from church-membership, man has no authority to do it; and it is evident, they must still have a right to that privilege. But how are they to be received into the church? Not by circumcision; for this ordinance is abolished under the Christian dispensation. Baptism has superseded it, and is now the initiatory rite of admission into the church. If, therefore, children are to be received into the church, it must be by baptism.
Admitting then, that infants were received into the church, under the preceding dispensations, it follows, that the privilege is still continued to them, unless it can be proved to have been subsequently denied to them. But where, when, how, and by whom, have they been deprived of it? We cannot