Page images
PDF
EPUB

of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.*

Suffer me then, in this paper, to place the doctrine of infant baptism. more fully before you; and to screen myself from the charge of injustice, by giving you a candid view of the leading objections which are generally urged against it.

1. It is asserted, by the opposers of this doctrine, that the want of a positive command, or, at least, of a plain example to baptize children, renders it improper to do so. If you have attentively considered what has already been advanced, in support of our doctrine, you cannot be surprised to have me remark, that this objection rests entirely on a gratuitous assumption. It is assumed, that there is no positive precept, nor example to warrant the practice of baptizing children. Whereas, in examining the New Testament, both may plainly be discovered. The commission, given by Christ to the Apostles to teach or disciple, and then to baptize all nations, is (as has been justly remarked) positive and express authority for the baptism of the infants of such as are themselves discipled.

Here we have positive precept. Infants are a part, a numerous and important part of nations; and the Apostles were by their divine Master directed to baptize all nations, having previously instructed such among them as were capable of receiving inastruction.

* Eph. iv. 14

" It seems to me,” says the excellent Guyse.

that wadnieudalɛ wavia ta edvn, disciple all nations, relates to the whole design of Christ's commission for making disciples to him; and that Barlifovlss and didacxovres autous, baptizing and teaching them, are mentioned as particular branches of that general design, the order of which was to be determined by the circumstances of things: And these indeed made it necessary, that in discipling adult Jews and Heathens, they should be taught before they werebaptized. But other circumstances, in the settled state of the gospel kingdom, make it as necessary that they should be first baptized and afterwardstaught; as the children of Jews, and of proselytes to their religion, were first circumcised, and when they grew up, were instructed in the faith of the God of Israel."

As it respects example, we have already referred to five whole families, baptized by the Apostles; and although the baptism of the household is not so explicitly mentioned, in the case of Cornelius and Crispus, as in that of Lydia, the Jailor, and Stephapas, yet the fact is easily discovered. And if the truth be acknowledged only in relation to the threa last mentioned families, it completely answers our purpose, and is all that we ask.

But, with perfect propriety, we may ask, why this cry about positive precept, or example? Where is the necessity for them, in a case where duty is so plainly taught by clear, unsophisticated inference? The fact is, the church was already in full posses-, sion of all the information she needed in relation to this matter. If God had designed to cut off children from his visible church, thep indeed it would have been necessary, by a positive revelation, to revoke the privilege granted them, in the days of Abraham? But, if God designed that children should retain their standing in his church, nothing was necessary to be said upon the subject.

There was no necessity for positive command, 10 confirm a previous positive command. The church membership of infants was established in the time of Abraham. - That church membership was to be sealed to them, by the ordinance of circumcision. And as God did not, at the commencement of the gospel dispensation, take from children the right of church membership, they must still retain their standing in his visible church. All that could be ne.. cessary, was to have the manner, in which their membership was to be sealed, specified. This has been done, by substituting baptism in the place of circumcision. Here is instruction sufficiently explicit. Children are still members of God's visible church, and entitled to the token of the covenant : Circumcision, as the token of the covenant, has been abolished, and baptism has taken its place : Chil dren must therefore be baptized.

Again : Before we dismiss this objection, we may, on another ground, enquire, by what authority our opponents demand a positive precept, or plain example? Do they regulate their practice, in every instance, by this rule ? Certainly not. The admis

sion of females to the Lord's table; the observance of the first day of the week, as the Christian Sabbath ; and other particulars, which I might mention, are quite as deficient in positive precept, or plain example, as infant baptism is; yea, vastly more so. The truth is, duty may frequently be ascertained without these ; and when it can be so ascertained, as it manifestly can in the cases above specified, it displays presumption, and not modesty, to demand them.

2. A second objection to the doctrine of infant baptism, is this : Infants cannot be instructed, neither can they believe ; and therefore they ought not to be baptized: Because the commission says, teach and baptize ; and he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved. To this, we reply: Baptism requires precisely the same qualifications, which circumcision required under the law. From adults, it was required that they should believe, before they were circumcised: The same is required from adults now, before they are baptized. But as infants were then circumcised without exercising faith, so now they may be baptized without exercising faith.-Jewish infants were not better acquainted with the nature of the ordinances then in use, than Christiap infants are with the nature of the ordinances now in use; neither did they possess any higher qualifications for them. And it would have been no more improper in a Jew to say, Infants cannot believe, and therefore infants must not be circumcised,' than for an Antipedobaptist to say. Infants cannot believe, and therefore must not be baptized.

But let us push this argument a little furthes, and see where it will lead us.

1. Scripture says, believe, and be baptized. Infants cannot believe, and therefore infants must not be baptized.

2. Scripture says, believe, and be saved : “he that believeth not shall be damned.” Infants cannot believe, and therefore infants must be damned !

And so this famous syllogism begins by shutting our children out of the church, and it ends by consigning all, who die in infancy, to the damnation of hell!

But let us relieve the Baptist from this sickening dilemma, by asking, whether this be correct reasoning? and whether the objection, which he raised on the ground of what is required in adults, both to baptism and salvation, can be urged, with propriety, either against the baptism or the salvation of in- , fants ?

Certain it is, that all the passages of scripture which require faith, (that is, the credible profession of it,) to preceed baptism, relate only to those at years capable of it, and not to infants. The same may be said as it respects salvation.

Without the exercise of faith infants may be saved, and why, then, may they not, without the exercise of faith be baptized? The objection of it proves any. thing-proves too much; and therefore destroys it

self..

« PreviousContinue »