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his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." This prophecy had ultimate respect to a period yet future. It embraces the infant part of Israel as subjects of the salvation promised.But can they be subjects of this salvation, and yet have no covenant connexion with the people of God?
In the 46th chapter of Isaiah, the 3d and 4th verses, we have this gracious declaration, addressed to Israel, "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb. And even to your old age, I am he; and even to hoar hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry, and deliver you." This declaration is not merely descriptive of God's providence, which extends to the world as much as to the Church; but it is covenant language. It expresses God's covenant care over the individuals of Israel, from their birth; and extends to all future, as well as to past time. But this language cannot apply, if infant membership is discontinued.
In the 30th chapter of Jeremiah, at the 18th verse, is the following gracious promise. "Thus saith the Lord, behold, I will bring again the captivity of Ja cob's tents, and haye mercy on his dwelling places; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving, and the voice of them that make merry; and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few. I will glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime." This promise, as is the case with the most of the promises of the Old Testament, had undoubtedly, immediate respect to the return from the Babylonian captivity; but ultimate respect to a period yet future, when the Jews shall be brought in with. the fulness of the Gentiles, and so all Israel shall be saved. But how is it possible the promise should be fulfilled, if there be a revocation of infant member
ship? Such a revocation must place the infant part of Israel, out of the gates of Zion, abroad, in the midst of the uncovenanted world; a condition just the opposite of what they were aforetime.
6. The membership of infants, instead of being annulled, is openly recognized and confirmed, by our Savior: Matth. xix. 13. "Then were there brought unto him, little children, (waidia; in Luke it is, ßgen, infants) that he should put his hands on them, and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." The Baptist writers are undoubtedly correct, in saying, that these infants were not brought to Christ for baptism. Nothing of this kind appears. Infant baptism was not probably now in use; because infant circumcision was. But, whatever some of this sort of writers may indiscreetly insinuate to the contrary, the best informed, are generally constrained to acknowledge, that infants in years are meant. The circumstance of their being brought of those being rebuked who brought them; and not the children for coming; and their being taken into the Redeemer's arms, decide, that they were infants, literally. Dr. Gale freely concedes this. Reflections, page 431. They could not have been brought, this writer contends, for spiritual blessings; because, being without sin, and not moral agents, they were incapable of such blessings. He says they were brought to have their diseases healed. This he says without one word of evidence. He says it even against evi dence. For why should the disciples interposé to' prevent the miraculous works of Christ, in healing the diseases of infants, any more than those of adults? The text says, they were brought to have the Savior
lay his hands on them, and pray." For what should he, could he pray in their behalf, but for spiritual blessings? And was he not always heard, so that his prayers were as efficacious as absolute promises, to se cure to the subjects of them, the blessings of the covenant? If this be the just construction, and no other
seems at all admissible, then our Savior's order, to have these infants come to him, argreeably to the aim of those who brought them, will imply, that they were capable of receiving spiritual blessings, and of course, of being members of his kingdom. But not to dwell on the reason of their being brought, which is rather circumstantial, the weight of evidence is in the last clause of the passage. "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." This is a positive assertion; and one would think sufficiently clear and unambiguous. It teaches expressly, that of such the kingdom of the Messiah, in the glorious day of the Gospel, does consist. Suppose a magistrate, who was correctly informed, and whose province it was to decide, should say of several infants, and especially upon an occasion of their being brought to receive some civil franchise, of such is the community; would any one be in danger of misapprehending his meaning, who had not some interest to secure by the perversion of his words? But the oppos ers of infant membership, have two evasions, to get rid of the force of this declaration. One is, that by the kingdom of heaven, is meant, the kingdom of glory. So Dr. Gale contends. But this is mere assertion, and contrary to evidence. For the phrase, the kingdom of heaven, as has been shewn, and as he himself is constrained to concede, generally means the kingdom of the Messiah, in its rise, under the Gospel dispensation. In this sense, it was a good reason why the Savior should allow, these children to come to him for his blessing. For he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, without distinction of age or rank. But suppose the kingdom of glory is intended; it will really amount to the same thing. For that is but the Messiah's kingdom, in its ultimate state of exaltation. And none are admitted there, who have not union to him here. "He who hath Christ, hath life; but he who hath not Christ, hath not life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
It is objected, that this construction makes the Sa vior say, what it was altogether needless he should
say. For if infant membership did exist; if this was a part of the plan of the Messiah's kingdom, and then in operation, it was perfectly well understood; and therefore need not be declared. But the Messiah was now ordering and establishing his kingdom forever. And it might not be known by all, how he was order. ing it in this respect. There might be, and probably were many contrary appearances. Those who actual ly followed Jesus, were generally beyond the period of infancy. This might suggest sufficient reason for Christ to take this opportunity openly to confirm the memberhip of infants in his kingdom. What thousands now confidently believe, might have been then a matter of question.
The other evasion is, that by the terms, of such, we are to understand persons who are spiritually formed after such a model; i. e. of such persons as are like these infants in the temper of their minds. But there is not a word said of these infants, as subjects of real sanctification. And if there were, it does not appear, that they would be any better models of piety than sanctified adults. Neither is it the object of the Savior to exhibit them in that light. The idea is, be sides, far fetched, and inapt. It is a bad reason, unworthy of the Savior of the world to assign. "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of characters like these little children, the kingdom of heaven is composed. It is well observed by Dr. Hemmenway, that upon this understanding of the declaration, lambs and doves might have been ordered by the Savior, to be brought to him with as much pro priety; and to them the declaration would as pertinently apply. If these children are spoken of merely as children, without respect to their sanctification, the parallel, which is made by this supposition, will not hold, and the reason is as bad as possible. If with respect to a sanctification, of which they really were subjects, the reason is far better, as confined to them; and the original (en Tolourwv) favors the con. fining of it to them. The fact however is, member
ship only is asserted. And this, it is evident, is exactly the reason which should have been given.
This relation of membership in his kingdom, seems plainly recognized again by Christ, in Mark ix. 36, 37. "And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them, and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children, in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” In the name of Christ, is a mode of speaking, which, as is evident from parallel places, is equivalent with a disciple of Christ, or as belonging to Christ. See Mark ix. 41. “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, becausé ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." These children were of a particular description. εv Toloulwv waidiwv, one of such children as these. They were children of his kingdom; probably children of parents who adhered to him, as the Messiah. Their relation to him as his, is expressly brought into view in the passage. For those who received them, received, for that reason him. Surely then, infant membership is here recognized and confirmed.
7. The grand commission which Christ gave to his disciples, to go over the world and preach the Gospel in his name, is delivered in such terms, as seem necessarily to imply the continuance of infant membership in his Church, to the end of time. Matthew xxviii. 19, 20. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
We will not here go into the dispute, on which so much learning has been expended, respecting the proper meaning of the Greek term, abylevw; and whether the nations were to be made disciples, in order to be taught; or were to be acknowledged and baptized, as disciples, subsequent to their being taught, and upon their receiving the Gospel. I am ready to concede, ✯