And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him. Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:
~ Exodus 29:21-22
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
~ Ezekiel 36:25-27
And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
~ Genesis 17:12, Genesis 21:3-4
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
~ Philippians 3:5
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
~ Luke 2:21
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
~ Acts 1:5
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
~ Romans 6:3-6
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
~ 1Peter 3:19-21
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:19
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
– Colossians 2:8–15
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
~ Acts 16:14-15
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
~ Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 36:26
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:14, Psalm 132:12
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
~ Ephesians 4:4-6
Infant Baptism God’s Ordinance: Or, Clear Proof That all the Children of Believing Parents are in the Covenant of Grace; And Have as Much a Right to Baptism the Now Seal of the Covenant, as the Infant Seed of the Jews had to Circumcision, the Then Seal of the Covenant, by Michael Harrison, Minister of the Gospel. Published, 1694.
Rom. 16. 17, 18. I beseech you brethren mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine ye have learned, and avoid them: For they that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
To all into whose hands this may fall; especially those who sit under my Ministry.
There are two things which do most evidently prove man by nature a lost Creature.
The one is the exceeding propensity and inclination in the heart of every man to actual sin, Psal. 58.3. Job 15.16. Though every man is not actually guilty of every sin, yet is there not a sin in the world, but is seminally and vertually in every one’s Nature.
The other is that strange infatuation the Understanding lieth under, and its proneness to mistake darkness for light; damnable and deformed Errors for beautiful and saving Truths: And that which is saddest of all, a tenacious adherence to, and a resolved perseverance in, these by-paths of Error, is very oft a mournful consequence that follows them.
Now as these two things do shew the fearful ruines and miserable condition of all by Nature: So there are two things which all Gospel-ministers should vehemently urge upon their people as effectual remedies against so dangerous and pernicious a malady.
The one is the absolute and indispensible necessity of the new birth; Joh. 3.3. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This new birth is no less than a renovation of all the Powers and Faculties of the Soul, a putting off the old man, and a putting on Christ; a changing that heart into a new gracious tender heart, that was by nature an old unbelieving stony heart; any thing that persons rest in short of this new birth, is short of Salvation.
The other is, soundness of judgment in the Doctrine of Christ; it is not like that the Life should be holy, if the Understanding be corrupt; there are damnable Principles as well as damnable Practices, 2 Pet. 2.1.
Indeed all Erroneous Opinions are not alike dangerous; such as strike at the fundamental Articles of Christianity are most deadly; such as err in lesser Points, are not in so much danger.
Therefore, as the more fundamental and noble a Doctrine is, the more earnestly should we contend for it; so the more directly any Erroneous Opinion subverts same fundamental Truth, the more zeal and indignation we should shew against it; as also the greater care to antidote our selves and others against it.
Now amongst those Erroneous Doctrines that have been like pricking Briars, and wounding Thorns, ever since the beginning of the Reformation, to the Protestant Churches, those wild and Erroneous Doctrines that have been broached by the Antipedo Baptists, on Anabaptists, have not created the least trouble to the Church of Christ, but have been a perpetual vexation and trouble to all our godly Reformers, as is evident by the sad complaints of those godly men in their Books, as who will but read the Works or Lives of Calvin, Luther, Zuinglius, Melancton, Oeculampadius, Musculus, &c. and our English Divines, may be abundantly satisfied. The danger many of you were in of being sucked in among the Anabaptists, or at least to join with them in excluding your Infants from Baptism, the Seal of the Covenant, was that which first put me upon preaching upon this Subject; and it is the earnest request of several of you, that makes me consent to the Printing of it. The Sermons you have lately heard upon this Text, have been (glory to Free Grace) of admirable use to establish and settle those of you that were staggering in this Doctrine; that whereas there was many scruples in many persons about Infant Baptism, yet now there are very few, if any, of those that constantly frequent this Congregation, but have attained great satisfaction.
As God that knows my heart, can testify for me, that it is not yours, but you, that I seek, your present holiness and eternal happiness; so my greatest joy amongst you will be to find that my labour is not in vain; that you are gained to Christ, and joined to him by so firm a faith as the gates of Hell may never prevail against.
I bless God for that encouragement I have had amongst you, many of you that sprung from Parents of the opposite Persuasion, having so chearfully listed your selves in Christ’s Service, and by receiving Christ’s Press-money, have more solemnly engaged your selves to be his Servants for ever. And that so many of you, and many even of adult age, have thought it their honour to be catechised in the Publick Congregation, which, I hope, will be followed by many others.
In short, Your exceeding willingness to wait on the Ministry with those saving impressions which, I hope, God hath made on many of your hearts, are to me a ground of hope, that what is so hopefully begun amongst you, will be as comfortably finished in the glory of God, and your Eternal Salvation.
If any demand a reason, why one who willingly acknowledges himself to be the unfittest of a thousand, hath attempted this work, which hath been so well performed by several abler Pens? I only answer, That what others have done, being either too voluminous, or Answers to other Books, were therefore not so proper: Besides, they that know my Circumstances, the confident repeated Challenges, the restless Insinuations of the Anabaptists, together with the various Attempts that the Persons of that Persuasion have made to ensnare and draw away my Hearers (though I bless God with no success) to their own way; will see that I lay under a kind of necessity for what I have done.
Christian, study thy own heart, love all that fear God, though differently persuaded in some lesser things. And pray for him who desires to serve thee in our common Saviour,
— Michael Harrison.
Infant Baptism, God’s Ordinance.
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, To be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee.
God having in Gen. 12.3. promised Abraham, that in him all nations should be blessed; comes now in this 17th Chapter in a more express and formal manner to establish his Covenant with Abraham: In which observe three things.
1. The Persons covenanting.
1. Ex parte Dei; God stands on the one side of the Covenant: O the Infinite Condescention of the Great God, to take any notice of lost Sinners! that when we had broken the First Covenant, that he should condescend to make a Second Covenant, a Covenant of Grace with lost Sinners!
2. Ex parte Abrahami; Abraham and his Seed stand on the other side of the Covenant; with thee and thy seed after thee: This Seed of Abraham is to be limited according to Scripture; not in Ishmael, nor his Seed by Ketura, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called, Gen. 21.12.
Abraham had a two-fold Seed.
1. A Natural Seed by Generation, which are Abraham’s Seed by promise; Rom. 9.7, 8. Neither because they are the Seed of Abraham, are they all Children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
2. A Spiritual Seed; and these were either the Proselited Gentiles under the Law, who did believe in, and worshipped the God of Abraham; and so were by Circumcision, the then Seal of the Covenant, taken into Abraham’s Family; or else all Believers under the Gospel; who though they are not of Abraham’s Natural Posterity, are yet Abraham’s Spiritual Seed; Rom. 4.16. Therefore it is of faith, that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only that which is of the law (viz. the Jews) but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all; i. e. the Gentile Believers. So Gal. 3.29. By both which places the Apostle assureth the Gentiles, That if they are by faith transplanted into Christ, then were they Abraham’s seed, and might claim all the Promises and Priviledges of the Covenant made with Abraham, as if they had been Abraham’s Natural Seed by Generation from Isaac.
2. Here is the duration of this Covenant; an everlasting, a perpetual, or an eternal Covenant; a Covenant to last for evermore; so the Hebrew word, Gnolam properly signifies: This Covenant was not to be taken down by Moses, no nor by Christ, but was that everlasting Covenant which was ratified and sealed with the Blood of Christ, Heb. 13.20.
3. Here are the Conditions of this Covenant; on God’s part, I will be to thee a God, which carries in it all manner of Temporal, Spiritual, and Eternal Blessings; as Pardon, Sanctification, and Eternal Life, Psal. 144.14, 15.
And on Abraham’s part; he and his Seed were to be the Lord’s peculiar People, to walk before God in holiness, and sincere obedience, Gen. 18.104.22.168, 9, 10.
Doct. That Covenant of Grace which God made with Abraham, of which Circumcision then was, and Baptism now is the Seal; is a Covenant in which all Believers and their Children are comprehended.
In speaking to this Doctrine, I shall by Divine assistance do these five things.
1. Briefly shew you the nature of the Covenant of Grace.
2. Prove this Covenant made with Abraham to be a Covenant of Grace.
3. That Circumcision then was, and Baptism now is, a Seal of this Covenant.
4. All Believers are in it.
5. That all the Infants of Believing Parents are in this Covenant, and have as much a right to the now Seal of the Covenant, which is Baptism, as the Infants of the Jews had to the then Seal of the Covenant, which was Circumcision.
1. The nature of the Covenant of Grace.
The Covenant of Grace is God’s gracious Promise of delivering from a state of Sin and Death, and bringing into a state of Salvation by Jesus Christ, all that by faith fly to, and lay hold on him.
In which Covenant we may take notice,
1. The Parties in covenant; God is on the one part of the Covenant, and Believers and their Children on the other part, as has been proved.
2. That on our part Christ is the principal Head and Representative in this Covenant; for this Covenant was made with Christ as the Second Adam, and in him with all the Elect, as his Seed, Gal. 3.16. Rom. 5.15. to the end. Isa. 53.10, 11.
3. Jesus Christ is the Mediator of this Covenant, 2 Tim. 2.5.
4. Herein God promises Life and Salvation to all Believers, 1 John 5.11, 12.
5. The Condition of the Covenant on our part is Faith, Mark 16.16.
6. Herein the Holy Spirit is absolutely promised to work Faith and all other Graces in us, Prov. 1.22. Ezek. 36.27. and the first graces of Conversion is absolutely promised us without any respect to the will of man, Ezek. 36.25, 26.
This Covenant God made with Abraham was a Covenant of Grace; it must either be a Covenant of Works, or a Covenant of Grace; but a Covenant of Works it is not, for that requires personal perfect Obedience from all; and in case of sin lays the Sinner under an curse, Gal. 3.10, 12. Rom. 10.5.
It is a Covenant of Grace, as is evident.
1. This Phrase, I will be thy God, and you shall be my people, is never found but in a promise of the Covenant of Grace; as Gen. 15.1. Exod. 29.45. Jer. 22.214.171.124.32.37, 38, 39. Ezek. 11.18, 19, 20.34.22, 23, 24, 25.37.23. Zech. 8.8. 2 Cor. 6.16. Rev. 21.3.
2. It was the Covenant of Grace; for it’s an Everlasting Covenant, which is a property of the Covenant of Grace, 2 Sam. 23.5. Heb. 13.20.
3. It’s a Covenant of Grace; for we find that in all After-discoveries and Repetitions of the Covenant of Grace, the Spirit of God hath respect to this; as Deut. 29.10, 11, 12. Psal. 105.42. Acts 2.39.
4. It was a Covenant of Grace; for Circumcision, the Seal of it, was a Gospel-ordinance; Rom. 4.11. it was a Sign and Seal of the Righteousness of Faith, i. e. of Christ.
5. It’s a Covenant of Grace; for that Phrase, I will be to thee a God, contains all Gospel-blessings in it, Heb. 11.9, 10, 13, 14. Gal. 3.18.
6. Many Scriptures testify it was so; Micha 7.19, 20. Luke 1.72, 73, 74.
3. That Circumcision then was, and Baptism now is, the Seal of this Covenant: That Circumcision then was a Seal, is evident, Gen. 17.10. Rom. 4.11. Whoever would be a visible Church-member must be circumcised.
Circumcision is now abolished by Christ, Eph. 2.15. 1 Cor. 7.19
And Baptism now serves to the same purpose; whoever will be a Member of the Christian Church, must be baptised; there’s no change in the Covenant, only the Rite of admitting Members is changed, Matth. 28.18, 19. Acts 2.41. Col. 2.10, 11, 12.
4. All Believers are in this Covenant; this is abundantly evident, Rom. 4.11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Gal. 3.29. The Covenant was made with Abraham as a Believer, and with all Believers as well as him. Persons may be said to be in covenant in a twofold respect.
1. Internally and invisibly; as united to Christ, living Branches, knit to Christ by a vital union; and thus only the Elect are in covenant: The Covenant thus considered is not the ground of Baptism; if we must Baptise none but such as are vitally in Christ, then must we Baptise none; because tho we see the outward profession, we do not know who belong to the Election of Grace.
2. Persons are externally and visibly in covenant, Deut. 29.10, 11, 12, 13. Thus all who profess Christ, Tares and Wheat, wise Virgins and foolish, Matth. 25.1, 2, 3, 4. This is the ground of Baptism; we do not Baptise persons as the Elect of God, or Infants as the Infants of the Elect, but as making a visible and credible profession of Religion; so the Apostles did presently Baptise such as did profess repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; Act. 2.41. Simon Magus, in barely professing to believe in Christ, was baptised.
Thus all those who visibly profess Christianity, and are baptised in the name of Christ, and do not scandalous Sins, notoriously contradict their Profession, are to be accounted Believers in Covenant, and their Children to be baptised, Ezek. 16.20, 21.
3. That all Infants of such believing Parents are in the Covenant of Grace, and have as much a right to Baptism, the now Seal of the Covenant, as the Infants of the Jews had to Circumcision, the then Seal of the Covenant.
This is the principal thing designed from this Text.
There are, you know, a sort of restless people amongst us, who are perpetually letting fly, and with great indignation spurning at Infant Baptism; telling you, your Infants have no right to the Seal of the Covenant, and thereby tempt you to be cruel to the Children of your own Bowels, setting them among Pagans and Infidels.
Therefore I hope it will be an acceptable service to plead the Cause of your poor Infants, who cannot yet speak a word for themselves; to assert and prove their right to the Covenant, and the initiating Seal thereof, which is Baptism. I hope to find very few amongst you who will join with the Enemy of Infants, but rather put to a helping hand to restore them those Priviledges God allows them. In speaking to this, I shall
1. Lay down some Conclusions to clear the Doctrine of Infant Baptism.
2. Prove the Doctrine by several Arguments.
3. Shew the dangerous Consequence of denying Infant Baptism.
4. Answer Objections.
5. Prove that Dipping over head in Baptising in these cold Countreys, is no Ordinance of God, but a grievous Sin.
Chapter I. Containing five Introductory Considerations, very needful for the right understanding the Controversy of Infant Baptism.
1. Consider, that a Doctrine or Practice may be proved to be of God two ways.
1. By the express words of Scripture; as the Resurrection of the dead may be proved from such a Text as cannot be denied by any that own the Scripture to be God’s Word; as John 5.28. All that are in the grave shall come forth.
2. Or from Evident Consequences drawn from Scripture; then have we the mind of Christ, when we have the right meaning of Scripture; thus Christ proves the Resurrection to the Sadduces, Luke 20.37, 38. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Now this Scripture doth not prove the Resurrection in direct terms, but remotely, and by consequence. How little satisfaction would this Text have given our Modern Anabaptists, if they had been present at the Dispute between Christ and the Sadduces; would they not have reprov’d Christ for his Impertinence? We will not believe the dead will rise, unless we have a plain Text; would not these men have reported abroad that Christ could could not prove the Resurrection?
Thus they deal with us at this day; We challenge you, say they, to prove Infant Baptism to be God’s Ordinance; bring us a plain Text, and we will believe.
Now if we prove Infant Baptism as plainly as Christ proved the Resurrection, then it is certainly God’s Ordinance; and we are bound to own it.
Most we believe nothing but what we have totidem verbis, in just so many words in Scripture? then how shall we prove the first day of the Week to be the Christian Sabbath? That a Woman may come to the Lord’s Table? That a Christian may be a Magistrate?
2. Observe, That a mind prepossessed with Error and Prejudice, that is, not seeking Truth, but only something to defend their present Embraced Opinions, will not be satisfied, let the Text be never so clear, or the Argument never so firmly built upon Scripture; but will still be inventing some shift or other to ward off the force of any Text or Argument.
This is evident in the Example of the Sadduces beforementioned; we find indeed Christ silenced them, but we do not find so much as one of them convinced, and brought off to a sound mind.
Men are generally so fond of their Errors, that when they are beaten out of one hold, they fly to another.
3. Those Doctrines which were clearly revealed, and fully confirmed in the Old Testament, though little or nothing be said of them in the New Testament, and were never repealed, are yet to be owned, received and believed, as if much had been said of them in the New Testament; the whole Scripture is God’s Word, and what need of proving the same thing twice, unless the Authority of the Old Testament were questioned? this is evident in the lawfulness of a Christian Magistracy, in an Oath before a Magistrate, and making war upon a just occasion: There is so little said of these things in the New Testament, many of the Anabaptists have denied them; yet these being fully setled and confirmed by God in the Old Testament, are to be owned, though little be said of them in the New.
Now this is the case of Infant Baptism.
The Question is not by what Sign, but at what Age, persons are to be admitted into the visible Church?
Now this was fully determined in the Old Testament, That Infants at eight days old were to be admitted Members of the Visible Church; and suppose little be said of it in the New Testament, it is because there was no need of it; this truth having been once setled in the Old Testament, and never repealed.
4. Those Doctrines which were once throughly setled in the Old Testament, and never called in question by any in the New, there was no occasion given to speak of them again.
We find, that what was but darkly hinted in the Old Testament, and much questioned in the New, is fully cleared; and much is said of it, as that glorious Doctrine of Justification by the imputation of the Righteousness of Christ: This was very darkly hinted in the Old Testament, and very much opposed by Legal Preachers in the New Testament, therefore much is said in the New Testament to clear it.
But Infants right to the Covenant, or to Church-membership, there was much said of it in the Old Testament, and it was neve• denied or called in question by any in the Apostles days; they were setled, and had had peaceable possession of their Priviledges ever since Abraham’s time.
Had any in the Apostles days scrupled in Infants Right, very much would have been said of it; for the Jews, who tenaciously adhered to their old Priviledges, would never so silently have suffered their Children to be cast out of covenant, without taking notice of it.
A Doctrine may be very clear, the Scriptures brought to prove, and the Argument thence deduced clear and convincing; and yet it may remain dark to one that is uncapable of discerning it. An Object may be very obvious, and yet not well discerned, by reason the Eye is clouded. How plain are the Doctrines of the Trinity; the Divine Nature of Christ; Justification by Imputed Righteousness, &c. and yet many are so blind as not to see these things?
So the matter in debate, viz. That the Infants of believing Parents have a right to Baptism, is as clear to me as the other, yet many will not see it. The generality of Christians are but Babes in knowledge, have but dark and confused apprehensions of the clearest Truths in Religion, and must needs be much more at a loss in what hath not that clearness and perspicuity in it.
Chapter II Containing the First Argument for Infant Baptism.
If God doth own the Infant Seed of Believers as his, then they ought to receive the Token of his so owning of them.
But God doth own the Infant Seed of Believers as his, therefore they ought to receive the Token of his so owning of them, which is Baptism.
Now that God doth own the Infant Seed of Believers as his, I prove by these Four Arguments.
1. If the Children of believing Parents are God’s Children, their Sons and Daughters his Sons and Daughters, then God owns them.
But the Children of believing Parents are God’s Children, as is evident, Ezek. 16.20, 21. Moreover, thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast born unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed to be devoured: Thou hast slain my children and delivered them to pass through the fire for them. These Idolatrous Israelites were at this time much degenerated, but yet God had not given them a bill of Divorce, the Covenant was not dissolved; and therefore these Children born within the Covenant, were God’s Children; and his, not merely by right of Creation, so all are his but by right of Covenant. There was little reason to believe the Parents were gracious; but however, being visibly in covenant, God claims their Children as his own, as belonging to his Church and Family by a Covenant-Right.
2. If the Children of such Parents, who are one or both of them Believers, are federally holy, then God owns them: but the former is true, 1 Cor: 7.14. therefore the latter, else were your children unclean; but now are they holy; the question was, Whether when the Husband was a Believer, and the Wife an Unbeliever; or the Wife a Believer, and the Husband a Pagan, they might yet continue to live with the Unbeliever:
To this the Apostle answers, they might, and gives this reason for it, viz. The unbeliever is sanctified by the believer: Sanctified in Scripture usually signifies either
1. Savingly sanctified by Grace and Spiritual Life infused into the Soul by the Spirit of God: or,
2. Setting Persons apart for some holy Use or Office; as the Priests, Sabbath, Tabernacle, and all the Utensils thereof, and all the People of Israel who were circumcised; but the unbelieving Husband or Wise here were sanctified in neither of these respects; therefore it’s otherwise to be understood. Candidatus est fidei, say some, they are in a fair way of being won over to the Faith of Christ, or prepared by God for such a use; so sanctified signifies in Isa. 13.3. but the meaning is plainly this: That in regard that all the Faithful are Heirs of the Covenant of Grace, Gen. 17.1. I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. Acts 2.39. The promise is to you, and to your children: This Promise being to believing Parents, and their Infants, this Covenant the unbelieving Party cannot undo by his or her unbelief; hence their Children were holy.
1. Not merely legitimate; for so they would have been, had both the Parents been Pagans; to say as the Anabaptists do, they are not Bastards; is, saith Doctor Featly, a Bastard Exposition.
2. Nor can it be meant, that they are saved, justified and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, (though if that were the sense, it would not contradict but confirm the Doctrine of Infant Baptism; for whoever hath Justification and Sanctification, the thing signified by Baptism, hath undoubtedly a right to the Sign and Seal.
3. Then by holy must unavoidably be meant federally holy; i. e. within the Covenant; as the Infants of the Jews were a holy Seed, and had a right to Circumcision; so the Infants of Christian Parents, though but one of them a Believer, had a federal holiness and a right to be baptised, as if both the Parents had been Believers.
4. If the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to little Children, then Christ owns them; but the Kingdom of Heaven doth belong to them, Matth. 19.13, 14. Then were there brought little children unto him, 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. Here Christ declares the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. By the Kingdom of Heaven is meant, either the Kingdom of Glory in the next World, or the Kingdom of Grace here; the latter is most probable, for so the Church is called, Matth. 22.1, 2.
Now be it the one, or the other, its evident Christ owned them as his.
5. If the promise of the Covenant of Grace may be made to the Infant Seed of Believers, then Christ owneth them; but the promise of the Covenant of Grace is to the Infant Seed of Believers, as well as to their believing Parents; Gen. 17.7. I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee. And this Promise the Apostle recites as belonging to all Believers, Acts 2.39. The promise is to you, and to your children.
Now from all it’s abundantly evident, that God doth own the Children of believing Parents as his: Therefore they ought to receive the Token of his so owning them, which is Baptism. The conclusion is unavoidably; If it be evident God owns a Person, that Person ought to be Baptised; let him shew, that can, any reason why a Person so owned by God should not be admitted into the Church by Baptism.
Chapter III. Containing the Second Argument for Infant Baptism.
If the Infants of believing Parents ought to be received and admitted visible Church-members, then such Infants ought to be Baptised; but the Infants of believing Parents ought to be received and admitted visible Church-members, therefore they ought to be Baptised.
Now that such Infants ought to be received into the visible Church as visible Church-members, I prove by these Arguments.
Argument 1. If by the merciful Gift and Appointment of God, not yet repealed, some Infants were once to be admitted Members of the visible Church by vertue of the Covenant of Grace; then ’tis certain some Infants are still to be so admitted: but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Two things must here be done to shew,
1. That some Infants were once admitted Members of the visible Church.
2. That this Church-membership was never repealed.
1. Some Infants were once so admitted by vertue of the Covenant of Grace. If any deny this, thus it is proved.
1. Infants were part of them that entered into covenant with the Lord God, and into his Oath, that he might take them to be a peculiar People to himself; Deut 29.10 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders with your officers, with all the men of Israel. 11. Your little ones, your wives, &c. 12. That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day. 13. That he establish thee to day for a people unto himself; and that be may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee; and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14. Neither with you only do I make this covenant, and this oath; but v. 15. with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord your God; but with him that is not here with us this day.
This was not a new Covenant, but a renewing the Covenant made with Abraham, as v. 13. Into this Covenant their little ones present were taken, and their little ones yet unborn.
2. Infants were engaged to God by the Seal of the Covenant, which was Circumcision, Gen. 17.10. Circumcision was not a meer politick Rite, as some Frantick Anabaptists have dreamed; but a Seal of the Covenant of Grace, Rom. 4.11. He received the Sign of Circumcision as a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith: That is, Circumcision was 1. a Sign; of what? of the Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit of Christ; of the mortifying and killing the old man; of the sad effects of Sin, both original and actual; and the way of recovery by Jesus Christ. 2. It’s a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith; that is, of the Righteousness of Christ imputed to the Believer, and received by faith; this is a Periphrasis of the Covenant of Grace, wherein righteousness is promised, and made over to us in a way of believing.
3. Infants were Baptised to Moses in the Cloud, and in the Sea, 1 Cor. 10.1, 2, 3. And Stephen calls that Assembly, whereof they were Members, the Church in the Wilderness.
From hence it is evident beyond rational contradiction, that Infants were sometimes taken into the visible Church, as visible Church-members, by vertue of the Covenant of Grace.
Secondly, That this Infant Church-membership was never repealed.
For if Infant Church-membership be repealed, then that repeal must be either in Mercy or Judgment; but it was in neither, therefore it was never repealed.
1. Infant Church-membership was never repealed in Judgment; for God never revokes his Covenant to any People, till first that People break covenant with him, which Infants never did; therefore being once taken into covenant, ’tis certain God did never cast them out.
Now it was a mercy to have Infants taken into covenant, Deut. 29.10, 11, 12. therefore if this Privilege be revok’d, it must be in Judgment; for as it is a great Mercy to be in the visible Church, so ’tis a sore Judgment to be out of it, to be cast out of covenant.
Now if Infant Church-membership be repeal’d, then the Infants of Believers under the Gospel are in a much worse condition than before Christ’s Incarnation; certainly Christ did not come to make our Children miserable, or to put them into a worse condition than they were in before; this would make Christ a Destroyer, who is the only Saviour.
But certainly the Church is now in a much better condition, and her Privileges more ample and larger than they were before; she hath lost none of her Privileges, but gained many more, Heb. 8.6. A more excellent ministry, better promises, Rom. 5.15, 16, 17. ‘Tis certain Infants are not thrown out of covenant, for that would much darken the Grace of God received in the Gospel.
2. Nor is Infant Church-membership repeal’d in Mercy; for it can be no Mercy to take away a Mercy, unless it means to give a greater Mercy in the room of it. Now let the Anabaptists shew what greater Mercy God hath given in the room of Infant Church-membership; there is none: Therefore it was never repealed.
If that Covenant, by vertue whereof Infants were received into the visible Church, was the Covenant of Grace, then ’tis certain it was never repeal’d.
But that Covenant, by vertue whereof they were taken in, was the Covenant of Grace, therefore it was never repealed. But that Covenant, by vertue whereof they were taken into the visible Church, was the Covenant of Grace, as is most evident, Deut. 29.10, 11, 12. And so the Covenant made with Abraham, whereof Circumcision was a Seal, Gen. 17.7, 10. as the Apostle clearly proves, Rom. 4.11. Now the Covenant of Grace is an everlasting Covenant, 2 Sam. 23.5. never was, nor ever will be repeal’d.
Infant Church-membership was no Ceremony, neither was it any part of the Ceremonial Law; if any say it was, let them shew what it typified under the Gospel.
If it were a Ceremony, then the Materials of the Church would be a Ceremony, and so the Church it self, which would be very absurb to affirm.
Neither was it part of the Moral Law, the Covenant of Works, whatever pains some of the opposite Persuasion have taken to prove it; for the Covenant of Works knows no Mercy; neither was it any part of the Judicial Law, for Church-membership was not a piece of meer Policy; the Church is one thing, and the Commonwealth another.
3. If there be no mention or record of the Repeal of Infant Church-membership in any part of the New Testament, then it is most certain it was never repealed. But there is no record of any such Repeal in any part of the New Testament, therefore it was never repealed; if any say it was, let them shew where that Repeal is recorded. ‘Tis true Circumcision is ceased, because it was a Ceremonial Type; but Infant Church-membership being no Type or Ceremony, is not ceased.
Argument 2. If an Infant was Head of the visible Church, then an Infant may be a Member of the visible Church. But an Infant was Head of the visible Church; for who will deny, but that Jesus Christ was Head of the visible Church in his infancy? what honour was done to Christ in his infancy both by Angels and men? Hence it appears,
1. That the Nonage of Infants doth not make them uncapable of being Church-members, supposing God’s will.
2. It shews, that it is the will of God that it should be so; because Christ passed through each Age to sanctify it to us. Thus Irenaeus, who lived about an hundred and fifty years after Christ, these are his words; Ideo per omnem venit etatem, & infantibus Infans factus, &c. Therefore Christ passed through every Age; for Infants he was made an Infant, sanctifying Infants; in little Children, being a little Child, sanctifying them that have that very Age; here’s clear proof from Antiquity of Infant Church-membership.
Argument 3. If Infants are federally holy, then they have a right to visible Church-membership; but Infants are federally holy, 1 Cor. 7.14. as we have before shewed, and all sound Interpreters tell us.
Argument 4. If Infants belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, then they belong to, and are Members of the visible Church; but Infants do belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, therefore they belong to the visible Church. Now some Infants do belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, Matth. 19.14. Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. By the Kingdom of Heaven here, must needs be meant, either the Kingdom of Grace, that is, the Gospel-Church here; and then the meaning is, That the Gospel Church, which is Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, is made up of Infants, as well as adult persons; and this is most likely to be the meaning: And so the thing in question is clearly proved. Or else by the Kingdom of Heaven must be meant the Kingdom of Glory: That is, Children shall go to Heaven as well as grown Persons. If so, still the consequence is clear; if Infants are Members of the invisible Church, then have they an undoubted right to be Members of the visible Church.
I grant a Person may be a Member of the invisible Church, and yet no Member of the Visible: Yet whoever is a Member of the invisible Church, hath a right to visible Church-membership.
Argument 5. If Infants are to be received in Christ’s name, then they do undoubtedly belong to Christ’s Church: But we are commanded to receive Infants in Christ’s name, Mark 9.36, 37. —He that receiveth one such child in my name, receiveth me, &c. Doth Christ take them into his Arms, and would he have them cast out of his Church? Are we to receive them in Christ’s name, and do they not belong to Christ, nor to his Church? See Mark 10.13, 14, 15. Did Christ say all this to deceive us? certainly they are visible Members of the visible Church.
Now if this be so, that some Infants were sometimes admitted by God’s own appointment, and that by vertue of the Covenant of Grace, visible Church-members;
Then undoubtedly they ought to be Baptised; for Baptism is the only Rite that Jesus Christ, who is Head of the Church, hath appointed for the admitting Members into his Church, Matth. 28.18, 19. All that are, or will be Christ’s Disciples, must be Baptised in his name; if any know any other, let them shew it.
Now these two Arguments are abundantly sufficient to prove the Infants right to Baptism, and it is needless to name any other: But yet because some think a thing never proved, unless much be said, and many Arguments be brought; I shall therefore add some other Arguments; though I shall not dwell, nor enlarge on them, because the right understanding of these already mentioned, will give light to what remains.
Chapter IV. Containing the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Arguments for Infant Baptism.
If any Infants are Christ’s Disciples, then those Infants ought to receive the Badg of a Disciple, which is Baptism; But some Infants are Disciples, Act. 15.10. Why lay you a yoke upon the necks of the disciples. Now this Yoke was Circumcision, as v. 1. and v. 5. There were some that would impose Circumcision on the Disciples of Christ. Now this must needs be understood of Infants as well as others, because that Circumcision was most commonly administred to Infants; Therefore if Infants are not only meant, they are chiefly intended; now that all Disciples of Christ ought to be Baptised; there is a plain command for it; and so a command for Infant Baptism, Matth. 28.19. Go therefore teach all nations; but in the Greek it is,, Go disciple all nations, Baptising them; Infants are Disciples, as before, therefore ought to be Baptised.
If it hath been the constant custom of the Church of Christ all along from the Apostles days to Baptise Infants, none never denying It till some hundreds of years after; Then we may rationally conclude it was the practice of the Apostles to Baptise Infants; but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Now that Infant Baptism was practised in the Primitive Times by the whole Universal Catholick Church, is evident.
Irenaeus, who had seen Policarpus, St. John’s Disciple, and therefore lived very near the Apostles days, saith, Christ came to save and sanctify all sorts; Qui per eum venascuntur in Deum Infantes, &c. All that are born to God, Infants, little ones, and Children— Born to God in the Ecclesiastical Phrase, is but the same with Infant Baptism.
Tertullian, who lived about the Year of Redemption 200. moved some Scruples about Baptism, yet never denied the lawfulness of it: And in case that the Infant was in danger of death, did vehemently urge it.
Origen, who lived but little after him, speaks again and again of the Baptising little Children, and saith, They received it by Tradition from the Apostles.
About 150 years after the death of St. John, there was one Fidus, who raised a doubt, Whether Infants might be Baptised before they were eight days old, because Circumcision was not to be administred till then. Therefore Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and 66 more, met to consider this Case; and agreed, That Infants, recens nati, new born, might be Baptised.
And thus we might cite Testimonies of Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustin, and many others, that it was the constant custom of the Church to Baptise Infants.
Which Custom is still continued in all the Churches of Christ all the world over; as appears in all the Confessions of all the Protestant Churches: As Helvetia, Bohemia, Belgia, Auspurg, Saxony, Wittenberg, Swedeland, France and Peidmont; and Histories tell us ’tis practised by the Russians, Muscovites, and all the Christians in India, Syria, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Palastine; and in every part of the world where there be any Christian Churches planted.
The Fifth Argument for Infant Baptism is this:
If the Infants of believing Parents be in the Covenant of Grace, and the Promise of the Covenant do belong to them; then they may, and ought to be Baptised.
But such Infants are in covenant, and the Promise of the Covenant doth belong to them, therefore they ought to be Baptised.
That they are in covenant as well as their Parents, is undeniably evident from the tenure of that Covenant made with Abraham, which was a Gospel-covenant, Gen. 17.7 as we have abundantly proved; and that the Promise of the Covenant is to them, is as evident, Act. 2.39. The promise is to you, and to your children; he means the Promise of God to Abraham; the Promise of Salvation by Christ, which was promised both to Jews and Gentiles; but to the Jews in the first place: Or suppose the Apostle hath respect unto Jer. 31.33, 34. or to Joel 2.28. it alters not the case, for those were all branches of the Covenant of Grace, and Explications of what was virtually contained in that first Promise to Abraham, Gen. 17.7.
The Sixth Argument for Infant Baptism is this:
If the Infants of one or both of the believing Parents be federally holy, then they ought to be Baptised; but the former is true, therefore the latter, 1 Cor. 7.14. By the holiness of Children there, is not meant Legitimacy; i.e. not Bastards; so they would have been, if both the Parents had been Pagans.
Nor is it meant that they are savingly sanctified, but federally holy; that is, in the Covenant of Grace; and so had an undeniable right to the Seal of the Covenant, which is Baptism.
The Seventh Argument for Infant-Baptism is this:
If the Kingdom of Heaven belong to Infants, then they ought to be Baptised; but the Kingdom of Heaven doth belong to some Infants, Matth. 19.14. Suffer little children to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
1. Suppose by the Kingdom of Heaven, is meant the Kingdom of Glory; little Children when they die shall go to Heaven; this sense the Anabaptists cannot disallow; for they say, all Children dying in infancy, are saved; the Infants of Turks, Pagans, Infidels, Papists, all sorts: Then if they are Heirs of Glory, this must be by vertue of their interest in, and union with Christ; for there’s no other way to Heaven, but by Jesus Christ, John 14.6. I am the way, the truth, and the life; no coming unto the father but by me: There’s no Name under Heaven, whereby we can be saved, but only Jesus Christ. Now if Infants have a right to Glory by vertue of their union with, and interest in Christ, then have they a right to be Baptised; if they have a right to Heaven by Christ, then to receive the Badge of a Disciple of Christ, which is Baptism; no person can have any plea for Heaven, that had not a right to be Baptised, Acts 2.47. The Lord added to the Church such as should be saved. This adding to the Church was by Baptism, v. 41. And let them shew that can, what right those have to Heaven, that are not, or at least have not a right to be so added to the visible Church.
2. But by the Kingdom of Heaven is oft understood the Gospel-Church: So Mat. 126.96.36.199.8.20, 21.11.12 and in most of our Saviour’s Parables: And this is most likely to be the meaning of this Text, of such is the kingdom of heaven; that is, the Gospel-Church takes Infants as well as adult persons to be visible Members in it: And then the consequence is unavoidable, The visible Church and Kingdom of Christ is made up of Infants as well as adult persons; Baptism is the Door into the visible Church, therefore they must needs be Baptised.
The Eighth Argument for Infant Baptism is this:
If Infants are to be received in the name of Christ, they are to be Baptised in the name of Christ; but Infants are to be received in the name of Christ, Mark 9.36. Whoso receiveth one such child in my name, receiveth me; to receive them in the name of Christ, is to receive them as the Disciples of Christ; or, because they belong to Christ: And if they ought to be thus received in Christ’s Name, as the Friends and Disciples of Christ, then they ought to receive the Badge of a Disciple, to have the name of Christ named over them in Baptism.
If in our Saviour’s time the Head and Master of a Family was never Baptised, but his whole Family was Baptised with him, then Children and Infants ought to be Baptised, for they are a considerable part of Families.
But we never read of any Head or Master of a Family Baptised, but his or their whole Houshold were Baptised with them; as is evident in Cornelius, Acts 10. and Lydia, and the Jailer, Acts 16. So 1 Cor. 1.14. &c.
Object. But there’s no mention of any Infants in any of these Families.
Answ. No more is there of any of riper years: And it’s much more likely that there was Infants in those Families, than otherwise; there is no mention in Scripture of Children of believing Parents Baptised at adult age.
I shall multiply no more Arguments; by these the unprejudiced Reader will be abundantly satisfied, that Infant-Baptism is God’s Ordinance.
Chapter V. Shewing that the Doctrine of the Anabaptists, in excluding Infants from Baptism, and shutting them out of the visible Church, makes all Infants to be of the visible Kingdom of Satan, and so leaves us no well-grounded hope of the salvation of any dying in infancy; and is therefore to be justly abhorred as false Doctrine.
Argum. 1. THat Doctrine that makes all Infants to be of the visible Kingdom of the Devil, is false Doctrine.
But to deny Infants Baptism, is to deny them to be of the visible Church of Christ; and if they are not visibly in the Church of Christ, they are visibly out of it, and of the Kingdom of the Devil; there is no third or middle state on Earth between the visible Kingdom of Christ, which is his Church, and the Kingdom of the Devil; and all men and women, and Infants too, are visible Members of the one or the other. If any know of any middle state, let them show it; Christ and Satan share the whole world between them; and if Infants are not visibly in the Kingdom of Christ, they are visibly in the Kingdom of the Devil; the consequence is unavoidable: what barbarous usage is this to our poor Infants! Christ commands us to bring them to him, and tells us, of such is the kingdom of God; and the Anabaptists perversely thrust them away from Christ, and from the Church of Christ, set them among Pagans and Infidels, who are of the Visible Kingdom of the Devil.
Argument 2. That Doctrine that leaves us no well-grounded hope of the Salvation of any Infants dying in Infancy, is certainly false Doctrine: But the Anabaptists in denying Infant Baptism to the Seed of Believers, leave us no well-grounded hope of the Salvation of any such dying in Infancy.
I do not say, That the Anabaptists do positively assert the Damnation of all Infants dying in Infancy, for they do the direct contrary, assert the certain Salvation of all Infants, even Turks, Pagans, and Jews.
But I say, they leave us no well-grounded hope of the Salvation of any such; for if Infants ought not to be Baptised, then are they out of the Visible Church; all who belong to the Visible Church, have a right to Baptism; therefore in denying Infants Baptism, they throw them out of the Visible Church: And let him shew, that can tell how, what grounds there are to hope, or expect, the Salvation of any out of the Visible Church.
I grant a person may want the engaging Sign, and yet have a right to Church-membership, yea, to Salvation; so an Elect Infant dying unBaptised is saved; though it have not the Sign, yet it had a right to it.
Now without a promise we can neither believe nor hope, Rom. 15.4, 13. Eph. 1.18. Eph. 4.4. Col. 1.5, 23, 27. Heb. 6.18, 19.
Again, such as God intends to save, he adds to the Church, Acts 2.47. ’tis the Visible Church there spoken of; and such who are not so added, or have not a right to be so added, let them shew, that can, what ground there is to hope for their Salvation. And thus all well-grounded hope of the Salvation of any Infant dying in Infancy, is taken away by the Anabaptists.
For thus they argue from Mat. 28.18, 19. None but those who are Taught, are Disciples; Infants cannot be Taught, therefore are not Disciples; and that this is the only way to make Church-members; and may we not on the same ground say, they cannot be saved because they cannot believe? Mark 16.16. He that believes not, shall be damned. I appeal to all unbiassed persons, whether there is not on their own bottom, the same reason to say, they are uncapable of Salvation, as of Baptism; but there is great reason to believe and hope for the Salvation of some Infants; for as we have shewed they are in the Covenant of Grace, Gen. 17.7. Acts 2.39. Deut. 29.10, 11, 12, 13. they are to be joined in standing Church-ordinances, 2 Chron. 20.13. Joel 2.16. From all which, and much more might be said, it’s evident some Infants are Saved, though the Anabaptists by their erroneous Doctrine take away all well-grounded hope of the Salvation of any Infants dying in Infancy.
Chapter VI. Objections of Anabaptists Answered.
Obj. 1. If it be God’s Will Infants should be Baptised, Why is there no Command for it, as there was for their Circumcision?
1. The general Command includes Children, therefore there was no need of any particular mentioning of them.
2. The promise is as express to Children, as to Parents, Acts 2.39. The promise is to you and to your Children.
3. It had been absurd to have given a new Command for Children, seeing they were in the actual possession of their Priviledg, and had been so ever since Abraham’s time, none had ever questioned their right and title to the Covenant. There was no Anabaptists in the Apostles days, nor of many hundred years after.
Obj. 2. But that Covenant, Gen. 17.7. was a Covenant of Works.
Indeed some weak Anabaptists have said so.
But it was not a Covenant of Works, for that knows no Mercy to fallen Sinners; but there is Mercy in that Covenant, that God will be a God to his People, and to their Seed: It was a Covenant of Grace, and that the Apostle proves, Rom. 4.11. as hath been abundantly proved before.
Obj. 3. Though Infants were then Church-members, it doth not follow they are so now; the Church is now built on another foundation. Thus a Preacher among the Anabaptists lately urged to me.
Ans. 1. If this be true, then the Church of Christ under the Old Testament, had a different foundation from the Church now under the New Testament: The Foundation is now Jesus Christ; but what was it then? What will not Proud and Ignorant men say to maintain an Errour!
2. The Foundation of the Church then was Christ, and the Covenant of Grace was the same then as now; only then was but the dawning of the day, the darker appearances of the Son of Righteousness; but now the Sun shines in his full strength. Heb. 10.1. Rom. 4.3, 11.
Obj. 4. But though Infants were then Visible Church-members, and had a right to the Sign of the Covenant, God has now cast off the Jews, and so Infant Church-membership is ceased.
Ans. The Apostle assures us, That Church-membership, and all other Priviledges, are as sure and ample now to the Believing Gentiles, as they were before to the Jews, Rom. 11.17. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou being a wild Olive tree, wert grafted in amongst them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the Olive tree.
Obj. 5. But Circumcision is abolished, therefore Infant Church-membership.
Ans. Circumcision and Infant Church-membership, were two things; Circumcision was but the Rite of admitting Visible Members; the Rite is changed, but not Church-membership; Baptism comes in the room of Circumcision, Col. 2.10, 11, 12.
Obj. 6. Infants are not capable of the ends of Baptism, for it’s an engaging Sign, and signifies the washing away sin, both guilt and stain; Infants being uncapable of the use of Reason, must be so of Baptism.
Ans. Baptism hath more ends than one:
1. It’s Christ’s listing Sign for admitting Soldiers into his Service, or Disciples into his School, or Subjects into his Kingdom; and this is what Infants are capable of.
2. It’s an engaging Sign, wherein they are by Parents, or other, engaged to God, and this they are capable of also.
3. The inward Grace thereby signified, as Pardon, Justification, Sanctification, Adoption, these Infants are capable of, otherwise they could not be Saved, and if these are not, the Sacrament may be without them.
4. A lease for years, with a Covenant to a Child that understands it not, may be of great use: So Baptism, though at present the Child understands nothing of it, yet it may be, and to converted Believers is of great use afterwards, and Godly Parents at present have the comfort: For God herein hath provided for the comfort of Parents.
5. A Person may be Baptised that is not capable of all the ends of Baptism; one end of Baptism is to wash away Sin, &c. this was an end Jesus Christ was not capable of, and yet he was Baptised.
6. Those Infants Christ took into his Arms and Blessed, and those Circumcised at Eight days old, knew no more of the benefits they received, than ours do now; they were no more capable of Faith and Repentance, than ours are; and yet they entered into the Covenant of Grace, Rom. 4.11.
Obj. 7. But we have no express Command in the New Testament to Baptise Infants.
Ans. I have shewn there needed none; their Priviledg had been setled many Ages before, and never questioned by any, nor repealed by Christ; their former Right continuing firm, Acts 2.39. the general Command includes them.
Obj. 8. But if they had a Right, we might expect to find some Examples of their Baptising.
Ans. ‘Tis manifest that Believers housholds were Baptised with them, Acts 10. Acts 16.15, 16, 33. and if no Infants are mentioned, so neither any Children of Believing Parents Baptised at Age; and we have much more reason to believe there were Infants in all, or some of those Families, than any have to think there was none.
Obj. 9. The Baptism of Believers is come in the room of Infant Church-membership.
Ans. it hath been abundantly proved, that Infant Church-membership was no Ceremony, or Type; if any say it was, let them prove it: Therefore as it was never abolished, nor Infants never unchurched, nothing can be said to come in the room of it.
2. That Baptising Adult Believers should exclude Infants, is as if the receiving and Circumcising the Gentile Proselytes into the Church of Israel, had been a means to have unchurched their Infants, which for any to affirm, would be extremely ridiculous.
Obj. 10. How can Infants covenant with God, or be engaged by this Sign? or where doth God engage Parents to promise any thing for their Children?
Answ. That Parents may, and ought to covenant for their Children, plainly appears,
1: From Nature, Lex naturae est, Lex Dei; may not Parents take a Lease for their Children? who buyeth Lands, and not for himself and Heirs? are not Children bound by those Ties? and then much more to God.
2. From Scripture, Deut. 29.10, 11, 12, 13. here you may see the Parents Covenant, not only for their Children then present, but unborn, and they were by Circumcision to enter them into Covenant, so Deut. 26.17, 18. and hath the Gospel taken away the Parent’s Right in his Child?
Obj. We promise what we cannot perform.
Ans. We promise to educate this Child for God, to instruct him in Gospel truths; leaving the renovation and sanctification of the Heart to God, who works when, on whom, and by what means he pleaseth.
May not a man covenant for himself and Heirs to pay a yearly Rent? and what follows in case it be not paid, but forfeiture of his Lease, and that from the person that should have paid it?
Obj. 11. If Infants must be Baptised, why may they not as well receive the Lord’s Supper?
1. If there were that Scripture-proof to administer the Lord’s Supper to Infants, as there is for Baptising them, we would do it, when they have as clearly proved the one, as we have the other.
2. Baptism is the initiating Seal of entering into the Church, which Infants being Disciples of Christ, are capable of; the Lord’s Supper is the confirming Seal to be administred only to grown Christians; therefore Infants have a right to the one, but not to the other.
Obj. 12. If Infants ought to be Baptised, why is it left so dark in the New Testament?
Ans. 1. It’s not dark, which admits of such clear proof as you see this doth.
2. That all Christ’s Disciples ought to be Baptised, is not dark, Matth. 28.19. Infants are Disciples; therefore ’tis plain they ought to be Baptised.
Obj. 13. The Baptising persons before they know, occasions much gross Ignorance.
Ans. 1. Christ is the occasion of the ruin and damnation of thousands, for he was set for the fall, as well as the rising of many in Israel, Luke 2.3, 4. but had it been better the world had had no Christ?
2. The Gospel is the savour of death to many; had it been better then we had had no Gospel? What will not the wicked take hurt by?
3. Let them shew what in Baptism tends to breed Ignorance; Is the entring a Boy’s name in the School the way to breed him in ignorance? if a Child’s name be put into a Lease, is this like to hurt him? what harm is it to be in Christ’s Family from our youth?
Nay, the contrary is the way to breed Ignorance and Prophaneness; for how many sad Examples have we among the Anabaptists, who refusing to dedicate their Infants to Christ, they are ignorantly and bruitishly brought up, live and die like Pagans.
Thus it hath been proved abundantly, that Infant Baptism is God’s Ordinance; that the Infant Seed of Believers were once taken into the Church as visible Church-members; that Christ owns them, &c. therefore they ought to be Baptised; that it’s a false and dangerous Doctrine to deny them Church-membership and Baptism.
Enough hath been said for the satisfaction of those who are seeking Truth; such who wilfully shut their Eyes, it’s in vain to set light before them, because seeing they see, but do not understand; and hearing they hear, but do not perceive.
There’s one thing more remaining, viz. The right manner of Baptising; that shall next be dispatched.
Chapter. VII. Shewing that Washing, Pouring, or otherwise applying Water to the Body, is the right way of Baptising; and not Dipping, as now used by the Anabaptists.
When the Anabaptists speak of Baptising, as ’tis now done generally by all the Reformed Churches, they do it with much scorn and contempt, and can scarcely do it in any other terms, than Sprinkling; They say we may as well sprinkle a Lamb, nay a Dog, or a Cat, as an Infant; what Christian Ear doth not abhor such Language!
Our Protestant Divines usually define Baptism thus; it is a washing in, or of water, or an applying water to the Baptised: Or by sprinkling the Baptised in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. None, say the Anabaptists, are rightly Baptised, but such as are dipped or plunged over head in the water.
To this I answer three things.
1. That which is a plain breach of the Sixth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill, is no Ordinance of God, but a most heinous Sin; but dipping over-head in cold water in these cold Countreys, is a plain breach of the Sixth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill; which forbids the taking away of our own Life, or the Life of our Neighbour unjustly, or any thing that tends thereunto: Now dipping in cold water tends to the taking away Life, as many have found by experience, who have contracted such Distempers in dipping as have hastened their Deaths: Therefore the so doing is a great Sin.
2. The Greek word, though it be derived from, to dip or plunge, yet it’s taken for any kind of washing or cleansing, where there is no dipping, Mat. 3.11. Mark 7.4. and it sometimes signifies sprinkling, yea to Baptise by sprinkling, 1 Cor. 10.2. They were all Baptised unto Moses by the cloud in the sea; all the world knows a Cloud doth but sprinkle, Heb. 9.10. divers Washings or Baptisms, ’tis evident the Apostle means the sprinkling of Blood, Exod. 29.20, 21. and the Law of cleansing the Leper, Lev. 14.4, to 9.
3. Washing, sprinkling, or pouring water upon the Body , aptly represents the thing signified, and the Sign need not exceed the thing signified. The washing away Sin by the Blood of Christ is the thing signified in Baptism, and this the Holy Ghost delights to express by washing, sprinkling, or pouring out water, Psal. 51.7. Ezek. 36.25. Zec. 12.10. 1 Cor. 6.11. Tit. 3.5. 1 Pet. 1.2. Heb. 9. and 12.24.
Quest. But did not the Apostles Baptise by dipping? did not Philip and the Eunuch go down into the water?
Ans. 1. It was never yet proved that persons were then dipped. As for Philip’s Baptism, Act. 8.38. the particular manner is not exprest, neither can it be collected; neither doth the Greek Preposition, necessarily signify going into, but rather unto the water, as it’s frequently rendered in other places, Matt. 15.24., unto the lost sheep: So in all these and many other places, Matth. 26.10. John 188.8.131.52. 1 Cor. 10.2. 2 Pet. 4.7. So that into, and out of the water, seems to be no more than unto, and from the water. Travellers tell us it was in the Village Bethsara, where was a very small Fountain, not sufficient to dip in.
2. The Multitude John and the Apostles Baptised, it’s highly probable it was never done by dipping, Matth. 3.5, 6. nay almost impossible it should, for these two Reasons.
1. The extream scarcity of water; water was extream scarce in those hot Countreys, that there was not water to dip such multitudes in; Enon, where John was Baptising, there was not much water;, is but Oculus, an Eye, a very little Fountain; none in probability to dip a multitude in. And so likewise Acts 2.41. when Three thousand persons were Baptised; St. Peter began to preach about the third Hour of the day, which was about Nine of the Clock; these Three thousand were converted by this Sermon, and were all Baptised the same day; it must needs be for on before they began to Baptise, and there was no River near Jerusalem but the Brook Cedron, which Travellers tell us, was in Summer but a dry Ditch, therefore ’tis highly improbable that either John or the Apostles Baptised by dipping.
2. From the multitude of people that were Baptised: We do not find John had any to help him to Baptise, and is it likely he could dip such multitudes? and is it to be imagined that Three thousand persons could be converted; prepared for, and be Baptised, by dipping, in a few hours.
3. If they were dipped, it must be either naked, or in their Cloaths.
1. It’s very unlikely they were dipped naked, for this would be very immodest for Ministers to Baptise Women and Maids naked; a means to stir up lust and unclean Affections, and so a breach of the Seventh Commandment, Thou shalt not commit Adultery; which forbids all unchast thoughts, words and actions; now to look on a Woman’s nakedness is an unchast action, expresly forbidden, Lev. 20.17. and for this reason God would not have the Priest go up to the Altar by steps, Gen. 28.42.
Besides, there was a mixt multitude of men and women Baptised together; and if they were naked, they must see one another’s nakedness, which would have been an horrible reproach to Religion.
2. If they were dipped in their Cloaths, it was either in all their Cloaths, or some provided for the purpose.
If in all their Cloaths, is it at all likely that they should go up and down in the wet Cloaths; and that would not be dipping, to speak properly, but soaking.
Or was it in some Cloaths only? as some light Under garment, or something provided for the purpose? there would be much immodesty in it, and it would be little better than naked: Besides, Where must this multitude have Cloaths for the purpose? must they go home and fetch them, and provide them? for they designed no such thing when they came together, nay, many of them lived at a very great distance.
Let mens Imaginations work which way soever, it will appear extreamly unlikely that there was any dipping in their Baptising; that which is most probable, is, That John the Baptist, and the Apostle, went unto the water, or it may be, into it, with their Feet, wearing nothing but Sandals, and so with their Hands did take up water and sprinkle, or pour on the persons to be Baptised.
And how much less probability is there, that in the Baptising of Housholds, as the Jailor’s in the night, Lydia, Cornelius, and others, that there was any dipping?
4. If it were clearly demonstrated, which never was yet done, that persons were Baptised by dipping; yet would it be proved but occasional in those hot Countreys.
There is no Precept or Command for it; and therefore it would be no way binding to us, no more than our Lord’s administring his Last Supper in an Inn, and in an upper Room, in the Evening, to none but men and Ministers, doth oblige us to do so; Christ having no-where appointed the quantity of Water in Baptism, no more than the quantity of Bread and Wine in the Lord’s Supper. ‘Tis neither the quantity of Water in the one, nor of Bread and Wine in the other, that gives efficacy to the Ordinance.
Obj. But if it be God’s way, we must do it, whatever be said against it.
Ans. This is but to beg the question; moreover, we have proved it is not God’s way.
Obj. But say they, The significancy is not sufficiently exprest, unless we are dipped in the water, Rom. 6.4. We are buried with him by baptism into death; which place the Anabaptists produce to prove Baptism by dipping, as also the necessity of it; whereas neither can be hence proved.
The Apostle’s design there, is to engage Christians to forsake and put off Sin, as is evident, v. 1. the Argument he uses to enforce this is, That in their baptism they were Baptised into Christ, into the likeness of his death, and were so buried with him in baptism, v. 3, 4. so that as Christ dyed for sin, by their Covenant-engagement they were to dye to sin, and rise to newness of life: So that what the Apostle here argues from, is our Baptismal Covenanting with God, which doth not necessarily suppose Dipping.
Obj. But the Apostle alludes to the Custom of going under the Water.
Ans. How doth that appear? they must prove the Custom, before they can prove this is an allusion to the Custom; so that this Text doth not prove the Custom; and the Apostle’s discourse may be well understood without it: And if the Custom be owned, yet the necessity of Dipping doth not thence follow.
Other Scriptures allude to Sprinkling; we may as well thence infer, the absolute necessity of the Custom of Sprinkling, as 1 Cor. 10.2. where it’s said, That the Children of Israel were all Baptised unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea, or as the words may be read together, with Moses by the cloud in the sea, sometimes being so rendered, Luke 4.1, by the Spirit; so they were Baptised by Sprinkling (for a Cloud doth but sprinkle); by the cloud, i. e. by Christ who was this Cloud, or else appeared in this Cloud, as is evident from Exod. 13.21, 22. this was at least a figure and type of Baptism; and in several other Texts.
Is this so, That that Covenant of Grace made with Abraham, whereof Circumcision then was, and Baptism now is the Seal, is a Covenant which comprehends all Believers, and all their Children?
Here is then a Fourfould use to be made of it:
1. Of Information.
1. Use shall be of Information in three things.
1. This informs us of the infinite Condescention and Goodness of God, that when the first Covenant of Works was violated, and the way to Heaven for ever barr’d up against the Sinner, there being no possibility of ever getting to Heaven that way, it should please the Lord to make a new Covenant, a Covenant of Grace, a new and living way to the Father: O what love and grace is this! John 3.14, 15, 16. Now the infinite Grace of God in this second Covenant, appears in these two things.
1. That herein God doth not stand on the old terms, do this and live; the Law required perfect personal Obedience; but now in this new Covenant God is pleased to accept of the Obedience and Righteousness of another in our stead, even Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 5.21. He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2. That God doth not only command few and easie things, as the condition of this New Covenant, viz. Repentance towards God, and Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20.21. but doth freely promise his holy Spirit to work these and all other Covenant-qualifications in us, Ezek. 36.25, 26, 27.
2. This informs us of the infinite Mercy of God to us, that we live under the New Covenant, that God should offer Christ and Salvation in a Covenant-way to us: O let us admire Grace! What are we that God should Reveal himself to us, and not to the world! Matt. 11.25, 26. I thank thee, O Father, — that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes: even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.
3. This informs us what a fearful Condemnation will befall those who refuse to accept of Christ and Salvation on Covenant-terms, Heb. 10.28, 29. He that despised Moses law, dyed without mercy; of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace.
2. Use of Examination, Is there a Covenant of Grace? Then examine your selves what interest you have in it; if you are in this Covenant, you are a happy People; then every Promise in the Covenant belongs to you; but if you are out of this Covenant, your case is dreadful.
Quest. How may I know whether I am in Covenant or no?
Ans. 1. Have you done all those things that are necessary to an external visible Covenanting with Jesus Christ? And these are
1. Knowledg in, and acquaintance with the Gospel-covenant; you can never Covenant with Jesus Christ, until you know the terms, John 17.3. This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ.
2. Have you entered your selves into this Covenant by Baptism? Have you put your hand to the plow, and owned Christ in that Seal of the Covenant?
3. Do you live in an awful discharge of such external and visible Duties the Covenant requires, such as Prayer, Eph. 6.18. Sanctifying the Lord’s day, Attendance on God in all Ordinances, &c.
2. Have you those internal Graces, and do you perform those internal invisible Duties the Covenant requires? If you have, then you are certainly in Covenant, and all the Promises in the Covenant belong to you, Isa. 57.15. To this man will I look, which is of an humble and contrite spirit, and trembles at my word. John 3.16. Matt. 11.28. Come to me you that labour and are heavy laden. Have you that new heart, promised Ezek. 36.26. those Graces mentioned Mat. 5.3, 4, 5, 6. if you have these in truth, then are you in Covenant.
3. Use of Exhortation, Is there a Covenant of Grace in which Believers and their Children are comprehended? then be exhorted,
1. To bless and admire Free-grace that hath given you such a Covenant; O what Mercy is this to us and our Children! that God will call our Children his Children; and our Sons and Daughters, his Sons and Daughters, Ezek. 16.20, 21.
2. Live and act as those who are in Covenant, Phil. 1.27. Only let your conversation be as becomes the Gospel of Christ.
3. Secure your interest in it, and be often calling your selves to an account whether or no you have an interest in it.
4. Learn to live upon this Covenant; fetch all your Comforts and Encouragements from it in all distresses, Heb. 13.5. Be content with such things as you have, for he hath said, I will not leave thee nor forsake thee.
5. Are your Children in Covenant? then dedicate them to Christ in the Covenant, has God taken them in? Gen. 17.7. Acts 2.29. then do not you cast them out, but do as Hannah did, first beg a Child from the Lord, and Vow a Vow to dedicate this Child to God, 1 Sam. 1.10, 11. God calls them his, Ezek. 16.20, 21. And will you dare to withhold from God his own? How will you answer it at his Tribunal another day?
6. O Pray down Covenant-mercy on your Children as Hannah did, and as Monica, Austin’s Mother did: O Pray hard for your Children.
4th. Use of Consolation; is there a Covenant-grace which comprehends all Believers, and all their Actions; O Soul! art thou in this Covenant? then for thy eternal Comfort be it spoken,
1. Thou shalt never want any Temporal good thing, there is Food and and Raiment, Provision and Protection in the Covenant, Heb. 13.5. Be content with such things as you have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.
2. Thou shalt never finally lose thy Grace, or be cast out of Covenant, Prov. 8.18. Phil. 1.6. 1 Pet. 1.23. Jer. 32.40. And I will make an everlasting Covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good, but I will put my fear into their hearts, that they may not depart from me.
3. Heaven and eternal Glory is thine as sure by this Covenant, as if thou wast already in it, 1 John 5.11, 12. This is the promise he hath promised us, eternal life.