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fancy, yet not received to the Lord's Supper, when they come to age, nor admitted to fellowship of voting in Admissions, Elections, Censures, till they come to profess their faith and repentance, and lay hold of the covenant of their parents before the church. And yet they being not cast out of the church, nor the covenant there. of, their children may be capable of the first seal of the covenant."*
In the work just quoted, Dr. I. Mather informs us, that the Rev. Thomas Hooker, first Pastor of the church in Hartford in Connecticut, came to America in the same year, and in the same ship, with Mr. Cotton, and the Rev. Samuel Stone: “and they may justly be reckoned amongst the first three of New England's Worthies.” p. 8, 9. Mr. Hooker says, in his Survey of Church Discipline, p. 48, that the children of confederates, or professors, are true members of the church, “though they should not make any personal and vocal expression of their engagement, as their fathers did.” Mr. Stone, in a letter to Mr. Richard Mather of Dor. chester, dated June 6, 1650, thus writes, “I conceive that children of church-members have right to churchmembership by virtue of their father's covenant. It being granted that they are in Abraham's covenant, they have membership by birth. Gal. ii. 15. God is their God. Gen. xvii. 7. They are branches. Rom. xi. They are subjects of Christ's visible kingdom. Ezek. xxxvii. 25. Hence, 1. If they be presented to a church, and claim their interest, they cannot be denied, according to the rules of the gospel: 2. Hence there hath been a sinful neglect in New England of such children who have either not been presented, or not received, when they have claimed their right.”
In 1635, Mr. Richard Mather, Mr. Norton and Mr. Shepherd arrived in New England, and constituted " another triumvirate" of worthies.
The former, in a manuscript Plea for the Churches of Christ in New England, prepared for the press in 1645, propounds the question, "When those that were baptized in infancy by the covenant of their parents, being come
The First Principles, p. 5.
to age, are not yet found fit to be received to the Lord's Table, although they be married and have children, whether are those children to be baptized or no?" He answers the same in the affirmative;
“ That the children of such parents ought to be baptized: the Reason is, the Parents as they were born in the covenant, so they still continue therein, being neither cast out, nor deserving so to be, and if so, why should not their children be baptized, for if the parents be in covenant, are not th- children so likewise? Is not the tenour of the covenant, I will be a God to thee and to thy seed? Is not the text plain? Acts ii. 39. the promise is to you and to your children. And if these children be in covenant, why should they not be admitted to the Seal of the Covenant, sith they are partakers of that, which is one main ground, why other infants are admitted thereto?--If their Parents were cast out of the Church by Censures, or fallen away from the same by wilful Apostacy and Schisme, or deserving to be cast out by reason of Scandal, then there were more reason that their Infants should be excluded from the Scal. But sith no such thing can be said of the Parents of whom we speak, a good Reason should be given, why their Infants are debarred. For if it be said the Parents are not Confirmed Members, nor have yet been found fit for the Lord's Table, I conceive this need not hinder their Infants from Baptism so long as they, I mean the Parents, do neither renounce the Covenant, nor doth the Church see just cause to cast them out from the same; for it is not the parents fitness for the Lord's Supper, that is the ground of baptizing their children, but their parents and so their Children being in the Covenant, this is that which is the main ground thereof; and as long as this doth Continue, not dissolved by any Church Censure against them, nor by any Scandalous Sin of theirs, so long the Children may be baptized.”
In "The First Principles of New England,” now before us, we find quotations to the same effect, from the writings of the Rev. John Wilson, “first pastor of the first Church in Boston;" and of the Rev. Messrs. Shepherd and Mitchell of Cambridge; and of the Rev. Mr. Norris of Salem; of the Rev. Mr. Philips of Wa. tertown; of the Rev. Peter Prudden, of Milford, in Con. necticut; of the Rev. Henry Smith, of Wethersfield, of the same state; of the Rev. Ralph Patrick, of Duxberry; of the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, of Ipswich; of the Rev. Mr. Norton, of Boston; and of the Rev. Dr. Increase
Mather; but since their testimony is not of divine au. thority we shall merely refer to it, as proof that the puritans of New England were of our opinion about the church-membership of all baptized persons. The Synod, which were convened in Massachusetts in 1662, maintained the same doctrine; and in refutation of an objection, observe,
“ That the owning of the Children of those that successively continue in covenant to be a part of the church, is so far from being destructive to the purity and prosperity of the church, and religion therein (as some conceive) that this imputation belongs to the contrary tenet. To seek to be more pure than the rule, will ever end in impurity, in the issue. God hath so framed his covenant, and consequently the constitution of his church thereby, as to design a continuance and propagation of his church therein, from one generation to another. Hence the covenant runs to us and to our seed after us, in their generations. To keep in the line and under the influence of this covenant of God, is the true way to the churches glory: to cut it off, cuts off the prosperity of Zion, and hinders it from being an external excellency and the joy of many generations.
If we cross the Atlantic in our researches, we shall find that the early system of New England was advocated by the Rev. Richard Baxter, in his volume entitled “ Plain Scripture Proof of Infant Church-membership and Baptism;" published in London, in 1651; by the Rev. Mr. Henry Ainsworth in “ A seasonable Discourse, or Censure upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists,” printed in 1644; and by many other distinguished divines.
Let all baptized persons be acknowledged and treated as members of the church, and then, the mode of baptism would be the only subject in dispute between us and our Baptist brethren.
Baptism, under the Christian dispensation, we define to be, a solemn application of water to a professor of the Christian religion, or to a member of his or her family, by a minister of the gospel, (and by the authority of Christ's command given after his resurrection,) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Neither the quantity of water used, nor the mode of applying it, is essential to a definition of the rite. It is
however, requisite, that it should be administered by a visible minister of Jesus, because Christ commissioned none else to dispense it. Midwives, the Canons of the Church of England to the contrary notwithstanding, have no more right to baptize, than publicly to preach, or administer the eucharist; and divine inspiration suffers not a woman publicly to preach.
Our Baptist brethren think it essential to the rite, that the administrator should, while calling over the subject the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, immerse him or her completely in water. Some think it should be in a running stream, in the open air; while others deem it adviseable to have a baptistery in their place of worship.
Besides the passages which we have already explained, concerning our being buried with Christ by baptism into his DEATH, (not into WATER,) the Baptists rely on Christ's going down into the water of Jordan, and coming up out of it, at his baptism: on similar expressions relative to the Ethiopian Eunuch: on John's administering the sacred rite near Enon, “because there was much water there:” and on the alleged meaning of the word baptize; which always implies, as they say, immersion.
Dr. Janeway, and the other authors whom we have quoted, evince, that Christ and John, Philip and the Eunuch, may have gone down into the water, and come up out of it, without descending to a depth above the ancle; that, while standing in the shallow water, the administrator may have dipped up water with the hand, or some small vessel, and may have baptized by affusion: that it would be perfectly literal and correct, to translate the words rendered in these cases into and out of, by the words to and from, as they are rendered in hundreds of instances in the Bible; and that John resorted to Enon, that he might spend several days there, in teaching the multitudes, who came from the surrounding country on beasts of burden, because in that land of droughts, it was important for a great collection of people to encamp beside much water, or idata Wonna, many streams, or rivulets, as Dr. Osgood renders the passagé. John iii. 23.
“ It is not said,” observes the Doctor, “ that John chose this situation for the convenience of plunging his hearers. This is mere conjecture; and if we attend to the circumstances of the history, we may conjecture another reason, in my view, more probable. The greater part of John's life was spent in the solitude of a dry and barren wilderness; and when he entered on his public ministration, there went out to him Jerusalem and all Yudea, and all the region round about Jordan. This description gives us the idea of vast multitudes, not only from the metropolis, but from many other cities, towns, and villages, throughout the land, travelling on mules, asses, camels, and all the various beasts of carriage. Io a country where the inhabitants were so frequently distressed for the want of water, it was absolutely necessary that John should meet this immense concourse of people in a situation like that in the neighbourhood of Enon, whose many streams, in that sultry climate, might serve for their refreshment. As thousands were continually flocking in, and as those who had come from a distance would probably tarry some days, nad there not been much water in the place, they would presently have been in danger of suffering.'
The advocates for the baptism of infants and others, by sprinkling, or affusion, contend that the word baptize, when used to denote any thing else than the Christian rite, defines not any particular mode of applying water. Thus a man baptizes his hands, or a cup, or a platter, when water is poured upon the thing baptized, as truly as when he immerses it in water. There are divers baptisms or washings, without immersion.
When the word baptize is used for the sacramental Christian rite, we coniend that it denotes the application of water by a minister of Christ, in the name of the Trinity, but the word itself neither intimates nor implies any particular quantity of water, nor any precise mode of applying it. We believe immersion, therefore, to be a lawful mode of applying the water; but we deny it to be the only lawful, or even probably the Apostolic, mode of application.
Baptism administered by one who is publicly known to deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States have