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ligious worship hardly at all different from baptising them with water. Yea, it was a far greater thing for the Saviour of the world to take up infants in his arms and solemnly to bless them, than for
any minister now to baptise them with water in his name. Further
III. It is also very worthy to be observed that the Christian dispensation, as well as the Jewish, makes an evident distinction betwixt the children of believers and the children of infidels.
Several of the Corinthian converts having unbelieving yoke-fellows, doubted of the lawfulness of cohabiting with them; and seemed to think themselves obliged to separate; lest the offspring of such unequal marriages should be deemed impure and unmeet to be taken into covenant with God. This their doubt seemed to be just, and to carry in it great weight; being grounded on the known conduct of Ezra, and the Jewish elders, in a parellel case. See Ezra X. 1, 2, 3. But the Apostle resolves it, by telling them--that the unbelieving yoke-fellow was so far sanctified by (or to, or because of) the believing, as that their children which would otherwise be unclean, are now holy.* Here then we see a most elear and evident distinction made betwixt the children of believers and the children of infidels : the one are unclean, i. e. do not stand in any visible covenant relation to Jehovah, and the other are holy, i. e, in the same sense holy, as the Jews were an holy nation, taken into a peculiar relation to God.f
* 1 Cor. vii. 14. + This sentiment of an infant's holiness, and of the pro. priety and duty of its being brought into the chureb of God, and there solemnly devoted to him, was quite scriptural and rational; as well as perfectly agreeable to the appointed cusó toms and forms, and language of those times. Por, Luke fin 22, 23, 'tis said they brought the infant Jesus to the tota
These several scriptures being impartially weighed, the propriety and fitness of bringing children to baptism seems to be established beyond all rational doubt. As a conclusion of this argument I beg leave to ask,- Must not the Christian dispensation be allowed, in all things, to have the preference, and to be better than the Jewish? But if it excludes our infants from the covenant of God, and from standing in any federal relation to heaven; then here is one, and that a very important and considerable instance in which it is vastly inferior. Now, had this really been the case, how mighty and just a prejudice would it have raised in the Jews against christianity! What complaints and objections should we, doubtless, have heard them making against this new dispensation, and casting their children out of God's covenant, and putting them upon a level with those of infidels and pagans ! But, as amongst their many and loud cavils at the religion of Christ, and the continued oppositions and reproaches of the Judaizers, we find not the least shadow of a complaint of this kind, it may with great assurance be concluded, there was no such occasion given ; but that christianity, as it found, so it continued and confirmed, the infants of good men in the covenant of God.
Having proceeded thus far in the argument; I beg leave here to recapitulate, and sum up the
ple, to présent him to the Lord: as it is written in the law; Every first-born male shall be holy to the Lord. Hence it plainly follows. 1. That infants are capable of holiness : and that some were accounted boly (i. e. taken into a more peculiar relation to God) whilst others were not. And 2. That our Lord himself, when an infant passed under a sa. cred ceremony, of the same nature with our infants when we bring them to be baptised. The infant Jesus, like ours, was brought to the place of worship, there solemnly to be presented, or devoted, to the Lord.
force of what has been offered, in the following queries; which will soon lead a fair enquirer to an easy issue of the debate.
Query I. Are not infants, in the eye or construction of the christian law, under a sentence of condemnation, and treated as sinners ?
Query II. Are they not, consequently, in the eye of that law, capable of justification and of being treated as righteous ?
Query III. If, then, they are capable of justification and remission, is it not most highly reasonable, and even necessary to suppose that the christian law, which is a manifestation of God's richest mercy to mankind, has made provision for it, and given some token of it?
Query IV. Were not the infants of believers taken into covenant with God; and did they not stand in a more immediate relation to him, than the infants of unbelieving Canaanites, Moabites, &c. both under the Abrahamic and Mosaic dispensations?-And was not this a peculiar honour and advantage to these infants ?
Query V. Are not the infants of us, christians, as capable of this favour, viz. of being taken visibly into God's covenant, as their (the Israelites) infants were : but if ours are not, is not here an important circumstance in which both the Abrahamic and Mosaic dispensations were more favourable to mankind, and manifested greater grace than the dispensation of Jesus Christ ? ---But can this possibly be?
Query VI. Are not the infants of christians (who are now an holy priesthood, and who succeed to all the privileges of the Jewish church) are not,
I say, their infants as capable to walmtevertar of being discipled, as the infants of the Jewish priesthood were, of being enrolled in the temple register, and entered as ininisters to Aaron, and as
Φυλασσοντες τας φυλακας των αγιων. keeping the charge of the sanctuary :* and are not infants as capable, under the christian covenant, of being baptised as they were of circumcision both under the Abrahamic and Mosaic ?
Let the scriptures, then interpret themselves; and one part of the divine dispensation be suffered to explain the other (of which other, it was intended to be a figure or type) and we shall find it perfectly agreeable, to the analogy and style of scripture, as well as to the reason of things, that infants should be admitted as members of the christian church, and are therefore included in the commission to baptise,
FROM APOSTOLIC TRADITION.
The baptism of infants was the undoubted praca tice of the christian church, in its purest and first ages; the ages immediately succeeding the Apostles; who could not but know what the apostolic doctrine and practice was as to this matter.
This, I apprehend, to be an argument of great weight. For the enquiry being about a fact, which could not but be publicly and perfectly known, and not possible to be mistaken, in the ages immediately succeeding the apostles, the sense of those ages, concerning this fact, must needs be of great moment in deciding the point, — Whether the apostles and evangelists formed the first churches throughout the whole world, upop the plan of infant baptism, or not; that is to say, whether they admitted infants, together with their believing parents, into the church by baptism; or did not so adınit them, was a fact of such nature as could not but be evident, and indubitably known, to all the christians of the first age. Nor was it, humanly speaking, possible, that the apostolic prac. tice in this point should be universally departed from, disused and thrown out, in so short a space of time, as we shall presently see the baptism of infants to have universally prevailed. To prepare the way to this proof, I beg leave to premise these two things.
* Vir!. Numb. iii. 6, 7, 8, 28.
1. To weaken the testimony of the antient writers and fathers upon this point, some have objected, the many foolish and 'absurd opinions and interpretations of scripture with which their writings abound. But this is extremely weak. For they are not here appealed to as reasoners, or interpreters, but only as historians or witnesses to a public standing fact.
2. If any think it strange, that we have no more express testimonies to this practice of the church, in the writings of these fathers, let him consider,
- That the far greater part of their writings are lost; and that it is but little more than their names and a few pieces of their works especially as to the first age, that are transınitted down to us. -And also, that the baptism of infants being then universally practised, and no doubts or dispute having ever been moved about it; and it being likewise the constant ever-prevailing custom of all the enemies of christianity, both Jews and pagans, to admit infants to a participation of their religious ceremonies and rites together with their parents. These things considered, it will not appear strange that this point is so rarely touched on in the writings of those times. There are a thousand religious books written in the present age, in which the least hint is not to be found about baptising of infants, though the point has now been so