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long and so warmly controverted amongst us: much less, then, should one expect to find any thing but a few allusions and hints as to this matter, in the books of those early times.
This being premised, we proceed to the testimo-. nies. The first shall be from
Justin MARTYR, who wrote about forty years after the apostolic age. He says " Kau Tondos Tines x« “ πολλοι εξηκοντεται και εβδομηκον τεται οι εκπαιδων εμαθητευθησαν
TW Xşısw."—“ Several persons among us, both men and women, of sirty or seventy years old, who
were proselyted, or made disciples, to Christ in, "S or from their infancy do continue uncorrupt."* Now, proselyted to Christ from their infancy, they could not be, without being, from their infancy, cousidered and treated as proselytes to Christ; that is, without being from their infancy baptised.—For whosoever fuainteuingar tw xassw were discipled or proselyted to Christ, were by his express order, MAT. xxviii. 19. to be baptised. Note, seventy years from Justin carries us back, almost, into the middle of the apostolic age.
IREN ÆUS, who wrote about sixty seven years after the apostles, and was born, it is said, some years before the death of St. Johy, says concerning Christ. — “ Omnes enim venit per semetipsum “salvare ; omnes inquam, qui per eum renascun"tur in Deum, INFANTES et parvulos et pueros
et juvenes.”+-" That he came to save all persons by himself ; all, I mean, who by him are
regenerated, i. e. baptised, unto God, INFANTS " and little ones, and youths and elder persons." -That the word, renascor, regenerated, in the writings of these antients, particularly of Irenæus, is most familiarly used to signify, baptised, see from a vast variety of instances proved, beyond
Just. Martyr. Apol. ii. Irenæus adv. Ilæres lib. iii.cap. 39.
all doubt, in Dr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism. Vol. I. Chap. iii. Ÿ 2, 3. and Defence page 318. 324.—And that by infants, are here meant, children, before they come to the use of reason, is evident, not only as these must necessarily be included in the ALL whom he came to save; but also because, after he had mentioned infants and others regenerated, he runs over the several ranks of age again: but with this remarkable difference, that whereas he mentions the benefit of Christ's example, as what was to be taken by each of the other ranks, viz. the parvuli, the juvenes and the seniores, he says no such thing concerning the infantes infants; for this reason, no doubt; viz. that these only, of all the mentioned ranks, were incapable of this benefit. · TERTULLIAN, who flourished about an hundred years after the apostles, is the only person, among the antients, who advises to defer the baptism of infants, except in cases of necessity or in danger of death. But his advising to defer it, except in cases of necessity, is an incontestible proof that the baptising of infants was the practice of those tiines. And as he appears to be quite singular in this his advice; so, that he was extremely wbimsical and absurd in his opinions on this, as well as several other points of religion, all who have read his works perfectly well know. For; upon the same grounds on which he recommends the deferring the baptism of infants, he advises also“ That unmarried
persons should be kept off from this sacrament, “who are likely to come into temptation ; as well “ those who never were married, as those in “ widowhood; until they either marry, or be confirmed in continence. They who understand the weight of baptism will rather dread the receiting of it, than the delaying of it.**
• Tert. de Baptismo: cap. 18.
This is TERTULLIAN's reasoning upon the point; but we have nothing to do with that; all we cite him for is a voucher to an antient fact, to prove that in his days infants were baptised. To this fact he bears incontestible witness. His saying—“ Itaque pro cujusque personæ conditione,
&c. Therefore according to every ones condi" tion, disposition and also age, the delaying of
baptism is more profitable, especially in the
case of children :" and his asking—“Quid fes“ tinat innocens ætas ad remissionem peccatorum? “Quid enim necesse est, si non tam necesse spon
sores etiam periculo ingeri.”—Why does that innocent age make such haste to the remission of
sins, i. e. to the laver of baptism? IVhat occa“sion is there, ercept in cases of necessity, thật " the sponsors or godfathers, be brought into dan
ger. These questions plainly prove the baptising of infants to have been the practice of his days.
Note. There are some, who upon very probable grounds, understand these passages of Tertullian as relating only to the baptism of the infants of heathen parents; which when they came into their power by purchase, conquest, &c. the chris tians of those times were wont to baptise. And that it is only to delay the baptising of such infants as these, which Tertullian advises, there is strong reason to believe.
Hitherto, we find this point, of infant baptism, þut transiently touched on by these early writers : there having yet no controversy or doubt arisen in the church which might give occasion to their speaking more expressly concerning it. But about this time, there arose some dispute about original sin, or the nature and degree of that pollution with which new-born infants are tainted. Hencefor.
• Tert. de Baptismo: cap. 18
ward, therefore, we shall find more direct and express passages relating to their baptism.
ORIGEN, about an hundred and ten years after the apostles, speaking of the pollution which cleaves to infants, says.-" Adde his etiam, &c.“ Besides this also let it be considered; what is the
reason, that whereas the baptism of the church " is given for the forgiveness, infants also by the
usage of the church are baptised ! when if there
were nothing in infants which wanted forgiveness " and mercy, the grace of baptism would be need“ less to them."*
And again,“ Parouli baptizantur in remissio
nem.--Infants are baptised for the remission of "sins. Of what sins? Or when have they sinned? " Or how can any reason of the laver hold good ” in their case; but according to that sense before "mentioned; none is free from pollution, though “ his life be but the length of one day upon the " earth ? And it is for that reason, because, by “ the sacrament of baptism the pollution of our “ birth is taken away, that infants are baptised.”+
In another treatise he says-.“ Pro hoc et eccle“ sia &e.”—“ For this also it was, that the church “ had from the apostles a tradition, or order, to
give baptism also to infants. For they to whom " the divine mysteries were committed, knew that " there is in all persons the natural pollution of " sin, which must be done away by water and the * spirit." I
There are other passages of Origen, full to this point : but these, already cited, abundantly prove the baptism of infants to be the standing custom of his days. That they are genuine and authentic, see clearly shewn in Dr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism, Vol. I. p. 55.—and Defence, p. 372. * Homil. viii, in Levit. Cap. 12. + Ibid. in Luc.
Ibid. Comment. in Epist. Rom. L. 5.
Note. Origen was born, about eighty five years after the age of the apostles; and if baptised in infancy (as there is no reason to question but he was, his father and grandfather having both been christians) here is clear proof of its practice very near the apostolic age. Though he resided chiefly at Alexandria in Egypt, he had been conversant in almost all the noted churches of the world. His testiinony, therefore, to the point, mayjustly be supposed to speak the sense of thein all.*
We next proceed to CYPRIAN, who wrote about an hundred and fifty years after the apostles; and gives, if it be possible, a yet more indubitable testimony to this fact. In his time, ( Anno Domini 253) a council of sixty-six bishops being convened at Carthage; one Fidus, a country bishop, having entertained some doubt (not whether infants should be baptised at all, but) whether baptism might lawfully be given them, till they were eight days old, according to the law of circumcision? In answer to this doubt, they unanimously decreed :-" That the baptism of infants was not to be deferred till the eighth day.”—And after many things spoken to the point they conclude thus — “ Cæterum si homines impedire aliquid, &c. But if
any thing could hinder men from baptism, it “ will be heinous sins, which will debar the adult “and mature therefrom. And if those who have “ sinned extremely, yet if afterward they believe,
are baptised, and no man is prohibited from this
grace; how much more ought not an infant to “ be prohibited; who, being BUT JUST BORN, is
* The learned Dr. Gale, who with great acuteness had disputed the preceding authorities, (but whose objections have been abundantly answered by Dr. Wall) does not so much as pretend to contest those which follow, from Cyprian and Austin. These, therefore, being admitted as incontestible by our opponents, we shall see presently, the strength with which they conclude in our favour,