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commune at Christ's table, wherever his fellow-Christians will receive him.
?'he Eunuch, who was baptized by Philip, was, in all respects in this situation. He made a profession of religion; and was baptized by an authorized Minister. He was, therefore, a member of the Christian Church; but he was a member of the Church General only, and not of any particular Church, He could not have acted, as a member of such a Church, in any ecclesiastical measure; nor voted in the regulations of worship, communion, or discipline.
This I conceive to be exactly the situation of persons, baptized in Infancy. They are members of the Church of Christ; that is, of the Church General. They are members in the same sense, in which the Eunuch was a member; in which those, dismissed in good standing, and not yet united to other Churches, are members; in which men, lawfully ordained, are Ministers of the Church ; in which Adults, after their profession and baptism, are members, antecedently to their union with particular Churches. What, then, it will be asked, constitutes persons members of particular Churches? The answer is at hand : It is a Covenant, mutually made by Christians, to worship God, together, in the same manner, and in accordance with the same principles; and to unite together in the same fellowship, and the same discipline. None, beside those who have entered into this covenant, can act in any Church, as an Ecclesiastical Body; nor take any part in its Ecclesiastical proceedings. This covenant, and this alone, binds them together as a Church. None of the persons, mentioned above, are, at the time supposed, parties to such a covenant; and, therefore, none of them are members of a particular Church. The ministers cease to be members of particular churches by their Ordination, which makes them officers in the Church at large. The dismissed members, whom I have specified, have ceased to be members of particular Churches by the dissolution of the covenant which made them such, mutually agreed to by themselves and their Brethren, with whom they were thus in covenant.
It will here, perhaps, be asked again, Is not every particular Church a branch of the Church General? I answer, It is; because all its members, lawfully introduced in the manner specified above, 76 members of the Church General. In this respect, and in mis only, is it such a branch. But this fact in no way affects its character, or situation, as a particular Church: an Ecclesiastical Body, possessing within itself the power of regulating its own worship, communion, and discipline. In this power, in any given church, no person can lawfully share, except those who have become parties to the mutual covenant, which has constituted it a Church.
Baptism renders any person capable of membership in a particular Church, if he is disposed, and otherwise prepared, to unite bimVol. IV.
self to it. But neither this, nor his profession of Religion, will constitute him such a member. This can be done in no other way, but by means of that mutual covenant between him and the Church, which has been mentioned above.
It will probably be further observed, that, in many cases, a great multitude of Churches have been united together, so as to conslitute, in their view, one Church, and to be thus styled in their customary language. Such, for example, are the Churches of England and Scotland, and the Presbyterian Church in America. What is this situation of baptized persons, particularly of baptized Infants, in these Churches? The same, I answer, in my opinion, as in our own. Any number of Churches may unite together in their worship, communion, and discipline; and constitute themselves a single Church. Of this Church, however numerous, or however small
, every individual, who belongs to it, becomes a member, either by an explicit, or an implicit, engagement to unite with its several members in their peculiar worship, communion, and discipline.
To those, whom I am immediately opposing the following observations from Dr. Gill, which have lately come to my knowledge, will undoubtedly have great weight. “Baptism,” he observes,
is not a Church-ordinance; I mean, it is not an ordinance administered in the Church, but out of it, and in order to admission into it, and communion with it; it is preparatory to it, and a qualification for it; it does not make a person a member of a Church, or admit him into a visible Church. Persons must first be baptized, and then added to the Church, as the three thousand converts were. A Church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied, that they are baptized, before they are admitted into communion with it."* It will be easily seen, that these opinions of Dr. Gill coincide with those which I have advanced, in every particular but one. He supposes baptized persons not to be members of the Church in any sense. I consider them, as members of the Church General, but not of a particular Church.
The way is now prepared for an answer to the objection which we are examining. Persons, baptized in Infancy, are baptized on the ground of that Profession of Religion, which their parents have made, when they themselves became members of particular Churches. This I shall have occasion to show hereafter. At present I shall take it for granted. Whenever they themselves make the same, profession of Religion ; they become entitled to communion at the sacramental table in any Church, which acknowledges their baptism, and their profession, to be scriptural. This communion is that which is customarily called Occasional communion : such, as a member of one Church enjoys with another, of the same communion. Whenever they enter into a Church
Gill's Body of Divinity, Vol. III. p. 311.
covenant; and engage to adopt the worship, fellowship, and discipline, agreed upon by a particular Church; they then, and not till then, become members of a particular Church. I have heretofore shown, that a profession of religion was necessary to constitute us members of the Church of Christ. It has been here shown, and I hope satisfactorily, that what may be called a Churchcovenant is indispensable to constitute us Members of particular Churches.
If these things be admitted ; the situation of persons, baptized in their Infancy, becomes sufficiently plain, with regard to their communion at the Sacramental table. Those particularly, whom I am opposing, cannot, so far as they admit the opinions of Dr. Gill, object any longer to the Baptism of Infants on this score.
With respect to the discipline of persons, baptized in Infancy, my own views are these: It is chiefly committed to their Parents and Guardians; and is supremely administered in religious education, involving instruction, habituation, and government; duties respecting the person baptized, which are of no small importance, and are incumbent also on the Church and on its individual members. But the consideration of this subject, I shall resume, when I come to the examination of Christian discipline.
THE EXTRAORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.-DIRECT ARGUMENTS
FOR INFANT BAPTISM.
MATTHEW xxviii. 19.-Go ye, therefore, teach all nations, baplizing them in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In the preceding discourse, I considered the principal Objections of the Antipædobaptists to the Doctrine under consideration, so far as I recollected them. I shall now proceed to offer some direct arguments, to prove that Infants are proper Subjects of Baptism.
1. Infants were circumcised in the Church, under the Abrahamic Dispensation : Circumcision was the same ordinance with Baptism : therefore Infants are to be baptized.
The Covenant, made with Abraham, was that, which is made with the Church, under the Christian Dispensation. To Abraham God said, Genesis xvii. 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 to thy seed after thee. In Lev. xxvi, 3, 12, it is said, If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them, then will I walk among you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people. In conformity to this language, Moses declares to the Israelites, Deut. xxvi. 17, after they had entered into a solemn, public, national covenant with God, Thou hast avouched the Lord, this day, to be thy God; and the Lord hath adouched thee, this day, to be his people.
In conformity to this covenant, God styled himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and afterwards the God of Israel ; Jehovah, God of Israel ; and the Holy One of Israel. Moses, and the Prophets, addressing the Israelites, call him perpetually your God; and, when addressing the nation as one, thy God. But nothing is more evident, than that God could not be the God of Israel, or of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in any sense, in which he is not the God of all nations, and of all individuals, except by his own sovereign and gracious determination, expressed in his covenant. Equally evident is it, that no inspired man would style him the God of this nation, or of these individuals
, but by his appointment. It deserves to be remarked, that he is never styled the God of Ephraim, nor the God of Judah. The Covenant was not made with either of these divisions of Israel, separately considered, but with the whole nation. Nor is he ever styled the God of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Solomon, Hezekiah, or Jo
siah; the Covenant having never been made, in form, with either of these persons. But he is styled the God of David, with whom he renewed this covenant in a peculiar form. See 1 Kings vii. and i Chron. xvii.
God is also called, as you well know, the God of Zion, or of his Church, for the same reason; to wit, that his covenant is made with her.
Now this is the very Covenant, which is made with the Church under the Christian Dispensation. Of this the evidence is unanswerable. St. Paul, quoting in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, from ihe thirty-first of Jeremiah, verses 31-34, says, For if that first covenant had been faultless, to wit, the Covenant made at Sinai, of which Moses was the mediator, then should no place have been found for the second : to wit, that of which the Apostle here declares Christ to be the Mediator. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah: not according to the Covenant that I made with ther fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand, to lead them out of the Land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquilies will I remember no more. It will be observed, that the words of this covenant are the same with the words of that, which was made with Abraham ; as, from time to time, publicly and solemnly repeated by the nation of Israel ; and the same in substance with those, which God himself used in his original promulgation of the covenant to that Patriarch: all, that is involved in this covenant, being expressed in this single, comprehensive declaration, I WILL BE YOUR GOD, AND YE SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
As the Prophet Jeremiah has informed us; as St. Paul, quoting his declarations and commenting upon them, has informed us ; that this is the covenant, made with the Church under the Christian espensation; we cannot, without doing violence to the plainest language of the Scriptures, hesitate concerning this truth. As God made this very covenant with Abraham ; as Moses, and all the inspired men who followed him in the nation of Israel, have declarcd those to be the very words of that covenant; it cannot, as I think, even with decency, be denied to be the same covenant.
But in this covenant, God expressly promised to be a God 10 Abruham, and to his seed. The proper import of these words is explained by God himself, when promulging the covenant to Abra