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are one in Christ Jesus.” “For the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change also of the law.” Heb. 7:12.
Having disposed of this we next come to proposition
IV. That the right of infants to the privileges of the church, has been recognized by Christ, his apostles, and their successors.
From what we have already observed, it would appear to be abundantly sufficient to show that except an appropriate change in the external form--neither the interest of infants in the blessings of the covenant, nor in the use of its seals has been taken away—the laws in their favor have not been repealed, therefore their claims must still retain their original force. But if we can also show that Christ and his apostles have recognized these rights, the question is settled.
1. It was admitted by our Savior. In the prophecy of Isaiah when unfolding the character of the promised Messiah, it is said, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, he shall carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are
To admit the highly figurative language of this prediction, does not, in the least degree, impair the fitness and force of its application, when we read that, “when Jesus saw it he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” " And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." Mark 10:14, 16. To ascertain the meaning of the term “ kingdom of heaven,” or “ kingdom of God,” which are used indiscriminately in the same sense, will assist us in the present inquiry. When it is mentioned as being at hand, it uniformly intends the gospel dispensation, and more generally the same at other times; and, as we suppose will scarcely be disputed, it means the same thing in this place. Here then it seems to imply that of these the church of Christ is to be composed and built up of such it is to be constituted, and by them its privileges and blessings are to be enjoyed. But if it is supposed, as some have contended, that the expression refers to the kingdom of glory, it is not reasonable to conclude that those who are heirs of the kingdom above, should be unworthy to enter, by the door, into his courts below.
It is still, however, objected that, although he blessed the children he did not baptize them. But if we can show good reason for the omission, the force of the objection is destroyed.
1. John's baptism was not Christian baptism. We then remark that these infants were not baptized, inasmuch as Christian baptism was not yet appointed. The Jews, from time immemorial, had re. ceived proselytes by circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice, and the same ceremonies were observed with all-except females, who were not circumcised, and the practice of drawing blood from those who were proselyted from nations that used circumcision—when they became proselytes to Judaism. On this subject Rosenmuller says: "For since the apostles could not have been ignorant that the children and infants of proselytes from the Gentiles were not only called proselytes, and circumcised, which the Mishna teaches, but also baptized—which Wetstein on Matt. 3:6, proves abundantly from the Gemara—it never could so much as have entered their mind, that children and infants were to be expunged from the catalogue of disciples, or that they were
to be denied baptism, unless they had been excepted and excluded by Christ in express words; which we no where read.”
Baptism, therefore, was no innovation or strange thing in the time of John, which is farther confirmed by the fact, that when the Pharisees examined him, there was neither surprise expressed nor inquiry made respecting the rite itself; but the authority by which he administered the ordinance, was the subject of question and cavil.
2. It is farther manifest that John's was not Christian baptism, from the manner of his preaching: “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”-not, “it is come,” but, as it is at hand”-admitting clearly that it was not yet begun. Still more, “ The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” is used to show how far John was short of the greater privileges that would come after. Neither the keys nor the seals were committed to John, they were reserved for the apostles who opened the present dispensation on the day of pentecost, “ to them and to their children, and to all that were afar off.” John was only the forerunner, and it was Christ the LAWGIVER, who alone had a right to change or enact laws for his house.
3. Christ could not be baptized in his own name, nor did John bartize in the name of Christ, neither was purification from sin, the exercise of penitence, or other objects for which Christian baptism was instituted proper to him; and the re-baptizing of those mentioned, Acts 19:1-5, completes the proof that John's was not Christian baptism.
4. The reason of Christ's baptism appears to us abundantly manifest, without the incongruity of supposing it Christian baptism. Christ was baptized in order to his entering publicly upon the exercise of the duties of his priestly office. In the 4th and 8th chapters of Numbers, we may see the age at which the priests entered upon their official duties, and the ceremonies of their consecration. Washing with water, anointing with oil, and sprinkling with blood, were the principal rites. Christ at the same age was washed with water, anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure, and entered by his own blood when he offered up himself. Heb. 7:27. It was, therefore, that according to the law which was not yet abolished, he might" fulfill all righteousness," and enter legally upon his mediatorial work, and particularly upon his priestly office, that he was baptized and received the dove-like symbol of the affusion of the Spirit. Doubtless, too, it was not without regard to this event that John, his forerunner, was a son of Aaron, among whom the priests consecrated their successors. From this view of the subject, we conclude that Christ recognized the claims of infant children as far as the ordinances then in use would admit, and that whether the expression “ kingdom of heaven" meant the gospel dispensationwhich is our belief-or the kingdom of glory, our Savior's language was resting their character and rights on the highest authority and the strongest ground.
(2.) This claim has also been recognized by the apostles.
in Gen. 12:3, we have the promise to Abraham, “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed:” a promise that we find often repeated under both dispensations. In the address of Peter, on the day of pentecost, he quoted several promises. The prophecy of Joel, Acts 2:16-21; of David, verses, 25-28 and 34-36, and then, as
e some suppose, he refers to that to Abraham, v. 39, in these words:
si For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are I afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Be that, iz however, as it may, there is no doubt about the quotation presented in w the next speech-recorded in the next chapter. Acts 3:25. “ Ye are : the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made
with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” It is, therefore, a plain case, that these very promises-where all nations are included, and promises to the infant offspring of believers are made--are employed in urging upon the hearers the duty of being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. * The promise, as made to Abraham, included also his posterity, and that of the new covenant did the same to those who should be interested in it.”-Scott. It does not at all impair the force of these
examples, that the right of infants is rather assumed than expressed. si It only shows that there were none at that time to dispute their claim,
and therefore, no need of its defence. If their right had been abridged or taken away, an explicit mention would not only have been important but really necessary; but the language of the apostles is precisely such as it would have been, if it had never in their day been made a matter of question which we suppose was the fact.
Of this we have another instance in First Corinthians. The Jews had been strongly cautioned against intermarriages with the heathen around them, and when guilty, were compelled to put away their wives and the children they had by them. Ezra 10:3, 44. The Corinthians appear to have received the impression, that this rule was applicable to those Christians that were united to heathens, and desired to be informed on this and on other points in relation to marriage; and whether such mixed marriages ought not to be dissolved. No, says the apostle, “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.” 1 Cor. 7:1, 14. The question here is, what does the apostle mean by the children being “ unclean," or
holy." Nothing can be more extravagant, than the allegation that it means that the children on this account were illegitimate or legitimate, nor is any construction even plausible, except that which refers it to federal holiness, or the right of infants to their church privileges, in virtue of their parents' connection with the church; in which, if one makes a credible profession, the children are entitled to the ecclesiastical benefits promised to the offspring of believers. From these cases, without room to notice others, we think it unquestionable that the right of infants to the seal of the covenant, has been admitted by the apostles. And if the fact of their baptism is not specified in so many words, it is to be referred to their well known privileges, and the practice of the church in all its previous history; which would confirm the impression that different cases of the kind must have occurred among the various households baptized by the apostles,
(3.) The immediate successors of the apostles must also have known both their faith and practice on this subject, and of course, their testimony is not without its weight in coming to a correct decision in the case. Our Savior said, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5. And Paul says, “ According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Tit. 3:5. From these expressions, and such like, some of the fathers, and also some of the moderns, by an abuse of language, or from error in doctrine, term baptism regeneration. Hence, " Irenæus expressly calls baptism regeneration, and says that infants were regenerated, i. e. baptized. Irenæus, and those Christians in an age so near the apostles, and in a place where one of them had so lately resided, could not be ignorantthey must have known what the apostolic practice was with respect to infant baptism, a matter of the most notorious and public nature."Read's Apology. Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, and others of the early fathers, give the same testimony. Augustine says, “The question is not, whether infants ought to be baptized, for that nobody doubts." Fidus, a presbyter, had sent in an objection to the Council of Carthage, to which they returned unanimously the following answer, sixty-six bishops being present. “ As to the case of infants, of whom you said they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the ancient law of circumcision should be so far adhered to, that they ought not to be baptized till the eighth day; we were all of a very different opinion. Our sentence, therefore, dearest brother, in the council was, that none by us should be prohibited from baptism, and the grace of God who is merciful to all.”
Thus we have, as we believe, offered sufficient evidence that the Abrahamic covenant, in its principles and design, embraced the Christian dispensation—that infants were included in that covenant as parties to its conditions and promises—that baptism has taken the place of circumcision as the seal of God's covenant-and that the right of infants to this ordinance has been recognized by Christ, his apostles, and their immediate successors. We, consequently, conclude that it is the privilege and duty of Christian parents to devote their infant offspring to God in this ordinance, and then to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
To conclude, baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, implies that we are baptized by the authority of that sacred Name, and have the seal of his covenant upon us. It implies that we are baptized into the faith and profession of the Holy Trinity, with a promise of obedience to his commandments.
In the baptism of infants, it implies our faith in the promise of God to us and to our offspring, and our engagement to train them up
in the fear of God, and in the knowledge and practice of his holy religion. We must at the same time remark, that the negligence of parents re. specting the spiritual training of their children; and the negligence of the church in not watching over them, or exercising discipline upon them, have done much to counteract the benefits of their baptismal engagements.
BY THOMAS DICKSON BAIRD.
MODE OF BAPTISM.
Acts 8:30. " And they went down both into the water, both
Philip and the Eunuch, and he baptized him."
We have already stated, that every administrator and observer of this institution, ought to be fully persuaded in his own mind that baptism is of divine authority--that the recipient has a scriptural claim to the privilege--and that the form of its administration is not a contravention of
divine rule. The first of these, viz. the divine institution, we have taken as admitted, and not requiring discussion—the second we have attempted, in the preceding pages, to establish in relation to infants--and the third now claims .our attention.
We are indeed perfectly satisfied, that if the mode of baptism had been at all essential to its valid administration, we would have had more specific instructions, either by precept or example, in relation to it. But as the mode in general use is denounced with great confidence, and those who have been received in this form are declared unbaptized, and still out of covenant with God, it is not unimportant to inquire whether these things are so? Whether inquiry unsettle or confirm our belief on this subject, if it lead to or aid in the discovery or the estab. lishment of truth, it will not be in vain.
It is true, the text before us approaches as near to an explanation of the form of baptism used as any other on record; but certainly there is nothing in it to decide the question of affusion or immersion. We are, however, of the opinion that, by attention to Scripture, we may discover, without much danger of mistake, the truth on the subject, if we diligently and conscientiously seek to secure it. In prosecuting this inquiry, we shall observe the following order:
I. Consider the typical actions and representations by which Baptism has been prefigured under the former dispensation.
II. The prophetical allusions to it.
III. The examples of the New Testament in relation to it.
I. The typical actions and representations by which baptism was prefigured under the former dispensation.
Some of the principal actions to which we refer, were washing with water, anointing with oil, and sprinkling with blood, which were em. ployed to represent the purification and
unction of the Spirit, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. In allusion to this, the apostle speake.