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to himself by gratuitous adoption? 8. He objects, that if they are new men, they ought to be fed with spiritual food. The answer is easy; that they are admitted into the flock of Christ by baptism, and that the symbol of that adoption is sufficient for them, till they grow to an age capable of bearing solid food: and that it is therefore necessary to wait for the time of that examination, which God expressly requires in the sacred Supper. 9. He next objects, that Christ invites all his people to the sacred Supper. I answer; it is sufficiently clear that he admits none but such as are already prepared to celebrate the remembrance of his death. Whence it follows, that infants, whom he condescended to take into his arms, remain in a distinct and peculiar class, till they grow to riper years, and yet that they are not strangers to the Church. To this he objects, that it is a monstrous thing for a person that is born, not to eat. I reply, that the external participation of the Supper is not the only way in which souls are fed; and therefore that Christ is food to infants, notwithstanding they abstain from the sign: but that the case of baptism is different, by which alone they are admitted into the Church. He further objects, that “a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, giveth them meat in due season.” (p) This I readily grant; but by what authority will he determine the time of baptism for us, so as to prove that it is not administered to infants at a proper time? 10. He likewise adduces the command of Christ to his apostles, to hasten to the harvest, while the fields are whitening. (9) The sole design of Christ on that occasion was to stimulate the apostles, that seeing the present fruit of their labours, they might exert themselves in their ministry with the greater cheerfulness. Who can infer from this, that the time of harvest is the only time proper for baptism? 11. His next argument is, that in the primitive Church, Christians and disciples were the same persons. (r) But here we see that he injudiciously reasons from a part to the whole. The appellation of disciples was given to persons of adult age, who had been already instructed, and had made a profession of Chris
(p) Matt. xxiv. 45.
(9) John ir. 35-38.
(1) Acts xi. 26.
tianity; just as the Jews under the law were the disciples of Moses: yet no one can justly infer from this, that infants were strangers, God having declared them to be part of his family. 12. Moreover he alleges, that all Christians are brethren, but that we treat infants as not of that number, as long as we exclude them from the Lord's Supper. But I return to that principle, that none are heirs of the kingdom of heaven, except those who are members of Christ: and that the embrace with which he honoured infants was a true pledge of the adoption, by which they are united with adults, and that their temporary abstinence from the Supper does not prevent them from belonging to the body of the Church. The thief who was converted on the cross was
cross was a brother of the faithful, though he never partook of the Lord's Supper at all. 13. He proceeds to assert, that no person becomes our brother but by the spirit of adoption communicated “ by the hearing of faith.” (s) I reply, that he is constantly reverting to the same false reasoning, by a preposterous application to infants of that which is spoken exclusively of adults. Paul is there shewing that the ordinary method which God uses in calling his elect, and bringing them to the faith, is to raise them up faithful teachers, by whose labours and instructions he extends his assistance to them. But who will dare to impose a law to prevent his ingrafting infants into Christ by some other secret method? 14. He objects, that Cornelius was baptised after he had received the Holy Ghost. (t) But the absurdity of attempting to extract a general rule from this one example, is evident from the cases of the eunuch and the Samaritans, (v) in whom the Lord observed a different order, for their baptism preceded their reception of the gifts of the Spirit. 15. His next argument is worse than absurd: he says that by regeneration we are made gods: (x) but that they are gods to whom the word of God comes, (y) which is not applicable to infants. The ascription of deity to the faithful is one of his reveries, which it is irrevelant to our present subject to discuss: but to pervert that quotation from the Psalms to a sense so remote from its genuine meaning, betrays the most monstrous impu
(3) Gal. iii. 2
(1) Acts s. 44-48. (v) Acts viji. 16, 17, 26, kc. (y) John x. 35. Psalm lxxxii. 6.
dence. Christ says that the appellation of gods is given by the prophet to kings and magistrates, because they sustain an office of divine appointment. But that which is directed to certain individuals respecting the particular charge of governors, this dextrous interpreter applies to the doctrine of the gospel, in order to exclude infants from the Church. 16. He objects again, that infants cannot be accounted new creatures, because they are not begotten by the word. I must again repeat, what I have so often remarked, that the doctrine of the gospel is the incorruptible seed, to regenerate those who are capable of understanding it; but that where by reason of age there is not yet any capacity of learning, God has his different degrees of regenerating those whom he has adopted. 17. Then he returns to his allegories, and alleges that sheep and goats were not offered in sacrifice immediately after they were brought forth. (2) If I approved of the application of figures to this subject, I might easily retort, that all the first-born immediately on their birth are consecrated to the Lord, (a) and that a lamb was to be sacrificed in its first year: whence it should follow, that it is not at all necessary to wait for many years, but that our children ought to be dedicated to God in their earliest infancy. 18. He further contends, that none can come to Christ but those who have been prepared by John. As though the office of John had not been a temporary one. But to pass over this; the children whom Christ took up in his arms and blessed, had certainly no such preparation. Wherefore let him depart with his false principle. 19. At length he calls in the assistance of Trismegistus and the Sibyls, to shew that sacred ablutions are not suitable to any but adults. See what honourable sentiments he entertains respecting the baptism of Christ, which he would conform to the profane rites of the heathens, that its administration might be regu. lated by the pleasure of Trismegistus. But we have more reverence for the authority of God, who hath been pleased to consecrate infants to himself, and to initiate them by a sacred sign, the meaning of which they were too young to be able to understand. Nor do we esteem it lawful to borrow from the
(2) Exod. xii. 5.
(a) Exod. xii. 12. Numb. viii. 17.
ablutions of the heathens any thing that may introduce into our baptism the least change of that eternal and inviolable law which God hath established respecting circumcision. 20. In the last place, he argues, that if it be lawful to baptise infants without understanding, baptism may be mimically and jocularly administered by boys in play. But he must contest this subject with God, by whose command circumcision was performed upon infants, before they had attained any understanding. Was it a ludicrous ceremony, then, or a fit subject for the sports of children, that they could overturn the sacred institution of God? But it is no wonder that these reprobate spirits, as if transported with frenzy, bring forward the most enormous absurdities in defence of their errors; for such delusion is the just judgment of God upon their pride and obstinacy. And I trust I have clearly shewn the futility of all the arguments with which Servetus has endeavoured to assist the cause of his anabaptist brethren.
XXXII. No doubt, I conceive, can now remain in the mind of any sober man, that those who raise controversies and contentions on the subject of infant baptism are presumptuous disturbers of thc Church of Christ. But it is worth while to notice the object which Satan aims at pruinoting by so much subtilty; which is, to deprive us of the peculiar benefit of confidence and spiritual joy, which is to be derived from this source, and in the same degree also to diminish the glory of the divine goodness. For how delightful is it to pious minds, not only to have verbal assurances, but even ocular proof, of their standing so high in the favour of their heavenly Father, that their posterity are also the objects of his care? For here we see how he sustains the character of a most provident Father to us, since he discontinues not his solicitude for us even after our death, but regards and provides for our children. Ought we not, then, after the example of David, to exult in praise and thanksgiving to God with our whole heart that his name may be glorified by such an expression of his goodness? This is evidently the reason why Satan makes such great exertions in opposition to infant baptism; that the removal of this testimony of the grace of God may cause the promise which it exhibits before our eyes gradually to disappear, and at
length to be forgotten. The consequence of this would be, an impious ingratitude to the mercy of God, and negligence of the instruction of our children in the principles of piety. For it is no small stimulus to our education of them in the serious fear of God, and the observance of his law, to reflect, that they are considered and acknowledged by him as his children as soon as they are born. Wherefore, unless we are obstinately determined to reject the goodness of God, let us present to him our children, to whom he assigns a place in his family, that is, among the members of his Church.
The Lord's Supper and its Advantages. AFTER God hath once received us into his family, and not only so as to admit us among his servants, but to number us with his children; in order to fulfil the part of a most excellent father, solicitous for his offspring, he also undertakes to sustain and nourish us as long as we live: and not content with this, he hath been pleased to give us a pledge, as a further assurance of this never-ceasing liberality. For this purpose, therefore, by the hand of his only begotten Son, he hath favoured his Church with another Sacrament, a spiritual banquet, in which Christ testifies himself to be the bread of life, to feed our souls for a true and blessed immortality. Now, as the knowledge of so great a mystery is highly necessary, and on account of its importance, requires an accurate explication; and, on the other hand, as Satan, in order to deprive the Church of this inestimable treasure, long ago endeavoured, first by mists, and afterwards by thicker shades, to obscure its lustre, and then raised disputes and contentions to alienate the minds of the simple from a relish for this sacred food, and in our time also has attempted the same artifice: after having exhibited a summary of what relates to the subject, adapted to the capacity of the unlearned, I will disentangle it from those sophistries with which Satan has been labouring to deceive the VOL. III.