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consistent, this ordinance should be administered as often as the fallen are restored. It is therefore, impossible, that any one, should, both believingly, and intelligently, observe this sacred institution, who admits that doctrine. The Scriptural principle is, once united to Christ, always united to him. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance; and Baptism is not to be repeated, because it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance. . God has made provision for uniting the soul only once into the Saviour. If it were possible (and blessed be the Lord it is not) to break this, union, it would be impossible ever to renew it.
Baptism then, is that Sacrament which signifies and seals, our engrafting into Christ, our partaking of the benefits of the Covenant of Grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's. Destroy this principle, and you destroy the ordinance. Attend to the practice of Baptism upon any other principle, and you do not attend to the ordinance of God at all_You do not worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Baptism is certainly a very significant rite, and shews forth many of the principal doctrines of the Gospel; but it is not, merely, on account of the illustrations of doctrines which it affords, that we esteem it a standing sacrament of the New Testament. Many ceremonies have been introduced into the worship of God, which in the hands of ingenious men appear very significant, and yet do not deserve to be recognized as ordinances of religious worship. Such are the numerous superstitions of the church of Rome. Baptism was practised by the Redeemer and his Apostles; but we do not esteem it as a sacrament, merely because they baptized; otherwise we should also practise washing the disciples' feet and leaning on a couch at the communion. The primitive Church baptized, but the bare example is not the fouridation upon which we rest this ordinance; for upon the same principle, should we restore into the class of sacraments extreme unction.
It is absolutely necessary to be well established in first principles in order to understand this subject. Reasoning from fixed principles is not so easy as declamation ; but he, who would understand the doctrine of Baptism, must not run uncertainly, nor fight as they
- that beat the air.' We consider Baptism as a sacrament of the New Testament, because upon a careful examination of the word of God, we find that Jesus Christ has appointed a 'washing with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be perpetually observed in his church, to signify and seal our union with Christ, and our engagement to be the Lord's.
That Baptism is a positive institution, and is not, independently of positive appointment, of any moral obligation, we do not pretend to deny. But every part of the doctrine for which we contend is supported by positive authority.
1. Christ has commanded his apostles to apply water in the name of the Trinity.
2. The obligation to this duty is not temporary but perpetual.
3. The use of water to the body is not the end of the commandment.
4. The water itself has no effect whatever on the Soul of man.
5. The water religiously applied is a visible sign and seal of union with Christ.
6. All persons in covenant with God and his church are to be baptized.
Every one of these assertions is capable of positive proof. Indeed, it is not expected, that any Anabaptist will be hardy enough to deny this. And yet the admission is death to the Anabaptist scheme. It is essential to that scheme, to exclude entirely such considerations. Its defenders cannot with safety admit even that Baptism is a sacrament. And they find it inuch better policy to divert the attention of ill-informed inquirers from the principle which we have been endeavouring to establish, by furnishing them with other objects of thought. They accordingly play upon words; but rarely discuss the doctrine. The true state of the question is very seldom introduced to notice in their controversial writings.
The subjects in dispute are all comprehended in the following propositions.
1. The Redeemer hath appointed two sacraments for the new testament Church. 2. Baptism is that sacrament which, by the application
of a sensible sign, seals our entrance into covenant with God.
3. The whole church of God is in covenant with him, and every member has an immediate right to the seal of Baptism.
4. Infant children are included along with their parents in the Church of God.. i · These are the principles upon which the controversy with the Anabaptists depends. And it is impossible that any man can intelligently take either side of it, without having his judgment made up respecting every one of these four propositions.
We do not blame the Anabaptists for refusing to bap. tize infants who do not belong to the Church of God. We do the same ourselves. It is a common duty. We do not blame Anabaptists for going into the water or under the water. It is an innocent exercise, if prudently practised. But we do blame them for what we believe to be, their ignorance of the dispensation of grace, and their transgression of the good order of the Church of God. We cannot be reconciled to that violation of the constitution of our Redeemer's kingdom, which renders all our infant children “strangers and foreigners." We cannot be reconciled to the practice which withholds the seal of God's covenant from the children of the covenant. We cannot. admit that doctrine of Baptism which denies it to be a symbol of our ingrafting into Christ; and we must display our testimony against every corruption of the doctrine of the sacraments of the New Testament. These are all pernicious principles; and we must oppose them. Had the practice of the Anabaptist Churches no connection with such principles we should be disposed to consider it as somewhat harmless. But as it is, we most earnestly, warn every inan to examine these principles attentively, and to rea gulate his practice accordingly.
The practical questions, respecting baptism, so far as the controversy with the Anabaptists is concerned, are only two. They are both of easy solution to him who understands the principles which we have stated.
1. Who appear to have that covenant union which is signified and sealed in Baptism, or, in other words, who. belong to the visible. Church?
2. What quantity of the element of water is necessa - ry to the constitution of a sensible symbol ?
These are, in fact, the questions in dispute. Whether infants are to be baptized or not, whether believers are to be baptized or not, depends entirely upon the former; and whether baptism is, by pouring water upon the faces or by dipping the body in water, depends entirely upon the latter.
1. Who, according to the constitution of the Church of God, are to be considered its members? These when ascertained are to be baptized. We wish this question examined. We are confident, that no man in his senses, would refuse Baptism to any one who is ful. ly recognized as a member of the Church. And we are equally confident that whether a believer or not, no man would admit to baptism any one whom we would not also admit as a member of the Church, without be ing guilty of gross inconsistency. The phrase “ believer baptism,' is a mere catch-word, fit only to answer party purposes. It deceives the hearts of the simple, it promotes spiritual pride, it encourages hypocrisy, and it is, in the present use of words, a falsehood. The Anabaptist churches must be persuaded too, that this phrase is not characteristic of their Baptism,
1. Because, they cannot judge the heart, and they know that, even by themselves, Baptism is frequently administered to hypocrites. But is hypocrite-baptism believer-baptism? It was the baptism of Simon Magus. True, it is said, Acts viii. 13.. Simon himself believed also. But is this the sense in which the Anabaptists use the word believer. If it is, then, is that word employed, by them, in a sense, which, in the present use of language, cannot but deceive.
2. The phrase "believer-baptism” must be confessed by the Anabaptists to convey, as employed by themselves, an untruth, because they will not baptize all be. lievers. A pious man who would not hear their minis, ters, and join in their communion, who would not consent to their form of gavernment, and modes of worship, in short, who would not become a member of their churches; such a man, though a true believer, would not be baptized by them. It is therefore evident that
the only question in dispute is, who belongs to the visible church?
That infants belong to the church of God, along with their parents who make an intelligent and consistent profession of true religion, is capable of the most un. equivocal proof. It is not a matter of remote or indirect inference. There is no part of the order of God's church more clearly revealed in the only rule of faith, the Holy Scriptures. Under every dispensation of divine grace this has been the case ; and it is still and ever will be the case. Before Moses, it is not denied to have been the case. For 1500 years between Moses and the Apostles, it is not denied that infants were, together with their parents, included in the church of God. And so careful was the head of the Church to prevent mistakes respecting the children, that by an express declaration he himself confirms their birthright. Matt. xix. 14. « Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Who then shall dare to cut off from his kingdom, those whom he peremptorily declares to belong to it? Mr. Booth, upon this text; quotes four different writers, and makes a very uncandid use of their commentaries upon the words. He represents them as giving up the cause ; because they acknowledge that these words do not directly prove infant Baptism. But we go further. We admit, that the text does not prove infant baptism or any baptism at all. We do not quote it for that purpose. But it declares what Mr. Booth denies-what Anabaptists deny. It declares most positively the church membership of infants. It is for this purpose alone that we quote the text. Of such is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the church, the kingdom of Christ The peculiar empire of the Redeemer. And such little children are said to belong to it. Let them not therefore be prevented from approaching its King and Lawgiver. Every other explanation of the passage charges our Lord with using a very fallacious mode of reasoning.
Is the meaning of the passage, “ pious people are of a child-like-humble disposition ?”. Then does our Lord employ a false argument. “ Suffer little children to come unto me, for every Saint must be humble." We dare not ascribe such reasoning as chis to him who