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This is what reason, I say, surmises and hopes; but cannot certainly conclude. It wants some revelation, some promise from God, to give stability and vigor to these wavering hopes. And under all the conflicts and pains which he sees his dying child suffer, the pious parent has nothing, from the light of nature, whereon to trust, but the uncovenanted goodness and mercy of God. Now, were it not, in these circumstances, a most desirable thing, that God would give us some revelation or promise concerning our infants? Some covenant to assure us, that they are the objects of his favour and peculiar regard; and that as they suffer and die in this world, so they shall be raised again to life and happiness in the other? Was not, I ask, some such covenant, revelation or promise, concerning our infants, what nature greatly wanted, wished for and desired; and, if God should be pleased to grant it ought it not to be highly valued and most thankfully received ?* Behold !
There is a very rational and just sense, in which God may be said to establish his covenant with INFANTS. For the scripture expressly says, Gen. ix. 9, 10, 12, 13. that he estaba lished his covenant, even, with the cattle and the fowl ; solemnly engaging no more to drown them by a flood. Is there any thing strange, then, or unreasonable, in God's establishing his covenant with infants ; solemnly engaging to pour his spirit and blessing on them. Or, that the evils they sutfer in consequence of Adam's sin, shall be removed and amply recompensed through the righteousness of Christ? Most surely not at all.
But, if there is a rational and just sense, in which God may establish his covenant with INFANTS, there is the highest reason to presume that he actually has done it, and that they are taken into his covenant; for if he graciously condescended - to establish his covenant with the brute creation, promising no more to deluge them; and appointed a standing token or memorial of this covenant, viz, the bow in the clouds; much more, surely may we hope, that he hath established his covenant also with infants, promising to deliver them from the fatal
SECONDLY. This we see done in the ABRAHAMIC DISPENSATION. For as God's covenant transactions with Abraham was the foundation, or charter of the church, which, in after ages, he intended to gather, and to erect amongst men ; so he, here gives pious parents an express promise and revelation concerning their infants. He promises to be a God to Abraham, and to his seed; and takes his infants into covenant, together with himself; commanding the token of the covenant to be solemnly affixed to them, as a standing testimony or sign that JEHOVAH was their God. See Gen. xvii. 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14. God said, I will establish my covenant between me, and thee (Abraham) and thy seed after thee, in their generations; to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after theeand I will be their God. This is my covenant which
ye shall keep-every man-child among you, that is eight days old, shall be circumcised. The uncircumcised man-child shall be cut off from his people. Circumcision then, by God's express command, was affixed to Abraham's infants, and to the infants of all such as believed in the God of Abraham, as a token of his covenant; which covenant was, that Jehovah would be their God.
Now, when the Almighty covenants and promises to be the God of these infants, what does it imply? Undoubtedly something great, viz. that he will be, in a peculiar manner, their guardian and benefactor ; that he will take them under the especial patronage and care of his providence, influences of his spirit, and ministration of his angels; and that if they died in their infant state, before any transgression had put them out of the covenant, they should certainly be raised to an happiconsequences of the fall; and that he has appointed a standing token or sign of this covenant, to perpetuate its knowledge and remembrance in the church.
ness after death. That this was the undoubted import or meaning of this promise, the scripture hath clearly taught us.- Now that the dead are raised Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleih the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, &c.* And again, God is not ashamed to be called their God'; for he hath prepared for them a city,t i. e. an happiness in some future state. And again, I will be his God, I is explained by, he shall be my Son : but whoever is a son of God, and dies in that relation, will infallibly be declared or manifested to be such by a glorious resurrection. See Rom. viii. 19. LUKE XX. 36.
That this token of the Abrahamic covenant, assured a resurrection to future happiness to an infant dying under it, may be further proved thus:Suppose one of Abraham's circumcised infants lay languishing under tormenting, pains, and gave up the ghost? An infidel stands by, and seeing the mark in its flesh, scoffingly asks—what that mark means? He is told, it is a token of the covenant into which Jehovah took the child; and by which he solemnly declared, that he received it as his own, and engaged to be its God. But what gets the child, the infidel demands, by having Jehovah for its God? Is he not ashamed to be called the God of that emaciated, tortured, breathless infant? No, it is replied, because he will raise it from the dead, and give it happiness in a future state. Else, indeed, he would be ashamed to be called the God of such a babe. But we proceed to consider :
THIRDLY. The Mosaic DISPENSATION; and the farther strength which this gives to these rational
* Luke xx. 37. A state of death, is a state of punishment; God's calling himself then, the God of Abraham, when he lay in a state of death, was a clear proof that he would not leave him always to continue in it. + Heb. xi. 16.
1 Rcy, sxi. 7.
hopes. Now, here, we see another covenant, besides that of circumcision, into which infants were taken. Deut. xxix. 10, 11, 12. Ye stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God; your captains, your elders, your little-ones, your wives, that thou shouldst enter into covenant with the Lord thy God: that he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself; and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham &c.—So Ezek. xvi. 20. 21. Moreover, thou hast taken thy sons, and thy daughters, which thou hast born unto me; and these hast thou sacrificed unto the idols : thou hast slain my children.* —Hence then, it is most evident, that the Jewish infants, in consequence of their dedication to God, and admission into his covenant, were in a peculiar manner his; his property, and his children, in a sense in which the infants of the idolatrous and uncircumcised gentiles were not. But of these, multitudes, no doubt, died in their infant state. What now might be concluded concerning the case of such? Undoubtedly this :-That, as they died in covenant with God, (by which covenant he had engaged to take them for a people to himself, to acknowledge them as his children, and to be to them a God) and as no advantage nor happiness was given them in this world, at all answerable to these characters; but they miserably languished, like all other infants, and at last died under the primitive condemnation or judgment, it therefore certainly remained, that they will be raised again and exist in some after state ; where an happiness will be given them suitable to these great proinises, and where they will
• A child on the day of its circumcision, was wont to be called Chatan, because it was then considered as espoused to God, and united to his people. Vid. Schindler in Verb. Lexic. Pent. page 677.
be treated as the people and the children of God. For else, God would plainly seem to have broken bis covenant; and the solemn and grand promise of being a God to such an infant, and of taking it for his child, provès a very meán and insignificant thing.
These are the hopes which REASON surmises, and which the several dispensations both of ABRAHAM, and of Moses, strongly confirm. We proceed to observe:
FOURTHLY. How they are farther brightened by the DISPENSATION OF JESUS CHRIST. As this was to be the last, and the most perfect display of God's mercy to fallen men; in which the riches of his abounding grace were to be most fully revealed; it can never be imagined to come short, in any points of the two former dispensations. Did God take the infants of believers into covenant with himself, under Abraham and Moses; and command that, as a standing token of it, the seal of the covenant should be solemnly affixed to them; but, under Jesus his Son, has he made no such manifestation of his merciful regard to them; admitted them visibly into no covenant; nor appointed any token that he receives them as his children, and that he will be to them a God? How utterly unlikely, as well as uncomfortable is the thought. Thanks to his mercy !--We can with good assurance say, that is not the case!
No. When infants were once brought to our Saviour, to be made partakers of the blessings of his kingdom: he openly and severally rebuked his disciples, and was highly displeased with them, for endeavouring to hinder it. He kindly took them (infants) into his arms, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them: and commanded that little chil. dren should be suffered to come, i.e. be brought, to him and not be forbidden; declaring that of such