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lel. For, when the bishop of Rome had claimed and was acknowledged to be the infallible head, the supreme pastor of the church, the vicar of Christ, &c. when emperors and kings took upon them to convene councils to explain doetrines, and establish faith by dint of civil authority; cherishing and upholding one party by worldly bonours and preferments; but terrifying and crushing others by banishment, confiscations, imprisonment and death: finally; when the clergy had both the terrors and the riches of this world, much at their disposal; and the spirit of true piety, fortitude and faith began to languish in the church, (as it miserably languished, in the times when image worship and transubstantiation were brought in) and a spirit of pride and domination, of sensuality and sloth sprung up in its room :- When this, I say, was the case, such an universal departure from the apostles' doctrine and practice may seem easily to be accounted for, and bas nothing in it so strange. But—when the circumstances of the church were the very reverse of all this; harrassed and severely pressed by persecutions from without; split into various sects and angry parties within; destitute of worldly honours to recommend, and of worldly terrors to enforce any doctrine or practice; and acknowledging no visible, supreme, infallible head, as having dominion over its faith; when this was the case (as in the three first centuries, when infant baptism has been shewn universally to prevail, it manifestly was,) every one sees the wide, the vast difference ; and must confess the impossibility of so universally corrupting the apostolic doctrine and practice of baptising only the adult, if any such there had been; and of foisting in, throughout the whole world, infant baptism in its stead.
Su that, upon the whole, it appears a clear and
a very strongly attested fact :- That the practice, of baptising infants was primitive and apostolic; and that the first christian churches were every where formed and established upon this scheme.
But the examples of scripture-baptism, our brethren are wont to urge, are all on their side.This is confidently, indeed, asserted; but upon a closer examination will be found a manifest mistake. There being not, in the whole scripture, one single instance of the baptism for which they plead, and which is practised amongst them; viz. That those who are born of christian parents, are to be suffered to become adult before they are baptised.---This, it is to be observed carefully, is the point in question betwixt us. As for the case of adult proselytes, or converts to christianity, these, we all agree, are not to be baptised till they personally profess faith. The scripture instances therefore of such proselytes, baptised upon such profession, are of no pertinence nor weight at all in the controversy before us : for these are exactly consonant to our sentiments and practice. The only point in debate is—what is to be done with the infants of these proselytes ?--Are they to be baptised with their parents ?---Or; are they to be let alone till they become adult, and then be baptised upon their personal profession? This latter, our brethren say; but have not in the whole scripture, I again affirm it, one instance of such practice ; no, nor any shadow or appearance of it. Their boasts, therefore, of scripture instances, precedents, examples, are meer sound, and nothing else. Whereas the instance of Lydia, Acts, xvi. 14, 15. (not to mention Stephanas and the Jaylor) strongly favours our practice; whose faith alone is mentioned, and, iinmediately it is added, her household were baptised.
The RELIGIOUS or Moral purposes of
Infant-Baptism. IF it be asked—what are the moral purposes of this Baptism of Infants? or, of what real benefit or use in religion? It were sufficient to reply—-of the same benefit and use as infant-circumcision was; which is acknowledged to have been enjoined by God, and practised by his church, for more than two thousand years.—But I add; it is of great moral benefit; as it is both a solemn vow or dedication on our part, and a gracious condescension and promise on God's.
FIRST. It is a solemn vow or dedication on our part. For, herein, the religious parent publickly recognises his own covenant with God: binds himself by a sacred promise to watch over the immortal soul now committed to his charge, and to train it up in a religious manner; and devotes first himself, and then bis helpless infant, to the divine patronage and care. By being baptised into the name, the child is solemnly given up to the dominion and favour, and is received as the peculiar property, the subject and charge, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.* And to one who well considers into what a world of various difficulties, temptations and sins, his infants are born; how every age and path of life is beset with dangers and snares; and what consequences, of awful moment, depend upon the manner in which they pass the present state :—to him that considers this, it cannot but appear an inestimable privilege to be permitted to give them up, in this
Baptising in (or unto) the name--signifies, commending a person to the peculiar blessing and patronage of him, or them, in whose name he is taptised. Thus, when the form of solemn benediction is described, Numb. vi. 23.—The Lord bless thee, and keep thee, &c. It is added--And they shall PUT MY NAME upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
solemn manner, to the gracious protection and conduct of heaven.
The sentiments of a religious parent, on such an occasion, may be thus expressed.—"I acknow
ledge, Almighty God, with the greatest thank"fulness and joy, thine absolute right in me, and " in all that is mine. This child, which thou hast
given me, I receive as from thine hand. It is thine, for thou hast formed it, and redeemed it by the blood of thine only begotten Son. To THEE therefore I now solemnly devote and give
it up: to be guarded by thy providence; minie stered to by thine angels; influenced by thy spi“ rit; conducted safe through the many dangers " and evils of this present world, and to be pre"served to thine everlasting kingdom and glory in " the other.
“ For ever blessed be thy name, that as by one * man's offence, Judgment came upon all to con“demnation and death; even so by the righteous"ness of one, the free gift comes upon all to jus
tification of life. That as the fatal effects of the “ first Adain's sin extended to our infant-offspring, “so, the salutary effects of the second Adam's
righteousness extend also to these, raising them to glory, to happiness and life,
“ I render unfeigned thanks, that the blessings “ of redemption and of the covenant of grace, “ reach also to them. That thou hast commanded " that little children be brought into thy presence
to receive thy solemn benediction, and hast de“ clared them to belong to thy family and king“ dom. That the baptismal water is appointed as “ a standing monument of thy favour and gra“cious acceptance of them; and that by this figure is represented, thy readiness to pour down thy spirit upon our seed, and thy blessing upon our offspring. *--Lord I believe! I most
tbank. * Isaiah xl. v. 3.
" fully accept this liberty which is given me. I “here bring my helpless infant, commending it to
God, and the power of his grace. Oh take it “into thy family, and into the arms of thy love! “ Pour down thy blessings on it, and write its
name in the book of life! May it be sanctified from the womb : consecrated a chosen vessel, “ fitted for thy service !
May thy spirit descend upon, and dwell continually in it, as a new principle of life; gradually rectifying the disorders of its nature; rooting out the seeds of vanity and folly which may spring up in its heart; enlightening its understanding, strengthening its moral
powers, purifying and controuling its appetites “and passions; and forming it into a living temple and habitation of God!
“Guard and preserve the life, which thou hast “thus graciously bestowed! Conduct it through " the dangers of childhood and youth! Spare it, “ if it be thy will, to be a blessing to its friends, " and a burning and shining light, amidst a dark
and corrupt world! As it grows in years, may “ it continually grow in grace, in wisdom, and in “ virtue, and in favour with God and men ! Grant
me, ever to walk before it with a wise and per“ fect heart; to bring it up in the fear and in the
nurture of the Lord: and so faithfully to dis“charge my duty, in every respect towards it, " that I may at last meet it with joy at thy king“ dom and appearance, and with triumph then
say-Behold me and the child which thou hast given me !"
And as it is thus a solemn vow and dedication on our part: so it is
SECONDLY. A most gracious condescension and promise on God's. It is a token of his covenant; à memorial or sign that he graciously accepts both the religious parent and his child, and that