« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr BOSTWICK's Fair and Rational Vindication of the
Right of Infants to the Ordinance of Baptism.
ALONG with Mr Clark's Defence of the divine Rigbt of Infant-baptism, to
which what is written above is a Reply, there has been imported from America a treatise, called, A fair and rational Vindication of the Right of Infants to the Ordinance of Baptism; being the substance of several discourses from Aas ii. 39. by David Bostwick, A. M. late minister of the Presbyterian church in the city of New York, which has been reprinted and published here ; and as it comes in company with the former, it is but a piece of civility to take some notice of it, and make some few strictures upon it, though there is nothing in it but what is answered in the above Reply; to which I shall greatly refer the reader. There is scarce a single thought through the whole of it, that I can discern, is new; nothing but crambe repetita, old stale reasonings and arguments, which have been answered over and over; and yet this, I understand, has been cried up as an unanswerable performance ; which I do not wonder at, that any chidg that has but an appearance of reasoning, candour, and ingenuity, as this will be allowed to have, should be so reckoned by those of that party; when the most miserable pamphlet that comes out on that side of the question, has the same epithet bestowed upon it. And,
First, This Gentleman has mistook the sense of his text, on which he grounds his discourse concerning the Right of infants to baptism, Aits ii. 39. for the promise is unto you, and to your children ; and to all that are afar off ; even as many as the Lord our God shall call; by which promise, he says, p. 14, 15. mult
be understood, “ the covenant-promise made to Abraham, which gave
his “ infant.children a right to the ordinance of circumcifion;" when there is not the least mention made of Abraham, nor of any covenant-promise made to him in it; nor was ever any covenant-promise made to him, giving his infant-children a right to the ordinance of circumcision, but the covenant of circumcision'; and that can never be meant here by the promise ; sinee this is faid to be to all that are afar off; by whom, according to this Gentleman, Gentiles are meant; to whom the covenant of circumcision belonged not; nor did it give co them any right to the ordinance of circumcision, except they became proselytes to the Jewish religion : besides, be the promise here what it may, it is observed, not as giving any right or claim to any ordinance whatever ; but as an encouraging motive to persons in distress under a sense of fin, to repent of their sin, and declare their repentance, and yield a voluntary subjection to the ordinance of baptism; when they might hope that remission of fin would be applied to them, and they should receive a larger measure of the grace of the Spirit ; and therefore can only be understood of adult persons; and the promise is no other than the promise of life and salvation by Christ, and of remisfion of sins by his blood, and of an increase of grace from his Spirit : and whereas the persons addressed had imprecated the blood of Christ, they had shed, upon their posterity, as well as on themselves, which greatly distressed then ; they are told, for their relief, that the same promise would be made good to their pofterity also, provided they did as they were directed to do; and to all their brethren the Jews, in diftant parts; and even to the Gentiles, fometimes described as afar off, of the same character with themselves, repenting and submitting to baptism ; yea, to all, in all ages and places, whom God should now, or hereafter call by his grace; see my Reply to Mr Clark, p. 50, 51". This text is so far from being an unanswerable argument for the right of infants to baptifm, as it is said to be, that there is not the least mention of Infant-baptism in it; nor any hint of it; nor any thing from whence it can be concluded. The baptism encouraged to by ic is only.of adult persons convinced of sin, and who repented of it. The passage in Aas iii. 25. brought for the. support of the author's sense of his text, is foreign to his purpose; since it refers not to the covenant of circumcision made with Abrabam, Gen. xxii. but to the promise of the Messiah of Abraham's seed, and of the blessing of all nations in him,. Gen. xxii. 18. and which was fulfilled in the mission and incarnation of Christ, and in the ministration of his gospel to Jews and Gentiles; which same promise of Christ, of life and salvation by him, is meant in Aals xiii. 26, 32, 33, and which is also a proof, that the children to whom it belongs, are to be
understood 3. The O&avo Edit. is referred to all along,
understood, not of infant-children, but of the adult posterity of the Jews ; since the apostle says, God hath fulfilled the same to us their children; for surely the apostle Paul must not be reckoned an infanc-child.
Secondly, The ground on which the right of infants to baptisım is founded by this author is a false one; which is the covenant made with Abraham, that which gave his infant-children a right to circumcision, and is said to be the covenant of grace, the same under which believers now are. This he looks upon to be the grand turning point, on which the issue of the controversy very much depends; that it is the main ground on which the right of infants co bap. tism is afferied; and he freely confesses, chat if this covenant is not the covenant of grace, the main ground of infants right to baptism is taken away, and consequently, that the principal arguments in support of the doctrine are overcurned, p. 18, 19. Now that this ground and foundation is a false and fandy one, and will not bear the weight of this superftructure laid upon it, will appear by observing,
1. That the covenant of grace gives no right to any positive institution, either circumcision or baptism : not to circumcision; the covenant of grace was in being, was made, manifested, and applied to many, from Adam to Abrabam, both before and after the food, who had no right to circumcision, nor knowJedge of it; the covenant of grace did not give to Abraham himself a right to circumcision; he was openly interested in it, it was made, manifested, and applied unto him, many years before circumcision was enjoined him; and when it was, it was not the covenant of grace, but the express command of God, that gave him and his male feed a right to circumcision; I say his male feed, for his female seed, though no doubt many of them were interested in the covenant of grace, yet their covenant-interest gave them no righe unto it: as there were also many, at the same time that circumcision was enjoined Abraham and his natural seed, who were interested in the covenant of grace, and yet had no right to circumcision; as Shem, Arphaxad, Lot, and others : and on the other hand, it may easily be observed, that there were many who had a right to circumcision, and on whom it was practised; who, without any breach of charity, it may be concluded, had no interest in the covenant of grace; not to mention particular persons, as Ishmael, Esau, &c. many of the idolaters and rebels among the Israelites in the wilderness, of those that bowed the knee to Baal in the times of Abab, and of the worshippers of Jeroboam's calves; those that are called the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrab in the times of Isaiah, and that worshipped the queen and host of heaven in the times of Jeremiab; and those whose characters are given in the prophecy of Malachi, as then living;
with the Scribes and Pharisees, who committed the unpardonable fin in the times of Christ; these cannot be thought to be in the covenant of grace.
In short, all were not Ifrael that were of Israel, and circumcised : it is therefore clear to a demonstration, that interest in the covenant of grace did not give right to circumcision, but the special, particular, and express command of God: nor does it give right to baptism; it gave the Old Testament-saints no right unto it, who were four thousand years without it, and yet in the covenant of grace; and înce baptism is enjoined as an ordinance of the New Testament, a person may be in the covenant of grace, and yet not known to be lo by himself or others; and while he is in such a state, and in such circumstances, he cannot be thought to have any right to baptism. It is a command of God, , that those that repent and believe, be baptized; the covenant of grace provides faith and repentance for those interested in it, and bestows them on them ; whereby they are qualified for baptism according to the divine command. But it is not the covenant of grace, nor these qualifications, that give the right to baptism ; but the command of God to persons so qualified, to profess the same, and be baprized : for men may have faith and repentance, yet if they do not make a profession of them, they have no right to baptism, nor a minister any authority to administer it to them. No doubt but the apostle Peter was fatisfied that the three thousand pricked in their hearts were truly penitents; yet insisted on the profession of their repentance, as antecedent to baptism; and Philip, I make no question, was satisfied of the Eunuch’s being a believer in Christ by the conversation he had with him; yet required a confession of his faith in him, in order to his baptism ; for with the mouth confession is to be made unto salvation. Nor even according to our author's sentiment does the covenant of grace give a right to baptism ; since, according to him, persons are not in covenant before they are baptized; for he expressly says, p. 12, 30. that by baptism they enter into the covenant, and are taken into the covenant by baptism; and therefore baptism rather gives them a right to the covenant, than the covenant a right to baptism, according to this Gentleman: so far is it from being true what he elsewere says, p. 32. that the covenant of grace gave Abraham and his children a right to circumcision under the law; and that this it is that gives parents and children a right to baptism under the gospel.
2. The covenant of circumcision, or the covenant which gave Abraham's infant-children a right to circumcision, is not the covenant of grace; for the covenant of circumcision must be most certainly, in the nature of it, a covenant of works, and not of grace. It will be freely allowed, that the covenant of grace was at certain times made, and made manifest, and applied to Abraham, and he interested in it; and that God was the God of him, and of his spiritual
feed; and that the spiritual seed of Abraham, both among Jews and Gentiles, are interested in the same covenant; but not his carnal feed, nor theirs as such: and that Abraham was justified by faith, as believers now are; and that the same gospel was preached to him as now; and that at the same time the covenant of circumcision was given unto him, there was an exhibition of the covenant of grace unto bin: the account of both is mixed together; but then the covenant of circumcision, which was a covenant of peculiarity, and belonged only to him and his natural male feed, was quite a distinct thing from the covenant of grace, fince it included some that were not in the covenant of grace, and excluded others that were in it: nor is that the covenant that was confirmed of God in Chrift 430 years before the law was; since the covenant of circumcision falls 24 years short of that date, and therefore ic refers not to that, but to an exhibition of the covenant of grace to Abraham, about the time of his call out of Chaldea ; belides the covenant of circuncifion is abolished, but the covenant of grace continues, and ever will; see ny reply, p. 35, 36. Now as this covenant, which gave Abraham's infant-children a right to circumcision, is not the covenant of grace, the main ground on which the right of infants to baptism is afferted, is taken away, and so no foundation left for it; and consequently the principal argu.nenis in support of the doctrine are overturned, as this Gentleman freely confeffes ; and as every one should, who is in the same way of thinking and reasoning. If the covenant of circumcision is not the covenant of grace, here of right the controversy should be closed, since this is the turning point on which the issue of it very much depends ; for if this be false, all that follows as argued from it, must be so too; for,
Thirdly, If the covenant of circumcision is not the covenant of grace, then circumcision is not the seal of the covenant of grace it is faid to be, p. 22. If it was, the covenant of grace must be without such a seal near two thousand years, before the covenant of circumcision was given; and why not then always without one? besides, it must be with a seal and without a seal at one and fame time, which is absurd; for there were some interested in the covenant of grace as before observed, on whom circumcision was not enjoined, and so without this seal, when it was enjoined on Abraham and his natural seed, and there were such afterwards; and circumcision also must have been the real of itself, which is another absurdity. Circumcision was a token and sign, or mark in the flesh, which Abraham's natural pofterity were to bear until the coming of the Messiah; but is never called a seal throughout the whole Old Testament; and much less is it any where said to be a seal of the covenant of grace : and indeed what blessing of grace could it seal, assure of, and confirm, to any of Abraham's natural
feed ! Romans iv. II.