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Mr BOSTWICK's Fair and Rational Vindication of the
Right of Infants to the Ordinance of Baptism.
A LONG with Mr Clark's Defence of the divine Right 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 Axts 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 ftri&ures upon it, though there is nothing in it but what is answered in the above Reply; to which I shall greatly refer the seader. 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 lide 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
understood a. The O&avo Edit, is referred to all along.
understood, not of infant-children, but of the adult posterity of the Jews ; lince 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 baptisın is founded by chis 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 sanie 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, that if this covenant is not the cove. nant 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 superstructure 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 Abraham, both before and after the flood, who had no right to circumcision, nor knowledge 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 seed, for his feinale 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 ifhmael, 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 Ifaiab, 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 Gin in the times of Christ; these cannot be thought to be in the covenant of grace.
In short, all were not Israel 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-faines no right unto it, who were four thousand years without it, and yet in the covenant of grace; and since 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 noc make a profesion 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 satisfied 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 confeffion of his faith in him, in order to his baptism ; for with the mouth confesion 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 Abra. ham 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 Vol. II.
feed; feed; and that the spiritual feed of Abraham, both among Jews and Genciles. are interested in the same covenant; but not his carnal seed, nor theirs as such: and that Abrakom 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 circumcilion was given unto hiin, there was an exhibition of the covenant of grace unto hiin: 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, since 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 Christ 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; besides the covenant of circuincision is abolished, but the covenant of grace continues, and ever will; see niy 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 caken 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 righe che 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 coo; 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 said to be, p. 22. If it was, the covenant of grace must be without such a seal near cwo 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 same 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 seal 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.