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“ dulous and weak, that shall be determined by so weak a probation in a “ matter of so great concernment "."
Tertullian is the next writer quoted as giving plain proof that Infant-baptism was the constant practice of the church in his day: he is the first person known to have made any mention of it ; who, as soon as he did, argued against it, and diffuaded from it; and though it will be owned, that it was moved in his day, and debated; yet that it was practised, and much less constantly practised, has not yet been proved.
The next evidence produced is Cyprian, who lived in the middle of the third century; and it will be allowed that it was practised in the African churches in his time, where it was first moved, and at the saine time Infant-communion was practised also; of the practice of which we have as early proof as of Infant-baptism; and this furnishes with an answer to this author's questions, P. 42. When Infant-baptism was introduced, and by whom? It was introduced at the time Infant-communion was, and by the same persons. As for the testimonies of Ambrose, Austin, and Pelagius, they might have been spared, since they wrote in the fourth century, when it is not denied that Infant-baptism very much prevailed; of Auftin, and particularly of what Pelagius says, see Argument from apostolic tradition, p. 19–26. Antipædobaptism, p. 33–37. And from hence it appears, that it is not true what this author suggests, p. 42, 52. that infant-baptism was the universal practice of the primitive churches in the three first centuries, called the purest times; when it does not appear to have been practised at all until the third century, when sad corruptions were made in doctrine and practice.
Eightbly, This author proposes to answer some of the most material objections against Infant-baptism, p. 43, &c. as, 1." That there is no express " command for it in scripture, and therefore unwarrantable.” To which the answer is ; thac if there is no express command, there are virtual and implicit ones, which are of equal force with an express one, and no less than four are observed; one command is enough, this is over-doing it, and what is overdone is not well done : but let us hear them; the first is God's command to Abraham to circumcise his infant-children, which is a virtual and implicit com. mand to believers to baptize theirs ! The reason is, because they are Abraham's spiritual feed, and heirs according 10 the promise ; but the command to Abraham only concerned his natural, not his spiritual seed ; and if there is any force in the reason given, or the command lays any obligation on the lacter, their duty is not to baptize, but circumcise their children ; since the facramental rite com
manded, a Liberty of prophesying, p. 320. See the Reply, p. 19, 20. Argument from apostolic Tradition, p. 16, 17. Antipædobaptifm, p. 24-29.
manded, it seems, has never been repealed, and still remains in full force. The next virtual and implicit command is in Matthew xix. 14. but Chrift's permision of children to come, or to be brought unto him, there spoken of, was not for baptism, or to be baptized by him, but for him to pray for them, and touch them, in order to cure them of diseases. Another implicit, if not express command, to baptize infants, is in Matthew xxviii. 19. This has been considered, and disproved already; fee p. 99. The fourth and last implicit command, the author mentions, is the exhortation in his text, Aets ii. 38, 39. in which, as has been shewn, there is not the least hint of Infant-baptism, nor any thing from whence it can be concluded.
This author obferves, that since virtual and implicit commands are looked on as fufficient to determine our conduct in other things, then why not in this? such as keeping the first-day-sabbath, attendance on public worship, and the admiffion of women to the Lord's-supper. To which I reply, he has not proved any virtual and implicit command to baptize infants; and as to che cases mentioned, besides implications, there are plain instances in scripture of the practice of them; and let like instances of Infant-baptism be produced, and we shall think ourselves obliged to practise it. As to what this author says of an exprefs, irrepealable command to children, to receive the feal of the covenant, and the constant practice of the church to administer the seal of it to them; if by the covenant is meant the covenant of grace, it never had
such seal as is suggested, which has been proved; nor has it any but the blood of Christ, called the blood of the everlasting covenant.
2. Another objection to Infant-baptism is; there is no express instance in all the history of the New-Testament of an Infant-child being baptized, and therefore is without any scripture-example. To which is replied, by observing that whole housholds were baptized; as there were, and which have been already considered ; and these were baptized, not upon the conversion of the parent, or head of the family, but upon their own faith; and so were not infants, but adult persons; though this author thinks that such accounts would easily be understood to include children, had the same been said of circumcision. They might so, when circumcision was in force and use ; for this very good reason, because there was a previous express command extant to circumcise children, when there is none to baptize infants. He further observes, that from there being no express mention of Infant-baptism in the New Testament, it should not be concluded there was none, any more than that the churches of Antioch, IcoVOL. II.
• Matt. xix. 13. Mark x, 13. of the sense of this text see the Reply, p. 50-52.
nium, of the Romans, Galatians, Thessalonians and Colossians, were not baptized, because there is no express account of it in the history of the New Testament: but of several of those churches there is mention made of the baptism of the members of them, of the Romans, Galatians and Colossians, Rom. vi. 3,4. Gal. iii. 27. Col. ii. 12. but what this author might imagine would press us hard, is to give a scripture-example of our own present practice. Our present practice, agreeable to scripture-examples, is not at all concerned with the parents of those baprized by us, whether believers or unbelievers, christians or not chrif. cians, Jews or Heathens, this comes not into consideration; it is only concerned with the persons themselves to be baptized, what they are. It seems, if we give a scripture-example of our practice, it must be of a person born and brought up of christian or baptized parents, that was baptized in adult years; but our present practice is not limited to such persons. We baptize many whose parents we have no reason to believe are christians, or are baptized persons; and be it that we baptize adult persons, who are born and brought up of christian or baptized parents, a scripture-example of such a person might indeed be required of us with some plausible pretext, if the history of the Acts of the Apostles, which this writer says continued above thirty years, had given an account of the yearly or of frequent additions of members to the churches mentioned in it, during that space of tiine; whereas that history only gives an account of the first planting of chose churches, and of the baptism of those of which they first confifted; wherefore to give instances of those that were born of them, and brought up by them as baptized in adult years, cannot be reasonably required of us : But, on the other hand, if Infant-children were admitted to baptism in those times, upon the faith and baptism of their parents, and their becoming christians; it is strange! exceeding strange! that among the many thousands that were baptized in JeruJalem, Samaria, Corinth, and other places, that there should be no one instance of any of them bringing their children with them to be baptized, and claiming the privilege of baptism for them upon their own faith, or of their doing this in any short time after; this is a case that required no length of time; and yet not a single instance can be produced.
3. A third objection is, that “ infants can receive no benefit from baptism, “ because of their incapacity; and therefore are not to be baptized.” To which our author answers; that they are capable of being entered into covenant with God, of the seal of the covenant, of being cleansed by the blood of Christ, and of being regenerated by his Spirit: And be it so; what of all this ! as I have observed in the Reply, p. 4. Are they capable of understanding the nature, design, and use of the ordinance of baptism ? Are they capable of
professing faith in Christ, which is a prerequisite to it, and of exercising it in it? Are they capable of answering a good conscience to God in it? Are they capable of submitting to it in obedience to the will of Christ, from love to him, and with a view to his glory ? They are not: what benefit then can they receive by baptism ? and to what purpose is it to be administered to them? If infants receive any advantage, benefit, or blessing by baptism, which our infants have not without it, let it be named, if it can ; if none, why administered? why all this zeal and contention about it? a mere noise about nothing.
4. A fourth and most common objection, it is said, is, that “ faith and re“ pentance, or a profession of them at least, are mentioned in the New Testa“ ment as the necessary prerequisites of baptism, of which children are incap" able, and therefore of the ordinance itself.” To this it is answered; that children are capable of the habit and principle of faith : which is not denied, nor is it in the objection ; and it is granted by our author, that a profesion of faith is a prerequisite to baptism in adult persons, who embrace christianity ; but when they have embraced it, and professed their faith, in the apostles cimes, not only themselves, but their housholds, and all that were theirs, were bapcized. It is very true, those professing their faith also, as did the houshold of the Jailor, of whom it is said, that he was believing in God with all his house : His family believed as well as he, which could not have been known, had they not professed it. The instance of a professing stranger embracing the Jewish religion, in order to his circumcision, which, when done, it was always admi. nistered to his family and children, makes nothing to the purpose; since it is no rule of procedure to us, with respect to a gospel-ordinance.
Ninthly, The performance under consideration is concluded with observing many absurdities, and much confusion, with which the denial of Infanc-baptism, as a divine institution, is attended. As,
1. It is saying the covenant made with Abrabam is not an everlasting one ; that believers under the gospel are not Abraham's feed, and heirs of his promise; that the ingrafted Gentiles do not partake of the fame privileges in the church, from which the Jews were broken off; and that the privileges of the gospeldispensation are less than those of the law: all which are said to be flat contradictions to scripture. To all which I reply, that the covenant of grace nade with, and made known to Abraham, is an everlasting covenant, and is sure to all the seed; that is, the spiritual seed; and is not at all affected by Infantbaptism, that having no concern in it. The covenant of circumcision, though called an everlasting covenant, Gen. xvii. 7. was only to continue unto the times of the Messiah ; and is so called, just in the same sense, and for the same reason,
the covenant of priesthood with Phineas has the same epither, Numb. xxv. 13. Believers under the gospel are Abraham's spiritual feed, and heirs of the same promie of spiritual things; but these spiritual things, and the promise of them, do not belong to their natural seed as such; the believing Gentiles, ingrafted into the gospel church-state, partake of all the privileges of it, from which the unbelieving Jews are excluded, being for their unbelief left out of that ftare. The privileges of the gospel-dispensation are not less, yea far greater than those of the law; to believers, who are freed from the burdenfome rites and ceremonies of the law, have larger measures of grace, a clearer ministration of the gospel, and more spiritual ordinances ; nor are they less to their infants, who are eased from the painful site of circumcision, have the advantage of a christian education, and of hearing the gospel as they grow up, in a clearer manner than under the law; which are greater privileges than the Jewish children had under the former dispensation ; nor are all, nor any of these affected, or to be contradicted, by the denial of Infant-baptism.
2. It is observed, that to deny the validity of Infant-baptism, is saying that " there was no true baptism in the church for eleven or twelve hundred years " after Christ; and that the generality of the present professors of christianity “ are now a company of unbaptized heathens,” p. 52. fo p. 10. To which I reply, that the true baptism continued in the church in the first two centuries ; and though Infant-baptism was introduced in the third, and prevailed in the fourth, yet in both these centuries there were those that opposed it, and abode by the true baptism. Besides, in the vallies of Piedmont, as many learned men have observed, there were witnesses from the times of the apostles, who bore their testimony against corruptions in doctrine and practice, and among whom Infant-baptism did not obtain until the sixteenth century; so that the true bap. tism continued in the church till that time, and it has ever since; see the Reply, P. 31, 32. As for the generality of the present professors of christianity, it lies upon them to take care of their character, and remove from it what may be thoughe disagreeable; and clear themselves of it, by submitting to the true baptism according to the order of the gospel. As to the salvation of persons in or out of the visible church, which is the greater number, this author speaks of, I know nothing of; salvation is not by baptism in any way, but by Chrift alone.
3. It is said, if Infant-baptism is a divine institution, warranted by the word of God, then they that are baptized in their adult age neceffarily renounce a divine institution, and an ordinance of Jesus Christ, and vacate the former covenant between God and them. If it be; but it is not a divine inftitution, nor an