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drink,' iii. 4. yet that infants are not on this ground admitted to partake of the Lord's Supper.
They lay much stress likewise on Gen. xvii. 7. I. will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed aster thee.....in their generations. No one, however, will seriously affirm that this is to be understood of infants, and not of the adult posterity of Abraham in their generations, that is, successively. Otherwise, we must suppose that God intended to give the land also to infants, v. 8. and that infants are commanded to keep the covenant, v. 9. Again, Acts ii. 39. “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.' Your children, that is, as they understand it, your infants : in other words, God calls those who cannot understand, and addresses those who cannot hear; an interpretation which can only have proceeded from the infancy of reasoning. Had these commentators but read two verses farther, they would have found it expressly stated, they that gladly received his word were baptized ;' whence it appears that understanding and will were necessary qualifications for baptism, neither of which are possessed by infants. So also Acts viii. 37. “if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be baptized whereas infants, so far from believing with all their heart, are incapable of even the slightest degree of faith. With regard, however, to the text on which they insist so much, the promise is unto you and to your children,' if they had attended sufficiently to Paul's interpretation of this passage, Rom. ix. 7, 8. they would have understood that the promise was not to all seed indiscriminately, seeing that it was not
even to the seed of Abraham' according to the flesh," but only to the children of God,' that is, to believers, who alone under the gospel “are the children of the promise,' and are counted for the seed.' But none can be considered by the church as believers, till they have professed their belief. To those therefore to whom it does not appear that the promise was ever made, the church cannot with propriety give the seal of the promise in baptism.
Again, they allege, the analogy between baptism and circumcision, which latter was performed on infants.* Coloss. ï. 11. in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism'-. In the first place, there is no other analogy between being “circumcised' and being “buried with him in baptism, than that which exists among all sacraments by which the same thing is signified, the mode of signification being different. But, secondly, why is it necessary that things which are analogous should coincide in all points ? Of circumcision, for instance, women were not partakers; in baptism they are equally included with men, whether as being a more perfect sign, or a symbol of more perfect things. For circumcision, although a seal of the righteousness of faith,' Rom. iv. 11, 12. was such only to Abraham, who being uncircumcised had already believed, and to others who should believe in like manner; not to his posterity, who in after times were circumcised before they were of an age to exercise faith, and whó, con
* See Wall on Infant Baptism. Part II. Chap. x. Sect. 1. Bps. Burnet, Beveridge, and Tomline on the Twenty-seventh Article.
sequently, could not believe in the uncircumcision. To them it was a seal in the flesh, indistinctly and obscurely given, of that grace which was at some distant period to be revealed ; whereas baptism is a seal of grace already revealed, of the remission of sins, of sanctification; finally, a sign of our death and resurrection with Christ. Circumcision was given under the law and the sacrifices, and bound the individual to the observance of the whole law, (Gal. v. 3.) which was a service of bondage, and a schoolmaster to bring its followers to Christ ; through baptism, on the other hand, we are initiated into the gospel, which is a reasonable, manly, and in the highest sense free service. For under the law men were not merely born, but grew up infants in a spiritual sense ;* under the gospel, in baptism, we are born men. Hence baptism requires, as from adults, the previous conditions of knowledge and faith ; whereas in circumcision all conditions are omitted, as unnecessary in the case of servants, and impracticable in that of infants. Lastly, circumcision was performed not by the priests and Levites, but by the master of a family, Gen. xvii. by the mother, Exod. iv. 26. or by any other person, a surgical operator for instance ; whereas baptism, according to our opponents themselves, can only be administered by a teacher of the gospel ; and even those who hold a wider opinion on the subject, allow that it can only be performed by a believer, and by one who is neither a new convert, nor unlearned in the faith. To what purpose is this, unless that the person to be baptized may be previously instructed in
* • They will be always learning and never knowing; always infants.' The likeliest Means to remove Hirelings, &c. Prose Works, III. 391.
the doctrines of the gospel ? which in the case of an infant is impossible. There is therefore no necessary analogy between circumcision and baptism; and it is our duty not to build our belief on vague parallels, but to attend exclusively to the institution of the sacra ment itself, and regard its authority as paramount, according to the frequent admonition of our opponents themselves.
They contend, however, that circumcision was the seal of the righteousness of faith,' Rom. iv. 11, 12. notwithstanding which infants were circumcised, who were incapable of belief* I answer, as above, that it was indeed the seal of the righteousness of faith, but only to Abraham, and to such as after his example believed being yet uncircumcised; in the case of infants it was a thing of entirely different import, namely, an outward and merely national consecration to the external service of God, and, by implication, to the Mosaic form of worship, which was in due time to be ordained.
Lastly, it is urged that the apostles baptized whole families, and consequently infants among the rest.f The weakness of this argument is clearly shown by Acts viii. 12. • when they believed.....they were baptized, both men and women,' infants not being included. xvi. 31–34. "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house : and they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house: and he took them.....and was baptized, he and all his, straightway...and he rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. Here the ex
* See Bps. Beveridge and Burnet on the Twenty-serenih Article.
pression all his house obviously comprehends only those who believed in his house, not infants; therefore those alone unto whom they spake the word of the Lord, and who believed, were baptized. The same is evident from chap. xi. 17. forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us who believe, xviii. 8. •Crispus....believed on the Lord with all his house : and many of the Corinthians bearing believed, and were baptized.' Even the baptism of John, which was but the prelude to that of Christ, is called “the baptism of repentance,' Murk i. 4. and those who came to it “were baptized, confessing their sins,' Matt. iii. 6. whereas infants are incapable either of repentance or confession. If then infants were not meet for the baptism of John, how can they be meet for the baptism of Christ, which requires knowledge, repentance, and faith, before it can be received?
Immersion. It is in vain alleged by those who, on the authority of Mark vii. 4. Luke xi. 38.* have introduced the practice of affusion in baptism instead of immersion, that to dip and to sprinkle mean the same thing; since in washing we do not sprinkle the hands, but immerse them.
To signify their regeneration. John iii. 5. (except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;' that is, if the omission proceed from neglect. Acts xxii. 16. why tarriest thou ? arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' 1 Cor. vi. 11. .but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
* See Wall on Infant Baptism, Part II. Chap. viii. Vol. II. p. 300. and Defence, &c. Vol. III. p. 106-133.