PREACHED In the Abbey-Church
at Westminster, at the Morning Lecture, appointed by the Honorable House of Commons.
STEPHEN MARSHALL B.D.
Minister of the Gospel, at Finching-field in Essex.
ACT. 2.39. The Promise is unto you and to your Children, and to all that are afarre off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
ROM. 11.16. If the root be holy, so are the branches.
1 COR. 7.14. The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean, but now they are holy.
LONDON, Printed by Richard Cotes for Stephen Bowtell, at the signe of the Bible in Popes-head-Alley.
TO The Reverend and Learned the Prolocutor, Assessors, the Commissioners of the Church of Scotland,
and the rest of the Assembly of Divines, now sitting in Westminster.
Some few of us who are of your number, freely bestowing our Labours in the Abbey-Church, every Morning; we agreed among ourselves to instruct our Auditors in all the necessary Truths of that Doctrine, which is according to godliness; One taking for his Subject, the Articles of Faith; Another the Ten Commandments; Another the Lord’s Prayer, &c. My lot of late hath been to handle the Doctrine of the Sacraments, and coming in order to this Point, I endeavored to clear it as fully as I could in one Sermon, and was thereby compelled to borrow a little more time then is usually allotted to that Exercise.
Importunity of many Friends, who conceived it might give some light to that which is now made a great controversy, and might through the blessing of God, be a means to reclaim some deceived Soules, or prevent the deceiving of others, hath brought it thus into Public view.
And although I know myself the unworthiest, and unablest of many, yet because I am assured that it is God’s Truth which I have Preached, and which hee will blesse, I was the more easily overcome by that importunity; if it may contribute anything to the helping forward of the great Work now under your hands, and may ease you of any part of that Labour which so exceedingly presseth you, therein I shall rejoice; And in the opportunity I have by Dedicating this to your Names, to testify that I am
Your unworthy Brother and Servant in the Lord’s Work, STEPHEN MARSHALL.
A SERMON OF THE BAPTIZING of INFANTS.
1 PET. 3.21. The like figure whereunto, even Baptism, doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
IN this Morning Lecture, I have formerly in my course out of several Scriptures handled the Doctrine of the Sacraments in General, and then proceeded to speak of the Sacraments of the Old Testament, and therein their number, their agreement and disagreement, with those of the New Testament; And now lately have begun to open the Sacraments of the New Testament.
The first of them is now in hand; And I have already out of this Text, made four or five Sermons, concerning the nature and use of the Sacrament of Baptism, wherein I have cleared unto you: First, Who was the Author and Institutor of it: Secondly, Who is to be the Minister of it: Thirdly, The Essence of it, the matter and form of it; both the res terrena, and the res Coelestis, the earthly, and the spiritual part: and now Fourthly, it remains, that I treat of the subject of it, or the persons who are to be Baptized; and they are of two sorts; either grown men, who being instructed in the Doctrine of Christ, and professing their Faith in him, and their willingness and readiness to live according to his will, and do desire to be partakers of this blessed Sacrament; These whether Jews or Gentiles, Male or Female, bond or free, are to be admitted to the participation of this Ordinance; of the Baptizing of such as these there is no question. The other sort are Infants, of whose right to this Sacrament, I shall (by God’s assistance) treat this day.
And concerning these, there are two sorts of questions:
First, Whether any Infants at all are to be Baptized?
[The Question stated.] Secondly, Supposing some have right to it, yet it’s greatly disputed, whose Infants may be Baptized? viz. Whether the Infants of Excommunicate persons, of Heretics, of Profane men, of merely civilly Righteous; whether Bastards, whether the Infants of Heathens, who are to be brought up by Christians; and whether these may not be Baptized, with some caution used, thereby to make distinction betwixt the pure and the impure? I shall for the present baulk [refuse] all these latter questions, and handle only the former, viz. whether any at all are to be Baptized? or, as the Question uses to be stated.
Whether the Infants of believing Parents, the Infants of Saints, are to be admitted to the Holy Sacrament? And here also ariseth another question, Who are to be meant by Believers and Saints, whether only such as have the inward virtue of faith and holiness, who are really believers and sanctified ones, or whether by Believers and Saints, may be meant such a faith and sanctity as is outwardly professed, although possibly the inward grace itself (which only God can judge of) be altogether wanting?
[The Infants of Believers ought to be Baptized.] Concerning which question, although for my own part I believe we are to understand it of that which man may judge of, and that God hath not made that the condition of his servants applying his Ordinances, which can be infallibly known to none but himself, and that therefore the profession of Faith and holiness, is sufficient to make men pass for Believers, and Saints in the Church’s judgement, yet I shall at the present baulk [refuse] the handling of this also, and will take it in the surest sense, in the Apostle’s sense, what the Apostle means by Believers and Saints, when he writes unto the Churches, that I will take to be the state of the Question: if by Believers and Saints the Apostle mean visible professors of faith and holiness; then the Question is, whether their Infants are to be baptized; if the Apostle by believers and Saints, mean such only as are inwardly holy, inwardly believers, then the question is, whether their Infants are to be Baptized: in a word, whether the Infants of such as were or might have been styled believers and Saints in the Apostles’ days and writings, are to be admitted to the Sacrament of Baptism.
[The Primitive Church owned it.] This privilege of the baptizing of such Infants the Christian Church hath been in possession of for the space of fifteen hundred years and upwards, as is manifest out of most of the Records that we have of antiquity, both in the Greek and Latin Church; which I the rather mention in the beginning, because many of the Anabaptists blush not to say, that the Ancients, especially the Greek Church, rejected it for many hundred years: Justin Martyr, who lived about Anno 150 (in a Treatise which goes under his name) Question 56. disputes the different condition of those children, who die baptized, and of them who die unbaptized.
Irenaeus, who lived in the same Century, lib. 2. cap. 29. saith, Christus venit per seipsum omnes salvare; omnes inquam, qui per eum renascuntur in Deum, Infantes & parvulos & pueros, &c. [Christ came to save all through himself; even all, who through him are reborn into God, infants & children & youth, &c.] Now it’s well known, say the Glossers upon that Text, renascentiae nomine, Dominica & Apostolica phrasi, Baptismum intelligi [the name rebirth (i.e., born again), is the phrase of the Lord & the Apostle, by which is understood Baptism].
Origen, who lived in the beginning of the third Century, in his Treatise upon Rom. 6. lib. 5. saith, The Church received this tradition of Baptizing of Infants from the Apostles: and Homily 8. upon Leviticus, Secundum Ecclesiae observantiam, Baptismum parvulis dari concedit, Hom. 14. in Lucam, Parvuli baptizantur in remissionem peccatorum [According to the observance of the Church, it is conceded that Baptism is given to children, Hom. 14. In Luke, the children are baptized for the remission of sins]: he calls it indeed a Tradition, according to the expression of the Ancients, who ordinarily called the greatest points of Faith, by the name of Traditions received from the Apostles. Traditions being only such things as are delivered from one to another, whether written or unwritten. And so did the Apostle himself, 2 Thess. 2.15. when he charged them to hold the Traditions which they had been taught, either by word or Epistle. However, his calling it a Tradition received from the Apostles gives us a sufficient proof, that time out of mind, it had been received in the Church, that it was delivered over to the Church in his time, and was of ancient use in the Church before his time.
Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. 40. in Baptismum, calls Baptism signaculum vitae cursum ineuntisbus [a seal on those who begin to live], and commands children to be baptized, though afterward he seemed to restrain it to the case of necessity.
Cyprian, one of the Ancientest Writers amongst the Latins, handles it at large, in Epist. 59. Ad Fidum, upon this occasion; Fidus denied not the Baptism of Infants, but denied that they ought to be Baptized, before the eighth day; Cyprian assures him that by the unanimous consent of 66. Bishops gathered together in a Council, Baptism was to be administered to Infants, as well as to grown men, and not to be restrained to any time, and proves it by such Arguments as these: They are under original sin, they need pardon, are capable of grace and mercy, God regards not age, &c. This testimony of Cyprian’s is cited and approved by August. Epist. 28. & lib. 3. de Merit. & Remiss. pecca. cap. 5. & lib. 3. contra Pelag. and by Hierom contra Pelag. lib. 3. Of the same judgment was Ambrose, lib. 2. cap. 11. De Abraham Patriarcha, and many other of the Ancients, which I relate not to prove the truth of the thing, but only the practice of it: and indeed, although some in those times questioned it, as August. grants in his Sermons, De Verbis Apostol. yet the first that ever made a head against it, or a division in the Church about it, [When the Sect of the Anabaptists began.] was Baltazar Pacommitanus in Germany in Luther’s time, about the year 1527. and since that time multitudes in Germany have embraced his opinion, who because they opposed Paedo-baptisme, were forced to reiterate their own Baptism, and thence were called Anabaptists, and soon proved a dangerous and turbulent Sect against that Reformation; not only working a world of mischief about Munster and other parts of Germany, but have with this opinion, drunk in abundance of other dangerous Heresies and Blasphemies, and quickly grew into such divisions, and sub-divisions among themselves, [Nicephorus, in Historia Ecclesiastica,12.35.] that Bullinger notes that they were grown to no less then fourteen several Sects in his time: [Niceph. 12.30.] which in truth is the common lot of all Sectaries; who when once they have departed from the Church, upon every small occasion they come to be divided again among themselves, and one from another: As the Ecclesiastical Story lets us see in the Novatians, Macedonians, Eunomians, Arians, &c. which divisions also opened a way to their total destruction in the end: their mutual bickerings among themselves, being as the beating of the waves of the Sea one against another, till all were changed, as the Historian notes of them. And because this Opinion, and divers others which depend upon it, begins unhappily to take place and spread among ourselves in this Kingdom; and so the work of Reformation (without God’s mercy) likely to be much hindered by it; I shall (God willing) handle this Question more largely, then I have done any other in this place; and the rather because of three other great mischiefs which go along with it.
[And the danger of their opinions.] First, I see that all who reject the Baptizing of Infants, do and must upon the same ground reject the Religious observation of the Lord’s day, or the Christian Sabbath, viz. because there is not (say they) an express institution or command in the New Testament. Verily, I have hardly either known, or read, or heard of anyone who hath rejected this of Infants, but with it they reject that of the Lord’s day: now God hath so blessed the Religious observation of the Lord’s day in this Kingdom above other Churches and Kingdoms, that such as endeavor to overthrow it, deserve justly to be abhorred by us.
Secondly, the Teachers of this Opinion, where ever they prevail, take their Proselytes wholly off from the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments, and all other acts of Christian communion, both public and private; from any, but those who are of their own opinion, condemning them all as Limbs of Antichrist, worshippers and followers of the Beast: And so not only labor to cast the godly Ministers out of the hearts of those people whom they have won to Christ; but leave the people whom they ensnare without any hope of recovery, whilst they impose upon their consciences to hear none but such as may confirm them in their errors; An old trick of Satan which he taught the Papists long ago, a mere politick device to keep their Disciples fast unto themselves: which unchristian course, how prosperous soever it may seem to be at the first, cannot be blessed by God, nor indeed is it, the Lord giving them up almost everywhere, to other most dangerous, vile, and abominable opinions. I deny not but some few who are of this opinion are otherwise minded, but all our experience teacheth us that the generality of them do run this way.
Thirdly, this opinion puts all the Infants of all Believers into the self-same condition, with the Infants of Turks and Indians, which they all readily acknowledge; and from thence unavoidably one of these three things must follow. 1. Either all of them are damned who die in their Infancy, being without the Covenant of grace, having no part in Christ. Or, 2. All of them saved, as having no original sin, and consequently needing no Saviour; which most of the Anabaptists in the world do own, and therewith bring in all Pelagianism, Universal grace, Free-will, &c. Or, 3. That although they be tainted with original corruption, and so need a Saviour, Christ doth pro beneplacito, save some of the Infants of Indians and Turks, dying in their Infancy, as well as some of the Infants of Christians; and so carry salvation by Christ out of the Church, beyond the Covenant of grace, where God never made any promise: That God hath made a promise to be the God of believers, and of their Seed, we all know; but where the promise is to be found, that he will be the God of the seed of such Parents who live and die his enemies, and their seed, not so much as called by the preaching of the Gospel, I know not. These men say the Covenant of grace made to the Jews, differs from the Covenant of grace made with Us; but I desire to know, whether in the one, or in the other, they find any promise of salvation by Christ to any Infants dying in their Infancy, whose Parents no way belonged to the Family of GOD, or Covenant of Grace.
The matter then being of such consequence, and many amongst us in such danger of being seduced, further then is easy to imagine, through the subtlety, activity, and diligence of such as with a great shew of Scriptures, and under a pretense of zeal, do creep into Houses; yea, proclaim these things openly in Pulpits: I take myself bound upon this occasion to shew you upon what grounds the Orthodox Church hath hitherto retained this practice, and shall bring all that I intend to speak of it under two Arguments, and under them shall endeavor to Answer whatsoever I have found of any moment objected to the contrary.
[First Argument they are under the Covenant of grace, and therefore must have the seal of the Covenant.] My first Argument is this, The Infants of believing Parents are foederati [covenanted], therefore they must be signati [sealed]: they are within the Covenant of grace, belonging to Christ’s body, kingdom, family; therefore are to partake of the seal of his Covenant, or the distinguishing badge between them who are under the Covenant of grace, and them who are not.
The ordinary Answer to this Argument is, by denying that Infants are under the Covenant of Grace; only some few deny the consequence, that although they were within the Covenant, yet it follows not that they must be sealed, because (say they) the Women among the Jews were under the Covenant, yet received not Circumcision, which was the seal of the Covenant; but this receives an easy answer, the Women were Circumcised in the Males, else could not God have said, that the whole house of Israel were Circumcised in the flesh, else could not the whole Nation of the Jews be called the Circumcision, in opposition to all the World beside, who were called the Uncircumcision.
[This Argument made good by five Conclusions.] But for the better clearing of this whole Argument; I shall endeavor to make good these five Conclusions.
First, that the Covenant of Grace hath always for substance been one and the same.
Secondly, God will have the Infants of such as enter into Covenant with him, be counted his, as well as their Parents.
Thirdly, God hath ever since Abraham’s time, had a Seal to be applied to such as enter into Covenant with him.
Fourthly, by God’s own order the Seed, or Infants of Covenanters before Christ’s time, were to be sealed with the seal of admission into his Covenant, as well as their Parents.
Fifthly, the privilege of such as are in Covenant since Christ’s time, are as honorable, large, and comfortable, both to themselves and their children, as they were before Christ’s time: and these five Propositions made good, the Argument will be strong and undeniable.
[1. Conclusion. The Covenant of grace always the same for substance.] The first is, That the Covenant of grace, for substance, hath always been one and the same, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. Which to understand, know, that the new and living way to life was first revealed to Adam immediately after his fall, and that blessed promise concerning the Seed of the woman was often renewed, and the Patriarchs’ faith therein, and salvation thereby, recorded plentifully in the Scripture: but the first time that ever it was revealed under the express name of a League or Covenant was with Abraham; and therefore we shall need look no higher than his days: who because he was the first explicit Covenanter, is called the father of the faithful; and ever since clearly hath all the world been divided into two distinct bodies or families; the one called the Kingdom, City, Household of God, to which all who own the way to life, were to join themselves; and these were called the Children of God, the Sons of Abraham, the Children of the Kingdom: all the rest of the World, the Kingdom of the Devil, the Seed of the Serpent, Strangers from the Covenant of Grace, without God in the world; &c.
[Wherein lies the substance of the Covenant.] Now I say that this Covenant of Grace hath for substance been always the same; for substance I say, for we must distinguish betwixt the Covenant itself, and the manner of administration of this Covenant: The substance of the Covenant on God’s part was, to be Abraham’s God, [Gen. 17.1 &c. Gal. 3.15. Rom. 4.3. John 8.56.] and the God of his Seed, to be an All-sufficient portion, an All-sufficient reward for him, to give Jesus Christ to him, and Righteousness with him, both of Justification and of Sanctification, and everlasting life. On Abraham’s part the substance of the Covenant was, [Gal. 3.6. Gen. 17.1. Gen. 18.19. Gal 3.17.19.] to believe in the promised Messiah, to walk before God with a perfect heart, to serve God according to his revealed will, to instruct his family, &c.
[Though not the same for manner of administration.] The manner of administration of this Covenant at the first was by types, and shadows, sacrifices, &c. And four hundred and thirty years after the Law was added with great terror upon Mount Sinai, not as a part of this Covenant, but as the Apostle saith expressly, it was added because of Transgressions, to be a Schoolmaster to whip to Christ; Plainly in that giving of the Law, there was something of the Covenant of works made with Adam in Paradise; yet in order to the Administration of the Covenant of grace, there was a rehearsal of the Covenant of works, under which all men lie by nature, until they be brought under the Covenant of grace: and this was delivered with great terror, and under most dreadful penalties, that they who were prone to seek justification in themselves, by finding the τὸ ἀδύναντον τοῦ νόμου, the impossibility of their keeping the Law, might be driven to seek for a better Mediator, even the Lord Jesus Christ, as was excellently shadowed out, Exod. 20.18, 19, 20. Deut. 5.24. when they cried out to Moses; that they might no more hear this dreadful voice, which would kill them, but that they might be spoken unto by a Mediator: and GOD said, they had well spoken, and presently accepted Moses for their typical mediator, and by him gave them the Gospel in their Tabernacle Ordinances. And there was also something of the administration of the Covenant of grace; partly, because all the threatening and cursing part of it was intended as a preparative and means to fit them for Christ; and partly because the directing part of it, contains that very rule whereby Abraham, and all his Seed were ordered to walk in obedience towards God.
To conclude this, All their external promises in case of obedience, all outward blessings which were to be enjoyed by them, the Land of Canaan, and all the good things in it, all outward punishments and threatenings, loss of their Country, going into Captivity, all their Sacrifices, their Washings, their Sprinklings, their holy Persons, holy Feasts, and holy things, were all of them but so many Administrations of the Covenant of Grace; Earthly things then, were not only promised or threatened more distinctly and fully, then now they are to them who are in Covenant, but were figures, signs, types and Sacraments of spiritual things, to be enjoyed both by them and by us; as might be cleared by abundance of particulars: Take but that one instance of the Land of Canaan, which albeit in itself it was but like other Lands, yet was it by the Lord sanctified to spiritual ends, where he would have his Tabernacle pitched, and Temple built, out of which Land, when the ten Tribes were carried captive, he is said to have put them out of his sight: the very Land being figuratively holy, and a sign of God’s presence, [2 King. 17.18.] the resting of God’s people there, a sign of their eternal rest in Heaven, into which not Moses the Lawgiver, but Joshua, or Jesus, the type of their true Jesus was to bring them: [Heb. 3.11.4, 5, 8.] neither did the Lord promise them entrance into, or continuance in that Land, but upon the same conditions upon which he promiseth eternal life, as true Faith in the Gospel, [Heb. 3.17, 18, 19. with 4.2.] with the love and fear of God, and obedience of his Commandments: Godliness having then, as it hath now and always, the promise of good things for this life, [Lev. 20.2 &c. 26.36. Deut. 10.12.13. with 11.1.8, 9, 22. &c. 1 Cor. 10.5, 6, 7.] and the life to come, of earthly things, then more distinctly, and fully, and typically, but of heavenly things more generally and sparingly; whereas now on the contrary, there is a more clear and full revelation and promise of heavenly things, but the promise of things earthly, more general and sparing: Now this external Administration of the Covenant is not the same with us, as it was with them, but the Covenant is the same; they were under the same misery by nature, had the same Christ, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the World, the same conditions of Faith and repentance, to be made partakers of the Covenant, had the same graces promised in the Covenant, Circumcising of their heart, to love the Lord, &c. Theirs was dispensed in darker Prophecies, and obscurer Sacrifices, types, and Sacraments, ours more gloriously and clearly, and in a greater measure: the clothes indeed do differ, but the body is the same in both.
[The Identity of the Covenant to Jews and Gentiles, proved.] As is apparent, if, First, you look but into the Prophecies that were made, Jer. 31.33. Isaiah 59.21. Joel 2.32. and many other places, where the same things are promised to the Gentiles, when the Gospel should be preached unto them, which were first promised to Abraham, and to his seed; but more fully, [Jerem. 31.33. Esa. 59.21 Joel 2.32. Luke 1 54. &c.] if you look into the New Testament, where you shall find, Luke 1.54, 55, 69, 70, 72, 73. Luke 2.31, 32. that Christ and the kingdom of grace by him, is acknowledged to be the sum of the oath and Covenant, which God had promised to Abraham, and to his seed: So Matth. 21.41, 43. the same Vineyard that was let to the Jews, should afterward be let to the Gentiles; the same kingdom of God which was formerly given to the Jews, should be taken from them, and given to the Gentiles: So Rom. 11. the Gentiles were to be engrafted into the same stock in which formerly the Jews had grown, and from which they were now to be cut off, [Luke 2.31. Mat. 21.41.43. Rom. 11. Gal. 3.8.14, 15, 16. Ephe. 2.13 &c.] and into which in the end they should be engrafted again: So Gal. 188.8.131.52. Abraham had the same Gospel preached to him, which is now preached to us, the same blessing bestowed upon Abraham, comes on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that they (as well as he) might receive the promise of the Spirit through Faith; they who receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, have the blessing of Abraham come upon them: as clear is that, Ephes. 2.13. to the end of the Chapter, the partition wall which severed us from the Jews, is now broken down, and the Gentiles who formerly were afar off, are now taken in, and made Inter-Commoners with the Jews; the Apostle alluding to the manner of the Jewish worship, where beyond the Court wherein the Jews did worship, there was another Court divided from it by a sept or wall, which was called, Atrium gentium & immundorum, the Court of the Gentiles and of the unclean, nearer then which none of them might approach unto the Temple; but now saith he, The partition wall is broken down, and we are no more Strangers and Foreigners, but made fellow-Citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God; and with them grow up unto an holy Temple in the Lord; all which shews, that the very selfsame privileges formerly made peculiar to the Jews, are now through Christ communicated to the Gentiles. And this will yet more fully appear, if we consider how St. Paul to the Galatians, shews that the same seed of Abraham, so much spoken of in the Covenant made with him, is now found among the Gentiles, as it was formerly among the Jews, there you shall find three sorts of Abraham’s seed: First, Christ, Gal. 3.16. the root and stock, the head, and Elder brother of all the rest. Secondly, all true believers are Abraham’s seed, cap. 3.29. these only are made partakers of the spiritual part of the Covenant. Thirdly, you shall find another seed of Abraham, who were only circumcised in the flesh, and not in the heart, who though they were either born of Abraham’s seed or professed Abraham’s faith, and so were Jews facti [become], though not nati [born], made though not born Jews, becoming Proselytes, yet never came to make Abraham’s God their All-sufficient portion, but placed their happiness in somewhat, which was not Christ, either by seeking justification by the works of the Law, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness did not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God, [Rom. 10.3.] or placed their happiness, in satisfying the lusts of their flesh, going a whoring after the creature; and so though they were Abraham’s seed by profession and outward cleaving to the Covenant, yet were to be cast off with the rest of the uncircumcised, of whom Ishmael and Esau were Types, Gal. 4.22. &c. Even so is it now in the times of the Gospel, we have now Jesus Christ, the Elder brother, the first-born of the Covenant, we have also true believers, who are brethren and Co-heirs with him, who are properly the heirs by promise, and we have also some who are only a holy seed by external profession, Gal. 4.29. who either with the false Teachers, [Gal. 4.29.] which Paul there speaks of, mingle justification by the Law and Gospel together, or with others, 2 Tim. 3.5. though they have a form of godliness; yet deny the power of it in their lives and conversations. So much for the first Conclusion, that the Covenant of grace, for substance, was always one and the same.
[2 Conclusion. Infants taken into Covenant with their Parents.] Ever since God gathered a distinct, select number out of the world, to be his Kingdom, City, House-hold, in opposition to the rest in the world, which is the kingdom, city, house-hold of Satan, he would have The Infants of all who are taken into Covenant with him, to be accounted his, to belong to him, to his Church and Family, and not to the devil’s. As it is in other Kingdoms, Corporations, and Families, the children of all Subjects born in a Kingdom, are born that Prince's Subjects, where the Father is a free man, the child is not born a slave; where any are bought to be servants, their children born in their Masters house, are born his servants. Thus it is by the Laws of almost all Nations, and thus hath the Lord ordained, it shall be in his kingdom and family; the Children follow the Covenant-condition of their Parents, if he take a Father into Covenant, he takes the Children in with him; if he reject the Parents out of Covenant, the children are cast out with them; Thus without all question it was in the time of the Jews, [Hosea 2.2 Exod. 12 48, 49.] Gen. 17.9. &c. and when any of any other Nation, though a Canaanite or Hittite, acknowledged Abraham’s God to be their God, they and their children came into covenant together.
[Act. 2.38, 39. opened and cleared.] And so it continues still, though the Anabaptists boldly deny it: Act. 2.38, 39. when Peter exhorted his hearers, who were pricked in their hearts, to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, he useth an Argument to persuade them, taken from the benefit which should come to their posterity, for the Promise (saith he) is unto you and unto your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call: if once they obey the call of God, as Abraham did, the promise was made to them and to their children, whether they who obey this call were the present Jews to whom he spake, or were afar off: whether by afar off, you will mean the Gentiles, who as yet worshipped afar off, or the Jews or any who as yet were unborn, and so were afar off in time, or whether they dwelt in the remotest parts of the world, and so were afar off in place, the Argument holds good to the end of the world, Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost; For the Promise is made to you and to your children, they shall be made free of God’s City, according to Abraham’s Copy; I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed. Let Zacchaeus the Publican once receive Christ himself, be he a Gentile, as some think he was, be he a great sinner, esteemed as a heathen, as we all know he was, let him profess the faith of Christ, [Luke 19.] and the Covenant of Salvation comes to his house; for now he is made a son of Abraham: that is, Abraham’s promise now reacheth him.
[Object. Answ.] Neither can the evidence of this place be eluded by saying, the promise here meant, is of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, to speak with tongues, &c. For we all know that all who then believed and were baptized, did not receive those extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, and beside this Argument remains still in force to be used to the end of the world, Whoever believes and is baptized, shall receive remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost: Which was not true, if by the Holy Ghost was meant only those extraordinary gifts.
[Object. Answ. 3.] Nor, secondly, can it be avoided by that shift of others who interpret it thus, To you and your children as many of them as the Lord shall call, that is (say they) whether your selves or your children, or any other whom the Lord shall call. if they repent and be baptized, they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for it is plain that the strength of this Argument lieth in this, That if they did repent and were baptized, the promise should be made good to them and to their children and what comfortable argument can this be taken from respect to their children, if the Apostle must be interpreted as these men would have him? viz. You and your children have hitherto been an holy seed, but now if you believe in Christ your selves, your children shall be in no better condition than the rest of the Pagan world, strangers from the Covenant of God; but if afterward any of them, or any of the Heathen shall for their parts believe and be baptized, their particular persons shall be took [taken] into Covenant, but their children still left out: Had this think you been a comfortable Argument to persuade them to come in, in relation to the good of their children after them? The plain strength of the argument is, God hath now remembered his Covenant to Abraham, in sending that blessed seed, in whom he promised to be the God of him and his seed; do not you by your unbelief deprive your selves and your posterity of so excellent a gift. And except in relation to the Covenant, there was no occasion to name their children, it had been sufficient to have said, a promise is made to as many as the Lord shall call.
[Rom. 11.16 opened.] As plain it is out of the 11. of the Rom. 16. &c. where the Apostle’s scope is to shew that we Gentiles have now the same grafting into the true Olive which the Jews formerly had, and our present grafting in, is answerable to their present casting out, and their taking in in the latter end of the world shall be the same grafting in (though more gloriously) as ours is now: Now all know that when they were taken in, they and their children were taken in, when they were broken off, they and their children were broken off, when they shall be taken in, in the latter end of the world, they and their children shall be taken in, and that because the root is holy, that is, God’s Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, extends yet unto them when their unbelief shall be taken away. The root being like Nebuchadnezzar’s tree, the tree hewn down, and the root bound with a band of iron until seven times were passed over it, and then the bands should be broken, and the root should spring, and the tree should grow again: so their present Nation, like this tree, is cut down, and this holy root the Covenant made with their forefathers, is suspended, bound with an iron bar of unbelief, blindness being come upon them, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, and then all Israel shall be saved. And mark that in all this discourse, the holiness of the Branches there spoken of, is not meant of a personal inherent holiness, but a derivative holiness, a holiness derived to them from their Ancestors; the first fruit is holy, the lump holy, the root holy, the branches holy, that is, the Fathers holy accepted in Covenant with God, the children beloved for their fathers sake; and when the vail of unbelief shall be taken away, the children and their posterity shall be taken in again, because beloved for their fathers sakes. Now then if our grafting in, be answerable to theirs in all, or any of these three particulars, we and our children are grafted in together.
Ob. But here is no mention made of our Infants grafting in.
Answ. We must not teach the Lord to speak, but with reverence search out his meaning, there is no mention made of casting out the Jewish Infants, neither here nor elsewhere: when he speaks of taking away the kingdom of God from them, and giving it to the Gentiles who would bring forth fruit, no mention of the infants of the one, or of the other, but the one and the other for these outward dispensations, are comprehended in their parents, as the branches in the root, the infants of the godly in their parents, according to the tenor of his mercy, the infants of the wicked in their parents, according to the tenor of his justice.
[1 Cor. 7.14. opened and vindicated.] And yet plainer (if plainer may be) is that speech of the Apostle in 1 Corinth. 7.14. The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean, but now they are holy; the plain scope and meaning whereof is this; the believing Corinthians, among other cases of conscience which they had sent to the Apostle for his resolution of, had written this for one, whether it were lawful for them who were converted, still to retain their infidel wives, or husbands: their doubt seems to arise from the Law of God, which was in force to the Nation of the Jews; God had not only forbidden such marriages to his people, but in Ezra’s time, they put away not only their wives, but all the children that were borne of them, [Ezra. 10.4.] as not belonging to the Common-wealth of Israel; and it was done according to the Law, and that Law was not a particular Edict which they did agree upon, but according to the standing Law of Moses, [תורת] which that word there used signifieth; and in Nehemiah’s time, the children who were borne of such marriages were accounted a Mongrel kind, whom Nehemiah cursed. [Nehem. 13.24. &c.] Now hereupon these Corinthians doubted whether their children, as well as their wives, were not to be accounted unclean, and so to be put away according to those examples; to which the Apostle answers, No, they were not to be put away; Upon what special reason soever, that Law was in force to the Jews, believing Christians were not in that condition, the unbelieving wife was sanctified in the believing husband, quoad hoc, so far, as to bring forth an holy seed; were it with them as when both of them were unbelievers, so that neither of them had a prerogative to entitle their children to the Covenant of grace, their children would be an unclean Progeny; or were the children to be reckoned in the condition of the worse parent, so that the unbeliever could contribute more to Paganism than the believer to Christianity, it were so likewise; but the case is otherwise, the believing husband hath by God’s ordinance a sanctified use of his unbelieving wife, so as by God’s special promise made to believers and their seed, they were invested, in, [Mal. 2.15.] and to the most spiritual end of Marriage, the continuance of a holy seed, wherein the Church is to be propagated to the worlds end: and the case is here in Relation to the posterity for spiritual privileges, as in other marriages, for civil privileges, as suppose a Prince, or Nobleman marry with a woman of base or mean birth, though in general it be true, that the children of those that be base, are born base, as well as the children of Nobles are born Noble, yet here the issue hath honor from the Father, and is not accounted base by the baseness of the Mother. This I take to be the plain meaning of the Apostle’s answer: But because the Anabaptists do very much endeavor to weaken the evidence of this Argument, I shall endeavor to clear it from their exceptions. They utterly deny that this place is meant of any Federal holiness, but of legitimation, which they call civil holiness, and so interpret the Corinthians doubt to be, whether their marriage with Unbelievers were not now a nullity, and their children thereupon to be spurious, illegitimate, or Bastards, and the Apostle’s answer to be, that because the unbelieving wife is sanctified to the believing husband, that is, their marriage remains lawful, therefore their children are not spurious, but lawfully begotten. But that this cannot be the meaning, I clearly prove by these four Arguments.
[1. Argument. Because uncleanness and holiness nowhere taken for civilly lawful.] First, uncleanness and holiness, when opposed one to the other, are never taken for civilly lawful; uncleanness indeed, when opposed to cleanness, may be taken in several senses, an unclean vessel, an unclean cloth, an unclean garment; when opposed to clean, may signify nothing but dirty or spotted; but when uncleanness is opposed to holiness, it is always taken in a sacred sense, referring to a Tabernacle use, to a right of admission into, or use in, the Tabernacle or Temple, which were types to us of the visible Church; and holiness is always taken for a separation of persons or things from common to sacred uses: [1 Tim. 4.5.] Even the meats and drinks of believers sanctified to them, serve for a religious end and use, even to refresh them, who are the Temples of the Holy Ghost; so that they have not only a lawful, but an holy use of their meat and drink, which Unbelievers have not, to whom yet their meat and drink is civilly lawful.
[Object.] And whereas some say, 1 Thess. 4.3, 4, 5. that chastity a moral virtue found among Heathens, is called by the name of Sanctification; Let everyone possess his vessel, not in the lust of concupiscence, but in sanctification and honor.
[Answ.] I Answer, Chastity among Heathens, is never called Sanctification, but among Believers it may well be called so, being a part of the new creation, a branch of their sanctification, wrought by the Spirit of God, a part of the inward adorning of the Temple of the holy Ghost. So that the meaning cannot be, your children are holy, that is, now they are not Bastards; but rather, whereas before, both you and they were unclean, and might have nothing to do with the Temple of God, now both you and your Children are a holy seed, according as was shewed to Peter in his vision, where God shewed him, that the Gentiles formerly no better than unclean beasts, and creeping things, [Acts 10.] should upon their conversion to Christ be no longer esteemed common or defiled.
[2. Argument. The Apostle’s answer had not contained a truth.] Secondly, this being so, had this been the meaning, else were your Children unclean, but now they are holy, else had your children been Bastards, but now they are legitimate; the Apostle’s answer had not been true, because then if one of the Parents had not been a Believer, and so by his being a believer, sanctified his unbelieving Wife, their children must have been Bastards: whereas we know their children had been legitimate, being born in lawful Wedlock, though neither of the Parents had been a believer: Marriage being a second Table duty, is lawful, (though not sanctified) to Pagans as well as to Christians, and the legitimation or illegitimation of the issue depends not upon the Faith, but upon the marriage of the Parents; let the marriage be lawful, and the issue is legitimate, whether one, or both, or neither of the Parents be believers or infidels: take but away lawful marriage, betwixt the Man and the Woman, and the issue is illegitimate, whether one, or both, or neither of the Parents are believers or infidels: withal, if the children of Heathens be Bastards, and the marriage of Heathens no marriage, then there is no adultery among heathens, and so the seventh Commandment is altogether in vain in the words of it as to them.
[3. Argument. Nor had the Apostle’s argument had any reason in it, if interpreted as they would have it.] Besides, St. Paul’s reason had no strength in it, supposing the Text were to be interpreted as these men would have it; Their doubt (say they) was, that their marriage was an unlawful wedlock, and so consequently their children Bastards; now mark what kind of answer they make the Apostle give, Were ye not lawful man and wife, your children were Bastards, but because the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband, &c. because your marriage is a lawful marriage, your children are legitimate. What strength of reason is in this? if this had been their doubt or question, whether their marriage were not a nullity, the Apostle by his Apostolic authority might have definitively answered, without giving a reason, your marriage is good, and your children legitimate; but if Paul will go about to satisfy them by reason, and prove them to be mistaken, it behooved him to give such a reason which should have some weight in it, but this hath none; set their doubt (as these men frame it) and the Apostle’s answer (as these men interpret him) together, and you will easily see the invalidity of it; We doubt, say the Corinthians, we are not lawful man and wife; and that therefore our children are bastards. No, saith Paul, you are mistaken, and I prove it thus, Were ye not lawful man and wife, your children were bastards; but because ye are lawful man and wife, your children are not bastards. Is there any Argument or proof in this?
[4. Argument. Nor could have satisfied their doubt.] Fourthly, according to this their interpretation, the Apostle’s answer could no ways have reached to the quieting of their consciences; there doubt was, whether according to the example in Ezra, they were not to put away their wives and children, as not belonging to God, as being a Seed whom God would not own among his people; now what kind of quiet would this have given them, to tell them that their children were not Bastards? We know the Jews did not put away their Bastards, as not belonging to the Covenant of God; Phares, and Zarah, and Jepthah, and innumerable others, though bastards, were circumcised, and not cut off from the people of God.
[Deut. 23.2.] And whereas some object out of Deut. 23.2. That Bastards did not belong to the Covenant among the Jews, because God there forbad a bastard to come into the Congregation of the Lord.
I Answer, that is meant only of bearing Office in the Church, or some such like thing, and not of being under the Covenant, belonging to the Church: as is manifest, not only by what hath been now said of Jepthah and others, who were circumcised, and offered Sacrifices, and drew nigh to God, as well as any other; but the very text alleged gives sufficient light, that it cannot be meant otherwise; because in that place whoever is an Eunuch, or wounded in his stones, hath the same exclusion from the Congregation of the Lord: and I hope no man will dare to say, that none such are holy to the Lord; if they should, [Isa. 56.3, 4. Acts 8.27.] the Scripture is full enough against them: That putting away in Ezra was of an higher nature then bare illegitimation; and therefore it behooved the Apostle to give another manner of satisfaction to their doubtful consciences, then to tell them their children were not bastards: Therefore I conclude, that this holiness being the fruits of one of the Parents being a believer, must be meant of some kind of holiness, which is not common to the seed of them whose Parents are both Unbelievers, and that is enough for our purpose.
Yet there remains two Objections to be answered, which are made against this our interpretation.
[Object.] First, The unbelieving wife is here said to be sanctified, as well as the child is said to be holy, and the Original word is the same for both, one the verb, the other the noun: if then the child is holy, with a federal holiness, then is also the unbelieving wife sanctified with a federal sanctification, and so the wife, although remaining a heathen, may be yet counted to belong to the Covenant of Grace.
[Answer.] I answer; Indeed there would be weight in this objection if the Apostle had said the unbelieving Wife is sanctified, and no more, as he simply says, the children are holy; but that he doth not say, he saith indeed the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the believing husband, or to the believing husband: that is, to his use, as all other creatures are, as the bed he lies on, the meat he eats, the clothes he wears, the beast he rides on, are sanctified to him, and so this sanctifiednesse of the wife is not a sanctification of state, but only of use, and of this use, to be sanctified to the believing husband; whereas the holiness and sanctification that is spoken of the children, is a holiness of state, and not only a sanctification to the Parents use. [Ἒν the Greek preposition signifying to as well as in. as Gal. 1.16. 2 Pet. 1.5. Act. 4.12 1 Cor. 7.15.]
[2. Object.] That holiness of the Children is here meant, which could not be, unless one of the Parents were sanctified to the other, which is the force of the Apostle’s arguing, the unbeliever is sanctified to the believer, else were not the children holy, but unclean: but federal holiness of children may be where the Parents are not sanctified, one in or to the other, as in bastardy, David’s child by Bathsheba, Phares, and Zarah, Judah’s children by Thamar, the Israelites children by the Concubines, Abraham’s son Ishmael by Hagar, &c. in which cases the children were federally holy, and accordingly were circumcised, and yet the Harlot not sanctified in or to the Adulterer or Fornicator, though a believer.
[Answ.] I answer, we must attend the Apostle’s scope, which is to shew that the children would be unholy, if the faith or believership of one of the Parents could not remove the bar, which lies in the other, being an unbeliever, against the producing of an holy seed, because one of them was a Pagan, or unbeliever, therefore the child would not be a holy seed, unless the faith or believership of the other Parent, could remove this bar. Now this can have no place of an Argument, in any case, where one of the Parents is not an Infidel: but this was not the case among the Jews; Hagar, and Thamar, and the Concubines, however sinful, in those acts, yet themselves were believers, belonging to the Covenant of God, and that bar lay not against their children, as did in the unbelieving wife: indeed if a believing man or woman should adulterously beget a child upon a Pagan, a Heathen, or Unbeliever, there this objection deserves to be further weighed, but here it comes not within the compass of the Apostle’s Argument.
[Reason why God will have such Infants accounted his.] Before I pass from this second conclusion, let me further shew you why the Lord will have the children of believing Parents reckoned even in their Infancy, to belong to him. First his own beneplacitum, his free grace and favor which moves him to shew mercy to whom he will, is a sufficient answer to all: But secondly, he will have it for his own glory. It is the honor of other Princes, that all who are born in their kingdom should be accounted born their Subjects; and the honor of great Masters, that the children of their servants born in their houses should be born their servants: [Eccles. 2:7.] Solomon counts it a piece of his glory, that he had servants born in his house. And on the other side, it is a dishonor to a King not to be able legally to lay claim to those born in his kingdom, but that another King, yea, an enemy might legally challenge them to be his Subjects. So is it with the Lord, he having left all the rest of the world, to be visibly the devil’s kingdom, will not for his own glory’s sake permit the devil to come and lay visible claim to the sons and daughters, begotten by those who are the children of the most High. And thirdly, he doth it both for the comfort and duty of those who are in Covenant with him, partly, I say, for their comfort and privilege, while they may see their children visibly to be provided for by a better Father, under a Covenant of Grace, to whose care, and under whose wing they may leave them, when themselves shall fail; and partly to be an obligation to bring them up for God, not to themselves, much less to the devil, but ever to look upon themselves in the education of their children, to be but nursing Fathers and Mothers to train them up in the nurture and fear of the Lord, unto whose kingdom, family and Covenant they thus belong.
I have been the larger upon these two first Conclusions, because indeed the proving of these, gains the whole cause, if the Covenant be the same and children belong to it, then they are to be owned as Covenanters, and to be admitted to the distinguishing or discriminating sign betwixt God’s people and the devil’s, and this the most learned of the Anabaptists do profess, that if they knew a child to be holy, they would baptize it. In the other Conclusions I shall be more brief.
[3. Conclusion.] The Lord hath appointed and ordained a Sacrament or seal of initiation to be administered unto them who enter into Covenant with him, Circumcision for the time of that administration which was before Christ’s incarnation, Baptism since the time of his incarnation; both of them the same Sacrament for the spiritual part, though differing in the outward Elements; both appointed to be distinguishing signs, betwixt God’s people and the devil’s people; both of them the way and means of solemn entrance and admission into the Church; both of them to be administered but once, and none might be received into the Communion of the Church of the Jews, until they were circumcised, nor into the Communion of the Church of the Christians until they be Baptized; none but the circumcised might eat of the Paschal Lamb, none may, but those who are baptized, be admitted to eat the Lord’s Supper, which succeeds in the room of the Passover, and this our Lord himself taught us by his own example, who was circumcised, as a professed Member of the Church of the Jews, and when he set up the new Christian Church, he would be initiated into it, by the Sacrament of Baptism.
[Col. 2.11, 12. opened.] Of this Conclusion there is no great doubt, but because some of the Anabaptists do deny the Sacrament of Baptism to succeed in the room, place, and use of Circumcision, be pleased to observe how plain the Apostle makes it, Coloss. 2.8, 9; 10, 11, 12. where the Apostle’s scope is to dissuade the believing Christians from the rudiments of the world and Jewish Ceremonies, and observations upon this ground, that we are complete in Christ, and that in him as in the head, the Church hath all perfections, and because he would take them wholly off from Circumcision, the use whereof engaged them to the use of the rest of Jewish Ceremonies, he tells them, [Gal. 5.3.] that in Christ we are circumcised with a Circumcision made without hands (a better Circumcision then the Jews was) in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the Circumcision of Christ. And whereas the Jewish teachers would be ready to object that the receiving of the inward grace of Circumcision, did not make them so complete as Abraham and his seed was, because they also had an outward sensible sign whereby they might be farther persuaded, comforted and confirmed; to this he answers, ver. 12. That neither is this privilege wanting to Christians who have as excellent and express a Sacrament of it, being buried with Christ in Baptism, the effect whereof he there sets down, and therefore they needed not Circumcision, as their false Teachers insinuated, thereby directly teaching that our Baptism is instead of their Circumcision. And the Analogy lies between two Sacramental types of the same substance [regeneration] to both Jews and Gentiles. And in truth had not Baptism come in the room of it, the Apostle could not have pitched upon a worse instance then that of Circumcision, which was so much valued by them, and was so great and useful a privilege unto them: Nor had there been any reason to have here named Baptism, but that he meant to shew Baptism to Christians was now in the room of Circumcision to the Jews.
[4. Conclusion.] That by God’s own express order, infants as well as grown men were in the time of the Jews to be initiated and sealed with the sign of Circumcision: Whether Jews by nature, or Proselytes of the Gentiles, [Gen. 17.] one Law was for them all, if they receive the Covenant, they and their children receive Circumcision: and although, as I touched before, this sign was actually applied only to the Males, yet the females were virtually circumcised in them, as is apparent both because the whole Church of the Jews were called the Circumcision, and because by God’s express order, no uncircumcised person might eat of the Passover, [Exod. 12.48.] which we are sure the women did as well as the men.
[Object.] And whereas some who see which way the strength of this Conclusion bendeth, do allege, that though Circumcision was to be applied to their Infants, yet it was not as a seal of the spiritual part of the Covenant of Grace, but as a national badge, a seal of some temporal and earthly blessings and privileges, as of their right to the land of Canaan, &c. and that Ishmael though he was circumcised for some temporal respects, yet he was not thereby brought under the Covenant of Grace, which was expressly said to be made with Abraham in relation to Isaac and his seed. [Gen. 17.18, 19, 20, 21.]
[Answ.] I answer, there is nothing plainer then that the Covenant whereof Circumcision was the signe, [Rom. 4.11.] was the Covenant of Grace; Abraham received Circumcision a sign of the righteousness of faith, and the Jews received it not as a Nation, but as a Church, as a people separated from the world, and taken into Covenant with God: It is true indeed, that Circumcision bound them who received it to conform to that manner of administration of the Covenant which was carried, much, by a way of Temporal blessings and punishments, they being types of spiritual things; but no man can ever shew that any were to receive the Sacrament of Circumcision in relation to these outward things only, or to them at all, further then they were administrations of the Covenant of grace; sure I am, the Proselytes and their children could not be circumcised in any relation at all to the Temporal blessings of the Land of Canaan as they were temporal, because notwithstanding their Circumcision they were not capable of receiving, or purchasing any inheritance at all in that Land, sojourn there they might, as other strangers also did, but the inheritance of the Land, no, not one foot of it could ever be alienated from the several Tribes to whom it was distributed as their possession by the most High: For all the land was divided unto twelve Tribes, [Deut. 32.8. Lev. 25.13. &c.] and they were not any one of them allowed to sell their lands longer then till the year of Jubilee, Levit. 25.13, &c. Yea, I may boldly say that their Circumcision was so far from sealing to them the outward good things of the Land, that it occasioned and tied them to a greater expense of their temporal blessings by their long, and frequent, and chargeable journeys, to worship at Jerusalem. And as for what was alleged concerning Ishmael; the answer is easy, God indeed there declares that Isaac should be the type of Christ, and that the Covenant of grace should be established and continue in his family; yet both Ishmael and the rest of Abraham’s family were really taken into Covenant, until afterward by Apostasy they discovenanted themselves, as also did Esau afterward, though he were the Son of Isaac, in whose family God had promised the Covenant should continue.
[5. Conclusion.] Fifthly and lastly, the privileges of believers under this last and best administration of the Covenant of grace, are many ways enlarged, made more honorable and comfortable, then ever they were in the time of the Jews’ administration; many Scriptures speak of the enlargement of their privileges, not one for the diminishing or depressing, or extenuating of them; that yoke, that hard and costly way of administration, which neither they nor their Fathers were able to bear, is taken off from our shoulders; our Covenant is said to be established upon better promises, [Heb. 8.6. 2 Cor. 3.10. Gal. 4.1. &c.] the glory of theirs had no glory in respect of ours, they were under the bondage of Infants under age, in comparison of our freedom, we as well as they are called a holy Nation, a peculiar people, a chosen generation, separated to him from all other people, to whom, as well as to them, belongs the adoption, the Covenant, the promises; we as well as they enjoy him to be our Father, and with his dearest Son our Lord, are made Co-heirs of the Kingdom of glory; we have all these things with advantage, not only in the clearness of the administration, but in some sense in greater extent to persons with us, there is neither male nor female.
[Object.] Some indeed go about to shew, that in some things the Jews had greater privileges then We have, as that Abraham had the privilege to be called the Father of the faithful, that Christ should be born of his flesh; Mary had the privilege to be the Mother of Christ, and the whole Nation this privilege, that God will call in their seed again, after they had been cast off for unbelief many hundred years, which privileges, say they, none of the Gentiles have, or can have.
Answ. But these things have no weight: we are inquiring for privileges which are branches of the Covenant of grace, which every man who is in Covenant with God, may expect from God by virtue of the Covenant, were he a Jew or a Proselyte, not for any particular or peculiar favor to a particular man or woman, or family, or tribe: All these forementioned things, and many other of the like kind (as the Ministry of the Tabernacle and Temple to belong to one Tribe, the Kingly office to one family; such and such men never to lack a man of their house to stand before God) proceeded indeed from Free-grace, but were no parts of that Covenant of grace which God made to Abraham, and all his Seed: For could every man in Covenant challenge these things at God’s hand, and that by virtue of the Covenant? Could every one of them promise to himself that Christ should be born of his flesh? Or every one of their women that she should be the Mother of Christ? Could every one whom God owned to be in Covenant with him, promise by virtue of the Covenant, that their children, if cast off by unbelief, should after many hundred years be again called in? We speak only of such privileges as were universal, and common to all who were in Covenant, for which by virtue of the Covenant they might rely upon God; Let any man shew out of the Scripture where our privileges under the Gospel are cut short in any of these things, and he saith somewhat; and in particular for the Case in hand, concerning our Infants right to the Covenant of grace, and the seal of it, once we are sure the Infant Children of all Covenanters were within the Covenant, and the seal also belonged to them, and by virtue of the Covenant (which is still the same) we plead their interest in it. Let any man shew when and where this was taken away, when the Infant-children of believers were expunged out of the Covenant of grace; certainly whoever will go about to deprive them of it, to cut off such a great part of the comfort of Believing parents, must produce clear testimonies, before they can persuade believers to part with either of them, either their right to the Covenant, or to the seal of the Covenant.
For, first, their Infants interest in the Covenant, next to glory of God, and the salvation of their own souls, is the greatest benefit of the Covenant of grace; even this (I say) to have their Children belong to God’s family and kingdom, and not to the Devil’s: certainly, the greatest treasure of Parents is their children, and in them the salvation of their souls: Now how uncomfortable a thing were this to Parents, to take away the very ground of their hope, for the salvation of their Children? and I dare affirm it, that we have no ground of hope for any particular person, until he be brought under the Covenant of grace. All the world, as I have formerly touched, is divided into two kingdoms, the kingdom of Christ, which is his Church; and the kingdom of Satan, which is the rest of the world; now so long as any person is visibly a member of the kingdom of Christ; we have no cause to doubt their election & salvation, until they visibly shew the contrary, although we know that there are some reprobate among them; so on the other side, although we know Christ hath many of his elect to be gathered out of the Devil’s kingdom, yet we have no cause or ground to hope that any particular person is any other then a reprobate, being a visible professed member of Satan’s kingdom, until he give hope to the contrary: now what a most uncomfortable abridgment were this of the Covenant of grace, thus apparently to cut off the Seed of Believers from their visible right in the Church of Christ, and to put them in the visible Kingdom of Satan?
And, Secondly, as really unwilling must they look to find Parents, to part with their children’s right to the Seal of the Covenant; this their right to the Covenant being all the ground of hope that believing Parents can have that their Infants who die in their Infancy, are saved rather than the Infants of Turks, had need be sealed, if they live until they are grown men, and give other signs of grace, they may conceive good hopes of them, though they were not sealed with a Sacramental seal: This therefore is apparent, that the cutting off our privileges and comfort in these two were a great abridgment of the privileges of the new Covenant, and would put the Seed of Abraham’s faith into a far worse condition in regard of their posterity, then the Seed of his flesh were in: And the Jews in Acts 2.39. if this Doctrine had been preached to them, might have replied unto St. Peter, when he exhorted them to be baptized for their Children’s good; Nay, Peter, even therefore we will not be baptized, for as yet we are sure our Children are in Covenant with God, and reckoned to his family; but if we receive your new way, our children must be counted to the kingdom of the Devil; and so might they in Coloss. 2. when Paul told them they need not be circumcised, because Baptism came in the room of it, they might have replied, that though they need not be circumcised themselves, yet they would still circumcise their children, because Baptism was not to be applied to them according to these men’s Doctrine.
Upon these five Conclusions, 1. That the Covenant of grace is always the same. 2. That the Infants of those in Covenant are always reckoned Covenanters with their Parents. 3. That our Baptism succeeds in the room and use of their Circumcision. 4. That by God’s express order, their Infants were to be Circumcised, as it was a seal of the Covenant. And 5. that our privileges for ourselves and our Children are at least as honorable, large, and comfortable as theirs were: The Conclusion follows undeniably, that therefore the Infants of believing Parents are to be baptized.
Against this Argument the Anabaptists object many things. They say the Covenant was not the same; some of them say, the children of the Jews were not under the Covenant in relation to spiritual things: They say, Circumcision and baptism served not for the same ends and uses: They say Circumcision was administered as a national badge, and properly sealed temporal blessings: They say, whatever privileges Infants of Believers had before Christ’s time, they have now none at all; and many such like things: All which I have so fully cleared in this former Discourse, that I suppose I need not add anymore; the main and only Objection remaining, which hath any color of weight in it, is this,
[Object.] There is no command, no express institution, or clear example in all the New Testament of baptizing of Infants:
[We want a command and example.] And in the administration of Sacraments, we are not to be led by our own reason or grounds of seeming probability, but by the express order of Christ, and no otherwise.
[Answer. Though there be no express command or example.] If by institution, command and example, they mean an express syllabicall command, &c. I grant that in so many words it is not found in the New Testament; no express command in the New Testament that they should be baptized; no express example where Children were Baptized; [Which is not necessary.] but I also add, that I deny the consequence, that if in so many words it be not commanded in the New Testament, it ought not to be done, this is not true divinity, that Christians are not tied to observe that, which is not expressly and in so many words set down in the New Testament; there is no express reviving of the Laws concerning the forbidden degrees of marriage in the New Testament, except of not having a man’s father’s Wife 1 Cor. 8. no express law against Polygamy, no express command for the celebration of a weekly Sabbath; are therefore Christians free in all these cases? Yea, in the Point of Sacraments there is no express command, no example in all the New Testament, where Women received the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; there is no express command that the Children of Believers when they are grown, should be instructed and Baptized, though instructed by their Parents; express command there is, that they should teach the Heathen and the Jews, and make them Disciples, and then baptize them, but no command that the Children of those that are Believers should be baptized when they are grown men; nor any example where ever that was done; will any man therefore say, that Christian women are not to be partakers of the Lord’s Supper, nor the children of believers when grown men be baptized? I think none will be so absurd as to affirm it.
[Yet by good consequence we have command for it. Both in the command given to Abraham which reacheth us.] If it be said, though these things be not expressly, and in terminis in the New Testament, yet they are there virtually, and by undeniable consequence; I confess it is true, so have we virtually, and by undeniable consequence sufficient evidence for the baptizing of children, both commands and examples; For first we have God’s command to Abraham, as he was the Father of all Covenanters, that he should seal his Children with the seal of the Covenant. Now this truth all our Divines defend against the Papists, that all God’s commands and institutions about the Sacraments of the Jews, bind us as much as they did them, in all things which belong to the substance of the Covenant, and were not accidental unto them: as because circumcision is called a seal of the Covenant, therefore our Sacraments are seals of the Covenant: because circumcision might be administered but once, being the seal of initiation; therefore Baptism being also the seal of initiation, is also to be administered but once. But that circumcision was to be administered upon the eighth day only, was an accidental thing, and therefore binds not us; the Jewish Passover being to be yearly repeated, binds us to have a repetition of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which came in room of it, because this belongs to the substance of the Covenant, both of them being Sacraments for spiritual nourishment, growth and continuance in the Covenant; (as the other was for birth and entrance) but that their Passover was to be eaten in an Evening, and upon one set Evening in the year was accidental, and so binds not us. The like instance I give in our Christian Sabbath: the fourth Commandment binds us for the substance of it as much as ever it bound the Jews; There God once for all separated one day of seven to be sacred to himself, and all the world stood bound in all ages to give unto God that one day of seven, which should be of his own choosing. Now until Christ’s time God chose the last day of the seven to be his Sabbath, and having by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, put an end to the Saturday Sabbath, and surrogated the first day of the week instead thereof to be the Lord’s day, we need no new Commandment for the keeping of the Lord’s day, being tied by the fourth Commandment to keep that day of seven which the Lord should choose, the Lord having chosen this, the fourth Commandment binds us to this, as it did the Jews to the former: so in like manner I say in the Sacrament of Baptism.
When God made the Covenant with Abraham, and promised for his part to be the God of him and his seed, what God promised to Abraham, we claim our part in it, as the children of Abraham’s, and what God required on Abraham’s part for the substance of obedience, we all stand charged with, as well as Abraham; we as Abraham are tied to believe, to love the Lord with all our heart, to have our heart circumcised, to walk before God in uprightness, to instruct our children, and bring them up for God and not for ourselves, nor for the Devil, to teach them to worship God according to his revealed will, to train them up under the ordinances and institutions of God’s own appointment: all these things God’s command to Abraham charges upon all the children of the Covenant, though there were no express reviving these commands in any part of the New Testament, and therefore consequently that command of God to Abraham which bound his seed of the Jews, to train up their children in that manner of worship which was then in force, binds the seed of Abraham, now to train up their children in conformity to such ordinances as now are in force.
And the same command which enjoined Abraham to seal his children with the seal of the Covenant, enjoins us as strongly to seal ours with the seal of the Covenant, and that command of God which expressly bound Abraham to seal his with the sign of Circumcision which was the Sacrament then in force, pro tempore; doth virtually bind us to seal ours with the sign of Baptism, which is the Sacrament now in force, and succeeds in the room of the other by his own appointment.
[And in Mat. 28.19. opened and explained.] There is one command by clear consequence, another you shall find, Matth. 28. where our Saviour bids them go and teach all Nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Where you have two things: First, What they were to do; Secondly, To whom they were to do it. They were to preach and teach all things which he had commanded them, that is, they were to preach the whole Gospel, Mark. 16.15. The whole Covenant of Grace, containing all the promises, whereof this is one, viz. that God will be the God of believers, and of their seed, that the seed of believers are taken into Covenant with their Parents. This is a part of the Gospel preached unto Abraham, and they were to Baptize them, that is, to administer Baptism as a Seal of the Covenant to all who received the Covenant. Secondly, we have the persons to whom they were to do this, all Nations, whereas before the Church was tied to one Nation, one Nation only were Disciples, now their Commission was extended to make all Nations Disciples, every Nation which should receive the faith should be to him now, as the peculiar Nation of the Jews had been in time past. In a word, Nations here are opposed to the one Nation before. Now we know when that one Nation of the Jews were made Disciples, and circumcised their infants were made Disciples, (made to belong to God’s School) and circumcised with them, when that nation was made Disciples in Abraham’s loins, and circumcised, their seed also was the same, when that Nation was taken out of Egypt, and actually made Disciples, their children were also with them; and we know that in every Nation the children make a great part of the Nation, and are always included under every administration to the Nation, whether promises or threatenings, privileges or burthens, mercies or judgements, unless they be excepted; so are they in Cities, in Families, it being the way of the Scripture, when speaking indefinitely of a People, Nation, City or Family, to be either saved or damned, to receive mercies or punishments, expressly to except Infants when they are to be excepted, as we see in the judgement that befell Israel in the Wilderness, when all that rebellious Company that came out of Egypt, was to perish by God’s righteous doom, their little ones were expressly excepted, Num. 14.31. and in the Covenant actually entered into by the body of the Nation, [Numb. 14.31 Nehem. 10.28.] Neh. 10. it is expressly limited to them who had knowledge and understanding. And the Disciples who received this Commission knew well, that in all God’s former administrations, when any Parents were made Disciples, their children were taken in with them to appertain to the same school, and therefore it behooved the Lord to give them a caution for the leaving out of Infants in this new administration, that they might know his mind, had he intended to have them left out, which that ever he did in word or deed, cannot be found in the Scriptures.
[Object.] If it be said, they are not capable of being Disciples:
[Answ.] I answer, even as capable as the Infants of Jews, and Proselytes were, when they were made Disciples: and beside, they are devoted to be Disciples, being to be trained up by the Parents, who are from their infancy to teach them the knowledge of Christ, and at the present, they are capable of his own teaching: and sure I am in Christ’s own dialect, to belong to Christ, and to be a Disciple of Christ, [Math 10 42. Mark 9 41. Matth. 18.5.] or to bear the name of Christ, is all one; and that such Infants do belong to Christ, and bear the name of Christ, I have sufficiently proved already.
And I desire it may be seriously weighed whether that expression, Act. 10.15. Now therefore why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the necks of the Disciples, do not necessitate us, to give the name of Disciples to Infants, as well as to grown men: for I reason thus, All they upon whose necks those false Teachers would have put the yoke of circumcision are called Disciples, and to be called Disciples: but they would have put the yoke of circumcision upon Infants, as well as grown men: therefore Infants as well as grown men are called Disciples and to be called so. The major is undeniable, the minor I prove thus: They who pressed circumcision to be in force, according to the manner of Moses Law, and would put it upon their necks after the manner of Moses his Law, they would put it upon Infants of those who were in Covenant with God, as well as upon the necks of those who were grown men, for so Moses Law required: but these false teachers pressed circumcision to be so in force, as is apparent, Act. 15.1.
Another command by good consequence for the baptizing of Infants, you shall find in that forementioned place where the Apostle exhorted them to repent & be baptized, [Act 2.38, 39.] &c. Because the promise was made to them and to their children, which, as I shewed you, clearly proves that the Children of such who believe and are baptized, are taken into Covenant, and therefore by good consequence they also are to receive the seal of the Covenant. The Text not only shewing that they are within the Covenant, but also that a right to Baptism is a consequence of being within the Covenant. Thus for Commands: for Examples, though there should be none, there is no great argument in it, when the rule is so plain, yet we have examples enough, by good consequence, for you shall find the Gospel took place, just as the old administration, by bringing in whole families together; when Abraham was taken in, his whole Family was taken in with him; when any of the Gentiles turned Proselytes, ordinarily their Families came in with them: so in this new Administration, usually if the Master of the House turned Christian, his whole Family came in and were baptized with him; The whole household of Cornelius, the first converted Gentile, Act. 11.14. the household of Stephanus; the household of Aristobulus; the household of Narcissus; the household of Lydia; the household of the Gaoler [Jailer]; these are examples not to be contemned.
And whereas some object against this Argument, taken from whole Families, that the argument is at least as strong to prove that the Jewish Infants did eat the Passover, because not only several Families might, but did, and that by God’s appointment, eat the Passover.
I Answer, by denying the consequence, the argument is not so strong, for the one as for the other, because no other Scripture shews that the Passover doth belong to Infants; but we have other plain Scriptures proving that Baptism is in the room of Circumcision, which belongs therefore to Infants, as well as grown men: If any can instance of any families of Gentiles who were circumcised, the consequence were good, Therefore Infants were, if there were any Infants, because other Scriptures shew that circumcision belongs to Infants as well as grown men, but in this case the argument is not good.
So much for my first and main Argument, they are foederati [covenanted], and therefore must be signati [sealed], they are under the Covenant of Grace, and therefore are to be signed with the seal of admittance into the Covenant.
[2. Argument.] The second Argument, To whom the inward grace of Baptism doth belong, to them belongs the outward sign, they ought to have the sign, who have the thing signified; the earthly part of the Sacrament must be granted to them who have the heavenly part: but the Infants of believers, even while they are Infants are made partakers of the inward grace of Baptism, of the heavenly and spiritual part, as well as grown men: therefore they may, and ought to receive the outward sign of Baptism.
The major Proposition, that they who are made partakers of the inward grace, may not be debarred of the outward sign, is undeniable, it is Peters argument, [Act. 10.47. & 11.17.] Act. 10. Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? and again, Act. 11. For as much as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, what was I that I could withstand God? And this is so clear, that the most learned of the Anabaptists do readily grant, that if they knew any Infants to have received the inward grace, they durst not deny them the outward sign, [Mark. 10.] and that the particular Infants, whom Christ took up in his Arms and blessed, might have been baptized. And for the assumption or minor, That the Infants of Believers, even while they are Infants, do receive the inward grace, as well as grown men, is as plain, not only by that speech of the Apostle, who saith, they are holy, [1 Cor. 7.14.] but our Saviour saith expressly, Mark. 10. That to such belongs the kingdom of God, as well as to grown men: [Mark. 10.14.] And whereas some would evade it, by saying that the Text saith not, to them belongs the Kingdom of God, but of such is the kingdom of Heaven, τοιούτων, of such like, that is, [Luk. 18 17.] such as are graced with such like qualities, who are humble and meek, as children are, and that Luk. 18. is parallel to this, in the meaning of it, Whosoever doth not receive the kingdom of Heaven as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
But I answer, though it be true that in other places this is one use that Christ makes of an Infants age and condition, to shew that such as receive the Kingdom of Heaven, must be qualified with humility, &c. like unto children; yet here it cannot be his meaning, because his argument is, suffer them to come to me and forbid them not, because of such is the Kingdom of God, that is, my Church and Kingdom is made up of these as well as of others. This was the very cause why the Disciples rebuked those who brought the children to Christ, because they were little, not fit to be instructed, and therefore not fit that Christ should be troubled about them; this Christ rebukes in them, and tells them that the littleness of children, is no argument why they should be kept from him: Suffer them, said he, to come, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God: and what kind of argument had this been, if the Text should be interpreted as these men would have it, Suffer little children to come unto me, that I may touch them, take them up in mine arms, put my hands upon them, and blesse them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to them, who have such like qualities, who resemble children in some select properties? By the very same ground, if any had brought doves, and Sheep to Christ, to put his hands upon them, and blesse them, the Disciples had been liable to the same reproof, because of such is the Kingdom of God, such as are partakers of the Kingdom of God, must be endued with such like properties.
Beside, [Matth 3. 1 Cor. 12 13. Gal. 3.27. Tit. 3.5. Mark. 1.3.] what one thing can be named belonging to the initiation, and being of a Christian, whereof Baptism is a seal, which Infants are not capable of, as well as grown men? they are capable of receiving the Holy Ghost, of union with Christ, of adoption, of forgiveness of sins, of regeneration, of everlasting life, all which things are signified and sealed in the Sacrament of baptism. And it is further considerable, that in the working of that inward grace, of which baptism is the sign and seal, all who partake of that grace, are but mere patients, and contribute no more to it, then a child doth to its own begetting, and therefore Infants as fit Subjects to have it wrought in them as grown men, and the most grown men are in no more fitness to receive this grace when it is given them, in respect either of any faith or repentance, which they yet have, then a very little child, it being the primary intention of the Covenant of Grace, in its first work, to shew what Free Grace can and will do to miserable nothing, to cut miserable man off from the wild Olive, and graft him into the true Olive, to take away the heart of stone, to create in them a heart of flesh, to forgive their iniquities, to love them freely, what doth the most grown man in any of these, more than an Infant may do? being only passive in them all; and of this first grace is the Sacrament of Baptism properly a seal: and who ever will deny, that Infants are capable of these things as well as grown men; must deny that any Infants dying in their Infancy are saved by Christ.
Against this Argument several things are objected: which I shall endeavor to remove out of the way.
[Object. 1.] First, It is said, that although Infants are capable of these things, and they no doubt are by Christ wrought in many Infants, yet may not we baptize them, because, according to the Scripture pattern, both of Christ’s command, Matth. 28. in his institution of Baptism, where this was enjoined; and John the Baptist, Christ’s Disciples, and Apostles, They always taught and made them Disciples by teaching, before they baptized any.
[Answ.] I answer, First, that of Matth. 28. is not the institution of Baptism, it was instituted long before, to be the Seal of the Covenant; it’s only an enlargement of their Commission, whereas before they were to go only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, now they were to go unto all the world. And beside, it is nowhere said, that none were baptized, but such as were first taught, and what reason we have to believe the contrary, you have before seen.
Secondly, It is said indeed, that they taught and baptized, and no express mention made of any other: but the reason is plain, there was a new Church to be constituted, all the Jews who should receive Christ, were to come under another administration, and their Infants were to come in only in their right, and the Heathen Nations who were to be converted to Christ, were yet wholly without the Covenant of Grace, and their children could have no right until themselves were brought in; and therefore no marvel, though both John, and Christ’s Disciples, and Apostles, did teach before they baptized, because then no other were capable of baptism: but when once themselves were instructed and baptized, then their children were capable of it, by virtue of the Covenant. If any in the Jewish Church had received Commission, to go and make other Cities, Proselytes to them, their Commission must have run thus, Go teach and circumcise, would it therefore have followed, that none might be circumcised, but such as were first taught?
[Object. 2.] But it is expressly said, That he that believes and is baptized, shall be saved; Faith in Christ is the Condition, upon which men may be baptized: and this is the most common objection among the Anabaptists: Unbelievers may not be baptized, children are unbelievers, therefore they may not be baptized. We have, say they, clear evidence, that Faith is a condition required in those that are to be baptized, no evidence of any other condition that makes them capable of Baptism. Others of them add, that under an affirmative command, the negative is to be included, believing is the affirmative, unbelieving is the negative, therefore where believers are commanded to be baptized, unbelievers are forbidden to be baptized: this objection they much glory in, and some of them dare all the world to answer it.
[Answer.] I Answer first, but if this argument have any strength at all against the Baptizing of infants, it hath much more strength against the salvation of infants; it is said expressly, he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned: [Mark. 16.16.] there ye have both the negative and affirmative set down, He that believes shall be saved, he that believes not shall be damned; now I frame their own argument thus against the salvation of infants, All unbelievers shall be damned, all infants are unbelievers, therefore they shall be damned; now look at what door they will go out, for the salvation of infants, at the same will we go out, for the baptizing of infants; however they will evade the one, we shall much more strongly evade the other, if they say this Text is meant of grown men, of the way which God takes for the salvation of grown men, Infants are saved another way, upon other conditions; the same say we of infant’s baptism, the Text means of the condition of baptizing of grown men, infants are baptized upon other conditions; if, they say, infants though they cannot have actual Faith, they may have virtual Faith, Faith in the seed and root, the same say we; if they say, though infants have not Faith, yet they may have that which is Analogous to faith, the same say we, they have somewhat which hath analogy to faith, and as effectual to make them capable of baptism, as of salvation.
Secondly, I answer, it is nowhere said Unbelievers, (or rather Non-believers it should be said) may not be baptized; it is said indeed, he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; and it is said, that he that believeth with all his heart, may be baptized; it is nowhere said, that he that believeth not, may not be baptized: Therefore I deny the consequence, if all believers must be baptized, then no Unbelievers, or Non-believers may be baptized; these two are not here intended by way of opposition, Christ excludes Infants neither from baptism, nor from salvation for want of faith, but positive Unbelievers, and such as refuse the Gospel he excludes from both: The stone upon which these men stumble, is the ignorance in the opposition in the Scripture they bring, which is not between believers, and their Children, but between them, and Unbelieving and profane persons who are shut from the Lord’s Covenant, Baptism, and Salvation.
[Object. 3.] But suppose they are capable of the inward grace of baptism, and that God doth effectually work it in some of the Infants of believers, is that sufficient warrant for us to baptize all the Infants of Believers? if we knew in what Infants the Lord did work this, we might baptize those Infants, say some of them, but that he doth not make known to us, we cannot know of any one Infant by any ordinary way of knowledge, that they are inwardly baptized with the holy Ghost; and therefore we may not baptize any of them, but wait to see when and in whom God will work the thing signified, and then apply the sign to them.
Answ. Our knowledge that God hath effectually wrought the thing signified, is not the condition upon which we are to apply the sign, God nowhere requires that we should know that they are inwardly and certainly converted, whom we admit to the Sacrament of Baptism, the Apostles themselves were not required to know this of those whom they baptized, if they were, they sinned in baptizing Simon Magus, Alexander, Hymenaeus, Ananias and Saphira, with others: we are indeed required to know that they have in them that condition which must warrant us to administer the sign, not that which makes them possessed of the thing signified; fallible conjectures are not to be our rule in administering of Sacraments, either to Infants of grown men, but a known rule of the word, out of which rule we must be able to make up such a judgment, that our administration may be of faith, as well as out of charity: In baptizing or grown men, the Apostles and Ministers of Christ administered the sign, not because they conjectured that the parties were inwardly sanctified, but because they made that profession of faith and holiness of which they were sure, that whoever had the thing in truth, were received by Christ into inward Communion with himself, and that whoever thus made it; that Christ would have them received into the communion of his Church, though possibly for want of the inward work they were never received into the inward communion with Jesus Christ, indeed when such a confession was made, Christian charity which always hopeth the best, and thinketh no evil, bound them to receive them, and think of them, and converse with them, as with men in whom the inward work was wrought, until they gave signs to the contrary; but this their charity, or charitable conjecture was not the ground of their admitting them to the ordinance, but the profession and confession of the party, made according to the Word, which they were bound to rest in; yea, I greatly question, whether in case Peter or Paul could by the spirit of revelation have known that Ananias or Alexander would have proved no better than hypocrites, whether they either would, or ought to have refused them from Baptism, whilst they made that public profession and confession, upon which others were admitted who in the event proved no better than those were. So that I conclude, not our knowledge of their inward Sanctification, is requisite to the admitting of any to baptism, but our knowledge of the will of Christ, that such who are in such and such condition, should by us be received into the communion of the Church: and in this the rule to direct our knowledge, is as plain for Infants as for grown men, the rule having been always this, That grown men who were strangers from the Covenant of God, Unbelievers, Pagans, Heathens, should upon their being instructed, and upon profession of their faith and promise to walk according to the rule of the Covenant; be received and added to the Church, and made partakers of the seal of their entrance, and their Infants to come in with them; both sorts upon their admission to be charitably hoped of, until they give signs to the contrary, charity being bound from thinking of evil of them, not tied to conclude certainly of any of them, because they ought to know that in all ages, all are not Israel who are of Israel, and that many are called, but few are chosen.
[Object. 4.] But all who enter into Covenant, and receive the seal of the Covenant, must stipulate for their parts, as well as God doth for his, they must indent with God to perform the believers part of the Covenant, as well as God doth to perform his part, as even this Text, 1 Pet. 3. requires, That Baptism which saves us must have the answer of a good conscience to God; [1 Pet. 3.21.] now although it be granted, that Infants are capable of receiving the first grace, if God be pleased to work it in them; yet what answer of a good conscience can there be from Infants unto God? they having not the use of reason, and not knowing what the Covenant means?
Answ. The Infants of the Jews were as much tied as the Infants of believers under the Gospel, every one who was circumcised was bound to keep the Law, Gal. 5. and these men profess that Israelitish Infants were within the old Covenant, when yet they knew not what it meant, nor could have the same use of it with their Parents and others of discretion. Look what answer they will make for the Jews infants, if true, will abundantly satisfy for the Infants of believers under the Gospel.
Secondly, God seals to them presently, their name is put into the deed, and when they come to years of discretion, to be adulti, then in their own persons they stand obliged to the performance of it; in the meantime Jesus Christ, [Heb. 7.22.] who is the surety of the Covenant, and the surety of all the Covenanters, is pleased to be their surety; we know when several parties stand obliged in the same bond, they may seal at several times, and yet be in force afterward together; or even a child sealing in infancy, may agnize [acknowledge] and recognize that sealing, when they come to years of discretion; if then they will renounce it, as done when they understood not, they may free themselves if they please, if they find the former act an inconvenience or burden to them: so is it here, God of his infinite mercy is pleased to seal to Infants while they are such, and accepts of such a seal on their parts, as they are able to give in their Infant age, expecting a further ratification on their part, when they are come to riper years, in the meantime affording them the favor and privilege of being in Covenant with him, of being reckoned unto his kingdom and family, rather than of the Devil’s; if when they are grown men they refuse to stand to this Covenant there is no hurt done on God’s part, let them serve another God, and take their lot for time to come.
[Object. 5.] But what benefit comes to children by such kind of sealing as this is? it seems then (say they) by your own confession, that this is but a conditional sealing on God’s part, viz: that they own it, and ratify it when they come to age, and if they then refuse to stand to it, all is then nullified, were it not therefore better to defer it to their years of discretion, to see whether they will then make it their own voluntary act, yea, or no?
Answ. 1. This objection lay as strongly against God’s wisdom in requiring the Jews’ Infants, even in their Infancy thus to seal; and therefore argues no great wisdom or modesty in men, who would thus reason with God about his administrations. 2. God hath other ends and uses of applying the seal of the Covenant to them who are in Covenant with him, then their present gain, it’s a Homage, Worship, and Honor to himself, and it behooves us even in that respect, to fulfill all righteousness: when Christ was baptized and circumcised, he was as unfit for the ordinance, through his perfection, as children through their imperfection, being as much above them, as children are below them.
3. I Answer; The benefit and fruit of it at the present is very much, both to the Parents and to the children; to the Parents first, whilst God doth hereby honor them to have their children counted to his Church, to his kingdom, and family, to be under his wing and grace, whilst all the other Infants in the world have their visible standing under the Prince, and in the kingdom of darkness, and consequently whilst others have no hope of their children’s spiritual welfare, until they be called out of that condition, these need not have any doubt of their children’s welfare, if they die in their Infancy, nor if they live until they shew signs to the contrary: God having both reckoned them unto his people, and given them all the means of salvation, which an Infants age is capable of.
Secondly, here is much privilege and benefit to the children, when as (beside what inward secret work God is pleased to work in them) they being Members of the Church of Christ have their share in the Communion of Saints are remembered at the throne of Grace, every day by those that pray for the welfare of the Church, and particularly in those prayers which are made for his blessing upon his Ordinances.
And lastly, it’s no small privilege to have that Seal bestowed upon them in their Infancy, which may afterwards plead when they are grown and come to fulfill the condition.
[Object. 6.] But if their being capable of the spiritual part, must entitle them to the outward sign, why then do we not also admit them to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which is the seal of the Covenant of Grace, as well as the Sacrament of Baptism? And this is urged, the rather, because (say they) the Infants of the Jews did eat of the Passover, as well as were circumcised; now if our Infants have every way as large a privilege as the Infants of the Jews had, then can we not deny them the same privilege which their Infants had, and consequently they must partake of the one Sacrament, as well as the other.
[Answ.] I answer, that Infants are capable of the grace of Baptism we are sure, not sure that they are capable of the grace signed and sealed in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, for though both of them are seals of the new Covenant, yet it is with some difference; Baptism properly seals the entrance into it, the Lord’s Supper properly the growth, nourishment and augmentation of it; Baptism for our birth, the Lord’s Supper for our food; now Infants may be born again while they are Infants, have their Original sin pardoned, be united to Christ, have his Image stamped upon them, but concerning the exercise of these graces and the augmentation of them in Infants, while they are Infants, the Scripture is altogether silent, and for what is said concerning the Infants of the Jews eating the Passover, to which our Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper doth succeed, there is no such thing mentioned in all the Book of God, it is said indeed that the several families were to eat their Lamb, if the household were not too little for it, and that when their children should ask them what that service meant, they should instruct them about the meaning of it; but no word enjoining, nor any example witnessing, that their little children did eat of it. [Exod. 12.3, 4, 26, 27.] If they say (as some of them do) that those little ones, who were able to enquire concerning the meaning of that service, and capable to receive instruction about it, did eat of the Passover with their Parents; I answer, (although the Scripture speaks nothing of their eating, yet if that be granted) it is no prejudice to us, because the Gospel prohibits not such young ones from the Lord’s Supper, who are able to examine themselves, and discern the Lord’s Body. [1 Cor. 11.]
[Application. First, for reproof of the Anabaptists.] Thus have I according to my poor ability made good this second argument also, and vindicated it from all Objections of any weight which I have met with all to the contrary, it remains that I wind up all, with a brief Application.
And first it serves for just reproof of the Anabaptists, and all such as by their rash and bloody sentence condemn Infants, as out of the state of Grace; it’s a great sin to pass sentence upon any particular person for any one act, as was that of Eli, concerning Hannah, how much more heinous is it to condemn all the Infants of the whole Church of Christ, [1 Sam 1.] as having nothing to do with the Covenant of Grace, or the seal of it? We read of Herod the Tyrant, [Mat. 2 16.] that he destroyed all the children in Bethlehem, and the Coasts thereof from two years old and under; is not this a far more cruel sentence, to set these in no better state then Pagans and Infidels, [Ephe. 2 12.] Without Christ, aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, as strangers from the Covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world? can any sober Christian think this a small fault? Our blessed Saviour saith, It is not lawful to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs, but these men take Children, and in their judgement, conclude them for no better than dogs; baptism is the bread of the Lord, which he would have given to his children, and to deny it to them as none of their right, is to make them no better than dogs. The Prophet Elisha wept when he looked upon Hazael, because he foresaw that he would dash the infants of Israel against the wall, and even Hazael thought himself worthy to be esteemed a dog if ever he should do such a thing. But certainly, thus to dash all Infant children of believers out of the Covenant of Grace (as much as in them lieth) & to deprive them of the seal of it, is in a spiritual sense far more heavy. And I dare appeal to the tender bowels of any believing Parents, whether it were not easier for them to think that their Infants should be dashed against the stones, and yet in the meantime to die under Christ’s wing, as visible Members of his Kingdom, Church and Family, rather than to have them live, and behold them to have a visible standing only in the Kingdom of the Devil: These men know not how much they provoke Christ’s displeasure against themselves; He was greatly displeased with his own Disciples for forbidding little children to come unto him; & one day such men will know, that he is much more displeased with them, who with so great violence oppose the bringing of believers’ children unto his holy Sacrament, that with unspeakable wrong, injury, and slander, they prosecute all the Ministers of Christ, who give Infants this their due, condemning them for Ministers of Antichrist, and limbs of the Beast; yea, some of them proceeding so far, as condemning all the Churches of Christ, to be no Churches, who cast not their children out of the Covenant of Grace, and the seal of it, and do cry out upon the Baptizing of Infants, as one of those great sins which bring and continue all our judgements upon us. The Apostate Emperor Julian is justly cried out upon for his cruelty against the Christians, for denying to their bodies human Sepulture; how much more cruel is it to deny to the souls of Infants the just privilege and benefit of the Covenant of Grace? We know he did it out of hatred to Christianity, which I am far from charging upon these men; but if we compare the sentence and fact of the one with the other, we shall find the latter (be their principle what it will) far more injurious to the Church of Christ then the other: The Lord in mercy give them to see how unjust that sentence, and how heavy that doom is, which they thus pass, not only upon Infant Children, but upon all the Churches of Christ; and seriously to consider, whether the Lord, who once in his displeasure threatened to dash their Infants against the Stones, who had dashed the Infants of the children of Israel against the Stones, [Psal. 131.8, 9.] will endure it at the hands of any to expunge the Seed of the faithful out of his Covenant, and to drive them from his City and Kingdom after this cruel manner.
[2. Use. To Parents. First for their comfort.] Secondly, how much may this comfort the Soule of every believing Parent, to behold this great love and goodness of God in his Covenant of Grace to them and their posterity, that not only themselves, but even their Infants for their sakes, should be reckoned to the household of God, put into the Ark, wrapped up in a Covenant of love, brought under the wing of God? When God had promised to David, that he should have a son to whom God would be a Father, and that all his posterity, should after such a gracious manner be regarded, his heart was even ravished with it, O Lord God (said he) what am I, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? and this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God, [2 Sam. 7.] but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and is this the manner of men, O Lord God? And even so should Christian Parents break out into admiration of his goodness, in taking their children into that gracious Covenant, which is not only the womb and vessel, but also the well-head of so many mercies, which are terminated, not in themselves, but flow down to their posterity from generation to generation.
And this is yet more admirable in our eyes, when we seriously consider, how unclean and filthy, how viperous a brood they are, as proceeding out of our loins, empty of all goodness, full of all wickedness, an unclean leprosy having bespread them from the crown of the Head to the sole of the Foot, fit only to be cast into the open field, to the loathing of their persons, in the day that they are born, [Isa. 16. Ezek. 16.5.] as all the rest of the world are; and that God should set his heart upon such as these, to take them thus near unto Himself, when he passes by both Parents and Infants of all the world beside, now would our hearts melt in his praises, if we could consider these things?
[2. For their duty to provoke them to be ashamed for their carelessness, &c. in time past.] How should this engage all Christian Parents to look to the education of their Children, to bring them up in the nurture and fear of the Lord? It’s a woeful thing, to consider the wretched carelessness of many Parents; yea, not only carelessness, but ungodliness of many Parents; who prostitute their children to the Devil and his service, after they have consecrated them to Christ by baptism; [Ezek. 16.20. Psal. 106.37.] train them up in ignorance, profaneness, &c. To whom God may say, as he did to that Harlot, Ezek. 16. Thou hast taken my Son and my Daughter, whom thou hast born unto me, and these thou hast sacrificed unto Devils. A generation of wretched men, who take more care of their Hogs and Dogs, then they do of their Infants’ immortal souls, nourishing the former, murdering the latter; that we may say of them, as Augustus did of Herod, that it is better to be Herod’s Dog then his Son. I have often heard a sad Story of a wretched Woman, who persuaded her Daughter to yield to the lust of a rich man, in hope he would marry her, as he had promised to do; which she did, and presently after fell sick and died; The wretched mother hereupon grew distracted, and in her madness cried out, O my Daughter’s soul, my Daughter’s soul, I have damned my Daughter’s soul: Verily, thus may many Parents cry out upon themselves for murdering their children’s souls; and their children may wish that they had been either dogs, or swine, rather than their Sons or Daughters; miserable children, of miserable Parents; what will such Parents answer God, when he comes to demand his children of them? Suppose a Prince or Noble man should put a Child to Nurse unto some mean man, and pay them well for the education of it; or rather suppose a Great man should adopt the child of a poor man to be his own, and should say unto this poor man, as Pharaoh’s daughter said to Moses’ mother, Bring up this Child for me, [Exod. 2.19.] and I will give thee thy wages; & afterward coming to see this child, should find they had lamed the child, and taught it nothing but to speak evil of them, and to fight against them: think I pray you what they would say, or do to this wretched man.
[And to nurse them up for Christ in time to come.] How much more abominable is the sin of many Parents, who by their own carelessness, and vile example, leaven their children with principles, and lead them in ways quite contrary to the Covenant of grace, tending to nothing, but to dishonor God, and to their own destruction.
[Praying for them.] If any of you have been guilty of it in time past, be deeply humbled for it, crave mercy and pardon; and for time to come, endeavor to do the part of a nursing Father or Mother for Christ, looking upon thy children as being Christ’s more than thine, yea, as not being thine, but Christ’s, to whom thou hast consecrated them, and therefore (as wise and loving Nurses use to do) carry them often to their father for his blessing, and he will bless them, and reward thee also; we find in the second of Joel, that in the day of their Fast, they were to bring their children and set them before the Lord, [Joel 2.16.] that he might be moved to compassion for the children’s sake whom he used to call his own; set thou thy children often before him, entreat him as Joseph did his father for his two sons, and as they did our Saviour, Mark 10. that he would put his hands upon them and bless them; Do it heartily, humbly, frequently, tell him how dear they are to thee, and the dearer because he is pleased to own them, tell him their wants, and thy own inability to supply them in anything, and how easy it is for him to do it by his Spirit and Grace; Oh that Ishmael might live in thy sight, said Abraham; Say thou so also, Lord let these children live before thee, thine they are, and thou gavest them me to bring up for thee, Oh blesse my labor among them, and make them such as thou wouldest have them to be.
And do not only pray for them, [2 Tim. 1, 5.3.15.] but discipline them and instruct them, acquainting them with the Scriptures, and Catechising them in the Principles of Religion; as the Mother and Grandmother of Timothy did him, training him up from his infancy, in the knowledge of the holy Scripture; and be assured, if thy children may learn from thee to know their heavenly Father, to believe in him, to love him, and fear him betimes, that being taught the trade in their youth, they may not forsake it when they are old, they will then more bless God for thee, then if thou couldest leave them all the world for their inheritance; it was for this that Solomon gloried in his father and mother, [Prov. 4.2, 3.] Prov. 4.2, 3. and for this will thy children rise up and call thee blessed. Thus shalt thou approve thyself a true son of Abraham; Thus shall thy children be blessed with faithful Abraham, Thus shall the Covenant, the spiritual part and benefit of it, as well as the outward, rest upon thy posterity from generation to generation.
[To all baptized ones, for comfort when they believe and repent.] Thirdly, and lastly, This serves for use to all children whom God honors so far, as in their Infancy to bring thus near unto himself, and to use them thus as his own, and that three several ways; First, to encourage and comfort them to believe in him, and rest upon him, for all the good things which he hath promised in the Covenant of Grace. The Papists, as in some things they give and ascribe too much to Baptism, making it to take away original sin, ex opere operato [from the working of the work]: So in other things they rob God’s people of the comfortable use of it, because they say that when once we commit actual sins we make shipwreck of Baptism, and then Penance must be secunda tabula post naufragium [a second plank after shipwreck], a Cockboat [i.e., a small rowboat] after our shipwreck; but this blessed Sacrament seeks for a more durable and comfortable use, even to be an Ark, as my Text calls it, to carry to heaven. Know then that whensoever thou findest thyself at a loss, sensible of thy undone condition, findest thy guilt, and filth, and bondage, through sin, and fleest unto Christ, and thy conscience witnesseth with thee, that thou wouldest walk for time to come, according to the rule of the Covenant, in uprightness, to make God in Christ thy portion, and his word thy guide; So often I say as thou doest this, mayest thou fly to thy Baptism, and plead it for thy comfort, as we may plead the Rainbow in foul weather against the worlds destruction by water. I have often heard a story of a great Queen, who gave a Ring to a Nobleman, while he was her Favorite, and willed him to send it to her when he should stand in greatest need of her favor; who afterward falling into her displeasure, sent the Ring, which through the treachery of the bearer was not delivered till it was too late: But it shall never happen so to thee, do thou in all thy extremity, shew or send by the hand of faith thy Seal, which God hath given thee, plead it confidently, and to thy dying day, it may be an Ark unto thy soul in all cases of relapse, desertion, temptation, or whatever else may betide thee, upon the renewing of thy repentance and faith in Christ Jesus.
[To humble such as walk unworthy of this privilege.] Secondly, This great love of God in taking us thus near into his own Family, as his own Children, should make many of us blush, to remember our unworthy conversation, in times past; yea, it might make our very hearts to bleed, and make us not only wish we had been unbaptized, but even unborn, rather than to pollute the holy Covenant, and the seal of it, as we have done with our unhallowed lives: Can it seem a light thing in our eyes, that when God hath left the greatest part of the world, as strangers from his Family and Kingdom, to be under Satan’s kingdom, and taken us (no better by nature than they are) to be his peculiar ones into Covenant with him, that he should swear unto us, to be our God, and hitherto to train us up under such heavenly Ordinances, and we to walk in the meantime as rebels and enemies unto him, like the unbaptized world? can we think our condemnation not to be greater than theirs? Let me a little reason the case with you, Do you know into what a Covenant the Lord hath taken you? what he hath done for you, and expects from you? have not your Ministers and Parents instructed you in it? Now tell me what is the reason of your unanswerable conversation, is it because you renounce the Covenant, as being made when you understood it not? if so, that you do indeed renounce it, Take your course, serve the God you have chosen, yet tell me (I beseech you) what iniquity is in the Lord’s Covenant? what hurt is there in it? what disadvantage have you met withal? or where and how do you hope to find better things, then God to be your Father, Christ Jesus to be your Saviour, the Spirit to be your Comforter? to have your sins pardoned and healed, to be adopted, justified, sanctified, and every way comfortably provided for here, and saved forever? Do the Gods you have chosen to serve, provide better things then these, that you renounce Christ for their sakes? If you say, God forbid you should renounce Christ; No, you hope to be saved by Christ, as well as any other: Then tell me in good sadness, do you expect that Christ should stand bound to perform his part of the Covenant, and you left at liberty for your part? that he should love you, and you hate him? that he should be your God, and you remain the Devil’s servant? that he should provide Heaven for you, and you walk in the way which leads to Hell? O how much are you deceived! I tell you he hath sworn the contrary, he hath heaped up tribulation and wrath for every soul which doth evil, for the Jew first, for the baptized first; and you will one day find, that it had been better you had never lived in his house, nor been trained up under his Covenant, then thus to profane it, and make the blood of it as an unholy thing.
[To provoke to a holy life for time to come.] This great privilege should engage us all for time to come, to make our Baptism a continual motive to an answerable conversation, to live as men who are dead unto sin, and alive unto God; to account that it ought to be as strange, to see a baptized man walk in a sinful course as to see a Spectrum a walking Ghost: We are buried with Christ in Baptism; and how can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein? [Col. 2.12.] We are planted into his family, made his Children, have his Spirit dwelling in us; yea, thereby made one with Christ: All this, we lay claim to, by our Baptism, shall not this inforce us to live answerably? Luther tells a Story of a gracious Virgin, who used to get the victory over Satan when he tempted her to any sin, Satan I may not do it, Baptizata sum, I am Baptized, and must walk accordingly: So should we argue, Let base persons live basely, noble and generous men must live nobly; let Turks and Pagans live wickedly, the holy seed must live holily and righteously: keep it daily in thy thoughts, what thy Baptism engageth thee unto, and that if thou walk otherwise, it will rise up extremely to aggravate thy condemnation in the last day. It was a custom in the latter end of the Primitive times, That such as were baptized, did wear a white Stole (a human Ceremony, to signify their purity of life which the baptized was to lead, Fulgentes animas vestis quo que candida signat. [Their bright clothing which indicates their radiance]) Now there was one Elpidophorus, who after his baptism turned a persecutor; Muritta the Minister who baptized him, brought forth in public the white Stole which Elpidophorus had worn at his Baptism, and cried unto him; O Elpidophorus! this Stole do I keep against thy coming to Judgement, to testify thy Apostasy from Christ; do thou in like manner assure thyself the very Font wherein thou wast baptized, the Register wherein thy Name is recorded, will rise up against thee, if thou lead not a holy life: The Covenant is holy, the Seal is holy, let these provoke thee to study to be holy, yea to draw holiness from them. Consider what I say, And the Lord give you understanding in all things.