Page images

CII AP. the second century,' rather speak against an apostolical VII.


Prof. Hann's Theology, p. 556 : “ According to its true, original design, it can be given only to adults, who are capable of true knowledge, repentance, and faith. Neither in the Scriptures, nor during the first hundred and fifty years, is a sure example of infant baptism to be found; and we must concede, that the numerous opposers of it cannot be contradicted on gospel ground.Few men stand so high in public estimation, for piety, sense, and learning, as Prof. Hahn, of Breslau.

PROF. LANGE, in his recent work on Infant Baptism, p. 101, observes : “All attempts to make out infant baptism from the New Testament fail. It is totally opposed to the spirit of the apostolic age, and to the fundamental principles of the New Testament.”

BAUMGARTEN-CRUSIUS, Hist. of Theology, p. 1208: “Infant baptism can be supported neither by a distinct apostolical tradition, nor apostolical practice.”

OLSHAUSEN, vol. ii. p. 454: “ By the introduction of infant baptism, which was certainly not apostolical, the relative position of baptism, after the ebullition of spiritual gifts had passed away, was changed ; the outward act returned back to the rank of John's baptism, and necessarily received confirmation, as supplying an internal deficiency;"-and, vol. i. p. 158: “In infant baptism, which the church at a later period, for wise reasons, introduced, the sacred rite returned back, as it were, to the inferior rank of John's baptism." An ingenious mode of concession!

1 Dr. Neander alludes probably to the “opposition” of Tertullian. It will clearly appear, however, (in the next section) that his remarks were against the baptism of children, not bubes.

MYERs, in his commentary on Acts xvi. 15, also sus. SECT.

IV. tains the same position: “ Baptism without faith never appears [in the Scripture, and is contrary to Matt. xxviii. 19, [the commission.] The early and continued opposition to infant baptism would have been inexplicable if it had been an undoubted apostolical institution.”n

“ GESENIUS, being informed, in conversation, that the baptists in America reject infant baptism, and baptize only adults, on profession of faith, replied : 6that is perfectly right; that is according to the Bible.'

One more attestation from an historian, (one of those whom Dr. Miller would term “neither a theologian nor sectarian,") the celebrated MENZELL, and for the present I will forbear. “One of these last (abuses) was infant baptism, a departure from the original form of the sacrament, which had existed for centuries in the church, which, indeed, very pertinent reasons can be offered,) but it is nevertheless a DEPARTURE.” p

[ocr errors]


Although, however, there is no evidence in favour of Proof from

Justin Marthe existence of infant baptism, in the first century, tyr that inthere is decisive evidence against it. It is clear that fant bap.

tism did not Justin Martyr, who lived one hundred and forty years exist in the after the Christian æra, knew nothing of it. The German writer, SEMLER," says: “From Justin Martyr's description of baptism (Second Apol. p. 93,) we learn that it was administered only to adults. He says, “We were (corporeally) born without our will (kať anagkën)-but x27’dvezeno

first century.


Myers' Critical Commentary on the New Testament. Gottin. gen, 1835, vol. iii. p. 215. • Christian Review, vol. iii. p.

201. p K. H. Menzell's Modern History of the Germans and the Re. formation. Breslau, 1826, vol. i. p. 123.

9 Baumgarten's Rel. Controversies, vol. ii. p. 64.

CHAP. we are not to remain children of necessity and ignorance VII.

(as to our birth,) but in baptism are to have choice,

knowledge, &c. This we learned from the apostles.Was Dr. “ We should be obliged to accuse Dr. Woods of unfairWoods aware of

ness,” justly observes the learned reviewer of Burgess on the exist.. Baptism, “in keeping back this decisive testimony against ence of this passage ? himself, were it not, that he might be acquitted, on the

ground of not knowing that there was such a passage in the works of Justin Martyr. Here we have, from the earliest Christian Father, a positive testimony against infant baptism; an assertion, that the baptism which had been handed down from the Apostles was an ordinance in which one was to exercise choice and knowledge. How much stronger is this early testimony, than the later Gnostic tradition of Origen, and the still later belief of the polemic Augustine, in regard to such a tradition !" r

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THIRTEEN individuals who lived during the second century are dignified with the title of Fathers ; of these, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, Atheagoras, Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, and Tertullian, the first of the Latin Fathers, are regarded as the most eminent, at least as to their writings. The apologies, or public appeals in defence of Christianity, both of Justin and Tertullian, are admirable documents, breathing a spirit

Fathers of the second century.

r Christian Review, vol. iii. p. 205..

which is an honour to renewed humanity, or rather to sect.

V. that holy influence which inspired those noble sentiments.”

a I shall make an extract from Tertullian, in justification of this remark, the more readily as it tends to show that in the second century, while corruption had begun to spread, yet there were many who retained much of the simplicity of doctrine and benevolence of spirit of the Divine Founder of Christianity, though, as in the case of Tertullian, serious errors were intermingled with their faith.

"We pray for the safety of the emperors of the eternal God, the true, the living God, whom emperors themselves would desire to be propitious to them, above all others who are called gods. We, looking up to heaven, with upstretched hands, because they are harmless, with naked heads, because we are not ashamed, without a prompter, because we pray from the heart, constantly pray for all emperors and kings, that they may have a long life, a secure empire, a safe palace, strong armies, a faithful senate, a well moralized people, a quiet state of the world: whatever Cæsar could wish for himself in his private or public capacity. I cannot solicit these things from any other than from Him from whom I know I shall obtain them, if I ask agreeably to his will; because he alone can do these things; and I expect them from him, being his ser. vant, who worships him alone, and am ready to lose my life in his service. Thus, then, let the claws of wild beasts pierce us, or their feet trample upon us, while our hands are stretched out to God let crosses suspend us, let fires consume us, let swords pierce our breasts ;-a praying Christian is in a frame for enduring any thing. How is this, ye generous rulers? Will ye kill the good subjects who supplicate God for the emperor ? Were we disposed to render evil for evil, it were easy for us to avenge the injuries we sustain. But God forbid, that his people should vindicate themselves by human force; or be reluctant to endure that by which their sincerity is evinced. Were we disposed to act the part, I will not say of secret assassins, but of open enemies, should we want forces and numbers? It is true we are but of yesterday, and yet we have filled all your towns, cities, islands, castles, boroughs, councils, camps, courts, palaces, senate, forum; we leave you only your temples. For what war should we not be ready and well prepared, even though unequal in numbers, we who dic with so much pleasure, were it not that our religion requires rather to suffer death



It will be granted, surely, that infant baptism must be found in this century, as a general practice, or the plea of attaching it even to apostolic tradition must be aban. doned. I shall proceed to quote all the passages that are relied on by the advocates of infant baptism.

In presenting these extracts from the writings of the Fathers in this and the following sections, most of them will be the translations of Dr. Wall, and of course will not be objected to by those whose cause he so strenuously and ably advocated.

than to inflict it? If we were to make a general secession from your dominions, you would be astonished at your solitude. We are dead to all ideas of worldly honours and dignity; nothing is more foreign to us than political concerns; the whole world is our · republic. We are a body united in one bond of religion, discipline, and hope. We meet in our assemblies for prayer. We are com. pelled to have recourse to the divine oracles for caution and recollection on all occasions. We nourish our faith by the word of God; we erect our hope, we fix our confidence, we strengthen our discipline, by repeatedly inculcating precepts, exhortations, corrections, and by excommunication when it is needful. This last, as being in the sight of God, is of great weight; and is a serious warning of future judgment, if any one behave in so scandalous a manner as to be debarred from holy communion. Those who preside among us, are elderly persons, not distinguished for opulence, but worthiness of character. Every one pays something into the public chest once a month, or when he pleases, and according to his ability and inclination, for there is no compulsion. These gifts are, as it were, the deposits of piety. Hence we relicve and bury the needy; support orphans and decrepid persons;. those who have suffered shipwreck, and those who, for the word of God, are condenned to the mines, or imprisonment. This very charity of ours has caused us to be noticed by some; • See,' say they, how these Christians love one another !”—Jones's Church History, vol. i. p. 234-236.

• It gives me pleasure to speak of this author as he deserves. The plan and execution of Dr. Wall's work is, in the general, such as is

« PreviousContinue »