Page images
PDF
EPUB

not « disciple” him, how can an infant be discipled by a SECT.

IV. process that leaves an adult unaffected ? But the futility of this attempt is rendered evident by referring to the language of Mark; there is the mission-preaching—be. ieving-baptism-sa'vation. “He that believeth and is baptized :" can language be more explicit? Well may the excellent Baxter observe :

“ As for those that say they are discipled by baptizing, Views of and not before baptizing, they speak not the sense of the Mr. Baxter. text; not that which is true or rational-else why should one be baptized more than another? This is not like some occasional historical mention of baptism; but it is the very commission of Christ to his apostles, for preach. ing and baptizing; and purposely expresseth their several works in their several places and order. Their first task is, by teaching, to make disciples, which are by Mark called believers. The second work is, to baptize them, whereto is annexed the promise of their salvation. The third work is, to teach them all other things which are afterwards to be learned in the school of Christ. To contemn this order, is to renounce all rules of order; for where can we expect to find it, if not here? I profess, my conscience is fully satisfied from this text, that it is one kind of faith, even saving, that MUST GO BEFORE BAPTISM ; and the profession whereof, the minister must expect.'

No baptist could have expressed himself more de-Calvin's cidedly than Mr. Baxter has done; it is surprising how, with such views, he could still continue the practice of infant sprinkling. Calvin, though not so decided in his expressions, seems to be troubled with doubts, in con. sequence of the language used in the commission. He

[ocr errors]

doubt.

b Disput. of Right to Sacr. p. 91, 149, 150.

of the terms

CHAP. observes in his commentary on this passage; “ Because II.

Christ requires teaching before baptizing, and will have believers only admitted to baptism, baptism does not seem

rightly administered except faith precede.” Conformity Can any candid mind feel otherwise than that the of the com- commission of Christ to his disciples is in exact conmission to the practice

formity to his own practice and that of John; with the of Christ exception that both the preaching and the administration and of John.

of baptism were now, though as inseparably united as heretofore, to take a wider range through all nations, instead of being confined to the land of Judea ? Who can draw any other conclusion, after the investigation of every passage relating to the subject of baptism, to be found in the writings of the four evangelists, than that not the least intimation of a direction to baptize or sprinkle infants exists ; but that the practice of John, the example of Christ, the practice of his disciples, and the very terms of his great commission, all are utterly opposed to any thing but immersion as the mode, and be. lievers as the subjects of Christian baptism ?

c I am aware that, strictly speaking, immersion is simply baplism-not a mode of baptism; but convenience and established custom sometimes seem to require a use of terms etymologically incorrect.

CHAPTER III.

TESTIMONY FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

THE potency of example in the elucidation and incul. CHAP.

III. cation of doctrines and precepts, is admitted by all writers, both sacred and profane. Hence the deeds of Influence of

example. illustrious sovereigns were recorded in the royal histories of the ancient despotisms of Babylon and Persia ; hence the esteem in which the lives of ancient heroes, statesmen, and philosophers were held; hence the value of the biographies of the worthies who in every age of the church have not counted their lives dear that they might win souls to Christ; and hence, in accordance with this universal law of our nature, the Spirit of Wisdom has directed the holy penmen to fill many a page with the obedience of a host of the faithful, among whom Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Daniel, John, and Paul, shine as stars in the firmament.

The manner in which the apostles conducted the Was the administration of the gospel system, both as to the infants the

baptism of indoctrination of its peculiar theology, and the practice practice of of its peculiar institutions, is admitted by all to be a tles ? divine commentary on the instructions they had received from their Lord and ours. If, therefore, as strongly maintained by podobaptist writers, the baptism of infants was not directly charged upon the disciples by the great Legislator of the church, because, from the inclusion of infants in the Jewish theocracy, no specific direction for

the apos

CHAP. their admission to the initiatory rite of the Christiani
III.

church was necessary, we may hope to find that the 1
practice of the apostles, either on one side or other, will
place this matter beyond all reasonable doubt. Let us
then enter, with an impartial mind, on the investigation
of the only divine church history which exists, and
examine if any instance either of the baptism of infants
or of the sprinkling the believer, is found in its sacred
pages. Let every passage be scrutinized with that com-
bined severity and candour which the importance of the
subject demands.

SECTION I.

THE BAPTISM WHICH FOLLOWED PETER'S SERMON.

Acts ii. 37 “Now, when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart,

and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and 38 brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent,

and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for

the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy 39 Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to

all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save

yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 " Then they that gladly received his word were baptized : and

the same day there were added unto them about three thousand 42 souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine and

fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Peter's con- After the wondrous outpouring of the Spirit, which, gregation and dis- among other invaluable blessings, conferred on the

apostles the marvellous gift of tongues, had been “noised abroad” in Jerusalem, a multitude, among whom were Jews from every region between the Indus and the

course,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Bosphorus, and between the Black Sea and the Cataracts SECT.

I. of the Nile, being assembled together, they were thrown into a state of utter astonishment by hearing each one of them the gospel in their own peculiar tongue or dialect. Their attention being thus powerfully and legitimately excited, Peter addressed to his hearers, thus prepared of the Lord, his most powerful discourse. A large proportion of the audience were, at its close, so convinced by the irrefragable arguments, and affected by the sim. ple appeals of the apostle, that they cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The apostle assures them, that to “ repent, and be baptized,” was their solemn and immediate duty.

It was not customary for females to bring their babes Qualificato such a crowd as this; it is possible, however, that those bap: infants in the arms of their fond mothers might have been

tized. present : but then they were clearly neither parties to the inquiry, nor recipients of the instructions given in reply; and the baptism which followed is strictly limited by the sacred historian to those “ that gladly received the word.” If infants were present, therefore, on this occasion, they were excluded from the ordinance of baptism : and instead of receiving it with their parents, were handed to some kind friends to hold, while their fathers or mothers descended into the baptismal wave. It is urged in behalf of infants, that “ the promise is to The ",

",proyou and your children ;”-true ; but it is added, “ many as the Lord our God shall call.” When children hear, understand, love, and obey the call of the Lord our God," none should hesitate to lead them to follow their Lord.

A vague idea respecting “ the promise" referred to by Not that Peter, associating the phrase with the Abrahamic cove. Abrahamic nạnt, seems to confuse the minds of some pædobaptist writers; but the promise referred to is evidently that

mise." as

covenant.

« PreviousContinue »