A Reply to
a Defense of the Divine Right
of Infant Baptism,
Peter Clark, A.M. Minister at Salem
In A Letter To A Friend At Boston In New-England. To Which Are Added, Some Strictures On A Late Treatise, Called, A Fair And Rational Vindication Of The Right Of Infants To The Ordinance Of Baptism.
Written by David Bostwick, A.M.
Late Minister of the Presbyterian Church in the City of New-York
It is necessary that the reader should be acquainted with the reason of the republication of the following treatise. In the year 1746, a pamphlet was printed at Boston in New England,called, "A brief Illustration and Confirmation of the Divine Right of Infant-baptism," written by Mr.. Dickinson;which being industriously spread about in great numbers, to hinder the growth of the Baptist-Interest in those parts, it was sent over to me by some of our friends there, requesting an answer to it; which I undertook, and published in the year 1749, entitled, "The Divine Right of Infant-baptism examined and disproved." Upon which Peter Clark,A.M. Minister at Salem in New England,was employed to write against it, and which he did; and what he wrote was printed and published at Boston in 1752, called, "A Defense of the Divine Right of Infant-baptism." This being sent over to me, I wrote a Reply, in a letter to a friend at Boston,in the year 1753, as the date of my letter shews, giving leave to make use of it, as might be thought fit; and which was printed and published at Boston in 1734, together with a Sermon of mine on Baptism preached at Barbican,1750. The controversy lying beyond the seas, I chose it should continue there, and therefore never reprinted and republished my Reply here, though it has been solicited; but of late Mr. Clark's Defense has been sent over here, and published, and advertised to be sold; which is the only reason of my reprinting and republishing the following Reply; to which I have added some scriptures on a treatise of Mr. Bostwick's on the same subject, imported from America,with the above Defense, and here reprinted. The Paedobaptists are ever restless and uneasy, endeavoring to maintain and support, if possible, their unscriptural practice of Infant-baptism; though it is no other than a pillar of Popery; that by which antichrist has spread his baneful influence over many nations; is the basis of national churches, and worldly establishments; that which unites the church and the world, and keeps them together; nor can there be a full separation of the one from the other, nor a thorough reformation in religion, until it is wholly removed: and though it has so long and largely obtained, and still does obtain; I believe with a firm and unshaken faith, that the time is hastening on, when Infant-baptism will be no more practiced in the world; when churches will be formed on the same plan they were in the times of the apostles; when gospel-doctrine and discipline will be restored to their primitive luster and purity; when the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper will be administered as they were first delivered, clear of all present corruption and superstition; all which will be accomplished, when the Lord shall be king over all the earth, and there shall be one Lord, and his name one.
A REPLY, ETC.
IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND.
I Acknowledge the receipt of your Letter on the 22d of last March,and with it Mr. Clark's Defense of the Divine Right of Infant-baptism,etc. which I have since cursorily read over; for I thought it a too great waste of time to give it a second reading. Nor will my engagement in a work of greater importance permit me to write a set and labored answer to it; nor am I willing to bestow so much time and pains as are necessary to cleanse that Augean stable, and remove all the dirt and rubbish this writer has collected together. The remarks I made in reading, I here send you. At first setting out, I soon found I must expect to be dealt rudely and roughly with, and accordingly prepared myself for it; and I assure you, Sir, I was not disappointed.
The first chapter of my book, which the above Gentleman has undertook to answer, is short, and only an introduction,observing the author's title, method, and occasion of writing the pamphlet before me. In Mr. Clark's Reply to which I observe;
1. That he is displeased at calling the ordinance of baptism as truly and properly administered, Believer's-baptism, and the pretended administration of it, to infants, Infant-sprinkling; whereas this is calling things by their proper names: it is with great propriety, we call baptism as administered to believers, the proper subjects of it, Believer's-baptism; and with the same propriety we call that which is administered to infants, Infant-sprinkling; from the nature of the action performed, and the persons on whom it is performed. Does this Gentleman think, we shall be so complaisant to suit our language and way of speaking to his mistaken notion and practice? though indeed we too often do, through the common use of phrases which obtain.
2. He is unwilling to allow of any increase of the Baptist interest in New England,either at Boston or in the country; whereas I am credibly informed, and you, Sir, I believe, can attest the truth of it, that there have been considerable additions to the Baptist interest at Boston;and that many hundreds in the country have been baptized within a few years
3. He says, it is an egregious mistake, that the ministers of New England applied to Mr. Dickinson (the author of the pamphlet I wrote against) to write in favor of Infant-sprinkling; and he is certain that not one of the ministers in Boston made application to him, (which was never affirmed,) and is persuaded it was not at the motion of any ministers in New England,that he wrote his Dialogue, but of his own mere motion; and yet he is obliged to correct himself by a marginal note, and acknowledge that it was wrote through ministerial influence.
4. This writer very early gives a specimen of his talent at reasoning; from the rejection of Infant-baptism, as an human invention, he argues to the rejection of baptism itself, as such; that if Infant-baptism is entirely an human invention, and a rite not to be observed, then baptism itself is an human invention, and not to be observed: this is an argument drawn up secundum artem,like a master of arts; and to pretend to answer so strong an argument, and set aside such a masterly way of reasoning, would be weakness indeed!
5. It being observed of the Dialogue-writer, "that he took care, not to put such arguments and objections into the mouth of his antagonist as he was not able to answer;" this Gentleman rises up, and blusters at a great rate, and defies the most zealous, learned, and subtle of the Antipaedobaptists to produce any other arguments and objections against Infant-baptism, for matter or substance, different from, or of greater weight, than those produced in the Dialogue; but afterwards lowers his topsail, and says, that the design of the author of that pamphlet was to represent in a few plain words, the most material objections against Infant-baptism, with the proper answers to them; and at last owns, that a great deal more has been said by the Antipaedobaptists.
The second chapter, you know, Sir, treats of "the consequences of embracing Believer's-baptism; such as, renouncing Infant-baptism, vacating the covenant, and renouncing all other ordinances of the gospel;" that Christ must have forsaken his church for many ages, and not made good the promise of his presence, and that there now can be no baptism in the world. In Mr. Clark's Reply to what I have said on those heads, I observe the following things.
The firstconsequence is the renunciation of Infant-baptism; which consequence, to put him out of all doubt and pain, about my owning or not owning it, I readily allow, follows upon a person's being sprinkled in infancy, embracing adult-baptism by immersion; in which he is to be justified, the one being an invention of man's, the other according to the word of God; nor is there any thing this Gentleman has said, that proves such a renunciation to be an evil.
1. He is very wrong in supposing it must be my intention, that the age of a person, or the time of receiving baptism, are essential to the ordinance. The Antipaedobaptists do not confine this ordinance to any age, but admit old or young to it, if proper subjects; let a man be as old as Methuselah,if he has not faith in Christ, or cannot give a satisfactory account of it, he will not be admitted to this ordinance by reason of his age; on the other hand, if a little child is called by grace, and converted, and gives a reason of the hope that is in it, of which there have been instances; such will not be refused this ordinance of baptism. The essentials to the right administration of baptism, amongst other things, are, that it be performed by immersion, without which it cannot be baptism; and that it be administered upon a profession of faith; neither of which are to be found in Infant sprinkling.
2. It is in vain and to no purport in this writer to urge, that infants are capable of baptism; so are bells, and have been baptized by the Papists. But it is said, infants are capable of being cleansed by the blood of Christ; of being regenerated; of being entered into covenant, and of having the seal of it administered to them. And what of all this? are they capable of understanding the nature, design, and use of the ordinance, when administered to them? are they capable of professing faith in Christ, which is a pre-requisite to this ordinance? are they capable of answering a good conscience towards God in it? are they capable of submitting to it in obedience to the will of Christ, from a love to him, and with a view to his glory? they are not. But,
3. It seems, in baptism, infants are dedicated unto God; wherefore to renounce Infant baptism, is for a man to renounce his solemn dedication to God; and much is said to prove that parents have a Right to dedicate their children to him. It will be allowed, that parents have a right to devote or dedicate their children to the Lord; that is, to give them up to him in prayer; or to pray for them, as Abraham did for Ishmael,that they may live in his light;and it is their duty to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;but they have no direction to baptize them, nor warrant to dedicate them by baptism; nor is baptism an ordinance of dedication, either of a man's self, or of others; a dedication ought to be previous to baptism; and Believers first give up themselves to the Lord, and then are baptized in his name.
4. After all, a renunciation of baptism in infancy must be a matter of great impiety, because witches are solicited by the Devil to renounce it, in order to their entering into confederacy with them. I thought, Sir, your country of New-England had been cured of these fooleries about witchcraft, and diabolical confederacies long ago, but I find the distemper continues. This argument, I own, is unanswerable by me; I must confess myself quite a stranger to this dark business.
5. What the story of Mr. Whiston is told for, is not easy to say; since it seems, he did not renounce his Infant-baptism: it looks, by the reference, as if it was intended to suggest, that an Antitrinitarian could not so well shelter himself among a people of any denomination, as the Baptists; whereas the ordinance as administered by them, as strongly militates against such a principle, as it does by being administered by Paedobaptists: but it may be, it is to recommend a spirit of moderation among us, to receive unbaptized persons into our communion by this example; but then unhappy for this writer, so it is, that the congregation Dr. Foster was pastor of, and Mr. Whiston joined himself to, is, and always was of the Paedobaptist denomination, and have for their present minister one of the Presbyterian persuasion. The second consequence of receiving the principle of adult-baptism, and acting up to it, is, vacating the covenant between God and the person baptized in infancy, into which he was brought by his baptism. Now you will observe, Sir,
1. That Mr. Clark has offered nothing in proof of infants being brought into covenant with God, by baptism; and indeed I cannot see how he can consistently with himself undertake it; since he makes covenant relation to God, the main ground of infants right to baptism; and therefore they must be in it before their baptism, and consequently are not brought into it by it; wherefore since they are not brought into covenant by it, that cannot be vacated by their renouncing of it.
2. It being observed, that no man can be brought into the covenant of grace by baptism, since it is from everlasting, and all interested in it were so early in covenant, and consequently previous to their baptism; this writer lets himself with all his might and main to oppose this sentiment, that the covenant of grace was from everlasting; this, he says, is unscriptural, irrational, and contrary to scripture. But if Christ was set up from everlasting as mediator; for only as such could he be set up (Prov. 8:12); if there was a promise of eternal life made before the world began, and this promise was in Christ, who then existed as the federal head and representative of his people, in whom they were chosen so early, to receive all promises and grace for them (Titus 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:1); and if grace was given to them in him before the world was, and they were blessed with all spiritual blessings in him so early (2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:3, 4); then, surely, there must be a covenant transaction between the Father and the Son on their account so early; for could there be all this and no covenant subsisting? The distinction between a covenant of redemption and a covenant of grace, is without any foundation in the word of God. Nor is this notion irrational; two parties were so early existing, when the covenant was made; Jehovah the Father was one, and the Son of God the other, in the name of his people; who, though they had not then a personal, yet had a representative being in Christ their head; and this was sufficient for them to have grace given them in him before the world was.
His metaphysical arguments from eternal acts being imminent, will equally militate against eternal election, as against an eternal covenant; and perhaps this writer has as little regard to the one, as he has to the other: nor is this notion contrary to scripture; for though the covenant is called a new and second covenant, yet only with respect to the former administration of it, under the legal dispensation; and both administrations of it, under the law and under the gospel, are only so many exhibitions and manifestations of the covenant under different forms, which was made in eternity. The scriptures which promise the making of a covenant, only intend a clearer manifestation and application of the covenant of grace to persons to whom it belongs; things are said in scripture to be made,when they are made manifest or declared (Acts 2:36): it is a previous interest in the covenant of grace that gives persons a right to the blessings of it; and the application of there blessings, such as pardon of sin, etc. flows from this previous interest: nor does this notion render the ministry of the word and the operation of the Spirit for that end useless, and superfluous; but on the contrary so early an interest in the covenant of grace is the ground and reason of the Spirit being sent down in time to make the word effectual to salvation. Nor is the state of unregeneracy, the elect of God are in by nature, inconsistent with this eternal covenant; since that covenant supposes it, and provides for, promises, and secures the regeneration and sanctification of all interested in it; assuring them that the heart of stone shall be taken away, and an heart of flesh given them; a new heart and a new Spirit,yea the Spirit of God shall be put into them, and the laws of God written in their minds.
The text in Ephesians 2:12. describes the Gentiles only, who were strangers from the covenants of promise; the covenant of circumcision, and the covenant at Sinai;covenants peculiar to the Jews; as well as strangers to the scriptures, which contain the promise of the Messiah; all which might be, and was, and yet be interested in the covenant of grace. If this is to be an Antinomian, I am quite content to be called one; such bug-bear names do not frighten me. It is not worth while to take notice of this man's Neonomian rant; of the terms and conditions of the covenant; of its being a rule of moral government over man in a flare of unregeneracy, brought hereby into a state of probation; which turns the covenant into a law, and is what the Neonomians call a remedial law, (as this writer calls the covenant a remedial one) a law of milder terms; nor of his Arminian strokes in making the endeavors and acts of men to be the turning point of their salvation, and conversion, as being foreign to the controversy, in hand.
3. This writer makes a distinction between a man's being in covenant in respect of the spiritual dispensation of the grace of it, and in respect of the external administration of it: by the spiritual dispensation of it, I apprehend, he means the application of spiritual blessings in the covenant to persons regenerated and converted, by which they must appear to be in it; and in this sense, all the persons, I have instanced in, must be manifestly in the covenant of grace, previous to baptism: and consequently not brought into it by it. By the external administration of it, I suppose, he means the administration of the ordinances of the gospel, particularly baptism; and then it is only saying a man is not baptized before he is baptized; which no body will contest with him.
4. No man, I observe, is entered into the covenant of grace by himself, or others; this is an act of the sovereign grace of God, who says, I will be their God, and they shall be my people;which this writer owns, though not exclusive of human endeavors; as if God could not take any into his covenant without their own endeavors; such wretched divinity deserves the utmost contempt. Since the above phrase, I will be their God,etc. is a proof of the sovereign grace of God in bringing men into covenant; he hopes it will be allowed that a like phrase, I will be the God of thy seed,will be admitted as strongly to conclude the reception of the Infant-children of believers into covenant. I answer, whenever it appears that there is such an article in the covenant of grace, that so runs, that God will be the God of the natural Seed of believers as such, it will be admitted; and whereas I have observed, that the phrase of bringing into the bond of the covenant,which the Paedobaptists often make use of, is but once mentioned in scripture, and then ascribed to God; this, as it no ways contradicts a being in covenant from everlasting, so it fails not of being a proof of the sovereign grace of God in that act. By the bond of the covenant,is not meant faith and repentance on man's part; which some stupidly call the terms and conditions of the covenant, when they are parts and blessings of it; but the everlasting love of God, which is the force and security of it, and which says men under obligation to serve their covenant-God; and to be brought into it, is to be brought into a comfortable view of interest in it, and to an open participation of the blessings of it; which is all according to, and consistent with the eternal constitution of it.
5. The covenant of grace can never be vacated, since it is everlasting, ordered in all things and sure:this is owned by our author in respect of its divine constitution, and of the immutability of the divine promise, to all under the spiritual dispensation of it; but there are others who are only in it by a visible and baptismal dedication; and these may make void the covenant between God and them; and this it seems is the case of the greatest part of infants in covenant. Now let me retort this Gentleman's argument upon himself, which he makes use of against the covenant being from everlasting. "Those, whom God admits into the covenant of grace, have an interest in the benefits of that covenant, pardon of sin, the gift of the Spirit, reconciliation, adoption, etc. for it is a sort of contradiction to say, that any man is admitted into the covenant, and yet debarred from an interest in all the privileges of it." Now, either infants are admitted into the covenant of grace, or they are not; if they are, then they have an interest in the benefits of it, pardon of sin, and the other blessings, and so shall all certainly be saved with an everlasting salvation, and not apostatize, as it seems the greatest part of them do; for to say they are in the external, but not in the spiritual part of the covenant, is to make a poor business of their covenant-interest indeed. The instance of Simon Magus,which he thinks I have forgot, will not make for him, nor against me; it is a clear proof, that a man is not brought into covenant by baptism; since though baptism was administered to this person in the pure, primitive way, by an apostolic man, yet he was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity.
3dly, The other three consequences following upon the renouncing of Infant-baptism, as renouncing all other ordinances, the promise of Christ's presence not made good, and no baptism now in the world, are in some fort given up, and are allowed not to be clear, at least not alike clear; and are only adverted to in a general way, and some expressions of mine catched at, and remarked upon, and these mistaken or perverted.
1. I observe, this author repeats his former mistake, that we make age essential to baptism, which is but circumstantial; and then uses an argument from the lesser to the greater, as he thinks, that if a defect in such a circumstance nullifies the ordinance, then much more the want of proper administrators: but it is not age that we object to, but a want of understanding, and faith, and an incapacity to make a profession of it, as well as the mode of administration; things of greater importance in this ordinance; at least they are so with us. However, it is kind in this Gentleman to direct us how we may avoid this inconvenience his argument has thrown us into, by exercising a little more moderation and charity for Infant-baptism; and upon this foot he seems to be willing to compound the matter with us.
2. As to the presence of Christ with his church and ministers, it is sufficient to make that good, that he grants it where his Church is, and wheresoever he has a people, be they more, or fewer, and wheresoever his ordinances are administered according to his direction; but he has no where promised, that he will have a continued succession of visible congregated churches. Certain indeed it is, that he will have a number of chosen ones in all ages; that his invisible church, built on Christ the rock, shall not fail; and he will have a seed to serve him, or some particular persons, whom he will reserve to himself from a general corruption; but that there shall be gathered always into a visible gospel church-state, is no where promised; and for many hundreds of years it will be hard to find any one such church, unless the people in the valleys of Piedmont are allowed to be such.
3. This writer is not willing to admit such a supposition, that any of the laws and institutions of Christ have failed, ceased, or been annulled in any one age, and much more for several ages together; but, besides the ordinance of baptism, which through the change of mode and subjects, together with the impure mixtures of salt, oil, and spittle, and other superstitious rites, which became quite another thing than what was instituted by Christ, and practiced by his apostles; the ordinance of the Lord's-supper was so sadly perverted and corrupted, as to be a mere mass indeed of blasphemy and idolatry; in the communion of which the gracious presence of Christ cannot be thought to be enjoyed: and yet this continued some hundreds of years; only now and then some single persons rose up, and bore a testimony against it, who for a while had their followers.
4. He seems to triumph from Dr. Wall's account of things, that there never was, nor is, to this day, any national church in the world but Paedobaptists, either among the Greeks, or Roman Catholics, or the Reformed; and that Antipaedobaptism never obtained to be the established religion of any country in the world. We do not envy his boast; we know that national churches are good for nothing, as not being agreeable to the rule of the divine word; one small church or congregation, gathered out of the world by the grace of God, according to gospel-order, and whole principles and practices are agreeable to the word of God, is to be preferred before all the national churches in the world.
5. According to this Gentleman's own account of the English Antipaedobaptists, there could be none to administer the ordinance to them in their way; since those that came from Holland,it seems, gained no proselytes, but were soon extinct, being cruelly persecuted and destroyed; so that it was necessary they should send abroad for an administrator, or make use of an unbaptized one: but which way soever they took, they are able to justify their baptism on as good a foundation as the Reformers are able to justify theirs received from the Papists, with all the fooleries, corruptions, and superstitious rites attending it.
My third chapter, you will remember, Sir, is concerning The Antiquity of Infant-baptism,and the practice of the Waldenses.
I. The enquiry is, whether Infant-baptism constantly and universally obtained in the truly primitive church, which truly pure and primitive church must be the church in the times of Christ and his apostles; since towards the close of those times, and in the two following Ages, there arose such a see of impure men, both for principle and practice, under the Christian name, as never were known in the world: now by an induction of particular instances of churches in this period of time, it does not appear, that Infant-baptism at all obtained. In Mr. Clark's reply to which, I observe,
1. That he says, the evidence of Infant-baptism is not pretended to lie in the history of fact, or in any express mention of it in the New Testament. That the penman of the Acts of the Apostles did not descend to so minute a particular, as the baptizing of infants,—and that the baptism of the adult was of the greatest account to be recorded.
2. Yet he thinks there are pretty plain intimations of it in most of the characters instanced in, and particularly in the church at Jerusalem;which he endeavors to make good by a criticism on Acts 2:41. And it is pleasant to observe, how he toils and labors to find out an antecedent to a relative not expressed in the text; for the words, to them,are not in the original; it is only and the same day there were added about three thousand souls; or, the same day there was an addition of about three thousand souls; and all this pains is taken to support a whimsical notion, that this addition was made, not to the church, but to the new converts; and by a wild fancy he imagines, that infants are included among the three thousand souls that were added: his argument from verse 39. and the other instances mentioned, as well as some other passages alleged, such as Luke 18:16; Acts 15:10 and 1 Corinthians 7:14 as they come over in the debate again, are referred to their proper places. But,
3. It must not be forgotten, what is said, that this may be a reason why Infant-baptism is so sparingly mentioned, (not mentioned at all) because the custom of the Jews to baptize the children of proselytes to their religion with their parents, was well known; and there can be little doubt, that the apostles proceeded by the same rule in admitting the infants of Christian proselytes into the Christian covenant by baptism. This is building Infant-baptism on a bog indeed; since this Jewish custom is not pretended to be of divine institution; and so a poor argument in the Defense of the Divine Right of Infant-baptism;and at most and best, is only a tradition of the elders, which body of traditions was inveighed against by Christ and his apostles; and besides, this particular tradition does not appear to have obtained so early among the Jews themselves, as the times of the apostles, and therefore could be no rule for them to proceed by; and about which the first reporters of it disagree, the one affirming there was such a custom, and the other denying it; and had it then obtained, it is incredible the apostles should make this the rule of their procedure in administering an ordinance of Christ and after all, was this the case, this would be a reason for, and not against the express mention of Infant-baptism by the divine historian; since it is necessary that in agreement with this Jewish custom, some instance or instances of Christian proselytes being baptized with their children should be recorded, as an example for Christians in succeeding ages to go by. But,
4. A supposition is made of some Paedobaptists sent into an heathen country to preach, and giving an account of their success, declaring that some families were baptized, such a man and all his, such another and his household; upon which a question is asked, who could raise a doubt whether any infants were baptized in those several families? To which I answer, there is no doubt to be made of it, that Paedobaptists would baptize infants; and if the apostles were Paedobaptists, which is the thing to be proved, they no doubt baptized infants too; but if no other account was given of the baptizing of households, than what the apostles give of them, Infant-baptism would still remain a doubt. For who can believe, that the brethren in Lydia's house whom the apostles comforted, and of whom her household consisted, or that the Jailor's household, that believed and rejoiced with him, or the household of Stephanas,who addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints, were infants? however it seems, as there is no evidence of fact for Infant-baptism in the New Testament, it is referred to the testimony of the ancient fathers; and to them then we must go.
II. The testimony of the fathers of the three first centuries is chiefly to be attended to; and whereas none in the first century are produced in favor of Infant-baptism, we must proceed to the second. In it, I observe, there is but one writer, that it is pretended speaks of Infant-baptism, and that is Irenaeus,and but one passage in him; and this is at best of doubtful meaning, and by some learned men judged spurious; as when he says, Christ "came to save all, all, I say, who are regenerated (or born again) unto God; Infants, and little ones, and children, and young men, and old men." Now, admitting the chapter in which this passage stands, is genuine and not spurious, which yet is not a clear case; it is objectionable to, as being a translation, as the most of this author's works are, and a very foolish, uncouth and barbarous one it is, as learned men observe; wherefore there is reason to believe that justice is not done him; and it lies not upon us, but upon our antagonists that urge this passage against us, to produce the original in support of it: but allowing it to be a just translation, yet what is there of Infant-baptism in it? Not a word. Yes, to be regenerated,or born again,is to be baptized; this is the sense of the ancients, and particularly of Irenaeus,it is said; but how does this appear? Dr. Wall has given an instance of it out of Lib. 3 chap. 19 where this ancient writer says, "when he gave the disciples the commission of regenerating (or rather of regeneration) unto God, he said unto them, Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,"where the commission of regenerating, adds Dr. Wall,plainly means the commission of baptizing; whereas, it more plainly means the commission of teaching the doctrine of regeneration by the spirit, and the necessity of that unto salvation, and in order to baptism; and which was the first and principal part of the apostles' commission, as the very order of the words shews; and certain it is, that Irenaeus uses the word Regeneration in a different sense from baptism, as an inward work, agreeable to the scriptures; and besides, such a sense of his words contended for, is to make him at least to suggest a doctrine which is absolutely false, as if Christ came to save all, and only such, who are baptized unto God; whereas he came to save baptized and unbaptized ones, Old and New Testament saints; and many no doubt are saved by him who never were baptized at all, and some baptized not saved; but on the other hand nothing is more true than that he came to save all, and only those, who are regenerated by the spirit and grace of God, of whatsoever age; and which is clearly this ancient writer's sense, and so no proof of Infant-baptism. To support this notion of regeneration signifying baptism so early, our author urges a passage cited by me from Justin;who, speaking of converted persons, says, "they are brought by us where water is, and they are regenerated in the same way of regeneration as we have been regenerated; for they are then washed in water in the name of the Father,etc."
Now, it is evident, that those persons are not represented as regenerated by baptism; because they are spoken of before as believers and converted ones; and it is as clear, that their baptism is distinguished from their regeneration, and not the same thing; for Justin uses the former, as an argument of the latter; which, if the same, his sense must be, they were baptized, because they were baptized; which is making him guilty of what Logicians call proving Idem per Idem:whereas, Justin's sense, consistent with himself, and the practice of the primitive churches, is, that those persons when brought to the water, having made a profession of their regeneration, were owned and declared regenerated persons, as is manifest from their being admitted to the ordinance of water-baptism: and that Justin speaks of the baptism of the adult,is owned by this writer; though he thinks it is unquestionable, that he speaks only of such who were converted from Heathenism; and is sure of it, that there were none among them born of Christian parents; this he will find a hard talk, with all his confidence, to prove. And he has ventured to produce a passage out of Justin,as giving suffrage to Infant-baptism in the second century; and it is this from Dr. Wall;"We also, who by him have had access to God, have not received this carnal circumcision, but the spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed; and we have received it by baptism, by the mercy of God, because we were sinners, and it is enjoined to all persons to receive it the same way."
Now let it be observed, that this spiritual circumcision, whatever Justin means by it, can never design baptism; since the patriarch Enoch,and others like him, observed it; and since with Christians it is received by baptism, he says; and therefore must be different from it: and, after all, not a word of infants in the passage; nor is baptism called a spiritual circumcision; nor, as our author elsewhere stiles it, Christian circumcision, in Colossians 2:11 since the circumcision there spoken of, is called a circumcision made without hands,which surely cannot be said of baptism. In short, I must once more triumph, if it may be so called, and say, this is all the evidence, the undoubted evidence of Infant-baptism from the fathers of the two first centuries. Proceed we to
The third century; and the fathers of this, brought into the controversy about baptism are Tertullian, Origen,and Cyprian.The first of these, is the first writer we know of that ever made mention of Infant-baptism; and he dissuades from it, and advises to defer baptism to riper years; and is therefore claimed on our side of the question: nor can he be made to unsay what he has said; and therefore is traduced as a man of heterodox notions, and of odd and strange opinions; and, it seems, afterwards turned Montanist; and all this is said, to weaken the credit of his testimony, when not a word is said of Origen's gross errors and monstrous absurdities: the reason is, because it seems he was a Paedobaptist, and Tertullian an Antipaedobaptist; though it is some comfort to this writer, that he was not quite so bad as the present Antipaedobaptists are. As to Origen,there are three passages quoted out of him; to which we object, not only, that they are translations,the fidelity of which cannot be depended upon, when there is much of this writer still extant in the language in which he wrote, and yet nothing from thence produced; but that there are interpolated,and confessedly so. His homilies on Leviticus and exposition of the epistle to the Romans,from whence two of the passages are taken, were translated by Ruffinus,who owns he took liberty to add of his own to them; so that, as Erasmus observes, it is uncertain whether one reads Origen or Ruffinus;and Scultetussays the same thing; and Huetius,who has given us a good edition of the Greek commentaries of this father, and well understood him, says, that "his writings are so corrupted by him, that you are at a loss to find Origen in Origen, and so deformed and unlike the original, they can scarce be known;" and one of there particular passages Vossius takes to be an interpolation, and so of the greater force against the Pelagians, because Ruffinus the translator and interpolator was inclined to them: the homilies on Luke,out of which is the other passage, are said to be translated by Jerom,of whom Du Pin says, that his versions are not more exact than the other's; so no credit is to be given to them, nor are they to be depended on. Cyprian is the next that is produced, and it will be allowed that Infant-baptism began to be practiced in his time in some churches, though it seems to be an upstart notion; since it was not till then determined at what time it should be administered; and also at the same time, and in the same churches, Infant-communion was practiced; of which Cyprian gives an instance; and that is more than is, or can be given of the practice of Infant-baptism so early; and if his testimony is of any weight for the one, it ought to be of the same for the other; and if infants are admitted to baptism, it is but reasonable they should partake of the Lord's-supper, and especially as there is as early antiquity for the one as for the other.
The quotations out of Gregory Nazianzen, Optatus, Ambrose, Chrysostom,and Austin,fathers of the fourth century, which Mr. Clark has collected from Dr. Wall,might have been spared; seeing this does not come into his own account of the truly primitive church; and since it is not denied, Infant-baptism obtained in it; and yet it is certain, there were persons in this age against it, as will be observed hereafter; nor was Pelagius,in this age, so pressed and puzzled with the argument taken from it in favor of original sin; since it was not contrary to his doctrine, who allowed baptism to be administered to them "on account of the kingdom of God, but not for forgiveness of sin;" and the controversy did not lead to dispute about the subject,but the end of baptism.
The next thing, you will remember, Sir, brought into the controversy, is, whether the practice of Infant-baptism was called in question before the mad-men of Munster let themselves against it. As to the troubles in Germany,and in Munster itself, it is certain beyond all contradiction, that they were begun by Paedobaptists, and whilst they were such; and as for the German Anabaptists, as they are called, who joined with them, they were Sprinklers, and not Baptists, and so belong rather to this writer's party, than to us; but be this as it will, nothing in the controversy, depends upon that; the state of the case is, whether Infant-baptism was called in question, or made matter of doubt of before there men opposed it; and here I observe,
1. That it is allowed there were debates about Infant-baptism before the affair of Munster,and between that and the reformation; by which it appears that it was quickly opposed after the reformation begun.
2. The letter to Erasmus out of Bohemia shews, that there were a people there near one hundred years before the reformation, who baptized anew, in mere water, such as came over to their sect: this those people did, as our author would have it, not because they judged baptism in infancy invalid, but what was received in the corrupt way of the church of Rome.This he says after Dr. Wall,(though with the Doctor it is uncertain which was the case) inclining to the latter. But it should be observed, that there is no proof from any ancient history, that these people, or any Protestants and reformers that retained Infant-baptism, did, upon leaving the church of Rome,reject the baptism of that church, and receive a new one; and besides, Thomas Waldensis, who lived and wrote at this very time, affirms, that there were a people in Bohemia then, that maintained that "believers children were not to be baptized, and that baptism was to no purpose administered to them;" to which I would add the testimony of Luther,who says, "the Waldenses in Bohemia,ground the sacrament of baptism upon the person's faith; and for that reason, they annihilate the baptizing of children; for they say, children must be taught before they be baptized."
2. This Gentleman is not well pleased with Dr. Wall in making this concession, that the Petrobrusians were Antipaedobaptists; though it is some comfort to him, that he tells him, that their opinion seems to have been in a short time extinguished and forgotten. But this opinion of theirs not only continued among Henry and his followers, who succeeded the Petrobrusians, but among the people afterwards called Waldenses; who to this day own Peter Bruis for one of their Barbs or Parrots, as will be seen hereafter. However, that we may have no credit from these people, they are branded as denying the other ordinance of the Lord's Supper; and as saying, it is not to be administered since Christ's time. But what Dr. Wallafterwards cites from the abbot of Clugny,will serve to explain this, and shew, that their meaning is only, that the real presence of Christ in the supper, was only at the time when it was administered by him to the disciples; who makes them to say, "the body of Christ was only once made by himself the supper, before his passion, and was only, namely at this time, given to his disciples; since that time it was never made by any one, nor given to any one;" or as it is expressed from the same popish writer by Dr. Allix,
"The fourth (article ascribed by the abbot to the Petrobrusians) consisted not only in denying the truth of the body and blood of our Lord, which is offered up every day, and continually by the sacrament of the church; but also in maintaining, that it was nothing, and ought not to be offered." Upon which the Doctor makes this remark: "The fourth heresy is expressed in very odious terms, and after the popish manner, who own nothing to be real in the sacrament, if the flesh of Jesus Christ and his blood be not there in substance; and who do not believe he is present at the sacrament upon any other account, but as he is offered up to God before he is eaten." It was the real presence in the supper, and not that itself, these people denied; so that they were brave champions for the purity of both ordinances, equally rejecting Infant-baptism and the doctrine of transubstantiation.
3. As for the other instances of persons denying Infant-baptism after Peter Bruis,produced by me; this writer, from Dr. Wall,would fain fasten the charge of Manicheism upon them, and so as denying all water-baptism; I say, from Dr. Wall,for what he here says, and indeed there is scarce any thing in this whole chapter about the antiquity of Infant-baptism, but what is borrowed from him, this Gentleman having no stock of his own; that, in fact, instead of answering Mr. Clark,I am answering Dr. Wall.As for those Evervinus writes of to Bernard,about the year 1140, there he observes, from Dr. Wall,held a tenet which shews them to be Manichees; though Evervinusdistinguishes them from the Manichees, namely, "all marriage they call fornication, except that which was between two virgins;" but this was not one of the principles of the Manichees, who condemned all marriage; whereas these allowed of the marriage of persons who had never been married before; they only condemned second marriage; a notion which had prevailed with some of the Christian fathers before the Manichees were in being; and this was the notion of some of the apostolics,and very probably of them all, the same Bernard makes mention of; and who, very likely, as I have observed, were the followers of Henry;and against these, this author has nothing of Manicheism: Here Dr. Wall fails him; and here it may be remarked what Mezeray says, "in the year 1163, there were two sorts of heretics; the one ignorant and loose, who were a sort of Manichees; the other more learned, and remote from such filthiness, who held much the same opinions as the Calvinists, and were called Henricians;" so that the followers of Henry were a distinct people from the Manichees; but as for those the Bishop of Arles takes notice of, our author's remark upon them is, "it may be said, these heretics might be some of "the Manichean sect;" fine proof indeed! what he farther adds is more probable, "as perhaps they were some remains of the Petrobrusians;" so that it appears, that their opinion, which seems to have been in a short time extinguished and forgotten, continued however to the year 1215. As for the Gascoiners, that came over into England in the year 1158, and asserted, that infants ought not to be baptized till they come to the age of understanding; this, our author says, is no more than what a Manichee might say then, and a Quaker now;though they both disown all water-baptism. What! to say, that infants ought not to be baptized till they come to the age of understanding? is this talking like a Manichee or a Quaker? Does not this suppose that they may be baptized, when they come to the age of understanding, and know what they do? But this writer adds, it appears that these rejected both the sacraments of the New Testament, detecting holy baptism,and the Eucharist:so they did, they detested Infant-baptism as an human invention, and transubstantiation as an idol of the Pope of Rome.
4. To what I have said concerning Bruno and Berengarius,and their opposition to Infant-baptism 100 years before the Petrobrusians, I would only add; that Peter Bruis was not the author of a new sect, though his followers were so called by the Papists, to suggest that they were so; whereas, they were the same with the Berengarians, and held the same principles as the Berengarians did, both with respect to baptism and the Lord's-Supper; and what were their sentiments concerning these are well known.
5. Gundulphus and his followers, another instance of persons denying Infant-baptism as early as the year 1025, are represented as Manichees and Quakers, in the point of baptism; and both Mr. Stennett and myself are charged with great unfairness, partiality and disingenuity, in leaving out what Dr. Allix has said concerning these men, namely, "that in the same examination, being further interrogated, these men confessed, that they thought water-baptism of no use or necessity to any one, infants or adult." This is cited from Dr. Wall,an author not always to be depended upon, and particularly here; for Dr. Allix gives no account of any further interrogation of these men, by Gerard bishop of Cambray,as is suggested; nor are these words to be found in him; for though the men at their first, and only interrogation, speak of the non-necessity and unavailableness of baptism to salvation; and, as Dr. Allix observes, said some things slightly of baptism, in opposition to the prevailing notions of those times, about the absolute necessity and efficacy of baptism to salvation; yet he is quite clear, that they were for the thing itself: "It is easy to judge, says he, that they looked upon baptism only as a mystical ceremony, the end of which was to express the engagement of him who is baptized, and the vow he makes to live holy." Gundulphus,adds he, "seeing them, (the popish priests) assert, that whosoever was baptized could never be damned, falls to an indifference for baptism; thinking it sufficient to keep to the essentials of that sacrament." From whence it is plain, he did not deny it, nor disuse it; and upon the whole it is evident, Dr. Wall has abused Mr. Stennett,and this Gentleman both him and myself.
6. It is observed, that a large stride is taken by me from the Eleventh to the Fourth century, not being able in the space of more than 600 years to find one instance of an opposer of Infant-baptism: this will not seem so strange to those who know what a time of ignorance this was; partly through the prevalence of popery, and partly through the inundation of the barbarous nations, which brought a flood of darkness upon the empire; and very few witnesses arose against the superstitions of the church of some; yet there were some in the valleys of Piedmont,even from the times of the apostles, and during this interval, as learned men have observed, that bore their testimony against corruptions in doctrine and practice; among which, this of Infant-baptism must be reckoned one; and whole successors, as we have seen already in the Berengarians, and the Petrobrusians, and will be seen again in the Waldenses, bore witness against this innovation.
7. Though I did not insist upon the Pelagians and others being against Infant-baptism, which some have allowed; this writer is pleased to reproach me with a good-will to admit such heretics, as our predecessors; and this is not the only instance of this sort of reflection; whereas truth is truth, let it be espoused by whom it will; and it might be retorted, that Infant-baptism has been practiced by the worst of heretics, and retained by the man of sin and his followers in all the Antichristian states; and this writer thinks it worth his pains to rescue the above heretics and schismatics out of our hands; and yet, after all, some of the followers of Pelagius at least argued, that the infants of believers ought not to be baptized; and that for this reason, because they were holy, as Austin affirms; and who also observes, that some other patrons argued against it, and the unprofitableness of it to infants, who for the most part died before they knew any thing of it; and Jerom, his contemporary, supposes it, and reasons upon it, that some Christians refused to give baptism to their children. So that even in the fourth century, though Infant-baptism greatly prevailed, yet it was not so general, as that not one man contemporary with Austin can be produced, as setting himself against it, as our author avers; nay Stephen Marshall,a great stickler for Infant-baptism, in his famous sermon on this subject, owns, that some in the times of Austin questioned it, and refers to a discourse of his in proof of it; and the canon of the council at Carthage,produced by me, notwithstanding all that this writer says, is a full proof of the same. For surely, no man in his senses can ever think, that a council consisting of all the bishops in Africa,should agree to anathematize their own brethren, who were in the same opinion with them about Infant-baptism; only thought it should not be administered to them as soon as born, but be deferred till they were eight days old; they that can believe this, can believe any thing; and besides, is not a child of eight days old a child newly born? Lastly, after all, Tertullian,in the beginning of the third century, as he was the first we know of that made mention of Infant-baptism, did oppose it, and dissuade from it; so that it must be once more said, it was called in question, debated and opposed twelve or thirteen hundred years before the madmen of Munster,as well as in some of the intervening centuries. It remains now, Sir, to defend what I have said concerning the Waldenses; and it should be observed,
1. That these people had not their name from Waldus,as the first founder of their sect: this Dr. Allix has undertook to make out beyond all possible contradiction, and he has done it. These people were before his time called Vaudois, Vallenses or Wallenses, from their inhabiting the valleys; which name was afterwards changed to Waldenses, when the design was said to make men believe that Valda or Waldus was their first founder, that they might be taken for a new and upstart people; whereas they were in being long before Waldus,who received his light and doctrine from them, and whose followers joined them; and this observation sets aside the exceptions of our author to the testimonies of Peter Bruis,their confession of faith in 1120, and their noble lesson 1100, as being before the times of the Waldenses; that is, before the times of Waldo,more properly speaking; and by how much the more ancient these testimonies are, by so much the greater is their evidence in point of antiquity, as to these peoples denial of Infant-baptism; and more strongly prove that the ancient Vallenses, afterwards corruptly called Waldenses, were against it, and for adult baptism. These people were not divided into various sects, but were a body of people of one and the same faith and practice, which they retained from father to son, as their usual phrase is, time out of mind.
2. It is true, they were called by different names, by their adversaries; some given them by way of reproach, others from their leaders and teachers, as Petrobrusians, Henricians, Arnoldists, Waldensians, Etc. from Peter Bruis, Henry, Arnold, Waldus;but still they were the same people; just as the Papists, at the Reformation, made as many heads of distinct parties, as these were men of note in that work. Thus for instance, the Petrobrusians were not a distinct sect of this people, but the very people called Vallenses, afterwards Waldenses; and the same may be said of the rest: nor were there any sect among them of the Manichean principle, or any of them tinctured with that heresy, as Dr. Allix has abundantly proved. The care, as he makes it appear, was this; that there were Manichees in the places where the Valdenses and Albigenses lived, but not that joined them; their enemies took the advantage of this, and called them by the same name, and ascribed the same opinions to them, especially if they could find any thing in them familiar to them: thus for instance, because they denied Infant-baptism, therefore they were against all Water-baptism, and so Manichees; for as Dr. Allixobserves, "in those barbarous and cruel ages, a small conformity of opinions with the Manichees, was a sufficient ground to accuse them of Manicheism, who opposed any doctrine received by the church of some: Thus would they have taken the Anabaptists for downright Manichees, says he, because they condemned the baptism of infants:" and Mr. Clark cannot object to this observation, since he himself argues from the denial of Infant-baptism, to the denial of baptism itself; and has represented me as a Manichee, or a Quaker, for no other reason, but for the denial of Infant-baptism; and if his book lives to the next age, and is of any authority, and can find people foolish enough to believe it, I must be set down for a Manichee or a Quaker. Indeed I must confess, I once thought, giving too much credit to Dr. Wall,that there were different sects among the Waldenses, and some of them Manichees, and of other erroneous principles, which I now retract.
3. It is not true what this writer from Dr. Wall affirms; "This is certain, that no one author, that calls the people he writes of Waldenses, does impute to them the denial of Infant-baptism;" for Claudius Couffard,writing against them, under this name, gives an extract of their errors out of Raynerius,and this is one of them; "They say, then first a man is baptized, when he is received into their sect; some of them hold that baptism is of no advantage to infants, because they cannot yet actually believe;" and concludes this extract thus, "from whence you may see, courteous reader, that this sect of the Waldenses, and the chief, yea almost all heretics now in vogue, are not of late invention, etc." and were this true, yet it is a mere evasion, and a foolish one; since the names of Henricians, Arnoldists, Cathari, Apostolici, etc. under which they are represented, as opposers of Infant-baptism, are the names of the Waldenlses, as Perrinobserves, a writer whom our author says he has read.
4. It is a most clear case, that the ancient barbs or pastors of the Waldensian churches, so called, were opposers of Infant-baptism. Sir Samuel Moreland,as I have observed, reckons Peter Bruis and Henry among their ancient pallors; to does Perrin likewise, though he is mistaken in making them to follow Waldo;and these are allowed to be Antipaedobaptists by several Paedobaptists themselves. Arnoldus,another of their parrots, according to the above writer, from whence they were called Arnoldists, was out of all doubt a denier of Infant-baptism, for which he was condemned by a council, as Dr. Wall owns. Lollardo was another of their pastors, according to the same authors, and from whole name, Perrin says, the Waldenses were called Lollards; and so Kilianus says, a Lollard is also called a Waldensian heretic. These were not the followers of Wickliff,as our author wrongly asserts; for they were, as Dr. Allixobserves, more ancient than the Wicklifites; and though this name was afterwards given to the latter, Lollardo was here in England,and had his followers before Wickliff's time; and so he had in Flanders and Germany; and of the Lollards there, Trithemiussays, they derided the sacrament of baptism; which cannot be understood of their deriding baptism in general, but of their deriding Infant-baptism; which was common among the Papists to say; and the same is the sense of the Lollards in England,who are charged with making light of the sacrament of baptism. Now since these were the sentiments of the ancient pastors of the Waldenses, it is reasonable to believe the people themselves were of the same mind with them; nor are there any confessions of their faith, which make any mention of Infant-baptism; nor any proofs of its being practiced by them until the sixteenth century, produced by our author, or any other.
5. The Albigenses, as Perrinsays, differ nothing at all from the Waldenses, in their belief; but are only so called of the country of Albi; where they dwelt, and had their first beginning; and who received the belief of the Waldenses by means of Peter Bruis, Henry and Arnold;who, as it clearly appears, were all Antipaedobaptists; and Dr. Allixobserves, that the Albigenses have been called Petrobrusians; owned to be a sect of the Waldenses, that denied Infant-baptism: and that the Albigenses denied it, at least some of them, yea the greatest part of them, is acknowledged by some Paedobaptists themselves. Chassanion in his history of these people says; "some writers have affirmed, that the Albigeois approved not of the baptism of infants. —I cannot deny that the Albigeois for the greatest part were of that opinion. —The truth is, they did not reject this sacrament, or say it was useless, (as some, he before observes, asserted they did) but only counted it unnecessary to infants, because they are not of age to believe, or capable of giving evidence of their faith." Which is another proof of the ancient Waldenses being against Infant-baptism, these being the same with them. Upon the whole, if I have been too modest, in saying that the ancient Waldenses practiced Infant-baptism, wants proof, I shall now use a little more boldness and confidence, and alarm, that the ancient Vallenses, or as corruptly called Waldenses, were opposers of Infant-baptism; and that no proof can be given of the practice of it among them till the sixteenth century; and that the author of the dialogue had no reason to say, that their being in the practice of adult baptism, and denying Infant-baptism, was a mere chimaera and a groundless figment.
My fourth chapter, you know, Sir, respects the argument for Infant-baptism, taken from the covenant made with Abraham,and from circumcision. Here our author runs out into a large discussion of the covenant of grace, in his way; in which he spends about fourscore pages, which I take to be the heads of some old sermons, he is fond of, and has taken this opportunity of publishing them to the world, without any propriety or pertinence. For, 1. not to dispute the point with him, whether there are two distinct covenants of redemption and grace, or whether they are one and the same, which is foreign to the argument; be it that they are two distinct ones, the spiritual seed promised to Christ, or the people given him in the one, are the same that are taken into the other; they are of equal extent; there are no more in the one, than there are concerned in the other; and this writer himself allows, "that the salvation of the spiritual seed of Christ is promised in both covenants." Now let it be proved, if it can, that there are any in the covenant of grace but the spiritual seed of Christ;and that the natural seed of believers, and their infants as such, are the spiritual seed: and if they are, then they were given to Christ, who undertook to save them, and whose salvation was promised to him, and to whom in time the communications of grace according to the covenant are made; then they must be all of them regenerated, renewed, and sanctified, justified, pardoned, adopted, persevere in grace, and be eternally saved; all which will not, cannot be said of all the infants of believers; and consequently cannot be thought to be in the covenant of grace.
2. As to what he says concerning the conditionality of the covenant, it is all answered in one word; let him name what he will, as the condition of this covenant, which God has not absolutely promised, or thrift: has not engaged to perform, or to see performed in his people, or by them. Are the conditions, faith and repentance? These are both included in the new heart, and spirit,and heart of flesh,God has absolutely promised in the covenant, Ezekiel 36:26. Is new, spiritual,and evangelical obedience, the condition? This is absolutely promised as the former, verse 27. Or is it actual consent? Thy people shall be willing (Ps. 110:3). And after all, if it is a conditional covenant, how do infants get into it? Or is it a conditional covenant to the adult,and unconditional to them? If faith and repentance are the conditions of it, and these must be, as this author says, "the sinner's own voluntary chosen acts, before he can have any actual saving interest in the privileges of the covenant;" it follows, that they cannot be in it, or have interest in the privileges of it, till they repent and believe, and do these as their own voluntary chosen acts; and if "man's consent and agreement bring him into covenant with God," as this writer says; it should be considered, whether infants are capable of this consent, or no; and if they are not, according to this man, they stand a poor chance for being in the covenant.
3. Whereas the covenant of grace, as to the essence of it, has been always the same, as is allowed, under the various forms and administrations of it, both under the Old and New Testament; so the subjects of it have been, and are the same, the spiritual seed of Christ, and none else; and not the carnal seed of men as such: and if the conditions of it are the same, faith and obedience, as our author observes, then infants must stand excluded from it, since they can neither believe nor obey.
4. That the covenant of grace was made with Abraham,or a revelation and application of it to him; that the gospel was revealed to him, and he was justified in the same way believers are now; and that he had spiritual promises made to him, and spiritual blessings bestowed upon him; and that gospel-believers,be they Jews or Gentiles, who are the spiritual seed of Abraham,are heirs of the same covenant-blessings and promises, are never denied; —this man is fighting with his own shadow. What is denied and should be proved, is, that the covenant of grace is made with Abraham's carnal seed, the Jews, and with the carnal seed of gospel-believers among the Gentiles; and that spiritual promises are made to them; and that they are heirs of spiritual blessings, as such: and let it be further observed, that the covenant in Genesis 17 is not the covenant referred to in Galatians 3:17 said to be confirmed of God in Christ,and which could not be disannulled by the law 430 years after;since the date does not agree, it falls short twenty-four years; and therefore must refer, not to the covenant of circumcision, but to some other covenant, and time of making it.
5. It is false, that children have been always taken with their parents into the covenant of grace, under every dispensation. The children of Adam were not taken into the covenant of grace with him, which was made known to him immediately after the fall; for then all the world must be in the covenant of grace. The covenant made with Noah and his sons, was not the covenant of grace; since it was made with the beasts of the field as well as with them; unless it will be said, that they also are in the covenant of grace. Nor were all Abraham's natural seed taken into the covenant of grace with him. Ishmael was by name excluded, and the covenant established with Isaac;and yet Ishmael was in the covenant of circumcision; which by the way proves, that, that and the covenant of grace are two different things: nor were all Abraham's natural seed in the line of Isaac taken into the covenant of grace, not Esau;nor all in the line of Jacob and Israel;for as the apostle says, they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called; that is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Rom. 9:6-8). The covenant at Horeb was indeed a national covenant, and took in all, children and grown persons; and which was no other than a civil contract, and not a covenant of grace, between God and the people of Israel;he asking, and they as subjects; he promising to be their protector and defender, and they to be his faithful subjects, and obey his laws; which covenant has been long ago abolished, when God wrote a Loammi upon them: nor is there any proof of infants under the New Testament being taken into covenant with their parents. Not Matthew 19:14, 1 Corinthians 7:14 which make no mention of any covenant at all, as will be considered hereafter; nor Hebrews 8:8 since the house of Israel,that new covenant is said to be made with, are the spiritual Israel,whether Jews or Gentiles, even the whole household of faith, and none but them nor are their infants spoken of, nor can they be included; for have they all of them the laws of God written on their hearts? Do they all know the Lord? or have they all their sins forgiven them? which is the care with all those with whom this covenant is made, or to whom it is applied. Nor are there any predictions of this kind in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 30:6, Psalm 22:30, Isaiah 9:21 speak only of a succession of converted persons, either in the gospel-church among the Gentiles, or in the same among the Jews, when that people shall be converted in the latter day.
6. The distinction of an inward and outward covenant, is an Utopian business, mere jargon and nonsense; it has no foundation in scripture, reason, nor common sense. And here I cannot but observe what Mr. Baxter,a zealous Paedobaptist, says on this subject. "Mr. Blake's common phrase is, that they are in the outward covenant, and what that is, I cannot tell; in what sense is that (God's covenant-act) called outward? It cannot be, as if God did as the dissembling creature, Oretenus,with the mouth only, covenant with them, and not with the heart, as they deal with him. I know therefore no possible sense but this, that it is called outward from the blessings promised, which are outward; here therefore, I should have thought it reasonable for Mr. Blake to have told us what these outward blessings are, that this covenant promiseth; and that he would have proved out of the scriptures that God hath such a covenant distinct from the covenant of grace. I desire therefore that those words of scripture may be produced, where any such covenant is contained. And let Mr. Clark tell us what he means by the outward covenant,or the outward part of it, in which infants are; if any thing can be collected from him, as his meaning, it is, that it designs the outward administration of the covenant by the word and ordinances: but if it means the outward ministry of the word, newborn infants are not capable of that to any profit; if it designs the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, then they should be admitted to one as well as the other; and if baptism only is intended by this outward covenant, or the outward part, here is the greatest confusion imaginable; then the sense is, they are under the outward administration of the covenant, that is baptism; and this gives them a right to be baptized, that is to be baptized again, or in other words to be made Anabaptists of; and after all it is a poor covenant, or a poor part of it assigned for infants, in the bond of which, as this author says, are many real hypocrites.
7. That covenant-interest, and an evidence of it, give right to the real of the covenant, which was circumcision formerly, and baptism now, is false; and this writer has not proved it, nor infants covenant-interest, as we have seen already. He should have first proved that circumcision was a seal of the covenant of grace formerly, and baptism the real of it now, before he talked of covenant-interest giving a right to either. Admitting that circumcision was a real of the covenant of grace formerly, (though it was not) yet interest in that covenant and evidence of interest in it, did not give right to all in it to the seal of it, as it is called; since there were many who had evidently an interest in the covenant of grace, when circumcision was first appointed, and yet had no right to it; as Shem, Arphaxad, Lot,and others; and even many who were in the covenant made with Abraham, as this writer himself will allow, who had no right to this seal, even all his female offspring: to say, they were virtually circumcised in the males,is false and foolish; to have a thing virtually by another, is to have it by proxy, who represents another; but were the males the proxies and representatives of the females? had they been so, then indeed when they were circumcised, the females were virtually circumcised with them; and so it was all one as if they had been circumcised in their own persons; which to have been, would have been unlawful and sinful, not being by the appointment of God: as for its being unlawful for uncircumcised persons to eat of the passover, this must be understood of such who ought to be circumcised, and does not affect the females, who ought not, and so might eat, though they were really uncircumcised; nor had the males themselves any right to it till the eighth day; and so it was not covenant-interest, but a command from God, that gave them a right; and such an order is necessary to any person's right to baptism.
Again, admitting for argument-sake, that baptism is a seal of the covenant, does not this Gentleman also believe, that the Lord's-supper is a seal of it likewise? and if covenant-interest gives a right to the seals, why not to one seal as well as the other? and why are not infants admitted to the Lord's table, as well as to baptism? Moreover, it is evidence of interest, this writer says, that gives a right to the seal; and what is that evidence? Surely if faith and repentance are the conditions of the covenant, as before asserted, they must be the evidence? and therefore, according to his own argument, it should first appear, that infants have faith and repentance as the evidence of their covenant interest, before they are admitted to the seal of it; and such only according to the injunction of Christ, and the practice of his apostles, were admitted to baptism; as the passages below shew (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 39; 10:47), which our author refers us to. And now, Sir, after a long ramble, we are come to Abraham's covenant itself, and to the questions concerning it; as, of what kind it is; with whom made; and whether circumcision was the real of the covenant of grace; and whether baptism is come in its room, and is the seal of it. Now as to the
I. First of these, of what kind was the covenant with Abraham,Genesis 17? I have asserted, that it was not the pure covenant of grace, but of a mixed kind; consisting partly of promises of temporal things, and partly of spiritual ones; and you will easily observe, Sir, that the exceptions of this writer to the arguments I make use of in proof of it, are for the most part founded on his mistaken notions of the conditionality of the covenant of grace, and on that stupid and senseless distinction of the inward and outward covenant, before exploded; wherefore since these are groundless conceits and sandy foundations, what is built upon them must necessarily fall.
II. The same may be observed with respect to that part of the question, which relates to the covenant being made with all Abraham's seed according to the flesh, as a covenant of grace; by the help of which unscriptural and irrational distinction, he can find a place in the covenant of grace for a persecuting Ishmael,a profane Esau,and all the wicked Jews in all ages, in all times of defection and apostasy; but if he can find no better covenant to put the infants of believers into, nor better company to place them with, who notwithstanding their covenant-interest, may be lost and damned, it will be a very insignificant thing with considerate persons, whether they are in this Utopian covenant or no.
III. As to that part of the question which relates to the natural seed of believing Gentiles being in Abraham's covenant, or to that being made with them as a covenant of grace, it is by me denied. This writer says, I add a stroke, as he calls it, that at once cuts off all Abraham's natural seed, and all the natural seed of believing Gentiles, from having any share in the covenant; since I say, "That to none can spiritual blessings belong, but to a spiritual seed, not a natural one." But he might have observed, that this is explained in the same page thus, "not to the natural seed of either of them as such." He says, it is not requisite to a person's visible title and claim to the external privileges of the covenant, that he should be truly regenerate, or a sincere believer;" and yet he elsewhere says, "that to repent and believe must be the sinner's own voluntary chosen acts, before he can have any actual saving interest in the privileges of the covenant:" let him reconcile these together. He has not proved, nor is he able to prove, that the natural seed of believing Gentiles, as such, are the spiritual seed of Abraham;since only they that are Christ's, or believers in him, or who walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham,are his spiritual seed; which cannot be said of all the natural seed of believing Gentiles, or of any of them as such. That clause in Abraham's covenant, A father of many nations have I made thee (Gen. 17:4, 5) is to be understood only of the faithful, or of believers in all nations; and not of all nations that bear the Christian name, as comprehending all in them, grown persons and infants, good and bad men; and only to such who are of the faith of Abraham does the apostle apply it (Rom. 4:16); the stranger, and his male seed, that submitted to circumcision, may indeed be said to be in the covenant of circumcision; but it does not follow, that these were in the covenant of grace; there were many of Abraham's own natural seed that were in the covenant of circumcision, who were not in the covenant of grace; and it would be very much, that the natural seed of strangers, and even of believing Gentiles, should have a superior privilege to the natural seed of Abraham.Those, and those only, in a judgment of charity, are to be reckoned the spiritual seed, who openly believe in Christ, as I have expressed it; about which phrase this man makes a great pother, when the sense is plain and easy; and that it designs such who make a visible profession of their faith, and are judged to be partakers of the grace of the covenant; which certainly is the best evidence of their interest in it; and therefore it must be best to wait till this appears, before any claim of privilege can be made; and is no other than what this writer himself says in the words before referred to. Though, after all, I stand by my former assertion, that covenant-interest, even when made out clear and plain, gives not right to any ordinance without a positive order or direction from God; and he may call it a conceit of mine if he pleases; he is right in it, that according to it, no person living is capable of (that is, has a right unto) the ordinances and visible privileges of the church upon any grounds of covenant-interest, without a positive direction from God for it; as there was for circumcision, so there should be for baptism; as, with respect to the former, many who were in the covenant of grace had no concern with it, having no direction from the Lord about it; so though persons may be in the covenant of grace, yet if they are not pointed out by the Lord, as those whom he wills to be the subjects of it, they have no right unto it. To say, that Lot and others were under a former administration of the covenant, on whom circumcision was not enjoined, is saying nothing; unless he can tell us what that former administration of it was, and wherein it differed from the administration of it to Abraham and his seed; to instance in circumcision, would be begging the question, since that is the thing instanced in; by which it appears that covenant-interest gives no right to an ordinance, without a special direction; and the same holds good of baptism. His sense of Mark 16:16 is, that infants are included in the profession of their believing parents, and why not in their baptism too? and so there is no necessity of their baptism; the text countenances one as much as it does the other, and both are equally stupid and senseless.
IV. The next inquiry is, whether circumcision was the seal of the covenant of grace to Abraham's natural seed. It is called a token or sign,but not a seal; this writer says, though a token, simply considered, does not necessarily imply a seal, yet the token of a covenant, or promise, can be nothing else: if it can be nothing else, it does necessarily imply it; unless there is any real difference between a token simply considered, and the token of a covenant, which he would do well to shew circumcision was nothing else but a sign or mark in the flesh, appointed by the covenant; and therefore that is called the covenant in their flesh;and not because circumcision was any confirming token or seal of the covenant to any of Abraham's natural seed: it was a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith to Abraham;that that righteousness which he had by faith before his circumcision, should come upon the uncircumcised Gentiles; but was no seal of that, nor any thing else, to any others: and according to our author's notion of it, it was neither a seal of Abraham's faith, nor of his righteousness; then surely not of any others; and yet in contradiction to this, he says, it is "a seal of the covenant of grace, wherein this privilege of justification by faith is confirmed and conveyed to believers;" and if to believers, then surely not to all Abraham's natural seed, unless he can think they were all believers; though his real notion, if I understand him right, is, that it is no confirming sign, or seal of any spiritual blessings to any; since the subjects of it, as he owns, may have neither faith nor righteousness; but of the truth of the covenant itself; that God has made one; but this needs no such sign or seal; the word of God is sufficient, which declares it and assures of it.
V. The next thing that comes under consideration, is, whether baptism succeeds circumcision; and is the seal of the covenant of grace to believers, and their natural seed.
1. This author endeavors to prove that baptism succeeds circumcision from Colossians 2:11, but in vain; for the apostle is speaking not of corporal, but of spiritual circumcision, of which the former was a typical resemblance; and so shewing, that believing Gentiles have that through Christ which was signified by it; and which the apostle describes, by the manner of its being effected, without hands,without the power of man, by the efficacy of divine grace; and by the substance and matter of it, which lay in the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh;and without a tautology, as this writer suggests, by the author of it, Christ, who by his Spirit effects it, and therefore is called the circumcision of Christ;and is distinguished from baptism, described in the next verse: and as weak and insignificant is his proof from the analogy between baptism and circumcision; some things said of baptism and circumcision are not true; as that they are sacraments of admission into the church: Not so was circumcision; not of the Gentiles, who had it not, nor were admitted by it, and yet were in the church; nor even of the males, for they were not circumcised till eight days old, yet were of the Jewish church, which was national, as loon as born; and persons may be baptized, and yet not be entered into any visible church: Nor are they badges of relation to the God of Israel;since on the one hand, persons might have one or the other, yet have no spiritual relation to God; and on the other hand, be without either, and yet be related to him: nor are either of them seals and signs of the covenant of grace, as before shewn: nor is baptism absolutely requisite to a person's approach to God with confidence and acceptance in any religious duty, private or public. Baptism serves not to the same use and purpose in many things that circumcision did; it is not the middle wall of partition; nor does it bind men to keep the whole law, as circumcision; and though there may be some seeming agreement, arguments from analogy are weak and dangerous: so from the priest's offering a propitiatory sacrifice, wearing the linen ephod, and one high priest being above all other priests, the Papists argue for a minister's offering a real propitiatory sacrifice, for wearing the surplice, and for a Pope, or universal Bishop; and others from the same topic argue for tithes being due to ministers, and for the inequality of bishops and presbyters, there being an high priest and inferior ores: and to this tends our author's third argument, that either baptism succeeds circumcision, or there is nothing at all instituted in its room; nor is there any necessity that there should, any more than that there should be a Pope in the room of an high priest, or any thing to answer to Easter, Pentecost, etc. all which, as circumcision, had their end in Christ nor does the Lord's-supper come in the room of the passover; what answers to that is, Christ the passover sacrificed for us;and did it, by this argument from analogy, infants ought to be admitted to the Lord's-supper, as they were to the passover: by this way of arguing, and at this door, may be brought in all the Jewish rites and ceremonies, under other names: and after all, what little agreement may be imagined is between them, the difference is notorious in many things; some of which this author is obliged to own; as in the subjects of them, the one being only males, the other males and females; the one being by blood, the other by water; and besides they differ as to the persons by whom, and the places where, and the uses for which, they are performed; wherefore from analogy and resemblance is no proof of succession, but the contrary. My argument from baptism being in force before circumcision, to prove that the one did not succeed the other, is so far from being allowed by our author a proof of it, that he will not allow it to be a bare probability, unless I could prove they had been all along contemporary: but if I cannot do it, he and his brethren can, who give credit to the Jewish custom of baptizing their proselytes and children; and which they make to be a practice, for which the Jews fetch proof as early as the times of Jacob;and I hope, if he will abide by this, he will allow that baptism could not come in the room of circumcision.
2. He next attempts to prove that baptism is a real of the covenant of grace to believers and their seed, by a wretched perversion of several passages of scripture (John 3:33; Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 Cor. 12:13), in which no mention is made of the covenant of grace, and much less of baptism as a real of it; and which only speak of believers, and not a syllable of their infants; and all of them clear proofs, that believers, and they only, are the proper subjects of baptism; as may easily be observed by the bare reading of them.
3. My sentiment of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper not being seals of the covenant of grace, he thinks, is borrowed from the Socinians. These have no better notion or' the covenant of grace than himself, nor of the efficacy of the blood of Christ for the ratification of it, nor of the sealing work of the spirit of God upon the hearts of his people. My sentiment is borrowed from the scriptures, and is established by them; the blood of Christ confirms and ratifies the covenant, the blessings and promises of it, and is therefore called the blood of the everlasting covenant;the blessed spirit is the sealer of believers interest in it, or assures them of it (Heb. 13:20; Eph. 1:13) So that there are not two seals of the covenant of grace, as he wrongly observes. The blood of Christ makes the covenant itself lure, and is in this sense the seal of that; the spirit of God is the seal of interest in it to particular persons; and in neither sense do or can ordinances seal.
4. Upon the whole, what has this author been doing throughout this chapter? has he proved that the natural seed of believers, as such, are in the covenant of grace? he has not. The covenant he attempts to prove they are in, according to his own account of it, is no covenant of grace. Does it secure any one spiritual blessing to the carnal seed of believers? it does not. Does it secure regenerating, renewing, sanctifying grace, or pardoning grace, or justifying grace, or adopting grace, or eternal life? it does not. And if so, I leave it to be judged of by such that have any knowledge of the covenant, if such a covenant can be called the covenant of grace; or what spiritual Caving advantage is to be had from an interest in such a covenant, could it be proved. He would have his readers believe, that the covenant, he pleads infants have an interest in, is the same under all dispensations, and in all ages: the covenant of grace is indeed the same, but the covenant he puts the infant-seed of believers into, is only an external administration; and this, he himself being judge, cannot have been always the same. This external administration, according to himself, was first by sacrifices, and then by circumcision, and now by baptism; for what else he means by an external administration, than an administration of ordinances, cannot be conceived; and then by infants being in the covenant, is no other than having ordinances administered to them; and so their being in the covenant now, is no other than their being baptized; and yet he says, "the main foundation of the right of infants to baptism, is their interest in the covenant;" that is, the external administration they are under, or the administration of baptism to them, is the main foundation of their right to baptism. They are baptized, therefore they are and ought to be baptized; such an account of covenant-interest, and of right to baptism from it, is a mere begging the question, and proving idem per idem,yea is downright nonsense and contradiction: and so, when baptism is said to be the seal of the covenant, that is, of the external administration, which administration is that of baptism, the sense is, baptism is the seal of baptism. This senseless jargon is the amount of all the reasonings throughout this chapter: Such mysterious stuff, such glaring contradictions, and stupid nonsense, I leave him and his admirers to please themselves with.
5. From hence it appears, that the clamorous out-cry of cutting off infants from their covenant-right, and so abridging and lessening their privileges, is all a noise about nothing; since it is in vain to talk about cutting off from the covenant of grace, when they were never in it; as the natural seed of believers, as such, never were, under any dispensation whatever; and even what is pleaded for, is only an external administration, which neither conveys grace, nor secures any spiritual blessings; wherefore what privileges are infants deprived of by not being baptized? Let it be shewn if it can, what spiritual blessings infants said to be baptized have, which our infants unbaptized have not; to instance in baptism itself, would be begging the question; it would still be asked, what spiritual privilege or profit comes to an infant by its baptism? If our infants have as many, or the same privileges under the gospel-dispensation, without baptism, as others have with it; then their privileges are not abridged or lessened, and the clamor must be a groundless one. To say, that baptism admits into the Christian church, as circumcision into the Jewish church, are both false, as has been proved already; our author, it seems, did not know, that a national church was a carnal one; whereas a national church can be no other, since all born in a nation are members of it, and become so by their birth, which is carnal; for, whatsoever is born of the flesh is flesh.Whereas a gospel-church, gathered out of the world, does, or should consist, only of such who are born again, and have an understanding of spiritual things. This writer seems to suggest, that if infants are not admitted to this external administration, and real of the covenant he pleads for, their condition is deplorable, and there is no ground of hope of their eternal salvation; and does their being admitted into this external administration make their condition better with respect to everlasting salvation? not at all; since, according to our author, persons may be in this, and yet not in the covenant of grace, as hypocrites may be; and he distinguishes this visible and external administration from the spiritual dispensation and efficacy of the covenant of grace; so that persons may be in the one, and yet be everlastingly lost; and therefore what ground of hope of eternal salvation does this give? or what ground of hope does non-admission into it deprive them of? Is salvation inseparably connected with baptism? or does it ensure it to any? How unreasonable then, and without foundation, is this clamorous outcry? And now, Sir, we are come to
The fifth chapter of my treatise, which considers the several texts of scripture produced in favor of Infant-baptism; and the first is Acts 2:38, 39. Now, not to take notice of this author's foolish impertinencies, and with which his book abounds, and would be endless to observe; for which reason I mention them not, that I might not swell this letter too large, and impose upon your patience in reading it; you will easily observe, Sir, the puzzle and confusion he is thrown into to make the exhortation to repent, urged in order to the enjoyment of the promise,to agree with infants; and which is mentioned as previous to baptism, and in order to it. That this passage can furnish out no argument in favor of Infant-baptism, will appear by the plain, clear, and easy sense of it; Peter had charged the Jews with the sin of crucifying Christ; their consciences were awakened, and loaded with the guilt of it; in their distress, being pricked to the heart, they inquire what they should do, as almost despairing of mercy to be shewn to such great sinners; they are told, that notwithstanding their sin was so heinous, yet if they truly repented of it, and submitted to Christ and his ordinances, particularly to baptism, the promise of life and salvation belonged to them, nor need they doubt of an interest in it: and whereas they had imprecated his blood, not only upon themselves, but upon their posterity, more immediate and more remote, for which they were under great concern; they are told this promise of salvation by Christ reached to them also, provided they repented and were baptized; and which is the reason that mention is made of their children; yea, even to them that were afar off,their brethren the Jews in distant countries, that should hear the gospel, repent and believe, and be baptized; or should live in ages to come in the latter day, and should look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn;and so has nothing to do with the covenant with Abraham and his natural seed, and much less with the Gentiles and theirs: and be it so, that the Gentiles are meant by those afar off,which may be admitted, since it is sometimes a descriptive character of them; yet no mention is made of their children; and had they been mentioned, the limiting clause, even as many as the Lord our God shall call,plainly points at, and describes the persons intended; not among the Gentiles only, but the Jews also, as agreeable to common sense and the rules of grammar; and is to be understood only of the Jews that are called by grace, and of their children, that are effectually, called, and of the Gentiles called with an holy calling, as the persons to whom the promise belongs; and which appears evident by their repentance and baptism, which this is an encouraging motive to; and therefore can be understood only of adult persons, and not of infants; and of whole baptism not a syllable is mentioned, nor can it be inferred from this passage, or established by it.
II. The next passage of scripture produced in favor of Infant-baptism, and to as little purpose, is Matthew 19:14 it is owned by our author, that these children were not brought to Christ to be baptized by him; and that they were not baptized by him; these things, he says, they do not affirm. For what then is the passage produced? why, to shew, that infants become proselytes to Christ by baptism; and is not this to be baptized? what a contradiction is this? And afterwards another self-contradiction follows: he imagines these infants had been baptized already, and yet were commanded to become proselytes by baptism, and so Anabaptists; but how does it appear that it was the will of Christ they should become proselytes to him this way? from the etymology of the Greek word, which signifies to come to;so, wherever the word is used of persons as coming to Christ, it is to be understood of their becoming proselytes to him by baptism: it is used in Matthew 16:1 the Pharisees also with the Sadducees—pro selqonteV ,"came tempting him."Did they become proselytes to him by baptism? what stupid stuff is this? nay the Devil himself is said to come to him, and when the Tempter— proselqwn, came to him, he said,etc. Matthew 4:3. our author surely does not think he became a proselyte to him. That it was the custom of the Jews, before the times of Christ, to baptize the children of proselytes, is not a fact so well attested, as is said; the writings from whence the proof is taken, were written some hundreds of years after Christ's time; and the very first persons that mention it, dispute it; one alarming there was such a custom, and the other denying it; and were it far, since it was only a tradition of the elders at best, and not a command of God, it is not credible that our Lord should follow it, or enforce such a practice on his followers: the coming of these children was merely corporal, whatever it was for, and temporary; there is no other way of coming to Christ, or becoming proselytes to him, but by believing in him, embracing his doctrines, and obeying his commands; and when children are capable of these things, and do them, we are ready to acknowledge them the proselytes of Christ, and admit them to baptism: nor does the reason given in the text, for of such is the kingdom of heaven, prove their right to baptism; for not to insist on the metaphorical sense of these words, which yet Calvin gives into; but supposing infants literally are meant, the kingdom of heaven cannot be understood of the gospel-church-state; which is not national but congregational, consisting of men gathered out of the world by the grace of God, and who make a public profession of Christ, which infants are not capable of, and so not taken into it; and were they, they must have an equal right to the Lord's supper as to baptism, and of which they are equally capable; for does the Lord's supper require in the receivers of it a competent measure of Christian knowledge, the exercise of reason and understanding, and their active powers, as this writer says, so does baptism. But by the kingdom of heaven,is meant the heavenly glory; and we deny not, that there are infants that belong to it, though who they are, we know not; nor is this any argument for their admission to baptism; it is one thing what Christ does himself, he may admit them into heaven; it is another thing what we are to do, the rule of which is his revealed will: we cannot admit them into a church-state, or to any ordinance, unless he has given us an order so to do; and besides, it: is time enough to talk of their admission to baptism, when it appears they have a right unto, and a meetness for the kingdom of heaven.
III. Another passage brought into this controversy is Matthew 18:16; this is owned to be less convictive, because interpreters are divided about the sense of it; some understanding it of children in knowledge and grace, others of children in age, to which our author inclines, for the sake of his hypothesis; though he knows not how to reject the former: my objections to the latter sense, he says, have no great weight in them; it seems they have some. I will add a little more to them, shewing that not little ones in a literal, but figurative sense, are meant, even the disciples of Christ, that actually believed in him: the word here used is different from that which is used of little children, verse 3. and is manifestly used of the disciples of Christ (Matthew 10:42), and the parallel text in Mark 9:41, 42 most clearly shews, that the little ones that believed in Christ, which were not to be offended, were his apostles, that belonged to him; quite contrary to what this writer produces it for; who has most miserably mangled and tortured this passage: Moreover there was but one little child, Christ took and set in the midst of his disciples, whereas he has regard to several little ones then present, and whom, as it were, he points unto; one of which to offend, would be resented; and plainly designs the apostles then present, who not only had the principle of faith, but exercised it, as the word used signifies; and who were capable of being scandalized, and of having stumbling-blocks thrown in their way, and taking offense at them; which infants in age are not capable of: that senseless rant of cutting off infants from their right in the covenant of salvation, and from the privileges of the gospel, (I suppose he means by denying baptism to them) being an offense and injury to them, and the whining cant upon this, are mean and despicable: his reasons, why the apostles of Christ cannot be meant, because contending for pre-eminence, they discovered a temper of mind opposite to little children, has no force in it; for Christ calls them little ones,partly because they ought to be as little children, verse 3, and in some sense were so; and partly to mortify their pride and vanity, as well as to express his tender affection and regard for them, see verse 10, and since infants are not meant, it is in vain to dispute about their faith, either as to principle or act, and what right that gives to baptism; and especially since profession of faith, and consent to be baptized, are necessary to the administration of that ordinance, and to the subjects of it.
IV. Next we have his remarks on the exceptions to the sense of 1 Corinthians 7:14 contended for: the sense of internal holiness derived from parents to children is rejected by him; but there is another, which he seems to have a good will unto: he says there are some reasons to support it, and he does not object to it; yet chooses not to adhere to it, though if established, would put an end to the controversy; and that is, that the word sanctified signifies baptized,and the word holy,Christians baptized;and then the sense is, "the unbelieving husband is baptized by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is baptized by the believing husband; else were your children unbaptized, but now they are baptized Christians;" the bare mention of which is confutation sufficient. The sense our author prefers is a visible federal holiness: but what that holiness is, for any thing he has said to clear it, remains in the dark: covenant-holiness, or what the covenant of grace promises, and secures to all interested in it, is clear and plain, internal holiness of heart, and outward holiness of life and conversation flowing from that (Ezek. 36:25-27); But are the infants of believers, as such, partakers of this holiness? or is such holiness as this communicated unto, or does it appear upon all the natural seed of believers? This will not be said; experience and facts are against it; they are born in sin, and are by nature children of wrath, as others;and many of them are never partakers of real holiness, and are as profligate as others; and on the other hand, some of the children of unbelievers are partakers of true holiness: if it be said, and which seems to be our author's meaning, that it is such a holiness the people of the Jews had in distinction from the Heathens,and therefore are called an holy seed;this cannot be, since the holiness of the Jewish seed lay in the lawful issue of a Jewish man and a Jewish woman: if a Jewish man married an Heathen woman, their issue was not holy, as appears from Ezra and Nehemiah;whereas, according to the apostle, if a Christian man married an Heathen woman, or a Christian woman an Heathen man, their issue were holy: should it be said, as it is suggested by our author, that so indeed it was in Ezra's times, according to the Jewish law; but now, since the coming of Christ, the national difference is abolished; which he makes to be the sense of the apostle, and therein betrays his ignorance of the apostle's argument and method of reasoning; for the particle now,as Beza observes, is not in this place an adverb of time, but a conjunction, which is commonly used in assumptions of argument, which destroys our author's argument, and lets aside his method of reasoning, which he seems fond of, and afterwards repeats: it remains therefore, that only a matrimonial holiness is here intended; and surely marriage may be said to be holy, as it is by the apostle honorable,and for that reason (Heb. 13:4), without savoring strong of popery, or savoring the notion of marriage being a sacrament, as this writer insinuates; who has got a strange nose, and a stranger judgment: whether he is a single or a married man, I know not; he appears to have a bad opinion of marriage. That infants born in lawful wedlock cannot be called holy, being legitimate, without favoring of popery. As he is not able to set aside the sense of the word sanctified given by me, as signifying espoused; he requires of me to prove that the word holy means legitimate;for which I refer him to Ezra 9:2 where those born of parents, both Jewish, are called an holy seed;that is, a lawful one; in opposition to, and in distinction from a spurious and illegitimate issue, born of parents, the one Jewish and the other Heathen: and this is the same with the godly seed,in Malachi 2:15. which Calvin interprets legitimate, in distinction from those that are born in polygamy: nor will any other sense suit with the care proposed to the apostle; nor with his answer and manner of reasoning about it; who says not one word era covenant whereby an unbelieving yoke-fellow is sanctified to a believing one, or of the federal holiness of the children of both; but argues, that if their marriage, being unequal, was not valid, which was their scruple, their children must be unclean,as bastards were accounted (Deut. 23:2); whereas it being good, their children were legitimate, and so might be easy, and continue together as they ought.
The passage out of the Talmud,which he has at second-hand from Dr. Lightfoot,designs by Holiness,Judaism, and not Christianity, and is quite impertinent to the purpose; nor can it be thought to be alluded to, since the holiness the Jews speak of, respects the parents, as both proselytes to Judaism; whereas the apostle's case supposes one an Heathen, and the other a Christian: and he might have observed by a tradition quoted by the Doctor, in the same place, that such a marriage the apostle was considering, is condemned by the Jews as no marriage, and the issue of it as illegitimate; which asserts, that a son begotten of a Heathen woman is not a son,his lawful son; just the reverse of what the apostle suggested: and after all, our author himself seems to make this holiness no other than a civil holiness, and which secures a civil relation, by which "the unbelieving yoke-fellow is sanctified, so far as concerns the believing party; that is, for lawful cohabitation, conjugal society, and the propagation of a holy covenant-seed;" for all which purposes, lawful marriages may be allowed to sanctify, if only instead of a holy covenant-seed,a legitimate feed is put. So that upon the whole, this passage does not furnish out the least shew of argument for Infant-baptism. Come we to
V. The next passage produced in favor of Infant-baptism, which are the words of the commission in Matthew 28:19, 20, one would think there should be no difficulty in understanding these words; and that the plain and easy sense of them is, that such as are taught by the ministry of the word, should be baptized, and they only; and if there was any doubt about this, yet it might be removed by comparing the same commission with this, as differently expressed in Mark 16:15, 16 from whence it clearly appears, that to teach all nations, is to preach the gospel to every creature;and that the persons among all nations, that may be said to be taught, or made disciples by teaching, are believers, and being so, are to be baptized; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.It is observed by this writer, that the acts of discipling and baptizing are of equal extent: it is agreed to, provided it be allowed, as it ought, that the word, teach,or make disciples, describes and limits the persons to be baptized; for such only of all nations are to be baptized, who are made disciples by teaching; not all the individuals of all nations; no, not even where the gospel comes, and is preached; for many hear it, and more might, who are not taught by it; and even when the seventh trumpet shall sound, and all nations shall serve the Lord,this will not be true of every individual of all nations, only of such, who are qualified for, and capable of serving the Lord; and so of adult persons only, and not of infants at all: and was this the care, that all nations in the commission are under no limitation and restriction, then not only the children of Pagans, Turks, and Jews, but even all adult persons, the most vile and profligate, should be baptized; wherefore the phrase, all nations to be baptized, must be restrained and limited to those who are made disciples out of all nations; who are the antecedent to the relative, them that are to be baptized, and not all nations; and though there is a frequent change of gender in the Greek language, which is owned; yet as Piscator,a learned Paedobaptist, on the text observes, "the syntax (of them) is referred to "the sense, and not to the word, since nations went before;" and the same observation he makes on the passage our author has produced as parallel (Rom. 2:14), but in order to bring infants to this restrictive and qualifying character for baptism, it is said, they are made disciples with their parents, when they become so, as parts of themselves: and why may they not be said to be baptized with them, when they are baptized, as parts of themselves, and so have no need of baptism? No doubt, if Christ had continued the use of circumcision under the New-Testament, and had bid his apostles to go and disciple the nations, circumcising them,they would have needed no direction as to infants, as is suggested; and that for this plain reason, because there had been a previous express command for the circumcision of them; but there is no such command to baptize infants previous to the commission, and therefore could not be understood in like manner. But it seems the known custom of the Jews to baptize the children of proselytes with them, was a plain and sufficient direction as to the subjects of baptism, and is the reason why no express mention is made of them in the commission: But it does not appear there was any such custom among the Jews, when the commission was given; had it been so early, as is pretended, even in the times of Jacob,it is strange there should be no hint of it in the Old Testament: nor in the apocryphal writings; nor in the writings of the New Testament; nor in Josephus;nor in Philo the Jew; nor in the Jewish Misnah;only in the Talmud;which was not composed till five hundred years after Christ; and this custom is at first reported by a single Rabbi,and at the same time denied by another of equal credit and authority: and admitting that this was a custom that then obtained, since it was not of divine institution, but of human invention, had our Lord thought fit (which is not reasonable to suppose) to take it into his New Testament ordinance of baptism; yet it would have been necessary to have made express mention of it, as his will that it should be observed, in order to remove the scruple that might arise from its being a mere Jewish custom and tradition. But to proceed: though this writer may be able to find in the schools within his knowledge, such ignorant disciples and learners, that have learned nothing at all; CHRIST has none such in his school: Christ says, none can be a disciple of his, but who has learned to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him (Luke 14:26, 27, 33), and forsake all for him; and this man says, they may be called disciples, that have learned nothing, and be enrolled among the disciples of Christ, who are incapable of outward teaching: but who are we to believe, Christ, or this man? He suggests, that it would be impracticable to put the commission in execution, if none but true disciples and believers are to be baptized, since the heart cannot be inspected, and man may be deceived; and observes, that the apostles baptized immediately upon profession, and waited not for the fruits of it, and some of which are not true disciples, but hypocrites: this is what he often harps upon; and to which I answer, the apostles had no doubt a greater spirit of discerning, and so could observe the signs of true faith and discipleship in men, without long waiting; but they never baptized any whom they did not judge to be true disciples and believers, and who professed themselves to be such: and though they were in some few instances mistaken; this might be suffered, that ministers and churches might not be discouraged, when such instances should appear in following times; and this is satisfaction enough in this point, when men keep as close as they can to the divine rule, and make the best judgment of persons they are able; and when, in a judgment of charity, they are thought to be true disciples of Christ, baptize them; in which they do their duty, though it may fall out otherwise; and in which they are to be justified by the word of God; which they could not, were they to administer the ordinance to such who have no appearance of the grace of God, and the truth of it in them. The text in Acts 15:10 is far from proving infants disciples; they are not designed in that place, nor included in the character; for though no doubt the Judaizing preachers were for having the Gentiles, and their infants too, circumcised; yet it was not circumcision, the thing itself, that is meant by the intolerable yoke, attempted to be put upon the necks of the disciples; for that was what the Jewish fathers and their children were able to bear, and had borne in ages past; but it was the doctrine of the necessity of that, and other rites of Moses to salvation; and which could not be imposed upon infants, but upon adult persons only. Next we proceed to
VI. The passages concerning the baptism of whole households, as an explanation of the commission, and of the apostles understanding it: Now since Infant-baptism, as we have seen, cannot be established by Abraham's covenant, nor by circumcision, nor by any command of Christ, nor by his commission, nor by any instances of infants baptized in the times of John the Baptist, or of Christ; if any instances of infants baptized by the apostles are proposed, they should be clear and plain: Since there is no express precept, which might justly be demanded; if any precedent is produced, it ought to be quite unexceptionable; if it is expected, such a practice should be given into by thinking people. Three families or households we read of, that were baptized, and these are the precedents proposed; yet no proof is made of any one infant in these families, or of the baptism of any in them; which should be done, if the former could be proved: but instead of this, the advocates for this practice are drove to this poor and miserable shift, to put us on proving the negative, that there were no infants in them. Our author thinks it utterly incredible, that in three such families there should be no infants, when, in so large a country as Egypt, there was not a family without a child (Ex. 12:30); and is so weak as to believe, or however hopes to find readers weak enough to believe, that all the first-born of the Egyptians that were slain were infants; whereas there might be many of them twenty, thirty, or forty years of age; so that there might be hundreds and thousands of families in Egypt that had not an infant in them, and yet not an house in which there was not a dead person.
But let us attend to these particular families: as for Lydia and her household, so far as a negative in such a care as this is capable of being proved; this is certain, that no mention is made of any infants in her family; it is certain, that there were brethren in her house, who were capable of being comforted by the apostles, and were; for it is expressly said, that they entered into the house of Lydia, and comforted the brethren;which is a proof of what, he says, cannot be proved, that they law the brethren at her house; and nothing appears to the contrary, but that they were of her household; and if there were any other besides them, that were baptized by the apostles, it lies upon those that will affirm it, to prove it; without which, this instance cannot be in favor of Infant-baptism. As for the Jailor's family, it is owned by our author, that there were some adult persons in it, who believed, and were baptized at the same time with the Jailor; but he asks, how does this argue that there were no others baptized in it, who were in the infantile state? It lies upon him to prove it, if there were: The word of God was spoken to all that were in his house, and all his house believed in God, and rejoiced in the conversation of the apostles, who must be all of them adult persons; and if he can find persons in his house, besides those all that were in it, I will see him down for a cunning man. Who those expositors are, that reader the words, believing in God, he rejoiced all his house aver,I know not, any more than I understand the nonsense of it. Erasmus and Vatablus join the phrase with all his house, with believing,as we do, and Pricaeus makes it parallel with Acts 18:8 but however, this writer has found a text to prove, that the children of believers are in their infancy accounted believers, and numbered with them, it is in Acts 2:44 if he can find any wise-acres that will give credit to him. As to the household of Stephanas,he says, that it seems probable that it was large and numerous, which renders it more likely that there were some infants in it: how large and numerous it was, does not appear; but be those of it more or fewer, it is a clear case they were adult persons, that we have any account of; since they addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints:and now upon what a tottering foundation does Infant-baptism stand, having no precept from God for it, nor any one single precedent for it in the word of God? Come we now,
VII. To the last text in the controversy, Romans 11:17, 24 and which is the decisive one, and yet purely allegorical; when it is an axiom with divines, that symbolical or allegorical divinity is not argumentative: there is nothing, says Dr. Owen, "so sottish, or foolish, or contradictious in and to itself, as may not be countenanced from teaching parables to be instructive, and proving in every parcel, or expression, that attends them;" of this we have an instance in our author, about engrafting buds with the cyon, and of breaking off and grafting in branches with their buds, which he applies to parents and their children; though the apostle has not a word about it: and indeed he is speaking of an engrafture, not according, but contrary to nature; not only of an engrafture of an olive-tree, which is never done, but of engrafting a wild cyon into a good stock; whereas the usual way is to engraft a good cyon into a wild stock. The general scope and design of the allegory is to be attended to which is to shew the rejection of the unbelieving Jews from, and the reception of the believing Gentiles into the gospel-church; for though God did not call away the people among the Jews whom he foreknew; or the remnant according to the election of grace, of which the apostle was one; yet there was a calling-away of that people as a body politic and ecclesiastic, which now continues, and will till the fullness of the Gentiles are brought in; and then there will be a general conversion of the Jews, of which the conversion of some of them in the times of Christ and his apostles were the root, first-fruits, pledge, and earnest; and which led on the apostle to this allegorical discourse about the olive-tree; which I understand of the gospel church-state, in distinction from the Jewish church-state, now dissolved. This writer will not allow, that the Jewish church, as to its essential constitution, is abolished, only as to its outward form of administration: but God has wrote a Loammi upon that people, both as a body politic and ecclesastic (Hosea 1:9); he has unchurched them; he has broke his covenant with them, and their union with each other in their church state, signified by his breaking his two staffs, beauty and bands (Zech. 11:10, 14); and if this is not the care, the people of the Jews are now the true church of God, notwithstanding their rejection of the Messiah; and if the Gentiles are incorporated into that church, the gospel-church is, and must be national, as that was, and the same with it; whereas it differs from it, both as to matter and them, consisting of persons gathered out of the world, and enjoying different ordinances, the former being utterly abolished. Our author objects to my interpretation of the good olive-tree being the gospel church state, from the unbelieving Jews being said to be broken-off,and the olive-tree called their own olive-tree,and they the natural branches:to which I answer, that the breaking of them off, verse 17 is the same with the carting away of them, verse 15 and the allegory is not to be stretched beyond its scope. The Jewish church being dissolved, the unbelieving Jews lay like broken, withered, scattered branches, and so continued, and were not admitted into the gospel church state, which is all the apostle means: if I have used too soft a term, to say they were left out of the gospel-church, since severity is expressed, I may be allowed to use one more harsh, and severe; as that they were cast away and rejected, they were cut off from all right, and excluded from admission into the gospel church, and not suffered to partake of the ordinances of it: and as to the gospel church being called their own olive-tree,that is, the converted Jews in the latter day, of whom the apostle speaks; with great propriety may it be called their own, not only because of their right of admission to it, being converted, but because the first gospel-church was set up in Jerusalem,was gathered out from among the Jews, and consisted of some of their nation, which were the first-fruits of those converted ones; and so in other places, the first gospel churches consisted of Jews, into which, and not into the national church of the Jews, were the Gentiles engrafted, and became fellow-heirs with them,and of the same body, partaking of gospel-ordinances and privileges: and the natural branches are not the natural branches of the olive-tree, but the natural branches or natural seed of Abraham, or of the Jewish people, who in the latter day will be converted, and brought into the gospel-church, as some of them were in the beginning of it. This sense being established, it is a clear and plain case, that nothing from hence can be concluded in favor of Infant-baptism; of which there is not the least hint, nor any manner of reference to it.
This chapter, you will remember, Sir, is concluded with proofs of women's right to the ordinance of the Lord's supper: and which are such, as cannot be produced, and supported, to prove the right of infants to baptism. It is granted by our author, that my arguments are in the main conclusive, and he "must be a wrangler that will dispute them;" and yet he disputes them himself, and so proves himself a wrangler, as indeed he is nothing else throughout the whole of his performance. However, he is confident, there are as good proofs of the baptism of infants; as, from their being accounted believers and disciples (Matthew 8:6; Acts 2:44; 15:10); from their being church-members (Luke 18:16; 1 Cor. 7:14; Eph. 5:15, 26); from the probability of some infants baptized in the whole households mentioned; all which we have seen are weak, foolish, impertinent, and inconclusive. This author does wonderful feats in his own conceit, in his knight errantry way; he proves this, and confutes that, and baffles the other; and though he brings the same arguments, that have been used already; as he owns, and I may add, baffled too already, to use his own language; yet he has added fume new illustration and enforcement to them, and such as have not occurred to him in any author he has seen; so that he would have his reader believe, he is some extraordinary man, and has performed wonderful well; and in this vainglorious shew, I leave him to the ridicule and contempt of men of modesty and good sense, as he justly deserves, and proceed to The sixth and last chapter of my treatise, which is concerning the mode of administering the ordinance of baptism, whether by immersion, or sprinkling; and here, Sir, I observe,
1. That our author represents the controversy about this as one of the most trifling controversies that ever was managed: but if it is so trifling a matter, whether baptism is administered by immersion or sprinkling, why do he and his party write with so much heat and vehemence, as well as with so much scorn and contempt against the former, and so heavily load with calumnies those that defend it, and charge them with the breach of the sixth and seventh commands, as it has been often done? But if it is so indifferent and trifling a matter with this writer, it is not so with us, who think it to be an affair of great importance, in what manner an ordinance is to be administered; and who judge it essential to baptism, that it be performed by immersion, without which it cannot be baptism; nor the end of the ordinance answered, which is to represent the burial of Christ; and which cannot be done unless the person baptized is covered in water.
2. It is allowed that the word baptizw, with the lexicons and critics, signifies to dip;but it is also observed, that they render it to wash:which is not denied, since dipping necessarily includes washing; whatever is dipped, is washed, and therefore in a consequential sense it signifies washing, when its primary sense is dipping. Our author does not attempt to prove, that the lexicons and critics ever say it signifies to pour or sprinkle;which ought to be done, if any thing is done to purpose: indeed he says, with classical writers, it has the signification of persuasion,or sprinkling;but does not produce one instance of it. He charges me with partiality in concealing part of what Mr. Leigh says in his Critica Sacra;which I am not conscious of, since my edition, which indeed is one of the former, has not a syllable of what is quoted from him; and even that is more for us than against us. Hence with great impertinence are those passages of scripture produced (Mark 7:3, 4; Luke 11:30; Heb. 9:10), which are supposed to have the signification of washing; since these do not at all militate against the sense of dipping, seeing dipping is washing; and to as vain a purpose are those scriptures referred to (Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:9; Acts 22:16), which call baptism a washing of water,and the washing of regeneration,etc. even supposing they are to be understood of baptism; which, at least in several of them, is doubtful; since nobody denies, that a person baptized, may be said to be washed, he being dipped in water.
3. It is affirmed that we do not read of one instance of any person who repaired to a river, or conflux of water, purely on the design of being baptized therein. But certain it is, that John repaired to such places for the convenient administration of that ordinance; and many repaired to him at those places, purely on a design of being baptized by him in them; and particularly it is said of Christ, then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him (Matthew 3:13); and I hope it will be allowed, that he repaired to Jordan,on a pure design of being baptized in it; and though it was in a wilderness where John was, yet such an one in which were many villages, full of inhabitants, as our author might have learned from Dr. Lightfoot; where John might have had the convenience of vessels for bringing water, had the ordinance been performed by him in any other way, than by immersion.
4. The use of the words, baptize and baptism,in scripture, comes next under consideration; and,
(1.) the word is used in Acts 1:5 of the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit to the apostles on the day of Pentecost, which is called a being baptized with the holy Ghost;and the house in which the apostles were, being filled with it,had in it a resemblance to baptism by immersion; and hence the use of the phrase. The main objection our author makes to this, is, that the disciples were in the house before it was filled with the holy Ghost; whereas it should have been first filled, and then they enter into it, to carry any resemblance in it to immersion: but it matters not, whether the house was filled before or after they entered, inasmuch as it was filled when they were in, whereby they were encompassed and covered with it; which is sufficient to support the allusion to baptism, performed by immersion; or covering the person in water: it is represented as dissonant from common sense, to say, Ye shall be poured with the holy Ghost?and is it not as dissonant from common sense to say, Ye shall be poured with the Holy Ghost?
(2.) The sufferings of Christ are called a baptism (Mark 10:38; Luke 12:50); and a very apt word is used to express the abundance of them, as that signifies an immersion into water; and though the lesser sufferings of men, and God's judgments on them, may be expressed by the pouring out of his wrath, and the vials of it on them; yet since the holy Ghost has thought fit not to make use of such a phrase, but a very peculiar word to express the greater sufferings of Christ, this the more confirms the sense of the word contended for. The phrase in Psalm 22:14. I am poured out like water,doth not express the sufferings of Christ, but the effect of them, the faintness of his spirits under them. The passages in Psalm 69:1, 2 which represent him as overwhelmed with his sufferings, as in water, do most clearly illustrate the use of the word baptism in reference to them, and strongly support the allusion to it, as performed by immersion, which this writer has not been able to let aside.
(3.) Mention is made in Mark 7:4 of the Jews washing, or baptizing themselves, when they come from market, before they eat; and of the washing, or baptizing of their cups, pots, brazen vessels, tables or beds; all which was done by immersion. This writer says, I am contradicted by the best masters of the Jewish learning, when I say, that the Jews upon touching common people, or their clothes, at market, or in any court of judicature, were obliged by the tradition of the elders to immerse themselves in water, and did. To which I reply, that Vatablus and Drusius, who were great masters of Jewish learning, affirm, that according to the tradition of the elders, the Jews washed or immersed the whole body before they ate, when they came from market; to whom may be added the learned Grotius,who interprets the words the same way; and which seems most reasonable, since washing before eating, verse 4 is distinguished from the washing of hands, verse 3. But not to rest it here; Maimonides, that great matter of Jewish learning, assures us, that "if the Pharisees touched but the garments of the common people, they were defiled, all one as if they had touched a profluvious person, and needed immersion," and were obliged to it: and though Dr. Lightfoot,who was a great man in this kind of learning, yet not always to be depended upon, is of opinion, that the plunging of the whole body is not here understood; yet he thinks, that plunging or immersion of the hands in water, is meant, done by the Jews being ignorant and uncertain what uncleanness they came near unto in the market; and observes, the Jews used the washing of the hands, and the plunging of the hands; and that the word wash in the Evangelist, seems to answer to the former, and baptize to the latter; and Pocockehimself, whom this writer refers to, confesses the same, and says, that the Hebrew word לכמ to which baptizeqai answers in Greek, signifies a further degree of purification, than לטג or cerniptein (the words used for washing of hands) though not so as necessarily to imply an immersion of the whole body; since the greatest and most notorious uncleanness of the hands reached but to the wrist, and was cleansed by immersing or dipping up to it; and though he thinks the Greek word used in the text does not only and necessarily signify immersion, which yet he grants, specially agrees to it, as he thinks appears from Luke 11:38. To this may be opposed what the great Scaligersays; "the more superstitious part of the Jews, not only dipped the feet but the whole body, hence they were called Hemerobaptists, who every day before they sat down to food, dipped the body; wherefore the Pharisee, who had invited Jesus to dine with him, wondered he sat down to meat before he had washed his whole body, Luke 11," and after all, be it which it will, whether the immersion of the whole body, or only of the hands and feet, that is meant in these passages; since the washing of either was by immersion, as owned, it is sufficient to support the primary sense of the word contended for: and so all other things, after mentioned, according to the tradition of the elders, of which only the text speaks, and not of the law of God, were washed by immersion; particularly brazen vessels; concerning which the tradition is, "such as they use for hot things, as cauldrons and kettles, they heat them with hot water, and scour them, and dip them, and they are fit to be used." This writer says, I am strangely besides my Text, when I add, that "even beds, pillows, and bolsters, when they were unclean in a ceremonial sense, were to be washed by immersion, or dipping them into water;" but I am able to produce chapter and verse for what I affirm, from the traditions of the Jews, which are the only things spoken of in the text, and upon which the proof depends: for beds, their canons run thus; "a bed that is wholly defiled, if a man dips it part by part, it is pure." Again, if he dips the bed in it, (a pool of water) though its feet are plunged into the thick clay, (at the bottom of the pool) it is clean." As for pillows and bolsters, thus they say; "a pillow or a bolster of skin, when a man lifts up the mouth of them out of the water, the water which is in them will be drawn; what shall we do? he must dip them, and lift them up by their fringes." Thus, according to the traditions of the elders, our Lord is speaking of, these several things mentioned were waffled by immersion; which abundantly confirms the primary sense of the word used.
(4.) The passage of the Israelites through the Red-sea, and under a cloud, is represented as a baptism, 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2 and very aptly, as performed by immersion; since the waters stood up on both sides of them, and a cloud covered them; which very fitly represented persons immersed and covered with water in baptism: but what our author thinks will spoil this fine fancy, and some others, as he calls them, is, that one observation of Moses often repeated; that the children of Israel went on dry ground through the midst of the sea.To which I reply, that we are not under any necessity of owning that the cloud under which the Israelites were, let down any rain: it is indeed the sentiment of a Paedobaptist, I have referred to, and therefore am not affected with this observation; besides, it should be considered, that this equally, at least, spoils the fine fancy of the rain from the cloud bearing a much greater resemblance to sprinkling or affusion,as is asserted by the writer of the dialogue; and out author says, there was a true and proper ablution with water from the cloud, in which the Israelites were baptized, and concludes that they received baptism by sprinkling or affusion; how then could they walk on dry ground?
(5.) The last text mentioned is Hebrews 9:10 which speaks of diverse washings or baptisms of the Jews, or different dippings,as it may be rendered without any impropriety, as our author asserts; though not to be understood of different sorts of dipping, as he foolishly objects to us; nor of different sorts of washing, some by sprinkling, some by affusion, others by bathing or dipping, as he would have it; but the Jewish washings or baptisms are so called, because of the different persons, or things washed or dipped, as Grotius on the place says; there was one washing of the Priests, another of the Levites, and another of the Israelites, when they had contracted any impurity; and which was done by immersion; nor do any of the instances this writer has produced disprove it. Not Exodus 29:4 thou shalt wash them with water;but whether by immersion or affusion he knows not. The Jews interpret it of immersion; the Targum of Jonathan is, "thou shalt dip them in forty measures of living water:" nor Exodus 30:19 which mentions the washing of the priest's hands and feet at the brazen laver of the tabernacle; the manner of which our author describes from Dr. Lightfoot,out of the Rabbins;but had he transcribed the whole, it would have appeared, that not only washing the hands and feet, but bathing of their whole body, were necessary to the performance of their service; for it follows, "and none might enter into the court to do the service there, till he hath bathed; yea, though he were clean, he must bathe his body in cold water before he enter." And to this agrees a canon of theirs; "no man enters into the court for service, though clean, till he has dipped himself; the high-priest dips himself five times on the day of atonement." And the Priests and Levites, before they performed any part of the daily service, dipped themselves: nor 2 Chronicles 4:6 which says, the molten sea in Solomon's temple was for the priests to wash in;where they washed not only their hands and their feet, but their whole bodies, as Dr. Lightfoot says; "and for the bathing of which; they went down into the vessel itself; and to which agrees the Jerusalem Talmud, which says, "the molten sea was a dipping-place for the priests:" Nor Numbers 8:6, 7 which, had the passage been wholly transcribed, it would appear, that not only the water of purifying was sprinkled on the Levites, but their bodies were bathed; for it: allows: "and let them shave all their flesh, and wash their clothes, and so "make themselves clean;" that is, by bathing their whole bodies, which, as the Targum on the place says, was done in forty measures of water. Sprinkling the water of purification was a ceremony preparatory to the bathing, but was itself no part of it; and the same is to be observed of the purification by the ashes of an heifer,on the third and seventh days, Numbers 19:19 which was only preparatory to the great purification by bathing the body, and washing the clothes on the seventh day, which was the closing and finishing part of the service; for that it was the unclean person, and not the priest, that was to wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, verse 19 is clear; since it is a distinct law, or statute, from that in verse 21 which enjoins the priest to wash his clothes, but not to bathe himself in water; and indeed, the contrary sense is not only absurd, and interrupts and confounds the sense of the words; but, as Dr. Gale also observes, it cannot be reasonably imagined that the priest, by barely purifying the unclean, should need so much greater a washing and purification than the unclean himself; this sprinkling of the ashes of the heifer, therefore, was not part of the Jewish washings, or baptisms, or any exemplification of them; so that from the whole, I see no reason to depart from my conclusion, that "the words baptize and baptism,in all the places mentioned, do from their signification make dipping or plunging the necessary mode of administering the ordinance of baptism." I proceed now,
6. To vindicate those passages of scripture, which necessarily prove the mode of baptism by immersion. And, The first passage, is in Matthew 3:6 and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.We argue from hence, not merely from these persons being baptized,to their being dipped;though this is an argument that cannot be answered, seeing those that are baptized,are necessarily dipped;for the word baptize signifies always to dip,or to wash by dipping, and never to pour or sprinkle; but the argument is frill more forcible from these persons being baptized in the river Jordan:for either the persons said to be baptized were in the river, or they were not; if they were not in the river, they could not be baptized in it; if they were in it, they went in it in order to be baptized by immersion; since no other end could be proposed, agreeable to the common sense of mankind: to say they went into it to have a little water sprinkled or poured on them, which could have been done without it, is ridiculous, and an imposition on common sense; wherefore this necessarily proves the mode of baptizing by immersion; since no other mode is compatible with this circumstance. The instances of the blind man's washing in Siloam,and the layers of the temple being to wash in, as disproving the necessity of immersion, I say, are impertinent; since the word baptize is used in neither of them; and besides, there is nothing appears to the contrary, that the blind man dipped himself in Siloam,as Naaman the Syrian did in Jordan;and the things that were washed in the layers, were dipped there, since they held a quantity of water sufficient for that purpose. The author of the dialogue asks, "Do not we commonly wash our face and hands in a basin of water without dipping in it?" But common practice proves the contrary; men commonly dip their hands into a basin, when they wash either hands or face; the instance of Elisha pouring water on the hands of Elijah,doth not prove it was common to wash hands by pouring water on them; since this is not said to be done to wash his hands with; and some interpreters have thought that washing of hands is not intended, but some miracle which followed the action of pouring water, which gave Elisha a character, and by which he is described.
The second passage, is John 3:23. John was baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there.Here is not the least hint of John's choosing of this place, and being here, for any other reason, but for baptizing; not for drink for men and cattle, as suggested; besides, why did he not fix upon a place where the people could be provided with food for themselves, and provender for their cattle? Why for drink only? This is a wild fancy, a vain conjecture. The reason of the choice is plain, it was for the convenience of baptizing, and that because there was much water, suitable to the manner of baptizing used by John;and if this reason given agrees with no other mode of baptizing, but by immersion, as it does not, since sprinkling or pouring requires not much water; it follows, that this necessarily proves the mode of baptism by immersion.
The third text is Matthew 3:16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.The author of the dialogue suggested, that the Greek preposition apo, always signifies from,never out of:our author is obliged to own, that it may sometimes admit to be rendered out of:a great condescension to the learned translators of our Bible! Well, if Jesus came up out of the water, he must have been in it, where it is certain he was baptized; and the evangelist Mark says, he was baptized into Jordan; not into the banks of Jordan;but into the waters of Jordan;now seeing such an expression as this will not suit with any other mode of baptism but immersion, and it cannot be said with any propriety, that Christ was sprinkled into Jordan,or poured into Jordan,but with great propriety may be said to be dipped or plunged into Jordan;it follows, that this necessarily proves the mode of baptism as administered to our Lord, to be by immersion.
The fourth passage, is concerning Philip's baptizing the Eunuch in Acts 8:38, 39. they went down both into the water, and he baptized him; and when they were come up out of the water,etc. The dialogue writer would have it, that this proves no more than that they went down to the water, and came from it:but that this was not the case, I have observed, that previous to this, they are said to came to a certain water,to the water-side; and therefore after this, it cannot be understood of any thing else, but of their going into it; and so, consequently, the other phrase, of their coming out of it.Here our author has got a new fancy in his head; that turning to a certain water is not coming to the water-side, or to the water itself, but to the sight of it; which sense he does not pretend to confirm by any parallel place, either in sacred or profane writings, and is very absurd, improper and impertinent; since a person may come to the sight of a water, when he is at a great distance from it, and cannot be said with any propriety to be come so it: what he thinks will add strength to this fancy, and destroy the observation I made, is, that after this, the chariot is still going on, and several questions and answers passed before it was bid to stand still: all which is easily accounted for, supposing them to be come to the water itself; since the road they were now in, might be by the water-side, and so they traveled along by it, while the questions and answers passed, till they came to a proper and convenient place for baptism, at which they alighted; besides, why should the sight of a certain water, or confluence of water, put the Eunuch in mind of baptism, if it was not performed by immersion, of the mode of which he was doubtless acquainted? It is highly probable, that this treasurer was provided both with wine and water for his journey, which, mixed, was the usual drink of those countries; and a bottle of his own water would have done for sprinkling, or pouring, had either of them been the mode of baptism used; nor would there have been any occasion for going out of the chariot and to the water, and much less into it, which the text is express for; and seeing these circumstances of going down into the water, and coming up out of it, at the administration of baptism, agree with no other mode than that of immersion, not with sprinkling, nor pouring water, it necessarily proves immersion to be the mode of baptism.
The last text is Romans 6:4 we are buried with him by baptism into death;where baptism is called a burial, a burial with Christ, and a resemblance of his; which only can be made by immersion: but our author says, if it is designed to represent it, there is no necessity it should be a resemblance of it; but how it can represent it without a resemblance of it, is not easy to say: he suggests, that though the Lord's supper represents the death of Christ, it is no resemblance of it. Strange! that the breaking of the bread should not be a resemblance of the body of Christ broken, and the pouring out of the wine not a resemblance of his blood shed. Baptism by immersion, according to our author, is no resemblance of the burial of Christ; since his body was laid in a sepulcher cut out of a rock on high, and not put under ground, or covered with earth: this arises from a mistaken notion of the Jewish way of burial, even in their sepulchres, hewed out of rocks; for in every sepulcher of this kind, according to the nature of the rock, there were eight graves dug, some say thirteen, and which were dug seven cubits deep: in one of these graves, within the sepulcher, lay the body of our Lord. So that it had a double burial, as it were, one in the sepulcher, and another in one of the graves in it: besides, how otherwise could our Lord be said to be three days and nights in the heart of the earth? (Matthew 12:40). Again, our author says, "there is no more resemblance of a common burial in baptism by immersion, than by sprinkling, or pouring on water; since a corpse above ground may be properly said to be buried by having a sufficient quantity of earth cast upon it."
True; but then a corpse can never be said to be buried, that has a little dust or earth sprinkled or poured on its face; from whence it is evident, that sprinkling or pouring cannot bear any resemblance of a common burial. In short, seeing no other mode but immersion, not sprinkling, nor pouring, has any resemblance of a burial, this passage necessarily proves the mode of baptism by immersion: and yet, after all, this writer inclines to that opinion, that both modes were used in scripture-times; though it appears by all accounts that the manner was uniform, one and the same word being always used in the relation of it; and yet he wrangles at every instance of immersion, and will not allow of one; what must be said of such a man! that he must be let down for a mere wrangler; a wrangler against light and conscience; a wrangler against his own opinion and sentiment; and what a worthless writer must this be! I go on,
7. To consider the instances, which, it is said, shew it improbable that the ordinance of baptism was performed by dipping. The first is the baptism of the three thousand, Acts 2:41 which, to be done by immersion, is represented as improbable; from the shortness of the time, and the want of convenience on a sudden, for the baptizing of such a multitude. As to the time, I shall not dispute it with our author, whether Peter's sermon was at the beginning of the third hour, or nine o'clock, or at the close of it, and about noon: I am willing to allow it might be noon before the baptism of these persons came on; nay, I will grant him an hour longer if he pleases, and yet there was time enough between that and night for the twelve apostles, and seventy disciples, in all fourscore and two, to baptize by immersion three times three thousand persons. I pass over his foolish remarks on a person's being ready for baptism, as I have done many others of the same stupid kind, as deserving no notice, nor answer: As to the want of convenience for the baptizing such a number, I have observed the great number of baths in private houses in Jerusalem,the several pools in it, and the many conveniences in the temple: this writer thinks, the mention of the last is a piece of weakness in me, to imagine that the Jewish priests, in whose hands they were, the mortal enemies of Christ, should be on a sudden so good-natured as to grant the use of their baths for such a purpose: but how came they to allow the Christians the use of their temple, where they met daily? And besides, it is expressly said, they had favor with all the peop1e (Acts 2:46, 47).
The second instance, is the baptism of Paul (Acts 9:18); here only the narrative is directed to, as representing his baptism to be in the house of Judas:but there is nothing in the account that necessarily concludes it was done in the house, but rather the contrary; since he arose from the place where he was, in order to be baptized: and supposing it was done in the house, it is not at all improbable that there was a bath in this house, where it might be performed; since it was the house of a Jew, with whom it was usual to have baths to wash their whole bodies in, on certain occasions: So that there is no improbability of Paul's baptism being by immersion; besides, he was not only bid to arise and be baptized,which would found very oddly, be sprinkled or poured (Acts 22:16); but says himself, that he was buried by baptism (Rom. 6:4).
The third instance, is the baptism of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:47). The sense of the words given, "can any man forbid the use of his river, or bath,or what convenience he might have, for baptizing;" is objected to, as not being the apostle's words, but a strained sense of them: the same objection may be made to this writer's sense, that the phrase imports the forbidding water to be brought; since no such thing is expressed, or hinted at: the principal thing, no doubt, designed by the apostle, is, that no one could, or at least ought, to object to the baptism of those who had so manifestly received the holy Ghost: but what is there in all this account, that renders their baptism by immersion improbable, for which it is produced?
The fourth instance is the baptism of the Jailor and his household; (Acts 16:33) in the relation of which, there is nothing that makes it probable, much less certain, that it was performed by sprinkling or pouring water on them; nor any thing that makes it improbable that it was done by immersion: according to the account given, it seems to be a clear case, that the Jailor, upon his conversion, took the apostles out of prison into his own house, where they preached to him and his family, verse 32, and that after this, they went out of his house, and were baptized; very probably in the river without the city, where the oratory was, verse 13, for it is certain, that after the baptism of him and his household, he brought the apostles into his house, and set meat before them (Acts 16:33, 34), nor is it any unreasonable and incredible thing, that he with his whole family should leave the prison and prisoners, who no doubt had servants that he could trust, or otherwise he must have been always little better than a prisoner himself: and whether the earthquake reached any farther than the prison, to alarm others, is not certain, nor any great matter of moment in this controversy to be determined; and the circumstances of the whole relation shew it more likely, that the Jailor and his family were baptized without the prison, than in it, and rather in the river without the city, than with the water out of the vessel, with which the Jailor had washed the apostle's stripes: upon the whole, these instances produced fail of shewing the improbability of the mode of baptism by immersion; which must appear clear and manifest to every attentive reader, notwithstanding all that has been opposed unto it.
There remains nothing but what has been already attended to, or worthy of regard; but the untruth he charges me with, in saying that "the dialogue writer only attempts to mention allusive expressions in favor of sprinkling:" our author will be ashamed of himself, and his abusive language, when he looks into the dialogue again; since the writer of that never mentions the words of the institution, for any such purpose, and much less argues from them; nor does he ever shew that the word baptize is in the sacred pages applied to sprinkling, or that it so signifies; nor does he any where argue from the good appearance there is of evidence, that in the apostles times, the mode of sprinkling was used; he never attempts to prove that the word baptizw, signifies to sprinkle, or is so used; nor mentions any one instance of sprinkling in baptism; what he contends for is, that the signification of the word, and the scripture instances of baptism, do not make dipping the necessary mode of administering that ordinance; and what he mentions in favor of sprinkling,are only resemblances, and allusive expressions.
There, Sir, are the remarks I made in reading Mr. Clark's book; which I have caused to be transcribed, and here send you for the use of yourself and friends, either in a private or in a public way, as you may judge necessary and proper.
I am with all due respects, Yours, etc.
LONDON, July 26, 1753.
 Vid Irenaeum adv. Haeres, 1. 1. c. 18. and I. 4. c. 59. and 1. 5 c. 15.
 Apud Rivet. Critic. Sacr. 1, 2 c. 12. p. 202.
 Medulla Patrum, par. 1. 1. 6. c. 2. p. 124.
 Origeniana. 1. 2. p. 116. 1. 3. c. t. p. 233, 253.
 Hist. Pelag. par. 1. I. 2. p. 147.
 Hist. Eccl. vol. 2. p. 132.
 Tom. 3:tit. 5. c. 53.
 Mensalla Colloqu. C. 17. p. 254.
 Hist. par. 2.c.7, t.8.
 Remarks on the ancient churches of the Albigenses, c. 14. P. 123.
 Apud Allix's Remarks on the ancient church of Piedmont, c. 16. p. 143.
 Apud Allix's Remarks on the ancient churches of the Albigenses, c. 14. p. 130. c. 20. p. 189.
 Remarks on the ancient church of Piedmont, ch.11. p. 91, 100.
 De peccator, merit. 1. 2. c. 25.
 Ep. as Laetam. 1. 1. fol. 19.
 De Libero Arbkio, I. 2. c. 23.
 Sermon, page 5.
 Remarks on the ancient church of'Piedmont, c. 15. p. 138.
 History of the Waldenses. p. 8, 9.
 Apud Allix's Remarks on the ancient churches of the Albigenses, c. 22. p. 202.
 Ibid. p. 201.
 Apud Ailix, ibid. p. 202.
 History of the Albigenses, I. 1. c. 1. p. 1, 2.
 Ut supra, c. 14. p. 121.
 Apud Stennett, p. 81, 82.
 Baxter's answer to Blake, Sect. 39. 64.
 On Perseverance, p. 416.
 Vol. II. p. 113. 297.
 In Misnah Chagigah, c. 2. p. 7.
 Not. Miscell. 390, 397.
 De Emend. temp. I. 6. p. 271.
 Maimon. Maacolot Asurot, c. 17. 1. 3.
 Ib. Celim, c. 26.14.
 Misnah Mikvaot, c. 7. S. 7.
 Ib. S. 6.
 Misnah Yoma, c. 3. S. 3.
 Vol. I. p. 2047.
 Yoma, fol. 41. 1.
 Misnah Bava Bathra, c. 6. S. 8.