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openly, that they do devote their children to God according to all the power or duty which they can find communicated or laid upon them in the Word of God; and that if they believed that God would accept them into his covenant upon their dedication, they would willingly do it. And that actually they do offer them to God according to their power, and promise to bring them up in his way. And who can force men's wills to choose aright for themselves or others?
Quest, Xlix. May one offer his child to be baptized, with the sign of the cross, or the use of chrism, the white garment, milk and honey, or exorcism, as among the Lutherans, who taketh these to be unlawful things?
Answ. I am not now to meddle with the question, Whether they be lawful; but to this question I answer, 1. He that judgeth them unlawful, must first do his best to be certain whether they be soor not.
2: If so, he must never approve of them, or consent to them. 3. He must not offer his child to be so baptized, when 'caeteris paribus,' he may have it done in a better manner on lawful terms. 4. But when he cannot lawfully have better, he may and must offer his child, to them that will so baptize him, rather than to worse, or not at all; because baptism is God's ordinance and his privilege, and the sin is the minister's and not his. Another man's sinful mode will not justify the neglect of our duty; else we might not join in any prayer or sacrament in which the minister modally sinneth; that is, with none. 5. The milk and honey, white garment and chrism, are so ancient (called by Epiphanius and others, the traditions and customs of the universal church) that the original of them is not known. And he that then would not be so baptized, must not have been baptized at all. 6. But in this case he that bringeth his child to baptism, should make known, that it is baptism only that he desireth, and that he disowneth and disalloweth the manner which he accounteth sinful: and then he is no consentei to it.
7. But where law, scandal, or greater inconveniences forbid him, he is not to make this profession openly in the congregation, but in that prudent manner which beseemeth a sober, peaceable person; whether to the minister in private, or to his neighbours in converse: it being easy among neighbours to make known a man's dissent, without a disorderly troubling of the church, or violating the laws of obedience, civility and peace. 8. But he must not, (1.) Either offer his child to baptism, where the ordinance is essentially corrupted, or worse than none. (2.) Or where he cannot be admitted without an actual sin of his own; as by false professions, subscriptions, &c. For we must not do evil for good ends.
Quest, L. Whence came the ancient, universal custom of anointing at baptism, and putting on a white garment, and tasting milk and honey? And whether they are lawful to us?Answ. 1. We must remember that the signification of these was not by a new institution of their's, but by former custom of the countries where they lived''. As (1.) Anointing in Judea was like bathing at Rome: it was taken in those scorching countries for a wholesome, and easing, and comforting thing; and therefore used to refresh the weary limbs of travellers, and to comfort the sick. (2.) And it was the long accustomed ceremony also used on officers accounted sacred, kings and priests, who were anointed at their entrance and investiture. (3.) White cloathing and purple were then and there taken for the noblest attire': not appropriated to sacred things and persons; but as scarlet lately in England, the garb only of great men. On which account, not as a sacred vestment, but as an honourable cloathing, when the bishops began to be advanced, they were allowed to wear white cloathing, not only when they officiated, but at other times. (4.) The milk and honey were there highly esteemed for food, and accounted the character of the land of promisek.
h Psal. xxiii. 5. xcii. 10. Luke vii. 46. Matt. vi. 17. Amos vi. <;. Psal. Ixxxix. to. Lev. xvi. 32. Luke xvi. 1 Rev. iii. 4, S. "They shall walk with me in white." k James v. 14. Mark vi. IS.
2. Hereupon by application the churches used these signs in the sacred ordinance of baptism: not by new institution of the signification, I say, but by application of the old well known signification. 3. As natural signs are commonly allowed to be applied to holy things, so signs whose signification is of old and commonly stated and well known by agreement or custom, do seem in this not to be different from natural signs. Such are all words, as signs of our minds; no word signifying any thing naturally, but by agreement or custom only. And such is kneeling in prayer, and being uncovered, and many the like: about some of which Paul appealeth to the custom of the churches of God. 4. It is most probable that these two things together brought in anointing; (1.) The common use of anointing then, in both the foresaid cases, (common refreshment and sacred investiture). (2.) And the mistake of all those Scripture texts, which command or mention anointing metaphorical; as 1 John ii. 27. "The anointing which you have received teacheth you all things." Ezek. xvi. 9. "I washed thee, I anointed thee with oil," &c. Psal. cv. 15. 1 Chron. xvi. 22. "Touch not mine anointed." Rev. iii. 18. And withal reading that we are made kings and priests to God, and a royal priesthood, they thought this might be signified by the usual honorary signs of such, as well as by words to be called such. So that they took it as if in our age, the baptized should be set in a chair of state, and sumptuously apparelled, and a feast made to solemnize it, as they do at weddings, and the baptized person set at the upper end, &c., which are significant actions and ceremonies; but they intended them not as new sacraments, or any part of the sacraments, but as a pompous celebration of the sacrament by such additional ceremonial accidents. 5. And you must remember that they lived among infidels, where their profession was made the common scorn, which tempted them by such ostentation and pomp to seek to make it honourable, and to show that they so accounted it, and to encourage those who were discouraged by the scorn. On which account also they used the cross, and the memorials of the martyrs. 6. Yet some, yea, many afterwards did seem to take the anointing for a sacramental action. When they read that the laying on of hands was the sign of giving the Holy Ghost, as distinct from baptism, and that the Spirit is called in Scripture the anointing, they joined both together, and made that which they now call the sacrament of confirmation. 7. Whether the anointing, milk and honey, and the white garment, were then sinful in themselves to the users, I determine not. But certainly they proved very ill by accident, whilst at this door those numerous and unlawful ceremonies have entered, which have so troubled the churches, and corrupted religion; and among the Papists, Greeks, Armenians, Abassines, and many others, have made the sauce to become the meat, and the lace to go for clothing, and turned too much of God's worship into imagery, shadows, and pompous shews.
Quest, Li. Whether it be necessary that they that are baptized in infancy, do solemnly at age renew and own their baptismal covenant, before they have right to the state and privileges of adult members? And if they do not, whether they are to be numbered with Christians or apostates?Answ. 1. Church-membership is the same thing in infants and in the adult. 2. Infants are naturally incapable of doing all that in baptism which the adult must do: as to understand, profess, &c. themselves. 3. The baptism of the adult, being the most complete, because of the maturity of the receivers, is made the stand ing pattern in Scripture: for God formeth his ordinances to the most perfect ordinary receivers. 4. Though an infant be devoted acceptably to God by his parent's will, yet when he is at age, it must be done by his own will. 5. Therefore a bare infant title ceaseth when we come to age, and the person's title ceaseth, unless it be renewed by himself, or his own consent. The reason is, because the conditions of his infant title then cease: for his parent's will, shall go for his no longer. 6. Regularly and 'ad bene esse' the transition out of
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the state of infant-membership into the state of adult-membership should be very solemn; and by an understanding, personal owning of the baptismal covenant'.
7. There needeth no other proof of this, than, 1. That God in Scripture never gave adult persons title to his covenant, but by their own personal consent; and at the first institution of baptism, both went together, (personal profession and baptism) because the receivers were adult. 2. And that infants are capable of baptism, but not of personal profession. 3. Therefore though they are not to repeat baptism, which was done before, yet they are bound to make that profession at age which they never made before. 8. Where this solemn owning of their covenant cannot be had (by reason of church corruptions, and magistrate's prohibition) there the person's ordinary joining with the church, in the public profession and worship, is to betaken for an owning it. 9. He that being baptized in infancy, doth no way at full age own his baptismal covenant, is to be taken for an apostate. 1. Because his infant title ceaseth. 2. And he notoriously violateth his covenant. 3. Because he can be no adult Christian that no way owneth Christ. 10. But this is to be understood of those that have opportunity; for one in a wilderness among heathens only, cannot join in public worship, nor give testimony of his Christianity to the church. 11. Though the sacrament of the Lord's supper be appointed for the renewing of our covenant at age, yet is it not the first owning of the covenant, by the aged; for that sacrament belongeth neither to infants nor infidels; and he that claimeth it, must be an adult church-member or Christian; which those are not, who at full age no way ever owned their baptismal covenant, nor made any personal profession of Christianity. But of this I have written purposely in a " Treatise of Confirmation" long ago.
Quest, Lii. Whether the universal church consist only of particular churches and their members?
1 See the proofs of all in my "Treatise of Confirmation."