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I hope I may address many readers, as persons whose faith is established on the subject of this Essay. I shall be allowed by all parties to rejoice in the agreement of such with myself, in views, which I believe to be true, and comfortable, and of great practical
tended to any controversies concerning church government, or any kindred subjects. I found myself a minister of the Establish. ment; and, as I saw no sufficient reason to relinquish my station, I was satisfied that it was my duty to retain it. But, soon after, the controversy concerning Baptism, “whether it should be administered to infants, or only to adults professing faith," fell in my way: and, for some time, I was almost ready to conclude, that the Antipædobaptists were right. This gave me great uneasiness : not because I was solicitous whether, in the search after truth, I were led among them or elsewhere; but because I feared being misled ; and deprecated following my publication with a further and needless change, which might bring discredit upon it. Many, very many prayers, accompanied with tears, did I pour out on this subject. I read books on both sides of the question, but received no satisfaction. I became even afraid of administering Baptism or the Lord's Supper. But I said to myself, He that believeth shall not make haste : I must retain station, till I have taken time to examine the subject fully; and I must in the mean time do what retaining that station requires ? It is remarkable, that in this instance alone, my wife appeared greatly distressed, in the prospect of my changing my sentiments.-At length I laid aside all controversial writings, and determined to seek satisfaction on this question, as I had on others, by searching the scriptures and prayer. I was no less time than three quarters of a year engaged in this investigation, before I came to a conclusion : but I was then so fully satisfied that the infant children of believers, and of all who make a credible profession of faith, are the proper subjects of Baptism, that I have never since been much troubled about it.
“ This was my conclusion, especially from the identity of the covenant made with Abraham, and that still made with believers;
utility; in the domestic circle; in church fellowship in recommending the gospel to the world around; and in transmitting its life and blessedness to future generations. Christian parents, give thanks to God for the Baptism of your families. Christian children,
and from circumcision being the sacrament of regeneration under the old dispensation, as Baptism is under the new, and the seal of the righteousness of faith. - Abraham received this seal long after he believed; Isaac, when an infant; Ishmael, when thirteen years of age. The men of Abraham's household, and Esau, though uninterested in the promises concerning Canaan, yet as a part of Abraham's family, and of the visible church, were circumcised by the command of God himself. The circumcision of infants was enjoined, with denunciations of wrath against those who neglected it. The apostles were Israelites, accustomed to this system. Adult Gentiles were admitted among the Jews by circumcision, and their male children were circumcised also. In Christ, there is neither male nor female.—Had only adults been designed to be the subjects of christian baptism; some prohibition of admitting infants would have been requisite: and we should never have read, as we do, of households being baptized, without any limitation or exception of this kind being intimated.-In short, unless it can be proved that circumcision was not the sign, or sacrament, of regeneration, even as baptism now is, I cannot see how the argument can be answered ; and all the common objections against infant baptism, as administered to subjects incapable 'of the profession required and the benefits intended, bear with equal force against infant circumcision.
“ The conclusion, thus drawn, rests not on this one ground alone : collateral proof was not, and is not overlooked: but my idea always was, that not the privilege of the infant, but the duty of the parents, is the grand thing to be ascertained : and this clears away much extraneous matter from the argument.”
Life of the Rev. Thomas Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford, pub. lished by his Son, the Rev. John Scott, P. 164.
give thanks to God for the Baptism of your infancy. Christian pastors, remember with daily solicitude the little ones whom you have baptized in the name of the Lord. Let them be dearly beloved, and longed for; and, in this life, or in the next, you may see that they have been made your joy and crown. Confine not your prayers for them to the occasion of their Baptism. In every address, whether in private or public, endeavour to suit yourselves to the first opening of their minds. Forget them not in dispensing the Lord's Supper, that ordinance which is not dispensed to a believer and his house. Tell them the meaning of that service, and invite them, by the symbols of his love, to taste and see that the Lord is good. Warn them of the consequence of neglecting the great salvation. On the other hand, encourage and attract them, by the condescension of their Father in heaven, as shown to infants, in circumcision of old, and now in Baptism. Tell them that although it is in itself an ordinance of little display, and not to be repeated; it exhibits and confirms the renewing of the Holy Spirit, sent forth by the Father, in the name of his Son, to abide for ever in the hearts of his people.
Let no man trust in the observance of ordinances for the salvation of his own soul, or of the souls of others. Many desire to have their children baptized, that they may not be reproached in the world as pagans, who show no desire that either themselves or their children should obtain mercy of the Lord, or live in his fear and service. We intreat such to consider, that the doctrine of scripture is, « Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” Acts xvi. 31. Many also are disposed to think themselves Christians, because they were baptized in their infancy, and have received what is commonly called a Christian education. Had you received the love of the truth that you might be saved ; and were you now cleaving with purpose of heart to the Lord, we should rejoice in your Baptism as verified to you, in your actual enjoyment of spiritual blessings. But if you imagine that any ordinance can operate as a charm, and be relied on as a ground of hope to the exclusion of the Saviour, you are altogether strangers to the very meaning of Christianity. Children, taught of God, shall never suffer for the sins of their parents; and, therefore, their comfort need not depend on the motives from which their Baptism was originally dispensed. On the other
. hand, unless the children even of believing parents shall come,
in the event of their arriving at years capable of it, to embrace the faith of Christ themselves, they have no privilege of their own; for, in no case, can men become sons of God from carnal descent. If, like Ishmael, they rise to mock or persecute those that are born after the Spirit, or be profane persons, as Esau, who, for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright, they must be cast out of the family of Abraham and of God.* 'The privilege of their parents in having had them baptized in their infancy, cannot, in this case, be of any service to them. What is said
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+ See Gen. xxi. 9. Gal. iv. 28–31. Heb. xii. 16.
of circumcision and the law, may be justly applied to Baptism and the gospel. “Circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision," Rom. ii. 25.
It is most consoling, however, to be assured that whatever be the case of individuals who reject the counsel of God against themselves, the work of God shall flourish, according to his faithful promises, from generation to generation. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever,” Ps. xlv. 16, 17. “ And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inbabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble: for they are THE SEED OF THE BLESSED OF THE LORD, AND THEIR OFFSPRING WITH THEM," Isa. lxy. 21-23.