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MATTHEW xxviii. 19.
GO YE THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN
THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.
THESE are the words of Christ to his apostles. He now gives them a special commission—a commission to enlarge his fold, and mark his flock-to increase the number of his disciples, and to apply the mark of discipleship—to put the token of the covenant upon those who are in covenant with God—to proselyte all nations to his religion, and baptize the proselytes. He commissions them to go forth as missionaries of the cross, to teach, and baptize all nations.
The word, here rendered teach, is different from the one rendered teaching, in the next verse, and means to proselyte,* to disciple.
Go ye therefore and proselyte, disciple, all nations, baptizing them. Baptism is the token or seal of God's coyenant with his church. The covenant is God's gracious plant which he pursues in blessing and saving men.
* The Greek word here used is matheteusate; see it explained by the following commentators. Dr. Doddridge, “ Proselyte all the nations of the earth.” Dr. Scott, “Make disciples of all nations." Smith,“ Proselyte, disciple.”.
+ By covenant, in a scriptural sense, and as I use it in this discourse, I understand, God's established constitution, plan, or promise. He con: promised Noah, that there should not be another flood to destroy
. Gen. ix.
troy 9the earth. This promise is called God's covenant, and is said to be between him and every living creature. He also promised to
* be a God to Abraham and his seed. This promise is also called God's covenant, and surely, it may refer to infants as well as the one established with Noah, which referred to every living creature. And the idea of a mutual compact, is not implied in one case, more than in the other, except as obligation is concerned. We see that God can and does make his covenant or promise so as to include those who at the time are not capable of being a party in the transaction, or of having any agency in it, Mankind, also, act on the same principle, in their temporal concerns.
. But to whom is the seal, or token of the covenant, to be applied ? Did the Saviour leave his disciples in darkness or in doubt on this important subject ? Surely he did not-but he knew well the instruction they needed, and gave them none that was unnecessary. He well knew their advantages for understanding him, when he gave them their commission to baptize. And no thought is suggested, that they were at any loss to know whom to baptize. They were in no doubt, it appears, to whom the token of the covenant belonged, or to whom it should be applied—whether to adults only, or to infants also. And, if there was no room for doubt, it must have been a very plain case.
It must have been very plain, that all the disciples of Christ—all who gave credible evidence of religion, or were proselyted to his religion, should be baptized. Even so my beloved Baptist brethren will say. In this we are happily united, and can go hand in hand, and heart with heart, as the disciples of Christ always should. But one step farther and we must part a little; but we will part as brethren, offering no abuse, but loving each other with a pure heart fervently—praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and preferring it to our chief joy, till the watchmen of Zion shall lift up the voice and sing together, when they “ shall see eye to eye.”
The parting point is this-From my text and the circumstances in which it was spoken, I find occasion to state
This doctrine, namely
It clearly appears, that it must have been very plain to the apostles, and may be very plain to us, that baptism, the token of God's gracious covenant, should be applied to the infants of believing covenanting parents.
As, this doctrine appears very plain and important to me, it will be my object in this discourse to make it appear so to others. But I will be careful to speak the words of truth and soberness, and to speak them in lovein love to Christ and his cause, and all who love him, and with a tender concern for those who do not.
If you would see how this appears plain, consider candidly and prayerfully, the passages of Holy Scripture
quoted and referred to in this discourse. Consider, also, the following arguments.
1. The text does not exclude infants from baptism.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
To shew that this passage does not exclude infants from baptism by the use of the word teach, I remark,
The form of expression, used in the text, is agreeable to language in scripture use, and common use, which does not exclude infants.
It is agreeable to the use of scripture language.
The apostle Paul says; “ This we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he 2 Thes. eat." By this passage, the apostle did not in- iii. 10. tend to exclude infants from food. Neither did he mean to exclude the sick, or the aged, or the infirm, from food, and confine the privilege of eating to those who are capable of working. So the text does not exclude infants from baptism, and confine it to those who are capable of being taught.
Take another passage,—“He that believeth Mark not shall be damned. Does this exclude in- xvi. 16. fants from salvation, and confine it to those who are able to exercise faith? Can no infants be saved? This passage, certainly, excludes infants from salvation, as much as the text does from baptism. For infants are as capable of being taught, as they are of exercising that faith which comes by teaching. “Faith cometh Romans by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” x. 17. Persons must hear and be taught before they can believe. What shall we say then to the passage, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Shall we say that it excludes all infants from salvation ? or shall we not rather say, it refers to those who are capable of being taught; and exercising faith, and excludes no others Luke from salvation. So the text does not exclude infants from baptism. See other passages also. xvii. 30.
The form of expression, used in the text, is also agreeable to common use.
Ministers often preach the Gospel in the house of God, and in private houses, and teach their hearers the way of
salvation. And if there is one, or if there are even ten children present, who are not able to understand the Gospel, and learn the way to heaven, by human instruction ; still, they say, that they preached the Gospel to all the assembly, and to all that were in the house and they speak properly, and others think they do. Such a method of speaking is common, and considered proper. But they do not mean by this, that there were no infants in the assembly.
We see then that the form of expression used in the text, is scriptural, common, and proper ; even when such a form is not directed against infants, or designed to set them aside. Neither is the text directed against infants, nor designed to set them aside from baptism. But let us pursue this point a little farther, and look at the order of the words. Some contend that children must be taught, because the word teach, in the text, comes before the word baptizing. And they argue in the same way from the passage, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Because the word believeth, here, comes before baptized, therefore, they say, children must believe before they are baptized. But I answer, there are passages in which baptism is spoken of before being born of the Spirit, and having a new heart. This is the case in John iii. 5; “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Ezekiel xxxvi. 25, 26; “ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean-a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” But these passages do not prove that persons must be baptized before they are born of the Spirit, or before they have a new heart.
I answer again. The Scriptures do not always mention things just in the order in which they are to take place, or in which they have taken place. Moses, in speaking of the children of Israel passing through the sea, Exodus says, “ The Lord made the sea dry land and xiv. 21. the waters were divided.” Here he speaks of the sea being made dry land, before he mentions that the waters were divided.
I answer once more. The practice of infant baptism is perfectly consistent with the passage, “ He that believ