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We are not, on this ground, impeachable with solemn transactions, of the nature and import of which we are in the dark. I do not blame a man forhisnotwell understanding the import and profit of Infant Baptism upon our author's ground; it is an impossibility. Neither are we, on this longproved and well known ground, impeachable with profaning the name of the Lord, by placing it upon them who are not his.....of putting the mark of his people upon them who belong visibly to the kingdom of Satan.....of attaching the signs and seals of the privileges and blessings of the covenant, where there exists no title to them, and of confounding the important distinction between the two kingdoms, that of Christ, and that of this world, by bringing forward a class of people as somehow related to both.
We have here a source of consolation, exclu-. sive of our own righteousness, knowing that God abideth faithful, and that what hehas promised he is able also to perform.....And knowing that in Christ. our Head, he has given to us, and to our children richly all things to enjoy; we may hold, with all our house, a joyful feast unto the Lord. Blessed be the Lord our God! In bringing us up out of Egypt, he has not separated us from our children; he has not left them behind under the power of the cruel tyrant. In this tender point of his care, the Angel of the Covenant has proved his truth and his kindness. We see them, with ourselves, covered by the sprinkling cloud, and guarded by the fiery wall; we behold them in the camp of Israel, dwelling with us in the tents of Shem, and heirs with ourselves of the same promises, the same privileges, and the same blessings.
On the contrary, the scheme of our author is all jumble; it is adverse to the Scriptures; it strikes at the life of all our gospel hopes, by placing ourselves and our children, personally
and individually, in regard to the promises, distinct from Christ, and therefore leaving our title to them dependent upon our faith and
fidility; as far as it has influence, its weight lies in the Bap tist scale; for there is scarcely a point maintained by their ablest writers, but is given up to them in these discourses; it leaves us without consolation relative to our children, for we must view them, not as being Christ's charge, but as our own; Christ has not taken them, for they are not believers; he has not blessed them, for none but believers are intitled to his blessings; we are not allowed, by our author, to view our infants as being Christ's ; we are not allowed to view them as Abraham's seed, and, therefore, as heirs according to the promise ; but we must view them as without God, and without Christ, in the covenant sense; and, with the rest of the world, in the bond of sin, and gall of condemnation.
Upon the whole, I am constrained to say, that my author has proposed to me a very hard bargain ; for God's covenant, confirmed by his word and oath, and sealed with his own blood, I must take up with a proposal; my standing, and that of my children with me, in union with Christ, I must exchange for a personal and individual standing; the absolute promises of God, through the righteousness of my Saviour, intitling me and mine to the privileges and blessings of Abrahain, of Isaac, and of Jacob, I must relinquish for promises made upon the ground of my own faith and uprightness; and to which I shall have a title when I have complied with conditions, such as have never yet been performed by any mere man on earth; and for all this infinite loss I to be compensated with the privilege of baptizing my children, which uponour author's ground, after crying it up with all his skill, does not appear to be worth a single farthing.
Though, till very lately, it has been universally maintained, that baptized children have a standing in the church, on one and the same ground with their parents; yet, for a long time, the general practice of the church has been at variance with this profession. This circumstance, by many; has been greatly lamented, and, at different periods has produced strong exertions for reformation in our practice, to render it, in this respect, consistent with our profession.
In several parts of our country an attempt was made, but a few years ago, by a number of very able men, to reform the state of our churches in relation to their baptized children..... This took place, from a deep conviction, that their practice was not only inconsistent with their profesa sion, but also, that it put at awful hazard those dearest interests in the covenant, which the baptism of their children respected.
The Baptists, who, till lately, had been but a small sect, were seen to be rapidly increasing; they were heard to reply to all our argumente in the manner the most effectual to stop the mouth, by pointing to our own practice; and it was clearly perceived, that they were never to be convinced by our arguments, whilst, by our practice, we threw such a stumbling block before Them..... It was known, indeed, that some few among us had, in this respect, practised irreprova: bly; but their influence had been nearly lost in the wide wastes of general declension.
In what manner our inconsistent practice was improved against us, may be seen in a letter of the Rev. Mr. Foster, late of New-York, to the Rev. Mr. Fish ......Mr. Foster says, “ Besides, if
baptized infants belong to the Gospel Church,
why are they not treated and considered as “ members of the church? Why do you not ad« minister what are called the seals and cen
* gures of the church unto them, in consequence “of their admission, as occasion requires? If
they are to be received to baptism, why not to " the Lord's Supper, which you call the other " seal of the church? Why do you halve the mat
ter, and put asunder what God has joined to
gether? When they come to years of discretion, "as brethren of the same church, why do you
not reprove, rebuke and exhort them; and, in
or excommunicate thein? In words you pro“ fess them to be members of the church, but in * works you deny it. In the name of God, by
baptism, you profess to receive them into the “church; but in almost all your churches, after“wards, you treat them as heathens and publi. “cans! For the honour of religion, desist, sir,
for the future, from such solemn triffling, and “do not baptize your infants, until you come to a determination to act more consistently!”
Rev. John Cleaveland, late pastor in Ipswich, in the close of his dissertation in defence of infant baptism, introduces the above in this manner. "As reformation in the churches is great“ ly wanted, as to church watch and disci
pline, especially relative to such members as “ never have come up, or been admitted to full
communion in the church; and as attempts
are making in some of our churches, for a rea “ formation in this respect, I will, with a view "to rouse our attention to this matter, more ge“nerally, transcribe a paragraph from Mr. Fos“ ter's letter to Mr. Fish.” Under which graph, he makes this remark, “ Mr. Foster's ob
servations here, are, in general, just.”
They who laboured thus for reformation, drew their arguments from the acknowledged grounds on which our children are baptized, viz. the principles of the covenant made with Abraham
as respecting the state of a proper family, society, &c. and the actual standing of the children of the church in the former dispensation.
It was expected from the beginning, that obstacles would arise to the desired reformation, which would require strenuous exertions to overcome. Rev. Mr. Lewis, of New-York state, in a very impressive publication, embracing this object, remarked, that “ the want of light in the “ churches is one impediment, but the want of “ love and zeal for the glory of God is a greater." Mr. Cleaveland, in his Address “ to the Church“es in this Land, which hold to Infant Member
ship, Infant Baptism," &c. says, “ And as all “such are members of the visible church, who “have been baptized; baptized infants, children,
youth, &c. are under the special watch and government of the church. This will bring upon churches, officers, a great burden of duty; for they must take heed to themselves, and to all “ the flock, over mhich the Holy Ghost has made “ them overseers, to feed the Church of God.”
The first opposition which publicly met this good work, was a clamour, that the Church was in danger, from an attempt to introduce into it graceless, unconverted people. To this it was replied, that as to our children, we have nothing to do in bringing them into the church; they were born in God's house; they are brought into this relation by virtue of the promise made to Abraham, that in his seed Gentile families should be blessed; which God has fulfilled, in sending to us, by his Son, the Gospel of his Kingdom; and we have nothing to do with this matter, but to rejoice in the free and sovereign mercy of God, and to go on ourselves, and to lead them on, in the ways of his tabernacle. And as to the character of our children, as being graceless, it was answered, that we did not undertake, in any case,