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guishes between the name of a Jew and the reality. The name was common, as that of a Syrian or an Egyptian. The reality is affirmed of one who is baptized and follows the sect. That the Greek word* means baptized, although admitting a less definite signification, appears from its being opposed to an unbaptized person:t in the case of whom there is said to be a false profession.
Sallust also, in the fifth book of his history, giving an account of the religion of the Jews, containing a strange mixture of truth and prejudice, after mention. ing circumcision as a rite among them, and saying it was conformed to by converts, adds words which will at least bear the translation, expressive of their being dipt or plunged. And that this was in the mind of the historian, appears from its being connected with the condition of their renouncing of their country and their nearest relatives: such being the extreme to which the Jews are said to have carried the qualifications of an incorporation with them.
The most plausible objection to the antiquity of such baptism, is taken from there having been no mention made of it, either by Josephus or by Philo. The former of these authors has not given an account of the worship of the synagogues, established by Nehemiah and Ezra, on the return from the captivity; which however is received as an undeniable fact, on other evidence. It would be impossible to discover from the history of Josephus, that there were synagogues at any time within his country, except from his incidental mention of a synagogue and that not often. Neither has he spoken of the distinction between the proselytes of righteousness and those of the gate: which yet, on the evidence of the Talmuds, is received by those who reject their testimony on the other subject. As to Philo, he is said to have been more occupied by the Platonick philosophy, than by the laws and the customs of his own country. The learned Dr. Cudworth says of him-" Though a Jew by nation, he was very igno• Βεβαμμενος.
+ Παραβαπτισης. Imbuuntur.
rant of Jewish customs:" and similar remarks on him are made by others. It is even objected, that nothing is found in the Apocrypha, on the subject in question. The books in which, if in any, we might expect to find it, are those of the Maccabees; because of the lateness of the times to which they belong. But they are wholly occupied by the recital of wars; no mention being made in them, of there being such places, as synagogues. In the canonical books, it cannot be reasonable to look for an account of a practice, supposed to have originated later than the times in which they were written: although after its origin, there pre. vailed the fancy of tracing the resemblances of it in very early circumstances of the Israelitish history--as in the command of Jacob to his family, recorded in Gen. xxxv. 2.
To the above texts, connecting baptism with regeneration-although not under the use of this term may be mentioned, Eph. v. 26.-" That he might cleanse it" (the Church]" with the washing of water, by the word.” Here, the word is the mean by which the divine agent is said to work; and yet, it was with “the washing of water,” as the sign accompanying the
In the lecture, there was quoted the passage in the tenth chapter of the gospel of St. Mark, beginning at the fourteenth verse; which recites our Lord's com. manding of the little children to be brought unto him, because" of such is the kingdom of God.” Every consideration which applies this to the proof of the va. lidity of the baptism of infants, seems also to prove, that they are thereby initiated into God's kingdom the Church, in a much higher sense than that of their being put into the way of instruction. But to guard against such a consequence, a forced construction is sometimes given to the Greek word translated “such:"* as if it only related to certain properties of infancy, not indicative of rectitude of mind-simplicity-free.
dom from prejudice, and the being not chargeable with sin in act: all which may consist with a re. maining necessity of conversion. But this comment is not consistent either with the letter, or with the spirit of the passage: not with the letter; because the said Greek word designates the very persons, of whom it was immediately spoken: and not with the spirit; be. cause otherwise, the words do not contain a satisfactory reason, of the rebuke addressed to the disciples.
The sense put on the passage quoted in the lecture, from 1 Cor. vii. 14-"Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy,” has been rejected in two ways. They who are dissatisfied with that sense, and yet admit infant baptism, conceive of the text as meaning no more, than that the children of believers may
be admitted to the ordinance, and to its attendant privileges. But the place presumes, that on such ad. mission, they are “saints,” in the sense in which the word is applied to believing adults. They who reject infant baptism, understand by the word no more, than that the children spoken of in the passage are legiti. mate. This is quite wide of the design of the apostle: because the separation of the husband and the wife, which is the matter discouraged by him, would not have illegitimated the children, already born in wed. lock.
Against the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, there has been supposed a formidable objection, in what is recorded of Simon the sorcerer, in the eighth chapter of the Acts. But let it be examined. On the supposition, either that he was an hypocrite in the whole of the transaction, or that, although it is said he "believed," his faith was not that which justifies, his name has been improperly introduced on the present subject. None doubt, that many adults have been the subjects of baptism, without the necessary qualifications of grace; while there was nothing in their conversation or in their demeanour, detracting from their profession of faith; or offering a ground, on which they could have been rejected by those who administered the ordinance.
But it is here conceived, that there is nothing in the narrative, on the ground of which we can affirm, that Simon was not for awhile a subject of grace. We are told that he“ believed;" without the intimation of any disqualifying circumstance in his belief. Not only so, he si continued with Philip;” who must be supposed to have interpreted what he saw of him, as indicative of a sincere conversion. It was not until the arrival of St. Peter and St. John, that Simon perceived the practicability of a conveyance of the power of working miracles. On this, his former avarice returned; as we behold, in common life, the return of bad habits of various kinds, after they had been suspended for awhile by good desires. This representation is sustained by what follows. For although St. Peter says—“I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity;" yet he implies the admission of there having been religious sensibility in the past, when he expresses himself thus" Repent of this thy wicked. ness, if perhaps the thought of thine heart” —that sin, gle thought, although doubtless not independently on the state of mind suggesting it" may be forgiven thee.” And further, when the offender replies—“Pray ye to the Lord for me,” it seems to show, that how. ever nature and sinful habit had in a single act overcome grace, this was not entirely and irrecoverably lost. Neither the character which this man had assumed before his conversion, nor the evil actions which eccle. siastical history charges on him after his relapse, are inconsistent with the view of the subject here taken. Many a man, after vacillating between virtue and vice, has settled down in the latter, in consequence of the detection of his faults; and the indignation which rises in his mind, against those who have been privy to them; and by whom he despairs of their being forgotten.
The position having been maintained, that the only places in which regeneration is mentioned connect it with the ordinance of baptism; there ought not to be overlooked, that the deniers of this doctrine contend for
there being the sense of the said metaphor, in other metaphors of the New Testament. One place brought to this effect, is where we are said to be “ begotten again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."* This, it is here conceived, has no reference either to outward washing, or to an inward change. The resurrection of Christ is a ground of hope to us, no otherwise than as it is a pledge of our own resurrection to eternal life. It is held on both sides, that we became subject to death in Adam. And the strong figure of being again begotten to a lively hope (or hope of life] amounts to the same as its being said, that having died in Adam, we shall be made alive in Christ.
St. John says-“ Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.”+ The metaphor is repeated several times by the same apostle; and this is said to mean the same with regeneration. They are certainly not the same, as to the present question; which relates, not to the Christian character generally, but to the operation whereby it is begun. It is held on both sides, that whatever there may be of holiness in man, is not from nature, but
to use the words of the Tenth Article of this Church--from “ the grace of God by Christ, preventing” (or going before] “us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.” Although such spiritual good may be fitly called a heavenly birth, yet this has no bearing on the question, whether it may not be considered as taking place in a transaction, wherein the aids of the Holy Spirit are covenanted to the party, whether infant or adult. The maintainers of the present doctrine have great reason to lament, that they should be misunderstood by their cpponents, as denying either the necessity of inward holiness, or the source from which alone it can proceed.
The doctrine of this dissertation being directly opposed to the opinion, that the subjects of infant
• 1 Pet, i. 3.
+ i. 3, 9.