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is in Christ Jesus."* The Greek wordt comprehends the earliest stage of infancy, coming within the circumstances of the case. Therefore, from the first dawnings of the light of Christian knowledge on the intellect of Timothy, he was susceptible of its saving influence; not to the effect of his conversion to the faith, but to that of governing his heart and life agreeably to it. Such an address would be inconsistently made to one who had no interest in the Christian covenant, until his judgment had grown to a degree of maturity, adequate to the determining on its merits, in all their relations and their dependencies.
St. John, in his first epistle, addresses in succession ..." little children,” “
young men,” and “ fathers.” Now however lax the use of the word "children"... as where our Lord asked his disciples, “Children, have ye any meat?”-a license, common perhaps to all languages; yet in the place now quoted, the marked di. versity of time of life is evidence, that the little children were not indeed babes, but of so early an age, as to have received Christian instruction, in the form in which it had been delivered to them by their seniors.
In the epistle to the Ephesians there is the instruction -"Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” On the ground of the opposite opinion, the instruction should have been addressed to those children, who being born of Christian parents, and being of mature years, had been initiated into the Church by their own consents and acts. It will hardly be doubted, that the precept was addressed to the children of Christian parents generally. But by what right, unless it were that grounded on their Christian character, did the apostle consider them as the subjects of his authoritative call; especially with the addition" in the Lord?” implying, that they were in subjection to the Lord Christ: which, it is said, they could not be but by their own consent; given at a time of life, competent to the judging of the consequences of such an act.
2 iii. 15.
s vi. 1.
# ii. 12, 13, 14. ху
Some of the epistles were written at periods of above thirty years, after the gathering of the Churches to which they are respectively addressed. Within that tract of time, there must have been many grown up to maturity; who had not been in existence, when their parents were converted to the Christian faith. Yet there is not any where an intimation of so important a difference of character, generally prevailing in the same families. Nothing could have been more natural than an intimation to parents, to use their best endeavours for the bringing of their children within the fold. But no such lesson is given: whatever relates to children being evidently accommodated to the idea, of their be. ing already of the number of the recognized members of the Church.
Whatever may be urged from scripture of the tendency of the passages above stated; they are continually met by the objection, that infants are incapable of faith, and therefore incapable also of being interested in the Christian covenant. And in support of this sentiment, there never fails to be mentioned the divine commission, as it stands in St. Mark—“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned."*
On this text and the argument built on it, the following remarks occur.
First: The commission being more amplified in St. Matthew; it is proper to make this, and not the account in St. Mark, the standard of our conceptions as to its extent.
Secondly: The resulting argument on the other side proves, if any thing, too much. Unless the words be considered as confined to persons capable of exercising faith; it will follow, not only that infants cannot be baptized, but also that they cannot be saved. This is here supposed to be a consequence, not contended for or admitted; and therefore is an insurmountable objection to the theory.
Thirdly: And what is principally to be insisted on, the persons to whom there was addressed the commission, taken as it is either in St. Matthew or in St. Mark, would naturally, and from the influence of habits of thinking prevailing in their country and sanctioned by their religion, consider the introduction of parents to the Christian covenant, as carrying with it the right of their children to be partakers of that benefit. These points were associated under the Jewish economy, and would therefore be presumed to be thus continued, unless the contrary were expressed. And it is a consideration to be taken in, that had such a severance been understood, no one can account for its not becoming a stumbling block to the entering into a new covenant, so much less beneficent than the old one in this particular. St. Paul had on his hands the task of counteracting many of the Jewish prejudices, sticking close to Christian converts from among the Jews. But he has never adverted to this point; on which they would have had more to say for themselves, than in respect to any of the elements, under which they were desirous of being kept in bondage.
The only expedient for the evading of the force of this argument, has been to deny that any spiritual privilege was involved in the Abrahamick covenant: which, it is alleged, respected merely the inheritance of the promised land, with the temporal benefits attached to it. Here is the hinge, on which the present branch of the controversy turns. For if the promises of God to Abraham respected spiritual as well as temporal mercies; and if infants might be parties to a covenant, in which there was a stipulation of the former; it will undeniably follow, that in the case of incapacity for this under the Christian covenant, the disqualification must consist in some other circumstance than that of infan. cy; or an inability to promise and to believe.
When it was said to Abraham-“I will establish my covenant between me, and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee;"* it is a low sense to be annexed to the words, to conceive of all the subjects of such a covenant, as aliens from the divine favour in any respect, further than as they may be made so by their own wicked works. If there could be any reasonable doubt of this; it might be removed by the promise soon afterwards engrafted on the same covenant"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed:”+ words confessedly referring to the Messiah, in whom both Jews and Gentiles were to have an interest. There is a plain comment on this covenant, in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. The apostle speaks of Isaac and Jacob as “ heirs with Abraham of the same promise: "I that is, what he had received in person, had become their property by inheritance. Was this of temporal benefit only? certainly not: for the apostle goes on to say of those patriarchs, and of others celebrated before“ They died in faith, not having received the promises”--that is, the fulfilment of them-"but having seen them afar off,” in this respect. And lest the distant prospect of good should still be construed to bave for its end the earthly Canaan; it is further added concerning the characters discoursed of—“confessing themselves strangers and pilgrims on earth they desired a better country, that is an heavenly." "In the remainder of the chapter, other worthies are introduced; all as partakers of the promise to Abraham their ancestor. And in the conclusion of the chapter, it is said—“these all having obtained a good report through faith, receive ed not the” (fulfilment of the] "promise;" God having provided "some better thing for us, that they without us, should not be made perfect.” Here is a perfecting of the promise, in the better enjoyment of the completion of it: so that whatever benefits are involved in the Christian dispensation, are nothing more than the matter which the prior promise that of the Abrahamick covenant-had respect to.
The token of the said covenant was circum. cision. But St. Paul remarks, that this was “ the seal of the righteousness of the faith which he” (Abraham) “had, being yet uncircumcised.” And that the apostles perceived spiritual benefit in the promise, is evident: because contemplating it as prior to and broader than the law, he makes Abraham “ the father of them that believe, though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also.” This would have been foreign to the subject of the apostle; had the promise of God, the faith of Abraham, and the circumcision which was the seal of its righteousness, looked no further than to mere temporal blessings.
In Ephes. ii. 12, we find the Gentile brethren addressed as follows—“At that time”-meaning before their conversion-"ye were *** aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise:” And it is added afterwards“Ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” There are evidently contemplated two covenants of promise the original Abrahamick covenant, to which the Mosaick was an addition, confessedly peculiar to the people of Israel; and the Christian. If the former respected merely temporal benefit, the Gentile believers had no interest in it after their conversion, any more than before this event: which renders the address of the apostle inapplicable to their condi. tion. It is added in the next verse-"He" (Christ) is our peace, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." In the sense of the enjoyment of temporal privileges, and especially the possession of the promised land, the wall was not then broken down, nor is it at this day: there re. maining promises to be fulfilled in favour of the Jews, and peculiar to them.
On the ground of the system here contradicted, the whole of the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is unintelligible. The attention shall be