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birth-right of inestimable value, which foolishly and sinfully he bartered away. If Esau had not possessed an interest in the blessing of the covenant, he could not have sold it, and Jacob could not have supplanted him and enriched himself by the purchase.....It may be objected, that this matter between Esau and Jacob respected merely the right of ascendancy which naturally belongs to an elder brother; but this cannot be admitted, for such a natural right cannot be sold or bought; Jacob never refused that natural honor to Esau, but afterwards called him his Lord, and he and his household bowed before him.....It is apparent that this birth-right intended nothing less than that peculiar glory of the covenant-relation, in which this people, as being one with Christ, bare his name, and were owned of God for his Son and first born; as when he claimed them of Pharaoh, saying, Israel is my son, even my first born.
The blessings of Jacob prevailed above the blessings of his progenitors, insomuch that he left them to twelve families, extended unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills..... Thus the blessings of the covenant have prevailed through Christ Jesus; but, according to the divine will, as all the fullness of the Godhead was at first concentrated in Christ, Abraham gave all to one, and made Isaac alone his heir; and as Isaac was the type of Christ, more especially in the view of the mediate state, or the state in which the covenant was confirmed; in the same manner the great blessing was to be handed down by him, which circumstance occasioned the solicitude of Jacob to obtain the birth-right, and with that the rich treasure.....The nature and importance of this transaction, as affecting the covenant interest, may be seen in the event of Providence; for whilst Jacob settled with his father in the land, which was
the pledge of the promise, Esau went out and settled in another country.
Many instances are recorded similar to this of Esau........The men who fell in the wilderness had once a relation to the covenant-blessings, and, as members of this body, were heirs of the promises; but they had no proper regard for these objects; and for their infidelity to the cause and interest which distinguished them as a people, they were disinherited.....And in such a relation were the Jews, who rejected and crucified Christ. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But, though faith or fidelity be not necessary to constitute membership in this, more than in other communities, yet it is always an indispensible duty in such a relation, and absolutely necessary, in order to preserve a standing.....thou standest by faith, Rom. xi. 20; and if some, who were natural branches of this society, were broken off besause of unbelief, it is sufficiently plain that faith will be no less requisite to the standing of one who, by an act of sovereign mercy, is grafted into the same root, to partake of its rich blessings; and that he should regard the solemn warning.....Be not high-minded, but fear.
Members of a community, who are unfriendly to its constitution, and opposed to its counsel, are not only deemed unworthy of a share in its privileges, but are feared as its most dangerous enemies; hence, every wise precaution should be taken against the admission of sinister and faithless characters, especially in times of peril and war; and communities, in their prudence, have usually required of those whom they receive from abroad, certain explicit professions of faith and friendship, together with the oath of allegiance. The church of God has ever been in circumstances which have required the great
est wisdom and vigilance to guard against enemies both without and within; hence, solemn professions and the oath of God have been used among this people in all generations......Moses led them in a body to avouch the Lord to be their God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken to his voice, Deut. xxvi. 17. And we have repeated instances of their renewing their obligation and vows in the same solemn manner........ The faith of Rahab was proved when she had received the spies with peace. Ruth made a profession, which shewed, that she was stedfastly minded to go with the Lord's people, when she said to Naomi," Intreat me not to leave thee, or to "return from following after thee: for whether "thou goest, I will go: and where thou lodgest, "I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, "and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to "me, and more also, if aught but death part thee "and me."
Swearing by the name of the Lord, or to his name, was expressly required of this people........ "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve
him, and shalt swear by his name," Deut. vi. 13.....And Jeremiah, pointing out the manner in which foreigners should be admitted into the church, notices this solemnity, both as an ancient practice, and a standing rule....." If they will di"ligently learn the ways of my people, to sware by my name, The LORD liveth; (as they taught my people to swear by Baal) then shall they "be built in the midst of my people." Chap. xii. 16..... Also, in the prophecies respecting the restoration of Israel, in the last days, they are represented as then coming forward with an explicit profession, together with every formality which would render their obligations the most
binding and perpetual........" One shall say, I am "the Lord's; and another shall call himself by "the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe "with his hand unto the Lord, and sirname him"self by the name of Israel," Isai. xliv. 6......But whilst the greatest care and watchfulness is to be exercised to prevent the entrance of false men, all who learn the ways of God's people, and may charitably be viewed as making the profession of Christ, and taking his vows of faith and allegiance upon them, understandingly and sincerely, are freely to be admitted.....All who declared their faith in and full submission to the kingdom of heaven, by a confession of the great truth, that Jesus is the Christ, were readily admitted, by the Lord himself, and by his Apostles.
Two questions, relative to the Children of Believers, have been of late subjects of much enquiry.....the one is, Are they to be baptized?...... and the other, Are they Members of the Church, intitled to its privileges, and subject to its government, according to their capacities, the same as their parents?
The latter question is viewed to be the more important one; not only as the things signified and sealed, give to the signs and seals their estimation; but also as it is conceived that the dispute concerning the application of the signs, &c. has arisen, in a great degree, from darkness respecting the real standing of those subjects.
The importance of this question requires that it should have the place of a distinct section.
SECTION III......The more important Question concerning Infants.
IN taking a view of the question respecting the true standing of the children of believers in the covenant of promise, we are not led so directly to controvert the opinions maintained by the Anabaptists, against their right to be baptised, as those of certain late authors, who contend for the baptism of infants; but, at the same time, deny that they are included in the covenant relation, and belong to the body of the church.
Among those who have taken the negative side of this question, and disclaim the title of infant children of believers to the privileges and blessings of the covenant, none have been more explicit than the author* of two discourses on the perpetuity and provision of God's gracious covenant with Abraham and his seed, preached at the Tabernacle in Salem, and published at the request of that church. And in order to bring the subject into clear view, and to examine the grounds of this new controversy in our churches, I shall take the liberty to remark upon these discourses. And I shall do this with more freedom, as it is apprehended that their author has taken a ground not merely prejudicial to a most tender interest of the church, but which is utterly subversive of the hope of God's people, both Jew and Gentile.
Our remarks will be brief, and confined chiefly to the view given in the discourses of the covenant of promise, and representation of the standing of our children previously to their be
* Rev. SAMUEL WORCESTER, D. D.