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SECONDLY. This we see done in the ABRAHAMIC DISPENSATION. For as God's covenant transactions with Abraham was the foundation, or charter of the church, which, in after ages, he intended to gather, and to erect amongst men; so he, here gives pious parents an express promise and revelation concerning their infants. He promises to be a God to Abraham, and to his seed; and takes his infants into covenant, together with himself; commanding the token of the covenant to be solemnly affixed to them, as a standing testimony or sign that JEHOVAH was their God. See GEN. xvii. 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14. God said, I will establish my covenant between me, and thee (Abraham) and thy seed after thee, in their generations; to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee— and I will be their God. This is my covenant which ye shall keep every man-child among you, that is eight days old, shall be circumcised. The uncircumcised man-child shall be cut off from his people. Circumcision then, by God's express command, was affixed to Abraham's infants, and to the infants of all such as believed in the God of Abraham, as a token of his covenant; which covenant was, that Jehovah would be their God.

Now, when the Almighty covenants and promises to be the God of these infants, what does it imply? Undoubtedly something great, viz. that he will be, in a peculiar manner, their guardian and benefactor; that he will take them under the especial patronage and care of his providence, influences of his spirit, and ministration of his angels; and that if they died in their infant state, before any transgression had put them out of the covenant, they should certainly be raised to an happi

consequences of the fall; and that he has appointed a standing token or sign of this covenant, to perpetuate its knowledge and remembrance in the church.

ness after death.-That this was the undoubted import or meaning of this promise, the scripture hath clearly taught us.-Now that the dead are raised Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, &c. And again, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city, i. e. an happiness in some future state. And again, I will be his God,‡ is explained by, he shall be my Son: but whoever is a son of God, and dies in that relation, will infallibly be declared or manifested to be such by a glorious resurrection. See Roм. viii. 19. LUKE XX. 36.

That this token of the Abrahamic covenant, assured a resurrection to future happiness to an infant dying under it, may be further proved thus:Suppose one of Abraham's circumcised infants lay languishing under tormenting pains, and gave up the ghost? An infidel stands by, and seeing the mark in its flesh, scoffingly asks-what that mark means? He is told, it is a token of the covenant into which Jehovah took the child; and by which he solemnly declared, that he received it as his own, and engaged to be its God. But what gets the child, the infidel demands, by having Jehovah for its God? Is he not ashamed to be called the God of that emaciated, tortured, breathless infant? No, it is replied, because he will raise it from the dead, and give it happiness in a future state. Else, indeed, he would be ashamed to be called the God of such a babe. But we proceed to consider:

THIRDLY. The MOSAIC DISPENSATION; and the farther strength which this gives to these rational

Luke xx. 37. A state of death, is a state of punishment; God's calling himself then, the God of Abraham, when he lay in a state of death, was a clear proof that he would not leave him always to continue in it."

† Heb. xi. 16.

↑ Rev. xxi. 7.

hopes. Now, here, we see another covenant, besides that of circumcision, into which infants were taken. DEUT. xxix. 10, 11, 12. Ye stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God; your captains, your elders, your little-ones, your wives, that thou shouldst enter into covenant with the Lord thy God: that he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself; and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham &c.--So EZEK. xvi. 20. 21. Moreover, thou hast taken thy sons, and thy daughters, which thou hast born unto me; and these hast thou sacrificed unto the idols: thou hast slain my children.*-Hence then, it is most evident, that the Jewish infants, in consequence of their dedication to God, and admission into his covenant, were in a peculiar manner his; his property, and his children, in a sense in which the infants of the idolatrous and uncircumcised gentiles were not. But of these, multitudes, no doubt, died in their infant state. What now might be concluded concerning the case of such? Undoubtedly this:-That, as they died in covenant with God, (by which covenant he had engaged to take them for a people to himself, to acknowledge them as his children, and to be to them a God) and as no advantage nor happiness was given them in this world, at all answerable to these characters; but they miserably languished, like all other infants, and at last died under the primitive condemnation or judgment, it therefore certainly remained, that they will be raised again and exist in some after state; where an happiness will be given them suitable to these great promises, and where they will

A child on the day of its circumcision, was wont to be called Chatan, because it was then considered as espoused to God, and united to his people. Vid. Schindler in Verb Lexic. Pent. page 677.

be treated as the people and the children of God. For else, God would plainly seem to have broken his covenant; and the solemn and grand promise of being a God to such an infant, and of taking it for his child, proves a very mean and insignificant thing.

These are the hopes which REASON surmises, and which the several dispensations both of ABRAHAM, and of MOSES, strongly confirm. We proceed to observe :

FOURTHLY. How they are farther brightened by the DISPENSATION OF JESUS CHRIST. As this was to be the last, and the most perfect display of God's mercy to fallen men; in which the riches of his abounding grace were to be most fully revealed; it can never be imagined to come short, in any points of the two former dispensations. Did God take the infants of believers into covenant with himself, under Abraham and Moses; and command that, as a standing token of it, the seal of the covenant should be solemnly affixed to them; but, under Jesus his Son, has he made no such manifestation of his merciful regard to them; admitted them visibly into no covenant; nor appointed any token that he receives them as his children, and that he will be to them a God? How utterly unlikely, as well as uncomfortable is the thought. Thanks to his mercy!-We can with good assurance say, that is not the case!

No. When infants were once brought to our Saviour, to be made partakers of the blessings of his kingdom: he openly and severally rebuked his disciples, and was highly displeased with them, for endeavouring to hinder it. He kindly took them (infants) into his arms, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them: and commanded that little children should be suffered to come, i. e. be brought, to him and not be forbidden; declaring that of such

is the kingdom of God;* i. e. that these, also, have a place in the kingdom of the Messiah, which was now to be set up; and a right to the blessings which himself, the promised king, was come to bestow.

At another time, he took a little child into his arms, and shewing it to his disciples, says, whosoever shall receive one such little child, this child, in my name, receiveth me. Now the receiving a child in Christ's name must mean the considering, or treating it as standing in some peculiar relation to Christ; as Txes we belonging to Christ; as being a subject of his kingdom, or a part of his flock. That this is what our Lord means by, receiving in his name, himself has expressly shewn by thus explaining it in this same discourse, because ye belong to Christ: whoso shall give you a cup of water to drink, in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you &c. Hence, then it is most evident, that infants may be, yea are to be, received in Christ's name; and that by this we are to understand, receiving them as belonging, or standing in some peculiar relation, to Christ; but in this peculiar relation to Christ an infant can no otherwise stand than by being solemnly devoted to him, and admitted into his kingdom and church.

And, that infants were to be admitted into the kingdom of the Messiah, or into that incorporated society of which he is the head, is quite rational to presume for as they stood in absolute need of the redemption or grace which Messiah, the king, came to bestow on mankind; and as provision was made by the covenant of God for their actual receiving it; so there was the strongest reason to expect, that they would be solemnly acknowledged,

* Mat. xix. 14. xviii. 5. Mark ix. 37.

Maik x. 14. Luke xviii. 16. † Mat
Luke ix. 48. ↑ Mark ix. 41.

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