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self and his seed: Because the condition or qualification of the infant is but this, that he be the seed of a believer. And he thinks the generality of the reformed are in these sentiments. He declares his own judgment in full concurrence herewith, and backs the same with a variety of arguments, in his Five Dispu tations, and other writings. He observes, it seems strange to him that any should imagine, a lower belief in the parent will help his child to a title to baptism, than that which is necessary to his own, if he were unbaptized; because mutual consent is necessary to mutual covenant, and the covenant must be mutual. No man hath right to God's part, that refuseth his own: They that have no right to remission of sins, have no right given them by God to baptism. If God be not at all actually obliged in covenant to any ungodly man, then he is not obliged to give him baptism But God is not obliged so to him. Most of our divines make the contrary doctrine Pelagianism, that God should be obliged to man in a state of nature in such a covenant. If the parent's title be questionable, (says he,) the infant's is so too; because the ground is the same: And it is from the parent, that the child must derive it; nor can any man give that which he hath not. We ought not (says he) to baptize those persons, or their children, as theirs, who are visible members of the kingdom of the devil, or that do not so much as profess their forsaking the devil's kingdom: But such are all that profess not a saving faith. If such are not visibly in the kingdom of the devil, at least they are not visibly out of it. All that are duly baptized, are baptized into Christ; therefore they are supposed to possess that faith by which men are united or ingrafted into Christ: But that is only justifying faith. Tell me (says he) where any man was ever said in scripture to be united to Christ, without saving faith, or profession of it. In a word, Mr. Baxter takes occasion to declare himself in this manner: If Mr. Blake exacts not a profession of saving faith and repentance, I say he makes foul work in the church. And when such foul work shall be voluntarily maintained, and the word of God abused for the defilement of the church and ordinances of God, it is a greater scandal to the weak and to the schismatics, and a greater reproach to the church, and a sadder case to considerate men, than the too common pollutions of others, which are merely through negligence, but not justified and defended.
We are told by other impartial inquirers, that all the reformed do in their directories and practices require professions, as well as promises, of parents, bringing their children to baptism; even professions of present faith and repentance, as well as promises of future obedience; and these not merely of the moral, but the evangelical kind. The judgment of the Church 57
of Scotland may be known by their adopting the Confession, Catechisms, and Directory of the Assembly of Divines; who, when they require a parental profession (as in their Catechisms, &c.) intend it not of any lower kind, than a true gospel faith and obedience. The mind of the Dissenters may be very much judged of by the reformed liturgy, presented in their name upon King Charles's restoration; where parents' credible profession of their faith, repentance, and obedience, is required in order to the baptism of their children. I might bring further evidence from the writings of particular divines among them, ancient and modern: But I must for brevity omit this. Only I will give you a specimen in two or three hints. Mr. Charnock, that great divine, observes, "Baptism supposes faith in the adult, and the profession of faith in the parent for his child." The late eminent Dr. Watts, in his Holiness of Times, Places, and People, thus declares himself, with respect to the infants of true believers: "In my opinion, so far as they are any way members of the visible Christian church, it is upon supposition of their being (with their parents) members of the invisible church of God."
On the whole, as to our fathers here in New England, it is true, they asserted a baptism-right in parents for themselves and children, whom yet they excluded from full communion; the ground of which difference was hinted before: And they denied a parity of reason between the two cases now in view, on some accounts. Their chief ground was, that adult baptism requires a measure of visible moral fitness or inherent holiness in the recipient; whereas, infant baptism requires nothing visible in its subject, but a relative fitness or federal holiness, the formalis ratio of infant-membership, accruing from God's charter of grace to his church, taking in the infant-seed with the believing parent. Baptism they supposed to run parallel with regular inembership; and the child of such a parent entitled to this covenant-seal in its own right, on the foot of a distinct personal membership, derivative in point of being, but independent for its duration, and for the privileges annexed to it by divine institution. However, they certainly owned parental profession, as belonging to the due order and just manner of administration, both meet and needful. Accordingly they provided, that parents claiming covenant-privileges for their children, should own their covenant-state, have a measure of covenant-qualifications, and do covenant-duties, in some degree, to the satisfaction of a rational charity. And it ought to be remembered, they have left it as their solemn judgment, that even taking baptism-right for a right of fitness in foro ecclesiastico, still the parents whose children they claimed baptism for, were such as must be allowed to have a title to it for themselves. in case they had remained unbaptized:
Looking upon them, although not duly fitted for the sacrament of communion and confirmation, yet sufficiently so for the sacrament of union and initiation; professors in their infancy parentally, and now personally, in an initial way; appearing Abraham's children, in some measure of truth, to a judicious charity; justly therefore baptizable, in their persons and offspring, by all the rules of the gospel. I am not here to argue upon the justness of this scheme of thought on the case; but only to represent the fact in a genuine light.
I have no room, Sir, for any further remarks. But must conclude, with Christian salutes, and the tender of every brotherly office, from
BOSTON, June 26, 1749.
affectionate Friend and humble Servant, THOMAS FOXCROFT.
REV. MR. SOLOMON WILLIAMS'S BOOK,
THE TRUE STATE OF THE QUESTION CONCERNING THE QUALIFICATIONS NECESSARY TO LAWFUL COMMUNION
IN THE CHRISTIAN SACRAMENTS.
Prov. xii. 17. He that speaketh Truth, sheweth forth Righteousness.