Obrazy na stronie

tism, to perform the law of ceremonies, to be presented into the temple, to pay their price, to be redeemed with silver and gold, to be bound by the law of pollutions and carnal ordi-, nancés; and therefore, if they had been thús left, it would be no wonder, if the Jews had complained and made a tumult : they used to do it for less matters.

22. To which let this be added : That the first book of the New Testament was not written till eight years after Christ's ascension, and St. Mark's Gospel twelve years. In the mean time, to what Scriptures did they appeal ? By the analogy or proportion of what writings did they end their questions? Whence did they prove their articles? They only appealed to the Old Testament, and only added what their Lord superadded. Now either it must be said, that our blessed Lord commanded that infants should not be baptized, which is nowhere pretended; and if it were, cannot at all be proved : or, if by the proportion of Scriptures they did serve God, and preach the religion, it is plain, that by the analogy of the Old Testament, that is, of those Scriptures by which they proved Christ to be come and to have suffered, they also approved the baptism of infants, or the admitting them to the society of the faithful Jews, of which also the church did then principally consist.

23. Seventhly: That baptism, which consigns men and women to a blessed resurrection, doth also equally consign infants to it, hath nothing, that I know of, pretended against it; there being the same signature and the same grace, and in this thing all being alike passive, and we no way cooperating to the consignation and promise of grace.

And infants have an equal necessity, as being liable to sickness and groaning with as sad accents, and dying sooner than men and women, and less able to complain, and more apt to be pitied, and broken with the unhappy consequents of a short life and a speedy death, “ et infelicitate priscorum hominum,” with the infelicity and folly of their first parents ; and therefore have as great need as any: and that is capacity enough to receive a remedy for the evil, which was brought upon them by the fault of another.

24. Eighthly: And after all this, if baptism be that means, which God hath appointed to save us, it were well, if we would do our parts towards infants' final interest : which,

This we may

whether it depends upon the sacrament and its proper grace, we have nothing to rely upon but those texts of Scripture, which make baptism the ordinary way of entering into the state of salvation : save only we are to add this, that because of this law, since infants are not personally capable, but the church for them, as for all others indefinitely, we have reason to believe, that their friends' neglect shall by some way be supplied; but hope hath in it nothing beyond a probability.

be certain of, that naturally we cannot be heirs of salvation, for“ by nature we are children of wrath;" and therefore an eternal separation from God is an infallible consequent to our evil nature: either, therefore, children must be put into the state of grace, or they shall dwell for ever, where God's face does never shine. Now there are but two ways of being put into the state of grace and salvation; the inward by the Spirit, and the outward by water; which regularly are together. If they be renewed by the Spirit, hinders them to be baptized, who receive the Holy Ghost as well as we?" If they are not capable of the Spirit, they are capable of water; and if of neither, where is their title to heaven', which is neither internal nor external, neither spiritual nor sacramental, neither secret nor manifest, neither natural nor gracious, neither original nor derivative? And well may we lament the death of poor babes, that are äßanti, concerning whom, if we neglect what is regularly prescribed to all that enter heaven, without any difference expressed or case reserved, we have no reason to be comforted over our dead children, but may “ weep as they that have no hope.” We may hope when our neglect was not the hinderance, because God hath wholly taken the matter into his own hand, and then it cannot miscarry; and though we know nothing of the children, yet we know much of God's goodness : but when God hath permitted it to us, that is, offered and permitted children to our ministry, whatever happens to the innocents, we may well fear, lest God will require the souls at our hands : and we cannot be otherwise secure, but that it will be said concerning our children, which St. Ambrose used in a case like this: “ Anima illa potuit salva fieri,

66 what

Nisi quis revatus fuerit, &c. Utique nullum excipit, non infantem, non aliquâ præventum necessitate.-Ambr. de Abrak. Patr, lib. ii. c. 11.

si habuisset purgationem": This soul might have gone to God, if it had been purified and washed.” We know God is good, infinitely good; but we know it is not at all good to tempt his goodness : and he tempts him that leaves the usual way, and pretends it is not made for him, and yet hopes to be at his journey's end, or expects to meet his child in heaven, when himself shuts the door against him, which, for aught he knows, is the only one that stands open. St. Austin was severe in this question against unbaptized infants; therefore he is called “ durus pater infantum;" though I know not why the original of that opinion should be attributed to him, since St. Ambrose said the same before him, as appears in his words before quoted.

25. And now that I have enumerated the blessings, which are consequent to baptism, and have also made apparent, that infants can receive these blessings, I suppose I need not use any other persuasions to bring children to baptism. If it be certain they may receive these good things by it, it is certain they are not to be hindered of them, without the greatest impiety, and sacrilege, and uncharitableness in the world. Nay, if it be only probable that they receive these blessings, or if it be but possible they may, nay, unless it be impossible they should, and so declared by revelation or demonstratively certain; it were intolerable unkindness and injustice to our pretty innocents, to let their crying be unpitied, and their natural misery eternally irremediable, and their sorrows without remedy, and their souls no more capable of relief than their bodies of physic, and their death left with the sting in, and their souls without spirits to go to God, and no angel-guardian to be assigned them in the assemblies of the faithful, and they not to be reckoned in the accounts of God and God's church. All these are sad stories.

26. There are in Scripture very many other probabilities, to persuade the baptism of infants; but because the places admit of divers interpretations, the arguments have so many diminutions, and the certainty that is in them, is too fine for easy understandings, I have chosen to build the ancient doctrines upon such principles, which are more easy and certain,

u Lib. ii. c. 11. de Abrah. Patriarc.

and have not been yet sullied and rifled with the contentions of an adversary. This only I shall observe, That the words of our blessed Lord, “ Unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven," cannot be expounded to the exclusion of children, but the same expositions will also make baptism not necessary for men : for if they be both necessary ingredients, water and the Spirit, then let us provide water, and God will provide the Spirit; if we bring wood to the sacrifice, he will provide a lamb. And if they signify distinctly, one is ordinarily as necessary as the other; and then infants must be baptized, or not be saved. But if one be exegetical and explicative of the other, and by “ water and the Spirit” is meant only the purification of the Spirit, then where is the necessity of baptism for men ? It will be, as the other sacrament, at most but highly convenient, not simply necessary; and all the other places will easily be answered, if this be avoided. But, however, these words being spoken in so decretory a manner, are to be used with fear and reverence; and we must be infallibly sure, by some certain infallible arguments, that infants ought not to be baptized, or we ought to fear concerning the effect of these decretory words. I shall only add two things, by way of corollary to this discourse.

27. That the church of God, ever since her numbers were full, hath, for very many ages, consisted almost wholly of assemblies of them, who have been baptized in their infancy: and although, in the first callings of the Gentiles, the chiefest and most frequent baptisms were of converted and repenting persons and believers; yet, from the beginning also, the church hath baptized the infants of Christian parents; according to the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, I will lift up my hands to the Gentiles, and set up a standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders *.”. Concerning which I shall not only bring the testimonies of the matter of fact, but either a report of an apostolical tradition, or some argument.from the fathers, which will make their testimony more effectual in all, that shall relate to the question.

* Isa. xlix. 22.

28. The author of the book of ecclesiastical hierarchy, attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite, takes notice, that certain unholy persons and enemies to the Christian religion think it a ridiculous thing, that infants, who as yet cannot understand the Divine mysteries, should be partakers of the sacraments; and that professions and abrenunciations should be made by others for them and in their names.

He answers, that “ Holy men, governors of churches, have so taught, having received a tradition from their fathers and elders in Christ." By which answer of his, as it appears that he himself was later than the Areopagite; so it is so early by him affirmed, that even then there was an ancient tradition for the baptism of infants, and the use of godfathers in the ministry of the sacrament. Concerning which, it having been so ancient a constitution of the church, it were well if men would rather humbly and modestly observe, than, like scorners, deride it; in which they shew their own folly, as well as immodesty. For what indecency or incongruity is it, that our parents, natural or spiritual, should stipulate for us, when it is agreeable to the practice of all the laws and transactions of the world, an effect of the communion of saints, and of Christian economy? For why may not infants be stipulated for, as well as we? All were included in the stipulation made with Adam; he made a losing bargain for himself, and we smarted for his folly: and if the faults of parents, and kings, and relatives, do bring evil upon their children, and subjects, and correlatives, it is but equal, that our children may have benefit also by our charity and piety. But concerning making an agreement for them, we find that God was confident concerning Abraham, that “ he would teach his children :" and there is no doubt but parents have great power, by strict education and prudent discipline, to efform the minds of their children to virtue. Joshua did expressly undertake for his household : I and


house will serve the Lord.” And for children we may better do it, because, till they are of perfect choice, no government in the world is so great as that of parents over their children, in that which can concern the parts of this question; for they rule over their understandings, and children know nothing but what they are told, and they believe it infinitely. And it is a rare art of the Spirit, to engage parents to bring them up well,

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