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THE

PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.

JULY, 1821.

Communications.

pectation of seeing, in this, or in the next hour, such stupendous exhibitions of Almighty power.

The BRIEF THOUGHTS ON BAPTISM.

power of Jehovah to regenerate a (Continued from page 243.) child in the act of being baptized, We have contemplated some of supplies no ground of expectation the uses of baptism when adminis that he will do so: nor could we tered to adults. Let us now in infer even from occasional occurquire into the uses of this ordinance rences of such a connexion between when applied to infants. Here, as the rite and the thing signified, any in many other things, men run into thing like a uniform procedure of a opposite extremes. Some magnify sovereign God, in dispensing rethe benefit of this Christian rite newing grace in conjunction with beyond what inspired writers war his own appointed ordinance. rant us to expect; while others, If we look at the conduct of bapequally mistaken in their views of tized children, we shall find no eviduty, reject it as unscriptural and dence to support this extravagant useless. The former affirm baptisin opinion. Alas! too generally they to be regeneration; believing that discover unequivocal signs of a deall infants, washed in the name of praved nature, and of being under the adorable Three, are delivered its full and unbroken dominion. from the corruption of their nature, They need, as well as unbaptized and endued with a new principle of children, to be regenerated. If bapspiritual life. To this opinion we tism be regeneration, then, for the cannot assent. We reprobate it as same reason, circumcision must unfounded and dangerous. That have been regeneration; and conthe Almighty can regenerate an in- sequently none of the seed of Abrafant by his grace, is not to be doubt ham, who had received this initiaed; and from the admission of this tory rite of the church, would have fact, it will follow that, if he please, needed the quickening process of he may communicate spiritual life renewing grace, how much soever at the moment in which a child re they may have needed repentance ceives the outward sign of this great and reformation. But our blessed and necessary blessing. But from Lord affirmed the necessity of being the power of God to do a thing, we born again, in the most comprehencannot infer his determination to do sive terms; and he doubtless had it. His omnipotence, which, by a respect to Nicodemus, with whom word, brought this world into exist he was conversing, and all other ence, is able to create, in the same circumcised Jews who had not been way, ten thousand other worlds this born again, as well as to Heathen moment; but no one is so extrava men who were destitute of the seal gant as to found on this fact an ex of God's covenant. Simon Magus VOL. I.

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was baptized; yet he gave such in- a share in its ample blessings. dubitable evidences of being desti Now, we have seen in a former tute of spiritual life, that the apos paper, that baptism has succeeded tle Peter pronounced him to be “ in to the place of circumcision as the the gall of bitterness and in the sign and seal of God's covenant ; bond of iniquity.” Acts, viii. 23. and consequently it follows, that

Others run into the opposite ex the application of this rite pertains treme. They deny the obligation to all who have an interest in the of infant baptism, and reject it as a covenant; and therefore that inuseless and unscriptural ceremony. fants are now to be baptized, as They demand from us a warrant to they were formerly circumcised. justify our practice. In the cursory The simple fact that baptism is view we are taking of this subject, applied to children by divine apa formal discussion of this point pointment, ought to be sufficient to cannot be expected. A few hints satisfy our minds, whether we can only will comport with our design. see the advantages of it or not, that

Let it be observed then, that in it must be beneficial, and cannot fants were members of the Jewish be an useless ceremony. The apchurch, and by divine appointment pointments of infinite wisdom and wore the seal of a covenant relation goodness will ever be found profitto Israel's God; that the identical able to those who observe them in covenant sealed by circumcision, the prescribed way. has come down to the Christian But we are not left to this naked church, with all its promises and exercise of faith. It is easy to disprivileges; that not one word can cover various ways in which infant be adduced from the inspired re baptism conduces to our edification. cords, to show that infants have That sealed union to the church, been disfranchised of their charter which baptized children enjoy, is ed privileges enjoyed through a not to be regarded as an inconsidelong succession of ages, and expel rable benefit. “Salvation,” said our led as aliens from the house of God Lord, “is of the Jews;" and it is in which it was their happiness to equally true that salvation is of the dwell; and that under the present Christian church. The blessings of dispensation, the privileges of all salvation, its light, and grace, and the members of the church have life, are transmitted, from age to been, not diminished, but augment age, in the line of God's people's ed. Infants then of Christian

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seed. At times Jehovah may step rents we cannot but regard as sus beyond their habitations, to bless taining a covenant relation to God, those who are aliens from the comand as entitled to membership in monwealth of Israel, and strangers his church. We, therefore, think from the covenant of promise, and ourselves justified in demanding in bring them into his church : but our turn, a warrant for depriving uniformly the blessings of salvation infants of a privilege secured to are bestowed on the covenant seed; them by covenant. We ask, when, and the children rise

up to succeed and by what authority, was this co their parents in maintaining the venant abolished, or altered in any worship of God in the world. Let essential feature? We appeal to the us not be misunderstood. We do writings of Paul, as furnishing in not assert that grace descends from contestible proof of its perpetuity; father to son, like a worldly inheand of the fact, that, as Christians ritance; for it is now true, as it alwere contemplateil in its original ways was, “ They are not all Israel institution as the spiritual seed of that are of Israel ;—that is, they Abraham, so have they a right to which are the children of the flesh, claim for themselves and children these are not the children of God:

but the children of the promise are the Supreme Being, stooping to counted for the seed." Rom. ix. 6. their weakness, and condescending 8. But we affirm, that although to encourage their faith, by increasthousands of baptized individuals ing the assurance of his infallible may never receive saving grace, word by his own appointed sign; and die in unbelief; yet, as Jehovah and hear him speaking to them in always had among the Jews an this cheering language: "Sinner, I election of grace, even in the most

know the unbelief of thy heart. My degenerate times, who adhered to naked word ought to inspire thee his worship, so he has, in every age with unhesitating confidence; and of the Christian world, selected I might justly leave to the destrucsubjects of his renewing grace from tive consequences of their unbelief, among the descendants of his

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all who will not rely upon my professing people. The history of the mise: but, in compassion to the inchurch is replete with proofs of this firmity of thy fallen nature, I grafact. And no wonder; for it is but ciously add my token to my word; the fulfilment of the covenant pro and, by this visible sign, I assure mise, by which Jehovah has con thee, that I will fulfil all my prodescended to engage to be a God mises. As certainly as thou hast to his people and to their seed after been washed with the water of bapthem. Gen. xvii. 7.

tism, so certainly will I bestow on Doubtless it is a great privilege thee all the blessings of my coveto belong to that society on which nant, if thou accept of them by faith the Almighty looks with such be in Jesus Christ, my well beloved nignant smiles; a society from which Son." he selects the subjects of his grace Baptism most certainly imposes and the heirs of his heavenly king an obligation on all to whom it is dom. Baptized members of it have, applied. The inability of infant it must be admitted, a fairer pros children to understand the nature pect of being called by the Spirit of and design of this ordinance, 'and God to fellowship with him in his to consent to receive it, cannot ansaving love, than those who are not nul the obligation, They are the members. They are in that nur. creatures of God; and he has a persery from which the Lord takes the fect right to 'require his people to trees of righteousness, and plants devote their offspring to him. And them in his garden, that they may is it not the duty of their children, flourish beneath his special care and the moment they become capable of cultivation.

moral
agency,

to consent to be the Nor should it be deemed an Lord's Are they at liberty to unimportant advantage that the choose whether they will serve him promises of the covenant are pre or not? Are they not bound by imsented to baptized children in a perious obligations to devote themsealed form. The gospel may be selves to the service and glory of freely and indiscriminately preach that Almighty Being, from whom ed; the heralds of the cross may they have received their existence sound through the world the de and faculties ? What is baptism but lightful assurance, “ He that believ a recognition of this truth? What

do parents in presenting their offbaptized participate in all the en spring in this sacred ordinance, but couragement to be derived from acknowledge that they belong to this general promise, they may con- God; and therefore dedicate them template this and all other promises to his service, engaging to endeaof the covenant as confirmed by a vour to bring them up in the nurseal, and presented to them in this ture and admonition of the Lord ? inviting form. They may behold The recollection then of this solemn

transaction, when they were pre Parents ought to make a due use sented to their Maker in baptism, of infant baptism. They should inand consecrated to his glory by form their children, as soon as they their parents, is certainly calculated are capable of understanding it, of to awaken in them sense of their

the interesting transaction that took duty to God, and to restrain them place in the house of God; how, in from a course of sin. It lays too a the presence of a whole assembly foundation for frequent addresses of worshipping Christians, they to them from the pulpit. Ministers were solemnly dedicated to God. may claim baptized youth as the They should endeavour to impress peculiar property of God, on which their minds with a deep sense of the he has been pleased to set his seal ; obligations imposed on them by that and plead with them, as they would transaction, and urge them to renot forfeit those great privileges to new the engagements then made by which they have been introduced as a personal surrender of themselves members of the churcli, not to con to God. Let them also plead the tinue living in a way that will bring || baptism of their children in prayer, down upon them so heavy a loss; as an argument to enforce their pebut to secure to themselves all the titions. Let them humbly remind blessings of that gracious covenant the Lord that they have given their into which they have been admit children to him, and earnestly pray ted.

that he would in mercy make them That parents who present their his in an everlasting covenant. Let children in baptism, are brought || them beseech him to fulfil his great under very serious obligations, will promise to his church in their exnot be questioned; for they express-perience, by giving them new hearts ly engaged to perform the duty of and new spirits.

They are thine, parents to their offspring by in 0 God, by baptism, make them structing them in the knowledge of thine by grace. They are sealed divine things, by praying with them, by thine appointed ordinance, O and setting before them a Christian seal them by thy Spirit.” example. Now, it is true that an Baptized children are placed untecedently to the reception of this der the guardian care and parental ordinance, they are under impe watch of the church. The church rious obligations to take care of the is bound to provide for them that spiritual welfare of their children ; instruction which is needful to but it cannot be reasonably doubt them; to inspect their morals; to ed, that the solemn recognition of admonish them when they go astray; these obligations, and solemn en to bear them on her heart before the gagements to perform them, must throne of grace, and implore for have a very salutary influence in them all the blessings of salvation; keeping a sense of them alive upon and to furnish them with inviting the mind, and of stimulating them examples of Christian piety. It is to do their duty. Here, then, is indeed the duty of the church to another advantage of infant bap- endeavour to diffuse abroad among tism; an advantage in which both the nations the light of the blessed parents and children participate: to gospel; but while she looks with a the one, as it serves to incite them compassionate eye on the desolate to discharge a duty they might places of the earth, she is bound esotherwise neglect, or to rouse them pecially to strive to promote the into a more careful performance of it; terests of her own members, and to the other, because they are bene- bring them to behold the light of the fited in proportion as their parents

truth, and to rejoice in the salvation attend to the interests of their im of Christ. mortal souls.

The frequent administration of

baptism manifests the kindness and them, it must at once appear obwisdom of God, in providing for the vious that such judgments would, edification of his church. We need very frequently, prove exceedingly repeatedly to be reminded of our false and uncandid. In the produty; and God, who knows our gress

of human life, the race is not frail nature, has so arranged the or always to the swift nor the battle der his house, as to meet our to the strong. The gifts of Heaven wants. Whenever a child is dedi appear to be bestowed without the cated in baptism, all parents who least distinction. The fool and the witness it are reminded of their en wise man often seem to meet with gagements, and all baptized chil the same success. dren of the duty which they owe to But in the midst of this seeming that Supreme Being, to whom they confusion, an unerring and superwere devoted in their infancy. This intending Providence presides. provision is made for keeping alive There is a secret plan, which the a sense of the obligations imposed wisdom and skill of mortals cannot by this invaluable ordinance. unfold, hastening forward to com

In conclusion let it be observed, pletion. The humble worshipper, that baptism is a source of grateful whose pious accents no human ear recollections to every pious mind. ever heard, and whose benevolent “How tender,” may the Christian actions none but those to whom say,

“ were the mercies of God! they were performed ever witnessI was not born of Heathen parents, ed, passes not unregarded by his and dedicated to some idol; but of heavenly Father.

While the unChristian parents, who felt their godly seem to prosper, and, in the obligations to consecrate me to the midst of their impiety, appear to service of the one only living and enjoy more than the righteous betrue God. In my infancy he was liever, there may be some secret graciously pleased to take me into operation going forward that may his covenant, and make me a mem terminate ultimately in their eterber of his church. He favoured me nal ruin. We are expressly inwith the instructions both of my formed in the text, that those who parents and of his ministers; and love God are exposed to no such now, although I wandered from him, danger. They dwell amidst the and requited his kindness with base munition of rocks, and the Eternal ingratitude, he has been pleased to

is their defence. To them prospeenrich me with his saving grace. Irity and adversity, in one sense, acknowledge the infinite debt of are equally indifferent–these may gratitude. I give myself to his ser promote, but they cannot retard, vice. I am his, and I rejoice to be their future good for all things his for ever and ever."

shall co-operate for good to them
J.J.J. that love God. To illustrate the

truth of this proposition shall be
the object of this discourse.

But before immediately entering
BRIEF DISCOURSES-NO. IV.

on the illustration, there are two On all Things working together for things which shortly claim our at

Good to them that love God. tention. These are the OBJECTS CON“And we know that all things work to

cerning whom the declaration is gether for good to them that love God.” given, and that Good, to accomplish ROMANS, viii. 28.

which all things are said to co-opeWere we to form our judgments rate. of the characters of our fellow crea To love God is the requisition of tures invariably from the fortunate the first commandment of the moral or unfortunate events which befal law. It is the incumbent duty of

FOR THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.

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