Much in a little, or, An abstract of Mr. Baxters plain Scripture-proof for infants church-membership or baptism with a few notes upon the anti-queries of T.G.
Barret, John, 1631-1713., Baxter, Richard, 1615-1691. Plain Scripture-proof of infants church-membership and baptism., Grantham, Thomas, 1634-1692. Quaeries examined.

Now to the Common Objections.

(1.) If these Texts be objected, Rom.* 9. 8. They that are the Children of the flesh, these are not the Children of God, but the Children of the Promise are ac∣counted for the Seed, Eph. 2. 3. We are by Nature the Children of Wrath.] To the first Text, what is it the Apostle mainly drives at, but that Men are not therefore saved, because they are Abraham's carnal seed, (and conse∣quently, not because they are the car∣nal seed of any other?) And is it their certain Salvation, or their Church-Membership, that we dispute for (in Page  49 regard of Individuals?) And further, doth the Apostle speak one word against the priviledge of those Infants, whose Parents violated not Gods Covenant, nor fell away? If a man should affirm, That all the Infants of the faithful (so dying) are certainly saved, is there a syllable in the Text against him? Were they not aged unbelievers that the Apo∣stle excludeth here?

And to Eph. 2. 3. What though we are by nature the children of wrath; Doth it follow, that we may not be otherwise by grace? Again, may not * children be visible Church-members, and yet perhaps children of wrath too? Were not all the children of Church-members among both Jews and Pro∣selites Church-members? And yet were they not children of wrath by nature, as we are?

2. If you object, that Infants are not capable of the ends of Baptism: To this, though Infants are not capable of *every benefit by Baptism, as the Aged are; yet are they not capable of the principal ends? May it not be a listing sign to enter them Church-members, and solemnize their Dedication to Page  50 Christ, and engage them to be his people, and to take him for their Lord and Saviour, and so to confer on them remission of sin, and what Christ by the Covenant promiseth to the Bapti∣sed; (though yet themselves under∣stand not this; even as we put the names of Infants in Bonds and Leases, which they can neither read nor know of?)

And may it not be operative by its * signification as soon as the Child comes to the use of Reason, (which will not be so long as you use to defer Baptism?) And in the mean time, as his interest is upon the ••…dition of the Parents faith, and as he is received as it were a * Member of them, so may not the Pa∣rents have the present actual comfort of it, (as the Parent hath the actual comfort of a Lease that assureth an Estate to his Child?) And was not Christ himself Baptized, when yet he was not capable of many of the great ends of Baptism? Was Baptism to Christ a sign of the washing away of sin, or of purifying his Soul, (which was per∣fect before,) or of being buried with Christ, &c. And how uncapable were Page  51 the Infants that Christ laid his hands on, and took up in his Armes, of un∣derstanding the meaning of what he did? Shall we therefore say, that Christ should have let it alone till af∣terwards? And will you tell us, what operation Circumcision had on the Infants of Church-members formerly? Was it not a Seal of the righteousness of Faith? And yet, had they any more Faith or knowledge of the significancy, than ours have now? Was it not an engaging sign? And yet, were not they as uncapable of understanding either the significancy, or engagement, as ours are? So,

(3.) If you object, How can an In∣fant Covenant with God, or be enga∣ged by this Sign? And where doth God require the Parent to engage his chil∣dren, &c. To this, if only the Aged * are capable of engagement, may you not thence straitway conclude, that no Infant was ever circumcised? But may not that be the Childs Action Morally, and in Law-sence, which is * onely the Fathers Action Physically? When a man puts his Childs name in a Lease, and binds himself and his heirs, Page  52 is not the Child thus entred into Cove∣nant and Bond? And does not the Law take it as his Act? And is it not a plain * natural duty of Parents to covenant for their children, when it is for their good? And doth not the Scrip∣ture fully shew, that all the people of Israel did (by Gods appointment) enter their children into the Covenant of God? Were they not to circumcise them, which God calleth [his Covenant] and [the sign of the Covenant?] And is it not as plainly spoken, as the mouth of man can speak it, in Deut. 29. 10, 11, 12, 13. Did not the Parents there * enter their children into the Covenant, and not the Infants themselves? And doth not that shew, God hath given Parents their interest and authority?

4. Another common objection is, if Infants must be Baptized, why may they not as well receive the Lords*Supper? To which, may not the very external nature of the several Sacra∣ments satisfie you? Hath not Christ appointed the first to be such, as In∣fants are capable of? May not they be washed as well as the Aged? But is not the other such as they are, natu∣rallyPage  53incapable of in their first Infancy? And is not the former instituted plainly for all disciples? But what Scripture saith, that all Disciples as such, should presently receive the Lords Supper? Is it not restrained to those, that can first examine themselves, and can dis∣cern the Lords Body, and keep in remem∣brance*his Death? And if every Bur∣gess at Age, as such, hath power to Trade, &c. in the City; will it there∣fore follow, that every Infant may do so, that is born a Burgess?

(5.) It hath been objected, that if it be the Will of Christ that Infants * should be Baptized, it is strange, that he hath left it so dark. To which, will you not grant, that all Church-mem∣bers must be admitted by Baptism? Is this dark or doubtful? And how many Scriptures are there that prove Infants must be admitted Church-members? Can we say, the Scripture is dark, or sparing in that? Again, The Scripture speaks most fully in the Controversies, which in those times were agitated: but was it any Controversie then, whether Infants were to be Members of the visible Church? Did not the Page  54Jews take it for unquestionable, all * their Infants having actual possession, and that upon Gods own grant and Ordination? Now, if Christ would have dispossessed them, should he not somewhere have discovered it? And would it not have occasioned great disputes and debates? [v. Epistle to Bewdley, p. 5, 6.]

Further, what if it were more ob∣scure than it is? Is not the New Testa∣ment as silent about Christian Kings, or any Christian Magistrates, or about an Oath before a Magistrate, and a∣bout War, and about the prohibited degrees of Marriage, and about the Sabbath, &c. Will you therefore say, these are not revealed? It it not e∣nough that they are revealed in the Old Testament? And was not Infants Church-membership revealed clearly there?

(6.) Another objection is, The evil * consequences of Infant-Baptism, as gross Ignorance much occasioned by it, &c. To which, 1. Is not the Lord Jesus himself the occasion of the ruine and damnation of multitudes, (Luk. 2. 34.) Had it been better therefore, Page  55 the World had been without him? And is not the Gospel to many, The Savour of Death unto Death, and to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Gentiles foolishness? And must the Gospel be blamed for this? What is it that Wicked men will not take hurt by, and make an occasion of their de∣struction? And have not many said so about the religious Education of chil∣dren, that it is but the way to make them Hypocrites? point-blank against the Will and Word of God, Deut. 6. 7. Prov. 22. 6. And do not many make * their belief of the Scripture, and be∣lieving that Christ died and rose again, and that he is the Saviour of the World, and the profession of his Name, to be the ground of their hopes of Sal∣vation, and thousands more, than that trust to their meer Baptism? And what if many amongst you think to be sa∣ved, because they are Baptized again? 2. Can you shew (any of you) what there is in the nature of the thing, that * should be hurtful to any? If a Child that cannot read, be entred into the School, that he may learn to read, is there any thing in this that tends to Page  56 delusion? If a Childs name be put into a Lease, is there any thing in this to do him hurt? 3. Was that the rea∣son of the delusion, and gross ignorance of the Jews, that they did not stay till they were at Age? Shall we thus make God the deluder, and blinder of the Jews, and accuse his Sacred Laws and Institutions of Errour? If it was an high favour to them to be entred in Infancy into the Church and Covenant, how comes it to be an hurt or wrong to us now? 4. Was the case of the Proselites among the Jews (being en∣tred at age) so much better than the case of their own children, and of all the Jews and their children? And had the Jews, Gods own people, less mercy * than those that were thus adjoyned to them? 5. If all should profess their Faith in Christ before they were entred, how quickly might the multitude learn such a profession, as none of you could reject upon any Scripture-ground? And might it not become customary, for∣mal, and consistent with great igno∣rance? And they that will make no conscience of the solemn Promise which their Parents made in their names, is it Page  57 likely that they will make ever the more Conscience of it, if they had made it first in their own names; seeing the violation of either will alike forfeit their Salvation? 6. Do not Ministers indeavour to take men off from such formality and self-delusions? And let them know, that their meer Baptism (whether in Infancy, or at Age) is not sufficient? 7. What if this were done, that when children come to Age, they must all solemnly, in the face of the Congregation personally own, and renew their Covenant? Why may not this engage them, as well as if they were Baptized then? Was every man that was Baptized at Age in the Apostles * times, necessarily to profess, that he believed in Christ with all his heart, (which indeed containeth the sum of the Covenant) yet may we not be bound to these disjunctively, (who by Gods Law are to be Baptized in Infancy) that each duty should be performed, as we are capable of it? 8. Would your way of Baptizing be likely to en∣gage men half so solemnly, as such a course; it being ordinarily in a man∣ner private, and done in such manner, Page  58 that persons of modesty will be so taken up with shame, that they will be less serious in the business.

9. If God would have Infants to be Church-members, and so entred by Baptism, are not all these objections against God, and a carping at his way?

Now (having enquired about the grounds and proofs, and defence of the * Church-membership, and Baptism of Infants,) next let us see, whether your practice of delaying Baptism have as much warrant in Gods word.

(1.) Where do you find one word of Precept or Example in all the Bible for deferring the Baptism of the Child of any one Christian till years of discre∣tion? Should not you bring some Scri∣pture * for your way, who require such express proof from us? Now can you shew one word of command or exam∣ple here? If you cannot, how can you say that yours is the Scripture-way?

(2.) Is not your way inconsistent with obedience to the Rule? Is it not Christs Rule, that persons shall be Bap∣tised without delay, when they are first made Disciples? Doth not this appear in the Commission, Mat. 28. 19, 20. Page  59 where Christ adjoyneth Baptizing im∣mediately to Discipling? And from constant example in Scripture, explain∣ing the Commission? Where do we find mention of any one person, that was Baptized long after being disci∣pled? And from the end and use of Bap∣tism?* Is not this the use of Baptism, to be the sign of their first Covenant with Christ, and solemn admission into the Church? Then is it not to be used at their first Admission? (If any reason of necessity or convenience, cause it to be put off a few days; yet this is not delaying it months and years, (as you do) though indeed there is no war∣rant in Scripture for any delay at all, but as necessity may excuse it.) Now, though you yield the use of the sign to * them when they come to Age, yet what is it but an empty sign, quite be∣side Christs Institution, and void of the true end of Baptism? for how can it then be the initiating sign to those that have been long in the Church before? I the children of Christians are disci∣ples * in their Infancy, then how can you that Baptise them not till they come to Age, (in so doing) Baptise Page  60 them when they are first Disciples? And further, suppose this were not pro∣ved, that Infants are Disciples, yet if you cannot know when such children are first discipled (except it be in their Infancy) how can you Baptise them when they are first discipled? Taking discipleship at present in your own sense, and setting aside the considera∣tion of meer Relative Infant-disciple∣ship, how can you know it, since God useth to work such as are born and brought up of Christian Parents to the acknowledgment of Christ by such in∣sensible degrees, that the beginning of their true acknowledgment is ordina∣rily unperceivable? Again, seeing such do not usually know themselves when they were first disciples (in this sense) how much less can others know it?

(3.) Would not this practice (of * yours) necessarily fill the Church with perpetual contentions, as being about a matter, that cannot be determined by any known Rule? And can that be according to the mind and will of Christ? If the Gospel occasioneth con∣tentions, doth it any more than occa∣sion them? But would not this natu∣rally, Page  61 and necessarily produce them? And that in the Churches, and amongst * the best Ministers and Christians? When would the Churches or Mini∣sters ever agree upon it, when their understanding, or seeming seriousness is arrived at that degree, which must satisfie? Whereas it is easily known to all, and can be no controversie, when a man begins to profess himself * a Disciple, who was before a Pagan; yet when one is born in the Bosome of the Church, and brought up in the profession of Christianity, and so comes to it by insensible degrees, is not the case far different?

(4.) When you pretend to ground your practice on Mat. 28. 19, 20. from whence you would infer, that none are to be Baptised, but those that are first made Disciples by teaching, (though the truth is, that indirectly, and remote∣ly, the discipling of the Parent, is a dis∣cipling of his seed also) would not your Doctrine turn Baptism, (for the most part) out of the Churches of the Saints? According to you, only they that are made disciples by Ministerial teaching directly, should by this Rule Page  62 be Baptized, and in a well-ordered godly Church would not these be few, or none? Taking [Disciple] in your sense for a Professor of Christianity, hath not God appointed another pri∣mary, more ordinary way of making Disciples of the children of the Godly, viz. godly education? Hath not God commanded the use of this means to all Parents, that they teach them the Law of God, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord from their childhood? And may we not conclude, that God appoints no means to be used, from which he will ordinarily withdraw his Grace, or to which he will deny his Blessing, if it be used aright? (though the Word con∣vert many that have neglected their * Parents, or have been neglected by them.) And further, doth not experi∣ence confirm it, that God frequently * blesseth this means? Now, according to you, how many thousands are there that should never be Baptized, because they were not first made Disciples by Teaching, according to the sense of Mat. 28. 19. which is Ministerial Teaching?

Page  63 (5) Your ordinary practice of Bap∣tizing * by Dipping over head in cold water, (which you use as necessary) is it not a breach of the Sixt Command∣ment, Thou shalt not kill. Being ordi∣narily and generally used, doth it not tend directly to overthrow peoples health and lives? How vain is it to say, that many are appointed the use of Bathing, as a Remedy against Di∣seases? Is it an Universal Remedy? yea, how few Diseases have cold Baths appointed them? And how many that have been tenderly brought up, and take but little of the cold Air, that dipping in cold weather in cold water in the course of nature would kill, ei∣ther presently, or by casting them into some Chronical Disease? Will you say, if it be Gods way, he will prevent the * danger, how great soever? But hath God appointed any Ordinance con∣tradictory to his great Moral Com∣mands? Hath he appointed any Or∣dinance in his Church, which will de∣stroy men, except they be preserved by Miracle? Will you say, he hath tied himself to a constant working of Mi∣racles, (which he hath not done, ex∣cept Page  62〈1 page duplicate〉Page  63〈1 page duplicate〉Page  64 the Doctrine of Transubstantiation be true?) May we tempt God? And have you duly considered what our Sa∣viour saith, Mat. 12. 7. If you had learn∣ed what this meaneth, I will have Mercy, and not Sacrifice, ye would not have con∣demned the guiltless?—If in case of * danger, you should have, and allow of a warm Bath, should not you that are wont to call for express Scripture for Infant-Baptism, be required to bring express Scripture for this warm Bath?—If you say, they may stay till the heat of Summer, where have you any Scripture for that?

Farther, is it yet proved by any of you, that Dipping was constantly used in the Scripture-times. Is it plain, or so much as probable, that the Jaylor was dipt over head, who was Baptized in the night in his house? And does not the Greek word signifie to Wash, as well as to Dip? Is it not so taken, when applied to other things, as Mar. 7. 4, 8, &c. And is not the thing signi∣fied set forth by the phrase of Washing or Sprinkling? and need the Sign ex∣ceed the thing signified? (See Isa. 44. 3. Ezek. 36. 25. Joel 2. 28. 1 Cor. 6. 11. Page  65Tit. 3. 5. Heb. 10. 22. and 12. 24. 1 Pet. 1. 2.) And if it was otherwise, might it not be only occasional, from a Reason proper to those hot Countries? Where hath Christ appointed the measure of water, or the manner of washing, any more than he hath appointed in the Lords Supper what quantity of Bread and Wine each must take? May not a little signifie as well as much; as a clod of Earth doth in giving possession of much Lands, &c.

(6.) Is it not a breach of the seventh * Commandment, [Thou shalt not com∣mit Adultery] to Dip persons naked, or next to naked? Doth not the seventh Commandment forbid all incitements to uncleanness, and all immodest acti∣ons? And is it not such, to Baptize Women naked, or next to naked? * Can that practice be of God, which would turn Gods worship into con∣tempt, and make it ridiculous, and bring a general reproach upon the Christian profession among all the E∣nemies of it, yea, among the most so∣ber and discreet, and that upon so probable grounds? And to Dip per∣sons cloathed, will it not overthrow *Page  66 the Argument usually brought for the necessity of washing the whole Body? Though the garment be washed, yet may it not hinder the washing of some parts of the Body?

(7.) (What fruit of these things?) How many of you, that instead of * labouring after the winning of Souls from sin to God, make it the main scope of your endeavours in publick and private, to propagate your opini∣ons? How many of you make a great * stir, till you have brought poor Souls (which is too easily done) to place their Religion, in being of your opini∣on here, and being re-baptized? How many of you are great hinderers of the Gospel, and of the work of converting * Souls, making it your business to bring the Ministers of the Gospel into con∣tempt? Whether may not this be one thing that greatly confirmeth men in their enmity to the Doctrine of the Gospel, and the Preachers thereof, when they hear those despise the Mi∣nistry, that once were constant hear∣ors? yea, hear them perswading peo∣ple, that Ministers are Seducers, false Prophets, &c. (As if the first thing Page  [unnumbered] they had to learn, was to scon their Teachers.) What way could be found out more effectual to make people disregard and despise the Gospel, and so to ruin their own Souls, than thus to teach them to vilifie the Messengers of the Gospel, and perswade them that it is a vertue to reproach and forsake their Guides? And whether the most of you do well, that have made your Doctrine a ground of separation? And that perswade people, that it is a sin to hear our pretended Ministers, (as they have been called) because they were never Baptized? If you can make them believe, that the Ministers are Seducers, and that it is a Sin to * hear them, what good are they like∣ly to receive by that Ministry? And what a case was the Land in, if all did believe, as some of you teach? And where the Gospel before prosper∣ed, * and Christians spent their time and conference in the edifying of each others Souls, and in heavenly duties, and lived together in unity and love, (according to the great command of Christ) have not many of you (when you have come) turned this to vain Page  [unnumbered] janglings, and unprofitable disputes, and turned their Unity into Factions and Divisions, and their Amity into Jealousies and Contentions? yea, how * many a distracted family is there in Eng∣land (upon this account) where one will pray, and the other will not pray with him, because he is unbaptized, who were wont to Worship God in unity?

And here I would have ended. Only there are two or three Queries more which offer themselves, that I com∣mend to your serious consideration.

Q. 1. Whether it be at all credible * that Satan would be so charitable to Believers Infants, as to plead for their priviledges; or would be a propagater of Christs Kingdom, and forward to engage and bring in Subjects and Dis∣ciples to him?

Q. 2. Whereas we tell sinners of the * hainous aggravation of their sins, as being committed after Baptism, and after their solemn Vow and Covenant made to God; whether you that make Infant-Baptism a nullity, dare under∣take to bear the burthen of this Ag∣gravation for them? And whether you may tell sinners (that we do but serve Page  [unnumbered] them, as some serve foolish children, Fright them with Bug-bears) that there is no such matter, they were never Baptized, and therefore never sinned against their Baptism: they were never so engaged to God, and therefore ne∣ver sinned against that engagement? Will you warrant them, that they ne∣ver need to repent for their sinning against their Baptism, and the Cove∣nant then made? Or will you bear the blame for them?

Q. 3. Whether it should not lie heavy on any tender conscience to add * to Gods Word, holding the repeal of the Ordinance of Infants Church-membership, which no Scripture af∣firmeth; to be guilty of the Churches doleful Divisions, and the great grief that hereby oppresseth the hearts of so many of Gods people; to censure (if not unchurch) all the Churches of Christ since the Apostles times, or al∣most all—? And all this in contend∣ing, that your own children are out of Christs visible Church? How doleful * is it, that any Christians should be so zealous to dispute their own children out of Christs Church; and to plead Page  [unnumbered] that they have no right to be admit∣ted Members, that they are no Disci∣ples of Christ, no Christians?

And whether they that are zealous * in solliciting men not to engage their Children in Covenant with God, may not have as many thanks from Christ, as the Disciples had for keeping such from him?