A few Notes upon the Querist Examined.
YOur Anti-Queries, very lately sent me by one of your party, as [A full Answer to the Fifty Queries,] I have considered imparti∣ally, I hope; and cannot think them worthy of a Book in Answer: Yet that you might not take my Silence either for consent, or for a contempt, I have written these few pages here.
Now in the first place I must tell you, Those Fifty Queries will remain unanswered, until that Book of Mr. Baxters be answered, to which every Query refers, which, for ought I know, you never yet lookt into. * And whe∣ther your Anti-Queries, so far as they concern the main point in Question, be not cut off, and answered again and again in that Book, and divers other extant, and common, I leave to the judgment of indifferent Readers.
Page 2 Further I might tell you of your playing upon the word, [Church,] Antiq. 1. p. 1. which is immediately ex∣plained in my first Query, by Kingdom of God, which prevents your exception. And I might take notice of your new∣covn'd Term, [Practical Ordinance,] which you have so often, as if there were some other Ordinances, specula∣tive, or not practical. I might take notice of your Illogical distinction, of being a Member of the Church Essen∣tially, and being a Member Formally, Anti. 18. p. 14. And your not allow∣ing an universal Visible Church, Antiq. 16. p. 12. I might take notice how you misunderstand, or misapply those Texts, Except ye eat the Flesh of—(Joh. 6. 53.) And, Except a man be born of water—(Joh. 3. 5.) As if the former spake of the Lords Supper, and the latter of Baptism, (vid. Antiq. p. 5.) Again, I might take notice of your shooting short, in many of your Anti∣queries. As because there was a time when Infants within the Church were not devoted to God by any such en∣gaging sign, as Circumcision, or Bap∣tism, no such engaging sign being then Page 3 instituted; therefore Infants are not to be so solemnly devoted to God, when such an engaging sin is instituted, and belongeth to all within the Church. And your shooting wide is plain in some others. I might tell you, how you have the same things over and over again. Though you accuse me of con∣tinual tautologizing, Antiq. 38. p. 30. I am willing, the Impartial Reader should judge, whether of us be most guilty here. Turpe est Doctori, &c. I take notice of your citing Mr. Baxters Cure of Church-Divisions, p. 7. no less than thrice, (soil. in Preface, and p. 10. and p. 32.) yet a man may turn thrice to p. 7. in that book of Mr. Baxter for that which you refer unto, and lose his labour. So I take notice of your vain flourishing, and braving it with Mr. T's confident challenge, both in the end of your Preface, [And know this, &c.] and again, Antiq. 49 p. 38, 39. (when also you shoot wide, not one word to my Query.) As concerning Mr. Baxter, I may say, Know this, that others that are sober and judicious, tell him, he hath clear'd those points sufficiently, that any further debatePage 4 concerning them is needless. Further I might take notice of the many [Et caetera's] you have put to my Queries, sometimes leaving out what was most lively to pinch; yea, you cut off the chief part of fiftieth and last Query, without so much as an &c. unless it was the Printers fault. Again, I might take notice where you are not very consistent with, but rather contradict your self One or two places I may have occasion to observe.
But I must take notice of your fair concessions, and I thank you for them. I will not dispute it with you, whether these of yours be properly called, Anti∣queries? Let the preposition〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 be either pro or con, with you, I should not spend time in criticising on the word. But whether in composition, the word of an Apostle or Messenger of the Churches, (as I have heard, some do call you) should be both yea and nay, may be a question.
Now, what do these following Que∣ries o• yours imply, [Antiq. 5. p. 4. Whe∣ther the Baptists do not as clearly assert Infants right to the grace of God in the first Edition of the Covenant made withPage 5 Adam as any whatsoever? Antiq. 10. p. 9. As for the gracious Covenant made with Adam, do we not grant that it extends to Infants? yea, we say with Mr. Baxter, it was never abrogated. Antiq 19. p. 14. Whether the Blessing of Abraham (if you understand it of Eternal Life) was not the Blessing of the Fathers that were be∣fore him? And whether that Blessing did not belong to their Infants? (which is not at all opposite to my 19 Query. And in what follows there, you plainly shoot short, as I noted before.) And Antiq. 23. p. 17. you fairly grant, that Promises made to the Seed of the Righ∣teous, to the children of them that Love God, &c. are unrevoked, you doubt not but these Promises yet remain. (Though I confess, I do not well under∣stand what you mean by those words, Antiq. 21. p. 16. Whether all men that follow the rules of Morality, are not with∣in the reach of these Blessings also? These you speak of, are either Righteous, and such as love God, or they are not. If they be such, then certainly they be∣long to the Universal Church, and are real Members of it; if they are not such, then they have not an interest in Page 6 the promise made to such as love God, neither can they lay claim to Blessings promised.) But to go on with your concessions: Antiq. 11. p. 9. And whe∣ther the difference between the Baptists and Paedobaptists, be not chiefly (if not only) about imposing Ceremonies upon Infants? Antiq. 12. p. 10. Seeing the Baptists may and do in a good sense ac∣knowledge Infants to be related to the Church, viz. by Redemption, pious De∣dication to God, &c. Antiq. 30. p. 23. And who denies Infants to be capable of Infant-Relation, Obligation, or Right? Or who opposeth their being devoted to God in their capacity? Antiq. 31. p. 24. Whether you do not greatly wrong your self, and those you call Anabaptists, in saying, they vehemently plead against devoting their Children to God? yea, sure they do it actually, as far as Gods word requires.—Prove if you can, that you your selves do consent to the Covenant of grace for your Infants, more than we, whom you call Anabaptists.] Here we have (as you say in your Preface) your
You grant, Antiq. 6. p. 4. and Antiq. 22. p. 16. That Infants are of the Re∣deemed Church. And in the close of Antiq. 25. p. 19. That Infants still re∣tain Member-ship in the Invisible Church. And Antiq. 16. p. 13. They are Mem∣bers of the Universal Church (invisible, you mean, for you like not of an Uni∣versal Church Visible.) And otherwise (as you say) How shall they be saved, seeing Christ is only the Saviour of hisPage 8Body. Only I query whether it be not a contradiction, when you say, Antiq. 28. p. 21. How can Infants be said to be a spiritual Seed: Are any but a spi∣ritual Seed, Members of the Invisible Church? Are not they a spiritual Seed that are of Christs Body, and saved by him?
But if Infants be not Members of the Visible Church, how can you prove they are Members of the Invisible Church? To be probably Members of the Invisible Church, is to be Members of the Visible Church, or Visible Church-Members. Further, you say, The Bap∣tists do in a good sense acknowledge In∣fants to be related to the Church, viz. by Redemption, pious Dedication to God, &c. (Antiq. 12. pag. 10. before-cited) now do but make sense of it, and I have enough. Either these Infants visibly belong, to the Kingdom of Christ, or to the Kingdom of Satan: (for these two Kingdoms divide and share the whole world, that such as are not of the one, are certainly of the other; and such as are not visibly of the one, are visibly of the other) And will you say, that such as are of the Page 9Redeemed-Church, related to the Church by Redemption, and further related by Pious Dedication to God, &c. are vi∣sibly the seed of the Serpent, and of the Kingdom of Satan.
But this [Pious Dedication] leads me to another of your self-contradicti∣ons. Antiq. 30. p. 23. Where are Chri∣stian Parents required to devote their children, by consenting to any Covenant for them? (Though you grant there, the Jews were required to Covenant for their children in matters of Religion.) And yet under the next Anti-query, p. 24. you say, Prove if you can, that you your selves do consent to the Cove∣nant of grace for your Infants, more than we. How properly may these be cal∣led Anti-queries? Or to get off, will you say, you consent to the Covenant of grace for the Infants? but not as a thing required?
I gave you thanks before, for some things granted concerning Infants, and I here promise more thanks, if you will prove the same of all Infants. This you insinuate, p. 5. Seeing then all Infants (for ought you know) have the same right—But I doubt, your proof of this Page 8〈1 page duplicate〉Page 9〈1 page duplicate〉Page 10 point will be as lame and weak, as your sentence there is imperfect, and abrupt. You should not wrong us, To say, we restrain the love and grace of God to such Infants as (in your new phrase) partake with Parents in practi∣cals of Religion, (Antiq. 3. p. 2.) as if we held, that no Infant (dying unbaptized) could be saved, is a charge, you can∣not prove. Antiq. 4. p. 3. Whether the Parents consent to wickedness is the childs consent?] Peruse Mr. Baxter of Origi∣nal Sin. You your self do not deny, (Antiq. 7. p. 6.) but the wickedness of Parents may expose their Infant-children to external calamities. Yea, Antiq. 21. p. 16. whoever doubted, but that Infants are—greatly disadvantaged by the wick∣edness of their Parents, even so as to bear their Fathers iniquities many times, as is evident in the overthrow of the old World, &c.) Now God is not injust in what he inflicts on such children. If they bear the Fathers iniquities, they are some way guilty with their Pa∣rents.
You enquire further, Antiq. 4. p. 3. And whether this do not give the Parents power to save, or damn their Infants?Page 11 But you will not say, I suppose, that you are your own Saviour, when you per∣form the condition of the Covenant, to which Salvation for Christs sake is graciously promised. Neither will we say, that any Infants perish purely for anothers sin, or the Parents sin only imputed; but for their own contracted. (As Mr. Baxter of Original Sin, p. 135.)
The overthrow of both those Gene∣rations in the deluge, (spoken of Gen. 6.) is a strange Medium to prove the Salvation of all their Infants, which you hint at, Antiq. 7. p. 6 And Rom. 5. 18. which you there cite, will no more prove, that all Infants (that die Infants) are saved; then that all men are saved. The free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. This [all] must be limited to all in Christ.
Antiq. 22. p. 16. Whether God hath not said, that His ways are all equal? And whether this do not secure Infants of Gods mercy—when God saith, that the Son shall not bear the Iniquity of the Father, and every one shall bear his own Iniquity, whether this be not a promise of Mercy to Infant-children, and that in respect of Eternal Life?] Here you im∣ply, Page 12 that Gods ways are not equal, if he shew not Mercy on all Infants, if he give not Eternal li〈◊〉e unto all that die Infants. And if you take these words [every one shall bear his own Ini∣quity] to be a promise of Eternal life to all Infants, as such; you must hold, that no Infant hath any iniquity to bear, and so wholly deny the doctrine of Original sin, (which I perceive you do; though you will never be able to answer the Arguments, and Scripture-evidence brought to prove it.) But you misapply the Scripture. What is spo∣ken of the Adult, you apply to Infants, (a very common mistake of those of your way and perswasion.) In the 18. of Ezek. the Lord pleads with men that had too good a conceit of them∣selves, and would cast the blame on others, if they suffered, as if they themselves were guiltless, Vers. 2. The Fathers have eaten sour Grapes, and the childrens Teeth are set on edge.] q. d. Our Fathers have sinned, and we their children smart, and suffer for it. Now the Lord, to shew that his ways are e∣qual, declares, that he that is righte∣ous, shall live, vers. 5. &c. But if such Page 13 a one hath a Son that proves wicked, that Son shall die, vers. 10. &c. Again, if the Son of a wicked man sees, and abhors his Fathers wicked courses, if he be righteous, he shall live, and shall not bear his Fathers iniquity, v. 14. &c. yea, if a man have been never so wick∣ed, yet if he repent, and turn, he shall surely live, vers. 21. &c. But in all this there is no promise of Eternal life to all the Infant-seed of the wicked.
Antiq. 37. p. 29. And where are we taught to doubt the Salvation of the In∣fants of Pagans?] Sometimes we are troubled at some of your way, that they seem to allow us no more ground of hope, concerning the Seed of the Faithful, then concerning the Seed of the Heathen and Pagans. But if it be so clear, that none are to doubt the Salvation of the Infants of Pagans, we should rest satisfied, and think it enough that the children of the faithful are put into so good a condition. But I told you (in my Treatise of the Cove∣nants, p. 359.) That to assert the Sal∣vation of all that die in Infancy, seems to imply, that Gods destroying the old world, and Sodom, &c. were eminent Page 14Acts of Mercy, rather then of Justice; wherein such multitude of Souls were sent to Heaven together, who if they had lived, had probably (at least the greatest part of them) gone to Hell. I desire you would remove this doubt of mine. So likewise I cannot yet recon∣cile your opinion with that Reason the Lord gives for his sparing Nineveh, Jonas 4. 11. (which I also there took notice of.) Had there not been more Mercy, suppose the Lord had taken a∣way above sixscore thousand little ones, that were not come to the use of reason, if then they had all been undoubtedly saved; then in sparing them with the City, whereupon pro∣bably not one of very many of them was saved. Help me over this doubt. And if the Salvation of Pagans-Infants is not to be doubted, (as you suggest) then suppose the French King should have power to over-run all the Pagan countries in the world, though he spoil∣ed, plundered, fired all the Towns where he came; yet provided he did but withal slay all their little ones, then will it not follow, that he might be looked upon as a greater Blessing than Page 15 Scourge to the world? Had the world your light and knowledge, they must conclude, that they ought not to be so sorry for the spoiling of their Coun∣tries, (a temporal calamity) as they should rejoyce, (have cause of rejoy∣cing indeed) that all their little ones were undoubtedly saved, certainly sent to Heaven. And then what shall we make of Eph. 2. 3. And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others? And v. 12. That all that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the Common-wealth of Israel, and stran∣gers from the Covenants of Promise, ha∣ving no hope, and without God in the world. Having no hope.] If there be no ground to doubt of the Salvation of their Infants? is not here some hope?
But have you not forgotten that you told us, you do not doubt, but the promises made to the Seed of the Righteous, and the promise of shew∣ing mercy to the children of them that love God, &c. remain unrevoked? How are those promises made to their Seed, as such, if as great mercy be ensured, and secured, procured by the Page 16 death of Christ, to and for all Infants that die Infants, (as you intimate An∣tiq. 37. p. 14. and in other places? And when you would have the blessing of Abraham (understanding it of eternal life) to belong to the Infants of the Gen∣tiles, (as Antiq. 19. p. 14.) if you un∣derstand, and take in the Infants of the unbelieving, as well as believing Gen∣tiles; then do not you forget that Ex∣pression, Gal. 3. 14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles. As to their Infants, you here suppose it to have been on them all along, and not to come on them, by their Parents receiving the Promise through faith. According to your opinion, all Infants are, and ever were blessed with faith∣ful Abraham, notwithstanding many of the Parents have been, and are Pagans, Infidels, and such as the word Pro∣nounces under a Curse. Now, how may divers of your own party (such as you call Baptists) justly object that to you, which without ground they are wont to object against us? you would make the promise of Salvation run unto a fleshly line indeed, (as Mr. Baxter notes in his Review, p. 33.) And Page 17who can forbid water, (now that Bap∣tism is the initiatory Sign and Seal of the Covenant) to any dying Infant of a Pagan, since he may be confident the Blessings of the Covenant belong to it?
You query ubi supra, (Antiq. 37. p. 29.) Will not the second Adams obedi∣ence salve the first Adams disobedience? And Antiq. 38. p. 30. Whether the me∣ritoriousness of Christ is not as avail∣able to save Infants, without any mans acceptance thereof for them?] I doubt not, but the second Adams obedience and merits are available, so far as was intended, and agreed betwixt the Fa∣ther and him. But it lies on you to prove, that it was so intended and a∣greed, that all Infants, so dying, shall absolutely be saved.
Antiq. 37. p. 29. Whether it be his will, that the grace of that Covenant should depend upon others observation of the condition for them? And whether this be not to put the Salvation of Infants out of his own hand?] Infants are not saved by the Covenant of grace, which is [to Believers and their Seed;] if they neither be Believers, nor the Seed of Page 18 such. Only that I be not misunder∣stood, I add, If any that enjoy not the Gospel, that never heard that joyful sound, come up to the terms of the Covenant of Grace made with Adam and Noah, I rank not them and their Seed with Infidels.
To what you say of Gods, [putting the Salvation of Infants out of his own hand:] I need say but this, you might as well query, whether God put not the Salvation of the Adult out of his own hand, if their Salvation be sus∣pended on performance of the condi∣tion required.
One thing more I cannot but ob∣serve, (wherein I suppose you are a lit∣tle singular also) In Antiq. 26. p. 19. You make your Imposition of hands as generally pertaining to Members of the Church, as Baptism. (Where I might note, that you seem to grant, Bap∣tism generally pertains to the Mem∣bers of the Church. (But that by the way.) Now elsewhere * you tell us, that [In this holy Ordinance of Prayer and Imposition of hands, we are in a so∣lemn manner ushered into the promise of the holy Spirit.] You go on, [ImpositionPage 19of hands doth put us in a better capa∣city to seek daily for the gifts and graces of the Spirit; because now solemnly inte∣rested in the promise, by that very way the primitive Saints were interested therein, Act. 8. 15, 17. Act. 19. 2, 6. 2. Tim. 1. 6. Heb. 6. 1, 2.—What shall I say? The Scriptures (or, these Scriptures) are evidence sufficient, that this Crdi∣nance is of Divine Institution, is from Heaven; the promise which it leads to, is perpetual, and universal, it belongs to the whole body. There is one Body, and one Spirit, &c. This is the conclusion of the Sermon, (p. 96, 97.) And what gifts of the Spirit you speak of is very plain, throughout the Sermon. For brevity, I will mention but one place, (p. 77.) Thus you see the Church being under perpetual Exhortations, to seek for spiritual gifts [without any restri∣ction,] necessarily infers her perpetual right to them, and every of them; which consideration alone is sufficient (as I con∣ceive) to satisfie any Christian, that the promise of the Spirit (even the same that was given to the first Churches) in re∣spect of gifts as well as graces, belongs to the Church of Christ throughout all Ages.
Page 20 Now if Imposition of hands generally pertains to all the Members of the Church, and solemnly interesteth them in the promise of the Spirit, methinks it should follow, that all such Mem∣bers, on whom you lay your hands, (supposing you have right to do it, as you take up the practice, if I be not mis-informed) should have some ex∣traordinary gifts of the Spirit. And I have reason to think, you encourage your followers to submit to this Impo∣sition, by working in them such a per∣swasion and expectation. For (p. 88. of the forecited Sermon) you have these words, As the promise of gifts (as well as graces) [pertains to us as we are the called of God] we ought to stir one another up, to seek with all dili∣gence, and [full assurance] for the Spi∣rit of promise. And p. 95. 'Tis well known (and I think granted on all hands) that they (i. e. the Primitive Churches) used the solemn Ordinance of Prayer and Imposition of hands, for obtaining the promised Spirit, at least with respect to these gifts.—Then seeing these gifts are promised to us as well as unto them, and are attainable, and in part (at least) at∣tainedPage 21by many, what should hinder the Churches, but that now they should tread in this path, with faith, and [full assu∣rance] that a blessing is in it? But while you call for full assurance here, I am full of doubt, that you have no such Promise, nor Commission for your practice [of Imposition of hands, for con∣ferring the gifts of the Holy Ghost.] Take heed of pretending a Commission from Heaven; take heed of counterfeiting Heavens Seal. Oh, be afraid of tak∣ing Gods Name in vain. Will you herein imitate the Apostles? May it not be said of you, you know not what Spirit you are of? May you not as well take upon you, to lay hands on the Sick to heal them? Because of that, Mark 16. 18. They shall lay hands on the Sick, and they shall recover: or, anoint them with Oyl in the Name of the Lord, because of what you read, Mark 6. 13. Jam. 5. 14. I dare not limit God or his holy Spirit: and I desire, that you may not tempt him. When you have pleaded all you can for the con∣tinuance of those extraordinary gifts, and for the promise of them being per∣petual universal to the whole body, Page 22 and pertaining to us as we are the cal∣led of God, (whereupon it follows, that they should pertain to all that are cal∣led of God) yet experience will con∣fute you, and prove, they are not so ordinary. When you make Prayer and Imposition of hands, The means ordained of God to obtain those gifts, (Ser. p. 94. * 95.) I might retort some of your own words, Antiq. 33. p. 25. Shew us what benefit, &c. And Antiq. 39. pag. 31. Name one—Name one that hath re∣ceived those gifts of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of your hands. If the gift of healing, &c. was seen to follow, these might draw in more to you then your Writing or Disputing. And I wish you would be advised, ere you encou∣rage all your hearers to seek for Spi∣ritual gifts, without any restriction; lest Women seek to Prophesy; or men seek new Revelations, and so turn En∣thusiasts, and think themselves above Mans teaching.
There is enough to be said against your Imposition of hands; though I have nothing to say against Confirmation, being duly and orderly performed; but have long wisht for the Restoring Page 23 of it. So I have nothing against Im∣position of hands, in setting apart per∣sons that are proved, and fitted to the work of the Ministry. But this per∣tains not to every Member of the Church.
I can pass by what you say of me, that I am worse for my Baptism in In∣fancy, as resting upon that, &c. Antiq. 40. p. 32. Doth not your Conscience tell you, that the Baptism of Men and Wo∣men upon profession of faith and repen∣tance, is beyond the reach of contradi∣ction?] The Baptising of such as were without the Church, or were first of the Jewish Church, and to be afterwards admitted into the Christian Church, upon the profession of Faith and Re∣pentance, is plain in Scripture, not to be contradicted. But this contradict∣eth not the Baptising of the Infants of such, being also to be acknowledged Church-Members. Neither can you shew in all the New-Testament one instance of any Baptised upon their profession, who deferred their Chil∣drens Baptism (if Infants) till they were grown up, and able to make the like profession.
Page 24 But to come a little nearer to you; would you have none but Men and Women Baptised? Then do you not forget your self again? and what you said, Antiq. 39. p. 31. Who is against as early an engagement of children to God, as can lawfully be made?] Now this one concession of yours, that you are for as early an engaging them to God, as can lawfully be, will prove your way not so certain, not altogether clear, (as you would perswade your Readers in your Preface) not beyond the reach of contradiction, but full of doubts, full of difficulties. If the children of Christians are not to be engaged, and devoted to God in their Infancy, you can none of you tell, (how then are you like to agree) at what age they are to be so engaged, and devoted to God? What think you? Is it not sinful to neglect and put it off, when once it might lawfully be done? Now what word, what Example can you produce out of Scripture, to sa∣tisfie Conscience how early you may do it? What was the youngest Age that ever any Christians child was Baptised at? And if you could tell us the Page 25minimum quod sic, and quod non, the youngest age at which any child was Baptised, and under which age none might be Baptised, it would be some guide to us. Because you put the matter to my Conscience, I would speak seriously. And so I must say, was I off from the grounds of Infant-Baptism, I cannot see, how Conscience would be well satisfied about the time of Bap∣tizing my own Children. To defer it after they are come to make a visible profession, by your own Principles, should be concluded sinful, against the Rule of the Gospel; but how soon a Childs profession may be taken for a sufficient visible profession, I should not know how to resolve, or how to de∣termine.
I have one request to you, that you would take into your more serious thoughts that part of the last Query which you left out. Think how much of it you have granted unto. And let us study the things that make for Peace, and whereby we may edifie one another.
What you seem to hide from your Readers, I shall give you the substance Page 26 of (more briefly) out of Mr. Baxters Review, p. 27.
The Lord direct all his professing people into the way of Truth, and Peace, so prays
Your Friend J. B.
Page 27 After this brief Reply to your Anti∣queries, * I would propound to you these following Queries out of Mr. B's first defence, or plain Scripture-proof, &c. desiring your serious thoughts upon them. If you say, they are answered already in Mr. Ts writings, then it will be more easie for you to return an Answer, which if clear and succinct, may more befriend your cause than greater volumes.
1. Is not the Scripture more sparing * in such cases as these?
1. In speaking of those to whom it speaks not, as concerning the Hea∣then, and concerning Infants? 2. In lesser points? 3. In points not then questioned? 4. Does not the New-Testament speak more sparingly of that which is more fully discovered in the * old? And is not this the very case here? The main Question not being [By what sign Members are to be ad∣mitted into the Church,] or [whether by a sign, or without?] but [At what age they are to be admitted Members?] which is as fully determined in the old Testament, as most things in the Page 28 Bible; and therefore what need any more?
2. Will the difficulty of a point, that it is not so easie or clear as we would have it, prove, that it is not Truth? The Apostle Peter tells us many things * are hard to be understood, even in Pauls Epistles; yet are they not truths for all that? Are there not many weighty Controversies more difficult than this? (And should it not be con∣sidered, whether the contrary hath not far less evidence and likelihood of Truth?)
3. If never so clear evidence of Truth be produced, will it not still be dark to them that are uncapable of discerning it? And is not this the case of many, even of the godly, that are * but children in knowledge?
4. When the case is so difficult that we cannot attain to a clearness and certainty, must we not follow the more probable way? And though there should be far more said against Infant-Baptism than hath been said; * yet if far more may be said against your way of Baptism, should not this stop you?
Page 29 5. And is it not a spirit of rashness and headiness, that runs men presently * upon new untried ways, upon every doubting about the old? would not tender Consciences, who know errors to be dangerous, wait, and pray, and * enquire of those that are likely to in∣form them, &c. before they venture?
6. Is the overthrow of a mans for∣mer weak grounds, the overthrow of the Truth which he held? Or is the * overthrow of other mens weak argu∣ments a weakning of the Truth which they maintain?
7. Is not one found Argument e∣nough to prove any thing true? what if all the Texts that are brought were put by, save one, is not that enough?
8. Should not the former and pre∣sent customs of the holiest Saints and Churches, be of great weight with humble moderate Christians in cases controverted, and beyond their reach?
9. Are not evident consequences, or * Arguments drawn by reason from Scri∣pture, as true proof, as the very ex∣press words of a Text? If it be proved, [that all Church-Members must be ad∣mitted by Baptism.] And then proved, Page 30 [That Infants are Church-Members:] is not this as much, as to prove, They must be Baptized? Will you allow of such an Argument for Infant-Baptism as Christ brought for the Resurrection? (Mat. 22. 31, 32.) or will you call that weak arguing, which is like his?
10. Is this Controversie in it self * considered, of so great moment, as some make it? Is it a fundamental point, and duty, of absolute necessity to salvation, (why then was not Bap∣tism in the Creed called the Apostles?] Mark. 16. 16. saith only, He that be∣lieveth*not is condemned; not, He that is not Baptised. Doth not the Apo∣stle speak of Baptizing, as a small part of his work, in comparison of Preach∣ing, 1 Cor. 1. 14, 17. Though all Christs commands, both great and small, must be obeyed, so far as we know them; yet if Christians make that which is comparatively so small a point, a chief part of their study and conference, and lay out at least one half of their zeal about it, are not such deluded? And if they were in the Truth here, yet is not that Truth a snare to them?
Now to the Question, [whether some Infants ought not to be Baptized?]
(1.) Ought not all Christs Disciples * ordinarily to be Baptized? (Mat. 28. 19. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, make ye Disciples, Baptizing them,) And are not some In∣fants Christs Disciples? May not the word [Disciple] be taken in a larger * sense, Relatively; for one that is of the number of those that belong to Christ, as Master and King of the Church, and devoted to his oversight and rule, and teaching for the future: as well as in a narrower sense, for those who are actual Learners? And
(1.) Doth not the Holy Ghost call * them Disciples? Acts 15. 10. Is it not evident, that those on whose necks the false Teachers would have laid the yoke, were Disciples? If you say, not All, but some of them are here called Disciples, * that is, only them at Age; then will it not follow, that it is but some only, whose Circumcision the Apostle and the Synod doth conclude against, that Page 32 is, those of age? Then for any thing the Apostle saith, or this Synod, all Infants might be circumcised still: and is not this absurd?
2. If no Infants are Disciples, what * is the cause? Is it because they are not capable? or because God will not shew them such mercy? Can you find out a third cause, which is not redu∣cible to one of these? And 1. If In∣fants are capable of being servants of God, how can they be thought incapa∣ble of being Disciples? If you will make a difference, is not more requi∣red to a Servant, than to a Disciple?* Yet is it not plain, that Infants are capable of being Gods Servants? Lev. 25. 41, 42. If God call Infants his Ser∣vants, though they are uncapable at present of doing him Service, what forbids, but that we may call them Disciples, tho at present they are un∣capable of learning? Were not the Jews and their Infants called Gods servants in a sense peculiar, as chosen * and separated from all others; that the Gentiles at age were not so Gods servants, as the Jews Infants were? Otherwise how could it be a reason Page 33 for releasing them in the year of Ju∣bilee, any more than for releasing any other?
2. Are not Infants capable of being * Subjects of Christs Kingdom? And is not Christs Church both his Kingdom and his School, and every Member of it under him, both as King and Pro∣phet? Are not all Subjects of Christ in his visible Kingdom or (Church) Christians? And are not Disciples and Christians all one in the Language of the Holy Ghost, Act. 11. 26.
Again, can it be, that Infants are not Disciples, because God will not shew them such Mercy? Were not Infants in the Jewish Church Servants and Disciples of Christ, (tho not so fully, * and explicitly as now?) was not Christ then the King of the Church, as Me∣diator, upon undertaking to pay our debt? And if Infants in the Jews Church were Servants, and Disciples, doth not God shew as great and great∣er mercy to his Church now under the Gospel?
And to your common objection, that Infants cannot learn. (1.) Yet can they not partake of the protection and pro∣vision Page 34 of their Master, and enjoy the Priviledges of the Family and School, * and be under Christs charge and Do∣minion? (2.) And be devoted to Learn∣ing, if they live, and consecrated to him as their Master? (3.) And why should any be more vigorous with Christ in this case, than with Men? Is it not common to call the whole Na∣tion of the Turks, both old and young, by the name of Mahometans, or Disci∣ples of Mahomet? And what if Infants cannot at first learn to know Christ? Is that the first Lesson? Is it not some∣what, if they can be taught any of the duty of a rational creature? And doth not Scripture require to teach Children the trade of their life in the time of their youth; (as early, no doubt, as they are able to understand) and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? And does not this nur∣ture belong to them, as Schollars of Christ?
(2.) Ought not all ordinarily to be Baptized, that ought to be admitted visible Church-Members? Since Bap∣tism was instituted, have we any Pre∣cept * or Example of admitting visible Page 35 Members any other way? Will you not grant, that all visible Church-Members * must be admitted by Bap∣tism? Now what plentiful proof may be brought, that some Infants ought to be admitted visible Church-Mem∣bers? And does there need any more to prove, that they ought to be Bap∣tized?
(1.) Whether were not some In∣fants once to be admitted Members of the visible Church, by the merciful gift and appointment of God, not yet re∣pealed?
Were not Infants part of them that entered into Covenant with the Lord, that he might stablish them for a peo∣ple to himself, and might be to them a God? Deut. 29. 10, 11, 12, 13. And * were not Infants engaged to God by the Seal of his Covenant, [Circumci∣sion?] If you say, That this merciful gift of God to Infants, and ordinance for their Church-Membership is repeal∣ed, does it not lie on you to prove it? yet how will you fail herein; where∣as it is easie to prove the contrary?
Dare you say, that God hath re∣pealed Infants Church-Membership to their hurt, in justice? Did he ever re∣voke his Mercies in Justice to the par∣ties hurt, till they first brake Covenant with him, and so procured it by their own desert? Now, were there not many Jews that believed, and did not forsake the Covenant of God? How then could these or their Infants, be put out of the Church in justice to their hurt?
Or can you say, that it is in Mercy for their good? How can it be a mercy to take away a mercy, except it be to give a greater mercy instead of it? Now, is there any greater mercy given to Infants than Church-Membership? Those Infants which were in the Church * before Christ, had they not God enga∣ged in Covenant to be their God, and to take them for his peculiar people, Deut. 29. 10, 11, 12. And those that were aliens to the Common-wealth of*Israel, were they not strangers to the covenant of Promise, and without hope, and without God in the World, Eph. 2. Page 37 12. And is there any Scripture that speaketh of delivering any from this sad estate, but Church-Members? And when God addeth to the Church such as shall be saved, can it be any known way of mercy, to be cast, or put out of the Church? Did Christ come in tho flesh to put Infants out of his Church in mercy? Will you say, he could more fitly save them out of his Church, than in it? And if it be no benefit to the Catholick Church to have Infants * kept out of Heaven, nor any hurt to the Church to see them there; why should it be a benefit to the whole Church to have them kept out on Earth? or any hurt to the Church to see them Members here? And what∣soever it may be to strangers, yet how can it seem such a mercy to Parents, to have their Children put out of the Church? why then hath God made such promises to Parents for their Seed; as if much of the Parents comfort lay in their Childrens Welfare? And hath God no mercy for Infants? or can he not shew mercy to the whole Church * in an easier way, than by casting out all their Infants? What great comfort Page 38 would follow this conclusion, That all your Infants are out of Christs visible Church? Can you prove, that Christ will save those that are no Christians? not so much as visibly or seemingly Subjects of his Kingdom? If some pri∣viledges * were taken away, as the Re∣lease of the Jews servants, &c. yet are there not far greater given in their stead?
(2.) Is it not evident from Rom. 11. 17. That only some of the Branches were broken off from the Church: Therefore to the rest that remained in, the gift was not repealed. Doth not the Apo∣stle say it of that Church, whereof In∣fants * were Members with their Pa∣rents, that but some were broken off from this Church? (and how far is the whole Church from being dissol∣ved?) And who can imagine, that God should cast out the Infant, (that came in for the Parents sake) while the Pa∣rents remain in the same Church?
3. Is it not evident from Rom. 11. 20. That none of the Jews were broken off but for unbelief? And consequently, that Believers and their seed were not broken off? Will you say, that the Page 39 Apostle speaketh there of the Invisible Church? Doth he not speak of that * Church, whereof the Jews were natu∣ral Branches, (v. 24.) and was not that the Visible Church? And if the breaking off was visible, (such wherein * Gods severity was to be beheld by the Gentiles, as v. 22.) was it not from the Visible Church directly? Could there be a visible breaking off, or re∣moval from an invisible term?
(4.) If it be into their own Olive,* (which they were broke off from, and of which they were natural branches) that the Jews shall be re-ingraffed at their recovery; (as Rom. 11. 24.) then how is Gods Ordinance for their In∣fant Church-Membership repealed? Is not their own Olive their own Church? * And did not their own Church ever contain Infants, as Members? As it will, when it is but part of the Catho∣lick Church; tho they be not restored to the Mosaical Law, or Covenant of peculiarity: but taken into the Catho∣lick Church.
(5.) Is it not the same Olive, or * Church, which the Jews were broken Page 40 off from, that we Gentiles are graffed into, as Rom. 11. 17, 19, 24? And if their Church admitted Infant-Mem∣bers, and ours be the same, must not ours admit of Infant-Members also? Is it not plain from the Text, that the Olive, or Church it self remained still, only some Branches were broken off, and others of the Gentiles ingraffed in their stead? Then how is it taken down any further than as to ceremo∣nial accidentals?
(6.) Would not Christ have gather∣ed *Jerusalem, (which is usually put for all Judea, and the Jewish Nation?) Mat. 23. 37, 38, 39. And is it likely that he would have unchurched all their In∣fants, when he would have gathered to him whole Jerusalem, or the whole Nation?
(7.) Can ye suppose the believing *Jews children (and so the Parents in point of comfort) to be in a worse con∣dition since Christ, than they were be∣fore? Did Christ come to make Be∣lievers or their children miserable, or bring them into a worse condition? And is it not a far worse condition to * be out of the visible Church, than in it? Page 41 Hath not Christ made larger promi∣ses to his Church Visible, than to any in the world that are not of the Church? what promise is there to others, except the conditional upon their coming in?
8. If the Church of Christ be not in * a worse state now (in regard of the Childrens happiness, and the Parents comfort) than it was before Christs coming, then will it not follow, that our children ought to be admitted Church-Members, and consequently that Ordinance and merciful Gift is not repealed?
(9.) If the Children of Believers now be put out of the Church, then are * they not in a worse condition than the very children of the Gentiles were be∣fore the coming of Christ? Is it not the express Letter of Gods Law, that any stranger that would come in, might bring his children, and all be Circum∣cised, and admitted Members of the Jews Church?
(10.) Was not the Covenant, Deur.* 29. 10, 11, 12. (which all the Jews, with all their little ones, were enter'd into with God) a Covenant of Grace, (as di∣stinct from the Laws which was re∣pealed?) Page 42 How then is it, or their Church-Membership grounded on it repealed? Is not that a Covenant of Grace, wherein God taketh them to * be his people, and engageth to be their God? Hath God entred into such a Covenant with any since the Fall, but in Christ, and upon terms of Grace? Is not that a Covenant of Grace, where∣in the Lord promiseth to Circumcise their hearts, and the hearts of their Seed, &c. See Heb. 10. 16, 17. And doth not the Apostle Paul cite those words of faith, Rom. 10. 5, 6, 7, 8. out of this very Covenant? Compare Deut. 30. 11, 12, 13, 14. with the Text last cited.
(11.) If Infants then were entred * and engaged Church-Members, by that Circumcision, which was a Seal of the Rightcousness of Faith, and was not given on Legal grounds, (as Rom. 4. 11.) how comes that Church-Membership of Infants to be repealed? Is it any other than a shift, to say, that it was only such a Seal of Abrahams righte∣ousness of Faith? Is not the nature, end, and use of Sacraments, or holy * engaging Signs and Seals, the same to Page 43 all, though the fruit be not alway the same?
(12.) If the Law of Infants Church-Membership was no part of the Cere∣monial, or meerly Judicial Law, nor yet of the Law of Works, (as such) how can you say, that it is repealed, seeing no other Laws are repealed? Will you say, it was part of the Law of Works, which knows no mercy to those who have once offended? Was not Church-membership a mercy? And if it was part of the Ceremonial Law, what was it a type of? What is the Anti∣type that hath succeeded it? And how could this be part of the meerly Judi∣cial Law, seeing Infants were Church-members long before the time of Mo∣ses, when the Jews were formed into a Common-wealth, and the Judicial Laws given them? And can you say, that this was proper to the Jews? Was * it given to them only; that is, only to Isaac and his Seed, on whom the Jewish priviledges were entailed? Were not many hundreds circumcised as Church-members (and among them many In∣fants) in Abrahams family before Isaac was born; and so all the Proselites Page 44 (with their Infants) afterwards that would come in?
(13.) Is it not clear, that there is an Universal Church visible? And that * every one that is a Member of a parti∣cular Church, is also a Member of the Universal? And that the Jews Infants were Members of the Universal? And that this Universal Church is not dissol∣ved? Now, must not he that will af∣firm, the whole species of Infants are cast out of the Universal visible Church, prove it well? And since we find that they were once in it, what need we any more proof, that they remain in, till it can be shewn where it is revoked? And is it any good consequence, that is fetcht from the removal of a particu∣lar Church, or of the Jews particular Church to breaking off from the Uni∣versal? If a Jew had been forced into a strange Country, yet had not both he and his children there been Members of the Universal Church?
(14.) Is not that false Doctrine, which makes the children of the Faith∣ful * to be in as bad, or a worse condi∣tion, than the Curse [Deut. 28. 32, 41.] doth make the children of Covenant-breakers Page 45 to be in? Is it not said, (v. 4.) that those that keep the Covenant are blessed in the fruit of their Body? And of Covenant-breakers, (v. 18. 32, 41.) Cursed shalt thou be in the Fruit of thy Body: Thy Sons and thy Daughters shall be given to another people: They shall go into Captivity?] Now, is it not a sorer curse to be put out of the whole Visible Church of Christ, than to go into Captivity? To be in Captivity is but a Bodily judgment directly, but is it not directly a Spiritual judgment to be out of the Church?
(15.) Doth not the Doctrine, which * puts Infants out of the visible Church of Christ, leave them in the visible Kingdom of the Devil? Doth not the World and the Church contain all man∣kind, according to the ordinary Scrip∣ture-distribution? If you say, Infants * may be of the invisible Church, is not the visible Church wider than the in∣visible; That ordinarily we may not judg any to be of the invisible Church, who are not of the visible?
(16.) And will you leave us no sound grounded hope of the justification, or salvation of any dying Infants in the Page 46 world? Can we have any true ground * of Christian hope that they shall be sa∣ved, who are not so much as seemingly (or visibly) in a state of Salvation, and so die? To judge a thing to be what it doth not any way seem, or appear to be, is it not likely actually, but alway virtually, and interpretatively, a false judgment. And if they that are not of the true Church are not in a state of Salvation, then will it not follow, that they that seem not to be of that Church, do not so much as seem to be in a state of Salvation?
(17.) What a full plain Text is that, * 1 Cor. 7. 14. Are the children of Be∣lievers holy in state? then ought they not to be admitted visible Church-members? Are not all Divines agreed in the definition of the Church, That it is a Society of persons separated from the world to God? Will not this Text prove children holy, by a stated sepa∣ration to God? Is not the constant sense of the word [holy] a separation to God? And were not the Infants of the faith∣ful * Church-members, and so holy, be∣fore Christs time? And is it not most probable that the Apostle speaks of the Page 47same kind of holiness, which was the or∣dinary priviledge of the faithful be∣fore? But utterly improbable that he should speak of no other holiness here but legitimation, (which is common to the children of Pagans?) And if to be holy in the Apostles sense here, be no * more than to be lawfully begotten, then may we not call all persons holy, that are not Bastards? Then is not almost all the world holy? Because Bastards are called clean, will it therefore fol∣low, that the legitimate may be called holy? The Beasts that chewed the Cud, and had cloven feet, were clean, will you therefore say, they were holy?
(18.) When it is said, Mark. 10. 14. *Of such is the Kingdom of God,] whe∣ther this be not more, than they may be visible Church-Members? And whe∣ther * these which Christ took up in his Armes, and Blessed, were not Members of his visible Church? Are any visibly Blest without the visible Church? And is it not considerable, that all the three former Evangelists make full mention of these passages of Christ? Is it not evident, that they were taken for Do∣ctrines of moment for the Churches Page 48 information? And whether those words of Christ so plain, and earnest, [suffer little Children to come unto me, and for∣bid them not] be not a better Plea at Judgment for our admitting Infants, than any that ever yet you have brought for refusing them? Turn over your Bible, and see if you can find * where Christ or his Apostles have said as much against our admitting Infants Church-members, and then consider, * which way is safest.
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 sco•n 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?