The Children of all that are Christians in profession, are by vertue of Covenant-Interest, to be received into the Church by Baptisme.
THen it farther followes by way of necessary Corollary, that according to the Parents Interest in the Covenant, the childe hath Interest in the Sacrament of Baptism; But all professing Pa∣rents separate from Idols, and professing the worship of the true God, though nothing more of a Christian be in them, in the lati∣tude as hath been shewn, are in covenant; the infants of all these then have interest in Baptisme. The Major cannot be questi∣oned by any that acknowledge a right in infants, derived from their Parents for Baptism, for it is interest in the covenant that gives the title to parent and infant: The Minor I have abun∣dantly proved. The covenant must either be made to appeare to run in a more narrow channel (which I suppose will hardly be done) that a man in Ignorance, or in Impenitency, as he does not keep covenant, so he never entred covenant, or else this must necessarily follow. To assert this bya Arguments.
First, Their children whom God owns as his peculiar people, above others have right to Baptisme. This cannot be denied; ei∣ther these have a just claim, or else no children at all. But God owns all in visible profession, as his people, Isa. 1. 2. Isa. 5. 13. Hos. 4. 6. Jer. 2. 11, 13, 31, 32. Jer. 4. 22. Jer. 5. 51. therefore the children of visible professors have right to Baptism.
Secondly, Their children, that are brought forth to God, by their parents, have right to Baptism; This is as plain: But visible professors bring forth children to God, Ezek. 16. 20. therefore their children have right to Baptism.
Thirdly, Those children whose Parents are children of the Kingdome of God, have their title to Baptisme; But those that are in sin, and in a way to be cast out for sin, are children of the Kingdome, Mat. 8. 12. Mat. 21. 43. Ergo the children of Pa∣rents in sin have right to Baptism.
Fourthly, The children of those, who are themselves Disciples of Christ, ought to be baptized; But men in sin are Disciples of Page 449 Christ, Joh. 6. 66. whole Nations, among whom are many wicked ones, are Disciples, Matth. 28. 19. The children then of those that are in sinne, ought to be baptized.
Fifthly, The children of those that are of the number of bre∣thren in the faith of the Gospel, have right to Baptism: But men in sinne are brethren in the faith of the Gospel, 1 Cor. 5. 11. If any that is called a brother, be a fornicatour, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, &c. This our dissent∣ing brethren will not deny to be meant of Christians, therefore their children are to be baptized.
Sixthly, Those children that are holy by reason of birth from one or both beleeving parents, are to be baptized: But the chil∣dren of those that are in sin may be holy by reason of birth of one, or both beleeving parents, 1 Cor. 7. 14. To clear this place, which some weakly enough, have urged for the contrary▪ Let us enquire who the Apostle means by a Beleever, and who he means by an unbeliever, and this will soone be decided; if we look to the case propounded by letter from the Corinthians, which he there resolves, and answers their scruples; That is confest to be marriage between a Christian and a Heathen a professed Believer and an Infidel, a man removed from an Infidel, (to take upon him the name of Christ), is there a Beleever, and many of these e∣ven in Corinth, were men in sinne. They that will have the Be∣leever there to set out only a justified and sanctified person, they must by unbeleever mean all unsanctified persons, and so the case propounded and satisfied, is, whether a regenerate person san∣ctified by the Spirit, married to one that gives not full, or at least hopeful evidences of sanctification, may continue a marri∣age-society? whether a man of Jobs integrity might have lived with such a wise to whom Job was joyned? a thing that was ne∣ver yet brought into question, either by Jew or Christian; and altogether unworthy of an Apostles determination. The thing is plaine,* that as infants have right to Baptisme, so all the infants of those parents that nomine tenus are Christians, have right to Baptism. See more, Treatise of the Sacraments, page 161.
To amplifie this in some particulars, and if it may be, to make it more clear to doubting Christians.
First, A life in distrust of God, and rebellion against God, provo∣king Page 449 him to the highest punishment of the parents doth not divest the child of the title to the covenant, and interest in the Sacrament of initiation into the number of Christians. For proof of this, look upon that act of Joshua, when the people were got out of the Wildernesse, and were brought into the Land of Canaan, Josh. 5. 6, 7. The children of Israel walked fourty yeers in the Wil∣dernesse, till all the people that were men of warre that came out of Egypt were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord; And the children which he raised up in their stead, them did Joshua circumcise, for they were uncircumcised, they had not circumcised them in the way; you see what the fathers were, yet the children Joshua ordered to be circumcised; Concerning their conversation, the pa∣rents were enemies, but as touching the election, the choice made of God, the issue is to be numbred among the beloved. Who had a worse father than Josiah, yet where was there a better son? A circumcised man, who in youth began to seek the God of his fa∣ther David, 2 Chron. 34. 3.
Secondly, Misbelief in a parent divests not the issue of this birth-priviledge; though the father erre in the faith, yet the child is not to be shut out of the number of beleevers. We have in this particular the Apostle for a precedent, had misbelief in the parent denuded the childe of this priviledge. Saint Paul had not beene a Jew by nature, but an Heretick, or Sectary by nature, being be∣fore conversion a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee; Scribe was a name of office, but Pharisee the name of a Sect, and therefore Christ warns to beware of the leaven, that is, of the Doctrine of the Pha∣risees, as of the Sadduces; Such was Pauls parentage, and yet by descent and off-spring, he is of the people of the Jewes. What we say of Pharisees, is as true of Sadduces; It is not to be doubted but they were circumcised persons, and entitled their children ac∣cording to the Directory in Scripture for circumcision, as ap∣pears by their embodying of themselves with the people of the Jewes, Matth. 22. 23. Acts 23. 6. The most strict of Pharisees took them into their society, which they had not done, had they not been men of the circumcision, we see the accusation charged on Peter on this occasion, Acts 11. 2, 3. A man transmits not his errors, nor his vices no more than he doth his graces.
Thirdly, ignorance of needful truths, in a parent doth not di∣vest Page 450 the childe of this priviledge. Those were the people of God (and therefore brought forth children to God) that did pe∣rish for lack of knowledge, Hosea 4. 6. that went into capti∣vity for lack of knowledge, Isa. 5. A reverend brother, giving his reasons why he is among his brethren singular in this point, not baptizing all born in his Parish; one maine one is, the grosse ignorance among them, and that (as he sayes) not in Cumberland, and those parts, but in Essex, such, that if he should print, his Rea∣der would scaree beleeve it were possible to be true; To which I only say, I wish that our own experience in the places where we live, did give us occasion of suspition, that any wrong is done them. Therefore to let the truth passe unquestioned, I would only wish him to consider, whether there might not have been found the like in Corinth, that Church of the Saints, 1 Cor. 15. 34. Some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame. Whe∣ther there he might not have found the like among the illumina∣ted Hebrews, were not there those that were dull of hearing, that when for the time they ought to be teachers, they had need that one teach them againe, which be the first principles of the Oracles of God, and were become such as had need of milke, and not of strong meat? yet these were of the Church, and therefore with them their children.
Fourthly, illegitimation of birth, adulterous copulation in the parents, divesteth not such issue of this priviledge, David had ne∣ver in that manner sought in fasting and prayer his childes life, had he believed that he must not have been of the seed of the Jews, but of the uncircumcised Heathen; Pharez was of such a birth, yet who bore a greater name and glory in Israel than he, and his fa∣mily? even where the illegitimation of his birth is noted, there the glory of his race is magnified, which is yet farther honoured in that Christ according to the flesh was made of his seed. That seed of Abraham per eminentiam, was out of his loynes; Jepthah indeed was driven out by his brethren, but not because that he was not of the seed of the Jews, and people of God, but because they would not have him to share of the inheritance among them. A Reverend Divine saith, [Objections an∣swered.] That some persons may be noto∣rious offenders (as known Atheists, mockers of Religion, Idolaters, Papists, Hereticks, Witches) and yet professe before men the faith, seemes to him to imply a contradiction. These (I confesse) are plau∣sible Page 452 words to take with well-meaning souls, that attend not to the language of the Scripture in this particular. And for the first, if he meanes Atheists in judgement, that professedly main∣taine in word, what Davids fool said in his heart, that there is no God, and by mockers of Religion, not those alone that op∣pose the power, but with Lucian, all notion of Religion; and by Idolaters, those that professedly worship false gods, and worship not at all the Lord Jehovah, then it cannot be denied▪ that this is a contradiction: But Reverend Master Rutherford, whom he op∣poseth in that place▪ hath no such meaning; But for an Atheist in life, to be a professour of the faith, we have Paul expressely for it, Titus 1. 16. They professe that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. The Apostle (we see) saw no contradiction in it; and for mockers of Religion, Peter did not foretell them to be out of the Church, but within the bosome of it, when he said, There shall come in the last dayes scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 2 Pet. 3, 3. For Idolaters, if an Israelite might be an Idolater, then a Christian; How high were those in Idolatry mentioned, Psal. 106. 36, 37, 38, 39? and yet in covenant, ver. 45. For the Church of Corinth the Apostle is plaine, A brother may be an Idolater, 1 Cor. 5. 11. It is within the Church, and not without, where men escape death by plagues, yet repent not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship Devils, and Idols of gold, and silver, and brasse, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor heare, nor walke, Rev 9. 20. For Papists, I marvel how they are distinguished from Idolaters and Hereticks; for Hereticks as false Prophets were of the Church of the Jewes, so Hereticks are of the Church in Gospel-times, 2 Pet. 2. 1. The Apostle tells the Elders of Ephesus, Acts 20. 30. Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away Disciples after them. For Witches, though there were a Law in Israel not to suffer a Witch to live, Exod. 22. 18. Yet Israel had Witches, as is seen in those that Saul put out of the Land, and her that in his distresse he sought unto, 1 Sam. 28. Paul had never reckoned up witch∣craft among those sinnes that shut out of the Kingdome of hea∣ven, and certified the Churches of Galatia of it, had there been an impossibility that any such should be found of their number that made claime to it; This the Reverend Authour doth as Page 453 much as acknowledge in the words that follow, I deny not (saith he) but that in some sense, any such notorious offendor may have the essence and being of a member of the Church as visible, to wit, in this sense a corrupt and rotten member fit to be cut off. A member of the visible Church, (though formerly an inoffensive professor of the faith) may afterwards fall away into any of these notorious scan∣dals, and yet for a while still retain the essence and being of a member of the Church as visible. Master Rutherford that is there opposed (I suppose) will affirme no more, Respective to the power of godlinesse, there is in them no soundnesse, nor yet in those that are better than these; Some say that one that is such in any known foule sinne, to them is no better than a Heathen, as bad as a Turke, or Pagan, and nothing at all better for the name Christian. And I say, that to me they are as bad, as to them, and perhaps worse in the eyes of God. This priviledge in which they stand thus in∣teressed, is an aggravation of their sinne, and a farther provoca∣tion of God against them; When the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sonnes and of his daughters, Deut. 32. 19. yet such is Gods long-suffering, and forbearance of them, that he is pleased to vouchsafe them farther and more large evidences of his favour, Nehem. 9. 30. Hierusalem was corrupted more than Sodom and Samaria, in all her wayes, Ezek. 16. 47. Sodom and her daughters, had not done as Hierusalem and her daughters, ver. 48. Samaria had not committed halfe her sinnes, ver. 51. In her abominations she had justified both of them; yet Hierusalem enjoyed those priviledges, that Samaria and Sodom enjoyed not; Hierusalem was in covenant, ver. 16. when Sodom and Samaria were no covenant-people, but worship∣ped they knew not what, John 4. ver. 22. Corazin and Beth∣saida, Cities of Israel, were no better in the eye of God than Ty∣re and Sidon, yea their sinnes deserved an heavier weight of judgement, Matth. 11. 22. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sydon at the day of judgement, than for you, saith our Saviour; and so it was with Capernaum, compared to Sodom, ver. 23. yet Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, enjoyed those priviledges from God, that Tyre, Sydon and Sodom wanted. As the Apostles zeal against the Samaritanes▪ sinnes, Luke 9. 54, did out-strip our Saviours, when they would have fire from heaven to consume them; so our zeale out-goes Gods, when we would have such Page 453 men, root and branch, parent and child struck out of covenant, be∣fore God hath sued out any Bill of divorce against them, or remo∣ved his Candlestick, and taken all covenant-priviledges from them. For the baptism of children of Apostates, there is a greater difficul∣ty. Some of reverend worth say, They see not how justly a Parents Apostasy should deprive the childe of Baptisme, and some Texts of Scripture seem strongly to favour that opinion, Ezek. 16. 20, 21. Moreover, thou hast taken thy sonnes and thy daughters whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be de∣voured; Is this of thy whoredomes a small matter, that thou hast slain my children, and delivered them, to cause them to passe through the fire for them?
There could not be an higher evidence of Apostacy, than to give their children in sacrifice to a false god. It was one of the highest acts of obedience that Abraham could testifie to the Lord, and yet these yield it to Idol-gods; They bring forth chil∣dren to God, and give them to Moloch, Psal. 106. 35, 36, 37, 38, 39. They were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works, and they served their Idols, which were a snare unto them, yea they sa∣crificed their sons and daughters unto devils. And shod innocent blood, even the blood of their sonnes and of their daughters, whom they sa∣crificed unto the Idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a who∣ring with their own inventions. These in this apostatized from God in covenant, yet God lookes upon them as a covenant people, ver. 45. And he remembred for them his covenant, &c. But this seemes to be but a partial Apostasy, taking in the worship of Idols, they did not totally cast off the worship of God. A line of profession was still (it seemes) held up, God was not whol∣ly cast off in Judah. They seem to be of those, that swore by the Lord and Malcham, Zeph. 1. 5. keeping up the worship of the true God, and yet take in the worship of a false god with him. As for those in whom Master Firmin instanceth; our Englishmen now in Turkey, apostatized from the Faith to that Religion; concerning whom quaeres are often put, it may seem equal, that as a man comes into covenant, and his posterity with him; So, to∣tally rejecting the covenant, denying God as well in profession, as in his works; that he and his posterity should be out of cove∣nant; Being before an holy root, to transmit holinesse to his Page 454 seed, now he becomes unholy, and put out of such capacity, and is disabled from making over any such priviledge to them. But here we need not to trouble our selves with the Baptisme of such, having renounced Christ, they baptize not their infants in his name. A Minister shall have none of these rendered to him, and to baptize them into this body, when he well knowes they must be never suffered to be of it, were an high taking of Gods name in vaine, and a mockery of so sacred an Ordinance. Now in case a grandfather shall take one of these children, and offer it unto Baptisme; and being a Progenitor, shall undertake the e∣ducation in the Christian Faith, and not in the Turkish abomina∣tion, whether in this case there be right to Baptisme, is the que∣stion. Now these may be looked upon, either as meer Heathens, in the same condition, as if they never had an Ancestor in the Faith, or else as issuing out of the loynes of mediate Ancestors, believing, and so coming from a root that hath been holy. If considered in the former way, they may have a title to Baptisme according to many eminent Divines, by vertue of their Adoption. Reverend Master Cawdrey observes a three-fold way to circum∣cision from Gen. 17. One is personal upon profession of Faith in a mans own person, so Abraham entered. A second is pa∣ternal, when a man comes in by right derived from his Parents, so Isaac and Ishmael had title. A third, adoptive, being ta∣ken into the family of a Beleever according to that, Gen. 17. 12, 13. He that is eight dayes old among you, shall be cir∣cumcised, every man childe in your generations, be that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger which is not of thy seed. He that is borne in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised, &c. Any bond∣man that he would take, and adopt into his family, in such case had right of circumcision: Rive•. on Gen. 17. Exercit. 8•. is cleare of this judgement, and sayes, he remembers that it was so determined in the National Synods of the French Churches, quoting in like manner Prosper in his second Book, De vocatione gentium, Chap. 8.aSometimes this priviledge is vouchsafed to the children of Infidels, when by a secret providence they into the hands of the godly. Master Cotton I remember in his book of Infant-Baptisme is for it. Master Norton against A∣pollonius for present suspends his judgement, page 38. I had ra∣ther Page 456 go his way, than theirs that determine it; and in my thoughts with submission to better judgements, I rather in∣cline in present to the contrary. Those that Abraham bought with his money, I suppose were men of years, who were to be circumcised and their issue; But whether they were not first instructed, is the question. No uncircumcised person was to be in his house, and whether he might compel to circum∣cision may well be disputed. He found them explicitely in covenant with false gods, and whether he might give them the seale of the covenant of the true God in that state, I question. It is said, Gods covenant shall be in their flesh, verse 13. and that this should be done, and no covenant with the true God at all professedly in their mouth, no notion of him by way of assent in their heart, to me is strange; I think it implies Abrahams work, first in instructing of them in the covenant, and upon their assent they were received, and their seed with them. Circumcision did denominate them a people of God, and that is a strong contradiction to have them circumcised, whose faith was in a false god; and who applied themselves to such worship; Their en∣trance I should rather take to be personal, than adoptive. Consider them then as descending from the loynes of Chri∣stian progenitors, having fathers of their flesh heretofore in covenant with God, and we shall finde them in a better condition than those Heathens that had ever been strangers. And here the Apostle will help us to a distinction, Rom. 11. 28. Speaking of the Jewes cut off from the body of the Church visible. As concerning the Gospel, (saith he) they are enemies for your sakes. Their present condition is as Hea∣thens, being alienated from God by reason of unbelief of the Gospel (which Apostasy of theirs hath given occasion to, and made way for the calling of the Gentiles:) But as touching the Election, they are friends, saith he; God hath respect to them, not totally to reject them for their fathers sake; for the covenant which he entered with, and the love that he shewed unto their fore-fathers, being beloved upon the ac∣count of their fathers; When there is a father found to do them that office, to take them out of the wild Olive, to put them into the true Olive; I do not doubt, but that they Page 467 have title: Though Baptisme should be denied to infants res∣pective to all predecessors, pure Heathen (notwithstanding A∣doption, which I will not determine) yet the Apostle speaking so much in favour of Jewes, even in their state of blindnesse, respective to the hope of their future call; I do not doubt but it might be vouchsafed (upon this account of Adoption) to an infant. Jew, if we can have any ground fairely to conclude his descent from Abraham, much more where we can easily evi∣dence a descent from parents that are Christian. And this I hope is some explication of my meaning where in answer to the de∣mand of an adversary I say, That infants be capable of Baptism, by descent from parents, either within mans memory, or beyond it; when a line of profession holdi, or is againe restored, that the infants may be received into the visible Church, and enjoy the saving Ordinances of Christ Jesus, page 68. of my answer; and some satisfaction to the question concerning the power of mediate Parents, giving title to Baptisme, where out of the case of total Apostasy there is small difficulty. I shall conclude in the words of Rivet,aIf a parent wants true Faith, yet makes pro∣fession of it, and in the external society of the Church is ac∣counted a Beleever, or hath been accounted heretofore under the Old Testament; the infants borne of such parents; are in covenant with them, and partakers of the promise, even upon this account; because the promise was received of the Ancestors in behalfe of the posterity that should issue from them which the unbelief or hypocrisie of the immediate parent, cannot make invalid as long as the infant cannot imitate the unbelief or hypocrisie of the parent.