Sect. I. Probations more and less perfect. The use of Circumcision to this question of Paedobaptisme. As also of Christ's reception of children. Childrens coming and believing, Mat. 18. Chil∣dren sinners.
[ 1] THe foundation of Mr. Tombes's returns to me he is pleased to lay in some words, which he hath recited out of §. 23. of my Resolution of the 4th Quaere, where I say, that there is no need of laying much weight on this, or any the like more imperfect wayes of probation, the whole fabrick being sufficiently supported and built on this basis (the customary baptismes among the Jewes) and that discernible to be so, if we consider it first negatively, then positively.
[ 2] To this he begins his Reply with these words, I like the Do∣ctors ingenuity in his waving the imperfect wayes of proving In∣fant Baptisme, viz. the example of circumcision, Gen. 17. of bapti∣zing a whole houshold, Act. 16.33. Christs reception of little children, Mat. 19.14. Mar. 10.16. and doubt not to shew his own to be no better then those he relinquisheth.
[ 3] To this introduction of his I shall make some Reply in a gene∣rall reflexion on the Treatise which he undertakes to answer, and begin with disclaiming his good words and approbation of my in∣genuity, assuring him that he is wholly mistaken in these his first lines and that I do in no wise relinquish those wayes of probation by him taken notice of, nor shall so far despise the authority and aides of the ancient Church writers, who have made use of them, as wholly to neglect the force and virtue of them. And I thought it had been to him visible, that I have made my advantage of every one of them §. 20, 21, 22. though I do verily think the foundation of this practice is more fitly laid in that other of Jewish Page 3 Baptisme, which belonged to all, both Jews, and proselytes chil∣dren, females as well as males, whereas circumcision belonging to males onely, was in that and some other respects a less perfect basis of it.
[ 4] Meanwhile, for the clearing of this whole matter, it must be remembred that probations are of two sorts, either less or more per∣fect, those I call less perfect, which though they have full force in them, as far as they are used, yet are not of so large an extent as to conclude the whole matter in debate, which others that are more perfect may be able to do.
[ 5] I shall apply this to the matter before us. The instituting of the Sacrament of circumcision among the Jewes, and the express com∣mand of God that the children of eight daies old should by this rite be received into Covenant, is an irrefragable evidence that those may be capable of receiving a Sacrament, who have not attained to years of understanding the nature of it, that children may be received into Covenant with God though they are not per∣sonally able to undertake or performe the condition of it, and then that argument will so far be applicable to Paedobaptisme, as to evidence the lawfulness and fitness of it among Christians, by this analogie with God's institution among the Jewes, and so cer∣tainly invalidate all the arguments of the Antipaedobaptist (i. e. of Mr. Tombes) drawn from the incapacity of Infants, from the pretended necessity that preaching should go before baptizing, from the qualifications required of those that are baptized, &c. For all these objections lying and being equally in force against circumcising of Infants, it is yet evident to be the appointment of God that every Infant of 8. days old should be circumcised, Gen. 17.12. and the threatning of God denounced against them as trans∣gressors in case it be neglected, The uncircumcised manchild shall be cut off from his people, he hath broken my covenant, v. 14. And this the rather, because the Apostle compares baptisme of Chri∣stians with circumcision, Col. 2.11.12. In whom ye are circum∣cised — buried with Christ in baptisme, Isidor Pelusiote, l. 1. Ep. 125. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Jews used circumcision in stead of baptisme, whereupon S. Epi∣phanius styles Baptisme〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the great circumcision, and S. Augustine to them that require a divine authority, whereby Page 4 to prove the baptisme of Infants, renders this of the *Jewish circumcision, ex quâ veraciter conjiciatur quid valeret in par∣vulis Sacramentum Baptismi, whereby true judgement may be made what force the Sacrament of Baptisme may have in Infants. And in like manner Isidore l. 1. Ep. 125. whereupon considerati∣on of the Angel coming, to kill Moses because of the childs not being circumcised, he concludes, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Let us make haste to baptize our children.
[ 6] Yet because what is thus evidenced to be lawfull, and agree∣able to divine appointment in the old Testament, is not thereby presently proved necessary under the New (Christ might other∣wise have ordained, if he had pleased, and from his ordinance one∣ly, as that was understood by his Apostles and by them delive∣red to the Church, the necessity of our obedience, and so of Bap∣tizing Infants, is completely deduced) therefore it is, that I mentioned this, as a more imperfect way of probation, in respect of the intire conclusion, which I undertook to make, viz. not onely the lawfulness, but the duty and obligation, that lies upon us to bring our Infants to Baptisme; which by the way, was much more then was necessary (the shewing the lawfulness be∣ing sufficient, and the example of circumcision being competent) for the disproving the pretensions of the Antipaedobaptist, and so, ex abundanti, an act of Supererogatory probation, in relation to Mr. T.
[ 7] The same is appliable in some degree to the other waies of pro∣bation, which he supposeth to be relinquisht by me, especially to that of Christ's behaviour to little children, commanding to suffer them to come unto him (who yet were no otherwise able to come then as they were brought, and as now they come to the font for baptisme) and embracing and laying on his hands and blessing them: But this is competently set down, and the force of it, how far tis argumentative, § 22.
[ 8] Onely I now adde, that that other place of Mat. 18.6. where Jesus speaking of little children, useth these words, who so offen∣deth one of these little ones that believe in me, it were good for him that a Milstone &c. may tend much to give us the full impor∣tance and signification both of their coming to Christ, and of his commanding not to forbid them (such as will neerly concern Page 5 every Antipaedobaptist to take notice of) For as in other places of the New Testament, the coming unto God and Christ, is be∣lieving on him, seeking to receive benefit from him (as, He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and Come unto me all ye that are weary, and If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink) so, it seems, by this place, that that coming of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉little In∣fants (for so they are called in the Parallel place Luk. 9.47.) which they were capable of by the help of their parents or friends, is styled by Christ the childrens believing, and so far imputed to them, as that upon that account the sentence is very severe upon those that shall scandalize them, repulse or discourage, or any way hinder them in this their progress to Christ, though it be but in the armes of other men.
[ 9] How fitly this is applicable to the state of Infants, in respect of the guilt of original sin, under which they are born, and for the remission of which (and not onely for the entring into the King∣dome of Heaven) the Fathers defined against the Pelagians, that baptisme was necessary for them, I shall not need here to inlarge, having formerly spoken to that head. Onely it may not be amiss here to advert, that it was as reasonable for the children to be called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉believers, who yet had no faith of their own, but onely of their parents &c. to bring them to Christ, as for the same children to be accounted sinners (as undoubtedly they are) which yet never committed any act of sin, which made S. Augu∣stine De verb: Apost: Serm: 4. say, Absit ut ego dicam non credentes infantes, God forbid that I should say that Infants are not believers, Credit in altero, qui peccavit in altero, He believes by another who sinned by another, dicitur, Credit, & valet, & inter fideles baptiza∣tos computatur, the Susceptors say he believes, and so he is reputed among the baptized believers. And this reputative faith the more reasonably accepted by the Church, it being moreover evident by the baptisme of Simon Magus, and of all hypocrites, that 'tis the profession of faith, and not the possession of it, which is requi∣red as the qualification which authorizes the Church to admit them to baptisme; and that being performed by the Infants proxies in his name, the Church after the forementioned example of Christ, may very lawfully accept it of those, who can per∣forme no other, in lieu of a personal profession.
Page 6 [ 10] Meanwhile this passage of Christ concerning children, though it be a certain evidence again against the Antipaedobaptist, as hath been shewed, and I need no more then this one proof, if I were destitute of all others, to refute his pretensions, yet because it con∣tains no relation of Christs, or his Apostles baptizing infants, therefore I put it in the rank of the more imperfect probations (in comparison with that other way of probation, which I conceive, deduceth and concludeth the whole matter more intirely) though, as tis evident §. 22. this was neither waved nor relinquisht by me.
[ 11] To this if I shall now adde, that it was my design in that re∣solution of the Quaere to insist more largely on that way of pro∣bation, which I discerned to be lesse considered or insisted on by others, and yet to have perfect evidence in it, if it were duely ex∣plained and improved as it was capable, and on the same account thought I might spare to multiply words, where others had often inlarged, and therefore said but little of those common arguments or heads of probation, and yet sufficient to testifie my neither wa∣ving nor relinquishing them, It will then abundantly appear, how little I deserved Mr. T. his good words, and how justly I renounce that title to ingenuity which he bestowes upon me, being better pleased with his animadversions on my dotages, as he after phraseth it, then these, his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 his liberalities to me by which he designed advantage to himself.