THE Ax laid to the Root, &c.
Sermon III. PART. II.
MAT. III. ver. 10.
And now also the Ax is laid to the Root of the Trees, every Tree therefore that bringeth not forth good Fruit; is hewn down and cast into the Fire.
I Have already opened the Scope and Coherence of this Place of Holy Scripture, as also the Parts and Terms, and then took notice of one or two Points of Doctrine.
That which I have largely Prosecuted, is this, viz.
Doct. Now the Dispensation is changed, to be of the Natural Root, viz. Of the National Church of the Iews, the Seed of Abraham, or Children of Believers, according to the Flesh, is no Ground for Church-Membership, 'tis no Argument to be admitted into the Gospel-Church, or to Gospel-Baptism.
We have proved, that there were Two Covenants made with Abraham,•ne with him and his natural Seed as such, signified by Agar, the Bond∣•oman; the other made with him and his spiritual Seed as such, signified 〈◊〉Sarah, the Free woman; and also, have clearly made it appear, That ••e Covenant of Circumcision did not appertain to the Covenant of •race, but that it was a Rite of the Legal Covenant.
Page 2We shall now proceed to Answer the other Objections, having the last Day only insisted upon One.
2. Obj. Circumcision was the Type of Baptism.
1. Answ. If the Circumcision of the Heart was the Antitype of Cir∣cumcision in the Flesh, then certainly Baptism was not, could not be the Antitype thereof; but this the Holy Ghost fully intimates, was the Anti∣type of it, see 1 Col. 2.12.13. Rom. 2.29. See Dr. Taylor, as recited in Rector Rectified, p. 9, 10, 11.
2. If Baptism, and Circumcision were both in Force together for some time, then Baptism is not the Antitype of, nor did it come in the room of Circumcision, but that they were both in Force together for some time, I shewed before. Iohn, and the Disciples of Christ, Baptized. Ioh. 4.1, 2. sometime before Circumcision was nailed to the Cross, or did cease. Can one thing come in the room, or place of another, till the other is actual∣ly, and legally removed, and took away? Why, now since these Two Rites had a Being together, I affirm (as I have formerly done) one could not be the Type of the other. A Type can abide no longer, then till the Antitype is come; therefore Circumcision was not the Type of Baptism.
3dly, and lastly, (As to this) I see not indeed, how one Thing, that was a Figure, could be the proper Shadow, or Type of a Figure; sure no Wise Man has Reason so to think; all may see, that Baptism it self, is cal∣led a Figure, 1 Pet. 3.21. And this is sufficient to remove the Second Objection.
3. Obj. The Third Objection I mentioned, is this, viz. Infants were once in Cove∣nant, and never cast out, therefore they are in still: See Mr. Rothwell's Paedo-Baptism.
Answ. I Answer, Tho' Infants were in Covenant under the Law, in the Legal Church of the Jews, and that by God's Appointment. Gen. 17.7. which is not denied: Yet, what of this? their being once Members of the Iewish Church, doth not prove them to be Members of the Gospel Church: They had then many outward Privileges, which we, under the Gospel, have not; they went all off when the Ax was laid to the Root, i. e. When the Old Covenant was ab•ogated, and the Old Church State cut down, then their Old Church Members fell likewise: The Branches cannot stand, when the Tree is cut down, or rooted up.
2. We have proved the Covenant; for in Covenanting of Infants, un∣der the Law, was no Gospel Covenant; and therefore this Objection hat• nothing in it to hurt us, unless it can be proved, they were taken a-new into the Gospel Church, or Gospel Covenant, which we positively deny and they can't disprove: For, according to that Maxim, Omnis Privati intimat babitum, (you know) that every Dispossession; implyeth a Possess••on: Infants therefore, cannot be cast out of the Gospel Covenant, or Go••pel Church, unless they had been first received into it; therefore they mu•• prove, if they can, they are in the Time of the Gospel, taken in as Me••bers; if so, I will not undertake to prove them cast out, but I am sure Page 3 at the Dissolution of the National Church of the Jews, they lost their Right of Church Membership; and God hath not constituted another Na∣tional Church, under the Gospel, to bring in the carnal Seed again, but the Church is now purely Congregational. God's Spiritual Temple, is built up with spiritual, and lively Stones, 1 Pet. 2.4, 5. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifi∣ces acceptable to God, by Iesus Christ.
Obj. 4. Circumcision was part of the Ceremonial Law. Thus I find Mr. Iohn Flavel, expresses himself in his Vindiciarum Vindex (in Answer to Mr. Philip Cary) pag. 214. viz. If Circumcision be part of the Ceremonial Law, and the Ceremonial Law was dedicated by Blood, and whatsoever is so dedicated, is by you confessed no part of the Covenant of Works, then Circumcision can be no part of the Covenant of Works, &c. But it is so, Ergo.
Answ. 1. I Answer, It argues these Men are hard put to it, since they are forced to fly to such an Argument as this, to prove Circumcision to be a Gospel Covenant, I shall not now enter upon the Debate, Whether the Ceremonial Law, was a part of the Covenant of Works, or not? tho' I must say, I judge it was an Appendix to it; and that it appertained to the First Covenant, the Apostle affirms, Heb. 9.1. They are to clear up this, viz. How the Ceremonial Law is part of the First Covenant, and yet no part of the Covenant of Works.
2. Yet their Work lies not so much in that neither, as it doth in this Re∣spect, viz. They are to prove, That the Ceremonial Law was part of the Covenant of Grace, which, as yet none of them (that I ever heard of) have attempted to do (tho' we grant it was a Shadow of it) when they have proved, that they have in the
3. Third Place, another Task, viz. To prove, that Circumcision was • part of the Ceremonial Law; for tho' it was a Figure, or a Sign, yet it may be doubted of, Whether it was a part of that Law, or not — Yet
4. It might be a part of, or appertain unto the Sinai Covenant: for (1) tis called a Covenant, that's evident; but, Where is the Ceremonial Law •o called? (2.) It gave the Children of Israel an Assurance of the Sinai •ovenant, and that the Apostle calls, The great, and chiefest Adv•ntage •hey had by it. (3.) It also was of the same nature and quality, and had •e like Promises annexed to it, upon their Obedience, and the same •hreatning upon their Disobedience. (4.) It obliged those, who were Cir∣•umcised, to keep the said Law. Gal. 5.3. It was, I have proved, of the ••me Nature and Quality, i. e. a Conditional Covenant, and like Promise •f Earthly Blessings, and like Threatnings annexed to it.
Secondly, Was not the Ceremonial Law, a Part of that Law St. Paul•alls, The Hand-Writing of Ordinances that was against us, which was contrary 〈◊〉 us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his Cross? Col. 2.14. If Cir∣••mcision was part of this Law, sure it did not appertain to the Gospel, or •ew Covenant, much less the Seal of it; for then it could not be against Page 4 us, but for us, not contrary to us, but agreeable to us, as a Choice Bles∣sing.
2. And if the Covenant of Circumcision was a Part of the Ceremoni∣al Law, 'tis evident that Covenant is abolished; and if the Covenant be cancelled, or abolished, What good will the Seal do them?
3. That the Ceremonial Law was part of the First Covenant, 'tis evi∣dent, Heb. 9.1, 2. Then verily, the First Covenant had also Ordinances of Di∣vine Service, and Worldly Sanctuary. The Old Covenant comprehended not only the Sinai ministration, as a Covenant of Works, (do this, and live) but also the whole Mosaical Oeconomy, and Aronical Priesthood, Sacrifices, and all manner of shadowing Rites and Ordinances whatsoever, amongst which Old Covenant Rites, or Legal Ordinances, Circumcision was one of the chief; so that this makes against them.
4. All the Holiness and Sanctification of the Ceremonial Law, only appertained to the Flesh, and therefore, no part of the New Covenant, Heb. 9.13. What tho' it was dedicated by Blood, it was but Typical Blood, Blood of Bulls, and Goats, that could not take away Sin, purge the Conscience, nor make any thing perfect.
Mr. Elton on Colossians, speaking of Col. 2. ver. 14. puts forth this Que∣stion, viz.
Quest. How were the Legal Ceremonies of the Jews a Hand-Writing of Ordinances.
For they, evident it is, were bound exactly to keep all the Laws, Sta∣tutes and Ordinances, of that Law; (which, I think a Learned Man says were more then 300) nay, and if they continued not in doing all these Things, they were Cursed when they sate down, and when they rose up, whe• they went abroad, and when they came home: see Deut, 27.20, to 26. Gal.•• 10. Cursed is he that continueth not in all things that are written in the Book of t•• Law to do them. Mind it well, all Things in the whole Book of the Law• not only the Ten Precepts, but all things contained in the Ceremonial La• also.
6. Therefore, tho' the Blood of Bulls, Goats, and Heifers, are called, th• Blood of the Covenant, yet it was not the Blood of the New Covenan•Page 5 but of the Old; neither the First Covenant was dedicated without Blood, Heb. 9.18. True, the Blood of the Old Covenant, figured the Blood of the New, yet that doth no more prove the Ceremonial Law, was part of the New Covenant, then the Shadow can be proved to be the Substance; and there∣fore, tho' those Sacrifices pointed to Christ, yet that Law was part of the Covenant of Works, i. e. no Life by it: In those Sacrifices, God's Soul had no Pleasure.
7. Nor could they see, or look beyond those things, which are abolished: see 2 Cor. 3.13. From hence I argue, If the Ceremonial Law, was a Hand-Writing, i. e. a Bond, or Obligation of Conviction, Accusation, and Con∣demnation to the Jews, binding them farther to the Curse of the Moral Law, it was no part of the Covenant of Grace; but the former is true, Ergo, Therefore, whatever gracious Design God had in it, or however use∣ful to the Elect, yet in it self, it was a Law of Works, tho' given in Subser∣viency to the Gospel Law, as the Sinai Law was.
6. Obj. God gave himself to Abraham to be his God, and the God of his Seed, in the Covenant of Circumcisi∣on, or made over himself by way of special Interest to them in it; (so Mr. Flavell positively affirms.) Therefore it was the Covenant of Grace.
Answ. I Answer, This I am persuaded, is the grand Cause of their great boldness and mistake, in affirming the Covenant of Circumcision was the Covenant of Grace; and therefore, ought the more carefully to be Exami∣ned, Considered, and Answered; for if Mr. Flavel, and the rest of our Brethren, are right in this Assertion, i. e. That God gave himself in Cir∣cumcision to Abraham, and to all his Seed, to be their God, by way of special Interest, they say a great deal, but this we deny.
1. As to Abraham, God gave himself to him to be his God, yea, gave him special Interest in himself; but it was before he gave him the Covenant of Circumcision. This they cannot deny, nay, and not only to himself, but to be the God of all his true spiritual Seed, and that also, before he ente∣red into the said Covenant of Circumcision with him, and his natural Seed; see Gen. 12.3. Gen. 15.1. I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great Reward; see ver. 5. and then 'tis said, he believed in the Lord, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, ver. 6.— Therefore,
2dly, 'Tis for ever to be noted, that this special Interest in God, he obtain∣ed through Faith, in the Free Promise (which is the Covenant of Grace God made with him) And the Apostle plainly shews, in Rom. 4.9, 10. That this Blessedness, he (in the Negative) received not in the Cove∣nant of Circumcision, but in Uncircumcision. How was it then reck∣oned, when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision, ver. 10. I cannot but wonder at the darkness of those Men, who affirm, That Abraham received special Interest in God, in the Covenant of Circumcision; whereas the Holy Ghost positively denies it, or affirms the contrary. His main Business being there to take them off of Page 6 Circumcision, and so to distinguish between Circumcison, and the Cove∣nant of Faith; but, in direct Opposition to the Apostle's Design, these Men go about to magnifie Circumcision by ascribing it to that.
3. And let it also be noted, That the same Apostle excludes Abraham's natural Seed as such, (with whom the Covenant of Circumcision was made) from this special Blessing of special Interest in God, in Rom. 9.5. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect, for they are not all Israel, which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all Children: (that is, by way of special Interest in God, so as to have God to be their God, by vertue of the Covenant of Grace made with Abraham) But in Isaac shall thy seed be called, ver. 7. That is, they which are the children of the fl•sh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise, are counted for the seed, ver. 8. None can deny, but that those, whom the Apostle calls the Children of the Flesh (whom he denies to have any Interest in God as such) the Covenant of Circumcision did belong unto, and was made with, as well as it was made with the true spiritual Seed; therefore I may from hence, with the greatest boldness imaginable, affirm, That in the Covenant of Circumcision, God did not make over himself to be A∣braham's God, so as to give him, or to his Seed, special Interest in him∣self.
Obj. But 'tis positively said, That God did promise in the Covenant of Circumci∣sion, to be a God to him, and to his seed after him, in their Generations, when he promised them the Land of Canaan, Gen. 17.8, 9, 10.
Answ. I do not deny it, but not by way of special Interest (that is, the thing we differ in) so he was not the God of his Seed as such, according to the Nature of the Covenant of Grace, and that for the Reasons before ur∣ged; therefore it behoveth us to consider, in what respect we are to un∣derstand the Holy Ghost. I do not say neither, that ever God made him∣self over to Men, to be their God, by way of special Interest, upon the Terms of the Sinai Covenant, that was impossible for them to Answer, (nor can I believe, notwithstanding what Mr. Flavel has affirmed, that my Reverend Brother, Mr. Philip Cary, will assert any such thing) the Inheritance was not by the Law.
1. Therefore we are to consider, That God may be said to be the God of a People, in a Covenant way, Two manner of ways.
- 1st. By the Free Promise, or Covenant of Grace in a spiritual Gospel Sense, which gives special and Soul-saving Interest in him, as all Abraham's Spi∣ritual Seed, i. e. True Believers have; or,
- 2d. God may be said to be the God of a People, by entering into an exter∣nal, legal Covenant with them: And thus he gave himself to be the God of Abraham, and his natural, or fleshly Seed, i. e. He took them into a visible external Covenant Church-State, and separated them from all other People and Nations in the World, to be a peculiar People (in that Covenant) unto himself; and, in this sense, he was said Foederally, or by Covenant, to be
married to the whole House of Israel, as so considered, and to be an Husband to them: See Ier. 21.31. God there makes a Promise to Israel and Iudah, that he would make a New Covenant, Not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt (which covenant they break, although I was an husband to them saith the Lord) ver. 32 In this Covenant God gave them their Church State, and many external or earthly Blessings, Laws and Ordinances, and they formerly struck Hands (as I may so say) with God, and promised Obedience, Exod. 24.3, 7, 8. And he took the book of the Covenant, and read in the audience of the people, and they said, all that the Lord hath said, will we do and be obedient: And thus God became as an Husband to them, i. e. He fed them, and took special care of them, and to lead them with great Bowels in the Wil∣derness, and bestowed the Land of Canaan upon them, with other Temporal Bles∣sings, according as it was promised to them in the Covenant of Circumcision: Like as a Husband cares for, and provides for the Wife, so did God care and provide for them and preserved them, so long as that Law (I mean the Law of their Husband) did continue: But that Law is now dead, Rom. 7.4. and God now is no longer such a Husband to them, nor hath he Married in that Sense any other external Nation, or People of the World; but now God, in the Gospel Covenant, is an Husband indeed; to them he was but a Typical Husband, and their God in an external Faedoral Relation: And thus he was the God of all Abraham's natural Off-spring; for, in him, he first espoused them as a National Church, and People, and gave them the Covenant of Circumcision, as the Sign, or Token thereof, with many Ecclesiastical and Civil Rites. And this is further confirmed by a Reverend and Learned Writer:Howbeit from the strict Connexion of this 7th. verse with the 6th. and the Assurance here given, that God will establish his Covenant with Abraham's Seed, to be their God: It is evident (saith he) that the Number of Abraham's carnal Seed and the Grandeur of their Civil State, is not all that is promised, nor yet the Principal Blessing bestowed on them therein, but rather the forming them into a Church State, with the establishing of the Ordinan∣ces of publick Worship among them, wherein they should walk in Cove∣nant Relation to God, as his peculiar People: Understand it still (saith he) of the Old Covenant, wherein they had their peculiar Right and Privilege, no less can be intended in this, I will be a God unto them, in their Generations; and it is also made more evident by the following Ac∣count that is given of this Transaction, with respect to Isaac and Ishmael, Gen. 17.18, 21. When the Lord had promised unto Abraham a Son, by Sarah, whose Name should be called Isaac, he thus prayed, O that Ishmael might live before thee! which the Chaldee Paraphraseth thus, i. e. Might live and worship before thee. No doubt, his Prayer was, that Ishmael might also be an Heir of the Blessing of this Covenant; but that was not granted to him; for the Lord would have his Covenant Seed called by Isaac only: With him God would establish his Covenant, having appointed and cho∣sen Page 8 him alone, to be the Heir thereof, who was to be the Child of the Promise, and Son of the Free woman; and yet for Ishmael, in special Fa∣vour with Abraham, whose Seed he was: Thus much he obtained, i. e. That he should be made Fruitful, and multiply exceedingly, Twelve Princes, or Heads of great Families, should spring of him; which im∣ports some Analogy to the Twelve Tribes of Israel after the Flesh, and God would make him a great Nation; and yet, all this fell short of the Blessings of Abraham's natural Off-spring, by Isaac, from which Ishmael was now excluded: It is plain therefore, that the Privilege of the Ec∣clesiastical, as well as the flourishing of the Civil States of Israel, did arise unto them out of the Covenant of Circumcision.
Dr. Bates also, in his Sermon preach'd at Mr. Baxter's Funeral, shews, That God may be said to be the God of a People, several manner of ways. 1.
Thus he clearly confirms what I have said; but observe, in this Sense, God is not said to be the God of a People by way of special Interest.
Sure none can deny, but, by gross Idolatry, the Israelites broke this Cove∣nant; and yet, when they, in Ezekiel's time, became guilty of vile Abominations, the Lord still claimed an Interest in their Children, by ver∣tue of this Covenant. Moreover, thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast born unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devou∣red: Page 9 Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain my children, Ezek. 16.20, 12. The Children they begat in a natural way, when by cursed Idolatry, they had Apostatized from God, (by vertue of this Cove∣nant) God calls his Children, which could not have been, if their Cove∣nant Interest had been as our Brethren affirm, i. e. suspended on the good abearing, or Faith of immediate Parents: But, as the Apostacy of Parents could not hinder their Children from that external Covenant Interest they had in God, and God in them, so the Faith and Holiness of Parents, could not Interest their Children in the special Blessings of the Covenant of Grace.
Lastly, 'Tis remarkable, that when God gave the Sinai Covenant, Exod. 20.1, 2. where he pleads Interest in them as his People, he mentions expresly, upon what account he so owned them; read the Text, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. I am Jehovah, and thy God, having chosen you to be a People to my self above all People; as 'tis said elsewhere, not that as they were thus his People, and a chosen Nation, they had special Interest in God by eternal Election, and peculiar Adoption, no, but a few of them (as it appears) were in that sence, his People: But their God, by vertue of that legal and external Covenant he made with their Fathers, and now again with them, and so bestowed temporal Blessings upon them; therefore 'tis added, That brought thee out of the land of Egypt, not Land of spiritual Dark∣ness, nor house of spiritual Bondage, but literal Bondage, &c.
Obj. 6. Sixthly, Circumcision was a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith. If Circumcision was the Seal of the Righteousness of Faith (saith Mr. Flavell) it did not appertain to the Covenant of Works: For the Righteousness of Faith and Works, are opposite; but Circumcision was the Seal of the Righteousness of Faith, Rom. 4.11. Ergo, pag. 220.
1 Answ. We Answer first, That the Text they bring, doth not call Cir∣cumcision the Seal of the Righteousness of Faith: As 'tis such, or in com∣mon to all that were Circumcised, pray let us read the Words; And he re∣ceived the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he Page 10 had them yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all men that be∣lieve, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also: Rom. 4.11.
First, Observe Circumcision is directly, here called a Sign, and so it was in it self:
- 1. A Sign, or Token of God's making good his Covenant to Abraham's natural Seed, that from his Loins Christ should come by Isaac.
- 2. A Sign, or Token, that the promise of all these Blessings granted to them, either Ecclesiastical, respecting their National Church State, and Civil State, and Temporal Blessings, with their Possessing of the Land of Canaan.
- 3. Of the Circumcision of the Heart, for that it was a Sign of.
2. But it is not called any more a Seal to Abraham, of the Righteousness of that Faith, he had before he was Circumcised, then it was of his being the Father of all them that believe Now since it was principally called a Seal to him, of that peculiar Privilege, and Prerogative, of being the Father of all True Believers, which none had ever granted to them besides himself, Why should they suppose, that Circumcision is here called, a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith to all, as well as to Abraham himself? I de∣sire this may be considered; for Mr. Flavel passes it by in silence, and speaks nothing to it.
3. But Thirdly, To put the Matter out of doubt, it could be a Seal to no other Person, or Persons, but to Abraham only. Because it was a Seal of that Righteousness Abraham had, being yet Uncircumcised, and such a Righteousness, none of his Seed ever had actually, as he had it; (neither of his fleshly, nor spiritual Seed) for first, Isaac had no such Faith before he was Circumcised, because Circumcised when but Eight Days old, and so were generally all his Seed, except you will mention such, who neglect∣ed to Circumcise their Children, and so Transgressed the Command of God, or mention Adult Proselites.
But that will not help the Matter; they must carry it to be a Seal to all that the Covenant of Circumcision belonged to, or else to none but to A∣braham only: but to all, it could not be a Seal, as it was to Abraham, it be∣ing positively said, not to be a Seal of the Righteousness of their Faith, they should have after Circumcised, but of that Faith Abraham particularly had, being yet Uncircumcised.
4. The Scope and Drift of the Holy Ghost, proves it to be thus as we say; for else, there's no need for the Apostle to mention it, as a Seal of that Righteousness of Faith, he had before Circumcision, if others might have it in Circumcision, viz. The Righteousness of God, as 'tis contain∣ed in the Covenant of Grace: (for that they must say, or they say no∣thing) And it farther appears by what the Apostle speaks, viz. That he might be the Father of them that believe, that were not Circumcised. If it had been in Circumcision, or after Circumcision, What Argument would there have been in the Case, i. e. That Abraham should be the Father of those that believe, that are not Circumcised.
Page 11Therefore, in direct Opposition to what Dr. Ames speaks, as cited by Mr. Flavel, I must say, The main Drift and Scope of the Apostle's Ar∣gument from the Coherence of the Text, is to take off the Jews from seeking any spiritual Benefit from Circumcision, or the Law, but by Faith, only seeing; Abraham was Justified, and received the Righteousness of Christ, by Faith, before he was Circumcised, or without Circumcision; and his receiving Circumcision, sealed not only the Righteousness of Faith to him, which he had, being Uncircumcised, (and so to none else) but al∣so, his being the Father of all that Believe, whether Circumcised, or not Circum∣cised.
5. But again, it must be granted to belong to Abraham, only as a Seal, because St. Paul, speaking of Circumcision, Rom. 3.12. says, The chief Advantage, or Privilege, they had thereby, was, because that unto them was committed the Oracles of God. Certainly, he would not have called that the Chief, if Circumcision had been given in common, as a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith: However, when he is a treating of the Pri∣vileges that come by Circumcision, surely he could not have forgotten this, viz. that it was a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith.
6. Let not Men mistake themselves any more, for evident it is, that Circumcision, as 'tis called a Seal to Abraham, so it did not seal to him some∣thing, which he then had not, but might have; but it did seal, really, and truly, the Righteousness of that Faith, which he at that time had: If there∣fore you Baptize Children, who before they are Baptized, do truly believe; no body will be dispeased with you, or if you can prove, your Infants have really and truly such a Faith as Abraham had, and that their Baptism doth seal that Faith to them for Righteousness, which Circumcision sealed to A∣braham, you do your business: But Sirs, pray what Blessings of the Cove∣nant of Grace, doth Baptism now seal to your Infants? O, says one, the Co∣venant is theirs, it belongs to them, and shall we deny them the Seal? what, not let them have a bit of Wax? But stay a little, you must first prove the Co∣venant of Grace, doth indeed belong to Believers Children as such, before you talk at such a rate as you do. A Seal, all Men know, makes firm and sure all the Blessings to the Person, to whom it is sealed, which are contain∣ed in the same Covenant, to which it is fixed: Therefore, take heed you do not blind the Minds of People, and deceive them, by making them think they are in Covenant, when indeed it may be no such thing.
7. Besides, if Circumcision was the Seal of the Covenant of Grace, then it would follow, that the Covenant of Grace made with Abraham, is Abrogated; for the breaking off the Seal, all Men know, cancells the Covenant, and makes it of none Effect: And that Circumcision, which you call the Seal of the Covenant of Grace, that was made with Abraham, is broke off, or torn off by the Death of Jesus Christ, is evident (And this proves, if it was a Seal of the Sinai Covenant, which I say, not but only a Sign) that Covenant is gone, because the Seal is broken off.
Page 128. Circumcision was so far from being a Seal of the Covenant of Grace to all, to whom it did b•long, that it sealed not all those outward Blessings to the Bond-men, or such who were bought with Money, and so were admitted to dwell in Abraham's Family; for it did not seal to them all the outward and external Privileges of the Commonwealth of Israel; for they only belonged to those who were natural Israelites.
Now, from the whole, it seems to me to be a strange Thing, which is lately asserted, viz.
Answer, To which I must say, That they seem to make the Covenant of Grace, such a Conditional Covenant, that renders it in Nature and Quali∣ty, like the Sinai Covenant, or Covenant of Works, i. e. If they perform the Righteousness required, they shall live; if they Obey not, or make not Good, this pretended Covenant of Grace, they shall dye, or be cut off: Let our Brethren, who are sound in the Doctrine of Free-Grace, consider this.
2. And as the Promises of the New Covenant, will admit of no such partial Interest, (saith a Learned Author) so neither can this Opinion con∣sist with the Analogy of Faith, in other Respects; for either the stain of O∣riginal Sin, in these Infanrs is purged, and the dominion of Concupiscence in them destroyed, when their Guilt is pardoned, or it is not; if it be, then the Case of these Infants, in point of Perseverance, is the same with Adult Persons, that are under Grace, by actual Faith; and then a final A∣postacy, from the Grace of the New Covenant, must be allowed to be∣fall the one, as well as the other, notwithstanding all Provisions of that Covenant, and Engagement of God therein, to make the Promise sure to all the Seed, Rom. 4.16.
But this the Author will not admit: If he say, That their Guilt is par∣doned, but their Natures are not changed, or renewed, nor the Power of Original Corruption destroyed, so as that Sin, shall not have Dominion over them; it will be replyed, That then, notwithstanding their supposed Pardon, they remain as an unclean Thing, and so uncapable of admission into the Kingdom of God. Thus this worthy Author.
3. To which let me add, Certainly if Divine Habits were in those Infants, they would immediately be manifested; or be sure when they are grown up, would appear in them by gracious Operations flowing from Page 13 thence: But since those Acts, or Products of such a gracious Habit, ap∣pear not in them, 'tis evident, they never had them infused.
4. All that are in the Covenant of Grace, (if they live) the Fruits of Faith and Holiness, will flow naturally from those sacred Habits, God hath by his spirit planted in them, as heat and light doth from the Fire, when 'tis kindled on the Hearth. The Truth is, such who are united to Christ, and have Faith in him, and so are actually in the Covenant of Grace, are also washed and purged from Sin, and Pollution, see Ezek. 16. Rom. 5.14. Act. 15.10. None can have Union with Christ, but by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit; and wheresoever the Spirit of Christ is, it applies, The Blood of the Covenant, not only for Pardon, but also for the purg∣ing the Conscience from dead Works, to serve the living God:
5. To conclude with this, 'tis evident, these Men must, by their No∣tion, make every believing Parent to be (considered in respect of that Co∣venant made with Abraham) a common Head and Father, not only to his own natural Seed, but to all Believers also, as Abraham was, and then it would follow, that there are as many common Fathers, like as Abraham was so called, as there are believing Men in the World, and so a knowing, or knowledge of Men still after the Flesh, which the Apostle disclaims, 2 Cor. 5. 17. Besides, the Thing is usurp'd in it self: Therefore, let all know, That a Believers Right to the Blessings of the Covenant of Grace made with Abraham's, or by vertue of that Promise made with him, do relate to such a Seed as do believe, and not as Co-ordinate with him, in Covenant Interest; they are not each one, by this Covenant, made the Father of a Blessed Seed, as Abraham was the Father of the Faithful, neither can they claim the Promise for themselves, and their Seed, according to the Tenour of Abraham's Covenant, as he might, (as this Author observes) but they must believe as Abraham did, or have a Faith of their own: For if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the Promise, Gal. 3 29. This the same Author notes.
Obj. 7. The Covenant of Circumcision, was an Everlasting Covenant, there∣fore it was the Covenant of Grace.
Answ. I Answer, 'Tis not unknown to our Opponants, that the Hebrew Word, for Everlasting, sometimes signifies no more then a long continuance. of time.— And so extensive was the Promise of God's peculiar Favours Page 14 to the natural Seed of Abraham, and the original of their Claim there-from that the severity of that Law afterwards given to them, was so far restrain∣ed, as that (notwithstanding their manifold breach of Covenant with God, and forfeiture of all legal Claim of their Right and Privileges in the Land of Canaan thereby) that they were never utterly cut off from that good Land, and ceased, to be a peculiar People unto God, untill the end or period of that time, determined by the Almighty, was fully come; which was the Re∣vealation of the Messiah, and the setting up his spiritual Temple, under the Dispensation of the Gospel; and thus far, the Word Everlasting doth ex∣tend. 'Tis said, God promised to give the Land of Canaan to Abraham, and to his Seed for ever; and again, Gen. 17.8. for an everlasting Inheri∣tance; whereas it is evident, they have for many Ages, been dispossessed of it: Nor may this seem strange, if we consult other Texts, where the same Terms are used with the like Restriction; for the Priesthood of Levi, is called an Everlasting Priesthood, Numb. 25.13. And the Gates of the Tem∣ple, Everlasting Doors, Psal. 24.6. so the Statute, to make an Atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and for the Tabernacle, and for the Altar, and for the Priests, and for all the People of the Congregation, is called, an Ever∣lasting Statute, Levit. 16.34. And this shall be for an everlasting statute, &c. So that from hence 'tis very clear, that the Word Everlasting is to be taken sometimes with Restriction, and referrs to the end of that Dispensation, to which the Law, Statute, or Covenant did belong; and when Christ came, as all Mosaical Rites ended, so did the Covenant of Circumcision also.
God never said, he would be the God of Abraham's natural Seed as such, as he gave himself to him, and to all his true spiritual Seed; for to them he gives himself, or an Interest in all God is, or has (so far as communi∣cative) even for ever and ever, or to all Eternity; the Covenant of Grace, being ordered in all things, and sure, 2 Sam. 23.5. 'Tis impossible this Co∣venant, and Covenant Blessings, which is comprehensive of all Grace here, and Glory hereafter, should referr to a certain Period of time; and since he was not thus in Covenant with Abraham's carnal Seed as such, 'tis evident, the Covenant of Circumcision, (tho' called, an Everlasting Covenant) was not the Covenant of Grace. And so much to this Obje∣ction.
8. Obj. There was never but one Covenant of Works, and that God made with Adam, and in him with all his Post•rity; therefore the Covenant of Circumcision did not appertain in the Covenant of Works: See Mr. Flavel.
Answ. First, Our Controversie, lies not so much about, the Covenant of Works, as given to Adam, but about the Nature of Sinai Covenant, since Circumcision appears to be of the same Nature with that: I do not say, in every respect, there is no difference between the Covenant of Works made with Adam, and that made with the Peop•e of Israel▪ though the• differ not Essentially in Substance, 'tis all one and the same Covenant, viz. Requiring compleat and perfect Righteousness.
Page 152. Therefore, tho' there is but one Covenant of Works, yet there was more than one Addition, or Administration of the said Covenant: This is evident, although given upon a different end, purpose, and design, by the Lord.
Adam's Covenant, I grant, had one end and design, and the Sinai Co∣venant of Works had another; yet, may be, both, as to the Essence and Substance of them but one and the same Covenant: Which, doubtless, is all Mr. Cary intends.
1. Adam's Covenant had Happiness, and Justification in it, by his per∣fect Obedience thereto; and he being able, in the time of his Innocency, to keep it, he was thereby Justified.
2. But the Second Edition, or Ministration of the Covenant of Works, given to the People of Israel, tho' in its Nature and Quality, it was a Co∣venant of Works, and one with the former, yet it was not given for Life or to Justifie them, nor was it able so to do, by reason of their Weakness through the Flesh, Rom. 8.3. But it was added because of Transgres∣sion.
1. To restrain Sin, (or as I said before) to regulate their Lives under those external Covenant Transactions of God with them, as his People, as before expressed.
2. To make Sin appear exceeding sinful.
3. To discover to them, what Righteousness it is God doth require, in order to the Justification of the Soul in his Sight.
4. To make known to them thereby, what a Righteousness Man, ori∣ginally, in the First Adam, had, and lost; and
5thly, It did discover their woefull Condition to them, and might put •hem upon seeking Relief and Justification, by the promised Seed, and so be as a School-Master, to bring them to Christ.
6. That in their Conformity to it, to their utmost Power, to continue •ll those outward Blessings, and Privileges to the House, or Church of Israel, as God promised to Abraham upon that Account; for 'tis evident, the Pro∣mises made to them, upon their Obedience, were Earthly and Temporal Promises, and not Spiritual. Hence the Apostle saith, the New Cove∣nant is established upon better Promises. — And
Now, that the Sinai Covenant was a Covenant of Works, (as considered •n it self) notwithstanding the end and design of God therein, (I find many of our sound Protestant Divines do affirm) tho' given with a merciful and gracious intention▪ or in subserviency to the Gospel.
1. It commanded, or did require perfect or compleat Obedience.
2. On these Terms, Do and Live.
3. It gave no strength, nevertheless, to perform what its just Demands were: Hence the strength of Sin is called, the Law; it did Condemn, but could not Save.
Page 164. Nor was there any Pardon, or Remission of Sin, by that Covenant, for any Soul that broke it; for, He that despised against Moses's Law, dyed with∣out mercy, under two or three witnesses, Heb. 10.28. — Moreover,
5. It cursed all that did not continue in all Things that were contained in the whole Book of the Law to do them, Gal. 3.10.
6. The Holy Ghost calls it the Old Covenant, in contra- distinction, and direct Opposition to the Covenant of Grace, or Gospel Covenant.
The law is not of fait•: but, the man that doth those things, them shall live in them, Gal. 3.12 And tho' Moses was the Mediator of that Covenant, yet he was but a Typical Mediator, and stood between God and them, to plead for the Bles∣sings of that Covenant, and to prevent the Threatnings of Temporal Judg∣ments; for there was never but one Mediator between God and us, upon a spiritual Account, i. e. To stand between eternal Wrath and us, or to make Peace with God for our Souls. —
Take what the Learned Bishop Usher hath said about the Law, as a Cove∣nant of Works, viz.
Quest. How doth this Covenant (i. e. The Covenant of Grace) differ from that of Works.
And if the Sinai Covenant was not a Covenant of Works, Why do all our Brethren say, as it was a Covenant of Works, 'tis done away? and, Why doth the Apostle say, Christ is the end of the Law, as touch∣ing Righteousness? It is not abolished, or done away, as 'tis a Rule of Righteousness, for as so it abides, as a perpetual Rule and Law to us.
Therefore, I wonder at Mr. Flavel's Out-crys against Mr. Cary, as if it was impossible for the Saints to be under the Covenant of Works, under Page 17 the former Dispensation, and yet in the Covenant of Grace; for I would know, Whether or not, they were not, at that time, under the Ministrati∣on of that Covenant? but what, tho' no sooner did they believe in Christ, the Promised Seed, but they were delivered from the Curse of the Law. Nor is this any strange Thing, For are not all now, in these Days, under the Dispensation of the Gospel? yet, untill Men and Women believe in Christ, they abide still under the Curse of the Law of the First Covenant; for Christ is not the end of the Law to all the World, (so as some erro∣neously assert, i. e. all are justified in God's sight, from the Curse of the Law) but he is only the end of the Law, touching Righteousness to every one that beleiveth, to them, and to no other Adult Person: Therefore Men might be under the outward Dispensation of the Law of Works, and yet through Faith, be Justified; and also, others may be, and are now, under the Dis∣pensation of the Gospel; and yet, for not believing in Christ, be Con∣demned, and under the Curse of the Law: For the Gospel is not the Cause of our Sickness, but our Cure; none believing, is the refusal of the Medicine: So that there's no Reason for him to say, (because we assert this)
Quest. Doth not God wrong to Men, to require of him, that he is not able to perform?
Answ. He Answers
To proceed▪ I do affirm, That always, generally, when the Apostle speaks of the Old Covenant, or Covenant of Works, he passes by, in silence, Page 18 the Covenant made with Adam, and more immediately, and directly, ap∣plies it unto the Sinai Covenant, and to that of Circumcision, as all care∣ful Readers, who read the Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and to the He∣brews, may clearly find.
And farther, to evince the Truth we contend for; 'tis evident, That al∣though there is (and ever was) but one Covenant of Grace, yet nothing is more plain then that there were several distinct Additions of it, altho' we say, the Promise or Gospel Covenant, was one and the same, in all Ages, in respect of the Things promised, with the Nature and Quality thereof; which is a free and absolute Covenant, without Works, or Conditions of foreseen Acts of Obedience, or Righteousness done, by the Creature what∣soever, Rom. 4.5.
The Substance, and Essential Part of this Gospel Covenant, as to the Promises of it, is Christ, Faith, a New Heart, Regeneration, Remission of Sins, Sanctification, Perseverance, and everlasting Life: Yet, this Evan∣gelical Covenant, had divers Forms, Additions, or Transcripts of it, which signified those Things, and the various Sanctions, by which it was given forth, and confirmed.
To Adam, the Promise of it was under the Name Of the Seed of the Woman, bruising the Head of the Serpent. To Enoch, Noah, &c. in other Terms. To Abraham, under the Name of His Seed, in whom all the Nati∣ons of the Earth should be blessed. To Moses, by the Name of A great Pro∣phet among his Brethren; and it was signified also unto him under dark Sha∣dows, and Sacrifices. Unto David, under the Name of A Successour in his Kingdom. To other Prophets, more clearer still made known, Unto as a Child is born; a Woman shall compass a Man; a New Covenant I will make, &c In the New Testament, in plain Words, We all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3.18.
But now, because there were so many Additions, or Ministrations of the Gospel, or New Covenant, Doth it follow, there are so many New Co∣venants? This being so, Mr. Flavel hath done nothing to remove Mr. Cary's Arguments, but they stand firm: For he says not, That the Sinai Mini∣stration of the Covenant of Works, was ordained to justifie Mankind; nor was it possible it could, after a Man had sinned; and yet in its Nature, an absolute Covenant of Works, or do for Life, or Perish. The Man that doeth these Things, shall live in them.
Obj. 9. Circumcision could not oblige the Iews, in its own Nature, to keep the whole Law, because Paul Circumcised Timothy: If, in the very Nature of the Act, it had bound Timothy to keep the Law for Iustification, how could it have been Paul's Liberty so to do? saith Mr. Flavel, which he asserts it was, Gal. 2.3, 4. p. 226.
Answ. 1. That Circumcision did oblige the Jews to keep the whole Law, is evident, Gal. 5.3. and, as I hinted before, our Learned Annotators, on the said place, speak the same Thing positively. Take more largely their Page 19 very Words:
2. But, as to Paul's Circumcising Timothy, it was, when he knew Cir∣cumcision was abolished; and therefore, it could not oblige him, Paul well knew, to keep the Law. Sith no Law, in its own Nature, can oblige any Person, according to the Nature, and Quality of it, when 'tis abrogated and in no force, tho' he saw it was his Liberty, for some Reasons to do it: But those Christians, corrupted by false Teachers, did not believe, That Circumcision, and other Legal Rites, were abolished, but that they were in full Force as ever; and therefore, he tells them, (granting it was, as they believed) if they were Circumcised, they were obliged to keep the whole Law, tho' his great Design was to take them off from seeking Justi∣fication by Works. Therefore,
3. 'Tis evident, Paul did not Circumcise Timothy, in Obedience to the Law given by the Lord; but for other Politick Reasons, in complying with the weakness of some Jewish Christians: After the same manner he submitted to some other Rites also, of the Ceremonial Law, as shaving the head, and purifying himself, which was then also abolished, tho' not deadly, say Expositors, then though those Ceremonies, were dead, and so nothing in them, Act. 21.24. Circumcision was, alas! dead, and this Paul knew, therefore could not hurt Timothy: But those, to whom he wrote, thought it was alive; and therefore, it would not only hurt, but destroy them, or be destructive to them, upon the Account of the Obligation it lay them under, if it was as they conceived. This being so, What is become of Mr. Flavel's Argument, which he makes such boast of, as if unanswerable? pag. 231.
Obj. 10. The Root is Holy, therefore the Branches; that is, as Abraham was Holy, so were all his Seed; and as Believers are Holy, so are all their Children; and as the natural Branches of Abraham was broken off for their Unbelief, so the Gentiles are grafted in, in their stead, and succeed in their Privileges, and so their Seed are Holy, with an external relative Covenant Holiness, Rom. 11.16. and therefore, may be Baptized, and have Right to Church Membership.
*Answ. There is a Two fold Holiness spoken of:
- 1st. An external foederal Holiness.
- 2d. A True spiritual inherent Holiness.
Page 20Now the Children of Believing Gentiles, are not Holy with an exter∣nal relative foederal Holiness nor have they a Right to Baptism, nor Church Membership, for Two Reasons:
- First, Because Baptism is of mere positive Right, nothing but a Com∣mand, Example, or some well grounded Authority from Christ, that can give them a Right thereto.
- Secondly, Because the Gospel Church is not constituted, as the Jewish Church was, 'tis not National, but Congregational; it consisteth not of the carnal Seed as such, but only of the spiritual Seed, i. e. Adult Per∣sons who believe. Where do we find, in all the New Testament, That the Children of Believers as such, were Baptised, and taken into the Church, as being in an external relative Covenant? Holy Mr. Tho. Goodwin (as I find him quoted by a Learned Writer, in a Book called Two Treatises, p. 6•.) saith,
In the New Testament, there is no other Holiness spoken of, but Personal, or Real, by Regeneration; a∣bout which, he challenged all the World, to shew to the contrary.I have shewed you, The Ax is laid at the Root of all external, relative, foederal, Holiness, which qualified under the Law, for Jewish Ordinances, and Church Membership.— But
3 We will now come to examine this Text of Holy Scripture, Rom. 11.16. There are various Interpretations of what is meant by the Root in this place.
- 1. Some understand it of the Covenant.
- 2. Some of Christ.
- 3. Some of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- 4. Some of Abraham only.
I now agree with the last, and say Abraham is the Root spoken of here: But pray observe, as he was a Two-fold Father, so he was a Two-fold Root: First, The Father, or Root of all that believe, Secondly, The Fa∣ther, or Root of all his Natural Seed as such; but this place referrs to him as he was the Root of all his True spiritual Seed; and if so, the Holiness of the Branches is real, spiritual, and internal; (and not external foederal Holiness) for such, as is the Holiness of the Root (as meant here) such is the Holiness of the Branches; but Abraham was believingly, personally, spiritually, and internally Holy, Ergo, such are all the Branches spoken of here. And indeed, for want of Faith, and spiritual Holiness, that was in the Root. were many of the Natural Branches broken of, from being any more a People, in an external Covenant Relation with God; for this is the Covenant I have shewed, The Ax is now laid at the Root of, viz. the External Covenant. The Jews were broken off, or cut down by their Unbelief; their Old Church State, and Covenant being gone, they not believing in Christ, and so united to the True Olive, and the Gentiles by Faith, were grafted in; they having obtained the Fatness of the Root, o•Page 21 Faith, and Righteousness of Abraham, and of the Covenant of Grace made with him, who is called, The Father of all that believe.
A Learned Writer says,
The Holiness here meant, is First, in respect of God's Election, i. e. Holiness, personal and inherent in God's intention.
It is also a Holiness, derivative, not from any Ancestors, but Abra∣ham, not as a natural Father, but as a spiritual Father, or Father of the faithfull; and so derived from the Covenant of Grace made with Abra∣ham.
From hence it appears, There is nothing in this illustrious Scripture, for what these Men bring it, who think hereby to prove a Holiness, which the New Testament knows nothing of; applying, the Holiness and Insection to outward Dispensation, only in the visible Church, which is meant of Sa∣ving Grace, in the invisible, and make every believing Parent, like Root to his Posterity with Abraham, to his Seed; which we deny.
Let therefore the Jews Covenant, standing before they were broken off (from being any more a Covenant People) be what it would, I am sure no Gentile is graften into Christ, nor Jew neither, but by Faith; nor can any be grafted into the Gospel Church, without the Profession of such a Faith.
The Jews, 'tis true, were broken off by their Unbelief, and were also now no more a Church; nor is there (as I said once before) any such kind of Church, constituted under the Gospel Dispensation, as theirs was, viz. A National one: For they, amongst the Jews, who were True Be∣lievers, (or the spiritual Seed of Abraham) who receiving Jesus Christ by Faith, were planted a new into the Gospel Church; and between them, and Gentile Believers, there is no difference, since the middle Wall of Par∣tition is broken down, Eph. 2.14. Jew, and Gentile, stand now by Faith, and not by external, relative Covenant Holiness. Thou standeth, (saith Paul) by Faith: O Believer! (mark it) not by Birth, Privileges, but by by Faith; (as worthy Mr. Gary observes)
The Legal External Covenant made with the Jews, whilst it abode, was a Wall of Separation, or Partition between them, and the Gentiles, and caused Enmity in them both, in the Jews, because they contemned the Gentiles, as a People Unclean, and Abominable; not being Circumcised, they Hated them: And the poor Gentiles, they seeing themselves out of the Covenant, and so deemed Strangers and Foreigners, and without God in the World, they envied the Jews: But now Jesus Christ has broken down this Wall of Partition, and slain the Enmity that was between them, which was the Ceremonial Law, and Covenant of Circumcision, and all other ex∣ternal Privileges, as they were God's peculiar Covenant People, and these be∣ing abolished, and gone, now both Jew and Gentile are made one in Christ, and become one new Body, or Church, viz. A Christian Gospel Church: And hence he adds, And, that he might reconcile both unto God, in one body by the Cross, ver. 16. That is, The outward Wall of Jewish Rites, and Pri∣vileges being gone, Christ thereby designed, to bring both Jew, and Gen∣tile (viz. all the Elect) unto God, and both into one Church State, no Per∣son, nor People now, having any external Privilege above others, by the Gospel Covenant: And if the Jews external Birth-Privileges, were a Wall of Partition between them, and the Gentiles, let Men take heed how they set up another like Wall of Partition among them, who are Be∣lievers, and their Seed, and Unbelieving Gentiles, and their Seed, lest that prove a ground and cause of like Enmity between believing, and un∣believing Gentiles, as the Old Rites, and Covenant Privileges did, between Jews, and Gentiles.
But to open that Text, Rom. 11.16. a little more fully, as I have for∣merly done, 'tis evident the Apostle, in the 9th. and 10th. Chapters to the Romans, is treating of the Election of Grace, and of the Covenant of Grace, God made with Abraham: These were his People which he had not cast away, chap. 10.1. And of this sort, God had 7000 in Elias's Days, ver. 4. Even so, saith he, at this present time also there is a remnant ac∣cording to the election of grace, ver. 5. Hence he says, What, then Israel hath not obtained, &c. but the Election hath obtained, and the rest were blinded, ver. 7. He farther shews, That abundance of the natural Seed of Abraham, were broken off, How were they broken off? Why, for their Unbelief; they not Receiving Christ, but Rejected Him, and the Gospel: And the New Church State were broken off; but that the Gentiles might not boast over them, the Apostle shews, There is ground left, to believe, all those that be∣long to the Election of Grace, shall, in God's due time, be brought in a∣gain, and so partake of the Blessings of the Gospel Covenant, or Promise of Grace made to Abraham's spiritual Seed; and to prove this, he in ver. 16. lays down an Argument; For, if the First-fruits be Holy, the Lump is also Holy, and if the Root be Holy, so are the Branches.
Page 23By the Root, I understand (as I said before) Abraham, is meant, Root, and Father, signifying here the same thing; Abraham being counted the Root, or Father, as God represents him, (not only of his own natural Off-spring) but of all that believe, or the Root of all his true, holy, and spiritu∣al Seed, and so intended here.
By the First-fruits, may be meant, Isaac, Iacob, and all the Holy Patri∣archs, for they were given to Abraham, as the First-fruits of the Covenant of Grace, or Free Promise of God to him; and these were Holy, with a true, spiritual, personal, and inherent Holiness: Also,
Thirdly, By the Lump, may be meant, (and doubtless is) the whole Bo∣dy of the Elect, or spiritual Seed of Abraham, from the time the First fruits were given to him, untill the Gospel Days, or whole Lump of God's true Israel, who also were all Holy as the Root, and First-fruits, were Holy.
Fourthly, by the Branches, he means, the true spiritual Seed of Abraham, or the Elect Seed, that then were living at that present time, as ver. 5. Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant, according to the Electi∣on of Grace. And these were Holy likewise, even as all the rest, both as the Root; First-fruits, and Lump, or whole Body were Holy; that is, all the the spiritual Seed of Abraham, were like himself, viz. Holy, in a Gospel Sense, with a personal and inherent Holiness. Now observe, he speaks of some Branches that were broken off, these seemed to be Branches, or Chil∣dren of Abraham: And so they were according to the Flesh; (but were like those Branches in Christ, who bear no Fruit, Joh. 15.2, 3, 4. and therefore taken away) he alludes, to the natural Seed of Abraham, to whom he stood, not, as a spiritual Father, or Root, but as a natural, and legal Father, as they were a National Church, and sprang from him as such, to whom the external legal Covenant was made; and these as such, for rejecting of Christ, were broken off, (1.) Not broken off from the Election of Grace, for to that they did not belong. (2.) Nor were they broken off of the Gospel Church, for they never were grafted into that: but (3dly,) they were broken off from being any more a Church, or People, in Covenant with God, the whole Old Church State, and Constitution, being gone, by the coming in of the Gospel Dispensation, and they not closing in with Christ, in the Covenant of Grace, and Gospel Church, but utterly reje∣cted him, and the New Church State: For this they were broken off as a lost People, because not re-planted, or implanted into Jesus Christ, and the true Gospel Church, the Old being gone, quite rased, and taken away: They have now no Root to stand upon, having lost their Legal standing, and Privileges, as Abraham was their Father, upon that very Foot of Ac∣count, and they not appearing to be the true Branches, or Seed of Abra∣ham, as he was the Father of all the Faithful, or of all the Elect Seed, they must, of necessity, from hence be broken off, from being the People of God, or belonging to any Common Head, or Root, in any Covenant Re∣lation to God, at all: The Dispensation being changed, the Old House Page 24 pulled down Agar, and her Son, cast out. Old things past away, and all things being now, become New.
But this New State, New Blessings, and New Church Privileges they re∣jected, and so were the natural Branches broken off, and the Gentiles (who were wild by Nature, that is, never were in any visible Covenant State with God, nor, in any sense, related to Abraham, as a Root) were grafted into the True Olive, Jesus Christ, and into the Gospel Church and so Partakers of the sap and fatness of the Root, and of the Olive, that is, of the spi∣ritual Blessings of Christ, and of the Covenant of Grace made with Abra∣ham, and Privileges of the Gospel Church; and this they received, and partook of us, as being first grafted by saving Faith in Christ, and so united to his Mystical Body. But since there are a great Number of the natural Branches, that are beloved for their Father's sake, that is, for their Father Abraham's sake, as the Root, and Father of all the Elect Seed, they shall, in due time, be grafted in again, and so become a People visibly owned of God, and in Covenant with him, as the True Seed now actually are, and formerly were.
And if this be considered▪ What doth this Text do, to prove the natural Seed of Believers are in the Gospel Covenant, or are externally, relatively, and foederally Holy; for if the natural Seed of Abraham can lay no claim, nor have any Right to Gospel Precepts, or Privileges as such, but are bro∣ken off, What ground is there for us, to think within our selves, that we, or our natural Off-spring, as such, should be taken in, and so another Wall of Partition, and cause of Enmity, set up between believing, and unbeliev∣ing Gentiles, and their Seed as such?
The Apostle speaks, not of Branches, or of being Holy with an exter∣nal, relative Covenant Holiness, but of such a spiritual Gospel Holiness that was in the Root, viz. Abraham, who believed in God, and it was coun∣ted to him for Righteousness: And thus, all his true spiritual Seed, who are actual Branches and in Covenant are Holy, and also, all the Elect of Abra∣ham, not yet called, are discretively Holy, or in God's sight so, who calls things that are not, as if they were; they are all Holy in his Account, and bele∣ved for their Father's sake, with whom the Covenant of Grace was made for himself, and all his spiritual Seed: And 'tis from this Argument, the Apostle argues, for the calling of the Iews, and grafting them in, who be∣long to the Election of Grace. —
Therefore, there is no ground for Infants Church Membership, or Baptism, from hence▪ and those who make every Believer a common Head, or Root of their natural Off-spring, as Abraham was, either way, know not what they affirm, nor what they say: see Rector Rectified. Moreover, the Jews, who were broken off, are still the natural Seed of Abraham; and if therefore, this Holiness was an external, relative, foederal Holiness▪ they are still in that Sense Holy, as far forth as any Child of believing Gentiles as such, can be said to be; but, 'tis evident, this is not that Holiness, of Page 25 which the Apostle speaks, nor is there any such Holiness, under the Gos∣pel Dispensation, spoken of, as to that Text, in 1 Cor. 7.14. Else were your Children unclean, but now are they Holy — this is so fully answered in that late Treatise Entituled, The Rector Rectify'd, &c. that I shall speak nothing now to it; for from the Scope of the place, 'tis evident, the Apo∣stle speaks of Matrimonial Sanctification, and of the Holiness of Legitima∣tion, see pag. 134. to 140. so that there Mr. Rothwell hath his Arguments answered, touching Infants faedoral Holiness under the Law, &c.
Obj. 11. If the Children of Believers, as such, are not now under the Gospe• in Covenant with them, and so to be admitted Members of the Church as for¦merly, then the Privileges of the Gospel Covenant (and Membership) are strait∣ned, and fewer than they were under the Law, Mr. R's. Paedo-Baptismus pag. 2.3.
Answ. 'Tis not once to be supposed, but that the External or Tempo∣ral Privileges of the Iews under the Law, were more and larger (as well as Church-Membership) than those we have under the Gospel Dis∣pensation, since their Church was national, and their Promises and Pri∣vileges consisting in earthly Blessings: (as they were a People considered in that old Covenant Relation) for the Jewish Teachers or Priests of God had many external Privileges, which no Gospel Minister can once pre∣tend unto.
Minister's Sons had all a Right to the Ministry, they had a Right to the Tenths of all their Brethren's Increase and first Fruits, and a multitude of other Advantages besides, viz. they had a Civil Government of their own, Power to punish Capital Offenders with Death; their Temporal Ru∣lers were among themselves, but Christ hath not set up such a Gospel po∣litical Church-State, nor given such Power and such a Government to his Church under the Gospel: what will be in the Kingdom of Christ in the last days we know not.
They had a lovely and fruitful Land given to them for their Inheri∣tance, that flowed with Milk and Honey, they were promised outward Peace, Riches, and gathering of much Wealth, so are not we; they had a glorious external Temple, and what not; also all their natural Off-spring, were born Members of their Church. But none of these Privileges can we lay claim unto; all that are to be admitted into the Gospel-Church, have only a Right by Regeneration (by the second Birth) and not by the first Birth, we are to expect Persecution and trouble in the World, and not Peace and Prosperity; Poverty and Want, and not Riches or earthly Fulness: yet our Privileges are better and greater under the Go∣spel, than theirs were under the Law, the Gospel Covenant being esta∣blished upon better Promises: Our Children when grown up, sit under the clear and glorious Light, and Preaching of the Gospel; which they, and theirs had then held forth, but in dark shadows, moreover the Par∣•ition Wall being now broken down, the Gospel Church is not confin'd to Page 26 the one People or Nation only, but now all, in all Nations of the World, who believe and embrace Christ by saving Faith; whether Iews or Gentiles, are Joint-heirs together, and have Interest in like spiritual Blessings, now greater Infusions of the Spirit. Alas! what Privileges had the poor Gen∣tiles under the Law, and their Children? Is not the matter well amended with us? Sir, this being so, what is become of your Rational Arguments, for Infant Baptism? p. 2, 3.
Obj. 12. Circumcision in the very direct and primary End of it, teached Man, the Corruption of his Nature by sin, and the Mortification of sin; therefore 〈◊〉 Covenant of Works, or Condition of it. (to this purpose Mr. Flavel speaks, pag. 231.
Answ. I answer, though it should be granted, that Circumcision had such an End, yet that, that was the direct and primary End of it, he proves not; for the direct and more immediate End and Design thereof (we have proved) was something else, although we grant it was a dark Sign, Type or Figure of that they speak of, viz. to discover the Corruption of Nature by sin, and the Mortification thereof, and so also did most of the Cere∣monies of the Law: but doth it therefore follow, those Ceremonies (and so Circumcision) did not appertain to that Ministration of the Covenant of Works God gave by Moses to the People of Israel, which is abrogated and done away. Must the Shadow or Sign be part of the Substance, or belong, or appertain to the Substance?
Wherefore, (as Mr. Cary well saith,) until they can prove the Sinai Cove∣nant and Ceremonial Law, &c. not to be in their own Nature a Covenant of Works, this which they object here, has nothing in it; since Sacrifices, the Passover, &c. as well as Circumcision, were Types of Christ, and other Gospel-Mysteries likewise: and indeed Mr. Flavel seems to me to run upon a Mistake all along in his Answer to Mr. Cary, as if the latter makes no di∣stinction between Adam's Covenant of Works, and those after Administra∣tions of the same Old Covenant: for Mr. Cary, I am satisfied, means no more than what I have said, viz. That they agree in Nature and Quality, tho' Adam had Life and Justification by his own perfect Obedience unto that Law or Covenant, while he stood, and it was given to him to that end; yet God gave not the Sinai Covenant, which required perfect Obedience, to the end Man might be thereby justified; nor was it possible he could, since he had sinned, and lost his power to obey: but that Law contains a clear Transcript of the first Law, and so of the Holiness of God, and of that Righteousness Man originally had, and lost; and of the Impossibility of his being justified, without such a compleat and perfect Righteousness: but the Law as written in the two Tables, was given in Mercy (upon the Score or Account I have mentioned) to Israel, in Subserviency to the Go∣spel, and to it was annexed the Ceremonies, to shew that a plenary Satis∣faction must be made for the breach of God's Holy Law, and that this must be by Blood, tho' not by blood of Bulls or Goats, but they might have Page 27 understood, that by them, the Sacrifice and Blood of Christ was figured, could they have seen to the end, or purport of them.
Therefore the true Distinction lies here, viz. Both are the first Cove∣nant of Works; both shew Man must live, and sin not, if he would be justified in God's sight: the first in Man's Innocency, answered the end of a Covenant of Works; the second Administration thereof could not give Life, nor was it given to that end, but it answered the end for which God gave it: and so much to this Objection.
Obj. 13. You cannot deny, but Circumcision sealed the Righteousness of Faith to Abraham, and how can you prove a Seal of the Covenant of Works can be ap∣plied to such a use and service? Thus Mr. Flavel, p. 234.
Answ. 1. I answer first, who of us say that Circumcision was a Seal of the Covenant of Works? there is a great difference between a Seal of a Covenant, and that which was given as a Sign or Token of that legal and ex∣ternal Covenant God made with all Abraham's natural Seed as such, a•d that Circumcision was such a Sign we have before shewed; as also of their having the Covenant or Law of Mount Sinai, and Land of Canaan given to them, &c.
2. But that Circumcision was a Seal of that Faith Abraham himself had, (not being yet Circumcised) and that he should be the Father of all that believe, Paul possibly affirms, Rom. 4.16. and yet it might well be of use to him also, as a Sign or Token of those other Covenant Rights and Bles∣sings granted to his natural Off-spring, is evident.
3. And from hence we have proved, that Circumcision could not be so, a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith to any other Person or Persons, none having the like Faith before they were Circumcised, as Abraham had; nor were they made common Fathers to all true Believers, whether Iews or Gentiles.
Obj. 14. Where the Covenant of Circumcision is by the Apostle contra-distin∣guished to the Covenant of Faith, Rom. 4.13. the Law in that place, is put strictly for the pure Law of Nature, and metatypically signified the Works of the Law, p. 235.
Answ. 1. I suppose no Man besides Mr. Flavel, ever asserted such a thing as this is: I would know how Circumcision (a meer positive Precept) came to be a part of the Pure Law of Nature? for 'tis evident, that the Law Paul contra-distinguisheth from the Righteousness of Faith, had Circum∣cision in it, or else the same Apostle needed not to have taken such pains to have distinguished between Circumcision and the Righteousness of Faith; and had Circumcision appertained to the Righteousness of Faith, or been a Gospel Covenant, why doth he exclude it with the Law from being so counted? read v. 10, 11, 12, 13.
2. The Law therefore, of which the Apostle speaks, is that Ministra∣tion of the Law given to Israel, of which Circumcision was part, and so Page 28 of the like Nature and Quality with it; and both contra-distinguished to the Covenant of Grace, or to the Righteousness of Faith.
And that the Law here is put strictly for the pure Law of Nature, is whol∣ly without Reason, Proof▪ or Demonstration; what Law doth the Apostle speak of in the preceding Chapters, and also in this, see chap. 3.1, 2. is it not that he calls the Oracles of God, or Lively Oracles, Act. 7.38. given on Mount Sinai? The Law of Nature, and the written Law con∣tained in the two Tables▪ are all one and the same Law; as to the Sub∣stance of them, they are materially the same, tho' not formally; both convinced of Sin, both bring Sinners under Guilt and Condemna∣tion, and so that all Mouths may be stopped, and all the World become guilty be∣fore God, Rom. 3 19. both are a Rule to walk by, both Witnesses for God, but neither of them can give Life, nor justifie the Sinner in the sight of God, v. 20. Therefore neither of them are any part of the Co∣venant of Grace, for if one of them is a part of it, both of them are; if the Law of Nature be not so, the Law written in the Tables of Stone was not so: yet the Iews had the Advantage of the Gentiles, because their Law was wrote in far more legible Characters than the dimm Law of Na∣ture, Rom. 3.2. as well as in many other respects.
Obj. The denying Baptism to Infants, hinders the Progress of the Christian Re∣ligion.
1. That Principle which hinders the Progress of the Christian Religion, can be no Christian Doctrine; but the denying Baptism to Infants, hinders the Progress of the Christian Religion; therefore such a Principle can be no Christian Doctrine, this is Mr. Rothwell's main Argument, pag. 2, 3. to prove the Minor thus he argues, (viz.)
2. That Principle which makes the Covenant of Grace less beneficial and exten∣sive than the Covenant of Works, hinders the Propagation of the Christian Reli∣gion: but the former Principle does so. Ergo,
To prove the Minor of this Argument, he adds another, viz. That Prin∣ciple which allows not as great Immunities, Benefits and Privileges to the Cove∣nant of Grace, as to the Covenant of Works, makes the Covenant of Grace less beneficial and extensive than the Covenant of Works; but the Principle that denies Baptism to Infants, does so, Ergo.
Answ. 1. This Gentleman calls these Rational Arguments; but I have no∣thing but his own word for it: but to proceed, he should have shewed what those Immunities and Benefits were in the Covenant o• Works, which we by denying Infants Baptism, render the Privileges of the Co∣venant of Grace to be less than those were: but, do you not intimate here∣by▪ that Circumcision belonged to the Covenant of Works? and if so, in vain do you urge Circumcision as a Privilege; and also since the Covenant of Works is abrogated, what is there in your Arguments for the baptizing of Infants? For all Iewish Rites and Privileges may be forced upon the Chri∣stian World by this Argument of yours, or else we may say, the Privile∣ges Page 29 of the Gospel are less than the Privileges of the Iews under the Cove∣nant of Works; which I have already answered.
2. His mentioning that Passage of Calvin, is remote to his purpose, he speaks of the Covenant of Grace made with Abraham, not of the Covenant of Works, which we say is not curtail'd by Christ's coming, but is every way as extensive now, as it was from the beginning: but we have proved that there was a Two-fold Covenant made with Abraham, and that Cir∣cumcision did appertain to his Natural Seed as such, and so part of the le∣gal Covenant.
Obj But the Commission, Mat. 28.19. (you say) is as full, or rather more beneficial and extensive than the Covenant of Works; and consequently, that the baptizing of Infants is a Christian Duty; for had there been as general a Commission given by Moses to Twelve Elders of Israel, as the Blessed Iesus gave to his Disciples, and it had been said to them, Go teach all Nations, Circum∣cising them; this had been no Prohibition to Circumcise the Iewish Chil∣dren, &c.
Ans. 1. Is this that the Mountains have brought forth? we were big in Expe∣ctation by your Title Page, wondering what new Notion or Arguments you had found out, from the Commission, Mat. 28.19, 20. or what your different Method should be to prove Infant Baptism — But truly Sir, the Log is still too heavy, you cannot lift it up — I see nothing new in your whole Tract, nor any thing but what has been answered; but this being the main Pin upon which all hangs, I shall give a brief Reply to you.
- 1. I thank you for your plain and just Concession; I see you conclude and grant Circumcision did belong to the Covenants or Works: I doubt not, but you are right so far▪ and with that, your Cause is gone, and Calvin and all that came after him, have said nothing in calling Circumcision a Go∣spel Covenant.
- 2. But Sir, suppose the People of Israel had never been commanded by the Lord to Circumcise their Children till Moses came, and Moses had given such a Commission that you mention, viz. to teach all Nations, Cir∣cumcising them; do you think they would have had ground from thence to have circumcised their Infants? whereas his Circumcision required the teaching of all Nations first, before they were circumcised, of which In∣fants were not capable.
- 3. 'Tis evident, that our Saviour in his Great Commission, enjoineth no more to be baptized, but such who are first taught or made Disciples, and this agrees with his own Practice, Joh. 4.1. he made and baptized more Disciples than John: he first made them Disciples, and then baptized them; nor were there any baptized in the New Testament, but such who first professed Faith in the Lord Jesus. See our Answer to Mr. Burkit, (which I sent you.) Also our Answer to the Athenian Society, this is there fully spoken unto.
- Page 304. If the Commission be so extensive, as you intimate, Why do you not go, (or stir up some Ministers to go) into all Heathen, and Pagan Nations, and Baptise them, and their Children; and so that way, make them all Christians: You may teach them the Christian Doctrine, i. e. Faith and Repentance, afterwards, as you do your Children; but the Truth is, there is no need to teach them afterwards, the way of Faith, and Regeneration, (if your Doctrine be true) because the chief Thing they received in Bap∣tism, you say, is divine Grace, viz. Regeneration, Adoption, and a Title to the Inheritance of eternal Life, p. 20. Sure those divine Habits can never be lost. Reader, take what this Man says farther on this Respect.
Obj. But you say, we neither regard, nor consider the chief Thing in Baptism, viz. The Testification, or Witness of the divine Benevolence, taking them into Co∣venant Protection, and Patronage, and conferring, and bestowing Grace upon them; for, in Baptism, the chief Thing is divine Grace, which consists, and stands in the remission, pardon, and forgiveness of Sins; in Adoption, or Sonship, and in a Right, and Title to the Inheritance of Eternal Life, of which Grace, Infants stand in need, and are as capable as the Adult, &c. p. 20.
Answ. This is such Doctrine, that few Paedo-Baptists, besides your self, do assert, or believe; but, What Proof do you give us to confirm it, from God's Word? You say right, we do not regard it indeed — Doth Bap∣tism do all this?— 'Tis wonderful: How! conferr Grace, and give Par∣don, and Eternal Life!— You Ministers of the Church of England, if this be so, can do as strange things, as the Popish Priests in Transubstantiation; you can, by sprinkling a little Water on the Face of a Babe, it appears, change the evil, and vitious Habits, form Christ in the Soul, raise the Dead to Life, and of a Child of Wrath, make a Child of God. It grieves me to think, a Man called a Minister of the Gospel, should teach such corrupt Doctrine, and deceive the Ignorant.
For, as it is without Scripture-Evidence, nay contrary to it; for God's Word, that tells us, Baptism washes not away the Filth of the Flesh, that is, the Corruption of depraved Nature; so 'tis contrary to Reason, and without any rational Demonstration, as Reverend Stephen Charnock, (tho' a Paedo-Bap∣tist,) shews,
But to proceed: Such a Commission you speak of, would not, in your sense, Authorize those Twelve Elders of Israel, to go, and Teach, and Cir∣cumcise the Jews, and their Children only, but all others, in all Nations of the World; this would be an easie way of making People Christians: But, Sir, The Gospel, whatsoever you think, according to our Doctrine, is more extensive, then was the Law to the Jews; for that was restrained to that People. He sheweth his word unto Iacob, his statutes, and judgments to Israel: He hath not dealt so with any nation, for his judgments they have not known them, Psal. 147.19, 20. But the Gospel is not restrained, or limited to any one particular People, or Nation, but it is to be preached to all the World; and, whosoever are made Disciples, i. e. Do believe, and are baptised, shall be saved, Mark. 16.16 (Not that we suppose, Men can't be saved without Baptism; for that makes no Person a Christian, or a Disciple of Christ, neither Young, nor Old, though 'tis the Duty of Believers, to submit there∣to.)
We doubt not, but that the same spiritual, and eternal Blessings, which the Jewish dying Infants had, by the Death, and Merits of Christ then, the dying Infants of Christians have now, according to the Election of Grace: But as touching the legal and external Privileges of the Jews, we have proved (in this Tract, and elsewhere) that they had many more, in di∣vers respects, under the Law, than those, we Christians, and our Children, have under the Gospel.
As to those great Advantages, Blessings, and Privileges of the Covenant of Works, which you talk of, I wonder what they were; for the Cove∣nant of Works could not give Life, no Justification, nor Righteousness (that could) save by that Covenant, no pardon of Sin; but, contrarywise, Death, Wrath, and the Curse, is denounced upon every Soul of Man, for the breach of it. How vain then are your Arguments? in the Gospel is Life, is Ju∣stification, is Pardon of Sin, to every Man that believeth; To the Iew first, and also to the Gentiles, Rom. 1.16. Time would fail me, to sh•w how ab∣surd your Notions are, to what almost all our Learned Protestant Divines, have wrote about the Covenant of Works. —
The Jewish Infants received no Soul Spiritual, and Eternal Advantage by Circumcision: (What the chief Advantage, or Profit was which they h•d thereby, St. Paul tells us, Rom. 3.1, 2.) Tho' it was commanded of God, for the Ends, and Designs, I have already mention•d; and if so, What Benefit can any Infant receive by Baptism, (or rather Rantism) which is a mere humane Innovation? You confess, it was instituted by the Church, as a needful Thing, p. 37. And the Church hath Instituted it, because it is need∣ful; it was indeed never Instituted, or Appointed by our Lord Jesus: And, Page 32 as to that Custom among the Jews, (you speak of) p. 7, 8 of their Bapti∣sing Proselytes, I have fully Answer'd it, in my Treaty, called, The Rector Rectified, p. 24, 25. and in my Answer, to the Athenian Society. Sir, you go upon a Mistake all along, taking it for granted, That Circumcision, and other legal Rites, were great spiritual Privileges; for 'tis no such Thing: It was a Yoke of Bondage, not to be born; and a great Mercy it was to them, that they were delivered from it, Act.•5. And therefore the Jews, did they believe in Christ, and see the Nature of, and Tendency of Circumcision, would never speak after that manner as you mention, in p. 9. (Viz)
Obj. I will rather be a Iew, then a Christian, because, as soon as I own, and profess their Faith, my Child, after such a Declaration, is in covenant, as well as my self, and hath a Right to the Sign, &c.
Answ. Sir, The Jewish Childrens Right to Circumcision, was not defer∣red, till their Parents made a profession of Faith; but as they were the natu∣ral Seed of Abraham as such, it was the Command of God to Abraham, that gave them that Right, and nothing else.
Obj. So, that by this account, it plainly appears, That denying Infants Baptism, is an hindrance to the progress of the Holy Gospel.
Answ. True, if Infant-Baptism doth make them Christians, you say right, it must follow, That the denying them Baptism, hinders the progress of the Gospel; but this is false which you assert: Baptism makes them not Christians; we say, none but Christ, by his Spirit, can Regenerate the Souls of Men, or make them Christians: True, you may thereby give them the Name of Christians, but can't give them the Nature of Christians; you may deceive them, and make them believe they were so made Christians, and thereby undoe them eternally, by relying upon a mere Cheat and Delusion: This is a way to make false Christians, counterfeit Christians. What a Christian is he, whose vile Nature was never changed? You would do well to get a great Number of Ministers, if Baptism does make Christians, (as I said be∣fore) to go into the Heathen Nations, and Baptise them, and so make all the World Christians; but if you know no other way, for the progress of the Gospel, then this, of making Christians by Baptism, God deliver the World, from your way of Christianing the Nations.
You will not see, That the Gospel Church is not National, but only Con∣gregational; the Jewish Church, in that, differ'd from the Christian•: For, What is more clearer than this? Christ's Church, is called, a Garden inclo∣sed; Christ's Flock, is a little Flock: Those who were added to the Church were separated, either from the Jewish People, or Heathen Nations, were commanded to separate themselves, and not to touch the unclean Thing. Ye are not, saith Christ, of the World. — You would make whole Nations the Church, and from the Commission, inferr such a false Conclusion. I have consider'd what you have said in p. 10, 11. Sir, When all the Pagan World are instructed, and believe in Christ, we will say, they have a Right to the Page 33 Sign, i. e. Baptism — but not till then, hath one Soul a Right there∣to: prove what you say, if you can, i. e. That the Children of Christians as such, are Christians, as the Children of Iews, were Iews: or, that Baptism makes any, either old, or young, True Christians, or regenerates their Souls: 'Tis not your bare Assertions, or your Saying it, that is worth any thing: what Authority have you from God's Word to affirm such things? you give no more proof for what you assert, than the Papists do for their vain Traditions and Popish Cere∣monies; Grace must be implanted in the Soul before Baptism, or the Per∣son has no Right to it, 'tis an outward Sign of an inward spiritual Grace, as your Church asserts: Baptism is not Grace, nor conveys Grace, if you can prove it does, I will say no more, but submit and acknowledge my mistake: but if you err in saying it does, do not go about to deceive your People any more. — You plead for making false Christian, nominal Christians: Christianity is another thing than what you seem to imagine, The Way is narrow, and the Gate is straight, — Regeneration is a difficult Work, it requires the Mighty Power of God to be put forth on the Soul; nay, the same Power that God wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, Ephes. 1.19, 20. As to Infants being capable of the Bles∣sings of the Gospel, so are Heathens and Pagans, when God calls them, and infuses Grace into their Souls: I have answered all you say upon that Ac∣count, in my Answer to Mr. Burkit. The Commission in the largest Ex∣tent, comprehends no more than such that are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 disciplized by the Preaching of the Gospel in all Nations: the Parents must be discipled, and the Children must themselves in their own Persons be discipled, as well as their Parents; and as their Parents were before baptized; and when a whole Nation, both Parents and Children, are by the Word and Spirit, made Christ's true and holy Disciples, and as such baptized, then all the Nation may be look'd upon to be Christians: but we know what sort of Christians you make, and your national Church does consist of, that are made so by Bap∣tism, to our trouble; if God does not make your Members better Christians than your Sprinkling, or baptizing them (as you call it) hath done; none of them, (as it appears from Christ's own words, Ioh. 3.3.) can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. In my former Books you may read Mr. Perkin's, and Mr. Baxter's Expositions of the Commission they talk; not at such a rate as you do; tho' Pedo-Baptists.
And tho' in your late Letter to me, you seem to boast, as if some ad∣mire your Book, and that your Arguments are invincible, or unanswera∣ble: Yet that is not my Conceptions concerning it; and had your Anta∣gonist so judged of it, I doubt not but he would attempted your strong∣est Fort before this time; for I know very well his Ability to defend this Cause: indeed I wonder at his silence.
But if you do proceed to provoke a farther Answer, you may have Page 34 it; — This which I have done, was occasioned by my Preaching on this Text; not intending a particular Reply to every thing you have said, nor is there any need; for you are fully answered already in our late Treatises: yet I think the Controversie much concerns you of the Church of England, and such who are for a National Church.
As for our Brethren, called Congregational, I cannot tell what they mean by contending for the Practice of Paedo-Baptism, nor do I well know what their Sentiments are about it: they agree (as I do understand) with us (and other Christians▪) that Baptism is an initiating Rite or Ordinance; now if their Infants are in Covenant with themselves, and are made visi∣ble Church-Members by Baptism in Infancy, and until by actual Sins they violate their Rite and Privilege, abide Members thereof. (1.) Then I would know whether they have their Names in their Church-Book, or Register, as Members? And (2dly,) Whether they ever Excommunicate (or bring un∣der any Church Censure) such of their Children who fall into scandalous Sins, or actual Transgressions, or not? (3dly,) If not, what kind of polluted Churches must thir's be, who have not purged out such corrupt Members? The truth is, I see not how Infant Baptism is consistent with any Church State, unless it be National; and no doubt, the first Contrivers or Founders of it, devised that way for the Progress of that they call the Christian Reli∣gion, and so opened a Door, that Christ shut, when he put an end to the National Church of the Iews. — Therefore I wonder at our strict In∣dependants, considering their Notions, (knowing how their Principles differ from; and their Understanding or Knowledge of Gospel-Church Constitution exceeds others) for Baptism does not initiate into their Churches, it seems by their Practice; unless their Children, when baptized, were thereby made Members with them. It is evident, that under the Law, when In∣fants were Members of the Jewish Church, they were born Members thereof, tho' the Males were to be Circumcised on the Eighth day; nor was the case difficult to know the Right, Infants had to Circumcision: it was not from the Faith of immediate Parents; but it was their being the true Natural Seed of Abraham, according to the Flesh, or being Prose∣lytes, &c. which gave them a Right to Circumcision, by Vertue of God's positive Command to Abraham: — But now if the Infant's Rite arises only from the True and Real Faith of their Parents, the Child, when grown up, may doubt if its Parents, or Father or Mother were not true Believers, whether they had a Right to it or not; or may see cause to question, whether either of them were in truth in the Covenant of Grace, or no; (for who knows who are in a true spiritual Sence in Covenant with God,) especially if their Parents should fall away, or Apostatize, and be∣come vicious; which may demonstrate, they were not true Believers▪ and so not the Elect of God themselves: and if so, their Children had no more Right to Baptism, than the Children of open and prophane unbe∣lievers Children have.
Page 35The truth is, what I have said in these Sermons, may serve to reprove such, who set up a new Wall of Partition, (like that which Christ Abo∣lished by the Blood of his Cross) and so cause Enmity to rise between the Seed of Believing Gentiles, and the Seed of unbelieving Gentiles; by making the Children of ungodly Ones to say, Our Parents were wick∣ed, and not in Covenant with God; and tho' we were baptized, yet had no Right to it: we cannot but envy your Privilege, you are the Children of believing Parents, and are in Covenant, &c. nay, and it may cause too, to trust to that Birth-Privilege, and so destroy their Souls, by looking out for no other Regeneration, but that which they had in Baptism in their Infancy.
Some Reflections on Mr. Exell's new Treatise, Entituled A serious Enquiry into, and containing plain and express Scripture-Proofs, that John Baptist did as certainly Bap∣tize Infants, as the Adult.
REader, just as I had closed with all I intended to have added to this short Tract, a Gentleman brought me another Book newly Published; called, Plain Scripture-Proof, that John Baptist did certainly Baptize Infants, as the Adult: — This Book is written by one Mr. Exell, who calls himself a Minister of the Gospel: but with what good Conscience a Man of his Function can give a Book such a Title, I know not: for if there is such plain Scripture Proofs, that Iohu the Baptist did baptize Iufants, as he positively asserts; 'tis strange none ever saw, nor found out those Proofs: neither Paedo-Baptists, nor Antipaedo-Baptists till now: — but I will appeal to all thinking and impartial Persons, whether or no, this new and bold Attempt of this Man's, does not give cause to all People to doubt of all the former pretended Arguments and Proofs for Paedo-Baptism? since new ways are thought necessary to evince it; but such who read over this Man's plain Scripture Proofs, &c. will certainly conclude, that his Title contains a grand Untruth; (to speak no worse) it argues these Men are strangely left to themselves, or to Blindness, that shall undertake to affirm for Doctrine, without Scripture Demonstration or solid Reasons, such things, which are nothing but their own Fancies; but those who are willing to be mistaken or deceived, let them be deceived: but to undeceive them, I shall make some short Re∣flections upon his Proofs, and if any of my Brethren think it worth their while, to answer either of these two new Asserters of Paedo-Baptism, let them do it.—
Page 36The Texts he builds all his Proofs from, are these, viz. And there went out unto him, all the Land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were Bapti∣zed of him in the River of Jordan, Mark, 1.5. Then went out to him Jeru∣rusalem and Judea, and all the Regions round about Jordan, and were Bapti∣zed, confessing their sins, Mat. 3.5, 6.
From hence he inferrs, (if I can gather up his Sense) 1. That by All, every individual Person, both Men, Women, and Children in Ierusalem, and in the Land of Iudea, went out to be Baptized of Iohn. Or, Second∣ly, Some of all sorts, Sexes and Conditions, and then some Infants, as well as some Adult. p. 9.
2. He labours to prove, That by Ierusalem is meant all, both Young and Old.
Answ. Put does it follow, because All sometimes doth include every one, both young and old; or else some of all sorts, Sexes and Conditions of People, that therefore All must be so taken in all places, and consequently so here.
I am sorry he shews no better skill in Scripture Rhetorick, where frequently by a Synecdoche, a part is put for the whole; and sometimes the far lesser part also: — 'Tis said, all the Cattle of Egypt dyed, Exod. 9.6. that is, all that were in the Field, as Famous Glassius and other Tropical Writers note; so Christ is said to die for all, yet we know he dyed (in a proper and true spiritual Sence) but for a few, i. e. for none but the Elect. Christ says, when he was lifted up, he would draw all men unto him, Joh. 12.32. doth that import every Man? or some of all degrees or sorts of Men? see the late Learned Annotators on that place: it signifies no more than many or some of all Nations: see these Scriptures, Exod. 32.3.26. Ier. 6.3. 1 Cor. 10, 7. so Isa. 2.2, 3. Mark. 9.23. Ioh. 10.8. Act. 2.5. Phil. 2.21. for all seek their own, &c. Mat. 10.22. Ye shall be hated of all men for my Sake. Gen. 24.10. All the Goods of his Master was in his hand: these and many other Scriptures are to be taken Synecdoccally, and so is this; see Glassius Ill•∣ricus; also Philol•giae Sacra, and our Annotators on Mat. 3.5.
If Iohn baptized them all, and Jesus baptized them all, then they were all re•baptized; all Iudea and Ierusalem come to Iohn, and all Men (are here said to) come to Christ to be baptized; in both places it is meant but some, or it shews many came to them; nor can it be supposed, any that Iohn the Baptist baptized, were re-baptized by Christ's Disciples; and yet the Disciples of Christ baptized more Disciples than Iohn, Joh. 4.1.2. when the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard, that Iesus made and baptized more Disciples than John, tho' Iesus himself baptized not, but his Disciples, &c. he did it not personally with his own Hands; and this shews he baptized no Page 37 Infants, and then not those he laid his Hands upon: for if he baptized none, he did not baptize them; from thence I inferr, that there is no ground to conclude from these Scriptures, Mr. Exell has reason to af∣fi•m, that by all Ierusalem and Iudea, &c. must be intended either every individual Person, both Men, Wemen and Children; or some of all Sorts, Degrees, Sexes and Conditions: but only it shews that multitudes came to hear Iohn Baptist, and many of them were baptized by him.
2. I would have him consider, tho' all Ierusalem may sometimes in∣tend every individual, yet 'tis when the matter spoken of does equally re∣ferr to, and concern all; as when the Famine was in that City, no doubt the Children were as much concerned in that matter, as the Adult; (of which passage he would fain make great Improvement) but when the Holy Ghost gives an Account of a great Prophet Preaching God's Word in the Wil∣derness of Iudea, and of Multitudes going forth to hear him, it is ridicu∣lous to imagine, there went, or were carryed little Children to hear him, or to be baptized by him; unless, either directly or indirectly the Scrip∣ture gave us any ground to believe the latter; (I am perswaded, this Man from his Arguments will not make any Proselytes) or confirm People in the Practice of Infant-Bap•ism. 'Tis said, Paul Preached Christ to the Iay∣ler, Act. 16. and to all that were in his house; can any suppose that he preached Christ to his In•ants? (if he had any) do People carry their Infants to hear God's Word? (if some poor Women do bring such with them, 'tis because of necessity, i. e. they can't leave them at home:) therefore, there seemeth not the least shadow of Reason, as far as I can see, to believe that Children went, or were carried to hear Iohn Baptist, tho' it's said all Ierusalem and Iudea went out to hear him, and were many of them baptized of him in the River Iordan: the Mi∣nistration of the Word belong not to Infants, — when God spoke to all Israel, Deut. 11.1. by Moses, That they should love and keep his Iudgments and Commandments always, he adds vers 2. And know you this day, for I speak not with your Children, which have not known, and which have not seen the Chastisements of the Lord your God. — What tho' Circumcisi∣on belonged to Infants, under the Legal Church of I•rael, so did the Passo∣ver, &c. and if Infants have from thence a Right to Baptism, they have al∣so as much Right to the Lord's Supper: great part of your Book is answer∣ed in these preceding Sermons. But to proceed.
2. Is it not said he Preached the Baptism of Repentance for the Re∣mission of Sins, Mark 1.4.
Do you suppose he did not require of such that came to his Baptism, first to repent, or that he would Baptize them, for Remission of Sins, without manifesting their Repentance? nay, and did he not refuse to bap∣tize such he found, who did not bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance, or Works, that were the proper Product of true Repentance, Mat. 3.8. you would (with your Brother Rothwell) have Persons be first made Page 38 Christians by Baptism, and then afterwards bring forth Fruits of Repen∣tance: but this, 'tis evident▪ was not the Doctrine, nor Practice of Iohn the Baptist, nor of Christ, and his Apostles. If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest, Act. 8. He that truly repented, and did believe might, nay ought to be Baptised, and none else.
Obj. May be, you will say, that respects the Adult.
Answ. I Answer, There is no Account given of any Infant that was Bap∣tised, no Precept, no President; and that is forbidden which is not Com∣manded; or, for the Practice of which, there is no Ground, or Rule •rom God's Word; for all humane Innovations, and Inventions of Men are forbid, and sinful: I doubt not, but if a Man would try his Wit, he might say as much for Infants to receive the Lord's-Supper, as you have said, for the Baptising of them. Pray consider what you your self speak in p. 1.
And if all must be Acccepters, or Rejecters, then all, and every individual Pers•• are under, and must have as great Express, particular and authoritive Command▪ to accept and receive Christ, and every Thing of Christianity, in its Right, Order▪ and Manner, as another, p. 1.
Tho' you bring this for to prove Infants must be Baptised, and so receive Jesus Christ,— yet, I must tell you, it quite overthrows all you strive to do. — For,
- 1. Where is there an express, particular, and authoritive Command for them, to receive Christ by Baptism, or any Ordinance, or Principle of Christianity, whilst Infants? And where is there any Rule, or Order in all the New Testament, that the Adult must first Believe, and then be Baptized; but Infants must be first Baptised, and then Believe: Sir, God's Word knows nothing of the last, and the Right of Baptism only de∣pends upon Christ's positive Precept, and Example of the Apostolical Church.
- 2. I affirm, That Infants cannot be said, as such, to be Receivers of Christ, nor Rejectors of him, because they are capable to do neither; nor is there any other way taught in the Gospel of receiving Christ, but by Faith. He that is Baptised, who hath no Grace, no true Grace, true Faith, is but a Baptised Infidel.
Obj. You Object Infants have the the Habit of Faith, or the Habit of Grace.
Answ. We deny it; see how you can prove it, i. e. That Infants as such, have the Habit of Faith. Who is able to know that? What, tho' God may change the Hearts of some dying Infants, or some who did live, were sanctified in the Womb, Doth it from thence follow, all Infants in common, or as such, ha•e their Hearts changed, or are so sanctified?
2. You are to prove, That sacred Habits, infused by the Holy Ghost, may be utterly lost; for, 'tis evident, Infants that live, when grown up, Page 39 tho' Baptised, have no other Habits, then such have, who never were Bap∣tised.
How can you prove, There can be the Divine Habits of Grace in Infants, and yet those Habits lie still, as dead in them, for so many Years, as 'tis from the time they are Baptised, to their Conversion? A sacred Habit, is a Principle of divine Life; yea, a most active, and lively Principle. Can the weakness of Nature hinder the Operations of the Holy Ghost, in In∣fants, when the Power of the Devil can't, in the Adult? When God works, who can let? Can there be fire, and no heat? Sure, such a mighty Cause would have like weighty Effect on the Souls of Children, were it as you suppose.
Obj You say p. 10. we must prove no Infant is Converted or else grant some Infants to be there; that is, John did Baptise Infants.
Answ. You mistake, your Work it is to prove what you affirm: We are not to prove a Negative; yet I shall now, prove that Iohn the Baptist did Baptise no Infants, but only the Adult.
Arg. 1. If Iohn Baptist required Repentance of all those that came to be Baptised by him, and Infants are not capable to Repent, then he did not Baptise any Infants.
But Iohn Baptist did require Repentance of all such that came to be Bap∣tized of him. Ergo,
He bad them Repent: Repentance was his grand Doctrine; and, he also exhorted them to bring forth Fruits, meet for Repentance, Mat. 3.8.
Arg. 2. If the being the Seed of Abraham as such, or the Off-spring of Believers, would not give the Jews a Right to Iohn's Baptism, then Iohn Baptised no Infants: But the former is true. Ergo,
I have proved largely, in this Treatise, That the Covenant made with Abraham's natural Seed as such, would not give any of his Off-spring Right to Gospel Baptism. Think not to say within your selves, ye have Abraham to your Father. If you Answer this Argument, you must Answer this small Treatise.
Arg. 3. If the Covenant for the external In-Covenanting of Infants as such is Abrogated, and the Fleshly Seed cast out, by the Establishing the Gospel Covenant, then Iohn Baptist Baptised no Infants: But the former is true. Ergo,
This Argument is largely proved in the precedent Discourse.
Arg. 4. If Infant-Baptism does them no good, there being no Promise of Blessing made to them in their Baptism, then Iohn Baptist Baptised no Infants: But Infants Baptism does them no good, there being no Promise of Blessing made to them in their Baptism. Ergo.
If it does them good, or there is a Promise of Blessing made to them, in their Baptism, prove it, since 'tis deny'd: But to proceed.
Page 40Arg 5. If the Baptism of the Adult, who have no Faith, no Grace, doth them no good, nor can convey Grace to them, then it cannot do Infants as such, any good: But the former is true. Ergo, What good did Simon Magus his Baptism do him, or Iudas's, who, no doubt, was Baptised? If you can prove Baptism conveys Grace to Infants, or makes them Chri∣stians do it; for I utterly deny it, and have a cloud of Witnesses on my side, among found Protestant Writers. Consult with Mr. Rothwell, on this Point.
Arg. 6. If all those Iohn Baptist Baptised, confessed their Sins; and In∣fants can't confess their Sins, then Iohn Baptist, Baptised no Infant•: But the former is true. Ergo,
This Argument you endeavor to Answer, p. 36.37. You would know what Confession it was, which they made of their Sins, whether Verbal, or Moral. 'Tis said, With the heart Man believeth, and with the Mouth, Confession is made to Salvation. Therefore, say I, it was Verbal.
Obj. You intimate, that some may want Speech, or Weakness, which may be an Impediment to them, &c.
Answ. If they can any ways signifie, or make it known to the understand∣ing of the Administrator, they are True Penitents: 'tis, no doubt, suffici∣ent if it be by Writing, 'twill do; but Man knows not the Heart. What appears not, is not.
Your Arguments, in p. 37. about their being in Abraham's Covenant, I have fully Answered already: That will do you no good. Iohn Baptist denies that Plea, when he said, Think not to say within your selves, we have Abraham to our Father.
Do you think Baptism turns People to the Lord? for so you intimate at the close of your 37. Pag. Prove it, 'tis denied.
Obj. 4. You say, such a Confession would overturn the Constitution, or Institution of God by Moses and casting Infants out of that Floor.
Answ. I have shewed you, That the Gospel Dispensation has overthrown the Mosaical Constitution, or Legal Church of the Jews; and that Christ has thrown out the Fleshly Seed, as such i. e. No Infant is to be a Member of the Gospel Church; and I have given my Reasons why I have so said, which you may Answer if you please.
7thly, Because it was Repugnant to the End, and grand Design of Iohn's Ministry, to receive and Basptise every body, even Men, Women, and Chil∣dren, without distinction; his Ministry being most strict, and severe, (as 'tis acknowledged by all Men.) His Ministry of Preaching, and Baptising was held forth by the Prophet, in these Words, Mal. 4.1. The Day shall come, which shall burn as an Oven. He lays the Ax at the Root; he Preach∣ed no such easie way of making Men Christians, nor Church Members, as these Paedo-Baptists speak of; his Ministry seemed like to Fire; in him was the Spirit of Burning kindled, as Mr. Cotton, On the Covenant, observes; p. 21.
But this Man renders Iohn's Ministry, to be of a quite contrary Nature, even the most easiest, flesh-pleasing Doctrine that ever was Preached. If he received all to his Baptism: certainly he has made sad Work for Re∣pentance, for abusing the Ministry of this Great and Holy Prophet.
Arg. 7. If Iohn the Baptist was to prepare Christ's Way, i. e. fit Persons, as proper Materials, for Christ's New, and Spiritual Temple, which con∣sisteth only of living Stones, viz. Believing Men, and Women, then Iohn did not Baptise Carnal Persons, nor Ignorant Infants: But the former is true. Ergo,
Arg. 8. Iohn, upon their unfeigned Repentance, Baptised all that he did Baptise, for the remission of Sins; and no Persons have remission of Sins, without such Repentance. Ergo, Can Baptism it self give remission of Sins? or, Is thete any promise of Pardon, without unfeigned Repen∣tance?
By this Man's Reasoning, all the Carnal People of the Jews, that were willing to be Baptised, Iohn was to Baptise; and he did Baptise them, as well Unbelievers, as Ignorant Babes; for all his Arguments are as strong to prove that, as for Iohn's Baptising of Infants: Which, if so, all Pagans and Infidels in the World, are to be baptised, and by Baptsm, be made Christians, and Members of the Gospel Church. O, What a Doctrine does this Man Preach! Do but see what Work he would fain make of that Confession of Sins, which was required of all those that came to Iohn's Baptism, in Pag. 37, 38. to p. 50. i. e. It was such a Confession that ex∣cludes no ungodly, or unbelieving Person, that was willing to be baptised, so far as I can see. All that were of the Church of Israel, or in the Legal Covenant God made with Abraham, he intimates, might be baptised; nay, he tells us, in pag. 44. A Confession made when Iohn Baptised, was not a Commanded Duty. Men, after this rate, may even say what they please.
Arg. 9. If Iohn the Baptist baptised all the People of Ierusalem, and Iu∣dea, and all those of the Regions round about, then he baptised Unbelievers, Prophaned and Impenitent Persons, as well as Penitent Persons; but he did not Baptise Unbelievers, Prophaned and Impenitent Persons: There∣fore, he did not Baptise all the People of Ierusalem, and Iudea, and all those of the Regions round about.
Arg. 10. If Iohn the Baptist Baptised all the People of Israel, (as before mentioned) then he left none for Christ, nor his Disciples to baptise; but Page 42Iohn did leave some; nay, more People for Christ or his Disciples to baptize, than he baptized: Ergo, he did not baptize all the People of Israel, or all of Ierusalem and Iudea?
That Iohn left some; nay, more People to Christ and his Disciples to be baptized, than he baptized; is expresly asserted by the Holy Ghost, John 4.1. When Iesus knew how the Pharisees heard that Iesus made and bap∣tized more Disciples than John, &c. see John 3.26. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him: How! did Iohn baptize all and yet all come to Christ to be baptized? This is strange, what People were these, and where dwelt they? if Iohn baptized all the People of Ierusalem and Iudea, &c.
Arg. 11. If Iohn's Baptism, and the Baptism of Christ, was but one and the same Baptism, as to the Nature, Quality, and Subjects thereof; then he baptized none but such who were first made Disciples, or who were first taught to believe and repent: but the Baptism of Iohn, and the Bap∣tism of Christ was but one and the same Baptism, as to the Nature, Qua∣lity, and Subjects thereof: Ergo, he baptized none but such who were first made Disciples, &c.
That the Nature, Quality, and Subjects thereof, were one and the same, all generally affirm: I know no difference, but that after Christ was dead and risen, they that were then baptized, were baptized into him that was come: dead, buried, and raised again; but Iohn baptized them, as such that be∣lieved in him, that was to die, &c. Christ having then not actually suf∣fered. 'Tis evident, that Christ's Commission Impowers his Disciples to baptize only such who were discipled, or such who did believe, is plain, Mat. 28.19.20. Mark 16.16. and this was his Practice, Iohn 4.1.
Arg. 12. If Iohn baptized all the People of Ierusalem, &c. then how was the Ax laid to the Root of the Tree? and how was the Chaff san∣ned-away out of the Floor? 'Tis evident, his Ministry was to separate or sever the Wheat from the Chaff, the good from the bad, the carnal Seed from the spiritual, and not to continue them together: for his Ministry, and the Ministry of Christ was the same, tho' Christ had the Preceden∣cy, or the far greater Glory: yet the design of Iohn's Ministry was the same with the Ministry of Jesus Christ.
Obj. But, saith Mr. Exell it can be intended of no other Confession, than what would consist with John's excluding or casting of none cut, or purging of none out of 〈◊〉 Floor, or cutting of no Tree down: for that he did not that, but threatned them with Christ's doing of it, Mat. 3.9, 10.12 speaking of that Confession the People made to Iohn.
Answ. This Man would have us believe, that the Doctrine and Work of Christ, and that of Iohn's, were not consistent, or of one and the same Nature; but directly or repugnant contrary one to the other, viz. Iohn receives all, baptized all, both good and bad; and lets every Tree Page 43 stand and grow as it will, on its own natural and evil Root: he gathered all into the Garner, even both the Wheat and the Chaff too: but Christ quite overthrew and destroyed when he came, all this that Iohn did, i. e. Christ lays the Ax at the Root, and cuts Sinners down; all must be true Penitent, all must believe, or Christ will receive them not, baptize them not: and he so purges his Floor, that no Chaff must be received into his Garner, i. e. into his Gospel Church, for this the Man's Words implies: Let the Paedo-Baptists view the Strength of this Champion. Doth not Iohn tell the People when they came to his Baptism, now the Ax is laid to the Root of Trees? his Doctrine is laid to the Root, and ten∣ded to purge out the Chaff, as palpably as did the Ministry and Do∣ctrine of Christ; tho' 'tis true, 'tis Christ's Work to make all Iohn Preached, or any other Minister, effectual: Iohn Preached, saying, repent, &c. Christ Preached the same Doctrine, saying, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand: John is the voice of one crying in the Wilderness, pre∣pare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths streight, Mark 1.3. The Jews had made the way to Heaven broad and easie; but Iohn strives to un∣deceive them, and to shew the Way was narrow, and the Gate streight, like as Christ himself speaks, because streight is the Gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it, Mat. 7.14. but this Man intimates that Iohn Preached not this Doctrine, but one quite different; he makes the way so broad, that all Ierusalem, Iudea, and all the Multitudes round about, might come and walk in it; which if so, instead of prepairing of Christ's Way, he obstructed and hindered Christ in his way, and made him more work to do, even to undoe all that Iohn had been a doing.
But pray be pleased to take his Answer to one of our Arguments brought against what he affirms, that Iohn baptized Infants, viz.
All those that Iohn baptized, confessed their Sins, but Infants could not confess their Sins; Ergo, Iohn did not baptise Infants.
Obj. Says he, We are not to believe any other Confession here intended, than what was consistent with the Promise and Covenant made with Abra∣ham, &c. so that if it must give no Right to the participation of the Ordi∣nance, [that is, a Confession must give no Right,] for then (saith he) the Promise and Covenant must be put an end to, and they must have no Right by them, p▪ 37.
Answ. 1. Doth not Iohn positively deny, that the Covenant made with Abraham's natural Seed as such, did give them a Right to his Baptism? for this we have proved to be the proper Purport of that Expres∣sion of his: Think not to say within your selves; we have Abra∣ham to our Father: and Mr. Cotton asserts the same as I have shew∣ed.
Page 442. We have also proved, that the Legal Covenant, made with Abraham's Natural Seed as such, is put an end to, by the Establishment of the Go∣spel Dispensation.
Obj. 2. It is not to be taken as intended of any other Confession, than what would consist with the Capacity of them that were represented to John to be the Objects of his Ministry, which were Parents and Children, Mat. 4.6. Luk. 1.17. If there should have been any other Confession than what would consist with these; how should John turn them to the Lord, unless they might be as well turn∣ed without a Confession, and without baptism, as with it, p. 37.
Answ. 1. If the Confession consisted with the Capacity of those that heard his Ministry, then Infants, were excluded, because they, were not capable to make any Confession at all, but 'twas so; Ergo,
2. What tho' 'tis said Iohn was to turn the People to the Lord, and the Hearts of Children to the Fathers: was he able to change the Hearts of Infants? or were Infants Hearts turned from their Fathers, that they need, whilst Iufants to have their Hearts turned to them? Are not my Sons and Daughters my Children, when they are 20, 30, or 40, Years Old, as well as they were my Children when but Two days Old?
Obj. 3. It cannot be taken to be any other Confession, than what would consist with all the People, being then the visible Church of God, &c. p. 38.
Answ. Then it appears by this Man, all the whole Church of the Jews, both Parents and Children, were by Iohn Baptist to be taken into the Gospel Church by Baptism; For else, saith he, all the whole Church must be overturned.
And so I have proved it is; even the whole Jewish Church, and Church-Membership.
Obj. 4. No such Confession can be intended as would exalt natural Strength or number of Years, or acquired Abilities, as Necessary, Qualifications; for this is contrary to Scripture, 1 Cor. 1.27. p. 41.
Answ. If it be a Confession of Sin, it must be made by such, who are at such an Age, as are able to confess Sin, and without natural Abi∣lities: what Person is able to make such a Confession? can an Infant consess Sin?
2. Tho' all boasting is excluded by the Gospel, i. e. of our own natu∣ral or acquir'd Parts and Abilities; yet we may glory in the Lord, and in his rich Grace bestowed upon us: will this Man say gracious Abilities to confess Sin, are excluded? then all Confession of Sin is excluded.
Obj. 5. No other Confession can be intended, than what would consi•• with all the Regions, Jerusalem, all Judea, all the People, and all the Mul∣titudes
Answ. That is, I suppose, all the People, one or another; who could speak or say they were Sinners, might be baptized, and upon that Con∣fession, their Children also; who could make no Confession at all: If Page 45 so, all the World by this Argument may be baptized, for no doubt, there were many Thousand Families that lived either in Ierusalem, Iudea, or in the Regions round about that were not Jews; broad is the Way to Heaven, if this Man's Doctrine be true, or into the Church at least. The Man's mistake lies here, i. e. because great Multitudes went out either to see, or hear Iohn Baptist; he therefore concludes Iohn baptized them all, because 'tis said he baptized them, not observing the severe Doctrine he Preached, and what a holy Sight and Sence of Sin and godly Repen∣tance he enjoyned on all those he admitted to Baptism: for they he bap∣tized, confessed their Sins, i. e. their hearty Sorrow for Sin, and were turned to the Lord; for that was his Work, and the grand Purport of his Ministry, — and evident it is, that there were but a few compara∣tively baptized by Iohn, because Christ by the hands of his Disciples baptized more Disciples than he, Ioh. 4.1. and 'tis said, Christ's Flock was but a little Flock; and after Christ's Resurrection, the whole Num∣ber of his Disciples, were about One hundred and Twenty, Act. 1.15. tho' may be some few more there might be in some orher places.
Mr. Baxter, tho' a great Asserter of Paedo-Baptism, contradicts this Man, Iohn Baptist, saith he, received and judged of the Profession of his Penitents before he did baptize them, Baxt. Confirmat. Restor. p. 68.
It was such a Confession that Iohn required of those that he baptized, that gave him Ground to believe they had Right to Remission of Sin, for he baptized with the Baptism of Repentance, for the remission of Sin; Read the late Annotators on Luk. 3.3.
It was, no doubt, such a Confession that Philip required of the Eunoch, Act. 8.37. See here is Water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? Philip answered, If thou believest withal thine Heart, thou mayest.
This Man would render Iohn Baptist less Faithful than any ordinary pious Minister; I believe saith Gullespy, No consciencious Minister would adventure to baptize, any who hath manifested infallible Signs of unregenerations, Gil's. Aaron's Rod. blossom.
Obj. But, saith Mr. Exell, to conclude that this Confession mentioned, Mat. 3.5. was a Confession with the Mouth or Tongue, without considering any thing of the words? when there is no such discovery in the Text, is somewhat too quick and too bold; for what is expressed, is expresly asserted of all the Regions, and allPage 46 Judea and Jerusalem, and those called Multitudes — and these general Ex∣pressions contain and comprehend. Men, Women, and Children, &c.
Answ. I must needs say, 'tis a hard case you dare so boldly affirm all, both Men, Women, and Children, were baptized by Iohn; whereas, 'tis positively said, that they he baptized confessed their Sins: You conclude against the express Words of the Text, and assert plain Scripture proof, that Iohn Baptist did certainly baptize Infants, and yet give neither Scripture, nor Reason, to demonstrate what you say is true: you can draw Consequences to build an Ordinance upon that which naturally rises, not from the Texts you refer to; nay, which is more, when the Text is expresly against such a Conclusion: 'tis said, They that gladly receive the Word were baptized: You may say, that some of them were Infants, as well as to affirm some of these Iohn baptized were such; for Infants are as capable to receive the Word, as to confess their Sins: nay, when 'tis said, Acts 20. The Disciples came together to break Bread; you may affirm, that Infants came then, with others together, to break Bread, or to eat the Lord's Supper, for you know how to prove them to be Disciples, no doubt on't; if you have not been too quick in asserting what you with boldness have asserted, I am greatly mistaken.
You make Baptism a very insignificant Sign, what good can Baptism do that Parson that has no Grace? If you can prove what your Brother Roth∣well affirms do; viz. That Baptism does regenerate Infants, or is a Conver∣ting Ordinance: Certaintly, but very few of that great Multitude, you sup∣pose Iohn baptized, received any Spiritual benefit by their Baptism; and I challenge all the World to prove if they can, that ever one Infant re∣ceived any kind of Internals, Spiritual or Eternal Advantage, by being baptized as you call it; or External, either; by the Word of God.
He adds an Induction of Twenty particulars, to shew what a Confession it was not, that those Iohn Baptist, baptized, made; but they need no further Reply being all remote to the Purpose brought for: Then he pro∣ceeds into ten more, to shew it could not be a verbal Confession of Actual Faith and Repentance; the most of them follow here.
Obj. There is nothing of a Command requiring such a Confession, neither de∣clared by John, nor revealed by any other Messenger of God: This contains his two First.
Answ. Did not Iohn require it when he said, bring forth Fruits meet for R•pentance, &c▪ A Confession is a Fruit of Repentance? And did not Phi∣lip require it of the Eunuch? Is not Faith required? and as a Man be∣lieves with his Heart, so a Confession is required with the Mouth, to make known that Faith, unto Salvation.
Obj. If such a Confession was commanded, it must be gained by their own personal Obedi•cence, and so the Gospel is a Covenant of Works: 2. If comman∣ded, then it was not voluntary; 3. If commanded, then it must not be to shew the Gr•ce they had, but their Obedience; these are three more of them, Pag. 44.
Page 471. Answ. I answer, if, what God commands us to do; those Vertues so commanded, are gained or merited by our own personal Obedience; then all our Evangelical Duties must be meritorious, and the Gospel is a Covenant of Works indeed: For that the Gospel doth command many Duties is evi∣dent. Can't God give Grace, and then command us by the Assistance of his Spirit, to cause those Graces to appear in exercise to the Praise of his own Glory?
2. Or cannot that which God commands us to do, be done freely and voluntary by us? Or, doth free Grace destroy the Noble Faculty of the Will, because it over-powers its vitious Habits, and strongly inclines it to that which is good? Do not Saints freely and voluntarily by the help of the Spirit and Grace of Christ, will that which is good and well-pleasing to him? Or, is a Confession of Sin not good, or an Evangelical Duty?
3. Do we not by our Obedience to God shew forth his Grace in us, as well as our Duty of Obedience to him; what New Divinity is this? Won∣der, O Heavens!
Obj. If commanded, then the performance of it externally could not make a Change upon their State and Relation towards God, any more than the performance of any other Duty: Much less could it, when not commanded: Pag. 45.
1. Answ. Because a Confession of Sin can't make a Change upon our State, or Relation to God: Must we not make an External Confession of that which God's Spirit hath wrought Internally upon our Souls? Or, must an External Confession of Sin make a Change, and so all other Duties, or else not be performed by us?
2. It seems to me by your unfound Expressions, as if you conceive, that an External Confession could make a Change upon our State and Relati∣on to God; whereas that makes no Change, but only discovers, or makes known what a blessed Change the Grace of God hath wrought, or made on the Soul: Besides, it is not Universally true, i. e. because a thing is com∣manded it can't make a Change; for sometimes a Command is attended with Power to change the Soul, &c. Iohn 6.28.
Obj. If this, say you, had been a commanded Duty (viz. a Confession of Sin) to qualifie them for Baptism; then they must not be admitted upon the Account of their being the Children of Abraham, nor as the Children of the Promise, but the Promise ceases, which is notoriously false, Rom. 15.8. Pag. 45.
1. Answ. We do not say a bare verbal Confession qualifies any Person for Baptism; but inward Grace or Truth, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; this is the only Qualification which ought to be in all the Subjects of Baptism▪ and this Faith must be made manifest by the Confession of the Mouth, and the holy Fruits of the Life: Hence Iohn required not only a bare verbal Confession, which might hold-forth or signifie their Repentance; but also saith he, You must bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance: Don't think to say you have sinned, or barely to acknowledge your Iniquities is all I look for; No, your Lives must make it manifest to me, you are changed, or Page 48 regenerated; if you would, as true Subjects, partake of my Baptism: for of such my Master's Kingdom is to consist of, whose way I am come to pre∣pare; i. e. to make ready such a People for him, to build his Chnrch with.
2. As to your other Reason, viz. if a Confession be necessary, then their being the Children of Abraham, and Children of the Promise was made to cease, &c.
You hit it in that, for their being the Seed of Abraham according to the Flesh, could give them no Right to Gospel Baptism. Iohn plainly told them the very same thing; for the Gospel has put an End to the Jew∣ish Covenant Right of Admission of Church-Members; the Text you mention, Rom. 15.8. (where 'tis said, Christ was a Minister of the Circumcisi∣on;) you strangely mistake the Place, Christ did not confirm Circumci∣sion, nor Infants Right to Church Membership; the Holy Ghost means no more then that Christ was a Minister of the Jews, as well as of the Gentiles, or of the Circumcision, as of the Uncircumcision, and so speak our Annotators on the place; and as to the Promise ceasing, see what St. Paul saith, Rom. 9.6. Tho' the carnal Seed of Abraham, as such, are now rejected, yet the Promise of God is not made of none Effect. For (saith he) They are not all Israel which are of Israel; Neither, because they are the Seed of Abraham, are they all Children, v. 7. That is, they which are the Children of the Flesh, these are not the Children of God; but the Children of the Promise are counted for the Seed, v. 8.
Can't you see from hence who are the Seed of the Promise? Even none else, but such who are begotten and born of the Spirit, or are in Christ, Gal. 3.29. So that, what you say is notoriously false.
Your 9th. Reason is the same with the part of your 8th.
Obj. You say in the tenth and last Place then, the Command of Christ that In∣fants must come to him, was and must be null and void, Mark 10.13.14.15. Or be a fresh Warrant for their coming to him, if John had cast them out Pag. 45.
1. Answ. We deny there was ever any Command of Christ for Infants to be brought, or to come to Christ to be baptized.
2. That Text in Mark 10.13, 14. proves no such thing as you con∣clude it doth, they were brought to Christ, 'tis true, that he might put his hands upon them; which was the way he used when he healed People of their bodily Diseases; therefore you say right, since Iohn, or rather Jesus Christ, hath cast out the natural Seed of Abraham, and the old Covenant too, as well as the old Covenant-seed; Infant Church-Membership is made null and void, unless there had been a fresh Warrant for their Admissi∣on, i. e. they must be brought in and made Members by an Appoint∣ment of Christ, or by a new Institution, or they must not be admitted at all; for the old Covenant-right (we have proved) is gone for ever.
As to what you speak in Pag. 32. about the Habit of Grace: is nothing to the Purpose, these are your words; viz.
Page 49Obj. And if the habit cannot constitute us Members, the Acts or Exercise of it, can never do it.
Answ. You do not attempt to prove Infants as such either before Bap∣tism, or in being baptized, have the Habit of Grace: I have shewed in my Answer, to Mr. Rothwell, that it can't be proved that Infante as such, have the Habit of Faith or of Grace, neither before nor in Baptism; if they had, doubtless those Habits would appear some way or another, but they do not appear; therefore they have no such Habits infused into them; all are born in Sin, and are Children of Wrath by Nature; and Baptism doth not convey Grace, nor infuse any sacred Habits: What tho' God in a mira∣culous manner, hath sanctified some Infants in the Womb, and may san∣ctifie such Infants that die, who are in the Election of Grace; do's it from thence follow, that all Infants as such, or all Infant of Believers as such, are so sanctified? —We read of one Animal that spoke, must all Animals speak therefore?
If you could prove Infants had Grace in the Habit, or that it appears they are regenerated, you had said something to excuse their inability, or disability to make a verbal Confession, tho' not so much as you think; 'tis the Act of Faith that must demonstrate the Habit to us, or the Fruits, or Product of Grace, that those Habits are in those Subjects Christ com∣mands to be baptized, non apparentium & non existentium eadem est ration; they must act, must believe, must repent, or must be actually discipled, that Baptism doth belong unto; tho' I deny not but that where the Habit of one Grace •s, there is the Habit of every Grace, and 'tis as certain those Habits can never be lost, 'tis the Seed that remains, of which the Apostle Iohn speaks; •or can those pretended Habits lye still, or asleep, in Persons, so long as your Notion clearly doth imply—
1. He goes on to shew what the Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which the Learned he says) tells us, signifie to confess and give thanks: What of this; yet 'tis by a •erbal Confession of Sin, if that should be signified in it.
2. He says, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉signifies to do it together: that would be Confession. Sir, 〈◊〉 not the genuine signification of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, alike? Similies a-like, do speak a-like, 〈◊〉 the same things: see Schrevelius's Greek Lexicon, where you will find ••e so defines the word.
3. No doubt 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifies to speak out, they made an audible Confession, •nd not to whisper in Iohn's Ear.
4. Again, he says, the word signifies a Confession of known faults, no doubt of 〈◊〉; and therefore such a Confession be sure that no Infants are concerned in; ••nners have known faults enough, to confess when God opens their Eyes, 〈◊〉 works Grace in their Souls.
5. And that the word comes from 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which signifies to confess, or profess, ••d is to be so translated, which signifies a Confession by practice and actions.••g. 49.
Page 50Answ. This does not help the matter; for 'tis evident, the Practice and Actions of the Lives of true Penitents, more loudly declares or makes known that blessed Change that is wrought in them, than a verbal Con∣fession can; but Infants are no more capable to do the one, than the other.
Moreover, he would have it to be such a Confession that Infants must be included, for else, saith he, —
Obj. They are excluded from the Number that John turned to the Lord; or else it proves, that Baptism was not a means to turn them to the Lord, or bring∣ing them to Christ, p. 49.
1. Answ. Did Iohn turn any Children in their Infancy to the Lord? We read of no Miracles which he did, but sure this would have been no small Miracle, if he had changed the Hearts of Infants.
2. We see you positively conclude, that Baptism is indeed a Converting o• Soul-changing Ordinance: you are of Mr. Rothwells Judgment it ap∣pears, and I suppose a true Son of the Church of England; but when you write again, do but prove this, and you do your Work in a great measure.
3. But 'tis strange, you should attempt to confute all the Learned; nay, and your own Church too, for she requires a verbal Confession of such that are baptized: and since Infants can't do it, she causes others to do it for them: unless you suppose that Iohn Baptist Ordained the Rite of God. Fa∣thers and God-Mothers; for there is as plain Scripture-Proof for that, a• there is that he baptized Infants.
Dr. Du Veil quotes Grotius, who says,
Eun•mius speaketh thus, ziz.
Hierom saith, The Lord commanded his Apostles first to Instruct an• Teach all Nations, and afterward should baptize such who were instruc••ed into those great Mysteries of the Faith: for it cannot be (saith h•• that the Body should receive the Sacrament of Baptism, till the Soul h•• received the True Faith: see Rector Rectified, where there are divers of 〈◊〉 Fathers cited, p. 129. to p. 237. t the same purpose.
'We find, saith the same Baxter, that when Iohn Baptist set up his Ministry,
He caused the People to confess their Sins, Mat. 3.6. and if we confess our Sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our Sins, 1 John 1.9. and whereas some say (saith he) that Iohn called them a generation of Vipers: I answer, we will believe that, when they prove it.
If he baptised them, it was not till they confessed their Sins; and and it seems by his Charge, not till they promised to bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance, Mat. 3.8. Confirmat. p. 24. as to those in Act. 2.37. it is plain, they made an open Profession; —
It is said, They that gladly received the Word, were baptized: we may not imagine, that Peter was God, or knew the Hearts of those Thousands; and therefore, he must know it by their Profession, p. 25.
'The believing Ephesians confessed, and shewed their Deeds, thus far Mr. Baxter.
Obj. A Confession could not be of such Concernment as to exclude all, from any Right to Baptism; for then the Pharisees and Lawyers could not have been guilty 〈◊〉 such Sin, in their being not baptized of John, Luk. 7.30. p. 49.
Answ. Such arguing I never met with before; doth if follow, that a Con∣•ession of sin was not necessary, because 'tis said, the Pharisees and Lawyers •ejected the Counsel of God, in not being baptized of John? was that their great∣•st Evil? or did not their horrid Evil rather lie in their Impenitency and Unbelief, which excluded them from having a Right to Baptism, or in •heir not receiving Iohn's Doctrine of Repentance for the Remission of •ins and bringing forth Fruits worthy of amendment of Life? see our la••••notators on the place,
Obj. It is said, the People ask'd him, What shall we do? and whether were it some, for all? or every individual, who can tell? And if the Adult did speak, and the Children could not, were not the Parents to take care that they might have the means to flye from Wrath to come, as well as themselves? and to be taught to take God's Way as well as themselves? it being after Baptism, and was there any question to be made? but they would take Care about this, if they were tru∣ly awakened? And especially when the Children's Names were as expresly in John's Commession as the Parents? And if they did not take Care about them, was it not their Sin? and their grievous Sin too? against the express declared Will of God concerning them, Luke 1.17. Mal. 4.6. If he that provideth not for the Bodies of his Children, hath denyed the Faith, and is worse than an Infidel, wh•• notorious Monsters had these People been, if when they were awakened to see the Wrath of God in the fire of Hell coming in upon them, should not take Care th•• it might be prevented from their Children, as well as from themselves, — pag. 50.
Answ. Such Blindness is enough to afflict the Soul of any enlightned Per∣son; 'tis evident, this Man concludes the External Rite of Baptism, o• a bare Subjection to that Ordinance, was the very means to escape the Wrath of God, and eternal Burning in Hell; and not only for Infants but the Adult likewise: whereas, I find no sound and understanding Protestant of his Judgment; nor doth he produce either Scripture or so∣lid Reason for what he asserts: could he prove that to baptize Childre• or the Adult, would save their Souls from God's Wrath, or Hell-fire; ce••tainly, all would be notorious Monsters, that would not endeavour to pe••swade all Heathens, Turks, and Pagans in the World, to be baptized, or n•• take care to baptize their Infants: but alas! we know that for 〈◊〉 Person to be baptized, who is not regenerated, it will avail him nothing, 〈◊〉 no more than Simon Magus his Baptism did him: 'Tis not Circumcision av•••ed, nor Uncircumcision, but a new Creature.
Answ. 2. But before he had gone so far as to assert the great Profit of I••fant-Baptism, and the dreadful Danger and Sin of Parents in not baptiz•• them; he should have proved, that God doth Enjoin or command 〈◊〉 thing of Parents, viz. to see their Children baptized: for, where there Page 53〈◊〉 Law, there is no Trransgression: Another Man may argue, that the Ordi∣dinance of the Sacred Supper of our Lord, is a means or way for our Chil∣dren to escape the Wrath of God, and so charge Parents to bring them to that Sacrament, as well as to that of Baptism. Sir, The Fault and Sin of Parents lies not where you place it, but in that, when they are grown up, they neglect to teach them their Duty of looking out for a changed Heart, or to get Faith and Repentance, or to obtain an Interest in Jesus Christ, for there is no other way to escape the Wrath of God for our selves, nor our Children when grown up, but by Christ alone, as he is received through Faith: and whosoever do not so take Care of their Childrens Souls, are great∣ly guilty before God; but to baptize them, since there is no Warrant for it, no Command from God, no President, or Example in all the Sacred Scrip∣ture; that would but bring great Guilt upon their own Heads: add thou not, to his words, lest he prove thee, and thou art found a Liar.
Answ. 3. You abuse that Holy Text, Mal. 4.6. Luke 1.17. Iohn had no Infants in his Commission, tho' he was to turn the Hearts of the Fathers to the Children, and the Hearts of the Children to the Fathers; yet Chil∣dren there doth not mean Infants, for it must be such Children, whose Hearts were turned from their Parents, and who were capable to hear, and and understand Iohn's Doctrine; and so to be convinced of their Evil, in having their Hearts set against their Parents: the meaning is, that Iohn was to Preach both to Young and Old, who were arrived to Understanding, and to turn them to the Lord, and one to another.
Obj. If their Confession was a Confession of true Penitents, then this Repen∣tance was wrought in them before the Holy Ghost was poured upon them, or be∣fore they were baptized with the Holy Ghost by Christ, and how could that be? pag. 51.
Answ. 1. Doth this Man think that there was no true Conversion wrought by the Preaching of Iohn Baptist, nor by Christ himself, or his Apostles, un∣til the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit were given, which was not till af∣ter the Resurrection and Assension of our Blessed Saviour? he that will heed such a Writer, let him; for by this Argument, the Holy Apostles were not true Penitents, until they were baptised with the Holy Ghost, and yet did not Christ tell them they were clean? tho' not all, Ioh. 13.10. and that they who then believed in him, had Everlasting Life, Ioh. 5.
According to this Man's Notion, Christ had no Disciples indeed, or no true Penitent and sincere Disciples, until after his Ascension.
Answ. 2. 'Tis evident, that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost did not re•ferr to the saving Graces of the Spirit, which are in all Believers; but to those visible, miraculous and extraordinary Gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were only given to some Persons in the Primative Time, to confirm the Gospel, and to discover the Glory of Jesus Christ, upon his Ascension into Heaven: The Baptism of the Spirit, signifies that great Effusion of the Holy Ghost, like that at Pentecost, Act. 21.2, 3.
Page 54Casaubon speaking of that Text, Act. 1.45.
Obj. But this would argue, that then those that John baptized, were ••• Penitents, which is contrary to Christ's own Words, Mat. 18.104.22.168• to 25.
Answ. There appears in those Texts he cites no such thing that he affirm• but he takes a Liberty to say any thing so far as I can see: no doubt, •••Iohn took great Care to baptize only such who were True Penitents; sin•• he required so severely Fruits meet for Repentance, of such that came to ••• Baptism; tho' no doubt, he might be mistaken in some of them, as P••• was in Simon, Act. 8. tho' he sent some of his Disciples to Jesus to be f•••ther Confirmed in the certain Belief, that he was the true Messias that ••• to come.
Nor doth Christ's Words imply as this Man signifies in p. 53. that Ioh•• Disciples had bad ends in going out into the Wilderness to see and he•• him: tho' some of the Multitude might probably go out of Curiosity, •• for other ends, &c.
How Mr. Exell, or any other Man can rationally deny a Confession ••• necessary? or doubt whether such a Confession was required before Bap∣tism, viz. of that Faith and Repentance they then had I see not: for he •••poseth that Iohn baptized them, tho' ungodly, and without Faith, or the ••• thereof appearing: telling them, they should afterwards believe in ••• that was to come: whereas 'tis evident, he required Faith and Repentance immediately of them, as antecedent to Baptism, but I shall proceed no further.
O! when shall this Controversie cease? doubtless, none have just Cause •• blame us to defend that which we believe to be a precious Truth of Chri•• when so many still appear to deny it, and write against it.
The Lo•• open their Eyes, and send Love and Union amongst all t•• Lord's People. Amen.