The due right of presbyteries, or, A peaceable plea for the government of the Church of Scotland ... by Samuel Rutherfurd ...
Rutherford, Samuel, 1600?-1661.

CHAP. 4. SECT. 6.

The way of the Churches of Christ in New England.

IN this Section the Reverend Author disputeth against the Bap∣tizing of Infants of unbeleeving, or excommunicated nea∣reit * Parents, of which I have spoken in my former Treatise: Onely here I vindicate, our Doctrine. And first the Authour is pressed with this, the excommunicated persons want indeed the free passage of life, and vertue of the Spirit of Jesus, till they be tuitched with repentance, yet they are not wholly Page  256 cut off from the society of the faithfull, because the seed of faith remaineth in them, and that knitteth them in a bond of conjunction with Christ. The Authour answereth, It is true, such excommunicates, as are truely faithfull, remaine in Covenant with God, because the seed of faith remaineth in them, yet to the socie∣ty of the faithfull joyned in a particular visible Church, they are not knit, but wholly cut off from their communion, for it is not the seed of faith, nor faith it selfe, that knitteth a man to this, or that parti∣cular Church, but a holy profession of the Faith, which when a man hath violated by a grievous sinne, and is delivered to Satan, he is now, not as a dead palsie-member, cut off from the body, though bee may remaine a member of the invisible Church of the first borne, yet he hath neither part, nor portion, nor fellowship in the particular visible Church of Christ Jesus, but is as an heathen and a publican: now Sacraments are not given to the invisible Church, nor the members there∣of, as such, but to the visible particular Churches of Jesus Christ, and therefore we dare no more baptize his childe, than the childe of an heathen.

I Answer, First, if Faith remaine in some excommunica∣ted person, (as you grant) it must be seene in a profession, for though for some particular scandall, the man be excommuni∣cated, yet is he not cut off (as we now suppone) for universall apostasie from the truth to Gentilisine, or Judaisme, for then he should be cursed with the great excommunication, 1 Cor. 16. v. 22. and so though he be to the Church as a heathen, in that act, yet is he not to the visible Church an heathen, but a brother, and to be admonished as a brother, 2 Thess. 3. 15. and the Church is to use excommunication as a medicine, with intention to save his Spirit in the day of the Lord, 1 Cor. 5. 4, 5. 1 Tim. 1. 20. an ex∣communicated apostate is not so: now if hee retaine faith to the Churches decerning, he retaineth the profession of Faith, and in so farre a visible membership, with the Church in the Covenant; Ergo, for that professed Faith, by our brethrens grant, his childe should be baptized, and so is not wholly cut off, but is as a dead palsie member of the Church, and so as a member, though in a deliquie, and Lethargie.

2. You say to the faithfull of a particular Church, the excommu∣nicate is wholly cut off: What doe you meane? if his sinnes be Page  257 bound in heaven, (as they are, if he justly be excommunica∣ted) is he not also cut off, to all the visible Churches on earth are not all the Churches to repute him as a publican and a hea∣then? I beleeve they are, but you deny in this all visible com∣munion of Churhes.

3. You say, it is not the seede of Faith that knitteth a man to a particular visible Church, but an holy profession. But in the excom∣municate person, (if the seede of faith remaine as you grant) this faith must be seene, by you, in a holy profession, else to you, he hath no seed of faith; and if his profession of faith remaine intire, though it bee violated in the particular obstinate, remaining in one scandall, for the which he is excommunicated, you have no reason to say, that to the par∣ticular Church, hee is wholly cut off, since his profession re∣maineth.

4. You say, It is not the seed of faith, nor faith it selfe that knit∣teth a man to this or that particular visible Church, but a holy profession of faith. Then I say, one may be knit to a particular visible Church, and a true member thereof, though he want both the seed of Faith, and Faith it selfe. I prove the connexion. A man is a perfect and true member of a Church, though he want that which doth not knit him to the Church, this is undeny∣able: But without the seed of Faith or Faith it selfe, (as you say) hee is knit to the true Church: Ergo. But this is contrary to your Doctrine, who require, chap. 3. sect. 3. that none must bee admitted members of a visible Church, but those who are Christ his body, the habitation of God by the Spirit, the Temples of the Holy Ghost, &c. And that no onely by external profession, but in some measure of sincerity and Truth. Now consider my Reve∣rend Brethren, if there bee a measure of sincerity and Truth, where there is neither the seed of Faith, nor Faith it selfe: and surely by this you cast downe and marre the constitution of your visible Church, when you exclude from the members thereof, the seed of Faith, and Faith it selfe; and you come to our hand, and teach, that the seed of Faith, and Faith it selfe, is accidentall to a visible Church as visible, which wee also teach: and so there is no measure of truth and sincerity required to the essentiall con∣stitution of a visible Church.

Page  258 5. But I would gladly learne how you contra-distinguish these two, Faith, and a holy profession of Faith? Doe you imagin that there can be a holy profession knitting a man to the visible Church, where there be neither the seed of Faith, nor Faith it selfe? It is Arminian holinesse, which is destitute of Faith, but if you meane by a holy profession, a profession conceived to be holy, though it be not so indeed, then you doe yet badly con∣tradivide a holy profession from faith, for before any can be knit as a member to the visible Church, you are to conceive him to be a Saint, a Beleever, and so to have both the seed of Faith, and Faith it selfe, though indeed he have neither of the two, and so Faith is as wel that which knitteth a man as a member to the visible Church, as holinesse.

6. If he remaine a member of the universall Church of the first borne, is hee therefore so as a heathen, and so that you dare no more receive him to the Supper, nor his seed to baptisme, nor you dare receive a heathen, and his seed to the Seales of the Covenant? is a heathen a member of the invisible Church of the first borne? but the excommunicated you presume is such a one.

7. What warrant have you for this Doctrine, That the Sa∣craments are not given to the invisible Church, as it is such, but to the visible? Certainely, God ordaineth the Sacraments to the be∣leevers as beleevers, and because they are within the Covenant, and their interest in the Covenant, is the onely true right of interest to the Seales of the Covenant, profession doth but declare who beleeve and who beleeve not, and consequently, who have right to the Seales of the Covenant, and who not, but profession doth not make right, but declareth who have right.

The Author subjoyneth, Christ giveth no due right unto bap∣tisme to the child, but by the Fathers right unto the Covenant and com∣munion of the Church, so by taking away right unto the Covenant and Communion of the Church from the Father, he taketh away the chil∣drens right also, the personall sinne of the parent in this case is not a meere private personall sinne, but the sinne of a publike person of his family: for as his profession of his faith at his receiving unto the Church, was as the profession of a publike person receiving him and his children, who could make no profession but by his mouth unto the Church, so hisPage  259violation of his profession by a scandalous cri••, was as a publike vio∣lation thereof for himself and his seed, who stand or fall before the Church in his name and his person.

Answ. 1. It is true, Christ giveth right to baptisme to the child, by the Fathers right. I distinguish that, by the nearest fa∣ther onely I deny, by the right of fathers in generall, true; but then it will follow, that no infant is to be debarred from baptisme for the sinnes of his nearest parents, for if these who are descended of Abraham and David, many generations up∣ward from them, were within the Covenant, and so had right to circumcision, for the Covenant made with David and Abra∣ham, and the nearest fathers sinne is not the cause of taking away the right to the Covenant from the child, and right to the Church Communion.

2. I much doubt if the child have right to the seales of the Covenant, for the faith of the father, and so I deny that hee loseth right to the seales of the Covenant for the fathers scan∣dalous crime, which is a violation of the Covenant. I doe re∣verence grave and learned divines, who speake so; aOecolam∣padius, and bZuinglius say that Insants are sanctified by their pa∣rents faith; but I conceive they take the word faith objective∣ly, for the doctrine of faith profeffed by the father, and not subjectively. But I think that great Divine cBeza saith well, that no man is saved by another mans faith, nor can the parents faith be imputed to the children, which is no lesse absurd, nor to say that one man liveth by the soule and life of another man, and that he is wise by the wisedome of another man: how then are Infants within the Covenant for their parents?

I answer, for the faith of their fathers, that is, for the Co∣venant of their fathers they have right to baptisme, for that I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed, Galat. 3. 8. comprehend∣eth all the beleeving Gentiles. And for this cause the children of Papists and excommunicate protestants which are borne within our visible Church are baptized, if their forefathers have beene found in the faith; and I thinke the reason is given by d Doctor Morton, who saith, The children of all Papists, Ana∣baptists, or other Hereticks, are to be distinguished from the children of Turkes and Pagans, because the Parents of Papists and Anabap∣tists Page  260 have once beene dedicated to Christ in baptisme, and the child (saith he) hath onely interest in that part of the Covenant, which is sound and Catholike, while as the parents themselves stand guiltie of heresie, which by their owne proper and actuall consent, they have added unto the Church.

And I thinke the Scripture saith here with us, that the nea∣rest parents be not the onely conveyers and propagators of fe∣derall holinesse to the posteritie, Psal. 106. 35. They were mingled with the heathen and learned their workes, 36. and they served their Idols, &c. 44. Neverthelesse he regarded their affliction, 45. and he remembred, for them, his covenant. What Covenant? His Cove∣nant made with Abraham, and yet their nearest fathers sinned, v. 6. We have sinned and our fathers, v. 7. Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembred not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked him at the Sea, even at the red Sea, v. 8. Neverthelesse be saved them for his names sake. His name was the glory of the Covenant made with Abraham, by which his name and truth, by promise was ingaged, Esa. 63. 10. But they rebelled and vexed his holy Spirit, therefore hee was turned to bee their enemy, and hee fought against them, v. 11. Then he remembred the dayes of old, Moses and his people, saying, Where is he that led them, and brought them out of the red Sea? So also Esay 51. 1, 2, 3. and most evidently, Ezek. 20. 8. They rebelled against me, &c. But I wrought for my names sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made my selfe knowne unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.

Now this name is to be expounded his Covenant, Jerem. 31. 32. which he made with them, when hee brought them out of the land of Egypt, which Covenant is extended unto the Christian Church, Heb. 8. 8. 9, 10. Now if God gave right unto the sonnes of the Jewes, I meane federall right, to temporall deliverance, and the meanes of grace, for the Covenant made with Abraham, though their nearest parents rebelled against the Lord, that same Covenant in all the priviledges thereof in∣dureth yet, yea and is made to all the Gentiles, al. 3. 8. Heb. 8. 8, 9, 10. for it is the covenant nationall made with the whole race, not with the sonnes upon the condition of the nearest pa∣rents saith, as is cleare after Christs ascension unto heaven, Page  261Act. 2. 39. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afarre off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call. Now it is cleare that their fathers killed the Prophets, Matth. 23. 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35. they were a wicked generation under blood, v. 37.

2. It is cleare that these externally, and in a federall and Church profession have right ecclesiastick to the Covenant, to whom the externall calling of the preached Gospell doth be∣long, while he saith the promise (of the Covenant) is made to as many as the Lord our God shall call, so the called nation, though the nearest parents have killed the Prophets, and rejected the calling of God, Matth. 23. 33. 34. 37. is the nation which have externall and Church-right to the promises and Covenant, and Rom. 11. 28. As concerning the Gospell they are enemies for your sake, but as touching the election they are beloved for the fathers sake: now their nearest fathers maliciously opposed the Gospell, there∣fore it must be for the election of the holy nation, in which re∣spect, the nation of the Jewes, v. 16. was a holy seed, and a holy root, and the children were also the holy branches, holy with the ho∣linesse of the Covenant; and Joshua had no reason to circum∣cise the people at Gilgal, for the holinesse of their nearest parents, whose earcasses fell in the wildernesse, yet he circumcised them, to take away the reproach of his people; now this reproach was uncircumcision in the flesh, the reproach of the Philistims, (so Goliah is called an uncircumcised Philistim) and of all the nati∣ons without the Covenant of God: yea by this there were no reason to circumcise the sonnes of Achab and Jezabel, whose nearest parents were slaves to Idolatry, and who were bloody persecutors of the Prophets; nor was there reason to circum∣cise Jeroboams sonne, in whom there was some good, for both fa∣ther and mother were wicked Apostates: and very often, by this doctrine, should the people of the Jewes leave off to be the visible Church, and so the promise of the Covenant should faile in the line from Abraham to David, and from David to Christ; even so oft as the nearest parents did evill in the sight of the Lord; and many times should God have cast off his people whom be fore∣knew; contrary to that which Paul saith, Rom. 11. 1, 2, 3. To these I adde, if the infants of the Christian Church have onely right to baptisme, through the faith of the nearest parents Page  262 onely, then is this to be conceived either to bee true and saving faith, in the nearest parents, or onely faith in profession: if you say the former, then 1. The seed of the excommunicated pa∣rents, in whom is faith, or the seed thereof is to be baptized, the contrary, of which you affirme.

2. Then the seed and Infants of no Parents, but of such only as are members of the invisible Church of the first borne, are to be baptized, the contrary whereof you teach, while you say, The Sacraments are not given to the invisible Church, and the members thereof, but to the visible particular Churches.

3. The Infants of the unbeleeving parents, though mem∣bers of the visible Church, have no right to baptisme, and the Covenant, though they be the elect of God, and borne with∣in the visible Church, which is admirable to us, now it is knowne that Hypocrites and unbeleeving parents have often such a luster of a greene and fairelike profession, as that they goe for visible members of the Church, so as their children are by Christs warrant and right baptized. I come to the other point, if the faith of nearest parents, onely true in profession and show before men, give right to their Infants to bee sealed with the seales of the Covenant: Then 1. apparent and by∣pocriticall faith conferreth true right to the seales to Infants, and there is not required (as the author saith Chap. 3. Sect. 3.) that the members of the visible Church be the called of God, the sonnes and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, not onely in externall*profession, but also in some measure of sinceritie and truth.

2. God hath warranted his Church to put his seale upon a falsehood, and to conferre the seales upon Infants, for the ex∣ternall profession of faith, where there is no faith at all, this your writers thinke inconvenient and absurd.

Also it is objected by us, that excommunicates children are in no better case by this doctrine, then the children of Turkes and Infidels.

The Author answereth. We willingly (saith he) put a diffe∣rence; excommunicates are nearer to helpes, and meanes of salvation and conversion, then Turkes, 1 Cor. 5. 5. because excommunication it selfe is a meane that the spirit may be saved: and Turkes are nearer then Apostates, who turne enemies to the truth, for better never havePage  263knowne the way of truth, then to turne backe. But in this they agree, they are all of them as Heathen, Matth. 18. and therefore neither pa∣rents nor children have right to the seales.

Answ. This is not an answer, for the Infants of excommu∣nicates, though they be the seed of ancestors, as grandfathers, who were true beleevers, yet as infants and dying in Infancy, are no lesse without the Covenant, and excluded from the seales thereof, by you then the Infants of Turkes.

2. The Infants of nearest parents in the Jewish Church, though wicked, were not excluded from circumcision, nor were they in the case of the Infants of the prophane heathen; and the same covenant made to the Jewes and their seed, is made to us, and to our seed, Gal. 3. 8. Heb. 8. 9. 10. Rom. 11. 27. 28. Act. 2. 38, 39. We also affirme, that the Lord extendeth the mercy of the Covenant to a thousand generations, and therefore the line * of the covenant-mercy is not broken off, for the unbeleefe of the nearest parents. Our Author answereth.

Is the extension of Gods mercy to a thousand generations be a suffici∣ent ground to extend baptisme to the Children of excommunicates in the right of their ancestors, it may suffice as well to the children of Turkes and Insidels, and Apostates, for it is not above sixty and six genera∣tions from Noah to Christ, as is plaine in the Genealogie, Luk. 3. 13. and there have not passed as many more generations from Christs time*to the Turkes, and Infidels of the present age. And all will not amount (say they in their answers) to the summe of two hundred generati∣ons. The true meaning is, that God out of his abundant and rich mercy may and doth extend thoughts of redeeming and converting mercy and grace unto thousand generations, but he never allowes his Church any warrant to receive unto their Covenant and communion the chil∣dren of godly parents, who lived a thousand yeares agoe, much lesse a thousand generations; nay rather the Text is plaine, 1 Cor. 7. 14. that the holinesse of the children depends upon the next immediat parents, to wit, upon such faith as denominateth them beleevers in opposition to Pa∣gans and Infidels, and that holinesse to the children is called federall, which receiveth them unto the Covenant and seales thereof.

Answ. 1. We stand not on the number of a thousand precise∣ly, nor doth the holy Ghost intend that, for as it is usuall in Scripture, a a definite number is put for an indefinite: Wrath Page  264 followeth the Ammonite and Moabite to the tenth generation, Deut. 23. 2, 3. and the Edomite and Egyptian though cursed, entereth into the Congregation of the Lord, the third generation, v. 7. 8. The Lord here walketh in a latitude, yet so as the mercy of the Co∣venant is extended to more generations, a thousand for foure, beyond the anger of God to the generation of the wicked; nor doth the Authors consequence stand good, that then wee had right and warrant to baptize the children of Turkes, Pagans and Indians, (as for one single Apostate, I account him as one single excommunicate Christian in this point) because the Lords comparison of proportion holdeth in generations of the same kind, and is restricted to the generations within the visible Church, sheweth mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keepe my Commandements, which must be extended to professed love of a nation that is federally holy. Now Turkes and Indians are neither lovers of God, nor in profession, through federall holi∣nesse such; and it is most pregnant against such as confine and imprison the mercy of the Covenant towards poore Infants, to their next immediate parents, and by the Authors inter∣pretation, the thousand generations to which God extendeth mercy, is confined to one, because if the wicked two, the fa∣ther and mother bee violaters of the Covenant, though nine hundreth foregoing generations have beene lovers of God, yet the Covenant mercy is interrupted to the innocent Infants, (in this innocent) and they are translated over to the classe and roll of the children of Turkes and Pagans under the curse and wrath of God for hundreth of generations. The Lord in this having a respect to that people whom hee brought out of the Land of Egypt, in whom hee fulfilled this promise of shewing mercy to many generations, though their nearest parents were grievers of his holy Spirit, and rebellers against him: for Abra∣ham, Isaac and Jacobs sake, cannot bee so narrow and pinched in mercy to the posteritie, as to reduce a thousand generations to one, as this Author would have him to doe.

2. It is a hungry extention of mercy, as the Author expo∣neth it, to Gods extending of thoughts, of redeeming and converting to a thousand generations, which hee hath to Turkes; for these thoughts of redeeming are from the free and absolute decree of Page  265 election to glory, but this is an expresse promise of extending the mercy of the Covenant to a thousand generations, and such as the Lord by necessitie of his veracitie and faithfulnesse of covenant, cannot contraveene.

3. The place 1 Cor. 7. is corrupted contrary to the Apostles intent, which is to resolve a case of conscience, whether the beleeving wife married on a Pagan husband, or a beleeving husband married on a Pagan wife should divorce and separate, because the seed would seeme by Gods Law to bee uncleane, Para 9. 2. Paul answereth, if one be holy and professe the faith, the 〈◊〉 is holy, v. 14. whereas if both father and mother were Pagans and heathen, the seed should be unholy, and voyde of federall holinesse, then were the children uncleane. But the consequence is frivolous, if both be Pagans, and Heathen, and unbeleevers (for so the Author doth well expound the unbeleeving hus∣band) then the seed is uncleane and voyde of federall holinesse. But it followeth not: Ergo, if both the Christian Parents be ex∣communicated, and be scandalous and wicked, they are not members of a parishionall visible Church, then are the children uncleane and voyd of all federall holinesse, and have no right to the seales of the covenant. We deny this connexion, for there be great odds betwixt the children of Turkes, and children of excommunicated and scandalous parents. The children of Turkes and Heathen are not to be baptized, but the children of excommunicates, are as Turkes and Heathen; Ergo, the children of excommunicates are not to bee baptized. The Syllogisme is vitious in its sorme; 2. It faileth in its matter, for children of excommunicates, because of the Covenant made with their ancestors, are in Covenant with God, and the children of Turkes are not so.

The Author addeth, The wickednesse of the parents doth not 〈◊〉 the election or redemption, or the Faith of the child: 〈◊〉 a Bastard is reckoned in the Catalogue of beleevers, He∣•••nes 11. 32. Yet a bastard was not admitted to come unto 〈◊〉 Congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation, Deuteronom.3. 2.

Answ. It is true, the want of baptisme is no hazzard to the salvation of the childe, nor doe we urge that the infants of ex∣communicates, Page  267 should be baptized, because we thinke baptisme necessary, necessitate medii, as Papists doe, but neither we nor Papists, nor any except Anabaptists, and the late Belgi••e Arminians and Socinians, as aEpiscopius,bHenri us S••∣tius,cSomnerus,dSocinus deny baptisme to be necessary in respect of Gods Commandement; and indeed if you urge the constitution of a visible Church, as you doe of members called of God, and Saints, not onely in externall profession, but al∣so in some measure of sincerity and truth, as you doe expressely say (e) in this Treatise, we see not how you can hold that Infants can be baptized at all while they come to age, and can give to∣kens to the Church of their faith, and conversion to God, for if they beleeve not, you put Gods seale upon a blanke, which you thinke absurd.

In the closing of this Section, the Author reasoneth against God-fathers, which are to us of civill use, and no part of bap∣tisme: He alledgeth, he knoweth not any ground at all to allow a*faithfull man liberty to entitle another man his childe, to baptisme, onely upon a pretence of a promise, to have an eye to his education, un∣lesse the childe be either borne in his house or resigned to him, to be brought up in his house as his owne.

I Answer, 1. The Infants of beleeving Fathers absent in o∣ther Lands, upon their lawfull callings, are by this holden from the Seale of the Covenant, as if they were the Children of Pagans, for no fault in the Parents.

2. A promise of education in the Christian faith is here made a sufficient ground for baptizing an Infant, whereas alwayes before the Author contendeth for an holy profession of faith in both, or at the least in one of the nearest parents, but we know that a friend may undertake the Christian educa∣tion of the childe of an excommunicate person, who is to you as the childe of a Pagan, we think, upon such a promise, you could not baptize the childe of a Turke: Ergo, excommuni∣cated persons and Turkes are not alike, as you say.