A Censure Upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists - Henry Ainsworth (Part 5)
We now come to the final exceptions and objections of the Anabaptists concerning circumcision and the covenant with Abraham and here set out Rev Ainsworth responses.
Note: The writer has updated the spelling, grammar and language of the original work and it is sincerely hoped that such revisions have not detracted from the intent or meaning.
Again, they except thus. The covenant is made in Gen. 17, with Abraham and his seed, not with every faithful man and his seed. Is every faithful man Abraham? What proof for that? It is well if we be Abraham's seed &c.
The exception is frivolous: for by virtue of that covenant with Abraham who circumcised his infants, Isaac his son, Jacob his son, all the Israelites in their generations, and every faithful Proselyte of the heathens, circumcised their infants. So the faithful now, who all are Abraham’s seed, and heirs by promise, Gal. 3:29, do seal their infants with Baptism, as of old they did with Circumcision, for the promise is to such and to their children Acts 2:39. When Paul brings Abraham’s example for justification by faith, Rom. 4. if any should trifle and say, What is that to us? We are not Abraham: the Apostle tells, it was not written for his sake alone, but for us also, Rom. 4:23, 24. So say we; that Abraham gave his infants the seal of the covenant, it is not written for him alone, but also for us.
But they proceed and say; In Rom, 4:21, Abraham received the sign of Circumcision, the seal of the righteousness of faith which he had, when he was uncircumcised, that he should be the father of the faithful &c. This proves that Abraham received Circumcision to seal up his fatherhood of the faithful; not that he received it to seal up his faith in the Messiah, which he had 24 years before: but a seal of his faith in believing God, that he should be the father of many Nations, Gen. 17:4, Rom, 4:17, and this was imputed to him for righteousness, Rom. 4:22.
They are blind, and would make blind.
There is no faith that can be imputed to any man for righteousness, but the faith that is in the Messiah; as the Apostle proves at large, in Rom. 3:21, 22, 24, 25 and Rom. 4, and Gal. 3:2. And Abraham believing the promise of a seed, which belief was counted to him for righteousness, Gen. 15:5, 6 believed Christ principally, as his seed after the flesh: for otherwise how could all nations be blessed in him, that is in his seed, as God promised, Gen. 12:3, Gal. 3:8, 16.
The Apostle disproves their vain gloss, when having shewed how Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness, Rom. 4:19-22, he annexes, that this was written for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe in him that raised up Jesus, vs. 23, 24. But if Abraham’s faith had not been the faith in Christ, the Apostle’s argument from his example had been impertinent.
Finally they say, Abraham received Circumcision as none received it: and faith was required of none to Circumcision: but faith is required to Baptism: & therfore these be but men’s dreams, & chaff instead of wheat.
Indeed they would give us chaffe for wheat. They would have us believe that Abraham’s circumcision sealed his fatherhood, not his faith in Christ: which dream is before refuted. They would teach us two or more circumcisions, one which Abraham had, another which other men had. But as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Eph. 4:5. so we find but one circumcision, which all our fathers received. They would persuade us, that whatsoever Paul saith, that circumcision was the seal of the righteousness of faith, Rom. 4:11. yet faith was required of none to Circumcision. But who will believe this their dream? Will God seal righteousness of faith to them that have no faith? This is to make God the author of vain and worthless seals. If it sealed not to men righteousness of faith, what sealed it? Not the land of Canaan, for (as is foreshewed) no child of Abraham by Keturah, no Proselyte had inheritance in Canaan: no nor Isaac, nor Jacob, who were but strangers in the land as Abraham was, Heb. 11:9. Not the covenant of the Law, for that was not given till many years after Abraham, neither could any man have righteousness by it, but wrath and curse, Gal. 3:10. But had not error blinded their eyes, they might see that the covenant sealed by circumcision was, that the Lord would be a God to them and to their seed after them, Gen. 17:7. and this was the covenant of grace in Christ, Heb. 8:8, 10.