We now move to the Fourth Chapter of Master Harrison's Infant Baptism - God's Ordinance containing his Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Arguments for Infant Baptism. These being the final arguments presented.
The next two articles in the series will deal with Master Harrison's responses to the objections of the Anabaptists and the danger of their doctrine.
But for now we turn to the final arguments proving the baptising of infants as God's Ordinance.
Editor's Note: Again the writer has edited the original work and updated the spelling, grammar and language and it is sincerely hoped that such revisions have not detracted from the intent or meaning.
The Third Argument
If any Infants are Christ's disciples, then those Infants ought to receive the badge of a disciple, which is Baptism; but some Infants are disciples, Act. 15:10. Why lay you a yoke upon the necks of the disciples. Now this Yoke was Circumcision, as v. 1. and v. 5 [of Acts 15 shows]. There were some that would impose circumcision on the disciples of Christ. Now this must needs be understood of Infants as well as others, because that circumcision was most commonly administered to Infants. Therefore if Infants are not only meant, they are chiefly intended; now that all disciples of Christ ought to be baptized; there is a plain command for it; and so a command for Infant Baptism, Matt. 28:19. Go therefore teach all nations; but in the Greek it is, μαθητεύω, Go disciple all nations, baptizing them; Infants are disciples, as before, therefore ought to be baptized.
The Fourth Argument
If it has been the constant custom of the Church of Christ all along from the Apostles days to baptize Infants, none never denying it till some hundreds of years after; then we may rationally conclude it was the practice of the Apostles to baptize Infants; but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Now that Infant Baptism was practised in the primitive times by the whole Universal Catholic Church, is evident.
Irenaeus, who had seen Polycarp, St. John's disciple, and therefore lived very near the Apostles days, says, Christ came to save and sanctify all sorts; Qui per eum venascuntur in Deum Infantes, &c. All that are born to God, Infants, little ones, and children— born to God in the ecclesiastical phrase, is but the same with Infant Baptism.
Tertullian, who lived about the year of redemption 200 moved some scruples about baptism, yet never denied the lawfulness of it: and in case that the Infant was in danger of death, did vehemently urge it.
Origen, who lived but little after him, speaks again and again of the baptizing little children, and says, They received it by Tradition from the Apostles
About 150 years after the death of St. John, there was one Fidus, who raised a doubt, Whether Infants might be baptized before they were eight days old, because circumcision was not to be administered till then. Therefore Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and 66 more, met to consider this case; and agreed, that Infants, recens nati, new born, might be baptized.
And thus we might cite testimonies of Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustin, and many others, that it was the constant custom of the Church to baptize Infants. Which custom is still continued in all the churches of Christ all the world over; as appears in all the Confessions of all the Protestant Churches: As Helvetia, Bohemia, Belgia, Auspurg, Saxony, Wittenberg, Swedeland, France and Peidmont; and histories tell us it is practised by the Russians, Muscovites, and all the Christians in India, Syria, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Palestine; and in every part of the world where there be any Christian Churches planted.
The Fifth Argument
The Fifth Argument for Infant Baptism is this:
If the Infants of believing parents be in the Covenant of Grace, and the promise of the Covenant do belong to them; then they may, and ought to be baptized.
But such Infants are in covenant, and the Promise of the Covenant doth belong to them, therefore they ought to be baptized.
That they are in covenant as well as their parents, is undeniably evident from the tenure of that Covenant made with Abraham, which was a Gospel-covenant, Gen. 17:7 as we have abundantly proved; and that the promise of the Covenant is to them, is as evident, Act. 2:39. The promise is to you, and to your children; he means the promise of God to Abraham; the promise of Salvation by Christ, which was promised both to Jews and Gentiles; but to the Jews in the first place: Or suppose the Apostle hath respect unto Jer. 31:33, 34. or to Joel 2.28. it alters not the case, for those were all branches of the Covenant of Grace, and explications of what was virtually contained in that first Promise to Abraham, Gen. 17:7.
The Sixth Argument
The Sixth Argument for Infant Baptism is this:
If the Infants of one or both of the believing parents be federally holy, then they ought to be baptized; but the former is true, therefore the latter, 1 Cor. 7.14. By the holiness of children there, is not meant legitimacy; i.e. not Bastards; so they would have been, if both the parents had been pagans. Nor is it meant that they are savingly sanctified, but federally holy; that is, in the Covenant of Grace; and so had an undeniable right to the seal of the Covenant, which is Baptism.
The Seventh Argument
The Seventh Argument for Infant-Baptism is this:
If the Kingdom of Heaven belong to Infants, then they ought to be baptized; but the Kingdom of Heaven does belong to some Infants, Matt. 19:14. Suffer little children to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
1. Suppose by the Kingdom of Heaven, is meant the Kingdom of Glory; little Children when they die shall go to Heaven; this sense the Anabaptists cannot disallow; for they say, all Children dying in infancy, are saved; the Infants of Turks, Pagans, Infidels, Papists, all sorts: Then if they are heirs of glory, this must be by virtue of their interest in, and union with Christ; for there's no other way to heaven, but by Jesus Christ, John 14:6. I am the way, the truth, and the life; no coming unto the father but by me: There's no Name under heaven, whereby we can be saved, but only Jesus Christ. Now if Infants have a right to glory by virtue of their uni∣on with, and interest in Christ, then have they a right to be baptized; if they have a right to heaven by Christ, then to receive the badge of a disciple of Christ, which is Baptism; no person can have any plea for heaven, that had not a right to be baptized, Acts 2:47. The Lord added to the Church such as should be saved. This adding to the Church was by Baptism, v. 41. And let them show that can, what right those have to heaven, that are not, or at least have not a right to be so added to the visible Church.
2. But by the Kingdom of Heaven is oft understood the Gospel-Church: So Mat. 22:18.104.22.168.20, 21.11.12 and in most of our Saviour's Parables. And this is most likely to be the meaning of this text, of such is the kingdom of heaven; that is, the Gospel-Church takes Infants as well as adult persons to be visible Members in it. And then the consequence is unavoidable, the visible Church and Kingdom of Christ is made up of Infants as well as adult persons; baptism is the door into the visible Church, therefore they must needs be baptized.
The Eight Argument
The Eighth Argument for Infant Baptism is this:
If Infants are to be received in the name of Christ, they are to be baptized in the name of Christ; but Infants are to be received in the name of Christ, Mark 9:36. Whoso receiveth one such child in my name, receiveth me; to receive them in the name of Christ, is to receive them as the disciples of Christ; or, because they belong to Christ. And if they ought to be thus received in Christ's name, as the friends and disciples of Christ, then they ought to receive the badge of a disciple, to have the name of Christ named over them in Baptism.
The Ninth Argument
If in our Saviour's time the Head and Master of a family was never baptized, but his whole family was baptized with him, then children and Infants ought to be baptized, for they are a considerable part of families. But we never read of any Head or Master of a family baptized, but his or their whole household were baptized with them; as is evident in Cornelius, Acts 10. and Lydia, and the Jailer, Acts 16. So 1 Cor. 1:14. &c.
Objection: But there's no mention of any Infants in any of these families.
Answer: No more is there of any of riper years: and it's much more likely that there was Infants in those families, than other∣wise; there is no mention in Scripture of children of believing parents baptized at adult age.
I shall multiply no more Arguments; by these the unprejudiced Reader will be abundantly satisfied, that Infant-Baptism is God's Ordinance.