Our next article is drawn from the third chapter of Rev. Harrison's Infant baptism God's ordinance, or, Clear proof that all the children of believing parents are in the covenant of grace and have as much a right to baptism the now seal of the covenant, as the infant seed of the Jews had to circumcision, the then seal of the covenant.
Here Master Harrison presents his second argument for the baptism of the Infants of believers under five heads.
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 Second Argument in Summary
If the Infants of believing parents ought to be received and admitted visible Church-members, then such Infants ought to be baptized; but the Infants of believing parents ought to be received and admitted visible Church-members, therefore they ought to be baptized.
Now that such Infants ought to be received into the visible Church as visible Church-members, I prove by these arguments.
The Second Argument -The First Head
The First Limb
If by the merciful gift and appointment of God, not yet repealed, some Infants were once to be admitted members of the visible Church by virtue of the Covenant of Grace; then it is certain some Infants are still to be so admitted: but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Two things must here be done to show:
Proposition A. That some Infants were once admitted members of the visible Church.
Proposition B. That this Church-membership was never repealed.
Some Infants were once so admitted by virtue of the Covenant of Grace. If any deny this, thus it is proved.
(i) Infants were part of them that entered into covenant with the Lord God, and into his oath, that he might take them to be a peculiar people to himself;
Deut 29:10-15. Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders with your officers, with all the men of Israel. Your little ones, your wives, &c. That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day. That he establish thee to day for a people unto himself; and that be may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee; and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant, and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord your God; but with him that is not here with us this day.
This was not a new Covenant, but a renewing the Covenant made with Abraham, as v. 13 above proves. Into this Covenant their little ones present were taken, and their little ones yet unborn.
(i) Infants were engaged to God by the seal of the Covenant, which was circumcision, Gen. 17:10. Circumcision was not a mere political rite, as some frantic Anabaptists have dreamed; but a seal of the Covenant of Grace, Rom. 4:11. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith: That is, Circumcision was:
(a) A Sign; of what? of the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit of Christ; of the mortifying and killing the old man; of the sad effects of Sin, both original and actual; and the way of recovery by Jesus Christ.
(b) It’s a Seal of the righteousness of faith; that is, of the righteousness of christ imputed to the believer, and received by faith; this is a periphrasis of the Covenant of Grace, wherein righteousness is promised, and made over to us in a way of believing.
(iii) Infants were baptized to Moses in the Cloud, and in the Sea, 1 Cor. 10:1, 2, 3. And Stephen calls that Assembly, whereof they were members, the Church in the wilderness. From hence it is evident beyond rational contradiction, that Infants were sometimes taken into the visible Church, as visible Church-members, by virtue of the Covenant of Grace.
That this Infant Church-membership was never repealed. For if Infant Church-membership be repealed, then that repeal must be either in mercy or judgment; but it was in neither, therefore it was never repealed.
Infant Church-membership was never repealed in judgment; for God never revokes his Covenant to any people, till first that people break covenant with him, which Infants never did; therefore being once taken into covenant, 'tis certain God did never cast them out.
Now it was a mercy to have Infants taken into covenant, Deut. 29:10, 11, 12. therefore if this privilege be revoked, it must be in judgment; for as it is a great mercy to be in the visible Church, so is a sore judgment to be out of it, to be cast out of covenant.
Now if Infant Church-membership be repealed, then the Infants of believers under the Gospel are in a much worse condition than before Christ's Incarnation; certainly Christ did not come to make our children miserable, or to put them into a worse condition than they were in before; this would make Christ a destroyer, who is the only Saviour.
But certainly the Church is now in a much better condition, and her privileges more ample and larger than they were before; she hath lost none of her privileges, but gained many more, Heb. 8:6. A more excellent ministry, better promises, Rom. 5:15, 16, 17. ‘It is certain Infants are not thrown out of covenant, for that would much darken the grace of God received in the Gospel.
Nor is Infant Church-membership repealed in mercy; for it can be no mercy to take away a mercy, unless it means to give a greater mercy in the room of it. Now let the Anabaptists show what greater mercy God hath given in the room of Infant Church-membership; there is none: Therefore it was never repealed.
The Second Limb
If that Covenant, by virtue whereof Infants were received into the visible Church, was the Covenant of Grace, then it is certain it was never repealed.
But that Covenant, by virtue whereof they were taken in, was the Covenant of Grace, therefore it was never repealed. But that Covenant, by virtue whereof they were taken into the visible Church, was the Covenant of Grace, as is most evident, Deut. 29:10-12. And so the Covenant made with Abraham, whereof circumcision was a seal, Gen. 17:7, 10. as the Apostle clearly proves, Rom. 4.11. Now the Covenant of Grace is an everlasting Covenant, 2 Sam. 23:5. never was, nor ever will be repealed.
Infant Church-membership was no Ceremony, neither was it any part of the Ceremonial Law; if any say it was, let them show what it typified under the Gospel. If it were a Ceremony, then the materials of the Church would be a ceremony, and so the Church itself, which would be very absurd to affirm.
Neither was it part of the Moral Law, the Covenant of Works, whatever pains some of the opposite persuasion have taken to prove it; for the Covenant of Works knows no mercy; neither was it any part of the Judicial Law, for Church-membership was not a piece of mere policy; the Church is one thing, and the Commonwealth another.
The Third Limb
If there be no mention or record of the repeal of Infant Church-membership in any part of the New Testament, then it is most certain it was never repealed. But there is no record of any such repeal in any part of the New Testament, therefore it was never repealed; if any say it was, let them show where that repeal is recorded. It is true Circumcision is ceased, because it was a ceremonial yype; but Infant Church-membership being no type or ceremony, is not ceased.
The Second Argument - The Second Head
If an Infant was Head of the visible Church, then an Infant may be a Member of the visible Church. But an Infant was Head of the visible Church; for who will deny, but that Jesus Christ was Head of the visible Church in his infancy? what honour was done to Christ in his infancy both by Angels and men? Hence it appears,
1. That the Nonage of Infants doth not make them incapable of being Church-members, supposing God's will.
2. It shows, that it is the will of God that it should be so; because Christ passed through each age to sanctify it to us. Thus Irenaeus, who lived about an hundred and fifty years after Christ, these are his words; Ideo per omnem venit etatem, & infantibus Infans factus, &c. Therefore Christ passed through every age; for Infants he was made an Infant, sanctifying Infants; in little children, being a little child, sanctifying them that have that very age; here's clear proof from antiquity of Infant Church-membership.
The Second Argument - The Third Head
If Infants are federally holy, then they have a right to visible Church-membership; but Infants are federally holy, 1 Cor. 7.14. as we have before showed, and all sound Interpreters tell us.
The Second Argument - The Fourth Head
If Infants belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, then they belong to, and are members of the visible Church; but Infants do belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, therefore they belong to the visible Church. Now some Infants do belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, Matt. 19:14. Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. By the Kingdom of Heaven here, must needs be meant, either the Kingdom of Grace, that is, the Gospel-Church here; and then the meaning is, That the Gospel Church, which is Christ's Kingdom on Earth, is made up of Infants, as well as adult persons; and this is most likely to be the meaning: And so the thing in question is clearly proved. Or else by the Kingdom of Heaven must be meant the Kingdom of Glory: That is, Children shall go to Heaven as well as grown Persons. If so, still the con∣sequence is clear; if Infants are members of the invisible Church, then have they an undoubted right to be Members of the visible Church.
I grant a person may be a member of the invisible Church, and yet no member of the visible: Yet whoever is a member of the in∣visible Church, hath a right to visible Church-membership.
The Second Argument -The Fifth Head
If Infants are to be received in Christ's name, then they do undoubtedly belong to Christ's Church: But we are commanded to receive Infants in Christ's name, Mark 9:36, 37. —He that receiveth one such child in my name, receiveth me, &c. Doth Christ take them into his arms, and would he have them cast out of his Church? Are we to receive them in Christ's name, and do they not belong to Christ, nor to his Church? See Mark 10:13, 14, 15. Did Christ say all this to deceive us? certainly they are visible Members of the visible Church.
Now if this be so, that some Infants were sometimes admitted by God's own appointment, and that by virtue of the Covenant of Grace, visible Church-members;
Then undoubtedly they ought to be baptized; for Baptism is the only rite that Jesus Christ, who is Head of the Church, hath appointed for the admitting members into his Church, Matt 28:18, 19. All that are, or will be Christ's disciples, must be baptized in his name; if any know any other, let them show it.
Now these two Arguments are abundantly sufficient to prove the Infants right to Baptism, and it is needless to name any other: But yet because some think a thing never proved, unless much be said, and many arguments be brought; I shall therefore add some other Arguments; though I shall not dwell, nor enlarge on them, because the right understanding of these already mentioned, will give light to what remains.