Having set out his Arguments showing Infant Baptism as the ordinance of God's Master Harrison attends to answering the common objections of the Anabaptists.
These objections and answers, taken from the sixth chapter of Infant Baptism God's Ordinance ,are now here presented to the reader.
Editors Note: The original work has been updated, edited and reformatted by the writer and it is sincerely hoped that such revisions have not detracted from the intent or meaning.
If it be God's will Infants should be baptized, Why is there no Command for it, as there was for their Circumcision?
1. The general command includes children, therefore there was no need of any particular mentioning of them.
2. The promise is as express to children, as to parents, Acts 2.39. The promise is to you and to your Children.
3. It had been absurd to have given a new command for children, seeing they were in the actual possession of their privilege, and had been so ever since Abraham's time, none had ever questioned their right and title to the Covenant. There was no Anabaptists in the Apostles days, nor of many hundred years after.
But that Covenant, Gen. 17:7 was a Covenant of Works.
Indeed some weak Anabaptists have said so.
But it was not a Covenant of Works, for that knows no mercy to fallen sinners; but there is mercy in that Covenant, that God will be a God to his people, and to their seed: It was a Covenant of Grace, and that the Apostle proves, Rom. 4:11. as hath has abundantly proved before.
Though Infants were then Church-members, it doth not follow they are so now; the Church is now built on another foundation. Thus a preacher among the Anabaptists lately urged to me.
1. If this be true, then the Church of Christ under the Old Testament, had a different foundation from the Church now under the New Testament: The foundation is now Jesus Christ; but what was it then? What will not proud and ignorant men say to maintain an error!
2. The foundation of the Church then was Christ, and the Covenant of Grace was the same then as now; only then was but the dawning of the day, the darker appearances of the Son of Righteousness; but now the Sun shines in his full strength. Heb. 10:1. Rom. 4:3, 11.
But though Infants were then visible Church-members, and had a right to the sign of the Covenant, God has now cast off the Jews, and so Infant Church-membership is ceased.
The Apostle assures us, that Church-membership, and all other privileges, are as sure and ample now to the believing Gentiles, as they were before to the Jews, Rom. 11:17. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in amongst them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.
But Circumcision is abolished, therefore Infant Church-membership.
Circumcision and Infant Church-membership, were two things; circumcision was but the Rite of admitting visible members; the Rite is changed, but not Church-membership; Baptism comes in the room of Circumcision, Col. 2:10, 11, 12.
Infants are not capable of the ends of baptism, for it's an engaging sign, and signifies the washing away sin, both guilt and stain; Infants being incapable of the use of reason, must be so of Baptism.
Baptism hath more ends than one:
1. It's Christ's listing sign for admitting soldiers into his service, or disciples into his school, or subjects into his Kingdom; and this is what Infants are capable of.
2. It's an engaging sign, wherein they are by parents, or other, engaged to God, and this they are capable of also.
3. The inward grace thereby signified, as Pardon, Justification, Sanctification, Adoption, these Infants are capable of, otherwise they could not be saved, and if these are not, the sacrament may be without them.
4. A lease for years, with a covenant to a child that understands it not, may be of great use: So baptism, though at present the child understands nothing of it, yet it may be, and to converted believers is of great use afterwards, and godly parents at present have the comfort: For God herein hath provided for the comfort of parents.
5. A person may be baptized that is not capable of all the ends of baptism; one end of baptism is to wash away sin, &c. this was an end Jesus Christ was not capable of, and yet he was Baptized.
6. Those Infants Christ took into his arms and blessed, and those circumcised at eight days old, knew no more of the benefits they received, than ours do now; they were no more capable of faith and repentance, than ours are; and yet they entered into the Covenant of Grace, Rom. 4:11.
But we have no express command in the New Testament to baptize Infants.
I have shown there needed none; their privilege had been settled many ages before, and never questioned by any, nor repealed by Christ; their former right continuing firm, Acts 2:39. the general command includes them.
But if they had a Right, we might expect to find some examples of their baptizing.
It is manifest that believers housholds were baptized with them, Acts 10. Acts 16:15, 16, 33 and if no Infants are mentioned, so neither any children of believing parents baptized at age; and we have much more reason to believe there were Infants in all, or some of those families, than any have to think there was none.
The Baptism of Believers is come in the room of Infant Church-membership.
1. It hath been abundantly proved, that Infant Church-membership was no ceremony, or type; if any say it was, let them prove it: Therefore as it was never abolished, nor Infants never unchurched, nothing can be said to come in the room of it.
2. That baptizing adult believers should exclude Infants, is as if the receiving and circumcising the Gentile proselytes into the Church of Israel, had been a means to have unchurched their Infants, which for any to affirm, would be extremely ridiculous.
How can Infants covenant with God, or be engaged by this Sign? or where doth God engage Parents to promise any thing for their Children?
That parents may, and ought to covenant for their children, plainly appears,
1: From Nature, Lex naturae est, Lex Dei; may not parents take a lease for their children? who buys lands, and not for himself and heirs? are not children bound by those ties? and then much more to God.
2. From Scripture, Deut. 29:10, 11, 12, 13. here you may see the parents covenant, not only for their children then present, but unborn, and they were by circumcision to enter them into Covenant, so Deut. 26:17, 18. and hath the Gospel taken away the parent's right in his child?
We promise what we cannot perform?
We promise to educate this child for God, to instruct him in Gospel truths; leaving the renovation and sanctification of the heart to God, who works when, on whom, and by what means he pleases.
May not a man covenant for himself and heirs to pay a yearly rent? and what follows in case it be not paid, but forfeiture of his lease, and that from the person that should have paid it?
If Infants must be baptized, why may they not as well receive the Lord's Supper?
1. If there were that Scripture-proof to administer the Lord's Supper to Infants, as there is for baptizing them, we would do it, when they have as clearly proved the one, as we have the other.
2. Baptism is the initiating seal of entering into the Church, which Infants being disciples of Christ, are capable of; the Lord's Supper is the confirming seal to be administered only to grown Christians; therefore Infants have a right to the one, but not to the other.
If Infants ought to be baptized, why is it left so dark in the New Testament?
1. It's not dark, which admits of such clear proof as you see this does.
2. That all Christ's disciples ought to be baptized, is not dark, Matt. 28:19. Infants are disciples; therefore 'tis plain they ought to be baptized.
The baptizing persons before they know, occasions much gross ignorance.
1. Christ is the occasion of the ruin and damnation of thousands, for he was set for the fall, as well as the rising of many in Israel, Luke 2:3, 4. but had it been better the world had had no Christ?
2. The Gospel is the savour of death to many; had it been better then we had had no Gospel? What will not the wicked take hurt by?
3. Let them show what in baptism tends to breed ignorance; Is the entring a boy's name in the school the way to breed him in ignorance? if a child's name be put into a lease, is this like to hurt him? what harm is it to be in Christ's family from our youth?
Nay, the contrary is the way to breed ignorance and profaneness; for how many sad examples have we among the Anabaptists, who refusing to dedicate their Infants to Christ, they are ignorantly and brutishly brought up, live and die like pagans.
Thus it hath been proved abundantly, that Infant Baptism is God's Ordinance; that the Infant seed of believers were once taken into the Church as visible Church-members; that Christ owns them, &c. therefore they ought to be baptized; that it's a false and dangerous doctrine to deny them Church-membership and baptism.
Enough hath been said for the satisfaction of those who are seeking truth; such who wilfully shut their eyes, it's in vain to set light before them, because seeing they see, but do not understand; and hearing they hear, but do not perceive.