THE EVILS OF INFANT BAPTISM
By Robert Boyt C. Howell
INFANT BAPTISM IS AN EVIL BECAUSE IT ENGRAFTS JUDAISM UPON THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
Form of church organization; pedobaptist theory; it proves too much; is in conflict with Christianity; violates true analogy; is at war with fundamental religion; is antiscriptural.
THERE are two theories, and two only consistent with themselves, of church organization. One of them models the church upon the spiritual plan developed in the New Testament; the other gives it the form of the old Jewish Theocracy. The former is Baptist. The latter is Roman Catholic. Between these two, and partaking more or less of both, stand all the various protestant denominations. Their evangelical spirituality is Baptist.
Their other characteristics, and especially their infant baptism, is Roman Catholic; or rather Judaism, of which Popery is confessedly, a continuation. To obtain a basis for this ordinance, they have been obliged, with the papists, to assume the unity of the Jewish church and the Christian church. Thus they engraft Judaism upon the gospel of Christ. I shall state their argument in their own language, as elaborately set forth, in terms acknowledged by all, to be correct, and perspicuous. "Abraham and his seed, were divinely constituted a true visible church of God." "The Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are one and the same church in different dispensations." "Jewish circumcision before Christ, and Christian baptism after Christ, are one and the same seal, though in different forms." "The administration of this seal to infants was once enjoined by divine authority." "The administration of this seal to infants was never prohibited by divine authority." You will then perceive that we have "a divine command for baptizing infants."1 To this statement may be added that of Revelation Dr. Peters. He says:?"When [circumcision] the ancient sign of the covenant which God made with his people for an everlasting covenant, was abolished, another [baptism] was instituted in the same church, under the same covenant, of precisely the same import, and for the same purpose." Such is the platform erected for the support of infant baptism. It abandons the New Testament wholly, and assumes the old Jewish Theocracy as the true form of the gospel church!
1. In the consideration of this argument, so specious to many minds, generally so successful, and therefore advanced with so much confidence, I shall, in the first place, show that it proves immeasurably too much.
Let us, for the sake of the discussion, admit for a moment that it is true, and what are the results? By all. Protestants at least, as soon as its bearings and results are understood, it must be instantly renounced. It is really available for Papists, and for Papists only. But to the demonstration. "Abraham and his seed were divinely constituted a true visible church of God." "The Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are one and the same church in different dispensations." "Jewish circumcision before Christ, and Christian baptism after Christ, are one and the same seal, though in different forms." "They were instituted in the same church, and under the same covenant." "The administration of this seal to infants was once enjoined by divine authority." "The administration of this seal to infants was never prohibited by divine authority." "You will therefore perceive that we have a divine command for baptizing infants." Very well. Now you have infant baptism, and you have it by "divine command!" Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and others are delighted. The argument is satisfactory. They embrace it with eagerness. It is true, every word true. The thought has not occurred that it is dangerous. But we shall see.
An Episcopalian perceives that it will serve his design. The other sects may protest against his use of it, but they cannot hinder it. All have an equal right to its benefits. He assumes as true, and admitted, all the propositions now before you, and then proceeds thus:?In the Jewish church there were three orders in the ministry, each a grade above the other in dignity and authority; the chief priests, the common priests, and the Levites. There are therefore, three orders in the ministry in the Christian church. It is the same church, and under the same covenant. These orders in the ministry of the church were once enjoined by divine authority. They were never prohibited by divine authority. You will therefore perceive that we have a divine command for three orders in the ministry of the Christian church. They are bishops, priests, and deacons, and we have them by divine right and by regular succession from the apostles. Episcopalians are now fully gratified. Their episcopacy can be questioned no longer by any class of Pedobaptists, since the argument for infant baptism and for episcopacy is the same, and you cannot overthrow one without at the same time destroying the other. Here, however, Episcopalians insist that the "analogy" shall cease. But no. The ball has been set in motion, and you must be content to see it roll on. The propositions are admitted, and they carry you resistlessly forward to other results.
A Roman Catholic reminds you that in the Jewish church there was one great high priest, who was the Pastor or Bishop of the whole visible church of God upon earth. In the Christian church therefore, there is one great high priest, who is pastor or bishop of the whole visible church of God upon earth. Although in different dispensations, it is the same church, and under the same covenant. The appointment of this universal Pastor or Bishop was once enjoined by divine authority. It was never prohibited by divine authority. You will therefore perceive that we have a divine command for one great high priest, who is the Pastor or Bishop of the whole visible church of God upon earth. This universal Pastor or Bishop we have, by "regular succession from St. Peter." He is the Pope. His residence is Rome, the See of the Fisherman of Galilee, and the capital of the world, whence "by divine right" he rules the whole visible church of God upon earth. His name at present is PIO NONO.
You have obtained, from the argument before you, infant baptism; but the process by which this has been secured has also forced upon you, first episcopacy, and then Popery! If you take the first you must also take the other two. And what else will you have? You must go still further. You must unite your church with the state, and have a national religion! This would be very convenient. It would give you dignity, and wealth, and power. The Jewish church was a national church, and the Christian church is the same church. Therefore the Christian church must be a national church. The union of church and state was once enjoined by divine authority. It was never prohibited by divine authority. You will therefore perceive that we have a divine command for the union of church and state! The sacrifice of the mass would probably be agreeable, if it only possessed divine authority. It is a very imposing rite. You have the wished-for sanction in the Jewish sacrifices. You want seventy cardinals? The seventy elders who composed the Jewish council will supply you. You are perchance fond of pageantry, and would willingly ornament the persons of your ministry with pontificals. The splendid robes and miters of the Jewish priests, and especially the jeweled breast-plate of the high priest, will satisfy your vanity to the utmost. The Jewish church and the Christian church are the same church. All these were once enjoined by divine authority. None of them were ever prohibited by divine authority. You will therefore perceive that we have a divine command for the union of church and state, for the sacrifice of the mass, for the college of cardinals, and for priestly robes and ornaments.
The argument for the whole paraphernalia of Popery is precisely the same with that for infant baptism. It has the same force and conclusiveness. Infant baptism, episcopacy, Popery, the union of church and state, the mass, cardinals, robes, all, rest upon the same foundation and must stand or fall together. They are predicated not upon the gospel, but upon what our brethren call the analogy of the church, and really upon Judaism. Indeed such is, and has been the influence of Moses upon Christianity, that Pedobaptist churches of all classes, receive their members, and most of them are modeled, and governed, by his law rather than according to the gospel of Christ. Are you a Pedobaptist? To be consistent you must also be a Papist. The same law that requires infant baptism requires a pope, an established religion, and their adjuncts. Do you repudiate these? For the same reason you must also repudiate infant baptism. But renouncing them all, you are forced back upon Baptist ground. You adopt the New Testament as giving the true form of the church of Christ.
2. I, in the second place, remark that this Judaistic argument for infant baptism cannot be maintained, because it is directly in conflict with Christianity as taught by Christ and his apostles.
Essays to commingle Judaism with the gospel commenced immediately after the ascension of our Redeemer. The Judaism then preached was precisely such as our Pedobaptist brethren now claim as legitimate in religion. It did not indeed, include infant baptism, but advocated instead literal circumcision. The discovery that "Jewish circumcision before Christ, and Christian baptism after Christ, is one and the same seal, though in different forms," was not yet made, nor did it come to light until some centuries after. The principle however was the very same. Glance through the history of the first period of the church, as contained in the Acts of the Apostles, and you will find that, as soon as the gentiles began to embrace the religion of Christ, there were instantly among them Christianized Jewish priests, urging upon the converts the absolute necessity of adding to the gospel the doctrines and rites of Moses. They said, in substance, to these disciples, The religion of Christ is true, and necessary, but it is not enough;
"Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1.)
The agitations and proceedings consequent upon this teaching in the church at Antioch in Syria, and subsequently in the council at Jerusalem, with the numerous admonitions regarding them contained in all the epistles, will fully instruct you as to the rise of Judaism in the Christian church, its nature as then taught, and the manner in which it was met and resisted by the apostles. "Certain men that came down from Judea," says Luke, thus "taught the brethren."
"When therefore Paul and. Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question." (Acts 15:1-2.)
We saw in the last chapter an instance of the influence of Judaism among the Corinthians, and the painful perplexity it occasioned regarding domestic and social intercourse. Among the Galatians were those who desired to be under the law, (Galatians 4:21) and they constrained their brethren to be circumcised. (Galatians 6:12-13) Indeed, the epistles evince conclusively, that the churches of the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Colossians, and the others, were constantly excited, and agitated with Judaism. This fact cannot have escaped the attention of any intelligent Christian. Perpetually repeated efforts were made by converted priests, and others, to engraft its forms, and ordinances, upon the gospel of Christ.
How was this subject regarded by the inspired apostles? Did they look upon the matter as of little importance? They taught the churches that it was in conflict with Christianity, and could result only in confusion and disaster. Corresponding with these sentiments were the measures they adopted respecting it. Let us turn to their inspired instructions, and be enlightened. Protesting against the introduction of the doctrines and rites of Judaism, Paul, for example, thus admonishes his brethren. "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth?" "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain, if it be yet in vain? He that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" You wish to conform to the law of Moses that you may be accounted the children of Abraham. Remember that "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." And further. "After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto ye desire to be again in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain." And still further. "They [the Judaizing teachers] zealously affect you, but not well; yea they would exclude you that ye might affect them." "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice, for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" "It is written, Abraham had two sons, the one [Ishmael] by a bond maid, the other [Isaac] by a free woman. But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory; [the two sons were typical] for these are [figures of] the two covenants; the one [that shadowed forth by Ishmael is the covenant] from Mount Sinai [the law] which gendereth to bondage, which is [the son of] Agar." The other, that prefigured by Isaac, is the covenant of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac was by promise; Isaac was free; and "we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise," and like him we are free;
"For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2.)
"What saith the scriptures? Cast out the bond woman and her son [this law of ceremonies and external observances from Sinai], for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman."
"Brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage" "the yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear." (Acts 15:10.)
"Behold I Paul, say unto you that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing." "Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit do wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." "He that troubleth you shall bear his judgment Whosoever he be." "I would that they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." (Galatians 3, 4, 5.)
Once more. In Christ "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him which is the head of all principality and power; in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, [purified in heart by the Spirit] in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." (Colossians 2:9-17.)
In this manner did the apostles meet, and resist Judaism in the church of Christ. If any conclusion can be drawn from their language which is beyond question correct, it certainly is that they regarded its introduction as in conflict with Christianity, and portending destructive consequences. Judaism was thus suppressed for the time, but it was not cast out. As some of the Canaanites were left in Israel, so Judaism remained in the church, to try the faith of the people of God. Nor did it lie inactive, but as time passed, and piety waned, it gained strength; and at the present hour, though slightly changed in form from what it was originally, it has, as we have already seen, with all the sects, more influence in their ecclesiastical polity, and their administration of ordinances, than has even the gospel itself of the grace of God.
We have thus seen how Judaism is embodied in the argument before us, by which infant baptism is sustained and defended. We have seen how it arose in the church, how deleterious was its influence, and how it was met and resisted by the apostles. And are we after all, to be told that it is legitimate and scriptural? Are we now to hear it defended by grave and learned divines? That very corruption once so warmly deprecated by Paul, and James, and Peter, and John, and the others, as so insufferable that they spoke of cutting off those who troubled the churches with it, is it now to be assumed as granted, and made the foundation for infant baptism? No, we cannot. We will not. We repudiate it. We protest against it. We denounce it as condemned by the word of God, in conflict with Christianity, and an offense to our adorable Redeemer.
3. This argument for infant baptism, in the third place, fails entirely, because it perverts, and renders wholly unintelligible, the true scriptural analogy of the church.
Pedobaptists call the argument for infant baptism, which we are now combating, analogy; but it is in truth identity, and not analogy, since they claim that the Jewish church and the Christian church are the same church, and that, although in different dispensations, they subsist under the same covenant. This is unquestionably sameness, as distinguished from similitude and diversity. This is identity. And what is analogy? If Webster be authority for words, it is "an agreement or likeness between things in some circumstances and effects, when the things are otherwise entirely different." A correspondence between the churches, of this character undoubtedly exists. But the identity claimed and advocated, and which is necessary to include and defend infant baptism, while, as we have fully seen, it also includes and defends popery in all its absurd extremes, is condemned and denounced by the apostles. There is a beautiful analogy; but the identity assumed is nothing more nor less than naked Judaism. Trace with me if you please, briefly, the true analogy between the Jewish church and the Christian church.
The relations between them are, I remark, precisely those subsisting between a figure and the thing signified, or a shadow and its substance. The Jewish church was a figure, a shadow, a type of the Christian church. No one with this proposition distinctly in mind, can read carefully the epistle to the Hebrews, and then seriously doubt its truth. To state this important fact, to establish it, and to illustrate its various bearings, much space, and carefulness, are employed in this admirable epistle. Indeed it seems to have been one of its main designs. The Hebrews were naturally more prone than others to Judaism, and to fall consequently into the error which supposes that "the Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are one and the same church in different dispensations." Paul therefore instructs them that the people, the sacrifices, the priesthood, the temple, and all the ordinances and forms of the Jewish worship, were "figures for the time then present," and were ordained and instituted as "types of better things," "until the times of reformation," in other words, until the coming of Christ. "The holy places made with hands were the figures of the true" holy places. (Hebrews 9:9, 10, 11-23, 24.) All the parts of the Jewish church and worship were figures of the Christian church and worship. What is true of all the parts, is true of the whole. The whole Jewish church therefore was a figure or type of the Christian church. This, as set forth in the word of God itself, is the true and exact analogy between the Jewish church and the Christian church.
The rules in Hermeneutics by which these correspondences are governed, are obvious and definite. They are as follows. "No external institution or fact in the Old Testament is a type of an external institution or fact in the New Testament. External institutions and facts in the Old Testament are invariably types of internal and spiritual institutions and facts in the New Testament." These rules are, I am happy to say, recognized as legitimate by the learned among Pedobaptists themselves. Turrettine, for example, the distinguished successor of Calvin, referring to doctrines of Cardinal Bellarmine, says:?For what Bellarmine sets forth, that these [Jewish rites] were not so much sacraments as types of sacraments is absurd, inasmuch as a sacrament is an external thing, and whatever is a type of any internal or spiritual thing has no need of any other type by which it may be represented. Two types may indeed be given similar and corresponding to each other of one and the same truth, and so far the ancient sacraments were similar to ours;" "but one type cannot be shadowed forth by another type," since "both are brought forward to represent one truth. So circumcision shadowed forth not baptism, but the grace of regeneration; and the passover represented not the Lord?s supper, but Christ set forth in the supper."2
With these fixed principles of exposition before us, we will pursue, in order that the subject may be rendered if possible still more plain and certain, "the analogy of the church" somewhat more in detail.
Abraham, the great type of Messiah, was the head of the Jewish covenant and church; Messiah himself is the head of the Christian covenant and church. The natural seed of Abraham were entitled by virtue of their carnal relationship to him as their father, to membership in the Jewish church, and to all the ordinances, rights, and immunities of that church; the spiritual seed of Abraham by virtue of their holy relationship to Jesus Christ as their father, are entitled to membership in the Christian church, and to all the ordinances, rights, and immunities of that church. The natural seed of Abraham in right of their father inherited the earthly Canaan; the spiritual seed in right of their father Jesus Christ, inherit the Canaan above. In the Jewish church sacrifices were literal. They were all types, and pointed to the great sacrifice in the person of Christ, to be in the fullness of time offered by him upon the cross. In the Christian church sacrifices are spiritual.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart." (Psalm 51:17.)
In the Jewish church offerings were presented to God in behalf of the people by priests only; in the Christian church all the people are priests, and through Jesus Christ, present to God their own offerings; for "ye are built up [not a literal house, as was the temple, but] a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5.)
Every believer offers anew daily, the one infinitely glorious satisfaction of the Redeemer, by the power of which "he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." In the Jewish church the high priest entered once a year into the most holy place, "made with hands," "not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people;" "which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices which could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience." In the Christian church "Christ being come a high priest of good things to come by [the ministry of] a greater and more perfect tabernacle, [than that upon earth] neither by the blood of goats and of calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the [true] most holy place, [heaven itself] having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth [in the Jewish church] to the [ceremonial] purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ [the infinite sacrifice, and who is also the great and only high priest in the Christian church] who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your consciences [spiritually, and truly] from dead works to serve the living God?" "It was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [priestly services of the Jewish church] but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us," our adorable Intercessor, and Advocate. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
These are the teachings of the word of God. They demonstrate that the alleged analogy does not exist, but on the contrary is the very essence of Judaism. The figure and the thing signified by it, cannot be one. The type and the reality are not identical. The shadow and the substance are never the same thing. The Jewish church and the Christian church are not therefore the same church. But the Jewish church, with its institutions and facts, were external and literal, and were types or figures of the Christian church, which with its institutions and facts, are internal and spiritual.
That this is the doctrine of Paul it is impossible to doubt. So also are we instructed by the "rules of interpretation" before recited.: No external institution or fact in the Old Testament is a type of an external institution or fact, but always of internal and spiritual institutions and facts, in the New Testament. The whole subject of analogy is thus perfectly plain. The Jewish church, the type, was external, and composed of all the natural seed of Abraham; the Christian church, the reality, must therefore be internal, and composed of all the spiritual seed.: No one was permitted to enter the Jewish?the external typical?church, who was not, either by natural birth, or as a proselyte, already among the covenant people. The analogy therefore requires that no one be permitted to enter the Christian?the true spiritual church?who is not, by the new birth, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, already among the true covenant people of God. A correspondence exists in several respects between circumcision and baptism. By circumcision the natural seed were recognized as the children of Abraham, and received as members of the Jewish church; by baptism the spiritual seed are recognized as believers in Christ, and received as members of the Christian church. Circumcision was instituted expressly for literal infants,3 and it was commanded to be administered to them soon after they were born; baptism was instituted expressly for spiritual infants?believers in Christ?and it is commanded to be administered to them as soon, as they are born again. Circumcision was an essential preliminary to the passover; baptism is an essential preliminary to the Lord?s supper. All this is clear, but our Pedobaptist brethren pervert the whole subject, and cover it with confusion, by supposing that because Abraham?s natural seed was circumcised, that therefore the natural seed of Christians should be baptized! How infinitely unworthy as you at once see, is this conclusion! It is unreasonable, evidently forced, and contradictory of the true "analogy of the church."
The Pedobaptist doctrine is in fact, a misnomer; it is not analogy, but Judaism. It is confused, it is unintelligible. The true evangelical analogy is clear, reasonable, and scriptural. Nor does it even intimate infant baptism; but on the contrary teaches such great truths and principles, as are wholly inconsistent with the practice, and as indeed, must ever forbid the baptism of infants.
4. This Pedobaptist argument, I remark in the last place, is palpably anti - scriptural.
It maintains that the Jewish church and the Christian church are the same church, in different dispensations; or in the language of Dr. Peters: "When [circumcision] the ancient sign and seal of the covenant which God made with his people for an everlasting covenant was abolished, another ordinance [baptism] was instituted in the same church, under the same covenant, of precisely the same import, and for the same purpose."
The Jewish church and the Christian church, the same church! If so, then the only Christian church now existing, is as we have seen, the Roman Catholic! It is not the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Congregational the Methodist, nor any other Protestant church, since Judaized as all these are, they fall far short of the Jewish church. Only the Catholic is a tolerable copy of the original. But if they were the same church, why did Christ deny it, when he told the Jews that his was a church unlike theirs, and into which none could enter by virtue of carnal relationship to Abraham, or to any other good men, but only by repentance of sin, and faith in him? Why did Messiah deny it on another occasion, when he said: "The law and the prophets [the Jewish church] continued until John, since whom the kingdom of heaven [the Christian church] is preached, and all men press into it?" Why did Paul deny the identity of the Jewish and Christian churches by comparing the former to Hagar and her posterity, and the latter to Sarah and hers? Why did Nicodemus, and Paul, and the rest, trouble themselves about the Christian church? They were already members, and officers of the Jewish church, and that was the same church! Strange infatuation! How surprising that any man with the Bible before him should fall into an error so palpable! This however, has already been sufficiently elaborated.
But we are told that the Jewish church and the Christian church subsisted under the same covenant! Were this true, then there would be no distinction between the law and the gospel. They would be the same in every correct sense. Very different from this, however, are the teachings of the word of God. Abraham, as any one may see who will be at the trouble of examining the Bible on the subject, was concerned in two covenants, which were made at different times, and related to distinct things. The former had regard to Christ; the latter to his natural posterity; the one was called the covenant of grace; the other the covenant of circumcision. The original promise in respect to the covenant of grace, was made to Abraham when he was seventy-five years old, in these words:
"In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:3)
This promise was afterwards renewed, and ratified with an oath:
"By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord"?"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 22:16-18.)
This Paul declares to have been the covenant of grace in Jesus Christ. He says:
"God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it with an oath, that by two immutable things [the oath and the promise] in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to the hope set before us." (Hebrews 6:17-20.)
The promises of this covenant, Paul teaches you, constituted the gospel, in relation to which he says:?"The scripture foreseeing that God would justify [not the Jews only, but also] the heathen through faith, preached before, the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thy seed [Christ] shall all nations be blessed." It is proper to say in passing, that the gospel covenant now described was not really made with Abraham, but in the language of an apostle, was "confirmed to Abraham of God in Christ." It was therefore previously made. The same covenant was announced to Adam in Eden, immediately after the fall, in a promise the language of which strikingly resembles that to Abraham, and which was repeated to Isaac, to Jacob, and to David:?"The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent?s head." The nature of this covenant was indicated to our first parents, by the institution of sacrifices, pointing to the great atonement afterwards to be accomplished for man, in the blood of Messiah. Who, I now ask, were the parties to this covenant for the redemption and salvation of men? Were they God and Abraham? No more than they were God and Adam, or God and David. They were God the Father, and God the Son; the latter of whom "took on him" for the purpose of our redemption, "not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham;" and in relation to this event it was that the promise was given, to "the Father of the faithful," which promise Pedobaptists have so generally, and unhappily mistaken for the covenant itself! So much for the covenant of grace.
The covenant of circumcision, received this name because of the peculiar ordinance attached to it. This covenant was made, in the true sense of that word, with Abraham, twenty-four years after the promise above referred to, and when he was ninety-nine years old, for himself, and for all. his natural seed. In it nothing whatever is said regarding Messiah. It stipulated, in the first place, that his descendants should be numerous, prosperous, and happy; in the second place, that they should possess a specified territory; and in the third place, that so long as they observed the laws of God, he would surround them with security and happiness. This covenant, as is acknowledged, received its organized development at Sinai, and was consequently really and truly identical with that "covenant which God made with Israel, when he took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt." The Mosaic law was the formal exhibition, the possession of Canaan was the practical fulfillment, and the national religion of the Hebrews was the visible presentation, of the covenant of circumcision.
Thus it is seen that there were two covenants, distinct from each other, of different dates, designed for different purposes, and dissimilar in their characters. Accordingly the apostles speak familiarly of "the covenants;" of "the old covenant;" of "the new covenant;" and these "covenants" they everywhere represent, consider, and contrast, as separate and distinct from each other. Paul, employing the language of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34.) thus speaks in relation to this important topic:
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt."
And "in that he saith ?a new covenant,? he hath made the first old." (Hebrews 8:8-12.) There are therefore two covenants; the one the covenant of the law, the organized development of the Jeremiah covenant of circumcision made with Abraham, which is "the old covenant;" the other the covenant of the gospel, the covenant between God the Father and the Son, the promise of which was announced to Abraham, which is "the new covenant." The covenant of the law constituted the dispensation of Moses, and was the covenant of the Jewish church; the covenant of the gospel is the covenant of grace and redemption, the covenant of the Christian church. The covenant of the law had circumcision annexed; the covenant of grace, in Christ Jesus, which was not visibly administered until after the law, or old covenant, had passed away, has baptism annexed. And yet Pedobaptists declare in the face of all these facts, that the Jewish and the Christian are the same church, and subsist under the same covenant! Never was there a conclusion more palpably antiscriptural.
Pedobaptists also declare that circumcision and baptism "were instituted in the same church, under the same covenant;" that they are "of the same import, and for the same purpose." But the declarations of our Lord Jesus Christ on the subject contradict them in every particular. He asserts distinctly, that circumcision belonged to the law of Moses, and was identified with the covenant of Sinai. It never was therefore of the gospel, since the gospel covenant is "not according to," or like "the covenant" of Sinai. To the Jews the Savior said:
"Moses gave you circumcision." And again. "A man on the sabbath day received circumcision that the law of Moses be not broken." (John 7:22, 23.)
Did Moses give them circumcision? Then circumcision was a part of his ceremonial law. Is it objected that the rite was in existence before Moses? Sacrifices were also in existence before Moses. Circumcision may therefore be said to have belonged to his law, as properly as sacrifices may be said to have belonged to his law. Or if it is still insisted that circumcision belonged to the gospel, and was succeeded by baptism; with the same truth may it be asserted that the offering of slain beasts in sacrifice belonged to the gospel and is now succeeded by the sacrifice of the mass. Circumcision and baptism are both types; but they are not the same type indifferent forms, since circumcision according to Paul, was a type of regeneration by the Spirit, and baptism, as John avers, is a representation, or type, of the burial and resurrection of Christ? (1 John 5:8.) And since circumcision and baptism are both types, the former is not a type of the latter, because one type cannot be a type of another type. Nor can one type ever be substituted for another type. Baptism, therefore, cannot take the place of circumcision. They are distinct things, and must ever so remain. The claim of Pedobaptists that circumcision "was instituted in the same church, under the same covenant, and for the same purpose," with baptism, that is, in the gospel church, amounts to the declaration that the gospel church is in fact, built upon the law of Moses! We have now seen that the Jewish church and the Christian church are not the same church in different dispensations, that they are not under the same covenant, that baptism does not come in the place of circumcision, and that the Pedo-baptist argument that maintains the opposite of our conclusions, is palpably antiscriptural.
I have been necessarily somewhat prolix in this discussion, but I could not in a narrower compass present the subject clearly and intelligibly. I have shown conclusively how for the support of infant baptism Judaism is engrafted upon the gospel of Christ. It has been seen that the argument, by which this great evil is perpetrated, proves vastly too much, and leads directly into all the extremes of popery; that it is in conflict with Christianity as taught by Christ and his apostles, who deprecated Judaism as destructive of true religion; that it perverts and renders unintelligible the true analogy between the Jewish church and the Christian church, and which I have explained at some length, showing that it does not intimate the legitimacy of infant baptism, but teaches such doctrines as necessarily forbid it; and that it is utterly antiscriptural, confounding the law and the gospel, and leading men into confusion and error. Judaism in the gospel church is what Hagar and Ishmael were in the family of Abraham, a shame, and an offense. "Therefore cast out the bond woman and her son." Sever the chains by which the bride of Messiah is manacled, and bound to the chariot of Sinai. Be it ours to contemplate the church of the Redeemer, not under the clouds of Judaism in which infant baptism has involved it, not obscured among the shadows of a former dispensation, but as developed in the gospel, distinct, spiritual, sanctified, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. In conclusion, I will only observe that by how much the gospel is thus corrupted, rendered difficult of comprehension, its forms changed, and its benevolent designs rendered inoperative, by so much is infant baptism, to which all this may be justly ascribed, a lamentable, a most melancholy evil.
Maccalla in Debate with Rev. A. Campbell, pp. 55-56.
2 Opera., tom. 4, p. 342
3 With the exception of servants purchased with money.
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