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were " cut off from the people ;' by Here the general term “Israel” is to which, I apprehend, is not meant be understood, as in many other sudden death, but a deprivation of the places, as signifying the whole of peculiar advantages promised and God's ancient people included in provided for in that engagement. In the Jewish church. But who, in Deut. xxix. 10–13, it is said, “ Ye particular, is included in this genestand this day all of you before the ral term? Men, women, and chilLord your God; your Captains of dren. Children, therefore, formed your tribes, your Elders, and your a part of the church. In the last officers, with all the men of Israel, charge which Moses gave to Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy he said unto them, “Set your hearts stranger that is in thy camp, from unto all the words which I testify the hewer of thy wood unto the among you this day, which ye shall drawer of thy water : that thou command your children to observe shouldest enter into covenant with to do, all the words of this law. the Lord thy God, and into his For it is not a vain thing for you: oath, which the Lord thy God mak. because it is your life: and through eth with thee this day: that he may this thing ye shall prolong your establish thee to-day for a people days in the land whither ye go over unto himself, and that he may be Jordan to possess it.” (Deut. xxxii. unto thee a God, as he hath said 46, 47.) unto thee, and as he hath sworn Why was Moses so deeply conunto thy fathers, to Abraham, to cerned that the “ children” should Isaac, and to Jacob.” Here the “ observe and do all the words of “ little ones” are distinctly men this law ?” First, that they might tioned and acknowledged as one of act worthy of the church-privileges the parties entering into the cove and advantages which they posnant. Their continued enjoyment sessed; and, secondly, that they of the privileges and blessings of might secure the continued enjoythat compact in mature life depend- ment of the blessing of God by ed upon their individual obedience: living in the constant observance of in the mean time, and while yet that law which, as members of the children, they were recognised as a church, they were bound to obey. part of the visible church, and From these passages we are led to viewed by God himself as such, in the conclusion, that children formed consequence of their having received a part of the visible church among the sign and seal of circumcision. the Jews. (Rom. iv. 11.)
Baptism in the Christian church Again : “And Moses commanded succeeds to circumcision in the them, saying, At the end of every Jewish : it is the initiatory rite by seven years, in the solemnity of the which members are formally introyear of release in the feast of taber- duced into that ballowed community: nacles, when all Israel is come to “The actual privileges of baptized appear before the Lord thy God in persons are these : they are made the place which he shall choose, members of the visible church of thou shalt read this law before all Christ; their gracious relation to Israel in their hearing. Gather the him as the Second Adam, and as people together, men, and women, the Mediator of the new covenant, and children, and thy stranger that is solemnly ratified by divine apis within thy gates, that they may pointment; and they are thereby hear, and that they may learn, and recognised as having a claim to all fear the Lord your God, and ob- those spiritual blessings, of which serve to do all the words of this they are the proper subjects.” (Weslaw: and that their children, which leyan Catechism.) have not known any thing, may These views are established by hear, and learn to fear the Lord Scripture : “But Jesus said, Suffer your God, as long as ye live in the little children, and forbid them not land whither ye go over Jordan to to come unto me : for of such is the possess it.” (Deut. xxxi. 10–13.) kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. xix.
14.) “Little children, either in a refer to the children? The follow. natural or spiritual sense, have a ing passage from Matthew Henry right to enter into my kingdom.” furnishes an answer, at once correct (Wesley.) “The church of God on and satisfactory: “Your children earth, and his kingdom in heaven, shall still have, as they have had, is composed of persons who resem. an interest in the covenant, and a ble little children in their disposi- title to the external seal of it
. tions; and children, even in a natu Come over to Christ, to receive ral sense, have a right to be admit- those inestimable benefits; for the ted into his kingdom, the Gospel promise of the remission of sins, authorizing the Ministers of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost, is to admit the children of believing to you and your children. It was parents into his church by bap- very express, ‘I will pour my Spirit tism." (Benson.) ««• The king- upon thy seed.' (Isai. xliv. 3.) And, dom of heaven is composed of 'My Spirit and my word shall not such.' This appears to be the best depart from thy seed, and thy seed's sense of the passage, and utterly seed.' (Isai. lix. 21.) When God ruins the whole inhuman, diabolic took Abraham into covenant, he system of what is called 'non-elect said, 'I will be a God to thee and infants' damnation ;' doctrine to thy seed;' (Gen. xvii. 7 ;) and, which must have sprung from Mo. accordingly, every Israelite had his Joch, and can only be defended by a son circumcised at eight days old. heart in which he dwells. A great Now it is proper for an Israelite, part of God's kingdom is composed when he is by baptism to come into of such literally; and those only a new dispensation of this covenant, who resemble little children shall be to ask, “What must be done with received into it.” (Dr. Clarke.) my children? Must they he “ The children of believing parents thrown out or taken in with me?' belong to the kingdom of heaven, “Taken in,' says Peter, by all and are members of the visible means; for the promise, that great church. Of such-not only of such promise, of God's being to you a in disposition and affection, (that God, is as much to you and to your might have served for a reason why children now as ever it was.”” doves or lambs should be brought In 1 Cor. vii. 14, the Apostle Paul to him,) but of such in age-is the says, " For the unbelieving husband kingdom of heaven; to ihem per- is sanctified by the wife ;” that is, tain the privileges of church-mem so far that their matrimonial conbership, as among the Jews of old." verse is as lawful, holy, and honour(Henry.)
able as if they were both of the Fully concurring in these views, I same faith. “Else were your chilwill only add, that, being once dren unclean," and must be looked adınitted, our children and youth upon as unfit to be admitted to should be treated as members of the those peculiar ordinances by which church, until they either voluntarily the seed of God's people are distin. withdraw from, or render them. guished; "but now are they holy," selves unworthy of a place in it. confessedly; and are
as readily And for the cultivation of their admitted to baptism as if both the piety, the increase of their know parents were Christians : so that the ledge, and the establishment of their
case, you see, is in effect decided religious principles and character, by this prevailing practice. And we ought to make as large and though one of the parents be still a effectual provision, as for adults; Heathen, yet is the denomination to yea, if possible, more so.
be taken from the better, and so Again : Peter said, “ For the pro their offspring are to be esteemed, mise is unto you, and to your chil not as Heathens, that is, unclean ; dren, and to all that are afar off
, but holy, as all Christians by denoeven as many as the Lord our God mination are.
Hence, then, the shall call.” (Acts ii. 39.) The ques. argument for infant baptism runs tion may be asked, Why did Peter thus: “If the holy seed among the
Jews was therefore to be circum way of speaking is according to the cised, and be made federally holy, dialect of the Jews ; among whom a by receiving the sign of the cove child begot by parents yet Heanant, and being admitted into the thens, was said to be begotten out number of God's holy people, be of holiness ; and a child begotten cause they were born in sanctity: by parents made proselytes, is said then, by like reason, the holy seed to be begotten within the holy of Christians ought to be admitted enclosure. Thus Christians com. to baptism, and receive the sign of monly are called 'saints ;' such the Christian covenant, the laver of they are by profession, separated to regeneration, and so be entered into be a peculiar people of God, and, as the society of the Christian church.” such, distinguished from the world ; (Benson.)
and therefore the children born to “ The unbelieving husband is Christians, though married to un. sanctified by the wife," or, rather believers, are not to be reckoned is to be reputed as sanctified on as part of the world, but of the account of his wife ; she being a church, a holy, not a common and Christian woman, and he, though a unclean, seed." (Henry.) Heathen, being by marriage one My apology for dwelling thus flesh with her : her sanctity, as far largely on this point, and quoting as it refers to outward things, may these authorities, is, that I have a be considered as imputed to him so deep impression that this subject as to render their connexion not either is not correctly understood, unlawful. The word “sanctification” or is not duly considered, by many here is to be applied much more to of our religious community. Let the Christian state than to any me ask, What is done for great moral change in the persons; for numbers of our youth, as to pre"saints” is a common term for Chris- paring them to occupy a place in tians—those who were baptized into the church, or leading them to love the faith of Christ; and as its cor that church, and to esteem a union responding Hebrew term Redoshim with it a privilege ?
How many signified all the Jews who were in admit the truth, that our youth the covenant of God by circumci- ought actually to be a part of the sion, the Heathens in question were church of God, and deal with them, considered to be in this holy state in the way of instruction and trainby means of their connexion with ing, 80 as to fit them for the place those who were, by their Christian they ought to fill? profession, saints.
Mr. Wesley was not professedly “ If this kind of relative sanctifi- engaged in forming a church," cation were not allowed, the chil- but a “society," when he drew up dren of these persons could not be the "Rules of the Society of the received into the Christian church, People called Methodists ;” and nor enjoy any rights or privileges as hence he very properly laid down Christians; but the church of God “only one condition as previously never scrupled to admit such chil- required in those who sought addren as members, just as well as she mission into this society; namely, did those who had sprung from a desire to flee from the wrath to parents both of whom were Chris come ; to be saved from their sins."" tians.” (Dr. Clarke.)
The application of this rule has, it is “• Else were your children un feared, given rise to errors in opiclean ; but now are they holy;' nion and practice in reference to our that is, they would be Heathen, out youth. Where the desire above of the pale of the church and cove mentioned has not been professed, nant of God. They would not be we have not, at least not generally, of the holy seed, (as the Jews are sought to secure a visible union called, Isai. vi. 13,) but common and with the church for our children; unclean, in the same sense as Hea- and, in consequence, their religious thens in general were styled in the interests have often been neglected Apostle's vision. (Acts x. 28.) This and injured. By pursuing this
course we have narrowed the church
masters. The persons thus distinct. in a way injurious to its welfare and ively addressed, are all included in enlargement, and contrary to the the general terms previously eminjunction of her Divine Head, ployed ; and children, it will be perwho, addressing Peter, said, “Feed ceived, occupied, in the mind and my lambs.” And surely the lambs writings of the Apostle, a proought to be with the "sheep,” liv. minent and important position, and ing among them, and lying down with were considered as part of the them in the green pastures” of the church. It appears, therefore, both ordinances and means of grace. In from fair inference as well as from accordance with this view, it will be the express language of Scripture, found, that when Lydia was bap- that the children of professing tized, 80 also was her "house. Christians ought to be viewed as a hold.” When the jailer was bap- part of the visible church, and tized, so were “all his," "all his treated accordingly, and, consehouse.” The Apostle also baptized quently, some provision, adapted to “ the household of Stephanus." their case, should be made for their Now, no candid mind, unless there instruction in righteousness, and is a theory to support, will deny placing them directly under suitable that these terms imply that youth of pastoral care. various ages must have been found It
may be asked, In what character in these families, and that they were should youth, forming a part of the admitted into the visible church as church as above stated, be viewed; members thereof. The Apostles, and in what position should they being Jews originally, were well stand ? I answer, in the character acquainted with the instructions and of catechumens; and as junior requirements of the Mosaic law in branches of the family. As such, reference to the youthful part of the they would require careful instrucchurch of their forefathers. Those tion, much forbearance and kind. instructions were as follows:--"And ness. The children of our respecte these words which I command thee ive households bear the family likethis day shall be in thine heart. ness, and, by constant intercourse, And thou shalt teach them dili. they imbibe the same views, embrace gently unto thy children, and shalt the same opinions, assume the same talk of them when thou sittest in character, and cherish the same thine house, and when thou walkest affection, as far as the family is conby the way, and when thou liest cerned. Now, take a child away down, and when thou risest up." from his own domestic circle, and (Deut. vi. 6, 7.). These instructions let him be brought up in another; they would endeavour to carry out as a general rule, it will be found personally, or by proxy, as to their that he will acquire the character religious and moral tendency, in the of the society in which he is reared, Christian, as had been already ac and lose that of the family in which complished in the Jewish, commu he was born; while affection for his nity. How this duty was performed natural relations will be almost exin one instance, we learn from the tinguished. The same rule, I con. Apostle Paul : “And that from a tend, will, to a great extent, apply child thou hast known the holy to the youth who ought to be memScriptures.” (2 Tim. iii. 15.)
bers of our church. We have not In writing to the Ephesians the given them a standing amongst us; same Apostle gives direction to va they are not on the church-roll; rious descriptions of persons in the our Ministers do not generally exchurch suited to their relative posi-ercise direct pastoral care over them, tion. He addresses the entire body as In fact, as a body of youth, baptized “saints,”. “faithful brethren,” and by ourselves, and the children “dear children :" then, descending of our members, they have no place to particular classes, he gives rules amongst us. We do not allow them of conduct for wives and husbands, to be brought up in the family, we children and parents, servants and shut them out; and thus compel
them to be reared in another; and the Spirit, and forfeit the grace that
are men brought into the church? establish union, and an increase of because they are already perfect in affection, there must be intercourse, knowledge, wisdom, and holiness ? there must be fellowship.
The reverse is the state of the case. It has been received by some as a The church was instituted for the rule, that none, not even our youth, benefit of the ignorant, the sick, ought to be admitted into the Me- and the poor ; that they might be thodist society in any character till made wise unto salvation, that the they are either professedly “awak- sin-sick soul might be healed, and ened” or converted ;” and, as that the riches of grace might be this may be urged as an objection communicated. Such being the to any alteration or additional pro condition of our youth, they are the vision, it may be proper to notice it. very persons who ought to be
First, then, I would remark, that brought into connexion with the children, reared in religious families, church, and placed under that where family-prayer is regularly mode of treatment which, by the performed, the Sabbath duly ob- blessing of God, might lead to the served, the ministry of the Gospel happy results we have just enumepunctually attended, and religious rated. We have divine warrant for instruction statedly communicated, this assertion : “ Train up a child are generally, at an early period of in the way he should go, and when life, the subjects of enlightening he is old he will not depart from it.” and restraining grace.
The testi. (Prov. xxii. 6.) “Cast thy bread mony of those who have been upon the waters; for thou shalt brought to the enjoyment of reli- find it after many days.” (Eccles. gion on this head is so general and xi. 1.) Sow thy seed liberally; it decided, that its truth cannot be shall produce an abundant harvest. questioned. But many have not “Therefore, my beloved brethren, had courage to disclose the work. be ye steadfast, unmovable, always ings of their own minds, and of the abounding in the work of the Lord, Spirit of God; and hence, though forasmuch as ye know that your they were really the subjects of di- labour is not in vain in the Lord.” vine influence, to a great extent, (1 Cor. xv. 58.) their parents, and those around Having, it is hoped, proved that them, were in ignorance of it. I all our children who have been bapmeet the above objection by obsery- tized ought to be received and ing, in the first place, that I believe treated as in intimate connexion with the great mass of our youth are the church, and that we cannot ordinarily brought under that spi- labour in vain for their spiritual ritual influence which, according to benefit; we may proceed to consithe above rule, ought to secure for der the question, What may be done them a place amongst us. The cir. to meet their case, in order that cumstances to be regretted are, that suitable provision might be made too generally we remain ignorant of for them? the fact, consequently are unable to To this question we reply : The cherish it; and as they rise into life, adult members of our church meet and mix with the world, they grieve in class : let all our youth be met in