Page images
PDF
EPUB

pressly promised to Abraham, to be the God of his feed, which he applies to an infant eight days old, Gen. xvii. 7. 12. We add as that Christ permitted little children to come to him, laid his hands upon them, and declared that of such was the kingdom of heaven, Mat. xvi. 13-15. But whom Matthew calls Faidos, little children, Luke, chap. xviii. 15. calls Bgéqñ, infants ; which word, according to Eustathius properly signifies a new born child at the breast. Hence also Peter says, ws ågtry:venta Brean, as new-born babes, i Pet. ii. 2. And here it appears we are, by all ineans, to keep to the propriety of the terms, both in the noun βρεφος, and the verb προσφέρεις; when it is faid, προσεφερον évvõteeßelon, and they brought unto him also infants, they appear to have been carried in arms. It is therefore evident, that to infants are also made the promises of grace and falvation. • XLIV. Let the fourth argument stand thus: It is unjustifiable to exclude from baptism, those who are made partakers of the Holy Spirit: for, thus Peter, Acts x. 47. “ Can any man forbid water, that thefe should not be baptised, which have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we?" True, indeed it is, that the Holy Spirit discovered himself in those, of whom Peter there speaks, by some extraordinary gifts, which of themselves were not saving : yet the principal argument for the right to baptism cannot be drawn from hence. The apostle therefore considers those extraordinary gifts, as the effects of the sanctifying Spirit, bestowed on all the elect; and as special indications of the divine bounty towards them: whereby the truth of the gospel was sealed in them, and the sincerity of their faith adorned : compare Gal. iii. 2. and thence, as from the thing signified, he argues to the participation of the sign. We moreover subfume: even the children of believers have received the Holy Spirit : for otherwise they could neither be holy, which yet Paul declares them to be, 'I Cor. vii. 14. nor be Christ's, to whom none belongs, who has not his Spirit, Rom. viii. 9. nor see the kingdom of heaven, to which none is admitted, but he who is born of water and of the Spirit, John iii. 5. Whence it follows, that water cannot be forbid, that infants should not be baptised.

XLV. Fifthly, They who belong to the church of God, have a right to baptism. The reason is, because baptism is the sign of association with, and seal of initiation into the church, Acts ii. 41. “they were baptised; and the same day there were added, namely to the church, about three thousand fouls.” And then it is represented as the privilege of the whole church, that she is « cleansed by Christ with the washing of water, by the word,” Eph. v. 26. But that infants belong to the church, Yol. II. 3 K .

appears

those extraordin from hencegument for the chemselves

appears from this, that when God commanded his church to be gathered together, he did not suffer their « little ones, and those that sucked the breasts to be absent,” Deut. xxix. 10, 11. Joel ji. 16. and protests that “they were born unto him," Ezek, xvi. 20.

XVI. Sixthly, We argue from this, that baptism has succeeded in the room of circumcision. The apostle'declares this, Col. ii. 11, 12. where he proves the abrogation of the ceremonial law, and especially of circumcision with respect to believers of the New Testament, from this consideration, that the spiritual thing formerly fignified and sealed by circumcision, is now fignified and sealed by baptism; intimating, that what circumcision was to the Old Testament-church, the same now is baptism to the New, and indeed in a far more eminent and perfect manner, because baptism is an introduction at once into the liberty and grace of the New Testament, whereas circumcision contained the profession of a bondage and yoke. But it is evident, that circumcision was administered to infants ; it therefore follows, that we are to have the same sentiment concerning baptism. And indeed nothing can be advanced against the baptism of infants, which may not equally militate against their circumcision,

XLVII. Here certainly appears the extraordinary love of our God, in that as soon as we are born, and just as we come from our mother, he hath commanded us to be folemnly brought from her bofom, as it were into his own arms, that he should bestow upon us, in the very cradle, the tokens of our dignity and future kingdom; that he should put that song in our mouth, “thou didst make me hope, when I was upon my mother's breast : I was call upon thee from the womb: thou art iny God from my mother's belly," Pfal. xxii. 9, 10. that, in a word, he should join us to himself in the most solemn covenant from our most tender years : the remembrance of which, as it is glorious and full of consolation to us, so in like manner it tends to promote Christian virtues, and the strictest holiness, through the whole course of our lives.

XLVIII. Nothing ought to be dearer to us than to keep facred and inviolable that covenant of our youth, that first and most solemı engagement, that was made to God in our name. Nor is it any objection, that we were first bound in that covenant without our knowledge. For, no adult person, when he is informed of the excellency of that holy facrament, which was beslowed in infancy, can be offended, that, according to the will of God, he was devoted so early by his pious parents to the supreme licing; unless, at the same time, he is resolved

to renounce entirely the name of a Christian, and all his hopes of eternal falvation.

XLIX. It cannot also fail to be very delightful to godly parents, to present to God and his Christ, their deareit pledges just began to enjoy the light, and consecrated in the water of the mystical font, or as Dionysius the Pfeudareopagite elegantly exprefied it, in the divine symbols of a divine birth, and recommended to the grace of God by the prayer of the whole church. Let this be the first care of their piety. Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. 40, in fanēlum baptisina, speaks as follows: “ haft thou a child? give not time to vice to gain upon him: let him be sanctified from a child, and consecrated to the Spirit from his tender years.” And certainly, if no other benefit accrued from infant-baptism, every prydent person will own it to be very great, that it lays the most inviolable necessity on parents, carefully to train up their children, which they have so early devoted to God, in the mysteries of the Christian religion, and the practice of true piety, both by instruction, admonition and good example. They incur the guilt of an impious robber or thief, as Bucer has gravely observed, de Regno Christi, Lib. 2. c. 9. “ who are not at the greatest pains to bring up and form those they have confecrated by baptism, to the Lord Christ, to the obedience of Christ. For, by this neglect, as much as in them lies, they again rob God of the children they gave up to him, betray and enflave them to the devil.” See what we have more fully written on Infant-baptism in a particular dissertation.

L. And therefore it was a very laudable practice of the Bohemian brethren, who were wont to present their children at about twelve years old, in the church to the pastor, in order to make a public profession of their faith, and to shew, whether the parents had done their duty in instructing them, to which they had bound themselves at the baptism of their children, as Lasitius relates, de Moribus & inftitutis Fratrum Bohemorum, c. 1 2. g. 28, 29. Which, with the folemnity they usually performed this, is related at large, in Ratione disciplina Ordin. Trat. Bohem. p. 46 Calvin. Inftit. Lib. 4. c. 19. §. 4. has hinted that a like practice obtained in the ancient church, and that from hence,' in latter times, arose the imaginary sacrament of Cona firmation. And Durel, in Viridiciis Ecclesia Anglicanæ, observes, that the like custom is still retained in the church of England. 3 K2

CHAP.

CH A P. XVII.

Of the Lord's Supper.

I. THE other facrament of the New Testament is the holy

U fupper of the Lord; which the Lord Jesus instituted immediately after his last pafsover, becauseit was to succeed the passover, from which he transferred also to this most of the rites and phrases, used by the ancient Jews in their pafsover. As this has long ago been observed by the learned, so it will appear from the brief explication, we are now to give of this facred symbol.

II. This sacrament is called AEONON the supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20. not because its celebration is necessarily confined to the evening or night. For, though in the ancient church this was frequently done ; yet that was owing not so much to the religion of Christians, as to the cruelty of persecutors, who by their tyranny, obliged believers to meet altogether privately, and in the night time: but because the Lord instituted this feast after the passover, which was to be slain between the two evenings, and eaten in the night. It was likewise instituted in the o very night in which he was betrayed," i Cor. xi. 23. and which was the last before his death; hence this most sacred feast was constantly called the Supper. Besides moft sumptuous entertainments among the ancients, especially in the Jewish nation, at least their nuptial feasts were generally in the evening : as appears from the parable of the ten virgins, Mat. XXV. And therefore it was proper, that that feast, which represents the unspeakable dainties of heaven, and is an earnest of the “ marriage-supper of the Lamb," Rev. xix. 9. should be held forth to us under the name and emblem of a supper. Nor is it for nothing, that Paul observes, that Christ gave the supper to the church, in that night in which he was betrayed. For, besides that, we have in this an illustrious display of Christ's infinite love to men, in that he should vouchsafe to have such an anxious concern for us, especially at that time, when his mind was otherwise so much taken up, and distressed with the horror of his approaching sufferings: but what, above all, ought to make it sacred to us, and very highly valuable, is, that it was instituted by our Lord, just as he was preparing himself to die.

III. Again, it is called KYPIAKON dītavov the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20. both because the Lord was the author of it, and because the whole of it agrees to the Lord, and to the re

membrance

[ocr errors]

membrance of him; so that the Lord himself, in the right use of it, is exhibited to believers : and lastly, because it ought to be celebrated by us, according to the will and prescription of the Lord.

IV. But the Lord's Supper, to pass on from the name to the thing, is the sacrament of education, or nourishment, in the New Testament church, wherein by the symbols of bread broken, and wine poured out, the dreadful sufferings of Christ are represented to believers; and the promises of the New Testament and enlivening communion with Christ, made perfect by sufferings, both in grace and glory are signified and sealed unto them. ' · V. For the illustration of this description, it will be useful we first distinctly consider the external signs; then the thing fignified by them. The signs are either the * fymbols themselves, or certain actions about the fymbols. The symbol is twofold, bread and wine ; and both of them are joined together, to figo nify the superabundant fulness we have in Christ. Here we are to adore the divine providence, which hath given to his church things so simple and easily obtained, as pledges of things heavenly: and several reasons may be assigned. ift, That this sacrament might, in all places, even to the end of the world, be in perpetual use among the faithful, it was suitable such symbols should be instituted, as might, in all places and at all times, be ready at hand for the church's use. 2dly, It is more confiftent with the spiritual economy of the New Testament, to be led by some plain and ordinary symbol, which

should neither detain the eye nor the mind, presently to behold, meditate on, receive the thing signified, than to be so dazzled by some illustrious and miraculous fign, like what was granted to the Israelites in the wilderness, as to be made to give less attention to the mystical signification. 3dly, And then, the danger of superstition, which can scarcely be altogether avoided in the case of bread and wine, would have been far greater in that of a more illustrious sign. 4thly, Nor is it from the purpose, that Christ has not again given us the flesh of slain animals, nor bloody meals, such as the fathers formerly eat in their sacred feasts; but has furnished out his table with plain bread and wine. For Christ's blood, by which all our debts are cancelled, and the fire of divine wrath is quenched, being once shed, it became a crime any longer to shed any blood in the sacred rites of Christians.

VI.

* These are frequently called with us, the Sacramental elements and the Sacramental actions.

« PreviousContinue »