« PrécédentContinuer »
on the part of the circumcised, the children of Abraham were covenantees. God himself the covenanter, so ordained till the seed promised should come. Hence his Harbinger proclaimed a new era, and charged his auditors not to, presume on Abrahamic blood. “Think not,” said he, to say in your hearts that “Abraham is your father.” God is able to raise up out if stones a seed to Abraham. Thus spake Jehovah to David's son and David's Lord:-—"A willing people, in the day of thy power, shall come to thee.” But now, although Jesus Christ as Lord of all is on the throne and possessed of all power in heaven and earth, still there are those who will carry to Jesus in their arms those who, by reason of age, cannot come to him. They read the promise as if God had said an unwilling people shall be carried to thee when thou art invested with the government of the universe.
But the Jews had no sponsors. How, then, came the Christians, in the third century, to introduce them? No answer but one can be given. They know that Jesus said, "come to me,” not carry to me. Individual responsibility was assumed and proclaimed from the days of John the Baptist to the close of the gospel and law of Christ. They felt the necessity of it, and on instituting infant baptism they introduced a sort of proxy responsibility.
The Latin sponsor was the term that indicated their ideas. A sponsor assumed to answer for the babes of the third century. He became responsible for the faith and training of the children of the flesh. On this principle infant immersion was introduced. So ancient history amply rds. But we mention his for the great lesson which it imparts. The doctrine of personal responsibility, antecedent to sponsorship, was the doctrine of Christianity, and so soon as they began to depart from the primitive institutions they found it necessary still to have respect to the forms of the apostolic age. They, therefore, had some one both to profess for the babe and to become responsible for his Christian education and deportment.
This was a great and most deleterious innovation, not only as respected the change of the subject of immersion, for yet it was immersion, and immersion only—but in changing the doctrine of personal responsibility. For of all the doctrines, fundamental to moral excellency, that of individual, personal responsibility is of paramount importance. This corrupted, or denied, degrades man from the dignity of a free and voluntary agent, to that of a slave to the opinions and dictates of every demagogue who may chance to ingratiate himself into his confidence and affection.
The introduction of sponsor infant baptism tended directly to enslave man to the dogmata of his intellectual superiors, to take from him the consciousness of innate self-determination, and to make him an easy prey to the intrigues and approaches of the selfish and designing. Like other plausible and palatable innovations it soon spread extensively in the Greek and Roman divisions of ancient Christendom, and flooded the church with a mass of ignorance, impiety and immorality. [t brought the laity into the net of the clergy, and multiplied the nominal adherents to the Christian church greatly beyond the intelligent and voluntary converts.
The communion of saints was soon destroyed, and for it substituted infant communion as well as infant baptism, on the same assumption of Jewish precedents, substituting these twain innovations for the baptism of believers and the communion of saints.
From that day to the present the ancient landmarks between the church and the world were defaced, and ultimately destroyed. And as the way of transgressors is hard, it grew and spread its paralyzing influence over the so called Christian world, until it was almost wholly immersed in the darkness of superstition and error.
There was, indeed, occasionally a class of faithful and powerful remonstrants that prevented the apostacy from being both complete and universal, contending, as they did, under various distinguished leaders, down to the period of the Protestant reformation. Still the church never wholly recovered from a false philosophy, nor from the fleshly and worldly influence by which she was enfeebled and paralyzed.
The Protestant Reformation was but a REFORMATION of a corrupted Christianity, and not a RESTORATION of the primitive simplicity, beauty, and integrity of the original profession. The world had got into the bosom oi the church, and had seized all her fountains of learning and authority. It held communion in her prayers, in her praises, in all her sacred solemnities, and prostituted her most solemn ordinances by administering the one to babes and the other to knaves and hypocrites. From head to foot, from the Pope to the catechumen, like the Jewish apostate nation, she was gan. grenous, ulcerous, and corrupt. From the head to the extremities she became a hideous mass of rottenness and corruption.
From that great and almost universal defection she has not yet been healed. Her head is still sick and her heart faint. The saints within are not able to remove the malady that yet presses upon her vitals. Still she numbers her myriads of Doctors; but in their protests, for the most part, there are sundry errors and corruptions retained and honored. Through their benumbing and paralyzing influence, reformation, or rather restoration of the ancient and primitive order of things, is slow and feeble. The medicines that Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, and their associates prepared, and those which Wesley, Whitfield, and their brotherhood prescribed, have not reached the mortal disease under which she wastes and pines away. They have healed the cancerous excressences, but the roots are not extracted. But their eyes were not opened, nor are those of their sons and successors, to the hereditary taint that has stricken her to the heart. The struggle between the two principles-the flesh and the spirit-within the church, as when Esau and Jacobstruggled for precedence in the womb of Rebecca, terminated in the triumph of the former over the latter. But, as then, while the younger seized the heel of his brother, the elder secured the heart of his mother, and thus the sons of Esau evercome the seed of Jacob in the visible family of God, and have brought the church into a condition in which the carnally minded bear rule over the spiritually minded, and instead of converting the world to the church have rather converted the church to the world.
Many and strong were the causes that concurred in carnalizing the true church of God. When infants, because of the flesh were numbered as in covenant with God, and had grown up in the spirit of the world, and from the alleged obligation and sanctity of a parental vow assumed for them, had taken it upon themselves, being as much then in the flesh as before, they had no relish for “the sincere milk of the word.” But preferring the wisdom of this world to the wisdom of God, they gave heed to those teachers that most accommodated the doctrine of Christ to the taste and style of the times and places in which they lived. Teachers then, as now, delighted in pleasing the majority. Deriving their annual revenues more from the rich, the fashionable, and honorable on earth, than from the poor, the humble, and the obscure, they would have been of extraordinary piety and spirituality not to have catered more or less to the passion and taste of those on whose good will and liberality they most depended for all the good things of this present life.
Add to this the reverence always paid to mysticism and mystery in times of ignorance, allured the elders of the Christian church to pay a courteous respect to the sage philosophy of the times, and to the popular charms of science falsely so called. This gorgeous mystic lore and heathen tradition gradually triumphed over the beautiful simplicity of the gospel of Christ, and brought the church into subjection to the wisdom of the world. The clergy took sides with the majority, catered to their passions and ultimately resigned, to the unconverted multitude of baptized infidels, the destiny of the Christian institution.
Infant baptism, in itself, appears to be a very small matter. And so it is, in fact, when contemplated without its bearings on the church and on the whole doctrine of Christianity. The eating an apple, too, is a very trivial affair. But not so insignificant when viewed in all its bearings in the case of the first apple eaten by the first man. It was a small matter to make a golden calf—but it occasioned the death of 3,000 men. And still a smaller matter to peep into the ark of the Lord. Yet of the men of Bethshemesh there were stricken dead fifty thousand and seventy men, in one day, for presuming to look into it while the people were offering a great sacrifice to God.
Many such little things there are in the Bible that are larger than any mountain any geographer ever measured. But if every jot and tittle of God's law is to stand when the present heavens fall, who dares to presume to call any institution of heaven, or the corruption of it, a very little thing. Who can compute the value of a letter in the word of God, the difference between Jah and Jove--between “Jesus called Justus,” and “Jesus called Christ?” A single word may have the salvation or damnation of man in it.
Infant baptism is a very little thing. But it has brought a thousand millions into a nominal relation to Christ, and filled the church with untold legions of mere worldlings and hypocrites. It never saved any one; but may have ruined myriads; not by any thing in itself, but because of its assumed value, in all its associations and consequences. It has metamorphosed the gospel, the church and the world just so far as it is believed, and as often as it has been acted on Without it a Pope never would have been consecrated, nor a hierarchy instituted. It has desecrated the holy communion, and deprived many of the benefits of Christian baptism. It is a positive violation of the last precept of the law, and incurs the last penalty of the gospel institution. God, by Moses, said: “Ye shall not add to the word that I command thee, neither shall you diminish aught from it.” Deut. iv. 2. By John, the last of his Apostles, he said: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of this prophecy-(or revelation)-God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things written in this book.” For according to Isaiah-To change the ordinance is to break the everlasting covenant. Chap. xxiv. 5.
May we not, then, conclude that hereditary Christianity, in any form, as indicated by infant baptism, or any other observance not the fruit of faith, on the part of the subject, carnalizes and corrupts the church, tends to infidelity, deludes the world, rnins the souls of men, and so far dethrones the Christian Lawgiver and Judge of men?
AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE, CAUSE, AND CURE
OF SPIRITUAL DYSPEPSIA. No. I. There is not, perhaps, within the entire range of moral or spiritual ailments, a disease, in view of the frequency of its occurrence, more difficult of accurate description, or more intractable in its remediate management, than that which forms the subject of our present inquiry, and which we have denominated Spiritual Dyspepsia. So perfectly protean is it in its type, that it assumes, at times, the form of almost every other spiritual malady. And oftentimes, so difficult of cure is it, that neither the mildest, nor yet the most heroic treatment, will always succeed in effecting a perfect cure. Indeed, to understand fully the pathology or intimate nature of this disease, would seem to require a general acquaintance with the whole class of spiritual ailments. But in view of the frequency of its occurrence, the train of accompanying symptoms, so discomforting to the patient, the truly miserable condition of the habitual spiritual dyspeptic, together with the often intractable nature of some of its forms, all of which conspire to make it necessarily a most interesting disease to the spiritual physician, and to present it ' as one having the strongest claims upon his attention and sympathy.
But before considering this form of spiritual disease, it would, perhaps, be well, in the first place, to inquire a little into that condition of the system constituting spiritual health. And in the second place, to consider those particular deviations from that condition, constituting spiritual dyspepsia.
Health, whether spiritual or physical, may be defined to consist in that state of the living body in which the parts are sound, well organized and disposed, and in which they all perform freely their
In either case, then, whether it be physical or spiritual health, the condition of the living body, as above stated, must exist and be maintained in order to the continued enjoyment of health. But such a condition of the body natural, or spiritual, cannot be maintained unless in conformity to the laws of its own organization or constitution. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. The outward man is of the earth, earthy, and must subsist upon !hat which is earthy or material like itself. For doing this, it is furnished with an admirable machinery for the reception, digestion, and assimilation of material nature, by which the health, vigor, and comfort of the physical man is promoted and sustained. Just se is SERIES III-VOL. VI.