« PrécédentContinuer »
Two of Dr. Miller's reasons in favor of a mixed church-a church composed of professors and non-professors—of regenerate and unregenerate persons-of voluntary and involuntary members, have been considered and shown to be naked assumptions, without any show of scriptural evidence or authority. We shall now examine his other reasons for infant church membership.
His third reason is—"The actual and acknowledged church membership of infants under the Old Testament economy, is a decisive index of the divine will in regard to this matter.” Now, on his own showing, the non, actual and unacknowledged church membership of infants under the Old Testament economy, would be a decisive index of the divine will in regard to this matter. Dividing, then, the Old Testament economy into four thousand years from Adam to Christ, we have two periods of a very different character. There is a period of 2100 years from Adam to the covenant of circumcision, during which time there was not an indication of infant church membership by any kind of right, title, or visible recognition whatever. There was, indeed, a period of about 1490 years, in which there was a national institution—in which was recognized a male infant membership, and other hereditary honors. The mitre, sceptre, and the tribeship honors were alike hereditary in this “Jewish national church state." By what new species of logic and theology he makes an Old Testament church of four thousand years standing a model of a Christian church we know not, especially as more than half that time there was no infant membership whatever; and during the remainder of it only a male infant right in a national institution. But why argue for one portion of its male hereditary rights and opSERIES JU.-Vol V.
pose another part of it? Why contend for male infant membership, and not for male infant rights to the priesthood and the throne? Why make the Old Testament national institution a reason for infant church membership, and not also for church rulers, priests, and kings? Did not this Old Testament.church birthrights make of certain males, according to tribes and families, priests and kings, as well as citizens? And did it not equally exclude females from them all? If there be reason, or truth, or propriety in his assumptions, Professor Miller ought to have his sons fill his chair theological and his pulpit ministerial in virtue of his own flesh; and also exclude his infant daughters from membership in the church, because girls under Moses, had no national birthrights to sealing ordinances! What an unenviable intellectual discrimination do these veteran defenders of Papal traditions evince in the defence of infant church membership!
But our learned Professor affords many other such instances of his own peculiar logic. In the very same chapter, in proof that circumcision sealed to infants spirituat blessings, he alleges that “circumcision is expressly declared, by the inspired Apostle, to have been a seal of the righteousness of faith.” Rom. iv. 11.
Our logical text-books do not afford a more complete illustration of the "fallacia accidentis,” or of the error of affirming a general or a universal truth from an accidental or particular case, than does our zealous Pedobaptist present to the literary world in his quotation of Rom. iv. 11. Paul, in this place, says of Abraham that “he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had before he was circumcised.” From which singular and remarkable case Dr. Miller infers that circumcision was the seal of the righteousness of faith to infants that have no faith! If he does not argue this, I ask what does he argue!? Can an infant, male or female, have a righteousness of faith, witbout having faith?--! Must not a human being have faith before he can have its righteousness? I would ask, Was circumcision to Ishmael, or to the babe Isaac, what it was to Abraham, who had believed God many years before either of them was born? But Paul calls circumcision the sign and a seal—not the seal. It was to all the circumcised infants a sign in their flesh that they were of the blood of Abraham; but not to any one of them a sign of any faith, or righteousness of faith--for they had neither on the eighth day. Were we allowed to suspicion a design to mislead, Dr. Miller affords ample means of making out a very strong case from the liberty which he here takes with the sacred text. He entirely changes the
meaning of the passage as read in the common New Testament and in the original, by leaving out the definite article before faith, and again by lopping off an entire member of the sentence defining the word faith in Paul's use of it here. This will appear to all by quoting Paul's own words, and placing them in contrast with the words that Dr. Miller puts into Paul's mouth. Paul's words are:-"He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had being yet uncircumcised.” But Dr. Miller makes Paul say, 'He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith.' The Doctor makes circumcision in all cases a seal of the righteousness of faith; while Paul makes it only a seal of the righteousness of that faith possessed long before the date of the covenant of circumcision. Now I will not,in charity, call this a wilful handling of the word of God deceitfully; but will rather say it is a proof of the perversity of prejudice, or of the blindness sometimes accompanying long cherished errors.
But what makes this sophism still more unpardonable is the fact, that Paul, in commenting on the case, alleges that it was designed for a very special purpose-viz. to indicate that, in the gospel age, Gentiles without circumcision should equally enjoy with the circumcised all the blessings of the Christian institution; and, therefore, his having the righteousness of faith before circumcision constitutes him “the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; and also “the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.” This explanation of a seal of the righteousness of the faith of Abraham, possessed twenty-four years before he was circumcised, leaves not the shadow of an excuse for any man of letters, making that use of it probably adopted, rather than fabricated, by Professor Miller.
His fourth reason for infant membership is no better than his third. It is, indeed, less excusable, because it adds to its logical infirmities a gratuitous assertion concerning a concession which he cannot prove. It reads thus:---"As the infant seed of the people of God are acknowledged on all hands to have been members of the church equally with their parents under the Old Testament dispensation, so it is equally certain that the church of God is the same in substance now that it was then.” They are not "acknowledged on all hands to have been members of any church” for two thousand one hundred years; and not members of a church of God, unless a nation be a church; and not then, unless male infants mean "the infant seed of the people of God.” Now as these are not certain nay, not true, from his own words, this argument is a logical fallacy. His words are:-“It is equally certain that the church of God is the same in substance now as then.” That is—It is equally certain as that which is wholly uncertain-nay, contrary to the most express testimony.
The evidence that the Jewish nation and the Christian church are not identically one and the same in substance, spirit, or form, is, to an unprejudiced mind, most copious, clear, and irrefragable. I will give a few proofs of it by stating a few facts:
1. The house that Moses built and the house that Christ built are spoken of as two, and not as one and the same. Paul to the Hebrews, chap. iii. “Moses was faithful as a testimony of things to be spoken" in the gospel age-faithful in God's house; but “Christ as a son over his own house, whose house we (Christians) are.” Now as Moses was born before he built God's house, so the Messiah was born before he built his own house. They are, then, two houses, and not one and the same.
2. God promised by Isaiah, chap. xxviii. 16, that he would build a new house, or church, and himself lay the foundation of it. “Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” Of course Moses had not laid even the foundation of the New Institution, or Christian Temple.
3. Daniel, chap. vii., also declares that in the days of the Roman Cesars “the God of heaven would set up a kingdom” which would survive "all the kingdoms of the world and stand for ever.” Surely that was not the Jewish church. It had been set up long before.
4. Dr. Miller will have the Jewish covenant and the Christian covenant the same; whereas God promised a new covenant, and also told the Jews by Ezekiel, chap. xvi. 61, that he would make a new covenant, and add to a portion of the Jews, the Gentiles, and form a new community; but says he, “Not by thy covenant;" yet Dr. Miller affirms by one "and the same precious covenant.” He makes Jesus Christ the head of the Jewish church; for, with him, the Jewish nation and the Christian church are identical throughout.” The same head, the same precious covenant, the same great spiritual design, the same atoning blood, the same sanctifying Spirit.” Such are his dogmata; and his illustration is~"It is not more certain that a man arrived at mature age is the same individual that he was when an infant in his mother's lap, than it is that the church in the plenitude of her light and privileges, after the coming of Christ, is the same church which many centuries before, though with a
much smaller amount of light and privilege; yet, as we are expressly told in the New Testament (Acts vii. 28.) enjoyed the presence and guidance of his Divine Head in the wilderness.” p. 19. The illus. tration is much better than the proof. It is certain that the infant and the full grown man are identically the same person; for of this consciousness is the highest proof. But has the Christian church this consciousness? Nay, Dr. Miller gives that up, and proves his allegata by simply affirming here that the Christian church is identically the Jewish church, full grown, because the Jewish church enjoyed, according to Stephen, “the presence and guidance of her Divine Head.” Suppose it should be said, for illustration of this splendid logic, that General Washington was both the head of the American army and afterwards the head of the American nationthat, therefore, the American army and the American nation were identically one and the same institution or body corporate, what would our political Doctors say? Yet just such a logician is this venerable theological Professor of Princeton.
To illustrate or argue the identity, the Doctor proceeds into the Galatians, and brings up the fourth chapter to sustain his notion of identity. Because an heir, when a minor, is under a master as much as a servant, therefore the Jewish community and the Christian community are identically one church. Now the Apostle's own argument in that chapter most expressly compares the Jewish covenant and people to Hagar and Ishmael, and the Christian cove nant and people to Sarah and Isaac-saying that the two women represent two covenants, or *constitutions, and that the two sons represent two distiact communities—the Jews and the Christians. The difference between the Jewish community and the Christian institution was never more circumstantially drawn by the Apostle Paul, or any one else, than in this graphic allegory. Here is the slave Hagar and her bond son, and here is the free Sarah and her free born son. Here are the Jews born after the flesh, and the Christians after the Spirit. The Jewish institution in the birth of its members differed nothing from England or the United States—the door into both was flesh, blood, or natural birth; but into Christ's church none can enter, unless, like Isaac, they are supernaturally born, or born after the Spirit. So the Apostle argues: “Cast out the bondwoman Hagar and her son Ishmael-both the old covenant and those born under it; for the son of the bond-woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” Dr. Miller says they are identically the same, and do inherit the same relation. But Paul differs from
SERIES 111.-Vol. V.