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the subject; but water is so much more efficacious that it requires no faith whatever on the part of the subject of infant justification and purification.
Bishop Kenrick is, in some respects, a candid man; and, therefore, he reasons rather awkwardly; for at one time his candor must be sacrificed to his position; at another time, his position to his candor. I will give two very remarkable proofs of his candor:1st. Contrary to all my antagonists, he admits that infant baptism is not commanded in the commission, and cannot be legitimately inferred from it-"Go, convert the nations, baptizing them,” &c. Of both versions of the commission by Matthew and Mark, he observes, "Whether infants should be baptized cannot be inferred with certainty from the words of the commission.” He then proceeds to answer the question, "Why, then, baptize them, if the commission do not authorize it?' He also repudiates the argument from circumcision, and will not use it, as being unworthy of the Apostles to be left to guess at what-they should do while acting under a commission from the Lord. We shall hear him on both these points:
“But then it may be asked, On what authority can they be baptized? If the commission do not regard them, they are necessarily beyond its reach, and the attempt to baptize is an unauthorized measure. I care not to answer with some that the term rendered 'teach,' may be understood of making disciples, and initiating into Christ. Neither shall I allege, as a matter of mere inference, the divine command that each male infant on the eighth day after his birth should be circumcised, and thus incorporated with the people of God: whence, it is said, the Apostles must have understood that infants should be admissible to the Christian rite which supersedes circumcision, especially inasmuch as the children of proselytes are said to have been washed with water, when their parents were admitted to Jewish privileges. I do not at all allow that the Apostles were left to guess their Master's will from any such circumstance, but I maintain that they were instructed by Him in the sacred functions entrusted to them, and ivere enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that they might not err. The divine ordinance on this point must be learned from their teaching and their acts, as recorded in scripture, or in the want of decisive evidence of this sort, from the teaching and practice of the church which they founded.”
This is a very liberal and valuable surrender. Half of our treatises in favor of infant baptism is made up of assumptions connected with the identity of covenants, seals, and churches. Presbyterians of SERIES III.1.-Vol. V.
every school lay great stress on infant circumcision as a warrant for infant baptism. But Bishop Kenrick, not sworn to Calvinism, is more enlarged in his views of this ancient institution. He, there. fore, will not send the twelve Apostles, with Christ's commission in their hands, a-begging for instruction to Abraham, Moses, or the Jews, on the subject of preaching the gospel and baptizing. He intimates a very evident disagreement between his views and those of all the champions of the infant rite with whom I have wrestled on the subjects both of circumcision and the commission. He even inculpates either the learning or the fidelity of Rosenmuller on the word matheteusate, found in Matth. xxviii., which means, says he, to make disciples. Rosenmuller contends that matheteusate may be understood of taking into the number of followers of Christ infants, who are afterwards to be instructed. This the Roman Bishop repudiates, saying "I do not, homever, choose to rely on this verbal criticizm, as the most obvious meaning of the term is to instruct effectually, so as to bring over to the number of disciples and be. lievers those who were strangers to the truth. It is used of a scribe thoroughly instructed in heavenly truth, matheleutheis, Matth. viii. 52, and of Joseph of Arimathea, who was instructed by our divine Master, and believed in him. Matth. xxvii. 57. Protestant writers have been led to forced explanations of words of scripture, to sustain the principle that all things necessary for salvation can be proved from it."
Upon this very just and necessary surrender of the commission, our learned Prelate takes occasion to descant upon the value of tradition, and very candidly gives up the whole scriptural argument for infant baptism as imperfect and unsatisfactory.
When any one, on the Pedobaptist ground, tells me that the sacred scriptures on this point are not "thoroughly conclnsive,” | will concur with him in another point, which the Bishop himself seems also to admit,—viz. that the baptizing of infants cannot be "satisfactorily vindicated.” Here, then, the door is opened for tradition. I am sorry to say that, in this respect, the Bishop displays more honesty than some Protestant Pedobaptists: for he at once admits both the need and the importance of tradition, and openly quotes, applies, and confides in it; whereas the Protestants, many of them at least, verbally denounce and abjure tradition, and yet after all, really build on it. Of this we shall, perhaps, give some prooss hereafter, as we have, alas! too many of them. We shall only farther quote this passage, and allow it to speak for itself:
5.Without the aid of tradition, the practice of baptizing infants
cannot be satisfactorily vindicated, the scriptural proofs on this point not being thoroughly conclusive: yet we do not, on this ac. count, neglect the arguments which it furnishes, and which have considerable force."
But though unable to find any rational or scriptural authority in circumcision or in the commission for infant baptism, the Bishop is resolved, if possible, to maintain it; and seems with fresh spirit to appeal to the households baptized by the Apostles. We shall, then, hear him on his second SCRIPTURAL ARGUMENT:
“We are challenged to show that the Apostles baptized iufants. Had we a detailed enumeration of their ministerial acts, the challenge would be reasonable; but the book styled their Acts contains only some of the chief facts which marked the origin, and proved the divine authority of the Christian church. Yet even there it is said that Lydia 'was baptized and her household,' and the jailor *was baptized and presently all his family;' and St. Paul testifies that he 'baptized also the household of Stephanas.' It cannot indeed be proved that infants were in these families; but the presumption is that there were, and the general expressions naturally lead us to consider the baptism of all the children as following the conversion of the parent."
Our resolute champion for the infant rite, in his self-respect and candor, is, it appears, in the end of his enumeration o` households baptized, constrained to give up his own argument deduced from them, and to acknowledge that an infant cannot be found in any one of them. So these, too, are abandoned, and his dernier resort is to tradition-ecclesiastic tradition. He, of course, desires to find in the first century or second century some case that would favor the idea. Beginning with Justin Martyr, who flourished about the middle of it, and then proceeding to Irenæus, who flourished at the end of it, he cannot find a clear allusion to it, much less a positive proof of it; for infant baptism is not so much as named in any fragment of ancient tradition during the first and second centuries. No living man can find any allusion to it, or account of it, till in the third century, and even then there is little certain and less indicative that it had obtained in the Christian church so called.
Positive ordinances demand positive proof as certain as divine ordinances require the proof of divine authority. But neither he nor any other man can, from the oracles of God, or from ecclesias. tical history, produce any direct positive proof, human or divine, for infant baptism during the first two hundred years of the Christian age. We shall hear the Prelate on this subject, and then lay him on our shelf protempore:
“The ancient practice of baptizing infants, of which the origin at any period subsequent to the apostolic age, cannot be pointed out, is the strongest presumptive evidence of their practice.
“St. Justin the Martyr speaks of many persons of both sexes, sixty or seventy years old, who from childhood had been devoted to Christ, and persevered in virginity unto that age.' Although the terms employed do not express their baptism in infancy, they certainly afford ground for believing it, for their early instruction in the doctrines of Christ, and their enrolment among his disciples, are easily understood on this hypothesis."
No positive or decisive evidence, but air-built, conjectural, and far-fetched speculations as yet appear; and doubtless if any man could find any thing better, a Roman Bishop might rationally be expected to have it in his possession. Meantime, we are at present engaged with the Bible evidence and arguments deducible from the Christian Scriptures; and having found, in the judgment of tlie Bishop, "no positive or satisfactory proof," nothing "thoroughly conclusive," either in circumcision, the commission, or in household baptism-nothing in the form of precept, example, or precedent in any portion of the canonical scriptures, we shall next hear one of his neighbors,
Dr. Miller of Princeton, “Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government, in the Theological Seminary at Princeton. Philadelphia, 1835: published by J. Whetham.”
We prefer Miller to any other American, or even Englislı writer, on this subject, because of his opportunities and position in society and because his calling and professio'n make it his duty to be in, possession of all that is written or of value upon the subject. It will, therefore, exempt me from the necessity of reviewing the sources whence he has derived his arguments—such as Wall, Edwards, Walker, Williams, Parsons, Evans, Wardlaw, Moore, Dwight, &c. &c., and also his own reasonings, and reflections on all the premises. The Doctor, too, is as venerable for his years as for his learning; and after him we shall find little to interest us in other writers, though courtesy and popular opinion may require us to notice some of them.
Dr. Miller had the subject long before his mind, and has greatly concentrated the arguments commonly used, besides adding his own profound speculations on the premises. We shall, therefore, hea him with attention, exa mine him with care, and object to his views
with all becoming candor and respect. I have only farther to premise a single regret as to the Doctor's style of treating the subject. It is not that his style is too obscure, diffuse, or inelegant; but because it is too dogmatical, positive, and somewhat ex cathedral.
I am sorry to have to except to the statement of the case in issue, on the very opening of his first discourse on the direct evidence in favor of infant baptism. He may, indeed, without any evil intention, have done this; but it is peculiarly unfortunate for himself and his reader, who are likely to be deceived by the error and seduced into much false, or, at least, irrelevant reasoning. His statement is in the following words:—“It is well known that there is a large and respectable body of professing Christians among us, who believe and confidently assert that baptism ought to be confined to adults; who insist that when professing Christians bring their infant offspring and dedicate them to God, and receive for them the washing of sacramental water in the name of the Father, &c. &c., they entirely pervert and misapply an important Christian ordinance.*" I have placed certain words in this quotation in italics, that the reader may pause and reflect upon them, and ask himself, Is this the true statement of the controversy? We are free to confess that it is not a true statement of the case. There is no denomination of Baptists in Christendom, known to me, that teaches that baptism ought to be confined to adults, or that minors, or even young children, should be debarred from it. It is not a question about adults and minors: adults or infants. I have baptized many infants in law and young children in years, and so I presume have many others technically called Immersionists or Baptists. Dr. Miller makes it a question of years—with us it is a question of faith. It is not about nonage or adult age, but about intelligence and belief. He pleads for a baptism without faith in the subject, without the power to make a profession of it. We argue for a baptism preceded by a profession of faith on the part of the subject. This is the real issue—the one assumed by him is a false issue.
The Doctor's statement is also characterized by unscriptural terms—such as “washing of sacramental water," "dedicate our infant offspring.” How can that be “sacramental water” to one ignorant of a sacrament? How is baptism a sacrament? Whence came these barbarous terms! And how can one be washed with a dew-drop on the face, or with a moistened finger? Does not the Doctor wholly misconceive the ordinance of dedication? Neither circumcision among Jews, nor baptism among Christians was, under.
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