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able. Indeed, if they understood that the one rite was the divinely-ordained substitute for the other, how could they practise circumcision at all? (5.) In the bitter and widespread discussion respecting the obligation of circumcision on the Gentile Christians, no hint is given that baptism had taken its place; such a fact, had it been suggested, would have gone far to settle the question, and it is incredible that if it was a fact it should not have been stated. It seems plain, therefore, that the conditions of administration in the two rites are widely dissimilar, and the admission of infants to the one does in no way prove that they are to be admitted to the other.
4. The Scripture passages commonly adduced for the Abrahamic covenant as a basis of infant baptism furnish a decisive argument against it.
Col. ii. 11, 12: “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” A careful analysis finds here asserted—(1.) That Christians are circumcised, not with the outward circumcision, but with a “circumcision not made with hands.” (2.) That this Christian circumcision consists, not in the cutting of the flesh, but “in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh ”—that is, in regeneration. (3.) That the outward symbol of this inward circumcision is baptism, in which they were buried with Christ as dead to sin and raised with him as alive to holiness. Here, then, circumcision of the heart, or the putting off the body of sin, is put in contrast with circumcision of the flesh; and it is affirmed of baptism, not that it takes the place of circumcision of the flesh, but that it is a symbol of the circumcision of Christ—that is,
of regeneration. Plainly, therefore, if the passage can de supposed to suggest that, as circumcision was initiatory to the old dispensation, so baptism is initiatory to the new, it also indicates that, as the terms of admission to the one rite were carnal, so the terms of admission to the other are spiritual.
Rom. xi. 16–24: "For if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast., thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also .spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for
; God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert. graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?"
The figure of the olive tree here employed, when rightly analyzed, clearly disproves infant baptism. The “good olive" here is Abraham and his seed, considered as the external covenant people of God. Under the old dispensation external connection with this tree had been maintained by natural descent, but under the new dispensation, Paul affirms, it is conditioned on faith. Hence, after the coming of Christ, the unbelieving Jews, though natural descendants of Abraham, were by reason of their unbelief cut off as no longer true branches; but the believing Gentiles, though not natural descendants of Abraham, were by reason of their faith ingrafted as true branches of the good olive. Faith, not natural descent, being now the condition of a visible place among the covenant people of God, it resulted that the unbelieving Jew must be cut off, while the believing Gentile must be received; and the excision of the one must continue as long as he is unbelieving, while the grafted position of the other can also continue only as long as he is believing. The whole illustration, therefore, shows, (1.) That faith, not natural descent, entitles to a place among the visible people of God under the new dispensation; and, (2.) That none ought to be admitted to the church, the visible community of God's covenant people, except on condition of faith; natural descent cannot entitle to such admission.
It is difficult to see how infant baptism could have been more expressly excluded than it is by the two passages above considered, for in both the absolute necessity of a spiritual character, in order to entrance among God's covenant people, is distinctly presented and emphasized.
II. THE ARGUMENT FOR INFANT BAPTISM FROM SCRIPTURAL
PASSAGES. Matt. xix. 13-15: “Then were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.” Here observe, (1.) They were brought that he might, not baptize, but “lay his hands on them, and pray ;' and this was all he did. If infant baptism was a recognized institution, it is singular that the disciples should have objected to the bringing of the children, especially as this incident occurred in our Lord's journey through Perea, not long before his crucifixion; and if infant baptism had been instituted by him, the bringing of children to him to be baptized must long since have been a familiar fact and could not have called forth rebuke. (2.) Our Lord's words, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven," plainly refer, not to age, but to character, as is shown by his own exposition, Matt. xviii. 1-6—where, insisting on the necessity of the childlike spirit in order to entering the kingdom, he designates Christians as "these little ones which believe in me." Thus also, in the parallels, Mark x. 15; Luke xviii. 17, he explains his meaning in the words “Of such is the kingdom of heaven” by the added remark: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (3.) The incident clearly disproves the existence of infant baptism; for if that rite existed and would have benefited them, would Christ have sent these children away, as he did, unbaptized ?
Acts ii. 38, 39: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Here it is to be noted: (1.) The apostle, in verse 38, places repentance before baptism—“Repent and be baptized”thus indicating the essential prerequisite to the ordinance and excluding the idea of a baptism in the case of infants, who are incapable of repentance. Meyer comments: "The metanoēsate (repent) demands the change of ethical disposition as the moral condition of being baptized, which directly and necessarily brings with it faith.” (2.) In re
ferring to "children,” verse 39, he is speaking, not of baptism, but of "the promise of the Holy Ghost," so that, if the word "children" here could be understood of infants, it would prove, not infant baptism, but infant regeneration and inspiration. The word "children," however, is clearly
" used here in the general sense of posterity, as in Acts xiii. 32, 33:“We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us, their children.” Lange comments: “He specifies those for whom this promise of God was intended : (a) It concerns you,' the Israelites; (b) also 'your children -i.e., it is not restricted to the present
' moment, but extends to the future, and comprehends the generations in Israel that are still unborn. And yet the whole extent of the promise has not been presented to their view; it belongs, further, to (c) pasi tois eis makran, all nations-i. e., heathens dwelling at a distance, as many as God shall summon.” Thus also Barnes, Hackett, and most commentators.
1 Cor. vii. 14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean, but now are they holy.” Note here: (1.) The question before the apostle is, Shall a married couple, only one of whom is a believer, continue to live together ? The answer is in the affirmative, and the reason urged is the religious influence of the believing over the unbelieving companion and over the children. (2.) If the allusion was, as alleged, to qualification for baptism, then not the children only, but also the unconverted husband or wife, are qualified for baptism; for in both cases such are "sanctified," made "holy," by the believing companion. (3.) If the reference be in any way to baptism, it proves that the children of such parents were not baptized; for if they had been, how could the