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But the most important and the decisive part of our evidence remains to be produced. Dr Beecher, quoting the Acts of the Synod, says, as we have seen, that no indication of the doctrine of infant damnation is given in their doctrine of predestination.' This is not true. Under the head of predestination the seventeenth article is as follows.
“Since we must judge of God's will by his word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not indeed by nature, but by the blessing of a gratuitous covenant, in which they are included with their parents, PIOUS PARENTS ought not to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom God calls out of this life in infancy.'*
· Pious parents ought not to doubt! Other parents, then, according to the common doctrine of the times and of this Synod, are by iinplication declared to be without hopes.
according to the doctrine of this Synod. For it is well known, that when the Remonstrants proposed to discuss with them the doctrine of reprobation, the Contraremonstrants objected, among other reasons, because it would be more edifying to confine their thoughts exclusively to the sweeter' doctrine of election. The odium' of their opinions about reprobation was so strong, that they did not like to have it increased by a public discussion. They did however so far meet the wishes of their opponents, as to resolve that each deputation to the Synod should prepare an answer to their articles in writing, and that that answer should include the handling of the offensive topic. These answers were accordingly presented and read, generally with the signatures of the deputies affixed. They stand recorded in the very Acts which Dr Beecher quotes. There is not one of them which denies the doctrine of infant damnation, and there are several, and those from men of high note among both the more moderate and the more rigorous followers of Calvin, which EXPRESSLY MAINTAIN IT. Thus the deputation from Great Britain, in refutation of the heterodox' position, that there is no election of infants dying before the use of reason,' said ;
"If this be the meaning of the position, That there is no election of infants, that is, of one infant in preference to another, AS IT ALL PROMISCUOUSLY WERE SAVED, certainly the hypothesis HAS NO FOUNDATION ; nor f it were granted, would the (main) position follow. For according to the method of God's election whether to be maintained or disproved (nam ad ratione electionis divinæ sive pornendam seu tollendam] THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF AGE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT [est quiddam impertinens,) and has no influence. Grant, therefore, that all infants are saved, and not one passed by still because election and preterition have respect to the mass, NOT THE AGE, although they are not separated from the number of infants, they are from the common mass of sinners; which is enough to establish the rule of election.' *
* Aeta Dordrechtana, p. 244.
In support of this doctrine, the British divines quoted this sentence from Prosper to Augustin.
Infants who have as yet no wills, no actions of their own, are not separated one from another without the judgment of God; SOME ARE TAKEN AS HEIRS, OTHERS PASS AWAY AS DEBTORS.'
To these horrible dogmas we have the signatures of the depution—George of Landaff, John Davenant, Samuel Ward, Thomas Goad, Walter Balcanqual.'
The doctrine of the Helvetic divines is expressed thus ;"That there is election AND REPROBATION OF INFANTS as well as of adults, WE CANNOT DENY AGAINST GOD, who tenderly loves, and inculpably HATES them before they are born.'
This is signed by John James Brietinger, Mark Rutimejer, Sebastian Beck, Wolfgang Mayer, John Conrad Koch.'t
The Genevan doctors, Deodatus and Tranchinus, professors of theology, said,
Of the infants of believers ONLY, who die of an age before they can be indoctrinated, we determine that they are saved, &c.' I
We trust Dr Beecher has by this time repented of having ever said that this Synod has given no indication of the doctrine of infant damnation. It was the Orthodox doctrine both of the Synod and of the day. Thus,' says Brandt, * were the judg. ments of all the Foreign Divines upon the First Article made an end of; upon which the President said, by way of conclusion, “That they ought to thank God for the entire harmony of the Foreigners in the business of doctrine ; and God grant," added he, " that the like uniformity may be found among the Natives !” $
It only remains for us to see what was the teaching of the Westminster Assembly, and to give one or two quotations besides, and we shall have done. Dr Beecher introduces that body to our notice in connexion with the Synod at Cambridge, thus ;
*THE Synod at CAMBRIDGE, 1648, which represented, not Massachusetts only, but New England, adopted, unanimously, “the Confession of faith published of late by the reverend Assembly in England,”, judging it “to be holy and orthodox, and judicious in all matters of faith.” The same confession was, in 1608, adopted by the churches in Connecticut represented at Saybrook, as the symbol of their faith ; and the same is
Acta Dordr. Judicia Theologorum Exterorum, p. 10.
| Ibid. p. 58. Hist. of Reformation, Pook xxxix Session, cv.
now the confession of faith of the Presbyterian church in the United States. But this Confession, which represented the Calvinism of Old England and New, and which expresses, also, the doctrinal points of the church of Scotland and of the Presbyterian church in the United States, teaches neither directly, nor by implication, that infants are damned.' p. 81.
But this reverend Assembly,' as we have noticed before, did teach the doctrine of infant damnation, Dr Beecher's unmeasured denial to the contrary notwithstanding. Two of the articles in the chapter of their Confession on Effectual Calling, are as follows;
· Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.
• Others not Elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved; much less can men not professing the Christian religion be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.'*
This, Dr Beecher tells us, ' proves nothing. That he, Toplady, or any other unbeliever in the Calvinistic doctrine we are discussing, may have an interpretation to put upon these words which will make them prove nothing,' we will not dispute. But the question is, what thought the Assembly? Did they think these expressions proved nothing,' or were they consistent Calvinists and believers in infant damnation? The answer must be found in the writings of members of the Assembly, and in the theological works of their day. To begin with the ProlocutorDr Beecher contends, indeed, that his opinions are no more to be taken as evidence of the belief of the Assembly, than his own opinions are to be taken as representing those of the Massachusetts Convention, of which he was Prolocutor.
olocutor. But the most accredited organ of the Calvinistic party in this country, as he fain would be considered,' will certainly allow the Assembly's Prolocutor as much credit and authority in that body, as Dr Beecher is willing to take to himself with the Orthodox Congregationalists of Massachusetts, and this is all we ask or wish. They would hardly have made a Prolocutor of a man •who openly wrote as follows, if they felt as much repugnance to the sentiments conveyed, as is manifested by our learned author. How hard does
* While we are writing we have put into our hands a copy of an edition, not yet published, of the Cambridge and Saybrook Platforms, &c. from the Orthodox press in this city, which retains the articles quoted in the text.
the first passage bear upon his doctrine of a just exposure to damnation, without its actual infliction.
"It were worth the knowing of this Author,' says Twiss, whether any Infants of Turkes and Saracens departing this life in their infancy, are left in this woful estate. If none are left but all are saved, is it not a pretty guilt of eternal death, for which not any suffers? And you may guess by this whether this Author's Pretence of acknowledgement of naturall corruption be not only from the teeth outward.' Again— If many thousands, even all the Infants of Turks and Saracens dying in original sin, are tormented by him (the Deity) in Hell fire, is he to be accounted the father of cruelties for this ?' Again— Touching punishment in hell, it is either spoken of Infants, or Men of ripe years—if of Infants departing in infancy; if guilty of eternal death, tis no injustice to inflict it; and though he be slow to anger towards some, yet it is not necessary he should be so to others.' Again—It is true many infants we say perish in original sin only, not living to be guilty of any actual sin of their persons. Once more— Every man that is damned, is damned for original, as well as actual sins, and MANY THOUSAND INFANTS ONLY FOR ORIGINAL.'*
The next member of the Assembly we shall quote is Sir Edward Leigh, the learned author of Critica Sacra. The following passage is admirably true to Calvinistic principles, and no doubt contains a sair comment on the Assembly's articles above quoted. In a note, it will be seen that Leigh gives us also the authority of Molinæus, as unexceptionable a one as Dr Beecher could wish. According to Leigh
• Arminians say, That there is neither election 'nor reprobation of infants, and that no infants can be condemned for original sin.
Jacob was in a state of election in his mother's womb, Romans 9. 11. All men in the council of God are either elect or reprobate. But Infants are men or part of mankind, therefore they are either elect or reprobate.
1. Infants are saved, therefore there is some election of infants, for salvation is a fruit of election, and proper to the elect, Romans 11. 7. There is a manifest difference among Infants, between those that are born in and out t of the Church.—Children of unbelievers are unclean, and aliens from Christ and the Covenant of promise, Ephesians 2. 11. 12.
"2. That opinion, that no Infants are condemned for original sin seems to be contrary to that place, Ephesians 2.3.1 If this were true, the condition of a Turk's child dying in his infancy, is far better than the condition of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob living, for they might fall from grace (say they) and be damned, but a Turk's child dying, according to their opinion shall certainly be saved.'*
* The Riches of God's Love unto the Vessels of Mercy, consistent with his Absolute Hatred or Reprobation of the Vessels of Wrath, &c. fol. 1653. pp. 39, 135, 136. Book II. pp. 149, 186.
†.The Apostle, 1 Cor. v. 12. fobids us to judge of them who are without. Wherefore we leave these infants to the free judgment of God; we dare not promise salvation to any one remaining without the covenant of Christ. Molinæus.'-Leigh's marginal note.
The Arminians say that no one is damned for original sin : that is, the children of Turks, Saracens, Gentiles, who have died in infancy, enter the kingdom of heaven, and consequently are in a better condition than Abraham, Moses, and the virgin Mary while upon earth. For they may perish, according to your doctrine, but not the children of Turks who have died in infancy. Yet the Apostle declares that all and every one of them are born children of wrath, and what imaginable reason can there be why they may not also DIE CHILDREN OF WRATH.Twiss. Contra. Corvinum, c. 9. § 3. Leigh's marginal note.
Anthony Burgess was a member of this famous Assembly, and in his work on Original Sin, he not only maintains the doctrine in question, but gives a history of it, which Dr Beecher, before he speaks again for God and the truth,' would do well to consult. Burgess is one of the writers we had in our minds as delighting in the anology between infants, and wolves, serpents, and vipers, but we have not room for all the quotations we intended to give, and must content ourselves with the following exquisite passage, which gives us at once an authority in addition to his own, and an admirable illustration of Edwards's doctrine, that the happiness of heaven receives a zest from contemplating the miseries of hell.
"Fourthly, The consideration of Gods just and severe proceedings against Pagans and their children, may make thee the more admire the grace of God in saving of thee. For how many Heathens perish in hell, who it may
be never committed such gross and foul sins in their lifetime, as thou hast done ? To be sure THEIR INFANTs never committed such actual iniquities, as thou hast done; yet they appear according to Gods ordinary way of proceedings, to be left in that lost estate of nature. And therefore that is a good quickening meditation which Vedelius useth, (Hilar. cap. 3. page 119,) to make a godly man thankful for Gods grace, seeing by nature we deserve otherwise. “ Ah quot sunt, erunt in inferno miselli infantuli, &c. Ah! how many little infants are, and shall be in hell, who never had the knowledge of good and evil, and might not God have left thee in the same misery?” This (I say) is a pious meditation. [!!] Though that scoffing Remonstrant prefix this expression amongst others in the front of his Book, as if it were no less than blasphemy.'t
Dr Manton, who wrote a hundred and thirtynine sermons on the bundred and nineteenth Psalm, and of whose Orthodoxy one strong proof is, that his sermons had no inconsiderable influence in determining Bolingbroke to infidelity—though not a member of the Assembly, was in favor with most parties of his day, a popular preacher at parliament, and, says Calamy, 'generally had the chair in the meetings of the Dissenting ministers in the city? of London. I He too speaks of serpents before they be grown,' and shows us that the doctrine of infant damnation was not only taught in works of systematic divinity, but actually preached from the desk.
·Arminians say, That of Infants there is neither Election nor Reprobation, and that no Infant can be condemned for Original Sin; both which
Leigh’s Body of Divinity, pp. 416, 417. Fol. Ed. 1662. 1 Anthony Burgess on Original Sin, pp. 550, 551. Ed. 1659. Calamy's Ejected Ministers, Vol. II. p. 43.