Page images

over either of them, but much' more difficult to gain a complete victory over both. The only request I have to make, as, indeed, it is all I could reasonably expect of you, is, that you would exercise your patience and your impartiality. The subjects which are this day to be discussed, are interesting to us all. They are not the tran. sient and fleeting concerns of this mortal state. They have an important bearing on endless futurity. They affect our present peace of mind, and our future felicity.

When I first heard that Mr. Walker had challenged the Baptist denomination, to prove to any minister of that denomination, that the sprinkling of an infant was a Divine Ordinance; although' I admired his temerity, I was much gratified with the proposition. The man who comes forward publicly, to avow his sentiments, and to give his, antagonist an opportunity of disputing them, face to face, in the presence of the public; in so far he merits my approbation. I never wish to adopt an opi. pion, or embrace an article of faith, that I would fear or blush to avow and inaintain, in the presence of the world, 66 He that doeth truth," said the Messiah, 66 cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God. But he that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

The doctrine of Baptism is a topic, which very much agitates the religious public of this generation. The vast additions made to the Baptist denomination, both in Europe and America, has greatly alarmed the Pedo-Baptists on hoth sides of the Atlantic. Even some of them. selves have affirmed, that unless some effectual check be put to the prevalence of these sentiments, they will, in less than half a century, universally prevail.

Although there is no doctrine more plainly taught in the New Testament, than the doctrine of Baptism, yet there are many professors of Christianity, at this day, and no doubt some in this assembly, labouring under conscientious embarrassments on this subject. To such, it is presumed, and fondly hoped, this debate may be of considerable advantage. And if there be any doctrine or practice of Christianity that may be lawfully the subject of such a discussion, I know of none more deserva ing the attention of the Religious Community than & debate on Christian Baptism. But why should I hesitate

on the lawfulness of thus vindicatiug truth and opposing error? Did not the great apostle Paul, thus publicly dispute with Jews and Greeks-with the leaders of Philosophy and Religion in his time? Yes; he publicly disputed with the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Jewish Priests, the Roman Orators, and openly refuted them. Nay, he dig. puted publicly in the school of One Tyrannus, two entire years, with all that came unto him. The Messiah himself, publicly disputed with the Pharisees and the Sadducees -the Priests and Rulers of the people. And by public disputation did Martin Luther, the celebrated reformer, wage war with the whole learning and see of Rome. By these means he begun and carried on the reformation thus the poet sings :

Go, bid Alcides know, His club, as Luther's tongue, gave no such blow. And Heaven has stamped its probatum est, upon this method of maintaining truth.

I stand upon quite a different footing from my opponent. I once thought, as he thinks now. I was brought up in the strictest sect of Presbyterian religion, and had an implicit confidence in infant baptism, received by tradition from my forefathers. My change of principles has not been conducive to my wordly fame nor wordly inter. est. If I err, my error is both unprofitable and dishonorable in the region of my operations. If my opponent errs, his error is profitable and honorable. On this ground, then, I conceive myself much more open to conviction than he can be. I know his temptations, for I have felt the same. I would, in one point of view, be very glad to see as he sees, could conscience acquiesce. I judge him not; I speak from my own experience. silf, (says

the Redeemer,) thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light”-a single eye is of essential importance to a clear and full perception of Divine truth. These things premised, I proceed to consider the argument my opponent has subinitted,

He has commenced with the trite, worn out argument, that has been many thousand times presented in support of his cause, and as many thousand times refuted. I cannot persuade myself to believe, that they who affirm that Baptism came in the room of circumcision, really think so i for, if they thought so, they would certainly

&ct more consistently than they do; that is, they would baptize none but males, the Jews circumcised none but males; they would baptize precisely upon the eighth day; for the Jews circumcised on the eighth day. They would baptize all the slaves or servants that the master of a household possessed, upon his faith, for the Jews circumcised all their slaves, all born in their house or bought with their money, on the footing of their covenant relation to Abraham. They would not confine the adminis. tration of Baptism to the clerical order, for men and women circumcised their own children. They would not confine Baptism to the infants of professed believers only, for the most wicked of the Jews had the same privileges with regard to circumcision, that the most faithful of their nation had. I have now specified five things in their practice, which differ from the practice of circum. cision amongst the Jews. Why then does my opponent say that circumcision was done away, and that Baptismn came in the room of it? Does he put Baptism in the room of it? Most assuredly he does not. Why then contend for any thing in principle and give it up in practice ? I cannot, then, think that he and many others who practice the same way, really believe their own doctrine.

I will now sum up, in a few words, seven respects in which Baptism differs from circumcision, and thus give my opponent an opportunity of replying to them all together.-Baptism differs from circumcision : first, in the sex of its subjects-men and women were baptized males, only, were circumcised. Secondly: it differs from circumcision in the age of its subjects-Baptism has no age specified for any of its subjects. In the third place, Baptism differs from circumcision in the prerequisites required to a participation in the ordinance: Circumcision required only carnal descent from Abraham, or covenant relation to Abraham-but Baptism requires no carnal relation to Abraham, it requires simply faith in Christ as its sole prerequisite-If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest”-no faith was required as a sine qua non to circumcision-but the New Testament presents faith, as a sine qua non to Baptism ;

Acts 8, 37. In the fourth place : Baptism differs from circumcision in the character of its administrator; parents, rela. tives, or civil officers, performed the rite of circumcision has Zipporah circumcised the place


son of Moses, Ex. 4,25. Joshua circumcised the Jews, Jos. 5,3_Baptism is an ordinance connected with the minis. try of Jesus Christ, and in the commission given to the Apostles, Math. 28, at the close, it is connected with teaching and preaching. In the fifth place: Baptism differs from circumcision in its emblematical import-Baptism is emblematical of our death unto sin, our burial with Christ, and our resurrection with him unto newness of life Rom. 6th, 3 & 4, Col. 2d, 12. Circumcision was a sign of the separation of the Jews from all the human family, and it was a type of the death or circumcision of Christ

Col. 2, 11. Baptism, in the sixth place, differs from circumcision, in the part of the system that was the subject of the operation ; Pedo-baptists apply water to the face; surely they do not suppose that the Jews circumcised in the face-Baptists apply water to the whole person - Neither Baptists nor Pedo-baptists apply baptism to the precise part affected in the rite of circumcision. In the seventh place : Baptism differs from circumcision in the blessings it conveyz-Circumcision conveyed po spiritual blessings-Baptism conveys no temporal, but spiritual blessings-Baptism is connected with the promise of the remission of sins, and the gift of of the holy spirit-Circumcision had the promise of Canaan's land, and a numerous family, as its peculiar blessings. When Mr. Walker shall have shewn how these things can differ in so many respects, and yet be the same seals of the saine covenant, or the latter a substitute for the former, I will then propose other differences between Baptism and Cir. cumcision-until then, these will suffice.

With regard to what he has asserted, concerning the covenants being the same, I am authorised from the Old Testament and the New, to affirm that they are not; often have I seen Pedo-baptist writers assume this as a fundamental axiom of all their reasoning; as if it had been granted by the Baptists. Peter Edwards is distinguished amongst sophists, for such assertions; I am sorry that my opponent seems to follow him too closely. On what grounds does my opponent affirm that these covenants are the same, that is, what he calls the covenant of grace or I the new covenant, and the covenant of circumcision. Do we not read that there were different covenants made with Abraham ? One called by Stephen, the proto-martyr. the covenant of Circumcision and one called by Paul.

in his epistles to the Gallatians," the covenant confirmed before of God in Christ, which was 430 years before the giving of the law"—Why then call these two the same the one revealed to Abraham when 75 years old, de. parting from Haran, Gen. 12, 3, 430 years before the give ing of the law; the other made with Abraham when 99 or 100 years old, Gen. 17, called the covenant of circumcision? Why, I say, call these two, the Abrahamic covenant? And why say that these two are the same with that covenant on which the church of Christ is built ? Allowing my opponent to reply to what I have already said, particularly to the seven peculiarities in which baptism and circumcision differ-also to state more fully his views on these covenants, I sit downa

Mr. W. then proceeded as follows:

My opponent has made you a long speechI don't in tend to make long speeches, I keep to the point. He has mentioned certain respects in which circumcision differs from baptism. These I consider of little consequence.

With regard to what he has said concerning the difference of sex, I would observe that Christ has a right to alter or add as he pleases; we are not to suggest to him who is, or who is not, to be added to his church; he has rather enlarged than diminished our privileges under the New Testament dispensation. Besides I consider that the covenants under which the Jewish and Christian churches exist, may be assimilated to a bond, which, the addition of a few names does not invalidate. "The addition of a rite does not destroy the nature of that rite. If there are thousands of names added to a bond, it does not destroy the nature of the bond. Again, as to the

age at which baptism is to be administered, I would say to parents, baptise your children as soon as you can. The reason why the Jews were not to circumcise till the eighth day, was that, according to the law, the Jewislr mother was unclean seven days after the child was born, and could not accompany it to the sanctuary, until she was considered clean according to the law. There is none of that uncleanness now, therefore I would say baptise the child as soon as you can. Again, we read that the Jews were not confined to the eighth day, for they did not circumcise their children always at that age. Wě read in Joshua, that all that were born in the wilder

« PreviousContinue »