« PreviousContinue »
The sealing of a bond is an expression of the consent of the parties as well as ratification of the articles. How, then, an uninformed infant mind can be supposed to express its consent to the stipulations of a transaction, of which it never had an idea, in receiving the seal of Baptism, as it is called, is what, I confess, I cannot comprehend. I must, then, refer this similitude to those who are endowed with a degree of penetration of which I was never possessed.
I must next endeavor to consider the arguments which Mr. W. has used to shew us, that the Jews and Chriscians are one and the same church. It is a misforture, which, I discover, very much attends the system of my opponent--that he is obliged to quote such scriptures, as never clearly mertion the subject which he designs to prove from them. Perhaps this may be to display his ingenuity, in exhibiting mysteries not evident to people of common understanding. To prove infant Baptism is a hard task, seeing there is not a word of it in the Bible; it is, however, a pleasant theme to a man of ingenuity; it requires him to prove sundry things that are not mentioned in the Bible. One of these be has lately attempted, viz: To prove that the Jewish nation and Christian church are one and the same church. Of course he must lead us to some metaphorical passage of scripture, in which the thing is not so much as mentioned- thus is the 11th chapter to the Romans. This chapter, he would lead you to suppose, was very much in his favor, and very formidable to my views. I did not attend to it when first suggested, because it required too much time, and because his remarks upon it appeared no way conclusive.
The apostle Paul, in his 11th chapter to the Romans, had one design, and my opponent, in citing it, has another.
observed, that Mr. Walker's argument from a bond, was pred. icated upon a gross mistake of the true nature of a bond. It is very bad logic, said he, to say that the adding of names to a bond does not alter the nature of a bond, but merely interests the names added in the privileges or obligations of the bond, for if there were a thousand names or only one, added to a bond, it would avail those names nothing, unless there were some specifications in the bond concerning them. It is the specifications in the bond, and not the mere circumstance of subscription, that is entitling. I observe, continued he, that some of you gentlemen of the pulpit, do not reason with as much precision as we gentlemen of the bar.
The apostle's design, as is unquestionably evident from bis remarks in the beginning of the chapter, was, to shew that God had not cast away and finally rejected his Jewish people; although a great majority of them were cast away. The Apostle proves that there was a remnant, according to the election of grace, that God had not cast away. My opponent's design in summoning the evidence of the apostle, is to prove that the Jewish nation, the whole of it as such, was the same as the Christian church. To say nothing of the unfairness of the attempt, which must strike the attention of every reflecting mind, I would observe, that, in my humble opinion, this chapter is decidedly against my opponent's system. In the first place, it must be confessed by all Christendom, and this chapter asserts it, that the whole Jewish nation was rejected from that peculiar relation in which they once stood to God; with the exception of a small remnant, according neither to birth, blood, nor merit, but accord. ing to the election of
This is a fact which, I presume, no man professing christianity will deny. Another fact, equally obvious from the New Testament, is, that this remnant according to the election of grace, did not continue in the same visible state, in which they for. merly existed. This remnant was the root or beginning of the Christian church. This remnant had no priest, no prophet, no king, no temple, no altar, no sacrifice, but the crucified Jesus. They continued not in their ancient Jewish state and customs, but, Acts 2d, 42d, they continued stedfastly in the Apostle's doctrine, in breaking of bread, in fellowship, and in prayers. To this society of Jews, this reninant, according to the election of grace, the Lord added the saved daily. This was called the first Christian church-Acts 2, 47. A third fact I will mention obviously stated in this 11th to the Romans, and uniformly acted upon, in the ministry of John the Baptist, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Apostles, in planting churches—it is this-32d verse, • The Lord hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon them all.”. In relation to the Gospel Dispensation, the whole Jewish nation, as well as the whole Gentile world, were concluded in unbeliefm that the same mercy might be shewn to all. Even the remnant of the Jewish nation that became Christian, was soncluded under unbelicf for a time, that the same mercy
might be manifest in forming them Christian, that shone conspicuous in christianizing the Gentiles. Hence, the “Doctrine of repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ," was uniformly preached to Jew and Gentile without one shade of difference, excepting in the order of these words, “ to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Not one solitary Jew, of the whole nation, was admitted into the kingdom of the Messiah, or Christian church, until he possessed a faith and underwent a change of heart he never before experienced. Even Nathaniel, an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, was enlarged in his mind, exercised a new faith, and had other discoveries, which he never before possessed, previous to his becoming a Christian. Hence, John the Baptist prepared a people for the Lord" by teaching them that a new state of things was to be instituted. Jesus Christ him. self, and his Apostles, preached the same doctrine, saying, “ repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
In the sense of these observations, the least Christian, or “the least in the kingdom of Heaven, was a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” The whole Jewish nation, in what Mr. W. calls « their visible church state," was concluded in unbelief; and the necessity of faith and repentance preached to them individually, in order to admission into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, or Christian church. The 120 Disciples converted previous to the day of Pentecost, and the three thousand converted on that day, forming the first Christian church that existed on earth, were concluded in unbelief for a time, and not without repentance and faith were they Christianized. From these facts, on which I may hereafter enlarge, the radical distinctness of the Christian church state, is plainly proved, and shewn to be essentially dissimilar iv the 6 visible church state of the Jews.".
I do seriously entreat all pedo-baptists to consider these three facts. They are plain and decisive. The whole New Testament is predicated upon them. The first of them, viz. that the Jews, as a nation, were cast away and rejected, as being the people of God, on those peculiar accounts, which designated them “his people,” made way for the reconciling of the world, became the riches of the Gentiles," and introduced a new era in the world ; the constitution of a new state of things. The second of thein, viz. that the “remnant according to the election
grace," continued not in the former state of the Jewissz nation, but became the people of God in a spiritual and everlasting relation, essentially distinct from their former state, is the accomplishment of many promises and prophecies in the Old Testament, and fitly characterizes the Christian church,'' the kingdom of Heaven;" in comparison of the worldly sanctuary," the scarpal commandments," and the beggarly elements" of the Jewish state. The third and last of these three, viz. that Jews and Gentiles were, to a man, concluded in unbelief in relation to Christianity, presents the whole world on the same footing. It presents Judaism and Gentilisın as both distinct from, and essentially opposite to, Christianity. In the language of John the Baptist, "it levels mountäins, exalts vallies, makes rough paths smooth, and crooked ways straight”- It puts no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich in mercy unto all that call upon him.” Whether, then, shall we interpret those figurative representations of things, pertaining to these facts mentioned in the 11th to the Romans, according to any system which we may embrace; or according to these facts, which are not the views of any party, but which are admitted by Baptists and Pedo-baptists ? Most assuredly, our interpretation of metaphors, must bow to facts, and not facts bow, for they are too stubborn to bow, to our private interpretations.* I now proceed to exhibit my views of those parts of this chapter cited by Mr. W. and I hope, in no instance will they be found either to contradict fact or to deviate from the obvious meaning of words and scope of sacred truth.
Distinguished commentators have found it extremely diffi. cult to comprehend every thing the Apostle says in this 11th chapter. Therefore we find the ablest of them differing among themselves. One cause of this difficulty, I presume, is the Apos. tie's so frequently referring from one part of the subject to another so often stating and applying lis remarks in sudden transitions from Jews to Gentiles. Another difficulty in expounding the metaphors is, that the engrafting spoken of, appears to be predicated upon a mistaken view of grafting. A wild olive into a good olive, does not improve the wild olive; the fruit being siinilar to the cion engrafted, and not similar to the stalk. But the apostle's design was to shew that the Gentiles partook equaliy with the Jew, as the engrafted cion equally partakes with the natural branch, in the sap and vigor of the .root.
The jaterpretation which accords with the facts I have stated, and also to the whole scope of the chapter, taken in connection with the whole of the sacred metaphors employed by the penmen of holy writ, is, I presume, the following: The good olive tree was the Jewish nation the wild olive tree denoted the Gentile world--the root and fatness of the good olive tree was Jesus Christ; and in a still more enlarged and exalted sense, the Christian church is the good olive tree. The natural branches denote the Jews, and grafting expresses union by faith to Jesus Christ, the life giving root-partaking of the root and fatness, denotes their full enjoyment of all the special blessings that result from union with Christ. This interpretation of the metaphors that have been quoted by my opponent from this chapter, I have given, not merely with a view of refuting him, for I am acquainted with other representations of them that I have seen in controversies upon this subject, which would be, on first appearance, more plainly against his views. But these interpretations i considered forced and not according to the scope of scripture. I consider it a sad misfortune when secta. ries will compel the scriptures to speak their views. I venture to say that very few Baptists have approached so nigh to the interpretations of the Pedo-baptists on this subject, as I have now done--and yet I am convinced, that it will appear that this interpretation of them, is both scriptural and decisive against the arguments of my opponent.
Some may object to my applying the same metaphor, “ a good olive tree,” both to the Jewish state and the Christian church. This is in no respect more incongruous, than that the Jews should be called “the people of God," and that the Christians should be called the people of God." This only shews, that either in a different sense, or in a higher sense, the same words may be used. For instance, a man's children, his lands, and his live stock, are called his property. Now it is obvious they are not all his property in the same sense : his children are bis property by birth, his lands by inheritance, or by pur. chase, and his live stock by bequest or by purchase. But it is not from analogy, but from scripture authority, that I say the Jews and the Christians are in a different sense called the good olive tree. -My authority for so interpreting this passage, is, Jeremiah 11, 16, The Lord called thy name (the Jews) " a green olive tree, fair and of