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The Pedo-baptists, in quoting and commenting on this text, commit some very gross mistakes, as dishonorable to their talents as men, as to their divinity as Christians. In Indian file, they follow one another, very similar to their first leader : In the first instance, they uniformly, as far as I have had access to know, (and I, myself, when fighting under their banners, was similar to them) misinterpret this promise, of which the Apostle speaks.
To place this promise in the clearest light, we must view the context. Acts 1, 4, the Saviour of the world, Luke tells us, shewed himself alive after his passion, by many infallitie proofs, and spoke with his Apostles forty days, of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. In his last interview with them, Acts 1, 4, “ he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me," referring to John, 15, 26. But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you, from the Father, even the spirit of truth which proceedeth from the father, he will testify of me. Among his last words, he promised that they would soon be endued with power from on high. The next chapter informs us of the immediate accomplishment of these promises. The day of Pentecost was fully comema mighty noise heard-the city in an uproar-thousands assembling-visible appearances of the Spirit, in cloven tongues of fire-sitting on the heads of the Apostles-some enquiring the meaning of these things—others mocking. Peter explains it all, by citing the prophet Joel_and what did Joel say? He predicted this day, and this wondrous event. The word of the Lord, by Joel, was, v. 17, 6 I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens, I will pour out, in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophecy.” It is enough to observe, that the apostle Peter explains and applies this promise of the spirit, to that very day and occasion. This testimony he confirms, from sundry quotations from the ancient prophets, and in verse 33, approaching the immediate context of the contested verse, Peter says-therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye pow see and hear. In:
mediately, while he yet spake, this same spirit working in their minds, compelled them fortb with to enquire what they should do to be saved ? Peter's answer is, " Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise (of this gift) is unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. From the beginning of the book to this verse, I have shewn that the promise spoken of, is the gift of the Holy Spirit. "The particle for, which connects the 38th and 39th verses, being illative, and equivalent to because, shews, most plainly, that the words immediately preceding, depend for support or establishment, on those subsequent to the for. Now the words immediately preceding, are: “ Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”- For the promise of it,” &c. Again, the 38th comprehends just two things—a command, and a promise. The command isrepent and be baptised for the remission of sins. The promise isand ye shall receive the gist, &c. Now the 39th verse is to establish the promise, to shew the grounds on which it was given. So that no man acquainted with language, no man who understands even the first princi. ples of grammar, whose mind is not infatuated with a system repugnant to reason as well as scripture, could hesj. tate for a moment, in suspense, as to the meaning of the promise.
But again, when we, with the Apostle, turn over to the promise to Joel, from whom he quotes it ; we discover that the 39th verse is merely a repetition of Joel's words, Joel 2, 28–32. “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophecy”For, saith Peter, “ the promise is unto you, and your children"_" all flesh"-"your sons and your daughters"
your children." Says Joel, 32d verse, and so in the remnant whom the Lord shall call"-says Peter, 6 to them afar off”-66 even as many as the Lord shall call." No portion of Old Testament scripture, ever was more clearly identified with its corresponding portion in the New, or with its New Testament citation, than these verses of Joel are with those mentioned, Acts 2d. And he that saith he cannot see it, is blind indeed.
I have now unanswerably shewn the fallacy, that Mr. W. has been endeavoring to impose on you, in attempt
ing to persuade you that this promise was the promise to Abraham, Gen. 17-oro the promise of Baptism.” More easily and more rationally could the doctrine of Purgatory be proven, than his assumption. It is without foundation and without precedent, save in the system of Pedobaptists. -
But, moreover, Mr. W. has imposed a very convenient gloss on the words_i6 to your children." If you will hearken to him, these were their little infants-new born babes. But as Fuel and Peter both explain these words, as many of you who would prefer the prophet Joel and the apostle Peter, as expositors of the will of Heaveng may know, that these children were their sons and daughters, gifted with the spirit of prophecy. Joel's words are : " your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Young men and young women were, in those days, esteemed children, as much as new born babes; but, now-a-days, it seems that young men and young women are po longer children than until they are weaned. Peter makes it even more plain than Joel “ to your children to them also that are afar off-even to as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The promise, then, is to the called only-whether far off, or near
whether parents or children-whether young or oldwhether infants or adults. The called, cannot mean those whom every preacher invites to baptisin, but those whom the Lord calls by his grace or spirit. In this sense it is used, when calling is esteemed a blessing whom he called, them he also justified.”
Now when the whole passage is viewed from first to last, its interpretation is easy and obvious to all, and every way hostile to Mr. Walker's cause. It is every way contradictory to that gloss, which exhibits the prom. ise as the old promise, Gen. 17, or as baptism, and children as infants. I flatter myself, that my opponent will never again presume to accommodate this passage to his system : It is blindfolding the ignorant, and leading them by the hand far from the will of Heaven, in the mazes and labyrinths of purblind human invention.
The next passage froin the New Testament, which Mr. W. brings in support of the cause he espouses, is, the words of the Saviour spoken to the Apostles, concerning their interference with some persons, who were lr.nging
their children or infants to him to be blessed. This verse has been often pressed into the service of their cause : 66 Suffer little children to come unto me and for.. bid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” Unfortunately, this was spoken before Christian baptism was instituted. This difficulty is, by the advocates of infant baptism, easily surmounted. Some of them view it as spoken in the spirit of prophecy; and consequently easily apply it: Others pay no attention to this circumstance, but explain it as if written after the institution of Christian Baptism. There is another misfortune attending it, as respects their cause that it was not baptism but a blessing these parents solicited for their children ; but as these words both begin with a B, it makes but little differ. ence with them; either baptism or a blessing will suit their system. A third, and still greater misfortune attends it-it
proves too muchfor their system, at least for Protestant Pedo-baptists; the Catholic Pedo-baptist can very Jogically prove infant communion from it. 'The Catholic syllogism runs thus: All members of the church, or such as are of the king
dom of God, have a right to communion or the sacra
ment of the supper But infants, saith Christ, are members of the church or
of the kingdom of God: Ergo-Infants have a right to partake of the sacra.
ment of the supper. The Protestant Pedo-baptist syllogism is precisely the same, only supply the word baptism-it runs thus • All members of the church, or such as are of the king.
dom of God, have a right to baptismBut, infants are said by Christ to be of the kingdom of
Heaven--or members of the church : Ergo-Infants have a right to baptism. *
I say, the misfortune is, that this text proves too much on their way of reasoning Logicians say, what proves too mucli, proves nothing. The catholics not only rea600 according to the above syllogism, but, like their pedo. baptist brethren, they practice what they can so ingeni. ously prove. Hence they tell their infants, as soon as they can understand them, and before they can under, stand them, they do it for them) to open their mouths and put out their tongues to receive the wafer, their Saviour's body, and then to swallow it whole, for it is his
body. They prove this by circumcision toom-for, as baptism came in room of circumcision, and the supper
in room of the passover, and as every circumcised person was to eat the passover, so every baptised person must eat the supper. Mr. W. follows their mode of reasoning precisely, in some respects, but they are more consistent than he. They follow their own reasoning to its. proper extent, but Mr. W. stops in the midst and turns round and quarrels with the man who follows his system farther than himself. There remains yet another embarrassment on Mr. W.'s views of this text. He has said that the kingdom of God here spoken of, is either the church on earth or that in Heaven; and from either bypothesis he infers infant membership and baptism--but before these children came into the arms of Christ, he pronounced them, according to my opponent's view of the text, as members of either the church below or that above, consequently they had no need of baptism; for, according to him, baptism is the door of admission into the church. They were in it already. The legs of the lame are not equal,
As we have seen that this occurrence took place before the institution of baptism, that these children were brought for Christ's blessing, by imposition of bands, and not for baptism; that infant communion can be as fairly supported from it as infant baptism, it does not, it cannot, make any thing for the cause of infant baptism.
What then, shall we make of it? I answer just what it. plainly says, viz: That some presons, having confidence in the Messiab, either as a prophet equal or superior to the ancients, according to the old custom, brought children to him to receive his benediction, and to receive the imposition of his hands.--The Apostles, supposing that they were too 'intrusive, forbade them. Christ invited them to be brought to himself (not into his church) and rebuked the disciples with this argument, « of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”- The “ of such" is the phrase on which the stress rests-and it simply expresses similarity-or, as the French read it, “ Car le Royaume des cieux est pour ceux qui leur resemblent"
“ For the Kingdom of Heaven is of such as resemble them.” The humility, meekness, docility, and comparative innocence of children, are such as the Christian must eper imitate, for, except a man be converted, and become