Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ibtion, though his life be but the length of one day. Be. sides all this, let it be considered, what is the reason that, whereas the baptism of the church is given for the remission of sins, infants also are, by the usage of the church, baptised; when, if there were nothing in infants that wanted forgiveness and mercy, the grace of baptism would be needless to them,"

Again: his Homilia in Lucam 14 Having occasion given by this place, I will mention a matter which excites frequent inquiries among the brethren. Infants are baptised for the remission of sins. Of what sinsor when have they sinned ? Or how can any reason of baptisın be alledged in their case, unless it be in conformity to the sense just now expressed, namely, that none is free from pollution, though his life be but the length of one day upon earth? And it is for that reason, because, by the sacra. ment of Baptism, the pollutions of our birth are taken away, that infants are baptised.".

Again : his comment on Romans, lib. 5-“And also in the law it is commanded, that a sacrifice be offered for every child that is born ; a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons, of which one is for a sin offering, the other for a burnt offering. For what sin is this one pigeon offered ? Can the child that is new born lave committed any sin ? It has even then sin, for which the sacrifice is commanded to be offered, from which even he whose life is but of one day, is denied to be free. Of this sin, David is to be supposed to have said that which we mentioned before,

In sin did my mother conceive me'-for there is, in the history, no account of any particular sin that his mother had committed. For this, also, it was, that the church received a document or order from the Apostles to give baptism to infants: for they to whom the divine mysteries were committed, knew that there is, in all persons, that native pollution of sin, which must be cleansed by the spirit and by water; by reason of which the body itself is called the body of sin." Thus far Origen, who flourished from. 210 till 235.

Next comes St. Cyprian, who flourished from the year 248 till 254. Jerome speaks thus of St. Cyprian“ Blessed Cyprian declared not that no body, but that no soul was to be lost ; and, with a number of his fellow bishops, decreed that an infant might, with propriety, be baptised immediately after the birth not thereby forming

some new canon, but observing the most firmly establisited faith of the church. This was alleuged to correct some who wished to defer till the 8th day.

Augustin refers to St. Cyprian's letter, in his epistle 28th, ad Hieronyin; thus" Blessed Cyprian not ma: king any new decree, but expressing the firm faith of the church, in refuting those who thought a child must not be baptised before the eighth day, said, not that no flesh, but that no soul must be lost.”. St. Jerome and St. Augustine both flourished at the close of the 4th century. The tes. timony of St. Jerome and St. Augustine is here cited, to establish the character of St. Cyprian against Danvers and Robinson. But I will now present you with an extract of this far-famed letter of St. Cyprian-Cyprian and the associate bishops present at the council, 66 in number .. " To Fidus, our brother, Greeting:

66 We read your letter, very dear brother, in which you write of one Victor, a Presbyter, &c. But with respect to the case of infants, wbich, as you have stated, should not be baptised within the second and third day after their birth, and as to what you would also suggest, that the rule of the ancient circumcision is to be observed, requiring that none is to be baptised and sanotified before the 8th day after nativity; it has appeared far otherwise to us all in our council: for as to what you had concei. ved should be done in this affair, not a single person thought with you; but we all gave it as our opinion, that the mercy and grace of God should be denied to none of human kind. For since our Lord in his Gospel says, 6. The son of man came not to destroy men's souls, but to save them"-as much as possible, then, should we exert our best endeavors, that no soul should be lost. For what deficiency can there be in the human creature that has been formed in the womb by the hands of the Almighty? Such existences appear to us to attain increase in the course of the days of the world. But whatsoever things are the product of the Deity, derive their perfection from the majesty and work of God the maker. The authority of inspiration informs us of the single equality of the : Divine gift to all persons, whether infants or adults." «On which account, we conceive that no person is to be prevented from obtaining grace by the law which is now established; and that the spiritual circumcision is not to be restricted by the circumcision which is of the flesh :

but that persons of every age and condition are to be admitted to the grace of Christ; since Peter, speaking in the Acts of the Apostles, declares, and our Lord bas said, that no person is be called common or unclean. But if any thing can prevent men from receiving this grace, it should seem rather that highly aggravated sins ought to shut out the adult and aged from obtaining it. And yet more, if to the vilest offenders, and to those who have once greatly sinned against God, the rernission of sin is given when they shall have believed, and if from baptism. and grace no person is to be excluded, by how much more should the infant be exempt from probibition, who being but just born, has never sinned; otherwise than as sprung by a carnal birth from Adam, he has contracted, in the earliest moments of nativity, the contagion of death originally threatened ? And who for this reason more easily obtains the remission of sins, because they are pot his own, but others sins which are remitted to him. Therefore, very dear brother, this has been our decision in council, that from baptism and the grace of God, who is merciful and benign and affectionate unto all, no person is to be prohibited by us. Which, rule, seeing it ought to be regarded and attended to with respect to men in general, shoulil, as we apprehend, be more especially observed in reference to mere infants, and to those too who are but just born." So speaks the St. Cyprian, who clearly shews us that the sense of the 66 bishops was, that infants even under 8 days old should be baptised.

The testimony of Augustine, who flourished at the close of the 4th century, is in the following words : 66 And as the thief, who, by necessity, went without baptism, was saved, because by his piety he had it spiritually--so where baptism is had, though the party by necessity go without that (faith) which the thief had, yet he is saved. Which the whole body of the church holds as delivered to thein in the case of little infunts baptised, who certainly cannot yet believe with the heart unto righteousness, or confess with the mouth unto salvation, as the thief could ; nay, by their crying and noise, while the sacrament is administering, they disturb the holy mysteries; and yet no christian man will say they are baptised to no purpose. And if any one to ask for divine authority in this matter. though that which the whole church practises, and which kas not been instituted by councils, but was erer in use.

is very reasonably believed to be no other than a thing delivered or ordered by the authority of the Apostles; yet we may, besides, take a true estimate how much the sacrament of baptism does avail infants, by the circumcision which God's former people received."

Jerome and Augustine asserted the baptism of infants for the remission of sins against.Celestius and Pelagius, who denied original sin, as an evidence of original guilt, derived by infants from Adam. Pelagius and Celestius admit the fact of infant baptism as a general practice of the church, yet they alledge that their baptism was ne. cessary pot for the remission of sins, but because our Lord said « except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." CeJestius said, that, “As for infants, I always said that they stand in need of baptism, and that they ought to be baptised." Pelagius, in his creed, has these words. We holel one baptism, which we say ought to be administered with the same sacramental words to infants as it is to elder persons.” Again, says Celestius-- We own that infants ought, according to the Rule of the Universal Church, and according to the sentence of the Gospel, to be baptised for the forgiveness of sins, because our Lord has determined that the kingdom of Heaven cannot be conferred upon any but baptised persons; which, because it is a thing that nature cannot give, it is needful to give it by the liberty of grace. But when we say that infants are to be baptised for forgiveness of sios, we do not say it with such intent as that we would seem to confirm the opinion of sin being by derivation, which is a thing far froin the Catholic sense." Pelagius and Celestius lived in the 5th century--Chrysostom also, a cotemporary of Augustine and Jerome, united with them in opposing the Pelagians, and in vindicating infant baptism.

I have now submitted such evidence in favor of the antiquity and universality of infant baptism, as is suffi. cient to convince any unprejudiced person, that it was handed down from the Apostles to their immediate successors, and so became the common practice of ancient Christians; and that, instead of our arguments being derived from the church of Rome, in support of infant baptism, they are derived from a source of information existing many centuries before the church of Rome. Mr. C. may proceed.

[Here Mr. Findley said, that he and his associate moderator thought that enough had been said on the covenants, and that after I had spoken in reply to the things last urged by Mr. Walker, we should proceed to the mode of baptism.]

I then proceeded :*

I am glad that Mr. Walker is now willing to dismiss the arguments derived from the covenants, and that he has no piore to say of my fondness to get off from this part of the controversy." I should willingly, however, have continued a little longer upon this part of the subject, as I have yet a few more questions to propose to bim. As it is, however, determined, that enough has been said on this part of the subject, and as he has now gone into a lengthy citation of testimonies from ecclesiastical history, I shall decline, in the mean time, proposing him any more questions, and proceed fortbwith to reply to his argument from history.

With regard to the answers he gave to the three last questions I proposed him, they are of a piece with his other answers. Two of them, viz. What did circumcision seal to Ishmael ? and, Had circumcision primarily

As I have already hinted, I have given a larger quantity of. citations from John P. Campbell's book on buptism, than Mr. Walker read from it. This I did on two accounts; first, because I do not recollect precisely the quotations that he read from it : and because, in the second place, I intend my reply to extend equally to Mr. Walker and his authority, John P. Campbell. This I conceive necessary, as Mr. Walker selected this work as being the best author on his side of the question, and as containing the best authority from Ecclesiastical Ilistory, hitherto exbibited in any one work. As I have always considered the argument derived from circumcision, and that derived from ecclesiastical history, the two legs which support the system of Pedo-baptists, and on which they, themselves, lay the greatest stress, and by which they gain the greatest ascendency over the minds of the unthinking mass of their adherents, I design that this work shall contain a full, a fair, and an unanswerable refu. tation of them. Whatsoever, therefore, necessary for this pur. pose, not suggested in the debate, shall appear in the appendixin the mean time, I desire that the most apparently cogent and convincing testimonies in favor of infant baptism, from History. may be reviewed ; and, in consideration of this, I am glad that John P. Campbell's book contains the best of them, and liat Mr. W. has quoted the strongest of them.

« PreviousContinue »