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have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?” Consider the very general and comprehensive terms in which the people are said to have come to be baptized. Matt. iii. 5, 6. “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” This account most naturally admits the supposition, that the inhabitants of those places came, usually at least, with their families. The disciples there went out to meet John, as the disciples at Tyre did to take farewell of Paul, of whom it is said, Acts xxi. 5, 6. “they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore and prayed. And, when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship, and they returned home again.” See also Matth. xiv. 21. xv. 38.
The same latitude of language is always used respecting the administration of Baptism by the disciples of Christ. John iii. 25, 26. “ There arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all come to him.” John iv. 1-3. When, therefore, the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.” The two foregoing passages evidently imply, that Baptism was dispensed in the same extensive
manner, by the disciples of Christ, as it was by John the Baptist.—The case of the little children brought to Jesus, as narrated Matth. xix. 18—15. entirely agrees with this view.* The question put by the Pharisees, in the third verse, tempting our Lord, “ is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause ?" was well calculated to sow dissention in a multitude, consisting of men, with their wives and
* I beg the attention of the reader to the following observations on the parallel passage from Mr. Hallet's. Scripture Doctrine of Circumcision and Baptism,' in the 3d Vol. of his Notes on several Texts of Scripture, page 322, “ God now, under the gospel, takes some infants into covenant with him, and is their God, and so will give them eternal life. This will very plainly appear from Mark x. 14. where our Lord says, Suffer the little children (so little as that he took them up in his arms, ver. 16.) to come unto me, and forbid them not : for of such is the kingdom of God. That is to say, The kingdom of God belongs to, or comprehends such infants as these : or, if any one would have the words so stiffly rendered, Such's is the kingdom of God, like Their's is the kingdom of heaven, Matth. v. 3.
“ Some, to evade the force of this text, would suppose, that by the word such, Christ here means (not such infants as those he had in his arms, but) such grown persons as were like those infants in simplicity and innocence. But, according to this interpretation, they will never be able to make out the force of our Sa. viour's argument.
They represent our Saviour as saying, The kingdom of God is their’s, who are harmless like infants, therefore suffer the infants to come to me. According to these men, our Saviour would have said the same thing if men had brought him lambs or doves, • Suffer the doves to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of God, i. e. Suffer the doves to come to me: for, though the kingdom of God is not their's, yet it belongs to such as are harmless as doves.' But it cannot be thought our divine Saviour would talk and argue at this rate. It is plain, then, he
children. After replying to this question, no dispute arose about the baptizing of the children ; for the disciples of Christ never thought of forbidding the children to be brought to THEM, which they would be, (John iv. 2.) in order to be baptized. They only objected to their being brought also to their Master, “ that he should put his hands on them and pray.” While some urge our Saviour's permission, as countenancing infant Baptism; others think they repel the argument, when they remark, that Baptism is not the subject of the passage at all. True, it is not mentioned in the passage, but our Saviour's condescension, which the passage does mention, and which he so beautifully displays both to children and to parents, is by no means EXCLUSIVE of the Baptism of the former, but apparently in ADDITION to it.-In like manner, when Jesus said unto Zaccheus, Luke xix. 9, 10.“ This day is salvation come to THIS HOUSE, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham ; for the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost;" there is every reason to believe, that "he was baptized, he and all his, straightway."—We have to add, that there is ample room for supposing family Baptism to be included, in the comprehensive terms of our Saviour's final commission, Matt. xxviii. 18– 20. “ And Jesus coming near, spake to them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, unto the end of the world. Amen." When we consider how many things there are which Jesus himself did, which are not written in the gospel histories, (John xx. 30. and xxi. 25.) we cannot wonder at the brevity of the accounts of the subordinate practice of the disciples in dispensing Baptism to believers and their houses.
intended to say, that such infants as those in his arms belonged to the kingdom of God. And thus our Saviour's argument appears to be very strong and conclusive, viz. Since such infants as these have the kingdom of God for their's, and so have him for their God, let them be brought to me: it is fit I should take notice of them, and give them my blessing, as members of my Father's kingdom.'— The meaning seems to be, of such kind of infants as these is the kingdom of God, that is, of such infants as have been partakers of the seal of the covenant, of such infants as have been baptized, or, at least circumcised like these. Dr. Gale positively -says, They were unbaptized infants : but he offers no proof. Sure I am, it is possible they might have been baptized, since it is cer. tain fact, that our Lord had practised Baptism among the Jews, almost four years before this, John iii. 22. So that if he practised infant Baptism, these infants that were brought to him, might have been such as were baptized by his disciples: and then it would have been very natural for him to have said, Of such baptized infants as these is the kingdom of God: suffer them, therefore, to come to me.' But be this as it will, there can be no doubt but that these infants, if males, had been circumcised : and then our Saviour's meaning may most naturally be supposed to have been, · Such circumcised infants as these, have the Almighty for their God, are heirs of his future kingdom, and members of his church ; and therefore do not hinder me from receiving and blessing them.' After all, thus much is certain, that some infants, now under the gospel, belong to God's kingdom, and have him for their God. And this will be sufficient to my present purpose.".
The language of the Acts of the Apostles, on the subject of Baptism, previously to the history of the propagation of the gospel among the Gentiles, in which family Baptism is first mentioned, is always equally comprehensive with that of the gospels. Acts ii. 38, 39. “ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and
shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The promise was, that in confirmation of salvation, (namely, “the remission of sins,") they should “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Now, this promise was made to families: to parents and children, to children under age, and to superannuated old men, to the bond as well as the free, and to both sexes alike. These classes included, as we shall have occasion to remark again, all the descriptions of persons which belonged to the family of Abraham, namely, parents, children, and servants. Acts ii. 17. “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants, (bondmen,) and on my handmaidens, (bondwomen,) I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” When, after saying, “the promise is unto you and to your children,” the apostle added, and “to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call;" although, probably, he was not aware at the time what