« FöregåendeFortsätt »
make, our Catechism asks,-Why infants are baptized, when by reason of their tender age they cannot perform these promises? Sureties promise for them, which promise, when they come to age, themselves are bound to perform. These observations lead us to say a few words upon the baptism of infants, and their sureties, or, as they are commonly called, Godfathers and Godmothers.
We have observed that circumcision was a type of baptism, and that infants were circumcised; therefore it is very reasonable that they should also be baptized. It was the custom of the Jews to baptize their infants, and had it not been the will of the Saviour he would have forbidden it. On the contrary, when the disciples would have kept the little children away from Jesus, his answer is, "Suffer the little children and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven'.' And did he not command the apostles to go forth and baptize all nations? and are
1 Matt. xix. 14.
we to suppose that these nations did not contain any children? Had it not been the will of the Saviour for children to have been admitted into the Christian covenant, he would have certainly stated the age, when their initiation should have taken place. But the command was inclusive. "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The argument is equally applicable, when we read of households being baptized. The baptism of the jailor at Philippi by Paul corroborates the doctrine; for after having washed the stripes of Paul and Silas, he was baptized, he and all his, straightway." But since many households' were baptized, we cannot suppose that none of them contained children, and as we do not read of their being made exceptions, we may conclude, that they among the rest were baptized.
Again, St. Paul in his first Epistle to the
1 Vide Acts xvi. 15. 33. 1 Cor. i. 16.
Corinthians' writes; "Else were your children unclean, but now they are holy." It has been shown from several places of the Old Testament, that to sanctify or make holy, was a common expression among the Jews for baptizing and purifying': and it was an equally common phrase with the Fathers to say, that an infant was sanctified or made holy when he was baptized. The writers of the ages next to the apostles, bear unanimous testimony in favour of infant baptism. Indeed, if we are exhorted to train up a child in the way that he should go, and to bring him up in the fear and culture of the Lord, how can we the better do so than by presenting infants to him, and making them at once Christians? We are willing to do every thing for them respecting their temporal good; why should we not therefore have as much concern about their spiritual? If the Saviour of the world took the little children up in his arms and blessed them, with what confidence may we offer them to 1 Ch. vii. 14.
2 Vide Dr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism.
God to be renewed by his spiritual grace, and made partakers of the privileges and the blessings of the Gospel? It were better, said our Saviour, that a mill-stone were hanged about the neck of the man, who shall offend one of the little ones that believeth in me, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea1.
But let us say a few words about the sureties, or Godfathers and Godmothers. If infants are to be baptized, and enter into a covenant with God, it is very clear, that they must require some persons to do so in their names, which persons give security to the Church, and promise, that they shall not apostatize; they are, as it were, bound for them; they give their promise that the children will renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil; which promise they themselves are bound to fulfil, as much as lieth in them by the grace and power of God. Godfathers and Godmothers are thus of the greatest possible use, not that they are to interfere with the parents respecting the
1 Matt. xviii. 6.
education of their children; but if they find this to be neglected, it is their duty to exhort them and to remind them of the solemn vow and promise they made for them at their baptism; or if the children are left orphans in the world, the Godfathers and Godmothers are to step forward and to supply as much as is in their power, their place. At such a time they become invaluable. Many a child is saved from the evils of the world, through the instrumentality of a kind and pious God-parent. Then is the time that their services are most efficient and indispensable. They look upon the orphans as their own children; and these look up to them as their lawful protectors and guardians. They bring them up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord, educating them in the principles and tenets of Christianity, so that when they are of age they may take upon themselves the responsibility of the terms of the covenant, that was made for them in their tender days. The utility of Godfathers and Godmothers appears to be so great, that it is not needful for us to dwell further upon