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all ordinances are to be performed with this view, that they may be rendered effectual means of grace. And from hence it
viii. 20. And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. Once more, chap. ix. 8, 9, 12, 13. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you. And God said, This is the token of the covenant I do set my bow in the cloud. Ilence we further learn,
That the covenant or divine charter, first given to Noah, included the preceding; it was the same covenant with additional grunts for the Lord says, "I will establish my covenant." Lest Noah should infer that the drowning of the world in wrath disannulled the well known covenant, God dissipates his fears, by saying, "I will establish my covenant."
On Noah's account, or as belonging to him, all his house or family was privileg ed. The privilege is," Come thou, and all thy house into the ark." The ground and reason of that privilege-" for thee have I seen righteous." It is true, the natural dictates of reason and affection, whereby a father pitieth his children, and whereby an infidel careth for his own, especially those of his own house, would have prompted this righteous person to bring all his family, (except any adults refused compliance) into the ark, (the like figure whereunto is baptism, as an inspired teacher assures us, 1 Pet. iii. 21.) yet the Lord was pleased to brighten his evidence and strengthen his obligations of duty by express revelation.
After the flood the institution of sacrifices continued as the seal of the first part of the covenant; and the rainbow was instituted as the seal of the additional part, or, as Pareus calls it, "appendix of the covenant of grace." And here it is worthy of notice, that as the first exhibition of the covenant and its seals respected the offspring of faderati, and the renewal or establishment of it to Noah retained that privilege in full force: so also the appendix of the covenant comprehended his seed.
Respecting this appendix of the covenant of which the rainbow was the seal, though we suppose, with Witsius, it was not formally and precisely the covenant of grace; yet we observe, with the same excellent author, "it does not ce scem consistent with the divine perfections, to make such a covenant with eve
ry living creature, but on supposition of a covenant of grace, and having a res"pect to it." And as this covenant, in its universality, implied the covenant of grace, we are not to deny, but the promises of it were also sealed to Noah and his seed by the rainbow. See Rev. iv. 3. x. 8.
It is observable, finally, that Noah his sons, and their seed were faderati, in this ratification of the covenant; consequently whatever seals of the covenant belonged to Noah, belonged to his sons, and their seed, while non-dissentients.
Appeal we next to a very important period of sacred history, viz. From Abraham to Moses. On this also we make the following remarks.
The Abrahamic covenant included the preceding dispensations, on the general principle-that grants and privileges continue in force until repealed. Which repealing, if it be not either express, or arise from the nature of the case, in itself plain, can have no binding influence, that is to say, no existence at all: except we maintain, that we are bound to resign an important good without an assignable cause, which is in fact to maintain that we ought to deny that to be, which is.
I suppose it will be granted, that the principal blessing exhibited in the foregoing dispensations was the righteousness of faith; the great importance of which to the human race, in every age of the world, no one will deny who considers things as they are. This covenant, therefore, was in force to Abraham prior to what is called the Abrahamic dispensation; and in this connexion we might mention Lot and his family. But, behold,
A most explicit ratification of it, with superadded favours, Gen. xii. 3.—In thee shall all fumilies of the earth be blessed. And I will establish my covenant be
may be inferred, as is observed in this answer, that infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, profess
tween me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; To be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. ver. 10. This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee: every man-child among you shall be circumcised. ver. 12. He that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man-child in your generations; he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. ver. 24-27. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the self-same day was Abraham circumeised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and Bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him. Hence we learn,
The nature and extent of the Abrahamic covenant or promise. Whatever bles sings are promised to ruined man, must be in virtue of the covenant of grace. All promised blessings, therefore, must imply an exhibition of gospel grace. And the glad tidings of salvation through Christ preached to the gentile world, is expressly called-The blessing of Abrahum (Gal. iii. 14.) Not that this link is the first in the chain of exhibited mercy to the fallen race in general, or with an universal and unlimited aspect, if the reasoning in the last sections be just: but for its explicitness, and precious (because expressly diffusive) intendment, it may be justly termed a golden link. In this respect Abraham may well be styledThe Father of us all, not to the disavowal of Noah, with whom the covenant was before ratified, or Eve, who received the first intimation of it, and who in this respect eminently may be called-The mother of all living. The covenant of grace, in its external manifestation, containing an exhibition of exceed ing great and precious promises to every human being on the face of the globe, to whom providence directs the joyful news, may be compared to a flowing stream: it proceeds ultimately from the immense ocean of sovereign grace in Christ; its first visible source we trace to paradise, where it rises in a small spring, and glides on to Noah. During this part of its progress, there were but few comparatively who participated of its cleansing and healing virtues, though none were debarred from it. This continuing to glide along, without interruption, (notwithstanding God's awful visitation of a corrupt world by the deluge) we discern through the person of Noah another source, whence is poured forth a second stream which empties itself into the former channel. The streams thus united become a river, which flows on to Abraham-a river to which all are invited, but few come, and these made willing by the omnipotent energy of divine influence which observes the laws of another-a hidden dispensation, running parallel as it were with the former; which was also the case in the preceding period. Then, through the highly honoured person of Abraham we behold another mighty spring copiously pouring forth the waters of salvation, and again uniting itself to the former river; and from him to Christ, with a wide majestic flow, it proceeds along the consecrated channel of the Jewish nation; gradually in creasing by the accession of other streams, till it arrives at the Saviour's finished work; where, impatient of confinement, it breaks over its banks on every side, and the healing waters flow to the most distant regions-That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles. (Gal. iii. 14, 8. compared with Gen. xii. 3. xviii. 18. xxii. 18.) Paul expressly says, that "the Gospel (even the very same as the New Testament contains-ealvation by Grace) "was preached to Abra"ham:” And (Heb. iv. 2.) it was preached to his unbelieving descendants in the wilderness.
As it is natural to expect, that whatever exhibition of privileges the parents enjoyed should be extended to their children, in common with themselves; s we find that in fact they are expressly included in this dispensation as well as the preceding. The covenant is established between God and Abraham's seed, in the very same sense as with Abraham himself; the essence of which is--tɔ be a Cod
ing faith in Christ, are to be baptized; since one parent has as much a right to the child as the other: Therefore, the unbe
to him and his seed And lest it should be objected that the term seed refers to his adult posterity who should tread in his steps, to the exclusion of infants, all doubt is dissipated by the appointment of applying the seal of the covenant in early infancy.
Sacrifices continuing in full force to seal the covenant, till the divine oblation should be made; and the bow of the covenant continuing as a token and seal of it, until the Messiah's second coming; at the commencement of this period is given an additional seal-circumcision. The very nature of the rite shews that all females are excluded from being the subjects of it; as well as the discriminating specification-every man-child. Here observe in general, that children, in this rite, have the same privileges as their parents. The males are treated as Abraham, and the females as Sarah: These therefore, had the covenant sealed in the same manner as their honoured mother. Again: though Sarah and her sex were not the subjects of this rite, they were constant witnesses to the institution; and therefore there was an important sense in which circumcision was a seal to Sarah and her daughters; a sense analagous to that in which sacrifices were.
Every domestic head being, in truth, a prophet, priest, and king, in his own family; a question must arise, Whether the covenant and its seals are restricted to the parent head of the family, and his children, or else extended to the other domestics? Nor would the question be unimportant; for his instructions, his prayers, and commands, answerable to his three-fold office, must be directed accordingly. To this question right reason replies: If the covenant and its seals are beneficial to all capable subjects, benevolence requires that they should be extended to the other non-dissenting members-except forbidden by indisputable authority. This is the voice of reason; and we find that this is the voice of God. The privilege is common to the seed, and to him that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of the seed, Gen. xvii. 12.
It has been objected." that the covenant with Abraham was a covenant of peculiarity only, and that circumcision was no more than a token of that covenant;" but if so, as Mr. Henry observes," how came it that all proselytes, of what nation
soever, even the strangers, were to be circumcised; though not being of any "of the tribes, they had no part or lot in the land of Canaan? The extending the "seal of circumcision to proselyted strangers, and to their seed, was a plain indi"cation, that the New Testament administration of the covenant of grace would "reach, not to the covenanters only, but their seed." But it has been proved that circumcision sealed to Abraham and his seed the righteousness of faith, and therefore it does not affect the point in debate to contend that temporal promi
ses were sealed also.
We next appeal to the long and interesting period from Moses to Christ, On which let the following observations be considered.
Whatever appertained to the Abrahamic covenant was not disannulled by the Mosaic dispensation. This St. Paul asserts in plain terms, Gal. iii. 17.
It may not be amiss to take notice, before we proceed, of Job's family; who, being as is generally supposed, cotemporary with Moses, and unconnected with his history, deserves a previous regard. Of him it is said, that "he sanctified his
children, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings, accord"ing to the number of them all-Thus did Job continually," or, all the days. (Job i. 5.) On this I would only observe, let the sanctifying be what it may, the sacrifices must have been of divine institution; and used by Job, being an eminently righteous man, as the seals of the covenant of grace; with respect to his children separately.
Superadded to the foregoing seals of the covenant, is the passover; a divine rite of the nature of a sacrifice, instituted in memory of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, representing and sealing spiritual blessings. "As to the guests, says "Witsius, they were, first, all native Israelites, who were not excluded by legal
lief of one does not exclude the other from giving it up to God by faith, in hope of its obtaining the saving blessings of the covenant of grace. 1 Cor. vii. 14.
2. The right of the infant-seed of believers to baptism, may be farther proved, from their being capable of the privileges
"uncleanness. For all the congregation of Israel is commanded to solemnize the passover. And, next, the Proselytes circumcised and become Jews; whether "bondmen born in the house or bought with money, &c. Exod. xii. 48. When a <c stranger will sojourn with thee, and keep the passover to the Lord, let all his "males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it, and he shall be as “one that is born in the land.” On this passage in Exodus, Dr. Jennings observes these two things: "First, That when a man thus became a Proselyte, all his "males were to be circumcised as well as himself, whereby his children were ad"mitted into the visible church of God, in his right, as their father. Secondly, "That upon this, he should be entitled to all the privileges and iminunities of the "Jewish church and nation as well as be subject to the whole law: He should "be as one born in the land." In short; not only men and women, but also young children partook of this ordinance, as soon as they were capable of answering the revealed design of it, for-no positive rule was given them on this head, like that of circumcision. It is manifest that since the injunction respected not only individuals of such a description, but also families as such, every member without exception had a legal right to the ordinance; and nothing prevented infants from a participation, but what lay in the natural incapacity to answer the design of it. "Besides the ordinary and universal sacraments of circumcision and the passo"ver, some extraordinary symbols of divine grace were granted to the Israelites "in the wilderness, which in the New Testament are applied to Christ and his "benefits, and said to have the same signification with our sacraments. And "they are in order these-The passage in the cloud through the Red Sea-the "manna which was rained from heaven-The water issuing out of the rock→→→ " and the brazen serpent erected by Moses for the cure of the Israelites." To this we may add, among other things, with the author now referred to-the clear and familiar display of the divine majesty and the adumbration of divine mysteries daily sealed by religious ceremonies. Our subject does not call for an investi gation of these particulars, but I would remark in general, that the principle for which we contend, is so far from being weakened, that it is abundantly corroborated by the inspired testimony of every dispensation, and the Mosaic in particular-That it is a common dictate of right reason, children should from their earliest infancy share in their parents' privileges, as far as they are capable, when no positive authority contravenes it.
From the preceding induction of sacred evidence in favour of children being sharers of the seals of grace in common with their parents, we conclude, that for the space of four thousand years, that is to say, from the creation to Christ, was a rule universally incumbent on parents to treat their children as entitled to religious privileges equally with themselves, according to their capacity.-And as a counterpart of what was observed of privileges, we may remark that, in vir tue of the same uniform principle, often when the parents were punished with excommunication or death, their infant children were included with them. As might be instanced in-the deluge-the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah→→→ the case of Achan the Son of Zerah (Josh. vii. 24.)-the matter of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram-the case of the conquered nations (Deut. xx. 16, 17.)-and many more instances, down to the destruction of Jerusalem. Far be it from us to suppose, that the parents' crimes and impenitence made their suffering children incapable of mercy-that mercy which proceeds on an invisible plan, and belongs to a purely spiritual dispensation. Yet, that children, during their dependence on their parents, should share equally with thers in judgment and mercies externally, is the effect of an all-wise constitution coeval with mankind.
DR. WILLIAMS ON BAPTISM.
signified therein; and under an indispensable obligation to perform the duties which they, who dedicate them to God, make a public profession of, as agreeable to the design of this ordinance. None are to be excluded from any of those ordinances, which Christ has given to the church, but they who are either in a natural or a moral sense, to be deemed incapable subjects thereof. Some, indeed, are incapable of engaging in ordinances, by reason of a natural unmeetness for them, as infants are not to be admitted to the Lord's supper, as being under a natural incapacity; and, ignorant and profane persons are not to be admitted to it, as being under a moral incapacity; and, for the same reason, a wicked man, when adult, is not a proper subject of baptism: But if there be neither of these bars to exclude persons, they are not to be denied the advantage of any ordinance. This, I think will be allowed by all; and therefore, the only thing I need prove is, that infants are not incapable of the principal things signified in baptism. That they are not incapable of being dedicated to God, has been proved under the last head; and now we shall consider several privileges that are signified therein, which they are equally capable of; as,
(1.) Baptism is an external sign of that faith and hope which he has, that dedicates a person to God, that the person dedicated, shall obtain the saving blessings of the covenant of grace; Now, that infants are capable of these blessings, none will deny, who suppose them capable of salvation. If we suppose infants not to have regenerating grace, which is neither to be affirmed or denied, it being a matter, at present, unknown to us; yet they are capable of having it, for the reason but now assigned; and though they cannot at present, put forth any acts of grace, they will be capable thereof, as soon as they are able to discern between good and evil.
They are not excluded by their infant-state, from being under Christ's special care; which is, doubtless, to be extended to elect infants as well as others; and they are capable of being discharged from the guilt of original sin, though not of laying claim to this privilege, which they may be enabled to do afterwards. Now, if infants are capable of these privileges, certainly the person who dedicates them to God, (who has a right to do it, inasmuch as they are his property, and he is able to do it by faith) may devote them to him, with the exercise of this grace, and a fiducial expectation that they shall obtain these privileges: And, indeed, when we engage in this ordinance, we ought to expect some saving blessings, as the consequence hereof, as much as when we engage in any other ordinance of divine appointment.
Object. It is objected to this, that though a person may de