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prove that infant-baptism was not practised by the ancient church. As to what is alleged concerning Constantine's not
covenant. Accordingly, baptism has been put for regeneration; and regeneration, for baptism.
We have already shown, that the Jews were in the habit of baptizing the Gentile proselytes, even before the time of John and of Christ. They considered these proselytes as being, by baptism, born the children of Abraham; and therefore expressed their baptism, by regeneration, Accordingly, Christ and his apostles, on some particular occasions, adopted a similar language. Our Saviour said to Nicodemus, except one be born again-except he be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. By this new birth, Christ evidently had reference to water baptism, as truly as to the renewing of the Holy Ghost. The apostle Paul styles baptism, the washing of regeneration. The ancients commonly expressed baptism with water, by regeneration; for they considered this external sacrament as a sign of internal, spiritual renovation and purification. Irenæus expressly calls baptism regeneration, and says that infants were regenerated, that, is baptized. His testimony is plain and full; and cannot be doubted by any person acquainted with the phraseology and writings of the Fathers. He mentions not only old persons and youths, but also little ones, and even infants. This Irenæus was bishop of Lyons in France. According to Mr. Dodwell, he was born before the death of St. John-was brought up in Asia, where that apostle had lived and died. He was acquainted with Polycarp; and in his younger years, had often heard him preach. Polycarp was John's disciple, had been chosen by him to be bishop of Smyrna-and probably that angel of the church, so highly commended in the 2d chapter of Rev. Irenæus, and those christians who lived in an age so near the apostles, and in a place where one of them had so lately resided, could not be ignorant-they must have known what the apostolic practice was, with respect to infant-baptism—a matter of the most notorious and public nature.
Dr. Lathrop observes, "that Tertullian, who flourished about one hundred years after the apostles, gives a plain testimony, that the church admitted infants to baptism in his time. It is true, he advises to delay their baptism; not because it was unlawful, for he allows of it in cases of necessity; but because the sponsors were often brought into a snare; and because he imagined that sins, committed after baptism, were next to unpardonable. He accordingly advises that unmarried persons be kept from this ordinance, until they either marry or are confirmed in continence. His advising to a delay, supposes infant-baptism was practised, for otherwise there would have been no room for the advice. He does not speak of it as an innovation, which he would certainly have done, had it begun to have been practised in his time. His words rather imply the contrary. His speaking of sponsors, who engaged for the education of the infants that were baptized, shows that there had been such a custom. And his asking, "why that innocent age made such haste to baptism," supposes that infants had usually been baptized, soon after their birth. So that he fully enough witnesses to the fact, that it had been the practice of the church to baptize infants. And his advice to delay their baptism, till they were grown up and married, was one of those odd and singular notions for which this father was very remarkable."
This quotation agrees well with the account given of Tertullian, by Dr. Wall and other approved writers. Tertullian was evidently a man of abilities and learning, and in some respects an useful writer. His integrity and veracity were never questioned. But as has been hinted, he held to some strange and peculiar notions. He was not deemed perfectly orthodox by the ancient christians. Being a person of warin imagination, he expressed himself, very strongly, on dif ferent subjects, at different times; and some have thought, in a manner that was not consistent. Some of the later Baptists have even pretended that he de
being baptized till a little before his death, and Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, &c. not till they were adult: This may
nied infant-baptism. But these considerations do not disqualify him as a witness in the present case. Instead of invalidating, they serve to confirm his testimony.
Dr. Gill says, that Tertullian is the first man who mentions infant-baptism, and speaks against it; and infers that it had not come into use before his time. To this, Mr. Clark, in his answer, replies, "So he is the first man, I suppose, that "mentions the baptism of unmarried people, virgins, and widows, and speaks "against it, and as earnestly pleads for its delay till the danger of temptation is "past; till marriage, or the abatement of lust. But will it thence follow, that "the baptism of such unmarried persons did not obtain in the church till Ter"tullian's time? Or that it then first began to be in use? Our author might as "reasonably have inferred the latter opinion, as the former. But the very
words, in which he expresses his advice against baptizing infants, plainly im"ply that it was a common practice. After all, what is it that Tertullian has "said against infant-baptism? He has given it as his judgment, that it would "be more profitable to defer their baptism, until they come to riper years, and "were able to understand something of its nature and desisgn; but he does not “like the anti-pedobaptists, condemn it as unlawful; which he would have "done, if it had been a novel practice-an innovation, contrary to the rule of "scripture, or without the approbation or direction of the apostles. On the "contrary, he allows it in case of necessity, of sickness, and danger of death. "Dr. Gill, instead of saying, that Tertullian was the first man who mentioned infant-baptism, and spoke against it, ought to have said, that he was the only « man, in ail antiquity, whose writings have come down to us, who has said any "thing at all against the practice of baptizing infants." The very advice, however, which he gave, plainly shows, that infant-baptism was then commonly practised. He does not intimate, that the practice was of human invention, or not authorized by the apostles. His private opinion, with respect to the expediency of delaying baptism in several cases, and the reasons which he offered, are nothing to us. We have only cited him as a voucher to an ancient fact; and the testimony which he has given affords elear and incontestable proof of said fact, viz. that infants were baptized in his times.
Origen, who flourished in the beginning of the third century, and was for some time contemporary with Tertullian, in his 8th homily on Levit. 12, observes, “David, speaking concerning the pollution of infants, says, I was con"ceived in iniquity, and in sin did my mother bring me forth. Let it be considered "what is the reason, that whereas the baptism of the church is given for for"giveness, infants also, by the usage of the church, are baptized; when if there "were nothing in infants, which wanted forgiveness and mercy, the grace of "baptism would be needless to them. And again, infants are baptized for the "remission of sin. Of what sin? Or when have they sinned? Or how can any "reason of the laver hold good in their case? But according to that sense be"fore mentioned, none is free from pollution, though his life be only the length "of one day upon the earth. It is for this reason that infants are baptized, be
cause by the sacrament of baptism, our pollution is taken away." In another treatise, he says, "the church had a tradition, or command from the apostles, to "give baptism to infants! for they; to whom the divine mysteries were com"mitted, knew that there is, in all persons, the natural pollution of sin, which "ought to be washed away by water and the spirit; by reason of which pollu"tion, the body itself is also called the body of sin, &c. &c.
These testimonies of Origen are full and unequivocal. They put the matter in debate beyond all reasonable doubt, if any credit can be given to them; and no reason appears, why they should not be credited. It is true, they are taken from Latin translations. Origen wrote in the Greek language. But the fidelity of the translators and authenticity of these passages, have been sufficiently vin
be accounted for, by supposing that their parents did not embrace the Christian religion while they were infants: and, if
dicated by Dr. Wall, even to the entire satisfaction of all impartial enquirers. None will object, but those persons who are disposed to cavil.
I perceive that you have admitted the aforesaid facts; but have made an unusual outcry against the tradition and order from the apostles, mentioned by Origen. There is, I suspect, more policy and popularity in your remarks, than real weight. It will not do for us to turn those weapons against the ancient Fathers and holy apostles, which the protestants have used with so much success, in their disputes with the Papists.
Let us hear what St. Paul says, with respect to traditions. 2 Thess. ii. 15. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." And in the 3d chap. 6th verse, be "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, "that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and "not after the tradition which he received of us." So also in 1 Corin. 11th chap. 2d verse. "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all "things, and keep the ordinances (the traditions, paradoscis) as I delivered them to you." The apostle was here speaking of christian ordinances, which he calls traditions. The original word signifies traditions, and is so rendered by our translators in the other aforecited passages.
Thus, sir, you see in what a solemn manner-in the name of Christ, the holy apostle charged the primitive christians, to hold and keep the traditions-not merely such as had been written by the pen of inspiration, but also those which were delivered to them by word, or in an oral and verbal manner, and with particular reference to the rules and ordinances of the gospel. The traditions and commandments of mere men, which pretend to divine authority, are to be rejected. But those traditions are not to be treated with sneer and ridicule, which were delivered by the apostles to the primitive christians-recorded and authenticated by the ancient Fathers-and transmitted down to us, by the faithful historian.
Origen has expressly informed us, that infant-baptism was practised in his time. With respect to this matter of fact, Origen was certainly a competent witness; and he had every opportunity and advantage for knowing what had been the practice of his predecessors and even of the apostles. Many of the ancient Fathers were illiterate, and descended from heathen parents; and being the first of their family who embraced christianity, must have been 'baptized when adults. But Origen was one of the most learned men of the age. He was born and educated at Alexandria in Egypt, but travelled into Rome, and Greece, and Capadocia, and Arabia. He resided for some time in several of the most eminent churches, and spent the greatest part of his life in Syria and Pa lestine. His ancestors were christians. Eusebius tells us, that his forefathers had been christians, for several generations. His father was nartyred, in the persecution under Severus.
It is very remarkable, that his pedigree should have been so accurately ascer tained. The occasion was this: Porphyry, a great enemy to christianity, had represented the christians as being an ignorant people, destitute of science; but not being able to conceal the repute of Origen, for his uncommon skill in human literature, pretended that he had been at first a heathen, and had learned their philosophy. In order to confute this falsehood, Eusebius enquired into his ancestry, and set forth his christian descent.
Origen was born in the year of our Lord 185, that is, eighty-five years after the apostles. He was seventeen years old when his father suffered martyrdom. He had himself, undoubtedly, been baptized in his infancy; and must have been informed concerning the practice of the apostles, respecting the baptizing of infants; for his grandfather, or at least his great-grandfather, lived in the apos tolic times, and they both were christians. This is the man, who has expressly
that were true, they ought not to be baptized till they could give up themselves to God by faith: This a late learned
declared, that infants were baptized in his day, and that the church was directed by an order or tradition from the apostles, to baptize them. His circumstances were such as afforded him all the necessary and suitable means for obtaining information. We have no reason to suspect his credibility as a witness; and nothing can be more unreasonable, than to reject or treat his testimony with contempt. It is a circumstance worthy of our very particular notice, that Origen and the other ancient Fathers do not speak of infant-baptism as being a practice that was denied or opposed by any one. They mention it as a practice generally known and approved, and for the purpose of illustrating and confirming other points that were then disputed.
I shall now produce the testimony of the blessed martyr Cyprian, who was for some time contemporary with Origen; and next to him, the most noted christian writer of that age. Cyprian was constituted bishop or minister of Carthage, in the year 248, and Origen died in the year 252. The testimony of this ancient saint, to which I now have an immediate reference, was occasioned by a question proposed to him, by one Fidus, a presbyter, or minister in the country, viz. Whether an infant might be baptized before he was eight days old? The reason of his doubt, it seems, was an article in the law respecting circumcision, which, under the Old Testament dispensation, required that infants should be circumcised on the eighth day from their birth. Pursuant to the aforesaid question, an ecclesiastical council of sixty-six bishops, having convened at Carthage, A. D. 253, Cyprian proposed a resolution of the following import, viz. "that an infant might be baptized on the second or third day, or at any time after its birth; and that circumcision, besides being a sacramental "rite, had something in it of a typical nature; and particularly, in the circum"stance of being administered on the eighth day, which ceased at the coming of "Christ, who has given us baptism, the spiritual circumcision; in which ordinance, we are not thus restricted, with respect to the age or time of adminis "tration." To this resolution the council agreed unanimously; as it appears from the testimony of Cyprian in his epistle to Fidus, from which I shall extract a few paragraphs, in order to show the sentiments of those venerable and ancient saints relative to infant-baptism.-The inscription is as follows:
"Cyprian and the rest of the colleagues, who are present in council, in num"ber sixty-six, to Fidus our brother,
"As to the case of infants, whereas you judge that they must not be baptized "within two or three days after they are born; and that the law of the ancient cir"cumcision is to be observed; so that you think none should be baptized and sancti“fied, until the eighth day after their birth; we were all in our assembly of a quite "different opinion. For in this matter, with respect to that which you thought "fitting to be done, there was not one of your mind. But all of us rather judged, "that the grace and mercy of God is not to be denied to any person born. For "whereas our Lord in his gospel, the Son of Man came not to destroy men's souls "(or lives) but to save them. That the eighth day, appointed to be observed in "the Jewish circumcision, was a type going before in a shadow, or resemblance, "but on Christ's coming was fulfilled in the substance; for because the eighth "day, that is the next after the Sabbath, was to be the day on which the Lord "was to rise from the dead, and quicken us, and give us the spiritual circum"cision. This eighth day, that is, the next to the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, "went before in the type, which type ceased when the substance came, and the "spiritual circumcision was given to us. So that we judge, no person is to be "hindered from obtaining the grace, (that is of baptism) by the law which is "now established; and that the spiritual circumcision ought not to be re"strained by the circumcision which was according to the flesh; but that all "are to be admitted to the grace of Christ; since Peter, speaking in the Acts
writer attempts to prove *. Moreover, some who have been converted, have neglected baptism, out of a scruple they have
* See Wall's History of Infant-Baptism, Part II. page 52–86.
"of the apostles, says, the Lord hath shown me that no person is to be called common or unclean. This, therefore, dear brother, was our opinion in the assembly, "that it is not for us to hinder any person from baptism, and from the grace of "God, who is merciful, and kind, and affectionate to all. Which rule, as it "holds for all, so we think it is more especially to be observed in reference to "infants, and those that are newly born, to whom our help and the divine mercy "is rather to be granted, because by their weeping and wailing at their first en"trance into the world, they do intimate nothing so much as that they implore "compassion," &c.
Saint Ambrose, who wrote about 274 years after the apostles, declares expressly, "that infant-baptism was practised in his time, and in the time of the "apostles."
Saint Chrysostom observes, "that persons may be baptized either in their in"fancy, in middle age, or in old age."-He tells us, infants were baptized, al"though they had no sin; and that the sign of the cross was made upon their "foreheads at baptism."-Saint Hierome says, "if infants be not baptized, the "sin of omitting their baptism is laid to the parent's charge."-Saint Austin, who wrote at the same time, about 280 years after the apostles, speaks "of infant"baptism as one of those practices which was not instituted by any council, but "had always been in use. The whole church of Christ, he informs us, had con
stantly held that infants were baptized for the forgiveness of sin."-That he "had never read or heard of any Christian, Catholic or sectary, who held other"wise."-"That no christian, of any sort, ever denied it to be useful or neces"sary." If any one," saith he, " should ask for divine authority in this matter, "though that, which the whole church practises, and which has not been insti"tuted by councils, but was ever in use, may be believed, very reasonably, to be "a thing delivered or ordered by the apostles, yet we may, besides, take a true "estimate, how much the sacrament of baptism does avail infants, by the cir"cumcision which God's former people received."
No one of these ancient Fathers ever wrote directly in favour of, or against, infant-baptism. In their various discourses and writings, they often mention it, occasionally and transiently, when discoursing on some other subject-They mention it as a general practice of universal notoriety, about which there was no controversy, in order to confute some prevailing heresy, or establish certain doctrines, that were then disputed. Similar testimonies might easily be produced from the writings of many other ancient witnesses, but this would unnecessarily add to the prolixity of the present work. I will therefore conclude, by stating very briefly, the incontestible and conclusive evidence in proof of infantbaptism, arising out of the well-known Pelagian controversy respecting original sin, which happened about three hundred years after the apostles.
Pelagius held, that infants were born free from any natural and sinful defilements. The chief opposers of him and his adherents were Saint Hierome, and Saint Austin, who constantly urged, very closely, in all their writings upon the subject, the following argument, viz. "That infants are, by all christians, ac"knowledged to stand in need of baptism, which must be in them for original sin, "since they have no other.” "If they have no sin, why are they then baptized, "according to the rule of the church, for the forgiveness of sins? Why are they "washed in the laver of regeneration, if they have no pollution ?" Pelagius, and also Celestius, one of his principal abettors, were extremely puzzled and embarrassed with this argument. They knew not how to evade or surmount its force, but by involving themselves in greater absurdities and difficulties. Some persons aggravated the supposed error, by charging upon them the denial of infant-baptism, as a consequence that followed from their tenet. Pelagius dis