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Amongst his specifications the following are deserving of notice: The first is a prediction of Isaiah, intimating that a time would come in which the wolf and the lamb would feed together-in which God would create new heavens and a new earth-increase
and comforts of his people and bless their offspring. He next relies upon the words of the Saviour to those who were inhi. biting parents from bringing their children to the Lord for the imposition of his hands and a benediction. The next is Peter's assurance to the Jews that the promise of the Holy Spirit was tendered to the believing Jews and their descendants or children. And then the argument of Paul to those who would have some believing wives or husbands to separate from their unbelieving partners. To the last of these only need we now advert, as the others have been already examined in our last Tract. Indeed, the promise quoted from Isaiah for the sake of the phrase, “and their offspring with them,” and that from Acts ii, “The promise is to you and your children,” are but a puerile play upon the words children and offspring, as if offspring and children were identical with speechless babes. These terms generally mean our descendants. We are at eighty years the children of our fathers—just as much their offspring at eighty years as eight days. These are so palpably a begging of the question, that it would be only an idle parade of words to expose them.
But the sentence, 1 Cor. vii. 14., calls for a special notice, as we have formerly adduced it as a conclusive argument against the slightest probability of infant baptism as either taught or thought of in the apostolic age. It stands before the public unresponded to in my discussion with Mr. Rice. The words are—"The unbelieving husband is sanctified by” (or to) “the wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified bý” (or to) “the husband; else were your children unclean; but now are the holy.” Booth, in his "Pedo baptism Examined,” adduces more than twenty of our most distinguished critics, reformers, and commentators; amongst whom are Melancthon, Whitby, Camerarius, Wolfius, Vitringa, &c., in proof that the holiness or sanctification of the unbelieving party and their children here is not that of the new. covenant nor of church relation; but as bread is "sanctified by the word of God and prayer," so is this relations anctified as respects matrimonial intimacies. The marriage relation and those growing out of it are not to be dissolved, but are lawful and proper, though one of the parties should not be converted to God with the other. For, were it otherwise, your offspring would be unclean and not to be endured; but now are they holy or sanctified to you. Two things must appear obvious,
as we conceive, from this passage: First, That the unbelieving parent and the child were in the same sense sanctified or holy to the other party; and in the second place, that, as the Apostle changes the address from the third person to the second, he includes all the infants born to the church in Corinth. “Your," not their "children," said the Apostle, are not to be judged unclean and to be repudiated:.but to be regarded as worthy of your care, protection, and support.
Now had infant baptism been ordained in the primitive church, all infants would have been alike consecrated by it, and the Apostle could not have said, “Else were your children unclean;" for that could not have been supposed had they been baptized. Thus it is manifest from this passage alone, that infant church membership and infant baptism were alike unknown and unthought of in the age of the Apostles.
But to make infant holiness a passport to baptism, is not only unsupported but unsupportable by any plausible proof deduced from the New Testament. Infant holiness, in a covenant sense a prerequisite to baptism, is certainly, so far as the oracles of Christ and his Apostles are regarded, a new idea. What a strange argument Dr. Miller puts into the mouth of Peter! Dr. Luke makes him say, “Be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins;"_Doctor Ananias says to Paul, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins.” But Dr.Miller says, 'Arise and be baptized, you innocent babes, and wash yourselves, because you are relatively holy, and are actually born members of the church.'*
Dr. Miller's tenth and last argument for infant baptism is, “Finally, the history of the Christian church from the apostolic age furnishes an argument of irresistible force in favor of the divine authority of infant baptism."
Of this argument we cannot say much. We have already noticed it in our last Tract, and shown that there is no historic evidence of infant baptism till the third century. When first named, too, it was opposed as an innovation. And what is no little remarkable, infant communion at the Lord's table is as well authenticated from the annals of the church of the same century as it is. Nay, more, the monastic life, or perpetual celibacy, constitutes another of its coevals, and virginity becomes as efficacious to gain heaven and glory as faith in Christ or his resurrection from the dead. Infant baptism, infant communion, perpetual virginity, are of the same origin and of the same century, as we may hereafter show, and I hope to the conviction of some who have long been imposed on by the alleged high antiquity of infant church membership and infant baptism. We have not yet bid adieu to Dr. Miller of Princeton. We only bid him good-bye in hope of listenihg to him on some other branch of the subject. But our present sheet is full.
A. C. * Dr. Miller quotes with approbation the late Dr. Mason of New York, who took the bold and presumptive ground that "the infants of believing persons are born members of his church." p. 32. Query-If they are born inembers of the church, how can baptism be the door of admission?
INTERPRETTION OF THE SCRIPTURES-N0. V. The true interpretation of the scriptures is a matter of which it is difficult to overrate the importance. In a certain point of view it may be said, indeed, that all the great controverted points which have, for so many ages, agitated Christendom, are mere questions of scripture interpretation. The Romanist appeals to the word of God: so does the Protestant. Nay, each party of Protestants contends that it alone has discovered the true meaning of the divine communications to men. A difference of sentiment as to the import of the single word "baptism,” has had the effect of separating the whole Christian community into great divisions. There is, indeed, scarcely a party, great or small, that we shall not find, upon examination, to be based ultimately upon a few biblical criti. cisms. The very distinctions or characteristics which belong to the present effort at reformation, may thus be resolved finally into proper definitions of a few scriptural terms,—such as Law, Gospel, Testimony, Faith, Regeneration, Salvation.
It being admitted, that, in the scriptures, God has addressed himself to men in human language, to ascertain what he has said becomes at once the great object of biblical study. Words are, therefore, of the utmost consequence, not intrinsically, but as the only means through which we can attain a knowledge of the divine will. They are important as the depositions of the things of life and salvation which are treasured in them. And as, in former days, an angel directed the first Gentile convert to send for Peter, “who,"' said he, “shall tell thee words whereby thou shalt be saved,” so . even yet, it is from words we must obtain the knowledge of truth, and the hope of heaven.
It was by the words of Satan that the human mind was first deceived; and it is by the words of God, that it is disabused of error. As language was the medium through which the ruin of man was effected, it is also made, with great propriety, the medium of his restoration. Not that we suppose this correspondence instituted merely for its own sake, but as highly proper in itself, and as arising from the very constitution of man himself, as a being possessed of language, and dependent almost wholly upon words in the reception and communication of thoughts. So that, as it was perfectly in harmony with human nature, that Satan addressed himself to Eve in human language, so it is equally consonant with this nature, that SERIES.III.-VOLV
God should employ human language in accomplishing human salvation.
The reflection that God has thus made his word the means through which alone we can attain that knowledge which leads to • the enjoyment of eternal life, ought certainly to secure for that divine word, the most reverential and earnest regard. It should, in our hands, be free as well from the corrupting interpolations of interested criticism, as from the perverting glosses of sectarian bigotry; from the hasty misconceptions of dogmatic ignorance, as from the wilsul misrepresentations of blind disbelief. It should be approached with all the humility of conscious imperfection, and with the devotion of hearts, filled with adoration to its Author. It should be heard and pondered as the inspired oracle that imparts celestial wisdom, and admits the human soul to sweet and high communion with the Infinite.
In the interpretation of the scriptures, these conditions are indis. pensable on the part of him who would truly comprehend the sacred volume. On the part of the scriptures themselves nothing is needed but an approved version. As we stated in a former number, we have to dread no fallacies in the word of God. It is against ourselves we must be upon our guard. We have to watch against our own imperfections in knowledge and capacity; our own prejudices and pre-conceptions; our own proneness to hasty and erroneous conclusions; our own unfitness for a proper reception of truth. The word of God, being inspirei, is, of course, infallible as its Author. He who “cannot lie” dictated it, and it cannot deceive us. He who knows all things imparts therein a wisdom which can never mislead us.We may rely upon it, therefore, with the most implicit confidence. And it is a cheering thought that amidst the darkness of this world, we have this light of heaven to illuminate our pathway—that amidst the wide waste of human destitution, we may have the heavenly manna of divire revelation and drink of that rock which has followed in all our wanderings since the time of Eden! How venerable those oracles, which were delivered in the very infancy of time! How perfect that finished record to which nothing can be added! How wonderful that volume, which is at once the oldest and the newest in the world-reaching to the remotest antiquity, yet forever widening in its revelations and influences, in the circle of human civilization and intelligence! “Simple as the language of a child,” says an esteemed writer,* it charms the most fastidious
* Sarah Stickney.
taste; mournful as the voice of grief, it reaches the highest pitch of exultation. Intelligible to the unlearned peasant, it supplies the critic and the sage with food for earnest thought. Silent and secret as the reproofs of conscience, it echoes beneath the vaulted dome of the cathedral and shakes the trembling multitudes. The last companion of the dying and destitute, it seals the bridal vow, and crowns the majesty of kings. Closed in the heedless grasp of the luxurious and the slothsul, it unfolds its awful record over the yawning grave. Sweet and gentle and consoling to the pure in heart, it thunders and threatens against the unawakened mind. Bright and joyous as the morning star to the benighted traveller, it rolls like the waters of the deluge over the path of him who wilfully mistakes his way. And, finally, adapting itself to every shade of human character, and to every grade of moral feeling, it instructs the ignorant, wuoes the gentle, consoles the afflicted, encourages the desponding, rouses the negligent, threatens the rebellious, strikes home the reprobate, and condemns the guilty.”
Amidst the controversies respecting the perspicuity of this sacred volume, to which I have adverted, men seem to have lost sight of the obvious truth, that this quality is always relative, A treatise upon any subject, which, to an intelligent mind, or one familiar with the subject, would be perfectly clear, would be incomprehensible to another not possessed of the same capacity or knowledge. A matter, which seems obscure upon slight and partial consideration, becomes perfectly evident when maturely examined. The degree of attention has, indeed, in all cases, much to do with the proper understanding of the objects both of sense and thought; and, in deciding upon the perspicuity of any work, we must duly consider the nature of the subject which it presents, and whether it demando a greater degree of attention than the subject itself requires and deserves. And as there are some subjects which address themselves to the reason or the fancy, while others have a special relation to the affections, we must also consider whether the proper kind of attention has been bestowed. He who considers, with cold philosophical abstraction, a subject which demands the warmest emotions of the heart, will be as far from comprehending it truly, as he who wildly speculates upon a matter requiring the most vigorous intellectual analysis, will be from the discovery of the truth he seeks.
The perspieuity of the scriptures, then, may scarcely be made with propriety a matter of discussion. Being the dictates of inspiration, they are necessarily perfect in this as in every other respect. Paying due regard to the nature of the subjects which they treat,