« VorigeDoorgaan »
children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“From this, we have a right to infer that Christ considered the little child a more meet disciple of his kingdom than any of his adult followers. And lest this humble pattern should be undervalued, he adds, • Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.'
“For myself,” he continued, “were I the veriest believer of the Baptist doctrines, I should not dare despise, or in any wise underrate, the baptism of an infant, were there no other portion of Holy Writ in proof of the membership of children of the Christian Church.”
“ If there were as clear evidence of the baptism of children as of their blessing and reception to Christ's favor, it would be more satisfactory to me,” said Israel. “I have thought these passages inculcated a lesson of humility to all Christians, however eminent, rather than the obligation of the administration of a rite to children like those other words of Christ, • Whosoever will be greatest among you, let him be as the younger.""
" "We do find, however," said the teacher, “that Lydia and her household were baptized, although no mention is made of any but herself being a believer ; • whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.' After their baptism, she said, “If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord (not us), come into my house and
abide there.' Here it appears that she bore the responsibility of the faith of all her household. Had all of these been adults and capable of an independent act of faith, she, a woman of those days, would not have used this language. The household of Stephanas was also baptized. Paul said unto the jailer, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thine house.' As he had then seen only the jailer, he could not have known whether his household included any children too young to understand the faith he afterwards preached to them. The condition of the salvation of his household was only his own faith.”
“If you bring out so much stress upon the faith of parents and heads of families, where is the encouragement for the children of the evil and untoward generation?” inquired a member of the class.
“St. Paul to the Ephesians answers your question,” said the teacher, “in the second chapter, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth verses : · Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands, that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. ”
“I remember being present at the funeral of an infant, at which a minister of your communion officiated,” spoke Israel, “and that, in his address to the mourners, he offered the consolation of the safety of
their departed one, since it was the child of baptized believers. It occurred to me then, ought there to be any doubt respecting the salvation of an infant of the unbaptized unbelievers. May I ask your opinion upon this question?"
“ It is not for me or any other to pronounce who is safe and who is not,” answered the clergyman; “yet we are permitted, with all saints, to search the Scriptures for the grounds of our faith. Paul says, * For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.' Christ died for all, that all through him might be saved. All are therefore safe who do not refuse to accept the provisions of the efficacy of his death - the salvation through him.
- The infant cannot choose nor refuse. He is therefore safe, as a member of the whole family of God. I do not recognize any distinction between the infants of the Circumcision or the Uncircumcision - the church or the world. But I am only an individual, not the exponent of the whole of my church.”
Here the session ended.
THE BAPTISM BY ASPERSION.
That afternoon, in the church, Israel witnessed the baptism of children. After the ordinary preliminary exercises, the minister descended the pulpit steps and stood near the table, on which was a small silver basin containing water. A father and mother came forward, the former holding an infant of months, while the mother led a little boy, of apparently three years.
These persons were of a sober countenance, and had an expression of undoubting belief in the act in which they were engaging. They seemed to realize the peculiar blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. The curse contained in the words, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” was causeless to them in this baptism.
The infant wore a long dress of white cashmere, wrought heavily with white silk; the little boy, a blue coat, much braided. The first reminded Israel of the cherub of cunning work in the Tabernacle; the other, of Hannah's child, who appeared in the temple in a new coat.
And as of old did God promise to meet His people and commune with them from above the mercy-seat, and between the cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, now did His presence appear to come between these children and meet their parents with all in that congregation who, in like manner, believed.
The officiating clergyman, who looked like a reverend man of wisdom, addressed a few words to the parents upon their duty and obligation as persons responsible for the Christian nurture of their children
the current of which words was somewhat marred by the ripple of wailing made by the babe. These discords faithfully represented the earthy element in every mundane scene, however heavenly and beautiful.
Israel said to himself, “The baby has been eating from the dish at the feast of Clodius, which was made of the costliest singing-birds.”
The minister took the infant in his own arms, and having exchanged words with the father in a low voice, placed water upon the forehead of the babe and said, “Harriet Newell Payson, I baptize you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
The little boy was then baptized by the name of Edwards Theodore. Israel noticed that he was very fair, with light, delicate locks falling upon his waxen neck. His unquestioning blue eyes looked like myrtle .blossoms. He seemed like a young ear of corn which ripens among the white mulberry shades of Padua.
Until this moment, he had not observed from his position another scene, in the background of this picture. There now drew near a woman advanced in years, into whose bruised hand the Lord had put the cup of trembling. She wore deep mourning,