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three first centuries ; yet we cannot suppose it was possible to have introduced it, without raising any controversy, or dispute about it among christians. If it was an innovation, and error, it must have been introduced gradually, and by means of preaching, conversing, and disputing. All innovations, errors, and heresies, are always introduced by some of these methods. No body, or bodies of men ever changed either their political, or religious sentiments all at once, without warm and lengthy disputes. This however we know was the case with the errors and heresies which corrupted and disturbed the churches, in the early ages of christianity. The errors introduced by Sabellius, Arius, and Pelagius, excited great commotions, as well as long and warm disputes in the churches of Christ. And if infant baptism had been an innovation, and a corruption of one of the peculiar ordinances of the Gospel, it could not have been introduced, in those early times among christians, without raising sim¡lar disputes, commotions, and divisions. But strange to say ! The pen of history has not transmitted to us the least intimation of any public dispute about the doctrine of infant baptism ; though it has recorded a dispute of far less consequence, respecting the proper time of baptizing infants. Dr. Mosheim has not only mentioned the principal errors and heresies which prevailed in the first, second, and third century; but even given us the names of the most noted heretics, and of their most noted antagonists. He has related the times when, and the places where those errors and here. sies took their rise ; and in several instances, marked the times, and means of their decline, and extinction. In particular he tells us when,and where, and by whom, the disputes about the Trinity, about the ļaw of Moses, about the personal reign of Christ on earth, about the baptism of heretics, and about universal salvation, were carried on in the four first centuries, the very period when our brethren say, infant baptism must have been introduced, if it were not of divine original. But yet this same judicious and faithful historian, never tells us when, nor where, nor by whom infant baptisna was introduced into the church of Christ after the days of his apostles ; nor says a single word about the cause, or consequences of such a great and interesting innovation. Interesting I say, because, if infant baptism had been an innovation, it would have had a greater tendency to disturb the peace and unity of the churches, than any other innovation which took place in the primitive days of christianity.—The silence of all history upon these points, amounts to a moral certainty, that infant baptism was not introduced into the church of Christ, in any period of the three first centuries after the apostles; and of consequence that it was deriv. ed from the opinion and practice of the apostles themselves. If we derive the origin of infant baptism from this pure source, all sacred and profane history, respecting this subject, will appear plain and consistent, from Abraham to Christ, and from Christ to this day. A standing ordinance is calculated to carry its own evidence with it, as long as it exists. If the apostles were enjoined by Christ to baptize infants, their practice in baptizing them, was calculated to perpetuate the practice, from time to time, and from age to age, to the end of the world. This uninterrupted practice of infant baptism, therefore, carries its own evidence, of its divine original.
Our brethren, the baptists, cannot, at best, trace their history any higher than the eleventh century.They imagine that their predecessors are to be found in the witnesses, commonly called Albigenses, and Waldenses, who at this time, resisted with a noble independence of mind, the corruptions of Rome. It is not improbable that some of them called in question the right of infant baptism, But it is not made evident that they did generally. Indeed there is much evidence that they did not. As much as the character of this people is to be appreciated, their opinions are not to be received as authority. They were a sect, and sects are ever prone to run into extremes. By opposing perversions of truth, they are apt to become perverters of it themselves, in a contrary extreme. By resisting the abuses of an institution, they are liable to go into the denial of the institution itself. They sel. dom stop at the exact boundaries of truth. These remarks apply to this people. Dr. Mosheim, who cer: tainly had no prejudices against them, observes thuş respecting them. Eccles. History, Volume III. page 545. “It must indeed be acknowledged, that they who undertook, with such zeal and ardor, the reformation of the Church, were not, for the most part, equal to this arduous and important enterprize ; and that by avoiding, with more vehemence than circumspection, certain abuses, and defects, they rushed unhappily into the opposite extremes. Hence their attempts of reformation, even where they were successful, were extremely imperfect, and produced little more than a motley mixture of truth and falsehood, of wisdom and indiscretion, of which we might allege a multitude of examples. They treated with the utmost contempt, all the external parts of religious worship ; and aimed at nothing less than the total suppression of sacraments, churches, religious assemblies of every kind, and christian ministers of every order." I suspect that this picture is drawn in too unfavorable colors; but it shews that the opinions of these reformers are to be received with caution, and by no means as of authoriity.
The Doctor's idea of the origin of the baptists, he has expressed freely, in the following terms. Vol. IV.
“ The true origin of that sect, which ac. quired the denomination of the Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism, to those who came over to their communion, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is of consequence extremely difficult to be ascertained.” If thus bidden, and unascertainable, is it to be imagined, that the primitive christian church was of this description ? This testi. mony of Dr. Mosheim, has been produced as proof, that antipædobaptism was taught and transmitted by the apostles, and was the practice of the church in the
first agés. But surely it proves just the opposite, as far as it proves at all. And it is evident he himself meant to convey an opposite idea.
When the reformation broke out, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, no organized denomination, by the name of anabaptists, was to be heard of. Af. ter Luther had stepped forward to resist the corruptions of the hierarchy, a few ventured out from their hiding places, in Bohemia, and parts adjacent. But they ran into licentious opinions and great extrayagance of conduct, so that instead of aiding, they very much obstructed, and came near to subverting the Reformation.
It is an indisputable fact, that the Reformation, the most glorious triumph of truth over error, and religion over imposture, which the church has experienced since the days of the apostles, took place, not upon antipædobaptist, but upon pædobaptist principles. God interposed in signal favor to effectuate this event. The great promoters of it were men of eminent talents, learning, and piety; with whom the enthusiastic chiefs of anabaptism, the levellers of Munster, could bear no comparison. If therefore we are to consider prescription as proof, it will even in regard to modern times, be very much in favor of infant baptism.
It now presents itself as a question of great practi. cal moment, How are the infant children of the church to be treated, by the officers and adult members of it? I shall take leave here, before the question is directly answered, to make two or thee remarks, which it is hoped will not be without their advantage. As a general principle, it ought to be understood of the children
of the church, that they are the offspring of a matrimonial alliance wholly in the Lord. Such an alliance only is religious, is formed in faith, and is in agreement with the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ. Primitive Israel were forbidden to make any intermarriages with the idolatrous people around them. Their marriages were to be confined entirely to themselves. Deuteronomy vii. 3, 4. "Neither shalt thou make
marriages with them ; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other Gods ; so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” This law has all its force under the christian dispensation. It is founded in the essential difference there is, between the holy and the sinful character; and between the church, as a sanctified body, and the world. The church and the world are placed in a state of entire opposition to each other, and are proceeding to contrary destinies. The whole world lieth in wickedness. But the followers of Christ are called out of the world ; they are “a® chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that they should shew forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.” They are to be separated from the world as of this character. All the connex. ions they form are to comport with it. Hence Paul, in the 7th chapter of I. Corinthians, where he is treating professedly on the subject of marriage, when he comes to answer the question of the lawfulness of a christian's marrying, decides in the affirmative; but expressly directs, that it be only in the Lord. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Marriages formed upon unchristian principles are of the world, and have no connexion with the covenant of God. The root should be holy, that the branch may be holy. The fountain should be pure, or we have no warrant to expect that the stream will run clear.
Instead of being the fruit of a mere sensual intercourse, it ought to be understood, that the children of the church are conceived and brought forth in faith ; that God is in view; and that his glory, in the advàncement of Zion, is consulted. From their birth they ought to be considered as cast upon the bosom of the church as their common mother. All the adult members of the church, with their parents, as one united pious family, devoted to the single object of