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thing formed is not to say to him that formed it, Why haft thou made me thus?
Taken in this sense then, not as referring to the personal election of individuals to Divine favour in exclusion of others, but to the election of nations to particular and temporary privileges, for the purpose of carrying into effect the great mystery of godliness for the more general benefit of mankind, the argument here made use of by the Apostle is plain, regular, and confiftent: and to press an argument beyond the fubje&t to which it was originally applied, is to take the way most likely to lead into error. [The Reader will see this subject more largely, and,
I flatter myself, more conclusively treated, in the
On the SACRAMENT of BAPTISM, considered as furnishing a Plea for Separation from the Church,
To the two pleas already advanced, a third is
to be added, respecting the SACRAMENT of BAPTISM; which, as it is administered in the church,
by fome maintained to be invalid, for the following reasons: First, because children are incapable of being subjects of it; and secondly, because, after the example of our SAVIOUR, who was baptized in Jordan, it ought to be administered by the immersion of
grown persons in a river. Did this plea stand upon firm ground, it ought, as relating to an essential service of the church, to have weight; but standing as it does, according to our ideas, on no foundation,
can, in our judgment, have no weight at all. But as this constitutes one of the master-prejudices against the church, it may be proper to give it some conlideration.
The ground upon which the first part of this plea stands, respects the incapacity of children to fulfil the conditions of the baptismal covenant.
But this argument, if it prove any thing in the case, proves too much. For if no persons are to be baptized who are incapable of fulfilling the conditions of baptism, our Saviour himself was, of all others, the most incapable of baptism. The baptism of John was a baptism unto repent
“ He came (we read) preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of fins.”
But our blessed Saviour had no sins to repent of. He was “the Lamb of God without spot.” On this account we find John refusing to baptize our SAVIOUR, considering him an improper subject for the ordinance. “ I have need to be baptized of thee, (says the baptist) and comest thou to me;" But our SAVIOUR, by his answer, convinced him, that though he had no fins to repent of, yet some other end was to be answered by his being baptized. “Suffer it to be so now, (fays CHRIST) for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Matt. ii. 15.
In like manner infants, though incapable of some of the ends of baptism, are not incapable of all. They cannot, it is true, make profession either of their faith or repentance; because they cannot understand what is meant by the one, nor are they in want of the other; having no actual sins to repent of. But, as infants, they are capable of receiving a sign of God's grace and favour. They are capable, for instance, of being admitted into the communion of the Christian church, and of having the privileges of the Gospel covenant configned to them; although they are too young to understand the nature of that covenant, or perform the duties enjoined upon its members. In a word, they are capable of being washed from their original corruption, and of receiving the sign of their restoration to God's grace; though they may not at the time be capable of understanding the condition upon which it is suspended.
And if God has been pleased to regard the offspring of believing parents as holy from their birth, (as the Apostle hath plainly told us, 1 Cor. vii. 12) and thereby given them a present interest in, and sort of hereditary right to, those means which Christ appointed for the fanétification of his church; ought we not rather to rejoice, that God's covenant of mercy to man is bestowed with a latitude extending to persons of all ages, than seek to set limits to Divine goodness, by restraining it within the narrow