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say, that men by their iniquity may free themselves from being under the law of God once given to them. But truly I think, if we consider the context, we may plainly perceive the reason of this designation given to those children; and that is this : because God gave them those children, but, in the giving of them, reserved still his propriety in them, and made them not absolute lords over them, to dispose of them what way they pleased; but they were obliged to make use of them for God's honour, under whom they had their right to them. So that herein, not only cruelty, but robbing of God, and disposing of what was his, contrary to his revealed will, is objected to them. Now, view the context, and see how it favours this exposition, ver. 17. “ Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images.” vers. 18, 19. “Thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them." “My meat also which I gave thee, fine flower,” &c. ver. 22. “Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare." Nothing more ordinary with the wicked and idolaters, than to forget God's propriety in what they have, and thence to take liberty to dispose of it at their pleasure, and to thank their idols for them rather than God; therefore God will vindicate his propriety in what they have, that they may see their sin, in abusing God's gifts to them towards his dishonour. Hos. ii. 5. “I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my
drink." ver. 8. “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil,—which they prepared to Baal.” Ver. 9. “Therefore will ltake away my corn,-my wine,-my wool, and my flax."
VII. The seventh argument is taken from the following absurdities, that are supposed to accompany our doctrine.
1st, Families, parishes, &c. should soon be paganized. ANSWER. Fiat justitia, et ruat mundus. A man, say some, had better be a beast than like a beast. Sure I am, it had been telling some they had never been baptized, nor acknowledged to be church members. But truly I think the quite contrary would follow most probably, viz. that this would be a mean to bring them to be visibly christianized, as was above declared. It is truly a sad matter that people have nothing but their baptism to discern them from pagans. I confess, if the church should give over all dealing with them, there were some shew for the absurdity, or rather bad consequence, before mentioned; but while it is still the church's duty to preach to them in order to their conversion, there is no reason for it; yea, if it were so, by all probability, preaching would have more influence on them than now it hath. Though I dare not say, it is more for the honour of Christ to have no more in his visible kingdom than only such as are real believers, and rather to want close hypocrites than have them ; yet I confess it is my settled judgment, that as it is a greater credit for a master of a family to have a few servants of entire fame in his house, than to have a great many rogues ; so it is more for the honour of our holy head in the world, to have a few visible believers or saints, visible members of his church, than a great number of profligate wretches amongst others, members of the same.
2dly, Many infants of believing parents should be deprived of this ordinance. I answer, Baptism is not due coram ecclesia to the infants of any but visible believers : if therefore a parent be a believer, and yet not a visible believer, his child hath no right before the church to baptism ; for de occultis non judicat ecclesia. But whatever men may speak of people's going to heaven, the sound of their feet not being heard, it seems to be no very difficult question, Whether or not a person come to years, can be a real saint, and yet want a form of godliness ? “Although," says a grave author, * we cannot say, every one that hath a form of godliness, hath also the power of godliness; yet we may truly say, that he who hath not the form of godliness, hath not the power of godliness; though all be not gold that glistereth, yet all gold doth glister.”+ Our Lord tells us, “ By their fruits ye shall know them.” I shall add, that if a person be a real believer, and yet not appear so to be, he that judgeth him a visible believer, judgeth amiss, for he is not so.
3dly, As to the third, That ministers have no certain rule, &c.; it equally militates against the ordinary practice of admitting to, and debarring from the Lord's table those that are baptized, and not excommunicated; the same flourish of words might be used in that case. But I deny that we have no certain rule here, or that we stand on uncertainties. The rule is certain, because laid down in God's word, viz. That we are to take that person for a visible believer who makes a credible profession, and are to deal with him in the dispensing of the seals, as such. This rule we learn from all those Scriptures that shew us on what grounds ministers did baptize persons who offered themselves, Matt. iii. 6. Acts ii. 41. and viii. 12, 37. and such like. And what though the person whom we take for a visible
Mar. of Mod. Div. p. 169. † If thine affections appear not, thine affections are not.-Fenner Treat, of the Affections.
See Urs. Expl. Cat. p. 574. Baxter on Inf. Bapt. p. 93, &c.
believer be not a believer indeed, we are not mistaken in our judgment, unless we go to judge so as we have no warrant, that is, to judge him to be certainly a true believer: if men judge so of others, what wonder they be mistaken, when they arrogantly thrust themselves into that which the Lord hath not revealed. But we are to judge according to the rule, that a person making a credible profession, is probably a true believer, that is, certainly a visible believer: and herein we are not mistaken, though the person we so judge of be really “in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity;" for it is certain he appears and seems to be a true believer, though indeed he is stark naught before the Lord. As for that which is added, viz. “That one thinks so much enough to make one a visible believer, &c.;" ANSWER. The Lord hath plainly told us in his word whom he accounts real saints, and whom the church hath accounted visible saints. If we swervo from the rule in our application, it is no doubt our sin : who can help it, if men will needs close their eyes when the works of the flesh are manifest? It is certain we are commanded to separate the precious from the vile, to put difference betwixt the holy and profane, and to judge of the tree by its fruits. And for infallibility of our judgments in the application, as none will pretend to it now, so it can as little be had the other way as this way. Suppose it be, that such a parent was baptized ; that such a one hath had godly remote parents amongst us Gentiles; unless we go up to Noah or Adam, no greater certainty can be here than what we have from our eyes and ears, which doth not reach to an infallibility ; yea, for the most part, we have not so great certainty the other way, as in the way we plead for. But enough of this.
VIII. We come now to the last argument, viz. That the children of many openly scandalous and wicked parents, are the children of baptized church members. ANSWER. I conceive there is a vast difference betwixt an openly scandalous, and an openly wicked person ; so that they ought not to be confounded. David and Peter in the hour of temptation were openly scandalous, but not openly wicked persons.
And therefore as to many openly scandalous 1 yield the argument, concluding that the children of many openly scandalous ought to be baptized; but then there is ignoratio elenchi. Laying aside this then of many openly scandalous, and the argument being made to proceed only as to the openly wicked, I distinguish betwixt church members de jure, et de facto. It is plain we speak now of visible church members. Those that are church members de jure, are those who have not only a possession of church membership, but a right and lawful possession of it.
Those are church members de facto (only), which have a visible possession of that privilege, but no rightful possession; and therefore ought to be cast out and deprived of that possession. Now, such a possession can give no right either to the parent or child as to church privileges, for nullum jus fundatur in injuria: even as an usurper, though he hath the crown, yet neither he nor his have right to the revenues of the crown. Wherefore I distinguish the major of that argument. The children of baptized church members, who are visible members in point of right, ought to be baptized ; and thus the minor is false : the children of baptized church members, who are such only de facto, and not de jure, ought to be baptized, I deny. And in this sense only are the openly wicked (some of them, I say) baptized church members.
A MEDITATION ON THE DAY OF EXPIATION, AND THE FEAST OF
The day of expiation was the only anniversary stated fast and humiliation that God gave to the church of the Jews: it was a sorrowful day, for afflicting their souls ; so that he who ate anything that day, was liable to cutting off. The “ feast of tabernacles” was the most joyful feast they had ; so that the Jews say, that he who never saw the rejoicing at the drawing of water (used at this feast), never saw rejoicing all his life. The ceremonial law was the Jews' gospel; and the gospel to them and us is glory let down in words and syllables, the map of Immanuel's land, a looking-glass wherein we see heaven, a scheme and draught of the house with many mansions. The day of expiation represents to me the time of this life, the state of the saints in this world ; the feast of tabernacles, heaven.
The day of expiation went before the feast of tabernacles. Why should not our day of afflicting our souls go before our days of rejoicing? The Babylonians began their natural day at the sunrising, and so their night came last. The Jews began theirs at sunsetting, and so they had their night first. “ Woe to you that laugh now, yo shall weep."
Blessed are they that mourn now, they shall be comforted.” Let the evening and the morning make our day. If we have our morning first, the fears of the approaching night will make our sun go down at noon. If we will take the evening first, when in the darkest hour we cry,“ Watchman, what of the night ?" we will get the answer, “ The morning cometh.” It was the Psalmist's choice, Psal. xvii. 14. 15.
The day of expiation was but one day : the feast of tabernacles lasted seven days; which number of seven has gained the reputation of perfection. If the saint's life here be sorrowful, it is short. Our life here is but a day, with a morning, noon, and evening. And that sun in the heavens which runs such a rapid course, never standing still, either ascending or descending, seoms to be set in the heavens, to “teach us so to count our days, as to apply our hearts to wisdom." Eccl. i. 5. " hasteth to his place where he arose ;” (Heb.) panteth, as a man running with full speed, till almost out of breath. How quickly is the vain shew in which we walk at an end ? Solomon, (Eccl. iii.) will allow only "a time to be born, and a time to die," as if life were nothing but a skip out of the womb into the grave; the womb of mother earth (Job i. 21.) being ready to keep us, when falling out of the womb of the mother that conceived us. No wonder our weeping and crying, wherewith we come into the world out of our mother's womb, continue till we return thither; there being scarce time betwixt the two to dry our cheeks. But, as these flies bred by the river Hypanis in Seythia, we are bred in the morning, winged at noon, and dead at night. Much need to fly while our wings last. If our affliction be grievous, it will not last. Nay, but the apostle, comparing our affliction with the weight of glory, will not allow it any weight, 2 Cor. iy. 17. where he calls it (Gr.) That light thing of our affliction ; light, not only in respect of weight, but swiftness; that haste-like thing of our affliction, which in a moment skips away. This should correct the petty time-eternities that we make to ourselves in our affliction, Psal. xiii. 1. Nay, our“ weeping endures but a night,” Psal. xxx. 5. The feast comes in the morning, Psal. xvii. ult. O but the feast lasts long? what shall or can we say of eternity, that everlasting “Sabbatism that remains to the people of God;" that morning that knoweth no night; that ocean that knoweth no shore ?
There were but four free days intervening betwixt the day of expiation and the feast of tabernacles; the former being on the 10th, the latter on the 15th day of the seventh month, Lev. xxiii. 27. 34. By what time the greatest affliction sits down with us, the greatest joy knocks at the door. O quick harvest of glory! O hot seed of tears that so quickly spring up, and so suddenly bow their heads with that weight of glory on them ! to see bottles of tears turned, and that so quickly, into rivers of pleasures, wonderful ! Surely there is need of faith in our religion, to believe super-rational mysteries.