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they had borrowed this practice from the Christians, whom they so much detested and persecuted,' their own account is the more credible, that the custom of baptizing infant proselytes existed before the time of Christ.
But let the Jewish authors on this subject speak for themselves. Maimonides, confessedly one of the most learned among all the Jewish writers, says: “There are three things, by which the Israelites entered into covenant with God, circumcision, BAPTISM and sacrifice. Baptism was practised IN THE DESERT BEFORE THE GIVING OF THE LAW.
For God said to Moses, sanctify them to day and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes.
“The same practice also existed in later times : for circumcision, BAPTISM and a voluntary offering were required of every gentile, who assumed the vows and entered into the covenant to obey the law and to take refuge under the wings of the divine majesty."
As to the baptism of the children of proselytes, Jewish writers testify that it was the prevailing custom.
< Children," says Rabbi Hona," (Talmude Chetuboth, Perek 1.)" are baptiz
1 In the Dissertat. Epicteti, published by Arrian, a Greek historian of the second century, the term, Bebauuevos (baptized) signifies a Jewish proselyte.
2 In his treatise called Issure Biah, Perek 13. Tria sunt, per quæ fædus cum Deo inivit Israel, circumcisio, baptismus et sacrifici
Baptismo usi sunt in eremo ante dataın legem: Jehova enim edixit Mosi, sanctifices eos hodie, et cras, et lavent vestimentum suum (Ex. 19: 10.) Ita etiam fit in temporis progressu.
Circumcisio enim, et baptismus, et munus voluntarium requirebatur ab ethnico quocunque, cui erat in votis fædus inire, sub alas divinæ magestatis seipsum obtegere, et legis jugum suscipere.
3 Parvulum baptizant ex instituto consistorii.-Si pater ei non fuerit, velit autem mater ut fiat proselytus, baptizatur actutum, quia ci
ed by direction of the Consistory.”-If a child have no father, but his mother desires that he should be received as a proselyte, he is baptized immediately, because without circumcision and baptism, no one can be a proselyte.” “But what benefit," (says the Talmudic text) “ can thence arise to him, as he is wholly ignorant of the act ? Tradition informs us that privileges have been conferred on those who were ignorant of their nature."
Moreover, Maimonides says, If an Israelite finds a gentile boy or infant, and baptize him—he is thenceforward regarded as a proselyte.
Again,” “If a woman be baptized whilst in a state of gravitation, and be received into the number of the proselytes, there is no necessity for baptizing her infant when it is born.”
“These and other testimonies, remarks the learned and excellent Dr Lightfoot, render it morally certain that not only the baptism of adult proselytes, but also of their infants, was customary among the Jews before the time of John. They also demonstrate, why so little is said in the New Testament, concerning the mode and subjects of baptism ; namely, because baptism itself, and the circumstances connected with it, were so perfectly well understood before.”'3
Under these circumstances it is evident, that the Jews could not possibly have understood the general language of our
tra circumcisum præputium et Babtismum collatum, proselytus pullus fit.—Quod beneficium ei atque privilegium inde oriatur, quantumvis id totus igporet.— Traditione accepimus, collata fuisse privilegia hominibus eorum prorsus nesciis.
1 Si Israelita ethnicum parvulum, seu infantem reperiat et repertum-baptizet, ecce proselytus continus evadit.
2 Si mulier, dum gravida fuerit, baptizetur, atque in proselytorum numerum ascribatur, nihil opus erit infante, cum natus fuerit, bapti
See Lightfooti Opera, Tom. I. p. 390. 391. 392. edit. Fanequersecund.
Saviour, as excluding children from baptism. On the contrary, as they knew, that God had explicitly required the admission of children ; as they knew, that the covenant, by virtue of which they were received, extended to all generations; as they knew that children had been admitted from the time of Abraham till their day, a period of nearly two thousand years; and had never heard of a church from which they were excluded; we are authorized in laying down the following two positions as incontestably evident: a) That if the Saviour designed to convey the idea of so novel and important an alteration as the exclusion of children would have been, he must necessarily have given an explicit statement on the subject.
b) That, under these circumstances, an explicit command for the continuance of infant membership, would have been as superfluous and unnatural as a similar precept for adult membership. Accordingly, the blessed Saviour, who is ever consistent with himself, uses language which, whilst it does not specify males, females or children, fairly embraces them all.
The utmost that can reasonably be expected in this case is, that the Scriptures, whenever they do mention the subject of baptism, would use language consistent with its application to children as well as to adults. But the declarations of Scripture are not only consistent with infant baptism, there are passages which evidently imply this practice, and even some in which it is expressly stated, that on the profession of faith by the heads of families, they and their whole households were baptized.
1. We begin with the testimony of our Saviour himself, Mark 10: 14. “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them (the disciples), suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” It is well known to those acquainted with the phraseology of the New Testament, that the expressions “ kingdom of God” and “ kingdom of heaven,” are familiarly
1 βασιλεια του θεου-του ουρανου.
used to designate the church of God under the New Testament economy. Thus John the Baptist preached, saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It will not be supposed that heaven was literally descending to the earth and had almost arrived amongst us; but the Saviour evidently meant, that the time for remodelling his church into its New Testament form was at hand. Accordingly, in the above passage, his meaning evidently is: suffer these little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such also shall my church consist. Nor could he have meant,“ my church shall consist of such adults as have a childlike disposition ;" for that would have been no reason for his wishing actual children to be brought to him.
2. The next passage is the declaration of Paul, “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean,” but now are they holy. It is admitted by all, that the word holy' has two generic significations in Scripture, consecrated or set apart to the service of God, and moral purity. In the former, which is its primary sense, it is applied to temples, cities, priesthood, Jewish nation, days, &c. Thus the term is applied to the Jewish nations in the midst of their corruption, and by some of the Rabbins, to their most profligate kings. Now, in the passage under consideration, the latter signification is inapplicable, for what could be more absurd than the supposition that moral purity is propagated by natural generation ? The former must therefore be its import, which moreover harmonizes fully with the context. The apostle is discussing the rela
11 Cor. 7: 14. 2 úylos, wie
3 Matth. 4: 5. The devil taketh him up into the holy city. 24: 15. 27:53. Acts 6: 13. 7:33. Rom. 11: 16. Levit. 20:26. Dan. 8: 24. “ And he shall destroy the mighty, and the holy people.” Matth. 7: 6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs. Luke 2: 23. “ Every first born male shall be called holy to the Lord.”
tion of marriage to the church, and supposes the following case. A Corinthian Christian might say : “I perceive that the children of my believing neighbours are regarded as holy, that is, consecrated to God, received as belonging to the church, and my unbelieving neighbours and their children are declared unclean together, not belonging to the church or holy people of God: what is to become of my children? I indeed, am a believer, but wife husband is an unbeliever : are my children to be regarded as holy unto God, or not?” The apostle answers ; God has determined that the believing party shall so sanctify, or overrule the relation of the other to God, that their mutual children by virtue of the right of the believing party, shall be regarded as holy to God, that is, as belonging to his church or people.
3. The declaration of Peter :1 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,-For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (to a knowledge of the gospel). But, was there any particular promise, known among the Jews as the promise ? O Yes! The son of Abraham will answer, “ that promise which God made to father Abraham, that he would be a God to him and his seed after him, and that they should be his people forever : the promise of eternal life through the Saviour, the covenant on the basis of which we the Jewish people, both parents and children, are separated from other nations as the professing people of God. This is the promise, and we all understand what it means.” Well, this promise, says Peter, is continued unto you now under the New Testament dispensation, as well as under the old, and not to you only whom I am addressing, but also to your children. What can be plainer ?
4. But in addition to all this evidence, there are several in