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gain the more; unto the Jews I became as a Jew.... to them that are under the law as under the law.... to them that are without law, as without law; being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.... to the weak became I as weak.... I am made all things to all men.” x. 23. “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient." Gal. v. 13. "for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh; but by love serve one another." 2 Pet. ii. 19. "while they promise themselves liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption." 1 Cor. viii. 9. "take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak."
This appears to have been the sole motive for the command given to the churches, Acts xv. 28, 29. “to abstain from blood, and from things strangled;" namely, lest the Jews who were not yet sufficiently established in the faith should take offence. For that the abstinence from blood was purely ceremonial, is evident from the reason assigned Lev. xvii. 11. "the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls." Thus the eating of fat was forbidden by the law, vii. 23, &c. yet no one infers from hence that the use of fat is unlawful, this prohibition applying only to the sacrificial times: Acts x. 13, &c.
No regard, however, is to be paid to the scruples of the malicious or obstinate. Gal. ii. 4, 5. "and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." 1 Cor. xiv. 38. "if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." Christ was not deterred by the fear of giving offence to the Pharisees from defending the practice of his disciples in eating bread with unwashen hands. Matt. xv. 2, 3. and plucking the ears of corn, which it was considered unlawful to do on the sabbath-day, Luke vi. 1, &c. Nor would he have suffered a woman of condition to anoint his feet with precious ointment, and to wipe them with her hair, still less would he have vindicated and praised the action. John xii. 3, &c. neither would he have availed himself of the good offices and kindness of the women who ministered unto him whithersoever he went, if it were necessary on all occasions to satisfy the unreasonable scruples of malicious or
envious persons. Nay, we must withstand the opinions of the brethren themselves, if they are influenced by motives unworthy of the gospel. Gal. ii. 11., &c. "when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." Nor ought the weak believer to judge rashly of the liberty of a Christian brother whose faith is stronger than his own, but rather to give himself up to be instructed with the more willingness. Rom. xiv. 13. "let us not therefore judge one another any more."
Neither this reason, therefore, nor a pretended consideration for the weaker brethren, afford a sufficient warrant for those edicts of the magistrate which constrain believers, or deprive them in any respect of their religious liberty. For so the apostle argues 1 Cor. ix. 19. "though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all;" I was not made so by others, but became so of my own accord; free from all men, and consequently from the magistrate, in these matters at least. When the magistrate takes away this liberty, he takes away the gospel itself; he deprives the good and the bad indiscriminately of their privilege of free judgment, contrary to the spirit of the well known precept, Matt. xiii. 29, 30. "lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them: let both grow together until the harvest."
5 'I have shown that the civil power hath neither right, nor can do right, by forcing religious things: I will now show the wrong it doth, by violating the fundamental principle of the gospel, the new birthright of every true believer, Christian liberty.' A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prose Works, II. 539. Liberty, which is inseparable from Christian religion.' Ibid. 352.
6 None more cautious of giving scandal than St. Paul. Yet while he made himself servant to all, that he might gain the more, he made himself so of his own accord, was not made so by outward force, testifying at the same time that he was free from all men.' Ibid. 543.
Who against faith and conscience can be heard
Paradise Lost, XII. 528.
'Seeing then that in matters of religion, as hath been proved, none can judge or determine here on earth, no not church-governors themselves against the consciences of other believers, my inference is, or rather not mine, but our Saviour's own, that in those matters they neither can command or use constraint, lest they run rashly on a pernicious consequence,
CHAP. XXVIII.-OF THE EXTERNAL SEALING OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE, under the law and the gospel respectively, has been considered; we are now to speak of the SEALING OF THAT COVENANT, or rather of its representation under certain outward signs.
This representation, like the covenant itself and its manifestation, is common both to the law and the gospel: under the former it consisted in CIRCUMCISION and the PASSOVER ; under the latter it consists in BAPTISM and the SUPPER OF THE LORD. These ceremonies, particularly the two latter, are generally known by the name of SACRAMENTS.
A Sacrament is a visible sign ordained by God, whereby he sets his seal on believers in token of his saving grace, or of the satisfaction of Christ; and whereby we on our part testify our faith and obedience to God with a sincere heart and a grateful remembrance
Respecting CIRCUMCISION, compare Gen. xvii. 10, &c. "this is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you.' Rom. iv. 11, 12. "he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed unto them also; and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised." Deut. x. 16. "circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked." xxx. 6. "Jehovah thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God-." Jer. iv. 4. "circumcise yourselves to Jehovah,
forewarned in that parable, Matt. xiii. from the 29th to the 31st verse, lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them; let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares,' &c. A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. II. 535.
and take away the foreskins of your heart." Sometimes, by a similar figure, it signifies sanctification even under the gospel. Col. ii. 11. "in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ."
Subsequently, however, to the giving of the law circumcision seems to have typified the covenant of works. Rom. iv. 12. “the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only." ii. 25. "for circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision." Gal. v. 3. "I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." Hence it is said to have been given by Moses, John vii. 22, 23.
Respecting the PASSOVER, compare Exod. xii. 3, &c. "in the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house," &c. v. 13. "the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are, and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt," v. 15. seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread: even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses."
The passover typified the sacrifice of Christ, and the efficacy of the sprinkling of his blood for the salvation of such as celebrated the feast with purity of heart. John i. 29. “ John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." xix. 36. "these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken." 1 Cor. v. 7. "purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened: for even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.' Under the gospel, the first of the sacraments commonly so called IS BAPTISM, wherein THE BODIES OF BELIEVERS WHO ENGAGE THEMSELVES TO PURENESS OF LIFE, ARE IMMERSED IN RUNNING WATER, TO SIGNIFY THEIR REGENERATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THEIR UNION WITH CHRIST IN HIS DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION.
8 In profluentem aquam. By the admission of this word into the definition, it is evident that Milton attributed some importance to this circumstance, probably considering that the superior purity of running water
OF BELIEVERS. Matt. xxvii. 19. "teach all nations, baptizing them." Mark xvi. 15, 16. "preach the gospel.... he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." Acts viii. 36, 37. "what doth hinder me to be baptized?.. if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Eph. v. 26. "that he might cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." 1 Pet. iii. 21. "the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Hence it follows that infants are not to be baptized, inasmuch as they are incompetent to receive instruction, or to believe, or to enter into a covenant, or to promise or answer for themselves, or even to hear the word. For how can infants, who understand not the word, be purified thereby; any more than adults can receive edification by hearing an unknown language? For it is not that outward baptism, which purifies only the filth of the flesh, that saves us, but "the answer of a good conscience," as Peter testifies, of which infants are incapable. Besides, baptism is not merely a covenant, containing a certain stipulation on one side, with a corresponding engagement on the other, which in the case of an infant is impossible; but it is also a vow, and as such can neither be pronounced by infants, nor required of them. See Book II. Chap. iv. under the head of vows.
It is remarkable to what futile arguments those divines have recourse, who maintain the contrary opinion. They allege was peculiarly typical of the thing signified. Hence it appears that the same epithet employed in Paradise Lost, in a passage very similar to the present, is not merely a poetical ornament.
.Them who shall believe
Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign
For death, like that which the Redeemer died. XII. 441.
Tertullian concludes differently, arguing that any water which can be conveniently procured, is sufficient for the spirit of the ordinance. Nulla distinctio est mari quis an stagno, flumine an fonte, lacu an alveo diluatur; nec quidquam refert inter eos quos Johannes in Jordane, et quos Petrus in Tiberi tinxit; nisi et ille spado quem Philippus inter vias fortuita aqua tinxit, plus salutis aut minus retulit.' De Baptismo, IV.
9 For an answer to this, see Wall's Defence of his History of Infant Baptism, p. 243. and Whitby on Matt. iii. 16.