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CIRCUMCISION, AS THE INITIATORY SACRAMENT OF
THE OLD DISPENSATION, CONSIDERED IN RELATION TO THIS ARGUMENT.
It is generally allowed, (at least by those who oppose us in this controversy,) that circumcision, under the old dispensation, was analogous in many respects to baptism under the New Testament: and indeed our most conclusive, and, I am apt to think, unanswerable arguments for the praetice of infant-baptism arise from this analogy.1_Was circumcision an intended intimation that man, as sprung from fallen Adam by natural generation, was depraved; and that his natural depravity must be mortified, in order to his becoming the covenanted and accepted worshipper and servant of God? Even so baptism shews that we are naturally unclean and polluted ; and must be cleansed from that natural pollution, in order to be admitted among the covenanted people of God. Was the circumcision of the flesh an outward sign of the « circumcision of the heart to love the Lord ? ”2 Baptism is the outward and visible sign of the baptism, or regeneration, of the heart, by which we are brought to love God and his holy truth and will.3 Was circumcision, to believers, “ the seal
· See Notes, Family Bible, Gen. xvii. Matt. xxviii, 19, 20. Rom. xi. 16–21. I Cor. vii, 10–14. · Deut. xxx. 6.
Rom. iv, 11.
“ of the righteousness of faith ?” So confessedly is baptism, when rightly received. Were the infants of God's professed people circumcised, by his express appointment?
All Pædobaptists contend that the infants of Christians ought to be baptized ; and that otherwise a restriction would have been requisite in the command to “make disciples of “all nations, baptizing them in the name of the “ Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Did some, as Abraham, receive circumcision subsequently to faith ; and others believe subsequently to circumcision; and were others indeed circumcised, but without ever believing, without ever receiving the circumcision of the heart? So it is in the case of baptized Christians. Were even the men of Abraham's household circumcised, because a part of the visible church? We judge that the outward baptism also belongs to all members of the visible church ; the inward baptism, to true Christians alone. Were many circumcised in the flesh, but uncircumcised in heart? Many Christians also are baptized outwardly, but unbaptized in heart. And will not the whole argument of the apostle, about the Jews and circumcision, in the second chapter of Romans, equally apply to nominal Christians ?
To be unbaptized, as to outward baptism, and yet to have the heart renewed unto holiness, will still be far better than to be outwardly baptized, but not regenerated by the Holy Spirit : “For he is not a Christian who is one
outwardly, neither is that baptism which is out“ ward in the flesh; but he is a Christian who is
Jer. ix. 25, 26. Rom. ii. 28, 29.
one inwardly, and baptism is that of the heart, “ in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise “ is not of men, but of God.” 1
Now, if this be admitted, (and on what grounds can it be denied ?) all the exhortations, both of the ancient prophets, and of John the Baptist, and of our Lord and his apostles, before the public establishment of Christianity, were addressed to persons precisely circumstanced in this respect as nominal Christians are. They were by profession, and by circumcision, the people of God; and had all that benefit, whatever it were, or however termed, which inseparably attended circumcision. But, except as these ancient instructors grounded their arguments and exhortations to Jews on the oracles of God which were committed to them, in what respect do their addresses to Jews, when calling them to repentance, to conversion, and holiness, differ from their addresses to gentiles on the same subjects? Why then should we, in our exhortations, make any distinction between the baptized and the unbaptized.?
Rom. ii. 28, 29. iii. 1, 2.
Circumcision is expressly called ' a sacrament' in our Homilies. "And so was circumcision a sacrament, which'&c. Hom. of Com, Prayer and Sacraments.-J.S.
SCRIPTURES WHICH SPEAK OF REGENERATION, OR
IMPLY IT, DISTINCTLY CONSIDERED.
I SHALL now proceed to consider the several passages in the New Testament, which relate to this subject; and to examine the connexion in which they stand.
The word regeneration (Tadiyyeveria) occurs in the gospel of St. Matthew, probably with relation to another subject. In the day of the great restora'tion of all things, when the elect shall enter on a new life of unspeakable glory, even in that great and dreadful day, when the son of man shall sit upon the throne of his majesty to judge the quick ' and dead, &c.'2_The following explanation also is worthy of notice: ‘By which is there understood, 'the perfect renovation and restoration of our ' whole nature ; the complete abolition of sin and
death. The same word occurs in St. Paul's Epistle to Titus, in a passage which will shortly receive a particular consideration : 4 but it is found no where else in the New Testament; nor are there any words, corresponding to the English terms regenerate, unregenerate, or regenerated.
The expressions, “born of God," “begotten of “God,” “born of the Spirit,” “ born again,” are generally allowed to convey the same meaning, as
i Matt. xix. 28.
* Bp. Hall.
• Tit. ii. 5.
regenerate or regenerated; and are adduced in the argument by those engaged on one side, as well as the other, in this controversy. None of them occur in any part of the first three Gospels, but they are frequently used in the writings of St. John.-Speaking of “THE WORD,” he says, “He
came to his own, and his own received him not: “ but as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons of God, even to them “ that believe in his name ; which were born, not “ of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the “ will of man, but of God."! It is evident that external baptism was not here intended by being “born of God :" for the most remote intimation concerning it had not been given; and, in fact, it is “ of the will of man,” either that of the baptized person himself, or of him that presents an infant for baptism, and of him who in either case admits the person to be baptized, and administers the sacrament to him. Something originating from a higher source, and effected by a divine power, must be meant.?
Similar language is used by this evangelist in a connexion, and with circumstances, suited to render it peculiarly interesting and impressive. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a ruler and teacher of Israel, one of the great council of the nation, and a man of learning and distinction, convinced by our Lord's miracles that he was “a teacher come from God," came for the express purpose of conversing with him on the subject of religion. Yet, aware of the opprobrium to which this, if known, might expose
John i. 11-13.
* John üi. 8. 1 Cor. iü, 6,
, 7. Y