Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 9

Chapter IX
     The Paedobaptist invariably bases his authority for infant baptism on the covenant of Circumcision as found in Genesis 17 (Acts. 7:8), failing to distinguish between it and the Gospel covenant of Genesis 12:3. Genesis 17 is said to be the New and Everlasting Covenant under which we are saved, and that baptism comes in the place of cir­cumcision. The argument is about as follows: (1) The covenant with Abraham is the Covenant of Grace, therefore it did not belong to the Jewish dispensation, and did not pass away with it. (2) The covenant confessedly embraced believers, AND THEIR INFANT CHILDREN, and since it remains unchanged it embraces them still. (3) All who were in the covenant had a right to its seal, and those embraced in it now have the same right. And since professed believers AND THEIR INFANT CHILDREN did receive the seal of the covenant by express command of God, the same characters must receive it still. (4) As circumcision was the first seal, and was administered to professed believers AND THEIR INFANT CHILDREN, so baptism is now the seal and must be administered to the same characters. Or, (1) The Abrahamic covenant was and is the Covenant of Grace; and the Church of God, as a people in covenant with Him, was organized on this covenant. (2) As the Church was organized on this covenant, it embraced in its membership all who were embraced in the covenant; namely, professed believers AND THEIR INFANT CHILDREN. (3) The Christian Church stands on the same covenant and is identical with the Abrahamic Church, and embraces the same characters in its membership; viz. -- professed believers AND THEIR INFANT CHILDREN, (4) All embraced in the covenant and in the Church membership are entitled to the initiatory rite, and since professed believers and THEIR INFANT CHILDREN; did receive circumcision, the first initiatory rite, the same characters, being still embraced in the same covenant, have a right to baptism, which is now the initiatory rite.
     Christian baptism is not founded on the covenant of Circumcision which was peculiar to the natural seed of Abraham, but on that Gospel covenant which extends the blessing of Abraham to his spiritual seed of all nations. Accordingly, when that ancient Gospel covenant of promise came to be actually ratified in the blood of Christ, the peculiar covenant of Circumcision with the natural seed of Abraham was set aside, and baptism was appointed to be administered to all, whether Jews or Gentiles, males or females, who appeared to be his spiritual seed by faith in Christ, but to none else.
     We would agree that baptism belongs to the true spiritual Israel of God, even as circumcision belonged to the natural Israel of God, provided one keeps clear and consistent the distinction between the typical and the antitypical Israel; namely, the former are born after the flesh, and the latter of the Spirit. It is admitted that circumcision, as well as all the other carnal and typical institutions of the Old Testament, had a spiritual or mystical meaning, which applied to all the spiritual seed of Abraham, even as it had also a plain and literal meaning as applicable to all his fleshly seed. But this affords no argument for infant sprinkling, for baptism has not a twofold meaning like circumcision, a letter and a spirit, but rather it is a sign of spiritual blessings only, and therefore belongs to none but those who appear to be the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith. We would have no objection to the sentiment, that these two ordinances bear some general analogy to each other, if it is stated that, as under the Old Testament circumcision belonged to all the natural seed of Abraham who were known to be such in infancy by their fleshly birth, so under the New Testa­ment baptism belongs to all the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith in Christ, who are known to be such by their profession of that faith.
     We do not agree that baptism is the same thing to the true Israel that circumcision was to the typical Israel for the .following reasons: (1) Circumcision was appointed for all the male seed of Abraham without exception (Gen. 17:10-15). But baptism is appointed for none upon any
such grounds, but for those only who believe, or appear personally to be the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith in Christ Jesus. (2) Circumcision belonged to a peculiar covenant with the natural posterity of Abraham. It was a token of that covenant in their flesh; a mark of their national distinction and separation from all other people; and hence they are denominated "the circumcision" (Rom. 4:9). But baptism belongs to the New Covenant, which has set aside the distinction of Jew and Gentile, and extends the spiritual blessing of Abraham to his spiritual seed of all nations. (3) Circumcision was restricted to males (Gen. 17:10). But baptism is to be administered to all who believe, both men and women {Acts 8:12), for male and female are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:26). (4) Circumcision was annexed to the grant or the earthly inheritance (Gen. 17:8), and was a token of heirship in those temporal bless­ings which were promised to Abraham and his natural seed. But baptism has no respect to anything of a secular or temporal nature, but represents or conrirms to believers the spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings of the New Covenant. (5) Circumcision laid the subjects of it under obligation to conform to the whole system of Judaism as contained in the Mosaic Law (Gal. 5:3), which left all those who sought to be justified by it under the curse (Gal. 3:10). But baptism represents the believer's freedom f'rom that yoke of bondage, his deliverance from the curse, and his justification by faith in Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness; while it engages him to die unto sin, and walk in newness of life, as being under law to Christ.
     According to the rule of judging as found in 2 Corin­thians 5:16 the apostles acknowledged none of Abraham's natural offspring as his spiritual seed but believers, who were but a remnant of them (Rom. 11:5), and by the same rule, they regarded Gentile believers as the spiritual seed of Abraham though the natural seed of heathens (Gal. 3:7, 29). If therefore none of believing Abraham's natural posterity were known or acknowledged by the apostles as his spiritual seed, but those of them who appeared to be new creatures and walked in the of steps of his faith (Rom. 4:11, 12), by what rule are we to esteem the infant natural seed of believers to be the spiritual seed, of whose faith and regeneration we cannot possibly have the slightest evidence?
     Moreover, the apostle Paul shows in Romans 4 that Abraham was not justified by the covenant of Circumcision, but altogether independent of it, and while he was in uncircumcision, even 24 years before it was given; and that he received the sign circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith which his had in his uncircumcised state. On this he grounds his argument, that neither Jew nor Gentile are justified either by circumcision or the works of the law, but only by faith, as Abraham himself was (Rom. 4:3-5; 23-25). Now if Abraham was not justi­fied by the covenant of Circumcision, but 24 years previous to and independent of it, how can it be the sane for substance with the Gospel covenant by which alone sinners can be justified?
     To substitute infant sprinkling for believer's bap­tism is to unite the church and the world. It is the prolific source of an unregenerated church membership, and thus produces an unscriptural ecclesiology. Surely, as a Paedoptists practice an uncommanded ceremony of sprinkling instead of baptism -- on unscriptural subjects of infants of on believers -- their churches can lay no claim to conformity to the New Testament standard of church organization. Thus the failure to distinguish between the Gospel covenant CONFIRMED to Abraham and his spiritual seed of all nations, and the covenant of Circumcision MADE with Abraham and his fleshly seed of of the nation of Israel is the source of an unscriptural ecclesiology, wherein attendance to these things would have prevented the great est division of all in Protestantism over baptism.

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